The Pumpkin – Issue 101: Can you hear the whistle blow?… They’ve all got it infamy… GW: Oh, the weather outside is frightening

QotW….

“… people would rather see their children die than forego the preservation and defense of their culture or religion. In places where climate chaos is already underway, we are seeing a solidification of tribalism and battle lines drawn between communities who have formerly lived together in relative harmony. These pressures are bound to increase.” – Catherine Ingram blogpost: http://www.catherineingram.com/facingextinction/

 

Michael Gove giving a thumbs-up during the British Conservative party leadership campaign

“I’m just going to see if I can get my whole thumb up my nose.”

Michael Gove appears as himself in the new production of The Phantom.

 

Can you hear the whistle blow?

It seems the entire strategy for defending Trump against impeachment charges is to discredit, or maybe murder, the whistleblower.

It seems rather odd, given that every detail of the 9-page allegation, endorsed by both the Inspector General of Intelligence and – more uncomfortably – the Acting Director of National Intelligence, that White House staffers had expressed genuine concern over the President’s mobster-like extortion phone calls to foreign leaders to obtain their connivance in fixing his re-election, in a word treason, and that they sought to bury the evidence in a Top Secret, offline Intelligence server, has been confirmed to be accurate.

And given that the White House itself, under the direction of President Trump, then put out a summary transcript of his call to the newly installed Ukrainian president that confirmed he did indeed seek foreign assistance in direct contravention of the emoluments clause of the Constitution and US Federal election law; his answer to which being, that he never said what he said he’d said, the Democrats were “savages”, the whistleblower was a “traitor”, and that what he had just admitted doing was all a plot to discredit him.

The one possibly exonerating factor being the apparent removal, if such had existed, of any direct link in the conversation between his illegal order to delay sending a Congress-approved $390 million in military aid to the Ukraine, to the benefit of his friend Putin, and his request to President Zelenskiy to do him “a favor, though” in digging for “dirt” on Democratic hopeful, Joe Biden.

(White House apologists are denying he used the word “though”, which would strongly link the threat to the demand. It is there in the transcript, though.)

Mr Putin then to some extent wiped his nose with Donald Trump, letting it be known that he would be displeased if the transcripts of his own phone calls with Trump were to escape the black hole of the intel server.

And, since the President is on public record as opining that there was nothing wrong with soliciting foreign aid and that he would welcome more, from whatever source, despite its illegality, it would seem a bit odd to try to pretend that anyone finding evidence of such a request was lying about it. It might suggest Trump himself was lying about it when he admitted it!

Update: And today (1 Oct.) it’s being reported, Trump also leaned on the Prime Ministers of Australia, Italy and Great Britain in phone calls (subsequently buried) and in sending emissaries Pompeo, Barr and Giuliani to misuse their state resources to find evidence supporting his belief that the Mueller investigation was a “hoax”; and attempting to shift the emphasis from proven Russian interference with the 2016 election to “Ukrainian interference”, a charge so ridiculous as to defy contradiction.

In the meantime, he has also demanded that House Intelligence committee chair, Adam Schiff should be arrested and charged with treason. His crime? Putting on a silly voice briefly mocking Trump while questioning Maguire, the Acting Director of Intelligence.

Trump claims that proves all the charges against him are false and that Schiff has “lied to the American people”, because Trump did not say those things – which he has already admitted he did say.

I know, double-take time.

Why does the Republican party continue to defend this sort of insolent behavior, this clear and indisputable evidence of the insanity of the man in the White House – and of his own treason?

We should understand that this troubling series of events is only one small part of a vast nexus of possibly illegal, covert or damaging actions this president has undertaken since coming to office less than three years ago, a concerted abuse of his powers, which in turn have to be set against the background of extensive criminality alleged against him and his family over the years.

Mr Trump is not an innocent party, or the victim of a “witch hunt”. He is still named as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the case of fraudulent misuse of election expenses against his former lieutenant, Michael Cohen; and in 2017, was found guilty by a New York court of operating the fraudulent scheme known as “Trump University”, a “pay-to-play” scam involving a very expensive, totally underwhelming “course” in Real Estate management, basically a 4-page leaflet, for which he was ordered to pay $25 million in costs and compensation to the victims.

Court records also show at least two prior convictions for tax offences in the 1980s. Although Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel, stopped short of indicting him, handing that responsibility over to the Congress – whose pursuit of the case has since been stymied by Trump’s threats to witnesses, ordering them to defy legal subpoenas, alleging they are covered by some non-existent Executive privilege – he produced a mass of evidence showing Trump had attempted illegally to obstruct justice many times during the inquiry into his acceptance of Russian (and probably Saudi) help in the 2016 election.

Or, as Senator Graham brazenly said on Fox yesterday: “nothing there”.

We are still awaiting, too, the outcome of some 16 separate cases before the Southern District of New York’s District Attorney, alleging bank fraud and money laundering; while serious questions remain over the possibility that Trump suborned US foreign policy to collude with Saudi Barbaria in pressuring Qatar to refinance Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner’s loss-making company; and may thereby have inadvertently assisted through the release of classified documents in the death of Jamal Kashoggi.

Some 3,500 civil suits are pending around the USA, involving the president either as litigator in chief or as defendant. This is not normal presidential behavior, and Trump’s continued, frenzied efforts to transfer blame for his own crimes and misdemeanors onto his opponents don’t make it so.

The inexplicable Lindsey Graham, cherub-faced Republican Senator for South Carolina and chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, who volubly prosecuted the impeachment of Bill Clinton on moral grounds, arguing that he was cleaning out the cesspit that was the Democratic White House, and who is on record as saying previously that Trump was wholly unsuitable to be president, is leading the defense.

He seems to blow hot and cold over the actions of this, the most wayward of US presidents, whose record on morality makes Clinton look like St Francis. Some actions and statements he seems to criticize; others, even worse, he stoutly defends. It’s hard to know where he stands on any issue, but in this case he was overheard on a plane, loudly discussing strategy down the phone with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The whistleblower, he says, is not credible, because the information on which he blew the whistle was “hearsay”, having come at secondhand from anonymous sources. (It now appears that Secretary of State, Pompeo was invited in on the Zelezniy call.)

Verifiably, palpably true, almost certainly illegal, definitely damaging to national security and the interests of the United States, a clear misdemeanor abuse of powers – but “hearsay” and hence, non-evidential. As if the crime and the accusation are two entirely separate matters.

Mr Trump has already attacked those who expressed their concerns to the whistleblower, apparently a member of the intelligence community, as “spies” and “traitors”; adding with a tone of menace that “we used to have different ways, better ways” of dealing with such people. A remark he shrugged off as an example of his curious sense of humor.

It’s not the first time he has suggested executing his political opponents: we recall his thinly veiled red-meat exhortation to the “2nd Amendment people”, i.e. rabid gun fanciers, to assassinate Hillary Clinton. We recall, too, his warning that his supporters were a well-armed militia, he had the police and military in his pocket and they would take necessary action if he did not get his way.

ABC News has amassed a file of 36 instances in which Mr Trump’s aggressive or menacing statements and his apparent support for rightwing extremist elements have been followed shortly afterwards by acts of violence against minorities.

Coincidentally I’m sure, here in the UK Prime Minister Johnson is also being accused of threatening to unleash mob violence unless he gets what he wants over the Brexit deal. Were that to happen, it’s being rumored that he would consider locking the country down under the Emergency Powers Act. He’s dismissed the suggestion as fanciful.

He created a furore last week when he appeared to minimize the significance of the murder of a Labour politician in 2016; and had to defend himself against a barrage of criticism over his use of bellicose language, which he initially did by doubling-down on it, calling his critics “traitors” and labelling Opposition moves to force him to make a deal as “surrender” to the EU.

He has also uttered words of defiance against the Supreme Court, that judged his shutdown of Parliament illegal, claiming the 11 senior law lords were legally “wrong”; and encouraged a new campaign of vitriol against the judges in the hard Brexit-supporting rightwing media.

Johnson, who recently deserted his wife of 24 years while she was undergoing radical treatment for ovarian cancer*, and has taken up with a vivacious party worker twenty-some years younger, who he has (in my rather elderly view, scandalously) moved into the upstairs apartments at 10, Downing Street, further demeaning his office, is also increasingly embroiled in his own scandal involving payments from public funds and favors (and “regular visits”) to a blonde former model, implying possible abuses of office and conflict of interest when Mayor of London. (He has since said she was “too boring” to have an affair with! You can tell, he’s a real toff.)

I wasn’t aware that Trump had published a playbook, “Popular Fascism for Dummies”. Perhaps they’ve both been reading Mein Kampf together. Advised by malevolent, shadowy rogues, both men having previously been metropolitan liberals have committed themselves similarly to the path of popular anarchy in the (hopefully mistaken) belief that the best and the quickest road to absolute power is through the brutish “will of the people”, regardless of who gets hurt.

They need to be stopped.

*I’m slightly surprised not to have seen any of the Guardian‘s usually strident feminist columnists mentioning that ovarian cancer is known to be caused, among other things, by the sexually transmissible Human Papilloma virus, which is carried by men.

Addendum

As it happens, the whole sordid Ukraine affair may have been entirely unnecessary. Mr Biden’s poll numbers are fast slipping behind those of the didactic Senator from Massachusetts and former Harvard lawschool perfesser, Elizabeth Warren.

Bullish and shifty: Boris Johnson on The Andrew Marr Show.

“With this thumb, Mr Marr, and a well-filled nostril, I can remove £350 million worth of snot a week. And if not, I will declare bogey law.”

 

They’ve all got it infamy

“Look at me, Ma, I’m flying!”

Added to the catalog of Trump’s psychological problems, paranoia is a word increasingly heard on liberal media as his ongoing tweetstorm in response to the announcement of Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry reaches new levels of, frankly, foaming insanity.

He is demanding to meet the whistleblower in person, who is reportedly in hiding under federal protection as Trump’s hardier dumbfucks have been posting death threats and have offered a $50 thousand reward for a name and address. It is his “right” as a freeborn American to meet his accuser! Yes, in court, possibly.

Whistleblowers in government are in theory protected by the law, and this one went through all the appropriate official channels. Trump wants him dead.

Trump has quoted a Fox news contributor who suggested that impeachment of the President would result in a “civil war-like fracture” in the nation “that will never be healed”, Trump adding that he would NEVER be removed from office.

This is not the first time he has covertly incited his followers to violence, and already far-right groups are calling for an armed insurrection.

The whistleblower’s report has been fully corroborated, in part by the “memo” that came from the White House under Trump’s own orders, in which he is clearly seen to have illegally demanded dirt on the Bidens as a quid pro quo for arms exports to Ukraine.

Trump is now lying that the whistleblower and his treasonous staffers have made it all up, what he said, and they are part of a Democrat-controlled Deep State conspiracy to overthrow him. He continues to double-down on his belief that Joe Biden and his son acted corruptly, without a shred of evidence. Indeed, the prosecutor at the center of the Ukraine case has said they broke no laws.

(Will Trump have anything to say about Republican Representative, Chris Collins, “the first member of the House to back Donald Trump for president”, who has just resigned his seat ahead of a court hearing into corruption charges to which he is pleading guilty? “Collins was indicted in August 2018, accused of using inside information about a biotechnology company to help his son make illicit stock trades”. – CBS News)

Trump has made other, thinly veiled threats to have the whistleblower and their informants murdered, a threat he has now extended to Democratic Congressmen Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler and Elijah Cummings, the committee chairmen investigating him, who he has described as “savages” and “traitors”.

And he has sent out a very small platoon of his closest remaining advisors to lie repeatedly to the media about what is there in black and white for all to read – not that his Republican party apologists have read it, on their own admission – on his own transcript, so clearly that even Fox News interviewers are unable to spin this and are now being included in his wider conspiracy theory.

The ending of the film, The Third Man, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, seems peculiarly prophetic, as the cynical American black-marketeer Harry Lime (Orson Welles) gets his just desserts after a desperate attempt to escape justice through the reeking sewers of ruined, postwar Vienna.

As he dodges this way and that, his every exit blocked, the sociopathic racketeer previously so self-admiringly full of his own importance increasingly resembles a cornered rat.

Or perhaps we recall smalltime gangster James Cagney in Little Caesar, trapped by the Feds atop the water tower, with no way out but down: “Look at me, Ma, I’m flying!”

 

How are the mighty mighty

It’s time we stood up against these triumphal “progresses” by US Presidents and their absurdly huge entourages.

Why should these overmighty satraps, elected for a brief space, be allowed to swan about the world, demanding obeisance wherever they go?

Seriously, who the fuck do they think they are? Could a US president not occasionally express a little humility, or show some sympathetic good manners towards their hosts, instead of riding roughshod over every other political leader on the planet?

Details have emerged, concerning a two-day visit to Ireland for a meeting with PM, Leo Varadkar, of Trump – the most egregiously boastful, pompous and expensive of all American presidents.

Ireland is a relatively small country, that has had economic problems in the past but is now, we trust, over the hump.

Why, therefore, were they forced to detail over three thousand, two hundred police working overtime to guard the presidential panoply at a cost of €7.5 million? What did they imagine was going to happen to him, that we don’t all devoutly wish for?

Why couldn’t he have stayed at an official residence in Dublin, say the US embassy, instead of patronising his own business over 100 miles away… er, right, no need to answer that.

Because why did Trump’s tacky golf resort at Doonbeg (Room: €220 a night), where he stayed, send the Irish government a bill for €113,000 just for feeding his own security entourage for two nights? Money, the profit margin of which ends up in Trump’s pocket?

This is disgusting.

Even when travelling about the USA, mostly to his own leisure resorts, Trump incurs huge costs, that are passed on to the taxpayer or to the local authorities, whose pleas for reimbursement are not being met.

It’s alleged that the cumulative total cost of Trump’s golf habit alone is approaching $150 million. And we note that a goodly proportion of that comes back to him in the form of profits from serving Cockroach Surprise in the restaurant, renting rooms and other essential facilities, such as golf carts.

If American presidents wish to swan around the world, swanking and showing off how hubristically powerful they are, let the bloated parasites pay their own goddam bills.

Fore!

Dominic Cummings.

Homelessness is on the increase under the Conservatives. After pawning his gilet, Ramblin’ Dom Cummings goes to visit his friend Bannon to see if his sofa is free.

 

GW: Oh, the weather outside is frightening

British Isles: “In a remarkable burst of rapid intensification,” Wunderground reports, “Hurricane Lorenzo vaulted to Category 5 status late Saturday, becoming the Atlantic’s second Cat 5 storm of the year, the strongest hurricane ever observed so far east in the Atlantic, and one of the northernmost Cat 5s on record. As of 11 pm EDT Saturday (28 Sept.), Lorenzo was packing top sustained winds of 160 mph. Lorenzo’s sudden strengthening took even veteran hurricane forecasters by surprise.”

As to where this enormous brute of a storm is headed, buckle up, chaps….

Probability of sustained winds of tropical-storm strength (39 mph) along the track of Lorenzo as predicted at 0Z Sunday, September 29, 2019

And Thursday, 3 October just happens to be your Old Granny’s 70th birthday! What a treat.

Seriously, no weather forecaster expects Lorenzo to arrive at hurricane strength but it will add to days of gusty winds and, in places, heavy rain that has left surface flooding covering many parts of the country and rivers like the Wye at flood stage. The first snow of winter is forecast for the Scottish highlands later this week.

Postscriptum: Promised “two weeks of rain will fall in one hour” today, with 78 amber flood warnings, I throw a coat on over my T-shirt and take Hunzi for a precautionary stroll past the sewage works. After 20 minutes of blazing October sunshine it is 20.5C and I am perspiring heavily. The mercury hits 22.2C by 13.00 before dropping 5C in 2 hrs. as a little rain arrives. Happy days.

Europe: Letters from researchers in Geophysical Research assert that so-called “cold” days in European winters, the coldest days are on average 3C warmer than 70 years ago.

USA: North of the looping jetstream, another of those wayward Arctic plumes has descended across Canada, the Rockies and the northern states of the USA. At the time of writing snow depths in northern Montana were up to 2 feet, but another 2 feet is expected as the weekend wears on, spreading to lower elevations, with 60 mph whiteout gales – a historically life-threatening storm for September, according to Accuweather. Roads are freezing faster than they can be gritted, and there are reports of power outages and downed trees.

Meanwhile: The unseasonal heatwave affecting southeastern states is moving northward, and will bring temperatures in the mid-90sF, mid-30sC to New York – a <20F anomaly – this week.

India: “Unusually late monsoon rainfall has caused severe flooding in northern India, where over 120 people have died in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Meanwhile officials have confirmed that the death toll of last week’s flood disaster in Pune, Maharashtra, now stands at 21, with a further 5 people still missing.” (Floodlist) The Guardian reported, 27 Sept., that the monsoon season has overrun by a month, causing crops to rot in the ground and food prices to rise.

Japan: Yet another typhoon “may approach western Japan from Wednesday to Thursday, the Meteorological Agency said Sunday. Typhoon Mitag, the season’s 18th, is expected to gather strength Monday and move close to Okinawa Prefecture, the agency said, warning of possible strong winds and rough seas.” (Japan Today)

Turkey: “Heavy rains hit the northeast of the country on 28 September, causing flooding and landslides. Buildings were damaged and several roads closed after landslides and streams overflowed. 13 people trapped in buildings by floodwater were rescued.” (Floodlist)

Tunnel approaching…

Overpopulation: The leader of a popular Japanese minority party whose central policy is to close down NHK, the national broadcaster, has called for genocide to reduce the world’s population of “idiots who breed like dogs”.  Mr Takashi Tachibana suggests that discrimination and bullying are forms of divine providence. “Isn’t it good for things to be natural? The natural order God created. People killing each other is part of God’s system, too,” he says. (Japan Times) At the last election, Mr Tachibana got close to a million votes.

Divine intervention: The default for politicians preparing to do pretty much nothing to help people avoid approaching natural disasters is to offer their “thoughts and prayers”. A new US study conducted in the wake of Hurricane Florence found that while Christian participants were willing to part with money to receive thoughts and prayers from others, atheists were more willing to pay to avoid them. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, cited in The Guardian, 16 Sept.)

Moving ahead: Michael Mobbs, a former environmental lawyer who converted his Sydney, Australia terraced house into the country’s first self-sufficient, off-grid city eco-home, is selling up and moving to a remote coastal community. He fears the city is not best placed to survive the complete climate-change-induced socio-economic breakdown he foresees within the next 3 to 5 years. (Guardian Australia)

A very uncivil war… The Diversion bell… Uphill, down Dale… Down with the count… GW: it’s all going swimmingly. Plus: Essay, The march of the anti-Vaxxers: an open letter to a Representative from Maine.

 

 

QotW

“The drab truth of tyranny is a life spent in waiting. But the perennial romance of tyranny comes from its promising its subjects a life more interesting than any they can contrive for themselves.”

– John Gray.

 

Boris Johnson addressing parliament

“By the sacred finger of IDS, I flick my superior bogeys at you, women of humbug.”

A very uncivil war

“Even after you cut off the head, the chicken still runs around the yard.”

Trump mini-me, Johnson raced back from the UN on Tuesday (24 Sept.) to confront Parliament, recalled by the Speaker after the Supreme Court ruling that the unelected Prime Minister with a magnificent Commons majority of minus 44 MPs had lied to the Queen to get her to shut down Parliament for five weeks while he pretended to negotiate a new exit deal with the EU; although their deadline for him to present new terms, including a replacement for the Irish border “backstop”, had expired days earlier with no positive proposals from Whitehall.

It was some confrontation, and it’s still ongoing.

Against a background of scandal – the house is investigating £120,000 in public-money grants and foreign official trips he appears to have given to a busty blonde American ex-model turned smalltime internet entrepreneur, Ms Jennifer Arcuri, whose London flat he was seen leaving a number of times while he was Mayor – Johnson caused a furore when he said the Supreme Court was “wrong” on the points of law, seeming to back rightwing newspaper (and Farageist) slurs of “treason” and anti-Brexit bias against the 11 senior law lords and ladies on the bench. A familiar story.

The BogPo should have thought the judges would be well within their powers to summon Johnson to court to explain his disgraceful remarks, and possibly put him in gaol for a couple of weeks to expiate his contempt.

He then drew gasps from the assembled MPs when he appeared to traduce the late, passionately pro-Remain Labour MP, Jo Cox, who was shot and hacked to death by a white nationalist in 2016, saying the best way to honor her memory was to leave the EU.

He told women Labour MPs they were talking “humbug” when they said they were receiving regular rape and death threats as a result of his and other Brexiteers’ violent rhetoric, a verbal assault which drew cheers from the wife-beating Brexit faction on the benches behind.

Not long afterwards a 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of throwing a brick at the window of the constituency office of Labour MP, Jess Phillips.

Johnson described opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn as a “coward” and a “chicken” (normally more than enough to get an MP barred from the chamber) and despite objections, continually called a vote he lost by a wide margin two weeks ago on a bill making it illegal to leave the EU without a deal, the “surrender” bill, setting the goal of a no-deal Brexit in terms of a war against the 27 remaining member countries of the EU.

(He frequently makes allusions to how Britain “stood alone” and eventually “won” the Second World War, “saving Europe” – whose people should be more grateful – knowing perfectly well that that is a mindless piece of historical revisionism that plays well with the elderly dumbfucks of Farage’s extreme pro-Leave community, who would love us to do it all over again with Boris playing Winston, because they only just missed out the last time and it sounds fun. Except it wasn’t.)

Meanwhile, officials have been frantically assuring us that Mayor Johnson never gave any grants to Ms Arcuri, although the office of the Mayor does appear to have donated £15 thousand directly to her little business. Perhaps his best defence would be to admit that he’s been a bit of a chump? Everyone forgives Boris, he’s so disarming. Like a little boy, really.

