Spring is bustin’ out all over: 2017 nature survey. Plus: We want our bins emptied: the hidden undercurrents of UK foreign policy.

A feeling you’re being swallowed-up by Nature

“It’s a landscape that would have set a writer like JG Ballard thinking.”

Hi.

Look, I know you’re probably not reading this. You’d rather be reading those old stories about the ill-fated Comex 2 expedition, or How to Live in a Stately Home, basically by becoming a desperately underpaid caretaker, that I Posted years ago.

But I need your help.

Wherever you live, and you should know, I’d like you to just take a few seconds next time you’re out on a walk in some countryside, assuming you don’t live in a city or a desert, to look around and tell me if you’ve ever seen so much spring growth, looking so healthy?

Because I’m well on in my seventh decade and I can honestly say, my walks with Hunzi are getting like we’re being swallowed-up by Nature. One day soon we might go out and never find our way home!

I try to tell people, but they just shrug and hurry on by, staring at the ground – hopefully, to avoid treading on snails.

I was born and raised in the city, but for the past 32 years I’ve lived either deep in, or right on the edge of, the west British countryside, where for some years I worked as a gardener and estate manager.

My location is only a couple of miles from the sea, where nothing is ever taken to extremes other than sometimes Atlantic storm fronts that come sweeping through, the tails of old Gulf hurricanes, in recent years with increasing violence; although this year I remember only one called Brian. It’s Goldilocks country: seldom too warm, never too cold. Never too sunny, seldom too wet. Perfect!

Bracken up to my shoulders – in early June (there’s a railway behind the gate, I think).

Over the past few years, however, I’ve noticed it’s been getting greener. Which is to say, there’s more vegetation coming up in spring, flowering or blossoming earlier, growing taller and more luxuriant; all tumbling over itself in the fight for light.

This year has been just phenomenal. It’s impossible to do justice to the scene using a cheap  cameraphone; anyway, in a photograph you’ve got nothing to judge by, no sense of time passing and little sense of scale. But I’m trying…

And so healthy! For years, our trees have been showing signs of stress. Ash die-back, chestnut canker, oak wilt… We’ve been hearing for a long time of terminal threats to the traditional British countryside. This year there’s no sign of those diseases in my local river-valley arboretum; no tragic spindly thinning of crowns, no sooty or powdery mildew on the leaves.

It’s frankly a little scary to see this and have no idea what’s really going on. There seems to be a lot more birdsong than usual, too. Nestbuilding started early, courtship flights in February? Maybe the birds can tell me what is going on? It’s even scarier that I don’t know anyone else who has really noticed those things until I raise the subject.

That’s why I need your help. Do please feel free to write and tell me if you’ve noticed it too!

My theory seems too way-out for anyone who doesn’t follow the unfolding story of climate change and what it is doing to the planet, or who doesn’t want to. I mention it, but they just look like they don’t understand, or don’t want to know. The weather here is so, well, normal, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like further south.

A while ago, I came across a mention of a report that said biomass – vegetation – has increased around the world by about eleven per cent since some appropriate time in the past, owing to increasing carbon dioxide – CO2 – in the air, encouraging plant growth.

Uh-huh, I thought, that seems to fit.

Mats of weed forming on the local river. I’ve not seen these before.

A little later, I read that atmospheric CO2 is now at 410 parts per million (I have no idea what a ‘part’ represents, by the way. I generally think in terms of measures as small: a large wine-glass, and big: half a ‘Wales’), about 50 per cent higher than at the beginning of the 1900s, thanks to burning oil, gas and coal; also, thanks to intensive livestock farming, which through the efforts of the intensive livestock farming industry doesn’t often get mentioned as the real problem it is.

A 100 per cent increase in CO2, to 570 ppm, would produce, experts say, about five degrees of warming globally. But much less warming, less than two degrees, might be enough to trigger massive releases of methane gas locked-up in the frozen tundra and under the Arctic sea. Methane, a form of carbon-plus-hydrogen, is an accelerant for global warming and it’s said to be reaching danger levels.

With a big enough methane release we could have a planet that’s ten degrees warmer by 2030, and that’s not survivable. Most life would go extinct.

Because it appears that plants can absorb only so much CO2.

Lots of supposedly reliable websites like the BBC and The Telegraph reported a while ago, research that shows plants are capable of absorbing more CO2 than was thought, and will therefore save the world. This sounds to me like one of those ‘fake news’ stories, misleading research that is put out by scientists and PR lobbyists working for the fossil fuel industry.

The helpful Skepticalscience.com website, however, paints a different picture, reporting that:

 “Too high a concentration of CO2 causes a reduction of photosynthesis in certain plants. There is also evidence from the past of major damage to a wide variety of plants species from a sudden rise in CO2. Higher concentrations of CO2 also reduce the nutritional quality of some staples, such as wheat.”

Shoulder-high clumps of wildflowers and weeds fighting for light

So, with reduced photosynthesis, do plants need to produce more leaf-area, more luxuriant growth, to get enough food from sunlight?

Also, says the report, more rapid plant growth requires more rainwater – not of the rapid, flood-everything kind we are increasingly seeing, but of the slow percolation, ‘little-and-often’ kind – and reduces soil fertility. It’s worth reading the whole article: Plants Cannot Live on CO2 Alone (skepticalscience.com/co2-plant-food.htm)

Other reports say 97 per cent (it’s always ’97 per cent’!) of warming to date has gone into the oceans, which has created different but equally problematic effects. It’s acidifying the water, killing the plankton at the base of the food chain that absorbs CO2 and produces most of our oxygen; causing sea-level rise through volume expansion, that’s already periodically inundating seaside communities like ours; and melting the polar sea-ice cover – which in turn creates wider ‘dark water’ areas that absorb more solar energy.

Another effect of the warming ocean is to iron-out the gradients between warmer and colder water. This has an effect on important currents like the Gulf Stream, which this year produced a worrying ‘cold spot’ in the north Atlantic; but also on the jetstream, the high-altitude, high-velocity winds that circle the globe, normally at latitudes defining the arctic and antarctic circles.

A riot of blossom on tree-high gorse.

In recent years the jetstream has been losing energy, meandering around slowly and allowing warm air to move into the polar regions and dumping frigid air on the USA and central Europe. Stronger winds at lower altitudes are creating bigger waves in the arctic, that are helping to breakup the thinning sea-ice; warmer water in the Southern Ocean is undermining the vast antarctic ice-shelves, causing them to breakup and disperse; meltwater is lubricating glaciers everywhere, speeding up their rate of travel and eventual disappearance.

Views of Antarctica are now, paradoxically, showing areas of the formerly ice-covered or barren, rocky land turning green with new forests of mosses.

So it seems we’re not going to win against the climate, and increasing numbers of scientists are advising us to say our prayers and enjoy life while we can.

But a walk through the magical new ‘subtropical rain-forest’ environment that is my nearby river valley, for however short a time it may last, is to step back into an era historians remind us was a time of abundance in the natural world that we’ve been missing now since our great-grandparents’ generation; and maybe hadn’t even noticed had gone by.

It’s a landscape that would have set a writer like JG Ballard thinking.

He liked a good apocalypse.

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Google images ‘Vote for a harder Brexit!’ (But the Tories tanked.)

x“…it may very well be that one of the first votes in the new Parliament will be on whether or not to go to war once again…”

We want our bins emptied: the hidden foreign policy undercurrents of the UK election

It’s getting bad.

Extraordinary arctic temperature anomalies, smog-laden anticyclones, supercell storms and ‘polar vortices’ descending as far south as Florida and even the Sahara (it snowed in Libya!), extreme weather events have been creating widespread and costly disruption.

There can be no question that climate change is now a permanent feature of life on earth and, driven by a warming climate, is having profound economic effects everywhere.

Against this background, President Trump has signalled US withdrawal from all measures to limit global warming in favour of a dash for profits for dinosaur American businesses.

While peoples affected by floods can expect the waters to abate and life to resume, there is an urgent need to rescue those suffering from seemingly permanent droughts and intolerable heat, in which normal agricultural production becomes impossible. Tens of millions are on the borderline of starvation, their condition ignored and exacerbated by corrupt governments in thrall to the fossil fuel extractors and the arms peddlars.

UN relief agencies have been crying out for support, as the flood of refugees – those who can manage to flee – becomes a tide; and the food runs out. But the USA under the criminal ecocide Trump is deliberately witholding promised financial aid to the UN.

What is their policy?

Other Western nations, egregiously Britain, but including ultra-nationalist, Islamophobic countries like Hungary, are forever moaning that these people need to look after themselves, demeaning their status and cutting aid while continuing to exploit their fragile economies with inequitable trade deals, erecting legal and physical barriers to forestall the inevitable point at which we will have to admit our policy is to let them all die; if we do not actually have to massacre them ourselves.

Thus climate change is an urgent foreign policy issue for every nation.

An issue that played absolutely no part in the UK’s customarily insular and parochial general election.

Nor, indeed, did the coming wars with Iran and North Korea, as the situation in Syria continues to spin out of control, that are threatening to engage the major powers.

Unlike Britain’s after eight years of pointless austerity, the economy of a resurgent and united European Union is on the rise. After her failed campaign aimed at securing a majority for a suicidal ‘hard Brexit’ negotiation with the 27 remaining members, Mrs May will struggle to maintain a government that is sufficiently ‘strong and stable’.

And it may very well be that one of the first debates in the new Parliament will be on whether or not to go to war once again, riding on America’s coat tails.

A war we have already shown in Iraq and Afghanistan we are ill-equipped to prosecute.

The extra money that always seems to be found for absurd military adventures in pursuit of lost glories will, of course, have to be denied to the collapsing social-care and health-service infrastructure, the schools already dumping teachers by the thousands and cutting free meals, the vanishing ‘early start’ childcare and youth apprenticeship schemes, the failing universities and adult education colleges, the closing women’s refuges – the disappearing bobbies on the beat.

The vanishing remnants of UKIP supporters will of course be delighted, but with even Romania’s economy growing at twice the rate of Britain’s, and our currency back on the floor, there will be no more economic incentive for EU workers to come here. We shall become increasingly a threadbare industrial and service nation, as it has long been a fantasy of the Right that there are millions of unemployed but fully deserving Britons willing to step in to take up the slack left by the hoped-for departure of the beastly ‘foreigners’ who have been undercutting our labour market.

