Breaking bad… There, their dear: some pointers for internet trolls… Generation Campervan… GW: Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside…

Quote of the week

“For me England is the model country in the western world when it comes to the triumph of neoliberalism and digital surveillance. You can find poverty in every one of the collapsing countries of the western world, but the unsentimental removal from sight of an entire part of the population because it is no longer of use in the value appreciation chain – that is unique to England.” – German dystopian SciFi author, Sybille Berg, interviewed in The Guardian, 30 June.

 

“While it was too soon to definitely attribute Europe’s blistering heatwave… to climate change…” – The Guardian, 29 June

“Come on, give me a break!” – Prof. Paul Beckwith, climate warrior.

Breaking bad

Of course, he’s right. I’ve been moaning about the BBC doing this, but it all comes from our ultra-cautious Meteorological Office, who like to measure summer daytime temperatures scientifically, in the dark. It’s regularly four degrees hotter in the shade where I am near the coast than the “official” temperatures they publish from a box just four miles up the road from here. I measure, not in direct sunlight, but at least in the light of day. It seems somehow more – you know, how people actually experience the world?

The logical position ought to be that as it’s getting hotter every year, and the increase is speeding up year on year, with effects that are self-evident, then there’s definitely a problem. (But you’re a frog, you can just lie back in your lovely warm water and ignore it.) That the problem might not demonstrably produce any given outcome is really a rather isolationist position to take. The current heatwave has shattered records. It is one of a rapidly warming recent series. Why would it not have been exacerbated by a warming world? We know the world is warming.

According to National Geographic magazine, Beckwith points out in a new video, Europe has had 5 (five) “1 in 500-year” summers in the last 15 years. Tens of thousands of additional deaths have accompanied the hottest – 56 thousand died in Russia in 2010 alone. Russia – in common with most of the rest of Europe – has an extremely low uptake of domestic air conditioning systems. It’s a problem!

These extreme heat events are all connected to a slower jet stream that locks weather systems into place, says Michael Mann of Penn State University. Mann co-authored a study last year that linked the slowdown in the jet stream—the band of high-altitude winds that sweep around the globe from west to east—to last summer’s unprecedented droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and flooding events across the entire Northern Hemisphere. And it is likely behind India’s weak monsoon rains and the widespread flooding in the U.S. Midwest this year.” (National Geographic)

And why is the jetstream slowing? You guessed it. Too soon to tell….

 

“All our Buddha’s are made by us using the best materials available.”

Tell me, what’s wrong with this commercial announcement? (I was looking for a large stone Buddha head for my little garden. I’ve actually found one, the garden centre sells quite nice ones, only the staff aren’t allowed to lift them, for reasons of Health & Safety, because they’re heavy, and thus cannot deliver them even to your car, which might explain why they don’t appear to have sold any.)

Yes, the plural “Buddhas” does not require the addition of a fucking apostrophe, okay?

“Grammar does not stultify, it enhances language.” – Me.

There, their dear: some pointers for trolls

I’m rapidly going bald, reading too many readers’ comments beneath articles written by journalists who, if not always right about things, and lacking the professional eye of a subeditor, that extinct species, so that mistakes often of omission or addition of entire words words are becoming increasingly common, are nevertheless qualified to set down coherent thoughts in writing.

But you seldom find a misplaced apostrophe in the Washington Post, or the New York Times.

For fuck’s sake, morons, what makes you think your crapulous opinions can possibly carry any weight if you can’t even put an apostrophe in the right place? I’m tearing my goddam hair out. It just goes on getting worse.

It’s its! ITS!! That’s if the subject belongs or attaches to something neutral, an object, a statement, it’s its! The possessive pronoun! If you plan to abbreviate “it is”, which is good practice in writing, then it’s it’s. Got it? If you wish to abbreviate can not, it’s can’t. Will not > won’t. Should not > shouldn’t. If you’re trying to say something belongs to Mr Dimwit, then it’s Mr Dimwit’s. Short for Mr Dimwit, his…

Christ on a BMX, it’s not that difficult, surely?

Oh, and you don’t apostrophize plurals. Got that too? It’s plurals, not plural’s, or plurals’. That’s known as the grocer’s apostrophe, because of so many misspelled handwritten signs you see outside grocers’ stores and on market stalls, reading “tomatoe’s $1” If there’s more than one tomato, it’s fucking “tomatos”, no apostrophe, no e either. Got that too?

To indicate possession, when the subject is singular, or when it ends with the letter s, the apostrophe goes before the possessive s (The s suffix is, in its turn, an abbreviation of hi(s), her(s), it(s), etc. As per: “Plato, his Republic” shortens to “Plato’s Republic”) So too: “Howard’s End”; “His mistress’s favors”; “Season’s greetings”; “Mr Dimwit’s latest Post”.

If the subject is plural, i.e. there’s more than one, then the apostrophe goes after the s. “Womens’ liberation”; “Readers’ comments”; “idiots’ grammatical delusions”.

The apostrophe is a long, Greek word for a useful little tick, a tiny bit of print punctuation (known as a diacritical) that helps to make sense of things.

But you should never (shouldn’t ever) use the apostrophe with possessive pronouns his, hers, its, yours, ours, theirs. Got it? Just leave them as they are, they’re fine.

And then there’s there. It’s not fucking “their”, unless it belongs to them!

  • There = prepositional adverb: there is an object. Not their. OR…
  • There = preposition: the object is there. Not their.
  • Their, or theirs = belonging to them. Not there.
  • There’s = there is. Not theirs.
  • They’re = they are. Not there, or their.

Just because there and their share a similar pronunciation, doesn’t mean they are the same, flexibly interchangeable word. Okay with that?

And while we’re about it, consider the difference between lose and loose, commonly confused. Not that you ever do. Consider it, I mean.

To lose something is to accidentally mislay it, surreptitiously get rid of it, or in a personal sense, sacrifice it, so that it is no longer in your possession or anywhere to be found. It’s a verb. (Not to be confused with the French city of Toulouse.) The related noun is loss. Loess is a type of volcanic soil; less means… er, less.

Loose is an adjective meaning free, unconstrained or untethered.

Lose and loose are not the same word. They’re not spelled the same way. They’re not even pronounced the same way. So why confuse them?

Nor are to and too the same, interchangeable word. Yet comment posters are more than inclined to too frequently interchange them!

I am going to… I am going too… these phrases have completely different meanings, because the words to and too do too. To (with one o) is a preposition, meaning in the direction of; toward. To is also an auxiliary adverb, when used in conjunction with the infinitive form of a verb: to go, to read, to think. It still suggests forward intent.

Too (with two os) is an adjective, meaning as well as; in addition (to), on top of; it’s a comparator, e.g “too much”, “too many”, “too stupid”. It’s not the same word as to, is it? Good, we may be getting somewhere.

And with the third person singular of the irregular verbs to go and to do, where an e is inserted for ease of pronunciation, it’s s/he goes and s/he does, not s/he goe’s and s/he doe’s, okay? For pity’s sake! Why make work for yourself?

Grammar does matter! It really does. (Not doe’s, as in belonging to a doe!)

Confusing words like there and their, to and too, misplacing apostrophes, cannot simply be dismissed as casual lapses, typos, carelessness under pressure of time. They are basic errors; evidence of ignorance.

Grammatical rules may be only longstanding literary conventions (note careful positioning of adverb only) but they exist to clarify text, to unmuddle thought, to convey meaning – not as tiresome distractions to embarrass the semiliterate and show them up in front of their betters. Grammar does not stultify, it enhances language.

If written language didn’t have rules – which include consistent spellings, albeit sometimes varied by dialect or editorial school but always consistent within them – we might just as well junk written texts altogether and communicate – as many around where I live do – by a system of grunts and clumsy gestures, or clubbing one another indicatively over the head.

Why let yourselves down? Do you imagine I care what you think about more difficult and complicated matters, about politics and philosophy and climate change, if you haven’t been bothered to educate yourself beyond the fourth grade to the simplest rules of English grammar?

 

Generation Campervan

As I was born sort of on the cusp of 1950, I wonder if the now faintly dismissive social designator “baby boomer” really applies to my personal demographic?

Although it sounds pretty much like the circumstances of my conception.

I think of myself more as Campervan Man.

Happy campers! (Pinterest)

When I was a kid, or child, as they used to be known, I used to watch the colorful cinema commercials (TV was still black and white, and there was only one channel with no ads, the one I still watch exclusively, despite its annually unexciting summer schedule) and badger my poor single mother endlessly to take me to Butlin’s for my summer holiday. (She wasn’t really single, it’s just that my father was being a glamorous globetrotting TV reporter, never home.)

It looked such fun! Compared with an only childhood in a small flat above a garage in Kensington, you had your own little chalet, and there were happy smiling people with bad teeth, not like the hoity-toity miserable wealthy kids I’d been sent to a posh pre-prep school in London with. It was always sunny! There was a big swimming pool with a chute! And you could line up and help yourself to food!

There were those ever-helpful, smiling, singing comedians in red jackets, the “Redcoats” (sad wannabe actors), and organized games, and a playroom for we (us) kids with a swing and a slide, while the adults held nobbly-knees and biggest-boobs competitions, ballroom dancing where they did the jive, and… and… everything! It was surely a Heaven on Earth!

My mother, however, had the sagacity to recognize these cut-price Communist workers’ paradises for what they were: indoctrination camps for the easily pleased. And took me instead to the more agreeable Ship Hotel in Brighton every year she could, because that’s coincidentally where her boyfriends also stayed.

Now, what seems like a lifetime later – oh, look, it is – I have an equally deluded fantasy, created I expect by clever admen to appeal to elderly romantics and supported by the endless stream of evocative little self-propelled white boxes trundling past my house in summer, to holiday for a week in the back of Morrison’s carpark, just a stone’s throw from McDonald’s. Some impressively not so little!

I can ignore the obvious lifestyle pull of joining the hordes of grey ponytailed, leatherclad, bitterly divorced men in their 60s, thumping in long lines past my house on their oversized, twin-pot 1200 cc Harley-Davidson motorbikes on a weekend away, after the long journey on challenging roads from Nuneaton and Daventry. After all, I already live here….

As the ad says, “There’s never been a better time to grab life by the handlebars and jump on a Sportster® Iron 883™.” Quite so (™, ®). Especially when you’ve got maybe ten years to live.

But I can resist the lure of two wheels, recollecting the desperate commuting days of my youth, when rain would pool soggily in your crotch as your little machine struggled up hills, impelled by willpower, and your visor would steam up and big 16-wheelers would thunder by in a cloud of spray, unaware of your existence. Besides, I’m not sure my prostate would allow it now.

I spent 15 years as an advertising agency copywriter, so I can happily stick two fingers up – and then down my throat – when I learn from their webthing of the ubiquitous Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic, that “If Bonnie and Clyde rode a Harley (™) motorcycle, this would be the one!”

But they didn’t. They rode – and died – in a Ford V8. A car. There’s no evidence whatever that they ever rode a motorcycle, unlike Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, who in the movie at least had a go on something in Bolivia but it wasn’t a Harley (TM). Now I think of it, it may even have been a bicycle. Some copywriters deserve the eternal fires of hell, others are just pathetically unimaginative. This kid sucks.

Sorry, got a bit sidetracked there. But I desperately want to own a campervan!

Why? They’re so totally declassé! And besides.

We should first of all make a distinction between the campervan and the mobile home. Neither, let us first say, is a caravan. Caravans are shit. Everyone hates you, you park them in a field, and. That’s if they haven’t been blown across the road on the way. Or you can pay for an expensive pitch and live in it on license for 90 days a year. It’s up to you, but I’d rather own a house, which I do. Mostly.

The only possibly interesting thing about caravans is the word “hoburn”. I have no idea where it comes from, America I expect, but it apparently refers to a gathering of caravans. Shit squared.

A campervan is a vehicle you can drive anywhere, park-up (even reverse!) and spend the odd night in, maybe at a festival or on a weekend fishing trip, but you wouldn’t want to live in it. It’s basically just a day van with extra windows and a folding bed and a Primus stove, and often you can’t stand up in it to do the washing-up, but it gives you a degree of freedom you never thought possible with your head on.

A mobile home, on the other hand, is a swanky palace on wheels, often with several rooms, a pool and a garage for a VW Up!. No, I kid you not, I’ve seen ads for touring homes in the wide-open spaces of the USA that are as commodious as any million-dollar Malibu beachfront house, and twice as expensive. At 8 mpg you’ll need unlimited money for gas, and also to pass a bus driver’s test. But you can move around for ever and never hit land. Bliss!

As with everything in life, there are, I feel sure, solutions inbetween, better suited to narrow, winding roads laid out according to the topography of the medieval strip-field system.

Aside from the likelihood that I’d never go anywhere – I have thought of it in terms of surviving the coming apocalypse, but then would you? – there are, of course, about a dozen good reasons not to buy a campervan.

First on the list is the knowledge that you would probably almost never use it. Try this test: if there’s nowhere you’d particularly want to go by car, train, plane or boat more than once in your life, then why imagine it would be helpful to go there in your campervan?

For the price of a campervan, you could probably enjoy several hundred nights in relatively comfortable, three-star hotels. But consider, there may not be one locally!

There you’d be, risking to be murdered by the local psycho in revenge for Algeria, while parked in a French layby, for how long before you discovered the auberge down the road? That there, tucked away in back of the nondescript café with the signed, blown-up photo of Eddie Merckz and the flyspecked Tour de France cycling posters, was the three-star Michelin restaurant gastronomique: something of an improvement on hot-soup primus-chic; and overhead, a comfortable bed for the night?

Then, there’s the price. You could probably acquire a 1993 Fiat Ducato van for about nothing, maybe fifty quid. Stick a Z-bed, a chair, a handbasin and some cupboards in the back, cover everything in purple floral moquette, and you’re talking £6,000. Just don’t look underneath.

Also in a range of hideous colors. The VW Transporter: not for swinging cats.

The popular VW Transporter format is an enclosed space: not one in which you would easily practise your cat-swinging skills. Yet my local car showroom, where I bought my trusty Citroen Berlingo – not that I’d planned to go to Berlin – has outside, this week, a relatively new, pre-loved, hi-top Transporter camper conversion, priced at only £34,500….

My eyes begin to water. For an equivalent sum, you could buy 34,500 entire medieval villages in rural France, including VAT, or a passionate night for two necking champagne on Richard Branson’s Necker Island.

Campervan lust is a form of insanity, I grant you. I think vaguely of the annual weekend I might spend at the Brecon jazz festival, which I have never been to, although it is not far away. A campervan would offer a free home-from-home, not only for me but for li’l Hunzi too.

And those music workshops we go to once or twice a year, how much might we save by not having to include the accommodation in the price? (Answer: not much, and no maidservice.)

I think too, of visiting my lovely daughter at her new home on the other side of the country. They could put me up, there’s a spare room, but wouldn’t you know, there’s also a demented, dog-hating cat, carelessly adopted from a shelter. Having a ‘van would allow us the extra, separate space we’d need to avoid a savage clawing spat and the embarrassment of having to continually apologize to my own daughter, “It’s alright, darling, I’m sure she’ll come home soon”, while secretly hoping the furry little termagent has been run over.

I keep reading that baby boomers have eaten all the pies, and because of my selfishness, Generation X or whatever can’t afford a life. Well, my lovely daughter married her university beau, they both have good jobs and have bought a house together, no help from me. I refuse to feel guilty, in my tiny cottage on a thundering main road in the fringes of a seaside town seasonally overpopulated by campervan dwellers and traversed by tragically sociopathic monster-bikers.

I look at them all, gray haired, lumpy 63-somethings, miserable couples with decrepit spaniels, and wonder: how the hell does anyone of the sort afford these amazing multicellular units, that cost from £60,000 to £120,000 apiece. Did they win the lottery? Did they cash in their bloated pension pots, sell their houses?

Probably, like me, they’ve got “pay nothing ’til you die” retirement mortgages. I should have used mine to buy a campervan, I was so desperate to, but there were other priorities and I drew back from the edge. Now it’s beyond me.

Could I really have envisaged myself taking the ferry to Calais, mooching around Europe with nobody to talk to, when I can just Google a virtual adventure at home? Campervanning is really more for couples who are past the age of speaking to one another.

But that’s me! Only single. A man and his dog.

Across the street, my neighbor Mr Hughes parks a vehicle called Monty. It’s to die for, a 1996 Autosleeper conversion of a long-wheelbase Peugeot Boxer, in delicately pale Nile green. They seldom go anywhere in it. I’d go to the eds of the Earth! I gibber lovingly everytime we pass it, and dream of the wide open spaces.

Stuck in a jam on the M4.

Have I really matured since those lonesome childhood days when I was transfixed by the fleeting promise of a different kind of life in the sun? Where I should probably have had seven kinds of shit kicked out of me by working-class lads with red knees and headlice, for being the posh kid who read books?

Is this just me wanting to go round again?

Butlins on wheels?