Despite, or perhaps because of, his wrecking-ball, cynical, abusive, adulterous, tyrannical, atrociously rude behavior, and a verdict delivered from the highest court in the land that he is a lawbreaker and a Royal liar; a verdict to which he has responded with open contempt and threats to ignore it, triggering a constitutional meltdown, Johnson still has a healthy percentage lead among the dumbfucks in the opinion polls.

We await his imminent arrest, trial and conviction with bated breath.

As with US President Trump, what to do with his millions of frothing, deluded supporters, who cannot tell the difference between the world they see on TV or on their little screens and reality; who are bored and fractious and poorly educated; easily distracted by bogus patriotic nostrums, and who don’t care what criminal capers the leader gets up to as long as he’s entertaining them and hates foreigners enough, is another question.

Even after you cut off the head, the chicken still runs around the yard.

Postscriptum

Oh, and two minutes later I see he’s just lost another vote and won’t be allowed to suspend business again during the Tory party conference next week. He might be delighted by that, as it moves us a step closer to the election the opposition won’t grant him. Given that he can’t govern, and the opposition refuses to move a vote of no-confidence so as to keep him twisting in the wind, he surely has to resign and trigger an election he knows he can’t lose.

Can you believe a word he says? corner….

“The firm’s collapse came after Johnson told parliament his government would do everything it could to help Wrightbus. However, a government source strenuously denied any such assurances had been given.” (Observer)

Following the collapse of Rightbus with the loss of more than a thousand jobs that Northern Ireland can scarcely afford to lose, it emerges that one of the Wright family directors had been donating £millions of company money to his evangelical church.

Boris Johnson speaking in parliament.

“Gentlemen, I give you a finger. It is a finger in search of a well-filled nostril…”

The Diversion bell

“Alpha-males are rarely the answer!”

(This article was constructed yesterday, before the latest revelations concerning Ms Arcuri’s companies, all of which appear to owe large sums of money or have been wound up. Ms Arcuri herself is being chased for $100 thousand in unpaid student loans, yet she appears to have “lent” $1m to her company in recent accounts. I don’t think that takes much away from the sentence that follows.)

Has Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Alexander “Boris” dePfeffel, dePfaffle Johnson been the victim of a classic honeytrap scam?

He is currently being referred to the Police watchdog over a possible “conflict of interest” situation that may have arisen when he was Mayor of London. Following revelations in Murdoch’s Sunday Times, the Guardian reports:

“Johnson has been formally referred for potential investigation into whether he committed the criminal offence of misconduct in public office, over allegations about a conflict of interest with a US businesswoman while he was mayor of London.”

The phrasing makes the affair sound quite innocuous, commonplace almost. Conflicts of interest between public officials and businesspeople arise all the time. They may be serious, they may be incidental. The Mayor’s office probably has bigger things to do, like buying buses, than deal with minor grant applications for business start-ups.

The egregious nature of the case as reported however arises, in the view of the BogPo, from the many understated circumstantial details to be found between the lines.

The “businesswoman” in question was reportedly an MBA student who had started up a rather vague-sounding internet service, Innotech, that spawned other obscure company registrations. I’m not sure I understand what it really did, I’m sure Mr Johnson probably didn’t, but it was to do with putting one lot of people in touch with another lot.

Not the most original of business plans, seemingly. I ought perhaps to confess that I got a little carried away myself when submitting an internet-based project to my tutors while on an IT course a few years ago, and ended up having to explain widely that no, it wasn’t a real business….

The MBA student has been described as a “former model”, and the former model was, or rather is, what those terrible sexists in the popular press might describe as “busty, blonde, 23-year-old Jennifer Arcuri”. (I am guessing her age at the time.)

Other details leap out at you. In order to qualify for a £100,000 government cybertech development grant, half of which has now been witheld pending enquiries, Ms Arcuri, an American, needed to have a Tier One British residency visa, which she didn’t. They’re rather expensive and hard to get. Except that some time after meeting Johnson at a techfest, she did. Any connection has been strenuously denied.

Her subsidiary company, provocatively named Hacker House, also needed to be registered in Britain, which it was, only there’s no sign of it. It was registered to her rented flat, which she vacated last year. She’s no longer in the country. Mayor Johnson is said to have been a “regular visitor” to the flat in East London, for what purpose he declines to say.

Another qualification, the business needed to employ British staff and to train British apprentices. Ms Arcuri was listed as an employee, also her American “husband”, there were three other names but thus far none seemingly has checked out.

Journalists on The Guardian telephoned the number registered at Companies House and were put through to a number in Florida (the Guardian is now referring to yet another number in California) , where a “receptionist” – not improbably Ms Arcuri herself, or her mom – was unable to confirm an address.

Madame Arcuri seems to have been adept at making contacts on a higher plane. It was when yesterday’s Guardian update on the story mentioned the name of UK “business ambassador”, Prince Andrew, with whom she had apparently embarked on some other sort of business liaison, that the fire bell in your Uncle Bogler’s conspiracy-minded old brain began clanging insistently.

Has anybody checked to see if this lady has any prior connection, spiritual or otherwise, with the “late financier”, Jeffrey Epstein?

To enlarge upon the notion of conspiracy, I would mention Mr Trump’s known habit of collecting “dirt” to use against his political and business rivals, or on people of potential advantage; and speculate on what may eventually come out, that his former cohort Epstein, pimp and abuser of vulnerable young girls, was blackmailing his wealthy and influential clients.

As Gilbert and Sullivan wrote – “I’ve got a little list”.

The Russians call it “kompromat” – compromising material, in the form of video, photographs or letters. Was Epstein feeding Trump helpful “kompromat” on his clients?

But I’m positive there are no such connections.

I feel sure however that MI5 will be looking closely at the case, as the security implications are fairly alarming. There is a possibility, is there gnotte, that our Prime Minister, a man about whom it has been said that he finds some difficulty keeping it in his pants, may have been the victim of a classic honeytrap scam – Florida being basically known for three things: retirement homes, alligators and swampy goings-on.

Where oranges, someone wrote, are not the only fruit.

In which case there must be some concern about the possibility of the existence of kompromat, collected on the prominent Mayor of London, a useful idiot, on a just-in-case basis. But now he is Prime Minister, the keeper of the nation’s secrets, the man with his pudgy forefinger on the nuclear button.

The hope will be that we are still friends with the CIA and that any such material can be swiftly recovered.

Oh, Tory party! You keep doing this! From Profumo, through Lord Lambton, Cecil Parkinson and David Mellor, your sense of entitled inviolability so frequently lets you down. If the stench of sleaze, the “faint aroma of performing seals” is rising once again in the land, you have only yourselves to blame.

Alpha-males are rarely the answer!

Postscriptum:

Responding to the allegations using Trump’s favorite flavor of smokescreen, “it’s all a plot against me!”, a Government source said: “The public and media will rightly see through such a nakedly political put-up job.”

Clearly, in Conference season Downing Street is not without a seaside postcard sense of humor.

Ed Note: a number of the details in this piece have since changed or been clarified. I’m too tired to rewrite it, but essentially Ms Arcuri’s lawyer has auctioned the rights to the Daily Mirror, who interviewed her in a car park in Fresno or somewhere, and she says Johnson never had sex with her, she only gave him technology lessons, and there’s no kompromat. Hope that clears everything up.

Thunberg and Trudeau meet in Montreal on Friday.

“Sorry, Mr Trudeau, I didn’t recognize you without your make-up on…”

Uphill, down Dale

The shambling albino bear-man, Johnson has, as reported, casually dismissed fears of violent retribution against female MPs supporting either revocation of Article 50, or a “soft Brexit” – i.e. one that keeps Northern Ireland in the European Customs Union for another two years while a solution is found to the Irish border question.

I count 10 DUP “angels” dancing on the head of that particular pin.

Mr Johnson’s aggressive language, his constant use of inflammatory imagery from the Second World War, his blatant xenophobia, misogyny and phoney patriotic cliches are widely criticized as being – less strong-willed, than ill-bred. They are all transparently a ruse to de-fang the Farage “Brexit Party” (which isn’t a party, it’s his private company), but he says he regards any suggestion that it might have an actual effect on his deluded dumbfuck supporters as “humbug”.

Oh, really? So there’s no connection at all between the Prime Minister’s bellicose rhetoric, the screaming, hate-filled headlines in the populist press, the breakdown of democratic institutions and the rule of law under assault from the alt-right, and real life?

“Jolyon Maugham QC has revealed that his local police and crime commissioner was sufficiently concerned by recent threats against his life that he was advised to buy a stab vest” … and hire a bodyguard when attending public events. (Guardian)

Other, seemingly quite serious security precautions are being taken by the police to protect the human rights lawyer and his family, who is one of three litigants prosecuting the case in Scotland – the first leg of which they won, thus triggering the Supreme Court review – against Johnson’s illegal prorogation of Parliament. He has even spoken of having to leave the country if he wins the next stage of the case.

There are clearly some very real, scary people out there, who the police think may be capable of taking things beyond mere threats and bluster. Beyond, even, the increasingly dreary and repetitive arguments of the Brexit debate. The question surely is, who is behind them?

At this point I need to make an apology. Referred to in the story is another of the litigants, Mr Dale Vince, “millionaire CEO” of a green energy supply company called Ecotricity. Mr Vince is a leading Remainer, I understand, who is reportedly funding a team to monitor threats against Mr Maugham on the internet.

Many years ago, wouahouhouwaah, eerie flashback music….

In 1992 Dale Vince was a small-scale entrepreneur and lobbyist, pushing hard to erect a prominent windfarm in poshest Gloucestershire, where I had my PR agency. It was a project from which he might have profited. The local media and public were ranged against him.

We were a new startup, with only £5 thousand liquid capital, specializing in supporting small green enterprises, environmental groups and NGOs, working to help them professionalize their communications, which were (and are still) generally woeful. Small as we were, we had years of individual experience between us in bigger media companies.

As someone who had been following the ecology movement since the mid-’70s, I’d devised an ethical charter on which we operated under conditions of full accounting transparency, in order to shake off the general impression among those client groups that the advertising industry was just a bunch of overpaid liars, sharks and charlatans.

Which it pretty much was, as I knew after seven years working in it. Except for the overpaid bit.

And, impressively as I thought, we also shared our office space (at my invitation) with the country’s leading environmental campaigner, Jonathon Porritt, and his little team of helpers.

Asked to pitch for writing and designing a leaflet for his renewable energy campaign, I quoted Vince a derisory amount – £150 – just as a token fee, for what would have been a full day’s work for two creative people and more hours for our print-buyer. Beyond that first small brief, I was eager to propose a longer-term working relationship.

After we had driven 15 miles to his office and spent an hour discussing his needs, all on my and my MD’s time, he sneeringly dismissed us as being, basically, rapacious capitalist lackeys, and rejected the offer as being too absurdly expensive.

I have said bad things about him at any opportunity ever since, as I regarded him as being a hypocrite, a bully, a timewaster and an all-round slimeball. Worse, now he’s also a millionaire.

So no, sorry, Dale. I haven’t changed my opinion, but I’ll keep quiet about it from now on, okay?

Take one for the team.

Take 2…

A second apology is due to Mr Arron Banks, the self-promoted millionaire, frequent visitor to the Russian embassy in London, possibly Britain’s Ugliest Man, and the money behind Nigel Farage, his £1.2 million house and the unofficial Leave.EU party.

We were obviously wrong about him and would like to be sorry.

The National Crime Agency, I think it is, has declared there is “insufficient evidence” of criminality, apart from the extensive evidence with which they were presented, obviously, to warrant further investigation into his sources of funding.

As Mr Trump, he kno’, “insufficient evidence” to prosecute a successful case is not the same as total exoneration. Saying won’t make it so, so this apology is, at this stage, a little tentative. But hey, in the interests of national unity, etc.

In a previous statement, the forces of law and order had admitted, their investigation of Mr Banks, who has extensive obscure offshore holdings and apparently unproductive mining interests in South Africa, in addition to his loss-making Gibraltar-based insurance businesses, and frequent dealings with Russians (he has a Russian wife) yet who somehow funnelled £7 million to Leave.EU out of feelings of pure patriotism towards Britain, had been delayed for over nine months, since it was “too political” to start work.

Your Uncle Bogler therefore trusts there will be no ill-feeling, in the light of previous Posts, which were based on exhaustive private investigations by the indefatigable journalists at Open Democracy dot Org, and Ms Carole Cadwaladr of The Guardian group.

Although I still feel ill, to be honest.

 

The Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard receives a threat from Command to hive the oldest members off to the Civil Defence corps:

Captain Mainwaring: “I have to tell you, Wilson, that I too have taken steps to look more virile…”

Sergeant Wilson: “Oh my God, it’s not monkey glands, is it?”

– Dad’s Army.

 

Down for the count

I’ve just this minute had through the post, as I imagine have millions of other householders, an official government form that I’m being requested to complete and return.

Extending to 32 pages of densely packed questions about myself, where and in what condition I live, it purports to be, not exactly a census, but a “census rehearsal”.

The next official census, taken every ten years, is not due until September 2021.

But this form is the census! It’s the actual script! The same questions! There is no difference! And we are not, so far as I know, legally obliged under the 1801 Censuses Act, whatever, I shall have to Google it all shortly, to complete the national census, wasting hours of our time, in 2019.

The government is currently in a state of dangerous disarray and showing all the signs of administrative incompetence and bitterly divisive rancour one would anticipate shortly leading to total socio-economic breakdown. Incipient public disorder portends the imposition of what, for want of another term, one can only describe as a quasi-fascist regime under Mr Farage; one of über-nationalistic authoritarianism and suppression of liberal dissent.

This new, as-yet unborn government will, should we complete the form, be in full possession of a vast amount of my personal data with which to oppress me at its leisure.

As it does not seem to carry any legal penalty, I do not need to rehearse carrying out my solemn and onerous duty to provide the enemy State with intrusive details of my life, thank you. I’m quite prepared for when the actual performance comes.

I think I should write to them and say so.

 

GW: it’s all going swimmingly

India: At least 12 people have been killed and several are missing after heavy rain and flash floods in the district of Pune in Maharashtra state, on 25 Sept. 5 people died when a wall collapsed. Around 150 homes were also damaged. 5 other victims died when buildings were washed away by flood waters in Shivapur. Schools and colleges in Pune district have been closed. Of major concern are low-lying areas following a controlled release of water from the Nazare dam on the Karha river. 15 thousand people have been evacuated as a precaution. (Floodlist)

USA: “Parts of the Northwest and southern Canada are bracing (27 Sept.) for a potentially ‘historic’ storm that will unleash heavy snow, fierce winds and record cold — meteorologists say the timing of this storm will add to the dangers” (people aren’t prepared for winter yet). “Hazardous travel conditions and power outages will result as blizzard conditions will unfold in some areas”, with up to 3 feet of snow a possibility. “As the storm evolves, temperatures may plummet 50 deg. F. (25C) or more in some locations.” (Accuweather)

Meanwhile: “Millions of Americans across the Southeast will face record-challenging temperatures into early October as an area of high pressure remains anchored over the region” (Accuweather). Atlanta last week hit a high of 95F, 35C – 18F above average and breaking a 1950 record. “Augusta and Savannah, Georgia, both topped 97F while Columbia, South Carolina, had the high for the day at 99F, topping the previous record set in 1984.”

Record rainfall and flooding plagued Nevada and the Southwest all week, while Wisconsiners recorded a 150mph, EF-3 tornado. Three injuries were reported.

Caribbean: Tropical Storm Karen refuses to lie down. After dumping heavy rain over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, it’s expected to hook a left and head for the east coast USA, or perhaps Cuba first, maybe as a low-end hurricane depending on wind shear which, if strong enough, could finally rip it to pieces.

“Hurricane Lorenzo, currently spinning over the central Atlantic, first became a hurricane on Wednesday, but by Thursday afternoon, it had rapidly intensified into a major Cat 4. On Thursday evening, Lorenzo was packing maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, but meteorologists believe it could continue to strengthen and eventually become a Cat 5 storm with winds exceeding 157 mph. If Lorenzo achieves Cat 5 status, it would be the farthest east that a Cat 5 hurricane has ever been observed in the Atlantic Ocean.” (AccuWeather) “After passing the Azores, Lorenzo will then track toward Europe as a weakening TS and could impact areas like the British Isles.”

Tunnel approaching….

UN: “Earth is in dire straits, and rising sea levels will cause ‘sweeping and severe’ consequences for humans, an expert United Nations climate panel (has) warned. … sea levels are rising at an ever-faster rate as ice and snow shrink. Oceans are getting more acidic and losing oxygen (up to 3% now…).

“The agency warned that if steps aren’t taken to reduce emissions and slow global warming, seas will rise 3 feet by the end of the century, with many fewer fish, less snow and ice, stronger and wetter hurricanes and other, nastier weather systems.” (Reporting: The Weather Channel)

Scientists on the panel were at pains to point out that UN IPCC panellists are directed to be conservative and things are probably twice as bad as they say.

What the media is not mentioning while it is fixated on the avoidable consequences of sea-level rise is the part of the report where, according to the team at Arctic News: “there is 1,460 to 1,600 Gt of carbon present in the” (permafrost – plus a possible 2,200 Gt more on and under the seabed, just in the shallow East Siberian shelf alone) … The IPCC report projects permafrost (top 3–4 m) to decrease in area by up to 89% by 2100 under a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5), leading to cumulative release of tens to hundreds of billions of tons of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere by 2100.” … “The report fails to warn that, as the Arctic Ocean keeps heating up, huge seafloor methane eruptions could (also) be triggered (Shakhova, et al.).”

In other words, cackles yer Old Gran, as this is based on a current linear warming trajectory that is already being disrupted by nonlinear feedbacks – it’s curtains.

Plague: Deaths are being reported in the USA from mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which has a more-than 30% mortality rate. There’ve been a dozen cases in Massachusetts, while “in hard-hit Michigan, they’re warning people in high-risk areas not to go outside after dusk and before dawn.” (Accuweather) Officials are praying for a cold winter.

Terra trema: There’ve been some fairly severe earthquakes in the past few days. At least 25 people were killed by a M5.8 in northern Pakistan; 100 injured in Albania’s worst quake for 30 years, also at M5.8, and worried people took to the streets in Istanbul after a third M5.8 rocked northern Turkey, damaging buildings. A M6.0 hit off the coast of Puerto Rico at the height of Tropical Storm Karen, followed by a M4.9 that damaged buildings on land and more aftershocks. There was also a M6.0 off the coast of New Zealand.

Your money: “Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing (has) said central banks like the European Central Bank and US Federal Reserve ‘have used their tools to a large extent already’ to avoid global economic risks. He said they have ‘no conventional measures left to effectively cushion’ the hit of a ‘real economic crisis’.” (Express) He was speaking as the latest German numbers showed the European powerhouse led by the car industry sliding into recession. (NB – The Express is a virulent anti-EU fascist snotrag, however this does look genuinely a bit bad.)

Former Bank of England monetary policy committee member, David Blanchflower is accusing the Bank of “fiddling while Rome burns”, and says the UK economy is probably already in recession as the figures have a long lag time, while all the indicators are looking very much like 2008.

Heat the rich: 1% of English residents are responsible for 19% of all UK flights abroad. The 10% most frequent flyers took 52% of international flights in 2018. The aviation sector accounted for about 7% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. (Guardian)

Hope springs: “People who have an upbeat outlook on life have a lower risk of cardiovascular conditions and premature death”, says a new report (Guardian Science)

x

Long essay:

The march of the anti-Vaxxers: an open letter to a Representative from Maine

Rep. Heidi Sampson

House of Representatives

Washington DC

Dear Ms Sampson

I saw you interviewed tonight on a BBC documentary about the anti-Vaxxer movement in your country.

I have rarely heard such a malicious and tendentious tirade before. Well, I probably have, as I follow American politics, and I’ve also watched Adolf Hitler’s speeches. But you know what I mean. You disgracefully constructed a doctrinaire, ultra-conservative political platform from an avoidable threat to your nation’s children.

You are, of course, entitled to your uninformed medical superstitions.

Sixty million of you, after all, were easily persuaded in 2016 to vote-in as President, a superannuated playboy and ex-TV reality show host with no political, economic or diplomatic experience: a malign and vindictive solipsist – an uneducated, emotionally retarded, bullying sociopath with a history of serial bankruptcies, bank defaults, business failures, compulsive lying, gross sexual misconduct, grift, blackmail, tax fraud, money laundering and dealings with organized criminals at home and abroad.

All of that was known or strongly suspected beforehand, even to us in Europe. Your own intelligence community warned you against this fateful step, yet you still supported him. Now he stands accused of treason against your country and covering up crimes – yet your party still supports him.

Why then would I imagine you could possibly, on any day of the week, not regurgitate a ludicrous conspiracy theory promoted by someone like Alex Jones of InfoWars; like you, a leading medical specialist in epidemiology, and also someone clearly in want of secure psychiatric care, about vaccines?

It’s a truly bizarre phenomenon, human nature.

Ten thousand competent, practising medical doctors with years of training and experience will tell you one thing. One discredited, disbarred and thoroughly dishonest British practitioner, a known charlatan promoting a bogus scientific theory for financial gain on a worldwide publicity tour, a desperate individual whose reputation is thoroughly sullied, career self-destroyed, hopelessly pursuing a dangerous fallacy that has been thoroughly investigated and statistically disproven, will appear on a notorious conspiracy-theorist’s website to tell you another.

Who do you choose to believe? Don’t tell me! It’s such a romantic story, that poor Dr Wakefield. So wickedly, unfairly persecuted by evil scientists!

