The BogPo. Dog Days and Diesels; One Sleepless Night, Trump; Granny Weatherwax’s Almanacke, 23-26 July; Am I Still a European?

Dog Days and Diesels

We’re rapidly approaching the Silly Season, the Dog Days, whatever you call August

So it’s not surprising the press and radio news are leading on a nebulous proposal by Michael Gove to ‘phase-out’ diesel and petrol cars altogether by 2040, in line with M. Macron’s equally futile ambition in France, and force everyone into electric vehicles.

The problem with electric vehicles is, they need electricity. As things stand, we haven’t got the extra generating capacity to charge-up 32 million cars and six million commercial vehicles every night – when the solar power will be down. So we’re going to need at least a couple more nukes like Hinckley Point C, the atrocious French white elephant that’s already way behind schedule and over budget.

There are other, practical problems. Electric car batteries are improving, but still heavy, wasteful of energy and slow to charge. That’s even if the charging infrastructure can be rolled out; and people can afford the expensive cars without upsetting the Bank of England, worried about ‘sub-prime’ car loans.

That’s begging the questions, with 24 years to go (!) what purchasing decisions should motorists make in the meantime? And does anyone seriously imagine Exxon-Mobil, Shell and the other Big Oil bastards will just stand by and let this happen?

Three days earlier – whouhawhouaa, cue flashback music – we were informed of the government’s plan to spend a quarter of a billion pounds funding British companies to design clever new storage batteries, that we can ‘hang on the wall’ to power our homes with stored electricity from solar panels on the roof, of which every home would have one. (A panel, that is. Roofs aren’t guaranteed.)

We would – get this – be able to sell our spare electricity to the Grid! A brilliant new idea from Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd that replaces the old idea, where at the behest of the competitive electricity generators the government three years ago slashed the ‘feed-in’ tariff paid to householders for their spare electricity, thus bringing the rooftop solar panels industry to a crashing halt.

Believe me, I’ve lived off-Grid, powering a fridge with a leisure battery is not a proposition if you want to keep your milk from going off. (Actually we had fresh milk from our goat every day, it’s just an illustration of the problem.)

Clearly, Mrs May’s parting orders to the cabinet before she takes a hike in the Dolomites, very painful, were to just come up with any old ideas to leave the British public hanging, imagining the government is still in charge until Parliament resumes in September.

When the Universities succeeded in getting the Cameron mob to treble tuition fees to £9,000, it was said this would be the ‘maximum’ they could charge. Which explains why they all immediately rushed to start charging £9,000 a year. Please don’t tell me that the opportunity to charge drivers of diesel cars £10 a day to use certain roads in cities won’t prompt every local authority in the country to rush for the numberplate recognition cameras and create this wonderful new source of free income, regardless of the level of pollution.

Eighteen months ago when the NOx emissions story first broke, I saw the writing on the bumper-sticker and enquired about selling my little diesel car. I was quoted £5,000. Why, oh why, didn’t I go through with it? I still felt, nyergh, maybe I still need it…  I might have to go somewhere.

My car’s now worth only about £2,000 and falling by the day. I imagine most of the 13 million diesel car owners are also stuck between a rock and a hard place, faced with having to find £30 grand to buy a small electric car and getting nothing back for the diesel car the government told us all to buy fifteen years ago because it was more economical and produced less CO2 – both of which are true.

Scrapping cars is wasteful and expensive – very little recycling is possible – and does nothing to reduce emissions, as to make a replacement car emits as much CO2 as driving it (www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/2010/sep/23/carbon-footprint-new-car)

And so, until they become illegal 23 years from now, the country will have lots and lots of ageing diesels chuntering about, shrinking our children’s brains. Hardly Govey’s intention, if he has one.

Meanwhile, it remains the case that electricity is not the only alternative means of propulsion. By his limited insistence on electric replacements, Gove is overlooking the possibilities of other, newer technologies we could develop, if only they weren’t being suppressed by the oil companies.

It’s reported that Exxon-Mobil alone may be sitting on as many as 3,000 unexploited patents on improvements and alternative power sources its own engineers have produced over the nearly four decades since their researchers first alerted them to the perils of burning the black stuff.

It was worth setting up those departments to find new types of propulsion, just to shut them down.

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One sleepless night, Trump

So the House committee approved Trump’s fifth pick, Christopher Wray, for the job of FBI Director, subject to Senate ratification.

It comes out in the media shortly before the vote that Wray’s law firm, King and Spalding works for Rosneft and Gazprom, the two big Russian utilities controlled by the Kremlin (USA Today report); while individuals connecting between those giant dark money-pits, Russian banks and property developments around the globe are also identified with organized crime syndicates.

Surprise, surprise, it’s Russia time again. And such a man, whatever he tells the committee, which must be getting used to being endlessly lied to by Trump nominees, isn’t going to close down the FBI’s multiple investigations into Russian Trumpola, is he? Surely not.

Wray is not the only individual with probably innocent connections to oligarchs identified by the intel services as mobsters, whom Trump is continuing to shoehorn into government positions – and remember, Trump appears from his tweets to believe that Wray will be reporting directly to him and not to the Justice Department, which he continue to try to undermine.

Who is Trump working for?

Then we hear that Wray – who is not the well-known chain of upmarket domestic lighting emporia – was paid $ millions in public-money ‘fees’ by the sleazy NJ Governor Chris Christie – formerly a friend of Trump, they’ve fallen out – to get him off charges relating to ‘Bridgegate’ (Fort Lee lane-closure scandal – only in America – look it up) without any sort of a contract or an audit trail for 11 months, at one time blocking the prosecution by allegedly concealing Christie’s incriminating cellphone.

This is the blond Thunderbirds puppet with shifty eyes, who has no record of police work, whom Trump hails as ‘a man of impeccable credentials’ – like himself, no doubt. A couple million a month should do it. I mean, he’s pretty impeccable, right? Impeccable costs.

But what of the manufactured spat between Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions?

Trumbo is bullying Sessions to resign because, last week, a voice spoke to him out of the dark one sleepless night as he lay tweeting, to remind him that if Sessions hadn’t recused himself from the Russiagate investigation on conflict-of-interest grounds, he could be the one to fire the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller! Why, the weaselly little Georgia racist and barefaced liar whom Trump helped get elected was positively disloyal to obey the law!! He IS the law!!!

Sessions’ record in office has been pretty frightful, turning the police into a virtually unaccountable paramilitary force; strengthening immigration laws to breakup families and overriding State legislatures on even only medical marijuana relaxation. But at least he gets stuff done, unlike his useless boss. Trump is perfectly capable of replacing Yoda Sessions and his folksy, mint-julep twinkle with Ted Bundy, if he thinks he’s impeccable enough to get the Russian monkey off his back.

My god, if Trump could get Pruitt approved to head the EPA, with his 9,000 pages of emails testifying to his corrupt relationship with frackers Hamm Oil and Gas, bringing an earthquake to a street near you, he’s not going to nominate Mary Poppins to the job of paying for more brutal policing through pre-trial property confiscations, is he? Not if he can exonerate the Kushners, Flynn – and, if need be, the President himself; maybe even put Hillary in jail….

So bad.

I probably shouldn’t even think this, but IF some Navy SEAL marksman were to fire a projectile with unerring accuracy into the Golden Orb’s muddly-puddly old brains from a book depository half a mile away one sunny afternoon at an election rally in some Red state, and the President slumped lifeless to the rostrum, hairweave awry, surrounded by panicking officials and security goons, autocue devices flying everywhere, the shrieks and Omigard!s of the crowd rising to a horrified crescendo, what then?

The adoring Trump sycophant, snow-capped advert for Anusol and hypocritical alt-Christian evangelist, the vice-presidential makeweight Pence would automatically become king. That’s how it happens, by Divine Right power in America transfers instantly and effortlessly to the annointed.

So, what then, we simply carry on with a bunch of greedy, reckless and incompetent cunts like Pruitt and DeVos in charge of all the key departments of State until 2020, pushing through the same shitbag legislative program as prescribed by Charles and David Koch? Would there be roles for Bannon, Kushner – the grieving Blonde?

Or does the politically more savvy Pence get that 60% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s corrupt and nepotistic presidency, the endless, shaming scandals, the demented tweets and rages, Fox fucking News, and would he be able to settle things down and find some more convincing stooges to put in place, to try to find some calmer water to paddle in, even if he does ban abortion and women working outside the home?

And what, by the way, has happened to General HR McMaster? We haven’t spotted his curiously elongated cranium, with its more sensible contents, in the WH for weeks.

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Granny Weatherwax’s Almanacke, 23-26 July

  • 8: Number of tropical cyclones reported active in the Pacific region currently, a 40-year record.
  • Myanmar (Burma): widespread floods, storm surge drowns town: watch from 14’30” as a gilded buddhist temple is washed into the sea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smxPAG_yCzU&t=250s. Lack of drinking water affecting villagers.
  • China: Yulin province, widespread flooding in Yulin city washes away buildings, cars; smashes up streets.
  • China: Shanghai, highest-ever temperature recorded in the city @ 40.9°C (105.6°F), 21 July.
  • South Korea: heat advisories for 35 deg. plus in south, more forecast; widespread flooding follows torrential rain in north, around Seoul.
  • Assam, India: 5 million still displaced by flooding; death toll reaches 73. Kaziranga National Park underwater, many animals drowned.
  • Gujarat, India: widespread flooding. 63 dead. Many dams overtopped, national highways closed.
  • Thailand: “Flooding has affected several provinces, damaging 10,000 homes, and crops. Disaster management authorities have issued warnings for further heavy rain for the next 4 days.”
  • Japan: “Authorities in Akita Prefecture, north western Japan, issued evacuation orders on Sunday 23 July due to flooding after a period of heavy rain. Some areas recorded more than 300 mm in 24 hours. Severe damage was recorded in 17 cities.”
  • New Zealand, South Island: widespread flooding. Dunedin cut off by road; states of emergency declared in Christchurch, Canterbury, Otago.
  • USA: record-river-level flooding in Algonquin, Illinois. Powerful storms, more rain forecast. Widespread flooding in New Orleans as tropical storm ‘stalls’ over the city. State of emergency in Wisconsin, power outages, roads broken up in DC. Flash floods, local states of emergency in Kentucky, Missouri.
  • USA: “Excessive heat warnings were in place on Friday for Omaha, Kansas City, Des Moines, St. Louis, and neighboring areas, where heat indices will range between 105°F and 115°F. The Philadelphia area was also in an excessive heat warning for heat indices that could reach 103°F.” – http://www.wunderground.com
  • USA: Wildfires continue to burn in California, Nevada, Utah, but the huge Detwiler fire near Yosemite National Park, Wyoming, is said to be ‘coming under control’ after a week. 75 thousand acres burned. Heatwave abating slowly but still in the 90s – 105F again in Phoenix today, 95F across Florida, Texas.
  • Guadalajara, Mexico: City inundated after flash flooding, torrential rain.
  • Lagos, Nigeria: localised flooding in the city and outlying villages, continuing rain.
  • S. France: Firefighters battling 1,400 acres of forest burning in the hills inland from St Tropez. Tourists evacuated.
  • President of low-lying Palau, in the Pacific, Tommy Remengesau has complained that his garden is now normally underwater due to sea-level rise of 1 ft since 1989.
  • UK: weather service warns, rains to become heavier, more persistent.

On other disaster news: the earthquake swarm affecting the Yellowstone caldera continues in its 45th day, USGS (possibly under-)recording 15-20 quakes a day up to M3, getting shallower. Magma is thought to be flooding into the rising dome.

Magnitude 7.7 earthquake may be ‘imminent’ off California coast.

Climate & Extreme Weather News #47/Floodlist/Wunderground/Mary Greeley (USGS data- watcher)/Dutchsinse.

(The bizarre thing is, almost none of this is being reported in the mainstream media, other than as single incidents, like the French fires, which are being reported on with no reference to the fires still burning in Italy and Greece, on Corsica and Sicily, in Spain, Portugal and in the Balkans – Macedonia, Croatia, for instance, as well as in the USA, Canada, Russia…)

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Am I still a European?

Despite the bonfire of the sanities that was lit on 23 June, 2016, the answer to the question is apparently Yes.

In response to the concerns of people here in Wales, which (although the white immigrants from Birmingham voted by a big majority to Leave, which they’re welcome to do) has a large degree of constitutional autonomy from England, the ineffable Ms Jill Knight MEP, our regional representative in Strasbourg, has commissioned a detailed report on what Brexit means for citizenship rights .

It is 69 pages of closely argued, expert legal opinion, and the upshot is the British government does not really have the right to mess with your citizenship; something on which the BogPo ventured an opinion free of charge last year.

So you can either continue being what you currently are, i.e. a citizen with a EU passport, or they have to include some means of allowing you to formally establish Associate Citizenship of the EU in the abridgement treaty.

I’m not a lawyer and I found the report daunting: even the Executive Summary runs to several pages.

But if you’d like to see it, I can forward the PDF to you.

The Pumpkin, Issue 26. “I know a lot about health care.” Pardon, Mr President? The most extraordinary thing about Donald Trump; So, farewell, Spicey.

 

Okay, yeah, my wife and daughter are now zombies, your Popeyness, I forget to top up their employer premiums. But we’ve always made room for Catholics. Wanna buy a tie? Made in Vietnam?

I know a lot about health care.” Pardon, Mr President?

Would you like to know all about the Republicans’ ‘Repeal and Replace’ Obamacare bill, that narrowly failed to achieve a sufficient majority in the Senate last week, opposed not so much because it seeks to deprive 32 million Americans of their existing health cover, but mainly because it didn’t cut enough from the wasteful public Medicaid and Medicare budget to give sufficient tax breaks to the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans, who have no shame about demanding more money from cancer victims and the unemployed?

(When are Mr Amazon, Mr Facebook, Mr Microsoft, Mr Apple, Mr Uber, Mr Space-X going to step up and use the blunt force of their billions to stop this crazy descent into hell for the majority of Americans, who buy their shit? They could buy out the fucking Koch brothers’ political PACS ten times over – along with the entire Senate.)

Who better to ask what the bill was about, than the prime mover and advocate of ‘Trumpcare’ himself, Donald J Trump, President of the United States of America?

With apologies for the image theft to Jeffreyhill.typepad.com/ Google Images/ Grant Wood ‘American Gothic’.

Here he is, interviewed verbatim in the New York Times, explaining in its entirety the detailed ins and outs of health insurance. (The Pumpkin warns you, it’s a complicated subject, but he has mastered the brief.) Let us remember that he was elected on a promise to get the bill passed on ‘Day One’ of his Presidency, because his plan was so great, so beautiful, the American public wouldn’t want to wait for it….

“As they get something, it gets tougher. Because politically you can’t give it away. So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70 you get a nice plan. Here’s something where you walk up and say, ‘I want my insurance.’ It’s a very tough deal, but it is something that we’re doing a good job of.

“These guys couldn’t believe it, how much I know about it. I know a lot about healthcare.”

Lovely, fragrant Ana Kasparian at TYT has raised the possibility that Trump in his rambling stream of madness doesn’t understand the difference between health insurance and life assurance, but I’m not so sure. Every time I read another one of his bizarre word salads I think I begin to discern some pattern in it, something he is struggling to get out. Or maybe I’m as confused as he is and we’re just running in parallel.

Michael Wolfe has a good piece in The Guardian today, explaining why Mr Trump will not be removed from office before at least the impending disaster for the Republicans of next year’s mid-term elections, if even then. Part of the reason could be, he wouldn’t find his way out.

Another might be that he is gearing up to fire the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller – which has involved hiring new lawyers, replacing his head of Communications, firing Sean Spicer, and throwing ‘disloyal’ Attorney General Jeff Sessions to the wolves with a Big Leak to the WashPo over the content of his meetings with Ambassador Kislyak.

This in itself might amount to intimidation, just the threat of firing the man who is looking into possible crimes committed by Trump or his staffers during and before the election campaign – another layer to the case for an obstruction indictment.

Rachel Maddow of MSNBC speculates that forcing Sessons’ resignation allows Trump to appoint a shill to the job, who will fire Mueller and lift the cloud of investigations into Trump’s family and their financial dealings, removing the threat that Jared and Ivanka could be jailed over their security disclosures, or lack of them. Kushner has hastily added another 77 not previously disclosed foreign financial transactions to the affidavit he signed in January, making more than 100 things he should legally have declared in order to obtain the top security clearance, but omitted to. That could get him five years.

