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

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

A dedicated racist?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Wikipedia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*Postscriptum:

The morning after this Post was put up, coincidentally a lead article on the current situation in Rakhine appeared in The Washington Post (31 Aug.).

Violence has flared up again following a report of an attack on a police station by Rohingya hotheads, and many areas of the state are said to be on fire, although frankly many areas of the world are on fire thanks to persistent heatwave conditions; it’s only three weeks since two-thirds of Burmese states were reportedly subject to severe flooding.

Over 400 thousand Rohingya have fled in the past two weeks to neighbouring Bangladesh under intolerable conditions amid well-attested witness reports of massacres, village-burning, mass rapes, the deliberate targeting of children and the laying of landmines on the border by the fascist Burmese army. The UN has condemned Burma for ethnic cleansing and demanded access, which has been denied.

‘The Lady’ persists in refusing to accept that any of this is happening or to condemn it, but has banned all aid agencies from operating in Rakhine.

She is a dried-up, cowardly old cunt, frankly, a vile little racist who ought to be stripped of her Nobel prize. But how many other Nobel peace laureates have turned out to be a bit of a disappointment?

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

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

Terrorism: whodunnit?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Granny W’s report, 30 Aug.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“Someone in authority needs to investigate this!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On 24 August, it happened again.

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

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

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

Someone in authority needs to investigate this!

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

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

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

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

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

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Fame at last

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

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

 

 

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

 Trump Model Management: a disclaimer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To quote from The Guardian article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Houston, we have a problem…

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

(Photo: Arkansas Online)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making a Korea of it

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

There’s never a dull moment.

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

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

 

Golden Orb Mk 11: Doppelganger

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

Do these familiar tropes apply to President Donald Trump?

So that’s Europe over there?

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

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

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

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

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

They have other things in common:

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

 

Love and marriage with the Trumps

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

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

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

 

Another brick in the Wall…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More ducks in a row…

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

I’ve counted five, plus a local stringer.

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

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

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

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

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

0.

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Important questions of our time:

#27:

Why don’t American cars float?

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

What is that about?

 

Granny Weatherwax: Harvey Special (updates). A fresh plea to the BBC Board to get its fucking ducks in a row.

Rockport, or what’s left of it. Harvey made landfall Friday night with winds gusting to 160 mph. (Google images)

Granny Weatherwax

Monday 28th Update: the BogPo has no special knowledge of the situation in Houston this morning, that cannot be obtained from watching the CNN live feed or visiting the live updates on The Guardian website. The confirmed death toll in Texas still stands fortunately at only two, although much of the devastated town of Rockport remains inaccessible to rescuers. The cleanup bill is so far estimated at $40 billion and FEMA is suggesting it could take two years or more to recover.

We can however make two comments of our own: firstly, that the severe flooding in China and elsewhere over the past two months has been if anything more extreme, with far greater loss of life; images of rivers turned to boiling torrents, carrying away everything in their path, have been horrifyingly evident on the four-day compilations of raw cameraphone footage and local news reports available on a deeply depressing YouTube channel called Climate and Extreme Weather News, from which the BogPo frequently quotes.

The flooding in Houston seems somehow more sinister, just water rising inexorably everywhere. People still seem unwilling to leave their cars and get to shelter. What idiot drives into three feet of water, where is it so important they have to get to, that they risk their lives and others’? With over 6,000 emergency calls from people needing rescue, the mayor of Houston is having to defend himself against the charge that he should have ordered a general evacuation. Have people lost all sense of individual responsibility? This flood was predicted days in advance.

Secondly, there will no doubt be a heated debate over whether or not this possibly once in 1,000-years or more event is being caused by climate change. The answer is yes, in at least three respects. Of course there are major hurricanes and cyclones from time to time. In this case however, three new factors are in play.

One, for every one degree rise in air temperature, 7% more water vapor is retained, leading to heavier rainfall amounts – as has been observed over vast areas this summer, when global temperatures have been up to 1.85 degrees above the 1910-2001 average. Your Granny W. has been keeping tabs on the situation globally for a couple of months now and there can surely be no doubt that increased precipitation is becoming quite alarming.

Two, the sea has been absorbing solar-heated CO2 ten times faster than the air – warmer seas transpire more water vapor and impart more energy to storms. The Gulf is showing a 4 deg. C anomaly this summer above the 26 deg. C level at which hurricanes form. Harvey formed in the Gulf as a huge Cat 4 storm, drawing in cloud mass from other fronts, within just 72 hours. Corresponding cyclones in the eastern Pacific this summer have also benefited from warmer waters, despite the lack of a major El Niño event.

And three, the northern jetstream is behaving chaotically as a result of warmer waters entering the Arctic, the loss of sea-ice reducing albedo enabling further solar warming of the ocean in a blue-water ‘feedback loop’. Fragments of the jetstream, normally a continuous ribbon of high-speed, high-altitude wind around the Arctic circle, have pushed down into the southern states of America this summer and are preventing Harvey from moving further inland.

(I am indebted to the Ottawa University climatologist, Prof. Paul Beckwith, citing websites Earth Nullschool(.org) and Climate Reanalyzer(.org), for much of the above.)

Harvey is now forecast to back south over the coast, where it will pick up new energy and more water before heading off through Louisiana (New Orleans in its path), up into Tennessee around Memphis. Gruesomely, it’s said to be ‘feeding off’ its own rainfall, recycling the floodwaters.

Live updates UK: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2017/aug/28/ex-hurricane-harvey-houston-flooded-as-catastrophe-unfolds-in-texas-latest-updates

Additional summary from: http://floodlist.com/america/usa/flooding-houston-south-east-texas-august-2017

 

Houston, we’ve got a problem… (photo Times of India)

Bombay ducks

India: Torrential rain causes major flooding in Mumbai (Bombay), 29 Aug. Three dead including two children as a building collapses. “Incessant rains hit Mumbai for the fourth straight day on Tuesday, flooding vast areas of the city, throwing traffic out of gear on key arteries and affecting trains and flights services in the Maharashtra capital.” More heavy rain forecast.

24-28 Aug.

Sunday 27th: Five dead. 4-6 inches of rain AN HOUR reportedly falling around the eye of Hurricane, now downgraded to Tropical Storm, Harvey, which is stuck virtually at a standstill over most of southern Texas because of the broken jetstream pushing south. Extreme emergency declared in Houston as 100% precipitation brings flash-flood warnings through to next Thursday and tornadoes to the entire region. Up to 50 inches (1200 mm) of rain forecast by Friday.

After growing in speed and energy in the Gulf, from an ordinary storm over the Yucatan peninsula last Wednesday, until it made devastating landfall only 72 hours later, Harvey could be one of the largest weather systems ever recorded, feeding other storms out as far as Florida (40%-60% possibility of forming new Tropical Storm) up to Wisconsin, firehosing a 60,000-foot column of warm water out of the Gulf and dumping it onland, with 92% humidity. People are talking of a ‘reconfigured coastline’ for when this horror is over, not before Wednesday or Thursday.

Saturday 26th: having made landfall near the town of Rockport as a 130 mph Cat 4, Hurricane Harvey is weakening to a tropical storm but still with sustained windspeeds of 75 mph. It’s moving very slowly, about 2 mph, and dumped 14.6-in of rain on the town of Austell in 12 hours. Residents of an old folks home that collapsed in Rockport are feared trapped – the town has sustained severe damage from wind gusting to 160 mph and storm surge.

Many buildings elsewhere severely damaged, 1.9m coastal surge, many requests for help (60% of homeowners refused evacuation!) but as yet no major flooding and no casualties reported, other than a man shot by a nervous householder. Three babies born in Corpus Christi, no doubt boys will be named Harvey?

Forecasters warn it will go on for several days, with potentially ‘catastrophic’ flooding. Trump has ordered federal aid and then decamped to Camp David. Harvey is reported heading for San Antonio where many were evacuated from the coast.

There are also connected storms over Florida and Wisconsin, making this possibly the widest storm system ever recorded. See Paul Beckwith seminar (Prof. of Climatology, Ottawa U.)  at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0-Os6jYtNo

Waters in the Gulf are up to 4 deg C above ‘hurricane-forming’ temperature. And there are still two months of the season to go.

One of the largest storm systems ever recorded. (photo: ABC News)

More horror

USA: Las Vegas Na, Phoenix Az temps still hitting around 40-42C, 104-108F. Extreme heat warnings (up to 44C, 111F) out over the weekend for many parts of California. 50C, 121F recorded in Death Valley, Sacramento Ca. at 41C, 107F today. This is what, the seventh week of the heatwave? And in Portland, way up there in Oregon, it’s 36C, 98F….

Canada: New wildfires breakout around Kelowna, British Columbia. Over 1,000 homes evacuated. Herd of wild horses killed in Chilcotin forest. Canada’s annual CO2 emissions ‘tripled’ by unprecedented fires this year alone.

Uganda: “Severe flooding has been reported in northern Uganda and Southern Sudan over the last few days, leaving 2,000 people displaced and 2 people missing. Heavy rain has also affected western parts of the country, where a landslide near Bundibugyo has left at least 1 person (6 yo child) dead.” More rain forecast, crops and roads damaged.

Iraq: At 18.00 today, 26th Aug, it’s still 44C, 111F in Baghdad; 40C, 104F in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

China: Death toll from Typhoon Hato confirmed at 12, 153 injured. Towns around Macao still under up to 3.5 metres of water, much damage. Downgraded Hato also brings flash flooding and landslides to the mainland, 4 die in landslide in Yunnan province. Roads, bridges, houses swept away. Moving towards Vietnam.

China: Heavy rainfall brings severe flooding to Hefei city, Anhui province, western China. Guijou province: “A landslide struck some 34 homes in southwest China on Monday, killing two people and leaving another 25 missing in the latest natural disaster to hit the country, according to the local government.”

China: Tropical Typhoon Jolina (Pakhar) makes landfall Sunday at Guandong, south of Hong Kong, brings wind, rain and some flooding to areas already hit last week by Typhoon Hato. Moving westward, expected heavy rain in west and Vietnam, running through by the weekend to flood-hit Myanmar (Burma) and… northern India.

Houston, we’ve got a problem….

India, Pakistan and Bangladesh: Numbers affected by flooding in north now put at 41 million (UN report). Death toll exceeds 1,200. Floodwaters ‘receding’. Food and water shortages, fear of disease outbreaks.

Philippines: Tropical Storm, strengthening to Cyclone, Jolina (Pakhar) with sustained windspeeds of 85 mph is moving NW across Luzon towards China. Likely to hit the same area as Hato, south of Hong Kong/Macau Wednesday.

Venezuela: Six dead and 26 missing after flash flood reported (22nd Aug) washing away a mountain village in Choroni province.

Europe: Regional stations have ‘extreme high temperature’ alerts again for the weekend out across Italy, Corsica, Sicily – up through the Balkans into Bulgaria, Hungary, across to Spain, Portugal and back to Greece – high 80s F to high 90s F, locally higher. Thunderstorm warnings anywhere across north-central and eastern continental Europe.

Bulgaria: wildfire sweeps through Kresna Gorge scenic beauty spot. 15,000 acres affected.

Russia: one dead, several injured in wildfires burning around Volgograd.

Yellowstone: report from USGS on new monitoring equipment installed and Bob Smith’s CAT-scan survey (results embargoed) states that the area has had 15 thousand earthquakes since mid-June – one of the biggest swarms we’ve ever had, says Smith – who goes on to advise cheerily that if there’s going to be an eruption, it’s when they stop you have to worry, ha ha worried smileyface.

(That compares with ‘only’ 1,638 they’ve admitted to publicly….)

BBC and various/ Floodlist/ World Weather Information/ Weather Underground/ Climate and Extreme Weather News #58 (link to https://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8UwLB4fHWI)/ Hong Kong Free Press/ Hindustani Times/ Mary Greeley website.

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“When will you get it through your silly heads: there is no more ‘debate’ worth having?

A fresh plea to the BBC Board to get its fucking ducks in a row

Dear BBC

I’m starting to believe that there is something seriously amiss within BBC News and current affairs editorial.

A month ago, I felt obliged to protest at the inclusion of a studio guest on the R4 Today programme, who was not as you announced him. Mr Myron Ebell was introduced as a White House energy spokesman and ‘climate-change skeptic’. In order to be a science ‘skeptic’ one has to have some scientific credentials, which Mr Ebell does not: he is a longtime Washington lobbyist with known connections to Exxon Mobil and other energy sector clients.

I had to point out too that in 2005 he was the subject of a Parliamentary early-day motion after a previous appearance on Today in which he made slanderous remarks about the UK’s chief scientist, Dr King. Your researcher ought to have been aware of it, as the information is clearly presented in Ebell’s pretty damning Wikipedia entry.

