The Pumpkin – Issue 32: Trump or jump?…The land of smoke and mirrors… Granny W. – a sense of déjà vu… The value of experience? No-platform for the victims.

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“Thank God, at least we haven’t run out of kitchen-towels…” Dominica after the storm. (Photo: Guardian/Global Development)

 

“No wonder two hundred thousand people volunteered for a one-way mission to Mars.”

Trump or jump?

I’m not sure what’s making me angrier: Trump’s heartless response to the desperate pleas of the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Cruz, for additional aid and leadership in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which was basically to tell her to stop whining and criticizing HIM all the time, because everyone says he’s doing a really great job and she obviously isn’t?

Perhaps the Great Solipsist has been stung by polls showing that over 50 per cent of Americans think he’s doing a really terrible job overall. The wonder is, 100 per cent of Americans don’t seem to know or care that he is turning your country into a global pariah. But it’s quite clear he sees emergency aid to 3.5 million stricken American citizens in purely economic, transactional terms and has no concept of, or concern for, human suffering; especially among Americans that don’t have a vote on the mainland; or among Gold Star families.

It must surely be evident to all Americans that Donald J Trump is a reeking bag of semi-composted shit? The most horrible excuse for a human being, not just to occupy the White House, but of all time? Even Adolf Hitler loved his dog.

The Guardian reported: “Trump suggested the mayor had been told “to be nasty to Trump” by his Democratic opposition.” Everything is always about Liddle Donny, isn’t it? He has literally no conception of anything existing outside his own fucking Thomas Pink suit. Hopefully this astonishing behavior by the President, making George W Bush’s indifferent response to Katrina look like Mother Teresa, will be the death sentence of his presidency.

But no. There is no stinking, slimy turd a Republican politician won’t swallow for breakfast, lunch and tea to cling on to a tiny slice of ‘power’.

Yesterday, Homeland Secretary Elaine Duke announced she was “very satisfied” with progress on the island, following the Trump lie that: “it was: ‘a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people'”. That was hours before she arrived on the island for the first time and actually reached some people; following which, there was a complete turnaround in her attitude. Visibly shocked, she admitted that more could be done.

Trump, however, has his own unique way of doing things. After moaning for several days that his friends in the shipping industry would lose money, he finally caved-in and agreed to a temporary suspension of the Jones Act – punitive 1920s legislation protecting American trade with Puerto Rico, that has been preventing any shipping under other flags from docking with emergency supplies.

If you really need more evidence that the 45th incumbent is certifiably a psychopath, consider the argument he has been putting forward in his ridiculous childish tweets the past few days: that Puerto Rico was already a poor country, a drain on the US economy and Wall Street, so any aid given should be proportionate only to immediate need and no infrastructure that was in disrepair before the two hurricanes should be replaced at US taxpayer expense until the island authorities pay what they owe.

Again, he appears completely unaware of the irony that the Act imposed crippling tariffs on exports to Puerto Rico, which has since become a US dependancy. If Puerto Rico is an unacceptably dependent nation economically, it is principally the fault of successive US governments and Trump does actually have an opportunity to do something about it; although Puerto Rico’s $75 billion debt is 100% owned by US hedge funds who are milking it for all it’s worth. He appeared to be unaware, too, that the US Virgin Islands are US territory, announcing that he had “met with the President” of the devastated Caribbean islands of which he is, nominally, the President.

As for the deadly California wildfires, well, he lost the popular vote in California by 4 million so he’s not going there in a hurry, however many Americans get burned to death. Fuck ’em, losers.

Promoting special interests

Mr Trump makes these statements completely oblivious to the fact that he himself owes approximately $1.9 billion to up to 70 banks around the world, and despite the weight of potential compromise this presents to national security, has no intention of ever paying them back (he sues them when they ask for their money).

While defending the taxpayers, he boasts of having personally paid no income tax for almost 20 years. Despite ongoing investigations, he continues to profit from official use of facilities he owns at the public expense, and from licensing the use of his personal brand as President on properties co-developed with known foreign racketeers and money-launderers.

Despite promising to ‘drain the swamp’ of Washington lobbyists, he has promoted special interests in finance, the private medical, energy and chemical industries to the highest offices of State while attempting to amend or repeal any and all laws they perceive as restrictions on their business activities.

He mentors his son-in-law Jared Kushner in his policy of thieving money from banks: himself placed in high office, despite his complete lack of experience in government or politics, Kushner has been going cap-in-hand to wealthy ‘friends’ in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, scrabbling for sofa-change to repay the more than $1 billion dollars HE owes to 20 banks after a disastrous New York property speculation: yet has meanwhile had a fair number of his family’s property management company’s poorest tenants arrested and imprisoned for late payment of rent.

There has been a constant swirl of media speculation for many years over the extent of Mr Trump’s possible criminality, never proven. One instance of this may have been betrayed by Trump himself.

During the transition period, it emerged that a 35-page dossier detailing what might be described as compromising material held over Mr Trump by Russian intelligence agencies was being reviewed by the CIA and FBI. Part of it referred to a bizarre sex session in a Moscow hotel room. Mr Trump defended this allegation in a curious way, saying that as someone who owned many hotels, he knew all about covert filming.

The inference was not drawn at the time, but it happened to be the case that Kushner’s father was serving a five-year prison term. His offence of business fraud had been exacerbated by further charges relating to his attempts to pervert the course of justice by, in this case, blackmailing his brother-in-law, who had been called as a material witness. Kushner Senior sent a videotape to his own sister, showing her husband in a compromising situation with a prostitute in a hotel room.

There is no imputation of course that Mr Trump had any involvement whatever, but it suggests a degree of sleaze within the circles he moves in that might call in question his fitness to hold the highest office.

Mr Trump has been accused by at least one prominent Senator in his own party of failing to respect the rule of law. That’s over the Justice Department’s special investigation into what appeared to be crude attempts by the President to divert or halt an FBI investigation into possible links between his election campaign and Russian intelligence, that might amount to obstruction of justice.

Senator John McCain has stood out against Trump’s cynical health ‘reform’ bill that will see 30 million poorer Americans deprived of health care: Trump’s response has been to issue dire threats by tweet against the dying McCain, who has incurable brain cancer but is lucid enough in seeing through the fatuous, vain, incompetent blowhard in the White House.

I repeat: Donald J Trump is an orange-coloured sack of congealed, putrid greed: the sickest, nastiest, most vindictive, most infantile, poisonous, deranged, incompetent and ignorant reptile to assume office since the Emperor Caligula.

For all that, 37% of his supporters who identify as ‘marginalized’ by Washington say they would never abandon their loyalty to Trump under any circumstances.

This is surely a serious state of affairs.

It’s been calculated that Mr Trump’s ‘beautiful’ $5 trillion tax reforms, which – he lies – will benefit the lower-paid and the middle-class most, will in fact leave him personally $1 billion richer, millions poorer, and the Treasury bankrupt. Oh, and by the way, the tax rate for the lowest-paid will rise from 10 to 12 per cent…. but the top tax rates for high-earners and corporations will fall considerably, while the heirs of wealthy property owners not unlike Mr Trump will no longer have to pay inheritance tax on their $billions of assets, which thus become more negotiable in the heretofore.

Mr Trump has also fallen out with numerous senior Republican colleagues over their failure to steer through Congress, a bill replacing Obama’s Affordable Care Act with a new health insurance system that would have the effect of stripping 32 million people of their entitlements to healthcare. He appears to be entirely ignorant of or indifferent to the inevitable effects of his sop to the criminally greedy pharmaceuticals industry, many of whose leaders are either on trial or under Congressional investigation for hiking drug prices beyond reason.

On foreign relations, Mr Trump already has a disastrous record of upsetting the US’s allies while encouraging its enemies; he has raised the level of violence in US engagement in foreign conflicts, resulting in a massive increase in ‘collateral’ civilian deaths without providing any clear policy direction to end conflict.

Though pushing Congress to vote an additional $85 billion for the military appropriations budget, claiming falsely that Obama had run it down, he has nevertheless caused great concern among the generals with his tweeted attacks on LGBQ and Transgender service personnel and insults to dead or wounded veterans and their families. His response to that is to call for a tenfold increase in nuclear warheads, while already possessing more than are needed to extinguish life on earth. He is clearly insane, but we can have little confidence that his military aides will put a bullet through his diseased brain the moment he calls for the nuclear football to obliterate North Korea, Iran, or whoever incurs his wrath that morning.

He has effectively gutted international diplomatic expertise within the State Department, marginalized and demeaned his bovine Secretary of State, and is blundering ever-deeper into dangerous and childish tit-for-tat brinkmanship with at least two nations on the verge of becoming nuclear powers. For much of his presidency he has been under the malign influence of Steve Bannon, a calculating and nihilistic Svengali bankrolled by crazed ultra-rightwing Christian billionaires.

