We are the rulers of the Queen’s na-vee… Internetanyahoos… Pal Joey… Head in the sand… GW: ‘I’ve got my love to keep me warm’

End of Term, as reported by The Guardian’s parliamentary sketchwriter, John Crace:

“My name’s Ian and I’m a Brexit addict,” said the SNP leader Ian Blackford.

“Hi Ian,” everyone replied.

“It’s all shit and I feel completely powerless over Brexit,” Blackford said.

“Thank you for sharing. My name’s Stephen Bartley … ” said the Brexit secretary.

 

And a Merry Christmas to everyone. Donald and Ivanka. Melania.

 

Democracy inaction

“This rat-infested, weevil-ridden government, this coffin-ship of benighted fools is intolerably odious. It must be sunk, without trace.”

“We are the rulers of the Queen’s na-vee” (after G&S)

“When Raquel Rolnik, the UN’s special rapporteur on housing, called on the Government to rethink the ‘bedroom tax’, arguing that it eroded the right to adequate housing, the then housing minister Kris Hopkins labelled her report a ‘misleading Marxist diatribe’.”

The callousness and refusal to face facts of the present government is surely shown in no harsher light than in its mendacious and diffident responses to successive reports by United Nations rapporteurs on the effects of its social policies, that amount to an egregious breach of the basic ‘human rights’ of British citizens to decent treatment and a roof over their heads.

Every international advisory report is projected by ministers as a spiritual attack on British values; every inconvenient expert opinion politicized as the work of ignorant, external enemies – untutored foreigners – bent on undermining ‘our way of life’. But, of course, they also choose to rubbish expert reports from our own institutions as well, when it suits them; flat-out denying what is staring the rest of us in the face. Expediency being the name of the game.

When Professor Philip Alston ended his two-week fact-finding mission in November by accusing the government of inflicting ‘great misery’ on its people with ‘punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous’ policies, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd “used her first appearance following her return to frontline politics last week to attack a UN inquiry into poverty in the UK for its ‘extraordinarily political nature’.”

These excerpts are taken from an article on the Open Democracy website today, 12 December, by civil rights lawyer Michael Keller; who points out that, despite our treaty commitments, the UN’s view of what constitutes a proper compact between the State and its citizens is legally unenforceable in the face of an intractable and intransigent administration determined to redistribute wealth to the richest section of society at the cost of its poorest.

As we prepare incompetently to quit the European Union, in breach of our longstanding commitments to our allies and trading partners, and cast off into the big wide world on our own again, the BogPo is reminded of the appalling conditions and brutal regime imposed on sailors of the early 19th century by a lofty and overbearing naval officer class; where even a 12-year-old junior ensign held almost unlimited power over the ordinary able seaman.

Not even the disabled escape. “In 2016 when the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Disabled Persons found that the government was guilty of ‘grave and systematic violations’ of disabled people’s rights, the government responded by refuting the committee’s findings and its ‘offensive’ view of disability’.”

What, a view that says disabled people deserve fair treatment? Offensive? This rat-infested, weevil-ridden government, this coffin-ship of benighted fools is intolerably odious. It must be sunk, quickly and without trace.

The problem, according to Keller, is that while other rights are relatively easy to pin down, a generalized ‘socioeconomic’ right to a decent life is nebulous and without legal definition. “While the Government continues to pay lip service to its treaty commitments, any criticism based on socioeconomic rights will be branded ‘too’ ideological or political.”

It all comes down to the conflict between “human rights’ commitment to individual freedom … (and) neoliberalism’s commitment to the market, property rights and suspicion of the State.”

There is nothing that will shame these comfortable and complacent bilge-rats of the neoliberal wing of the Conservative tendency into adopting an even remotely compassionate policy towards the sick, the old, the disabled, the workless, the mentally fragile, the homeless, the refugee and the poor. Every crutch is to be kicked away; every social service bled white; every ‘assessment’ rigged, every minor infraction of the Byzantine rulebook harshly sanctioned, nothing let to go unprivatized, in favour of the more convenient Protestant work ethic.

These layabouts and scroungers must work, work, work and work yet more for the good of the stockjobbers, the bond traders, the hedge fund managers, the investment bankers, the IFAs, the bent global accountancy firms propping up organized crime, the estate agents and the commodities brokers – the whole money-breathing cartel.

Wheelchairs? Mental health facilities? Meals-on-wheels? Decent, properly run care homes? Schools with roofs, that foster learning? Functioning hospitals and reliable, affordable public transport? Affordable homes and loans?

Fuck ’em.

‘Arbeit macht frei’, as the Germans put it – over the gates of Auschwitz.

Work for your freedom. Or die in the process.

We don’t actually care.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/mickey-keller/in-fight-against-austerity-human-rights-is-not-answer?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=2c9a0c5f0a-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-2c9a0c5f0a-408090269

 

“And there’s this little switch you flick to turn it on…”

Internetanyahoos

Calling for widespread revenge on a Palestinian who shot dead two Israeli soldiers, the son of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing-down potential corruption charges, has been temporarily banned from Facebook after a series of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian posts the social network said broke its rules on hate speech.

This deeply unpleasant, gormless little racist fucker, the overprivileged, overentitled son of the mafia sockpuppet, has been kicked off Facebook – for just 24 hours!

“A Facebook spokesperson said: ‘Yair Netanyahu posted several posts which included hate speech – this clearly violates our community standards. Due to that, this content was removed from our platform, as we would do for anyone posting similar content about any protected characteristic. Following this, Yair Netanyahu decided to share a screen shot of a removed post and called people to share it – which is the same as writing the hate speech all over again’.” (Guardian)

Meanwhile 1.5 million Palestinians, whose past generations from AD 70 until 1947 were the majority Semitic population of Israel and whose rights are supposedly protected under the founding constitution, continue to barely exist in the blockaded Gaza ghetto, dying from a shortage of medical supplies and economic opportunity.

Not to mention from the frequent punitive Heydrich-inspired incursions by the overwhelmingly superior Israel military, arrogantly heedless of the charges of war crimes their abuses provoke from an enfeebled UN, that greet their paltry acts of resistance. The United States is complicit in so much hideous brutality.

Personally speaking, I am just sick of this. It began in the year before I was born and still there is no resolution to it. But it’s none of my business, I’m not Jewish. Fuck that.

Seven THOUSAND have been shot and wounded by Israeli border forces in the name of ‘security’, using live ammunition against unarmed teenagers staging mostly peaceful or stone-throwing protests from behind the barbed-wire fences separating them from settler territory – open farmland. 200 have been murdered. 70 per cent of Under-25s in Gaza are unemployed. The suicide rate is devastating. Yet far from all are supporters of the more belligerent wing of the democratically elected governing party, Hamas.

Palestinians just think they deserve the same chance at life as you do., and not to be blown to bits periodically by a bunch of cowardly racist bullies in Tel Aviv with connections to the Russian mafia, who have learned their brutal politics of repression from Putin in Chechnya and, before him, the Nazis in Poland.

This situation will continue as long as dumbfucks in America go on imagining that it is the Palestinians who are the terrorists and the Israeli occupiers the tragic heroes. And that Trump’s admiration for the genocidal president, Andrew Jackson is somehow laudable. I’m afraid just being white doesn’t cut it.

The UN for decades has passed resolution after insouciantly ignored resolution attempting to regularize the situation. But when the crook, Netanyahu can moan about Australia recognizing Israeli West, and not Palestinian East, Jerusalem as the de facto capita of Israel – something all Christians should be shouting about – as the fatuous and ignorant oaf Trump has done, to please his slimy little plastic son-in-law Kushner and the millennarian Evangelical dumbfucks, a tickle on the wrist from Zuckerberg’s underwhelming ethics department is calculated to do absolutely nothing to halt the ongoing crime against humanity that is the Gaza ghetto.

Sorry, and all that.

 

Brexit, the Movie…

“Sandra Bullock plays a lone mother with two young children, battling an unseen force which compels you to kill yourself if you see it.” (Guardian Culture review)

 

Pal Joey

I’m most impressed.

For some unaccountable reason, four people in the past 24 hours have been visiting a long-running Page I began Posting about six years ago, cataloguing my jazz CD collection in as much technical detail as I can manage. (I haven’t Posted anything to Pages in a month of Sundays, so how people are attracted to them I don’t understand.)

Even I have trouble finding it, buried away in the mountain of solipsistic verbiage that is The Boglington Post‘s 7-year archive.

But I do try to keep the listings up to date. I have about 400 jazz CDs now, my limited shelf space has run out and they’ve started to occupy boxes on the floor, always a bad sign. As nothing, compared to an astrophysicist I vaguely know, whose entire downstairs floorspace is covered with stacked boxes 3-ft high of his jazz CDs. Then, he’s not living on the State pension.

I seldom even play them, other than the most recent, that might get the odd repeat run-through. The idea was to transfer them to my li’l laptop for portability and convenience, which I was doing steadily until I lost my cool one day and beat it to death with my great clunking fist. They can be annoying, laptops. But the new one has no CD-tray; they’ve gone out of vogue. So I had to start again, but by a more circuitous route, and I’m not bothering – it’s technical.

And in recent months I’ve pretty much stopped ordering CDs, my Kenny Wheeler phase having drawn to a satiated conclusion. I tend nowadays more to browse for my jazz listening pleasure on YouTube, where great variety if no sound quality is to be found.

Until last night when, having discovered the extraordinary pianist Joey Alexander, and listened raptly to him all evening, I flipped and ordered two of his CDs from up the Amazon. Do you know him?

He’s the 15-year-old kid from Bali who turned professional at the age of 10. And, to be honest, I think he was the better player then.

You see, most ‘awesome’ child prodigies on YouTube are the victims of pushy parents or have just superficial talents that can be spun into a short, compelling narrative and promoted to their five minutes of fame as lucrative clickbait. Joey is definitely not one of those ‘X-Factor contestant’, one-shot wonders. No Sir.

Aside from his self-taught mastery of pianistic technique, which is widely acknowledged, his jazz ‘chops’ are such that grown musicians are visibly in awe of him. His improvisational skills, ability to build compelling solos, knowledge of form and structure, maturity of touch and feeling, his exciting chord logic and every other area of his playing – even his unbelievably deep knowledge of the jazz genre – are positively surreal, in a swotty-looking little kid with a lopsided grin and Harry Potter specs.

By 12 he had already been nominated for two Grammy awards, performed by invitation at the White House for the Obamas, given concerts at the Lincoln Centre and at the top festivals around the world. His ridiculously young age – usefully he has unusually large hands for a child – has never seemingly been a barrier to his career. And it is in every sense, a proper musical career.

He has played with many of the stars of the jazz world, who are won over in the first few seconds by his infectious charm, confidence and seemingly instinctive professionalism, whether on stage or in the recording studio, and give their all for him; humbly accepting his musical leadership. They know what they’ve got. People have likened him to Mozart; although his compositions are really nothing compared with the genius of Leipzig, who composed his first symphony at the age of six – the age when Joey first sat down at a piano.

Perhaps the only fly in the ointment will be that, as he grows up – he is 15 now – he will grow into another jazz musician: brilliant, exceptional, even ground-breaking; but nevertheless no longer having the status and curiosity value of a prodigy. The world is often not kind to ex-child prodigies. He will need good and careful management to guide where he goes next.

Who could resist chucking another £25 at his recording company, anyway? Even though I’ve been struggling to replace my old keyboard, that I had given away after it developed a fault (who knew it could easily have been repaired? So the guy told me, who took it away. Happily once fixed, it’s going to charity.) And I don’t really even play. Piano is my third or fourth instrument, after voice, guitar and maybe harmonica – and I’m not too hot at guitar.

Nor am I mentally in a good place. Having negotiated a £30 discount off the keyboard, for instance, I promptly forgot I was already registered with the retailer. I re-registered, which took me over to the wrong version of Checkout, where I paid full price… Having earlier bought a cheap keyboard I wasn’t happy with, I’m also now faced with a near-100-mile round trip to deliver it to the nearest depot to be returned to the dealer; and a booked delivery on a day I’m not going to be in.

Wot am oi loike?

Everything confuses me nowadays. It probably helps to be 10, rather than pushing 70. So much more certainty!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plTPRr7B4ns “Over the Rainbow” – Joey, age 10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1liUart72g “Over the Rainbow” – Later, maybe age 12?

 

Head in the sand

A newly discovered, but already endangered creature with a burrowing habit, resembling a slow worm, has been officially named after Donald Trump.

What the poor thing has done to deserve the name Dermophis donaldtrumpi, The BogPo shudders to think. One can only hope it may survive the coming extinction to evolve into something better.

“The name was chosen by the boss of EnviroBuild, a sustainable building materials company, who paid $25,000 at an auction (in aid of the Rainforest Trust) for the right. The small legless creature was found in Panama and EnviroBuild’s Aidan Bell said its ability to bury its head in the ground matched Donald Trump’s approach to global warming. (Guardian Green Light)

Given that the Abominable No-man just called for a court to investigate the long-running Saturday Night Live TV satire show on grounds he believes it to be a Democrat party-funded plot against him, I doubt he will see the amusing side, or even – as most of us might, however ghastly – be flattered to be immortalised in this way.

Paranoiacs are never satisfied.

 

GW: ‘I’ve got my love to keep me warm’

India: 120 k/h “Cyclone Phethai, which made landfall on Monday afternoon, caused havoc for the people along the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. The cyclone, which was accompanied by strong and gusty winds, has resulted in heavy showers across the state and claimed two lives.” 11,600 people were evacuated as their houses are yet to be repaired after Cyclone Titli in October. There is another cyclonic circulation over the Bay of Bengal moving northwestward that may pose another threat for southern India.

“One occurrence that seemingly amused people was a strange phenomenon, which locals are calling ‘fish rain’, that happened after the cyclone. A video that has been going viral on social media shows several fishes either dead or thrashing about in the puddles formed after the rains.” (The News Minute/Al Jazeera)

Phethai is the 7th named storm of the 2018 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, the most active since 1992. (The Watchers)

Tropical Cyclone Kenanga is 800 miles SW of Diego Garcia in the southern Indian Ocean, as yet with no predicted landfall; and close by is an ‘Invest’, 92S, ie a low-pressure disturbance that could intensify.

Australia: “A cyclone that was predicted to wreak havoc across Queensland has been downgraded to a tropical low, after unleashing 17cm (6.6in) of rain in two hours across the north of the state. “Halifax (near Ingham) received 681mm of rain in the 24 hours” – records were broken. Winds reached 170 K/h. One person was drowned. Authorities warn that Cyclone Owen could still re-form offshore on Monday. Severe weather and flood warnings are in place.” (BBC/Flooslist)

USA: A heavy snowstorm swept through US south-eastern states, killing at least three people and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. A state of emergency was declared in North Carolina, with some areas reporting as much as 0.5m (18.5ins) of snow over the weekend. One man died after a tree fell on his car. A search is under way for a driver whose vehicle was found in a river. Thousands of flights were also cancelled across the region. (BBC)

A warning of potentially deadly surf has gone out along the entire California coastline and up as far as Washington State, pushed by a succession of powerful storms out in the Pacific. Harbors have been closed. National Weather Service warned breaking wave heights could reach 40 feet, affecting beach parking lots and walkways. It could also lead to beach erosion and damage to coastal structures, the NWS warned. (The Weather Channel)

UK: Storm Deirdre brought rain, ice and several inches of snow to the north and parts of Scotland at the weekend, with gale-force winds affecting most of the west coast. Homes were without power in Wales and fallen trees blocked icy roads.

