The Pumpkin – Issue 87: The State of the Art, the Art of the State… Raindance festival… Off with their heads… The gain in Spain… Oh, the pain…

Quote of the Week

“I’m ashamed of my country for what it has done. It’s torn people apart … I am sick to death of politicians, especially British politicians. I am sick to death of Brexit. I am a European. I am not a stupid, colonial, imperialist English idiot.” – Sir Elton John, speaking while on his latest farewell tour in Verona.

 

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on an Isis propaganda video

“Ar-har, Jim lad, we be bound for Treasure Island!”

Long John Silver speaks out in shock new IS recruiting video.

 

“There’ll be only one monarch on parade.”

The State of the Art, the Art of the State

The problem with the Trump approach to diplomacy – stir everything up, throw shit at your allies and hold your enemies embarassingly close, while gutting the State Department of traditional diplomatic expertise and listening to nobody but the tiny yammering faces on Murdoch’s Fox & Friends – is that someday you’re going to turn up to the party to find the hosts piled up in the corner, gibbering incoherently in a state of advanced intoxication and no use to anybody.

This week, Trump’s callow son-in-law, special envoy Jared “Ken” Kushner arrived in Jerusalem to unveil his pre-doomed “peace plan” for the Middle East, only to find that the Israeli government had just collapsed in a groaning heap. Who expected that?

Newly re-elected by a whisker, The Kush’s dad’s old pal Netanyahu had tried to push for a law making it impossible to prosecute him on growing corruption charges, while parties far even to the right of his hardline Likud were refusing to join his coalition, leaving him with a minority in the Knesset.

As Kushner and his entourage were descending from the skies, Netanyahu was declaring a fresh election in the autumn, his majority whisked away in part by liberal voter opposition to Trump’s clumsy efforts to influence the election last month; while the White House’s unpopular attempts to deprive the Palestinian Authority of funding has largely failed as a typically Trumpian negotiating tactic since European sources have stepped into the breach.

The Washington Post reports:

“A new campaign cycle means no Israeli politician — least of all Netanyahu and Kushner’s other interlocutors on the Israeli right — would want to be associated with any kind of compromise with Palestinians.”

Nor, with the 2020 election fast approaching, does the Post think Trump will risk giving the deal another outing in November when the possibility – most say the likelihood – of failure could compromise his anticipated triumphal return to the White House for another four years of mounting chaos, kleptocracy and spiteful untruth-telling, a nation descending into madness.

Meanwhile, an ostentatiously huge delegation of 800 American officials: security men, hairdressers, burger-chefs and military planners has been landing on harmless little Britain like mosquitos to prearrange the arrival of The Beast – no, not Trump, the two-and-a-half ton bomb-proof perk, that travels everywhere to protect the president against satirical balloons – and the rest of the Imperial baggage-train, in advance of Trump’s greatest PR coup, his self-exonerating State visit.

And, oops, his dear friend Theresa May, whose authority as Prime Minister he went to great lengths on his “informal” visit last year to undermine, is now dead in the water and sinking fast, having agreed to step down as party leader the day after the Orange Nightmare goes home, under intolerable pressure from the Trumpists and Bannonites, the hardline nativist No Dealers, Victorian throwbacks and hedge-fund managers on the far right of her formerly centrist party, who have determinedly fucked-up her futile negotiations to exit the European Union with anything approaching our national dignity and the Good Friday Agreement intact.

Who will he be left to hold significant talks with?

The Pumpkin supposes he will not be much interested in being harangued on the subject of climate chaos and the Sixth Extinction by our putative future Green King, and may wish to escape ASAP the stuffy and oppressive atmosphere of Buck House and all those dull, hoity-toity, jewelry-encrusted losers and their hangers-on, just as soon as the photo op is finished.

There’ll be only one monarch on parade.

Nor will he want to mix with the likes of poor Jeremy Corbyn, who has already set light to his own invitation to the ceremonies. In the ritual pre-visit interview with Murdoch’s rabid tabloid Sun newspaper, Trump’s inner mob boss emerged to ominously inform Corbyn – just in case he should win an electoral victory – that he was making a big mistake.

Why, then, summon forth his old pal and elevator boy Nigel Farage, Britain’s Reichschancellor in waiting! Summon the correspondingly golden-haired wunderkind and darling of the provincial tricoteuses of the aging Conservative matriarchy, Boris “Watermelon, Picanninny, Letterbox, ‘Fuck Business'” Johnson.

Summon, why not, for Heaven’s sake, the pocket nationalist, “Tommy Robinson”, martyr for the cause of racist street-violence, to commiserate over the Presidential Abuse poor traduced Mr Trump has suffered for two years at the hands of Obama’s Deep-State Democrats and their profoundly conflicted inquisitor, Bob Mueller 111, gay lover of sacked FBI Director, James Comey, who has completely exonerated the President with his notorious hoax report levelling numerous unproceedable charges of treason and obstruction of justice at him that never happened, okay?

(“I wasn’t involved with the Russian attempt to… er, no, as you were, there was no Russian attempt to…”)

The fact is, whoever the “unindicted co-conspirator”, employer of undocumented labor and convicted tax-cheat, Trump chooses to consort with, his visit will be seen by most as an unwarranted intrusion into the political affairs of the nation. It remains to be seen what tone his infamous nocturnal tweets will adopt, what petty insults and whinges and lies and false accusations his tiny thumbs will produce around his unwelcome visit, for the entertainment of his dumbfucks at home.

It’s hard to see how exceptionalist British nativism can willingly reconcile to the imposition post-Brexit of US Imperial corporate hegemony in these islands, summarised simply for consumers as “chlorinated chicken”, although it’s a lot worse than that, but stranger things have happened.

His devoted followers may not be willing to consider, or even wish to hear about, Farage’s actual political agenda, beyond doing the maximum offence to inworkers and leaving the hated EU on any terms, including the collapse of much of Britain’s remaining manufacturing industry and the clawing back of worker and consumer protections.

But the removal of our revered State-funded universal healthcare system is high on his list, in favor of a US-style, US-owned, co-pay insurance market few people and small businesses will be able to afford to buy into.

So don’t blame The Pumpkin if life in Britain is about to take a very strange and ugly turn. He’s been trying to warn everybody for years.

 

Raindance festival

“Claire Cahm was preparing to set up an anti-Trump banner on the roof of her house, in the hope it catches his eye as he flies in. ‘I don’t suppose he will see it but it’s my gesture,’ she said. ‘We all have to do what we can. I hope it’s rainy and windy so his hair flies around everywhere.'” (Guardian)

Ooh, you absolute bitch! Portsmouth prepares to protest Trump’s personal Donald-Day event. (But of course, if it’s raining he won’t attend. Military helicopters can’t fly in the rain, as we all know.)

 

Off with their heads

Asked by his nemesis Jim Acosta of the hated CNN at a press conference on the lawn if he would agree that “treason” was a crime punishable by death, and who would he suggest could be prosecuted for the crime, a curiously swollen-looking President Trump began rattling off the names of James Comey, Peter Strojk and other former FBI officers he has had fired, apparently for investigating Russian interference in the election or, as in Comey’s case, refusing an illegal order to stop investigating former Trump soldier, Michael Flynn (said by a judge to have sold out his country) and swear personal allegiance to Trump.

Mr Trump also mentioned “Crooked” Hillary Clinton, who, he said, had instigated a coup d’etat against the government, purely out of spite because he won the election. (This, from the man who has floated the idea publicly that if he loses the 2020 election, he might refuse to leave office because the vote will have been rigged.)

Given the antithetical elements in the Commentariat and all the Democrats in the House, Death Row is going to get pretty crowded.

In the meantime, Trump has seized on comments tweeted by Liz, extreme rightwing daughter of former W Bush Vice-President and broadly acknowledged war criminal, Dick Cheney, one of the authors of the neocon conspiracy known as the “American Project for the 21st Century”, that political opposition to the President constitutes treason, to redefine the meaning of the word.

Bit by bit, America descends into the abyss.

 

For fairly terrifying analysis of the extent of the coup Trump is mounting against the State which, as the President, he is sworn to protect, see David Smith’s piece, ‘The Kraken unleashed’: how Trump’s shock troops attack US democracy, at http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/01/donald-trump-gorka-lewandowski-hannity-fbi-treason-mueller-russia

 

The gain in Spain

As further evidence of the growing insanity of the right, a proposal by the probably incoming Popular Party president of Spain’s Madrid region to abolish the city’s successful Low Emissions traffic zone must take the tortilla.

The aim apparently is to please the Vox party, that the Popular Party needs to go into coalition with to obtain a majority. The Francoist Vox is believed to be funded by the Christian right in the USA and to be acting as a conduit for money pouring into far-right disruptive parties in other parts of Europe.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, 40 – yes, a woman (pretty hot!) and probably a mother (her marital status cannot easily be ascertained) – has argued that traffic congestion at 3 a.m. is part of the city’s culture and what gives it its vibrancy. Increased traffic is consistent with the city’s lucrative nightlife, she says, and so must take precedence over what she admits is not an ideal environment for humans.

The scheme has rapidly cut congestion and dangerous nitrogen pollution from diesel engines by up to 50% in parts of the city, in response to EU regulation. The European Environment Agency has estimated that 30,000 additional deaths in Spain annually are caused by air pollution.

Much research recently has shown too that CO2 and other airborne pollutants, including microparticles from diesel exhaust, are damaging children’s growing brains and lungs, and actively cause cognitive impairment in adults.

Neoliberalism is literally killing people and making us even more stupid.

And these greedy, selfrighteous, self-serving fuckers on the Christian right just don’t care.

Well, if they don’t care if others live or die, babies and children, as long as they go on making money for Jesus and his Lear jet, then what is the moral bar to killing them first? (reporting: Guardian)

Just askin’.

 

Oh, the pain

In response to an interview with the US Ambassador to London, Mr Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson a couple of months ago, in which he told Britain we would basically have to suck-up US food standards if we wanted a trade deal, the Bogler pointed out that Mr Johnson’s family business, Johnson & Johnson, was facing 12 THOUSAND law suits in the USA relating to allegations that their famous baby powder is cut with cancer-causing asbestos dust.

It gets better. The State of Oklahoma is suing the New Jersey-based firm for perpetuating America’s worst ever public health crisis, that is killing more than 50 thousand people a year through overprescription of powerful painkilling opioid drugs, for conditions that are essentially medicalized, i.e. invented by doctors. The Guardian reports:

“The New Jersey-based firm, better known around the globe for baby powder and shampoo, is fighting allegations by the state of Oklahoma that it conspired with other drug makers deceptively to market opioids by downplaying the significant risk of addiction and by pressuring doctors to prescribe narcotic painkillers, including to children.”

Several other companies involved in the lethal trade, including the Sackler family, have already settled huge compensation claims. You can bet your boots the Johnsons would be the kind of philanthropic Christians who tenaciously oppose abortion, being pro-life. Being accused of killing live babies and children however is a problem for their legal team.

A superstorm cell, photographed on 27 May. America, anyone?
(Mike Coniglio, NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory.)

GW: Gettin’ better all the time

USA: The Weather Channel reports, “A much-needed break is finally on the horizon after a month-long siege of severe weather that ranks among the worst in modern U.S. records. A 12-day streak of daily rounds of severe weather culminated on Tuesday with a major long-track tornado … across the Kansas City metro area. … The havoc this month has also included widespread flash floods across the Plains and Midwest and severe river flooding in Oklahoma and Arkansas. … Amazingly, only six deaths have been directly attributed to this month’s tornado swarm.”

The worst flood in US history?: 2,289 died in the Johnstown flood of 31 May, 1889, 130 years ago, when a 40-foot wall of water from a bursting dam roared through the town. Around 8″ of rain had fallen overnight – the weather station was washed away with its operator, so no-one knows quite how much rain fell. Many residents took refuge on a stone bridge, where a huge pile of debris including oil tanks caught fire, leading to many deaths. (Weather historian, Christopher C Burt, on Weather Underground)

Vietnam: Heavy monsoonal rainfall in China that has claimed 9 lives and ruined 23 thousand Ha of crops has spilled over into north Vietnam and killed another 2 in floods and landslides that have destroyed homes and crops. “National Center for Meteorological Forecasting warned of further heavy rain with risk of flooding and landslides over the coming days.” (Floodlist) BBC Weather reports, the monsoon is late arriving in southern India but is expected any day now.

Japan: It seems a little cooler, Japan Times is now ignoring the whole story. Earlier in the week, The Weather Channel reports, “At least 5 people have died and nearly 600 have been hospitalized as a heat wave grips Japan. Sunday, the temperature hit 103.1 degrees in the coastal town of Saroma on the island of Hokkaido, according to the Japan Times. The Meteorological Agency said that is the highest temperature at any observation point in Japan for the month of May.”

Chile: BBC is reporting, trails of destruction have been caused by a rare series of strong tornadoes that hit the towns of Los Angeles and Conception, 100 km apart, yesterday. 1 person is reported dead, others injured.

Spain and Portugal: Many parts of the peninsula have been on Orange heat and fire alerts this past week. Spain’s national weather office placed one province, Cordoba, on Red alert, the highest level in the scale, meaning soaring temperatures posed an “extreme risk” to health. Temperatures in the Andalusian countryside were expected to climb to 44 deg. C., 111F (Earth Changes Media)

“‘These are not usual meteorological phenomena, being of an exceptional intensity and with a very high level of risk for the population,’ a spokesman for Spain’s national weather office said.”

It’s expected still to be around 30C this evening, 1 June, for the 8pm kick-off of the European Champions’ League final in Madrid between British football clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.

UK (the south, anyway ): “is forecast to record the hottest day of the year so far as temperatures are set to soar this weekend (1 June). According to the Met Office, the south-east of England could reach 29C (84F) on Saturday, 0.5C higher than the joint warmest days of the year so far, on 19 April and 15 May. The average June temperature is 17C. (Guardian Weather) Here in Boglington, it’s an agreeable 25C. Sadly, it’s a one-day wonder: Sunday it’s back to cloudy and cool with rain in the west.

“Britain is setting new records for going without coal-powered energy. In the latest milestone, it has gone for two weeks without using coal to generate electricity – the longest such period since 1882.” (Guardian Green Light)

 

Tunnel approaching…

Bali: Mt Agung is at it again. A major eruption yesterday, latest of many that have led to mass evacuations in the past two years and disrupted air travel, sent a cloud of ash up to a height of 6000 feet. Mt Etna on Sicily has also been erupting quite violently, a new fissure spewing lava in spectacular fashion.

Yellowstone: looks like the Steamboat geyser went off again briefly on 28 May. That makes 18 this year, on course for a new record to beat last year’s total of 32 (normal year is 2 or 3). USGS printouts show, there’s been major venting in the Norris Junction area this week of sulphur dioxide, ancient helium and other volcanic gases. (Mary Greeley)

 

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Snowflakes are falling… D-Day branding… Boo, again, BBC… And boo, Wales… GW: Wiv me skirts a’ flyin’ above me ‘ead… Tunnel Approaching… Morons’ Corner.

Quote of the Week:

It’s a terrible feeling to discover that your country is full of strangers.

Mihir Sharma, writing in Bloomberg on the landslide victory in Indian elections of Modi’s ugly Hindu nationalists.

Your Uncle Bogler had exactly that feeling yesterday afternoon in Morrison’s, perceiving himself beset about by late-middle-aged white couples, seemingly of few means, with strong Midlands’ accents who had, most of them, probably, just voted for Nigel Farage’s Brexit party.

Not my country, mate.

Notes

D-Day branding

The US Department of Energy has rebranded liquid methane (natural gas).

Likening the powerful greenhouse gas to the American military, that liberated Europe 75 years ago, Mark W Menezes, the US under-secretary of Energy, has renamed it “Freedom gas”. We are, he said, exporting “molecules of Freedom” to the world. (Guardian report)

It’s getting more like Dr Strangelove every day over there.

