The Pumpkin – Issue 105 now taking form: Lock ’em up!… Or just string ’em up?…Janus… GW: slipslidin’ away

Lock ’em up!

Thinking about it, I’ve been struck by some synchronicities within the strange world Trump has been building, a world in which his is the only mind and he the Creator. It’s a bit like terraforming Mars or something, you go someplace, you find a set of realities you can’t live with and turn it into some other, more familiar place you can, usually without anyone’s permission.

Take one solipsistic sociopath, a malignant narcissist with paranoid tendencies, a Dunning-Kruger fantasist with added pre-dementia, a man with severe developmental issues and a complete lack of empathy or moral boundaries – whatever psychobabble you want to employ – make him the most powerful man in the world, and watch him go!

I’m going to have to insert a bit of backstory here, concerning Paul Manafort. This is the 70-year-old guy with the ostrich-skin jackets, Trump’s former campaign chairman (for only four months, so of course Trump hardly knew the guy) who is serving a 7-year stretch in a Federal penitentiary for a range of crimes, including tax fraud, failure to declare himself as a foreign agent and spectacularly trying to out-con the FBI.

Having worked for some of the most brutal and corrupt dictators in the world, Manafort had been operating in Ukraine for many years as a PR advisor to some of the local oligarchs, and with wealthy Russians working on Putin’s behalf to, essentially, terraform the political landscape there. One of the things he did was to help Viktor Yanukovych get elected as President.

Yanukovych’s main rival was a not-unattractive young lady called Yulia Timoshenko who, thanks to her high-level family connections, had been the Prime Minister. Manafort and his sidekick Rick Gates manufactured a corruption case against her, the charges stuck and she was locked up. Yanukovych got in, and started doing what Putin wanted, which was to push Ukraine out of the orbital influences of NATO and the neighboring EU, where the younger majority of the population preferred the country to go, towards Russia.

He also started looting the coffers of the state, ultimately getting away with almost $30 billion. But in 2014 he was overthrown in a mostly peaceful revolution, escaping in a dawn convoy over the border into Russia; whereupon, claiming that “fascists” were taking over, Putin invaded to “protect” the mainly Russian-speaking secessionist population of the eastern coalmining region of Donbass, and, of course, illegally annexed the formerly Russian province of Crimea, reversing a post-WW2 settlement.

A low-level war has been going on ever since, with, now, more than 13 thousand casualties – mainly civilians.

One of Manafort’s connections was an oligarch named Oleg Deripaska. This fabulously wealthy friend of Putin’s had cornered the entire post-Soviet market in Russia’s aluminum mining and smelting industry after a bitter struggle that ended with the unexplained murders of several of his business rivals. Be that as it may, he set about cultivating well-placed global influencers. British and EU politicians alike have enjoyed the hospitality aboard his yacht in the Aegean.

In 2009, however, a Russian accountant called Magnitsky had been found dead in his prison cell in Moscow, having been beaten to death shortly before his trial. (Official cause: heart failure.)  An American financial advisor, Bill Browder had employed Magnitsky, and was now accused of murdering him. He started campaigning for justice for the murdered man, pointing out that Magnitsky had uncovered a huge tax fraud involving people in high places, only to be arrested and held in custody on trumped-up charges. Outraged, the US Congress then passed a law, the Magnitsky Act, among whose provisions were the imposition of travel bans and freezing the finances of implicated oligarchs.

Among them was Deripaska.

Manafort also dabbled in low finance, and we gather that at some stage he must have offered to invest, or otherwise purify, about $17 million of Deripaska’s fortune via offshore tax-free vehicles he registered, that never received the money. He appears to have spent it on buying apartments in New York, and those ostrich-skin jackets. Ooops.

The “Aluminum King” then deputed one of his lieutenants, Konstantin Kilimnik, who’d been involved with Manafort in skulduggery in Ukraine, to ensure that Manafort would repay the money in kind, if not in blood. The two men set off for Michigan to begin the process of filching confidential voter data and sending it to a troll farm in St Petersburg, to fuel the campaign of disruption and disinformation through which Mr Putin thought to get his useful idiot, a sort of global “bull in the china shop”, Trump, elected.

By an amazing coincidence, the three states in which they did this stuff were the very states that got Trump elected by a margin of just 77 thousand votes when the matter was decided in the Electoral College – an institution designed to level the representational playing-field between more and less populous states by, essentially, rigging elections. Without this thoroughly undemocratic jiggery-pokery, as we know, Trump would have lost on the popular scale by 2.8 million votes; nor would Dubya Bush ever have been elected.

For some reason, in July of 2016, Mr Trump – who of course did not know Mr Manafort – fired his campaign chairman, the vapid little Trumpsucker Cory Lewandowsky, and installed Manafort in his place.

No-one knows why, for sure. Does it look like he came clutching a reference hot from the Kremlin? Surely gnotte.

Yes, okay, he liked dictators because they were desperate to be liked, and he could make that happen in exchange for large sums of dirty money; yes, he had experience of rigging elections in Ukraine; yes he worked for and was profoundly obligated to a close associate of Putin’s who wanted a man on the inside to persuade Congress to lift the Magnitsky sanctions. (In December, 2018 sanctions on Deripaska were lifted, at the behest of Senate leader, “Moscow” Mitch McConnell. The grateful oligarch then offered to build an aluminum plant in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. There is naturally no suggestion of a quid pro quo, a status quo ante, nor indeed of collusion.)

Yes, being on the inside of the campaign would prove useful to all sorts of people; yes, Manafort was in a position to provide high-level Ukraine contacts to Trump, Pompeo and Giuliani, who immediately began on Inauguration Day to start work on removing the incorruptible US Ambassador in Kyiv, Marie Yovanovych, in preparation for another, probably Manafort inspired, campaign involving oligarchs, extortion, political favors – and gas. (Because, you see, it’s all about the Energy, stoopid!)

And, yes, he’d successfully nobbled Timoshenko with a manufactured accusation of corruption, via a corrupt state prosecutor much in the latest news, which is exactly what Trump set out to do to his rival candidate, Hillary Clinton, to “Lock her up!” Where did he get that idea from? Because four separate investigations, even by his own terraformed Justice and State departments, over three-and-a-half years, have found no evidence of serious malfeasance on her part.

And that’s the synchronicity!

With the help of the corrupted Republicans in Congress, up to their necks in his filthy business and unable to escape, or to wash away the stain of their association, Trump is now frantically trying to forestall impeachment by persuading America that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for interfering with his election, to try to get Clinton elected instead; thereby justifying the attempt he denies having made, to force the Ukrainian president Zelinskiy to produce evidence of Putin’s innocence – and to help smear his rivals for the next election.

That there is absolutely no possibility that this Ukraine scenario was feasible, or even likely; without means, motive or opportunity and no smoking gun; that the mass of evidence and his own past inadvertencies point straight at the Kremlin, does not occur to Trump’s excusers and enablers, nor to his cult followers in the crazy community. In Trump’s terraforned world, anything you like can be true; every shape will shift.

How like the former Soviet Union is that?

The way he has gone about doing Putin’s business and bidding emerges from such stories with devastating clarity. There is no doubt whatever in my mind, nor in most anybody else’s who is following the shenanigans in Washngton, that he is a Russian asset. He might not even realize it, not fully – perhaps he is just struggling to find in Putin another authoritarian father figure to replace his monstrous dad, Fred, who bankrolled him to make tax losses while having nothing but contempt for him. Or to find another successful homosexual mobster like his old mentor, the ruthless Mafia lawyer Roy Cohn, whose alarmingly direct methods of management he strives comically to emulate.

Increasingly, through his social and political terraforming, America and the world are coming to resemble the inner landscape of Trump: the original Lost Boy. A useful allegory is provided by the current BBC adaptation of Wells’ The War of the Worlds, where starving survivors stumble through a barren, dustblown, rusty-red Martian landscape the alien invaders have been creating for themselves on earth.

Most Americans now realize that the man they thought was a bit of a joke, a buffoon with no manners, taste or education; a typically brash, upwardly mobile NooYawk real estate developer who would “get things done” in managerial style, is nothing of the kind. In addition to being an inept old fraud, a third-rate “mom and pop” businessman who succeeds by actualizing his mental confusion, he’s a monster, a mythical Balog dredged from the bowels of Hell by the wishful thinking of millions of disaffected voters dying for a savior to let loose their worst, most feral instincts on an unforgiving world they long to end.

Britain, beware. Under Trump mini-me Johnson, another devious, rotten and hubristic character, we are going down the same path to perdition. Not for nothing did those Martians with their terrible machines fall to earth in Woking, Surrey; home of The Spice Girls.

 

Or just string ’em up?

Mainstream media have been a little reluctant to report that Mr Thomas Bowers, 55, a wealthy former senior vice-president in the Wealth Management division of Deutsche Bank, was found hanged at his Malibu, Ca. home on 19 November.

Well, at least he won’t have to testify.

Inquistr reports that Bowers was the direct supervisor of a staffer called Rosemary Vrablic, who had been introduced to Trump with a recommendation from the equally indigent Jared Kushner as his “favorite banker”.Now, why was that?

“The bank’s investigation of Trump’s finances found that he reported values of his real estate assets that were too high by 70 percent in many cases.” (Something confirmed in court by Trump’s former bag man, Michael Cohen.) “Nonetheless, Vrablic and Bowers approved a $100 million loan for the president to buy the Doral Golf Resort and Spa near Miami, according to a New York Times report.”

My Gosh, I wish I’d met them sooner!

Deutsche reportedly continued to lend more than $1 billion to Trump over a ten-year period, at a time when no US bank would touch him, and despite being aware that Trump was red-flagged as a possible money-launderer. He was certainly a serial loan-defaulter – according to Mother Jones, he still owes Deutsche Bank $345 million. This period may have overlapped with a similar decade in which Trump Organization allegedly declared $100 million annual LOSSES to obtain tax benefits.

Deutsche was recently hit with an injunction to hand over their records of dealings with Trump Org. to Congress, which they have apparently done. We understand that the New York Attorney’s Office also has the records. Let’s see who’s the faster speed-reader.

Another client of Bowers/Vrablic was, we understand, his fellow suicide-by-hanging, Jeffrey Epstein.

So now, for some unaccountable reason, Mr Cohen, who had been due to give further testimony against Mr Trump – “Individual 1” – in February, is reportedly getting cold feet in the relative comfort of his cell at the medium-security Otisville, NY prison, and it ain’t becuz the heating brunk down.

As they say, everything Trump touches, dies.

 

Drain the swamp!

Pumpkin followers may recall, we bogld ages ago about a certain Dr Joseph Ackermann, who is connected to the Trump saga in the following way:

Dr Ackermann is the former CEO of Deutsche Bank, a global organization that has in recent years been fined billions of dollars for money-laundering – essentially, failing to check where the money has come from, that has flowed endlessly through their coffers, mainly from Russian oligarchical sources.

Dr Ackermann then went on to found Bank of Cyprus, that has also been accused of money-laundering, to the extent that some wit described it as “the global laundromat”.

The quip is quite amusing, as in the 1970s the late President Nixon, in order to hide the secret campaign funding he was getting from the Los Angeles Mafia, literally “laundered” it through a fake cleaning business created for him in Florida. (The state where Messrs Giuliani, Parnas and Frumin allegedly created a phony “gas” company, to launder funds from Ukraine into Trump re-election accounts. It’s not only swamps and alligators there.)

The two vice-chairmen of Bank of Cyprus were a sanctioned Russian oligarch, “The Fertilizer King”, Dmitry Rybolovlev, who “overpaid” $95 million for a worthless Trump property in Florida, netting Trump a $50 million windfall; and Mr Wilbur Ross, a “family consiglieri” described by the not-exactly leftish business journal, Forbes, as possibly “One of the biggest grifters in American history”, who after almost four years of the presidency somehow remains America’s Commerce Secretary.

The Cambridge dictionary describes a grifter as: “Someone who gets money dishonestly by tricking people.” Which Mr Ross certainly appeared to have done, when Forbes had to downgrade his public estimate of his fortune from $3.5 billion to just a few hundred million. Among which was, presumably, the $120 million he’s alleged to have swindled from his business partners.

And, look, I keep telling you, “It’s the Energy, stoopid!”

Because here, yet again, that word pops up in a report, this time from The Guardian, back in November 2017:

“Leaked documents and public filings show Ross holds a stake in a shipping company, Navigator, through a chain of offshore investments. Navigator operates a lucrative partnership with Sibur, a Russian gas company part-owned by Kirill Shamalov, the husband of Putin’s daughter Katerina Tikhonova.”

See if you can “gas” which one!

Janus

In case anyone should think that Trump is really so thin-skinned as to have been genuinely upset by Justin Trudeau’s overheard comment at the NATO summit in leafy Watford, home of the football team whose faded fortunes were turned around in the 1980s thanks to the lucrative ownership of Sir Elton John, The Pumpkin can only say, BS.

Trump never fails to rush to grab the headlines with some outrageous tweet or cackhanded military decision when there’s something more important going on, that concerns him and his criminal tendencies. If nothing else, he’s a master self-publicist who for decades has played the “fake news” media for all he’s worth, largely because he’s never been worth all that much.

