How to stop a hurricane. (Warning: You will need $40 billion a year)… The Good Book… Jumpin’ Jack’s Not Very Flash…Stormy Weather… GW: “Splish splash, I was takin’ a bath, ‘long about a Saturday nite”… Censorship news…

Quote of the week

“One cubic metre of air at a temperature of 30°C can hold about 30 grams of water vapour. A cubic kilometre of such air contains the same energy as the Hiroshima bomb…. Hurricanes can be hundreds of kilometres in diameter and so contain tens of thousands of Hiroshimas.”
-Dr Stephen Salter, writing in Arctic News (14 Sept.).

How to stop a hurricane. (Warning: You will need $40 billion a year…)

Stephen’s topic is hurricane mitigation. He reckons that by using 600 times the mean output of all the electricity generated in the USA over 200 days, you could cool the volume of seawater it takes to kickstart a season’s worth of Cape Verde Atlantic hurricanes by 2C, thus probably preventing them from forming (unless the water is even warmer…).

A more practical way of preventing hurricanes then would be to spend $40 billion a year on building and maintaining a fleet of 100 ships specially designed and equipped to spray saltwater droplets of a particular size into the air, causing hurricanes to turn into ‘gentle tropical storms’. That’s just the Atlantic, by the way.

For those of us who remember his entertaining columns containing madly logical ideas in New Scientist magazine, the name of the late ‘Daedalus’ comes to mind.

“Comrade, famous spire is 123 meters! Who knew?”

 

“Now we know. He’s the real ‘little rocket-man’…”

Stormy Weather

So, “Full Disclosure”, the short-awaited memoirs of Ms Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, award-winning porno movie director, grande horizontale and Trump Nemesis, is hitting the stands about now and threatens to out-best-sell even last week’s Get Donny! best-seller, Bob Woodward’s fearless White House exposé, “Fear”.

Apart from the obligatory stories of her abused childhood, the key to rocketing sales of Stephanie’s tell-all tome is obviously going to be the more descriptive passages concerning That Night of seemingly not so steamy Passion at the Golf Club, and the exact dimensions of the priapic pussygrabber’s orange junk.

Reviewing the book, The Guardian‘s Tom McCarthy writes that Stormy reveals all in “excruciating detail”…

SPOILER ALERT

“She describes Trump’s penis as ‘smaller than average’ but ‘not freakishly small.’

‘He knows he has an unusual penis,’ Daniels writes. ‘It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool… I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart…

‘It may have been the least impressive sex I’d ever had, but clearly, he didn’t share that opinion.’”

So now we know. He’s the real “little rocket-man”…

Presidential image (boingboing.com)

“Fear” on the other hand has had a lukewarm reception in Washington. Apparently, journos inside the Beltway are yawning, rather. There’s nothing the doyen of investigative journalists has dug up that tells them anything they – or we – didn’t already know.

And, opines Politico, since the Kennedy era, as expectations of the rectitude of the office-holders have waned over the years, we’ve learned that all Presidents are pretty inconsiderable people on the inside. Trump especially is benefiting from public neurasthenia: nobody cares how badly he behaves, how dangerously incompetent, capricious, corrupt, vindictive, money-obsessed, narcissistic and ignorant he might be, it’s all hard-wired into the political mindscape.

(It doesn’t bode well for Number 46, whoever that’s going to be….)

“…the combination of decades of disillusion, along with decades of Trump’s behavior hiding in plain sight, go a long way to explaining why Woodward’s merciless account has changed so little… Long before Trump, our would-be leaders began to strive to convince us not of their heroic stature, but their human dimensions.” (Politico Magazine)

The knowledge therefore that, to go with the Hobbit-like dimensions of his tiny hands and feet, the Leader of the Free World has a winkie like a button-mushroom and not much clue what to do with it; even banging a porn star while his undocumented new wife was still nursing their infant son, and being spanked on the bare bottom with a copy of Time magazine, might once have been Trump’s electoral undoing; not now.

Likely, the image will evoke feelings of maternal sympathy among the more matronly dumbfucks, and among those of his MAGA hat-wearing supporters for whom a very big gun collection has to substitute for whatever.

(Or a mushroom cloud? Ed.)

 

“…more than any book I have yet read on the subject, this is the dog’s bollocks.” – Uncle Bogler

This is not the world you imagine you are living in

The Good Book

For those interested in ‘The Russia Thing’, it might be an idea to read “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump“, by Michael Isikoff and David Corn.

It’s a tangled web, but to understand the Russia links between Paul Manafort, his former campaign chair; assorted oligarchs, and President Trump; the nefarious hacking or phishing attacks and disinformation campaigns of the different Russian intelligence services – why nobody took any notice of them until it was too late – and those notorious Clinton emails, this, more than any book I have yet read on the subject, is the dog’s bollocks.

In fact, I wish I had read it two years ago, had it been written then; it would have saved me making a fool of myself on too many occasions when I have Bogld or Commented on US politics, which I barely understand. What, for instance, is so secret about what the political parties, their staffers and pet pollsters get up to, that so much intrigue has to be gone into?

Anyone familiar with a British election will know, it’s just about making a few speeches about ‘strong and stable’ government; slagging-off your opponents’ economic incompetence; writing an almost convincing manifesto, and pushing it to the voters on the doormat, without overspending a legally enforceable budget the average US politician wouldn’t even notice gone from his pocket-change.

Isn’t it?

I mean, what made Manafort so valuable, he could get a $10 million a year contract to promote a ruthless Putin thug for President of a foreign country, the Ukraine, where he probably didn’t even speak the language? All he did was persuade the guy to wear sharper suits.

He’d been doing this shit for years, his firm handling PR for some of the most horrible tyrants on the planet: killers, rapists, kleptocrats and even reputed cannibals. Corrupt and squalid African dictators were his specialty: no wonder when he ran out of money for ostrich-skin jackets and New York apartments, he and his sidekick Gates gravitated to the Trump campaign.

And why didn’t Putin crony and suspect mafioso Oleg Deripaska (a yachty friend of our very own Lord Peter Mandelson’s) simply have him rubbed-out, if he’d run off with $19 million of the dodgy oligarch’s money, hidden it offshore and wouldn’t pay it back? Why bother suing him, when you’ve been sanctioned anyway. It seems he was dissuaded, once Paulie was on the inside of the campaign.

No, what you have to worry about is why Americans are so friggin’ helpless. Why, for instance, did a middle ranking FBI officer continue fruitlessly for months sending emails warning about an ongoing Russian cyber attack to a junior IT beanbag at the Democratic National Committee, who did nothing about it because he didn’t believe he was really dealing with the FBI, and couldn’t in any case find any evidence of Russian interference until he realized their malware was cunningly blocking his searches? Thus enabling Trump to claim the whole Russia thing was a Democratic put-up job?

Okay, I can talk – I just had to reconstruct this bit from an Autosave after I hit the wrong keys. But it’s worth a read if you want to make sense of a complex story and cut through the many lies and obfuscations of the Trump team and Putin’s predictable denials.

Of course Trump had business dealings with the Russians, and had had for three decades, right up until a couple of months after he was elected, maybe even now! Spoiler alert, but (apart from his cosmic ego) his entire motivation in running for the White House – he didn’t at first plan on getting in – was to raise his profile with Putin and get that prestigious Trump World Tower Moscow built, regardless of rumors of his behavior with Russia’s best prostitutes!

What he didn’t realize was that Putin was planning on getting him in; a nice double-game that would leave the Kremlin in charge of US foreign policy, especially towards the hated NATO and open up devastating divisions in American society.

Isikoff and Corn have cited multiple sources for their forensic analysis of the events of the past five years, albeit with a few inevitable gaps in the narrative. Some figures in the New York, Washington, Moscow and Kiev landscape are too mercurial to trace in their entirety, shadowy players flitting in and out trading a bit of gossip here, some deeper knowledge there; possibly the odd bit of misdirection and obfuscation. Many have since pled guilty to charges and are “flipping” on Trump.

And hanging over it all, the terrifying thought that there could be an even higher level of cyberwarfare only governments can command, even filthier malware that can bring your country’s entire infrastructure crashing down for months: no transportation, no power, no hospitals, no military, no industry, no internet – no food supplies…. Brexit!

Or is this just something they want you to believe?

In the main, “Russian Roulette” creates a convincing narrative of warfare by other means, the Gerasimov Doctrine, directed from the highest levels; both on the international stage, meddling with the electoral processes of Western countries and democracy itself, a concept anathema to Putin; and on a personal level, as the characters’ petty vendettas, overweening self-importance, greed and lawless mentalities play out.

This is not the world you imagine you are living in.

£16.99 in paperback, or less.

 

Retail news extra

Jumpin’ Jack’s Not Very Flash

Tesco has opened the first of a chain of discount mini-supermarkets, branded ‘Jack’s’. The report in The Guardian says:

“Heavy rain and winds did not deter bargain-hungry shoppers on the opening day of Tesco’s new discount chain, Jack’s, with long queues to enter the store and the car park overflowing. At 10am on Thursday, the formal opening time, 150 people were waiting to enter the new supermarket in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. The store is Tesco’s attempt to fend off the German discounters Aldi and Lidl.”

They got a free cupcake, and a jute bag-for-life. Grateful shoppers apparently then took the empty bag along to Aldi, down the street.

“Or we could just stand in the street and chuck groceries at you…”

What the report doesn’t really explain is why Tesco feels it needs to go to the extra expense of adding another chain of convenience stores to its stable of, er, convenience stores – and why, just to compete with Aldi and Lidl, it has given it a patronizingly downmarket name, thus weakening its own very famous brand, and briefed its store design team to make it look as completely shitty as possible?

Why not just lower your prices?

Marketing gurus, eh? Fucking overpaid baboons, the lot of ’em. I predict disaster.

 

GW: “Splish splash, I was takin’ a bath, ‘long about a Saturday nite”

Your old Gran thinks you’ve probably heard enough about Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut to last a month or two, as even the MSM (mainstream media) seems to have woken up to the synchronous superstorms as a sensational news story this past week.

So here are some of the less reported wild and wacky weather scenarios we’ve dug up from the litter of the past ten days:

Algeria: the city of Tebessa was underwater (12 Sept.) after flash-flooding during a torrential rainstorm washed away hundreds of cars. A child died and another is missing.

Turkey: 13th, a powerful storm dumped 147 mm rain in a day, caused flash-flooding in Bandirma, in the north of the country. Again, cars seem to have been the main victims. Is the planet telling us something?

Spain: the narrow streets of old medieval towns prove ideal for heavy rains to turn them into raging torrents. Several towns have been affected by flash-flooding since the 7th September. On the 14th, 50 mm rain fell on Malaga in under half-an-hour. Video has just been posted of a powerful storm that battered Granollers, north of Barcelona, on 7 Sept., felling trees and ripping off roofs. Intense rainfall brought flash-flooding to the city.

Climate & Extreme Weather News #136/ Indianfoodies website/

USA: as remnant hurricane Florence (32 dead) moves north, Virginia has been struck by destructive tornadoes – 1 dead. Up to 6 inches of rain flooded basements, stranded cars and prompted evacuations in two locations on the east side of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Monday night. There’s been severe flooding around Raleigh, Va. “Where these clusters of thunderstorms stall for a period of a few hours, localized flash flooding is likely, with rain rates of 1 to 4 inches per hour. If these clusters stall over parts of Iowa, southern Minnesota and southern Wisconsin, flash flooding might occur faster, given soil moisture remains high after last month’s flooding.” – The Weather Channel

Hurricane season news: Wunderground’s Bob Henson reports:

“…every ocean basin in the Northern Hemisphere is now running above average for accumulated cyclone energy … The Atlantic’s ACE is running 28% above average for this time of year, and the 10 named storms and 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic are both well ahead of average counts for this point in the season. … At least part of every ocean basin on Earth saw record-warm SSTs during August, according to NOAA’s monthly climate report issued on Monday.

(The Carolinas are still struggling with the aftermath of Florence, which broke all State records, dumping up to 33 inches of rain before moving north. Rivers are still rising, and the city of Wilmington (pop. 120,000) may be cut off for a second time since the weekend, requiring emergency supplies to be helicoptered in.) (Wunderground)

Nigeria: Mrs May’s raindancing has done the trick… 100 people have died during two weeks of intensive rainfall. Many areas have experience localized flash flooding, (while) wide areas of the country now face flooding from the country’s major rivers after long-term rainfall in Nigeria and river catchments in neighbouring countries caused the Niger and Benue rivers to rise to danger levels. (Edited from Floodlist report)

Office workers in Hong Kong thought they’d been hit by an earthquake.

Philippines: Over 70 dead and 50 missing after 135 mph Supertyphoon Mangkhut clipped the north of Luzon island; widespread crop and property damage. At least 4 people died after the storm made landfall again 80 miles from Hong Kong, where it blew the windows out of high-rise office blocks and rained papers off the desks. As of 17 September, Mangkhut had dissipated into a tropical depression and will continue to weaken. However parts of south west China and northern provinces of Vietnam could see intense rainfall and strong winds. (edited from Floodlist report – also, see CEWN #126 for video)

UK: Remnant Cat 1 hurricane Helene continued weakening rapidly along its forecast track, out of the Azores and up the Irish sea… feared windspeeds and rainfall totals failed to materialize over Ireland and western Britain. Unrelated, Storm Ali is, however, heading in off the north Atlantic 19 Sept. with forecast windspeeds of 80 mph. (Various sources)

Update: First of the season, Storm Ali brought winds gusting in the Scottish highlands to 115 mph. 2 people were killed, a woman in the Irish Republic when a caravan blew off a cliff; a workman in Northern Ireland when a tree fell on him. A number of people were injured by flying debris. Thousands of homes in Scotland without power.

A second storm is forecast for tomorrow, 20 Sept, further south, bringing up to 4 in. of rain and possible flooding to Wales; and another for Sunday 23rd. The words ‘atmospheric river’ have not passed the forecasters’ lips, but that is what the map looks like as the fragmented jetstream winds (175 mph) ferry a belt of rainstorms eastwards through northern Europe.

Climate news:

“Bad things can happen when you’re talking about a storm this size. It’s called Mother Nature.” – So ran a tweet from the chump-in-chief, Trump, warning Carolinians to evacuate ahead of H. Florence. Think Progress website has a report of new research he won’t want to hear:

“The authors of a bombshell new analysis, ‘The human influence on Hurricane Florence,’ disagree (that it’s just ‘Mother Nature’). They find that human-caused global warming has supercharged the atmosphere so much that it is boosting the very worst of the projected rainfall totals by more than 50 percent. (And they were talking about 18 inches, not 33…)

“ThinkProgress asked coauthor Dr. Michael Wehner of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) whether ‘your analysis allows us to say the storm is more than just Mother Nature?’ He replied in an email:

“‘Indeed. The most important message from this (and previous) analyses is that “Dangerous climate change is here now!’

Local news:

After waiting until a quarter past one for the rain to ease off, Hunzi and I took the plunge before his bladder exploded.

Almost literally plunging: the brief lull ended within a few minutes and it came bucketing down again. Luckily I had my golfing umbrella, that I use to deflect passing traffic. Only my left sleeve bore the brunt.

On the way we passed the nearby river monitoring station, where I now realized why workmen had been so busy the past couple of weeks.

The new river level gauges they’ve installed will give the management authority an extra 6 feet to play with.

Should they need as much, I fear for my neighbours across the street, whose houses are 3 feet below road-level and were flooded out in a 2-day storm, June 2012. The rise in river level was down to a mistake at the hydro-power dam upstream, not to Mother Nature, so it hasn’t happened since. But….

There’s Something They’re Not Telling Us….

 

Yellowstone News: The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, the Steamboat geyser, biggest in the park, has gone off yet again – that’s the 19th time this year (17 Sept). Normally 1 or 2 times a year, if at all, the frequency is now roughly every 4-5 days and getting shorter, with longer and more violent outwellings.

20 Sept: Part of the Norris Junction area of the park has been closed to visitors, as another geyser, Ear Spring (‘A normally docile hot pool’), has been chucking superheated steam, rocks the size of bowling balls and discarded junk 30 feet into the air. It hasn’t erupted since 1957. (US Geological Survey newsletter)

Other, normally quiescent geysers are also showing unprecedented activity. Groundwater temperature has increased to 206F. USGS also reports, a new geyser has formed near Old Faithful, and an 8-foot diameter area around it is ‘breathing’, ie the ground is rising and falling by 6 inches – every 10 minutes! (This is perfectly natural, apparently. Although no-one’s noticed before. Think: boiling porage…)

 

Censorship news:

‘Dutchsinse’, alias Michael Janitch, the St Louis-based earthquake forecaster, looks like he’s been finally shut down by a concert party of USGS and international geo-agencies who have put out a joint statement claiming he’s just a big fat liar. Your Old Granny, who has sat through many of his three-times daily roundups at agonizing length, has to say there’s no evidence of that. A more painfully honest truthsayer would be hard to find.

He actually has a better-than 80 per cent record of accurately predicting timings, locations and magnitudes of quakes to within reasonable self-set tolerances, based on a simple theory of mechanical pressure distribution across plate boundaries that the experts say is scientific bullshit, as: “you can’t predict earthquakes”. The problem is, he can – and does; without pretending to have supernatural powers.

So what is the point of milking taxpayers to maintain those official agencies, if the best they can manage is to tell people there’s just been an earthquake or a volcanic eruption somewhere – something the people on the spot might have noticed for themselves? What purpose does that serve? What good do they actually do? Oh, right, they measure things. And attack anyone they don’t agree with.

The point is, surely, that as a US citizen Janitch has a 1st Amendment right to promote his theory and telecast his analysis free from libellous censorship campaigns by aggrieved parties? He invites subscriptions, but his website is provided free of charge, with no paywall. So he’s not cheating anyone – and he’s right far more often than chance. Given his extensive global following, unlike USGS and the other agencies he may in fact have saved lives.

Veteran Yellowstone watcher Greeley, although unqualified as a geologist, is clearly serious in her intent and fairly clued-up, basing her analysis on years of reviewing publicly-available ground monitoring data; although she’s been predicting an eruption at any moment for the past five years at least.

I hope I’m not being unfair, because the data are becoming faintly alarming.

She may believe, but she doesn’t preach; it’s not her fault most of her followers seem to be on their knees night and day, wailing and gnashing their dentures – some unfortunately praying for the volcano to erupt soon, an event the Parks Department estimates could immediately cause 23 million casualties, so they can meet Jesus. That’s a heck of a line even for a good book signing.

If Greeley, and some less informed YouTube supervolcano doomsayers piggybacking on her website; also many less credible phenomenologists, are allowed to carry on promoting their end-of-the-world, second-coming scenarios and conspiracy twaddle, how is it that a knowledgable, intelligent and serious amateur like Janitch, however controversial his ideas, can be forced off the internet by vested interests?

