Dog Days and Diesels
We’re rapidly approaching the Silly Season, the Dog Days, whatever you call August
So it’s not surprising the press and radio news are leading on a nebulous proposal by Michael Gove to ‘phase-out’ diesel and petrol cars altogether by 2040, in line with President Macron’s equally hopeful ambition in France, and force everyone into electric vehicles, assuming any of us lives that long. As neither Mr Gove nor M. Macron is likely to be in office in 23 years’ time, neither of them I imagine much cares if it happens or not.
The problem with electric vehicles is, they need electricity. As things stand, we haven’t got the extra generating capacity to charge-up 32 million cars and six million commercial vehicles every night – when the solar power will be down. So we’re going to need at least a couple more nukes like Hinckley Point C, the atrocious Sino/French white elephant that’s already way behind schedule and over budget.
So that’s about half a trillion pounds for generating capacity, higher energy bills for households – and a loss of £25 billion a year to the Exchequer in fuel tax.
There are other, practical problems. Electric car batteries are improving, but still heavy, wasteful of energy and slow to charge. That’s even if the charging infrastructure can be rolled out; and people can afford the expensive cars without upsetting the Bank of England, worried about ‘sub-prime’ car loans.
That’s begging the questions, with 23 years to go (!) what purchasing decisions should motorists make in the meantime? And does anyone seriously imagine Exxon-Mobil, Shell and the other Big Oil bastards will just stand by and let this happen?
Three days earlier – whouhawhouaa, cue flashback music – we were informed of the government’s plan to spend a quarter of a billion pounds funding British companies to design clever new storage batteries, that we can ‘hang on the wall’ to power our homes with stored electricity from solar panels on the roof, of which every ‘ome should ‘ave one. (A panel, that is. Roofs aren’t guaranteed.)
The initiative does not seem to take account of the progress already made in this area by Mr Musk and his US Tesla corporation.
We would – get this – be able to sell our spare electricity to the Grid! A brilliant new idea from Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd that replaces the old idea, where at the behest of the competitive electricity generators the government two years ago slashed the ‘feed-in’ tariff paid to householders for their spare electricity, thus bringing the rooftop solar panels industry to a crashing halt.
Believe me, I’ve lived off-Grid, powering a fridge with a leisure battery is not a proposition if you want to keep your milk from going off. (Actually we had fresh milk from our goat every day, it’s just an illustration of the problem.)
Clearly, Mrs May’s parting orders to the cabinet before she takes a hike in the Dolomites, very painful, were to just come up with any old ideas to leave the British public hanging, imagining the government is still in charge until Parliament resumes in September.
When the Universities succeeded in getting the Cameron mob to treble tuition fees to £9,000, it was said this would be the ‘maximum’ they could charge. Which explains why they all immediately rushed to start charging £9,000 a year. Please don’t tell me that the opportunity to charge drivers of diesel cars £10 a day to use certain roads in cities won’t prompt every local authority in the country to rush for the numberplate recognition cameras and create this wonderful new source of free income, regardless of the level of pollution.
Eighteen months ago when the NOx emissions story first broke, I saw the writing on the bumper-sticker and enquired about selling my little diesel car. I was quoted £5,000. Why, oh why, didn’t I go through with it? I still felt, nyergh, maybe I still need it… I might have to go somewhere. Fat chance.
My car’s now worth only about £2,000 and falling by the day. I imagine most of the 13 million diesel car owners are also stuck between a rock and a hard place, faced with having to find £30 grand to buy a small electric car and getting nothing back for the diesel car the government told us all to buy fifteen years ago because it was more economical and produced less CO2 – both of which are true.
Scrapping cars is wasteful and expensive – very little recycling is possible – and does nothing to reduce emissions, as to make a replacement car emits as much CO2 as driving it (www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/2010/sep/23/carbon-footprint-new-car)
And so, until they become illegal 23 years from now, the country will have lots and lots of ageing diesels clattering about, smoking heavily, shrinking our children’s brains. Hardly Govey’s intention, if he has one.
Meanwhile, it remains the case that electricity is not the only alternative means of propulsion. By his limited insistence on electric replacements, Gove is overlooking the possibilities of other, newer technologies we could develop, if only they weren’t being suppressed by the oil companies.
It’s been reported that Exxon-Mobil alone may be sitting on as many as 3,000 unexploited patents on improvements and alternative power sources its own engineers have produced over the nearly four decades since their researchers first alerted them to the perils of burning the black stuff.
It was worth setting up those departments to find new methods of propulsion, just to shut them down.
“I probably shouldn’t even think this, but IF some Navy SEAL marksman were to fire a projectile with unerring accuracy into the Golden Orb’s muddly-puddly old brains from a book depository half a mile away one sunny afternoon…”
One night as he lay tweeting
So the House committee approved Trump’s fifth pick, Christopher Wray, for the job of FBI Director, subject to Senate ratification.