I’m really not sure what it will take to see this greedy, thuggish, ignorant, poorly self-managed and profoundly corrupt individual, a squeezer of the pips so appalling even God Himself could not wash him clean, strung up on piano wire in the public square like Mussolini, whose more presidential facial expressions he likes to imitate. But something must surely be done.

Or am I angrier that Britain is becoming, if possible, an even more divided and horrible nation than Trump’s America?

 

“An investigation is currently underway into the circumstances surrounding a 28-year-old Polish man who recently died after an attempt to kill himself at Harmondsworth detention centre in London. A Home Office spokesperson said: “We have toughened our response to foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality.” – The Guardian, 30 September.

“Please, can anyone afford a can-opener?” Three-quarters of a million people rely on food banks as poverty and homelessness rise sharply after seven and a half years of Tory government. (Photo: itv.com).

That’s right. Oh, but we haven’t left the European Union yet, have we. Our hardworking Polish friends have an absolute right to live and find employment in Britain. Many have done so since World War Two, when they were rewarded for their heroism at fighting Nazis on our behalf and bred a new generation of Anglo-Polish professionals. I was forgetting.

‘Anything you can do, I can do worse’, surely goes the Tory party song. For we read this morning an article in The Guardian by a woman who writes that she has colleagues at work like herself, who are having to use food banks and payday loans to get their families through to the end of the week – and she’s a Benefits Advisor working in a job centre, turning desperate people away every day.

Public-sector pay in Britain is an international scandal. In order to bailout the banks in 2008, pay increases for the police, fire service, teachers, nurses and hospital ancillaries, ambulance crew, cleaners, home-carers, local government workers have been capped at 1 per cent for the past eight years, and local authority service budgets cut to the marrow, while ‘inflation’ has been running at between 1.9 and 2.9 per cent a year, on the official indices, leaving millions of working people in the real world far behind. Working families so poor, they cannot send their children to school with breakfast inside them. Thus, Mrs May proposed before the election that it would be a good idea to scrap the provision of school breakfasts.

Thus too, a woman interviewed on the BBC this morning, a working mother of two who has literally no money, not even fourpence in her purse – yet is theoretically entitled like the rest of us to some State support. Why then has she no money to buy food or pay rent? Because of Iain Duncan Smith’s devastatingly cruel and incompetent mishandling of the switch from multiple benefits to a single-provider scheme that his successor, a servile, fuckwitted party hack named David Gauke, proposes to continue with despite massive public opprobrium.

This Duncan-Cunt (Conservative and Unionist Neo-Thatcherite) has left thousands of claimants in suspension, waiting many weeks to receive the first grant of less money than they were previously getting, unable to buy food or pay rent. He is, like Trump, a sociopath, completely oblivious to the suffering of others. Many of them are in work, but thanks to Cunt’s Universal Credit wheeze, the new cap on housing benefit that makes living in London impossible for the low-paid, the abolition of child benefit for any more than two children and the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ – filching money from social housing tenants who might be left with what the authorities consider to be a ‘spare room’ in their unit – they are falling ever deeper into poverty, debt and homelessness.

But the aforesaid Gauke thinks it’s all going swimmingly.

And that’s not even starting on people with disabilities, whose Independent Living Allowance (extra money enabling them to, for instance, afford a mobility scooter to get to work) has been scrapped; a blind man with multiple health issues was told by a judge two weeks ago, his local authority had a legal right to take away even the meagre support services they provided for him. That’s a legal right conferred by the Tories, may they rot in Hell.

While for years their private-sector proxies have been denying sick and disabled people the benefits they need on the basis of inept, medically irrelevant, inadequate, often abusive and mismanaged ‘assessments’, that they are blaming on the previous ‘Labour’ government.

Oh, said the junior minister on the radio yesterday (the senior minister refused to go on), but things are getting better! If anyone isn’t getting their benefit entitlement in good time, it’s probably because they’ve filled in the endless forms incorrectly; not submitted enough ‘evidence’ of desert. Not everyone has a computer with access to Broadband (the only way to claim… or pay 55p a minute to be kept hanging on the helpline for an hour), nor has everyone an A-level in English language, and may have to travel miles to find a library or a Citizens’ Advice Bureau still open. They can always apply for interim loan payments – yes, of course, they have to pay those back at 63 per cent, and they’re not available in every case, but …

These smug, lousy Tory shit-spewers can out-Trump Trump in cruelty anyday.

At the same time, CEO pay in the top 100 companies has been rising exponentially. The average is now £4.3 million – and that’s just the basic. Yet successive reports by economists have shown that company profits and productivity lag far behind executive rewards. Three Tesco executives went on trial yesterday, charged with cooking the books – share-price manipulation is the name of the game in the City today, but not enough end up in court. Millions of private pension owners have been told they’ll be lucky to get half what they’ve been paying-in for. Where’s the money gone? Nobody seems to know, although like the burghers of Londonderry, the investment management community, people like Mrs May’s husband Phil and Home Secretary, Amber Rudd and her noxious family business grow suspiciously ever fatter.

Billions are squandered on vanity projects, consultants and government maladministration. Our military contracting is disastrous: the latest scandal is the issue of the Foxhound, a transport vehicle purpose-designed to replace the lethal ‘Snatch Land-Rover’, to protect troops against roadside IEDs in hot countries, that cost £1 million each and are constantly breaking down through overheating; while the Navy’s new Type 45 destroyers are laid up in dock having new power plant fitted as the original engines didn’t produce enough electricity to power the weapons control systems. Artificers have had to cut holes in the sides of the ships to get the engines out, as they weren’t designed to be removed for servicing. (Postscriptum: and the rumor now is that two amphibious assault landing-craft support ships – one of which is currently providing emergency aid to the British Virgin Islands – are to be scrapped, effectively removing any role for the Royal Marines.)

Are the Russians running the Defence Ministry?

Thousands of doctors and nurses are fleeing the National Health Service because the government cannot bring itself to upset the editor of the Daily Mail, a small-minded Jingoistic bully called Paul Dacre, and offer them long-term security of residence. Incompetent baboons at the Home Office are sending out daily letters threatening to deport professional people who have lived here for thirty years, are married to British citizens and have children with them, born in the UK. Sound familiar, American reader? Schools are having to pass the begging bowl around parents to scrape together enough money, not to – I don’t know, run a sports day, take a party to Paris for the day or fix the gym roof – but to BUY TEACHERS.

The Three Brexiteers: Davis, ‘The Doctor’ and Doris (r)

Despite the many challenges, at this critical juncture British politics has come down to a contest of inanities between ambitious little shits and Empire-loyalist throwbacks, overentitled ‘populist’ publicity junkies like Johnson, Farage and, God forbid, the vapid neo-medievalist Rees-Mogg. Our Brexit ‘negotiating team’ is looking everyday more like the Marx Brothers of Brussels. As was shown by the Brexit vote, the majority of British voters are vacuous and poorly-informed middle-Englanders closeted in their own filter-bubbles, plugged into their little headsets, forever texting one another, mind-numbed by ‘reality’ TV shows and cheap talent contests, reliant more on personal ‘feelings’ than facts to guide them and living in a permanent Groundhog Day, divorced from memory and rapidly losing the capacity to process real-world issues. (I am working with a group of young people currently who have no idea whatever about contemporary politics or history.)

Is it any wonder the number of Britons frantically searching their family tree for connections and applying for foreign citizenship is rising by the day? Just like the Republican government in America, the rich have declared war on the poorest, who are blaming us, the sentient ones in the middle. Who would want to be part of this shameful farrago if they could find somewhere decent, clean and competently managed to live? No wonder two hundred thousand people volunteered for a one-way mission to Mars.

Get these amoral, clueless, self-serving fucking Tories; those devious, smarmy Republican cunts and Magic Christians out of office.

Just get them out.

x

“It’s classic psy-ops warfare. And the most devilish part of it is, now we know what’s going on we can’t trust anyone or anything we see and hear!”

The land of smoke and mirrors

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwCcbaAOzKQ

I urge anyone interested in learning about the extent of Russia’s disruptive use of social media to watch the first part of this 27 September issue of Rachel Maddow’s top-rated MSNBC cable news show.

As she reports, it has become clear from investigations by serious news media in the USA that the abuse of social media sites Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and blogs such as Breitbart News and InfoWars by a coordinated campaign using hundreds of botnets and fake accounts to create false-front organizations putting out micro-targeted propaganda designed to create and exploit social division throughout the West has gone far further than previously thought.

Russian interference has not been confined to meddling with the elections in the USA and, as the BogPo has frequently commented, Great Britain’s disastrous EU referendum.

Maybe he thought the voters wanted him to be President because he’s so accomplished, tactful and charming?

