Brexit – a family tragedy… Let’s get away from it all… No it can’t be… I talk to the trees (but no-one listens to me)… GW: Deep breath, everyone.

Quote of the Week

“If we still read philosophy, literature, history, poetry and theology we would not be surprised that greed, hedonism and hubris have easily defeated empathy and reason. But because we do not, because we spend hours each day getting little bursts of dopamine from electronic screens, we think we are unique in human existence. … The only existential question left is how we will choose to wait out the finale.” – Chris Hedges, writing on Truthdig.

And in his bleak article, Hedges quotes the philosopher John Gray: “Whatever they become, tyrannies begin as festivals of the depressed.”

http://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-last-act-of-the-human-comedy/

While for a sobering reminder of how whole populations can be sucked into the maelstrom and drawn to destruction by the actions of a few ambitious men, please watch the 3-part BBC docudrama series The Rise of the Nazis, if you possibly can.

The BogPo’s only hopeful comment is that instead of hubristic militarism, the 21st-century version merely requires that we enslave ourselves as consumers to the corporate ethos until the order collapses in the face of global climate catastrophe.

 

Brexit – a family tragedy

If any more evidence is needed of the divisive, corrosive effects of Brexit, the subversion of democratic process by unelected “dei ex-machina” and the strong echoes, both of the English Civil War and the rise of the Nazis, it must surely be the tragic letter published in today’s Guardian from historian Paddy Docherty to his Tory MP and government whip brother, Leo.

Reminding him that their family were once Communist shipyard workers in Glasgow, he writes:

“How important is your own job when something as priceless as parliamentary democracy is under threat?

“I was once proud and impressed as you entered parliament – that was just two years ago. Now I am simply appalled that this government, of which you are sadly a part, has become the principal threat to the lives and liberties of the people. Please do the decent thing, and resign.”

This is unbearably sad. But it is probably a devastating rift that is being repeated across hundreds of breakfast tables and at fissiparous family celebrations the length and breadth of this divided land.

Your Uncle B. is perhaps fortunate to know no Leavers; at least, none who will openly admit to their private vice. And to have such a very tiny family – at least, those whose identities I actually know. When in working groups, such as my extended jazz family of musicians both amazingly proficient and amateurishly exuberant, there is an unstated vow of omerta.

Personally, having argued forcefully for years – since 2013, in fact, when an intention to hold a referendum was first announced, and The BogPo predicted just this outcome – that leaving the EU is a dangerous idea that plays into the hands of a few very selfish and greedy people, such a blindingly clear fact that a slender majority of the minority who could be bothered to vote seemingly failed (and continue now to stubbornly refuse) to appreciate – I fear I have become numbed to the inevitability of it all. As when your flight is delayed, the only recourse is to surrender to the process.

Thus Brexit can also create its rifts within the individual heart.

And that’s the worst part of it, that I am looking forward more to the arrival at around midday of my new guitar, a (ridiculously cheap Indonesian copy of the expensive instrument I can no longer afford) birthday present to myself; and am busying myself with thoughts of possibly replacing its low-end pickups and strings and tuning pegs and tremolo bridge with sturdier versions, putting lipstick on a pig, as Sarah Palin once said about something or other.

Although I like pigs, we used to breed them in the wholesome air of freedom and sell delicious sausages at market. I’m no stranger to slaughter, when it comes to the sticking point.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/03/open-letter-brother-resign-government-no-deal-brexit

 

Let’s get away from it all

Fifty-four people, mostly Americans, have paid up to £194,390 each to spend 245 days on a cruise liner, circumnavigating the globe on what is being billed as something or other, cruise of a lifetime, luxury escape from Donald Trump, whatever.

It sounds like a recipe for another Poseidon adventure.

At the top of the range, you get your own 12-man boardroom, chef, kitchen and wine cellar. For the steerage passengers (only £66,950), eight restaurants have worked out 245 menus, one for each day. “There is more food than you can ever imagine.” promises Viking’s Head of Sales, lasciviously (many people can only imagine that much food, actually. Principally because they don’t get that much to eat.) There are of course other passengers, it’s just that they’re getting off at Los Angeles, where more get on.

“It won’t be something that is exclusive to millionaires,” says Alex Loizou, director of sales and marketing at Mundy Cruising. “It will be ordinary people.” Yeah, right. That’s what I’d be afraid of, actually. Smug retired couples with unfeasibly large pension-pots. Tragic lottery winners. Refugees from Downton Abbey.

Eat your heart out, Agatha Christie… we’re laying bets on who the murderer will be.

40 years ago, your Uncle B. spent two weeks on a guided cruise around the sites of classical antiquity in the eastern Mediterranean as the guest of the organizers, with the aim of producing a short piece for radio promoting their business.

It was quite a small boat with just the one restaurant serving a sadly imaginable quantity of food, and I honestly thought I would go mad with boredom. Apart from my wife, who was unwell most of the time (it later turned out to be hepatitis C), there was only one other passenger aged under about 60 onboard, a teenager, so with little else to do but traipse around ruins, I managed to run up the biggest bar bill of anyone.

They rejected my piece.

 

No, it can’t be!

As any fule ‘kno, a coincidence is just when you happen to notice two different things happening at the same time that appear to be related to one another, when they’re probably not. Most psychologists will tell you, there’s no such thing: it’s just that you’re in a particularly receptive frame of mind. (Actually, the Father of Modern Psychology, Dr Jung believed in them, so he gave them a scientific name: synchronicities.)

So, a few days ago I told you about The Lucky Jew – a somewhat dubious tourist souvenir a friend brought back for me from Poland three weeks ago – and how, the very next day, I won £30 on the lottery, something I’d never done before – I don’t usually do the lottery, it’s just an occasional whim when I’m feeling unloved.

This morning I opened a letter from the bank – something I don’t often do either – to find a deposit in my account that precisely to the pound matched the amount I’d had to remove two weeks ago to cover the cost of my annual pilgrimage to sing jazz in the Loire. So I was no worse off!

While in France last week, during the course of a conversation over breakfast one day, I recounted an apposite story of how I’d been shopping at the local supermarket a while back, and was surprised to hear quite a young man, a student, wandering by while humming a tune called “Fly Me to the Moon”, a 1960s Sinatra hit and now a tiresomely overdone jazz standard on courses and on bad karaoke nights.

Shopping at the same supermarket just an hour ago, a man wandered past, humming “Fly Me to the Moon”….

 

I talk to the trees (but no-one listens to me)

Okay, so the plan is to plant a trillion trees and save the world from overheating.

First, let’s establish that a trillion is a thousand billions, and a billion is a thousand millions, and a million is a thousand thousands, and a thousand is ten hundreds, and a hundred is ten tens, and ten is your fingers and thumbs – or your toes.

Imagine a football stadium holding fifty thousand people. See their eager faces? 20 stadiums is a million people. 200 thousand stadiums is a trillion people. Aren’t you sick of seeing their faces?

Put another way, a trillion is 1 followed by 12 noughts; each nought being the increasing power of x10.

It’s quite a lot of trees, too. Growing and distributing and planting out that many saplings – baby trees – is going to take energy, lots of it – human and otherwise. And where is your source stock of seeds and whips (live cuttings) for that many trees? How many nurseries, with how much space?

And who will pay them to do it?

Roughly 15 per cent of saplings survive transplantation, so we’ll need 6 trillion to start with. Who is going to grow 6 trillion saplings, and where?

Trees need water. They don’t like salt. Is there enough fresh water on the planet to keep a trillion trees alive to maturity, say at a gallon a day? Increasing to maybe ten gallons a day as they grow? Ten trillion gallons a day? (Don’t ask how many Olympic swimming pools is that… it’s 10,000,000,000,000 divided by 660,400, okay?)

And us? Does that leave enough fresh water to keep us alive too? And the other animals and plants? And all those industrial processes and agriculture – in Chile, where the soil is dry, it takes 100 US gallons of water to produce one avocado.

Yes, transpiration will put fresh water back into the amosphere. To add to the increased rainfall and flooding we’re already experiencing.

The trees will need to grow rapidly and well if they are going to suck all that carbon dioxide out of the air to make themselves bigger and more useful at removing carbon, which will take many years.

And when they die, they’re going to put it all back out again.

Right now, millions upon millions of trees are dying. Many in wildfires that are eating up areas of southern tropical, temperate and northern boreal forests the size of small countries every year.

Now, burning trees are putting up soot particles high in the atmosphere, reflecting sunlight back into space. Burning the forests rather than planting them may be the best way for now of countering the effect of warming from their and our carbon emissions.

On our walk yesterday, 31 August, I stood in full, blazing sunshine, felt its warmth, and thought no, this isn’t right, there’s not enough warmth. It ought to have been 2 or 3 degrees hotter. The sky looked blue, but it isn’t. The hemisphere is wreathed in a fine layer of smoke.

The “global dimming” (aka “aerosol masking”) effect of the sooty particles from 36 million burned acres of Siberian forest this year, more tens of millions of acres from Alaska and British Columbia, South America, Central Africa, Indonesia and now Australia again must be pretty substantial.

Millions of trees are also being cut down just to burn for “bio” energy and to make products – houses, sheds, shelf units, kebab skewers, paper. Many to clear land to grow cows for burgers and soybeans for soy sauce and tofu, and biogas and palm oil for just about anything.

Can we just stop cutting down trees, maybe? Can we stop eating cows and tofu with soy sauce and margarine, driving cars on ethanol? Can we stop trees from burning, in a warmer world?

Because otherwise we’ll be killing them as fast as we can grow them. Net neutrality can have two distinct meanings!

Trees have their limits to growth. Altitude imposes one such limit. You’ve heard of “the tree line”. Above it, trees do not grow quickly or fast enough to help with the climate problem. Land is not unlimited, there are places you can’t grow trees.

Will we be growing the right species of trees for their environment? In deserts and on salt flats? In tidal estuaries? On flood plains and hilltops? And will the tree planters not come up against vested agricultural and commercial interests and city growers in competition for the space? You can’t eat trees! You can’t drive a combine harvester in a forest.

Trees also have their limits when it comes to surviving extreme heat or cold. Will the world be cooling quickly enough to allow them to survive when half the year, in half the world the temperature is 40 degrees*? How well will they grow in Scotland, when the Gulf Stream fails, the “overturning circulation”, and all that Arctic meltwater is streaming south?

Doubtless there are good arguments for planting more trees strategically. On tropical coastlines, for instance, to try to defeat salination from rising sea levels, planting banyan is maybe a good idea. In cities and along roads. On eroded hillsides. And, of course, there are companies cutting down trees for industry that piously affect to replace the ones they cut down.

So we are planting trees – the Ethiopian government recently trumpeted that villagers had replanted 350 million (let’s see how many survive). We’d only need to duplicate that effort 3,000 times and…

Reforesting the world with unimaginable numbers of trees that have no other purpose than to breathe is a lovely dream, but it requires global management deploying vast resources, and who is going to provide that, when supposedly civilized, established democracies can no longer even manage ourselves?

*The story of a city already suffering intolerable heat and water stress is told at:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/31/tucson-heat-inequality-summer

 

GW: Deep breath, everyone

The Amazon rainforest produces 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen. The UN should immediately invade Brazil and remove Bolsonaro from office to save the world!!!

Actually not, say the experts.

“…the world’s oxygen levels are quite stable and are not dependent on rain forests, which use up as much of the gas as they produce in the long run, according to Philip Fearnside, a professor at Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research, quoted in Newsweek:

“Amazonia is not a big source of oxygen because trees respire, just like animals. Trees use up most of the oxygen that they produce through photosynthesis. … There is a net release of oxygen while the tree is growing and storing carbon in its wood, but when the tree dies the wood rots, removing the same amount of oxygen from the air to form carbon dioxide (CO2) from the carbon in the wood,” he said.

“Twenty per cent” is the total proportion of oxygen in the atmosphere, not what the rainforest produces.

More environmental news:

Checking on CO2, then, it’s incredibly difficult to give figures when the concentration measured at the Scripps observatory at 9,000 ft on Mauna Loa in Hawaii, the internationally recognised “official” monitoring station, varies not just from year to year and month to month, but from hour to hour across the day.

Despite the vast area of the planet’s forest cover that’s currently burning, and the increase this year in volcanic activity – and, of course, the ever-increasing output from industry, farming and transportation – the daily average load is currently 409.69 parts per million. The record for the year was set on 15 May when it was as high as 415.70 (Peaks were being detected over 417 ppm, while over parts of Siberia it’s been 1,020 ppm.) The previous record high daily average of 412.60 was set last year, on 14 May. It’s inexorably increasing.

“Pre-industrial” CO2, ie back in the C18th, was about 280 ppm.

France’s wine output is expected to fall 12% this year, after spring frosts followed by summer heatwaves took a heavy toll on vineyards across the country.

On 27 Aug. the temperature in my front garden in Boglington-on-Sea barely made it to 16C. On the other side of the country, in parts of Southeast England it reached 32C. I’m wondering if that 100% east-west vertical gradient might be some kind of record?

NASA and others made July the hottest month ever globally, although Europe only made 2nd hottest July owing to a big cold blob stuck over the northeast. France had its hottest ever July, while the UK broke several temperature records. June was Europe’s hottest ever June. The Met office reported, 10 of the UK’s hottest years have occurred since 2002. There were major temperature anomalies – up to 8C – in Antarctica, Greenland and eastern Siberia. (Severe-weather.eu).

North America has not missed having its wettest past 12 months ever (since 1894, anyway) in any month since May. Sluggish Hurricane Dorian will help keep that record up going into September.

Writing on Arctic News, 1 Sept., Prof. Andrew Glikson of Australian National University has the following good news:

For a climate sensitivity of 3±1.5°C per doubling of atmospheric CO₂, global warming has potentially reached between +2°C to +3°C above mean pre-industrial temperatures at a rate exceeding the fastest growth rate over the last 55 million years.

Global temperature, he writes, has been accelerating faster in the past 270 years than at any time in the planetary record. Even the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) when the planet warmed by 5-8 degrees took a thousand years. The 2 to 3C rise is being masked by aerosol dispersals (pollution).

Glikson’s case supports the idea that feedbacks make a nonsense of linear projections. He cites a 2002 paper by Berger and Loutre: “The climate system may take 50,000 years to assimilate the impacts of human activities during the early third millennium. In this case, an “irreversible greenhouse effect” could become the most likely future climate.”

A Munich Re Insurance graph shows a tripling of extreme global climatic and seismic events of all kinds since 1970. (Arctic News)

The Indonesian government is planning to move its capital to a purpose-built new city. Built on a bog and now sinking fast owing to sea-level rise, Jakarta is to be abandoned to the waves. Environmentalists have protested at the choice of a virgin forest site in Borneo (Kalimantan).

 

USA: Hurricane Dorian intensified Sunday to a monster 180-mph top-end Category 5 storm, gusting to 220 mph, as it approached the Bahamas – the strongest hurricane to hit the region in modern times. Moving at only 1 mph, it’s carrying up to 30-in. of rain and pushing a 20-foot storm surge on top of this month’s king tides. Reporters said hundreds of residents of lower-lying islands, including Grand Cay and Sweeting Cay, ignored mandatory evacuation orders. Early video images show houses half-submerged, their roofs ripped away. Over 13,000 properties are said to have been destroyed.

Floridans are hunkering down as Hurricane Dorian approaches the eastern US coastline. The NHC however expects the storm to turn northward instead of crossing the coast, sparing Mar-a-Lago, andto  head up the coast past Georgia, slamming instead into the Carolinas. If it follows the same track as Matthew in 2016 it could still cause $billions in damage – and fatalities. Matthew killed 47 people.

According to an investigation by The Intercept, two Brazilian firms standing to make millions from the removal of the Amazon rainforest have been among the heavier donors to the re-election campaign funds of both Donald Trump and profoundly corrupt Senate leader, “Moscow Mitch” – should that now be “Manaus Mitch”? – McConnell. Both firms are owned largely or in part by Stephen Schwartzman, billionaire CEO of $300 bn US fund manager, Blackstone Corp.