 

GW: Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside

Newshound

Many reports emerge today, 1 July, of a freak hailstorm that has buried Guadalajara in northern Mexico overnight under five feet of ice, after a day when the temperature had been over 30C. Two people were treated for hypothermia, cars were slowly borne away in the tide and 200 buildings were damaged. A precisely similar event happened two years ago at Cordoba in Argentina that was barely noticed in the press, but now we are all climate change enthusiasts.

“The vast expanse of sea ice around Antarctica has suffered a ‘precipitous’ fall since 2014, satellite data shows, and fell at a faster rate than seen in the Arctic”, records the Guardian. “The plunge in the average annual extent means Antarctica lost as much sea ice in four years as the Arctic lost in 34 years. Researchers said it showed ice could disappear much more rapidly than previously thought.”

“An area of Amazon rainforest roughly the size of a football pitch is now being cleared every single minute, according to satellite data. The rate of losses has accelerated as Brazil’s new right-wing president favours development over conservation.” (BBC News) More depressing still, Japan has resumed unfettered commercial whaling.

And as Europe swelters (satellite forecasts show the African heat returning next week with some potential for a 49C record in Spain on 11 July):

  • More flooding has affected parts of Ecuador, this time in the northern province of Sucumbíos. Around 600 people have been affected in the province in total, with 150 evacuated and 150 homes or buildings damaged. Landslides have blocked roads, stranding motorists.
  • Recent heavy rains in the Mopti region of Mali have caused floods, aggravating the already precarious situation of the 50,254 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region.
  • Over 700 people have been moved to relief camps in the state of Assam, north eastern India, after annual flooding caused by the overflowing Brahmaputra, Barak and Jia Bhoreli rivers. Monsoon flooding has affected around 5,000 people in 12 villages. Rail services have been disrupted.
  • Houses and infrastructure have been damaged in floods affecting large parts of northern Vietnam. Disaster authorities in the country reported that 1 person died after being swept away. 3 people are still missing in the floods. Another person died as a result of lightning strike in Dien Bien province. (Floodlist)

Dr Jeff Masters, of Weather Underground, comments that what makes last week’s heatwave over France so unusual is the extreme difference between the new records set and the old ones. He can find only one other incidence in weather history, of an old heat record being beaten by a margin as great as 5.9C, 10.4F, as at Montpellier last week. It happened in the US, in 1936, during the dustbowl drought emergency.

A new report expresses concern over increasing fluctuations in the level of the US’s Great Lakes, which contain a fifth of the world’s fresh water. Climate change is responsible for more damaging flooding around the shoreline, as both 2C of warming since the 1990s and the recent polar vortices, combined with storms and increased rainfall have been causing big surges in the water level. (Floodlist, citing University of Michigan)

Despite predictions of an above-average season for Eastern Pacific storms, not a lot has happened in the month since the season started. Storm Alvin has blown itself out, but Tropical Storm Barbara has a chance of reaching Hawaii next week as a hurricane. To the West, Tropical Depression 4 may strengthen before reaching Taiwan.

There’s still no sign of anything untoward in the West Atlantic and Caribbean, although of course the unusual chain of supercell thunderstorms breezing out of the Gulf of Mexico into Texas and up through the flooded Midwest into the Great Lakes region has not stopped since March.

 

 

 

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 90 underway: STOP PRESS: Democracy dead – official… All the President’s (Best) Men… “Omarosa, Omarosa, men have shamed you…” Johnson: There’s more than one? God help us… GW: And the heat goes on. Essay: Where no heads roll…

Quote of the week

“The warning signs of this emergency are clear and inescapable and we have been told what the treatment is … now, in a medical situation a patient would not ignore that and neither can we ignore the environmental emergency and its dire consequences for human life” – Retired specialist, Dr Bing Jones, who has organized a petition signed by 1,000 UK doctors calling on the government to take more urgent action on climate change.

 

STOP PRESS: Democracy dead – official

News is breaking of another landmark decision in the US Supreme Court that will finally bury democracy and the rule of civil law.

In the notorious Citizens United case, in 2010 the court essentially removed restrictions on corporations buying elections, ruling perversely that corporations had the same rights as people and could therefore spend as much as they liked on supporting political candidates. Thus, Koch Industries alone was able to spend close to a billion dollars getting Trump elected in 2016.

Now they’ve gone one further and ruled that the constitution does not anywhere forbid gerrymandering – that is, redrawing constituency boundaries to favour one party over another, and the artificial rigging of local voting rolls – determining, essentially, who can and cannot vote. These decisions are in the power of sitting administrations, who may therefore now feel free to engineer the re-election of their own candidates in perpetuity. With a general election coming up.

The court, with its two conservative Trump appointees making the more liberal wing a minority, has not said it’s good, only that the courts don’t have legal powers to stop it. In theory, it could help either party, but in practice it massively loads the dice in favor of the Republican party.

Prepare for another four years of insanity and chaos.

 

All the President’s (Best) Men

Two more high-profile (“I don’t think I ever spoke to them, they say they’re good people”) Trump admin departures cropped up on Wednesday (26 June), bringing the total fired or quit during his presidency to God-knows how many – his attrition rate among senior staff – those whose positions he has yet managed to fill – is about 50 per cent.

There’s been very little coverage here in Britain of the child abuse scandal that’s rocking America, in relation to the conditions in which the children of migrants, forcibly separated from their families, are being held in detention, in what the progressive Democrat, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, controversially described last week as “concentration camps”. (She was photographed weeping copiously outside one, as the Texas sun beat mercilessly down.)

Recently, 300 children were moved from a “temporary” facility outside El Paso following widespread outrage, after a lawyer who visited reported that the children were forced to sleep on concrete floors with only thermal aluminum blankets for warmth at night, when the lights were kept blazing all night – as at Guantanamo Bay. Children as young as two were being cared for by older children not even related to them, as there appeared to be no qualified childrens’ nursing staff, only guards. The children had no washing facilities – toothbrushes, soap – no showers. Younger children had no nappies – diapers, whatever and were forced to soil themselves. Several had lice, or were covered in mucus – medical care for those going down with colds and ‘flu was slow to non-existent. Food and water were also in short supply.

The sociopath in chief, on whose emotionally deprived childhood this sickening policy is based, has of course denied that this is happening – anyway, it was much worse under the Obama administration – another Big Fat Lie, running counter to the narrative of despairing border patrol people who say that at least under Obama there was a policy, order, administration – not this total shambles. Asked if he was concerned about conditions, Trump made it clear in his oblique, allusive way that no, the abuse was a deliberate policy to force the Democrats to cough up more money for border security.

Anyway, it’s reported, 100 of the children have been moved back in again, apparently because they like it there so much, they are free to come and go and are well cared-for – so claimed local Republican congressman, Michael Burgess, in an NBC interview that caused much retching and hand-wringing among the onscreen pundits.

And in the meantime, the guy in charge of the shitshow, “Acting” Border Control Commissioner  – Trump has found he doesn’t have to get these problematic people confirmed in post if they’re only “Acting” – John Sanders, has resigned after only two months in the job. His expected replacement is another insane man from inside the wire of the administration who says he only has to look into a migrant teenager’s eyes to know that he will become an MS-13 gang member.

Ahead of the G20 summit in Japan, Ambassador Sean Lawlor has been neatly whisked out of office. Ambassador Lawlor – he’s not the ambassador to Japan, that’s John Hagerty (Google writes, helpfully: “The Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan is the ambassador from the United States of America to Japan”) – Ambassador Lawlor has a roving brief as Trump’s “Chief of Protocol”, a job which sounds like one of those nightmares you wake up screaming from. Trump has no regard whatever for protocol! He probably thinks it’s an indigestion remedy.

In fact, it looks like he’s been fired – they’re calling it an indefinite suspension, pending investigations. Lawlor, the man in charge of diplomatic etiquette, has been the subject of numerous complaints of harrassment and bullying from his staff, many of whom have quit, claiming that he carries a bullwhip with him in the office just to remind them who’s the boss.

I hire only the best people, Trump once said.

Actually, more than once.

And most of them have been unqualified idiots, domestic abusers, fantastically corrupt, or just barking mad. Sometimes all four.

STOP PRESS AGAIN

The Disunited Democrats have caved-in and approved an appropriations budget of $4.6 billion for additional border security measures “In order to get resources to the children fastest”, on a faint promise by Vice President Pence that children won’t have to spend more than 90 days in detention camps.

Of course, all that has to happen is they can be temporarily re-camped after 90 days before being sent back. It’s a victory for Trump’s bullying and appalling child abuse, and another step towards his insane wall. How does Ms Pusillanimous Pelosi imagine her party is going to win the election on this pathetic showing?

Impeach the fucker!

 

Alabama: Marshae Jones, a young black woman who lost her baby after being shot in the stomach during a row with her partner, has been charged with manslaughter, as the police have determined she started the argument.

Is there any evidence anywhere that America has yet left the 17th century behind? I mean, why not just burn her as a witch?

 

“Omarosa, Omarosa, men have shamed you…”

And meanwhile, the Justice Department has perhaps rashly decided to prosecute feisty former White House aide and reality TV-show person, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, for an ethics violation.

That’s right, I know. The White House! Who’d a’ thunk it?

Although she was fired months ago by Gen. Kelly, it seems Omarosa had failed to complete her vetting form while in office, which for some reason is an offence punishable by a fine of up to $50 thousand. She says it was because she handed in paperwork that was never returned to her.

Anyone familiar with tales of the administration will know only too well, it took Jared Kushner 70 (yes, seven-zero) attempts to get his vetting form accepted, as he had “forgotten” about so many meetings with Russian and Saudi diplomats, spies and bankers that the national security agency couldn’t approve him for high-level clearance, and had to be overruled by Trump personally.

Most people at the time seemed to think Jared’s chronic – possibly even cynical – abuse of the vetting procedure should have exposed him to the statutory criminal charge carrying a maximum five years in jail. But, hey, he’s family. Besides, it’s nothing compared with his abuse of his security clearance.

Omarosa is well known for claiming to have secretly recorded conversations with Trump that she says are potentially damaging, and has released only a fraction of them to date. She hastily wrote a not very well-reviewed book about her experiences in the White House that got pretty quickly buried by events, but she’s gone quiet lately.

A public trial could provide a useful platform for her to revive her vendetta against the men who unjustly fired her, and with her testimony given in court, under oath – not quite so subject to the President’s customary tweety slanders.

Space… watch.

 

Johnson: There’s more than one? God help us.

“Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mike Hunter, is suing Johnson & Johnson for billions of dollars for its alleged part in driving addiction and overdoses in his state in the first full trial of a drug maker over the opioid epidemic.

“…the company has struggled to explain marketing strategies its accusers say dangerously misrepresented the risk of opioid addiction to doctors, manipulated medical research, and helped drive an epidemic that has claimed 400,000 lives over the past two decades.” (Observer, 23 June)

Spammers, Likers etc. of this, muh bogl will recall that we have been somewhat critical recently of remarks made by the US ambassador to the Court of St James in London, Mr Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson 1V.*

Mr Johnson, a billionaire scion of the New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson baby-powder dynasty, there’s always money to be made in bare bottoms, is on record as saying he expects the UK to accept inferior US regulatory standards, such as any still exist after two and a half years of Trump’s well-funded rollbacks, should we need to do an emergency trade deal in the wake of a not very workable Brexit.

In addition to its alleged role in the lethal epidemic of addiction to powerful painkillers, Johnson & Johnson also faces some 12 THOUSAND individual lawsuits throughout the USA, alleging that their famous baby powder has caused childhood cancers owing to talc ( a crushed volcanic rock) being a suspected carcinogen; and to the product’s being possibly cut with asbestos dust. J&J has already been ordered to pay out billions of dollars in compensation.

The company, which has denied all the accusations, claiming it has only a very small market share in Oklahoma (and therefore caused not very many deaths? Ed.), has been accused by doctors and expert witnesses of instituting a campaign of false-front “research” organizations and hiring PR agencies to gloss over the addictive properties and side-effects of opioid painkillers – Johnson owns several poppy-cultivating farms in Australia – of tampering with or selectively understating research results and using high-pressure sales tactics on GPs, providing them with false safety assurances to increase prescribing.

It should be mentioned here perhaps that Johnson & Johnson is not the only huge US Pharma corporation engaged in this filthy business. Other, similar entities are available, coming soon to a pharmacy near you.

Another report last week described how desperate Americans are travelling in convoy across the Canadian border to buy vital medication such as insulin for diabetics at prices up to ten times lower than those charged in the USA, despite Trump’s evil lies, endlessly repeated to his Nuremburg-style dumbfuck rallies, that he has already brought pharma prices down and will shortly be introducing a beautiful healthcare plan for all to replace the terrible Obamacare – something he falsely promised to do on his first day in office, what seems like a century ago.

Welcome to the NHS three years from now, Brexit dolts.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/22/johnson-and-johnson-opioids-crisis-lawsuit-latest-trial

*The words “woody” and “Johnson” are American slang for, respectively, an erection and a penis. Nevertheless they are genuinely this bloke’s names.

 

GW: And the heat goes on

27 June, and the heat is building over much of continental Europe, with temperatures already over 40C, 106F in parts of Spain and southern France, hitting 39C in Germany – June records are already tumbling and there’s another three days to go before it peaks. Most municipalities have triggered emergency measures for people to cool off. In Spain, where temperatures over 42C have been recorded, 600 soldiers and firefighters are battling a 6 thousand Ha fire near Tarragona in northern Catalonia, started by an overheating pile of shit on a chicken farm, that threatens to spread to a huge area. Homeowners have been evacuated. Update: Gallargues-le-Montueux in the Gard département hit 45.9C Friday.

Meanwhile, your Granny is trying to remain calm as the BBC puts yet another weaselly disclaimer in their news reporting, that it’s “complicated” to say if any weather event is due to global warming. Actually, we have techniques for doing that now. They go on to report that the Potsdam Institute says the last 5 years have all been the hottest in the past 500 years (which DOESN’T mean it was hotter before, it’s just they don’t have reliable records earlier, okay?). And the current European heatwave is 2C hotter and a month earlier than the last one… and the one before that. No connection, obviously. Too soon to say.

It hit 29C in my front garden this afternoon, only 85F, but I’d already taken to my bed for the duration. I may be a quarter Greek, but this new Mediterranean climate is too much for me on a liquid lunch. The secret is to keep doors and windows closed on the sunny side of your house or flat, and open them on the shady side. Update: Saturday, it’s trying to rain.

USA: A violent storm hit border areas between Tamaulipas State, Mexico and Texas, USA, from 24 June, bringing lightning strikes, strong winds and torrential rain. More than 12 inches (300mm) of rain fell in 4 hours in parts of Texas. In Mexico, the worst affected areas are in the municipality of Reynosa, where authorities say over 50 neighbourhoods were affected. Flooding damaged roads, homes and medical centres. Local media reported that at least 1 person died in the floods. (Floodlist)

Seen from a NASA satellite, Mt Raikoke erupted for the first time since 1924.

With current temperatures in northern Alaska in the mid-60s/70F, the US state up on the Arctic circle is having a problem with wildfires. A bigger problem maybe was the sudden eruption on 22 June of Mt Raikoke, a volcano in the Kuril islands, that sent an ash plume 43 thousand feet up into the stratosphere. The ash has been spreading eastwards toward Alaska and could affect flights.

In California, it’s been hot enough at the beach to cook mussels in their shells. A mass die-off is reported.

India: By contrast, the late arriving monsoon rains are reportedly weak and patchy, with the bulk of the cloud cover stuck over the Bay of Bengal. Hot, dry air is continuing to build across the north, and temperatures in sweltering Delhi have once again hit 41C, 106F. (India Today/Accuweather)

Tunnel approaching….

Fracking hell: Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York have issued results of a major meta-study, finding that “90.3 percent of all (c.1,500) original research studies published from 2016-2018 on the health impacts of fracking found a positive association with harm or potential harm.”

“There is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly and without imperiling climate stability upon which public health depends,” the Compendium states. Pregnant women and children living in fracking zones are especially at risk. The report goes on to argue that there is absolutely no merit in industry claims that fracked gas is a transition fuel, safer than oil and coal. – Common Dreams website.

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/06/19/we-need-ban-fracking-new-analysis-1500-scientific-studies-details-threat-health

Phase 4

“As the world keeps increasing its carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions, rising in 2018 to a record 33.1 billion tons of CO₂ per year (GW writes: I have seen higher figures), the atmospheric greenhouse gas level has now exceeded 560 ppm (parts per million) CO₂-equivalent, namely when methane and nitrous oxide are included. This level surpasses the stability threshold of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. The term “climate change” is thus no longer appropriate, since what is happening in the atmosphere-ocean system, accelerating over the last 70 years or so, is an abrupt calamity on a geological dimension…” – Dr Andrew Glikson

Addressing the New York City Council Committee on Environmental Protection, Dr Guy McPherson, the leading proponent of the imminent human extinction theory, informed stunned delegates that while he supports the Extinction Rebellion protests, there is in reality nothing that can now be done to prevent runaway heating to a terminal degree within a matter of years and we should consider ourselves to be in “the hospice, phase 4”.

