Pattern Thinking…. Low energy… Jazz hands? Vote with your feet!… GW: A whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on…. The Long Essay: The Trouble with Skripals.

Quote of the week:

“Based on historical data and tsunami modeling, this earthquake is not capable of generating a tsunami affecting the Indian Ocean region,” said the Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency of Indonesia in a statement released prior to the tsunami’s arrival.” (The Weather Channel)

Scientists are reportedly puzzling over how such a large tsunami was generated from what has been measured as a small sub-ocean land shear. (More follows)

The wave reached a height of 20 feet. Scientists are puzzled as to how it got so big.

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“It’s always the same story, always the same slow, stupid unpacking by predictable stages of the same media narrative.”

Pattern thinking

Whenever a natural disaster occurs, it never ‘occurs’ to anyone in the first few hours and days that it’s as serious as it’s going to turn out to have been, by the time hundreds or thousands of people have died unnecessarily through international inertia.

It’s been three days since a magnitude 7.5 (probably greater) earthquake struck off the coast of Sulawesi in Indonesia, at a relatively shallow depth of 6.5 km.

Did this not trigger alarm bells on Day One at International Rescue? Okay, it was a weekend. Do Save the Children, MSF, the Red Cross not work at weekends, is that it?

“Many people were reported trapped in the rubble of buildings that collapsed in Friday’s 7.5-magnitude earthquake, agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference. The quake triggered tsunami waves as high as 6m (20ft), he added. Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said the final death toll could be thousands.”

The city of Palu, from where within hours shaky cameraphone footage of the tsunami was beamed around the world, sits at the head of a long tidal inlet. At the mouth of the shallow inlet is a smaller city called Donggala, from where nothing has been heard since the quake struck on Friday.

What did the international rescue organizations imagine might have happened to Donggala, several miles nearer to the epicentre?

Once again we have seen the damn same media story unfolding with the usual inevitability of an editorial tick-sheet: big earthquake, tick. M6 aftershocks, tick. Tsunami, tick. 80… 300 dead… Oh, wait, did the tsunami warning people put out a false all clear before it hit? Double tick…. 800 dead… officials say maybe several thousand dead? Oh, they’re just trying to get more aid they can syphon off into Swiss bank accounts. Rescuers digging through rubble with their bare hands, tick; survivor pulled miraculously from the ruins, tick; still no indication that this is a major incident.

By Monday, no doubt, as the corpses start to rot under the rubble, on the beaches, under the mud, the world’s media will be on top of their game. It’s always the same story, always the same slow, stupid unpacking by predictable stages of the same narratative. By Wednesday, as the death toll inevitably mounts, the story will shift to the slowness of the relief effort; the looting; the lack of heavy earthmoving equipment, food, water and medical supplies. (And oh, look, it has!)

Followed after a week by an international emergencies appeal to send money indirectly to the Indonesian government, kerching, thank you very much. They can afford this, they’re not Haiti..

It’s always the exact same story.

But surely an editor knows? I knew right away, so why didn’t you know, that this one was going to run into the thousands?

And surely, any responsible government in one of the most earthquake-prone, tsunami-aware parts of the world bloody well ought, ought they not, to prepare for this exact eventuality, with equipment and emergency supply dumps and trained responders to hand, just inland from every strategic coastal town?

Because, as is always reported, the bloody roads are always impassable, the bridges always down, the airport unusable; and the areas are always “remote”, away from any city where reporters can find a hotel standing and a bar open; areas where the victims are left to fend for themselves while international media interest drains away.

But there was a twist: it seems someone had stolen the physical apparatus (or parts thereof) of the tsunami warning system, the sirens, in Palu.

Does anyone understand, it’s not the height of the tsunami wave, it’s the length of the wave that is so destructive? Gosh, 6, 10, 20 feet high! No, it’s the mile or two miles from crest to crest that generates the power. We saw that with the Japanese tsunami, only 8 feet high, nothing could stand in its way, 15 thousand dead. Japan!

The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, Indonesia again, and felt as far away as New Zealand, Japan, California, a quarter of a million. But it was days before the media comprehended the seriousness of those incidents; and the fact that many foreign tourists had died made it news.

The next time the USGS reports a M7.5 at only 6 km depth, on a known faultline just off the coast of a heavily populated developing country, do we think the world’s media might react in less than three days? At least make a phone call to see how serious it is? Employ at least one person on the editorial staff who isn’t a media studies graduate-through-the-medium-of-feminist-slavery?*

No, we don’t think it will. It can’t, it’s not made that way. It’ll be the sameold sameold. Oh look, another earthquake in a faroff land of which we wot not. Let’s wait and see.

Pattern thinking.

(There have been several earthquakes around the world in excess of M7.5 in the past three months. None was as destructive as the Sulawesi quake; but combined with extreme weather events there has to be an effect on geo-economics, the story that no-one is covering.)

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*I’m currently reading about the astonishing ineptitude of the incoming Trump administration following his election in November, 2016.

“…we are all at very much greater risk of a major nuclear accident”

Low energy

Despite Obama’s meticulous preparations for the handover, which Trump’s people studiously ignored, no-one, not even Rick Perry, the Energy Secretary whom Trump had previously dismissed as a moron, apparently knew that the Department of Energy – which Trump wanted shut down – employed hundreds of physicists and risk-analysts responsible for maintaining the security both of America’s domestic nuclear power program and its military arsenal, at home and overseas.

Thus, no-one turned up to replace the staffers who were contractually obliged to resign their positions under the change of administration, until by dribs and drabs a load of inexperienced young Trumptards wandered in and started throwing their weight around. To date, almost none have been appointed with any experience or understanding of global nuclear security and energy issues; they have undergone almost no briefing or training.

Hence Trump’s lunatic unilateral decision to abrogate the Iran nuclear non-proliferation deal in the face of international condemnation, as he didn’t have a clue what it was about, but it sounded terrible. Bibi Netanyahu didn’t like it, Bibi’s a smart guy, and it had the black man’s fingerprints on it.

Hence too, Trump’s precipitate order pulling 100% funding from the DoE’s backstop investment programs driving US innovation, that had encouraged numerous breathrough technologies over the years where the market had been too risk-averse to invest.

Because Trump, the fatuous oaf, neither understands nor cares anything about science and innovation, but retains a singular fondness for the uncompetitive dinosaur industries of his youth, hiding behind tariff walls, where he imagines a few more votes may lurk among the left-behinds, the opioid-addicted viewers of daytime TV.

See: The Fifth Risk, by Michael Lewis (Penguin Books).

(Shades of Norman F Dixon’s devastating book, On the Psychology of Military Incompetence? Ed.)

Consequently we’re all at very much greater risk of a major nuclear accident or terrorist attack using radioactive materials; since no-one competent to recognize a Geiger counter is in charge. The nuclear business is fraught with difficulties; Lewis points out that there have been brilliant and inspirational leaders in the DoE who have come up with inspired solutions at critical times. That doesn’t look like happening under Perry.

So if the government of Joko Widodo in Jakarta had no idea earthquakes could strike at any time, and has nothing in place for when they do, preferring instead to build golf courses and buy US arms for his repressive military, it’s not really surprising.

We are increasingly ruled by self-regarding, lazy, irresponsible, unqualified, light-fingered, doctrinaire, strutting clowns with a taste for money, power and genocide.

As climate-related disasters pile up with ever-increasing effects, world governments are really going to have to get a grip or come clean: they are no longer in the business of caring for their people.

We’re on our own.

Gizza job!

Indeed, nothing about Donald Trump is really shocking any longer. He just makes you feel nauseous to look at, to listen to. To please the nihilistic dumbfuck MAGA cult, he has plumbed the depths of the human spirit and come up covered in liquid shit. How they love to lick it up.

So it would not be a surprise to learn that, two months after taking office, he finally put in charge of the Department of Agriculture; a vast, sprawling organization employing 100 thousand people responsible for everything from fighting forest fires to feeding poor rural schoolkids (something Trump has vowed to put a stop to), as well as all the food production, farm subsidies and veterinary welfare in America, the following experts and others equally qualified by their loyalty to him, in jobs paying typically $80 thousand a year:

  • A long-haul truck driver
  • A clerk at AT&T
  • A gas-company meter reader
  • A country-club cabana attendant
  • A Republican National Committee intern
  • The owner of a scented candle company.

One Trump appointee got a job with the USDA after listing only “a pleasant demeanor” on their CV.

Not surprising, really, as his head of Personnel, Johnny DeStefano, who has survived longer almost than anyone in Trump’s dysfunctional day-care creche, got the job as a reward for running a small computer bureau that helped the Republicans gerrymander electoral districts. He’s now reduced to holding job fairs to try to persuade anyone who graduated high school to come on board and work at the White House.

I fear you have to conclude, this demented old sack of rotting cheeseburger is just taking the American people for a very unprincipled ride.

Then, he always has: a 40-page exposé in the New York Times shows conclusively from thousands of Trump family and Trump business documents that, very far from being a successful business tycoon this lying bastard has been living on Daddy Trump’s money all his rotten life, has never made a penny out of his own hard work, is not and never has been a “billionaire” and is very likely guilty of serious tax fraud totalling $millions.

Just a shitty little con man – spoilt brat, superannuated playboy – with a flair for hogging headlines.

I suppose that’s why the President of the United States of America feels entitled to belittle and insult anyone he decides to pick on, in shameful and disgusting displays of bullying and bragadoccio.

Because he’s nothing, less than the dirt underneath your fingernails.

Credit for the above quote goes to: The Fifth Risk, by Michael Lewis (Allen Lane/Penguin Books, hardback price on Amazon about £14. Order now!)

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xJazz hands? Vote with your feet

“Reps at the University of Manchester have voted to replace noisy appreciation with the British Sign Language (BSL) equivalent – a wave of both hands. Union officer Sara Khan said traditional clapping can cause issues for students with autism, sensory issues or deafness. Ms Khan, the union’s liberation and access officer, who proposed the motion at a recent meeting said clapping can ‘discourage’ some from attending democratic events.

“So-called ‘jazz hands’, she said, encouraged an ‘environment of respect’.” – (BBC report)

Shome culchural mishappropriashun here, poshibly?

But where’s the respect for African Americans? For them, so-called “jazz hands” as displayed while doing the Bunny Hop would surely be the most grotesque cultural misappropriation, an insult akin to blacked-up minstrelcy.

And aren’t speakers going to think it’s a bit weird? They make their lapidary closing remarks, step back from the podium looking both relieved and deeply satisfied with themselves, waiting for the polite ripple of approbation that is undoubtedly due them for their valuable insights into Graeco-Roman poetry, only to be greeted in total silence by an audience making derisory flapping motions as if to say, thanks for that mate, now fuck off….

Ms Khan needs to rethink her entire strategy.

How about Zen clapping, with just one hand?

Oh, no… sorry, angry Buddhists alert.

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GW: A whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on

Hurricane Update: As Typhoon Trami batters southern Japan with winds up to 134 mph, the eighth typhoon to hit the islands this year, with 3.7 million people advised to evacuate their homes on the main Honshu Island, another typhoon is forming in the Pacific.

The Express reports: “At least 53 people were injured by Trami as it barrelled through Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures yesterday, according to state broadcaster NHK. More than 300,000 people there are still without power.” (Latest: 4 dead).

Now, in the wake of Mangkhut, the one before Trami, Cat 5 hurricane Kong-Rey is threatening the Philippines, Taiwan and the Chinese coast.

“Forecasters said it was still too early to confirm a route for the new storm, but they expected it to increase in strength to turn into a supertyphoon. Next Thursday, October 4, Kong-rey might approach the waters east of Taiwan and south of Okinawa, and weaken before turning north toward Japan, according to the Liberty Times report. How much it might affect Japan or Taiwan was still too early to determine, weather experts said.

“Kong-rey is the name of a Khmer princess and of a mountain in Cambodia.” (Taiwan News) So now you know.

 

 

In the eastern Pacific, on the heels of ex-Cat 4 Hurricane Rosa, now dumping inches of rain over the Arizona desert, “there’s a new tropical storm after Sergio formed on Saturday about 345 miles SSW of Acapulco, Mexico. Tropical Storm Sergio’s path is west, northwest at 13 miles per hour – a track taking it into conditions favorable for strengthening. The National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Sergio will likely become Hurricane Sergio by Monday.

“The good news is that Sergio currently poses no threat to land and no coastal warnings or watches are in effect.” (Newsweek)

Tropical storm/hurricane Leslie hasn’t yet developed a definite track, but: “the storm is forecast to reach hurricane strength as it loops around the same patch of ocean far away from land. Eventually, Leslie will move away into the North or East Atlantic. Leslie’s large circulation will generate dangerous surf and rip currents on the U.S. East Coast and the north-facing sides of the Caribbean islands.” There’s just a possibility it will end up heading towards northern Europe.

USA: Invest 98L – ‘zombie Florence’, is still causing problems across the East Coast.

“Preliminary estimates as of 19 September suggested that 3.4m poultry birds and 5,500 hogs died after Hurricane Florence made landfall, exceeding the number killed in the state with Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Rain and floodwaters caused by Florence also caused outdoor hog manure pits, known as lagoons, to overflow, threatening the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.” (Independent)

Down in Texas, 22 Sept. there were casualties, at least 1 killed, and dozens of rescues in 4x normal ‘record’ rainstorms bringing flooding for the Dallas area. More rain was forecast. The quaintly named town of Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee was taken out by a flash flood on the 28th, after a storm that affected Mississippi and Alabama too, 1 dead. Up to 10-in of rain was recorded over a 72-hour period. (CEWN #138.)

Canada: Wanna know what it’s like when a powerful F3 tornado hits your city? Or your car? Hull, Quebec is trashed in one of (so far) 6 confirmed tornadoes on one day last week. (CEWN #138.)

Mexico: 7 dead, 8 missing in Michocoan province, 23 Sept. Watch an idiot driving into a raging black torrent and others rescued on a disintegrating rooftop…. Still distant, on the 28th Hurricane Rosa brings flash floods to Cabo San Lucas, on the tip of the Baja pensinsula. It’s your Granny’s distinct impression, to echo the wise man in the White House, these storms are getting wetter, waterwise. (CEWN #138)

Venezuela: flash flood after torrential rain hits the city of Vargas. It’s one way to get rid of the garbage. In a landslide near the city, 2 young girls die in a collapsing house. (CEWN #138)

Hawaii: 700 miles SSW of Honolulu, Tropical Storm (now hurricane) Walaka is not expected to directly impact the islands but has brought extreme heat and humidity, moving toward the west near 15 mph. This motion is expected to continue through tomorrow, followed by a turn toward the northwest Sunday night and Monday and a turn toward the north early Tuesday. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph with higher gusts. Steady strengthening is expected for the next two to three days. (Khon 2 TV)

Tunisia: Wanna know what a terrifying flash flood looks like? See the Medicane hit Nebeul. They probably don’t expect many of these in North Africa, as the drainage can’t cope: 30 cm of rain fell on Beni Khalled in 24 hours. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZFAoY7P3OE. 4 dead. (CEWN #138)

Greece, Turkey: Medicane Zorbas brings high winds, flash floods (29/30 Sept.)

India: Himachal Pradesh, in the north, flash floods and landslides, watch as a swollen river eats its bank away and a tour bus falls into the water and is swept downstream. Around 25 dead to date. Chamba recorded 13 cm rain in 24 hours….

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser eruption #21 recorded.

 

The Long Essay:

The Trouble with Skripals

In view of the attention being given to the success of the Bellingcat investigative website – okay, let’s get it out of the way, partly funded by George Soros – in identifying one of the assailants, our Uncle Bogler is still confused by elements of the Skripal case, and seeks enlightenment; not least on the question of why Sergei – of whose condition and location we have heard nothing more – and his daughter were not killed by the nerve agent supposedly used?

(He further notes that, two days after I accidentally uploaded this controversial piece, a review has come out of a new book by BBC correspondent Mark Urban, about Sergei Skripal. You may find some answers there.)

Created during the Cold War, I’ve been told that military weapons-grade novichok acts both as an aerosol and on contact with the skin, and either way was designed to kill quickly and efficiently. Yet it didn’t work on four out of five individuals exposed to it!

Dawn Sturgess, the uninvolved woman who did die, inhaled the novichok directly in the spray from a perfume bottle. Yet she took several days to die. Novichok is said to act almost instantaneously in the lungs, but seems not to in practise. Her friend Charlie Rowley, who apparently found the discarded bottle and gave it to her as a present, had little direct contact with the contents and so survived. But even he was able to testify that the ‘perfume’ was odourless, so he must have inhaled some.

The mystery is, why did Sergei Skripal not die from his substantial skin contact with the nerve agent? And why did it take four hours to have an effect on him and on Yulia?

Was the two-part nerve agent incorrectly assembled? Or was it dated stock that had lost its potency? Or was it administered later than the police version is saying? And why if the GRU or whoever wanted Skripal dead, did they not simply kill him? Why go to the fuss, bother and mess of using an apparently ineffective chemical warfare agent from the 1980s?

As a trained operative himself, it seems odd that Sergei did not realize what was happening at an earlier stage during their visit to the town centre. Four hours seems an improbably long time to be driving, parking, visiting a pub and having lunch in a restaurant without noticing that you have been attacked with a nerve agent designed to disable troops on the battlefield; in other words, pretty well immediately.

And the perfume bottle, by Nina Ricci. Rowley said it was still in its original packaging, which, given the resources of the Russian intelligence agency it could have been. If it had been used to spray Skripal’s front door, however, how and why would the GRU team have repackaged it so convincingly?

And why was it thrown away, apparently at the place where the Skripals were found? How would the GRU team have known they would end up there, coincidence? – or was a meeting set up in advance?

Where indeed was it thrown away? How did it remain “thrown away” for three months without being swept up in the usual local authority garbage disposal operations? By what bizarre coincidence was the same park involved as the location for both poisonings?

Are we to conclude therefore that there was more than one bottle? And that others may be out there? Or that the bottles were not brought into the country as duty-frees by the two GRU goons, but by someone else, or even made up here beforehand, and deposited in dead-drops, to be collected as needed? Does Aeroflot even sell Nina Ricci?

And why, the question has been asked elsewhere, why would a pair of assassins risk entering the country together on a Russian airliner, directly from Moscow, on Russian passports, and have to go through the process of organizing tourist visas with Immigration, when they could so easily have been given false EU national identities and just waltzed in through the Green channel?

Why were the consecutive numbers in their passports not picked up? (Whatever else Jacob Rees-Mogg might tell you, we have not “lost control of our borders” – except apparently when it comes to Russian hit squads.)

Who was the “third man” thought to have carried out a reconnaissance in advance of their arrival? (Maybe their travel agent!) Where is the CCTV footage of him?

Apart from buying scratchcards in the corner store, what was Skripal doing, living quite openly in a nice house in Salisbury, a pleasant country town (city. Ed.) that just happens to be at the heart of the UK defense industry and close both to the biological warfare establishment at Porton Down and to southern naval command?

As a known double-agent who had been part of a complex spy exchange involving six Russian agents (including the sultry Anna Chapman) busted by the FBI in the USA, treated as heroes on their return, and therefore a potential target, why was Skripal not apparently given a safe house, but essentially staked out like a goat in plain view; even being given a bright red BMW car you couldn’t miss from space?

Was not the provision of CCTV cameras covering the house front and rear the most basic of precautions that should have been taken? And wasn’t? (Other conspiracy theorists have concluded there were cameras, but someone must have disabled them. So if there was no Russian involvement, why do that?)

It seems a feature of this case, that despite Britain being one of the most densely surveilled countries in the world, so much of what took place seems to have been out of view of any cameras. Thousands of hours of CCTV had to be reviewed before the limited range of street views we’ve been shown of the two clowns (at least one with the rank of Colonel) could produce some ID.