Not much COP

Poland: As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise alarmingly across the globe, the extended UN COP24 climate conference in the Katowice coal-mining district packed its tents on Sunday, as 10 thousand weary delegates flew home following the signing of a toothless, watered-down commitment by global governments to provide more ‘transparency’ on carbon emissions, in line with the already out-of-date, 3-years-old, ‘1.5 degrees’ Paris accord.

Yellowstone: the Blessed Mary Greeley records that the Steamboat geyser, largest in the park, has erupted for the 31st time this year. In a normal year you might see two or three eruptions.

 

 

Advertisements

The deaths of small towns… 9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by… Something’s got to give… The Hallelujah Chorus… GW: Maybe the weather isn’t over, after all…It’s all blowing off… Trust us to lead you.

Thought for the Day

“Were I, or anyone, able to somehow get hold of a cosmic vacuum-pump and suck out all the uneventful, blank bits of our lives, like evacuating all the air from a Bell jar; and heat the rest up over a Bunsen burner, how much of a brown powdery residue of achievements and adventures and excitements would be left in the bottom of the tube?”

  • Uncle Bogler

 

“For God’s sake, Boris, come down and stop showing off, the bus has gone!”

The deaths of small towns

(A message to Brexit boobies)

“(Crispin) Odey, one of the most outspoken of the Brexit-backing hedge fund managers, holds a short position in Intu – the owner of shopping malls – that represented £33m worth of shares in the company at the end of last week.

“He also holds a position against struggling department store Debenhams that is worth £5.3m. The firm also appears to be betting that Britons’ appetite for cars will fall … The firm has short positions against Lookers, a large dealership chain, and Auto Trader, the online used-car directory.

“In total, his hedge fund, with headquarters in Mayfair, has taken out £436m worth of declared short positions against British companies, of which nearly £150m are consumer-facing entities.”

Why is the billionaire Mr Odey doing this? Because of the lovely lucrative uncertainty you have brought about by your incurious nonsense. It’s exactly what these money-breathers – and Vladimir Putin – have been hoping for. Hedge funds stand to make billions out of uncertainty in markets.

But before you voted you’d never heard of hedge funds, right? No idea what they do? What ‘shorting’ means? Well, think of an each-way bet on the gee-gees. You hope you’ll win more than you’ll lose, or at least get back some of your stake, if your horse doesn’t come in first. (Generally, the bookies win.)

But just the act of betting enough money against those companies’ shares going up will help to drag them down. That’s when the hedgers cash-in. Hedge fund managers are punters; but they’re also the bookies: the odds are 101% stacked in their favor. That’s why they’re billionaires and you’re not.

That’s why they invested £millions in supporting the Leave campaigns; the lies you fell for. Because disrupting the relationships between trading partners is the ideal way to create uncertainty in the markets.

More….

“At the same time, Marshall Wace, one of the UK’s largest hedge funds with $35bn (£27bn) in assets under management, holds declarable short positions equivalent to just under £1.4bn – more than any other investor in Britain.” (Guardian Business)

You get the idea? They’re betting huge sums of money that more of our high street stores and other British businesses listed on the Stock Exchange will go under as a result of Brexit chaos.  Money you will never see back. Stores you will never see back. Jobs you will never see back. Boarded-up shops – the deaths of small towns.

You think they care?

Meanwhile, clever old George Soros, the everso liberal-minded philanthropist frequently accused of plotting with his Jew friends the Rothschilds to control the world, who in 1992 nearly pulled down the entire British economy on “Black Wednesday” by betting against the pound, is holding a £10 million side-bet that WH Smith, the venerable High Street stationers’ shares will fall.

What do you tragic clowns who voted to leave the relative safety of the European Union because you were miserable and wanted to “send a message” think was the prime mover behind the Leave campaigns: your sovereignty? Your shabby, disempowered, drug-ridden, hopelorn former industrial communities? Ha ha ha. Fooled you.

Well that’s just gone by the board as Theresa May has abrogated the power of Parliament to even vote on the leaving agreement she herself has negotiated, so afraid is she of losing the vote. What now?

More lovely uncertainty.

So much for your ludicrous, Union flag-waving ‘sovereignty’, you now live in a dictatorship. How many times in history has a Parliamentary vote been cancelled because a hopelessly divided Government has no confidence in its ability to win it? …er, possibly at the start of the Civil War? This is a major constitutional crisis you’ve unleashed, in your ignorance.

You poor fucking turkeys have voted to cancel Christmas, for the foreseeable future. But nobody was listening. Chip chop….

Well, not you personally, BogPo readers, safe here in our cozy filter-bubble, or whatever the current expression is, as outside the anarchic working-class dons its yellow vests and prepares to fight for the hedge fund managers.

I’m preaching to the converted. This message is for those who aren’t reading it:

You’ve been had, and you’re fighting the wrong enemy.

“Any minute now I’m going to take off this latex mask to reveal… Underwoman!”

9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by

I realized with a start about half an hour ago that today is Tuesday.

Who knew?

Instead of trolling idiots on The Guardian website, in my usual day-long haze of viciously barbed self-righteous indignation punctuated with coffee and mince pies and duty-walks with Hunzi, I should have been a) at an early practice and b) going on to sing carols with my old choir at the old folks’ drop-in center in town.

I’d have missed the early practice anyway as I didn’t get up until gone 10.00, having already forgotten about it, despite receiving a reminder the evening before.

The days go by here, I no longer know what they’re called; they’re all the same.

I had agreed to do those things to help out, and once again failed. I hate myself, I am always doing it, it shows my isolation and that I probably just don’t care enough.

This is a choir I sang with for many years, but which had drifted in a direction of which I disapproved, away from robust World Music to hippy-dippy shit: moons and stars, feminism and futile appeals for peace; Zulu campfire songs, as I call those three-line chants with crunchy harmonies and untranslatable lyrics (repeat until you hyperventilate) that “Natural Voice Practitioners” learn in wimmen-only summer camps then fan-out far and wide to spread the gospel to community choirs made up of doughty veterans of Greenham Common and CND; and never the same stuff two weeks in a row.

It also had begun to irk me considerably, that a “training choir” originally for people who thought they couldn’t sing had so many long-time members who after years still had no confidence, who still had no idea about harmony, who still had no knowledge of basic musical notation and who still held the other sections up endlessly while they giggled and nattered and faffed about, pretending it was all too difficult, oh dear.

Why was I always the only one who would volunteer to take a solo?

Now I have a hospital appointment for next Tuesday, apparently, to have this desperately uncomfortable and inconvenient catheter removed, connecting my bladder directly via my elderly feller to a bag strapped to my leg, that sometimes brings on contractions, and leaks so that I have to wear a nappy.

Over time, my house has begun to smell of a curiously medicalized smell of fresh pee. “Trial Without Catheter”, they’re calling it. It actually has its own leaflet. Although I have come to appreciate that not having to dash to the nearest loo or find a handy tree, wetting myself on the way, has been a bit of a boon, this damned tube is always pinching and snatching, sitting is hell, while putting on shoes is a trial….

The tube was inserted in an emergency back in July, but such is the nature of the National Health Service that appointments for anything inessential are often months away. My trial was not until the end of February next year, but this morning the hospital phoned with the offer of a cancellation, so naturally I grabbed it: this damn thing is the main reason I wasn’t going to visit family over Xmas as a 6-hour drive there and back the next day was not going to be pretty.

My worry now is, it’s another Tuesday morning – 9.00 am.

And 9.00 am Tuesdays always seem to pass me by.

 

Something’s got to give

Do you want the good news, or the bad?

Well, they’re the same. USGS has announced the find of a huge 20-year reserve of oil and gas under the New Mexico desert, stretching across into Texas.

The specter of mile upon mile of nodding derricks intruding on the dramatic upland desertscape is appalling; but inevitable, as the vile Trump administration trumpets America’s noble self-sufficiency and low gas prices forever, while going all-out to drain its resources to the profitable lees as quickly as possible – before the planet burns down.

The only hope is, this is another load of oil-industry bullshit and it’s not as exploitable as they’re pretending. It was probably known about for years already but had been consigned to the 10% of “maybe someday” reserves. The argument for leaving this stuff in the ground is overwhelming; but not as overwhelming as the shareholder greed that will see it exploited by hook or, more realistically, by crook.

Yesterday there was a halfhearted intervention at the UN climate conference in Katowice as the US delegation got up on its hind trotters and began once again preaching the benefits of Trump’s fatuous “clean coal” fantasy. The Polish police have been notably successful in muting protest. It’s estimated, subsidies to the fossil fuel industries will soon run into the trillions of dollars in the effort to keep Exxon-Mobil, Koch industries and all the other ecocidal polluters afloat.

You can try and put a yellow vest on energy taxes, but you’re still paying in a roundabout way through your income tax and – the most regressive of all – VAT. M. Macron has announced a $114 a month raise in minimum wage to assuage the anger of the French “gilets jaunes”, the voices of the disempowered and the disappointed “squeezed middle” of provincial France, but that’s only going to increase the proportion of the tax take that gets passed on to the energy sector; meanwhile, lower fuel prices raising demand.

Something has to give, and soon.

 

Hallelujah chorus

Women in Guatemala are only one vote in parliament away from facing from five to ten years in gaol if they cannot prove in court that their miscarriage was a natural event. Otherwise it will be assumed they have behaved irresponsibly, or have had an illicit abortion.

Same-sex marriage is about to be made illegal, as are civil marriages. Any kind of “promotion” or teaching in schools and even universities on the subjects of homosexuality or gender identity – any lifestyle “incompatible with the human being’s biological and genetic features” – is to be outlawed, and acts of discrimination against the LGBTQ “community” legalized.

The country will also withdraw from any international conventions aimed at protecting the rights of minorities identifying as non-heterosexual or having transitional genders: “We are preventing Guatemala from engaging on any convention on gender diversity, says MP, Elvis Morena, who is pressing for the changes to the constitution.

The vote is currently postponed, owing to wrangling over the budget bill.

What it will effectively do, if passed, is to seal the growing power of the Evangelical Christian churches in Guatemala, where their pernicious form of far-right “Christianity” has been gaining a death grip.

As Diana Cariboni writes on Open Democracy:

“Bill 5272, proposed to ‘protect life and the family’, “is the first bill drafted by the evangelical churches in Guatemala”, said its drafter, Elvis Molina, a lawyer and pastor with the Iglesia Cristiana Visión de Fe (Christian Church Vision of Faith).

“It was introduced in Congress last year as a popular initiative supported by 30,000 signatures, and was immediately endorsed by 22 legislators led by Aníbal Rojas, a member of the evangelical party VIVA (Vision with Values).

“The draft law was then approved by a constitutional committee in Congress and passed two reading sessions on the floor. It’s now just one plenary vote from becoming official legislation.”

Welcome to Evangelical Disneyland.

And consider this: hugely wealthy Evangelical churches and their billionaire fellow-travellers in the US and Russia are bidding to gain the same kind of power over legislatures around the world – in the USA, where poor agnostic Mr Trump is obliged by his Evangelical Vice-President Mike Pence to endure a hand-waving, breast-beating, eye-rolling prayer service every Sunday at the White House, thanking God for extreme corrupt Republicanism – in Africa, especially, where in some countries same-sex relations carry the death penalty; in Russia, where Mr Putin is an enthusiast; and even in Britain, where the sanctimonious, sweaty-fear aroma of US and Russian Evangelism has been detected in the funding of the Brexit “Leave” conspiracy.

You have been warned, these people are vicious, arrogant and dangerous; seeking, in their most extreme manifestations, to impose their own patriarchal version of Sharia on a world reduced to mute, barbaric incomprehension and Biblical subjection to the most atavistic, superstitious belief in the non-existent Sky God and his imaginary Son.

Intolerant, authoritarian, controlling, loveless and fixated on the transfer of wealth from the very poorest to the very richest, this Millennarian death cult is not a version of Christianity recognized by many Christians.

But it’s coming our way.

Alle fuckin’ lujah.

GW: Maybe the weather isn’t over, after all

Indonesia: Heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in several provinces of Indonesia, leaving at least 9 people dead. Damaging floods were also reported in West Sumatra. It’s not been a good year. A government spokesman acknowledged that between 01 January and 10 December 2018, there had been 2,374 disaster events across the country. As many as 4,211 people are dead or missing, almost 7,000 injured and 9.95 million people displaced or affected. (Floodlist)

Vietnam: “at least” 2 dead as flooding and landslides have damaged roads and railway lines. Schools have been closed in some areas. Further heavy rain of up to 200mm in 24 hours has been forecast for central areas. (Floodlist).

Cyprus: At least 4 people died when their vehicle was swept away by flooding near the city of Kyrenia on 05 Dec. Damage was also reported in the capital Nicosia and roads and schools have been temporarily closed. The flooding was triggered by heavy rain that has fallen since 04 December. (Floodlist)

 Israel: Heavy rain from Wednesday 05 Dec. caused flooding in several areas, including Tel Aviv, Yavne and Rehovot, where dozens of children had to be rescued from their flooded preschool building. No injuries were reported. (Floodlist)

 UK: The Met Offfice is warning people to stay home and watch old movies tomorrow, Saturday 15 Dec, as unusual freezing rain is expected to make conditions treacherous for Xmas shoppers. Up to 40 cm of snow is expected in the Scottish highlands. Then on Sunday it’s all going to warm up again. (BBC)

 Canada: Flash flooding on 11 Dec. caused severe transport problems in parts of Vancouver. Emergency crews responded to at least 30 flood-related emergencies. Between 30 to 60 mm of rain fell in a few hours in parts of Vancouver. Port Mellon, 35 km NW of Vancouver, recorded 77mm of rain in 24 hours. Heavy snow is forecast for British Columbia.

 USA: Another storm over California and mudslides shut down parts of the Pacific Coast Highway, prompting evacuation orders in wildfire-scarred areas. Severe flooding was reported in the city of Costa Mesa. Downtown LA recorded its highest amount of rain in one day (06 December), 1.9 inches (48mm) beating the previous high of 1.01 inches (25.65mm) set in 1997. Heavy snow forced the closure of Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley. (Floodlist)

Preliminary research by precipitation expert Dr. Kenneth Kunkel of the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, has found that the three highest-volume rainfall events in the U.S. in the last 70 years have occurred since 2016. (Wunderground)

 Australia: Destructive “zombie cyclone” Owen with 200 K/h wind gusts is bearing down on the north of Australia with coastal residents being told to brace for the worst if the system reaches Cat 4 today. The “very destructive and severe” cyclone continues to increase in strength as it heads back towards Queensland, promising to deliver a deluge in its wake.