There aren’t.

Foreign policy is inextricably linked to domestic affairs. Chickens tend to come home to roost. Theresa May’s hasty and ill-judged commitment to the epochally dysfunctional and malignant Trump administration may also shortly become another issue of foreign policy, a diplomatic train-wreck with which her bumbling apology for a Foreign Secretary, Mr Johnson (newly reconfirmed in his job. Why?) will soon have to deal.

That’s if he hasn’t made another bid for her job.

Dumping Trump

US politics receives massive coverage in the UK during their election periods, but almost none after.

‘Mister Trump’ as the BBC continues to refer to him in respectful tones, as if his corrupt, nepotistic and thuggish White House regime with its wrecking-crew of unqualified billionaire appointees were completely normal, is under intense Congressional scrutiny already, after only four months in office; while several criminal investigations continue to draw ever-closer to the cognitively impaired President as the centre possibly of a ring of money-launderers, disruptors and foreign agents.

He has found numerous ways to piss-off our trading partners and defensive treaty allies in Europe, which looks to The Pumpkin quite like Putin’s strategy, from whom we are foolishly hoping to detach ourselves with the minimum of damage to our economy. Brexit has not come at a good time, politically. Without Trump, without Mrs Merkel’s Europe, that can ‘no longer trust’ us, we could be finding ourselves a bit friendless and in a sorry state of growing irrelevance on the world stage.

It is incredibly serious.

Congressmen, pundits and the ‘fake news’ media in America are all in agreement: it’s already much worse than Watergate; which, let’s remember, happened during Nixon’s second term in office – not within days of his inauguration.

The President has continued to bluster, to lie, to threaten, to (apparently) attempt to pervert the course of justice, to fire investigators, to attack the media and the judiciary, to ringfence himself behind a battery of lawyers, to fantasize about ‘tapes’ of his mafia-boss-style conversations, mano a mano – and ultimately to sulk like a four-year-old, in an apparent attempt to push the investigations away from focussing on him personally.

Why? What has he been up to? What has he to fear? Why would an honest President not welcome an inquiry into possible wrongdoing among his campaign staff, if the strong suspicion arises?

So toxic is the Trump brand, four leading Washington law firms reportedly refused to take his case. Building owners have been removing his name from the facades of their Trump-sponsored hotels. He cannot find candidates to fill the more-than 500 vacant senior posts in various government agencies. Several of his closest aides have been implicated in the FBI’s investigations, even his son-in-law ‘Mister Kushner’ the ‘successful property developer’ who owes a billion dollars; and are under investigation for possible espionage, sanctions-busting and money-laundering, that is even now reaching out to figures in the UK with links to UKIP and the Leave campaign.

And like NATO, Trump doesn’t pay his bills – or his contractors. He is facing a mountain of lawsuits from aggrieved creditors; investigations are also ongoing into his possible misuse of private tax-exempt charity funds and his ‘Trump University’ scam; while he owes hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe billions, to foreign banks including sanctioned Russian banks, American banks having refused to lend him money for many years since he gained a reputation for suing banks when they asked for repayment.

And he is reportedly connected with wealthy oligarchs who may have found his particular business model helpful in managing their money. He seems vulnerable to pressure on many fronts.

There’s the in-fighting in the Oval Office.

Did Steve Bannon leak to the New York Times, the story that Kushner had meetings, first with Russian ambassador Kislyak and, shortly after, with the head of the VEB Bank – a Russian bank linked both to Putin and the FSB security service – who flew in specially for the meeting; and that he owes money to twenty banks? Kushner failed to declare the meetings on his security clearance form and dad-in-law has seemingly kicked him into the long grass over it, putting Bannon back at the centre of his advisory team.

Many of Trump’s speeches, policy statements and presidential ‘executive orders’ appear to support the theory that he is somehow beholden to, or in the pay of, President Putin; an idea that he has furiously denied in many seemingly self-incriminating tweets. He continues despite widespread criticism to give the impression of promoting Russia’s foreign-policy ambitions over those of the United States, and refuses to say a bad word about Mr Putin. Why? What is the connection? He refuses to say. He is certainly beholden to US energy billionaires and has made a frenzied assault on environmental protections.

Why, the Senate is demanding to know, did he meet with top Russian officials including Foreign Minister Lavrov in the Oval Office, excluding any US media from an unscheduled visit only a day after he fired the head of the FBI, James Comey? Comey now says Trump tried to stop him investigating his connections to the Russians; criminal interference with an investigation. What did Trump blab to the Russians about Israeli penetration of the ISIS network – a conversation publicly denied one minute by his security advisor, General McMaster, only to be admitted to in another self-incriminating late-night tweet the next?

Why did he insist on even his Attorney General leaving the room while he apparently attempted to secure a personal commitment of loyalty and a public statement from Comey that he himself was not being investigated, under the implied threat of removing the FBI director from his position? How did he imagine Comey could have given such an undertaking in the middle of an investigation without it compromising any possible future evidence that might have to be given in court?

And what was the purpose of the many meetings and phone calls the intelligence services are sure his aides had with Russian agents during and after the election campaign? Meetings which they denied under oath, but were later forced to admit to? Calls, intercepted by GCHQ and other European agencies? Why the secrecy? Why the cover-up?

Indeed, it appears that, even before the inauguration, efforts were being made to undermine the Obama regime’s sanctions against Russia; while top officials such as General Flynn and NSA head, Admiral Rogers who were dismissed by, or under investigation at the instigation of, Obama following intelligence intercepts, were immediately re-hired on the Trump campaign and transition teams and have continued to refuse point-blank to co-operate with Congressional committee hearings despite being held in contempt.

Why? What is their loyalty to Trump? Or is it because they too are under investigation by the FBI and cannot speak publicly without losing some promised immunity they may have been offered from prosecution? All the material has been handed over to special prosecutor Mueller; yet the Justice department refuses to confirm or deny that Mueller himself could, in theory, be answerable to the President for his job.

Why has Mr Trump not yet replaced the 47 circuit court judges he ‘retired’, some of whom were reportedly looking into his affairs; why did he fire Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General, immediately after she had warned his White House counsel about the concerns of the intelligence community, specifically about his National Security Advisor, General Flynn, and his connections with Russia? Why, having fired him too, does he continue to try to rescue Flynn from the investigation?

Why, having been forced to recuse himself from any Russia-connected inquiries after lying several times on oath about his meetings with Russian officials, is Attorney General Jeff Sessions still in his job as the head of the Justice department; and how then did he apparently have a hand in the firing of Comey?

It is all incredibly serious.

The talk is of enforced resignation, possibly on grounds of mental ill-health. Senator Al Green of Texas is a black man, and a Democrat, and is therefore suffering a social media shitstorm of threatened lynchings and rapes of himself and his family by Trump’s crazier dumbfucks, but yesterday he announced he was drafting articles of impeachment.

However, Trump is protected against most criminal indictments – even for betraying classified information to a foreign power, which he has now done three times, claiming executive privilege – as long as he is still in office.

So there’s a long way to go before Trump is dragged kicking, screaming and tweeting infantile nonsense from behind his desk and admitted to a secure facility. Throughout his business career he has been suspected and accused of criminal wrongdoing and having deep connections with international crime syndicates – Dark Money – and the vastly wealthy and corrupt individuals who run them from the shadows.

The ‘evidence’ is to be found all over the internet, in the form of perfectly serious media investigations.

So counter-litigious is Trump, so manipulative, that nothing has ever stuck.

Maybe getting himself elected President, with or without overseas aid, will save him; maybe it will be his Nemesis.

Either way, Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with America will be sorely tested, as it becomes clear his promises on trade are not worth the paper – remember: ‘America First!’ – and he drags us into military intervention on a dangerous path to a new world war.

So you see, foreign policy is not something politicians should ignore at election time.

But, who cares?

We want our bins emptied!

 

More weather news…

You might not want to be in Capetown right now.

After months of drought and water rationing in the city, a terrifying storm has battered the Western Cape coast. Eight people are so far dead. The storm surge sent seawater flooding communities hundreds of metres inland. Lightning killed a woman and three children in a car; and has set fire to thousands of acres of tinder-dry forest. The wind was strong enough to overturn parked cars and prevented helicopters from firefighting. Schools and a hospital are among hundreds of homes and buildings evacuated and burned down in the town of Knysna.

One witness said: ‘It looks like a war zone’. Another, his dashcam recording as he drives through fire, just keeps repeating: ‘Fuck!’

The forecast is for the storm to last several more days.

Raw footage and local news reports on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sE1-Pdl4sXM

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 20: The IQ Test; You sick sack of shit; How Trump is drawing us into war.

“Boris Johnson has said he sees no reason to rescind the invitation to Donald Trump for a state visit, despite the US president’s attacks on the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, after Saturday’s terror attack.” – The Guardian, 6 June.

“I see no shits?”

‘IQ’ test?

‘I Quit’ is what we would all prefer to hear from this odious character.

As the Comments expressing horror and shame at what America has done to itself mount up on the web, many commentators are calling for White House staff to simply take away President Trump’s cellphone.

He previously had a Samsung, but has now apparently acquired a more American-sounding iPhone, manufactured – like his daughter’s fashionable shoe range – by slave workers in China. Separating him from his Twitter feed may be difficult. He seems to have an unlimited budget for replacement cellphones.

For, like your Uncle Bogler, he is at heart an overgrown teenage baboon in the first stages of dementia, who compulsively evacuates in 140 characters or less, a medium that might have been invented for an untreated ADHD individual with a 15 seconds’ attention-span, the thoughts produced by his diseased brain and spews them out into the world through the little magic window; a digital megaphone.

He’d sleep better without it, that’s for sure. But is anyone really receiving his thoughts?

It appears that, of the 30 million or so Followers of @realdonaldtrump Twitter feeds, almost half – over 14 million – are fake accounts.

You can go online and buy Followers? Yes, apparently, for a few hundred bucks you can pick up a million or so non-existent names, according to online newsmouth, David Pakman. And, mirabile dictu, there are other websites you can lookup, that tell you whether someone’s Twitter account is genuine or fake; and how many fake accounts they have, and 14 million is the figure they give @real.

Isn’t technology amazing.