But they contain aluminum! No, Heidi, vaccines contain a harmless salt, aluminum hydroxide. Not the metallic aluminum, many millions of atoms of which you consume daily from your own cookware. And formaldehyde! They embalm corpses! You, Heidi, manufacture formaldehyde naturally in your own gut, from the digestive process. It comes and goes. In vaccines, it’s a necessary preservative.

My God, Heidi, do you ever look at the lists of ingredients on the packs of food in your supermarket? What you’re eating is lingering death, to put it kindly – dozens of known carcinogens like nitrates (preservative); aspartame; butane; propyl gallate. Tests show your fresh food is rich in chlorpyrifos, a commonly used agricultural pesticide your government has just re-licensed, after the President received a million dollar donation from the makers, Dow. A chemical banned everywhere else and proven to damage the brains of unborn children.

But you still force yourselves to eat it. Pro-Life? Anti-vaccine? Please, Heidi, do try.

It’s frankly astonishing; although to me, it’s equally astonishing that so many Americans believe Jesus is going to rapture them up to Heaven at any moment, or that a clump of insentient and possibly malformed cells is a human being, worthy of more respect than a born child who might die without vaccination. Are you all on some wonder drug I haven’t heard of? I’m not sure Fentanyl quite does it.

Surely, your cult of rugged individualism must clash with the obvious need for more altruistic communal responsibility? As vaccine uptakes fall, it’s other people’s kids that are going to bear the brunt of your individual selfishness. And where do you stand on lead pollution in drinking water?

I’m 70 years of age, Ms Sampson. During my childhood years I so enjoyed being made sick and missing school for weeks by the common viruses and bacilli of Measles, German Measles, Pertussis, Chickenpox and Mumps, all of which I survived. The one thing I didn’t get was Polio, which was endemic when I was very young.

That was because your brilliant Dr Jonas Salk invented a timely vaccine, which I was given, and I didn’t get Polio. Tens of thousands of children did, and a few still do. It’s a vicious, disabling disease: you die when the muscles you use to breathe go into paralysis. You suffocate, slowly. But not in my country, not yet, although thanks to your anti-Vaxxers it’s sure to return here one day.

I hope your kids didn’t get Polio, Ms Sampson. I guess to you that would have been God’s will. Your greatest president of the 20th century, and certainly of the 21st so far, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, got polio when young, because there was no vaccine. He could stand only with a back-brace, walk barely  at all, and much effort was expended by the White House staff to make him appear electable in public.

I wonder, Ms Sampson, if he would have been an anti-Vaxxer?

If you have ever visited the Indian subcontinent or Southeast Asia, you may have seen many older people with deeply pockmarked faces, some of them blind and/or deaf. That was caused by an even more deadly virus, Smallpox. Millions died from it every year. The poor things, they wouldn’t have been raptured up to Heaven by Jesus, like your sick babies, because they’re only Muslims and Hindus.

Back in the 19th century – it sounds disgusting – Edward Jenner noticed that dairy workers seemed not to get Smallpox as much as others. He experimented with scraping pus from cows infected with a related common disease in cattle, Cowpox, into the bloodstreams of healthy subjects, then exposed them to Smallpox sufferers. None of them got Smallpox, and an industry was born.

An industry whose motives you deeply suspect, of course, because you’re an expert, but one that has saved millions of lives.

Were I able to transport you back in time to 1918 and the last months of the First World War, there in a camp in Kentucky where men mustered to go fight in the trenches, an avian virus called H1N1 took hold. Sick men could not be spared, so they were sent on packed and insanitary troopships to fight in Europe. Many never got there. Others did. In the subsequent influenza pandemic that swept the world, half a billion got sick, and 90 million people died, struggling for breath until their lungs ruptured and they drowned in their own blood.

Have you been getting your ‘flu jabs, Heidi? Your annual protective inoculations? Have your parents and kids, because, you know, the old and the young are especially vulnerable. Pharma labs work continuously to keep up with the latest viral mutations, because the world isn’t the lovely place you’d like it to be. Evolution – which I doubt you believe in – goes on at the microbial level. We live in a soup of constantly mutating viruses and bacteria. Deadly pathogens emerge. They’re taking it seriously, even if you aren’t.

You asked – shockingly, I thought, mendaciously, but perhaps naively – on camera if the World Health Organization is a trusted source? What do you think, are they any less trustworthy than your own Centers for Disease Control? Why would you assume that? Oh, Heidi, it’s not because they’re not American, is it? They’re only World?

Do you know how backward, how narrow-minded your country is beginning to look, with its lowbrow medievalism, its millions of poor, uneducated, low-income families unable to afford any kind of healthcare, let alone vaccinations, or sanitary housing, and its burgeoning epidemics of long-ago childhood diseases?

Your poor, demented President retreats visibly and audibly from the complexities of a world he doesn’t understand, but in which he foolishly imagines himself omniscient: a classic Dunning-Kruger personality. He drags millions of gullible, childlike people down with him, victims of a cruel and arbitrary system of corporate greed, billionaires and corrupt politicians benefitting from astounding inequality; ordinary folks who will believe in absolutely anything he wildly promises because it seems more exciting than everyday reality. Victims who even believed his false promises on healthcare.

You’re not wrong when you say the pharmaceutical industry has a vested interest in selling its products expensively. Why wouldn’t it? The profit motive seems perfectly in line with the rest of the capitalist system you wholeheartedly endorse. Do you not accept that there is a little hypocrisy there? The prices are a disgrace, no doubt. Diabetics are dying for the price of a shot of insulin.

But the principles on which they operate are no different from those of any other sector of industry. And your President lied: he promised voters to bring those prices down. He gave huge tax breaks to Big Pharma, and instead they pushed their prices up. That’s the capitalist ethic. Do you imagine he cares?

Neurotic Americans are notoriously over-medicalized: laxatives, painkillers, slimming pills, snake-oil – but that is not your proof that vaccination is bad, only that the methods by which it does good might be bad. Your pernicious oil and coal industries also have a vested interest in making the whole world sick, but would I ever hear you castigating them, those fine American globalist corporations that prevent so many of your colleagues in Congress from going hungry?

The World Health Organization has successfully eradicated Smallpox from the world through a determined, multi-decadal program of vaccination. Aren’t you glad your children don’t die from Smallpox? It’s a filthy disease. Rotting pustules bursting all down your digestive tract, in your eyes, your vagina. Happily, thanks to vaccine, nobody gets Smallpox anymore.

Currently, they’re battling an epidemic of the Ebola virus in the dark heart of the Republic of Congo. There’s a vaccine, not yet fully tried but showing promising effectiveness. Nevertheless, over two thousand people have died agonizing deaths, their organs failing as the alien virus replicates inside and bursts out through the cell walls, spewing blood, who might well not have died but for the ignorance and animistic superstitions of the inhabitants, who – just like you Americans – regard Western medicine as a conspiracy and its vaccines taboo.

Aren’t you better than them?

And then there’s the Human Papilloma virus, that men unwittingly carry, and women develop ovarian cancers from, and many die, like my first wife, Trish… There’s a vaccine today, but I don’t really need to go on, do I?

If there was a vaccine against ignorance, superstition and criminal stupidity, Heidi, I’d make it compulsory. On the basis of what I heard you say you don’t deserve to be in office, you have no credentials: you imagine yourself to be a responsible person, a rectitudinarian in the finest traditions of public service, a crusader for individual choice and freedom, but you’re not – you’re a menace!

As a result of your wilful ignorance and doctrinaire conservatism, children are dying. Happy Jesus!

Go home, Heidi. Bake cakes. Watch TV.

You truly, utterly silly woman.

Pumpkin 100 inflates like a speech bubble on GroMore: Can’t you hear that whistle blow… Faster-moving news… Even faster-moving news… Aid memoir… GW: several turns for the worse.

Boris Johnson meets the Queen

“You’re absolutely right, your Majesty, it does seem to be coming from my shoe.”

(Question: why does the Queen carry her handbag indoors? Is it for self-defense, or does she expect an incoming Conservative Prime Minister to walk off with it, like an unregistered plumber?)

 

Can’t you hear that whistle blow

In a spellbinding display of the measured reporting she is famous for, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow today (24 Sept.) pulls apart with forensic clarity, from many sources, the tangled threads of what connects Trump and Giuliani with Ukraine.

And it isn’t enirely what people are being conned by the president and his apparently demented, self-contradicting mouthpiece into believing it is. For that’s the simple, easily reversible story they are happy for the media to run with. Whether it’s a deliberate diversion or just a happy accident, no doubt we shall never be told.

It’s easy for everyone to swallow a story about Trump strongarming the young and inexperienced TV comedian president of Ukraine – who is in New York for the UN convention and due to meet him this week – by holding back $390 million of military aid, to dig up some absurd dirt on Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son.

That’s the kind of thing the dumbfuck base will be happy with. Here’s their hero, fighting for his political life. But see, there’s his feared opponent, how guilty is he?

And the Bidens are not helped by the facts.

Hunter Biden was unwisely on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, whose CEO was accused of corruption. Biden Sr, then Vice President to Obama, persuaded then-president Poroschenko to replace a state prosecutor who was failing to investigate the case properly.

Trump has tried to spin the story around so that it was the Bidens who were corrupt and had unethically used US power to remove an honest prosecutor in order to protect the son of the Vice President.

He has admitted, yes, I did pressure President Zelenskiy, because I wanted to get to the bottom of Joe Biden’s corruption and Hillary Clinton’s role in it. But he denies witholding aid, the missing “quid pro quo” the summary leaves out.

The threat was there – the aid had been suspended, the order was given to the offie of budget management just 91 minutes after the phone call – but it remained unspoken. Which is a perfect echo of something Trump’s bagman, Michael Cohen, told the court: Trump never gives a direct order to do something criminal, but you always know exactly what he means.

All this, just to discredit a political opponent who might not even gain the Democratic nomination, as his poll numbers were already slipping behind those of the prim schoolmarm, Elizabeth Warren; who even at 70 seems about 73 years younger than whatever Sleepy Joe is.

Frankly, the Bidens should have had nothing to do with Ukrainian politics and business. The country is or at least was one of the most deeply corrupt states in Europe, and everyone knew it.

But not, perhaps, as corrupt as Trump’s USA.

Digging a little beneath the surface, Maddow raises the disturbing prospect that Russian organized crime is once again interfering in the US election, perhaps sanctioned by Putin – although he has his own electoral problems.

For Trump’s intention in his dealings with the new Ukrainian president, according to official sources in Kiev, has also been to persuade him to open another inquiry, to raise doubts about the guilt of Trump’s former associate and campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

He wants to claim that Manafort – who is serving 7 years in a federal penitentiary for money laundering, tax evasion and failing to declare a foreign interest – was in some way framed by the Bidens…. and Hillary Clinton.

He has cleverly put in the hours of groundwork, turning Clinton into his personal Steinberg, the “two-minutes of hate” figure in Orwell’s 1984 – convincing his base of gullible, adoring morons that she must be guilty of any crime he can point to, of which he is almost certainly himself culpable.

After several years of lucrative lobbying and image-work on behalf of the thuggish, profoundly kleptocratic former president and Putin crony, Viktor Yanukovych, Manafort, we are reminded, was deeply in debt to two immensely wealthy and dangerous oligarchs: Oleg Deripaska, Russia’s “Aluminum King”, who (according to Wikipedia) had murdered his way to the throne; and the handsome and urbane-looking Ukrainian, Dmytro Firtash – both of whom are regarded by the FBI as top-echelon Moscow mafiosi.

Yet somehow, Manafort managed to get himself appointed by, and vocally supported by, Trump as his election campaign chairman. As the Pumpkin has asked several times before, what did he bring to the party? Apart, obviously, from his handy connections to the Russian mafia? An organization to which substantial evidence connects Trump himself in the 1970s and ’80s.

Profoundly compromised – he’d offered to invest $17 million of Deripaska’s money in offshore blind trusts but the money mysteriously disappeared – Manafort was accused in the Mueller report of supplying confidential voter data to the St Petersburg troll factory implementing the Putin-sanctioned disinformation campaign to get Trump elected.

Data that related to voters specifically in the three most heavily gerrymandered states – Michigan, Wisconsin and Idaho – whose Electoral College delegates swung the election, which he had not won on the popular vote nationally, to Trump.

States where voter suppression by Republican legislatures – the rigging of qualification criteria to exclude tens of thousands of black and ethnic minority voters who always vote Democrat – was known to be rife.

Manafort was a plant.

Firtash, who benefits (on Putin’s orders) from a percentage cut of the sales of all the gas Russia pipes through Ukraine to western Europe, an income running into the $billions annually, has been fighting extradition to the USA from Austria on corruption charges for several years. Allegedly, he’d bribed Indian officials for a license to supply titanium for airframes to Trump’s favorite military contracting firm, Boeing. He also faced money laundering charges. (Bloomberg)

“In 2008, Manafort was part of an $850 million plan involving Firtash and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to purchase the Drake Hotel in Manhattan and convert it into a luxury property.” (Bloomberg)

The deal never finalized, while the FBI regarded it askance as a classic money laundering operation. But it places Trump’s campaign chairman right in the orbit of Russian organized crime. Was Manafort put there by these influential men, to be a senior informant on the inside?

Now, despite having a huge team of the best lawyers his bottomless pockets can buy, Firtash (who personally posted $137 million bail to the Austrian court!) has reportedly just hired a couple of deadbeat lawyers, Trumpsucking TV pundits off of Fox News.

Why? Well, assumes Maddow, because they’re the same two lawyers Trump almost hired in 2017, a husband-and-wife act, only to change his mind later because they didn’t look as smart as they had on TV. It’s a move that’s sure to get Trump’s fleeting attention. But for what?

Deripaska, formerly on the US’s no-entry sanctions list, was removed from that list last December at the bidding of Trump’s principal enabler in the Senate, Republican leader Mitch McConnell; whose wife, Transport Secretary Elaine Chao, is now under investigation by a Congressional committee for illegally channelling shipping contracts to her father’s company.

Contracts that some media speculation suggests may have included the supply of narcotics, such as the addictive opioid, fentanyl – a poison that is killing over 60 thousand Americans a year.

Deripaska, Maddow points out, seems to have either persuaded or rewarded McConnell with a pledge to build a massive new aluminum smelting plant in his home state of Kentucky; while as previously reported, McConnell may have benefitted to the tune of more than $70 million from campaign donations from firms to which Chao has awarded contracts in her husband’s Senate constituency, ahead of the 2020 elections.

(And according to The Guardian, he’s also receiving campaign donations from two Brazilian companies involved in the burning of the Amazon rainforest; both part-owned by the $300bn US private equity management firm, Blackstone.)

Who is there to investigate all this criminality? The FBI is stretched to the limit. But I digress.

Maddow’s not improbable conclusion, therefore, is that Putin oligarchs free to come and go are once again bankrolling efforts to get Trump elected, in a rerun of 2016. And he seems perfectly happy to let it be known that he welcomes foreign interference.

Tonight, it’s reported, House speaker Nancy Pelosi may have finally cracked and is about to call for impeachment proceedings, after weeks of stonewalling her own party in the belief that an inquiry would only give Trump a hostage to Fortune.

It now seems she may have accepted the alternative argument: that letting him continually get away with breaking the law and acting in contempt of Congress is setting a dangerous precedent.

Possibly encouraged by our own landmark Supreme Court ruling today, that the Executive does not have primacy over the elected Parliament, and that the law permits neither an arbitrary prorogation nor barefaced lying to the Queen for electoral advantage, Ms Pelosi may be embarking on a perilous but ultimately decisive journey.

While the normally supine Senator Graham has jokingly suggested that if Biden’s son is to be investigated, so too should Trump’s sons, it seems unlikely that impeachment will reach the bar of 60% of both houses, whatever treachery, perjury and lies Trump may have committed.

The Pumpkin doubts that he will respect for one moment, the verdict of any inquiry; nor will he allow witnesses to obey subpoenas to testify. Ultimately he may even carry out his threat not to accept the result of next year’s general election if it goes against him.

He said that last time, too.

With the Justice department and the Attorney General in his pocket, there seems little to be done but to wait for the real God’s Executive Order to drag this horrible man with his Faustian pact down to the fires of hell.

Although, sadly, as the Pope has admitted, death is final. No such fiery fate awaits him: only the verdict of history, that this was surely the worst, most corrupt president America ever elected.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcT5gMPUR_w

 

Fast-moving news

A couple of hours after posting the above, news broke that speaker Pelosi has indeed shifted her ground and declared an “impeachment investigation” by the six House committees she controls. It’s not the same as an actual impeachment, but already Trump has hit back with his signature “It’s all a plot against me” whinge.

Which, actually, it is. Only a perfectly open and legitimate one. And you fucking asked for it.

Your Pumpkin was moved to tears by the reaction of the normally annoying and whooping Late Show audience when Stephen Colbert announced the news. They rose as one to their feet and gave it a standing ovation lasting well over a minute. We tend to disregard how much Trump is hated in many parts of America. We liberals deserve a break.

First, however, you need to catch your hare. And Trump is neither going to appear before any committees nor allow any of his people to testify. We feel sure he will simply ignore any subpoenas and go on the attack against Pelosi in person, appealing to his heavily armed dumbfucks for support.

One hope, Intel committee chair, Adam Schiff has announced that the Ukraine “whistleblower” has agreed to appear before the committee in private on Thursday to repeat the statement they gave to the Inspector General, evidence of Trump wrongdoing that “acting” Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire is illegally witholding from Congress on the orders of Trump’s lapdog in the Justice Department, AG Bill Barr.

Let’s hope they make it through the door alive.

 

Even faster-moving news

Hi again. 18.01, local British Summertime…. You remember back in March, when Trump’s Attorney General, Bill Barr released a three-and-a-half page “summary” of the conclusions of the Mueller report over a weekend, a month before he allowed the full 480-page report out, with redactions?

And how people then thought the real report must also have exonerated the president of collusion and obstruction when it absolutely had not?

But by then they were sick of hearing about it and couldn’t be bothered to read it and so we all moved on?

No, of course you don’t remember. But it happened Just So, Best Beloved!

Well, Trumpy has gone and done it again, releasing a 4-page copywritten summary which the White House is calling an actual transcript of the 35-minute phone call in which Trump and Ukrainian president Zelenskiy discussed digging dirt on the Bidens, father and son.

The release, which seems to show that the callow, ex-TV comedian Zelenskiy was happy to go along with it, and to prove that Trump never threatened to withold $390 million of US aid unless he did, is nevertheless bound to satisfy numerous wavering Trump supporters that, as the Republicans in the Senate are saying, there’s nothing to see here.

It might also have the effect of taking the wind out of the sails of the “whistleblower”, who is due to testify to the Intelligence Committee on Thursday (Trump says he is a spy who should be executed. He is cracking up.) . Why bother with the whole cloth, when you can make a pocket out of a sardine, as the Russians say?

(Actually, I made that bit up. So what? Prove it!)

Now, the law is absolutely clear: a matter of national security concern brought to the attention of the Inspector General by a whistleblower SHALL, within 7 days, be brought before the Congressional Intelligence Committee.

But I suspect it says nothing about a hastily concocted summary produced by the legal team advising the suspect, leaving out all the relevant bits we all want to know about and sounding disconcertingly fluent in the English language.

With yet another bound, he was free.

Senile as he appears to be, this Mafia-trained ex-property developer and conman from Queen’s is slipperier than an eel; more difficult to shackle and drown in a tank of water than Harry Houdini.

Don’t expect much, or anything really, from the impeachment proceedings, except more bullshit; more evasions and distractions and lies.

 

Aid memoir

Justifying his witholding of military aid from Ukraine to force them to “investigate” Joe and Hunter Biden, a connection his random mouthpiece, Giuliani has both denied and admitted, Trump was yesterday saying he was right to do it because Ukraine was a “corrupt” country and you shouldn’t give aid to a corrupt country.

(That’s regardless of the fact that Congress, not the President, technically controls the military aid budget.)

Today, however, he is saying he witheld US aid because other countries, especially Europe, were not sending aid and it was unfair the US should have the entire burden.

Fact-checkers immediately turned up an OECD chart, showing that European institutions (eg NATO) and countries, plus Japan, had on the latest figures (2016-17) together contributed five times as much in aid to Ukraine as the US had.

Yet again Trump will say just about anything, tell any lie, to justify his erratic foreign affairs policy and thuggish criminal behavior, for which impeachment hearings are finally grinding into gear.

The problem being, that despite his record low poll ratings that have consistently refused to climb much above 40%, and polling showing every single declared Democrat candidate to date, however unlikely to win the nomination, is considered more electable than Trump, there are 60 million voters who still refuse to understand – or to much care – what they elected in 2016.

Sixty million voters who support whatever he does, whatever it is, who believe anything he says, because they trust someone they see on TV pretending to be a business tycoon to know how to run the country, more than they trust experienced political administrators.

And they may yet be enough to see him through.

