800 Not Out!… The event horizon of a brown hole… Who was Mulgrew Miller?… An American psychopath… Cue spooky music… GW: Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!… Would you like ice in that?

Guardian: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters
On 26 February, 2012, the BogPo hit the ground running.

800 Not Out!

The Boglington Post, incorporating The Pumpkin, publishes its 800th Post today, 7 years and 5 months after its modest beginnings in February, 2012.

Founded by the late Sir Thanatossios Boglopoulos in competition with the absurdly named Arianna Stassinopoulos-Huffington’s Huffington Post, at a time when her writers were complaining of not being paid, early Posts were often short; even derisory. Pithy comments, bad jokes. Most consisted of just a single article; some humoresque, others autobiographical – often both.

But as the years went by, under the wise guidance of our new Publisher, Herr Professor Doktor Ernst von-und-zu Bogl, of Boglheim am Rhein, and the adroit editorship of his late father’s half-brother, the former children’s page editor, Uncle Bogler, The BogPo (as it was soon to be affectionately known) became broader – and bolder – in its concept, invoking a mission to provide quality writing, wild inaccuracies and profoundly cynical satire to the cognoscenti.

We have not been sparing in our use of adjectives.

Multiple articles, colored words and the inclusion of regular features – for instance, an obsessive interest in collecting evidence of climate change and the enticing prospect of human extinction began, in 2016, to manifest as the Granny Weatherwax diaries (GW standing also for Global Warming) – made it more like a regular news blog, only with cuss words.

The Thursday deadline soon became redundant as sheer boredom began to dictate a frenetic increase in output, while technical incompetence led to many editions like this one being published accidentally before time. We took a decision early on, not to hide our light under the bushel of a paywall, like the lousy bastards at the Washington Post, who could easily afford to go free. In any case, we couldn’t understand a word of the Patreon business model concept thing, and had no idea how else to force readers to send money.

Consequently, about twice a week you get 4,000 words for nothing. We hope you appreciate that, you stingy sods. (See me after. Ed.)

Following complaints from our persistent critic, Young Bogler, that no-one reads anymore, borrowed images were introduced, with what the Editor imagines are witty captions. Some amusing examples are revisited again in this edition. Thus, actual readers were no longer required. Just as well, as the average of daily Views, though climbing steadily, has yet to achieve critical mass (a high point of 47 was reached on one memorable day in October, 2016.) American spellings, too, were introduced, in case any Americans were watching; particularly, the NSA. (Hi, guyz!)

In passing, we should like to apologize to anyone who feels we may have stolen, overborrowed, overquoted or outright plagiarized their work for our researches. In fact, it seems it’s often a mutual process. Articles that appear in the BogPo/Pumpkin have a strange way of preceding, often by several days, well paid-for op-ed content generated by the soi-disant professionals in the mainstream press.

Visionary? Or merely doing our job! And, of course, as a non-profit claiming fair usage, we always give credit where credit is due. Sorry, Jacob – owing.

“I don’t give a fuck about the law, I want my fuckin’ money!”

Our sister site

In November 2016, The Pumpkin, now on its 92nd edition, became a separate entity focussing laserlike on the US political scene, following the accidental election of a senile, money-grubbing, malignant narcissist to the White House; a man who, while describing himself as a very smart and stable genius, has found it necessary to threaten to sue his old school if they release his grades to the media.

The possibilities for expressing weekly, in a newsy format, our fear and loathing of this spoilt, superannuated playboy – the Demander-in-Chief, as it were – the thin-skinned, sexually incontinent, mendacious, made-for-TV business mogul and his gang of lying, maladroit pirates, were too entertaining and concerning to ignore.

Readers have wondered why we are so interested in the US political scene from all the way over here in Boglington-on-Sea, a humdrum coastal resort in west Britain, where life goes on and the climate remains embarrassingly normal for a world on fire.

There are two reasons. One, your Uncle Bogler’s late granny was a US citizen, from Delaware; her family having migrated from Ireland in the late C19th. So we feel some attachment to the place – although we have never visited. My brother went over, and described the surviving family as, basically, trailer-trash.

And two, just you wait until Wilbur Ross’ little goblins have finished negotiating that post-Brexit trade deal with the incompetent buffoon and trainee serial killer, “Foreign Secretary” Dominic Raab. American spellings will be compulsory, we assure you. It’ll be daylight Raabery! (Sorry.)

As we know you all must be, dear Spammers, Followers, Likers and those no longer reading this, muh li’l bogl, we’re excited to be looking forward to the next 800 free issues.

Thank you for your loyal support.

Team Bogl (Your Uncle B.)

“You could drive a bus through these legs…!”

Newly appointed Secretary of State, Sajid Javid – the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver – tries on his new, reinforced Home Office trousers before continuing with Theresa May’s popular policy of creating a “Hostile Environment” for migrants (2017), accidentally interning and/or repatriating many people with a right to remain. Formerly a senior executive with Deutsche Bank, the bank fined over $16 billion for money-laundering and interest-rate rigging, the bank that lent $2 billion to Donald Trump despite his zero credit rating and history of defaults, “The Saj”was responsible for promoting the same “collateralized debt obligations”, the financial instruments that caused the 2007 banking crash. In July he was promoted by incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be Chancellor of the Exchequer.

 

The event horizon of a brown hole

“Democracy, here in the UK and in the US and Europe, has in recent years been subverted by vast amounts of dark money and by individuals and organisations intent on disregarding electoral law to the benefit of extreme rightwing ideas.”– Shadow minister, Chris Matheson MP.

Launching a new fundraising group mainly of Trump supporters (including Moron Jr) in New York calling itself World4Brexit, to “welcome Britain back to the international community, free of the EU”, Britain’s leading Euronoiac, Nigel Farage made it clear, the money was not to support Brexit candidates at the next General Election, which would of course be a breach of electoral law, but purely for research, to “dig deep, find out who is really running the show.”

Who is really running the show is, ultimately, the shadowy group of players around Vladimir Putin. Who else? What the “show” is, is you being a total arsehole, Nigel.

I’m sorry, but cogent political analysis and civil discourse break down at the event horizon of a brown hole.

“Pssst, wanna see my Mussolini?” (2017)

Jazz alert

Who was Mulgrew Miller?

Ciao, cool cats.

I’m forced to comment on a weird phenomenon.

Last night, 30 July, I was browsing on YouTube, looking for some lite jazz I could fall asleep to, and spotted the name of a familiar musician, the late virtuoso Danish bass player, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pederson – who co-nomenclaturally played a lot with the Oscar Peterson trio – no relation.

Sadly, NHØP, who was also a highly cultured man,  died in 2005 at the young age of 58, from heart disease, leaving a treasure trove of mouthwatering brilliance.

Truly one of the great bassists in jazz or indeed any music tradition, he was listed here among those little pictures down the side as playing on an album in a duet with a pianist called Mulgrew Miller, of whom, I swear, I had never heard.

Having listened to, and collected, jazz recordings for what – 15 years, including as a teenager and later intensively for the past ten years as an old bloke and wannabe performer, I honestly had never heard of Mulgrew Miller.

Not only that, but I swear Miller’s name does not come up once as listed either as a lead or side-man on any of the more than 400 jazz CDs I have collected over the past 10 years, dating back to the early 1940s and running on to the present day. The name sounds almost like a joke, a jazz musician out of a novel, or a disguise to fool the taxman.

And yet, having cropped up once, I’m now browsing through dozens of recordings by or featuring Mulgrew Miller, with growing admiration.

Is there some spiritual meaning to it?

I mean, it’s not a name you would easily forget. Also, he’s a bit of a genius, described in his Wikipedia entry as a sort of cross between Oscar Peterson and McCoy Tyner, although he’s very much his own man when it comes to style – virtuosic, powerful, delicate – but with a sense of humour and often a nod to the past.

It’s as if, from time to time in life, a wormhole opens up and however old you get, interesting things you knew nothing about before come wiggling through to take you completely by surprise.

(Mind you, it’s not long since I started to catch up to the wonderful Kenny Barron. I had at least heard of him.)

Miller was another of those tragically early casualties of the jazz world, dying of a stroke in 2015 at the ridiculous age of 57. Of course, you suspect a drug habit, but I doubt it. He had been Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University in New Jersey for several years. I suspect many more undersung jazz heroes are hiding away on the campuses of smalltown academic America. At least it pays.

These geniuses just pop in and out of parallel universes to enlighten and entertain us for a while before flitting back. Busy schedule. Many gigs.

(Incidentally, the reliable Japanese bassist Kyoshi Kitagara, who pops up on many of these recordings with Miller and Barron, is someone else I also discovered for the first time yesterday. Never come across him before either. How does this happen?)

Mulgrew Miller: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aX39pJ9C3s&list=RDA1Nx_Bnpb5s&index=5

Kenny Barron: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGYvuu8Fwog

My Jazz CDs (catalog): themindbogls.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php?s=my+jazz+CDs&post_status=all&post_type=page&action=-1&m=0&paged=1&action2=-1

 

An American psychopath

The New York Times tonight has a story to chill the blood. It’s about The Collector, Jeffrey Epstein. Ignore the bit about wealthy financier, he was a jerk, a pimp funded entirely by his influential pedophile clients:

“The wealthy financier, who has been charged with sex trafficking, told scientists and other acquaintances of his plans to seed the human race with his DNA by impregnating scores of women at his sprawling New Mexico ranch.” (NYT briefing)

“Mr. Epstein” (the NYT uses the honorific even when horrifying scumbags are identified as certifiable lunatics), “who used his wealth to cultivate relationships with a wide range of business, political and scientific luminaries (no, idiots, it was the other way around! They used their wealth to cultivate him! Ed.), also claimed to be bankrolling efforts to identify ‘a mysterious particle that might trigger the feeling that someone is watching you.'”

Oh, yes, Jeffrey. We know the feeling.

 

Telepathy corner

Cue spooky music

Two spam messages have illiterally just arrived on top of a list of 13, that the WordPress Spammeister, Arkayla, thinks I might want to approve. Why would I? Absolute gibberish, they’ve all been sent through poxy servers from untidy bedrooms in Kyrgzystan and will only contaminate my cloud, whatever.

These two both purport to be commenting on an ancient Post from 2012, that I thought I had recently deleted, punningly titled: “Oh, what a Tanglewood we weave”. It was all about buying a guitar made by a company called Tanglewood; which I’d done by mistake.

Not half an hour ago on my walk with Hunzi, I encountered Andy, whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to for the best part of a year. Andy runs a little guitar shop in the covered market. I’d placed a guitar with Andy to sell, about two years ago. He keeps selling it, only for no good reason, the buyers always return it.

We couldn’t really understand why. It’s a perfectly nice little instrument. Anyway, I asked him if he’d sold it, and probably out of guilt or sympathy he said he’d buy it off me, so I priced it very modestly at £50, he just happened to have £50 on him, and we parted ways rejoicing.

Oh, did I mention? It was the Tanglewood.

 

GW: Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!

Now, that’s better. There was almost no weather in yesterday’s edition, apart from perhaps a mention of two possible hurricanes in the Pacific, but now…

“Hurricane Erick is currently hurtling across the East Pacific Ocean towards Hawaii measuring winds of 132mph. At the last NOOA update, the powerful hurricane was located approximately 750 miles (1210 KM) east southeast of Hilo, Hawaii and around 965 miles (1550 KM) east southeast of Honolulu Hawaii. With wind speeds of 132mph, Erick is a category 4 hurricane, which according to the Saffir Simpson Wind Scale can be catastrophic (Express). Wunderground reports: “Erick’s top sustained winds jumped from 70 mph at 5 pm EDT Monday to 130 mph by 5 pm Tuesday, a spectacular leap that’s almost double the 35-mph-in-24-hours needed to qualify as rapid intensification.”

The report goes on to mention: “Tropical Storm Flossie is currently located 745 miles south of the southern tip of Baja California. It is currently moving at 20 miles per hour. On its current path, Flossie will enter Central Pacific waters on Friday or Saturday” and also threatens Hawaii. (Express) Wunderground reports, Flossie intensified to Cat 1 on Tuesday (30 July), but might not survive the wind shear in Erick’s wake.

Europe: Another wave of heat is on the cards, between intense rainstorms. “Forecasters say three more heatwaves could be on their way to the UK. Leon Brown, head of operations at The Weather Channel explained: ‘After the past week’s extreme heat, three more heatwaves are forecast in Britain this summer as air from Africa arrives.'” (Express) In the meantime, central and northern Europe and parts of Britain are being pounded by heavy thunderstorms.

Russia: A gentle nudge from your Gran has spurred the Floodlist team into reporting mainly as follows: “2,699 people in 8 districts of the Irkutsk region (Siberia) have been affected by (a) new wave of floods that started after heavy rains in the area. TASS says the water level in the Iya river in the region reached 11.25 metres on 31 July, well above the 7 metre danger mark. Flooding is also affecting the Amur region, where a state of emergency was declared on 25 July. Over 2,300 people have been evacuated. One of the worst hit areas is the city of Belogorsk and the surrounding district after flooding from the Tom River, a tributary of the Zeya.”

Meanwhile authorities have declared a state of emergency over wildfires in Siberia and the Far East. Almost 3 million hectares of land are estimated to have been affected, according to Russia’s Federal Forestry Agency. (Floodlist)

India: “7 people have died in Maharashtra in flood- and rain-related incidents, including drowning and collapsed buildings, since 27 July. As many as 166 people have now died in the state since the start of this year’s monsoon. A total of 55 villages are affected, with over 1,500 people evacuated.

“Meanwhile the death toll continues to rise in the NE states of Bihar and Assam. As of 30 July, DMD reported 127 fatalities in Bihar and 89 in Assam. As of 30 July there were over 650,000 people displaced in the two states. Elsewhere in the country, 26 people have died in Kerala and 13 in Rajasthan.” (Floodlist)

Boglington-on-Sea: Where normal is the new unusual…. I’m just putting a sweater on now, for the first time in weeks. It’s been struggling to reach 17C all day under gray skies, just like old times. The bonkers Express website is offering us a Grand Solar Minimum ice age for the next 30 years. That’ll see me out, then.

