Son of Novichok… The last human?… An aviation mystery… GW: Upstairs in the attic, blowin’ up me rubber ring…

Polling finds that “20 percent of Americans would deny Muslims who are American citizens the right to vote.” While 68 percent of Republican voters support separate internment for the children of migrants at the border. – Washington Post report.

 

“And afterwards we can sign a non-disclosure agreement…” (photo: knowyourmeme.com)

 

“You’d have to invoke quantum theory to explain it.”

Son of Novichok

A couple living in Amesbury, Wiltshire (eight miles from Salisbury, scene of the nerve agent attack on Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia last March), Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, were taken to hospital on Saturday night, unconscious, with a mystery illness at first assumed to be a drug overdose.

“The police and government … said they were keeping an open mind…. By the end of the evening, the police announced the tests showed it was Novichok, a type of nerve agent originally developed in Russia.” – BBC News

Someone had recognized the symptoms from the last incident. As it just happened to be the same hospital that saved the lives, just about, of the Skripals. And just up the road, boffins at the chemical weapons research establishment were instantly able to confirm the samples were indeed Novichok.

Lucky, or what? I mean, it could have happened anywhere. And again, none of the unprotected first responders appears to have been affected, even though they did not immediately know they were dealing with a deadly contaminant engineered to kill on contact.

What are the odds, eh?

England getting to the quarter-finals of the World Cup; a minister lying in the House about a deeply pessimistic report of the disastrous Government attempts to iron-flat the social security system; a Prime Minister floundering as Brexit bully-boys in her cabinet send her ultimatums to wreck the economy; a drama involving an entire youth football team trapped in a cave complex in Thailand have left this astonishing story somewhere down the running order, but by tomorrow it will be number one, and rightly so.

Just what the hell is going on? As Mr Trump might ask.

No-one has any idea, and what remains of the government is clearly panicking; while the police advice to the frightened people of Amesbury? “Wash your clothes. Don’t pick anything up unless you know what it is.” Very helpful, I’m sure. What does “anything” mean? What does this stuff look like? It’s a secret!

Then there’s the media. The BBC’s security correspondent, Gordon Carrera, is also floundering. His unlikely explanation: “Perhaps this is some of the Novichok prepared for the attack (in March) and discarded – maybe somewhere like a park, a house – and maybe these two came across it.”

Perhaps. Maybe. Just what you want from a security expert.

Look. Forty-something couples living in agreeably sleepy country towns, people called Dawn and Charlie, can’t automatically be assumed to be involved in post-Soviet era skulduggery.

But might they be?

Murders in Midsomer generally involve shotguns, quarrels about overgrown Leylandii hedges, adultery – or hitmen from The Smoke whacking crime barons’ retired business rivals. They don’t include deadly compound nerve agents and GRU goons acting on a nod from Putin.

Apart from the weapon of choice, and the proximate locations of Salisbury, Amesbury and the grim facility of the Porton Down biological warfare establishment, it might seem nothing would link the two murder attempts – assuming they were murder attempts, and not accidental own-goals.

The initial response of the Russians to hot accusals from Mrs May in the wake of the Skripal incident was, as usual, to argue that it was only the West trying to discredit Putin prior to his re-election in May. Or, to divert attention from her problems over Brexit. Or it was MI6 tidying-up one of its own double-agents who’d gone rogue.

The obvious reason then for attacking innocent villagers apparently at random would be for Russian agents to exonerate the Russians: “there’s an epidemic of Novichok in your country, comradeski; it’s not ours, it must have escaped from Porton Down, and been left carelessly where anyone can find it; why, would you think we would deliberately target a former double-agent living peacefully in retirement in the heartland of the British defense industry?” And so on.

So, a diversionary tactic to cover-up for the first attack. Really?

The BogPo will return to this diverting spy story as soon as we learn more – if we ever do. The key, we suspect, will lie in the occupations of the two victims and what relationship they have with Porton Down, or with the security establishment; a key that has tantalizingly not yet been turned after four months. We are being told absolutely nothing.

Because the sheer impossibility of the story is that this poisoning could have been accidental. If the attack on this couple was accidental, then so must have been the attack on the Skripals – and therefore not an attack at all. What are the odds against two innocent couples being accidentally poisoned eight miles and four months apart by the same Soviet-era military nerve agent no-one wanted to admit still exists?

You’d have to invoke quantum theory to explain it.

For now, it seems highly unlikely that Dawn and Charlie are just collateral damage from the previous incident. They have to be connected. Novichok has, we learned at the time, a half-life: its effectiveness decays. March was a long time ago for this stuff to have hung around. Why Amesbury? And why now?

And, what, the would-be assassin just happened to throw a bag of it away, where four months later, Dawn and Charlie, out gathering magic mushrooms in the forest, managed to find it and smear themselves with it? It’s a compound substance, the individual chemicals are non-toxic. You have to blend them to make it active. Or so we are told.

The extent of their involvement may never come out, but involved in the Skripal affair they most certainly must have been somehow.

The probability of a second Russian attack in the UK using a banned military-grade substance, right in the middle of the feelgood World Cup football tournament in Russia, after the global furore caused by the last one, is vanishingly small, although it will be blamed on them. Is that what they are relying on? The sheer implausibility of this awful thing happening twice?

There are no coincidences in the world of espionage.*

*So, poor Dawn died, “Theresa May said on Thursday that Salisbury and the wider area remained “very much open for business”. – Guardian – She’s definitely losing it.

While Charlie regained consciousness and apparently told police they found the novichok in a perfume bottle. A few days later the police announced they had identified a number of Russian suspects.

 

Sometimes there’s an air of ‘fin du monde’ about a sunset over a housing estate on the west coast. (Photo: The BogPo)

Nature Notes

“…one could almost be the last human on earth. Someone has to be.”

The last human?

Hunzi and I take our daily constitutional along the cycle path through the exurban space that passes for our local park, round the small, tangled wood beside the town sewage works and back. It is, as I have noted before, a space far from the nearest poisoned farmland, compartmentalized into many enticing habitats:

  • A clear, pebbly-bottomed stream, once long ago teeming with salmon and sea-trout, now shrunk in the unaccustomed weeks of sunshine (thanks to a blocking high-pressure area out in the Atlantic) to less than half of its normally quite respectable girth;
  • its murmuring, tree-lined banks, mainly willow and alder, where hopeful signage tells us voles are being protected. I’ve never seen one, only a kingfisher once, ducks, and a couple of times a heron; plenty of feral cats, though;
  • open areas of heath-like quality, infested with gorse and broom; shoulder-high thickets of brambles;
  • an impenetrable forest of spiny sloe-trees (Prunus spinosa) planted by Post Office workers in honor of a colleague long deceased;
  • marshy areas, temporarily bone-dry, supporting patches of reed-grass, bullrushes and goat-willow;
  • hanger woods creeping up hillsides crowned with open sheep-pasture;
  • succession woodland on the valley floor pockmarked with overgrown, ancient flood-traps, where bluebells in the early spring radiate their ultraviolet glow amid discarded bag-waste and the detritus of winter floods;
  • an arboretum, mostly birch, their trunks crazed with some virus that is causing great black galls and cracks in the silvery bark, filled with a powdery orange mildew;
  • two railway embankments (one a narrow-gauge line with a Puffing Billy steam locomotive, for tourists), warrened by rabbits;
  • a half-acre wildflower meadow rapidly filling with new bracken, so late in the season; its tall grasses drying brown in the heat;
  • a private cricket ground, scorched and brown; the university playing fields, newly shorn of their riot of buttercups; the sewage works popular with shit-hunting gulls, before you come upon the industrial estate and community recycling facility….
  • some ribbon development visible through the trees, halfway up the valley sides;
  • a nearby, thundering main road, beside which Hunzi, Katz and I have been condemned by my Committee of Discarnate Entities and the immutable Karmic laws of the Universe to live, surrounded by shouty people with power tools.

We walk through all of the above for about 40 minutes as usual, listening for the loud explosions of the seed cases of the gorse in the sunshine. It is late June, 24 degrees with a faint sea-breeze hardly troubling the topmost leaves and – albeit half-blind in one eye, and through sunglasses – over the course of two miles I observe the following tally of wildlife:

  • 1 meadow brown butterfly.
  • 1 moth, gray, of undetermined species.
  • 2 worker bees, foraging among the bramble blossoms.
  • Possibly 2 or 3 other bees on the wing, not pausing long enough to be identified.
  • 2 grasshoppers, heard not seen.
  • About a dozen flies, some trying halfheartedly to be annoying.
  • 1 blackbird, ground-feeding.
  • 2 corvids – I never know, are they jackdaws?
  • 1 pigeon, stupefied upon a wire.
  • In the far distance across the rooftops along the side of the valley, four or five gulls.

Otherwise all is still, silent apart from some desultory midday birdsong and the distant rumble of traffic. Around us, in the overgrown verges, the woodlands and the meadows, amid the ridiculous profusion of early summer verdure, that ambushed us only three or four weeks ago, is an ominous shortage of invertebrate life.

On this stunning day, blue sky smeary with the jet-trails* that tragic American halfwits are constantly posting they believe are proof of a conspiracy between NASA and the Pentagon to control the world’s weather, a conspiracy that must have involved tens of thousands of aero-engineers, maintenance crews and airline executives from a hundred countries for over 60 years without anybody saying anything, on this, the flattest of flat earths (bounded, presumably, by the Ohio state line), we appear to be facing extinction.

Not that there is anyone much around to notice: a postal worker on his way to work – we acknowledge one another with a cheery grunt almost every day, whom I have never seen wearing long trousers, a man in his 50s – and a solitary cyclist, a person I don’t recognize, a visitor helpfully dressed for identification purposes, unmistakably as a cyclist.

The welcome disappearance, after a busy weekend, of waddling, multiply tattooed  harridans, their snarling pitbulls and even more obese daughters pushing prams with one hand while keeping up intense monologues on their cellphones with the other; the lack of joggers dispelling clouds of Lynx in their wake, the dearth of silly grownups on roller-skates and skateboards are welcome reminders that one could almost be the last human on earth.

Someone has to be.

It might not be too bad.

 

An aviation mystery

* Jet trails, hmmmn. You know what? They’ve stopped!

The usual messy sky over the valley. (Photo: the BogPo)

Here just outside Boglington I walk Hunzi for two hours every day around the valley, observing with mild trepidation that we seem to be directly under a busy flight path for commercial airliners heading out to sea en masse, up to 20 at a time.

The sky is usually, as I have written, criss-crossed with vapor from their engines, spreading out and creating a high-level haze of stratus cloud over the valley.

And since the weekend, at least – it takes time to register these things – they’ve pretty much completely stopped. Disappeared off the radar, as it were.

I’ve spotted only three, maybe four, in the past week; two of those way off in the distance; and last evening at sunset I heard a solitary airliner cruising overhead, but could see nothing in the clear blue sky.yh

The weather here has been most unusually dry, hot and sunny for weeks, and we have even had our very own wildfire – it burned for four days and there were helicopters and everything, dumping water, but it didn’t make the national news.

Otherwise, nothing. I point out the empty sky to a few other dog walkers I judge capable of independent thought, and they look mildly surprised and say, oh yes, you’re right! We hadn’t noticed. (That’s Boglingtonians for you, they never notice a thing until you point it out to them.)

But nobody has an explanation.

It’s another mystery to be cleared up in the fullness of time.

 

GW: Upstairs in the attic, a’ blowin’ up me rubber ring

Canada: “6 more people have died in Montreal’s heatwave, bringing to 12 the city’s total death toll from the extreme weather conditions that have gripped central and eastern Canada, health officials said on Wednesday.” (Guardian). Emergency services have received over 1200 calls as temperatures have lingered for days in the mid-30s C, 90s F. Another 5 possibly related deaths were recorded in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

India: 16 people died as a result of severe weather in Maharashtra, many in lightning strikes, between 22 and 24 June. Santa Cruz observatory in Mumbai recorded 231.4 mm rain in 24 hours. Since 29 May, over 1 million people have been affected by heavy monsoon rains and severe flooding in the north-eastern states. As of 25 June, the number of deaths stands at 239.

“At least 3 people died in Jammu and Kashmir, northern India, after days of heavy rainfall. Authorities suspended the famous Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage due to threat of floods and landslides.””Floods and landslides caused by heavy rainfall since 01 July, 2018, have claimed 12 lives in Nepal, with a further 6 injured and 3 still missing.”

Vietnam: floods and landslides triggered by recent heavy rain in northern areas of the country have killed at least 7 people and destroyed almost 50 houses. Nam Giang in Lai Chau province recorded 386 mm (14 in.) of rain in 24 hours to 24 June.

Myanmar: At least 30 people have died in floods and landslides in Myanmar since early June when this year’s monsoon rains began. 6 people were killed in a landslide that buried a staff quarters in Kachin state on 22 June and 5 more in flooding elsewhere. Record rainfall fell in Mon State on 17 June. Rakhine state and Magway Region were severely affected by flooding and landslides in early June.

Darfur: torrential rains on 21 June destroyed 430 houses in six displaced persons’ (internal refugee) camps in Zalingei, Central Darfur. High winds accompanied rain that lasted all night. Large numbers of families are now living in the open after the rain destroyed their houses and they lost what little they owned.

Ghana: “five people have been confirmed dead and one missing following a heavy rain that caused flooding in some parts of Kumasi. Heavy rain began during the evening of Thursday 28 June. During a 24 hour period to 29 June, Kumasi recorded 115mm of rain. A further 76 mm of rain fell the following day.”

Edited from officially sourced reports on Floodlist.com/ 

Oman: the coastal city of Quriyat (Qurayyat) on Tuesday 26 June posted a 24-hour low temperature of 42.6°C (108.7°F) from local midnight to midnight. “According to weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera, this sets a new world record for the hottest 24-hour-minimum temperature ever recorded.” The maximum temperature in Quriyat peaked at 49.8°C (121.6°F), and topped out at 50.6°C, 123°F in Joba – another record.

USA: 30 June: baseball-size hail pelts north Texas, Colorado.

A dome of intense heat—not too far from record intensity for so early in the summer—will migrate from the Rockies to the Midwest and Northeast by this weekend, accompanied by worsening air quality. An unusually thick layer of dust from the Sahara will bring hazy skies to the central U.S. late in the week. Temperatures are expected to reach or exceed 110°F in Arizona on Tuesday and Wednesday.” Dangerous levels of ozone are being warned of.

Meanwhile, thanks to cooler waters over 2,000 bathers have reported being stung by jellyfish off the coast of Florida in the past two weeks. Wunderground specialist, Dr Jeff Masters complains that the Atlantic hurricane season has got off to a disappointingly slow start, but “June has already seen four named East Pacific storms with the arrival of Daniel on Sunday, and at least two more named storms are possible this week before the month is out.”

“At least one person died in flash floods that hit areas around Des Moines, Iowa, on 20 June. The city of Johnston recorded 8.4 inches (213.36 mm) in 24 hours. Rivers broke their banks and emergency services including teams from Des Moines Police department carried out dozens of high water rescues of people trapped in flooded homes or vehicles.” (Edited from Floodlist)

Europe: Heat warnings are out across much of southern Europe and across the Mediterranean to the Adriatic, where amber warnings have been given for severe thunderstorms over Greece. Details on Meteoalarm are, as usual, scanty, so we can’t be sure what a yellow advisory will add up to in Spain, but we find that even the Irish Republic is being warned of temperatures in the high 20s C, while here in Boglington tomorrow we are looking at a possible 30C, 86F.

