Tomorrow’s Post under construction

 

 

Granny W: More of the same

SE Asia: Cat 4 Typhoon Doksuri with 135kph winds causes major structural damage and flooding in Vietnam, 8 dead. ‘Tens of thousands’ of homes damaged. Now heading across Laos on a track to hit Mymanmar’s capital, Bangkok, head-on.Heavy rains from Doksuri have also affected Thailand,with flooding around Phuket. Most parts of the country have severe weather warnings.

Japan: Cat 4 Typhoon Talim has battered the southern Japanese archipelago and though weakening over higher ground is heading up the mainland. Widespread urban flooding around Tokyo. 100 thousand evacuated. Heavy rain causing landslips. Three dead, many injured. On 15 September the western eyewall of the typhoon was dumping nine inches of rain an hour.

Malaysia: Penang experiences record rainfall: major flooding. Fucking lunatics keep driving cars, bikes into 3ft of water and float away. No power stronger than human denial. Severe flood damage caused in rural West Sumatra.

Mexico: Surprise mini-typhoon, briefly Cat 1 Max brings flooding to Mexico’s west coast, particularly Acapulco, San Marcos and Catatlan. Not even an especially powerful storm, Max carried more rain than many an old-timer could remember ever experiencing.

Guatemala: “Mazatenango in Suchitepequez department recorded almost 300 mm of rain in 48 hours to 19 September. Local media say that levels of the Sis River in Mazatenango are dangerously high….Floods have affected areas of Petén, Suchitepéquez, Retalhuleu and San Marcos departments.” The country has experienced more than 250 incidents of flooding so far in 2017, with 21 deaths attributed.

Dominica: exceptionally heavy rains bring severe flash floods to the small island; on track this week for Cat. 5 (or more!) Maria. One death reported on Guadeloupe. Puerto Rico directly in its path but the superstorm – more powerful than Irma – is forecast to turn north and head up into the Atlantic without making landfall in the US. It’s so big however that many territories not directly hit, such as the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos islands – and eventually the Carolinas – will experience very strong winds, tidal surges and high levels of rainfall between now and the weekend.

Puerto Rico: “Hurricane Maria remains a category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph as it barrels over Puerto Rico.” … Flash flood warnings out for much of the island. “River levels are approaching or exceeding record levels according to data from the US Geological Survey. The Rio Grande de Manati near Ciales has broken record levels by almost a foot with much more rain to come.”

Argentina: widespread flooding affects beef market prices, with shortages developing. Many cattle drowned. Agricultural production is down by 25% after months of flooding.

Spain: Powerful thunderstorm suddenly forms and strikes beach resort of Alicante, with torrential rains, hurricane-force wind, thunder and lightning strikes. Big hail, streets flooded. Watch CEWN at 42′.30, eerie scene as street cafe furniture seems to move by itself.

Romania: ‘at least five killed and 30 injured’ in powerful storm that hit Timisoara on 17 September. Parts of the city trashed by cyclonic wind: terrifying scenes of destruction.

  • US wildfire costs for 2017 now exceed $2.2 billion.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #68/ Floodlist/ The Guardian

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The BogPo #650: A creature of habit… iPass, thanks… Granny Weatherwax: and it’s all change… (under construction, ready later)

“Blue Sky, shining on me, nothing but blue Sky do I see…” Murdochs most foul. (Guardian/AFP/Getty Images) With apologies to Al Jolson.

 

Public philosophy

“…From time to time I would calculate the cost and see that I was expending about one fifth of my annual income on my habit, and not even going to bed drunk.”

A creature of habit

Psychologists commit a grave category error if they believe that habits, unless corrected, are formed for life. Your Uncle Bogler’s, for example, come and go. They are none the less eccentric for that.

For several years, I have been obsessed with the idea of finding a perfectly round pebble on the local beach. I have bogld about this in the past.

Our often pebbly beach: Nature abhors human perfection. (Photo: The BogPo)

It is a beach that, as the tides wash inexorably up and down, makes its own pebbles from the soft alluvial shale cliffs further down the coast. Most are ‘dinosaur eggs’ – flattened ovoids, about five inches in length. But many come close to being pointless – in that they are almost, but never quite, round.

In six years of beachcombing with Hunzi, we have not found a perfectly round one, that would fit in every degree inside a circle drawn with pencil and compass. There is always some deformation: a point (no pun intended for once) upon which I have speculated how Nature abhors human ideas of perfection.

I have however found a few that, on a loose definition of round, come close.

And thus forgivingly taken, for reasons unknown even to myself, to placing precisely three small, almost perfectly round stones I found, in a pile on top of the circular chrome-steel flush mechanism on the lid of my toilet cistern.

In order to justify this admittedly odd behavior, I have defined it as sculpture worthy of entitling, and have christened it: ‘The Importance of Ritual’. (Especially in view of the necessity to maintain the order in which they are placed, the palest-coloured in the middle.)

My son in his derisory fashion, when he visits, insists on removing the pebbles to flush and then pointedly leaves them on the windowsill, much as he insists on turning on the central heating and leaving lights blazing in rooms he has just vacated, as if to say, okay, you crazy old man, but I am your future, not to be dictated to by the conventions of the fathers, most of all in this.

After he departs, with a sigh of relief I rearrange my little pile of stones on the cistern, my heart a little lighter. But it is not my only abiding fault.

Beginning at six o’clock, for the past few years I have also insisted on drinking a bottle of wine every evening.

Not half a bottle, two bottles or – pish-tush, and pshaw! – a single glass or two (In point of fact, the size of my wine glasses, two would easily be half a bottle.)

No, precisely one bottle.

Sometimes it is a struggle. You can tire of anything, even making money – or, in my case, spending it. There have been evenings when I found myself forcing down the last glassful, the resinous tannins sticking in my craw. But I have been determined to drain that damned container to the dregs, to put out another empty for the binman, and would go to bed constricting my oesophagus against the acid reflux, wary of stomach cancer, determined to buy a more expensively drinkable wine next time.

Except the binman won’t take glass, for health and safety reasons I suppose. So once the store of empties under my desk had grown to embarrassing proportions, leaving no room for my feet, I would bag them in old carrier bags kept for the purpose; and once the bags were full to the point where they were self-standing and no more could be squeezed in, they would be taken across from this, muh special shed, stored in the kitchen, until the store had grown to such embarrassing proportions people were falling over them, so that some could be put out in the front garden for passers-by to see and marvel at, from whence they would eventually I suppose on a three-month cycle (92 bottles, approximately) be carted off to the bottle bank.

From time to time I would calculate the cost and see that I was expending about one fifth of my annual income on my habit, and not even going to bed drunk. I kept hoping I might just stop, vowing every day to abandon the futility of it; and then would come five o’clock, half-past five, and I would recall that I had forgotten to buy dog food or coffee and rush back to the supermarket, where my inner alcoholic would find his way unerringly to the wine section.

It was last April 1st, All Fools’ Day, when Morrison’s store removed their handy neighbourhood bottle bank owing to thoughtless bastards littering the place up with broken bottles and splitting carrier bags spilling their contents over the ground, the noise and fights and motorists parking carelessly causing obstructions, nearby residents continually moaning about noise, when it first occurred to me that I could stop all this madness.

The nearest bottle bank was now more than a mile and a half in the opposite direction, out of town, in the domestic recycling part of the municipal waste management complex on the edge of the industrial park. The jobsworths who operate the site are public-sector, not ones for zero-hours (i.e. unlimited working) contracts: eagle-eyes are kept out for what householders put in which bins, vehicular entrance is tightly monitored and controlled, anything of value sold on, the whole operation confined to those unsociable daytime, non-holiday hours when anyone can be bothered to go to work.

They don’t cater to borderline alcoholics.

Now, I have patented and trademarked a simple, one-step programme for combating addictions: it’s called the ‘Just stop doing it!’ programme. Its advertising slogan is: ‘Don’t go whining at the Day Centre all evening, get a grip!’

You need to let the idea that you could just not be doing the thing that annoys everyone including you, is destroying your family, your workmates, your health and your bank balance, simmer for a while. It may take a month, two months or more. But once the idea has formed in your brain and fermented long enough, you will find yourself waking up one bleary-eyed morning thinking to yourself, ‘hey, I really don’t need to be doing that anymore!’ and just stop.

The monkey is off your back.

I know ‘Just stop doing it!’ works, because I used to be a 60-a-day man – none of your namby-pamby, niminy-pimminy low-tar efforts, I’m speaking French: Gitanes sans filtres – growing increasingly tired of it, until one day I woke up to find I had stopped smoking – that was thirty-seven years ago, and after one false restart for a couple of weeks when I saw a colleague smoking a birthday cigar, stupidly begged a puff and found myself on 20 cigars a day within a week, I’ve not been tempted since.

I’ve kept going by telling myself that when I’m sixty, sixty-five, seventy, I shall take up smoking again because I enjoyed it, actuarially it no longer presents much of a cancer threat and as a member of the species I’m no longer interested in or even capable of disseminating my genetic material, especially if it’s going to disarrange my pebbles like that.

So as I stare down my 68th birthday in two weeks time I have put smoking again on my list of ‘Things to do’, knowing that thereby I shall never get round to doing it. Basically I’m just a waste of precious oxygen; but more to the point, have you seen the price of a packet of fags lately? Blimey, they’re about 50 pence each!

And then, just this morning, I realized I am in the grip of another habit as deadly as morphine.

I like to have some chopped fruit and yoghurt sprinkled on top of my breakfast cereal. To this end I acquire from Morrison’s from day to day some blueberries or raspberries (still £2 for about 20 in a plastic tray!), and three bananas.

The bananas in supermarkets are never fully ripe, as we know, you have to put them on the windowsill for a couple of days before peeling one. And you know what?

Bananas in my view need to be especially arranged, in a certain way, just-so, three stacked on top of one another, all facing inwards…

On top of the radio.

‘What am I like?’, as the rhetorical saying goes.

What am I  like?

x

“On reading the world’s press as it genuflects to the latest miraculous revelation … one is struck by the thought that the most innovative feature of the new Christ-child is its bumsqueezing price.”

iPass, thanks

“In the UK, the 256GB iPhone X costs £1,149; across the Eurozone it’s even more, €1,319 (£1,186). In the US, meanwhile, it costs just $1,149 (£869.33) – a saving of almost £280. With Iceland’s WOWair offering return flights from London Gatwick to Newark for £278, it looks like you can pay for the cost of travel to New York with the savings on the iPhone.”Guardian, 15 September.

So, not including the cost of a couple of nights’ Airb&b on your stayover between flights, the fares to and from Gatwick, transit between New Jersey and New York City, iMeals and the lost wages from your zero-hours contract, assuming they’ll take you back after your four days’ ‘sick leave’, you can save an entire £2 off the price of your iPhone X, AND get clobbered by Customs for £173 VAT on your return!

But by golly, it’s worth it just to say you own a shiny pocket-size device with enough computing power to run a spaceflight mission to Mars, that sometimes recognizes your face (you could save £1,143 and buy a pocket-mirror?), on which if you live where I do you might be lucky enough to make or receive an actual phone call while standing outside in the road. (Not that you bought the phone for any purpose so mundane as making calls.)

On reading the world’s press as it genuflects to the latest miraculous revelation (doesn’t Apple put those apparitions of the Virgin Mary in the shade!) from Ensenora, one is struck by the thought that the most innovative feature of the new Christ-child is its bumsqueezing price.

One may easily imagine the Apple marketing department meeting on their floating clouds in the Blue Skies suite, acknowledging airily that while Tech have run out of any more marketable developments, the Faithful will undoubtedly go for a thousand-dollar price tag as the latest must-have extra.

Luckily there’s a new app available from the Apple store. It’s called Home Psychiatrist.

(Sent from my Android phone)

x

Stormy weather, with Granny Weatherwax

And it’s all change…

Is climate change making its presence increasingly felt, do you think, or is it just that the media is taking more notice of extreme weather events around the world? After all, floods and heatwaves are just as bad last year, and in 2015, 2012, 2005…. Just sayin’.