It comes as the southern end of Australia receives record-breaking levels of rain in Victoria and flash flooding with authorities warning “it’s not over yet”. People have had to be rescued from the roofs of their cars. 100 motorists are stranded close to the freeway at Wangaratta while the State Emergency Service has received 400 calls for help. (News.com.au

 

 It’s all blowing off

Prof. Paul Beckwith, a renegade Geographer semi-detached from Ottawa University who has devoted his life, his intricate website and Facebook page to explaining climate change issues and interpreting the latest research, has done his own investigations into warnings posted recently by other, less qualified satellite watchers, and confirms

“The unrelenting increase in global levels of atmospheric methane (this autumn – even today) went literally off-the-charts used to display methane for the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS)

“Methane levels were so high that they swamped out the colour scheme used in the map legend, causing saturation in large red blobs with little detail. The colour legend was shifted by 100 ppb to more clearly show the detailed structure of where methane was being emitted

“Methane release in the Arctic from thawing terrestrial and marine permafrost, and from methane clathrates on shallow continental shelves are a huge and ever increasing risk.

Just so you know.

Because the recent, watered-down reports from IPCC and others giving “urgent” warnings that aren’t urgent enough, are mainly concerned with warning governments about CO2 emissions from human industry and don’t emphasise the main danger, from natural methane emissions exacerbated by runaway Arctic warming.

But of increasing concern, are rising methane outputs over the Himalayas – India and China. So far, those very high readings are unexplained.

 Endispeace

Trust us to lead you

Borderline insane, avowed racist and homophobe Senator Steve King of Iowa, returned in all his seedy glory by dumbfuck redneck yippee-ki-oh voters at the midterms, was in a session questioning Google’s high-powered CEO, Sundar Pichai about various conspiracy theories to do with the internet – whatever that is.

In addition to demanding a list of Google employees broken down by religious affiliation, presumably to prove his theory that they are a Godless bunch, the good Senator brandished an iPhone and demanded to know why it was showing his 7-year-old grandaughter his picture.

Google of course has nothing to do with iPhones.

Taken with the Georgia Republican senator who last year expressed the view in a hearing on climate change that sea-level rise is caused by rocks falling into the water, you finally realize, the age of extremely dangerous dumb is upon us.

Many of these clueless, uneducated legislators don’t believe anything that isn’t in the Bible.

And that’s God’s honest truth.

Hi everyone, your Uncle Bogler here… The Boglington Post: a History Lesson…Er, where was I? Oh yes, CO2… Dear Amanda Donaldson… Money to burn?

I keep forgetting to Save these half-finished Posts in Drafts, and out of habit hit the Publish button in my enthusiasm. Sorry for the early publication. Heavily redacted copy, Monday 10 December.

 

Happy Birthday!

Greetings to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 70 today! (Monday, 10 Dec.)

European Court of Justice rules Britain can cancel Brexit. (photo: AP)

Hi everyone, your Uncle Bogler here.

To be honest, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to identify the kinds of tripwire stories we like to explode here on the BogPo, and even more so in The Pumpkin. We have a great record of identifying emerging news and currents in the global matrix before the professionals do, but events are becoming so swirly and the mainstream media is waking up to so many more important trends we’ve been covering for years that we’re finding it hard to make an original contribution. Sometimes, Guardian op-ed writers are only hours behind us.

I’m also finding it tougher to recall words, numbers, dates, historical precedents, people’s names – I waste half my time Googling references, and a lot more time going back to correct mistakes in recent-past Posts. Hell, I’m 70 next year and pissing into a bag. If I’d earned a penny from these coming-up 750 Posts over seven years, I’d be thinking of retiring. But when I read now that a 7-year-old kid is the top YouTuber, with an income of $22 million he gets from reviewing toys, I start to weep into my nappy.

Having said that, the viewing numbers have been increasing a little lately – we’re averaging about 12 a day now, sometimes we have up to 35, which is great, although there are many days when it looks like I’m still the only reader. And it’s less the depressing case now that the only Posts people are looking at are the ‘Comex 2’ and ‘Stately home’ articles I wrote nine years ago. The odd View even pops up for stuff I’m still writing – it’s a dynamic process, nothing is set in stone until I’m bored with (not ‘of’!)  looking at it.

Eschewing Search Engine Optimization (SOE), whatever it is, I’d been looking forward to achieving posthumous fame, and maybe that can still happen. But I’m going to try to discipline myself and Post less, as I have some other projects I’d like to get done before it’s too late. I probably won’t, but if I do, now you know why.

Thanks for Following me, if you still do.

UB

PS Oh, and in case you were wondering, the Granny Weatherwax column might be late as there doesn’t appear to be any unusual weather this week, anywhere. (Although Winter Storm Diego looks promising). Strong evidence there of climate change in action.

 

The Boglington Post: a History Lesson

People often stop me in the street or approach me violently in Mexican restaurants, inquiring who and why this ‘Uncle Bogler’ person is.

Having time on my hands, I explain as follows:

There’s a web thing made of journalism, called The Huffington Post. (I suppose we should start according news blogs italic type, like newspapers.)

At the time The Boglington Post was brought to birth in February 2012 with the aid of one of my then-teenagers, an unlikely millennial now married, in a decent job and with her own house, no thanks to the bankrupt Bank of M&D, The Huffington Post, or HuffPo as it’s familiarly known, was mired in controversy.

The writers had downed quills, loudly moaning that the owner, millionaire Arianna Stassinopoulos-Huffington, was not paying them a solitary bean for their valuable contributions. (She does now.)

One of his better days: BogPo’s Economics expert, Sterling Pound (@longliquidlunch)

And so I came up with the dreadful conceit that The Boglington Post, the ‘BogPo’, was at the heart of a massive empire owned by elderly media-mogul, Sir Thanatossios Boglopoulos; son of a Nicosia hairdresser and shooting partner of the Duke of Edinburgh; a fellow Greek Cypriot exiled abroad.

Not long after, I killed him off. Well, he was 94. By coincidence, it was on the same day Margaret Thatcher passed away, which is probably why you’ve never heard of him. Unfortunately he didn’t benefit from a State funeral, as the Co-Op had run out of money burying the notorious former PM.

Editorship-in-Chief of the BogPo thus passed to his nephew, Herr Professor Doktor Ernst von-und-zu Bogl, a German plutocrat and ardent Remainer with a penthouse in Boglington-on-Sea, a superyacht in Boglèry-sur-Mer, and an agreeable schloss outside Boglheim-am-Rhein. As you can tell, this theme was becoming a trifle obsessive, but never mind.

Seeking a day-to-day editor for the paper, Ernst found his halfwitted ‘Uncle Bogler’ lurking by the water cooler and, keeping it in the family, instantly promoted him from the Children’s Fun Page, where he had labored unsung for years, to the newsroom; which explains some of the curious editorial features you’ll find here within.

Distinguished contributors include heavyweight economics expert, Sterling Pound; Politics editor, Wee Laura Facebook, and Showbiz Editor, Polly Wood. It’s a fiercesome team of top talent, I’m sure you agree.

Now, carry on. If you must….

 

“…to judge by the astonishing sight of the Mother of Parliaments degenerating into a terrifying contumely of divided and quarrelsome MPs making absolutely no sense … you would have to conclude that there is something about the air in London SW1 that poisons the brain.”

Er, where was I? Oh yes… CO2

“Raised carbon dioxide (CO2) in poorly ventilated workplaces is known to make workers sleepy and slow — a factor in sick building syndrome. Such CO2 levels could affect the entire atmosphere by the end of the century, driven by fossil fuel burning, according to a University College London (UCL) team.” (The Times)

I vaguely heard someone talking about this item on the radio this morning, and thought, hang on, wasn’t there a Chinese study reported a few weeks ago that said pretty much the same thing? That air pollution can knock a year off the educational advantage for the average 60-year-old?

“What is this thing and why is it making strange noises?”

Now, if you Google “CO2 making us dumber” you come up with many pages going back years, of the press reporting on similar research; so clearly there’s an effect somewhere.

Where the story is slowly developing is that earlier studies focused on pollution in closed spaces. A US Psychology professor reported in 2012, for instance, in Psychology Today, on a British study showing that office workers were slower at responding to things in buildings where people smoked.

Which moved me to slowly observe inside the dwindling rational faculty center where I haltingly talk to myself, that nobody has been allowed to smoke in an office building in Britain for about the past thirty years. It had taken rather a long time for this US Psychology professor to absorb what is now long out of date information, but that’s self-explanatory.

And indeed, to judge by the astonishing sight of the Mother of Parliaments degenerating into a terrifying contumely of divided and quarrelsome MPs making absolutely no sense, squabbling over what seems to the rest of us like angels dancing on the head of a pin: backstop this, EFTA that, with Norway++ thrown in, crashing the traditional party divides in their increasingly atomized efforts to resolve the irresolvable issues arising from the UK having voted in its oxygen-deprived befuddlement to leave the European Union, which few of them really want to do, you would have to conclude that there is something about the air in London SW1 that poisons the brain.

Where the research has moved lately is to note that rising CO2 in the atmosphere might be having the same effect outdoors as it does in: sick planet syndrome.

In the mid-18th century, at the dawn of the Age of Steam, so scientists calculate from ice cores, tree rings, muddy lake beds and chicken entrails, in 1750 the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 285 parts per million (ppm). In 2018, after 268 years of burning coal, and then oil, the annual average at the 9,000-feet-up Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, where this stuff is officially measured, was declared to be 405 ppm, although the daily amount had recently gone as high as 413 ppm.

The UN climate conference in Katowice, home to Poland’s extensive coal-mining industry, has just been told that, after flatlining for three years in the global economic recession, thanks to burning more coal and driving more cars, average CO2 emissions (it varies from place to place and at different times of year, this is all a matter of informed conjecture) rose by 1.6% in 2017, and will have risen by a further 2.7% in 2018.

Two point seven percent of 405 ppm translates as 10.9 ppm, an astonishing increase; more than three times the annual average rate of increase we have previously experienced since 1750. I’m hoping my brain is so stultified with breathing air that I have miscalculated.

Back in the nineteenth century, scientists worked out that a doubling of the CO2 concentration could lead to an extinction-level 5C of global warming. (This stuff is not new, you see, which confounds the deniers’ irrational attempts to make it go away.) While we are still a long way off that 570 ppm,  nevertheless we should consider that CO2 is not the only ‘greenhouse gas’ out there; methane, water vapor, CO (lethal carbon monoxide), NO2 and SO2 are all increasing, while CO2 is being measured locally as a result of wildfires at concentrations approaching 1,000 ppm.

Not only that, but as CO2 increases, more useful atmospheric gases are being replaced. Like, for instance, oxygen. Oxygen levels in some of our burgeoning megacities are falling to dangerous lows; while one of the effects of rising CO2 is to kill off oxygen producers, like phytoplankton in the oceans, that have absorbed the majority of the warming effect to date.

We are being slowly suffocated; stewing in our own juice.

I seem to remember having mentioned before, that as I walk li’l Hunzi in the exurban space that passes for our local park, I’ve started to feel I’m no longer getting the same nutritional value from the air we breathe, despite being so close to the sea. It’s probably psychosomatic. Age and the nightly fix of Cabernet Sauvignon are clearly factors, but as I write, I find I often have trouble keeping a grip on the metatextual narratives behind the stories; as well as losing words, dates and names, I’m rapidly losing the plot.

It’s frustrating. I can no longer follow complex ideas, such as the rapidly changing nature of political discourse; or the instructions for how to operate technical things. It seems that the old tropes of class war, the distinctions of ‘left’ and ‘right’, of capitalism and collectivism, definitions of old-style liberalism, libertarianism and neoliberalism – modern fascism – are entering frightening new dimensions, but I can’t quite put my finger on how, why, when and what are the implications.

Just as I sometimes espy a glimmer of light, it rapidly slips away. My ability to make sense of things, to follow an argument to its logical conclusion is diminished; and I observe, yours is too! Everyone’s is. Alternative truths, moral relativism and holding to two contradictory opinions at the same time are not characteristics unique to Donald J Trump. They are instead, symptoms of increasing cognitive impairment in the human population.

(Sometimes, I have previously commented, it feels like the Earth on its grand sweep through the cosmos has entered an area of space where there is a real “cloud of unknowing”!)*

It may be wilful oversimplification, a need to find firm ground, but I’d say, our deteriorating atmosphere might well be a prime candidate, to go along with the unexplained increase in ADHD and the intellectual (most often sub-intellectual) chaos of internet discourse, where the inchoate and often violent opinions of unlettered and irrational idiots are given equal prominence and weight to the more thoughtful pronouncements of those who study matters from an informational perspective; yet who themselves sometimes seem to be blundering about in hall of mirrors.

I was going to conclude with an illuminating observation on all this, but no, it’s gone.

Something or other.

*An anonymous medieval Christian work proposing an interesting heresy, a kind of Zen mindfulness: that you should stop looking for God, as he is nowhere to be found and nothing to see, but just BE God.

 

“JK Rowling’s husband has branded his wife’s former personal assistant a ‘liar’ and accused her of ‘stealing from sick and dying children’ amid claims she wrongly spent thousands of pounds on shopping sprees for luxury items.” (Daily Mail)

Dear Amanda Donaldson

May I say how sorry I am for your situation vis à vis the Rowling woman and her husband?

I myself spent nearly seven years ‘in service’, working as general factotum for an absentee businessman and his trophy wife, battling mostly on my own to care for a deserted and decaying C18th-century mansion he’d rashly bought without a structural survey. Wealth is not always proof of intellect.

Some entrepreneurs are what I call ‘water-cooler’ employers. They imagine they can just push the first body they meet in the corridor that doesn’t appear to be doing anything better into a role for which they may be totally unadapted.

Luckily, I’m omniscient and omnicompetent.

Hired as the maintenance man, within weeks there was a change of business plan (he’d done no market research either) and I was told I had to market and manage the place, described by the local fire chief as a ‘death trap’, virtually singlehandedly as a licensed guest house and wedding venue.

On the maintenance man’s salary.

On-call 24/7, I took no holiday for five years. With no budgets for anything and obliged to pay casual workers illegally in cash I was permanently under suspicion of pocketing the profits (having invested not a penny in the business, living eight thousand miles away, he couldn’t understand why there weren’t any). Because I’d had no option but to use it to feed the guests, he took away my company credit card.

I confess to knocking off the odd bottle of wine he’d paid for while freezing alone on a cold winter’s night in the empty bar when, halfway through the month, under pressure from the Child Support Agency my tiny paycheck would regularly run out; assuming they’d remembered to pay me. I often lived on leftovers. Nevertheless, I managed to obtain grants and financial concessions that more than covered my salary.

I imagine your problem is probably more the breakdown of trust than the pocket-change Joanna’s husband is meanly trying to extract from you, for what look to me like curiously inflated expense items. I assume she loves him.

And I must express some doubt that all Harry Potter fans are sick and dying, although I should not be surprised. If items of merchandise you allegedly didn’t send out really cost £400 apiece, then I’m wondering who is ripping off the sick and dying children?