Hang him. No, I’m serious. Unfathomably stupid and greedy “entrepreneurs” like him have forfeited any right to life. They need to be put on trial for ecocidal crimes and gaoled for life, or summarily executed. The future cannot afford their continued existence.

(If a corporation or a river can be declared to have legal rights as a person, as has been adjudicated, then why does the Future not have equivalent legal rights to exist unthreatened by special interests bent on adversely altering or preventing it from eventuating? Could this concept not be tried in court?)

Russia: Days of heavy rain and flooding have prompted authorities to declare an emergency in Russia‘s Far East. The declaration covers 15 municipalities including the city of Vladivostok which is among the worst affected. The Primorsky Krai administration said more than 150mm of rain has fallen in Vladivostok over the last few days (a normal month’s worth). (Floodlist)

Mauritania: At least 5 people have died in recent flooding in southern Mauritania according to media reports. News agency AMI said that dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed following storms and heavy rains that began around 25 Aug. Fatalities were reported in the capital, Sélibaby City. Media reported that 200mm of rain fell in the area. Roads, bridges and other infrastructure were also damaged. (Floodlist)

Uganda: landslides and flooding have affected several areas of Bulambuli district since 27 August. Local media reported that 5 people were missing, feared dead, after landslides buried houses and flooding from the River Kajere. “Above normal” rains are forecast through until the end of October. (Floodlist)

Kenya: 6 bodies have been recovered after a tour group was swept away by a flash flood in a Kenyan national park. The incident at Hell’s Gate National Park on Sunday involved five Kenyan nationals, a local tour guide and a “foreigner”, officials said. 1 tourist is still missing and a search and rescue operation is continuing. (BBC)

Morocco: At least 7 people died in flash floods in Morocco on 28 August, after heavy rain in the south of the country. A wave of water slammed into a crowd of spectators at a football match, as a building many had taken refuge on collapsed. More people are feared missing and search and rescue teams are working in the area to find survivors. (Floodlist)

Australia: Your Gran fears the media is going mad. A huge floating island of volcanic pumice in the Pacific has been hailed everywhere as a potential saviour of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as corals and other microflora will cling to its underside and repopulate the dying reef.

Well, no, it won’t – not if the same conditions that are killing the reef – oceanic heatwaves and acidification – are going to persist. How could it?

Instead, “The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s outlook report, published every five years, finds coral reefs have declined to a ‘very poor’ condition and there is widespread habitat loss and degradation affecting fish, turtles and seabirds.”

As well as the warming, acidifying ocean, agricultural pollution, ecological imbalances, cyclones and illegal fishing are among reasons to doubt that anything can now save the reef, once listed as one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World and now in its northern sector 2/3rds dead. The Authority’s almost pathetic optimism concludes that all is not lost, provided the world “tackles global warming” if the reef is to be saved. (Guardian Green Light, et al.) As if.

Tunnel approaching….

Ebola: The world’s forgotten Ebola epidemic, mainly in the DRC, has claimed its 2,000th victim. There have been 3,000 cases in total of the disease, which has an unusually high mortality rate of 67%. There’ve been a number of cases and fatalities in neighboring Uganda as the border is porous and villagers are refusing to take warnings seriously not to travel. Hostility toward medical teams and a refusal to believe the disease exists are given as reasons the outbreak is so far from controlled.

 

Trump Org. a grovelling apology

In The Pumpkin – Issue 96, we commented that US cable news network MSNBC and presenter Lawrence O’Donnell were reporting that signatures of Russian oligarchs may have been found in court papers among Trump loan applications to Deutsche Bank, the only remaining bank that would lend to him. The normally serious and reliable O’Donnell has since reported that he shouldn’t have let the cat out of the… no, sorry, he’s tweeted that it was inappropriate to quote his one anonymous source for that claim at this time without supporting testimony and he was wrong to do so. I expect the Southern District court has given him a walloping.

Trump’s dimmest little sprog, Eric, has threatened to sue everyone who repeats the story.

Sorry. No, really, Eric. Really, really sorry. I know you only told a golfing magazine you get all your money from Russia, but later, maybe, yeah?

But please, MSNBC, you can’t afford to give the Trumps these hostages to fortune. Calm down, okay?

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The Pumpkin – Issue 96: The Red President… The madness of King Donald #2… Of course it’s not a coup, silly!… Your average Tory cunt #2… I spy with my little i… GW: A world on fire.

“Prorogation is an exercise of royal prerogative that is tolerable in a modern democracy only insofar as it is ceremonial. Its deployment by a prime minister without an electoral mandate of his own, in pursuit of a partisan agenda for which there is no Commons majority, represents a grotesque abuse of the country’s highest political office.” – Guardian editorial

Your Uncle Bogler had always fancied that “prorogue” meant you were generally in favor of rogues. He cannot understand why Her Majesty didn’t just tell this unelected, narcissistic, Koch-funded buffoon with authoritarian tendencies to get the fuck off her lawn. But then why would the monarch be in favour of smelly old democracy?

“Quick, panic! There’s that terrible human who keeps feeding us!”

The Red President

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell is reporting tonight (27 Aug.) that Deutsche Bank has confirmed to a New York court that they hold several years’ worth of Donald Trump’s tax returns among the “vast trove” of financial asset disclosures he has made to them, many – according to whistleblowers in the bank and on the sworn testimony of former Trump lieutenant, Michael Cohen – dishonestly inflated.

They state that, as Trump has already boasted, he paid “little to no” tax during those years. Whether that makes him “smart”, as he says, or whether it’s merely an indication that he wasn’t earning very much, will no doubt come out in court.

We already know that he mitigated tax for many years through declaring huge losses, while at the same time manipulating the media to convince the American public he was a successful self-made billionaire. We still don’t know if those losses were genuine – you can only make a loss by spending more than you earn, but you still need to earn it in the first place – or if they were merely an accounting fiction and he was salting profits away undeclared somewhere.

O’Donnell however drops a total bombshell.

A private source “close to Deutsche Bank” has claimed that congressional subpoenas requiring the bank to hand over their voluminous records of dealings with Trump name a number of Russian oligarchs as co-signatories to loan applications made by Trump without which, says the source, the bank would not have agreed to lend him the approximately $2 billion he borrowed in the ten years up to his gaining the presidency, on the basis of his terrible credit default history.

(One further clue: when he became the Republican candidate, his Russian backers appear to have rapidly withdrawn to avoid implicating Putin, presumably – and that was when Deutsche Bank refused Trump a $10 million loan.)

Finally, we begin to understand his craven obeisance to the foreign policy whims of Vladimir Putin, the world’s richest man, the supreme oligarch who owns all the other oligarchs; and his refusal to criticize them in any way. They all own Trump, lock, stock and barrel. And many of them, perhaps among Trump’s backers too, are on sanctions lists or FBI wanted lists for racketeering and currency violations.

Ooops.

If true, according to vintage Trumphound and tax specialist, David Cay Johnson, if those signatures are indeed down on paper, the presence of Russian guarantors in Trump’s personal and business banking affairs, perhaps individuals suspected of criminal activities, should be more than enough to secure his immediate removal from office.

Sadly, the world doesn’t work like that.

With the Justice Department totally in his pocket – Attorney General Bill Barr has reportedly just given Trump Organization 30 thousand dollars to host a party at one of Trump’s hotels – and with his drooling imbecile, Mnuchin, at the Treasury, overseeing the Internal Revenue Service and blocking congressional access to Trump’s tax returns – there is no other statutory body at Federal level capable of holding the president to account for financial crimes. No-one, not even Congress can order his arrest.

It is now entirely up to the New York district court to determine whether or not Trump and his immediate family should face criminal charges of money laundering and obtaining loans by false pretences, at state level, where his writ of pardon does not run.

Way to go, guys.

 

The Red-handed President

Would you like to know how evil this sick sonofabitch really is? I urge you to visit this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVDMabhm1tI

 

Exclusive: God tells Trump: “The Universe is not for sale”.
“He’s nasty”, Trump tweeted Thursday. “We need that oil.”

The madness of King Donald #2

Faced with plummeting poll numbers, Trump has ordered his Homeland Security people to get the wall built along the 2,000 miles of the Mexican border at any cost, to feed his dumbfuck base support and please the little yammering faces of the Fox sofa-dwellers before the election.

He says now he wants it “black and shiny and pretty and spiky”. He’s illegally diverted military funds to the project, and is gutting Federal emergency (FEMA) funds as well (In advance of a Cat 4 hurricane heading for Florida). To date, despite what he tells the dumbfucks, not one yard of new wall has been built.

One of the barriers to the wall, as it were, is that a lot of the land is privately owned. He has directed his people to seize the land, illegally by force if necessary, and to defy any adverse zoning or environmental laws – and promised to pardon anyone who is prosecuted for breaking Federal law. Inciting crime is, of course, illegal – and an impeachable offence.

Since that was all reported, he has denied saying anything of the kind, claiming that the insider reporting is fake news.

Trump has ordered his Border Agency people to carry on deporting undocumented migrants without right of appeal, even when they have children undergoing hospital treatment for life-threatening conditions. (See above: The Red-handed President)

Trump’s Environment Protection director, Andrew Wheeler, is relishing a Trump executive order relaxing Obama-era controls on methane emissions from drilling operations, saving the energy industry a paltry $27 million a year. That’s despite objections from Exxon and other big energy corporations who enjoyed the protection the regulations offered against smaller competitors.

Methane is up to 150 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2. The order is expected to add another 2 million tonnes a year to the atmosphere. The NYT reports, Trump and the EPA are looking at rolling-back more than 80 environmental protections, including a prohibition on clear-felling national forests.

At the G7, Trump claimed that he had received a phone call from China – later amended to “two” calls – softening Chairman Xi’s response to US sanctions. The Chinese confirmed, there were no calls. His own Commerce department say they are unaware of any new agreement with China. Trump also announced a new trade deal with Japan, that doesn’t exist. He also claimed that other leaders had been curious to know why the US media coverage of him isn’t more favorable. No-one recalls asking him that.

Trump has claimed for two years that canned former FBI Director, James Comey, is a liar who illegally leaked documents via “a friend” and should be arrested. All his press people have been forced to repeat the same story. Attorney General Barr has now announced that, yes, Comey leaked illegal documents. The DoJ investigation report Barr refers to, however, clearly states there is no evidence whatever to back Trump’s assertion. No, Comey did not leak documents.

Oh, no! Is the White House not telling the truth?

And finally, President Loony-tunes has signed-off a bill to fund a US space cadet force.

 

Of course it’s not a coup, silly.

“The … Weimar Republic was perhaps the world’s most democratic state yet—with free elections, voting rights for all adults (male and female), an independent judiciary, a free press, regional autonomy and elections by proportional representation. … It seemed as though nothing could go wrong.

“Less than 15 years later, the Republic had given way to Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship. Centrally orchestrated propaganda had replaced the free press; all other political parties were dissolved; new Nazi courts had been set up; and all independent institutions bar the church and the army had been transformed into organs of acclamation for the Führer. New treason laws made even telling jokes about his regime punishable by death. Within six years, Hitler launched a world war that killed 50m people, including six million murdered Jews.” – Richard J Evans

An article in Prospect magazine warns us that it may be too late to hear the warning noises. Sir Richard Evans is Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, president of Wolfson College, Cambridge and Fellow of The British Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences. Specializing in 19th- and 20th-century Europe with a focus on Germany, he is the author of The Third Reich Trilogy (2003–2008) that has been hailed as “brilliant” and “magisterial.” (Wikipedia)

Although he is at pains to stress that this is not Weimar redux, principally because it lacks a military dimension, while levels of violence have yet to attain those experienced in the late 1920s and 30s; and while the fear of Communism is nowhere as prevalent, nor the numbers of demobilized and demoralized ex-military conscripts swilling around with experience of violence nearly so great, nevertheless Democracy, Evans writes, is in trouble.

Disillusioned voters are too willing to embrace political outsiders and oddballs who appear to offer something different from the sameold sameold; while Conservative politicians will go along with anyone sufficiently popular to guarantee their place in society – even a funny little Austrian with a ridiculous mustache.

If he’s worried, we all should be.

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/britain-proroging-boris-johnson-parliament-suspension-richard-evans-weimar

 

Your average Tory CUNT (Conservative & Unionist Neo-Thatcherite) #2

“Hancock wrote to parliament on 6 June (the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings), saying that ‘England is the mother of all parliaments – respected as such around the free world. To suspend Parliament explicitly to pursue a course of action against its wishes is not a serious policy of a prime minister in the 21st Century. It goes against everything those men who waded onto those beaches fought & died for – and I will not have it’.” (Edited from Guardian, 29 Aug.)

We look forward to your resignation, Minister.

Self-serving little creep.

Seriously, if the only result of Johnson’s reckless and authoritarian prorogation of Parliament closing down democratic debate on the terms of Brexit were to be to ensure that Nigel Farage and his rump Brexit party of fanatical Leavers – not a political party in reality but a private company* registered to Farage, with hefty membership fees and “dark money” accruing to him personally – don’t get a sniff of being elected in November, then it’s probably worth it.

But we then have to look forward to a newly mandated Johnson explaining why his “exciting and ambitious” reform manifesto involving spending billions of pounds of public money he hasn’t got on bringing back flogging and roly-poly pudding with jam in schools and providing free nannies to upper-class working mothers is not going to happen after all, is all the fault of Brussels, or the last Labour government, or the media, his ex-wife, his current “totty” (his word) or Martians.

And there seems little doubt that we are overdue for another global recession, with our defenses down and no way we can sensibly just print money to buy our way out of it and reward the bankers for failure this time by artificially propping up its value with interest rates at zero so they can spend it on real yachts. The Week reports on America’s savviest investor, Warren Buffet:

“He’s reportedly hoarding a record $122 billion in cash at Berkshire Hathaway Inc., leading to some speculation that he sees a recession on the horizon, or at least is sending some sort of warning. The cash pile is more than half the value of Berkshire’s $208 billion portfolio of public companies, and the only time that percentage has reportedly been higher since 1987 was in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.”

I’ve quoted The Week because Bloomberg has locked me out with no more free articles to pillage, ever, but they’re saying much the same thing. The wealthier the media owner, it seems, the higher the paywall.

We might perhaps consider that if Buffet and the rest of the 0.1% are hoarding all the money and not investing it, the likelihood of a recession is substantially increased. But they’re covered for that.

*It’s a way of avoiding most of the financial accounting obligations and rules on donor transparency imposed by the toothless and, indeed, gormless Electoral Commission.

 

I spy with my little i

In May last year, The Guardian reported that President Trump was refusing to allow the iPhone he uses for monitoring Twitter feeds and spewing out his insane tweets to be scanned for bugs and evidence of hacking, because it was “too inconvenient” to be without it.

Google’s in-house Spot-the-Hacker team has today revealed details of mass hacking operations that have been affecting, specifically, iPhone users for over two years, deploying more than a dozen separate pieces of malware to obtain intimate details of passwords, conversations, financial records, lookups and locations.

No source of the hacking has been revealed.

Lock him up?

 

GW: A world on fire

If you’re wondering why the weather isn’t even hotter, given the increase in CO2, maybe this should concentrate the mind.

Global News, Canada reported (16 Aug.):

“…Smoke from British Columbia’s wildfires in 2017 is helping scientists model the potential impacts of nuclear war on the Earth’s climate, says a study from Rutgers University. The enormous plume of smoke formed the largest cloud of its kind ever observed, which circled the Northern Hemisphere, says the study … in the peer-reviewed academic journal Science. The cloud, called a pyrocumulonimbus, formed over the wildfire and sent black carbon high into the atmosphere … The wildfire smoke cloud contained 0.3 million U.S. tons of soot, while a nuclear war between the United States and Russia could generate 150 million tons.

In other words, these huge regional wildfires all over the planet will be creating a global dimming effect like a nuclear winter for several years. But don’t be fooled – without the smoke, which you can clearly observe in the haze even on blue-sky days or feel in the muted warmth of the sun, and occasionally even smell here in sunny Boglington-on-Sea, on the UK’s west coast – we’d be looking at 2 or even 3 degrees of warming above the 1880-1990 average this year.