The head of the Ethics department has quit, and been replaced by a water-cooler appointee – some jerk they found in the corridor who’ll do as he’s told. Conservatives in Congress are gearing up to try to switch the focus of treason allegations away from the Trump gang and onto Hillary and the Obamas. That’s already happening. The new tactic is to go back to out-and-out denying the Campaign crew ever heard of a place called Russia.

It’s about to get very ugly.

Clearly, despite the Russia thing (collusion in hacking the election), the other Russia thing (sanctions-busting, money-laundering), the third Russia thing (the Pipigate Dossier), maybe a fourth (decades of documented connections to the Russian mafia) – let’s forget treason for now; his dodgy property deals with their obvious opportunities for money laundering, his fake University scam, breaches of Classified national security matters, corrupt appointments, misuse in office of public funds, bad overseas loans affording opportunities for blackmail, the blatant ripping-up of the Foreign Emoluments clause, the apparent attempts to obstruct justice, the refusal to recuse himself from his businesses, his desperate clinging to his tax returns…. there seems to be nothing whatever that the Golden Orb can do to incur impeachment – as he bragged to the dumbfucks at one of his election rallies, he could shoot somebody dead on 5th Avenue and they’d still vote for him.

Complete and total ignorance of his brief after six months in office is obviously not a sacking offence, as it would certainly have been in any one of the 21 jobs I’ve been sacked from, if I hadn’t been sacked for other reasons. Dereliction of duty – we’re losing count of the number of golfing vacations he’s taken, at a cost to the taxpayer of $50 million (much of which goes in profit to his golf resorts) and counting – still doesn’t cut it with the GOP, who seem willing to tolerate any abuse of office lest they pull down the shithouse around themselves; pleading that he’s new to the job and will learn. Trump? Learn? (so what are they doing to teach him?). He’s 71. He has dementia. He has a dubious past. He doesn’t want to go to jail. What else is to learn?

Vice-President Pence is of course authorized by the 25th Amendment to remove the President, at gunpoint if necessary, should he be considered mentally incompetent to fulfil his duties. But the snow-capped walking advert for Anusol, the strangely grinning Mike Pence is equally in it up to his righteous Christian ass and definitely does not want to undergo the same degree of scrutiny as he is witnessing with his Master.

Besides, The Pumpkin is more convinced by the day that, while he is everything they all say, an overgrown child with ADHD, a narcissist, a bully, all the rest of it, the conclusion has to be that Trump is not mad; just very, very naughty.

Attempts do seem to have been made by White House staffers to marginalize him, damage limitation, because he is a total embarrassment to America and the free world, his approval ratings at record lows, but nothing seems to be working. He just keeps slipping away from nurse and running off at the mouth, spewing out illiterate tweets, often incriminating himself, his family and his despairing legal team in the process. Even Donny Jr and the Little Nazi, Eric have been saying they wish it was all over. God knows what Melania thinks.

Well, they’ve been doing their best to incriminate him.

So that’s okay, because today he’s reported to have instructed that burgeoning crowd of bungling clowns and Christian charity bunco artists, his lawyers, to brief him on the legal ins and outs of issuing a blanket Presidential pardon to himself, his family and his immediate circle of deplorables before anything really incriminating comes out. He’s also ordered them to find any ‘dirt’ to close down the special prosecutor, Mr Mueller, and his team investigating Mr Trump’s private finances – something he told the NYT was crossing ‘a red line’ with his family, as far as he is concerned.

Now why would he want to do that, I wonder? What has he got to hide?

Of course, if he is planning to leave town in convoy, taking the Federal reserve with him, and take up residence in Moscow, he could always pay Manafort for some advice.

You have to admit, though, he’s a one-off.

We can hope. In the meantime, no State business is getting done; probably for the best, given the manifesto: basically, give all the money to the rich, they’re best at knowing what to do with it.

It’s incomprehensible to an outsider, how this dismal failure of a Presidency is being allowed to grind on, and on, and on making America daily smaller and more ridiculous in the world.

It’s very, very sad.

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The most extraordinary thing about Donald Trump

This is so damned infuriating.

The piece I just wrote disappeared off my screen and only three letters were saved as a draft. There is some connection between the ctrl key and another letter I type, that wipes any unsaved text. I don’t know what it is, as I am usually busy typing.

So I’m going to park this link here now, just in case, before I hit Save Draft. You will need it later.

newrepublic.com/article/143586/trumps-russian-laundromat-trump-tower-luxury-high-rises-dirty-money-international-crime-syndicate

And now I’m taking Hunzi for one of his walks. If we don’t come back, after reading the link have the river dredged.

Wanna see my Mussolini?

The most extraordinary thing about Donald Trump is probably not his hair, or that his emotional development ceased at the age of eleven, or even that he is – I know, don’t – President of the United States of America.

No, the most extraordinary thing about Donald Trump is that he is still alive.

Donald Trump took a dive into the cesspit that was his father’s rack-renting property businesses maybe fifty years ago under the watchful eye of Fred’s mafia lawyer buddy, the brutal Roy Cohn, enjoying the patronage of one ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, king of the New York concrete supply business, a member of the Genovese familia, and has continued to glide effortlessly through that same shit-smelling space without ever once touching the sides.

Countless books and articles and TV documentaries by the best and most dogged investigative journalists in the world present a weight of circumstantial evidence alluding to Trump’s profound criminality over the decades that would bury Mount Everest in a pile of trouble.

Yet like Al Capone until he got into a bit of a muddle with his taxes, Mr Trump (who refuses to publish his tax returns) has never been convicted of anything untoward. No ‘smoking guns’, no paper trail, nothing has ever stuck. It probably helped that his sister was a District Court judge in New York, but that would only get you out of a charge of stealing candy from the grocery store.

It would hardly ‘trump’ a rumoured longstanding business relationship with someone of the stature of, say Simeon Mogilevitch, the Ukrainian-born billionaire believed by European and United States federal law enforcement agencies to be the “boss of bosses” and, according to his substantial Wikipedia encomium, the most dangerous head of most of the Russian Mafia syndicates in the world.

Yet, while Mr Mogilevitch, another ‘friend’ of Mr Putin, is alleged to reign over a global business empire incorporating such characteristic diversifications as people trafficking, prostitution, drugs and arms smuggling, art-theft, illicit gambling, individual removal services and money laundering on a small-nation scale, there has never been the slightest suggestion that Mr Trump has been personally involved in any of those activities, even though Mr Mogilevitch is also suspected by investigators of having bankrolled Mr Trump’s failed casino developments. Numerous supposed associates of his have been identified as tenants of Mr Trump’s office-cum-residential properties, whilst being convicted from time to time of racketeering or ‘pump-and-dump’ financial fraud. Yet Mr Trump was blithely unaware of their existence.

Such unproven assertions litter the worldwide web. It is necessary only to Google ‘Trump, Russia’ to be deluged with reports on the subject. There’s another one at the link I gave you above (it’s cut-and-paste, I’m afraid.) An industry has grown up around the desire to get to the bottom of Donald Trump, as it were. Yet there appears to be no bottom. He is unfathomable, doors infolding upon doors.

Mr Trump has frequently denied having connections with Russia, even as the scandal of his campaign officials’ and his oldest son’s potentially treasonous complicity with a foreign power continues to grow and swirl around him. Of course, we know that’s not true. His denials are merely to plant a marker with the dumbfucks, his support base, who will see any reports to the contrary as more ‘fake news’. He has numerous connections with Russia and they go far beyond his sleazy 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Even his sons admit he has received $100 million-dollar financial investments from Russian sources, and has frequent contacts with Russian businessmen. Nevertheless, he appears to be mortgaged to the hilt.

We know, too, that he owes large sums of money to Russian and other foreign banks, who never seem to press him for repayment. The story is examined again in today’s Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jul/19/deutsche-bank-donald-trump-russia-investigation-subpoenas

While the list of identified people who attended the fateful “Clinton emails” meeting with lawyer Natalya Vesevlnitskaya at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016 continues to grow, now standing at eight (making it more successful than this summer’s failed blockbuster movie, ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’) with the addition of one more Russian, making four. Daily, the denials turn to grudging admissions and more figures are identified, while it is known that He was “in the building”, as they say; it is, yes, rumoured even that Trump himself may have been the ninth person at the meeting, as he appears to have acted on certain details immediately afterwards – but so far, his is the one name that remains unconfirmed.

And may forever be so. For, The Pumpkin has concluded, Mr Trump’s existential secret, the one thing he absolutely cannot allow to get out; the reason for his desperate lies, double-denials and obfuscations, his deliberate smokescreens and diversionary tactics, his insane-seeming tweets, directives to his staff to, if necessary, perjure themselves on his behalf; his crude demands for ‘omerta’ – loyal silence, his Roy Cohn-style rottweiler legal attacks on anyone who gets near him, on the press and the media in general; his furtive leaks, firings of Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, Security Adviser General Flynn, FBI Director Comey, all of whom got too close to the bottom; his attempts to smear the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller, all point to one startling possibility, in our view:

Mr Trump is a protected witness.

And if that were true, it really would be the most extraordinary thing about Donald J Trump.

 

Greed on steroids

Possibly Trump’s most assiduous pursuer, for more than 20 years Pulitzer prizewinning financial journalist David Cay Johnson has been following the Golden Orb’s untarnished progress in the belief that he may be a tax-evading financial fraudster.

Asked on the Democracy Now web channel about Trump’s healthcare proposals, he relates the tale of how, when Trump’s father Fred died and the money was divided among the five children, Donald Trump withdrew funding from his seriously ill young nephew’s longterm treatment program because it reduced his own share of the estate.

Greed on steroids, is how Johnson describes the President.

I am starting to think a chemical execution arranged by Mr Scott Pruitt, the incompetent butcher of Arkansas, would be too good for this sick, solipsistic, money-breathing sonofabitch.

Torture, of which he says he approves, should be applied by the bucketload. Preferably for as long as he lives.

 

So, Farewell Spicey

We all hate bullies, right?

But we also despise the people they bully. Also right? Because bullies have an unerring instinct for the right victims.

Siddown, New York Times. Recognise the correspondent from Mad Magazine. Yes, your question?

There was something about Sean Spicer, President Trump’s hapless press spoke, that reminded me of boys at my school who were mocked for their inability to play in goal for the second X1. They would pass the stings on to the smaller boys, bullying them but always surreptitiously. You knew that if they found you swigging from a vodka bottle in the bootroom, it’d be them who would go straight to the housemaster. They would develop strange sexual proclivities, stealing your Wellington boots and masturbating into them, or paying their study mates to jerk them off while hanging by a pajama cord from the hook on the back of the door. Not everyone survived that.

Like Spicey, they were always stocky and sandy-haired, with severe short back and sides haircuts, enjoyed cross-country running, military stuff and had a faintly unpleasant odour. You could never imagine them having much success with girls.

Mr Spicer has been replaced already, making somewhat notional his ‘unhappiness’ with the promotion in Trump’s typically delusional CEO fashion, of the first guy standing by the watercooler as the next Communications Director. Enter yet another Wall Street suit, Mr Antonio Scaramucci, ‘The Mooch’, currently senior vice-president of the Export-Import Bank, a “US government agency” not, one imagines, a million miles from the CIA,  which “guarantees loans for foreign buyers of American exports”. (No opportunities for laundering embezzled Russian money there, then.)

“I love the president and it’s an honour to be here,” Mr Scaramucci announced modestly, having found the microphone on-switch, adding nervously: “He is genuinely a wonderful human being.” His first three lies successfully out of the way, toying with a crucifix and a bunch of garlic, he went on: “The president has really good karma.” Then presumably he went home and jerked off in the toilet to a Taylor Swift album, while his wife was on the phone to the party planner.

Mr Scaramucci, “who has no previous experience in communications roles”, paid tribute to Mr Spicer as a “true American patriot” and “incredibly gracious”. “I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money,” he said. (That being all that matters in Trump’s America. So great. Meanwhile, Spicey is swinging from a tree in the woods.)

“Mr Scaramucci also apologised and said he had been “unexperienced” (sic) as he explained his previous criticism of the president. In an August 2015 interview with Fox Business, he dismissed Mr Trump as a “hack” and “an inherited money dude” with “a big mouth”. (BBC News)

If he can explain that away, he’s up to the job.

Despite sounding like an illiterate Bond villain, The Mooch is clearly a tragic shill for the sickest, most demented, bullying fantasist ever to occupy the Oval Office of the White House.

Judging by Trump’s overnight tweetstorm of paranoid bile against James Comey, for daring to ‘leak’ to the failing New York Times (to whom he gave an incoherent wordstream of an interview only three nights ago) that Jeff Sessions, the loyal and devoted Attorney General he wishes he hadn’t appointed to head the Russia investigation, did in fact discuss the election with Russian Ambassador Kislyak, having sworn on oath that he never, he is clearly going to have a horrible time for the money.

Worse, he’s the boss of the sweaty-lipped current White House press spokesbitch, Sarah ‘Look at me, I’m a Christian’ Huckabee Sanders, which makes him the wop filling in a bully sandwich.

But that’s karma for you.

What goes around, comes around.

 

The Boglington Post: Grenfell: the envy of the masses; Wildfires, and floods: a choice of endings; See Beebies; Hips that pass in the night (Paranoia News).

UN reports 2.3 billion affected and 157,000 drowned in floods since 1995. The situation is worsening by the day.

(Photo: Gideon Mendel)

But first…

Angry questions were raised at a public meeting on Tuesday over the £20m raised by charities and individual fundraisers for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, with residents demanding to know why so little money had been disbursed to affected residents.

“Where is this money? It’s not reaching the Grenfell survivors,” shouted one person. “This is money that was given by Joe Public; where is it now? Who gives these people the right to say how this money is distributed?”

Grenfell: the envy of the masses

Just as the BogPo predicted three weeks ago, the bickering over the public donations raised to help the 158 families who escaped from Grenfell’s towering inferno a month ago has begun.

£20 million is a huge sum of money, especially to the typically low-paid service workers and disabled people who lived in the tower, and it would be absurd to argue that after what they have been through, both in the fire and its chaotic aftermath, they can look at it entirely objectively.

It seems, though – as we said – that no single organization has been responsible for collecting, auditing and fairly distributing the money, amounting to £126,500 for each family, whose total income may have been less than £15,000 a year. There is no coherent policy either as to what to do with the money: what it should be used for.

Clearly, most of those families have lost everything they owned. Some might have had contents insurance, most won’t. Would it be appropriate to try to put a value on the furniture and personal possessions of every individual family, the lost work time – with some attempt at compensation for the trauma – or does it make more sense to parcel the money out in grants according to the size of each family, or just award a fixed-amount per family unit in block grants, with a portion of the total set aside for contingencies?

Do the survivors who bought their flats under Right to Buy deserve more than those who were merely informal subletters? Their mortgage providers would surely have insisted on them having buildings insurance. And what about compensation for the surviving relatives of the (obviously many) more than 80 victims, many of whom would have been the sole breadwinners sending money home? Or will that come out of any public compensation due, following determination of blame?

According to the BBC, the Guardian reports, less than £800,000 of the £20m donated has been disbursed in the past five weeks. Clearly not enough is being done. But, as the BogPo recognises after many years of reading these reports, typically it never is. Squabbles over charity donations after such tragedies can go on for years. There needs to be a public administrator to hold all such donations in trust for the survivors, with a remit to waste no time getting them the help they deserve.

We need a public policy, Parliament please note. Remove your fascinated attention from the approaching nightmare of Brexit and your limited prospects for succeeding Theresa May and pay some attention please to what is going on now, in the country.

“We knew there was an inherent danger in the media turning the Grenfell fire into a casus belli for social change before the smoke had cleared. It wasn’t an issue for discussion, it was a fire…”

Reputational damage

Further to which, on 03 July the BogPo published a follow-up Post, expressing concern that unless the survivors began to show a bit more gratitude for the help they’ve already been given, a massive outpouring of community generosity and column-acres devoted to their disadvantageous social situation, seemingly abandoned in the midst of ‘the richest Borough in the country’, they might soon incur a backlash from the tabloid press and the public.