 

Essay: Where no heads roll

A long article in ProPublica this week looks at Trump’s bluster over Iran, and his frequent claims that the Obama administration had shown weakness when two boatloads of US sailors on a supposedly secret spying mission in 2016 were captured in Iranian waters, without putting up a fight.

The Navy ordered a strike force to go rescue the men (and one woman), but the White House ordered them to hold fire.

Within 48 hours Secretary Kerry had negotiated their release, unharmed, and the famous Iran nuclear deal Trump has ridiculously torn up, which would most probably have fallen through if there had been an armed response to the incident, was able to be signed a few days later. That’s showing weakness in the Trump universe.

In fact, the mission leader had decided not to put up any resistance, partly because they had forgotten to load any ammunition for the main machine-guns, but also because he had been reading about the nuclear deal in The Economist and realized that if he had resisted it would have dragged the military into a larger conflict and probably scuppered the deal.

He got no credit for initiative, naturally. It was lucky, though, because the officers and crew had had no political briefing, and hadn’t the faintest idea what the navy’s mission in the Gulf actually was. Also they were outnumbered and outgunned, and one of the boats had broken down… Resistance would have been pretty futile.

The real background to the story, say ProPublica writers Megan Rose, Robert Faturechi, and T. Christian Miller, was the unpreparedness of the US Navy, the lack of training and basic maintenance, coupled with a culture of senior officers not wanting to be told there were problems. It could take three months just to order vital spare parts.

Three totally unsuitable shallow-draft river patrol boats were ordered on a pointless reconnaissance mission to sail over 260 miles through the Gulf and back, far outside their operating range and in 8-ft seas. The crewmens’ reservations were passed up the chain of command until they were ignored.

The journey involved a hazardous refuelling at sea, although it seems everyone was using different maps and nobody had any idea whereabouts the supply tug was supposed to meet them, where they were, or what that odd-looking island over there was. (It was Farsi Island, a forward Iranian Revolutionary Guard outpost.)

So, fearing they might run out of fuel, the mission commander decided to change course without telling anyone, so the mother ship lost track of them, and his straight-line rule unwittingly took them across Iranian territorial waters; in much the same way, it’s widely believed, the expensive drone shot down by the Iranians last weekend had in fact strayed into Iranian airspace, despite what Secretary “two lunches in a suit” Pompeo says.

Iranians are very logical, very punctilious people. They don’t make mistakes like that.

The boats were in such poor condition that the sailors had had to cannibalise one boat to get the other two working, just to get the mission started only a few hours late, and eventually the borrowed fuel pump fell off the engine of the second boat, which lost way. So they were unable to outrun the much smaller, more lightly armed Iranian inflatables.

On receiving news they were to be released, one of the American boys began crying. The perfect propaganda image went around the world. The subsequent inquiry produced a 170-page report lambasting the terrible state of preparedness of the US Navy, the lack of training, funding, and the poor leadership, so a second report was commissioned, exonerating anyone of senior rank – especially Admiral Philip Davidson, who was in overall charge of training and preparedness – and blamed the sailors and their hapless commanders instead for the shameful debacle.

And the result of that report was both entirely predictable and deeply concerning, revealing as it did a culture of management incompetence, laziness and cronyism at the highest levels. Because nothing much has been done to improve things since. So despite Trump’s $69 billion dollar gift in 2017 to the military budget, now heading for a trillion dollars a year, the mighty US Navy is a lame duck fighting force.

The authors write:

“In 2017, the year following the Farsi Island incident, there were four major collisions in the western Pacific. The worst involved the USS Fitzgerald and the USS McCain, which each collided with cargo ships, leaving 17 sailors dead.

“Davidson, still in charge of manning and training, was tapped to help assess the significance of the collisions. He found that manning shortages and poor training factored in both. Admirals, officers and sailors were held to account.

“Davidson, though, was soon promoted and now holds one of the most coveted positions in the American military as head of the Indo-Pacific Command, in charge of all military branches in the region.”

We had an expression for it at my school: a “useless shag”. This overpromoted, useless shag – or so he seems – would be in charge of the coming war with China.

Norman Dixon’s brilliant book, On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, recounted the dreadful sagas of men let down in combat by self-serving idiots, most of whom were eventually promoted out of harm’s way, if they had not managed to get themselves and everybody else killed.

We recently celebrated Colonel Dyer’s great 1919 victory over a protest rally by unarmed Sikh women and children, unable to escape from a walled enclosure in Amritsar; turning his machine-guns on them, slaughtering close to a thousand, a heroic action for which he received promotion to General.

And we’re reminded by a new TV series of that great anti-war book by Joseph Heller, Catch-22, which brutally satirised the venality and incompetence of the officer class in the US Airforce. It got a lot of young men killed unnecessarily. Sure, they can’t all be like that.

My own experience was briefly as a civilian contractor to the Royal Air Force’s veterans’ charity.

Briefed to create an appeal to raise £5 million, my agency were stymied at every turn by one particular officer, a man incidentally who bore an uncanny facial resemblance to Admiral Davidson, which is why I recall the story. He’d been promoted, literally on “Buggins’ Turn”, to manage the charity fundraiser, despite having no relevant experience.

This guy, lazy, dishonest and incompetent, who had only ever previously run a military stores, and we can imagine how that went, threw every possible objection and obstacle in our path – it turned out, as one by one we ominously achieved the silly targets he was setting us on the way – to avoid making extra work for the people in his department and, by extension, himself.

Eventually, without a leg to stand on, we were doing so well he simply ordered us to stop what we were doing, shutdown the project on his own authority, and that was that.

As a result the appeal fell way short, and the charity went bust a year later.

But he was protected by the code – even his superiors, with whom we had been liaising throughout, could not or would not intervene to get him out of our way. Protocol, old man. The service would rather its veterans had no support, than that they should break ranks with a fellow officer to side with a civilian contractor.

You wonder how in the hell we beat the Germans. But Hitler, of course, had the solution to the problem: unsuccessful or disloyal generals were just shot. (It saved on the pensions….)

The prospects for a new war in the Gulf look somewhat bleak. Once the buildup starts, it’s going to be difficult to stop. Sheer weight and expense of US arms will no doubt prevail, the popguns are bigger, but the blunders and shirking of responsibility for them will inevitably go on, the ships will be sunk, the marines will go left when they should have gone right, the civilians will be massacred, history will later be rewritten, and no heads will roll.

 

Time to despair… Sorry mate, you’re talkin’ foreign. Ph what?… Sunk like a Stone… GW: underwater climate news (and overground too…)

Time to despair

We’re all aware, aren’t we, of the strenuous efforts made by oil and gas and coal extractors over the decades to shut down and twist debate on their own research findings that burning their products on a vast scale is causing the planet to overheat dangerously, by promoting false narratives and sponsoring willing deniers.

A new polemic from George Monbiot writing in The Guardian today, for instance, reveals that while many environmentalists are cosying up with apparent gratitude to the Shell oil and gas company for diverting $300 million to reforestation and other climate-change mitigation schemes, they are at the same time spending $25 billion on exploring for and exploiting new oil and gas reserves that must, according to scientists, absolutely be left in the ground if we are to stand any chance of avoiding an extinction-level event this century.

When that event – more of a process – might happen is still unfortunately for the scientists a matter for some conjecture, as they are not in the chicken-entrails business. Some indeed fear it could be within the next decade if certain feedbacks already observed start to accelerate out of control.

So, I feel we really need to despair more, as it’s not only the fossil-fuel energy corporations that are still cynically denying the evidence of their own research in the name of shareholder greed and even ramping up their output, knowing perfectly well the murderous, ecocidal effect it’s having on our oceans and atmosphere.

Led by their example, despite international accords the governments of increasing numbers of oil-and-gas producing countries are following suit, so that there is now realistically zero possibility of achieving goals and targets set out in recent agreements, feeble though they have been.

A BBC series that concluded last week investigated the plastics industry, which depends on oil and gas for its feedstocks, and found that producers expect to double the global use of plastics in the next ten years; while at the same time doing little or nothing to mitigate the effects both of greenhouse gas emissions from its production and of pollution, both by plastics waste and by nanoplastics particles we (and by extension every other species on the planet) are eating, drinking and breathing all the time, whose health effects are as yet unknown.

While, BBC News today reports on the upcoming G20 summit in Japan that the climate emergency rates barely a mention.

“A draft of the closing communiqué mentions climate change as just one issue among many and omits to use the phrases ‘global warming’ and ‘decarbonisation’. Critics believe that Japan is trying hard to win favour with the US on trade issues by downplaying the scale of the climate question and possible solutions to it.”

Yes, that’s the same Japan that has endured anomalous heatwaves for the last few years, that have been killing their citizens by the hundred. And days of tumultuous rain last week that led to deaths and a million people having to be evacuated on Kyushu, for the second year running. The lives of ordinary Japanese are as nothing, compared with Premier Abe’s pathetic sucking-up to the corrupt*, degenerate old monster in the White House; and the exigencies of “trade”.

The same BBC report says, too, that countries such as Saudi Barbaria – how many of those lazy Arabs have in the past two centuries made any contribution from their artificially created “kingdom” to world peace, science, art, agriculture, music, philosophy? How many Nobel prizewinners have they produced? They live their worthless, gluttonous lives on free money from the ground and get indentured Pakistani labor to do all the work – are holdouts against even last year’s pretty anodyne warnings from the IPCC, refusing to endorse the conclusions of the report.

But neither can the supposedly Green EU agree on future emissions targets, in the face of atavistic opposition from the coal burning, rutted feudal demesnes in the east.

There is nothing really left to say.

No-one in their right mind seriously believes the crisis is not real. But as politics is showing across the world, magical thinking has taken over; a form of reckless, Devil-take-the-hindmost hysteria infects the ruling elites. I suppose we can take heart from another narrow electoral victory of the center-left, this time in Denmark, from the growing popular protests against government inaction on the issue, and from the progressive wing of the hopelessly divided Democrats in the USA.

But it’s really not enough, and it’s already way too late.

It’s a good thing too, if true, that the UK of all countries, where the crisis began 270-odd years ago, has reached the point where almost half of our annual energy production comes from renewables; while outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May has promised – not that she will be around to deliver – a commitment to a zero-carbon economy by 2050.

But as the CO2-equivalent atmospheric burden of heating gases passes 562 ppm, these small gains are massively offset by the insane rush of other, much larger nations to industrialize on a broken, 20th-century model that threatens the future of all life on earth. And nothing, it appears, not even the massive economic cost of climate breakdown already being felt (see below and numerous GW diaries passim), is going to stop them.

*the latest example of Trump’s corruption: his Environmental Protection Agency is expected shortly to be licensing a controversial mining project in Minnesota to a company owned by a billionaire Chilean businessman who just happens to be the landlord of the rented $4.5 million mansion where Jared Kushner, wife Ivanka Trump and their brood live when they are in Washington.

Ethics violations? Breaches of the emoluments clause – profiting from office? Conflicts of interest? Not a bit of it, we’re the Trump gang, he’s the president, we can do whatever the fuck we like, and no-one can stop us!

 

Sorry, mate, you’re talkin’ foreign. Ph what?

A leading UN organization, UNESCO has joined other international institutions in saying it will no longer support conferences in the UK because of the blatantly racist policy of the Home Office to deny temporary visas to so many visiting academics from black and asian backgrounds, that it makes organizing events an unacceptable financial risk.

At least, racism is the interpretation one has to put on the numbers of University-accredited and fully funded delegates, with families back at home, who are being told, with no appeal, and despite being able to show their invitations and name their sponsors – no, mate, you can’t come in here because we believe you intend not to return home and you don’t have the resources to support yourself.

The quasi-fascist policy has led to some truly horrendous gaffes, such as the conference on International Development sponsored by members of the UK Parliament having to be cancelled because so many overseas delegates were refused visas.

Clearly, only the natives should be discussing International Development. It’s our money, after all. And we know what’s best for you.

Is it a deliberate act of self-sabotage, I wonder? Because if it weren’t so serious it would be a huge joke, wouldn’t it? Assuming that BEM visitors can’t possibly be academics on their way to a conference, I mean. Because of their color. Or perhaps it’s just the uneducated stupidity of Border officials failing to understand the meaning and purpose of an academic conference or exchange visit, and the paperwork involved.

But it looks more and more to me like Little Britain pulling up the drawbridge.

The no-visas approach has been adopted by a Home Office that is clearly out of control: dysfunctional, authoritarian, administratively incompetent, racially biased and certainly not fit for purpose. Its spokesmouth responded predictably to complaints from serious quarters about the no-visas policy by saying, in its inimitable, tongue-in-cheek, “Yes, Minister” style: “We welcome international academics and recognise their contribution to the UK’s world-leading education sector.”

Clearly, no, they don’t. Because they’re not part of it. So they’re destroying it.

Alison Phipps, UNESCO lead on refugee integration, was quoted as saying:

“It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money and given the irresponsibility and erratic nature of UKVI decision-making, it’s the number one item on my risk register and we cannot, with any integrity, allow that kind of finance risk to the projects.”

Phipps, reports The Guardian, is particularly frustrated by the refusal of the Home Office to issue visitor visas to academics taking part in the government’s own Global Challenges Research Fund – a five-year, £1.5bn fund that uses UK aid money for research on intractable global challenges.

“The fund’s purpose is to hire and pay overseas academics to work with the UK on a range of government-funded projects,” said Phipps. “But even though we’re using the government’s money for exactly the purpose we’ve been given it, academics we sponsor are being turned down with no appeal rights.”

The Home Office has obviously gone rogue when its nationalistic, isolationist, Kafkaesque policies are working against the government’s own intentions. But the government itself is in total disarray and cannot be expected to sort out problems like this one. The Secretary of State has been far too busy with his failed bid to be selected to lead the party, to actually do his job. The actual Prime Minister is a ghost, haunting No. 10 until that fatuous Old Etonian nincompoop moves in with his soon-to-be ex-bit of totty.

(That’s a doomed relationship if ever I saw one – and I’ve had a few. Party girl meets midlife crisis? Forget it!)

It is as if Sajid Javid, first-generation-born son of immigrants from Pakistan, son of a bus driver, is so ashamed of his lowly origins, so hates who he is, that he has been instructing his Home Office officials to go in hard on anyone black or brown since, obviously, they can’t be bona fide academics, living as they do in mud huts and up trees. Just more illegal immigrants, takin’ the piss.

What are the fans going to think, when global football stars are being denied visas to play for their beloved clubs, I wonder? Musicians from other countries, including America, are already refusing to tour in Britain because of difficulty with visas. And still nothing has been set in stone, as regards EU citizens’ residency rights post-Brexit. People are still being wrongly interned or deported, or denied access to employment, housing rentals and health services they’ve been entitled to for decades.

It’s bad enough that the number one worry of UK universities is that Brexit will virtually end exchanges with European researchers and turn off the lucrative tap of foreign students, especially from China and the Indian subcontinent, already turning to the USA and Australia for their degrees rather than suffer at the hands, both of the Home Office and of our home-grown racist street-thugs. It’s getting harder to tell the difference.

But it’ll be great, won’t it, when the whole of white Britain can finally dumb itself down to the level of the daytime TV morons who voted for this omnishambles and who still refuse to understand what it is they’ve done because, well, “there’s more of us than you so we won’t be told”.

Great, when the feckless oaf, Boris Johnson, the domestic abuser and prime narcissist, a man who treats women like internet trolls use Kleenex – who apparently declines to practise safe sex or self-control – and who couldn’t even manage the job of Foreign Secretary without constantly putting his size-12s in it, becomes Prime Minister next month, and the role model for every gormless prat in the country.

I’m 70 this year, I don’t have many years left on the rockpile. Why, dear God, do I have to spend them trapped in a rotting prison hulk moored in mid-Atlantic with this bunch of useless bastards carousing on the bridge?

 

“All our Buddha’s are made by us using the best materials available.”

Tell me, what is wrong with this commercial announcement? (Yes, I’m looking for a large stone Buddha head for my little garden. I’ve actually found one, my local garden centre sells quite nice ones, only the staff are not allowed to lift them, for reasons of Health & Safety, one gathers, which might explain why they don’t appear to have sold any.)

There, their dear: some pointers for trolls

I’m rapidly going bald, reading too many readers’ comments beneath articles written by journalists who, if not always right about things, and lacking the professional eye of a subeditor, that extinct species, so that mistakes often of omission of entire words are becoming increasingly common, are nevertheless qualified to set down coherent thoughts in writing.

But you seldom find a misplaced apostrophe in the Washington Post, or the New York Times.

For fuck’s sake, morons, what makes you think your crapulous opinions can possibly carry any weight if you can’t even put an apostrophe in the right place? I’m tearing my goddam hair out. It just goes on getting worse.

It’s its! ITS!! That’s if the subject belongs or attaches to something neutral, an object, a statement, it’s its! If you wish to abbreviate “it is”, which is good practice in writing, then it’s it’s. Got it? If you wish to abbreviate can not, it’s can’t. Will not = won’t. Should not = shouldn’t. And if you’re trying to say something belongs to it, then it’s its.