Is it purely because they find him embarrassing – especially at a time when science itself is under attack from corrupt and irresponsible, unqualified politicians led by a climate-change denying US President, who really ought to know better?

Perhaps we should be told. My conspiracy theory is, they’re afraid he might one night forecast some truly terrible event, information over which they would have no control and that might cause mass panic when it came true.

Just sayin’.

 

 

 

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Johnny Head-in-Air – What’s happening to our sky?… I was Dudley Sutton… GW: The rain it raineth every day… Paying for our mistakes

Fake News Corner

How to go from belief to certainty in two lines, from The Times, Saturday 15th September:

MI5 believed Michael Foot was Soviet informant

Truth about former Labour leader emerges 23 years after he sued The Sunday Times for libel

And thus Mr Murdoch’s conservative-leaning press creates fake news and brings the entire industry into even greater disrepute. Nice.

“I’m gambling responsibly, with @BetGod…”
The CofE considers taking over Wonga’s £400m debt ledger.

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

(Joni Mitchell: Both Sides Now)

“…they simply materialized out of the moist air … growing all the while, until they formed smallish, imperceptibly slow-drifting, heavy-looking chunky white blobs hanging impossibly low at about 400 feet over the valley.

“Were they evolving intelligence?”

Johnny Head-in-Air – What’s happening to our sky?

Call me barmy if you like. But have the clouds somehow… changed their behavior, since you last looked?

As my legion of seven Likers, Spammers, Followers, Commenters and Those No Longer Reading This, muh li’l bogl will surely kno’, I walk my faithful schnorzer, Hunzi, twice a day in the exurban space that passes for our local park.

Past playing fields and over railway lines, through gorse-infested heath and overgrown, entangled woodland, by the broad-flowing river’s banks, over the bouncing footbridge and along the cycle path that leads romantically past the sewage works to the industrial estate.

Yet among all of my fellow-travelling, dog-fancying companions tramping through the valley every day, I seem to be the only one who ever looks up at the sky.

Messy Sky Syndrome

In fact – call me barmy if you like – I have been staring at it curiously now for weeks, occasionally taking photographs to remind myself that what I am seeing is real, and consistent. Johnny head-in-air, I will post some as soon as I can obtain the technology.

It seems so long ago now, but from the first week in May through to the second week in August, we enjoyed virtually unbroken sunshine and – for these isles – intense heat. (Why, I do declare, it may have touched 29 degrees here! Surely the seven-horned Beast of the Apocalypse is upon us!)

There was a fortnight during that time, probably in June, when the busy sky, normally filled twice a day with vapor trails – (I wearily acknowledge that some of you might genuinely believe the white stuff emanating from the power-plants of commercial jetliners is Aluminum hydroxide, with which the Deep State and NASA are plotting to alter the world’s weather in order to make you pay more tax on your welfare checks and take away your guns. Now read on…) – filled, as I say, with vapor trails, was blue and tranquil.

Small cloud nuclei just appeared from out of the blue…

I mentioned the absence of overflights at the normal times of the day, when holidaymakers and business types head out west across the coast and into the wild blue yonder, to one or two people I casually acknowledge most days, only to be greeted with nervous looks and polite shufflings.

Only one person advanced a theory, that it must be to do with training exercises for the big Royal flypast by the airforce, celebrating its centenary. I forebore to mention that there was no sign either of any military aircraft; the training reportedly taking place 300 miles away over the North Sea.

Otherwise, neither I nor anyone could think what might be causing it. Most hadn’t noticed, and few cared. And eventually, the planes came back. Had some unusual atmospheric phenomenon caused air traffic control to move our overflights elsewhere? I feel we need some clickbait here.

Since early August, when I got back from a week in France, where I had tired myself out by the Thursday – I haven’t been well – with workshops and concerts, and endured an enervating 12-hour multi-train journey home via two capitals, I’d also begun to notice that there might be something a bit – well – strange going on, up above the trees and beyond the wooded valley sides.

…and turned into fat, low-hanging blobs

Oh yes, I know, call me barmy if you like. Clouds is clouds, they come in all shapes and sizes, and there they usually are, floating around up there, some white, some gray, and they either rain on you or they don’t, and there’s never two the same. La-de-da.

Perhaps I had not been in the habit of observing the clouds so critically in the past, but I honestly can’t remember any weeks during my 68 summers when they seemed to come so persistently in so many shapes and sizes, all crowding separately into the same broad patch of sky, all at the same time, for days on end – and all looking remarkably alike.

It’s what I’ve come to call “messy sky syndrome”.

You have, have you not, an ever-lengthening list of observably different “types” of clouds (see the internet for details).

And more blobs… everywhere you look.

Heavy cumulus clouds, those large white masses like like giant teddy bears with round, pricked-up ears, spying on us over the valley sides. Lowering gray rainclouds, filling the sky from horizon to horizon as darker clouds scurry beneath. That peculiar “weatherless” weather we often get around Christmastime, when the dome of Heaven is just a featureless pale-beige blank, there’s no sun, wind, rain or snow and it’s neither hot nor cold.

Flocculent “mackerel sky” cirrhus clouds, broken into small, perfectly aligned pieces betokening “a change in the weather”; lenticular, cigarlike clouds, often mistaken for UFOs, polished by the wind; high, thin altus, sometimes torn into mare’s tails by shearing, competing winds; and combinations thereof; clouds made by trails of climate-changing chemicals (no, not really), blown by the jetstream at 35 thousand feet between the troposphere and the stratosphere, where governments secretly fly their commercial airliners, spreading out and joining up in wispy, feathery veils; stripey altus clouds making interesting patterns; die-straight lines of gloom-laden weather fronts looming in from the distant Atlantic; raggedy black after-the-storm storm clouds, as if in a Victorian novel, streaming across the baleful face of the moon.

Blobs merging, darkening

But how often do you see six, nine, ten different cloud types, all jostling messily at one and the same time for command of the sky; while divided sometimes into sections by distinct rivers of blue or odd, straight shadows cast by the invisible sun’s rays? And what’s with all these chunky, white blobs?

The other day, for instance. Hunzi and I headed out under a cloudless blue dome over the valley. A few minutes later, while crossing the footbridge we observed just a few thin puffs of white dust emerge faintly from the welkin, like anti-aircraft fire in the distance. As we watched, they grew and solidified – they were not blown into view by the wind, they simply materialized out of the moist air as the water droplets condensed in the heat of the late summer sunshine, until they formed smallish, imperceptibly slow-drifting, heavy-looking, chunky white blobs hanging impossibly low at about 400 feet over the valley – and began to flock together, growing all the while.

Blobs in formation over northern France, from TGV train, August

Within a few more minutes, the individual chunks were beginning to form co-operatives. Some were turning shadowy gray underneath as they thickened. Gradually, the sky was filled from every direction with more and more of these clumpy little cumuli, bonding together into one mass – yet retaining their discrete shapes – while off to the southwest, veiling the sun, covering a full quadrant of the sky had equally suddenly appeared a completely different type of formation, a broadly spreading region of cirrhus cloud made from tiny scales, like snakeskin.

Another messy sky….

Drifting beneath the mottled overcast were some brightly shining ribbons, pure white streamers of sea-clouds lancing in from the west; while woven among those here and there, although at greater altitude, were a few broken shreds of jet-trails; and transiting rapidly inland from the northwest at low altitude, in the distance, a line of raggedy, dark-gray remnants of storm clouds – although there had been no storm that we knew of. And with remarkable rapidity, the whole jumbled skyscape began to coalesce into a full overcast; but almost as soon, it broke apart again and the sun poured through, and the sky turned blue once more over the valley.

What’s keeping them up?

It was, to put it graphically, total chaos – a complete mess. And far from the only time we had observed a similar battle going on. It happens now, whenever we get a sunny – as opposed to a ten-tenths overcast, rainy – day. These small, chunky, white clouds miraculously appear, along with many other types, and self-organize into short-lived weather systems before breaking up again and vanishing.

It sometimes feels like they’re evolving intelligence.

On the train à grande vitesse back from the Loire, swishing silently across the vast and featureless tank-terrain of the Pas de Calais north of Paris, with its scattered wind turbines and clumps of no-more-than-40-years young trees outlining broad fields with practical-looking irrigation gantries, occasionally dotted with postwar-reconstructed farmsteads and tiny hamlets, where I often think we could profitably layout London’s sixth airport and leave poor historic Harmondsworth village standing, I photographed an amazing display of those blobs; those weighty, chunky blobs of cumulus, behaving almost with cloud-intelligence as they progressively marshalled themselves into one enormous military formation that stretched for miles towards the Belgian frontier.

“Something has changed…”

Many different cloud types battle for the sky…

Has it always been like this? Am I just foolishly imagining that the clouds today seem different from the clouds I’ve carelessly only half-observed in the past; clouds, for instance, as depicted by John Constable’s landscape paintings seen in galleries, that always seem like late-Georgian society: so well-ordered and forming coherent – if possibly a little threatening – structures in the distance, to point up the fragility of his nostalgic interpretations of a vanishing bucolic way of life – the Pathetic Fallacy immured in art? What is the message of the blobs?

“There is anywhere from 5 to 8% more water vapor circulating throughout the atmosphere than there was a generation ago.” (Guardian article on superstorms)

What are our new skies, our disruptive, rogue clouds; our unexpected emergences and heavy, low-hanging chunks of white and gray bumping about like dodgem cars before joining forces as self-organizing systems independent of the wind, our sinister “teddy bears” on the horizon, that never seem to move from day to day; those high, wispy shreds being ripped apart by fierce winds of change while lower clouds puff serenely by like Indian smoke-signals; our menacing, reptilian veils of cirrhus across the struggling sun; those well-drilled martial formations, trying to tell us now?

Another ‘messy sky’ near my house

Sometimes I find myself on YouTube, clicking on videos posted by (invariably) Americans helplessly trying to explain everyday phenomena to paranoid viewers of even less sophistication; and yet marvelling at the images sent in by contributors of the most incredible, extraordinary cloud formations. Huge, rival black storm fronts shearing across one another as a Michelangelo light breaks through the angelic host between; great mushrooms of cloud thousands of feet high, polished into strange and frightening shapes by unimaginably powerful winds; terrifying funnel-clouds touching down on the prairie behind vulnerable clapboard farmhouses, where Mom, Dad and the kids are hopefully safe in their basement tornado shelters; impossible geometric figures intelligently designed by water, wind, heat and barometric pressure; spectacular sunsets; the seemingly tranquil white mashed-potato whorls of violent hurricanes when seen from space. These Americans all think cloud phenomena are signs of God’s righteous anger, and fall to their knees like savages.

A storm over Siberia… where they do things on a bigger scale.

Being an island, we don’t have magnificent, awesome skies like the Americans or the Russians do. Or any weather extremes, come to that.

It’s only a feeling. Something has changed; something in the air. Things “up there” are not quite the same as they’ve always been. Messy sky syndrome – with blobs – is the new normal: the relationship between the sun and the atmosphere seems to be rebalancing.

It’s probably just those damned Deep State chemtrails, I tell you. They’re changing the weather to suit the demands of late capitalism.

Messy cloud sunset over Boglington-on-Sea, June 2018.

I was Dudley Sutton

The death, aged 85, in a London hospice, after a long illness, of the actor known as ‘Dudley Sutton’ reminds me that I was once ‘Dudley Sutton’.

The event has received a gratifying amount of publicity, considering that his glory days were quite far behind him. For several years during the 1980s and early 90s ‘Dudley’ famously played the part of ‘Tinker’ Bell, a louche character in a popular TV comedy-drama series about a roguish antique dealer with a heart of gold, mysteriously called just ‘Lovejoy’, starring the diminutive Ian McShane. Always wearing a flat cap, Tinker was the reliable sidekick, the much put-upon bloke who helped shift (and fake) the antiques – a familiar character on the London scene.

Your Uncle Bogler

Emerging from RADA and the famed Joan Littlewood company in the East End, ‘Dudley’ was a busy character actor, as the hardworking and versatile B-listers of stage and TV screen are known, who pop up here and everywhere playing odd parts; often in surprising productions. In addition to the usual quota of terrible films and long-departed TV soaps and sitcoms, ‘Dudley’ worked with directors of the calibre of Ken Russell and Federico Fellini. He seems to have been a much-loved colleague, judging by the many tributes pouring in.

None of them recognising that I was the real ‘Dudley Sutton’.

‘Dudley’ had a distinctive, fruity burr of a voice that got him a lot of work doing commercial voiceovers. It’s what keeps most jobbing actors alive. In the late 1970s and early 80s, after a failed shot at a career in TV news, I too had been getting increasing amounts of work writing scripts for what are known as ‘corporates’ – short training and promotional films, audiovisual presentations and the like. That was in the days before digital handheld cameras and PowerPoint.

Because it worked out cheaper for the producers, a little more lucrative for me; and because I had done quite a lot of presentation work on radio and had a vaguely familiar voice, certainly to a London audience, a fluent reader, I would frequently be cast to do the voiceover narrations of my own scripts.

So valued are writers, that you could be paid as much just for reading out the words for a few minutes as you got for spending two whole weeks researching and writing the actual script*. I soon gained a reputation for ‘one-take’ reliability and professionalism; but I wasn’t yet getting enough commissions to pay the mortgage.

So, imagining foolishly that I could possibly make a career out of it, I signed to the leading voiceover artists’ agency, Talkies. The agency was attached to the Redwood Studios in London’s Soho, where I did a lot of the recordings. There, they kept a growing bank of sample voice tapes that producers and their clients could listen to, and select what and whom they imagined had the most appropriate style to deliver the message: the ability to do accents; funny, straight, authoritative, newsy, shouty and so on, to which I added my own dulcet tones.

Anyway, another year or so went by and I was still struggling along, having had absolutely no work at all from the agency; not even a 30-second commercial. One day, while recording the narration for one of my scripts, I asked André, the boss, what had happened to my demo tape, because it didn’t seem to be producing much money, and a chap needs to eat. Was there something wrong with my voice, or me, maybe?

He duly looked into it, and with some embarrassment Beth, the woman who ran Talkies, got back to me to confess that my tape had accidentally been filed under the wrong artist’s name.

Reader, the name on the sticky label adhering to my voice tape was ‘Dudley Sutton’!

I can’t honestly claim he was getting all the work that wasn’t coming to me. By then it was too late anyway; I had moved on, signing up for a job as a badly paid writer with a terrible advertising agency out in the sticks. I’m now a retired domestic caretaker with nothing to do but this. My career, needless to say, never took shape in quite the way ‘Dudley’s did, the old impostor. Nor did I ever go to RADA….

RIP.

* (I once got paid £90 for 30 seconds’ work, being the voice of a newsreader coming out of the radio on the sideboard in a Stephen Frears TV drama… = £94 million a year, pro rata!)

If you want to know why we’re having these big storms all of a sudden, here’s a color-enhanced map showing the chaos that is the high-speed jetstream wind that controls the weather in the northern hemisphere, at 10 Sept. A few years ago it would have been just a wavy line following roughly the Arctic circle (70N). (Courtesy of “Sam Carana”)

GW: The rain it raineth, every day

Hurricane Florence: “Radar data from the Morehead City, NC radar showed that Florence’s outer spiral bands began dumping heavy rains over the Outer Banks and much of Eastern North Carolina on Thursday morning. Rainfall amounts of 0.5 – 1.0 inch per hour were common, with a few heavy cells generating higher rainfall rates. A Personal Weather Station in Emerald Isle, NC picked up 2.9” of rain in just 40 minutes at 10 am EDT.”

“The most concerning forecast continued to be from our top model for forecasting hurricanes, the European model, whose 0Z Thursday run predicted that Florence’s stall would occur very near shore along the NC/SC border, with the hurricane then traversing the northern half of the coast of South Carolina just offshore, until making landfall Saturday night near Charleston. This would allow Florence to keep its eye over water, greatly increasing the amount of rain it can generate, and would subject a very long stretch of coast to high winds and a destructive storm surge. Our other top models–the GFS, HWRF, UKMET, and HMON–all predicted Florence would move ashore near the NC/SC border, then turn to the west-southwest over land. On this track, Florence would still keep a large part of its circulation overwater and dump extreme rains, but would not bring a devastating storm surge and hurricane-force winds to a long stretch of coast. By Sunday, Florence should be headed due west towards the Appalachian Mountains.” (Wunderground)

The biggest threat is from the storm surge, coming on top of the normal 5-ft tides experienced along a section of the Carolina coastline. These may be increased at this time of year by what are called King Tides – what we call Spring tides – associated with the full moon.

STOP PRESS: Friday pm, 5 dead. (Sunday: 14 dead) We don’t understand. All the weather reports and Bob Henson at Wunderground have Florence stalling over Wilmington, S Carolina; then tracking southwards, down the coast to Georgia. But the tracking on the Weather Channel maps shows it moving inland as a Cat 1, and then curving northwards toward Ohio, Washington DC, New Hampshire – past New York – and on up into Maine and Nova Scotia…. What is going on? (Answer yes, that’s what it’s doing.)

Anyway, there’s now extensive flooding, the town of New Bern near Wilmington is under 10ft of water. A lot of silly people – over 300 – didn’t evacuate when warned, and are trapped in their attics, calling for help. Tough?

Caribbean: Isaac is just chuntering on as a Tropical Depression into the Caribbean, not hitting anything much as it passes between Cuba and Dominica. There’s no prediction of it strengthening as yet. Update: Sunday, Isaac has fallen apart and is no longer even a Tropical Depression. Sorry folks, nothing moreto see there.)

Meanwhile: “Meteorologists are also keeping an eye on yet another tropical disturbance that’s spinning in the western Gulf of Mexico. The hurricane center is giving the system a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm within the next five days. Heavy rainfall and gusty winds are expected across portions of north-eastern Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana on Friday and Saturday.”  (USA Today)

India: While we’re wazzing (school slang, perfect word) about Florence, “Days of heavy rain from 05 Sept. caused flooding in several districts of Odisha in eastern India, affecting around 90,000 people. … at least 41 locations recorded more than 100 mm of rain in 24 hours to 06 September, 2018 and a further 25 locations the next day.

Turkey: State Meteorological Service reported that wide areas of the Marmara region, including Istanbul, experienced thunderstorms that began during the afternoon of 13 September. Şarköy in Tekirdağ Province recorded 105.6mm of rain in 24 hours to 14 September. The city of Kastamonu was hit with large hail (that) smashed windows of vehicles and buildings and damaged roof tiles. Meanwhile: “Raging flood waters swept through the town of Ronda in Malaga, southern Spain yesterday, 13 Sept. In a similar fashion to the flooding that struck in Toledo earlier this week, streets turned to rivers after a short period of torrential rain. Local observers said that over 50 mm fell in just 30 minutes. (Floodlist)

Western Pacific: “Tropical Cyclone Mangkhut (much bigger and fiercer than Florence) formed over the North West Pacific Islands on 07 Sept. and moved toward Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, causing wind damage and some flooding from heavy rain. Since then Mangkhut has strengthened and is moving towards the Philippines (now as a maximum Cat 5 Supertyphoon, with wind speeds exceeding 200 mph). It is forecast to continue west-north-west and reach northern Luzon and the Babuyan Islands (Philippines) on 14-15 Sept. Heavy rain, storm surge and strong winds, flooding and landslide are likely to affect the northern Philippines, southern Taiwan and possibly next Hong Kong and parts of southern China around the Pearl River (pop. 150 million).