Prior to the invasion of Crimea and SE Ukraine, for instance, thousands of Ukrainian Twitter accounts were deliberately shut down by a concerted ‘Report abuse’ attack falsely claiming tweets were pornographic; this increased the ‘space’ for a campaign of pro-Russian tweets from fake accounts blaming neo-Nazis for mounting a coup. Last weekend’s general election in Germany produced a stunning advance for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland party, gaining 90 seats to make them the third largest group in the Bundestag. With the financial and online support of Russian hackers, bloggers and botnets their campaign may have been aided by fake news reports against migrants and refugees.

And we know all about Kremlin funding for Marine le Pen’s failed presidential bid in France; and can see how the Macron presidency is being persistently undermined and attacked so that his popularity rating is already lower after only six weeks than that of his hapless predecessor, François Hollande, on leaving office. How much of what is going on in our increasingly divided and divisive politics in the UK is real, and how much engineered online?

In a seminal report by Alastair Sloan and Ian Campbell writing in Open Democracy UK, we are challenged to explain how Mr Arron Banks spent £9 million funding Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party and the Brexit ‘Leave.UK’ campaign, whose officers included long-term colleagues of his, on a business valuation putting his personal fortune at less than £22 million, which in itself is a dubious figure? Where did the money come from, to support a man whose many low-rent ‘motorcycle insurance’ companies were kept from bankruptcy only by virtue of a system of internal sales and loans? And who put him up to it?

http://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/how-did-arron-banks-afford-brexit

The point being, it doesn’t matter whether or not the outliers whom the Russians promote succeed, as long as the process itself causes more useful bitterness and division the damage is done. Putin didn’t really care whether Trump got elected or not, just as long as the election resulted in the maximum chaos and further undermined America’s already pretty tenuous grasp on democracy. As Maddow reports, Russians have even infiltrated lunatic fringe organizations seeking independence for Texas and California.

Mr Putin and his clever cronies do not just want power at home, they have found ingenious ways to project it abroad, offering financial and logistical support to just about anyone who expresses a desire and some capability to upset the prevailing order.

Maddow cites a NYT report today that a false-front Muslim League of America lobbying organization was created to spread fake news favorable to the pro-Trump conspiracy, for instance linking the Clintons and Sen. John McCain with ISIS; and how an entire community was set against itself when a small-town news story was blown out of proportion to target Syrian refugees implicated in a child-rape scandal that never happened; nor were there even any Syrian refugees in the town – yet the story gained traction and ran for several weeks in the rightwing media until the damage was done.

It’s classic psy-ops warfare. And the worst of it is, now we know what’s going on we can’t trust anyone or anything we see and hear! It means too that we can’t either believe or disbelieve stories about the extent of Russian interference in our democratic processes….

Twitter executives are shortly to be questioned by the Congressional committee investigating Russian interference in the US election. That news in itself will further undermine public confidence. President Zuckerberg of ‘Facebookistan’ last week executed a remarkable turnaround when he finally admitted after months of blanket denials that his 2-billion-strong social media site had effectively been taken hostage by Russian military intelligence back in 2015, and that fake campaign advertising had been paid for through Russian bank accounts.

Again, many people now realize they can’t trust what even their friends are telling them on Facebook; while others won’t believe it’s false news, whatever you try to tell them.

It seems clear, as the BogPo has previously reported, that the Russians are also relying on third-party actors in Western countries having whatever degree of media ownership, data analysis skills or penetration and intrusion capabilities, even bona fide agencies who may be borrowed or hired or otherwise recruited to the cause, wittingly or unwittingly, to assist with targeting and the creation of fake messages.

The (disputed) use of Bob Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica company to micro-message voters, and of companies involved with voter registration to gerrymander constituencies and rig voting machines, has been widely reported on, if not yet proven; many more small tech businesses may have been used in the same way; but it raises the possibility at least that Trump may not have had much clue what was going on as all this would have been happening in the background to his campaign and he is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

Maybe he thought the voters of America really wanted him to be President because he’s so accomplished, tactful and charming?

In today’s world of ubiquitous, highly personalized media creating instantly disinformative echo-chambers, or what people of my generation used to call the rumour mill, you cannot trust any source even when it seems to have been verified by many other sources.

That’s a considerable victory for Mr Putin, as it’s rapidly turning the rest of the world into a facsimile of Russia: the land of smoke and mirrors.

x

Granny W. – a sense of déjà vu

“Researchers found that forest areas in South America, Africa and Asia – which have until recently played a key role in absorbing greenhouse gases – are now releasing 425 teragrams of carbon annually, which is more than all the traffic in the United States.” – The Guardian, 28 Sept., from a report in Science magazine.

Scientists combined 12 years of satellite data with field studies. They found a net carbon loss on every continent due to degradation of forest not normally visible from satellites, below canopy level, where clearance has been taking place. The world’s forests, they say, are no longer working as a ‘carbon sink’ and recommend an emergency replanting program. 

In the last week:

Uganda: 16 dead, 14 injured, ‘scores’ missing after ‘abnormal’ heavy rains cause landslides in Rubanda, in the west of the country.

China: at least 8 dead, 4 missing in floods and heavy rainfall in central areas of the country over the last few days. “Flooding has affected 116,000 people in the provinces of Hubei, Chongqing and Shaanxi. Around 2,400 homes have been damaged and over 20,000 people evacuated to emergency shelters… Hanzhong in Shaanxi province recorded 55 mm of rain per hour.”

Indonesia: people reported trapped in floods that inundated much of the city of 14 million people (28 Sept.). “The floods were the most widespread to hit Jakarta in recent memory. Authorities said at least four people were killed and 20,000 evacuated.”

Philippines:  “Flash floods triggered by heavy rain that began on Friday, 22 September. The city of Bacolod in Negros Occidental province was the worst hit, officials say over 8,000 people were affected.  Flood water was waist deep in some areas.”

Australia: large parts of New South Wales and Queensland sweltered in 42 deg C. (107.6 F) heat over the weekend and the ‘unusual’ early spring heatwave is forecast to continue on and off, possibly into the even hotter summer. A huge 12 deg. C. seasonal temperature anomaly was recorded over much of the SE region.

Iceland: “Several rivers have overflowed in parts of south east and east Iceland after a period of heavy rain from 26 September. Levels of the Skaftá river at Sveinstindur and the Ölfusá at Selfoss, among others, increased dramatically. Levels have fallen over the last few hours as the rain has eased, although more rain is forecast and further flooding could be expected.” Roads and bridges washed out.

USA: a tropical weather ‘disturbance’, 99L is bringing up to 5 inches of rain to Florida and Louisiana over the weekend, after a record-setting September hurricane season (40 days of cyclones at hurricane strength). Heavy rainfall is also forecast over Puerto Rico and other islands already hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria. 64.58 inches of rain observed at the Texas town of Nederland during Hurricane Harvey is confirmed as the new rainfall record during a tropical cyclone at any U.S. location.

California: whipped by 25 mph ‘Santa Ana’ wind, the 2,600-acre Corona Canyon fire on the edge of LA is 75% controlled (01 Oct.) after hundreds of residents of Orange County were evacuated. Nearly two thousand firefighters attended the blaze. As snow comes early to Montana and Idaho, racked by earth tremors from the Yellowstone magma chamber recharging beneath, there are still some 23 large fires burning in western states, including 11 in Oregon.

Town of Lynn in Massachusetts underwater after heavy rain. Chicago and midwest bask in 30 deg. C+ record late-September heatwave.

Florida: Army engineers battling to reinforce barrage at Lake Okeechobee before the next hurricane brings more torrential rain. “The lake level stood at 16.3’ above sea level on Thursday, well above the maximum 15.5’ level the Army Corps of Engineers tries to maintain in order to relieve pressure on the aging Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds the lake.” See Wikipedia entry for story of the ecological disaster the lake has been over the years, including 1928 when 2,500 people drowned in a partial dam-burst.

Mexico: Nuevo Laredo floods and thousands of acres underwater as the Rio Bravo bursts its banks after torrential rainstorm. Nueva Leon including Juarez and Monterrey similarly underwater after intense rainfall.

Colombia: Baranquilla underwater as torrential rains bring flash flooding; streets turn to boiling rivers, etc.

Nicaragua: Managua underwater, etc. Morons still driving through 3ft of water and stalling. Understand: once your exhaust pipe is blocked by water a petrol engine will stall and you could drown.

Honduras: San Pedro, ditto.

Guatemala: 5 people killed in landslide caused by heavy rain as village washed away near Verapaz. Getting a sense of déjà vu watching this footage.

Trinidad: extensive flooding in Santa Cruz. Expensive homes damaged.

British Columbia: things are starting to calm down, only seven ‘fires of note’ are still burning, and only four new large fires have been reported in the last two days. Many smaller fires are still not out, but forest trails are being reopened.