The normal procedure in these cases is for the employer just to draw a veil over the affair. Move on. I suppose the moral is, try to work for people with a bit more class.

Chin up!

(This article is an edited version of one that appeared a few Posts ago. UB.)

 

Training program

The answer to Britain’s problems with its dysfunctional, costly privatized railways arrived in my inbox just now, courtesy of the rail booking agency Trainline:

“A new way to travel with us – coaches!”

I’m hoping Transport Minister, Chris Grayling gets the message.

 

Move over, starling

How big are starlings supposed to be? There’s one outside in the garden now, happily pecking away at the large breakfast I’ve compiled, that was supposed to feed the entire bird population for a day. She’s about the size of a decent meal for one.

Two crows – I think of the jackdaw variety – have now arrived and chased her off. They’re a lot bigger, I’ll grant. But this starling, a regular, is absolutely enormous. Am I doing good, if she can barely fly?

Last night I watched as a big cloud of starlings performed their astonishing aerial ballet on the way home from feeding higher up the valley to their roosts under the pier. The town is famous for them.

But I seem to recall winter evenings on which three or four similar sized waves of birds would fly over. In vain, I wait for a second one.

 

Geological News

Yellowstone. Steamboat geyser #30.

 

GW: Normal weather is SO abnormal

USA: The big early winter storm affecting North Carolina and Virginia over the weekend, Storm Diego has produced up to 20 inches of snow cover. Near blizzard conditions are persisting. Half a million homes are without electricity.

 

Money to burn?

An unlikely troop of cavalry may be galloping over the hill to the rescue of the planet.

Unnerved by reports of the urgency with which things must change, investment managers representing some $32 trillion of pension funds and government bonds and your savings and mine have piped up at the Katowice conference, demanding an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a bunch of carbon taxes.

Their warning is in many ways more terrifying than that of the watered-down maunderings of the IPCC last month.

‘Investment firm Schroders said there could be $23tn of global economic losses a year in the long term without rapid action. This permanent economic damage would be almost four times the scale of the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis. Standard and Poor’s rating agency also warned leaders: “Climate change has already started to alter the functioning of our world.'” (Guardian)

We should perhaps be mindful of the news that, in the wake of the deadly Camp Fire, that incinerated the entire town of Paradise, Ca.:

“State regulators are taking over Merced Property and Casualty Company because the company can’t pay out all the expected claims from the massive fire. “It completely overwhelmed this company, looking at the number of claims that they would have, and it left them insolvent,” said Nancy Kincaide of the Department of Insurance.” (Sorry, I’ve lost the reference to this report.)

How long before Lloyds of London starts to moan that their Names are feeling the squeeze? (Fuck ’em. See previous Posts.) Fires in California this year may have cost $200 billion in insured losses, enough to rake a lot of floor.

Your Old Granny muses that this concerted appeal from the money-breathers will make not a jot of difference to the illiterate posturings of the White House Monster, a creature bought and sold by the geriatric Koch brothers, the Mercers and their filthy co-conspirators.

Although coming from the money industry, maybe something might shift. It’s hard to tell, as increasingly even the superficial research on which the BogPo thrives is being closed off, site by site, through the erection of paywalls, zonal barriers and the abuse of the new European data protection laws to demand access for advertisers, not just displayed on the page but to mine the deeper layers of visitors’ computer systems.

 

RIP Roger ‘roo

“Roger, the beefcake boxing kangaroo who came to fame when a photo of him crushing a metal bucket like a paper cup went viral in 2015, has died at the age of 12. The death of the male kangaroo, who weighed 89kg (14 stone) and stood more than 182cm (6 feet) tall, has sparked an outpouring of grief from his 1.3 million Facebook and Instagram fans.” (Guardian)

Maybe social media isn’t all a total disaster.

 

Trump in the dock… On the up. And then the down… We believe this job may be of interest to you… GW: Ain’t nothin’ but a whole lot of somethin’ goin’ on… Old King Coal.

Quote of the Week

“…you can’t expect people to think about the end of the world when they are worried about the end of the month.” – Guardian Comment on the riots in France.

 

“The number of people in England aged 45 and above admitted with a drug-related mental and behavioural disorder has soared 85% over the last decade.” (BBC)

And you thought we baby boomers were such squares!

 

“If you’re going to kill people, Mr Salman, I wish you would do it more discreetly. Can I recommend a program of benefits reform?”

 

Trump in the dock

STOP PRESS: “Maryland and Washington attorneys general have armed themselves with more than 30 subpoenas approved by a federal judge, and everyone will find out how the president has profited or potentially profited personally.” – says one independent, probably not very reliable web source tonight, 05 Dec.

No-one else seems to be reporting it but we do know the Southern District court of New York has been pursuing lines of inquiry suggested by the FBI’s trawl of documents and recordings taken from Trump’s bagman, Michael Cohen.

The subpoenas can force the evidence to be produced in court, relating to Trump’s egregious breaches of the Emoluments clauses, whereby his businesses have profited from government patronage during his tenure; into his illicit foreign business ventures, and into widely reported financial abuses involving personal use of his and family members’ charity Foundations.

The stony faces of former Presidents and their wives as they took their places along from the Trumps at the funeral of that old monster, George Bush, spoke volumes. And, in the wake of the heavily redacted account of General Flynn’s 19 sessions with the Mueller team, recommending he be not imprisoned*, Fox News contributor yesterday admitted, wide-eyed, that there might be “something in the Mueller investigation” after all… And nobody on the panel contradicted her.

The ex-CIA man, Bush had at least managed to look and sound like a grownup President while he was laying the foundations 33 years ago for the Nicaraguan migrant caravans today, laundering money through Iran to arm the Contra rebels, promoting the cocaine trade and slaughtering possibly 3 thousand Panamanian civilians just to remove his own embarrassing drugs mule, General Noriega.

While to Bush we can owe the ludicrous belief Trump clings to, that tackling climate change will cost American jobs.

May he rot, quite frankly.

 

*I can’t help wondering if the different treatment Mueller is recommending for Flynn, a former 2-star general, whom he has said need not go to jail; and Cohen, a street-fighting mafia ‘soldier’ for the Trump family, who he thinks should get three years, both of whom co-operated, is purely a piece of snobbery from the Purple-heart decorated former marine?

 

On the up. And then the down.

Many science reporters with perhaps a less than dedicated calling or much understanding of the facts are still giving the false impression that carbon dioxide emissions somehow stopped between 2013 and 2016, giving us pause for relief.

Of course they didn’t! The rate of increase may have slowed owing to the global recession, but we continued adding 37 billion tonnes to the atmosphere during those 4 years; the average increase in concentration remained constant at 3.6 parts per million per annum.

Now, it seems, CO2 has come roaring back in 2018, with emissions set to increase this year by 2.6%. That’s another 10.6 ppm – THREE TIMES the average annual increase!

“The rise is due to the growing number of cars on the roads and a renaissance of coal use and means the world remains on the track to catastrophic global warming. However, the report’s authors said the emissions trend can still be turned around by 2020, if cuts are made in transport, industry and farming emissions” – Guardian.

What utter piffle! The trend cannot be “turned around” in a little over a year without somehow sucking billions of tonnes of carbon out of the air and sea at a rate greater than the amount being added. The gas remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years: another 2C is already built-in. Cuts are not going to be made, quite the opposite! an increasing number of governments have just decided, fuck it. The dead can’t vote.

The reporting betrays a complete inability to understand the mechanisms that are threatening abrupt climate change: a phrase that in itself conceals a greater truth which nobody seems to want to hear.

Mercifully, car sales in Britain are 7% down this year. Smoke, however, is up. (Evocative image: Michel Euler/AP)

Other reports at the UN conference in Katowice suggest that in the three years since the Paris agreement was signed, financial institutions have invested more than $478bn in the world’s top 120 coal plant developers. Emissions from China (4.7%), India (6.3%) and the US (2.5%) have led the increase. The Paris accords, according to a University of East Anglia paper, will not keep warming below 3C. A drop in particulate pollution due to cleaner industries may trigger a runaway warming effect as skies clear.

The BogPo remarks that a more immediate threat still may be species co-collapse. We have lost 60% of wild mammal populations and 75% of insect populations in forty years. The same causes are already affecting human populations, according to the WHO; and are only tangentially related to the threat of warming. If human extinction is the powder keg, the fuse is already alight.

 

A colony of 1mm-long nematode worms (Caenorhabditis elegans) has had to miss the trip of a lifetime, aboard the international space station. Owing to a day’s delay in launching the SpaceX rocket, caused by the discovery of some mouldy food, the worms are now “too old” to be of experimental value.

I know just how they feel!

 

We believe this job may be of interest to you:
Live-in/Live-Out Nanny in St John’s Wood, London
Location: UNITED KINGDOM, St John’s Wood
Salary: Not specified

Now, there is a reason, believe it or not, why this popped into my mailbox today, after months of inactivity on the labor front.

I was, for several years, in what you might call domestic service. In the latter part, when I anticipated redundancy on completion of a project to convert the haunted mansion I rattled around in into an upmarket hotel, I put my impressive CV and references about any number of specialised agencies employing dreadful, lazy Australian temps in snooty parts of London, looking for similar work.

The likelihood of finding a job in which the employer expected someone to do everything from gardening and maintenance to business planning, financial management, making beds, serving at table, clearing up sick after functions and cooking for guests seemed pretty slim. Indeed, I seldom bothered to apply, not being a “couple”, the arrangement the wealthy prefer.

So after eight years of fishing entirely unsuccessfully for what is nowadays quite well-remunerated work, often with free accommodation in agreeable surroundings and the chance to drive top-end expensive cars and shiny red lawn tractors, I gave up the unequal struggle and retired to my tiny cottage on a main arterial road in the thunderous outskirts of a busy seaside town, to await Death’s final knock.

As the years have sped by, just one organization has continued from time to time to send me little reminders of what I’ve been missing: the 168-hour weeks, the underlying suspicion that I’m embezzling the expenses; such as the note above, enquiring after my interest in situations they regularly advertise, and that is The Lady magazine.

And I have quite lost count of the times I have emailed back, pointedly asking them to desist.

You may imagine, I am not really interested in working as a nanny in St John’s Wood; even if the lady of the house could be persuaded to take on a 69-year-old single man with no relevant training or experience (beyond raising two kids of my own) and a large dog with strange amber eyes at heel; someone who, to judge by his current situation, grizzled beard, appetite for wine and state of dishevelment, is probably on an offender management program.

He isn’t, but you know what I mean. I several times encountered baffled hostility when applying for domestic “couple” jobs: no mere male could possibly cook, clean and wash-up, or cope with delicate fabrics – and at the same time be trusted to clean the gutters, maintain the boiler, unemotionally shag the mistress from time to time and drive a Bentley.

And, of course, yet again, I receive no reply or acknowledgment of my request. To them, I don’t exist. I am a ghost in the machine: a randomized pick for the occasional, totally inappropriate position.

There’s a peculiar form of reverse snobbery: as I am, I should possibly mention, quite posh myself, although from the “wrong side of the blanket”, determinedly Socialistic and latterly fallen on hard times – something they hate as it reminds them where they may end up themselves one day.

 

God’s thumbprint? Or an unusual energy ripple – such as have been reported recently emanating from Mayotte, an island off the northern tip of Madagascar, travelling at 900 mph all around the world at a depth of 6.2 miles?

GW: Ain’t nothin’ but a whole lot of somethin’ goin’ on

The final statistic from the two major California wildfires last month, the Camp and Woolsey fires, is 91 dead, with 25 still missing in the Paradise area; 18,800 homes destroyed, a total bill of around $18 billion. 15 of the 20 largest and most destructive fires on record in California have occurred since 2002. Wunderground estimates, this year’s fires in California have pumped an extra 15% more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the state usually emits in a year.

USA: And it’s back to Arctic conditions for the eastern seaboard and midwest through into next week. “In areas from the mountains of North Carolina to parts of Virginia, this will be a major storm with the potential for a foot or more of snow,” according to AccuWeather. Further south is expected to receive a coating of dangerous ice, bringing down power lines and disrupting schools and transport.

China: Accuweather reports, a corresponding “surge of arctic air will dive southward across eastern Asia in the coming days, bringing the coldest weather in nearly 10 months to parts of China and the Korean Peninsula. A mild autumn and start to December will come to a bone-chilling end on Thursday as bitterly cold air descends on Beijing and northeast China.” (Accuweather)

Australia: the brutal Queensland heatwave has been temporarily distracted by heavy downpours from ex-Tropical Cyclone Owen, threatening to drop between 2 and 8 inches of rain on coastal areas between Cairns and Mackay. “Strong winds, coastal flooding and rough surf will batter the Queensland coastline through this weekend, creating hazardous conditions.” (Accuweather)

India: Accuweather reports “Air pollution continues to be a major concern across New Delhi and other locations across northern India as little improvement is expected into next week. Despite efforts to limit pollution emissions such as heavy truck bans, reducing construction projects and shutting down power plants, pollution levels have continued to climb across the region and pose a serious risk to millions of people.”

Turkey: a slow-moving low is expected to dump up to 30cm (10-in) of rain, locally maybe more, over southern Turkey, Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean over the next three days, to Friday night. Extensive flooding is anticipated. A casual glance at the Google homepage for “Turkey rain” shows at least three extreme rainfall events with damaging floods already this year.

 

Old King Coal

Katowice: Bob Henson, of The Weather Underground, has a sobering essay on the contribution of coal to global warming in 2018, pointing out:

“The irony is running thick this week as coal—the most climate-unfriendly of fossil fuels, and an energy source in decline—finds itself in the spotlight. The 24th annual United Nations Conference of Parties (COP24) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is meeting this week and next in the city of Katowice in southern Poland, a region where coal remains a dominant force in the local economy.

“And on Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose loosening regulations for new coal plants, at a time when global demand for coal is sagging year after year. In his opening remarks, Polish president Andrzej Duda struggled to reconcile the fact that coal use is at loggerheads with a world moving toward carbon-free energy.”

http://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Coal-Fights-Life-UN-Holds-Climate-Meeting-Polands-Coal-Country?cm_ven=cat6-widget

“…the world has yet to fully grapple with the enormous pressure to use fossil fuel reserves that are already far more than enough to push the world well beyond 2°C of warming over preindustrial conditions, which would raise the odds of catastrophic climate-change impacts”, writes Henson, who goes on to point out that only two carbon capture and storage – “clean coal” – experimental sites are working anywhere in the world, but instead of storing the CO2 it’s being used to pressurize nearby oil wells!

And, of course, with a former coal company lobbyist in charge at the US Environmental Protection Agency, the cynical Trump administration is going all-out to maximise the role of coal in energy generation. As Henson says, “Just when leaders from around the globe are meeting in Poland to hash out a path for implementing the Paris Agreement, it’s hard to imagine a more perverse, or paradoxical, message for the U.S. to send to the world.”

Actually, I can think of a few more.

 

That sinking feeling…

Some parts of the city of Tehran, capital of Iran, are sinking into the ground at the alarming rate of 10 inches a year, according to scientists at Potsdam university. The problem appears to be overextraction, causing the roof of the water table to collapse.