For then, of course, you’ll need to consider how much CO2 the vanishing forests aren’t absorbing, and how much they’re giving up (and poisonous CO) when they burn, and how much less oxygen we’re breathing; how the precipitating soot is blackening Arctic ice and glaciers, melting them faster; how particulate pollution increases rainfall, and how the global dimming will reduce crop yields, while you slowly drown in misery and alcohol (drink up while stocks last).

Anyway…

Alaska: Despite starting early, this year’s fires in British Columbia have burned 1,300 Ha less forest than last year. To the northwest, however, travel site Afar reports: “several fires are burning in some of south-central Alaska’s most popular tourist areas: The two largest fires are the McKinley Fire and the Swan Lake Fire (157,000 acres), and several smaller outbreaks are causing concern throughout the region.” Air quality is generally terrible and some highways remain closed.

Africa: Wildfires in Central and Southern Africa and on the island of Madagascar may be consuming twice the area of forest as the Brazilian rainforest fires, which have been exacerbated by drought as the forest is no longer producing its own misty microclimate of rain. Or maybe not, as they are mostly caused by small farmers burning off grassland and stubble, so perhaps it’s not so bad. Just a mass of red on a satellite image. Huge fires however continue to burn in Brazil’s forested neighbor, Bolivia – and in Australia, despite the cold, wet, windy winter, where over 100 fires are burning – in Tasmania to the south and up in Papua New Guinea to the north.

Soon these Siberian reindeer will die and nobody is quite sure why, but thousands already have. Herders blame a vaccination program against anthrax, whose spores are being released by thawing of the permafrost, for weakening the animals’ resistance to winter hunger when increasing rainfall creates a barrier of ice over the snow covering the mosses they eat.

Russia: Water levels in the Lena River, a major Siberian waterway, have dropped so far owing to a persistent heatwave and drought that the economy of the region is beginning to suffer. At 2.5 meters below normal, Siberian Times reports:

“The current water level means critical delays in the summer ritual delivering vital supplies to Arctic settlements in Yakutia, Russia’s biggest region. … traffic flow … has been halted for weeks due to the low level of the longest river flowing entirely within Russia. In regional capital Yakutsk the water dropped so suddenly that hundreds of cargo ships and smaller boats were left stranded. Elsewhere along the river fishermen complained about an extremely low catch, saying that for days they were coming back home with empty buckets.”

The shortage of water also means less is available for firefighting. Siberian Times again:

“Territory covered with wildfires across Russia has reached its peak for the year so far, with some 5.4 million hectares ablaze mostly in Siberia and the country’s far east. The total land destroyed by flames will soon exceed 2018 with weeks of the burning season still to go. The immense scale of the fires is highlighted by the fact that so far this year some 14.9 million hectares has been destroyed by burning. (An area the size of Bangladesh.) Smoke from wildfires has covered an area larger than the European Union.” While firefighters have been able to access less than 10% of the areas on fire, and water is being described as more expensive than Champagne.

Europe: Copernicus reports, “more than 1,600 wildfires have been recorded in the European Union so far this year — more than three times the average over the past decade. The rise in the number of blazes has reduced to ashes more than 271,000 hectares — 100,000 more than the average burnt (annually) over the same period during the last decade.” (EuroNews)

Japan: “Daily downpours inundating parts of western Japan in the coming days will raise the risk of flooding and mudslides. The (“unprecedented”) downpours began on Tuesday, and are expected to continue into Friday before diminishing in intensity this weekend. The hardest-hit areas from Tuesday into Wednesday night were across northwestern Kyushu where more than 500 mm (20-in) was reported in Hirado.” (Accuweather) Rainfall rates locally were as high as 4-in. per hour. At least 3 deaths were reported as cars were swept away. “900,000 people have been ordered to evacuate across Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki prefectures as of Wednesday.”

USA: Tropical Storm, now Hurricane Dorian has been pounding the US Virgin Islands (but skirted Puerto Rico) and is now aiming at Florida, where forecasters think it might arrive over the Labor Day weekend at Cat 4 hurricane strength. Once across Florida and into the Gulf, they fear it might intensify even further into next week. They’re already evaluating potential damage at $1 bn+. A strong Tropical Storm, Erin is moving up parallel to the East Coast, with its worst impacts due to be felt in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Accuweather also reports:

“Record highs dating back to the 1940s will be in jeopardy across the southwestern United States as intense heat builds into the Labor Day weekend. While average high temperatures start trending down at this point in the season most years, this weekend will feel more like the middle of summer due to widespread highs in the 90s, 100s and 110s F.”

One persistent hotspot rapidly becoming uninhabitable is Phoenix, Az, where a powerful out-of-town lobby funded by Koch Industries’ dirty money has reportedly been working to prevent the water-stressed desert city extending its light railway network, in favor of having more polluting cars. (Yes, these people are criminally insane. Next?) Hopefully, a proposition that would have required “terminating all construction, development, extension, and expansion of” light rail has been thrown out by a massive majority in a local referendum. (Streetsblog/Guardian and others)

Happily, David Koch died last week. Your Gran wonders idly if he’s being cremated, just as a final contribution to global warming – and when possibly older brother Charles might follow him down to hell? That’s if he doesn’t roast in the one he’s been making for us up here.

Tunnel approaching….

Yellowstone: Trees killed in a new surface “hotspot” zone that has appeared in recent weeks have been turned to charcoal, according to USGS park scientist Michael Poland; suggesting anoxic heating owing to rising gases. Strong harmonic tremors, microquakes, ground uplift and gas seepage are all continuing. Steamboat geyser, the biggest in the park, whose long-term average eruption cycle is about three a year, has gone off for the 33rd time in 2019, beating the previous record of 32 set during the whole of last year. A number of fires are burning in the park, as yet covering a few tens of acres. (Mary Greeley)

Brazil: Forget the rainforest. After he was elected, the filthy corporatist Bolsonaro junta in Brazil immediately set about lifting restrictions on the use of agrichemicals such as neonicotinoid “pesticides” banned in Europe. Almost 300 products have been licensed or relicensed since the beginning of the year, many new and untested.

Simultaneously, Brazilian bee keepers have reported a massive die-off of honeybees this summer: over half a billion bees are thought to have been poisoned in a catastrophe similar to the colony collapse disorder reported in the USA and other countries around the world.

Ironically, reports Guardian Green Light, the important soya crop for which Bolsonaro is insanely burning the Amazon rainforest to grow and sell to the Chinese, is bee-pollinated.

Let’s see for how long, shall we.

(Your Gran is starting to suspect that the many bees she finds staggering about on the ground each spring may well be victims of local sports groundkeepers’ enthusiasm for pristine surfaces. No arable agricultural explanation is to hand in this region for the collapse in bee numbers, but there are many acres of cricket, soccer and rugby pitches in our little valley.)

(Possibly an encouraging sign, some funds are beginning to disinvest in Brazil while a few international companies have suspended trading.)

#grinder… The Irish border question: What is an Irish border?… The Madness of King Donald… Music, history… GW: The weather here has been as nice as it can be

Hi, welcome back, me.

#grinder

Yes, I had a good time, thanks. Glorious weather after the first day, and a memorable meal at a busy Michelin-starred restaurant on the divine banks of the Loire. Chef/patron emerges: “Smell zis Caledonian peppair!” He’d personally gone to New Caledonia in search of an especially fragrant pepper to put in his little battery-powered machine and brought it all the way to our table to let us poor departing Brits (and one London-based American) smell it. That’s what it takes to get one star.

For a whole day since returning, despite another gruelling all-day train journey with improbably explained delays, during which I managed to wet myself when the valve failed on my leg bag while I was falling in love with the stunning blonde passenger sitting opposite, in tiny denim shorts, and ended up instead chatting helplessly with a dyslexic theoretical physicist about string-theory, as you do on our local sprinter train, a guy with several PhDs, I have a cautious and totally misdirected sense of jaunty optimism.

Fuck it, I thought. I am the Chosen One.

We should all maybe tell ourselves that more often.

Photo: Reuters

President Donald Trump with the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and others in the background

“He who smelt it, dealt it!”

 

“It’s as certain as night follows day that in the event of a referendum the entire cabinet would agree in a heartbeat to restoring Irish unity, which would solve the problem at a stroke.”

As Johnson descends on louche old Biarritz for another pointless G7 meeting to be hijacked by Trump, his abusive tweets, his capricious nonsense and his insatiable neediness, we look at….

The Irish border question: What is an Irish border?

Technology exists to track your movements and mine. Do not imagine that someone, somewhere, with the right authorization, could not, if tipped off to certain worrying keywords, or simply because you bought some branded product, log-in to a system that is tracking your every movement, purchase and utterance; and, with access to 5G, will soon know to the nearest half-meter where you are standing or lying, robbing a bank or screwing your boss’s wife.

They are already doing it. You think your stuff is Off? It ain’t. Unless it’s dead (or you are) it’s still transmitting.

So, imagine you have a truck full of shivering sheep, baa’ing piteously on their way to meet the Inevitable. (Again.) Ahead of you is a separation between one customs tax regime and another. They levy different tariffs. Some official clearly needs to know that you have trucked your terrified sheep across this border, which has no physical barrier, but which divides a higher-priced region from a lower, thus attracting people who will profit by bending the rules.

He or she will need to register that you have transhipped 135 sheep from one jurisdiction to the other, in order for more officials to send the producer and the retailer their bill and claim the tax – plus VAT – for the Government. Assuming, that is, that your sheep have not been diverted into a quiet field somewhere.

Such a barrier would naturally encourage producers on one side to smuggle their sheep across to buyers at night, and buyers to move them on at low cost into a higher-priced retail and consumer market, pocketing the difference. Bad men with guns would exploit the higher price on one side, and be prepared to shoot when questioned; or when they think someone is telling on them; or, more pertinently, competing with them. I’m pretty sure they’re digging the auld Armalites out of their rural hideyholes as I write. There’s nothing the rural Irish like more than a good ambush.

The activities of these gangsters are masked beneath centuries of political, alcoholic and religious pieties, justifying their murderous ways. Their largely bogus “movements” have in the past set off bombs callously killing non-combatants, and even conducted two wars to retain their opportunities for profit. It’s called smuggling, and wherever it happens it’s a murderous business.

And then, imagine that the complicated geography of the region means that, in order to get from a low-tax regime to the higher one, goods have to pass through the higher tax regime from the lower, and then back into the lower and on to the higher.

Who the hell is going to keep track of that?

Packed on trucks, the goods leave the freedom of one set of customs taxes and standards, to pass through a different jurisdiction, the UK, with different customs taxes and standards, in order to enter once again the former jurisdiction, the Irish Republic; and then, possibly reprocessed (unless they are to divert hundreds of expensive miles northwards through the UK to Scotland) have to pass once more across this barrier, the border, to enter the UK once again. The process, of course, having attracted more tax liabilities.

I’m sorry, there are those who think this is a good idea, but I don’t. And I’ll happily kill you over it, when the gloves finally come off, because you deserve it. You’re a bunch of fucking ignorant, selfish, disinterested, determined klutzes who haven’t been paying attention, and in your infinite laziness you believe anything you’re told by bad people you think are on your side because they sell you pictures of very young women with big naked tits just like your mum’s.

And there we come on to people. People living or working on either side of this putative border will have different rights and degrees of citizenship. No barriers separate the people south of the border from the people east of the bigger island that separates them physically by water from the other jurisdiction to which they belong. But the borders between the continent and the smaller island to the west, and to the north of an arbitrary line drawn across the island in 1926, now create differential rights, rules, loyalties and responsibilities of citizens in the south from those in the north.

A major part of the decision by a very small majority of UK citizens to leave the EU related to their objection to the principle within the EU that people should have an automatic right to live and work in any member state. As soon as several poorer East European countries with quite alien cultures joined the union, voters saw a potential threat and panicked. In future, however, anyone will be able to get in over the new, invisible Irish border. The assinine slogan, “Take back control of our borders”, will be turned on its head. Fucking eejuts.

Their vote will substantially reduce the existing right of all EU citizens, however “acceptable”, to live and work in the UK, unless they meet stricter criteria, possibly than less qualified people from other countries the UK will be forced to make its own trade agreements with. But if there are no border controls between the south and the north of the island of Ireland, and the south is in the EU and the north isn’t, then the movements of people will need to be carefully monitored too.

I’m sorry this is all so boring. Blame the Leavers.

After all, I have just popped over to France for a week, and been biometrically analysed three times and presented my passport three times going out, and twice coming back, after enduring a lengthy spell in a restive queue, and the UK is still in the EU….

Lost control of our borders? How, exactly?

(If we have, I’m sure the lowering pairs of thuggish-looking Border Force goons hanging around every corridor and hall in their black uniforms with arms folded menacingly would soon reimpose it. Is Britain the only country that greets its visitors with Force? Every time I come home I feel sickened by this fucking country.)

Unless another delay is granted while British politicians pass their one greedy little brain cell around the table to try to find a ‘unicorn’ solution to what is a totally impractical geographical problem, by leaving the European Union without agreeing to open borders for customs tax and immigration purposes, in other words by retaining the existing regime but with even fewer controls and no say in what happens, the United Kingdom cannot remain united.

is this what these fuckwits wanted?

I do not imagine for one second that the fish porters of Sunderland and the demented Empire Loyalists of Tunbridge Wells thought about this problem for one second before seizing the opportunity to leave the European Union, an institution of which they were and remain entirely ignorant, other than suspecting it to be run by a cabal of garlic-munching foreigners bent on removing our hallowed right to behave as badly as we like..

It’s certain as night follows day that the entire cabinet would agree in a heartbeat to restoring Irish unity, which would solve the problem at a stroke.

Of excellent landscape value, and producing very good beef, nevertheless Northern Ireland is an ungovernable province. It hasn’t had its assembly government working for close on three years now, since the Catholic Sinn Fein party walked out on the pretext that the Protestant Ulster Unionist parties were blocking moves to institute an official dual-language policy (English-Irish, which practically nobody speaks) and other, frankly symbolic, issues, such as on which days of the week could the British Union flag be flown over Belfast city hall.

You might conclude, as most people do, that the Northern Irish are among the most stubbornly divided, batshit crazy people on earth.

Despite that, the British government has shown no inclination to revert to the old centralized rule from Westminster, while the terms of the Good Friday agreement that ended a vicious 30-year civil war never anticipated this rift known as Brexit and rather relied on not having to sort out the border issue all over again, removing, as it did, the border. Which is 300 miles long.

So, what could technology do?

Well, every sheep has its own “passport”. A sort of “baa-code”. All farm animals, every cow, pig, sheep or horse, have had to have individual numbered documentation tracking their progress from birth and vaccinations through to every movement off-farm and transhipment to slaughter, as part of the total traceability of foodstuffs imposed through the European Union since the late 1990s and the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE), that still has to kill many thousands of people who ate contaminated beefburgers at the time. (The gestation period is up to 50 years.)

One suspects Mr Johnson and several older members of the cabinet may well be coming down with it. (We are also waiting cynically for John Selwyn Gummer’s daughter, to whom as Agriculture Minister he force-fed burgers to prove they were fit for consumption, to succumb. Sorry, I just loathe Tories. I expect she does, too.)

So it is perfectly possible using GPS in combination with 5G, using implants, to track the movements of every member of the doomed livestock community, that we should not be eating for the planet’s sake, but which we could nevertheless tax to our hearts’ content, knowing exactly where they have been and when throughout their too-short lives.

Then, were I to walk out of my local supermarket with any inanimate object valued by the retailer at more than a couple of quid and bearing some kind of transponder, klaxons would sound and the large security man would pounce on me to demand restitution or, more probably, my imprisonment.

If it can be done cheaply in shop doorways, surely similar tracking of goods and people across invisible boundaries is possible? It would require vast computing power to track billions of movements of goods and people via GPS, and automatically debit their bank accounts, but it can be done. The cost would initially be terrifying, but by scrapping the silly £100 billion-and-counting HS2 vanity project and ignoring our £1.3 trillion national debt, it might be done.

There are surely enough investors out there with money burning holes in their pockets to make the lucrative practise of customs control a viable business proposition.

If we really have to.