Christ on a BMX, it’s not that difficult, surely?

(A longer version of this article will appear somewhere, maybe next week.)

 

Donald Trump’s bill to the US taxpayer for his 3-day weekend golfing trips has now topped $106.9 million since he took office in January 2017. Twenty-one per cent of his time as president – 186 days – has been spent on the golf course. (Farron Cousins/TYT). Mr Trump has claimed he works harder than any president in history.

 

Sunk like a Stone

Collectors of gems should hie themselves to an obituary in The Guardian, 25 June, of the historian Norman Stone, who has – probably mercifully, by the account – died at the age of 78.

It does seem something of a miracle he lasted so long.

It’s not done to speak ill of the dead; except that nowadays it is, and all the more fun for that. Although I’m not sure what Stone’s three sons will make of Prof. Richard Evans’ cooler than cool appraisal of their wayward dad.

I wonder actually what my own kids might make of my record? Not being in the slightest bit famous – or notorious – I guess I’ll just have to self-obituarize. I can be quite excoriating about myself, if it helps. I’m only intermittently a nice, kindly bloke with an optimistic outlook and a good word to say about anyone. I try to be unpleasant and kind on alternate days; balance being all, to a Libra. But – this bogl apart – I’m not the most communicative person you’ll never reach on the phone.

Though a minor celebrity Stone, Evans reckons, was a fairly lousy, lazy historian who got by mostly on one good book, a ton of literary flair and flashes of personal charm. I can relate to that, I relentlessly sent up the A-level exam questions as I’d done no revision, let alone prior work, yet managed somehow to get an A in History, presumably A for Amusement. Marking is such a chore. My teachers were not amused, however and it took the precocious gift of a bottle of whisky to placate my form master, who had written me off entirely.

Glasgow-born Stone, fee-paying-educated on an airforce scholarship granted after the death of his father in a training accident, also Norman, managed to get into Cambridge. London-born me didn’t, so there we part ways. And from there, like the Duke of Wellington, when he was up, he was up… you know the rest.

Evans – regius professor of history at the University of Cambridge, president of Wolfson College, Cambridge and Fellow of the British Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences – starts as he means to go on:

“One of the specialities of the historian Norman Stone, who has died aged 78, was character assassination.”

And goes on brilliantly to assassinate Stone in almost every paragraph; although if the accounts are true, Stone didn’t need much assassinating; at least, not in the literary sense. His morose drinking habit was enough to kill most people off, but apparently not whatever he had come to detest in himself.

“At a time when malice and rudeness were highly prized by some rightwing Cambridge dons, Stone outdid them all in the abuse he hurled at anyone he disapproved of…”

One wonders, though, how seriously he took his habit of using his modest academic platform to hurl invective at real politicians? His blasting of Ted Heath as “a flabby-faced coward” was, incidentally, plagiarism: Private Eye magazine had been successfully sued some years earlier for using the same flame-thrower on Tory Chancellor, Reginald Maudling.

Evans lovingly details how, following the publication of his well-received (if, in Evans’ opinion, somewhat Edwardian) magnum opus on “The Eastern Front, 1914-17”, Stone then subsided into a career marked by the publication of a succession of poorly researched potboilers. Having been an editor of history books, I am aware of the notion that infects publishers’ marketing departments that the mere mention of the name Hitler in a title will increase sales by 15 per cent. Needs must.

Posted by a relieved Cambridge establishment over to Oxford where, with the help of a doubtless polished reference from Sir Geoffrey Elton, he became Professor of Modern History, it seems Stone hardly ever turned up to work, frequently expressing his total contempt for his colleagues, all of whom he dismissed as “Marxists”.

“As a teacher Stone could be inspiring, often winning over his pupils with his charm, which on occasion could be quite considerable, but he became increasingly undisciplined, neglecting his duties, and spending increasing amounts of time playing poker and drinking himself into oblivion in Soho. … On the occasions when he did appear in Oxford to do some teaching, Stone became notorious for groping his female students … and annoyed Worcester College by sub-letting his rooms to make a bit of extra money. “

You kind of warm to him.

Eventually sacked, his considerable language skills came to his rescue, and having briefly been an advisor to Margaret Thatcher, who ignored his perfectly sensible view of the reunification of Germany – she saw it as a threat – but also generously ignored the occasion on which, pissed, he passed out in her presence, his career gently declined with a succession of middle-European academic postings, supported by increasingly rightwing views – he was a fan of the embryonic dictator, Viktor Orban.

There’s a little resonance there too. My father had been a “Soho rat” in the war years and after: an actor, director, globetrotting TV reporter and documentarist who self-exiled ino France for the last 30 years of his life, where he posed as an intellectual admirer of the rank, anti-semitic ultranationalist, Jean-Marie le Pen; whom he found personally charming. I don’t think it meant anything, quite honestly, it was mostly for show: he had run unsuccessfully as Liberal candidate for Twickenham in 1964, inspired after interviewing Jo Grimond.

Evans’ obituary of Stone ends on an unnecessary note of rancour, quoting a Trumpian rejoinder from Heath:

“Many parents of Oxford students must be both horrified and disgusted that the higher education of our children should rest in the hands of such a man.”

Must they, Sir Edward? It must be a comfort, knowing what people nowadays think of your Prime Ministership. And now you two lovebirds can discuss it together.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/25/norman-stone-obituary

 

GW: underwater climate news (and overground too…)

France: Dozens of people have been evacuated in northern France after thunderstorms and torrential rain caused flooding and mudslides on 24 June. A month’s worth of rain fell in 6 hours. Severe flooding and mudslides were reported in Lisieux, where streets were under 1.5 metres of water. Cars were swept away, schools and roads closed. The Le Cirieux river broke its banks, flooding the village of Malicorne. Local fire crews responded to over 150 incidents. The train line between Paris and Caen was closed by a mudslide. (From Floodlist)

Meanwhile, as heat starts to build from the so-called Spanish Plume (actually it’s coming up from North Africa), Météo-France is predicting peaks of 45C (113F) in the southern towns of Nîmes and Carpentras by Friday. That would be almost 4C hotter than the notorious 2003 heatwave, that killed 70,000 people across Europe. And that was in August, not June.

Wunderground adds: “Wildfire danger is predicted to steadily increase during the week, reaching the “Extreme” level by the weekend over portions of France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Poland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. The European Union is already well above recent norms for hectares burned & number of fires ignited in 2019.”

While, the WHO warns: “Heatwaves occurring early in the summer have been shown to be associated with greater impacts on mortality in the same population than later heatwaves of comparable or higher temperatures.” Something to do with adjustment. And watch out for Saharan dust, warns Severe-weather.eu, there’ll be a lot of it blowing about.

UK: Hours of heavy rain on 24 June caused flash flooding in Scotland’s capital Edinburgh and other parts of the country. Firefighters worked throughout East and Central Scotland to protect communities and property as torrential rain caused widespread localised flooding. In Edinburgh, tram services were temporarily suspended after flood water covered tracks. According to the Met Office, Edinburgh saw 44.4mm of rain in 24 hours. 14 people were rescued from a flooded building in Stirling. (From Floodlist)

Balkans: Croatia and Serbia were both hit on 23 June by extensive flooding. Rivers broke their banks. In Croatia houses were flooded, roads were blocked and crops and farmland damaged. Fire crews carried out over 60 interventions, pumping water or clearing flood debris. While areas of the Serbian capital, Belgrade, saw over 100mm of rain fall in less than 2 hours, the equivalent of more than a month’s worth of rain. Images on Social media showed swamped roads and stranded cars along streets of the capital. (From Floodlist)

Poland: “The interior ministry said 90 people have drowned so far this month trying to cool off in lakes or rivers, and in Lithuania 27 people were reported to have died in similar circumstances as temperatures in the Baltic state soared above 35C. In Germany (38.5C) officials imposed a 120km/h speed limit on stretches of the Saxony-Anhalt autobahn as the road surface began to deteriorate, while rail tracks buckled near Rostock on the Baltic Sea. With temperatures in Italy forecast to hit 40C, charities were preparing to distribute 10,000 bottles of free water, while 33 of Spain’s 50 provinces will be facing record-breaking temperatures, which could reach 44C by the weekend. (Guardian)

Columbia: 2 people have been killed and several are injured or missing after deadly landslides cut the highway between Florencia and Nueva, in Huila province Sunday. Again, heavy rainfall is to blame; orange alerts are out for rising river levels. (Floodlist)

Ecuador: “Severe flooding and landslides have affected central areas of the country since 20 June. At least one person has died, 1 is missing, 1 injured and 145 evacuated due to landslides and floods. Rivers broke their banks. The heavy rain also caused a landslide in Río Blanco which destroyed at least 4 houses. Three bridges were destroyed and several roads damaged. Several communities (have been) cut-off since 21 June. Local authorities have declared a state of emergency.

Australia: It’s not unheard of for nighttime temperatures to drop below freezing in the desert, and this winter has generally seen high pressure bringing cold nights to Alice Springs, where residents’ lawn sprinklers have produced pretty shows of icicles. However, my earlier point about subeditors being an extinct species is born out by this fascinating sentence in the report of “Ice cold in Alex” (my title. It was a movie!) on Sky news.au:

“In winter, this process is exacerbated by the sub bing far too the north and therefore less heat reaching the found.”

I think we can loosely translate that as “it’s colder where it’s not sunny”. Vital science information… My friend Harry has just seen his granddaughter off to her new life as a lawyer in Australia… Doesn’t look like she’ll have too much trouble getting on there.

Tunnel approaching…

Brace for impact: The Taurid Resonant Swarm is an occasional encounter the Earth has with a cluster of meteors in orbit around Jupiter that arrives every few years at the end of June along with the Taurid shower – a twice-yearly phenomenon that normally produces no more than a pretty display of shooting stars – not that we’ll see them here as the forecast this week is for cloud cover thick enough to reach 30 thousand feet, where the commercial jets fly.

Severe-weather.eu writes: “there are some seriously big space rocks in there. In 1975 seismographs on the Moon left by the Apollo mission astronauts, detected a flurry of seismic activity, most likely caused by large Taurid meteoroids impacting the Lunar surface. The last big encounter with the Taurid swarm was in 2015. In the last days of October and first two weeks of November, bright fireballs from the Taurid stream were noted across the world, many lighting up the sky brighter than the Moon!”

Typically, the Swarm produces rocks from 1 to 3m in diameter, but in 1908 one 50m across flattened a large part of Siberia and a few up to several hundreds of meters, big enough to have astronomical numbers and create an extinction event, are embedded within the swarm. As the bigger stuff is blackened with soot, astronomers may not see them approaching until it’s too late to send Bruce Willis up with a nuclear bomb. Happily, it’s only necessary to paint an asteroid white on one side to get it to change course.

Telling it like it is: “The world is increasingly at risk of “climate apartheid”, where the rich pay to escape heat and hunger caused by the escalating climate crisis while the rest of the world suffers, a report from a UN human rights expert has said. Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the impacts of global heating are likely to undermine not only basic rights to life, water, food, and housing for hundreds of millions of people, but also democracy and the rule of law.” (Guardian report)

Insectaggeddon: Perhaps due to the mild, wet winter there seems to be something of a minor revival in insect populations this year where I live, especially flies. I tried to keep a few alive during the winter, fearing the worst. I’m actually starting to find them quite annoying again.

I’m watching a tiny, golden wasp, less than half an inch long. It is burrowing into a hole in the ground, through the dirt between the concrete flagstones of the patio. I notice there are several holes, with little mounds. Is it hunting ants, their eggs maybe, or is it a wasp that lives in holes in the ground?

I have no idea, so I look it up. It may be a Sphex wasp, of which there are 150 species. Who knew? They are harmless and prey on aphids, of which we have a glut again this year, infesting an annoying Elderflower tree growing through my amazing privet hedge. I would cut it down, but now I know the tiny wasps eat blackfly, I’ll leave them to their lunch.

 

 

Johnson’s Victorian values… Making a difference… Johnson: There’s more than one? God help us…. Seen paper… How many lives is your job worth?… GW: Every cloud has a shiny lining… This week’s BogPo assumes proportions.

World of Stupid:

“…Obama had somebody that kept the rates very low. I had somebody that raised the rates very rapidly. Too much. He made a mistake. That’s been proven. And yet my economy is phenomenal.”

– er… Donald Trump, of course, denying that he has several times talked about firing Jerome Powell, the head of the Federal Reserve bank, for mistakenly presiding over Trump’s phenomenal economy.

Missile batteries in Iran

Amazon displays its new Primed, next-minute delivery service.

 

“Is this Nick Cotton character from the BBC’s East Enders soap, the morally bankrupt, sexually incontinent, lying reprobate – an obvious security risk, incidentally – about to become our next Prime Minister? This fucking country should hang its head in shame.”

Johnson’s Victorian values

Police initially denied the story, but then admitted to journalists, they were called to the scene of a violent domestic “altercation” by alarmed neighbours in the early hours of 21 June but left after no complaint was made and assurances were given of the woman’s safety.

“The neighbours said they recorded the altercation from inside their flat out of concern for (his much younger girlfriend, Carrie) Symonds. On the recording, heard by the Guardian, Johnson can be heard refusing to leave the flat and telling Symonds to “get off my fucking laptop” before there is a loud crashing noise.

“Symonds is heard saying Johnson had ruined a sofa with red wine: “You just don’t care for anything because you’re spoilt. You have no care for money or anything.” The neighbour said: “There was a smashing sound of what sounded like plates. There were a couple of very loud screams that I’m certain were Carrie and she was shouting to ‘get out’ a lot. She was saying ‘get (off me…) get out of my flat’ and he was saying no.* And then there was silence….”

(*A criminal offence.)

Johnson, 54, who earns over a quarter of a million pounds a year from writing a crapulous weekly column in The Telegraph, did the dirty once too often on Marina, his long-suffering barrister wife and mother of at least four of his kids, after a turbulent marriage, rendering himself temporarily homeless, and moved in on Carrie Symonds, 31, a vivacious Tory party spin doctor. In recent weeks, reported The Guardian, the “couple” have been sharing a flat in a converted Victorian house in Camberwell. “It has been reported that they intend to move into Downing Street together if he is elected leader.”

I’ll bet. Will he have paid his numerous unpaid parking tickets by then?

I have been unable to find a single report this morning that does not refer to Ms Symonds’ flat, where Johnson has been sofa-surfing since being booted out by his wife, as “Boris Johnson’s home”. If that were true, refusing to desist from a violent assault and leaving when requested would probably not amount to the criminal offence Johnson would have committed if Ms Symonds had decided – or felt free – to press charges.

But it is not true. It is, legally, her home. She has a right to evict him. This was not “a row”, I know what rows are like, my parents indulged in enough of them when I was very young, plates and all. It was not an “altercation”, a “barney”, a “bundle” or a “tiff”. “Get off me… get out, get out of my flat” is not a fucking tiff, not at 2 a.m.

And to this hour, not one of The Guardian‘s formidable battery of feminist columnistas has seen fit – or been allowed – to comment.* Thus are drunken and feckless domestic abusers enabled.

The Guardian‘s Marina Hyde commented wryly – before the news that the superficially charming, overentitled, slightly disgraced ex-Foreign Minister is a domestic abuser came out – that no-one actually knows how many children our next Prime Minister has sired.

Why will no-one call this out for what it is?

Is this Nick Cotton character from the BBC’s East Enders soap, the morally bankrupt, sexually incontinent, lying reprobate – an obvious security risk, incidentally – about to become our next Prime Minister? This fucking country should hang its head in shame.

But there will be those who go on defending him. Oh, they will say, he’s just being Boris.

Yes, quite.

Tory men, eh? The incident follows another in which bulging-eyed, puce-faced patrician MP, Mark Field, also 54, was filmed grabbing a young woman by the neck, slamming her into a pillar and then hustling her out of the dining hall at the Mansion House, after she had taken part in a peaceful protest organised by Greenpeace to alert the country’s hogswilling financial elite to the climate crisis.

Gammon and go… Mark Field MP takes charge.

His excuse? He feared she might be armed! No suggestion he was awash with Treasury claret. Quite rightly, he has been suspended from his minor Foreign Office ministerial job while police investigate. Nothing whatever will come of it, of course. These squirearchical public-school bullies are the masters of the universe whom empire-fantasizing Leave dimwits and Tory wives crave to put in authority.

They are the ugly, abusive, patronizing, autocratic, self-serving elites – the gammon-faced men of power – who rule the country as they rule the home and the little woman, and are planning to profit from dragging us out of the EU without a deal, breaking up our remaining public institutions to enable themselves and their pals to derive “value” from them; just as they will benefit from deregulation and the ultimate rape of the environment.

But not just in this country.

“When they reached the dressing rooms, she said Trump shoved her against the wall, pulled down her tights and “forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me.” New York magazine confirmed that Carroll told two friends about the incident after it happened.”

Journalist and Elle advice columnist E Jean Carroll recounts an incident more than two decades ago in which Donald Trump, then a failing playboy real-estate executive living on Daddy’s money, allegedly assaulted her in a dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store. The White House’s predictable reaction? “She’s making it up to discredit the president. Why did she not report it at the time? And look, she’s got a book out!”