Residents of Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, were told to leave their homes and make arrangements to stay with friends or family “for a number of days” after severe weather in recent days left the Toddbrook reservoir above the town badly damaged and dangerously full. (Guardian)

Flooding in Yorkshire after 3 inches of rain – a month’s worth – fell in 4 hours, 5-in over 24 hours, washing out roads and bridges. A landslip on 30 July blocked train tracks between Carlisle and Skipton, disrupting rail travel. (Floodlist)

Atlantic: Two systems are rivals to intensify later in the week, with the name Chantal next on the list. One is a disturbance dumping heavy rain in the area of Puerto Rico that could become a Tropical Storm threat to Florida if it doesn’t get stopped either by wind shear or the mountains of Hispaniola. The other is a disturbance that’s just come out of West Africa along the usual hurricane trail, heading for the Leeward Islands. (Accuweather)

Tunnel approaching….

Arctic: The record-setting heat wave has moved north over Greenland, triggering temperatures as much as 25 to 30 deg. F. (16.6 C) warmer than normal. Tuesday’s (30 July) temperature may have surpassed 75 F. in some regions. The heatwave is expected to peak on Thursday with the biggest single-day melt ever recorded in Greenland. On 1 August alone, more than 12 billion tons of water will find its way down to the ocean, irreversibly raising sea levels. (Guardian, citing Rolling Stone)

President Trump has offered President Putin help to bring Siberia’s four months of wildfires under control. Raking the Taiga, possibly?

Yellowstone: 7 times in June, 5 times in July…. Biggest in the park, the Steamboat geyser went off again yesterday, 30 July, well ahead of its record year in 2018. Harmonic tremors continuing. (Greeley, citing USGS) Much excitement however is occurring at California’s rival Long Valley supervolcano (the magma chambers of the two may be connected), where USGS appears to be conducting extra aerial surveys, there have been earthquake swarms and there’s been 32 inches of ground uplift.

Moonshine: A “Black Supermoon” will not be visible over the USA tonight, 1 August. It will not be visible again over the UK at the end of the month. I have no idea, look it up. It’s bound to be cloudy.

 

Would you like ice in that?

Between 17 September, 1989 and 17 September, 2012, the extent of sea ice in the Arctic almost exactly halved: from 6.9m sq km to 3.4m sq km.

17 September is generally reckoned to be the perigee of annual ice extent, after the summer melt. 2012’s was the lowest extent recorded since satellite measurement began in the late 1970s.

On 28 July this year, extent was at 6.5m sq km., leaving 52 days of melting to go. An extrapolation of the extent at the current rate of melting would leave no sea ice left by 17 September, 2019. (Arctic News, 30 July)

Why we need to ban fracking now… The Ruling Class… Boris lays an egg… GW: As yet, there seems to be no weather

Boris Johnson holds a chicken at Shervington Farm near Newport, south Wales.

“This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you…”

(alternatively: “Have you met my new Head of Communications?”)

 

“Spikes in toxic air pollution accompany fracking wherever it goes. Drinking water is destroyed. Earthquakes are triggered. Abandoned wells leak. Pipelines explode. Climate-killing methane escapes from every component part. And nearby residents are suffering health problems consistent with their exposures—including newborn infants.” – Sandra Steingraber, PhD, of Concerned Health Professionals of New York (commenting on PSR report, March 2018)

New York State, which has no known gas reserves, banned fracking in 2012. In March 2017, Maryland became the first state in the US with proven gas reserves to pass a law banning fracking. Britain, however, continues to welcome the industry with police dogs.

Why we need to ban fracking now….

I wonder, does anyone now not imagine that whatever our government says about anything it is responsible for – the effects of austerity policies on poverty and educational standards, for instance – it is lying to us?

A spokeswoman from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Independent climate experts have recognised that natural gas has a role to play as we meet our 2050 net zero emissions target – now firmly set in law.

“Exploring the potential of a new domestic energy source is not only compatible with these world-leading climate goals, it could also deliver substantial economic benefits, through the creation of well-paid, high-quality jobs.” (Guardian)

Thus, the civil service in its scientific pig-ignorance and lazy habit of dissimulating dismisses Jeremy Corbyn’s request that the government should reverse-ferret their craven policy on fracking – the hydraulic fracturing – Americans can’t pronounce fracturing – of underground shale deposits to force “natural” gas to the surface.

A toxic cocktail of chemicals dissolved in a large volume of otherwise drinkable water is pumped at high pressure into the brittle layers of rock formed from successive seasons of ancient floodplain siltation, to crack them apart and drive out the trapped gas. Not all of it is captured; excess is generally flared off.

“Natural gas (also called fossil gas) is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, but commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or helium.” (Google)

At this point, one should emphasise perhaps that, no, dear Government spokeshitter, “natural” gas – a fossil fuel – is not “new”, or different from, or better for the environment than the carbon dioxide driven off by burning anything – coal, wood, charcoal, garbage – briquettes from the garage. That it might be, is a lie promulgated by the PR boys of the energy industry.

It is simply a matter of relative management efficiency as to how much risk is created.

As your unscientific Uncle B. explains, based on superficial “research” (generally, reading the first paragraphs of articles on Wikipedia):

Methane – CH4, a compound of carbon and hydrogen – decays relatively quickly in the atmosphere. The single carbon atom binds with two oxygen atoms to make carbon dioxide (CO2). During the first ten years of dissipation, CH4 is up to 150 times more efficient a reserve of latent heat than CO2, a “greenhouse gas”, which remains in the atmosphere for a hundred years or more. Contrary to popular belief, vegetation does not absorb it all; and when vegetation dies, the CO2 is released once more to the atmosphere.

While we read that the average concentration of free CO2 in the atmosphere has risen from 280 to 415 parts per million since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the “carbon equivalent” of all the so-called heat-retaining greenhouse gases, including CH4 – as well as oxides of nitrogen and various chlorine compounds (e.g. CFCs), sulphur dioxide and even water vapor – is now over 560 parts per million; it having been calculated donkeys’ years ago, that a doubling of the CO2 content (which this is) would produce 5 degrees Celsius of heat-forcing – recognized now as probable extinction level for most species on earth.

Of further concern to us, at least for now, is that beyond 5 degrees, runaway heating rapidly extrapolates to produce an atmosphere that no longer supports any kind of life. Nothing like this has been experienced in the history of the earth, that was not caused by cataclysmic seismic events and, in the past, has not been recoverable over periods of millions of years.

So here we are.

Journalists continuing to parrot the “official” IPCC line that we face 4 degrees of warming possibly by 2100 and thus have ten years remaining in which to take remedial action; or the Paris line that an (already exceeded) 1.5 degrees is the limitation target to aim for by 2030, or that “sea-level rise” is the principal threat, are simply not looking where they are treading.

In all likelihood, not a few scientists believe, there is no drawing back from 5 degrees, possibly before 2030. Unless the “official” sources can all work from the same baseline and sing from the same hymn sheet as to the probability of outcomes, they have to stop playing this meaningless numbers game. It’s just confusing people.

As the atmosphere heats up, which it is doing alarmingly quickly now – remembering that most of the “global warming” has thus far been absorbed in the sea – CH4 release from various sources is also speeded up. The Arctic permafrost is one potential source of huge volumes – planet-killing volumes – of methane, which is detectably pouring out by land and sea from northerly regions where overland temperatures this summer have reached 35C.

This is known as a “feedback loop” – the more the atmosphere heats, the more greenhouse gases are released from natural carbon “sinks”. But there are many such feedbacks in play (and let’s not keep crossing our wires: global heating is not a cause of, or caused by, or even the same issue as, plastics pollution, the latest distraction.)

It is thus debatable that producing and burning more “natural” gas is going to have any effect other than to make it totally impossible to reach the already futile goal of a net zero emissions target by 2050 – by which time, at the present rate of emissions, we shall have ceased to exist for all economic purposes as a species.

It is bizarre, is it not, that while oil and gas frackers are forcing carbon out of the ground in this brutal way, willed on by governments, the same governments are speaking optimistically of technologies that will lock carbon from burning fossil fuel back under the ground.

The government knows perfectly well that to achieve zero “net emissions” implies carbon trading – offloading our own excess emissions totals onto less polluting – i.e. poorer – countries. It’s inconceivable that even becoming 100% reliant on renewables for electricity generation we could stop emitting carbon from all sources without the complete cessation of economic activity, including mechanized transport. Polite though it is to refer to relative “per capita” emissions rather than gross annual tonnage, industrialization of the developing world by any and all technological means, including fossil fuels, is not going to stop for us.

And when governments stress the economic and social importance of GDP, and of Trade, well, both depend on increasing energy-reliant production. There is no saving us from that.

But there’s more:

” A (2018) report by two leading health professional organizations—Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York—tracks and analyzes the rapidly emerging science that points to the increasing dangers to health, including respiratory disease, cancer risk, and low birth weight and preterm birth, both of which are leading causes of infant death.” (PSR website)

So, here is important research that, as far as I can determine, has been completely ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media since its publication, 17 months ago.

The two organizations conducted a meta-analysis of more than 1,300 peer-reviewed papers from the previous ten years on the health risks to local communities associated with fracking, finding that almost all raised serious concerns. “Substantial scientific evidence now leaves no question that drilling and fracking cause serious harms to public health.”

What was that about “substantial economic benefits”? “Quality jobs”? (we already have nearly full employment, as people on minimum wage scurry about like ants, burning oil and delivering things to other people on minimum wage).

A 2017 article in Forbes magazine reported:

“An epidemiological study of more than 400,000 patients of Pennsylvania’s Geisinger clinic, done with Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, found a significant association between fracking and increases in mild, moderate and severe cases of asthma. Toxic gases like benzene are released from the rock by fracking. … These noxious chemicals and particulates are also released by the diesel powered pumps used to inject the water.”

The author, Judy Stone goes on to excoriate the Environmental Protection Agency under Trump’s appointed energy-industry shill, Scott Pruitt, for deliberately downplaying the health risks of fracking to local communities. As far as I know, our own Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs has never even mentioned that there are any.

On shaky ground

Then there is the, as yet minor, problem of seismic disturbance. Over the course of 30 years or so, the frequency and magnitude of earthquakes in so-called fracking zones in US states like Colorado, Arkansas Texas and California where this method of extraction is extremely popular, and gas fields cover millions of acres with tens of thousands of pumping stations, heedless of whoever lives nearby, has been amplified a thousandfold.

The rule in Britain is that, if an earth tremor is recorded centered on a fracking site at M0.5 or more on the Richter scale, drilling has to stop for a survey to be carried out. This has happened many times, much to the annoyance of the Government-approved contractor, Cuadrilla. A M0.5 earthquake is barely detectable on the surface and causes no damage – other than to release more methane to the environment. No wonder they get cross.

Over the years, however, earthquakes in America associated with fracking operations have continued to grow in size. Colorado, for instance, would experience a M3.0 earthquake possibly three times a year. That figure is now over 800, and magnitudes of M4.0 are common (Janitch, citing USGS). “Each unit of magnitude represents a nearly 32-fold increase in the energy (strength) of an earthquake.” (Wikipedia).

There is no reason to suppose that the British substratum is any less faulted; although not, of course, anything like California’s notorious seismic instability, and that we are somehow immune to earthquakes. Actually, we get small ones all the time.

While the industry continues to deny it, their operations in the USA have polluted and overdepleted reserves of groundwater – the depletion of reservoirs is also a cause of earth tremors – depriving communities and farmers of safe drinking water and irrigation supplies, at a time when long-term drought is assisting the process.

Householders have reported adverse effects, such as methane leaking into their homes; famously, water coming from taps has been videoed, catching on fire. That the malignant Trump administration continues to rollback regulations governing fracking is surely in itself an acknowledgement of the dangers.

The British government’s line on fracking is pernicious nonsense, and they know it. They are lying to us, as usual. We need to wean ourselves off dependency on gas as a domestic fuel ASAP and not pretend that the word “natural” is anything other than a marketing ploy. There is nothing natural about fracking.

If there is the slightest possibility that once they got into power a Corbyn or other Labour government would stop it, we need to vote for them.

But don’t hold your breath.

http://www.psr.org/blog/2018/03/13/a-new-fracking-landscape-report-on-recent-science-shows-overwhelming-evidence-of-harm/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2017/02/23/fracking-is-dangerous-to-your-health-heres-why/#4161be995945

http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/ (“Smoke Covers Much Of Siberia” – 25 July)

 

The Ruling Class

(This piece first appeared in The Pumpkin, Issue 92. It has since undergone editing to make it more insulting.)

Puce-faced, bug-eyed, apoplectic, squirearchical Tory caricature, Mark Field MP, the biological equivalent of a “John Bull” Toby jug, a man reared entirely on bloody beef and claret, has been “pardoned” by Boris Johnson, who has called off an internal inquiry into a violent incident witnessed by millions, saying it was “a matter for the previous Prime Minister.”

Classic overgrown public-school sneering patrician bully-boy, Field was caught on camera at a black-tie do for the ruling financial elite, grabbing a peaceful young female Greenpeace climate protester by the throat and smashing her into a pillar, before frogmarching her by the neck out of the room, as the other hooray-Henries cheered. No apology has been audibly or visibly forthcoming.

Crimes of violence obviously ceased to be crimes at the stroke of midnight, the night Mrs May stepped down and “Minority Johnson” stepped up. The odious Johnson – Boris Notgodunov, as we continue to call him, with reference to the Mussorgsky opera –  is greenlighting violence against women, which is hardly unexpected, given the alarm of his former neighbours.

The monstrous dictatorship of the Bullingdon Club is rising.

We have been warned.

 

Boris lays an egg

“The new head of communications to the prime minister of the United Kingdom used to dress up as a chicken and heckle Tory politicians, his former employer has said. Lee Cain, who has been appointed as Boris Johnson’s chief spin doctor, was previously a Fleet Street (Mirror) journalist.” – Guardian, 30 July.

Needless to add, he also worked for Vote.Leave. Virtually the whole of Johnson’s administration is pro-Brexit, many the harder the better. That compares with just under half the people – 16 million – who voted in the 2016 referendum to Remain.

The 48% now has zero representation in government; while many Leave voters who did not anticipate leaving in complete chaos with no trade agreements or customs protocols in place and foreign employers abandoning the UK in droves, while Scotland secedes from the Union, Wales bleats and terrorism returns to Northern Ireland, and the Tories double-down on privatizing the NHS, also go unheard.

Democracy in action.

 

Well, fuck you too

A Reader asks, am I planning to make satirical remarks about Jacob Rees-Mogg, and the old story recently revived, that he has issued a grammar book of his own invention to his new staff at whatever blighted ministry Notgodunov has sent him to, presumably in a sedan chair borne through well-paid crowds chanting hozannahs.

