The Pumpkin – Issue 35: Tweety-pie Strikes Back … Mid-East: US energy policy on the back-burner? … GW: Your old granny with the inside-out umbrella (etc. – under construction)

“George who? No, I just sent him to Guantanamo.” Trump sees no Papadopouloses at his table.

 

Tweety-pie strikes back

According to The Guardian: Mr Trump – perhaps we need to start calling him Old Yellowstone, for his tweetswarms, his unusual color and his imminent threat of extinction – issued a series of four angry tweets on Sunday morning (29 Oct.):

  • “Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?),….
  • “…the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia,….
  • “…’collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s…
  • “…are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”

About an hour later he tweeted (loudly): “All of this ‘Russia’ talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!”

Is it possible?

Does Tweety-pie actually believe in his own fantasies?

There is no “UNITY” in the Republican party. They all hate him, of course, but the party is split between those who are terrified of what will happen to their majorities if they do dump him and those who don’t plan on carrying on this farce anyway as it’s all got too seriously awful and they’re leaving.

Clinton did not make the “Fake Dossier”, most of which has been verified independently by US security services. It was commissioned originally by the Republican party. The fact of its commissioning does not prove collaboration between Clinton and the Kremlin: it was commissioned from a British security consultant who was briefed to find out what information the Russians had on Trump. It did not result from contact between Clinton and the Kremlin. It is absurd to suggest the Russians paid for it.

The Pumpkin does not understand the reference to $12 million dollars, unless it is the $12.7 million paid to Paul Manafort for ‘political consultancy’ to the departed Ukrainian kleptocrat, Viktor Yanukovitch, said to have looted the State coffers of $37 billion.

There has never been any evidence that Clinton secretly conspired to sell a Canadian company mining uranium in the US, Uranium One, to Russia in exchange for campaign donations. The allegation surfaced in a 2010 book by a Breitbart News contributor and was aired by Trump supporter, Sean Hannity of Fox News; a notorious fabricator of questionable truths. Even if she had facilitated a deal under US rules, there would have been nothing illegal about such a deal had it gone through the proper channels. Which as far as anyone can tell, it did.

The question is, was she aware (as head of the State Department, overseeing nine government agencies required to approve the deal) that the FBI was investigating corrupt practices in the Russian nuclear industry at the time? Did she even have a decision in the matter? Probably not, says the Washington Post. Trump’s claim has been exhaustively investigated by journalists and found to be without any basis, but there’s a Congressional investigation going on anyway.

The FBI’s “Russia” investigation began long before Trump proposed his disgraceful so-called budget corruptly offering $trillions in tax cuts to his donor billionaires and corporations and ramping up the national debt at the expense of public health and the environment, illogic based on the discredited garbage ‘trickle-down’ economics of Arthur Laffer. The Mueller investigation has nothing whatever to do with tax reform, that is just a typically Trumpian red herring.

The FBI investigated the 33,000 ‘deleted emails’ (you can’t delete emails other than from your own files) and found nothing to prove any breach of security, criminal activity or intent. Trump may have learned of the emails for the first time in the immediate aftermath of a secret meeting at Trump Tower between his son, Don Moron Jr, together with Kushner and Manafort, and the Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya, who had with her three current or former members of the Russian intelligence community, on 9 June, 2016. But it appears they may have been known about in April, from a meeting Papadopoulos says he had with a mysterious Russian ‘professor’ in London. Whatever.

Thousands more emails hacked by the Russians that somehow found their way into the possession of Julian Assange’s poisonous Wikileaks entity came from the server, not of Clinton but of her campaign manager, John Podesta, a former White House Chief of Staff. While they show that various possibly controversial policy options were being bandied about, some of which experts agree might have been inserted by the Russians to discredit Clinton, there was absolutely nothing incriminating in them; unless, along with Crazy Alex Jones, you are happy to believe they contained secret code for paedophile activities worldwide.

Subsequent to which several attempts were made by the Trump gang, first to deny the 9 June meeting ever took place, then to present it as a non-starter or about something completely trivial and irrelevant, adoption policy, to conceal its true purpose, which is still unclear; although it is the view of The Pumpkin that so many of the invited attenders having so much experience of moving large sums of dirty money through offshore shell companies must indicate that a pipeline was almost certainly being discussed to fund an illicit campaign support operation by the Russians (it’s illegal to accept foreign funding for elections in the USA), possibly including the buying of social media advertising.

The president himself was implicated by witnesses in drafting a false account of the meeting while aboard Airforce 1, ostensibly to protect his drooling offspring. That didn’t work. While, in the immediate aftermath of the meeting, a known Republican bag-man, Peter Smith, reporting to General Mike Flynn, began to recruit computer specialists (including a Russian speaker) with the apparent aim of tracing the Clinton email tranche to obtain “dirt” on her. Really? with the entire resources of the GRU and Wikileaks to call on?

The following December, Jared Kushner held an illegally undeclared meeting in New York with the head of Vnesheconombank, former FSB-man and Putin crony Sergey Gorkov; after the revelation emerged, Kushner claimed to have been opening a “back-channel” to Russia, with a sanctioned bank. This was interpreted as meaning a diplomatic back-channel, however it seems probable that Kushner had two items on the agenda: one, paying for Russian support in the election with ‘dark money’, and two, patching up his own finances following massive losses in the New York property market. It was a financial “back-channel” – what you might term a “black-channel”.

Mr Trump has now turned on his son-in-law, claiming he gave him bad advice to fire Comey, without which Mueller would never have been appointed. We don’t think so.

The only “facts” that are “pouring out” then are that, whether known or unknown to him, Trump’s campaign team contained a number of figures – Flynn, Page, Manafort – potentially indictable in separate conspiracies to treat with foreign powers in breach of the Logan Act; that the scale and scope of Russian interference to rig Trump’s election – he did say the election was rigged – has become a noteworthy aim of the Mueller investigations, and that there are suspicions of money-laundering and sanctions-busting on a grand scale.

These desperate tweets of his, with their bizarre flurry of excited capitals are conclusive proof that Trump is a) terrified, b) mentally incapacitated and c) profoundly compromised, and must be removed from office immediately (along with his cronies) for the sake of national security.

But the hope that Mueller’s first Grand Jury indictments in the case will include the Orange Orb himself need not detain us

Yes. “DO SOMETHING!”

Please.

(Spoiler: It’s Manafort and Rick Gates, his “business partner”. Manafort faces 12 counts of money laundering, totalling $75 million; failure to declare his consultancy work for a foreign government, described as anti-American activity, and tax fraud: his starters. Meanwhile, former Trump advisor, George Papadopoulos (see below, also Pumpkins passim, re Noble Energy and an Israeli gas pipeline contract) has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the timing of meetings with alleged go-betweens for Russia. The stated aim was to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin: this seems highly implausible, for about 103 reasons.

“George Papadopoulos admitted the talks happened while he worked for Mr Trump, not before, court papers show. He said he had been told the Russians possessed “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.” – USA Today.

This “digging the dirt on Clinton” excuse used by all of Trump’s guilty transition team people for all their dealings with the Russians is beginning to wear thin, no? After all, they could just make dirt up, they’re good at that.

And did, seemingly.

 

Mid-East: US energy policy on the back-burner?

Media coverage of the Mueller Grand Jury indictments curiously fails to answer one key question. In June 2016, the Trump campaign was poised on the verge of having its boy adopted as the candidate of the Republican right. Was it just a case of ‘one more heave’ when Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and put Manafort in the job? Why did he do that?

It seems Manafort was proposed by the reptilian ‘fixer’, Roger Stone – an old Trump ally and former business partner. Manafort and Stone had expertise with helping foreign political parties to win elections, specializing in “difficult clients” – brutal dictators – although he doesn’t seem to have been too successful with the deposed Ukrainian leader, Viktor Yanukovitch, who fled to Moscow via the Crimea in a convoy hastily organized by his friend President Putin at the height of the Maidan Square revolution in Kiev.

However, ’twas not always thus, as Fusion TV reported in April 2016:

“Manafort’s efforts paid off: Over the next several years, the Party of Regions gained power in the legislative and judicial branches. By 2010, Yanukovych had made a stunning comeback, again winning the presidency, and overseeing a regime that held on to power by funneling government money to his “Family” of oligarchs and party apparatchiks. As a 2007 US embassy cable describing the Party of Regions inner circle put it: “Ukraine’s history is marred with non-transparent privatizations that have benefited a few well-connected insiders.”

Yanukovitch was said by the Ukrainian opposition to have looted the State coffers of $37 billion. The figure is probably an exaggeration, although his grandiose palace with its underground boxing arena and zoo, his gold toilets and personalized whisky bottles speak of an extravagant lifestyle. At the same time, account ledgers have turned up showing huge payments to Manafort: he seems to have been paid $600 thousand a month for undisclosed “services” – in total around $28 million – a figure he denies. The deposed leader’s fortune must have gone somewhere: Swiss banks can no longer be relied on to maintain confidentiality in such delicate matters.

So was he just this improbably successful, street-smart PR man? Lynton Crosby on steroids? Something else that turned up were references to Manafort in the Panama Papers. It seems that in addition to spending huge sums undeclared to the IRS, he may have set up a number of tax-exempt offshore companies that are now the subject of the Grand Jury indictments against him. Was he helping Yanukovitch to squirrel away his ill-gotten gains? The names of Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs associated with this bewildering network of exchange relationships read like a Who’s Who of Putin’s cronies: the Akhmetovs, Firtasz, Kolesnikov, Deripaska… some of them associated with organized crime or the embezzlement of huge sums acquired from Putin’s privatizations.

Clearly, Manafort’s connections and expertise at offshore “investments” must have counted for as much in the minds of the inexperienced brigands in the Trump campaign as his undoubted ability to manipulate voters, even in a foreign country where he did not speak the language. Trump’s – and subsequently the Republicans’ – rapid about-turn on personalized sanctions against many of these oligarchs and their business associates, and the abandonment of policies critical of the Russian annexation of Crimea, the shooting-down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 and the military intervention in the civil unrest in east Ukraine, were directly linked to Manafort’s arrival on the team.

And here too was a reason for him to have been present at the 9 June meeting with the Kremlin lawyer, Veselnitskaya, who was accompanied to Trump Tower by three Russians, or naturalized Americans, with past FSB or GRU (Russian intelligence) connections – including Ike Khaveladze, a financier said to have set up over 2,000 offshore shell companies for Russian and Ukrainian “investors”.

This meeting was clearly not about getting the “Magnitsky Act” banning US adoptions of Russian children, or other sanctions lifted, as the Trump team insisted at first. Nor, The Pumpkin suspects, was it about getting hold of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton (the charmingly self-incriminating excuse de nos jours for all those undeclared meetings); nor would it have been about “setting up back-channels” to the Kremlin – unless the channels were a financial pipeline to the Trump campaign, to fund a clandestine program of disinformation using paid-for media to blacken Clinton, Podesta, Bernie Sanders and the Democratic party – to hack the voting machines, to glean private information on millions of voters, to support the Republican party campaign of “voter suppression” and to pay data analytics companies to target personalized messages via social media and Google at millions of wavering voters: the Brexit referendum in the UK being the dry run.

For it appears increasingly likely that Russian money was also behind the Brexit “Leave” campaign in the UK. Recent reporting in The Guardian and Observer newspapers has called into question, the origin of the large sums invested by supposedly wealthy disruptors like Arron Banks in setting up Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party, Leave.EU and the Vote Leave! campaigns; given that Mr Banks, who is married to a Russian, was not, prior to those very large donations, a sufficiently wealthy individual; yet who managed to create an impression of wealth by juggling funds between his raft of company registrations, mostly in the no-longer lucrative motorcycle insurance business.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/oct/19/mp-calls-for-inquiry-into-arron-banks-and-dark-money-in-eu-referendum

In March of this year, sacked FBI director, James Comey admitted in a completely unreported exchange with Congressman Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, that yes, he suspected the Russians had interfered with the EU referendum as well as with the US election. This startling admission has never been investigated.

Links are being explored, too, between the US and British campaigns and Wikileaks, the influential but disruptive anti-Establishment website created by the self-imposed internal political and criminal exile, Julian Assange, that appeared to be – if not working directly for the Russians, at least providing useful services to the “Get Hillary!” and the Brexit Leave campaigns.

So who is Papa Dop?

And then there is this other figure, George Papadopoulos – said to have made a number of unsuccessful attempts on his own initiative to set up a face-to-face meeting between candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin, as if he was some kind of pathetic figure or useful idiot – the “Carter Page” defense.

Alongside “We were just trying to dig some dirt on Hillary”, the other favoured get-out-of-gaol card that is so frequently played by members of the Trump administration when an individual looks like being caught with their fingers in the Samovar is: “Yes, but he was only a very minor unpaid intern on the fringe of the campaign, more a sort of worm really, and of course he never met Trump, who would not know him from the grime under his fingernails”. It’s the line the sweaty woman, Huckabee “I’m a Christian” Sanders is peddling to the depressingly lame White House press corps.

The same excuse has been used to fend off press interest in characters like Felix Sater, the long-term Trump associate reportedly connecting him with property investment funds funnelled from the Russian criminal underworld – who, despite being photographed with his arm around him, and renting an office suite in Trump Tower (Manafort also has an office in the Gilded Phallus), Trump says he would not recognize if he saw him across the room (Trump has obvious issues with his eyesight) – and General Flynn’s son Michael Jr, from whose enthusiastic support for the ludicrous “Pizzagate” allegations against Clinton even the Trump campaign tried to distance itself. (You can always tell when Fuckabee’s lying, her top lip curls to the left and she sweats more heavily.)

Papadopoulos, who has confessed to lying to the FBI about Russian contacts – a federal offense – is now being widely described as a former Trump campaign advisor on foreign policy and a purely peripheral figure on the team, an unpaid intern whom Trump met only once – although a photograph in circulation of a campaign committee meeting with Trump at the helm suggests otherwise. However, only a few months back he was said to be advising on energy policy, as he is or was on the board of a Houston, Texas-based company called Noble Energy, in which Trump is or was a shareholder – and is an alumnus of the climate-change-denying, orl-bidness-funded Hudson Institute. He was also director of the Center for International Energy and Natural Resources Law & Security at the London Center of International Law Practice.

According to DeSmog, an environmental campaigning website, “The story of who Papadoupolous is begins and ends with the Hudson Institute, a think-tank with a long history of climate change denial and anti-science advocacy.”

“A DeSmog investigation has revealed that the Hudson Institute, via industry funding its advocacy efforts, has proven instrumental in opening up Israel’s offshore natural gas reserves for drilling in the Mediterranean Sea for Noble Energy. Likewise, the efforts of Papadoupolous have helped pave the way for Noble to tap into the Mediterranean.”

And as one of his Wikipedia entries reports:

“In 2014, Papadopoulos authored op-ed pieces in Israeli publications. In one, published in the right-wing Arutz Sheva, Papadopoulos argued that the U.S. should focus on its “stalwart allies” Israel, Greece, and Cyprus to “contain the newly emergent Russian fleet”; in another, published in Ha’aretz, he contended that Israel should exploit its natural gas resources in partnership with Cyprus and Greece rather than Turkey.”

Papadopoulos’ co-author, Seth Cropsey is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Papa Dop is no lightweight.

Now, the words ‘Israel’ and ‘Turkey’ should cause lights to flash, as they are closely related to the interests, both of Trump’s Orthodox son-in-law Jared Kushner with his profoundly dodgy Israeli business connections, and of Gen. Flynn and his previously undeclared $500 thousand Turkey PR consultancy work. Far from being this no-account junior intern, the youthful-looking Papadopoulos was clearly key to a major element of the Trump team’s foreign policy in respect of both Israel and its energy interests in the Middle East; which may include containing Iran, a Russian ally, with its vast and underexploited field of natural gas; as well as the schmoozing of the Turks and their erratic dictator, Recep Erdogan.

Another aspect to these relationships involves the possibility of constructing an undersea pipeline to convey Noble gas from the Israeli coast via Cyprus and  Turkey to Ukraine, bypassing problematic Syria and freeing Ukraine from dependence on the contentious Russian supply line. Was that Flynn’s bag?

As the DeSmog blog put it:

“Though Trump has pledged not to be bought off by special interests due to his self-financed campaign, like most other U.S. politicians who want to hold office, he has a vested interest in not taking on the powerful Israel lobby. The same apparently goes for taking on its partner-in-action, Noble Energy, both lobbies of which are embodied in the person of George Papadopoulos.”

http://www.desmogblog.com/2016/03/29/israel-natural-gas-donald-trump-offshore-drilling

 

GW: Your old granny with the inside-out umbrella

The fish market in Hamburg yesterday (efe.com)

Europe: “Powerful storms have wreaked havoc in parts of central and northern Europe (30 Oct), killing at least five people in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. A 63-year-old camper drowned on the German coast as the result of a storm surge while the other four were killed by falling trees in strong winds. Winds reached 180km/h (112mph) on the Czech Republic’s highest mountain. Thousands of Poles and Czechs are still without power. The centre of the German city of Hamburg has been flooded.” (The storm was named Herwart, which might be German for Harvey…)

USA #1: After forming in the Caribbean and passing over Cuba, bringing two powerful tornados and more flooding to Florida, “Tropical Storm Philippe is no more, done in on Sunday afternoon by over 50 knots of wind-shear and merger with a cold front near the North Carolina coast. But much of the moisture and energy from the season’s 16th named storm will feed into a powerful non-tropical coastal storm gathering strength off the coast of North Carolina, and this new “Franken-Philippe” storm is poised to bring damaging high winds and flooding rains to the Northeast U.S. Sunday night though Monday.” Winds in excess of 100 mph were forecast for New Brunswick: this unusual ‘land-hurricane’ threatened to become the most powerful storm to hit New York since Sandy in 2012. Over 1 million were left without power; a 133 mph gust was recorded on Mt Washington..

USA #2: The fatuous moron, Trump has nominated to head the influential White House policy committee on the Environment, a notorious shill for the Koch Brothers and other huge polluters, a rich bitch called Kathleen Hartnett White. A former Rick Perry (ex-Gov. of Texas, now climate-change-denying Energy Secretary and postnatal cretin) appointee with no scientific qualifications, she claims that carbon dioxide is a Good Thing because it is an essential nutrient, which it was until her paymasters virtually doubled the amount in the atmosphere and fucked-up the weather.

This contrarian, lying old cunt with a history of “revising” environmental data prior to publication, author of a book “You Can Happily Breathe Gasoline!” or something like that, claims without a shred of evidence that fracking is creating ‘millions’ of jobs. She claims: “CO2 represents only 5 percent of global greenhouse gas.” In fact, as a greenhouse gas it is 80 per cent. The 5 per cent figure may refer to the volume of CO2 in the atmosphere, although we hope not, it needs to be around 2%, not to the additional burden of industrial gases that is the major cause of the greenhouse effect and has produced at least 1.2 deg C. (more probably 1.8 deg. C.) of warming since the fossil fuel burning began in earnest in the late C18th; more and faster warming than in the past 800 thousand years.

You see how these disingenuous liars twist things to enrich themselves and their friends at your expense?

One suspects she might be so controversial, insane and corrupted by the Texas carbon-vomiters that Trump has named her deliberately to draw more media fire from the Russia Thing. But no, it seems she has been a stain on the White House carpet since 2016 and this is merely a promotion to make the senescent orange moron feel better about the liquid shit that dribbles daily from his horrible lamprey-mouth.

Has she not even noticed that her paymasters at Exxon-Mobil admitted a while ago that the jig was up? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Kathleen Hartnett White: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Japan: Just a week after Typhoon Lan killed 5 people in Japan, the country is bracing for  Tropical Storm Saola. It may track up the east coast of the islands as a Cat 1 typhoon but not make landfall.

World #1: “Concentrations of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Last year’s increase was 50% higher than the average of the past 10 years. (Despite a slowdown in industrial output…) 2016 saw average concentrations of CO2 hit 403.3 parts per million, up from 400 ppm in 2015.” This is apparently the highest since Homo “sapiens” emerged out of Africa. (Localised readings this year have hit 870 ppm.)

Methane concentrations are giving even more cause for concern, but the WMO is reportedly “mystified” as to why they are rising so fast, putting the Paris targets at risk. The Pumpkin offers various inexpert theories: record heat anomalies in the Arctic again this year thawing the tundra, maybe? – record wildfires and forest clearance releasing methane to the atmosphere (and leaving less greenery to absorb the CO2)? – warmer, wetter conditions causing dead tropical vegetation to rot down faster? Increase in messy fracking operations? Increasing meat-eating in the developing world?