 

GW: several turns for the worse

Europe: “The disturbance everyone was watching out of Africa, Lorenzo is now a hurricane and is gradually moving into favorable environmental conditions, with low wind shear and warm 26-28 °C SSTs. Both will likely lead to a significant intensification after tomorrow. Lorenzo should become a category 3 storm on Friday” before its forecast track takes a turn north-eastwards, to – The Azores. They’re technically Europe. It could end up in Portugal thereafter, the Bay of Biscay, or the English Channel. (Severe-weather.eu)

Middle East: Tropical Cyclone Hikaa – now downgraded to TS – made landfall in Oman on 24 Sept., bringing strong winds, heavy rains, some flooding and coastal waves of 3 to 4 metres. Schools were closed, some transportation disrupted and around 750 people evacuated to shelters. (Floodlist)

Sri Lanka: At least 1 person has died and almost 80,000 affected by heavy rain, landslides and floods after a storm swept across the country from the evening of 23 September, 2019. 124 mm of rain was recorded in 24 hours over the capital, Colombo. The highest rainfall was recorded the following day in a suburb of Negombo city in Western Province, where 272.3 mm (11-in.) fell in 24 hours. Many rivers are well above flood stage and further heavy rain is forecast. (Floodlist)

Puerto Rico: Over 5-in of rain fell on the already stricken island, still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017, as TS Karen passed over on its way out into the Atlantic. The storm impacted Puerto Rico just as the island dealt with several earthquakes and numerous aftershocks. A 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck on Tuesday night, close to where a M6 had earlier been recorded offshore. More than 50 tremors have rattled the area within 24 hours. No major damage was reported.

Wunderground added that as the storm’s wetter southern edge passes over on the 25th: “Localized rains could top 8” across eastern Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra, and the Virgin Islands.” The NHC is forecasting Karen could reintensify at the end of the week with possibly Cuba or an east-coast US mainland hit in view.

Trinidad: After last weekend’s floods, officials in Trinidad and Tobago are urging locals in the village of Piparo to be prepared to evacuate. A mud volcano over a subduction zone under the village is showing signs of an impending eruption, which will threaten many homes. The Piparo mud volcano’s last eruption, in 1997, displaced 31 families.

USA: Remnant hurricane, now Tropical Storm Lorena, has been pounding Arizona with rain, floods, landslides and even a rare tornado for the time of year, after passing over Baja California out of the Eastern Pacific. Accuweather reports on downed power lines and scattered debris from damaged buildings in the capital, Phoenix.

Tens of thousands of Southern Californians have been put on alert that their power may be shut off as hot air and strong winds have led to a warning of more wildfires. Meanwhile, the Dehesa Fire outside of San Diego has grown to about 200 acres in size and is only 10% contained with evacuation orders and warnings issued for nearby neighborhoods, as of 24 Sept.  (Accuweather)

Imelda made it to Number 5 in the shit parade of the wettest tropical storms ever recorded on the US mainland. “The peak of 43.39″ at North Fork Taylors Bayou, Texas puts Imelda fifth among the heaviest single-point rain producers”, as noted by Capital Weather Gang. (Wunderground)

Switzerland: “Italian authorities have closed off roads and evacuated homes after experts warned that a portion of a Mont Blanc glacier is at risk of collapse.” The mayor of the town of Courmayeur blamed ‘strong change due to climatic factors’ after “experts said up to 250,000 cubic metres of ice was in danger of sliding off the Planpincieux glacier on the Grandes Jorasses peak.” The movement of the glacier has speeded up following successive annual heatwaves. (Guardian)

Tunnel approaching….

UN: One slightly hopeful sign that came out of the UN conference on climate change was a pledge by a number of large corporations to take up to two years to come up with some ideas for reducing their carbon footprint by 2050.

Actually, that’s not really hopeful at all, is it. In fact, it’s pants.

Especially when, as the New York Times records: “According to data from CDP, a British-based nonprofit group that collects environmental data from companies around the world and is one of the organizers of the pledge, emissions reported by some signatories have increased by 50 percent or more since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.”

Start as you mean to go on, I always say.

 

Wankers’ corner… Ha! Haaa!! Told you so!!!!!… Tories: a record… The threewheelin’ lifestyle… Dog daze… Fucking cheek department…GW: Texas engulfed…

Hi. I’m now totally confused as to which  BogPo this is, last Thursday’s or next week’s? Does it matter, when there’s always a feast of great writing to be guzzled down with your wine?

More is being added as we speak! But I’ve only got this far, sorry.

‘So tell me a bit more about how a dictatorship could work.’

“So tomorrow we invade Luxembourg!”

Wankers’ corner…

As millions of schoolchildren and others strike around the world on climate action day, tired Labour “leader” Jeremy Corbyn’s dimly illuminated brother Piers is leading a pathetic counter-march through London, a gaggle of climate-change deniers, most probably balding, retarded internet trolls day-released from their mothers’ basements, blinking in the unaccustomed sunlight.

From the press photographs it looks like only about nine shambling, embarrassed-looking humanoids in total have turned out in support, bearing an unpunctuated banner reading “Climate policy controls you not climate”, which can be taken several ways but perhaps lacks a little punch in the old persuasion department?

Good on you, Piers, for drawing attention to how stupid, feeble and anachronistic your dying little movement is.

Is there a particular Corbyn gene, I wonder, that turns out crusty and annoying old contrarians?

(But when will climate protesters understand, global heating and plastics pollution are NOT THE SAME ISSUE! From a PR point of view you need to fixate on one or the other or you’ll just confuse people.)

As millions of people came out on the streets following the Dateline across the globe to protest official inaction over the climate crisis, a long-lost cause in your Granny Weatherwax’s view but never mind, there’s no harm in trying, the story made the front page splash all day as a running commentary on the BBC News website.

But occupied only 10th place on the Most Read listing!

And unless you went to the Weather page, there was no mention at all of the terrible floods in Texas from Tropical Storm Imelda, on which Severe-weather.eu commented: “There are truly catastrophic scenes coming out from Houston and Galveston.”

Nearly 4 feet of rain has fallen over the Beaumont and Port Arthur area in two days, the same part of the state that saw immense rainfall only two years ago from Hurricane Harvey. Disaster has been declared. Several people have been killed, much property damaged.

It’s not as if this is in some remote part of Africa. It seems the news media is just not interested in real life events anymore.

Postscriptum (lots of these today):

I’m perhaps not being fair on Jeremy, who has cleaned up his 70-year-old student activist image and is looking managerial these days. I’ve just read a very interesting and sober article in the Guardian that says Britain’s financial community is starting to think he and John McDonnell would probably be a better bet to manage the economy and deal with Europe sensibly than Johnson’s dysfunctional, profligate, flailing administration and its fourth-rate ministerial team of chancers, liars, incompetents, careerists and balloon-animal artists.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/21/bankers-corbyn-tories-no-deal-capitalism-radical-government

Although, that being mooted, nevertheless there is the minor matter of Corbyn’s personal poll rating to get over. He’s currently at minus 60 – a historic low for a British politician, or maybe anywhere.

Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri at an Innotech hacking and data conference in London in October 2014.

“I say, you fellows, BoJo’s boobed again!”

(Mayor Johnson allegedly bankrolled his bling-encrusted American friend’s business venture, using London ratepayers’ money.)

 

Ha! Haaa!! TOLD YOU SO!!!!

“The question of why Wales voted to leave the EU can in large part be answered by the number of English retired people who have moved across the border, research has found.

“Work by Danny Dorling, a professor of geography at Oxford, found that the result could in part be attributed to the influence of English voters.” (Guardian)

Ha!!! Your Uncle Bogler has been saying this at every conceivable opportunity, to absolutely no effect, since Day One of the Brexit farrago. No-one has paid the slightest heed to my trollings!

Until, obviously, now. Only this guy gets paid to say it.

UK media has been lazily unaware of the seismic demographic shift that has taken place here in Wales over the past 20 years, and continues to bumble along, stupidly imagining that the majority of people living in Wales must ergo be Welsh.

We’re not! We’re settlers. Colonialists. Incomers. Saisneg.

And another clue maybe lies in the fact that the Welsh national party, Plaid Cymru, is virulently pro-Europe, but holds only one seat in the European Parliament. Leave in Wales was a vote against the Welsh Assembly.

Nor has the media made even one mention of the implication for Welsh ports of a No Deal Brexit leaving a “border” in the Irish Sea.

So is Wales really a Leave territory? Not entirely.

My friend Harry tells me, he went along to a live broadcast of the BBC’s Any Questions! here in Boglington the other night – an event of which your Uncle B. was totally unaware, as ever.

One of the panellists was the former Brexit Secretary, the lazy and dimwitted baboon, David Davis. When he was introduced, out of all the pundits on the show, he was the one who received a seething, hostile “Sssssssss!” from an audience composed almost entirely of academics and others linked to the local university.

For, thanks to the presence of so many people with an international perspective, students and staff, aware of how damaging to the universities sector this Brexit shitshow is already proving to be, our constituency was one of only two in Wales that voted solidly Remain.

I don’t know a single person here who didn’t. And when asked, all but one of the audience put their hand up to voting Remain; just as they had at a Comedy Club night I went to three years ago.

But then I don’t personally know all the dreary-looking, gray-haired, genetically damaged retirees, economic and cultural migrants fleeing the brown faces repopulating the English Midlands, static caravan-dwelling hordes who throng the supermarket aisles on Friday afternoons with their heavily laden trolleys and whining Brummie accents, like a reunion of the old UKIP members’ conference.

They look like Farage voters to a henpecked old man and hatchet-faced woman, although you never can tell. I certainly don’t feel safe among them and hold my counsel. I’d rather not be beaten to death with a sliced loaf.

Prof. Dorling concludes that actually, far from embittered northerners voting to sell Britain out to Trump and Putin, the private equity investment management community and the hedge funsters, most Leave voters were middle-aged, affluent southerners.

Blame the Cornish, he advises.

Poldarkness descends.

 

Tories: a record

8 million: people in Britain living in “unsuitable” housing.

1 million: people on local authority housing waiting lists.

83 thousand: homeless people in temporary accommodation.

8 thousand: govt. estimate of regular rough sleepers.

31: homeless young people who have died in sheltered accommodation in the last 2 years in Brighton alone.

216 thousand: empty domestic properties in Britain.

 

The threewheelin’ lifestyle

Whenever Hunzi decides to take me as far as the industrial estate that’s rapidly expanding on the other side of the exurban space that passes for our local park, a land of cycle paths and sports grounds and a particularly fetching, aromatic sewage works, we have to pass a new industrial unit housing a retail store where the theme is electrically powered cycles.

Fat tyres! Only this version is sadly not road-legal because it can go at 20 mph! It’s billed as a “mountain trike”. Useful.

Now, I’m a touch OCD and I tend to get hooked for months or years on impracticable enthusiasms. For instance, I’m desperate to own a campervan. Every time I see one in the carpark, which at this time of year is many, I will wander over and try to look in, to compare the interior fittings, the decor. Does it have a loo? A shower? Are the benches lined with hideous purple floral moquette? Would there be room for my jazz collection? Could I even lie down?

Two things prevent me from owning a campervan. One, unless I sell my little house I can’t afford one. They are insanely expensive, given that you can buy a secondhand Ford Transit, a mattress and a primus stove for a few hundred quid. DIY camping is not my style, however. I demand fittings. A satellite dish. Metal cutlery. A Polish waitress.

Added to which, there would be running costs. And secondly, I know deep down in my heart that I would almost never use it. I so rarely go anywhere nowadays. Where would I go? On my own? What for? I already live amid scenery.

But I would have a campervan! I could put up guests. And if the world ended, civilization collapsed, warlords roaming the urban canyons, rising sea level inundating the village, I could run for the hills in my second home. Even spend a weekend with Hunzi at the Brecon jazz festival!

Oh, I so want a campervan! I am practically in tears today because a beautiful VW Topaz Autosleeper in midnight blue that was for sale for weeks at my local car showroom has suddenly gone, and I didn’t win the lottery on Wednesday. (Okay, it was £35 thousand, and the bed looked to be only four feet long, but hey, it had a toilet!)

It’s like that with the electrically powered tricycle in black, outside the aforementioned store. See, it’s got fat tyres!

Electric vehicles are the future. One day, everyone will have one, by law. Why not me, now? I could sell the car, buy one and have change. Look, it has fat tyres and a large pannier on the back for all my shopping needs.

You don’t need to pay road tax or have insurance with one of these babes, although it might be wise to insure yourself. It can go for 70 miles at 15.5 mph without pedalling. That’s 35 trips to the supermarket and back, a whole month’s worth! And just imagine the queue of fuming motorists building up behind you!

But. Where would Hunzi sit? There’s nowhere, unless I bought a bike trailer for him. Would he be happy on his own, shut up in a flimsy trailer pod? It sometimes rains here, and there’s no cover. It could get very wet. And would my elderly prostate, the size of an orange, let me sit comfortably on a bike saddle?

A probable clincher, my little cottage abuts a main road. The electric tricycle wouldn’t pass through the front gate into the tiny garden. There’d be nowhere to securely park it, between daily trips to the supermarket.

The future of transportation? A somewhat eccentric Victorian machine, for popping to the shops.

I try to envision myself trundling about town on this somewhat eccentric, Victorian-looking machine, with its ladylike step-in frame. I can see how useful it will be in more dystopian times, when diesel cars are banned and the oil runs out, but now? I’d be practically the only person on the road with one.

Am I sufficiently ready to become a truculent and elderly, pioneering eccentric, like the safety-unconscious, obstreperously bearded Jeremy Corbyn lookey-likeys who ride those two-wheelers where you put on shorts, lie on your back and pedal with your legs in the air? Flying a little flag on a stick to beg sleepy Polish lorry drivers, please to not ignore your existence?

And then, unbidden, the image creeps into my mind, of me, on my electric tricycle, wearing a Pastafarian colander on my head instead of a safety helmet, and there the dream ends. For, how could you ride an electrically powered three-wheeler with fat tyres without a colander? The two just go naturally together.

Looking closer, I see that in fact, the face of the large man on the electrically powered three-wheeler with a colander on his head and a worried sheepdog in the trailer pod, trundling bitterly on squelchy fat tyres through the rain at 15.5 mph, shopping bags soggily perched in the pannier at the back, furious motorists honking behind, is not actually my face after all.

I’m more of a Bentley and good 3-star hotel with a Michelin-guide restaurant, Polish waitresses and a comfortable bed man, myself.

Postscriptum:

And lo! The very next morning in my email inbox Google have thoughtfully sent me an advertisement for… Wispa Bikes, “UK electric bicycle brand”…..

Go away, Google! Fuck off! Stop reading my stuff! This intrusive surveillance is intolerable. I have a right to a private life beyond what I publish. I am not this person who bogls!

Post-postscriptum:

Watching the industrial estate growing, with more and more large infill units opening “public welcome” trade counter-style operations, it occurs to me that press reports of our dying high streets are missing part of the story. I suspect these edge-of-town developments offering no-frills shopping with free parking may be bucking the trend towards internet home delivery.

 

Dog daze

Switching on the telly, I’m met with a BBC program about sheepdog trials, the venerable “One Man and his Dog”.

My Rottweiler, the Boot, used to love this show and would watch spellbound as, responding to a series of whistles, clever sheepdogs would round up sheep on remote hillsides and herd them into pens (“shedding”), earning points for efficiency.

Hunzi, my lovely Welsh Border Collie – the most popular breed of sheepdog – looked completely disgusted when I showed him the screen, turning his back on us and subsiding to the rug with a despairing grunt.

Then, if he had ever taken any interest in herding sheep into a pen, the farmer would never have given him to me. And if I had not just happened along that day, after we’d sold the cottage at the end of the farm track, the farmer would almost certainly have drowned or shot him, as a waste of good rats.

 

Fucking cheek department…

Another advertisement sent to my email in-tray by Messrs Google offers a 6-point “Investors’ Guide” to a No-Deal Brexit, from City investment management consultancy, Hargreaves-Lansdown.

Peter Hargreaves, the retired billionaire founder of Hargreaves-Lansdown, personally trousered over £600 million from his old firm betting on share price movements in the months following the Brexit referendum.

He had spent over £3 million backing the Leave campaign, arguing that “uncertainty” was good for the money business. The organizers now occupy seats and advisory positions in Johnson’s government, and are arguing that No-Deal will not damage the economy.

I’m sure it won’t. Not his, anyway. From Wikipedia:

“In 1986 he married Rosemary; they have one son and one daughter. They reside in a Georgian property in the West Country, where he grows his own vegetables.”

Leave voters, when will you wake up to what is being done to the country by these plotters? Or do you think your lives will somehow improve?

Better get investing, then.

 

GW: Texas enGulfed

USA: National Weather Service (NWS) in Houston said unofficial rainfall totals for a 60-hour period to 19 September showed Fannet in Jefferson County, Texas received 43.15 inches (1,096mm) of rain, as Tropical Storm Imelda stalled over southern Texas and Louisiana, 20 Sept., “firehosing” warm water out of the Gulf in a mini-repeat of Hurricane Harvey, two years ago – from which the states are still recovering.

Rivers are overflowing, parts of the road network around Houston are completely inundated and people are being ordered to stay indoors wherever they are, or to seek higher ground.

3 people have been killed and states of “disaster” declared in 13 counties. It’s already the 7th wettest storm in US history and it’s still raining, Houston reporting rates of 3-4 in. per hour, prompting some weather forecasters to speculate that it could catch up to the wettest, Harvey, that dumped 60.3 inches near Beaumont and Port Arthur in 2017.

(The above from Floodlist/Accuweather.) Severe-weather.eu adds: “There are truly catastrophic scenes coming out from Houston and Galveston.”

Accuweather also reported another familiar story: “Damaging thunderstorms will track through the northern Plains ahead of a push of cooler air at the end of the week.” Tornadoes are expected too.

Oh, and I’m wondering why these horrendous events have gained no traction today in the centrist media? The Guardian website, updated hourly, for instance makes no mention of the real catastrophe unfolding in Texas, affecting real people, but features numerous speculative articles instead about Ms Thunberg’s strike and its political importance for the working class.

Atlantic: “The second major hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic season, Humberto roared past Bermuda Wednesday night as a Cat. 3 storm with 120 mph winds. The powerful right-front eyewall battered (the island) with sustained winds well in excess of hurricane force as the eye passed 75 miles to the north, near 8 pm EDT.” (Wunderground)

Meanwhile, forecast weakening Cat 2 to Cat 1 Hurricane Jerry, battling wind shear, is just passing the Leeward Islands, where storm warnings have been issued, on a curving track heading northwestwards away from the US coast towards Bermuda. (Accuweather) Three more tropical depressions are threatening heavy rainfall events for Caribbean islands over the weekend into next week.

Forecasters are getting excited about a somehow “different from usual” tropical wave among several spotted coming out of Africa, that before it has even reached the Cape Verde islands where Atlantic hurricanes generally breed, they have got tagged for development as a potential “major hurricane”. (Severe-weather.eu) (It’s now a TS, named Lorenzo. 24 Sept.)

Mexico: Compact “Tropical Cyclone Lorena made landfall near Playa Pérula, Jalisco, on 19 Sept. before moving across Baja California, bringing floods to Arizona. NHC warned that Lorena was expected to produce rainfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches, with maximum amounts around 8 inches. (Floodlist/NASA) Tropical Storm Mario was reported south of Lorena over the Eastern Pacific, on pretty much the same track.

Trinidad and Tobago: “Heavy rain, strong winds and rough seas brought by Tropical Storm Karen have caused severe damage in the dual-island nation in the Caribbean. Strong winds downed trees and power lines, blocking roads and causing power and telecommunication outages.” (Floodlist) Meanwhile in Haiti, at least 2 people have died and 4 are missing after flash floods in Ouest department, after torrential rain from 18 Sept. More than 20 houses were destroyed.

Japan: Not that you’d know it from reports of the Rugby World Cup, a major event, but at least 1 person was killed and another 19 injured in Okinawa as Typhoon Tapa passed over, headed for Kyushu island – scene of astonishing amounts of rainfall in the past three years. By 22 Sept. 400 mm of precipitation was reportedly falling on the island per day. Over 400 regional flights were cancelled. Rugby organisers have issued warnings and closed two venues as a precaution.

Singapore: Drivers preparing for the weekend’s F1 Grand Prix are having to contend with some of the worst air pollution the island has experienced, because of forest burning for palm oil in neighboring Indonesia. (Guardian)

(Your Old Gran opines that, were she the Sultan of Singapore, she would immediately declare war on her neighbors and angrily bomb the bejasus out of them. This annual criminal destruction of habitat for so many threatened species surely can’t be tolerated?)

Greece: “Heavy rainfall late during the evening of 19 Sept., caused flash floods in areas around the city of Thessaloniki. 2 people were rescued from vehicles trapped in flood waters.” Hail flattened a large area of farm crops. (Floodlist)

UK: Flood alerts were issued for parts of England 24 Sept, as heavy rain continued to cause disruption for commuters. The Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for much of England and Wales, saying up to 70 mm of rain had fallen overnight in some parts.

Wales, UK: It is 00.05 hours (five-past midnight) on the morning of 22nd September, 2019. According to the digital thermometer in my front garden, here on the west coast, the day’s top temperature had been 26.9C. It is still 20.2C at the time of writing.

Arctic: A blast of warm air pushing up into the region past the British Isles and Iceland will displace a pool of very cold air into the continent, extending down as far as North Africa. Surface temperatures 10 to 20 deg. C above normal for Greenland will still be at or just below freezing, however. (Severe-weather.eu)

Tunnel approaching…

Yellowstone: is wreathed in dense fog, caused by cold air settling over warm ground, while 4 wildfires are being monitored in the park. Unreported drumbeats, harmonic tremors, small quakes, rising gases, Tornillo “screw wave” signatures on the seismographs. (Greeley) Also, she reports Hawaii’s Kilueia volcano’s notorious new rift, 8, that erupted so violently last year, is showing signs of life again.

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 99: Hi, and welcome to another Not the New York Times… Prorogationgate: Day 3 of the hearing… Turning a blind eye to the sky… The quality of Mercy is sometimes strained… GW: I’ve seen fire but I’ve seen even more rain.