As it is something I have frequently come to blows over with Commissioning Editors, the use of “due to” when you should say “owing to”, I would just like to mention that, if in the unlikely scenario the limpid Victorianist were to be standing mistakenly on the wrong platform, say Platform 9, at Paddington station, when the announcer informed him that “the train now due to depart from Platform 4 is the 3.25 to Minehead” and he were to throw a conniption fit, blasting the poor woman for saying “due to” instead of “owing to”, as per his grammatical instructions, people would think him an ill-mannered brute and a complete tosser who deserved to miss his train.

I made a similar point to the Grauniad only yesterday and was mortified to find my Comment had been blocked by the Moderator, even though I used asterisks.

Well, fuck you too.

(I can say what I like on my own site!)

PS – This is Post #799… Which means the next one will be #800! Another milestone passed! Cheers!

 

GW: As yet, there seems to be no weather

All I have to report as of today is a tropical ‘disturbance’ bringing heavy rain to Puerto Rico, that Accuweather says might turn into something more; twins, who may have died because they were left in a hot car in New York; more possible flooding heading northeast out of the midwest (yawn); a plague of locusts in Las Vegas; possible Tropical Storm Wipha organizing east of the Philippines; forests dying because of the long drought affecting Germany.

Wunderground has: “Two well-organized tropical storms are on track to become potent hurricanes as they head from the Eastern toward the Central Pacific. Hawaiians should keep an eye on both, although the second one—Flossie—appears to be the main concern. Meanwhile, the Atlantic continues to percolate (sic) with tropical waves that aren’t managing to organize into full-fledged cyclones just yet.” The recent heatwave in Europe is still moving warm air and water northwards into the Arctic, where it’s been warm and sunny all summer. Sea ice extent is only a little greater than the record low of 2012 (that was enabled by a subtropical cyclone) with two months to go before the September minimum, while its overall volume is already the lowest ever recorded.

Pip pip!

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 92: I was down there also… Treason!… We smell a rat… The grass is bluer… GW: And I’m aflame with such a burning desire.

Lie of the day

“I was down there also, but I’m not considering myself a first responder”

– Trump lied magnanimously at a Rose Garden event, where genuine first responders on 9/11 were present to witness him signing a bill protecting their longterm medical care against his assaults on Obama’s Affordable Care Act. He went on to tell the heroic men and women who were really there at Ground Zero, that he had been down often, helping with moving rubble – a complete fantasy.

The Pumpkin looks forward to the fact-checkers’ version, especially as Trump has several times been forced to row back on lies that he “lost many friends”. There is no evidence whatever that he lost anybody he knew on 9/11; or that he was ever there – especially as he previously claimed to have been in New Jersey, where he personally “witnessed thousands of Muslims” dancing and cheering; something that also never happened.

We’ve since learned that he continues to tell the story of how he was luckily pulled off a helicopter flight before it crashed in 1989, killing two crew and three of his employees. A former PA says that’s just bullshit, he hadn’t been due to fly. He just has to insert himself, Zelig-like, into every drama.

I thought he might be crazy, but no: he’s just a pathetic, attention-seeking little creep.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping clink glasses at a conference in Tajikistan.

“And once we’ve necked a few of these babes, we can throw the turnips at the Americans!”

 

“This is the new reality of Trumpworld, in which truth is forced to kneel by an open grave, before being shot through the head.”

Treason!

Astonishingly, since Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s six-hour appearance in front of the House Judiciary Committee being lightly slapped around on his famous report, 488 pages that few Murkans could be bothered to read – the Disney version comes out next month – Trump and his scummy acolytes have been loudly and triumphantly proclaiming that he said in all respects, exactly the opposite of what anyone watching would have clearly heard him say.

Asked directly by chairman Jerrold Nadler if his report “totally exonerated” Trump, as the president has been going around saying for five months since the report was published, Mueller clearly and unambiguously replied: “No. “Was there obstruction of justice? “Yes”.

Yet Trump is still furiously tweeting that Mueller’s testimony totally exonerated him.

Because he knows, not enough people would have been watching. Again, it’s all about the ratings, the percentages – the distractor factor. Without sufficient consensus – critical mass – between people who heard Mueller not exonerating the president, and the majority who weren’t watching, Trump is gambling, he can create enough doubt for those who did hear it, to be persuaded that they heard exactly the opposite of what they heard.

Never mistake this man for a complete clown.

Asked if he thought Russian activities had played a part in Trump’s election, Mueller replied “Yes”, and added that he had no doubt the Russians were continuing to interfere “as we sit here” in the 2020 campaign.

Yet Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s former press spokeswoman, now looking like zombie-shit (he added, ungallantly) since her ouster, her lyin’ eyes reduced to puffy slits, has tweeted that Mueller said exactly the opposite, totally vindicating the president and presumably the Russians. While Trump himself has doubled down on his “witch hunt” slogan, openly accusing Mueller of “treason”.

Treason! A legally constituted criminal investigation, sanctioned by no fewer than six circuit court judges, whose initial causes and purposes have twice been thoroughly investigated and found to be free of any possible taint of conspiracy against the president or any suggestion of “fakery” by Mrs Clinton, President Obama and the Democrat party.

(Oh, but Peter Strzok made a joke… Presidential harrassment! Witch hunt! Failing FBI! Dem conspiracy! Treason!)

Treason – a capital offence. While we might perhaps note, the Justice Department has just this week revived capital punishment for federal crimes, after decades in suspension. Intimidation? Surely not.

Treason – because Mueller twice disobeyed Trump’s illegal order to defy the Congress and not show up to testify.

Just more lies, piled on lies. Treason.

A report, of which Mueller himself commented at last month’s private hearing that if his findings had applied to anyone in America other than the president, they would have been indicted for obstructing justice. (He is still of the opinion that if Trump loses the 2020 election and leaves office next year, he can be indicted. After a second term, however, he is not so certain as there is a statute of limitations that may have run out by then.)

A report, which he had to defend twice in letters, accusing Attorney General Barr of putting out a false summary for public consumption prior to releasing the redacted version to Congress, claiming it had exonerated the president when it had not.

(Okay, Mueller has to take the blame for not saying as much without a confusing double-negative and a lot of pussyfooting, hand-wringing and punch-pulling over whether or not you could indict a sitting president and, even if you could, did he have the authority to do it? No, he didn’t.)

Findings, of which no fewer than ONE THOUSAND current and former prosecuting attorneys have signed an opinion stating that indictable crimes were undoubtedly committed, on the basis of the evidence.

A report, from which Trump’s enablers in the senate are desperately trying to persuade the American public that it’s “time to move on”, because there’s nothing in it.

This is the new reality of Trumpworld, in which truth is forced to kneel by an open grave, before being shot through the head.

And what is the excuse for the liar, Trump to contradict every word Mr Mueller said at that hearing? Well, as reported by a fawning, cringing media, even by the Washington Post and the New York Times – who should know better than to give the orange fabulist a pass –  it was because Mr Mueller’s “performance” lacked conviction, making him sound “old”, “unreliable” or even “incompetent”. It was “disappointing” that he had not added significantly to his thoroughly comprehensive report.

Disappointing, too, I imagine, that he did not break into a chorus of Happy Days Are Here Again and go tap-dancing around the room in a pink tutu, sprinkling fairy dust from a wand.

In other words, this 74-year-old man, a notoriously self-effacing, media-shy Purple Heart combat veteran and former most highly regarded Director of the FBI for twelve years, supported by a handpicked team of highly experienced, specialised prosecutors and the resources of the number one federal crime-fighting agency in the country; who had only the day before been instructed not to say certain things by Trump’s pet Deppity Dawg Attorney General, Barr – who has himself been ruled to be criminally in contempt of Congress – and was struggling to balance his allegiances to the Department of Justice (to which he was answerable); to the sacred office of the president, that he swore an oath to uphold; and to the American people, was not sufficiently “entertaining” for a TV audience.

Yet in all the key respects – I did not watch all six hours, just the highlights – his testimony totally supported the conclusions of the written report, that is there for anyone to read if they even give a damn, which clearly no-one now does.

Murka has moved on, to discussion of whether children in concentration camps should be allowed to sleep, eat, wash and use a toilet, or whether they are happier in conditions under which it would be illegal to keep a herd of pigs. Whether or not the president is a lying, criminal sonofabitch, well, is the Pope a Catholic? Who cares!

Murka has moved on, to discussion of whether people of colour should go back to whichever shitholes their ancestors came from, and stop becoming legitimately elected representatives of their communities, telling white folks how to run their country.

Murka is too busy fascinating over another story of a pedophile ring – this time, one that seems to have had an actual existence. Oh, and that may once have involved Trump! (He hasn’t said he wasn’t, only that he is “no longer a fan” of Jeffrey Epstein.) And Murka is worried Trump’s twin satraps, Pompeo and Bolton, may be dragging them into an oil war again, against a manufactured enemy.

There was no contradiction or backtracking on the Grandpa Mueller show. No “confusion”, although a lot of whiffling and card-sorting. Even in its redacted form, blacking out references to intelligence reports and grand jury testimony, the Mueller team had found that:

Yes, there was collusion with the Russian attempt to influence the election –  indeed, Trump has since stated publicly on camera that he would do it again! He would see no reason to inform the FBI if the Russians offered him “dirt” on his next opponent, “why would I?”

One hundred and forty instances were cited, of communication between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign team. But “collusion” is not the word Mueller uses, because “collusion” is nowhere to be found in the criminal law. “Collusion” is not the name of the crime. “Conspiracy” is. Thus, and thus alone, there was no “collusion”.

And there was not sufficient connection found between campaign members and Trump himself on the issue of Russian interference, that would stand-up a criminal charge of conspiracy; although nobody objected to the Russians interfering, indeed they positively welcomed it. This is a legal technicality, not proof of innocence. Although, as Mueller said at the hearing, having understandably some difficulty getting the words out, Trump “generally, yes” had lied to him in written answers to questions, and other Trump officials had lied under questioning, while documents and recordings had been destroyed, so that all the evidence could not be properly evaluated.

(It may be noted, that the full story of the Russian campaign of interference was not covered by the report, or in Mueller’s testimony because, as he said, it is still under investigation. Nevertheless, there was no doubt it happened; which is why Trump has now let the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, go and has nominated a dumbfuck Texan in his place, a man with no intel experience, who agrees that Mueller, Clinton and President Obama should be investigated for treason. Yes, Dear Reader, you are watching a re-run of the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany, only without the pretty uniforms.)

And yes, there was obstruction of justice. Eleven counts, detailing meticulously how Trump attempted to shut down the investigation by ordering his staffers to bully and intimidate and threaten those involved, right up even to the level of the then-Attorney General, Mr Sessions – by attempting at every stage to undermine the credibility of investigators and prosecutors; ordering his people to manufacture, destroy or withold evidence; and firing anyone he had the power to fire, who was connected with the investigation.

Were those the actions of an innocent man, d’you think, or of a career criminal “trained” in aggressive-defensive tactics by the notorious mafia attorney, his father’s old consigliere, Roy Cohn?

And he is still obstructing justice, continually seeking to discredit and undermine (and even to personally sue) the Congressional committees and their chairmen battling to investigate the Trump campaign and his nefarious financial affairs; branding the ongoing inquiries as more evidence of a “witch-hunt”; presidential “harassment”, such as no president before has ever had to put up with (I wonder why not?) nor should ever again; commanding his present and former staff under made-up rules not to comply with legal subpoenas requiring their testimony and the release of documents.

Yet, by some special dark magic and the tragic shortcomings of a constitution whose authors never imagined a hellish succubus like Trump would be able to con its way into the White House, this terrible, incompetent old grifter, made-for-TV businessman and superannuated, barely literate playboy whose ignorance of geopolitics and history lead him to believe that democracy is just a loser’s word for totalitarian dictatorship, this “kakistocrat” remains perhaps more firmly in office, with higher approval ratings, than before.

As Trump daily demonstrates, the rule of law in America has ended; the rule of “lie” is firmly established. The only version of reality permitted is the one he and his officials choose to invent and endorse to cement their powerbase. The man is a gangster, pure and simple; bidding for leadership of a cabal of international gangster-capitalists clamped like an octopus over the face of humanity.

 

We smell a rat

Trump has been doubling down, as he always does when criticized for wild statements he makes, on his remarks about Elijah Cummings, chair of the Oversight Commitee, that is looking into his murky tax affairs. The congressman represents a ward in Baltimore that Trump has asserted is a disgusting, rat-infested, crime-ridden shithole.

The assiduous reporters at the Washington Post have pointed out, over 900 rental properties in that area of Baltimore are owned by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner’s company, that has been cited for over 200 code violations in respect of city housing ordinances.

They refer to an investigation by the New York Times and Pro Publica published in 2012, when tenants of Kushner properties reported mouse infestations, mold problems and maggots. A private investigator who looked into Kushner’s property management company, Westminster Management, described the managers as ‘slumlords.’

 

The grass is bluer

Former Republican congressman, now host of the MSNBC “Morning Joe” program, and man-who-has-seen-the-light, Joe Scarborough has taken to calling the leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, not without a trace of contempt, “Moscow Mitch”.

It marks a change of name for the profoundly venal and obstructionist Senator from Kentucky, McConnell, who has hitherto been known – and has branded himself for promotional purposes, because he thinks it’s funny – as “Cocaine Mitch”.

The nickname derives from some past allegations of skulduggery involving his wife’s Chinese family, apparently. The pair of them – Elaine Chao is a Trump appointee, Secretary for Transportation – are also deeply mired in a corruption-to-influence-peddling scandal; not that you’d remember that, what with the other shit flying around, an’ all.

Whatever he’s on, McConnell is refusing to stop calling “a hoax” (zero points for originality), the reports of his own Intelligence Committee gleaned from the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA and the FBI, that there’s continuing Russian online interference in the 2020 election; and is adamant that he won’t even allow a debate on cyber-security measures the Democrats in the lower House have passed to the Senate for ratification.

The question everyone is obviously asking is, whyever not? Why would he not defend his country against a hostile adversary? It can’t be merely because he has made a career out of stymieing every legitimate attempt by the Democrats to introduce legislation in the Senate, or to get their judicial nominees ratified, since Obama first became president?

It’s being suggested he may not want to upset Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch mate of Putin’s known as Russia’s “Aluminum King” (allegedly murdering his way to the throne), who is offering to open a scenic smelting plant amid the rolling hills of Mitch’s bluegrass constituency.

McConnell’s Senate lifted Deripaska’s sanctions last December, despite testimony in the Manafort trials that the Russian used financial kompromat to push Manafort into a relationship with a Russian agent, Kalimnick, and the pair of them went fishing for voter data to send back to the GRU.