I mean, who would want the world and its wife reading about a devastating, 300-page Congressional indictment of his attempts to cover-up the true story of his murky interventions in Ukraine, listing the entirely believable testimonies of 17 witnesses supported by a sheaf of call logs to his naked acts of unpresidential thuggery, when they could be reading instead about how funny he thinks was his riposte that Trudeau is “two-faced” – an obvious reference to the scandal of the Canadian Prime Minister having years ago unimaginatively attended three student parties in blackface?

After all, does Trump not lurk behind a curiously mottled orange mask? What race, I wonder, is he trying to insult with that?

 

“Ronnie played fantastic but it’s a really big win for me.” – Ding Jinhua

Gnyaah! Bring back the adverb, is all I can say.

 

GW: slipslidin’ away

Uganda: Floodlist cites, a little confusingly, Red Cross reports that at least 10 people may have died in landslides and flooding in two separate provinces; 5 in each, with a fairly large number still missing. “The tragedy hit after hours of heavy rain on 03 Dec.”

Spain: “A storm has caused flash flooding in parts of Murcia,  prompting high water rescues and some evacuations. Emergency services said they received 534 calls for assistance, including around 30 people rescued from vehicles trapped in flood water.” (Floodlist). Up to 390 mm (15-in) rain fell in 24 hours (on La Vita), coastal Valencia being battered by 4 meter waves and 80 mph winds. Storm conditions are expected across the South of France and into northern Italy.

Indian Ocean: Yesterday, Severe-weather.eu reported on a very rare occurrence, twin tropical storms intensifying to hurricane strength in the eastern Indian ocean, on either side of the equator – rotating as per theory in opposite directions. Today it seems the rarity of such an event is being eclipsed as three more tropical storms are forming in the same region. One is threatening the coast of Somalia, another aiming for Madagascar. Those of you who recall the film, The Day After Tomorrow, may not be so impressed.

Philippines: Typhoon Kammuri has killed at least 13 people, while 345 thousand are in evacuation centers, reports Aljazeera. “Kammuri, the 20th to hit the country this year, crossed the coast on Monday night, forcing hundreds of thousands of residents to evacuate and the cancellation of hundreds of flights.” Coastal communities south of the capital have been devastated.  Kammuri had intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane in just 18 hours.

USA: If you’re dreaming of a White Christmas, take cover! The polar vortex has split into five pieces owing to a heat anomaly in the stratosphere. “Brutally cold Arctic air will flow down into the north-central US mid-next week. Current forecast indicates that air temperature could drop as low as -25°C, in some places even down to -30°C! Over the border in Canada, temperatures will be even lower. This is an unusually strong cold air outbreak for early December, so its development will be closely monitored.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Australia: “Golfers at the Australian Open have complained of stinging eyes as toxic smoke from bushfires around Sydney affected the opening round on Thursday. Sydney’s air quality index registered on a par with Beijing, forcing New Zealand golfer Ryan Chisnall, who is asthmatic, to don a face mask.” (BBC)

 

Before you vote, you need to read this!… It’s a fuzzy old world… FIVE MORE YEARS? HONESTLY?…

Quote of the month

Readers may know that US Congressman Devin Nunes, a Trumpsucker of staggering ineptitude, is attempting to sue anyone who has reposted a Twitter meme in which his mother is represented as a wise cow character who thinks her son is an idiot (The Nunes family are dairy farmers). The defendants could run into the tens, even hundreds of thousands. Somehow, the law suit has ended up targeting any Tweet containing an image of a cow.

In a California court, the defense deposition runs as follows:

“…cows are domesticated livestock animals and do not have the intelligence, language or opposable digits needed to operate a Twitter account.”

It makes a change from the impeachment hearings.

 

Before you vote, you need to read this!

The 450 pages of notes from preliminary US-UK trade discussions Mr Corbyn was brandishing last week don’t only tell us the Conservatives are talking about letting US healthcare corporations breakup the NHS.

Of even greater importance are our data protection, intellectual rights and internet usage laws, which the Americans want to bring into line with theirs.

Which, essentially, totally favors the unfettered interests of US corporations over UK service providers; even to the extent of demanding a tax-free environment for online transactions..

We have new rules, for instance, concerning age-related material, to protect our children from extreme pornography and violent radicalizing images.

They don’t.

Back with the NHS, they’re demanding free access to British patients’ data. While we would lose control over things like the operating software built-in to high-tech products such as cars and MRI scanners.

A vote for Johnson’s shitshow of a government is a vote for our ultimate colonization by US corporate interests – the Big Selloff of our remaining sovereignty.

You can find out about it here:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/threat-our-digital-rights-revealed-us-uk-trade-talks-leak/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=7ae9268eb9-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-7ae9268eb9-408090269

 

“In this world of partial sightedness there are no straight lines. Everything is wrinkled, like looking through the bottom of an old pint glass.”

It’s a fuzzy old world

Trudging with Hunzi past the sports ground, I can hear a football match in progress. It might be a rugby match, we get all sports here.

I peer out across the grass, but can see nothing moving. I imagine youngsters running around, dads on the sidelines jumping up and down, bellowing helpful advice to pass it into space, but nothing at all seems to be happening. Which is odd, because I can see all the way across the expanse of grass to the road beyond, the passing cars, the buildings and the distant hillside, the trees and houses. Where are the people?

Welcome to the wacky world of partial sightedness.

A few days after my 70th birthday, for no reason other than that I am being punished by the Gods for some act of hubris, spending too much time on the computer possibly, a retina detached itself, requiring a repair operation of whose precise medical details I shall spare you, gentle Reader.

It was in my “good” left eye, that could see for miles. I’d twice been operated on the previous year for the same condition in my shortsighted right eye. Between the two I’d always enjoyed better than average vision, so this incipient blindness was new.

Following the repair operations last year, I’d needed glasses to bring the long sight in my “good” eye back to where I could comfortably read and write and view the big screen to which this keyboard is unreliably attached. I do a lot of writing. But – to my surprise, it’s a self-certifying process – I could still legally drive without glasses, as long as I didn’t rely on my right eye at junctions and I could read a numberplate at 25 meters.

The right eye was a different story. After the double detachment I’d been left with mostly peripheral vision, a fuzzy spot in the middle (my ex-wife joked, it was another of my gray areas. We’re that kind of family…) meaning that whatever I look directly at, faces, text, even a light source, completely disappears; while the sharpest focus of the eye is uncorrectably fixed at about nine inches. It’s not that I can’t see with it, but the world is a blur, not helped by the subsequent development of a thickening cataract.

Reattachment requires the injection of a semi-opaque medical gas to keep the repaired retina in place for a few weeks. I could see almost nothing through it, only light or dark and a sense of movement; although after a while it takes on a beautiful translucent quality, like looking into a deep, clear pool, at the bottom of which, greatly magnified, is your toilet bowl. You should try it, instead of those drugs.

It’s only a day surgery appointment, at a hospital 50 miles from home, so a couple of hours afterwards I was discharged from the NHS taxi as the wintry light was beginning to fade, into “the community”, now virtually blind and with no support arranged.

“The community”. God, how I despise that measly expression. I live alone, with a lovely dog and a serial-killer cat, both in want of frequent exercising and feeding. Fortunately, I’d parked the dog on a friend, but he would be back the next day. My little house sits on a terrifying main road, literally on a blind bend. The park and the convenience store, with its peculiar smell, are on the other side. My neighbors are all transient strangers, mostly students, when there’re any around. There’s no-one now in five houses either side of me. The community!

And there wasn’t a lot in the fridge.

No-one at the hospital had mentioned that the first point of contact for support should’ve been the Red Cross, which offers a useful free service, doing any housework and taking you shopping, to post-operative patients for up to six weeks. I found that out two weeks later, only after a concerned colleague had called them on my behalf – I couldn’t use the phone myself, on account of being unable to see the little names and numbers on the screen. Yes, I get that Google has voice activation. But I couldn’t see to set it up, see?

Fortunately, at about 7 o’clock that first evening another kind colleague from theater group turned up, offering to drive me to the supermarket. Having shopped there for years I know my way around the shelves, although I could read neither the labels nor the tiny cooking instructions. That didn’t matter, as I couldn’t read the clock on the microwave either, and so lived for a month with oven casseroles on repeat recycle. I couldn’t read cursively at all, but squinting sideways at larger headlines I could just make out a few letters here and there, that gave me clues as to what things were.

Helpful, then, that the hospital sends me appointments letters in tiny, 9-point type. To an ophthalmology patient!

I cursed myself, too, for never having learned to touch-type, as I was now no longer able to send or read emails, or maintain this, muh li’l bogl, at an extraordinary time in world history. A news junkie and compulsive bogler, I subscribe to an entire echo chamber of lefty media sources, all of them suddenly useless. Nor could I read the post; while a book I’d ordered remained in its packaging. Deflated, I turned back to BBC radio news, a known health hazard as brain-damaging as 2.5nm pollution particles; and listened to a lot of unidentifiable jazz CDs.

Concerned people were now phoning helpfully to suggest various items of talking software for the blind, that I had to explain I wasn’t able to install because I couldn’t see the effing screen. I found the inbuilt Windows reader app has an annoying habit of reading out metatext and the rubrics, a great eighties’ r&b band, but not the actual contents of your emails. And besides, I don’t need it.

One thing that probably saved me from harm was that, after the first experience of being half-blind, I’d taken care to rehearse the possibility of the other eye going, and had made sure everything in the house had its place, and I could find it with my eyes shut. There was a sort of comfort in blundering about, trudging through the park with the dog, gleefully informing everyone I normally meet that I had no idea who they were, but their heads seemed strangely tiny.

I’m not sure my predicament had yet sunk in.  I’d never realized disability, constantly having to think ahead and make allowances, would be so tiring.

Towards the end of the second week, after my ex-wife had done some phoning around, a nice lady turned up from Social Services and gave me a talking wristwatch, a thing that buzzes when your caffetiere is about to overflow, a non-slip mat for the kitchen worktop, and a “symbol cane”, a short, white, tubular affair you keep folded in your pocket, and wave around to show people you’re partially sighted. Taking that for a spin, I soon found it was more likely to get you killed. Drivers obviously get extra points for mowing down an elderly man on a pedestrian crossing when he’s feebly waving a little white stick at them.

A free maintenance team was promised, to improve the lighting and install safety devices. I’m also still awaiting a precautionary visit from the Fire Service. The Red Cross took me shopping. A week later, three more helpful women were perched on my sofa, from different agencies, patiently explaining all the wondrous benefits I could apply for, a man in my condition. I found myself signing various forms I couldn’t read, and thus the whole panoply of social care swung into action on my behalf, much to the annoyance of my genuinely blind friend Audrey, who complains that she gets no help at all, Guide Dogs for the Blind wouldn’t even give her a dog. Actually, I’ll be surprised if I do either.

Five weeks after the operation the gas bubble had shrunk to a pinhead and the vision in the left eye rapidly cleared. The consultant announced he was pleased with his handiwork, the retina was attached, the macula was immaculate, and in a few more months I might even be able to drive again, on one eye, with glasses. I thought to myself, I wouldn’t want to be sharing the road with me! And cancelled my car tax and insurance.

So now I’m feeling anxious and guilty. Having been left to fend for myself when it mattered, as my vision clears I’m now snowed under with voluntary services I no longer need to rely on. And then there’s the accusing evidence of those forms I signed, when I couldn’t read them. Am I committing benefit fraud? Should I give the watch back? It’s great when you wake in the middle of the night and can’t be arsed to turn the light on.

In this world of partial sightedness there are no straight lines. Everything is wrinkled, like looking through the bottom of a pint glass. Passing trees loom towards you as they come briefly into sharp focus, like a bad 3-D movie. Steps aren’t where you think they are. Wine goes over the table, not in the glass. People appear indistinctly as shapes out of a gray mist, I generally recognize them first by their dogs. They all look strangely etiolated, with long legs and small heads. Distant perpendiculars appear to have shadowy companions: double-vision, but with unexpected parallax effects. Last night there were three sinister-looking crescent moons in the sky.

Although the world is not in focus, I have to admit that everything is, to one extent or another, depending on conditions, visible, even at a distance; viable. My eyes, used to complementing one another efficiently, are no longer completely in agreement. But they do still work. I’m no longer blind.

So can I really consider myself disabled?

I keep meeting people in a far worse state, Parkinson’s seeming to be la condition de nos jours, and think, okay, I’ve had a brush and on past performance it could happen again, but until it does I’m still doing okay.

Tonight I went to the final dress rehearsal of the play whose leading role I’d had to give up. I was touched by the welcome of the young cast, and gladly accepted the invented, obviously ironic, walk-on part of the “Blind ex-serviceman” in a crowd scene. They even found me a military uniform to wear; and there was my name on the program! All I could think was to complain that the jacket is too tight.

But I imagine they’re used to that with me. Nothing fits.

 

“At least 135,000 children will be homeless and living in temporary accommodation across Britain on Christmas day – the highest number for 12 years – according to the housing charity Shelter.” (Guardian)

 

Photograph: Dan Kitwood/AFP via Getty Image/Guardian, with apologies.

Boris Johnson eating a scone at Rodda’s creamery in Redruth, Cornwall, November 2019

Who ate all the pies? This fat pig.

Keep on saying it until you bleed:

FIVE MORE YEARS? SERIOUSLY?

A spittle-flecked BogPo rant.

“He’s too cowardly to be interviewed on the aggressive Andrew Neil show, and he’s lucky Jeremy Kyle’s been closed down.”