 

So, Farewell then, David Koch, 79. Net worth $51 billion. In a special tribute, Granny Weatherwax writes: “Did you take it with you, you fucking greedy, hypocritical little piece of ecocidal shit? I hope you died screaming.”

 

The madness of King Donald

Departing this weekend’s G7 in Biarritz, Trump put in an impassioned plug for holding the next one at his Doral golf resort in Florida, insisting to world leaders: “I’m not interested in money”.

According to a new report by Citizens For Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, thanks to his refusal to divest from his business interests as required in the constitution, including his golf resorts, Trump has been involved in more than 2,300 financial conflicts of interest benefitting himself since taking office.

Trump has tweeted-out his approval of a comment by a conspiracy-theory-peddling radio show host that Jews in Israel regard him as their “King”, and believe that he is “The Second Coming” of the Christ. Pundits rushed to point out that, technically, real Jews are still awaiting The First Coming. He later informed the servile gaggle of journalists on the White House lawn that he is “The Chosen One”. No-one dared to question it.

On numerous recorded occasions, President Trump has, for whatever reason, told his dumbfuck supporters and even business delegates that “five or maybe even six years, even before I thought of running for President”, he was named Michigan’s “Man of the Year”.

There is no such award. Oh, and he first announced he was thinking of running for President in 1988.

Twice in the past week Trump has asked aides for input on “his” idea of dropping thermonuclear bombs on hurricanes as they form off the African coast, to prevent them reaching the USA. The NOAA has humbly responded that it might not be such a great idea for the rest of the planet, and wouldn’t work anyway. (The average hurricane generates energy equivalent to a 10 megaton bomb every 20 minutes.)

The White House rushed to clear up a statement he made at the G7, that Melania Trump had met with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un and agrees with him, what a great guy the world’s most murderous dictator is. She never has met him. New spokesmouth, Stephanie Grisham explained, the President really meant that the First Lady just “feels like” she has got to know him well.

A photo of Melania at the G7, looking like she couldn’t wait to get her lipgloss around Justin Trudeau’s manly dick, has gone viral.

And, though it’s been widely reported, it’s worthwhile recording – lest we forget – last week, Trump proposed buying Greenland from the Danish crown. Rebuffed by Denmark’s young female PM, he went off on one, calling her “nasty” and cancelling a proposed visit to Copenhagen. Two days later, after a phone call between them, he described her as “a wonderful woman.”

In much the same vein, he flip-flopped twice in the week on tougher background checks for gun buyers and once on cutting payroll taxes to boost the economy, while at the same time asking in a notorious tweet, who is the bigger enemy of America, President Xi of China or his own appointee, Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powel? (misspelling Powell’s name). Leading economists described his tweet as “crazy”.

As Anderson Cooper commented, it’s one thing for a President to make policy reverses – another, when he doesn’t himself seem to know or care what, if anything, his own words mean, or what he has said, from one day to the next.

The wit and wisdom of Donald J Windbag:

“I think I know more about the environment than most.” (Spoken at a press conference at the G7 in Biarritz.)

 

White supremacists in Arkansas have cut down a tree planted to commemorate the Elaine massacre in 1919 of up to 800 African Americans across the state.

 

Jazz alert

Music, history.

Since returning from a full-on week trapped in an agreeable French location with a bunch of musicians – amazing professionals as well as stumbling amateurs like me – I’ve tried to avoid falling into the trap of telling myself, enough is enough, and kept listening to jazz since arriving back earlier in the evening than I had feared; despite the delay at Shrewsbury caused by a passenger claiming to have had their luggage stolen with their ticket in it.

Thus I have discovered the lovely Robert Glasper, to whom I am listening a lot.

However, last night I devoted twenty or-so minutes to watching the outstanding young Afro-British cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year award, playing the Elgar concerto at the Proms.

I have to say, emotionally engaged though he always is, and technically superb, I found the whole thing a trifle perfunctory. Perhaps because there’s nothing much more anyone can do to flog new life into this old, post-First World War nostalgia-horse, but partly also because the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra all looked supremely bored. In particular, the violinist with a ginger beard seated immediately behind the soloist, who kept rolling his eyes and pulling disdainful faces, who should be moved or sacked.

Right now, however, I am writing with one brain while riveted on YouTube by the other to a filmed 1965 Belgium tour performance by the John Coltrane quartet, music of an octane so high I am writing this on the ceiling for safety. I had not come across the video before. It is, quite simply, whatever your level of understanding of music, whatever genre and Magus you believe to hold the One True Flame, spectacular and, indeed, magisterial.

The concert – only 37 minutes survives – is performed to a packed house. Wondering in passing what Sir Edward would make of it (I imagine his patrician old head exploding, the sound reverberating ominously around the Malvern hills – although, let’s remember, he lived on well into the Jazz age – perhaps not jazz quite like this), to the accompaniment of the unbearably suspended tension of a 396-bar (okay, I haven’t counted them. It’s several minutes long), positively heroic, symphonic solo by Tyner on what is surely Coltrane’s best-ever production of “My Favorite Things”, I was moved to post this Comment underneath:

“Belgium, 1965. The year the murderous kleptocrat (and reputed cannibal) dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko finally seized power in the African nation with the worst history of white colonial brutality of all, the Belgian Congo. The true “Heart of Darkness”. Not a single black person in the audience. And yet… they’re sucking this coruscating black anger up and owning it. Funny old world.”

John Coltrane (ts, ss), McCoy Tyner (p), Jimmy Garrison (b), Elvin Jones (dr).

 

Eat your little hearts out, Trump, Putin….

In 1970, supported by the Americans, the increasingly unhinged Mobutu held an election in the DRC to consolidate his rule. The only candidate, he won with a vote of 10,131,669 to 157. (Wikipedia)

 

GW: The weather here has been as nice as it can be

Okay, I am going to mention this. During the late June heatwave in which parts of France saw record 45 deg. temperatures, it was pointed out that the new record maximum, at 5 deg. C above the old, roughly, was in itself a record increase in the record.

Announcing the hottest ever August Bank Holiday Monday in Britain, the Met Office said today, temperatures had reached 33.2C (91.8F) at Heathrow by 14:16 BST, beating the previous record of 28.2C set two years ago. (BBC)

I think we can draw from that, that summer maximum temperatures in northern Europe are running roughly 5 deg. higher now than they were only a few years ago.

Buckle up.

(And today in Boglington-on-Sea it’s 15C. Brrr.)

China: “At least 9 people have died and 35 are missing after torrential rain caused flooding, mudslides and debris flows in Sichuan province on 20 August, 2019. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated , including thousands of tourists. Roads have been blocked and bridges damaged, making access to affected areas extremely difficult. Provincial disaster authorities were using helicopters to access areas and deliver relief supplies.” (Floodlist) And: “4 people were dead with 11 others reported missing after multiple mudslides hit Wenchuan County, SW China’s Sichuan Province” (citing People’s Daily).

Wunderground adds: “Severe flooding and landslides have killed more than 200 people within two months across China. More than 60 people are missing, and about 1.3 million people were displaced.”

Philippines: 2 people have died in landslides and floods in the Philippines, where Laoag City is under a state of “calamity”. and 1 in Taiwan after strong winds and torrential rain brought by Tropical Storm Bailu. 9 people were injured in further weather-related incidents in southern Taiwan, where over 750mm of rain fell in 48 hours. Thousands of households were left without power and transport was severely interrupted, including dozens of flights. (Floodlist)

Laos: Northern provinces have been affected by flooding after heavy rain. (Floodlist)

Nigeria: Flooding has been reported in numerous states since around 16 Aug., leaving houses and crops destroyed and causing fatalities. Flooding has also affected some central areas of the country, including near the capital, Abuja, and in Niger State where the city of Bida recorded 86mm of rain in 24 hours to 23 Aug. (Floodlist)

A large and potentially devastating series of fires is raging in Central and parts of Southern Africa. Among the regions at risk is the Congo Basin forest, the second-largest tropical rainforest after the Amazon, mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (NYT)

Spain: “The streets of Madrid have been turned into rivers as flash-flooding and hail inundate Spain’s capital. One of the worst affected neighbourhoods was Arganda del Rey where cars were washed away in the torrents of water while huge piles of hail built up along some streets. The Spanish subway department declared several metro stations and highways closed.” (Guardian, 27 Aug. – video http://www.theguardian.com/global/video/2019/aug/27/piles-of-hail-flash-floods-and-a-tornado-hits-spain-video ) In other news, a “spectacular” and “brutal” tornado grazed the Andalucian town of Campillos, near Malaga, leaving residents and tourists shaken but unharmed. Yellow weather warnings are still in place for “torrential” rain. (Various media)

A severe storm hit the Valencia region on 20 August, 2019, causing flash flooding in parts of the provinces of Castellón, Alicante and Valencia. (Summer rainfall records tumbled.) Some areas recorded more than 40mm of rain in less than 1 hour. El Toro in Castellón recorded 41.8mm of rain in 20 minutes.” (Floodlist) The severe weather events follow another strong plume of N African heat pushing up across Europe.

Guatemala: Heavy rain has caused flooding and landslides in several departments over the last few days.

Bolivia: As fires continue to rage in Brazil, nearly a million hectares (6,200 sq miles) of farmland and unique dry forest have been destroyed by weeks of blazes across the border in Bolivia, where the flames have now reached the country’s Amazon region. Ironically, while Bolsonaro expresses contempt for threatened tribal peoples and encourages big business to destroy the Amazon rainforest, Bolivia’s President Morales, himself from a tribal background, thought he was doing the indigenous peoples of the forest a good turn by licensing them to clear more farmland. (Guardian)

Your Gran remarks, bitterly: All such squalid, greedy, pig-ignorant eco-criminals should be dragged out of their fucking palaces and hanged in the public square.

USA: The last week of August is likely to bring yet more heavy rain, lightning, big hail and flooding to the already rain-sodden Great Plains. (The Weather Channel). Lightning struck a flag-pin on a golf course in N Carolina leaving an interesting pattern of scorch marks around what locals are promoting as “God’s hole-in-one”. 6 people were injured by a lightning strike at a PGA tournament in Atlanta. Multiple homes were evacuated in Los Angeles on 25 Aug, after a wildfire started in Eagle Rock. 44 hikers were evacuated from a national park in Arizona because of lethally high temperatures. Rivers in Alaska are “too hot” for salmon to spawn, threatening the fishing industry. (Accuweather)

Floodlist reports (27 Aug.): Thunderstorms and heavy rain brought flash flooding to parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma from 24 August. Among the worst hit areas was Fort Smith, NW Arkansas, where police report that 1 person died when a vehicle was swept off a road by swift waters. Accuweather reported, the area received 8.5-in of rain in two days, 4 times the normal monthly total.

Barbados: “A tropical storm warning is in effect for Barbados in advance of Tropical Storm Dorian, a compact system that has the potential to strengthen quickly. Tropical storm watches have been hoisted for St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines. (The Weather Channel). Monday 26 Aug.: “Tropical Storm Dorian is headed toward the Windward Islands where it will bring heavy rain and strong winds later Monday into Tuesday, but has an uncertain future beyond that in the Caribbean Sea.” (The Weather Channel). An NHS forecast puts Puerto Rico in its sights as Dorian intensifies to a possible hurricane by the weekend.

UK: A new record temperature was set for the late August bank holiday weekend, with 33.3C recorded at Heathrow on 25th. It’s the second time in one day that the record has been broken after a temperature of 31.6C was recorded earlier – beating the 31.5C record set at Heathrow in 2001 (Independent). Monday is expected to go fractionally hotter still (BBC). The UK has experienced several new record highs this year. Most of eastern central and northern Europe is headed for 35C, 96F all this week, with the heat pushing up into Scandinavia by the weekend. (Severe-weather.eu)

Greece: “Hundreds of tourists were evacuated from hotels and beaches on the Greek island of Samos where a wildfire broke out Saturday, officials said. Nearly 70 firefighters and 13 engines were battling the fire in the east of the Aegean island. Around 1,000 people were evacuated to the nearby town of Pythagoreio from several hotels.” (Daily Sabah) “Over 50 fires have broken out nationwide over the last 24 hours, fanned by gale-force winds, the fire department said.”

Turkey: “Two people were injured in the Black Sea town of Terme, Turkey, on Monday, Aug. 26, when a city bridge collapsed after a period of heavy rain.” (Accuweather)

Poland: “At least four people died and more than 100 were injured in lightning strikes during a thunderstorm. The worst hit a group of hikers at the summit of Giewont, a popular peak in the Tatra range in the south of the country. A fifth person was killed in neighbouring Slovakia. At least one of the victims was said to be a child. The storm is said to have descended suddenly after a sunny morning.” (BBC)

Australia: “Firefighters were racing to tame an enormous blaze in southeastern Australia with officials warning it could merge with others to create a “mega-fire” if weather conditions worsen. Crews have been battling fires that flared in high winds and searing heat across the state of New South Wales last week with more than 200 homes so far destroyed and many others damaged.” (Telegraph, 27 Aug.) More than 40 fires have been burning across Tasmania, while more than 100 fires were burning in Queensland, 23 Aug, where 1 person has died. (9 News) Meanwhile the forecast is for cold fronts bringing heavy rain across much of the country. Fucking weird.

Australia has just experienced its third-hottest July (a late mid-winter month) on record, beaten only by records set in 2017 and 2018, as fire and water authorities in the eastern states prepare for a worse than average fire season. The year-to-date temperatures from January to July were the second warmest on record, according to a monthly statement from the Bureau of Meteorology. (Guardian) (Let’s recollect that midsummer in Australia is 21 December.)

Tunnel approaching….

Yellowstone: While your Uncle has been away, a M5.4 earthquake under the Cosco volcanic field in SW California set off a new swarm of quakes over in the Yellowstone caldera. The Blessed Mary Greeley records the epicenter as being not far from the China Lake military base and geothermal pumping operations.

As news reports of a M2.9 quake triggered by fracking operations near Blackpool, England, were coming in, the biggest yet, renewing calls for a permanent suspension, there was a M4.5 beneath the Kansas fracking zone, showing that quakes caused by hydraulically fracturing substrata have a cumulative effect and tend to get larger over time. (Dutchsinse)

NASA reports, a 340-meters-wide asteroid called Apophis, after the Egyptian god of Chaos, will whizz by Earth at an altitude of just 19 thousand miles in 2029. (Express, currently obsessed with clickbaiting readers fearful of apocalyptic asteroid strikes, most of which happened millions of years ago – old news.) That’s within the margin of error for orbital calculations and brings this potential planet-killer inside the orbits of our weather satellites. But don’t worry, etc., plenty more out there.

The Pumpkin – Issue 95: Good luck with 2020… E Pluribus, Donald…Shits, hicks, hacks and charlatans… The Lucky Jew… GW: Slipslidin’ away.

Hi, The Pumpkin here. I’m trying to cram stuff in this week because I’m taking a short vacation away from muh li’l laptop next week and you’ll miss me when I’m gone. Sorry.

PS I’m going by train, as long as the virtue signals are working….

“But Greta, you didn’t tell us there’d be no more cauliflower!”

Quote of the Week

“We all know how Trump struggles to do the bare minimum of being a president but it’s still genuinely shocking just how much he struggles to do the bare minimum of being a fucking person.” – John Oliver, on Trump’s fumbled El Paso appearance.

 

Good luck with 2020

(This article first appeared in Tuesday’s Boglington Post but has been moved here because it’s better, okay?)

Further news reaches us of Trump’s continuing mental disintegration.

Japan Times reports, a number of countries have issued travel warnings to their citizens after the USA experienced 25 mass shootings in 2 months; including last week’s murders of 22 people at a Walmart supermarket in El Paso.

A perfectly responsible, normal reaction. Some governments feel a duty to safeguard their own citizens.

“Well, I can’t imagine that,” Trump said when told of the warnings. “But if they did that, we’d just reciprocate. We are a very reciprocal nation, with me as the head. When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country, we do it to them.”

For someone so thin-skinned, he sure resembles a rhinoceros at times. Especially when he’s proposing to wreck his own tourism industry.