Europe: the Copernicus EFFIS fire survey shows that areas at extreme danger of fires have reduced to just a small part of Turkey, but large areas of Spain, the northeastern Mediterranean and around the Black Sea are still at high risk and there are numerous fire sites indicated that have been burning over the past 7 days up until 27 September.

Greece: “Over 270 mm (10 in.) of rain in 3 hours fell on the northern Aegean Sea island of Samothraki, Greece, causing severe damage to roads, cars and buildings, including a health centre. Images showed streets buried in mud and flood debris over 1 metre deep. Power and drinking water supply has been cut and schools closed.”

Italy: Syracuse, Sicily, underwater due to intensive rainstorm.

Turkey: Istanbul hit by extreme rainstorm for the fourth time this summer. Parts of the city under 3ft of water. Apocalyptic flash-flood hits Çayeli in SE Turkey.

UK: Remnants of both Hurricane Lee and Hurricane Maria are expected to combine to bring storm force winds and heavy rain to most of the British Isles by the beginning of next week.

End of days…

Ring of Fire: as ‘experts’ announce that the flurry of seismic activity, with new M6+ earthquakes and volcanoes popping off all around the Pacific rim in recent days and weeks, including three M6 quakes or greater in Mexico in just over a week is ‘coincidence’ (these idiots are SCIENTISTS?), all 11,000 people on the island of Ambae to the north of Vanuatu are being evacuated as a massive volcano continues to erupt. Most of Ambae’s population is already sheltering in evacuation centres on the island after the Manaro Voui volcano rained rocks and ash on their villages, but they’re running out of food and water.

Meanwhile, ‘experts’ are continuing to keep watch on Mt Angung, the precarious sacred volcano on the tourist paradise island of Bali that has led to 75,000 people being evacuated beyond a 7 km exclusion zone, mindful of the 1963 eruption that killed 1,500 people. There’s been seismic activity too at Krakatoa, the Indonesian volcano that blew itself to pieces in 1883, which has been steadily rebuilding its cone. But Yellowstone looks a little quieter – not necessarily a good sign.

Floodlist/ D Mail/ ABC/ SBS.com/ Telegraph/ The Press Enterprise/ BC wildfire service/ Wunderground/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #70


The value of experience? No-platform for the victims.

“Both of these events will to [sic] cause Jewish students to feel uncomfortable on campus and that they are being targeted and harassed for their identity as a people and connection to the Jewish state of Israel,” Freeman told Westlake. “I would be grateful if you could look into these events and take the appropriate action.” – The Guardian, 29 September.

Of course it is dreadful that young people should be made to feel uncomfortable – especially Jewish students who already feel, well, uncomfortable, as the media continues to report on the rise of right-wing movements throughout Europe.

And it is clearly wrong that Jewish students, or indeed any students, should be targeted and harrassed for their identity as a people.

The Westlake in the pull-quote is Michael, Head of Student Experience (W1A is alive and well) at the venerable and renowned Manchester University, and the Freeman is something or other, a ‘cultural attaché’ – for which, presumably, read ‘Mossad agent’ – at the Israeli embassy in London.

Freeman was writing to Westlake essentially to thank him in advance for no-platforming a speaker whose talk was to be entitled: ‘You are doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to me’.

You might by now be imagining that the University was preparing to host an official torchlight rally of brownshirts or Trump supporters and the ceremonial burning of synagogues. But no. It may come as a surprise to know that the speaker, Marika Sherwood is herself a Holocaust survivor.

It is a fact, uncomfortable to the despicable Netanyahu regime, that many Jews like Sherwood are horrified and shamed by the State’s hardline approach to the stalled settlement talks and the continuing illegal settlement of the West Bank, mainly by fanatical American religionists, crazies who argue with the support of the government and the packed courts that God promised them the land.

It should be remembered that the Palestinians, whom even Israeli historians are slowly beginning to understand on the basis of archaeological evidence are the same people as the Jews, were ruthlessly expelled or slaughtered in their hundreds of thousands – targeted and harassed, in the modern parlance – during the ethnic cleansing that accompanied the founding of the Israeli state in 1947/8; many have been languishing, even unto the third generation, in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan ever since. The history is of course buried and denied by the corrupt Zionist mafia that runs the Israeli state today.

However, following the intervention of the Israeli ambassador, Mr Mark Regev, formerly a notorious media apologist for every sickening act of brutality against the remaining Palestinian population of Israel and Gaza, a slimy PR shill for successive Israeli governments attempting to shut down the mildest questioning of policy, who throws around disgusting accusations of ‘antisemitism’ against any objectors, who personally travelled to Manchester to bully the Senate into backing off the talk due to be held in ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ – itself a dreadful calumny against the junta of self-righteous bigots in Tel Aviv – the university caved-in.

The next day, reports the Guardian:

“a university official emailed Huda Ammori, the event’s (Jewish) organiser, with conditions. Academics chosen to chair the meetings were replaced by university appointees, publicity was limited to students and staff, and the organisers were told talks would be recorded. Ammori was told: “For ‘A Holocaust survivor’s story and the Balfour declaration’ the use of the title or subheading, ‘You’re doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to me’ is not to be permitted, because of its unduly provocative nature.”

Just who the hell does this pompous little sonofabitch Australian migrant, Regev, think he is, and what right does he imagine he has to go around flaunting his self-conferred authority – which is, I venture to suggest, derived solely from the experience of Jews in the Holocaust, survivors like Marika Sherwood, whom he denies and dishonours – to control whatever is said about his unpleasant country – I’ve been there, believe me it’s pretty ghastly – in a free society?

‘The appropriate action’…? ‘Academics replaced’…? ‘Talks would be recorded‘…? ‘Is not to be permitted’…?

I’ll leave you to decide who the fucking Nazis are.

And while we’re at it, I should point out, technically Israel is a secular, not an Orthodox, Jewish state. In 1948, the founder, David Ben-Gurion, speaking at the United Nations, declared it to be such, going on to say:

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

Nothing in those soaring words about censorship, oppression, constant breach of UN resolutions, bullying and ethnic cleansing? It’s only rabid neo-Zionists like Regev who’ve made it into an authoritarian religious state, in defiance of Ben-Gurion’s pledge; and taken it upon themselves to monitor, censor and control whatever is said about it, anywhere in the world. Why should our institutions accede to his impertinent demands, his blackmail?

This is not about Judaism, Semitism – it is entirely and cynically political.

Let’s recall how in 2014, Regev and the British-Jewish establishment put intolerable pressure on the BBC to censor a combined charities appeal for aid for the people of Gaza, a walled ghetto created by the state of Israel to contain one and a half million Palestinians, men, women and children, which they had mercilessly and indiscriminately bombed and shelled with illegal phosphorus munitions for many days, just like the Nazis did, killing and maiming thousands, in reprisal for acts of defiance by hopeless, under-employed and under-equipped young Hamas fighters.

It really is time to stand up to these self-appointed arbiters of truth and justice, the hypocritical rewriters of history, and say, look, we’re not going to be told what we can and cannot say by you. You’ve got enough concessions from us on free speech already, we’re not going to be guilt-tripped any longer and if you want our respect you’ll stop this nonsense and grow up.

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/sep/29/manchester-university-censors-title-holocaust-survivor-speech-criticising-israel

x

No fair, lady!

The late Hugh Hefner of Playboy is to be interred at Forrest Lawn, LA, in a catafalque next to Marilyn Monroe. It’s said the old lecher paid $75 thousand in 1992 for the plot adjacent to America’s second most potent sex symbol.

I wonder what she’ll make of that.

boo boop de doo?

 

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Survival of the fitters? A climate of concern… End of everything – a brief update… Mind the gap.

The Welsh team had booked their return flight with Monarch…

 

“I get to peek at the workbooks students hand in at the end of exams. I have previously expressed the view that maybe 85 per cent of them are in the wrong place.”

Survival of the fitters?

You see, I’ve just been whingeing about Amazon and Uber and how the beanbag corporations are replacing human-scale operations, retailers and so forth who need to sleep, with giant 24-hour warehouses and picking robots and tax-accountants and a few undervalued mislings, delivery drivers and so on, who are expected to pay their own wages and insurance and never get sick.

“I’m sure we had one somewhere…” Tiny orders delivered while other retailers sleep. (UKbusinessinsider.co)

The fetish for instant gratification and the myth of infinite abundance are powerful incentives to hand the management of the entire planet over to these lunatic visionary billionaires and place all our futures in their sainted hands.

Yet here is this new superspecies, humans-plus, a race of knowligarchs worth, in a purely asset-valued sense, not just one, but sometimes tens of billions of dollars, pounds, whatever.

And we have created them! How did that happen?