The sum of $22 million offered by President Macron and other EU leaders at the G7 in Biarritz to help Brazil put out the fires that are still consuming the Amazon rainforest is, according to Jeremy Lent, writing in Open Democracy, the equivalent of what Americans spend on popcorn in a single day.

 

Hi, and welcome to another Not the New York Times.

Now, look. We have to begin with an apology. I did not mean to steal the above material, okay?

I’ve ineptly excerpted it (and I mean ineptly, I was only after a pull-quote but I drink far too much wine in these lengthening dark evenings and I got all the picture and headlines with it and couldn’t get rid of the bits I don’t want, the image is somehow all digitally glued together) from a very long New York Times report on Trump’s grunting pig efforts to rollback any environmental standards he associates with the black man’s previous regime, regardless of who actually signed them into law, even Reagan, in advance of this weekend’s New York conference on climate change that he has respectfully declined to attend.

It might rain, it might not, who knows.

So, Mr New York Times, please forgive me. You do ooopsie stuff too, from time to time, and it is said you are not very good at publishing stories about powerful men demanding extra favors from women. (Also, do get rid of that ridiculous medieval gothic masthead, you’re not the fucking Bible!)

The “Make Dishwashers Great Again” lobby is a pathetically transparent PR agency’s junior creative department’s act of desperation behind a falsely informed campaign to promote the white goods manufacturers, who are themselves perfectly at ease with Obama-era regulations on energy-saving; as without them, they won’t be able to export their products or compete with the output from Turkey.

Besides which, “energy-saving” translates to “cost-saving” efficiency for Mr and Ms Binary-Houseperson, so it’s a product-plus, something Trump can’t understand because when it comes to business he’s a defiant know-nothing.

Given the industry’s happiness with the global regulatory environment, just what has the orange lightbulb hater got against them? Personally, I could care less. I don’t have a dishwasher. I can wash dishes.

“The petition, titled “Make Dishwashers Great Again,” is just one part of a broad campaign coordinated by conservative organizations with ties to fossil-fuel companies.”

Them again. Disguised as humans, they induce people to consume more, not less, environmentally polluting energy in our kitchens, so they can poison our children and grandchildren and all go trooping merrily up to heaven in a Conga-line to meet their invisible Judaeo-Zoroastrian friend, who will allocate a schedule for having them kneel and praise his grumpy and unreliable old fascist Father with endless hosannas for all Eternity.

Their brand of Death is a deal that, frankly, sucks.

What is the matter with these sickos? Isn’t being the richest 1 per cent of sick fucking hemorrhoids on the planet enough for them, that they have to burn the place down to get even richer? You can’t take it with you, grrrlz! And you’re not taking me either, let me tell you. I’m staying right here, hoping to become extinct before I die.

I have suggested that if they have such an urgent need to meet their delusionary Jesus, they should just get on with it, poragy beards, sandals, AR-15s, fucking MAGA hats and whimpering hymns an’ all, and leave the rest of us alone to get on with our fights, pickling cabbages, marrying, and such.

Or maybe not. Jim Jones had the right idea, let’s see more of that Kool-Aid.

When will we find the courage to drag these life-denying Pharisees from their climate-change-proof bunkers and hang them out to rot in the public square?

 

Prorogationgate: Day 3 of the hearing….

James Eadie

“My client, Johnson is a fundamentally honest man, M’Lud, who would no more lie to the Queen than abandon his sick wife for a younger bit of tottie. I introduce in evidence, Mr Iain Duncan Smith’s snot-covered finger.” (Mr James Eadie, QC, argues the case for overturning 800 years of democracy.)

 

“The Fed just dumped $75 Billion into the economy…. possibly to avert a massive financial crash. Monday morning, large short term loans became unavailable and rates for these gigantic loans shot up. High interest rates caused financial crashes in the past. The Fed panicked and flooded the market with lots of money! The question is why were short term loans unavailable, where did that money go and what shot up the interest rates?” – Economist, Prof. Richard Wolff, on Thom Hartmann. You have been warned! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTPHWtZlqT0

 

Turning a blind eye to the sky

“In 2008 a survey of American Meteorological Society members found that only 24% of weather forecasters agreed that warming was caused by humans. In 2010, a study found that 54% agreed that global warming is happening. But by 2017 a full 90% agreed that a climate crisis is happening, and 80% indicated it was human-caused.” (Edited from Guardian, 18 Sept.)

A “full” 100 per cent, I could understand. Ninety is far from full!

“And the outlook for tomorrow, there’ll be a razorwire fence controlling our borders….”

So, 20 per cent of US TV weather forecasters daily warning of drought, fire, pestilence and flood either still don’t believe, or are somehow being prevented from admitting, what 97 per cent of scientists around the world as a whole – we are told – believe, on the basis of evidence, which is that if you pump up to 37 billion tonnes of, specifically, carbon dioxide gas into our finite breathable atmosphere every year, for many years, increasing over time, through burning vast amounts of carboniferous material, the climate is bound to be affected sooner or later.

It’s a logical inference. What’s wrong with that?

Once you have learned what was shown to be the case 130 years ago, that carbon dioxide – a natural component of the atmosphere, about 2 per cent – has the special capacity to trap radiant solar heat, thus raising the background temperature over time, it really isn’t necessary to have a PhD to grasp that one simple, basic concept; the more you put in, the hotter it gets, any more than it would be necessary to have a Physics degree to boil a kettle.

I suppose it might be plausible for some people to argue that natural variability in the Earth’s production of carbon dioxide from the great cycles trumps the volume of gas which humans cause to be emitted, and that it will all somehow be re-absorbed in the natural carbon sinks, but it wouldn’t really be a consolation, would it, given the sheer bloody obviousness that either way, it isn’t being, and thus we have a problem.

Not many scientists would go along with that idea anyway, since the concentration of carbon dioxide gas in the air and dissolved in the oceans, and the mean global temperature, are now measurably greater by far, and increasing faster, than at any time for millions of years, as evidenced in the fossil record, the warming oceans and the increasing severity of extreme weather events. Other heat-retaining gases, too, are in play. There is no known natural source of chlorofluorocarbons, for instance.

You may pay attention, if you wish, to the various models projecting the consequences of carbon emission and the likely etiology of its continuing accumulation, the observable increase in temperature, based on observation over time. Some are more highly alarming than others, but all point to the same conclusion: ours.

In fact, the Guardian Green Light story is more concerned with interviewing a handful of local US TV forecasters who are struggling to put even these simple concepts across in various subtle ways, so as not to put off American audiences who, they admit with chagrin, have virtually zero attention span, in order to warn them gently that some things are going to have to change, whatever the president says.

For, in another GGL story this week, a selection of US government officials describe in horrifying detail, the extent to which Trump has inserted climate-change deniers, energy industry lobbyists and otherwise unemployable non-scientists into the management tiers of all the key departments of state responsible for maintaining a healthy environment.

Nowadays, any and all research even daring to mention the possibility that we humans are causing a problem is being ruthlessly excised, bulldozed, buried; and the expert researchers bullied, ignored, censored, shunted aside into non-jobs or browbeaten into early retirement; some finding their reputations being trashed on social media.

Because the president wills it.

Surely the question has to be, why?

The explanation that the energy industry is entirely responsible for this situation through exploiting the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision to allow corporations to spend as much as they like on buying politicians and their votes goes only so far. While spending $millions on deflecting public attention away from it, most energy corporations will have privately admitted at some point in the past forty years that there is a problem, and they – or at least, their customers – are the cause of it.

(You’ll find a paragraph saying exactly that, even on Exxon-Mobil’s public website.)

Hurricane Dorian: the end of civilization looks very much like this.

There seems instead to be some underlying callousness motivating the Trump administration’s program of frantically cancelling all previous attempts by the legislature to mitigate the effects of carbon pollution and other environmental threats.

It’s as if born of one individual’s pathological hatred of the world, a profound resentment of its natural gifts, when almost their first act on taking office is to permit coal mining companies to discharge effluent untreated into open waterways.

Apart obviously from its being an act of gratitude to a coal baron who has just gifted your election campaign a million dollars, it seems like a brutal fist punching the face of Life; especially when it scarcely benefits the coal baron’s business interest to allow him to do something so bad that it can only ensure the opprobrium of the public and their local representatives; and even lead to the divestment of valuable shareholding institutions far from the coalface.

No-one likes drinking, brushing their teeth or bathing their children in filthy, black, carcinogenic water. Even coal barons know that. Less welcome too are the headlines.

Yet when it is presented as an act of kindness to local communities to allow their distant employers to cut corners and make extra profits from degrading their environment, that will be plowed back into more jobs and better wages – an entirely false premise, incidentally – you see a kind of moral deviousness at work, where total disdain for consequence translates into a pathological longing for limitless voter approval.

A  cynical confidence trick, yet it is one the poorly educated find comfortable to buy into, even as they watch their communities shrivel, starve, blow away, drown and die. It’s all the fault of the foreigners.

And if on the eve of another climate conference, another climate strike, a great heave of public concern, 20 per cent of TV weather forecasters are still vainly holding out against the tide of global consensus, that we have fucked the atmosphere, fucked the oceans and will, as a consequence, likely die out along with many species, unless very severe action is taken very soon now, what hope is there for the rest?

You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows, as the poet sang. Especially one turning a blind eye to the sky.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/society-unravels-future-grabs/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=52a333101a-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-52a333101a-408090269

A woman in Providence, Rhode Island, was admitted to hospital feeling faint, after her blood turned blue. The condition, doctors say, was brought on by overmedicating herself with a toothache remedy.

Your Uncle B. wonders idly, what then has been causing Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to turn black at frequent intervals?

 

The madness of King Donald…

Appointing former State Department lawyer Robert O’Brien to replace John Bolton as National Security Advisor, and mindful of O’Brien’s record in negotiating the release of US citizens held abroad, the Washington Post reminds us that: “the president claimed in April that O’Brien had called him the “greatest hostage negotiator in the history of the United States.”

The great negotiator, Mr Trump agreed to “medical expenses” of $2 million to get the terminally ill student, Otto Frederick Warmbier shipped home from prison in North Korea, where he’d been held for stealing a poster from his hotel room. Most commentators regarded this as the payment of a ransom, for electoral advantage.

Posing in front of a pile of steel components for his border wall, on which some construction has now begun, Trump informed the assembled hacks that his wall contains special, “very powerful concrete”. (MSNBC)

 

The quality of Mercy is sometimes strained

It’s tempting to join some kind of faith group in my old age, as I have no settled religion and no belief in anything much, other than the right to a quiet life interrupted as frequently as possible by classic cuts of modern jazz.

I like the attitude of the Pastafarian church, which holds that genuine religious freedom should include freedom from religion. “Its only dogma is that there is no dogma”, says Mike Arthur, an American documentary filmmaker currently focussing on this growing cult of blissful irresponsibility.

I guess if L Ron Hubbard had been born as that much finer and more nuanced writer, the great humanist Kurt Vonnegut, Scientology would be a lot more relaxed, with its irony on show for all to worship, instead of keeping its brainwashed adherents in an iron vise of blinkered corporatism.

In spaghetti we trust….

Yet Scientology, with all its ludicrous beliefs in non-existent mental energies, is recognized in many places as a genuine religion; while Pastafarians everywhere are struggling to gain recognition; although it has been officially noted in four countries so far.

The exquisite symbolism of the kitchen strainer, or colander, worn symbolically on the head, has not passed my notice. For a start, unlike Christianity it’s genuinely holey. Being metal, it can receive signals remotely, while protecting against thrown objects. And worn on the head, too, as a device for rinsing the sludge off canned foodstuffs it suggests brainwashing – yet with the freedom for ideas to spew out. It’s an item that brings forth solid nourishment, food for thought naturally, from a broth of hot, watery confusion; making sense of the Cosmos in a nonlinear way.

Just add sauce!

The “ten commandments” of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are reduced, helpfully, to only eight: “I’d really rather you didn’ts”, which is exactly how I speak to people, in a kind of cringing, deferential, frightfully British way, often in heavily accented English, when they piss me off. I’m always afraid of being punched in the face, as my front upper set cost me £3 thousand and could never be replaced if broken.

But if one wants to reduce one’s carbonara footprint, this is perhaps not the way forward.

The church, according to a Guardian article (what else?), “was founded in 2005 by Bobby Henderson, at the time a 25-year-old US physics graduate, as a response to Christian fundamentalists demanding the teaching of creationism in Kansas school science classes.” His delicious logic being that belief in a universe created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster is no less rational a scientific approach to creation as belief in an Intelligent Designer who makes lots of mistakes.

There’s a case before the European Court of Human Rights currently, in which a Dutch member – it’s pretty much worldwide – Mienke de Wilde is arguing for the legal right under freedom of religion in her country to be photographed for her driver’s license wearing a plastic kitchen strainer on her head, the symbol of her belief in not having to believe anything.

To support her case, she’s kept it on in public for the past three years, which at the time of writing appears to be the main stumbling block. Recognition of a religion by the court depends on it being a serious belief. Which it is, only expressed through a haze of tolerant, not to say stoned, good humor and puckish lateral thinking. Which again, is very much me. No?

My only concern about joining the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster would be that its dress code offends the balancing right of trypophobes not to be suddenly confronted with the distressing sight of an object pierced with a regular pattern of tiny round holes, which can induce panic in a sufferer.

Rather than turning to dishwashers for salvation, then, maybe I’ll apply to San Francisco instead, for membership of the Church of the Blessed John Coltrane.

Anything for a quiet life.

 

GW: I’ve seen fire but I’ve seen even more rain

USA: Flood watches remained in effect Wednesday morning (18 Sept.) across southeastern Texas as Tropical Depression Imelda’s heavy rain threatened to cause hazardous flooding and travel disruptions. As of early Wednesday morning, Imelda, which became a short-lived tropical storm on Tuesday before making landfall in Freeport, Texas, and heading for Houston, had produced over 22 inches of rain in places.

“Days of heavy rain fell in parts of South Dakota from 10 to 12 Sept., causing widespread flooding in the state. Meanwhile National Weather Service (NWS) is warning that the rain in South Dakota could result in another wave of flooding downstream along the Missouri River in Iowa and Nebraska.” Many all-time river flood-stage records are being broken. “Around 30 people had to be rescued from flood water in Madison, Wisconsin. Homes, roads and bridges were damaged and schools closed in affected areas.”(Floodlist)

India: “Over 4,500 people have been evacuated after flooding in the state of Rajasthan. The southern part of the state has experienced torrential rainfall since 13 Sept. Heavy rain in the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh, where 45,000 people have been displaced by flooding, has also increased levels of rivers in Rajasthan, in particular the Chambal river. Many homes have been without electricity for days. … Rainfall has been 42% higher than normal for the monsoon season.” (Floodlist) Monsoon flooding in India during late July and August killed at least 287 people. (Wunderground)

Spain:  Severe weather has continued since up to half a meter of rain fell over 11 and 12 Sept. Media reports say 6 people have now died and 3,500 evacuated, including 2,000 residents of the town of Santomera in Murcia as a precaution due to a controlled release from a local dam. Roads and schools have been closed as well as Murcia and Almeria airports. Fatalities were reported in Caudete in Albacete province, Almería, La Jámula in Granada and 2 people died in Orihuela. (Floodlist)

Algeria: “2 people have died after more flooding” caused by the same weather system as the floods in Spain. “Torrential rain on 12 Sept. also caused widespread damage in the capital Algiers and parts of Souk Ahras Province. 40 mm of rain reportedly fell in just 40 minutes. The mean total precipitation for September in Algiers is 28.3 mm. It’s the third flood event in the country this month.” (From Floodlist)

Atlantic: Approaching the Leeward Islands, Tropical Storm Jerry is forecast to intensify to hurricane strength over warmer waters. Hurricane Humberto is now at Cat 3, heading in the direction of Bermuda. In the East Pacific, Tropical Storm Lorena developed on Tuesday and will track dangerously close to Mexico’s western coastline by Thursday, 19 Sept. (Accuweather) Hurricane warnings are out.

Antarctic: Paul Beckwith writes: “Since the last week of August, the stratospheric polar vortex first became elongated and then completely destabilized, with some regions warming up abruptly from about -70C to an incredible +13C, causing the high altitude vortex to morph into two and then even three vortices. My understanding is that rapid loss of Antarctic sea ice in some regions and gain in others caused an asymmetry of sea ice around the continent, thus causing breakdown of the vortex.”

Earth: Despite the lack of an El Niño, and presumably under the dimming effect of many wildfires, “August 2019 was provisionally the second hottest globally since records began in 1880.” Only August 2016 was warmer, say the NOAA and NSA. Figures are not yet in for Japan. “Among global weather stations with a period of record of at least 40 years, 36 set new all-time heat records in August. There were no stations that set all-time cold records.” (Wunderground)

Global ocean temperatures during August were the warmest on record. In July, according to Arctic News, the oceans in the northern hemisophere exceeded 1 deg. C above the C20th average – at 1.07C a critical tipping point crossed. Oceans have absorbed over 90% of all global warming. Wunderground says: “It is virtually certain that 2019 will end among the top five warmest years in Earth’s history. This means that the six warmest years on record globally since 1880 will be the last six years—2014 through 2019.”

“Globally … on the afternoon of September 13, 2019, peak methane levels as high as 2605 ppb were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite at 586 mb.” (Arctic News) (Note: that’s nearly 400% of 1750 levels.)

The 2019 tally of billion-dollar weather disasters is 20 as of the end of August. Typhoon Lekima cost China $9.3bn; the Indian monsoon so far, $5.5bn. There have been two more billion dollar weather disasters thus far in September, including Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the Bahamas, for which no figure is yet available (Source: Aon Insurance).

Arctic sea ice extent during August 2019 was the second lowest in the 40-year satellite record, not far behind 2012. (National Snow and Ice Data Center). Ice volume, depending on thickness, is a different matter – it’s the lowest ever recorded (Paul Beckwith).

Wales, UK: This is now, believe it or not, the fifth day of almost unbroken, if hazy, wall-to-wall sunshine; although the flowers had a little blessing during the night before last. The temperature in my shady front garden currently at 13.00 is 24 deg. C. (19 Sept.) The daytime high for September in the UK averages 18C. Truly, these are the Fortunate Isles.

Update: Friday, 20 Sept. Climate strike day, the Autumn equinox and another cloudless sunny morning on the west coast. At 09.15, the thermo climbs past 17C. by 13.00 it is 25C. This is very pleasant but slightly unusual. “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”? Keats’ famous poem is 200 years old this week.

Same again tomorrow, but the forecast is for rain arriving Sunday and even thunderstorms by Monday. Phew! Saved by the bell.

There are 2.9 billion fewer birds in the U.S. and Canada now than 50 years ago — reports the New York Times.

“While some species grew, the majority declined — often by huge numbers — including traditionally abundant birds like robins and sparrows. Habitat loss, pesticides and house cats are among the likely culprits, and experts say the declines are a dire warning about the planet’s well-being.”

The Madness of King Donald…. Depression news, #1,#2,#3… Schools for scandal… GW: under my umbrella, ella… “Tunnel approaching”… The sheer irrelevance of political journalism – a short essay.

 

“Come November you’ll all be eating my snot. Its fingerpickin’ good!” (with apologies to Getty Images for nicking their stuff. I don’t get paid for this.)

Details of Operation Yellowhammer, the full horror story of the UK Government’s own predictions, released under duress from the Johnson Dark House (except that they were leaked in The Times two weeks ago) predict that within 24 hours of a No-Deal Brexit, there’ll be a 1.5-day-long backlog for goods to clear customs at Calais; and within another 24 hours we’ll be waiting so long that all the goods will have perished, supermarket shelves will be emptying, prices rocketing, and people reliant on insulin will have died.

Things can only get better.

 

The Madness of King Donald….

“A lot of people want the job. It’s a great job. It’s great because it’s a lot of fun to work for Donald Trump.”

Er…. yes. That was – Donald Trump speaking, in what’s become known as a “chopper talk” press gaggle on the WH lawn, posing in front of his airforce helicopter (that doesn’t work in the rain), explaining that he will have no trouble finding a replacement for John Bolton, the mad neocon armchair warmonger he hired last year as his third National Security advisor, and fired the other night as they appeared to agree on absolutely nothing and besides, he always hated that yellowing signature soup-strainer Bolton sports on his horsey upper lip, as it got him so much publicity.

Defending his attempt to rollback the phazing-out of energy-intensive tungsten lightbulbs, something we did in Europe about 20 years ago, Trump told a gathering it was because eco-friendlier low-energy bulbs “Always make me look orange”. This, in a speech to the Congressional Institute?

The guy has absolutely no self-awareness. The world is just an invention of his own diseased brain. A world through which he walks alone, troubled only by the shadows of the rest of us.

And then – this is the President who told another gathering this week that his wife Melania has a son – in wrapping up a rambling, delusionary and disorienting impromptu speech, he called Vice President Mike Pence: “Mike Pounds”, and then looked momentarily confused.

For God’s sake, Republican party, what the hell is wrong with you? You’re headed for oblivion with this demented old fraud in charge.

(Based on actual news clips satirized on The Late Show, 13 Sept.)

Thompson said: ‘I mean, I did get fired, but apart from that it was all smooth running.’

Double mammy: Al Johnson, as the PM might look in the age of color.

Depression news

Despite warnings from medical professionals and a number of deaths associated with the trials, Donald Trump has told his Health Department to order a vast quantity of a new, expensive, ketamine-based drug to be supplied to the Veterans Administration, for treating cases of PTSD in the military; where doctors have already advised, antidepressants can do more harm than good.

Are we to assume then that Trump “knows more about medicine than many doctors”, as he once met a doctor, or perhaps is it a case of another anonymous million-dollar donation quietly appearing in his re-election campaign war chest?

