Did Hitler win after all?… And whither the UK?… GW: Pick me up, put me down, spin me round and round…

As people old enough to remember life under Nazi occupation die off, younger generations feel no connection with the 1930s and ’40s, no sense of alarm.

Did Hitler win after all?

The most astonishing abuses of local government and state powers across what used to be the more civilized, welcoming and moderate countries in Europe are revealed today in a major report from Open Democracy.

What is your reaction, for instance, to the news that a 71-year-old woman in France was arrested, held in a cell for 24 hours, charged with people trafficking and CONVICTED after stopping her car and giving a lift to a weary mother and her child on the road from Nice to Antibes? Oh, because the passengers happened to be undocumented African migrants.

Or that, in Greece, the cradle of modern civilization, ha-ha, a retired German couple were sentenced to 16 YEARS in prison after they stopped their boat to rescue some refugees? Mercifully the sentence was reduced on appeal to just 3.5 YEARS.

Or that a British volunteer, Tom Ciotkowski, 30, is facing up to 5 YEARS in jail in France, merely for filming another volunteer at the Jungle camp in Calais being pushed to the ground and kicked by police, the criminal charges being “contempt” (of the police? You have to be kidding, monsieur!) and “showing solidarity” with illegal immigrants?

Hundreds of people ranging from Christian pastors and elderly academics to journalists, charity volunteers and even firemen are being harrassed and detained by immigration and law enforcement – I won’t call them officers, they’re just goons, hired thugs in it for the joy of exercising their own base brutality, the sexual thrill of wearing the uniform and the celebration of hate-filled ignorance – for helping the helpless. Laws are being passed, that are in direct opposition to years-old United Nations conventions.

In Hungary, under the autocrat Orban, it’s now a criminal offence even for lawyers to advise immigrants and refugees of their legal rights – of which, it seems, they no longer have any. In Greece and Italy, people have been arrested just for having phone contact with migrant support groups. A team of Spanish firefighters who went to Lesbos as volunteers to help with search and recovery operations were arrested, threatened with up to 10 years in gaol, heavily fined and themselves deported.

Simple acts of Christian charity and compassion are being criminalised as a wave of enthusiastic, racially-based proto-fascism sweeps across a continent deprived of aspiration by a ruling coterie of neoliberal meritocrats. This is not something confined to “far off countries of which we know little”. The editor of Marie Claire magazine in Belgium was charged with people smuggling after feeding and giving clothes to a Sudanese teenager hoping to get to the UK. She was subsequently acquitted, but the signal had been sent, in a small, recently invented country with a history of the worst colonial human rights abuses of all:

No more brown people.

And here, too, thanks to the sociopathic vicar’s daughter Theresa May, and her “hostile environment” policy, no kindness or act of caring will go unpunished. The Guardian reported (29 April, 2019):

“A man who brought his (7-month-old) baby niece to Britain in the back of his car from a French refugee camp after she suffered serious burns is facing deportation from the UK on Tuesday. Najat Ibrahim Ismail, 35, an Iraqi Kurd with a British wife and three young British children, was prosecuted for trafficking.”

His deportation flight was halted on the runway after a public outcry, even the judge who gave him that critical 12-month sentence (it’s the automatic deportation cutoff point) accepted he hadn’t been trafficking, but he is still under threat of being separated from his British family and sent back to God knows what; having been admitted in the first place only because he’d been tortured in his own country – a country which, incidentally, we invented, depriving his people of their own statehood.

This is what now passes for British justice, that we can’t even tolerate compassion towards babies while denying our guilt for creating this situation in the first place.

The BogPo has argued before, the UK Home Office is not fit for purpose. Clumsy, cynical, expensive, illegal and too often lethal mistakes are being made now on an almost daily basis in its Immigration department. Thousands of people – not only brown people, but legally settled white EU citizens – are having their lives turned upside down and their rights trashed by harsh and often incorrect decisions, seemingly made by overworked, harrassed and incompetent officials.

No-one will convince me this chaos is accidental. With the financial support of foreign disruptors, it is being promoted by political chancers like Johnson and Farage. The nightmare is, millions of voters support them – not because they are good leaders with policies that will make life better for millions, but because they are celebrities, entertainers one step removed from standup comedians “as-seen on TV!”.

As with Trump, the dumbfucks don’t care whatever else he does, fiddles his taxes, endlessly lies about everything, tears up treaties, abuses the powers of his office to obstruct justice and line his pockets, pardons racists and pedophiles and persecutes “foreigners”, they merely see him as “different” and hang on his every garbled word, because he had a third-rate TV show where he was encouraged to play the part of a successful billionaire, the embodiment of the American dream; and because he promised them an American “earth” he knew he couldn’t possibly deliver.

Well, without wishing to make a direct comparison, Adolf Hitler was “different” too. It takes a huge inversion of logic to vote for someone who so clearly doesn’t have your best interests at heart, merely because they’re not the people you voted for last time, whom you are easily persuaded (without a great deal of knowledge of the facts) haven’t served you very well. And they probably haven’t, but is a total phony like Nigel Farage going to do better?

A filthy cloak of barbarism is descending over Europe once again. As people old enough to remember life under Nazi occupation and the vast sacrifice it took to end it die off, younger generations feel no connection with the 1930s and ’40s, no sense of alarm.

They see no parallels between the street-scumbag rhetoric, say, of a Matteo Salvini, Pretty-boy Wilders or Jorg Heider; even of that self-pitying criminal midget calling himself “Tommy Robinson”, and the parade of squalid villains of the murderous decades of fascist regimes founded on licensed brutalities and a too-easily manufactured hatred of The Other.

If you support any of this, just answer me one question.

Why?

Why are you so willing to be taken advantage of, again?*

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/hundreds-of-europeans-criminalised-for-helping-migrants-new-data-shows-as-far-right-aims-to-win-big-in-european-elections/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=25b6e86974-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-25b6e86974-408090269

*Actually, there’s no need to answer that. The fascination of fascism is not the obvious lie that it will “end corruption” – it is the very essence of corruption – and make everyone great again, as if they were ever great in the past – but that it puts a malign power directly into the hands of those who are most willing to wield it against their fellow men.

It’s the religion of psychopathy.

 

And whither the UK?

What will Britain do if America decides to bomb or invade Iran, merely to fulfil a 20-year ambition on the part of the “retread neoconservative”, the insane Irish war hawk (who has never served in anything more impressive than the National Guard) John Bolton, and possibly bolster Trump’s re-election prospects by being seen to take tough action against an imaginary threat, although polls show another foreign war is not yet supported by his dumbfucks?

Well, the Tories always do well out of wars, and pathetic Labour are invariably split over whether to support them or to risk the opprobrium of the Daily Mail.

Anyway, I fear we have the answer. From a Guardian/Observer piece by Simon Tisdall, 19 May:

“Memories of the Iraq fiasco may have influenced Major-General Chris Ghika, the British deputy commander of the coalition against Isis, when he was asked about the American claims last week. “There’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” he said. Since Ghika is based in Baghdad, he might be expected to know best.

“That did not stop the Pentagon issuing an extraordinary rebuttal, saying the general’s comments “run counter to the identified credible threats”. In another echo of Iraq, the British government caved in to US pressure and disowned Ghika the following day, saying that it fully agreed with Washington’s threat-level assessment.”

Lies, lies, and more fucking lies. We’re always taken to war by failed politicians on the backs of lies. Even the Pentagon doesn’t agree with these phony security assessments, but who are they to know better than the trio of feral ambitious hacks who have seized power in Washington, and who only have the template of the successful 2003 invasion of Iraq to guide them into another murderous 15-year-long debacle on behalf of Raytheon, Boeing and the US arms industry?

Christ, what a bunch of evil fuckers the Trump crew are. Who in God’s name let them get away with this crazy shit?

Meanwhile, world oil prices are rising rapidly as a result of American belligerence towards Iran, Venezuela and Libya. OPEC countries are delighted, as US overproduction had depressed prices and was causing economic damage to producers like Saudi Arabia, who need a higher price to balance their budget. Mr Trump will not be happy, as he has assured his dumbfucks of permanent cheap gasoline to fuel their SUVs. On the other hand, whose fault is it? He knows nothing whatever about the economics of trade, and will not be told.

“As one British minister said this week, ‘The risk of this proving unmanageable and blowing up in our faces is growing'” (The Guardian, 19 May).

 

GW: Pick me up, put me down, spin me round and round

USA: In what The Weather Channel‘s Bob Henson reports is a “highly unusual for late May”, volatile situation, the chain of violent supercell storms that has plagued the southwestern states from Texas up into the Great Lakes almost weekly for the past three months and created the worst flooding since 1927 shows no sign of stopping. More than 40 powerful tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska yesterday, staff at a tornado warning center had to take refuge in the basement as one formed right over their office. And the forecast for tomorrow, Monday 20 May, is worse, with very strong winds a feature!

“A powerful squall line continued to wreak havoc as it moved into Missouri and Arkansas on Saturday afternoon and evening. High winds and heavy rains will be the main threat, but hail and tornadoes are possible. Severe weather should be more muted on Sunday, but bands of storms capable of severe wind and hail will rumble from the Mississippi Valley up to Michigan and across to western Pennsylvania and New York by evening.” Flood warnings too: up to another 6-in. of rain is forecast on already saturated ground.

Meanwhile, with a fortnight to go before the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, one may be forming east of the Bahamas. “As of Saturday, odds were close to 50-50 for development next week of each of a pair of tropical cyclones, one in the Atlantic and the other in the Eastern Pacific (off the coast of Mexico).” The Weather Channel.

Paraguay: 16 people are feared drowned after extensive flooding covered large areas of the country. Over 60 thousand families have been affected and the Paraguay River stands almost two meters above its critical level. 700 people have been evacuated in Argentina, where over 600 thousand Ha of crops have been lost to floods. (Floodlist)

Europe: States of emergency have been declared in Bosnia and Croatia after storm-force winds and torrential rain caused extensive damage and rivers to reach red alert levels. “Houses and crops have been damaged in affected areas, and power and water supply severely disrupted. Flooding and landslides have blocked several roads and some schools have been closed.” At least 1 person, a child, is feared drowned. The city of Banja Luca received 111mm of rain in a 48 hour period. Heavy rain in northern Italy over the last few days has caused rivers to break their banks and reactivated a landslide in the Veneto region. (Floodlist) More severe storms and high winds are forecast for southeastern and eastern Europe over the coming days. (Severe-weather.eu)

UK: Overnight rain has helped firefighters to to dampen down two wildfires that have destroyed thousands of acres of moorland in Scotland. A woman has been arrested in connection with a large fire on Ilkley Moor, in Yorkshire. Otherwise where your old Granny is, it’s all still unusually agreeable.

Antarctica: A major study of 20 years of satellite data has shown that the Antarctic glaciers are thinning five times as fast as was thought. In places, over 100 metres of ice thickness has been lost, with melting extending up to 300 miles inland. A report in Guardian Green Light quotes the research team: “A complete loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet would drive global sea levels up by about 5 metres, drowning coastal cities around the world. The current losses are doubling every decade and sea level rise is running at the extreme end of projections made just a few years ago.”

 

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The Pumpkin – Issue 85: Does anyone still imagine the American republic is a democracy?… Does anyone still imagine the United Kingdom is a democracy?… Gay abandoned…GW: all a bit topsy-turvey if you ask me

Ed Note: Things may slow down on the old BogPo express over the next two weeks as I shall be busy earning my annual train fare to France. I’m continuing to edit and add to this issue for now.

UB

“Who’d have thought going on the Jeremy Kyle Show would lead to this?” (Photo: Michael McGurk, Brirish Press Awards. With apologies!)

According to New York city officials, the president’s eight largest New York properties pump out around 27,000 tons of planet-warming gases every year, the equivalent of 5,800 cars. If no remedial measures are taken, by 2030 Trump’s kids will be paying over $2 million a year in fines. (from Guardian)

The old fraud won’t be around, of course. And good riddance, he should be buried at Fresh Kills (the city rubbish dump.) His vicious policy of confiscating people’s children at the Mexican border and farming them out to abusers having largely failed, the latest wheeze being quietly implemented by the Department for Housing is to separate migrant families living in subsidized housing.

“HUD acknowledged the Trump administration could displace more than 55,000 children if plans to evict undocumented immigrants from public housing is (sic) successful.” (Guardian)

The rule to date has been that at least one member of a household in which migrants are living must be properly documented. The new rule, which the media is attributing to Trump’s dead-eyed college vampire, Stephen Miller,  is that if even one undocumented migrant is living in subsidized housing, the entire household – usually a family – has to get out. (Undocumented does not always mean illegal, by the way. Applications and appeals could be pending.) That includes children….

Trump spent the minimum amount of time he could with his various families, rarely if ever interacting with his four (known) children. He clearly hates families – his own parents were aloof and hypercritical – and has no family values to speak of. He is a genuine sociopath without empathy or understanding. What a fascinating character!

Psychology students will be crafting their PhD theses on this piece of shit for a long time to come.

 

Does anyone still imagine the American republic is a democracy?

Last week, claiming “security concerns”, the White House revoked the access credentials of more than 50 press correspondents, including all six of the passes issued to the deeply hated Washington Post. There are to be no more of the old, anodyne, ritually structured encounters in the briefing room, where the fake-tanned, abusive President can tell the assembled media that they are “very rude” and “fake news” when they presume to ask him questions.

“Exceptions” are being individually approved now by the chief spokesbitch, sweaty Sarah (“Ah’m a Christian!”) Huckabee Sanders, but only, it seems, in the case of correspondents with no history of criticizing the President. Sit-down classroom-style briefings have been abandoned in favor of informal “gaggles” to be held outside on the driveway, and only then to pre-registered attenders. (See various reports collated on the Mike Malloy channel) When it rains, expect no news.

There is henceforth to be no independent in-house press oversight or hostile questioning of the President, ending a decades-old and perhaps too cosy relationship between the White House and its tame Press Corps. It’s a situation Trump has also tried to impose on the Congress, invoking a bogus “executive privilege” to bar anyone connected with his administration from giving testimony to any of the five congressional committees investigating his egregious conduct, and refusing to accept legally enforceable subpoenas.

The United States has effectively been taken over by a criminal gang locked in tight formation around a pretend mafia-boss who knows he has been outed as a felonious obstructor of justice and abuser of office by the Mueller investigation; knows too, that he faces at least 16 further criminal investigations for fraud and money-laundering in the Southern District of New York, and who is determined to distort and suppress the truth by any means.

Back in the blood-caked hands of the Project for the American 21st Century, the regime is hurriedly manufacturing a case to begin bombing another invented enemy, Iran. Having dispatched a carrier group and B-52s to the Arabian Gulf, “Security” adviser John Bolton has followed it up with a specialist cruise-missile launcher, and has called for 120 thousand troops to be put on readiness. The Washington Post acknowledges that Trump is not so interested in invading Iran, but has given Bolton his head. This cowardly mad old backseat neocon fucker needs to be institutionalized, and quickly.

Writing in The New Yorker, however, Susan Glasser speculates that Trump is rapidly tiring of Bolton’s tub-thumping – especially as Candidate Trump promised on the campaign trail no more American adventures, and he likes to keep his promises – mad and reckless as many were: “Amazingly enough, we are now at a moment in the Trump Presidency when the capricious President himself is being touted as the possible constraint on hawkish advisers like Bolton.” The danger is not past, however: “I wouldn’t discount the chance that a series of mistakes could lead to a conflict that Trump himself doesn’t want.”

Two sabotage “attacks” on Saudi oil tankers and the apparent rocketing from drones of Saudi pipelines are already being blamed on Iran. None did the “significant damage” being claimed, which seems significant in itself. Iran has condemned them. And who, given the tinder-dry political situation and Bolton’s long-held determination to kick-off a war, is more likely to have carried them out, the Quds force of the Revolutionary Guard or US/Saudi black ops forces?