Anyway, so, yesterday I drove with Hunzi over to the prefabricated car place on the industrial estate where they have a big forecourt where I bought my little Citroen three years ago, and a service shed at the rear, left it with them to explore my noisy brakes, and walked the two miles back home. I called them at five-thirty but the car wasn’t ready, come back about eleven tomorrow.

So, and I’ll stop saying that, at half-past eleven just now we walk the two miles back – I know, it’s good for me – only to be told, sorry, we have a problem finding qualified mechanics and are up to here with cars, can we drop it off to you this afternoon?

The irony is, the manager is Polish, and he can’t get staff.

Last week, I’m told, the unemployment rate fell vertiginously to only 4.3 percent, the lowest it’s been since records began in July. But there are clearly jobs goin’ a-beggin’, as my youngest discovered when he went to visit his sister for the weekend and landed a temp job the following day; he’s due to start work proper in November. Jobs are clearly ten a penny, but few are willing to do them.

I work, as you know, five weeks of the year at a university, the only job I can find at my age, where I get to peek at the workbooks students hand in at the end of exams. I have previously expressed the view that maybe 85 per cent of them are in the wrong place. Instead of usefully learning how to fix the brakes on Citroen cars, they are studying for worthless paper degrees in Sports Psychology Through the Medium of Slavery. And only a small handful of them, it seems, can usefully express any ideas about that in recognizable English.

We used to have a good technical college just up the road where you could go to learn to be a cook, a plumber, a bricklayer or a car mechanic – all perfectly respectable and valuable jobs. But it was maladministered, Tony Blair had decreed that everyone should have a degree, and so the university took it over and installed a) an agreeable cafeteria, and b) an International School of Business Studies, offering MBAs, that has now closed for lack of international interest.

Meanwhile, neither of the two contractors I asked in the spring of 2016 to come and replace my collapsing garden fence has yet turned up. Anymore than has the plumber who fitted my kitchen tap returned to adjust his work, that threatens a flood. The ivy that is strangling my house, blocking the gutters and causing damp in the corner of the bedroom remains uncut, owing to its not being a big enough job to interest a gardener/handyman less prone to vertigo than myself.

There is a three-week waiting list here to see a doctor; and an eighteen-month waiting list for six-monthly follow-up appointments to consult my friendly Ghanaian urologist about my unruly prostate, at the hospital.

The new gas oven and hob I ordered from our local showroom two weeks ago has still not been fitted, owing to the seasonal busy-ness of the few qualified Gas Safe fitters who now exist. I am still waiting after ten days for the carpet fitter to tell me he is ready, Stanley knife in hand, to lay my new bedroom carpets; or even if they have arrived.

But my sub-£15 order of a small bottle of five-star-review guitar wax (No Cloudy Build-Up!) and a cheap but highly rated headstock tuner arrived from Amazon.uk Central on Saturday, 16 hours from the time I placed it, by express postal delivery.

Would that some enterprising beanbag billionaire could come up with a scheme for a giant multinational corporation to instantly deliver a functioning tradesman when you need one. Trouble is, here at the end of Civilization we have stopped producing them. It’s a Darwinian dilemma:

Jeremy Corbyn please help us.

We need to ensure the survival of the fitters.

x

“This is not some futuristic dystopian conspiracy theory, social media and universal TV coverage enables us to see it as it is happening now…”

A climate of concern

NASA has August at 0.85C above the 1951-1980 average. That’s a global summer/winter monthly average of everywhere – while there are still cold spots many regions of the globe are heating much faster. It also ignores pre-1950s warming, which would take us to about 1.6C since the 1750 cutoff, somewhat ahead of the Paris target and hotter than in the last 150 thousand years. And it’s accelerating. August in the USA was the second hottest on record despite the cooling effect of storms and megastorms across the midwest, including Hurricane Harvey. 2017 is officially so far the second hottest year globally on record, after 2016. Arctic sea ice is 24% below the long-term average summer minimum; the jetstreams are in bits.

Harvey’ caused Houston to sink by an inch.

What does this mean? In a word, weather CHAOS.

A seemingly unending litany of extreme weather events: violent storms, cyclones, floods, droughts and heatwaves. Millions of acres of agricultural land and countryside burning* or underwater. Raging torrents, city streets turned to boiling rivers, hillsides collapsing, cars and houses, road and bridges washed away.

People struggling to work or safety through chest-high water, carrying their pets, children and grandmothers. Millions displaced. Whole communities torn up and uninhabitable. Billions of dollars of damage. Possibly linked seismological effects: Harvey caused part of Texas to sink by an inch.

This is not some futuristic dystopian conspiracy theory, social media and universal TV coverage enables us to see it as it is happening now, all over the world.

CO2 – some improvement

Despite the prevalence of wildfires, whose 2017 northern hemisphere season’s massive CO2 upload may not yet have fully distributed around the globe, especially 9,000 feet up in the central Pacific, today’s daily CO2 reading from the Moana Lua observatory on Hawaii shows a reduction since July, from 407 to 405 (approx.) parts-per-million. Encouragingly, this is down again on the record 412 ppm recorded in April.

Recalling that up to 1900 the burden had remained at about 285 ppm and by 2015 averaged only 401 ppm; however, concentrations as high as 860 ppm were being recorded over British Columbia and Central Asia during the summer, owing to wildfires. And we need to understand that what we put into the air now remains there for 100 years, absorbing solar energy.

Overall, the trendlines for CO2, CH4 (methane) and NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), the principal greenhouse gases, remain on an alarming upward trajectory; while increasingly moisture-laden higher-altitude storms and unrestricted airline operations are adding rapidly to the burden of water vapor in the stratosphere, also considered a greenhouse gas.

*When you burn a tree, consider that: a) it releases its stored carbon to the atmosphere, while b) it no longer absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere.

Consider also that c) humans have a notoriously short attention span, and d) one swallow doth not a summer make.

 

Weather overground:

Hurricane Maria: weakening to a Cat 2 as it moves north over colder waters, the ‘will-it, won’t it?’ make landfall along the US East Coast debate continues. Even if not, it will be felt as it passes between the Outer Banks of N Carolina and Bermuda. It is still a huge and violent storm bearing potentially 2-3 feet of rain. Death toll across the Caribbean now exceeds 30 and many remote areas have yet to be reached.

Dominica island or the Dominican Republic , this is your future. (themontserratreporter)

90% of homes in Dominica have sustained damage or destruction. Guajataca dam on Puerto Rico still threatening to give way (24 Sept.), 70,000 evacuated from communities in its floodpath. “The storm dumped over 960 mm of rain in Caguas on 21 September.” High winds and flooding too claimed lives in Haiti and the Dominican Republic (24 Sept.).

Atlantic: Meanwhile, Jose is still toggling gamely around in the west Atlantic but has weakened to a depression and not likely to make landfall. Great relief as nothing new seems to be forming off the West African coast, although it’s still early in the season. Former Tropical Depression, Lee has woken up in mid-Atlantic after doing nothing for days and has strengthened to a Cat 2 hurricane, on a predicted northeasterly track – ie towards northern Europe, the UK, Iceland – but weakening again to a TS over colder waters.

UK: remnants of both Lee and Maria expected to merge into one storm system arriving western British Isles Sunday 1st through Tuesday 3rd.

Australia: New South Wales/Sydney experiences first-ever 40C (104F) heatwave – for September (early spring month). Heatwave extends up into Queensland. Both areas suffered record heat last summer.

Guatemala: raging floods continuing after days of intense rainfall.

Spain: Another heavy ice-storm, this time on the lovely Moorish city of Teruel, Aragon. Rivers of ice flowing through the streets freeze solid for a time. Many lightning strikes. “35 litres of water per square meter fell in half an hour, causing localised flooding, as well as leaving a number of people requiring treatment for hypothermia. The storm hit just before 9PM, after a sudden drop in temperature of nearly 20 degrees.” Severe, possibly disruptive thunderstorm alert out for Vilabella, SE Spain.

  • Your Granny’s theory for why there have been so many heavy icefall events in an otherwise hotter than normal summer: storms across Europe have reached higher altitudes than normal owing to warmer air and fragmenting of the jetstream winds. Higher cloud tops at 40-60 thousand feet where temperatures are as low as minus 60C produce greater volumes of freezing rain.

Gran Canaria: wildfires raging in city outskirts, metres from hotels. Tourists sent fleeing.

Congo: death toll in Kivu state flooding officially now 12, over 100 missing. Torrential rain and landslides destroy many homes.

Malaysia: extreme flash-flooding and rivers overflowing in Perlis and Kedah regions.

Indonesia: Bengkulu region hit by extreme flash-flooding.

Thailand: Khuan Kalong hit by extreme flash-flooding. Satun province experiencing third major flooding event this year. Thousands of acres of rice paddy rotting. Major dam at Phitsanulok dangerously exceeding capacity.