But the media is leaning more toward the theory that it’s because McConnell has read the polls and sees that Trump can’t win without foreign help. The kind of help he has publicly said he would welcome.

I love the deep scent of corruption among the julep trees, whatever, don’t you? Especially when it comes laced with a dangerous hint of treason:

“Collusion”, by Parfums de Trump. For a greater you!

 

GW: And I’m aflame with such a burning desire

Europe: Firefighters are battling wildfires on multiple fronts in southern Italy, including one blaze in Puglia that left at least one person dead. 3 Canadair aircraft were dumping water on a wildfire raging in Tortoli, Sardinia, that forced the evacuation of a beach and some homes. (NYT) The weather outlook in the wake of last week’s powerful heatwave across the northern Mediterranean, southern France, northern Italy and the Adriatic, pushing northwards through the Balkans, is for more severe ‘supercell’ storms, with destructive high winds, potential for tornadoes, torrential (“excessive”) rain, spectacular lightning and large hail. (Severe-weather.eu)

And we have our very own Tropical Storm… an area of exceptionally low cyclonic pressure off the Bay of Biscay is likely to bring damaging winds and torrential rain to northwestern France and southwest England, Tuesday 30 July. (Severe-weather.eu) The heat plume that brought new record temperatures to Britain (38.7C) and France last week, shattering the ones set in June, has resulted in a reading of 34C in Finland.

USA: An Idaho wildfire that burned 113,000 acres and forced the partial evacuation of the nation’s leading nuclear energy research lab, INL, has been partly contained, officials said (25 July). The fast-moving Sheep Fire was sparked by a lightning strike near Idaho Falls. Dry conditions and rising temperatures are creating a perfect environment for summer wildfires. The Vader Fire, Canyon Fire and Shady Fire are burning farther west in National Forest land. (CNN) New York was under a 95 degree Heat Index advisory, 30 July (Accuweather).

Arctic: Hundreds of fires are continuing to burn out of control in northern Canada, Greenland and Siberia, where nobody much is available to fight them. Some have extended over 300 thousand Ha. Along with the rest of the hemisphere, “The Arctic region recorded its hottest June ever (10C anomaly). Since the start of that month, more than 100 wildfires have burned in the Arctic circle. In Russia, 11 of 49 regions are experiencing wildfires. (Alberta has had over 400). The WMO has called the fires “unprecedented” (The Guardian, 26 July). Soot is falling on ice fields, darkening them and speeding melting. Smoke is detected all around the globe and air quality in northerly cities is becoming a health hazard.

On 25 July, CO2 across Siberia where many fires are burning was measured at 1,205 parts per million, and poisonous carbon monoxide at over 80 thousand parts per billion. (Arctic News) Over the whole ocean, sea ice has plummeted to its lowest ever measured volume. There is now no ancient sea ice left off the north coast of Greenland, where it has been raining for days.

Russia: Even the usually optimistic Siberian Times, that likes to attract tourism, is alarmed: “A series of natural disasters are hitting Siberia, with the latest a dire threat from severe flooding to Baikal – the oldest and deepest lake in the world, containing 20% of the planet’s unfrozen freshwater. The alert concerns flooding in Baikalsk – where evacuation has begun – and concerns that toxic mudflows can dump poisonous sludge from a former pulp and paper mill into the lake’s pristine waters. Pools of liquid sludge containing lignin pose a huge threat to life in Baikal with warnings of an ‘ecological catastrophe’. ‘We can only pray now,” said one campaigner pointing to a risk of a dam burst on the Solzana River where a bride (bridge, surely? ed.) had been swept away already.”

“Almost 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres, an area greater than the size of the state of Massachusetts) are now burning in Siberia and the Russian Far East.” Smoke has covered an area larger than the size of the EU.

India: 1,050 people were rescued by Naval units from a train stuck for 15 hours in floods outside  Mumbai, 26 July. Flights were cancelled at the airport. The death toll from this year’s monsoon flooding in India is over 600. (BBC) Other parts of the country such as Tamil Nadu are trapped in drought.

Brazil: 3 people are confirmed dead and others missing in floods and landslides that have hit Pernambuco province. The government of Recife municipality said 102mm of rain fell in 6 hours early on 24 July. It’s the second “excessive” rainfall event in Pernambuco in 6 weeks: 7 people died there in June.

No denying it: a Swiss meta-analysis sampled from 700 data points of 20th-century research on cyclical warming and cooling has blown out of the water the energy-industry sponsored suggestion that current warming is merely normal cyclicality and things will cool down again in due course. Not only is the current state of warming twice as high as anything found over 2,000 years of past data (please, media, choose words more carefully – it wasn’t warmer 2,000 years ago, that’s just the chosen baseline!), but the so-called Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period supposed to prove warming is cyclical were far shallower, more intermittent, probably volcanic in origin and did not happen all at the same time across the whole globe.

CO2, they say, always was and is still the main driver of atmospheric forcing. 95% is man-made. Come on denier guys, give up, you know you’ve lost.

Tunnel approaching….

The Blessed Mary Greeley reports: 477 small earthquakes were recorded in 24 hours at Ridgecrest in Southern California yesterday (26 July) – scene of the big M7.1 quake three weeks ago. The city is located on a known faultline southwest of the Coso volcanic field, an area of hundreds of ancient volcanic cones thought to overlie a larger magma field than Yellowstone. The swarm is being read as an indication of pressure building and another big one is anticipated – even the “unzipping” of the famed San Andreas nearby.

Or not, as the case may be.

The following message posted on Mary’s site by “Rand Jooe” – I have previously alluded to the other Posts suggesting we all get to know Jesus – sums up the mood of nervous jitters:

“My sweet sweet Mary…. When I get ‘stressed’, I go get a x-LG jar of crunchy Jiff peanut butter, spoon & watch a little YouTube…. Chill. Now, we could infuse a bunch of x-crunchy peanut butter into the fault line, MAYBE, it might too CHILLOUT.
my2centsworth. 😜👍”

See what we might be losing?

Have more fun with money… Brexit: Spoiler alert… Miracle in Morrison’s… GW: We’re havin’ a heatwave, a tropical heatwave…… No collision!

Quote of the hour

Jamaica? No, she went of her own accord! Boom, boom!

Ivanka Trump – Orange Daddy’s shoo-in for chair of the World Bank – has tweeted her congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming Prime Minister of “the United Kingston”.

Theresa May watches England v Ireland test match

“Reserved? Who says?” Theresa May puts her hair up at the cricket.

Have more fun with money

A leaked document shows how the Department of Health has been preparing to announce the abandonment of a scheme to cut the number of acute beds in northwest London by reducing the number of hospitals from nine to five and moving patient care into “the community”.

“Shaping a Healthier Future” (SaHF) was a wheeze begun in 2010 under the shameful tenure of the role of Health Secretary by Jeremy Hunt and continued, until the decision was taken to give up, by his successor, Matt Hancock.

According to the report in The Guardian, £76 million was spent on consultants. Otherwise, nobody knows how much public money is going to have to be written off, after it was accepted that the concept of care in the community for patients with acute conditions is a logistical impossibility and medically unsafe.

After nine years, the plan to cut 600 acute care beds had resulted in the loss of just seven beds as the closures failed to keep pace with the rise in demand, which apparently no-one had predicted.

“Cllr Ben Coleman, chair of Hammersmith and Fulham’s health and wellbeing board, said: ‘This leaked document confirms that SaHF was a grotesque waste of time and public money, which threatened life-saving health services.’” (Guardian, 24 July)

So much for the much-vaunted fiscal responsibility of the Conservative party. Just more public money, pissed away in vast quantities by the people who brought us Chris Grayling – the Justice/Transport secretary who has cost the British taxpayer well north of £3 billion in failed project write-offs.

That’s on top of the report we relayed in the last issue, bearing the news that nearly £2 billion in overseas aid is being spent every year on supporting loans made to fossil-fuel industry projects in wealthy countries like Russia and Saudi Barbaria.

And now the not-very conservative Conservatives have foisted on Britain, a new Prime Minister – selected, not elected – with an atrocious record of squandering tens of £millions on fantasy projects and failed implementations while Mayor of London for eight disastrous years.

To quote a senior party member, asked why he preferred Johnson over Hunt, “Because he’s more fun!”

Great stuff, guys.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/24/millions-wasted-in-failed-nhs-hospital-closure-programme

 

Brexit: Spoiler alert

Open Democracy has a report today of an exercise in which a multinational group of academics, journalists, political thinkers and normal people “wargamed” Brexit in minute detail, to see what was the most likely outcome in the Autumn of all the possible scenarios thrown up by our hopeless politicians in Westminster.

It’s another referendum.

(Game not available for purchase. Other games may be afoot…)

 

A Florida insurance company claims to have sold nearly 6 thousand policies to people fearful of being kidnapped by aliens, among nearly 2 million who have signed up to a website urging them to turn up at the military airbase in Nevada known as Area 51, where for years conspiracy theorists have been sure the US government is holding an alien spaceship and the remains of its crew, to demand to see the evidence.

 

Miracle in Morrison’s

Off, all togged-up in the old YSL suit, to sing briefly at the funeral service this morning of my almost-something-more friend and/or colleague from choir, who keeled over last week.

Only 64 and seemingly as fit as anyone seriously proposing to walk from here to visit her daughter in Dubai next year, while watering the guerrilla garden of which she had made her grubby town-center cul-de-sac.

Her sister bravely made it 99% of the way through a charming tribute to her Quixotic life story, while one by one, tiny grandchildren were removed to make it easier for us oldies to hear what was being said.

As John Crace writes in today’s Guardian, of the accession speech to No. 10 of Boris Not-Gudenough, there is nothing more guaranteed to make someone depressed than a delusional narcissist telling you to be happy.

That’s pretty much what I thought when the imposing-looking Canon reminded us, she’d be in Heaven with Jesus for all Eternity.

I’d have made do with five more minutes down here.

The strange thing was, I spoke to many friends who told me, she’d just bumped into them, seemingly at random, over the course of the week before she died. I’m still trying to work out how, as on enquring further, it seems she died two days before I recollect to the best of my failing ability the time I last saw her, and we arranged to meet for tea.

Although intellectually lively, she was deeply religious, which is why I thought we’d ultimately not get on, but she wasn’t walking on water.

Does Morrison’s carpark count as the setting for a Divine apparition, I wonder?

 

GW: We’re havin’ a heatwave, a tropical heatwave…

France: “According to Météo-France, all-time record highs were set Tuesday in western France, including the cities of Brive, Bordeaux and Châteauroux, where temperatures climbed above 105 degrees Fahrenheit (42C). That’s equivalent to the average late-July high in Las Vegas and Phoenix.” Temperatures in some cities did not drop overnight below 25C, the high 70sF. The heat plume is spreading northwards and is expected to produce record highs in Scandinavia by the weekend. (The Weather Channel)

In other hot news, the French energy giant EDF was forced to shutdown two nuclear power plants on the 23rd because the water used for cooling the uranium fuel rods had overheated. Hosepipe bans are in force in 73 of France’s 96 Départements.

Organisers of the Tour de France have had to cancel stages because of the extreme weather. A hailstorm and a landslide forced the race jury and organisers to stop the 19th stage with the extreme weather conditions having damaged other roads.

Boglington-on-Sea: “Heatwave, what heatwave?” A mostly cloudy day, 24 July, with the odd sunny interval, it’s barely made it to 25C here after yesterday’s peak of 32C – as measured digitally in the semi-shade of my front garden. London however is predicted to hit 37.7C, 100F on the 25th, and the Met Office is saying we could see 39C “somewhere in the south of England” – making it the hottest day in recorded history. (Express – didn’t quite make it. Nevertheless at 38.7 a new record.)

A body has been recovered and 2 men are still missing, after jumping into the River Thames to cool off. A 4th person is thought to have drowned at a water park in Gloucestershire.

USA: Intense storms have battered the East Coast, following a brutal but mercifully short heatwave. “A (very rare) EF-1 tornado with maximum winds of 110 mph carved a path of destruction on Cape Cod Tuesday 23rd, the National Weather Service confirmed. At one point nearly 54,000 customers were without power.” (Accuweather) Terrified yachties recorded the sea seeming to boil, and a motel had its entire roof ripped clean off. High winds brought down trees and power lines, and completely trashed a street market in Appleton City, Wisconsin.

Fire crews are battling a major wildfire, named the Museum Fire, north of Flagstaff, Arizona. 5 thousand residents are on alert to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

25 July, Accuweather reports, record LOW temperatures are arriving; states like Colorado, Akansas and Tennessee are looking at 50F to 60F, daytime. It hasn’t been that cold in July since 1905…. But in central California, a new heat anomaly is building, temperatures expected to break records with 110F in Fresno by the weekend.

Uganda: Flash floods have destroyed homes and crops after heavy rain, which is still continuing. Around 2 thousand people were left homeless. There’s especial concern over damage to rudimentary sanitary facilities as a vector for disease; and fears for possible food shortages by the autumn. (Floodlist).

India: “20 people have died and 3 are missing after heavy rain, floods and severe weather in the southern state of Kerala. The fatalities include 7 fishermen who died at sea. In a 24 hour period to 20 July, Kudulu recorded 310mm.” 1,200 people have been evacuated to shelters. (Floodlist)

Bangladesh: “Latest estimates from the National Disaster Response Coordination Centre, over 70 people have died and 5 million have been affected across 21 districts by the monsoon floods that began earlier this month. The death toll includes 56 from drowning, 8 from snake-bites and 7 from lightning strikes (Floodlist).

Cognitive dissonance: Trawling for news of Storm Chantal forming off Florida (it’s fizzled out), I hit on a website that said “Hurricane Chantal” had come ashore in Newfoundland in early August, 2019. WTF? Looking more closely, I see there are “fantasy hurricane” websites. The phrase “hole-in-the-head” springs to mind.

 

Tunnel approaching…

“…over a 10-year timescale, the current global release of methane from all anthropogenic sources exceeds all anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions as agents of global warming; that is, methane emissions are (150 times) more important than carbon dioxide emissions for driving the current rate of global warming. … Self-reinforcing feedback loops further accelerate heating in the Arctic and just one of them, seafloor methane, could suffice to cause runaway heating.”

Arctic News’ “Sam Carana” (an anonymous collective of polar researchers) are trying to get the threat from methane taken more seriously, as activists continue to follow the standard IPCC line in emphasizing carbon dioxide as the principal villain. By “runaway heating”, incidentally, they mean 18C by 2026 and heading on – following the extinction of all life (on Earth – but does life exist anywhere else?) and via the evaporation of the oceans – into a Venus scenario.