Pacific: Tropical Depression Norma has formed off the west coast of Mexico and is heading northwards, developing as a Cat 1 Typhoon aiming at the Baja peninsula by Monday. Tropical Storm 15E which started in the same place four days ago is stuck in the middle of the ocean, miles from anywhere, and going round in circles. TS Max, unreported until now on Weather Underground maps, seems to have sprung up out of nowhere and made landfall at Acapulco in Mexico, briefly strengthening within only a day to a Cat 1 hurricane before petering out again.

Asia: After killing four people in the Philippines and causing chest-deep flooding in Atimanon and Manila on Luzon island, Typhoon Doksuri (Marin) is tracking with heavy rainfall across central Vietnam towards Laos and has killed three more. Over 100,000 evacuated. With 140 mph winds, Category 4 Typhoon Talim has battered the southern archipelago, half-a-metre (52cm) of rainfall flooding the Okinawan capital Miyokajima, the worst storm in 50 years, and is heading northwards along the length of the main islands of Japan, where the higher ground will slow it to a Tropical Storm still bringing significant rainfall to cities in its path like Kyoto, Tokyo and Hiroshima.

Japan: Independently, Naru on the main island was flooded by a heavy rainstorm on the 12th. My Japanese isn’t good but it looks from the TV caption like they had 56cm of rain in 72 hours.

Atlantic: You tend not to hear a word about those Asian Pacific storms as long as the wind is blowing in the USA, but that’s geopolitics for you. Hurricane Harvey is still erratically looping-the-loop south of Bermuda but may head for New England as a weaker Tropical Storm after the weekend, pushing storm surges and a 24-foot swell up the coast ahead of it, from N. Carolina up to Nova Scotia; Tropical Depression 14 is forming off the African coast, near the Cape Verde islands, heading westwards but not now expected to become Hurricane Lee; more threatening is 96L, that might become TS, then possibly Hurricane Maria, the next Atlantic storm to hit the northern Caribbean and, possibly, Florida at the end of next week.

USA: What looks like the final death toll from Hurricane Irma: 69. In Hollywood, Florida, local and state officials are trying to understand how eight seniors ranging in ages from 71 to 99 died in stifling heat Wednesday at a nursing home, but power outage is thought to be the main reason: no aircon, no ventilators. Record flooding too in upstate Florida in the wake of H. Irma; powerful storm surge for Jacksonville, and up into Charleston, S. Carolina. Two dead in Georgia. Devastated Florida keys barred for a time to returning householders.

USA: Up in Oregon, where Portland had record temperatures until recently and the 50k-acre Eagle Creek fire is still burning, at altitude there’s a frost warning out for a minus 6C (20F) wintery snap, and a winter storm warning out too for neighboring Montana and Nebraska, with ‘significant amounts of snow’… 40 THOUSAND lightning bolts recorded in still broiling S. California in 48 hours, starting more fires; but little rain. Relief from heatwave expected soon.

Canada: in Alberta the ‘out-of-control’ Kenow Mountain wildfire has burned 33k acres, hundreds evacuated. State of emergency declared.  State governor says ‘We’re not out of the woods yet’. (No, seriously, he said that!)

Cuba: 10 confirmed dead in Hurricane Irma. North part of the island devastated. Parts of Havana still without power and running water.

Argentina: 10 MILLION hectares of agricultural land underwater in La Pampa and Buenos Aires regions after record rainfall. Thousands of rural villagers cut off.

Guatemala: hundreds affected by chest-deep floods in parts of the country. Severe flash flooding in Huehuetenango. Dimwits still trying to drive cars through 3ft of water.

Venezuela: Puerto Cabello; massive thunderstorm causes flash floods and river overflows.

Australia: New South Wales already experiencing 30 deg. C (high-80sF) -plus ‘early Spring’ heatwave.

Nigeria: Thousands of desperate villagers are fleeing floods in Kogi state as the Niger and other rivers burst their banks – capital Lokoji underwater – governor declares ‘dire’ humanitarian emergency.

Europe: With the Balkans across to Turkey still affected by severe high temperatures, there are thunderstorm warnings out for all of northern France and parts of Italy, with more heavy rain forecast and unspecified ‘coastal events’ warnings in the Balearic islands. Floods persisting around Livorno, Tuscany. It’s still raining here in western Britain in the wake of Atlantic Storm Aileen.

Arctic: Well, if you fancy a holiday that’s not too cold, Akureyri in the north of Iceland is still in the mid-60s F (18C). Most of the Arctic region is settling towards +5 deg. C, except northern Greenland where it’s already minus 15 to minus 20 deg. C. Bands of rain are shown drifting through the region, but no snow as yet. Smoke from Canadian wildfires is depositing alarming quanties of heat-absorbing soot over the icefields.

Curious facts:

“The weight of the torrential rains brought by Hurricane Harvey caused Houston to sink by 2 centimeters. Water weighs about a ton per cubic meter and the flooding was so widespread that it “flexed Earth’s crust”, NASA scientist Chris Milliner said.” – Arctic News, 8 Sept.

Wundergound/ Travel Alert/ Firstpost/ Climate and Extreme Weather News citing various sources: Accuweather, Al Jazeera, locals/ Arctic News.

 

 

 

In the sweet by-and-by. Here be Dragonnes. Granny W. writes… Diggers: Just Keep Digging.

Bye bye, it’s been lovely having you, come again soon!

 

“I broke my six-weeks-long abstinence from the nightly jar on Saturday, quaffing a passable Cabernet to wash away my tears over the ending of a curiously truncated run of Inspector Montalbano’s Sicilian mysteries”

In the sweet by-and-by

With a mild shock I check the date and realize it’s a week at least since my last Post to you, although I have had to amend that one several times owing to frequently changing news of Hurricane Irma, the most fibbed-about Atlantic Hurricane since YouTube began.

The extraordinary medieval ant-heap that is still Sicily today.

So you’ll be eager to hear that I awoke this morning once again transformed into a huge insect and can barely force myself to flip open the lid of this, the most annoying laptop of all time, to start communicating my thoughts to my Likers, Spammers, Followers, GCHQ and others.

This, muh severe depression, is possibly due to the weather. We have our own mini-Irma raging at the moment, strong gusty winds bringing occasional showers, the river running inches over the footpath, waves crashing on the Promenade. It’s positively cataclysmic. Apocalyptic, even. A monster to rival Trump. And the weather man didn’t even start forecasting it before it was upon us. It’s climate change, Jim, as we’re getting to know it.

More likely it’s because I broke my six-weeks-long abstinence from the nightly jar on Saturday, quaffing a passable Cabernet to wash away my tears over the ending of a curiously truncated run of Inspector Montalbano’s Sicilian mysteries on the BBC, with the spectacular native singing of the great Olivia Sellerio occasionally breaking in to the soundtrack; a voice to make an old man’s balls squeak.

The third and last episode of the run, supposedly a whole new series set in the extraordinary monochrome medieval ant-heap that is still Sicily today, showed up all the terrible flaws that make this show so watchable. (My only excuse for watching it is to brush-up my Italian. That, and there’s nothing else to look forward to on Saturday nights.)

The schizophrenia of the writing team usually means there’s quite a serious dramatic plot running alongside the tiresome opera buffo humor of Vigata’s improbably domestic-looking police station, its variously overcompetent or bungling denizens – the eccentricities of island life, the repeated use of the same recognisable locations, the obsessive fixations of ‘Commissario’ Salvo and his on-off relationship with the jealous Livia (in about her fourth incarnation).

This episode was no exception: a naked girl covered in blood stumbles dramatically in the middle of the night out of a huge cavern, crawls painfully into her car and drives erratically away, only to die from multiple internal injuries (having been gang-raped and knifed) in the courtyard of a large house in multiple occupancy, where no-one will admit to knowing her. What is she doing there? Who has done this to her, and why? Only the bachelor photographer on the fourth floor can say, but his alibi is cast.

As Salvo puzzles, Livia turns up on cue, via the airport bus (she lives in Genoa) to get in his way as usual, and a sad retired judge wandering alone on the beach arouses our curiosity. Is he connected to the mystery? An old case, perhaps? (No, as it turns out, he is just an unconnected sub-plot.)

So is it drug-gangs, vicious East European traffickers, the Cuffaros? (One of the two rival mafia clans Salvo has a deft way of coping with). He survives an assassination attempt, the introspective judge is conveniently burned to death in a housefire… the show’s clown, Station Sergeant Catarella (played by aging comedian, Angelo Russo) has resumed his annoying schtick of being unable to open Salvo’s office door without falling through it… and embarrassingly, Salvo’s former girl-buddy, the tall, wealthy, ice-cool Swedish blonde, Ingrid, whom we haven’t seen for a while, turns up at his seafront pad with a witness, looking well Botoxed.

So, to spoil the ending, we never really do find out whodunnit – the infuriating part of the BBC’s haphazard scheduling, it might have been ‘continued next week’. Yes, admittedly Salvo turns up at the home of a local bigwig he has identified from a birthmark spotted in a video of a Satanic orgy shot by the bachelor photographer who has been found in his car dead from a drug overdose he obviously hadn’t administered himself but managed to smuggle out copies of the DVD before being murdered, so it’s an ending of sorts, but not satisfactory.

As for keeping his promise to the cantankerous old coroner, the gluttonous and foul-mouthed Dottore Pasquano, played by Marcello Perracchio – an actor so ancient, he looks like he’s only days away from having to perform a postmortem on himself – to ‘get the ones who did this’, Salvo doesn’t, except by inference.

Another interrupted breakfast for Commissario Montalbano.

The plot left so many loose ends dangling in the wind, you felt the poor girl had been sacrificed to the Sky God. I fear for  the series, quite honestly, as several characters aren’t there anymore; while others have aged alarmingly, including Mimi – ‘Dottore’ Augello, Salvo’s vain and incompetent but dashingly handsome Lothario of a deputy, who looks about 75 nowadays and seems to have lost all interest in the proceedings – while Salvo himself, played by startling Mussolini-lookalike Luca Zingaretti, is never offscreen for more than five seconds. The format owes everything to Star Trek.

Still, I suppose if you have a 1970s-style TV show called ‘Inspector Montalbano’, you must expect it to be about our eponymous hero: his life, his loves, his finicky eating habits, his swims before breakfast (always interrupted by a scrambled phone call from Catarella to say they’ve found another body, and poor Salvo never seems to know where the location is, even though he was born on the island), his terrible old Fiat and all.

Must we now say ciao?

For next week, we start a terrifying new series, The Dark Lake – yet another detective mystery with the word ‘Lake’ in the title. I shall in future be avoiding lakes, as they obviously have sinister associations. But I have a dilemma: whether to resume drinking, or stick with the 1-step programme (just don’t do it!) that has already saved me enough money to spend another weekend in November cavorting with jazz musicians; a peculiar peccadillo of mine.

The third possibility as regards a reason for my brooding, suicidal mood today (what’s the point, I’m useless, always alone, etc., nothing more to say, my expensive and rather vital dental bridge feels precarious, I’m so tired and bored with Morrison’s ready-meals I could sleep forever…) is that a week today I have to go to London to cremate my mother.

And as the time rushes on, I haven’t a clue how I am going to organize it.

 

“I know, and you know, there’s probably not a molecule of the actual Loved One in the little container they give you”

Here be Dragonnes

My mother died last December, which sounds rather ghoulish. No, she wasn’t a murder victim, kept in storage pending enquiries. Since her demise, aged 92, as her own last request she’s been helping the profession with their advances in medical science.

The Anatomy Service provides a free ten-minute funeral as payment for our generosity, and there seemed no reason not to take advantage of it until I discovered that it’s very much a fixed-format, take-it-or-leave-it offer, over which the ‘family’ (me) has no control. Nevertheless, or perhaps because of that, I feel I should go.