It comes out in the media shortly before the vote that Wray’s law firm, King and Spalding works for Rosneft and Gazprom, the two big Russian utilities controlled by the Kremlin (USA Today report/MSNBC); while individuals connecting between those giant dark money-pits, obscure Russian banks and hot property developments around the globe are also identified with organized crime syndicates.
Surprise, surprise, it’s Russia time again. And such a man, whatever he tells the committee, which must be getting used to being endlessly lied to by Trump nominees, isn’t going to close down the FBI’s multiple investigations into Russian Trumpola, is he? Surely not.
Wray is not the only individual with probably entirely innocent business connections to oligarchs identified by the intel services as top mobsters, whom Trump is continuing to shoehorn into government positions along with half of Goldman Sachs and anyone alternatively salaried, either by the energy bidness or Big Pharma – and remember, Trump appears from his tweets to believe that Wray will be reporting directly to him and not to the Justice Department, which he continue to try to undermine.
Who is Trump working for?
Then we hear that Wray – not the well-known chain of upmarket domestic lighting emporia – was paid $ millions in public-money ‘fees’ by sleazy NJ Governor Chris Christie – formerly a friend of Trump’s, they’ve fallen out – to get him off charges relating to ‘Bridgegate’ (Fort Lee lane-closure scandal – only in America – look it up) without any sort of a contract or an audit trail for 11 months, at one time blocking the prosecution by allegedly concealing Christie’s incriminating cellphone.
This is the blond Thunderbirds puppet with shifty eyes, who has no record of police work, whom Trump hails as ‘a man of impeccable credentials’ – like himself, no doubt. A couplea million a month should do it. I mean, he’s pretty impeccable, right? Impeccable costs extra.
But what of the manufactured spat between Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions?
Trumbo is bullying Sessions to resign because, last week, a voice spoke to him out of the dark, one night as he lay tweeting, to remind him that if Sessions hadn’t recused himself from the Russiagate investigation on conflict-of-interest grounds, he could be the one to fire the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller! Why, the weaselly little Georgia racist and barefaced liar whom Trump helped get elected was positively disloyal in obeying the law!! Trump IS the law!!!
Sessions’ record in office has been pretty frightful, turning the police into a virtually unaccountable paramilitary force; strengthening immigration laws to breakup families and overriding State legislatures on even medical marijuana relaxation. But at least he gets stuff done, unlike his useless boss. Trump is perfectly capable of replacing Yoda Sessions and his folksy, mint-julep twinkle with Ted Bundy, if he thinks he’s impeccable enough to get the Russian monkey off his back.
My god, if Trump could get Pruitt approved to head the EPA, with his 9,000 pages of emails testifying to his corrupt relationship with frackers Hamm Oil and Gas, bringing an earthquake to a street near you, he’s not going to nominate Mary Poppins to the job of paying for more brutal policing through pre-trial property confiscations, is he? Not if he can exonerate the Kushners, Flynn – and, if need be, the President himself; maybe even put Hillary in jail….
I probably shouldn’t even think this, but IF some former Navy SEAL marksman were to fire a projectile with unerring accuracy into the Golden Orb’s muddly-puddly old brains from a book depository half a mile away one sunny afternoon at an election rally in some Red state, and the President slumped lifeless to the rostrum, hairweave awry, surrounded by panicking sycophants and security goons, autocue devices flying everywhere, the shrieks and Omigard!s of the crowd rising to a horrified crescendo, what then?
The adoring Trump bumsucker, snow-capped advert for Anusol and hypocritical alt-Christian evangelist, the smarmy vice-presidential makeweight Pence would automatically become king. That’s how it happens, by Divine Right power in America transfers instantly and effortlessly to the annointed.
So, what then, we simply carry on with a bunch of greedy, reckless and incompetent cunts like Pruitt and Rick Perry, the dimwitted Betsy deBoop in charge of all the key departments of State until 2020, pushing through the shitbag legislative program they’ve had prescribed for them by Charles and David Koch? Would there be roles for Bannon, Kushner, Scaramouche* – the grieving Blonde?
Or does the politically more savvy Pence get that 60% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s corrupt and nepotistic presidency, the endless, shaming scandals, the demented tweets and rages, Fox faking News, and would he be able to settle things down and find some more convincing stooges to put in place, to try to find some calmer water to paddle in, even if he does ban abortion, homosexuality and women working outside the home?
And what, by the way, has happened to General HR McMaster? We haven’t spotted his curiously elongated cranium, with its more sensible contents, in the WH for weeks.
*No, he’s gone. Before he even arrived.
Granny Weatherwax’s Almanacke, 23-27 July
Shouting ‘fire!’ in a crowded world
- 8: Number of tropical cyclones reported active in the Pacific region currently, a 40-year record.
- Myanmar (Burma): widespread floods, storm surge drowns town: watch from 14’30” as a gilded buddhist temple is washed into the sea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smxPAG_yCzU&t=250s. Lack of drinking water affecting villagers.
- China: Yulin province, widespread flooding in Yulin city washes away buildings, cars; smashes up streets. Four die in Sichuan and Guangxi flash-floods. Buildings collapsing. 20 thousand evacuated.