No collision!

NASA reports, a 390-ft-wide asteroid first spotted only 3 weeks ago was due to pass between Earth and the moon today, 24 July. At least, I’m assuming it’s passing… it’s still 24 July as I write….

25 July: Phew! This thing parted our hair… missed by just 70,000 km. 150 megatonne impact would have made a hole 2.5 km wide by 500m deep if it had hit without breaking up in the atmosphere (as they usually seem to) On land, take out a whole city. In the sea… devastating tsunami.

Meanwhile, strong drumbeats are being recorded on seismographs at Yellowstone, indicating a pressure-cooker effect from magma upwelling below. Similar seismic notes were recorded shortly before the devastating explosion in 1980 of Mt St Helen’s. (Mary Greeley) Another amateur seismologist, Ben Ferruaiolo reports, aftershocks are continuing to shake Ridgecrest, epicentre two weeks ago of the M7.1 earthquake in California; there’s ground uplift above the China Lake magma chamber (and military nuclear facility), another “supervolcano” lurking beneath the supposedly extinct Coso volcanic field north of the town.

Take cover, it’s Boris!… One of life’s ironies… Pot. Kettle. White?… Shit in that swamp… Where are they then?… GW: Helter, swelter.

Quote of the Week

“What Johnson understood was that in the digital age, voters were behaving more like an audience consuming entertainment than a civically engaged electorate. His shtick was no longer an aspect of his politics. It was his politics.” – Matthew D’Ancona, writing in The Guardian.

And for all Joy-Ann Reid’s handwringing over Trump as the ur-creature of white America’s deep-rooted, historical cultural racism*, isn’t that exactly what brought Donald Trump to power, his TV ratings; and why in Ukraine they have a political party led by a TV comedian going into coalition with another led by a rock singer, and why Italian neofascism is being enabled by another comedian leading a political movement?

What is killing the planet is consumer boredom.

*The Man Who Sold America. Random House, July 2019.

 

Protester ‘Chris’ at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“You never know, it might rain….” Hong Kong protests hot up.

Take cover, it’s Boris!

So it looks like Boris Johnson’s tragic fantasy that he is the reincarnation of Winston Churchill could come true sooner than he was hoping.

Apart from his schoolboy biography of the great man, with whom he shares American citizenship, I first spotted Johnson’s personal homage on these pages when he descended from the notorious red Brexit “battlebus” wearing – instead of his normal, rumpled suit – a light canvas jacket of the type worn by Churchill on his watercolor painting expeditions to the South of France.

Yes, I’m that kind of a detail man.

In retaliation for the Royal Navy seizing an Iranian oil tanker two weeks ago at Gibraltar, at the request of Mike “two lunches in a suit” Pompeo and the US State Department, claiming it was sanctions-busting and bound for Syria, Ayatollah Khameini’s demented Revolutionary Guard has pirated a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, with 23 crew on their way to Saudi Barbaria, and is steering it towards Iran.

(On closer examination, we find that the flag is the only British thing aboard the Stena Impero, actually a Swedish vessel with a motley crue. It was surely only a matter of time before this whole flags of convenience thing would get in a huge muddle.)

The US may very well extend its threat of protection for all its interests in the region against Iranian interference to its occasional closest “ally”, the island known as Golf Course 1. It’s a step nearer to the war for regime-change Pompeo is pushing for – even to the extent of repeating the same old preposterous lie the Bush administration concocted to justify its disastrous invasion, that Sunni Iraq was supporting Shiite Al Qaeda.

Not that many Murikans would have known the difference.

Johnson is expected to move into No. 10 Downing Street with his fun-loving mistress, party-girl Carrie “get off me, get out of my flat!” Symonds, by the end of next week as Britain’s least likely ever Prime Minister: a bumbling, stuttering hoaxer, a domestic abuser, a shameless liar, a spendthrift on vanity projects and an overentitled, shambolic, racist-lite buffoon, funded and promoted by some of the nastiest, greediest and most ambitious men on the planet.

It’s almost as if they’ve realized the game is up and are rushing to have the best time before we go extinct. (And there is a Deep Ecology school of thought that says, the quicker humans fuck off, the more chance the rest of the planet has to recover from us, before it turns into Venus #2.)

Don’t expect a kind of Prince Hal (Henry V) Shakespearian moment, when the prodigal heir to the throne turns, on his promotion to king, into a statesman of gravitas and tells his gross and licentious mentor, Sir John Falstaff, to fall to his prayers.

Johnson IS Falstaff.*

Take cover!

* Note: Your Uncle B. writes this comment on the 19th of July. On 25th July, the celebrated Fintan O’Toole writes in The Guardian:

“They go along with the fiction that Johnson is a Prince Hal who will metamorphose into the hero to lead England to a new Agincourt, while knowing damn well that he will always be a Falstaff for whom honour is just “a word”.

I hope he was well paid. Not as well as Johnson, though.

 

One of life’s ironies

Last Monday, or Tuesday possibly – I have a dreadful memory now for when things happen – a few days ago, I bumped into an old friend from choir in the carpark of my local supermarket. What she was doing there I have no idea – she lives in town and there are half a dozen food stores closer to home.

It seems she’d come to say goodbye.

I hadn’t seen her for many months, but she was in good form. She told me she was working part-time now and planning to retire fully when her pension kicked-in in September. She had plans to travel. Like most people our age she has family scattered globally. Whenever we meet like this we always end up suggesting we should have a proper catch-up over tea someday. It’s become almost a running joke, we’ve never managed it.

It’s about ten years ago now since we went on an entirely platonic walking holiday in Corsica. It just sounded like a nice idea, although no-one in the choir believed the platonic bit. We usually ended up arguing, so (having had two wives already) for me anyway, a relationship was never on the cards. She’s a deeply religious Catholic with profoundly conservative views and I’m a liberal-lefty, throw-it-up-in-the-air kind of atheist. The safe territory between the two was fun, but possibly limited in scope.

After sharing our last comfortable night for a fortnight, insisting on a twin-room – much to the mirth of the two French receptionists – in a three-star hotel, we set off on the train from Bastia to where the mapped hiking trail known to sadistic French tourist-board officials as a randonnée of only moderate difficulty started in the hills inland.

Despite the heat, those first seven kilometers along the metalled road leading gently uphill from the station to the village proved easy, and I made a macho point of outpacing her. The next day, however, the walk proper began, and things changed.

My friend half-joked – and this is the point of the story, I suppose – that as I was some years older than her I would only hold her back, and she didn’t want to be responsible for me when I collapsed and died in the middle of nowhere, being obviously so unsuited to the terrain. We decided to carry on separately by day and just meet up every evening for dinner at the 30-euro-a-night gites marked on the map along the way. She would go on ahead by herself.

I recall emerging each morning from deep, shady chestnut forests, only to spend the rest of the long day stumbling about on high, stony hillsides with far distant sea views, scrabbling up bone-dry creek beds in 90-degree heat, pouring sweat, my fingers and ankles painfully swollen with oedema, raving like a madman and casting aside the contents of my rucksack item by item as I went, to save weight. Once the bottle I carried was empty, by around 11 o’clock, there was not a drop of water anywhere to be had; no human habitation in view.

The stages each day were only seven or eight kilometers as the crow flies, but so mountainous they took hours to negotiate. At one point I was forced to cross a narrow, natural bridge over a ravine between two peaks, with a drop of perhaps a hundred feet on either side. Suffering as I do with acrophobia, it took an hour inching along on hands and knees, gibbering in terror, eyes tightly shut, to get across maybe 15 yards.

Just as well there was no-one around to see me.

My Beau Geste act in the blazing, pitiless sun lasted five days, until we rendezvoused at an agreeable seaside village with two beach bars and a small Napoleonic castle, that was shut. It was inaccessible by road. With many apologies, despite the beach being covered in a thick mat of rotting kelp and the first ten meters of seawater from the shore smelling like neat Ambre Solaire, the next morning I decided to stay there for a few days R&R, swimming off the pier, watching the yachts come and go and drinking ice-cold beer.

But the owner of the gite pointed out, the hostel accommodation was for one or two nights only, I could not live there permanently, so I travelled on to Ajaccio by boat, from where (after paying homage at the Little Emperor’s childhood home) I toured the island by bus and rail for a few days while my enduring and clearly super-fit, erstwhile companion pressed on, intrepidly completing the circuit by herself.

Arriving back in Bastia on the last-but-one day, I took a long walk out of town to try to find a place to eat. Everywhere was closed, it was some kind of holiday. I must have walked miles along the coast road in my bare feet and sandals before eventually finding a beachfront bar. The chargrilled Loup de Mer was so good, I took a photo of it, thus beginning the whole Instagram thing.

We met up again the next morning and flew back together, my feet a mass of painful blisters.

On Friday, I had an email from the secretary of the choir to tell us that, sadly, Libby had passed away from a sudden, unexplained heart attack. No more details were forthcoming; it appeared she had just dropped dead. You run into someone you haven’t seen for ages, say hi and bye, then two days later they die.

Great.

My 70th birthday is in a couple of months’ time. I’m beginning to experience survivor’s guilt.

 

Pot. Kettle. White?

BBC News reports, Scotland Yard’s computers have been hacked. “Scotland Yard confirmed its website had ‘been subject to unauthorised access'” (20 July).

Following the incident, US President Donald Trump renewed his vendetta against Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, once again retweeting the loathsome, self-promoting racist frothover, right-wing provocateuse “Katie Hopkins” as saying the police had lost control of the city’s streets: “With the incompetent Mayor of London, you will never have safe streets!” (Maybe a word with the Chancellor about the police budget might help to improve matters? Just suggestin’, “Katie”.)

Well now. Herr Trump has recently accused three American-born, majority-elected opposition Democrat congresswomen of interfering in America’s politics, hasn’t he, complaining that their color and ethnic origins should prevent them from saying how the country ought to be run, accusing them of “hating” America – i.e. him – and proposing that they should “go home” to their own shithole countries.

The Leader of the Free World then whipped up one of his dumbfuck rallies in North Carolina into a frenzy of racial hatred against a fourth elected Congresswoman, the tiny Muslim, Ilhan Omar, mindlessly chanting “Send her back!”, and after appearing to condemn the crowd for the next 24 hours, doubled-down once more, calling his brainwashed trailer-trash cult, 99% white: “true patriots”.

That bit barely even made the news.

And now, after continually praising our incompetent PM-select, “Minority Johnson” over Prime Minister May, here the Bronzed Blowfish is, at it again, telling us with his little tweety thumbs how to run our country, conducting a clearly religious and racially biased vendetta against the elected mayor of our capital city (not that we think much of him either).

You’re such a fucking hypocrite, Blondie. You’re not even a British citizen.

The BogPo says: Fuck off out of our face, Trump, and do something to unite your own disastrous, racist shithole country (400 thousand opioid deaths, 30 thousand annual gunshot killings, cops out of control, kids in concetration camps, record floods and wildfires, poisonous air and water – 60% of US beaches are polluted – and counting), you incompetent, corrupt, demented old blowhard.

And we don’t mean “unite the whites” either.

 

Shit in that swamp

What would you say if somebody told you, the Trump regime’s attempts to keep Chinese firm Huawei out of the global 5G market – which have included Trump’s verbal assaults on British Prime Minister Theresa May, who defied State Department pressure to refuse Huawei contracts in the UK – were entirely aimed at profiting one small hedge fund, managed by a buddy of a buddy of Donald Trump Jr?

I know. Improbable, ain’t it.

(Brilliant reporting by ProPublica: http://www.propublica.org/article/trump-inc-podcast-tommy-hicks-jr-donald-trump-jr-hunting-buddy?utm_source=pardot&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailynewsletter )

 

Charity begins at home

It’s unbelievable your Granny W. missed this, but in 2015, The Guardian reported, Britain “gave loans to fossil fuel projects around the world despite a pledge to withdraw financial support from such schemes, an analysis of loans made by the UK’s export credit agency has revealed.

“Gazprom in Russia (source of half the country’s oligarchs’ wealth), Brazil’s state-owned oil company (corruption-riddled Petrobras) and petrochemical companies in Saudi Arabia are among the companies benefiting from around £1.7bn in government funding over the course of the parliament, Greenpeace found.”

The latest on our Foreign Aid budget is that we’re still shovelling £0.68 billion of taxpayers’ money at oil- and gas-powered energy projects in third world countries. “Britain allocated more overseas development cash to oil and gas in the two years after signing the 2015 agreement than it had in the previous five.”

Meanwhile, in drought-stricken and war-torn parts of the world….

 

Where are they then?

A week ago, Vanity Fair magazine reported:

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will release almost 2,000 pages of documents that could reveal sexual abuse by “numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders,” according to the three-judge panel’s ruling.

“The documents were filed during a civil defamation lawsuit brought by Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a former Mar-a-Lago locker-room attendant, against Epstein’s former girlfriend and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell.  A person involved with litigation against Epstein (said): “It’s going to be staggering, the amount of names. It’s going to be contagion numbers.”

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/07/jeffrey-epstein-case-grows-more-grotesque/ etc.

Er, okay…. And is Trump a racist? Maybe, but he’s also a master of distraction. The “2,000” names – presumably including his – don’t appear to have appeared anywhere.

If they did, nobody noticed.

 

GW: Helter, swelter

USA: A perfectly fit, 32-year-old former NFL football player, Mitch Petrus, dies of heatstroke on Thursday while working outdoors at his family business in Arkansas. It’s a lesson. Temperatures across the whole of the midwest and up the east coast into New York, where Mayor Bill has declared an emergency, are expected to peak in the 90s °F., high 30s °C. this weekend, but with the ground saturated by months of flooding, humidity will bring wetbulb temperatures up into the lethal 110s °F., mid-40s °C.. range. Cooler weather is forecast to return early next week. (BBC/The Weather Channel)

A new storm system is forming in the Gulf, off the coast of Florida, in the wake of Barry, says Accuweather, 23 July. “The system was packing 35-mph sustained winds early Tuesday morning, and if it reaches tropical storm strength, it will be named Chantal.”

Europe: “Most of the models have intensified the severity of the heatwave developing next week, trending into the potential for low 40s °C. peak afternoon temperatures across parts of France. Stronger heat with 30-33°C. seems also increasingly likely across England from Tuesday to Thursday. A 12-15°C. July heat anomaly will extend over France, Benelux, England and western Germany. (Severe-weather.eu) Hundreds of firefighters and planes have been tackling five large fires that broke out on 20 July in a mountainous region of central Portugal around Castelo Branco. 20 people have been injured and villages evacuated.