And it doth indeed appear that Mr Trump, or someone ‘close to him in the White House’, the pizza chef, maybe, the butler who brings him his constant supply of fizzy drinks, Jared Kushner perhaps, has been buying up fake Twitter accounts to make the chemically poisoned Prez look better.

Whether the activity is designed to impress the public with his popularity which is about at rock-bottom; or just privately to bolster the confidence of the most insecure and thin-skinned leader since Caligula, or to boost revenue from his click-throughs or whatever (The Pumpkin does not entertain knowledge of the workings of social media accounts) is anyone’s guess.

But how bizarre is it, that he should be so obsessed with his personal popularity ratings, that he is prepared to lie even to himself about the number of people hanging on his tweets, that are mostly just incoherent late-night tirades of abuse directed at Meryl Streep, or Mayor Khan, or the ‘failing New York Times‘, or anyone else he’s seen on Fox News who arouses his foul-natured spleen?

Possibly not as bizarre as the deep denial of the majority Republican party that an elderly man with arrested development who sits up all night tweeting pathetically that everyone is out to get him, can possibly be considered unfit to hold the office of President of the United States a moment longer?

Ghastly and devious though the fundamentalist Vice-President, Mike Pence, may be, the ‘snow-capped walking advert for Anusol’ nailed to a cross, he at least isn’t a mad, childish buffoon given to sudden intemperate reverses of 70 years of US policy, directing a stream of complaints and abuse towards its allies, a diseased Emperor indulging in paranoid nepotism, blatant corruption, blabbermouth security breaches, vain and unwarranted boasting, launching hysterical attacks on his opponents, deliberately impoverishing his subjects’ life chances, compulsively lying, throwing screaming fits at his staff as though they were his own employees and not the Government’s – costing the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars in gratuitous holiday expenses* and keeping his wife a prisoner in a New York tower-block.

Nor is Pence entirely prey to the devious blandishments of the Iago of the Oval Office, Steve Bannon, and the Breitbart conspiracy.

The Vice-President does have the power through the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove the President, at pistol-point if need be, if he shows he is so unstable that he cannot be thought of as fit to continue as Commander-in-Chief.

Which he obviously cannot.

That would be quite in line with the First Amendment right of the People to protest and remove if necessary, an oppressive autocrat.

Trump’s revolting campaign of tirades against the mayor of London, Mr Sadiq Khan, are nasty and racist and personally motivated by hatred of a man who came out months ago with a comment opposing his eagerly anticipated State visit later this year.

It would be wholly inappropriate in the view of The Pumpkin for Trump to be entertained by the frail and ageing Queen, 92, as if he were somehow worthy of the honour of a State visit. He’s done nothing to deserve it. We feel sure she is dreading the occasion, being forced to eat steak with ketchup on, tune all the palace TVs to Hannity Guy and have the Buckingham Palace lawn turned into a putting green.

The Prime Minister puts out that Trump was ‘invited’ by the Queen, but the Queen does not issue those invitations, some aristocratic flunkey in Whitehall does that at the request of Downing Street. We imagine she would rather entertain a ruthless dictator like Robert Mugabe, a British-educated and punctilious man of her own age, than have the vulgar Trumps to dinner and sit through their unspooling marital disaster while waiting for the President to make some abusive attack on Prince Charles, a dedicated tree-hugger; or thrust the poor Duke aside to get to the front of a photo-op, wearing his fake ‘Presidential’ face like the late comedian Frankie Howerd being sodomised by a camel.

Nor do the British people wish to be obliged to watch the spectacle of this ludicrous, vain impostor swishing down the Mall in his hundred-ton motorcade, the all-conquering hero. Fuck that. (Worse still, he’s said to have requested a gilded coach… ’nuff said?) The best thing we can do to protest is just to not turn up at his parade, then he can spend the next six months mumbling and crying like a lovelorn snowflake over the non-existent numbers.

The President who rails against the ‘Fake News’ media is not above descending into the swamp of Fake News himself, fabricating (as he did when he called-out Obama for ‘wiretapping’ the Trump Tower) a libellous and paranoid case that mayor Khan is somehow responsible for encouraging terror attacks in London, fatuously challenging him to an ‘IQ test’.

‘IQ’? ‘I Quit’ is what we would all prefer to hear from this odious, self-serving character.

*Now totalling 23 golf vacations in 19 weeks, at a cost to the public purse of over $30 million….

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A view more charitably expressed if in many ways more alarming can be found at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2jqohySZz4

You can stop at 12 minutes, where he goes to phoned-in questions. Reich – Robert Reich – is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies.

Not just some schmuck.

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You sick sack of shit

“Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.

“…while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses. All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors.”

What’s this about?

Okay, so according to the highly respected financial journal, Forbes magazine, the Trump family has an extensive network of tax-exempt ‘foundation’ charities, and every year the Little Nazi, Uday (Eric), uses his personal foundation to borrow one of Orange Daddy’s golf resorts, he says for free, to host a fundraiser for a kids’ cancer charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

All the money, he tells the wealthy attenders, goes to help the kids.

Only turns out it’s not exactly free. Orange Dad has been billing Eric for the use of the courses at an eyewatering rate, the money’s coming out of the celebrity and business attenders’ donations and instead of going to the charity is being siphoned off to other Trump ‘charities’, from where it’s been used to pay bills.

This, says the story, is not Eric’s idea – it’s the ‘billionaire’ President of the United States who is insisting on getting paid.

In other words, Donald Trump is reportedly bullying his own son to steal money from kids with cancer to line his own pockets.

And Eric Trump has just been on the ratings-loser Sean Hannity show on Fox News, telling the world that Democrats ‘aren’t even human’ because they attack his dad and make things difficult for him? The opposition party? Surely not!

This reinforces The Pumpkin’s theory that it has not dawned on the President that he is a Government employee, not the CEO of some giant corporation he has already admitted is too complicated for one man to run. The functionaries he is screaming abuse at in his mad tantrums are not his employees, they are his colleagues – other Government employees.

That’s because a President is not supposed to ‘run’ the country, he embodies the Constitution, a system of checks and balances that Donald Trump is racing to dismantle because it’s inconvenient and gets in the way of business.

If the story holds up, if they’re bilking genuine charities to fund their phoney ones, I don’t personally think these bottom-feeders should wait to go to hell before they start burning, do you?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2017/06/06/how-donald-trump-shifted-kids-cancer-charity-money-into-his-business/#d2602d46b4a3

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“Western nations are totally out of their depth in the labyrinthine religious, tribal and political twists and turns of this intensely fractured region”

Does he really want the job?own c

The Syria situation has taken a very strange twist, as Saudi Arabia, Bahrein and the UAE, together with Egypt, have turned on their former ally, the tiny oil principality of Qatar, in a bizarre row over supposed Qatari support for Israel and Iran.

Qatar is a strongly Sunni country and, like Saudi Arabia, finances Wahabbism (rightwing fundamentalist Islam) all over the world. The same puritanical beliefs are also held to the extreme by so-called Islamic State and other groups, as well as the Taleban in Afghanistan, that appear to be fuelling a wave of terror attacks, not only in the West but in the Philippines, Indonesia and even as far away as Australia.

Yet Qatar is supporting to the hilt, the allied offensive against ISIS – as is Iran. Russia and Turkey are listed, too, as friends of the Qataris; both oppose Saudi hegemony in the region, and both are actively engaged in the US-led programme to eliminate ISIS while supporting or opposing other militias and the Free Syrian Army, that are also fighting ISIS; but which, beyond the fight against ISIS, are deeply distrustful of, and possibly even fighting against, one another.

In the view of The Pumpkin, this is not a situation in which the West should be involved.

Israel is – well, Israel, and Iran is a Shia theocracy, sworn enemy of both the Israelis and the Sunni Arab tribes. The idea of any Arab state suddenly deciding to support both its sworn enemies in the region against its friends is unusual, to say the least. However, it is Qatar’s perceived support for the universally hated Muslim Brotherhood, as purportedly expressed through Quatar’s global TV news operation, Al-Jazeera, that is uniting the Gulf states against them.

Seizing the moment, Trump has blundered along with the narrative and has been tweeting furiously against the Qataris, calling them terrorism funders, taking boastful credit for the new hardline stance by ‘the leaders’ of the Arab world against the progressive, pro-Western Emir and proclaiming fatuously that his speech in Riyadh was ‘the beginning of the end of terrorism’ – despite, as The Guardian describes it (6 June):

“While in Riyadh, Trump met regional leaders, including the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. He said the US and Qatar had been “friends for a long time” and that the two leaders discussed the Qatari purchase of “lots of beautiful military equipment.”

Now he has performed a 180 degree flip, clearly in the hope of boosting his flagging ratings, or because he forgot, claiming personal kudos for another diplomatic disaster – yet (again) completely undermining his own credibility at the same time.

And he doesn’t get it. His vanity is blinding.

Far from being ‘the beginning of the end of terrorism, Trump’s speech was the starting-gun for Saudi Arabia to flex its muscles in the region, relying on a mountain of ‘beautiful military equipment’ to be supplied by the US arms industry.

Of course the oppressive Saudis are happy to blame little Qatar for all the terrorism, diverting attention from their own monstrous regime. And Qatar’s perceived attempts to mediate with Iran are a perfect excuse to substitute a little terror for all-out war.

Which is all deeply embarrassing to the US military, on the brink of the final ‘push’ against IS in Raqqa. For Qatar hosts the giant al-Udeid airbase, the most important facility in the allied airforces’ Syrian war armoury: and it appears President Trump has forgotten, or maybe never knew, the strategic necessity not to upset the Qataris just yet if he wants to impose the final solution on IS.

White House officials rehearse for Mr Trump’s forthcoming visit to Israel.

So, the Pentagon and White House ‘officials’ (whoever they now are, most have quit or are in hiding or, like Secretary Tillexxon, in constant movement around the globe to avoid encountering his abusive boss) are once again scurrying to distance the administration from deranged tweets fired off like cruise missiles from the iPhone of the lunatic upstairs.

Thus far the Arab states have withdrawn their ambassadors, imposed a blockade on food and other imports coming in over the border and closed most airspace around the small but wealthy city-state on the Gulf, a major oil and gas exporter. It’s pretty serious – about as serious as it gets without a fullscale war breaking out, that could draw in Qatar allies like Turkey, whose troops are already on the way.