Meantime, we are learning of a “secret” financial connection between Qatar and Trump’s plastic son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Actually we’ve known about it for months, but strong suspicion is not knowing. What we saw was that soon after Trump’s 2017 visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia persuaded the UAE to join in an economic blockade of Qatar that ended happily just days after a Canadian asset-management company agreed to take a 99-year lease on 666, 5th Avenue – a disastrous loss-making 2007 development for Kushner Companies – “paying a near-century’s worth of rent upfront”. (Vanity Fair)

Brookfield Asset Management is a well-funded arm of the Qatari sovereign wealth fund’s investment division, and although the fund is claiming to be bewildered and unhappy that such a deal should have been brokered, if it ever was, the money arrived fortuitously just in time to forestall what might have turned into a massive $billion debt default against Kushner Companies and their gargantuan New York white elephant.

(http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/02/qatar-666-5th-ave-jared-kushner)

And it was apparently Jared’s criminal father, Charlie Kushner, who was behind the deal; favorite son Jared being too witless and inexperienced, basically, to be the real brains behind Kushner Companies, while time-served fraudster and witness-intimidator Charlie is barred technically from running the business.

So we can see that the Trump regime is not above getting down and dirty to suborn US foreign policy for the benefit of the President’s criminal associates. We know the regime owes bin-Salman one for that. And that Saudi Arabia and Israel would both like the US to lead on regime-change in Iran. An Iraq-style invasion however seems unlikely before November as summer temperatures in the region are regularly starting to exceed 50 deg. C, making fighting on the ground pretty nearly impossible.

Unless they want to see their capital cities going up in smoke, beleaguered and deeply unpopular centrist European politicians like May and Macron must not be tempted to rush to join Trump and his satraps Bolton and Pompeo in some unholy war against what he calls “the ayatollahs” of Tehran – no filthier or more murderous and corrupt a theocracy than that of Riyadh or Tel Aviv; Moscow, Manila or indeed, Washington.

The lessons of Iraq must be learned.

There must be no collusion with this profoundly corrupt President and his narcissistic, dictatorial ambitions.

But I fear there will be.

 

The Pumpkin confesses:

In the middle of “Years and Years”, former Dr Who-tsar Russell Davies’ latest near-term futuristic family-saga drama on TV, a newsflash pops up, proclaiming “Trump wins second term in office”.

Instantly, I burst into floods of tears, beating my head on the keyboard, loudly moaning “no, please, no!”.

I blame the wine.

The misery is compounded (spoiler alert) when, in the final days of his second term, Trump nukes an island in the South China Sea. Okay, there are episodes to follow, so it might not escalate too badly.

But I’m not sure I might not have to spend more of these lighter evenings out, doing something. Anything.

 

Tickety-boo

“Clarance Jones of Lynn, Massachusetts, the nation’s most frequent winner, claimed more than 7,300 tickets worth $600 or more in only six years. Jones would have had to spend at least $300 million to have a 1-in-10 million chance of winning so often, according to a statistician at the University of California, Berkeley.”

The Columbia Journalism Review bombarded several co-operative states with FOI requests to obtain data on unusually frequent lottery winners and concluded that many claimants were acting as proxies for the real ticket-holders , who didn’t want their creditors or the tax authorities finding out.

It’s a living, I suppose.

 

Does anyone still imagine the United Kingdom is a democracy?

Threatened by a feeble suggestion that accusing a certain Mr Richard Cook of breaches of electoral law in channelling money to Be.Leave and other dodgy pro-Brexit causes in advance of the referendum is “basically defamatory” (whatever status “basically” has in law!), having already rapped the main Vote.Leave campaign on the wrist for overspending its allowed budget, the supine and toothless watchdog, the Electoral Commission, is refusing to investigate further evidence of fraud, saying it wouldn’t be in the public interest.

Just what the hell is in the public interest, if Brexit was bought with illegal donations from unregistered and possibly foreign parties? Well, astonishingly, the Electoral Commission is not sure if buying votes with the illegal proceeds of crime is actually unlawful.

So much for democracy.

Anyone who like your Uncle Bogler delights in poking a stick at the dimmer elements of the Commentariat on, for instance, The Guardian‘s website, will be familiar with the cry that invariably goes up from despondent and truculent majoritarian Leave voters when you ask what on earth they thought they were voting for: “You Remainers don’t respect democracy!”

Well, no, we don’t respect criminals who steal our democracy, as they clearly did, with or without the knowing participation of certain ambitious politicians who have nothing whatever to offer the British voter, other than the prospect of imposing on us their corrupt brand of unenlightened self-interest for years to come.

At the heart of the conspiracy is the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland – the bunch of ten knuckle-dragging Protestant gargoyles on whom Theresa May thought she could rely for extra votes in the Commons in return for a billion-pound bribe from the British taxpayer, and then found to her cost that she couldn’t.

(We should perhaps remember that the bulk of the DUP’s possibly illegal campaign contribution was spent on advertising in Northern Ireland and in London, both areas that voted solidly Remain; and for unspecified services on a Canadian data analytics company, Aggregate QI, linked with Cambridge Analytica and the Mercers, father and daughter – the secretive billionaires who bankrolled Trump’s election victory and put Steve Bannon into the White House. But as the DUP continues to refuse to reveal the source of the donation, we can only speculate.)

And Cook, who he? A reticent former Tory party candidate with unexpected sources of funding – a business partner at one time was the former Saudi chief of intelligence – who has, basically, allegedly dabbled in some rather sticky business – illegal waste dumping, money-laundering and illegal arms shipments being among the activities mentioned in certain press quarters. (See previous Posts)

According to Open Democracy:

“The bulk of the DUP’s massive Brexit donation was spent on a wraparound advert in the Metro newspaper just days before the European Union referendum. Spotlight (Antifa) journalists discovered that the advert, costing £282,000, had been booked directly by Richard Cook, not the DUP.”

The Electoral Commission, however, has argued that it cannot go further to expose the illegal “dark money” donation as they themselves can find “no evidence” that Cook booked the advertisement. (Asking Metro might produce some information?) And in the light of investigations by OpenDemocracy.org into a Madrid-based conduit for US “dark-money” donations to Vox and other far-right European parties, MPs have called on the Electoral Commission to look afresh at possible further breaches of electoral law by Vote Leave, so far without success.

The embarrassing inertia – call it incompetence rather than corruption – of our legal institutions threatens to undermine any further possibility that a historic wrong can be righted at the last minute. The government has no interest whatever in pursuing criminal investigations until it can declare that it has fulfilled the deeply suspect mandate given it by “the will of the People” to wreck the country and very probably break up the Union.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/dark-money-investigations/not-in-the-public-interest-why-the-electoral-commission-didnt-investigate-vote-leave-and-dup-donation/ Baed on reporting by Jenna Corderoy and Peter Geoghan.

 

Gay abandon

A few years ago now, Fox News was enlivened by exchanges between the fat, sweaty Trumpsucker and rack-rent landlord, Sean Hannity and our very own, the late-lamented Christopher Hitchens, last and bravest of the public intellectuals, who had dared to write rude things about the recently deceased “Reverend” Jerry Falwell, a hugely wealthy and hypocritical, corrupt Tele-vangelist currently roasting for Eternity down below.

Some speculation now surrounds his son, Jerry Falwell Jr (so up their own fundaments are these fundamentalists, that they insist on perpetuating their holy egos in the names of their offspring). It’s being whispered that the married minister of the bogus church had an affair with the household’s handsome young “pool attendant” (Blessed are the poor… etc.)

And that having taken him into their home, a well-chiselled 21-year-old they met at a hotel, the rabid homophobe Falwell “invested” $1.8 million in a “business venture” of this Adonis, Carlo Grande, which turns out to have been a gay party venue, or “flophouse” as it’s been described in the Washington Post.

Which takes us back to President Trump (it still sticks in the craw) and his former lieutenant, rough-edged “fixer” and part-time legal advisor, Michael Cohen, who started his three-year prison sentence last week for obeying Trump’s orders to “fix” some of the President’s own indiscretions using campaign funds, and then lying for him. (The President remains at liberty, of course.)

In a splurge of late confessions, Cohen has alleged that Falwell employed him in 2015, at Trump’s suggestion, to also “fix” a cache of exceedingly embarrassing photographs he wanted to make go away. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC reported on the Post story last week, that after bullying them out of the possession of the unnamed blackmailer, Cohen had managed to hang on to one particularly damning image as insurance.

Presumably it’s now in the hands of the FBI.

Falwell, meanwhile, had popped up at several of Trump’s campaign rallies, literally comparing the Orange Tax-dodger and chief pussy-grabber to Holy Jesus and exhorting his evangelical dumbfucks on Biblical authority to vote for the new Messiah. Interviewed in the Post, he described Trump as “pretty much perfect”, acknowledging that he might have sinned from time to time (yes, whose was that by-blow Trump’s pal Elliot Broidy had aborted and paid $1.8 million to the Playboy model to stay stum?), but that it was his policies, not his character that really recommended him to Christian voters.

Odd, says the Americans United website, since his father had once described his ideal occupant of the White House as someone who would say: “As long as I am President, I shall lead this country in the ways of Christ as set forth in this book, God’s Holy Word. I would vote for the president who would take a bold, uncompromising stand against sin – SIN – and tell us what he believes it is.”

The question must obviously be, why would F. Jr turn so suddenly and completely against the idiotic precepts of his insanely corrupt and uber-wealthy dad, F. Sr, buoyed up by the contributions of his poorest parishioners in hopes of admission to Heaven, in order to announce the Second Coming of Christ in the bloated and unlikely shape of the decidedly un-christian and unethical serial adulterer and swindler, Trump?

And when can we expect a suitably painful Crucifixion?

We should be told.

 

One law for the poor

US actress Felicity Huffman has pleaded guilty to fraudulently conspiring to win a college place for her daughter. Prosecutors have recommended a four-month prison term and a $20,000 fine. Huffman, 56, was among 50 charged in the college admissions scandal. (BBC News)

According to a recent biography by US-naturalized Brit journalist Katy Ward, “Kushner Inc.”, Charlie Kushner made a $2.5 million donation to Harvard shortly before his educationally substandard plastic-toy-boy favorite younger son, Jared, was admitted over a number of more promising but less wealthy students.

Are these cheating, rack-renting bastards going to jail for it?

Doesn’t look like it. Jared is the President’s son-in-law. Although he’s no longer quite such a trusted White House advisor, in fact Orange Dad has been hoping to find a way to get rid of him. This pay-for-places scandal would seem to be a good opportunity?

Questions, however, would have to be asked about how Trump even got into primary school.

 

GW: all a bit topsy-turvey if you ask me

Russia: A corridor of exceptionally warm airmass is reaching far into NW Russia, with daytime highs at the Arctic circle pushing up to 30-31 °C! “This is exceptionally warm weather for the region, about 25-30 Deg. C above average” for mid-May. (Severe-weather.eu). The temperature in one of Russia’s most northerly ports, Arkhangelsk, 1100km north of Moscow, hit 84.4F, 29.1C on 12 May.

45 forest fires have been raging around the city of Irkutsk, near Lake Baikal. There are reports of the sky turning black and residents getting sick from bad air quality. (Siberian Times) Moscow News 25 April reported 1 dead, 8 injured – and a cost to date of US$15m.

USA: Large parts of Texas, Kansas and Mississippi are underwater, with emergencies declared. “Parts of the state have been badly affected by storms since the start of the month. Houston, Tx. saw around 10 in. (254 mm) of rain in 24 hours to early 08 May, 2019. 1 person died in flash flooding in Austin. A slow-moving storm dumped heavy rain in parts of Mississippi on 09 May. Some areas recorded up to 8 in. (203.2mm) of rain in 24 hours. The city of Jackson experienced severe flooding. (Floodlist)

Leading Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden reportedly still has not formulated a policy on climate change and is sitting on the fence when it comes to reducing carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel. Of the 22 runners, only 2 have dared to declare a course of action. (Guardian)

It’s been the wettest year-long period in U.S. records going back to 1895, according to the NOAA . Averaged across the contiguous U.S., the total of 36.2-in. made the period from May 2018 to April 2019 the first year-long span ever to top 36-in. (3 ft). (Weather Channel)

Adding to the above, it’s 18 May and Mammoth Lakes, California has just had 10 inches of SNOW! The popular ski-resort area has had a total of 470 inches of snow this winter. Elsewhere in the northern part of the state they’ve had record rainfall.

Australia: Intensifying to Cat 2 in the South Coral Sea, out-of-season Tropical Cyclone Ann is forecast crossing the northern tip of Queensland near Cairns before heading across the Gulf of Carpentaria in the next few days. (News AU)

India: At least 300 yaks have starved to death in Sikkim province near India’s border with China after getting trapped by heavy snowfall. The yaks had been trapped since December. Authorities had tried to drop food to the animals but were pushed back by poor weather. (BBC Weather)

Europe: As exceptionally cold weather has continued to affect eastern central Europe, Spain and Portugal have been experiencing a spring heatwave, with temperatures up in the mid-30s C, mid-90s F: 10C to 14C above the mid-May average. Northern Italy has had more severe thunderstorms and a powerful Bora wind is blasting the Balkans, where there’s a warning of flooding as 300 mm of rain is expected during the coming days.

Weekend outlook, 18/19 May: “Temperatures in parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland will reach above 20s, with daytime highs reaching into mid-20s locally. That is quite exceptionally warm for now, up to about 15 °C higher than the long-term average!” (Severe-weather.eu)

The Fortunate Isles: It’s getting harder than ever for your old Gran to concentrate on some far-off global climate emergency when the weather here on the west coast of Great Britain is so bloody agreeable!

We have 19.5 degrees under sunny skies again today, and for the rest of this week, dry and getting warmer. The green spaces are in full leaf, the oaks looking especially fine, the ash – well, they say “oak before ash, we’re in for a splash… Ash before oak, we’re in for a soak”, so a dryish summer is projected in nature. Clouds of midges over the footpath, birds chirping merrily…. Just a slight note of concern, some trees are looking stressed, with strangely withered leaves; while we’ve just strolled through a wildflower meadow and disturbed no butterflies or any insects at all. Nor still are many bees around, despite the profusion of pollen sources getting up everyone’s noses.

We met almost none today, even amid the glorious blossoming of the May trees only one or two per show.

 

Deep breath… Donald and the magic money machine… GW: going down a bomb. New BogPo undergoing boglogenesis for Thursday

“We do not expect our species to exist forever. But it is unworthy of us – and of what, collectively, we know we can become – to die in the way we’re threatening to die: blindfolded, blustering, callow, lying to each other and ourselves.”

Environmental campaigner, the late Dorothy Dinnerstein, quoted on OpenDemocracy.org

 

Deep breath…

Daily average atmospheric CO2 as measured at Scripps Mauna Loa observatory at 9,000 ft altitude on 3 May was 415.09 ppm, approximately 10 ppm higher than the 405 ppm average at end-March last year.

That’s the highest count measurable from core samples, etc. in the past 800 thousand years and puts us on course for 10 deg. C, 18F of warming over AD 1750 levels. (from Arctic News, 6 May)

Wunderground carries and gives additional weight and exposure to an item that appeared on Arctic News a couple of months ago, regarding research at CalTech showing how one result of a 4C rise by 2100 could be the loss of marine stratocumulus clouds that reflect sunlight back into space.

“If humanity maintains its current business-as-usual emissions path for the next 100 years, the resulting 4°C (7°F) of warming may be enough to cause highly reflective stratocumulus clouds over the subtropical and tropical oceans to disintegrate, resulting in an additional 8°C (14°F) of warming, according to research published in February. The resultant “Hothouse Earth” climate, 12°C (22°F) warmer than pre-industrial levels, would be enough to melt all ice on the planet, raise sea levels by over 200 feet over a period of centuries, and produce heat waves too hot for humans to endure outdoors for over half of Earth’s population (as currently distributed.)

I love the optimism of scientists, don’t you? Because a) what if we hit not 4C, but 10C, on current trend, as forecast by “Sam Carana” above, possibly even in the next decade? Add 8C to that, and Venusians start to feel at home.

And b) long before it gets “too hot for humans” we will have suffered global socio-economic collapse, even assuming we can still produce food in underground farms and laboratories, requiring a huge energy supply; and, potentially, nuclear exchanges escalating from unsustainable conventional resource wars. While on the principle of co-extinction of species, with another million on the UN’s danger list humankind will be long gone before we drown.