Turkey: Heavy rain from 17 July caused severe flooding and landslides in northwestern Turkey, with at least 2 dead and 5 still missing. (Floodlist)

Russia: “After a month of warm, dry weather and wildfires, the huge crater nicknamed ‘Mouth of Hell’ is now under direct threat. The fear is that (a 237 Ha. fire burning the tree cover around) the rim of the depression will weaken the permafrost and cause a major enlargement of the Batagaika ‘megaslump’. Reports say the destruction of the tundra is ‘alarming’ in the Verkhoyansk district of Yakutia region.” (Siberian Times)

The Batakaiga megaslump, a thawing crater growing by 30 metres a year.

Note: the Batagaika “megaslump” is a 1km long thermokarst depression, 800m wide and 100m deep, caused by thawing permafrost in a forest area clear-felled in the 1980s by the Soviet administration. The perimeter has been expanding at the rate of 30m a year but there are fears of it speeding up..

On 14 July, Siberian Times reported, the temperature in Irkutsk, “Russia’s coldest city”, reached 32°C, 89°F. Residents sought relief on a nearby glacier. 2 vacationing families, 9 people including 7 children, drowned when their SUV was swept away crossing the snowmelt-swollen Tuva river in southern Siberia.

Zimbabwe: Compounded by gross economic mismanagement in the wake of the coup that overthrew the 94-year-old dictator Mugabe, 4.7 million people are facing food shortages this autumn as a result of a long-running drought. Meanwhile Mozambique, struck by a tropical storm and two major typhoons earlier this year, is also suffering from drought owing to weak monsoon rainfall, while disease has wiped out cereal crops. Nearly 2 million people are suffering acute food shortages. (UN News)

The Pumpkin – Issue 91: Warming warning:… The wages of sin… Completely unacceptable… Arrivederla, Dottore Camilleri… GW: Rockin’ around the world… On shaky ground.

Warming warning:

Latest data from NASA shows, 2019 so far has bust the 1.5 deg. C. target set by the Paris accord (now at 1.85 C) and could be headed for the upper 2 deg. C. limit or even more by next year. See below….

 

“I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.” – Trump in The New Yorker magazine, 2002.

“I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him .. I was not a fan.” – Trump last week. NBC has found video of him partying enthusiastically with Epstein and many women at Mar a Lago in 1992.

The wages of sin

“A $7.8 million 70-acre private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands (his primary residence owned by his Delaware-based LLC, L.S.J.), (a) Paris apartment on Avenue Foch (one of the most expensive addresses in the world), (a) $15.5 million Palm Beach estate, (a) $77 million New York City townhouse (a gift from Victoria’s Secret founder Leslie Wexner), and (a) $10 million castle/ranch in New Mexico.

“At the bottom of (the list) is another island in the Virgin Islands, Great St. James. He purchased it in 2016 for $18 million and was actively (and without permit) developing an even larger compound on its 165 acres—that is, until his arrest this past Saturday.”

“As far as vehicles, (the) entries list two Gulfstream jets (though his lawyers say he sold one of them in June), two helicopters, nine Mercedes-Benzes, nine Chevy Suburbans, three Cadillac Escalades, three Harley-Davidsons, one $375k Bentley Mulsanne, a jet-ski, and other assorted items. He has wined and dined American presidents, princes, elite academics, socialites, corporate CEOs and other VIPs.

“His alleged victims were little girls, often economically destitute or runaways or orphans—from sixth graders to high-school sophomores. Because his alleged crimes span multiple decades, his victims likely number in the hundreds—or more.” – The Daily Beast

Yes folks, that’s the extraordinary, obscene wealth a man who seemingly emerged from nowhere, with no university degree or social background, no inheritance; whose career as a predatory pedophile seems to have begun when he was given a job as a totally unqualified teacher who “charmed” parents at an exclusive private school in Manhattan*, has been able to amass before he is, hopefully, put away for the rest of his life.

How the hell?

The son of a New York Parks Department groundsman, Jeffrey Epstein reminds me – obviously on a Mount Rushmore scale – of Stephen Ward, the London society osteopath who, in the early 1960s, pimped a couple of young ladies of his acquaintance – Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies – around his wealthy and influential clients at weekend bunga-bunga parties organised at Cliveden, the stately Thameside home of Lord Astor.

Of course, Astor and his wealthy connections in government, business and the security services were never charged with procuring prostitutes or any offence. Letting their hair down is what those entitled people do. Ward, for whom many people had considerable sympathy, killed himself before his trial, fearing security charges. The story had come out when it was revealed that, in addition to the Defence Secretary, John Profumo, another of Keeler’s regulars was a Naval defense attaché at the Russian embassy.

Pillows talk.

But there was never any suggestion of activity on the scale and at the bottomless depth of Epstein’s, whose society clients for his “young love for sale” victims appear on all accounts to have included Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton; both of whom have been frantically scrabbling this past week to disassociate themselves from the talented (but unqualified) pianist and mathematician who seems to have exerted such a spellbinding effect on the wealthy and powerful.

Reportedly included among his circle of “friends” also is the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, somewhat nebulously employed by the UK as a “business ambassador”, said to have accepted private flights aboard one of Epstein’s Gulfstream jets and hospitality at his many homes; and former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak.

It’s possible, I suppose, that some of the wealthy and powerful individuals who came into his orbit were cultivated merely as window-dressing, or to use their connections to enlarge his circle of clients.

What, one asks of the ladies’ underwear proprietor, can “Victoria’s Secret” really be, to earn Epstein a gift of a $77 million New York town house from its CEO, Wexner? How much of Epstein’s unexplained wealth, his pad in Palm Beach, his troubling-sounding private island compound on St James in the “Virgin Islands” (he owns two islands), was bought on his salary after only four years as a modest financial advisor, apparently with only one major client, at Bear Stearns – one of the early casualties of the 2008 banking crash. And how much more might have been “gifts”, teased somehow from his very private circle of extremely wealthy clients?

“Epstein is without doubt the wealthiest individual on any sex offender registry in the United States (and he is at Level 3—at greatest risk of abusing more children). … He has wined and dined American presidents, princes, elite academics, socialites, corporate CEOs and other VIPs. His alleged victims were little girls, often economically destitute or runaways or orphans—from sixth graders to high-school sophomores. Because his alleged crimes span multiple decades, his victims likely number in the hundreds—or more.” – The Daily Beast

Level 3 – at greatest risk of abusing more children, Epstein was sent to an open “weekend” prison for 13 months in 2008 as a result of a dubious plea bargain brokered by Alex Acosta, Trump’s most recent Secretary of Labor, at the time prosecuting for the Attorney General of Florida. The deal did not involve the co-operation of any of his victims. Acosta has now resigned, giving a televised press conference at which Trump postured, gazing Sphinxlike into the distance as though none of it affected him, looming immediately behind his right shoulder – like working a ventriloquist’s dummy.

Shortly afterwards, Trump vented his racist anger on the four women members of Congress.

Indeed, no-one seems much inclined to believe it was absolutely the best deal Acosta could get. When police battered down Epstein’s door at the New York townhouse last week and searched the premises, hundreds “if not thousands” of images of children and young teenagers were found; indicating that there had been no cessation of activities since his release.

And yet, Epstein’s lawyers, including his longtime “associate” and now Trump lawyer, Dershowitz, a repulsive, rheumy-eyed old roué who has owned up to receiving “massages” from Epstein’s young ladies – although he kept his underpants on and didn’t see anyone he thought was underage – are still arguing for bail, as if – instead of scuttling to their expensive island boltholes while “lawyering up” – his wealthy and influential and mostly disgusting, ugly old clients are going to rally round a second time.

A dozen new witnesses have come forward thanks to reporting in the Miami Herald, and although the cases predate his 2008 conviction, some going back to the 1990s, it seems clear that the girls he trafficked would have been pressured into silence. The FBI alleges that even since his arrest, large sums of money have been illegally wired to witnesses. Bizarrely – but perhaps indicatively – Epstein also runs an obscure charity foundation that gives money to schools and enterprises involving young people.

The latest charges could nevertheless be enough to see him put away for life – and not this time in a comfortable room to which he has a key.

What will happen to his team of “enablers” – a group of women (including Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of disgraced media mogul Robert, who recruited “sex slaves” as young as 14 to perform sex acts with Epstein and his clients), no-one seems to know; they were offered immunity during the 2008 trial. But in the meantime, many influential and even wealthier men than Epstein are said to be “shaking in their shoes” as to what might come out in court.

IF AG Barr allows it to get to court.

*There seems to be a difference of opinion over his appointment at the Dalton school, so posh you wouldn’t expect anyone to openly come forward with evidence about inappropriate behavior between a teacher and pupils all the way back in 1974.

Some commentators are claiming Epstein was hired by the father of Trump’s latest Attorney General, Bill Barr, who was then the headmaster of Dalton. Obviously they’re hinting at some kind of enablement story, perhaps between two pedophiles, although there is no evidence that Epstein or Barr predated on the pupils. Epstein seemed less certain when questioned in court, arguing that the “17 or 18” year-old girls in his class were too “old”, before pleading the 5th Amendment.

However, investigators at the Daily Beast say Barr left the school under his own cloud several months before Epstein started teaching there. AG Barr initially recused himself from the latest investigation on a faintly flimsy pretext*, but seems to have been persuaded to unrecuse himself the next day – possibly by the same man who notoriously fired the previous AG over an unpopular recusal he felt wasn’t protecting him from potential prosecution.

*In fact Barr has a connection with Acosta, in that they both worked for attorneys Kirkland Ellis back in the day, although at different times. And Kirkland Ellis, according to TYT, was the firm that defended Epstein in the 2008 trial.

The Pumpkin feels sure there is nothing coincidental in the following medical explanation found on Google:

“EpsteinBarr virus (EBV), also known as human herpes virus 4, is a member of the herpes virus family. It is one of the most common human viruses.”

Follow the story at this and other Daily Beast pages on the same theme: https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-jeffrey-epsteins-creepy-parties-with-prince-andrew. And: https://www.thedailybeast.com/jeffrey-epstein-dodged-questions-about-sex-with-his-dalton-prep-school-students?ref=scroll

(Only, turn off your ad blocker, they’re imagining you’re going to buy something.)

Oh, btw, we should say, Epstein has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Postscriptum: and now we’re being told, police at his NY pad have found a cache of diamonds, wads of notes, a false passport (long expired) – and a Saudi Barbarian address. His “bugout bag”.

 

“Oh, shut up! You never stop complaining. If anybody should leave this country, it should be you. And if you’re looking for a new home, I suggest you go to Hell.” – Stephen Colbert, The Late Show.

 

Completely unacceptable?

Outgoing Prime Minister, Theresa May has condemned as “completely unacceptable”, a provocative tweet by President Trump, telling black and Latino Democratic congresswomen to “go back where they came from” and run their own “crime-ridden, shithole” countries before coming to America and telling Americans what to do.

Three of the four women named were actually born in America. The fourth, Ilhan Omar, is a naturalized Somali refugee who arrived at the age of 8. All of them, unlike Trump, are democratically elected; but Trump – grandson of undocumented immigrants, son of an immigrant, twice married to immigrants, serial employer of many undocumented immigrants – has never managed to grasp the basic concept that, in a democracy, you have an opposition party whose job is to oppose.

It’s clearly a crude attempt to whip up more anti-immigrant feeling among his deluded dumbfuck base, who are always more than happy to be persuaded by wealthy men that it’s not wealthy men, but poor immigrants who are screwing them over, and “replacing” them. By doing this, he draws flak from the haters on the left, proving that four more years of Trump is all that stands between his support base and their imminent demise as a nation.

It should also serve, or so he imagines, to drive a wedge for his electoral advantage between the bickering conservative and progressive wings of the Democratic party, although the opposite seems to have happened, with Pelosi turning on a dime to condemn his blatant racism

Trump also needs some good diversionary smoke and mirrors right now, following his abusive tirades against May and her ambassador to Washington, new accusations from the Mueller report and the Epstein case.

Which brings us back to May, and the complete unacceptability of divisive and racist immigration policies.

Who, I wonder, sent advertising trucks out to drive around immigrant areas, telling them to Go Home? Who instigated the Home Office’s racially aggravated policy of Hostile Environment, that has resulted in innumerable cases of injustice against people with longstanding rights of settlement, including hundreds of elderly West Indian inworkers from the 1950s improperly detained or deported?

Other EU citizens still have a legal right of free movement but are finding they have no voting rights and are battling a dysfunctional Home Office system supposedly enabling them to register automatically for permanent settlement. Families with one British partner and British-born children are being broken up on the basis that the main earner no longer meets raised income qualifications – salary levels that most UK natives do not attain in their lifetime.

So many visitor visas are being denied, specifically to those from African and Asian countries, that UNESCO is no longer able to host international conferences in Britain as their delegates – qualified academics – are turned away. Now we hear that “whistleblowers” inside the Home Office are reporting how officials are falsifying information to get round an EU rule guaranteeing the right of trafficked and modern slavery victims to apply for asylum. “Legal experts have said the practice is ‘unthinkable’ and “a disgraceful and illegal manipulation of the system”, according to a Guardian report.

How many costly, sloppy data breaches have there been, and compensation awards running into the £hundreds of millions, as a result of – yes, “completely unacceptable” – Theresa May’s disastrous six-year spell as our most racially intolerant and xenophobic Home Secretary, possibly ever?

Pot. Kettle. Black?

PS – an Opinion article in today’s Guardian argues that the one good thing May did do, was to quadruple the number of Conservative women MPs, and be most supportive of them in their parliamentary careers.

Whoopee. Amber Rudd. Liz Truss. Theresa Villiers…..

‘Nuff said.

 

Bargain travel!

According to German NGO, Atmosfair, a person flying return from London to New York is responsible for 986 Kg of emitted CO2, more than the entire annual output of another person living in Paraguay.

So you don’t have to, your Uncle Bogler has looked up the average annual income of a citizen in Asuncion, and finds that at $380 USD it broadly matches the cost of flying to New York with Norwegian Air UK.

Book now!

 

Arrivederla, Dottore Camilleri

Andrea Camilleri, the Sicilian crime writer behind the popular Inspector Montalbano television series, of which your Uncle Bogler is a fan, although the BBC never seems to manage to buy a full series and soon reverts to repeating earlier episodes, has died aged 93.