Did MI6 seriously not consider Skripal’s life would forever be in danger from the long reach of Putin’s revenge, that he has taken out on so many other ‘traitors’ to the Motherland – and on oligarchs who have fallen out of favor? Or did they not care? (Or did they not need to care, as the doctrine appears to be that the spies are no longer in business so don’t bother creating an international incident by sending hit squads to eliminate them? That, at least, is the Russian view.)

Given that Skripal’s brother and mother had both recently died, the brother in possibly suspicious circumstances, would that not have alerted the security service? Or were they too busy safeguarding us against Muslims to keep their eye on the Russian ball? At the end of the day, it’s Russians versus Russians, they’re not here to kill British citizens or make our streets less safe. We only make a fuss when they foul up somehow.

Is it possible that there could have been any connection with matters troubling the security establishment in the United States, for instance the so-called Steele dossier, supplied by the former MI6 Moscow bureau chief to the FusionGP political research agency – also, incidentally, funded by George Soros – and thence, to the FBI?

Crumbs of both unverified and unverifiable intelligence compiled from reports about Candidate Trump from Steele’s high-level contacts in Russia, who subsequently seem to have been purged by Putin’s security people – thus verifying the reports? Was Skripal connected with that purge? Might that explain the timing of the attack, given that Putin could have ordered it at any time?

(It has been suggested the attack was ordered as part of Putin’s re-election campaign strategy, to stir up international animus against Russia, boosting his image as the strong defender of Russian values and importance on the world stage….

I don’t buy that, since at least 14 other Russian exiles had already died in Britain alone in recent years, most under suspicious circumstances. Why would one more have been so significant? No, I see these targeted assassinations as part of the “Gerasimov” hybrid warfare being conducted against us, showing Russia’s ability to operate globally to create uncertainty, divide the West, discredit our intelligence services and reduce the influence of NATO.)

Britain’s most important-ever Russian defector, the former KGB mole Oleg Gordievski is supposedly being held in an anonymous-looking suburban safe house “somewhere in the Midlands”, with a new identity and under armed guard 24 hours a day. Why was Skripal not being similarly protected?

Or maybe he was? Who exactly is Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, the third person affected in the Skripal attack, of whom since his discharge from hospital we have heard nothing more – a silence reminiscent of that of Trevor Rees-Jones, the police bodyguard who survived the Paris tunnel crash in which Princess Diana and Dodi al-Fayed died, who has remained invisible ever since, apparently suffering from amnesia?

Described as a heroic “first responder”… No! If police were called to two semiconscious people found behaving oddly on a park bench by passers-by (including a doctor) who said they thought they were high on drugs, the ‘first responders’ would have been uniformed patrol or even Community Policing officers, not a plain-clothes Detective Sergeant!

(Why would the media describe as ‘heroic’, an officer who had merely responded to a non-violent incident – if, as must have been the case, it was not known at the time of first response that an assassination was being attempted, and a military-grade nerve agent was the weapon? What would be ‘heroic’ about that?)

Who then did come into contact with the physical persons of Skripal and Yulia, when attending to them and rescuing them from the park bench? It could not possibly have been known at first-response stage – could it? – that a deadly military-grade toxin had caused their symptoms. Why were those unprotected first responders unaffected?

And how was it so quickly determined that samples taken from the Skripals – samples of what? The agent would surely not have been obvious – needed to be sent to Porton Down, eight miles away, and how did Porton Down scientists manage to identify the substance so quickly? Was anything known in advance?

So where did Sgt Bailey come into contact with enough of the nerve agent to land him in hospital? Obviously not in the park, because other responders were not affected.

How would Sgt Bailey have known to go to Skripal’s house if he had not identified Skripal first and subsequently obtained details of his address?

Or did he already know Skripal and where he was being kept? Was he in fact already at the address, perhaps as the duty surveillance officer? (You cannot tell me there was no surveillance on the house! I refuse to believe MI6 would simply abandon their man to go wandering around wherever he felt like it. Had there been a breakdown in the security arrangements?)

Why, even knowing the address, would Sgt Bailey have gone straight to the house after the discovery of the victims? What was he hoping to find? Was he despatched, or did he go on his own initiative? If the former, why was he not accompanied by scene-of-crime officers? If it was already known that a nerve agent was involved, why would he go alone and unprotected?

After several months of intensive enquiries, it was announced that the novichok had been sprayed on the front doorknob of Skripal’s house, unobserved. A curious choice of method, but who knows the assassin’s mind. The story subsequently went out that the Russians had been practising the technique. Really? You need to practise spraying stuff on a door? It’s hardly an innovative idea.

The question then is, why did it take so long to establish where the nerve agent had been applied, with all the comings-and-goings, to’ings and fro’ings via the front door that must have been involved, and the evidence staring investigators in the face? To my mind, the doorknob theory doesn’t add up; it’s too plausible – too limited.

Was Sgt Bailey actually contaminated by the doorknob in the same way as Skripal? It seems extraordinarily careless, given that he should have touched nothing without wearing protective gloves, if he thought a crime had been committed, to avoid blurring any fingerprints or DNA evidence. So what did he hope to find at the house?

Then, why would a middle-ranking detective have been put on the case, when it would (or should) have been known from that first ID of the pair that Skripal was an MI6 asset? Or hadn’t the spooks from Vauxhall Bridge told the local plod about him? As a classified operation, the investigation would surely have involved more senior officers right from the start; not the local firm.

Indeed, there are three living witnesses to say exactly what happened, who were directly harmed in the attack and could provide a detailed account; yet the enquiries have been going on for months and police are still responding with alacrity to false alarms, cordoning off premises and whole areas of the town, destroying vehicles and furniture and are still clearly trying to establish an evidence trail…

What else is involved with this case, that we’re not being told about?

The nerve agent was on the outside boss of the door…. This presupposes Skripal and his daughter must have been inside the house when the poison was applied as Sergei would have had to grasp the outside doorknob as they were leaving to go into town, to close the door. But how did the Terrible Twins know who would handle the doorknob first?

Yulia would not have needed to come into contact with the nerve agent via the door, which her father presumably closed. How then did she come to be seriously contaminated? From what source? Would the assassins not have taken into account, the possibility that she might have been the last one out?

Why didn’t the assassins just ring the doorbell and shoot Skripal in the face, instead of taking the risky decision to coat the doorknob, and maybe risk killing an Amazon delivery driver instead? It was early March – bad weather – what if Skripal had been wearing gloves for outdoors?

But of course, it’s harder to get a gun into Britain than to smuggle in a duty-free perfume bottle. And in any case, Putin likes to play cat-and-mouse with his victims. Shooting traitors isn’t his style – too easy.

But we return to the main question:  why did the novichok not work as specified in the military manual?

And how did the GRU agents manage not to poison themselves? (My brain has asked the same question even more pertinently about Dmitri Lugovoi and the other man involved in the Polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. They left a radioactive snail-trail all over London, a radioactive isotope is much harder to control even than a bottle of nerve agent. How did they manage to avoid self-contamination?)

The first version of how the Skripals were poisoned centered on the aircon in the red BMW and the idea that novichok was blown into the car as a powder. That sounds unlikely as Sergei, a trained killer himself, an ex-military veteran of the KGB school in Moscow, would have spotted it immediately and called for aid.

Indeed, did he have no means of making an immediate emergency call once symptoms became apparent? A number on speed dial? Or was he overcome too quickly – in which case, the attack must have happened either in the park or shortly before they arrived there. Again, had a meeting been pre-arranged with the would-be assassins? The carelessness of his MI6 handlers must surely form the basis of a formal enquiry.

But why did the investigation team initially think that the car was the source? Because Skripal had handled the steering-wheel, presumably – and nearer the time of his succumbing to the nerve agent. But the difference between a trace liquid and a powder would surely have been obvious to any trained investigator?

The next action was to completely seal off the house, which was done so efficiently and for such an extraordinarily long period of time without anyone going back in, that Sergei’s cat died of dehydration inside, no-one having thought to remove it for questioning… Also, two guinea-pigs starved to death.

Guinea-pigs??? Was he keeping them for food? Or company? No serious late-middle-aged man hardened by service in the spying business keeps guinea-pigs as pets, unless for some scientific purpose. Children keep guinea-pigs; laboratories keep guinea-pigs. Why did Skripal have guinea-pigs? Was it to warn him of an expected chemical attack, or could he have been preparing something himself?

I expect many of these questions will already have answers we are not party to, and the rest we shall probably never know about. It’s like an itchy scab you know you should leave alone.

None of it makes sense. But I am not an investigative journalist, or a police detective: just an old man in a chair.

The Pumpkin – Issue 64: Trump’s ultimate stay out of jail card… Nobody normal… Breaking the Family China… Hurricane watch – GW: Pick me up and whirl me around!… Buzzfeed News.

“He had already opined that a sitting President cannot be indicted for federal crimes.”

Trump’s ultimate stay out of jail card

The news that broke from Washington on Friday evening was neither news, nor really breaking, which implies something unexpected had happened.

The Congressional committee vetting the Presidential nomination for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court had voted, as everyone expected, to send the name of Judge Brett Kavanaugh forward to the Senate for ratification.

The Republican-controlled Senate.

Mr Kavanaugh, as everyone now knows, had been accused by multiple women of various sexual assaults, including participating in gang-rapes of drugged sophomores while at Yale, supposedly one of America’s finest Ivy League institutions.

By dint of allowing only one complainant to make her case before the committee, a Dr Blasey Ford, the bullyboys of the Congress avoided the need for further embarrassing hearings. Given the proximity of mid-term elections, it was all to be done on one day.

Kavanaugh himself described the proceedings as “a national disgrace” and (Trump’s line) a Democrat plot – there being nothing like a judge’s summing up to nobble a jury, especially in a case against himself.

Kavanaugh is also reputedly an alcoholic. When asked in the hearing if he had ever passed out through drink, an obvious disqualifier, he shot back insolently at his (female) Democrat questioner: “No, have you?”

Indeed, much of his emotionally overwrought evidence to the committee, some of which is already being dissected in the media as false, and his reliance on his churchgoing family as an alibi – (he claimed his little daughter had asked him to “pray for the woman, daddy”, at which point the entire female population of the planet collectively threw up) – suggested he was not really suitable to be hearing cases in the highest court in the land, but has an immature personality, an overly religiose affiliation and an overentitled, Ivy League view of the world.

Oh, and he’s probably a bit of a liar, no.

Surely, with these mounting accusations hanging over him, any honorable candidate would at least have offered to recuse himself, rather than bring the court into disrepute, with the possibility of multiple inquiries and suspicions continuing into the far future? The court, I suppose, that already contains Judge Clarence Thomas, who has labored under accusations of sexual impropriety for years.

Why would anyone in future respect the verdicts of such a flawed institution?

Not unlike his nominator, Mr Trump, who stands accused by no fewer than 19 women of sexual contact (he says it’s four), and who has almost certainly committed further criminal offences in using campaign funds to buy off “kiss-and-tell” stories from other women, yet has accused the four women who have come forward so far to testify against Judge Kavanaugh as being liars in the pay of Clinton’s Democrats.

Oh, please Donald, put a sock in it.

Sadly, the other judges on the bench don’t get a say in whether or not this plausibly slimy individual gets to bring the reputation of the court waltzing into the realms of la-la land.

In view of the lack of “corroborating” witnesses, who hadn’t been invited, and under severe pressure from the President, the committee was able to shrug off the perfectly believable accusation, arguing that while Dr Ford was probably being truthful, she could not prove it was the 17-year-old Kavanaugh who had attempted to rape her at a school dance; although she had testified under oath that she was “100 per cent” sure.

Mr Trump has been incredibly fortunate. Few Presidents get to nominate two partisan conservative judges in their first 600 days in office. There was, to be sure, something fishy about the resignation of Judge Anthony Kennedy, since Supreme Court judges are appointed for life, and he is still very much alive.

But for Trump, who knew nothing much else about him, notwithstanding his frequent protestations that the judge is “a wonderful man”, there was something special about Kavanaugh.

He had already opined that a sitting President cannot be indicted for federal crimes.

Trump’s lifelong modus operandi has been to commit quasi-criminal acts and then to divert attention from them by blame-shifting onto others, or by arguing that even if he had done something bad, others had done worse; or failing that, simply by muddying the waters. If he can, he will engineer things so that he cannot be easily prosecuted – as with his serial dismissals of FBI agents and his threats to withdraw security clearances from individuals who could testify against him.

His final getout has always, of course, been to buy off his accusers.

He is unintelligent, it’s true, and poorly informed, but he has low cunning in spades. From the moment of his dubious election Trump set off around the country, starring in rabble-rousing rallies at least once a week, pandering to the worst instincts of his supporters.

Through his rambling speeches, he carefully set up a number of “straw men”: his long-gone opponent, “Crooked” Hillary Clinton – no evidence of crimes has been laid at her door, but the crowd still likes to chant the old slogan from the campaign trail, “Lock her up”. The Democratic party, forever plotting against him. The lying press, the “enemy of the people” (except for outlets he likes, Fox News, the Cartoon Channel, and so on.) The bumbling Intelligence services, always getting everything wrong.

And even the law enforcement community: the FBI, and the Justice Department. They’ve all been a big letdown, are traitors, and maybe there are conflicts of interest, who knows?

So that whenever he needs something, he can blame any setbacks on the phantom conspiracy against him, the Deep State. And, by extension, claim that women who come forward with credible allegations of sexual assault are merely plotting with the Democrats or Hillary Clinton, or the “fake news” media, to destroy Donald Trump: the revered object of his dumbfucks’ disillusionment with the American Dream he pretends to embody.

It’s classic Mein Kampf tactics, but not everyone has read that whiny little prison book, and thinks instead there must be something in what their President says.

His endorsement of Judge Kavanaugh has, as he has made abundantly clear, nothing whatever to do with the man’s record as a judge – indeed, it’s not really clear: Kavanaugh has refused to allow his ten thousand pages of court records to be taken into consideration.

If you went for a top job and insisted on redacting your CV with no explanation, how far would you get?

It is instead entirely consistent with Trump’s frenetic campaign to discredit any and everyone involved in the multiple investigations of treason, obstruction of justice, egregious breaches of Foreign Emoluments law, conspiring with a foreign power to fix an election and lesser, mainly financial, crimes against him, his family, and his campaign team

Desperate to make them go away, by his frankly inappropriate partisan interventions the President has succeeded in polarizing public opinion around the issue of this really rather inappropriate judge character, and his refusal to back down, despite the risk of dragging the already tarnished image of the Supreme Court of the world’s leading nation into the gutter, purely out of personal pride.

Worse, in the view of The Pumpkin, is that the storm surrounding the allegations of abusive and inappropriate sexual conduct in his college days, allegations that are truthfully hard to stand up, is possibly obscuring many other reasons why this sanctimonious, overprivileged little redfaced shit ought not to take his place on the bench.

There must be a question mark over his professional credentials, his career record. But nobody seems to be interested in his legal qualifications while the sex thing, that was frankly years ago, is still swirling around.

In the 2017 case of Garza v. Hargan, Kavanaugh – an evangelical Christian – was the standout judge ruling against the right of a 17-year-old immigrant, anonymised as Jane Doe, to consult a doctor about an abortion, despite abortion being legal in Texas to 20 weeks; and despite a prior circuit court ruling that she should have the abortion.

The girl had been forcibly taken into protective custody and was being held against her will by anti-abortionists who were preventing her from receiving medical attention unless she agreed to carry the baby to term.

Kavanaugh’s position was that they should wait while a prospective adoptive mother was found, and he deliberately set the next hearing for a date in the 19th week of her pregnancy. (MSNBC reports.) His Christian and pro-life supporters have described the decision as “compassionate”. (Politico)

The Pumpkin would venture to suggest a different adjective.

Barbaric.

Kavanaugh, who is only 53, may now join Trump’s previous nomination, Judge Neil Gorsuch, on the bench for life. Gorsuch, who has been the career-long protege of the multibillionaire oil-to-entertainments mogul Phil Anschutz, is notorious for having never once ruled in favor of an individual appellate against a corporation.

“The case took seven years and went before seven judges but in the end, Detroit native Alphonse Maddin celebrated victory against the delivery firm that had fired him for seeking warmth after his truck broke down on a dangerously cold winter night. Of the seven judges, six sided with Maddin but one found in favor of the company and wrote a scathing dissent.”

Mr Justice Gofuck.

That version of the story ignores that a) it was 30C below freezing when Maddin was running out of diesel after his rig broke down in the snow, so he detached the trailer and set off in the cab to find some gas; and b) he’d been told to wait for a rescue truck, but it couldn’t get through, so he acted on initiative. Had his engine cut out, he would have frozen to death within half an hour.

And yet the anal retentive Gorsuch, cosseted all his life by another man’s money, who has likely never done a day’s labor other than jerking his own prick, could not bring himself to rule with judicial wisdom and commonsense in favor of the working man and against an unfair contract of employment. Why not? Working men built the goddam country.

The Supreme Court is truly compromised if – when – Kavanaugh is confirmed. It already contains Judge Clarence Thomas, accused of sexual impropriety against a female clerk. In his case, too, a woman’s reputation was regarded as not worth putting ahead of that of an important man – especially a black one.

Justice? You’re kidding. It’s about power. Corporate power. Male power.

But at least Trump can sleep easier, knowing that if he is indicted for crimes of money-laundering, sanctions-busting and racketeering, as soon as the case reaches the Supreme Court he’s home free.

What Special Counsel, Bob Mueller will make of it is anybody’s guess.

http://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/06/trump-supreme-court-pick-kavanaugh-immigrant-abortion-teen-700856

PS in a dramatic development, a woman protestor cornered the occasionally moderate Rep. Sen. Geoff Flake in the elevator and persuaded him to vote against the confirmation unless there was a further investigation of the allegations (and other matters) against Kavanaugh. Backed into a corner, knowing that 60% of the women in America would otherwise vote Democrat in November, Trump ordered the FBI to look into it. Sen. McConnell then imposed a rigid 7-day deadline on the investigation, virtually guaranteeing nothing much will come of it.

Watch, space.

x

“Christie called up Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to ask why this critical job (to attend a legally required White House briefing for senior staff of all parties involved in planning the Presidential race) had not been handed to someone who actually knew something about government.

“‘We don’t have anyone,’ said Lewandowski.”

xNobody normal

An entertaining Long Read feature in The Guardian (27 Sept.) by Michael Lewis, extracted from his, the latest of many Donald demolition books and one I shall certainly have to add to my collection next week, takes us on the bumpy, scary flight through the critical two-month transition between Trump’s unexpected election in November, 2016 and his assuming the role of worst President in world history, ever.

Anyone who still doubts the truth of that assertion after all that’s been written about him and wants to give him the benefit of their kindhearted doubt, should understand: it’s not that malicious and misinformed liberal media hacks conspiring with sour-grapes Hillary and the Democrats have claimed without evidence that Trump was totally not expecting to win the election, not competent to run the country and knew less than nothing about what was supposed to happen if he did win – and wouldn’t listen to anyone who tried to tell him, and still doesn’t.

No. It is that Trump really was totally not expecting to win the election, actually is less competent to run the country than practically anyone you could think of, he really did know less than nothing about what was supposed to happen if he won – and he absolutely wouldn’t listen to anyone who tried to tell him, and still doesn’t.

And if you feel like scoffing and hooting, don’t be silly, nobody that unprepared would run for President, he’s a successful business tycoon handling major projects, there must have been people in the Republican party who knew how to run a campaign, they would never have adopted as a candidate, a 70-year-old, subliterate, fourth-grade spoilt brat, a superannuated, pussy-grabbing playboy who can barely tie his shoelaces, a lazy “fuckin’ moron” who would fail to impress most sentient humans he employed, a Great Negotiator who would wander out of summit meetings forgetting who he was talking to, and a man has told over 5 thousand recorded lies in 600 days, well, I’m afraid you’re too good for this world.