Saturday pm: 12 dead. Sunday: “Over 60…” 100 mph winds start to batter Hong Kong. 2.6 million evacuated.

Hawaii: “Tropical Depression Olivia continues to move west away from Hawaii. Heavy rain and winds from Olivia downed trees, knocked out power and prompted evacuations of several homes on Hawaii’s Maui island but spared the state widespread damage Wednesday.” (USA Today)

British Isles: Former Cat 1 hurricane, now downgraded to Tropical Storm, Helene is on track to make waves up the Irish Sea on Tuesday, probably as a weakening depression passing between Wales and Ireland. Meanwhile a new intruder, Subtropical Storm Joyce seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Little tracking info is available as yet, but it looks to be on-course for Galicia, the Spanish province north of Portugal, and thence possibly up through the Bay of Biscay into Brittany or a bit further north to southern England, on the heels of Helene.

Save the world

Scientists at Imperial College, London, have called on the UK government to plant trees and use less chemicals to take carbon dioxide from the air. (Deep breath….)

“Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, called the report ‘crucially important’ for the UK’s low-carbon future. ‘It shows the UK can take its carbon emissions down to net zero by around mid-century.’ He pointed ahead to a major report coming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change next month, which is expected to find that the world must achieve net zero emissions by 2050 to meet the Paris agreement targets. (Guardian report)

What the fuck, who are these idiots kidding? Do they not read?

“António Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, told global leaders this week that the world has ‘less than two years’ to avoid runaway climate change. ‘If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change,’ Guterres said during a speech at the U.N. headquarters in New York.”

Guterres is not the only climate pessimist. Leading climate scientists contributing to the Arctic News website are fully committed to sometime between 2026 and 2030 as the final stage in an inevitable extinction event that will eradicate human civilization and, possibly, humans – along with most other species.

Has, in fact, already begun.

What do they mean by “runaway climate change”? Well, we’re talking possibly 10C degrees of warming within “a few years”, as a result of the loss of Arctic sea ice leading to enhanced warming of the region, where more than 50 Gt of methane gas lies trapped on the seabed and in the surrounding permafrost. The gas, up to 300 times more potent as a heat-retainer than CO2,  is already pouring out and concentrations are rising alarmingly fast.

Permanent loss of the polar ice will, according to some scientists, mean the center of cold air moving to Greenland, with a corresponding shift in the center of the circumpolar jetstream winds. A huge change would then be expected in the ocean currents surrounding the pole, with corresponding effects on the weather in the northern hemisphere.

The planet has not warmed overall by more than 1 degree at any time in the past 1.5 million years. The Paris targets are a sop to Western governments reluctant to promote a less consumptive economy: they are totally meaningless in terms of real-world emissions, which cannot be reversed in time whatever extreme measures we take. And we are not about to take any.

Oh, and by the way – it takes 30 years for a tree to mature sufficiently to make a measurable contribution to CO2 absorption. That’s if it hasn’t been felled and burned for biomass.

Unfortunately, in a warmer world forest fires will increase, emitting massive quantities of CO2 and reducing the capacity of the world’s remaining forests to absorb it.

 

Paying for our mistakes

IN 2017, Trump put a man called Barry Lee Myers in charge of the nation’s weather bureau, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Myers has no scientific qualification but is the CEO (and younger brother of the founder) of AccuWeather, a multimedia enterprise that profits mightily from selling forecasts and advertising on its outlets.

Two interesting things about AccuWeather are that it invented and has patented the “secret” formula for calculating, not what the temperature actually is, but what it “feels like”; there’s a lesson there somewhere; and its long-range forecasts are found to be mostly bullshit.

Wikipedia has a more interesting story that illustrates the grotesque corruption involved in the relationships between politics and industry.

“On April 14, 2005, U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced the “National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005” in the U.S. Senate. The legislation would have forbidden (my italics) the National Weather Service from providing (free) information directly to the public. The legislation was generally interpreted as an attempt by AccuWeather to profit off of taxpayer-funded weather research by forcing its delivery through private channels. The bill did not come up for a vote. Santorum received campaign contributions from AccuWeather’s president, Joel Myers.”

The story illustrates a possible ulterior motive for Trump’s crusade against scientific information and his gutting of the EPA and other federal agencies involved in the public promulgation of, among other important subjects, climate research. Presumably, rather than a reflection of the President’s anti-scientific bias, or of his crass and untutored insensitivity, it is a sop to party funders who can increasingly charge people for this somewhat vital service.

The final thing about AccuWeather is the annoying paywall they’ve erected on their website. If you want ad-free reports on extreme weather events, your old Granny Weatherwax moans, they expect you to pay for them, regardless of whether or not the ads can ever actually sell you anything – because you don’t live in bloody America.

 

 

 

Florence Special, plus: Fucking Boris, again… You read it here first #197… Ready when you are, Mr Trump… GW: Ooh, what a spin I’m in…

Quote of the Week

Today’s generation doesn’t have the luxury of being able to argue that it was never warned or did not understand the consequences of where lies will take you. … If disaster comes, you will find that all the myths you once cherished are of no use to you.

– Stanislaw Aronson, 93, veteran of the Warsaw uprising (Guardian)

 

“If he would betray his marriage and his four kids, who would he not betray?

Fucking Boris, Again

“Key allies of Boris Johnson rallied behind the former foreign secretary on Saturday night, insisting that news of his divorce and stories about his personal life would do nothing to damage his chances of succeeding Theresa May as Conservative leader after Brexit.”

– “Divorce News Won’t Mar Any Johnson Leadership Bid, Say Tories” – Guardian 08 Sept.

Dear Tories

It would be ironic, would it not, if a fat, middle-aged, serial shagger with the self-publicizing morals of an alley-cat, thrashing around in the midst of yet another hormonal crisis, were to succeed the lifelong married vicar’s daughter as the leader of the party.

Why, it would be just like old Tory times!

Ousting a paragon whose worst ever sin was to run laughing gaily through the farmer’s field of wheat; golden in the mercy of His means. (Worst, that is, before allowing herself to be filmed dancing with Africans, like an injured stork.)

Especially if he were a notoriously lazy and incompetent minister who treats the electorate and everyone else as fools – which in his case, they are. A careless, thoughtless racist who describes black people as ‘piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles” and Muslim women as “letterboxes”. Today, deploying another Islamophobic meme, he deliberately likens the PM’s Brexit policy to a “suicide vest”. Trump will like that.

(Like Trump, he does it deliberately to fire up his dumbfuck base. And just as with Trump, nobody puts him in prison for it; although God help anyone else who says those hateful things.)

“Many who before regarded legislation on the subject as chimerical, will now fancy that it is only dangerous, or perhaps not more than difficult. And so in time it will come to be looked on as among the things possible, then among the things probable;—and so at last it will be ranged in the list of those few measures which the country requires as being absolutely needed. That is the way in which public opinion is made.” – Anthony Trollope, Phineas Finn. (From Wikipedia)

For “legislation on the subject”, read “Alexander “Boris” dePfeffel Johnson; arse at large”.

You are, are you not, you Tories, now all utterly without shame, humility or moral scruple. Your entire existence is reduced to a zero-sum game: do we get back in, or not? With or without a second referendum, a deal, no deal – and the hell with the consequences? The hell, too, with good governance: the poor are crying out for an end to your oppression, the fragile threads holding our society together are breaking apart, and you aren’t hearing or seeing them in your solipsism.

The calculus is that Johnson will come out of this, his latest marital fuck-up, smelling – if not of roses, then at least of Nina Ricci – or he will be doomed to Churchillian temporary oblivion, and round we go again.

What he needs is a good war.

What he’s going to get is another global economic crisis; this one potentially terminal. Is he up to it?

The point surely is not that Johnson’s wife is divorcing him, probably not before time. He has said, rather pathetically, that he is looking for somewhere to live. I imagine him ironing his yellowing underpants in a bedsit in Pimlico, smelling of unwashed socks, Jeremy Kyle on the telly. Visiting day with the kids!

It’s not even necessarily the point, that he has had yet another extramarital affair – Marina, the mother of his four children (apart from at least one by-blow we know of), knew perfectly well what she was getting into.

It’s just that, hashtag Metoo, the other attractive blonde bit of totty concerned is, or was at the time, an EMPLOYEE. And we just don’t go there any more, do we.

Suzanne Moore wrote in The Guardian last Friday:

“Apparently allies of Johnson know that his infidelity is written into his “price” and his supporters won’t mind. They certainly haven’t minded about his attitudes to women in the past. His writing about “hot totty” at Labour conference, his ludicrous remarks about breast size, his general ogling is part of his brand. He is Trumpian in his appetites and in his disregard for the morality of little people.”

That’s you and me, by the way. Going to vote for him? Think he’d make a good Prime Minister?

His dumbfuck supporters, who think they’re voting for a refreshing change rather than for a narcissistic middle-aged Lothario who can’t keep it in his pants, normally a signal to MI5 that a politician is not to be trusted around State secrets, won’t mind because they don’t ask. They don’t know. But they would care, surely?

“Mr Johnson’s long-suffering wife Marina Wheeler (QC) announced the divorce yesterday after tiring of the 54-year-old womaniser’s antics”, wrote the Daily Mail. “He is said to have been juggling Brexit with secret trysts with a blonde Tory party aide.”

No cover-up… The hurricane of publicity trumps the winds of history: Boris, the no-hoper.

Okay, take a deep breath. You’re a Johnson supporter. Good old Boris, such a refreshing change (forget the £27 million debacle of the garden bridge. Forget the betrayal of Nazanin Zagari-Ratcliffe (he has). And you voted Leave, didn’t you, because you trusted him and his promise to refund the crumbling NHS, where you can’t get an appointment with a GP inside three weeks although they work only 3.5 days a week and you’ve never seen the waiting room even half-full. We feel your pain.

It’s all going to be great, a rollercoaster ride to global prosperity with red, white and blue lollipops for all, after the pain wears off.

He has a plan, surely? He must have a plan – other than telling the other 27 countries of the EU to “go whistle”?

And while he was courageously battling Monsieur Barnier and the faceless sausage-munchers of Brussels on your behalf, you now know that all the time he was holed up in some posh hotel in London, grunting like a pig with his trousers round his ankles, his patriotic little winkle balls deep in some ambitious blonde intern*.

Probably in front of a mirror.

Not only that, but he is said to have hit on the employee, whatever the silly girl is, while he was in the middle of an affair with a different Tory party worker. Go, Boris! It sounds like they’re queuing three deep to get a shot of those Johnson genes. True, after Brexit we shall need all the home-grown semen we can get, but this guy’s spending like a good ‘un. And (incidentally) seems to have been abusing his position as the Foreign Secretary all the while.

Was this why he resigned? Nothing to do with Brexit, then? Opposition to the Chequers plan that he’d approved only days earlier? Nothing to do with his contempt for the oik, David Davis? Just to avoid bringing possible opprobrium on the sacred Office of State, if the Daily Mail had got wind of the affair while he might have been jiggling some ingenue on his lap, or going at it over the desk at the FO after lights out?

Given the global furore there has been over rich slobs like Harvey Weinstein and the Trumps, père et fils, abusing their positions of power to launch their damaged egos at anything that moves, probably even at the rats overrunning their offices, you would imagine Johnson might have noticed the climate of opinion re knocking-off the secretaries and just held back for a while, but no.

He’s incontinent. A massive security risk. A total fatberg. If he would betray his marriage and his four kids, who would he not betray? If he imagines he is immune to public opinion, why would he not also think himself immune to more serious charges, of bonking for Vladimir for example?

He doesn’t give a damn about the women he uses, about loyalty, about the party, anything. He’s driven only by his fears of waning masculinity, his broadening arse, his overprivileged ego; the ease with which he can manipulate the media, and the desperate ambition that is eating what used to be his considerable brain. The famous disarming charm is wearing thin.

But you’re going to vote for him, you dumbfucks.

Because he’s such a refreshing change.

 

*It seems I may have been a little precipitous here. The Daily Mail, who employ a team of 376 reliable celebrity gossip specialists and one writer, are today betting on:

“Revealed, the party-loving blonde linked to Johnson’s marriage breakdown”

“Carrie Symonds, the party’s former director of communications, was linked to the former Foreign Secretary after it was claimed that he had developed a ‘strong friendship’ with the blonde in the months leading up to his separation from wife Marina. Ms Symonds, 30, has been a high-profile figure in Westminster for nearly a decade, holding senior positions at Tory HQ and as an adviser to Cabinet Ministers. She regularly posts glamorous pictures of herself on social media, including one photograph of herself striking a pose while standing on the bonnet of a car in the grounds of Parliament.”

As advisors to Cabinet Ministers are wont to do.

And one can indeed see how one compulsive exhibitionist like Johnson would be attracted to another, over his boring old family, his sensible wife. Did the Tory party-lovin’ spin-doctor make his shaggy head “spin”? For details, see: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/index.html

Phwoarh, what a Carrie-on! (photo: en.mogazn…/Google Images)

You read it here first #197

We have previously bogld on the question of why did Boris and Govey and the neoliberals’ neoliberal, li’l Steve Baker and old tortoise-head, Cunting Smith and the other filthy Brexit plotters simply melt away when St Theresa was dragged forward reluctantly by the 1922 Praetorian Guard to become the party leaderene in the wake of Cameron’s cowardly ratting on the job?

Those uber-bastards, fifty of whom were reported last night to be holding a coven together, openly planning a mutiny against the PM and her dead-in-the-water Chequers agreement to leave the EU without, er, leaving it….

We speculated satirically that after six years as Home Secretary overseeing MI5, the homeland security boys a’ snoopin’ and a’ snitchin’, she would certainly have known where all the bodies were buried. Surprise, surprise: “War Over Dirty Dossier“, headlines the Sunday Times today, 9 Sept. “Documents on his sex life drawn up by May’s aides…”

You read it here first, about two years ago!

x

Ready when you are, Mr Trump

Federal Emergency Management Administration

Response and Recovery

“The Response and Recovery program coordinates the core federal response capabilities used to save lives, and protect critical infrastructure in communities throughout the Nation (sic) that have been overwhelmed by the impact of a major disaster or an emergency. The program also takes the lead among federal agencies, state and local governments, and representatives of non-governmental organizations to support individuals and communities with the goal of reducing losses, improving recovery operations, and promoting resilience.”

In May, shortly before the start of the 2018 hurricane season, the Trump Administration privately transferred $9.8 million out of FEMA’s emergency response funds to help shore up the budget for ICE, the immigration control agency, to cover the extra costs of seizing and locking up the children of refugee asylum seekers in detention camps; some as young as 18 months.

The item was buried in an appropriations bill that just happened to have been scrutinized by Democrat senator, Jeff Merkley.

As 160 mph Cat 4 Hurricane Florence was bearing down on the Carolinas and their complement of panicking humans, rickety shoreline houses and nuclear power plants (at least 6 are in its path), Trump trumpeted that the nation had never been better prepared for an event which, forecast the master meteorologist, would be “tremendously big, and tremendously… wet”.

Meanwhile the death toll from last year’s Hurricane Maria, that devastated Puerto Rico, has been officially raised to a number oddly coincident with that of 9/11, 2,975 – in both cases the numbers killed in the initial event have been swollen in their aftermath by official neglect and ignorance.

Several news channels have reminded us today of Trump’s astonishing, self-congratulatory encomia about how his administration’s response to Puerto Rico a year ago had been probably the greatest ever to any disaster; an unsung triumph. We were treated once more to archival images of him, throwing kitchen paper rolls at the survivors.

All other accounts however refer to its complete inadequacy – any failings, says the President, were down to the extreme difficulty of getting to Puerto Rico, an island dependancy of the USA, across ‘a lot of water, ocean water’; the poverty of its prior infrastructure, its ‘bankruptcy’ – compounded by FEMA’s total incompetence in the matter of assigning large-scale reconstruction contracts to mainland-based companies they found on Linked-In, with as few as one employee.

(Among his other irrational morbid dreads, the President clearly is suffering from hydrophobia.)

Responding by tweet to Monday’s anniversary of 9/11, Trump launched yet another whining, self-justifying denial of ‘collusion’ with Russia and claimed there was an increasing amount of documentary evidence connecting Hillary Clinton to the Kremlin – although none has been produced. Of the events of 9 September, 2001, his admiration for the responders and his commiserations with he relatives, the President of the United States said nothing. He later attended a gathering of survivors and relatives, and was caught on camera giving a victory salute to himself.

TYT’s Cenk Uygur reminded us yesterday of what Trump had said on a radio phone-in on the evening of the 9/11 attack: boasting that, with the demolition of the World Trade Center’s twin towers, with nearly 3,000 office workers and responders burned or crushed to death beneath them, people still dying in the rubble, the area still on fire, his own building, Trump Tower, was now “the tallest in New York”.

This sociopathic monster needs to be confined to a secure facility and deprived permanently of his cellphones. Not the White House, a real one.

STOP PRESS: Federal authorities have said they will not be evacuating 1,000 prisoners from the Ridgeland Correctional Institute on the coast of South Carolina, as 160 mph super hurricane Florence bears down on them. Fears are also being expressed for pollution from vast agricultural waste storage facilities as many giant industrial pig and chicken farms,  sewage treatment works and ‘toxic coal-ash dumps’ also lie in the path of the storm. (Democracy Now!)

“North Carolina has roughly 2,100 industrial-scale pork farms containing more than 9 million hogs typically housed in long metal sheds with grated floors designed to allow the animals’ urine and feces to fall through and flow into nearby open-air pits containing millions of gallons of untreated sewage.” (The Guardian)

Okay, carry on…

Storm over Miami, Fla (Cater’s News Agency)

GW: Ooh, what a spin I’m in…

Fast-moving events this week make maintaining an account valid for Thursday somewhat problematic, but here goes.

Hurricane Florence, still heading for the eastern seaboard of the USA, is moving slowly towards (now past) Bermuda and possibly could become the highest Category 5 over warmer waters and one of the most destructive hurricanes to hit the east coast in decades.

The forecast is for an incredible event: Florence is expected to stall over the coast for up to THREE DAYS… potentially dropping more than 35 inches of rain. Fortunately the Outer Banks area of N Carolina is thinly populated, even so up to 10-in is possible inland to Virginia and up into New York as the rotation widens. (The target now appears to be the more populous city of Wilmington.)

“As well as Florence, likely to become a Superstorm by Thursday several hundred miles across, “The Atlantic and Pacific are ginning up at least four other systems that are already—or soon predicted to be—at hurricane strength. Each of these is likely to affect land, with an unusual cluster of simultaneous U.S.-affiliated targets.” (Wunderground)

Weather wars, no doubt.