Start saving now

A team of British, European and US researchers have been looking at the probable cost of various warming scenarios, based on the aim of the outdated Paris accord to keep warming “well below” 2C. Given the likelihood of non-linear warming caused by feedbacks such as Arctic “blue ocean” and consequent methane release, they estimate that if warming can be kept to 4C by the end of the century, the cost to the global economy by then will have been $2,197 TRILLION.

One tipping point frequently quoted is the loss of winter sea ice leaving the Arctic ice-free in summer, the darker water absorbing more heat. Thomas Krumpen of the Alfred Wegener Institute warns that an important current that helps to distribute new sea ice across the region in late autumn, known as the Drift, is becoming weaker and more erratic. It’s estimated too that 50 years ago, the Greenland ice sheet was losing 47 billion tonnes of ice annually. It’s now 290 billion tonnes. The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

Lloyds of London made a $1 billion loss in the last year on insured disasters, while Aon Insurance estimates March alone’s extreme weather events cost the world economy $8 billion. Of course, the majority of disaster zones in poorer countries experience far greater uninsured losses.

(All taken from an article in Floodlist crediting Climate News Network, citing various papers)

La la la la la…

According to a major international survey, 17% of Americans believe that “the idea of manmade global warming is a hoax that was invented to deceive people” (54 million people!) 13% thought the climate might be changing but humans are not responsible. (Guardian, 8 May)

America has the highest proportion of climate change deniers in the world: of those who describe themselves as conservatives, over 52% said they believe in the hoax theory.

Coincidentally, it also has the largest per capita carbon footprint. (Followed closely in both categories by its friend, the oil nation of Saudi Barbaria.)

Of course, for it to be a hoax would improbably require the covert participation of thousands of trained researchers with actual PhDs across dozens of countries and institutions, producing peer-reviewed papers over many decades, going back to the late C19th.

There would also have to be some point to it.

To believe it to be a hoax would require the brand of logic that says you can go on pissing in your bath water forever and it won’t overflow or turn yellow and smelly.

The kind that can’t manage to balance objectively the likely gain to the shareholders of the coal, oil and gas industries of continuing denial, against any conceivable gain to the broader scientific community from continuously lying to people.

For it to be thought of as a hoax requires only a large enough number of poorly educated, self-interested, contrarian twats with their heads up their arses, plus a few million dollars worth of propaganda from the Koch brothers and Exxon-Mobil.

Plus, of course, the word of the least intelligent, most ignorant – most unqualified – president in US history. A trustworthy source who has otherwise made up more than ten thousand well-attested lies in 27 months.

Sure, it’s a hoax.

 

Justice is blind

“Today Anna Sorokin will be sentenced in New York for masquerading as Anna Delvey, an extravagant socialite. Sorokin bankrolled an implausibly lavish lifestyle with tens of thousands of dollars she swindled from banks, hotels and friends who believed she was a wealthy German heiress.” (Guardian)

For over 30 years, a person has been going around New York masquerading as “Donald Trump”, a billionaire businessman and glamorous playboy. In that time he’s cost the US taxpayer half a billion dollars, stiffed his workers and suppliers, refused to pay bills, groped women, accepted money from gangsters, imported and employed undocumented labor. He bankrolled an implausibly lavish lifestyle with tens of millions of dollars he swindled from banks, threatening to sue them if they asked for their money back.

He’s not going to prison at all.

That is…

While the Democrats in the House of Representatives have been battling the Justice department in vain to get hold of the unredacted Mueller report, judge Amy Berman Jackson, hearing the case against Trump crony Roger Stone, has issued a court order requiring the DoJ to hand over redacted material relating to Stone’s prosecution.

Lawyers have agreed, they cannot refuse. The material is due on Monday. Other judges are now making similar orders and may soon join the ranks of the few people in the USA who have been allowed to view all the material Trump’s tame Attorney General Bill Barr has blanked out and is refusing to let legislators see.

While, in case anyone is still clinging hopefully to the last few shreds of possibility that Trump is not the most corrupt president in US history, Bloomberg is reporting that the Chief Counsel at the Internal Revenue Service, the man who is blocking lawful Congressional demands for the release of the President’s tax returns – those bits that have not already leaked – and whose appointment was railroaded through the Senate confirmation hearing on the personal order of the President, was formerly for a time a tax advisor to… The Trump Organization.

No conflict there, then.

 

Donald and the magic money machine

Look, I know you just want to get on with your life, but this is bugging me. Has been for three years now.

What is he so scared will come out of his tax returns, that his dim Treasury Secretary, Grinning Steve “call me Stephen” Mnuchin is prepared to go to jail for, being as he is in contempt of Congress for refusing to allow a lawful request to the head of the IRS – himself a barely qualified Trump appointee – to release them?

Why is Trump fighting like a cat in a sack to prevent anyone knowing about his finances? It’s a perfectly accepted thing, every new president and senior government official, every candidate for high office has to ‘fess up, but he absolutely will not.

Just yesterday, the good ol’ New York Times financial people have reported, they’ve managed to get hold of a series of basic Internal Revenue Service documents, just the annual listings of their top and bottom wealthy taxpayers, just a headline thing with no details.

From which, it appears that for about 10 years in the 1980s and 90s one Donald John Trump, hugely successful and flamboyant billionaire businessman, paid a small amount of tax in only two of them.

In the other eight years, he managed to LOSE a total of $1.17 bn, thus avoiding tax on his business and personal revenue – which he basically believes are one and the same thing.

Now, we recall, don’t we, the pre-election TV debate with Clinton in which Trump accepted that he paid next to no tax, and that was because he was “smart” – billionaire presidential candidates shouldn’t have to contribute a penny to the nation, patriotism (as Edith Cavell once said) not being nearly profitable enough.

It transpired that his accountant had declared a deductible billion dollar write-down, that sheltered him from income tax for several years. It was reported in the mainstream media at the time, but everyone seems to have forgotten about it until now, when this actual evidence has emerged. (And also since the accountant has been spilling it to the Mueller team.)

Now, I love a good conspiracy theory, so the clouds parted when I saw the Times piece today.

All the leftish TV pundits are speculating that this is what he didn’t want to come out, that instead of being the brilliant supermogul he pretends to be, the world’s greatest dealmaker, he is a totally crappy businessman whose dad bankrolled him to the tune of half a billion dollars, that he appears to have pissed away, and more.

But there’s nothing new in that theory, journalists who have followed Trump around with a shovel have been trying to tell people for years that he’s the phonus-balonus.

I’m looking at it from a more squinty angle, however.

WHAT IF…

The Times financial team has been puzzling over one entry.

It seems that at one point, Trump declared a special one-off receipt for $50 million in interest earnings.

How, they are asking, and from where could he have earned $50 million in interest when his businesses were making such huge losses?

Well, my friend over at The Pumpkin brightly suggests, over a pint or two, it’s about what you’d expect to earn in a year on a billion-dollars worth of deposits, no?

In the sober light of day, I’m sure there’s a perfectly innocent explanation. In the world of accounting, not everything is what it seems, not necessarily illegally so. There might have been a very good reason why such a large amount needed to be lumped all at once into the column marked “interest earned on investments”, like “We can’t get away forever with not declaring something”.

So, what if he didn’t actually lose that billion, and instead had salted it away somehow, somewhere, in dribs and drabs of fifty, a hundred or two hundred million at a time, and merely declared the money as lost?

Say, in fake bank accounts in Russia, where the regulators are probably piled in groaning heaps in corners? (Has anyone looked for accounts in the name of David Dennisovitch, I wonder?)

Or, say he had carefully crafted those losses, purportedly to creditors (whom he reputedly seldom pays) but actually to confederates? (Like energy, money can neither be created nor destroyed.)

And say those deposits might be the true source of his Russian loans to his leisure developments? (Other countries and banks may be involved). That he’s been lending to himself, laundering his own money outside the system?

If true, that would be a far stronger reason for Trump to want to keep Mr Putin happy by helping to bring down the West, as if found out it would see him eating porage with no salt for many lifetimes to come.

Those debts Trump supposedly owes, that Putin has supposedly picked up the marker for – well, so what, frankly? It’s not illegal to be a lousy businessman, it’s not illegal to borrow investment finance from Russian banks owned by Putin’s mates or the GRU, like his idiot sons have explained he does, although in many people’s view it ought to be illegal to build tacky golf resorts everywhere over people’s land. He even loses money on those.

But huge hidden deposits, concealed from the IRS? Like, those big “debts” he supposedly owes are actually his own assets?

Whoof.

Just speculatin’. Usually wrong, yunnerstan’. No head for finance, least of all this stuff. Too easily detected. Pure supposition. Probably not even possible. Just ignore.

PS Mr Trump has hit back, claiming he lost the money deliberately, in a financial game all successful property developers play (aye, it’s called “laundering money”…) Then he exerted Executive Privilege over Congress to prevent any further inquiries into the Mueller report, appointing a new law firm just to delay release of his financial records, resulting in a declaration of war from the Democrats, who have started contempt proceedings against Trump officials resisting lawful subpoenas to produce evidence the President fears will incriminate him further.

So far, it’s all proceeding along exactly the lines familiar to historians of the Watergate conspiracy.

What is he hiding? And why doesn’t anyone appear to know?

 

GW: going down a bomb

Europe: A storm undergoing rapid “bombogenesis” (drop in pressure) out in the Atlantic is forecast to bring high winds and torrential rain across the British Isles into much of NW Europe down to Spain from 8 May. SW France is expecting severe thunderstorms and “a tornado or two”. (Accuweather) So far, here on the ground the forecast seems to be a bit of an exaggeration.

Meanwhile, as central and southern Europe continues to shiver under an airmass straight from the Arctic, Spain and Portugal are expected to warm up rapidly at the weekend, with a +14C spring temperature anomaly peaking in the high 30s C (high 90s F) next week. (Severe-weather.eu)

USA: Heavy flooding continued inundating towns and farmland along rivers in the Midwest on Monday. The swollen Mississippi River breached levees and forced road closures and drove people from their homes as high water levels make their way downstream. More severe storms are forecast to trundle northeastwards from Texas towards the mid-Atlantic during the week. (Accuweather)

The Weather Channel reports, nearly 3,000 avalanches have been recorded this year in Colorado.

In brief

Indonesia: 1 person has died and several are injured, with some localized farming losses, after heavy rain caused a flash flood in Samosir regency, North Sumatra, 3 May. (Floodlist)

Australia: The city of Mildura in Victoria state was engulfed by a huge dust storm on 7 May, whipped up by 50 mph-plus winds.

Insurance industry research has shown that extreme hot days in Australia are now 80 per cent more common and extreme cold days 74 per cent less common than the long-term average. (ABC News)

Namibia: A state of emergency has been declared as drought grips the country for a third successive year. Over half a million people are said to have not enough to eat. (BBC)

Russia: sweltering in a heatwave, Moscow has again (twice last year) been battered by a massive storm, with lots of hail and localized flooding. High winds tore up trees and flipped cars.

 

Get it together, guys!

One possible factor behind the public confusion over climate change that the denier community has improperly exploited, is the apparent inability of the scientific community to act like a community and cross-refer data sensibly across the barriers of specialized disciplines.

As a for-instance, take the story above, that in some parts of Australia you’re more than twice as likely to get dangerously hot days now than you were, say between 1980 and 2010, which is usually taken as the long-term average. Nationwide, it’s about an 80% increase. Sea level rise around some parts of the coast is also an alarming 6 cm, although the news report gives no starting date for that, so it’s hard to evaluate the significance. (ABC News)

The research was done for actuaries in the insurance industry, who have therefrom concluded that by 2100, getting on for a million homes will become uninsurable.

It really ought to occur to these clever risk-analysts that if extreme temperatures and sea levels go on increasing at the reported rate, which given the corruption and inertia prevalent among the country’s simply appalling politicians they are bound to do, there won’t be anyone around to pay the premiums.

Australia will have become uninhabitable long before it becomes uninsurable.

And in a similar vein, this morning the UK Environment Agency has published its views on the nation’s flood preparedness, urging the government to spend a billion pounds a year on resilience measures and warning that coastal communities will have to be relocated – if the global average temperature rises by 4 deg. C.

The Agency has completely failed to comprehend what a rise of 4 deg. C in the average temperature is going to mean in terms of the extremes we should experience in the meantime. Especially if the theory holds up, that at 4 deg. C the oceans will lose their reflective blanket of stratocumulus clouds, leading to a rapid rise of a further 8 deg. C. So far, that’s only a theory.

However, there has been a tragic tendency on the part of risk analysts to think lineally, in terms of these artificial cutoff points: 1.5C good, 2C bad; “blue ocean event” – as if there is one state prior to the last ice cube disappearing, and a new state immediately following it. And as if Chaos theory does not predict any sudden change of state resulting from tipping points being exceeded.

Many gloomier scientists whose prognostications are so frequently ignored by governments, NGOs and the media, all of them with their own half-baked perspectives, have concluded that a rise of 5 deg. C is the point of extinction for the human race.

How well do we imagine we are going to cope at 4 deg. C – which is, after all, nearly 5C and likely in itself to double the rate of warming? What will be the effect on global food production? On our cities, sweltering in 45C, 50C heat in summer?

Wel, so long as our clever department is focussed entirely on the effects of sea level rise and heavier rainfall, we can’t take the holistic view of a drastically changing economy and potential system breakdown to put out a more meaningful report.

Let’s just knock back the values of coastal properties for now.

The Pumpkin – Issue 84: The War of the Words… It pours but it never arraigns… Is he insane or just monumentally stupid?… Filthy scumbag politics ##1-4… GW: and the beast goes on.

From humorist Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker, 6 May:

Trump Furious That Another Baby Is Getting All the Attention

The President is reportedly “seething with envy” and “furious” that another baby is suddenly getting all the attention, White House aides have confirmed.

“The choice is simple. We can stand up to this President in defence of the country and the constitution and the liberty we love, or we can let the moment pass us by. And we have seen what happens in other countries when they let the moment pass by. I do not know what Attorney-General Barr will choose. I do not know what my Republican colleagues will choose. But I am certain there is no way forward for this country that does not include a reckoning with this clear and present danger.”

 

The War of the Words

Thus, Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, declaring war on the Trump regime over its refusal to co-operate with House inquiries into the Mueller report, Barr’s lies and Trump’s taxes.

Nadler gave Barr two days in which to comply with requests for further explanation of why he fudged and lied about the report before he had even read it, but Barr failed to show up, saying he had better things to do. Democrats have held him to be in contempt, although no proceedings have been initiated.

A constitutional standoff is ensuing, with deadlines looming for more evidence and disclosure, the refusal of the White House to allow any now or previous staff to comply with Congress’ demands, and mounting numbers of Trump’s favorite distraction, pointless but time-consuming law suits pending.

It’s all a bit like the climate emergency, everyone knows it’s real but no-one really wants to think it so nothing is done. Doing something is an admission of responsibility for an unknown future that most people can’t imagine ever arriving. The Mueller report was utterly damning, but it’s easier to hang on to Barr’s lies than admit America is in the power of international gangster-capitalists, as evidenced by Trump’s hour-long suck-up phone call to Putin on Thursday – and to try to do anything about it by taking decisive legal actions, including arrests.)

So, Trump spokesmouth, Sarah Sanders has described Nadler as “pathetic”, and called for him to resign, while House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi has accused Barr outright of lying to Congress – an impeachable offence. “What could possibly be motivating the attorney-general of the United States to disrespect the constitution of the United States, the separation of powers, the right of Congress to know?” she asked at a press conference on Capitol Hill this week.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, reports The Guardian, has warned that Barr’s theory of Trump’s innocence, that he couldn’t be guilty of obstruction if there was no crime in the first place – a stance repudiated by vast numbers of legal specialists – puts the country on a “road to tyranny”.

And meanwhile, floppy-haired former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, who gave more than 30 hours testimony to the Mueller team, is under subpoena to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on 7 May. Trump has ordered him not to go, which looks to most observers very much like witness tampering as McGahn is no longer a Government employee.