Look. The record of the present government, especially on social issues, is criminal. The courts have frequently said so. But many of you are going to vote for them again anyway, because the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Corbyn, is not fit to be Prime Minister. Who told you that he’s not fit? Why, his opponent, the Leader of the government, Prime Minister Johnson. Do you normally believe anything you are told? In that case, you owe me £100. Come on, pay up.

Here, nine years on, we still have the weaklings in government who imposed £9 thousand a year student fees, with loans repayable at an eye-gouging 6 per cent per annum, when they are paying only one quarter of a per cent for their massive over-borrowing. The Lib-Dems got the blame for promising they wouldn’t impose student fees, but as the minority partner in a rare coalition government from 2010 to 2015, it wasn’t their call, it was the senior partners: the Conservatives, who did that.

Remember that name, because you’re sticking us with another five years of this horror show. You seem to want to believe their lies. You think, oh, I’m fed up with Brexit, and they say they will get it done, so I’ll vote for them. That’s a lie too: there are many more years of difficult Brexit negotiations to come, even after we have given up our influence in Brussels, given away our European powerbase and cast ourselves adrift on the trade winds, at the mercy of countries that have no interest in doing us any favors.

What did you think you were doing, voting for that? Oh, right. Too many foreigners.

These are the bastards who, having probably sensibly proposed shrinking the number of means-tested social benefits, with their 25-page inquisitional forms you are never allowed to finish completing, those endless forms, the endless demands for “evidence” – of what? Nothing! – brought in the disastrous one-stop solution, Universal Credit, that has actually killed people and made thousands homeless with its stomach-churning bureaucratic cruelty and grotesque inefficiencies. Under this heartless regime, 130 thousand children are officially classed as homeless. That is not Labour’s doing.

These are the bastards behind the Bedroom Tax, a Stalinist policy effectively fining people in public housing who keep or merely happen to have just one spare room. Many have been forced out of their homes. The bastards under whom valuable social goods like public libraries, public transport, meals-on-wheels and youth centers are being decimated, schools reduced to beggary, street crime flourishing, while the rich grow ever fatter and ludicrous vanity projects, such as the environmentally disastrous, £88 billion HS2 “high-speed train” line between London and the already well-served Birmingham, abound.

Look at your boarded-up high street, and think back ten years. Are the shops disappearing by accident? Jobs are being lost by the thousand, yet unemployment has seldom been lower. You do know, I expect, that you only have to be working for one hour a week, to be “fully employed” and off the register?

These are the filthy, devious, corrupt bastards, secretly foreign-financed, under whose watchful eye homelessness has spiralled; people dying in doorways; inadequate and unhealthy housing has risen to record levels; child poverty has more than doubled, teachers having to find food for their sleep-deprived, hungry pupils before they can learn even the threadbare syllabus imposed by the doctrinaire weasel, Michael Gove.

Conservatives do not want the children of ordinary people to learn anything that might enable them to make sensible, educated decisions about their lives. Why, they might start asking questions.

Blaming “baby boomers”, this knackered pastiche of a government has failed completely to meet its housing targets or rein in rapacious landlords or encourage the building of sufficient new affordable housing to meet even the targets of the lies it has told successively, year on year; while more “working poor” than ever queue at food banks and fewer young people than ever are able to get on the housing ladder – Mrs Thatcher’s dream of a “property owning democracy” has died with this government. They don’t care, as long as their own property values go on rising.

They are the self-inflating, Jingoistic bombasts who have criminally wound down our homeland defense capacity to meet the grotesque expense of a tired old military doctrine, MAD, no longer relevant in the internet age – and not even under their control. Who like to keep us all in fear with their threats of terrorism, in the most electronically surveilled country on the planet. Under whom violent street crime and gangsterism have flourished as rarely before – not since the nineteenth century.

These are the bastards who introduced the “Hostile environment” immigration policy, that has led to vast public expenditure on rectifying horrendous mistakes, so incompetent are the Home Office officials who lose over 60 per cent of the appeals against their monstrously cruel and arbitrary immigration decisions. People of the Windrush generation, victims are dying as a result of their sadistic ineptitude. NHS workers are flocking home, hospital wards closing, beds unstaffed, queues for operations stretching around the block.

Insecurity is the Conservatives’ watchword. They make money out of it.

Yet it has not and will not reduce the net number of immigrants, if that’s what you think you want. They will just come from somewhere else. The Court of Human Rights should be petitioned to shut this evil disorganization down, this “Home Office”, under the ghastly authoritarian ladder-puller-up for migrants, Priti Patel – Boris’ bus conductress. – as being completely unfit for purpose.

This is the government that claims, as thick Conservatives always do, that it is the only fiscally responsible political choice. The facts of history speak otherwise: Labour administrations are historically more fiscally conservative than the Conservatives. Whatever lies they tell you, the banks – greedy traders – caused the 2008 global crash, not the previous Labour administration. Nor did the previous administration rule that terrorists should be let out on the streets, that’s another fat Johnson lie.

Profligate Conservatives have since wasted countless millions and billions of pounds on appalling policy errors and departmental inefficiencies, the “Grayling effect”: £4 billion alone on compensating for the likely devastating effect of their lunatic “hard” Brexit policy, ferry companies with no ferries – and more than trebled the national debt since the last Labour administration, nine years ago, which it continues lazily and dishonestly to blame for all our current misfortunes.

The fact is, the Conservatives no longer care. Like the Gadarene swine, they are herding themselves over the cliff-edge into the slough of greed as they see the whole system unravelling, desperate to stuff their gross, wobbling faces with more undeserved entitlements, to get their children into the best schools, before the gravy train hits the buffers.

This is the government that has deliberately presided over our broken health and social services, cynically gaming the system so that voters will be dumb enough to welcome the arrival of rapacious US health insurers and ripoff pharmaceutical companies, putting an end to the greatest positive social experiment possibly in world history: a universal, fully funded health service, free at the point of delivery. No longer.

Conservatives do not give a monkey’s uncle whether you live or die: death is just the market operating at its most efficient.

The government that, between elections, has cynically encouraged and financed a public campaign of destabilization of the opposition parties in Parliament, an attack on our democratic system, using the hidden donations of US conservative billionaires; and encouraged the demonization of Labour leader, Corbyn, through social media disinformation and complaisant press influence, the rabid attack dogs of the tabloids. Despite, or more probably because of, this government’s historically unprecedented voting minority in the House of Commons.

How are they still there?

This is the neofascist government that fired 21 of its own MPs for being too moderate. You think they will have any compassion for you? For your kids, your ageing parents – your country?

The government that corruptly “elected” a leader, imposed on the nation by a tiny minority as our blundering, bullying and incompetent, patrician Prime Minister, a cynical, prevaricating former “Remainer” who – also a serial adulterer who boasts that he doesn’t know how many children he has fathered – is under investigation for showing financial favors to his American “totty” while in office as Mayor of London.

And now he has yet another girlfriend waiting for him upstairs in the flat at Number 10, Downing Street – a woman 22 years his junior, against whom he was widely reported by previous neighbours last summer as committing domestic violence.

Nice man. Perfect Prime Ministerial material for our relentlessly superficial, talentless  celebrity-admiring, alternative truth-telling times.

Judged by its latest manifesto, Johnson’s is a grubby regime that has no interest whatsoever in responsible governance; only in superficial nostrums. Mr Johnson, indeed, is advised by a man generally reckoned to have psychopathic tendencies; the “Boris whisperer” – an unelected Iago to his albino Moor.

Our government is currently sitting on potentially damaging reports it refuses to allow into the public domain until, it says, after the election; reports on the health risks of fracking, on the illegal funding of the Brexit Leave campaign, on the flood of Russian money into the Conservative party – on the secret discussions with US corporate lobbyists about terms allowing them to control British institutions in the wake of our departure from the EU, in favor of oppressive trade rules that will effectively see the United Kingdom deregulated, broken up and sold off.

As the BogPo has frequently alluded to, investigators are turning up more and more evidence of US corporate and private investors’ money pouring into the coffers of phony “research” institutes behind the private cabal that has seized power within the Conservative party, the ERG. What is their aim?

Principally, the deregulation of markets, the loosening of labor laws and consumer protections, the imposition of a white, Christian hegemony, and the breakup of the EU, perceived as a barrier to their offshore tax avoidance schemes. Certainly, not the nation’s welfare – yours and mine.

A new report can be found at: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/29/wealthy-us-donors-gave-millions-to-rightwing-uk-groups

Yet the latest YouGov poll gives these advocates for gangster capitalism, a comfortable lead in the election only a fortnight away.

In God’s name, why? Five more years of this shitshow? Seriously?

The BogPo can only conclude that the majority of British voters are distracted, brainwashed baboons, numbly phoning in their meaningless votes for Z-list celebrity hoofers, who imagine fondly that the Conservatives will throw out all the foreigners and “Get Brexit Done!” as their dishonest slogan boasts. Shoppers, who find Boris Johnson more entertaining than his dour Leveller opponent. A serial adulterer, a habitual liar, a bully – a casual fantasist under investigation for public corruption in office, nevertheless he is more electable, apparently, in this age of “Reality” TV shows, phone-ins and Twitter memes than an honest if conflicted man.

Which is the biggest lie of all, that like the appalling Farage, “Good old Boris” is one of us? He’s not, he’s another opportunistic, overentitled, sexually incontinent One-Person Tory from a background of privilege and larky, upper-middle-class self-deceit, whose election was fixed and funded by foreign interests who do not have our sovereignty, our best interests, at heart.

Five more years. Seriously?

Have we gone insane? Perhaps we’ve reached peak CO2.

 

In a tweet claiming falsely that US troops had “secured the oil” and were “coming home” from Syria, Trump praised his Defense Secretary (acting), “Mark Esperanto”. The Defense Secretary’s name is Mark Esper.

We’re assuming it was just his little joke.

 

GW: It’s waterworld

Mexico: “Heavy rain has affected parts of northern Mexico over the last few days, with severe flooding reported in the states of Sinaloa and Chihuahua. Sonora and Baja California states were also affected.” Local states of emergency have been declared and at least 1 person has died as over 140 mm of rain fell in 24 hrs. (Floodlist)

Brazil: “More than a month’s worth of rain fell in just 3 hours in the city of Salvador, capital of Bahia State, on 26 Nov.” Some neighbourhoods “recorded more than 250mm”. Flooding and landslides were reported across the city. Several hundred were evacuated and properties damaged, but “No casualties were reported.” (Floodlist)

Malaysia: “Flooding in eastern Malaysia has displaced over 2,000 people, according to disaster agencies.” Rivers rose to danger levels after 400 mm of rain fell in 24 hrs. (Floodlist)

Philippines: “Rapidly intensifying Typhoon Kammuri rolled into the central Philippines on Monday night after vaulting to Category 4 strength. Winds were estimated at 130 mph. This sprawling typhoon, moving westward at about 10 mph, was on track to move across parts of southern Luzon island through Tuesday, bringing torrential rains, destructive winds, and the risk of floods and mudslides.” (edited from Wunderground)

Uganda: Landslides in the west of the country after heavy rains “have affected around 4,000 people and destroyed almost 350 homes.” Meanwhile, in Kenya, the Red Cross reports over 120 people have died and more than 160 thousand affected by floods since October’s rains. Dozens apparently lost their lives in a landslide on 23 November. (Floodlist)

DR Congo: As if the raging ebola and measles epidemics that have killed thousands aren’t enough, Floodlist reports, the capital, “Kinshasa is dealing with devastating flash floods and landslides which have left over 40 people dead. Northern provinces are experiencing some of the worst flooding for 25 years. Flooding began back in October after heavy rains caused the Ubangi and Congo rivers and tributaries to overflow.”

Madagascar: An extremely rare event in the Indian Ocean has seen two near-identical tropical cyclones forming, one either side of the equator. They’re rotating in opposite directions and expected to intensify over 30 deg. C waters to hurricane strength, with the southerly system heading towards Madagascar.

USA: New York city and surrounding Eastern states had their first snowfall at the weekend, around 20 inches falling on Albany, NY and an inch in Central Park. Maine is anticipating another 6 inches (Tuesday, 3 Dec.) Travel conditions in places are “impossible”.  (Wunderground)

As 55 million Americans took to the roads on Thanksgiving Saturday, “Blizzard conditions stopped traffic near Rapid City, South Dakota (30 Nov).” 3 people, including 2 children, died in road acccidents. Winter storm Ezekiel underwent extreme bombogenesis over the midwest on 28 Nov. Meanwhile, back in California, 49 inches of snow was falling on Cedar Grove as a second storm front moved in. (Wunderground)

Arctic: While here on the west coast of the UK we’ve had a welcome run of five cold but sunny days after weeks of warm but tiresome rain, up in the far North Atlantic covering Newfoundland, Greenland and Iceland, the same period (30 Nov to 3 Dec) has been marked by a plus-15 deg. C cyclonic temperature anomaly. (Severe-weather.eu)

Tunnel approaching…

No more doubt: “A recent study found that the consensus among research scientists on anthropogenic global warming has grown to 100%, based on a review of 11,602 peer-reviewed articles on “climate change” and “global warming” published in the first 7 months of 2019.” (Arctic News, 27 Nov.)