But given the tribal and religious dimension, an alliance between Qatar – which has hotly denied the links with terrorism – Israel and Iran seems highly unlikely. While the major exporter of Wahabbist terrorism around the world is, of course, Saudi Arabia. So what could be the reason for the flare-up?

When you go on websites to try to find out what’s afoot in the region, one little word keeps popping up, that may well prove the eventual connection with all this:

Gas.

Qatar shares an enormous gas field with Iran. And we know the Russians are trying to limit output from the gas-rich Middle East to maintain a higher price for their own gas exports, hoping to maintain a strategic advantage over Ukraine and EU consumers and a possible stranglehold in time of conflict.

Similar shenanigans seem to be going on in the Eastern Mediterranean, where various companies including the US-based Noble Energy, a Trump-connected operation, are vying to pipe gas from Israel’s offshore fields under the sea, bypassing Syria and through Turkey, but are being blocked by an Israeli court.

Is part of the Russian rationale for its presence in Syria to prevent that?

Well, CNN has been reporting today that a Russian hack was probably responsible for starting the rumours about Qatari moves to reconcile, both with Iran and Israel.

“US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation. The FBI recently sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident, Qatari and US government officials say.”

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/06/politics/russian-hackers-planted-fake-news-qatar-crisis/index.html

Thus far The Pumpkin has not been able to confirm what that ‘fake news’ story was.

And today there have been two terrorism-related incidents in the Iranian capital: a shootout at the Parliament building and a suicide bombing at the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the revolution, with seventeen now dead. ISIS has claimed it, but the Iranian military is pointing the finger at the Saudis, who threatened them with just such an attack a month ago. Ooops. And in response, in a sinister and vaguely repulsive tweet the White House is blaming Iran as a ‘sponsor of terrorism’ for the attack on its own soil, at one of its most sacred shrines. Ooops.

Something is on the move, guys. Tectonic plates shifting. But what this whole murky affair reinforces is The Pumpkin’s thesis that Western nations are totally out of their depth in the labyrinthine religious, tribal and political twists and turns, the power-plays of this intensely fractured region.

Get the hell out, is our advice. We should surely have learned our lesson after 800 years of this.

But the arms industry won’t let you.

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I’d like you all now to watch this interview and you will learn how Trump is drawing us into war:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lh16ZF1eWbc

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While we’re linking to interesting and educational stuff, here’s a cogent demolition of our own depressing relationship with Saudi Arabia:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/06/theresa-may-wants-to-talk-about-extremism-lets-start-with-our-ties-with-the-saudis

(Kindly note: Some of our links may no longer be live, if they ever were. Cut-and-paste, me hearties! Cut-and-paste.)

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Live by the Saud, die by the Saud

In case you don’t get the point about Sunnis and Shia, the following report from Press TV news might help:

“International rights groups say Saudi Arabia plans to execute 14 Shia civilians following a “grossly unfair trial” over political protests.

“The rise in death sentences against Saudi Arabian Shia is alarming and suggests that the authorities are using the death penalty to settle scores and crush dissent under the guise of combating ‘terrorism’ and maintaining national security,” said Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson on Tuesday.

“Saudi Arabia carried out 153 executions across the kingdom last year….. Saudi officials execute convicts by sword and then dangle their corpses from a helicopter to make sure the public can see the result of the execution. According to Amnesty, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world.”

Indeed. Higher than Arkansas. Higher even, probably, than ISIS.

 

And when I blow like this, bubbles come out. It’s so great.

When once we practise to deceive

With the election ‘n all, if you’ve not been glued to US cable TV news you might have missed the story.

In 2015, Candidate Trump leapt to the forefront of the so-called ‘birther’ campaign against President Obama, claiming his agents had uncovered earth-shaking evidence that 44’s birth certificate was indeed a forgery. Black Satan had in documented fact been born in Kenya, not as claimed in Hawaii, and was therefore not entitled by birth to be the President.

(The story gained further credibility when the original Hawaii births registrar lady died in a light plane crash.)

After a while some suspicion fell on this theory, as Mr Trump seemed almost as unwilling or unable to actually produce the goods on Obama’s origins as he has been over his tax returns. Nevertheless the story gained traction and was widely believed by the dumbfucks who support Trump come hell or high water.

An interview has however resurfaced from last year, in which Jared Kushner, Trump’s plastic toy son-in-law and now chastened former senior White House advisor and property billionaire debtor, battered and deep-fried in the FBI’s investigations into the Russia links, admitted that it was all made up; Orange Dad had not believed for one moment that Obama was not an American citizen.

He had, said Kushner in so many words (I try to forget the exact quote), explained that: ‘Republicans are so dumb they’ll believe anything’.

And they said Mr Trump was a refreshing change from real politicians.

 

Climate Change: a Basic Primer for Internet Trolls and Leaders of the Free World

“Dimly illuminated internet trolling baboons, on the other hand, fail their exams, push a broom in Walmart, watch Family Guy, live on pizza, which is bad for your brain, and devote their spare time to telling tenured university Professors with 30 years’ seniority that they know nothing about anything.”

 

1 What is scince and why shud we beleeve in it?

It is almost beyond belief that there are still creatures claiming to be sentient human beings going on websites, asking how come if there were ice ages and volcanoes and stuff, global warming must be a conspiracy, right?

Do these dimly illuminated baboons actually have brains? It was scientists, for instance, following a theory, who discovered in the C19th that there have been ice ages due to global warming and cooling – we’re in the middle of one now. And you believe in ice ages, right? You said so!

But it wouldn’t occur to you that scientists today might have thought of that, ice ages, volcanoes, when they point to man-made climate change and warn it’s going too fast?

The fact that there is climate change in the past doesn’t mean there can’t be today and that we’re not responsible! It’s the speed and scale of change that’s important; and the reasons for it, in case it goes so far so fast that it threatens our existence.

2 Okay. Let’s start at the beginning.

To become a scientist, you need to study some science at school, also some math. Then if you get good pass grades you go to college, university, whatever, and spend three years studying science stuff – books and that.

When you graduate Bachelor of Science (BSc) with honours,  an upper second or better yet a first-class degree, you can go on to spend another year converting that to a Master’s degree (MSc) by writing a pretty learned 10,000 words paper about anything that takes your tutor’s fancy.

A good grade at Master’s will then open the way to doing a PhD – Doctor of Philosophy degree. Some people do two, or even three. A really good grade might even get you a research council grant to cover the $25k a year cost of the PhD. That can take up to five years of further study, during which you may do research as an assistant, work in a lab, or teach.

Then you’ll have to get another degree, if you want to teach fulltime – it takes a year; or go into industry, or medicine, where you’ll spend your days performing useful repetitive tasks with test tubes and pipettes, analysing samples. You might even go into astronaut training, or like famed British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, into designing food colourings for ice-cream.

Those are not the scientists necessarily who are telling you about global warming.

If you get to be a university lecturer, you can go on field trips to study things and pursue your passion. That’s the fun part, although it’s not hugely well paid. You might for instance go to the Arctic (North Pole) or the Antarctic (South Pole) to study the rate of melting, and take ice core samples from which you can isolate gas bubbles formed thousands of years in the past, and use special equipment to tell you what they’re made from and how long ago they were frozen in the ice.

Or you can get mud samples from the seabed or, basically, under any mud and see what pollen grains from trees and flowers were there and what stuff was being burned in forest fires, thousands of years in the past, before the sea covered the land; or count ancient tree rings and compare them with the modern day, which will show how fast or slow things grew. From that you can determine how hot or cold it was in the past. It’s called research.

Finally if you survive the intense competition, the ice and the mud, after maybe five more years of studying and teaching and writing papers you’ll be voted-in as a Professor.

Getting a Professorship is pretty competitive and you’ll have to publish a lot of original, experimentally validated research, books even, and videos, that need to get past the editor and the committee on some pretty high-powered scientific journals that have been around for decades if not centuries.

Your colleagues and peers all over the world are then at liberty to chuck all kinds of shit at your research. If none of it sticks, you’ve got a result – maybe even a Nobel prize. Science is not about certainty, it’s about agreeing that you have the best explanation available at the time.

Dimly illuminated internet trolling baboons, on the other hand, fail their exams. They push a broom in Walmart, watch Family Guy, live on pizza, which scientists know is bad for your brain, and devote their spare time to telling tenured university Professors with 30 years’ seniority, research teams and access to state-of-the-art equipment and a Nobel award that they know nothing about anything.

 

3 Why do scientists apparently disagree about global warming?

Because it’s a very complicated subject they are still learning lots about. Learning and arguing is what scientists do, all the time: absolute certainty is for believers. But they don’t disagree by much. It’s a big planet, it can depend on where and how you take measurements and the range of climates is part of a dynamic system, subject to all kinds of influences.

So, please don’t tell me, warming is maybe caused by the sun…. Of course it bloody is, it’s the mechanism for over-heating that scientists are looking at, not the freakin’ sun. Do you imagine they don’t know about the sun? Jesus. And you don’t know what the Maunder minimum is, or a Carrington Event, so shut up, alright?

Climate change has caused civilizations like Babylon and the Maya to collapse before, but never on a global scale. Climate change can happen locally. We’re talking about the overall warming ‘trend’, which looks pretty small but has amplified local effects that can raise the global average over time. And it’s higher than any natural warming explains. Okay?

Global warming has been confirmed, not only by atmospheric physicists – people who study air and what it does – but by scientists from many different disciplines. Climatologists. Meteorologists. Biologists. Geologists. Environmentalists. Ecologists. Chemists. Botanists. Agronomists. Oceanographers. Marine biologists. Economists. Political Scientists. Anthropologists…

And they’re all wrong, right?

Tens of thousands of trained and qualified scientists and experienced researchers with PhDs and Nobel prizes are NOT WRONG just because one or two rogue scientists and crackpot failed politicians and swampy PR men like to pretend climate change is a myth, for whatever reason, money, or ego, financial self-interest or just to be bloody-minded.

To put your faith in a biassed minority view is irrational. The Church did not disbelieve Galileo, they just didn’t want his findings getting out.

But it’s still snowing!

The additional warming is found everywhere, not just in the air. And yes, I know, it snowed last winter where you are – big deal. In Adelaide, Australia while you froze they had many days of record heat, over 45C, and the electricity broke down. You may have noticed, an 82F spike in Washington DC – in February? In Pakistan last Wednesday it got to 53.5C – 128.3F. That’s a world record.