Mueller however still is, technically. Thus Mr Trump is apparently within his rights to silence him. Which he is doing, ordering him not to testify on the grounds that Mueller owes him “two years” of his presidency back; while the Attorney General has declared the investigation is over, leaving 37 per cent of voters convinced of the president’s innocence.  With one bound, he was free.

Whether the war of words between the White House and Capitol Hill will descend into something even uglier this week will have to be seen: Republicans inevitably are accusing Democrats of conspiracy, while Trump, still under 16 other criminal investigations, clings to the Barr view that the Mueller probe was a waste of $34 million (unlike the $100 million bill for his golfing excursions) and just a “hoax”.

 

Carrington event?

Has anyone else been getting interference with their electronic communications recently? Like a lot of intermittent buzzing on the lines of their digital devices? Is it solar flares or just a Chinese conspiracy?

We need more information.

 

It pours but it never arraigns

370 former federal prosecutors have signed a letter saying Trump would be charged with obstruction if he wasn’t president – on the basis of the Mueller report.

While Trump honored his friend, Tiger “Tom” Woods, in the Rose Garden, Treasury Secretary Steve “Stephen” Mnuchkin was telling Congress he had no intention of honoring their legal subpoena to release Trump’s tax records.

And Attorney-General William Barr was refusing to release an unredacted version of the Mueller report even to top-level security-cleared specialists on the Congressional Security committee.

A massive constitutional crisis is brewing.

And all to protect the arch-criminal in the White House. Why would anyone do that?

Absolutely no inference of innocence is surely now possible. He must be arrested immediately.

But of course, no-one has the guts to do it. After all, he is The President!

These pathetic Americans and their worship of authority is repulsive to all free men. They would rather a filthy, lying criminal sat in the White House, continuing to commit treasonous offences, than have to admit to what they elected and drag him out in chains.

PS the “chains” metaphor is not a metaphor. It is a deliberate reference to the accusation that the undocumented migrants Trump uses illegally as cheap labor at his trashy golfing resorts are expected to work overtime for nothing.

Slaves.

 

Is he insane or just monumentally stupid?

Sunday, and Trump’s wee thumbs have been busy announcing three more things:

One, trade talks with China are going “historically” well. Another high-level delegation from Beijing with a caravan of 100 retainers is due in Washington shortly. Two, he is slapping new tariffs on another $200 million worth of Chinese goods, just to teach them a lesson. Three, he believes the tariffs are costing China bigly and are responsible for his great economic figures. (The latest tariffs announcement sent markets plunging again.)

The Washington Post is scratching its head today. Chinese consumers and industry do not pay the tariffs, American consumers and manufacturers do. The higher price is on the American side, not on the Chinese. Tariffs merely make exports less competitive, but in the case of trade with China there are, presumably, fewer American manufacturers competing in the first place as they make all their stuff, like Trump’s MAGA hats and Ivanka’s whatever, ego, in China, where their costs are now 25% higher. That is how tariffs work.

This has been pointed out, I imagine, to Mr Trump time and time again, and he still does not seem to get it.

Others may or may not have pointed out, too, to the Great Mind Without Which, that the Stock Market is not the economy, that job numbers always uptick in the spring, that low unemployment is a curious feature of the generally sluggish global economy currently – we have record employment here in Britain too, despite all those immigrants – that the increase in jobs began under and has continued rising since Obama, and that (doubtless, economists will start to realize) hugely costly extreme weather events in the US, floods and wildfires have contributed mightily to that 3.2% GDP growth, that Trump’s capricious trade and immigration policies have actually cost tens of thousands of blue-collar jobs* and that his fiscal policy has benefited, literally, only the top 1% of the population, taxes having actually increased for the “squeezed middle” majority who may soon also be losing all or much of their entitlement to insured healthcare.

Meanwhile, in another tweet Trump blasted the New York court for initiating an investigation into financial improprieties at the National Rifle Association. The NRA put around $70 million into his and the Republicans’ 2016 campaign and he’s clearly concerned they may not be able to repeat the trick this time.

No-one seems particularly concerned that $30 million of that general political spending came allegedly from donors in Russia, thanks to the efforts of the spy, Maria Butina, who infiltrated the organization and is now serving an 18-month jail sentence. Otherwise, says The Guardian, the NRA has announced financial losses of $64 million. In other words, their political campaigning to ensure that Second Amendment rights keep the dumbfucks buying their beautiful AR-15s has all-but bankrupted them.

The Pumpkin expects, however, that the American people will notice that here is yet another egregious example of Trump’s utter disdain for the rule of law.

It is far from the only time Trump, himself an “unindicted co-conspirator” facing 16 separate criminal investigations, has blasted the Justice Department for licensing police enquiriess in cases of suspected criminal activity, merely on the grounds that he personally doesn’t think the suspects have done anything wrong, that he doesn’t approve of or that doesn’t benefit him.

Five more years!

 

Mueller-heavy

Former CIA man turned author and TV pundit, Malcolm Nance – who says he has read it twice – makes a great point about the Mueller report.

It didn’t even start to look into whether or not Trump is a compromised Russian asset, and what his financial relationships are with Russian banks. It focussed purely on the issue of collusion.

Having previously taken a cavalier attitude to the prospect of Mueller testifying to the House Judiciary Committee, Trump is now panicking and has attempted to order Mueller not to attend.

*ProPublica reports that compared against Trump’s claim that he has created 8.9 million new jobs since taking office, when carefully examined the actual figure (attributable to his policy of interfering in corporate decision-making) is 792.

The Washington Post reports, the cost of ‘new’ jobs in the steel industry thanks to tariffs has been $600,000 – each.

 

Filthy scumbag politics #1

“Former White House chief of staff John Kelly has joined the board of a company that operates the largest facility for unaccompanied migrant children in the US.

“CBS News reported on Friday that Kelly is now a member of the board of directors at Caliburn International, the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services. The latter is the only private company operating migrant shelters. (Yes, Trump has found a way to monetize his filthy crimes against humanity.)

“Kelly previously oversaw the implementation of Donald Trump’s hardline immigration practices while serving as the department of homeland security secretary during the first six months of the administration. He then served as Trump’s chief of staff from July of 2017 until his resignation last December.

“During his time at the White House, Kelly was a forceful advocate of restricting even legal immigration and supported the president’s policy of separating families at the US-Mexico border.”

(The Pumpkin apologizes profusely, he has lost the reference to this extract.)

A 3-star general, supposedly a man of honor, now profiting not only from his former position but from the misery and terror of hundreds of fleeing families, child abuse, General Filthy was imported to the White House as one of the “adults in the room”, a Chief of Staff who would restrain Trump’s wilder and more baseless impulses.

And so it proved, for a while at least.

Within months, however, he went native and, after a shameful public spat with a Florida congresswoman in which he accused her falsely of lying about comments Trump had made to one of her constituents whose husband had been killed in a terrorist ambush in Niger, and seemed instead to traduce the memory of his own son, killed by an IED in Afghanistan, he was reported to have remarked that even very young childen separated from their mothers at the border were being taken “wherever”, as if he really didn’t care.

He subsequently lied on many occasions that he had nothing to do with the policy, which has led to more than 1500 children going untraced, possibly never to be reunited with their families. But that’s okay, because they are, according to Kelly’s master, only animals.

And then he had the gall to joke that working at the White House was the worst job he had ever had.

What a fucking corrupt, lying little monster this decrepit apology for a man has turned out to be. And how true it is, that everything and anyone Trump touches turns to shit.

 

 

Jacob Wohl is an American far-right conspiracy theorist, fraudster, and internet troll. He was formerly an online blogger and a columnist for the website The Gateway Pundit. (Wikipedia)

Born: 12 December 1997 (age 21 years)

Parents: David Wohl

Filthy scumbag politics #2

“Bumbling conservative provocateur Jacob Wohl pitched investors this spring on a scheme to use fraudulent news stories to manipulate political betting markets, according to a fundraising document obtained by The Daily Beast.

“The document indicates that Wohl attempted to raise $1 million to fund the Arlington Center for Political Intelligence, which he claimed would ‘make shit up’ to profit from bets on political races and would suppress Democratic turnout in 2020.”

I feel sure investors seeking a sound home for their hard-earned savings would jump at the opportunity to “make shit up”, it improves the smell of money 100 per cent.

The Beast also reported:

“Last November, Wohl and GOP lobbyist Jack Burkman were involved in a botched attempt to smear Special Counsel Robert Mueller with trumped-up sexual-assault allegations. Their press conference turned comical when the purported victim failed to show up … the woman … later accused them of making it all up.”

To carry the scam out, Wohl created a false-front online organization of made-up former intelligence officers, all of whom turned out to be himself.

Young Mr Wohl’s masterstroke was the conspiracy theory that a Democratic staffer, Seth Rich, who died after a street mugging, was in fact murdered on the orders of Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta, to silence him over the other conspiracy theory, that they were operating a pedophile ring out of the (non-existent) basement of the Comet PingPong cafe popular with Democratic staffers in Washington. 40% of Americans polled said they believed it.

Then there was the speech he gave at the CPAC Conservative conference, in which he claimed Democratic Muslim congresswoman, Ilhan Omar was married to her own brother (TYT), and many other scams of the kind, designed to wreck people’s careers and lives and to so muddy the waters that Trump shoots through the sewer into another four years of profitable mayhem.

So, what has this nasty little piece of attention-seeking Trumpian excrement scraped from the bottom of the Golden Bowl been up to now?

Well, the Daily Beast reports, he has been going around, propositioning gay young Republicans to testify falsely that they were sexually assaulted by Pete Buttigeig, the openly gay Democratic candidate hoping to run in the primaries for the 2020 election. But they caught him on tape.

When his first mark refused to co-operate, Wohl wrote a tweet apparently on behalf of another young man, and when that guy tried to recant, he got his dad, David Wohl, to post it on his Twitter account. (Little Jacob is banned from the platform).

The victim, college student Hunter Kelly recorded part of the conversation. He has since had to go on Twitter himself to deny that he made the allegation, but not before it was already widely circulating on alt-right media.

Many people are asking why the little shithead Wohl isn’t in prison, as so much of what he is doing involves making up the same kind of false criminal allegations as almost got TV actor Jussie Smollett banged up last month over inventing a racist attack, although that case was dropped.

In the post-truth era, it’s getting harder and harder to get justice or recantation against the liars. They just make more shit up, and on we all go, in a foul-smelling cloud of unknowing.

The FBI is apparently looking into it, but slowly. Commentators warn, it’s only a matter of time before one or other of Wohl’s vicious conspiracy theories crosses the amplification barrier of Trumpian media like InfoWars, 4chan or Fox & Friends and makes it onto the agenda as a serious discussion on CNN or ABC, where it could achieve devastating credibility.

Prepare however for more of the same. The 2020 election promises to be the filthiest scumbag politics you will ever have witnessed or read about in history books. It’s only just beginning.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/jacob-wohls-business-plan-make-shit-up-to-game-political-betting-sites

 

Postscriptum, or filthy scumbag politics #3

Tweeting out more than 60 times in one day, poor crazy Mr Trump has intervened directly on behalf of his friend, the insane, bellowing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the antisemitic Black Nationalist Islamic leader Louis Farrakhan, the floppy-haired gay homophobe Milo Yannopoulos and other scumbag fascists whose Facebook accounts have been suspended for spreading hate speech and lies. CNN reported:

“The president shared more than a dozen tweets about the subject on Friday night and Saturday morning. And he conveniently avoided the fact that some of the banned users are extremists who make a living by deceiving their fans.

“His posts were a rallying cry, full of resentment toward Big Tech. He said “It’s getting worse and worse for Conservatives on social media!”

Not once has Mr Trump voluntarily breathed a word of criticism against these self-publicizing neoNazi vermin who have crawled out from under their rocks preaching fear and hatred and violence and lies ever since he got elected. He delights in enabling and promoting extremism and (most) acts of terrorism committed by white supremacists, which he knows excites his Evangelical base as they pray daily for the Final Battle against Islam, Armageddon, and the Rapture.

Oh, but then he bitterly lashed out at the Firefighters’ Union of America, whom he had been hailing as America’s finest only moments earlier, on National Firefighters’ Day, for endorsing the Democrat candidate, Joe Biden. Nazi extremists are many good people, but firefighters aren’t, apparently. In fact, he was pretty insulting. Hopefully they’ll let the White House burn, no-one in it needs rescuing, they’re all Heaven-bound.

Among the storm of his tweets, most of which attacked the Mueller probe, claiming total exoneration and demanding apologies from the “Left Wing Media” for ever doubting him, hailing his wonderful relationships with his friend Putin and the tubby little serial-killer, Kim Jong-un, praising the stunning miracle of “his” economy, that has brought more untold wealth to the top 1%, was this, for National Prayer Day:

“On this day of prayer, we once again place our hopes in the hands of our Creator. We give thanks for this wondrous land of liberty, & we pray that THIS nation – OUR home – these United States – will forever be strengthened by the Goodness and the Grace & the eternal GLORY OF GOD!”

Mad as a box of poisonous jungle frogs, and twice as dangerous.

 

Filthy scumbag politics #4

“A candidate to serve as an MEP for Nigel Farage’s Brexit party once praised a colleague for using a Nazi slogan in the European parliament and has a history of using vulgar and obscene language about women in social media posts.

“John Tennant, who according to polls is expected to win a seat in the European parliament as one of Farage’s three candidates in the north-east, also made references to being intoxicated and suggested that Liverpool fans were criminals.

“In other cases, Tennant made a joke in which he referred to sex acts involving a young girl.”

I’m going to assume for the sake of the rest that the report in The Guardian, based on excavation of Tennant’s fairly recent Facebook pages, is not just Fake Nooze cooked up to discredit this slimeball – one of many nutters Farage has attracted to his absurd single-issue party, for which the fish porters of Sunderland seem more than inclined to vote, imagining that it will soon form a government and raise their standard of living immeasurably, while restoring Britain’s greatness, sticking two fingers up at Froggy and lowering the price of fish.

A spokesthing for the soi-disant “Brexit” party dismissed the report as “low-grade stuff” and “offence archaeology”, which has at least made a welcome-ish contribution to our rapidly accelerating stock of neologistic figures of speech.

Assiduous readers across the media spectrum will of course recall that one of Nigel’s chief preoccupations while serving as three-times leader of the now alt-right, overtly racist fringe UKIP party, whose officers probably outnumber their voters, was kicking out members whose extreme views and insane statements were making the party unelectable.

Such is the calibre of the blowflies that Farage attracts around himself, that several controversial Brexit officers have already been politely asked to seek help elsewhere.

Nevertheless, despite the preponderance of self-seeking publicity whores like the preposterous former Tory MP, Ann Widdecombe, the polls are showing that Brexit has a decent margin and is expected to win – in the sense that in a multinational assembly, any single national party can win – the European Parliament elections at the end of the month.

(You know, the same European Parliament that relies for its existence on a functioning democracy which the well-expensed Farage wants to keep on pretending does not exist in relation to Britain’s interests, which he of course alone represents. How stupid exactly is the British electorate?)

Proving that too many British voters have become as ignorant, crass, self-centred and insensible – and as apparently indifferent to their own fate and happy to be screwed over by the very rich – as any MAGA-hat wearing cretin in the base of Trump’s dumbfucks.

 

GW: and the beast goes on

India: With winds gusting to 205 km/h, Cyclone Fani is officially the strongest storm to hit the Indian Ocean coast since 1999, with widespread flooding. Although weakening, the gigantic cyclone is pushing up to Kalkota and on into the Ganges Delta, in Bangladesh, where over 2 million people have been evacuated. 12 people are known to have died so far. Winds from the huge storm have extended far inland and are being blamed for blowing tents away at Camp 2 on Mount Everest. There’s a warning of heavy rains and snow as far away as Nepal. (Times of India) As Fani stalls only a few miles inland, The Weather Channel adds: “Updated surge guidance Friday shows the potential for around 4 meters (13 feet) of storm surge atop astronomical tides along the concave coast of far northeast Odisha state …”

Prof. Paul Beckwith of Ottawa U. reports, the track of Cyclone Fani (pron. ‘Foni’) was a highly unusual one, being a rare storm that started south of the equator where the northerly east-west Coriolis force falls to zero, and then somehow moved north and east.