This book will add tonnes to the groaning weight of evidence that the ignorant, arrogant, thin-skinned and unreconstructed narcissist, Trump was and remains wholly unfit to remain in the White House; where in recent weeks, aided and abetted only by the scheming college vampire and lifelong racist, Stephen Miller – one of the very few slithy toves left from the alt-right swamp of the original Bannon “kill everything” squad – he has set about comprehensively severing America from its global moorings and sailing it rudderless into the unknown.

No wonder he’s such a fan of Brexit.

And the main reason he is unfit, judging by the narrative of Lewis’ book, is that he failed utterly to pull around himself the security of a team of competent men and women who might not have had to submit to his grotesque and insecure demands for constant grovelling adulation; his biting sarcasm and bullying, his screaming tantrums and refusal to listen to any advice but that of the little halfwitted Fox News anchors yarping incessantly on his TV screens – or occasionally that of the incompetent bunglers, religious maniacs, sexual and financial deviants, wife-beaters and snakes-in-the-grass he did manage to appoint.

Which was apparently almost anyone who could write in with an actual CV, or to whom the party owed a favor.

You could walk into almost any department of the US government and hear people asking the same question: where were these people who were meant to be running the place?

Formerly a State prosecutor, Christie, the heavyweight Governor of New Jersey, in 2005 had put Jared Kushner’s father away for five years after a trial on tax charges, from which the minor detail emerged that Charlie had engaged in a little witness-tampering, blackmailing his brother-in-law, a prosecution witness in the case, by compromising him with a prostitute in a motel room and, when he wouldn’t co-operate, sending the tape to his own sister.

It kind of set the tone for what was to follow.

Whatever the justice of the sentence, Kushner Jr had to swallow green bile when Christie, a long-term “friend” of the Donald, stepped in to lend his considerable avoirdupois to rescuing the campaign from electoral oblivion; especially when the Access Hollywood “pussy grabbing” tape emerged. His presence caused a certain amount of tension in a White House denuded of expertise, know-how and useful contacts, already stricken with panic. He didn’t really fit in.

Christie had to contend not only with opposition from the family, but with Trump’s legendary eccentricities; one of which is a lifelong belief that, whosever it actually belongs to, the money is his. Lewis tells the amazing story of how, summoned to the private Trump floors in New York’s gilded tower – Trump hadn’t apparently yet realized that as President he would be obliged to work and live in a cramped little four-storey slum in stuffy Washington DC, that he would never be allowed to develop, or affix his name over the pofrtico – Steve Bannon stepped from the gold-paneled elevator to find the boss red-faced and screaming in fury at Christie.

“Oi wants me fuckin’ minney!” The Pumpkin’s management style leaves a little to be desired.

Obama’s preparations to hand over the government had been superb … What could go wrong?

The rule is that, to ensure a smooth handover of power, the top 500 jobs in government need to be filled by the incoming team before the day of the inauguration. While the Government covers expenses – offices, cars, phones – the candidate has to pay the staff out of donor funds. Trump didn’t know that. He didn’t seem to be aware even of the need for staff: he had always run a lean business.

He had not, of course, put one cent of his own money into the campaign, despite the lies he repeatedly told the adoring dumbfucks at his Nuremberg rallies. Nor did his HR department actually know 500 people, or indeed any with the experience to assume those positions, other than the ones working for Obama, who were now streaming out of the building.

Notwithstanding, his fundraisers had raised a budget of several million dollars for the purpose of staffing the administration. Yet President-elect, Orange Chump seems to have mistaken the funds for his own personal bank account. Lewis writes:

“Bannon stepped off the elevator to find Christie seated on a sofa, being hollered at. Trump was apoplectic, yelling: You’re stealing my money! You’re stealing my fucking money! What the fuck is this? Seeing Bannon, Trump turned on him and screamed: Why are you letting him steal my fucking money? Bannon and Christie together set out to explain to Trump, federal law. … To which Trump replied: Fuck the law. I don’t give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money.”

And that, dear Trumpologist, absoltely puts it in the proverbial nutshell: “I don’t give a fuck about the law, I want my fucking money”.

It is the perfect distillation of the entire gameplan of the permatanned bankrupt criminal entity millions of opiate-deadened Americans, gun-toting bigots and religious crazies chose to become the Leader of the Free World: a man unfree, trapped between the law and his desperate need for money; a man deeply in hock to the Russian mob.

People don’t understand that a bungled transition becomes a bungled presidency.”

You see, he is insane. Not just a bit rough around the edges, understandably lacking detailed knowledge of the demands of the job, the law, government, the constitution – in a typically feeble report this morning, the BBC’s John Sopoor referred to Trump as a “politician”, but he isn’t and never has been and never will be that.

Polticking is not his way of doing things; which is basically, to break people’s arms and legs if he doesn’t get whatever he wanted, that he just lost interest in. He’s only ever played at being a wealthy business buffoon who inherited and lost money and didn’t pay much attention in school, a bullshit billionaire (he once let slip to daughter Ivanka that he was $8 billion in debt – see the interview at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCer9g-fh8o).

A tragically flawed character? No, more clinically non compos mentis. Psychologically profoundly damaged. Incapable of rational cognition; lacking boundaries, self-awareness or moral scruple; a sociopath driven entirely by his basal ganglia – the “reptilian brain”.

Nobody normal behaves like that, a child stamping its foot forever, from whom you’ve just taken a loaded revolver in case someone gets shot, and he wants it back; and he will never forget you did that.

Do they?

The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis is published by Penguin Books on 02 October. Order now! I have….

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/sep/27/this-guy-doesnt-know-anything-the-inside-story-of-trumps-shambolic-transition-team

 

Smashing the Family China

Possibly the oddest war in history may be about to break out.

Relations between far-distant China and Sweden (“Sweden! Who knew, Sweden!” – © D Trump) have descended into a series of unflattering tit-for-tat exchanges.

The two nations are yelling at one another over a strange incident in which a family of Chinese tourists, we are led to believe, turned up a day early at the Stockholm hotel they’d booked, and being refused a room, insisted on camping overnight in the lobby.

After failing to persuade them to go away and come back the next day, staff called the police, who escorted the Chinese outside. The visitors then began kicking-off and screaming in the street at the top of their lungs, protesting they were being kidnapped.

The son later made a complaint that the police had roughed them up, and the embassy intervened with a fullblown diplomatic rebuke to the Swedish government, which had enough problems at the time as it was during an election period in which the Western media were agog to see if the world’s most liberal nation was about to turn fascist.

A deluge of anti-Chinese memes from the public, and a poorly judged ten-minute satirical slot on mainstream Swedish TV alluding to the eating of dogs and other unsavory Oriental habits, have further served to rack-up the tension.

The Washington Post comments:

“Some observers suspect ulterior motives. Analysts see a link between the Chinese government’s vehement reaction and the fact that Sweden has been pushing for the release of Gui Minhai, a China-born publisher with Swedish citizenship who has been detained since January after publishing unflattering books about Chinese leaders.”

It certainly looks like a put-up job, involving a cast of what poor mad Alex Jones of Infowars would undoubtedly term ‘crisis actors’. The Chinese are ludicrously sensitive, given their size and growing economic power, their four thousand years of culture, to any hint of criticism. Indeed, internet memes have been taken down, of Supreme Leader Xi being compared with the chubby, lovable Pooh Bear Disney character, to whom he bears an obvious resemblance. If he can’t take a little affectionate ribbing, what hope is there for continuing reform?

More seriously, the rate of imprisonment or worse of critics labelled as dissidents: human rights lawyers, artists and journalists, even political opponents branded without much evidence as corrupt, certainly not as corrupt as their accusers, has been increasing rapidly.

Concerns are being raised over the fate of China’s leading international movie star, Fan Binbing, who has not been seen in public for several weeks; while news of her birthday, normally celebrated by millions of fans on internet sites such as Weibo, has been suppressed.

The Cleveland Courier reported:

“She was booked to star with Penelope Cruz in the Hollywood film “355” and has a role in the upcoming Bruce Willis-Adrien Brody feature ‘Air Strike’. Yet for nearly three months, Fan hasn’t been seen or heard from in public in any verifiable way. One of China’s wealthiest entertainers, Fan pulled down tens of millions of dollars for her roles, along with handsome sums in appearance fees and product endorsements. Some of those contracts may have landed her in hot water with the authorities.”

While The Guardian story points to what appears to be some private jealousy on the part of powerful State officials at her growing influence and wealth – and possible involvement in “a public scandal over actors underreporting their earnings”, which she had previously denied.

“An article in the official Securities Daily in August said she had been ‘placed under control and will accept legal judgement’. The story was quickly removed, and any mentions of it were scrubbed from Chinese social media along with Fan’s name.”

It’s pretty disturbing when someone so prominent can simply be made to disappear. (We’ll assume she hasn’t just been kidnapped by Kim Jong-un to make a picture in Pyongyang (that has happened before!)).

It illustrates that China is not really the great new consumer society opening up to the world, as the PR image portrays it. In reality, it remains the nasty, small-minded, thuggish dictatorship it always was, riddled with corruption, illegality and human rights abuses at the highest levels.

And they eat dogs.

 

Hurricane watch

GW: Pick me up and whirl me around!

The hurricane/typhoon/cyclone (all the same thing) season is well under way. Weather-watchers in Australia are bogling at the emergence of Tropical Storm Liua, expected to become a Cat 2 cyclone bringing heavy rain to the Solomon Islands, as it is “exceptionally rare” for a southwest Pacific cyclone to develop as early as September, the season not normally beginning in the southern hemisphere until November. In fact it hasn’t happened for 70 years. The forecast track has it possibly affecting north island, New Zealand later next week. (Various regional news outlets)

‘Enormous’ Typhoon Trami seen from the International Space Station, 26 Sept.

Typhoon Trami is no longer at the moment a ‘supertyphoon’ as windspeeds have dropped from 160 to about 105 mph owing to a replacement of the eyewall, a 30 mph dry wind shear and the churning up of colder water from depth. However, it’s enormous – still 400 miles from Okinawa, it’s already causing heavy rainfall as far north as Japan’s southerly main island of Hokkaido, where it’s expected to arrive possibly as a strengthened Cat 2 or even 3 on Sunday with potential for 20 inches or more of rain. (Wunderground/CNN)

Post-tropical Storm Leslie is puzzling everyone as it is stuck, going round in circles over the Gulf Stream in mid-Atlantic, picking up energy but no rotational organization. Wunderground’s Dr Jeff Masters is still expecting it to do something more interesting, windspeeds strengthening at least temporarily to at least Cat 2 hurricane force. The forecast tracks are a blur but suggest some southwestward movement toward Bermuda. “We may be dealing with Leslie for a long while to come”, writes Jeff.

Nearing the Lesser Antilles, off-on Tropical Storm Kirk has reorganized. “Kirk’s structure improved on Wednesday morning, with a growing convective core and improving outflow at upper levels. Kirk is traveling over warm waters (sea surface temperatures around 29°C or 84°F) that extend to some depth, and wind shear is less than 10 knots, so Kirk might intensify a bit more and approach (or perhaps reach) hurricane strength by Wednesday night or Thursday. Kirk has only a brief window of time for intensification, though, as it will soon encounter the wall of wind shear that’s kept the Caribbean free of tropical cyclones in recent weeks.” (Wunderground)

Update Friday: Tropical storm warnings were flying on Thursday afternoon for the Lesser Antilles islands of Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique, and Guadeloupe as Tropical Storm Kirk cruised west-northwest at 14 mph through the island chain. With top winds of just 50 mph at 2 pm EDT Thursday, Kirk was primarily a heavy rain threat, with up to 10” of rain expected across much of the region. Kirk’s center will pass over or very near the island of Martinique by late afternoon Tuesday.  (Wunderground)

Update Saturday: TS Kirk dumps between 6 and 10 inches of rain on Barbados in under 15 hours

After reaching Cat 4, Hurricane Rosa has made its northwestwards turn outward of the Mexico coast and is progressing at 14 mph towards Baja California. “Life-threatening surf” conditions are predicted. Wunderground’s view is it will weaken over the coast before heading inland, dropping 2-3 in. of rain over the Arizona desert, pushing yet another storm front up through the midwestern “corn belt” into Minnesota and Michigan, where they must be getting fed up with this. Amateur weather watcher, MrMBB333 points out, it is quite an unusual track for an eastern Pacific hurricane to take.

Update Friday: Rosa is rapidly strengthening about 550 miles southwest of the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Paninsula. With top sustained winds of 105 mph Rosa is feeding on very warm waters and a moist surrounding atmosphere amid light wind shear less than 10 knots. These conditions favor Rosa becoming the seventh major hurricane of the season. (Wunderground) Massive flooding already affecting Cabo San Lucas, southern Baja.

Invest 98-L meanwhile – “zombie Florence” – fell apart over North Carolina, limiting rainfall to just another inch or so. The remnants are heading back out to sea. (ABC News/Wunderground)

Infared satellite image showing Zorbas’ distinct hurricane “eye” as it heads toward Crete, Saturday 29th.

And in Europe, Medicane Zorbas… Greek authorities have issued a Red alert for Kefalonia and the SE. “An intense cyclone is confirmed – severe wind and life-threatening flash floods are expected in some areas.” (Severe-weather.eu). Satellite imagery shows sustained winds of 85 mph gusting to over 100 mph around a formal “hurricane” eye. Such an organized cyclone is very rare in Europe but consistent with the general misbehavior of cyclones in 2018.

Medicane Zorbas arriving off Kytheria island.

Friday update: Gale force winds have already battered Greece this week, forcing authorities to shut down ferries and schools and causing flight delays. The strong winds toppled trees on to power lines in the northern suburbs of Athens, with the fire department saying it received more than 350 calls to remove debris. Schools remain shut. On the western island of Kefalonia, schools were evacuated near a wildfire that was being fanned by the strong winds. The last medicane in Greece, dubbed Cyclone Numa, killed 21 people. (from Metro report)

Update Saturday: the wildfire in Kefalonia is burning “out of control”, fanned by severe storm force winds. (Keep Talking Greece news)

More “messy sky” syndrome. The skyscape here changes with bewildering rapidity, yet there’s little wind.

Canada: 21 Sept. 6 confirmed tornadoes, one at F3 (out of 5), touched down in the Ottawa area causing severe damage and lengthy power outages. The federal agency says the unexpected tornadoes — 3 in eastern Ontario and 3 in western Quebec – reached gusts of up to 265 kilometres per hour as they destroyed houses, buildings and power lines. Several people were injured. Ottawa U. climatologist, Paul Beckwith says the shifting jetstream is changing the normal distribution of tornadoes in Canada and the USA.

Are they spying on us? Blobby clouds materiallze, grow fat and then dissipate again, vanishing back into the ether. Is there more water vapor in the atmosphere these days, thanks to warming?

UK: Is a giant, 1200-mile wide, 85mph storm out in the Atlantic going to arrive over these isles next week? Are we being told?

Here in Boglington-on-Sea we have wall-to-wall clear blue sky and unseasonally warm early Autumn conditions; although a gossamer-thin layer of very high altus cloud can just be made out via polarizing lenses, filtering the sunlight a little. Nevertheless, we say nyah-nah! to the naysayers. (I can’t decide whether to buy a home weather station or a pollution monitor, financially it’s a toss-up. But it’s The Pumpkin’s birthday next week, so we’ll have to decide. Generally nowadays he has to buy his own presents.)

Friday update: blue sky again today – but those weird little blobs (imagine a 9-year-old kid’s drawing of clouds) and messy sky syndrome returned yesterday afternoon, and again yesterday morning, and again on Saturday (lower, right) when the sky went from clear blue, to a few shining blobs, to looming masses of blobs, to completely clear again in under an hour. Some jet trails did not appear to be attached to any aircraft we could see or hear. Take it from me, there’s some higher intelligence operating here, of wot we wit not.

In case anyone believes the Express is a reliable source of weather information, today’s headline screams of “SNOW Forecast!” as an “Arctic blast” hits Scotland. Further in to the story it turns out the Met office says a cold, windy, rainy front is expected over the weekend. Turns out, it’s only the bookmakers who are taking bets on “a flake or two”. I.o.w., more Express bullshitty clickbait.

Pictured, right: we’ve had more than two months of these mysterious ‘blobby clouds’ like a child’s drawing, often appearing low in the sky on sunny days in ones and twos, growing and clustering together, often in serried rows or forming “trains”, before vanishing just as mysteriously leaving a clear blue sky.

Or is it always like this, and your Uncle Bogler, the man with the cameraphone, is going mad?

 

 

 

Article in progress, about the elections in Brazil and the threat posed by the front runner to the rainforest

The ends of the earth (provisional title – do we really want to run this here? Ed.)

“Deforestation rates have been trending mostly upward since 2012 and will surely escalate if a raft of proposed laws and regulatory changes to weaken environmental protections are enacted. Brazil lost 2,682 square miles of Amazonian forests in 2017. That is almost nine times the size of New York City and 78 percent above the government’s own target for meeting its obligations under the Paris accord.” (NYT Opinion piece: The Amazon on the Brink?)

“To his credit, (President)Temer pledged in Paris to cut his country’s carbon dioxide emissions 37 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. His actions since then tell a different story. Last year, the Environment Ministry’s budget was cut nearly in half, as part of a national austerity plan amid Brazil’s punishing recession. … (Elections, 07 Oct): “The current front-runner, Jair Bolsonaro, is a climate-change skeptic who has been called “the tropical Trump.” He has threatened to take Brazil out of the Paris climate accord.” (NYT)

Around 45 forest defenders and environmentalists are being murdered every year by corrupt logging interests, soya and palm oil planters; recently there appears to have been a genocide of a native tribe getting in the way of mining rights.

Is there any hope for the Amazon, one of our principal oxygenators and carbon “sinks” – any more than for endangered rhino, the African elephant or the leopard, perennial victims of the insane trade in bogus “harmonious” Chinese medicines?

(Maybe the story doesn’t need more elaboration? We get the picture. Ed.)

(New York Times report http://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/opinion/amazon-climate-change-deforestation.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=sectionfront&wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_todayworld)

 

Buzzfeed News

A Bee-feature in the Guardian (28 Sept.) gives some hope for a saner world.

With one in every 200 people keeping bees, Slovenia may be the world’s most bee-friendly country.

The first country in Europe to ban neonicotinoids, its citizens are encouraged to plant bee-friendly flowers and shrubs. In the capital, Ljubljana, one of the cleanest cities in Europe, the Bee Path project “encourages citizens to plant nectar-bearing flowers, hands out seeds, organises tours of bee-related locations, and supports the faculty of architecture to design new forms of city beehive.

“Grass is cut later to prolong the blooming of flowers. The use of glyphosate herbicide for fighting weeds is prohibited in public areas. An educational bee house was erected in the botanical gardens to research the lives of urban bees. School beekeeping clubs are booming. There is even a bee-based kindergarten.” A special “rapid response” team is on call to go out and transport rogue swarms back to their hives.

As a result of these and other measures, bee populations in Slovenia remain healthy and no cases of colony collapse disorder have been reported recently.

Are you reading about it, Mr Gove? Hello, mayors Khan, Burnham and others? How about your cities? (The useless teenage masturbators who run Sheffield council, where secretive contractors are cutting down all the inconvenient trees and people have been imprisoned for protesting, might like to know that in Ljubljana alone, “There are 65,000 registered trees, and authorities now only plant nectar-bearing trees.”

The Pumpkin admits, he has hosted almost no bees in his little garden in West Wales this year, despite encouraging the rampant growth of flowering Sedum and not trimming his laurel hedge. And very few individual bees, although still quite a wide range of species, has he seen on his walks either.

Frankly, given that there is no arable farming here, usually to blame for bee loss, he has no explanation other than climate change disrupting the seasonal breeding cycles of plants and their pollinators.