Focussed entirely as they appear to be on climate, the WMO scientists appear to be unaware of reports, eg that CO2 emissions are rapidly increasing from wildfires and from bacteria multiplying in warming soils; or that the higher the concentration, the less able the biota are to absorb it; tropical rainforests are now said to be becoming net emitters of greenhouse gases.

World #2: An offshoot of leading medical journal, The Lancet, the specially created Countdown Initiative “reveals … that hundreds of millions of people are already suffering the health impacts of climate change. Its insidious creep is being felt in multiple ways: rising temperatures are hastening the spread of infectious diseases; crop yields are becoming uneven and unpredictable, worsening the hunger and malnourishment for some of the most vulnerable people on the planet; allergy seasons are getting longer; and at times it is simply too hot for farmers to work in the fields.”

The Lancet report’s analysis – there has been a 46% increase in extreme weather disasters since 2000.

World #3:

“Tens of millions of people will be forced from their homes by climate change in the next decade, creating the biggest refugee crisis the world has ever seen, according to a new report. Senior US military and security experts have told the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) study that the number of climate refugees will dwarf those that have fled the Syrian conflict, bringing huge challenges to Europe.”

BBC News/ Weather Underground/ The Real News/ Guardian – Christina Figueres/ Guardian

 

End Times: a weekly or sometimes more report

Pneumonic plague: “A plague outbreak in Madagascar has infected 1,192 people since August, with 124 deaths, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Madagascar’s National Bureau of Risk Management and Disaster reported on Monday. The majority of cases, 67%, were the pneumonic form of the disease.” – CNN 26 Oct. warning travellers to watch for signs like their fingers turning black.

“…the deadly disease has spread into more African countries after taking root in Madagascar. Countries affected include South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Comoros, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion. The World Health Organisation, which has been working with Madagascar’s Ministry of Health, has warned the risk of the epidemic spreading (globally) is “high”.” – UK Daily Star, 30 Oct.

Influenza: “The NHS is braced for the worst flu season in its history amid fears that overcrowded hospitals will be unable to cope” (due to the Brisbane H3N2 virus that has infected 100 thousand Australians and killed “hundreds” following the large-scale failure of last winter’s vaccination programme.) “The head of the UK health service has warned that “pressures are going to be real”, as … influenza levels are expected to be high.” – Telegraph and others.

(The last serious outbreak of ‘flu in 1998 killed 30 thousand people in Britain. Or did it? The Full Facts statistical review website argues that annual ‘flu death statistics are grossly inflated by normal respiratory complaints. “… in fact all we can say for certain is that flu causes a few tens of deaths a year, and is associated with a few thousand.”

http://straightstatistics.fullfact.org/article/flu-deaths-triumph-statistics-not-virology )

Yellowstone: Seismograph data shows more and more magma filling the chamber beneath the caldera, with associated harmonic tremors and rising ground that’s pulsing alarmingly. Steam rising from the Old Faithful geyser is almost black – a sign that the rocks beneath are heating up. USGS is failing to report numerous earthquakes in and around the park and says it plans to shut down the monitors for winter ‘repairs’.

Seriously, guys, the seismographic charts for the key Maple Creek and Norris Junction areas are almost solid BLACK with activity, you can’t tell the quakes from the intruding magma. Either the monitors’re seriously defective, or we’re stuffed.

Philosophical observation: Monitoring these websites on a more or less daily basis, GW has observed that extreme weather events are happening so fast and so frequently, piling atop one another – such as the Tropical Storms that formed almost symmetrically last week over the east and west coasts of the narrow central American isthmus so there was confusion in reporting which exactly was causing what. Some of this year’s worst storms have materialised seemingly out of nowhere, catching forecasters by surprise.

It is leading to a strange situation where different weather bureaux are reporting or not reporting different events, sometimes getting them jumbled up, and news services are failing to report, for instance as with the German/Polish/Czech storms noted here, that a storm in the same region killed the same number of people in early August. While details vary from report to report, and not all forecasts turn out to be accurate. Weather Underground, for instance, has storm-tracking global maps that frequently fail to show the formation of new storms, particularly in the western Pacific.

So it’s not the events themselves that are necessarily so concerning, although nearly 5 feet of hailstones falling in 15 minutes over an Argentine city might be a cause for concern – it’s the information services that are being overwhelmed by the often unreported frequency and unusual patterns that are giving the impression of global weather increasingly in chaos.

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Belmarsh, here I come … Britain late for World War Three … So much for the Special Relationship … He still doesn’t have a clue …GW: Keeping an eye on the world’s weird weather, so you don’t have to … The End: A Weekly Update

 

“…speaking to human rights group Justice on Tuesday, Max Hill QC (HM Independent Inspector of Terrorist Legislation) warned against a “knee-jerk” reaction and said there was a distinct difference between extremism and terrorism. “Whilst we can all agree that there should be nowhere for real terrorists to hide, we should also agree that legislating in the name of terrorism when the targeted activity is not actually terrorism would be quite wrong,” he said*

“We do not, and should not criminalise thought without action or preparation for action.”

“That contrasted significantly with remarks from Foreign Office minister Rory Stewart, who said that “in almost every case” British IS fighters should be killed” – BBC News report, 25 Oct.

Belmarsh, here I come

Aberystwyth University in Wales runs a well respected International Politics department, offering a variety of courses in political and military history and strategy. I know that, because my son went there to do war-gaming and situation-room exercises, emerging with a BSc Econ. and going on to do his Master’s in Strategy, ensuring that if we require someone to mastermind the next World War, apart that is from the murderous Colonel Stewart, a youthful-seeming High Tory from the Borders with a curiously shaped head, there is a suitably qualified candidate with his hand in the air. (He’s a bit of an expert on the equipment, disposition and tactics of the Russian army, actually.)

Our son has been fascinated with all things military and strategic since he was about three years old. Sadly, much to our relief he failed to make it into Sandhurst owing to being asthmatic. At the age of five, he designed and made himself out of shirt-stiffening card and sticky tape, a complete and well-fitting suit of Roman armor. I am still throwing out plastic soldiers, jam-jars full of 0.22 bullet cases (empty) from the rifle club, Dorling Kindersley encyclopedias of Medieval Weaponry, Ladybird histories of King Alfred, no longer playable shoot ’em ‘up games, videos about Stalingrad and a small but eclectic collection of Nepalese Kukris that have cluttered up the house for years. Hands up, there’s an air rifle on top of the wardrobe (legally… we hope).

I’ve often joked that if the police ever found the cache under my bed, several large boxes of his student books on military history, organization, weaponry – the derring-do and fitness methods of the SAS – The Sniper’s Manual – and researched my browsing history, finding that on the basis of books I ordered on request while the lad was still too young to have his own account, for months Amazon subsequently flagged-up various recommendations for me, including The Anarchists’ Cookbook (full publication) – a book I hasten to assert neither of us has ever ordered – I might as well turn myself in now.

Yes, I am a dangerous revolutionary, armed with many books I can throw at the authorities. (Only joking. Bit of bantz there….)

But it always seemed to me that were I to be accused of plotting the overthrow of the State on the basis of the ample evidence cluttering my little house, my son’s academic standing and requirement to plough through reams of research for his essays and dissertations would be my fallback defense.

Besides, the Anarchists’ Cookbook was just a merry prank, wasn’t it? A ’60s hippy lark, to go with Oz Magazine, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, On The Road, Rolling Stone Magazine and Trout Fishing in America as publications reflective of the zeitgeist, as we used to say.

Apparently, you can’t look at it like that anymore, as the authorities have entirely lost both their sense of proportion and their sense of humour. Also their knowledge of literary history, by the looks of it. Terrorism is as terrorism does, as they say. My tiny voice pointing out that you can find all kinds of shit online without the need to purchase the book is unlikely to make a dent in the implacable face of State security. Books is evidence.

See, I’ve just had one of those Omigod! moments, when I read on the BBC News website that:

“Birmingham Crown Court heard Joshua Walker, 27, from Bristol, told police he had “forgotten” about the partial copy of The Anarchist Cookbook (found under his bed during a search). He claimed he had printed it off for a strategy war-gaming session while at the University of Aberystwyth.

“Mr Walker denies a charge relating to possessing terrorist information. The jury was told the manual contained instructions on making plastic explosives, hand grenades, pipe bombs and detonators.”

Ha ha, silly jury. The Cookbook is not a real terror manual, lolz, it was published as a joke by some bored students in a squat, four decades before 9/11. And it’s in general publication – it’s not illegal yet to own a book. Don’t you see?

You do surely see?

Oh, shit.

Now we’re in trouble.

Better burn your copy of War and Peace.

*Mr Hill is quite sensibly in favour of scrapping anti-terror laws, on the grounds that perfectly adequate legislation already exists for dealing with the problem. The BogPo has indeed commented before on the dangers of intelligent and rational experts making sensible recommendations that send politicians screaming to their selection committees.

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A report in today’s Daily Express reflects on Britain’s unpreparedness for World War Three breaking out at short notice.

To the Editor

Sir

I read that the Royal United Services Institute fears that the UK would have only 5 hours – the time difference between London and Washington – to prepare for World War Three in the event of a nuclear attack by North Korea. This seems unlikely as the UK’s main nuclear strike force, Trident is actually under US control, in realtime communication. Retaliation would be instantaneous.

In any case, North Korea does not have the capacity to wage war against the USA, let alone Britain. It has at best 30 nuclear devices still at testing stage, and probably a smaller number of workable delivery ICBMs: the US has over 4 thousand operational nukes ‘locked and loaded’, and President Trump has called for the arsenal to be increased by 1,000%; while injecting another $64 billion dollars a year into his already bloated military.

North Korea has roughly the same number of men under arms, a million. They are well-drilled for fancy parades but poorly equipped and underfed, owing to years of drought and sanctions, while the officer corps is corrupt and lacks combat experience. They have no navy, or long-distance air-cover – hence no means of invading any country by sea, let alone one 3,000 miles across the Pacific. The main worry is the line of thousands of artillery pieces along the DMZ, that could obliterate the South Korean capital, Seoul, just 30 miles away, within hours.

North Korea does not yet have a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead as far as New York, as your report suggests. Their main capability therefore is probably in cyber warfare.

Kim Jong-Il is not a ‘crackpot’, he is a western-educated man, extremely calculating and rational in his strategy – which is, essentially, for his family to hang on to power and for himself not to go the way of a Saddam or Gadaffi through regime change by the West. He also needs a negotiating bargain-chip if he is going to get sanctions eased. He has no intention of nuking America first, he knows it would be suicide. His alarming threats are for domestic consumption; while he clearly enjoys winding-up Donald Trump.

It is all ‘willy-waggling’.

By your definition Mr Trump is also a ‘crackpot’, probably more so*; indeed, many of his fanatical supporters are religious crazies longing for him to bring about the ‘End of Days’ and the Second Coming of Christ; as well as ‘chaos capitalists’ – billionaire businessmen who believe they will thrive in a less secure world.

Mr Trump has already threatened to ‘destroy’ a nation of 40 million impoverished peasants because he is too thin-skinned to survive being ridiculed by Kim for much longer. He forgets (if he ever knew) that the US killed up to 3 million North Korean civilians in a brutal saturation bombing campaign during the Korean War (1950-53) and that such talk is not taken lightly in Pyongyang.

The worry is that many American psychiatrists and now a handful of Congressmen publicly agree, Trump is not calculating and rational, he is impulsive and lacks self-control and could do something stupid at any moment; starting a war which the UK might happily blunder into as a relief from the agonizing Brexit negotiations, but which could rapidly turn nuclear if the Chinese and the Russians decided to intervene on behalf of their old proxy in the peninsula.

Perhaps that should have been the basis of your story?

*I am enjoying reading ‘Trump is F*ing Crazy’, the new book by the veteran journalist, Keith Olbermann.

Meanwhile…

A  BBC report says the Foreign Office in London was extremely concerned that because of the time difference, Downing Street would have no advance warning of any of Trump’s decisions that could impact Britain and recommended the setting-up of a special department to monitor the Executive Orders that poured out of the Oval Office in his early days (when Steve Bannon was the de facto president), at times of the night here when people were asleep.

Of particular concern was the travel ban on citizens of seven named Muslim countries, as it was feared it would affect business travellers and families with dual-citizenship. FO officials had tried to contact the State Department to get clarification, but no-one was available to speak to us… that was shortly after Theresa May had rushed to Washington to be sure to be the first ‘world leader’ to pay court to the deranged old monster, who offered us a great big trade deal (and then without warning slapped a 300% tariff on US sales of Bombardier C-Series commercial aircraft, whose wings are made in Britain, to protect Boeing), so you’d think they would have known who we were….

So much for the Special Relationship.

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He still doesn’t have a clue

Tomorrow (28 Oct) is the 60th anniversary of the BBC’s flagship radio news programme, Today. In the lead-up to the celebration, Today presenters have been interviewing lots of people and asking what has changed in Britain over the past 60 years.

One of the things that has changed about the Today programme in recent times is, to my mind, the almost complete lack of actual news reporting. The show is now drizzled with author interviews – Sarah Montague had a go at John Grisham yesterday and almost completely failed to ask him anything about the book, concentrating instead on his views about the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally – he’s from there – news from two months ago, and his views about Trump, which he was naturally somewhat reticent about.

Ther are also many more ‘soft’ items on music and the arts to fill the spaces, and science stuff no-one on the show seems qualified to talk about;  while political interviews continue to flatter the Brexit diehards and run on for 20 minutes. This morning’s show carried a number of items that I seem to have heard yesterday, while stories about, for instance, the perils of antibiotics resistance have been knocking around for years and I don’t suppose people still really need lengthy explainers.

They’re particularly pisspoor, as Private Eye would put it, on US politics. Scales from my eyes were rattling on the breakfast table catching up with last night’s Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC as just the first two stories she covered were totally contradictory to the BBC’s floppy take on them.

Firstly, the Beeb had interviewed two old Americans excitedly about the much-trumpeted release of the Kennedy papers, without once mentioning that the papers weren’t released – Trump had announced that they would be, as if it was his prerogative, in fact the release date was set by law 25 years ago and the White House forgot to order it done, so that they’ve had to push the date forward to next April, pretending it’s to allow the CIA time to work out which are the least embarrassing bits (they’ve only had 25 years)  and late yesterday evening a small quantity of the archive with heavy (and illegal) redactions was rushed out. None of that would have been apparent to Today’s ageing listeners.

Then, Today reported that Trump had declared a national emergency to combat the crisis of opioid drug addiction in the USA, resulting from the overprescription of painkillers, that is killing thousands of people every year. Maddow however probed the story a little more journalistically, recalling that Trump had in fact declared a ‘national emergency’ back in August, but was merely indulging in rodomontade – he simply does not get that the words ‘state of emergency’ when uttered by a real President actually have legal force, as he is so ignorant of his administrative duties, responsibilities and powers. In the event, nothing was done because no orders were given to do anything.

Yesterday, Trump re-declared it a ‘medical emergency’, thus obviating the necessity to allocate any funding to whatever program his officials are scampering to cobble together as a result of this latest example of his impromptu bullshit.

Both stories, and the mediaballs around Trump actually going to Dallas and doing a bit of carefully controlled glad-handing for the cameras to celebrate the last-minute ‘release’ of a few papers with heavy redactions concerning the investigations into the Kennedy shooting, are clearly being driven by his PR people to try to create some kind of positive coverage around the President being decisive and rational, to counter the recent criticisms by Congressmen Flake and Corker that he is completely doolalli and should be carted off with his arms folded before he kills us all.

In fact they have simply revealed that after nine months in office, he still doesn’t have a clue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sfuti3r-Kc4

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GW: Keeping an eye on the world’s weird weather, so you don’t have to

Hawaii: 24 Oct. a severe storm generated by the Pacific 5,000-mile ‘atmospheric river’ event causes local flooding and knocks out power across the whole of the main island of Maui. More storms forecast.

Japan: is counting the cost after Typhoon Lan made landfall on the 23rd at Shizuoka, south of Tokyo as a Cat 2 storm. Three dead, floods and landslides destroyed up to 500 homes. “A man died when his home was hit by a landslide, while two people were in comas due to their injuries while about 90 people had lighter injuries, Japanese media said.”

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Saola is strengthening to Cat 1 over the Japanese islands but is forecast to swing back out to sea, sparing the mainland. And up in the Aleutian Islands, the remnant low pressure area of Typhoon Lan moving northwards is reported from satellite data to be raising waves of up to 58 feet in height across a 1,000-mile-wide front.

India: more than 200 villages flooded out in Odisha province. Three days of intense rainfall causes rivers to overflow. Thousands of acres of crops destroyed.

Thailand: overflowing dams cause more flooding around Bangkok as months of heavy rains continue without respite. Floodwater said to be turning ‘putrid’.

USA: Michigan, a low-pressure ‘weather bomb’ emerges from a passing storm (‘bombogenesis’) to whip up 25-ft waves on Lake Superior, causing coastal damage. Boone, North Carolina was underwater on the 23rd as over 6-in of rain fell. Duluth, Minnesota experiences record October snowfall.

  • The California heatwave continued into Tuesday bringing 100 deg. F.-plus temperatures, 2 deg. F. above any previous records for the time of year. “Santa Ana winds kept the temperatures amazingly warm throughout Monday night. In Orange County, the city of Fullerton soared to 107°F on Monday” – hotter even than Death Valley has ever been this late in October. Ventura County sweltered in 90 deg. overnight. Unusually warm temperatures are being recorded over most of the USA. New England had a +6 deg. C. temperature anomaly throughout October and the famous ‘fall’ when the “Autumn leaves turn to red and gold” hasn’t happened.
  • Until today, when a rapid drop in temperature from the 70s F. to the 40s F. is forecast across most of the northeast US as the jetstream plunges loopily southwards. However , a weather system forming off the coast is threatening Maine and New Hampshire with up to 6″ of rain on Sunday: “Some locations in the Northeast may well set all-time records for their heaviest calendar-day rainfall total during any October. There’s also a chance that barometric pressure will dip to all-time lows for October at one or more points across New England…” With 100 mph-plus winds up into New Brunswick.
  • Meanwhile, a report on New York city’s response to 2012’s Hurricane Sandy reveals that some 500 people are still not back in their homes five years later.

Greenland: high temperature anomalies reported in the past few days; although temperatures have plunged to as low as 14 deg. F. (18 deg. below freezing) in the north, in the south temperatures have been up to 20 deg. C. above normal for the time of year.

  • CryoSat-2 may have been overestimating the thickness of Arctic ice by up to 25%, according to new research by the University of Calgary, owing to growing surface salinity. 2017 sea ice extent was only the eighth lowest recorded so sceptics may sneer but extent is not the same as volume…

Caribbean: “Showers and thunderstorms continue to bubble around a large area of disturbed weather in the Western Caribbean. Designated as Invest 93L, the system had a broad center located on Tuesday morning just off the east coast of Nicaragua.” Some models are predicting a hurricane could form as sea temperature is 30 deg. C. “A much more likely scenario than classic hurricane development is that moisture and energy from 93L will shoot north-northeastward and help contribute to very heavy rains in Florida on Saturday and in the Northeast U.S. from Sunday into Monday.”

Puerto Rico: a month after Hurricane Maria, 80% of the island is still without power. It’s being reported that the contract to restore power to three million householders on the island has been awarded to a major donor to the Trump re-election campaign. Whitefish Energy has only two fulltime employees and is having to hire subcontractors. Of course there is no hint of corruption. The death toll from and since the h:urricane is believed to be around 450.

Nicaragua: ‘Invest 92-L’, a large potential tropical storm is lurking off the eastern Pacific coast, bearing a lot of rain. Sandwiched between tropical lows 92-L and 93-L off either coast, Central America has experienced severe weather effects, with 5 known dead (including 4 miners drowned in a mine) and 2 missing. Many thousands have been flooded out or evacuated.

Ecuador: centre of the capital, Quito, brought to a standstill on 26 Oct. by an icefall that creates flash flooding and rivers of ice flowing through the streets.

Colombia: city of Timbiqui inundated.

El Salvador: city of Usulutan hit by flash flooding after powerful storm. Another on the way: “Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides are a distinct threat from slow-moving TS Selma, despite its weakness and small size. As it approaches the higher terrain of El Salvador and Guatemala, widespread rains of 3 – 6” are expected, with local totals of 10” or more possible.”

Honduras: Atlantic coastal communities and capital Tegucigalpa flood after heavy rain. Major flooding too in neighbouring Guatemala.