This morning, yet again, you carried a disingenuous interview with one ‘Dr’ Sebastian L v. Gorka, White House ‘deputy assistant advisor’ (very junior rank!) on Middle East security, who was said to have ‘resigned’ his position in the Trump administration, and who came on to claim that Trump is being ‘undermined’ by elements in the White House – who can only be General Kelly, Trump’s relatively sane new chief policy advisor; daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, the very few people who have been trying to hold the administration together and check the President’s wilder and more tantrum-throwing impulses.

An Orthodox Jew with connections, Kushner has, of course, been tasked (among many other things) with finding a solution to the Palestinian question. I imagine he would have found it somewhat difficult to have to share the ear of the President with a notorious anti-Semitic and Islamophobic, ultra-conservative Christian white nationalist.

It is therefore not thought likely that Gorka ‘resigned’. Indeed, the Huffington Post today offers five very good reasons for firing him – principally that he is, as one reader tweeted, a “fuckin’ lunatic”.

British-born, of Hungarian extraction, educated BA in religious studies at a Jesuit college in London (scraped a 2.2), he was brought on board by Steve Bannon, who also ‘resigned’ last week; the man most widely believed to be the architect of what Gorka calls ‘Trumpism’ (i.e. more tax breaks for the wealthiest; disenfranchisement of Democrat-voting minorities, suppression of Muslims and immigrants, increasing police unaccountability, denial of science, hiking of medical insurance premiums, lowering of the nuclear threshold, dismantling the State apparatus, etc.)

Gorka was most probably removed from office by General Kelly in his ongoing purge of the Bannon faction, that has now retreated to the offices of Breitbart News from where it is sniping at the disorientated President for having gone soft on the alt-right agenda and surrendered to the Pentagon’s demand for a troop surge in Afghanistan.

Knowingly or unknowingly, you give voice to their campaign.

His appearance on Today earlier this month, in which he doubled-down on Trump’s hardline stance on North Korea and told Secretary of State Tillerson to, effectively, stop sticking his nose in, came in for much criticism and ridicule. You also carried a lengthy and uncritical interview with this relatively low-level figure by Emily Maitlis in Washington on Newsnight last month, also with Evan Davies back in February.

Why? You might just as well interview a taxi-driver, a coalminer or a fish-porter.

I fail to understand – unless there are neoliberal ‘disruptors’ working covertly within the BBC – what your fascination is with certain toxic individuals, Mr Nigel Farage being a case in point, who seem never not to be on the air?

‘Mr Gorka’, as you politely call him, is widely disparaged in the US security community as a charlatan. Senior and respected figures in the defence establishment have publicly stated that he has no standing whatever as a security consultant. His ‘advice’ on Islamic terrorism is, they say, no more than humdrum.

He has no field experience or intelligence service background; only a dubious PhD whose rigour has been questioned by US academics specializing in the subject. He has frequently been called “a clown” by genuine intelligence personnel.

A self-proclaimed former advisor to the hardline Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, Gorka has also been associated with László Toroczkai, the hardline anti-Islam mayor of Assothalom, the town where (the BBC reported) the road traffic signs say No Muslims. He came to the transition team only via an association as a contributing editor to Steve Bannon’s fake news Breitbart website, and as the husband of transition-team security ‘consultant’, New York steel heiress Katherine Cornell; another veteran of rightwing think tanks whose websites are inexplicably suspended.

Since your programme researchers appear not to have done their homework, let me explain that in January, Gorka was the subject of a Congressional enquiry (still ongoing) over his immigration status, as the ‘v.’ initial he retains in the way he prefers his full name to be presented stands for ‘Vitez’.

That’s a coded reference to his well-attested (but denied) membership of a far-right nationalist group in Hungary with a wartime history of collaboration with the Nazis in the extermination of 800 thousand Jews, the Vitezi Rend; whose pin-badge he sports in public. Gorka failed to declare this on his immigration form, a federal offence for which his deportation was being called.

Is it the BBC’s policy to present paid liars and neo-Nazi-sympathising nonentities, apparently uncritically and without reservation, as credible spokesmen for the failing Trump administration? You are playing with fire. As with your Brexit coverage, the critical voices of moderate opposition to the neoconservative agenda are barely detectable; in your unfailing politeness towards this despicable President we only ever seem to hear from lobbyists, conspirators, fantasists, old neocons from the Strauss/Wolfowitz era, and fellow-travellers.

Second complaint

A propos, in the interests of ‘balance’, which is no balance at all, against former Vice-President Al Gore, who had a movie to plug, you exhumed Nigel, Lord Lawson last weekend on Today to put forward his indefensible, inexpert and well-remunerated views on the climate crisis. When will you get it through your silly heads: there is no more ‘debate’ worth having. The matter is settled: climate change is man-made, the warming is speeding up dangerously, tipping-points are being reached.

No-one argues about it now, other than those with vested interests and dimwitted internet trolls. Oh, and BBC programme editors.

In view of the fact that his paymasters at Exxon Mobil have been comprehensively outed in the New York Times, who commissioned a serious, peer-reviewed academic analysis proving conclusively that the oil giant whose £100k a day CEO is now the US Secretary of State has been lying about its own research for the past 40 years, your editors need now to stop this frankly evil pretence that paid climate-change deniers have anything more to say.

I am concerned that the worldwide crisis is being treated in such a piecemeal fashion. Were the listeners and viewers to rely solely on your output, we might know for instance that there have been ‘monsoon floods’ in India, as if the displacement of over 40 million people, with 1,200 deaths, the loss of crops, the lack of drinking water, over a three-month period (including a month preceding the monsoon season) were a normal event – when vast areas of Myanmar, Thailand, the United States and especially China have also been underwater, and where river flooding, landslides, flash-floods, droughts, wildfires and heatwaves have been breaking records once again, in countries all around the world.

We have indeed heard from you that there has been an epochal hurricane in Texas, a landslide in Sierra Leone (possibly a thousand dead after 80 cm of rain fell in a night) or that ten thousand tourists were evacuated from a wildfire in the South of France, or that 64 people were burned to death in Portugal, or that it’s a bit hot in southern Europe. But would we have learned that these extreme events are part of a much wider, increasingly random pattern?

No, because your half-witted, uninformed broadcasters continually cut to the BBC weather presenter and ask if this weather event or that is a sign of climate change, like annoying children in cars, ‘are we there yet?’, and invariably the cautious experts have to reply ‘We can’t tell from just one event’. Of course they bloody can’t! But it’s not just one event, is it?

We would probably not know from your coverage of this existentially important story that, in some cases for the third year in a row:

  • California and the SW states have suffered six weeks of 100 deg-plus temperatures;
  • Las Vegas, Kansas City, Houston and New Orleans have all been badly flooded already this summer (before Hurricane Harvey);
  • there has been a succession of powerful storms over New England and the East Coast, causing major flooding events;
  • over a million acres of British Columbia have been burning for months, with tens of thousands of homes evacuated;
  • extensive uncontained wildfires in Siberia and even Greenland have been depositing a layer of soot across the Arctic where sea ice is again at a record low and wave heights increasing, to beak up what is left;
  • people have been dying from a heatwave in Korea; from powerful storms in Russia, in Mexico; from unseasonal tornadoes;
  • 3,000 acres of the ancestral Bielowicza forest in Poland, a World Heritage site at the centre of an EU row over illegal logging has been flattened in violent storms;
  • there is famine in Somalia, millions affected, but flooding in neighbouring Sudan;
  • drought in South Africa but devastating floods and landslides in Sierra Leone and Niger;
  • daytime temperatures in Baghdad and Riyadh have exceeded 42C, 120F over the past two weeks;
  • a temperature of 34C (94F) was recorded in Canada on the Mackenzie River, north of the Arctic circle, last month; 56C (132F) in Iran in June.
  • We would not have seen the satellite data on the weakening jetstreams, that have become fragmented and chaotic as never before.
  • We would not know that atmospheric CO2 levels as high as 840 ppm have been recorded in, for instance, Kazakhstan; or that methane emissions from melting permafrost are at danger levels.

Because you don’t cover the story in any coherent way.

The pattern is consistent and worsening from year to year. Fifteen of the warmest years in at least the past ten thousand have been recorded since 2001. No month in the past thirty years has been colder than its previous year’s equivalent.

Climate change has real geopolitical effects – for instance, backgrounding the North Korea crisis, that country is on the verge of starvation again after a three-year-long drought, with implications for the effectiveness of the military –  and raises serious concerns for our own food security.

All this information can be sourced, if you take the time; the dots connected – but it is beginning to look as if the mainstream media and politicians are either a bunch of ignorant, tax-eating wastrels, or they are deliberately suppressing the gravity of the situation so as not to panic people.

And all we get on the BBC is non-scientists and energy business shills denying that any of this is happening, to a wider background of well-funded denial within the US administration, censorship of research and the hobbling or dismantling of relevant agencies.

Do you perhaps need to find out who is driving your internal editorial policy and ask them some searching questions? Or are they acting on your instruction?

(Postscriptum: this Post appeared two days before a piece in The Guardian by environmental campaigner George Monbiot, making similar points about media coverage.)

Comment threads on YouTube ‘Harvey’ videos are jam-packed with simple folk fervently praying to their friend Jesus to keep Texas and its inhabitants safe. Of course, others are sure the storm is punishment for the wickedness of the LBGT community, as foretold by the Eclipse. The BogPo prefers the more direct, Humanist approach above, it’s just as likely to work!  (photo: The Sun)

The Pumpkin – Issue #31: The Trumpometer of Lies. The train now departed… V.

“See how this new ‘invisible string’ – a great American invention by the way, it’s terrific, I can tell you – cannot be broken, even by me, the most strongly President since Robert E Lee. I intend to use it to build a wall, and Venezuela will pay for it. Venezuela will pay. Venez… er…. mnblzzzz”

 

“They don’t care, he’s such a refreshing change from infantile, self-serving crooks in the White House.”

The Trumpometer of Lies

My Readers, Spammers, Likers, Followers and Those No Longer Reading This, muh bogl, have been collectively tweeting-out their anger that there hasn’t been a new issue of The Pumpkin for more than a week.

What, they ask, is happening in Trumpworld? Why are we not being told? What are you covering-up?

Well, the short answer is, he’s been on a working holiday. It didn’t really work, Charlottenberg got in the way, and that Nazi thing, many good people.

But the real answer is that we’re increasingly unable to separate fact from fiction in the parallel universe of the redecorated, yet curiously newly aged-looking White House, where Gen. Kelly; an unpaid security guard who’s sure he left his wallet on the bedside cabinet, and the man with shaky hands who serves the President his fizzy Cokes are the only ones left, out of more than 150 staff a week ago.

(BTW, if anyone has a contact for the decorator I’d like it, given that a) he clearly turns up when expected, b) he can redecorate whole rooms in a few days without getting paint on the rugs, and c) he doesn’t mind not getting paid. Just don’t give me the name of whoever suggested those ghastly clashing gold curtains.)

All the leakers have departed, which is why the failing fake nooze media – and let’s charitably remind ourselves it’s still only August – are frantically pedalling, like a Deliveroo boy on a fixed-wheel bicycle with no front brake, in the absence of any really new news they haven’t reported in some form already.

So, did you know that, like, one of the Russian spy guys with an unpronounceable name who met with Don Jr and the Kush was reported by the failing New York Times, the Washington Post and everyone else eating each others’ stories to have been involved in an unrelated hacking event last year? Neither did we! Wow, that must prove something. Anything.

Oh, and Senator Chuck Mukluk (D. North Alaska, can’t afford a vacation) says he thinks Trump’s gone crazy. We have an interview with him on NBC right after this. We’ll also be talking to a babyfaced Republican think-tank intern who says you shudn’t say things like that about our President. And what’s happened to the BLGTQ+ ban? Did that get lost at sea in the colliding warships scandal? Or was it just another misspelled word in a furious tweet?

When something does happen in the White House, it’s as if it happened last week too; and the week before, and will happen again maybe next week. The amnesia is contagious. Was it last week he was threatening nuclear war against Korea? Or was that Venezuela? Iran, or Afghanistan? When exactly was Steve Bannon fired, was that before or after he quit? And is Trump really going to suspend the US government, like his friend President Maduro, if he doesn’t get a wall for Christmas, or was it more a threat to have Senator McConnell assassinated by the FSB for failing to protect him against the Mueller investigation? And who was Sebastian Gorka?

We can’t remember. Our heads hurt.

Every little crap thing Trump does or says eventually merges into one huge crap thing. Serious financial crimes he’s said in thoroughly investigated and double-checked newspaper exposés to have probably committed are lost next day in the poison fog of more of Sarah Huckabee’s mega-Spicey denials – over something even worse she doesn’t want the fakenews press lying about today.