- China: Shanghai, highest temperature ever recorded in the city @ 40.9°C (105.6°F), 21 July.
- South Korea: heat advisories for 95 deg. -plus in south, more forecast; widespread flooding follows torrential rain further north, around Seoul.
- Assam, India: 5 million still displaced by flooding; death toll reaches 73. Kaziranga National Park underwater, many animals drowned.
- Gujarat, India: widespread flooding. 113 dead. Millions affected. Many dams overtopped, towns inundated, national highways closed. Shortages of food and drinking water. More rain forecast.
- Thailand: “Flooding has affected several provinces, damaging 10,000 homes, and crops. Disaster management authorities have issued warnings for further heavy rain for the next 4 days.”
- Japan: “Authorities in Akita Prefecture, north western Japan, issued evacuation orders on Sunday 23 July due to flooding after a period of heavy rain. Some areas recorded more than 300 mm in 24 hours. Severe damage was recorded in 17 cities.”
- New Zealand, South Island: widespread flooding. Dunedin cut off by road; states of emergency declared in Christchurch, Canterbury, Otago.
- USA: record-river-level flooding in Algonquin, Galina, Pearl City Illinois. Powerful storms, more rain forecast. Widespread flooding in New Orleans as tropical storm ‘stalls’ over the city. State of emergency in Wisconsin, power outages, roads broken up in DC. Flash floods, local states of emergency in Kentucky, Missouri. Storm cells moving east have caused extensive flood and wind damage in the midwest. Major flooding in Birmingham Alabama.
- USA: “Excessive heat warnings were in place on Friday (21st) for Omaha, Kansas City, Des Moines, St. Louis, and neighboring areas, where heat indices will range between 105°F and 115°F. The Philadelphia area was also in an excessive heat warning for heat indices that could reach 103°F.” – http://www.wunderground.com
- USA: Wildfires continue to burn in California, Nevada, Utah, but the huge Detwiler fire near Yosemite National Park, Wyoming, is said to be ‘coming under control’ after a week. 75 thousand acres burned. Heatwave abating slowly but still in the 90s – 105F again in Phoenix today, 95F across Florida, Texas.
- Guadalajara, Mexico: City inundated after flash flooding, torrential rain.
- Lagos, Nigeria: localised flooding in the city and outlying villages, continuing rain.
- Ghana: two die in flash flooding in Tamale province.
- S. France: Firefighters battling 1,400 acres of forest burning in the hills inland from St Tropez. 10 thousand tourists evacuated after spending the night on beaches and in gym halls.
- Corsica: 4000 acres burned, homes and villages threatened. High winds (‘Mistrale’) a factor.
- Portugal: more big wildfires breaking out in central provinces inland from Coimbra. Dry heat and high winds.
- New heatwave forecast next week for W and S Europe.
- Freak hailstorms trap cars in northern Italy, a foot of hail piles up in Croatia.
- Germany: flash flood forces evacuations in northern town of Goslar. Flash flooding in the Harz mountains region. Flash flooding in Romania.
- President of low-lying Palau, in the Pacific, Tommy Remengesau has complained that his garden is now normally underwater due to sea-level rise of 1 ft since 1989.
- UK: weather service warns, rains to become heavier, more persistent.
On other disaster news: the earthquake swarm affecting the Yellowstone caldera continues in its 45th day, USGS (possibly under-)recording 15-20 quakes a day up to M3, getting shallower. Magma is thought to be flooding into the rising dome.
Magnitude 7.7 earthquake may be ‘imminent’ off California coast.
Climate & Extreme Weather News #47, 48/Floodlist/Wunderground/Mary Greeley (USGS data- watcher)/Dutchsinse.
(The bizarre thing is, almost none of this is being reported in the mainstream media, other than as single incidents, like the French fires, which are being reported on with no reference to the fires still burning in Italy and Greece, on Corsica and Sicily, in Spain, Portugal and in the Balkans – Macedonia, Croatia, for instance, as well as in the USA, Canada, Russia… And nothing on the huge floods in India, China, midwest and eastern USA. Are they trying not to cause a panic?)
Am I still a European?
Despite the bonfire of the sanities that was lit on 23 June, 2016, the answer to the question is apparently Yes.
In response to the concerns of people here in Wales, which (although the white immigrants from Birmingham voted by a big majority to Leave, which they’re welcome to do) has a large degree of constitutional autonomy from England, the ineffable Ms Jill Knight MEP, our regional representative in Strasbourg, has commissioned a detailed report on what Brexit means for citizenship rights.
It is 69 pages of closely argued, expert legal opinion, and the upshot is the British government does not really have the right to mess with your citizenship; something on which the BogPo ventured an opinion free of charge last year.
So you can either continue being what you currently are, i.e. a citizen with a EU passport, or they have to include some means of allowing you to formally establish Associate Citizenship of the EU in the abridgement treaty.
I’m not a lawyer and I found the report daunting: even the Executive Summary runs to several pages.
But if you’d like to see it, I can forward the PDF to you.