Welcome to the apocalypse. Saddleworth Moor, Manchester, England, 28 June. (Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images.)

UK: as temperatures climb into the 30s C, high 80s F, a brushfire has consumed a 4-mile stretch of Saddleworth Moor, Manchester, after weeks with almost no rain. The peat subsoil is smouldering, making it difficult to contain. Denizens of the US west will no doubt have got over the limitations of the language by now, but Britain’s first major wildfire in years evoked all the cliches, as the “dry as tinder” scrub burned, “One resident described seeing “ash falling like rain” (more like ash, shurely? Ed.) and another said it “looked like the apocalypse”. The Hollywood version, presumably.

How brown was my valley? The view across the parched Boglington cricket club ground, 02 July. (Photo: The BogPo)

Here in Boglington we’ve had three days of wildfires burning further up the valley, but as yet nothing to make the news. People here are curiously incurious. You point toward the roiling smoke plume three miles away and the heavy haze hanging over us and they say, oh yes, we thought we could smell something, what is it? 33C is the forecast for tomorrow and apart from the smoke we still have wall-to-wall sunshine and more scorching heat forecast, odd for usually monsoonal late June.

Russia: “a crane driver died trying to prevent his rig from falling on the city’s wedding palace when a powerful storm hit Bernaul on the 23rd June. It left the city almost totally without electricity and caused water supply shortages. Traffic lights failed, and trees, fences, billboards were smashed.” – Siberian Times

According to its Wikipedia entry, Abakan is the capital city of the Republic of Khakassia, located at the confluence of the Yenisei and Abakan Rivers in central southern Siberia. As of 7 pm this evening, 25 June, local time, the temperature there was 35C, 95F.

Greece: flash flooding followed 24 hours of heavy rain in the south and midlands. 28 and 29 June the rain moved north and east, causing widespread flood damage and washing out roads in Albania, Bulgaria and Romania.

Meteoalarm/ The Weather Channel/ Siberian Times/ Floodlist

Storm over Barnaul, Siberia, 23 June. (Picture: Vyacheslav Postnikov)

World Cupballs

“Well, his arm was not in an unnatural position. It’s still joined to his body.” BBC commentator.

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The Pumpkin – Issue 55: The War on Drugs targets children – with drugs… Midterms: And the beat goes on… Open letter to: the BBC Board – Trump news coverage a shameful disgrace… Sensationalism gone mad… GW: turning up me collar, gazing at the sky… To irony and beyond

“To Infinity and beyond!”
‘Dorothy’ Trump muses wistfully that “there’s no place like space” as he plans to build a golf course complex on the moon (Image: mashable.com)

 

 The War on Drugs targets children – with drugs

“A series of heartbreaking investigative stories published Wednesday by Reveal and The Texas Tribune highlights the disturbing conditions many undocumented children have been allegedly forced to endure in privately run shelters set up to house them as they await proceedings to determine whether they can stay in the country.

“One of the more gruesome details includes allegations that children at the Shiloh Treatment Center near Houston, Texas were routinely dosed with unneeded antipsychotics to keep them quiet and compliant.”TYT report, 22 January.

You might muse on the thought that the overbearing and unconscionable immigration officials, sick and twisted demons let loose by the Trump regime, are the ones who require anti-psychotics.

Worse, children are being transported all over the country in secret, in the middle of the night. Local authorities are not being informed of their arrivals. Officials have lied to airlines refusing to carry separated children about the identities of parties of children smuggled aboard, to the consternation of crew members (MSNBC report). No records are being kept linking children as young as eight months with their parents being held in detention, so that most will never find their families again.

Fears are growing that children may end up with human traffickers or fostered by abusers.

This Presidency is a Pandora’s Box of horrors and must be ended by any means.

The most effective being a bullet through the head.

Picturing history

“Hello little girl, would you like a job in my administration? Only the best people.”

Inevitably, Sandra Sanchez, the crying toddler photographed on the border while her mother is searched by an ICE agent, has gone in two days from being an icon of US brutality towards refugees and a star of Time magazine’s July cover image, to being merely a tired and fractious little girl whose mother was being patted down by a kindly Mexican border official before they were put into protective custody “together”.

There is no getting away from the fact that hundreds of similarly young children have been snatched from their families, distributed throughout the country and will probably never be reunited with their parents. Almost every iconic photo-journalistic image in modern history from the Civil War ‘dead’, to planting the Stars and Stripes at Iwo Jima and the Red Flag over the Reichstag, to the burning child in Vietnam has been debunked or downplayed as a fake, yet nothing can detract from the narrative truths and the symbolic power they represent.

x

x

“…the RNC (Republican National Committee) has given a contract for the mid-term elections to a top GOP operative involved in the theft of 87 million Facebook profiles”

And the beat goes on

In case anyone might be silly enough to imagine the first duty of the Republican party isn’t to get itself elected by hook, but most certainly by crook, and that the dirty tricks department has shut down in the face of media exposure since November 2016, Politics News reports: “The AP (Associated Press agency) has released a bombshell report about Trump and Cambridge Analytica’s 2020 election meddling plans.

“The Trump 2020 campaign just got caught hiring former Cambridge Analytica employees to work on the re-election campaign for the President.”

(See also Private Eye #1742 with news of former Leave campaign staffers walking into well paid ‘revolving door’ jobs with organizations run by former Leave.EU and other Brexit conspirators. Here in Britain too, “The Thing” goes on….)

“Today’s AP report also confirms that the RNC has given a contract for the mid-term elections to a top GOP operative involved in the theft of 87 million Facebook profiles in conjunction with the Trump 2020 campaign. Former Cambridge Analytica data scientist Matt Oczowski created a company called Data Propria and hired some of the bankrupt Cambridge Analytica’s former employees, then sold his company to the penny stock company CloudCommerce (CLWD).

“Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale also sold his marketing company to CloudCommerce and now the two men are working together on CloudCommerce’s new data analytics division.

“Parscale denies that the Trump 2020 campaign’s current goal with Data Propria is to re-elect the President, but says instead to impact the 2018 mid-term elections.

“AP reports: ‘I am laser-focused on the 2018 midterms and holding the House and increasing our seats in the Senate,’ [Brad Parscale] said. ‘Once we do those things, I’ll start working on re-electing President Trump.’” – Politics News.

Oh, just switch off your phones.

x

Open letter to: the BBC Board

Trump news coverage ‘a shameful disgrace’

“It is clear to most that the President’s aim is to use the issue of children in cages and ‘soft-sided structures’ , a controversial policy he himself has created and is deliberately exacerbating, to force the Democrats into voting with hardline Republicans to pay for a border wall”

Dear Board member

I wish to draw your attention to an interview at six minutes to eight this morning on the Today program between presenter, Justin Webb and a Mr Frank Gatney, who is not so far as I know an actual employee of the US government but was said to have a previous connection with the Trump campaign.

Mr Gatney’s role was to defend Mr Trump’s morally indefensible policy and well-attested lies as regards the forcible removal into secret detention (and worse – ‘tender-age shelters’? What the fuck?) of the children of Latin American refugees, SOME LESS THAN ONE YEAR OLD, many of whom cannot now be traced or linked with any parent, who – it is your editorial policy – must be referred to as ‘migrants’, and who may never see their children again.

Instead, your bulletin writers repeatedly used the phrase ‘illegal immigrants’, when the fact is that these babies and toddlers are not ‘illegal immigrants’ in any sense other than that defined by the President himself, on no other authority: THEY ARE POLITICAL PRISONERS; HOSTAGES. In most cases it is reliably reported by US media that the parents have arrived at the southern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona borders legally claiming asylum under the 1948 UN Convention on Refugees, and have not attempted illegal entry.

This action in itself, of claiming asylum, if at the border and not at US embassies in their own countries, has been unilaterally declared by the President to be ‘illegal’; a status in law which, he has lied, was created and is being maintained by the opposition Democrat party, a position which is quite clearly preposterous and held by a two-thirds majority of Americans to be so. If it can be traced anywhere, it is to the Republican Bush administration.

The President has described these people, many of them women and children fleeing from gang warfare, rape, torture, extortion and murder in their own countries, a state of affairs nurtured over decades by clandestine US security operations in support of extreme rightwing politicians, corporate entities and the so-called ‘war on drugs’, as ‘animals’, claiming that they are all potential violent gang members (he is obsessed with a Los Angeles gang called MS-13, most of whose members are US-born.).

Thus, year-old animals are held in concrete pens in San Diego with only aluminum thermal sheeting for blankets, while the psychopath cries orange crocodile tears, oh, the poor babies, it’s all the fault of those heartless Democrats.

In fact, no-one knows where the very youngest children have been taken, the administration refuses to say. The assumption is, they’re being put up for adoption. Many of the girls, too, have been spirited away to secret detention, Chibok-style, where one imagines them being married off to Trump-supporting ‘incels’ – unattractive young men who cannot get girlfriends. (So far it’s only an unworthy thought. Ed.)

He could stop this immediately. But he is playing a game.

Mr Gatney repeated the President’s entirely unsubstantiated assertion that the children are not even the migrants’ own. He seems to have got that idea from Ann Coulter, a demented and skeletal Fox news harridan, who claims that the children are all ‘crisis actors’ employed in a conspiracy to embarrass the White House.

Were your editors awake, they would know that this is a party line supported only by a handful of White House insiders, among them known racialists and white Christian biblical fundamentalists such as A-G Sessions, dead-eyed college vampire Stephen Miller, press spokesmouth Lyin’ Sarah Sanders and Secretary of Homeland Security, Neilsen; who, last night, tried to dine at a Mexican restaurant of all places, until she was howled out by protestors. Just how stupid and insensitive do you have to be, to get a job with Trump?

It is clear to most, and he has admitted it, that the President’s aim is to use the sight of children in cages and ‘soft-sided structures’ – a controversial policy he himself has created and is deliberately exacerbating and the sound of their crying, to force the Democrats into voting with hardline Republicans to pay for a border wall; as he is so desperate to deliver a rash, off-the-cuff election promise he made in 2016 to his support base in advance of the midterm elections.

Yet Mr Webb made no attempt whatever to challenge Mr Gatney on any of the points he made, putting your editorial line on this story considerably at variance with other media, such as this morning’s Guardian, which offered a fair and balanced view but nevertheless put the growing protests even within the Republican party at the heart of the story.

With one honorable exception, John Sweeney’s 2016 Panorama report on Trump’s mafia connections, the BBC’s entire attitude to the Trump administration from the outset has been one of supine, uncritical subservience. The continuing normalization of this dysfunctional, abusive and highly anomalous presidency by the BBC is a national embarrassment.

Mr Trump as has frequently been noted is entirely unfit for office, in the opinion of many respectable commentators in the USA and that of millions of decent and sensible Americans. His actions are irrational and reprehensible, his economic policies self-serving and untutored, his foreign policy on the face of it based on financial extortion and bullying; his one-sided and antediluvian authoritarian views on many issues, abusive ad hominem Twitter attacks and his clear contempt for the constitution, judges, women and minorities are repugnant to most Americans; nevertheless he continues to enrich himself and his family through egregious breaches of the Emoluments acts and tax reforms beneficial to himself and his donors.

You have consistently failed to produce a critical analysis of this Trump regime within a coherent overview, but – as with the climate change story – treat every new pronouncement (and very few of the gaffes) in isolation. In consequence, I see and hear frequent references to Trump’s policies and statements that indicate only a very limited public understanding in the UK of the appalling nightmare he is inflicting on his country.

It takes little effort to inform oneself and the nation of these matters, but it appears from the flaccid and respectful reports of your Washington correspondent, Mr John ‘Sopoor’ that everything is perfectly normal, if perhaps a little unconventional, when it is so clearly not normal, and conventional only by the standards of a banana republic.

Do you imagine it is NORMAL that in the USA in 2018, children as young as FOUR are having to represent themselves in immigration tribunal hearings because no responsible adult or legal counsel is available? Is it NORMAL for the Attorney-General of the United States, where the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of the State from religious intolerance, to claim that God has sanctioned this evil policy? Is it NORMAL for the President of the United States to call for due legal process to be carried out without recourse to the courts?

Why are you not reporting this on the Today program, instead of putting up lying shills for the White House to defend a crime against humanity without tearing their testimony to shreds?

Mr Trump has withdrawn this morning from yet another international body, the UN Council on Human Rights, that he perceives as challenging and weakening global US hegemony. Your unbalanced response to this story was to carry without comment or question, the tendentious statement by UN Ambassador Hayley, complaining among other things of the Council’s unfair treatment of…. Israel, a gross violator of human rights.

(It seems particularly rich that Ms Hayley should describe the Council as a ‘cesspit of political bias’, with many members themselves being human rights violators, when Mr Trump so frequently expresses admiration for brutal dictators: Duterte, al-Sisi, Erdogan, Xi and Kim Jong-un, and claims half-jokingly that he wishes he could be more like them.)

I, Sirs, do not wish to accept the status of humble subject in a resurgent, exceptionalist American global empire, under the dominion of a senescent, sociopathic moral imbecile with self-serving, thuggish, anti-democratic instincts, even if the BBC does. From the start of this presidency, your editorial stance has been consistently behind the curve; partial, supine and cowardly: a shameful national disgrace.

And while I have your attention, is it possible someone could explain to me why it is that of all the categories of programming listed on your ‘Contact the BBC’ web page for viewers and listeners to offer criticism or suggestions, ‘News’ is the one button that refuses to work?

Thank you.

Postscriptum:

MSNBC News is currently (20 June) reporting the refusal of some state governors to allow the deployment of their national guard units or the use of state resources to support Trump’s filthy and corrupt immigration policy on the border.

Follow the story with Lawrence O’Donnell on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4w8mzUKczI

Post-postscriptum:

Two mornings later, the BBC finally has reporters in south Texas and has interviewed the scathing Trump critic and contributor to The Atlantic, the laconic David Frum.

Most of the coverage went out before 7 a.m., but it’s a start – although the asylum applicants are still “illegal” according to Trump, and BBC journalists haven’t really worked out that Trump’s Executive Order (it wasn’t, it was a memorandum) apparently backtracking on his original edict to A-G Sessions won’t make a difference to the 2,500 kids already in custody in secret camps all over the USA, where they can’t be traced, and who may never be reunited with their parents.

Two good news items, several US airlines are refusing to carry separated children, and a couple who hoped to raise $1500 to put up a bail bond for a Nicaraguan family found themselves with $15 MILLION after three days of pledges from over 350 thousand Americans.

Trump has so miscalculated, but as a fully qualified sociopath how was he to know that gaoling 10-month-old children might blow up in his puffy old criminal face?

Meanwhile, Army lawyers are having to be drafted in to prosecute cases in the secret border courts – another illegal act on the part of the regime as US forces personnel are not allowed to take part in policing internal affairs.