Hundreds of thousands of families in Britain face similarly challenging conditions as regards housing and the ability to properly feed their children. They may not have had to flee their homes in the night with nothing in the world but a pair of pyjamas, but their problems are not dissimilar – and they’re not being offered warm refuges, new homes, free clothing, hot meals and large amounts of cash in compensation. If they were being offered new homes, I somehow doubt they’d be turning their noses up at them.

What the BogPo feared has already begun.

A typical comment (of the politer kind – many are of the opinion that immigrants deserve to be burned to death) comes from ‘Audrey’ on Politico: “If these people were happy to live anywhere that would be fine. But to pick and choose is not right. I lived in a caravan because I couldn’t pick where I wanted. Its alright for some.”

The mainly leftwing commentators who have argued from a position of liberal embarrassment that the survivors’ condition is unique, their case more deserving, praising them for their fortitude in organizing against the forces of bureaucratic inertia, are caught in a trap of their own making. They refuse to  understand the ‘burning’ sense of injustice felt by many citizens who are equally hard done-by but are getting nothing – as they see it – in return. It’s a serious attitude problem, playing into the ‘immigrants always get special treatment’ meme encouraged by the corporatist tabloid media and rightwing websites, whose loathsome bottom-feeding editors are happy to push the immigration button at every opportunity. Nonetheless it is an attitude of which the broadsheet writers must be aware, especially after Brexit.

It’s not helpful of the metropolitan liberal elite (they do exist) to sneeringly dismiss the envy of the masses, to talk up the special nature of the problem. If indeed the low status and disempowerment of an immigrant worker does make them a special case for compassion, nobody cares. Millions of people are in the same boat economically. They may disagree on the reasons for their situation, lacking a broader perspective and insight into the underlying political conspiracy against them, but the internet has given them a medium to express their views and they are increasingly doing so in the ugliest terms.

We knew there was an inherent danger in the media turning the Grenfell fire into a casus belli for social change before the smoke had cleared. It wasn’t an issue for discussion, it was a fire in a building where lots of people died and many escaped, who have been in limbo ever since. A practical problem.

The reasons could wait.

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“The boreal forests in Siberia are burning at extraordinary rates, unheard of in at least 10,000 years. … Siberian boreal forests play a crucial role in the carbon cycle, making up nearly 10 percent of the planet’s land surface and housing more than 30 percent of the carbon on Earth.

“That means that when these forests burn, they are releasing vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere. The loss of carbon absorption in combination with the release of carbon, creates a vicious cycle that leads to more global warming and, as a result, more wildfires.” – Sciencealert.com, 30 June 2017

As our relatively puny storms in the south of England in the last two days might serve to remind us, there are two main problems confronting the world at this moment in time. No, not Brexit, not Trump.

Wildfires, and floods: a choice of endings

The BogPo turns a dispirited eye every few days on wildfires and floods all around the planet, so you don’t have to.

The world is burning. Where it’s not flooding. It does at least give us a choice of endings…

Actually, it’s fucking depressing sitting here for hours watching endless uncut social media footage of people being burned out of their homes in drought-hit region after sizzling region, as desperate firefighters try to beat out thousand-acre conflagrations with besom brooms; while thousands more, sometimes not even that far away, as wildfires can cause storms, trudge chest-deep through filthy water towards government refuges on higher ground, watching their cars float away, indicators forlornly flashing, on the turbid brown tide.

God knows what it’s doing to agriculture, if we shall have enough food come the autumn. It’s like watching the end of the world. Oh….

You can catch up with previous issues where many more disasters are listed, but here’s today’s crop from the last six days:

  • State of emergency declared as ‘1-in-200-year’ floods inundate New Zealand’s South Island (22 July).
  • 100 sq miles of Mariposa County near the Yosemite National Park is ablaze. Thousands evacuated from town of Mariposa. Cal. Gov. Brown declares state of emergency. Dry heatwave (10% humidity) continues into fourth week over California and parts of western USA, elsewhere in US severe storms are causing flooding.
  • Ten drowned, incl. two children, in flash flood while swimming in a river gulch in Arizona. Large areas of the state affected by floods as well as heatwave.
  • Major new floods ‘unprecedented’ following storms in Maryland, USA, around Baltimore, and into Washington DC.
  • 150 fires still burning around Williams Lake, British Columbia; reptd. joining up to form larger ones. 40,ooo people evacuated.
  • CO2 level measured over BC: 743 ppm.
  • Croatia is an inferno after weeks of dry heat. City of Split menaced by huge fires. Vast areas burned out.
  • Violent storm, heavy rainfall with large hailstones floods parts of Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Flash flood inundates the town of Halkidiki, in Greece.
  • Villagers evacuated on Corsica due to wildfires. Fires still burning on Sicily.
  • 70 MILLION people now affected by flooding across northern India, seeking refuge. 100-plus drowned or buried in mud. Six die in flash floods in Kashmir.
  • Still vast areas of Hunan, Sichuan and other Chinese provinces, cities underwater. ‘Torrential rainstorms’ hit Shangxi city. 1 in. (32.5 mm) rain falls in 1/2 hour.
  • Violent thunderstorm, high winds, large hailstones batter, flood parts of Tokyo, Japan. Heatwave advisories across S Korea.
  • Widespread flooding in Timor, Indonesia.
  • Wildfires in Khazakhstan – and in Mongolia, where CO2 level measured at 873 ppm. Torrential rainstorm, hurricane-force winds, large hailstones batter, flood Kirov, Russia.
  • Hong Kong, major flooding from Tropical Storm Talas. 70 mm (2.7 in.) rain falls in less than 1 hr.
  • UK villagers and tourists evacuated as more storms hit across Cornwall and the south of England. 7 in. rain in three hours.
  • Oh, and we missed a storm with large hailstones and flooding that hit Beijing on 08/9 July, 1 dead.
  • Nearly 700 wildfires in Europe, EU area, so far  = 3 times the annual average since 2008. 70% crop damage in Spain, Italy.
  • These wildfires remember are venting huge volumes of carbon and other g/h gases into the atmosphere.
  • Parochial reporting on an event-by-event basis ignores that floods and wildfires are a unified, worldwide problem.
  • STILL PEOPLE WILL NOT ABANDON THEIR CARS!

(Climate and Extreme Weather News #45, 46. Arctic News/Floodlist)

Non weather-related disaster news, 21 July the earthquake swarm at Yellowstone is now in its 40th day. Almost 1500 quakes recorded to date – many not. Quakes getting shallower may indicate magma rising.

He’s annoying, obsessive, but there’s a rogue geologist who forecasts earthquakes online. His record is extraordinary, although the official surveys like the USGS have tried to get him shut down. If people knew about ‘Dutchsinse’, they might not have gone on holiday to the Greek islands – a predicted M6.7 earthquake struck the Turkish coast last night, 2 dead, over 1oo injured on Kos. Look for more activity in Italy. His 19 July forecast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCOYb_Q1xNQ. Global seismic activity is at a very high level currently.

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See Bawbees

Christ, no wonder the BBC can’t prise their tiresome ‘star’ presenter John Humphrys and other dead white males out with a crowbar.

When I worked for the BBC, I was paid about £4,000 a year on monthly contract as a bulletin writer, news presenter, continuity announcer and producer of creative programme trails on a regional breakfast show in London. That was in the 1970s. I too know what an awful life it is, stumbling out of bed at 4 am to be picked up in a chauffeur-driven Jaguar and conveyed bleary-eyed and crapulous to the studio to open up transmissions with a cheery 10-minute news broadcast at six. I do sympathise, but.

I seem to recall, there was a compulsory retirement age at the time, of 60.

Mr Humphrys is a hale and hearty 73.

Older than the BBC, and still at it – the legendary Nicholas Parsons, worth $12m.

That of course pales in comparison with the remarkable Nicholas Parsons, eternal juvenile comedy gameshow host of ‘Just a Minute!’, who is – I could look it up – 94? It’s all in the genes, as I’m sure he would say. I met him once, years ago at a charity cricket match my dad was playing in. Born three years before the BBC came into existence, his personal net worth is given as $12 million, I see – enough to keep anyone alive.

For reasons best known to himself, probably to do with the BBC’s usual craven fear of the ever-moaning Tory right, Director-General ‘Lord’ Tony Hall has chosen to post the salaries of his top 96 best-paid entertainers and presenters, making them targets of public envy and opprobrium – not to say rape and death threats.

Personally, I don’t give a fuck if they want to pay Chris Evans £2.2 million a year for a couple of hours a day, I’m sure he’s probably worth it just to keep the Terry Wogan memorial crowd fuming.

I do however quibble with autocue-readers on a quarter of a million pounds a year. “I can do that”, as someone used to say in a BBC drama series. “Gizza job!”.

Humphrys appears to be being paid £600 thousand a year. Well-more than three times as much as the Prime Minister, and five times what any of the stock politicians legally earn, of whom, it is said, he holds their ‘feet to the fire’ as the legendary Torquemada of the Today show.

I wonder how they will respond to him interviewing them now?

He is but one of a team of five (do we count Noughtie?) who alternate in pairs as presenters of the Radio 4 flagship Today programme. Without consulting the list, I seriously doubt that the two women on the show, the strike-breaking scab Sarah Montague (aka Lady Brooke) and Mishal Husein, who trans-medializes as a TV news anchor, earn even a third of what Mr Humphrys does; although he also fronts the popular and long-running quiz show, Mastermind, and is sent off on occasional junketing ‘special’ reports.

My beef with Mr Humphrys, for what it’s worth, which in my case appears to be fuck-all, is that he is a tendentious Welsh humbug, born with a soapbox in his mouth. No interviewee is ever allowed to put their case, no case is granted independent veracity, until they have signed the pledge, apologised profusely for their point of view and sworn to uphold Mr Humphrys’ Presbyterian values, to join him on the moral high-ground.

Furthermore, as a journalist he is an inveterate getter-holder of the wrong end of sticks. He will bang on at interviewees for many wasted precious minutes trying to extract some irrelevant detail or confession his researchers have told him is the point of the story, or that he has personally decided is the nub of the matter, when it isn’t, and then abandon the attempt, leaving listeners none the wiser.

He is awful. Tiresome; a bed-blocker. And at his age he doesn’t need £600 thousand a year. At 67 I live perfectly well on £14k. That, by the way, will be the tip of the iceberg: personal appearances, book royalties, ‘corporates’ and endorsements will push his earnings well past the £1 million mark. It’s past time he retired to his farm, see to the sheep.

I was probably pretty useless as a broadcaster, as I was at being a farmer, and in 1975 in youthful pursuit of creative opportunity and autonomy I committed the unpardonable sin of leaving the staid old BBC to go and work in a more senior, more exciting role in the commercial sector, and it didn’t pan out. I was never allowed back again.

So yes, John, this is sour grapes. They make the best wine.

(Dawn, and the women of the BBC are on the march. Tense confrontations have followed the discovery that they are paid virtually nothing – well, just a few hundred thousand pounds – compared with the middle-aged white chaps trousering millions. Bland but quivering-inside corporation executives are roasted by Kirsty Wark on Newsnight. Licence-payers aren’t too happy either.)

Postscriptum

A casual flick down the swill-bucket list reveals that the absolute best and most deserving of the BBC News journalists, especially foreign correspondents like the veteran John Simpson, £150k, who risk their lives filing copy from the world’s worst danger zones, are paid sod-all compared with gibberish-spouting sports commentators like Lineker (£1.79 million, not including commercial income) and the pretty-boy and pretty-girl autocue jockeys and ‘unscripted’ showbiz hacks like Strictly’s Claudia Winkelman (£550k a year).

It goes to show the BBC’s sense of priorities.

 

Helpful hints #1: Complain to the BBC

When complaining to the BBC, before keying Submit make sure you highlight the text of your complaint, Ctrl C, and paste it for safety somewhere else, like on a Word document. You may find submitting your text the first time causes it to disappear. Once gone, it is gone – there is no going back.

x

Paranoia News

Hips that pass in the night

I went to bed in the early hours of this morning only mildly drunk, feeling everything to be in working order. Most things.

Which is why I was slightly surprised to find when I got up this morning, that my left leg would no longer bear my weight on the stairs. The hip, too, was sending shooting pains down my leg and up into my lower back.

Nor could I remember anyone’s name. In fact, some familiar names – I run through what and who I am going to write about each day while making breakfast – have only now started to come back to me, two hours and a pain-wracked dog-walk later. Being unable to recall the name of the editor of Private Eye, that you’ve known for years, is not something you can really take to the Accident and Emergency ward and expect any sympathy.

Was it a mini-stroke, or the wine – combined with these worn-out shoes I persist in wearing?

That the world had altered profoundly in the night was born out when I came to reawaken this, muh sleeping li’l laptop, only to find that someone or some thing had replaced my usual Firefox homepage – there, I remembered the word – the BBC News page, with an intruder called ‘Bing’. Firefox had been removed from the system, although the icons remain.

Bing, the obvious product I now realize of a non-specific Microsoft update I foolishly agreed to before toddling up to bed, appeared to offer no solutions as to how one might get rid of it and return to one’s comfort zone. There were no tabs visible, the dropdown menu offered nothing but trivial pursuits and a forwarding address to something called Edge.

What was happening to me?

The reet scary thing was, Bing would appear whenever I clicked the Firefox icon on the task bar. It had completely taken over my digital universe. How would I get back to all my usual haunts, email and YouTube apocalypse videos – the Guardian and the Washington Post – this, muh li’l bogl? Should I call my son, many miles away and busy with his dissertation? Could I bear his scorn?

What you are seeing now, dear Spammers, Likers, Followers and Those No Longer Reading This, Muh Bogl, is a workaround. Things are far from normal. The weather, too, has turned positively frigid today, rephrase that as negatively warm and humid, as it still was last night. Strangely shaped dark-grey cumulus clouds are rising like ragged columns of smoke from behind the hills.

It feels like snow in July.

 

Brexit: a thought

It ocurred to me that if we had voted by a narrow majority to Remain, the EU would have been so grateful, we’d be in talks now about how we’re going to reform it.

Instead of staring over the edge of the White Cliffs of fucking Dover down at the Long Drop, marvelling at the wondrous complexity of life.

Fucking idiots.

The Boglington Post: Wimbledon: Enough. Who? Your filter-bubbles will not protect you. A not-unattractive moustache on the face of a woman..

Enough.

I’m watching the emotional breakdown of a fiercesomely black-bearded man of 28, 6’6″ in height, who looks like he might be losing a game of tennis barely before it has begun.

Former US Open winner, Marin Cilic is sitting on the sideline of the packed Centre Court at Wimbledon in tears, at three games and a set down after only half an hour, in the second set of the men’s final against the Swiss master, Roger Federer – at 35 an older man whom he has beaten in matches before, but who on this occasion will not allow his record eighth victory here to be denied.

You’d think seven would be enough for anyone.

Cilic is a brilliant, agile, powerful player with a deadly accurate 130 mph serve, but after two weeks of battering five-set tennis against players of his own stature in the crucible of the Centre Court he bears the entire weight of expectation of the people of Croatia, his impoverished Balkan homeland, and there is little he appears to be able to get right in this, his first Wimbledon final, against a player uplifted by his delirious corps of fans, who has run through his opponents so far without losing a set.

That Cilic will take home £1.1 million as the losing finalist means nothing compared with his national pride.

We have seen too many players recently who are being emotionally destroyed by the pressures of this demanding singles game. That includes our own darling of the Centre Court, the driven Andy Murray, who disintegrated in front of our eyes on winning his Olympic gold medal in Rio against the huge-serving Argentinian, Juan Del Potro; and dissolved again on winning last year at Wimbledon against the Canadian child-mountain, Raonic.

The half-witted commentators are at a loss to explain Cilic’s emotional state, speculating for several minutes that he must have sustained some injury.

He has. Blisters on his enormous feet, huge toes sculpted by Michelangelo, are being attended to by the tournament doctor, who seems to be more concerned about his client’s emotional state. Injury is the best explanation the pundits in their box can manage, as the honour of the game must be beyond question.

Scenting blood, on goes Federer, his almost miraculous groundstrokes bludgeoning and whipping and passing and outsmarting his wounded bear of an opponent, a giant being steadily dismembered by the Swiss’ alchemical skills. Each 3-minute average-length game he wins brings him another £122,000.