Processed food … “linked to early death”

“People who eat large amounts of heavily processed foods, from breakfast cereals and ready meals to muffins and ice-cream, have a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and early death, according to (a) major study (in France).

“The study, published in the British Medical Journal, does not prove that ultra-processed foods cause disease. Nor does the effect appear particularly large….” (Guardian)

I fear we are all going mad.

 

Snowflakes are falling

“Festivalgoer Renardo Henry, 21, said he saw people passing out in the heat. “We were in the queue, four people had collapsed around us, people were throwing up and shouting for medics, all the staff were doing was throwing water bottles into the crowd of people,” he told the BBC.” (Guardian, 26 May)

Yes, temperatures in London this Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend soared to an unimaginable 20C, 68F – not a record for late May, in fact it was hotter in late February – and young people queuing for three and a half hours for tickets but without the right ‘free drinks allowance’ wristbands, were collapsing everywhere like koalas in the intolerable furnace of the We Are FSTVL – er, festival.

Another crowdgoer tweeted of water bottles bouncing off people’s heads, presumably why “bouncers” are called just that. Alexi Hicken tweeted: “i was trapped inside the tent while all this was going on clinging to a pole so i didn’t get trampled on, after three hours of queuing and the blaring sun it wasn’t ideal.”

Aye, a Pole can come in handy, Brexit or no.

What in God’s almighty name is wrong with these pathetic dwarfs, that an averagely pleasant late spring day bringing temperatures only marginally higher than that recommended by the Shops, Offices and Factories Act, 1963 as a safe working environment, poleaxes them in droves?

How will they cope with June?

Over in Japan, it’s hot. 39C, 104F! They’re still alive and queuing. They’re not clinging to tent poles while water bottles bounce off their heads, thrown, in his best Puerto Rico fashion one could imagine, by visiting President Donald “The Donman” Trump and his sour-looking estranged wife, Moronia.

At least he’ll know what to chuck back at the jeering crowds in London when the gross, lying criminal fraudster pays us a state visit next week. Not paper towels, not double-cheeseburgers, not salted caramel milkshake, but life-saving water bottles.

And whatever happened to Extinction Rebellion? Why were they not on hand to protest the careless proliferation of plastic drinks containers?

Life used to be so much simpler.

 

“We still do not know whose money has been driving the Brexit party.”

Boo, again, BBC

There was a long and thoughtful article in yesterday’s Observer, in which several experienced people from the news industry contributed individually on a topic the Bogler has returned to several times, the public confusion and confirmatory bias generated by BBC News in its ruthless pursuit of “balance”.

The coverage of last week’s European Parliament elections on Monday morning’s R4 Today program was a case in point.

My understanding of how things now work is that there is less separation than in my very brief day at the BBC between News and Current Affairs, benefiting from supposed “synergies”, no doubt – “synergy” being management-speak for operating across different departments with fewer staff, driving the poor beasts to work ever harder.

Anyway, neither on the program itself nor on the news-generated segments and the main hourly bulletin did I hear one very obvious point being made about the result, which could only be released overnight Sunday going into Monday, when Europe – you know, that dozy lot over there – had finished voting for as many Putin-funded neo-Nazis and razorwire fence-erectors as it could find.

Which, in a sense, the ageing miseryguts and bellyachers of the retrograde Brexit party were doing, voting for “strong leadership” and a course of action likely to bring the economy to its knees, stealing the futures of the younger Remain tendency just to remind them who won the war.

We heard, in fact, very little in detail about the European votes, you know, the foreign ones. We heard that some far-right parties and the Greens had basically done well, with a far-left result in Spain.

But we heard nothing, and have heard in all nothing ever on the BBC, of the faceless US and Russian Christian alt-right, anti-women’s rights, anti-Islam, gay-bashing Bannonite campaign groups and billionaire disruptors behind the scenes, funding the nationalist ultras in many countries; including our own.

We still do not know whose money has been driving the Brexit party and paying for Farage’s £million home. If his adoring voters (“Oh, he’s just like us!” Yes, he lives on expenses) could be arsed to find out who he consorts with when he’s not faking a march from Jarrow to London or throwing fish into the Thames, they would shit themselves. It seems the BBC doesn’t want us to find out either. It’s just not on their bucket list to investigate.

Instead, the local story was of the victory of Farage’s Brexiters – who went from nowhere six weeks ago, to 28 comfortably remunerated seats in Strasbourg, by far the largest British group – over both Conservative and Labour, historically the two main parties, who mustered between them only 13 seats, with the ruling Conservative party beaten into fifth place overall on just 9% of the vote.

And, yes, that is one story – one that was made up by the news media long before the event. We could have heard, of course, but we didn’t, analysts pointing out that the Brexiters’ view that Britain is the vassal of an undemocratic EU superstate ruled by faceless foreign bureaucrats in Brussels is completely demolished by attaching the importance Brexit disruptors have accorded to this election to the European Parliament; an election that is likely to produce a very short-lived but nonetheless democratic representation for British interests in Europe, that they want us to give up.

It was indeed a night to celebrate for the Brexit tendency and its candidate list of dismal street-thugs, extreme nationalists, misty-eyed boozers, racists, misogynists, undereducated housewives, golf-club bores, unemployed steel workers and self-publicising reality TV-show hacks, who did indeed pour buckets of milkshake all over the established parties.

They deserved it. Both Labour and Conservatives are irredeemably split on the issue of Europe, have been for years, and have failed to deliver either the non-specific (and undeliverable) Brexit “the People” voted for, again by only a large minority, nearly three years ago, or its opposite, satisfying no-one. Neither has either of them been much bothered about rising inequality, slave wages and the abusive bureaucracy that fails to address those problems.

Now they are paying the price.

What nobody, not even the embarrassingly lightweight Political Editor of the BBC, Laura Kuenssberg, would say out loud, was that Brexit had won only 32% of only a 37% turnout of voters, highlighting the monumental irrelevance, both of the Brexit party and of this election to the vast majority of the population.

It certainly wasn’t going to come up in the main 08.10 Today interview slot with the oafish Leave-supporting junior minister for Children, Nadhim Zahawi – a blustering, ignorant, Hard Brexiting spokesmouth almost as overexposed on BBC Current Affairs slots as Farage himself.

(You bet there was no sign of our now-dead Prime Minister, Theresa May, another of the architects of this clusterfuck quietly fading from view.)

It was not until a quarter of an hour before the three-hour-long program ended that a guest, Lord Heseltine, the sometime flamboyant Tory cabinet minister who dared to stand up to Thatcher, and who was stripped of the party whip last week for announcing that he would vote for a Remain party, the Liberal Democrats – which he did, and they won in his constituency! – pointed out what must have been glaringly obvious to everyone, barring the Editor of the program, the significant fact that:

Remain-supporting parties had won more votes combined than Brexit had done, with two-thirds of the vote. A fair majority on any night. Scotland hasn’t finally filed, but the SNP is another pro-Remain party and looks like it has swept the board. Throw in Labour’s 10 – a three-quarters majority of Labour supporters are in favour of Remaining, it’s only Corbyn, the stubborn lifelong contrarian and 70-year-old student activist, who is refusing to shift party policy off an obscure fence of his own making – and Remain would have won more seats too.

(As Trump has shown, however, it is necessary to do more than just claim a popular majority when institutional biases can come into play to defeat the winner.)

That this was the proverbial elephant in the room (Come on, Bogler, you can do better than that! Ed.), that no-one in BBC News or the Today team wanted, or could bear to, or was allowed to acknowledge, is glaringly obvious. There was no reason, was there, why whoever edited the bulletins couldn’t just say it, instead of hammering home the unalloyed message of a Brexit triumph?

Just say, Remain parties won the popular vote but under our skewed system the seats fell to the Brexit party. Just admit it?

A second confirmatory referendum now would produce a Remain majority, doubtless, and several contributors made the point – but News stuck like superglue to its theme of a Brexit victory and a night of humiliation for the ditherers, giving listeners little chance to conclude that No Brexit After All had just become an increasingly likely option, in a country riven by factionalism.

We are to forge ahead instead with a defeated and despised minority government – plus the doddering remnants of the Conservative party membership – plucking, in their death-throes, on behalf of the entire country, our new Prime Minister from among its own ranks of ambitious little shits.

Some democracy!

It will probably be step-forward, Boris “Watermelon, Piccaninny, etc.” dePfeffel Johnson, the vain, self-serving, adulterous, cynically expedient orator and roguish faux-buffoon, author of lies and racial insults, our very own mini-Trump, who now perceives his best interests hang with the promise of a No Deal exit, but who until the week of the referendum in June 2016 was a Remain supporter, an internationalist who notoriously had prepared articles for his Telegraph column both for and against remaining, just in case the wind changed.

It’s not a good look, as one German journalist on the program noted. (Yes, it is about Europe….) But that kind of careless talk can cost lives – or at least, careers. We can doubtless look forward to a fractious summer with very little enlightenment from our national broadcaster.

Let’s hope the weather, as it has turned over the weekend, remains iffy.

At 20C, there could be bottles flying.

 

And boo, Wales

I voted for Plaid Cymru, the pro-Remain, center-left Welsh Nationalist party that has in recent times modernised, youthed-up, detached itself somewhat from the interests of the farming community and mopped up the Liberal Democrat vote in the Land of Song.

You’d think people here would support them. But, coming second in terms of votes, and with Remain parties jointly producing more votes but fewer seats, there being only four at stake for the entire region, a bit of a travesty given the wide range of demographics, we won only one seat. Fortunately, the one where I live.

The purpose of voting for candidates who are committed to removing themselves from the institution they are campaigning to join is not exactly clear to me. What good can any of these candidates do for their constituents under those conditions? I’d like to see Plaid Cymru, who traditionally haven’t done well down in the depressed Labour heartlands of the Rhondda Valley where the working-class vote was solidly FOR Brexit, a very far rightwing party, challenge the whole farcical situation in a court of law.

Some further devolution from Westminster short of an economically unfeasible declaration of  independence is an obvious necessity; while what Welsh economy there is has been kept going by Brussels. Wales’ extensive university sector, too, is hotly pro-Europe; our research base is strongly linked with European institutions and can only suffer the pangs of separation: reduced funding and knowledge exchange opportunities.

Then there’s the cost to be born of a likely hard border in the Irish Sea – for which, read expansion of Welsh ferry port facilities. None of this will have registered with the Brexit-voting dumbfucks.

EU structural funding for the regions is unlikely to be taken up by a government in England anxious to get itself off the hook of austerity, an economic re-expansion that is likely to cost a great deal of whatever remaining money this feckless Conservative administration has not already pissed away on ferry companies with no ferries.

And that’s another point we’re not hearing mentioned. Britain was supposed to have left the EU on 30 March last. To prepare for the eventuality that we might have to leave without a final agreement on the terms of separation, before trade talks could even begin, the government spent some £4 billion on emergency measures to prevent food riots breaking out; and then applied for, and got, an extension of Article 50 to next 31 October.

They then stood everyone down, cancelled the ferries and switched off the fridges. But if another No Deal Brexit date is looming, say we get to the beginning of October with no agreement in Parliament on a renegotiated deal the EU is in no mind to give us, we’re going to have to crank up the No Deal machine all over again, at a cost presumably of another £4 billion in civil servants and ferries and stockpiling tins of beans and fridgefuls of insulin and putting the army on standby.

Yet to my surprise and shame, and not a little alarm, these Brexit cretins in Wales have done it again. The economic cost of leaving the EU for Wales is appalling, the support for what is essentially an English nationalist project objectionable, but they just don’t care. I have yet to meet one, so I have no idea what they think they have been voting for, since they all voted UKIP at the General Election – and look how well that’s turned out.

I can’t believe it’s the Welsh who are doing this to themselves. The Welsh-speaking rural heartland is solidly Remain. It has to be all those whiney, white-flight economic migrant settlers from Birmingham. There are bloody thousands of them here, ageing ex-motor industry assembly workers with little formal education and bluff, middle England attitudes. The kind who expect fish and chips in Torremolinos and look up to the boss class.

The ones who are stealing our children’s futures, God rot them.

 

But one cheer for Manchester

A tiny light on the horizon, the criminal racist midget and loudmouthed, self-martyring street-thug, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka “Tommy Robinson”, founder of the English Defence League, was sent away with a flea in his tone-deaf ear, whining and crying about some Deep State conspiracy to silence the Voice of the People – his own voice, basically – by the voters of Manchester, who gave him just 2% of their crosses.

At which point, sadly, he lost his deposit. But I’m sure he’ll be back. His kind always are.

 

No cheers for Trumponomics

Despite record low unemployment, “Nearly 51 million US households (43%) don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone,” according to a study released Thursday.

Are they allowed phones in cells? We should be told.

“The figure includes 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families dubbed ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what’s needed ‘to survive in the modern economy.'” – CNN

Move to the sound of the guns

But for a totally terrifying minute of your life, catch up with Vice-President Mike Pence’s address recently to the graduates of the West Point military academy, and bunker down:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpSt34qB6K8

 

GW: Wiv me skirts a’ flyin’ above me ‘ead

USA: CNN Weather News reports, in the last 11 days there have been 261 instances of tornadoes touching down  in the midwest, resulting in several deaths, riding on a conveyor belt of severe storm supercells pushing up from the Gulf of Mexico across Texas and Oklahoma all the way up into the Great Lakes. Meanwhile to the northwest there’s record rain and flooding, snowmelt, rivers at “historic levels”, and to the southeast in Georgia and Florida they’re sweltering in 100-degrees-plus heat.

Update: Another 55 tornadoes on Monday, including one extremely severe one, estimated at 1 mile wide, that hit Kansas City, and another death have prompted the US weather service to remark that it’s all a bit unusual. “The past couple of weeks have seen unusually high tornado activity in the US, with no immediate end to the pattern in sight”, reports The Guardian and others.

More storms are forecast later in the week as there’s no sign of a huge, sagging loop in the jetstream moving away from the contiguous USA.

China: “Heavy rain, floods and landslides in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region have left 7 dead and 9,000 displaced. Over 9,000 hectares of crops have been damaged and 185 houses destroyed. A total of 200,000 people have been affected. Tiandeng recorded 242.8mm in 24 hours to 28 May.” (Floodlist)

Afghanistan: “At least 24 people have died in a new wave of flash flooding that has affected parts of the country. Hundreds of houses have been damaged or destroyed. At least 1 person died and 3 are missing in flash floods that hit the neighbouring South Khorasan province of Iran on 22 May.”

“Afghanistan has been blighted by flood events since early March this year. By mid March, 63 people had died and 31 injured. More than 122,600 people across 14 provinces had been affected and were in need of humanitarian assistance. Further floods hit in late March with at least 13 people losing their lives, and again in early April when over 20 people died.” (Floodlist)

Rep. of Georgia: Heavy rainfall, hail and flooding have caused severe damage to vineyards, which are the main source of income for many households in the southeast of the country. Homes, crops, bridges and roads have all been damaged. (Floodlist)

India: Hundreds of people have been rescued and over 1,000 evacuated to safety after two rivers burst their banks in Tripura province, in the northeast of the country, following heavy monsoon rains. (Floodlist)

Uganda: 8 people are confirmed dead in flooding after intense rainfall hit the region around the capital, Kampala. Floodlist quotes a Red Cross source: “The flash floods have had a devastating effect on the lives of people, livestock, businesses, household items and has affected human settlement. Many people have been displaced…”

Saudi Barbaria: “Heavy rain from 22 May has caused flash flooding in the southwest, prompting dozens of flood rescues and leaving at least 1 person missing.” (Floodlist)

 

Tunnel approaching….

If you were of a mind to go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocGWsGO_DPA at about 6’50” you’d see a graph on Paul Beckwith’s website, produced by Exxon-Mobil’s in-house climate research team, 30 years ago.