Steve Cortes, a CNN political commentator who serves on the Trump 2020 election advisory council, wrote in an email: ‘I think the president was deeply distressed by the images of children missing their parents. I also think we all need to realise that neither President Trump nor our law enforcement caused that very unfortunate circumstance; rather, these victim children were totally mistreated by their parents or guardians who chose freely to commit the serious crime of illegal trespass into our country with children in tow’.” – Guardian

Is there a possibility this toady sonofabitch with his lying blubbery lips clamped firmly around the orange anus smelling faintly of cheeseburger, sucking on it hard whilst massaging the little furry scrotum with loving tenderness, could be taken out, tarred and feathered and thrown into a pit of fire, as required by his Godalmighty, fucking Republican bible?

Please God, is there? Just askin’.

“On Friday (Trump) railed against ‘phony stories of sadness and grief’ and paraded the families of people killed by undocumented immigrants, drawing a pointed comparison by saying: ‘They’re not separated for a day or two days. These are permanently separated, because they were killed by criminal illegal aliens’.”

What the lying old bastard didn’t say was that of the nine families he paraded for his own re-election, eight were grieving for relatives who had died in ROAD ACCIDENTS.

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Sensationalism gone mad.

“One cannot permit unique opportunities to slip by for the sake of trifles.”

This somewhat trite and unexceptional maxim, a version of ‘stick to the knitting’, has got everyone’s knickers in a twist at the University of Exeter, as the words appear to be contaminated with the virus of …. National Socialism!

The connection might have escaped your notice reading those anodyne words, but after a silly scandal involving some students exchanging racist tweets, for which the university was in no way responsible, the poor old Dean and Chapter (interest alert: my son was a postgrad student there) are now having to defend themselves against accusations of being Nazi sympathisers; possibly even party members.

To be fair, the prat in the PR department who found the quote on the internet and stuck it in a student guidebook ought to have recognised the attribution to one Erwin Rommel, and paused for thought. He is quite famous.

But numerous notable (not ‘notorious’, BBC!) military leaders down the centuries have also been cod philosophers, it goes with the territory.

Business management trainees studying ‘Leadership skills’ have probably been stuffed silly with pithy quotations from far worse brutes than the shrewd and urbane Rommel, generally regarded as being among the great military strategists of history. If Hitler had only listened to him instead of wasting all the concrete and slave labor in Germany trying to build a stupid wall around France, he might well have changed the course of the D-Day landings.

The Nazis were pretty horrible, but by no means uniquely so. Our continuing obsession with them is not particularly helpful or healthy, leading as it does to trivial false comparisons and ludicrous witch-hunts against incautious latter-day politicians, comedians and academics.

They should be allowed to get on with their jobs without undereducated, self-appointed moral guardians pointing their sticky fingers at whatever they least understand, lazily resorting to bad historical comparisons to make – what? – their pointless points.

It’s sensationalism gone mad.

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GW: turning up me collar, gazing at the sky

USA: Another tropical storm that hasn’t quite made it as a hurricane is moving up from the Gulf of Mexico, the second in little over a week. Parts of far south Texas have had up to 15 inches of rain in 24 hours (to 20 June) and there are flash flood warnings out in many areas.

“(More than 60) sinkholes and washed out roads were reported Sunday (17 June) as flash flooding triggered by heavy rainfall swamped several towns from northern Minnesota and Wisconsin to Upper Michigan. ‘The majority of us can’t even get home. Roads are collapsed. Bridges are collapsed. Roads are covered in water.’ – local resident. The Radigan Flowage Dam west of Dairyland, Wisconsin burst, and the Tamarack and St. Croix rivers were flooding. 4-7 in. of rain fell in just 7 hours.”- edited from Wunderground.

And here’s the menu for just this last week’s issue #126 of Climate and Extreme Weather News, consisting of citizen videos from places affected by severe weather events.  I can’t face expanding on it, it speaks for itself: the entire northern hemisphere is flooding in a band around the globe, at roughly the 40th parallel (start of the subtropical zone). Some of these images are truly apocalyptic. Go to:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKjOjC0LxmA

Indonesia: Banyuwangi flood Turkey: Kahramanmaras flood Lebanon: Ras Baalbek flood Israel: Negev flood Ivory Coast: Abidjan flood Ghana: Accra flood Mexico: Guanajuato, Aguascalientes & Tamaulipas floods The USA: Texas & Midwest floods Myanmar: Monsoon floods India: Monsoon floods China: Guizhou floods Serbia: Uzice hailstorm & flash flood Italy: Messina flash flood Malta: Mriehel flood…

Jesus, the Negev desert?

Ivory Coast: “At least 18 people have died in flooding in the department of Abidjan. The Country’s National Civil Protection Office (ONPC) said that heavy rainfall that began during the evening of 18 June (about 6 in. falling in 24 hours) resulted in flooding that caused at least 18 deaths and severe material damage.” Many more days of rain are forecast. – Floodlist

Myanmar (Burma): Record breaking heavy rain has triggered flooding and landslides in parts of Mon State in the south of Myanmar. The towns of Mawlamyine and Mottama are the worst hit areas. Local media report that at least 1,000 people have been displaced by the flooding. Mudon, a town in Mon State about 22 km south of Mawlamyine, recorded 297 mm of rain in 24 hours between 16 and 17 June. – Edited from Floodlist.

Relief agencies are trying to shore up structures in camps housing Rohingya refugees across the border in Bangladesh, ahead of the main monsoon rains due next week. Many have been moved to higher ground. A number of people have already died in flooding and landslides.

Turkey: Several provinces in Turkey were hit by heavy rain and flash flooding over the weekend, 16 to 17 June. A child is still missing after being swept away by flooding in Selendi district in the province of Manisa on 16 June. Parts of Istanbul were also flooded, causing traffic chaos. – Edited from Floodlist.

Serbia: 13 June, massive hailstorm over Uzice. Streets turn to rivers of ice, etc.

Climate Reanalyzer points to quite high temperature anomalies persisting in northern latitudes: Canada/Alaska and Siberia – also over Antarctica.

Your Granny notes a corresponding uptick in seismic activity around the globe, earthquake locations frequently corresponding with extreme heat and floods. Seismologists and meteorologists tell me there’s no correlation, but then do they talk to each other?

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To irony and beyond

1. Thanks to the abnormally hot weather in Europe, there’s a shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2).

I’d better repeat that:

Thanks to the abnormally hot weather in Europe, there’s a shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2).

You can still learn stuff even at my age. I’ve been learning from a BBC website article that the fizzy bubbles the manufacturers put in your refreshing cold drink along with a pound or two of sugar and a raspberry are a by-product of the fertilizer industry.

Shall I repeat that unlikely assertion too? No, okay. Anyway, it appears to be true.

And the fertilizer industry shuts down for maintenance in the summer, so the fizzy drinks industry is complaining that rising demand for fizzy drinks has led to a critical shortage of the very same gas that is causing the abnormally hot weather in Europe.

It’s beyond irony.

Food miles

2. On our walk yesterday, a van is turning around in front of us. The driver leans out and asks for directions to a house about twenty yards away. The side of his van bears the legend: “Frozen food, freshly delivered to your door”.

Curious, I ask the driver where he has come from. With a rueful grin, he gives the name of a town 75 miles north of here.

Just around the corner, 12 minutes’ walk away is a large Morrison’s supermarket. It has three whole aisles of frozen food cabinets. Just in town are an Iceland – frozen-food specialists – a Lidl, a Tesco and a Marks & Spencer food hall, along with half a dozen convenience stores, all with freezers.

I’d describe it as insanity. Then I think about the £7.50 CD I just bought via the Amazon. I could have bought an MP3 download; it could have come by regular post and been shoved through the letter-flap; but no, it was instead couriered, signed-for, from the United States.

Mea maxima culpa.

On the wrong lines

3. Network Rail’s policy of cutting down 2 million trees to reduce the perennial problem of ‘leaves on the line’ has ignited controversy.

Also a certain amount of smugness, as, deprived of tree-shade, in the current 30 deg. hot spell the lines are buckling in the sunshine, forcing trains to slow to a crawl.

The same crawl with which they accommodate themselves to slippery wet leaves every year,  but without the climate-damaging dendrocide.

 

 

The Crime of the Century… History on Repeat… GW: with her kilt a’ blowin’ above her ears… Hitting the buffers… No Fly Zone #2

“Eat your damn broccoli, Donald.”
“Won’t. Shan’t. Horrible deal” #Ihateyoumommy.

 

Warning: extreme polemic; vitriol; abusive language; moral indignation.

“In a little over 500 days of streaming lies, base insults, cretinous mismanagement and vile misdeeds, Trump has absorbed all our outrage. … We find it difficult any longer to care.”

The crime of the century

A woman is breastfeeding her 18-month-old infant. An armed guard rips the child away and thrusts it into a baby seat in a car. The car drives away. The mother does not know where her baby has been taken, she may never know.

Soon she finds herself locked in a cell, accused of something that is not a crime in international law. She has no right to representation. Habeas corpus no longer applies. Eventually, after a few months, she will be sent back to wherever she came from, to endure whatever it was she came to escape. Rape, torture, murder, who cares what?

North Korea?

No, America – the southern Texas border. June 2018.

The Land of the Free.

Where crimes against humanity and gross breaches of the UN Convention on Refugees are committed multiple times daily by untrained, unaccountable, gum-chewing trailer-trash on the orders of the racist Georgia dwarf, the cretinous little Trumpsucker, Attorney-General Sessions, cowed and subservient to the whim of an insane would-be dictator waging war on children.

Trump. A lying, groping, money-obsessed conman; a filthy, self-admiring, profligate old brute, a cowardly moron who openly admires the murderous thugs and kleptocrats ruling totalitarian countries, castigates and belittles America’s democratic allies and publicly regrets that his country is, or was until he was invented, ruled with dignity by laws and moral values.

Trump, who blatantly lied to the press that ripping families apart was a “law” passed by the previous Obama administration, that he can’t change. (Clue: it isn’t, and it wasn’t, and he could.) At every hint of criticism, he desperately lies that the Democrats are preventing him repealing the non-existent “law” that he himself imposed six weeks ago, that has led to the internment of over 2 thousand children and counting.

Of course, what he wants is to trade the children for support for his insane border wall, not because it will work, he knows it won’t, but because he promised it to his dumbfucks and they’re too stupid to know that it’s a total white elephant. Bjt if he delivers it, they’ll deliver the White House to him for another four years of this horror show.

Of course, we see too that an order for several billion dollars’ worth of concrete will also make the mafia-controlled concrete supply business that he was involved with in New York through the late “Fat Tony” Salerno and the Genovese crime family a bunch of happy bunnies.

This “zero-tolerance law” is his official new immigration policy, Welcome to Trumpworld, where any migrant – people he has likened to “animals” – turning up at an official border crossing and claiming asylum according to international law is automatically declared “illegal” as if they had entered the country by some backdoor route, and is judged to be guilty of a crime; a charge extended to the “smuggling” of their own children, if accompanied by any.

How sick can you get, confiscating desperate people’s children as “contraband”?

At last, the world is beginning to take notice of a repugnant, amoral and illegal no-entry policy that began with Bush, and continued through the Obama administration but has been ferociously extended under Trump. The Guardian reports (15 June):

“A spokesman for the US Department of Health and Human Services (sic.) said on Thursday that the department had selected the Tornillo port of entry as a temporary shelter location, 40 miles south-east of El Paso, in an area of desert where temperatures routinely approach 100F (37C).

“The facility will be able to accommodate up to 360 children in “the next few days,” said the spokesman, Kenneth (‘big, bad’) Wolfe.

“Asked if children will be kept in tents, Wolfe said the facility would have “soft-sided structures,” but didn’t immediately clarify what those structures would be.”

Soft-sided structures. This Orwellian doublespeak is entirely characteristic of the grotesque, slimy dishonesty of a quasi-fascist, criminal dictatorship rampaging out of control.

Pressed on the moral issue by reporters yesterday, the fat, sweaty sack Sanders, shortly to be outgoing press spokesbitch to the foul-smelling Trump house of shit, quoted Romans, chapter something-or-other, a piece of ignorant Bible Truther sophistry about the proper application of the law under fucking God. What an awful woman she is, a snarling, sneering, dissembling, hypocritical insult to the intelligence, a gross Pharisee with fat, sweaty kids of her own; a rank, dyed-in-the-wool hypocrite.

To impose this illegal policy, secret courts are in session 24 hours a day, rubber-stamping guilty verdicts by the thousand. Secret camps have been set up, where thousands of children automatically seized from their parents are interned at the rate of 50 a day, some as young as one, without access or recourse to their parents, who have been branded as criminals without rights and are locked up, never to see their children again.

Many children are said to have been housed in cages. 1,400 boys are being held in an abandoned Walmart supermarket. The girls have been separated from their siblings. A few reporters and congressmen have managed to gain access to selected camps (access to the main camps has been denied). They report, there is no specialist childcare, no trauma counselling for terrified children, no proper healthcare or education, no toys or books or games or cellphones. Just grim-faced border guards and lines for food.

It’s a hastily arranged children’s gulag. Some of the younger children are being sent on to “sponsors” – anyone who wants a child, for whatever reason. There is little scrutiny or vetting. No-one even knows where many of those children are; not even the prize bitch, Neilsen, secretary for Homeland Security, who is in charge of this filthy crime against humanity. White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, who since working for Trump has become, like all the others, a man utterly bereft of morals, honor or courage, thinks maybe “foster homes, or whatever.”

OR WHATEVER.

This is TRUE. It is happening today, in America.

Do you hear about it on the BBC News, where that supine and useless little weasel, John Sopoor is in charge of generating whatever thin trickle of respectful and uncritical praise for the criminal psychopath, Trump comes out of the USA?

Where is Save the Children?

Where is the UN?

Where is the entire fucking population of America, with its vaunted claim to Christian decency?

In a little over 500 days of streaming lies, base insults, cretinous mismanagement and vile misdeeds, Trump has absorbed all our outrage. We are morally confused, crushed, mentally exhausted. We find it difficult any longer to care.

It is how fascism grinds everyone down, the boot stamping on a human face. We see migrants drowning in the Mediterranean every day: over 47 thousand have died making the crosssing from North Africa and Turkey. What’s a few hundred more foreign children, brown vermin, broiling in the desert, buried in unmarked graves? Refugees from war, famine, rape, torture, unbearable poverty – climate change.

How can we absorb them all?

And we say nothing, do nothing, as the crime of the century unfolds before our lowered gaze.

At least the SS carefully documented their victims.

We could start by telling every American in Britain to fuck off home. Don’t let them in. There are tens of thousands, by the way. You’re not wanted here, you dirty immigrant, we should tell them. Didn’t vote for Trump? Your problem. Go home and vote for someone else. Just go home, immigrants, useless, dirty, skiving Yankee trash, fuck off, before we start interning you in camps.

You’re no longer welcome here. You’re not even human. You’re just animals.

And take your filthy ratbag little scum-children with you.

Why, that would surely be the crime of the century. And they wouldn’t like it, would they.

They wouldn’t like it.

 

And are we any better?

“French border police have been accused of detaining migrant children as young as 12 in cells without food or water, (falsifying birth dates on “refusal of entry” documents), cutting the soles off their shoes and stealing sim cards from their mobile phones, before illegally sending them back to Italy.