Aftermath: The Indian government and the UN have praised the response to Cyclone Fani, the vast evacuation of around 3 million people in total, that kept casualties to a minimum. Even so, Al Jazeera reports, 21 people in India and another 34 in neighbouring Bangladesh were killed, and rescuers have yet to reach outlying communities.

USA: Believe it or not, more “Scattered severe thunderstorms will continue to flare up from Texas into parts of the mid-Atlantic through late week, producing damaging wind gusts, large hail and potentially a few tornadoes. Heavy rainfall from these storms could also trigger flash flooding. Rain and thunderstorms will continue to roll through the southern Plains Friday. A few strong to severe thunderstorms, along with locally heavy rainfall, will also move through the Ohio Valley into parts of the mid-Atlantic Friday.” (The Weather Channel).

Floodlist (Copernicus) reports, 4 May: 2 fatalities were reported in separate incidents in Oklahoma. Quoting the National Weather Service, the Illinois, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers are forecast to reach moderate or major flood stage at many locations. Parts of the Mississippi River have already reached record levels. ABC News reports more than 50 tornadoes touched down in 24 hours across Texas and Arkansas, tearing off roofs and bringing down trees. Central Texas also saw torrential rain, just about 10 inches over 24 hours in places near Austin. SkyNews 7 is reporting on rivers flooding as far east as Chicago. And ABC reports, another series of destructive storms is in the forecast for next week.

South America: Rescue teams in Bolivia are searching for 3 people missing in a landslide that occurred in the capital, La Paz on 30 April. Over 400 people were left homeless as houses collapsed. Many parts of Bolivia have seen higher than average rainfall during April. (Floodlist) 30 people died in events involving heavy rainfall in Bolivia between January and March.

Australia: a massive belt of storms pushing up through the SE into Queensland has dumped over 100 mm of rain in places. At the same time – remembering next month is midwinter in the southern hemisphere – temperatures up in the NW corner around Broome are in the high 30s C, high 90s F.

Various news outlets are reporting, a number of Australian cities are facing acute water shortages after years of drought. Many reservoirs are down to 50% of their capacity, close to the levels at which restrictions are applied.

Europe: “A very intense (and historically unprecedented for May) Arctic front is moving south across Europe this weekend (3-5 May) and is expected to bring unusually low temperatures, snow and dangerous frost into some vulnerable areas (as far south as North Africa) on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Some areas could experience morning temperatures well below zero, which would be potentially devastating for vineyards and agriculture. Overall, very cold days are expected across much of the continent through mid-next week, while it remains mild and warm across the Iberian peninsula.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Open letter to the BBC… Don’t impeach him, section him… Game of fucking Thrones…Huawei doing?… Oh, stuff that Gibson! #2… GW:  The rain it raineth, North Africa shivereth.

STOP PRESS: 02 May, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has accused Trump of attempting to override the powers of Congress, naming him as a dictator, and is threatening to have Attorney-General Barr arrested for contempt. “If we don’t stand up to this now, we risk being unable to stand up to any President in the future”, he warned, describing Congress as a separate but coequal branch of government to the White House.

 

29 April, 2019

To: Sir David Clementi, Chairman of the Board of Governors

Cc Ms Fran Unsworth, Head of News

Dear Chairman and Ms Unsworth

In your 7 a.m. main bulletin on Radio 4 this morning you carried an item about the resignation (for the second time, it is getting to be a habit) of Mr Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney-General of the United States.

In that item, your North America correspondent made the astonishing claim that the Mueller report had found there was no collusion or conspiracy on the part of Mr Trump with “Russia”, whatever that means, to interfere with the 2016 election.

That assertion is entirely disingenuous, as well your correspondent knows, being based only on a widely discredited summary opinion published in advance of the full report by the new Attorney-General, Mr William “Bill” Barr, who had been in office less than a month and who has admitted that he and Deputy Rosenstein HAD NOT READ the full report before reaching his conclusions in less than 48 hours. Mr Barr is now under threat of impeachment for contempt of Congress.

Barr was appointed by Donald Trump, his candidacy railroaded through the Senate, having fortuitously published a controversial 19-page “legal opinion” that a sitting President cannot be indicted for federal crimes while in office and that the Mueller investigation was a travesty; and came to the job (for the second time) with a dishonorable record of having exonerated the six convicted conspirators in the murky so-called Iran-Contra Affair, on the order of President Bush senior.

Your reporter explained that Mr Rosenstein had had differences with Mr Trump. The substantive difference, as recorded in the Mueller report, was that absent the recused Attorney-General, Mr Sessions, Trump obstructed justice by ordering Rosenstein to concoct a letter retrospectively giving him grounds for firing the Director of the FBI, James Comey, where no such grounds existed.

In that and many other respects, the Mueller report (available from Amazon, price £8.81) does not exonerate Mr Trump. Nor has Mr Rosenstein as Mueller’s supervisor been obliged to resign because it did, which was your reporter’s imputation.

Published in two parts, the first reveals that there was indeed very clear evidence of communication between officials in the Trump campaign and foreign elements including Russian intelligence operatives and persons close to the Kremlin, but that for reasons of withholding or destruction of further crucial evidence, and for lack of conclusive proof (apart from verbal testimony) that communications took place on the direct order or with the full knowledge of Mr Trump, it was insufficient to pass the high bar required to indict a sitting President.

The report however holds out the prospect of indictments should the President leave office before the expiry of the 5-year statute of limitations.

The second part of the report examines in great detail, ten separate counts of obstruction of justice – a federal felony – with regard to the Russia investigations, and found in each case that there was clear and sufficient evidence for the Justice Department to proceed with the investigation of the President; arguing that the Special Counsel’s office did not have powers to indict Trump on those counts.

In other words, Trump has not been exonerated, as he himself seems to believe and continues to protest. Far from it. While on the counts of obstruction, Barr has argued, he is not willing to prosecute – as if there was no indictable conspiracy the investigation was invalid and therefore there could have been no illegal obstruction of it. He is refusing all further requests from Congress to go back and justify this absurd opinion.

Under the local editorship of Mr Sopel, your news coverage of the Donald Trump presidency has been generally flabby, supine and uncritical; accepting almost routinely, the lies (also identified by Mueller) of the White House press spokespeople and Republican party apologists. None of the above has been reported here, to the best of my knowledge, leaving the British public almost entirely in the dark as to the true nature of the Trump presidency and the outcome of the inquiry.

Thus it is on the basis of healthy prejudice and suspicion alone that the vast majority of people will be demonstrating against his State visit in June, when we should be legally opposing the admission to this country of an indictable criminal. (I comment on this further in a footnote.) The American border force certainly wouldn’t let you or me in with this rap sheet.

Mr Mueller’s somewhat circumlocuitous conclusion was that there were NO evidential grounds for NOT prosecuting the President, whom he directly accuses of abuse of office – one of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” for which the Constitution provides the remedy of impeachment. The Washington Post has also seen a copy of a letter Robert Mueller sent to Barr last month, bitterly criticizing his false conclusions. Lying to the House Judiciary Commttee, Barr stated that he had not been aware of any discontent on the part of Mr Mueller.

I wish you wouldn’t lie to us too, Ms Unsworth.

In passing, I should also like to comment on interviews on the Today programme conducted by presenter Justin Webb and others, demanding (with the usual high-minded hypocrisy of its presenters) some declaration of contrition from organisers of the climate protests in London and elsewhere for the inconvenience caused to the public, before they were to be allowed to put their case.

Inconvenience! If you have grandchildren, you should say goodbye to them now.

There was no acknowledgement that I heard from Mr Webb or anyone, of the frankly disgraceful role the Today programme and BBC News in general have played over many years in helping to obfuscate and deny the gravity of the situation by inviting unqualified paid liars to “balance” the truth of what the scientific community has been trying to tell us for the past fifty years.

It is you who should be expressing contrition, as had your predecessors not adopted this scientifically illiterate, dishonest and disinterested editorial position for so long, there might be no necessity now for disruptive protest.

Only now can one detect a shift towards more open reporting of this globally most pressing issue; although you are still not giving the full picture. There are many scientists who believe the IPCC’s conclusions, on which all of your reporting (and even that of Sir David Attenborough) seem to be based, were seriously watered-down, and that we have already passed the irrelevant “1.5 degrees” target set by the now defunct Paris accord, depending on how you measure it; but we never hear from them.

Together with your preponderant use of ERG and other extreme pro-Brexit contributors, the ubiquitous Farage, and so on, an egregious lack of “balance” in your Brexit coverage that has not gone unnoticed, and because of which we have you to thank in part for the total debacle of the referendum result and its nationally humiliating aftermath, the BBC can no longer be considered a trusted source, certainly as far as this dedicated listener (70 this year) and sometime former News employee is concerned.

My belief is that your growing unhealthy and unnatural bias towards the far-right, or at least your craven obeisance to its spokespersons, is somehow rooted in Lord Hall’s fear of the Corporation being broken up by these people, should they come to power, and the parts sold off to private media companies. It is obviously an undesirable prospect but I wish you would find a more robust way of addressing the problem, than by continually misinforming and otherwise thoroughly confusing your listeners on key issues, through what Messrs Birt and Jay once called the “bias against understanding” which you might call “balance”.

Sincerely, etc.

Footnote:

As you are not reporting, Ms Unsworth, Mr Trump officially remains an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the matter of bribes paid illegally as election expenses to silence inconvenient women with whom he had extramarital affairs.

He is also being investigated by the prosecutors of the Southern District of New York in relation to numerous allegations of fraud, money-laundering and embezzlement. His so-called “inaugural fund” has a $45 million black hole, that is also being investigated. He has openly admitted doing favors for contributors to it. In addition there is a big question mark over why one part of Deutsche Bank continued lending him, in total over 20 years, $2 billion while other parts of the bank had him red-flagged as a serious credit risk and serial defaulter?

There is suspicion of illegal foreign donations to his re-election funds, one being linked to a massive $4.5bn fraud trial involving the former prime minister of Malaysia and a billionaire fugitive from justice whose interests in the USA are represented by lawyers and others linked to Trump, a story you haven’t reported; and of continuing Russian interference he refuses to investigate, insisting instead that there should be aggressive counter-investigations into justice department officials and political opponents. He has refused point blank to co-operate with Congressional subpoenas – itself further grounds for obstruction charges, and is suing to prevent the disclosure of his financial records and dealings with Deutsche Bank and Capital One.

Oh, I wonder why?

Failure to investigate those stories fully amounts in my view to a dereliction of duty on the part of your comfortably embedded Washington layabouts.

His placeman, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is openly hindering efforts by the IRS and the Congressional Oversight Committee to look into his tax affairs, which they are legally charged to do. Plugging his book, the BBC had the former Attorney-General of the SDNY as a guest on Today recently.  Preet Bharara was removed by Trump in one of his very first efforts to hinder or prevent inquiries into his businesses, the fake “Trump University”, by abusing his powers to manipulate juridical appointments, but you failed to ask him about that!

Questions have been raised too over the administration’s dealings with Saudi Arabia, especially over the economic blockade of Qatar led by the Saudis that ended with the investment arm of the Qataris’ sovereign wealth fund agreeing to bail out the loss-making property development at 666 5th Avenue, owned by Mr Trump’s special advisor and middle east envoy, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, to the tune of half a billion dollars; the secret sale of nuclear secrets and supply of nuclear materièl to Riyadh without Congressional oversight; the President;’s refusal to condemn the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the vetoing of a Congressional resolution to cease supporting the criminal war in Yemen.

Indeed, many of the self-styled achievements of his presidency seem designed purely to shelter Mr Trump from the multitude of inquiries and potential prosecutions he is facing, creating an impenetrable thicket of misinformation, misdirection and unprosecutable malfeasance through the alleged illegal shredding of documents and erasure of phone records; the manipulation and bullying of the media; the silencing by intimidation of potential witnesses; the corrupt favoritism towards political appointees and sympathetic jurists; the torrent of evident untruths (over 10,100 recorded to date), and the crude attempts to remove or weaken the constitutional checks and balances on his office by decree, backed by threats of violence from his supporters.

All of it enabled by a small coterie of corrupt Senators; a hollowed-out Executive branch, now led by belligerent avowed neo-conservatives continuing to pursue Cheney’s American Project for the 21st Century, and the shameful silence of the rest of the cowed Republicans in Congress.

This is not the behavior of an honest man; nor even of a tolerably dishonest politician: it shows the worst instincts of a dictator. Nor is your reporting of it (not since John Sweeney’s brave Panorama investigation of Trump’s connections to international crime syndicates) what one had come to expect from the formerly high standards of the BBC.

Do stop grovelling to these gangster-capitalists, whose shady backers have been doing their damnedest to undermine our wavering democracy too.

 

“This is scumbag politics of an altogether different dimension from anything seen since the 1920s.”

Don’t impeach him, section him

There is clearly no bottom to the reeking sewer President Trump’s diseased mind swims in.

At a scandalized, jeering and booing rally of his illiterate dumbfucks in Wisconsin last week, with a beatific smile on his face he accused the Democratic state governor of vetoing legislation that would protect full-term babies from being aborted post-partum in hospitals – something he knows perfectly well is already illegal and never happens.

He described in his slimiest voice, how the little babies would be born alive and the nurses would wrap them in swaddling clothes and care for them while the mothers discussed with the doctors how they were going to “execute” them (yes, he really said that!)…. You can watch it, if you have the stomach, on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2qit9nAOTo&t=99s

It was a further deliberate extension of his almost-as awful and completely untrue smear that President Obama initiated the brutal policy of separating babies and young children from their migrant mothers on the Mexican border, putting them in cages and shipping them to God-knows where, and that it was a policy supported by the Democrats.

This is filthy scumbag politics of an altogether different dimension from anything we have seen since the 1920s. (also see Post #775, today and into next week)

This disgusting, psychotic individual is so sick in the head, he should not be allowed anywhere near the levers of power. The count of the lies he has told while in office has now soared over the 10 thousand mark. Clearly demented, in view of his bizarre behavior and chaotic speech patterns, he needs to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, whatever is their equivalent, and removed to a secure psychiatric unit for his own protection and that of the planet.

 

Dissimulation Row

Spotting a small reduction in oil prices, Trump tweeted out to his fanbase that he had personally brought the price down by putting in a telephone call to OPEC. OPEC promptly denied receiving any such call, so Trump then tweeted out that he had in fact spoken to Saudi Arabia and told them to increase output.

Saudi Arabia has also denied receiving any such call.

 

Game of fucking Thrones.

Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones,  Game of Thrones,  Game of Thrones,  Game of Thrones,  Game of Thrones … Game of fucking Thrones.

Just how has this meretricious, made-for-TV sword-and-sex bit of nonsense managed to insert itself into every news webpage out there, with some – shame on you, Guardian – running endless commentary on every episode and plot-twitch, while normally sane and culturally high-minded liberal-lefty pundits rarely concerned with what’s on TV specials continually drop the names of the characters, likening them to the current crop of politicians and z-list celebrities, into their political and lifestyle columns, presumably to ingratiate themselves with the millennial market?

I for one am sick of hearing about it. It isn’t news! It isn’t real!

Neither your Uncle Bogler nor his colleague, The Pumpkin – nor, for that matter, your Old Granny Weatherwax – has seen the show, lacking as we do the necessary mental equipment to understand where it is to be found on our catchup media if it isn’t on the BBC’s iPlayer. Thus all references to it are meaningless. (We have been exposed to trailer clips.)

Nevertheless we suspect we should not enjoy it overmuch. Dr Who is about as far as we go in the interdimensional adventure line, we have already been forced to sit through all seven weeks of Lord of The Rings, thank you children, and we have not been brought up in the culture of computer game-playing from where we suspect GOT derives its tiresome and fanciful Dark Age tropes.

Whoever makes it is clearly rich enough to have bought up the entire media establishment, which as we know is desperate for money, cashing in on the general ennuie that nowadays greets every mention of sodding Brexit to fill the spaces between the public’s ears.

The real world is ghastly enough, thank you.