Hotting up: The World Meteorological Organization hasn’t quite wrapped up its calculations for the decade but says it’s well on course to be the warmest in the 120-year history of detailed records, with 2019 another Top 5 year, despite the non-appearance of an anticipated El Niño event. More than 400 heat records were broken around the globe.

Sent to Siberia: Andrey Kiselyov, a leading researcher, reports that the air temperature in Taymyr, to the north of Krasnoyarsk, has increased by 1.2 deg. C over the past decade, above average not only for Russia but for the planet. It’s one reason the Northern Siberian reindeer is reported to be on the verge of extinction, after a rapid population collapse. (Siberian Times) Meanwhile, it’s been noted that Siberia’s birch trees are “climbing mountains” at the rate of half a meter a year, as warming pushes their habitable zone to ever higher altitude.

 

 

 

A Pumpkin of great dimension emerges! “I wanted nothing!”… The Madness of King Donald… In passing, back to Sondland… Julian Assange and The Curse of the White House… Russiagate – a timeline… Is this a dagger I see before me?… GW, etc.)

Light fantastic

Just a brief note from your old Uncle: I am now able to do this much, in short bursts and in very large print! And, by God, there’s a lot to do…. My eye specialist is hopeful of further recovery, although I have to say, everything looks rather odd still, there are no straight lines, it’s always foggy, I can’t stop crying and I require a further operation in January.

Happy days!

 

Quote of the Week:

“Look, Rudy Giuliani is up to his neck in crime.”

Mimi Rocah, former assistant DA for the SDNY, guesting on MSNBC.

 

“I WANTED NOTHING! I WANTED NOTHING!”

“This is the last word of the President of the United States of America!”

Thus Mr Trump on the White House lawn, 21 November, bellowing over the racket of his helicopter, that never sleeps (or flies in the rain) at a small knot of cowed hacks, like a furious baby reading from a page of enormous but very simple notes written with his favorite black magic marker, protesting that his “perfect” phone call showed he never asked for anything from Ukraine in return for US military aid and a prestige meeting for President Zelinskiy at the White House; in fact he specifically asked NOT to be given anything….

“I wanted nothing, I wanted nothing” – wailed the note, in all-caps. “No quid pro quo. Tell Zellinsky (sic) to do the right thing (being what? Ed.). This is the last word from the Pres of the US.”

The problem being, the call in which he now protests he said he wanted nothing (and that is his last word! We can but hope) and specified no quid, etc. was only the latest in a long series of calls to Kyiv and Moscow in which he definitely DID want something, and was made on the day AFTER the Inspector General of Intelligence Services had gone to the Department of Justice to warn them that a whistleblower had come to him with a report that the president had possibly committed an impeachable offence involving a breach of national security.

In other words, the president’s alibi is located in time on 9 September, only AFTER he had been caught out committing the impeachable offence, originally in a 25 July phone call to Zelinskiy which was witnessed by innumerable officials listening in; and whose transcripts were hurriedly locked away by lawyers in a Top Secret Intel server, to be replaced by a redacted call summary Mr Trump insists is the complete and actual version of his “perfect call” to his fellow TV show performer, although it really isn’t.

(He has even distributed thousands of free T-shirts urging supporters to “Read the Transcript!” which, of course, they can’t as it has yet to be released.)

And I thought they have all these wonderful detectives in America, who would immediately have pounced on this significant discrepancy. Sadly, few even in the media noticed the flaw in Trump’s timeline.

Another instance of obstruction of justice, then, a manufactured alibi to add to the witness intimidation with which he has responded via Twitter to the House of Representatives’ official inquiry into his actions, is going to go unpunished. How the hell does he do that, every time?

Some of those officials have had the guts to come forward and testify under oath that, listening to both ends of the calls, it was clear that Trump wanted Zelinskiy to announce a corruption investigation into former Vice-President Joe Biden and his feckless son, otherwise he would (illegally) not release $391 million in military aid already approved by Congress, to support Ukraine in resisting the Russian incursion into the Donbass region.

How convenient was that for Mr Putin!

There is apparently a statute covering that too, which Trump also broke. It says that once aid has been approved by Congress for delivery to a certified recipient, it is not in the president’s power to hold it up for six months, not even as a “quid pro quo” for helping to rig his re-election. Various people seem to have been asleep on the job, as it wasn’t realized the aid promised in April had been held up until early in September – and then no-one but the president and his henchmen knew why.

And in fact Trump has already publicly admitted doing it; as has Mr Mulvaney, his embattled Chief of Staff; as have certain of those despatched to Ukraine in support of Mr Trump’s agenda, such as Energy Secretary Perry and, most importantly, EU ambassador Gordon Sondland, a hapless placeman and Trump pawn who has testified that yes, there was indeed a “quid pro quo” involved, a fact which he had initially denied under oath.

Furthermore, compelling witness testimony from expert diplomatic and intelligence officials involved with the Ukraine theater has also asserted that Mr Trump seemed to be running a shadow foreign policy operation independently of the State Department to “get this done”, as he told Sondland – a hotels magnate whom he now claims he barely knew, although he did pay Trump a million dollars for the EU posting – for domestic political purposes, both to discredit his main campaign rival and to force the Ukrainian government to admit – risibly – that they, and not Russia, were responsible for hacking the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee in 2016. (See STOP PRESS below); and that a mythical “missing server” (that’s about Trump’s level of technological awareness) is hiding in Ukraine somewhere, brimful of evidence to incriminate Hillary Clinton. Possibly he genuinely believes it.

Russian interference has always been a sore point with Trump, as in his diseased mind it delegitimizes his election; which is why he was so keen to bury the Mueller investigation, that uncovered reams of evidence showing “collusion” between Trump’s election campaign and Moscow. Such irrelevant, petty obsessions haunt him, day and night, so that he cannot move on.

Rudy, my dear

In charge of the Ukraine operation, which began with a campaign on Inauguration Day, 20 January 2017, to remove a possibly obstructive US diplomat in Kyiv, Ambassador Maria Yovanovych, was Mr Trump’s “personal lawyer”, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an elderly serial divorcé with no formal government position or authority; nor, seemingly, mental capacity.

Mr Giuliani appears to have been operating in Ukraine using two native agents allegedly with US mafia associations, Lev Parnas and Igor Frumin. Both men are now under indictment and awaiting trial for money laundering, over $320 thousand having made its way into Trump’s re-election campaign funds via a false-front energy company they had set up with Giuliani in Florida. (It’s about the energy, stoopid!)

The strong suspicion is that the money – which was also used to pay Giuliani’s fees, since Trump is apparently not paying him (is he hiding income from his latest ex-wife, they ask?) – came from a sanctioned Ukrainian oligarch, Dmitry (or Dmytro) Firtash, who is on an FBI most wanted list describing him as a senior figure in the Russian mafia.

Mr Firtash, whose enormous wealth is derived from a contract granted to him by Mr Putin to act as the middleman in the matter of all Ukraine’s Russian gas supply contracts, is currently fighting extradition to the USA from Austria, a country to which Parnas and Frumin were found on arrest to be holding one-way plane tickets; while enquiries revealed, Mr Giuliani had also acquired a plane ticket to Vienna.

(Later evidence has emerged that the aim of their visit may have been to hold further discussions with the disgraced former Ukrainian government prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who also lives in Vienna, and whom fanatical Trump-enabling Congressman Devin Nunes refuses to say whether or not he also met last year on a trip to Europe arranged by Parnas, to discuss smearing the Bidens… now read on, if you can!)

And, according to reports, advising Mr Giuliani on his Ukraine excursions from his Federal prison cell, to which he is said to have made several visits, was none other than Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman – another person Trump has claimed he barely knew, but an expert nevertheless on Ukrainian politics.

Manafort, who had/has extensive contacts for decades with Russian and Ukrainian “oligarchs”, some said by the FBI to be high-level organized crime figures, is serving seven years for a range of electoral and financial offences, one of the principal pieces of evidence against him being a “little black book” detailing $millions in undeclared payments from former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych, a kleptocrat and Putin ally who was forced out in the 2014 Maidan Square “velvet revolution”, whose own election success had depended on a dirty tricks operation alleging corruption against his rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, masterminded by his PR advisors, Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates – now himself on trial and awaiting sentence.

(I am indebted as always for much of the above to Ms Rachel Maddow, doyenne of dot-joiners and host of her own MSNBC primetime evening show; and to my phenomenal memory for her and others’ bygone broadcasts…. – UB)

It seems then that one more aim of Giuliani’s efforts in the Ukraine had been to get Yanukovych’s successor, Petro Poroshenko, to somehow declare the notebook a forgery, and thus provide grounds for a Manafort appeal. When Poroshenko lost his presidency this year to the former TV sitcom star, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in April Giuliani and Trump turned their attentions to pressuring the tyro politician elected on an anti-corruption ticket into taking actions in support of their rackety agenda, which he has thus far refused to do.

Those efforts included sending the low-wattage Texan Energy Secretary, Rick Perry to Zelenskiy’s inauguration as the senior US representative, a calculated insult.*** While there, he allegedly spent the time attempting to do a private deal over liquefied natural gas imports from the US. But also implicated in the effort to extort concessions – described by National Security advisor John Bolton, who wanted no part of it, as “the drug deal” – were Secretary of State Pompeo, Attorney-General Barr and Vice-President Pence.

Really, given that I have not yet started on Giuliani’s attempts via Parnas and Frumin to get a Trump shill onto the board of the Ukrainian national gas company, Naftogaz, the murkiness of this entire story is just astounding. But possibly not as astounding as the attempts by the Republican caucuses in both houses of Congress to derail and defeat the impeachment process against Trump.

What on earth do they think they are doing, continuing to ally themselves with this profoundly, blatantly corrupt individual – who, if the chips were down, would surely show them no loyalty whatsoever?*

Having exhausted just about every crass and infantile objection to the lawful investigations and legal processes, having attempted to smear, threaten and discredit the witnesses – Trump having forbidden any White House staff from testifying at all, even under legal subpoena – as well as decrying the official enquiry chairman, the well-thought-of Congressman Schiff, as a “traitor” – having threatened to punish the whistleblower, as if that person’s supposedly protected standing has any bearing on the impeachable crime of bribery that Trump has already admitted to – after endless attempts to muddy the waters with reckless and bizarre diversionary excuses for Trump’s proven misconduct – such as that he was hoping to stamp out corruption in Ukraine, Europe’s second-most corrupt country* – the party line is now one of sullen defiance:

He did it, so what?

Without a 2/3rds majority in the Senate, which the Democrats do not command, Trump cannot be impeached; impeachment itself as we saw with Bill Clinton need not anyway result in removal from office. And polls formerly in favor of impeachment are starting to show that as witness after witness continues to uphold their oath of office, honorably and credibly laying out the damning events as they experienced them, the public is already bored and restless to move on.

Too much information! Too many facts. Not enough pzazz!

Despite the mountain of totally believable testimony against him, the evidence of the “top secret” transcripts of his calls and the profoundly disturbing implications of his association, direct or indirect, with indicted criminal elements (whom, guess what, despite plentiful photographic evidence, he claims not to know); despite the trails of dirty money and the 480 pages of indisputably damning evidence in the Mueller report, despite all the evidence against him that came out last year in the Manafort and Cohen trials, the conviction last week of his friend, Roger Stone on seven counts of – I don’t know, shitty things that show Trump lied to the FBI – despite admissions that he has been giving certain congressmen money and assurances of preferment, and despite their poor showing in recent special elections, it is totally unlikely that a single Republican congressman in either house will dare to vote for his impeachment.

He keeps all their little furry balls in a row of labelled jars on a hard-to-reach shelf in the closet.

While his principal enablers like the smarmy and duplicitous Senator Graham – currently transitioning into an elderly woman – and the pudgy, hangdog Attorney-General William Barr, another corrupted Trump placeman regretting he ever met the guy, Nunes also, are all busily announcing their own menacing, Nazi-style hit squad “investigations” into his accusers, whom Trump has accused of “treason”.

If these bungling incompetents, Don Trumpo’s Army, can get him off the serious charges of Federal offences that he has without any doubt committed in plain sight, do not doubt they can get him re-elected next year.

Welcome to the mafia state.**

*Transparency International places Ukraine (120th) far below the USA (22nd) on its most corrupt index, better only in Europe than the Catholic Church in Rome! Yet corruption in the USA is vast, and rampantly on show, even in the Senate. It depends on your definition. Is stealing people’s votes to get your own man into office corruption? Is accepting vast donations to your Political Action Committee corruption? What if you then show extraordinary favors to your donors? Is selling access to the President corruption? How about obliging staff and visiting dignitaries to stay in your own hotels?

In any case, Herculean efforts have been made in Ukraine to divert energy profits away from people like Firtash and back to the state. See: www/nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/ukraine-one-world’s-most-corrupt-countries-49712

**A new podcast from the reliable independent journalist, Thom Hartman, and his excitable collaborator, JFK conspiracy author Lamar Waldron, details a chain of events involving the mafia, from 1960 Cuba, the Bay of Pigs invasion and the crazed plots with the CIA to rub out Fidel Castro, via the assassination of the anti-mafia crusading JFK (the “One bullet, seven wounds” theory), through Watergate (Nixon was politically funded by the mob in LA, some of whose members took part in the burglary) to the present day White House, where Trump is continuing to defy a Congressional deadline to release “millions” of pages of unseen CIA files from the JFK investigations, potentially detailing mafia infiltration of the government, that were due for publication in 2017.