And still scientists are being careful not to say any individual freak weather event is in itself evidence of climate change. Why? Because they are frightened of being bullied by climate-change deniers who control the funding for research? Or because they are responsible, cautious people who know how difficult it can be to finally prove something so complicated?

It took a long time to confirm the warming because it was happening slowly and at different rates in different parts of the world, with different effects. (Climate is not the same as weather. Weather is the product of climate.) Most of the additional heat has been absorbed by the ocean that covers 7/10ths of the planet, but that’s rapidly changing too.

Now everyone – everyone that is other than cranks, liars, dimwitted teenagers, Lord Monckton and the many other people paid by the coal, oil and gas industries to post deliberately confusing messages – fake news – on websites, accepts that it is not only happening, it is speeding up – and it is dangerous.

Myths abound: there was no ‘slowdown’ of warming in the 1990s-2000s. It’s not true; a product of selective interpretation of the data. Ice cover at the Arctic and Antarctic is not increasing, it is rapidly shrinking – and getting thinner. In Glacier Park, Washington/British Columbia States, only 26 out of 150 historic glaciers remain. That one’s true.

And you need to know that even the oil, gas and coal industries know perfectly well that the earth is heating up, thanks to our dependence on them. A US scientist, James Hansen worked out the rate of warming in the 1970s, the energy industry began conducting its own research and confirmed there was a potentially serious problem. The Shell documentary film unit made a highly accurate prediction of precisely the effects we are experiencing now, back in 1991. It’s on YouTube, I suggest you watch it (it’s in color, Donny).

But surely it’s a conspiracy to get more tax money? A Chinese hoax?

What, a conspiracy involving tens of thousands of people from all over the world, all under the influence of China? A conspiracy that had to have begun back in 1889 when a Swedish chemist, Svante Arrhenius first discovered that carbon dioxide, a chemical element that makes up a small part of the air you breathe, that’s given off whenever you burn stuff, retains heat in the atmosphere?

A conspiracy that has apparently not yet been unmasked by the heads of 190 governments around the world (who normally like to disagree about everything) and their thousands of advisors, who in 2015 finally got so scared they all signed up to the first ever global agreement to try to limit emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the Paris Accord? Because they’ve all been convinced we’re putting out too much, but according to you it’s a conspiracy?

‘Don’t do stupid. Don’t be stupid.’ It’s a good motto for living.

That’s the treaty everyone else signed in Paris and ratified in Mmorocco a year later, but which President Trump is now abandoning because some people in his government told him Jesus will save us from climate change, that he doesn’t anyway want to believe is happening. He promised his dumbfuck supporters more jobs (although combating global warming is a good job, hewing coal all day, half a mile underground in the dark maybe less so), he lied bigly about coal being ‘clean energy’, of course it isn’t – and he’s pissed at the Europeans for laughing at him because he’s so ignorant, childish and incompetent.

That clever a conspiracy, huh? What, like Christianity you mean?

 

4 Let’s try logic.

You run a bath, both get in. You piss in the water. At first not much happens, but after a while you keep pissing, the water turns yellow and smells of piss. Not nice. Your friend wants to get out, right? You try diluting the piss by adding water, but the bath is already full. There is no room for more water. The water you have is disgusting. Bathnight is ruined.

Or look at it another way: the supply of air we have is limited, fixed – and is not enough to absorb all the vast amounts of gassy crap we’ve been pumping into it faster and faster for 150 years. Overload is having an effect. Elementary logic tells you, it must have an effect. There is nothing else it can be doing in a closed system into which we are adding gassy crap at the rate of millions of tons a day.

For a long time the land, the sea and the air – known as the three ‘carbon sinks’ – absorbed the crap. Plants breathe carbon dioxide in and breathe oxygen out, right? Up to a point. Now they can’t anymore. The air is getting sick; the sea is dying. Plants will soon have had enough. When they die they give back the carbon dioxide they took in, and then we all die. Everyone. Everything. Look at Mars, something like this happened on Mars.

And if you think about it some more, it really doesn’t matter if the crap we’re being poisoned by is our own crap or if it comes from Mars, plankton-brain. We’re still being poisoned by it, and if we pump out less crap of our own it may not get so bad so soon.

That’s logic, isn’t it? I mean, you can’t take the piss out of the bathwater, right?

But you can stop pissing.

There are getting on for eight billion people in the world, and billions of other animals. More people now than have lived at any time, ever.

We’re the only ones that know we’re about to go extinct. But we’re so addicted to burning fossil fuels, charging our iPhones and gorging ourselves on vast quantities of meat from animals that fart out billions of tons of methane: cows, sheep. Farm animals are responsible for maybe half the warming we’re experiencing. Humans too – we’re responsible for about 8% of the additional CO2 burden as we each breathe out 1kg of CO2 a day.

We feed cattle on grain crops that are hugely wasteful and expensive to produce from failing soils addicted to artificial oil-based fertilizers, that we could be eating ourselves; plants that don’t produce anything but carbohydrates, good oxygen and useful straw, overloading our hearts with meat protein and dairy fats.

We’re in total denial of what we’re doing to ourselves and every other living thing on this planet.

Only, the scientists aren’t in denial, I’m not either; it’s just you. Silly, underqualified old you. And in fact it looks like scientists are under-stating the speed and scale of the problem, deliberately, because the ones who tell the truth lose their jobs the quickest. That’s Darwinism for you. Politicians and the wealthy people who fund universities don’t want to admit how bad it is.

Later on I will explain what is about to happen to you.

 

5 But let’s take a breather and find out about air.

Air is a supposedly colourless, odourless mix of elements: nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, in that order, and some other small amounts of gases – sulphur dioxide, methane and some non-reactive gases like argon and neon in very small amounts. There’s a natural cycle in the land, the sea and the sky that produced the air and maintains it like it is, in a mix we can all breathe. It’s why we’re all here. But it can only maintain the composition, it can’t increase the quantity. We’re stuck with the amount we’ve got.

And we’re breaking that cycle right now because we are the only inhabitants of the planet we know ever to dig up and burn millions of years-old fossil fuels: oil, gas and coal. And burn it in enormous quantities, producing dangerous by-products like carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and methane (CH4). Water vapor, too, is a greenhouse gas, trapping the heat from sunlight close to the earth. Vast amounts of water enter the atmosphere from industry, from airplane con-trails – and as the planet heats up, evaporating from the sea. All these extra additives in the atmosphere are causing it to heat up by trapping sunlight.

Fossil fuel is stored energy from sunlight. Processes in plants and plant-like organisms in the sea and in algae ‘eat’ sunlight, turning it into food energy (carbo-hydrate) for themselves while they live. They store surplus energy, which they give off when they die. If they are buried underground or under the sea, they can’t give off carbon and so it is stored, for millions of years, in the earth – until we dig it up and set fire to it. Then it gives off gassy compounds like carbon dioxide and the rest, which we know store the heat from sunlight while they persist in the atmosphere.

Just running your car produces nearly five tons of carbon dioxide in a year. There are over a billion cars in the world, so that’s five billion tons of a poisonous, heat absorbing gas we’re putting out right there, from that one source, and it stays in the atmosphere for 100 years. (A billion is a thousand million.)

The atmosphere is only 18 km thick, and above about 3km it doesn’t have enough oxygen for us to survive, which is why mountain-climbers and airplanes carry oxygen. So there’s not a lot of breatheable air in the world. We can only use a fraction of the atmosphere – we need it to live – and we can’t make any more.

For millions of years the balance of the air was perfect to sustain life in the forms we know it now but we’re changing it. Yes, there were ice ages – that didn’t mean other parts of the world weren’t warm. And ice is water, it’s not poisonous. There have also been warmer periods. But the warmer period we are experiencing now is a hundred times faster than anything we know about before – we have a pretty good idea how hot the world has been for the last 200 million years, and it’s already as hot as it’s ever been during that time, and getting hotter.

Plant, insect and animal species are disappearing faster than at any time since the so-called Permian extinction, 250 million years ago, when a possible rapid global warming event killed 95% of all life on earth – partly due to human pressure on habitat, but partly also due to warming.

Yes there are volcanoes. They throw up all kinds of poisonous, heat-retaining gases but in millions of years all of the volcanoes in the world didn’t make much difference because the planet has a natural system for maintaining the balance of gases in the air. It may not be able to cope with what we are doing to the air and the sea now. All the agricultural burnoff in the Iron Age made a little but not much difference. The widespread loss of forest cover nowadays especially in the tropics due to commercial logging, soya and palm oil growing and the warming and acidification of the oceans are certainly not helping.

 

6 The fossil fuel business

About 250 years ago, we started digging up and burning coal; lots of coal, which is carbon, basically compressed dead trees from millions of years ago, to make steam to power steam engines and to heat our homes. The people who owned the land where coal mines were dug made huge fortunes from this revolutionary fuel source, that was much hotter and more economical to burn than living wood, the primary fuel source (and water) for hundreds, a few thousands, of years.

Then about 150 years ago we started burning oil, which is made from tiny compressed dead sea creatures, the carbon locked in their shells, from seas that were there millions of years ago. (Yes, I’m afraid the Earth is more than six thousand years old… I know, it comes as a shock.) With the advent of public utilities and the motor car, wildcatters in the USA and then all over the world, especially in the Middle East, made huge fortunes from people burning oil – and continue to do so.

It’s estimated that sales of the remaining accessible stocks of oil in the ground would be worth over $25 trillion to the oil companies, which explains why they are keen for us to carry on using oil.

Since 1980, world oil consumption has gone from 60 million to nearer 100 million barrels a day. ‘A carbon-based fuel will emit 3.15 times its own weight in CO2 when burnt’ (Quiet Road/Jim Bliss website); one barrel of oil will therefore produce 317 kg of CO2. So just burning oil alone adds over 3 million metric tonnes of CO2 to the air we breathe, every day of the year. And then there’s coal, gas and wood (biomass), and other natural processes that produce CO2 – and other carbonaceous greenhouse gases, like methane.

Can you not see that burning fossil fuels – ‘yesterday’s sunlight’ – in a closed system is bound to cause a problem? If you can’t see it, I suggest you go in the garage, close the doors and switch on your car engine. You’ll be dead inside twenty minutes.