The unPresidential lies fly by, over a thousand to date have been investigated by the Washington Post‘s Trumpometer of Lies and found to be, indeed, alternative truths – it’s got so bad, I’ve started to suspect half of them might just be his weird sense of humour – and none of the sycophants in the crowd of cosmetically maladjusted, gurning American faces that US politicians hunger to be seen orating in front of, like cheering wallpaper, gives a monkey’s uncle whether he’s telling the truth or not.

They don’t care, he’s such a refreshing change from infantile, self-serving crooks in the White House. Drain the swamp!

The liberal media is having a hard time shifting that last 35 per cent.

Boarding house… Texas braces for Hurricane Harvey. (mstartribune.com)

But is the administration up to handling external disasters? We don’t have to wait for Yellowstone 4 to find out.

Take, for instance, the huge, category 3 or maybe even 4 hurricane, Harvey, that’s starting tonight to obliterate Texas. 125 mph winds and 35 inches of rain are expected in the next few days, which could well see flood-prone Houston wiped off the map. The only media to be worrying that Trump might not be up to handling it and could do for Houston what Bush did for New Orleans, i.e. fuck-all, is the good old Guardian:

“Trump tweeted a video clip of his meeting with Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) officials in early August, with the caption: “Remember, the USA is the most resilient nation on earth, because we plan ahead.”

“Brock Long, Trump’s choice to head Fema, was not confirmed by the Senate until 20 June, three weeks into the Atlantic hurricane season. Trump has not nominated a permanent head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), which plays a key role in weather forecasting.

“Trump’s proposed budget calls for a $667m cut to state and local Fema grant programmes that focus on disaster preparation.” – The Guardian, 25 August.

The federal government support scheme for homeowners in flood-risk areas where insurance costs are rocketing unaffordably, along with their health insurance, is $billions in debt and unlikely to be renewed next month. Mr Long has made his position clear: it’s their own fault for buying in a flood-risk area. (We love Republicans, don’t you? Such charitable Christian attitudes.)

At the same time, Mr Trump has just signed an order overturning an Obama order requiring planners and new-builders to take account of increased flood risk due to climate change.

You can see the problem, can’t you. Little Donny is colouring-in well, but doesn’t join dots easily.

It’s a pity he didn’t notice the motto of The Boy Scouts of America while he was regaling them with salacious stories of orgies aboard his friends’ private yachts:

Be Prepared.

 

Mr Trump’s weird logic

Unwilling to court the risk of the same criticism that dogged President W Bush after his feeble response to Hurricane Katrina, Mr Trump has said he will tour the disaster areas of Texas on Tuesday. The reason he is waiting until then is, he says, because he doesn’t want his visit with all the security detail and fuss taking up officials’ time when they’ve got more important work to do.

Chrysler’s new sub. These lunatics just will not give up their cars (what do they think is causing the problem in the first place?)

This admirable concern for the welfare of the beleaguered locals contrasts oddly with the $millions of dollars in lost trade shops and businesses in the area of Trump’s golf resorts, especially Mar-a-Lago in Florida, have to suffer when he travels down on vacation every weekend, the incredible cost to the taxpayer of the now near-bankrupt security service watching out for no fewer than 42 members of the Trump family’s safety all round the world, on promotional business trips and skiing holidays, and the $millions cost of the major disruption around Trump buildings in New York whenever the First Family goes home, that has led to demonstrations by angry ratepayers and motorists.

The image of Saint Donald isn’t working, somebody please tell him.

 

“The Pumpkin did just momentarily pause to consider whether the Golden Orb doesn’t sometimes inject a strange and warped sense of self-satirizing humour into his more ridiculous utterances?”

The train now departed…

Among the latest resignations from the intolerable conditions in the Trump White House is 31-year-old Mr Andy Hemming, the man known as the ‘news fluffer’, who was famously employed to research and present the infant-President-narcissist twice a day with a file of cuttings detailing only the most flattering stories about his many brilliant achievements in office.

According to Farron Cousins at Ring of Fire, a shouty online comment vlog:

“His official title was Director of Rapid Response for the White House Communications Team, and in addition to feeding the President positive news stories about himself, he was also supposed to communicate with members of the mainstream media, CNN, Washington Post, credible news sources like that, and tell them all the good things that the President had accomplished.”

The Trumpkin wakes: is anyone safe?

Mr Hemming has as yet offered no explanation for why he has given up the $90k a year job, but one suspects that eventually everyone has to bow to the inevitable. The 71-year-old Trump is said to often scream hysterical abuse at staffers who do things he doesn’t like, or who try to tell him what to do, or when he is just feeling unloved. If no-one in the office has upset him, he screams instead at things he sees on the TV. And he can’t help himself acknowledging that some Nazis are fine people.

He is certifiably out of his depth in the job, if not actually mentally deranged, but he still has enough terrified Republicans fearful of regime collapse to go on CNN and defend him that his mooted removal by the Vice-President citing the incapacity clause of the 25th Amendment always seems another arm’s length away.

Not that one would wish the ambitious, snow-capped hypocrite Pence on any nation. Impeachment and removal of the dangerously unpredictable ’45’ will only inflict the same tax-cutting policies on the poor, more drone strikes on innocent villagers, more hardworking immigrant families ripped apart, but with a leavening of nauseating ‘Jesus saves’ Christianity to justify the barbarities.

Also, he won’t be half the fun.

Windmills of the mind

Officials at the Department of Energy may also soon be departing en masse, following a bizarre error in which a report doctored on the orders of Trump and his cretinous Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, to show what a dismal failure renewable energy has been and how great th’ Murcan orl ‘n coal ‘n nucular bidness is was found post-publication to still contain the original conclusion that it has in fact been a rip-roaring success.

In edited form, Cousins reports:

“A draft version of the Department of Energy’s energy grid study was released, and it showed that everything that the Trump administration and Republicans had been saying about renewable energy was completely false. … The report showed that our energy grid today, with renewable energy growing at an exponential rate, is stronger than ever.

“Before the final draft came out … Perry and his Department … took it upon themselves to rewrite (it) and make the entire study about how horrible renewable energy is, and how it is killing coal, killing nuclear, and killing our electrical grid in the United States.

“There’s just one problem. They didn’t delete all of the information. … Perry didn’t think to read through the whole thing. And so those statements got left in, directly contradicting what they had taken out (or) rewritten.

“That’s the level of stupid that we are dealing with, with this Trump administration.”

In a highly amusing excursion on another online current affairs discussion forum, The Young Turks reflected on part of Trump’s now notorious unhinged and self-pitying farrago of lying nonsense at his 2020 re-election rally in Phoenix earlier this week, that prompted the New Yorker magazine to ask “Is Trump Losing It?”

At one point the world’s leading expert on everything was rambling on about energy policy, and began waxing lyrical on the subject of ‘clean coal’. Supposedly a reference to the as-yet untried, hugely expensive and completely impracticable system known as Carbon Capture and Sequestration, it soon became clear to the shuffling embarrassment of his hovering officials that Trump thought it meant you just had to wash the dust off the coal before burning it.

As the alternative media erupted in laughter at this foolishness, once again The Pumpkin did just momentarily pause to wonder if the Golden Orb doesn’t sometimes inject a strange and warped sense of self-satirizing humour into his more ridiculous utterances?

I mean, can anybody really be that stupid?

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“He will no doubt be banging on Bannon’s door pleading for his old job back as a Breitbart security correspondent with decided views on the Judaeo-Islamic menace.”

V.

It’s not often The Pumpkin is scooped by national media, but the time difference between Washington and Boglington-on-Sea means the editor was fast asleep in bed when news came through that yet another senior Bannon appointee to Trump’s staff has fled the coop.

Although in a curious way he wasn’t. He seldom dreams, but in the early hours he dreamed he saw some boys had caught a large fish and were trying to dispatch it by hitting it on the head with an iron bar. He went to help but realized it was not a fish but a large ginger cat (!). Why are you killing the cat? he demanded to know, but there was no answer. So he took the injured cat in his arms and set off for home, where he fed it warm milk through a pipette. After it died, he went back to beat the crap out of the boys. Then he woke up, needing to pee again.

It must mean something.

Sebastian L v. Gorka was a bit of a charlatan, wasn’t he? A ‘Senior assistant advisor’ on global security, no-one in the close-knit US security establishment had taken him seriously for one moment. Nevertheless he was influential in persuading the ginger cat – I mean, the President – to order his failed Muslim ban, on grounds that stopping families flying in from Lebanon for a few months would protect the entire population of the US against Islamic terrorism.

Born in London to Hungarian nationalist refugee parents, ‘Dr’ Gorka secured a poor 2.2 degree from a Jesuit college, which he somehow later converted after five years of study to a PhD at an obscure university in Budapest, majoring on the threat of Islam, and in 1998 became an ‘advisor’ to the hardline Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. He married Kathy Cornell, an American steel heiress, and worked in various rightwing, anti-Islamist thinktanks. In 2012 he became a naturalized American citizen.

That caused some controversy, when after a TV appearance during which it was noticed that he was wearing a distinctive type of tunic and sported the pin-badge of a far-right Hungarian group, the Vitezi Rend, two Senators raised a question in the House about his immigration form, on which he had failed to declare his membership of a ‘neo-Nazi organization’. After the invasion of Hungary by Nazi troops in 1944, Vitezi Rend had allegedly been active in helping to round up 800,000 Jews to be exterminated.

Gorka denied being a member and said he was merely honouring the memory of his father, however the organization’s leadership in Hungary confirmed that he was still a member; while experts pointed to the lowercase ‘v.’ he retains in his name as another sign of his allegiance to the 20,000-strong party. Failure to declare membership of a banned organization is a federal offence, for which he could be stripped of his citizenship.

Describing him in their now-customarily lazy fashion as ‘White House security expert’ – in much the same way as last month they described White House ‘environmental expert’ Myron Ebell as a ‘climate-change skeptic’ (he’s actually a paid energy bidness lobbyist from the slimier levels of the Washington swamp, with no scientific credentials to justify the description ‘skeptic’) – the BBC, which had only recently featured a lengthy and totally uncritical interview with Gorka on a Newsnight special, gave no reason for his departure.

The Guardian, which is a bit more on the ball when it comes to the murky doings of key personnel in this dysfunctional administration, reminded readers that Gorka’s response to the fire-bombing of a mosque by white supremacists had been to suggest it was a false-flag attack; he also went on record as saying Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson had nothing to contribute on the subject of North Korea – the idea was nonsensical – and “you should listen to the President”.

His departure at the behest of General Kelly has been welcomed in several quarters. He will no doubt be banging on Bannon’s door pleading for his old job back as a Breitbart security correspondent with decided views on the Judaeo-Islamic menace.

Gorka’s 12-month tenure as a member of Trump’s transition team and on the admin staff however serves to illustrate the extent to which the Orange Buffoon was completely out of his depth on taking office, knowing nobody he could trust to occupy any position of power and responsibility, and how he was seemingly willing to appoint anyone Bannon recommended.

The Pumpkin respectfully offers odds of 10 to one on Bannon’s protegé, the oleaginous mock-sinister college vampire Stephen Miller, being next on the Kelly death list; the problem being, none of these bungling quasi-fascist amateurs has yet been replaced by anyone giving off any more signs of competence and mental stability.

Meanwhile the President, smarting over his drubbing by the press in the wake of his disastrous handling of the Charlottesville killing, is pressing ahead under cover of the fascinating horror unfolding in Texas with the nastiest and least well-received measures on his little hate list; although thankfully his triumvirate of retired generals seems to have kept him from pressing the button over North Korea. So far.

Prison camp. (Photo: cowboyszone.com)

Having been rebuffed last month by the heads of every branch of the military and coastguard, he has now sent out a memo officially ordering them to ban transgender recruits, against their advice; and he has used the Presidential pardon to exonerate the racist Maricopa County, Az. police chief Joseph Arpaio, 85, who was recently sentenced to six months in gaol for contempt of court after refusing to back down over a campaign illegally targeting anyone for police searches who ‘looked like an immigrant’.

Mr Arpaio was also responsible for many years for the ‘Tent City’ prison, an area of a federal corrections facility where specifically Latino prisoners, men and women convicted mostly of minor offences, were housed in leaky old Korean-war military tents, summer and winter, the men forced to wear pink underwear and socks and fed an exclusively vegetarian diet to prevent them escaping.