Subsidence could become an increasing problem for large conurbations like Mexico City, your Gran supposes, as increasing drought in those latitudes dries out ground and agriculture requires more water for irrigation.

 

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 71: The strange crime of Paul Manafort… Lax financial regulation… Ha!… GW: Has it all blown over yet?

“Er, Houston, we have a problem… (bleep) stowaway on board… (bleep) says his name’s Musk…”

NASA successfully lands InSight probe on Mars

 

“Donald Trump has apparently succeeded in scamming the supposedly cast-iron Purple Heart ex-marine, Mueller; a minor victory that will undoubtedly give him great satisfaction as he shuffles bald-headed to the latrine to empty his night soil, avoiding the gaze of large negroes.”

The strange crime of Paul Manafort

Just when you thought the Trump presidency was running out of the most appalling words and deeds and mispunctuated Twitter characters, and the Orange Panda was losing touch with reality as the Mueller investigation closes in on him and his family, comes time to think again.

There is no bottom to the man.

The most astonishing twist yet in the whole “collusion” saga has emerged in the last three days, when NBC News reported that they’d received a bunch of papers, apparently authentic documents from inside the Mueller investigation; which, to date, has been as tight as a duck’s ass when it came to leaks.

(You may wish to regard this entire narrative as imaginative fiction, since I’ve certainly been putting together the twos I have been gleaning from the American media today to make five, and then some.)

The papers were an informal survey of potential indictments and a prospective plea-bargain relating to the minor crimes of one Jerome Corsi, a peripheral bit-player in the campaign saga, another self-publicizing has-been-or-never-was, but a claimed contact of the reptilian Republican party fixer and longtime Trump dirty-tricks specialist, Roger Stone.

Corsi had it seems agreed to become a Mueller “grass”, compromised by Mueller because he had information that Stone was in frequent contact with Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, in London during the months before Wikileaks published the missing Clinton emails, that were hacked by Russian intelligence; and that Stone had tried to intercede on Assange’s behalf with the Ecuadorian government.

(Shitsplaining: Self-promoting whingeing narcissist Assange is in voluntary incarceration as an inconvenient political refugee in the basement of the Ecuadorian embassy, where he’s been holding court to the global disruptor community (and the foolish Pamela Anderson) for the past six years.*)

It was possible evidence linking Stone both to Russia and to Trump.

But suddenly, last week Corsi seems to have changed his mind about spilling everything he knew to Mueller, and instead made public the details of his arrangement with the FBI – and, more pertinently, the questions and issues that he knew from his interrogations that Mueller was most interested in. A move said to be unprecedented in US legal history.

It was information that has apparently already gotten back to the White House via Corsi’s and Trump’s lawyers, enabling Trump to lean on a few minor facts in order to tweet evermore furiously the story that the Mueller investigation is in disarray and fake news and a WITCH HUNT and all the rest of the cheeseburger-flavored smoke he’s been generating for almost two years, to try to make the horrid bad man go ‘way.

Who ordered the papers to be leaked so openly to NBC – Trump’s supposedly least favorite failing fake news channel? And why?

So, anyway, now it gets murkier still.

You’ll have heard the name Paul Manafort, in the news. Manafort (69, tall, confidently bulky, dyed hair, self-satisfied pug-eyed expression, expensive suits) had for a couple of decades involved his PR consultancy with shady political campaigns in Ukraine; being responsible, among other dirty tricks, for the demonization of former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko – gaoled in 2011 on probably trumped-up corruption charges – and the election as President of the now-deposed Putin crony and massive kleptocrat, Viktor Yanukovitch.

He was also deeply embedded with organized crime figures and other Putin oligarchs in Russia, billionaires seeking influence and the lifting of personal sanctions; and was paid many millions of dollars for his work, which seems to have involved a lot of money laundering and sheltering of illicitly obtained funds through offshore shell companies.

And Manafort was also present at the crucial 09 June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with the Kremlin lawyer Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump Jr, Kushner and two other Russians, both with connections to money laundering and Russian intelligence. Shortly after which, Trump referred for the first time at an election rally to Clinton’s missing emails, and openly called on Russia to find them. Then, in July, Trump appointed Manafort as chairman of his election campaign – later claiming he barely even knew the man. (The FBI is now looking into a trove of “late-night” phone calls between the two.)

That was a lie, wasn’t it.

Seeking to establish connections between Trump and the Kremlin, Mueller and the FBI zeroed in on Manafort, and earlier this year indicted him on many charges, including failing to declare the income from his work in Russia, and bank fraud – the latter relating to a $10 million loan Manafort obtained from an obscure bank, on a promise that he would persuade Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and Senior White House advisor, to appoint the manager of the bank to the lucrative post of Secretary for the Army. (It was a con – he didn’t. And he never repaid the money.)

The loan was ostensibly for the purpose of repaying other money Manafort had previously offered to invest on behalf of a Russian oligarch, Constantin Kalymnik – a Putin crony with suspected links to organized crime. Instead, Manafort had pocketed the money to fund his expensive taste in “ostrich-skin jackets” and his collection of apartments in New York.

All this emerged from the first of two scheduled trials, at which Manafort had unexpectedly pleaded not guilty – even though Mueller had him bang to rights, as they say. The jury duly deliberated, and found him guilty on eight counts – enough to put him away for the rest of his life.

Manafort then cheerfully entered the prison system to await sentence, where he’s being kept in solitary confinement for his own protection. But soon seemed to drop his tough-guy “no co-operation” stance and agreed a plea deal with Mueller to make the second trial go away and the possible life sentence be reduced in exchange for spilling everything he knew about the Trumps, Russia, Wikileaks and collusion.

Two days ago, however, a furious Mueller wrote to the court demanding the judge now execute the sentences for the original guilty verdicts and bring about the second trial, as (after giving him 10 days to rethink his statement) he had concluded that Manafort had been telling the investigators a pack of lies.

Warning: Here we enter the realms of speculative fiction.

Why would Manafort have spent two months pulling the wool over Mueller’s eyes, knowing that if found out, he would spend several more lifetimes behind bars? Lying to the FBI and obstructing justice are serious crimes in America.

Mueller has so far indicted some 32 co-conspirators, including a number of Russians he can’t get at; nevertheless, he has enough detail in the case to be able to compare notes and tell when someone is feeding him a plate of rotten fishheads. Surely, Paulie was living on borrowed time?

The key prosecution witness had either gone crazy, commentators said, or there must be a deeper motive.

Look at it this way.

Trump has the power of issuing Presidential pardons, but he’s mentally a mobster, basing his business methods on bad stuff taught to him by his mentor, the mob lawyer Roy Cohn. He may not really be a “made man”, as they call members of the mafia who come from outside the tight-knit crime families; nevertheless he’s done bidness with a few, and likes to behave like a mob boss himself.

Such a man would rather murder, than pardon anyone who snitches on them. So we can conclude that he would not even be considering pardoning the crimes of Paul Manafort if he believed for one second that Manafort had really spilled his guts to the FBI about Trump’s collusion with the Russians.

The only way Manafort could get out of his extreme predicament would be by serving the interests of the mob boss in the Oval Office: doubling-down on his many crimes by flim-flamming the Russia investigation; pretending to hold a weak hand; presenting a reasonably convincing false narrative to his interrogators, misdirecting them and causing as much delay and confusion as possible; ensuring he would be kept close to the team.

You know how a Lapwing evades its predators, by feigning weakness?

As a prosecution witness, by that “not guilty” plea and then the guilty verdicts making himself seem vulnerable and open possibly to turning informant, Manafort had cleverly managed to insert himself on the inside of the tightly controlled Mueller team, and – like Corsi – his plan was to feed through his lawyers, information about the investigation back to the White House, earning himself a full pardon for his crimes.

In fact, it was Corsi’s recantation of his plea bargain and the release of the documents that put the media onto the possibility of a connection with Mueller’s letter to the court, rescinding Manafort’s protected status. Was it the same plan? And have the written answers Trump gave last week to Mueller’s written questions possibly conflicted with something Manafort might have said?

The question now becomes: was Trump himself personally in on the act? How much did he know, and when? Was this his plan, to scupper the tightly controlled Mueller investigation by planting a man on the inside; making Mueller believe he was open to a juicy plea bargain? Well, as yet Trump has not described Manafort as “weak”, which is Trump code for “disloyal”, and applies in spades to “very weak” Cohen. We can take that as a clue.

Trump’s business history is littered with cleverly plotted scams that have reportedly netted him and his family millions of dollars over the years from so-called “pump & dump” schemes. The MO has been to schmooze the media throughout his career, to build a gilt-edged reputation for the Trump brand: the billionaire playboy/successful business mogul image, complete with a pumped-up blonde on each arm, that convinces his “marks” they’ll be adding value to their criminal money-laundering enterprises with a Trump or two on board.

These scams seem usually to be perpetrated in the so-called emerging nations; especially the former Soviet republics and other countries known for their corrupt politicians and businessmen, where the Trump brand of rackety glitz and bling is still regarded with some awe, still given currency by third-rate gangsters; where the Trump name on a hotel, casino or a leisure complex still guarantees the right kind of trade: punters willing to be fleeced!

Somehow, at some stage the projects all go belly-up and the Trumps walk away with the profits, protesting their complete innocence of any involvement beyond merely “licensing” the Trump name and sales of branded merchandise – for which he is also paid $millions by gullible local sleazeballs eager for the smell of Trump-flavored money to rub off on them.

But that’s just the small change. Without putting their name to the property deeds, the Trumps nevertheless “partner” the developers up until the point at which they walk away from the bankruptcy proceedings as beneficial owners of the company’s cash, which will have been long gone. But the deals always have total deniability. Funny, that.

Trump hustles, basically, crooks. He knows they’re the easiest marks; and that nobody much cares if he stiffs them. He doesn’t care where the money originally came from: in the case of a Trump-branded hotel in Baku, that never opened, it’s reported the source was a proscribed terrorist organization, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. A lot of his “partners” in these scams seem to wind up in gaol.

Here, however, the lifelong grifter had succeeded, albeit temporarily, in getting inside the Mueller camp to find out just what was going on, what evidence the squeaky-clean, poker-rigid Mueller has on him and his feral kids. And still it looks like his involvement may not have touched the sides: his legal team may carry the can. Weird old Granny Giuliani already appears to be in complete meltdown.

If it could be proved, though, it would … well, obstruction of justice barely covers it. It would be Trump’s Watergate moment multiplied a hundred times: a President of the United States conspiring with a convicted felon to sabotage a legally constituted Special Counsel inquiry into collusion with a foreign power to steal an election, abusing the presidential power of pardon to induce a witness to lie under oath? He would die in gaol; unless he in turn could count on a pardon from his Vice-President, Mike Pence – who is also reportedly now under investigation.

Trump has already been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of his former lawyer and bag-man, Michael Cohen, over misuse of election funds to bribe women to silence over affairs with Candidate Trump. Some of those funds are directly traceable to lobbyists for Russian business interests; other money came from corporations tricked into believing they were paying for privileged access to the Oval Office.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to everything. He’d like to see his kids again in this lifetime, and has spilled his guts to Mueller, principally about Trump’s already well-known business connections in Moscow, presumably the Agalarovs, and confirmed what we’ve all known for years, that Trump had an ambition to see his name on a Moscow hotel tower – but Putin has been blocking it. But is he lying too, for a pardon down the road?

Strangely, this story has come out today and is blocking further interest in the far more serious Manafort case. Overwhelmed with news, the US media is running around like a headless chicken with ADHD.

Not to mention, the New York Attorney-General’s office subpoenas alleging corruption within the Trump Organization and financial irregularities involving the Trump Foundation: none of which is in the power of the President to pardon.

The Manafort case however threatens to detonate a thousand barrels of gunpowder under the White House.

The insertion of a spy into the Mueller camp in this extraordinary way is the mark of a master con-man, used to strategizing the fraudulent acquisition of large sums of money by both quasi-legal and contra-legal methods. Donald Trump has apparently succeeded in scamming the supposedly cast-iron Purple Heart ex-marine, Mueller; a minor victory that will undoubtedly give him great satisfaction as he shuffles bald-headed in leg-irons to the latrine to empty his night soil, avoiding the gaze of large negroes.

But Trump surely cannot now pardon Manafort, Corsi and Cohen without revealing his tiny hand as a pervertor of the course of justice; has Paulie miscalculated? To protect himself and his grimy family, Trump’s only out now will be to let the former campaign chairman he barely knew rot in gaol – where he’s probably safest anyway, with so many angry Russians on his tail. But that will risk Manafort at some stage recanting his recantation….

Is Trump now completely screwed? It may be the return of Christmas, which the made-for-TV president promised his dumbfucks, what seems like a lifetime ago.

But don’t count your turkeys.

 

*Former CIA man, Malcolm Nance entertainingly describes how Assange has been hacking the computers of the staff at the embassy even while the Ecuadorians have been monitoring all his visitors and communications through British IT contractors. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgwegB34cGc It’s like the cartoon strip in Mad Magazine – Spy vs. Spy.)

 

“Why have I never made a penny when it seems so easy?”

Lax financial regulation

Company A and company B are both owned by Company C. Company A “borrows” $1.5 million from Company B. Company A “fails” to pay the money back and is sued by Company C.

Meanwhile, Company B borrows $1.6 million from a genuine investor to cover the loss and the loan is guaranteed by Company C which will pay when it gets its money back through the court, where a case is pending. (The odd $100 thousand goes to whoever as useful expenses, presumably. You know, brokerage.)

But when the investor politely requests the return of the loan, Company B is in liquidation. So the investor sues Company C. And the court finds that as there is a prior unresolved case between Company C and Company A, over money owed by the bankrupt Company B, the investor cannot sue Company C, which then makes off with the money.

Simples? Especially when the owner of Company C, and hence presumably Companies A & B, is linked with a business partner of Ivanka Trump.

Those Trumps, a magical name yet so unlucky in their business partners. I put it down to them being quite poor judges of character.

The Pumpkin is neither an accountant (he can’t afford one, either!), nor a grift specialist, thus he apologises profusely to everyone concerned, or unconcerned, if his simple take on some bad business that is described in much greater detail by Ben Shreckinger in GQ Magazine is confused and unhappy.

However if things are much as outlined above, it would be a classic “pump & dump” confidence trick.

Wouldn’t it? Oh dear, why have I never made a penny when it seems so easy?

In the meantime, GQ readers have also learned from Mr Shreckinger, a court acting for the Emirati-owned Commercial Bank of Dubai has quietly issued a subpoena to a company called Madison Avenue Diamonds, which traded until recently as Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, alleging that they may be unwitting accomplices to a fraud. Quite a large one, actually.

It seems that $100 million of diamonds may have been bought from a dealer in Israel by a pair of Dubai oil traders to conceal financial assets they owed to the bank, passed through various offshore shell companies and made into jewelry which – the inference is – may or may not have passed through Madison Avenue/Trump Fine Jewelry, obviously without their knowledge or permission, obviously, and then been sold and the money returned to the borrowers sparkling clean, stiffing the bank: a classic case of money laundering, it’s said (I wouldn’t know, at my age I don’t wash very often).