Make of that what you will.

***Mr Perry is on video record as declaring Mr Trump to be an emissary of God, sent to redeem America. I’m increasingly convinced higher levels of carbon dioxide are not doing the human brain any good.

 

STOP PRESS Papers released overnight, 22/23 November, by the State Department under a court order obtained by non-partisan ethics watchdog, American Oversight are showing an actual paper trail connecting Giuliani and (now) Secretary of State Pompeo with the 2017 plot to unseat US Ambassador to the Ukraine, Maria Yovanovych as a prelude to the campaign to force Ukraine to absolve the Russians of involvement in the 2016 election and smear the Bidens.

The trail apparently stops at the Oval Office with signatures from Trump’s personal secretary. (Reporting: MSNBC) Many more files are expected to be released shortly. American Oversight has apparently been able to exploit a legal loophole to obtain the papers under FOI, that the White House lawyers had failed to close in their campaign of obstruction. The State Department had hitherto been successfully defying a Congressional subpoena to release the evidence, but it seems they’ve been caught on the hop by a citizens’ pressure group.

Watch that space!

 

The Madness of King Donald…

Asked by reporters on a visit to an Apple plant in Texas what he had thought of the testimony that morning of EU Ambassador Sondland, his pointman on the Ukraine extortion operation, Trump said it was great as Sondland had clearly testified there was NO “quid pro quo”.

Er…

Chairman Schiff: “Was there a quid quo pro?”

Sondland: “The answer is, yes.”

Trump later tweeted that he had today “opened a major Apple manufacturing plant in Texas.”

The plant has been operating since 2013. (TYT: Ring of Fire)

And the idiocy of Devin Nunes

When CNN and the Daily Beast claimed Nunes had made a trip to Europe and met with the corrupt former prosecutor of Ukraine to discuss digging dirt on the Bidens, he threatened to sue.

Not long afterwards his Congressional expenses were due for publication and indeed showed, he had made a trip to Europe – including Vienna, where the prosecutor, Shokin, now lives.

The betting now is, Trump will claim Giuliani and Nunes concocted the whole Ukraine thing without his knowledge, and they will follow Cohen and Manafort to gaol.

Everything Trump touches, pleads guilty.

 

Welcome to the mafia state #2

A report on TYT this evening quotes the Daily Beast as placing Devin Nunes and three of his aides in Europe over four days at the end of November, 2018, at a cost to the US taxpayer of $64 thousand. The trip was apparently arranged by… Giuliani sidekick, Lev Parnas – who has been linked both with the President and with mafia-run shakedown operations, one of which may have ended in murder.

Nunes’ usual shifty expression makes Prince Andrew look like St Theresa of Avilar at the best of times, and often overbalances into the desperate stare of a man ensnared in a criminal enterprise, where he has just seen his accomplices mow down three policemen on a raid where nothing bad was supposed to happen.

Republican representative for the decidedly rural 22nd District of California, Nunes is a driven character who is even now still trying to sue anyone who reposted a 2018 Twitter meme joking that his mother was a Jersey cow. It runs into the tens of thousands. He is now labeled for all time as the man who tried to sue a cow.

And, for whatever reason, the former dairy farmer and ex-chair of the House Intelligence Committee, famous for shutting down his own inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election when the evidence suggested it really happened, and for a clandestine trip to brief the White House on matters germane to the enquiry (but entirely concocted) that the White House had, unknown to him, briefed to him in the first place, is another Trump lickspittle, who has been contributing his own bizarre brand of cuckoo to the impeachment inquiry, where he has attacked the witnesses for being part of a conspiracy, obsessed with promoting facts.

Why was he in Europe, wherever that is? (I vaguely recall he was turned away at the door by MI6 in London – another item of old news the US media seems to have forgotten). Well, apparently he went at the behest of Giuliani’s mafia associate Lev Parnas, now on trial for laundering Ukrainian money into Trump’s Political Action Committee (PAC), to “do an investigation” into the Mueller investigation; to see what they had turned up, and whether Russia might be proven innocent of interfering in the 2016 elections. What power did Parnas have to make him go?

Does this now proven association place Nunes in an impossible bind, a conflict of interest where he is an alleged co-conspirator in a crime directed by the President, but also the Republicans’ Ranking Member in the impeachment hearings, in effect investigating himself? And what was he doing, visiting Vienna? Surely not partying with Giuliani, Parnas, Frumin and exiled Ukrainian oligarch, Dmytro Firtash, who seems to have been financing the whole show?

Following his arrest, Parnas hired lawyers who previously worked for Paul Manafort, the convicted Trump aide accused of spying on the election campaign for Russian oligarch, Putin crony and suspected mafia boss, the “aluminum king”, Oleg Deripaska, a business associate of Firtash – and was trying to claim that his relationship with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave him cover under Trump’s “executive privilege”.

Further speculation was aroused when Firtash recently appointed to his legal team, Victoria Toensing and Joseph DeGenova, controversial husband-and-wife Fox News panel hacks, a couple of seemingly deadbeat lawyers with lengthy histories of representing pretty filthy people, peripheral to one or other of Trump’s many efforts to obstruct the Mueller enquiry. (Trump eventually rejected the couple as being too badly dressed.) Who suggested them to Firtash?

Trump has of course denied any association with Parnas, who in retaliation has changed his lawyers and is now said to be spilling his guts to a war-weary FBI. How many more of these people can Trump claim he “hardly knew, if at all”? Photographs have been widely published, showing Trump enjoying hospitality with Parnas, his cohort Frumin and Rudy Giuliani, giving his usual goofy thumbs-up sign, arms fraternally around shoulders, no doubt picking one anothers’ pockets.

But of course, he can’t know everyone.

 

In passing, back to Sondland

Why has no-one picked up on Trump’s bald assertion that he “barely knew, hardly ever met” the man?

This is someone, a guy with a chain of hotels, who gave, in supposedly unremarkable dribs and drabs, more than $1 million to the “Inauguration Fund” – Trump’s personal slush fund – because he was a fervent Trump supporter.

Trump now lies menacingly that the hapless Sondland “voted for many other people, but that’s okay”. How does he know how Sondland voted, if he doesn’t know him? It was a threat, in the best gangsta fashion.

In return, Trump appointed him as ambassador to the EU – a trading bloc of 28 nations with a gross GDP of USD $19 trillion, covering a market of almost 500 million people – a third again the size of the United States.

It’s implicit in the almighty Constitution that the President should have at least some fiduciary responsibility to the American people. It’s unimaginable that he should admit to making globally important appointments on no other basis than that somebody told him so-and-so was a good guy.

Sondland seems like an amiable character, not too stupid to understand when he’s in deep trouble, but he has no qualifications whatsoever in politics, diplomacy or trade matters. To appoint such a man to such an important and choice posting is, frankly, evidence that Trump does not give a flying fuck for sound governance.

It ought to be, if it is not already, yet another impeachable offence, since the appointment was so clearly corrupt, being based purely on a financial consideration. A defense of ignorance hardly improves the situation. Presidents are not supposed to be total dumbfucks.

 

Julian Assange and The Curse of the White House

Trump has forced the resignation, or fired, his Navy Secretary, Richard Spencer, who now becomes the nine hundred and ninety-ninth victim of the Curse of the White House, or thereabouts, given how many of his appointed officials Childe Donald has decided he doesn’t like after all, waaah!, off with their heads.

The reason is complicated but boils down to this: that Trump has further aggravated his already desperate relations with the armed forces he affects to love so much, by interfering in a disciplinary matter involving the demotion and dismissal of a Navy SEAL accused of murdering an ISIS prisoner in cold blood.

Three weeks ago, Trump was ordered by a New York court to repay $2 million to his tax-exempt charity foundation for misusing funds for his own personal expenses, and to cease from any further charitable activities. Among the funds he misused was an even larger sum, $2.8 million, that had been raised to support military veterans, who never saw a penny of the money.

So the Commander-in-Chief is not in great odor with the military, especially after he fired the highly-regarded Defense Secretary, Gen. Mattis, for disagreeing with his policy on pretending to withdraw troops from Syria, letting in the Turks, while sending more to Saudi Barbaria and redeploying the boys from Syria he said were coming home, to “take the oil” – or, as he delicately puts it, to “protect” the Syrian oilfields against the ISIS insurgents he boasted he had personally defeated, naturally in record time for any president.

The SEAL in question, CPO Edward Gallagher, allegedly stabbed a wounded ISIS prisoner to death with a commando knife, for no obvious reason. Although he was found innocent of doing that, which many witnesses saw him do, Mr Gallagher then took and posted a selfie with the man’s head, which resulted in his conviction in a military court. His colleagues testified that they were not comfortable serving with him, as he exhibited psychotic behavior and they had had to protect civilians against him. He was further acquitted of murdering civilians he had apparently not murdered.

Nevertheless, amid all this leniency, Trump tweeted that he was a hero and should be reinstated, with his little honorary souvenir tripod, or whatever, and when Gallagher’s commander said he did not consider a tweet to be an official military order, Secretary Spencer defended him and was fired for his pains. Something like that.

As you can see, the president’s policies are not exactly coherent.

Which is why your Pumpkin finds it so odd. Because if – among other military men he has forced senior officers to pardon of disciplinary offences, arguing that US troops should be allowed to commit war crimes or they can’t do their job properly – if he has intervened in the case of Edward Gallagher, why would he persist in attempting to extradite Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange to receive rough justice in America?

It makes no sense. Assange was instrumental in getting Trump elected. And he hasn’t murdered anybody. We know, now Trump’s henchman, the dirty trickster Roger Stone has been convicted, in part for lying about his connections to the Australian “tech entrepreneur” (© Jennifer Arcuri, 2015-19), who helpfully published the Clinton and Podesta emails hacked from the Democrats, that Trump had publicly asked the Russians to do it. (“Russia, if you’re listening…”, etc.)

Confusingly, Trump now continues to defend the conspiracy theory promulgated by the GDU through Paul Manafort’s associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, that it was not the Russians, but Ukraine that hacked the emails.

Assange is considered to be so ill, both physically and mentally, that 60 doctors from half-a-dozen countries have wrtten to the British authorities demanding his transfer to hospital from the top security Belmarsh gaol, Britain’s Guantanamo, home of many untried and unconvicted terror suspects undergoing re-education and others held under illegal “indefinite detention” orders. They fear otherwise he may die.

Yet the US Justice Department persists in its efforts to drag him to court across the Atlantic, where under their cumbersome, inept and often lunatic eighteenth-century “justice” system crossed with a made-for-TV show, he can expect up to 170 years in gaol for crimes against security, committed in 2010.

Is there no statute of limitations on cybercrime?

So it’s possible Trump would rather Assange was being held in custody, incommunicado, as Assange presumably knows where he got the emails from, and it wasn’t Ukraine. He thus becomes yet another disposable victim of the Curse of the White House, and would really do well to tell the British authorities everything he knows.

Except that they, too, are sitting on a report of Russian interference in elections.

 