Could try harder, Britain.

Brexit: with Doomsday fast approaching… GW: “Blow, blow, thou Winter wind” (in September!)… All aboard the Skylark!… Coming to the boil… The magic ball.

Great Quote of the Week!

“They persecuted Jesus, and look what happened!”

– Bill Cosby’s publicist, on his client’s 3-10 year sentence for serious sex offences.

 

“And I tell you, guys, the water, ocean water, was up to here… You never saw so much water! And there was a boat, such a great boat… they didn’t know whose boat… I’d like a boat, but the water…”.

Brexit: Doomsday fast approaching

Oh dear. The National Farmers’ Union is not really a workers’ Union, it’s about the most conservative bunch of wealthy muckspreaders you can find anywhere: our equivalent of the NRA. Even they’re warning that Britain’s farmers won’t be allowed to export any produce to the EU for at least six months in the event of our crashing out of the lucrative market with no deal, while new licensing arrangements are negotiated. That and the immediate ending of EU farm subsidies would put many farmers out of business, although the cows might welcome it.

Their warning comes on top of the Government’s own admission that nothing has been done either about the EU’s Open Skies policy, that permits free movement of commercial flights between member countries, so nobody will be flying to or from anywhere in Europe come April Fool’s Day, 2019. That could include transfer passengers to or from anywhere in the world hubbing at Heathrow for European destinations. Oh dear. You’ll need a neck pillow and some bottled water.

The EU passport scheme for pets travelling between countries will also be off the books, with a likelihood that separate controls will have to be reapplied to prevent the spread of rabies, meaning animals without a relevant inoculation certificate can be quarantined for six months, at a cost of several hundred pounds a week. Four months’ notice will be required before travelling following each inoculation, so don’t imagine you and poochie can just pick up and go.

That’s the caravanning market decimated.

There’s a question mark, too, over Britons hoping to take up residence in an EU country, as both Hungary and Italy have imposed much more severe controls on immigration that could well apply to British nationals; especially brown ones. In Hungary, it would even be illegal for a lawyer to advise you on the immigration rules. Not that you’d be mad enough to want to live there. And political parties are rising in France, Germany, Austria that also have decided views about brown people.

Car manufacturers are getting nervous. Apart from small niche firms like TVR, Morgan and Caterham, there is no longer an indigenous British car manufacturing industry: all our car plants are owned by garlic- and sushi-munchers: Peugeot, BMW – VW, who own our prestigious Rolls Royce marque – India (Jaguar-Land Rover), Kuwait (Aston Martin) or Japanese manufacturers Toyota, Nissan and Honda.

Several have already put workers on short-time. Ford said in July it will consider closing its two remaining UK engine plants, both of which are in towns where the majority of people voted to leave the EU. Ford stopped making passenger cars in the UK in 2002.

Without a deal, these foreign-owned mass manufacturers won’t be able to export their UK-made cars to Europe and vice versa. They’ll be sad to go, because our workforce was the most efficient in the world. As for the “just-in-time” parts market, scattered all over Europe and beyond, the only possible outcome is total chaos.

Cars will be piling up on the docksides and in the fields. (Alamy.com)

The food industry, too, has warned that delays of just half an hour in Customs control at the new borders, bound to happen at the peak holiday periods, already does, will send one in ten UK suppliers spinning out of the game.

The BogPo has been warning about this sort of consequence since long before the poor deluded dumbfucks voted out. Sadly, they don’t read me. (Although, after a week averaging two viewings a day, we had 33 yesterday. Get with the program!)

Meanwhile, the prospect of anyone doing a trade deal with Trump’s America is fast receding as he simply does not believe in free trade or internationalism, and made that quite clear at the UN summit. America’s greatness will rise again in a climate of serene isolation, protected by his beautiful tariffs, his wall, his Muslim ban (we have Muslims here. So many! Who knew?) and his crushing charmlessness, free from the taint of Obama’s lousy deals. So weak.

Things are indeed so appallingly worrisome, that Mrs May has had to appoint a Minister especially to ensure we have enough of everything, come Doomsday. Or, as she put it in New York yesterday: “That’s why we’ve been looking at this concept of the economy of the future, to make sure we have those building blocks in place that are needed post-Brexit.”

Exactly, you need to plan for food riots.

David Rutley, a former Asda and PepsiCo executive, was handed the Ministry of Everything brief at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs earlier this month. Who knew it? And why the secrecy? Was it to keep it out of the news until after St Theresa’s rude awakening in Strasbourg last week?

“There has been a level of naivety that people can stockpile food, which is completely impossible and shows a misunderstanding of how the supply chain works. We would welcome someone genuinely informed and engaged”, said a food industry spokesperson, between forkfuls. Why, what is poor Mr Rutley going to do about it if it all goes pear-belle-Helène shaped? Are we supposed to eat him?

And yet the Great Masturbators: Johnson, Gove, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey, Jacob Rees-Mogg, tortoise-headed Iain Cunting Smith, that fanatical German immigrant woman, the DUP; ambitious Steve Baker and the incomparably dense Bernard Jenkin, plus a coterie of swivel-eyed Brexshit lunatics: Empire Loyalists, proto-fascists, other Express readers, John Redwood, certifiable misogynist Peter Bone (formerly named Britain’s Meanest Employer), ramblin’ Bill Cash and the like, are still sticking their fingers in their ears and chanting “Nya-nah, can’t hear you!” as they march off into the sunset, waving their little flags and whistling cheerily as the darkness falls.

Hush my darlings, ’tis only Project Fear.

Better take a packed lunch.

Be on the safe side.

Beware The Wolves of Wall Street

“Theresa May has been put on the defensive over Brexit at a business summit in New York after a leading chief executive asked her to explain the possible risks of Britain’s departure on future investment, saying: ‘How bad can things get?’ The question came from Steve Schwarzman of asset management firm Blackstone.” (Guardian, 26 Sept.) He described Brexit as “a little daunting”, and asked May about what he said were the risks of a change of government in the UK.

Now, let’s not get carried away, crying salt tears for the global investment community. Mr Schwarzman (see Post passim) is a canny operator undaunted by complex matters, a billionaire of course, head of a spinoff from the BlackRock Corporation, the world’s largest asset management group (that pays former Chancellor, George “eight jobs” Osborne £650k a year for a day’s free lunching, most weeks), who is on record as claiming that his investors can benefit mightily from the uncertainties caused by chaotic events such as Brexit.

He really doesn’t care what happens so long as he has the inside track enabling him to hedge his bets on the markets imploding or, irrational as it may sound, soaring on the news of No Deal.

“Things” can get as bad as Theresa and the Tory right damn well like, he’s going to make his billions either way.

That’s all the meeting was about: gathering intelligence.

Something this “government of all the chancers” is sorely lacking.

Underneath the arches

“Last week, Blackstone paid £1.5bn for thousands of commercial spaces underneath Victorian railway arches in the UK.” (Guardian).

Well, we’ll have to live somewhere.

Milk Brexit, or Plain? Either way, contains nuts…. (“Cadbury stockpiles ingredients in case of hard Brexit”. Guardian, 11 Sept. Photo: Shutterstock)

 

GW: “Blow, blow, thou Winter wind” (in September!)

Japan: Wunderground UPDATE, Tuesday 25 Sept: Trami was updated to Category 5 status with the 5 pm EDT Monday advisory from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), with top sustained winds of 160 mph. Trami now qualifies as a super typhoon.” A northward change in track means Trami will probably not now hit Taiwan but instead pass directly over the Ryukyu islands of Japan, such as Okinawa, before turning again to target the main island of Honshu as a less powerful but still nevertheless potentially devastating storm. Another one!

Wednesday update: Trami has weakened to a 155 mph Cat 4 as it is moving so slowly it has churned up a lot of cold water from depth. It may re-strengthen later over SST at 84F, although wind shear is picking up to its north and may inhibit growth. Still on course for Japan. (Wunderground)

Caribbean: Tropical Depression Kirk appears to be the next threat, taking a southerly track out of the Atlantic, although it has weakened slightly with sustained winds of 35 mph. “If the models are correct, high wind shear and dry air should be able to destroy Kirk’s circulation just before or soon after it arrives in the Lesser Antilles Islands on Thursday. However, Kirk may still be capable of trouble in this scenario, as the storm could pack tropical storm-force winds and dump heavy rains of 3 – 6” in the islands, causing flash floods and landslides.” (Dr Jeff Masters, Wunderground)

Tunisia: At least 4 people have died in flash floods in northern Tunisia over the last few days. 1 person was swept away by floods in Takilsa, another in Bir Bouregba and 2 people near Bou Argoub. 197 mm of rain fell in Nabeul on 22 September. Tunisia’s Ministry of Agriculture reported a record-breaking 297 mm of rain fell in Béni Khalled in 24 hours to 23 September. Roads, bridges and homes were damaged and vehicles swept away.” (Floodlist)

Nigeria: Nearly half a million people are currently affected by flooding in 8 states of the country. At least 108 people have died, with a further 192 injured. As of 24 September (after a month of rains) there were 141,369 people displaced by the floods. There is an urgent need for food and non-food relief items. (edited from Floodlist)

Ghana: “Long-term heavy rainfall combined with water releases from the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso, have caused severe flooding in northern Ghana over the past few weeks. At least 34 people have died. The country’s northern regions have all been affected. Local media reported that as many as 100,000 people have been displaced.” (Floodlist)

Mexico: “At least 7 people have died and 8 are missing after flash flooding in the state of Michoacán on 23 Sept. 58 mm of rain fell on Peribán in the space of 2 hours, causing the Cutio river to overflow. Cars, trees, mud and debris were dragged along streets. At least 100 homes were damaged.

In the state of Sinaloa, “storms brought heavy rain and severe flooding from 19 September, 2018. Severe weather was caused by the passage of Tropical Depression 19-E. 359 mm of rain fell in Los Mochis in 24 hours to 20 September. 3 dead, 60,000 without power and 150,000 affected by interruptions to drinking water supply.” (from Floodlist)

USA: “A broad area of low pressure (98L) was located about 300 miles south-southwest of Bermuda on Sunday afternoon (23 Sept). Conditions were favorable for development. The low was expected to track to the northwest towards North Carolina during the next few days, with the center passing very near Cape Hatteras Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. On this track, 98L could bring unwelcome rains of 1 – 2” to portions of eastern North Carolina ravaged by Hurricane Florence’s extreme rains a week ago.”

Meanwhile, “Subtropical (now Extrasubtropical) Storm Leslie continued to amble across the remote central North Atlantic, awaiting more dramatic developments to come later this week.” (Wunderground)

In the eastern Pacific, way off Mexico, Tropical Storm Rosa packing sustained winds of 65 mph and gusting to hurricane-force 85 mph seems to be making a north-eastward turn toward the coast of California. Moody’s Analytics estimates that Hurricane Florence caused around $44 billion in damage and lost output. (CBS News)

Greece: “Models are confirming the development of an intense Tropical-like cyclone / Medicane, named ‘Zorbas’ in the Ionian sea this Friday, Sept 28th. While still many uncertainties are present, high resolution models are picking up a very intense cyclone bringing even hurricane force winds into the region. Dangerous, life-threatening flash floods will also be possible across southern Greece this weekend.” (severe-weather.eu)

“An associated sharp and intense cold front will rapidly move towards east-central Europe, across the Balkan peninsula and (into the) Mediterranean through the next 3 days. Much colder weather will spread across the eastern half of the continent, while west/southwest Europe remains under a strong (highest pressure recorded since 1953) ridge and heatwave.” (39C in southern Spain, 38C in Portugal – 100F – to persist all week.) (severe-weather.eu)

 

“Why Americans always seem to believe climate change only affects them is the result no doubt of their insular exceptionalism and abysmal geographical knowledge…”

All aboard the Skylark

Millions of Americans are expected to become ‘climate refugees’ in the coming decades as their coastal homes and communities are already experiencing sea level rise.

Some cities are abandoning whole neighborhoods, razing their valueless housing to the ground, as people move out and each high tide brings more sewage-contaminated flooding. A very small number of the worst affected communities have received grudging federal funding to shift in their entirety to higher ground. But will that continue?

In a Guardian Environment special article, Oliver Milman writes that the exodus is already beginning:

“…the cost of doing this for all at-risk Americans would be eye-watering. Estimates range from $200,000 to $1m per person to undertake a relocation. If 13 million people do have to move, it seems fantastical to imagine $13tn, or even a significant fraction of this amount, being spent by governments to ease the way.”

Especially as Donald Trump’s madcap scheme to create a space “army” is costing $13 billion in its first five years.

Milman cites a number of sources:

“‘I don’t see the slightest evidence that anyone is seriously thinking about what to do with the future climate refugee stream,’ said Orrin Pilkey, professor emeritus of coastal geology at Duke University. ‘It boggles the mind to see crowds of climate refugees arriving in town and looking for work and food.’

“Pilkey’s new book – Sea Level Rise Along Americas Shores: The Slow Tsunami – envisions apocalyptic scenes where millions of people, largely from south Florida, will become ‘a stream of refugees moving to higher ground’.”

Maritime Miami – high tide brings regular flooding, as Trump rows back coastal zoning regs and defunds flood insurance.

Why Americans always seem to believe climate change only affects them is the result no doubt of their insular exceptionalism and abysmal geographical knowledge, but Milman points to wildfires, megastorms, water shortages and dustbowl conditions returning to the midwest as further spurs to migration; and suggests that many people arriving at the Mexican border from southern Central America are in fact climate refugees.

He doesn’t explain how we’re going to feed everyone as land available for growing food shrinks and the heat outpaces the ability of science to create tolerant crops. Maybe the Evangelicals have a solution for that?

By 2050, Pilkey reports, up to 300 million people worldwide will be displaced by intolerable living conditions. Abrupt climate change does not feature on his horizon, however: he imagines there will still be Americans living, who will have to migrate northwards by 2100 – if they can afford it.

Meanwhile rising sea levels aren’t featuring on Trump’s unique radar either, as among measures he’s already signed are a rollback of Obama-era regulations on building developments in flood-prone areas and the defunding of the Federal support program for coastal dwellers who can’t get insured. Oh, and taking $10 million out of the FEMA budget to pay for more internment facilities for South American refugees’ confiscated children.

Yet he has ordered the building of higher seawalls at his links golf courses.

What a putz that man is.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/24/americas-era-of-climate-mass-migration-is-here

 

Yellowstone: 22 Sept: Steamboat geyser (biggest in the park) erupts for the 20th time this year (normally once or twice in a year if at all), and for well over an hour. Other dormant and new geysers popping up, chucking rocks; mud pools superheating, quakes swarming, vegetation dying, sulphur gas rising, ground pulsating, cracks appearing, data disappearing; park management closing areas to visitors.

Could it be? Surely not. It’s done this before, in 2003. Only…

 

Coming to the boil

“…the lake, about 20 football fields in size, looked as if it was boiling. Its waters hissed, bubbled and popped as a powerful greenhouse gas escaped from the lake bed. Some bubbles grew as big as grapefruits, visibly lifting the water’s surface several inches and carrying up bits of mud from below. This was methane.”

“Katey Walter Anthony has studied some 300 lakes across the tundras of the Arctic. But sitting on the mucky shore of her latest discovery, the Arctic expert said she’d never seen a lake like this one.”

Exploration revealed the gas was mostly coming from vents in the shallow karst lakebed, indicating some deeper reserves possibly linked to the fields of methane craters observed in northern Siberia (and on Mars, a dead planet):

“…in some locations, permafrost soil, and its characteristic wedges of embedded ice, also sits atop ancient reserves of fossil fuels, including methane gas. So as the Arctic warms – which it is doing twice as fast as the rest of the Earth – these gases could be liberated into the atmosphere.”

In other words, we can add a new threat to the anticipated 50 gigatonnes outgassing from seabed methane hydrates as the shallow East Siberian Arctic Sea warms without its summer ice cover (The colorfully named “methane burp”). The already scary implications of thawing tundra – billions of tonnes of rotted vegetation from the last ice age, giving off CO2 and methane as it heats – could get a lot worse, as the permafrost appears to be sitting on potentially huge pockets of methane dating from the carboniferous era, and once it goes…. kaboom!

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/arctic-lake-methane-alaska-gas-esieh-video-a8553666.html

Arctic News (“Sam Carana”) reports (24 Sept):

“Mean global methane levels were as high as 1.91 ppm (1910 parts per billion) on the morning of September 20, 2018, at 293 millibar. This is a level unprecedented in human history and far exceeds the WMO-data-based trend. Temperatures look set for a steep rise within years, as we now are fully in the danger zone.”

The graph shows 10C of warming is a possible worst-case scenario (including from feedbacks such as methane releases and wildfires not taken into account in the IPCC’s watered-down reports) by 2026; implying almost complete species extinction.

So we don’t have to worry about sea-level rise.

 

CO2 news

“In order to prevent further warming, carbon dioxide levels must not grow any further. … There is absolutely no hint in the data that this is happening. On the contrary, the rate of growth is itself growing, having now reached about 2.3 ppm/yr, the highest growth rate ever seen in modern times (e.g. 10,000 years – ed.).

“This is not just a “business as usual” scenario, it is worse than that, we’re actually moving backward, becoming more and more unsustainable with every year. This shows unequivocally that the efforts undertaken so-far to limit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are woefully inadequate.” – Paper: “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Growth Rate” by Carl Edward Rasmussen, 14 Sept 2018 (with minor edits for his English)

Rasmussen also comprehensively demolishes any notion that there was a pause in the growth rate between 2002 and 2016 (e.g. Keenan, and others, 2016 “Recent pause in the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 due to enhanced terrestrial carbon uptake”) which he says is based on a misreading of the data.

(Abstracted in Arctic News, 24 Sept.)

 

The magic ball

Like many a dog, Hunzi’s passion is chasing a tennis ball.

But he sometimes loses them.

He used to lose them by going into the river to cool off. He’d put the ball down on the water while he slaked his prodigious thirst. Until one day he discovered one of the key principles of hydrology and twigged why his ball was on its way to the seaside. He leaves them on the bank now.

He used to lose them by dropping them on the footbridge and watching helplessly while they rolled away under the guardrail into the water below. He listened carefully to my explanation, with gestures, and now he puts the ball down at the start of the bridge and lets me carry it over for him, if I remember.

He learned about gravity by putting the ball down on a slope where it would run away into the long grass below, while neither of us was looking. Now he makes sure it runs toward me; but anyway he has got much better at finding balls in the long grass and pulls off the most amazing-seeming rescues.

But as yet he hasn’t figured out what happens when he does his thing of not catching the ball cleanly, which he can do, but knocking it up excitingly in the air with his big nose. The footpath has a chainlink fence on one side, and a steep drop into a flood pit on the other. Both sides are infested with dense thickets of brambles, from which even if you can see it, a ball is non-recoverable.

He gets really upset when I refuse to throw a ball under these particular sets of circumstances, along the difficult foorpath. Looking back over his shoulder pleadingly, he will run into obstacles, tread in other doggies’ doodoo and even when we make it to the road, get hit (gently) by cars.

Often, I don’t want to pick up his horrid ball anymore, it’s all cold and slobbery and covered in shit and mud, the way he likes it. And so is my hand. Yergh! So I kick it along the path and he refuses to chase it, finding an interesting p-mail to read and reply to instead.

But if I don’t have his ball, and he doesn’t have his ball, he never believes me. I show him my empty hands, my car keys, my phone. Go on, he says, I don’t believe you. You’ve made it invisible somehow but I know you have it and I expect you to throw it!

So the other day we lost a ball down the brambly bank; and the next day we lost the other ball over the chainlink fence – there’s another steep bank behind there too. And that was the end of the balls. Or so I thought.

The next day he stopped at the chainlink fence and got all excited, and it seemed the wind had blown in the night and the ball was now resting on the ground just behind the fence, and I was able to prise it out.