Arpaio, who likes to be described as ‘America’s toughest Sheriff’, claims to have saved millions of dollars by not having to build proper facilities for housing some of Arizona’s vast population of people serving time at the behest of judges who profit from the numbers of convicts they send to private gaols, where they are effectively used as slave labor. Convicted felons also face lifetime voting bans, which keeps mostly Democrats away from the polls. According to website Vocativ.com:

“… over the course of his six terms in office, Arpaio has cultivated the image of a guy who’s not only tough on crime but also creative when it comes to cutting expenses. But what Arpaio doesn’t note in his stream of press releases about Tent City is that inmate abuses and misuse of funds in the jail system he oversees have cost the county nearly $200 million over the last 15 years.”

It might also be cautiously suggested that being tough on crime hasn’t exactly reduced the prison population: over 500 thousand people have passed through Tent City since it started.

Hoping to go down with the dumbfucks as ‘America’s toughest President’, abusing the purpose and powers of the pardon to obstruct, rather than redress, the course of justice, the simple-minded Trump has made good on his threat to pardon this abusive old monster, no doubt the model down the years for numerous movie depictions of brutal racist county sheriffs, arguing that he is a great American who has served his country for over 50 years.

It’s also good practice for when he has to thwart justice, to pardon himself.

 

“One of the dizzying lessons of this presidency is that outrage can be dulled by outrage, that fury at one atrocious act is hard to sustain if fury at another soon replaces it.” – Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian, 26 Aug.

 

Koreans cool off, but the country is in the soup (from 2015).

Summer 2017 has seen the third successive year of extreme heat in the peninsula (photo: The Telegraph). Drought in the north after three years is calling into question the ability of Kim Jong-un’s army to fight a war as soldiers and peasants alike are reportedly malnourished and on the verge of starvation, owing to food shortages exacerbated by corruption and years of sanctions.

Is what you see what you get – was it ever? Oops, there goes another bank. Enemies of the People. Plus: Granny Weatherwax report – Obituary: Exxon Mobil.

“Scientific reports and articles written or cowritten by Exxon Mobil employees acknowledged that global warming was a real and serious threat. They also noted it could be addressed by reducing fossil fuel use….”

Of which, more later…

 

“That rich, creamy texture, the luxurious mouthfeel of your Black Cherry yoghurt dairy product is entirely due to the addition of flour, mashed potato and fat.”

Is what you see what you get? Was it ever?

Corn flour. Rice flour, Dried potato…

Making nachos? Tortilla maybe? Something Tex-Mex, anyway?

No, just peering more closely for the first time at the tiny-print list of ingredients in a Morrison’s ‘The Best’ yoghurt.

In recent weeks I’ve become semi-addicted to these smaller, 150g pots, as a quick snack you can’t pig on. They have great flavours: I’m hung up on their new Raspberry with Amaretto flavour, which has succeeded my thing for Key Lime Pie. I’m also a big fan of Corsican Lemon, you can taste the Corsican in it (of course he can! Innit?).

But my campaign to get rid of this medicine-ball I am carrying around on my front does not seem to have advanced much, despite the sacrifice for the past whole month of my nightly bottle of Merlot.

Now I know why.

I suppose I asked for it, really. The corn starch, the rice flour, the dried spud, the non-specified ‘flavourings’, the ‘carrot concentrate’, the salt, the dextrose, the ‘mono and di-glycerides of fatty acids’ that go to make up a healthy dairy product.

It’s all part of our increasingly dystopian present, where nothing is what it says it is on the front of the pack.

And in some ways a return to the bad old days, when grocers would adulterate comestibles like flour and sugar with cheaper ingredients or just, basically, stuff to make up extra weight on the scales. That rich, creamy texture, the luxurious mouthfeel of your Black Cherry yoghurt dairy product is entirely due to the addition of flour, mashed potato and fat.

During the war, the second one that is, coffee was rationed pretty well everywhere in Europe, on both sides, and so people of ingenuity started grinding up acorns instead of coffee beans.

It must have become an acquired taste, because after the war (UB personally dates from 1949) the BogPo remembers a filthy brown liquid substance that looked like runny Marmite, sold in bottles and marketed as ‘Camp coffee’.

God knows what it was made from then, but today the good news is you can still buy it! Mister Tesco writes:

“Chicory & Coffee Essence with added sugar. Camp is a firm family favourite as a hot drink when mixed with warm milk. Pack Size: 241ml.

  • Same servings
  • Less mess
  • Easy pour and store
  • Suitable for coffees, cakes & more”

Camp. Accept no substitute.

I’m not sure we have many firm families left nowadays that you can mix with warm milk, but more good news from the comprehensive World of Google, there’s a Camp Coffee Club you can join! “Your one stop shop for delicious recipe inspiration. We’ve got recipes for cakes, bakes, drinks & more, all with one key ingredient …” yes, New Added pathetic marketing bullshit!

But we shouldn’t attack this obvious national treasure of a brand, this democratic institution, this Great British Values coffee substitute made from a bitter salad vegetable with added sugar, in a world where you can buy 250 different delicious single-estate varieties of real ground coffee beans from every continent – albeit a Scottish invention and manufactured north of Hadrian’s wall – for doing so will bring down upon your head the wrath of Dacre, he of The Mail:

Camp coffee forced to change label by the PC brigade

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-404516/Camp-coffee-forced-change-label-PC-brigade.html#ixzz4qVHUTvG8
as I’m sure you will want to, because this is really disgraceful. (It’s also ten years ago. Get over it. Ed.)

See, those dastardly Europeans with their garlic-chewing, sovereignty-swallowing PC police had complained that the label showing a turbanned Sikh provendering a British soldier of the Raj wi’ his nightly cup o’ Camp Coffee made with Warm Milk was RACIST!

“The makers of the chicory-flavoured essence are now using an image of a Scottish soldier sitting side by side drinking coffee with a turbanned Sikh.”

(Nothing about homophobic too.)

I’m not sure whether the objection is based on the original objection, or whether the very idea of a white – more probably ginger – man sitting down to share an unhealthy sugary brew with a brown man in a turban is the problem. I should have thought the image of interracial fellowship would have been a cause for celebration, but apparently not. Certainly not at The Daily Mail, to which all foreigners are anathema. (Or as young people now say, haram.)

As with all Mail headlines, it repays the offended reader to look more closely at the story. In which case, you will read that the makers of Camp were entirely silent on the subject of political correctness: “A spokeswoman for Camp Coffee now owned by the giant McCormick foods group refused to reveal if the race criticism was the reason for the changes in the labels…”

However, it appeared that in a re-run of the Indian Mutiny of 1854, anonymised random ‘Asian shopkeepers’ were refusing to stock the brand, citing Sikh abuse.

Thus an absurd comment from The Central Scotland Racial Equality Council has welcomed the latest updating, claiming that it will “help change the mentality of young people to see how different races now relate.”

Yes, I’m sure all young Scots learn their civics from obscure product labels, especially now the schools have given up teaching the subject, and will change their mentality accordingly. Unless, that is, the Sikhs are playing for the wrong team, or queuing alone for the late-night bus.

To be fair, the list of ingredients does begin with ‘Yoghurt’ (milk). It is also 18 per cent Raspberries; which, as they are even at the height of summer still priced at an unseasonal £2 for about 20 in a plastic tray, flavoured with botrytis mould, represents excellent value; and two per cent Amaretto. So for 65 pence – 2.3 pence a gramme – you’re not getting something that’s completely ersatz; whatever ‘flavourings’ means.

However, as climate change continues to change the climate, and yearly floods and droughts drive avocados and iceberg lettuces from the shelves, keep an eye on those changing labels. Let me know when you come across your first product made with added acorns, that isn’t an actual oak forest.

Because you never know in these changing times, what you’re getting for your money.

 

“…companies need to start paying people properly”

Oops, there goes another bank.

With shades of Northern Rock, the secondary lender Provident Financial has shed 75% of its stock market value overnight as it downgraded its profit forecast from £60 million to a loss of £120 million, following the departure of the nominatively deterministic CEO, Peter Crook.

Optimistically, Mr Crook paid himself – correction, was quite properly remunerated by the committee – £6.3 million last year, while presiding over a major change in the business model of the ‘doorstep lender’, specializing in lending money at high rates of interest to people no-one else would lend to, obviously because they couldn’t pay it back.

Rocky 2? The Great Northern Run.

Less than two years after the gibbering idiots of business welcomed it in to start trading its incredibly overvalued shares on the London stock market, Provident Financial (an oxymoron if ever there was) has withdrawn its proposed dividend to shareholders, who now get nothing.

It remains to be seen if the ailing bank can remain on its feet, as there is no money left at the Treasury for bailing UK banks out to the tune of £1.3 trillion, as they did in 2008. Fortunately the loan book isn’t all that huge, about £500 million. If PF does collapse, other banks will snap that up: bad debt is good news, especially for the hedge funds.

The collapse follows a saga in which the FSA, the Financial Services Authority, expressed concern that PF relied on an army of untrained, commission-only local volunteers to sell its high-priced loans to family, friends and neighbours. As they would have no idea about the rules and regulations, the Authority recommended that PF should switch for safety to a professional salesforce. Instead, they decided in a spirit of 21st century modernity, no doubt egged-on by consultants, to go all-electronic, and the recovery rate of their loans fell off a cliff.

In addition, they’re being investigated over the propriety of a product offering to freeze people’s credit card debts – for a substantial fee, naturally.

It’s probably not the start of another major run on the banks and a new, even worse recession.

Not yet. But it’s a bellwether warning: financiers have got to learn to stop messing with these toxic products.

And companies need to start paying people properly, so they don’t have to fall back on this lethally dangerous money just to make ends meet.

Happy Birthday to Us

The newly-late SciFi author, Brian Aldiss’ readers may recall a short story of his, in which a giant advertising agency decides after a lengthy ‘blue sky’ creative session to mark the 100th anniversary of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by rolling out the mothballed Enola Gay and repeating the exercise.

Calendar-watchers will no doubt be appreciating the synchronicity of Provident Financial’s precipitous spiral into near-death, coming as it does exactly 10 years to the week since French giant BNP Paribas first put its hand up to ask nervously, where all the money had gone?

 

Granny Weatherwax

Obituary: Exxon Mobil

The New York Times, in a comprehensive study for Environmental Research Letters, has for the first time commissioned a comprehensive analysis of communications issued by and within one of the world’s largest oil and gas exploration and supply companies over the last 40 YEARS. This is what they have to say to the self-important little ‘look at me, I’m so in-denial’ troll-wankers, bought politicians who don’t give two hoots what happens to your grandchildren as long as they’ve got lots and lots of money, fake scientists and fossil-fools, the Lord Lawsuit liars of the planet:

“Our findings are clear: Exxon Mobil misled the public about the state of climate science and its implications. Available documents show a systematic, quantifiable discrepancy between what Exxon Mobil’s scientists and executives discussed about climate change in private and in academic circles, and what it presented to the general public.

“Scientific reports and articles written or cowritten by Exxon Mobil employees acknowledged that global warming was a real and serious threat. They also noted it could be addressed by reducing fossil fuel use….” – NYT, 22 Aug.

(Research was funded by Harvard University Faculty Development Funds and by the Rockefeller Family Fund, which also helped finance the reporting by Inside Climate News and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, which published its examination of Exxon Mobil with The Los Angeles Times. Top photo: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters/The Guardian)

Now watch the lawsuits fly!

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/opinion/exxon-climate-change-.html?ref=opinion&wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_todayworld

19-23 August

USA: Hurricane Harvey intensifying to Category 3 in the Gulf with sustained windspeeds of 115 mph. Thousands evacuating low-lying coastal areas. First major hurricane to make landfall in 11 years.

“An incredible amount of rain, 15 to 25 inches with isolated amounts of up to 35 inches, is predicted along the middle and upper Texas coast, because the storm is expected to stall and unload torrents for four to six straight days. The National Hurricane Center said it expects “devastating and life-threatening” flash flooding.”

Six inches of rain overnight 21st causes flash-flooding in Kansas City for the second time in two weeks, all-time record river highs. One dead.

India: 2 million displaced by floods in Uttar Pradesh, 72 dead. Rivers reach record highs. Death toll in Bihar rises to 253 since flooding first began after continuous heavy rain from 10 August. Almost 7,000 villages affected, 700 thousand people displaced.

Sierra Leone: 820 people still missing after Regent landslide, near Freetown. What caused it? Nearly 81.3 mm (11-in.) rain fell in 12 hours, 70mm in 7 hours. Weather bureau calls for better planning resilience.

Somalia famine bites. (Keydmedia.net/Google)

Somalia: deaths from starvation being reported by charities struggling to save millions trapped in three-year drought also affecting northern Nigeria. “More than 6 million Somalis — about half the country’s population — are in need of emergency aid, UN says.”