It is more than I can watch, which is why I’m writing this instead. I feel guilty being a part of it.

And now the Wimbledon crowd has swung behind the tall Croatian, urging him on. Not because they want him to win. They just want him to win a set or two so they can admire their hero a while longer. They want their money’s worth. They love an underdog.

Too much money, too many physical demands as the men’s game especially nears the margins of human endurance, too much expectation ladled over the players by an insatiable media and its complicit commentators; too much pressure, too many matches….

Federer wins in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. And now he too is dissolving in tears at the courtside, as his wife displays their beautiful blond children to the admiring crowd….

Enough.

(Presumably to rub it in, apart from the money second prize is a crappy little silver platter that looks like something off your auntie’s sideboard. First prize is a rather spiffing, 18-in high, elaborately decorated gold cup he’ll need to get insured.)

 

Who?

Immediately after the tennis the BBC runs a curiously low-budget and unimaginatively plotted 60″ trailer, revealing the ‘identity’ of the eponym who will play the part of Dr Who, at least for a one-off special next Christmas.

Horror upon horrors, the hooded figure of the 13th Imam turns round to reveal a female of the species.

Worse, I’ve never ‘eard of ‘er. It’s political correctness gone mad… Why, we’ve only just got rid of the Doctor’s black lesbian assistant, ‘Bill Potts’, and now this!

And out pour the dumbfuck Who ‘fans’ from their darkened, fetid rooms in force, intergalactic trolls with their misogynistic tweets and farts, like it’s the end of civilization as they never really knew it.

Er, guys… actually, my real GP is a woman! Worse, she’s a German woman (Sorry, I don’t do Twitter)….

Worst of all is the Daily Express, a pathetic snivel of a snotrag at the best of times, owned by a millionaire pornographer and read by 71-year-old Brexit voters, undereducated nostalgic empire-loyalists on caravanning holidays, that has published a picture of the actor Jodie Whittaker ALMOST IN THE NUDE.

The Broadchurch favourite, who is set to replace Peter Capaldi as the BBC Time Lord, left nothing to the imagination back in 2006 movie, Venus. The 35-year-old played Jessie in the comedy-drama, in which she starred alongside the likes of Peter O’Toole, Leslie Phillips and Vanessa Redgrave. Jodie bared her breasts and pert bottom in raunchy scenes as her character flashed elderly actor, Maurice Russell (O’Toole).

The ‘story’ doesn’t mention that ‘the likes of’ O’Toole, Phillips and Redgrave, immensely respected thesps, were GERIATRICS even then. And it was a COMEDY. And NOBODY REMEMBERS IT. Actors need to WORK so they can get PAID, just like the intellectual molluscs of the tabloid press, and they have to do what the DIRECTORS TELL THEM, they don’t fucking make it up as they go along, they don’t bare their ‘pert bottoms’ (only some howling cretin with a hairy arse and prolapsed piles writes shit like that) because they’re morally degenerate, like the editor of the Daily fucking Express.

These soi-disants ‘journalists’ are sick in the head. Almost as mad are the feministas from The Guardian, rushing into print to hail the first female Time Lord in the history of a patriarchal, male-dominated Universe without stopping to note that the character of ‘Missy’, brilliantly played by the barking Michelle Gomez, is also a Time Lord and the feminine avatar of The Master.

No, if I have a moan it is that Ms Whittaker does not come across as a quirky enough personality. I have no problem with a female Dr Who, or anyone anywhere else on the gender spectrum, but the character really demands an eccentric: larger-than-life, grounded in unpredictability. Not just a conventionally attractive and competent actor who has proved that she can spread herself adequately across a range of earthly roles but would not, perhaps, thrill and charm and irritate the viewer in a kickass caper across time and space.

My vote would have been for the thoughtful but flamboyant transvestite ceramicist, Grayson Perry. After Capaldi’s angst-ridden and tired old intergalactic gunslinger who has run out of magic bullets, a creative Couture Who would make a refreshing change.

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“Less than a fifth of Americans are aware that extreme hunger threatens the lives of 20 million people in Africa and the Middle East, yet the overwhelming majority regard it as the most pressing global issue once they have been told, a poll of US voters has revealed.” – The Guardian, 13 July

Your filter-bubbles will not protect you

The Pumpkin reported recently on a US poll revealing that 38% had no idea that Senator McConnell’s American Healthcare Act (AHCA) – also known as Trumpcare – is expected to remove health insurance cover from 32 million poorer Americans over the next ten years, to force premiums up to insupportable levels for those with pre-existing conditions, and to result in $800 billion defunding of the basic Medicare program that covers everyone for things like maternity and care home services.

You’d think they’d take an interest, but most seem happy to rely on Mr Trump’s assurances on the campaign trail that he will look after their interests with a ‘great big, beautiful plan, it’ll be so easy’ and that it is perfectly safe for him to tear up Barack Obama’s detestable, failing Affordable Healthcare Act because he has something much better in mind.

Middle-America votes. But where’s his healthcare now, eh? The silly old dumbfuck.

He doesn’t. There never was a plan. It was another Trump lie. And still the dumbfucks worship at his dainty, well-shod hooves.

When told about it directly, people express shock and opposition: the AHCA (it’s now got another set of initials, I lose track) has, supposedly, just a 12% approval rating. The leech-like Sen. McConnell has had to extend the Congressional term two weeks into the annual recess just to try to get it done, in the face of growing opposition even from Republican senators who have actually gotten around to reading it. Mr Trump has said he will be ‘very angry’ if it isn’t passed soon.

But then he is already very angry about everything and is said when not off playing golf to be doing little else but sit in the Oval Office, screaming abuse at the TV sets.

It is possible to draw only one conclusion from this story, that people are no longer actively interested in what happens outside of their headphones or their social media ‘filter bubbles’, that almost certainly don’t include any seriously life-threatening information they might need to know.

Which gives one little hope that they can go further, to understand that it’s the politicians they vote for who are behind these damaging actions, not the Muslims or the Mexicans, nor Volkswagen, and have an agenda that does not include the ordinary citizen; that major vested corporate interests are behind them*.

For instance, the ‘millennials’ so horrified to discover that vast numbers of people around the world are on the verge of dying for lack of food and water perhaps would also like to know that under the so-far undebated Trump budget, the US government is proposing massive funding cuts to UN relief programs in order to give tax breaks to the wealthiest 1%, but I don’t suppose it’s even crossed their self-absorbed radar.

Climate disruption is another issue that really isn’t out there among the majority of people.

A recent article in the New York Magazine by David Wallace-Wells, entitled ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’, has caused consternation and unleashed a tsunami of outraged denial about climate science, which is ironic considering the article is about just that: our desperate wish to push back against the issue of our imminent extinction as a species if we cannot break our addiction to burning fossil fuels now.

In a summary of the real scientific consensus on the effects of global warming, that we don’t normally get in mainstream media, Wallace-Wells has interviewed dozens of actual scientists to get a relatively modest overview and to write it up unemotionally in a way normal people can understand.

That would account for the torrent of scorn and opprobrium that has greeted the article from the familiar ranks of denialists, the usual suspects complaining that it is not sufficiently ‘scientific’ (irony abounds) to make its point.

Wallace-Wells explains to ordinary readers in plain English that real scientists have been too frightened of creating a panic or of just not being believed if they said how bad things are really getting, of being seen as too extreme, to tell people the unvarnished truth, that we and our innocent co-evolutes on the planet are heading for catastrophe: mass extinction within decades or maybe only a few years.

The article is being hailed as the first ever to try to bring together the various strands of thinking on the issue in order to present them to the lay reader in a popular medium; which is, of course, a bit of marketing hyperbole by the NYMag. Articles, books and YouTube videos abound on the subject. Nothing Wallace-Wells writes comes as any surprise to the Editor of this blog. The information is all out there if you care to look.

Most people don’t.

As of course is the ‘balancing’ view, in the form of articles online and in the rightwing press dependent on corporate advertising, from well funded denialists saying it’s all a big fuss about nothing. It’s marketable contrarianism, dangerously so.

For it appears from the huge response the story has been getting that the mass of ordinary people really have no idea of how serious the situation is; of how many of the natural systems we rely on are already at the point of collapse. Although it is probably obvious to the millions affected by annual droughts and flooding on an unprecedented scale.

The Boglington Post has been reporting the story for some time now, that a growing number of scientists are warning we are passing irreversible ‘tipping points’ in self-reinforcing feedbacks that could create more abrupt disruption to world weather patterns than was previously expected. The release of a possible 1.6 Gt of stored Arctic methane from melting permafrost is but one feedback among many. The signs are all there: a second successive year of record floods and droughts all around the globe, of polluting NOx and ozone smogs, is surely visible to all but the most obdurate denialists.

Wallace-Wells writes, too, that food production will be severely disrupted by increasing droughts alternating with more severe floods and more powerful storms. Well, there go your 20 million Africans. It’s not just about rising sea levels or any single event, a 200 kph hurricane here, fifty tornadoes in one wild Georgia weekend there, but a combination of events. Increasing wave heights because of stronger winds, for instance, are helping to break-up the Arctic sea ice faster. More blue water absorbs more heat, increasing transpiration.

It ought to be snowing in the Arctic now – in actual fact, it’s raining. Warmer seas make for a wetter climate, leading to heavier rainfall and more powerful storms. The normally reliable jetstreams have broken down, allowing anomalous weather conditions to develop anywhere. Thus, last winter we had snow in the Libyan Sahara.

And from Svalbard, Norway’s northernmost permanently inhabited settlement:

“The average temperature for the year was minus 0.1 degrees Celsius, or 6.5 degrees Celsius above normal, according to Bernt Lie, a weather statistician…. In addition, a record 310 millimeters of precipitation fell during the year, 63.2 percent more than normal and soundly topping the previous record of 267.9 millimeters in 2012.

“In July, October and November there was record heat,” he wrote. Temperatures at Svalbard Airport in December were 7.4 degrees Celsius above normal, the 73rd straight month of above average temperatures… Lie, in his summary of Longyearbyen’s weather statistics for 2016, called the trend here a “frightening development.” – Icepeople.net

Even so, the Icepeople website editor headlined the story as if nothing was amiss: “Frighteningly ordinary: Record high temperatures in 2016 nothing new for Longyearbyen or Earth.”

What would you think is meant by the word “record”? Oh, it’s been another boring old record every year for the past six years…. Nothing new, then. That Inuit sense of humor.

This year, extreme temperatures in many countries combined with increasing humidity have brought it home that human physiology cannot cope beyond a certain point, and that point is being reached more often and earlier every year. In Pakistan, in Iran, in Kuwait and California the mercury has topped 120 deg. F. , and it’s not yet the height of summer. The human body cannot cool itself through sweating at those temperatures, with 96% humidity. Your skin chokes you to death.

People are undoubtedly dying. A 100-deg. plus (42 C.) heatwave is in its third week in the south-western United States at the time of writing, floods are devastating large parts of Asia (2’6″ of rain fell on Japan’s Kyushu island in just nine hours last week) and many barely controllable wildfires are contributing to the CO2 burden in the atmosphere; more so in fact than our industrial emissions, which thanks to controls and an economic slowdown have not increased in the last three years. (Worryingly, the global economy is picking up again.)

Whatever the professional denialists in the pay of the energy industries will try to tell you, this is not normal!

The standfirst to this piece, for instance, indicates that climate change is almost certainly worsening the food supply problem for those 20 million Africans and people of the Arabian peninsula. Many of them have or will become climate refugees and die in the desert or drown in the Mediterranean.

Those of us lucky enough to live in more temperate latitudes have no way of coping with the scale of the human tragedy that is unfolding in the equatorial regions, other than through denial.

But this shit is coming for us all, so you’d better look it up and be ready.

Your filter-bubbles will not protect you!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html

*An article by George Monbiot in today’s Guardian investigates a new book by Nancy McClean: Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. The plot by alt-right billionaires to overthrow democracy was first laid out by a Nobel prizewinning economist and crazed free-market advocate, James McGill Buchanan, in the 1960s. Everything he recommended is now happening, Monbiot realizes, with a shock of recognition – and not only in the USA.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/19/despot-disguise-democracy-james-mcgill-buchanan-totalitarian-capitalism

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Granny Weatherwax, 15 July:

  • Canada: number of wildfires in Williams Lake area of British Ciolumbia ‘drops below 200’ but more hot windy weather is forecast. Considerable devastation has been caused, small towns entirely destroyed. Evacuation centres for 14,000 opened across the state.
  • Arctic: temperatures recorded at two locations on 11 July over Canada’s Mackenzie River, one of 32.6°C or 90.8°F at the mouth of the river and another one of 34.7°C or 94.5°F further inland. Surface temperature of water pushed up by increasing windspeeds through the Bering Strait into the Arctic ocean recorded at 10C, 50F. Little sea ice left, being pounded by rain.
  • 65 major wildfires burning across 11 US states. California worst hit: many homes burned, residents evacuated in Santa Barbara. Wildfires in Nevada caused CO2 to reach concentration levels as high as 742 ppm on July 12.
  • Huge storms bring flash flooding and record river rise to the eastern USA – state of emergency declared in Wisconsin. New York State, DC, New Jersey, Massachusetts affected. More forecast. 14 July, major storm in west, parts of Arizona under water.
  • Ciudad Juarez, Mexico – 15 July, city underwater.
  • Major flooding continues to affect very large area of NE India. Up to 40 million ‘marooned’, 85 dead, 1.7m evacuated in Assam. Refugee camps being set up. Still raining – heavy storms over Arunachal, 4 dead in Gujarat. 650,000 affected in Bangladesh.
  • Flash floods and landslides in Tibet – buildings washed away, many evacuated. 42 deg. C.-plus heatwave across China following weeks of flooding (93 cm more rain falls on Hunan province in the week). 16 July, 36 dead in devastating floods in Jilin city. A violent thunderstorm batters the city of Chengdu, Sichuan. Much damage.
  • Typhoon Talas is heading for Taiwan at 12 mph. after pounding N Vietnam. 42 deg. C. heatwave in S Korea turns to deadly flooding. Cheongju city, s. of Seoul, underwater.
  • Many wildfires reported in Khazakhstan. Satellite records CO2 at 747 ppm. Temperature of 53.1°C or 127.5°F in Iran for July 11.
  • Severe flooding in the Irkutsk region of Siberia after ‘endless rain’ has stranded airline passengers. Scientists warning, trans-Siberian pipeline projects could be affected by explosive methane eruptions.
  • Damaging flash floods hit Oman, Trucial States, after days of heavy rainfall in the mountains..
  • Storm floods Paris metro. S France, Spain continue to experience record heatwave. Greek tourist sites, Acropolis closed due to extreme heat, humidity.
  • Italy: wildfires ravage slopes of Mt Vesuvius, Naples; 1,ooo tourists evacuated from wildfires in Sicily, many properties destroyed. While in Calabria, Sicily – deadly ‘rain bomb’ floods the town.
  • Portugal, Alejo, more raging wildfires. Crops devastated across S Europe. Wildfires in Croatia, 34 fires reported around the capital of neighbouring Montenegro.
  • Storms flood parts of Lagos, Nigeria. 20 dead in Niger State. 40 deg. C.-plus heatwave threatening harvest in Egypt: ‘worse year on year’.
  • Coverack, Cornwall, Britain. 18 July. Flash flood follows torrential rain, hail breaks windows, sea surge cuts off road access.
  • An overnight snowstorm has hit Santiago, Chile, for the first time since 1970. A change from recent floods and wildfires.
  • Latest research shows global CO2 ‘equivalent’ – ie overall atmospheric greenhouse gas content including methane (CH4), CO, CO2, SO2, NOx – has reached 490 ppm.

(Climate and Extreme Weather News #42/Floodlist/Arctic News/Wildfire Today/Siberian Times)

Most extraordinary, is to observe from the camphone footage from around the world how people are prepared to take absurd risks driving through rising floodwaters and wildfires.

What climate change?

 

Sports News

A not unattractive moustache

I learn just now that Venus Williams is 6’1″. I am in love. She is such a sweetheart, and at 37 the perfect age. There is of course her opponent in the Wimbledon Ladies final, the aristocratic-looking Garbine Muguruza (6’0″, 23), a lovely creation for whom the word ‘lissom’ was surely invented.