STOP PRESS: Monday 10 Sept. Wunderground confirms, “With rapid intensification forecast, Florence is predicted by the National Hurricane Center to reach the North Carolina coast on Thursday as a weakening Cat 3, one of the strongest landfalls so far north in U.S. history. Massive rains could occur for days afterward.” A tidal surge is predicted over the shallow coastline of 10 to 12 feet. 1.5 million residents have been advised to flee, and the US Atlantic fleet has put to sea. Even Mr Trump has noticed, tweeting people to stay safe. Right…

Olivia is encountering problems and may not make it to Cat 1 before it passes over Maui and fizzles out as a Tropical Storm, even so a rare visitor to Hawaii offering up to 15-in rain over Maui island. New, Tropical Storm Paul isn’t expected to make landfall anywhere.

Helene has become a mid-size Cat 1 hurricane, 145 miles south of the Cape Verde islands. It seems to be taking a sharp northwards turn into the mid-Atlantic, from where it MIGHT make landfall next week in the British Isles, hopes the Daily Express.

“Gales and torrential downpours threaten to hammer swathes of the country early next week if Helene makes a direct hit on the UK. However the tropical storm could narrowly swerve the country and instead supercharge a sweltering blast of heat already poised to send thermometers rocketing towards 30C (86F). Helene’s path and impact will depend on whether she collides with the jet stream over the coming days and the atmospheric conditions over Britain after the weekend, experts say.” (Express)

“Compact Tropical Storm Isaac (only 45 miles wide) was on the verge of hurricane status at 5 pm EDT Sunday, with top sustained winds of 70 mph.” Heading for the Windward Islands and the Lesser Antilles, on the edge of the Caribbean, thinks Bob Henson; who is also watching a Tropical Disturbance forming south of the Gulf that could intensify over 30 deg. C. warm waters and bring yet more flooding to Texas and Louisiana.

Pacific Typhoon Mangkhut is “on track to pass through the U.S. commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands early Monday EDT as a Category 3-strength typhoon”, on its way to Guam and the Anderson Airforce Base. Unnamed Tropical Depression 27 is just passing over Luzon, Philippines. A rough week ahead in peak hurricane season.

UPDATE, Wednesday 12th: “Millions are at risk from a strong typhoon set to smash into the northern Philippines this weekend which could bring floods, landslides and huge waves to the disaster-prone nation. Emergency workers have been deployed in the northern tip of the main Philippine island of Luzon, where Cat 4 Supertyphoon Mangkhut is expected to make landfall on Saturday, with gusts of 270km per hour. ‘We’re worried for the 10 million people living in the path of this destructive storm,’ said Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross.” (http://www.channelnewsasia.com)

Next stop, Hong Kong….

USA: “Heavy rain, enhanced by the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon, caused severe flooding in parts of Kentucky and Missouri between 07 to 09 Sept. At least 2 people have died. Parts of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania also saw heavy rainfall. … Slow-moving storms over the weekend caused flooding in parts of Texas. Local media report that 2 people died when their vehicle was dragged away by flood water in Fort Worth. (Floodlist)

Checking on some residual September heatwave numbers, I see Phoenix, Az. is still running at around 106F, 41C every day this week, with temperatures not falling below the mid-80s F overnight. Palm Springs, Ca. posted a high of 111F, 43C just today. The fierce Delta fire in Shasta County, northern California was raging uncontrolled over 22 thousand acres Saturday, tripling in size overnight. (50 thousand acres by Monday night.) A 45-mile section of highway i-5 had to be closed. But overall temperatures seem to be cooling, with rainy New York hitting a maximum of 72F, 22C. In Mexico, three schoolboys were electrocuted when widespread flooding affected the city of Apodaca.

Japan: Some new footage has emerged of Typhoon Jebi and a most extraordinary event that we never saw on mainstream news, a huge pile of wrecked cars blown or washed atop one another from a coastal carpark, caught alight and blazing fiercely. (Climate Change & Extreme Weather News #135) The same source gives us video of recent heavy flooding in Guangdong Province, China (single-storey dwellings up to the the eaves, fish swimming around unwisely on the floor of a restaurant!)

Wednesday 12th: 160 mph supertyphoon Mangkhut is expected to clip the Philippines and make landfall on the Chinese coast around Hong Kong  on Sunday, possibly as a slightly weaker Cat 3.

North Korea: The geopolitics, nuclear ambitions and parades are rarely out of the news, but we seldom hear anything about how climate change is affecting the secretive state, that has recently suffered a long heatwave and severe drought. That came to an end briefly on 28 August when 76 people are thought to have drowned and another 75 are missing after heavy flooding and landslides hit the southern part of the country. 800 buildings were destroyed. “Thousands have lost their homes and are in urgent need of food and shelter” (Red Cross spokesman) (CEWN #135 citing AFP in Pyongyang)

Italy: Flash flooding affected the city of Verona and outskirts on 01 Sept after extreme rainfall. Similarly, Barcelona in Spain was hit by a violent thunderstorm that caused widespread flooding in the city. Another flash-flood raced through the streets of Cebolla, near Toledo, where the river overflowed, carrying away dozens of cars. “Local observers said that around 30 mm of rain fell in just 15 minutes and between 50 and 60 mm in one hour.” (Floodlist) On 06 Sept a major flood hit Erbaa, in northern Turkey, during a powerful ‘whiteout’ hailstorm that turned streets to rivers of ice, etc. (CEWN #135.) Satellite imagery (Meteo) shows a large weather system moving eastwards through the Mediterranean.

Adios, amigos!

Yellowstone News: Friday 7th, the Steamboat (biggest geyser in the park) erupted again, for the 17th time this year, with considerable force, hurling rocks and ‘dirty’ boiling liquid water into the air accompanied by a ‘deep, percussive booming sound’ (USGS field reports). The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, the eruption lasted for 48 minutes; almost twice as long as ever recorded before. The most times it has gone off in a single year before is 3, in the whole of 2003. Many years it doesn’t erupt at all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9ay1PBQlBM&t=22s

Plaguewatch: There’s been a single case of potentially fatal MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a ‘flu-like coronavirus carried by camels – in South Korea, brought back apparently from Kuwait by a 61-year-old business traveler. It’s the first known case for three years, following an outbreak in Korea that killed 38 people. Authorities have quarantined the flight crew and several passengers, but they’re still looking for another 50 passengers who may not know they’ve been exposed. (ChannelNews Asia/Straits Times)

In unconnected news, dozens of passengers arriving in the USA, Australia and New Zealand on flights from the Middle East have been reporting feeling ill. Several different airlines were involved and a number of passengers were taken to hospital as a precaution. The passengers are all thought to have been making their annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, where tens of thousands of worshippers mingle from all over the world – a perfect incubator – and may just be suffering from mild ‘flu, according to health specialists.

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 62: Salmond phishing in Scotland… Painting the skeletons pink… Phooarh!…GW: Wash me down and blow me!

Amen Corner

“We get climate change wrong too often… Manmade climate change exists: if the science proves it we should report it. To achieve impartiality, you do not need to include outright deniers of climate change in BBC coverage.”

– Long overdue memo from Head of News, Fran Unsworth to all BBC producers.

Ghoul’s out for ever. (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

The Pumpkin says: Two hurrahs for Auntie Fran! Fuck off, Lawson, you moneygrubbing ecocidal old ghoul. Back in your grave. (See Posts passim)

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/07/bbc-we-get-climate-change-coverage-wrong-too-often

 

“Is sexual kompromat not precisely the tactic Trump and his cohort have been using for years to crush their enemies?”

Salmond phishing in Scotland

Along with many sources, The Pumpkin has previously speculated about the provenance of the variously named Trump International Golf Links project, also known as Trump Aberdeen, or Trump Balmedie; where its $120 million startup funding may have come from, since it certainly did not come from the near-bankrupt Trump Organization in the USA or any cautious British or US banks, and through whom it was channeled.

There are and were numerous other concerns about the development, of course. How Trump railroaded through planning consent over the objections of the community and properly concerned environmentalists; what role the then SNP leader, Alex Salmond played in swinging the decision; how Trump opposed the siting of an offshore wind farm – he hates wind farms – a project supported by Salmond; his bullying and harassment of local resisters – his attempts to massively increase the size of the development, despite the fact that it’s been making heavy losses, partly thanks to the retreat of the North Sea oil industry and the winding-down of Aberdeen as its capital.

And then there was the well-reported instance of Trump’s dimmest son, Eric bragging to a golf journalist that they got $100 million from some golf-mad Russians for course developments. At the time, according to Wikipedia, there were only 9 functioning golf courses in the whole of Russia, and only 4 PGA-registered professionals. The boast was backed up by Donald Jr, who told another journalist that “they were always in and out of Russia”, where the development funding was virtually limitless.

This seemed to contradict Trump Sr’s frequent forceful assertions that he had no business with Russia. None.

Anyway, that’s not what The Pumpkin has been thinking about this morning. Another well-sourced piece by Adam Davidson in The New Yorker this week, entitled “Where will the Trump investigations go next?” (a question on many people’s minds as elections approach and some kind of denouement in the Mueller enquiry is eagerly anticipated) has revived our curiosity, to the point where he lazily dialled “Salmond/Sorial” into the Googlebox and sat back, waiting for any nugget to fall into his lap.

And, unlikely though it may seem, numerous reports have come up linking the two names.

Still an Executive Vice-President at Trump Organization, George Sorial was Trump’s point man on Aberdeen: the guy who did all the negotiating, the railroading, the project management and the harassment of the natives (including cutting off their water supplies and throwing high ramparts around their properties) – as well as the relationship-building with Salmond, who somehow became convinced overnight that the development on a Site of Special Scientific Interest would after all be A Good Thing for Scotland, despite all evidence to the contrary.

It seems that part of the relationship-building involved a Salmond scheme whereby Trump, Sorial – and, by extension, Donald Trump Jr – were flattered to be added to a list of international business movers and shakers named as “Global Scots”, honorary nationals who would commit to promoting Scottish business interests worldwide – presumably in anticipation of a Yes vote in the 2014 Independence referendum, a vote that never arrived.

The newly adopted Republican candidate, Trump Sr was swiftly dumped in early 2016, ostensibly because of the multiculturalist SNP’s objections to his campaign promise to introduce a ban on Muslims entering the USA. Donald Jr’s delisting came soon afterwards because, as any fule might have expected, he simply hadn’t fulfilled any of his commitments to promote Scottish business, being too busy chasing tail, pomading his hair and slaughtering endangered animals for their body parts.

There then came attempts to drop Sorial.

Buzzfeed reported (November 30, 2016 – 3 weeks after Trump was elected President)

“According to a freedom of information request from the Scottish government, Salmond gave Sorial the role on the basis that he was “responsible for the Trump developments in Scotland”, he would be an “advocate” for the country, and his parents were from the Scottish island of Lewis.

“However, after being told Sorial was still a Global Scot, Salmond told BuzzFeed News that Sorial should step down from the role. The former first minister has been a vocal critic of Trump since relations between the Scottish government and the tycoon soured over the construction of a wind farm near his golf course.”

The Pumpkin has been wondering about poor Mr Salmond, who has just last week had to resign his seat in the Scottish Assembly and crowdfund an appeal for his legal fees, in order to fight accusations of sexual impropriety made against him quite out of the blue by “two women”.

Is sexual kompromat not precisely the tactic Trump and his cohort have been using for years to crush their enemies and punish or silence their disloyal “friends”, bringing them back into line? One thinks of Charlie Kushner, father of Trump’s son-in-law Jared, part of whose 5-years sentence of imprisonment was for witness tampering – insomuch as he tried to silence his brother-in-law with a DVD of an encounter with a prostitute in a motel room, which Kushner Sr then sent to his own sister, to put a little more pressure on.

And we have heard Trump protege and quasi-legal bagman, Michael Cohen not only pleading guilty to financial violations, but fingering Trump as having ordered him to payoff a porn star and a glamour model out of a special slush-fund created for the purpose out of corporate donations fraudulently elicited to buy access to the White House; while speculation surrounds another Trump associate who may or may not have been involved in silencing a woman who is claiming to have spawned an illegitimate child by Trump.

We then have the lurid details of what may or may not have happened in a Moscow hotel room in 2013, as listed in the notorious so-called “Steele dossier” among other instances of compromising information the Russians may or may not have on the President.

So there’s a lot of this sort of thing going around. Were the women put up to “hashtag Metoo” Salmond? Most probably no, but allegations of groping and worse are the kind of “black information” Trump has reportedly stored up for years against individuals he encounters, to secure lasting loyalty; silence (Omerta), and to use against his victims later as necessary.

Could we suppose, taking things to their extreme, that Salmond’s about-face on his apparent loyalty to Trump Inc., the defiance of Trump’s thwarted Islamophobic program, the row over the wind farm and the perceived slight of the Leader of the Free World no longer being considered to be an honorary Scotsman have penetrated the notoriously thin skin of the President, and earned poor Alex the dubious distinction of becoming the victim of a Mafia-style vendetta to destroy the career of the ebullient former cruise-ship entertainer?

Betrayal being the number one crime in the Trump playbook? And when Trump Org has announced it plans further leisure developments in Scotland?

As Davidson writes:

“Some have argued that Trump didn’t knowingly break the law—that he was just impulsive and unfocussed and would, accidentally and without proper due diligence, end up working with crooks. My source told me that this was nonsense: of course Trump knew when he was breaking the law. “Come on. He was trained by fucking Roy Cohn.* Seriously.”

http://www.newyorker.com/news-desk/swamp-chronicles/where-will-the-trump-investigations-go-next?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jamieross/donald-trumps-right-hand-man-is-still-an-ambassador-for-scot

*By all accounts, Cohn was an absolute swine, acting as an implacable and cunning prosecutor in the notorious Joseph McCarthy anti-Communist “witch-hunt” hearings; an attorney for the brutal Gambino crime family, and a friend of Trump’s dodgy property developer father, Fred.

In a related earlier piece, however, Davidson recounts how he attended functions at Cohn’s grand mansion, that were almost royal garden parties; and where, like Trump, Cohn would insist on holding open sessions at which rich and influential men – policemen and judges among them – would step up to offer him effusive public praise, adulation that he wallowed in.

The extraordinary thing, Davidson says, is that unlike Trump’s Imperatorial cabinet meetings at which everyone is mercilessly forced to grovel and thank God for his existence and their jobs, Cohn’s guests genuinely seemed to mean it. For those who weren’t his victims, he seemed to offer loyal friendship and a likeable side.

And that’s the secret of success.

Something the thin-skinned and vindictive tinpot dictator, Trump never learned.

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/where-trump-learned-to-love-ritualized-flattery

x

“Instead of producing a potboiler one would have hoped Woodward might have credibly pursued the paths trodden by veteran Trumphunters, following the money to expose the dark underbelly of America’s worst ever President.”

Painting the skeletons pink

All America is agog at the publication in the failing New York Times of an op-ed piece by an anonymous contributor, described as “A senior member of the Trump administration”, calling the President out as an erratic and incompetent lunatic, whose wilder policy initiatives have to be buried by his staffers before they can do any harm.

The situation is being made very much worse by an incandescent Trump demanding the miscreant’s head on a platter, to be charged with “treason” (the irony escapes him). If he would only shut up and stop reacting like a child to these provocations, The Pumpkin opines, it might look a lot less like the accusations are true.

Nor is it helping, that the piece has come out only a day after the official publication date of “Fear”, the new “piss-and-tell” book about the churning guts of Trump’s White House by legendary investigative journalist, Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame). No collusion? Possibly not.

On Thursday, the supine BBC managed to find a queue of three Trump apologists, including the discreditable neofascist missing-link, Gorka (“why, oh why?” etc. – BBC listener), who all spouted the same incredible lines about what a great job the President is doing and this is all sour grapes from the lyin’ Democrats in cahoots with the fake nooze media.

Meanwhile Trump was saying pretty much the same thing, boasting about his historically high poll ratings. (He recently told one of his flashmob rallies that he didn’t know if they had polls in Abraham Lincoln’s time (they didn’t. Ed.), but if they did Trump’s ratings would be beating them….) He is insane, in case it hadn’t already occurred to you.

The latest WAPO/ABC polling puts him down at 36% national approval, by the way, with 52% thinking he’s a total trainwreck and 49% calling for his impeachment.

Anyone who knows anything about the workings of great newspapers like the NYT knows they don’t print unverified gossip from anonymized sources without very careful checking. They certainly don’t fake-up op-ed pieces of this seriousness themselves and then source them to non-existent senior members of the administration. Trump isn’t calling for them to be shut down because they tell lies about him.

Trump has now embarked on what one can only describe as a “witch hunt” to out the witch who wrote the piece, sparking fevered speculation as to the true identity of his critic – who, as a staunch Republican, hypocritically went out of his or her way to applaud some of the shittier “achievements” of the administration, such as the utterly cretinous trade policies, the wreckage of the public health insurance system, the vainglorious superfunding of the already bloated military, the rollback of consumer and environmental protections and the budget-busting $1.4 trillion giveaway to the party’s funders; none of which has added a jot of happiness to the lives of the vast majority of Americans.

So, for the past few days his closest advisors, a group known as “the adults in the room” have been rushing to deny responsibility. Many commentators are pointing at Vice-President Pence, on the basis of various clues, such as the use of the world “lodestar”, a metaphor Pence is constantly using; and the fact that he has gone off somewhere at this rather crucial time and had to send his fridge to a press conference*.

The Pumpkin’s betting is on Trump’s public defender, Rudy Giuliani – with help over the more difficult spellings. Trump is alleged to have said very terrible, almost shockingly terrible things to poor Rudy in the past, totally emasculating him, whenever the former mayor of New York’s TV performances have not defended the President sufficiently robustly.

Is this Rudy’s Revenge?

Whoever it is, given the reluctance of the debutant to step forward, doesn’t this look like a case of painting the skeletons pink? Should Trump go down any time soon, this individual will be able to step forth from the shadows, this ersatz Deep Throat, and proudly proclaim their patriotic instincts and innocence of the Trump stain. Look, my skeletons are still alive!

There is also, of course, the possibility that Trump himself commissioned the piece from a ghost writer, to take the wind out of Woodward’s sails – and sales. It wouldn’t be the first time he has misled the “enemies of the people” in this way; and none of the allegations of his bizarre behavior is original, they’ve all appeared in print before.

It’s a handy distraction, too, from the Congressional hearings on his pick for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh – who, when quizzed about any previous connections he may have had with anyone on Trump’s legal team, prevaricated that “he couldn’t remember” and asked his inquisitor, the forensic Senator Susan Harris, to suggest some legal names because he didn’t know any. So that’s a rubber stamp, then.

But who knows? It’s bound to come out soon enough.