China: Typhoon Hato makes landfall near Macau. 12 confirmed dead, dozens injured, properties damaged by 128 mph gusts. Macau under 3ft of water. “The most powerful typhoon to hit Hong Kong in five years has forced schools and businesses to close, and hundreds of flights to be cancelled.”

Italy: “The incredible moment a car melted … has been captured on camera by a British tourist… The Renault Megane was parked in the coastal town of Caorle in northern Italy, as temperatures hit 37C (99F). ‘We drove past and just couldn’t believe what we were seeing. Bits of the car were literally dripping off on to the road’. The heatwave … has claimed the lives of more than 100 pensioners.”

Croatia: new wildfires raging around the town of Dubci. Wildfires burning also in Republic of Georgia.

  • Please understand: in addition to massive quantities of greenhouse gas emissions emanating from wildfires these are some of the most scenically beautiful parts of the world we are destroying, with terrible loss of wildlife.

Turkey: torrential rain on the 22nd causes violent flash flood in Kuruçasile. Roads, bridges washed away.

Switzerland: 8 people missing after “landslide on Wednesday morning sent mud, rocks and dirt flooding into the village of Bondo, near the Italian border. About 100 people were evacuated…”

UK: Heavy rainfall causes flash flood in Northern Ireland. 120 rescued, roads washed away.

World: hottest places this week include California, Medina (Saudi Arabia), Algeria – all with local temps at 106F (NB in Algeria it’s 20.00, Saudi 22.00, those are evening temps!). Lake Havasu, Arizona 104F, Conceicao Do Araguaia (Brazil), Mauretania at 102F.

  • It’s minus 62F, -52.2C at the Scott-Amundsen base, South Pole, so much for global warming, haha!

Climate and Extreme Weather News #57/ Floodlist/ Washington Post/ Sky News/ Daily Mail/ BBC News/ WX.Now

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“I dug deep into the festering piles of songbooks under the piano and there it was…”

Without a song…

I was raised on The Great American Songbook, as musicians like to call that vast body of work produced in the 1930s, 40s and 50s in what used to be known as Tin Pan Alley.

My parents being theatricals, they and their frequently gay actor friends had camp tastes in music. It was the beginning of the 12-inch LP age, and we had acquired a smart new radiogram with a six-stack autochange Garrard turntable. I grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Marlene Dietrich – later, Barbra Streisand.

I thought later on when I first came out of the closet as a jazz singer that I knew pretty much most of it, that’s still performed, and could recall most of the lyrics, about 70 per cent – and the melodies, about 90 per cent – maybe 60 songs, some of which I endeavour to learn properly these days in order to perform them on the rare occasions, usually in workshop situations, when I get to sing at an audience. (If only I could find a piano player locally who knows the canon and doesn’t want paying!)

Which is why I’m constantly surprised still to be stumbling across songs I’ve never even heard before, that have been around for decades, and everyone else seems to know them and I don’t.

For instance, there’s a beautiful song by Raph Rainger, lyrics by Leo Robin, from an instantly forgettable film called Rose of the Rancho, starring John Boles and Gladys Swarthout (Who they? Ed.)

The New York Times critic wrote of this 1936 remake of the 1914 Cecil B de Mille silent original: “Gladys Swarthout’s voice can be heard, if you listen carefully, above the groans and bone-creakings of the plot”. The song has fared better. I ‘discovered’ If I Should Lose You only a couple of months ago when I heard a heartstopping instrumental version by Chet Baker on an album of duets with the Canadian pianist Paul Bley, and thought, I’ll bet there are lyrics to that….

My search for them turned up literally dozens of interpretations of the song on YouTube from artists as diverse as Nina Simone, Carmen McRae, Charlie Parker, Sadao Watanabe and even Archie Shepp.

It was an eye-opener. Yet after failing to find anything more than a chord chart on the indefatigable iRealPro app, nor in the vasty reaches of the internet thing, I dug deep into the festering piles of songbooks under the piano and there it was, in the second edition of the first volume of The Real Vocal Book, the green one (the cover’s actually turned blue with age), on page 161.

So now I know it.

I think one of the strangest ‘new’ musicians I’ve stumbled across like this in my ongoing online researches (that usually end with me calling in to the Amazon store and ordering the goddam CD, which is why I’ve had to give up drinking) is ‘Simone’ (Bettancourt de Oliviera), singer, basketball player and Rio club owner.

Simone: Brazilian legend.

I came across her (?) only yesterday while browsing through dozens of versions of another song I’d never heard before, that everyone else apparently is intimately familiar with. This, despite my years of listening to, collecting and singing Brazilian jazz from the 1960s and 70s: The Island (in its English translation – ‘Começar de Novo’ in the original) is seemingly an unbelievably well-known song by the popular singer-songwriter, Ivan Lins.

Simone is incredibly famous in Brazil. She’s made over 32 albums, worked with all the greats of Brazilian music, was described by Quincy Jones as one of the greatest singers in the world (I expect he says that to all the girls), and reportedly once attracted an audience of 150 thousand to a stadium concert. ‘Começar’ is listed as her greatest hit.

Yet as I approach my 68th birthday I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of her, or the song, before. And it’s been recorded by people like (actually there were never any other people like) Sarah Vaughan, Johnny Mathis, Shirley Horn, Patti Austin, Barbra Streisand – and in a smoochily erotic version, by Jane Monheit*. The English lyrics by Marilyn Bergman are almost pornographic, as the song is in fact the theme to a long-running, steamy TV soap-opera detailing the lives and loves of an oil-industry dynasty. (No, it’s not Dynasty. Keep it together.)

And here is Simone too, on YouTube, singing Começar de Novo alongside Lins at the piano. She has a habit, it seems, of kissing all her collaborators daintily on the cheek – look, there she’s doing it again to the great Milton Nascimento, possibly the most unlikely-looking singing star ever, the Brazilian equivalent of Ed Sheeran – the strange thing being, a former national team basketball player, Simone looks to be over six feet tall, she’s got a deeper voice than I have, and I’m a bass-baritone.

Not for nothing, therefore, does one suspect that this glamorous, sequinned Caster Semenya of the music world – middle-of-the-road, heavily orchestrated jazz, I suppose – with (if I may say so in this day and age) a pleasingly well-developed cleavage – well, as it says in the warning note at the top of her fulsome Wikipedia entry, This article has multiple issues.

It’s truly a great song, but the chords look horrendously difficult. I may not be singing it anytime soon.

*People often stop to ask me, what has happened to Jane Monheit? One of the most beautiful voices in jazz, ever; technically accomplished, now 40 Jane seems sadly to have been swallowed up by the plangently-orchestrated, slushy middle-of-the-road commercial end of the industry, guesting on US TV ‘specials’; perhaps understandably, since there’s no money in jazz – while her much commented-upon body dysmorphia problem has rather pushed her out of the limelight. Shame.

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Enemies of the People

Mr Trump’s latest ‘poor little me’ assault on the enemies of the people, the bad, bad mans in the failing fake news media who hate America and say such nasty lies about him lying about stuff and supporting bad Nazis, some of whom are great people, is fine in my book.

I’m pissed off (again) with the BBC.

If Brexit means that British businesses are going to have to cut deals with the remaining 27 countries of the EU, either collectively or individually, it’s pretty bloody clear, isn’t it, that their exports and activities on the faraway Continent are going to have to come under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

The ECJ is the ultimate arbiter of actions brought inside the EU. Twenty-seven countries seem perfectly happy with that. The 28th isn’t.

That’s us. So we’re leaving.

So let’s say you’re a manufacturer in Nuneaton of – I don’t know, tins of beans. And you sell a tin of beans to a housewife in Latvia, and it’s full of botulism and her kids get sick.

Is some Empire Loyalist lunatic in the failing conspiracy known as Brexit, Peter Bone or John Redwood, some dismal throwback like Rees-Mogg going to stand up red-faced, waving his little Union flag, and shout Shame! Give us back our Sovereignty! when the case finally arrives at the ECJ, rather than the Supreme Court in London?

The best these useless cunts (Conservative and Unionist Neo-Thatcherites) can manage to save the day for their dumbfuck Brexit supporters is to propose that we set up an arbitration service, obviously not a court, somewhere in the middle of the Channel, providing lucrative work for indigent QCs who aren’t judges, no, really not, but who will arbitrate or, as it were, judge with, er, foreign counterparts in disputes involving British poisoned beans in Latvia, cases that have come up through the lower courts in, er, possibly Riga.

In other words, the exact counterpart to the ECJ, which at the moment has British judges on the panel and arbitrates in legal disputes. Only we shan’t be losing control of ‘our laws’, our superior ‘British laws’, that won’t apply in Latvia….

This is all so fucking infantile. Embarrassingly so. Toys out of the pram time. We have perfectly good arrangements already to arbitrate in appelate courts all the way up to the Supreme Court in the UK, just as they may do in Latvia, or in any of the rest of the EU, and only rarely is it necessary to appeal above everyone’s heads to Luxemburg, and the Supreme Court really doesn’t mind, because that’s how courts work and it’s more jobs for the boys and girls.

The only people who mind are the cunts, because they’ve promised the dumbfucks that Britain is going to be Great again, and that means total isolation from the Continent, 26 miles away, and its 450 million garlic-munching foreigners.

So I do rather object to the fatuous questioning by Mr Ed Stourton on The World at One today, in which he repeatedly pressed his ministerial guest to break down and confess that the official government position was now that we would still be ‘subservient’ to the ECJ’s decisions after Brexit,  thwarting the legitimate demands of the British People, was it?

It is as if Britain is, what? So fucking great, so important, so superior, so deserving, so – English, that we simply cannot believe in the necessity of economic and security co-operation with neighbouring countries in a globalizing world unless we make the rules. Christ, it’s so sickening, this barbed-wire British exceptionalism: ‘regaining control of our own laws’, our ‘borders’…. It’s a nonsense, and Brexit memes like: ‘none of the foreign students ever goes home’ have been shown by the Home Office finally releasing accurate figures to be gross lies.

Brexit is a complete fraud, a myth served up like a dish of kippers for the minor myriad of dumbfucks who thought it was all going to be so easy, that they only had to tick a box marked Leave, all the hated foreigners would do exactly that and Britain would immediately be Great again, after years of shameful ‘subservience’ to the inferior species across the water.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

And so completely fucking pointless.

 

Special edition: Weird Stuff. Sea recedes mysteriously etcetera. Congratulations on the weather report, BBC. Paranoia corner: Apoceclypse Now!Thar She Blows! Obituary: So farewell Daedalus

Sea recedes mysteriously etcetera

The scene at Montevideo when the sea receded. Possibly.

On the 13th of August, according to several flaky looking websites such as SOTT.com (Signs of the Times) and JewWorldOrder, the sea rapidly and mysteriously retreated from around Montevideo in Uruguay, up to Porto del Este in neighbouring Brazil, when low tide was not expected.

Fearing a tsunami, people ran for high ground; however, none came, and the waters returned of their own accord some hours later. No large earthquakes were reported in the region at the time.

The phenomenon was matched, according to MrMBB333, one of those internet weather-watchers, unofficial meteorologists with access to satellite imagery, by correspondingly large waves on the other side of the Atlantic, in Africa. (He may be confusing it with a storm surge that flooded the seafront at Durban in March.)

At the same time, too, other sites were reporting 40-foot waves slamming into the west coast of South America, again apparently for no reason – although there were eight active cyclones in the Pacific region last week, and a couple of M6 subsea earthquakes. No other report of these occurrences can be found in the normal media, but there has been a suggestion that the world may be expanding, possibly owing to the lack of sunspot activity, or the gravitational effects of the close approach of the invisible planet X Nibiru.

The sea retreating story was also covered by Disclose.TV, an entertaining conspiracies and new world order website. So, given the provenance, and the degree of retweeting going on, and the fact that it didn’t make the mainstream media, you’d say it’s probably not a verifiable tale. Fake nooze.

Yet the BogPo has a curious feeling that there’s a truth to it; it has some explanation, and visual evidence. The conspiracy websites, as well as making stuff up completely, often report real-world events but with their own weird spin on them. They’re not all entirely ‘fakin’ unbelievable if you can just get at the core facts.

MBB333 goes on to discuss something called The South American Roll, a theory that the entire continent is moving as a result of almost all the live volcanoes and seismic activity in South America occurring, as they do, on the west coast, acting like an outboard motor.

There has indeed recently been a flurry of activity, volcanoes popping off and a swarm of mid-range earthquakes all down the coasts of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. Indeed, it’s been observable right around the Pacific so-called ‘Ring of Fire’. Could that possibly create pressures that would cause the whole continental plate to rock, briefly lifting the seabed off the west coast? It’s a big place, South America. Heavy. And if the plate (known as a ‘craton’) tilted, you might notice the rivers on the east coast running slower, or even backward? Or could strong lunar pull just have created a supertide?