If Muguruza wins, it will be because of her sense of style. She has been wearing Stella McCartney, our leading British designer and daughter of the Beatle. Everyone else is in Nike, or Adidas – or, as in Williams’ case, her family’s own-brand. Peasants.

Yet despite her perfect shoulders (I’m a bit of a shoulders man), the heavily strapped-up leg is not such a good look. This year, our leading players all appear stricken. Murray, Nadal, Djokovitch and many more have limped out in the second set or finished as losers, broken and bowed, owing to accumulated injuries. Many are match-rusty after months out of work, undergoing operations and retraining. Some should frankly not have turned up just to collect their first-round losers’ appearance fees, which are not ungenerous, bilking the crowd.

Commentators have suggested it might be due to their top-heavy match schedule. The winners of the Wimbledon finals each stand to go home with cheques for £2.2 million. My suggestion, for what it is worth, is that there is too much money in the game and that if even the top players are forced to compete week-in, week-out all over the world, even in minor suburban tournaments to maintain their ranklings and seedlings, the organizers of the flying circus might fairly be accused of greed.

The majestic progress of the greatest master of the game, ever, Roger Federer, stands out all too clearly when you consider his age, 34. He has simply swept past his younger opponents with magisterial grace and good temper. Not to mention his breathtaking skill. Miss Williams, too, at 37 to be in the final (she’s currently winning – sorry, no, she’s losing), is a wonderful example of how to be an entirely normal, yet supernaturally gifted human being.

Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Glaxy) and John Lloyd (Blackadder) wrote a silly book years ago, taking odd-sounding but real place names as the basis of funny dictionary definitions. Scrabster is a hardscrabble fishing port on the unforgiving east coast of Scotland, from whence come the finest kippers (smoked herring). It is also: ‘A not unattractive moustache on the face of a woman’.

The Spaniard, Muguruza is definitely a qualifier. And some woman! You knew she had her semifinal opponent Simona Halep beaten, when in the last two games the diminutive but fast and powerful forest-dwelling Romanian stopped making that hideous shrieking noise with which she propels the furry projectile at 90 mph towards the far baseline; and refused to play the last service return.

But the thing with true tennis champions is, one minute they’re 4-3 down in the fourth set, gasping for air and making desperate appeals to their box to send them more drugs – then before the kettle’s boiled, they’re 5-4 up with two match points in hand and serving for the £2 million cheque. It’s quite magical. Bewildering, how they do that.

Having never won anything, I’m fully qualified to remark on life’s mystery.

 

PS: ‘@StellaMcCartney’ wins, 7-6, 6-0. I feel so sorry for Williams, she is a complete sweetie who has lived under the shadow of her little sister Serena, the most successful women’s singles player of all time (some might argue for Navratilova or Court), who is off on baby-leave, yet she has won seven Grand Slam titles in her own right. At 37, this might well have been her last crack at Wimbers. Boo.

 

For the benefit of Mr High-as-a-Kite

Speaking humorously as I was there of drugs, there is a quite astonishing story in the Sport section of today’s Guardian – or is it the companion Sunday Observer? the website’s the same. It concerns a film that has been made about the ‘Russian doping master’, Grigory Rodchenkov, now in an FBI witness protection program after others considering blowing the whistle on a performance enhancement campaign apparently conceived by Mr Putin before the Sochi Olympics suffered unexpectedly massive heart attacks.

As head of the Russian equivalent, Mr Rodchenkov was trustingly shown around the UK’s anti-doping facilities before the 2012 London Olympics, and so worked out a way of cheating the system. He also devised the great wheeze of drilling a hole secretly under a table in the floor of the lab hut, disguised as a power socket, and passing clean urine samples through to an accomplice on the inside, making this the most wonderful story of opportunistic ingenuity since those RAF officers escaped from Colditz.

It’s a long and fascinating tale, which I recommend to anyone who wants to be educated in the workings of Mr Putin’s and the greater Russian mindset, especially in the light of the efforts to tamper with last year’s (and next year’s) US election. There’s too much to plagiarise for this article, so go to:

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/15/russian-doping-programme-olympics-london-2012-sochi-2014?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=235195&subid=19570602&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

Pip pip!

UB

The Pumpkin – Issue 25. As we discover President Trump encouraged Saudi Arabia to go to the brink of war with Qatar for refusing Jared Kushner a $500 million bailout over a failed property investment, we learn too that the Russian lawyer who dished the dirt on Hillary Clinton is not quite what she seemed…

As we discover President Trump encouraged Saudi Arabia to go to the brink of war with Qatar for refusing Jared Kushner a $500 million bailout over a failed property investment, we learn too that the Russian lawyer who dished the dirt on Hillary Clinton is not quite what she seemed…

 

“As long as senior republicans in both houses of Congress can keep up the pretence that each successive story that emerges is somehow not connected to any other and that ‘collusion’ with a foreign power to rig an election is not technically a crime, the likelihood of impeachment remains remote.”

Perhaps she was on a shopping trip?

Mr Trump has firmly and publicly stated, both as candidate and as president, on many occasions that he has no business connections with Russia.

Yet here is Mr Emin Agalerov, 37, pop-singer son of a Moscow property developer with whom Trump had a business connection, interviewed in the Washington Post in April 2016:

 “I consider him a friend. We exchange correspondence. We see each other a few times a year.”

This declaration sits alongside the admission by Trump’s middle son, Eric, in 2014 that, according to golf writer James Dodson, “We have all the funding we need out of Russia” to pay for the president’s $100 million golf resort developments.

It seems the Trump boys are keen to sabotage their father’s presidency, if not to see him in jail.

The latest furore among so many to choose from concerns a meeting oldest (but not wisest) son Donald Trump Jr had in June of last year with a Russian lawyer in New York. You’ve probably heard the substance of the story, but there is an interesting timeline attached, that makes it too complicated a story for the British mainstream media to fully explore.

Allow the Pumpkin!

First, know there is a pattern to stories of Trump campaign contacts with Russians. This meeting among many others involving members of the Trump campaign and his family was never registered anywhere, even when matters of security clearance were legally pressing, and has been consistently denied up to the point where it could no longer be concealed.

Following the initial revelations, defence lawyers have been engaged, hasty retrospective legally-required declarations have been made months after the event, and a series of fast-changing statements and explanations have followed, many of them patently contradictory and absurd. Such as, that Trump Jr ‘did not know’ in advance who the Russian lawyer was or what she wanted to talk about.

In which case, why accept the invitation to go to the meeting without either wanting to know more, or – alarm bells ringing – contacting the FBI? In any case, it was made quite clear in emails released by Trump what the meeting was for, that he now admits.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, it’s said, was not a Russian government official. Except that she has represented government ministers in court and is married to one. An unofficial channel, then. Why on earth would she have bothered – and been granted a visa – to fly to New York, just to chat with a junior member of the Trump family for ‘twenty minutes’?

Perhaps she was on a shopping trip?

Well, because of the Magnitsky Law. She wanted a deal whereby, if Trump Sr were elected, he would revoke the Obama administration’s embarrassing law preventing US citizens from adopting Russian babies: part of the regime of sanctions, directly related to the death in prison of human rights lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky – a noted opponent of Putin and an anti-corruption campaigner, who plainly had knowledge of Putin’s extensive network of shady business dealings and had to be silenced.

I’ll repeat the question, then. Why on earth would she have bothered – or been granted a visa – to fly to New York, just to talk to a junior member of the Trump family, if she was not acting on behalf of the Russian government? Well, some reports suggest she was in New York anyway to observe or take part in, an inchoate legal battle involving three Russian oligarchs all accusing one another of owing huge sums of money as a result of a drunken bet in a London club.

Oh, well. It was only a 20-minutes meeting, she was ‘vague and rambling’ (a top government lawyer? Come on, Donny, you can do better than that! Maybe it was jetlag?) and didn’t say anything useful so we made our excuses and left.

We, being Donny Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, who were all at the meeting together. What were those others doing there, if Donald didn’t know what the meeting was going to be about. Bodyguards?

And then someone, I know not who, some Congressional committee chair, demanded to see the RSVP in the form of emails sent to Trump by the sleaziest-looking, cheapest and least likely go-between it would be possible to conceive of, one Rob Goldstone: a grimy, overweight British former tabloid newspaper hack turned ‘music promoter and friend’ of Agalerov, a low-grade pop star in Russia whose video Goldstone helped to put together.

It makes Watergate look positively dignified.

This Goldstone, it seems, was selected by the Agalerovs as the US end of the connection, owing to his involvement with Trump’s tacky Miss Universe party in Moscow in 2013, after which Trump tweeted excitedly that he had ‘met all the oligarchs’ (he is really only 11 years old). And in his naive enthusiasm, that could come back to bite the prosecution if this ever gets to court, Goldstone boasted excitedly if a tad unwisely in his emails about Veselnitskaya bringing useful dirt on Hillary Clinton, ‘highly classified’, ‘Russian government’ information, and in HIS naive enthusiasm Donny Jr emailed back that he ‘loved it’.

So the correspondence is there for all the world to see, that Trump campaigners had no scruples whatever about treating with an inimical foreign power to obtain electoral advantage, although up to that point it is unlikely they were aware, as the Obama administration was aware, that the Russians were already poking about in the internet files of the Democratic party; and the only legal evidence that the Russian government was involved is that enthusiastic claim by a fourth-rate British pop music promoter. So sad.

Sadly too, the worst the trio can jointly be accused of is conspiracy to commit computer fraud – encouraging hacking. Rigging elections is not illegal – for Republicans it’s a sacred duty. But Kushner’s personal situation is more serious. He has an official government position. He could be looking at five years in jail for failing to disclose the meeting – one of any number of Russian and other foreig meetings he failed to disclose – on his application for top-level security clearance.

Curious timeline

A few hours after the meeting took place, at which nothing at all interesting was imparted to Team Trump, Donald Trump Sr got into one of his childish tweeting spats with Hillary Clinton. “Where are the 33 thousand emails you deleted?” he asked, triumphantly. The interesting thing being that up to that moment, Mr Trump had almost certainly not known either that Mrs Clinton had deleted any emails, or that there were 33 thousand of them.

The next thing I suppose was significant was that, eleven days later, Trump fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and appointed Paul Manafort in his place.

Manafort, according to the New York Times, had been under scrutiny by the FBI since 2014 over his highly questionable dealings with the deposed Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovitch, a profoundly corrupt Putin crony who fled the republic at the height of what had started as one of those peaceful ‘velvet revolutions’ over his backtracking on a deal with the EU and is now holed up in Moscow.

Mr Manafort was said to have featured more than once on the long list of names of directors of obscure offshore shell companies set up through the secretive law firm, Mossack-Fonseca: the leaked, so-called Panama Papers. Tentative connections were being drawn between the $17.9 million in ‘consultancy’ fees he is said to have received from ‘a Ukrainian political party’ and the $37 billion Mr Yanukovitch is said to have looted from state coffers before he fled in a convoy of cars organised for him by the Russians, which had to be parked somewhere. There seems to have been a bit more to Mr Manafort’s services than just PR ‘election advice’, and any number of federal statutes might be invoked.

Following the appointment of Manafort, Mr Trump noticeably reversed his campaigning rhetoric on the subject of Russian military interference in Eastern Ukraine; replacing without notice passages in a speech he had been given to spout by the Republican campaign organizers supporting US arms sales to the government in Kiev. They were now off the agenda.

Then, two weeks after the meeting an elderly party ‘fixer’, Peter Smith, started trying to recruit some figures on the so-called ‘alt-right’, computer experts – one of whom is said to be a Russian speaker – to mount a search for the missing Clinton emails. The aim was to trace the hackers connected with Russian military intelligence, including the infamous ‘Guccifer 2’, who were believed to have stolen them.

Interviewed for the Wall Street Journal shortly before his death – from natural causes – Smith overnamed his connections with the Trump campaign’s attempts to find the supposedly incriminating emails. Among them were General Mike Flynn, to whom he was to report on progress; former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and campaign chairman Sam Clovis, the Journal reported.

Later naming his Transition Team, Trump would make Flynn his National Security Advisor, despite numerous red-flag warnings that Flynn was under investigation for possible breaches of the Foreign Powers Act and susceptible to Russian blackmail; Bannon his Chief Strategy Advisor, Conway his frankly disastrous Communications Director and Clovis Secretary for Agriculture, in which position Fat Sam – formerly a right-wing radio ‘shock-jock’ – lobbies enthusiastically for the agrichemical poisons industry.

Manafort was fired in August after only two months when his Ukrainian connections became public knowledge and has since, as they say, been ‘helping with enquiries’ at FBI headquarters.

But will he go?

As the Russiagate revelations have burst, one by one, in almost nightly exposés in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal – all the best Fake News media – picked up and amplified by TV news channels like ABC, CNN and NBC, virtually every senior member of the Trump administration and his nepotistic family appointees, as well as Donald Jr, has ‘lawyered up’, in the telling phrase. Why, are they expecting something of a legal nature to eventuate? Something they can’t admit to?

There is clearly more to come out. These and many other matters are under investigation by the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller 111. As long as senior Republicans in both houses of Congress can keep up the pretence that each successive story that emerges is somehow not connected to any other and that ‘collusion’ with a foreign power to rig an election is not technically a crime, or that somehow Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were the real conspirators, the likelihood of impeachment remains remote, despite the damage this is doing to their re-election prospects. They still imagine it is containable.

Their complacency is to ignore the depth and complexity of the Russian attack. While not ignoring that the Russians have been attempting to undermine Western democratic institutions in the same way for decades, what’s new here is that they appear to have found willing partners, suppliers and co-conspirators in the USA. What effect did that have on the election result? (It’s too late to declare it null and void, so given the President’s powers of pardon and his ability to fire the Special Prosecutor should he wish to take that risk, nothing more can be done.)

It’s not only a question of Hillary’s emails – who hacked them, and what did they do with the information – which we know, they passed it on to WikiLeaks to dump on the open market. The emails were a by-product of attempts to obtain information advantageous to the Trump campaign through hacking attacks by Soviet military intelligence, the GRU’s special cyber unit. But there were also phishing attacks on the voting registration technology and voter rolls, designed to find weak links to disrupt the election itself; and to have strategies in place for the 2018 mid-terms.

Indeed, obtaining the most detailed personal records available of all 205 million voters registered in the USA seems to have been, and continues to be, a central policy ambition – the Holy Grail – of the Republican party, which has become notorious for its attempts to gerrymander constituencies by manipulating or suppressing voter rolls: striking off Democrat supporters, mainly black and Latino voters, disqualifying them by such basic tactics as not counting people having similar names ‘in case’ they are duplicates.

Such confidential data would also be commercially valuable, immensely so, and play a key part in any possible action against the Muslim minority, self-identified through registration forms which demand to know the religious affiliations of voters. A database of all the Mulsims in America could quickly be compiled, were 44 States’ governors not holding out against demands from the White House to release the supposedly confidential lists.

So far, admittedly, it has not been shown that Trump Sr was connected directly with the antics of his campaign managers and members of his own family. He has denied knowing about the Veselnitskaya meeting, although he was in the building at the time; while Donald Jr is sticking to his story that nothing came of it so he didn’t tell anyone about it. Why not? “Hey, Dad, I just met with a hot Russian lawyer in the office down the hall from yours in Trump Tower, I gave her a nine, you’d have liked her!”?

Why wouldn’t he have said something like that, a person obviously of such low-grade intellect?

The bigger picture

It should perhaps therefore be mentioned that the ‘Russia thing’ is far from the only game in town. Trump is also facing dozens of private law suits, some relating to the notorious Trump University scandal, some to his property businesses and others to his forcing Twitter to take down litigants’ accounts because of their tweeting criticisms of him.

The FBI, the CIA, the Special Prosecutor and at least two Senate committees, plus two specialist financial Grand Juries in the states of East Virginia and New York are involved in investigating his past and current business dealings, under suspicion of active co-operation with international money-laundering operations, possible sanctions-busting and connections to organized crime.

Then there are:

  • possible breaches of the Foreign Emoluments Act in that he continues to receive profits from his ownership of overseas hotels and golf resort businesses, from which he has refused to divest himself or where his family remains in charge;
  • his reported abuses of charity tax exemptions through the use of Trump Foundation money for his own purposes;
  • attempts to get hold of his tax records, which uniquely among senior political appointments he is hanging on to for grim death;
  • and the matter of whether or not he attempted to pervert the course of justice.