“A report released on Friday by the charity Oxfam also cites the case of a “very young” Eritrean girl, who was forced to walk back to the Italian border town of Ventimiglia along a road with no pavement while carrying her 40-day-old baby.” – Guardian

Then of course there was the case last week of Italy and Malta refusing port facilities to a rescue ship with 629 migrants on board, including 100 children and pregnant women, plucked from unseaworthy vessels off the Libyan coast..

This is only going to get worse as the warming of the planet accelerates out of control, food security breaks down and countries south of the Mediterranean or the US border become uninhabitable.

The BogPo advises that you need to prepare for some very unpleasant happenings before the end.

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History on repeat

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce” is a maxim attributed to Karl Marx, a C19th tragedian who 100 years later later repeated himself as Groucho. (You’re fired. Ed.)

The highly rated MSNBC journalist, Rachel Maddow today draws attention to the extraordinary parallels between the events of the later Nixon administration and those of the early (or, hopefully, late) Trump presidency; particularly with relation to the slush funds operated by both presidents’ “personal lawyers”, respectively Herb Kalmbach and Michael Cohen.

In Kalmbach’s case, he went to prison after turning evidence against Nixon for a lighter sentence in regard to a charge that he used the fund – amassed from leftover election donations – originally to secretly finance a campaign to prevent the segregationist George Wallace from winning the governorship of Alabama, so as to nobble any attempt on the presidency; and thereafter to pay-off the secret team Nixon put together to burgle the Watergate building.

In Cohen’s case, it appears he may shortly be charged with offences connected with selling access to the White House, both for large corporations like AT&T and the Swiss chemical giant Novartis, but also to foreign interests and at least one Russian oligarch, using the fund to enrich himself and the president; and to buy off women, including the porn star Stormy Daniels, with kiss-and-tell stories of affairs with the serially adulterous Trump, immediately prior to the election – making the money an undeclared and, in part, an illegal foreign campaign donation.

Equally extraordinary, one supposes, is the wounded reaction of both lawyers to being chopped off at the knees by their presidents. Trump is reportedly furious at the way Cohen has handled matters, albeit on his orders. (Actually he’s perpetually furious with anyone he perceives as disloyal, which is, ultimately, everyone who ever works for him.) Poor Cohen is bewildered: he has frequently declared actual love for the grotesque psychopath who “mentored” him.

Maddow recalls, Kalmbach reportedly dissolved in tears in the courtroom on being faced with the truth of what he had done, wondering plaintively why Nixon did not protect him.

Both stories involve controversial far-eastern summits with the leaders of enemy nations: in Nixon’s case with China and in Trump’s with North Korea. Both were spun as absolute triumphs of spontaneous diplomacy; although in Trump’s case he got nothing out of it and is having to send his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, out to mop-up the mess he has caused by announcing completely out of the blue, and without consulting anyone, an end both to sanctions and the annual joint military invasion rehearsals with the south; neither of which was mentioned in the joint communique.

These meetings are going to be seen by future historians, if there are any, as virtually identical, spontaneous foreign policy interventions against the accepted wisdom of sector experts to distract public attention from domestic troubles.

Where the element of tragedy creeps in, is in Trump’s fulsome and elaborate statements of praise and admiration for the kleptocratic despot, Kim Jong-un, which have been branded as disgusting by North Korean exiles around the world.

Kim’s record in office has been brutal: unparalleled in modern history, according to the UN.

For Trump to acclaim Kim as a fine young man, a leader with a great sense of humor, who “loves his people”, when he has slaughtered and tortured and imprisoned and starved them by the hundreds of thousands into total obedience to his selfish whims is quite remarkable, unless one assumes that those are actions which chime perfectly with Trump’s solipsistic view of his own official powers, frustrated by the limitations of the US constitution.

A clue to the almost symbiotic relationship that seems to have developed between the two men is how Trump sees Kim (with 180 degrees of historical inaccuracy – Kim’s father and grandfather were also brutal dictators who had already imposed their personality cults on a starving and cowed population) as a young man of 26 or 27, faced with the daunting challenges of holding his nation together, and having to hang tough in the face of his enemies, real or imagined, following his revered father’s death.

This ludicrous false narrative exactly mirrors Trump’s own: inheriting at 27 his brutal and remote father’s shabby, mafia-linked New York property empire, that even more callous and dishonest measures were required to manage – the challenge: to overcome his own manifest inadequacies as a business leader with tendencies to extreme laziness, pleasure-seeking, zero concentration ability, disinterest in externalities and inconvenient facts, narcissistic and vainglorious fantasizing.

A case of history repeating itself, first as farce and now very possibly as tragedy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy3rtpYC-PI

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GW: with her kilt a’ blowin’ above her ears

Arctic: “…(air temperature) was as hot as 32.7°C or 90.9°F on June 11 on the coast of Hudson Bay (just a few miles south of the Arctic Circle); 30.7°C or 87.3°F on the coast of the Laptev Sea (north of Siberia). It was 6.6°C or 44°F over the North Pole due to hot air flowing from Siberia over the Arctic Ocean on June 13. Water near Svalbard was as warm as 16.1°C or 61°F on June 4, versus 3°C or 37.4°F in 1981-2011. CO₂ levels were 420 ppm over the North Pole on June 12; very high methane peaks are increasingly appearing. (edited from ‘Sam Carana’/ Arctic News, 11 June)

Two conclusions from the above: 1) the Arctic is warming ten times faster than the rest of the hemisphere and is beyond saving, leading to a forecast of runaway climate change due to methane emissions, fracturing of the jetstreams and ocean currents; 2) the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to world governments due out shortly is deliberately understating the degree and speed of global warming to avoid panic and preserve the now-redundant Paris accord, so that positive action is unlikely.

UK: Gale force winds and heavy rain battered northwestern areas of Britain – Scotland, Northern Ireland, Cumbria, North Wales in an unusually powerful June storm, named Hector, on 14 June, bringing down trees and power lines. Windspeeds of 60 to 70 mph may be unprecedented for places like Glasgow at this time of year. – Met Office

Europe: the past week has seen quite extreme weather, with many thunderstorms, intense rainfall and flash flooding affecting parts of France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and Slovakia. The town of Crnomalj in Slovenia was bombarded with golfball-sized hailstones on 8 June.  “A slow-moving storm system brought record heavy rain to parts of northern France between 11 and 12 June, triggering floods in Paris and a landslip that caused a train to derail. Meteo France said that Paris recorded 78 mm of rain in 24 hours, a record for a June day.” Parts of Bavaria recorded over 10 cm of rain in one day. (edited from Floodlist reports).

Portable toilets blowing off in Colorado Park. (The Weather Channel)

USA: The 416 fire burning for two weeks near Durango in Colorado has destroyed over 34 thousand acres of forest and driven many people from their homes. After ten days it was still only 15% contained but as of 17 June, it was reported, heavy rain is slowing its spread. Campers managed to set fire to 500 acres near Carson City, Nevada, while trying to burn the contents of their impromptu latrine in a high wind. 15% contained…

Mexico: 115 mph Tropical Storm Bud brought some respite from the brutal 49 deg. C. heatwave that melted traffic lights and killed 3 people in Guadalajara, which has since experienced flash flooding. Bud is heading up the Baja peninsula and weakening, expected to dissipate over southern California and New Mexico, thence to push on up into the SW states bringing rain to many places currently droughted.

The disorganized system known as Invest 91 is expected to cross the Gulf of Mexico in the next few days, bringing heavy rain to the east coast of Mexico before moving up into Texas and Louisiana, but is not now expected to strengthen into a Harvey-style ‘super-soaker’ hurricane.

There’s been flash flooding in the capital of Panama.

Dust storm adds to killer air quality over New Delhi, 9 June. India has 14 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities.

Northern India has experienced more storms, extreme heat, flooding and landslides. 26 people were reported killed in a dust storm in Uttar Pradesh on the 9th June, many by lightning strikes. The capital, New Delhi continued to swelter in 40 deg. C. heat and was “plunged into darkness” by dust on the 9th.

Meantime, “torrential monsoon rainfall has caused flooding and landslides … As of 14 June, at least 3 people had died and around 36,000 displaced in Assam. … Manipur, where 6 people have died, and Tripura, where at least 3 people have died and 15,000 displaced. … Monsoon rain, strong winds and high waves continue to batter the south western state of Kerala, where 13 people have died in the last few days. Mumbai was deluged, causing travel disruption (edited from Floodlist reports)

Refugees from Myanmar were flooded out of camps in Bangladesh. 12 dead in landslides. Floods in neighboring Myanmar. Typhoon Ewiniar dumped 25cm of rain on Guangdong, China in less than a day.

New Zealand: a “deep subtropical low” brought chaos to parts of North Island on the 12th. Farmland, roads and 1000-plus homes were underwater in the Gisborne and Hawkes Bay areas for the second time in little over a week.

The first signs of an El Niño have been detected in the Pacific.

Climate & Extreme Weather News #125/ BBC News/ UK Met Office/ The Weather Channel

Antarctic: “Ice in the Antarctic is melting at a record-breaking rate and the subsequent sea level rises could have catastrophic consequences for cities around the world, according to two new studies. A report led by scientists in the UK and US found the rate of melting from the Antarctic ice sheet has accelerated threefold in the last five years and is now vanishing faster than at any previously recorded time.” – Guardian, citing an article in Nature.

Mars: a giant dust storm covering a third of the planet has enveloped NASA’s Opportunity rover, which has been slowly trundling about measuring and observing things for 14 years, despite an expected operational life of only weeks. BBC News reports that its grabbing arm is suffering from ‘arthritis’ and the vehicle has gone into ‘sleep’ mode, from which an alarm clock wakes it periodically to check what the weather is like outside.

I imagine it opening one bleary eye, grunting and turning over, gradually its breathing becoming a stertorous snore again; Radio 4 murmuring in the background. It reminds me of the first Wallace and Gromit film, A Grand Day Out, where the pair build a rocket and go to the moon to sample the Wensleydale cheese (from which it is made), only to have to contend with its singular inhabitant, a cantankerous and lonely old gas cooker that has developed an obsession with winter sports.

 

Hitting the buffers

“Dr Adolfo García-Sastre – director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute – told this week how research has discovered that flu viruses are jumping from pigs to dogs and what potential threat that poses to humans after his team’s scientific study appeared in the journal MBIO.

“He explained: ‘The majority of pandemics have been associated with pigs as an intermediate host between avian viruses and human hosts. In this study, we identified influenza viruses jumping from pigs into dogs.’” – (Express)

Warning: this may kill you.

….making Man’s Best Friend, Man’s Newest Lethal Enemy. Cases of doggy deaths are being reported in America, from “H3N8, a virulent, potentially deadly strain of canine influenza that public-health experts say is being spread to the U.S. from infected dogs imported from foreign countries.” (VINNews)

Those damned immigrants again, they’re just animals.

Now comes a suggestion that the new H7N9 version of bird ‘flu that has caused a number of cases in humans in, where else, China, might be the undetermined “Disease X” that the WHO imagines triggering another 1918-style “Spanish ‘Flu” pandemic, with potential for over 30 million casualties, if or more likely when it mutates into a virus that can be transmitted between humans. It has a 38% mortality rate. (Express, 15 June)

We’re a’ doomed. Doomed, I tell ye!

(To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dad’s Army – and Private Fraser, whose catchphrase that was – the Post Office has issued a set of commemorative stamps featuring the principal cast.)

 

No Fly Zone #2

The good news is, blowflies have started appearing in my kitchen.

With deep respect to Follower, Mark C Smith, who writes eloquently of his disgust at flies, the absence of flying insects of all kinds is a cause for worry.

You still see very few out in the valley, even after six weeks of warm weather here in Boglington. It’s like the vegetation, that’s exploded again like last year after a very late start, is just silent, deserted, although my poor old eyes have those black floaters sometimes and I have to check to be sure what I’m seeing flying around isn’t actual insects.

I remember as a young person, a countryside a’buzzin’ and a’flutterin’ with insects. Now it’s silent, almost deserted.

Hunzi’s bone, that he likes to leave out to ripen before consuming, had just three flies around it yesterday. A pack left out, that had contained meat, showed evidence of some eggs the next day.

And there have been a couple of moths around at night, not the weird little clothes moths everyone’s been complaining about, that fall out of packets in the kitchen – proper moths. While my total butterfly count since May has been just 7 whites and 3 browns; maybe half a dozen bees of various kinds, a couple of beetles.

It’s not looking good; but then, I was really concerned about the trees a few weeks ago, that were lifeless and bare, and now look at them. So maybe it’s too early to worry.

I don’t like flies much either, although sometimes one might perch on your knee, looking up at you with their big compound eyes, and almost seem to be wondering intelligently about you; it’s interesting, too, that experiments show they have a different perception of time from us, which is why it’s so hard to swat one with your rolled-up copy of The Oldie.

I seem to be altering my perception of time too. I’m never sure what day it is anymore, they all look the same. I promised a friend on Monday I’d help him out with moving some stuff, Tuesday or was it Wednesday? In the event, it was already Thursday night before I remembered with a guilty start that I’d forgotten all about it. No sooner have I got up, than it seems to be bedtime again.

And nothing done, except maybe this.

Help.

(Once again The BogPo leads the pack… this from The Observer, Sunday 17 June:)

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/17/where-have-insects-gone-climate-change-population-decline

 

Flyzone

No, not a boyband made of flies – southwest Wales, where locals are complaining of a plague of flies – or, winged creatures, as the local paper calls them. (There are numerous Old Testament imaginings enshrined in Welsh culture, even today.)

“Llanelli and neighbouring towns are under attack from an invasion of winged creatures. Some are having to eat meals in their cars and hang up multiple traps to try to catch the flies which have descended in huge numbers.”

(This old subeditor takes it that the writer means “some” people, not – as would be inferred from the subject of the previous sentence – flies, who don’t, obviously, have cars.)

It’s more probable that they haven’t “descended”, like a Biblical plague, but have rather emerged, from their breeding places in the interstices of the door and window-frames of older buildings, where numbers can easily increase into the hundreds.

And it’s odd, because here in Boglington, 65 miles north of Llanelli there aren’t any flies at all. Well, one or two. Maybe they all moved south for the winter.

 

PS Yellowstonezone…

The big Steamboat geyser at Norris Junction may have gone off at the weekend for the tenth time so far this year, on the basis of seismic data. Previously the most times it’s blown in an entire year: 3, in 2003. Sign of rising magma, volcano recharging.

Hawaii: Big Island eruptions continuing, new fissure, huge Mt Kilaueia caldera continues to collapse thousands of feet into the empty magma chamber, triggering M5.1 earthquake. Quake swarm continuing, approaching 10 thousand M1.5 and larger recorded. Still concern that Mauna Loa – world’s largest active volcano – may be next to blow. Some possibility that the whole island has been shifted.

USA: possible signs of incipient volcanism in southern California/Baja Mexico.

The Pumpkin – Issue 54. Postscriptum: Donny and Kimmy go to Love island… An enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in 100-dollar bills… Long Essay: Farage, the smoking gun?… GW: venturing out nervously in gumboots and respirator.)

…in terms of the scale of its human rights violations, North Korea ‘does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.’

“In its report, the commission said it had found evidence of ‘extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.’”Washington Post, quoting UN Commission on Human Rights 2014 report.