I have in fact only two living relatives as they might be known to me, my children. I have a surviving half-uncle (by my grandfather’s second marriage), whom I haven’t seen since 1976; and possibly many cousins, the children of his late brothers, none of whom have I ever met, nor even heard of; and their children, presumably. I have a half-brother and sister, twins by my father’s ill-chosen second wife, now in their late 50s, whom I haven’t seen for years; although the occasional email arrives every five years or so, enlisting my support over some inequitable decision of the joint family Trust.

And finally, there’s an obscure relation living in Greece, I think the son or nephew of my grandmother’s sister Stella, of whom more anon.

So it’s not a close family; more of a diaspora.

Distance is indeed a factor. I live 256 miles to the north-west of the capital, but the cremation is taking place five miles to the south-east of the only part of London I know at all, the centre, at a crematorium of the undertakers’ choosing; and around twelve miles from where I may be staying the night in faroff North London, if we can resolve a row I’m having with the family (my ex-wife) over the arrangements.

It seems there is no direct public transport. To get within a long walking distance of the crematorium will involve several train changes, above and below ground – very early in the morning. I have a claustrophobic horror of urban trains – especially the London Underground, the Tube, that hasn’t been much updated since it was dug out in the early 20th century.

Then there is the question of how best to get from here to North London with Hunzi in tow, given there’s no easy transport between Euston station and the house, it involves more train changes and I can’t really take the little dog on the Tube in the rush-hour.

I suppose then I shall have to drive up, but I’ve never been able on my own to find the street where my ex-sister-in-law lives and I don’t possess or understand the operating principle of SatNav, although my son assures me my new phone will do just as well. So it’ll take hours and I shall arrive frazzled after blundering hopelessly around the warren of suburban streets and one-way systems, with their ‘traffic-calming’ measures that get drivers so wound-up.

A further, somewhat private matter, concerns my urinary needs, which have lately become sufficiently pressing as to make long journeys or their aftermath frequently necessitous.

And then there’s the problem with the ashes. It’s a bit like the advertising business: I know, and you know, there’s probably not a molecule of the actual Loved One in the little container they give you, but everyone expects you to scatter the contents in some place emotionally connected with the departed. I have a photograph of my mother, for instance, surreptitiously (and quite illegally) scattering the mother of her actor friend Susannah on the stage of the St Martin’s theatre in the West End before both repairing to the pub. I’m afraid I don’t have their chutzpah.

The problem being, you can’t collect until they’ve coooled down the next day. So that’s another night in London, an idea that fills me with dread – and another set of trains across town, as I’d never find it by road and have no idea how you pay the Congestion Charge. Plus, I foolishly mention that her parents – my grandparents – are buried in yet another inaccessible suburb miles to the west of town, whereupon the family (my ex-wife) decides that would be the ideal place for the scattering, although there’s bureaucracy involved and I wouldn’t know where to start asking.

And then, the family (my ex-wife and her sisters) have decided there’s going to be a ‘memorial’ event, the last thing my mother wrote me to say she didn’t want. The guest list would consist of well under half a dozen people, any of whom would have to travel many miles at great expense, and for what? A glass of sherry somewhere, when the usual Christmas gathering, some extra reminiscence and a toast will do perfectly well.

But. There’s Cousin C., you see.

All families, I imagine, have a very distant foreign cousin, several times removed, who just can’t get over his or her fascination with ‘researching’ your branch of the family. They turn up out of the blue to let you know they just happen to be in the country, and you have to invite them for a tedious session with a bag of photographs and solicitors’ letters from the 1950s, trying to work out who was related to whom, why, and what property they may have owned.

In the immortal words of Rhett Butler: Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Cousin C. has been unwell, his economic circumstances are seriously in doubt owing to the virtual collapse of Greek civilization thanks to the rapacious neoliberalism of German bankers, and I really don’t want him flying over just for five minutes of shuffling small-talk and a sausage roll. Such, however, is his obsession with my fairly glamorous mother and her tiny family (me, the kids and my ex-wife of nine years) that I fear he intends to do just that, and I shall feel guilty as I don’t plan on going myself. It’s one more impossible set of transitional arrangements I’m no longer up to engineering – and can’t see a reason to.

Selfish, I know, but just leave me alone! She was my mum, not yours. This morning anyway I have no interest in life, let alone death.

Coming from at least three generations of serial divorcees, having spent my formative years at dreary and brutish provincial boarding-schools, I haven’t a sentimental bone in my body – nor do I have the slightest idea of who anyone was, or is, and I don’t frankly care. Dead is dead, and unless someone in my ancestral line was spectacularly famous, the will is in dispute and I’m the last survivor of the residuary legatees, I’m perfectly happy just to acknowledge our common DNA, raise a glass and move on.

We shall meet in the sweet by-and-by, the song goes – and it’s great if you enjoyed it while it lasted.

I’m not, much.

“Come on darkie, put your back into it…” British troops work to clear roads in the wake of Hurricane Irma. (photo: Guardian)

Your Granny W. writes:

China: So, in the 24 hours since Irma started battering the southwest coast of Florida, on the far side of the Pacific we’ve got Typhoon Talim heading as a Cat 3 towards northern Taiwan and just to the south, unnamed Tropical Depression 21 crossing the main island of the Philippines, Luzon, over the next five days, towards the SE Chinese coast. The island of Okinawa and its capital, Naha, are well within the predicted track of Talim, which is now forecast to turn northwards on Friday, skimming the China coast and weakening to a tropical storm over Japan.

(Alternative possibilities include Talim strengthening to become Cat 4 supertyphoon, as the previous Talim did in 2005, when 150 people died and damage from the 149 mph wind was estimated at $1.5 billion.) Sea temperature in the area is 30 deg C., 4 deg. above the minimum needed to sustain tropical cyclones.

USA: Irma will be falling apart over Georgia and S Carolina over the next few days, dumping possibly two feet of rain; in fact, she now seems to be travelling on two separate tracks. In her wake, temperatures around Florida will be creeping back up to the 100 deg. F mark, with extreme humidity. No-one seems quite certain what José will do, it’s missed the Antilles and the Virgin Islands, and is performing a cartwheel harmlessly out in the Atlantic before sorting itself out next weekend and setting off for somewhere on the East Coast, God knows where – the forecast tracks are all over the shop, but it’s expected dry air to the west will degrade it to a tropical storm before it makes land possibly in Nova Scotia.

Mexico: And somewhere off the coast of Mexico is Tropical Depression 15E, which is strengthening somewhat as it heads away from land out due westwards into the vast and empty waters of the Pacific, perhaps to disturb the great plastics gyre, our new continent, in its passing.

High tide today at Cleveleys, Lancashire, NW England. (The Telegraph)

UK: Meanwhile, here in western and northern Britain we’ve got more gales forecast, with heavy rain and winds gusting to 75 mph and amber warnings of flooding in Scotland and (again) Northern Ireland. The storm has acquired the name Aileen.

Reliability, a note:

Granny W. is starting to question the veracity of some of the reports it relies on for these summary bulletins of extreme weather events.

A recent selection of camphone footage from Mexico, labelled ‘Oaxaca, 7th September’ was edited into the Climate and Extreme Weather News package #64. There have been no confirmatory reports of any flooding in Oaxaca, but it was hit by the M8.1 earthquake on the same day, so you would imagine any flooding in the state would have been mentioned in subsequent news coverage. Oaxaca did however suffer extensive flooding, twice, in early and mid-June from Tropical Storms Beatriz and Colin.

Likewise, footage of flash flooding in Mexico City brings up no other references to any such event this month; however, Floodlist reported on severe flooding in the region on the same day, 07 September – in 2013. Without spending too much time on this, in view of the number of obviously phony weather websites, many of them promoted on YouTube by conspiracy theorists, religious and millennarian sources, ‘reporting’ fake news about Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, your old Granny will need to be more careful to double-check CEWN in future. It’s not that the events didn’t happen – the question is when? And often, where exactly? As you might just get a country name, or a TV weatherman speaking Chinese.

(Of course, we haven’t fallen for the ones claiming Irma and Harvey were deliberately created or made worse by the Government, NASA, or Planet X Nibiru; while we don’t feel bound to associate ourselves with the ghastly and insane Fox News presenter, Ann Coulter, who says along with her Christian studio panel that they’re God’s punishment on the LGBTQ community.)

China: no doubts about this one, “the meteorological authority Monday warned that flash flooding is likely to follow torrential rain in the northwest and southwest of the country. Parts of Yunnan Province and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are likely see flash floods from Monday night to Tuesday night, the China Meteorological Administration said. Local authorities were told to prepare for mud flows and landslides.”

USA: The Rice Ridge wildfire in Montana is covering 133 thousand acres north of Seeley Lake and is only 8% contained. 1700 properties are threatened. The Lolo Ridge fire is about half under control and has burned 50 thousand acres… in fact there are more large fires burning in that one state than we can report, go to nbcmontana.com/news/wildfires if interested. But for all the horrors of this wildfire season, with thousands of square miles burning in a dozen states up into British Columbia, up to now 2015 was still marginally worse.

USA: Better news: the choking pall of smoke hanging over many cities in the western USA causing eye- and breathing problems is being cleared by a chain of storms. The heatwave still lingers, with temperatures in parts of California up to 95 deg F, although ‘relief is on the way’, say meteorologists; while city officials in San Francisco pleaded with residents to turn off their air conditioning as a power shortage is threatening.

Mexico: flooding is reported in the state of Veracruz, where Hurricane Katia eventually came ashore and fizzled out, upstaged by cousin Irma.

Spain: “Authorities in southern Spain say they are fighting a wildfire that has forced the evacuation of 500 residents from at least seven towns in the province of Seville. The regional minister of justice for Andalusia, said on Saturday that “around 500 people” have been evacuated because of the smoke produced by the blaze which broke out Friday.” Firemen are also fighting blazes that have broken out on the island of Menorca.

Italy: “At least six people have been killed and two are missing after heavy rainstorms and flooding in the city of Livorno, Tuscany, Italy, on 10 September. The storm dumped over twice the monthly rainfall in just 2 hours.” Flash floods also devastated mountain villages near Lazio, central Italy, on the 10th. And a violent thunderstorm brought heavy rain and deep surface flooding to Palermo, the Sicilian capital.

Croatia: after the heatwave, extreme rain, surface flash- and extensive river flooding. “Hospitals and houses have been flooded in Croatia following torrential rain in the Istrin peninsula. Meteorologists say it is the most significant rainfall in the region for more than 30 years. Officials in the city of Zadar are urging people not to drive” (! please note, idiots!)

India: bad news again from Assam… heavy rains in Arunachal Pradesh have raised the flood levels again, thousands displaced. Meanwhile, again in the wake of extreme summer heat, torrential rains have been lashing South Korea. The port city of Busan is under three feet of water.

Turkey: The great ‘Lucifer’ European heatwave lingers on around Marmara, with temperatures in the mid 30s C, 95F, though cooler now elsewhere.

Europe: Areas of southern Europe are still listed by the European Commission Copernicus website as in ‘extreme danger’ of fires, especially southwest Spain and the Basque country, Sardinia, the south of France, Bulgaria and southern Turkey. Numerous wildfires are still burning around the Mediterranean coasts, especially across North Africa, and in Israel.

World: An excellent article today in Salon magazine (originally published on Truthout) draws together many of the themes the BogPo has been struggling to report on recently. http://www.salon.com/2017/09/10/greenland-is-burning-wildfires-and-floods-surge-worldwide_partner/

Footnote: “Rains that are almost biblical, heat waves that don’t end, tornadoes that strike in savage swarms—there’s been a change in the weather lately.  What’s going on?” So asks the National Geographic, reporting on a year in which wildfires and insufferable heatwaves, droughts and epic floods and storms affected the weather around the world, with the benefit (unlike 2017) of an El Niño – 2012. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2012/09/extreme-weather-global-climate-change-effects/

Wunderground/ China Daily/ Salon/ Daily Sabah, Europe/ Copernicus/ the Telegraph/ National Geographic/ Floodlist/ EuroNews/ Climate and Extreme Weather News #66/ Accuweather.