This last in connection with accusations that he tried to pressure the heads of the intelligence agencies – culminating in the firing of FBI director James Comey, since when terrified security agency directors Dan Coats and Admiral Mike Rogers have refused even under oath to answer questions about whether or not he also leaned on them – to drop their investigations into the aforementioned matters, but also:

  • General Flynn’s belatedly declared foreign agenting activities on behalf of Russia and Turkey;
  • Jared Kushner’s financial dealings with Russian and Chinese banks (and Qatar, see below);
  • Kushner’s and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ undeclared meetings with Russian spymaster, Ambassador Kysliak

…and so on it goes.

There is so clearly something Trump has been directing his staff and family to say nothing about, or to perjure themselves; something he is willing to commit lesser offences to avoid coming out; something really serious that concerns him alone.

At the end of the day, is he prepared to throw all of these oddballs under the bus to protect his secrets, someone – even the son-in-law on whom he dotes almost as much as on his daughter, Ivanka?

As court reporters used to say, the case continues.

 

“…as your premiums continue to rise inexorably in all sectors from domestic… to pet insurance, you’ll know why”

Maybe it’s time to call in their loans?

The US Department of Justice and the Federal Housing Agency are doing very nicely thank you out of levying staggering fines on foreign banks for various misdemeanours committed on or before 2007/8 when the global banking crisis hit.

But it’s not the banks that ultimately pay for their mistakes. You and I are considerably out of pocket as a result, and liable to go on being so, while the unravelling Tory government continues to protest with increasing lack of sincerity that continuing austerity is all the fault of Labour’s ‘mismanagement’ of the economy – that Labour hasn’t been responsible for since before May 2010. It’s a stock meme, but the voting public falls for it every time.

Questions do, however, remain to be asked about Gordon Brown and Mervyn King’s strategy of bailing out the banks without placing too many restrictions on their future conduct, other than obliging them to sit on a bit more of our money and not gamble it away too riskily. And, indeed, those restrictions, based on the so-called ‘stress tests’, came not from Threadneedle Street but from the EU, to loud objections from the striped shirts and braces community.

The Pumpkin is wondering, for instance, if the Government and the Bank of England knew how much liability for the crash was going to be borne by Royal Bank of Scotland, RBS, when the British taxpayer was being forced to stump up £45 billion to buy its 71% stake in the failing bank, money it has never recovered?

The DoJ has just fined RBS $5.5 billion (£4.25bn) for its role in bundling-up a pile of sub-prime residential mortgages (RMBS), dishonestly peddled mainly to aspirant low-income African-Americans in the US’s rustbelt cities, many of whom have since been repossessed by billionaire property speculators like the Kushners, and selling them on to the absurdly-named Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae building societies, giant entities of social engineering that came unglued as a result.

RBS remains a loss-maker, having failed to declare a profit in any of the past ten years. But the good news is, it expects to have to pay a further eyewatering penalty. According to The Guardian:

The Edinburgh-based bank is facing another punishment from the US Department of Justice for the same activities, which could cost a further £9bn, and admitted it had not yet engaged in talks about a settlement in this matter.

Since its bailout in 2008, RBS has incurred fines and legal costs of £15bn ($19.9bn). (13 July)

Let’s remember, it’s not their money, it’s yours and mine. And thanks to the American Empire overlords, we’re spending it twice over. Admittedly, some of the debt has already been laid off to insurance companies, so as your premiums continue to rise inexorably in all sectors from domestic to motor to pet insurance, you’ll know why.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank, of whom more elsewhere, and Credit Suisse have also been hit with over $12 billion in settlements, and the US DoJ is still pursuing Barclays – who have so far avoided speaking to them.

(As we know, four top Barclays executives are languishing on bail pending trial in the UK, accused of bribing Qatar with £300 million to guarantee the bank $billions, ramping the share price so as to avoid having to go cap-in-hand to ask for a Bank of England bailout that would have involved close scrutiny of their books. You can’t win!)

Anyway, it’s one way to bring down the USA’s $65 trillion domestic debt burden, I suppose, by soaking foreign taxpayers. You and me, in other words.

Deutsche Bank and RBS are also listed among the 20 banks Trump son-in-law and all-purpose security risk Jared Kushner is said to owe $1 billion to.

Maybe it’s time to call in their loans?

Maybe before he joins his dad in jail?

 

 

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R-rated item

“Not long after Trump promised to transfer power from Washington to the American people, a wave of spending in pursuit of influence was unleashed. In the first quarter of 2017, tobacco companies and trade associations spent $4.7m lobbying federal officials. Altria, the company behind Marlboro, hired 17 lobbying firms. Reynolds, makers of the Camel brand, hired 13, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/13/tobacco-industry-trump-administration-ties

Welcome to the future

See how Trump was seen coming ten miles off by the desperate shits of the corporate cesspit? See how goddam WEAK they knew he was, how pig-ignorant, how biddable – how corrupt?

Far from ‘draining the swamp’ his administration is packed to the rafters with creeps from Wall Street, scum-rejects from the oil and coal industries, from tobacco and agrichem, from the NRA and with every corrupt and phoney, hypocritical alt-Christian creationist and knowledge-hating misogynist pork-barrel politician who has ever stuck their slavering tongue up his fat, hairy presidential back-passage to massage his presidential haemorrhoids.

Thanks to Trump’s incoherent campaign rhetoric, in which he would promise absolutely anything his antediluvian brain made from congealed greed could think up to jerk-off the dumbfucks, the white trash and the AR-15 toting soccer-moms, to make them love him, he promised to just tear up every human value, every environmental and consumer protection, every civilizational advance he could convince them was stealing their jobs in order to drag them back to the golden age of Betty Crocker Cake Mix and nigger-lynching.

Giving a clear signal to every well-greased corporate shill, PR money-breather, insane polluter, chemical child-killer and Enlightenment denialist to crawl out from under their Roger Stones and capture the White House, leaving their slime trails and spatterings of bloody diarrhoeia, their maggots all over the corpse of US democracy, glumly defended by Skelly-tanned Conway and her roly-poly puppybitch spokesmouth, ‘Look at me, I’m so Christian’ Fuckabee Sanders.

Welcome to the future. What there might be left of it.

(Actually I keep thinking maybe I could take up smoking again, it’s been 37 years. Whaddaya think?)

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The Son-in-Law also Sets

The Independent learns that Trump’s about-face on Qatar following his Middle East trip last month may have a more personal dimension than just a desire to support Saudi Arabia and the UAE in their impossible demands on the unpopular Emirate.

As we reported a while ago, Trump began with a meeting with Qatar’s new young Emir, hailing him as an ally and welcoming the prospect of selling him more beautiful military equipment’; to which end, Mad Dog was sent to negotiate $11 billion-worth of stuff.

He hadn’t been back on the golf course more than two weeks, however, when the Orange Glow was excoriating the oil-glutted mini-state as a ‘major funder of terrorism’ and demanding they shut down the Al Jazeera fake news network and stop talking to Iran.

Under the urging of the US, the GCC (Arab nations) have imposed a blockade on Qatar and are trying to strangle the country with massive sanctions and military threats. The situation remains tense and could very well result in war. The King of Saudi Arabia recently withdrew his favour from his 57-year-old nephew, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, naming instead his dissolute warmongering son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as his successor.

It now appears that Mr Trump’s thinking is being unsubtly conditioned by his own crown prince, the Zionist Jared Kushner, reportedly a ‘friend’ of Prince Salman, in the eyes of many international bodies a war criminal as he presides over the genocidal Saudi policy in the Yemen.

And Kushner seems to have found sufficient influence through his ‘friends’ in Saudi Arabia to take revenge on his other ‘friend’, the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamed al Thani.

Hamed is reported to have withdrawn an offer to lend Kushner $500 million to prop up his failing investment in 666, Fifth Avenue – the building the Chinese also almost lent him money on, including a $400 million ‘sweetener’, before withdrawing their offer – when Kushner was unable to raise the rest of the dough.

Mr Trump, and his scumsucker, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth plastic-boy Kushner, the little hypocrite were – it seems, read the story in (for instance) The Independent – happy to let Arab states go to war in an already volatile region, risking a major regional conflict and possibly hundreds of thousands more lives, just out of sheer vindictiveness.

The Pumpkin has only recently learned that Kushner Sr ended up in jail, not because of some pardonable commercial fraud. Oh no. Jared’s beloved dad was being prosecuted for fraud, and his brother-in-law had been subpoena’d to give evidence. Kushner Sr paid a prostitute to compromise him, and then sent the video to his own sister. He’s doing five years for perverting the course of justice, just what Trump Sr will eventually go down for.

Except he won’t, the creepy Mike Pence will pardon him. He’s such a fucking white Christian too.

Don’t just lock this entire family of overentitled criminal fuckers and mental retards up, America. Hang them.

 

Oh God. Oh God. There’s more…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYaMqY5MK50

Okay, so Natalya Vesilnitskaya…

Not what she says she is. Not what Donald Jr thought she was. Not what The Pumpkin joked she is.

Under investigation also now is surely Republican representative Dana Rohrbacher, who seems to have arranged for the not unattractively dimpled Kremlin attorney to get into the USA without the appropriate clearance to represent a Russian company in a $280 million money-laundering case….

THE Congressman Rohrbacher about whom it was ‘joked’ at a meeting of Republican senators in 2016 that he was in the pay of the Kremlin… along with Mr Trump. Wikipedia reports:

In terms of his positions, Rohrbacher voted to repeal Obamacare, denies global warming, is a staunch opponent of illegal immigration, and favors the legalization of marijuana. In foreign policy, he supported withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, called on Trump to punish Turkish President Erdoğan on embassy violence, sided with Russia in the Russia–Georgia war, supported the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and supports cooperating with Russia in Syria.

In other words, a fucked-up, Russia-backed stoner.

It appears that the Department of Justice (Attorney General, Trump appointee and known liar about his Russian meetings Jefferson ‘Jeff’ Beauregard Sessions 111) let the defendants off in May with a paltry $6 million fine.

Foreign Policy magazine reported:

“Democratic congressmen on the House Judiciary Committee want to know why Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly settled a money laundering case in May involving the same Russian attorney who met with Donald Trump Jr. during the presidential election to offer “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

“The civil forfeiture case was filed in 2013 by Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York — who was fired by Trump in March. The case alleged that 11 companies were involved in a tax fraud in Russia and then laundered a portion of the $230 million they got into Manhattan real estate.”

She’s obviously pretty good at her job, whatever it is. And as of 21 July two US naturalized Russians – a former military intelligence officer now in trouble over his immigration status and a known money-launderer who created 2,000 shell companies for oligarchs, worth $1.4 billion, have been identified as also present at that 9 June meeting, bringing the total to eight.

Just to discuss adoption! Or, indeed, nothing!

Honestly, guys, it’s impossible to keep up with this. Every day brings new dots to be joined in a complex web of money laundering, political influence peddling and deep corruption in the Trump White House, all of it ultimately deriving from the crassly incompetent, self-enriching activities of one criminal family.

When will this nightmare end?

Congress attack on climate science: The Pumpkin – Issue 24: More Damned Lies, plus world weather report.

‘The Republicans on the House Science Committee held a three-hour hearing on the merits of climate change science, a cavalcade of falsehoods so relentless and seemingly irrational that one might well need psychiatric counselling after having watched it” – The Independent, 30 March, 2017

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” (Benjamin Disraeli)

Here’s an insight from the proper scientific community into the problem we have with energy industry shills, rogue scientists, corrupt politicians and corporate-funded populist media creating amplifying feedbacks by cross-referencing one anothers’ ignorance and refusals (for whatever reason) to attempt any semblance of objectivity concerning the very real threat of global warming resulting from humans overexploiting fossil fuel reserves, clearing forest and breeding huge numbers of animals for food.

From: Greatwhitecon.info website – a scientific blog monitoring ice cover in the Arctic:

“We have now broken the all-time global temperature record for three consecutive years and a number of published articles have convincingly demonstrated that global warming has continued unabated despite when one properly accounts for the vagaries of natural short-term climate fluctuations. A prominent such study was published by Tom Karl and colleagues in 2015 in the leading journal Science. The article was widely viewed as the final nail in the “globe has stopped warming” talking point’s coffin.

“Last month, opinion writer David Rose of the British tabloid the Daily Mail — known for his serial misrepresentations of climate change and his serial attacks on climate scientists, published a commentary online attacking Tom Karl, accusing him of having “manipulated global warming data” in the 2015 Karl et al article. This fake news story was built entirely on an interview with a single disgruntled former NOAA employee, John Bates, who had been demoted from a supervisory position at NOAA for his inability to work well with others.

“Bates’ allegations were also published on the blog of climate science denier Judith Curry (I use the term carefully—reserving it for those who deny the most basic findings of the scientific community, which includes the fact that human activity is substantially or entirely responsible for the large-scale warming we have seen over the past century — something Judith Curry disputes). That blog post and the Daily Mail story have now been thoroughly debunked by the actual scientific community. The Daily Mail claim that data in the Karl et al. Science article had been manipulated was not supported by Bates. When the scientific community pushed back on the untenable “data manipulation” claim, noting that other groups of scientists had independently confirmed Karl et al’s findings, Bates clarified that the real problem was that data had not been properly archived and that the paper was rushed to publication. These claims too quickly fell apart.

“Though Bates claimed that the data from the Karl et al study was “not in machine-readable form”, independent scientist Zeke Hausfather, lead author of a study that accessed the data and confirmed its validity, wrote in a commentary “…for the life of me I can’t figure out what that means. My computer can read it fine, and it’s the same format that other groups use to present their data.” As for the claim that the paper was rushed to publication, Editor-in-chief of Science Jeremy Berg says, “With regard to the ‘rush’ to publish, as of 2013, the median time from submission to online publication by Science was 109 days, or less than four months. The article by Karl et al. underwent handling and review for almost six months. Any suggestion that the review of this paper was ‘rushed’ is baseless and without merit. Science stands behind its handling of this paper, which underwent particularly rigorous peer review.”

“Shortly after the Daily Mail article went live, a video attacking Karl (and NOAA and even NASA for good measure) was posted by the Wall Street Journal. Within hours, the Daily Mail story spread like a virus through the right-wing blogosphere, appearing on numerous right-wing websites and conservative news sites. It didn’t take long for the entire Murdoch media empire in the U.S, U.K. and elsewhere to join in, with the execrable Fox News for example alleging Tom Karl had “cooked” climate data and, with no sense of irony, for political reasons.

“Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of this committee has a history of launching attacks on climate science and climate scientists. He quickly posted a press release praising the Daily Mail article, placing it on the science committee website, and falsely alleging that government scientists had “falsified data”. Smith, it turns out, had been planning a congressional hearing timed to happen just days after this latest dustup, intended to call into question the basis for the EPA regulating carbon emissions. His accusations against Karl and NOAA of tampering with climate data was used in that hearing to claim that the entire case for concern over climate change was now undermined.”

http://greatwhitecon.info/2017/03/the-house-science-climate-model-show-trial/

This is a kind of warfare between objective truth-seekers and people who simply will not listen. Unfortunately the deaf ones often seem to have a more obvious reason to continue denying what anyone can see is happening, and what even to a non-scientist logic must explain.

Money.

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More damned lies

On Friday I found myself wrestling with the BBC Complaints system, which is purpose-designed to funnel complainants into irrelevant streams (divide and rule?) and dump everything you’ve written the first time before ultimately sending you an evasive and anodyne response, to which there is no appeal.

While we await that, here is what The Pumpkin wrote:

Full Complaint: You invited on the Today programme this morning Mr Myron Ebell, a known climate-change denier and PR lobbyist for any number of energy corporations, but failed to identify him as such, or to make any attempt to balance the noxious views he espouses, beyond explaining that he is an advisor to the Trump cabinet, giving him undue credibility as a spokesman.

Mr Ebell has a notorious history of spreading false propaganda from behind a succession of well-funded false-front policy institutes, to undermine the scientific consensus on a range of environmental issues. He is widely known to have been in the pay of Exxon-Mobil, Murray Energy, Dow Chemical and many others with vested interests in spreading false information. Mr Ebell has no qualifications whatever as a climate scientist or indeed a scientist of any kind.