A familiar theme taken up by dozens of useless little Trump-enabling scrotes and other illiterate, piss-stained-sofa-dwelling mouth-breathers in comments on the magazine’s website.

Do you know what Trump does to women who report his attempted rapes, little trolls? Of course you don’t. Carroll is one of around 20 women who have confirmed what Trump once boasted, that he just grabs any woman he wants, whenever he wants, and starts in on them because he’s famous and they love it.

You see, he has ADMITTED on tape that he does this. There have been actual witnesses to his behind-the-scenes behavior on his tacky TV show, at his rigged “beauty” contests. His verified lie count while in office is even now as I write passing 10,800, but still, no, it’s the women who are lying, always.

And all of them coming forward to report the assaults have been threatened by his thuggish fixers with multi-million-dollar life- and career-wrecking lawsuits and worse, beatings, death threats, threats to their families – meeting a barrage of vile abuse from his worshipful dumbfucks. Just look what he did to Dr Blasey Ford, to get his pet dog Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court.

Enough with the lies. His atrocious presidency has to end, now. He is not a figure of fun, but of slimy menace. He is not innocent of the dozens of crimes he is accused of committing, not any of them. He even boasts like a 1920s Chicago mobster about his inviolability: one of the Untouchables; the law in his pocket.

He needs to join his pal Manafort in Ryker’s Island. Get him on a charge of wearing absurdly long ties. Anything.

*Sunday brings a matronly rebuke and some concern from Polly Toynbee. “A loose cannon” is not, in my view, a domestic abuser, or a threat to the security of the nation – as domestic abusers fired from the Trump regime are regarded, hence the firings. But she’s right in saying, the Brexit fanatics on the right of the disintegrating Tory party don’t care what pile of human dog-crap they elect as long as he restores the British empire and the Voice of the Thatcher is once again heard in the land.

 

“The government went to federal court this week to argue that it shouldn’t be required to give detained migrant children toothbrushes, soap, towels, showers or even half a night’s sleep inside Border Patrol detention facilities.” – US judges, appalled by descriptions of children made to sleep in cages on concrete floors, under only an aluminum sheet, rejected the argument. (TYT)

 

Making a difference

20 June: The Bank of England has warned that economic growth in Britain could grind to a halt during the second quarter amid mounting risks to the economy from a no-deal Brexit. Sounding the alarm as its nine-member monetary policy committee (MPC) voted unanimously to leave interest rates on hold at 0.75%, the central bank said the lack of resolution was weighing on growth.

11 June: Deputy governor, Ben Broadbent, … backed comments made by the Bank’s chief economist, Andy Haldane … (that) the time was nearing for a rate rise to nip inflation pressure in the bud, while (another MPC member) Saunders said Brexit uncertainty was not a reason to delay rate rises. (Guardian)

Does anyone in authority know what the fuck they are talking about any longer? Or must we assume that the difference between 11 and 20 June, is called Boris Watermelon Piccaninny, etc. Johnson?

 

 

Seen paper

“The rules governing exam security are detailed and rigorous. Papers are kept in sealed packets and delivered by courier to exam centres where they have to be signed for, with the date and time of receipt recorded. They then have to be immediately locked in a secure room solely assigned to exams, ideally without windows and on an upper floor.”

So says the Observer today, reporting on how police are looking into the leak online of a page of this year’s GCSE Religious Studies paper; following last week’s story about the leak of Edexcel’s A-Level Statistics math paper.

Ha ha ha! As I bogled just the other day, I work from time to time in a university. We frequently find the wrong exam papers among those we hand out – not in any way sealed or locked in windowless upstairs rooms. Papers not due for distribution until the next day, even the next week.

I’m obviously missing a potential revenue stream.

 

How many lives is your job worth?

How many people would you be willing to kill, if it meant you had a job? Given, that is, that it might not be the only job you can get or know how to do, but it’s the only one you’ve got?

Five? 10? 50? 298? What’s the price of your job, measured in human lives?

It seems these tradeoffs are increasingly a part of the realpolitik of our global economy.

You might say, well, my family has to eat. True, but so do the families of the people you would happily rather see die, than you get on your bike and look for another job. Never mind, you don’t actually have to care about them, they’re strangers. Quite a few were foreigners. Anyway, they’re already dead. And you’re not.

There’s the 93-year-old Prime Minister of Malaysia. He’s almost dead, but sadly not quite. A pretty rackety old character, always was, he’s just got his old job back because his predecessor is up on charges related to the embezzlement of a $4.5 billion dollar sovereign wealth fund. These politicians, eh? What are they like.

And when confronted after two years with the painstakingly investigated evidence of Russian collusion in the shooting down of one of your country’s commercial passenger aircraft with a Russian ground-to-air missile fired by a loose combatant in a local insurgency on the ground, Mr Racketeer – sorry, Makateer – given the rock-solid evidence, what is your response?

Stuff and nonsense! There’s no evidence our plane was shot down by a reckless Ukrainian idiot using a Russian missile, it’s just made up. Typical of the UN to blame Russia for everything.

298 corpses, including many children and some Newcastle United fans, groan and turn over in their eternal sleep.

Meanwhile, it’s being suggested that Mr Racket… sorry, Makateer, might be anxious about a trade deal. You see, his country has invested lots in cutting down all its pristine forests to plant more palms for their oil, but the UN doesn’t like that on environmental grounds and wants to ban at least some of the trade, so you did a deal with Russia, didn’t you.

So much death and devastation. Humans, trees – which in turn means more dead humans. But it keeps the money rolling in. And what’s your cut of that, Mr Rac… sorry, Makateer, you decrepit old fuck?

But why stop there?

“Donald Trump has dismissed a United Nations request for the FBI to investigate the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, suggesting it would jeopardise American weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.”

Well, let’s discount my colleague, The Pumpkin’s theory that Trump is defending Mohammed bin-Salman because it was his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who leaked top-security CIA files on dissidents to his Saudi pal in exchange for his co-operation in shaking down the Qatari government to bail out a failed property deal. It’s just too… well, out there.

Let’s take him at face value.

Somehow, Trump has got it into whatever organic matter still sits like a blob of melted icecream in a tragically small puddle at the bottom of that pouting orange cranium that he has done $400 million worth of arms deals with Saudi Barbaria, that will be at risk if he dares to criticize the Crown Prince, who has presided over a devastating war against neighbouring Yemen.

Of course it won’t, but that’s what he says he thinks.

The true figure is actually $14 billion, and that’s not contracts, it’s just letters of intent. But as long as American jobs possibly might depend on doing bidness with one of the most foul, corrupt and repressive families on the planet, and it’s coming up election year, let the slaughter begin.

And here we are in Britain, also depending for the sake of the entire nation on selling training jets (who are they kidding? Ed.) and first-aid kits or whatever to the Barbarians, who have shown that despite all these beautiful, shiny weapons we sell them, they’re not actually all that good at defeating a few rebel tribesmen trying to overthrow a corrupt regime, and find it easier to target civilian women and children, schools and hospitals instead.

Trade deals are more vital than ever, now the government is so completely committed to destroying tens of thousands of jobs by leaving the most successful trading alliance since – I don’t know, the Hanseatic League? and doing dozens of ad hoc deals under less favorable WTO rules with rapacious countries who can see us coming a mile away.

So no, say many mutton-faced Tories, many gammon-faces, many bloviating blowhards from the hang-em, flog-em shires, many throttlers and abusers of women, no, we’re not going to take the slightest notice of this pansy High Court ruling that we’re breaking many laws by flogging this stuff to our murderous little oil-rich pals in the desert kingdom we created, our pet sponsors of terrorism.

Not as long as they keep spending.

A hundred thousand Yemenis, 298 Dutch, Australian, British, Malaysian airline passengers, who gives a fuck? They’re expendable. I’ve got my cosy job making things that can kill even more people than that, fuck ’em.

Pink mist.

 

GW: Every cloud has a shiny lining

USA: And on and on it goes…  Gusty winds downed trees and power lines in parts of Georgia and South Carolina overnight into early Saturday (22 June). Heavy rainfall of up to 4-in. prompted mandatory evacuation of some residences in Peabody, Kansas. Severe storms and locally heavy rain will be a threat on multiple days this week, including flooding in areas where the ground is already saturated from recent heavy rain. (Weather Channel) The Mississippi river is likely to return to its 40-foot major flood stage, alerts for the Missouri and Arkansas rivers remain in place. A woman was found dead amid flooding in eastern Oklahoma , Sunday. A flash flood emergency was declared in southwestern Missouri.

There’s been fresh snowfall in the Rockies, with up to 10 inches forecast. (Accuweather)

India: Pre-monsoon thunderstorms have killed 14 people in Rajasthan, when a tent collapsed at a fair. Temperatures over the weekend remaind in the 40sC, 104F, and after a slightly cooler few days are expected to rise again later in the week. The belated arrival of a weaker than usual monsoon in the south has brought some relief to Chennai, the city that has run out of water.

Hungary: Thunderstorms caused wind damage and flash floods from 19 June, with several people rescued and city streets inundated. National Meteorological Service reported record rainfall in some areas. 117.8 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in Fonyód on the shore of Lake Balaton in western Hungary. More severe storms are forecast as the North African heat plume begins to build across central Europe.

Switzerland: “Flash flooding caused major damage in Val-de-Ruz district of Neuchâtel Canton on 22 June. The villages of Villiers and Dombresson were the worst hit, with some areas under flood water 1 metre deep. Photos of the floods showed cars dragged along roads that had been ripped up by flood water. Roads have been closed and some homes evacuated.” (Floodlist)

France: And as the North African heat plume edges northwards, “Health minister, Agnès Buzyn, warned local authorities, hospitals and retirement homes to be on high alert, noting that last summer’s heatwave resulted in 1,500 more deaths than normal in July and August. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, activated a level-three (out of 4) heatwave action plan on Sunday.” (France24) Expectations have been rowed back a little since last week’s alarming forecasts of 45C-plus reminiscent of 2003, when 15 thousand people died, but the high 30s – low 40s are still possible in places by Thursday.

Paris’ action plan is not without humor. Among the recommendations for staying cool at 35C: “Find a seat in a library or a museum with good air conditioning. Bring a book and stay as long as you can until they kick you out. … Go to your local supermarket and spend a couple of hours near the freezers deciding what frozen peas are best.”

Noctilucent cloud over Denmark, June 2017. Almost bright enough to read by. (Photo: Ruslan Merzlyakov / RMS Photography.)

Sky: Evenings around an hour after sunset and mornings before sunrise, look out for shiny lights in the sky. No, not the aurora…. Aparently we’re in for a rare summer of “noctilucent” clouds that form at very high altitude, typically 70 kilometers, where they catch the sunlight from the day side of the planet and glow intriguingly. Some witnesses say they’re bright enough to read by. Severe-weather.eu reports, the clouds are being seen over a wider area of the northern hemisphere and cover more of the sky than ever previously recorded. Don’t ask me why, it’s dull and raining outside.

(Actually I have a theory and it’s to do with stratospheric warming holding more water vapor. I say “to do with”, that’s as far as I’ve got, sorry.)

Tunnel approaching…

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser, biggest in the park, erupted on cue, 21 June, for the 23rd time this year, on course for another record. Frequency has shortened to three days. Normally 2 or 3 times a year. Otherwise more quakes, ground uplift, hamonic tremors – rising water temperature – gas escapes have killed a number of squirrels. (Mary Greeley)

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 89: Swamping the drains… Sorry seems to be the hardest word… The code of Omerta… Lock them out!… GW: Boom bang-a-boom!… What’s gone wrong with the weather, then?

Swamping the drains

I’ve just been enjoying the 18 June roundup of press stories compiled and adroitly cross-referenced by the indefatigable Rachel “Madcow” Maddow of MSNBC, concerning Trump’s noted ability to pick “the very best people”.

It seems that after two years of disastrous picks for Secretary of the Army, starting with the crooked bank manager who lent Paul Manafort $16 billion he hasn’t paid back, who is now himself up on a felony corruption indictment, and having insulted his way through a platoon of Defense Secretaries, Trump has had to let Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan go, over “lurid” allegations of domestic violence (he told the Washington Post there was “no justification” for defending his son beating his mother unconscious with a baseball bat, and not in a fun way), and has now promoted Pick No. 4 for Secretary of the Army after only weeks in the job, across to being his new Acting Defense Secretary.

The gentleman in question, Mr Mark Esper, who will be responsible for running the bigliest defense establishment the world has ever known, with a budget the size of an emerging nation and a mission that looks like it’s any day about to become a shooting war over Iran, is the former principal lobbyist – a PR consultant – for one of the world’s largest advanced weapons systems manufacturers and a key US defense contractor, Raytheon.

In which President Trump was reported in 2017 to hold stock.* No conflicts of interest there, then. Let’s hope his family life is a little less turbulent than his predecessor’s.

This sorry trail of recruitment blunders Trump always denies has infected the White House since his election is only one among many that have characterized the administrative chaos everyone else observes. Starting with National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, an extraordinary number of senior officials have been appointed, only to be obliged to resign or be fired, often after offences related to domestic violence have emerged from their past. Trump, too has been accused – but never convicted – of violence, including rape – against previous wives.

It looks like no-one is ever vetted for a post in this administration, which appears to offer a wife-beaters’ charter to candidates for office, although I’m sure that’s just inadvertent. Who doesn’t go after the little woman with a baseball bat from time to time? Their security clearances are just railroaded through over the objections of those whose job it is to make sure criminals and lunatics are kept out, while repellent enabler McConnell squeezes the nominations like perfectly formed turds through the bowels of the Senate.

Drain that swamp!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LdIBdqTJ84

*I’ve just read the full Wikipedia account of the night over chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago with Premier Xi, when Trump ordered allied forces into action to bomb the al-Shayrat airbase after deciding Syria had dropped chemical weapons on Douma, a suburb of Damascus, killing civilians. It’s a terrifyingly detailed account listing previously unreported instances of aggression by Russian units against British Royal Navy submarines – a majorly complex sea-and-air action also involving the French. Amid the general mockery of Trump wasting 103 cruise missiles (many made by Raytheon) at $900 thousand a pop on rocketing an abandoned airbase, not one of the mainstream media as I recall reported how close we came to an actual war with Russia that night.

 

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Trump today launched his official bid to gain a second term as president, although while not on the golf course he hasn’t stopped campaigning for a minute since 2015 (60 Nuremburg-style rallies and counting) and is still bitching about how “Crooked Hillary” rigged the election he won. At a presser on the White House lawn he was asked by April Ryan, the veteran White House correspondent, if he would now apologize for his notorious campaign to secure the death penalty for the Central Park 5. An opportunity to heal division, bring unity?

Not a bit of it.

The case involved five young black and Hispanic men who confessed to the rape of a jogger in Central Park in 1990, on a night in which some 30 criminal assaults took place in the vicinity. The woman was beaten and left in a coma. To boost his credibility as a prominent citizen of New York, Trump took out full-page press ads demanding their execution. Four defendants served 6-7 years each; one, tried and sentenced as an adult, served 13 years in adult prison.

In 2001, however, DNA evidence and a confession proved beyond doubt that the five had not committed the offence for which they were tried and found guilty, also on appeal; and they were eventually released. “Matias Reyes, a convicted murderer and serial rapist who was serving life in prison, confessed to officials that he had raped the female jogger. His DNA matched the two samples found on and near the rape victim, and there was other confirmatory evidence. He said he committed the rape alone.” (Wikipedia)

The original confessions had been obtained without witnesses – four of the five were minors and should legally have had a responsible adult or legal counsel present – and all five claimed they had been beaten by police.

Trump has never apologized or admitted any error over the miscarriage, and today was no exception. In an unpleasant echo of his take on the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally, that there were “good people on both sides”, he pompously turned away from Ryan, a black woman, to explain to no-one in particular that there were “views on both sides” and that the prosecution (who formally withdrew the case against the men) were still convinced of their guilt. He then shut down a follow-up question.

This is the appalling, self-justifying, incompetent old sack of rotting shitburgers who desperately wants, and may very probably somehow engineer, another four years in the White House. (Even if he loses, he says, he might not go!) His poll ratings are currently disastrous, so much so that last week he fired the White House pollsters for telling him that. Following which he told ABC TV interviewer, George Stephanopoulos, that he would welcome more Russian help; an admission of treasonous intent publicly available on video that he has since denied making.

A good war should set him right.

 

Lock them out!

President Trump’s first policy announcement on launching his campaign has been to order ICE, the immigration police, to begin deporting all undocumented migrants from the US next week – literally, that is, millions of people – as he says Mexico is doing such a “very good job” of keeping unwanted migrants out.

Shome contradiction, shurely? Why, only two weeks ago he was threatening Mexico with tariffs if they didn’t do more to seal off the border with Guatemala. Now they’re very fine people. What does go on under that terrifying wisp of golden keratin?