And make no mistake. Muh good friend, The Pumpkin is betting his jazz collection on Trump getting re-elected next year, if he has not been carted off with his arms folded in the meantime.

Just as, after ten years of vicious “austerity” warfare against the poorer two-thirds of the country, and as we head into a recession, the mendacious and incompetent Conservative government led by a bumbling and entitled unelected oaf, a careerist dilettante, a serial shagger and amateur racist who proposes to destroy the economy by dragging us in chaos out of the EU with nothing settled, and who has been branded a liar and a chancer by no less than former PM, David Cameron; the party selling places in the lifeboats for the rich while the rest of us drown in a sea of bubbling-hot shit, has a 12 per cent lead in the public opinion polls.

On both sides of the Atlantic, populist lunacy reigns.

 

“More than 60% of US adults hold at least one “new age” belief, such as placing faith in astrology or the power of psychics, and 42% think spiritual energy can be located in physical objects such as crystals” – Guardian report. The International Labor Organization estimates about 85,000 children work in Madagascar’s unregulated crystal mines, for the benefit of cretins like Gwyneth Paltrow and her tribe of emaciated airheads.

Depression News #2

It’s an ill-wind… “Shares in oil companies have jumped this morning, following the jump in crude prices.” (Guardian, jumping twice). Oil companies and armaments manufacturers are giving off the only signs that we’re not heading into a global recession, accompanied by a mooted US-led retaliatory strike on Iranian refineries, as all other market indices were showing red this morning.

If you were hoping to avoid a 5p rise in the unleaded price at the pumps today, you’re probably too late – althugh Trump is pumping ever harder. Aramco is now predicting it may take months to get back to full production after the drone strikes on the Abqaiq processing facility, which have interdicted half of Saudi Barbaria’s refinery output – 5% of the world’s oil supply.

Strikes for which the US has now managed to cobble together enough “intel” to suggest must have come from Iran or its proxies in Iraq, rather than from the Yemeni rebels who have claimed them.

Pundits now fear rising oil prices could be just the thing to kick off a global recession; while US banks – free once again to trade in dodgy debt-swaps with shareholder immunity risking only their depositors’ savings – could be even more just the thing to trigger another 2007-style lending crisis and a consequent depression, from which there might be no escape this time. The ECB and the Fed have already got the printing presses smoking hot and interest rates set below zero, but will it be enough?

Buckle up.

I keep saying that, don’t I? Yawn.

 

Depression News #3: “We can’t be sure…” etc.

“…if anything is masked by dimming, it’s the BBC”.

In an online story today, the good ole BBC carries a series of interviews with climate scientists including former UK chief scientist, David King.

All of them admit straight away, they’re scared. It’s all getting out of hand. Extreme weather events are coming thick and fast. They’re becoming more extreme, at an unpredicted rate.

But… we can’t be sure that any one event is linked to climate change!

Why does the BBC keep on parroting this sanitizing mantra? What actual relevance does making individual connections have, when joining the dots is scaring the pants off the people who know?

“Dr Friederike Otto from Oxford University is an expert in the attribution of extreme events to climate change. (So’s your Old Gran. It just comes natural, like…) She told us that in a pre-climate change world, a heatwave like this (France, June and July 2019, 46 and 43 deg. C) might strike once in 1,000 years. ‘In a post-warming world, the heatwave was a one-in-a-100 year phenomenon.’ (I know, that’s twice in one year! and they had Lucifer in 2017, and another one last year, 15 thousand heat deaths in 2003. But carry on, Dr Expert.) ‘In other words, natural variability is amplifying human-induced climate heating. (No, it’s the other way around!) With European heatwaves, we have realised that climate change is a total game-changer,’ she said.” Indeed. Good experting there, Dr Otto. I’m sure you know, it’s not a game.

But…  “it was impossible to be sure that the slow progress of Dorian was caused by climate change”. Oh, really? We know what the meteorological mechanisms are for the slowing forward progress, the more rapid intensification and increasing moisture-content of hurricanes. And it’s not just Dorian, it’s pretty well all of them now. Harvey? Florence? Michael? Idai? Kenneth? The Terrible Twins, Lekima and Krosa?

The Terrible Twins: Lekima and Krosa.

We know the climate is warming. And we know that all weather events are (and were always) the product of Earth’s climate.

Where’s the difficulty then in assuming that events that are more unusual and more extreme and more frequent than the norm are the obvious products of a changing climate – an overheating world?

Oh, but, says the top UN climate science guy, we don’t want to frighten the children!

Why the fuck do you think the children are striking and marching and demonstrating? It’s because they’re trying to frighten you! Why not listen to them?

And do stop telling us the world has warmed by “1 degree”! When you start from pre-industrial 1750 rather than 1880 you’re looking at 1.85 degrees already. Adjusting other variables as the scientists at Arctic News have been doing (admittedly controversially) brings us to nearer 3 degrees, but masked by the aerosol effect known as “global dimming” we can go on pretending if you like.

Your Old Gran has made the point many times before: if anything is masked by dimming, it’s the BBC.

 

“Two climate crisis protesters who removed Emmanuel Macron’s portrait from an official building were justified in doing so because of the severity of the environmental emergency, a judge has said. ​The ​judge in Lyon acquitted the pair of theft in a ruling hailed as historic by campaigners.” (Guardian)

And we want to leave the European Union?

Schools for scandal

“Each time a school becomes an academy the council must hand over the title deeds for the school if it has them (avg value £5m per school). As over 2,000 schools have been forced to become academies that is £10 billion (min) state assets (of which) Michael Gove has demanded the title deeds be handed to him.”

Legal fees involved in this incredible scam, uncovered five years ago by Michael Rosen, the “Childrens’ Laureate” at the time, amounted to another £50 million – all funded by the taxpayer.

Rosen’s attempts in 2014 to discover who now owned the title deeds make for even more shocking reading: a FOI request backed, in the face of unlawful prevarication, by a court order eventually revealed, there were no paper records or any form of traceable audit of the transfers of £10 billion in titles to formerly public buildings and land to the governors of the new schools, many of them Conservative party notables.

Gove, he adds, secretly set up a private company to process the deeds. But the money itself could not be traced. He later changed the law so that academies – unlike every other charity in the land – don’t have to publish accounts. Anyone “associated with the school” can now own the deeds, and even trade or sell them on; while the Government funds the payment of extortionate rents on the school properties to the new private “owners”.

The deeds have, in effect, been converted to a traded bond currency with no IFA oversight: “dark money”. While the “shareholders” of these new private school companies are indemnified at the public expense. THese are valuable public assets that have in effect been stolen by the state, and the money redistributed to private individuals.

Thus much of the money has ended up invested in offshore tax shelters and has been denied to the rest of our crumbling education system. As indeed, the schools were formerly in local authority ownership; while, as we know, local services – libraries, social care, housing, children’s services, “meals-on-wheels”, policing – pothole filling – have all been slashed to the marrow, thanks to the austerity measures imposed on us by this sickening bunch of rentier prostitutes, the Conservative party and its successive, failed governments.

Why this scandal is not better known, why the public has not burned down Parliament, I do not know. It is exactly the same system as was exploited by Vladimir Putin to vastly enrich his coterie of thuggish “oligarchs” in the new Russia, through the supra-legal disposals of holdings in formerly public companies; making himself probably the richest man in the world in the process. (He is believed to be worth twice as much as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.)

I learned about the scandal only today, from a link provided in a Comment on a Guardian piece reminding us how terrible Gove was as Education Secretary: principally, as evidenced by his cynical removal of classes covering civics, politics, contemporary history – and any mention of the EU – from the national curriculum, thus possibly explaining why there is so little resistance to Tory propaganda; so little interest in politics, or the EU, that the people can be easily bullied and manipulated into voting 180 degrees against their own interest.

It turns out, therefore, that in addition to being a duplicitous little shit, Gove is also very probably a criminal.

Would somebody please move for the arrest and trial of this mendacious little pox-doctor, on charges of conspiracy to defraud the public purse, and of misconduct while in office? Throw open the windows and let a little light and air in on his furtive activities? Whatever else by way of treacherous deception he might have engineered while nobody was looking?

And please Sir, can we have our education system back? No Tory government should be allowed within a mile of the school gates, they’re nothing but a bunch of economic perverts and ignorance pushers.

Thanks.

http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/gove-nicked-our-schools-and-handed-them.html

 

GW: under my umbrella, ella

Parts of eastern Spain received what in some places was their heaviest rainfall on record on Thursday, 12 Sept., with severe flash-flooding, as storms wreaked (wrought?) widespread destruction and killed at least 4 people. The regional emergency service said a 51-year-old woman and her 61-year-old brother had been found dead in an overturned car in Caudete. 2 other motorists drowned in Almeria and Granada. The town of Ontinyent in Valencia had recorded more than 400mm (16-in.) rainfall by Thursday afternoon. The Clariano river rose 9 meters (30ft) in 2 hours. Regional airports were closed. (Guardian)

Bahamas: Tropical storm warnings have been issued for the northwestern Bahamas, including Grand Bahama Island. Disturbance 95L became Potential Tropical Cyclone 9 on Thursday afternoon and follows Cat. 5 Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the northern Bahamas last week (1,300 still recorded as missing.) If this system were to become a tropical storm, it would be called Humberto. As of 2 a.m. EDT Friday (13 Sept.), the center of the system was about 210 miles southeast of Great Abaco Island with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. and potential to bring 300mm (15-in.) of rain (Accuweather) Behind it, a second disturbance has formed a disorganized system moving westwards out of the Cape Verde islands towards the Lesser Antilles, and stands a good chance of developing, monitors report.

Monday update: Strengthening hurricane, Humberto brushed by the Bahamas and then took a huge swing northeastwards, away from the Americas and out into the Atlantic. Bermuda is on standby. Watch out Portugal, or us, next week.

Brazil: Coffee lovers should consider stocking up on beans. Accuweather reports on market jitters, as: “the key coffee-growing region of Minas Gerais in Brazil has not had significant rain in three months. Average temperatures have been a whopping 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, and average precipitation has been 57% below normal since June 1.” No rain is in the forecast for the next three weeks.

USA: As powerful storms continue to batter the Midwest, September 2018 to August 2019 was again the wettest 12-month stretch on record for the contiguous United States as a whole. March and July were the only months that were slightly drier than average, but still maintained the year-on-year record. The top five wettest Jan-Aug periods have all occurred since 1979. (Wunderground, from where the NOAA graph below, showing rapid intensification, is also taken.)

Precipitation totals for 12-month spans from September to the following August, going back to 1895

The floppy jetstream is once again plunging southwards, as far as southern California – 100F degree temperatures around Sacramento are likely to be in the 60s by early this week, a new storm system is moving in and there’s a snow forecast for higher elevations. Tropical Storm Humberto has triggered storm warnings for Florida’s east coast. (Accuweather) Behind Humberto, “Imelda” (as yet only an unnamed depression) is forming off the Cape Verde islands.

Accuweather reports, Monday 16th: “Residents (in South Dakota) are facing record-breaking flooding as the Big Sioux River continues to rise. The National Weather Service said recently, that almost a foot of rain fell near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, over the course of two days. Multiple rivers and creeks surpassed previous water level records.”

Arctic: Prof. Beckwith’s latest podcast causes some puzzlement. While it’s clear from satellite scans that practically all the multi-year thick ice north of 60 deg. is gone, and there are still millions of square km of clear water around the outer edges of the ocean that weren’t there in Augusts past, it appears that the overall extent of sea ice that had been falling all summer in line with 2012’s record collapse had begun by mid-August to level off; although it’s thin and mushy. Despite record air temperatures, as the sun’s obliquity grows with the onset of winter, surface melting appeared to slow down early, although sub-surface melting continues for some weeks after, as the water beneath remains warm. No-one is quite sure why: aerosol masking from fires is one theory, fresh meltwater from Greenland another. So it looks like we won’t be getting the dreaded “blue water” event this year; but we’re still skating on thin ice.

UK – Wales: A Google search reveals the factoid that the average daily September temperature in the UK is 16.8C, with an average high of 18C. Happily then, in the shade of the enormous Photinia in my front garden, we hit 23.2 degrees at about 2 p.m. this fine, sunny – if still somewhat hazy – afternoon (13 Sept.); and 23.5 the next day. Truly, these are the Fortunate Isles!

World’s largest permafrost river, the Lena at Yakutsk dries to a record low, preventing winter supplies reaching outlying settlements. (Siberian Times)

Tunnel approaching….

“40% of the UK’s food is imported,” notes a parliamentary report. In the very near future, the Environmental Audit Committee says, “people would be at risk from sudden lurches in food prices if a no-deal Brexit resulted in trouble with imports, including higher costs, delays and shortages. Beyond the immediate effects of Brexit, the climate emergency and changing trade relationships may put the British diet in jeopardy.” The committee has called for urgent action to improve resilience, including water rationing, greater diversity in farming and a campaign against food waste.

Mary Creagh, the chair of the committee, said: “We are facing a food security crisis.”

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/17/uk-fresh-food-imports-areas-at-risk-climate-crisis-mps-warn

Meanwhile, the Department for Farming and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, has confirmed we are expecting the first case of African Swine Fever in Britain “within 12 months”. It’s already prevalent in eastern Europe. China has had to slaughter over a million pigs already and has dropped its tariffs against US pork producers to guarantee supply. China consumes half the world’s production, but the country expects to have to cull another 250 million pigs to try to contain the outbreak of what is being described as potentially the world’s worst ever animal disease pandemic. World prices are rising.

…a short essay

“Denialism comes riding on My Little Pony.”

The sheer irrelevance of political journalism

I keep abandoning halfway through, long, thoughtful, worried articles in the kind of liberal press I tend to read, giving tendentious political analysis – Brexit, the Farage party, Johnson, Cummings, shutting down Parliament, whither democracy and the political system?, civil discourse, globalism, Orban, Salvini, street violence, treason, hedge funds, Nazis, Twitter rants, Trump’s chaotic foreign policy, left, right – the rule of law.

Not one of them betrays the slightest awareness of the parallel climate crisis that is hurling itself upon us with ever-increasing velocity, violence – and expense. Not one appears to be aware that an extinction event is already far advanced, of mammalian species, that unfortunately now includes the human race; and that this is a political, as well as a scientific and geophysical conundrum: not, can we now prevent?, but how are we going to manage our own extinction?

Not one journalist seems to understand the connection: that, whatever political systems are in place five years from now, our “leaders” will have to grapple with issues humanity has not had to face in the last 13 thousand years, at least since the cosmic collision event that extincted the northern megafauna – and nearly us too; nor are the “leaders” seemingly capable of factoring those issues into their self-obsessed, narrow-minded, anachronistic ideologies.

It is as if politics and the environment are entirely separate issues proceeding on parallel tracks, with a high wall between.

The author and New York Times contributor, Jonathan Franzen – an expert amateur ornithologist, by the way, who travels the world in search of rare birds, has written a polemic in which he concludes, there is no way out of the situation we have gotten ourselves into.

And a silly little girl claiming to be a “climate scientist”, Kate Marvel writes a reply in the Scientific American, telling Franzen to “shut up”.

After several paragraphs describing the situation exactly as it is: fossil fuel overdependency, feedbacks kicking in, non-linear warming, ice vanishing, levels of CO2 in the amosphere unknown during the 2 million years humans have existed, environmental degradation, etcetera, etcetera, she writes – believe it or not: “I am a scientist, which means I believe in miracles.”

It is gobsmacking stuff. Denialism comes riding on My Little Pony.

That’s the childish, panic-stricken, self-censoring level to which – I won’t call it a debate – scientific discourse has sunk. Franzen’s view is soundly supported by numerous serious scientists, many of whom are being “shut up” by the vested interests for whom truth is an elastic polymer. None, so far as I know, is offering us a “miracle”.

Even where mainstream media journalists do crossover from their political navel-gazing into quasi-scientific environmentalism, not one seems fully apprised of the depth of the hot shit we are now swimming in, or prepared to peer into the abyss. Twelve years, according to the IPCC? Don’t be so fucking naive, we were given 12 years by the UN in 1989!

I could name you all, you sober and sensible political journalists with your furrowed concern for the future of democracy, but why bother? You know who you are. Just wake up and look around, you self-absorbed, incurious boobies.

The totalitarianism and exclusionary nativism you see rising all around us are the direct consequence of a universal but unspoken consciousness that we are fast approaching the end time. We face a fascist-style, dictatorial future, only because kleptocratic authoritarianism is the natural political response to looming dystopian chaos, the collapse of the civilized postwar consensus in which some – for a time – will win, and the rest of us will unfortunately be left to perish.

Populist totalitarianism and exclusionary nativism are – literally – the zeitgeist.

Is it the answer you want?

Then try asking the question. Earn your money.

And now I’ll shut up.

The Pumpkin – Issue 98: Let us celebrate John Bolton Day, 10 September annually, when we burn him and his noxious mustache in effigy…When will they ever learn?… Johnson: there’s no explaining it. Or is there?…GW: Still thinning on the top…

 

Quote of the week:

twitter.com/IamHappyToast/status/1171050051860422657

 

Boris Johnson (right) opening the guestbook at the page signed by Donald Trump and his wife Melania before holding talks with Leo Varadkar (centre) at Government buildings in Dublin

“Oh look, it’s Sharpie and Harpie!”

Johnson finds the Trumps got to Ireland before him (and complained about the bedbugs).

 

Let us celebrate John Bolton Day, 10 September annually, when we burn him and his noxious mustache in effigy

Bolton has, he says, quit his position as President Trump’s National Security Advisor, after a row with the thin-skinned, permatanned one over being sidelined over talks with the Taliban.

His account doesn’t quite square with the White House’s, that Trump fired him, but the effect is the same. Many people are joyfully hailing the possibility that Trump’s next pick might be a less irascibly Irish, more peaceable fellow with fewer instincts for regime change and imposing US-style democracy on the world by force of arms.

(US media count eight wars prosecuted with Bolton’s involvement.)

Trump announced just days ago that he had cancelled peace talks with the Taliban, due to be held at Camp David, following another onslaught by Taliban forces that killed lots of Afghan civilians. Bolton’s astonished response indicated that Trump had kept him out of the loop.

But in addition to not wanting a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, the mustachioed one also opposed Trump’s famous nuclear deal with North Korea (that hasn’t quite yet happened) and attempts to renegotiate the perfectly sound Obama-signed deal Trump abrogated with Iran, where Bolton made no secret of wanting to invade.* Trump is also concerned that Bolton is advocating replacing Venezuela’s President Maduro by force.

As usual, he learned of his fate by tweet. Trump is a terrible coward when it comes to firing people face-to-face. Especially that face.

For some reason, oil prices fell on the news.

*Secretary of State, Mike “two lunches in a suit” Pompeo is today trying to spin an attack by drones flown by Yemeni rebels on a key Saudi Barbarian oilfield as having been perpetrated directly by Iran. These people will never give up their insane ambition for US business to conquer the planet.

 

When will they ever learn?

This is the story roughly as told by a US online news comment show, TYT Nation, which has an inaudibly adenoidal and slow-minded presenter. I hope the details are correct.

So. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump convinced the voters of key swing-state Wisconsin and its controversial Republican governor, Scott Walker, that he’d done a $4.5 billion sweetheart tax deal with Chinese electronics giant, Foxconn, to build a huge plant that would, by 2022, employ 13 thousand of the state’s great workers.

Everyone took him at his word.

Foxconn is known principally for manufacturing iPhones on contract to Apple – and for its notorious addition of anti-suicide netting to its factory rooftops in China after a spate of migrant workers reportedly threw themselves off while suffering depression after being made to work many illegal extra hours for no extra pay, often sleeping at their workstations, inhaling toxic chemicals, while far from home and warehoused on-site in vast, impersonal dormitories.

Things seemed to be moving ahead when demands to purchase land (including residential homes) went out from the state authorities, residents being threatened with compulsory removal without compensation if they refused to sell (known in the US as “eminent domain”, where the government deems there to be a strategic necessity and is empowered to seize property). 75 homes were thus bulldozed, families forced out, and a large site cleared for buildings and an access road, that have yet to be built.

Indeed, construction has not yet started, and very probably never will be.

Because Trump’s deal never existed. It was a scam, so it appears.

In the meantime, Foxconn had opened a small plant employing just 60 people, of whom 15 – unpaid interns – were almost immediately let go because there was no work for them to do. (That was my first “work experience” too, being fired for no reason, age 16! UB.) $7 million had been spent on a campaign to recruit workers from out of state, as the necessary skills didn’t exist locally among the “great” workers of Wisconsin.

Since when, Trump has imposed swingeing trade tariffs on China, sanctioned the equally giant Huawei electronics company (bullying Google to stop supporting its Android apps on Huawei cellphones and attempting to prevent foreign countries from incorporating Huawei-supplied components in 5G networks), imprisoned one of its senior executives on possibly Trumped-up copyright theft charges, and the Foxconn deal has apparently gone sour – if it ever properly existed, there seemingly being no signed contract committing them to deliver anything.

So much for the Great Deal Maker. So much for “America First!” – the deal benefitted only the Chinese, but does he care? He got the votes.

Maybe not next time.

And maybe Congress, desperately running to catch up to Trump’s astonishing record of emoluments violations which he continues to indulge (and deny!) while in office, visibly enriching himself and his family at public expense, could start looking into his and Kushner’s relationships with Chinese banks, to see how such sweetheart deals might improve their position of chronic indebtedness with these state-owned entities.

“When will they ever learn?” As Marlene Dietrich so poignantly sang.

(Report: TYT Nation, citing Bloomberg and others)

 

A French company has been found liable for the death of an employee who had a cardiac arrest while having sex with a stranger on a business trip. A Paris court ruled that his death was an industrial accident and that the family was entitled to compensation. (BBC)

And we want to leave the EU?