They say there are not many famous people from Belgium! One who did more to change the world than almost anyone was Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir. In 1859 he invented the internal combustion engine, that drives cars and airplanes and generators, and runs on gasoline refined from crude oil.

Scientists went on to discover that we could make lots of other things from oil: industrial chemicals, brightly coloured dyes, medicines, clothing, agricultural fertilizers. Plastics made from oil revolutionized manufacturing industry and ushered in the modern consumer era. Capitalists who owned the means of production and employed cheap labour made billions of dollars from fractionating oil to create many different products they could sell.

And also in the 1890s we started using electricity, power you can send down a wire to city streets, factories and homes, made by driving generators using coal, natural gas (methane) and oil as sources of energy. Demand for electricity requires burning more and more fossil fuel, although we are increasingly turning to other sources: wind, sun and nuclear energy, to generate electricity.

So since we started burning coal, gas and oil in huge quantities to power our civilization, we’ve been pumping massive amounts of these ‘greenhouse gases’, all derived from stored carbon from many millions of years-old sunlight, and so-called because they absorb heat from the sun, pissing into our small reservoir, or bathtub, of air.

And then, there are billions and billions of tons of plant matter and dead sea creatures lying around, that haven’t had time to become compressed to become oil or coal, and as they rot down they give off a gas you’ll know from smelling your own farts, methane.

Methane is also a greenhouse gas, many times more able to retain heat than CO2.

“The severe heatwave sweeping Australia has caused blackouts in Adelaide and forced 40,000 people to swelter through 42 degree heat without air conditioning.

“Overwhelming demand for electricity forced South Australian Power Networks to start ‘load shedding’ in order to conserve power, plunging parts of the state into darkness shortly before 7pm on Wednesday.

“Meanwhile, Sydney will again be battered by the heat following two days of torrential rain. (Mail Online, Feb 2017)

7 What in the world is happening?

There’s billions and billions of tons of methane (CH4 – the fat red nucleus is carbon, the blue blobs hydrogen) trapped underground and under the sea, thanks to the last of those ice ages (technically we’re still in that ice age) thawing and raising the sea level to cover the land; particularly around the Arctic circle, which is now warming at ten times the rate at the equator.

As the ice melts and the permanently frozen land in the far north of Russia, Canada, Alaska (permafrost) melts, huge farts of methane are being detected. Methane, an isotope of carbon, absorbs more heat than carbon dioxide, while the disappearing ice means less sunlight is reflected back into space, so the Arctic where there’s a lot of methane heating up very fast.

The Antarctic (South Pole) was heating more slowly, as there is less land in the southern oceans with dead plant matter to produce methane; however it is speeding up now. And as the polar oceans warm, it evens out the temperature difference, the ‘gradient’ between the colder regions and the warmer oceans.

Blowing around the sub-Arctic and Antarctic latitudes at up to 200 miles per hour is a high-altitude wind called the jet-stream, that affects the weather. It plays an important part in keeping the air mass of the latitudes separate: nearer the poles cold, nearer the equator warm.

But as the temperature gradient of the oceans evens out, the jet-stream becomes weaker. It starts to lose speed and meanders around in great loops – which explains why you might have had such a cold winter last year, as a polar ‘vortex’ – a mass of cold air – escaped into the American midwest, and another into Central Europe; when, where I live on the west coast of Britain, it was mild all winter and we had fewer storms than normal – and spring (bud-burst on shrubs and trees, visible plant growth, flowering of spring bulbs, arrival of migratory birds, etc.) arrived three weeks earlier than usual.

In China, though, the weakening of the jet-stream created a mass of still air that allowed pollution from cities and factories to blanket a huge area with choking chemical smog, bigger than France, that people had to live with for weeks. There was not enough energy in the weather system to clear the air.

And at the North Pole, where it is normally 35C below freezing, the temperature in early March was 0.1C ABOVE freezing, the Arctic sea was 4C above normal in places and the winter ice could not form. Areas of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans were reported to be up to 9C above normal.

This confusion is exactly what was predicted by Prof Hansen all those years ago, and by many scientists since.

As the air temperature rises, it takes up more water vapor, so we can expect heavier rainfall; as indeed we are seeing now, with several ‘once-in-100-years’ floods ongoing, lives and crops ruined.

Increasing sea temperatures add energy to weather systems, so hurricanes/typhoons and tornadoes are getting bigger, more frequent, more powerful. Larger areas of the globe are being affected by drought for longer periods, turning to desert or burning with wildfires that are in turn adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Millions in Africa are, literally, threatened with starvation today, now – not in some distant future. Capetown is running out of water.

There is a real concern that if these trends continue, we in the West will not be able to feed ourselves. There was a small demonstration of this last winter when European supermarkets ran out of salad vegetables owing to severe flooding in the part of Spain where winter salad is grown. Prices trebled.

And the increasing burden of extreme climate on human civilization in parts of the world is already worsening conflicts over resources, especially water; creating a refugee crisis, that is likely only to get worse as people flee towards areas like yours, where life is still sustainable. Other species are moving northwards and southwards, away from the infernal heat at the equator; plants, animals – diseases.

Are you going to blame them? So-called Western civilization has created this problem; it’s not the fault of people in the developing world, they’re not the biggest polluters, we are.

Carbon dioxide mixing with sea water makes carbonic acid, that is killing the flora at the ocean surface that make oxygen for the planet: already we are seeing a reduction in the amount of oxygen in the air. Coral reefs, too, are dying: they’re the habitat for many of the creatures at the base of the food chain in the sea. Soon there could be no fish.

Data from ice and mud cores and tree rings give us clues to the climate at the start of the industrial revolution, 250 years ago. We know then that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air was around 280 parts per million (ppm), which persisted into the 1900s, when we started burning oil. After that the average annual global temperature begins to increase, now by about 1.3 deg. C., and the rate of increase is also increasing.

Just last month the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, where the measurements are taken because the air is pure, recorded an average concentration of CO2 over time of 410 ppm. Not so pure, then.

Doubling of the carbon dioxide load would, it’s calculated, produce between 1.5 and 5 degrees of warming. It’s doubtful life on earth can survive 5 degrees, the hottest the planet will have been for 200 million years. In parts of west Africa and central Asia, where there have been hundreds of wildfires mainly caused by crop burning, a NASA satellite in March recorded levels of 567 and 605 ppm, as well as lethal concentrations of methane, sulphur dioxide and other poisonous gases.

Each year that passes grows warmer than the last. 2016 was the warmest year globally on record – I know, it snowed where you are. It snowed in Saudi Arabia last winter too, but it was nice here. Warmer than 2015, the second warmest year on record. Warmer than 2014, the third warmest, when my town was hit six times in the winter by severe storms, winds gusting to 100 mph… According to Prof Guy McPherson, late of Arizona University (he was fired for being too pessimistic about the prospects for abrupt climate change) there has been a steady increase of temperature month on month. No one month has been colder than the previous month, as a global average, since 1990.

No, the rate of warming has not slowed down.

This is man-made. It is happening now. It is what we are doing to the planet, to ourselves and other species that also have a right to be here. It is no longer deniable. If I were dictator of the world, I would make climate-change denial a crime; just as Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany and Austria. I would lock Donald Trump up, and the rest of his climate-change denying liars in the Republican Party.

I would lock you up.

 

8 Get off the Internet

As the permanently frozen areas (‘permafrost’) around the Arctic sea known as the Tundra thaw, more methane is given off. The ground that has been frozen for thousands of years since the ice retreated is growing spongy and can no longer support buildings, roads, power lines. There are videos on YouTube where you can watch them falling down.

And there are videos showing mysterious bulges in the ground, and previously unexplained holes opening up all over the Arctic tundra, many metres across and many metres deep, that we now know are cause by huge eruptions of pockets of underground methane.

The sea off the coast of Siberia is shallow, averaging only 50 metres deep. It is an area of 2 million sq km of permafrozen tundra that was flooded when the sea level rose at the end of the last ice age.

The sea bed remained frozen; but as the surface covering of ice has disappeared and is no longer reflecting the sun’s energy back into space the water is warming the sea bed faster than in the deeper oceans elsewhere. Russian scientists worry that a sudden, massive eruption of billions of tons of methane trapped beneath could trigger abrupt, runaway warming, leading to a possible six degrees rise in global temperature within only months. And it could happen at any time in the next few years.

And that’s the fear: that the gradual warming of the world is already setting-off  ‘feedback loops’ as they’re called, that could destabilize the whole system and lead to abrupt, runaway warming which we would not be ready to survive.

So, little troll, Mr Trump – you have been told. You have been warned.

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“…it’s a zero-sum game and we’ve already lost it.”

I’m Leaving, on a jet plane

My big fear following the Trump Paris accord meltdown, which had nothing much to do with climate change and everything to do with a President who is four years old and unable to connect with his outer adult or any factual databases, is that Britain is now left high and dry, with nowhere to go in the world to find friends.

The slightly slow Mrs May rushed in January to rope us to the sinking hulk of an America that just lost its last shred of credibility on the world stage. The abandonment of the Paris accord is Putin’s victory and Trump’s loss.

May is pursuing a ‘hard Brexit’ just to look tough, to out-UKIP the UKIP tendency; but as the Observer piece below shows, it’s a zero-sum game and we’ve already lost it.

Merkel has made it clear Europe is no longer our friend either, as they cannot trust us – a devastating condemnation of where the Tories have left us in the past year. Apart from the ‘many values’ we all obviously share with Rodrigo Duterte, we’re out on our own and it’s a foreign policy disaster as bad as anything since Munich.

And our foreign policy ‘leader’ is a vain, puffling, self-promoting buffoon who likes to go around annoying foreigners by reminding them of how Britain used to rule the world.

If you haven’t read this piece by veteran economics journalist Will Hutton, read it. Remainers will nod sagely and crack a bottle or two before swallowing the pills. Leavers will moan piteously, oh why can’t the Remainers just be more like us and we can all hold hands and skip over the edge of the White Cliffs of Dover together?

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/03/britain-being-led-to-epic-act-self-harm-brexit

It’s bad.

No, really.

 

For Auld Lang Syne

I might make a habit of quoting selected passages from some of my earlier Posts.

Especially where I have been particularly prophetic, as in ‘quoting’ Jeremy Corbyn on the Manchester bomb attack two days before he actually spoke the words.