Brazil: News emerges of a massive red dust storm that engulfed the city of Campo Verde on the 16th.

Argentina: community of Formosa pounded on the 26th with a violent storm and hailstones the size of tennis balls. Thousands of cars and buldings damaged. But… parts of Cordoba city experienced a horrifying 1.5 m (4’9″)-deep accumulation of hailstones in only 15 minutes.

Australia: as US Environment Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt declares ‘the war on coal is over!’ and scraps Obama’s Clean Air Plan, a new University of Melbourne study reports that the present contribution mostly from burning coal will bring about 1.3 metres of sea-level rise by 2050 as the Antarctic is melting faster than anyone thought.

A violent storm brought surface flooding to parts of Queensland state on Thursday, with lots of lightning and hailstones ‘the size of golfballs’, as they say, causing damage to properties. “About 15,000 homes lost power and 70,000 lightning strikes were recorded across the state’s south-east region.”

Italy: more big wildfires break out in the north around Bussoleno between 21 and 25 October.

Bulgaria: “At least” 3 people died after a storm dumped 60mm of rain in an hour, triggering flooding (Oct 24/25) in the province of Burgas, south east Bulgaria. The provincial government announced a state of emergency.

Greece: Mediterranean island of Crete experiences flash flooding after Storm Daedalus brings torrential rain – big storm surge.

Corsica: more wildfires break out on the island. 2,000 acres burned around Balagne. Strong winds fan the flames. While October has been a record warm month in Europe, it is likely to go out in a blast of cold weather descending from the Arctic.

 

Weather.com/ BBC News/ ‘Mary Greeley’/ Weather Underground/ TYT/ The Guardian/ Weather.com/ Climate and Extreme Weather News #76./ ABC News/ Reuters/ Euronews/ Floodlist/ MrMBB333

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The End: A Weekly Update

Bali: 180 thousand people are still sitting out an evacuation a month after experts predicted the sacred Mount Agung volcano was about to blow at any moment. The volcano experienced 209 earthquakes on Tuesday and a deep M6.7 60 miles away resulted today in a shallower M5.2 that shook the island. The quake was predicted accurately three days ago by ‘Dutchsinse’ – Michael Janich – a US-based earthquake forecaster. The US Geological Service says predicting the location and size of earthquakes is impossible, and despite his 80% or better record, continues to try to muzzle him.

USA: “The length of the US winter is shortening, with the first frost of the year arriving more than one month later than it did 100 years ago, according to more than a century of measurements from weather stations nationwide. The trend of ever later first freezes appears to have started around 1980, according to data from 700 weather stations across the US going back to 1895″ (NOAA)

Korea: “US defence secretary Jim Mattis has said the threat of nuclear missile attack by North Korea is accelerating. In remarks in Seoul with South Korean defence minister Song Young-moo at his side, Mattis accused the North of illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear programs – and vowed to defeat any attack. America, he said, ‘would never accept a nuclear North Korea’.”

World: The Royal United Services Institute says Britain would have five hours to prepare if the US goes to war against North Korea, which would, in their view, likely start a global conflict.

Dutchsinse/ Daily Express/ Guardian

The Pumpkin – Issue 34: Clinton: the Dark Lady of Russian Fiction … Oh Come, All Ye Faithful … What hope is there for humanity? … Granny W., hunkering down for the duration … Belmarsh, here I come

Babe…

Abe…

“I somehow doubt, too, that she would ever confuse the stock market with the Treasury”

Clinton, the Dark Lady of Russian Fiction

A Guardian Opinion piece (21 Oct) by senior journalist Zoe Williams, asks “Why does nobody mention that Hillary Clinton is perfectly nice?”

She bases her report on an appearance by Clinton on BBC 1’s The Graham Norton Show, plugging her new book, What Happened? It seems a fair question. Actually they both do.

Because in The Pumpkin’s view, this lady has been seriously traduced; while the sheer insouciant hypocrisy of Trump’s continuing attacks on her is something that surely needs to be countered by an objective analysis of his own record.

The stories about Clinton spread on social media by Russian bots through ‘false-front’ pressure groups and fake social media accounts, and by advertising paid for by ‘dark money’ sources ran to ‘hundreds of millions’ of micro-targeted views, according to recent research, almost certainly with inside help from US data analytics companies in the pay of the Republican party, and must have gone a long way to create the overall impression of the Democrat candidate as some kind of malevolent ‘dark lady’ that chimes with the absurd ‘demon eyes’ campaign the Tories ran against Blair in 1997, taking personalized politics to a new level of trashy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/us/politics/russia-facebook-twitter-election.html (and see others)

Where was the substance to them?

The Whitewater property scandal* was never proven; the emails – well, it’s perfectly clear, all politicians (especially Trump’s closest ‘advisors’ and nepotistic appointments) use public networks, they’re probably safer than the official servers.

Clinton did not murder the Ambassador to Benghazi, her acceptance of responsibility was as the Secretary of State, the head of the diplomatic department – not as an admission of personal error or guilt. Trump however has accepted no responsibility for military and civilian casualties in his secret wars.

Whitewater rafting (Koin.com)

Several million Americans who can’t think for themselves actually believed, and many still believe, the ludicrous Pizzagate allegations; and despite Trump’s appalling history of Weinsteinian abuse many apparently intelligent members of the sorority were persuaded to vote for him because Clinton stood by her husband and she so shouldn’t have done that – bad optic; while ethnic minorities seem to have been persuaded against her in sufficient numbers by blatantly obvious commercials shot in Nigeria, using Nigerian actors pretending to be Black Lives Matter advocates, claiming Clinton was the racist bitch candidate and Trump, who in real life refused to rent properties to blacks and Puerto Ricans, the champion of the oppressed.

I somehow doubt, too, that she would ever confuse the stock market with the Treasury (Chump has claimed credit for wiping out half the national debt through

Whitewater grafting? (Washington Post)

bringing about, somehow, record levels of speculative investment in the market, which most economists agree is a seriously dangerous state of affairs. Figures published this week show the deficit to be increasing faster than at any time in the last five years, while unemployment is again rising); or that she might seek to reward her corporate sponsors in quite the same spectacular way as Trump’s ‘beautiful’ $4 trillion Christmas tax cuts that will bear hardest on the poor and aspirant middle-class, while making repeated, futile attempts by diktat at destroying ‘Obamacare’, to the detriment of the health and security of 32 million voters; or that she would seek to multiply the US nuclear arsenal tenfold, having first told the Russians in a phone call what she was planning to do.

It also seems unlikely that she would by now have fired the director of the FBI for refusing to suspend an investigation into her collusion with Russia and swear personal fealty to her; or bitterly attacked her own officials and party for failing to support her crazier policy initiatives; or appointed incompetent and venial placemen to all the key offices of State. Virtually all senior politicians are invited to speak at corporate get-togethers, and well paid for their insights. But would Clinton have appointed five former Goldman Sachs executives to her cabinet?

Would she have complained that the official Opposition keeps unfairly opposing her and thus failed to achieve any significant legislation in ten months, apart from rolling back all the environmental and consumer protections of her predecessor; pissed-off America’s allies by seeking to tear down a raft of painstakingly negotiated security treaties; demanded NATO pay the USA billions of dollars of protection money; schmoozed the world’s worst dictatorships; advocated torture and police violence; raised trade barriers 300% to “protect” already successful US global corporations, and proposed to destroy the current status quo on world trade to the detriment of her own economy?

Would she have threatened to deport 11 million useful and mostly peaceable family people, lied about the intentions of the Muslim community to create fear and division, banned children from entering the USA in case they were terrorists, and imagined building a 20-foot-high, 2,000-mile-long, $25 billion wall to stop Mexicans from flying over it, tunnelling under it or going around it by sea – a pointless wall to divide even white American communities along the border, to stop billions of dollars in cross-border trade, all at the expense of the US taxpayer and consumer – when illegal Mexican immigration has already slowed to a trickle?

Would she be banning transsexuals from serving in the military, and rolling-back protections for gay people against discrimination by rabid Christians? Would she have managed to lose an entire carrier squadron in the southern Indian Ocean, imagining it was in the southwestern Pacific? Would she have had her Attorney General let rip on users of cannabis, even for medical purposes, in States where Federal law outranks local legislative freedoms only recently gained? Would she have threatened the starving and hagridden peasants of North Korea with nuclear annihilation, or told lies deliberately to justify war with Iran?

Would she have told the grieving 22-year-old pregnant widow and mother-of-two of a Green Beret soldier killed on a dubious secret op she can’t talk about in some flyblown oil-rich African desert that ‘he knew what he was getting into’ – even if she knew his name, and that he was a black man whose service she could traduce? And then lied about it, and attacked the reputations of the five witnesses, just simple folk? Would she have betrayed the confidence of her Chief-of-Staff and forced him to dishonor the memory of his own fallen son in order to pursue her own vengeful, dishonest attacks on the widow and her Congresswoman? Would she ever have appointed that sweaty sack of lies, Sarah Huckabee ‘I’m a Christian’ Sanders, as chief press spokesthing to bully and browbeat the pathetic gaggle of White House press correspondents?

Is there any suggestion that Clinton is a disgusting orange pig with no moral boundaries; an egomaniacal, vindictive, uneducated, sociopathic sex-pest in an expensive suit bought with money stolen from Russian banks? That she learned her business methods at the knee of a notorious member of the Mafia? That she takes from money-launderers and racketeers, or that she uses money from her own tax-exempt charity foundation to buy-off investigations and diverts funds donated for her re-election campaign to pay lawyers to defend herself aggressively against potential charges of money-laundering and obstruction of justice or worse? Has anyone suggested that she ever ran a dubious ‘modelling agency’ importing, as is claimed, underage girls from eastern Europe and pimped her own daughter at the age of 14 to another agency owned by a notorious pedophile, just to get more party invitations? Or that she perhaps ripped-off Chelsea’s annual charity fundraisers for children with cancer, to the tune of half-a-million dollars?

Nor, one suspects, would she be aligning herself with the malign machinations of the pro-Life campaign, its Christianized violence against the medical profession, its doxing and other abusive attempts to harass health employees and marginalize and deny women’s rights over their own lives and bodies in the 21st century (see following story). Or imagining that the lie she was told to put out, that her predecessor in the White House was bugging her calls, has somehow become true?

Oh, but she took bribes from a Canadian businessman to approve the sale of Canadian uranium under NAFTA rules to a Russian power company…! Except that Business Insider investigated the allegation made by an author plugging an anti-Clinton diatribe in the New York Times, a book plug, and found: “we have no evidence of a quid pro quo, and we don’t have evidence that Hillary Clinton took any action at all with regard to this sale, in favor of the interests of the donors or otherwise.”

http://uk.businessinsider.com/everything-we-know-about-the-hillary-clinton-russia-uranium-scandal-2015-4?r=US&IR=T

And now, oh! But she colluded with the Russians to get intel on Trump! No, she didn’t do that, American conspiracy dimwits. She – or her party – colluded, if anything, with a former BRITISH MI6 spook, Christopher Steele, to get the Russian intel on Trump AFTER the Republicans first commissioned Steele to find out what the Russians had on Trump BEFORE adopting him as their candidate.

Just as we have no evidence that Trump had a business association with a convicted Russian mobster, Felix Sater, whose company Bayrock (based in Trump Tower but he “wouldn’t know what he looked like” (except there are photos of them with arms around shoulders) was a front for a major investment in Trump SoHo by the man believed to be the ‘capo di capi’ of the Russian mafia, Semion Mogilevich. No evidence that he sold a Florida mansion to Dmitry Rybolovlev, an oligarch associated through Bank of Cyprus – a known money-laundering conduit – with his Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, for $56 million more than he’d paid for it two years earlier. A mansion that was subsequently demolished as unfit for habitation. Nor that he defaulted on $340 million of a 2007 loan from Deutsche Bank; a marker that some foolish journalists suspect may have been picked up by Russian banks linked with the Kremlin.

Preposterous. Just more of those fake news things.

While Clinton’s failure to run an ominous series of quasi-fascist Orwellian hate-speech rallies, tell the most enormous porky-pies (around 1,400 of Trump’s public utterances and tweets have to date been verified as out-and-out falsehoods by the Washington Post), refuse to condemn white supremacist terrorists and neo-Nazis, disparage Gold Star parents, send critics and perceived enemies and the Mayor of London vicious bullying tweets at 4 am, declare the press to be ‘Enemies of the People’, obsess endlessly over her turnouts and poll ratings, fire anyone who won’t agree to lie about them and encourage her supporters to beat-up protestors – these omissions may have left the impression Hillary is a bit – well, dull for the modern presidential era.

Wouldn’t you think?

“…a surprisingly large contingent of fully qualified American psychiatrists and psychologists actually held a rally in Washington last week to try to bring to the attention of senior Republicans on the Hill, their firm belief that Trump is genuinely crazy…”

It seems somewhat unfair that Trump is allowed to brood darkly for months over his election victory and spend public money on trying to prove that he won because the opposition cheated, while when Clinton complains about him stealing the election from her she’s accused of being hysterical. Misogyny – back to the kitchen, anti-feminism – indeed seems to have played a large part in her downfall, just as race-hatred plays a part in Trump’s Obama-obsessed policy-making – and, judging by the online commentariat – probably continues to do so. We need to consider that Clinton did get 2.8 million more votes nationally than Trump; and that new analysis is showing how voter suppression in key marginal states – a form of electronic gerrymandering favoured mainly by Republican administrations – was largely responsible for him winning the decisive Electoral College votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – natural Democrat constituencies – against the polling numbers.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/10/voter-suppression-wisconsin-election-2016/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_todayworld

This process has been continuing with the help of data analytics companies and Russian hacking of voter rolls to determine who is to be disenfranchised on spurious grounds (such as not having an expensive new photo driver’s licence, or having a similar name to someone else) before the mid-term elections next year under the aegis of Trump’s special commission on the so-far unproven ‘voter fraud’ involving millions of invisible aliens, which he believes in his madness was responsible for his lack of a numerical majority at the last election. It’s a strategy designed to keep the Republican boot stamping on a human face foreever.

At least there is no sign that Clinton demands the unconditional love of the people. She’s not a diagnosable psychopath.

For we should next consider that a surprisingly large contingent of fully qualified American psychiatrists and psychologists actually held a rally in Washington last week to try to bring to the attention of senior Republicans on the Hill, their firm conviction that Trump is genuinely crazy – mentally unfit to be left anywhere near the guy with the nuclear football. Senator Bob Corker has also made the same point quite openly – beyond all of which, it should be obvious to anyone that the President is a nasty piece of work: not only a vindictive and malignant narcissist, but a lazy and incompetent administrator and disastrous person-manager with an unheard-of turnover of key staff, highly dubious business history and a habit of spending vast sums of other people’s money on securing his own comforts and position, to allay his fundamental insecurities.

A propos, it’s hard to imagine workaholic Clinton spending three days a week out of the office at any of her many private resorts, funded by Russian investment, playing golf and promoting membership at a cost to the taxpayer of over $50 million in her first six months in – or rather, out – of office; finding the task of understanding healthcare, immigration rules, the history of the Korean War or the constitution of the United States intellectually too exhausting; or blowing $1 billion on additional security for 42 members of her family and their business properties. It’s hard to imagine her mistaking impoverished, hurricane-battered Puerto Rico for a separate country that owes the US Treasury $74 billion and must pay it back before qualifying for emergency aid; or that she is not also the president of the US Virgin Islands – the clue is in the name. Hard to see her imperiously throwing paper towels at hurricane survivors…

…or defunding important executive offices, or banning scientists from reporting on environmental dangers, failing to appoint managers to key positions and ambassadors to key allies, hysterically abusing the courts and firing judges for obstructing her illegal orders and poking around in her affairs, sacking staff she perceives as opposing her merely for offering the experienced advice they’re paid to offer, claiming that they were underperforming, or disloyal, or that they resigned – there’s always a lie attached…

…or praising Putin’s policy of eliminating opponents and inconvenient journalists; or blaming a traffic accident in London on Muslim refugees while continuing to claim without any justification that the (Muslim) Mayor of London is soft on terrorism; or approving the policy of the dictator of the Philippines of exterminating drug users through extrajudicial murders, or rolling-back limits specifically on coal-fired power stations whose emissions are thought to add another 4 thousand American deaths a year to the toll of over 30 thousand gun deaths she refuses to do anything about, or removing protections for endangered wildlife and treasured monument lands and removing controls on polluting emissions from coal-fired power stations and oil and gas fracking operations….

…or needing to be shown cartoon versions of policy documents and half-page briefings with lots of simple bullet points and her name mentioned in every other line, to be constantly praised for nonexistent triumphs, at the same time having to be ‘kept calm’ and distracted by White House staff 24-hours a day, in what Sen. Corker describes as a ‘day-care center’, lest she starts World War Three in one of her constant rages – literally.

All in all, it’s not really surprising that the poor woman feels she was robbed: she was.

So was everyone else.

Ranting and raving for the benefit of his crazed followers, the man is clearly not in control. But who will act?

And now we have Bannon coaching egregiously from the sidelines, making open threats against Republicans who don’t toe the Breitbart line, and Putin pleading with the 67% of Americans who now understand the presidency is a historic train-wreck, amid a growing realization of the extent to which Russian interference played a part in electing the man, to give poor, traduced Mr Trump a chance, we can see all the more clearly the nature of the attempted coup, the treason; yet still nothing is done about it for fear the Republicans will be defunded by their shady corporate backers while incurring the electoral wrath of Trump’s only-slowly shrinking legion of deluded, screaming dumbfucks: his audience.

Because for him, it’s all about the ratings. It doesn’t matter who gets fired – hurt, insulted, sexually propositioned or even killed in the process. No-one and nothing outside Trump really exists. It’s all about the ratings; the living proof that the unlovable child who could never live up to his alcoholic, dead brother’s image in their father’s eyes, is truly loved and admired by the multitude. And any perceived slight sees him ranting and raving for the benefit of his crazed followers. The man is clearly not in control of himself: incoherent, forgetful, mendacious and undisciplined. But who will act?

Fortunately the plotters are so inept and unable to figure out where the levers of power really are, that it’s not been too successful – yet. Which is why Trump needs to be removed from office, now, before the squabbling bunch of criminals, neofascists, alt-right ‘Christians’, sycophants, useless and incompetent dimwits, the corruptly funded shills for the energy and chemicals and pharmaceutical industries, the swamp-dwellers and bottom-feeders, the financiers and corporate lawyers who know where his bodies are buried – the attack-dogs, the authoritarians, the racists and the crusaders; all the billionaire riff-raff with whom he has surrounded himself and his administration – private-jet-renters and tax-eaters whom, by and large, he has recently admitted he ‘hates’, the ones he screams abuse at on a daily basis but absolutely needs inside the tent pissing out; before they get the hang of things and really start going to town.

It surely can’t be long now.

*Whitewater was a 1980s property deal that went bad (Trump’s of course never did!) involving the Clintons when Bill was governor of Arkansas. David Hale, the source of criminal allegations against the Clintons, while himself facing arraignment, claimed in November 1993 that Bill Clinton had pressured him into providing an illegal $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, the Clintons’ partner in the Whitewater land deal. Neither Bill Clinton nor Hillary were ever prosecuted, after three separate inquiries found insufficient evidence linking them with the criminal conduct of others related to the land deal, who were convicted; McDougal serving jail time. (Edited from Wikipedia entry)

 

My sperms have rights. Your eggs don’t.

Oh Come, All Ye Faithful

Yet again I have to thank Rachel Maddow for drawing the attention of The Pumpkin to a story far down the news agenda, concerning yet another federal agency director, a Trump appointee of staggering inappropriateness for the job. (I think ‘Trumpian’ ought to be the correct adjective for ‘staggeringly inappropriate’.)

This gentleman was nominated by Trump, in all his cartoonishly malevolent insanity, to run the national refugee resettlement program. Needless to say, he had no experience whatever of resettling refugees, overseas aid work or indeed of any sort of official bureaucratic duties before now. Actually, that’s not quite true: he was for a time on the board of a ‘charity’ devoted to supporting Christian refugees fleeing from ISIS. (The Muslim and Yazidi women and children were going to Hell anyway, so no need bothering with them.) This entity called itself The Knights of Columbus (after a well-known mass-murderer falsely stated to have ‘discovered’ America).

“Aw, c’mon honey…”
(biology-questions-and-answers.org)

E Scott Lloyd is, it seems, a rabidly homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-abortion, anti-contraception, pro-spermatozoa, ‘Christian’ crusader; a sanctimonious-looking fellow with that perfectly varnished face, deviant smile and fanatical eyes only Americans of a certain religiose kind can present to the camera for posterity. The kind of male whose sperm have infinite rights to reproduce while your eggs have no rights to stop them under any circumstances.