In The Pumpkin’s view, it’s a shame Woodward’s book is being filleted by the media for the more lurid tales of life in the Trump White House, until it appears that they might be the major or possibly the only theme. I hadn’t budgeted for another Trump tome this month, I’m still pondering ordering Craig Unger’s House of Putin, House of Trump. At least it’s not just more in-house tittle-tattle, of which I have four volumes already.

We can all see from his forgetful behavior and manner of speaking that the President is senescent, almost certainly in the early stages of dementia. We sense too that he is annoyingly inept as an administrator, ignorant of foreign affairs, industry and economics; a vain, crass, incurious and demanding bully, a whining, childish, foul-mouthed solipsist with no regard for anyone other than himself and his own fatuous saloon-bar theories; that he has succeeded in life only through mendacity, extreme venality, adroit publicity and affecting the threatening posture of a Mafia chieftain. He has also revealed a surprising capacity for cowardice.

We know all that.

We already have a raft of books and articles based on the testimony of dozens of leaky insiders describing Trump’s manic outbursts, his “senior moments”, his impulsive policy-making and his horrible dietary habits. So I guess we shall just have to see what Mueller can do, while Trump furiously tries to undermine the credibility of the Russia investigation, brutalizes the Justice Department, slags-off the media and packs the courts with unqualified placemen.

Whatever finally comes out from Mueller may gain no traction at all among the Republican voters.

As the much-decorated doyen of investigative journalists, instead of producing a sensationalist potboiler one would have hoped Woodward might have credibly pursued the paths trodden by veteran Trumphunters like David Cay Johnson, Craig Unger and Adam Davidson, following the money to expose the dark underbelly of America’s worst and most corrupt ever President.

Because the real question few dare to ask is, what terrible secret is it, that he is apparently willing to destroy the presidency to protect?

Shall we ever be allowed to know?

*Younger readers, if any, might not recognise the reference to a Monty Python sketch. Carry on.)

x

Phooarh! Trump strikes out

“Never mind, Mr President, it can happen to anyone. Let’s get you all cleaned up…” (photo: Empirenews.net)

Despite his insistent promises to the adoring dumbfucks on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t have time to play golf because he’d be permanently in the Oval Office, “working my ass off for you” (massive cheer!), and a virulent campaign of Fox poo claiming his predecessor, Obama, was never off the golf course even during national crises (“he plays more even than a member of the PGA”) the website Trumpgolfcount reports that after just 590 days in office, the Fat Fibber has spent 349 days at his own golf resorts, while Obama managed only 328 days golfing in 8 years.

Total cost to the US taxpayer so far: $77 million. (Cost to local businesses forced by the security service to shut up shop while he plays, incalculable.)

But he works so hard – at least four hours a day including an hour for lunch, according to White House insiders – he surely deserves the time off. How else would his tacky resorts make any money?

x

GW: Wash me down and blow me!

Hawaii: “Back up to Category 3 strength on Thursday afternoon, Hurricane Olivia remains on a long-term course that looks increasingly likely to take it across the Hawaiian Islands. Located about 1200 miles west of Cabo San Lucas—and was heading west-northwest at 14 mph. Update (11:30 pm EDT Thursday): Olivia has now attained Category 4 strength, with top sustained winds of 130 mph.” (Wunderground) Weaker Hurricane Norman passed well to the north of the islands this week. Hawaii was battered last week by 135 mph Hurricane Lane bearing up to 53 cm of rain, the most powerful storm in a quarter of a century.

Guam: “Though it was just a minimum-strength tropical storm with 40 mph winds on Friday, Mangkhut promises to become a ferocious typhoon over the next few days. The system is surrounded by a large envelope of very moist air and it will be traveling over very warm SSTs of 29 – 30°C (84 – 86°F). …The Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicts that Manghut will rocket to typhoon strength by Sunday local time and will be a Category 4 typhoon by the time it nears Guam on Tuesday.” (Wunderground)

Bermuda: Hurricane Florence, which had strengthened into the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season, weakened to a Category 1 storm Thursday as it moved on a path toward Bermuda. As of 5 p.m. ET Thursday, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph but was expected to reintensify Friday, the National Hurricane Center said. Large swells from Florence are expected to hit Bermuda starting Friday. Life-threatening surf and rip tides are possible.” (CBS News)

Mexico: “Flooding in the city of Piedras Negras in Coahuila state, (on the Texas border) on 04 Sept. affected more than 10,000 residents. Around 20 people were forced to evacuate and stay in temporary accommodation. Roads in the area also suffered damage. No injuries or fatalities were reported. Local Civil Protection said that more than 150mm of rain fell from late Monday 03 Sept. to early Tuesday 04 Sept.” (Floodlist)

USA: “Kansas Governor, Jeff Colyer issued a state of disaster emergency declaration for five Kansas counties affected by flooding from 02 to 04 Sept. An estimated 300 people were displaced, with areas around Manhattan worst affected.” Over 9 inches of rain fell during the storm. (Floodlist) The east coast may feel the force of Hurricane Florence later in the week.

India: “At least 19 people have died in flood-related incidents in Uttar Pradesh since 01 Sept. Nearly 300 villages have been affected. Many of the deaths were a result of collapsing buildings or lightning strikes. Over 220 houses have been damaged or destroyed in the heavy rain and flooding over the last 4 days.

“The flood-hit south Indian state of Kerala has declared a health alert after 11 people died of leptospirosis or rat fever in the last two days (to 04 Sept.). Health officials in the state said there was no immediate cause for alarm and the situation was under control (! Ed.). Flooding has killed around 400 people in Kerala since June.” (BBC Weather)

Australia: Has been accused by Pacific nations of trying to water down the Boe Declaration on emissions reduction. “Dr Bill Hare, a lead author on the IPCC fourth assessment report, told Guardian Australia that Pacific leaders were growing increasingly disenchanted with Australia’s refusal to commit to cutting carbon emissions, even as their nations faced massive economic, physical and social disruption, even existential threat.”

UK: The Met Office has confirmed, 2018 was the hottest summer they’ve ever recorded in England, and the joint-hottest for the British Isles as a whole. The 10-day forecast from 08 Sept. is completely chaotic, although not extreme, as the huge loops currently in the jet stream break apart into separate segments and go spinning off over the course of the next week. Watch the BBC weatherman struggle to explain!

 

Scary corner

“Roundworms from two areas of (the Siberian permafrost) came back to life in Petri dishes, says a new scientific study. Some 300 prehistoric worms were analysed – and two ‘were shown to contain viable nematodes’.

“‘After being defrosted, the (possibly 42 thousand year-old) nematodes showed signs of life,’ said a report today from Yakutia, the area where the worms were found. ‘They started moving and eating.’

“Both are thought to be female.”

Siberian Times

 

Blogging: the Thief of Time… Losing our marbles… GW: A mortal blow… GW Color Supplement: Skating on Thin Ice…The mystery of the missing CO2… Beating poisons into ploughshares… Yellowstone news.

£117 million: the total amount to date that Open Democracy has traced to a spending spree by Liam Fox’s Department for International Trade just on CONSULTANTS, all of whom are on record otherwise as judging Brexit to be a complete disaster, while Fox continues to insist even No Deal will be a huge success for British trade.

“A spokesman for DIT said: ‘We really don’t care [if a company] is for Brexit or against Brexit …. It is very much about providing services that deliver value for money for the taxpayer..'”

http://www.opendemocracy.net

 

Blogging: the Thief of Time

“(The research) found that the amygdala – an almond-shaped structure in the temporal (side) lobe which processes our emotions and controls our motivation – was larger in procrastinators. In these individuals, there were also poorer connections between the amygdala and a part of the brain called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (DACC).

“The DACC uses information from the amygdala and decides what action the body will take. It helps keep the person on track by blocking out competing emotions and distractions.” – (BBC Science, 01 Sep)

No-one can accuse your Uncle Bogler of procrastination!

Why, his side-lobes are positively bulging with almond-shaped structures….

For, here is part the first of The BogPo, concerning NEXT THURSDAY, and it’s still only this Saturday!!!

There’s not much more one can really say on the topic of procrastination, except that I have still not opened last Monday’s mail, containing as it does a worrying-looking Brown Envelope – I suspect it may not be a cash bribe. It went straight into the bureau, third drawer down, a Valhalla from which I avert my eyes whenever I head for the kitchen where I am gazing with as-yet unengaged fascination at the glutinous evidence of the past three days’ worth of microwavable instant meals.

Nor have I done much about returning to the builder’s merchant to see where the fuck my bricks have got to, the lovely mellow bricks I paid for, the Best Bricks, but did not collect immediately and the halfwits SOLD THEM a second time to some other customer or customers unknown, and now we can’t seem to find any more of the same ones and I’m stuck with HALF A BEAUTIFUL WALL I’ve built in my garden, and £150 lighter.

In fact after putting it off since whenever, end of July when they said more might be coming in, I did go back last Monday, but for no accountable reason – kismet, karma – despite a sign saying “Opening Hours 08.00 to 17.00” the gates were still locked mid-afternoon and I haven’t been able to face going back again since.

I hate arguments, my assertiveness is off the scale (the bottom of the scale), so my amygdala concocted some story about the builder’s merchant having gone into administration and fed it to my DACC, which promptly decided to turn around and go home, telling me to come back Tuesday, or phone, or something. The almond-shaped structure is still making up its mind when would be best to construct a new narrative in which I think about it some more.

In any case, with my uncomfortably awkward catheter and messy leg-bag changeovers and painful contractions and always feeling tired and floppy and with the rats still gnawing at my stomach in the mornings and all, I’m no longer fit to work on a building-site, lugging 25kg bags of cement and stuff around the garden, which exists on several levels.

(Good news on that front, the tragic letter to the hospital I’d put off writing since July about my horrible catheter, that I finally got round to sending off last week, has paid dividends – the consultant appointment’s been brought forward by three months! Good old NHS, I say. (Local electrician regales me with the story of his father-in-law, diagnosed with cancer on Monday and operated on on Thursday… by the Spanish health service.)

Maybe a lesson there? I’ll go back Monday. Find a builder. Sort it out.

And probably tackle last week’s post. Or maybe the washing-up.

Honest.

“Prof Tim Pychyl, from Carleton University, Ottawa, who has been studying procrastination for the past few decades…” (BBC Science report)

You’d think he’d get on with it, wouldn’t you?

 

1,400: number of additional deaths (and 48 thousand extra asthma cases in children) annually the US Environment Protection Agency expects to be caused by their own new “set-them-yourself” state-by-state pollution rules, replacing the federal Clean Power Plan stalled in the Supreme Court.

 

Losing our marbles

The fire that destroyed the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, eradicating in a single night the traces of two thousand years of proto-civilizations in South America and of the 200-year history of modern Brazil, is the best argument one can think of for not returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece.

Not because the frescoes would be in peril if they were reattached to the Parthenon, or carefully curated in a special climate-controlled building with mood lighting for tourists (it’s doubtful if Greece could afford one of those now) but because of what they represent: the diffusion of many cultures throughout the world.

Because their return to Athens would be perhaps the greatest of all possible symbolic acts at a time when rising small nations the world over are demanding their stuff back; and we mustn’t give in to them! (Except of course for the desecrated remains of slaughtered “native” humans, their retention is a shameful obscenity. Stuffed primates are bad enough.)

The fire is being likened by the woe-cryers to the loss of the Library at Alexandria, or rather Libraries – there were two, parts of the, also lost, great Museum – in which vast collections of works from classical antiquity lovingly preserved by the Ptolemies from Alexander’s time perished: the first in 48 BC after Julius Caesar set fire to the city during his romantic intervention in the Egyptian civil war, the second in 391 AD in a fire started by a zealous mob rioting in support of the Christian emperor Theodosius, who had decreed that all symbols of paganism should be destroyed.

So it is to carnal desire and religion that we owe our habit of insouciance as regards our common culture, what else? (I recommend the account on the website of Encyclopedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Library-of-Alexandria)

“Carnal desire and religion…” tribal totems presumed lost. (Riotimesonline.com)

It seems to be a moral imperative, especially among tyrants, to concentrate the symbols of the culture they rule over in “The Greatest” this-or-that ever seen. The Alexandrian libraries may have contained over a quarter of a million texts: only copies and some few original fragments remain of works by the great Greek philosophers and playwrights; and those, only because they were probably compulsorily “borrowed” by Strabo and other Roman colonialists and taken back to the Imperial City, where many would subsequently have been lost in Nero’s fire, or the Sack of Rome.

Just think what the Testaments might reveal to scholars nowadays, had more original Biblical texts as well as those in the Greek survived. The histories of the Persian, Greek and Roman empires, too, might look somewhat different in more detail. And we should have more great comedies to revive at the National.

But there is an equal desire among the rulers to erase the past.

Numerous more recent acts of cultural iconoclasm have accompanied the reigns of, for instance (my spelling corrector just interpreted that as”insane”!), Henry V111, in his “dissolution of the monasteries”, the pillaging of the vastly wealthy old religious establishment of England; Oliver Cromwell, the revolutionary Puritan “Protector” who disapproved of all forms of religious iconography and symbolism; Robespierre and the Paris mob; Joseph Stalin, ditto, and the rapacious C19th looters of Egyptian grave goods.

Flashing forward to the present, we have had to stand by and witness the brutal iconoclasm of modern barbarians: the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, al-Shabaab at Timbuktoo, the Cultural Revolutionaries of Chairman Mao – the US Army, that turned the ruins of Babylon into a lorry park – whose political credos embraced the absolute eradication of evidence of all previous dynasties in a fanatical desire to rebuild societies in their own image.

That, and to make a bit of cash selling stuff on the global black market for antiquities, with which to buy arms – and to line the pockets of the intellectual hypocrites proclaiming themselves the new leaders.

If Truth is indeed the first casualty of war, in that overused metaphor, then Culture is possibly the second. “When I hear the word culture”, grumbled Goering, “I reach for my Luger”. (In fact he was quite a cultured man. He just knew, like Mr Steve Bannon, that the fundamentals of Nazism required a return to a more heroic age.)

The safest way to preserve the physical history of world nature and human development, the collections and the expert curators’ poorly paid jobs, is surely thus not to concentrate them in one place, to hoard them in the name of protecting and projecting some vain sense of superior nationhood, but to spread them around the country and the planet for the edification of all.

By all accounts, the government of Brazil is guilty of failing catastrophically to maintain the cultural heritage of the nation. The fire precautions in that sprawling colonial palace were “about to be updated”, but consisted for the time being of some smoke detectors and hand-extinguishers. The building was not even insured. Staff rushed to save what they could, as the collections were their livelihood, but were beaten back. A few items may have survived: the 12-thousand year-old skull of a native girl; some curious pieces of dinosaur, an interesting meteorite…. The collection sounds provincial, but it also contained hundreds of recordings of the unique languages of tribespeople now gone extinct, and other invaluable cultural DNA; including many works from the European classical period, presumably lost forever.

Unless, that is, we can find a trove of South Americana, collections of pre-Columbian art and artifacts, precious photographs, contemporary paintings, explorers’ accounts and recordings of vanishing tribes, squirrelled away in the bowels of the British Museum and other major centres throughout Europe and the USA; especially in Portugal, the colonial power in Brazil, from where vast quantities of treasure were extracted; from which something might be rebuilt?

(Oh dear. The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, which caused 30 thousand casualties, a huge tsunami and subsequent fires might have done for much of the colonial spoils collected in the latter. But the policy of the British government preparing for the Blitz was to disperse the great collections around the country, in mines and caves, and thus they largely survived WW2.)

You see, you cannot discount natural disasters as well as the sweep of history, when you want to preserve your heritage and the curiosities of the bygone world around you. You imagine these great buildings housing the heavily edited detritus of your civilization and the records of human progress to be invulnerable, inviolate, durable; a focus for heartfelt patriotism, their demise is unthinkable and so too often unthought of, when funds are scarce. (It appears the curators of the Rio museum were having to crowdfund the wages of the cleaners.)

No, the safest and, incidentally, the most useful way to secure your local cultural heritage is to ensure it is as widely dispersed as possible. We’ve done it with human DNA, a pocess that ought to be a lesson to the hoarders of artifacts. Put it about a bit!

Modern technologies can be useful; recordings, photographs, “virtual reality” tours, digital transcriptions posted on the worldwide web can give the flavor – remembering these too are vulnerable to fire and flood, tectonic political upheavals, technological superannuation and “Carrington” events – and are indeed being more widely used in archaeology, especially in the attempt to restore what the IS baboons have left of Palmyra from extensive survey records.

Images and transcripts are, of course, no substitutes for the real thing; but it depends on WHY you want to cling on to the past: you can argue that any evidence is equally valuable. Would it matter, would anyone notice, if the British Museum hung on to the marbles only as faithful reproductions made of powdered resin with the latest technologies, from 3D images scanned by lasers, and dumped the vexing originals in the river Thames?

They’re just chunks of carved stone. Future generations (if any. Ed.) will still know precisely what they looked like, as far as the fleeting impressions gained by circulating museum visitors and internet browsers with limited attention spans go. They will know the history, if they care to find it. Experts have studied the things until they were practically worn out with peering and pondering, learned texts and theses have been written and peer-reviewed, thousands of photographs exist – what else can anyone say about them? Do old stones really speak?

Of course, the Greeks would take a dim view: it’s the symbolic act of returning the stolen marbles that’s the important part. And it’s the symbolism of losing the great museum in Rio that seems to be the harshest wound for Brazilians (most of whom probably never even went inside). At a time of social uncertainty, corruption and gnawing austerity the people have nothing left to rally round, but a burned-out shell, open to the sky.

It’s just a pity they didn’t rally round sooner.

x

GW: A mortal blow

Japan: The strongest to hit in 25 years, 135 mph Typhoon Jebi slammed into the port of Kobe, western Japan yesterday, 4 Sep., killing “at least” 10 people and injuring many others. The toll is expected to rise. Several people were injured at Kyoto station when part of a glass ceiling collapsed. Kansai airport, a major transport hub serving Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto, was cut off and pasengers stranded when an ocean tanker was blown into its bridge to the mainland. (BBC and others)

Pile o’ chrome… cars thrown in a heap by Typhoon Jebi, Kobe, Japan 04 Sept. (BBC)

Tuesday 4 Sep: “Evacuation advisories were issued for 1.19 million people, along with a stronger but non-mandatory  evacuation order for a further 16,000, as the wind and rain began to intensify on Tuesday afternoon.” More than 700 domestic and international flights were cancelled, along with scores of ferry and train services. Rainfall totals reported 500mm or more. (Guardian and others)

USA: 70 mph Tropical Storm Gordon is pouring rain on the Gulf Coast region Wednesday after it made landfall Tuesday night west of the Alabama-Mississippi border, killing a child in the Florida Panhandle, the National Hurricane Center said.