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Diggers: Just Keep Digging

Rebel with a cause? (photo: EPA)

Australian actress, Rebel Wilson has been awarded an eyewatering $4.5 million in damages against Bauer Media for a series of uncomplimentary and increasingly unapologetic articles in their gossip magazines alleging that she is a complete self-invention.

The jury was inclined to believe (seemingly without much evidence) her barristers’ claims that she had lost two years’ worth of starring Hollywood roles as a result, although frankly whoever is not a complete self-invention is unlikely to make a career in Tinseltown.

In a statement delivereed as it were on the courtroom steps, without a trace of embarrassment, shame or contrition, Bauer responded thus:

“Bauer Media has a long history of delivering great stories to our readers and we have a reputation for developing some of the best editorial teams in this country. This is what we are focused on. It is about continuing to do what we do best and that is delivering great content to more than 85% of Australian women across the country via our iconic portfolio.”

Is it any wonder the courts like to give these absurdly pompous media people a good kicking from time to time?

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Important questions of our time #29:

Why as your shoes get older do the laces persist in growing longer and longer, until to stop them trailing on the floor you have to tie a double knot you won’t later be able to undo?

Do we really want a nuclear war with all this going on? No let-up in 2017’s tally of fires, storms and heatwaves. Bag tax.

And, like, wow! We even have the best hurricanes, the biggest and the best hurricanes, who knew? I mean EVER!

 

“North Korea is not seriously threatening anyone… on the other hand, war is Trump’s best, if not his only option for survival. Her weakness in Government, too, could encourage Mrs May to have a Tony Blair moment.”

Do we really want a nuclear war with all this going on?

As we look down the barrel of yet another global crisis and the threatened exchange of nuclear weapons by dumbass willy-bragging politicians with no knowledge or experience of the consequences and costs even of a conventional war on a worldwide scale, some dimwits can be heard cheerfully pointing out that it might be beneficial to reverse the warming trend, the droughts and the increases in precipitation we are otherwise experiencing, with devastating consequences for life on an earth potentially hotter by 2030 than it has been for the past 50 million years.

Well, try not to get your hopes up, dears. Assuming you’re not instantly vaporized, blast-damaged or part-cooked, with no hospital burns units functioning, and  you don’t just rot to bits over a couple of agonizing weeks, puking violently as your hair falls out and your vital organs shut down, it gets worse.

This from the Weather Underground, an independent climatology research center:

“The nuclear explosions would send massive clouds of dust high into the stratosphere, blocking so much sunlight that a nuclear winter would result. Global temperatures would plunge 20°C to 40°C for several months, and remain 2 – 6°C lower for 1-3 years. Up to 70% of the Earth’s protective stratospheric ozone layer would be destroyed, allowing huge doses of ultraviolet light to reach the surface. This UV light would kill much of the marine life that forms the basis of the food chain, resulting in the collapse of many fisheries and the starvation of the people and animals that depend (on them). The UV light would also blind huge numbers of animals, who would then wander sightlessly and starve. The cold and dust would create widespread crop failures and global famine, killing billions of people who did not die in the nuclear explosions.”

Sounds bad? Well, the article by Director of Meteorology, Dr Jeffrey Masters, goes on to cite new joint research from the University of Colorado, UCLA and Rutgers that suggests such an outcome might arise not from a full-blown exchange of 2,000 warheads between America and Russia, but from just a limited war between, say, India and Pakistan, involving 100 thermonuclear blasts and the burning of the mega-cities in both countries:

“As a result, the smoke stayed at significant levels for over a decade (by contrast, highly reflective volcanic aerosol particles do not absorb solar radiation and create such circulations, and only stay in the stratosphere 1-2 years). The black soot blocked sunlight, resulting in global cooling of over 1.2°C (2.2°F) at the surface for two years, and 0.5°C (0.9°F) for more than a decade (Figures 1 and 2). Precipitation fell up to 9% globally, and was reduced by 40% in the Asian monsoon regions. This magnitude of this cooling would bring about the coldest temperatures observed on the globe in over 1000 years (Figure 1). The growing season would shorten by 10-30 days over much of the globe, resulting in widespread crop failures.”

It’s a relatively quick process, as was learned when domestic flights were banned over the USA in the wake of the 9/11 attack and within a few hours of there being no contrails in the sky, it was noticed that the sunlight got brighter by a substantial factor.

It has long been a theory if not quite a contention of the BogPo that the cold winters experienced in the aftermath of World Wars One and Two were as a result of the huge quantities of dust and soot particles borne aloft from incessant artillery barrages and the carpet-bombing of cities. 1947, for instance, was one of the coldest winters in Europe of the 20th century. The volcanic eruption in the Philippines of Mount Tambora in 1815 was the most cataclysmic explosion recorded in modern times and led to a ‘Year without summer’ that caused widespread famine in Europe and the Americas – yet, as the researchers point out, the grey-out did indeed last for only one year.

A nuclear exchange would be considerably worse.

So, guys, let’s not try it?

“And it can achieve a spin-speed of 1200 rpm, reducing drying time by 40 per cent!”

North Korea is not seriously threatening anyone, just look at its geographical position. It has nowhere to go: it is hardly likely to embark on a conquest of China. It knows that a cheeky attack on Guam or San Francisco would result in immediate obliteration. If it had a genuine military advantage, its only strategic goal would be to invade and capture the south; to finish the 1954 war. But Kim knows that wouldn’t be practicable: even if it could be accomplished in the face of massive US intervention, he could never impose his brand of personality cult dictatorship on the Western-style democracy the South enjoys for its 50 million people; let alone manage a modern economy of that size.

His ruthless pursuit of a nuclear arsenal is because North Korea feels threatened by its US-backed neighbours; he has numbers on his side, but doesn’t have the strength of conventional force to rebut an invasion, which he sees US and Korean forces practising for on his borders every few months; and, because it’s about the only field of technology and engineering in which he can deploy any kind of modern expertise to rescue his ruined economy, it’s a matter of kudos for the regime in a country that’s otherwise unable to modernize further without threatening its internal political stability.

He is only 33, and if he can avoid possible assassination and a coup by the Westernizing faction in his own extensive family, he has time on his side. The nuclear program is designed to buy him time: slow progressive policies are his best option for modernization without political disruption.

To repeat: North Korea is not seriously threatening anyone… on the other hand, war is Trump’s best, if not his only option for survival, knowing that however rotten and incompetent and unpopular his Presidency has become, Americans will always rally to the flag. Her weakness in Government, too, could encourage Mrs May to have a Tony Blair moment, offering support and comfort to Trump’s gung-ho ignorance of world affairs.

With a vague intention of countering the rising hegemony of the Chinese empire, the US has been building up to war in the SE Asian theatre for years and is primed – ‘locked and loaded’ – to go at any time.

No wonder Kim feels his only option is to nuclearize at breakneck speed. He has no other deterrent, no other defense against American aggression. Only the demolition of the Republican-party right, the arrest and detention of the warmongering neocons still lurking in the bilges of the administration, are going to stop this relentless march to global cataclysm and inevitable self-destruction.

Even having in their pocket the keys to the bunker is not going to save them either, emerging as they will into a world no longer fit for survival.

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Granny W. 01 to 09 September: no letup in 2017 tally of fires, storms and heatwaves.

USA: Hurricane Irma is steadily warming up tonight (Tuesday 05 Sept.) as a ‘catastrophic’ Category 5, with winds at the eyewall approaching 186 mph. It’s over the Lesser Antilles and heading for the Virgin Islands, with Costa Rica and Hispaniola (Dominica and poverty-stricken Haiti) also in its sights – and after causing major damage to the smaller islands is currently forecast to pass between Cuba and Florida on Sunday, across the Keys before turning sharp right and heading up the midline of Florida towards Georgia. The storm is said to be ‘bigger than the State’.

Heading for Florida – 215 mph winds, big rain and a 20-ft tidal surge.

Irma is already one of the five (perhaps the) most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in history. Forecast possible sustained windspeed by the time it’s over Florida is 215 mph! Not far in its wake, Tropical Storm Jose is gaining strength but its track is probably taking it northwards into the Atlantic. Another storm system is shown emerging from African coast in the wake of Jose, while Tropical Storm Katia has strengthened from a depression in the warm waters of the Gulf and is heading SE for the Yucatan peninsula. NWS national center advises it has potential to become a hurricane. (Sorry this text keeps changing, I’m getting contradictory info online.)

USA: Remnants of Hurricane Harvey still causing flooding. 8-inches of rain falls near Bowling Green, Kentucky. Properties evacuated in Nashville. Tornado wreaks havoc in Alabama. More tornadoes reported in Mississippi and Tennesee. Flood warnings out across South Carolina.

California: sudden violent storm strikes Santa Barbara. Trees, cars and buildings damaged. Waterspout comes ashore, creates chaos in tourist area. Streets flooded.

California: La Tuna, Burbank LA fire consumes 5,800 acres inside the city limits. 700 evacuated. Cal. and western states – Nevada, Montana, Idaho join the million-acre club: Chetko Bar fire in Oregon is burning over 125 thousand acres and not expected contained before mid-October. Eagle Creek fire burning in Washington state. Huge fires in Montana can be seen burning from space. Most of the northern US wreathed in smoke, causing breathing problems. More than 6.8 million acres of the USA have burned so far this season, plus 2.5 million acres of….

Canada: where new fires are reported in British Columbia as weekend temperatures remain in the 30s C. Smoke from Canada’s 2.8 million acres of wildfires burning since June has been detected across the North Pole as far away as Britain.

Mexico: Tropical Storm Lidia has hit the Baja peninsula, around Cabo San Luc. Windspeed only 45 mph but rainfall torrential. Tidal surge, flash floods, rivers burst banks. Idiots keep driving, seven dead. Coahuila province, central Mexico, town of Saltillo flooded on the 4th after torrential rainstorm.

Venezuela: downtown Caracas flooded after heavy rains.

Guatemala: Heavy rain flash-floods town of Almalonga.

Portugal: huge fire engulfs village near Castelo Branco, central Portugal. 200 homes destroyed.

Italy: Six people die in flash flood (09 Sept) after unexpectedly heavy rain hits Livorno, on the Adriatic coast – including a family of four drowned in their basement flat. San Giovanni Lupatoto, NE Italy, hit by powerful hailstorm: streets turn to rivers of ice.

Croatia: powerful hailstorms. Town of Pula flooded.

Switzerland: three days of continuous heavy rain causes flooding and landslides in the east of the country. More rain forecast.

UK: heavy rain causes flash-flooding Sunday in seaside town of Polperro, Cornwall. Motorists trapped in cars. Two dead as big waves wash fishermen off rocks.

Russia: Powerful cyclonic storms strike Ufa in central Russia, and the Kuril islands in the east. Big hail, flash flooding. But hundreds just will not abandon their damned cars! Watch as people overtake stalled lines to drive into 3-ft-deep, fast-flowing water and get washed away. Cars are a mental illness.

Sudan: flooding continues as rivers rise around Singa and El Dindir. Evacuations notified.

Australia: has reported its warmest winter on record: 2 deg. C above long-term average, with greatly reduced rainfall. Wildfire season anticipated to start early.

Oh, boo… August 2017 came in 0.1 deg. C behind August 2016 for the hottest on record. See, no such thing as global warming….

8th September

Mexico City: torrential rainstorm sends raging floodwaters through parts of the capital, causing major damage as the west coast of the country is hit by a huge M8.2 earthquake, the biggest in many years, with 60 dead as of 8 September. Many aftershocks at M5 felt, buildings damaged across the country.

Meanwhile hovering just offshore in the Gulf, Tropical Storm Katia strengthens overnight to Cat 3 hurricane, prepares to make landfall 09 Sept. in Veracruz, with warnings of heavy rain causing landslides. Three dead in floods in Oaxaca.

Venezuela: city of Colonia Tovar floods after heavy storm. Unknown number of deaths reported.