The kind who believe women belong on their backs, probably in the kitchen. According to The Asylumist website:

“Mr. Lloyd has been an active volunteer in the pro-life movement. He is on the Board of Directors of the Front Royal Pregnancy Center, an organization that provides “counseling” related to unwanted pregnancies. He is also a founder of Witness Works, which aims to build a “culture of life.”

In addition, he contributes to various pro-life publications, including Human Life International (“Contraception: The Root of the Culture of Death”) and Veritatis Splendor, where he writes, “The Supreme Court, when it claimed to recognize for women the ‘right’ to abortion on demand, simultaneously stripped the fathers of these children of their right to be parents, and other associated rights”. (Presumably, that includes the rapists and the uncles?)

And he does have some experience of managing immigrants.

The agency he heads – practically a cult within Government, according to Maddow – is at this time holding 38 young immigrant teenage girls in a private facility, apparently to prevent them from continuing with their plans to abort unwanted pregnancies, although abortion is legal under the present regime in the State of Texas, where they are being illegally detained, up to 20 weeks.

It is reminiscent of the Irish concentration camps for unwed mothers, the baby farms whose mass graves are even now being exhumed after fifty years; the ‘laundries’ operated by the Catholic Sisters of this-or-that – Mercy, Charity, Piety – but never Compassion or Understanding.

According to the story, the girls are being forcibly indoctrinated and denied access to medical care and advice from any doctor who is not signed-up to the pro-Life movement. Lawyers are trying to get them out, but the clock is ticking. Mr Lloyd is also a lawyer, famous for having spun-out a case for seven years while a family tore itself apart (at vast cost), a husband warring with his “Christian” in-laws over whether or not an injured woman in a persistent vegetative state should have her feeding-tube removed. Lloyd prolonged the agony, he claimed, in order to best fulfil Christ’s teaching. (My own researches into the New Testament have failed to turn up any references to life-support machines.)

Given that there is no obvious record of the service in Government Mr Trump’s recommendation refers to in his CV, and given his complete lack of interest in or empathy with anyone who is not a fully signed-up and baptized Christian, which describes pretty much most refugees, The Asylumist (a website devoted to legal issues related to asylum-seekers) concludes of him: “All this begs the question, how is Mr. Lloyd qualified to direct the Office of Refugee Resettlement?”

Oh, but surely, he is qualified by virtue? I mean, sorry, by “virtue” of his being an utter slimeball?

What a shame the Romans failed to eradicate these sanctimonious, compassionless, hateful hypocrites at birth, in the most imaginative, entertaining and very painful ways possible – before their own empire collapsed amid division, corruption and administrative – should we say “Trumpian”? – chaos.

But even the lions, I fear, would gag on the likes of E Scott Lloyd: gristle through and through.

 

What hope is there for humanity?

More frightening even than Trump himself is the psyche of the people who support him.

The Pumpkin lazily visits a website called ‘Mary Greeley’ from time to time, to check on the progress of the impending Yellowstone supervolcano cataclysm, as she is the only person unconnected with the lyin’ US Geological Survey who sounds even remotely sane, podcasting regularly from wherever she lives, analysing the seismometer feeds from all the main sensors and webcams in and around the park, reporting gloomily on the many earthquakes that affect the region (this year since June has seen a record number, perhaps 15 thousand, ranging up to M5.2 but mostly much smaller – and, unusually, significantly, just outside the caldera in Montana and Idaho).

I say remotely sane, although she has been telling us the underground chambers are rapidly filling with dangerous quantities of magma – that’s lava before it bursts out – and the caldera is about to erupt at any moment, since at least 2013; all in all it’s been 40 years since the first signs of impending doom appeared. Whenever she tires of this theme, or of lecturing her many viewers on the interesting subject of borehole design, Mary likes to wander off in search of more incredible things, such as a recent sighting of Bigfoot (now with three “littlefeet” in tow and a pig on its back, as witnessed by a local farmer, Mr Gonzalez.)

The Bigfoot photo she shows us has been kicking around for years, and is a ‘simulacrum’ – ie, something that bears a slight resemblance to something it isn’t. In this case, it’s been shown to be just a shaded hollow on a sunlit earth bank beside a river. Even Mary is curious to know why photos of Bigfoot are always so indistinct, and I feel like replying, it’s because they make really strong moonshine liquor in the Ozarks, or wherever the thing is, which makes focussing a Kodak Box Brownie kinda tricky.

Mary has a tiresome habit of putting interesting web pages with unattributed articles up on screen and then reading them aloud to us. She’s not the most fluent or accurate reader, and we tend to get to the end long before she does. But despite this evidencing of some actual source for her reports, folks are more than inclined to just pick up the subject and twist it to their own crazed agendas, rather than Googling it and finding other, often more balanced – or nuanced – interpretations.

In the last coupla days, for instance, Mary has uncovered alarming news of an outbreak of Marburg virus (’caused by, er, the Marburg virus’… and closely related to pneumonic plague, spread by the Yersinia Pestis bacillus) which is (and has been known to be for many years) endemic in fruit bats on the Uganda/Kenya border. Both are a very long way from Plainsville and pose absolutely no threat to the American way of life, thousands of miles away.

Plague is not that uncommon, even in America. Travel Health reports: “Since 1970, 42 human cases of plague have been confirmed in California; nine were fatal.” So, the Kenyan Digest reports (20 Oct): “Two people have died from the Marburg virus in eastern Uganda, in the country’s first outbreak of the deadly Ebola-like pathogen in three years, the health ministry said. Blood samples were taken from two people who have since died and were found positive for Marburg …. A team of experts has been sent to Kween district, near the Kenyan border, to contain the virus. ‘At the moment we don’t know if there are other people apart from the dead who have contracted the disease because the experts are still investigating'” – Health Ministry spokeswoman.

Not a global pandemic yet, then. Just as well, as the World Health Organization is in a bit of disarray after its CEO appointed the 94-year-old Robert Mugabe as a public health ambassador and was then forced to change his mind after it was pointed out to him that Zimbabwe’s hospitals are in such terrible shape, Mugabe gets his personal treatment in South Africa.

But despite her strange little exaggerations and wide-eyed acceptance of daft conspiracies, as a supplier of feedstock for this curious thread of near-insane paranoia running through the American psyche; born, I suspect, out of their ancestors’ howling nights in rudimentary shacks out on the prairie a hundred miles from town, fearful of wolves, huge storms, travelling preachers and raiding parties of Sioux, Mary Greeley is clearly loved by a certain section of American society, who are forever sending her little messages of blessing, their constant thoughts and prayers and heartfelt thanks for her existence.

In a world of troubles, despite all her alarming prognostications, Mary somehow offers a reassuring presence. The devotion she inspires is heartfelt and really quite touching.

But the shocking ignorance of the world and the bizarre beliefs and prejudices of her, I should guess mainly rustic audience are a wonder to behold. In response to a report of the deaths from an unpleasant disease caught from bats of just two unfortunate people out on safari in the forests of Uganda, Lady Ali writes:

Its from the chemtrails. Theyre dropping viruses on us now. Stay positive, somehow God will fix this. Cuz Hes our FATHER and he loves us. He said He did lol, i dont think Hes a liar. He will take care of those who live and call on Him, and they will. Buckle up folks, frick this sucks. Dont these bad guys get it that GOD always wins. ALWAYS. Many blessings, much love and light. Nothing we can do now but pray and pick the winning team. Gods team.

Viewer Katherine Westover concludes in block capitals:

BILL GATE’S MUST BE OVER THERE HANDING OUT FLU SHOTS AGAIN..THAT BASTARD..LAST TIME WHEN EBOLA WAS GOING AROUND PEOPLE STARTED FIGURING IT OUT..THAT IT WAS THE SHOTS AND THREW THE (WHO) WORLD HEALTH ORG. OUT OF THERE COUNTRY THEN…WALLA…EBOLA WENT AWAY..BILL GATE’S IS ANOTHER FREAK WHO NEEDS TO BE EXECUTED

Gates comes in for a lot of criticism from Mary fans over the many foul plagues he has unleashed in the world through his bogus vaccination programs, that are making him so much money cheatin’ the poor folks. The Pumpkin might add that he too had a ‘flu shot last year and has no signs of Ebola, but we’ll carry on.
Curious Love82 contributes helpfully:

there is a site you can go to to monitor outbreakes that are happening but I can’t remember the name of it

Rica Bogdany theorises that Marburg virus was created in a laboratory in Germany in the 1970s as a precursor to Ebola, while James Dohalek disagrees:

These Old, and I mean Very Old diseases are surprisingly surfacing. They are extremely Very very DEADLY diseases much like Ebola. I believe biological warfare has begun by major governments to depopulate the population. I HAVE INTENSELY STUDIED THESE DISEASES SINCE I WAS IN MY THIRTIES BECAUSE OF QUEST OF KNOWDLEDGE. (sic)

And Hummingbird is sanguine about the whole thing:

It’s obvious they have unleashed the pandemics. Lord have mercy on us all. God bless

We could laugh at these ludicrous posts all night, but if you care to browse the podcasts on YouTube you will find thousands of people writing in with similar thoughts, feelings and prejudices on most subjects; any one of whom might immediately be diagnosed with a learning disorder or mental illness; extreme ignorance or just wishful thinking.

 Them zombie hordes are out there, and they’s comin’ to get you.
Thank God for Mary Greeley, then; but Thank God too for the internet, which keeps these obviously unemployable poor people occupied and off the streets. Most of them seemingly can’t wait to die inhaling granular rocky ash particulates from an erupting supervolcano like an angry God come to judgement, because it means they will meet their friend Jesus at last, and He will show the rest of us what bad people we truly were.
In the meanwhile, they’ll just vote for a disgusting old faker like Donald Trump, as he’s kinda different from horrible people like Bill Gates, who just wants your money and to make folks sick, for reasons best known to himself.
Trump tells it like it is.
He understands.
He’s one of us.
x
Granny W., hunkering down for the duration

Japan: General Election day, 22 Oct, Mr Abe gets back in and a powerful typhoon causes chaos across the country, with 4 deaths reported, injuries, evacuations, floods, landslides, power outages and transport links down. “While voting went ahead, more than 70,000 households were advised to evacuate – with 5,000 of those ordered to leave. Typhoon Lan – a category 4 storm – has also forced car manufacturer Toyota to suspend operations at several plants. … Heavy rain and flood warnings have been issued to the Pacific side of the country, with winds of over 140mph and 80mm (3 in.) of rain predicted per hour.” In fact in the Western Prefecture, 800mm (31 in.) of rain fell in 24 hours.

Pakistan: Extreme and almost unprecedented 50C+ heatwave affects Karachi; tropical cyclone invades from Bay of Bengal.

Zimbabwe: has experienced record October heat with temperatures in excess of 40 deg. C.

USA: “A record-breaking heatwave will build over Southern California over the weekend (20-22 Oct) and peak on Tuesday, bringing triple-digit temperatures that could set marks for the hottest temperatures ever recorded so late in the year in the Los Angeles area. Accompanying the heat will be the notorious Santa Ana winds, which will bring a multi-day period of critical fire danger, Saturday through Tuesday.” Temperatures in and around the city have already exceeded 101 deg. F (38C).

“The October 2017 California wildfire event is likely to top $3 billion in damage, making it the most expensive wildfire event in world history.” But never mind, because….

3 dead after powerful storm hits Washington State causing flooding and mudslides. 70% of consumers without power in Spokane region. “Several highways also remained closed, including a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 84 in Oregon that authorities declared impassable into midday Wednesday.” Huge storm travelling at unheard-of 65 mph crosses Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri. Many tornado warnings out for southern and eastern states.

Environment: 3 scientists working with the EPA have been banned from attending a conference at which a major research paper was to be delivered on the environmental damage done to an estuary in New England, in part due to climate change. “Scientists from a variety of agencies and institutions had been working for years on the 500-page technical document, which does not cover policy recommendations.”

EPA Director, Scott Pruitt is to announce tomorrow that he is scrapping Obama era limits on emissions from coal-fired power stations, declaring ‘The war on coal is over’. Mr Pruitt is, everyone suspects, a corrupt official in the pay of a number of large coal producers.

Caribbean: “An area of low pressure with the potential to develop into a tropical depression is expected to form in the Western Caribbean off the coast of Nicaragua by mid-week and move slowly northward, bringing heavy rains to Cuba by the weekend. The system may also bring heavy rains to South Florida and the Bahamas by the weekend, but due to the uncertain nature of the formation location and track of the storm, it is uncertain which region might be at most risk.”

Trinidad: experiences severe flooding following heavy rain.

Pacific: Satellite imagery shows a weather phenomenon known as an “atmospheric river” – a belt of rain and storms stretching continuously 5,000 miles from China to the northeastern USA. Known as ‘The Big Dark’, it: “is poised to funnel gigantic amounts of rain and snow to the Northwest over the next few days. As much as 15 inches of rain is forecast … It could be Seattle’s wettest weather since February, the National Weather Service said. There is also a risk of flash flooding in western Washington and northwestern Oregon on Thursday as a result of the heavy rainfall.”

In mid-Pacific, Tropical Storm 27 is heading for Guam, strengthening to a Cat 2 typhoon.

Portugal: with many wildfires still burning in the north, “Portugal experienced unprecedented summer heat this year. In data going back to 1931, the period from April to September and the month of September were both the hottest on record, according to the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere (IPMA). Severe drought extended across 81% of mainland Portugal at the end of September.”

UK: After battering Ireland, Storm Brian brought several inches of rain and high winds to the southwest and west of the country over a 48-hour period at the weekend, together with 50-ft waves and coastal flooding. Schools were closed and train services suspended, but damage was “not as great as expected”.

Sky News/ Weather Underground/ USA Today/ Phys.org/ NBC News/ ABC News/ BBC News

 

Malta: Gateway to the Mediterranean (just don’t hire a car)… Computer News: Where in the world am I? … Your old Granny W. sploshes in galoshes … End of Everything, Update … Afterthought: And where do you come from?

“Her uncompromising blog and scathing pen spared no punches, hitting out mainly at exponents of the ruling Labour Party and their supporters, but also sometimes criticising officials of the centre-right Nationalist Party, including its newly-elected leader.”

Malta: Gateway to the Mediterranean (just don’t hire a car)

So writes Herman Grech, online editor of The Times of Malta, following a powerful car bomb explosion at the weekend in which former Times reporter and political blogger, Daphne Caruana Galizia was blown to bits outside her home, in a rental car.

Daphne Galizia: had promised to reveal the ownership of a company involved in a possibly corrupt power station contract.

Ms Galizia has been an outspoken critic of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat since his name popped up in the 2015 release of The Panama Papers, suggesting that he and his wife had been corruptly salting away money paid to him by Azerbaijan in offshore companies.

To remind viewers and listeners, the Panama Papers were 11 million documents leaked from the offices of the law firm, Mossack Fonseca, detailing the setting up of tens of thousands of virtually untraceable shell companies to hide money in places like the British Virgin Islands, whom God recently punished with a hurricane.

“While offshore business entities are legal, reporters found that some (actually, rather a lot. Ed.) of the Mossack Fonseca shell corporations were used for illegal purposes, including fraud, tax evasion, and evading international sanctions.” (Wikipedia)

Weeping copious crocodile tears, Mr Muscat went on televisual record as saying:

“I condemn without reservations this barbaric attack on a person and on the freedom of expression in our country.”

And we must take him at his word. Although, it ought to be said, Mrs Galizia knew how to make enemies.

The one thing one doesn’t get from this BBC News story is any sense of who might have perpetrated the outrage in a supposedly peaceable part of the world where such things don’t normally happen; although Malta’s strategic ‘crossroads’ location 60 miles off the Libyan coast and former Arab history, together with its latter status for many years as a British dominion have for centuries made it a hotbed of espionage and intrigue.

Grech’s Times of Malta Online piece doesn’t appear to dare to venture even a hint of a suggestion, but instead sprays out a list of people Galizia might have pissed-off, including some she might not have, i.e. politicians opposed to the government of Dr Muscat. Only…

What is going on?

The US State department’s official website, while being unable to correctly spell ‘Assad’, the name of the President of Syria, nevertheless generously praises Azerbaijan for its co-operation on international terrorism and its opposition to: “terrorist organizations seeking to move people, money, and material through the Caucasus”.

That would presumably not include the Trump Organization’s friends, the Iranian National Guard Corps, whose money (according to The New Yorker magazine) moved through a failed Trump hotel development in the Azeri capital, Baku, part-financing an improbable project being managed by Trump daughter, Ivanka, in partnership with local oligarch and notoriously corrupt ‘family business’ boss, Zia Mammadov.

As “Trump said” (or someone did, he can’t string two words together):

“Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku represents the unwavering standard of excellence of The Trump Organization and our involvement in only the best global development projects,” Trump said when the venture was announced in 2014. “When we open in 2015, visitors and residents will experience a luxurious property unlike anything else in Baku—it will be among the finest in the world.” (Mother Jones)

Despite the ringing endorsement, the project (in a down-at-heel suburb of the capital) got dumped before Trump’s election. Nevertheless, many Western countries have flocked to oil-rich Azerbaijan and its hospitable (although not to journalists or political opponents) President Ilham Aliyev. The BBC reported:

“Deals with international energy producers have allowed the country to use its energy revenues to create a government-run fund involved in international projects … Despite its wealth and increased influence in the wider region, poverty and corruption continue to overshadow the country’s development.”

Maltese cars seem to have a distressing habit of exploding. In October last year, local Buggiba businessman John Camilleri was assassinated in a powerful explosion that only narrowly missed a passing school bus full of children. Again, in reporting the incident the Times of Malta curiously avoided any of the normal press speculation as to the reason behind the attack, or to describe Mr Camilleri as anything other than the proprietor of a bathroom-tile business; but merely concentrated on its own – and the government politicians’ – handwringing.

So much for “freedom of expression”.

In January 2016, a person “registered as a fisherman”, local boat-owner “Martin Cachia, 56, from Marsascala, who has a pending court case in connection with human trafficking, according to sources”, as anyone might, was blown up and died when his car crashed into a wall. While in September 2016, an unnamed man “not well-known to the police” was seriously injured in another car bombing in Mosta, losing both legs, and his passenger also injured; a third man was injured in his car as he was passing by.

How normal is it for a national newspaper not even to try to identify any of the three victims of an attempted murder, or to speculate on who might have been behind it, but merely to drop huge clues to local people as to the identity of the main target? What are journalists afraid of, we wonder?

Just what is going on in tiny island Malta?

Well, if you Google ‘organized crime in Malta’ you get only the results of an optimistic, anodyne official inquiry covering burglaries and suchlike, that makes no reference whatsoever to targeted assassinations. Self-censorship seems to reach up from the press into the higher echelons of government and law-enforcement. The European Union, of which Malta is a relatively new member, is silent on the subject.

But not everyone is afraid to speak out, provided they do so under conditions of anonymity. On 16 October, 2017 The Independent online (UK) among others reported on the Galizia murder:

“A politician said her death marked the “collapse of the rule of law” in Malta, the smallest (country) in the European Union. Tributes to Galizia poured in on Monday evening, as thousands of Maltese gathered in the streets for a candlelight vigil to the reporter.  Galizia is believed to have just published the last post on her widely read blog, Running Commentary, just before leaving her house (in) Mosta, a town outside the capital Valletta.”

“There are crooks everywhere you look now,” she had written, “the situation is desperate.”

In advance of his second visit to Azerbaijan in four months, to attend a conference where he was due to mingle with such luminaries as the peace-prizewinning war criminal, Henry Kissinger, Dr Muscat’s people were less than forthcoming in response to enquiries by The Times of Malta (who weren’t invited on the official junket): “Dr Muscat (is) committed to continue to do work to bring more investment and jobs to Malta.”

At what cost?

The traffic is, of course, not just one-way. Azerbaijan’s foreign affairs minister, Elmar Mammadyarov visited Malta for three days last week, conceivably to discuss an ongoing project involving Azeri state oil and gas company SOCAR, to build a power station on the island. Malta Today reported:

“Mammadyarov’s visit comes as Daphne Caruana Galizia has pledged to publish proof this week that a bank account of a company owned by politically exposed people in Azerbaijan was used to transfer large sums of money to offshore Panama companies owned by minister Konrad Mizzi, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, and a third company, Egrant.”