He was, however, previously a guest on the Today programme in 2005, when he proceeded to level a series of scurrilous accusations and insults against the UK’s chief scientist, Prof King, resulting in a Parliamentary question. Your production team appears to have been entirely unaware of this history. No attempt was made to balance his offensive views, a black mark against new editor, Ms Sands.

In my opinion (as a former news editor), your entire coverage of this disastrous Trump administration and its ‘advisors’ from the Washington lobby swamp has been permanently on the back foot compared with his own domestic media’s, especially the excruciatingly bland reporting of your overly diplomatic correspondent, Mr Sopel.

The Today programme’s editorial team indeed has been consistently supine: deferential, incurious and seemingly uninformed about the goings-on in the White House. Added to their inability seemingly to find anyone to speak out passionately in favour of the European Union before it was too late, I have to say I am finding it all rather sad and depressing.

Wake up.

So, lo and behold, come this morning and the BBC news has as its second lead, the story that broke in the New York Times on Monday about Donny Jr’s meeting with Kremlin lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya acting as go-between at the Trump Tower in New York on 9 June last year – following which, further reports are detailing, later that same day Trump tweeted a sour-grapes retort to a mocking comment by Hillary Clinton, mentioning for the first time ever the ’33 thousand’ deleted Hillary Clinton emails he would later tell a rally he hoped the Russians would find.

Did he get that number from his son, via the Kremlin?

The Washington Post reported Tuesday:

“The session was set up at the request of Emin Agalarov, a Russian pop star whose Kremlin-connected family has done business with Trump in the past, according to the person who arranged the meeting.

“Rob Goldstone, a music publicist who represents Agalarov, confirmed Monday that he requested the Trump Tower meeting at Agalarov’s request. Emin Agalarov and his father, Aras Agalarov, a wealthy Moscow real estate developer, helped sponsor the Miss Universe pageant, then owned by Trump, in Russia in 2013.

“After the pageant, the Agalarovs signed a preliminary deal with Trump to build a tower bearing his name in Moscow, though the deal has been on hold since Trump started his campaign for president.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/kremlin-denies-knowing-of-donald-trump-jr-meeting-with-russian-lawyer-during-2016-campaign/2017/07/10/c2bfee34-6566-11e7-a1d7-9a32c91c6f40_story.html?utm_term=.78785cc380c4

From there it gets complicated. Suffice to say, if the original email from LA-dwelling ‘music promoter’ and former British sleazeball journalist and big Russia fan, Rob Goldstone, that brought him, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort scurrying to that meeting can be found, telling Trump Jr that the Kremlin wanted to help his father get elected, it will, say Washington lawyers, be the ‘smoking gun’ that proves collusion by the Trump campaign with a Kremlin-inspired effort to derail Clinton and put Trump in the White House.

Of course, Mr Trump’s lawyers are saying the first the President knew about the meeting was last week, although the story hadn’t broken then, and Donny Jr has now hired his own lawyer to try to settle once and for all on a convincing explanation, the affair following the now standard pattern of denial followed by obfuscation in several versions followed by admission and post-dated registrations as required by law.

Apart from the odd tweet, some other things happened after that 9 June meeting, which Donny Jr says he didn’t remember, oh, yes, it wasn’t about anything, I thought I would get information that would help the campaign, it was all very vague, we discussed Russian orphans…. (The Russian orphans thing concerns a piece of Obama legislation called the Magnitsky Law, halting US adoption of Russian orphans in reprisal for the murder in gaol of anti-corruption lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. Putin wants it repealed.)

First, eleven days after the meeting Manafort was formalized as the campaign committee chairman. He was later dropped, however, when the extent of his financial relations with ousted Ukrainian kleptocrat and Putin-crony, President Viktor Yanukovitch became known via the leak of the Panama Papers, exposing probable money laundering.

Then, that same week, according to the New York Times, on his own admission Peter Smith, a freelance operative, put together a team of computer specialists (including a Russian speaker) answering, he says, to General Mike Flynn, to try to find the missing Clinton emails.

Just the first part of this story appeared on the BBC news, but I thought it was a good start, followed by an interview with Melinda Gates in which she criticized Trump for attempting to shut down family planning clinics and, by this evening when the PM programme was reporting on his latest attempt to cut funding to international HIV/AIDS programs, it seemed they had properly taken my advice to heart and were finally getting off their arses before he gets impeached and it’s too late to start detailing the horrors of this bogus presidency.

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Faint glimmers of hope from nowhereseville

It’s not all awful. People are fighting back, often with the surprising assistance of the courts and political leaders.

While the G20 is still wrangling the cretin Trump over his contemptuous and contemptible abandonment of the Paris Accord, long after delegates were supposed to have run the gauntlet of a hundred thousand protestors defying police water cannon in Hamburg to fly back to their offices, Mother Jones lists a small but heartening selection of positive news items (8 July).

The main one of which is a Reuter’s story that “state prosecutors in Maryland, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington, DC, filed a lawsuit on Thursday, challenging Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s decision” to reverse an Obama administration ruling banning the use of Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide known to affect brain development in unborn children.

Why any alleged human being would want to encourage birth deformities in children, I have no idea. Perhaps it is because they are scumsucking psychopaths dressed as politicians corrupted beyond understanding.

Mr Pruitt’s famous hoard of emails from his days as Attorney-General of Arkansas, a State closer to the Stone Age than most, reveal that he had several meetings with the makers of the unborn child-poison, Dow Chemical, prior to his announcement. And Trump’s key environmental ‘advisor’ is, of course, the loathsome bottom-feeder, paid professional liar Myron Ebell, who has directed a frenzied assault from the White House on Obama-era environmental protections and lists Dow Chemical among clients of his PR consultancy, the Dr Josef Mengele Memorial Trust.

Investors, however, are pushing back. Dick Russell’s 2017 book Horsemen of the Apocalypse describes a growing revolt against the energy corps by virtually the entire current generation of the ‘trillionaire’ Rockefeller family acting as a concert party, and other large-scale investment funds that have ‘got’ the point, that their future too needs to be a sustainable one. According to Mother Jones, “In 2011, there were 12 shareholder resolutions filed with food and beverage companies when it comes to climate risk. This year there are 131.”

(It is not a sufficiently well-known factoid, that five major US corporations control 80% of the world’s food production and distribution.)

As powerful as these money-breathing, somnambulant dog-turds think they are, they are not going to win. The tragedy is, a lot of people will die unnecessarily in the meantime. The list of good news stories is still massively outweighed by the current tally of extreme heat and flooding events on every continent, as The Pumpkin and the BogPo have jointly been tracking (see elsewhere); and the effect on global food production is already evident.

http://www.motherjones.com/food/2017/07/youll-be-shocked-to-learn-we-have-good-news-about-food/

 

Big Brother is Locating You

There is apparently an Android ‘app’ alliteratively known as SnapMap. I feel the originators missed the opportunity simply to name it Smapp, in line with the modern fashion for crushing words together to make nausea-inducing neologisms, but let’s move on.

It seems that if you are a subscriber to this useful location-finding service, a derivative of the photo-file-sharing site SnapChat, unless you reset the privacy settings, other users can identify and even view your precise location to within one metre anywhere on a virtual global map.

Stay clear of the bathroom.

This omnipresent eye seems helpful for muggers, vengeful ex-wives, pizza delivery boys and pedophiles, or for when you’ve told the boss you’re in bed with ‘flu and you’re really on the beach, or possibly to the emergency services if you’re having a heart-attack somewhere that doesn’t have a postcode, like in the countryside, and the controller is refusing to send help until you tell them what it is.

But SnapMap seems just the latest in a long list of privacy violations of the kind you’re expected to put up with and to be ruthlessly monetized by a service provider in exchange for the convenience of carrying the equivalent of the Library at Alexandria, the Amtrak timetable, Jay-Z’s Greatest Hits, the schedule of lunar eclipses, the Yellow Pages and the British Museum around in your vest pocket.

The BBC iPlayer recently forced users to betray our whereabouts. Now I get only BBC Wales programmes, which is intellectually somewhat limiting. Worse, they’ve got a section where they guess what you’d like to watch next. It seems to consist entirely of the same episodes of Dr Who and Hinterland (a gloomy Welsh detective show with two-dimensional characters. Ed.) they’ve noticed I watched yesterday.

I feel technology is zeroing in on me, but there are ways to protect yourself.

I keep my phone off the hook, in a metaphysical way, by pressing the Power Off button, although in my pocket it often switches itself on again without me noticing, revealing to anyone interested that I’m in the wine section of Morrison’s again. I never make phone calls, only sending cryptic texts at predetermined times once a fortnight from secret locations around town. I hit the Off button anytime a call comes in, as it’s rarely anyone I need to talk to.

Even so, the battery runs down every day, so I’m assuming the thing is in constant communication with someone. It’s like the Eye of Horus, or the feeling that God is up there counting the hairs falling from your head. Some people find that comforting, I know.

Of course, at my age I’ve no idea what SnapChat is, although I could have guessed from the punning name. It doesn’t sound compulsory, though.

Not yet.

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“I have been wondering, exactly, when is the denouement of the various investigations?”
It’s not a perfect world.
“Raisehavoc” is a Guardian Pick commenter today, Sunday, and she has the following contribution I’d like, without apology, to pilfer for your enjoyment, just as she pilfered it for ours:

Zoe Leonard puts it succinctly in her poem way back in 1992. Timely …

“I want a dyke for president.

“I want a person with AIDS for president and I want a fag for vice president and I want someone with no health insurance and I want someone who grew up in a place where the earth is so saturated with toxic waste that they didn’t have a choice about getting leukemia.

“I want a president that had an abortion at sixteen and I want a candidate who isn’t the lesser of two evils and I want a president who lost their last lover to AIDS, who still sees that in their eyes every time they lay down to rest, who held their lover in their arms and knew they were dying.

“I want a president with no air-conditioning, a president who has stood in line at the clinic, at the DMV, at the welfare office, and has been unemployed and laid off and sexually harassed and gaybashed and deported.

“I want someone who has spent the night in the tombs and had a cross burned on their lawn and survived rape.

“I want someone who has been in love and been hurt, who respects sex, who has made mistakes and learned from them.

“I want a Black woman for president.

“I want someone with bad teeth and an attitude, someone who has eaten that nasty hospital food, someone who crossdresses and has done drugs and been in therapy.

“I want someone who has committed civil disobedience. And I want to know why this isn’t possible.

“I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown. Always a john and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker. Always a liar, always a thief, and never caught.”

So, Ms Leonard got her first want, and her last.

The Pumpkin has commented before that Mr Trump looks and sounds and often behaves like an elderly bull-dyke in male drag; his predatory prowling around Hillary Clinton at the debates was a dead giveaway. She oughtn’t perhaps to have worn that suit.

Liar, thief, never caught?

Spot-on, Zoe.

I have been wondering, exactly, when should we expect the denouement of the various investigations – the FBI, the Special Prosecutor, the Senate – into Trump and his gang’s precise associations with Russian and Ukrainian financial, technological and clandestine political interests?

Is there an endpoint, will armed G-Men fight a standoff with the White House security team at some stage, before storming the Oval Office?

Will Trump be forced to do the ‘perp-walk’, led away in full public gaze wearing leg irons?

It seems to be taking ages to prove conclusions we all reached months ago.

There is a protocol, I suppose – a sitting President is unlikely to be charged even with treason until he has been impeached, and at the moment it appears there are no Republicans scandalized and appalled enough at his outrageous behavior and willing to risk deselection to stand up and impeach the fucker.

They know they hate and despise him and themselves for adopting him as their candidate, but they just won’t, the big wusses.

But will anyone be brave enough at least to tell us that the investigations are complete and the President is a big crook?

I somehow doubt that too. It’s not a perfect world.

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Weather News

  • 138 major wildfires burning in British Columbia, Canada.
  • Palm Springs, California: 122 Deg, F. (50 C.) Phoenix AZ still 111 F. Wildfires in Santa Barbara, Arizona, Utah. Wildfires in Colorado. 90 mph winds, severe storms bring flooding to the east of the USA, Massachusetts – Cape Cod – into New York.
  • 22 dead in floods in Japan’s Kyushu island after Typhoon Nanmadol brings 3 ft of rain in 9 hours. 83 dead since mid-June in Hunan province, central China. 12 million affected, 1.5 million evacuated. Flooding and and landslides hit North Vietnam.
  • 26 million facing severe food shortages in East Africa after two-year drought. Some 15 million are displaced by flooding and 44 dead in Assam, Manipur, India and Pakistan (8 July).
  • Kuwait: 96 deg. F. Oh, wait, that was at two a.m yesterday…. 121 F. now… Watch as a truck sinks through tarmac up to its axles.
  • Madrid, Spain: parts of the city underwater after torrential rain, freak hailstorms. Metro system closed. Greece basks in 42 deg. C. heat. 28 major wildfires reported, two on Crete.
  • Mexico: historic centre of Veracruz under three feet of water.

 

The Denial Gene. On the Button: Myron Ebell and the BBC. Criminal Ecocide. Complaining is Not the British Way.

“Because of your culture of flaunting your ignorance, you can never admit you’re being played for fools…”

The denial gene

We used to keep chickens on our small farm.

A city-boy, I noticed after a while that when we tried to herd the flock into their house for the night, there was always one that would go in the opposite direction from all the others.

That can be a useful evolutionary tactic if you think the other 19 of your fellow hens are clearly going to their deaths, shut up in their house overnight, that they’re all making the wrong decision collectively and you’re going to be safer outside on your own.

We could hear the foxes licking their lips for miles around.

You humans, too clever by half!

I’ve concluded from Comments people post everywhere that there’s a rogue ‘denial’ gene affecting maybe 1 in 5 humans who simply refuse to study the world, to observe, to listen to others, to read and properly evaluate evidence and use the logic and reason God gave them; who actively despise people who do those things as ‘elitist’, imagining everyone will be better off like them: stupid.

Of course, you might not have television and medicine and nukes and a cellphone, but stupid is better, right?

Because of your culture of flaunting your ignorance, you can never admit you’re being played for fools by people who earn more money in an hour than you will in six months.

There’s a reason why Mr Rex Tillerson was paid £100 thousand dollars A DAY for running the huge oil company Exxon-Mobil. They have known for many decades that burning fossil fuels – coal, oil, gas – is a highly risky strategy; but have conspired to quash research into the alternatives because they like to make a lot of money, at which he was very good. Although millions of people in the non-developing world now lead more miserable and impoverished lives because of him and his shitty deals with corrupt states, at least we can keep on driving our SUVs to the supermarket.

Exxon is just one of many fossil-fuel companies that wards off demands for change by paying professional liars millions of dollars to make up stories undermining the overwhelming scientific consensus that the planet is heating to a dangerous degree; promoting the culture of ignorance among working folk, manipulating the media.

Blossom in DC, February

It’s only logical to assume that if we keep pumping billions of tonnes of warming gases every year into a finite atmosphere, it will warm the oceans and affect the weather; we have known it for over 100 years. All the science tells us is that what was predicted would happen is happening, only faster and harder. Data under constant revision are now showing the process of climate change – global warming – is going much faster than previously thought, and has not slowed down as the purveyors of highly selective interpretations have been telling us it has. There is no logical reason to think it might have, is there? Given that we are still polluting the atmosphere? Think!

How much of that money are they sharing with you, trolls? None, of course. You are as ass-poor as ever. Exploitation is, after all, their business and they are very good at it. They are playing you for fools, exploiting and encouraging the class of people who enjoy wallowing in ignorance, educational failures who imagine it’s cool to repeat simple stories that give them the comfort of feeling they’re superior to the many who can weigh-up the facts and come to rational conclusions we hope will save us from likely extinction within a generation.

Fine, if it’s only you pecking around in the dirt outside the hen house oblivious to your impending fate, feeling superior to the hens inside, too clever by half, safely shut up for the night.

I don’t personally give a shit what happens to you, the foxes can have you for all I care, you deserve it. I’m damned if you’re taking my children with you, you recrudescent Trumpish baboons, merely to celebrate your apathy, your ignorance and your fear of people who can actually think.

But, now your infantile trolling has official blessing, and we are losing hope.