He really is a shameless, bigoted old fraud. Gammon personified. A real gammonburger. His policies are aimed purely at pleasing his minority voter base and have nothing whatever to do with his key platform of national revival; quite the opposite, his divisive economic and social policies are having disastrous effects and only his rambling, bombastic, delusional speeches to aircraft hangars full of screaming, hate-filled lunatic dumbfucks are keeping his atrocious presidency alive.

 

The code of Omerta

“Trump faces at least 15 criminal or civil inquiries by nine federal, local or state agencies into his business, his charity, his campaign, his inaugural committee and his personal finances.” (Politico). MSNBC reports, the FBI is also drilling into his transaction history with Deutsche Bank on behalf of the House Finance and Oversight committees, following bank whistleblower Tammy McFadden’s claim that managers shut her down when she flagged possible instances of fraud and money laundering involving both Trump and Kushner accounts.

Might explain why the latest former White House staffer, Trump’s – ahem – rather attractive press counsel Hope Hicks, accompanied by a Trump lawyer, clammed up totally under questioning by the House Intelligence commitee, even on questions she’d answered for the Mueller inquiry. The committee is considering having to hold her in contempt, along with Mueller himself, former WH counsel Don McGahn and Attorney-General Barr, all of whom are refusing for whatever reason to co-operate with inquiries into Trump’s criminal conduct.

The Shite House meanwhile is claiming that anyone summoned by congressional committees who is or has ever been connected with the president is covered by a non-existent “special Presidential immunity” Trump’s lawyers have invented, that prevents them from testifying.

How does he get away with it? It amounts to a massive obstruction of justice, a cover-up of what looks more and more like a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy. But it seems that unless the doubtful Democratic duo of Pelosi and Schumer move to start impeachment proceedings – which in any case he is likely to ignore – there’s no-one who can prosecute the case as all the judicial power rests with the prime suspect himself, a president who claims that by virtue of having been elected he must be above the law.

Welcome to your new dictatorship.

 

He’s got a little list #2: Count your fingers

A UN special rapporteur has delivered “an excoriating” indictment of Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman in respect of the murder of Saudi dissident, Jamal al-Khashoggi; demanding that the prince – who has denied responsibility – be criminally investigated by the International Court.

“It is the conclusion of the special rapporteur that Mr Khashoggi has been the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law,”, quotes The Guardian.

An aspect of the story that is unlikely to have been considered, and for which no indictment is anticipated, concerns Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; often described, in the peculiar phrase commonly adopted by journalists instead of the more accurate “confederate”, or “co-conspirator”, as “a friend” of the equally callow and carefree Prince bin-Salman.

Mr Kushner is, as we know, despite his lack of experience in any field that doesn’t involve throwing poverty-stricken tenants out on the street, wearing a bewildering assortment of hats as a “senior advisor” to the strangely tinted president.

One of them is as his Middle East peace envoy. For instance, he is about to be involved in a conference in freedom-loving Bahrain, to obtain support from “the international business community” for more private investment in the shrinking Palestinian sectors of Israel, from which Trump has withdrawn federal aid; and on which (at the urging of his billionaire friend and political funder, decrepit casino magnate Sheldon Adelson) he has piled numerous insults, such as the highly controversial recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital.

It’s been a bit of a mystery as to why Trump rushed so soon and so ardently to exonerate “MBS”, as the ruthless Crown Prince is disarmingly known, of any responsibility for Khashoggi’s murder, even before the full horrible details of his dismemberment in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul had emerged; and to continue to argue in the face of much intelligence community reporting that the jury is still out, “it may have been him, it may not”, right to the present day.

Trump has long had a peripheral involvement in the story. Back in the 1990s he bought (and then had to sell at a loss) a modest-sized superyacht from Khashoggi’s billionaire arms-dealer cousin Adnan, an international playboy who was involved in a major 1980s bribery scandal known as the al-Yamamah deal, in which the Thatcher government appears to have bunged him $60 million to swing a fighter jet contract for British Aerospace over a decision to go with the French Dassault.

Yet in his classic defense of ignorance, Trump denied knowing any Khashoggis.

Jamal sought sanctuary in the United States in 2017, having found himself on the wrong side of the Saudi royal family – a unique governmental entity consisting of hundreds of unpleasant and interrelated desert princelings all jockeying for power. There, he wrote a monthly column for the Washington Post, critical of the bin-Salman faction; earning for himself the accusation that he was an agent of the hated political Islamists, the relatively non-violent Muslim Brotherhood.

MBS, who is responsible for prosecuting the failing war to prop up the corrupt Saleh regime in Yemen against rebellious northern tribals, in which 100 thousand civilian victims are believed to have died pointlessly so far, came to power and prominence just a couple of weeks after Trump had made his first foray into international diplomacy, not something he had ever been noted for, with a state visit to Riyadh that culminated in an esoteric-looking ceremony where the gathered leaders all weirdly placed their hands together on a mysterious glowing ball, or “Illuminatus” as some call it.

Your friendly Pumpkin has previously suggested a purely coincidental link between the deposing of MBS’s cousin, the former Crown Prince Muhammad bin-Nayef, and Trump’s visit. The business seemed in some ill-fated way to be based on the plot of Syriana, a 2005 George Clooney movie in which a US-compliant despot is installed in an oil-rich state by its senile king over the incumbent modernizing Crown Prince, who ends up being vaporized with his whole family in a drone strike by a rogue CIA unit secretly masterminded by Christopher Plummer.

One of MBS’s first actions in his new position of acting head of state – bin-Nayef’s father, King Salman bin-Abdulaziz al-Saud, has Alzheimer’s – was to have 200 of his princely family and prominent members of the Saudi business community arrested on vague charges of corruption and locked in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, until they agreed to pay him huge sums in ransom. Some were tortured, and one died.

Shortly after that, began the strange campaign by Saudi Arabia (Barbaria, as we call it) and MBS’s friend MBZ, the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, to blockade the tiny, but spectacularly oil-rich gulf state of Qatar, interdicting its food supplies and oil exports and threatening war unless the emir agreed to shutdown the well-regarded Al Jazeera global news operation and make other helpful concessions on their bucket list.

Back home, Trump gave his full-throated support to the Saudis, accusing Qatar publicly of sponsoring international terrorism (ha! Ed.) and being in league with Iran. Which was odd, considering a) he had met with the emir of Qatar, Mohammed bin-Thani (MBT) during his brief tour of the Middle East and said what a great ally he was and how much money he was going to spend buying “beautiful” American weapons, and b) the biggest US airbase and forward command in the entire Middle East is located at al-Udeid, in Qatar. Although some have suggested Trump may not have realized it was there, being the Commander-in-Chief who doesn’t take briefings from anyone other than Sean Hannity.

A few weeks later, however, MBS and MBZ quietly lifted the blockade, and Trump once again began praising Qatar as a good friend of the USA. What had changed? Certainly not Al Jazeera, which is still very much operational.

Well, the only thing anyone could think of, especially after it came out that Kushner’s father Charlie had been to Qatar some months previously on a cash-raising mission for his business and been turned away, concerned the welcome news that a Canadian investment company, Brookfield, had agreed to buy out the 999-year lease on a loss-making Kushner Companies-owned office-cum-retail property, 666 Fifth Avenue.

Jared had been nominally left in charge of Kushner Companies while his father, Charlie, was serving time for fraud and witness tampering, and in 2007 – just before the banks imploded – had paid way over the odds for a New York tower block, in his puppyish excitement to impress his dad, only to fall foul of the 2008 global crash. The hideous “signature” building, which is in urgent need of expensive refurbishment, was half-empty and hemorrhaging money. Now, looming up in 2019 a loan instalment of $1.8 billion was due, and KushCo didn’t have the liquidity to meet it.

Major crisis!

So Kushner, seeing that American banks won’t touch either the Kushners or the Trumps, known serial defaulters, with the proverbial footage of pole, arranged a very large loan with the giant Chinese insurance company Anbang that seemed to include a hefty cash emolument for himself. And on that basis, after the Chinese got cold feet over the possible allegation of bribing an influence-peddlar, his “friend” MBT, bin-Thani of Qatar, who had agreed a further half-billion investment, hastily withdraw the offer. This apparently enraged Jared, with consequences that are fairly not unclear.

Happily, Brookfield agreed, for no apparent reason, they would pay the entire future rental of the building up-front, and carry out the full refurb. With one bound, the Kushners were free. But who was this previously not much known Canadian company with a cash-splashing habit? Well, as Bloomberg reported, it turns out it’s a funnel operation for investing into global opportunities, a hefty proportion of the embarrassment of oil riches owned by the sovereign wealth fund of… Qatar.

Tiny, oil-rich Qatar, in essence, or so the implication of the story would seem to run, had been strongarmed into bailing out the piddling little Kushner family’s struggling real estate firm in a shakedown operation run under the auspices of the Trump administration – US foreign policy – by the Orthodox Jewish “Peace envoy” Jared’s Middle Eastern Arab “friends”, MBS and MBZ; risking a regional conflagration.

Result!

And then began the faint background accusations that it could have been Kushner who, purely as a favor, might have possibly helpfully supplied his “friend”, the newly installed MBS, with the list of names and locations and whatever dark crimes those 200 wealthy princes and businessmen he “arrested” in The Princes in the Hotel affair, may have been suspected of having committed: all the muck US intelligence could rake up on their known movements, contacts, holdings, investments, current assets and possibly hostile affiliations.

This was a top-secret CIA file, so the story goes, that Jared was only able to access because his father-in-law had overridden the strong warning of the official security analysts that his son-in-law – in view of his many dubious connections and unpaid debts to foreign banks – did not deserve a high-level security clearance; let alone a White House Sunday garden pass.

And even more faintly in the background, can just be heard the faint, squeaky whisperings of a nuance of a hint of a susurrus of a suggestion from some quarters that among the names exposed on that CIA target list, together possibly with some reference to his suspected dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood, may have been that of Jamal Khashoggi.

But we should draw a veil now over the proceedings for, as your Pumpkin concurs, it is highly unlikely and, indeed, wrong to believe that the name Kushner would ever appear anywhere in the 100 pages of the UN’s “excoriating” report, as being in any way complicit with a brutal execution his father-in-law has doubted really happened.

The Pumpkin would rather keep his fingers attached to his hands, if you don’t mind.

 

“A YouGov poll this week found that (by two-thirds to one-third) Tory party members would rather Brexit took place even if it meant significant damage to the economy, even if it meant Scotland leaving the United Kingdom, and even if it meant the loss of Northern Ireland, too. A large majority of Tories even think Brexit is more important than the survival of their party. Half of them would be happy for Nigel Farage to be their new leader.” (Guardian)

Eastbourne hasn’t been this exciting since Debussy wrote La Mer here! (BBC Weatherwatchers)

GW: Boom bang-a-boom!

Turkey: “At least 3 people have died in the north east of Turkey after heavy rain caused flash floods and landslides in Arakli district in Trabzon Province on 18 June. A further 7 people are still missing and 3 others were injured.” Rescuers “are carrying out search and rescue operations with helicopter support. Around 70 people were evacuated from the area.” (Floodlist)

Poland: A heavy downpour caused severe flooding around Lublin on 19 June, 2019, leaving communities cut off. Local authorities said 100 homes suffered damage, along with several roads. Electricity and drinking water supplies have been interrupted. Dozens of fire service and military personnel are working in the area. (Floodlist)

Philippines: over 45,000 people have been displaced by flooding on Mindanao Island. (Floodlist)

Uruguay: Many areas have seen over 30 cm of rain in the past week and over 5,000 people have been displaced by floods. 3000 of those “are in the city of Durazno, where the overflowing Yi River has caused severe flooding. Flooding has blocked vital roads in at least 12 locations across affected areas. Neighbouring parts of Argentina have also seen heavy rain over the last few days.” (Floodlist)

Europe: “Models are in good agreement for the development of an intense heatwave across a large part of west-central Europe, starting on Monday next week and likely extending until the weekend. Both global models GFS and ECMWF are hinting at peak afternoon temperatures around 36-41°C in France next week – up to 20C above average – and even 32C in southern England.” French meteorologists are not ruling out 45C, 4C over the previous highest-ever (The Weather Channel). More thunderstorms bringing heavy rain, high winds and large hail are the forecast for the Balkans up into eastern Europe until then. (Severe-weather.eu)

USA: Accuweather is predicting a high chance of more tornadoes in northeastern states Friday (21 June) as the seemingly unending chain of storms continues across the country. 100 deg. F-plus temperatures (103 yesterday, 20 June) this week are in fact slightly lower than normal for Phoenix, Az. Last week’s unseasonal 100F-plus heatwave in California has eased off the throttle, with temps back in the high 80s.

Bhutan, etc.: The melting of Himalayan glaciers has doubled since the turn of the century, with more than a quarter of all ice lost over the last four decades, scientists have revealed. The accelerating losses indicate a “devastating” future for the region, upon which a billion people depend for regular water. Temperature data from the region also show an average rise of 1C from 2000-16 compared with 1975-2000. (Guardian)

Tunnel approaching….

Kaboom: “The Pentagon believes using nuclear weapons could ‘create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability’, according to a new nuclear doctrine adopted by the US joint chiefs of staff last week. The document, entitled Nuclear Operations, was published on 11 June, and was the first such doctrine paper for 14 years. Arms control experts say it marks a shift in US military thinking towards the idea of fighting and winning a nuclear war.” Guardian. The paper was taken down after the Pentagon realized people reading it might be scared.

No sweat: “Wetbulb” temperature is a calculation based on both temperature and humidity. At 35C and 100% humidity the limit of survivability in the open is 6 hours. Higher temperatures require less humidity to kill, largely through the inability of the body to cool itself by sweating, leading to cell breakdown and organ failure. In other words, you cook. Parts of northern India and Pakistan have seen temperature over 50C, 123F. Paul Beckwith reports, “Present extremely hot temperatures combined with high humidities exceed the 35 C (95F) wetbulb temperature threshold. It doesn’t matter how healthy, fit, and strong you are; the physics is fatal. Luckily, the worst conditions seen on the Pakistan-India border (mostly in Pakistan) are for a few hours, and not the full day, but death rates in this region must be huge.”

 

“It’s hard to believe we’re looking down the barrel of a loaded climate gun when it’s so consistently damned embarrassingly weirdly normal outside.”

What’s gone wrong with the weather, then?

Okay, well, look, here we are, three weeks into the official Atlantic Hurricane season, and the only storm there’s been was Andrea, back on 20 May, that only made 1006 mb and a 40mph sustained windspeed, which we get pretty much every 2-3 weeks here on the west coast of Britain – and it didn’t make landfall either.

Other than that, nothing.

Outside as I write, 21 June, it’s sunny and 21C, 70F. Not that the official Met Office weather station 4 miles up the road will admit to that, hidden away as their thermometer is in a dark box where it’s probably 4C cooler. But nor is my digital thermometer in full sunlight either, it’s been swallowed up by a forever-expanding Photinia bush that’s grown just this year to rival the size of the house and has sparrows nesting inside it.

Okay, it’s been mild – a “green winter”. We had a long dry spell in March, and a long wet spell just the last three weeks. Inbetween, 80mph Storm Hannah ripped the opening buds off the westerly-facing trees and burned the leaves brown with salt spray. They’re happily recovering, and apart from that it’s a bucolic spring, with birds and bees and verdant, vibrant countryside – just about everything you could wish for.

So as far as anything goes we’ve had nothing but normal since the end of February, when there was that big heat anomaly over one weekend and record temps. It’s hard to believe we’re looking down the barrel of a loaded climate gun when it’s so consistently damned embarrassingly weirdly normal outside.

Luckily, we have Dr Andrew Glikson writing in Arctic News today to set us straight.

“The term ‘climate change’ is no longer appropriate since, what is happening in the atmosphere-ocean system, accelerating over the last 70 years or so, is an abrupt calamity on a geological dimension, threatening nature and human civilization. Ignoring what the science says, the powers that be are presiding over the sixth mass extinction of species, including humans.

“As conveyed by leading scientists: “Climate change is now reaching the end-game…”

Glikson goes on to elaborate that the current 560 ppm-plus carbon equivalent, which takes into account the carbon content of all the other greenhouse gases we’re struggling to breathe along with the CO2, is as high as it’s been since the Oligocene (33.9 to 23 million years ago). The current rate of increase is as alarming as it’s been since the extinction of the dinosaurs, 66 million years ago; while the warming oceans are reaching the limit of their ability to absorb more CO2, that we’re pumping out in record amounts again.

“The current rise of total GHG to about 560 ppm CO₂-equivalent implies that, for a climate sensitivity of 3 degrees Celsius per doubling of atmospheric CO₂, global warming has potentially reached 3°C. This level is almost 3 times the 2018 global land-ocean temperature of 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels as reported by NASA.” (And twice the so-called Paris target, of 1.5C by 2030.)

Oh dear. Well, that’s told us. Anyway, the UK is virtuously on course this year for almost 50% of its electricity to be generated from renewables.

I guess we deserve our normal weather. We’ve earned it.