“The child died when a tree fell on top of a mobile home in Pensacola as Gordon whipped the region with tropical storm-force winds and heavy downpours, a spokeswoman with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said.” 4 to 6 inches of rain are expected as Gordon dissipates and moves up into the already rainsoaked midwest and as far east as Pennsylvania, with more risk of flooding. (CNN)
India: Flooding and landslides have been reported in the remote mountain state of Nagaland, on the border with Myanmar, since late July. “At least 11 people have died”. (Floodlist)

Atlantic: Tropical Storm Florence is still evolving along a very uncertain track that could possibly bring it close to Bermuda by Monday 10 Sep. with a US East Coast landfall later in the week. Forming out of Africa and now near the Cape Verde islands, “Invest 92L” has better possibilities for development as a Caribbean hurricane, to be called Helene. “Invest 93L” (“Isaac”?) is just now crossing the West African coast.

Pacific: Two named hurricanes in the western Pacific, Norman and Olivia are both expected to give Hawaii a reprieve, passing “well to the northeast”.

Arctic: Two major cyclones are affecting the region at present. Bigger waves and warm air/rain will breakup more of the ice.

 

(Image: Telegraph.com)

GW Color Supplement: Skating on Thin Ice…

This year’s extended heatwave around the planet has at least led to the news media finally beginning to “join the dots” of global warming and its destabilizing effect on the world’s weather and agriculture; albeit in the usual sensationalist and short-lived way.

Journalists and politicians and scientists reporting from their own limited silos of study, or vaguely promising “action on climate change”, are continuing to hold out warnings of disasters to come “by 2100”, or “by 2050”, seemingly without there being any realization that such dates far in the future are of purely academic interest.

There is unlikely to be any residual human civilization by 2050 capable of thinking much about “electric cars” or “renewables” or “carbon transfer taxes” or “Paris targets”, as our children struggle against the odds to keep the race alive.

To give you a flavor of what real climate scientists are saying, the following (with full acknowledgment) is a heavily edited summary of a report posted 24 Aug on the website of Arctic News.

This is a reliable source compiling from field research and satellite data a (roughly) monthly update by a group of polar experts and distinguished external contributors, calling themselves “Sam Carana”.

(It is still not safe for climate scientists to risk their grants and tenure by making the direst predictions public, whatever the known facts may be.)

The full report should be accessed on http://www.arctic-news.blogspot.com/

“North of Greenland and around Ellesmere Island is where for thousands of years (Arctic) sea ice has been the thickest, in many places remaining thicker than 5 meters (16.4 ft) throughout the year. The loss of this sea ice indicates that the buffer is gone. (NASA images are adduced in evidence: the area is all blue water.)

“As long as there is sea ice in the water, it will keep absorbing heat, so the temperature doesn’t rise above 0C at the sea surface. Once the buffer is gone, further energy that enters the Arctic Ocean will go into heating up the water. Numerous feedbacks are associated with sea ice loss.

“As warming continues, heat will reach methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, causing them to release methane. (And) for the first time in human history, mean global methane levels as high as 1900 ppb have been recorded*. Adding up all warming elements associated with disappearance of the sea ice could result in additional global warming many times as much as the current global warming, in a few years time.”

And from an earlier post:

“The sea surface near Svalbard (most northerly habitation) was 22°C or 69.2°F on August 13, 2018, 16.4°C or 29.5°F warmer than 1981-2011. On August 6, 2018, mean global methane levels were as high as 1896 ppb. On August 8, 2018, they were as high as 1898 ppb. Importantly, peak levels on the afternoon of August 6, 2018, were as high as 3046 ppb.”

As can be seen, atmospheric methane increased globally from 1896 to 1901 parts-per-billion in under three weeks this August, with further potential for almost doubling. Depending on its duration in the atmosphere, methane is 100 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2, to which it decays.

Methane produces more heat, but heat (in various ways) produces more methane…. that’s the feedback loop they’re most worried about. The increase in range, intensity and frequency of forest fires is another case in point; as is the increasing intensity of rainfall, where it occurs, and the energy of storms.

In addition, “Sam Carana” has been arguing for a couple of years that the Paris target of 1.5C degrees of warming is not only unrealistic – it is also long out of date. The International Panel on Climate Change has never used a fixed start date for the 0.89C of warming they keep claiming is the maximum so far. Even that, says “Sam”, is more warming than the planet has experienced at any time during the 200 thousand years of modern Man’s existence.

Applying a 1750 start date (as the decade when Britain began burning ever-greater quantities of coal to produce steam for industry and transportation), they argue, cumulative warming is already up to 1.85C. Plus, by taking measurements at 2 meters above land rather than at the sea surface, as the IPCC does, we arrive at something in excess of 2.3C, already 0.3C above the “maximum” ever-allowable change set in Paris.

And, “Sam” points out, that’s the day/night, summer/winter, equatorial/polar “average” over the whole globe – the mean temperature of the planet. But it’s not the modest-seeming increase of a degree in mean temperature that’s the immediate threat: it’s the extremes of heat and cold that kill people, animals and plants.

Looking at the average rise in summer temperatures taken only at the hottest times of the day, we’re up to something more like 4 degrees in many parts of the world, which, other scientists concur, with the amount of future warming already built-in, threatens a runaway effect within a matter of years rather than decades, leading to a civilizational and ecological collapse that will not realistically be survivable.

(The use of a “wet-bulb” index to measure more precisely, the effects of heat on the individual, indicates that prolonged exposure to temperatures in excess of 35C and high humidity, normally survivable for short periods and where shade and water are available, greatly increase the risk of death from heatstroke.)

Already in many cities around the world, peak summer temperatures are approaching 50C, with little relief at night.

Don’t say we weren’t warned.

 

*Postscriptum: the European Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS) satellite images are showing massive quantities of methane pouring out of the Arctic circle, especially over Scandinavia up into Siberia – but also down into China and the Himalayas. Hotspots are appearing in the Arctic ocean too, including off Novaya Zemlya in the shallow Eastern Siberian Sea. Total air-column concentrations locally are up in the mid-2000s ppb. Conspiracy theorists are pointing to days on which data appear to be missing from both CAMS and NOAA websites and a curious switch between two entirely different color-coded scales charting the levels of concentration.

Unfortunately I’ve been warned off commenting on Margo’s Healing Corner website where this story is credibly available as she goes off on a religious rant threatening unbelievers with being blocked if we dare to write anything bad about her friend Jesus.

I wasn’t going to, but we have the same problem with the Blessed Mary Greeley, that her basic knowledge of geology provides a credible enough narrative for the Yellowstone story but all else is ill-informed New Age gibberish…. It’s a shame more informed, secular sources don’t appear to exist for those of us who wish to follow the global warming story in this sort of detail but don’t have the scientific chops for learned papers and can’t stand Prof. Paul Beckwith’s increasingly deranged videos in which he slowly reads out other people’s research papers at tedious length.

My personal view is magical thinking is not going to save us, either in this life or the next. But I suppose people need to grab on to something.

 

The mystery of the missing CO2

Global CO2 is measured officially by the NOAA at the Mauna Loa observatory on Hawaii’s Big Island, at an altitude of 4,900 meters.

On 11 March, 2018 the concentration was approaching 413 parts-per-million, as against an estimate of 285 ppm in the pre-industrial era. 120 years ago, the Swedish chemist, Svante Arrhenius calculated very accurately that a doubling of the pre-industrial level would result in 4C to 5C degrees of global warming. We are rapidly getting there.

Or are we?

It seems the concentration of CO2 on 02 September was only 405 ppm, a drop of 7 ppm. We assume there is some seasonal fluctuation to account for it, but it still seems a weird result, given the somewhat trying conditions under which the measurements must have been taken.

Mauna Loa is the world’s largest active volcano. Racked by earth tremors this year, it looms just a few miles to the north of Mt Kilueia, that has been erupting violently for months as its magma chamber has emptied out via old lava tubes into people’s back gardens 25 miles away, its collapsing caldera belching out a combination of gases including CO2 and sulphur dioxide. Would that not affect readings a few miles to the north?

Meanwhile, thousands of barely controllable CO2-emitting wildfires have been blazing since April across vast areas of the world: in the SW Australian winter and the Siberian spring; across Central Africa and South America; in Mongolia; all across the west of the USA – a record season on the coast – and up into British Columbia, where more than 500 fires are still burning; all through Scandinavia and up beyond the Arctic circle; in Germany and Greece, Portugal and Israel; even outside rainy Manchester, England, afflicted for three months by a pan-European heatwave – the second in two years, remember Lucifer? – and crop-killing drought.

Where has all that extra CO2 gone to?

We should be told.

 

Beating poisons into ploughshares

A report in the current issue of Private Eye magazine by “Muckspreader” looks at the recent decision by a US court to fine Monsanto heavily for not publicizing research linking their ubiquitous Roundup weedkiller product with cancer.

Without glyphosate, were it to be banned, UK farmers will have to radically alter their methods, says the author – him/her anonymous self a farmer. Farmers are heavily reliant on the chemical to kill off the rhizomes of couch grass and other perennial weeds, clearing the land for planting – and to “harden” cereal crops by, effectively, stopping their growth all at the same time so as to make harvesting more efficient (that’s all going into you and me, by the way. Yummy.)

A ban on glyphosate would mean going back to ploughing the land, which sounds somehow comforting and Green.

What the story doesn’t mention is that ploughing releases massive quantities of carbon stored in the soil back to the atmosphere, in the form of CO2 and methane; and is thus better avoided.

Oh dear. Months of horrible chemotherapy, or join up with a roving band looting supermarkets for scraps of food in 60 degrees of summer heat?

Our choice.

Yellowstone news: The Blessed Mary Greeley reports that the Steamboat, the park’s largest geyser, has just erupted for the 16th time so far this year. The previous most active season ever recorded was 2003, when it went off just 3 times in the whole year. Park scientific director, Michael Poland reassures her, it’s perfectly normal for geysers to erupt.

Giving justice the bathtub treatment… St Theresa’s jungle interlude… When might the Jeremy mudslinging turn to violence?…GW: We’re singeing in the rain.

“Trying to understand superstition rationally is like trying to pick up something made of wood by using a magnet.” – Philip Pullman.

 

“…and then you pull tight on the arms, like this, and tie the straps around the back, so…”

 

“It is surely a fair question to ask what the hell is going on?”

Giving justice the bathtub treatment

As The Pumpkin wrote on 13 Aug last:

More interesting developments in the Trump obstruction of justice inquiry:

“Rachel Maddow shows the prevalence of classified intelligence in the Trump Russia investigation and notes that the people Donald Trump is threatening with having their security clearance revoked are those who would need that clearance to testify for the investigation.” – MSNBC TV “blurb”, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXTy99W8jsw

The process of witness tampering appears to be continuing, but with more sinister undertones. Maddow was reporting then on the ouster (as the Americans quaintly call it) of Peter Strzok, the FBI’s point man on Russian agents operating within the USA, earlier in the month.

Strzok was fired after a long series of abusive tweets from beneath the tiny thumbs of the American President, who seems to delight in these ad hominem attacks on individual citizens, in much the same way as my cat likes to confine live rodents in the bathtub, up whose smooth sides they cannot escape, and playfully torture them to death.

The official reason for Strzok’s firing was a series of emails he had sent in early 2016 to a colleague he was having an extramarital affair with, mildly criticizing – satirizing might be a better description – the crop of candidates vying for nomination in the presidential election race – among them, the thin-skinned and vindictive child-dotard, Donald J Trump.

Mr Strzok had already accepted a disciplinary penalty for the unprofessional conduct, and had acquitted himself well at a Congressional hearing that descended into pantomime when elderly Republican senators with closets no doubt rattling with skeletons started pushing him to apologize to his wronged wife; but we recall the earlier firing at the insistence of Trump of Andrew McCabe, the Deputy Director of the FBI, just one day before he would have qualified for his long-service pension. Hell hath no fury like Trump scorned.

Especially when he is terrified of being indicted on conspiracy charges.

And as Maddow and others pointed out, Strzok had unrivalled knowledge of the activities of the Russian intelligence community and their US agents; while McCabe was potentially a material witness in any future court hearing over former FBI Director, James Comey’s insistence that Trump ordered him to drop the inquiry into his national security advisor, General Mike T Flynn – now widely disregarded as having been a Russian “asset”.

White House counsel Don McGahn (note: the title is precise: he is NOT one of Trump’s personal clown-car legal team but is the senior lawyer responsible for matters to do with the building, staff, contractors, etc.) was fired at the weekend, in a tweet announcing his “resignation”, seemingly because Trump was pissed-off by the revelation that, unknown to him, although he pretended otherwise, McGahn (almost the last of the original “grown-ups”) had been co-operating extensively with the Mueller inquiry. As reported in The Guardian:

“Trump said in a tweet that McGahn would depart in the autumn, by which time the administration hopes to have installed Brett Kavanaugh on the supreme court. McGahn has taken a leading role in handling Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!” Trump said (delivering the coup de grace, or the old heave-ho).

As in fact he should: McGahn has performed sterling service in assisting Trump to pack lower US courts with conservative judges who might be sympathetic to him and his cronies; and in leveraging the corporate shill, Neil Gorsuch onto the bench of the Supreme Court. Despite grave doubts as to the circumstances surrounding Mr Justice Kennedy’s unexpected decision to retire, Kavanaugh’s appointment looks likely to go through on the nod, as no-one seems to have the stomach for a fight before the November mid-term elections.*

And the lawyer had been instrumental in the firing of Acting Attorney-General, Sally Yates, after she tried to warn the new President via McGahn that Flynn was a known security risk, and was ignored: presumably, the turn of events that the Mueller team were most interested in finding out more about. Again, his “ouster” by tweet could be seen as a warning to other White House staff to clam up or find themselves stacking shelves in Walmart.

The short-odds betting is that next to go will be the poison dwarf, Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump has never forgiven for recusing himself from the Russia investigations as a consequence of having had meetings he lied to Congress about, with the Russian ambassador, over the vexed question of maintaining sanctions on certain aggrieved oligarchs.

(After NBC’s Lester Holt**, Mr Kysliak was, of course, the second person Trump bragged to about having lifted the threat of the Russia investigation by firing Comey.)

Trump has spared no microdigital effort in abusing and belittling Sessions, and has frequently been reported screaming and wailing in fury about him; since Sessions, whose departure few will mourn, is mostly what stands in the way of his firing the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller; something McGahn allegedly warned him against trying.

With the barely noticed departure of the White House’s ethics lawyer, Stefan Passantino, the very next day, that advice clearly hasn’t gone down well either, adding to the impression that Trump is clearing the decks of all the annoying liferafts on what may soon prove to be the RMS Titanic.

Thus, Justice Department official, Bruce Ohr appears to be only one more name among the latest victims of a Trump-inspired witch hunt aimed at removing anyone who knows anything about Russian intelligence operations possibly touching on Trump’s election. As Wikipedia describes him:

“Bruce Genesoke Ohr (born March 16, 1962) is a United States Department of Justice official. A former associate deputy attorney general and former director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), as of February 2018 Ohr was working in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. He is an expert on transnational organized crime and has spent most of his career overseeing gang- and racketeering-related prosecutions, including Russian organized crime.”

In a slightly odd bit of Wiki editorializing, that has come from who-knows where, we also learn that:

“Ohr was little-known until 2018, when he became a subject of conservative conspiracy theories (that would be the sewer pipe of invention gushing from Trump’s pal, Sean Hannity, nightly on Fox News, then. Ed.) and Republican scrutiny over his purported involvement in starting the probe on Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was criticized by President Donald Trump. There is no evidence that Ohr was involved in the start of the Russia probe. According to a comprehensive review by ABC News, Ohr ‘had little impact on the FBI’s growing probe into Trump and his associates.'”

Those associates presumably include Mr Felix Sater, a former business partner and denizen of Trump Tower, from whom Trump has previously been keen to distance himself, despite what appears to be ample evidence of “collusion” between the two men. Sater has long been fingered by media sources as a soldier in the powerful Russian mafia clan of Semyon Mogilevitch, the FBI’s “world’s most wanted man”, widely believed to have been a white-knight investor in Trump’s failing Atlantic City casinos and properties in New York in the 1990s.

And it was Ohr who several years ago indicted Mogilevitch in his absence, on charges of murder, racketeering, money laundering, people trafficking… oh, you know, bad stuff.

It is surely a fair question to ask what the hell is going on?

“If you turn up for tea unannounced, don’t expect cake.”

  • How does initiating a perfectly legal inquiry into possible criminal malfeasance qualify an official for the Trump bathtub treatment, of personal intimidation and ultimately the loss of their career?
  • Why would Trump apparently rather risk impeachment for obstructing justice than allow the Justice Department to pursue allegations of which he asserts he will be fully exonerated – claiming fatuously that the investigation itself is illegal?
  • What primary loyalties does the President have, and to whom, that appear to be overriding his oath of loyalty to the American people?

The Wiki article has been smartly updated: only two days ago, Ohr was dragged into a closed session of the Congressional intelligence committee – the one chaired by the increasingly haunted-looking Senator Devin Nunes, who for more than a year has been desperately rushing around, inventing all sorts of fantastic reports and other “evidence” of Trump’s innocence and trying to get his own inquiry shut down.

The line of questioning seemed to revolve around Ohr’s – as far as anyone knows, non-existent – “collusion” with British former MI6 Russia specialist and private security consultant, Christopher Steele.

To that end, Sen. Nunes was reportedly to be found in London recently, pushing on doorbells at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, hoping to get some dirt on Steele, whose 35-page “dossier” on Trump and his multifarious connections to Russia continues to exercise the President’s fertile imaginings as to the source of the FBI and Mueller enquiries, that in fact began long before a concerned Steele sent his research to the FBI and it then somehow leaked to the Buzzfeed news website.

Needless to say, the febrile Nunes was sent away with a very British flea in his ear. If you turn up for tea unannounced, don’t expect cake.

Back in Washington, in the gruelling late-summer heat the stench of corruption, lies, intimidation, suspicions of treason and cover-up must be becoming unbearable.

But the Republicans continue to press wilting nosegays to their faces and, with downcast looks, scurry by.

*In the event the Kavanaugh hearing has dragged on, with more and more evidence emerging as to his past dubious decisions and possible background as a protector of a judge accused of serial sexual harrassment of staffers.

**Trump is now accusing NBC of editing (“fudging”) the self-incriminating Lester Holt interview, seen by millions, in much the same way he has pretended the “pussy-grabbing” tape was a fake and it isn’t him seen climbing into and out of the bus. What Trump said about firing Comey because of the Russia investigation is quite clearly visible and audible in one take in the interview, which is still available online. It’s another desperate lie that will only be believed by the Cult of the True Dumbfucks. He’s totally delusional.

 

St Theresa’s jungle interlude

Your Uncle Bogler has been remiss in taking little interest in Prime Minister, Theresa May’s adventures in Africa; other than noting that rarely does the media bother to separate the Dark Continent into its component nations, of which there appear to be no fewer than 54 currently internationally recognized.

It’s all just “Africa” to us white folks.