The director of Madison Avenue Diamonds is a real-estate developer called Moshe Lax, who happens to be the friend who introduced Ivanka to her shiny husband, Jared Kushner. How so? because he was Ivanka’s business partner and thought the couple would be perfect for each other!

Things, as they say, eventually went sour, and Trump parted company with Lax just last year, many months after she took up an interesting but somewhat vague position as an adviser to her father in the White House; where she and Kushner are alleged to have made over $80 million together during President Trump’s first year in office, although how is not explained.

Lax, as I have poorly understood these matters, is or was or is somehow also connected with Company C. Or was it A? Or B? I’m so easily confused, it’s lucky I have no money to invest.

Now, I hope I’ve understood that right, because I’m not an accountant or a diamond specialist; although I once had a client in the costume jewelry business and she was as bent as a paste brooch clasp on a clumsy Edwardian dowager. It appears, anyway, that the diamond dealer had spent time in prison a few years ago on an unrelated matter. Sorry if I have misunderstood, it’s quite complicated. Actually that doesn’t seem all that relevant, I think they threw it in just to add to the general air of criminality. Sorry, where were we?

Now, Trump herself is apparently not accused of anything untoward, as she merely “licensed her name” to Lax’s company and no longer runs Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, which seems to have gone out of business, although she probably did at the time the $100 million disappeared into the global laundromat. (Where in connection with Trump Organization, I wonder, have we heard that before?) Lax himself has been accused of involvement in all sorts, extortion and so forth, but no-one is saying anything.

Except that a house in New York owned by someone or other connected with the deal got torched the other week, NYPD is “investigating”, and nobody will say anything about that either.

All v. mysterious.

Look, if you’re really interested, here’s the link: http://www.gq.com/story/ivanka-trump-jewelry-business

And good luck understanding it, because I may not have got it at all right and have been foolishly jumping to conclusions. Sorry, and all that. I never was any good with money.

 

“An old dog, me, but a tricksy one!”

Ha!

Matthew Hedges, the British student, has arrived back in England after being released under an Independence Day blanket pardon by Crown Prince Mohammed of Dubai; a stroke of good timing, as (much to the consternation of the Foreign Office) Mr Hedges had just been handed a 25-year sentence for spying.

I hesitated to put the word student in inverted commas, because I don’t want to be accused of churlishness or anti-British feeling so near to Christmas, but certain facts in the case as reported in UK media do rather suggest that Mr Hedges is as much a student as Jamal Khashoggi was a “journalist”.

In other words, while writing a PhD thesis about the Arab Spring and a monthly column in the Washington Post’s mid- section might qualify both men for the descriptions, the terms “student” and “journalist” probably tell only a small part of the story.

Yesterday, in his alternate persona as The BogPo’s UB, The Pumpkin wrote:

“Was there some tiny hint of a possible suggestion there, then, that Hedges was hoping to find out what, if any, shift in policy there may have been towards the UAE favoring China as a future trading partner, or some such possibility? Just speculatin’.”

Because it seemed to me that there wasn’t much else worth spying about, given that the UAE buys all their top gear from us and the Americans anyway.

And today, highly paid experts at the BBC write:

“Crown Prince Mohammed … has also developed his relationship with both Russia and China. The UK is in danger of losing its favoured status in the UAE unless it can demonstrate that it is both a useful and reliable ally.”

Ha! An old dog, me, but a tricksy one!

Now look, I am not going to fuck-up somebody’s life chances by slinging speculative assertions around, so don’t take this the wrong way, but Mr Hedges doesn’t look to me entirely like a student, if one is any judge of character. He looks quite grown-up, and two “facts” about him, mentioned by a spokesman for the Emirates on the BBC yesterday just as the formalities for his release were being tied-up, were that he is a) also a “businessman”, and b) he spent much of his earlier life living in Dubai.

Whether those facts are necessarily correct, or grounds for concluding that British foreign intelligence might consider someone with those three strings to their bow as a potential asset, either permanently or merely opportunistically, I have no idea. His wife says he doesn’t speak Arabic. I find that hard to believe. As a PhD student – a very advanced educational level – with a speciality in Arab affairs, and having lived in the UAE “off and on” from the age of 8, so we are told, it seems, well – shall we say – less than likely. Although my son gave up learning the language, finding the writing too squiggly.

But I’m just an old bloke sitting in a chair, the cold rain teeming down outside from a leaden sky, a fitfully gusting wind, still strapped to a bag, a hard plastic tube pressing uncomfortably on my grumbling prostate, who can’t get an appointment to have it looked at for another three months; becoming increasingly testy as another Christmas on my own hoves into view. (I’ve already bought my present.)

Pay no attention.

Oh, though, if I may be permitted one small observation:

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe remains incarcerated in an Iranian hellhole after more than two years apart from her young daughter and British family. One wonders, had she really been spying for MI6, might she too have been sprung by now?

 

It’s not happening

The father of Pump ‘n’ Trump schemes, as Inside Politics kind of dubbed him, is meanwhile blithely denying that there is a word of truth in the 1,400 pages of a report legally commissioned by his own administration from fourteen government agencies and compiled by some 300 climate scientists, painting a bleak picture of a future powered on continuing high-octane fossil fuel production.

Quoting the catchphrase of the great Victor Meldrew, of “One Foot in the Grave” fame, Trump trumpeted:

“I don’t believe it!”

That supine old fanny, the BBC thus informs us that Trump “cast doubt” on the report.

WTF? Trump is such an ignorant fucking pig he couldn’t “cast doubt” on whether the crap in his gold toilet is his or some other orange asshole’s. You actually have to know something to “cast doubt”, and he knows nothing at all. Nothing. His – and our – problem is, he’s so stupid, he doesn’t know he’s stupid.

Flat denial is not a doubt-casting argument. But the BBC is so mired in fear for its future it cannot any longer maintain even a semblance of objectivity when it comes to any story whose fair reporting might put it in bad with the hard-Brexit politicians who hate them and could come to power if May’s government collapses.

Those, that is, who haven’t clocked that Trump has also today poured cold water on prospects for a US-UK trade deal post-Brexit, something they are desperately relying on to justify the banality of their evil.

Remember his “beautiful” steel tariffs? Well, they’ve just cost 14.5 thousand General Motors blue-collar Trump-voting workers their jobs, with another 18 thousand “voluntary redundancies” in the pipeline, but who’s noticing when he comes out with stuff like this? Everything he does or says is calculated to cover-up the last dumb thing he said or did. The man literally farts a cloud of cheeseburger-flavored lies wherever he goes, that swirl about him and hide the truth:

He’s mentally incompetent.

As evidenced by what he then went on to say, which was that climate change was not the fault of the USA, which was “record clean”, but of all the other countries that are signed to the Paris accord, which are not.

In fact, while India and China have higher aggregate emissions, because they have four times the population, the US has the second highest per capita carbon footprint of any nation, behind only Saudi Arabia.

A record of cleanliness – a “clean sheet” so to speak – to be proud of.

But this is the moron who believes “clean coal” means you wash it before burning. And that raking the forest floor will prevent wildfires. Who chucks paper towels and frankfurters to please hurricane victims. Who doesn’t know how to operate an umbrella, or that the President is expected occasionally to show respect to dead US soldiers. Who often doesn’t recognise his own wife. A six-times bankrupt man with skidmarks on his golfing pants and toilet paper stuck to his fucking shoe.

So, from what he says, abrupt climate change is both real and it isn’t. That’s increasingly the binary universe Trump is weaving from quantum entanglements, a kind of “both…and” Heisenbergian uncertainty in which two opposing propositions can be equally true at the same time.

The President, among whose very first actions in office were to issue a series of executive orders removing controls on polluting emissions to air, land and water, permitting drilling in nature reserves and banning the publication of climate research, later gutting and defunding the agencies responsible by putting unqualified energy corporation lobbyists in charge of the environment, has forgotten all that. It never happened.

He finds no contradiction whatever, has no embarrassment at all in announcing to the assembled media gaggle (after, as he says, reading “some of the report”; The Pumpkin concurs that the title page may often provide a clue to the contents):

Right now we’re at the cleanest we’ve ever been and that’s very important to me. But if we’re clean, but every other place on Earth is dirty, that’s not so good.

“So I want clean air, I want clean water, very important.”

Do you sort of get the feeling from that, that he didn’t really make it past fourth-grade? He certainly hasn’t read the report, as the cartoon version is yet to come out. It’ll be on the Christmas books pile when it does. He doesn’t believe it. Only he does. It’s a hoax, only it may not be, “some differences”….

It’s the method-acted Presidential certainty with which he makes the most illogical, inarticulate and uninformed pronouncements that really grates, knowing his dumbfucks will lap-up any smelly brown substance that dribbles from his rotting brain.

So now, go back to my fourth paragraph and take back your “I say, steady on! He IS the President of the United States after all… He must know what he’s talking about…. Let’s have a return to civilized discourse, old chap….”

Fuck that, matey. He’s a monstrous cretin, a deranged criminal ecocide, a caricature Mussolini and phoney game-show host, a lifelong business confidence trickster and serial adulterer beloved of slimy Evangelical Christians, who has to be removed from office immediately, before he kills us all with his ignorance, his stupid and fatuous lies.

If you have to pay him money to go, just do it. It can’t cost more than he does.

 

GW: Has it all blown over yet?

30 November sees the official end of the Atlantic hurricane season. The total of three Category 4 or greater hurricanes making landfall in the continental USA in the past two years is an all-time record. Michael was among the four strongest in history. Hurricanes seem to be changing their patterns and tracks, too. “Hurricane Leslie maintained hurricane status … to a location where no hurricane had ever been observed: just 200 miles west of Portugal. 3 hours after being declared post-tropical, ex-Hurricane )70 mph) Leslie made landfall on the coast. Damage was over $115 million, making Leslie one of their costliest wind storms on record.” (Wunderground)

USA: Winter Storm Bruce brought bone-chilling temperatures to parts of the eastern half of the United States over Thanksgiving last week. Once again the anomalies look kind of weird, it being much warmer than normal again over the far-western half with a sharp gradient inbetween the two systems. At least 21 low-temperature records were broken (CEWN #146), prompting Trump to ask what had happened to global warming? A stupid question he trots out every winter. Monday 26th, Chicago was locked-in by a fierce snowstorm: O’Hare was closed, and traffic became gridlocked as far west as Kansas City.

01 December: hundreds of households in burned areas of California are being mandatorily evacuated and roads closed as torrential rain causes flash-flooding and dangerous mudslides. (The Weather Channel)

Saudi Arabia: Powerful storms have once again brought flooding to the desert kingdom, with Mecca especially badly hit on 24 Nov. These countries are always in the news but you never hear about the many extreme weather events affecting the Middle East this year. (CEWN #146)

Greece: Reporting a bakeries federation warning that bread prices and other flour-based products are about to rise by up to 6.5%, a local source states: “Unprecedented weather conditions in Europe and America, combined with high temperatures, prolonged drought and heavy rainfall, have led to a large decline in the production of agricultural products such as grains… The daily adds that price increases of 20% have been already recorded in bread and goods based on flour in some European cities.” (Keep Talking Greece website)

Which is odd, because most wheat growing areas reported bumper harvests and lower prices this year. Except Australia, where the harvest was slashed by 50% owing to the long drought. Late soya harvests in the USA have been severely hit by the early onset of winter. Russian moves to close the waterway through the Azov sea could affect up to 2 million tonnes of grain exports from Ukraine. (AgriCensus)

Australia: two days after being covered in orange dust blown in from the outback, “Sydney has been deluged by the heaviest November rain it has experienced in decades, causing flash-flooding, traffic chaos and power cuts. Heavy rain fell throughout Wednesday, the city at one point receiving its average monthly rainfall in two hours. At least 2 deaths have been blamed on the storm.” (BBC News) The first week of December sees over 100 fires burning in Queensland, where temperatures are expected to be up in the mid-40sC, +100sF. A cyclone is possibly forming off the coast: the State premier has warned people to “expect anything”. (Guardian)

The sands of time… Our Vanishing World… There is no hope whatever of surviving this…GW: Slip sliding away

Quote of the day:

“The man who was Brexit secretary until 10 minutes ago now reckons the Brexit deal is worse than staying in the EU. Yes, mate. The great spectacle of the past two and a half years has been watching allegedly very clever people realise this incredibly slowly.” – Marina Hyde, writing in The Guardian

 

“Is this rain, Jerry? You have rain here too? You know I melt in the rain. Is this the umbrella guy? Are there burgers? I like to give burgers. They like me to add a little tomato sauce. Where are all the people? I usually have people…. (etc.)”

 Rain Man visits Paradise, Ca.

 

The sands of time

Matthew Hedges, the British PhD research student gaoled for a minimum of 25 years in Abu Dhabi on espionage charges, has been offered the possibility of “clemency”, following a fairly robust intervention by the new British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

Update, 26 Nov.: Mr Hedges has been granted a “pardon” in the upcoming National Day list of prisoners to be freed and is expected home “once formalities have been completed”. This is far from the end of the story, however….

The BogPo suggests he was lucky Boris Johnson is not still the Foreign Secretary, the useless and lazy gumboil who sank the chances for release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British national imprisoned on trumped-up charges by the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, blurting out in Parliament that she was probably doing exactly what she was accused of (i.e. teaching Iranian women how to become citizen journalists).

A pardon from the Emir would of course require Mr Hedges to confirm the court’s perverse ruling that he is guilty, and presumably require him to sign an NDA on any mistreatment he has suffered.

Mr Hedges, attached to Durham University, was arrested while leaving the country, where he has lived on and off since the age of eight. Perhaps unwisely chosen, his research thesis was on the Arab Spring, to which end he had interviewed participants who might be seen to be controversial.

It is frankly quite easy for a noted conspiracymonger such as the BogPo to imagine that this story seems rather convenient, but we’ll press on….

After six weeks of enhanced conversations, allegedly, Hedges was held for six months in solitary confinement and is in delicate health. During his time in prison, under interrogation, he was forced to sign what turned out to be a confession.

The document was in Arabic, which his partner says he does not read. It’s the oldest play in the shithole countries’ police entrapment book. He was denied the benefit of a translator, or legal representation. The court in Dubai last week sentenced him to life after a five-minute hearing at which, again, he was allegedly denied representation or the right to make a defence; although he now has a court-appointed lawyer; and with international media interest generated by his partner, has come the FO’s belated intervention.

Dubai is not on the list of countries the British government likes to upset by confronting them over their pretty rank human rights record.

Any normal human briefly considering the case might conclude that someone who does not speak Arabic is not going to make a very good spy. These primitive desert dwellers are still entirely dependent on Western technology, so what exactly Mr Hedges was supposedly sent to spy on is not clear, given we’ve already got more of whatever it is than they have.

The Foreign Minister of Dubai has described the abysmal proceedings as the fair exercise of justice, but says the Emir might look favorably on an appeal. Frankly, we should lock up their ambassador and pull his toenails out. But that’s not how we do things: we just extract their oil money instead.