“Really, he’s got a great personality,” Trump (said). “He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart, he’s a great negotiator.” Trump added in the interview that what was not surprising was that Kim: “loves his people.” Kim’s citizens show great “fervor” for their leader. His country does love him.

“You see the fervor” the North Koreans have for Kim, he said. – The Hill

 

“Piss in our time!”

Postscriptum: Donny and Kimmy go to Love island

The Pumpkin has not yet read the full text of the heads of agreement signed by the two dictators in Singapore, as Fox News hostess Abby Huntsman has apologized for accidentally calling them. He doesn’t read much and is waiting for the cartoon version to come out, with maps.

However he notes that no mention seems to have been made, either of human rights violations (in either country) or of South Korea, and any intention to convert the 65-years old armistice into an actual peace treaty, which would have been a relatively simple objective to announce.

This was the “Me too” summit, a Love Island photo op for the two biggest, most fragile egos and the most crooked salesmen on the planet, stitching together a deal to validate their own authoritarian regimes for the consumption of their cowed and worshipful dumbfucks at home.

To put it another way, had they moved too far in the direction of peace and liberality, even if that was the intention, and not just Trump sensing new marketing opportunities (no mention either of the Trump Pyongyang hotel, casino and golf resort? Ed.), although he has praised the beaches and their opportunity for hotel developments, neither dictator could entirely rely on their “nuke ’em now” hawks not to stab them in the front when they get home.

Just sayin’.

PPS it looks like Kimmy got everything he wanted out of their tryst, with Donny now offering to lift sanctions and stop those huge joint military exercises (“expensive”) with the South Koreans, and his power to summon even the American President being made evident to his worshipful people.

“That’s good, then.”

x“With great change comes great opposition.”

An enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in 100-dollar bills

The triumphal Singapore love-fest draws near and Childe Donald, sulking over the disrespect six of the country’s leading international trading partners and global security allies have been showing him in Montreal – a G7 minus-one summit to which the mafioso man-infant turned up insultingly late and left an entire day early, before issuing a tirade of abusive tweets – goes all out to woo the headline writers with almost anything other than news of his henchmen’s indictments at the hands of the remorseless Bob Mueller, whom he seems to be outplaying daily on the PR front.

It’s worth reminding ourselves then that, whatever concessions he wins from Kimmy, or claims to have won, and whether or not the sainted fools of Stockholm award him their joke Peace prize, he is still “Trump”, the compulsive, narcissistically disordered “made-for-TV” cartoon business thug, and not someone to be regarded as normally presidential or creditworthy in any way.

Further evidence of his deep disrespect for the rule of law emerged last week at a meeting of the cabinet in a bunker-like, windowless room in the White House, where he commanded his subordinates to join him in offering their unstinting praise and admiration for his profoundly corrupt EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt – the Butcher of Oklahoma.

Pruitt’s sins pile upon him like Peleon on Mount Ossa. No sooner had we finished reeling from the news that he had ordered an aide to set up a mysterious meeting with the CEO of a fast-food chain called Chick-fil-A, possibly the world’s crappiest ever brand concept, only for it to leak out that the purpose was to use the power of his office to persuade the poor man to give Mrs Pruitt a restaurant franchise because they love the food so much, than we learn that he got his security detail to drive him around the neighborhood drugstores to hunt down a bottle of his favorite body-lotion, as available in Ritz-Carlton hotels; and spent $1500 buying $100 pens for his desktop.

Mr Pruitt has denied what was patently the case, that he waved through tens of thousands of dollars in unearned pay raises to two staffers he brought with him from his previous job as Attorney-General of Oklahoma. He has apparently also spent $3.5 million on additional security personnel, several motorcades above and beyond what his position entitles him to. He has incurred other non-legitimate expenses, such as the $43 thousand he spent on having a bug-proof phone booth installed in his office; blown who-knows how much on private, military and first-class flights for himself and Mrs Pruitt, $40 thousand on a beano with seven of his pet staffers purely for the purpose of persuading the Moroccan government to import propane gas from a private monopoly firm part-owned by a then-Trump cabinet member, the grizzled billionaire Carl Icahn – who was himself obliged to resign over a $30 million ‘windfall’ profit he made selling a company ahead of the President’s announcement on steel tariffs.

The monopoly bottled gas provider, Cheniere Co. of Houston, Texas, also happened to be a client of lobbying firm Williams & Jensen, from whose senior partner’s wife Mr Pruitt was notoriously renting a trashy Washington apartment for the princely sum of fifty bucks a night. Another W&J client is the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge, to whom Pruitt granted a controversial development permit last year. The New York Times reported (2 April, 2018):

“The signoff by the E.P.A. came even though the agency, at the end of the Obama administration, had moved to fine Enbridge $61 million in connection with a 2010 pipeline episode that sent hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and other waterways. The fine was the second-largest in the history of the Clean Water Act.”

An act which Pruitt has been instrumental in abolishing, along with the Clean Air Act and other Obama-era abominations.

Not only is Pruitt existentially shameless and an abuser of his office: he is also showing signs of being barking mad. Another aide is reported to have been briefed by him to investigate the possibility of buying a used mattress from a Trump hotel. Its purpose is yet to be disclosed, but might, The Pumpkin suggests over skinny lattes, involve DNA evidence. He also engages in paranoid secrecy:

“Breaking with all of his predecessors at the E.P.A. for the last 25 years, as well as other members of President Trump’s cabinet, he does not release a list of public speaking events and he discloses most official trips only after they are over. Mr. Pruitt doesn’t hold news conferences, and in one episode, journalists who learned of an event were ejected from the premises after an E.P.A. official threatened to call the police.” (NYT)

Mr Trump has asserted on several occasions that Mr Pruitt is doing “a great job” at the EPA, which still has 700 posts waiting to be filled, where there have been a number of high-profile resignations over his singular management style, and whose scientific research policy is now firmly in the control of energy-sector lobbyists and industry executives. It is not certain therefore what “great job” Mr Pruitt is specifically believed by the President to be doing, other than helping him to dismantle any and all protections previously accorded to the environment, turning America into one vast polluted, overheating shithole. (See GW, below.)

FOI requests from environmental groups such as the Sierra Club are continuing to turn up thousands of official emails demonstrating Pruitt’s extreme avoidance of public scrutiny and his ongoing relationships with large energy-sector corporations.

Pruitt’s grandiloquent response to all this unfounded criticism?

“With great change comes great opposition.”

You bet, Swamp-man.

(Did he get that quote from the i-kerChing? lolz. ed.)

 

Hangin’ up now….

As a little extra fillip to the story, Mr Trump’s fine-dining companion, the equally demented Fox News conspiracy-monger and slum landlord, Sean Hannity went on the record last week publicly urging anyone connected with the Trump administration to smash their cellphones before Mueller can subpoena them.

He hasn’t been arrested for obstructing justice, yet. I’d guess that darned old First Amendment makes a bonfire of Fox’s martyrs unlikely.

Nothin’ to see, move on….

Oh, while I have you on the line, not a lot has been reported in our supine media about the pits-to-pipelines Koch Brothers’ low-key divorce.

Clever workaholic Charles has forced dimmer brother David to take early retirement at 78. The New Yorker magazine reports it should make no difference to their meddling in US politics, just like Russians; a project on which the aged neoCons have lavished billions funding climate-change deniers and buying politicians like Paris Hilton buys chihuahuas.

David, said Charles, 82, with regret, has been “nodding off” in meetings lately and it’s time he settled down for the good of his health. Forbes magazine estimates that each brother (there are more, less famous Koch brothers minding the stove at home) is worth approximately 60 billion dollars, making them only the joint 9th richest men in America.

Way to go.

x

Long Essay

“…that leaves the question: if the Mercers, Banks and other disruptors financed this attempt at a paradigm shift in Western democracy, where do the Russians fit in?”

Farage: the smoking gun?

Whether or not the dogged Guardian/Observer reporter, Carole Cadwalladr brokered the latest twist in the story that she has been pursuing for two years, of where the money to fund the Leave tendency in the European referendum came from, both our most respected Sunday papers have carried front-page news of having “seen evidence” that UKIP founder, Mr Arron Banks, had many meetings at the Russian embassy in London prior to the Brexit vote.*

Not only that, but he was introduced, it’s said, by the ambassador himself to a “Russian businessman” who, in a fairytale twist, offered Banks the opportunity to invest in a company owning six gold mines in Russia. An investment which, it is alleged, Banks was told would net him “billions”. And Mr Banks went on record soon afterwards to vaguely indicate that he had some potential new interest with gold mines, although he now denies having any business interests in Russia.

Now, where have we heard that before? So many elements of this story echo statements, denials and ultimate revelations in America.

What gives the story some credibility is that Mr Banks does in fact partly own gold mines in South Africa, although it is said they are not all that productive. These, and his primary businesses of insuring motorcyclists and other uninsurable vehicle owners, were said to have made his personal net worth a modest £22 million.

OpenDemocracy.org however (and others) has been pursuing the financing of the Brexit vote too, and writes that the authorities in Gibraltar have been somewhat lackadaisically investigating reports that Banks’ businesses – registered there for tax purposes –  were so hard up, they were lending each other money in advance of their audits, in a game of corporate pass-the-parcel.

Somehow, nevertheless, it’s reported that Mr Banks managed to invest £12 million – over half his “net worth” – in funding and loans setting up Leave.EU, an unofficial campaigning vehicle commanded by Nigel Farage, MEP, that has been subjected lately to inquiries concerning some of its untraceable finances, funneled via Northern Ireland’s militant Protestant party, the DUP, who seem immune from investigation as a result of their £1.5 billion deal with the May government to boost her tiny Commons majority. Money well spent, given Mrs May’s close-run thing resisting Brexit amendments proposed by the House of Lords.

What all this is leading to, is the conclusion that Russians made substantial contributions to derailing Britain’s relationship to the European Union.

It is not really a surprising conclusion, but as Mr Banks now appears to have lied to Parliament about his connections with the Russian government, and has an opportunity shortly to go back before the toothless culture committee to set the record straight, we may be starting to understand something of the giant conspiracy that resulted in Britain’s fumbling, ill-advised attempts in a fast-changing global environment to withdraw from a complex raft of mutually supportive and largely useful treaties negotiated over many years with our European neighbours.

As Mr Banks is at the second stage of denial – so important is he, in his view, that he may have had “drinks” with the Russian ambassador a couple of times and exchanged a bit of bantz around the samovar – it may take a while, we lack the American dynamism, but clearing away the acrid smoke pouring from the blog of  the juvenile director of the rival official Vote Leave campaign, Mr Dominic Cummings (who, like Mr Trump, is having difficulty getting over the fact that he won), we should eventually get to the truth of how the referendum was fixed.

That will, of course, depend also on whatever is ultimately discovered about the role of Cambridge Analytica, Aggregate IQ and others in using stolen data to micro-target wavering voters with personalized anti-EU messages. A difficult process, depending as it does on whistleblowers competing with corporate liars, and egregious breaches of the Data Protection Acts of many nations.

(One wonders, too, who exactly is behind enormous data breaches, like that revealed by Dixon’s Carphone Warehouse this morning, of five million customer records; data theft that never seems to result in actual criminal actions but which presumably provides someone with a mass of consumer information?)

Multi-billionaire US hedge-fund manager and computer whizz, Bob Mercer gives no interviews and seemingly does not regard himself as a member of the human race, as he never responds to questions, but is alleged to have said at one time that he and his Sarah Palin-lookalike daughter Bekah were attempting to build a “radical free-market, small-government, home-schooling, antiliberal, gold-standard, pro-death penalty, anti-Muslim, pro-Christian, monetarist, anti-civil-rights political movement in the United States.” (London Evening Standard, 23 March, 2018.)

It seems they were also hoping to build one here.

Because if there is a “smoking gun” in the FBI and Justice Department investigations of Russian collusion and US corporate interference in the 2016 elections, it is Nigel Farage himself, declared last year a “person of interest”.

Farage is the obvious link, the go-between for disruptors hoping to swing the Brexit vote and the highly dodgy crew of chancers working with the Trump campaign. Funded by Banks, with cash from who-knows what source, Farage was connected with Mercer, of whom he was frequently said to be an unlikely “friend”; with Bannon and the Breitbart crowd; with Trump personally, at whose rallies he made over-the-top ultraconservative speeches and with whom he was gleefully photographed in the Golden Elevator at Trump Tower; and with Assange, whose Wikileaks organization fenced the data stolen by the Russian GRU from emails in the private files of Clinton, Podesta, Weiner and the Democratic party.

This veritable Zelig has popped up at every stage of the conspiracy on both sides of the pond. Perhaps he needs to be looked at more closely by the security establishment: unfortunately, despite the belated creation of the National Crime Agency, we have far weaker investigative bodies in this country even than in the United States; preferring to rely on 1940s “Dixon of Dock Green” community policing and barely sentient Parliamentary committees to solve immensely complex and sophisticated international crimes.

The Mercers of course funded Breitbart News, several of whose contributors, including the atavistic Hungarian neo-Nazi party supporter, Gorka the Gormless, and Bannon himself were injected by Mercer into the early Trump administration. They funded Cambridge Analytica, whose bullshitting fantasist Old Etonian CEO Stephen Nix has given up denying the testimony of his former executives that they stole data from the accounts of 87 million Facebook users in the USA, with the help of an Anglo-Russian computer analyst.

They also funded the Trump campaign, to the tune of many millions of dollars; giving the lie to his oft-repeated claim that because he was so rich, he was financing his own campaign. Of course he wasn’t.

But now the Mercers have withdrawn from the whole thing in disappointment, disavowing Bannon and the creeps and charlatans who conned them into supporting the Brexit and Elect Trump! conspiracies. It seems they are deeply disappointed in how liberal and progressive Trump has turned out to be. I wonder where they will turn their attentions next?

But that leaves the question: if the Mercers, Banks and other disruptors (see previous Posts) financed this attempt at a paradigm shift in Western democracy, where do the Russians come in? Were they in league?

You know, at this point my shoulders slump and I think maybe it’s time to walk the dog.

Seventeen US intelligence agencies signed their anonymous names to a report stating unequivocally that “Russia” was involved in hacking emails and in testing the water when it came to exploiting data from the voter rolls (possibly to assist the Republicans to edit the voter rolls in marginal wards) and possibly fixing the US’s poorly designed computerized voting lobbies. The FBI has asserted that they now have proof of over 60 contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian diplomatic/intelligence agencies and individuals during 2015/16. Contacts that were extensively lied about, even by the President himself.

Numerous media investigations have shown, pretty much beyond doubt, that Trump had business connections and aspirations in Moscow, and longstanding relations with corrupt oligarchs and property investors suspected of involvement with organized crime in Russia. The Special Counsel, Bob Mueller has indicted 14 Russian individuals and three companies in relation to election tampering and money-laundering, in association with Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, a sometime consultant to the ousted Ukrainian kleptocrat Victor Yanukovitch, who faces charges of money-laundering, acting as an undeclared foreign agent, witness-tampering and fraud.

Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Gen. Mike Flynn, has already been indicted on charges of lying to the FBI and acting as an undeclared foreign agent for, among others, Russian business interests. A special team on the Trump campaign tasked with tracing Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails was set up in the wake of the 6 June, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Jr, Manafort, Jared Kushner and a team of Russian money-laundering specialists, GRU agents and the Kremlin lawyer, Veselnitskaya – who later attended Trump’s inauguration. That team of hackers, one of them Russian-speaking, reported directly to Flynn.