It is strongly rumoured among opposition politicians that Joseph Muscat and his wife may be the beneficial owners of Egrant. While, despite an impeccable record of Western education at Brown University and diplomatic service to his country, the Azeri’s Wikipedia entry reports:

“Under Elmar Mammadyarov the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan was hit by numerous scandals and corruption allegations. Stories and documents published in a number of Azeri news sites, blogs and social media claim that Mammadyarov is involved in illegal employment of staff for diplomatic service, irregularities, corruption and espionage along with his deputies and other high foreign service officials.”

Dimech: the ‘gangster’s moll’. But what was the politician really up to? (photo from website)

Was the killing of Galizia timed to entertain the visiting Azeri minister?

Business in Malta is clearly booming. But a casual browse on Mrs Galizia’s website reveals an intricate web of social, political and business relationships on the island that is almost impenetrable to an outsider. She covers numerous stories, many of them on the surface little more than tittle-tattle revealing a fetid atmosphere among the island’s half a million inhabitants.

One caught the attention of the BogPo, concerning the apparently close friendship between the much younger girlfriend of a convicted drug dealer, Rebecca Dimech (see photo) and the wife of the leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Dr Adrian Delia; whom Galizia hints at not so much having an affair with Ms Dimach, but more of being involved in her boyfriend’s cocaine enterprise:

“Miss Dimech … is an amateur glamour model from the wrong side of the tracks, whose long-term boyfriend, Andre Falzon … is a convicted drug-dealer well known to the police. He was released from prison last June. … Mrs Delia was at pains to dismiss any suspicions people might have had about “infidelity” by telling her interviewer “we laughed our heads off”. The widespread suspicions she needs to address about her and the Opposition leader’s relationship with Miss Dimech, though, have nothing to do with infidelity….” (Running Commentary)

Whatever may be going on with the Azerbaijan connection, it seems Mrs Galizia had a way of making powerful enemies in many areas of island life. Drugs, money-laundering, racketeering, people smuggling…. Perhaps we should not be too quick to point the finger of blame for her death at anyone special.

It’s clearly just a cultural thing.

 

x

Computer News

“Probing deeper, I discover a little map of ‘South Bank’, and with a start of recognition realize that it is a part of London I know fairly well…”

Where in the world am I?

Likers, Spammers, Followers and Those No Longer Reading this, muh bogl, will possibly have noted one of the sources for our regular Granny Weatherwax roundup of extreme weather events worldwide is a research group called Weather Underground, blogging as Wunderground, which is – we believe – owned or sponsored or funded by the CNN News organization in America.

Despite the defiant name, these weather guerillas seem to be perfectly reputable, highly qualified meteorologists running an efficient website combining official data sources and up to the minute satellite feeds with detailed reports, forecasts and expert commentary.

Heading their homepage every day is a weather report along the lines of the BBC’s clever “and now the news where you are” feature, a personalized facility for which some algorithm has been programmed to guess where in the world you are and tell you what the temperature, the windspeed and the precipitation are outside, roughly now.

So for weeks, I’ve been getting weather reports and forecasts for somewhere called Grangemouth, United Kingdom.

Now, until this began happening I had no idea where Grangemouth is, I had never heard of the place. Somewhat frustrated, as you can try keying in your actual location but the next day you wake up back in Grangemouth, I looked it up on the ever-reliable Google maps, and found it is an industrial coaling port all the way across the other side of the UK, on the North Sea coast. No wonder it’s always ten degrees colder there than it is here in the West, warmed as we are by the Gulf Stream (my next-door-neighbour has a well-advanced palm tree growing in their garden. Grangemouth is more famed for its tundra).

Why the boffins of Wunderground have decided I live there, or have the slightest interest in the prevailing conditions for the hardy Viking stock of Northumberland, I have no idea. But in recent days, it seems that I have sold up my home in Grangemouth and moved to somewhere called “South Bank”, where I notice it’s currently 51 deg. F. and sunny, with a high of 61 expected later.

There’s very little wind in South Bank, I notice, compared with here where we had a bit of whiplash from ex-Hurricane Ophelia yesterday as it chewed its way up the west coast of Ireland; although nothing like as bad as the “85 mph gusts” forecast.

Probing deeper, I discover a little map of South Bank, and with a start of recognition realize that it is a part of London I know fairly well, having been born and lived across the other side of the river for many years (there is no “North Bank”, by the way – it’s just known as Embankment, that eventually becomes other riparian districts like Pimlico and fashionable Chelsea Reach).

South Bank – or to give it its proper place names, Southwark, Vauxhall, Battersea –  is pretty famous, historically as the site of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and nowadays, for Sir Denys Lasdun’s ’60s Brutalist concert venue, the Royal Festival Hall; the Tate gallery and for the human statues and what-all else annoying buskers who infest the walkways.

But it’s still 256 miles from where I live now; while since my poor old mum passed away last year, I know no-one living anywhere near there, having almost literally burned my bridges as far as the capital is concerned. Looked at objectively, you can buy a three-bedroomed house in Grangemouth for £40 thousand; while the average price of a three-bedroomed house anywhere near “South Bank” (which is not actually a residential community) would be about £2.5 million. The “hiraeth” from which I suffer at the thwarted hope of someday returning to South Kensington, place of my boyhood, is mocked now by the vast economic divide in our society.

Meanwhile back in algorithm corner, I find on the Guardian website I am being offered the opportunity to buy yet more one-off items I have already just bought, or looked at on shopping websites and rejected.

What is the point, I ask myself and any passers-by who will stop to listen?

Here, for instance, is the opportunity to buy the bedroom chair in the color I rejected in favour of the bedroom chair I actually ordered, now in my bedroom. It might be several years before it wears out and I need another one. It’s quite a small room, with no room for two. And look, here next to it is the mattress I bookmarked before I baulked at the £700 price ticket, given that I have a mattress already.

I had thought seriously about changing it after reading Tim Dowling’s acerbically humorous Saturday column in the Guardian last week, about his adventures in acquiring a new mattress for their new home in grimiest Acton, West London (the running gag every week being how he and his wife don’t get along, although it seems they still share a bed, enabling them to fight amusingly over hopeless American-in-London, Tim’s inability to acquire a new mattress).

Mine started life as a pretty supportive, midrange orthopedic design, with 1800 sprung pockets, but over the six years I’ve had it, it has become soggy and pliant beneath my constantly revolving bulk. When Tim mentioned waking up every day with numb hands and a stiff neck, familiar symptoms, I knew it had come time for me to look for a new mattress, and Googling “mattresses” found many affordable examples advertised with free delivery.

I always reason that cheap is crappy and the more you spend, the happier you will be. But you can’t tell, can you, from a photo? Although £160 would probably not buy you a mattress that would stay the course for long, £700 could turn out an expensive mistake; like the new cooker I ordered last month….

ouwhouawhouaaa (eerie flashback music):

(The story so far: shortly after the gas man turned up yesterday on £100 an hour after the previous week’s false alarm and disconnected the old cooker, he summoned me from my shed where I had been hiding to tell me with a long face that the new cooker the shop had just delivered “doesn’t fit”.

Instead of the double-oven, gas-powered, under-counter model I had so carefully described to the man at the counter, the shop had sent over a single-oven electric cooker made to fit an eye-level unit. Back went the old cooker.

Later on, I get a call from the store to say oh dear, they have two cookers in the shop with my name on, and neither of them is the one I ordered, they can’t think how that happened, nevertheless the right one will most assuredly be with me in three weeks’ time… (It isn’t…)

I could offer a column about my life to The Guardian, maybe, only it’s just me and Hunzi, and occasionally Katz… the wife and I stopped fighting after the divorce eight years ago, and there wasn’t another in stock.)

So I switched my attention to other things.

Algorithms never forget, however. So now everytime I go to The Guardian website, which I have to do daily to find interesting items to report here on the BogPo, there’s the one mattress I hovered over, looking pleadingly at me. Should I buy it?

I have decided on principle, no, I shouldn’t. For £700 I can put up with numb fingers in the morning and a stiff neck, although the lack of support makes reading in bed a torture.

And it isn’t only images of tub chairs and orthopedic mattresses I’m being bombarded with, despite my helpful ad-blocker.

The expensive guitar I bought in London last month already has a carry-case, thank you, Gear4Music. It was included in the price. I only wanted to check with you to see what they cost, hard-cases the right size for my little Fibonacci, because the one it came with is embarrassingly cream-colored and I hate to be noticed when carrying a guitar, as I don’t play that well and people always ask, don’t they.

They see your guitar, and the first question that springs to mind is, do you play it?

But now I’m being offered a new guitar case in brown or black every day, and it’s not likely I shall really want to buy another as they can cost £120; while I seldom travel with my guitar far enough to bother.

Then as I have previously mentioned there is the BBC’s online viewing service, the iPlayer, that is forever offering me as personalized suggestions for programmes I might like to watch today, the programmes I watched yesterday. And, as I live in Wales, naturally, many programmes in Welsh: a language that might as well be Welsh to me.

The worst is, there’s no opportunity either to switch off the promotional images, or to explain carefully to the advertiser why you won’t be buying whatever it is they’re offering, day after day, principally because you don’t need another one, you can only play one saxophone for instance (okay, so I can’t play it at all, I soon found out it has more little keys than I have fingers, and none of them seems to do anything to alter the note) – or you just don’t want it.

Why can’t algorithms be programmed instead to offer you interesting and imaginative new things you haven’t already bought, or rejected? Like a cricket bat, or a submarine? I assume the advertisers are paying for those wasted spaces?

As a marketing tool, dialogue is so much more effective.

Wherever in the world you are.

Postscriptum:

Okay, own up. Who told Weather Underground where I live? More importantly, where to find The Boglington Post?

Because since I Posted this Post this morning the sarcastic bastards have switched my ‘weather where you are’ from central London, where I am not, to where I actually am, although I have never specified where that is, indeed I have not even mentioned the problem I was having with the anomalous locations to them directly. No wonder paranoia is going viral.

I plan to buy a camper instead, sell my little cottage and stay on the move in my own safe space.

I’m feeling violated.

Braga, Portugal, 15 October. (Photo: Daily Mail)

 

Your old Granny W. sploshes in galoshes

The Planet: “September 2017 was only the planet’s fourth warmest September since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and NASA this week. The warmer Septembers came during 2015, 2016, and 2014”

Global warming is a myth. Look, Republican states voting for denial! (NOAA)

Near-ground atmospheric temperature however was the warmest on record: “record warmth was observed across parts of central and southern Africa, southern Asia, across the western, northern, and southern Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean (off the southeastern coast of South America), the Norwegian Sea, Greenland Sea, and Barents Sea, and across parts of the Indian Ocean.

No land or ocean areas experienced record cold September temperatures.”

But in total, the average temperature of the world in 2017 to date is still 0.13 deg. C colder than last year. I suppose the key question is, if 2017 hasn’t been hotter than 2016, are we on the way to a cooling planet? Is global warming a myth?

Portugal/Spain: The most shockingly apocalyptic images emerge from more than 500 major fires that erupted all over northern Portugal around Braga and neighbouring Galicia province in Spain at the weekend, after months of drought, continuing high temperatures and strong winds. 49 dead so far, over 100 fires still burning. Suspected arsonists arrested.

China: Typhoon Khanun brings heavy rainfall, flooding and landslides to the island of Formosa (Taiwan! Ed.) before heading across to Hong Kong – Guangdong and Hainan provinces – 114 kph winds and up to 520 mm (0.52 metres) rainfall causing major disruption, and on down into North Vietnam, still recovering from last week’s lethal floods and landslides that killed 70. Reports suggest it’s already dissipating, but:

Japan: Tropical Storm Lan is several hundred miles out northeast of the Philippines on a possible track for Japan and rapidly developing towards a typhoon with sustained windspeeds already of 70 mph. “The beginnings of an eye were apparent on microwave satellite imagery.”

Philippines:  “Heavy rain, strong winds and storm surge from TS Paolo have caused flooding in areas around Zamboanga, Mindanao. 1 dead, 12,000 people (2,448 families) displaced. Strong winds caused storm surge along coastal areas. Heavy rain also increased river levels in the area, causing further flooding. The Pasonanca Dam is at “critical” level. As of 18 October it stood at 76.10 metres, where normal level is 74.2”. (Edited report)

Thailand: central Bangkok was underwater on the 14th after torrential rain (worst in 25 years).

India: 5 dead as major flooding arrives in Bangalore. Local govt. officials slated for being out of town playing a game of cricket while rain-sodden citizens endured disruption to the city’s already crumbling transportation system.

Australia: Up to 208mm of rain fell over parts of Queensland on 16 Oct, causing flooding. One person dead. Heavy rain is continuing across parts of the state. A search is underway for a fishing boat missing with 6 crew. Bundaberg, subject to severe flooding last week, is also affected.

USA: cooler, calmer weather is helping the nearly 11 thousand firefighters battling 14 wildfires in the Santa Rosa, California region. The death toll still stands at 40, but with 154 missing, nearly 6 thousand homes and vineyards in the Napa Valley destroyed and 75 thousand-plus people homeless or evacuated.

Still no sign of Trump, too busy insulting grieving Gold Star service families. For God’s sake, someone in office put a bullet through his diseased brain and end this nightmare.

(Just noticed from a US TV news crawler, it was 96.8 deg. F (36C) in Phoenix, Az. yesterday. In mid-October. (But not the record: 2003 saw a 98 deg. C. high at this time of year. September was only the fourth hottest on record, but 168 record highs have been reported as opposed to just 17 record lows anywhere in the northern hemisphere this year. Sea ice-loss forecasts for the Arctic proved wrong, again – “The Arctic reached its lowest extent for the year on September 13, which was the eighth lowest extent on record. The five lowest Arctic sea ice extents were measured in September 2012, 2007, 2016, 2011, and 2015.”) However, ‘extent’ is not a measure of volume and is dependent on other feedbacks than temperature.

Puerto Rico: further tropical depression brings new flooding to Caguas province; town underwater.

Mexico: powerful flash flood hits Santiago Tuxtla, Veracruz. Over 400 properties damaged, nearly 40 homes destroyed; shortage of drinking water.

Spain: “Grazalema in Cádiz recorded 111.4 mm of rain in 24 hours between 17 and 18 October. (Most of it fell in a torrential one-hour period.) Images on social media showed flood water raging through streets of Jerez de la Frontera in Cadiz… (Several people had to be rescued from their cars.) The heavy rain also caused a major rockfall in the Serrania de Ronda, in the western part of province of Málaga (more landslides blocking roads).”

Serbia – ‘possibly disruptive’ heat warnings in force.

Ireland: Following on the heels of ex-Hurricane Ophelia five days ago, Subtropical Depression-about-to-become Atlantic Storm “Brian” is heading straight for the Irish Republic with 80 mph winds, high seas and heavy rain likely to batter the whole of the British Isles over the weekend.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #74/ Euronews/ RUPTLY/ Al Jazeera/ Wunderground/ Floodlist/ NOAA

 

End of Everything Update

Germany: a long-term scientific survey has found there has been a 78% decline in flying insects in the past 30 years; almost regardless of climate change.

“Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline,” said Prof Dave Goulson of Sussex University, UK, part of the team behind the new study. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”

USA: A number of smallish earthquakes – M1.5 to M2.3 were recorded in New York State and New Hampshire on 17 Oct by local and international agencies. Those earthquakes are still (10 pm 18 Oct) not showing on the US Geological Survey’s 24-hour updates and have presumably been CENSORED, as a) the eastern seaboard is not supposed to have earthquakes, and b) the earthquake activity was PREDICTED three days in advance by Michael Janich of St Louis, who vlogs regularly several times a day as ‘Dutchsinse’, and whose 80%-plus record of accurately predicting both the magnitude and location of earthquakes from global survey data has led to the USGS, which vehemently denies the possibility that earthquakes can be scientifically predicted, attempting to impose a blackout on his website, even at the expense of providing a full information service.

Just sayin’. (But if Yellowstone was about to blow, just consider if the USGS would tell anyone?)

Yellowstone: Swarms of M2.5+ earthquakes are continuing just outside the caldera at Soda Springs, Idaho and Lincoln Montana indicating magma still flooding horizontally into the chambers beneath the caldera. USGS under more criticism for failing to post significant quakes. Residents feel ‘constant vibrations’ coming from under the ground and are no longer bothering to report small earthquakes.

Nothing suggests that these are not serious indications of an impending eruption, since they seem to fit so precisely into the USGS’s own definition of what constitutes the right time to panic. They’re still reassuring the public that although we’re 40 thousand years overdue for another cyclical eruption, it can’t happen.

No need to remind you that a full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano will very likely bring the world’s economy crashing down and a ‘volcanic winter’ leading to drastic food shortages, with casualties in the millions.

The Greenhouse Effect: Did you ever run the 100 yards dash when you were at school? So you know how far 70 yards is, right? So, run 70 yards (if you still can). Now, turn 90 deg. left and run another 70 yards. Then again, turn 90 deg left and run another 70 yards – and finally, another 90 deg turn and another 70 yards.

So you’ve run a square with an outer perimeter of 280 yards without bumping into a building? Well done. The area inside the square is one acre.

Now, imagine 12 million of those acres.

That’s as much forest, farm and scrubland – trees, bushes and crops (a few thousand houses) – as has burned in wildfires in the USA this year.

You can add maybe two more millions for Canada – British Columbia had a record year for fires – then there’s Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, the Mediterranean islands (most of them), north Africa, Turkey, Croatia, Ukraine, Poland, Russia and the republics (Siberia had a record year for heat and wildfires) – even Greenland.

That’s just the northern hemisphere. Australia and South America have also had record wildfire years.

Now double it to count 2016’s total, and again for 2015, again for 2012 and worse for 2005.

All that burned vegetation has returned its stored CO2 to the atmosphere, millions and millions and millions of tonnes of it, and the latter years’ ‘biomass’ won’t be absorbing any more CO2 for at least a couple more years until it greens up again; only it’ll probably burn down again when it does.

See the problem?

 

Afterthought

And where do you come from?

American researchers are scratching their tousled or receding heads over the discovery that marriages created through online dating apps are both more stable and more likely to be of an interracial character. They just can’t think why.

For what it’s worth my suggestion is that it’s to do with the format of the encounter.

When you encounter a person of a different ‘race’ in the flesh, as it were (there is biologically speaking no such thing as ‘race’ as genetic differences lie on a continuous spectrum, but we’ll move on), cultural assumptions and associations are triggered automatically merely by their appearance, that immediately distance you from the other person and place self-imposed obligations on you to react in a conditioned way, whatever it may be.

Your reaction to meeting a person obviously of a different ethnic background is almost certainly either to become effusively over-polite, or to retreat into your shell: outwardly hostile or violent reactions to interracial encounters are very rare. You are unlikely to discover much about the Other from that first encounter; other, perhaps, than that they were ‘born here’….

But when you are in the safety and comfort of your own home or the wine bar browsing through photographs and self-descriptions and profiles and convoluted explanations and stories that are often warm and witty and perceptive and surprising and funny, you have time to adjust to the Other and are not required to be polite to an actual person merely for the sake of form, in case the cultural ‘difference’ should prove too much for both of you.

Online dating, then, is a passive-encounter format that encourages imaginative, wishful thinking, that can lead to experimentation, new freedoms and happy discoveries; or a rejection without the need for politeness and difficulty.

Difference can be negative – or positive.

Ask any 1.5 volt battery.

The Parade’s Gone By… Careless tweets cost lives… Granny W. with her skirts a blowin’ about her ears… Thursday’s Post under construction (because you had that the day before…)

“Golden words he will pour in your ear – But his lies can’t disguise what you fear – It’s the kiss of death – from Mister Goldfinger…” (Newley/Barry/Bricusse) (photo: twitter.com)

Since San Juan, Trumps approval rating has fallen to 32%.

 

“I am going to take my life in my hands and contend that the desire of a powerful man to have sex with an attractive young woman is entirely normal.”

The Parade’s Gone By

Forgive me for introducing this topic again, but I’m beginning to feel a little sorry for Harvey Weinstein.

I know, I know.

But look. A pretty starlet is invited to his room and he appears from the bathroom in a bathrobe. There’s a bit of leery, expectational stuff and she leaves. His PA apologizes. And this, about 20 years later, is described in the Guardian as the poor woman undergoing a terrifying ordeal. Do me a favour!

I experienced far worse assaults by dressing-gown at my British public-school in the 1960s.

What does anyone expect, being invited to the hotel room of a bigshot producer late at night? Many people, not just men still see sex in the classic literary terms of a game of ‘pursuit and conquest’. Whole websites exist only to enable people to copulate with a different partner every night; or to meet people with similar perversions – or just to watch.