Or lyrical.

Came across this just now (June 15, 2016):

Were I, or anyone, able to somehow get hold of a cosmic vacuum-pump and suck out all the uneventful, blank bits of our lives: the longueurs, the ennuies, the do-nothing times, the frustrating going-nowhere periods, the thousand-and-one nights when you were asleep on your own, not even dreaming; the terrible, dreary office jobs, the driving to Norwich and back, the stuck-at-home marriages, the slow piling-up of rejection letters and unread bank statements; all the boring things you ever did or said; dreary hours of sitting politely in waiting rooms, not leaving the theatre in the interval of a stinker, queuing at the Post Office, doing the washing-up, fidgeting through trite sermons and Greek lessons, the agonising disability of piano practice – like evacuating all the air from a Bell jar in class; and heat the rest up over a Bunsen burner, how much of a brown powdery residue of achievements and adventures and excitements would be left in the bottom of the tube?

The answer, I’m afraid, was not a lot!

But in the same Post I was able to point out with what has turned out to be unerring accuracy, to judge by Comment is Free pieces now appearing from distinguished economists on The Guardian website, the probable effect of denying access to the UK jobs market of workers from the EU; and to urge people to vote Remain.

It’s the only reason, to be honest, that I feel bad about not taking the necessary actions to attract at least a quarter of a million Followers, out of shyness and a desire for privacy.

The two Followers I still have didn’t need persuading.

The Pumpkin – Issue 19: ‘Slumdog Billionaires’; The Only Way Is Ethics.

 

“For some reason I don’t seem able to breathe?”

I’m sorry, but your President is a racist hypocrite

A few days ago, two American men, one an army veteran, who stepped in to try to stop a white supremacist dogturd yelling abuse on a Portland, Oregon train while waving a knife at two terrified young muslim girls, were stabbed to death.

In the dock the gross-looking, unrepentant, arrogant little piece of trailer-trash shouted Trump-like slogans about ‘America First!’ – apparently unaware of the fact that he’d just butchered two fellow white Americans.

‘America First!’ is of course the English for ‘Allahu akbar!’

From the White House there was only silence until, three days later, in face of a growing public campaign to get the President to at least say something appropriately condemnatory, if only to express some sympathy with the dead men’s families, the orange fatarse tweeted that the killings were ‘unacceptable’.

While his official Twitter feed, that he doesn’t write, grudgingly admitted that ‘the victims were standing up to hate and intolerance’, the following day the President of the United States of America posted this on his personal feed:

“The Fake News Media works hard at disparaging & demeaning my use of social media because they don’t want America to hear the real story!”

This is an intolerable situation for any American, to have elected as President a self-serving Philistine with arrested development and zero affect, a grossly spoiled, solipsistic child-man who is more concerned about his personal fucking reputation than about the lives of the more decent of his citizens, or even the fate of his country, now branded around the world thanks to him as a pariah state.

As if to rub in the point, within minutes of the latest outrage in London, in which eight bystanders and three perpetrators were killed on Saturday night, and many more injured, in a car-and-knife rampage on London Bridge, this treacherous racist pig was on the phone to Prime Minister May, hypocritically offering any help and support the US could give.

He knows, we feel certain, that it was British intelligence that alerted the National Security Administration in 2015 to the suspicious activities of his wrecking-crew on the campaign staff and their many contacts with Russian spies and money-laundering oligarchs. We feel sure therefore that the phone call was intended merely to suggest that we could still be friends, despite the scornful attitude of the EU and the rest of the world.

To add insult to injury – this outrage on our streets is none of his fucking business but he seems determined to make political capital – he has since launched an astonishing attack on the muslim mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. The Guardian reports:

“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack,” the president wrote on his personal Twitter account, “and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!”

“The mayor, Sadiq Khan, did not use the phrase “no reason to be alarmed” in a statement overnight or when he spoke in a television interview earlier on Sunday.” – The Guardian

So, more shameless inventions squirting from the President’s lying Twitter feed. When will he be imprisoned? He would be an embarrassment if he weren’t so incredibly unpleasant.

What Khan actually said was:

“This was a deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners and visitors to our city enjoying their Saturday night,” he said. “I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. There is no justification whatsoever for such barbaric acts.” (Ibid.)

No longer trusted by the European allies, like the school bully toadying up to any kid who isn’t already his victim, desperate for validation, America and Brexiting Britain now need one another more than ever.

For Trump, those two American heroes were just a pair of losers. As far as he is concerned the only evil terrorism is Islamic evil terrorism, which he proposes to continue bombing into submission, at whatever cost to the rest of us, because he sucked up the Bush line about the ‘war on terror’ and he liked the sound of that.

He will make what propaganda he will out of terrorist attacks abroad – Islamic resistance that his own foreign policy is clearly exacerbating – while remaining sanguine about the vile tide of white racism he has unleashed in America.

That pleases his loyal band of dumbfucks, who are just now waking up to the news that he’s put their taxes up and slashed their healthcare to enrich his billionaire friends and funders, and swamped his administration with Wall Street insiders and fossil lobbyists; but who don’t seem to mind.

We are reminded that two weeks from today will mark the anniversary of the horrific murder on a Yorkshire street of the rights campaigner and pro-Remain MP, mother-of-two Jo Cox by Thomas Mair, a deluded ‘Britain First!’ loner with ties to a neo-Nazi group in South Africa.

A murder celebrated at the time on ‘social’ media by many of Donald J Trump’s extremist supporters with howls of delight.

Evil. Sick. Demented slime-dwelling creatures with a grossly overinflated sense of their importance, granted to them by the capitalist illusion of unregulated ‘social media’.

Unacceptable.

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Slumdog Billionaires

Amid the global contumely and condemnation both abroad and at home of Mister Trump’s singular repudiation (against the best advice available) of the Paris accord, as now doth America, so stands he sadly alone.

And that’s just where he seems happiest, bathed in the refulgence of his own self-pitying solipsism.

Poor Donny, nobody loves you now.

Except he’s not really alone, despite not being able to recruit staff to replace the ones he’s already fired because he doesn’t trust them. I mean, would you?

For Steve Bannon is back in the shadows, having thrown Mister Trump’s politically inexperienced son-in-law, plastic boy Mister Kushner, 36, a successful millionaire property developer (as the supine and compliant wankers at BBC News keep calling the billion-dollar bankrupt), under the giant crunching wheels of the FBI juggernaut last week with a well-aimed leak to the New York Times about his undeclared meetings with Russian officials.

We could possibly swallow the line about opening a back-channel to Moscow, were it not for two clues that it might not be true.

One, he lied about it; or rather, failed on oath to tell the truth. Why? If opening back-channels with known spies when front-channels aren’t working is a good thing for foreign relations, why not say so? But why not wait until Trump was inaugurated before playing footsie with the enemy? And why did other members of the transition teams – Flynn, Sessions, lie more than once about their meetings with Russians?

And two, what on earth was Kushner then doing, having meetings with Sergei Gorkov – the head of VneshEconomBank, or VEB, a Putin crony heading a known FSB intelligence service slush-fund operation, who has no diplomatic credentials whatever?

Add to that, Kushner was not an accredited government official with a security clearance at the time of the meetings, and was thus not legally in a position to hold unofficial meetings with Russian diplomats. It’s illegal under the Logan Act for an ordinary citizen to treat with a foreign power; which possibly explains why he wouldn’t own up to it as it made him an unregistered foreign agent.

Just as had been General Flynn, now thought to be pouring what remains of his heart out to the FBI; Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, all under the spotlight now but all sometime Trump appointees to the campaign team. Not to mention poor Nigel Farage, whose overweening vanity appears to have landed him in the compromising rats’ nest of slumdog billionaires surrounding Orange Satan.

Let’s be charitable. Let’s say, Mister Trump was innocently ‘cucked’ by a conspiracy of Russian agents. His known past associations with New York and Russian mafia figures seem to have been based merely on a mission to do business and to win, whatever it takes; rather than on any desire to personally run drugs or pimp trafficked women. In the mafia, loyalty to the family is everything. Trump is loyal to no-one but his great big beautiful self.

Nevertheless he seems to have a history of courting shady characters while assiduously avoiding criminal proceedings. He perhaps sees criminal types usefully as ‘winners’ rather than ‘losers’, because they have money to flash around and a total disregard for the norms and conventions of society, which he sees as a conspiracy of the losers.

It’s possible, is it not, that he was willing to work with, to turn a blind eye to, a nasty little cabal of traitors, sanctions-busters, money-launderers, PR sloths and verminous oil-industry lowlifes willing to go-between where you and I wouldn’t, because he saw only the advantages for his campaign of playing dirty.

The downside – life imprisonment for treason, possibly – never crossed his greedy old mind, other than as a Freudian transference of his own culpability onto his political opponent, ‘Crooked Hillary’.

It’s an old mind that appears to be failing, to judge by some of his TV appearances. I especially recommend the one where, in the middle of a meeting with Kushner’s mentor, Israeli hardman Binyamin Netanyahu, the Donald just stands up looking confused, brushes away a handshake opportunity and stumbles off the stage as if he has no idea where he is, leaving Bibi clearly puzzled and annoyed. It’s not the first time he has gone wandering off like that.

But his spoiled infantilism, his apparent auto-immunity from responsibility, his notorious Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder that means briefings have to be presented to him in short comic-strip form, the overbearing narcissism that means to retain his interest those briefings have to include frequent mentions (in a positive light) of his own name, praising him for his wisdom and maturity; those abusive meltdowns when he feels he is the only person he can trust to do things properly, or when he’s no longer the centre of attention – Entrepreneur Syndrome – a burning desire to please his authoritarian father – those are the attributes that leave him intensely vulnerable to the Iago of the Oval Office, Stephen K Bannon.

The Pumpkin feels that Trump – sorry, Mister Trump – is in fact in the grip of two separate but conjoined conspiracies; we have previously shown they are linked by money and religion. There is the Russia thing, where it still has not been shown that he is not financially compromised by private bankers, as many people seem to suspect, or worse; and then there is the alt-right nationalist, fundamentalist Christian Breitbart News connection, fronted by Bannon and backed by the Mercers, Robert and daughter Rebekah.

Did Mercer weaponize the Russian-hacked Hillary intel through his Cambridge Analytica company to fix the election of his boy Donald? Just askin’.