It predicts both temperature rise and CO2 concentration from burning fossil fuels.

The warming prediction was absolutely spot-on at 0.89C, by the IPCC’s lights (many climate scientists argue we’re already at 1.85C) but the expected level of CO2 in 2019 was 420 ppm, instead we’re only at 415.7 with peaks over 417. 420 is the prediction for next year.

So there’s plenty more warming baked into the numbers.

It presumably explains why, over the scientists’ heads, the board of Exxon decided to spend $millions on a PR campaign to bamboozle the public into believing the planet isn’t heating and there’s no connection between atmospheric heating and CO2 emissions from burning their oil.

It doesn’t explain why the Trump administration got John Bolton to set up a committee to rubbish the “hoax” science, chaired by a 79-year-old Physics perfesser who says CO2 is getting the same abuse as the “poor Jews” under the Nazis; and that research papers should be “vetted” rather than peer-reviewed.

Antibiotic resistance: “…Some of the world’s best-known rivers, including the Thames, are contaminated with antibiotics classified as critically important for the treatment of serious infections. In many cases they were detected at unsafe levels, meaning resistance is much more likely to develop and spread. Researchers tested 711 sites in 72 countries and found antibiotics in 65% of them. In 111 of the sites, the concentrations of antibiotics exceeded safe levels, with the worst cases more than 300 times over the safe limit.” (Guardian)

Climate emergency: Between 2014 and 2017, the number of jobs in the UK renewable energy sector fell by a third. In the same period, government investment halved. (Report from the Prospect union)

 

Morons corner

Are Americans truly the most stupid, idiotic and gullible of all God’s creatures? Is it something in the water?

The Blessed Mary Greeley continues to stir the pot over a ludicrous myth that NASA is planning to cool-off the Yellowstone magma chamber by pumping lots of water into it.

This story originated about three years ago in a BBC report that said that was exactly what they were not planning to do, but never mind, everyone believes it. (NASA is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, it has nothing whatever to do with volcanoes, except on Mars!)

No-one has ever, so far as I know (apart from me) asked, how much water would it take to cool off 7 cubic miles of 1,000-degree magma, even if the resulting superheated steam explosion didn’t destroy most of the continental United States? Probably the entire contents of the Great Lakes, but don’t tell anyone I said that!

Two weeks ago Greeley reported, or at least repeated, on her otherwise quite informative Yellowstone observation website, that she now bulks out with misunderstood and unchecked news reports, a story that the United Nations is planning to invade an American city to take people’s guns away, as there’s too much violence in the cities.

She prefaced the story with a moan that the authorities are always trying to shut down serious websites that publish information they don’t like.

This most obvious and utterly absurd of fake news conspiracy theories has apparently been taken up by Mr Trump himself, who (according to some obscure source she chooses to believe, and which takes avoiding action by slating the fact-checking website, Snopes, before it can debunk their, er, bunk) has issued an Executive Order. I couldn’t be bothered to keep watching to find out what he was ordering, another double cheeseburger probably.

Tragically, the item is followed by an endless trail of outraged comments from Trump dumbfucks demanding that America declare war or something on the evil United Nations.

How fucking stupid are Americans? It’s unfathomable.

But this not very well educated old woman is being evil, exploiting her clickbait community, who are always praying for her in their weird way, and that’s not a good thing, is it.

There is, as always, some reality behind the unreality, and it is this.

Addressing a rally of the National Rifle Association in Indianapolis on 25 April, Mr Trump sought to gain their approval and funding for his 2020 election campaign by vowing to withold US participation in a proposed UN treaty on global conventional arms control. As small arms are included, Trump argues, it challenges America’s second-amendment constitutional gun rights.

This has been blown up by the NRA propaganda machine into an attempt to take away Americans’ guns.

It’s actually an attempt to limit the proliferation of weapons to terrorists and oppressive regimes that like to spend more money on weapons than on social programs and jobs. It doesn’t in any way threaten  American gun owners’ tiny manhoods.

But you can’t have everything, can you. I don’t suppose there’s a single MAGA dumbfuck who believes that the NRA took $30 million in funding from Russia in 2016 and handed it straight to the Republican party treasury to elect Trump.

Why would they believe it, when it’s true?

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 86: Collision… Trumpenfilth corner… How many wars can Trump sustain all at once?… Bent crude… The Man Who Would be King… GW: Water, water everywhere – except where there’s drought…

“Gangs in England are so adorable. This is what we could have here if we just implemented gun control!”

– Stephen Colbert, on the milkshake attacks in Britain on rightwing agitators like Robinson and Farage.

 

Brexit party and supporters at an event in Bamber Bridge, Lancashire

Last Brexit to Nowhere… Leave supporters who have stolen our future
wait to die at a working men’s club in Lancashire. (Photo: Guardian)

 

How many wars can Trump sustain all at once?

You must watch this issue of Thom Hartmann’s vlog (link below). Unlike any panel discussion of Trump’s startling refusal to co-operate with legislators I’ve heard on US media, arguing that he is above the law, it provides a crystal-clear, historical analysis of the legal position regarding the constitutional battle between Congress, the courts and the White House.

And the conclusion is terrifying.

Spoiler alert: Thom’s verdict

If Trump refuses to co-operate with investigations, tough luck. Not even the Supreme Court can enforce the law if the President chooses not to obey it, as Congress and the courts have NO POWERS OR MEANS OF ENFORCEMENT under the constitution. Only the Executive branch, which includes the Justice Department and the White House, can order arrests.

And with the appointment of Attorney General Barr, Trump has the DoJ in his pocket.

Even if Congress were to impeach Trump for ignoring legal subpoenas ratified by the Supreme Court, as he is proposing to do if decisions go against him, they have no power to arrest him. And he knows it.

Until Nixon, such unpresidential defiance of US law has occurred only three times in the history of the USA. The first was in 1861, when the southern states backed the Supreme Court against a certain Abraham Lincoln, who refused to give way on their ruling that African slaves were not humans, and it cost 600 thousand lives to settle the matter.

Not for nothing does Trump sit under a portrait of his favorite President in history, the appalling racialist Andrew Jackson, who twice ignored the Supreme Court in matters pertaining to his genocidal campaigns aganst First Nation Americans.

How many wars can Trump sustain all at once, on how many fronts? A clue may lie in the number of law suits he’s currently juggling.

I refer you to the incomplete list of lawsuits pending against Donald Trump (NB these are only primary cases, excluding many hundreds of cases in which he is named incidentally.)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lawsuits_involving_Donald_Trump

Thom Hartmann: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1Zv3zlK714

 

Collision

An open letter stating an opinion that Trump should face trial for multiple crimes of obstructing justice on the basis of the evidence gleaned by the Mueller investigation and published in the redacted report has been signed by 900 (nine hundred!) current and former prosecuting US states’ attorneys.

The problem being that only the Department of Justice can indict – the investigation was under their jurisdiction. And the Attorney General whom Trump personally appointed in February to run the DoJ, M William “Bill” Barr, is refusing to indict on grounds that you cannot indict a sitting President; although that is a controversial opinion or, as we say, bullshit.

Talk about obstructing justice!

While the President also remains an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the case for which his lieutenant, Michael Cohen, was sent to gaol for three years, for co-operating with Trump’s order that he should pay bribes to silence two inconvenient women, illegally out of campaign funds, to assist Trump’s election prospects. The President remains under suspicion that he also persuaded a friend, Mr Elliott Broidy, to pay $1.8 million to a Playboy model whose baby he had aborted, and to accept responsibility himself.

Next week, this corrupt criminal – yes, he last year pleaded guilty in a New York court to misuse of tax-exempt charity funds and his Trump Foundation was compulsorily wound-up; while, in 2017 he was forced to pay $35 million reparations in a case involving the bogus “Trump university” scam – and his wretched family, all of whom are under investigation for financial crimes – is to be entertained, literally royally, by the British State, at a cost of many millions of pounds, and will hypocritically attend a 75th anniversary parade to mark the joint military invasion of Europe by US, Canadian, French and British forces.

Pray for rain.

 

During President Trump’s election campaign he promised voters that, unlike “lazy” Obama, he would be the hardest-working president in history. In his first 27 months in office he has played golf on average once every three days, at a cost to the US taxpayer now of $102 million. (TYT/The Huffington Post)

 

Trumpenfilth corner:

I wrote recently that the 2020 campaign will only get filthier. In response to Speaker Pelosi’s comment that Trump is engaged in a cover-up with regard to the Mueller report, video of her statement has been digitally edited to make her look drunk and rambling* and this fake news version was helpfully put out on air by the Fox Business channel.

It’s also been posted online with, so far, 2 million views. Facebook and Twitter have made half-hearted attempts to takedown the video. No doubt many dumbfucks will not have the cognitive abilities to see what’s been done to the original, although it’s pretty crude. Or they’ll just think it’s hilarious.

Asked about it, Trump defended it, whining that she attacked him first. An opposition politician! And this is the cheesy sleazeburger with an emotional age of nine they’re inflicting on the 93-year-old Queen next week, officials desperately claiming “It’s not the man, it’s the office”?

*How to edit a video to make a person look drunk and rambling, Part One. First, cut it into little pieces and put it back together with little delays and overlaps and hiccups and repeats. Then you slow the voicetrack down by about 15%. We recommend you use FinalCutPro for a cleaner finish.

 

Bent crude

It’s axiomatic now that Trump’s actions stink of corruption and malpractise. To the point where, it seems, nobody cares. He hasn’t launched the nuclear missiles, like everyone feared. He’s derailing the economy, but the Obama momentum, a global recovery and a weak dollar are still keeping it going. Cuts in Medicare and tax increases on the middle-class have yet to kick in. He’s done many other horrible things, told endless lies, started a trade war and bust the budget, but so far they haven’t made a telling shot among his base. His chief propaganda mouthpiece, Brad Parscale (late of Cambridge Analytica) is Facebooking lies like a good ‘un.

And many people quite approve of the way he seems to be standing up to the hated politicians in Congress, even if it is to cover up his own crimes.

He continues to protest his innocence of the charges investigated by Mueller. It’s been two months now since his hand-picked Attorney General, a man who doesn’t think a sitting President can be indicted for anything, a man who has argued the Mueller investigation was illegitimate, released a three and a half page summary of a 488-page report, using Mueller’s inability or strange unwillingness to prosecute a sitting President for abuse of office as a pretext for claiming he totally exonerated Trump and his campaign, which he absolutely did not.

Mr Barr is again summonsed to testify before a Congressional Intelligence Committee, Thursday (23 May) and the media is waiting to see if he turns up, having refused to the last time and being held in contempt for it. Unfortunately, Congress has no powers of arrest outside the building itself.

The redacted report has been published, but few people have taken the time to read it. Those who have are convinced, despite the redactions, of the President’s guilt. The one Republican senator who read it and admitted openly that he was convinced of Trump’s guilt has been, as they say, sent to Coventry by his colleagues.

The vast majority of Americans however are left with just those three and a half carefully selected pages and a president who continues to tweet and whine and cry and boast that he’s a “stable genius” (yep, he said it again!) who has been cleared of all charges; and who has now said he will not co-operate on government legislation while the House is investigating him – a childish tantrum neither Nixon nor Clinton threw, even while impeachment hearings were going on.

What are the public supposed to think? The Justice Department continues to refuse to release the unredacted report, even to Congressmen and women with the highest security clearance.

Well, they could look at his behavior. Whining and blustering that he’s been proven innocent, Trump has continually attacked the investigation as illegitimate, the investigators as biased plotters – “traitors”, he’s calling them, in the best tradition of dictators the world over. He’s called for them to be investigated, and a supine Justice Department already convicted of lying to the House is complying.

And nobody seems to think that’s strange. If he was exonerated, what’s the problem? Why not release it all? But it’s just what he does. Look how he continues to claim Hillary Clinton rigged the 2016 election, even though he won it! Nothing must be allowed to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency, which he genuinely seems to believe in his paranoia and delusional narcissism will go down as the greatest in history; although he has achieved nothing but growing inequality and chaos.

Perhaps unwisely, Mueller left it to the Justice Department and Congress to make up their minds based on the mountain of evidence he uncovered, and is now curiously silent on the whole affair. Trump has continued to claim that, as he was exonerated, which he was not, there is no evidence of crimes; consequently further investigations and the judgement of Congress have no validity and must end – before, many assume, more dirt comes out.

And time is going by, with the 2020 elections approaching and the public growing bored and fractious and easily distracted by talk of war and an immigration crisis on the border, “collegegate” and the unsatisfactory conclusion of Game of Thrones.

The British government, equally in chaos amid similar accusations of divisiveness and abuse of the poor and immigrant, with the far-right poised to take control and Prime Minister May due to stand down as Conservative leader in total humiliation on 7 June, has dumped almost the entire State visit of the criminal Trump family, which she instigated, onto the shoulders of the extended royal family – a further “exoneration” Trump and his infinite propaganda machine will make maximum capital out of for the dumbfucks.

Now, congressional committees trying to investigate the findings of the report, as Mueller charged them to do, are themselves being shut down, either by lawsuits – all so far rejected in the courts – or by the simple expedient of the White House refusing to release information under subpoena, refusing to allow witnesses quoted in the Mueller report to give testimony about their evidence to Congress, daring the Democrats to impeach.

The main example is that of Don McGahn, former White House counsel, who gave over 30 hours of testimony in private to the Mueller team, but is now at risk of being charged with contempt of Congress, having failed to show up for a scheduled committee session under subpoena. Why? Well, it’s possibly to do with his law firm having $1.2 million worth of consultancy to the Republican party that’s going down the pan if he testifies.

Witness intimidation.

And, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8LI2-dCoro, Rachel Maddow discourses on the other main topic, that of the request by the House Oversight Committee to see Mr Trump’s tax returns.

The committee is empowered by a law of 1927 that is absolutely clear: if the chairman wishes to see anyone’s tax returns, the IRS is legally obliged to comply. But no, Trump is not of a mind to let anyone ferret through those, literally, thousands of pages detailing his financial activities over 7 years. A barrage of dubious legal objections has been put up to deny the committee’s clear and lawful request; Mr Trump having hired a separate legal team to fight on just this one issue.

And, it turns out, in Trumpworld there are massive and unexamined conflicts of interest between the top three officials at the IRS and their duty to the law. Three officials whose appointments were in the gift of the President, whose appointments were railroaded urgently through the Senate by the leader, “Cocaine” Mitch McConnell*, as the likelihood of impeachment drew nearer.

(Incidentally, the question remains, was Donald Trump at any time involved in the cocaine trade? Evidence suggests he may have been, but that’s yet another accusation that’s gone unresolved for years, as there’s just so much of this stuff going on that the legal system is totally underequipped and unable to deal with it all.)

Three officials, one of whom happens to be a partner in an accounting firm that used to work as tax advisors for Trump Organization. Another of whom just happened to write a legal opinion that while the IRS may be obliged to furnish tax returns to the committee of anyone in the country on demand, the law doesn’t apply to the President. He also happens to own several apartments in Trump condominiums.

The third, Stephen Mnuchin, is the Treasury Secretary. He’s a former longtime Goldman Sachs man, like several of Trump’s arslikhan cabinet of all the millionaires, draining the swamp, who profited from the 2007 crash by buying up the assets of busted banks and loan companies cheaply and foreclosing on all the debtors, including hundreds of families who lost their homes. According to Wikipedia:

“Mnuchin founded a hedge fund called Dune Capital Management, named for a spot near his house in The Hamptons, in 2004 with two former Goldman partners. After its founding, Mnuchin served as the CEO of the company. The firm invested in at least two Donald Trump projects, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Honolulu and its namesake in Chicago.”

Together, these profoundly conflicted appointees at the head of the country’s tax collection service form a formidable wall against intrusive inspections of their patron’s financial affairs, even as they may be mandated by law and unbroken precedent.