(Dr Glikson is an Earth and Paleo-climate Scientist, Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, Research School of Earth Science, the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the Planetary Science Institute, and a member of the ANU Climate Change Institute.)

You can sing for your water… And you can sing for your money… Nature Notes… My legacy… GW: Wet, wet, wettest… Thursday’s BogPo bubbling up

Khyber Puss

Former minister and adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister, Mr Shaukat Yousafzai was giving a briefing to reporters in Peshawar when a member of his social media team inadvertently switched on the cat filter. The event was streamed live on Facebook.

“It was several minutes before organisers realised that the minister had acquired pointy ears.” (Guardian)

Absolute Idiocy (AI)

Prof Adrian Cheok, who advocates sex with robots and makes ferocious ad hominem Twitter attacks on fellow academics for querying his ethics, has been made a member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s birthday honours for “significant service to international education”.

Prof Cheok is also campaigning for a new college to be set up to teach “Trumpism”. (Guardian Australia)

 

GW special:

You can sing for your water

Every year by this time, members of a world-music choir I used to sing with have been rehearsing earnestly for weeks before heading off somewhere – usually to one of our capital cities – to perform at a mini-festival called “Sing for Water”, in aid of charities helping to bring fresh drinking water to remote communities in Africa and other places unreached as yet by civic amenities.

It’s all jolly worthwhile, although I never went along, as I no longer travel – at least, I have become psychologically unable to travel to any place I haven’t been before and feel secure in knowing I can find my way both there and back. Plumbed-in – intubated – catheterized as my bladder is to a leaky reservoir strapped to my leg, I no longer feel comfortable in cities or among friends.

Also I’m somewhat hampered by having as my constant companions in pensionhood, two dependent, fur-bearing, quadrupedal mammalian associates who aren’t always welcome everywhere as they should be, creating logistical problems.

Nor any drop to drink. While outside my window, again… (Google images)

We often read, don’t we, that the world is running out of fresh drinking water. It’s an odd complaint, in my singularly unfashionable view. There are places where the climate produces long, deep droughts, I acknowledge, that are getting longer and deeper. Glaciers that used to feed streams are vanishing. And over-extraction from underground aquifers is a real problem in areas of intensive water use, such as mining, certain manufacturing processes and in fruit-exporting communities.

But, standing next to our local river, a broad, shallow affair spring-fed by many tributaries from the hills upstream, I am often struck by the thought that millions upon millions of gallons of water – fresh and drinkable up to the point opposite, where the town sewage works discharges its load of e-coli – are just pouring day and night into the oceans, totally wasted.

As we read, too, of global heating, and the fearful feedback loops it may produce, runaway emissions cycles feeding on themselves, I gaze heavenward and see only huge, solid-looking castles and towers and mountains and general lumps of dark-grey cumulus cloud (it’s been like this for the past three weeks, raining on and off with only rare glimpses of the sun), and am reminded that a warming atmosphere holds more water vapor, and a warming ocean transpires more water vapor; that water vapor causes more heating, and that reports of floods around the world indeed speak of heavier rainfall than of yore.

Rain is fresh, drinkable water.

Global heating for now at least is producing more, not less, drinkable water; a vast natural desalination plant. A free resource, like Shakespeare’s Mercy, it droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven upon the place beneath. Very often now, that appears to be formerly hot desert regions like Arizona, Namibia, north Africa, Yemen, Iran – even Saudi Barbaria has had its share of flooding this year.

Where we feebly watch it gurgling down the drain; bearing away Hunzi’s tennis balls to the beach; or we crouch by helplessly in evacuation shelters while our neighbors drown, diseases breed, food crops perish and water snakes swim about venomously. For of course, occasional floods are of little use in relieving drought.

There’s something wrong with the human spirit, I feel, when it cannot and will not resolve the problem of people suffering from want of the stuff in one part of the world, while the rest of us wander around in another, moaning about a supersufficiency falling unforgivingly from the sky at inconvenient times and flowing down to the salty sea.

Even the Romans had a solution to move water to where it was needed. But water-aid charities and their boreholes are just a drop in the bucket, while many cities around the globe are approaching Point Zero – evermore severe rationing, followed by dry faucets, riots and death.

I envisage instead, trains of huge drogues, towed sausage-like across the ocean by tugs, and networks of pipelines no-one could possibly object to, connecting carefully designed reservoirs. An end to muddy boreholes, bilharzia and the drudgery of the standpipe.

That would only be if the brutal, self-aggrandizing, pockmarked little kleptocrats of the drought-stricken “shithole” regions were to stop stuffing their Swiss bank accounts with US oil money and cease buying more weapons with which to oppress their people.

Stupidly when, if only they would provide safe drinking water, so easy and cheap to do, the people would surely love them to bits.

 

And you can sing for your money…

“Hello P….”, reads the email that just popped into my tray.

“As part of our regular review of savings rates and the market, we’ve made the decision to reduce the interest rates on our variable savings accounts by 0.15%….”

Oh, goody.

0.15% is fuck-all of basically fuck-all to begin with, on my balance the earnings are already literally pennies a year, a rate of glacial progress no longer seen in nature, but what the hell, we’re a bank, it’s what we do.

Screw borrowers, ripoff savers. Make decisions, toddle off to lunch.

I can honestly put hand to heart and swear, I have never, ever received an email from a bank informing me brightly that they’ve “made a decision” to increase the interest rate on a savings account.

Just never happens.

But apparently, says the email, there are other accounts available with better rates (only probably longer extraction times) and I’m free to move my money into one of those if I like, and why wouldn’t I, so what’s the point? Why don’t they either just move it for me, or just, er, not reduce the rate on the one I’m in in the first place?

Yes, well, we’re a bank…

 

Nature Notes...

The aforesaid weeks of June monsoon, coming on top of a promising sunny start to May, early spring budburst (much of it frazzled by Storm Hannah in March but now happily recovering from auxiliary buds), a mild winter and just slightly above normal temperatures by day and night, have combined to create yet another astonishing outburst of greenery in the valley, new growth reaching already above my head.

Amid the profusive tumble of vegetation competing for space and light along the track are many wildflowers I have never seen before, and am struggling to identify. It’s partly because the council has no money to pay someone to strim it, and all the better for that. I’m enjoying the word ‘vetch’, which seems to apply in many cases. Where in places the trees overhang the path along by the river and the undergrowth crowds in, the air hangs heavy, still and damp, and it’s almost like walking through a tropical, or at least subtropical rainforest.

Soon, as the questing pale-green tendrils of the briars reach out across the paths to snag us, we shall need to be swinging pangas to get through, wearing puttees to ward off ticks, keeping a wary eye out for snakes and Welsh jaguars.

Our walks these late spring days are enlivened by an audible increase in cheerful-sounding birdsong, while the insect population does seem marginally recovered – although still very few bees, nevertheless they are here in appreciably more numbers than last year, when the “Beast from the East” interrupted everything. Some small, specialized caterpillar infestation has reduced much of the young hogweed foliage to skeletal shreds. Three orange-tailed bumblebees came browsing on my tiny, mauve-flowering patch of chives during a rare appearance of the sun one day last week.

Perhaps all is not lost quite yet.

I have wondered if the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is playing its part in the extraordinary efflorescence of our little river valley. In which case, this is the place to come for a draft of bracing oxygen to help propel us along, leaping nimbly out of the way of cyclists, who all seem to have adopted a fashion this year for big, fat, squishy tyres on their bikes.

It hasn’t stopped their reckless speeding and seeming inability to fit a bell with which to blast you out of their way as they approach silently from behind. I have trained Hunzi to the word “Bicycle!”, whereon hearing it he knows to get off the path and wait. But if we don’t see them coming until too late, much cross swearing goes on. The sense of entitlement is extraordinary.

I would take to two wheels myself, indulge in a bit of virtue signalling, but my GP tells me my recent MRI scan showed my prostate is now enormous. Even sitting square on a chair, let alone a bicycle saddle, with a rubber tube running through it is agony. He also tells me there is an accompanying “nodule”, which the specialist, off whose list I was struck three weeks ago for the new NHS list-reducing crime of failing to reply to a routine letter in time, chose not to tell me about.

Oh dear. Never mind, I’m sure it’s nothing. As my GP says, 80 percent of the dissected cadavers of men over 90 show that they have lived perfectly happily with undetected prostate cancer for years and it has not ultimately killed them. Or was it the other way around?

The latest thinking apparently is, it’s better not to know. Treatment may only make things worse. Just get on with it, is their motto. No-one lives for ever, not under a Tory government.

 

My legacy

I really do mean to get on with recording that album of 12 acapella jazz songs I’d planned. I’d love to have it done and packaged in time to take a few copies to France, amaze my tutors. I don’t think anyone has done it before. In this case it’s not vanity, but a total dearth of willing and competent jazz pianists in the area that is impelling this seeming indulgence in a possibly mad venture.

But I’ve discovered that my expensive virgin French tape reels don’t fit tightly on the spindles of the analog recorder I acquired last October, that I have not yet even dared switch to Record. They have a tendency to wobble and fly off. The spindles themselves have no clasps to keep the reels firmly in place.

And I had forgotten that in summer, my voice becomes husky and reedy and I get a cough and watering eyes and run out of puff from breathing pollen and enhanced traffic pollution from the street outside; while the extra holiday traffic sets up a constant, invasive din.

It’s never going to happen, is it.

 

Within hours of reports in US media that the coach of NBA champions, the Toronto Raptors, had demurred over an invitation to the White House, headlined as “Trump snubbed”, four people have been injured in a shooting at a Raptors’ victory parade in Toronto. The Pumpkin telegraphs that he hopes there’s no connection.

 

GW: Wet, wet, wettest

Some new areas feature in this Thursday’s extreme weather events calendar, compiled with thanks as ever to the diligent folks at Copernicus’ “Floodlist” website, and others:

Mongolia: “As many as 12 people have lost their lives in recent flooding. Mongolia Red Cross said that heavy rain began on 15 June, causing flooding in parts of the capital, Ulaanbaatar and nearby areas. Many roads have been blocked and drivers left stranded. Some flights from Ulaanbaatar were cancelled or delayed. The heavy rain was accompanied by strong winds. Several buildings suffered severe damage and 2 buildings were completely destroyed in Bayantsogt.” (Floodlist) The weather follows a month of wildfires.

Azores: “Raging flash floods swept through streets on the islands of Terceira and São Jorge, 16 June, damaging homes and vehicles. The worst hit area was the municipality of Angra do Heroísmo on Terceira Island, where 30 of 36 incidents occurred. Nine people were evacuated from their homes. Angra do Heroísmo recorded 108.1mm of rain in 24 hours to 17 June. Mean total rainfall for June is normally 48.5mm.” (from Floodlist)

Greenland: Temperatures in the north of Greenland peaked last week at a provisional 17.3C, 63F, making it warmer than parts of the UK. On 15 June, the Washington Post reported, temperatures over parts of Greenland were 22C above normal. Above-average temperatures over nearly all of the Arctic during May have led to early ice retreat, with the second-lowest extent in the 40-year satellite record being registered. A sudden rise in Greenland ice-melt at the beginning of June exceeded the 1981-2010 median by over 30%. About a million sq m of sea ice has been lost six weeks early. (From: Guardian Green Light)

Brazil: “A heavy downpour lasting around 6 hours hit parts of Pernambuco state on 13 June, causing over 100 incidents of flooding and landslides in several areas”, including the cities of Goiana and Recife. 7 people are reported killed, including 5 people in a landslide in Camaragibe. “Goiana recorded 198mm of rain on 13 June.” (Floodlist)

China: “88 people have now died as a result of heavy rain, floods and landslides in southern and central provinces over the last few weeks. The rain has spread to more areas including Hunan and Guangdong. Over 6 million people have been affected, with 388,000 displaced. As many as 17,000 houses have collapsed and a further 82,000 damaged. 17 people are thought to be still missing. Emergency services have rescued a total of 5,060 people and assisted with the emergency evacuation of 14,542 people. Vast areas of crops have also suffered damage.” (Edited from Floodlist)

India: A state of emergency has been imposed in Bihar after the heatwave that’s been tormenting the subcontinent for weeks left 184 people dead and several hospitalised. Gaya and Patna recorded temperatures above 45C, 113F on Saturday. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have witnessed temperatures over 46 degrees on a regular basis and occasionally in excess of 50C. At one point during the last 30 days, over 10 places across India witnessed the hottest temperatures on the planet. (India Today) The city of Chennai has cut water supplies by 40% as drought has emptied four main reservoirs. 21 Indian cities are expected to run out of groundwater by 2020. Poor management is principally to blame, says a govt. thinktank. (Guardian)

USA: “Heavy rain could cause localized flash flooding across an expansive area this week, from the southern and central Plains to the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic. Scattered severe storms are possible each day, posing mainly a risk of damaging wind gusts and large hail. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are ongoing from Texas into the mid-Atlantic. Flash flooding has been reported south of Cleveland, Ohio, 17 June.” The Mississippi river has crested again in Louisiana, just short of the level that would force the army to open a key spillway and flood potentially $2 billion of crops. (The Weather Channel) Accuweather is warning of more tornadoes in the midwest on Wednesday (19 June), while its meteorologists are monitoring an area in the West Pacific for a possible typhoon forming on a potential track from Guam to the Philippines.

Europe: Heavy thunderstorms and hail have been continuing over the weekend across large areas of eastern Europe and the Balkans. Zagreb, capital of Croatia was “hit by a thunderstorm and gale-force winds that ripped off rooftops and left one person dead and 22 injured. Cyclone Teodor was created by bad weather in northern Europe and formed overnight as a secondary storm over the northern Adriatic, bringing damaging waves and high winds, reaching 200 km (124 mph) per hour along the Adriatic coast and causing traffic suspensions on land and sea. Hundreds of trees were ripped out, Croatian Radio said.” (From: Earth Changes Media)

UK: Torrential rain and thunderstorms have hit parts of the UK overnight as unsettled weather continued to cause disruption across the country. Homes were left without power and roads were flooded in parts of the south-east, while Lenham in Kent had 42mm of rain between 11 pm and midnight. Eastbourne in East Sussex is said to have had about 1,000 lightning strikes in an hour. (Guardian)

Tunnel approaching….

The Munch Bunch

Italy: Against a background of reports of the decimation of global insect populations, “A swarm of locusts enveloped Sardinia off the coast of Italy last week. Local farmers reported it was the worst infestation they had seen since the end of World War II. The Italian agricultural association Coldiretti released a statement on Tuesday saying ‘We are walking on a locust carpet.'” (breakingisraelnews) France24 reports, over 2,000 Ha of crops were damaged. The phenomenon has affected several parts of the Mediterranean this year and is reportedly due to a wet year last year, following a drought in 2017.

Brexit: behind the curtain… Polluted waters run deep… Corbyn, eh? Pathetic. Predictable… Counting on chaos… Pot, kettle, smack… GW: Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain… Climate of concern.

Brexit: behind the curtain

“It’s perhaps no surprise … to find that those pushing for a hard or no-deal Brexit also have strong ties to a trans-Atlantic climate science denial network.”

“Three current cabinet ministers have denied the scientific consensus on climate change and several of those standing in the Tory leadership contest have close links with organisations and individuals promoting climate denial.”

– Thus, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s shadow Environment secretary, speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions last week, quoted in Open Democracy: “The tangled web of Tory leadership candidates and climate science denial”, 14 June.

Are we seeing the final clues emerging, to the dark-money influences behind the Brexit vote? The bones of the coup?

According to Open Democracy’s Matt Hope, the DeSmog environmental campaign has traced an astonishing two thousand connections between Brexit-voting MPs and known denier groups, false-front climate “research” organizations, corrupted academics and politicians, many founded and funded by energy industry science deniers such as the Kochs, “pushing for environmental regulations to be rolled back”, as they are being by the corrupt Trump junta in America.

(Trump has recently said he is minded to allow uranium mining in the iconic Grand Canyon national park. He really hates America.)

Since the IPCC report came out last year, GW has noticed, and despite fulsome acknowledgments that the energy corporations have known about the problem perfectly well for decades, there have been renewed attempts to undermine the consensus on global heating caused by man-made climate change, almost on the heroic scale of a Chernobyl fire; principally, by undermining faith not only in climate science, but in all science: it’s all too uncertain! All just conjecture, compared with the Biblical certainty that God created the world in 6 days; starting, as Bishop Usher calculated, on 22 October, 4004 BC.

So let’s sit on it while the jury is still out. (The jury that grew old and died years ago.)

These revelations come on top of the clear, loud and obvious threats coming from across the Atlantic, supported by treacherous cunts like Trump-shill Nigel Farage, to breakup the NHS and sell it off to US health insurers; to foist lower food hygiene and animal welfare standards on us; to introduce brutal, high-pressure corporate farming methods, and to breakup the BBC and sell its TV divisions off to US media corporations.

On top of that again, are the well-funded efforts of US Christian evangelical foundations to bring about an end to women’s rights to family planning, promoting a patriarchal, anti-Islamic, white-nativist agenda, with a direct money-pipeline to Farage’s Brexit and other rightwing groups in Europe.