About a quarter of a mile on, however, it vanished again, into the long grass by the cycle path behind the supermarket. I’m not an accurate thrower, I have hypermobility in my throwing shoulder.

Also, I’ve been looking at clouds a lot lately, they seem different somehow.

Neither of us could find it by sight or smell, and it was already disgusting anyway, so I made him walk on. Just forget it!

Our yellow tennis balls especially for dogs have an inbuilt squeaker Hunzi originally worried about, thinking he was crushing a puppy, but now he likes to make it squeak. And the word ‘KONG!’ printed on them in boldface caps, although he may not know that.

So we were nearing home about three quarters of a mile later, and there, lying right in the middle of the footpath, was a yellow tennis ball. It squoke, and had the word ‘KONG!’ printed on it. Where had it come from? There were no other dogs around.

A magic ball!

Naturally we were both delighted, me because I didn’t need to go to Cheap Charlie’s and buy more. That’s as far as my pleasure went: it was cold and slobbery and covered in mud, the way he likes them. But I threw it anyway, for old times’ sake.

Today, sadly, my throw was off again and it’s in the middle of a patch of ground-elder, where neither of us can find it.

For now, obviously.

 

Ad hic

Are you worried about what THEY know about you?

Just now, I had to enable ads on a page in AccuWeather after they moaned and groaned about my AdBlocker, and was astonished to see that this US-based website owned by IBM was pitching me cheap hotel accommodation in North London.

That’s because, ten days ago, I did a quick lookup on Trivago to see if any hotels were near to where the jazz school I go to in France every year was having a Christmas session, and decided in the end I probably wouldn’t go as the only option was a total flophouse.

Yet here they were, offering me a cut-price deal on what was already a cut-price roomrate. Forty quid? In London? You probably had to share a bed with a couple of scrofulati, I don’t know, I wasn’t about to find out. Waste of the advertiser’s money.

Worse

Worse, you know if you have Gmail, the pointless design makeover they just had, you now get three instant reply options, where you click on the most appropriate and it sends an auto-message, saving you the bother?

Well, I was “talking” to a guitar dealer about possibly getting hold of a rather expensive instrument he was advertising on a sale-or-return basis, and said I would have to go into town to arrange a transfer at my branch.

And the very first auto-reply option that came up was ‘I’ve transferred the money to your account’….

The fuckin’ algorithm is reading my email content.

So who else is reading it? If I go back to AccuWeather in a day or so, is every dealer in fuckin’ Britain going to be selling me expensive guitars?

Are my kids going to take the piss as they think I’m crazy buying guitars? They’ve never heard me play!

Is anyone I owe money to going to call me up and say, hang on a minute, buddy, we wuz ‘ere first?

This is a private matter! It’s none of Google’s effin’ business.

Beam me up, Scotty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 63. Review: The Good Book… Robbing Peter to pay Donald… He’s not one for the birds… GW: rememberin’ to take my Medicane…

“Is that a solution to the Irish border question in your pocket, Donald, or are you just pleased to see me?”

 

“…more than any book I have yet read on the subject, this one is the dog’s bollocks.” – Uncle Bogler

This is not the world you imagine you are living in

The Good Book Reviewed

For those interested in ‘The Russia Thing’, it might be an idea to read “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump“, by Michael Isikoff and David Corn.

It’s a tangled web, but to understand the Russia links between Paul Manafort, his former campaign chair; assorted oligarchs, and President Trump; the nefarious hacking or phishing attacks and disinformation campaigns of the different Russian intelligence services – why nobody took any notice of them until it was too late – the dodgy roles of Flynn, Page and Stone, and those notorious Clinton emails, this, more than any book I have yet read on the subject, is the dog’s bollocks.

I wish I had read it two years ago, had it been written then; it would have saved me making a fool of myself on too many occasions when I have Bogld or Commented on US politics, which I struggle to understand; so much is sui generis. Some of the details that seemed so clear are obviously not as I imagined them to be; unlike the book authors, my sources are at best third-hand, biased media (maybe unintentionally, their sources feed them with stories they think the audience is going to like), in a schema where everyone has an agenda. What, for instance, is so secret about what the political parties, their staffers and pet pollsters get up to, that so much intrigue has to be gone into?

Anyone familiar with a British election will know, it’s just making a few speeches about ‘strong and stable government; slagging-off your opponents’ economic incompetence; writing an almost convincing manifesto, hiring a tour bus covered in lies, pushing it to the voters on the doormat and spinning the poll numbers without overspending a legally enforceable budget the average US politician wouldn’t even notice gone from his pocket-change.

Isn’t it?

I mean, what made Manafort so valuable, he could get a $10 million a year contract to promote a ruthless Putin thug for President of a foreign country, the Ukraine, where he probably didn’t even speak the language? All he did was persuade the guy to wear sharper suits – and promise to lock his attractive blonde opponent, Yulia Timoshenko, up for crimes he said she’d committed. Which he did.

Ring any bells?

Manafort had been doing this shit for years, his firm handling PR for some of the most horrible tyrants on the planet: brutal torturers, killers, rapists, kleptocrats and even reputed cannibals. Corrupt and squalid African dictators were his specialty: no wonder when he ran out of money to buy more ostrich-skin jackets and New York apartments, he and his sidekick Gates gravitated to the Trump campaign.

And why didn’t Putin crony and suspect mafioso Oleg Deripaska (a yachty friend of our own Lord Peter Mandelson’s) simply have him rubbed-out, if he’d run off with $19 million of the dodgy oligarch’s money, hidden it offshore and wouldn’t pay it back? Why bother suing him, when you’ve been sanctioned anyway. It seems he was dissuaded, once Paulie was on the inside of the campaign and in a position to persuade the Orange Candidate, if he won, to lift the sanctions.

No, what you have to worry about is why Americans are so friggin’ dim. Why, for instance, did a middle ranking FBI officer continue fruitlessly for months sending emails warning about an actual, ongoing Russian cyber attack to the same junior IT beanbag at the Democratic National Committee, who took it no higher because he didn’t believe he was really dealing with the FBI, and couldn’t in any case find any evidence of Russian interference until he realized their malware was cunningly blocking his searches? Thus enabling Trump to claim the whole Russia thing was a Democratic put-up job.

Okay, I can talk – I just had to reconstruct this bit from an Autosave after I hit the wrong keys. But it’s worth a read if you want to make sense of a complex story and cut through the many lies and obfuscations of the Trump team and Putin’s predictable denials.

Of course Trump had business dealings with the Russians, and had had for three decades, right up until a couple of months after he was elected, maybe even now! Spoiler alert, but (apart from his cosmic ego) his entire motivation in running for the White House – he didn’t at first plan on getting in – seems to have been to raise his profile with Putin and get that prestigious Trump World Tower Moscow built, regardless of rumors of his behavior with Russia’s best prostitutes!

What he didn’t realize was that Putin was planning on getting him in; a nice double-game that would leave the Kremlin in charge of US foreign policy, especially towards the hated NATO, put one over on Clinton, also hated – get sanctions off his neck and open up devastating divisions in American society.

Isikoff and Corn have cited multiple sources for their blow-by-blow analysis of the events of the past five years, albeit with a few inevitable gaps in the narrative. (Some diagrams would have been helpful.) Many figures in the New York, Washington, Moscow and Kiev landscape are too mercurial to trace in their entirety, shadowy players flitting in and out trading a bit of gossip here, some deeper knowledge there; possibly the odd bit of misdirection and obfuscation. Many have since pled guilty to charges and are “flipping” on Trump.

And hanging over it all, the terrifying thought that there could be an even higher level of cyberwarfare only governments can command, even filthier malware that can bring your country’s entire infrastructure crashing down for months: no transportation, no power, no hospitals, no military, no industry, no internet – no food supplies…. Brexit!

Or is that just something governments want everyone to believe?

In the main, “Russian Roulette” creates a convincing narrative of warfare by other means, the Gerasimov doctrine, directed from the highest levels; both on the international stage, meddling with the electoral processes of Western countries and democracy itself, a concept anathema to Putin; and on a personal level, as the characters’ petty vendettas, overweening self-importance, endless greed and lawless mentalities play out. And the higher they rise, the scummier they get.

This is not the world you imagine you are living in.

£16.99 in paperback, or less.

 

Trumpocrisy corner

He’s not one for the birds

Swaggering Emperor-like in front of the gurning, hooting, semi-human wallpaper without which no American political rally would be complete, Trump recently made up some rambling nonsequiturs about how wind farms are killing “thousands and thousands” of birds, that crash into the sails he claims never to have seen going round owing to there being no wind. See their pathetic little corpses heaped about the bases of the masts!

The iconography of the great American outdoors clashes with the totally urban, Philistinic outlook of a President who hates the natural world.

He hates wind farms on behalf of the redundant coalminers of Virginia, imagining if he continues his frenzied assault on the renewable energy industry they will vote for him in droves; although many are more intelligent than he gives them credit for. They know it’s over and just wish the government would do more to help their communities adapt to the new reality.

But of course he does nothing, the fat liar. (This is the moron who believes “clean coal” means you wash it before you burn it…)

So concerned is Trump for our little feathery friends, his fellow dinosaurs, that his Environmental Protection Agency meanwhile is busily trying to get rid of protections for wild birds. The Guardian reports:

“In a striking new stance on a longstanding law protecting migrating birds, the federal government will essentially allow the incidental killing of birds via buildings, energy production (also lead pollution) and other developments that act as avian death traps.

‘Sadly, migratory birds have not faced this many dangers in any of our lifetimes,’ said David O’Neill, chief conservation officer at the campaign and conservancy group Audubon. ‘The pressures of climate change coupled with the federal government pulling back on protections are threatening the songbirds, the seabirds and the raptors that Americans really cherish.'” (Guardian, 21 Sept.)

Yes, the American Bald Eagle is in danger of vanishing from a landscape newly made fit only for heavily polluting fossil-energy predators; the frackers of lands, removers of mountains. Go on, Make America Great Again! Trump, you miserable bastard.

PS

If you haven’t seen The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert taking the PS out of Trump’s consoling visit to the stunned survivors wandering about the ruins of New Bern, the North Carolina coastal town that was under ten feet of storm surge last week during Hurricane Florence, where he handed out hot dogs with apple sauce with the advice to the homeless to “have a good time”, then here it is.

It’s hilarious – also a bit shocking. The Leader of the Free World is … well, you decide: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFj4vOc4GIY’ 

 

“…if you’re going to slash Medicaid and Medicare for 30 million people, you don’t need cancer research, do you?”

Robbing Peter to pay Donald

The administration was faced with a dilemma. Who was going to pay for the program of separating children as young as ten months old from their desperate mothers at the Mexican border? They needed $266 million to build detention centers, expand the courts (rubber stamps cost) and hire more very fine guards.

Unfortunately, no-one in Congress had thought to include a contingency of $266 million in this year’s budget for important things like stealing children and locking them away, or selling them on to foster parents deprived by the Magnitsky Act of their source of Russian babies.

You may have thought back in March, Trump signed an order revoking the program after the huge outcry it caused? I mean, we saw him do it, right? And blame the Democrats? Well, there were about 1,400 kids in custody at that time – including about 300 they’ve lost, who were never reunited with their families.

Now, there’s more than 13 THOUSAND.

If ever a policy of deterrence wasn’t working, this is clearly it. And if ever a President was a bigger fraud and a liar, we have yet to see one.

We heard that to pad the ICE budget, they took $10 million away from the Emergencies Management Administration, FEMA, just a few weeks before Hurricane Florence trashed the Carolinas; and more from the US Coastguard. But Yahoo! News has found, there’s a long list of Federal programs that are being gutted to pay for this obscenity.

$80 million is coming from money they’re not spending on resettling refugees they’re not letting in. That’s a no-brainer; make the migrants pay to have their own children disappeared.

Then there’s the Ryan White AIDS foundation, set up in the name of a kid who died. That’s out, obviously, fuckin’ faggots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health – well, that’s ironic, as the department responsible for overseeing the child snatching is the Department of Health and Human Services; but as that’s just code for the Department for Shafting the Losers, it’s to be expected.

$16m is being diverted from Head Start, a program to help poor kids get an education; I expect they’ll get their education with MS13 now, nowhere else to go. More still from pointless social programs like women’s refuges, mental heath and addiction clinics -and another $13 million from the National Cancer Institute.

So, if you’re going to slash Medicaid and Medicare for 30 million people, you don’t need cancer research, do you? Because they won’t be able to afford the drugs!

We recall that Trump billed his son Eric half a million bucks for the use of his resorts to hold annual fundraisers for a hospice for dying children; and how the young Trump Sr went to law and cancelled a provision in his father’s will leaving money for the care of his handicapped cousin so he would get more.

We recall too, how Trump inserted a special clause in the Tax Reform Bill, his $1.4 trillion Christmas present to the very rich, giving a special extra tax break to certain kinds of property developers, of whom he just happens to be one. Kerching!

But you still voted for this sick criminal bastard, the bloated imago of a psychotic kid with ADHD, who likes to pull the wings off flies to watch them crawl, because he was going to make America great again.

Oh, but he’s such a refreshing change from the crooks on the Hill. He’s draining the Swamp! He says what we think!

Yeah, right. Now we know what you think.

You sad, pathetic dumbfucks, you don’t think.

You’re so addled with opioids, fatburgers and cretinous TV shows, you don’t know how to think. You just think what Orange Daddy tells you to think. That’s kind of comforting.

And you expect us to feel sorry for you?

(Thanks to TYT for much of the foregoing, citing Yahoo! News.)

 

DUPocrisy corner:

Responding to the EU’s eagerly anticipated trashing of May’s cherished Chequers Brexit plan, which until last night’s “ambush in Strasbourg” was opposed by absolutely everyone on both sides of the Tory party divide, Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the DUP (the Northern Ireland “Democratic” Unionists, the minority party who prop up May’s minority government), complained that there was: “utter inflexibility and bullying tactics” from the EU.

“Utter inflexibility and bullying tactics”…. Tell that to the women of Northern Ireland whose human rights your nasty little clique of retrograde, homophobic, patriarchal miseryguts is unilaterally witholding from them.

Fuck you, Prodnose.

 

GW: rememberin’ to take my Medicane…

Omigod… “Zombie Florence”??? Bob Henson at Wunderground is reporting that supposedly dead hurricane, Florence may be regenerating as remnant parts of the system are moving back out to sea in areas where the temperatures are warm enough to spawn new cyclones.

“At least two low-pressure systems are expected to develop from Florence’s remnants, with one portion potentially transitioning to a tropical or subtropical storm by the middle of next week.”

Preliminary tracking suggests that after visiting Bermuda, it might want to have another bite at the east coast of the USA.

“A tropical wave dubbed 99L that emerged from the coast of Africa on Thursday night became Tropical Storm Kirk on Saturday morning, and may pose a danger to the Lesser Antilles Islands as early as Wednesday night. The Atlantic does not typically get its 11th named storm until November 23.” (Wunderground)

Meanwhile a hurricane is forming in the Mediterranean, between Sardinia and Italy – although you’re not allowed to call it that. “A Medicane can bear many of the hallmarks of a tropical storm, including a warm core, a distinct eye, and spiral banding.” Hottest European summer since records etc. (1880) means that “much of the Mediterranean is running 1.5°C to 2.5°C (2.7 – 4.5°F) warmer than average, resulting in SSTs high enough to support tropical cyclone development.” (Wunderground, 21 Sept.)

Japan: “Typhoon Trami is rapidly gathering strength in the Northwest Pacific. Trami intensified on Sunday even more quickly than models had predicted. There is every chance Trami will reach Cat 5 super typhoon status (1-minute sustained winds of 150 mph) as soon as Monday … The typhoon may linger across Japan’s Ryukyu Islands, then carry out a northeastward sweep across or near central Japan about a week from now. By the time it reaches Taiwan or Japan, it’s unlikely Trami would be a super typhoon, but could still be a formidable storm.” (edited from Wunderground)

Philippines: “A landslide in Cebu province in the Philippines has killed more than 20 people, reducing hillside homes to rubble. The landslide comes days after Typhoon Mangkhut caused destruction and more than 80 deaths.” (BBC News)

Another weather-related horror story:

Two female mental health patients detained for medical transport drowned Tuesday night when a sheriff’s department van was swept away in rising South Carolina floodwaters, as it crossed a bridge and was swept through a guard rail, according to authorities. (from Mary Greeley website)

We assume the driver and guard got out safely, alright. Glad to see they’re still “detaining” mental health patients down South. Can’t trust those Never Trumpers!

Mexico: Culiacan, Sinaloa. “Extremely severe flooding” on 20 Sept. PS – why do American cars seem to sink, while everyone else’s float?

China: residual flooding from Mangkhut. Guangdong, many trapped by rising waters.

Thailand: “Many” killed in floods and landslides in Mae Hong Song province in the north. About 13 thousand Rohingya refugees from neighboring Myanmar displaced.

Spain, Portugal: heatwave conditions set to return, with temperatures in the upper 30s, low 40sC – up to 98F. Meanwhile, 135 Km/hr winds pushing into Denmark and Norway, possibly the same front as Storm Ali that blasted Scotland, are pulling intensely cold weather down from the arctic, with temperatures in eastern Europe and the Balkans rapidly falling below freezing over the weekend (22 Sept). Warnings have been issued for SE Belgium, ENE France, south-central Germany, N Austria and SSW Czech Republic for storms capable of producing severe to extremely severe winds, tornados, hail and torrential rainfall. Severe-weather.eu website suggests however that the Iberian heatwave will move north and east later in the week and squeeze the cold air down into northern Italy, across to Greece and Turkey and into the Middle East…. Exciting times!

UK: With gusts to 115 mph, Storm Ali trashes Highland Games at Tullaghmore, interrupts traffic, schools. 200 thousand without power. 2 dead in Ireland. Storm Bronagh hits Wales the next day, 21st, causing localized flooding. Another storm front expected on Sunday didn’t happen.

Globe: Although we’ve experienced record heat in Europe, especially northern Europe and Scandinavia, and in the US far west and midwest, plus a record warm Australian winter, it’s been only the 5th hottest August globally on record. The Atlantic hurricane season kicked off late owing to lower sea temperatures. Arctic sea ice extent increased – although thickness continues to reduce dramatically – rainfall totals have continued to get heavier, and there have been signs of an emerging El Niño, but all in all if you were expecting the end to come in 2018, you’ll probably be disappointed.

NASA has launched a satellite into a bipolar orbit, equipped with a laser able to measure ice thickness to a fraction of a millimetre. No more arguments, then. (Deniers are still taking comfort from mainstream media reports that 2018 ice cover is ‘only’ the 8th lowest on record… at the risk of howling into the wind, ‘extent’ is not ‘volume’… which is lower than ever and about 2/3rds of the 1980 estimates.)

CEWN #137/ severe-weather.eu/ others

Yellowstone: More cracks opening up, more magma entering the chambers, ground rising and falling, more boardwalks/areas closed to visitors, more dormant geysers spouting unexpectedly, ‘superheated water’ (?steam @265F) emerging from new springs…. Congress Pool erupts for the first time in 44 years.  (Mary Greeley)

 

Bird feeder news

Huh. A skittish flock of plump gray pigeons has just spotted I put feed out on the bird table. There’s about a dozen of ’em, all a’ squabblin’ and a’ scrabblin’, trying to squeeze in under the little roof together, looking like a tasty pie. They’ll leave nothing for the equally large flock of hedge sparrows who’ve turned up late and I’ll need to buy more feed.

It’s another beastly day out, anyway. Wellie weather.