My advice to anyone thinking of visiting this luxury tourist trap – lots of shiny skyscrapers, flood-prone artificial island estates for Western celebrity taxdodgers, air-conditioned golf courses and indentured slave labor; nevertheless still home to tribal societies barely out of the Stone Age – country is, don’t. Why go, when you could summer in Margate? Don’t give them the satisfaction of your interest, your money.

Only, the fans of Manchester City have. Britain’s most up-and-come Premiership soccer club followers have reportedly rallied to the flag, the flag of Dubai that is. So happy are they about the scads of oil wealth that have pumped up their formerly failing kickabout enterprise with a plethora of hugely well-paid immigrant talent, that doubts are being raised on their Forum or whatever about Hedges.

It appears from what they are saying, that he must have been a spy after all.

And indeed, that is what the Emirati are saying. An official described Hedges as “50% PhD student, 50% businessman and 100% in the service of British intelligence”, claiming Hedges was trying to get information on the uptake of technology in the state – odd, since presumably one only had to look at the shopping lists they regularly send us.

Was there some tiny hint of a possible suggestion there, then, that Hedges was hoping to find out what, if any, shift in policy there may have been towards favoring China as a future trading partner, or some such possibility? Just speculatin’.

Anyway, the BogPo has detected one curious anomaly. In Hedges’ supposed “confession”. The BBC reported, he had claimed to be “a captain in MI6”. MI6 of course does not operate a system of military ranks, unlike the Russian GRU. Was this perhaps a piece of false information Hedges had inserted before disappearing forever into a Dubai dungeon, to draw attention to the absurdity of his statement and the compulsion under which it was made?

I doubt we shall know, as the detail has not subsequently been much mentioned, other than on the trite satirical BBC panel show, Have I Got News For You. Which I am sure is watched by many MI6 officials.

For a more cogent briefing on what to expect if you fall foul of the Emirati, go to:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/23/justice-uae-dubai-british-academic-matthew-hedges

 

Our vanishing world

Let’s pause for a second to pay tribute to John Allen Chau.

Okay, second over. This brainwashed American booby bribed some Indian fishermen, now being held in custody, to ferry him within kayaking distance of the shoreline of North Sentinel, one of the Andaman islands now owned by India. He stepped ashore brandishing his waterproof bible (the pernicious evangelical movement has thought of everything), singing hymns, and began immediately trying to convert the natives to Christianity, proferring gifts of a pair of scissors, some fish, and a soccer ball, according to his diary – all his grieving mother has left of him.

Was ever Jesus bartered so cheaply? Mr Chau wrote: “Lord, is this island Satan’s last stronghold where none have heard or even had the chance to hear your name?” And that, after 200 years of occupation by the British! These awful prodnoses not only need their heads examining, they need to be taught a little history.

The Sentinelese, as the tiny community of aboriginal tribespeople are called (because nobody knows what they call themselves) enjoy special protection, their numbers having been decimated by years of contact with the trigger-happy, disease-ridden Raj. Outsiders are forbidden by law from landing on the island. The authorities are now pondering what to do about collecting the remains of Mr Chau, perfunctorily St Sebastian’d with arrows and buried on the beach.

The Twittersphere’s verdict? Basically, good riddance. Retailing the tragic story, however, the Washington Post reminds us, Mr Jair Bolsonaro, the newly elected fascist President of Brazil, and a dead-ringer for Rudolf Hess, the Nazi war criminal, has a manifesto commitment to tear up the agreements permitting Amazonian tribes – roughly 100 are left – protected access to their reservations, as he licences more vast areas of the rainforest to be cut down and burned to make space for his business cronies to grow more soybeans to sell to China.

Mr Bolsonaro’s religion is, of course, money – lots of it. He was elected on a platform to end corruption. Why do voters fall for this bullshit every time? It is the best argument I know against extending the franchise to the common people, who do not, as the theory goes, possess even one ounce of native wisdom or percipience when it comes to the horrible bastards they regularly put in power in the pathetic belief that “strong leadership” will save them from the hopeless condition in which they are kept by the very same lying politicians they noisily support at election time.

It’s acknowledged to be one of life’s mysteries, why they do that.

 

Okay, BBC, get over it.

So you’ve discovered women.

Not only is veteran newsreader and Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce slated to take over from Dimbleby at Question Time, and the entirety of Radio 2 being presented by Zoe Ball and Sarah Cox, we now have perky standup, Lucy Porter “guesting” on R4 as presenter of The Now Show in place of Hugh Dennis.

But behind every successful woman there’s a little man, they say… the main writer’s credit still goes to Steve Punt.

 

“The efforts of King Cnut spring to mind.”

There is no hope whatever of surviving this

Anyone fancying that we can change our way of life just in time to prevent the coming Age of Extinction events needs to imagine that they are Mr Andy Southern, a resident of Bath Spa.

An elegant, compact Georgian city in the West of England, Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is being eaten away by pollution. Laid out long before the arrival of the horseless carriage, it sits in a hollow depression, where trapped traffic fumes contribute to a noxious atmosphere in which thousands of residents are suffering from asthma and other lung conditions. And Bath is a traffic nightmare.

The surrounding topography makes the construction of a bypass problematic. Solutions such as tunneling under the city are ruinously expensive. And so, on the direction of central government, that has legally binding emissions targets to meet, the council has proposed introducing a £9 a day charge; creating a low-emissions zone for diesel vehicles, just as there is in London, to help cut down toxic Nitrogen dioxide and micro-particulates; also, the pernicious Sulphur dioxide which, when combined with rain, is eroding the soft sandstone out of which the city was made.

Naturally, there is massive local oppostion to the proposal. Quoted in The Observer, one interviewee among many to voice similar sentiments, Mr Southern says:

“I have a diesel car that will fall foul of this. It’s going to cost me £2,200 a year. I agree we need to improve air quality but this scheme will hit families like mine.” (Guardian)

I agree we need to improve air quality but this scheme will hit families like mine… precisely encapsulates the irresolvable dilemma that is condemning the majority of species on earth, including our own, to extinction; certainly within 100 years, although the process has already begun, is fast speeding up and no-one knows how quickly the web of life and human society could collapse. Some scientists give it less than the next decade.

If you agree we need to improve air quality – I imagine Mr Southern has children – then what the fuck else does he suggest we do, than force diesel car drivers off the road? I’m sorry he can’t afford to switch to a car that runs on unleaded, I can’t either. Even that is not going to save us. He and I need to stop driving altogether and switch to public transport (I can no longer sit a bicycle saddle, thanks to an enlarged prostate). You do too.

But we won’t. Not until we’re all dead.

Bizarrely, in Washington the Trump administration is frantically backpedalling on its own 1400-page report, compiled from contributions from over 300 government scientists, that points in great and specific detail to ever-advancing environmental destruction, food shortages and huge economic damage from chaotic weather patterns and rising seas, toward a 2100 timeline for the end-time.

The response from the White House?

“The White House said the report – compiled with help from numerous US government agencies and departments – was inaccurate” (BBC News). A Trump person spokesplained that it fails to take into account the as-yet unproven assertion that technology will provide the solution just as long as we go on exactly as we are.

Having met with some skepticism toward Lyin’ Sarah’s version, the WH later amended its opposition to claim that the report’s conclusions were based on a worst-case scenario. They weren’t. Quite the opposite.

Meanwhile Trump continues to double-down on his fatuous denials, hailing the sharp arrival of winter in the eastern United States last week as evidence of his theory that climate change is probably a hoax, and if it isn’t it will soon reverse itself. This is a story that is apparently believed by 47% of Republican voters.

A “hoax” that was presumably therefore perpetrated way back in the 1880s when atmospheric warming by CO2 was first demonstrated and has persisted in secret among tens of thousands of scientists from many different disciplines and in many different institutions in dozens of countries, who have been warning us ever since, to no apparent purpose.

The efforts of King Cnut spring to mind.

With these petro-cretins in charge – the claim that the report is “inaccurate” is based on no evidence whatsoever, let alone scientific evidence – and with the prevailing social attitude – also evident in France, where popular riots have followed a proposed increase in fuel duty – that: “I know we have to change, but it will hurt me personally so I’m not going to”, there is no hope whatever of surviving this.

 

GW: Slip sliding away

Vietnam: Typhoon Usagi is just crossing the Vietnamese coast, Saturday 24 Nov., headed for Saigon. To the north, Typhoon Man-Yi is weakening as it approaches the Japanese islands, but the Philippines is threatened by a frontal system bearing torrential rain.

USA: Death toll in the Camp Fire that incinerated the town of Paradise now standing at 84, with 475 still unaccounted for. 14 thousand homes were destroyed. Torrential rain has turned the ash to sloppy concrete making the search for more bodies difficult. Warnings are out for mudslides on steep slopes denuded of tree cover. The fire is now 95% contained; the Woolsey Fire around Malibu to the south of LA is also nearly out, 1100 people still under evacuation orders and 3 confirmed dead.

Update 25 Nov. : the Camp Fire, deadliest in California’s history, is finally out.

This weekend marks the 68th anniversary of the great Appalachian snowstorm that dumped 64 inches over Coburn Creek, Pennsylvania between 22 and 28 November, 1950. Winds in New Hampshire gusted to 110 mph. The temperature in Pellston, Michigan fell to minus 23 F (-30.5C). “A curious extreme occurred in Virginia: the state’s monthly high in November 1950 of 90° at Buccs Island Dam on the 2nd and low of -3° F at Burkes Garden on the 25th were respectively the hottest and coldest temperatures ever measured during November in Virginia.” Between 160 and 350 people died. (Christopher Burt, Wunderground historian, proving that extreme weather is not always the product of a changing climate.)

Australia: “Australia’s east is facing a weather double whammy with both an unprecedented heatwave and flooding rains as two systems roll across the country. Cairns sweltered through its hottest day ever recorded as the mercury peaked at 41.3C. The forecast comes as bushfires punish Queensland with … an out-of-control “monster” blaze focused on the state’s central coastal area. Hundreds of residents have fled their homes.” (News.com.au) Meanwhile an atmospheric phenomenon, known as a gravity wave, has appeared over Melbourne. 100 mm of rain is anticipated in central New South Wales.

Bangladesh: Village women on the coastal margin too poor to afford the bribes to obtain building plots further inland are suffering a higher rate of miscarriages which, researchers believe, are caused by increasing salinity in their drinking water as rising sea-level displaces their fresh water sources and pollutes their crop-growing areas.

Europe: “Excessive” rainfall was again forecast for parts of SW France, Italy and the southern Balkans over the weekend. 4 tornadoes were confirmed touching down around Cortone in Calabria and up into Puglia on the afternoon of the 25th, video showing they were alarmingly large, causing significant damage, and produced several “big hail” events.

UK: A revised forecast from the Meteorological Office suggests that by 2070, summer temperatures across Britain will range from 0.9 to 5.9 degrees hotter, with a 1-in-2 chance of a summer as dry and hot as 2018. Average summer rainfall is predicted to be up to 47% lower. It’s amazing what you can come up with while playing pin the tail on the donkey.

Dust: What’s your preferred color? A huge wall of gray dust has engulfed the city of Zhongye in northwestern China, driven off the Gobi desert by strong westerlies. Sydney, Australia was choked with orange dust from the outback at the weekend. More red dust is to be found on Mars, where the latest NASA mission, the Insight Lander, was due to touch down Monday evening (26 Nov.)

The price of extinction… A footnote to history… It’s the reel thing… GW: sifting through the ashes of Trump’s conflagrated brain

From BBC News website, 20 Nov.:

“People trapped in a falling lift in the US city of Chicago thought they were going to die as they plummeted 84 floors to the ground. Those aboard screamed, prayed and cried, reports said.

“You may also be interested in:

  • Mystery of wombats’ cubed poop revealed”

 

The air is so hot ahead of the fire that palm trees burst into flames like torches in a Malibu garden as smoke darkens the daytime sky and the Woolsey fire bears down on an expensive villa property. (David McNew/Getty, with apologies again) Is this where we’re all headed?

The price of extinction

Even as thousands of Extinction Rebellion protestors link hands to block London’s bridges and are carted off to choki by the dozen, another protest tells a different story on the other side of the Channel.

If proof is needed that there is no possibility or even a glimmer of a possibility of a hope that the human race can be persuaded to change its way of life along with the climate, before the refugees are throwing themselves on the razor wire under the machine-guns and the food riots are breaking out amid empty supermarket shelves, it is surely this.

One protestor was killed, hit by a car, and many injured in other incidents acrosss France, as 120 thousand people wearing yellow safety gilets took to the streets to block traffic in protest at an increase in fuel duty proposed by the Macron government. All the injuries were caused by furious drivers pushing impatiently through picket lines. One 71 year-old man is in a serious condition.

The price of a liter of diesel in France is still 6p lower than it is Britain (except on our famously expensive motorway network, where you will pay greedy petroliers a 12p to 15p/l premium). Crediting AFP, the BBC reports:

“The price of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in French cars, has risen by around 23% over the past 12 months to an average of €1.51 (£1.32; $1.71) per litre, its highest point since the early 2000s. World oil prices did rise before falling back again but the Macron government raised its hydrocarbon tax this year by 7.6 cents per litre on diesel and 3.9 cents on petrol, as part of a campaign for cleaner cars and fuel.”

The protestors are up in arms about a further 6% increase Macron has proposed for January, claiming the price of oil has fallen; although actually, it’s been going up. (Oops, no, it’s just plunged 7% again today and the markets are jittery.) They’ve called on Macron to resign as he “doesn’t have the interests of the people at heart”.

A new report in The Lancet meanwhile suggests that the developing lung capacity of urban children is reduced by 5% when they are exposed to daily levels of NO2, the main pollutant gas from diesel fuel, higher than the WHO standard, as children are in most European cities; and that this will shorten life expectancy, leading on to lung disease and a generally unhealthier population. It also impedes brain development. A recent Chinese study revealed too that CO2 can reduce cognitive ability in 60-year-old adults by about a year’s worth of schooling. The CO2 burden in the atmosphere at more than 405 parts per million has not been this high in the last 1.5 million years.

But no, M. Macron doesn’t have the nation’s interests at heart. No proud freeborn Gauloise-smoking Beaujolais-glugging Horse-chewing Sitting-around-in-cafes-discussing-philosophy Accordion-squeezing Stripy-top-and-beret-wearing Frenchman is going to be told he has to breathe cleaner air.

 

Daybreak

Today is World Toilet Day (19 November).

 

A footnote to history

Three unusable water cannon bought by Boris Johnson from the German police when he was mayor of London to control potentially riotous crowds have been sold for scrap, at a net loss of more than £300,000. (Guardian)

The 25-year-old vehicles cost £85,022 each in 2014, but were found to be riddled with faults and required expensive modification to make them roadworthy. It then turned out, it was illegal to drive them on London’s streets as they did not meet emissions standards.

After struggling for months to find a buyer meeting the original contractual conditions of the sale, i.e. that they were not to be sold to a repressive regime (such as the Johnson government to come?), after it appeared that not even an oppressive regime would want them, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, who promised in his election manifesto that he would donate the sale money to children’s causes, has given up the unequal struggle.