India: Torrential rains continue to fall in Kerala province, with flash-floods and landslides, casualties reported. Schools and colleges shut. More rain over Mumbai (Bombay), flooded last month, is bringing September to a record month, already the second highest rainfall total recorded.

USA: weird weather has the country split in half. “Parts of the U.S. Midwest and Northeast and adjacent Canada were running 12 – 20°C (22 – 38°F) above average, while parts of the Rocky Mountains and Great Basin were 12 – 20°C (22 – 38°F) below average.” Many northeastern cities have experienced 90F-plus temperature surges over the weekend, setting new record highs for late September. “Provo, Utah (Brigham Young University) had a daytime high of just 42°F on Sunday, which was its coldest day ever notched during September in records going back to 1916.” At the same time it was 93F in Toronto, its hottest day of the year so far and hottest day ever recorded in late September.

USA: Up to 5″ rain and flash flooding warnings out in East Texas.

Antarctica: ‘A-68’, the trillion-tonne monster iceberg the size of Cyprus, that calved from the Larsen-C shelf three months ago, is thought finally to be on the move out into the South Atlantic.

The Weather Channel/ Moana Loa observatory/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #69/ Wunderground/ English Radio News, Spain/ Floodlist/ Reuters

 

End of everything – a brief update

Latest news from the unfolding cataclysm at Yellowstone….

In a recent interview, USGS’ Yellowstone veteran, Bob Smith advised jokingly that it’s when the earthquakes stop you have to worry.

After the longest spell in recent times of earthquake swarms in the caldera, up to 60 a day since early June, complete with alarming ground uplift, tilting lakes, intensification and darkening of the geysers, boiling rivers, dead fish episodes, a pervasive smell of sulfur, reports of static electricity shocks and triboluminescence (an effect of rocks shearing) and the more-or-less continuous rumblings of new magma filling the underground chambers, coupled with the mildly disturbing erasure of USGS reports of selective tremors, monkeying with the seismographic charts and the mysterious failures of online live camera feeds, the tremors appear to have almost stopped….

…except that just outside the caldera along what are suspected to be connected faultlines there are abnormal, ongoing and unusually intense swarms of M3+ earthquakes in Idaho, around Soda Springs, and in Montana since July when an unexpected M5.8 earthquake arrived near Lincoln, coincidentally around the time the Yellowstone swarm began….

…and except for the frequent harmonic tremors, generally regarded as precursors to an eruption.

Meanwhile, M3+ earthquakes have been reported simultaneously, directly beneath the cones of both Mt St Helen’s and Mt Rainier in nearby Washington state – both very large volcanoes, although eruptions are not thought to be imminent they are on the edge of the Yellowstone system. While over in Italy, seismologists are reportedly worrying more by the day that the Campi Flegrei supervolcano in the middle of Naples could be about to erupt. It last had a major eruption in 1553, but the signs are all of it exhaling, yawning and stretching.

One way or another, they’s a gonna getcha. Praise the Lord.

 

Mind the gap

Let it not be said that merely being black, American and/or a ‘rapper’ is invariably an indication of advanced mental degeneration.

However, Mr B.o.B., an all-of-the-above, is making a pretty good show of it.

Please be careful when approaching the edge of the platform. (gizmodo.com)

He has posted a picture of a town somewhere in America with, rising in the background, the towers of Manhattan; arguing that, as the two places are 16 miles apart, but you can see them both, there cannot be any curvature of the earth’s surface between them. The logic is somewhat suspect, since in the photo you can only see the tops of the towers as there is a hill in the way. In any case, the horizon when seen from an average 5’10” person’s eyeline at sea-level is generally viewed at a distance of 3 miles. From the top of Mt Everest it is 209 miles. (Wikipedia) The discrepancy must indicate curvature.

Seeking to raise $200,000 (£150,000) on the GoFundMe crowd-funding website, which would be nice for the BogPo, B.o.B refers to himself as “Flat Earth Bob”. At the time of writing he had raised a little over $650, but the campaign was trending with promise.

“I’m starting this GoFundMe because I would like to send one, if not multiple satellites, as far into space as I can, or into orbit as I can, to find the curve,” he said in a video on the page. “I’m looking for the curve,” he added. – BBC News

B.o.B. (Bobby Ray Simmons Jr) believes the earth is, in fact, a disc. Made, one assumes, hopefully of platinum. He also thinks NASA, the focus of most conspiracy theories in America, employs people to stop you falling off the edge. He has even engaged in profound dialogue with the popular cosmologist du jour, Neil de Grasse Tyson, who in replying politely sounds like he thinks Simmons is a bit of a self-publicizing idiot.

In case you are minded to send him a few dollars, please note that it is far simpler and cheaper just to point him in the direction of the million-and-one images transmitted back to Houston or wherever from the moon, or the International Space Station, that may be found on Google, in which he will see ‘the curve’ displayed in all its splendor, in three dimensions, without needing to clutter space with yet more pointless junk.

No doubt he will look at the images and remark, with his customary wisdom, that it still looks like a disc to him, ‘cos it’s, like, round?

Mind the gap.

 

Women in broadcasting: a sour note. Women in politics: a shower note. Is it all uber? Granny W: It’s more of the same. Is this the end of Pumpkin mania? And: disappearing ocean: Why on earth does this keep happening?

“As you can see, the plan is the plan, Boris is Boris and Brexit is basically fucked.” Theresa OWNS Johnny Frog in Florence (photo: cityam.com)

 

Women in broadcasting: a sour note

I really don’t want to hear any more bollocks about and from women in broadcasting.

Yes, pay levels should be set according to the demands and responsibilities of the job, not according to the feebleness or pushiness of individual broadcasters and their agents when it comes to negotiating fees; or according to gender, or how how white and middle-aged you are.

In my day, he said loftily, having worked at the BBC for all of eight, or was it 18, months (all memory gone), you had proper pay grades. I was an MP (for Management and Production) Grade 2 , or something, and I worked as a regular on-air announcer – also writing the hourly main news bulletins and producing trails – for the breakfast programme, Rush Hour. Had I stayed, instead of taking up a more exciting but ultimately disastrous management role with a commercial radio start-up, I should have progressed inexorably up the spine, whatever it’s called, to MP5 and the job of Director-General, obviously.

Nowadays a BBC staff contract could get you anything from £150 thousand to £650 thousand a year, depending on your gender, just for reading a script into a microphone. Back in the day, I was getting £42 a shift on a monthly renewable deal.

Anyway, I’m not talking about pay here, but about the endless moaning noise we hear on the subject of representation; or lack of it.

Depending on your gender, sexual orientation, colour or ethnicity, there are never enough of you around in the office to make you feel secure, are there? Unless you’re a middle-aged white guy, right?

So, I woke up early this morning and switched on the Today show. Two female co-presenters, one of them Muslim, of Pakistani parentage. Handing over for the 7 o’clock news to a female newscaster. Who reads the first story, about our female Prime Minister making an important speech in Florence, and hands over for the expert analysis to the BBC’s chief political correspondent, Laura Kuennsberg. Second story down the bulletin, and the fourth and fifth, contain reports voiced by women presenters/reporters. A report has Alice Oswald being appointed as the BBC’s new poet-in-residence; one of two producers of the show is credited as a woman.

Let’s put that one to bed, shall we? Regardless of the fact that Huw Edwards is 103, women are adequately represented in broadcasting. Period.

Ooops.

 

“Any less pleasant sweaty smells early on quite soon disappear, as the natural bacteria you have been scraping off, poisoning and flushing down the drain for years reassert their beneficent command of your flora.”

Women in politics: a shower note

On the subject of women’s representation, a BBC News report today highlights Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, founder of South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, who “has revealed that she only showers every third day.”

Strict grammarians might be tempted to ask what she does on the other days? Journalists nowadays are not taught where to place the auxiliary adverb. She ‘only showers every third day’ means one thing, she ‘showers only every third day’ another entirely.

“I shower briefly‚ once every three days‚ and for the rest wash in the hand basin. I used to wash my hair every day‚ but now only when I shower‚ with visibly negative consequences,” Ms Zille wrote in a column. (Note the correct placement of ‘only’.)

There is of course a reason for Ms Zille’s shocking revelation, her apparently antisocial behavior: she wishes to inspire the populace to save water. As Granny Weatherwax has previously recorded in a Post on this bogl:

“The Western Cape – famed for its winelands, mountains and beaches – has been experiencing severe water shortages which have worsened in the last year due to a drought in the region.”

The news has inspired the usual bollockstorm of tweets speculating nastily on the premier’s personal hygiene and lack of fragrance. I have news for the pathetic dimwits who cannot imagine living without a bathroom full of overpriced bottled products offering to mask their natural aroma of ‘Twit’ by Lenthéric: it really isn’t necessary to bathe every day, it is a habit inculcated I believe on purely social grounds by the Romans, a bonding rite, which continues to be plundered profitably to this day by companies such as L’Oreal, Johnson & Johnson, Body Shop and Laboratoires Garnier.