It’s not me saying it: all of this shit has been publicly exposed and expressly endorsed by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. But you’re just not fucking widey-woke enough to get it. (No, okay, you are but they’re not.)

Listening, any Leavers? You’ve been had. Again. When are you going to wake up from your pugnacious, self-satisfied dreams of empire and understand, this is NOT what you persist in shouting-down as “Project Fear”. The vested interests behind your fatal vote are going to eat-up this country for profit. They don’t want the world you want.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/tangled-web-tory-leadership-candidates-and-climate-science-denial/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=95dea4d99b-

“That it is even possible to find and prove and convict for actual treason in peacetime is a legal nicety.”

Polluted waters run deep

While, your old Granny Weatherwax (see GW columns below and passim) prompts the Bogler to conjecture that the defenestration by the Tory party of poor Mrs May might certainly, in the light of the above, have followed a deliberate and sustained campaign of vituperation in the press, on social media and in Comment threads, leading to her downfall.

Was The Guardian’s editorial board “had” by these seething, ambitious traitors too?

That it is even possible to find and prove and convict for actual treason in peacetime is a legal nicety.

But the removal of a Prime Minister, her elected authority undermined and destroyed by secretive actors funded by global corporations and alt-right ultras, her actions thwarted at every turn by a vicious little cabal within her own party, whose influence sadly extends beyond itself, might certainly amount to a coup d’état, given that one of Mrs May’s last vain attempts to maintain the status quo ante while in office has been to announce a commitment to speedier and deeper decarbonization.

Can’t let that happen.

Clearly, as revelations emerge of their clandestine connections via the Tufton Street nest of vipers, the tobacco industry-founded IER and its feral children, with Big Oil and Coal, as well as with the evangelical right in America and its allied Orthodox Christian-empiricists in Russia, not “Fatberg” Johnson nor any of his shitheaded enablers and opponents, except possibly “Snowy” Gove, is planning to honor her dying efforts to spare the planet.

Their rank corruption pollutes everything it touches. Literally, it seems.

 

Corbyn, eh? Pathetic. Predictable.

“A source close to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who went to Tehran last week and tried to initiate an unsuccessful mediation between Trump and the Iranian regime, told Kyodo News Agency that what the Americans had presented as evidence did not amount to “definite proof” that Iran was to blame.” – The Washington Post, Monday 17 June.

Oh, but I thought politicians demanding more conclusive proof of an Iranian attack on tankers in the Gulf using mines were “pathetic”? At least, that’s what Tory leadership challenger, Jeremy Hunt told us was wrong with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said he wanted more proof the attack was carried out by Iran, and was:

“Pathetic and predictable. From Salisbury to the Middle East, why can he never bring himself to back British allies, British intelligence or British interests?”

Oh, but I thought that British general in charge of our forces in the Gulf told the defense chiefs there was no evidence of Iranian escalation? And the Americans and their asscreeper, Hunt told him to shut up and mind his own business? And now the Japanese Prime Minister is “pathetic and predictable” too, is he?

So how about our “allies”, the Germans?

“’The video is not enough,’ German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters. ‘We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me.’”

God, how pathetic. How predictable.

Something disgusting is being cooked up and our pathetic and predictable Tory foreign secretary wants us to be up to our bloodied elbows in it, his head firmly rammed between Trump’s fat asscheeks, caressing his furry little orange balls with his forked tongue like an ass-snake, an assp, just to prove Britain is still a world power that can talk a tough game while having fuck-all to back it up and a failed minority government in total disarray, a nation betrayed by a bunch of alt-right-funded Brexit ultras, that this failed ex-health minister is desperate to lead for all of four months, until hopefully we kick them into the long grass for a generation.

Pathetic. Predictable.

 

Counting on chaos

“As Edexcel is the only privately owned examination board in the UK, questions have been raised on whether the examination board is acting in the best interest of students, or solely as a profit making business, due to the wide range of officially endorsed text books published by Pearson, the international multi-billion company who owns the exam board Edexcel.” – Wikipedia entry, failing on grammar but otherwise instructive, as ever.

A-level Maths students in the UK have been devastated to learn that for the third year in a row, “someone” had leaked part of the Maths, Stats and Mechanics exam paper in advance, and after two years of hard studying and late-nights revising, their marks will suffer as a result.

A tweet published by BBC News showing the questions being hawked around for £70 a go contained the misspelled word “tommorrow”, which ought to be a strong clue that a teacher is behind the leak.

Students are bitterly criticizing the outsourced contractor, Edexcel, for the sheer incompetence they continue to show, year after year. It seems the leak was discovered in advance, and a secure substitute paper exists to be handed out in just such an emergency, but the company either couldn’t get its act together in time or couldn’t be bothered.

Edexcel have denied all responsibility, claiming it’s a minor breach and all down to the schools. No surprise, surely, as there seems to be not one outsourced contractor in Government service in the entire country in any sector, from education to health to security, that isn’t employing a groaning heap of baboons who have been at the fermented fruit again.

They are all, without exception, thoroughly rotten at their jobs. But they have the advantage of being cheap, which is all the Treasury cares about.

The whole principle of outsourcing is based on offering a lowest common denominator service supplied by foreign-owned companies and/or overdiversified hard-hat building and engineering operations desperate for “wet-weather” revenue-earners, of which there can be no reasonable expectation of quality outcomes, concern for users, competence and dedication to service. Yet another such, Keir Group, is battling liquidation as I write, and has announced many job losses.

Your Uncle Bogler pays for his annual week in France through twice a year, for two-and-a-half weeks, taking on the role of an exam invigilator at his local University of Boglington-on-Sea. (Okay, I’m an outsourcer too!) The job is kind of a cross between a butler and a nanny, a policeman and a purveyor of fine stationery to the terminally penless.

He has to mention that this year, he was aware of at least three occasions when batches of papers were sent out by the various departments to be distributed that day, that contained – clearly in error – copies of the wrong papers, that were not due to go out until the following day or week. He understands this to be a possible criminal offence. Add to which, the rising number of proofreading errors in questions having to be back-checked in the middle of exams.

The point was raised, with some concern, and the explanation given that the University has been in the habit of writing to departmental admin staff recently, demanding that they re-apply for their contracts on lower grades and zero-hours contracts; while dozens of take-back redundancy notices have been issued, and the lucky survivors reallocated ad hoc to departments often where they have had no previous experience.

In other words, no-one has the slightest idea what the fuck they are doing anymore.

Taken together with, for instance, the disasters over the uncoordinated changes to the railway timetables last year, the utter shambles that has marked the Brexit negotiations and the demise of the Conservative party, it is not hyperbole to suggest that our familiar civilization is genuinely falling apart around our ears, and the process is rapidly accelerating.

 

US televangelist, Rick Wiles has warned his congregation that meatless vegeburgers contain Satan.

 

Pot, kettle, smack

The traitor, US President Trump, busy lying that he never said he would welcome illegal help from the Russians to get re-elected, like that other Trump did on ABC TV last week, has been tweeting his usual racist garbage against the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, following a mini-spate of knifings and a shooting in the city on Friday.

As if it is any of his filthy, goddam business. Does he run this country? Don’t answer that.

“US President Donald Trump, who has a long-running political feud with Mr Khan, took to Twitter to say London “needs a new mayor ASAP. Khan is a disaster – will only get worse!”

No mention there of sympathy for the victims’ families; no acknowledgement of the exemplary speedy arrests by the Metropolitan Police. And no mention of the fact that the “feud” has been entirely one-way, since Khan originally made a disparaging remark about Trump’s attempt to ban Muslims from entering the USA – which would have included him.

Trump has not ceased since his inauguration to criticize the management of Britain and other countries – Sweden, who knew? – while praising Norway, oddly, at every possible occasion. Tall, blond Norway… reminds him of his daughter? Would he like to fuck Norway?

Just bile spewing from his fat gut and an overweening sense of his own importance, that he is putting before, even, his own country. To Britain’s eternal discredit, however, weird stary-eyed Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has endorsed his anti-Khan tweet, saying he “150 per cent” supports Trump’s quoting the insane bitch-harridan, Katie Hopkins’ racist ravings about “Londonistan”.

Deary me. And this pathetic shill wants to be Prime Minister. Under a second Trump presidency, no doubt. It’s a bad look.

The three deaths, says BBC News, take the total number of murders in London in 2019 to 56.

Oh, isn’t that fewer in 6 months than are murdered in one day, every day, by plain folks and their guns in Mr Trump’s festering, Wild West country? Thirty-three THOUSAND violent deaths a year? Some very good people, obviously.

Trump is the fucking disaster. Will only get worse – if the cowardly, pusillanimous Democrat leaders don’t start impeachment proceedings immediately. Needs a new President.

Trump has instructed his assfucked acolytes not to testify or submit documents to Congress, despite legal subpoenas and threats of lesser impeachments, and to ignore court orders at which he openly sneers. He’s accepting illegal foreign campaign donations in exchange for promises of access, and putting out fake videos to slander his opponents while claiming the media, the “Enemy of the people”, is “fake news”. He and his family members are openly and illegally profiting from office.

He has rejected a call from one of his own appointees, a judge on a special ethics committee, to sack “senior advisor” Kellyanne Conway for numerous, egregious breaches of the Hatch Act, which supposedly prevents civil servants from openly endorsing political candidates or promoting commercial interests, such as Ivanka Trump’s “fashion” brands. On TV last month Conway sneered at the Special Counsel: “Blah, blah, blah. Let me know when the jail sentence begins”.

These are the actions of outrageous criminals who believe they are untouchable because of the power of the President.

A career criminal himself, Trump has no respect whatever for the rule of law. Never has. Never will. Why he thinks that qualifies him to comment on law and order issues in other countries, no-one can say.

It’s just that he hates Muslims, I guess.

And that’s fine with Jeremy.

 

“Last year, the equivalent of 68,000 shipping containers of American plastic recycling were exported from the US to developing countries that mismanage more than 70% of their own plastic waste.” (Guardian “Toxic USA” investigation)

 

GW: Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain

China: “At least 61 people have been killed and 356,000 evacuated from their homes as heavy rain and floods swept through large parts of southern and central China this week. … Local authorities say “9,300 homes have collapsed and 3.71 million hectares of farmland damaged during the floods, with direct economic losses now estimated at 13.35 billion yuan ($1.93bn).” (Al Jazeera)

Sudan: As if a murderous, apparently endless civil war is not enough, “at least 770 homes have been completely destroyed and hundreds more damaged by flash floods that swept through some of the most vulnerable areas of North Darfur on 10 June. At least 420 homes were reportedly destroyed by floods in camp Rwanda for the displaced in Tawilah locality”, and three children injured. Of concern to the authorities is the loss of most of the camp’s temporary sanitation. (from Floodlist)

Indonesia: Following floods last week in nearby Sulawesi, “flooding has affected over 35,000 people in Samarinda City in East Kalimantan Province, according to local disaster authorities.” No injuries have been reported. “The Mahakam river, in the east of the island of Borneo, overflowed after heavy rain on 09 June.” (from Floodlist)

Italy: “Homes, businesses and a campsite were evacuated in Lombardy on 12 June, due to flooding from the Varrone and Pioverna rivers. Heavy rain and severe weather in Europe since 09 June 2019 has caused flash floods in parts of the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Greece and Poland (from Floodlist). More storms, with high winds, big hail and intense rainfall are arriving over eastern areas of France and Germany, up into Denmark. (Severe-weather.eu, 14 June)

France: has declared a state of natural disaster, “after rain and hail storms lashed a swathe of the south-east on 15 June, devastating crops. The flash storms, which brought hailstones as big as pingpong balls to some areas, killed 2 people in France and Switzerland, and injured at least 10 others. The worst-hit area … is known as the ‘orchard of France’. The agriculture minister said the government would … introduce emergency measures to deal with what he described as a catastrophe for farmers.” (Guardian)

UK: After 2 months’ worth of rain fell in 48 hours, a local state of emergency was declared on 13 June and hundreds of residents evacuated from 580 properties in the town of Wainsfleet, Lincolnshire, as the local river burst its banks and temporary shoring threatened to give way. “Passengers on a London to Nottingham train were stranded for 8 hours following a landslide. Commuters were transferred to a second train which also became stuck due to flooding on the line. Food and water ran out onboard and 1 person collapsed.” (BBC News)

USA: And the wet goes on. “Locally heavy rain (and thunderstorms) are expected to return to the Arkansas and Mississippi River valleys by Father’s Day weekend, bringing another risk of flash flooding to rain-fatigued parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma that could last well into next week.” (The Weather Channel)

India: Has escaped the worst of Cat 2 Typhoon Vayu as the storm has turned northward parallel to the coast. The Typhoon Warning Center placed Vayu about 90 miles out, 14 June. “The storm had top winds of 110 mph and was headed north-northwest at 4 mph, with tropical-storm-force winds extending out 145 – 170 miles.” It’s still bringing damaging wind, waves and heavy rain to coastal regions. “About 300,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Gujarat, where a storm surge is forecast of 1.3 meters (4.3 feet). (The Weather Channel)

Unfortunately that means no relief yet from the brutal heatwave inland that has claimed 36 lives. With cities turning into “urban heat islands”, where temperatures in recent weeks have nudged 50C, 122F, a scarcity of water has led to fighting in the streets, with a number of stabbings, injuries and even deaths. (Deutsche Welt)

Australia: The quarterly update of Australia’s greenhouse gases, which span December 2018 to March 2019, showed a 0.7% hike in emissions. Save for agriculture and electricity, all sectors were up. Pollution from the manufacturing, construction and commercial sectors and domestic heating shot up by 6%. Emissions reduction minister, Angus Taylor, says Australia is still on course to meet its Paris commitment to a 28% reduction by 2030. Shadow energy minister Mark Butler says he’s a liar. (Guardian)

Climate of concern

CO2: Normally starts to reduce in May in the northern hemisphere as spring vegetation growth starts to absorb more. Of concern therefore must be a sudden spike in the weekly average over the past two days, putting concentrations back to the late May 414.5 ppm high. At its peak in mid-May it was over 415.7, up 10 ppm from March last year.

A glance at the weekly averages curve over the whole of 2018-9 is scary enough, but the long-term average in just the last 40 years shows a 50%-plus rise in CO2 concentration over the previous rate of increase from the pre-industrial background of 280 ppm. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html

That’s a rather clumsy way of saying it’s been rising twice as fast as it was before 1980. And remember, CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas – the others are all increasing more rapidly than previously.

The Great Debate: You know how the media is constantly parroting the line that you can’t tell if “man made” global warming is responsible for any individual event? Well, now you can. New modeling by Oxford University has shown without doubt that there is absolutely zero probability of last year’s lethal heatwave in Japan having been caused by anything else. Oh, and it’s happened again already this year. (Climate change news)

Denierworld latest: As Trump calls for pipeline protestors to be jailed for 20 years, comes news from the Washington Post that EPA officials were ordered by the White House to shutdown a report compiled by two intelligence agencies for a Congressional committee, affirming previous Pentagon assessments that “climate change” is posing possibly the greatest threat to national security. I’d give you more on that but I can’t afford the $90 a year Jeff Bezos wants for me to be allowed to read articles in the WaPo.

Tunnel approaching…

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser went off Saturday 15th for the 22nd time this year. Intervals have shortened from every 7 to every 5 to every 3 days…. “Normal” is two or three times a year. Earthquake swarms, ground uplift, magma “drumbeats”, rising “melt”, volcanic outgassing and harmonic tremors continuing in the caldera. USGS’ live webcams mysteriously freezing, data disappearing. (Mary Greeley)

Heating: The Canadian permafrost is already thawing at the rate previously anticipated to occur by 2090. Greenland shed 50% of its normal annual summer ice loss just last week. Coastal areas (higher humidity) in places like the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea are approaching the limits of human survivability. (Paul Beckwith)

While, “humans are already functionally extinct” may come as a shock to some people (Arctic News, 10 June).

Functional extinction describes a state where sufficient adverse factors exist to bring about imminent population collapse. The Australian koala, for instance, is said to be functionally extinct, after 30 million years on earth. Once shot in their millions for their fur, the cuddly marsupials are down to a population of about 80,000. In itself that might be enough to preserve the species, but habitat loss is scattering ever-smaller communities over ever-wider distances, leading to inbreeding and epidemic disease. Throw in more brutal heatwaves like this summer’s, and they’re gone in a matter of years.

Another indication of imminent human extinction is, of course, the bellicose policies being pursued by US Secretary of State, Mike “two lunches in a suit” Pompeo. An evangelical Christian of great fervor, he says the bible informs everything he does, and he’s a genuine believer in the Rapture – a millennarian, end-of-the-world prophesy in which crazy, fat assholes like him lose their clothes and fly up directly to meet Jesus in Heaven while the rest of us burn. God will then create a new Earth for the righteous. “Fight for it”, he has urged congregations. (New York Times 30 March, et al.)

I kid you not, this delusional, Koch brothers-funded lunatic is in charge of Trump’s foreign policy.

Take cover.