The Pumpkin (“la Zucca”) comments, acidly: “So he was younger than most of the cast, then.”

 

Premature ejaculation

Scientists in the US have noted a substantial increase in pre-term births among Latina mothers in the months immediately following Trump’s 2016 election. Researchers at the Bloomberg School attribute a 3.5% increase based on official figures to stress caused by Trump’s threats against migrants. (Medical Press)

 

GW: Rockin’ around the world

USA: A “dangerous” 100-degrees-plus heatwave is forecast across the entire midwest and east coast, with “heat index” (heat plus humidity) temperatures in Washington DC, New York and Chicago possibly rising to 112F (44C) over the weekend. In the meantime, flooding is spreading northwards from the Gulf coast as the remains of Hurricane Barry dump masses of rain on southern states. (The Weather Channel)

Cat 1 Hurricane Barry came ashore in Louisiana Saturday, 13 July, but west of New Orleans, and as a weakening Tropical Storm, sparing the city the catastrophic flooding forecasters were concerned about. Nevertheless, parts of the city and other communities along the coast all the way through Texas are dealing with widespread flooding from up to 12 inches of rain this curiously elongated storm, with its two cyclonic centers, has already dumped, with up to another foot or more possible as Barry stalls over the coast. 100 thousand homes are without power. (Wunderground, and various)

Up to a few days ago, however, deep snowpack was still blocking roads in Sonora County, California…. Meanwhile, in Canada “Flooding was reported in parts of southern Saskatchewan, Canada, including Regina after 34 mm of rain fell in a short period of time on 16 July. Several vehicles were trapped in flood water after streets in Regina were inundated.” (Floodlist) There’s also been flash-flooding in Toronto.

Nepal: 64 people have been confirmed dead and 30 more remain missing in widespread flooding. Rescue efforts have been hampered by continued bad weather, which has blocked key highways and destroyed phone lines. 17 July: “Dozens” of people are reported dead or missing after torrential rain caused flash flooding and landslides near the Kashmir border in Pakistan. Houses, roads and bridges were washed away.

Heavy monsoon rains have also caused devastation in north-east India. In Assam state, officials said at least 14 people were killed and more than a million people had been affected by rising flood waters. (Guardian) In an update, 15 July, authorities are saying dozens of people have drowned and more than 4 million are affected by flooding as rivers rise to record levels in four northeastern states. Some places recorded 15-in. of rain over 24 hours. (Floodlist)

Floodlist further reports, 19 July, more heavy rain is forecast over a wide area of northern India this weekend, as the death toll over the region exceeds 250.

Bangladesh: At least a dozen people, mostly farmers in rural areas, have reportedly been killed by lightning since Saturday, according to Associated Press. A Water Development Board official said about 40,000 people had been affected, with many of their homes submerged. Refugee camps on the Burmese border have been especially hard-hit. (Guardian) While over the border, the Irrawaddy river has burst its banks. “Flooding has displaced thousands of people in northern and western Myanmar after a period of heavy rain caused rivers to overflow.” (Floodlist)

Japan: an anticyclone stuck over the Sea of Okhotsk has meant parts of Japan have had almost no sun for the last three weeks – just 3 hours, the cloudiest June/July period ever measured. Prices of some agricultural produce have skyrocketed owing to crop failures. (Express)

Philippines: Tropical Storm Danas formed as an area of low pressure over the western Philippine Sea 15 to 16 July,  moving north of Luzon Island, as it strengthened. The storm brought heavy rain to some areas of Luzon, where flood warnings have been issued.

Indonesia, however, is suffering longer periods of drought. Reliefweb reports; its impacts have already been felt in many areas. A number of regional governments have reported scarcity of clean water, declining supply of irrigation water and potential crop failure. 1000 people in East Java have contracted Hepatitis A from foul drinking water.

Europe: Dozens of people were rescued from vehicles or evacuated after flooding in Western Greece on 14 July. A storm bringing heavy rain swept through Achaia and Aetolia-Acarnania overnight, causing severe damage. The flooding follows storms last week when 7 people were killed and over 100 injured in the north of the country. The Halkidiki Region remains in a state of emergency, with many households and businesses still without power and water. (Floodlist)

A new heatwave is building from North Africa across southwest and central Europe, with a 10C temperature anomaly moving gradually northeastwards next week. France is likely to see temperatures back in the high 30s, low 40s C (100+F). (Severe-weather.eu) Revision of data from the June heatwave finds that a new all-time record of 46.0 deg. C. (114.8 F.) was set in Verargues in the Herault department on 28 June. (Phys.org)

 

Tunnel approaching….

Helter swelter: An emergency announcement arrives from the Arctic News team: “NASA data through June 2019 confirms … that it could be 1.85°C (or 3.33°F) hotter in 2019 than in 1750. When looking at how much hotter June 2019 was compared to the annual global mean 1980-2015, it was 2.08°C (or 3.74°F) hotter. … The 2°C guardrail could be crossed soon, i.e. in 2020 when looking at the long-term trend (based on 1880-June 2019 data), or in 2019 if the current El Niño strengthens (based on 2011-June 2019 data).

“Furthermore, while the long-term trend points at a 3°C (or 5.4°F) rise by 2026, a 3°C rise could eventuate as early as in 2020 in case of a persistently strengthening El Niño. (Arctic-news.blogspot.com) If the trends of the first half of this month continue, it will beat the previous record from July 2017 by about 0.025C to qualify as the hottest month ever recorded. (Guardian)

Another lovely sunny day, 26C, here in Boglington-on-Sea.

On shaky ground: Renegade earthquake forecaster, Dutchsinse (Michael Janich, of St Louis) is reporting, there are two major heat plumes erupting under the sea, off the coasts of Oregon and California. The reports are confined to his Twitter feed so your Old Gran, who doesn’t get Twitter, can’t get into any greater detail. Suffice to say, his followers are all on their knees, gibbering and praying for everyone. (What is the matter with Americans?)

With some content blocked on YouTube, Janich’s website is coming under increasing attack, he believes from the official US Geological Survey, that continues to plead equipment malfunctions, mask worrying data, downgrade magnitudes and insist that earthquakes cannot be predicted. They have even called for his arrest!

Janich has an 80% record of successful forecasts both of magnitude and location, based on the apparently illegal belief that the force of one quake transfers around plate boundaries to cause others on known faultlines and at identifiable weak spots in the earth’s crust. USGS says that’s nonsense, while appearing to be taking it seriously. There’s also another busy round of big volcanoes popping off around the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, in case you weren’t worried.

If Janich’s paranoia seems incredible (I’ve witnessed display screens on his YouTube videos suddenly being blacked-out), your Gran is just reading Graham Hancock’s latest book, “America Before”. Hancock – a “pseudo-scientist”, actually a journalist who has built a career out of trying and failing to find proof of a previous lost civilization – nevertheless has a point when he describes the vicious, career-destroying attacks US archaeologists launched for many years against any researcher daring to suggest humans could have lived in the Americas before 11 thousand BC.

That was until incontrovertible scientific evidence emerged of human settlement up to 120 thousand years earlier, pretty much like everywhere else in the world….

Postscriptum: Janich is reporting now (14 July) on a 5 thousand-acre wildfire that has broken out in Washington State, next to the Hanford nuclear facility and the LYGO gravity-wave detector. USGS reported a number of earthquakes there yesterday, that could have emitted flammable methane.
It occurs to us that the authorities might be upset with Janich more because he explores the terrain around the epicentres of volcanoes and more often than not, Google Earth allows him to zoom in on the astonishing extent of mining, quarrying, thermal bores, drilling and fracking going on, literally thousands of wells – and around former nuclear test sites – that he believes are operating dangerously in geological fracture zones, exacerbating microquakes and enabling larger seismic movements..
And on the subject of nuclear threats, a Cold War-era Soviet submarine that has been sitting on the sea bed since it sank off the coast of Norway 30 years ago, with two nuclear missiles and two nuclear reactors onboard, has begun leaking mysterious “clouds” from its ducts, containing radioactive caesium registering 800 thousand times the normal background. (The Weather Channel) Experts assure us, it’s “not a risk” to people or wildlife.
Yellowstone: Steamboat Geyser #28. That’s as in 7 months…. last year’s all-time record was 32 the whole year. (Ben Ferraiuolo website) Disturbing activity – spasmodic tremors associated with magma injection – in Hawaii. Magma believed entering Long Valley ancient caldera in California – bigger than Yellowstone. (Various sources) Athens, Greece rocked by M5.4, 19 July.

Is Trump in fact God?… Melted cheese… About face… GW: It’s raining, Hamburgers… Bee minus..

“I do not know the ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the US.” No, Donald, and neither are you, so stop interfering in our domestic politics.

Trump reacts badly to British diplomatic cables hinting he’s totally unfit to be the President.

 

Is Trump in fact God?

It was while I was out walking Hunzi this morning along the cycle path through the exurban space that passes for our local park, that it suddenly struck me.

Trump might be God, after all.

The Biblical resemblances are striking. And many people think he is. Especially himself.

As the great Christopher Hitchens liked to point out, the God everyone is obliged to worship now, the one called, surprisingly, just “God”, which is not his real name, obviously, is only one of hundreds, if not thousands of claimants for the title of Supreme Being down the millennia.

There’s no reason to believe that just because He told everyone He was God, He (I use the male pronoun advisedly – there are two Gods in the OT and the God of Genesis in the garden is definitely female), the Biblical God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has any more right to a claim for apotheosis than, say, Julius Caesar, who officially became a God by way of the cult that surrounded victorious Roman leaders, and whose son Augustus took on the mantle after him, but in a more cosmological way.

After all, if you really ARE God, you wouldn’t need to go around telling people, would you? Just like, if you were really a stable genius….

The Romans, of course, had lots of God-cults, many of them borrowed from the Greeks. The Greek word Zeus, meaning God, the Supreme Being, the top dog, is the same as the Roman word Deus, from which we derive the word deity; although he had a name, Apollo – the Sun God. Religious cults, to the Romans, were like the rap artists of their day, they had their fickle tribal followers. Some, more official than others, enjoyed State protection.

All the civilizations we know of have had their pantheon of Gods, starting with a Supreme Being at the top and working down through animistic ideas about the immanence of divinity – soul – in the very rocks, trees and rivers; many Gods taking on semi-human form shared identities with the celestial constellations. The Egyptian pharaoh, Akhenaton was the first ruler we know of, who decreed there was only the one true God. Like the Victorian-era’s star painter, JMW Turner, Akhenaton believed the sun was God. As the sun both gives and takes away life, it seemed a fair bet.

From that simple perception, half-baked by the sun, the three Abrahamic desert religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – developed the idea of the sun-God as the unique creator, and anthropomorphised him into the personified, living being of the earthly ruler, The Lord of Hosts, the Lord most High, whose divine authority reflected in a coercive priesthood on earth was to be upheld on pain of death.

The Christian religion especially, which merely introduced some Zoroastrian elements into Judaism, operated – and still does, outside the Church of England – as a patriarchal, authoritarian death cult, with the judicial murder of the avatar and his inspirational but unlikely survival of death at its center.

Still today, the Eucharist is celebrated every sabbath, or seventh, day – the “body and blood” of the avatar are symbolically or transformatively consumed by the worshippers, in a cannibalistic ritual administered by the sacerdos, or high priest, beneath the sculpted, 3D image of the bleeding Christ nailed to a tree. It’s all pretty weird and horrible, to be honest, but conducted in an atmosphere of such reverent good taste it remains popular with all ages. Millions of Christians have died at one anothers’ hands, arguing over this point.

Essentially, the picture we have of The Lord High God sitting on a throne with his “son”, the semihuman Jesus thoughtfully inserted on his right hand, surrounded by angels descending in rank beneath him betrays a unique symbiosis of religion and state bureaucracy.  Simultaneously, Chinese emperors demanded unquestioning obeisance to their own godhead; Confucianism being a kind of secular religion, a self-help system combining civic responsibility and a duty of personal growth with obedience to courtly ritual as the way to “the right life”; while later, blood-soaked sun worshipping cults developed in South America, founded on copious human sacrifice, that were ended only by an egregious program of genocide by Christ-cult Spanish colonialists and their followers, who came less to spread the Word of God than to steal gold.

It’s all a bit rackety, to be honest.

To gain an insight into Trump’s claim to Godhood, especially in light of his 4th of July parade this year, the Wikipedia page on the Imperial cult of Rome makes interesting reading. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_cult_of_ancient_Rome

Various American TV preachers have closely aligned Trump with God, or with God’s son Jesus, arguing that, despite his well-known venality, hatred of his neighbor, twice-divorced adulterous status and self-confessed record of sexual abuse, he was divinely appointed – God forgives everything (unless you’re a Muslim or a faggot) – and is thus to be unquestioningly obeyed.

Of course, child-rape and murder are mandated in the Bible, so they’re forgiven too. But not the taking of the as-yet unborn clump of insentient cells. That’s an unpardonable sin.

The slimy Jim Bakker, a TV preacher of virtually zero intellect who promotes his contemptible business brands as integral to his religious authority; the far-right evangelical nutjob, Pat Robertson; the several private aircraft-owning son of the conman, the late Jerry Falwell; and the son of Billy Graham, Franklin – the virulent homophobe who reputedly had a long-running and very expensive affair with a handsome young pool attendant – and others have commanded their followers to believe in Trump and his mission to “Make America Great Again”.

By that, they mean they believe they can more easily manipulate government policy through Trump to revoke the inconvenient First Amendment of the Constitution and institute a white, nominally Christian hegemonic state, antipathetic to women’s rights; and promote the more absurd notions of Biblical literalism in schools. Not only in the USA – more than $50 million is believed to have been channeled into subverting the 2019 European elections in support of Christian and alt-right parties.*

My sudden intuition however, that Trump might indeed BE God, was based on a recollection of a conversation I once had with my ex-wife, who impressively has a Master’s in Eastern Philosophy, concerning the curious individual in the Old Testament, known to us as Yahweh.

She pointed out a number of things the Bible records about him, that one might now reconsider in light of Trump’s known beliefs and behaviours. Here are three, plus one or two for luck:

First, he has an unusual diet. Like Trump and his overdone steaks, Yahweh needs a constant, high-carbon diet of burnt meat offerings to keep him going. Like Trump and his overdone steaks.

Secondly, like Trump, Yahweh demands total obedience and loyalty from his acolytes. He likes to be waited on, hand and foot. He demands constant praise, not only from the living, but from the dead, as well as the permanently employed angelic host, for all Eternity. What’s that, another 14 billion years?