 

How to stop a hurricane. (Warning: You will need $40 billion a year)… Jumpin’ Jack’s Not Very Flash…Stormy Weather… GW: “Splish splash, I was takin’ a bath, ‘long about a Saturday nite”… Censorship news…

Quote of the week

“One cubic metre of air at a temperature of 30°C can hold about 30 grams of water vapour. A cubic kilometre of such air contains the same energy as the Hiroshima bomb…. Hurricanes can be hundreds of kilometres in diameter and so contain tens of thousands of Hiroshimas.”
-Dr Stephen Salter, writing in Arctic News (14 Sept.).

How to stop a hurricane. (Warning: You will need $40 billion a year…)

Stephen’s topic is hurricane mitigation. He reckons that by using 600 times the mean output of all the electricity generated in the USA over 200 days, you could cool the volume of seawater it takes to kickstart a season’s worth of Cape Verde Atlantic hurricanes by 2C, thus probably preventing them from forming (unless the water is even warmer…).

A more practical way of preventing hurricanes then would be to spend $40 billion a year on building and maintaining a fleet of 100 ships specially designed and equipped to spray saltwater droplets of a particular size into the air, causing hurricanes to turn into ‘gentle tropical storms’. That’s just the Atlantic, by the way.

For those of us who remember his entertaining columns containing madly logical ideas in New Scientist magazine, the name of the late ‘Daedalus’ comes to mind.

“Comrade, famous spire is 123 meters! Who knew?”

 

“Now we know. He’s the real ‘little rocket-man’…”

Stormy Weather

So, “Full Disclosure”, the short-awaited memoirs of Ms Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, award-winning porno movie director, grande horizontale and Trump Nemesis, is hitting the stands about now and threatens to out-best-sell even last week’s Get Donny! best-seller, Bob Woodward’s fearless White House exposé, “Fear”.

Apart from the obligatory stories of her abused childhood, the key to rocketing sales of Stephanie’s tell-all tome is obviously going to be the more descriptive passages concerning That Night of seemingly not so steamy Passion at the Golf Club, and the exact dimensions of the priapic pussygrabber’s orange junk.

Reviewing the book, The Guardian‘s Tom McCarthy writes that Stormy reveals all in “excruciating detail”…

SPOILER ALERT

“She describes Trump’s penis as ‘smaller than average’ but ‘not freakishly small.’

‘He knows he has an unusual penis,’ Daniels writes. ‘It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool… I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart…

‘It may have been the least impressive sex I’d ever had, but clearly, he didn’t share that opinion.’”

So now we know. He’s the real “little rocket-man”…

Presidential image (boingboing.com)

“Fear” on the other hand has had a lukewarm reception in Washington. Apparently, journos inside the Beltway are yawning, rather. There’s nothing the doyen of investigative journalists has dug up that tells them anything they – or we – didn’t already know.

And, opines Politico, since the Kennedy era, as expectations of the rectitude of the office-holders have waned over the years, we’ve learned that all Presidents are pretty inconsiderable people on the inside. Trump especially is benefiting from public neurasthenia: nobody cares how badly he behaves, how dangerously incompetent, capricious, corrupt, vindictive, money-obsessed, narcissistic and ignorant he might be, it’s all hard-wired into the political mindscape.

(It doesn’t bode well for Number 46, whoever that’s going to be….)

“…the combination of decades of disillusion, along with decades of Trump’s behavior hiding in plain sight, go a long way to explaining why Woodward’s merciless account has changed so little… Long before Trump, our would-be leaders began to strive to convince us not of their heroic stature, but their human dimensions.” (Politico Magazine)

The knowledge therefore that, to go with the Hobbit-like dimensions of his tiny hands and feet, the Leader of the Free World has a winkie like a button-mushroom and not much clue what to do with it; even banging a porn star while his undocumented new wife was still nursing their infant son, and being spanked on the bare bottom with a copy of Time magazine, might once have been Trump’s electoral undoing; not now.

Likely, the image will evoke feelings of maternal sympathy among the more matronly dumbfucks, and among those of his MAGA hat-wearing supporters for whom a very big gun collection has to substitute for whatever.

(Or a mushroom cloud? Ed.)

 

Retail news extra

Jumpin’ Jack’s Not So Flash

“The perfect metaphor for post-Brexit Britain: a chain of bog-standard discount stores where stuff comes pot-luck in crates.”

Tesco has opened the first of a chain of discount mini-supermarkets, branded ‘Jack’s’. The report in The Guardian says:

“Heavy rain and winds did not deter bargain-hungry shoppers on the opening day of Tesco’s new discount chain, Jack’s, with long queues to enter the store and the car park overflowing. At 10am on Thursday, the formal opening time, 150 people were waiting to enter the new supermarket in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. The store is Tesco’s attempt to fend off the German discounters Aldi and Lidl.”

They got a free cupcake, and a jute bag-for-life. Grateful shoppers apparently then took the empty bag along to Aldi, down the street.

“Or we could just stand in the street and chuck groceries at you…”

What the report doesn’t really explain is why Tesco feels it needs to go to the extra expense of adding another chain of convenience stores to its existing stable of, er, convenience stores – and why, just to compete with Aldi and Lidl, it has given it a patronizingly downmarket name, weakening its own famous brand, and briefed its store design team to make it look as completely shitty as possible?

Why not just reduce your prices? It’s the perfect metaphor for post-Brexit Britain: a chain of bog-standard discount stores where stuff comes pot-luck in crates; a lowering of horizons to adapt to a dysphoric new world of food banks; of scrimping and saving and making-do for the down-at-heel.

The founder of Tesco, Jack Cohen would certainly recognize it. The son of Jewish migrants to the grim East End of London in the early 1900s, his first shops did away with doors, to make them – as his Wikipedia entry says – more like market stalls: a dog-eat-dog environment where, after leaving elementary school at 14, he survived on his wits.

Welcome to the future.

 

 

GW: “Splish splash, I was takin’ a bath, ‘long about a Saturday nite”

Your old Gran thinks you’ve probably heard enough about Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut to last a month or two, as even the MSM (mainstream media) seems to have woken up to the synchronous superstorms as a sensational news story this past week.

So here are some of the less reported wild and wacky weather scenarios we’ve dug up from the litter of the past ten days:

Algeria: the city of Tebessa was underwater (12 Sept.) after flash-flooding during a torrential rainstorm washed away hundreds of cars. A child died and another is missing.

Turkey: 13th, a powerful storm dumped 147 mm rain in a day, caused flash-flooding in Bandirma, in the north of the country. Again, cars seem to have been the main victims. Is the planet telling us something?

Spain: the narrow streets of old medieval towns prove ideal for heavy rains to turn them into raging torrents. Several towns have been affected by flash-flooding since the 7th September. On the 14th, 50 mm rain fell on Malaga in under half-an-hour. Video has just been posted of a powerful storm that battered Granollers, north of Barcelona, on 7 Sept., felling trees and ripping off roofs. Intense rainfall brought flash-flooding to the city.

Climate & Extreme Weather News #136/ Indianfoodies website/

USA: as remnant hurricane Florence (42 dead) moves north, Virginia has been struck by destructive tornadoes – 1 dead. Up to 6 inches of rain flooded basements, stranded cars and prompted evacuations in two locations on the east side of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Monday night. There’s been severe flooding around Raleigh, Va. “Where these clusters of thunderstorms stall for a period of a few hours, localized flash flooding is likely, with rain rates of 1 to 4 inches per hour. If these clusters stall over parts of Iowa, southern Minnesota and southern Wisconsin, flash flooding might occur faster, given soil moisture remains high after last month’s flooding.” – The Weather Channel

Hurricane season news: Wunderground’s Bob Henson reports:

“…every ocean basin in the Northern Hemisphere is now running above average for accumulated cyclone energy … The Atlantic’s ACE is running 28% above average for this time of year, and the 10 named storms and 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic are both well ahead of average counts for this point in the season. … At least part of every ocean basin on Earth saw record-warm SSTs during August, according to NOAA’s monthly climate report issued on Monday.

(The Carolinas are still struggling with the aftermath of Florence, which broke all State records, dumping up to 33 inches of rain before moving north. Rivers are still rising, and the city of Wilmington (pop. 120,000) may be cut off for a second time since the weekend, requiring emergency supplies to be helicoptered in.) (Wunderground)

Nigeria: Mrs May’s raindancing has done the trick… 100 people have died during two weeks of intensive rainfall. Many areas have experience localized flash flooding, (while) wide areas of the country now face flooding from the country’s major rivers after long-term rainfall in Nigeria and river catchments in neighbouring countries caused the Niger and Benue rivers to rise to danger levels. (Edited from Floodlist report)

Office workers in Hong Kong thought they’d been hit by an earthquake.

Philippines: Over 70 dead and 50 missing after 135 mph Supertyphoon Mangkhut clipped the north of Luzon island; widespread crop and property damage. At least 4 people died after the storm made landfall again 80 miles from Hong Kong, where it blew the windows out of high-rise office blocks and rained papers off the desks. As of 17 September, Mangkhut had dissipated into a tropical depression and will continue to weaken. However parts of south west China and northern provinces of Vietnam could see intense rainfall and strong winds. (edited from Floodlist report – also, see CEWN #126 for video)

UK: Remnant Cat 1 hurricane Helene continued weakening rapidly along its forecast track, out of the Azores and up the Irish sea… feared windspeeds and rainfall totals failed to materialize over Ireland and western Britain. Unrelated, Storm Ali is, however, heading in off the north Atlantic 19 Sept. with forecast windspeeds of 80 mph. (Various sources)

Update: First of the season, Storm Ali brought winds gusting in the Scottish highlands to 115 mph. 2 people were killed, a woman in the Irish Republic when a caravan blew off a cliff; a workman in Northern Ireland when a tree fell on him. A number of people were injured by flying debris. Thousands of homes in Scotland without power.

A second storm is forecast for tomorrow, 20 Sept, further south, bringing up to 4 in. of rain and possible flooding to Wales; and another for Sunday 23rd. The words ‘atmospheric river’ have not passed the forecasters’ lips, but that is what the map looks like as the fragmented jetstream winds (175 mph) ferry a belt of rainstorms eastwards across the Atlantic through northern Europe.

Climate news:

“Bad things can happen when you’re talking about a storm this size. It’s called Mother Nature.” – So ran a tweet from the chump-in-chief, Trump, warning Carolinians to evacuate ahead of H. Florence. Think Progress website has a report of new research he won’t want to hear:

“The authors of a bombshell new analysis, ‘The human influence on Hurricane Florence,’ disagree (that it’s just ‘Mother Nature’). They find that human-caused global warming has supercharged the atmosphere so much that it is boosting the very worst of the projected rainfall totals by more than 50 percent. (And they were talking about 18 inches, not 33…)

“ThinkProgress asked coauthor Dr. Michael Wehner of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) whether ‘your analysis allows us to say the storm is more than just Mother Nature?’ He replied in an email:

“‘Indeed. The most important message from this (and previous) analyses is that “Dangerous climate change is here now!’

Local news:

After waiting until a quarter past one for the rain to ease off, Hunzi and I took the plunge before his bladder exploded.

Almost literally plunging: the brief lull ended within a few minutes and it came bucketing down again. Luckily I had my golfing umbrella, that I use to deflect passing traffic. Only my left sleeve bore the brunt.

On the way we passed the nearby river monitoring station, where I now realized why workmen had been so busy the past couple of weeks.

The new river level gauges they’ve installed will give the management authority an extra 6 feet to play with.

Should they need as much, I fear for my neighbours across the street, whose houses are 3 feet below road-level and were flooded out in a 2-day storm, June 2012. The rise in river level was down to a mistake at the hydro-power dam upstream, not to Mother Nature, so it hasn’t happened since. But….

There’s Something They’re Not Telling Us….

 

Yellowstone News: The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, the Steamboat geyser, biggest in the park, has gone off yet again – that’s the 19th time this year (17 Sept). Normally 1 or 2 times a year, if at all, the frequency is now roughly every 4-5 days and getting shorter, with longer and more violent outwellings.

20 Sept: Part of the Norris Junction area of the park has been closed to visitors, as another geyser, Ear Spring (‘A normally docile hot pool’), has been chucking superheated steam, rocks the size of bowling balls and discarded junk 30 feet into the air. It hasn’t erupted since 1957. (US Geological Survey newsletter)

Other, normally quiescent geysers are also showing unprecedented activity. Groundwater temperature has increased to 206F. USGS also reports, a new geyser has formed near Old Faithful, and an 8-foot diameter area around it is ‘breathing’, ie the ground is rising and falling by 6 inches – every 10 minutes! (This is perfectly natural, apparently. Although no-one’s noticed before. Think: boiling porage…)

 

Censorship news:

‘Dutchsinse’, alias Michael Janitch, the St Louis-based earthquake forecaster, looks like he’s been finally shut down by a concert party of USGS and international geo-agencies who have put out a joint statement claiming he’s just a big fat liar. Your Old Granny, who has sat through many of his three-times daily roundups at agonizing length, has to say there’s no evidence of that. A more painfully honest truthsayer would be hard to find.

He actually has a better-than 80 per cent record of accurately predicting timings, locations and magnitudes of quakes to within reasonable self-set tolerances, based on a simple theory of mechanical pressure distribution across plate boundaries that the experts say is scientific bullshit, as: “you can’t predict earthquakes”. The problem is, he can – and does; without pretending to have supernatural powers.

So what is the point of milking taxpayers to maintain those official agencies, if the best they can manage is to tell people there’s just been an earthquake or a volcanic eruption somewhere – something the people on the spot might have noticed for themselves? What purpose does that serve? What good do they actually do? Oh, right, they measure things. And attack anyone they don’t agree with.

The point is, surely, that as a US citizen Janitch has a 1st Amendment right to promote his theory and telecast his analysis free from libellous censorship campaigns by aggrieved parties? He invites subscriptions, but his website is provided free of charge, with no paywall. So he’s not cheating anyone – and he’s right far more often than chance. Given his extensive global following, unlike USGS and the other agencies he may in fact have saved lives.

Veteran Yellowstone watcher Greeley, although unqualified as a geologist, is clearly serious in her intent and fairly clued-up, basing her analysis on years of reviewing publicly-available ground monitoring data; although she’s been predicting an eruption at any moment for the past five years at least.

I hope I’m not being unfair, because the data are becoming faintly alarming.

She may believe, but she doesn’t preach; it’s not her fault most of her followers seem to be on their knees night and day, wailing and gnashing their dentures – some unfortunately praying for the volcano to erupt soon, an event the Parks Department estimates could immediately cause 23 million casualties, so they can meet Jesus. That’s a heck of a line even for a good book signing.

If Greeley, and some less informed YouTube supervolcano doomsayers piggybacking on her website; also many less credible phenomenologists, are allowed to carry on promoting their end-of-the-world, second-coming scenarios and conspiracy twaddle, how is it that a knowledgable, intelligent and serious amateur like Janitch, however controversial his ideas, can be forced off the internet by vested interests?

Is it purely because they find him embarrassing – especially at a time when science itself is under attack from corrupt and irresponsible, unqualified politicians led by a climate-change denying US President, who really ought to know better?

Perhaps we should be told. My conspiracy theory is, they’re afraid he might one night forecast some truly terrible event, information over which they would have no control and that might cause mass panic when it came true.

Just sayin’.

 

 

 

Johnny Head-in-Air – What’s happening to our sky?… I was Dudley Sutton… GW: The rain it raineth every day… Paying for our mistakes

Fake News Corner

How to go from belief to certainty in two lines, from The Times, Saturday 15th September:

MI5 believed Michael Foot was Soviet informant

Truth about former Labour leader emerges 23 years after he sued The Sunday Times for libel

And thus Mr Murdoch’s conservative-leaning press creates fake news and brings the entire industry into even greater disrepute. Nice.

“I’m gambling responsibly, with @BetGod…”
The CofE considers taking over Wonga’s £400m debt ledger.

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

(Joni Mitchell: Both Sides Now)

“…they simply materialized out of the moist air … growing all the while, until they formed smallish, imperceptibly slow-drifting, heavy-looking chunky white blobs hanging impossibly low at about 400 feet over the valley.

“Were they evolving intelligence?”

Johnny Head-in-Air – What’s happening to our sky?

Call me barmy if you like. But have the clouds somehow… changed their behavior, since you last looked?

As my legion of seven Likers, Spammers, Followers, Commenters and Those No Longer Reading This, muh li’l bogl will surely kno’, I walk my faithful schnorzer, Hunzi, twice a day in the exurban space that passes for our local park.

Past playing fields and over railway lines, through gorse-infested heath and overgrown, entangled woodland, by the broad-flowing river’s banks, over the bouncing footbridge and along the cycle path that leads romantically past the sewage works to the industrial estate.

Yet among all of my fellow-travelling, dog-fancying companions tramping through the valley every day, I seem to be the only one who ever looks up at the sky.

Messy Sky Syndrome

In fact – call me barmy if you like – I have been staring at it curiously now for weeks, occasionally taking photographs to remind myself that what I am seeing is real, and consistent. Johnny head-in-air, I will post some as soon as I can obtain the technology.

It seems so long ago now, but from the first week in May through to the second week in August, we enjoyed virtually unbroken sunshine and – for these isles – intense heat. (Why, I do declare, it may have touched 29 degrees here! Surely the seven-horned Beast of the Apocalypse is upon us!)

There was a fortnight during that time, probably in June, when the busy sky, normally filled twice a day with vapor trails – (I wearily acknowledge that some of you might genuinely believe the white stuff emanating from the power-plants of commercial jetliners is Aluminum hydroxide, with which the Deep State and NASA are plotting to alter the world’s weather in order to make you pay more tax on your welfare checks and take away your guns. Now read on…) – filled, as I say, with vapor trails, was blue and tranquil.

Small cloud nuclei just appeared from out of the blue…

I mentioned the absence of overflights at the normal times of the day, when holidaymakers and business types head out west across the coast and into the wild blue yonder, to one or two people I casually acknowledge most days, only to be greeted with nervous looks and polite shufflings.

Only one person advanced a theory, that it must be to do with training exercises for the big Royal flypast by the airforce, celebrating its centenary. I forebore to mention that there was no sign either of any military aircraft; the training reportedly taking place 300 miles away over the North Sea.

Otherwise, neither I nor anyone could think what might be causing it. Most hadn’t noticed, and few cared. And eventually, the planes came back. Had some unusual atmospheric phenomenon caused air traffic control to move our overflights elsewhere? I feel we need some clickbait here.

Since early August, when I got back from a week in France, where I had tired myself out by the Thursday – I haven’t been well – with workshops and concerts, and endured an enervating 12-hour multi-train journey home via two capitals, I’d also begun to notice that there might be something a bit – well – strange going on, up above the trees and beyond the wooded valley sides.

…and turned into fat, low-hanging blobs

Oh yes, I know, call me barmy if you like. Clouds is clouds, they come in all shapes and sizes, and there they usually are, floating around up there, some white, some gray, and they either rain on you or they don’t, and there’s never two the same. La-de-da.

Perhaps I had not been in the habit of observing the clouds so critically in the past, but I honestly can’t remember any weeks during my 68 summers when they seemed to come so persistently in so many shapes and sizes, all crowding separately into the same broad patch of sky, all at the same time, for days on end – and all looking remarkably alike.

It’s what I’ve come to call “messy sky syndrome”.

You have, have you not, an ever-lengthening list of observably different “types” of clouds (see the internet for details).

And more blobs… everywhere you look.

Heavy cumulus clouds, those large white masses like like giant teddy bears with round, pricked-up ears, spying on us over the valley sides. Lowering gray rainclouds, filling the sky from horizon to horizon as darker clouds scurry beneath. That peculiar “weatherless” weather we often get around Christmastime, when the dome of Heaven is just a featureless pale-beige blank, there’s no sun, wind, rain or snow and it’s neither hot nor cold.