The ageing vehicles fetched a total of £11 thousand for their scrap value, but the money falls far short of the cost of maintaining them for three years.

The BogPo feels there is comedy gold in this story, if anyone cares to write it. Just the thought that this blundering, bloviating incompetent oaf could be our next Prime Minister fills an entire nation with dread, on whichever side of the deepening political divide you stand.

Another footnote:

UKIP’s latest leader, the preposterous Gerard Batten has appointed the pseudonymous “Tommy Robinson” (aka former English Defence League führer Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) to advise the party on Muslim grooming gangs, several of which have already been sentenced this year to lengthy terms in gaol; and on prison policy, which (having considerable experience) he regards as an abuse of his freedom to speak out against the “replacement” of the white race by Muslims.

Batten – who has compared the publicity-hungry midget to Gandhi – said: “I have appointed Tommy Robinson to be a personal special adviser on two subjects which he has great knowledge (sic). It is not necessary for him to be a party member in order to assist me in this role. I am looking forward to working with him.”

“Robinson has convictions for assault, drugs and public order offences, and has been jailed for mortgage fraud and for using someone else’s passport to travel to the US. He is awaiting a decision on his contempt of court retrial, which was referred last month to the attorney general for review.” (Guardian)

Of course, people can change. Not always for the better, but hey.

Batten raises shades of PG Wodehouse’s ludicrous character Roderick Spode and his “Blackshorts”. Having been dragged somewhere to the right of 1930s Germany’s National Socialists, too toxic even for founder Nigel Farage, the former party of middle-class protest, UKIP is surely a busted flush.

It is, isn’t it?

Please say it is.

The seaside town of Mexico Beach on 17 Oct., after Hurricane Michael’s 165 mph winds raised sea level by 18 feet. (Wunderground – Scott Olsen/Getty, with apologies) 45 residents died after refusing to evacuate.

 

Out of his 668 days in office, Trump has spent 159 playing golf, and over 250 visiting his own properties with a full security detail, at the taxpayers’ expense. He later claimed he was “too busy” to attend the annual Veterans’ Day ceremony at Arlington cemetery. White House officials later confirmed that he feared the effects of the heavy rain on his complicated combover.

 

“I just wish eBay would stop emailing me five times a day…”

It’s the reel thing

So, I waited four days and fourteen something hours, and to my surprise got home to find I was the beneficial owner of an Akai 4000D reel-to-reel tape recorder. Throughout that time, no-one had been bidding much near to what I reckoned might be an okay maximum bid to work from; but when the second bidder came up short my bid was dropped £10 and I’d won.

I’ve never bought anything on eBay before; and to be absolutely honest, after I’d missed the previous item I’d bid for, I’d just stuck in a bid not expecting to win, on the very next machine to come along – without realizing quite how many more fish there were in the sea, many of them more advanced and desirable and with reasonable buy-it-now prices.

Still, it’s been completely refurbished, and comes with a supply of tapes – mostly used, I gather – so my doubts and fears about buying stuff unseen this way should hopefully come to nothing. Secondhand reel-to-reel tape recorders mostly date from the 1970s and the moving components and record/playback heads are generally worn-out, you have to be careful. But the list of things the vendor had replaced and the technical description gave me confidence.

I just wish eBay would stop emailing me five times a day, inviting me to bid for more reel-to-reel tape recorders. I’ve already got one now, thanks! How many fucking reel-to-reel tape recorders can anyone use? (No, sorry, “unsubscribe” doesn’t work, it only encourages them.)

So, why do I need a reel-to-reel recorder in the digital age, when I have an excellent Zoom H4N handheld recorder that can make professional quality stereo recordings? It’s one of those stories. Reduced to its essentials, a) I’ve been wanting to make an album of songs, but with that slightly imperfect but warmer quality with greater bandwidth you got in the old days. Days when, b) I used to work as a producer using analog equipment and now have no faith in my ability to operate digitally.

For it is a truth sadly told, that I am unable to find on this machine, whatever it is that I have just recorded.

An Oldie rants

Everything digital and Smart is a gross mess of overcomplication, taking weeks or months to learn. I can’t be bothered. I imagine teams of marketing people and designers sitting around an endless conveyor-belt of off-the-wall, blue-sky ideas, to include this useful feature and that, another and – just in case – ten more.

It’s called “product differentiation”, the joke being that everyone has the same winning ideas, so that you end up with loads of virtually identical products to choose between, all replete with this and that user-friendly add-on or bundled apps you will never use, or a settings menu you really don’t need, whose obscure terminology you don’t understand.

I don’t understand what nine-tenths of the features do. Record-Rewind-Playback is all you need, with a volume pot. The rest of your balancing and mixing and splicing and special-effects and pitch-altering trickery can be done in studio, if you must. Why clutter your portable handheld machine with editing facilities no-one over 50 can understand?

In my view, industrial designers ought to be forced to live with their products for a year before companies are allowed to sell them. Free psychiatric support would be provided. Designers would soon realize that those ironic little postmodern touches, like disguising the on-off switch as a piece of the casing, can actually drive anyone over the age of 50 round the bend; reminding us of our irrelevance in the modern world.

Last year’s must-have feature on the iPad, for instance. No headphone jack! And this year, no Home button. My favorite of all time however is the Alfa Romeo 156, a saloon car whose rear-door handles, to make it look like a really cool 2-door sports coupé, were hidden in the roof trim.

Form should follow function, is my motto.

And if you imagine fingerprint and facial recognition are there for your security, you’re living on another planet. They are there to save wasting scarce police resources.

But what to make of the increasing volume of importunate demands for money?

From the Washington Post, with its $90 no-free-options paywall; Accuweather, that offers you a choice: take the ads or pay for the content; to the Guardian, whose owners are sitting on a cash pile worth £800 million and is in line to make £1 million profit this year, absolutely plastering its main menu and every story with long-winded explanations for why people should send money by the sackload, to every petition-mongering charity that hooks you with an innocuous request for a signature over some injustice and immediately hits you with a funding appeal…

Your Uncle Bogler would propose to investigate setting up a Patreon account, were it not for the strange fact that almost nobody reads this stuff, even though it’s good – and free.

Postscriptum

He did investigate a Patreon account, and immediately got dragged into a terrifying vortex of overcomplication. He only wanted a simple donate button and a secure page to feed the money into his account; instead he got six trial business plans and many levels of membership with incomprehensible benefits. He will in future stick to PayPal, thanks for donating, btw.

As if to emphasize the fact that joining Patreon is the equivalent of being sucked up in a Roswell alien tractor-beam, I have received an email just now, exhorting me to “customize your onboarding process”. Wtf, is all I can say.

 

Leavers on the line

A mass survey by the University of Cambridge and YouGov found that 31% of UK “Leave” voters believe there is a government plot to replace the British population with Muslims. 15% think the world is run by a secret cabal.

 

Unholy row

Suing Netflix for $50 million, the Satanic Temple organization has agreed undisclosed damages for copyright infringement over an image of a winged goat that appears in “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”, a reboot childrens’ TV series.

Satanic Temple, which claims 100 thousand followers, recorded a huge increase in applications in the weeks following the election of Donald Trump. The group holds Satan as a symbol of “opposition to arbitrary authority”. (BBC News)

Paradise, Cal. after the Camp Fire swept through, killing at least 79 people and destroying 7 thousand homes. The terrifying speed of the fire-spread was described as “one football field every second”. 700 are still missing.

GW: sifting through the ashes of Trump’s conflagrated brain

USA: With the discovery of more charred remains, the death toll from the Camp Fire that swept over the town of Paradise, Cal. (pop 27,000) last week has risen to 79. 700 people still remain unaccounted for, although authorities are hoping many were simply dispersed and have not come forward. Thousands too remain in temporary shelters and camps, refugees in their own country. The fire is still only 80% contained, although said to be burning now “in pockets”. 9 thousand firefighters continue to battle fires throughout the drought-stricken state. The death toll in the Woolsey fire in Ventura County has risen to 3. (BBC)

Meanwhile Trump is on the stump in California, still blaming the forestry service for the fires (apparently, he saw some firefighters on Fox News raking out brushwood and fulminated that they should have done it earlier, the way Finland does (the Finnish president has denied telling Trump any such thing). His administration last year slashed $633 million from the budgets of the responsible departments to pay for tax cuts for the rich, while many of the areas worst affected come under Federal agency management, not the local forestry service. But you can’t tell him anything; he’s too stupid to even know when he doesn’t know something.)

Sacramento, California had the worst air pollution of any major city on Earth on Friday. On Saturday, the anti-honor for most polluted city went to Oakland. Cooler, rainy weather arriving yesterday has handed the honors back to New Delhi and Beijing this week. (Wunderground) The increasing heavy rain has forced many fire evacuees living in tents to seek shelter anew. The total damage could be as much as $20 billion.

In the east, near-record cold temperatures are expected to put a dampener on Thanksgiving Day celebrations. 5F below was the coldest in New York since 1871. Blizzards are forecast going into the weekend. (Accuweather)

Canada: There are still some 30 fire ‘hotspots’ showing on the current map, all in British Columbia where they had a record fire season again, with a few more south of the border in Washington and Oregon (just checkin’). Getting up-to-date information is difficult, however: Canadians are a famously logical, plodding race of people, and when they say the fire season ends at the start of October, it ends – the information websites shut down and the firefighters go home.

Otherwise the east coast has been suffering record low temperatures for November; around one and a half meters of snow has blanketed Quebec, according to one report – other reports claim 15 cm.

Peru: Flash flooding and mudslides in mountain districts have killed 1 person, following heavy rains affecting San Martín, Huánuco and Cusco regions, for the third year in a row. Many rivers have burst their banks; at the 133m level the Huallaca river in San Martin is on Orange alert and around 500 homes have been evacuated. (Floodlist)

Vietnam: “On the heels of deadly Tropical Storm Toraji, a budding tropical storm will bring a renewed risk of flooding and mudslides to Vietnam later this week.” (Accuweather) At least 13 people are dead after landslides destroyed homes and buried victims in mountain villages near the resort city of Nha Trang on Sunday (AP). 4 others missing. 380 mm (15 inches) of rain fell in 18 hours on 18 Nov. There’s been extensive flooding too in southern Thailand, with 3 confirmed dead. (CEWN #145)

Philippines: 1 dead confirmed in landslides and flash floods from Tropical Depression Samuel.

Australia: Parts of drought-stricken northern New South Wales were affected by a massive red dust storm yesterday, 20 Nov. Another huge dust storm is threatening the cities of Canberra and Sydney. In New Zealand, a large tornado touched down near Canterbury, on the south island. There were no casualties.

Iceland: While the rest of Europe appears to be cooling down after last week’s exceptionally warm spell in the north, and the weather has started to look remarkably normal, albeit with “significant snowfall” expected for large parts of southeastern and eastern Europe over the next several days, with extremely heavy rain over lower-lying areas to the south of it, posing a flood threat to parts of Greece, Iceland remains this weekend at anything up to a disturbing 18 degrees C, with heavy rain forecast. (Meteo World/Severe-weather.eu) The extreme warm anomaly is expected to persist over Greenland and across to the far north of Scandinavia, anything up to 30C above normal, for several more days.

Italy: Heavy snow in the north of the Balkans, Austria and the Alps being balanced by “excessive” rainfall in southern Balkans and central Italy, with “enhanced risk” of flooding. (Severe-weather.eu, 19 Nov.) A huge “unusual” waterspout came ashore in Salerno, on the SW coast today (20 Nov.) but little damage was reported.

Spain: “Locally intense storms will produce persistent torrential rainfall, resulting in locally 100+ mm of rainfall over the next 48-72 hours.” (Severe-weather.eu, 19 Nov.) These intense storms extending down into North Africa have been characteristic of the past three months in the Mediterranean region. In Catalonia, 1 person has died and many were injured when a landslide caused by heavy rain derailed a train. “Heavy rain over the past few days in the north of Spain too has caused flooding and landslides. A woman died on Sunday after a river flooded in the north-western Galicia region.

On Saturday, 20-foot ocean waves swept through the city streets of La Palma, Tenerife, flooding ground floors and tearing away the balconies of a seaside apartment building. (Guardian) Forecasters warn of torrential rainstorms to follow later in the week, with possibly as much as 7 in. of rain over the weekend. Southern Spain too is on Yellow alert.

UK: “sleet, hail, strong Easterly winds and snow will strike Britain this week, marking an end to the unusually mild start to November.” (BBC Weather) Up to 4 inches of snow could cover the Scottish highlands. Wintry weather is expected to last into December with temperatures at night falling to -5C. (The Sun) Boglington however continues dry and sunny.

Turkey: Intense rainfall brought extreme flooding to the city of Bodrum, in southern Turkey, on the 17th, with damage to property and cars. (CEWN #145) A damaging waterspout hit Marmaris, Mugla province, southwestern Turkey, 21 Nov. The waterspout impacted the marina, overturning, lifting and displacing yachts and cars. No injuries have been reported.

Middle East: Footage emerges with an extremely belated Climate & Extreme Weather News #145 of a terrifying storm that inundated Kuwait City in the UAE on 06 Nov., of flash flooding in Jordan that killed 13 people around the ancient rock-carved canyon city of Petra, and of flooding in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital, on 09 Nov..

Pollution: 4 in 10 parents of school-age children in London have moved house or are contemplating moving and/or changing their children’s schools as a result of local air pollution monitoring surveys, according to Mumsnet. A report in this month’s Lancet finds that city children on average lose 5% of their potential lung capacity when fully grown to damage caused by Nitrogen dioxide and particulates from diesel fumes, leaving them exposed to higher rates of lung disease.

Habitat loss: The Labour-controlled Welsh Assembly is reported to be on the verge of approving a £2 bn motorway bypass for the congested M4 around Newport. The preferred route of the new road, being justified on the grounds that it will enable more EU freight traffic to transit the country from the Channel ports to the Irish sea crossings at Milford Haven and Fishguard, not benefiting Wales in any way, will devastate the Gwent Levels, a habitat-rich wetland area of unique species diversity in Britain. (Guardian Green Light)

The decision is being taken in flagrant disregard of last week’s UN report warning that, in addition to a growing number of total extinctions that threaten to tear apart the web of life, 60% of the populations of most vertebrate species on earth have vanished since the 1970s, and recommending that world governments take immediate, urgent remedial action to restore and protect lost habitat. Wake up, Cardiff Bay.

A report on the Arctic News website refers to new research showing that rapid species collapse could begin by September 2019 owing to an El Niño event creating up to 5C warming. The research indicates that the majority of plant and animal species cannot survive at a temperature of more than 23.7C (10C above 1750). It shows too that rapid extinction is accelerated by “co-extinctions” of interdependent species, however hardy they may be. Record methane levels are once again being detected over the Arctic, even as winter advances.

 

The Big Bang

Yellowstone: Did we mention Steamboat #29 before? Losing count. The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, Yellowstone Lake area is showing its highest uplift level ever.

The giant Fuego volcano in Guatemala has erupted for the fifth time this year.