USA: Eighty large fires now covering 2,200 sq miles across nine western states as the heatwave continues.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #62, 63, 64/ Wunderground/ Floodlist/ BBC News/ The Guardian

 

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“Is it an excuse to say we didn’t know?”

Bag tax

Amusingly, or perhaps not, it seems we are being forced to eat our own waste.

Reports that drinking water around the world, fish and other foods we eat, even sea salt flakes are becoming heavily contaminated with microparticles and microfibres of plastics, include the fascinating observation that 94 per cent of drinking water samples taken in Trump Tower, New York were heavily contaminated, as were the samples from the US Environment Protection Agency building – among the most polluted in the world.

“We are increasingly smothering ecosystems in plastic and I am very worried that there may be all kinds of unintended, adverse consequences that we will only find out about once it is too late,” said Prof Roland Geyer, from the University of California and Santa Barbara, who led the study.” – The Guardian, o6 September.

240 million tonnes of plastics waste a year goes directly into the environment. (photo: ecopportunity.net)

Researchers in Paris found that microplastics particles are involved in atmospheric pollution in cities: it’s literally raining plastics. The worry is that the smaller the particles, the more easily they’re ingested in the lungs and may penetrate other organs of the body at a cellular level.

So as we ingest more and more of the useful by-products of our obsession with oil, we (and other species) are basically becoming a plastics-based lifeform.

One look at, say, Jared Kushner or any of the Kardashians will convince you of this.

Plastics have always been thought to be chemically fairly inert. The bigger worry, however, is that microparticles can carry disease pathogens and toxic chemicals, smuggling them into our bodies. They could even affect our brains.

Researchers are trying to understand how the 5p-taxed bags I carry my shopping home in, the food trays and coverings I casually chuck in the recycling bag (it occurs to the BogPo that recycling operations breaking down plastics waste may play a part in introducing particles to the environment) get into the water and fall from the sky with the rain.

It appears that our other obsession with hygiene may be largely to blame. Plastics microfibres are detached in huge quantities from our clothing and enter the waste-water supply to treatment plants that can’t filter them out during operation of our washing-machines; and are introduced in huge quantities to the atmosphere from the external vents of our tumble-dryers.

Only twenty per cent of the 300 million tonnes of plastics waste we produce every years is efficiently disposed of, and a stray carry-out bag takes hundreds of years to biodegrade. The residue of our casual, throwaway lifestyle and infinite demand for cheap, light and easily manufactured materials remains free to circulate in the famous Great Pacific Gyre and to end up littering the pure coral sand beaches of tropical island paradises and remote African shorelines.

The postmortem evisceration of cetaceans and sharks increasingly reveals stomachs full of plastic bags, presumably mistaken for jellyfish and swallowed whole. Investigation of phytoplankton increasingly reveals the presence of tiny fibres ingested as plastics break down in the oceans, that in turn will enter the food chain.

It’s a problem at any scale. A plastics chicken, coming home to roost.

Is there nothing we haven’t done to totally fuck-up the planet for our grandchildren?

Is it an excuse to say we didn’t know?

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/06/plastic-fibres-found-tap-water-around-world-study-reveals

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 32. Let’s see the color of your money, Mr President. Granny Weatherwax, 29-31 August: not getting better all the time (Post under construction)

I’m collecting for Ivanka’s kids. So needy. That’s right, whatever you are, please give generously, I’ve called for ICE backup, you’ll be on your way home to Mexico shortly…

 

“…let’s see the multibillionaire tax-dodging shareholders drive their fucking superyachts into Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur to save the people drowning.”

Let’s see the color of your money, Mr President

President Trump has ‘personally pledged’ $1 million to swell the Congress-approved $5.5 billion fund for the 400,000 victims of Hurricane Harvey flooded out of their homes last week. Thirty-two thousand are still huddled in shelters, and it’s not over yet.

The eventual bill has been put at possibly $130 billion.

Who will rescue him, and tens of thousands like him?

It’ll be interesting to see if, when and how he actually pays this money. (Rumor has it, he’s already rescinded the offer.) His personal tax-exempt Trump Foundation has made numerous declarations in the past about its generous charity donations, all of which have been denied by the supposed recipients who say they’ve never seen a penny.

If he does stump up, and it’s his own money, not skimmed off the growing budget for his Re-election Campaign 2020, then it might go some way towards mitigating the horrible effects of his – Steve Bannon’s, Bob Mercer’s – ‘shrink the State’ policy.

Because when you have emergencies and disasters on this scale, you do sort of need a central Government, with real people in it and real money behind it.

The possibility of Hurricane Irma hitting New York city next weekend as a Cat 5 (see below) with a tidal surge through Manhattan higher than that caused by Hurricane Sandy, followed by several feet of rain and 180 mph sustained winds over a period of hours or days, coming on top of Harvey, could leave the government looking to find possibly half a trillion dollars to clear up the mess.

And that’s before the bills roll in for States already facing huge costs related to many other flooding episodes this summer, infrastructure damage and the costs of tackling wildfires; which Oregon alone estimates at $100 million.

But the money’s not there. Congress has yet to see detailed 2017/18 budget proposals, let alone debate and pass them. The Government is due to run out of road financially on 29 September. And Trump’s headline budget is all about tax cuts for corporations and wealthy investors, not about fishing ordinary people out of bayous and drying out their homes.

Since his underwhelming inauguration parade, Trump has vowed to slash the budget for FEMA, the federal emergencies management administration that is the first line of Federal support in the event of a disaster like Harvey; burn the budget for compensating underinsured flood victims (the fund is already $24 bn in the red); and blow-up the budget of NASA, particularly its climate monitoring and research programs.

He’s appointed mentally unhinged, corrupt and unqualified rogue incompetents to the strategically vital positions of Secretary for Energy and Director of the Environment Protection Agency; the Parks and Agriculture and financial policy departments, even the State Department, are headed by morally bankrupt placemen on under-the-counter corporate payrolls: the middle tiers of all their administrations are gutted and empty, or silenced.

He’s greenlit more pipeline-fed refinery developments in the highly concentrated southern Texas energy bidness, where overdevelopment of former flood-absorbing wetlands was in large part responsible for exacerbating the misery last week; and where chemical pollution from damaged plant is a major health hazard.

Trump has still to appoint a Director of NOAA, the national weather bureau, as he doesn’t believe in the existence of weather; it’s all a Chinese plot – and has commanded the rollback of environmental legislation from the Obama years, including an order requiring property developers and local planners to take proper account of environmental risks.

Without wishing to deluge the victims of Harvey with a trillion gallons of schadenfreude, if this is the best he can do to protect ordinary Americans from the obviously worsening extremes of climate disruption and industrial pollution, this miserable apology for a President, this bunco artist, can shove his piddling $million up his fat, hairy, orange ass.

He doesn’t give a fuck about you!

Let’s see corporations; let’s see the multibillionaire tax-avoiding shareholders drive their fucking superyachts into Houston and Port Arthur to save the people drowning.

 

“This slow-moving beast could make Hurricane Harvey look like a summer shower”

Granny Weatherwax, 29-31 August: not getting better all the time

USA: Harvey’s third bite at the Gulf coast in a week, with renewed storm-force winds, pushes up into Louisiana and Kentucky, dumping another 30 inches of water. Galveston, Beaumont, Port Arthur, Richmond, East Texas all hit again and underwater. Many homes, some shelters flooded, refugees moved on again.

California: wreathed in smoke from wildfires, ‘dangerous’ high September temperatures forecast for the Labor Day weekend – general warning for up to 115F (46C) inland. “Heat-related illnesses overwhelmed San Francisco hospitals on Friday, according to the Bay Area NWS office.” 106F in San Francisco on Friday and still 86F overnight uncomfortably exceeded records for over 150 years.  Fire raging near Burbank, LA – evacuations reported in Butte County, near Oroville lake.

Yemen: intense monsoon rains now flooding the south of the country, Lahij province underwater, 15 killed – coming on top of extreme heat, civil war, Saudi bombing, widespread famine conditions threatening 7 million and a large-scale cholera outbreak.

Turkey: Istanbul hit again, torrential rain, storm-force winds, flash floods. Similar story in SW Turkey, city of Denizili hit by powerful storm, large hailstones, streets turned to rivers of ice.

Spain: flash floods rip through towns in Zaragoza province. More ‘rivers of ice’ flow through medieval town streets.

Europe: more wildfires in Valle Subequana, around Secinaro, Abruzzo, central Italy. Latest weather warning for much of Italy from the national forecasting service, possible risk from storms bringing high winds, could fan fires. Threat of disruption due to more heavy rain forecast for Austria and Hungary. Heatwave is now confined to the Balkans – Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, followed by disruptive thunderstorms.

France: 15  injured, two seriously, by lightning at a music festival in the north-east of France. Several bolts of lightning struck the Vieux Canal festival in the town of Azerailles.

UK: Sport fishermen catch second 500-lb Yellowfin tuna off the coast of Wales. Many fish species said to be moving northwards as oceans warm.

Pakistan: extensive flooding in Karachi. 16 deaths reported, parts of the city impassable. (Why do selfish idiots keep on trying to drive in 3ft of water and have to be rescued at the risk of other people’s lives? Video from around the world suggests, tens of thousands of cars may have been severely damaged or destroyed in this summer’s storms – an insurers’ nightmare?)

Indonesia: Towns of Banjir Bandang and Balikpapan, Borneo – underwater.

China: In the wake of Typhoon Hato and Tropical Storm Pakhar, comes Tropical Storm Mawar, set to make landfall in the next day or so just to the NE of Hong Kong, near Shantou, bringing more heavy rain and flooding. 

Nigeria: Benue State – towns flooding. 100,000-plus people affected. More flooding too in Niger, where the death toll is now 44 and thousands evacuated. In Sierra Leone, the death toll from the Sugarloaf Mountain collapse near Freetown last month has unofficially exceeded one thousand. Heavy rains continuing.

Argentina: violent thunderstorm over La Plata – intense rainfall, hail floods streets. Press reports: ‘7 minutes of chaos’ – several inches of rain causes flooding.

Colombia: intense rainfall floods-out towns in Santa Marta province.

Mexico: Valle Dorado, Cuautitlan and Mexico City, violent flash flooding follows intensive rainfall. Airport underwater. Huge Tropical Storm system, Lidia making landfall NW Mexico, Baja California.

Russia: 12 waterspouts form simultaneously off the coast at Sochi, Black Sea republic.

Hurricane Irma: one out of a reducing number of possible scenarios, NOAA predicted track has Irma making landfall North Carolina/New Jersey/ New York next weekend as a Cat 5, the maximum category, with sustained windspeeds of 181 mph.

This slow-moving beast could make Hurricane Harvey look like a summer shower. Other potential targets include the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, Costa Rica, Florida – or the Gulf. And trailing behind it, another ‘African Wave’ system with the potential to develop into something more – if a hurricane would be named José -and two more still over West Africa heading towards the Atlantic.

Buckle up.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #61/ NOAA/ Weather Underground (NBC)/ BBC Weather

 

 

The Lady: A dedicated racist? Terrorism: Whodunnit? Granny Weatherwax: 30 Aug. It’s the weather, Jim, but not as we knew it.

The daily queue for food in the rain. Thousands are internally displaced. (Photo: BBC.com)

A dedicated racist?

The deceptively fragile-looking lady, Aung Sang Suu Kyi enjoyed the sympathy of the world for many years while she was under house arrest in her compound in Rangoon, whatever they call it now, a political prisoner of the heavy-handed Burmese – Myanmarese isn’t an easy word – military junta.

Everyone was sad for her when her British academic husband, Michael Aris, died of cancer while she was being held captive and she was unable to be with him or even attend the funeral. Their long-distance marriage was presented as some sort of tragic fairytale. The BogPo vaguely recalls also that she became estranged some years ago from her two British-born children.