So reasonable warnings from civilized countries like Japan to their own citizens when in America to be careful and avoid the sort of Wild West arcades where the little mini-Trumps go to blast away at live foreigners and schoolkids, result in a “reciprocal” threat from the madman-in-chief to warn Americans they’re in similar danger abroad, or not to travel anywhere, shitholes, whatever.

That’s to countries that generally don’t have racist neo-Nazis, teenage paranoiacs and other psychopathic Trump true-believers running around with legally owned AR-15 assault rifles shooting people indiscriminately. (We have news today of a Trump supporter, a disorderly military veteran fracturing the skull of a random 13-year-old child he thought was “disrespectin’ duh national anfum”, by piledriving him headfirst into the ground at a fair.)

I imagine most normal Americans can’t wait to get out, warnings or no.

Who reacts like this, like some brutal mob boss, to any perceived slight? Who else imagines themselves to be personally insulted when someone passes a reasonable comment involving their country, or kneels when the anthem is played, when the appropriate response would be to try to reassure travellers that they’re perfectly safe with him in charge, and attend to the cause of the protest without fake patriotic melodrama?

Donald the fucking Sun King, that’s who. King Donald the Mad.

It’s not that long ago that Trump was tweeting abuse at London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, for allowing one shooting and two stabbings over a single weekend, in a city of 7 million stressed people. As if he could do anything to stop them, apart from by not being a Muslim. Oh, and by not criticizing President-elect Trump over his efforts to ban Muslims. When was that? Three years ago!

And we’re not even his country. No yet, anyway. (I hear he’s considering an offer.)

Good luck with 2020, America.

You’re going to need it.

(I see that rotten stinker with the ludicrous ‘Mr Pastry’ mustache who likes to start wars and changes regimes more often than his fetid old underpants, John Bolton is in London today for talks with the preposterous PM, the craven weasel Boris Johnson.

Iran, here we come.)

Oh, and guess whose name has popped up in the Jeffrey Epstein saga, as another “friend of the late financier”? Why, trot forward on a pure white Arabian steed, Mr Trump’s young protege, Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman of Saudi Barbaria, no less. Epstein’s Rolodex must have been on fire! (New York Times: The Day Jeffrey Epstein Told Me He Had Dirt on Powerful People, 12 Aug.)

It might perhaps offer some kind of explanation as to why the Trump family is so assiduously putting about the fake news, that Hillary Clinton had Epstein killed in prison to protect Bill.

On the other hand….

 

E Pluribus, Donald

A rapper calling himself A$AP Rocky has been found guilty of affray and given a two-year suspended sentence by a Swedish court, following an attack on two young immigrant fans who were following the rappers’ party in a possibly annoying way.

The court found that Rocky had not acted in self-defense, as his defense lawyer tried to claim, but had joined in with two of his roadies in a serious but not gravely injurious attack.

This story would have been water under the bridge and certainly not had profile, had it not been for a bizarre tweet from the supposed President of the United States, demanding that Sweden drop the charge.

What Donald Trump thought he was doing, what right he had to interfere in the normal judicial process of another sovereign country over such a trivial affair, only God and the psychiatric community will ever know.

What we do know is that Trump has no regard whatever for the rule of law, in his own country or anyone else’s where he has no right of interference, other than for the arrogance of office.

This utterly bonkers individual actually threatened action against Sweden for persecuting a US citizen.

He tweeted: “Give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM. We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem”

By which we assume he means the vanishingly small number of crimes committed by Muslim immigrants and refugees, on which he notoriously fixated in 2017, claiming by some miracle of foresight that there had been a riot, two days before a minor affray conveniently broke out in one of Stockholm’s migrant majority banlieus.

What he meant by “we do so much for Sweden”, is anyone’s guess. The USA does nothing for Sweden, so far as I know. Sweden is a grown-up, independent nation, a stable constitutional monarchy, and has been for hundreds of years. Longer, certainly, than the USA, where around the end of the C19th hundreds of thousands of ethnic Swedes made their homes.

Perhaps that’s what he meant. The USA had taken in 1.2 million ethnic Swedes by 1910, driven out by years of poor harvests and failed agrarian reforms. That’s what “we did for Sweden”. “We” depopulated the place!

A$AP Rocky is not a well-known personage in the UK, we suspect, but we must assume that someone sympathetic to his cause got to the White House. Could that possibly have been Trump’s friend Kanye West, a rap artist equally as damaged by having been larded with a great deal more money than his modest talents might justify, as Trump himself is?

Oh, right, sorry, I’m being slow today. “Don’t call me a racist, see what I do for you colored people!”. Get the black vote out somehow.

There’s always something transactional in everything this Grade One menace does.

 

Shits, hicks, hacks and charlatans

We just had to pirate this priceless Trump anecdote from a strange piece in The Guardian, 13 Aug., on celebrities and their moments with the Gilded Oaf:

“Charlie Sheen recalls running into Trump in a restaurant, just before he was to get married. Because he couldn’t make it to the ceremony, Trump removed his expensive platinum and diamond cufflinks and handed them to Sheen as a gift. ‘Six months later I was having some jewellery appraised and remembered the cufflinks,’ Sheen recalled in 2016. ‘When the jeweller took a look, she recoiled and said: ‘In their finest moment, they were cheap pewter and bad zirconia.’ They had ‘Trump’ stamped on them. I think that says a lot about the man.'”

It perhaps says quite a lot about Sheen, too, that he couldn’t tell the difference.

I feel sure that if everything everyone now knows about this appalling caricature in the White House were to have come out loud and clear in 2015, he would never have been adopted as the pet monster of McConnell’s monstrous Republican party. Would he?

It reinforces the point about how difficult it is to get everyone at the same time to understand what’s going on, so poorly are most people equipped to pay attention, glued as we are to our cellphones (I’ve just signed on for a new one… it’s got a big screen and a twin-lens many gigapixels camera thing! And you can watch Netflix movies in realtime and store hundreds of thousands of tunes!) (Oh, do get on with it. Ed.)

There’s always enough inattention and confusion to ensure the baddies get away with it.

He doesn’t even like killing people. (Just watch video of him desperately trying to ignore a Yazidi woman in the Oval Office, telling him how her entire family was butchered and she was raped and enslaved by ISIS… “And so where is your family now?”)

Surely, there must be an almost unbearable level of embarrassment even among that power-crazed, money-grubbing bunch of shits, hicks, hacks and charlatans, that they elected a half-daft fairground freak in a tinsel tutu?

Is it even fair to mock him for his cheap tackiness, his utter fakery – from his cufflinks to his hair, to his tan to his boasts about the size of his, most of the time, negative bank balance, his vast intellect, his astonishing golfing prowess, and his prodigious… “wherever”?

His weird way of acting all the time as if he himself were a newly arrived immigrant, striving for a place in the sun, a street-rat clawing his way out of the Bowery, doing and saying whatever it takes to survive, even at his age.

That peculiarly American, insatiable hunger for acceptance in a cold world.

Did he learn that from Grandpa Drumpf?

Mockery hasn’t done any good, he’s still there, squatting like a big orange toad on the face of American democracy – for what that was worth – hacking about in the rough.

Each successive week brings more and more evidence of calculating insanity. He so clearly qualifies for the 25th Amendment. Yet nobody dares lift a finger!

Why are you all so pathetic?

 

The Lucky Jew

A theatrical colleague has half-Polish nationality. She and her boyfriend went over to Warsaw on a brief vacation trip and to visit family. On her return, we were up at the Director’s house watching a film and she gave me as a little holiday coming-home present, a Lucky Jew.

This rather startling memento is a small, carved wood and painted figure, about 3 inches high, of a bearded gentleman garbed in black, with a large nose and an expression of humble servility, clutching a bag presumably of money and a golden plate.

The tribute was in honor, she explained, of my recent triumph in the role of Shylock, the multi-layered, much put-upon Jewish banking character from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”.

Happily, I found the idea funny. I find most ideas funny.

It came with the explanation that the Lucky Jew is “a thing” in Poland. What kind of thing I’m not sure, a souvenir thing for tourists unaware of the difficult history, presumably. Searching it, I find no hidden corkscrew.

I might have found my Lucky Jew embarrassingly antisemitic, were it not for something that happened the very next day, for which I forgive its creator everything.

That was a Tuesday night. Wednesday was a day on which the latest issue of Private Eye magazine arrives in my local supermarket. It comes out fortnightly, and rather than flashing my contactless card at the tobacco counter lady for a silly small amount, £2, I add on a £2 National Lottery entry for luck.

And, guess what, Reader, it came up!

Okay, so it was only three numbers, for a prize of £30.

But I haven’t won anything on the Lottery since winning £2.50 about ten years ago. Admittedly, I rarely enter. As the brilliant Saatchi and Saatchi ad campaign used to say, “It could be you!”, about the most insidiously persuasive tagline I’ve ever read – and I used to write them for a living.

Winning anything on what’s now known with chintzy faux-affection as Lotto is practically impossible to do, since the cheating bastards increased the number of draw numbers, adding on an extra ten, lying that it gave us more chances to win, and doubled the stake. You have to guess six numbers from 60 for two quid. The odds against picking a full suite of six correct random selections out of a possible 60  are astronomical, let alone with the seventh Bonus ball you need to go full £millions.

They really don’t want you to win anything, so they can go on throwing money at netball players and obscure provincial orchestras, and the lesser prizes are pathetic, given the difficulty of winning one of them.

Lucky for Lotto, however, so many people enter so many lines that by the law of averages, one eventually scoops the jackpot. The resulting publicity is the only thing that keeps people betting. A fifty-grand prize won’t do (5 correct numbers!), although it would me – apart from me, everyone foolishly dreams of becoming an instant multi-millionaire. Little do they know.

So anyway, I went back to the store yesterday to pick up my winnings, and do you know what?

That’s right! More luck!

I did my shopping, and when I paid for it, it apparently triggered the requisite very large number of points accumulated over many shopping weeks, and the checkout guy handed me a £5 voucher with my receipt!

I’m not sure how long this run of luck is supposed to hold out, from my Lucky Jew.

Today I had a call from the cellphone store, my sparkling new Huawei cellphone we ordered yesterday had gone out on the courier run this morning but for some reason connected with the end of civilization as we know it, the courier had delivered it straight back to the warehouse instead of to the store, and we can’t get another delivery before Friday, and that’s the day I leave for London and I’m not going without a degree-level course in how to find the on-switch.

I’m a bit on edge today, to be honest.

Because there are two kinds of luck, aren’t there.

 

Cauliflower Fears

“The weak foreign trade performance and declining construction investment proved sufficient to bring the German economy to its knees …” A German economist responds hysterically to the news that Germany’s GDP shrank by a massive 0.1% last quarter.

Your old Granny comments: “We need to shrink GDP in all nations and by a lot more than tenths of a percentage point. Blind worship of growth figures is killing us.”

As if to rub in the point, after the Great Iceberg Lettuce Famine of 2017 and the Avocado Crisis of 2018, in August, 2019 Britain is facing an acute shortage and rising prices of – cauliflower. (Children across the nation cheer! And go on climate strike.)

The disaster is climate-related: “Heavy rainfall in June destroyed crops in Lincolnshire, and alternative European supplies wilted in last month’s heatwave. The shortages were described as “very concerning” by a spokesman for the Brassica Growers Association.

Expect to see more of this, we should.

Anyway, I’m sorry for Lincolnshire. The pickers all come from Romania, what are they going to do?

The BBC draws a veil over their plight.

Meanwhile, fearful of accusations of hypocrisy if she flies, Greta Thunberg has set sail on an oceangoing yacht, bound for a conference in the USA.

The media is reporting that it’s a zero-carbon voyage. Your Old Gran wonders if it’s a carbon-fiber yacht?

They mostly are nowadays.

 

Straight priorities

A 72-year-old Australian man is in a critical condition following an incident in which he intervened to save his dog from an attack by a large Goanna lizard.

It was at first thought the dog had died, but later reported that it had survived the attack.

The man’s wife commented that that was the best news she had heard all day. (Guardian)

 

“In 2010 the famous Eyjafjallajökull eruption closed down all airports in Europe. But its CO2 emissions were only about 150,000 tonnes a day, compared with human activity which is responsible for almost 100m tonnes a day.” – Andri Snaer Magnason, Icelandic author and glaciologist.

(Your Old Granny adds: Your weekend shopping trip from Heathrow to New York will cost the rest of us as much atmospheric forcing per head as the average Ghanaian emits in a year. Thanks for that.)

 

GW: Slipslidin’ away

Pakistan: “Monsoon rain and floods in Sindh province have left 26 dead. At least 16 people died in Karachi district, which was one of the worst hit areas. Heavy rain and flooding damaged buildings and inundated streets. Deaths were caused electrocution from downed power cables, drowning, lightning strikes and collapsed buildings. Karachi recorded 129.40mm of rain in 24 hours to 11 Aug.” (Floodlist)

India: “Heavy rain has caused flooding and landslides in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India. 6 people died on 12 August after landslides in 3 villages in Chamoli district. Major roads were blocked. (Some places received) up to 130mm of rain in 24 hours. The heavy rain is increasing river levels.”(Floodlist) Over 180 people have died in monsoon flooding and landslides in southern and western parts of the subcontinent over the last few days.

Japan: Typhoon Krosa (the third in 3 weeks to hit Japan) weakened to a tropical storm but still managed to dump more than 820 mm (32 inches) of rain on Shikoku, as of 15 Aug. Out of that total, 124.5 mm (nearly 5 inches) and 60.5 mm (2.38 inches) poured down in 3 and 1 hours, respectively. An elderly man died and over 40 people have been injured. (Accuweather)

Vietnam: In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Wipha, flooding that began around 8 Aug. has caused 10 deaths and displaced almost 2000 people. Kien Giang and Lam Dong are the worst hit provinces, where some rivers have reached record levels. (Floodlist)

Greece: “Fires have been raging through a “unique, untouched pine forest” on the Greek island of Evia as authorities fight to keep the flames under control. Hundreds of people were evacuated from nearby villages as the fire broke out in the early hours of (13 Aug.) Other wildfires broke out on the island of Thassos, as well as in the central region of Viotia and the Peloponnese. There was also a fire reported in Peania, a suburb of Athens. (BBC)

Switzerland: 2 people are missing, thought to have been swept away in their car, after flash flooding in the canton of Valais. The area saw violent storms on 11 Aug. Heavy rain from the storm caused the Losentze river to overflow, triggering flooding and mudslides in the commune of Chamoson. (Floodlist)

USA: At least 5 dogs have died after swimming in lakes affected by toxic algal blooms caused by heatwaves in Texas, Georgia and North Carolina. Torrential downpours are forecast for areas from northern Florida to southeastern Georgia and perhaps the Carolina coast later this week, at risk for multiple showers and thunderstorms on a daily basis.

A hailstone with a maximum diameter of 4.83 inches fell in Bethune, Colorado, on 13 Aug. The record was confirmed on Wednesday evening by the Colorado Climate Center. The previous state record in Colorado was 4.5 inches. (Accuweather)

Excessive heat warnings are out for 110 degree (43C) temperatures in central California, around Sacramento (The Weather Channel) CNN reported (22 Aug.): “Almost 50 large wildfires are burning in a dozen US states from Texas to Alaska. The McKinley Fire, which has now spread to more than 4,300 acres in Alaska, has destroyed at least 80 structures so far, the Alaska Division of Forestry reported Wednesday morning.”

Australia: unreal scenes as the Melbourne area of Victoria state is deep in snow. Videos have been tweeted of wombats shivering and kangaroos frolicking in the cold. Extraordinarily, the rare cold winter – storms, snow – accompanied bizarrely by many unseasonal wildfires in the parched interior – is given not one line of coverage in the Australian mainstream media today.

Wednesday, and News.com.au is reporting that the weather pattern in the southeast especially but really, all over the big island, is totally chaotic, with 38 degree days alternating with near freezing temperatures, rain and wind and then back again. Except they’re not using the word ‘chaotic’. And as winter turns to spring, the wildfire map is showing hundreds of outbreaks all along the coast from Sydney to Brisbane. They’re not mentioning those either.

Oz, you’re about as fucked as America is. And you’ve got the pols to go with it.