Flocculent “mackerel sky” cirrhus clouds, broken into small, perfectly aligned pieces betokening “a change in the weather”; lenticular, cigarlike clouds, often mistaken for UFOs, polished by the wind; high, thin altus, sometimes torn into mare’s tails by shearing, competing winds; and combinations thereof; clouds made by trails of climate-changing chemicals (no, not really), blown by the jetstream at 35 thousand feet between the troposphere and the stratosphere, where governments secretly fly their commercial airliners, spreading out and joining up in wispy, feathery veils; stripey altus clouds making interesting patterns; die-straight lines of gloom-laden weather fronts looming in from the distant Atlantic; raggedy black after-the-storm storm clouds, as if in a Victorian novel, streaming across the baleful face of the moon.

Blobs merging, darkening

But how often do you see six, nine, ten different cloud types, all jostling messily at one and the same time for command of the sky; while divided sometimes into sections by distinct rivers of blue or odd, straight shadows cast by the invisible sun’s rays? And what’s with all these chunky, white blobs?

The other day, for instance. Hunzi and I headed out under a cloudless blue dome over the valley. A few minutes later, while crossing the footbridge we observed just a few thin puffs of white dust emerge faintly from the welkin, like anti-aircraft fire in the distance. As we watched, they grew and solidified – they were not blown into view by the wind, they simply materialized out of the moist air as the water droplets condensed in the heat of the late summer sunshine, until they formed smallish, imperceptibly slow-drifting, heavy-looking, chunky white blobs hanging impossibly low at about 400 feet over the valley – and began to flock together, growing all the while.

Blobs in formation over northern France, from TGV train, August

Within a few more minutes, the individual chunks were beginning to form co-operatives. Some were turning shadowy gray underneath as they thickened. Gradually, the sky was filled from every direction with more and more of these clumpy little cumuli, bonding together into one mass – yet retaining their discrete shapes – while off to the southwest, veiling the sun, covering a full quadrant of the sky had equally suddenly appeared a completely different type of formation, a broadly spreading region of cirrhus cloud made from tiny scales, like snakeskin.

Another messy sky….

Drifting beneath the mottled overcast were some brightly shining ribbons, pure white streamers of sea-clouds lancing in from the west; while woven among those here and there, although at greater altitude, were a few broken shreds of jet-trails; and transiting rapidly inland from the northwest at low altitude, in the distance, a line of raggedy, dark-gray remnants of storm clouds – although there had been no storm that we knew of. And with remarkable rapidity, the whole jumbled skyscape began to coalesce into a full overcast; but almost as soon, it broke apart again and the sun poured through, and the sky turned blue once more over the valley.

What’s keeping them up?

It was, to put it graphically, total chaos – a complete mess. And far from the only time we had observed a similar battle going on. It happens now, whenever we get a sunny – as opposed to a ten-tenths overcast, rainy – day. These small, chunky, white clouds miraculously appear, along with many other types, and self-organize into short-lived weather systems before breaking up again and vanishing.

It sometimes feels like they’re evolving intelligence.

On the train à grande vitesse back from the Loire, swishing silently across the vast and featureless tank-terrain of the Pas de Calais north of Paris, with its scattered wind turbines and clumps of no-more-than-40-years young trees outlining broad fields with practical-looking irrigation gantries, occasionally dotted with postwar-reconstructed farmsteads and tiny hamlets, where I often think we could profitably layout London’s sixth airport and leave poor historic Harmondsworth village standing, I photographed an amazing display of those blobs; those weighty, chunky blobs of cumulus, behaving almost with cloud-intelligence as they progressively marshalled themselves into one enormous military formation that stretched for miles towards the Belgian frontier.

“Something has changed…”

Many different cloud types battle for the sky…

Has it always been like this? Am I just foolishly imagining that the clouds today seem different from the clouds I’ve carelessly only half-observed in the past; clouds, for instance, as depicted by John Constable’s landscape paintings seen in galleries, that always seem like late-Georgian society: so well-ordered and forming coherent – if possibly a little threatening – structures in the distance, to point up the fragility of his nostalgic interpretations of a vanishing bucolic way of life – the Pathetic Fallacy immured in art? What is the message of the blobs?

“There is anywhere from 5 to 8% more water vapor circulating throughout the atmosphere than there was a generation ago.” (Guardian article on superstorms)

What are our new skies, our disruptive, rogue clouds; our unexpected emergences and heavy, low-hanging chunks of white and gray bumping about like dodgem cars before joining forces as self-organizing systems independent of the wind, our sinister “teddy bears” on the horizon, that never seem to move from day to day; those high, wispy shreds being ripped apart by fierce winds of change while lower clouds puff serenely by like Indian smoke-signals; our menacing, reptilian veils of cirrhus across the struggling sun; those well-drilled martial formations, trying to tell us now?

Another ‘messy sky’ near my house

Sometimes I find myself on YouTube, clicking on videos posted by (invariably) Americans helplessly trying to explain everyday phenomena to paranoid viewers of even less sophistication; and yet marvelling at the images sent in by contributors of the most incredible, extraordinary cloud formations. Huge, rival black storm fronts shearing across one another as a Michelangelo light breaks through the angelic host between; great mushrooms of cloud thousands of feet high, polished into strange and frightening shapes by unimaginably powerful winds; terrifying funnel-clouds touching down on the prairie behind vulnerable clapboard farmhouses, where Mom, Dad and the kids are hopefully safe in their basement tornado shelters; impossible geometric figures intelligently designed by water, wind, heat and barometric pressure; spectacular sunsets; the seemingly tranquil white mashed-potato whorls of violent hurricanes when seen from space. These Americans all think cloud phenomena are signs of God’s righteous anger, and fall to their knees like savages.

A storm over Siberia… where they do things on a bigger scale.

Being an island, we don’t have magnificent, awesome skies like the Americans or the Russians do. Or any weather extremes, come to that.

It’s only a feeling. Something has changed; something in the air. Things “up there” are not quite the same as they’ve always been. Messy sky syndrome – with blobs – is the new normal: the relationship between the sun and the atmosphere seems to be rebalancing.

It’s probably just those damned Deep State chemtrails, I tell you. They’re changing the weather to suit the demands of late capitalism.

Messy cloud sunset over Boglington-on-Sea, June 2018.

I was Dudley Sutton

The death, aged 85, in a London hospice, after a long illness, of the actor known as ‘Dudley Sutton’ reminds me that I was once ‘Dudley Sutton’.

The event has received a gratifying amount of publicity, considering that his glory days were quite far behind him. For several years during the 1980s and early 90s ‘Dudley’ famously played the part of ‘Tinker’ Bell, a louche character in a popular TV comedy-drama series about a roguish antique dealer with a heart of gold, mysteriously called just ‘Lovejoy’, starring the diminutive Ian McShane. Always wearing a flat cap, Tinker was the reliable sidekick, the much put-upon bloke who helped shift (and fake) the antiques – a familiar character on the London scene.

Your Uncle Bogler

Emerging from RADA and the famed Joan Littlewood company in the East End, ‘Dudley’ was a busy character actor, as the hardworking and versatile B-listers of stage and TV screen are known, who pop up here and everywhere playing odd parts; often in surprising productions. In addition to the usual quota of terrible films and long-departed TV soaps and sitcoms, ‘Dudley’ worked with directors of the calibre of Ken Russell and Federico Fellini. He seems to have been a much-loved colleague, judging by the many tributes pouring in.

None of them recognising that I was the real ‘Dudley Sutton’.

‘Dudley’ had a distinctive, fruity burr of a voice that got him a lot of work doing commercial voiceovers. It’s what keeps most jobbing actors alive. In the late 1970s and early 80s, after a failed shot at a career in TV news, I too had been getting increasing amounts of work writing scripts for what are known as ‘corporates’ – short training and promotional films, audiovisual presentations and the like. That was in the days before digital handheld cameras and PowerPoint.

Because it worked out cheaper for the producers, a little more lucrative for me; and because I had done quite a lot of presentation work on radio and had a vaguely familiar voice, certainly to a London audience, a fluent reader, I would frequently be cast to do the voiceover narrations of my own scripts.

So valued are writers, that you could be paid as much just for reading out the words for a few minutes as you got for spending two whole weeks researching and writing the actual script*. I soon gained a reputation for ‘one-take’ reliability and professionalism; but I wasn’t yet getting enough commissions to pay the mortgage.

So, imagining foolishly that I could possibly make a career out of it, I signed to the leading voiceover artists’ agency, Talkies. The agency was attached to the Redwood Studios in London’s Soho, where I did a lot of the recordings. There, they kept a growing bank of sample voice tapes that producers and their clients could listen to, and select what and whom they imagined had the most appropriate style to deliver the message: the ability to do accents; funny, straight, authoritative, newsy, shouty and so on, to which I added my own dulcet tones.

Anyway, another year or so went by and I was still struggling along, having had absolutely no work at all from the agency; not even a 30-second commercial. One day, while recording the narration for one of my scripts, I asked André, the boss, what had happened to my demo tape, because it didn’t seem to be producing much money, and a chap needs to eat. Was there something wrong with my voice, or me, maybe?

He duly looked into it, and with some embarrassment Beth, the woman who ran Talkies, got back to me to confess that my tape had accidentally been filed under the wrong artist’s name.

Reader, the name on the sticky label adhering to my voice tape was ‘Dudley Sutton’!

I can’t honestly claim he was getting all the work that wasn’t coming to me. By then it was too late anyway; I had moved on, signing up for a job as a badly paid writer with a terrible advertising agency out in the sticks. I’m now a retired domestic caretaker with nothing to do but this. My career, needless to say, never took shape in quite the way ‘Dudley’s did, the old impostor. Nor did I ever go to RADA….

RIP.

* (I once got paid £90 for 30 seconds’ work, being the voice of a newsreader coming out of the radio on the sideboard in a Stephen Frears TV drama… = £94 million a year, pro rata!)

If you want to know why we’re having these big storms all of a sudden, here’s a color-enhanced map showing the chaos that is the high-speed jetstream wind that controls the weather in the northern hemisphere, at 10 Sept. A few years ago it would have been just a wavy line following roughly the Arctic circle (70N). (Courtesy of “Sam Carana”)

GW: The rain it raineth, every day

Hurricane Florence: “Radar data from the Morehead City, NC radar showed that Florence’s outer spiral bands began dumping heavy rains over the Outer Banks and much of Eastern North Carolina on Thursday morning. Rainfall amounts of 0.5 – 1.0 inch per hour were common, with a few heavy cells generating higher rainfall rates. A Personal Weather Station in Emerald Isle, NC picked up 2.9” of rain in just 40 minutes at 10 am EDT.”

“The most concerning forecast continued to be from our top model for forecasting hurricanes, the European model, whose 0Z Thursday run predicted that Florence’s stall would occur very near shore along the NC/SC border, with the hurricane then traversing the northern half of the coast of South Carolina just offshore, until making landfall Saturday night near Charleston. This would allow Florence to keep its eye over water, greatly increasing the amount of rain it can generate, and would subject a very long stretch of coast to high winds and a destructive storm surge. Our other top models–the GFS, HWRF, UKMET, and HMON–all predicted Florence would move ashore near the NC/SC border, then turn to the west-southwest over land. On this track, Florence would still keep a large part of its circulation overwater and dump extreme rains, but would not bring a devastating storm surge and hurricane-force winds to a long stretch of coast. By Sunday, Florence should be headed due west towards the Appalachian Mountains.” (Wunderground)

The biggest threat is from the storm surge, coming on top of the normal 5-ft tides experienced along a section of the Carolina coastline. These may be increased at this time of year by what are called King Tides – what we call Spring tides – associated with the full moon.

STOP PRESS: Friday pm, 5 dead. (Sunday: 14 dead) We don’t understand. All the weather reports and Bob Henson at Wunderground have Florence stalling over Wilmington, S Carolina; then tracking southwards, down the coast to Georgia. But the tracking on the Weather Channel maps shows it moving inland as a Cat 1, and then curving northwards toward Ohio, Washington DC, New Hampshire – past New York – and on up into Maine and Nova Scotia…. What is going on? (Answer yes, that’s what it’s doing.)

Anyway, there’s now extensive flooding, the town of New Bern near Wilmington is under 10ft of water. A lot of silly people – over 300 – didn’t evacuate when warned, and are trapped in their attics, calling for help. Tough?

Caribbean: Isaac is just chuntering on as a Tropical Depression into the Caribbean, not hitting anything much as it passes between Cuba and Dominica. There’s no prediction of it strengthening as yet. Update: Sunday, Isaac has fallen apart and is no longer even a Tropical Depression. Sorry folks, nothing moreto see there.)

Meanwhile: “Meteorologists are also keeping an eye on yet another tropical disturbance that’s spinning in the western Gulf of Mexico. The hurricane center is giving the system a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm within the next five days. Heavy rainfall and gusty winds are expected across portions of north-eastern Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana on Friday and Saturday.”  (USA Today)

India: While we’re wazzing (school slang, perfect word) about Florence, “Days of heavy rain from 05 Sept. caused flooding in several districts of Odisha in eastern India, affecting around 90,000 people. … at least 41 locations recorded more than 100 mm of rain in 24 hours to 06 September, 2018 and a further 25 locations the next day.

Turkey: State Meteorological Service reported that wide areas of the Marmara region, including Istanbul, experienced thunderstorms that began during the afternoon of 13 September. Şarköy in Tekirdağ Province recorded 105.6mm of rain in 24 hours to 14 September. The city of Kastamonu was hit with large hail (that) smashed windows of vehicles and buildings and damaged roof tiles. Meanwhile: “Raging flood waters swept through the town of Ronda in Malaga, southern Spain yesterday, 13 Sept. In a similar fashion to the flooding that struck in Toledo earlier this week, streets turned to rivers after a short period of torrential rain. Local observers said that over 50 mm fell in just 30 minutes. (Floodlist)

Western Pacific: “Tropical Cyclone Mangkhut (much bigger and fiercer than Florence) formed over the North West Pacific Islands on 07 Sept. and moved toward Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, causing wind damage and some flooding from heavy rain. Since then Mangkhut has strengthened and is moving towards the Philippines (now as a maximum Cat 5 Supertyphoon, with wind speeds exceeding 200 mph). It is forecast to continue west-north-west and reach northern Luzon and the Babuyan Islands (Philippines) on 14-15 Sept. Heavy rain, storm surge and strong winds, flooding and landslide are likely to affect the northern Philippines, southern Taiwan and possibly next Hong Kong and parts of southern China around the Pearl River (pop. 150 million).

Saturday pm: 12 dead. Sunday: “Over 60…” 100 mph winds start to batter Hong Kong. 2.6 million evacuated.

Hawaii: “Tropical Depression Olivia continues to move west away from Hawaii. Heavy rain and winds from Olivia downed trees, knocked out power and prompted evacuations of several homes on Hawaii’s Maui island but spared the state widespread damage Wednesday.” (USA Today)

British Isles: Former Cat 1 hurricane, now downgraded to Tropical Storm, Helene is on track to make waves up the Irish Sea on Tuesday, probably as a weakening depression passing between Wales and Ireland. Meanwhile a new intruder, Subtropical Storm Joyce seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Little tracking info is available as yet, but it looks to be on-course for Galicia, the Spanish province north of Portugal, and thence possibly up through the Bay of Biscay into Brittany or a bit further north to southern England, on the heels of Helene.

Save the world

Scientists at Imperial College, London, have called on the UK government to plant trees and use less chemicals to take carbon dioxide from the air. (Deep breath….)

“Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, called the report ‘crucially important’ for the UK’s low-carbon future. ‘It shows the UK can take its carbon emissions down to net zero by around mid-century.’ He pointed ahead to a major report coming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change next month, which is expected to find that the world must achieve net zero emissions by 2050 to meet the Paris agreement targets. (Guardian report)

What the fuck, who are these idiots kidding? Do they not read?

“António Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, told global leaders this week that the world has ‘less than two years’ to avoid runaway climate change. ‘If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change,’ Guterres said during a speech at the U.N. headquarters in New York.”

Guterres is not the only climate pessimist. Leading climate scientists contributing to the Arctic News website are fully committed to sometime between 2026 and 2030 as the final stage in an inevitable extinction event that will eradicate human civilization and, possibly, humans – along with most other species.

Has, in fact, already begun.

What do they mean by “runaway climate change”? Well, we’re talking possibly 10C degrees of warming within “a few years”, as a result of the loss of Arctic sea ice leading to enhanced warming of the region, where more than 50 Gt of methane gas lies trapped on the seabed and in the surrounding permafrost. The gas, up to 300 times more potent as a heat-retainer than CO2,  is already pouring out and concentrations are rising alarmingly fast.

Permanent loss of the polar ice will, according to some scientists, mean the center of cold air moving to Greenland, with a corresponding shift in the center of the circumpolar jetstream winds. A huge change would then be expected in the ocean currents surrounding the pole, with corresponding effects on the weather in the northern hemisphere.

The planet has not warmed overall by more than 1 degree at any time in the past 1.5 million years. The Paris targets are a sop to Western governments reluctant to promote a less consumptive economy: they are totally meaningless in terms of real-world emissions, which cannot be reversed in time whatever extreme measures we take. And we are not about to take any.

Oh, and by the way – it takes 30 years for a tree to mature sufficiently to make a measurable contribution to CO2 absorption. That’s if it hasn’t been felled and burned for biomass.

Unfortunately, in a warmer world forest fires will increase, emitting massive quantities of CO2 and reducing the capacity of the world’s remaining forests to absorb it.

 

Paying for our mistakes

IN 2017, Trump put a man called Barry Lee Myers in charge of the nation’s weather bureau, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Myers has no scientific qualification but is the CEO (and younger brother of the founder) of AccuWeather, a multimedia enterprise that profits mightily from selling forecasts and advertising on its outlets.

Two interesting things about AccuWeather are that it invented and has patented the “secret” formula for calculating, not what the temperature actually is, but what it “feels like”; there’s a lesson there somewhere; and its long-range forecasts are found to be mostly bullshit.

Wikipedia has a more interesting story that illustrates the grotesque corruption involved in the relationships between politics and industry.

“On April 14, 2005, U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced the “National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005” in the U.S. Senate. The legislation would have forbidden (my italics) the National Weather Service from providing (free) information directly to the public. The legislation was generally interpreted as an attempt by AccuWeather to profit off of taxpayer-funded weather research by forcing its delivery through private channels. The bill did not come up for a vote. Santorum received campaign contributions from AccuWeather’s president, Joel Myers.”

The story illustrates a possible ulterior motive for Trump’s crusade against scientific information and his gutting of the EPA and other federal agencies involved in the public promulgation of, among other important subjects, climate research. Presumably, rather than a reflection of the President’s anti-scientific bias, or of his crass and untutored insensitivity, it is a sop to party funders who can increasingly charge people for this somewhat vital service.

The final thing about AccuWeather is the annoying paywall they’ve erected on their website. If you want ad-free reports on extreme weather events, your old Granny Weatherwax moans, they expect you to pay for them, regardless of whether or not the ads can ever actually sell you anything – because you don’t live in bloody America.

 

 

 

Florence Special, plus: Fucking Boris, again… You read it here first #197… Ready when you are, Mr Trump… GW: Ooh, what a spin I’m in…

Quote of the Week

Today’s generation doesn’t have the luxury of being able to argue that it was never warned or did not understand the consequences of where lies will take you. … If disaster comes, you will find that all the myths you once cherished are of no use to you.

– Stanislaw Aronson, 93, veteran of the Warsaw uprising (Guardian)

 

“If he would betray his marriage and his four kids, who would he not betray?

Fucking Boris, Again

“Key allies of Boris Johnson rallied behind the former foreign secretary on Saturday night, insisting that news of his divorce and stories about his personal life would do nothing to damage his chances of succeeding Theresa May as Conservative leader after Brexit.”

– “Divorce News Won’t Mar Any Johnson Leadership Bid, Say Tories” – Guardian 08 Sept.