The Lady’s not for turning. (Asiacorrespondent.com)

Inevitably the force of history prevailed. The exiled beacon of hope became first the leader of the National League for Democracy, and then as international pressure prevailed against the junta, unable to modernize without external help, the leader of her country. Her non-Burmese marriage disqualified her from becoming president, but she now holds a unique position of power created especially for her – State Councillor – under a puppet president, with the permission of the watchful military.

And has turned out to be a first-class hypocrite.

In the west of the country near the border with Bangladesh dwell the Rohingya people. They have lived in and around the city of Rakhine since the 15th century, and form 80%-90% of the population in the region. Until recently there were over a million of them. Now 100,000 live in camps as internally displaced refugees, while many more have fled – or been killed.

Muslims, they are barely tolerated in Burma. The army has been harrying and persecuting them for years in a policy that has been described by some in the international community as ethnic cleansing. In 2016, government soldiers went on the rampage: burning homes, indiscriminately looting, raping women and arbitrarily executing men.

And the Oxford-educated Suu Kyi, an iconic figure whom the West and well-meaning middle-class campaigners supported for decades, a peace prizewinner, doesn’t give a fragrant-smelling shit.

She refuses point-blank to condemn the army, relying on them for her continuing position. In complete denial of the situation, she prefers to go along with the official line that the Rohingya are parasites who first arrived as refugees from what became Bangladesh during the war between West and East Pakistan in 1971.

From Wikipedia:

“After receiving a peace prize, she told reporters she did not know if the Rohingya could be regarded as Burmese citizens. In an interview with the BBC’s Mishal Husein … Suu Kyi refused to condemn violence against the Rohingya and denied that Muslims in Myanmar have been subject to ethnic cleansing, insisting that the tensions were due to a “climate of fear” caused by “a worldwide perception that global Muslim power is very great.” … In the aftermath of the interview, she expressed anger at being interviewed by a Muslim.”

That last statement seems the most telling: the aristocratic Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, the leftist ‘founder of modern Myanmar’, is not merely an expedient politician treading a delicate line between the army council and extreme nationalist factions. She’s a dedicated racist.

But she is not the only Myanmarese expressing a bizarrely contradictory, ahistorical prejudice. In a BBC report from 2015, the editor of the English-language Burmese Daily Star demonstrated that he too was in complete denial of their plight when, while volunteering that the Rohingya had lived in the country for ‘800 or 900 years’, he referred to Myanmar as the ‘host’ nation, as if they had arrived only that morning:

“They are housed, they have rudimentary education, living facilities and they are here safe, they are not being persecuted. You have to give us the credit of treating them in a humane way with the hope that the repatriation process comes through. Frankly, we can only be their host for the time being so that they can go back, but giving them citizenship, why?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-33007536

Clearly, the Burmese memory is a long one. Nine hundred years is some ‘time being’. And a short one: collective amnesia conveniently hides the truth of the many pogroms against the Rohingya by the army in recent years, that are still going on now.

And the tragedy is, ‘they’ are not being allowed to ‘go back’. It’s clear, the Rohingya are treated spitefully, and one reads of the usual anti-minority immigrant rhetoric: ‘they’ are taking our jobs, competing for housing, sponging on ‘our welfare system, our taxes’… No-one, it seems, is able to find a sensible and humane way forward, or is even it seems willing to try, because of entrenched racist and Islamophobic attitudes.

No way out, no way in. What future is there for the Rohingya? (photo: greenleft.org.au)

The animus against the Rohingya dates from fighting during World War Two between a Muslim militia recruited by British colonial forces in 1942 to resist the Japanese invasion, and the Buddhist Arakan people of Rakhine, who were pro-Japanese.

The Rohingya used the British weapons and the brief they’d been given to attack Arakanese villages, killing over 20,000; the Arakan fought back, killing many Rohingya. The British, as always, remained hands-off: the violence suited their needs.

It left a legacy of communal bitterness. Now, the ultra-nationalist Buddhists the fragrant lady relies on for electoral advantage have revived the old enmity. (Buddhists are not as lovely, dreamy and peaceful as most Westerners assume from their meditation classes, they can be stubbornly fanatical bastards.) Wikipedia again: “International media and human rights organizations have often described Rohingyas as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

To maintain her position in power, the ‘State Councillor’ hypocritically refuses to come down on either side. It is convenient to have an enemy, an outlet for majority frustrations that might otherwise be directed at her party. She blames any violence, inasmuch as she accepts there may have been a bit, on both sides, even though there is no evidence whatever of recent Rohingya violence against the Buddhist majority. Continuing a 1970s policy set by the dictator, General Ne Win to deny the Rohingya Burmese nationality, she has even tried to ban international diplomats from mentioning the name Rohingya in her presence.

Equally mystifying, is the refusal of neighbouring Bangladesh, a Muslim majority country, mainly fellow Sunni, to allow Rohingya refugees fleeing the persecution to settle in their country, or to intervene to save them. According to a report by Al Jazeera news (16 Jan, 2014), there are tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees in camps inside Bangladesh, where they are stuck; and perhaps as many as 200 thousand more undocumented and living rough in the jungle.

In 2012, after another pogrom by the Burmese army led to an influx of desperate refugees, Bangladesh banished the aid agencies that were helping them, complaining that they were only encouraging more to come.

Those who flee, often by boat, are sent back by border guards to certain brutality and even death. This rejection by fellow Muslims enjoined by the Prophet to show compassion and offer hospitality to strangers is totally haram – un-Islamic. But it seems the Bangladesh authorities in the interests of good neighbourliness are going along with a ban imposed by Myanmar on the Rohingyas leaving the country; while tolerating murderous violence within their own borders by Islamist ultras militating against any hint of apostasy.

The Rohingya people are stuck in limbo, trapped in a hopeless situation. They do not have the option of integration at any level in Burmese society. The West has more important things on its mind. The outlook appears bleak.

 

Postscriptum: The morning after this Post was put up, coincidentally a lead article on the current situation in Rakhine appeared in The Washington Post (31 Aug.). Violence has flared up again and many areas of the state are said to be on fire, although frankly many areas of the world are on fire thanks to persistent heatwave conditions; it’s only three weeks since two-thirds of Burmese states were reportedly subject to severe flooding.

Readers interested in the story can go to: http://www.s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?e=cGRpbmdyYW1zQGdtYWlsLmNvbQ%3D%3D&s=59a797affe1ff64249c706a9

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“…it turns out only two of the attackers in 63 recorded incidents were bogus refugees.”

Terrorism: whodunnit?

A fascinating piece of research commissioned by the BBC is reported today, 30 August.

Fascinating, as the German elections are coming up shortly, where the greatest threat to Angela Merkel’s fourth term as Chancellor comes from the right, and voters angered by her softline approach to Syrian refugees and other migrant populations, whom the country is frankly struggling to absorb.

And fascinating, as the low-functioning genius, President Trump insists on pursuing his politically expedient attacks on Muslims, including ‘enhanced security screening’, suspension of asylum claims and selective bans on travellers to the USA, claiming too that his daft border wall will protect America’s 320 million terrified people from the statistically almost non-existent threat of terrorism.

In an analysis of who, exactly, has been perpetrating Islamist terror attacks in Europe and the USA over the past three years, in which over 420 people have been killed and 1,800 injured, it turns out only two of the attackers in 63 recorded incidents were bogus refugees; only three others were refugees at all, or asylum-seekers. Seven were people awaiting deportation. One was an Egyptian tourist. Only two were women.

Sixty-four per cent were citizens of the countries they attacked, with others legally in the country; 74 per cent of those were previously known to police, and half of them had a criminal background.

Far from IS recruiting hordes of disaffected, radicalized juveniles, the average age of attackers is 27. It is the 26 per cent who have served time in prison who comprise the majority of Islamic converts fanatical enough to commit acts of violence.

The report claims: “Of the attacks that have hit the West since June 2014, fewer than one in 10 was carried out under direct orders from the leadership of IS.” Most of the attacks “Did not cause casualties, apart from the perpetrators.”

Report by ISPI, George Washington’s Program on Extremism and the International Centre for Counter-terrorism in The Hague. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-40000952

 

Granny W’s report, 30 Aug.

USA: Well folks, Houston is as Houston does. It’s all over the news: 51 inches of rain in four days. Deaths variously reported as 16 or 20 (45 – 01 Sept), but rescuers expect to find more. Authorities anticipate having to rehome 30 thousand people. Parts of the city are under 6-8 feet of water, making submerged cars a hazard for the boats. Levees are breaching, a chemical plant is threatening meltdown* and there’s still a threat from two dams that are full to the brim.

As the storm hangs out to sea, topping-up again, it’s expected to return tonight and head towards New Orleans and up into Louisiana, dumping another two feet of rain as it goes. ‘Hundreds of thousands’ without power. Bodies of four children, parents and grandparents recovered from drowned SUV. When will people stop trying to drive through floods? Idiots.

Death toll now 31 – more may be found. (Bing.images)

In the meantime, the towns of Beaumont and Port Arthur are still bearing the brunt, with 25 inches of rain falling overnight. Port Arthur is underwater and the Exxon oil refinery – the biggest in the USA – is shut down; as is the second biggest, nearby at Baytown, and several others. Fuel prices are rising nationwide as a result; reminding us that Houston is the energy capital of the USA. (Something about eggs and baskets? Ed.)

“Heavy rains will spread northeast into the mid-Mississippi Valley as Harvey works its way northeast over the next three days. The NWS Weather Prediction Center has placed much of northwest Louisiana along Harvey’s path in a high risk for excessive rainfall. Torrential rains are also possible on Wednesday eastward along the front that lies from southern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.” – wunderground.com, expecting 4 to 6 inches of rain per hour as Harvey trundles slowly inland.

Mr Trump promises the ‘best’ handling of a crisis, ever. What an idiot that man is.

(We had a flood here in 2012, only a foot of water mainly affecting one street on a floodplain, but it was six months before the people could move back in, you have to find enough tradesmen to replace all the plaster, the kitchens, the electrics, the furnishings – everywhere downstairs for health reasons, as floodwater is a contaminant. At least we have no alligators here.)

And I’m going to say it: images from Houston show so many morbidly obese people having to be evacuated. It’s not a great strategy for survival to let yourself get in that condition.

*Explosions were later reported at the Arkema peroxide plant. American news sources point to Texas’ lack of zoning regulations, allowing anyone to build a housing estate next to a potentially dangerous facility and vice versa. We also learn that in Texas, it’s ILLEGAL for local authorities to impose safety regulations on companies. Capitalism, anyone?

Roundup

USA: Let’s not forget the eastern states: Tropical Storm PTC 10 is threatening “flooding issues, as 1 – 3” of rain is expected in coastal North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware through Wednesday.” While out in the Atlantic, powerful African Wave 93L (Tropical Storm Irma) is heading for the Caribbean, expected to pass the Antilles islands by the weekend. Meteorologists say it has enough spin and is picking up enough energy from above-averagely warm waters to become a hurricane.

USA: California sweltering again under extreme heat warnings. Temperature in many places over 110 deg. F, 43C. A report on wildfires in Oregon state alone says 300 thousand acres have been burned and the cost of fighting fires has reached $100 million. Maybe someone will tell the President and his team of climate fuckwits?

China: Hong Kong and Macau hit by Typhoon Pakhar, while they were still mopping-up after Typhoon Hato from last week; less damage reported but still one dead, several injured. Moving inland. Massive hailstorm hits Shenzhen, on the mainland. Flooding. Guizhou, massive landslide kills at least 15, 32 missing. 2,000 rescuers on the scene, little hope of survivors.

China: Guangxi province, severe flooding after Hongshui river bursts its banks. Unclear exactly where but footage shows city extensively flooded. Sichuan province experiences more flooding. Heavy rain triggers rural landslides in area devastated by 2008 earthquake, now flooding.

Japan: Tropical Storm Sanvu is lurking out to sea, a powerful 85 mph cyclone heading NNW, which might bring it over land*. I can’t get a prediction for where exactly; NASA thinks it may weaken again, but it looks pretty nasty and quite big, it’s got an eye already, a lot of rain potentially, and a huge swirl of cloud is forming around it, with another storm close by.