May: the “Hit me with your rhythm!” shtick. We tried to find a shot of the Maybot gettin’ down wid da kidz, but it seems she just couldn’t stop herself displaying her empathy to all and sundry.

For the past three days, long enough to see Africa in all its cultural homogeneity, Mrs May has been dragging around a trade delegation in the vain hope of belatedly catching up with the Chinese as the principal colonial power de nos jours. Three days, three vast countries should do it.

In our postcolonial shame, the European nations (supported by Mr Trump, whose knowledge of African affairs is confined to his recent spat with former “advisor” and fellow reality-show maven, Omarosa Manigault Newman, a name already fading from memory) have essentially ceded the lucrative development prospects for the mineral- and land-richest parts to Mr Xi’s “Belt and Road” project for global economic domination.

Five African nations are among the world’s fastest-developing, and it was to three of those – South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya – that Mrs May gave her full attention, being filmed several times (as if we did not get the first time that she is a real groovy hipster), jerking about in a bright red jacket like a splinter of bloodied wood, promising to scatter another £4 billion in aid from her magic money-tree if only the African “shadies in Mercedes” would also drum-up a few tariff-free trade deals to take the heat off her floundering Brexit strategy.

Some discussion on the Today program countered the views of the Brexiteers, that the EU imposes fierce trade barriers on African goods, that we could helpfully remove to everyone’s advantage were we out of it. Most trade we do with “Africa” under EU rules turns out to be relatively or entirely tariff-free already, apart from the vexed question of African sugar cane vs. European sugar beet production. The advice seemed to be that moving to World Trade Organization rules would actually worsen the situation qua African farmers.

Er… and that’s it, essentially. Britain’s tiny 0.7%-of-GDP aid budget, invariably resented on behalf of their uninformed and begrudging readers by the professional grumblers at the Mail, is henceforth not to be spent, either to feed the very poor or the very rich, nor yet on emancipatory programs for religiously corralled womenfolk; but on global security, the outing of child slavers and molesters and the sending of other helpful advice about important matters Africans don’t yet understand. To that end, we are to install a branch of GCHQ, or something like it, a call-centre possibly, in Kenya someday.

In other words, the “Africa” aid budget is henceforth to be spent on us.

Much difference it will continue to make.

 

Middle East

When might the mudslinging turn to violence?

“The relevant agency involved is considered to be the strategic-affairs ministry, a government department set up in 2006 whose main function is to minimise threats from, primarily, anti-Israel movements abroad…. The ministry is likely to be fulfilling its duty to the state by helping any opposition to Corbyn. It may be many months or even years before the extent of such help becomes clear.”

Open Democracy’s strategic affairs editor, Paul Rogers, has written what to this elderly blogger appears to be a rational and balanced account of the likely investment of the Israeli state in the current campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and the efforts to brand him and half his party “anti-Semites”. It may be found at:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/netanyahu-s-corbyn-problem?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5ab663bdf5-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-5ab663bdf5-408090269

We at the BogPo have frequently queried the value of such pejorative labelling. Sticks and stones, and so on. The higher you go up the political food chain, the greater I suppose must be the impact. I have no animus whatever against Jewish people, but I have from time to time raised an unwarranted Imperial eyebrow over the inequitable and often brutal treatment of Palestinian natives by representatives of the “Settler state”.

It seems the Israelis have no intention of living in a peaceful and harmonious relationship with anyone, but have retained since the wars of the 1960s a habitually aggressive, massively well-armed, self-defensive militaristic posture based on the edgiest of relationships, not only with neighboring states and the rest of the world, but with their own internalized, demonized “Other”: the native Palestinian minority.

I suppose if anyone read those pieces they would immediately cry “witch!” – a shorter term for “anti-Semite”. And frankly, I don’t give a toss. Call me anything you like, but don’t decry or deny my right to write what is in my heart. I’m not some kneejerk lefty, I firmly believe Mr Corbyn’s tenuous reign over a divided opposition party with no clear strategy on anything is an utter shambles. He has ruinously split the Labour movement, given free rein to a malicious anarcho-syndicalist tendency we thought had gone away forever; while he himself is a tiresome, supercilious old backbench sniper who has spent a political lifetime being a reactionary pain in the arse and can’t lose the habit.

There seems to be no centre to him.

On Palestinian rights, however, I cannot help but agree with him; since that is a position I have held since before I was even aware of his existence. And that is not a defence of terrorism, any more than is the historical reminder from time to time that Israel is a State founded on terrorism, committed both by and against the Jewish majority. This is no time for self-righteousness.

Where my opinion shades into that area where cries of “anti-Semitism!” are loudest and sharpest, is in my view that dividing a nation into first and second-class citizens and walling-up large numbers of the latter in secure enclaves, of the kind we are not supposed to call “ghettoes”, depriving them of the means to thrive, inflicting condign punishment on them for the feeblest of acts of resistance, are evils learned from the tenets of late 1930s German nationalism; lessons from history that perhaps ought not to be repeated as policy in any civilized, modern country.

That such behaviors are also characteristic of the attitudes of successive governments of the United States of America for over 250 years in respect – or for lack of it – of their native tribal minorities, colonized, brutalized and reduced at the hands of settlers in their relentless quest for land and treasure, and latterly of their large African slave population even post-emancipation, offers perhaps a sidelong glance at the close bond enjoyed between the two nations.

Your Uncle Bogler is therefore content to have his prejudices reinforced by Mr Rogers’ thoughtful article. It will be so easy for the “Zionists” or however you want to brand Ambassador Regev, Rabbi Sachs (a deeply furrowed man, who is forever crying “witch” on critics of Israel, even our finest satirists, from the best of protective motives no doubt); anti-Corbyn nemesis Margaret Hodge, and the legion of apologists and fellow travellers here and in the USA, to cry “anti-Semitism!” on Open Democracy; as contributors no doubt soon will.

Easy to spin Paul Rogers’ article as a paraphrasis of the old global conspiracy myth, that is being attached by resurgent quasi-fascists the world over to poor Mr Soros, who has only ever tried to help (except when his depradations on Wall Street damn near wrecked the British economy).

It is increasingly impossible to say anything about the matter; we recall that the poisonous Regev last year succeeded in preventing even a Holocaust survivor from speaking, for she was daring to use the N-word in her criticisms of the Israeli government. Such bullying and suppression of the right to voice one’s criticisms freely is becoming as commonplace as is the supposed “anti-Semitism” of the Labour movement, that has traditionally battled all forms of racism in the streets, in the factories  and on the hustings. What has changed? Little, I suspect; other than the leader and his famous appearances throughout his career on all the “wrong” radical platforms alongside reprehensible men of violence.

Sorry, but that does not make him one of them; any more than having to entertain the Mugabes and the Ceausescus and the Trumps makes HM the Queen a brutal dictator or a corrupt fabulist. It is surely only Corbyn’s judgement, not his morals, that is suspect.

Mention of an Israeli government department dedicated to preventing the election of a pro-Palestinian British Prime Minister – I am always amused by the importance former dominions still attach to Britain’s faded global glories – is bound to excite the pro-Semitic glands of the British wing of the Tel Aviv lobby and the Board of British Deputies.

Let’s not risk the Z-word either: as Rogers reminds us, there are Christian Zionists aplenty in the perfervid, Trump-voting alternative reality of the US Bible-belt. The Z-word, to its opponents, is simply code for settlement, more illegal settlement, giving no quarter – the imposition of a religiously apartheid state and the vision of a shining city upon a hill. In essence, though, all moral authority has been abandoned on the bonfire of Mr Netanyahu’s bluff realpolitik.

All one can do is point helplessly to the nobler aspirations of the founder, ben-Gurion; and to the Proclamation of Independence by the Provisional Government of Israel:

“The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

Is it too “anti-Semitic” to call “bullshit” on the present regime, that continues to flout every single one of those hopeful promises of the founders? Who will naturally say, “well, these Palestinians, whoever they are, we are not responsible, have brought misery upon their own heads by not respecting the primacy of the ingathered exiles in our own land; which, of course, was promised to us by our exceedingly vengeful God. We, on the other hand, have made the desert bloom… thus, we shall continue to destroy the olive groves of the ungrateful, bulldoze their villages, murder their children and punish their desire for self-determination”.

To quote again finally from Rogers, summarising the views of the pro-Israel lobby group in the US calling itself innocently, “The Middle East Forum”:

“The message is clear: in the contest between Israelis and Palestinians, the former is the victor – and there will never be a two-state solution. In this view, any talk of peace can only mean that Palestinians in Israel, the occupied territories, and elsewhere, must accept whatever Israel decides about their future. That is the reality and there is no alternative.”

And judged by his every word and deed, that is clearly the view of Mr Trump, whose foreign policy is bent to the service of his personal enrichment, and that of his indebted son-in-law, Mr Kushner.

Unless Mr Regev and the rest are willing to claim that their statist policies are uniquely those of the Semitic peoples (to which Palestinians, incidentally, also belong) and of the Hebraic religion, which would be a strange thing to acknowledge, they can scarcely complain that to oppose such policies out of conviction and a sense of fairness is an attack upon them personally, on their religious beliefs, their customs and habits, their place and rights in society; perhaps, even a call for widespread cemetery-desecration, pogroms and worse.

The two are simply not to be conflated; and, frankly, I cannot see how the present and growing tensions are being eased by the flinging about of wild assertions, showboating by certain individuals, and the growing intransigence being shown by both sides in what seems to me a very silly political argument, behind which far more sinister forces are lurking.

 

GW: We’re singeing in the rain

USA: powerful storm with 90 mph winds knocks down trees and power lines and damages buildings, leaving 100 thousand homes without electricity and some without gas supplies, across a swathe of Michigan on 28 Aug. (Local press reports) Thanks to a perturbation of the jetstream, the heatwave plaguing the far west for months has lurched eastwards, with 5 wimpish men players retiring from the US Open tennis at Flushing Meadow owing to 38C, 100F degrees heat and lethal humidity. (BBC)

Atlantic: “A strong tropical wave that emerged from the coast of Africa on Thursday morning is likely to develop into Tropical Storm Florence by Friday” (31 Aug – moving towards the Cape Verde islands). Favoring development of Potential Tropical Cyclone 6 are warm sea surface temperatures, while wind shear over the eastern tropical Atlantic is a moderate 10 – 15 knots. And: “A tropical wave located on Thursday afternoon near the Dominican Republic was headed west to west-northwest at 10 – 15 mph. This system has the potential to develop into a tropical depression next week in the Gulf of Mexico. A flood advisory was in effect for much of Puerto Rico on Thursday afternoon (30 Aug).” (Wunderground)

Mexico: Extensive flooding followed heavy rain in Sonora County on the 23rd. The town of Nogales was badly affected. Flash flooding was also reported on the 26th at Junquito, near Caracas in Venezuela. Images show cars and people washed away.

China: Typhoon Rumbia brought intense rainfall and flash floods in the east of the country; cities of Huanan and Shendong affected. In Taiwan, 7 people died in flooding and landslides on 23 Aug, following intense rainfall measured at up to 1.2 meters in 24 hrs in some mountainous areas. “Violent waves caused five cargo ships and oil tankers to run aground off Kaohsiung Harbour.” (Floodlist add)

Japan: After Typhoon Cimaron passed over the island of Shikoku, already downgraded to a tropical storm,13 people were left injured and many properties damaged. It’s due to make landfall again in Korea on 31 Aug. Flights were grounded and 180 thousand homes left without power. Heavy rain is continuing, with rates recorded over 130mm/hr. BUT….

“Supertyphoon Jebi (maximum Cat 5, now north of Guam) is expected to track northwest toward Japan over the weekend. Meteorologists are predicting that Jebi will make landfall to the east coast of Japan by Tuesday, September 4. Although the winds will have weakened from the severe 165mph, they will still be a strong 105mph when Jebi makes land.” (Express). Jebi is the most powerful storm of the current season so far.

Thailand: images emerging of the extensive flooding caused by TS Bebinca twelve days ago, as the river Nan burst its banks.

Ukraine: The city of Lviv was extensively flooded on the 16th.

(Most of the above: CEWN #134)

Myanmar: “Monsoon rains have caused a dam to overflow, inundating the nearby township of Swar and surrounding villages. At least 50,000 people are thought to have evacuated their homes during the early hours of 29 Aug. (Reuters). Images on social media show teams from fire services and military helping to evacuate people from flooded areas.” (Floodlist)

Sweden: Cooler weather arriving just days ago seems to have ended the hottest three months on record for much of the country – and the worst wildfire season. Barbecue restrictions have been lifted. The national weather bureau reports that Stockholm had its highest average temperature (day and night) over the summer, at 22.5C. Hästveda in southern Sweden claimed the record for the hottest overall temperatureof 34.6C, 94F on 26 July. (The Local, Sweden)

Wildfires: With almost 1 million acres burned, the wildfire season in British Columbia, Canada is already the second worst on record – after 2017. Over 600 fires are still burning and air quality in Vancouver is off the scale for unbreathability. Meanwhile, the drought in New South Wales, Australia is continuing, and spring wildfires are plaguing the state again. NASA images show fires burning all around the globe, especially in regions where farmers burn stubble – central Africa is a mass of flame and smoke from this dumb practise.

 

In a searing speech delivered on Thursday night during a visit to Sydney, Tuilaepa Sailele, prime minister of Samoa, called climate change an “existential threat … for all our Pacific family” and said that any world leader who denied climate change’s existence should be taken to a mental hospital. (Guardian)

 

The Pumpkin, Issue 61: Cheeseburger dreams… Why is my brain disintegrating so?…GW: blow me down and frazzle me sideways

Quote of the week:

“Wine is not an investment if you drink it as soon as you buy it.” (Former managers suing Johnny Depp claim he has ‘compulsive spending disorder’. Seems perfectly sound to me.)

 

“Look out chaps, it’s the long arm of the law!” (Photo BBC)

“It’s beginning to look like a one-man production of Macbeth.”

Cheeseburger dreams….

So much of the reporting around the affairs of Trump and his frankly scummy-looking business interests is effectively buried by his daily more atrocious antics and lost from sight.

The Washington Post today (24 Aug) for instance is forced to go to the trouble of dismantling his diversionary attack on South Africa where, he believes, white farmers are being killed for their land as a matter of government policy: another “dog whistle” of encouragement to American racists on a claim entirely bereft of truth or facts, a story based on the alternative truths and facts plugged by Mr Tucker Carlson of Fox News.

This nonsense is eating up some of the newstime that would otherwise be devoted to his imbecilic interview on Fox & Friends in which Trump says he knows stuff because he watches lots of TV, illegal campaign donations in the form of hush money are “not a crime” (because it was his own money!), he barely knew his attorney for ten years, and if he were to be impeached the economy would collapse because it all derives from his thought process (pointing to his head!).

And then in the middle of the night he apparently woke up and tweeted just this: “NO COLLUSION! RIGGED WITCH HUNT!” in all-caps, before falling back into an uneasy slumber. Cheeseburger dreams….

It’s beginning to look like a one-man production of Macbeth.

No-one seems to know what scandal, if any, will eventually bring him down. His support base continues to greet his rambling, dissembling, self-pitying rally speeches with rapturous applause; despite, or more probably because of, their increasingly repetitious nature. “Witch hunt!”… “Crooked Hillary!”… “Fake Nooze!”… “Lock her up!” And now, “Truth isn’t Truth”… They really don’t care what he is or says, so long as he is not what they had before. Only he is, but worse….

Reading through a Post from April 2017, The Pumpkin happened across a commentary we had written about one of the many shady byways of the Trump business empire; citing a report on The Intercept by investigative journalist, Alan Nairn that his then Director of Deregulation, the self-deregulating, asset-stripping billionaire and Wolf of Wall Street, Carl Icahn, was attempting to foment a rebellion to depose the president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, to prevent him imposing environmental controls on his mining interests, in favour of a business ally of Trump’s; and that to this end he was backing a local militia associated with the Islamic State.

The alarming nature of the assertion seems to have passed everyone by; the rebellion appears not to have got very far, but Trump’s business interest in the region is still ongoing

“Mr. Hary (full name Hary Tanoesoedibjo) attended Mr. Trump’s inauguration last year and stayed at his Trump International Hotel in Washington. He also arranged for two Indonesian power brokers to meet with Mr. Trump in Trump Tower, including the then-Parliament speaker, Setya Novanto, who was sentenced last month to 15 years in prison for his part in embezzling more than $170 million from a national identity card program.

“Mr. Trump has reported receiving between $2 million and $10 million in royalties from the project.” – NYT, 15 May 2018.

You see, it’s not just Russia.

A book out this month by a conservative former Republican party strategist, Rick Wilson, is titled: “Everything Trump touches dies”, which may be true, although the best that can be said for him (so far) is that the Orange Don has never been accused of actually rubbing anyone out, preferring symbolic acts of execution by lethal tweet.

Certainly, every business deal Trump touches via his globally active Trump Organization (props. pro tem., Donald Jr, Eric and Ivanka Trump) does seem to be accidentally peripheral to the most astounding criminality and corruption: deals like the notorious Trump Baku, Azerbaijan hotel project, hastily abandoned; its financing linked by the excellent Adam Davidson, staff writer at The New Yorker magazine, via corrupt local kleptocrat, Zia Mammadov to a proscribed terrorist organization, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard; and a Trump Georgia, Black Sea development involving two local oligarchs accused of lending each other money via a bank they secretly owned together.

He does seem to have bad luck with his business partners.

Trump’s involvement licensing his name to the billionaire Hary Tanoesoedibjo’s project (fingers in many pies and political aspirations) to build a ‘6-star’ leisure resort 50 miles south of Jakarta, complete with two golf courses, formed the basis of a report in the New York Times last May, quoted above; and may have led to a curiously anomalous decision he made to order his Commerce Secretary, the reportedly profoundly corrupt* oligarch and Trump family consigliere, Wilbur Ross, to lift sanctions specifically on a Chinese tech company, WZT, linked with the financing of the project.

For he was caught on the horns of a dilemma, hoist with his own petard, pick any self-destructive metaphor you like, when his cynical and retributive trade war with China began to conflict directly with his business interest, as far as Chinese investment (as part of President Xi’s ambitious “Belt and Road” global development initiative) was concerned.

Had he the education, Trump might well have adopted The Sun King, Louis X1V’s slogan, “L’État, c’est moi” (I am the State). For just as he seems to imagine the government works for him, and the Justice Department ought to, his America First! foreign policy seems inextricably entangled with his personal business ambitions.

As Mother Jones reported in January 2017:

“…when it comes to his own business deals, Trump’s actions don’t exactly align with his hawkish rhetoric. In the past, he has tried repeatedly to land big real estate deals in China with state-run Chinese companies as partners. He’s sought access to China’s famously tricky business markets—even for his reality TV show, The Apprentice.

“Trump still owes potentially hundreds of millions in debt to one massive, state-run Chinese bank, while leasing a floor of Trump Tower office space in Manhattan to another….”