But, you know, given Trump’s nature, it may just be that his tax returns will show nothing amiss. It’s possible that he’s just preternaturally averse to being investigated. Or that he’s happy to create a diversion by getting the media to focus obsessively on his taxes and ignore how he makes money illegally outside of the tax system altogether.

 

*Where does the nickname “Cocaine Mitch” come from? Apparently, from a debunked story involving his wife’s Chinese family; although financial journalist and veteran Trumphound, David Cay Johnson, has written that there is substantial circumstantial evidence linking Donald Trump with the Columbian cocaine trade in the 1980s.

But apparently, McConnell is willing to leave no turd unstoned when it comes to re-election, and is milking the monicker for all he’s worth. He has already raised $70 thousand from sales of Vote for “Cocaine Mitch” T-shirts. As website FastCompany.com reports:

“It’s exactly the kind of trolling nihilism you can expect from the man who obstinately opposed the Obama administration at every turn and now frequently calls Democrats who don’t accede to Trump’s agenda ‘obstructionists.’ Cocaine is hilarious, trolling is politics, nothing matters, who cares?”

 

Trump has ordered US farmers to be compensated for losses caused by China imposing retaliatory tariffs against the tariffs he’s imposed on China, blaming China for deliberate aggression against US farmers. The cost to the US taxpayer: $12 billion. Experts believe the soybean trade may never recover.

 

The Man Who Would be King

The Guardian is reporting on video evidence of meetings between Nigel Farage and Steve Bannon, in which the two men discuss the possibility of forming a “global alliance” of some of the most terrible men on the planet “to combat globalism”.

It would be funny if it weren’t so horrific. “Fake news”, if the possibility exists that The Guardian does not check its sources carefully. But after luring Mr Bannon to a private entrance at the Ritz Hotel in London, presumably because the doorman wouldn’t have let an Islamophobic nihilist looking like a dishevelled drunk into the foyer, the conversation with Farage is all apparently there on tape, in the form of out-takes from a new fly-on-the-wall (more like “flies-on-a-turd”) documentary about Bannon, The Brink, to air here in July.

Among those great leaders they thought it would be a nice idea to involve in their little plot to rule the frazzled earth are the self-admitted murderer, Duterte of the Philippines, on whose say-so thousands of presumed “drug dealers” – mostly harmless addicts – have been exterminated by police death squads, and who speaks openly and pleasantly of raping women.

Indian “strongman” – actually he’s just an elderly peasant buoyed up by heat-crazed Hindu nationalists and appears to The Pumpkin from a distance to be a quite profoundly stupid man – Narendra Modi is on the list, as is the authoritarian Hungarian PM, Viktor Orban, ruthless exploiter of any passing populist issue and slayer of NGOs. Egypt, too, was mentioned – see below.

Amusingly, Farage is on tape telling Bannon he finds Boris Johnson too lightweight and incapable of concentrating on anything for more than a few seconds. This, from the pathetic Trumpsucker photographed in the Golden Elevator, adoring inches away from that other adulterous, overweight, tow-headed scamp who practically invented ADHD.

(In case you objected to my use of the word “turd” earlier, I should mention that this global conspiracy of White-is-Rightists was known appropriately as The Movement.)

Apparently The Movement has been abandoned, as the funding mechanism wasn’t quite meeting internationally accepted rules, while Farage’s instant pop-up Brexit party, the No Deal, anti-EU party leading in the polls for tomorrow’s EU elections, is being investigated for accepting illegal foreign donations.

Taking a leaf out of Trump’s “Quick, smear anyone you think may be a threat!” playbook, Farage has been quick to dismiss the Electoral Commission without the slightest evidence as a bunch of Remainers. The worst insult he can imagine! It might even work with his Brexit party dumbfucks, 5,000 of whose jobs at British Steel in 70% Leave-voting Scunthorpe are imminently threatened by Brexit contractions.

Let’s hope it doesn’t end there, and that these deluded voters finally understand what an unreconstructed fascist this deeply unpleasant, richer-than-he-pretends-to-be, “Man o’ the People” is.

From supporting removal of workers’ rights, to cynical climate-change minimization, to privatisation of the NHS, Farage is not at all what his fans think he is. Or maybe he is, I don’t know. Anyway, being “different” is not a reason to vote for someone who has no plan to do you any good whatsoever.

And how “different” is he? Most if not all of the dead white men in the Tories’ factional European Research Group share his 1950s golf-club-bore views; as do, apparently, the elderly lads and Thatcherized mineworkers of northern working men’s clubs.

Miserable old farts, our beer glasses are empty, but our time has come to screw the rest of you.

 

A filthy, murderous little regime

“Ahmed Saddouma will face his final hearing on 8 June for a crime he could not have committed. He was only 17 years old when he was abducted from his bed in the middle of the night by the Egyptian authorities. He was tortured for three months until he ‘confessed’ to a crime that took place 21 days after his arrest. He was sentenced to death in a mass trial of 30 people, where he could not present a defence.”

Thus the content of an email from Reprieve, the NGO that campaigns worldwide against the gross injustice of the death penalty, especially where no defence case is admitted.*

The filthy, murderous regime of General al-Sissi grows more barbarous with each passing day. As it has the courts in its pocket, a policy of torture and the vast financial and military resources of the United States of Ismerica to underpin it, the regime easily passes the bar of fascism.

Fascism is when the State, for its own ends and those of its partners in business, the military and the religious establishment combined, empowers its ordinary citizens to unleash their frustration, their brutality, what Hannah Arendt called the banality of evil, on the chosen Other: in this case, members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an invented enemy.

How bitterly must those who took part in the Arab Spring revolution that overthrew the last oppressive dictator of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, be regretting their failure to properly organize and to coalesce around clear ideals and objectives, allowing this strutting, pockmarked little shit to take over and impose the most astonishing brutality on his people; with almost daily judicial massacres of his perceived “opponents”.

The “strongman” view of history is littered with such examples, of lawless, power-crazed thugs – generally ugly little men of reduced stature and stunted intellect but infinite low cunning – riding to power on the credulity of the mob and the seemingly endless willingness of followers to hide inside a uniform and commit unbridled acts of violence against even those fellow citizens who would hope to improve their lives too.

I signed the petition, but without optimism. Theresa May is not going to intervene, she may not even be in office tomorrow. How many more Ahmed Saddoumas will hang before justice and moderation and good governance are restored to the world?

It will never happen in our lifetimes. We are descending into a barbarism not seen since the 1930s, that will undoubtedly end with the collapse of the socio-economic order as the planet rapidly heats beyond bearing.

*And just watch sales of Amazon’s new face recognition app to oppressive regimes like Egypt’s.

 

GW: Water, water everywhere – except where there’s drought

USA: Heavy snow is reported in Denver, Colorado; major flooding is forecast for the northeast, more storms for Texas; while in Georgia, temperatures are approaching 37C, 98F.

A dangerous storm system in South and Midwest USA has produced dozens of tornadoes, strong winds, hail and heavy rain since Monday 20 May. Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri have all been affected, with major flooding reported in parts of Oklahoma and Missouri. 2 people died in a vehicle accident. Heavy rain is expected to increase river levels, many of which have been high since March this year. More storms are forecast throughout the week. As of 22 May, rivers were above flood stage in 370 locations across the South and Midwest. (Floodlist)

Update, 25 May: A large and violent tornado has left at least 3 people dead in Missouri as torrid weather continues to pummel parts of America’s midwest. A series of devastating storms hit the area on Wednesday night (22 May) leading to multiple tornadoes. The region has already endured days of torrential rain and flooding.

All 3 fatalities were in Golden City. Another tornado carved a 3-mile swathe of destruction through the state capital, Jefferson City (where people are thought to be trapped under rubble). It brought the death toll from Midwest twisters this week to 7. (BBC Weather)

Drought and unseasonally warm temperatures in Canada have brought two massive uncontained wildfires to northern Alberta in an early start to the season (BBC). 5,000 residents have been evacuated from the path of the Chuckegg Creek wildfire, which is burning out of control and has already consumed 200 thousand acres. The High Level fire has been prevented from reaching the town but has burned 100,000 sq km of forest. (CNN/Global)

Japan: as Trump arrives to play golf with Abe, the Japan Times reports, “Unseasonably hot conditions gripped wide areas of Japan on Sunday, with the town of Saroma setting the highest temperature ever recorded in the country for the month of May. The mercury hit 39.5 degrees in the northeastern coastal Hokkaido town. (26 May). Strangely, although the earthquake that shook Tokyo an hour before Airforce One touched down gets a mention, mainstream media is making no mention of the heatwave.

Germany: “Storm Axel” brought heavy rain, strong winds and thunderstorms to parts of Germany between 20 and 22 May. Several states were affected by flooding. Some areas of Bavaria recorded over 250mm of rain in 48 hours. I person is known to have died. Rail travel was disrupted. (Floodlist) The storms are moving away across Georgia into Russia (Severe-weather.eu)

Turkey: Over 30 buildings have been destroyed or severely damaged by a landslide in Aybasti district in the Black Sea province of Ordu. The area had been affected by an earlier landslide in February. It’s thought recent heavy rainfall in the area triggered a second landslide on 15 May. Over 80 homes have been evacuated. (Floodlist)

Mali: At least 14 people have died in flash flooding that hit the country’s capital, Bamako, on 16 May. The flooding struck after a sudden torrential downpour that lasted several hours. Flood water was up to 2.5 metres deep. At least 1 person has died in flash flooding in southern Ghana after a downpour lasting around 2 hours on 15 May. It’s one of several spates of flash flooding to affect the country since March this year. At least 12 people died in the capital Accra in early April. (Floodlist) In Guinea, 5 people died when drains in the capital, Conakry, blocked with years of garbage, backed up during a heavy rainstorm. (from: Floodlist)

Korea: North Korea is suffering its worst drought in 37 years (when tens of thousands starved to death) and has called on its citizens to “battle” against the crop damage. It comes after the UN said that up to 10 million North Koreans were “in urgent need of food assistance”. State TV however is showing images of lush crops and flowing streams. So it must be bad.

UK: As Sheffield council contractors continue to hack away at the city’s remaining mature trees, protected from elderly protestors by the police and courts, “more than 130,000 trees are to be planted in English towns and cities over the next two years as part of the nation’s battle against global heating”. Previous tree-planting programs are way off schedule. Environment secretary, Michael Gove has announced that grants for the plantings will be made available through the Urban Tree Challenge Fund. Researchers have determined from lake sediments that flooding twice in the past 10 years in Cumbria was the heaviest for over 550 years – as far back as they can go. (Guardian Green Light)

Tunnel approaching….

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser, largest in the park, went off on 21 May for the 17th time this year, on course to beat last year’s record 32 eruptions. Normal activity is 2 or 3 a year. A huge, very deep M8.0 earthquake in Peru on Sunday 26 May (1 dead, a dozen injured, buildings brought down) seems to have produced a responding M4.2 quake in Utah, near the caldera. (Mary Greeley) Was the M5.0, 48 miles south of Tokyo, also related?

 

Did Hitler win after all?… And whither the UK?… GW: Pick me up, put me down, spin me round and round…

“New technology should not be banned or condemned because of its potential misuse.”

– Amazon’s philosophy, regarding its sales of a facial recognition app to the Surveillance State.

 

As people old enough to remember life under Nazi occupation die off, younger generations feel no connection with the 1930s and ’40s, no sense of alarm.

Did Hitler win after all?

The most astonishing abuses of local government and state powers across what used to be the more civilized, welcoming and moderate countries in Europe are revealed today in a major report from Open Democracy.

What is your reaction, for instance, to the news that a 71-year-old woman in France was arrested, held in a cell for 24 hours, charged with people trafficking and CONVICTED after stopping her car and giving a lift to a weary mother and her child on the road from Nice to Antibes? Oh, because the passengers happened to be undocumented African migrants.

Or that, in Greece, the cradle of modern civilization, ha-ha, a retired German couple were sentenced to 16 YEARS in prison after they stopped their boat to rescue some refugees? Mercifully the sentence was reduced on appeal to just 3.5 YEARS.

Or that a British volunteer, Tom Ciotkowski, 30, is facing up to 5 YEARS in jail in France, merely for filming another volunteer at the Jungle camp in Calais being pushed to the ground and kicked by police, the criminal charges being “contempt” (of the police? You have to be kidding, monsieur!) and “showing solidarity” with illegal immigrants?

Hundreds of people ranging from Christian pastors and elderly academics to journalists, charity volunteers and even firemen are being harrassed and detained by immigration and law enforcement – I won’t call them officers, they’re just goons, hired thugs in it for the joy of exercising their own base brutality, the sexual thrill of wearing the uniform and the celebration of hate-filled ignorance – for helping the helpless. Laws are being passed, that are in direct opposition to years-old United Nations conventions.

In Hungary, under the autocrat Orban, it’s now a criminal offence even for lawyers to advise immigrants and refugees of their legal rights – of which, it seems, they no longer have any. In Greece and Italy, people have been arrested just for having phone contact with migrant support groups. A team of Spanish firefighters who went to Lesbos as volunteers to help with search and recovery operations were arrested, threatened with up to 10 years in gaol, heavily fined and themselves deported.

Simple acts of Christian charity and compassion are being criminalised as a wave of enthusiastic, racially-based proto-fascism sweeps across a continent deprived of aspiration by a ruling coterie of neoliberal meritocrats. This is not something confined to “far off countries of which we know little”. The editor of Marie Claire magazine in Belgium was charged with people smuggling after feeding and giving clothes to a Sudanese teenager hoping to get to the UK. She was subsequently acquitted, but the signal had been sent, in a small, recently invented country with a history of the worst colonial human rights abuses of all:

No more brown people.

And here, too, thanks to the sociopathic vicar’s daughter Theresa May, and her “hostile environment” policy, no kindness or act of caring will go unpunished. The Guardian reported (29 April, 2019):

“A man who brought his (7-month-old) baby niece to Britain in the back of his car from a French refugee camp after she suffered serious burns is facing deportation from the UK on Tuesday. Najat Ibrahim Ismail, 35, an Iraqi Kurd with a British wife and three young British children, was prosecuted for trafficking.”

His deportation flight was halted on the runway after a public outcry, even the judge who gave him that critical 12-month sentence (it’s the automatic deportation cutoff point) accepted he hadn’t been trafficking, but he is still under threat of being separated from his British family and sent back to God knows what; having been admitted in the first place only because he’d been tortured in his own country – a country which, incidentally, we invented, depriving his people of their own statehood.

This is what now passes for British justice, that we can’t even tolerate compassion towards babies while denying our guilt for creating this situation in the first place.

The BogPo has argued before, the UK Home Office is not fit for purpose. Clumsy, cynical, expensive, illegal and too often lethal mistakes are being made now on an almost daily basis in its Immigration department. Thousands of people – not only brown people, but legally settled white EU citizens – are having their lives turned upside down and their rights trashed by harsh and often incorrect decisions, seemingly made by overworked, harrassed and incompetent officials.

No-one will convince me this chaos is accidental. With the financial support of foreign disruptors, it is being promoted by political chancers like Johnson and Farage. The nightmare is, millions of voters support them – not because they are good leaders with policies that will make life better for millions, but because they are celebrities, entertainers one step removed from standup comedians “as-seen on TV!”.

As with Trump, the dumbfucks don’t care whatever else he does, fiddles his taxes, endlessly lies about everything, tears up treaties, abuses the powers of his office to obstruct justice and line his pockets, pardons racists and pedophiles and persecutes “foreigners”, they merely see him as “different” and hang on his every garbled word, because he had a third-rate TV show where he was encouraged to play the part of a successful billionaire, the embodiment of the American dream; and because he promised them an American “earth” he knew he couldn’t possibly deliver.