Please go away.

 

Huawei doing?

Readers may yawn and tell me again you’re not interested in American politics.

The reason I go on reporting this stuff is because the British media won’t. And imperious American demands that Britain submit to its rules and regulations are growing daily more strident.

To add to their insistence that we accept their abysmal food standards and reckless abuse of increasingly ineffectual antibiotics (you’ll even find them polluting imported US fruit!) and banned agri-poisons in exchange for a trade agreement that is unlikely to be played as a game of two halves on a flat pitch, there is now a threat to stop co-operating with our intelligence services if the government allows Chinese technology into the 5G mix.

While they’re claiming it will allow Chinese surveillance to flourish, the Yanks seem more relaxed about their own surveillance techniques, the built-in backdoor keys to encrypted communications, whose existence was revealed in the Snowdon document leaks. And, of course, Trump’s protectionist policies are playing in. If we don’t buy from Huawei, who else are we going to buy from? Oh, right, Cisco.

The FBI and the CIA and the NSA are not going to stop relying on our GCHQ global communications intercepts, it’s a bluff. They wouldn’t dare risk another interdepartmental cock-up like 9/11, not now IS’s Abubakar al-Baghdadi has apparently surfaced in the wake of Sri Lanka with a threat to continue the war on more fronts than before.

(Btw, there’s no reason I can see to assume the video is genuine. Analysts are fairly sure it is, although al-Baghdadi was thought to have been killed in a drone strike two years ago and it seems unlikely or deliberate, if he survived, that US intel has been unaware of where he’s been holed up since.)

But this 5G business (whatever 5G is – I feel sure my fridge has no desire to talk to my curtains) seems to be yet another instance of brash and arrogant American exceptionalist bullying that bodes ill for our post-Brexit relationship.

Hopefully it doesn’t come to one.

 

Guitar bore alert

Oh, stuff that Gibson! #2

Gibson are back! trumpets the email that greets me this morning from Peach Guitars, who have been force-fed with a page of email ad-stuff by the soi-disant music business.

Gibson’s reputation as America’s leading guitar brand has suffered dreadfully in recent years through the YouTube videos of guitar bores scornfully addressing their dreadfully patchy quality issues and demoralizing management style.

It’s a page that would, if clicked on, rapidly convert into more pages of web stuff, glossy photos, specs, videos. But I don’t succumb to its blandishments.

“New leadership, new specs, new price points!” Is the headline. Well, Gibsons have long revised their price points every year to dizzyingly unrealistic heights, so we’ll gloss over that. Price points is hardly a positive marketing USP in a world of guitar brands competing to be the most ludicrously expensive. What benefits new leadership will bring, only time will tell. It hasn’t brought many in the past.

As for new specs, well, the collection of images reveals, I’m afraid, just the same two basic designs they’ve been churning out since the 1950s, the Les Paul single cutaway solid, a chunk of twang made of some unearthly heavy substance, and the familiar twin-crescent horns of the SG range. No semihollow jazzboxes are included as yet in the religious revival, but they screwed those up last time, so.

The words “traditional”, “tribute”, “standard” and “classic” feature strongly in the wording of the email, indicating that if any new specs have been introduced, they will not be allowed to get in the way of this venerable company’s familiar patronizing drone.

How one is expected to get excited about this is anybody’s guess.

I turn with a yawn to other things.

 

Crazy Optimism Corner

The Four Seasons care home chain has gone into administration, after two of its backers pulled out.

“Group medical director Dr Claire Royston commented: ‘It marks the latest stage in the group’s restructuring process.'” (BBC News)

I wish I’d thought of calling it that when my business went bust. It seemed more like a human tragedy at the time.

 

GW:  The rain it raineth, North Africa shivereth

Mozambique: Remnant cyclone Kenneth continues to hang around over the north of the country, dumping around 3 inches of rain a day on already flooded parts of the country and on Tanzania to its north. 42 people are known to have died and 20 thousand are in emergency shelters. Thousands of hectares of food crops have been lost, while flooding on three major rivers has yet to peak.

Indonesia: Excessive monsoon rains have caused casualties and flooding over a wide area. Heavy rain from 26 April caused major flooding and landslides in Bengkulu Province on the southwest coast of Sumatra Island. 29 people have died, 13 are missing and 2 seriously injured. Reports indicate heavy livestock losses and widespread property and infrastructure damage. Deadly landslides also occurred in Lampung Province where 6 people were killed on 27 April. Parts of West Kalimantan have also seen heavy rain over the last few days, increasing the likelihood of flooding and landslides. Ketapang recorded 160 mm of rain in 24 hours to 28 April. At least 2 people have died in floods up to 2.5m deep around the capital, Jakarta. (Floodlist)

Canada: Calgary, Alberta experienced a very late Spring blizzard, being blanketed with up to 7 inches of snow over the weekend, and temperatures plunging to -6C. Something of a surprise, for, as Global News reported a little over a month ago, Calgarians were celebrating the return of warm weather and being warned of the flooding danger from rapid snowmelt.

USA: Golfball-sized hailstones interrupted traffic near Wink, Texas yesterday as The Weather Channel forecast: “Severe thunderstorms will flare up in parts of the Plains states through midweek with hail, high winds, tornadoes and flooding rainfall. Showers and thunderstorms will persist in parts of the Plains through Tuesday morning and strong winds and an isolated brief tornado cannot be ruled out.” Flood warnings have been issued across a wide swathe of territory up into Missouri as daily rainfall totals of 3 inches or more on already saturated ground are anticipated. Meanwhile, peak flooding on rivers flowing south from the record spring snowmelt is expected later in the week and on into May.

India: Out in the Bay of Bengal, Tropical Cyclone Fani has the potential to cause trouble in eastern India and perhaps Bangladesh toward the end of this week, reports The Weather Channel. “As of Monday, Fani was a tropical storm with sustained winds of 65 mph. Fani was located about 480 miles southeast of Chennai, India, moving northwest at about 9 mph. An eye was already becoming evident in microwave imagery on Monday morning. Conditions will be nearly ideal for Fani to strengthen over the next couple of days, and a period of rapid intensification is very possible.” There are naturally fears that a deadly storm surge could funnel up into the Ganges delta.

Update: 30 April, coastal Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu provinces are on high alert as Cyclone Fani intensifies, with central windspeeds of over 200 k/h. 800 thousand people have been evacuated from coastal towns (NDTV).

Europe: Severe-weather.eu reports: “A very extreme and rare early May Arctic cold outbreak is shaping up for a large part of Europe this weekend. A potentially dangerous pattern establishes a strong meridional flow of very cold Arctic air far south across western and central Europe towards the deep south Mediterranean and North Africa. Temperatures from May 3rd to 7th will be much lower than normal for this time of the year with a high risk for severe damaging morning frosts across many parts of east, central, western Europe and Balkan peninsula through Sunday to Wednesday.” The potential for large-scale losses of commodities like grapes, citrus fruits and olives seems inevitable, GW adds.

The greenhouse: Arctic News reports, current daily CO2 levels approaching 415 ppm far exceed anything measurable since the previous peak of 285 ppm, 300 thousand years ago. Methane at ground level has increased since 1750 from 720 ppb to around 1870 ppb today (more at altitude) and nitrous oxide is 122% higher than in 1750 (2017 figure), with huge releases currently in Antarctica. As well as being a heat-absorber, N2O is also an ozone-killer.

Yellowstone: The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, USGS scientist Jacob Lowenstein let slip at a convention last week, they’re expecting the Big One. Meantime more earthquake swarms have been detected (but many not reported) in the caldera at reducing depths, ground temperature is still rising, along with the ground itself, and more magma is coming into the upper layers of the chamber, circulating like a lava lamp. A M6 quake should be enough to set it off, says Lowenstein. The area was hit by a M7 in 1973 – ten times more powerful than a M6. The last supereruption was 630 thousand years ago but there have been many smaller incidents since.

 

Killed by irony – an occasional series

The BogPo has a small fascination for people who die in the most ironic of circumstances.

Close to home, then, is a report of the death of one of my local councillors, Mr Paul James, ironically killed in a road accident while out training for the sponsored cycle ride he was organizing, to raise money to thank the local hospital staff for saving his life after a heart attack last year.

 

Credulous medieval cretins corner

Health workers and police have been murdered and mobs have set clinics on fire in Pakistan, after a man posted a video claiming a polio vaccination campaign was making chuldren ill. He is seen in the video ordering schoolchildren to lie down and pretend to be dead.

Dude, why are only 59 million people reading my stuff?… Miss you, Mr Mercer… AI-up, robots!… GW: Kickin’ up a storm… Fracking hell.

Quote of the week

“Americans think of themselves first, second, third, fourth, fifth – and if there’s any time left over they think about Americans” – Brazil’s ex-President, Lula da Silva, interviewed in prison, questions Bolsonaro’s deeply unpatriotic love of America.

 

Phenomenal BogPo Prophesies Corner:

A new poll (28 April, 2019) has shown that a three-quarters majority of the British voting public, half whom voted on 23 June 2016 to Leave the EU, now agree that the referendum was a stupid idea in the first place. But here is what your Uncle Bogler wrote in a Post (“Calling in the receivers”) on 24 FEBRUARY, 2016:

“On the morning after he loses and the receivers take over the business, Mr Cameron will announce the closing-down sale of GB plc – henceforth Britain will be available only on-line.

“Within minutes, all the people who couldn’t previously be bothered just because Europe was always there will start flocking to the Channel Tunnel and Heathrow airport, demanding in broken French to be let out before the iron gates clang shut for the last time and all the remaining unsold stock is shipped out to depotland. Sales of garlic, berets, bicycles, Johnny Halliday records and funny sausage will soar.

“I predict, once we leave the EU we will all become much more European.”

And the fatuous Mr Trump boasts of how he cleverly predicted a Leave vote – on 22 June, 2016. Bollocks to him, frankly.

 

Dude, why are only 59 million people reading my stuff?

If anyone has not yet grasped the scale of Trump’s jawdropping narcissism, the following report from CNN, sourced in part to the Washington Post, and also commented upon on YouTube by the wonderful Mike Malloy, will give you some idea. I have provided a mixed account:

“President Donald Trump met with (i.e. he summoned to the White House) Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey on Tuesday, hours after Trump erroneously accused the social media company of “discriminatory” behavior toward conservative users (i.e. himself). The meeting included (in fact it almost exclusively concerned. Ed.) a discussion (more of a tirade, probably) about the disappointing size of Trump’s (59 million) Twitter following (which, he claims, is being deliberately suppressed for political reasons). (He also complained that President Obama has over 100 million Twitter followers, nearly twice as many as he does and all clearly fake.)

Dorsey had to explain to the Tangerine Wunderkind that if accounts are being blocked or taken down, it is invariably because they are abusive and hateful or threatening and don’t meet the guidelines.

“After the meeting, Trump tweeted a photo and wrote, “Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general.”

The fatuous chump has also revived his insane excuse for being elected president, that Britain’s GCHQ was spying on him on the orders of President Obama, on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Nevertheless, he is forcing himself on us with a State visit; HM Queen offering an irresistibly glitzy photo-op to exuberate his post-Mueller dumbfucks.

Give us a break, Donald.

 

“How vain and incurious does anyone have to be, to accept when someone offers to pay them £350 an hour, just for the use of their name?”

“Miss you, Mr Mercer” – with any luck

From BBC News, 24 April:

“A company that marketed a failed bond scheme that lost savers £236m has been funding an MP’s private salary. Johnny Mercer receives £85,000 from Crucial Academy, a company ultimately funded by Surge Financial Limited … (which) took 25% commission for marketing bonds (issued) by London Capital & Finance (LC&F), which is now in administration. Mr Mercer – who is facing calls from investors to quit as an MP – said he had done nothing wrong.” (Mr Mercer denies that Crucial Academy receives funding from LC&F.)

Is everyone totally blindsided by, say, Brexit, Trump, Greta Thunberg or the difficulty of getting through central London over the supergluey bodies of climate protesters?

Your Boglmeister, I have previously pointed out that London Capital & Finance may well turn out to be the most glaring example of a Ponzi scheme since Bernie Madoff started his several lifetimes feasting on all porridge and no molasses. Sadly, no such fate may befall the directors of LC&F, but we shall see.

With unbelievably crude deviousness, a number of companies appear to have been set up behind the brass plate of Surge Financial Limited, apparently by this Mr Paul Careless, a perfect case of nominative determinism, at the forefront of which was LC&F, which advertised – using a Brighton-based agency called Surge, also owned by Mr Careless, on a quite desirable budget of £60 million, which would buy a few Porsches – unregulated investments returning an improbable 8%, mainly to gullible old pension holders whose stored-up pots of dosh were freed from restrictions by the previous Tory Chancellor, George “Eight jobs” Osborne, prior to his departure in 2016.

The funnel-mouth of London & Capital was then, one gathers from reports, used to suck in investors’ cash to finance all of the directors’ subsidiary companies, money seemingly not Carefully invested in other stocks or mutuals offering competitive terms. It looks like precisely the sort of rapacious operation financial pundits were warning would set up shop in the wake of Osborne’s free-market policy, to separate gullible oldies from their dreams of high-spec campervans and round-the-world cruises.

The breezily named Johnny Mercer MP, a litigiously engaging dimwit (he is suing the BBC for this) not to be confused with the actually rather clever late American songwriter of that ilk, already receives a salary close to £80 thousand a year from the taxpayer, plus £130 thousand Parliamentary expenses, so he must have been in dire need of the extra £85 thousand a year he gets from Surge – sorry, “Crucial Academy”, another company also owned by Careless and chums, that is, he claims, entirely financially independent of LC&F – that does wondrous good works, training Army veterans to survive in the world of employment.

Signed last year to add some small weight to the proceedings, Mercer is either another greedy political chancer or otherwise too naive a useful idiot to be an MP. I suspect it is the latter, judging by his yelping protestations of innocence – which can be understood, given that four directors closer to the center of operations have been questioned by the Serious Fraud Office. It certainly looks like he has been used as a patsy, to front-up what to others might seem a bit of a con.

A related business doing charitable stuff for Our Heroes is possibly the most obvious PR front for internal money-washing it would be possible to imagine – not that Mr Mercer, an ex-Army officer himself, would have noticed, as his role as a non-executive director occupies him for just 20 hours a month, and for what?

How vain and incurious does anyone not much in the public eye have to be, to accept when someone offers to pay them £350 an hour, just for the use of their name and face?

Crucial is only one of several subsidiary companies through which £236 million of investors’ pension funds and life savings seems to have “surged” like hot soapy water through champagne glasses in a dishwasher, and ultimately “Vanish”-ed down the plughole. (You’re fired. Metaphor abuse. Ed.)

What is so peculiar about this whole affair, however, is how the media – such as the BBC, whose reporting has illuminated this Post, and well done at least for bringing the story to light – and even Private Eye’s “Slicker” column is still portraying LC&F as some kind of genuine investment opportunity that has hit a patch of bad luck.

Of course it was a bloody Ponzi scheme! What else?

Wake up, BBC dimwits.

 

AI-up, robots!

In 1976, I sold my one and only ever published work of deliberate fiction, a short story for which I was paid a handsome £100.

You might be too young to remember the world in them days, like what I do, but there was no social media, no iPhones or Androids, no Google or eMail or Sky TV showing 40 channels of adult entertainment.

Not even the ubiquitous, clunky IBM desktop PCs that predated the thinline laptop computer and the incomprehensible phablet by more than three decades were yet much heard or known about outside academic circles.

In 1976, people didn’t go around annoyingly saying “like” or “cool” every other word, Game of Thrones hadn’t been mentioned in a plug even once. We’d been a member of the European Economic Community for less than three years, so our British Leyland cars still rusted to bits within months, no-one holidayed abroad in case of foreign food, and Britain’s bananas were still bent.

Nor was there yet Thatcher; except as the mean-spirited education minister who stopped the children’s free milk ration. (That’s the way to get to be leader of the Tory party.)

My story resulted from a sort of commission from the editor of Computer Age magazine, into whom I had accidentally run outside the dungeon headquarters of the London Broadcasting Company in Gough Square, just behind Fleet Street.