For the past eight months or so, I have been secretly conducting a small personal experiment.

I had heard or possibly read of freelance journalists desperately seeking original material to write about, who have gone along for months not showering, washing their hair or changing their clothes, to observe the effect on their fellows. An Australian newscaster, for instance, wore the same suit to the office daily for a year and was able to wring many lucrative articles and interviews out of a media curious to hear about his experience of not being challenged even once by colleagues or viewers over his sartorial experiment.

It started really without me being aware of it. As time went on, apathy took over from disinterest. Living alone, unpartnered, with no-one to seize the moral high-ground, no-one to cajole me, I simply grew out of the habit of washing altogether, contenting myself with a wipeover from week to week with a damp flannel or a wet-wipe (point of order: DO NOT FLUSH WET-WIPES down the loo, they clog up the sewers).

This was in, I think, about February – there was no starting-point to the experiment, it just overtook me. (I confess to having one shower, in early May, prior to a social event. Just the one, and no hairwash.)

And what, QED, has been the observed result?

I have determined that if you keep your clothes clean and change them regularly, you don’t live on the streets or wander the byways of Britain pushing your worldly goods in a pram, and you don’t jog, play netball or over-exert yourself on hot days, you should not become offensive at all. I have received no complaints from colleagues, friends and family, noticed no surreptitious edging away or wrinkling of nostrils. You should not become infested with rats, cockroaches or pubic lice; nor should you develop scabies, alopecia or leprosy.

Any less pleasant sweaty smells that manifest early on quite soon disappear, as the natural bacteria you have been poisoning, scraping off and flushing down the drain for years reassert their beneficent command of your flora.

‘Cor blimey, izzat me?’ Premiere Zille embraces her inner primate. (photo: blackopinion.co.za)

The skin has natural mechanisms for cleansing itself, as does the hair. A greyish discoloration here and there does little harm. I keep my hair short, but otherwise ignore it. Should it become itchy, as has happened once or twice in the past months, it is permissible to rinse the scalp with plain water. My beard comes and goes according to whether or not I have been cast to play a pirate this season, but generally I keep it short and, where it grows in the wrong places, trimmed. (A bigger problem my face faces is that beard refuses to grow at all in the right places.)

The privies, of course, are another matter. Those intimate areas need to be kept under control; especially if you are an elderly gentleman and have problems as a result of prostatic hyperplasia. I recall actually quitting a choir in which a rather gamey old baritone insisted on sitting next to me at every session (I generally give off the right notes) who smelled overpoweringly of stale urine; only to find later on that I myself could on occasion detect a similar hint of nocturnal retention. A simple procedure however quickly remedies the defect; as does more frequent replacement of the undergarment.

“I shower briefly‚ once every three days‚ and for the rest wash in the hand basin. I used to wash my hair every day‚ but now only when I shower‚ with visibly negative consequences,” Ms Zille wrote in a column. “However‚ I regard oily hair in a drought to be as much of a status symbol as a dusty car.”

It is an all-too human foible, that many people who daily strip their hair of its natural oils using astringent shampoos then set about replacing them with expensive oily product to regain lost body and shine.

My advice to Premiere Zille is this: if you shower and wash your hair every three days, by the third day you will certainly have personal freshness issues. If you wish to save water and heat-energy on environmental grounds, and you don’t want colleagues to shun you at meetings, you need to stop washing altogether. After a couple of weeks no-one will notice, I promise you.

And provided you can resist writing a column about it, you will feel empowered by your little secret to achieve more on the days when you used to ‘only shower’.

 

“Just for this totally non-urgent delivery, that could have arrived Monday and I’d have been delighted, an entire economy has been pressed into gear to ensure my consumer satisfaction…”

Is it all uber?

Look, I’m going to make a comparison. London may have 500 thousand people who love Uber, and 40 thousand drivers who may soon be in other employment, but out here beyond the Styx we’ve never heard of Uber, and couldn’t frankly give one.

The town station precinct is stiff with minicabs, until you happen to need one urgently during the school-run hour, when they become as rare as dragons’ teeth. Out here, we are all rather elderly. Our version of WhatsApp? is more ‘What’s an app?’. It’s hard enough getting a phone signal, let alone mess with data.

Tomorrow’s World: the end of the anthropocene. (photo: alamy.com)

But I’m a voracious consumer of other people’s news and so I’m aware that this formerly innocent ride-sharing service that’s been taken over by ultracapitalist raptors like George Osborne’s BlackRock Corp. and turned into a market-devouring monopoly monster has been deemed not fit for purpose by Transport for London, who have withdrawn their operators’ licence.

Which brings me more to the point, to that other social paradigm-shifter, Amazon UK.

For, reading between the lines, it would appear that while issues of public safety and concern for the welfare of Uber drivers stuck on their treadmill and being ripped off for 25 per cent of their already cut-price fares by a bunch of billionaire beanbags in California may have played their part, nevertheless it’s the dystopian nightmare of an unregulated world of instant consumer gratification that is at the root of TfL’s unease.

Not having to stand outside the theatre in the rain trying to do that whistling thing with your fingers, metaphorically, is making me queasy too.

Yesterday afternoon, I realized two things of monumental insignificance: one, that a guitar I have advertised for sale has some superficial pick-abrasions I hadn’t noticed before; and two, that I was out of guitar polishing wax.

So, as you do, I went online to Amazon.uk and after a bit of browsing and consulting the five-star reviews, mostly professionally copywritten, I popped a bottle in my shopping basket. Immediately, with a little prompting from a passing algorithm, it occurred to me that I might also benefit from clipping one of those handy digital tuning dinguses to my gorgeous new Fibonacci guitar, as my ear for ‘perfect pitch’ has been a little off lately. So I stuck one of those on the bill too.

That was at about five o’clock, and I was expecting nothing until maybe Monday, given that Amazon are still sulking over my withdrawal from the free 30-day Prime service they had suckered me into trialling. But at about one a.m., when all good retailers should be tucked up in bed, my phone pinged to tell me my orders had been dispatched. (I find it odd that people can get through with these kinds of messages, but you have to stand in the road here to make a call.)

I assumed it must be the previous day’s orders, but at nine forty-five in the morning, incidentally a Saturday, the doorbell went, and there was a postman bearing two brown cardboard envelopes, a digital delivery recorder, and a welcome rebate of £300 overpaid Council Tax from the Finance Office.

And I feel guilty.

Just for this totally non-urgent delivery, that could have arrived Monday or even Tuesday and I’d have been delighted, an entire economy of staggering complexity has been pressed into gear to ensure my consumer satisfaction ratings never flag.

I mean, where would Amazon keep a spare bottle of GHS Guitar Gloss (No Cloudy Build-Up!) AND a D’Addario digital headstock tuner with colour display, so that a postman out here on an industrial estate in the outskirts of a Victorian seaside town which, while being famously agreeable, is nevertheless three hours from anywhere, could trudge up my garden path bearing these obscure and inexpensive little items packed and invoiced, barely 16 hours after I ordered them?

How many underpaid, overworked warehouse night-shifters and delivery drivers and postal sorting office workers and postmen and machines and vans and clever computer systems and vast distribution nodes with automated picking robots and tax-avoidance specialists with all the latest technology are involved in, and dedicated entirely to, this totally spurious enterprise, designed merely to intimidate and undercut the traditional retail sector and to convince the population that the corporate sector offers us the gleaming prospect of infinite abundance forever?

And what will happen when, like British Airways’ operations last spring, some exhausted and underpaid maintenance technician accidentally yanks out a plug and the whole thing breaks down under the weight of its own complexity – and the alternative, the competition, the ‘analog world’ if you like, has already been eliminated?

These services designed for the instant gratification of our every whim are truly becoming a menace, a threat to civilization. Driven by an insane philosophy of creating entrepreneurial ‘visionary’ billionaires, lunatics more like, trapped in the whirligig imperative of their own developmental logic, in re-engineering all our futures they have lost sight of what it means to be human.

Just in time, then, for the end of the anthropocene.

x

“No power stronger than human denial”

Granny W: It’s more of the same

SE Asia: Cat 4 Typhoon Doksuri with 135kph winds causes major structural damage and flooding in Vietnam, 8 dead. ‘Tens of thousands’ of homes damaged. Now heading across Laos on track to hit Mymanmar’s capital, Bangkok, head-on. Heavy rains from Doksuri have also affected Thailand, with flooding around Phuket. Over a metre of rain (115 cm) falls on Phrae in the Khan Sathan National Park (16 Sept.). Most parts of the country have severe weather warnings.