If it is not a conflict of interest for the President of one country, who personally owes half a billion dollars to a State-owned bank in another, to impose arbitrary and punitive trade tariffs on that other country, I can’t really say what might be.

Of course, his famous MAGA hats and many of Ivanka’s “fashion” range items are cheaply made in China, putting America First!; while Mr Xi has been generous in ensuring that recognition of their many trademark applications has been prioritized in his commerce department, a process that normally takes Westerners years to battle through.

It’s a complicated relationship.

Amid the furore that has been caused by his personal lawyer and bagman, Michael Cohen’s guilty plea this week, implicating Trump under oath as a co-conspirator to make illegal payments out of campaign funds to silence two of Trump’s former mistresses; the Manafort trial, and the lawyerly gossip on the TV news panels about indictments and impeachment: who’s spilling their guts to the Mueller investigation, and what they might be saying, these dubious international activities involving possible breaches of the foreign Emoluments clause – essentially, the President’s employment contract forbids him from making undeclared earnings abroad – sanctions-busting, and money-laundering have simply got buried.

Today, however, MSNBC is reporting that while it may prove tricky to indict a sitting president on felony charges, a tidal wave is building from the New York Attorney-General’s office, based largely on the vast amount of evidence on paper and “tapes” seized in the FBI’s raids on Cohen’s properties, against Trump’s tax-exempt charity foundation and its trustees, Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka, for illegal use of funds in a variety of ways you may find already sourced in previous Posts on this website and extensively elsewhere.

As Rachel Maddow observes, if they can’t get at Trump himself, they can certainly get at his businesses, his “charities” and his children….

It now appears that when Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130 thousand payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, there is paper evidence and a signature to show he ordered the money to come out of his private charity foundation; a “tape” has him telling Cohen to “pay cash”…. thus linking two technically illegal payments he ought not to have made to the benefit of his own election campaign. Observers have also noted that Trump may have lied when he said he had no prior knowledge of the payment, since he so clearly did.

Cohen was subpoena’d again yesterday (22 Aug) to explain the Foundation’s activities to the tax authorities, as he had apparently arranged the repayments by instalments as tax-deductible expenses (!). He was reportedly on the phone to the IRS personally within minutes, asking for a meeting (he’s out on bail pending sentencing on the illegal campaign donations charges).

Trump, as we know, personally coughed up $25 million in advance of the election to buy off a New York district court arraignment on the matter of the bogus Trump University, in compensation payments to litigants who had been cheated of fees of up to $35 thousand apiece in exchange for a meaningless paper “degree” in real-estate management. The Pumpkin anticipates soon learning where that payment may really have come from, given Trump’s famous reluctance to actually pay any bill from his own pocket.

Then, charges in 2016 of misrepresentation in the matter of property sales against Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, were mysteriously made to go away. As a trustee of his Foundation, who presumably therefore authorized the illegal payments, Trump’s favorite daughter may not be so lucky this time.

And that will surely drive the beleaguered President out of his tiny Chinese mind.

http://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/world/asia/trump-hotel-china-indonesia.html

theintercept.com/2017/04/18/trumps-indonesian-allies-in-bed-with-isis-backed-militia-seeking-to-oust-elected-president/

*www.marketwatch.com/story/wilbur-ross-alleged-to-have-siphoned-more-than-120-million-from-associates-forbes-report-2018-08-07

 

TYT reports that Trump has tweeted his delight that 90 per cent of Republicans (about 35 per cent of all voters) approve the job he’s doing and “52 per cent overall”. It’s all a bit sad, really, as the poll he’s quoting actually says 52 per cent overall think he’s doing a terrible job. But again he accuses the fake news media of lying about his numbers.

Two truths.

 

Why is my brain disintegrating so?

“Air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, according to new research…. It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education. … The longer people were exposed to dirty air, the bigger the damage to intelligence, with language ability more harmed than mathematical ability and men (especially over 65) more harmed than women.”

– From a report in The Guardian, 28 Aug.

Long ago and far away, I had a job writing a three-minute news bulletin and broadcasting it on the hour, with a slimmed-down set of headlines on the half-hour. Dutifully, I would scour my limited range of sources of stories, national and international, and put out a fresh script every hour, to maintain the listeners’ interest.

The listeners being some 20 thousand workers, mostly from ethnic minority communities, within a group of factories baking biscuits and small cakes for the grocery trade, trapped at their workstations standing seven hours a day next to a loudspeaker shared between two. (The idea had been sold to the directors by a small firm manufacturing loudspeakers.)

The factories operated a three-shift system around the clock. The rest of the station’s 24-hour output consisted of pop, bhangra and soul music, including requests; creative “infomercials”, which the rotating team of ten presenters (and sometimes me) wrote and produced, encouraging safety and hygiene, and the occasional management announcement – although those were few, as a matter of policy the management were to be seen to be as hands-off as possible. So innovative were we, the New Musical Express began publishing our “chart” every week, based on the numbers of requests we received.

My own shift ran from 6 a.m. to 6.15 p.m, Monday to Friday, and from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, with one week’s holiday a year. My commute to work was 12 miles on a 50cc Honda, and the pay was £21 a week. After a year or so I was crazy with lack of sleep, but had become so adept at this extreme endeavor that I was able to concentrate between bulletins on more important things, namely the attempting of cryptic crosswords.

My ambition became to complete the main cryptic crosswords in three serious newspapers: The Times, The Telegraph and The Guardian, by lunchtime. Occasionally I was successful, oftentimes not. But by teatime, after another year had gone by I could usually manage all three.

You need a modicum of intelligence, a good wit, a little deviousness and – helpfully – a classical education to do cryptics. But mainly, you just need to learn a few simple rules that all crossword compilers feel bound to follow; standard verbal tics and tricks that point you towards the method by which to solve each individual clue.

An anagram, for instance, might be signposted by the word “scrambled”, or “confused” in the clue, telling you to look for a combination of letters of the right length. The rest of the clue will define the word you need for the answer. It helps, too, if you have solved another clue whose “lights” (the white squares) intersect, giving you at least one letter to work with.

Now approaching my 70th year I live, as your Uncle Bogler has frequently moaned, in a tiny cottage* of just four rooms, set back within a few feet of a thundering arterial road in the outskirts of a bustling seaside town. As time goes by, the volume of traffic, alternately speeding and static depending on the time of day and the season of the year, both private and commercial, continues to grow beyond intolerable proportions; there being a desperate need for a bypass no-one has the political will or the cash to have built.

During the seven years I have been here, six of them spent in a vain attempt to sell the place to somebody better suited to the urban life, I realize as my health, both physiological and mental, deteriorates that environmental factors have been playing a significant part in my rapid disintegration. Not the least of them, the unpreventable leakage of artificial sunshine from three of the new, daylight halogen units sleep-deprivingly blazing all night outside my bedroom.

Where last year, as an actor of growing repute, I was still hurling myself about the stage with joyful abandon, in the course of the last six months I have gone blind in one eye – twice – with limited success in having the sight surgically restored; while I am now catheterized and strapped to a bag, occasionally pissing down my leg or bleeding alarmingly, as the result both of an oversized prostate having cut off the normal flow of urine, and of there being only one part-time urologist serving the elderly population of the entire county, whose waiting-list stretches to the gates of Eternity.

Last March, I endured my first proper streaming head-cold in as many years as I can remember, with a cough that settled on my chest and persisted into June. All last year I had a condition ironically known as “dry eye”, where one’s eyes are continually weeping; and some inscrutable digestive problem that would wake me regularly at 6.30 a.m. with a sharp gnawing sensation like rats tunneling their way out of my gurgling abdomen, regardless of what time I had eaten the night before, that could only be relieved by adopting the foetal position.

To add to all that has been an increase in aches and pains and localized vague feelings of unwellness, especially in the area of the kidneys, only partly relieved by replacing my mattress last week with a firmer one; and a persistent breathlessness unrelated to any exertion. Clearly, there is pollution: as I observe the sky over our little river valley that often appears bright and sunny, with a little effort beneath the dome of cerulean blue can be discerned a supporting arch of brown.

But it is your Uncle’s mental state that is giving him concern; and thus, the report with which we began this item, has both relevance and reassurance. Paranoid, riddled with anxieties, fearful of travel beyond the home and a small selection of familiar byways, wearing, as I have remarked, a groove in the world; unable to concentrate, fixated on YouTube and the horror in the White House, my mind is disintegrating: not because it is rapidly aging, or as a result of its consumption of alcohol, but obviously because its host is being slowly poisoned by the endless stream of bloody cars, all going nowhere important, and huge 32-tonne, 16-wheeler lorries blocking out the sky, heading for the town’s supermarkets, the dust from their brakes leaving an ash-gray coating over everything; the fronts of the houses black with soot from their filthy exhausts.

As it happens, I have not tried to do a crossword for some years now, and have gone rusty. Last night, turning idly to the inside back-page of my copy of The Oldie magazine on my bedside table, the allure of the “Moron” standard puzzle proved too great and I decided to have a go. I completed it in about ten minutes, despite making a significant error that held me back on the last two clues for a further half-hour.

Abandoning it unfinished, I switched out the light and settled down to sleep; and a minute later, switched the light back on as the solution to the last clue had immediately proposed itself. Encouraged by this success, I turned then to the “Genius” level cryptic puzzle, of the kind that long ago I would have eaten for breakfast.

Dear Readers, Spammers, Likers, etc., I was immediately baffled by the absence of several clues that should have been given in numerical order. The numbers were missing. I managed to get a few easy ones, but nothing would lead to anything else. The setters have been getting cleverer. I have never been a great reader of instructions, so I now turned to the top of the page to see what on earth was going on, and found the following paragraph:

“This year marks the 200th anniversary of the creation of a work by a person whose name is given by three unclued entries. Each of eight clues consists of definitions of two words of different lengths; in each case, one letter is removed from the longer word to create the shorter one, which is the answer to be entered in the grid. Solvers (who they? Ed.) should place the removed letters outside the grid, in the positions they would occupy if the grid were extended, to reveal the first word of the title’s work in English….” And so on.

By this time, my addled brain was swimming. It was as if I were being asked to assemble a chest of drawers from Ikea, without an Allen key and blindfold. I read and re-read the words, but they still made no sense.

I have long given up reading books, especially with small print, as I had become bored with reading and re-reading the same paragraph, over and over again, completely unable to absorb its meaning. Now here was a complex set of instructions, telling me I needed to solve clues without being given the clues, or even the numbers of the clues…. I just could not compass it, things being made worse possibly by the bottle of well-chilled Chardonnay with which I had washed down my frozen battered cod balls-and-chips, followed by a nightcap.

With many groans, I awoke at all the usual times, toddling off to the bathroom by the light of the street lamps, my “night bag” trailing on the floor behind me – for some silly reason nothing percolates while I am lying down, I still have to get up and go, assisted by the force of gravity and a painful contraction or two.

At 6.30 I grit my teeth and assume the foetal position as the rats awake and begin to gnaw. No more clues have answered themselves in the night, nothing stirs in the addled brain as the noise of the early morning traffic, by whose growing volume I can pretty accurately tell the time, begins to assume rush-hour proportions.

I switch on the Today program at three minutes to seven, to catch the weather. And there on the news is the story of the Chinese research, the pollution and the brain-damage, and I turn over and shut my eyes tight, scarce daring to breathe the polluted air, hoping to avoid hearing yet another interview with Iain Cunting-Smith giving his vast and airy opinions of gang warfare on London’s streets, his disastrous welfare reforms or his beloved fucking Brexit, the moron, feeling the hard plastic tube tugging painfully on my bladder as I have forgotten it is there, entangled in my aching legs – hoping for some release.

*I have also recently read that the average new-build home is only two square meters larger in surface area than my “tiny” Victorian laborer’s cottage. I am giddy with a sense of space.

 

Infrared image: Hurricane Lane (below, in red, green and blue). Tiny Big Island, above, centre – in outline.

GW: blow me down and frazzle me sideways

Hurricane Lane: the story so far

Wednesday 22: “The (absolutely enormous) Category 4 storm is barrelling towards Hawaii with savage winds of up to 156mph and is expected to hit the southwestern tip of Big Island at around 7pm BST tomorrow (8am local time), 24 Aug. Emergency services are on high alert and officials have warned of “significant impacts” even if the hurricane does not directly hit Hawaii.” (Express) (Actually, part of the threat posed by Lane is that it’s moving at only 6 mph and will consequently hang around dumping rain for many hours.)

Already, p.m. 23 Aug, heavy rain has caused landslides and a number of roads have been closed. The US navy has evacuated its ships from Pearl Harbor and has them standing by at sea ready for emergency relief efforts. Governor David Ige has complained: “Lane is not a well-behaved storm”. That’s saying something. (UPI) “Overall, we can expect widespread 10” to 20” amounts, as already observed on the eastern Big Island, and we would not be shocked to see a few localized storm totals in the 30” – 50” range.” (Bob Henson, Wunderground)

Ten to 20-in rain fell on Big Island in advance of the hurricane arriving. (Photo: Jessica Hendricks, AP, via Wunderground)

Friday 24: “As if the Lane situation weren’t complex enough, a new disturbance about 300 miles to the east developed enough convection and spin on Thursday to be classified as Invest 95C.” (Wunderground) This growing tropical storm could eventually catch up and merge with the outer bands of Lane, which is rapidly weakening at the centre, to produce even greater rainfall totals over the Hawaiian islands.

Saturday 25: “Hurricane Lane … continued to trigger an array of havoc across the Hawaiian Islands. Torrential rains were spreading northward across Oahu to Maui after Lane’s outer rainbands dropped more than 30” on parts of the Big Island, where flooding was described by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center as “catastrophic”. Meanwhile, “two fast-moving wildfires broke out on Friday in the drier downslope flow along Maui’s west coast, causing at least one injury (covering 300 acres).” (Wunderground).

Thousands of homes have been left without power. Apparently, only surfers were having a good time on the 30-foot storm surge, but upper-level wind shear conditions and the glancing blow on land have ripped Lane to bits and with maximum windspeeds now below 70 mph the monster storm has been downgraded to a very wet remnant TS. A threat of flooding from the Ala Wai canal in downtown Honolulu still remains.

Update, 26 Aug: downgraded to TD. Huge hurricane just fizzles out! “Peak rainfall totals on the eastern Big Island topped 40” at three stations, adding up to amounts that are among the highest ever observed in a tropical cyclone in the 50 U.S. states. – the highest rainfall thus far, as reported by weather.com, was at Mountain View, in the higher elevations of the Big Island, which received 51.53 inches of rain from 22 – 26 Aug (72 hr total). Less damage than expected.” (Wunderground)

Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Invest 95C was last reported (23 Aug) 550Km SE of Honolulu. (Meteoi) Bob Henson at Wunderground writes that the slow-to-start Atlantic hurricane season is entering its normally busiest period with depressions starting to move out of Africa unable as yet to achieve spin due to high winds in the upper atmosphere, but sea temperatures are rising and wind-shear weakening and it is only a matter of time before “Florence” (the first name available) is bound to form as a potentially dangerous Cape Verde hurricane.

Japan: Typhoon Soulik crossed over Honshu island Wednesday 23 Aug on its way to batter Korea. President Moon Jae-in called local governments to get ready for the powerful storm and take all necessary actions to keep people safe. Behind it, Typhoon Cimaron made landfall in the Tokushima Prefecture of Japan and is moving on across the island of Shikoku towards Honshu. (Express, UPI and others.) Associated Press reported one death and one injury from Soulik in South Korea, although a change in direction spared the capital; while hundreds of flights were cancelled across western Japan. Remnants of Lane may follow the same trajectory later next week.

Taiwan: “7 people have died as a result of torrential rain and flooding, 23-26 Aug, including 3 who died in the city of Kaohsiung when scaffolding fell from a building. As many as 116 people were injured and around 6,000 people were evacuated. …numerous locations recorded more than 700 mm of rain in 24 hours and some over 900 mm.” (Floodlist)

Afghanistan: “at least 11 people have died in flash floods in the eastern province of Kunar, along the border with Pakistan. Eight of the victims were from the same family. The flooding also damaged farmland, livestock and crops”. (Floodlist)

USA: Up to 15.3 inches of rain fell on Dane County, near Madison, Wisconsin in one 24-hour period, 20 to 21 Aug. Flash flooding closed roads and damaged properties. (Floodlist)

Sudan: “Heavy rains since mid-July have caused severe flooding. As many as 8,900 families have been displaced. As of 16 August the floods and rain had left at least 23 people dead, over 60 injured and affected more than 70,000 people in 7 different states.” (Floodlist)

Germany: A major forest fire has broken out near the capital. “The blaze, which began on Thursday afternoon (23 Aug), spread quickly overnight to engulf 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of forest between the Brandenburg town of Treuenbrietzen and village of Jüterborg, 39 miles (63km) south-west of the German capital, Berlin.” (Guardian) Firefighters are being hampered by unexploded munitions dating from WW2, while a thick plume of smoke has drifted over Berlin itself and residents are being told to stay indoors.

Wildfires: a look at The Weather Channel map of global wildfires might be concerning, I have no idea. Without commentary it looks like half the world is on fire right now. Brazil, for instance, is just one solid blob of orange location markers. Is this normal for August? You judge:

http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap?zoom=5&lat=37.80307138624724&lon=-90.50826873347978&wxstn=0&wxstnmode=tw&radar=0&radaropa=0.7&satellite=0&satelliteopa=0.8&insertHurricaneNameHere=false&goes16opa=0&severe=0&severeopa=0.9&sst=0&sstopa=0.8&sstanom=0&sstanomopa=0.8&cam=0&fronts=0&hur=0&models=0&modelsmodel=ecmwf&modelsopa=0.8&modelstype=SURPRE&lightning=0&fire=1&fireopa=0.9&rep=0&surge=0&tor=0

Everybody off…

The “Ring of Fire” Pacific rim disturbances are continuing.

Five days after the record M7.1 in Venezuela, “discredited” earthquake predictor (80%-plus success rate, USGS now privately using his methods) “Dutchsinse” reports on the largest-ever deep earthquake to arrive under South America, a M7.1 600Km beneath the Peru/Ecuador border, in the ostenosphere below the S America tectonic plate. He warns of the danger of a shallower M8 next to the same location within 6-10 days.

While reporting this event, Mr Janitch notes a unusually large M5.0 arriving live next to the fracking operations in Colorado, just south of Yellowstone, and a M3.0 in the English channel.

He speculates about a global disturbance event.

Yellowstone: USGS reporting a number of springs drying up or at low water, boiling. The Blessed Mary draws our attention to “drumbeats” and harmonic tremors on the seismographs, continuing ground uplift, disturbing volume of rising magma, outgassing of helium and SO2.

02 Sep., she reports, the Steamboat Geyser, biggest in the park,  has erupted for the 16th time this year. The largest number of times it has erupted in an entire year before was 3 in 2003. Park director, Michael Poland has reassured her, geyser eruptions are perfectly normal