The Roll does in fact have its own web page, it turns out. South American Roll Watch posts to an incredibly weird site called Earth Changes and the Pole Shift, where strange people contribute cryptic comments in unusual forms of English to a forum on tectonic plate movement and the position of magnetic North.

Bona fide geologists describe tectonics as happening slower than your fingernails are growing, which may account for the general excitement level on the site, which looks not to have been touched since 2010, and ‘the impending pole shift’ – the belief that a periodic flipping of the poles every so many tens of thousands of years is due to create global mayhem any minute now.

However, analysis of the information provided by a mysterious couple, or maybe a group, known as the Zetas suggests that the South American Roll theory predicts a much more violent event. In a curious mixture of scientific-sounding analysis and apocalyptic visions it appears the roll will be more south to north rather than west to east, the continent breaking across the middle creating huge tsunamis in the Caribbean, wiping out whole islands; and inundating the whole of what is now Argentina north of Patagonia. At least, that’s what I think their somewhat crudely drawn maps are telling us.

A similar unusual tidal retreat of about 60 extra metres was observed in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula in 2011:

“The sea began to ebb the arrival of Tuesday afternoon, after the rain left a beautiful rainbow in the sky. Many people took the opportunity to walk along the beach and observe the phenomenon, and collected some shells and snails.”

It sounds rather lovely; nicer than the Zeta’s description of the continent buckling and folding in half across the broken back of the Andes:

“In addition to what will happen to the land mass, we have mentioned exploding volcanoes very near at hand, and water rushing completely over such lowlands as the Yucatan and Panama. How have we failed to relay what is coming? If total destruction does not occur during the 7 of 10*, it will during the hour of the pole shift if not before that time.”

Indeed, to look at the predicted disasters due to result from gravitational effects on the movement of the continental plates, we are supposed to be about to witness as much geological change in a few hours as the earth has not experienced in the last 60 million years. Better buckle up and hang on.

It seems low tides are also getting lower at Acapulco, in Mexico.

Another reason being ‘floated’ for the unexpected tidal outsurge is there’s a massive storm out in the Atlantic that’s created a low-pressure bulge in the ocean surface, drawing water towards it from the coast. Only none has been reported. The sea can be a fickle mistress, and the BogPo’s advice is to admire it from a nearby clifftop or hotel balcony if you want to live a long and happy life.

Lots of heads and horns: the 7 of 10. Or something. (lightofthegentiles.com/Google)

Currently, there are five major weather systems that are threatening to become hurricanes. These ‘tropical waves’ are pulsing in a chain across the equator from West Africa where they have brought devastating rains, epecially in Sierra Leone where a thousand people may have died in the huge landslip that engulfed a village near Freetown at the weekend. Hurricane Gert is a weak Force 1 that developed out in the Atlantic but is heading northeast away from land. Tropical Storm Harvey is strengthening into a hurricane as it approaches the Leeward Islands. A special watch is being kept on the Freetown system as it barrels out to sea.

So the storm-sucking theory is not improbable, although Montevideo is quite far south of the tropics. One other suggestion being touted around is, of course, that a crack has opened up under the ocean. Mysterious cracks have indeed been reported in Peru, in Mexico, at Yellowstone….

Familysurvivalheadlines.com reported the bare-beaches story with an attribution of origin to another site, Weseekthetruth.com. There, other headline stories concern the pyramids discovered in Bosnia, and a government Paranormal Activity warning out for North Carolina.

The BogPo wonders if they’re seeking the truth quite hardenough.com?

We should possibly remind ourselves gently that the total solar eclipse due to track its way across the USA on Monday is creating inspired millennarian chaos all over the conspiracy community; while I see the Russians have realized, they only need to drop a small nuke on Yellowstone and it’s all over for the seven-horned Trump administration.

Watch that space!

 

*The 7 of 10. I’ve looked it up so you don’t have to. It’s either a geological probability, the number referring to the timing of the impending shift of the poles, a system devised by the Zetas, or it’s the 7 heads and 10 horns of the Beast in Revelations 13. Prophecy Ministers’ Focus on Jerusalem website explains it thus:

 “As previously mentioned, most students of prophecy are agreed that this beast represents the kingdom of Greece after it was divided into four parts following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. This agrees with the prophecy in Daniel 8 which also shows the four fold division of the Greek Empire in the form of 4 Horns on a goat, and specifically identifies Greece (vv. 21-22). In the case of chapter 7’s 4-Headed leopard, then, the Heads are kingdoms.”

Got that? Can we move on? Great.

Postscriptum:

A rare M4.9 earthquake was reported by several agencies in Bahia province, northern Brazil, on the 13th August. No USGS record of the quake has been published. Is the continent tilting? They need to know.

 

“More than 16 million people have now been affected by seasonal flooding across a swathe of South Asia, say aid officials. The floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India are thought to have killed about 500 people and are expected to worsen. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says it is becoming one of the worst regional humanitarian crises in years. There are growing concerns about food shortages and disease.” – BBC News, 18 August.

Congratulations on the weather report, BBC.

The BBC finally catches up with the real weather news, reporting that 500 people have died and 16 million are affected by flooding in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The floods in the region have been going on for the best part of three months – see many previous Posts. Thailand and Myanmar (Burma), the south islands of Japan and New Zealand have all experienced severe flooding, as have the southern and southeastern United States, Mexico and Central America, West Africa and northern eastern Europe – with violent flash floods in many other parts of the world, from Switzerland and Russia to Nepal.

They’ll almost certainly discover next week to their amazement that large swathes of central and SE China have also been underwater for about the same length of time. Everywhere else is under a 100F-plus heatwave, droughted, on fire and/or experiencing violent storms, often of ice or snow. A wildfire can be seen from space – burning in Greenland. A 2,000-mile plume of smoke from Siberian wildfires is polluting the Arctic, where the temperature is 8C warmer than the 1981 to 2001 average.

But of course, climate change will have nothing to do with it. That would be taking sides in the debate between the entire world’s scientific community and Lord Lawson of Blaby, a senile old change-denying ghoul dug up from the Thatcher era, with no scientific credentials*, and the BBC can’t be seen to be doing that.

Preposterous bunch of half-arsed tossers.

NASA: has July 2017 tied with July 2016 as the hottest months on record. July 2017 was 2.25°C (4.05°F) warmer than the annual global mean 1980-2015 (seasonal cycle). Only in August 2016 was it warmer (2.29°C), but then again, August 2017 looks set to be warmer than that yet. Arctic sea ice extent tied with 2012 low but total volume less; expected gone by mid-September.

Arctic News: scientists calculate, a rise of 10°C (18°F) could occur by the year 2026, based on temperature anomalies from 1750 for February and on progressive growth of warming elements. “Crucial will be the decline of snow & sea ice and associated feedbacks.”

Crimea: violent storm, 3ft flash flooding in city of Sudak. Water turns blood-red from the tail-lights of parked cars as alarms are set off.

Side note: Watching endless cameraphone uploads of this kind of flooding from all over the world in the past few weeks, especially in provincial cities, the BogPo has been struck by the symbolism of hundreds upon hundreds of cars being – visibly – flushed away down streets become raging rivers, tossed aside by gales and dumped impotently atop one another, as if to underscore the nature of the problem. Yet it barely seems to stop people driving.

Hong Kong: authorities raise approaching Typhoon Hato to highest threat level 10. Makes landfall at Macau, 3 dead, 2 missing.

Ukraine: large wildfires burning along the Russian border near Rostov.

Bangladesh: ‘35%’ of the country is underwater.

Nepal: floods. 80% crop losses, stores ruined, food prices double.

Northern India: millions of acres of Assam still underwater. Death toll in Bihar rises to 202, 46 in Uttar Pradesh, 60 in West Bengal.

Congo (DRC): ‘at least’ 200 dead in landslide that buries fishing village following torrential rains.

Sierra Leone: death toll in Freetown landslip tops 400. ‘Hundreds’ still missing.

Thailand: Sai river bursts its banks. Chiang Rai underwater.

USA: Lolo Peak, Montana – fires burning for over a month flare up again after lightning strikes. 1,600 evacuated. Washington state: wildfires force evacuations. Multiple tornadoes in Midwest, storms in Minnesota, Texas cause widespread damage, power outages. Rivers flooding around Dallas, Texas.

Canada: wildfires in British Columbia and Northwest Territories break all official records, approaching 1m acres affected.

Portugal: Public ‘calamity’ declared as wildfires continue to rage in the central regions; 2,000 still ‘cut off’ in the town of Macão. No respite in hot, windy conditions.

Austria, Southern Germany: more severe storms disrupt festivals, cause local flooding.

Nicaragua: winds strengthening, 80% chance of developing tropical storm/hurricane – heavy rainfall for Belize, Yucatan.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #56/ France 24/ Al Jazeera/ Euronews/ Arctic News

*Out of curiosity, the BogPo Googled: ‘Who is funding Lord Lawson?’ (he refuses to say) and came up with an investigation into his ‘Global Warming Policy Foundation’ by the Left Foot Forward website from June 2010 that shows Lawson is highly sensitive about that question, indeed merely to ask it is, he says, ‘actionable’. Especially as there appear allegedly to be multiple third-party connections to Exxon Mobil and a number of East European energy companies.

leftfootforward.org/2010/06/lawson-still-wont-come-clean-about-sceptic-foundations-funding/

What a cancerous old corpse.

Why does the BBC still insist on exhuming Lawson, dripping with soil and maggots, to ‘balance’ any story in which climate change is mentioned as a probable subject for discussion? They must surely realize it has gone way beyond that? Opposing an objective ‘expert’ truth against a manifest ‘non-expert’ lie is not balance, it is insanity.

Postscriptum:

For an interesting long read on the political debate over Climate Change policy, go to:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/07/climate-change-denial-scepticism-cynicism-politics

On the other hand, as you probably know, the BogPo is not of the opinion that there is any further debate to be had.

The merest suggestion that there is anything to be decided – or, increasingly, anything to be done – is to play into the hands of the Energy sector, their corrupted proxies in government, the yellow-bellied scum in the well-funded academic ‘denier’ community and the vile PR campaigners sowing rumour-mongered doubt to stave off what they knew decades ago should have been inevitable policy changes and restrictions on their shareholder greed.

The scientific principles behind warming have been known for over 100 years, the evidence is there for all to see, the Energy giants knew all this decades ago, they have admitted that they’ve been lying, there is no ‘debate’. The planet is not in fact ‘cooling’. Sea ice is not ‘expanding’. The sun is not ‘getting hotter’. Volcanoes are not ‘responsible for all the CO2’. Plants and plankton cannot ‘absorb all the CO2’. Wildfires are contributing as much to global warming as governments have been saving through their inadequate greener energy policies.

Climatologists are not weather forecasters, climate is not ‘the weather’. It is impossible to accurately forecast local outcomes from climate models: that is not what is required of them. You cannot use that to berate the scientific community: ‘Oh, but you said… nah ni nah’. It’s just childish. All the trendlines are converging on imminent catastrophe, irreversible tipping-points have already been reached or exceeded.

In combination with man-made environmental degradation and climate-induced crop failures food insecurity is already being seen, prices are rising and those who, it is claimed by the ‘New Optimists’, are being ‘lifted out of extreme poverty’ by the tens of thousands every day will soon find themselves back in it. Drastic action needs to be taken: Paris is not enough.

Get your facts straight and fucking WAKE UP.

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Paranoia corner: Apoceclypse Now!

Well folks, it’s the 21st of August, Total Apoceclypse, and the paranoid Trumpfucks are out in force on YouTube. Principal among weird theories abounding this morning:

  • NASA (an offshoot of the Illuminati founded under the Obama regime) is using the eclipse to smuggle climate-changing alien bacteria into the stratosphere.
  • The eclipse was predicted in an episode of The Simpsons.
  • They’re not telling us everythin’, we need to evacuate Wyoming now.
  • The 33rd degree eclipse splits the nation in half, causing civil war. (btw, Jesus was 33 when he died, so this is a very special occasion…)
  • “Native Americans are advising to stay indoors. It is a time for reflection. The energy levels will be very high. Do not go to the water and observe this eclipse.”
  • “The oldest most ancient truths called Nuwaubu reveals the truth of the cycles and luminaries of the sky.”

‘zac deshazo’ writes: “This is spot on about rahu causing eclipses…ive been banging my head against the wall trying to explain this to anyone who will listen…THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS VIDEO!” (narrator informs us the sun is moving, it’s not the earth!)

I’m sorry, people, American is not a race, so I don’t think I’m being especially racist when I have to say, you’re all fucking nuts. Is this what you get with Obamacare? How did the rest of us ever come to believe the crazy idea that America leads the world when you haven’t evolved since the Stone Age, when dinosaurs ruled the earth?