Anyway, so, whatever, back to Kushner – sorry, Mister Kushner – and his dealings with the Russians. You see, lots of cable TV news anchors are putting two and two together, and leaping to the unlikely conclusion that the meetings with Ambassador Kislyak were to get a deal whereby Orange Dad would lift Obama’s sanctions and restore the two Russian embassy ‘holiday compounds’ in New York State and Maryland that Obama shut down because of the Trump campaign’s close Russia connections, to which he had been alerted by foreign intelligence services in 2015.

Was that in exchange for a bailout from the VEB’s Gorkov to cover the Kush’s huge losses in the property market? Essentially putting the son-who-also-rises in the same bad applecart as Orange Dad? As in “We don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.” – Eric (Little Nazi) Trump.

It is obviously much too fanciful to speculate that the whole thing might have been Vladimir’s idea. ‘Don’t worry about the $1 billion Steve Bannon accidentally told the Fake News press via his back-channels that you owe twenty banks, plastic tovarich, don’t bother getting it from Soros, he’s not happy with you anymore. We’ll consolidate the loan in exchange for a few simple concessions, like you let us have the cozy rats’ nests back that the nasty black man took away; and if you take off those silly financial sanctions too we’ll let Tex Tillexxon drill the fuck out of the Arctic, now you’ve melted it for us.

How’s that for improving relations?

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The only way isn’t Ethics

Yes, sorry.

While all this may or may not have been deniably going on, Mr Trump back from holiday abusing the EU and NATO ‘allies’ has rediscovered what his right hand is for and signed into Executive purgatory pending congressional rubber-stamping a number of useful new measures we in Britain probably aren’t going to hear about on the credulous BBC news, courtesy of our man in Washington, John Sopoor.

For instance, Congress purportedly has oversight of what used to be known as ‘ethics’ in government. You know, anti-corruption, influence peddling, nepotism, illegal acceptance of foreign emoluments, peddling of US immigration visas, obstruction of justice sort of things.

Among the latest edicts to emanate from the Oval Office has been the suspension of ethical oversight for President Bannon and 16 other members of the cabinet.

All these Trumpointees were in the anomalous position of having worked until recently as paid lobbyists, or as persons with clear conflicts of interest, having previously worked in private-sector companies and now finding themselves in positions of authority over branches of the government responsible for matters pertaining to their previous employments, as it were.

Those conflicts of interest were just about mitigated by a two-year separation rule. Now, the New Swamp has been granted immunity from ethical oversight, to enable them to more quickly and efficiently carry out their mission of destroying the administration and unpicking the regulatory environment, especially where good governance conflicts with the interests of their billionaire backers.

It’s all more businesslike, you see.

And as we recall, Mr Trump has never quite understood the role of an Opposition party in the two houses of Congress. Obama was a Democratic Party choice, so obviously the President hates Democrats, especially more popular ones; as they don’t have a majority in either house, which makes them poor losers.

But when it came to getting things like the wonderful healthcare bill through, the Democrats were just a complete nuisance, weren’t they, opposing everything he is trying to do to make America great again?

Donny’s not sure he can abolish Democrats entirely, but he can make certain of one thing. They won’t be interfering in this tiresome, Fake News thing about Russia and the FBI. Why, he’s never had any dealings with Russia, except the ones he has had.

His latest diktat therefore seeks to prevent any Democratic party politicians, such as the Ranking member, Senator Warner of the Intelligence committee, that is due to hear more possibly damning testimony from that bastard Comey on Monday, from requesting information from the FBI without first getting permission from the Republican chair of the committee, Senator Burr.

Because he doesn’t have power to order the Democrats around, he’s using his position as Chief Executive and therefore head of the security services (bypassing General Kelly, the head of Homeland Security) to tell the FBI instead that they are under no circumstances to co-operate with Democratic representatives and senators investigating his connections with Russian intelligence, unless authorised so to do, effectively by him.

To what lengths, one wonders, does Trump have to go in the obstruction of justice to earn himself an indictment on grounds of a federal crime? Well, it seems his new Italian lawyer buddy has told him, the Prez is immune to prosecution for pretty much anything unless and until he’s been impeached and removed from office for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’.

Anyway, it’s now being reported that he is weighing-up with his lawyers the possibility of using executive privilege to prevent Comey from testifying. How incriminating would that be? In the words of the repellent former Exxon contractor and current Trump energy adviser Myron Ebell, on hearing of opposition to the withdrawal from the Paris accord, ‘Who cares?’

So he seems like Nixon to be at liberty for now to go on trying to impede or make go away the many lines of investigation into himself and his cronies; but he is surely stacking up a mountain of trouble if the House Republicans eventually understand they’re going to be the biggest losers in history in 2018 if they don’t Dump Trump and find someone more capable and less disaster-prone – although for the GOP that’s going to be a stretch.

They’re almost all straw men, fossil-fuel shills and fundamentalist cretins who couldn’t find anybody better than the ineffective and appalling Trump the last time. Ted Cruz? Rick Santmoron? Mike Pence? Please God, not the spaniel-eyed nodding-dog Paul Ryan? while no-one in their right mind would want to follow Trump into the White House, with all the media attention and odious comparisons that would create; and with Trump’s paludine appointees still in place.

No, the genie is out of the bottle, the evils out of Pandora’s box, the system broken. President of the United States is just not a viable employment any longer for any normal, sane human being, which is why you have Trump now. Get rid of him, and get rid of the office. You don’t need ’em.

Free yourselves from institutionalized tyranny, is our advice.

Postscriptum

The Pumpkin has just been watching Mike Nichols’ clever movie of Joseph Heller’s bleakly comic novel, Catch 22, again.

He’d forgotten how like the young Donald Trump is the character of Milo Minderbinder, the heartless entrepreneur who swaps the aircrews’ parachutes for a consignment of cotton-wool balls he coats in chocolate to sell as cakes. Later on, he persuades another US squadron to bomb his own base so he can collect the insurance on the cotton-wool balls he can’t shift.

Of course, such things could never happen in real life.

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I love Paris in the Springfall

“…the target for restricting warming to 1.5 degrees C is already tragically out of date.”

The Pumpkin went slightly overboard on Wednesday night, trolling several Trump supporters in base language over the Paris thing. He blames an incipient 24-hour virus and a bottle of inexpensive Merlot.

In fact it seems unlikely that serious environmental damage will be done as a direct result of abrogating the treaty. It’s more a matter of the global shame and embarrassment most Americans were feeling the next day, the loss of leadership, knowing that everyone now thinks they’re a bunch of uneducated, small-minded ecocidal maniacs who want to withdraw from the world behind a big wall and overthrow the postwar applecart, playing right into Mister Putin’s relatively large hands for such a small man.

There are two reasons why abandoning the accord will make little difference.

One is that the target for restricting warming to 1.5 degrees C is already tragically out of date. The Paris accord is a feelgood declaration, something for the nations of the world (except only Syria, Nicaragua and the USA) to come together over, but it’s far too little and too late to stop a life-denying six degree rise occurring before 2030.

But the second is more encouraging. Many US State governors and big-city mayors have come out in force to tell the deluded President he’s wrong and they’re going to go on aiming for carbon reductions whatever Bannon, the religiose fuckwits and fossil-fuel shills in the White House and in Congress are saying, and have recommitted to the Clean Energy policy of the Obama administration, which was actually working.

After all, they’re the ones who are having to mop up the floods and beat out the wildfires, find the water for agriculture, hold back the sea and reconstruct the tornado-smashed suburbs and trailer parks, that are costing the nation $billions.

And they’re being supported from the most unlikely quarters; apart from the filthy, rich Koch Brothers, the creepy uncles you wouldn’t want at your wedding, almost every energy corporate CEO and tech billionaire has come out of the bunker to tell the President he’s wrong about controlling emissions; that renewables are a business opportunity, not a threat; that there are five times more jobs in solar than in coal. (You have to admire their principles.)

That’s likely to make him even madder and more isolated, but even so.

Anyway,he’s not listening.

The Pumpkin is also feeling very positive about President Macron of France. So far he appears not to have put a foot wrong, apart from one of his ministerial appointees being hauled out of the Quai d’Orsée and charged with tax fraud. Can happen to anyone – and frequently does nowadays. He’s got a crushing handshake one has to admire.

In fact The Pumpkin is thinking positively again about moving to France, if possible, now the threat of Marine le Pen has temporarily receded, to get away from Theresa May – although Corbyn’s poll ratings have been dramatically narrowing since he bought a suit, so it might be worth hanging on.

And a brilliant speech from Macron, a blast against the Monstrous Trump: ‘make the world great again’ – in English, too. Classic. And he’s told Putin where to get off. Formidable!

It’s also a very good sign, we feel, that the governing Fine Gael party in Ireland has chosen by a big majority, as its new leader and Prime Minister, or Taoiseach, a second-generation Indian immigrant doctor who came out as gay in 2015.

That, and gay marriage too? Ah, da toimes, dey are a’changin’. It certainly spells the end of the shameful history of domination by the Catholic church in Ireland.

Excuse the poor attempt at a Dublin accent.

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Death: the art of the deal

BTW, where does Britain stand as a major exporter of probably illegal arms to war-criminal Saudi Arabia, now that Mister Trump has bought the shop?

His $300 billion deal ought to cover most of their child-killing needs for the foreseeable future, closing-out BAe as a key supplier. So much for Mrs May’s supine adherence to the postwar protocol that Britain supports the USA in any of its adventures, advisable or otherwise (except Harold Wilson, who courageously kept us out of the Vietnam war – thus sparing my life. Ed.)

And as usnews.com reported: “A new administration and a new arms deal in the Middle East sends shares of defense contractors soaring.”

It seems no amount of bribery makes one immune to a bigger deal.

Kushner was impressively able right there in Riyadh to persuade the CEO of Lockheed-Martin to lower the price of some high-tech arsenal of death or other with a single phone call to clinch the bargain.

God knows what that’s cost the American taxpayer: while Mrs Kushner was no doubt delighted to accept a $100 million ‘donation’ from the shameless Saudis on behalf of a private charity she runs, promoting – all together now – women’s rights. (She has of course recused herself from benefiting personally, under the Foreign Emoluments clause, while in office.)

Women’s rights. From the Saudis!

Women’s rights.