Russiagate – a timeline

  • 09 November, 2013, desperately seeking a deal to build “Trump Tower, Moscow”, Trump is in town as the guest of Azerbaijani property magnate, Aras Agalerov, with his “Miss Universe” pageant. The visit has been arranged by Trump “Senior Business Advisor”, Felix Sater – a sometime lieutenant of feared Russian crime boss, Semyon Mogilevitch. Excitedly claims “All the oligarchs were there!” Putin pointedly stays away.
  • 09 June, 2016, Trump Jr, Kushner and Manafort meet Kremlin lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya and two ex-GRU men with spent convictions for money-laundering at Trump Tower, New York to discuss “adoption” issues in the wake of the Magnitsky affair.
  • 27 July, 2016, at a rally in Florida, Trump calls expressly on Russia to release 30 thousand missing Clinton emails he has never mentioned before. Hacking of the DRC begins. Efforts will later be made to deny the 9 June meeting took place, then to coverup what its real purpose was. Aboard Airforce 1, Comms director, Hope Hicks helps Trump concoct a misleading account.
  • 17 October, 2016 embarrassing 2005 Access Hollywood tape emerges of Trump boasting of grabbing women by the “pussy” and one hour later the first tranche of emails is released by Wikileaks, diverting the news agenda. FBI now monitoring calls by Carter Page and other Trump campaign officials with known Russian intelligence agents, under FISA warrants. A Special Counsel, Robert Mueller is soon appointed.
  • 10 January, 2017, Buzzfeed releases leaked version of the Steele “dossier” compiling third-party accounts from Kremlin sources of Russian “kompromat” on Trump and claiming there was a Kremlin campaign to help Trump get elected.
  • 20 January, 2017, Inauguration Day, calls begin between former New York Mayor Giuliani and ex-CIA head and eventually to be Secretary of State Pompeo about removing the US ambassador in Kyiv, Maria Yovanovych.
  • 9 May, 2017, Trump fires FBI Director, James Comey, ostensibly on a letter from deputy Attorney-General Rosenstein alleging misconduct in the investigation of Hillary Clinton. Later, Trump will tell ABC TV it was in reality to make the Russia investigation go away. He goes on to fire or force out many other FBI officers including Peter Strjok, the lead investigator into Russian “sleeper cells” in the US.
  • 10 May, 2017 Trump meets privately with Russian ambassador Kislyak and foreign minister Lavrov in the Oval Office after ordering his own officials to leave the room, and tells them there is now no problem with the investigation into Russian interference in the election.
  • 16 July, 2018, after privately meeting with no officials present, Trump defends Putin in press conference at bilateral summit in Helsinki, openly contradicting his own intelligence services’ reports of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  • November midterms, 2018, Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives, but not the Senate.
  • 12 December, 2018, Trump lieutenant, lawyer and “fixer”, Michael Cohen is sentenced to 3 years in gaol, principally for lying to the FBI about his meetings in Moscow, ostensibly pursuing the Trump Tower project; on tax charges, and for campaign finance violations, operating Trump’s access slush fund to buy off inconvenient mistresses ahead of the election. Trump is named in court as “unindicted co-conspirator”.
  • March, 2019, Mueller report confirms over 150 instances of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. New Attorney-General, William Barr delays sending report to Congress while issuing a misleading summary claiming the report exonerates the President of “collusion” with Russia.
  • 13 June, 2019, in an ABC TV interview, Trump boasts he might not alert the FBI to approaches with “dirt” on his opponents from foreign governments if it helps him win the 2020 race. Trump’s “I meet with foreign governments all the time” echoes Donald Jr’s previous boasts: “We’re in and out of Russia all the time” and “We get all the money we need from Russia”.
  • 25 July, 2019, Trump is illegally holding up military aid to Kyiv as Russian troops continue to support uprising by secessionists in eastern Ukraine. Horrified officials testify that Trump has demanded a “quid pro quo” from President Zelinskiy, explaining he wants him to “do me a favor, though…”. , to pressure Zelinskiy into announcing a corruption investigation into his possible main rival for the 2020 election, former Vice-President Joe Biden; as well as falsifying evidence to exonerate Russia of interfering in the 2016 election.
  • October, 2019, facing impeachment hearings for a foreign bribery offence, Trump begins repeating old allegations first aired in 2017 by Alex Jones of InfoWars that Ukraine, not Russia, stole the emails; subsequently taken up as Republican “talking point”. He demands the return of a non-existent “server” containing Clinton emails he claims has been taken to Ukraine.
  • 20 November 2019, former State Department lead and world expert on Russia, Dr Fiona Hill, pleads with Republicans in Congress to stop lying about Ukraine’s involvement in election meddling as the evidence that it was and is still Russia is irrefutable. The source of the Ukraine theory is identified as Manafort associate and Deripaska lieutenant, GRU agent Konstantin Kilimnik.
  • Terrified and demented, Republican congressmen take no notice. As is the President, they are all now essentially working for Putin.

If Trump is not impeached and removed, writes The Pumpkin, America will have fallen without a shot being fired.

 

Is this a dagger I see before me?

Donald Trump Junior has had a book written for him, whining piteously about all these dreadful Deep State media and opposition political attacks on his perfect father and the fragrant Trump family criminal organization.

“Triggered” (it’s a reference to a word used by the right to mock left-wingers and liberals who react badly to minor events like murderous neo-Nazi rallies in Charlottesville) has gone straight to number one in the influential New York Times bestseller list.

Woke journalists have noted that the short summary of the book in the Times‘ list is followed by a typographical symbol looking like a dagger, called an obelus. A request to the Times produced the information that the obelus denotes a book whose sales consist mostly or entirely in bulk orders.

It transpires that Mr Trump Jr bought 40 thousand copies of his own book to use as promotional giveaways, thus helping to ensure he captured the number one spot (TYT: The Damage Report).

He’s certainly a chip off the old block, is Jr.

Trump Senior has, naturally, tweeted his praise and admiration for his number one son’s brilliant literary prowess, although he a) supposedly hates the “failing”, “fake news” New York Times; b) has read only one book in his life, his own ghostwritten autobiography, probably not from cover to cover, and c) has no idea who Donald Trump Jr is, or why he has the same name, as they certainly look nothing like one another.

 

GW:

Sorry, there’s a whole month’s worth of terrible fires, extreme weather events, alarming statistics and doom-laden reports to catch up on… Latest are:

Europe: “7 people have died as violent storms swept through parts of France, Greece and Italy over the weekend, causing flash floods, landslides and the collapse of an overpass. Greek media described the storms as leaving a trail of “biblical destruction”. Flash floods in France’s Côte d’Azur claimed the lives of 4 people, while 2 others are believed to still be missing.” Another died when a rescue boat overturned. (BBC News)

Kenya: “At least 29 people have died in landslides caused by severe weather in West Pokot county. The landslides, affecting the villages of Nyarkulian and Parua, were reportedly caused by heavy rains.” (BBC)

Australia: Major cities Sydney and Adelaide are wreathed in choking smoke as wildfires continue to blaze out of control in three states, amid 40 deg-plus temperatures and 50 mph winds.

“Soaring temperatures in South Australia prompted “catastrophic” alerts – the highest danger rating – on Wednesday. Parts of Victoria have been issued the same warning for Thursday, while the threat in Tasmania is also increasing. 6 people have died since last month in massive bushfires which are burning elsewhere in the country.” (BBC)

USA: Over 6,000 “people were evacuated and about 2,400 structures threatened early Tuesday 26 Nov., when fire erupted in Los Padres national forest, California. Evacuations were ordered in the town of Goleta, north of Santa Barbara. The fire has grown to about 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares). Weather forecasts have predicted winds with gusts of 60 to 70 mph at times into Tuesday morning.” (Guardian)

Meanwhile a huge storm is rapidly undergoing cyclogenesis off the coast of California and another storm system in the east together with yet more heavy rain tracking up from the southwest  across Texas and the midwest are likely to dampen Thanksgiving celebrations, just as much as will the round-table arguments over Trump. (BBC)

Tunnel approaching….

Carbon discontent: “Three-quarters of the emissions cuts pledged by countries under the Paris agreement of 2015 are “totally inadequate”, according to a comprehensive analysis …, putting the world on a path to climate disaster. Another report has found that nations are on track to produce more than double the fossil fuels in 2030 than could be burned while keeping heating under 1.5C.” (Guardian, reporting another record rise in CO2 in 2019. Actually under-reporting, in your Old Gran’s view, as the “Environment Editor” fails to mention the “carbon equivalent” of all the GHGs put together is now around double the 1750 level; and also in attributing causes to methane emissions, fails to mention the thawing sub-Arctic permafrost.)

Jina: A radiation spike detected in the hotly contested South China Sea by the Global Network for Environmental Monitoring (Siberian Times), has been variously dismissed by Russian authorities as posing no danger to local people; as being “under control”, and even as a “fake news” story emanating from a rightwing US blogger. Fox affiliate, TopNews is headlining an explosion aboard a Chinese submarine, citing local news sources, but without further confirmation.

Cambodia: Globetrotting Amazon motoring show presenter, famed “petrol head” and climate-change risibilist, Jeremy Clarkson has finally admitted the possible existence of a problem with the climate, after an attempt to film a journey down a river in Cambodia had to be abandoned owing to there being no water in it. (Times)

Italy: 89-year-old Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre, a “life Senator” who was sent to the Auschwitz death camp at 13, is under police protection after receiving death threats for calling on parliament to set up a committee to combat hate crime. (BBC)

Getting it done: The Conservatives are learning from Trump: lie big, lie often and lie first. As figures show almost 12 thousand EU staff have quit the NHS since the referendum, citing the uncertainty of Brexit, and the number of new nurses arriving from the EU annually has fallen by 87%, to well under 1,000, Mr Johnson is promising to magic up “50 thousand” more nurses by the end of 2024.

 

And a short hello

Dear Likers, Spammers etc.

Just a short Post to say we have vision, Jim, but not as we know it. The world looks as though it has been in a front-end collision and repaired by an incompetent apprentice panel-beater.

I can keep this up for 2-3 minutes before feeling I’ve been hit in the face with a cricket bat and start weeping copiously. I’m managing a few short posts but it may be a week or two before the BogPo returns in all its wordiness.

Thanks for patience, have a good election.

UB.

PS I’m sure it’s only coincidence that YouTube has just offered me a podcast by some 14-year-old “doctor” entitled “What is a cataract, and how to prevent them”.

Ooh, you can’t do that #1 and #2… a new BogPo wends its weary way to the surface. Do you want to see censorship at work?… GW: forming like a distant thundercloud

Quote of the minute….

“Saying no to Trump is like saying no to God, and I won’t do that.”

– American evangelical “Prosperity preacher” and “spiritual advisor to Donald Trump”, Paula White. (PS Paula, darling, those fake big eyebrows in black and dyed yellow hair with black roots isn’t a good look, although I can see you think Jesus thinks it is.)

TYT’s fragrant beauty and Audrey Hepburn lookalike, Ana Kasparian explains, “Prosperity preachers” are high-pressure callers who threaten poor people they will go to hell if they don’t give money. Welcome to the USA! (unless you’re a journalist. Anyone declaring they’re a journalist on entering the US now is grilled about their media content, and if the lowbrow Border guy decides you’re “fake news”, i.e. not a Trump supporter, they put you on the next plane out. I heard that somewhere.)

 

Leo Varadkar and Boris Johnson

“It’s not how long it is, Boris, it’s what you do with it that counts.”

(Your Uncle B. notices from the above photo, btw, that not only has Johnson’s neckwear reached Trumpian proportions and coloration, so have his tiny, pudgy, doll-like hands. Are they related, by any chance?)

 

Ooh, you can’t do that

Boris Johnson’s mother (yes, gentle Reader, he has one) has Parkinson’s. She has long campaigned with a charity for a return to days when the NHS had specialist nurses who would make home visits. No longer, thanks to the government’s austerity program and cuts to the service.

Charlotte Johnson had signed up to a joint letter to the Times from the charity committee, drawing attention to the plight of homebound sufferers. But, “following an intervention from Downing Street”, she has been forced to withdraw her name.

Her lovely fornicating cheat and liar son, Johnson has only gone and censored his own mother.

What, are you actually ASHAMED of something at last? You dirty pig. (And do be careful not to be photographed in profile, it makes you look foolish, greedy, weak and ingratiating. Let’s not give Nature too much help, eh?)

This stands in stark contrast to the performance of his father, the ebullient Stanley, who appeared at the Extinction Rebellion protests in London this week to give his support.

Boris, whose actual name is Alexander, or Al, he’s only Boris to the elderly Express-reading dumbfucks who love his tiresome shtick, and to brain-dead tabloid newspaper editors, criticized the protesters as “unco-operative crusties”, alluding to the Corbyn-like appearance of the many environmentally concerned, largely middle-class people blocking the streets.

Stanley the Magnificent got up and spoke. He told the assembled multitude, many of them superglued to the sidewalks and government buildings, daring police to arrest them, that he was delighted to be an unco-operative crusty.

The Guardian has been running all week with a campaign of in-depth investigations into “just what the hell is going on”, to quote the Orange One. More people are only now becoming dimly aware, and wondering what to do about the fact that Johnson’s improbable rise to power was fuelled in part with American money via the tobacco industry promoting, alt-right Christian, anti-abortion, pro-energy-bidness, anti-regulation, anti-tax, climate-change-denying lobby, (just name any fucking horrible cause you can imagine), Institute for Economic Affairs – the Tufton Street mob – which in turn sponsors the Tory party’s internal cabal, the European Research Group, led by that arrogant, languid Pre-Raphaelite throwback and Catholic recusant, Jacob Irish-Mogg.

Fourteen members of Johnson’s cabinet have apparently received money from that source. So it’s not a great surprise that he’s ordered his Big Red Bus conductress, Home Secretary Patel to get the police to bite down harder on the protestors this time. Over a thousand arrests have been made.

Al’s entire family have come to detest him, as any sensible human might. His younger brother Jo resigned from his government; his journalist sister Rachel has pointedly joined the Lib-Dems. Christmas at the Johnson’s should be interesting.

Clearly Charlotte, his mother, is the only one left at home who is sick enough to bully.

 

Ooh, you can’t do that #’2

A letter from the prime minister’s lawyers sent on Monday said that the London assembly’s oversight committee had “no right or remit to investigate” his relationship with busty, blonde “businesswoman” and former pole-dancer, Jennifer Arcuri, while he was in office as married* Mayor of London.

Ha ha! Nice try. How very Trumpian. Don’t provide an alibi or mitigating evidence, don’t bother proving innocence – just challenge the investigator’s right to investigate in the first place. Who are you to set yourselves above an important criminal we represent? Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!

Okay, I volunteer.

Image result for Images Arcuri

The committee asked Johnson, who was Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016, to explain why grants and expensive top-tier immigration rights and privileged access to overseas trade trips were awarded to Arcuri, a supposed technology entrepreneur, in fact a 27-year-old student, during his time as mayor. He refused to answer.

“The letter, which was leaked to HuffPost, said the oversight committee “is not and should not be in effect a standards body’” (Guardian)

Not only, but also… “Your application will be reviewed by an organisation that’s related to your qualifying field, called a ‘designated competent body’”. Like, the Royal Society! Or…. TechNation. (Where she got the deal.)

How would the London Assembly’s Oversight Committee not have the right to oversee allegations of abuse of public money by the Mayor? Is not the name a clue to the duty?

View image on Twitter

What, would they “oversee” the standards of the Thames at sunset, or merely have responsibility for the feral parakeets in Hyde Park? Or perhaps they might take an interest in a photograph of Arcuri, left, with Johnsons’ youngest brother, Max, and the chair of London & Partners, on a trade mission to Kuala Lumpur, to which the American “entrepreneur” had absolutely no right to tag along unless she was fucking the head of the delegation.