Well, without wishing to make a direct comparison, Adolf Hitler was “different” too. It takes a huge inversion of logic to vote for someone who so clearly doesn’t have your best interests at heart, merely because they’re not the people you voted for last time, whom you are easily persuaded (without a great deal of knowledge of the facts) haven’t served you very well. And they probably haven’t, but is a total phony like Nigel Farage going to do better?

A filthy cloak of barbarism is descending over Europe once again. As people old enough to remember life under Nazi occupation and the vast sacrifice it took to end it die off, younger generations feel no connection with the 1930s and ’40s, no sense of alarm.

They see no parallels between the street-scumbag rhetoric, say, of a Matteo Salvini, Pretty-boy Wilders or Jorg Heider; even of that self-pitying criminal midget calling himself “Tommy Robinson”, and the parade of squalid villains of the murderous decades of fascist regimes founded on licensed brutalities and a too-easily manufactured hatred of The Other.

If you support any of this, just answer me one question.

Why?

Why are you so willing to be taken advantage of, again?*

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/hundreds-of-europeans-criminalised-for-helping-migrants-new-data-shows-as-far-right-aims-to-win-big-in-european-elections/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=25b6e86974-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-25b6e86974-408090269

*Actually, there’s no need to answer that. The fascination of fascism is not the obvious lie that it will “end corruption” – it is the very essence of corruption – and make everyone great again, as if they were ever great in the past – but that it puts a malign power directly into the hands of those who are most willing to wield it against their fellow men.

It’s the religion of psychopathy.

 

And whither the UK?

What will Britain do if America decides to bomb or invade Iran, merely to fulfil a 20-year ambition on the part of the “retread neoconservative”, the insane Irish war hawk (who has never served in anything more impressive or risky than the National Guard) John Bolton, and possibly bolster Trump’s re-election prospects by being seen to take tough action against an imaginary threat, although polls show another foreign war is not yet supported by his dumbfucks?

Well, the Tories always do well out of wars, and pathetic Labour are invariably split over whether to support them or to risk the opprobrium of the Daily Mail.

Anyway, I fear we have the answer. From a Guardian/Observer piece by Simon Tisdall, 19 May:

“Memories of the Iraq fiasco may have influenced Major-General Chris Ghika, the British deputy commander of the coalition against Isis, when he was asked about the American claims last week. “There’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” he said. Since Ghika is based in Baghdad, he might be expected to know best.

“That did not stop the Pentagon issuing an extraordinary rebuttal, saying the general’s comments “run counter to the identified credible threats”. In another echo of Iraq, the British government caved in to US pressure and disowned Ghika the following day, saying that it fully agreed with Washington’s threat-level assessment.”

Lies, lies, and more fucking lies. We’re always taken to war by tiny people: failed politicians on the backs of lies. Even the Pentagon doesn’t agree with these phony security assessments, but who are they to know better than the trio of feral hacks who have seized power in Washington, and who only have the template of the successful 2003 invasion of Iraq to guide them into another murderous 15-year-long debacle on behalf of Raytheon, Boeing and the US arms industry?

Christ, what a bunch of evil fuckers the Trump crew are. Who in God’s name is letting them get away with this crazy shit?

Meanwhile, world oil prices are rising rapidly as a result of American belligerence towards Iran, Venezuela and Libya. OPEC countries are delighted, as US overproduction had depressed prices and was causing economic damage to producers like Saudi Barbaria, who need a higher price to balance their budget. Mr Trump will not be happy, as he has assured his dumbfucks of permanent cheap gasoline to fuel their SUVs. On the other hand, whose fault is it? He knows nothing whatever about the economics of trade, and will not be told.

“As one British minister said this week, ‘The risk of this proving unmanageable and blowing up in our faces is growing'” (The Guardian, 19 May).

 

The daily average CO₂ level recorded by NOAA at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, on May 15, 2019, was 415.64 ppm, with some hourly measurements over 417 ppm. It’s been climbing during the month and may well exceed 420 ppm by next spring. Super-greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide (N20) are giving even more cause for concern. Arctic sea ice was at a record mid-April low extent, with virtually no ‘old ice’ more than 2 years old left, indicating rapid thinning. (edited from Arctic News)

April 2019 globally was the second warmest on record (NOAA).

GW: Pick me up, put me down, spin me round and round

USA: In what The Weather Channel‘s Bob Henson reports is a “highly unusual for late May”, volatile situation, the chain of violent supercell storms that has plagued the southwestern states from Texas up into the Great Lakes almost weekly for the past three months and created the worst flooding since 1927 shows no sign of stopping. More than 40 powerful tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska yesterday, staff at a tornado warning center had to take refuge in the basement as one formed right over their office. And the forecast for tomorrow, Monday 20 May, is worse, with very strong winds a feature!

“A powerful squall line continued to wreak havoc as it moved into Missouri and Arkansas on Saturday afternoon and evening. High winds and heavy rains will be the main threat, but hail and tornadoes are possible. Severe weather should be more muted on Sunday, but bands of storms capable of severe wind and hail will rumble from the Mississippi Valley up to Michigan and across to western Pennsylvania and New York by evening.” Flood warnings too: up to another 6-in. of rain is forecast on already saturated ground.

New York state governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency in 8 counties and put the National Guard on standby as the water level of Lake Ontario edges within millimetres of an all-time high. (The Weather Channel)

Meanwhile, with a fortnight to go before the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, one may be forming east of the Bahamas. “As of Saturday, odds were close to 50-50 for development next week of each of a pair of tropical cyclones, one in the Atlantic and the other in the Eastern Pacific (off the coast of Mexico).”

Tuesday 21 May: The Atlantic tropical storm now has a name, Andrea, but it’s heading into cooler waters and with strong wind shear is expected to dissipate. It’s set a record however for the number of named storms to form before the official start to the season. All in the past 5 years…. (The Weather Channel).

Paraguay: 16 people are feared drowned after extensive flooding covered large areas of the country. Over 60 thousand families have been affected and the Paraguay River stands almost two meters above its critical level. 700 people have been evacuated in Argentina, where over 600 thousand Ha of crops have been lost to floods. (Floodlist)

Europe: States of emergency have been declared in Bosnia and Croatia after storm-force winds and torrential rain caused extensive damage and rivers to reach red alert levels. “Houses and crops have been damaged in affected areas, and power and water supply severely disrupted. Flooding and landslides have blocked several roads and some schools have been closed.” At least 1 person, a child, is feared drowned. The city of Banja Luca received 111mm of rain in a 48 hour period. Heavy rain in northern Italy over the last few days has caused rivers to break their banks and reactivated a landslide in the Veneto region. (Floodlist) More severe storms and high winds are forecast for southeastern and eastern Europe over the coming days. (Severe-weather.eu)

UK: Overnight rain has helped firefighters to to dampen down two wildfires that have destroyed thousands of acres of moorland in Scotland. A woman has been arrested in connection with a large fire on Ilkley Moor, in Yorkshire. Otherwise where your old Granny is, it’s all still unusually agreeable.

Antarctica: A major study of 20 years of satellite data has shown that the Antarctic glaciers are thinning five times as fast as was thought. In places, over 100 metres of ice thickness has been lost, with melting extending up to 300 miles inland. A report in Guardian Green Light quotes the research team: “A complete loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet would drive global sea levels up by about 5 metres, drowning coastal cities around the world. The current losses are doubling every decade and sea level rise is running at the extreme end of projections made just a few years ago.”

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 85: Does anyone still imagine the American republic is a democracy?… Does anyone still imagine the United Kingdom is a democracy?… Gay abandoned…GW: all a bit topsy-turvey if you ask me

Ed Note: Things may slow down on the old BogPo express over the next two weeks as I shall be busy earning my annual train fare to France. I’m continuing to edit and add to this issue for now.

UB

“Who’d have thought going on the Jeremy Kyle Show would lead to this?” (Photo: Michael McGurk, Brirish Press Awards. With apologies!)

According to New York city officials, the president’s eight largest New York properties pump out around 27,000 tons of planet-warming gases every year, the equivalent of 5,800 cars. If no remedial measures are taken, by 2030 Trump’s kids will be paying over $2 million a year in fines. (from Guardian)

The old fraud won’t be around, of course. And good riddance, he should be buried at Fresh Kills (the city rubbish dump.) His vicious policy of confiscating people’s children at the Mexican border and farming them out to abusers having largely failed, the latest wheeze being quietly implemented by the Department for Housing is to separate migrant families living in subsidized housing.

“HUD acknowledged the Trump administration could displace more than 55,000 children if plans to evict undocumented immigrants from public housing is (sic) successful.” (Guardian)

The rule to date has been that at least one member of a household in which migrants are living must be properly documented. The new rule, which the media is attributing to Trump’s dead-eyed college vampire, Stephen Miller,  is that if even one undocumented migrant is living in subsidized housing, the entire household – usually a family – has to get out. (Undocumented does not always mean illegal, by the way. Applications and appeals could be pending.) That includes children….

Trump spent the minimum amount of time he could with his various families, rarely if ever interacting with his four (known) children. He clearly hates families – his own parents were aloof and hypercritical – and has no family values to speak of. He is a genuine sociopath without empathy or understanding. What a fascinating character!

Psychology students will be crafting their PhD theses on this piece of shit for a long time to come.

 

Does anyone still imagine the American republic is a democracy?

Last week, claiming “security concerns”, the White House revoked the access credentials of more than 50 press correspondents, including all six of the passes issued to the deeply hated Washington Post. There are to be no more of the old, anodyne, ritually structured encounters in the briefing room, where the fake-tanned, abusive President can tell the assembled media that they are “very rude” and “fake news” when they presume to ask him questions.

“Exceptions” are being individually approved now by the chief spokesbitch, sweaty Sarah (“Ah’m a Christian!”) Huckabee Sanders, but only, it seems, in the case of correspondents with no history of criticizing the President. Sit-down classroom-style briefings have been abandoned in favor of informal “gaggles” to be held outside on the driveway, and only then to pre-registered attenders. (See various reports collated on the Mike Malloy channel) When it rains, expect no news.

There is henceforth to be no independent in-house press oversight or hostile questioning of the President, ending a decades-old and perhaps too cosy relationship between the White House and its tame Press Corps. It’s a situation Trump has also tried to impose on the Congress, invoking a bogus “executive privilege” to bar anyone connected with his administration from giving testimony to any of the five congressional committees investigating his egregious conduct, and refusing to accept legally enforceable subpoenas.

The United States has effectively been taken over by a criminal gang locked in tight formation around a pretend mafia-boss who knows he has been outed as a felonious obstructor of justice and abuser of office by the Mueller investigation; knows too, that he faces at least 16 further criminal investigations for fraud and money-laundering in the Southern District of New York, and who is determined to distort and suppress the truth by any means.

Back in the blood-caked hands of the Project for the American 21st Century, the regime is hurriedly manufacturing a case to begin bombing another invented enemy, Iran. Having dispatched a carrier group and B-52s to the Arabian Gulf, “Security” adviser John Bolton has followed it up with a specialist cruise-missile launcher, and has called for 120 thousand troops to be put on readiness. The Washington Post acknowledges that Trump is not so interested in invading Iran, but has given Bolton his head. This cowardly mad old backseat neocon fucker needs to be institutionalized, and quickly.

Writing in The New Yorker, however, Susan Glasser speculates that Trump is rapidly tiring of Bolton’s tub-thumping – especially as Candidate Trump promised on the campaign trail no more American adventures, and he likes to keep his promises – mad and reckless as many were: “Amazingly enough, we are now at a moment in the Trump Presidency when the capricious President himself is being touted as the possible constraint on hawkish advisers like Bolton.” The danger is not past, however: “I wouldn’t discount the chance that a series of mistakes could lead to a conflict that Trump himself doesn’t want.”

Two sabotage “attacks” on Saudi oil tankers and the apparent rocketing from drones of Saudi pipelines are already being blamed on Iran. None did the “significant damage” being claimed, which seems significant in itself. Iran has condemned them. And who, given the tinder-dry political situation and Bolton’s long-held determination to kick-off a war, is more likely to have carried them out, the Quds force of the Revolutionary Guard or US/Saudi black ops forces?

Meantime, we are learning of a “secret” financial connection between Qatar and Trump’s plastic son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Actually we’ve known about it for months, but strong suspicion is not knowing. What we saw was that soon after Trump’s 2017 visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia persuaded the UAE to join in an economic blockade of Qatar that ended happily just days after a Canadian asset-management company agreed to take a 99-year lease on 666, 5th Avenue – a disastrous loss-making 2007 development for Kushner Companies – “paying a near-century’s worth of rent upfront”. (Vanity Fair)

Brookfield Asset Management is a well-funded arm of the Qatari sovereign wealth fund’s investment division, and although the fund is claiming to be bewildered and unhappy that such a deal should have been brokered, if it ever was, the money arrived fortuitously just in time to forestall what might have turned into a massive $billion debt default against Kushner Companies and their gargantuan New York white elephant.

(http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/02/qatar-666-5th-ave-jared-kushner)

And it was apparently Jared’s criminal father, Charlie Kushner, who was behind the deal; favorite son Jared being too witless and inexperienced, basically, to be the real brains behind Kushner Companies, while time-served fraudster and witness-intimidator Charlie is barred technically from running the business.

So we can see that the Trump regime is not above getting down and dirty to suborn US foreign policy for the benefit of the President’s criminal associates. We know the regime owes bin-Salman one for that. And that Saudi Arabia and Israel would both like the US to lead on regime-change in Iran. An Iraq-style invasion however seems unlikely before November as summer temperatures in the region are regularly starting to exceed 50 deg. C, making fighting on the ground pretty nearly impossible.

Unless they want to see their capital cities going up in smoke, beleaguered and deeply unpopular centrist European politicians like May and Macron must not be tempted to rush to join Trump and his satraps Bolton and Pompeo in some unholy war against what he calls “the ayatollahs” of Tehran – no filthier or more murderous and corrupt a theocracy than that of Riyadh or Tel Aviv; Moscow, Manila or indeed, Washington.

The lessons of Iraq must be learned.

There must be no collusion with this profoundly corrupt President and his narcissistic, dictatorial ambitions.

But I fear there will be.

 

The Pumpkin confesses:

In the middle of “Years and Years”, former Dr Who-tsar Russell Davies’ latest near-term futuristic family-saga drama on TV, a newsflash pops up, proclaiming “Trump wins second term in office”.

Instantly, I burst into floods of tears, beating my head on the keyboard, loudly moaning “no, please, no!”.

I blame the wine.

The misery is compounded (spoiler alert) when, in the final days of his second term, Trump nukes an island in the South China Sea. Okay, there are episodes to follow, so it might not escalate too badly.

But I’m not sure I might not have to spend more of these lighter evenings out, doing something. Anything.

 

Tickety-boo

“Clarance Jones of Lynn, Massachusetts, the nation’s most frequent winner, claimed more than 7,300 tickets worth $600 or more in only six years. Jones would have had to spend at least $300 million to have a 1-in-10 million chance of winning so often, according to a statistician at the University of California, Berkeley.”

The Columbia Journalism Review bombarded several co-operative states with FOI requests to obtain data on unusually frequent lottery winners and concluded that many claimants were acting as proxies for the real ticket-holders , who didn’t want their creditors or the tax authorities finding out.

It’s a living, I suppose.

 

Does anyone still imagine the United Kingdom is a democracy?

Threatened by a feeble suggestion that accusing a certain Mr Richard Cook of breaches of electoral law in channelling money to Be.Leave and other dodgy pro-Brexit causes in advance of the referendum is “basically defamatory” (whatever status “basically” has in law!), having already rapped the main Vote.Leave campaign on the wrist for overspending its allowed budget, the supine and toothless watchdog, the Electoral Commission, is refusing to investigate further evidence of fraud, saying it wouldn’t be in the public interest.