Postscriptum: 24 Aug., looking down on the Pole, a cyclone is clearly visible forming amid the chaos of the jetstream winds, bringing more heat and wave action to the Arctic today. (Climate Reanalyzer, courtesy of Arctic News)

 

 

The Seven Ages of Dominic Cummings… The party’s uber… So, what are we doing about it?… GW: how do you like your people, fried or boiled?… A BogPo early bird” special hatches.

Quote of the day

“You know you’re getting old when you’ve got so many pairs of glasses, you don’t know which ones to put on next.” – Uncle Bogler, in a moment of confusion.

 

Dominic Cummings before the Brexit campaign of 2016, a gleam in his studently eye as he imagines Britain becoming the 51st state of the USA and himself as President.

Rapidly shedding his hair, Dominic Cummings becomes the mastermind of the Leave campaign and is hauled up by a Parliamentary committee to explain the funding anomalies.

Suffering macular degeneration, Dominic Cummings moves into Downing Street as a special advisor with Johnson as funny premier and announces meetings will start at 07.55, not 08.00.

August 2019, and Dominic Cummings is beginning to resemble his own, long-dead grandfather. Does he have dementia as well, is the question the BogPo is all asking?

The Seven Ages of Dominic Cummings (With apologies to the owners of the original photographs, which I am using purely for educational purposes. Everyone on this site knows I get paid sweet F.A. for doing this.)

“Sans eyes, sans teeth, sans taste, sans everything.”

How does a guy age so fast in just a few years, that it looks like he’s playing Shakespeare’s “Seven ages of man” speech on speed, to get to the ending before he pegs it?

Anyway, he’s on stage now, playing Iago to Johnson’s Falstaff, to mix one’s plays up. It’s clearly a very stressful job being the Boris-whisperer. (I refer of course to Angela Merkel’s holiday reading, a book about tyrants in Shakespeare’s plays.)

Or could it possibly be that he has a wasting disease?

Like, wasting our money?

Or wasting the United Kingdom.

We should be told.

Sorry, Sir, I can’t let you in. Your pass is age-expired.

The party’s uber

It’s not only national governments that seem to be losing the plot, as the world ends, not with a bang, but with an air-conditioning breakdown.

Uber, the famous ride-sharing company, one of whose directors recently paid $72 million he clearly hasn’t got, for a splendid mansion in Los Angeles to add to his collection, is spaffing money faster than you can hail a cab: nearly $7 billion has been blown out of the exhaust already this year and there’s no sign of it ending.

But fear not! Echoing the optimism, both of the splendidly named Energy Mutodi, see previous post Pumpkin #94, and of Herr Johnson, already Britain’s latest candidate for Worst Conservative Prime Minister since Lord North lost the Americas, Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi gibbered:

“We think that 2019 will be our peak investment year and we think that 2020, 2021, you’ll see losses come down,” he told CNBC. “I think our breakeven is something that we can push the company to break even if we really wanted to, frankly. No doubt in my mind that the business will eventually be a break-even and profitable business.”

Rumours of a new Uber service, enabling us to hail a flying pig on demand, are probably true.

(Report: Vanity Fair)

 

So, what are we doing about it?

The Washington Post records today that:

“For the fifth consecutive weekend, protesters massed in Moscow, clamoring for opposition candidates to be allowed on the ballot for municipal elections next month — as well as for the release of hundreds of demonstrators … detained by authorities in the previous weeks.”

While:

“For the tenth consecutive weekend, protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong, dodging tear gas fired by security forces. … They are defending political freedoms they think are under threat and demanding broader democratic reforms.”

Those are brave people speaking out against the authoritarian repression of would-be dictators Putin and Xi. They come in tens of thousands, but many have been injured or even killed, many hundreds more snatched off the street and thrown in gaol, facing imprisonment and even beatings.

And what are we in Britain doing about the threat to our democracy created by Brexit and the Johnson cabal?

Having nice thoughts. Going shopping. Flocking abroad (airlines permitting) or to the coast on holiday.

The Guardian reports that:

“Green MP, Caroline Lucas, has thrown down the gauntlet to 10 high-profile female politicians over blocking a no-deal Brexit, proposing a cabinet of national unity (composed entirely of women MPs from across the political spectrum).”

And that:

“Britons have spent £4bn stockpiling goods. … One in five people are already hoarding food, drinks and medicine, spending an extra £380 each. … About 800,000 people have spent more than £1,000 building up stockpiles before the 31 October Brexit deadline.”

So instead of stopping it, or reversing it, hundreds of thousands of us are preparing simply to hunker down and live with it; voting with our credit cards.

Lucas makes the telling point, that the former Vote Leave! campaign team is now in complete control of the government and making threats to prorogue Parliament if MPs continue to refuse to let Britain crash out of the EU, not only without a deal (preventing further trade talks with 27 EU states), but also reneging on our existing financial commitments to the group (ensuring a credit-drubbing from Standard & Poors and the IMF).

So much for regaining our sovereignty. The BogPo has been “Remoaning”, literally now for years, that the sovereignty Brexiteers like Irish-Mogg, Duncan Cunt and Farage* were telling people we would be regaining was theirs, not ours. But did anyone listen?

Our government is entirely sure the worst is going to happen. They’re planning for it, stockpiling food and medicines again and proposing to draft in thousands more police and bureaucrats, find another ten thousand prison places and put the army on the streets.

What is this, fucking South America? (Venezuelan-style power blackouts becoming the norm.)

And we’re just sitting here, watching the neofascists taking over, perched atop our little mountains of canned fish and Pot Noodle, smiling and nodding gently. Oh look, they’ve started casting Strictly!

And what are the millionaires doing? Well, apparently, importing luxury German cars as fast as they can, before the EU slaps a 32% tariff on them.

But don’t worry, it’s only Project Fear, my dears.

“My, Grandma, what big teeth you have!” ** (12 Aug.)

** Farage is now doomed. He’s been caught badmouthing the Queen Mother, Britain’s most revered royal of the last century. But will the Daily Mail run the story?

**  “Emboldened leavers have denigrated their pro-European rivals for crying wolf ever since. That jibe resonates with voters who want to believe that Brexit can be a success, although it is worth remembering that in the original fable there was, in the end, a real wolf.” – Guardian, 14 Aug.

Is someone on The Grauniad a-readin’ my li’l bogl, I wonder?

 

“There is no question Arctic people are now showing symptoms of anxiety, ‘ecological grief’ and even post-traumatic stress related to the effects of climate change.” – Courtney Howard, president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (Guardian Green Light)

 

GW: how do you like your people, fried or boiled?

India: “The death toll from flooding caused by torrential monsoon rains in India has risen to at least 200. Dozens more have died in Myanmar and Pakistan. Days of pounding rain have claimed at least 72 lives in hard hit Kerala state, India Today reported. Another 97 people have died in the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

In northern India, ‘at least’ 34 people died in a landslide in the state of Uttarakhand. Dozens of people are missing. ‘Several houses are still covered under 10-12 feet of deep mud. This is hampering rescue work,’ Kerala’s Chief Minister said.” More than 165,000 people have fled their homes for relief camps. The Weather Channel reports, some places have had 2 feet of rain in less than a week. 14 Aug.: Odisha had more than 600mm of rain in 24 hours (Floodlist).

“Downpours have also inundated much of Pakistan where at least 17 people have died. 7 people were electrocuted and 3 others killed when a roof collapsed in the southern city of Karachi, AP reported. 5 people died in a flash flood and another 2 were electrocuted in Punjab province, according to AP.” (The Weather Channel) 14 Aug.: At least 12 people have died after heavy monsoon rainfall in Khyber Province. (Floodlist).

In Myanmar, 53 people were killed and 47 rescued as landslides forced thousands from their homes on Sunday, CNN reported. The flooding has damaged over 4 thousand homes, according to Global New Light of Myanmar.

China: “At least 44 people have been killed and 9 others are missing in eastern China since Cat 3 Typhoon Lekima made landfall, Saturday 10 Aug. Most of the lives were lost in a tragic event, triggered by Lekima, in a village in Zhejiang’s Yongjia County. After a landslide initially blocked a river, water built up and then broke through the earthen dam. The roughly 120 people in the village did not have time to safely evacuate before the floodwaters swept downstream.” (Accuweather)

Japan: A report on EcoWatch cites Japan Times as reporting 57 heat-related deaths and over 18 thousand hospitalizations, 7 Aug., as the result of a fierce heatwave that’s affected the country for days. The Japan Times website today is reporting however only that they’re expecting Typhoon Krosa. The national agency is “warning of torrential rain and strong winds along the Pacific coast of eastern and western Japan as early as Tuesday.” (13 Aug.) 2 fishermen and a 9-year-old boy have already been killed by high waves ahead of the typhoon.

Meanwhile, The Mainichi was reporting at the weekend: “At least 162 people have died from confirmed or suspected heatstroke in Japan this summer (2/3rds of them indoors) amid punishing hot temperatures following the end of the rainy season.”

USA: Will it ever stop? “Portions of the midwestern United States are expected to deal with rounds of thunderstorms, which may pose a threat for flooding, damaging winds, hail and even isolated tornadoes into Monday night. The same storm that unleashed damaging thunderstorms and several tornadoes across the High Plains to end the weekend will be responsible for triggering the severe weather across the Midwest to start the week.” (Accuweather)

Meanwhile a heatwave with wetbulb temperatures (heat + humidity) possibly hitting 115 deg. F. is building over the southeastern states – and Alaska just declared its hottest July ever: “Four of the top 10 warmest single months on record (all Julys) has been set in just the past four years”, marvels Wunderground. (Go on, you work it out!)

So, Farewell then, Jeff… Still crazier after all these years… Has He Shot his Fox?… It’s just a silly phase we’re going through… Arse Attacks #2… GW: And the beast goes on… Issue 94 of The Pumpkin extends its tendrils.

Other Quote of the Week

“Every photo of Cummings going into Downing Street sees him shiftily meeting the camera’s gaze with the same defensive sneer you’d see on the proprietor of a holiday caravan park who has just been released on police bail after a fatal gas explosion thought to have been caused by poor maintenance. Britain really is the land of crap Rasputins….”

– Marina Hyde, in The Guardian, 9 Aug.

 

So, Farewell then, Jeff

Let’s not get too cynical, shall we, about the timing of society pimp Jeffrey Epstein’s “apparent suicide” (Guardian), following an earlier apparent attempt on his own life last week, while “on suicide watch” in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. (“The facility is widely considered to be one of the most secure in the country.” – BBC)

We feel sure it must have had everything to do with feelings of personal shame and remorse, the certain loss of his privileged millionaire lifestyle; the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars, where his status as a bit of a celebrity nonce might make things uncomfortable for him. And as we know, careless is generally the middle name of whichever private contractor runs these facilities.

It surely had nothing to do with the 2,000 pages of evidence, naming names, in the trial on a charge of slander against Epstein’s mistress and alleged procurer of underage girls, Ghislaine Maxwell, released last week by a New York court; Ms Maxwell having unwisely accused one of the witnesses in Epstein’s trial, Virginia Giuffre (15 at the time) of lying.

(As Oscar Wilde said, “Don’t ever go there”!)

After all, why would Epstein have wanted the opportunity to defend himself in court, having bothered to plead not guilty to all the charges? Unnecessarily inconveniencing all his wealthy and powerful friends, some with extensive connections, I should imagine, in the criminal underworld.

Having been tried once before, and agreed to serve 13 months, most of it on the outside, where he allegedly continued his unsavory pastime of importing underage girls to entertain his rich and famous clients, I expect he just didn’t want to have to go through all that again.

And look, there’s the story, obviously denied, in the overnight British press, “Prince Andrew touched my breasts….” From another young witness, Joanna Sjoberg:

“I just remember someone suggesting a photo, and they told us to go get on the couch. And so Andrew and Virginia sat on the couch, and they put the puppet, the puppet on her lap. And so then I sat on Andrew’s lap, and I believe on my own volition, and they took the puppet’s hands and put it on Virginia’s breast, and so Andrew put his on mine.”

So, British royalty. May as well just get it all over with, eh? Puppets. What was that about?

Water under the bridge.

(As you may imagine, the Twittersphere is atweet with this story, the consensus seeming to be that this will be one for the conspiracy theorists for all Eternity. More sober commenters point out that all may not yet be lost as more civil actions are pending, that may rely on the same evidence coming out.

Unfortunately for her, Ms Maxwell is now the one most likely to bear the entire brunt of public opprobrium that had been reserved for her “boyfriend”.)

 

A police patrol car on its way to an incident was struck by a falling bear in northern California last weekend, causing the vehicle to crash and explode. The bear made its escape. (Various sources)

 

“who will dare to tell the king he’s crazy?.”

Still crazier after all these years

I imagine it’s almost certainly illegal to wish that someone would just take the shot and end this. Although I expect in their waking moments, most compassionate, rational people do.

Trump and the Third Lady pitched up at a hospital in El Paso on Tuesday, the Old Mexican border town where 22 people died in a mass shooting last week at a Walmart store, carried out by a 21-year-old white man armed with an assault rifle. The unrepentant suspect, Patrick Crusius had just posted a lengthy manifesto on the 8Chan race haters’ website, dedicating his desire to end immigration and prevent the “replacement” of the white race to the president’s deliberately inflammatory statements of previous weeks.

Was the presidential party there to commiserate with and support the survivors and the medical teams working round the clock to save the wounded? Would the president make a statement admitting that his attacks on migrants and people of color, his strident demands that they go back to where they came from, his encouragement of racially hateful chanting had gone too far? Would he apologize, and announce immediate action on lax gun ownership rules?

Well, we wouldn’t really know, as the media was barred from going in the building.

To rub the point in, Trump had brought along with him a White House camera crew. He, and he alone, would control the news agenda. “Mine is the only light in the room.” Thus he had himself filmed, grinning broadly, making a thumbs-up gesture, while Melania diffidently poses with the newsworthy baby whose young parents were shot dead trying to protect it. Their deaths meant nothing more to the First Family than an opportunity to exploit a half-Mexican baby.

They are not looking at the baby. They are looking away, possibly at another camera. Don’t look at the baby, they are saying, look at us! Don’t make the baby the center of attention, the headline news, we’re the ones who matter here!

This man is as sick in the mind as any human being can possibly get. But also as mean, and ruthless.

As the unwelcome and embarrassing visit wore on, drawing the media’s attention, across Texas ICE – the immigration police – on Trump’s order launched a series of raids, netting hundreds of supposedly undocumented Latino migrant workers, many resident for decades, leaving their bewildered children stuck at home or at school – or themselves rounded up and disappeared into containment facilities not fit for slaughtering cattle.

Later reporting suggests that one raid, in Mississippi, may have been connected with unwanted union activity at a chicken plant. You see, it’s not all about the race thing. Never was.

Back at the hospital, private cameraphone footage revealed the First Oaf, Trump grinning and bragging to appalled and embarrassed medical staff that his crowd size outside was bigger than the “400 or so” who had greeted losing 2018 Congressional candidate, Beto O’Rourke, at his most recent rally in El Paso – his home town. It was the most important thing he had to tell them, as he never stops telling everyone, that he still can’t believe he’s really the president.

Police estimated O’Rourke had drawn a crowd in excess of ten thousand. But that would have meant nothing to Trump, as he was furious that O’Rourke had dared to question the ethics of his visit to the survivors and grieving relatives; who had requested that he not come. My crowd being bigger than yours, obviously because I say it is, makes me a winner and you a loser. So – “Be quiet!”, he imperiously tweeted the younger presidential hopeful, after a fusillade of insults.

It was yet another vindictive attack on a perceived enemy by the paranoid narcissist with the nuclear codes. For Trump, life is a zero-sum game: I win, you lose – and “Trump” (it’s how he refers to himself, in the third person) never loses. With his little thumbs on the tweeter, he will always have the last word. And it will always be the nastiest.

In much the same way as he publicly crowed on the night of 9/11, with nearly three thousand office workers and aircraft passengers dead or dying, that his tower block would now be the tallest in Manhattan; or as he claimed last month to an audience of chronically sick firefighters, police and paramedics, who really had been there, that he was down there with them at Ground Zero, “helping people” and “moving rubble” (actually he was giving a radio interview), it was another fantasy born of a total deficit of human empathy and understanding; making every crisis all about himself and his own tragic feelings of victimhood.