What are they there for, to look into how a “friend” of the then-Mayor received £126 thousand in public funding, Tier One immigration visa status and three foreign freebee trips accompanying the priapic Johnson? Or what? Just dazzled, I suppose.

“You can apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa if you work in a qualifying field and have been endorsed as: a recognised leader (exceptional talent) … How much you pay to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa depends on your circumstances.” – YouGov.

Given that her business model ran on existing applications of the technology, Ms Arcuri must have had exceptional talent as a leader. Although for what, we wit not. Actually, I’m warming to her. She seems quite naive; kookie, even. Shallow opportunism is not in itself a crime. Not in America, anyway.

I have a feeling that lawyers are, as a species, being driven mad by huge fees, and inhaling enhanced levels of carbon dioxide and methane with their cocaine.

A photographic trail going back eight years has revealed the first moment Arcuri set her wide eyes on Johnson and thought the bumbling waffler was “electrifying”.

Obviously she didn’t see him in profile. A fat boy, desperately sucking up to the room. No Sir, please don’t beat me! I’ll give you money! Anything!

The Bogler recalls the moment a lunatic management consultant, indubitably the most ignorant person he has ever met, and that is saying something, first set eyes on the derelict Georgian mansion in the middle of nowhere, in which he was struggling to entertain a few dozen B&B guests a year.

She breathed the fateful words: “Gosh, this would make a great 5-star hotel!” (It wouldn’t, as I perfectly well knew, having read the specifications, and it didn’t. But so dimwitted, gullible and venal was the owner, that £5 million later she eventually prised me out of my job.)

But the Bogler knows how it is. He is currently lusting after a relatively low-cost, pre-owned Fender “American Deluxe” Stratocaster guitar in tip-top condition, and cursing the day a month ago when he bought a far lesser version, thus interdicting the purchase of a marginally more expensive but very much more convincing item.

*Okay, look, we’ve all done it. But perhaps not while our wives of 24 years were having radical treatment for ovarian cancer, which there is a medical possibility we gave them.

 

Respect: To Jane Fonda. She’s been arrested again. Climate protest in Washington, obstruction charge. She’s 81 and still looks great. You go, gal!

 

No comment

SterlingPound

I agree (with previous post), as we’re having to make do with a couple of WAGs having a spat and there’s nothing coming out of No 10 by way of flying crockery, I’ve given up caring how the unfathomable EU talks are going, or not going, and am following the Trump impeachment with gob agape. (Although living in Wales I’m curious to know where this hard border in the Irish Sea might end up – avoid the M4, anyway.)

But the news that two of Trump’s “personal lawyer”‘s “business associates” – Russians with US passports – had helped Giuliani to get the US ambassador to Ukraine fired by Trump, set up a scam to smear Trump’s opponent, Joe Biden – laundered half a million dollars via a phony energy company in Florida, tried to start-up a skunk farm on the side, put most of the money into Trump’s re-election fund, and then we found out that the money came from a multibillionaire Ukrainian gas supply oligarch close to Putin who’s in Austria fighting an FBI extradition warrant and hoping to persuade Trump to lift the sanctions on him, and the two “business associates” were pulled by cops off a flight to Vienna… I see there’s an interview with John Le Carre elsewhere on the Guardian today, but I doubt he could have made this up and I’m sorry, but it’s a lot more exciting than Jennifer Arcuri – although, were she to be somehow involved…..

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There’s something wrong with The Guardian, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but miserable, pathetic little weasels might cover it for now. There is a huge story here they are ignoring because it’s foreign and complicated. Alternatively they have a team already on it and don’t want me butting in, who knows.

Nothing in my main Comment didn’t come from mainstream sources, the BBC and NBC, by the way. I’m just connecting dots, and believe me, you’d need someone from Bletchley Park to do that. I just hope American lawyers are up to the task.

Meanwhile, articles on Trump’s – I’m sorry, I’m looking for the appropriate adjective and none will come to mind, that does not involve the passionate invocation of an illegal assault on the White House employing a savagely mutated Ebola virus and an enema nurse – Trump’s vile and grotesque betrayal of the US’s allies in Syria, purely for financial advantage.

Let’s put it like that, because his dumbfucks are as convinced as Johnson’s dumbfucks are, that you can just walk away from your honorable commitments without consequence – articles, as I say, that are speaking of ethnic cleansing, as the other demented ideocrat, Erdogan hoovers up nativist votes by threatening to relocate 3.5 million Syrian refugees everywhere – especially in ethnically cleansed northern Syria – if we in the West don’t turn a blind eye to his filthy genocide.

Not unlike the one in Armenia, which I can be imprisoned for mentioning.

Lebensraum.

 

Anti-vaxxers: Pursuant to our Post lecturing a dangerously idiotic US Congresswoman who speaks out against vaccinating children, we should mention that 4 thousand people (ages unknown) have died in a measles outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where village herbalists perpetuate the superstitious belief that the WHO is trying to poison everyone with their evil Western medicine. That’s twice as many deaths as are reported from the outbreak of Ebola there.

 

GW: forming like a distant thundercloud

Japan: Honshu island was going into lockdown mode today, Friday 11 Oct. as 800-mile-wide Cat 4 supertyphoon Hagibis approached the Tokyo region with 144 mph peak winds. Bullet train services were being cancelled, supermarkets and theme parks closed. Car production at Toyota plants has been suspended. Qualifying for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix was postponed and two World Rugby matches cancelled. People are being advised to prepare for several days without electricity or running water, and to tape up their windows as the worst typhoon for 60 years is anticipated.

Japan Times reports, residents in Chiba are still recovering from the havoc wrought by Typhoon Faxai a month ago, and emergency supplies there have not yet been replenished. A farmer is quoted: “Things are so severely damaged already we really can’t do anything more.” Record rainfall is forecast, with potential flooding and landslides. 3 of the top 10 most damaging Japanese typhoons have occurred since 2018.

Update Sunday 13 Oct: Japan Times reports: “Hagibis, the 19th named storm of the season, tore through Japan’s main island of Honshu on Saturday and early Sunday packing winds of up to 144 kph at landfall, killing 33 and leaving 19 unaccounted for as of Sunday afternoon, according to Kyodo News. NHK reported 166 people were injured.

“Cities and towns across the country — including in Nagano, Niigata, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures — were inundated by flood waters after levees failed in the face of record rainfall,forcing many people to abandon submerged homes. The damage could worsen in the coming days as the water levels may rise along flooded rivers.”

Ivory Coast: At least 2 people have died and 1 is still missing after heavy rain and flash flooding on 5 Oct. in the capital, Abidjan. 1 person died after flooding caused a building to collapse. Another person is still missing after a vehicle was swept away by flood waters. Some areas recorded more than 120mm of rain. Roads were severely damaged, causing major traffic disruption. (Floodlist)

Honduras: Sudden flash floods in western Honduras damaged around 50 homes in Copán Department earlier this week, forcing around 200 people to evacuate. Heavy rain in the north of the country over the last few days has caused flash flooding in Tocoa, Colón Department, where military personnel have evacuated residents in affected areas. (Floodlist)

USA: “A fast-moving wildfire jumped into neighborhoods in Los Angeles overnight forcing evacuations, destroying homes and closing two freeways and an interstate. It was one of two deadly fires burning Friday in Southern California. At least 3 deaths were being blamed on the fires.

By later Friday afternoon, the Saddlewood fire had spread to about 12 square miles in the northern foothills of the San Fernando Valley and was only 13% contained. The Los Angeles Fire Department deemed the fire a “Major Emergency,” the highest classification there is for a fire emergency. (Wunderground)

A slow-moving coastal storm with 65 mph winds centered about 200 miles southeast of southeast Massachusetts transitioned into Subtropical Storm Melissa at 11 am EDT Friday. Moderate coastal flooding is expected along the Atlantic coast from Virginia to western Long Island (Wunderground)

Weather buffs were dancing in the streets on Thursday when a rare type of storm known as “thundersnow” made an appearance over Nevada. “It happens when cold air passes over (relatively) warm water and produces convective snowfall” says Severe-weather.eu. You get thunder and lightning, but instead of rain it’s snowing.

Severe-weather.eu. also reports: While the southern half of Europe is in for a period of very warm weather: “temperatures will be well above average for mid-October, with some places pushing into low to mid-20s through into next week”, another huge zone of intensely cold Arctic air has descended, records tumbling again, across much of the northwestern USA and Canada. “Some locations went from T-shirt weather to snow in a matter of hours!” Parts of the Dakotas may see 3 feet.

“Rapid City, South Dakota, experienced a drastic change in conditions, going from a high of near 80 F on Tuesday to heavy snowfall early Thursday, with temperatures plunging into the mid-20s F.” (Accuweather)

Tunnel approaching…

Methane: Recent field data gathered by an expedition led by Tomsk University’s Arctic methane expert Igor Semiletov “report stunning methane levels 9x higher than global averages.” They found one place where the sea off Siberia was “boiling” with a concentrated methane plume erupting from the shallow seabed. (Paul Beckwith, citing Global News) “No-one has ever recorded anything like this before”, Semiletov warned. (Similar observations have been made in permafrost karst lakes onland in Alaska. GW.)

Earth: “This September was the warmest September ever recorded, continuing a streak of months with above-average temperatures, new data has found. Last month was 0.57 degrees Celsius warmer than the average for September from 1981 to 2010,” according to new data released Friday by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. (Global News)

You would have to be 45 years old to have ever known a month that was colder than the same month the previous year. (Guardian Australia contributor)

 

 

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 103: Trump’s donors are such a gas… The madness of King Donald #195 – ‘Great and unmatched wisdom’… The liar-in-chief strikes again… Nya nah! You suck! No, you suck!… A funny Comment found under Rachel Maddow… GW: A knockout blow.

Quote of the Week

“Speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech.”

– spokesperson for Chinese State TV, as the entire nation rises up against one US National Basketball Association coach who dared to tweet a message of support for the Hong Kong protestors. War looms….

 

Trump’s donors are such a gas

Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas police photos

Take a look at the faces of these two men. They are said to be “business associates” of Mr Rudy Giuliani, former crimebusting Mayor of New York, Trump’s “personal lawyer” and bafflingly weird media motormouth, who were (allegedly) involved with him in a plot (supposedly inspired by dim but dim Energy Secretary, Rick Perry), to remove the US ambassador and set-up the Bidens for a corruption charge over dealings with a gas company in Ukraine. They are both Russian, but apparently with US nationality.

(For some reason, Mr Giuliani has not been arrested.)

The BBC has described them as illegal “donors” to the Trump campaign, having allegedly laundered over $400 thousand through a fake energy company in Florida (!)*, $325k of which has ended up in a Trump 2020 PAC, courtesy of an “unidentified” foreign individual. They were arrested at Dulles International, 10 Oct. on their way to Vienna.

Why Vienna? You don’t suppose it’s because that’s where Ukrainian multi-billionaire Dmitry Firtash, the “gas king”, the expensive “middle man” for all Russia’s gas exports that go via Ukraine to Germany, is out on bail in his own recognizance of £137 MILLION while fighting an extradition warrant from the FBI on money-laundering charges, do you?

Who, as Ms Maddow of MSNBC has suggested, is keen to persuade the Trump administration that it would be greatly in their interest to make the investigation and the sanctions on him go away?

Who is everyone trying to kid? Look at them! What are you thinking right now? Probably what I’m thinking. That I wouldn’t want to meet either of these businessmen in an alleyway on a dark night, let alone at a financial service providers’ convention at Mar-a-Lago, right? But we mustn’t jump to conclusions, looks aren’t everything, book, cover…. pussycats, probably.

*Funny, you never seem to get these numerous references to organized crime links in states like Montana, Vermont or Idaho. Does Mr Trump have no bidness interests there?

 

The Madness of King Donald #374

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!”

Insane Trump tweet, following a phone call with Erdogan, announcing the immediate withdrawal of US troops in northern Syria, abandoning their allied Kurdish militias to the tender mercies of the Turkish army. By Monday night Turkish forces were reportedly shelling Kurdish positions.

Kurds “didn’t help us in the second world war, they didn’t help us with Normandy as an example – they mention the names of different battles, they weren’t there. I learned this in a very powerful article…”

For God’s sake, Republicans, this catastrophic individual has lost his mind, can’t you see that? He was already the most intellectually inadequate man on the planet and in the light of events in the Ukraine now clearly a criminal, but you gave him absolute power.

Please, if you still support this crazy old mobster, make sense of this if you can:

“I, we, altogether, you, defeated and took over 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate, everybody said that was going to be an impossible thing to do, I did it, and I did it quickly because we have a great military now. When I took over our military we didn’t have ammunition. I was told by a top general (loud sniff), maybe the top of them all, Sir, I’m sorry Sir, we don’t have ammunition. I said I’ll never let another president have that happen to him or her. We didn’t have ammunition. Now we’ve captured ISIS, we’ve done what we’ve done, we had fifty soldiers in the area you’re talking about….”