Dear Tories

It would be ironic, would it not, if a fat, middle-aged, serial shagger with the self-publicizing morals of an alley-cat, thrashing around in the midst of yet another hormonal crisis, were to succeed the lifelong married vicar’s daughter as the leader of the party.

Why, it would be just like old Tory times!

Ousting a paragon whose worst ever sin was to run laughing gaily through the farmer’s field of wheat; golden in the mercy of His means. (Worst, that is, before allowing herself to be filmed dancing with Africans, like an injured stork.)

Especially if he were a notoriously lazy and incompetent minister who treats the electorate and everyone else as fools – which in his case, they are. A careless, thoughtless racist who describes black people as ‘piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles” and Muslim women as “letterboxes”. Today, deploying another Islamophobic meme, he deliberately likens the PM’s Brexit policy to a “suicide vest”. Trump will like that.

(Like Trump, he does it deliberately to fire up his dumbfuck base. And just as with Trump, nobody puts him in prison for it; although God help anyone else who says those hateful things.)

“Many who before regarded legislation on the subject as chimerical, will now fancy that it is only dangerous, or perhaps not more than difficult. And so in time it will come to be looked on as among the things possible, then among the things probable;—and so at last it will be ranged in the list of those few measures which the country requires as being absolutely needed. That is the way in which public opinion is made.” – Anthony Trollope, Phineas Finn. (From Wikipedia)

For “legislation on the subject”, read “Alexander “Boris” dePfeffel Johnson; arse at large”.

You are, are you not, you Tories, now all utterly without shame, humility or moral scruple. Your entire existence is reduced to a zero-sum game: do we get back in, or not? With or without a second referendum, a deal, no deal – and the hell with the consequences? The hell, too, with good governance: the poor are crying out for an end to your oppression, the fragile threads holding our society together are breaking apart, and you aren’t hearing or seeing them in your solipsism.

The calculus is that Johnson will come out of this, his latest marital fuck-up, smelling – if not of roses, then at least of Nina Ricci – or he will be doomed to Churchillian temporary oblivion, and round we go again.

What he needs is a good war.

What he’s going to get is another global economic crisis; this one potentially terminal. Is he up to it?

The point surely is not that Johnson’s wife is divorcing him, probably not before time. He has said, rather pathetically, that he is looking for somewhere to live. I imagine him ironing his yellowing underpants in a bedsit in Pimlico, smelling of unwashed socks, Jeremy Kyle on the telly. Visiting day with the kids!

It’s not even necessarily the point, that he has had yet another extramarital affair – Marina, the mother of his four children (apart from at least one by-blow we know of), knew perfectly well what she was getting into.

It’s just that, hashtag Metoo, the other attractive blonde bit of totty concerned is, or was at the time, an EMPLOYEE. And we just don’t go there any more, do we.

Suzanne Moore wrote in The Guardian last Friday:

“Apparently allies of Johnson know that his infidelity is written into his “price” and his supporters won’t mind. They certainly haven’t minded about his attitudes to women in the past. His writing about “hot totty” at Labour conference, his ludicrous remarks about breast size, his general ogling is part of his brand. He is Trumpian in his appetites and in his disregard for the morality of little people.”

That’s you and me, by the way. Going to vote for him? Think he’d make a good Prime Minister?

His dumbfuck supporters, who think they’re voting for a refreshing change rather than for a narcissistic middle-aged Lothario who can’t keep it in his pants, normally a signal to MI5 that a politician is not to be trusted around State secrets, won’t mind because they don’t ask. They don’t know. But they would care, surely?

“Mr Johnson’s long-suffering wife Marina Wheeler (QC) announced the divorce yesterday after tiring of the 54-year-old womaniser’s antics”, wrote the Daily Mail. “He is said to have been juggling Brexit with secret trysts with a blonde Tory party aide.”

No cover-up… The hurricane of publicity trumps the winds of history: Boris, the no-hoper.

Okay, take a deep breath. You’re a Johnson supporter. Good old Boris, such a refreshing change (forget the £27 million debacle of the garden bridge. Forget the betrayal of Nazanin Zagari-Ratcliffe (he has). And you voted Leave, didn’t you, because you trusted him and his promise to refund the crumbling NHS, where you can’t get an appointment with a GP inside three weeks although they work only 3.5 days a week and you’ve never seen the waiting room even half-full. We feel your pain.

It’s all going to be great, a rollercoaster ride to global prosperity with red, white and blue lollipops for all, after the pain wears off.

He has a plan, surely? He must have a plan – other than telling the other 27 countries of the EU to “go whistle”?

And while he was courageously battling Monsieur Barnier and the faceless sausage-munchers of Brussels on your behalf, you now know that all the time he was holed up in some posh hotel in London, grunting like a pig with his trousers round his ankles, his patriotic little winkle balls deep in some ambitious blonde intern*.

Probably in front of a mirror.

Not only that, but he is said to have hit on the employee, whatever the silly girl is, while he was in the middle of an affair with a different Tory party worker. Go, Boris! It sounds like they’re queuing three deep to get a shot of those Johnson genes. True, after Brexit we shall need all the home-grown semen we can get, but this guy’s spending like a good ‘un. And (incidentally) seems to have been abusing his position as the Foreign Secretary all the while.

Was this why he resigned? Nothing to do with Brexit, then? Opposition to the Chequers plan that he’d approved only days earlier? Nothing to do with his contempt for the oik, David Davis? Just to avoid bringing possible opprobrium on the sacred Office of State, if the Daily Mail had got wind of the affair while he might have been jiggling some ingenue on his lap, or going at it over the desk at the FO after lights out?

Given the global furore there has been over rich slobs like Harvey Weinstein and the Trumps, père et fils, abusing their positions of power to launch their damaged egos at anything that moves, probably even at the rats overrunning their offices, you would imagine Johnson might have noticed the climate of opinion re knocking-off the secretaries and just held back for a while, but no.

He’s incontinent. A massive security risk. A total fatberg. If he would betray his marriage and his four kids, who would he not betray? If he imagines he is immune to public opinion, why would he not also think himself immune to more serious charges, of bonking for Vladimir for example?

He doesn’t give a damn about the women he uses, about loyalty, about the party, anything. He’s driven only by his fears of waning masculinity, his broadening arse, his overprivileged ego; the ease with which he can manipulate the media, and the desperate ambition that is eating what used to be his considerable brain. The famous disarming charm is wearing thin.

But you’re going to vote for him, you dumbfucks.

Because he’s such a refreshing change.

 

*It seems I may have been a little precipitous here. The Daily Mail, who employ a team of 376 reliable celebrity gossip specialists and one writer, are today betting on:

“Revealed, the party-loving blonde linked to Johnson’s marriage breakdown”

“Carrie Symonds, the party’s former director of communications, was linked to the former Foreign Secretary after it was claimed that he had developed a ‘strong friendship’ with the blonde in the months leading up to his separation from wife Marina. Ms Symonds, 30, has been a high-profile figure in Westminster for nearly a decade, holding senior positions at Tory HQ and as an adviser to Cabinet Ministers. She regularly posts glamorous pictures of herself on social media, including one photograph of herself striking a pose while standing on the bonnet of a car in the grounds of Parliament.”

As advisors to Cabinet Ministers are wont to do.

And one can indeed see how one compulsive exhibitionist like Johnson would be attracted to another, over his boring old family, his sensible wife. Did the Tory party-lovin’ spin-doctor make his shaggy head “spin”? For details, see: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/index.html

Phwoarh, what a Carrie-on! (photo: en.mogazn…/Google Images)

You read it here first #197

We have previously bogld on the question of why did Boris and Govey and the neoliberals’ neoliberal, li’l Steve Baker and old tortoise-head, Cunting Smith and the other filthy Brexit plotters simply melt away when St Theresa was dragged forward reluctantly by the 1922 Praetorian Guard to become the party leaderene in the wake of Cameron’s cowardly ratting on the job?

Those uber-bastards, fifty of whom were reported last night to be holding a coven together, openly planning a mutiny against the PM and her dead-in-the-water Chequers agreement to leave the EU without, er, leaving it….

We speculated satirically that after six years as Home Secretary overseeing MI5, the homeland security boys a’ snoopin’ and a’ snitchin’, she would certainly have known where all the bodies were buried. Surprise, surprise: “War Over Dirty Dossier“, headlines the Sunday Times today, 9 Sept. “Documents on his sex life drawn up by May’s aides…”

You read it here first, about two years ago!

x

Ready when you are, Mr Trump

Federal Emergency Management Administration

Response and Recovery

“The Response and Recovery program coordinates the core federal response capabilities used to save lives, and protect critical infrastructure in communities throughout the Nation (sic) that have been overwhelmed by the impact of a major disaster or an emergency. The program also takes the lead among federal agencies, state and local governments, and representatives of non-governmental organizations to support individuals and communities with the goal of reducing losses, improving recovery operations, and promoting resilience.”

In May, shortly before the start of the 2018 hurricane season, the Trump Administration privately transferred $9.8 million out of FEMA’s emergency response funds to help shore up the budget for ICE, the immigration control agency, to cover the extra costs of seizing and locking up the children of refugee asylum seekers in detention camps; some as young as 18 months.

The item was buried in an appropriations bill that just happened to have been scrutinized by Democrat senator, Jeff Merkley.

As 160 mph Cat 4 Hurricane Florence was bearing down on the Carolinas and their complement of panicking humans, rickety shoreline houses and nuclear power plants (at least 6 are in its path), Trump trumpeted that the nation had never been better prepared for an event which, forecast the master meteorologist, would be “tremendously big, and tremendously… wet”.

Meanwhile the death toll from last year’s Hurricane Maria, that devastated Puerto Rico, has been officially raised to a number oddly coincident with that of 9/11, 2,975 – in both cases the numbers killed in the initial event have been swollen in their aftermath by official neglect and ignorance.

Several news channels have reminded us today of Trump’s astonishing, self-congratulatory encomia about how his administration’s response to Puerto Rico a year ago had been probably the greatest ever to any disaster; an unsung triumph. We were treated once more to archival images of him, throwing kitchen paper rolls at the survivors.

All other accounts however refer to its complete inadequacy – any failings, says the President, were down to the extreme difficulty of getting to Puerto Rico, an island dependancy of the USA, across ‘a lot of water, ocean water’; the poverty of its prior infrastructure, its ‘bankruptcy’ – compounded by FEMA’s total incompetence in the matter of assigning large-scale reconstruction contracts to mainland-based companies they found on Linked-In, with as few as one employee.

(Among his other irrational morbid dreads, the President clearly is suffering from hydrophobia.)

Responding by tweet to Monday’s anniversary of 9/11, Trump launched yet another whining, self-justifying denial of ‘collusion’ with Russia and claimed there was an increasing amount of documentary evidence connecting Hillary Clinton to the Kremlin – although none has been produced. Of the events of 9 September, 2001, his admiration for the responders and his commiserations with he relatives, the President of the United States said nothing. He later attended a gathering of survivors and relatives, and was caught on camera giving a victory salute to himself.

TYT’s Cenk Uygur reminded us yesterday of what Trump had said on a radio phone-in on the evening of the 9/11 attack: boasting that, with the demolition of the World Trade Center’s twin towers, with nearly 3,000 office workers and responders burned or crushed to death beneath them, people still dying in the rubble, the area still on fire, his own building, Trump Tower, was now “the tallest in New York”.

This sociopathic monster needs to be confined to a secure facility and deprived permanently of his cellphones. Not the White House, a real one.

STOP PRESS: Federal authorities have said they will not be evacuating 1,000 prisoners from the Ridgeland Correctional Institute on the coast of South Carolina, as 160 mph super hurricane Florence bears down on them. Fears are also being expressed for pollution from vast agricultural waste storage facilities as many giant industrial pig and chicken farms,  sewage treatment works and ‘toxic coal-ash dumps’ also lie in the path of the storm. (Democracy Now!)

“North Carolina has roughly 2,100 industrial-scale pork farms containing more than 9 million hogs typically housed in long metal sheds with grated floors designed to allow the animals’ urine and feces to fall through and flow into nearby open-air pits containing millions of gallons of untreated sewage.” (The Guardian)

Okay, carry on…

Storm over Miami, Fla (Cater’s News Agency)

GW: Ooh, what a spin I’m in…

Fast-moving events this week make maintaining an account valid for Thursday somewhat problematic, but here goes.

Hurricane Florence, still heading for the eastern seaboard of the USA, is moving slowly towards (now past) Bermuda and possibly could become the highest Category 5 over warmer waters and one of the most destructive hurricanes to hit the east coast in decades.

The forecast is for an incredible event: Florence is expected to stall over the coast for up to THREE DAYS… potentially dropping more than 35 inches of rain. Fortunately the Outer Banks area of N Carolina is thinly populated, even so up to 10-in is possible inland to Virginia and up into New York as the rotation widens. (The target now appears to be the more populous city of Wilmington.)

“As well as Florence, likely to become a Superstorm by Thursday several hundred miles across, “The Atlantic and Pacific are ginning up at least four other systems that are already—or soon predicted to be—at hurricane strength. Each of these is likely to affect land, with an unusual cluster of simultaneous U.S.-affiliated targets.” (Wunderground)

Weather wars, no doubt.

STOP PRESS: Monday 10 Sept. Wunderground confirms, “With rapid intensification forecast, Florence is predicted by the National Hurricane Center to reach the North Carolina coast on Thursday as a weakening Cat 3, one of the strongest landfalls so far north in U.S. history. Massive rains could occur for days afterward.” A tidal surge is predicted over the shallow coastline of 10 to 12 feet. 1.5 million residents have been advised to flee, and the US Atlantic fleet has put to sea. Even Mr Trump has noticed, tweeting people to stay safe. Right…

Olivia is encountering problems and may not make it to Cat 1 before it passes over Maui and fizzles out as a Tropical Storm, even so a rare visitor to Hawaii offering up to 15-in rain over Maui island. New, Tropical Storm Paul isn’t expected to make landfall anywhere.

Helene has become a mid-size Cat 1 hurricane, 145 miles south of the Cape Verde islands. It seems to be taking a sharp northwards turn into the mid-Atlantic, from where it MIGHT make landfall next week in the British Isles, hopes the Daily Express.

“Gales and torrential downpours threaten to hammer swathes of the country early next week if Helene makes a direct hit on the UK. However the tropical storm could narrowly swerve the country and instead supercharge a sweltering blast of heat already poised to send thermometers rocketing towards 30C (86F). Helene’s path and impact will depend on whether she collides with the jet stream over the coming days and the atmospheric conditions over Britain after the weekend, experts say.” (Express)

“Compact Tropical Storm Isaac (only 45 miles wide) was on the verge of hurricane status at 5 pm EDT Sunday, with top sustained winds of 70 mph.” Heading for the Windward Islands and the Lesser Antilles, on the edge of the Caribbean, thinks Bob Henson; who is also watching a Tropical Disturbance forming south of the Gulf that could intensify over 30 deg. C. warm waters and bring yet more flooding to Texas and Louisiana.

Pacific Typhoon Mangkhut is “on track to pass through the U.S. commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands early Monday EDT as a Category 3-strength typhoon”, on its way to Guam and the Anderson Airforce Base. Unnamed Tropical Depression 27 is just passing over Luzon, Philippines. A rough week ahead in peak hurricane season.

UPDATE, Wednesday 12th: “Millions are at risk from a strong typhoon set to smash into the northern Philippines this weekend which could bring floods, landslides and huge waves to the disaster-prone nation. Emergency workers have been deployed in the northern tip of the main Philippine island of Luzon, where Cat 4 Supertyphoon Mangkhut is expected to make landfall on Saturday, with gusts of 270km per hour. ‘We’re worried for the 10 million people living in the path of this destructive storm,’ said Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross.” (http://www.channelnewsasia.com)

Next stop, Hong Kong….

USA: “Heavy rain, enhanced by the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon, caused severe flooding in parts of Kentucky and Missouri between 07 to 09 Sept. At least 2 people have died. Parts of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania also saw heavy rainfall. … Slow-moving storms over the weekend caused flooding in parts of Texas. Local media report that 2 people died when their vehicle was dragged away by flood water in Fort Worth. (Floodlist)

Checking on some residual September heatwave numbers, I see Phoenix, Az. is still running at around 106F, 41C every day this week, with temperatures not falling below the mid-80s F overnight. Palm Springs, Ca. posted a high of 111F, 43C just today. The fierce Delta fire in Shasta County, northern California was raging uncontrolled over 22 thousand acres Saturday, tripling in size overnight. (50 thousand acres by Monday night.) A 45-mile section of highway i-5 had to be closed. But overall temperatures seem to be cooling, with rainy New York hitting a maximum of 72F, 22C. In Mexico, three schoolboys were electrocuted when widespread flooding affected the city of Apodaca.

Japan: Some new footage has emerged of Typhoon Jebi and a most extraordinary event that we never saw on mainstream news, a huge pile of wrecked cars blown or washed atop one another from a coastal carpark, caught alight and blazing fiercely. (Climate Change & Extreme Weather News #135) The same source gives us video of recent heavy flooding in Guangdong Province, China (single-storey dwellings up to the the eaves, fish swimming around unwisely on the floor of a restaurant!)

Wednesday 12th: 160 mph supertyphoon Mangkhut is expected to clip the Philippines and make landfall on the Chinese coast around Hong Kong  on Sunday, possibly as a slightly weaker Cat 3.

North Korea: The geopolitics, nuclear ambitions and parades are rarely out of the news, but we seldom hear anything about how climate change is affecting the secretive state, that has recently suffered a long heatwave and severe drought. That came to an end briefly on 28 August when 76 people are thought to have drowned and another 75 are missing after heavy flooding and landslides hit the southern part of the country. 800 buildings were destroyed. “Thousands have lost their homes and are in urgent need of food and shelter” (Red Cross spokesman) (CEWN #135 citing AFP in Pyongyang)

Italy: Flash flooding affected the city of Verona and outskirts on 01 Sept after extreme rainfall. Similarly, Barcelona in Spain was hit by a violent thunderstorm that caused widespread flooding in the city. Another flash-flood raced through the streets of Cebolla, near Toledo, where the river overflowed, carrying away dozens of cars. “Local observers said that around 30 mm of rain fell in just 15 minutes and between 50 and 60 mm in one hour.” (Floodlist) On 06 Sept a major flood hit Erbaa, in northern Turkey, during a powerful ‘whiteout’ hailstorm that turned streets to rivers of ice, etc. (CEWN #135.) Satellite imagery (Meteo) shows a large weather system moving eastwards through the Mediterranean.

Adios, amigos!

Yellowstone News: Friday 7th, the Steamboat (biggest geyser in the park) erupted again, for the 17th time this year, with considerable force, hurling rocks and ‘dirty’ boiling liquid water into the air accompanied by a ‘deep, percussive booming sound’ (USGS field reports). The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, the eruption lasted for 48 minutes; almost twice as long as ever recorded before. The most times it has gone off in a single year before is 3, in the whole of 2003. Many years it doesn’t erupt at all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9ay1PBQlBM&t=22s

Plaguewatch: There’s been a single case of potentially fatal MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a ‘flu-like coronavirus carried by camels – in South Korea, brought back apparently from Kuwait by a 61-year-old business traveler. It’s the first known case for three years, following an outbreak in Korea that killed 38 people. Authorities have quarantined the flight crew and several passengers, but they’re still looking for another 50 passengers who may not know they’ve been exposed. (ChannelNews Asia/Straits Times)

In unconnected news, dozens of passengers arriving in the USA, Australia and New Zealand on flights from the Middle East have been reporting feeling ill. Several different airlines were involved and a number of passengers were taken to hospital as a precaution. The passengers are all thought to have been making their annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, where tens of thousands of worshippers mingle from all over the world – a perfect incubator – and may just be suffering from mild ‘flu, according to health specialists.