But make an actual pass at someone… ho no, it’s jail time for you.

I’ve heard (women) interviewees expressing the ‘matronizing’ view that 22-year-old actresses are just vulnerable, unsuspecting children. And the preoccupation of the world’s media for days with this one obnoxious sex-pest, his dressing-gowns and his power complex, the ‘Savilization’ of Weinstein, the emergence from the woodwork of so many ‘victims’ – some of whom may have just cause, but have not gone public for twenty, thirty years – others possibly bandwaggon-jumping, expressing faux-outrage over their own inconclusive encounter with the Beast of Hollywood, explaining their career hiccup away as a result of offending Harvey, if that’s not too unfair, has made this one somewhat outlandish figure into a nightmarish symbol of patriarchal oppression – rather more than he deserves.

‘Harvey, the Movie’ cannot be far in the future.

Hollywood moguls have been doing this stuff since the days when no-one thought anything much of it; although now you might raise an eyebrow at the career-defining opportunities that went on, and the career-damage that might have greeted a spirited denial of facilities. Nevertheless, purely transactional sex does go on, the power-plays, the gold-digging, and not only in the movie business.

The time to say no is in the restaurant.

Yes, ‘Hurricane’ Harvey appears to have done some worse things. Forgetting to put the bathrobe on is one. I haven’t heard yet that he ever greeted a starlet in his room with his dick in his hand, publicly masturbating, as Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly is reported to have done with some of Murdoch’s more attractive soubrettes; as his boss, Roger Ailes, also reportedly did*. I shouldn’t be surprised, but ladies, that’s when a man is at his most vulnerable.

Nor has he seemingly murdered anyone. Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle was an inadequate man, a successful comic actor and film director from an abusive family background who ended up on trial in 1920 for the rape and murder of a starlet, Virginia Rappe. There had been a party, drugs, sex, illicit booze… Enormous quantities of shit were thrown, ambitious lawyers and politicians grandstanding for weeks, ‘witnesses’ extorting money, Hearst’s yellow press in full cry.

Nowadays it would be invidious to point to Rappe’s pretty terrible sexual history, the many abortions, the heavy drinking, the fucked-up life; the erratic testimony of witnesses, the lack of medical evidence of rape (the prosecution alleged that Arbuckle was impotent) and the endorsement of colleagues like Chaplin, who had known the 300-lb Arbuckle for years as a shrinking violet – whose own sexual conduct had not exactly been spotless. The cause of death was nothing more lurid than peritonitis, which the prosecution tried to put down to Arbuckle lowering his gross tonnage onto the poor girl. But there was no evidence. Arbuckle was acquitted, though his career never fully recovered.

Something similar happened to the mysteriously popular British entertainer and game show host, Michael Barrymore after Stuart Lubbock, 31, drowned in his swimming pool during a wild party in 2001. Problems with alcohol and press reports that the married Barrymore had come out as bisexual, together with evidence that Lubbock had had anal sex before death, created a whirlpool of suspicion and innuendo from which the host was unable to extricate himself for several years, at the cost of his career. Barrymore recently won a damages action against the local police.

Let’s face it, entertainers have egos. Why else would they be driven to parade themselves? The life of most actors is pretty frustrating: very few make it to the top and even fewer stay there. Most are insecure: they need to match themselves in real life with their heroic onscreen personas. They demonstrate their affairs publicly to prove how attractive they still are. As a British actor, the late Michael Bryant (a notorious shagger) once commented, if you were a heterosexual male in the British theatre, you had it made. There weren’t many of those to go round.

Does that presuppose a generalized abuse of patriarchal power? Because if so, it also denies women the power of their own sexuality, their needs and desires, and makes victims of them all. Predatory white middle-aged males are not always the problem: not many young soubrettes wanted to be alone around Coral Browne, or Marlene Dietrich. And I don’t suppose I’d like to be a young black woman involved in the rougher end of the rap music video scene; or who encountered Bill Cosby at the height of his career.

Showbiz is, to put it bluntly, about sex, and sexiness.

But there are now at least five allegations of actual rape against Weinstein, which he denies. If true, it is admittedly far more serious. It’s possible he was overpowering, violent, but it doesn’t yet sound like it. He seems from some testimony to have been amenable to being told he was a naughty boy and should stop. The impression given by the media, of an old man leering and leching over young women, is titivating – until you stop and realize that thirty years ago when this stuff seems to have started, he too was 30 years younger.

Let’s face it, Weinstein is no oil painting; maybe a Francis Bacon. He is probably the ugliest man ever. A caveman. That’s only judging from still photos – we don’t all look our best without that animated twinkle in our piggy eyes, the movement that catches the light or sets our massive jaw in a more attractive profile; the responses to other people, the power.

‘The smiles, the frowns, the upside-downs…’

Alfred Hitchcock was no oil-painting either; barely a pastel. But he had a rather tragic addiction to unavailable Nordic-blonde actresses and seems to have been just as unsuccessful at winning their hearts as Weinstein; not for lack of trying. Nor is there any suggestion that Weinstein tortured his victims, as Hitchcock did to Tippi Hedren, star of his overrated suspense film, The Birds, when he relentlessly shot five days of unnecessary footage of her being attacked by hungry starlings until the blood ran down her pretty face, after she refused his advances in a taxi.

But Weinstein? Probably not. Although there are women no doubt who would see past the stubbly, prognathous jaw, the slobbery mouth, the piggy eyes, the hairy fat gut and the chubby white legs with (probably) unattractive stocking suspenders, to the sensitive millionaire movie producer beneath… women who marry very ugly men for a million reasons: power being one. Aristotle Onassis was no Adonis, but he owned a shipping line, he bagged the widowed Jackie Kennedy. And Weinstein had a very attractive British wife, a former model, who has now baled on him. Was she entirely unaware of his sexual predelictions? Did they matter, until the world’s media showed up?

This whole affair is taking on the dimensions of a pack of wolverines in pursuit of one fat, ugly, late-middle-aged, wealthy American Jew, probably grown as desperate for female approbation as Trump is desperate for actual voters, with an underdeveloped teenage Philip Roth-level appetite for having his pudding pulled, who through his own craven admissions and apologies and promises to take counselling and go to rehab and mend his terrible ways and do better in future has almost certainly terminated a career that produced many quite fine films – a stunning gaffe on the part of his PR people.

I introduce the word Jew advisedly, as there is an obvious antisemitic trope threading through the expanding field of opprobrium surrounding this poor, ugly schmuck, now known in the British tabloids as ‘The Beast’, whose intellect and strength of purpose are being essentially sacrificed to the new Puritanism, as redefined by the lexicon of abuse and victimhood, of ‘safe spaces’ and premarital pledges; a reaction to the dark side of human existence, which is never going to go away; nor can one quite see why it should.

The thing about Weinstein is, he was the best in class at playing the game: Bigshot Hollywood Producer. The lecherous stuff, the casual brutality, the payoffs with non-disclosure clauses – the disrespect for the legions of wannabes goes with that: it’s out of Central Casting. And now he’s taking the hit for all the others, and one is not allowed to express the slightest concern for him: the way James Corden and Woody Allen have been shredded for what seemed like prevarication is like watching Tippi Hedren being pecked to death by starlings.

I am going to take my life in my hands and contend that the desire of a powerful man to have sex with an attractive young woman is entirely normal, and this is a huge fuss about a badly behaved but very wealthy, entitled and well-connected slob who imagines women find him attractive without his bathrobe, but probably doesn’t care overmuch if they don’t. If the rape allegations prove true, well, I’ll take most of it back.

Tonight, in the wake of BAFTA’s withdrawal of his credentials, the Motion Picture Academy of America is debating expelling Weinstein from their honoured ranks and Macron is taking away his Legion d’Honneur. (Yes, he was that good. While being bad, of course.) Petitions are being got up, police reluctantly stirring their bones to start raking through the muck of many lives. Not, I venture to suggest, because of the unique nature of his sexual predation, which is pretty much par for the course in the movie business; but because they know, they just fucking know, that this kind of thing has been going on since the silent movies started in the 1910s, probably since showbiz began in the 17th century, and they’ve ignored it until they couldn’t any longer.

This is not about injured women: it’s about the Oscars, about their ‘reputation’ which is, as it should be, scandalous.

As for ‘Hurricane’ Harvey, well, if he wasn’t so shy and retiring and was more ambitious to save his nation from lousy trade deals, it could be him in the White House, the police would not be investigating his gropings, and even high-minded women with PhDs and housewives in Peoria would be voting for him to grab their pussies.

Just sayin’.

*Oh sorry, we now have an account of Weinstein jerking off into a plant pot. Oh well. It takes all sorts.

x

Commander-in-Brief

As a record number of wildfires break out (probably set deliberately – arrests have followed) in northern Portugal and the neighbouring Spanish province of Galicia, despite all his problems with Catalonia the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy is rushing to his native region to oversee the firefighting and rescue operations (more than 30 people have been killed, adding to the 65 who died in fires in central Portugal last July.)

To date there is no record of US ‘Commander-in-Chief’ Donald Trump being bothered even to express sympathy and solidarity with the people of northern California, where over 40 are confirmed dead and ‘hundreds’ remain missing after fires driven by hot, dry winds devastated whole communities, destroying over 5 thousand homes around Santa Rosa. He has merely rubber-stamped an order sending the overstretched and underbudgeted FEMA emergencies management administration swinging into helpless action.

Googling “Trump visit California” brings up only: “Donald Trump will attend a dinner with Friends of Abe, a group of Hollywood conservatives, during a stop in Los Angeles.” Oh, sorry, that was NBC in July 2015.

Santa Rosa. A Mexican name…

Or could it just be that Trump lost the Sunshine State by 4 million votes on 08 November 2016, and hates Californians?

x

“How aware is Trump that his more intemperate and vengeful messages are being amplified by hostile actors to bring his country down…?”

Careless tweets cost lives

The Pumpkin drew your attention last week to the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC and her summation of the latest media reports on the growing awareness of the extent of Russian interference in the US elections last year.

It’s clear the experiment goes on, as Tom McCarthy reports in the Guardian (Saturday 14th Oct):.

“What has now been made clear is that Russian trolls and automated bots not only promoted explicitly pro-Donald Trump messaging, but also used social media to sow social divisions in America by stoking disagreement and division around a plethora of controversial topics such as immigration and Islamophobia. And, even more pertinently, it is clear that these interventions are continuing…”

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/14/russia-us-politics-social-media-facebook

In case anyone shrugs and says, oh well, what do you expect? It’s just trolls and bots and stuff, political advertising isn’t illegal. No, at least it is if it’s paid for by a foreign government – hence the use of ‘dark money’ funneled into politicians’ PACs via untraceable shell companies and laundered through US property deals – but there’s evidence that Trump’s frankly infantile and increasingly delusionary tweets are acting as a trigger for Russian fake social media accounts to amplify his bizarre messages in order to deepen the divisions in US political discourse.

“…social media accounts linked with Russian influence operations appear to have taken cues directly and immediately from the @realdonaldtrump Twitter account, according to analysis by the Washington-based Alliance for Securing Democracy…”

And on Bannon’s advice, Trump is already fundraising for “Re-elect Trump 2020”. The campaign has already started.

One example given was the spat between the fatuous orange oaf and the beleaguered Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Julin Cruz, over the humiliating ineffectuality of the Commander-in-Chief’s failed aid operation in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria, with stories spreading on Facebook about failures by the authorities on Puerto Rico, that hadn’t happened. Similar agitprop followed Trump’s much criticized outburst about the NFL ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, calling San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick a ‘son of a bitch’ for refusing to stand for the national anthem.

How aware is Trump that his more intemperate and vengeful tweets are being amplified by hostile actors to bring his country down?

Indeed, was Trump not aware that Puerto Rico is an American dependency and that its residents have American citizenship? Not at first, it appears – hence, his contemptuously dismissive comments about them being a drain on the economy, how much worse had been the death toll from Hurricane Katrina (so with only 16 dead they should stop complaining), how they should pay back the money they owed America before he would support Congressional funding to improve their infrastructure, and how he ‘knew many Puerto Ricans’ whose migration to New York in the 1960s had ruined whole neighbourhoods.

If he is not completely ignorant about the status of Puerto Rico and its 3.5 million American citizens – many of them white – then the man is, in short, a racist fucking pig.

Does he understand that Facebook group pages such as Secured Borders, Texas Rebels, Being Patriotic, LGBT United and Blacktivists, specialist sites which put out a subtle mix of propaganda messages from fake accounts targeted at hundreds of thousands of real account holders identified as likely being either pro- or anti- the causes seemingly espoused, and which have been re-amplified to hundreds of millions of accounts, are all fake news – constructed by Russian intel operations?

Probably not. If he does, he’s a traitor and should be duly arraigned and jailed.

But apparently, it’s not against the law to conspire with a foreign state to rig your own election, provided of course you don’t tell the leader of that state in advance about your nuclear plans, or give away the intelligence secrets of your foreign allies…

Ooops.

But it appears the Russians aren’t the only ones playing Infowar-style games with the netizens of other countries. In a separate report, The Observer newspaper has been attempting to get to the bottom of a secret British campaign to influence Russian-speaking populations against the Putin regime in the border countries – Latvia. Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine. Populations who might, as in Ukraine, welcome Russian expansionist moves. And they’ve discovered it’s so secret, a Parliamentary oversight committee can’t even find out where it’s being conducted:

“Britain’s broader package of assistance to Ukraine, which is engaged not just in a bitter conflict with Russian-backed separatists but also a propaganda war with the Kremlin, included £2.4m to help the Kiev government improve its communications strategy. The Observer has established that the money came from the £1bn-plus conflict, stability and security fund (CSSF), a source so secret that a committee of senior MPs and peers meant to be scrutinising it have been denied access to the names of the 40 countries where it is spent.”

Meanwhile, British intelligence has been ‘confirming’ that Iran was behind a cyber attack on the emails of British MPs back in June. It was thought to have been a Russian or North Korean operation, but now the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is in the frame it will surely add fuel to Mr Trump’s anti-Iranian fire, in case British MPs are ever called upon to vote to go to war on his coattails.

We should note in passing, that since the Cameron government transferred the cost of running the BBC’s World Service broadcasts from the Foreign Office to the TV licence-payer in 2014, saving £46 million, the number of country-by-country services has been drastically reduced – North Korea among them. Now however it seems we’re ploughing £1 billion into a budget to transfer our black propaganda activities to the internet.

‘O tempora, O mores’, as someone once said. Boris Johnson, probably.

x has been tryhing to delve into a secret campaign Britain is running in the

Granny W. with her skirts a blowin’ about her ears…

 

Republic of Ireland: Three dead, property damage, tens of thousands without power after “ex-hurricane” Ophelia transits the entire island from SW to NE. US National Hurricane Center abandons attempt to track it as no storm has previously survived that far east as a hurricane in the Atlantic. Unusual ‘orange sunrise’ observed, owing to particles sucked from the Sahara and Portuguese wildfires. But it may not be over yet:

“A broad area of low pressure was located about 200 miles north of the Turks and Caicos Islands at noon Monday, and was headed north at about 15 mph. This system (92L) has the potential to develop into a tropical depression by Tuesday night as it moves near Bermuda. … long-range model runs predict that the remnants of 92L will be absorbed by a powerful extratropical low-pressure system later this week, which will go on to give Ireland another battering on Friday and Saturday, as a 960 mb low-pressure system.”

Antarctica: Only two Adelie penguin chicks have been spotted alive out of more than 40 thousand of this season’s hatchlings, owing to ice formation that has extended the normal foraging range for the adult birds by 100 km; while unusual amounts of rainfall have caused endemic hypothermia among the starving chicks. It’s the second time an entire hatch has been lost in the past four years, threatening the survival of the species*. Scientists are struggling to understand this counterintuitive weather pattern but suggest rapid ice melt on land and from the shelves is increasing the fresh water extent around the continent, fresh water freezing at a higher temperature than saline.

Autumn colours at Winston Churchill’s Blenheim Palace. (BBC)

UK: “The BBC weather report was presented by Sarah Keith-Lucas today who looked absolutely stunning in a plum jacket. Wrapping up her incredible figure in the outerwear, she stepped in for Carol Kirkwood and delivered the forecast from Hyde Park, London. The 35-year-old told viewers it will be a fairly cloudy start but temperatures will be on the rise.”

So clever! Not only is this the sort of antediluvian crap journalism we have to put up with from the Daily Express newspaper (the item was written by a woman), the forecast going on to promise drier, sunnier weather later on was spectacularly wrong! It’s been raining all day here in the West, overcast with continual drizzle punctuated by heavier showers. But as is often their way, on alternate days when there’s nothing rude to say about politicians who don’t want the hardest possible Brexit, the Excess is front-page forecasting the apocalypse on Monday when Hurricane Ophelia makes land.

Who knows what fetching colours editor Hugh Whittow (age 14 3/4) is wearing today.

On the subject of Autumn, having bogld extensively last Spring on the astonishing acceleration of biomass in our valley, I’ve been meaning to mention how early many of our trees have dropped their leaves without bothering first to look pretty. It’s nothing like Blenheim! Usually it takes a sharp frost to sever the axils of the leaves from the twigs, but there’s been no frost at all yet, it’s been unusually mild and it’s already mid-October. I suspect trees know when a windy Autumn storm threatens to blow them down if they don’t quickly shed some of that bulk.

*Here’s a modest proposal. Penguins need rocky foreshore to feed and breed, but the meltwater in the Antarctic continues to create too much ice. Polar bears need pack-ice to fish from but dry land to breed, and they’re drowning as the Arctic melts. Why not round up enough polar bears and penguins to create viable breeding colonies and transpose them: penguins to the Arctic and polar bears to the Antarctic, where the habitat remains suitable for each to thrive?

Vietnam: Following days of heavy rain and over 30 deaths (Sat: 54) due to a tropical depression, northern Vietnam is now in the path of Cat 1 typhoon Khanun, forecast to weaken slightly to a tropical depression by the time it makes landfall on Tuesday.

Philippines: one dead as main Luzon island battered by Tropical Storm Odette bringing strong winds and heavy rain.

Thailand: large areas of Chiang Mai city and the capital, Bangkok, underwater due to heavy rains.

Bolivia: Massive hailstorm batters Sucre. City streets turn to surging rivers of ice, etc. State of emergency declared.

Portugal: “…hundreds of wildfires (fanned by strong winds from passing Hurricane Ophelia) have forced residents to flee from towns and villages in the country’s worst weekend of the year – more than 500 fires broke out on Sunday, most suspected deliberately set. The national civil protection authority said 27 people had been killed in central and northern Portugal; three people have been reported dead in northern Spain. The death toll is likely to rise.” (Edited report)

Portugal and Canary Islands both experiencing record high temperatures for October, around 37C, 98F. Midday temperatures in the eastern USA, SE Australia, Saudi Arabia (40C, 102F), west central Africa, central China and up in the Arctic remain anomalously high for the time of year. UK temperatures also in the mid-20sC, high for the time of year, and setting record nighttime levels up to 17C (62F).

BBC News/ Wikipedia/ Weather Underground/ Climate and Extreme Weather News #73/ The Guardian

 

I am somewhat put out

The BBC’s excellent new Sunday-night drama series, The Last Post is set in Aden in 1965, at the time of a local rebellion against the British occupation.

The sun sets on the Empire. (Thesun.co.uk)

I was, I confess, 15 years old at the time, a recalcitrant teenage schoolboy. I didn’t have much notion of what young conscripts not much older than myself were getting up to in far-flung corners of the British empire, but the stuffy, rectitudinal attitudes and stiff upper-lips ring true, as does the somewhat matey relationships between the NCOs and enlisted men and the officers stranded on their army base, with only alcohol, smoking, adultery with the officers’ wives and leisuretime at the ‘BP Club’ to relieve the monotony – until some tribal blows your head off from 300 yards and vanishes into the endless desert.

Anyway, 1956 and the Suez debacle did eventually put an end to all that, and by the time I left school both conscription and capital punishment had been abolished and the Sexual Offences Act introduced. Saved by the bell. While the contemporary music that threads through the episodes – Dusty Springfield, Ketty Lester – and the furniture whose reproductions 50 years later I have been acquiring to improve my little cottage, ’60s retro being fashionable now, have immediate resonance with me. It’s all part – a small part, nevertheless a part – of my makeup.

Which is why I’m somewhat put out to see that The Last Post is listed on the iPlayer catch-up service under ‘Period Drama’…. Is that me now?

Period?