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“In an interview on BBC Radio 4 in 2005, Ebell said that the UK’s Chief Scientist David King was “an alarmist with ridiculous views who knows nothing about climate change”. An early day motion deploring “in the strongest possible terms” Ebell’s “unfounded and insulting criticism” was raised in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, and was signed by 66 Members of Parliament.” – Wikipedia

On the button: Myron Ebell and the BBC

God knows, I have been rude enough about the BBC’s unquestioning and uncritical acceptance of Donald J Trump as some kind of normal president, and the excessively ‘diplomatic’ reporting of their chief diplomatic correspondent in Washington, John Supine.

Radio 4’s increasingly bland and poorly researched presenter-fest, the Today programme, this morning (7 June) gave extensive coverage to Mr Trump’s imminent meeting with Vladimir Putin ‘for the first time’ at the foul-smelling G20 summit in Hamburg, and attempted a feeble analysis of his speech in Poland yesterday somehow without once mentioning the phrase ‘white nationalism’, or wondering how he managed to appear so coherent.

(Shielded behind bullet-proof glass, with two autocue devices, a bussed-in ‘cheering crowd’ and a speech 98% cleverly written by Steve Bannon for the benefit of East European white nationalists keen to receive the coded neo-Crusader rhetoric, is how.)

Between eight o’clock and nine o’clock I heard North Korea mentioned only once. No guest referred to the worrying co-operation between Russia and China over this crucial issue; no guest referred to the increasing provocations by the US Navy in the South China Sea and around the coast of North Korea, or the installation of missiles in South Korea, pointing north.

One guest, we forget who, did mention sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine thing, stating that they were being ‘raised’. No guest however referred to the Russian ‘rest camps’ on Long Island and in Maryland, closed down as rats’ nests of spies by President Obama, which Mr Trump has proposed allowing to reopen.

Certainly, no-one queried what or whose strategy lies behind Mr Trump’s new anti-Russian rhetoric increasingly contrasted with his previous support for the Putin regime; or on the likely outcome of FBI and Congressional investigations into Trump’s business goings-on, from which he has not yet divested, as a conduit for Russian and Ukrainian ‘dark money’.

Finally raising the subject of Mr Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Paris Accord on climate change, citing damage to US business interests, at ten to nine the 73-year-old veteran presenter John Humphrys introduced as a spokesman on the environment for the President’s advisory team, one Myron Ebell: a ‘climate-change skeptic’.

Mr Ebell is rather more than that, to say the least, as to be a skeptic one needs to start with some knowledge of the subject. But he is no stranger to Radio 4:

Ebell has been given extensive media coverage, frequently cited or interviewed by journalists in a way that presents a false balance by giving Ebell’s lay views equal weight with those of expert climatologists, and thus misrepresents the consensus of scientific opinion on climate change. – Wikipedia

Mr Ebell is not a climate scientist, nor indeed any other kind of scientist. He is a PR bunco artist from the deepest layers of the Washington ‘swamp’ of lobbyists, who has made a very nice living from lying publicly about the effects of continuing to burn coal, oil and gas. Corporations who have paid Mr Ebell very large fees to spread false stories about global warming ‘slowing down’, a ‘little ice age’, etc., and to do whatever he could to undermine public trust in science and promote the relentless poisoning for vast financial gain of land, sea and oceans include Exxon-Mobil, Dow Chemical and Murray Energy.

Mr Ebell has been connected with, or responsible for setting up, numerous imposing-sounding lobby groups, false-front policy ‘institutes’ working, for instance, against protections for wildlife, opposing the work of the Environmental Protection Agency. Responsible for the insulting pro-carbon slogan ‘They call it pollution, we call it life’, he has also lobbied intensively on behalf of the tobacco companies to prove that smoking is a healthy pursuit.

Almost every one of the vile causes this greedy little shit has espoused on behalf of his paymasters has been fabulously successful, inasmuch as they have provided inspiration for the bulk of the Trump administration’s pro-business policies and have Ebell’s bloodstained fingerprints all over them. It is so easy to press the buttons of dumbfuck Republican supporters desperate to validate their counterfactual ignorance and suspicion of the ‘authorities’.

What this lying creep was doing on the Today programme this morning, I have no idea. I had to switch it off, having previously learned that mental health services in the NHS are overstretched already.

Clearly the editors hadn’t a clue either, as they must have been unaware of the 2005 appearance cited above, that caused such a furore in Parliament, and could not be arsed to spend two minutes doing a background check on this douchebag or to obtain a balancing viewpoint before inviting him to squirt his pus all over the British public – again.

Please write in and complain to the BBC Board, for the sake of the earth.

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“He believes it is perfectly possible to go on pumping billions and billions of tonnes of poisonous and heat-retaining, long-lasting gaseous by-products from combusting carbonaceous fossil fuels year-on-year for two hundred years into a delicately balanced, complex – and above all finite atmospheric system and there will be no consequences to follow.”

Criminal ecocide

As we know, Mr Trump’s strange gameplan for governance has followed a two-track strategy.

One, fill as few middle-to-high-ranking posts as he can, making the administration of government agencies very difficult if not impossible, while at the same time blocking the publication of inconvenient scientific research; and two, put in as heads of departments only people to whom he owes favours, or his own family, inexperienced administrators with no qualifications in the field: people who are fully committed to sabotaging the normal administrative functions of government.

Why, almost anyone would imagine he was deliberately trying to bring down the State.

Why has Mr Trump gone along with this idea that destroying the jobs of people who make the country function safely is an efficient solution to what was probably a genuine problem of bureaucratic inertia? He has no policy to replace the existing system: it is a Year Zero plan, a nihilistic political philosophy that plays to his dumbfuck supporters but risks pulling the country down into a very scary place.

“Thanks for the job Mister President, I won’t let Exxon down.”

Perhaps mindful of his own incompetence in the environmental field, but well-briefed by ‘experts’ working for his paymasters at Koch Industries, Hamm, Devon and Murray Energies, the heavily compensated apologist Mr Scott Pruitt, feral-clown head of the Environment ‘Protection’ Agency, for instance, has just announced a plan Mr Trump would like.

He proposes to spend public funds on finding enough dissenting ‘scientists’ to form a committee to formally challenge the 98.5% of real scientists around the world, experts in many fields whose funding or university tenure does not depend on energy company blackmail, to ‘prove’ that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas – denying a thoroughly researched principle that has been fully and widely known since 1889.

The Director has already declined to refill 57 of the 68 positions on the scientific advisory group that reviews genuine EPA research, and tried to lean on the chairwoman, Dr. Deborah Swackhamer when she was due to give evidence to a Congressional committee last month. to get her to say nothing about the probable effects of his destructive behavior.

Happily, an appellate court has struck down his plan to abandon controls due to come into force shortly on monitoring and reducing methane emissions from drilling and fracking operations, which are of an alarmingly high order; although it looks certain the ruling will be overturned by a Republican-packed Supreme Court, whose casting vote, so-called ‘Justice’ Gorsuch, has never once in his well-funded career on the bench ruled against a corporation.

Mr Pruitt is very probably mad, or has been driven mad by the weight of money shovelled down his fat gullet by vastly wealthy corporate interests. He is, to put it bluntly, a corrupted official, undeniably so according to the contents of many of the nine thousand of his work e-mails that finally surfaced owing to repeated Freedom of Information requests from environmental campaigners, just days after his appointment was hastily confirmed.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/22/scott-pruitt-emails-oklahoma-fossil-fuels-koch-brothers

There is already a cottage industry of climate-change denial, led by lunatics like ‘Lord’ Nigel Lawson, the tendentious 103-year-old former British chancellor from the bygone Thatcher era, a ghoul who won’t lie down, whose entire knowledge of atmospherics is confined to expensive cigar smoke-filled rooms. Showing great cunning (or profound stupidity) Mr Pruitt does not argue that the climate is not changing, in ways ‘we don’t yet fully understand’. He merely refuses with ever-increasing stubbornness to accept that there is an overlying problem with burning fossil fuels of the kind his paymasters are in a new frenzy of ruthlessly exploiting, greenlighted by that other Nobel chemistry laureate, Donald Trump.

Pruitt, as Attorney General of Arkansas an enthusiastic executioner of black people using whatever materials came to hand, believes it is perfectly possible to go on pumping billions upon billions of tonnes of poisonous and heat-retaining, long-lasting gaseous by-products from combusting carbonaceous fossil fuels year-on-year for two hundred years into a delicately balanced, complex – and above all finite atmospheric system, and there will be no consequences to follow.

Or maybe he just believes in getting rich, it’s hard to tell.

A difficult point to make.

It’s kind of a difficult point to make at a time when Arizona is on fire and New York State is underwater. And, yes, when people are dying in heatwaves, floods and landslides all around the world, right now. Vast areas of central and southern Europe, central America, Russia, India and China are all currently stricken with a deadly combination of record heatwaves and record pre-monsoon rainfall. Methane is erupting from a warming Siberian tundra where wildfires are raging, contributing further to the CO2 overload in the atmosphere.

Yes, other factors are involved. Extreme events have and do occur naturally, of course they do, that’s the law of averages; but not all at the same time in so many places, within the same bands of latitude and with the increasing frequency and intensity we are now experiencing. Natural carbon ‘sinks’ kept the climate in balance until we started burning coal, and then oil, overwhelming the ability of the regulator to maintain a breathable atmosphere within habitable temperature zones. The planet has been warming detectably for the past 100 years but is now at a tipping point – many tipping points – beyond which it is difficult to see a way back; and which, researchers warn, will produce more abrupt and economically challenging changes still.

The energy industry, we know, has been well aware of the risks for decades and was beginning to accept that it needed to be part of the solution, not the problem – until last year. Since when, the entire tenor of the gerrymandered and Russian-sponsored Trump administration has been to let rip and to hell with the consequences – just as long as ‘America’ (meaning Republican politicians and their funders) makes a huge amount of money out of us before we all die. How long the courts can defy them, we don’t know.

It is, of course, beyond insanity; beyond understanding, that supposed human beings can act like this.

It’s criminal ecocide; a game of ‘chicken’ with only one outcome.

 

Weather news

The northern jetstream has broken up into several pieces (Paul Beckwith – Ottawa U., 7 July).

Six dead, 20 missing is the toll so far in an unprecedented storm over the northern part of Japan’s southernmost island, Kyushu, 5 July centred on the city of Nagasaki. Dozens of properties have been washed away in floods and landslides. 500 mm – 2 feet – of rain fell in just 12 hours.

56 people are dead after extensive flooding hit Guangxi province in China causing rivers to rise to never previously recorded levels. Over a million people have been evacuated. In neighbouring Hunan province another 1.4 million have been evacuated. Thirty-five people are believed dead. In Assam, India, 20 dead in the past three days. Four million people have had to find higher ground.

California is braced for another weekend of record heat. The temperature hit 122 deg. F., 50 C. in Palm Springs yesterday. Parts of Ulyanovsk in Russia are under 2-3 feet of water.

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“Civilians escaping right now speak of horrific experiences. They have been caught between aerial bombardment, artillery, snipers and car bombs. They live in fear; they hide in their homes without food or water … In Raqqa, too, hundreds of thousands of people are caught in the crossfire, with casualty numbers rising as a result of airstrikes as well as sniper fire and brutal executions carried out by the jihadists to intimidate those still trapped in the city.” Washington Post, 05 July.

Complaining is not the British way

Comparisons, as I keep saying to little effect, are odious.

None of us would wish to have been caught up in the dreadful fire that engulfed and gutted the Grenfell tower-block in west London three weeks ago. The shocked and in many cases destitute residents who did manage to get out, some 158 individuals and families, have lost everything. Many will have been traumatised by the sights and sounds of those who perished on the upper floors signalling for help that never came.

No way out for thousands.

But they are here, and they are safe. While Britain has disgracefully pulled up the drawbridge against the people of Mosul and Raqqa and the rest of Syria and other war-ravaged countries in the region, from where there is no escape; for whose traumatized people there is no relief. None of us would wish to be caught up in that either.

There has rightly been criticism of the inadequacy of the immediate response by the local authority to the social problems created by the fire. Heads have already rolled, but it was not surprising: the numbers and quality of staffing in most local authorities have been in decline for years, although Kensington and Chelsea is said to have cash reserves approaching a billion pounds.

My mother lived in the Royal Borough – indeed, your Uncle Bogler too was born and lived there many years ago.

At the age of 92, after 52 years in the same flat, new landlords took over. Rosie found herself trapped by infirmity and lack of money unable to go anywhere else, a rent-protected tenant alone on the top floor of an otherwise empty building she could not have escaped from in an emergency. Flats in the next-door building were for sale at £12 million each.

We pleaded less than a year ago with the council to rehouse her in sheltered accommodation, only to be told there was nowhere and, anyway, until she was actually evicted and on the street they were not legally obliged to help. She died in December.

Confronted by the immediate chaos of several hundred men, women and children needing immediate rehousing and other support, some of whom spoke little English and were fearful of the immigration authorities, or who may well have lost their jobs by now and moved away, I don’t suppose the council much appreciated the rash promise made by the prime minister, Theresa May, who was herself being severely chastized for her impersonal response to the disaster, of a ‘permanent home nearby within three weeks’, with the government possibly, maybe, someday to pick up the bill.

I don’t suppose it has penetrated through her filter-bubble that there is a grave housing crisis in London, partly brought about by the city’s insatiable demand for cheap migrant labour; and partly by the foreign money-laundering transactions that have been grossly inflating property prices for years, that successive administrations have been happy to turn a blind eye to despite it leaving tens of thousands of private properties unoccupied.

Where were these people to go? Seems a pretty fair question. In fact, it’s a bit miraculous that 139 family units have already been offered housing they are too picky to take.

Yes, look.

I fear there’s going to be a backlash any minute now, and it won’t be pretty.

Because to date, only 14 out of 139 households who have already been offered alternative accommodation have accepted the arrangement. The  others are refusing to move out of their hotel rooms and community halls, complaining that the council has failed to consult them properly about their needs.

I have no doubt their reasons are convincing – to them. Too big, too small, too high up, only temporary, the wrong area… One family were offered a flat in a block in another borough that’s due to be demolished next year and turned it down because they wanted a permanent home, another is on the radio complaining about the forms, the flat he’s been offered is 15 minutes away, too far, he doesn’t like the area – and only two bedrooms (it’s just him and his daughter).

“I can hear … shock-hacks like Katie Hopkins and Richard Littlejohn sharpening their quills”

Meanwhile the rest of the country is struggling with a major housing shortage, ever-rising rents – and over 600 thousand families, many with children, can’t find permanent homes at all or are forced to live many miles away from their low-paid jobs. Gentrification in London continues to push the low-paid out to the margins, increasing their travel costs.

At the mercy of private landlords, most people have no choice where and in what conditions they live.

The list of complaints of the Grenfell refuseniks may be just, their plight genuine, but that is not how it will play to the majority of people throughout the country. I can hear already the scratchy little noise of shock-hack columnists like Katie Hopkins and Richard Littlejohn sharpening their quills and dipping them in strychnine.

It sounds too much like ingratitude, stemming from a sense of entitlement that has been growing among not only the Grenfell Tower survivors, but among the residents of buildings around, the adjacent low-rise Grenfell Walk for instance, that has had to be evacuated because the joint heating no longer works, egged-on by political protestors and the media.

Yes, people will say, you had a terrible experience and you needed help. You’re being offered help, people are doing their best to help you in trying circumstances, large sums of money have been raised, clothing supplied, but nothing we do seems good enough for you.

Your endless complaining is not the British way.

A media storm started, for instance, when one surviving resident found that rent had accidentally been debited from her account a week after the fire, when the authority was supposed to have suspended payment of all Grenfell rents.

Well, good Lord, annoying I know but worse happens to the rest of us every day, struggling with miscalculated utility bills and lousy transportation, waiting three weeks just to see our GP, and all you had to do was point out the obvious mistake for it to be immediately rectified with apologies. Why make so much fuss, so publicly?

The sense must by now be growing in the country that the survivors have grown an exaggerated sense of entitlement, encouraged by media and politicians’ handwringing over social divisions and inequality.

It’s not their fault they’ve been caught up in a national debate that was long overdue and have become pawns in other people’s games; or that they’ve been blinded by the glare of the media spotlight.

It just looks like some of them are taking advantage, possibly for the first time in their lives.