I was a journalist of sorts, working freelance, and Meyer Solomon had been a guest on a show from which he was recovering on the same bench, incidentally, where I also met Anthony Burgess. We got chatting, and I offered him five thousand words fresh hewn from my IBM “golfball” typewriter, without any idea at that stage of what they would be about, and he took my arm off, as they say.

“Hello, Mr Chips” emerged shortly thereafter, from my fertile brain.

The story concerned Kevin, a schoolboy with issues you would nowadays identify as autistic spectrum disorders – issues like ADHD and Asperger’s, that had no catchy names in those days. So incapable of benefiting from the standard socialized education model was Kevin, that he had to be excluded from school, and a special experimental computer program created to teach him.

Kevin becomes deeply upset and troubled, and runs away when it’s proposed that his beloved teaching computer should be replaced by an advanced model. However, returned to his home he is intrigued to find that his new Mark 11 teacher is a fully functioning android programmed with what we now know as Artificial Intelligence, AI, called Mr Chips (see what I did there?*).

And then – spoiler alert – in the final denouement, Kevin’s older sister, who has been eyeing him speculatively for a while, runs off and elopes with Mr Chips.

Which is where the story gets spooky, because 43 years then go by, I’ve spent the hundred quid, and a well-remunerated famous writer who is not me, sadly, Ian McEwan, publishes this week a shortform novel (his are never overlong), “Machines Like Me”, in which – as the Private Eye books reviewer tells me, I haven’t read it – “A couple acquire a synthetic human and a love triangle duly develops”.

On top of my advanced, Nostradamus-like prognostications concerning not only our modern understanding of spectrum disorders like ADHD, and developments in educational computing and dedicated robotics, but also uncannily prefiguring cases like that of the precocious 15-year-old “M.S.” (we’re probably still not allowed to mention her by name), a nubile student and her 30-year-old art teacher paramour, poor Jeremy Forrest, who might just be coming out of jail about now after serving half of a monstrously unjust sentence for kidnapping a minor (infatuated, she persuaded the nitwit to take her to France, where nobody batted an eyelid), the problem of exclusions from schools is also a hot topic today; although I hadn’t foreseen the kind of Tory cuts that would have made it impossible to supply Kevin with a broken abacus, let alone an android.

How cool was that?

I ought, I suppose, to be proud of my astonishing capacity to peer into the future in so many regards. However, even I was beaten to the presumptive threat of AI by Isaac Asimov (IA!), who cottoned on in the late 1950s to the notion that one day, computers would grow so sophisticated as to replace us; and indeed, predicted that a supercomputer would eventually replace God as the machine creator of a new universe, out of all the stored data of the old (thus prefiguring Google by 50 years).

Now, that was one hell of a story!

*For younger readers, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” is a 1939 British romantic drama starring Oscar-winning Robert Donat, based on a 1934 novella by James Hilton. The story concerns Chipping, a much-loved schoolteacher who recalls his career and personal life over the decades. It was voted by BFI members the 72nd best film of all time.

 

GW: Kickin’ up a storm

Mozambique: is being battered for a record second time in a month by a Cat 4 cyclone, Kenneth, with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph and a 4m storm surge. Latest, 28 April: Pemba, regional capital of Cabo Delgado state, has experienced more than 2m (6.5ft) of rain and flooding. The situation in the  towns of Macomia and Quissanga was critical, and there are also worries for the cut-off island of Ibo. Waves up to 4m high are also expected, and aid agencies fear rains will worsen over the next four days. 700 thousand people are said to be directly at risk.

Late on Wednesday, the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said she feared the region faced “another humanitarian catastrophe” following Cyclone Idai, which killed up to 1000 last month and left 2m in need of aid. There is no previous record of hurricane-force systems ever hitting the region so far north before, BBC Weather reports – let alone twice at Cat 2 or more in one season. Having already killed 3 people in the Comoros islands, the slow-moving storm is expected to bring 0.8m of rain to some areas of the country. (BBC News)

Uganda: “A storm that brought hail, strong winds and heavy rain to parts of eastern Uganda on 23 April has left at least 18 people dead and displaced around 900, according to local media. The storm hit during the early hours causing flooding in Buyende and Kamuli districts. As many as 140 people were injured, and houses and livestock severely damaged.” (Floodlist)

British Isles: are being battered currently by Storm Hannah, with 85 mph wind gusts, power cuts, big waves, heavy rain and fallen trees causing travel disruption. Yellow flood warnings out across the west of the UK. It’s quite late in the Atlantic storm season and some trees here have been stripped of their soft spring growth, their blossom, with fallen branches everywhere. (BBC)

Italy: Severe weather, including stormy seas and strong winds, affected parts of Italy from around 22 to 24 April. Heavy rain increased river levels in parts of Tuscany and Liguria. As of 24 April, at least 1 person had died and rescue workers were searching for 2 women swept away by the flooding Letimbro River in Santuario. Earlier, media reported that 1 person died in high waves along the coast of Porto Corallo on the island of Sardinia. (Floodlist) A low pressure ridge is bringing torrential rainfall, heavy hail and strong winds from the Balkans northeast as far as Russia. (Severe-weather.eu)

USA: Yet more “Severe thunderstorms hit northern and central Texas from 23 April, bringing strong winds, hail, heavy rain and flash floods. A warehouse near Bryan was destroyed. Dallas Love Field recorded 91 mm (3.6 in.) of rain in 24 hours. 3 people died when a vehicle was swept off a road by flood water in Erath County early on 24 April.” 1 person survived by clinging to a tree. More severe storms are forecast for the weekend. (Floodlist) After a warmer than average week, snow is returning to portions of the northern Midwestern states, with heavy rain and more flooding expected across the Great Plains. (The Weather Channel)

Canada: Around 8 thousand people have been forced to leave their homes in communiies near Montreal as flooding caused dikes to collapse. Communities in Quebec are on evacuation alert and the army has been called out as flooding emergencies are declared locally. Rising river levels are threatening the collapse of a large dam, Bell Falls, near Ottawa. Peak flow may not be for another two weeks and record levels are expected, thanks to the spring melt of an unusually large snowpack – while further major rainfall events are forecast. (Paul Beckwith) Prof Beckwith also reports on new research showing higher ocean temperatures are leading to stronger winds and rougher seas, bigger waves – so far by about 8% since 1950.

 

Fracking hell

The commissioner will be a contact point for residents, to listen to their concerns, refer them to relevant and factual research and help improve communication with regulators and industry. – YouGov website

Former Labour MP, Natascha Engel was appointed as Britain’s “fracking tsar” six months ago, by the business secretary, Greg Clarke. Today, she has stepped down, complaining that over-regulation is stifling the nascent industry, making her job impossible; and that the government has allowed itself to be bullied by a “tiny minority” of noisy environmental NGOs that have profited at the nation’s expense.

It’s a clear case of what used to be known in diplomatic corps circles as “going native”, the total abandonment of any pretence at independence being considered quite a grave crime in the old colonial days.

Ms Engel’s resignation letter is quoted in today’s Observer. It will astonish anyone even vaguely familiar with the arguments against fracking – “hydraulic fracturing”, to give the practice its proper name:

“A perfectly viable and exciting new industry that could help meet our carbon reduction targets, make us energy secure and provide jobs in parts of the country that really need them is in danger of withering on the vine – not for any technical or safety reasons, but because of a political decision.

“The UK could be on the cusp of an energy revolution the like of which we have not seen since the discovery of North Sea oil and gas.”

Having worked in the PR and promotions business for a few unexciting years, your Old Granny can vouch for the assiduous attention to her clients’ vanity found in Ms Engel’s copywriting efforts; assuming she wrote the letter herself. The fracking tsarina goes on to make further points in favour of this incredibly brutal and polluting method of extracting methane from shale deposits, for instance:

“Engel complained that a traffic light system that halts fracking when a tremor with a magnitude of M0.5 is recorded ‘amounts to a de facto ban'” – claiming that no other country, for instance the United States, sets such a low bar.

Would that a similar rule had been imposed in Colorado, then, where the number of recorded earth tremors in what was not previously known as a particularly active area has gone from three a year to over 800 since Mr Harold Hamm the Fracking King (net worth $14.1 billion) started operations 30 years ago; while their magnitude, their destructive power has steadily increased from below M1.5 to M5 and upwards.

Google supplies the following helpful note: “Beneath Britain the Earth’s crust is crisscrossed with ancient cracks, or fault lines, which are constantly under stress. … Tremors are not uncommon in Britain. Each year, the British Geological Survey (BGS) records between 200 to 300 separate events.” Indeed, a M4.2 was recorded in the Channel last year, and a Big One is not entirely unanticipated at some stage. The crude splitting of shale deposits under enormous pressure has already produced a number of significant earth tremors, which Ms Engel dismisses as “no more than the rumbling of a tube train” (I paraphrase).

Engel too is blithe to the evidence of rising methane emissions directly from fracking operations, methane being a greenhouse gas up to 100 times more infra-red absorbent than CO2, to which it slowly decays – and to the scientific fact that when you boil your breakfast egg, burning natural gas gives off CO2 and water vapour: both greenhouse gases.

She appears to be willing to ignore research conducted by her former party that sugggests fracking operations of the size envisaged in Britain would eventually produce an additional CO2 burden equivalent to another 289 million cars, instead suggesting that extracting and burning more fossil fuel will somehow enable us to meet our emissions targets sooner – a trope frequently employed by climate change deniers being that the CO2 produced from natural gas – methane – is somehow cleaner and better for us than that emitted from burning oil and coal.

Evidence also from the USA of grossly polluted and overextracted groundwater basins damaging agriculture and residential communities, of pipeline leaks and of methane gas seeping under pressure into domestic plumbing systems seems somewhat at odds with Engel’s wild claims for fracking’s positive impacts on local communities – evidence that is as yet nowhere to be found in the UK as fracking has had only limited success to date, operations being frequently halted as the M0.5 tremor limit has so frequently been exceeded.

Nor is her rosy vision of local communities welcoming the investment remotely in accordance with the facts.

What on earth is this silly woman up to? Has she not noticed that environmental protest is the flavour of the month?

Here again is the old “job creation” argument: fracking is good for jobs. (We already have record low unemployment, but carry on…)

The plain fact is, your Granny observes, that these capital-intensive engineering projects tend to rely on imported, specialized labour forces until they are up and running, whereafter they operate semi-autonomously on a routine service and maintenance basis, until they are abandoned and ultimately, one hopes, decommissioned. They do not create significant numbers of permanent jobs for local people in the deprived rural areas Engel refers to, from where the younger, employable pool of labour have mostly emigrated to the cities in any case.

By extension, her belief in the job creation possibilities of fracking produces a”£7 billion a year” economic advantage to the Treasury, money we could be spending on hospitals… er, ring any bells? The prospect seems doubtful, however, as much of the revenue will certainly be eaten up in tax rebates and loopholes, concessions enabling Cuadrilla to maximise its profitability through the early years. The £7 bn she claims we are losing could equally well be invested in non-polluting renewables, that will also produce a return for the Chancellor to spend on pothole repairs.

Your Granny notices too, several more inconsistencies in her lengthy missive. Engel boasts that Britain has the best regulated fracking industry in the world. Except that, she complains, regulation is preventing the industry from progressing and so she would like to see less! The process, she claims, is “materially no different” from other methods of hydrocarbon extraction. Then she goes on to try to explain why it is in fact very different, an entirely “new industry”, and much better for us… Make up your mind, deary.

It would be churlish, and probably libellous, to suggest that this woman’s future career prospects might be materially enhanced by her willingness to say these things that no self-respecting, right-minded ex-Labour MP ought to be saying, as they are at best highly controversial and on a bad day, according to independent experts, blatant industry propaganda. From what she writes, she appears to be arguing in favour of doing the maximum possible damage, both to the environment and to the fissiparous geology of the British Isles, merely for the short-term gain of a business whose interests she was supposed to be balancing against those of local communities; not that she was supposed to be blatantly promoting them.

That she has gone is a hopeful sign. That her departure might have some negative impact in a week when her old party boss, Mr Corbyn is hoping Parliament will declare a national climate emergency, is possibly not.

(Original reporting, Observer and various news media, 28 April)

Britain welcomes criminals of all kinds… You do have to be crazy to work here… Oligarchs at sea… GW: “A catastrophe of unimaginable proportions is unfolding” This week’s BogPo, for instance…

Thought of the day

“We are Buddhists, and we now meditate daily on loving kindness for our President. When we do, we recite the phrase, ‘May President Trump find the wisdom to resign.'”Susan L. Rhodes and Charles R. Schwenk, writing on OpenDemocracy.org

 

Quote of the century so far

“The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.” – Robert S Mueller, Special Counsel

 

Britain welcomes criminals of all kinds

The innocent Mr Trump is an unusual kind of criminal, isn’t he.

Most old lags have boundaries, moral and legal. They know the law as well as any barrister. That they repeatedly break the law is a choice they make, many of them because of the straitened social circumstances in which they got into trouble in the first place; because of the ease with which money can be made from crime, and because of an inadequate and underfunded criminal justice system based mainly on the punitive instincts of the public at large, egged on by the tabloid press, that traps them thereafter in a pattern of criminal behavior.

There’s a calculus of risk.

Rather than consciously break the law, Mr Trump, however, seemingly does not believe the law applies to him in any sense. He has made a life choice simply to ignore the existence of law; or rather, as in everything else, to regard his relationship with the law as a transaction, a set of circumstances that can be turned to his pecuniary advantage. And he seems to lead a charmed life: despite the voluminous evidence of his dishonesty and cheating, his criminal connections, we seem to have no answer to it.

It’s mostly a social thing with him too. If you start out at the age of three as a pretend-employee of your daddy’s company, on a very real tax-deductible salary of a quarter of a million dollars a year, there is very little that will impress upon you thereafter, the vital importance to the survival of humanity of mutual co-operation and occasional acts of altruism; or the benefits of thrift. And what is there to anchor you in the truth? Shifting facts become negotiable; denial is without consequence.

Subsequently as you grow up receiving $100s of millions in phony bailout loans from your dad, more tax avoidance stiffing the IRS for half a billion dollars in the process, the less you care about the origins of the wealth that flows like electricity through your projects and the more the culture of money-laundering becomes habitual.

Because tax avoidance strategies for the rich are, essentially, a legal form of money-laundering, whereby a taxable sum of money is passed through any of a series of special tax-free or low-tax vehicles, loopholes in the financial continuum designed to further enrich the rich, to emerge clean and whole, without loss, on the other side.

Why stop there, when at any one time over four quadrillion dollars obtained from who-cares-where is floating around the planet in free-fall, just waiting to be diverted into another superyacht complete with optional missile battery, or a mission to Mars? Compared with many involved in this financial merry-go-round, Mr Trump is small beer. Small beer, but with a planet-sized thirst.

Many witnesses and suspects interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team of bloodhounds investigating the story of Russian interference in the 2016 election have testified under oath, on pain of imprisonment for lying, that during and after the election Mr Trump routinely commanded them to carry out actions on his behalf, that were – to them – clearly illegal. Ordering an illegal act is, legally speaking, the crime of conspiracy.

The legality of Trump’s behavior changed, however, with the appointment of the Special Counsel. From that point on, every command the newly elected President gave that was directed at hampering, discrediting or otherwise removing the threat to his position that might have been created by an investigation designed to expose the true extent of foreign interference on his behalf would constitute a de facto obstruction of justice; a prisonable offence.

But what if the original offence he is said to have called for was never actually carried out?

American jurisprudence has been arguing for months around the question: if knowingly working with the Russians and their tool, Julian Assange’s Wikileaks, to influence American voters was not actually illegal – which for the most part it might not have been – then would the President’s attempts to make the investigations go away be obstructing anything at all?

While others wondered, why the intensive efforts to shut down the investigations if there was nothing to hide? Why did Trump staffers do nothing to reject the help they were illegally offered, and report the Russian overtures to the FBI? And why did the President declaim despairingly that his presidency was over, “I’m fucked”, on hearing that a Special Counsel had been appointed, if he was not aware of his wrongdoing?