Reportedly, on the way back from Dayton, Ohio, where he visited a second hospital containing nine more victims of white nationalism, shot up within hours of El Paso, Trump had another one of his meltdowns, and has been screaming abuse at hapless staffers who had “allowed” him to visit the hospitals without the media present, as he is now being widely accused of hypocrisy and insensitivity and has no witnesses to prove otherwise.

We wonder why.

No normally sane person says and does those things; let alone someone with the power and responsibility of the office of president. Congress has to understand what hundreds of mental health professionals have been saying since he took office: Trump is crazy, and getting crazier.

It’s not supposed to be funny, it’s not a joke – it’s not a criticism, a put-down, anti-Americanism, Antifa-antics, snobbish lefty-liberal horseshit, “Doctor internet” theorizing or lazy late-night satire:

It’s exactly what mental illness looks like.

Someone has to act on it, to end the nightmare.

Besides the criminality of which he is widely and evidentially accused, the cronyism, it is simply inconceivable that a man who is so profoundly limited – on top of the psychological damage from which he already suffers as a result of his parental rejection issues – a man whose perceived reality is 360-degrees self-invented, who can view the world only through the flattering prism of his own ego, his own wants; who continually lies to aggrandize himself when it doesn’t matter, and denies his actions have consequences; who has an insatiable craving for approval, a man in any case so poorly structured and incompetent, how should such a person be allowed to continue in the highest office, to which he was inadvertently elected?

For his own sake he has to be taken into care, at the very least for a period of psychiatric assessment. He is a clear and present danger to himself and to the country; his assaults on scientific research alone should indicate that he inhabits a separate reality; never mind the damaging trade wars, the tearing-up of treaties, the unwanted interference with foreign governments and the fights he picks with his country’s allies. The idea that he should be permitted a second four-year term is unconscionable.

It is criminal of the Republican party to insist that such a person should remain trapped in the very situation that is making his illness so much worse. He was never fit for the job. A humane constitutional mechanism to suspend him from office exists in the form of the 25th amendment.

But who will dare to tell the king he’s crazy?

How would he even have the mental capacity to agree?

 

Angela Merkel has been caught on vacation in the Tyrol, reading a book called “Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics”, by Harvard Professor Stephen Greenblatt. The book purports to draw parallels between tyrants in Shakespeare’s plays, and Donald Trump.

(“A rather simplistic, naive narrative.” – Bloomberg)

 

Has He Shot his Fox?

David Pakman is reporting that Trump has abandoned Murdoch’s Fox News, after months of increasingly rancorous tweets aimed at presenters like Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace, who have honorably attempted to retain some measure of editorial objectivity on this, one of the most rightwing of networks.

Trump’s real obsession has been with the daytime show, Fox & Friends, which falls into the Features category, rather than news. It’s said that numerous policy decisions and reversals have been announced from the Oval Office within minutes of rabid frothers like Laura Ingraham, Judge Jeanine Pirro and Brian Kilmeade commenting in characteristically over-the-top ways on the issues of the day.

Some of Trump’s staff appointments have been of totally unqualified people who just happened to have worked or guested in ways he approves of, on Fox & Friends. He feels some panellists have turned against him, particularly legal pundit Judge Napoletano, who has sometimes declared Trump’s initiatives to be illegal. Of course, one of his closest confidants is the overemotional motormouth presenter and millionaire slum landlord, Sean Hannity.

But of late, even Fox & Friends has been critical, for instance of his backing away from military confrontation with Iran. Now, reports Pakman, Trump is endorsing an even more rabidly rightwing and conspiratorial media outlet, the One America News Network, OAN – an amateurish cable network with fewer than 400 thousand subscribers – although with his support, that looks set to rise.

He recently tweeted that he would rather watch “fake news CNN” than Shepard Smith, but that “whenever possible, I turn to OANN!”

The station has promoted as real news, most of the usual online conspiracy theories cooked up by swivel-eyed Trump supporters like Alex Jones of InfoWars on the fringes of his campaign during the 2016 election; for instance, that Democrat intern Seth Rich, who died in a street mugging, was murdered on the orders of Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta – himself at the helm of an international pedophile ring based in the (non-existent) basement of the Comet Ping-Pong cafe in Washington.

According to Wikipedia, OAN – or OANN – is owned by Robert Herring Sr, mildly crazed President of Herring Networks, a millionaire who made his fortune printing circuit boards:

“Originally launched with the intention of targeting a conservative and center-right audience, OAN states a goal of delivering credible national and international news coverage throughout the day while its prime time political talk shows illustrate a conservative perspective. The channel is pro-Trump (and pro-Russia). Both Vanity Fair and The Independent in London have accused the channel of promoting falsehoods and conspiracy theories.”

Herring is currently hoping to acquire Al Jazeera’s US operation to improve OANN’s standing. (We recall, do we gnotte, Trump’s support for Saudi Barbaria’s boycott of Qatar, one of which’s objectives was to get Qatar-owned Al Jazeera closed down, which might well have helped Herring’s ambition along some.)

Suspecting that by supporting OAN, Trump might just have been hoping to move Fox’s coverage back to the far-right, from which he believes it has drifted, and to continue its slavish approval of him, The Guardian reported scathingly in June:

“The obscure One America News Network (OAN) makes up for its lack of clout or viewers by covering every Trump utterance, recycling conspiracy theories, downplaying Russian threats, bashing the mainstream media and championing the ‘Make America Great Again’ agenda.”

Former OAN employees confirmed to the Daily Beast, basically that the network is a crock of shit, and a terrible place to work, being in effect the personal mouthpiece of the Herrings, father and son.

If Pakman is correct, and OAN has won, watch out for even more bonkers initiatives and dangerously illiberal policies emerging from the biddable gogglebox president’s TV room, where he spends hours a day in “executive time”, communing with the little yammering faces in the ether. It seems they have indeed won, as on 8 August Herring tweeted:

“COMING SOON! You will be able to watch the president’s favorite news network by becoming a supporter on Facebook. One America News is launching a LIVE 24/7 feed — you will be able to tune in anywhere in the world. More details to come!”

Which prompted a frantic “Do not send money!” disclaimer from a company called OAN, whose URL Herring had declined to register as OANN was several thousand dollars cheaper, hence the extra N for Network – even though it barely is one yet.

What Rupert will have to say is anyone’s guess. He and Trump haven’t been friends for some time.

Media monster

The 45th President of the United States of America, probably the most petty and vindictive one ever, went ballistic last week and began tweeting furiously when he heard a Fox interview with a former Google employee, who “confirmed” a rumor (believed by Trump) that the online search monster was deliberately suppressing conservative websites – untrue, as it happens, the guy had just been fired and was feeling sore.

Under his savvy campaign director, Brad Parscale – formerly of Cambridge Analytica – Trump’s digital effort has already spent $9.3 million dollars on over 2,000 Facebook ads for 2020, including creating improbable support organizations, such as “Latinos for Trump!”, using brownish actors.

Techniques learned, obviously, from the Russians.

 

It’s just a silly phase we’re going through

As things in Britain and the USA slide gently out of kilter, with the rise of authoritarian gangster-capitalist juntas run by crazed, unelected rightwing ideologues in hock to a gruesome coalition of insane tech billionaires, hedge funds, Russian mobsters and the evangelical churches – practically the whole of southern England and Wales was without electricity yesterday, for no obvious reason, while there have been rolling blackouts across New York – and the numbers in poverty continue rising as fast as the rich can bank the money, spare a thought for the people of Zimbabwe.

Eighteen months ago they were freed from the malign rule of one half-insane, senile dictator, Mugabe, 94, only to fall into the hands of another reptilian incompetent, his former bush colleague and war criminal, Nelson Mnangagwa, age 77 and three-quarters. One look at his face tells you exactly how much mercy to expect from this former warlord.

Why on earth Africans always seem to imagine that these now elderly men who once fought brutal guerrilla wars, first against colonial rule and then against one another, committing endless rapes and massacres, are competent to run modern democracies, I have no idea, but they always seem to end up getting themselves elected, swanking around in black Mercedes, stuffing their Swiss bank accounts and grinding the faces of the voters.

Reports from Harare say people outside the city, where the rich still dine out, are literally going hungry, scraping by on a handful of meal and a few leaves a day. The UN says 4 million will need aid. Children are reported to be collapsing in school from hunger. There’s no power twelve hours a day, rampant unemployment, hospitals bare of medical supplies and the currency is virtually worthless.

This in a country Mnangagwa promised would be a haven for foreign investment – only to find himself hamstrung by the IMF and Mugabe’s vast debts, facing an almost perpetual state of austerity and drought punctuated by cyclones and floods.

Which makes this statement from a government minister all the more ironic, considering how things are going on the streets of their former colonial masters’ home country, Britain, where schools are on short time, begging for donations to buy teachers and having to feed 50 thousand children through the summer holidays – where homelessness has gone beyond the power of government to fix, and where, in a couple of months’ time, we may be begging the EU for emergency supplies of food and medicines, with the army on the streets:

“These are temporary issues as the market adjusts,” said Energy Mutodi, the deputy information minister. “This is an economy that is transforming into a more robust and innovative one … it shouldn’t be mistaken for a crisis. We expect prices to stabilise. We are going through a phase where we need to sacrifice and make some savings.”

Ring any bells, George Osborne? Philip Hammond? Boris Johnson – Lord Wolfson – anyone of the brightly optimistic school of Western socio-economic disintegration? Because, whatever befalls us in November – don’t mistake it for a crisis, it’s just a transformation into something worse.

 

Arse Attacks #2

Tonight, The Observer is reporting:

An Observer analysis of Land Registry documents and EU subsidy databases reveals that a farm in Durham, which Cummings jointly owns with his parents and another person, has received roughly €20,000 a year for most of the last two decades.

That’s the Dominic Cummings, archBrexiteer and Iago to Boris’ Othello, Asterix to Boris’ Obelix, who has frequently attacked farming subsidies because they allow us to compete unfairly with African producers.

 

GW: And the beast goes on… 

China: “At least 18 people have been killed and more than a million forced from their homes as Typhoon Lekima hit. 14 people were also missing after a landslide was triggered by the storm, state media reported. Lekima made landfall between Taiwan and China’s financial capital Shanghai. The storm was initially designated a “super typhoon”, but weakened slightly before landfall – when it still had winds of 187km/h (116mph). Lekima is now slowly winding its way north through Zhejiang province, and is expected to hit Shanghai, which has a population of more than 20 million. Fallen trees and power cuts are widespread.” (BBC)

Sunday 11 Aug: now 28 dead, 20 missing.

USA: “A broad area of the central United States will be at risk for violent thunderstorms and flooding downpours this weekend …with the worst of the thunderstorms focused on South Dakota. A brief tornado was reported in Lyman County, South Dakota, on Friday, with many more thunderstorms producing damaging winds and large hail in the state. The greatest threats from the storms are likely to be be high winds, which can gust to 70 mph, as well as hail and flash flooding.” (Accuweather)

Australia: The land of sun downunder is having a tough winter. “Strong winds continued to lash parts of New South Wales on Saturday, with snow hitting the Blue Mountains and stranding some drivers on the Great Western highway before it was reopened. And in Victoria, where a woman died (and 2 children were injured, one gravely) after a tree fell on a car, the cold, rain and strong winds were forecast to stick around for the weekend. Winds topped 113km/h on the south coast’s Montague Island on Friday. (Guardian) Emergency workers have dealt with hundreds of calls for help. At Stockton, in Newcastle, the wind ripped the roof off an old people’s care center, forcing the evacuation of about 30 people.

Meanwhile… More than 60 bushfires are burning in New South Wales, two months before the start of the fire season. How this is happening at the same time as the state is affected by rain and snow, your Gran fails to comprehend, but this is being reported today, 10 Aug., by News.com.au. I guess it’s a big place.

UK: Rail passengers endured a second day of disruption, this time caused by severe winds and flooding rather than power outages. After travellers recovered from delays of up to 12 hours on Friday following the National Grid failure, weather caused chaos in the national rail network, ports and roads. (BBC)

Quote of the Week… The Brexit Dividend… The cloud of unknowing… Good buy?… GW: It’s a-blowin’ an’ a soakin’ an’ a bakin’ an’ a shakin’ kinda week.

“Arse Attacks!” Downing Street special advisor, Dominic Cummings chairs a meeting of Brexit waverers in the Earthling Premier Johnson’s cabinet.

Quote of the week

“Trump is a cultural revolutionary, not a policy revolutionary. He operates and is subtly changing America at a much deeper level. He’s operating at the level of dominance and submission, at the level of the person where fear stalks and contempt emerges.

“He’s redefining what you can say and how a leader can act. He’s reasserting an old version of what sort of masculinity deserves to be followed and obeyed. In Freudian terms, he’s operating on the level of the id. In Thomistic terms, he is instigating a degradation of America’s soul.”*

– Conservative David Brooks, in the New York Times, explaining why the Democrats with their inability to get beyond economic technocracy have no answer to the darker psychological forces raised by the Trump phenomenon. http://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/01/opinion/debate-marianne-williamson.html

Brooks quotes the only Democratic candidate he thinks “gets it”, the “wackadoodle” (because she expresses non-religious spiritual values. Conservatives!), the extremely hot (when you’re my age….) Marianne Williamson in last weekend’s debate:

“If you think any of this wonkiness** is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.”

They’re not the only ones. Driven by the evil genius of mighty Mekon, Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s hard-Brexit ideologues are fully signed up to the UK becoming an integral part of the neo-Cons’ Reaganite “American Project for the 21st Century”, continuing and deepening the revolution begun in 1980s Britain under Thatcher.

A territory free of annoying regulation. Free ports. A tax-free shelter. A haven for international speculators and gangster-capitalists.

Trump in all his pomp and senile eccentricity is merely a mild irritation, a traffic hump in the road. The project is founded on three principles: low taxes for the rich operating unshackled in a free market; minimal governance emphasizing individual responsibility and zero State interference in public welfare; the preeminence of the Christian religion, supposedly as a moral force for unity.

Through his Republican enablers, if Trump promises to deliver those three principles his (many and base) worse instincts – of selfishness, greed, wilful ignorance, laziness, casual racism – a love of puerile and vindictive, provocative insult – of sowing fear, hatred and division – his instinct for bullying authoritarianism and pathological attention-seeking – his essential cowardice and moral vacuum, his total lack of human empathy can all be overlooked.

If you care to read the neocon manifesto, btw, it’s here, in all its serious-sounding reasonableness:

https://publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu/academics/content/amproj-a-way-forward.pdf

*It’s a pretty good definition of fascism. (UB)

**By which she means ideas formulated by “policy wonks”, not the lopsidedness implied in Brit-speak. Ed.)

 

The Brexit Dividend

Alan Winters, Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at Sussex University and his colleagues have produced some interesting data showing where the most and fewest jobs are likely to disappear in the aftermath of a no-deal Brexit.

Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, at a casual glance the highest numbers seem to be most closely associated with the constituencies having the most Leave voters. Watch out, if you live and used to work in Leicestershire, it looks like!

Winters makes the point that while you may lose only a few jobs in one constituency, because most people travel in to work from other constituencies the effect is more spread-out than government figures suggest:

“A ‘no-deal’ Brexit would imply a shock equivalent to losing some 42,400 jobs in the parliamentary constituency of Cities of London and Westminster. However, 41,250 of these jobs are held by people who live elsewhere. At the other extreme, Streatham may suffer a loss equivalent to 650 of its jobs, but around 2,250 of Streatham’s residents would lose their employment.”

He estimates a total loss of 750,000 jobs (conservatively, about half the number implied by the government’s own published prognostications). “Once we look at Brexit on a residence basis, we see that its economic costs are … far more widespread than one would guess from the pattern of employment around the UK in terms of workplaces.” That’s because people tend to spend their money where they live, rather than where they work.

Yet again, we have been warned. And it appears from the lavish “spaff-the-cash” we supposedly haven’t got, pre-election giveaways announced by the undisciplined fantasist and unicorn jockey, Johnson, that Project No-Fear is going to cost us a lot, lot more than Project Fear.