 

Time to end it, #11,947

Late of RT-USA, Thom Hartmann is one of the more sober, centre-left, articulate and extremely well-informed of the many independent online podcasters – forgive me, I’m uncertain of the terminology. Vloggers? – found in 15-minute clips on YouTube.

In a thoughtful piece, he reminds us that the increasing public acceptance of corruption in high places is destroying the country – and Trump didn’t invent it. Nixon, Reagan and George HW Bush all had their own corruption scandals hushed-up, that nobody talks about. As of course did Clinton, although he got impeached for lying.

However, unless the Congress is willing to call Trump out for what he is, and importantly also make an example of his many corrupt officials and enablers, future presidents will think themselves at liberty to behave even more irresponsibly.

It’s worth a watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTUcvDy625U

While over on CNN even Anthony Scaramucci, the excitable, cocky, potty-mouthed little New York “investment manager” who lasted ten days as Trump’s Head of Communications during which he appeared to go crazy with power, is now quietly and soberly and articulately proposing that the Republican party has to overcome its fear of the office, put up some credible opposition in the primaries, and quietly remove Trump on medical/psychiatric grounds, as the President is clearly unwell and lying insanely through his ill-fitting teeth about absolutely everything.

Surely to God, when the President of the United States becomes so completely obsessed with proving he didn’t make a silly mistake over a goddam weather forecast that he crudely (and illegally) fakes an official map, and when even his Commerce Secretary and his Head of Staff get dragged into the row, when threats are made of senior meteorological heads rolling for failing to protect him, the “Is it time to question his mental competence?” headline must now gain some traction, finally, after three years of this seemingly never-ending lunacy?

 

Global laundromat

According to US historian Lamar Waldron, President Nixon would receive money from foreign potentates to influence US policy, for his “re-election fund”, and would put the money on deposit with a crooked bank run by his friend, Bebe Rebozo.

At one stage, says Waldron, as a means of turning the capital into completely untraceable cash income, the two men actually bought a coin-operated laundry business in Florida.

 

Where are they now? #147

“Business dealings between US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and wealthy Malaysian developer Tiah Joo Kim, are being investigated by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, CNN reported. Quoting a former and a current US official, CNN reported that the FBI is scrutinising the negotiations and financing surrounding the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver. The US$360 million Trump tower was developed by the 37-year-old Tiah, the son of tycoon Tony Tiah Thee Kian.” (Straits Times, 4 Mar., 2018.)

And…..?

Well, there was a hint of an insinuation in US media at the time that Trump may have been looking for reasons to move his beloved daughter and Plastic Ken out of the White House, where he found them an irritating distraction from his autocratic project. He really doesn’t like being told what to do. And sundry reports of the business model followed by Trump Org. might suggest a possibility of money laundering, although a cursory check shows Kim seems sound enough, for a Malaysian businessman.

Still, as with so many other matters Trumpian under investigation that the national blanket of amnesia seems to have gently fallen over since 2017, it would be nice to know what happened, after 18 months.

Indeed, what has happened to that other FBI inquiry, also floated by the Straits Times, into allegations that money from the £4.5 billion MDB1 sovereign wealth fund scam ended up in Trump’s SuperPAC, while his buddy, Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy, was allegedly trying to shakedown one of the prime suspects for $73 million, to make the investigation go away?

Could we not be told before the Orange One gets re-elected, maybe?

 

Johnson: there’s no explaining it. Or is there?

Despite:

  • losing his first six votes in the Commons as Prime Minister,
  • abandoning his wife to face surgeries for cervical cancer* and running off with a much younger woman,
  • being outed as a drunken domestic abuser,
  • making increasingly incoherent and rambling speeches,
  • insulting other European leaders, women and minorities,
  • firing 21 members of his own party for ‘disloyalty’,
  • making even Corbyn look good at Prime Minister’s Questions,
  • having no plan to exit the EU by 31 October despite pretending he has,
  • being under the malign control of a monstrous egomaniacal psychopath,
  • having shut down Parliament for 5 weeks to avoid having to ask for an extension to Article 50,
  • refusing to allow staff and aides to surrender evidence of collusion over his No-Deal strategy,
  • threatening to ignore the law that says he can’t leave the EU without a deal or an election, putting himself at risk of imprisonment,
  • conning the Queen into conspiring in an illegal prorogation of Parliament,

…and after even his own brother has resigned the Tory whip – along with other serving ministers who can no longer stomach his lies, laziness, incompetence and grand delusions –

Boris Johnson still has a lead in the polls.

“Still, ‘e’s jolly entertaining. Remember ‘im on TV? Cor blimey, ‘e were funny! ‘e’ll teach them garlic-munchin’ sausage eaters a fing or two abart good old British spunk!”

Yes, it’s the 80th anniversary of the start of the years when plucky little Britain stood alone against the ravening might of the European Nazi horde. And by God, if Brussels wants to rule the waves, we’ll do it again! Winston Johnson is the man for our times! (Even if he has sacked @realWinston’s grandson.)

Heil Boris!

*Any woman who has had unprotected sex with Johnson should go for screening immediately, as male partners may carry the Human Papilloma virus, believed to be a common cause of cervical cancer.

 

GW: Still thinning on the top

France: According to the Ministry of Health, 567 people died from proximate causes during France’s first heatwave this year, from 24 June to 7 July. A further 868 died during the second from 21 to 27 July. France recorded its highest-ever temperature of 46C (114.8F) in June. (BBC) Extra precautions this time prevented the much greater loss of life – 15 thousand – experienced in the heatwave of 2003. Over half this year’s victims were 75+; 10 died while at work.

Japan: “A powerful typhoon in Japan has left more than 100 flights canceled, thousands of travelers stranded at the airport, and nearly 1 million households without power. Typhoon Faxai, which made landfall early Monday morning in the coastal city of Chiba, brought heavy rain and winds of 128 miles per hour, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.” The storm then moved over Tokyo where it paralyzed public transport, stranding thousands of commuters. (CNN). 3 people are known to have died. More storms are forecast, with 30+ degrees C. and 80 per cent humidity for Rugby teams to contend with, as they gather in training camps in advance of the World Cup.

The verdict: “Cat 4, weakening to 3, Faxai was the strongest typhoon to hit Tokyo in recorded history. “Though the storm is now heading out to sea, strong winds and heavy rainfall are still affecting the west coast of the country. The Foreign Office has put out some official travel advice for rugby fans looking to head to Japan. ‘Strong winds and heavy rainfall are expected,’ they say, ‘with potential disruption to transport and other essential services.'” (The i)

Korea: “Typhoon Lingling passed over the Korean peninsula 8 Sept., leaving 5 dead and 460 houses damaged or destroyed in North Korea, according to state media. The storm flooded 460 sq km (178 sq miles) of farmland, the official KCNA news agency said, in a country already suffering food shortages.” Lingling earlier killed 3 people in South Korea, including an elderly woman picked up by the wind and slammed headfirst into a wall. (BBC)

Cambodia: 7 people have died in recent floods, which have displaced 7 thousand families and inundated thousands of homes. Flooding has also caused severe damage to crops and livestock. Rivers continue to rise. Further heavy rain is expected. (Floodlist)

Australia: More than 80 fires have been burning for days on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Guardian Australia reports, some 20 properties have been destroyed and another 27 have been damaged since the bushfire crisis began on Thursday, including the historic Binna Burra Lodge. The ruins of the lodge, one of the oldest nature-based resorts in Australia, are surrounded by blackened remnants of what used to be lush Gondwana (primeval) rainforest in the UN heritage Lamington National Park.

The minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said he “doesn’t know” if climate change is man-made, and it’s not important – as long as Australia continues to produce “high quality” energy from coal. The Environment minister, a woman of some kind, equally pig-ignorant, has rallied to his support.

Granny Weatherwax comments bitterly: The world has more than its share of tenth-rate, moronic, venal or corrupt liars, ecocidal criminals careless of the now unavoidable fate of humankind and the truncated lives of their own children, greedy for money and a little transient power. Why do so many of them have to end up working as politicians? And in Australia?

New Zealand: Heavy rain on 10 Sept. prompted evacuations and caused flooding and landslips in the Coromandel Peninsula. 260mm fell in 24 hours. A local civil defense manager commented: “Although we saw the rain coming, it was twice as intense as we were advised.” (Floodlist)

West Africa: Floods continue to spread across Nigeria. In Niger, the death toll from last week’s flooding has risen to 57. Flooding in Chad and Mali has displaced hundreds of families. Several other countries are affected. The UN is talking of a humanitarian crisis. At least 7 people have died in a landslide in southern Ethiopia. The disaster occurred after heavy rain during the afternoon of 07 Sept. (Floodlist)

USA: Accuweather reports: There are dozens of active wildfires in the western U.S. from California to Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. The Walker Fire, burning in the Plumas National Forest in Northern California has consumed more than 44,000 acres and was only 10% contained as of Tuesday morning. Temperatures are forecast to climb back to and above seasonable levels later this week and into this weekend.

Yes, it’s been a bit cooler in the West the last few days. So much so, that several inches of snow have fallen in Utah….

Meanwhile for a swathe of the Midwest from Kansas through to Minnesota, guess what? That’s right! Hail, torrential rain, flash flooding, tornadoes, damaging winds…. No such thing as climate change. Not happening. 3x T-2 tornadoes that touched down in Sioux Falls, S. Dakota on 11 Sept. left a shopping district in shambles, downed power lines and caused severe damage to a hospital. (Accuweather)

Mid-Pacific, Hawaii posted its hottest summer on record. Data for a handful of specific sites—Honolulu, Hilo, Lihue, and Kahului—reports Weather Underground, make a strong case that this summer’s heat across Hawaii has been unprecedented, setting many new records both high and highest low.

Oh, and don’t tell Trump – “A tropical wave festering near the Southeast Bahamas may gradually organize as it heads toward Florida and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.”

Turkey: For some reason, we missed – oh, I remember, your Gran was away – torrential rain and severe flash flooding in Istanbul on 17 Aug. Some parts had 100mm rain in a few hours. Anyway, back in the Mediterranean, more torrential rainfall with potential for widespread flash flooding is the forecast for the rest of the week for Spain and the western Med. 11 Sept. And we’re talking up to half a meter of rain in places. (Severe-weather.eu)

Arctic: Watching the BBC Weather forecast for the week, I suppose it’s no surprise forecaster Darren Betts concentrates on remnant Dorian and remnant TS Gabrielle bringing wind and rain – and then warming temperatures, followed by high pressure – to the Fortunate Isles by the weekend. As your Gran has often observed, however, it’s what’s going on over his left shoulder that’s of more interest.

A massive wave of warm, tropical air preceding what look like two more cyclones is shoving up past Iceland into the Arctic, where 17 September is the annual peak day for summer ice loss – already at a record low volume. Arctic News reports, 9 Sept., current air temperatures across the polar region at 4.41C over the 1880-1920 (?) global average and sea surface temperatures off Svalbard at 15.2C above the 1981-2011 average.

Mean global methane levels (720 ppb in 1750) were as high as 1911 ppb on the morning of 3 Sept. Methane is increasing faster than CO2 and up to 150 times more damaging. The “Sam Carana” editorial team is still betting on an extinction-level 5C global rise by 2026 and fretting that it will include enough methane to trigger the loss of reflective marine stratocumulus cloud, leading to an additional 8C of warming. (Arctic News)

Antarctic: A possibly unprecedented, sudden warming of the stratosphere over Antarctica, with temperatures an alarming 40C above normal, reveals just how complex climate science can get. Because, the effect is to push cold air at lower altitudes out sideways: thus large parts of Australia will see its already record-hot Spring temperatures plummet to a wintery 10C below-normal anomaly next week, lowering the risk of more wildfires – while the heat in the stratosphere will also have the effect of preventing the chemical reactions that cause the annual widening of the as-yet unrepaired hole in the ozone layer, actually helping to shrink it (and thus reduce damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the ground). (extreme-weather.eu)

It’s an ill-wind, as they say.

Tunnel approaching….

Fukushima: The Tokyo Electric Power company responsible for cleaning up the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear facility where three reactors melted down after the 2011 tsunami, has said it is running out of storage space for over a million tonnes of radioactive coolant it has been only partly successful in decontaminating, and will need to start emptying it untreated into the Pacific by 2022. Local fishermen are protesting.

Bahamas: While government figures are still claiming the death toll from Hurricane Dorian is just 45, local media are speculating that 3 thousand or more may have died. Officially, 2,500 are missing (12 Sept.) Geographer and climate change activist, Prof. Paul Beckwith has looked at the numbers and estimates on the basis of local eyewitness accounts, population distribution, figures for missing, how many people may have left the island in time and the impact of the storm seen in photographs, that the final toll could be as high as 40 thousand.

Iceland: volcano watchers are monitoring a build-up of pressure in the Grimsvoten volcanic field under the huge Vanajökull glacier in anticipation of a major eruption. “The trend has increased lately, and with stronger earthquakes and more pressure in the volcano, it is possible for Grimsvotn to erupt within the next 4-12 months.” say the experts. They don’t know which volcano might blow, but bets are on Hekla, the most frequent eruptor. (Severe-weather.eu)

Human extinction: John Doyle is the EU’s director of Policy Outreach and International Affairs. He gives a scary presentation in a video recorded at a recent symposium for UN aid agencies, available for now on the Arctic News website, in which he confirms the little publicized diagnosis of climate scientists that we are looking down the barrel of a planet-killing 10 deg. C of warming within the next “20 to 30 years”.

To get there, he notes, we have to pass 4 degrees, and that’s curtains for most of the human race. Food yields, he points out, are already plummeting due to climate change; parts of the world have already become almost uninhabitable due to excessive “wetbulb” temperatures. Vertebrate species and insect populations have collapsed. Forests are burning. And there is no “unless…” – no technological solution is on the horizon and one becomes even less likely as we try to retreat from fossil fuels, effectively ending global action. We have done this to ourselves.

“Most of you will be here at the end”, he concludes.

http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/

A new BogPo emerging: Trapped in the work ethic… “Appointments Co-Ordinator”: The Angel of Death… Trump’s weird weather balloon continues to inflate… GW: It’s a hard rain’s gonna fall

Revolting Quote of the Week (Look away now…)

“Perhaps Iain Duncan Smith would be caught scraping wax out of his own ears and spreading it on a Jacob’s Cracker; or licking his own belly-button fluff off a stick as if it were fairground candyfloss; or sprinkling dried smegma flakes from beneath his foreskin on to a strawberry ice cream and saying: ‘Yum! Yum! I love eating smegma!’ Everyone will have the food they need.” – Stewart Lee in The Observer, 8 Sept., after former Tory leader and chief architect of the New Poverty, Smarmy Duncan Cunt was caught on camera in the Commons, picking his nose and eating the bogeys.

 

Trapped in the work ethic

There’s an excellent dissection of modern-day society on Open Democracy today (pub. 5 Sept.). Phil Jones writes on Millennials’ obsession with “Brand You” – the neurotic pursuit of “employability” that occupies so much of people’s leisure time – and, indeed, of their working time, as they concentrate on finding the next job, and the next.

“If work/life balance feels like a bad joke, the need to market oneself is even worse – a joke that goes on forever, never to deliver. Needless to say, the joke is on us as we spend our lives working ever-more to receive ever less.”

Jones regards it as a mental health crisis.

Actually, I’ve always thought that the universal activity of looking around for better opportunities is one of the more agreeable diversions from work, and probably one of the primary causes of our woeful lack of productivity in Britain: an economy shivering through an unending winter of employee discontent.

Your Uncle Bogler is no millennial, except in the sense that sometimes he feels like a thousand years old. But he regards himself as having often been years ahead of the game. He thinks back to his last job, and the one before that, and the ones even before those, as times of obsessively reinventing himself through successive redraftings of his CV – this was mostly before lInkedIn and Instagram and all the rest of it. “Brand You” was always “Brand Me”.

So maybe it’s not such a new thing. Because 30, even 40 years ago I always felt the need to move on was the ideal form of progress. And, having milked every employer I ever had of more and more responsibility, always working silly hours way beyond my job description, never feeling sufficiently rewarded for it, it wasn’t long before I would start looking around for something more interesting to do.

Every so often I would go off for a while and employ myself, although I was my own worst manager and employer, always hopeless at structuring my time, doing accounts, finding business, networking and the social politics of being preferred for jobs I could do standing on my head, over reassuring Yes-men. It was always a great relief to get off that merry-go-round horse and hop onto a passing ride; a dodgem car, or the ghost train.

Indeed, after what? seven years! of retirement, I still wake up every day wondering where my next career move is going to come from.

Seventy, as they say, is the new 50, and finding work at 50 was hard enough. Nobody wants to hire someone afresh at the peak of their powers, there’s always a suspicion, isn’t there, that if you’re looking to get hired at 50 there must be something wrong with you; and, if hired, you’re probably thinking you can run the place a lot better than the insecure twenty-somethings blundering about in charge, which of course they won’t appreciate.

I didn’t. But having been given my own department to run, a budget and a free hand with hiring and scheduling, even at the callow age of 24 I didn’t make the mistake of not hiring more experienced people than myself to deputize, more than to do the actual nuts and bolts work; making up for the gaps in my knowledge and providing reassurance to the directors.

I made sure some of them got paid more than I did. Some of them were even women! And yet there was never any question who was running the show: it ran on my probably lunatic ideas (it’s called “innovation”), my energy, my hours, my creative imagination, my (well-regarded) precocious, professional input. I endeavored to induce a sense of co-operation – collegialism, rather than the tired cliche of “teamwork”, that absurd militaristic or sporting trope, the fallback of too many workplaces run by managers trained, rather than educated.

It’s an attitude I can pride myself on, and with me free to concentrate on my own contributions to the end-product, rather than constantly having to keep an eye on the personnel (except in one egregious case, of one serial responsibility-evader – he was the annoying baby of the team), we rapidly earned the envy and hatred of our competitors, as well as higher ratings, which I regarded then as the mark of success.

Few people, I imagine, get the chance to do that sort of thing nowadays. I won’t go shelf-stacking in Morrison’s because of it. Five minutes into the job and I’d almost certainly be thinking of the Manager much as one might contemplate the promising intellect of a primate in a zoo, adept at winkling its earwax out with a stick, wondering why Head Office was so willing to put up with the glaring inefficiencies and sheer gutlessness of its regional systems, its risk-aversion, and – privately seething with discontent at the massive discrepancy in our relative rewards – itching to move on.

It’s not a good look, as we corporatists say nowadays.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/brand-you-how-employability-came-dominate-our-lives/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=92c44be1e6-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-92c44be1e6-408090269

 

Trump’s weird weather balloon continues to inflate

The bizarre story of how Trump has been defending, like an oversexed terrier clamped to your leg, his mistaken warning that Alabama was going to be hit by Hurricane Dorian, took an even weirder turn tonight when someone at NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric  Administration, issued a statement confirming that Trump had been correct, and that Alabama had been on the track list – albeit briefly – for 12 hours.

The Trump-affirming statement appeared to contradict the opinions of NOAA’s own scientists.

Trump called the press to the Oval Office on Wenesday and showed them a map that had obviously been doctored by someone, a person widely believed to be the 4-year-old child calling itself the 45th President of the United States of America, Commander-in-Chief of US forces and Leader of the Free World, by drawing an erratic extra bulge on a very early Hurricane Center track forecast with a black marker pen, to include Alabama, after the National Weather Service had tried to correct him.

Hurricane Dorian was going, they said, nowhere near Alabama. His claim, defended in a series of vindictive tweets savaging the media for trying to make him look bad, led to some panic buying in the state, while critics have argued that it may also have led to potentially lethal complacency in the Carolinas, far to the east, where the Category 3 storm did in fact track after killing hundreds of people in the Bahamas.

Certainly, there’s a law against promulgating false weather forecasts.

The point being, that Trump’s mental condition is now under serious scrutiny, as he had clearly made a simple mistake and it wasn’t, to begin with, of any importance; nobody would have cared, and he could just have brushed it off with a disarming apology, if he had an ounce of charm or good manners. Instead he is still doubling and tripling down on it with a series of increasingly disturbing lies, and what appear to be increasingly intimidatory tactics.

Now there’s a major rift between the nation’s various weather bureaux, with a spokesman for the National Weather Service’s employees calling the NOAA statement “disgusting and disingenuous” and accusing the NOAA of “managerial malpractise”, perpetrated for political reasons.

A quick call to Granny Weatherwax confirms, after delaying an appointment for many months, late in 2017 Trump nominated for the head of the NOAA, the former CEO of a private forecasting service, Accuweather, one Barry Lee Myers, a non-scientist.

Myers had previusly made a substantial donation to the campaign fund of a leading Republican senatorial candidate, the ghastly Rick Santorum, in an attempt to get Congress to sideline the National Weather Service and benefit Accuweather’s commercial interests by effectively outlawing free public weather forecasts.

He was not confirmed in post. So, according to Wikipedia, “since February 2019, NOAA has been headed by Neil Jacobs, as acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA interim administrator. NOAA has not had a confirmed leader since January of 2017.”

Neil has a somewhat more impressive CV than Barry:

“Previously as the Chief Atmospheric Scientist at Panasonic Avionics Corporation, he directed the research and development of both the aviation weather observing platform and weather forecast model programs. He was previously the Chair of the American Meteorological Society’s Forecast Improvement Group, and also served on the World Meteorological Organization’s aircraft-based observing systems expert team. Dr. Jacobs holds a bachelor degree in mathematics and physics from the University of South Carolina and masters and doctoral degrees in atmospheric science from North Carolina State University.” (NOAA website)

Now all he needed to do was to tell Mad King Donald to just drop it, but sadly being only yet another “acting” head of department among many, he can’t. Because his position is unconfirmed by the Senate and still in the gift of the President, he just has to do what the demented orange infant – whose uncle, let us remember, lectured in electrical engineering at MIT, qualifying Trump as a scientist summa cum laude – tells him to do.