(The answer being, that the President has a number of personal issues on the mental disorder spectrum that make it virtually impossible for him to concentrate long enough or sufficiently distance himself from his own solipsistic worldview to grasp the basic tenets of constitutional law, and has a decades-long history of making investigations into his suspicious financial activities go away, by one means or another. His obstructionism is purely instinctive.)

In most cases, it turns out, Trump’s people simply ignored his illegal commmands and carried on the already pretty filthy, but mostly lawful process of campaigning to get their man over the line, supported by billionaire disruptors seeking to destroy the whole annoying business of interfering government and messy democracy; while in the background, the Russian state’s foreign intelligence arm, the GRU continued and continues to spew out personalized disinformation using voter data stolen from Facebook and other accounts, to undermine the will of the West.

And those acts of disobedience were what is currently, some say precariously, saving him from indictment. Although in the normal course of events what he did was criminal, nevertheless in the special circumstances of an election the law breaks down. While there was most definitely obstruction, there was no hard proof of prior conspiracy. While there was most definitely collusion, that is not a known crime. While there is a mountain of evidence of connections between the campaign and the Russians, the conversations were seemingly not sufficiently effectual to suggest conspiracy to commit treason, which is.

(The Pumpkin has bogld indefatigably over the past year or so, that Mueller was likely to find evidence of collusion, but no conspiracy; that while the interference was gratefully received and in regard to some aspects of election law and data protection may have been illegal, there was no requirement for command and co-ordination from the Trump end to make the Putin-inspired plan work. Of course, Mueller would have little or no knowledge of the content of the closed-door meetings between Trump, Putin and Putin’s top officials without asking the President himself to explain, which he decided not to do out of fear that the blabbermouth Trump would convict himself, or find himself compulsively lying.)

Purely for those reasons, having concluded that Mr Trump was indeed responsible for obstructing justice in no fewer than ten compound ways, each meriting its own chapter of Volume 2, and that the Russian effort did in fact happen, Mr Mueller’s 448-page report finally abandons the attempt to prove that Mr Trump (or his tragically dim offspring, Donald Jr) had sufficient knowledge of the origins and consequences of his actions as to have committed offences indictable by him, and submits the evidence instead to the whims and tortuous political processes of a Congress still hagridden with powerful Trump enablers in the Senate to see if they can do better.

Poor Bob Mueller was too honest and upright for his own good; and ultimately, that of the free world. I’m afraid fire needs to be fought with fire.

In what would certainly not be his last – and most successful – effort to obstruct, or at least divert the course of justice, Mr Trump had the States’ Attorney-General removed from office and planted his own man in the Justice Department. William Barr has a notorious history of defending crimes committed at the behest of past Presidents against Special Counsel investigations. Nor does he think Presidents can or should be indicted for crimes, and has written an extensive legal opinion on the matter, which made him a shoo-in.

Barr’s strategy in this instance has been to pre-issue misleading headline announcements claiming the Mueller report has totally exonerated the President, in advance of the actual publication of a heavily redacted account that, even so, still paints a picture of a profoundly corrupt and dysfunctional Administration directed by, yes, a criminal mind; and of many abuses of Executive authority: what are known as “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

The assumption being that, as Americans would rather not have another criminal in the White House after Nixon, they will be extra-willing to believe Trump’s protestations of innocence based on a couple of favorable headline findings, and not bother reading the small print, while interest gradually wanes and war in Iran, or whatever, commands tomorrow’s headlines. (Secretary Pompeo, a well-lunched creature resembling a Vogon functionary made entirely of Koch brothers’ money, is already attempting to link Shi’a Iran with Sunni al-Qaeda, the same improbable alliance that let Bush kick-off the second Iraq war.)

(PS a carrier group is now heading for the Gulf of Arabia to counter what Pompeo claims is an Iranian threat. See: “Gulf of Tonkin incident” for precedent. 07 May)

The chair of the House Oversight Committee, Congressman Elijah Cummings, has issued a subpoena for the full report to be made available; and, for his pains, Mr Trump is attempting to sue him in court, to destroy him financially. Trump is also warning any of his current or former people against testifying to the committee hearing on the Mueller report; while his lawyers are fighting a desperate delaying action against the Congress’ perfectly established powers to subpoena evidence and witness testimony. Those are not the actions of an innocent man. Meanwhile, Trump will surely now be redirecting Barr’s efforts toward making the many other criminal investigations being conducted into him, for instance by the Southern District Court of New York, to go away too.

The words “hole” and “digging” seem apposite.

That this astonishing saga is being played out in plain sight, where anyone with eyes (and that’s about two-thirds of American voters but not 90 per cent of Republicans) can see that here is a profoundly disturbed, corrupt and amoral individual, tragically in the middling-stages of age-related mental disintegration, who has nevertheless succeeded largely in imposing his own brand of autocratic gangster-capitalism on their Constitution and has essentially kidnapped the Justice Department for his own purposes, seemingly without restraint, is bad enough.

But that Mr Trump has invited himself to make a State visit to Britain as a guest of Her Majesty the Queen, hopefully to ride smirking in triumph in a gilded carriage along the Mall as the crowds bay their disgust, and to hijack the D-Day 75th anniversary parade in Portsmouth (assuming it’s not raining), and is proposing to arrive six weeks from now, whether we want him or not, is the most breathtaking denouement imaginable; wonderful optics for his shrinking base of dumbfucks, the ultimate vindication of his terrible presidency.

(We imagine, too, that as we haven’t had any good public dust-ups since the Tottenham riots in 2011, and another long, hot summer is in prospect, with the encouragement of the gilets-jaunes across the channel it’s also the most potentially disruptive event possible.)

This pompous, overbearing, undereducated, frequently failed realtor from the arse-end of New York, oafish social-climbing made-for-TV President, nepotistic tinpot dictator and kleptocrat, friend to mafiosi, criminal oligarchs and brutal dictators* the world over, a succubus with no regard whatsoever for the rule of law or the consequences of his actions for anyone other than himself (“racist”, “conman”, “serial adulterer”, “trafficker of underage models” and “accused rapist” go without comment), joins a sorry line of shits, psychos and general self-promoters that for the squalid purposes of trade the poor 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth has had to feed and water and put on public display over the years; monsters like the reputedly cannibalistic kleptocrat, Mobutu of Zaire; the genocidal “Mr 10 per cent” Suharto of Indonesia and the appalling, motheaten Ceausescus, the vampires of Romania.

The one consolation being, they all met some kind of fate in the end.

 

*It seems he’s found a new one to admire, in the vengeful figure of Libyan warlord, Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who is leading a military offensive against the internationally recognized Libyan government in Tripoli. According to today’s Washington Post, Mr Trump has apparently rung up to congratulate him on his advance. “In their conversation, the president praised Hifter for fighting ‘terrorism’ and protecting Libyan oil assets.”

The incoherent Middle Eastern dimension to Trump’s corruption is surely ripe for a second Special Counsel investigation. Gen. Hifter – I can’t help thinking Trump has confused him with the Austrian-born German chancellor with a similar name – since Hifter’s brutal but efficient military campaign at the head of his own private army is being funded by the United Arab Emirates and Crown Prince bin-Salman, the dictator-in-waiting of Saudi Arabia; another murdering, torturing, dissent-crushing strongman whom Trump refuses to criticize in any way.

 

Criminal #2

I’ve just had the following email from the Reprieve NGO:

“We are writing today with some incredibly sad news: Saudi Arabia executed 37 people in one day – including three arrested as teenagers and tortured into “confessions”. Five of those executed, including the three teenagers, were Reprieve cases. This is yet another horrific disregard of human rights by the Saudi regime. Conducting this mass execution without notice just days after Easter, it appears that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman thought that this could pass without international condemnation.”
Three more teenagers are scheduled among others still to be beheaded by Crown Prince Murderer, for the crime of being picked up off the street by police brutally putting down a peaceful demonstration by Islamists. This is the overpromoted, psychotic camel-fucker Trump loves and cares for, and his money, so deeply.
Reprieve has called on Theresa May to protest these actions: as if. This is the same Theresa May who warmly received “MBS”, as More Blood and Sand likes to be known, at Chequers, her agreeable country residence, in March last year.
As long as these unreconstructed stone-age barbarians continue to pump the black gold they serendipitously inherited for free from beneath the desert sands and continue to use it to buy arms from the West, arms they are using illegally to prosecute a war against women and children in Yemen, while continuing to oppress and torture and maim and murder their own people in the name of their fissiparous religion, while they continue to fund Wahhabist terrorism the world over, no-one will lift a finger against them.
What a fucking horrible world your loving God sees fit to order.

You do have to be crazy to work here

Controversial Washington state representative for Spokane Valley, Matthew Shea has been caught plotting online with right wing extremists to carry out surveillance on, and violently attack, liberal activists in his constituency. A Republican, under the internet username “Verum Bellorum” (“True Warrior”, apparently), Shea was also found to be planning “psyops” against these activists, according to conversations that he was having with three known extremists via an app called Signal.

This is not the first time that Shea has invoked lethal violence: in his political manifesto, he calls for the deaths of all men who fail to follow true Biblical teaching, although he claims this was just a bit of banter with a few likeminded friends (TYT/Ring of Fire, citing Guardian America, 20 April/Rolling Stone).

Although he might seem to meet the legal definition of terrorist, Mr Shea has yet to be arrested and questioned, let alone charged with any crime. It goes without saying that he is a regular on Alex Jones’ Infowars and other crazy rightwing conspiracy sites; an anti-abortion, anti-vaccination, anti-law enforcement, extreme gun-rights activist; and that he has frequently called for a civil war – a final battle – against unbelievers, including communists and Muslims, but also Washington liberals.

Apparently the darling of Spokane Valley residents, he is currently serving his sixth term in Congress, when by rights he ought to serving his time in a federal penitentiary, for incitement.

 

Oligarchs at sea

A friend tells me over a simple lunch about the time he went on a cruise. Somewhere in the Bahamas they steamed past an enormous private yacht not much smaller than themselves. As he watched, a helicopter took off from the deck – and a large motor launch emerged from an opening in the side, just like in a James Bond movie. He asked the purser about it. “Oh”, said the seadog,”that’s one of (Roman) Abramovich’s. He’s not on board, of course, he has four others like it, all painted gray so as not to attract attention.”

My friend remarks that, were one to win, say, one of those €100 million-plus jackpots on the Euromillions lottery, against odds of billions to one, one might be able to afford a partway decent yacht, just. But would you then be able to pay for the crew, the mooring and maintenance charges, the fuel – the expensive art collection, the food and the champagne? It reminded me of the visitors to the rotting C18th “stately home” where I was the Estate Manager for several years, who would gaze around wistfully and fantasise aloud about winning the lottery and buying the place. I would sneer at them loftily: “Yes, but you would need to win ten lotteries if you want to keep it standing!”

 

GW: A catastrophe of unimaginable proportions is unfolding.

“Sam Carana” – a pseudonymous collective of climate scientists writing on the Arctic News blogspot site – has just posted this:

“March 2019 temperature is in line with an earlier analysis that 2019 could be 1.85°C warmer than preindustrial and that a rapid temperature rise could take place soon… .

“A catastrophe of unimaginable proportions is unfolding. Life is disappearing from Earth and all life could be gone within a decade. At 5°C of warming, most life on Earth will have disappeared. When looking at near-term human extinction, 3°C will likely suffice. Study after study is showing the size of the threat, yet many people seem out to hide what we’re facing.

“The long-term … trend (graph shown on website) points at 2025 as the year when 3°C rise from preindustrial could be crossed, while the red trend that focuses on short-term events shows how a 3°C rise from preindustrial could be reached as early as in 2020.”

That is, next year.

And if that’s not enough to cheer you up, here’s Paul Beckwith, blogger, Prof. of geography and oceanography at the university of Ottawa:

“Nitrous oxide emissions from our rapidly warming north are up to 12-times higher than we previously thought, since thawing Arctic permafrost is a huge source. The problem is: 1) the top 3 meters of permafrost contains 73 billion tons of nitrogen; 2) as it thaws microbial action releases bucket loads of N2O; and 3) N2O is a very powerful greenhouse gas, with a Global Warming Potential about 300 times that of CO2 (lifetime in atmosphere of 114 years).” (YouTube presentation, citing Wilkerson et al.) As seas warm, we’re also detecting a rise in hydrogen sulphide gas emissions (fart gas) – yet another greenhouse gas.

Middle East: “…extreme weather has caused bizarre ‘ice floods’ to sweep across deserts in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates. The freezing plunge in temperatures has perplexed meteorologists in a region that is typically basking in scorching sunshine at this time of year.  Last week, several parts of Tunisia were hit by snow and torrential rainfall, causing fatalities.” (Express) In other parts of the region, massive dust storms were thrown up by strong downdrafts.

South Africa: “Heavy rain has caused flooding in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces. Oribi Gorge in southern KwaZulu-Natal recorded 234mm of rain in 24 hours to early 23 April. Schools and roads have been closed after widespread flooding in the coastal city of Durban. At least 5 people have died and dozens of others have been injured after buildings collapsed during flooding and mudslides in different parts of the city. There are reports of informal settlements in Chatsworth being washed away.” More heavy rain is forecast. In Malawi, at least 3 people have died and 9 are injured after heavy rainstorms triggered landslides in the country’s northern region on 20 April. 5 people are still missing. (Floodlist)

Iran: More than 10 million people have been hit by flooding in Iran. Thousands are homeless after the deluge, and there are fears of more heavy rain. (Al Jazeera) “25 out of 31 of Iran’s provinces have been affected. Officials say 76 people have been killed so far, with some 150,000 homes partially or completely destroyed. Bridges across the country and miles upon miles of road have been left unusable. Authorities say the estimated bill to repair the damage stands at least $2.5 billion.” (NBC)

USA: Houston, Tx. is on flood watch again as yet another band of severe thunderstorms moves slowly northwards across the state. Travel disruption and evacuations are expected with damaging wind, big hail and possibility of tornadoes. (Accuweather). The powerful storms that ripped through parts of the United States last week killed at least 5 people in Mississippi, Florida and Alabama, officials said. (CNN)

Colombia: At least 17 people were killed in a big landslide on Easter Sunday after days of heavy rain (The Weather Channel)

Meanwhile, in Argentina: Storm over Chaco Province. “2 people were electrocuted when power cables fell into flood water in the city of Las Breñas. Among the worst hit areas was Corzuela, where 300mm of rain reportedly fell in just a few hours during the storm. The village of Mesón de Fierro, around 50km south of Corzuela, recorded 380mm. Around 1,800 people have evacuated their homes.” (edited from Floodlist)

Spain: “The central eastern coastal province of Alicante was hit by severe weather between 18 and 22 April,  including winds of 100km/h, waves of more than 2.5 metres and torrential rain. Flash flooding affected several areas of the Valencia region. Images on social media showed flooded streets and some cars completely submerged. The Red Cross said at least 23 people were rescued from the floodwater and around 90 had to stay in a provisional shelter. Xàbia recorded 248.4 mm of rain in 24 hours on 21 April.

UK: Here in the UK to follow the record-breaking warm end of February we’ve had a record-breaking, sunny Easter holiday with the temperature at Heathrow exceeding 25C, 75F. In my shady front garden although it’s clouded over it was still 21C at 7 pm today, Monday 22 April, while the “Max” reading for the weekend is showing 28.5C. Nothing to see there, then, as it’s all crashing back to normal tomorrow. Incidentally, I just drove 200 miles to and back from a jazz weekend in the countryside and all there is by way of squashed bugs on the windshield are a few midges.

 

Affluence corner

One unexpected consequence of the affluent lifestyle: an alarmingly swaying skyscraper in Manila, Philippines emptied its rooftop swimming pool from a great height into the street below, drenching fleeing pedestrians during one of the two M6+ earthquakes that rocked the main island of Luzon on Easter Monday. Video: weather.com/news/weather

According to the local association of funeral directors, it is now more expensive to be dead in Hong Kong than it is to be alive. A niche for a funeral urn in one of the more affluent cemeteries can set you back HK$1.3 million, while burial plots are no longer obtainable owing to lack of undeveloped land. (Guardian)