Then there was the Steele dossier, a 35-page compendium of current allegations by Russian officials and MI6 assets in Moscow concerning the President, mostly prior to his candidacy, commissioned originally by the Never Trump! wing of the Republican campaign and then passed on to the FBI and the Democrat election committee. Most of it has checked out to be true, and led to gleeful media speculation that Trump is profoundly compromised, either by a sexual scandal or his huge debts to banks ultimately controlled by Putin – possibly both.

It’s all looking pretty murky.

When the name George Papadopoulos emerged early on as that of someone on the Trump team who had made a bargain with the Devil, the Mueller investigation, to lighten the charge against him of lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts, the general reaction was “George who?”

Mr Trump also expressed total ignorance of Mr Papadopoulos’ existence, until video emerged of a committee meeting at which the guy was plainly seated just four places down the table from the Orange Emperor himself. Trump then changed his story, claiming Papadopoulos was only the office boy who fetched the coffee.

In fact, and can we call him “P.” from now on, my fingers hurt, George P. is of importance in two significant ways.

P. claims he was approached in London early in 2016 by a mysterious “Bulgarian professor”, in fact an FSB agent who told him that over 30 thousand of Hillary Clinton’s private and official State Department emails had been deleted from a private server, and the Russians had gained knowledge of their existence. Later, while mildly drunk in a bar, P. says he let the story slip to a junior attache from the Australian embassy, who had passed it on via his superiors to Australian intelligence, who in turn told the FBI, thus triggering the Feds’ interest in the Trump campaign team’s contacts with the Russians – or the “witch hunt”, as Trump insists on dismissing it at every opportunity.

Nothin’ to see, folks. North Korea? Sure, why not?

Despite Trump’s latest conspiracy theory he can’t let go, that an FBI “spy” was in his camp during the summer of 2016, it seems loose-lipped, mildly drunken George P. was the man responsible for the whole can of worms, the “Russia thing” opening up. Perhaps.

Except that Dutch intelligence, I believe, and subsequently the Czechs, the French, the Germans, the Spanish and Britain’s GCHQ listening post had all intercepted and been monitoring calls between Trump associates Roger Stone, Carter Page, maybe also Michael Cohen, Flynn, Manafort and others, and Russian intelligence agents since the summer of 2015, and had told the FBI long before George P.’s leak, only for President Obama to tell them to sit on the story so as not to be seen to be interfering in the upcoming presidential election; thus giving Trump the plausible assertion that it was all a plot against him, cooked up by the criminal Clinton campaign.

Make of that what you will, it’s where the Pumpkin and I run into soft sand and head off for a cold beer.

The second area of interest in the boy, George may be that, far from being the office gopher, people have already forgotten in the never-ending melee of Trump-related bullcrap that P. was on the team originally as an environmental advisor. An alumnus of the powerful Hudson Institute, a notorious energy-industry-funded think-tank dedicated to burying climate-change science, George P. was working as a lobbyist for a Texas-based company, Noble Energy, in which Trump was reportedly a minor shareholder.

Now, Noble in turn was lobbying the Israeli government over a franchise to exploit natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of Israel – but more importantly, the coast of the Gaza strip, making the project a political and legal nightmare. The case was dragging slowly through the Israeli courts, and P.’s presence in the Trump/Kushner camp was clearly designed to use their personal connections with Netanyahu to speed things up; while Noble were also hoping to construct an undersea pipeline to Europe, via the Turkish end of Cyprus, bypassing Russian and Iranian-controlled Syria. Was that what Gen. Flynn’s PR company was being paid by a Dutch businessman with energy industry connections to lobby for with the Erdogan regime in Turkey?

As it turned out, the whole deal collapsed when Israel decided to sell its gas to Egypt instead.

The words Russia and Iran are, of course, synonymous with enormous gas reserves, Russia being the largest supplier of natural gas to Germany and western Europe. In addition to the strategic implications, both nations would, one imagines, be keen to stymie competition from Israeli and American interests in the region; while American and Israeli animus towards Russia’s ally, Iran, can be framed in terms of competition for global markets for their vital energy resource.

Neither your Uncle B. nor The Pumpkin has the brains to work out how all this fits together, so we’ve ordered another beer.

Back in London, languishing in the basement of the Ecuadorean embassy, a fugitive from an EU arrest warrant, which is probably why he was happy to work against them, is the Great White Worm, Assange – an arrogant, self-publicizing, self-pitying narcissist, another “friend” of Farage and fulcrum-point for all kinds of internet mischief.

His Wikileaks operation has, admittedly, broken some useful evidence (the Snowden files) of the other global conspiracy, that of the US “Deep State” and their intrusive surveillance operations, which we are slowly realizing are irreversibly intertwined with the commercial interests of the major internet service providers; hence, the theft of data from Facebook and its weaponization for political purposes.

Nevertheless it was Wikileaks that collaborated with the Russians and the Cambridge Analytica/Mercer nexus to undermine the Clinton presidential bid, with Farage – who “does not remember” the purpose of their meetings – acting as go-between for the Trump campaign and Assange.

And then to complete the Big Picture – more like an enormous, deflating barrage balloon – there are the activities of European alt-right, “white supremacist” Christian disruptors.

Some are plainly financed by Russian oligarchs allied both to the Kremlin and to the Orthodox Church; and from the money-laundering scams (mainly through overinflated property markets controlled by, among others, the Trump and Kushner families) of actors like Deutsche Bank, to whom Trump allegedly owes a third of a billion dollars; and Bank of Cyprus, formerly owned by ex-Deutsche Bank chairman Joseph Ackermann and – among other major investors, mostly Russian -Trump family ‘consiglieri’ and now US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross.

Another of BoC’s investors, Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, the “Fertilizer King”, was involved in a suspicious Florida property deal that netted Trump a clear $45 million, and seems to have attended at least one of Trump’s election rallies; the one at which he went off-script to announce that the USA would not, under his presidency, be arming the Ukraine government forces against the Russians. (He now says he feels sure he would only have to ask Vladimir privately to leave the Ukraine alone, and he would.)

And among these white European disruptors, as the BogPo has reported before, are several deeply conservative British “millionaire businessmen” like Banks, with anti-Islamic Russian and other East European connections – Banks’ wife is Russian – like Jim Dowson, and other wealthy, self-interested business tycoons and investment managers with declared hostility to the European Union, its supposedly repressive legislative, anti-business, pro-tax regime, its equality agenda promoting women and gays, and its willingness to tolerate a large Muslim presence in our midst.

It’s a vast and rambling conspiracy to defraud the voters of Britain, the USA and other countries where we have seen the fingerprints of Russian interference in democratic processes – with the proviso that Russia is not the only bad actor in this scene, there are these traitors in our midst, imagining that their duty is to cleanse the Augean stables: the obsession of authoritarian paranoiacs down the ages.

I doubt there is even a mastermind behind it: it’s rather a movement of the wealthy against the poor, the degenerates and the despised “ethnic minorities”, planning to leave themselves in command of a depleted but nonetheless still materially gratifying world redesigned for their kind: powerful, white and Christian.

And there bobbing about like a cork at the heart of it all is Farage, although he claims now to be hors de combat and is making self-pitying noises about being separated, broke and soon to be jobless. While the UK media puzzles over the emerging evidence of a Russian connection to Brexit, few people as yet seem to be joining the dots and realizing it is all connected; and that the real collusion with Russia has been that involving the billionaires who control our data.

If there is a smoking gun proving collusion between Trump and the Russians, it’s Farage, the man in the Golden Elevator.

Going down?

Now I think another beer is in order.

*According to Private Eye, sometime Sunday Times hackette, Isobel Oakeshott, author of the Brexit Bad Boys, a semi-biography of Banks, had been sitting on evidence of his visits to the Russian embassy for several months and was pissed off when Cadwalladr broke the story, so she gave the info to the ST as a spoiler.

Miaow.

Writing in the Guardian, Monday 11 June, Matthew D’Ancona says:

“We have known for two years that Arron Banks, the pro-Brexit tycoon, and his closest henchman, Andy Wigmore, visited the Russian embassy in November 2015, just as we have long been aware of the links between Leave.EU and the Trump campaign. What has now been revealed is the sheer scale of these contacts – including a lunch between Banks, Nigel Farage and Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador, just three days after the Leave.EU team had been granted an audience with president-elect Trump in November 2016.

“It appears that there were multiple meetings between Banks, Wigmore and senior Russian officials between 2015 and 2017. … This does not seem, in other words, to be routine schmoozing or glad-handing. It has the whiff of a nexus, suggesting a purpose, or multiple purposes.”

x

Wailing and gnashing

“Greetings from Amazon.co.uk.

“We are writing to confirm that we are processing your refund in the amount of £10.79 for your Order from Amazon US. This amount has been credited to your payment method and will appear when your bank has processed it. This refund is for the following item(s): (etc.)

“Reason for refund: Damaged during transit.”

But I have not asked for a refund! I have not yet received the Order! There must be some mistake! The Order (a rare Chet Baker album) was only dispatched last night for 20 June delivery! I have no idea whether the Order has been damaged in transit or not!

And Amazon offers you no way to contact them to ask what the fuck is going on, other than an infuriating “we put the words in your mouth” FAQ. (Was this helpful? No. Well, tough, thanks for the info, we will use jt to improve our services.” Cunts!

Jeff Fucking World’s Richest Man Baldy Bezos, are you there? Hello, anyone? Help!

x

GW: venturing out nervously in gumboots and respirator

Pacific: The Western Hemisphere’s first major event of 2018 is Hurricane Aletta. “Aletta put on a remarkable display of rapid intensification overnight Thursday (7 June), with the winds increasing by 70 mph in just 24 hours. Aletta was merely a tropical storm with 70 mph winds at 11 am EDT Thursday, but by Friday at 11 am, the hurricane had morphed into a fierce Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds.” Its forecast track is out into the colder waters of the Pacific with little chance of it making landfall anywhere; although an identical feature is forming just a few hundred miles behind. It’s the sixth earliest Cat 4/5 ever recorded in the Eastern Pacific basin, kicking off aways from the coast of Mexico. (The Weather Channel)

Gulf of Mexico: On the other side, a relatively low-key storm now blowing between the Yucatan peninsula and Cuba has a terrifying prognosis, a possible repeat of last year’s “super-soaker” Hurricane Harvey. Several NOAA hurricane center models show it picking up rotation in the Gulf, developing winds up to 120 mph with a huge precipitation potential, as a very slow moving Cat 3 or 4 hurricane stalling for possibly 24 hours over the Texas/Louisiana coastline at Beaumont by next Saturday pm, 16 June. (Satellite forecast as noticed by weather blogger, MrMBB333)

…. 11 June: “Mexico’s weather service warned yesterday of storms, heavy rain and strong winds … as Tropical Storm Bud intensified into a (115 mph) hurricane. Coastal areas were also warned of storm surge of up to 3 metres. Severe weather affected parts of Jalisco state in Mexico during the afternoon of 10 June. Areas around the city of Guadalajara were the worst affected. Around 65 mm of rain fell in just a few hours on Sunday afternoon. Elsewhere, heavy rain was recorded in the state of Guerrero, where 97 mm of rain fell in 24 hours.” (edited from Floodlist) (This is the system closely following Aletta, on Mexico’s east coast. Its forecast track takes it straight up the Baja peninsula towards California.)

Africa: The death toll from heavy rain and flooding across Kenya, where it has been raining since March, has risen to 186. An estimated 800,000 people have been affected by flooding. As many as 300,000 people have been displaced and nearly 100 injured, … heaviest rain recorded in 50 years. (edited from Floodlist)

China: Up to 250 mm rain from Typhoon Ewiniar in 24 hrs triggered landslides in the city of Yunfu, causing houses to collapse, killing 5 people. 1 person is still missing. 73 thousand people were evacuated ahead of the storm. Ewiniar made landfall in Hainan and Guangdong earlier in the week, bringing heavy rain and strong winds. It then moved back into the South China sea before making a third landfall, again in Guangdong, on 07 June. The storm had earlier caused heavy rain in parts of Vietnam, with landslides and flooding. (edited from Floodlist)

Europe: Severe weather, including heavy rain and flooding, has continued in France and at least 2 people are thought to have died in the last two days. After hitting northern areas, in particular Brittany and Normandy, earlier this week, flooding has now affected areas of southwestern France. Heavy rain from 05 to 06 June caused major flooding in parts of northeastern Spain. Emergency services in Catalonia received over 300 calls for assistance during 06 June. (edited from Floodlist)

Arctic: UK Business Insider reports (08 June):

“The Trump administration said on Thursday it would spend $4 million on construction projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in preparation for oil drilling in the nation’s biggest wildlife park.

“The tax-overhaul bill passed by the U.S. Congress last December includes a provision mandating two oil lease sales, each offering at least 400,000 acres (161,874.26 hectares), within seven years.

“The 19-million-acre (7.7 million-hectare) Arctic refuge, the largest in the U.S. national wildlife refuge system, contains some of the wildest territory in North America.”

Your Granny wonders idly, which of many scandals, tweets, Mueller indictments and presidential gaffes covered in the fake news media last Thursday enabled the EPA to bury that news?

Boglington-on-Sea: Guys, it’s been really hot here. Occasional light shower, but mostly sun the past six weeks. Not normal for Wales!

x

Terminal news

Hawaii: A USGS report on the Mount Kilauea eruption reveals that “6 to 9 million cubic meters of magma” is spewing DAILY from Fissure 8 alone, and the event could continue for years or decades, presumably rendering much of Big Island uninhabitable, while producing a new island off the coast. Many people evacuated over the past few weeks will never be able to go home.

The island’s second largest freshwater lake has been boiled dry by a lava flow. Acid rain is killing off swathes of forest and vegetation cover. The vast crater within the caldera of the main volcano is collapsing in on itself, with accompanying explosions. A new eruption on Thursday morning (7 June) accompanied by a M5.6 quake produced a 10 thousand feet-high ash cloud and filled the air with tiny particles of glass, triggering a warning to residents to get indoors. (Mary Greeley/ Dutchsinse/ News US/ USGS)

Southern Africa: 9 of the only 60 known oldest Baobab trees in the world have died, prompting speculation that the changing climate is making conditions too harsh for them. The iconic, oddly-shaped, flowering trees were between 1,500 and 2,500 years old and the largest reached 100 feet in height and 35 meters in girth. (Guardian, citing Nature Plants journal)

Nature Bats Last: in his latest podcast, the world’s most depressing – and terminally depressed – man, professor emeritus of natural resources and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona (suspended from teaching!), Dr Guy McPherson warns us that the coming financial crash – September is the favorite time for financial crashes – will so reduce global industrial activity that the protective blanket of smog around the earth will rapidly fade away, leaving us exposed to the full glare of the sun, as it did for three days when commercial aviation was suspended in the aftermath of 9/11. Runaway warming will ensue within days, he advises, wiping out all life on earth.

We have four months remaining of human history.