Just what the hell is in the public interest, if Brexit was bought with illegal donations from unregistered and possibly foreign parties? Well, astonishingly, the Electoral Commission is not sure if buying votes with the illegal proceeds of crime is actually unlawful.

So much for democracy.

Anyone who like your Uncle Bogler delights in poking a stick at the dimmer elements of the Commentariat on, for instance, The Guardian‘s website, will be familiar with the cry that invariably goes up from despondent and truculent majoritarian Leave voters when you ask what on earth they thought they were voting for: “You Remainers don’t respect democracy!”

Well, no, we don’t respect criminals who steal our democracy, as they clearly did, with or without the knowing participation of certain ambitious politicians who have nothing whatever to offer the British voter, other than the prospect of imposing on us their corrupt brand of unenlightened self-interest for years to come.

At the heart of the conspiracy is the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland – the bunch of ten knuckle-dragging Protestant gargoyles on whom Theresa May thought she could rely for extra votes in the Commons in return for a billion-pound bribe from the British taxpayer, and then found to her cost that she couldn’t.

(We should perhaps remember that the bulk of the DUP’s possibly illegal campaign contribution was spent on advertising in Northern Ireland and in London, both areas that voted solidly Remain; and for unspecified services on a Canadian data analytics company, Aggregate QI, linked with Cambridge Analytica and the Mercers, father and daughter – the secretive billionaires who bankrolled Trump’s election victory and put Steve Bannon into the White House. But as the DUP continues to refuse to reveal the source of the donation, we can only speculate.)

And Cook, who he? A reticent former Tory party candidate with unexpected sources of funding – a business partner at one time was the former Saudi chief of intelligence – who has, basically, allegedly dabbled in some rather sticky business – illegal waste dumping, money-laundering and illegal arms shipments being among the activities mentioned in certain press quarters. (See previous Posts)

According to Open Democracy:

“The bulk of the DUP’s massive Brexit donation was spent on a wraparound advert in the Metro newspaper just days before the European Union referendum. Spotlight (Antifa) journalists discovered that the advert, costing £282,000, had been booked directly by Richard Cook, not the DUP.”

The Electoral Commission, however, has argued that it cannot go further to expose the illegal “dark money” donation as they themselves can find “no evidence” that Cook booked the advertisement. (Asking Metro might produce some information?) And in the light of investigations by OpenDemocracy.org into a Madrid-based conduit for US “dark-money” donations to Vox and other far-right European parties, MPs have called on the Electoral Commission to look afresh at possible further breaches of electoral law by Vote Leave, so far without success.

The embarrassing inertia – call it incompetence rather than corruption – of our legal institutions threatens to undermine any further possibility that a historic wrong can be righted at the last minute. The government has no interest whatever in pursuing criminal investigations until it can declare that it has fulfilled the deeply suspect mandate given it by “the will of the People” to wreck the country and very probably break up the Union.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/dark-money-investigations/not-in-the-public-interest-why-the-electoral-commission-didnt-investigate-vote-leave-and-dup-donation/ Baed on reporting by Jenna Corderoy and Peter Geoghan.

 

Gay abandon

A few years ago now, Fox News was enlivened by exchanges between the fat, sweaty Trumpsucker and rack-rent landlord, Sean Hannity and our very own, the late-lamented Christopher Hitchens, last and bravest of the public intellectuals, who had dared to write rude things about the recently deceased “Reverend” Jerry Falwell, a hugely wealthy and hypocritical, corrupt Tele-vangelist currently roasting for Eternity down below.

Some speculation now surrounds his son, Jerry Falwell Jr (so up their own fundaments are these fundamentalists, that they insist on perpetuating their holy egos in the names of their offspring). It’s being whispered that the married minister of the bogus church had an affair with the household’s handsome young “pool attendant” (Blessed are the poor… etc.)

And that having taken him into their home, a well-chiselled 21-year-old they met at a hotel, the rabid homophobe Falwell “invested” $1.8 million in a “business venture” of this Adonis, Carlo Grande, which turns out to have been a gay party venue, or “flophouse” as it’s been described in the Washington Post.

Which takes us back to President Trump (it still sticks in the craw) and his former lieutenant, rough-edged “fixer” and part-time legal advisor, Michael Cohen, who started his three-year prison sentence last week for obeying Trump’s orders to “fix” some of the President’s own indiscretions using campaign funds, and then lying for him. (The President remains at liberty, of course.)

In a splurge of late confessions, Cohen has alleged that Falwell employed him in 2015, at Trump’s suggestion, to also “fix” a cache of exceedingly embarrassing photographs he wanted to make go away. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC reported on the Post story last week, that after bullying them out of the possession of the unnamed blackmailer, Cohen had managed to hang on to one particularly damning image as insurance.

Presumably it’s now in the hands of the FBI.

Falwell, meanwhile, had popped up at several of Trump’s campaign rallies, literally comparing the Orange Tax-dodger and chief pussy-grabber to Holy Jesus and exhorting his evangelical dumbfucks on Biblical authority to vote for the new Messiah. Interviewed in the Post, he described Trump as “pretty much perfect”, acknowledging that he might have sinned from time to time (yes, whose was that by-blow Trump’s pal Elliot Broidy had aborted and paid $1.8 million to the Playboy model to stay stum?), but that it was his policies, not his character that really recommended him to Christian voters.

Odd, says the Americans United website, since his father had once described his ideal occupant of the White House as someone who would say: “As long as I am President, I shall lead this country in the ways of Christ as set forth in this book, God’s Holy Word. I would vote for the president who would take a bold, uncompromising stand against sin – SIN – and tell us what he believes it is.”

The question must obviously be, why would F. Jr turn so suddenly and completely against the idiotic precepts of his insanely corrupt and uber-wealthy dad, F. Sr, buoyed up by the contributions of his poorest parishioners in hopes of admission to Heaven, in order to announce the Second Coming of Christ in the bloated and unlikely shape of the decidedly un-christian and unethical serial adulterer and swindler, Trump?

And when can we expect a suitably painful Crucifixion?

We should be told.

 

One law for the poor

US actress Felicity Huffman has pleaded guilty to fraudulently conspiring to win a college place for her daughter. Prosecutors have recommended a four-month prison term and a $20,000 fine. Huffman, 56, was among 50 charged in the college admissions scandal. (BBC News)

According to a recent biography by US-naturalized Brit journalist Katy Ward, “Kushner Inc.”, Charlie Kushner made a $2.5 million donation to Harvard shortly before his educationally substandard plastic-toy-boy favorite younger son, Jared, was admitted over a number of more promising but less wealthy students.

Are these cheating, rack-renting bastards going to jail for it?

Doesn’t look like it. Jared is the President’s son-in-law. Although he’s no longer quite such a trusted White House advisor, in fact Orange Dad has been hoping to find a way to get rid of him. This pay-for-places scandal would seem to be a good opportunity?

Questions, however, would have to be asked about how Trump even got into primary school.

 

GW: all a bit topsy-turvey if you ask me

Russia: A corridor of exceptionally warm airmass is reaching far into NW Russia, with daytime highs at the Arctic circle pushing up to 30-31 °C! “This is exceptionally warm weather for the region, about 25-30 Deg. C above average” for mid-May. (Severe-weather.eu). The temperature in one of Russia’s most northerly ports, Arkhangelsk, 1100km north of Moscow, hit 84.4F, 29.1C on 12 May.

45 forest fires have been raging around the city of Irkutsk, near Lake Baikal. There are reports of the sky turning black and residents getting sick from bad air quality. (Siberian Times) Moscow News 25 April reported 1 dead, 8 injured – and a cost to date of US$15m.

USA: Large parts of Texas, Kansas and Mississippi are underwater, with emergencies declared. “Parts of the state have been badly affected by storms since the start of the month. Houston, Tx. saw around 10 in. (254 mm) of rain in 24 hours to early 08 May, 2019. 1 person died in flash flooding in Austin. A slow-moving storm dumped heavy rain in parts of Mississippi on 09 May. Some areas recorded up to 8 in. (203.2mm) of rain in 24 hours. The city of Jackson experienced severe flooding. (Floodlist)

Leading Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden reportedly still has not formulated a policy on climate change and is sitting on the fence when it comes to reducing carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel. Of the 22 runners, only 2 have dared to declare a course of action. (Guardian)

It’s been the wettest year-long period in U.S. records going back to 1895, according to the NOAA . Averaged across the contiguous U.S., the total of 36.2-in. made the period from May 2018 to April 2019 the first year-long span ever to top 36-in. (3 ft). (Weather Channel)

Adding to the above, it’s 18 May and Mammoth Lakes, California has just had 10 inches of SNOW! The popular ski-resort area has had a total of 470 inches of snow this winter. Elsewhere in the northern part of the state they’ve had record rainfall.

Australia: Intensifying to Cat 2 in the South Coral Sea, out-of-season Tropical Cyclone Ann is forecast crossing the northern tip of Queensland near Cairns before heading across the Gulf of Carpentaria in the next few days. (News AU)

India: At least 300 yaks have starved to death in Sikkim province near India’s border with China after getting trapped by heavy snowfall. The yaks had been trapped since December. Authorities had tried to drop food to the animals but were pushed back by poor weather. (BBC Weather)

Europe: As exceptionally cold weather has continued to affect eastern central Europe, Spain and Portugal have been experiencing a spring heatwave, with temperatures up in the mid-30s C, mid-90s F: 10C to 14C above the mid-May average. Northern Italy has had more severe thunderstorms and a powerful Bora wind is blasting the Balkans, where there’s a warning of flooding as 300 mm of rain is expected during the coming days.

Weekend outlook, 18/19 May: “Temperatures in parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland will reach above 20s, with daytime highs reaching into mid-20s locally. That is quite exceptionally warm for now, up to about 15 °C higher than the long-term average!” (Severe-weather.eu)

The Fortunate Isles: It’s getting harder than ever for your old Gran to concentrate on some far-off global climate emergency when the weather here on the west coast of Great Britain is so bloody agreeable!

We have 19.5 degrees under sunny skies again today, and for the rest of this week, dry and getting warmer. The green spaces are in full leaf, the oaks looking especially fine, the ash – well, they say “oak before ash, we’re in for a splash… Ash before oak, we’re in for a soak”, so a dryish summer is projected in nature. Clouds of midges over the footpath, birds chirping merrily…. Just a slight note of concern, some trees are looking stressed, with strangely withered leaves; while we’ve just strolled through a wildflower meadow and disturbed no butterflies or any insects at all. Nor still are many bees around, despite the profusion of pollen sources getting up everyone’s noses.

We met almost none today, even amid the glorious blossoming of the May trees only one or two per show.

 

Deep breath… Donald and the magic money machine… GW: going down a bomb. New BogPo undergoing boglogenesis for Thursday

“We do not expect our species to exist forever. But it is unworthy of us – and of what, collectively, we know we can become – to die in the way we’re threatening to die: blindfolded, blustering, callow, lying to each other and ourselves.”

Environmental campaigner, the late Dorothy Dinnerstein, quoted on OpenDemocracy.org

 

Deep breath…

Daily average atmospheric CO2 as measured at Scripps Mauna Loa observatory at 9,000 ft altitude on 3 May was 415.09 ppm, approximately 10 ppm higher than the 405 ppm average at end-March last year.

That’s the highest count measurable from core samples, etc. in the past 800 thousand years and puts us on course for 10 deg. C, 18F of warming over AD 1750 levels. (from Arctic News, 6 May)

Wunderground carries and gives additional weight and exposure to an item that appeared on Arctic News a couple of months ago, regarding research at CalTech showing how one result of a 4C rise by 2100 could be the loss of marine stratocumulus clouds that reflect sunlight back into space.

“If humanity maintains its current business-as-usual emissions path for the next 100 years, the resulting 4°C (7°F) of warming may be enough to cause highly reflective stratocumulus clouds over the subtropical and tropical oceans to disintegrate, resulting in an additional 8°C (14°F) of warming, according to research published in February. The resultant “Hothouse Earth” climate, 12°C (22°F) warmer than pre-industrial levels, would be enough to melt all ice on the planet, raise sea levels by over 200 feet over a period of centuries, and produce heat waves too hot for humans to endure outdoors for over half of Earth’s population (as currently distributed.)

I love the optimism of scientists, don’t you? Because a) what if we hit not 4C, but 10C, on current trend, as forecast by “Sam Carana” above, possibly even in the next decade? Add 8C to that, and Venusians start to feel at home.

And b) long before it gets “too hot for humans” we will have suffered global socio-economic collapse, even assuming we can still produce food in underground farms and laboratories, requiring a huge energy supply; and, potentially, nuclear exchanges escalating from unsustainable conventional resource wars. While on the principle of co-extinction of species, with another million on the UN’s danger list humankind will be long gone before we drown.

Start saving now

A team of British, European and US researchers have been looking at the probable cost of various warming scenarios, based on the aim of the outdated Paris accord to keep warming “well below” 2C. Given the likelihood of non-linear warming caused by feedbacks such as Arctic “blue ocean” and consequent methane release, they estimate that if warming can be kept to 4C by the end of the century, the cost to the global economy by then will have been $2,197 TRILLION.

One tipping point frequently quoted is the loss of winter sea ice leaving the Arctic ice-free in summer, the darker water absorbing more heat. Thomas Krumpen of the Alfred Wegener Institute warns that an important current that helps to distribute new sea ice across the region in late autumn, known as the Drift, is becoming weaker and more erratic. It’s estimated too that 50 years ago, the Greenland ice sheet was losing 47 billion tonnes of ice annually. It’s now 290 billion tonnes. The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

Lloyds of London made a $1 billion loss in the last year on insured disasters, while Aon Insurance estimates March alone’s extreme weather events cost the world economy $8 billion. Of course, the majority of disaster zones in poorer countries experience far greater uninsured losses.

(All taken from an article in Floodlist crediting Climate News Network, citing various papers)

La la la la la…

According to a major international survey, 17% of Americans believe that “the idea of manmade global warming is a hoax that was invented to deceive people” (54 million people!) 13% thought the climate might be changing but humans are not responsible. (Guardian, 8 May)

America has the highest proportion of climate change deniers in the world: of those who describe themselves as conservatives, over 52% said they believe in the hoax theory.

Coincidentally, it also has the largest per capita carbon footprint. (Followed closely in both categories by its friend, the oil nation of Saudi Barbaria.)

Of course, for it to be a hoax would improbably require the covert participation of thousands of trained researchers with actual PhDs across dozens of countries and institutions, producing peer-reviewed papers over many decades, going back to the late C19th.

There would also have to be some point to it.

To believe it to be a hoax would require the brand of logic that says you can go on pissing in your bath water forever and it won’t overflow or turn yellow and smelly.

The kind that can’t manage to balance objectively the likely gain to the shareholders of the coal, oil and gas industries of continuing denial, against any conceivable gain to the broader scientific community from continuously lying to people.

For it to be thought of as a hoax requires only a large enough number of poorly educated, self-promoting, attention-seeking, contrarian twats with their heads up their arses, plus a few million dollars worth of propaganda from the Koch brothers and Exxon-Mobil.

Plus, of course, the word of the least intelligent, most ignorant – most unqualified – president in US history. A trustworthy source who has otherwise made up more than ten thousand well-attested lies in 27 months.

Sure, it’s a hoax.

 

Justice is blind

“Today Anna Sorokin will be sentenced in New York for masquerading as Anna Delvey, an extravagant socialite. Sorokin bankrolled an implausibly lavish lifestyle with tens of thousands of dollars she swindled from banks, hotels and friends who believed she was a wealthy German heiress.” (Guardian)

For over 30 years, a person has been going around New York masquerading as “Donald Trump”, a billionaire businessman and glamorous playboy. In that time he’s cost the US taxpayer half a billion dollars, stiffed his workers and suppliers, refused to pay bills, groped women, accepted money from gangsters, imported and employed undocumented labor. He bankrolled an implausibly lavish lifestyle with tens of millions of dollars he swindled from banks, threatening to sue them if they asked for their money back.