Just get him out. Forget who he is, concentrate on what he is, which is certifiably bonkers. It’s cruel to keep him there. Just send in the men in white coats, stick an anti-spit bag on his head in case it’s catching, the megalomania – and cart him off with his arms folded.

How hard can it be?

 

“Appointments Co-Ordinator”: The Angel of Death

The NHS over in England is instructing area health trusts to write to London’s GPs, telling them not to refer patients to specialist consultants unless it’s a matter of life or death. “A spokeswoman” is quoted as saying:

“Some ideas will affect clinical services and in putting forward our plans we want to emphasise that the safety of our patients and the quality of our services will always come first.”

The spokeswoman added that they would ensure no patient waited more than 52 weeks for treatment.” (Guardian)

52 weeks is, as my Likers, Spammers, etc. all kno, a year.  No patient will wait MORE THAN A YEAR for treatment. Some idea… Some quality, first. Is this a health service or a national extermination program? Statisticians have been reporting for some time now that life expectancy in Britain is no longer increasing. This looks like one possible reason, you might agree.

Commented Health Secretary, Matt Hancock: “zzzzzzz. Wake me up when we’ve Brexited”.

My own local health board in Wales has adverted instead to a different method of imposing the death penalty on patients. Someone naming but not signing themselves “Appointments Co-Ordinator” will write to you, telling you you need to make an appointment – whether you do or not.

Failure to respond by telephone within 14 days will result in them assuming you no longer want or need treatment, or you are no longer living in the area, or you’ve died, and unpersoning you. Telephoning will produce a recorded message, telling you there is a half-hour wait to speak to someone.

Last March, for instance, I ignored – well, I tried phoning first, and then I ignored the letter because I already had a consultant appointment, made directly through his office. But you can no longer do that. And in early May I had another letter, informing me that, as I had obviously died or gone away, I no longer had a consultant. Although I had been to see him, and had various procedures in the meantime.

So, I was forced to waste the time of my GP and my consultant getting myself put back on the list. I’ve since had another letter, demanding I make an appointment – for what sounds very much like a preliminary assessment to begin receiving the consultant support I’ve already been getting for my prostate condition for the past five years.

And, of course, if I don’t phone within 14 days, I’ll be struck off again. Which rather makes a nonsense of the huge expense of the various scans, tests, surgical investigations and clinical procedures I’ve already had, since they’ll need to be repeated.

“Appointments Co-Ordinator” is not, obvious to say, a clinician, but a bureaucrat. (That’s if they really exist and are not simply an algorithm.) “Appointments Co-Ordinator” has no idea if my condition requires treatment or not; or what treatment it requires. But it certainly requires treatment.

And in writing to people in late August, “Appointments Co-Ordinator” clearly runs the risk of encountering recipients who are away on holiday, as I was when the letter arrived.

I replied immediately by letter – it’s written evidence – asking “Appointments Co-Ordinator” to check with my consultant to see if the appointment was relevant or not, before wasting everyone’s time making it.

Needless to say, after 14 days I’ve had no reply. “Appointments Co-Ordinator” can dish it out, but she can’t take it.

Which you might understand fills me with anger. Striking patients off consultants’ lists while they are receiving treatment (I have never missed an appointment) without reference to the consultant or further investigation of the circumstances in which a patient has failed to respond in time – a follow-up letter, perhaps – is a gross breach of medical ethics and saves no money at all.

All it does is close cases on open files, when they may need to remain open – thus artificially and, in many cases, one suspects temporarily – shortening overburdened consultants’ waiting lists (and the lives of the patients) to comply with official quotas.

 

GW: It’s a hard rain’s gonna fall

Bahamas: “Health minister Duane Sands has warned of the probability of a very high death toll in Abaco and Grand Bahama as the catastrophe continues to unfold. He told people to brace for a ‘staggering’ final count, when speaking to local radio late Thursday. ‘The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering,’ he said.” Grand Abaco is said to be virtually uninhabitable. The UN has called for aid for up to 70 thousand homeless survivors. (Guardian and others)

Chuntering up the coast, Dorian has been bumping into the Carolinas, back at Cat 3, bringing severe flooding to coastal regions, and is set to make landfall in a third country, Canada, over the weekend before spinning out across the Atlantic in pursuit of weakening Tropical Storm Gabrielle, heading for the British Isles later next week. Several other Tropical disturbances are reported in the Atlantic, although none is as yet favored to intensify – Dorian will have churned up a lot of cold water in its wake and left a turbulent atmosphere that should discourage more hurricanes for a while at least. One meteorologist is suggesting remnant Dorian could trigger a UK heatwave. (Express)

Vietnam: Tropical Depression Kajiki, which closely followed Tropical Cyclone Podul, has brought heavy rain to parts of Vietnam and Laos, causing further flooding and landslides. Authorities report at least 2 people have died and 2 are missing in Laos, while 5 fatalities were reported in Vietnam with 3 people still missing. Heavy rain in catchment areas has also increased levels of the Mekong River, which has reached flood stage in parts of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.” (Floodlist)

Africa: Over 40 people have died and 70 thousand are affected by flooding in Niger, West Africa, where rivers have far exceeded Red level flood stage. Other countries of the region have also seen major flooding and casualties over the last few weeks, including Nigeria and Mauritania, along with Central African Republic and further north, Algeria and Morocco. (Floodlist)

India: Flooding caused major disruption to road and rail transport in Mumbai and areas of the surrounding state of Maharashtra. 214.4 mm (8.5-in.) of rainfall was recorded in 12 hours on 4 Sept. India’s public service broadcaster, said that out of 150 weather stations in Mumbai and Maharashtra, 100 weather stations received 200mm of rainfall within 24 hours. The rain cause massive urban flooding, clogging streets, damaging homes and causing transport disruption including bus, train and flight cancellations. (Floodlist)

Japan: Tropical Storm Faxai intensified rapidly Saturday (7 Sept.) to become, now, a Cat 3 supertyphoon, with 130 mph winds, heading straight for the main island. “Destructive winds are likely across southeastern Honshu, and destructive waves are possible on Japan’s southern and eastern shores. In addition, 3 to 8 inches of rain is likely in southeastern Honshu, with isolated amounts up to a foot possible. Flooding is possible in the Tokyo metropolitan area.” (The Weather Channel) The storm has delayed the arrival of teams for the Rugby World Cup.

Previously: Supertyphoon Lingling “skyrocketed from a CAT2-equivalent to CAT4-equivalent system in only 6 hours late on September 5th. Indeed, satellite imagery showed impressive structure, with a well-developed, extensive central dense overcast and an impressive, well-defined eye. Peak sustained winds increased from 105 mph (169 km/h) to 130 mph (209 km/h). It tracked directly across Japan’s Miyakojima island”, and will “track north over the East China Sea into the Yellow Sea in the next two days, likely retaining significant strength. Possible landfall in North Korea early on Saturday, although track is somewhat uncertain.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Update, 7 Sept.: 3 killed as 155mph Typhoon Lingling bumps first along the South’s coast, then smashes into North Korea. 8 injured. Flights grounded, and thousands without power. (London Evening Standard)

USA: “Record-challenging heat will make it feel like the middle of summer across the southern United States through the weekend. Dry conditions and plenty of sunshine will stretch from eastern Texas to Georgia on Friday as an area of high pressure settles over the region. Temperatures across much of this area will climb into the middle to upper 90s F, while farther west in Louisiana and eastern Texas, highs are expected to peak near 100 F.” (Accuweather)

“A raging wildfire near Quincy in Plumas County erupted to 24,000 acres on Saturday, forcing evacuations in the area, the U.S. Forest Service reported. The Walker Fire broke out Wednesday inside the Plumas National Forest about 11 miles east of Taylorsville. The blaze was at 2,000 acres on Friday morning, before strong winds in the area rapidly caused the fire to grow, burning over 17,000 acres by Friday night. As of Saturday morning, the fire had covered 24,040 acres and was zero percent containment (sic). (Sacramento Bee)

After the storm… Just where do you start?

Mexico: The Weather Channel reports “Tropical Storm Fernand is closing in on landfall in northeast Mexico where it will bring a threat of heavy rain and flooding. Tropical Storm Gabrielle has also formed in the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean”, and is on a track that may see it spin nor’eastwards towards the northern British Isles later in the week, where remnant Dorian is also heading after passing over Nova Scotia with 75mph sustained winds… “But that’s not all: The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is watching two other areas in the Atlantic for possible tropical development as well.”

 

Tunnel approaching….

Yellowstone: The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, there’s been another swarm of more than 40 small ‘quakes up to M2.7 in the Mammoth Mountain volcanic area, to the north of the Long Valley supervolcano caldera in SE California, near where there was a series of major quakes 2 months ago, including a huge M7.1. The last “small” eruption, which created Mono Lake, was only 250 years ago; but the USGS says there’s only a one percent chance one of the volcanoes could erupt again in any one year. Which is to say, a one in a hundred years chance…. and it’s been 250 years since the last eruption? Ooops.

It’s believed the magma chamber – estimated at 240 cubic miles! – could be contiguous with that of the not far-away Yellowstone volcano in Montana (11.5 Grand Canyons’ worth), where there have also been swarms of quakes recently.

Australia: The government of New South Wales is evacuating fish from the lower Darling river – part of the country’s major Murray-Darling irrigation basin – ahead of predictions of another scorching, dry summer. Last year, millions of fish died and other river-dwellers were almost wiped out as the Lower Darling fell to record low levels, partly due to overextraction. Agriculture Minister, Adam Murray said: “We’re staring down the barrel of a potential fish Armageddon.” (Guardian Green Light)

The Pumpkin – Issue 97: Dementia news… A Big Lie… Another Big Lie… Not on the fairway… GW: Blow the wind northerly.

Quote of, er, one or two days…

Americans Shocked by Spectacle of Legislators Taking Action

“Across the U.S., television viewers watched with mouths agape at startling images of elected officials seemingly intent on performing their constitutional duties.” – US humorist, Andy Borowitz on the Commons vote to debate the no No-Deal bill.

Boris Johnson greets the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, outside No 10

“Hang on tight, my friend, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Dementia news

(This item appeared previously in The Boglington Post, 31 Aug.)

“Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, told ABC’s This Week the president would lead ‘really a whole lot of government effort, and the president is going to make sure that we’re on the same page, that we’re tracking this, and that we’re going to be ready.’”

“Trump sowed confusion earlier when he said incorrectly that Alabama would be hit by the storm, forcing the National Weather Service to issue an update. He later repeated the mistake at a press conference. He also repeated his claim that he was not sure he had “ever even heard of a category 5” hurricane.

“The increasing strength of the storm makes this the fourth consecutive year that at least one Atlantic cyclone has reached category 5, according to the NHC.” And Trump’s leadership strategy?

“Americans should ‘pray for the people in the Bahamas’, Donald Trump announced from Washington” as south-eastern US states looked on nervously. That should help, although everyone is already busy praying for the victims of the latest mass-slaughter in Texas, over which the regime dares take no action whatever, with an election looming.

To be really ready for natural disasters, the Trump administration recently ordered another transfer of funds out of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) budget, an easy target, to pay for increased border security.

(Quotes pulled from a Guardian report, 02 Sept., as Dorian rips into the Bahamas at 200 mph.)

Postscriptum

Mad King Donald has appeared at a presser in the Oval Office, waving a thoroughly unconvincing map of the southeastern US, on which “someone” had used a black marker pen – known to Americans as a Sharpie – to add a big, wavery, extra bulge on the western side of the official National Hurricane Center’s forecast track of Dorian from last week, to include Alabama – where there was no prior indication the hurricane was headed.

This was in order to “prove” that he had been right all along when he twice said the storm was heading for Alabama, a claim that has been much derided in the media after the NHC said it was incorrect. Dorian would go nowhere near Alabama. The additional drawing altering the forecast – “fake news” that set off panic buying in the Sweet Home state – was in a different color.

Utterly unable to accept, ever, that he has made a simple mistake, the man is beyond mockery. He is completely insane and must be removed from office as a danger, both to himself and the country.

 

A Big Lie

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow draws our attention to another tweet frae the tiny thumbs of the liar-in-chief.

It seems that it has now sunk in that, instead of trashing Alabama, Hurricane Dorian has trundled northwards up the east coast and is spinning about 50 miles off North Carolina, picking up energy from the warm waters, dumping vast amounts of rain and looks likely to sit there as a devastating Cat 3, with 115 mph winds until the weekend.

It’s a bad situation. So N. Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper, has fulfilled his statutory duty and made a request for FEMA emergency aid as a million people are ordered to evacuate coastal areas. It’s the governor’s job to do that. People are puzzling, then, as to why Mr Trump has tweeted out that he is considering a request for FEMA aid put in by Senator Thom Tillis of N. Carolina. It’s not his job to do that.

Who? What?

Well, it seems Sen. Tillis is a Republican and up for re-election next year; while the pathetic and incompetent booby, Governor Cooper can’t be trusted to put in his own request for aid.

Because he’s a Democrat.

You see, it’s only a minor thing, but we have to understand that this shit-for-brains in the White House is prepared to make political capital out of anything, sink to any depths, tell any lie, trash any opposition to get himself re-elected, and that nothing he says, tweets or does from now on, if it ever was, can be trusted not to be “fake news”, in his own argot.

The alternative to re-election could be a very long spell in gaol.

 

Another Big Lie

Trump is not the only wannabe despot living in a complete fantasy world of his own making, where the economy is rip-roaring away, China is on its knees gagging to do a trade deal, non-existent hurricanes are trashing Alabama and thousands of illegal immigrants are roaming around Texas looking for women to rape and kids to sell marijuana to. Oh, and by the way, he’s The Chosen One.

Or, to put it another way, lying through his unreliable old teeth.

“Brussels has responded with bafflement to Boris Johnson’s claims that progress is being made in the Brexit talks, with EU officials saying discussions are going nowhere. The prime minister and his cabinet have insisted that the outlines of a deal are in the making and that attempts by MPs to rule out a no-deal departure will kill that momentum. However, EU officials said that nearly two weeks after Johnson met the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, no alternatives to the Northern Irish backstop had been tabled.” (Guardian, 3 Sept.)

Nor are EU apparatchiks entirely sure where these British negotiators have got to, that Johnson says are popping over to Brussels twice a week to hammer out a deal. They’ve seen few signs of them.

“’Where have these people been for the last two years?’ asked one EU official.”

Suspicion is growing in Brussels that the negotiations, such as there have been any, are a complete sham and that Johnson and his ERG cabinet have no intention of doing a deal; certainly as they have not put forward any constructive ideas, especially in relation to the Irish border “backstop” arrangement that would keep Northern Ireland in the Customs Union and Single Market for two more years, which Johnson has repudiated in favour of a vague customs arrangement, an “invisible border” based on some still non-existent “technology”.

Meanwhile the pound this morning hit $1.19, as low as it’s been since 24 June, 2016 – the day after the referendum. And a handwritten note from Johnson has been produced at a court hearing in Edinburgh, where MPs are bringing a case that his prorogation of Parliament is unlawful, showing that he had already taken the decision to shutdown Parliament without telling the public, two weeks before he sent sloucher Mogg to browbeat HM Queen into agreeing it. Something he has denied.

Wake up Britain! We’re being conned.

Postscriptum: Defeated in the Commons on a procedural motion to allow a further vote on a bill to make leaving the EU without a deal illegal – losing his first Commons vote as Prime Minister – Johnson lashed out at rebel members of the Conservative party, ordering that 21 of them should forfeit the party whip – among them, Winston Churchill’s grandson, a tearful Sir Nicholas Soames, who has been a Tory MP for 37 years.

The action has reduced Johnson’s Commons majority to minus 22 – not including the increasingly irrelevant 10 members of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.

Forcing so many men and women of principle out of your party just ahead of what may be a snap General Election next month and when you need to win several crucial votes in the meantime does not seem like the best idea, unless you want Nigel Farage’s Brexit party to win.

But that is the next parallel we find between Johnson and Trump: their tendency to overentitled, childish petulance and tantrums in the face of what they perceive to be personal disloyalty; “traitors” putting country first, ahead of their crazed ambition.

Post-postscriptum:

For the record, the very next day Johnson lost three more votes in the Commons, while in the face of ERG attempts to filibuster, the House of Lords voted to send the Benn bill making No-Deal illegal back for its second reading. Pro-Brexit propagandists have launched a series of vicious attacks in the rightwing media, accusing the 21 holdout Tory MPs and poor Mr Corbyn, who has declined to fall for Johnson’s call for an early election, of cowardice and treason.

History is being stood on its head, as Brexiters inflamed by the insane rightwing media blame “Remainers” in the Commons for undermining democracy and defying the referendum result, when it was Johnson, Sloucher Mogg, Duncan Cunt, Ugly Patel, Dominic the Serial Killer Raaaab and the other members of the rabidly Europhobic ERG who were the holdouts against a deal that would have seen us out of the EU by now, and who are trying to shutdown debate in Parliament.

Regardless of those abusive descriptors, or perhaps because of them, Boris’ more sensible younger MP brother Jo has resigned his ministerial post, citing “unresolvable tension” between “family loyalty and the national interest”. Brexit is creating toxic, internecine warfare across the country and must be abandoned now, for all our sakes.

Your Uncle B. has Commented: “The last time I felt like this was when watching the planes flying into the World Trade Center on TV, knowing that nothing would ever be the same again.”

The rate of suicides in Britain is now higher than it was 17 years ago, especially among middle-aged men.

Not on the fairway….

The House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee has been investigating for several months, internal messages that suggest regular US military flights between the USA and destinations in Europe and the Middle East have been ordered to stopover in Scotland, where crews have been forced to put up at Donald Trump’s loss-making Turnberry golf resort; thus diverting many hundreds of thousands of dollars of US taxpayers’ money – the sacred military budget – into Trump’s personal pocket. (Politico/MSNBC report)

Meanwhile…. the Washington Post is reporting that Trump is defunding anti-Russian influence programs in Europe to divert money to his ludicrous border wall; and witholding military aid to the Ukrainian government until they supply him with “dirt” undermining the candidacy of former Democratic Vice President, Joe Biden. I’d offer more on this, but I can’t afford the $90 to get over Mr Bezos’ paywall.

 

GW: Blow the wind northerly

Hurricane Dorian is slowly churning up the east coast of the USA towards the Carolinas, after battering the Bahamas with record winds and a massive 23-ft storm surge on 1 and 2 Sept. At least 20 people are now known to have died on the Abaco islands, which have seen “unprecedented devastation” according to the Bahamas Prime Minister. The reconstruction bill will mount into many $billions.

Update 5 Sept.: Hurricane Dorian continues tracking north/northeast and is approaching the coast of South Carolina this morning, Sept 5th. It has re-strengthened back to Category 3 and will be tracking just about 30 miles offshore the coast of the South Carolina and likely make landfall across the outer banks of eastern North Carolina. Central pressure is down to 957 mbar with sustained winds of 115 mph. (Severe-weather.eu)

Severe-weather.eu adds that Dorian seemed hell-bent on erasing Grand Bahama from the face of the earth: “Some areas of the island were exposed to maximum winds for over 12 hours, far longer than typical for hurricane landfalls. (In the event, the hurricane took 36 hours to traverse 5 miles of territory.) Additionally, major storm surge inundated large parts of the island. Reports (confirmed by aerial footage Wednesday) indicate total devastation, with buildings in some areas levelled to the ground” and boats tossed far inland.

SE Asia: “Disaster management agencies in Thailand and Vietnam report that 6 people have died as a result of wind damage and flooding from Tropical Cyclone ‘Podul’. Podul made landfall over Quang Bình Province in central Vietnam on 29 August, 2019, with maximum sustained winds of 55-65 km/h. The next day the centre of the storm had moved to Thailand, where the storm was forecast to weaken and eventually dissipate.”

Africa: At least 1 person died and almost 300 homes were severely damaged or destroyed as a result of flooding in the Central African Republic in late August. “Flooding affected areas in the north west of the country, close to the border with Chad, from 19 to 20 August. Water and sanitation infrastructures have also been destroyed.” 5 bridges connecting to flooded localities have been washed out, hindering rescue efforts (Floodlist). Parts of northern Nigeria are also continuing to experience widespread flooding after several weeks of rain.

North Africa: “More flooding has affected areas of Morocco. 2 people died after a storm, heavy rain and floods in the province of Khenifra, Béni Mellal-Khénifra region, on 2 Sept. Flooding was also reported elsewhere in the country. On 1 Sept. heavy rain in the Atlas Mountains caused a massive debris flow, resulting in widespread damage. Earlier this week at least 7 people died after flash floods swept through a small village in Taroudant province. 39 people have been rescued from flood waters in northern Algeria after torrential rain. In a 24 hour period, 127.3mm of rain fell in the city of Skikda, around 4 times the monthly average for September.” (from Floodlist)

Tunnel approaching….

Microplastics: A paper by researchers at the Scripps Institute published in Science Advances (I know, sounds a bit like Mars Attacks…) found that “since the 1940s the amount of microscopic plastics in the sediments has doubled about every 15 years. In 2010, the most recent year analysed, the pollution had reached almost 40 particles per 10cm by 10cm patch of ocean floor every year. … Humans are believed to consume at least 50,000 microplastic particles a year through food and water. The health impact is unknown.” (Guardian Green Light)