If you’re still not depressed, follow this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03kwgj0

 

 

 

 

 

Brexit means sod it… It’s Magic: How to become President of the United States of Amerika… Close down the immigration functions of the Home Office. They are not fit for purpose.GW: kickin’ up a storm… Fantasy fiction

“After one of the coldest Aprils in U.S. history, last month delivered a stunning switch—the warmest May for the contiguous U.S. in records going back to 1895. May came in at 5.21°F above the 20th-century average….” – The Weather Channel.  More fun weather stories from Granny Weatherwax, down the page!

 

“Dear Theresa, don’t say we didn’t warn you about a No-deal Brexit.”. From: Michael, and all at ‘Inter-ministerial Preparedness’, c/o The Bunker, Whitehall, London SW1.

Brexit means sod it…

In one scenario, “not even the worst”,

“…the port of Dover will collapse on day one. The supermarkets of Cornwall and Scotland will run out of food within a couple of days, and hospitals will run out of medicines within two weeks. … Officials would have to charter planes to airlift medicines into the country, and within a fortnight petrol would also be in short supply. … Meanwhile, EU agreements on everything from medicines regulation to aviation govern key aspects of everyday life, and it has not yet been agreed whether, and how, Britain could continue to benefit from them as a “third country”.

Thus, The Observer, quoting a rival Sunday Times interview with an unnamed “civil servant” from a Whitehall department close to the inter-ministerial group on Preparedness, calling herself presumptuously “M. Gove, Prime Minister-in-Waiting” – who has revealed something of the contingency plans being drawn up in secret by the Government in the event of a ‘No-deal’ Brexit, for which the libertarian self-help neo-Thatcherite hard-cases and swivel-eyed Empire loyalists in the Tory party are again pressing in the absence of any detectable progress on the Irish border issue – or, indeed, on anything.

The worst-case scenario, by the way, is described as ‘Armageddon”. For which, read: “Boris becomes Prime Minister”.

A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: “These claims are completely false. … none of this will come to pass.”

“Come to pass”? Now that’s a pretty Biblical choice of phrasing.

Apocalyptic, even.

x

Alone at last.

Magic: How to become President of the United States of Amerika

Simples. You bullshit your way past the low-bar credulity of the average US voter.

Here’s how it works, as exemplified in a BBC News feature about the great mid-20th century (and first star TV) magician, Sorcar:

“Sorcar was born Protul Chandra Sarkar on 23 February 1913 in the village of Ashekpur in Bengal. At school, he excelled in maths … but his real calling was magic. Changing his name to Sorcar – it sounded like “sorcerer” – he started performing in clubs, circuses and theaters.
“Still a complete unknown outside a few cities in Bengal, he decided to call himself “The World’s Greatest Magician” … The ploy worked. Invitations started to pour in from across the country.”

Yes, it really is that easy. People will go along with whatever you tell them, they have too much to worry about already without doubting that you are the world’s greatest ever Presidential candidate, if you say it often enough.

“‘Trump’ was born Donald J Trumplestiltskin 111 in Queen’s, New York, on June whatever, 1946, the son of a respected property developer and founding member of the Ku Klux Klan, Manhattan chapter. His immigrant grandfather, Herr Professor Doktor Friedrich von-und-zu Drumpfelstiltskin was a respected German draft dodger and brothel-keeper. The family changed their name to sound more American.
“At school he excelled at smuggling women into the dorm, but his real calling was lying about that. Still known only as a respected reality show host and serial bankrupt, he embarked on a career as a professional liar. Unsuccessful at first, he eventually succeeded in persuading a sufficient minority of US voters that migrants were animals and he would Make America Great Again.”

Your Uncle Bogler has taken close note of the career trajectory of “Sorcar”, who made a name for himself in Britain during the 1950s in a single memorable night by pretending that his pièce de resistance, sawing a lady in half in plain sight, had gone hideously wrong in front of a screaming television audience of several thousand future PTSD cases.

The exiled Russian journalist, Arkady Babchenko, similarly became famous for 15 minutes last week when, at the suggestion of Ukrainian Intelligence agents, he was revealed to have participated in a fake assassination of himself in order to help them catch the real Smersh hitman they believed was coming from Moscow to rub him out.

In a neat reversal of the Sorcar trick, he miraculously resurrected himself three days later in Kiev, in front of a screaming and fainting TV studio audience, much to the disgust of the world’s journalistic community, who had hoped he really was dead so they could write about another evil Russian plot to exterminate Putin’s critics.

I have decided therefore to rebrand myself as “The World’s Most Insightful Bogler”, although I have yet to decide whether to fake my own death or stage my own resurrection, or maybe run for President.

See what happens.

Can’t hurt.

 

Close down the immigration functions of the Home Office. They are not fit for purpose.

The Home Office has just rejected my husband’s application for a leave to remain and work in the UK visa, stating: “In regards to the care of your child you have provided no compelling evidence that her welfare in the UK could not be maintained to a sufficient level in the absence of your partner.”

Thus runs a petition we’ve received seeking another 20 thousand signatures to force a Parliamentary debate on the immorality of breaking up families purely on nationalistic grounds.

The letter further goes on to suggest impertinently that if the petitioner wishes to continue her teacher training unencumbered, she could foist the child onto her mother.

This is carrying conventional State-sanctioned abuse beyond parody. Britain is becoming more like Nazi Germany, worse perhaps Arizona, the nearer we draw to the final act of betrayal of our European partners.

Ausweise, bitte.

I’m wondering, not for the first time, why anyone in their right mind would want to live here? Certainly, if the Home Office were to offer me 100 thousand pounds to leave, I would happily make space for an immigrant, his or her dog and cat tomorrow.

Why Parliament needs to be forced to a debate on such an issue is a moot question.* It is only one of thousands of desperate injustices perpetrated by the cowardly bullies at the Home Office that have been coming to light since the ghastly Theresa May’s six-year regime there, that make us all thoroughly proud to be British. Mr John Crace, the parliamentary sketch writer of The Guardian, wittily dubbed Mrs May “The Maybot”. I suspect beneath the caricature of an automaton performing to a program he correctly senses her for what she is: a Frankenstein patchwork creature, a cypher without a soul.

That some deeply unpleasant little stamp-wallah – probably an immigrant themselves – should seek to split up a couple who have been legally married in the UK for eight years, the mother is British, the child is British – he is not a “partner” – who are merely seeking to confirm their residential status, and force the poor woman on to the barely exigent mercies of the State, which we had thought disapproves of unwed mothers, merely because her husband lacks the necessary piece of paper to stay with her, is an outrage – a bureaucratic crime, for which Mr Sajid Javed or whatever the name of the follically challenged son of a Pakistani bus driver is, should be arraigned before a properly constituted committee and his little brown balls torn off.

Although this case started, I suppose, under the auspices of his short-lived predecessor, the financial whizz Amber Rudd (see Private Eyes passim for enlightening information as regards her business dealings).

We laugh at the USA under the corrupt oaf, Trump, do we not, his vile prejudices and his heartless diktats, the licensed brutalities of his ICE immigration gestapo.

Are we any better?

These dreadful apparatchiks at the Home Office need to be prised from their brown faux-leather seats, to which they are stuck by some foul-smelling secretion,  and sent to a quite uncomfortable camp in the bleak Welsh countryside, to be “re-educated” in our decent, civilized, liberal British values.

What’s left of them.

*Yes, I know what a ‘moot’ is. It was a pun.

x

GW: kickin’ up a storm

Once again it is necessary only to republish just the menu of video clips of extreme weather events around the world from the most recent issue of Climate and Extreme Weather News (#125, 05 June) to understand the gravity of the situation, so without apology:

Germany: Magdeburg, Schoningen, Betzdorf, Saarland, Soest & Gronau flash floods Belgium: Liege flash floods Luxembourg: Mullerthal & Waldbillig flash floods Austria: Burgenland floods France: Gougenheim & Morlaix flash floods Spain: Tordomar, Socovos & Antzuola flash floods Georgia: Rustavi flood Russia: Saransk & Kazan windstorms The USA: North Carolina flash floods & mudslides; The Ute Park Fire & The 416 Fire Guatemala: Retalhuleu flash flood Mexico: Heatwave India: Storms & floods Indonesia: Tolitoli flood China: Inner Mongolia wildfires & Hong Kong heatwave Malaysia: Penampang flood Yemen: Sanaa flash floods…

It goes on, and on.

USA: “Devastating wildfires have ripped through Durango, Colorado this weekend, burning more than 2,000 acres in a 24-hour period. Mandatory evacuations have been issued in the region after 1,900 homes are threatened by raging blaze.”

And a massive fire in Colfax County, New Mexico, had grown to 27,290 acres by Saturday morning and was 0% contained, according to InciWeb. Nearly 450 personnel were battling that fire. A mandatory evacuation order was in place for the town of Cimarron, where 296 structures were threatened by the blaze, called the Ute Park Fire, InciWeb said. CNN.

“Since 1970, the annual average number of wildfires larger than 1,000 acres has more than doubled in the western U.S. The typical wildfire season has also stretched by about two and a half months longer over that time. U.S. forests sucked up approximately 250 million metric tons of carbon in 2010, offsetting more than 15 percent of all of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions. Wildfires threaten to turn forests from a carbon sink into a source of emissions by releasing that stored carbon into the atmosphere.” – WX Shift.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has declared a state of emergency in eight counties affected by flooding from heavy rains. National Weather Service Charleston, WV, said that saturated soils and continued rainfall are leading to flash and other forms of flooding across the West Virginia mountains, adding that “this is a life threatening situation for many folks who have had their fill of rain.”

Two massive storm systems have merged over the Texas/Louisiana coast, and there’s a potential Cat 3 hurricane brewing (from weather-watcher, MrMBB333). “An American Airlines plane was forced to make an emergency landing Sunday night in El Paso, Texas, after a hailstorm damaged the windshield. One of the pilots said they could barely see as Flight 1897 flew into the storms in southern New Mexico before having to turn around.” (The Weather Channel) (Actually a photo shows the damage was to the nosecone, which contains the navigation equipment, and was largely missing.)

In Mexico, a heatwave has reportedly hit 50 deg. C (122F) with temperatures persisting in the high 40s over five states, although across the country May as a whole was not the hottest on record; unlike El Norte, where May turned out more than 5 deg. F. above the 20th century average for the contiguous United States.

Guatemala: as if the devastating eruption of Mt Fuego, causing hundreds of casualties, was not enough, there’s also been flash flooding in the city of Retalhuleu after torrential rain. At the site of the volcano, the thick ash deposit that has buried whole villages is turning to concrete in the rain.

France: “Parts of Eure department in Normandy recorded 70 mm of rain during the night, 04 to 05 June. AFP reports that a man was found dead, drowned in his vehicle in Piseux, Eure department earlier today. This is the second major flood event in France in the last 2 days. A storm that hit Brittany caused severe flooding. Fire and emergency crews were called out to over 450 incidents, over half of them in the town of Morlaix. Social media showed flood water raging through the streets (after) around a month’s worth of rain fell in less than an hour. The Jarlot river that runs through Morlaix reached its highest ever level.” (edited from Floodlist report)

Spain: “Torrential rain in parts of southern Spain from 02 to 03 June caused severe flooding in Valencia, Albacete and Murcia provinces. 116.8 mm of rain fell on Valencia in 24 hours. Roads and tunnels were flooded and transport severely disrupted. Firefighters rescued 3 people trapped in their car in rising flood water. In the province of Albacete, El Gallego recorded 180 mm of rain in 24 hours, according to local observers. (edited from Floodlist report)

Bulgaria: Over 70 mm of rain fell in 24 hours (04 June) in the port city of Varna on the Black Sea coast, flooding streets and causing severe traffic disruption. “…the city would normally see 46 mm of rain during the whole of June.” (from Floodlist)

Russia: the cities of Saransk and Kazan have been hit by ferocious windstorms ripping off roofs and overturning cars. Siberian Times (22 May) reports 40 injured in “hurricane-force winds – worst-hit were Chelyabinsk, Kurgan and Yekaterinburg in the Urals, with Tyumen suffering a spectacular sandstorm.” Temperatures in the north have been in the high 20s C (79 F). Reports from the former Soviet state of Tajikistan on the Afghan border say that 6 people drowned in floods and mudslides in late May after torrential rain – the third such incident since 2015.

Siberian Times also reports on the mystery deaths of “thousands” of reindeer in Yamalo-Nenets (“an area twice the size of Germany”). The proximate cause appears to be rain falling on frozen ground and snowfields, coating their forage in ice, so that they starve; however an underlying reason may be a pandemic caused by anthrax spores released by the summer melting of the permafrost.

India: 17 people have been killed in the state of Uttar Pradesh after more wind and dust storms brought on by the intense heat caused houses and trees to collapse. The death toll from these storms in northern India has reached 150 since 01 May. In the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram at least 10 people died when a building was swept away by a landslide triggered by heavy rains. … “a flash flood on 03 June washed away a temporary bridge over the river Tuirini in the northern part of Aizawl district, cutting off 37 villages.” (Floodlist, citing Times of India)

China: 4 thousand draftees have been battling up to 14 wildfires that broke out in primeval mountain forest in Mongolia on 01 June, caused by lightning strikes and fanned by hot, dry winds. Hong Kong has received more heat advisories after beating a previous record of 13 consecutive days over 33 deg. C, 91F. Two storms brewing in the S China sea are expected to ‘blow away’ the heat over the weekend.

Vietnam: “at least” 1 person has died and properties have been damaged by heavy rain causing flooding and landslides as Tropical Cyclone Ewinar passes over the country. Warnings are out for several southerly Chinese provinces. Thousands of hectares of rice crops are again disrupted by flooding. (from Floodlist, 07 June, citing official sources.)

CEWN #125/ Floodlist/

x

Fantasy fiction

Writing on the possible collapse of the “carbon bubble” – a phrase implying the rapid withdrawal of investment in fossil fuels – Fiona Harvey, “Environment correspondent” for The Guardian, informs us that:

“Separately, an analysis in Nature Energy forecast that global energy demand would be about 40% lower than today by 2050, despite rises in population and income, and a growing global economy. The authors found that such a scenario would allow the world to stay within 1.5C of warming, the aspirational goal set under the Paris agreement.”

It’s going to have to be a good trick, that, since we are already at well over 1.5 degrees of warming and there is scant possibility that the present civilizational paradigm can hold together in the face of growing food insecurity and rising temperatures until 2050, always assuming the worst predictions of the Extinction 2030 group of scientists haven’t already happened by then.

The necessary preconditions for 8 to 10 degrees of warming are already in place, cannot be reversed, and such an outcome is not survivable by a population of, by then, 10 billion people, all demanding food, protection from pandemics and a higher standard of living with a “growing economy”. There is little prospect either of rising incomes, that in general have not progressed since the financial crash – another may be imminent.

Analysts who write absurd papers like that require psychiatric help.

 

Happy landings

Hawaii: Kilaueia’s vast caldera is reportedly collapsing under its own weight, at a rate of 5 ft a day, into the void left by its magma draining out underground, still popping up in people’s gardens 25 miles away as mass evacuations take place. More earthquakes have rocked the even huger Mt Mauna Loa to the north, the world’s largest active volcano, but these have now stopped (05 June) Good sign? A new cone is forming on the side of Pu’u o’o. Big Island has experienced over 4 thousand earthquakes since the eruptions began last month.