*No, Friday NASA finally noticed the eye and upgraded it to Typhoon, moving as I thought NE, not NNW – missing Japan – it’s gaining strength the further north it goes – it’s now somewhere up near the Kuril islands.

Mid-Atlantic: 13News reports (01 Sept), another monster, Tropical Storm Irma passed the Cape Verde islands Friday, strengthening within a record 12 hours to a Cat 3 hurricane moving slowly westwards. It’s expected to become a Cat 4 or 5 after the weekend when it reaches warmer waters, but the track isn’t clear – it’ll either enter the Gulf of Mexico over Cuba or drift northward and then spin ‘harmlessly’ out into the north Atlantic or hit the east coast of USA around the Carolinas next midweek. Taking bets. Another Sandy, possibly?

Hurricane Irma already packing quite a punch – and lots of rain!

And right behind Irma is another ‘African Wave’ depression, due over Cape Verde next week. Forecasters think the disturbance caused by Irma might prevent it developing into anything serious, but if it does, meet José. Incidentally, Weather Underground experts note that Irma is a month early, in terms of the Atlantic hurricane season, which doesn’t officially start until 05 October.

India: Cyclone brings massive rain and flooding to Mumbai (Bombay), Maharashtra. 13-in of rain (34 cm)/24 hrs on Thane City area. More than 40 dead as building collapses. Train services cancelled, Kem hospital flooded out. High tides preventing outflow from obsolete drains. Assam: waters slowly receding, more rain forecast. Death toll in Bihar floods rises to 518. BBC finally sends a reporter.

Greece: Zakynthos wildfires burning again. Severe thunderstorms over Spain, Austria, Croatia and Slovenia. Heavy hailstorm hits Asturias province, Spain. In Trujillo, roads turn to rivers of ice. Flash flooding in Toledo. Powerful storm strikes Deutschlandsberg, Austria.

Europe: I’ve just seen an extraordinary forecast map on the Weather Underground site: the whole of continental Europe, from west of the Pyrenees up to northern Germany on the Baltic and across to the Alps (but not NW France/Brittany), is coloured yellow – along with parts of Italy, Romania and the Czech Republic – meaning threat of ‘disruptive’ thunderstorms. Corsica, parts of Italy and the Balkans are on alert for extremely high temperatures.

UK: French heatwave pushes minor August record temperature (28.2C, 83F-ish) into southern England. Reporters dispatched to provide day-long coverage. Not in Boglington, cloudy most of the day and a feeble 18C! Bit of a disappointing summer here. (Must find out why?)

Uruguay: city of Canelones underwater after heavy rainfall. 880 evacuated.

Flash flooding makes life difficult after heavy storms in NW Mexico, following extreme heatwave – “Authorities warned the Baja California peninsula to prepare for high winds, heavy rain and a dangerous storm surge along a shore that includes the twin resort cities of Los Cabos.” Eight to 12 inches more rain forecast to come from Tropical Storm Lidia.

Sudan: homes destroyed after unusually heavy rains cause flooding across five provinces. Historic mosque at El Obeid badly damaged. Reports emerging of serious flooding last week destroying hundreds of homes and washing out refugee camps in Darfur.

Niger: “Heavy rain and flooding in Niamey, capital of Niger, have left at least 2 dead, 4 injured and over 200 homes destroyed. Heavy rain began to fall early on 26 August … Reports suggest around 100 mm of rain fell in the capital. Civil protection officials told residents to evacuate vulnerable areas.”

Somalia: Two-year drought deepens. Six million short of food and water, three million threatened immediately with famine. Children dying already as aid agencies struggle. Trump seeks to slash UN contributions.

“…Trump administration stated its intention to “reduce or end funding for international organisations whose missions do not substantially advance US foreign policy interests”. This includes slashing funding for the State Department and USAID, its foreign aid agency, and shifting money towards the military with a $54bn increase in defence spending.” – Al Jazeera, 17 March 2017.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #60/ wunderground.com/ 13Newsnow/ Floodlist/ NASA/ BBC News/ The Guardian.

 

“Someone in authority needs to investigate this!”

It’s weather, Jim, but not as we knew it.

The BogPo reported ten days ago on a curious phenomenon observed by many people along the coast of Uruguay and Brazil, around (but mainly north of) the Rio Plata at Montevideo. On 11 or 12 August, I couldn’t work out which, the sea was said to have retreated far beyond its usual tidal range, exposing hundreds of metres of sand. Fearing a tsunami, the people rushed to higher ground inland, however no tidal surge came and the sea quietly returned to normal a few hours later.

No-one seemed quite sure what had happened, but the official explanation appeared to be that a powerful cyclone had developed out in the Atlantic and created an abnormal tidal drag. It would have had to be an enormous storm with very low barometric pressure to have sucked so much of the sea from the coast, and it’s unlikely it would not have produced a corresponding storm surge at some stage. In any case no cyclone was reported on those days so far south.

Later on, a ‘rogue’ seismologist with controversial theories about the predictability of earthquakes, who blogs several times daily as ‘Dutchsinse’, reported that there had been quite a large and unexpected earthquake on the same day, a magnitude 4.9, in northern Brazil. Earthquakes are unusual in Brazil, and this one for some reason failed to appear on the official USGS (United States Geology Service) website. Meanwhile, over on the west coast there were numerous reported earthquakes and volcanic activity going on, and there it was reported that the sea did the opposite, producing unusually large waves.

MrMB3300, an amateur weather blogger, proposed a theory that it might have something to do with the South American Roll, a mythical phenomenon linked by some very odd people to the expectation that the Earth’s magnetic poles are about to ‘flip’, which they are known to have done every so many thousand years, causing South America to, essentially, break in half, with the northern end rolling over.

The ‘Roll’ is supposedly a product of the geological instability of the continental plate, and it was suggested that rather than the sea retreating, it might be the seabed that was rising. Unless it somehow fell again, indicating that the continent rocks as well as rolls, that wouldn’t explain why the sea came back – why the effect was not noticed, or why the phenomenon has also been reported in Mexico and elsewhere.

Naturally, the conspiracy theorists have gone into overdrive. Mentioned, was something called HAARP – High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program – an actual experimental project costing $250 million, between the military and several universities. It started in 1990, basically using ultra-low frequency radio waves to interfere with the ionosphere to see if it could be exploited for defense purposes, providing unhackable communications or offering opportunities for surveillance.

The aims of the project were couched in such vague terms (care to try? wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Frequency_Active_ Auroral_Research_Program) that it quickly got around that ‘They’ were trying to weaponize the weather. In 2013 the program was shut down, but an upgraded version of the British Aerospace-designed transmitter was restarted the following year, and the program is back up and running.

According to the HAARP team, it would be impossible to use the equipment in that way.  But you do wonder from the description of the project, if they know what the hell they are doing, and what if any effect it might have on the weather.

Two huge waterspouts appeared off the Brazil coast. (Wikipedia)

On 24 August, it happened again.

The sea retreated, and this time two huge waterspouts were observed offshore. And, supposedly on the same day, tsunami-like waves appeared out of nowhere on the other side of the Atlantic, in South Africa, and came ashore in a beach resort, sending bathers fleeing. Although if you started a wave in Brazil, unless it was driven by a seismic shock it would not reach Africa for perhaps three days or more.

Now, the problem we have is that any convincing video evidence of these unexplained events has been edited together in conspiracy-freak-friendly packages complete with doom-laden music by several unofficial YouTube ‘clickbait’ channels promising sensational revelations, who seem all to be feeding from the same pool of images. It’s difficult to tell when each section was originated, or where. The South African footage certainly has been knocking around at least since March when freak waves were reported near Durban. In addition, many of these websites are giving different dates on which similar events have supposedly been reported in many other places.

So it’s impossible really to know if we’re being taken for a ride, that a hoax ‘meme’ was originally created, perhaps out of a single unusual but not improbable spring-tide event, that has caught on and is being echoed by more and more silly people; or if there is more than a kernel of truth in the story and some weird geological, oceanic or atmospheric phenomenon is really happening.

Someone in authority needs to investigate this!

Theories abound – the world is breaking apart, it’s swelling up, there’s a hole under the sea which is draining away, an invisible planet is on a collision-course, adding to the gravitational pull on the oceans, it’s The End…. plus of course, it was all caused by the Eclipse.

Certainly, a weather phenomenon like Hurricane Harvey dumping four feet of rain over Texas in four days (with more to come – and apocalyptic warnings of Houston’s abandoned chemical plants exploding) is not helping to maintain a sane and rational outlook on the problem; many people seem to believe Harvey is a weaponized weather assault on the US energy sector by an enemy power, most probably their own government.

Nor after 80 straight days is the ongoing earthquake swarm at the Yellowstone supervolcano helping, as it genuinely does seem to be recharging for an eruption; hopefully, a small one. Or there was that mysterious cloud of irritating gas that appeared off the Sussex, UK coast over the Bank Holiday. (A fog bank? No, shut up!)

Observations of the odd behaviour of both the northern and southern jetstreams, that have broken up, are criss-crossing the Equator and forming strange, curly shapes that appear to be producing a succession of fast-rotating, water-laden cyclones over both the Pacific and the Atlantic, gathering energy from the warming oceans before dumping vast amounts of rain on land, are not helping either.

It’s weather, Jim, but not as we knew it.

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Fame at last

Congratulate us! the BogPo is now being Followed by Bare Nights, an agency in Brisbane, Australia specializing in rentable nudity of various kinds: strippers, strippagrams, stag and hen nights, topless waitresses and waiters…

After almost six years in business, I was wondering when we would finally go virile.

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 31: Trump Model Management: a disclaimer. Houston, We Have a Problem. Golden Orb Mk 11: Doppelganger. Love and Marriage with the Trumps.

 Trump Model Management: a disclaimer

In a recent Post, The Pumpkin explored a number of accusations made against Donald Trump in relation to Trump Organization’s activities in the model agency business.

Claiming to have ‘hundreds of hours’ of testimony from former models, a long article posted online by The Daily Kos website on 06 October 2016, entitled The Ugly Business of Beautiful Girls (“What We All Knew About the Trafficking”), was written under the anonymous byline ‘SwedishJewfish’.

One way to make a size-0 model is simply not to pay her. (Photo: The Sun)

He or she alleged that Trump Model Management was involved in bringing underage ‘size-zero’ models into New York from Eastern Europe without proper documentation, and to have kept them contractually at their own expense in substandard housing conditions without passing on fees earned for their work.

‘SwedishJewfish’ in turn quoted as complementary sources, published books (*see below); articles that had previously appeared online on reputable websites such as The Daily Beast and Mother Jones; supportive follow-up comment on cable news channel MSNBC and others; and tweets by investigative journalists. The article also stated the author’s belief that a Senate inquiry was being initiated by Sen. Barbara Boxer of California.

This seemed to The Pumpkin to be sufficient evidence of substance to the still-unproven allegations as to warrant speculative comment.

Further, the author claimed to have knowledge of a business and social relationship personally between Trump and the late John Casablancas, a ‘glamour’ model agency owner and socialite; stating that Trump had signed his daughter Ivanka, age 14, to Casablancas’ agency despite knowing of that agency’s reputation for hosting salacious parties involving drink and drugs.

Mr Casablancas was said in the article to have been strongly rumoured to have a sexual predilection for underage girls, whom he subjected to abuse of a physical kind; but that after moving to Brazil, ostensibly to evade investigation, he had been employed by Trump Organization as an agent in the real estate business. Further ‘revelations’ were promised for a follow-up article, which The Pumpkin has not seen.

The Pumpkin would like to state that it has no connection with the author of the Daily Kos article, to which it gave due attribution in the Post and merely offered, for information purposes, comment on aspects of the article having a bearing on or a relationship with recent statements by Mr Trump, that were capable of selective interpretation as evidence of involvement with or knowledge of the matters raised.