He’s not going to prison at all.

That is…

While the Democrats in the House of Representatives have been battling the Justice department in vain to get hold of the unredacted Mueller report, judge Amy Berman Jackson, hearing the case against Trump crony Roger Stone, has issued a court order requiring the DoJ to hand over redacted material relating to Stone’s prosecution.

Lawyers have agreed, they cannot refuse. The material is due on Monday. Other judges are now making similar orders and may soon join the ranks of the few people in the USA who have been allowed to view all the material Trump’s tame Attorney General Bill Barr has blanked out and is refusing to let legislators see.

While, in case anyone is still clinging hopefully to the last few shreds of possibility that Trump is not the most corrupt president in US history, Bloomberg is reporting that the Chief Counsel at the Internal Revenue Service, the man who is blocking lawful Congressional demands for the release of the President’s tax returns – those bits that have not already leaked – and whose appointment was railroaded through the Senate confirmation hearing on the personal order of the President, was formerly for a time a tax advisor to… The Trump Organization.

No conflict there, then.

 

Donald and the magic money machine

Look, I know you just want to get on with your life, but this is bugging me. Has been for three years now.

What is he so scared will come out of his tax returns, that his dim Treasury Secretary, Grinning Steve “call me Stephen” Mnuchin is prepared to go to jail for, being as he is in contempt of Congress for refusing to allow a lawful request to the head of the IRS – himself a barely qualified Trump appointee – to release them?

Why is Trump fighting like a cat in a sack to prevent anyone knowing about his finances? It’s a perfectly accepted thing, every new president and senior government official, every candidate for high office has to ‘fess up, but he absolutely will not.

Just yesterday, the good ol’ New York Times financial people have reported, they’ve managed to get hold of a series of basic Internal Revenue Service documents, just the annual listings of their top and bottom wealthy taxpayers, just a headline thing with no details.

From which, it appears that for about 10 years in the 1980s and 90s one Donald John Trump, hugely successful and flamboyant billionaire businessman, paid a small amount of tax in only two of them.

In the other eight years, he managed to LOSE a total of $1.17 bn, thus avoiding tax on his business and personal revenue – which he basically believes are one and the same thing.

Now, we recall, don’t we, the pre-election TV debate with Clinton in which Trump accepted that he paid next to no tax, and that was because he was “smart” – billionaire presidential candidates shouldn’t have to contribute a penny to the nation, patriotism (as Edith Cavell once said) not being nearly profitable enough.

It transpired that his accountant had declared a deductible billion dollar write-down, that sheltered him from income tax for several years. It was reported in the mainstream media at the time, but everyone seems to have forgotten about it until now, when this actual evidence has emerged. (And also since the accountant has been spilling it to the Mueller team.)

Now, I love a good conspiracy theory, so the clouds parted when I saw the Times piece today.

All the leftish TV pundits are speculating that this is what he didn’t want to come out, that instead of being the brilliant supermogul he pretends to be, the world’s greatest dealmaker, he is a totally crappy businessman whose dad bankrolled him to the tune of half a billion dollars, that he appears to have pissed away, and more.

But there’s nothing new in that theory, journalists who have followed Trump around with a shovel have been trying to tell people for years that he’s the phonus-balonus.

I’m looking at it from a more squinty angle, however.

WHAT IF…

The Times financial team has been puzzling over one entry.

It seems that at one point, Trump declared a special one-off receipt for $50 million in interest earnings.

How, they are asking, and from where could he have earned $50 million in interest when his businesses were making such huge losses?

Well, my friend over at The Pumpkin brightly suggests, over a pint or two, it’s about what you’d expect to earn in a year on a billion-dollars worth of deposits, no?

In the sober light of day, I’m sure there’s a perfectly innocent explanation. In the world of accounting, not everything is what it seems, not necessarily illegally so. There might have been a very good reason why such a large amount needed to be lumped all at once into the column marked “interest earned on investments”, like “We can’t get away forever with not declaring something”.

So, what if he didn’t actually lose that billion, and instead had salted it away somehow, somewhere, in dribs and drabs of fifty, a hundred or two hundred million at a time, and merely declared the money as lost?

Say, in fake bank accounts in Russia, where the regulators are probably piled in groaning heaps in corners? (Has anyone looked for accounts in the name of David Dennisovitch, I wonder?)

Or, say he had carefully crafted those losses, purportedly to creditors (whom he reputedly seldom pays) but actually to confederates? (Like energy, money can neither be created nor destroyed.)

And say those deposits might be the true source of his Russian loans to his leisure developments? (Other countries and banks may be involved). That he’s been lending to himself, laundering his own money outside the system?

If true, that would be a far stronger reason for Trump to want to keep Mr Putin happy by helping to bring down the West, as if found out it would see him eating porage with no salt for many lifetimes to come.

Those debts Trump supposedly owes, that Putin has supposedly picked up the marker for – well, so what, frankly? It’s not illegal to be a lousy businessman, it’s not illegal to borrow investment finance from Russian banks owned by Putin’s mates or the GRU, like his idiot sons have explained he does, although in many people’s view it ought to be illegal to build tacky golf resorts everywhere over people’s land. He even loses money on those.

But huge hidden deposits, concealed from the IRS? Like, those big “debts” he supposedly owes are actually his own assets?

Whoof.

Just speculatin’. Usually wrong, yunnerstan’. No head for finance, least of all this stuff. Too easily detected. Pure supposition. Probably not even possible. Just ignore.

PS Mr Trump has hit back, claiming he lost the money deliberately, in a financial game all successful property developers play (aye, it’s called “laundering money”…) Then he exerted Executive Privilege over Congress to prevent any further inquiries into the Mueller report, appointing a new law firm just to delay release of his financial records, resulting in a declaration of war from the Democrats, who have started contempt proceedings against Trump officials resisting lawful subpoenas to produce evidence the President fears will incriminate him further.

So far, it’s all proceeding along exactly the lines familiar to historians of the Watergate conspiracy.

What is he hiding? And why doesn’t anyone appear to know?

 

GW: going down a bomb

Europe: A storm undergoing rapid “bombogenesis” (drop in pressure) out in the Atlantic is forecast to bring high winds and torrential rain across the British Isles into much of NW Europe down to Spain from 8 May. SW France is expecting severe thunderstorms and “a tornado or two”. (Accuweather) So far, here on the ground the forecast seems to be a bit of an exaggeration.

Meanwhile, as central and southern Europe continues to shiver under an airmass straight from the Arctic, Spain and Portugal are expected to warm up rapidly at the weekend, with a +14C spring temperature anomaly peaking in the high 30s C (high 90s F) next week. (Severe-weather.eu)

USA: Heavy flooding continued inundating towns and farmland along rivers in the Midwest on Monday. The swollen Mississippi River breached levees and forced road closures and drove people from their homes as high water levels make their way downstream. More severe storms are forecast to trundle northeastwards from Texas towards the mid-Atlantic during the week. (Accuweather)

The Weather Channel reports, nearly 3,000 avalanches have been recorded this year in Colorado.

In brief

Indonesia: 1 person has died and several are injured, with some localized farming losses, after heavy rain caused a flash flood in Samosir regency, North Sumatra, 3 May. (Floodlist)

Australia: The city of Mildura in Victoria state was engulfed by a huge dust storm on 7 May, whipped up by 50 mph-plus winds.

Insurance industry research has shown that extreme hot days in Australia are now 80 per cent more common and extreme cold days 74 per cent less common than the long-term average. (ABC News)

Namibia: A state of emergency has been declared as drought grips the country for a third successive year. Over half a million people are said to have not enough to eat. (BBC)

Russia: sweltering in a heatwave, Moscow has again (twice last year) been battered by a massive storm, with lots of hail and localized flooding. High winds tore up trees and flipped cars.

 

Get it together, guys!

One possible factor behind the public confusion over climate change that the denier community has improperly exploited, is the apparent inability of the scientific community to act like a community and cross-refer data sensibly across the barriers of specialized disciplines.

As a for-instance, take the story above, that in some parts of Australia you’re more than twice as likely to get dangerously hot days now than you were, say between 1980 and 2010, which is usually taken as the long-term average. Nationwide, it’s about an 80% increase. Sea level rise around some parts of the coast is also an alarming 6 cm, although the news report gives no starting date for that, so it’s hard to evaluate the significance. (ABC News)

The research was done for actuaries in the insurance industry, who have therefrom concluded that by 2100, getting on for a million homes will become uninsurable.

It really ought to occur to these clever risk-analysts that if extreme temperatures and sea levels go on increasing at the reported rate, which given the corruption and inertia prevalent among the country’s simply appalling politicians they are bound to do, there won’t be anyone around to pay the premiums.

Australia will have become uninhabitable long before it becomes uninsurable.

And in a similar vein, this morning the UK Environment Agency has published its views on the nation’s flood preparedness, urging the government to spend a billion pounds a year on resilience measures and warning that coastal communities will have to be relocated – if the global average temperature rises by 4 deg. C.

The Agency has completely failed to comprehend what a rise of 4 deg. C in the average temperature is going to mean in terms of the extremes we should experience in the meantime. Especially if the theory holds up, that at 4 deg. C the oceans will lose their reflective blanket of stratocumulus clouds, leading to a rapid rise of a further 8 deg. C. So far, that’s only a theory.

However, there has been a tragic tendency on the part of risk analysts to think lineally, in terms of these artificial cutoff points: 1.5C good, 2C bad; “blue ocean event” – as if there is one state prior to the last ice cube disappearing, and a new state immediately following it. And as if Chaos theory does not predict any sudden change of state resulting from tipping points being exceeded.

Many gloomier scientists whose prognostications are so frequently ignored by governments, NGOs and the media, all of them with their own half-baked perspectives, have concluded that a rise of 5 deg. C is the point of extinction for the human race.

How well do we imagine we are going to cope at 4 deg. C – which is, after all, nearly 5C and likely in itself to double the rate of warming? What will be the effect on global food production? On our cities, sweltering in 45C, 50C heat in summer?

Wel, so long as our clever department is focussed entirely on the effects of sea level rise and heavier rainfall, we can’t take the holistic view of a drastically changing economy and potential system breakdown to put out a more meaningful report.

Let’s just knock back the values of coastal properties for now.

The Pumpkin – Issue 84: The War of the Words… It pours but it never arraigns… Is he insane or just monumentally stupid?… Filthy scumbag politics ##1-4… GW: and the beast goes on.

From humorist Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker, 6 May:

Trump Furious That Another Baby Is Getting All the Attention

The President is reportedly “seething with envy” and “furious” that another baby is suddenly getting all the attention, White House aides have confirmed.

“The choice is simple. We can stand up to this President in defence of the country and the constitution and the liberty we love, or we can let the moment pass us by. And we have seen what happens in other countries when they let the moment pass by. I do not know what Attorney-General Barr will choose. I do not know what my Republican colleagues will choose. But I am certain there is no way forward for this country that does not include a reckoning with this clear and present danger.”

 

The War of the Words

Thus, Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, declaring war on the Trump regime over its refusal to co-operate with House inquiries into the Mueller report, Barr’s lies and Trump’s taxes.

Nadler gave Barr two days in which to comply with requests for further explanation of why he fudged and lied about the report before he had even read it, but Barr failed to show up, saying he had better things to do. Democrats have held him to be in contempt, although no proceedings have been initiated.

A constitutional standoff is ensuing, with deadlines looming for more evidence and disclosure, the refusal of the White House to allow any now or previous staff to comply with Congress’ demands, and mounting numbers of Trump’s favorite distraction, pointless but time-consuming law suits pending.

It’s all a bit like the climate emergency, everyone knows it’s real but no-one really wants to think it so nothing is done. Doing something is an admission of responsibility for an unknown future that most people can’t imagine ever arriving. The Mueller report was utterly damning, but it’s easier to hang on to Barr’s lies than admit America is in the power of international gangster-capitalists, as evidenced by Trump’s hour-long suck-up phone call to Putin on Thursday – and to try to do anything about it by taking decisive legal actions, including arrests.)

So, Trump spokesmouth, Sarah Sanders has described Nadler as “pathetic”, and called for him to resign, while House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi has accused Barr outright of lying to Congress – an impeachable offence. “What could possibly be motivating the attorney-general of the United States to disrespect the constitution of the United States, the separation of powers, the right of Congress to know?” she asked at a press conference on Capitol Hill this week.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, reports The Guardian, has warned that Barr’s theory of Trump’s innocence, that he couldn’t be guilty of obstruction if there was no crime in the first place – a stance repudiated by vast numbers of legal specialists – puts the country on a “road to tyranny”.

And meanwhile, floppy-haired former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, who gave more than 30 hours testimony to the Mueller team, is under subpoena to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on 7 May. Trump has ordered him not to go, which looks to most observers very much like witness tampering as McGahn is no longer a Government employee.

Mueller however still is, technically. Thus Mr Trump is apparently within his rights to silence him. Which he is doing, ordering him not to testify on the grounds that Mueller owes him “two years” of his presidency back; while the Attorney General has declared the investigation is over, leaving 37 per cent of voters convinced of the president’s innocence.  With one bound, he was free.

Whether the war of words between the White House and Capitol Hill will descend into something even uglier this week will have to be seen: Republicans inevitably are accusing Democrats of conspiracy, while Trump, still under 16 other criminal investigations, clings to the Barr view that the Mueller probe was a waste of $34 million (unlike the $100 million bill for his golfing excursions) and just a “hoax”.

 

Carrington event?

Has anyone else been getting interference with their electronic communications recently? Like a lot of intermittent buzzing on the lines of their digital devices? Is it solar flares or just a Chinese conspiracy?

We need more information.

 

It pours but it never arraigns

370 former federal prosecutors have signed a letter saying Trump would be charged with obstruction if he wasn’t president – on the basis of the Mueller report.

While Trump honored his friend, Tiger “Tom” Woods, in the Rose Garden, Treasury Secretary Steve “Stephen” Mnuchkin was telling Congress he had no intention of honoring their legal subpoena to release Trump’s tax records.

And Attorney-General William Barr was refusing to release an unredacted version of the Mueller report even to top-level security-cleared specialists on the Congressional Security committee.

A massive constitutional crisis is brewing.

And all to protect the arch-criminal in the White House. Why would anyone do that?

Absolutely no inference of innocence is surely now possible. He must be arrested immediately.

But of course, no-one has the guts to do it. After all, he is The President!

These pathetic Americans and their worship of authority is repulsive to all free men. They would rather a filthy, lying criminal sat in the White House, continuing to commit treasonous offences, than have to admit to what they elected and drag him out in chains.

PS the “chains” metaphor is not a metaphor. It is a deliberate reference to the accusation that the undocumented migrants Trump uses illegally as cheap labor at his trashy golfing resorts are expected to work overtime for nothing.

Slaves.

 

Is he insane or just monumentally stupid?

Sunday, and Trump’s wee thumbs have been busy announcing three more things:

One, trade talks with China are going “historically” well. Another high-level delegation from Beijing with a caravan of 100 retainers is due in Washington shortly. Two, he is slapping new tariffs on another $200 million worth of Chinese goods, just to teach them a lesson. Three, he believes the tariffs are costing China bigly and are responsible for his great economic figures. (The latest tariffs announcement sent markets plunging again.)

The Washington Post is scratching its head today. Chinese consumers and industry do not pay the tariffs, American consumers and manufacturers do. The higher price is on the American side, not on the Chinese. Tariffs merely make exports less competitive, but in the case of trade with China there are, presumably, fewer American manufacturers competing in the first place as they make all their stuff, like Trump’s MAGA hats and Ivanka’s whatever, ego, in China, where their costs are now 25% higher. That is how tariffs work.

This has been pointed out, I imagine, to Mr Trump time and time again, and he still does not seem to get it.