Yet, like Trump, he has a contemptuous attitude towards those who genuflect to him. “Be still, and know that I am God!” He advocates the enslavement of women, the rape of the daughters; something of which Trump has been latterly accused in connection with his diabolical friend, Epstein.

Prayers for mercy mostly go unanswered; as with Trump, there is no certainty with Yahweh, except the unsupported sales patter that death somehow brings life. It’s easy to see the analogy with winter and spring; it’s an old pagan animist hangover. But when life is pretty much shit and you’ve got toothache….

Thirdly, Yahweh insists that Moses’ brother Aaron, whom he selects to be his Chief of Staff, should wear a covering made of gold in his presence. Gold, as my ex-wife pointed out, is better than lead as a shield against ionizing radiation. Like Trump, Yahweh is toxic to anyone who comes too near him.

And another point, Yahweh appears to have possessed something like a battlefield nuclear weapon, with which he could smite whole armies; evaporating them in a single strike. Trump has lots of those at his disposal, especially now he has abrogated the Intermediate Weapons treaty with Russia; and he thinks they can safely be used without going full megadeaths.

We jointly concluded from these and other nuggets that the Biblical description of how this domineering – demanding – and thoroughly selfish, self-regarding, malignant narcissist imposed itself as The One True God on the unsophisticated and deeply superstitious tribes of Israel, just as Trump has imposed his self-assumed divinity on the screaming, deluded dumbfucks of undereducated Middle America at his MAGA rallies, may well be the only historical record we have of an actual alien visitation.

No wonder the poor old Cathars of southern C13th France (exterminated in the Albigensian Crusade) believed the world was created by Satan, and you only got to live with a decent, fair-minded god after you died.

Let me add one further observation of my own.

My ex-wife’s take on the “burning bush” out of which Yahweh first spoke to Moses was that any Sci-fi addict would recognize a portal to another dimension, surrounded by a glowing energy field; while any semi-savage, illiterate, desert-dwelling nomad would naturally allegorize such an incomprehensible phenomenon as a “burning bush”.

I can easily see too, however, that any Big Brother, Love Island or The Apprentice addict would immediately conclude that what to a primitive herdsman would have been allegorized as Yahweh’s “burning bush” could equally well have been a TV screen, or some similar kind of projection device.

Maybe the same one from which the Orange Godhead speaks to his deplorables through his Chosen Servants: disciples Hannity, Ingraham, Coulter, Pirro, Carlson and the rest of the Trumpsuckers of Fox and Friends, forerunners of the priestly caste of Apostles who will preside over the new deserts and ruins of the post-Trumpian era after the Orange One is taken aloft by Executive Order.

*http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/covering-european-parliamentary-elections-2019/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=f3d0134cc1-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-f3d0134cc1-408090269

 

Dieu, ceci n’est pas un fromage… c’est du Cheddair Britannique! Ptah!

Melted cheese

When a French chef has a meltdown, it’s serious. M. Marc Veyron of La Maison des Bois in the Haute Savoie has demanded to be removed altogether from the Michelin guide after losing one of his coveted stars, which, he says, has left him in a state of depression for the past six months. Interviewed for Le Monde, M. Veyron went off on one, as they say:

“They dared to say that we put cheddar in our soufflé of réblochon, beaufort and tomme! They have insulted our region; my employees were furious. When we have eggs from our chickens, milk from our cows, and two botanists collect our plants every morning! They know absolutely nothing about cooking! … Let them put on an apron and get in the kitchen! We are waiting. Let them show us what they know how to do … they’re basically amateurs. They couldn’t cook a decent dish!” (and so on, for several paragraphs, in which M. Veyron expressed the opinion that the Michelin men hadn’t actually visited his premises at all.)

The Guide replied they were sorry he was upset, but they would continue to recommend his restaurant as long as their expert inspectors did so. (Guardian)

 

Fore! No, five!

Several children’s charities have pulled out of a fundraising event sponsored by a strip club, after discovering that the highlight of the evening was to be an auction of naked or nearly naked women to the male donors in the room.

The women were to act as “caddies” for the men. Oh yes, did we forget to mention, this was at Donald Trump’s southern Florida golf club, Doral? The event has been cancelled. (TYT/Slate)

 

About face

Federal authorities are fining Facebook $5 billion for their part in the Cambridge Analytica data mining scandal when, in advance of the 2016 US elections and of the Brexit referendum, over 90 million Facebook profiles were exploited for political purposes by the UK-based company run by Steve Bannon and funded by billionaire disruptor, Robert Mercer and his fundamentalist Christian daughter ‘Bekah.

Most people seem to regard the fine – less than one month’s revenue – as a mere slap on the wrist, given the enormity of the offence. The FCA committee voted 3-2 on a Republican majority against Democratic objections that the fine was meaningless. Other suits are pending against Facebook over the breach of confidentiality, so it might cost them more in the long run, and there are moves by the antiTrust committee in Congress to have the giant IT corporations broken up, but for now they seem free to carry on as normal.

Odd, then, that US authorities are threatening dire reciprocal action over new French moves to ensure that companies like Facebook pay taxes on their local sales, rather than on the tiny profits they declare on their ginormous turnover in other, lower-tax regimes where they register shell companies.

Or maybe not so odd: America First!

 

GW: It’s raining, Hamburgers

Europe: Your granny finds it difficult to follow-up these Severe-weather.eu reports as they have cut right back on editorial content lately, but the forecast on 09 July for north central Italy, up through the Balkans, into western Russia and across to Georgia and northern Turkey, was for supercell storms bringing high winds, heavy rain – hailstones up to 3-in. in diameter; and it is far from the first of its kind this year. Among the consequences:

  • 6 tourists and a fisherman have been killed and dozens of people injured in a fierce storm in northern Greece, that ripped a caravan and a restaurant apart. Strong winds and hail hit the Halkidiki region near the city of Thessaloniki late on 10 July. Television footage showed overturned cars, fallen trees, torn roofs and mudslides. The freak storm lasted about 20 minutes. Temperatures had soared to 37C (98.6F) over the past two days. (Guardian)
  • An extremely severe thunderstorm hit Pescara (Abruzzo, central Italy) in the afternoon of 10 July. The thunderstorm produced very large to giant hail, with hailstones up to 15 cm (6-in.) in diameter, severe straight line winds and intense flash floods. (Severe-weather.eu)
  • Up to 160mm of rain fell in a few hours in NE Spain on 08 July, causing flash floods in the Navarre region. I person drowned, and “the regional government said the material damage was far-reaching. The N-121 road between Pamplona and Tudela was washed out. Rail transport was also interrupted, as was power supply to thousands of homes.” (Floodlist)
  • Accuweather reports: “A strong storm struck Venice, Italy, on 7 July, creating mayhem for cruise ships attempting to dock. 60 mph winds flung lounge mattresses and other furniture about aboard the cruise ship Azamara Pursuit and another ship, the Costa Deliziosa, had a close call with a dock in the high winds.”
  • While parts of Britain are facing almost a month’s worth of rain in the space of a couple of hours. The Met Office has issued a storm warning for much of Scotland and the north of England, with possibly life-threatening flooding on 11 and 12 July. (BBC)

China: In an Accuweather report on 03 July that we missed: A very rare tornado struck northeast China’s Liaoning Province on Wednesday, causing significant damage and killing at least 6 people. Almost 200 were injured as the powerful storm devastated an industrial zone of Kaiyuan, destroying buildings and throwing cars in the air. There were also reports of people trapped in the rubble of a collapsed factory.

Elsewhere, flooding continues as heavy rain persists over Shangxi province and a warning is out for the mighty Yangtse River to overflow. Evidence that rainfall is intensifying comes from the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief. Since the start of the annual flood season this year, they report, a total of 279 rivers in 17 provinces were struck by floods above-warning level, 50 percent higher than that of the same period in any year since 1998. (UN ReliefWeb)

India: 3 people are now known to have died as rivers overflow and floodwaters continue to rise in Assam; almost a quarter of a million people are affected in over 500 villages, while 13 thousand Ha of agricultural land is underwater. Down south, a special train has been delivering drinking water to the city of Chennai, which has run dry. Patchy monsoon rains have failed to recharge the city’s reservoirs.

Nepal: “Monsoon rain in Nepal has destroyed buildings and caused flooding and landslides, leaving dozens dead or missing and hundreds displaced in several districts of the country, including the capital Kathmandu. As of 13 July, at least 29 people have died, 14 are missing and 24 injured. Hundreds of people have been displaced after their homes were damaged or destroyed.” (Floodlist)

Pakistan: A “glacial lake outburst” occurred in the remote Golen valley in Chitral District on 07 July. No fatalities were reported but the flooding has wiped out roads and bridges, leaving communities cut off and tourists stranded. Relief supplies are being air-dropped. Flooding has also damaged homes, farmland and power infrastructure. (From Floodlist)

Bangladesh: tens of thousands of people including many Rohingya refugees in border camps have been affected by severe flooding. “Rivers in at least 9 locations are at or above danger level, and 2 rivers in the east and south-east are at severe level (more than 1 metre above flood stage).” (Floodlist)

Russia: The extensive floods around Irkutsk in Siberia are continuing, but the death toll previously reported as 170 seems to have been revised to 23 (various sources). 8 others remain missing.

Australia: Queensland in the subtropical north has seen snow again for the first time in 4 years, while in the east, Sydney has been battered by severe windstorms now moving towards Perth. Three “pulses” of polar air in quick succession are forecast to bring cold, high winds and heavy rain to the south of the country and Tasmania. (Accuweather/News.au)

Some irony for Mr Trump in the name… Hamburg, Iowa, seen on 18 March. Flood damage estimated since at $3billion.

USA: Dozens of people had to be rescued from vehicles and flooded homes after record rain – up to 6.5-in. – caused rivers to rise rapidly in areas around Washington DC on 08 July. Storm cells are persisting over the NE. To the south, New Orleans had almost 6-in. of rain in 3 hours, with flash floods on 10 July, as Tropical Storm Barry grows offshore in the Gulf.*

There’s little sign of historic floods abating across three states of the midwest. The year to the end of June was the wettest 12-month span in US records since 1895 (Wunderground). Mr Trump has issued a bizarre speech hailing himself as a champion of the environment.

Updates: “Parts of Pennsylvania saw over 4 inches (101.6mm) of rain on 11 July, triggering flash floods and mudslides. Two people reportedly died after their vehicle was swept away by flood waters.” (Floodlist) Tropical Storm Barry is expected to “achieve Cat 1 hurricane status by the time it comes ashore at the mouth of the Mississippi, 13 July. A state of emergency is declared in New Orleans” as 10 to 15-in. of rain (with “pockets” to 25-in. – Wunderground) is anticipated on top of last week’s flooding. (CNN)

*Dr Masters at Wunderground points out: as Tropical Storm Barry intensifies, the storm surge pushing up into New Orleans could meet the flood stage of the Mississippi coming down and potentially overtop the levees protecting the city.

Mexico: 7 people died when a house was swept away in a mudslide during heavy rain over Pueblo province.

Boglington-on-Sea: Your Granny W. was delighted to observe an unusual “rainbow” event the other evening when, at about 8pm, with the sun thinking about setting, two small clouds on either side of it began glowing with colours. Above them, jet trails had mixed with thin stratus cloud to form a curious, regular criss-cross pattern. The larger of the two then parted to allow a laser-like beam of white light to strike through it, as the area immediately around the hole glowed brightly, red, blue and green. The effect lingered for about ten minutes while I cursed myself silently for having left my phone at home.

Hurricanes: Your Granny has been asking myself why there has not yet been any sign of a hurricane event in the west Atlantic/Caribbean theatre, five weeks into the season.

It appears that the bizarre antics of the jetstream have created so much upper-level wind “shear” that the right atmospheric circulation cannot form – proto-storms are simply shredded before they can start to organize. While the sea is easily warm enough, 4C above the 26C level at which hurricanes form, there is so much Saharan dust in the atmosphere that it’s not wet enough aloft to make rainclouds.

Unexpected benefits there from a warming Arctic.

Wildfires: In Alaska during just the month of June wildfires emitted 50 million tonnes of CO2, as much as Sweden emits in an entire year.

Sweden. Who knew? Sweden!

Bee minus: The US Environment Protection Agency is reportedly about to license the use of yet another pesticide banned in some countries, despite research showing it may prevent bees from breeding. Sulfoxaflor is produced by Dow AgroSciences and sold under the ominous brand names Closer and Transform. (Guardian)

It comes as no surprise that the EPA is favorable towards yet another environmentally damaging industrial product from this industrial giant. Notoriously, in 2017 then-Director, Scott Pruitt, pushed through a re-license for another Dow product, Chlorpyrifos – overturning an Obama-administration ban – despite its known dangers. Harvard University reported:

“The most disconcerting effect of chronic exposure to chlorpyrifos is its potential to impair children’s developing brains.

http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/widely-used-pesticide-one-year-later/

Most Americans probably contain Chlorpyrifos, as it’s been widely used for years in household products too. Its effect on adults is to impair cognitive function, which might explain a lot. Oh, and in passing, the Harvard report mentions without a trace of irony: it “is also widely used in non-agricultural settings like golf courses”….

In case any evidence should emerge that Sulfoxaflor is a bee colony depletor, the Guardian reports, the agriculture department, which claims to protect pollinators, also recently suspended data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies survey. Commercial beekeepers reported a further 40 per cent collapse in colony numbers last year.

A 2018 report (among other sources) claimed:

“The Trump administration has had plenty of contact with Dow and DuPont. Last year, Dow Chemical bluntly asked the Trump administration to “set aside” research showing three of the organophosphate pesticides it manufactures pose threats to endangered species in letters obtained by the Associated Press.

“The request came after Dow donated $1 million to fund Trump’s inauguration ceremony.” (Sorry, reference source mislaid.)

Given that coal barons, the late Chris Cline (killed last month in a helicopter crash near his home in the Bahamas) and Robert E Murray both coincidentally donated $1 million to this mysterious Trump “inauguration fund”, and were the immediate beneficiaries of Executive Orders loosening restrictions on the mining industry, it would appear that the price of a favorable Government ruling on environmentally damaging activities and bee-killing products has been fixed.

Trump’s “inaugural fund” continued to attract industry cash long after the actual inauguration, and is being investigated by the Attorney General for the Southern District of New York as $50 million of it remains unaccounted for. It was certainly not spent on Mr Trump’s underwhelming inauguration celebrations.