However, our attention has since been drawn to an article in The Guardian, 29 August 2017, regarding a series of tweets by a former British Conservative MP, Ms Louise Mensch, now based in New York and operating as a controversialist blogger, retweeting allegations made by a Mr Claude Taylor, who in turn seems to have based his information on what is now strongly suspected to have been a hoax.

To quote from The Guardian article:

Claude Taylor tweeted fake details of criminal inquiries into Trump that were invented by a source whose claim to work for the New York attorney general was not checked, according to emails seen by the Guardian. The allegations were endorsed as authentic and retweeted by his co-writer Louise Mensch.

The source’s false tips included an allegation, which has been aggressively circulated by Mensch and Taylor, that Trump’s inactive fashion model agency is under investigation by New York authorities for possible sex trafficking.

It appears that the subject matter of the hoax was the false information concerning a NYJD inquiry based on apparent testimony from former President, Bill Clinton and not the original allegations of trafficking (whether sexual or otherwise), which predate the 2016 election campaign, are widespread and in the public domain.

Trump Model Management appears to have ceased trading at the time of Mr Trump’s adoption as the Republican party candidate, but when questioned has been noncommittal on the subject of the allegations, merely stating that it had: ‘For over 10 years been at the forefront of cultivating and nurturing a wide range of innovative and vibrant model talent.’

Much could, but perhaps should not, be read into the phrase ‘a wide range’.

The Pumpkin would like to stress that our Post was not based on any knowledge of ‘tweets’ from either Ms Mensch or Mr Taylor and did not refer to any NYJD ‘investigation of sex trafficking’. The Pumpkin does not have a Twitter account from which to Follow any contributor. Nor did we rely on any information from the source named as ‘Caitlin’, of whom we had never previously heard.

Neither Ms Mensch nor Mr Taylor, nor their source identified in The Guardian, ‘Caitlin’, appears from what has been said to have based their allegations on the article in The Daily Kos; or on any other related material in the public domain. Nor is The Pumpkin aware of any connection between the author of that article and the source of the hoax. Ms Mensch too has denied relying on information from ‘Caitlin’.

The Pumpkin is happy to make clear that it dissociates itself from any allegations made by any of the parties involved in what may have been an elaborate campaign of disinformation against the Trump Organization, Donald Trump or his election campaign in this specific regard. However, we claim fair dealing in seeking to comment on them.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/28/trump-tweets-hoax-louise-mensch-claude-taylor

*Also quoted as sources for the Daily Kos article were two books: ‘Model – The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women’ by Michael Gross, published by IT Books, an imprint of HarperCollins; and ‘Bad And Beautiful: Inside the Dazzling and Deadly World of Supermodels’ by Ian Halperin, published by Citadel.

 

“US media have been outraged by Trump’s clear signal to the courts that they cannot put his supporters in jail…”

Houston, we have a problem…

The climatic ‘catastrophe’ that has overtaken the city of Houston (death toll now 10, including a family of eight drowned in their car) (postscriptum: 30 Aug., now put at 20) and, to an even greater extent, other communities in southeast Texas, has given Trump a heaven-sent opportunity to look almost Presidential at last, after seven months of concentrated screwing-up on the job.

(Photo: Arkansas Online)

Yet he has managed it again, with his crass off-the-cuff and self-absorbed responses to the disaster mitigated only on day 4 of the floods by a speech praising the resilience of the community, as a Dunkirk-like armada of small boats plucked more than six thousand stranded residents to safety.

As Trump sat morosely tweeting alone in his office at Camp David, plugging his fascist friend, Sheriff Clarke’s book to his 15 million live followers, Vice-President Pence was chairing a meeting in the situation room down the hall, creating a strategy for dealing with the, er, situation.

Mr Trump would make a visit to the less-affected areas of the Lone Star State today as a show of solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of Mexican immigrants and other minorities, who together make up the majority of the population. (I almost inserted the word ‘floating’ there, oops.)

And somehow they would find the money for relief and reconstruction, despite the Golden Orb’s threats to shut down the government this month if he doesn’t get his stupid fucking Mexican wall in the budget (thereby severing the slender lifeline offered by FEMA, the government’s disaster management agency); which will require special dispensation Congress might withold.

Meanwhile he was issuing his disgraceful and wholly unmerited ‘pardon’ to that brutal old horror, the mass-incarcerating ‘Sheriff Joe’ Arpaio, who made a career out of persecuting Mexicans in Arizona, hailing him as a great American patriot protecting ‘our borders’ against the threat of people who wanted only to find useful work to keep their families together.

US media have been outraged by Trump’s clear signal to the courts that they cannot put his supporters in jail, however appalling they may be; whatever crimes and moral outrages they may have committed, so long as they fulfil the requirements of his white supremacist agenda, which is becoming more apparent with every rally he addresses of his worshipful army of screaming, hate-filled delusionaries.

The 85-year-old Arpaio had been sentenced to six months in one of his own hellholes for persistently defying court rulings over a number of years that he had to abandon his illegal campaign of targeting anyone on the street who ‘looked like an immigrant’ for police stop, search, detain and deport tactics – not to mention the planting of evidence.

To justify yet another act undermining the courts and the rule of law, Trump is also deliberately muddying the waters. Questioned at a press conference in Finland yesterday, he first claimed Arpaio had been victimized by the Obama administration – a lie, as Trump was in office at the time Arpaio (a declared ‘Birther’) was sentenced – and excused his exercise of the pardon by citing Obama’s pardon for the ‘traitor’, Chelsea Manning.

Obama did not pardon Manning, he commuted Manning’s sentence to the seven years she had already served, most of it in ‘cruel and unusual’ solitary confinement. There was no element of exoneration for her crime of leaking classified documents showing abuses by the US military in Iraq, including the notorious video of the murder of two Reuter’s journalists by the trigger-happy incompetents aboard an Apache helicopter gunship.

‘Sheriff Joe’ will serve no time at all to make amends for the literally hundreds of thousands of victims of his racially motivated purges, men, women and children sent to rot for mostly minor offences in intolerable and degrading conditions in Tent City, where hundreds committed suicide; for the broken families and innocent lives ruined by this grizzly old sonofabitch.

To wish the monster a lingering, hopeless and agonizingly painful death from metastasizing secondaries is probably the only recourse left to anyone with a decent human instinct in their body.

Making a Korea of it

And now as his entourage of power-hungry sycophants and unpaid security guards whisks him past the devastation, distracting local authorities from the relief effort (Texas isn’t a great place for Presidents to visit), Trump has to find something coherent to say about the latest North Korean provocation, a medium-range missile fired through Japanese airspace to splashdown the far side of Hokkaido island, causing panic in the population as the air-raid sirens sounded.

There’s never a dull moment.

The Pumpkin’s theory about this missile firing is that four days ago, Kim uttered threats against Britain for sending a small detachment to participate in a huge military exercise off the coast, involving some 320,000 Korean and US troops in an invasion roleplay scenario.

The missile was therefore perfectly timed to coincide with another grovelling overseas mission to plead for continuing investment as Britain grindingly exits the EU without a trade agreement, Prime Minister May’s visit to Tokyo.

 

Golden Orb Mk 11: Doppelganger

“He is variously considered by EU states as “totally unreliable”, a “liar” and “dangerous”. He is “ramshackle” and so lacking in concentration span that civil servants have to bypass him…”

Do these familiar tropes apply to President Donald Trump?

So that’s Europe over there?

No, stumble forward British Foreign Secretary, the shambolic albino bear-man Boris Johnson, as described in a murderous article today in the conservative-leaning Murdoch-owned paper, The Times of London.

Strangely, Johnson used to be admired for his witty, incisive, compendious, Latin-quoting brain. In that sense he bears little relation to the uncouth, undereducated, semi-literate, inarticulate fourth-grade old mobster from Queen’s. Also, his sexual incontinence is real, not merely delusory.

Writing in The Guardian, the tendentious little lefty squirt, Owen Jones adds:

“…a man who described black people as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”, who suggested Barack Obama’s opposition to Brexit was driven by his “part-Kenyan” ancestry, and who celebrated President Assad’s murderous offensives with “hooray” and “bravo”… He was once recorded having a phone conversation discussing the possibility of beating up a journalist.”

Indeed, one is starting to wonder which is channelling whom? Is this Johnson, or Trump in one of his wilder flights?

They have other things in common:

Neither of them is up to the job. They’re both quite rich. They both had immigrant grandparents. And they share at least the crowning glory of an ebullient thatch of golden hair; the unblinking support of the rabid dumbfucks.

 

Love and marriage with the Trumps

Trump arrives at an airport near Austin, Texas, to inspect the water. It’s pissing down with rain.

Followed by Melania, the Fourth Lady, he negotiates the aircraft steps without mishap and gratefully accepts an enormous black umbrella that’s handed to him by a waiting flunkey.

Leaving Melania trailing behind him in the driving rain, before someone thinks to hand her an umbrella too.

 

Another brick in the Wall…

In passing, The Pumpkin notes the same category error is being committed by Mr Trump as that of many autocrats before him.

Even during his period of contemplation of a strategy for mopping-up the Texas floods (cost now estimated at $200 billion), he could not prevent himself returning to his favourite topic, tweeting out about his goddam Mexican wall – which will have to run through the flood zone to keep out the falling numbers of migrants following in the footsteps of the tens of thousands already living happily and peacefully in Texas – which used, as far as The Pumpkin remembers, to be Mexican territory.

Adolf Hitler was also obsessed with constructing a ‘wall’ – a chain of fixed fortifications running all around the Atlantic coastline, from Biarritz up to Antwerp, to keep the Americans out. It’s an argument, but it could be said that so much concrete and labor (mostly captive) went into the ‘wall’ that there was none left in Germany, and this strategic blunder contributed in a minor way to the weakness of the country’s internal defences.

After two weeks of bloody fighting, the Allies penetrated or flew over the defensive fortifications, on which Hitler had expended so much effort, and were able then to sweep on to Berlin against crumbling resistance.

Probably his best general, Field-marshal Erwin Rommel was killed in a forward position near the wall when his staff car was strafed from the air. He had opposed the wall, arguing for a series of defensive positions in depth, and for mobile armored defence forces operating tactically throughout France and Belgium. Hitler refused to abandon his dream plan, and died in his bunker in Berlin, defended by children and old men.

There have been other, similar errors perpetrated by obsessives throughout history, from the Emperor Qin through the Emperor Hadrian to Field-marshal Maginot. Any chess player (or anyone who has tried to invade Russia) will know, the intractable bunker mentality has always lost out strategically to the flexible, more nimble mindset.

No fixed fortification has ever successfully defended territory for long, D Trump please note!

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More ducks in a row…

How many reporters has the BBC got out in Texas, covering the Houston floods?

I’ve counted five, plus a local stringer.

I’m just watching a Newsnight special featuring an interview with a National Guard commander who’s been dragged away from rescuing people to chat to Emily Maitlis, as if we here in Britain are connected to America by an umbilical chord; as if what happens on the streets of Houston actually affects us here; as if they owe us a duty of information.

The BBC has really decided to own the story, with no morbidly obese local official or ‘rescued’ victim remaining uninterviewed against a backdrop of water often visibly inches deep. (Unfair. Depth of water may vary.)

How many reporters have been covering the much greater and longer-lasting floods in northern India, where perhaps 2,000 people have perished in the past month and 42 million are displaced as food and water shortages and endemic diseases loom?

China? Where many more millions have been washed out of their homes as huge rivers expand across the landscape turning city streets to car graveyards, and terrifying torrents rush down mountains, bearing away whole villages. Myanmar? Kyushu? And now flooded Mumbai, where temperatures are in the 90s and relative humidity at 95%?

How many reporters are being briefed to cover the increasingly brutal and chaotic weather situation around the world, the vast Canadian and Siberian wildfires, the melting Arctic, the broiling American west?

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Important questions of our time:

#27:

Why don’t American cars float?

Comparison of video evidence of floods around the world shows many cars in every country being borne away spinning on the waters. Cars in Houston seem to sit resolutely on the ground and are covered over by the rising flood.

What is that about?