 

 

 

America, You’re Fired!… Is this really as bad as it gets?… Granny Weatherwax says: Welcome to October… End of the World News.

Postscriptum, 12 Oct: California fires – over 500 missing, 23 confirmed dead – 3,500 homes burned, 170 thousand acres. Puerto Rico: 4 deaths reportedfrom water-borne disease as FEMA relief efforts flounder. Overall death toll from Hurricane Maria may be much higher than thought – “350 bodies counted in morgues”.

“Let’s see Little Rocket Man hit a par-64!” Emperor Sneero golfs while California burns and Puerto Rico rots. (AOL.com)

“…the campaign was run across all the main platforms, Google being the latest to ‘fess up, and that natural cross-medialization between networks had a ‘firestorm’ effect, resulting in hundreds of millions of views on personal media accounts.”

America, You’re Fired!

I make no apology for once again pointing you to a segment of the Rachel Maddow Show on America’s leading cable news channel, MSNBC. (Link below)

On Tuesday, 10 October Maddow led on the sudden outbreak over the weekend of devastating wildfires in heavily populated areas of northern California, whipped up by hot, dry winds. (There’s also one threatening Disneyland at Anaheim in the south.) While there have been serious wildfires burning all over the western USA since late June, costing billions of dollars in damage, right up into northern Canada where they had an unprecedented heatwave and a record wildfire season for British Columbia, these appear to be of a different order, as whole suburbs have been burned out (see below) and many people are dead or missing.

Fanned by 50 mph winds, fires quickly spread. (sacbee.com)

While the President – mindful of his predecessor-but-one, George W Bush’s gaffe over New Orleans – has made teeth-grindingly forced-looking efforts to drag himself off the golf course with his stony-faced wife to spend an hour or two meeting relief officials working in hurricane disaster zones, helpfully chucking packs of paper towels at the victims, he has yet to take the slightest notice of other, possibly worse environmental catastrophes unfolding in his country this summer – other than to continue with his insane attempts to rollback Obama’s environmental protections.

The California fires story even made the BBC main news, which you might not expect as they’ve been ignoring extreme weather events all summer, reporting only on those where they’ve got correspondents or can cheaply send a reporter; where Britons are involved, as in the South of France, or where the death toll, as in the Freetown, Sierra Leone landslip that killed 1,300 people, can’t be ignored. Perhaps the shock news that extensive damage has been done to the Napa Valley vineyards might have played-in to the BBC news agenda?

Mostly, wildfires have been burning in more remote scenic areas; national forests, mountainous regions. They’re happening all over the world, of course; even in Greenland, but with greater intensity and frequency, over longer seasons, as the effect of Arctic warming has been to weaken the jetstreams, causing weather systems to slow or stall, ensuring that drought conditions hang around longer. And this year hasn’t quite yet set new records for acreage burned, or the number of reported outbreaks.

It’s at 3’45” in to the program, however, that you absolutely have to start watching, because that’s where Maddow turns her attention to the newly-released flood of reports on exactly what the Russians got up to during the 2016 election, and why it’s so important.

It appears that Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, was warned as long ago as July 2016 that Russian agents were busy buying advertising space on his platform; yet he appears to have done nothing about it. Facebook continued to vehemently deny the story until last month, when they reluctantly accepted that ‘Russian accounts’ were responsible for maybe ‘$100 thousand’ of revenue, a drop in the bucket. Twitter on the other hand is refusing to say anything.

Now we know, however, that the campaign was run across all the main platforms, Google being the latest to ‘fess up, and that natural cross-medialization between networks had a ‘firestorm’ effect, resulting in hundreds of millions of views on personal media accounts, micro-targeting anti-Hillary/Bernie propaganda ads and YouTube video clips at individuals, promoting ‘false-front’ organizations stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment and even organizing demonstrations. Much of this embarrassing stuff was quietly taken down by the major players and reporters have had difficulty getting access to it, but enough evidence remains to show the breathtaking extent of the Russian penetration.

The Russians were exploiting the entire rationale for these sites, that their revenue is derived not from ad sales, but from the capture, analysis and resale of personal data. By tapping into that process, they were able to create a wall-to-wall impression through ‘retweets’ and ‘Likes’ and fake accounts in personal media of a widespread opposition movement to the Clinton campaign that never really existed; even recruiting Nigerian filmmakers and actors to impersonate a pro-Trump groundswell among black Americans.

This all ties in to the second in a series of three hour-long BBC documentaries by the investigative reporter, Jacques Perretti, about the ‘billion-dollar deals’ underlying the construction of a new world order, which I strongly suggest if you haven’t seen it that you watch.

(Please join me in a petition to ask Jacques not to wear that godawful quarter-sleeved black T-shirt and grubby, skin-tight jeans in his interviews, often with important people. It’s demeaning, disrespectful – a thoroughly bad look – and the constant views of his hairy, gibbon-like arms and muscular buttocks, combined with his distressing shaving cuts are pretty offputting to people with delicate sensibilities. This is not what HD was invented for.)

Now, I’m going to be the first person to take the knee and say, hand on heart, I’m not entirely convinced that Trump and his campaign baboons need necessarily have been aware of the true extent of this conspiracy, or were even behind it. I think the Russians would have done this anyway, as an experiment and to show that they could.

Collect all the cards and win a Virgin Island… Veselnitskaya, Trump Jr and the gang (NBC News)

Frankly, much of the propaganda was pretty inept and the grammar a little wonky. I think it was just the start of a global campaign of disinformation causing disruption to Western liberal democratic institutions sponsored by the Kremlin and Russian intelligence, that was going on anyway; and the fact that they hooked into the Trump campaign – itself a massively disruptive force, with its backing from the nihilistic ‘alt-right’ Breitbart set – was mainly fortuitous.

Of course, the mini-moron Donald Trump Jr and his dad would have welcomed any support, and in their own little Trumpworld filter-bubble would have had little concern for the idea that they were participating in a subversive, anti-American plot. As far as Trump Sr was concerned he had Russian business contacts, Russian mafia backing for his failing developments, a longstanding ambition to do Trump hotel deals and build golf courses in Russia – he owed Russian banks $millions, the near-bankrupt Kushner needed in on the scam as well – why wouldn’t he accept a little help for his Presidential campaign from the Russians?

It was all part of the bigger deal, and with his experience of Russian politics, money-movement through offshore shell companies and his connections among the oligarchs, Manafort was the ideal guy to run the operation, which is why Trump had him drafted in at a late stage in the campaign, alongside Flynn, without realizing that his new manager was already under investigation for money-laundering and that Flynn’s firing by Obama had been a security issue involving breaches of the Logan Act (banning non-governmental agents from negotiating with foreign powers) and long-term failures by both men to register their lucrative lobbying businesses as foreign agents with Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian clients, as required by law.

The preponderance at the notorious Trump Tower, 9 June ‘Veselnitskaya’ meeting of both Russian and American specialists at hiding and moving ‘dark money’ suggests to the BogPo that this was the meeting at which Russian support for the election campaign was confirmed and accepted, and methods discussed of paying under-the-radar for the purchase of US media and influencers.

But I don’t think Trump would have been entirely apprised of the full extent of what the Russians were proposing, when they decided – possibly even at that meeting, or shortly before – to swing their wider campaign of disrupting Western democratic institutions and the neoliberal consensus behind his bid for the White House. This operation had all already been set up.

Nor do I imagine Mr Putin, or whoever is running the campaign for him, was entirely convinced he was backing the right horse; nevertheless, it was worth a try as he hated Clinton even more; and he already had the ‘kompromat’ on Trump (as per the Steele dossier), the leverage of his Russian debts; and enough on members of his team that might buy him, for instance, relief from sanctions.

Since – much to Putin’s discomfiture – Congress refused to lift sanctions, and barred Trump from acting unilaterally, you may notice a lot more dirt has been coming out in the wash, with daily better confirmation of the Steele dossier.

Tsk. When thieves fall out…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4SgPt4amnE

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b097rqr4/billion-dollar-deals-and-how-they-changed-your-world-series-1-2-money

x

“I may have been the only protestor there in gold brocade ‘loon pants’ and a very expensive roll-collar silk shirt by Mr Fish”

Is this really as bad as it gets?

In the Spring of 1968 I marched, twice, in a crowd of many thousands to Grosvenor Square, home of the US embassy in London, to protest the Vietnam war.

Until now I hadn’t the slightest idea why, it just seemed like the thing to do at the time. And as my flatmates were going I tagged along, managing to avoid the minor violence that generally accompanied protests in those days. Those, that is, not in Paris – or Prague, where the Soviet Union was cracking down brutally on Alexander Dubcek and his liberalization movement.

I may have been the only protestor there in gold brocade ‘loon pants’ and a very expensive roll-collar silk shirt by Mr Fish. I was 18, and a student at film school, with a part-time vacation job as a pool attendant in Chelsea. That July was the hottest I can remember, the temperature at night never seemed to fall much, and I was ardently pursuing a young lady who lived in a top-floor flat in a brownstone near Queen’s Park, that had access to the roof where we spent nights under the stars, glugging a fairly inexpensive wine by Charles Kinloch.

One of a number of iconic images that brought the futility and brutality of the war home to middle-America. (photo: CNN)

I say ‘until now’, because the horrible war was at the time so far away and beyond our experience, mediated through the press. British TV news was not showing the more difficult footage American audiences were getting night after night. The Wilson government probably wisely refused to get dragged into it, so that I never had to make those choices: to serve, probably as a conscript ; or become a conscientious objector, a draft resister without really knowing what the war was about and why anyone was fighting. It seemed only that America was the bully and that carpet-bombing Northern cities and neutral countries was an obscenity, Communists or not.

Up to half a million American GIs were dragged into it, and over 82 thousand died. Almost three million Vietnamese were killed, many of them South Vietnamese supposedly on the American side, in atrocities committed by friend and foe alike. Nevertheless, despite attritional losses and lack of airpower the North was able to chip away at the perceived colonialist presence and mount occasional costly spectaculars, such as the Tet offensive of 1968, that played badly in the neatly-kept homes of midtown USA as the flag-draped coffins kept coming back.

That vile war was to prove in the end an utter humiliation for the USA, for the ever-optimistic – and then, the over-optimistic President Lyndon Johnson and his Secretary of State, Robert McNamara, neither of whom was still in post by the end, as neither was General William Westmoreland, of whom it can be charitably said only that he probably did his duty to the Pentagon, but not to his men, ordered into ludicrous and suicidal missions time and again merely to save face, to aggrandize the all-important ‘body-count’ and to keep up the pretence of ultimate victory with the increasingly desperate inhabitants of the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, back home as the opposition to the war grew against a background of civil rights campaigns, the LSD-fuelled ‘summer of love’ turned to university occupations, police crackdowns, National Guard militia on the streets and the Detroit riots, that killed 46 people and spread across the nation in the wake of the assassination (almost certainly ordered by FBI Director Hoover) of Martin Luther King Jr; followed not long afterward by the shooting of the popular anti-war presidential candidate, Bobby Kennedy, supposedly over his support for Israel by a demented Jordanian, Sirhan Sirhan (now on his 15th parole application).

Looking at the USA now, despite the unbelievably rotten and chaotic administration, the profound corruption of the Washington ‘swamp’, of which Donald J Trump seems to be the ultimate patsy; the incompetence and nepotism, the absurdly childish tweeting and continual vainglorious boasting, the expressions of support for militant racists, the narcissistic infantilism of the President – a mid-size property speculator and ‘mock-tycoon’ reality TV show host with the brutal instincts of an old-time mobster and no political experience on the Hill, who can’t get his madder legislation passed, who refuses to take advice, knows the job is completely beyond him yet cannot resist fucking everything up, to the point where people are fearful he may kick-off a third World War; the old faultlines his presidency has been opening up in society, his contempt for racial minorities and the poor….

Despite all that, can we really say it’s as bad now as it was, back in 1968 – or anything like?

If you’re not certain, can’t remember or are just too young, Ken Burns’ triumphant documentary series, “Vietnam”, now running on the BBC, must be compulsory viewing. Don’t miss any of it, if you want to see how a global power can just implode under the weight of its own hubris and the incompetence of its leaders.

And then recover.

x

“Does President Kim need to bother jacking-up his nuclear arsenal, when the climate will take care of America for him?”

Granny Weatherwax says: Welcome to October

USA: Tropical Storm Nate brings major flooding, after “at least 30” dead in floods and landslides in Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador. Oil and gas production shut down as it barrels at 25 mph towards the US Gulf Coast as Cat 1/2 hurricane, pushing a 6ft storm surge. Misses New Orleans, floods Biloxi Ms. Later reported dispersing with heavy rain up the east coast into New York state, almost 1ft of rain falling in North Carolina.

Coffey Park suburb, Santa Rosa, after the wildfire. Does President Kim need to bother? (Twitter)

California: 17 people killed, over 100 injured, 150 still “missing”, 1,500 buildings including entire communities ‘destroyed’, 20 thousand evacuated as “tens of thousands of acres” including many vineyards affected by “at least 14” wildfires that broke out Sunday in the Napa Valley, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. National Weather Service has issued a warning for the San Francisco area that “any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly” as dry, windy conditions persist.

Does President Kim need to bother jacking-up his nuclear arsenal, when the climate will take care of America for him? And where was the lazy, fatuous oaf, Trump, while this was happening? Playing golf, naturally.

Up to 30-inches of snow falls on Montana – heaviest snowstorm “since 1914”. 10 thousand without power. Winter storm warnings for up to 1ft of snow around Denver, Colorado – meanwhile the Autumn heatwave continues over the southeastern states with temperatures up into the high 80s.

Germany: Storm Xavier brings strong winds, torrential rain, kills 7 in the far north of Germany. Storm surge floods Hamburg, Wilhelmshaven. 2 dead in neighboring Poland, 8 firefighters injured. Local severe weather alerts for ‘disruptive’ thunderstorms are in place for the whole of southern Italy, Oct 9/10. Autumn heatwave continues in Portugal, where more fires have broken out, this time in Pampilhosa da Sierra region.

Norway: Torrential rain causes severe flash-flooding and river overflow around Kristiansanhed. Much property damage.

China: new flooding, landslides and rain damage has been reported in the provinces of Anhui, Henan, Hubei, Chongqing, Sichuan and Shaanxi – 23 dead, 5,000 homes destroyed. Engineers warning of relief efforts at the Three Gorges dam causing more flooding downstream. Still raining.

India: More flooding affecting Assam state: the fourth wave of flooding since the Brahmaputra river overflowed on 02 June. 78 thousand people affected. 4 dead. Power failure as central Hyderabad underwater. 48 hours more rain forecast.

Indonesia: Pangandaran, West Java underwater after heavy rains. River overflows. 4 dead.

Vietnam: “Torrential rain brought by a tropical depression has caused landslides and floods (12 Oct), leaving 37 dead, 40 missing – 21 in Hoa Binh, many of them in landslide. Eleven people have also been reported missing in Yen Bai Province. 17,000 houses flooded, over 200 homes have collapsed. 20,000 acres of paddy fields destroyed and around 1,200 heads of cattle and over 30,000 poultry drowned.” (edited report)

Australia: Heavy rainfall on the 5th inundates Bundaberg, Queensland. Bureau of Meteorology sources, said “the Wide Bay city had received more than 340mm rain on Monday, breaking a 64-year record by more than 60mm”.

Brazil: San Bernardo del Campo, Sao Paolo – massive ice storm. Buildings brought down, streets turn to rivers of ice.

Mexico: Tropical Storm Ramon (not reported on Weather Underground?) brings new flash-flooding to Oaxaca and Tamaulipas provinces: Altamira and Tampico underwater, 2 dead, 18,000 evacuated. More ‘torrential’ storms forecast.

Argentina: powerful hailstorm batters Corrientes. Cars damaged.

South Africa: Huge storm, tornadoes strike Johannesburg on 9 Oct. 8 dead, many injuries, shopping mall trashed, 150 homes destroyed. Electricity substation knocked out, large areas without power. Hailstones literally the size of tennis-balls. In Durban, a powerful storm-cell raises hurricane-force winds with torrential rain bringing flash-floods to large parts of the city and environs. Coastal storm surge washes away cars; “autoggeddon” inland as busy roads become rivers under up to 5 ft of water. The storm moves on to Pietermaritzburg, where a man is swept away and drowned.

Atlantic: Out in mid-Atlantic and unlikely to threaten landfall other than possibly in the Azores, is a new Tropical Storm, Ophelia, that’s forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane. If and when it does, it will be the C19th-record-equalling tenth TS to become an Atlantic hurricane this year, with six weeks to go before the ‘end of the season’ (whatever that implies in this new record-setting year!).

Postscriptum: the UK Met Office is warning that Ophelia is on track to graze northern Portugal and Galicia in the next 48 hours and make direct landfall in southwest UK and southern Ireland as a Tropical Storm, Monday. Meanwhile, 11 Oct: “Heavy rain in northern England caused flooding and disruption in parts of Cumbria. The Environment Agency said that some areas recorded 211 mm of rain in 24 hours.”

Another system that developed to the SW of Ophelia has a 20% chance of deepening into a Tropical Depression before running into the Bahamas. If it strengthens over warmer water to a Tropical Storm it will be known as Philippe.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #71, #72 citing AP, Euronews, Ruptly, TOI, etc./ BBC News/ Floodlist/ 13News Now/ Weather Underground

On the slide… Rumbling Cumbre Vieja threatens US east coast with giant waves. (Hellocanaryislands.com)

End of the World News

Yellowstone update: “far from normal” M3.2 earthquake activity continuing outside the caldera in Idaho at Soda Springs and in Montana near Lincoln. The “swarm” that has been going on in the park since 12 June with up to 60 quakes a day and continuing harmonic tremors is officially the longest on record.

La Palma: The Cumbre Vieja ridge now swims back into the focus of millennarians as more than 40 tremors up to M2.7 have been recorded in the past 48 hours under the Canary Islands volcano, whose western flank is generally thought to be unstable. Earthquake swarms are said not to be very common there. A 5 km section is expected at some stage to fall into the Atlantic, causing a mega-tsunami that modelling suggests threatens the East Coast of the USA with a 120-foot wave penetrating up to 12 miles inland, also spreading up the African coast to reach western and even northern areas of Europe, with up to 35 ft waves hitting the south coast of the UK.

BBC Science & Nature website has this: “Don’t worry, it’s not going to happen tomorrow… scientists are predicting … the collapse is likely to happen any time within the next few thousand years. Scientists also know that a collapse will not happen without any warning. They will be able to alert people to possible danger several weeks in advance.” Which is all very well, except there is virtually no monitoring going on at Cumbre Vieja and the collapse, it is estimated, will take just 90 seconds, giving the US 5 hours’ warning.

Also, “scientists” are NOT able to predict volcanic eruptions with any degree of certainty, as is shown by events in Indonesia. A general alert was issued in relation to Mount Agung on Bali a fortnight ago, and 110 thousand people evacuated. But while the ominous rumblings go on, not a lot else seems to have been happening.  “Mount Agung was hit by 73 shallow earthquakes, 135 deep volcanic quakes and nine local tremors between midnight and 6am local time today. Thick white smoke was observed rising about 200m above Mount Agung’s crater, according to Bali’s Geological Agency.” When or if the sacred mountain will blow, however, no-one seems able to say.

You have been warned!

Mary Greeley/ USGS/ BBC Science & Nature/ Express.co.uk

The Pumpkin – Issue 33: Guns – the tired old debate cranks up again… ‘A 64-year-old retired accountant’… Is he a terrorist?… ‘Let them eat towels’…. Granny W. : Your windswept old gal in a bus shelter

Now that’s all blown over I’m asking Greg Norman to build Puerto Rico the bigliest new beautiful golf course! (Photo montage: waragainstallpuertoricans.com)

 

“It scarcely helps that the President himself utters bloodcurdling threats of mass violence…”

Guns – the tired old debate cranks up again

As the President who mysteriously switched in a heartbeat last year from being pro-gun control to being pro-gun, and was then elected to office, mouthed the stiff platitudes copywritten for him by an aide, offering ‘warm condolences’ to the families of the victims as if their elderly Labradors had passed away in their sleep, and promised by omission to do absolutely nothing to upset the gun lobby, a performance repeated on a semi-monthly basis, the tired old debate about guns and Americans was cranking up yet again.

There have been only two days in the last twelve months when there has not been a ‘mass shooting’ incident (defined as four-plus dead) in the USA, yet the rustic dumbfucks and Republican shills for the arms industry go on defending their ‘right’ to buy and bear arms, and to blow people away if need be, defending themselves against other idiots with guns; while the urban liberals and Democrats go on pleading for ‘something’ to be done, even though they know it’s hopeless and that nothing now will make a difference, short of wholesale disarmament.