Already, the boot has been going in, just in case no-deal turns out to be the predicted disaster and we need somebody to blame. Michael Gove has been doing a Trumpian reverse-ferret on observable reality, moaning that those bastardly Europeans are unreasonably refusing to negotiate another leave deal on our terms.

But we already have a leave deal, and it’s the one they’re reasonably sticking to, because it’s already been negotiated – and that took the best part of two-and-a-half years. Why change it, just to help Johnson beat Farage in the upcoming election? They’re both insufferable, lying egotists, a pair of sloppy, incompetent huxters better out than in.

So who to blame, eh?

Postscriptum

The Daily Mail today, 14 Aug., is front-page hailing the Brexit jobs dividend: more than a million people, mostly women have got into work since the referendum – despite “Project Fear”.

It might not have occurred to the wallies at the Mail that you only have to have one hour’s work a week nowadays to be considered fully employed. Most of those women will be in insecure or temporary, low-paid, part-time work, unable to afford childcare or even, in many cases, food and rent.

Others will have been bullied into whatever employment they can bear to take – even prostitution – by the threat of crippling benefit sanctions of the kind thoroughly approved by the Daily Mail‘s aging Tory readership – the Johnson voter base.

Nor have they noticed, we’re still in the EU.

 

“Life is nasty, British and short.”

The cloud of unknowing

Johnson is spending £100 million of our money to tell us how great it’s going to be when we leave the EU on 31st October on his terms, with or without a deal.

That’s £91 million more public money than the Leave campaigners were moaning the Cameron government spent on leaflets inadequately govsplaining the in-out choice facing the electorate in 2016.

People who quite rightly don’t believe him are struggling to make our voices heard.

How on earth can we get through to “ordinary people” to tell them what’s really going on, when they’ve been conditioned not to believe us?

The people who identify with the image of themselves as The People – a kind of many-headed superhero – voluntarily keep themselves in ignorance because, to them, to know what is going on is to be one of the enemy. Instead, they are a Wise People, a sturdy yeomanry that can trust its own instincts to make correct decisions.

What, without basing them on any real-world information?

To know what is going on requires a degree of dedication to the basic art of understanding who is telling you the truth, who is distracting you, from what – and who is merely lying.

And why. Which at least to some of us is pretty obvious.

How many people who voted Leave knew, for instance, what is a hedge fund, what it does, how its partners make their millions?

Do they understand that every time Johnson opens his mouth to lie that the EU is preventing us from doing a deal that will deliver everything The People think they want, 24-hour Love Island with free lottery wins every week, the pound falls on the international market and hedge-fund managers make millions from betting against it?

I don’t mean do they understand how that happens, I’m not sure myself. I’d be rich if I knew how this stuff works. I mean, do they even know that it is going on? That hedge funds can literally bet their clients’ money on which of two flies on a window pane will reach the top, or which will fly away first, because they’ve rigged their own market to win either way?

These patriots are betting high stakes that the British currency, the British economy, British businesses will fail. That common names like the Post Office, Debenhams, Autotrader will fail. Whole markets, worth billions, have been built on this deception.

And do The People know how much money hedge fund managers have poured into rigging the Brexit vote; how much money they pour into the coffers of sympathetic politicians, urging the hardest possible Brexit, and why?

Probably not. It’s hard to see The Daily Mail leading with the news that Boris Johnson’s friend and financial backer, Crispin Odey, has just trousered another $100 million betting that the pound would go down, on Boris’ alarming statements that the government is fully committed to leave the EU on 31 October, deal or no-deal.

But he has. It’s called “shorting” the market. They’re all at it! The more they bet, the further they can move the market in their favor. And many of these people are sitting around the cabinet table.

The Eye reports this issue, Chancellor Sajid Javid funded his Tory leadership campaign from donations approaching a quarter of a million pounds, including £40 thousand from Horizon Asset Management – a hedge fund based in the Cayman Islands – a tax shelter. Other leading Tories have been schmoozed with free trips to the Caymans in the hope of averting tighter regulation on this open tax loophole for the rich.

Should we wonder why they thought it was worth spending that much money on an outsider, against whom the poll had already been rigged in favor of Johnson?

Do The People understand that Boris Johnson – I use the name figuratively, as a brand for a certain type of businessman/politician, of whom his cabinet is exclusively made up – is part of a widespread conspiracy of very wealthy people to deliberately rig the financial markets, the stock markets and the tax regime in their favor?

How would they understand? They will not trust the “elites” to tell them. But who else knows?

Would they even connect a suspicion that some people are doing rather well out of Brexit uncertainty, with the fact that a tiny fraction of the party had pre-elected Johnson to be the Prime Minister, and openly rigged it to ensure he came up against the weakest possible candidate, Hunt? They may not like it, they may mutter in bus queues, they suspect corruption and conniving – they always do – but as they don’t know how or why it happens there’s nothing they can do about it, except blame people worse off or darker-complexioned than themselves.

The sources they trust don’t tell them about this sort of thing. He’s just good old Boris, bit of a clown but obviously a clever chap. Whose actual name is Alexander. Or dePfeffel. Or Kemal.

Would they even know, for instance, that the new Chancellor – he’s the bloke in charge of the economy – Sajid Javid, was for 12 years a senior executive at one of the most corrupt banks in the world, Deutsche Bank, that has paid over $16 billion in fines for money laundering and interest-rate fixing?

The bank that lent Donald Trump $2 billion, even though he lied about his assets, had a zero credit rating with a history of six or seven bankruptcies and loan defaults totalling $millions? Even though he had been red-flagged as a possible money-launderer? No collusion there.

And that while Javid was at Deutsche, despite many warnings, our new Chancellor was responsible for plugging the same bad-debt US mortgage products (“collateralized debt obligations”) that almost brought down the entire banking system in 2007, that we are still paying for?

Do they see that connection, that the banking crash brought about their benefit cuts, the “two-child” policy, or are they happy to go on believing the pernicious lie that it was somehow all the fault of Gordon Brown, and that Tony Blair letting in all those immigrants has made them poorer?

Javid makes great play of his lowly origins as the son of an immigrant Pakistani bus driver. He must have lost a lot of sleep over Theresa May’s anti-immigrant policies, that as Home Secretary he was happy to carry out. I guess he’s less proud of how he became a millionaire, or he’d talk about it more.

In order to understand, The People would need to read and view certain publications they associate only with the enemy. Clever people. Educated people. Posh people. Intellectuals. The elite.

Publications they’re taught to believe aren’t for them.

And there’s the rub, as someone once wrote. Because those publications – The Guardian, the Financial Times, Private Eye, The New Statesman – websites like Bloomberg, Huffington Post, Forbes, the New York Times, Open Democracy, the Daily Beast – there are plenty of them – are the only places people can find the information they need to understand, the stories that will tell them what is really going on.

Because the journalists who are mostly not well-paid to report for those publications are the ones who are discovering and reporting exactly what this Thing, this conspiracy of the rich, is really doing.

It’s only by reading their reports that we can slowly piece together what has been going on, how the rich have tried to weaken the EU by splitting away Britain, that has several low-tax dominions where they shelter their money, like the Caymans, Bermuda, the Virgin Islands and Channel Islands, that were threatened with tighter regulation.

The others, the publications and broadcasts designed for the ordinary man and woman in the street, that the ordinary people believe are created for them, that safeguard their culture and play to their gallery, to their prejudices, have for years been peddling a totally different, false image of reality.

Because they are owned and influenced by the same goddamned people who are making all the money!

We can assume that, as most people who consider themselves “ordinary” don’t visit those more erudite and revealing sources, believing them to be the haunt of the elite, for intellectuals only, “experts”, people they have been taught to distrust, “serious” people, metropolitan liberals, they will understand only whatever it is they are being told to understand by sources they believe are for them.

Inasmuch as they even care.

In those publications, they see people a lot like themselves, a little bit feckless, a little bit “hey!”, only with money, permatans and and publicity agents, having a great laugh, with lots of sex, divorces and beach time. People they see on the TV, in magazines at the hair salon, on Instagram. People who are their friends! They want to have a great time too. And why not? Life is nasty, British and short.

The popular media has, either cleverly or accidentally, meshed with social media to convince most people that they are living in an alternate reality, a virtual soap opera of heightened daily drama, glamor, heartbreak and incurious trivia in which they are the main players; but which has no connection with what is really being done to them; how the world really is.

The ever-unfolding nonsense about the “rival duchesses” and their production-line of “loveable” royal babies diverts us, as if we’re still living in the 1880s. The endless hammering on the themes of British “John Bull” exceptionalism; of foreign duplicity and the threat of criminal migrants swamping our “culture” ratchets up the fear and hatred.

It’s an astonishingly successful ploy on the part of the wealthy elite, to convince such an enormous mass of the increasingly downtrodden public that they have common interests, while those who question their rapacious amoral behavior are branded as traitors and Trotskyite rabble-rousers.

How on earth do you get through to the majority of the people, the understanding that they’re being screwed, how, why and by whom, if the means of doing so are controlled by the screwers?

How do you explain to a young man who, apparently, pushes a total stranger’s four-year-old child off the top-floor balcony of a public art gallery, that to welcome a foreign visitor speaking another language in a cosmopolitan city is not somehow an act of national betrayal?

A former treasury minister told BBC Radio 4 (another elite source, not for the plebs) last week, that hedge fund managers would be looking at Britain currently “almost as a free lunch”.

Radio 1 listeners would not have heard that.

Radio 1 listeners and many, many others would not have understood the reference.

And that’s the problem, and the damaging paradox. Few people would. Not much news about hedge fund managers ever penetrates the inside pages of The Sun, unless they are caught in a sex scandal; which, nowadays, they rarely are. Money talks.

But the “will” of The People is nevertheless sovereign.

That’s something else they’ve been happy to be convinced of, by cynical opportunists grabbing the last of whatever they can get:

They have free will.

 

Good buy?

Private Eye reports, Johnson was handed £16,876 as a whatever, parting gift, redundancy payment, gratuity, when he resigned the post of Foreign Secretary last year, a bravura performance in which he had notoriously been an incompetent buffoon and a national embarrassment.

He had held the post for only a few months, and now of course he is straight back in through the ever-revolving door, on whatever salary we think a Prime Minister is worth. For him, it’s a pay cut, although it has resolved at least temporarily his homelessness problem and is saving his mistress rent.

Of course, to a man who described his £275 thousand a year fee for churning out one semi-automatic 500-word column a week for The Telegraph as “chicken feed”, a handout of £16,876 wouldn’t even look like quail feed. He probably hasn’t bothered to cash the check yet, it’ll be somewhere on the floor of his car.

It seems like quite a lot to me, I live quite well on a little under £14 thousand a year, and provide my Spammers, Likers, Followers, etc. a carefully composed minimum of four thousand words a week, many of them rude, entirely free.

 

Theft Grand Auto

Motor theft insurance claim payouts hit their highest level in seven years at the start of 2019.

Which? Magazine reports that many of the smart new ‘keyless’ cars, some costing many tens of thousands of pounds, can be hacked into in less than a minute.

My car can never be hacked into. Who would want to steal a ten-year-old Citroën Berlingo… diesel?

The key is worth more than the car.

The world is watching… Lekima and Krosa make a pair of spectacles in the West Pacific.

GW: It’s a-blowin’ an’ a soakin’ an’ a bakin’ an’ a shakin’ kinda week.

UK and Ireland: “A large low is deepening over the Atlantic, southwest of the British Isles and Ireland today. It will reach a central pressure around or slightly below 980 mbar as it tracks towards Ireland tomorrow (9 Aug.). It will bring severe to extremely severe winds (and up to 200mm rain) to open seas SW of the British Isles and locally severe winds to parts of the British Isles, Ireland and the coast of the Bay of Biscay. Also expect thunderstorms and locally excessive rainfall.” (Severe-weather.eu) PS – this is not entirely normal for early August.

South-central and eastern Europe will experience another 35-40C heatwave this weekend, according to Severe-weather.eu. But only for four days, after which an unusually cold spell is forecast. Great, as your Gran heads to France later in the week and finds this heat quite enervating. That, or the wine.

West Pacific: “Lekima and Krosa are two typhoons in the western Pacific (Cats 4 and 3 respectively at time of writing) that are expected to bring heavy rain, strong winds and a significant storm surge to the north of Taiwan, eastern China and southern Japan over the next few days.” (BBC) “Impacts will next be felt across Taiwan going into Friday as the typhoon passes northward. Before doing so, Lekima will still have the opportunity to strengthen more.” (Accuweather) Over 150 mm (6 inches) of rain was reported in Guam from Friday through Wednesday evening. Krosa is also expected to intensify.

Reminding you, southern Japan was hit by yet another Typhoon earlier in the week. Cat 1, “Francisco made landfall in southern Japan as a typhoon Tuesday morning local time, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. More than 15 inches of rain soaked the Tokushima Prefecture.” (Wunderground)

No-one seems even slightly fazed by this, but your Gran has never seen anything like it in ‘er life. How often do you get three in three days?

USA: “Severe thunderstorms, a tornado and widespread flooding delivered a jolt up and down the Northeast part of the country on Wednesday. Before cooler, less humid air plunges into the northeastern United States, interior areas will first be threatened by potentially damaging thunderstorms on Thursday.”(Accuweather) “For residents in the southern Plains and Texas who have not had to deal with any spells of extreme heat so far this summer, a ridge of high pressure will position itself over Texas into early next week, allowing the hot air (100F-plus) that has been baking the western United States to spill farther east into the southern Plains. (Oh, and after May-May, June-June, now July-July is still the wettest year in US records (1894).

RIP, El Niño. The NOAA has declared the end of the weak warming event in the Pacific that began last November. They don’t yet know if there’s another one on the way, or if we’re due a new La Niña.

Tunnel approaching…

Going viral: “A fresh case of African Swine Fever (ASF) has been discovered in Slovakia in a village near the Hungarian border. It was found five kilometres from the initial outbreak, which occurred two weeks ago. (Contiguous culling has begun.) Meanwhile, nearly 130,000 pigs have been slaughtered in Bulgaria. Three hundred cases were reported in Romania in July.” (Euronews, 07 August)

The Economist reports that 200 million pigs may have to be culled in China by the year end, as the disease is raging out of control and has 90% lethality. The economics of that are alarming. As yet, no pig-to-human transmission has been found. But you know viruses.

Pigs in space: Another close fly-by is anticipated this weekend. The Blessed Mary Greeley reports: “The asteroid, which is known as 2006 QQ23, measures up to 1,870 feet in diameter, thus making it larger (taller, surely? Ed.) than New York’s Empire State Building. (The asteroid) will make its closest approach to Earth on August 10 at 3:23am EDT.” It’s one of six large objects NASA is tracking, heading toward us. None is expected to hit. This time.

Funny how she trusts NASA on asteroids, but continues to imagine the well-known space agency is seriously proposing to pump water into the magma chamber of Yellowstone to try to cool it down! 11 Grand Canyons’ worth at 1000C, sure.

Shaking all over: As 140mph Typhoon Lekima approaches, a shallow M6.0 earthquake (07 August) rocked northern Taiwan causing widespread minor damage, setting off rockfalls that blocked roads. Several injuries and 1 fatality. A few hours later, southwestern Turkey experienced a shallow (10km) M5.8 (USGS) quake near the city of Denizli (other sources say up to M6.5). Some injuries are reported and buildings collapsed.

Global Warning: “The climate may be more sensitive to increases in greenhouse gases than we realized, according to a new generation of climate models.” It’s “a troubling sign that future warming and related impacts could be even worse than expected.

“One of the new models saw a 35% … rise in global temperature … as the atmosphere adjusts to an instantaneous doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide … of 5.3°C (9.5°F).” (Bob Henson, Wunderground, 9 Aug.)

Even with a faltering El Niño current, “July 2019 global temperature was on a par with, and possibly marginally higher than, that of July 2016 (WMO).” Which was “3.25°C above the pre-industrial temperature of 13.42°C, surpassing the record set before that, in July 2015. (Arctic News)