Others may or may not have pointed out, too, to the Great Mind Without Which, that the Stock Market is not the economy, that job numbers always uptick in the spring, that low unemployment is a curious feature of the generally sluggish global economy currently – we have record employment here in Britain too, despite all those immigrants – that the increase in jobs began under and has continued rising since Obama, and that (doubtless, economists will start to realize) hugely costly extreme weather events in the US, floods and wildfires have contributed mightily to that 3.2% GDP growth, that Trump’s capricious trade and immigration policies have actually cost tens of thousands of blue-collar jobs* and that his fiscal policy has benefited, literally, only the top 1% of the population, taxes having actually increased for the “squeezed middle” majority who may soon also be losing all or much of their entitlement to insured healthcare.

Meanwhile, in another tweet Trump blasted the New York court for initiating an investigation into financial improprieties at the National Rifle Association. The NRA put around $70 million into his and the Republicans’ 2016 campaign and he’s clearly concerned they may not be able to repeat the trick this time.

No-one seems particularly concerned that $30 million of that general political spending came allegedly from donors in Russia, thanks to the efforts of the spy, Maria Butina, who infiltrated the organization and is now serving an 18-month jail sentence. Otherwise, says The Guardian, the NRA has announced financial losses of $64 million. In other words, their political campaigning to ensure that Second Amendment rights keep the dumbfucks buying their beautiful AR-15s has all-but bankrupted them.

The Pumpkin expects, however, that the American people will notice that here is yet another egregious example of Trump’s utter disdain for the rule of law.

It is far from the only time Trump, himself an “unindicted co-conspirator” facing 16 separate criminal investigations, has blasted the Justice Department for licensing police enquiriess in cases of suspected criminal activity, merely on the grounds that he personally doesn’t think the suspects have done anything wrong, that he doesn’t approve of or that doesn’t benefit him.

Five more years!

 

Mueller-heavy

Former CIA man turned author and TV pundit, Malcolm Nance – who says he has read it twice – makes a great point about the Mueller report.

It didn’t even start to look into whether or not Trump is a compromised Russian asset, and what his financial relationships are with Russian banks. It focussed purely on the issue of collusion.

Having previously taken a cavalier attitude to the prospect of Mueller testifying to the House Judiciary Committee, Trump is now panicking and has attempted to order Mueller not to attend.

*ProPublica reports that compared against Trump’s claim that he has created 8.9 million new jobs since taking office, when carefully examined the actual figure (attributable to his policy of interfering in corporate decision-making) is 792.

The Washington Post reports, the cost of ‘new’ jobs in the steel industry thanks to tariffs has been $600,000 – each.

 

Filthy scumbag politics #1

“Former White House chief of staff John Kelly has joined the board of a company that operates the largest facility for unaccompanied migrant children in the US.

“CBS News reported on Friday that Kelly is now a member of the board of directors at Caliburn International, the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services. The latter is the only private company operating migrant shelters. (Yes, Trump has found a way to monetize his filthy crimes against humanity.)

“Kelly previously oversaw the implementation of Donald Trump’s hardline immigration practices while serving as the department of homeland security secretary during the first six months of the administration. He then served as Trump’s chief of staff from July of 2017 until his resignation last December.

“During his time at the White House, Kelly was a forceful advocate of restricting even legal immigration and supported the president’s policy of separating families at the US-Mexico border.”

(The Pumpkin apologizes profusely, he has lost the reference to this extract.)

A 3-star general, supposedly a man of honor, now profiting not only from his former position but from the misery and terror of hundreds of fleeing families, child abuse, General Filthy was imported to the White House as one of the “adults in the room”, a Chief of Staff who would restrain Trump’s wilder and more baseless impulses.

And so it proved, for a while at least.

Within months, however, he went native and, after a shameful public spat with a Florida congresswoman in which he accused her falsely of lying about comments Trump had made to one of her constituents whose husband had been killed in a terrorist ambush in Niger, and seemed instead to traduce the memory of his own son, killed by an IED in Afghanistan, he was reported to have remarked that even very young childen separated from their mothers at the border were being taken “wherever”, as if he really didn’t care.

He subsequently lied on many occasions that he had nothing to do with the policy, which has led to more than 1500 children going untraced, possibly never to be reunited with their families. But that’s okay, because they are, according to Kelly’s master, only animals.

And then he had the gall to joke that working at the White House was the worst job he had ever had.

What a fucking corrupt, lying little monster this decrepit apology for a man has turned out to be. And how true it is, that everything and anyone Trump touches turns to shit.

 

 

Jacob Wohl is an American far-right conspiracy theorist, fraudster, and internet troll. He was formerly an online blogger and a columnist for the website The Gateway Pundit. (Wikipedia)

Born: 12 December 1997 (age 21 years)

Parents: David Wohl

Filthy scumbag politics #2

“Bumbling conservative provocateur Jacob Wohl pitched investors this spring on a scheme to use fraudulent news stories to manipulate political betting markets, according to a fundraising document obtained by The Daily Beast.

“The document indicates that Wohl attempted to raise $1 million to fund the Arlington Center for Political Intelligence, which he claimed would ‘make shit up’ to profit from bets on political races and would suppress Democratic turnout in 2020.”

I feel sure investors seeking a sound home for their hard-earned savings would jump at the opportunity to “make shit up”, it improves the smell of money 100 per cent.

The Beast also reported:

“Last November, Wohl and GOP lobbyist Jack Burkman were involved in a botched attempt to smear Special Counsel Robert Mueller with trumped-up sexual-assault allegations. Their press conference turned comical when the purported victim failed to show up … the woman … later accused them of making it all up.”

To carry the scam out, Wohl created a false-front online organization of made-up former intelligence officers, all of whom turned out to be himself.

Young Mr Wohl’s masterstroke was the conspiracy theory that a Democratic staffer, Seth Rich, who died after a street mugging, was in fact murdered on the orders of Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta, to silence him over the other conspiracy theory, that they were operating a pedophile ring out of the (non-existent) basement of the Comet PingPong cafe popular with Democratic staffers in Washington. 40% of Americans polled said they believed it.

Then there was the speech he gave at the CPAC Conservative conference, in which he claimed Democratic Muslim congresswoman, Ilhan Omar was married to her own brother (TYT), and many other scams of the kind, designed to wreck people’s careers and lives and to so muddy the waters that Trump shoots through the sewer into another four years of profitable mayhem.

So, what has this nasty little piece of attention-seeking Trumpian excrement scraped from the bottom of the Golden Bowl been up to now?

Well, the Daily Beast reports, he has been going around, propositioning gay young Republicans to testify falsely that they were sexually assaulted by Pete Buttigeig, the openly gay Democratic candidate hoping to run in the primaries for the 2020 election. But they caught him on tape.

When his first mark refused to co-operate, Wohl wrote a tweet apparently on behalf of another young man, and when that guy tried to recant, he got his dad, David Wohl, to post it on his Twitter account. (Little Jacob is banned from the platform).

The victim, college student Hunter Kelly recorded part of the conversation. He has since had to go on Twitter himself to deny that he made the allegation, but not before it was already widely circulating on alt-right media.

Many people are asking why the little shithead Wohl isn’t in prison, as so much of what he is doing involves making up the same kind of false criminal allegations as almost got TV actor Jussie Smollett banged up last month over inventing a racist attack, although that case was dropped.

In the post-truth era, it’s getting harder and harder to get justice or recantation against the liars. They just make more shit up, and on we all go, in a foul-smelling cloud of unknowing.

The FBI is apparently looking into it, but slowly. Commentators warn, it’s only a matter of time before one or other of Wohl’s vicious conspiracy theories crosses the amplification barrier of Trumpian media like InfoWars, 4chan or Fox & Friends and makes it onto the agenda as a serious discussion on CNN or ABC, where it could achieve devastating credibility.

Prepare however for more of the same. The 2020 election promises to be the filthiest scumbag politics you will ever have witnessed or read about in history books. It’s only just beginning.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/jacob-wohls-business-plan-make-shit-up-to-game-political-betting-sites

 

Postscriptum, or filthy scumbag politics #3

Tweeting out more than 60 times in one day, poor crazy Mr Trump has intervened directly on behalf of his friend, the insane, bellowing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the antisemitic Black Nationalist Islamic leader Louis Farrakhan, the floppy-haired gay homophobe Milo Yannopoulos and other scumbag fascists whose Facebook accounts have been suspended for spreading hate speech and lies. CNN reported:

“The president shared more than a dozen tweets about the subject on Friday night and Saturday morning. And he conveniently avoided the fact that some of the banned users are extremists who make a living by deceiving their fans.

“His posts were a rallying cry, full of resentment toward Big Tech. He said “It’s getting worse and worse for Conservatives on social media!”

Not once has Mr Trump voluntarily breathed a word of criticism against these self-publicizing neoNazi vermin who have crawled out from under their rocks preaching fear and hatred and violence and lies ever since he got elected. He delights in enabling and promoting extremism and (most) acts of terrorism committed by white supremacists, which he knows excites his Evangelical base as they pray daily for the Final Battle against Islam, Armageddon, and the Rapture.

Oh, but then he bitterly lashed out at the Firefighters’ Union of America, whom he had been hailing as America’s finest only moments earlier, on National Firefighters’ Day, for endorsing the Democrat candidate, Joe Biden. Nazi extremists are many good people, but firefighters aren’t, apparently. In fact, he was pretty insulting. Hopefully they’ll let the White House burn, no-one in it needs rescuing, they’re all Heaven-bound.

Among the storm of his tweets, most of which attacked the Mueller probe, claiming total exoneration and demanding apologies from the “Left Wing Media” for ever doubting him, hailing his wonderful relationships with his friend Putin and the tubby little serial-killer, Kim Jong-un, praising the stunning miracle of “his” economy, that has brought more untold wealth to the top 1%, was this, for National Prayer Day:

“On this day of prayer, we once again place our hopes in the hands of our Creator. We give thanks for this wondrous land of liberty, & we pray that THIS nation – OUR home – these United States – will forever be strengthened by the Goodness and the Grace & the eternal GLORY OF GOD!”

Mad as a box of poisonous jungle frogs, and twice as dangerous.

 

Filthy scumbag politics #4

“A candidate to serve as an MEP for Nigel Farage’s Brexit party once praised a colleague for using a Nazi slogan in the European parliament and has a history of using vulgar and obscene language about women in social media posts.

“John Tennant, who according to polls is expected to win a seat in the European parliament as one of Farage’s three candidates in the north-east, also made references to being intoxicated and suggested that Liverpool fans were criminals.

“In other cases, Tennant made a joke in which he referred to sex acts involving a young girl.”

I’m going to assume for the sake of the rest that the report in The Guardian, based on excavation of Tennant’s fairly recent Facebook pages, is not just Fake Nooze cooked up to discredit this slimeball – one of many nutters Farage has attracted to his absurd single-issue party, for which the fish porters of Sunderland seem more than inclined to vote, imagining that it will soon form a government and raise their standard of living immeasurably, while restoring Britain’s greatness, sticking two fingers up at Froggy and lowering the price of fish.

A spokesthing for the soi-disant “Brexit” party dismissed the report as “low-grade stuff” and “offence archaeology”, which has at least made a welcome-ish contribution to our rapidly accelerating stock of neologistic figures of speech.

Assiduous readers across the media spectrum will of course recall that one of Nigel’s chief preoccupations while serving as three-times leader of the now alt-right, overtly racist fringe UKIP party, whose officers probably outnumber their voters, was kicking out members whose extreme views and insane statements were making the party unelectable.

Such is the calibre of the blowflies that Farage attracts around himself, that several controversial Brexit officers have already been politely asked to seek help elsewhere.

Nevertheless, despite the preponderance of self-seeking publicity whores like the preposterous former Tory MP, Ann Widdecombe, the polls are showing that Brexit has a decent margin and is expected to win – in the sense that in a multinational assembly, any single national party can win – the European Parliament elections at the end of the month.

(You know, the same European Parliament that relies for its existence on a functioning democracy which the well-expensed Farage wants to keep on pretending does not exist in relation to Britain’s interests, which he of course alone represents. How stupid exactly is the British electorate?)

Proving that too many British voters have become as ignorant, crass, self-centred and insensible – and as apparently indifferent to their own fate and happy to be screwed over by the very rich – as any MAGA-hat wearing cretin in the base of Trump’s dumbfucks.

 

GW: and the beast goes on

India: With winds gusting to 205 km/h, Cyclone Fani is officially the strongest storm to hit the Indian Ocean coast since 1999, with widespread flooding. Although weakening, the gigantic cyclone is pushing up to Kalkota and on into the Ganges Delta, in Bangladesh, where over 2 million people have been evacuated. 12 people are known to have died so far. Winds from the huge storm have extended far inland and are being blamed for blowing tents away at Camp 2 on Mount Everest. There’s a warning of heavy rains and snow as far away as Nepal. (Times of India) As Fani stalls only a few miles inland, The Weather Channel adds: “Updated surge guidance Friday shows the potential for around 4 meters (13 feet) of storm surge atop astronomical tides along the concave coast of far northeast Odisha state …”

Prof. Paul Beckwith of Ottawa U. reports, the track of Cyclone Fani (pron. ‘Foni’) was a highly unusual one, being a rare storm that started south of the equator where the northerly east-west Coriolis force falls to zero, and then somehow moved north and east.

Aftermath: The Indian government and the UN have praised the response to Cyclone Fani, the vast evacuation of around 3 million people in total, that kept casualties to a minimum. Even so, Al Jazeera reports, 21 people in India and another 34 in neighbouring Bangladesh were killed, and rescuers have yet to reach outlying communities.

USA: Believe it or not, more “Scattered severe thunderstorms will continue to flare up from Texas into parts of the mid-Atlantic through late week, producing damaging wind gusts, large hail and potentially a few tornadoes. Heavy rainfall from these storms could also trigger flash flooding. Rain and thunderstorms will continue to roll through the southern Plains Friday. A few strong to severe thunderstorms, along with locally heavy rainfall, will also move through the Ohio Valley into parts of the mid-Atlantic Friday.” (The Weather Channel).

Floodlist (Copernicus) reports, 4 May: 2 fatalities were reported in separate incidents in Oklahoma. Quoting the National Weather Service, the Illinois, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers are forecast to reach moderate or major flood stage at many locations. Parts of the Mississippi River have already reached record levels. ABC News reports more than 50 tornadoes touched down in 24 hours across Texas and Arkansas, tearing off roofs and bringing down trees. Central Texas also saw torrential rain, just about 10 inches over 24 hours in places near Austin. SkyNews 7 is reporting on rivers flooding as far east as Chicago. And ABC reports, another series of destructive storms is in the forecast for next week.

South America: Rescue teams in Bolivia are searching for 3 people missing in a landslide that occurred in the capital, La Paz on 30 April. Over 400 people were left homeless as houses collapsed. Many parts of Bolivia have seen higher than average rainfall during April. (Floodlist) 30 people died in events involving heavy rainfall in Bolivia between January and March.

Australia: a massive belt of storms pushing up through the SE into Queensland has dumped over 100 mm of rain in places. At the same time – remembering next month is midwinter in the southern hemisphere – temperatures up in the NW corner around Broome are in the high 30s C, high 90s F.

Various news outlets are reporting, a number of Australian cities are facing acute water shortages after years of drought. Many reservoirs are down to 50% of their capacity, close to the levels at which restrictions are applied.

Europe: “A very intense (and historically unprecedented for May) Arctic front is moving south across Europe this weekend (3-5 May) and is expected to bring unusually low temperatures, snow and dangerous frost into some vulnerable areas (as far south as North Africa) on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Some areas could experience morning temperatures well below zero, which would be potentially devastating for vineyards and agriculture. Overall, very cold days are expected across much of the continent through mid-next week, while it remains mild and warm across the Iberian peninsula.” (Severe-weather.eu)