The face of America today: mild-mannered accountants on vacation.

It scarcely helps that the President himself utters bloodcurdling threats of mass violence against individuals and indeed, whole civilian populations; encourages his supporters in violent acts, refuses to condemn white nationalist outrages and refers to his vast military arsenal as ‘great big, beautiful weapons’. The man is obviously unhinged, we have all known it for many months, many alarmed psychiatrists agree, but there he still squats, like a smug orange toad on your democracy.

With 300 million guns in the hands of 150 million American owners, the horse has already bolted and no amount of heaving at the stable door is going to prevent the next act of self-declamatory public mass-murder, in a country where over 30 thousand people are killed each year, and God knows how many tens of thousands wounded, in shooting incidents; and where so many well-armed people feel unnoticed, disenfranchised and unrewarded by life in that competitive, acquisitive, dog-eat-dog society, where a gun feels and smells like power.

The Second Amendment does not in fact guarantee the absolute right of every American to buy, own and carry down the street, to school or a movie, a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle capable of mildly illegal modification with a mail-order device costing $99 to fire repeated rounds automatically, let alone a .32 calibre Saturday-night Special, an Abrams tank or a rocket grenade-launcher.

While the right to own a firearm at all was not in contest, in 2008 the District of Columbia lost its argument in the Supreme Court that it might in general prevent a certain Mr Heller owning a gun regardless of whether or not he belonged to a militia, which was ruled not to be an actual condition despite the clear wording of the Amendment. Nevertheless, special laws restricting gun ownership were held to be permissible, in the famous 5-4 majority ruling by Judge Anthony Scalia:

“The Court stated that the right to keep and bear arms is subject to regulation, such as concealed weapons prohibitions, limits on the rights of felons and the mentally ill, laws forbidding the carrying of weapons in certain locations, laws imposing conditions on commercial sales, and prohibitions on the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. It stated that this was not an exhaustive list of the regulatory measures that would be presumptively permissible under the Second Amendment.” (Library of Congress)

The apologists for and defendants of the National Rifle Association, which stubbornly represents the hugely profitable interests of the arms manufacturers and dealers and stuffs the mouths of corrupt politicians with blood-money, have never seemingly accepted that, unlike, for instance, owning a swimming-pool, gun ownership should be subject to any form of control; and unfortunately, the Scalia ruling was amended by a minority judgement to allow individual States to go on making their own rules, so that in some recent perverse court judgements neither the mentally ill, nor previously convicted criminals, can be deprived of the right to carry a gun openly in the street.

The laws in Nevada are notoriously lax, although in this case the man purchasing the guns was, says the dealer, subject to standard FBI checks. Thus, ’64-year-old retired accountant’ Stephen Paddock, a man with no prior convictions, who owned two private aeroplanes and a large collection of weapons no-one close to him seems to have known he even had, was able perfectly legally to carry ten suitcases full of rifles and ammunition to the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel, from where after a week in residence (it’s usually a week) he poured down fire indiscriminately onto a crowd of concertgoers, killing (thus far) 59 and wounding 530 others, before taking his own strangely quiet life.

Police are, say the media, at a loss to understand why he did it. There was absolutely no indication: no note, nothing on social media where he seems to have had no presence, no ‘manifesto’, no neighbourly or family suspicions.

He was white, middle-aged, a non-Muslim. He had plenty of money, a girlfriend, a home. He was a major shareholder in a Dallas condominium, from which he derived rental income. He gambled regularly for high stakes; it does appear that prior to his breakdown he had been gambling up to 20 thousand dollars a day, but was not especially known to have big losses. Was that recklessness with his money a sign of impending chaos, an empty gesture, a deliberate throwing away of everything he had gained, but not his self-regard?

Madness in his eyes: Alex Jones of InfoWars. (photo: Arstechnica.com)

Nor was he known to have particularly strong views on politics, race or religion (ISIS has of course claimed ownership of the incident, but no-one is believing them.) Nor was he suspected of any mental illness, although the alt-right agitprop websites and 4chan trolls are trying to claim without a shred of evidence that he was a fanatical liberal lefty anti-Trump protester and a member of Antifa, the anti-fascist pressure group. Alex Jones, a man with such madness burning in his eyes you instinctively want to sedate him, is using his InfoWars site (as approved by President Trump) to blame the Washington Deep State and their Islamic allies; while The Deplorables Army, a Trump dumbfucks’ website, has already established beyond doubt that Hillary Clinton was behind it.

The Pumpkin has no problem in believing, for want of any other explanation, that Stephen Paddock was, if you like, the ultimate expression of the American way of life: a moderately successful but perhaps secretly disappointed man who had reached retirement age and saw ahead only a future of Bingo games and bridge rubbers with elderly divorcees at his dreary suburban retirement park. A private and introverted individual by all accounts, he perhaps saw in the secret stashing-away of an arsenal of lethal weapons, the power and control he lacked over the enviable or detestable lives of others. The degree of detailed control over his lethal operations, including the placing of webcams in the hotel to check on the arrival of the police, is especially chilling.

Had he possibly had a fatal diagnosis, of Alzheimer’s or cancer, perhaps? And decided in his introverted fashion, Pharaoh-like, to take as many others with him as he could – especially young people, whose unfinished lives he must have resented? Was there possibly some mental defect buried in the family history? The Paddocks’ father had at one time robbed banks and was hunted down (briefly, as an escaped fugitive from gaol, America’s Most Wanted) and arrested by the FBI, and diagnosed as a ‘psychopath’ with ‘suicidal tendencies’ – so why wouldn’t one of his three sons have inherited the same condition?

Or maybe he just didn’t like country music, who knows. Perhaps we shall never know.

The words ‘a 64-year-old retired accountant’ probably say it all.

 

Postscriptum: A US report says the average charge to the victim for being admitted by ambulance to a hospital emergency care ward with a gunshot wound is $96 thousand, not including the longterm rehabilitation and therapy that most gunshot victims need.

It is, in short, probably better if you live in America that you should be killed outright than spend your life in pain and debt over something that wasn’t your fault. (And let’s not forget the insane attempts by Trump to take away health insurance cover from 32 million Americans, just because it’s being administered under an Obama program.)

 

Is he a terrorist?

The Guardian reports that the FBI defines terrorism thus:

 “…an intent to “intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”.

So, is Donald John Trump a terrorist?

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Mr. Trump told reporters in remarks aired on television and broadcast around the globe. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” – The Telegraph

“When a reporter asked the president about his threatening “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said “maybe it wasn’t tough enough.” Followed by “maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough” and “if anything, that statement may not be tough enough.”- New York Times

“The US has great strength and patience,” Trump said. But he added: “If it is forced to defend ourselves or our allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. … Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” – The Guardian

“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” – @realdonaldtrump tweet, 

Well, so’s the other guy:

“In an unprecedented statement on Friday, Mr Kim described Mr Trump as a ‘mentally deranged dotard’ whom he would tame with fire.

He said North Korea would consider the ‘highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history’ against the United States and that Mr Trump’s comments had confirmed his nuclear programme was ‘the correct path'”. – The Telegraph

If you or I did this stuff, we’d be pulled in for questioning. Who put these two self-obsessed, power-drunk playground bullies, with their tiny genitals and abusive fathers, in charge of the store?

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“Now we just shrug and ask, what do we expect?”

Let them eat towels

Trump reminds me of the famous stunt rider, Evel Knievel. He’s constantly trying to raise the bar on his own stupidity, steadily increasing the number of buses he needs to jump his motorcycle over before he breaks his fat orange neck in the full glare of publicity.

The Commander-in-Chief mops up the mess in Puerto Rico (Businessinsider.com)

Two weeks after the event, here was Trump finally making landfall in remote Puerto Rico on a carefully managed four-hour mercy tour of selected safe parts of the island in which he saw almost none of the devastation and met none of the hardest-hit victims in the hinterland, to explain why they still have no water or electricity, functioning transportation, roads, food and medical care, or even a roof over their heads, as the known number of dead climbs from 16 to 34.

The images of Trump, a big man, towering over a hangar-full of simpering media folk and handpicked, scrubbed-up local Republicans, chucking packs of paper towels at them as if they were monkeys in a zoo, grinning and constantly praising himself for his ‘A-plus’ efforts at spending Federal funds on what even his leading Army general on the ground is complaining is the utterly inadequate response to the double-hurricane disaster, comparing it airily with Hurricane Katrina, which was handled far worse and caused lots more brown people to die, were just repellent.

And at the press conference he continued to blame the lazy victims for not doing enough to help themselves, and to whine about the criticism of his administration, and the cost of the clear-up, and the unfairness of blaming him, and how great everyone said he was doing. Where were the local truck drivers? He demanded to know, why weren’t they distributing the masses of aid piling up on the dockside? Meanwhile, the Mayor of San Juan, who had been wading around in waist-high water for days overseeing rescue and recovery, was muzzled and sidelined and abused as a ‘poor leader’ for daring to criticize a man – a moronic sack of shit, depending on your viewpoint –  who has clearly confused himself with the United States of America – a rapidly disintegrating empire on the far edge of nowhere.

Six months ago it would have been shocking to see the President of the United States behaving like that. Now we just shrug and ask, what do we expect? The coverage prompted at least one contributor on MSNBC to voice what we’re all feeling: we’re sick and tired of hearing and watching this horror show, this malevolent oaf doing mindless, clumsy, brutally incompetent stuff like this every damn day.

Coming on top of his insincere speechwritten response to the Las Vegas massacre, the nauseating religiosity, the ‘warm condolences’, the brushing aside of concerns over the lack of legal gun controls that might have mitigated the horror of Paddock’s elaborately staged suicide, how can there any longer be any rational argument for Republicans allowing him to remain in office a minute longer?

Or is it just that he makes them look good?

“…the majority of people in Puerto Rico remain without clean water, the electricity grid is inoperable, cell towers are down, roads are impassable, food is rotting, and many of the elderly and the sick have been left without care. All of this is happening in America, rather than some place distant from this country. But instead of emphasizing that closeness, or a sense of mutual obligation, Trump has, so far, focussed on how different Puerto Rico is, and what its people owe him, which is, above all, their gratitude.” – Amy Davidson Sorkin, the New Yorker 27 September

This bizarre, solipsistic figure, for whom the only external reality is Donald J Trump, actually tweeted when he thought about it three days after the event, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which hit the island as a Category 4 superstorm and killed actual people, that Puerto Rico owes a lot of money and they should pay back Wall Street for keeping them going.

Like he should pay back all the foreign banks he has stiffed for $billions in his rotten career, maybe?

Ah said oops upside yo head…

This Coke-and junkfood-bloated non-dirigible, whose hapless advisers plead they cannot advise him because he simply does not listen, and becomes angry whenever he thinks anyone is telling him how to do the job, so they just hover in the background and try to keep him on an even keel and hope he doesn’t call for the nuclear football when no-one is around to put a bullet in his head, is not merely mishandling the crisis on Puerto Rico. Oh, no.

He’s not just being a bit slow and incompetent, or like W Bush, a bit thoughtless and useless. No.

Look, you saw how quickly he reacted, how positive he was when it was Houston on the receiving end of climate change, and Port Arthur – the hub of the US-owned global energy bidness. Hell no.

With Puerto Rico, an island populated by spics, probably rapists, and losers, Trump is actively trying to prevent three and a half million desperate American citizens from getting the additional help they need, instead bloviating pompously at the visiting Spanish Prime Minister, Mr Rajoy, about how the governor of Puerto Rico praised him for the great, wonderful efforts he has made on their behalf; how grateful the Puerto Rican people are to him, while the governor is in fact on his knees begging for more help as FEMA and the National Guard struggle on, strapped for resources and without a plan, to try to deliver food and water to the remotest parts of the stricken island.

It cannot have escaped his notice that Mr Rajoy shares a cultural heritage with the majority of Hispanic Americans on the devastated island, which he referred to as being ‘in the middle of a big, a very big ocean’, like Neville Chamberlain refusing to go to the aid of Czechoslovakia when the Nazis annexed the Sudetenland: ‘It is a far-off country, of which we know little’.

The American people are, we know, outstandingly insular: a recent poll showed that about half do not know that Puerto Rico is US territory and the people who live there hold American citizenship.

Mr Trump indeed knows little. In fact he knows fuck-all, and cares even less. A moral imbecile, he is not fit to be a toilet attendant, let alone president of anywhere real.

But until he gets his bestial tax reforms through, giving $5 trillions away to his wealthy pals and their corporations, beggaring the rest; and until he can destroy Obamacare, the only lifeline offered to millions trapped in a rapacious business culture of privatized medicine, and replace it with something much, much cheaper so he can pay for the tax ‘reforms’ and the obscene, pointless, bloated military budget, he is going to behave meanly, moodily and miserably, holding three and a half million Puerto Rican lives against the recalcitrance of a tiny handful of Republican senators who, successfully completing the Captcha test to prove they are actual humans, refuse to go along with the utter shit that drivels from his twisted, angry little mole-rat mouth.

And meanwhile, he diverts attention from these gangsterish behaviors by mounting an all-out assault, uttering insults and threats against a football player who refuses to stand for the national anthem until someone in authority stops America’s out-of-control, racist police from shooting unarmed black people for no good reason. That won’t be Trump, for whom police brutality is a given. And is trying to bully the poor millionaires who own the NFL clubs into sacking any player, any ‘sonofabitch’ who doesn’t ‘respect the anthem, respect America’ – by which of course he means, respect the 45th President Donald J Trump, a grotesque liar and moron wrapped in a flag.

Postscriptum:

And this morning, we hear of the welcome ‘resignation’ of the totally unqualified Health Secretary, Tom Price. Mr Price has attracted widespread criticism for spending half a million dollars chartering private planes to get himself and his wife about on holidays and shopping trips, and charging them to the taxpayer. It has been mooted that Orange Satan was not unhappy to see him go as he is so closely linked with the repeated failure of Trump’s frenzied attempts to kill off Obamacare and replace it with lots of dead poor people.

It’s rumored that a number of other White House appointments are in the doghouse over similar profiteering while in office. They include spokesmouth Skellytanne Conway and the profoundly corrupt Environment director, Scott Pruitt.

We can therefore look forward to the immediate resignation of President Trump, who since taking office in January has blown well north of a billion dollars of other people’s money on private golfing holidays and extra security for his family and buildings while on holiday, and on hiring squadrons of expensive but curiously inept private lawyers to defend himself against anticipated charges any day now (ha!) of racketeering, money-laundering, tax-dodging, sanctions-busting, breaches of the Foreign Emoluments clause, the Logan Acts; treason and obstruction of justice. Unfortunately there’s no law against being merely one of the most unpleasant people ever to occupy the White House, if not the planet.

Can’t we?

https://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson-sorkin/the-distance-between-donald-trump-and-puerto-rico?mbid=nl_Daily092717&CNDID=49581041&spMailingID=12020149&spUserID=MTkwODY5NzgyMTM0S0&spJobID=1242357721&spReportId=MTI0MjM1NzcyMQS2

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Granny W. : Your windswept old gal in a bus shelter

Atlantic: going back to 1851, says Weather Underground, September set a record for the most amount of accumulated cyclone energy in any month—175 (175 what? Ed.), beating out 155 from September 1926—according to Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University.

  • Number of named-storm days:  53.25 (old record 52.25, Sept. 2004)
  • Number of hurricane days:  40.25 (old record 34.50, Sept. 2006)
  • Number of major hurricane days:  18 (old record 17.25, Sept. 1961) (Wunderground, 04 October)

USA: Weather Underground today further carries research showing 41 out of 60 US cities have experienced their warmest years and many their hottest days on record during the past six years, with an average annual increase since 1985 of 1.2 deg. C. The average between 1895 and 1985 increased by just 0.9 deg. C. indicating rapid acceleration of warming. No US city has recorded its coldest-ever year during the past six years. San Francisco this year set a new record on 1 September of 41 deg. C. (106 deg. F.). The average temperature in Houston is 5 deg. C. warmer than in 1895.

“…we have 41 out of all 60 cities with a 6-year average that is at least 1°F above the prior 30-year average. Likewise, it would be expected for a few cities to have their warmest or coldest year in a six-year period—but it is startling to see 41 of 60 cities having their warmest year, and none of the 60 cities having their coldest year, from 2011 to 2016. Given the very warm year now under way, there appears to be no end in sight to the U.S. heat of the 2010s.” – Christopher C Burt, Climate Historian

Wildfires: The US Interagency Fire Center reports that 2017 to date isn’t the worst year on record, with just over 50 thousand fires reported as against 71 thousand in 2009; and 8.4 million acres burned as against 9 million in 2015. In California, almost 3 thousand acres of the Sequoia National Forest is burning with so-far zero containment. In Oregon, 191 thousand acres of the Siskiyou National Forest has been burned but is 98% contained.

Global warming: Warming soils are releasing more carbon into the atmosphere through more intense bacterial breeding cycles than previously thought, suggesting a potentially disastrous feedback mechanism. “Each year, mostly from fossil fuel burning, we are releasing about 10bn metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere. The world’s soils contain about 3,500bn tons of carbon. … Once this self-reinforcing feedback begins, there is no easy way to turn it off. There is no switch to flip.” – Report of long-term experimental study published this week in Science magazine by the US Marine Biological Laboratory and others.

And on it goes…

USA: Tropical Storm Nate currently organizing itself in the Gulf after causing 22 deaths in Central America. Forecast track could take it due north strengthening Cat 1 to Louisiana around New Orleans after picking up more energy and water over the 29 deg. C. Gulf.

“…heavy rains, landslides and floods blocking roads, destroying bridges and damaging houses. In Costa Rica, nearly 400,000 people are without running water and thousands are sleeping in shelters. At least eight people have died in the storm there, while another 11 were killed when it moved north and reached Nicaragua, where as much as 15ins (38cm) of rain had been predicted to fall by the US’s National Hurricane Center. Three people have been killed in Honduras, including two youths who drowned in a river, and several are reported missing.”

Mexico: “Flooding has affected 18,000 people in the state of Tamaulipas. Local media report that at least 2 people have died. Areas of the state recorded heavy rainfall between 26 and 29 September. The Corona river overflowed. Further intense rainfall was recorded in the state on 01 October, with 245 mm of rain falling in Altamira. Further warnings for severe storms.”

Australia: “Torrential rain and strong winds in the city of Bundaberg in Queensland have caused flash flooding and left over 4,000 homes without power. Bundaberg recorded 319mm of rain in 24 hours between 02 and 03 October, according to Bureau of Meteorology figures. Over 100mm of the rain fell in 2 hours between 13:00 and 15:00 on 02 October.”

A current record early Spring heatwave affecting New South Wales reveals numerous precedents in the past six years, with records continually tumbling. This winter saw the highest average daytime temperatures on record. It was also the driest in 15 years:

“Even if the Paris agreement to limit the global temperature rise to below 2°C is met, summer heatwaves in major Australian cities are likely to reach highs of 50°C by 2040, a study published on Wednesday warns.”

Canada: “With more than 100 wildfires still burning, 2017 is officially the worst fire season on record. Nearly 12,000 km2 of land burned this year, 3,000 km2 more than in 1958, the previous record holder. Approximately 65,000 people were evacuated from their homes, and firefighting efforts have cost the province $510 million.” (British Columbia)

Scotland: 70 mph winds caused problems for commuters and truckers on Monday in the first of the year’s Atlantic lows, snapping-off the flagpole of Edinburgh’s castle.

Wunderground/ Floodlist/ Blogsafe.com/ GoGreen.com/ BBC/ 13News Now

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Bound straight for Hell

If any further evidence is needed of the insanity of the drooling amoebas who buy guns in the USA for no purpose other than to imagine they actually have functioning penises, comes news that the $99 modifying device called a ‘bump stock’ designed to turn a legal semi-automatic weapon into an illegal one that can empty a magazine with a single pull of the trigger has sold out in the wake of the slaughter in Las Vegas.

Even the despicable NRA has called for a ban, but used ones are selling at twice the catalog price, never mind that the thing renders the gun practically useless if you want to hit anything smaller than the White House and it’s far more likely to jam because the gun wasn’t designed for rapid-fire. But hey, it worked good on them country fans.

I shall be writing to Mr Kim Jong-un to ask him please to obliterate the American midwest, where most of these molluscs lurk, now, by the simple expedient of nuking Yellowstone.

By Christ, you’re hard to love.

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