Now, which one is this? Or is it just mashed potato? (USAToday)

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

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

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

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

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

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

23 September: entire island without power, possibly ‘for months’. Authorities struggling to evacuate thousands in the path of possible flooding from a failing dam.

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

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

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

Poland: “Over 80 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in the city of Elblag in northern Poland on 19 September. City officials say that streets had to be closed due to flooding after the Kumiela River overflowed.”

Africa: “At least 12 people have died and another 92 are missing in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after torrential rains caused a river to overflow. The heavy rain has also triggered landslides in the area.”

  • US wildfire costs for 2017 now exceed $2.2 billion.
  • Heavy snow blankets the Sierra Nevada: winter has arrived a month early in northern California. One car driver killed.

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

 

“The hurricane of controversy that surrounds his every misdeed and misplaced thought has attained proportions so overwhelming, that there is no point of entry any longer: the devastation is almost total, beyond repair.”

Is this the end of Pumpkin mania?

Readers and, indeed, no-longer readers of this, muh bogl, may have noticed something is missing.

That’s right. There hasn’t been an issue of The Pumpkin for quite a while. What’s gone wrong?

Go away!

The answer is simply that The Pumpkin has finally tired of reporting the antics of the burly old thug, Trump. What is left to say? We’re done insulting him, we’ve run out of epithets. The hurricane of controversy that surrounds his every misdeed and misplaced thought has attained proportions so overwhelming that there is no point of entry any longer: the devastation is almost total, beyond repair.

We know he’s not right in the head, never has been. We blame the parents, of course – advancing senility, syndromic narcissism and untreated ADHD. We know he’s a finagler, a double-dealer, a bullying, vindictive and unpleasant screwer-over of rivals, has been all his miserable life; and not a particularly successful one, although he’s got away with it. We know he’s not really a billionaire, as he claims, other than in the negative sense; just a miser.

We know he’s overweeningly vain, boastful, solipsistic, childishly vindictive, morally defective, a compulsive liar and fantasist, believing in no God but only the power of money. We know his money has done nothing good in the world. We know he looks up only to those who are richer and nastier than he is and regards the rest of us as mere losers.

We already know the severe limitations of his intellect make him almost an imbecile: inarticulate, unlettered, incoherent, inchoate, incompetent, a graceless baboon, he lacks any knowledge or the desire or even the concentration needed to gain knowledge of any part of the job of President of the United States of America, other than the power to fire or pardon, or to set-off Armaggedon; and so he just wings it.

We know too, all about his debts to Russian and Chinese banks, his at-any-cost approach leaving him open to accusations of treason; his squalid business methods: his career-long associations with organized criminals, trafficking of underage models and unhygienic financial habits that render him perpetually open to prosecutions he generally has bought his way out of, using other people’s money.

He is so awful, it almost makes him interesting.

We know that he is so petty, he once stole seven dollars from his own tax-exempt charity foundation to pay his son’s subscription to the Boy Scouts of America, to whom this July he gave the greatest speech they had ever heard; not. Alternatively, a load of self-pitying bullshit and vain bragadoccio. We hear too of him cutting-off an allowance his late father had made to cover health bills for his chronically invalid cousin; and of how he skimmed half a million dollars from his son Eric’s fundraising activities on behalf of a children’s cancer charity, for use of his tacky golf resort facilities.

We know, in short, from what everyone has said that he is a disgusting, mentally defective, spiritually void, morally reprehensible apology for a human being, unfit to hold office or to represent any higher values of the American nation than grubby nepotism, expediency, delusional thinking and greed.

But.

Believing we know all that is not helping. Saying it is not helping – he has already started the process of picking on even the least of his critics and leavening dire threats against their persons and careers. We can hope only that Mr Mueller, the FBI and Congress between them can bring this grotesque feral clown down before he brings them down, and the world with them, crashing down about his waxy old ears.

But it’s not looking hopeful.

x

Why on earth does this keep happening?

Off the beach: sea mysteriously recedes once again off the coast of Brazil. (Strange Sounds)

So, it’s happened again. Two days ago, the sea retreated from the shore at Recua do Mar, Guaratuba, Brazil. ‘Scientists’ are still saying it’s due to a low-pressure bulge sucking water in from around, owing to some massive storm in the south Atlantic. Scientists often offer crass explanations when they haven’t a clue what’s going on.

It’s not an impossible proposition – a similar effect was seen as Hurricane Irma passed the Bahamas two weeks ago. In this case a cursory check of the weather satellites over the region shows once again – this phenomenon started to be observed in mid-August – there is no storm off the coast of Brazil.

But there is further north, as Hurricane Maria has just chewed its way across the northern end of the Caribbean, causing destruction on a grand scale in the Virgin Islands, Costa Rica and the Turks and Caicos islands.

Now, that’s hundreds of miles from southern Brazil. The likelihood of its having an effect over such a distance seems small.

Or does it? (dat-dat-daaaahhh… dramatic incidental music…)

Climatologist Paul Beckwith of Ottawa University has just posted an intriguing series of three podcasts asking the question, can hurricanes cause earthquakes?

The answer appears to be yes. Beckwith points to numerous ‘coincidences’ when hurricanes such as Sandy (2011) have triggered seismological events all across the North American craton, leading to major M6 and M7 earthquakes on the west coast of Canada.

Mexico has been hit or near-missed by four hurricanes and several tropical storms over the past couple of months, while at the same time suffering an unusually intense series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions – 60 in just the past seven days, including the devastating M7.1 earlier this week. At the time of writing, Oaxaca province has just been hit by a M6.1 earthquake to go with the M8.1 that hit just off the coast two weeks ago. Beckwith also refers to a report we carry briefly above, that the weight of floodwater from Hurricane Harvey was so great as to have depressed the earth’s crust by an inch. That will now be springing back as the waters recede.

I’ve mentioned before, the website of one ‘MrMBB333’, a relatively sane-sounding weather blogger who picked up this story back in August and threw in for good measure, some speculation about the ‘South American Roll’. It’s a way-out theory that suggests that the South American craton (a craton is a continuous, supposedly unfractured and stable tectonic plate) is not stable, and that the subcontinent is threatening to rollover – obviously, when the earth’s geomagnetic poles ‘flip’, as they do approximately every 65 thousand years.

If the force of a large hurricane hitting the East Coast can transfer all the way across the North American plate to cause an earthquake off Vancouver island, is it not possible that even bigger hurricanes like Harvey, Irma, Norma and Max, Tropical Storm Lydia and, now, Hurricane Maria, might be powerful enough to cause the very slight roll, or tilt, of the unstable South American craton that might be needed to briefly expose a few extra meters of the shallow east coast continental shelf off Brazil, without triggering any earthquakes other than in nearby Mexico?

I think we should be told.

http://strangesounds.org/2017/09/water-disappears-from-beaches-in-guaratuba-brazil-video-pictures-is-brazil-bracing-for-a-huge-storm.html

 

The BogPo #650: A creature of habit… iPass, thanks… Granny Weatherwax: and it’s all change…

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

 

Public philosophy

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

A creature of habit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, precisely one bottle.

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

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

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

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

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

They don’t cater to borderline alcoholics.

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

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

The monkey is off your back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On top of the radio.

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

What am I  like?

x

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

iPass, thanks

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Sent from my Android phone)

x

Stormy weather, with Granny Weatherwax

And it’s all change…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curious facts:

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

“It owes a lot to Agatha Christie; except, obviously, for the gratuitous heaving buttocks.”

In the sweet by-and-by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another interrupted breakfast for Commissario Montalbano.

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

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

Must we now say ciao?

For next week, we start a terrifying new series, The Dark Lake – yet another murder mystery with the word ‘Lake’ in the title – in which a party of human backstories are stranded for eight episodes of gradual mayhem amid the local rednecks in a remote mountain lodge. It owes a lot to Agatha Christie; except, obviously, for the gratuitous heaving buttocks. I shall in future be avoiding lakes, as they obviously have sinister associations. But I have a dilemma: whether to resume drinking, or stick with the 1-step programme (just don’t do it!) that has already saved me enough money to spend another weekend in November cavorting with jazz musicians; a peculiar peccadillo of mine.

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

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

 

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

Here be Dragonnes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But. There’s Cousin C., you see.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m not, much.

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

Your Granny W. writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reliability, a note:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Diggers: Just Keep Digging

Rebel with a cause? (photo: EPA)

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

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

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

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

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

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Important questions of our time #29:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A nuclear exchange would be considerably worse.

So, guys, let’s not try it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Venezuela: downtown Caracas flooded after heavy rains.

Guatemala: Heavy rain flash-floods town of Almalonga.

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

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

Croatia: powerful hailstorms. Town of Pula flooded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

8th September

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Bag tax

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He doesn’t give a fuck about you!

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle up.

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