Still on a geological tack, there’s more activity at Mt St Helen’s in Washington State, where 64 people were killed in a devastating eruption in 1980. The magma dome inside the crater is starting to rise again.

Yellowstone: the Steamboat geyser went off again at the weekend, the 9th eruption this year – previous annual record 3, in 2003. Webcam at Old Faithful geyser viewing point shaking violently with earth tremors. (Mary Greeley)

And Mount Fire (Fuego) in Guatemala erupted without warning on Sunday, killing possibly “dozens” of villagers on its slopes; enough, that is, to feature on the news; while ‘Dutchsinse’, the St Louis-based amateur geologist with an 80% or better record of predicting the locations and size of earthquakes, has drawn attention to the unusual number of magnitude 5 earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in virtually all the “usual” locations around the Pacific rim including California and New Zealand, and a cluster of deep M3 or larger quakes around the Aegean running through Turkey into Iran, portending possibly larger activity to come.

Express/ CNN/ Dutchsinse/ BBC News/ Floodlist/

The Pumpkin – Issue 53: Fork handles… “I just want to bang my daughter”… “Don’t worry, there’s not going to be a hurricane…” … GW: Off to the seaside wiv’ me bucket ‘n spade… No Fly Zone.

“And my new range of Trump underpants will be produced by some very fine workers in Pyongyang. The finest, best-pressed Y-fronts, believe me.”

 

“Could we possibly tax Trump himself when he arrives, as an unwanted import?”

Fork handles

In the wake of President Trump’s cretinous imposition of trade tariffs on the US’s own allies (but not so much on China? Oh, no, he’s gone and done that now. They’ll be wanting the money back…), Canada, Mexico and the EU are threatening retaliation. According to BBC News, in addition to steel and aluminum:

“Canada also plans a 10% tariff on more varied items:

  • Yoghurt, soya sauce, strawberry jam, “mixed condiments”, pizza and quiche
  • Orange juice, whiskies, coffee, soups and waters
  • Manicure and pedicure products, hair lacquers, shaving foam, toilet paper and dishwasher detergents
  • Playing cards, felt-tipped pens, inflatable boats, lawnmowers and sleeping bags

“The list, published by the Department of Finance, also includes a tariff on candles…” Although birthday-cake candles are sweetly exempt, demonstrating the moral difference between Canadians and Americans.

Then, the Washington Post reports, “The Mexican government said it would target U.S. exports of pork bellies, apples, cranberries, grapes, certain cheeses and various types of steel. ”

Pork bellies. Hairspray. Felt-tipped pens. Candles. It’s all proof, if proof were needed, that America makes and exports absolutely nothing of any value. The list reveals an obsession with consumerist junk, nothing more. You can scrap the whole fucking list, and maybe help save the planet, if not your corner drugstore.

The Pumpkin has racked his brains to come up with anything the US produces that we could slap punitive tariffs on as a reprisal here in Britain. Obviously, Coke and Pepsi, although they’re brewed here under license, like Ford cars. Anyway, we’ve already slapped a sugar tax on them. Star Wars prequels (made in UK?), pitiful “superhero” movies… Meghan Markle?

Could we possibly tax Trump himself when he arrives, as an unwanted import? His quasi-state visit will cost the taxpayer a fortune in absurd displays of willy-bragging Imperial security measures, we should claw some of it back.

What value would you put on him?

Over in Brussels, Herr Juncker can manage to find only bourbon, Levi jeans and Harley Davidson motorbikes to tax, a combination more suggestive of his own mid-life crisis than of official EU trade policy.

No-one of course has dared to mention Boeing aircraft, Lockheed-Martin’s problematic F-35 fighter planes, Microsoft Office, Google and Raytheon cruise missiles. A 45% import tariff on US-made arms sales might go some way toward mitigating Trump’s horrendous foreign policy blunders. (But please leave Amazon alone, I buy a lot of jazz recordings off them!) A tax on phenomenally expensive and more-or-less compulsory software might reduce our dependence on malevolent technology and its evil wizards.

Does he even know, the vast majority of “imported, cheap, subsidized Japanese cars” he hates for stealing American jobs are in fact made in America, by American workers, who will lose their jobs BECAUSE of his tariffs? Too many US manufacturing companies are industrial dinosaurs, that will go to the wall behind his protective screens. It’s investment they need, not share-ramping buybacks by tax-cut glutted shareholders.

Jesus, he’s so dumb. Why did that preening little prick he fired, Scaramucci go on BBC radio today to defend him? What secret hold does the demented old thug have over this ambitious crew of maladjusted ratbags?

 

“I just want to bang my daughter”

The following story has been lifted pretty wholesale from The Young Turks’ YouTube news discussion channel, 01 June, and is verified by a short piece in The Guardian:

“Nathan Larson, a 37-year-old accountant from Charlottesville, Virginia (site of last year’s notorious antisemitic neo-Nazi rally), is running for Congress as an independent candidate in his native state.

“He is also a pedophile, as he admitted to the Huffington Post on Thursday, who has bragged in website posts about raping his late ex-wife” (He’s also an avowed white supremacist who says he admires Adolf Hitler, who never, so far as we know, raped anybody.)

“In a phone call, Larson confirmed that he created the now-defunct websites suiped.org and incelocalypse.today ― chatrooms that served as gathering places for pedophiles and violence-minded misogynists like himself.

“HuffPost contacted Larson after confirming that his campaign website shared an IP address with these forums, among others. His sites were terminated by their domain host on Tuesday.

“On the phone, he was open about his pedophilia and seemingly unfazed about his long odds of attaining government office:

“’A lot of people are tired of political correctness…’ (he said)”

He goes on to compare women with animals and to argue that sex-slavery at least allows them some freedoms. It gets almost unrepeatably silly, into the realms of caricature, as no real human being, not even psychotic mass killers like Ted Bundy, Ian Brady, Peter Sutcliffe or the late Dennis Nilsen, actually thinks or talks like this.

Larson is either another revolting. self-publicizing. whining alt-right narcissist, a more way-out Milo Yannopoulos reared on Ayn Rand’s disturbing sub-Nietzschean philosophy of unprincipled self-interest, an extreme sociopath who should be locked away for life and kept muzzled in case he bites; or he is just a troll, taking the piss in order to draw attention to the seeming invulnerability and gross popular appeal of Donald Trump in today’s “anything goes” America.

Since acquiring office, the President has virtually licensed this kind of ultra-extreme attitudinizing through, for instance, his support of pedophile candidate Roy Moore, the shit-for-brains newly retired comedienne Roseanne Barr and the racist abuser, “Sheriff” Joe Arpaio; statements about many neo-Nazis being “good people”; his employment of so many accused wife-beaters; claims that undocumented migrants are mere “animals” (as if animals have no rights); his evident Islamo-, Hispano-, homo- and trans-phobic prejudices, his obsessional abuse of Hillary Clinton (the ultimate unavailable woman) and his acknowledgement that his religious-right dumbfuck support-base is willing to forgive almost any monstrous conduct on his part in order to reinstate their imaginary white Christian caliphate and bring about The Rapture.

Not surprisingly, Larson’s wife committed suicide, and he has lost custody of their daughter, three years old, who, he says airily, he just wants to “bang”. He complains he can’t get another girlfriend. Not many people seem to think he’s going to win the seat, unless it’s an electrified one.

Yet not many people gave the grossed-up, abrasive, made-for-TV cartoon businessman character and cheater at golf, “Donald Trump”, a cat in hell’s chance of winning the presidency, a totally transparent old fraud, a superannuated playboy, and look what happened to that.

Only in America, we sigh wearily.

 

Give us your dosh

Appealing for money to carry on their campaign, OpenDemocracy.org cites the following story they’ve recently been pursuing, about the London Evening Standard essentially selling its news content for a one-off fee of £3 million to three giant US corporations. It sounds like a good wheeze, frankly, as the Standard hasn’t been a real newspaper for many years.

“George Osborne’s London Evening Standard newspaper has just sold ‘money can’t buy’ (clearly it can. Ed.) positive coverage to Uber, Google and other commercial giants – leaving millions of Londoners unaware of who’s paying for their news. OpenDemocracy broke the story about the brazen £3 million deal, which blurs the critical line between news and advertising – but here’s what shocked us most.

“Before publishing, we asked politicians from all major UK parties to speak about the story ‘on the record’. None would. They were too afraid of the power that Osborne’s newspaper wields – several even admitted this to us. We also offered a national broadsheet paper the chance to cover our scoop, exclusively, ahead of publication. They turned us down. We don’t know why.”

I hope they won’t mind me retweeting or whatever I’m doing with this story by reprinting just part of the appeal, but if it’s true it deserves to be out there and not buried by snowflake politicians – it’s only the fucking Evening Standard, Evgeny Lebedev’s personal social diary, it has no influence, nobody outside the M25 beltway gives a fuck what that smarmy cunt Osborne thinks – and the Guardian, which is presumably hoping to break the story themselves as they’re also desperate for money, so much so that they only write as if they’re a broadsheet, the famously pleasing and distinctive Berliner format having gone tacky tabloid in March.

Next thing, Kath Viner will be switching the font to cheaper Comic Sans.

Your BogPo (incorporating The Pumpkin) has on occasion appealed entirely fruitlessly for some financial support from somewhere, anywhere. We do so again, as we needs a new laptop thing on account of an act of pardonable domestic abuse against this recalcitrant and misbegotten little HP bugger, with its disappearing lettering.

Psst – wanna buy some nooze?

x

“Don’t worry, there’s not going to be a hurricane…”

Thus, BBC weatherman Michael Fish, just before a 100 mph cyclone trashed the south of England in 1987. But, technically, it wasn’t a hurricane….

While the public can get quite excited and terrified at the thought of a hurricane, a deadly and impressive-looking extreme weather event of which the world sees perhaps only 30 to 40 a year – in the Pacific they’re called typhoons – other kinds of storms can be just as lethally destructive, but aren’t perhaps as exciting or newsworthy.

One exception is “Sub-tropical depression Alberto’, that is carving a path from its birthplace in early May off the coast of Belize in the Gulf of Mexico, across Cuba, through the southern and south-eastern states of America. It doesn’t sound like much, just a sub-tropical storm named after the waiter at your second-favorite restaurant, but it’s causing massive devastation. Richard Davies at Floodlist writes:

“After making landfall as a Subtropical Storm near Laguna Beach in Florida on 28 May, Alberto has continued to move north as a Subtropical Depression, bringing heavy rain to areas that had already seen one of the wettest Mays on record. … Flooding has affected areas of Alabama and Georgia, as well as parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. … !n North Carolina, areas along the Blue Ridge have received 10-20 inches (250 to 500 mm) of rain since 15 May. … McDowell County is experiencing its most significant flooding since 2004 during Hurricanes Frances and Ivan. At least 4 deaths have been blamed on the storm. Two people died after a home collapsed under a mudslide in Watauga County. Previously two TV workers were killed when a tree fell on their vehicle.”

More than 50 roads have been closed, hundreds of households evacuated and properties destroyed.

And it’s a similar story elsewhere in the world. Out of the news cycles, massive storms that don’t fit the precise description of a hurricane – it has to be rotating around an ‘eye’ and meet certain windspeed conditions – have brought chaos to many places. A huge storm in April covered virtually the whole of the eastern Mediterranean and surrounding areas through to the Persian Gulf, over a thousand miles from edge to edge, across the supposedly permanently dry Middle East. Just last weekend, a system of interlinked storms pushed up from southwest France to cover most of continental Europe and on up into Britain and Scandinavia, bringing with it high winds, tornadoes, torrential rain, flash floods, hail causing ice flows up to 18-in deep, tens of thousands of lightning strikes and even snow in central France.

In all cases these storms follow a pattern, requiring tropically warm waters to breed and an unusually warm lower atmosphere. They merely lack the right wind and pressure conditions to organize as hurricanes. So as the world warms they can only get worse: bigger, wetter and more destructive.

Meanwhile, here on the perennially wet west coast of the UK, we’ve been enjoying a balmy few weeks under high-pressure, with much less rainfall than average and plentiful sunshine. Real holiday weather, for a change. June, however, has become notorious in recent years as the month most likely to end in monsoon-like conditions, although the long-range forecast this year is for hot and dry. following the very late Spring.

But, oh-oh, the light just dropped two f-stops as I was writing this…. a sea-mist has come rolling in and it’s time for our walk!

 

GW: Off to the seaside wiv’ me bucket ‘n spade.

The UK: “… has enjoyed its sunniest May on record, provisional figures show. A total of 245.3 hours of sunshine were measured across the country last month, according to the Met Office. This is more than any May since current records began in 1929. It was also the warmest May on record. The average daytime maximum temperature was 17.0C (62.6F), just beating the previous all-time high of 16.9C set in May 1992.” – Guardian.

So, good news, also possibly a bit bad… but look. The Met Office’s sunshine records start in 1929, temperature records go back only as far as 1910, what is going on? People have been keeping scientifically accurate weather records in Britain certainly since the 18th century. From a global warming perspective the shorter timeline masks a much more concerning cumulative rise post- the Industrial Revolution of the 1760s, of more than 2.3C as compared with, for instance, the IPCC’s “Don’t panic!” post-1981 estimate of only 0.89C.

Time the truth was told.

The EU: most of continental western Europe has once again been battered by heavy thunderstorms, with torrential rain, flash-flooding and mudslides in many parts of Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic,.

Atlantic: Owing to some cooling of the waters, as the season gets under way Colorado State University is predicting only an average Atlantic hurricane season, with possibly six named stprms out of 30 reaching hurricane proportions. As the Weather Channel points out, it only takes one… an article in this week’s New Yorker magazine draws attention to the dreadful aftermath in Puerto Rico of Hurricane Maria and the shoddy response of the Trump administration. Meantime we hear nothing more of any recovery efforts in the Virgin islands and other pirate haunts such as Tortuga and Barbuda, devastated by last year’s three most powerful storms.

The media may not be “fake nooze”, but its climate-change-averse agenda sure needs questions answering.

The Weather Channel/ Floodlist/

No Fly Zone

It is two in the afternoon on a warm, sunny, sultry day in coastal West Wales. It is early June. We had a shower first thing, but it has brightened up since. It’s been going along like this for almost a month now, the warmest May month certainly since 1910.

The Pumpkin is a lazy old baboon. He lives alone with his fur-bearing quadrupedal mammalian associates, Katz and Hunzi, and has done no washing-up since yesterday.

Plates, smeared with last night’s food residue; open packs, unwashed cutlery, a mostly consumed can of sardines (“there’s always a little bit in the corner” – Alan Bennett) litter the kitchen worktops. An ungrateful cat has nobly disdained her breakfast, a slimy lump of Whiskas slowly putrefying in its bowl on the floor. Empty catfood sachets are stuffed into a box on top of the fridge until recycling day comes around – she insists on ignoring three meals a day – you can smell them from here.

The kitchen door and various upstairs windows are open to receive what fresh air we are allowed these days. I’m in my shed, eating a pungent shellfish salad lunch. On the path outside, drying in the sunshine, is a small pool of sick thrown up, I expect, by Katz, who gets several more daily meals out of the neighbors. On the postage-stamp-sized “lawn”, Hunzi has left his latest meaty beef bone to ripen.

And guess what? That’s right.

There isn’t a single fly in the place.

Please don’t tell me this is normal.