(Yes, there are whited-out letter ‘x’s between all the different stories on my Posts. It doesn’t mean anything, okay? It’s just to stop the stories colliding with fucking Planet X Nibiru. Jesus, get a grip.)

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Thar She Blows!

Half of America seems to imagine that some magical cosmic effect of the total solar eclipse tomorrow will cause the Yellowstone supervolcano to erupt with terrifying, probably world-ending consequences.

Signs and portents of natural wonders. (Photo: National Geographic, I think. Sorry.)

It’s been pretty lively lately, more than 60 straight days with up to 62 small earthquakes in a day and the three domes in the huge caldera all rising alarmingly as magma (estimated at 7 cubic kilometres) floods the chamber beneath at a depth of barely a mile.

The authorities, of course, especially the evil US Geological Survey, aren’t telling us the truth. They’re deliberately suppressing half the earthquake reports, the web cameras keep getting shut off, the info on gas releases is being doctored, and they’re still letting the public in and the bison roam to avoid scaring people. Just look at the colour of the steam, it’s obvious!

So you can forgive a certain increase in the panic level at a story attributed to our own, much loved Daily Mail, the rattiest garbage sink in the country, that NASA scientists are proposing to ‘cool the magma down’ by FRACKING in the caldera.

It might take quite a lot of water to cool 7 cubic kilometres of 1,000-degree hot magma, one suspects, while the instant any quantity of water is introduced, superheated steam is produced and the whole fucking thing is gonna blow, with an estimated death toll of 25 million.

It will certainly take the nation’s mind off the woes of the White House, but no-one we suspect has any faith in the ability of their inept and profoundly ignorant administration to handle a fart in a bubblebath.

Has anyone noticed, the volume of plots and alchemical potions ascribed to NASA since Trump and his friend Bannon seized power has increased exponentially? NASA is the new Empire of Evil, apparently.

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Obituary: So farewell Daedalus

News comes that whacky science writer, the physical chemist David Jones, better known to science buffs as Daedalus, has died at the age of 79.

Bronze-age flyer: Daedalus casting off. (Google/Shelf3D.com)

His Daedalus column appeared weekly as the endpiece in New Scientist for many years, before transferring to The Guardian. Married unsuccessfully for only one year of his life, a poignant factoid, he also featured in front of, and behind, the cameras in a number of TV shows dedicated to quirky scientific ideas.

He was astonishingly prescient with many of his more way-out inventions, including chemical lasers that could shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles (15 years later forming the basis of Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars programme), and folding hexagonal carbon atoms into ‘football’-shaped molecules, an idea that three years later turned into the Nobel prizewinning (alas, not for him) ‘Buckyballs’, or Buckminsterfullerene.

He also seems to have accurately foreshadowed Brexit Britain, 29 years before the referendum. From The Guardian obituary:

“In 1987 he was the subject of a BBC QED programme, which realised one of his inventions: a bus on which each passenger was given a steering wheel, and which then proceeded in a “majority” direction.”

 

Footnote:

Readers may notice that I have ‘liked’ this piece myself. I have done so on behalf of ‘Unlimbited Tree Service’, who I was advised in an email from WordPress had Liked this piece, but whose Like has not appeared below as it should in theory have done.

Thank you.

He must be removed from office, now. Long Essay: Is there sense in Trump’s nonsense? Words from the wise. Granny W update. Mr What did you say your name was?

He must be removed from office, now

It is as foolish for Americans to believe that their generals will save them from Trump as it was for liberal Germans to believe the military would protect the nation from Hitler’s excesses.” – 94-year-old

The principle that when one finds oneself at the bottom of a deep, dark hole one really ought to stop digging, has not occurred to the Golden Glow as he sinks ever lower in the mire of public opprobrium.

Can you tell the difference? Welcome to Trumpworld.

The Pumpkin has argued (below) that Trump’s crass attempts at ‘jury-out’ neutrality in the furious debate over neo-Nazis being confronted by radical protesters, in which he said some incredibly stupid things prompting defections from his advisory councils and excoriation from formerly supportive members of his Republican Congress, even from his friends at Fox News, were at least understandable, until they weren’t.

The basis for a wholesale historical revision and the removal of all evidential symbols of the losing Confederacy in the 1861 Civil War is profoundly flawed, as that war was NOT about racial division, except inasmuch as slavery underpinned the economic foundations of the southern states. The Jim Crow laws followed emancipation, they did not precede it.

Nevertheless the President’s refusal to condemn specifically the racist and anti-Semitic slogan-chanting white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched provocatively and with, in some instances, extreme violence through Charlottesville and the campus of the University of West Virginia last Friday and Saturday has been widely held as evidence of his racist sympathies.

It has been explained charitably in some quarters as being just ‘grandad racism’ – the idea that the senior generation was brought up with a disparaging view of the coloured minorities and therefore can’t help themselves. If that is the case, the President should have kept it within the family. Even his family have rounded on him.

Into this morass, egged on by Mr David Duke, Mr Richard Spencer and other not0rious racialists, in the wake of the latest Islamist terrorist outrage in Spain the idiot President has waded yet again, advocating the shooting of Muslims with bullets dipped in pig’s blood as a salutary corrective.

Is he insane?

I don’t think the horrific implications of his latest deranged tweet have yet sunk in. The mainstream media is still obsessed with reaction to his pro-Nazi statements and are not focussing on the even more damaging later reference to a supposedly punitive action by General Pershing during the war the Americans prosecuted against the Spanish in the Philippines in 1899, a mass execution featuring a religious desecration that ended Islamist terrorism ‘for 35 years’.

There was no such incident. It never happened.

The media has not yet understood that even though Mr Trump only raised the Pershing myth (again – he referred to it during the campaign primaries) at this juncture as some kind of – what? What can we charitably offer, some kind of useful precedent? –  he was clearly amplifying a vilely racist agenda replete with historical falsehood and Islamophobic memes.

Not only that, but for a US President to, effectively, recommend the punitive executions of Muslims as a deterrent to further acts of terrorism on the streets of European cities is just astonishing. Does he not understand that the blather he tweets as the senior representative of US domestic and foreign policy has official status, with global repercussions?

Does he not understand that he is exhorting racists to ethnic violence in his own country?

Does he not know from history that such violence only leads to more acts of terror?

Does he not realize that the ‘pig libel’ has the same resonance for Muslims as the ‘blood libel’ for Jews?

He is a complete imbecile.

Even if – especially if – he is instead calculating that perpetuating this nonsense will deflect attention from the investigations into his and his son-in-law’s illegal money-laundering operations complicit with international organized crime, HE MUST BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE, NOW.

How many more times does it have to be said?

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Long essay

“George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slaveowner? So will George Washington now lose his statues? Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson, you like him? … Because he was a major slaveowner … you’re changing history.” – the Wit and Wisdom of Donald J Trump.

Is there sense in Trump’s nonsense?

There are no words with which one can excuse the President of the United States for having a knowledge of American history that would disgrace a third-grader.

However, it is a fact that both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave owners.

The tie definitely adds something: Charlottesville 2017. (photo: splcentre.org)

Nor did the rest of his New York press conference on Tuesday make as much sense. He is clearly not right in the head, not ‘mentally ill’ or a man with ‘learning difficulties’ but a man with serious cognitive impairment, developed quite recently – he is 71 – and a profound ignorance of matters beyond his private obsessions, who cannot marshal facts and figures or add two and two to come up with four. He lives in his own reality, and that makes him unfit to be President with the nuclear codes constantly at his side.

He has perhaps rightly come under attack from all sides, the media, his own party, even his own daughter, for failing to rise with sufficient urgency to the occasion and outrightly condemning white racist violence and Nazi posturing on the streets of Charlottesville, West Virginia. Instead, he seemed to be protecting a part of his support base by condemning violence ‘on all sides’, thus outraging the anti-racist left and the triumphalist liberal media, who have branded him a ‘racist’ for not saying the right words. Unfair.

On Sunday, he read a prepared speech off an autocue making that grudging condemnation they were all demanding, averring that Nazis and racists had no place in American life; then on Tuesday in front of the assembled press, whom he had supposedly come to talk to about infrastructure, he seemed to row back in an improvised, incoherent riff on whatever he had said 48 hours earlier.

Among the scrambled ingredients of his word-salad, one could objectively pick out the following:

Both sides were to blame. The jury was out. He had not wanted to inflame the situation further by blaming one side or the other. The leftists had armed themselves provocatively with sticks. The rightists had a permit to march, the leftists didn’t. The killing of Heather Heyer was a terrible thing. She was a lovely girl. There were good people among the Nazis. The driver of the car must be punished.

Does that not sound like a reasonable, indeed Presidential, position? Even when you take in the breathtaking nonsense about Heyer’s mother praising his wonderful words, and the torrent of mind-bendingly awful rodomontade, there is a grain of truth in that Mrs Bro also called for an end to the violence and no recriminations, although she has said nothing to him.

The problem with Trump’s perceived attitude to the so-called alt-right starts way back. For this is far from the first time Trump has failed to condemn racist violence, white terrorism and expressions of anti-Semitism – despite his own son-in-law being an Orthodox Jew and his favourite daughter a convert – in the same bald terms with which he has condemned Islamist terrorism.

He just doesn’t seem to get the message that the President is EXPECTED to say the right things in response to any of the normal range of outrages and disasters that befall all countries from time to time, whatever his personal opinions are. It goes with the job.

Just as Trump was culpably never able to separate his personal finances from those of his businesses and his tax-exempt ‘charity’ foundation, so he has been unable to separate the role and office of President from the forty-five year-long performance that has been Donald J Trump Inc. He is bungling and bluffing and bullying and prevaricating his way through, as usual, and that’s not good enough for a President.

But now, look.

The wave of historical revisionism that is sweeping the south is, in the view of The Pumpkin, a Bad Thing.

William Tecumseh Sherman: Union General advocated the genocide of Native Americans

It’s bad because it’s providing a casus belli for the millions of white Southerners for whom the defeat in 1865 remains a raw wound. If you think that sounds silly, try living in Wales, as the Pumpkin does, where 800 years of history has never really wiped away the memory of conquest and the centuries of cultural oppression that followed.

In pursuit of their victory, the Union committed many atrocities, including the burning of Atlanta. Under Sherman they operated a scorched-earth policy to starve the South into submission. The victory was characterized by savage reprisals, rapes, repression and the ‘carpetbagging’ of the Southern agrarian economy by Northern businessmen; the utter humiliation of the South.

The removal and demolition of the tokens to their dead and the symbols of their identity looks today like nothing less than the North seeking to take further revenge for the act of sedition by the 11 states of the Confederacy; a deeper desecration of their culture and values. There are worse behaviours than racism.

The Civil War was NOT fought over the question of racial divisions. Black soldiers fought on both sides. It is more complex: the slavery issue was only one part of what were perceived as cultural and economic differences between the Confederate states and the industrializing North, and their foreign alliances. Slavery was a symbol of the conservatism of the South, but the agricultural productivity it made possible benefited the Old World too. It increasingly became a rallying point for the Union only as the war progressed.

There is a difference between racism and racialism. Racism is the negative perception of, and sometimes a willingness to act upon, perceived physiognomical or cultural differences as determined by place of origin. It is a form of tribalism. Racialism is the discredited C19th pseudo-scientific theory that there is a hierarchy of human intelligences and capabilities categorizing the ‘races’, in which white Europeans sit at the top and the black man at the bottom.

Southern racialism can be traced to the ‘Manifest Destiny’ programme of the Democrats, but it was the emancipation following the war that brought about the Jim Crow laws and racial segregation in the south as poor white and freed black farmers competed for land and subsidies, both with one another and with Northern land-grabbers consolidating their spoils.

In other words, Civil War mementoes are only tangentially symbols of racism, but they are an important focus for Southern resentments and, yes, nationalist pride.

Now. In every country where these things are done, there are statues and plaques and other symbolic reminders of great and heroic deeds in the past. There is always moral ambiguity attached to them. My country, Britain, is bristling with statues to victorious Victorian politicians and valorous generals who won asymmetrical battles with overwhelming firepower against colonial subjects; as well as landed estates and grand country houses built on the proceeds of slavery.

The country has a profoundly ambiguous attitude to its imperial past, that is viewed with growing unease in our multicultural society. But should we tear the symbols of the past down, pretend it never happened? Or should we understand how important it is that we do see them in their proper context and try to learn from them? You cannot manage a country on the degree of offence incomers take at its history.

Many people here still have immense pride in what they perceive as the outstanding achievement of our small island nation in creating and defending the largest empire the world has ever seen. They are happy to remain in ignorance of how it was done, or they argue that, well, that’s just how you do these things. You cannot separate empire from conquest, all victories are glorious.