It is all stream-of-consciousness, mad bullshit, every bit of it. Who was the “top general, maybe the top of them all”? Maybe, General Mattis, his Defense Secretary, who quit over Trump’s dangerously whimsical policy in Syria, on which he was not consulted. Mr Trump blames Mr Obama for failing to buy ammunition, despite spending only $680 billion on the military in 2017. Mr Trump’s additional $64 billion for the military was, he now says, to buy more ammunition. That’s a lot of rounds.

Americans must take full collective responsibility for allowing this mentally disturbed and chronically undereducated old man who refuses to take advice from anyone, who lives entirely in a world of his own spinning, who is unused to strategic thinking, to carry on serving in a capacity he was never fitted for in the first place.

GET HIM OUT, ANY WAY YOU CAN.

 

The liar-in-chief strikes again

“’I consulted with everybody. I always consult with everybody,’ he said when asked if he consulted with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“That appeared to conflict with reports that Trump’s decision came as a surprise to the Pentagon, which had no forewarning of the move. As Fox News reported, even top Pentagon officials were ‘completely blindsided’ and ‘shocked’ by the order, which came after Trump spoke with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

– from inquisitr website.

Lying again. Fucking insane, lying Adderall-addicted old numbskull, he’s been on the phone again and we bet that call is stashed in the Top Secret drawer along with his Putin calls and the notorious Zelenskiy call.

So we ask, what deal, what “favor” did Trump extort from Erdogan, what help with his Trump 2020 campaign will those Kurdish militia allies pay for with their lives? According to reports, he’s still making $1 million a year profit from Trump Towers, Istanbul. Maybe that’s what he’s protecting, Erdogan is blackmailing him, who knows what these rootling fascist pigs get up to in the privacy of their phone calls?

Talk about corruption, this atrocious man’s is seemingly bottomless. But then, the word on the digital street is that it may be Erdogan is strongarming him, having “tapes” or whatever, incriminating Kushner with MBS in the plot to assassinate Khashoggi as a quid pro quo for extorting money from Qatar to bailout the failing property developer. Nothing is too filthy for all these scummy “entrepreneurs”.

Tonight even Trump’s most craven enablers, Senators Graham and McConnell are demurring. Is this just another sackful of cats he’s chucking into the room to drain media attention away from the impeachment hearings, or from the New York court order to release his taxes?

A serious implication is that the Kurds are holding thousands of ISIS prisoners who may just be allowed to walk if their captors have to fight the Turkish army crossing the border

NBC News reports former U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS (whose other members were not informed either), Brett McGurk, as saying Trump’s decision is causing chaos at the White House:

“This is very serious. No one knows what to do. I see the administration scrambling to make sense of what is happening. The president is all over the place. His tweets indicate he has no real idea or conception of what is happening on the ground.”

US troops have reportedly begun pulling out. American allies, the Kurds, who did all the heavy lifting removing ISIS from Syria, lost 11 thousand fighters helping to defend America from this barely-existent threat. Trump doesn’t give a damn. How would he, he’s a sociopath.

This is what you get when you put a demented old drug addict* who thinks he’s a genius, a man of infinite wisdom – more like Norman Wisdom –  who knows “more about ISIS than many Generals”, in charge of US Defense forces.

*More evidence is emerging tonight of Trump’s decades-long addiction to “uppers and downers” – amphetamines and caffeine.

 

Salmond branded him a “loser” and Trump retaliated by describing the then former first minister as a “has-been”.

Nya nah! You suck! No, you suck!

This is the President of the United States of America we are talking about. A toddler in an outsize suit and his daddy’s tie.

It seems “Mini-me” Trump, Boris Johnson is not the only one doing battle in the Scottish courts. “Maxi-me” Trump is there too.

Trump Organization is reportedly refusing or, in its familiar way, somehow failing to meet an order for “£tens of thousands” (peanuts, surely, to the man who once boasted of being the wealthiest man in America? Ed.) in costs awarded against it after losing a fight that went all the way to the UK Supreme Court to stop the Scottish government siting a small wind-farm directly offshore of Trump’s Balmedie, Aberdeenshire golf course, alleging the visual impact would damage his loss-making business.

He also failed to intervene to stop a much larger windfarm out in the windy Shetland Islands, claiming that all windfarms suppress tourism. He has no tourism interest in the Shetlands!

This is why Trump hates wind farms, and will tell any lie to keep them out of America. The pitiful corpses of thousands of decapitated sacred American Bald Eagles litter the ground around the windmills. People’s TV sets go dark whenever the wind drops, and they miss the rest of the ballgame. The endless whirring of their sails causes people to develop cancer…. (Yes, he said those things.)

Anyway, Balmedie, also known as Trump International, Aberdeen. That’s the golf course he built over a Site of Special Scientific Interest, after former First Minister, Alex Salmond foolishly intervened in favour of job creation – the promise all gullible local officials fall for, every time; the numbers never actually being achieved, and then they’re usually imported specialist jobs, not local at all. (Or they simply pocket the brown envelope. Ed.)

The golf course where, when local residents refused to move out, he cut off their water and built high banks around their homes.

Trump and Salmond later fell out over the small, 11-turbine development, that Trump said would ruin the view. It was then that Salmond was accused out of the blue of being a groper – a sexual predator, just like Trump! Was that a story Trump let loose from David Pecker’s little black safe at the National Enquirer? It was a mishandled accusation, anyway, for which the former cruise line crooner received very substantial damages from the Scottish parliament earlier this year.*

Trump’s local manager at Balmedie has denied the report, saying the matter was in the hands of the Scottish courts. Yes, Ms Malone, it is. They want you to pay up!

The list of things Trump knows more about than anyone else was comically extended during the hearing, when Trump famously declared that the planning committee did not need to call any witnesses to verify his claims.

“I am the evidence,” he said. “I’m an expert in tourism. I have won many, many awards…”

Oh well, case closed then. Will the Chosen One be the evidence at his own impeachment hearing? He has already made it abundantly clear that he knows more about “perfect” phone calls than anyone, because he made that one to the president of Ukraine.

The Guardian concludes its report, from which the above is extrapolated, thus:

“The Trump International Golf Club posted a £1m annual loss for 2018 last week, the seventh loss in a row. Trump and his family firm have now loaned the business £43m and it has yet to turn a profit.”

It would be instructive to know where the money came from in the first place to develop the complex site, built on a well-known beauty spot comprising miles of shifting sand-dunes: the lonely sea and the sky, sadly no longer. Mr Trump’s sons have told the media at various times “We get all the money we need from Russia”.

A website investigating Trump’s Russian connections, The Moscow Project, recently reported:

“During the campaign, Trump reportedly requested a loan from Deutsche Bank for his golf course in Scotland. According to The New York Times, Deutsche Bank officials rejected the request, claiming it was too risky. … As Trump prepared to take office in December 2016, he owed nearly $364 million in outstanding debts to the financial institution.”

The BogPo has in the past noted drily that, 20 miles up the A49 from Balmedie lies the formerly wealthy oil city of Aberdeen, home of Aberdeen Asset Management, one of Europe’s largest financial institutions, with £312 billion under management. Following its very big merger with Standard Life last year, AAM is now known as Aberdeen Standard Management, but we’ll ignore that.

AAM is the child of the “ebullient” socialite, Martin Gilbert, once described in the House of Commons as the “unacceptable face of asset management”, now a Knight of the realm. We wondered idly, how it was that this firm that nearly went under, owing £650 million to small investors in 2002, was able to get back on the acquisitions trail almost immediately, and to buy “most of” the UK asset management arm of Mr Trump’s favorite bank, Deutsche, in July 2005, for £265 million? (As well as a substantial slice of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV, now sold to Disney.)

We have yet to discover the answer, although we’re pretty certain there’s “nothing to see here”. What we have just read, however, coincidentally in the Financial Times, peeking naughtily over their paywall, is basically this: that Sir Martin Gilbert was an invited guest (along, as it happens, with Kremlin lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya and the two Russian former GRU men with money-laundering expertise involved in the controversial 9 June, 2016 meeting with Trump campaign officials) at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in 2017.

“The two had met on the golf course….” the FT reported.

Sir Martin announced just days ago that he would be standing down as CEO in November, joking that he was quitting before he was pushed.

It would be an enormous stretch indeed to link the timing of the announcement in any way with the continuing inquiries into why Deutsche Bank continued to lend to Trump over $2.5 billion in total (Mother Jones) – despite his being red-flagged as a possible money-launderer and a serial loan defaulter – and with the Southern District Court of New York’s successful subpoena of Deutsche Bank last month for a vast trove of financial records relating to the Trump Organization.

Happily I know nothing whatever of high finance, or even much about low. I just sit here and fiddle with the internet all day. It’s here somewhere….

themoscowproject.org/dispatch/trumps-fraught-history-with-deutsche-bank/

http://www.ft.com/content/3278866c-e5cd-11e9-b112-9624ec9edc59

*Mr Salmond appeared in court last week and has been bailed until the New Year on charges of sexually propositioning ten women.

 

A Funny Comment found under Rachel Maddow:

“Future dictionary definition of “trumping”: Trumping – behaving in an absurdly corrupt manner; expelling wind verbally; acting without morality or regard for consequences; perversely manipulating those who are vulnerably minded; flirting with or otherwise “sucking up to” those who display evil or psychopathic behaviour; imbuing oneself with an orange hue for the purpose of distracting golfing opponents and/ or disguising vampirism; engaging unsuccessfully in combat with an umbrella; hiking in pristine woodlands whilst leaving a trail of sweet wrappers, oil and small fires in your wake; relaxing at work; offending cinema goers by wearing a tall hat composed of human hair; patrolling the perimeter of ones lawn in ones underpants with a stick for the purposes of intimidating ones neighbors; the act of a group of people spinning and flailing around until they fall; sleeping with someone you dislike who has no creditable qualities and regretting it for all time; trolling ones own husband under a pseudonym on a public forum; crossing the irradiated wastelands formed under the ancient Trump administration.”
Nice one, Parslow!
“In 2018 the richest 400 families in the US paid an average effective tax rate of 23% while the bottom half of American households paid a rate of 24.2%.” – University of California, Berkeley research. All together now: thanks Mr Trump.
GW: A knockout blow

Japan: At last, it takes a Category 5 superstorm bearing down on a world sporting event to get mainstream  journalists interested!

“Super Typhoon Hagibis” writes The Guardian‘s Gerard Meagher, “had initially threatened Ireland’s key match in Fukuoka on Saturday, but has altered its course and is now zeroing in on Tokyo and Yokohama. It has escalated from a tropical storm into a supertyphoon with wind speeds estimated at 160mph in one of the most dramatic intensifications of any tropical cyclone since records began. According to the Japanese Meteorological Agency it is on course to be the strongest to hit Japan this year.”

Other sources suggest it could be the strongest storm ever recorded in the western Pacific, with peak winds of 195 mph.

Rugby bore alert

England is scheduled to play France in a Pool C fixture this weekend, followed by a Sunday bout between Scotland and home team Japan. If either match has to be cancelled a draw is automatically awarded, with 2 points per team. England and France are already through to the quarter finals, but a “scoreless draw” would see Scotland knocked out. It’s also possible the Japan F1 Grand Prix might have to be cancelled, and the racing schedule doesn’t allow for re-runs.

Venezuela: Heavy rain in the Sierra de Perijá triggered flooding of the Kunana river in the town of Toromo from around 5 Oct.. Around 400 homes, as well as livestock, schools and material possessions suffered damage. Civil Protection said they were searching for 6 people, believed to be from the same family, who went missing in the floods. (Floodlist)

Kenya: Heavy rain in border areas between Kenya and Ethiopia has caused flooding in parts of northern Kenya. Around 1,000 people from 200 households have been displaced after homes were damaged or destroyed, and many livestock were swept away and drowned. Damaged roads are making relief efforts difficult. (from Floodlist)

Darfur: At least 367 homes collapsed and a large number of livestock were killed after heavy rains and flash floods hit Um Kedada in North Darfur at the weekend (4 to 6 Oct). No casualties were reported but many people have been left homeless. Two schools were reportedly destroyed. (Floodlist)

Vietnam: High tides and rising river levels left wide areas of the city of Cần Thơ under water from around 1 Oct., with homes and roads flooded and close to 30,000 people affected. As of 01 October, the water level of the Hau River reached 2.25 metres, the highest level in 30 years. The reason for flooding is the coincidence of high water levels in the Mekong River with very high lunar tides in the South China Sea.” (Floodlist)

USA: The second major storm in 10 days will dump several inches to 2 feet of snow over the northern Rockies and shock areas farther to the east over the northern Plains with blizzard conditions. The storm system will bring another round of early-season accumulating snow to nearly a half a million square miles of the interior United States, and, in some cases, the snow will fall less than 24 hours after temperatures have … been in the 80s F. Up to 50% crop losses have been reported through adverse weather and the snow is likely to hit the harvest. (Accuweather)

Over in California, hundreds of thousands are suffering rolling power blackouts as the utilities shut down sections of the grid to avoid very strong winds blowing down power lines and starting fires. So far in 2019, there have been 4,609 fires in California, which have burned 40,712 acres. (Accuweather)

Australia: New South Wales has over 40 fires burning at the moment. The Busbys Flat fire, south of Casino, and another further inland at Drake that has been burning for 5 weeks and destroyed 78,000 acres were still at emergency warning levels on Tuesday night. NSW Rural Fire Service said a “significant number” of homes across the north of the state had been destroyed, including in the village of Rappville, with a population of about 250 people. (Guardian)