Others are ashamed of it, the way it was done – proceeding through first adventurous, then rapacious and increasingly repressive commercialism to outright military occupation and bloody reprisals against dissenters, in response to the growing commercial pressures of the home population, the demand for goods and commodities from the aspiring consumerist middle-class.

In this, the week of the 70th anniversary of the partition of India, we are reminded of the horrendous aftermath, the bloodbath that ensued. More than a million people died in a mass slaughter between neighbours as the Islamic and Hindu and Sikh populations were forced to give up their lands and homes and migrate to new territories delineated on religious lines by Congress at the behest of the British authorities. We recall the subsequent three wars between the new nations, the festering dispute that continues even now between the two nuclear-armed powers over Kashmir.

Looking at this history, who can possibly argue that colonialism and the racial and religious divisions it perpetuates has ever benefited anyone, other than capitalists and commodity brokers? Just as the business owners’ needs are met by ensuring the cheapest profitable supply of labour, so the capitalists supply the need of the greater population for cheaper goods. To those mutually beneficial ends, there are reckoned to be 37 million people labouring under conditions of actual and virtual slavery in the world today.

What ended transatlantic slavery was the argument, at first in Britain, where the trade in slaves was outlawed as early as 1808, that workers had both their own interests and essential humanity in common, regardless of colour, and were worthy of dignity in labour. The nascent British Trade Unions campaigned for an end to slavery itself. Ironically it was Socialism, more than Christianity, that brought the vile practice to an end.

So there is a case for saying, tear down the symbols of colonialism, the vainglorious statues to historical men (and a few women) of action, whose attitudes and times were so very different from our own. But were they?

If you are going to censor the tributes to slaver Confederate generals like Lee and Jackson, should you not also tear down the statues of the Union victors, Grant and Sherman, as a mark of distaste for their undoubted war crimes?  Because the name and likeness of anyone connected with the prosecution of the Civil War is going to remind us that racism was (and still is) the only crime endemic to the USA? Are you saying racism was (and still is) not also a Northern phenomenon?

And is it wrong that commemorations to the dead of all wars should remind us of the horror and futility, the sacrifice of the ordinary soldier? Those farm boys on both sides who were dragged into the conflict to die horrible deaths and undergo mutilation and mental disintegration as the war increasingly industrialized and the slaughter took on the now-familiar tropes of machine-guns, mines and massed artillery were not politicians and pundits. They were the victims.

Are we to disfigure their memory too, merely to combat expediently a racism that is probably ineradicable from the human condition?

I’m going to go even further out on a limb. Slavery was and is not about racism, or even racialism. There’s no connection.

It’s about power relations and the management of economies.

Not a single successful, progressive economy flourished between the time of the Egyptians and Babylonians until the Industrial Revolution and the machine age without one form of bonded or indentured labour and another.

Greece, Rome, the Vikings, the Maya and the Aztec, the Mongols, Arabia and the Benin empire of West Africa were all slave-raiding, owning and trading civilizations. The expansion of their empires was driven by the need for captive slaves to provide the service infrastructure to grow their economies. India and China, Russia and medieval Europe incorporated slavery instead into rigid hereditary caste and ‘feudal’ systems that condemned generations of men and women to serfdom, donating their labour compulsorily to their social superiors in exchange for ‘protection’.

It had nothing to do with race; merely with whomever you could most easily force into bondage.

An Arab slaver. (Image: kalamu.com/Google)

In 1805 and 1812, the American navy pursued interventions against the Berber sailors of North Africa, Muslim slavers known as Barbary Pirates, who had attacked shipping, kidnapped and sold into slavery perhaps one and a half million Europeans. The global slave trade was not confined to the Atlantic run, or to Africans.

The Atlantic slave trade was perhaps the first – certainly the best-organized – purely commercial, transactional venture of its kind, aimed at supplying millions of agricultural workers and household servants transhipped from slave-raids in West and Central Africa to the commodity-based plantations established by British, French, Spanish and Portuguese colonists in the Americas, both north and south, and the Caribbean colonies.

The trade helped to make up the numbers of the aboriginal populations decimated by non-resistance to European diseases. As those European nations began to grow their own African domains, so the trade was able to cut out the local middlemen, African despots and Arab traders, to become more profitable.

Racialism gained traction, mainly as a moral response to the African slave trade. Its manifest unfairness and systematised brutalities could only be justified and maintained by the acceptance of a scientific, post-Enlightenment principle that black people were inferior to and less evolved than whites. Africans were not being enslaved because they were black, but because being black placed them in a permanently subservient condition fit for slavery.

The slave trade created racialism, it was not created by it.

The racism of the American South was created, at the very least encouraged, and eventually perpetuated, by the Civil War and its aftermath, that kept both Southern whites and blacks in an increasingly divisive condition of poverty and despair, that led to mutual rivalry, suspicion, antipathy and a culture of violence based on racist tropes – the hypersexualised negro being one –  that was almost entirely one-sided. Why?

For the Democrats and the pork-barrel politicians of the South, the lack of political sophistication and democratic heritage of the former slaves put the emancipated blacks at an immediate disadvantage, licensing a continuation of the brutalities inflicted on them by many, though not all, of their former ‘owners’. As the famous ‘Frost Report’ TV sketch observed, everyone needs someone they can look up to, and someone they can look down on. Racialism – like Trumpism – gave the poor white majority a cause to imagine their cultural superiority and to forget that their grinding economic disadvantage is required of them by the prevailing elites.

There’s a parallel in the treatment of women in Britain and Ireland, where rural ‘bride fairs’, the buying and selling of women for breeding and household management, went on right into the 1920s, despite increasing social and political equality in the metropolitan areas, and women’s suffrage being granted in the UK in 1918 (but not fully until 1926. In the USA there were various early attempts by states, a vote in Congress in 1920 – but full suffrage was not achieved until 1965!)

The assimilation of cultural ideas takes time, sometimes several generations, and if the worst excesses of poverty and inequality are politically licensed by local power structures in out-of-the-way places, unfairness and brutality will persist long after they have been suppressed or even eradicated elsewhere.

-UB

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Granny Weatherwax, update 11-16 Aug, 2017

North-west Iran: 11 dead (poleshift.ning.com/ Google)

Poland: Severe thunderstorms near Gdansk kill six, including two teenage campers, injure 36. Storm carves a wide swathe of Tunguska-like fallen trees across the Bialowieza forest, a Unesco world heritage site. 2,500 hectares flattened.

Greece: major wildfires burning north of Athens, and on the island of Zakynthos.

Corsica: Wildfires again raging over large areas in the north.

Portugal: major wildfires burning around Vila de Rej, Castelo Branco and in Leiria province. 2000 people are trapped by fire in the village of Macão, partly destroyed by a fire in July. Forecast: hotter.

India: Death toll in floods in northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh tops 175. Vast areas of Assam underwater again, flash floods in Nepal kill 75. 5 dead in Tipura. Millions affected.

China: More flooding again affecting Guanxi city, much damage to property; Hunan province; Jiangxi. Five killed and 50 injured when a tornado swept through Chifeng in Northern China/Mongolia..

Iran: 11 dead, two missing in severe flash floods in northeast Azerbaijan provinces..

Iraq: Temperatures in the heatwave affecting Baghdad reach 50C, 122F.

Kuwait: “Between 2010 and 2035, Kuwait’s annual average temperature will increase by 1.6% to 28.7C , according to the country’s Environmental Public Authority.” Noonday temperatures now regularly exceed 50C, 117F.

Canada: Half a million acres of British Columbia still ablaze.

Mexico: Powerful storm damages properties in Mazatlan. Extensive city flooding.

Wales UK: It has been bucketing down outside the house for the past several hours. Effect as yet unknown.

Avocadogate: Following an unusually poor summer in all the main producing countries – S Africa, Peru, Mexico – and a 50% hike in wholesale prices –  Tesco supermarkets are to market a ‘new range’ of undersized fruits. You get six in an eggbox.

Climate and Extreme Weather News, #54, 55/ BBC News/ The Guardian/ Al Jazeera.

 

Mr What did you say your name was?

I’ve been struck lately by how, on our rapidly globalizing globe, people’s names appear to be getting weirder, the stuff of science fiction; given that my own set of names and those of most people in my family and my minute circle of friends and acquaintances are pretty standard for Britain, are familiar, in some cases Biblical, and have been in use for centuries.

“I name this child Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel…”

I’ve just read an article based on a radio report by a paralympian athlete about the problems of finding working toilets for disabled people. Her name is Anna Wafula-Strike. The Wafula part comes, I’d guess, from her African ancestry; the oddness of the name-sound resonating from the monosyllabic, Germanic name ‘Strike’, or ‘Streich’, hyphenated-on perhaps by marriage.

But there are many odd-sounding combinations of first and surnames to be found everywhere nowadays as the habit of insisting on one’s patrimonial name combined with that of a husband or wife, plus any tributes to possible foreign relatives and ancestors, is resulting in many odd-sounding combinations. A favourite is the British heptathlete, Katerina Johnson-Thompson, a doubly Anglo-Saxon/Greek combination. But there are many more examples.

It’s getting like those innocent days of gentle comedy, perhaps in the 1930s, when characters in humorous novels and movies would be given mildly crazy names, often with obscure middle initials. Groucho Marx went in various films under the names of Rufus T Firefly, Otis B Driftwood and Wolf J Flywheel, among others. (Yes, you really can Google: ‘Characters played by Groucho Marx’ and land on a website dedicated to little else. Oh, Brave New World!)

The comedic middle-initial allusion was possibly in tribute to President Franklin D (for Delano) Roosevelt, but there were plenty of authors inserting their middle initials: Francis X Bushnell, Pearl S Buck, Ethel M Dell, Poppy Z Brite, Thomas M Disch, Philip K Dick (the habit seems particularly popular with Sci Fi writers) – Hunter S Thompson. Others initialized their first name and used their full second name: like the father of Scientology, the eccentric L Ron Hubbard; disaster movie maker M Night Shyamalan and, of course, F Scott Fitzgerald.

Hundreds too used and still use only initials rather than their given forename, often to disguise the fact that they were, are women writers believing they stand a better chance of having their work read by misogynist publishers who think women can only write Mills and Boon novels; otherwise, perhaps, to sound faintly distinguished. Richest among them all, of course, is JK Rowling – the K being added as an unregistered tribute to her grandmother Kathleen.

Then of course there is ‘Donald J Trump’….

I sign my own name with a middle initial, D, although I have not had the courage to adopt the full form in print. I’ve always found the name Desmond embarrassing, I don’t know why. According to Wikipedia it derives from the Gaelic name for the ancient Irish kingdom of South Munster, “Deas-Mhumhna”. That’s a pretty obscure derivation, but perhaps enough to gain me Irish citizenship so I can remain in the EU?

Famous Desmonds include the much-satirised family entertainer Des O’Connor – Archbishop Tutu – and the reggae artist, Desmond Dekker. Fathered by the randy Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Desmond Donnelly was a British politician, author and journalist who was a member of four different political parties during the course of his career, and switched parties on five occasions. You see why I have a problem with my flip-floppy middle name! I wish my parents had been a little more original, but it was better than being aborted.

Afro-Caribbean and Afro-American – ‘people of colour’, black people seem to be particularly creative when it comes to thinking of christian, or forenames for their children. Their surnames are often descended from slavery days, when they would be branded with the names of the European, mostly British plantation owners. So you’ll find plenty of Grants and Johnsons and Smiths and Williams, coupled with outlandish new spellings of their first names, or completely new names never before heard on earth.

Allyson Felix. Shaunae Miller-Uibo. Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake. Shericka Jackson. Zharnel Hughes. Jazmin Saunders. Kendra Harrison. Sani Brown. Ristananna Tracey. Taryn Suttie. Jereem Richards. Shamier Little. Kori Carter. Semoy Hackett. Shanieka Ricketts. Jodean Williams. Kurtis Marschall. Wayde van Niekerk… To pluck a random selection just from among the 600 international athletes competing at the 2017 London World Championships.

It’s not as if the names are common even in their English-speaking countries of origin, mainly the West Indies, the UK and the southern US. (I have avoided obviously non-Anglophone competitors for the very reason that I have no idea whether their first names are native or pure inventions.) They are to all intents and purposes, until adopted by new parents eager for some magic-dust to brush off on their own unhappy offspring, unique.

Sadly, Glory Nathaniel managed to come only fourth in her event, while Sparkle McKnight finished last; showing that the adoption principle known as ‘nominative determinism’ doesn’t always work out.

For an amusing romp through a modern dictionary of babies’ names, visit nameberry.com.

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