Corona v. Us… No, you can’t come in here… The madness of King Donald… A cluster of tea leaves… Sordid reality… GW: and the beast goes on.

 

Priti Patel

“Me, a bully? Say that again and I’ll rip your fuckin’ face off. Now give me all your pocket-money….”

Corona v. Us

Update: 21 Feb., total cases to date, 76,805; deaths 2,249 – including 29-year-old Wuhan doctor, Peng Yinhua, who postponed his wedding to remain at his post.  Of those cases, 18,800 are reported to have already recovered. (Worldometers.info)

Another update: 22 Feb., cases 77,924; deaths 2,362; recovereds, 21,251. Massive spike overnight in S Korean city of Daegu, linked to churchgoing ‘superspreader’ and local mental hospital: +229, total 433.

Sunday afternoon: 23 Feb., cases 78,966; deaths 2,468; recovereds 28,440. Italy – northern towns in lockdown, 130 cases, 2 dead and no clue as to where it came from as the assumed ‘Index patient’ has tested negative.  S Korea: ‘Over 600’ cases. Iran: admitting to 43.

Monday morning: 24 Feb., cases 79,707; deaths 2,626; recovereds, 25,253. These figures are provisional, as the death toll in the Iran outbreak, currently at 50, is greater than the number of cases the Ayatollahs are admitting to. Shia pilgrims to the city of Qom are at risk. Stockmarkets tumbled this morning on news from Italy.

The BogPo watched with faint horror as about 35 thousand Italian and Scottish rugby fans mixed it up together in Rome on Saturday. Scotland won 10-nil. God knows what they’ve brought home. 10 northern Italian towns are closed as 60 new cases were confirmed yesterday.

Hopes for a slowdown in the spread of the novel coronavirus were dashed Friday as the number of new cases rose in China, and outbreaks worsened in Japan and South Korea.” (CNN) A spike of 36 new cases found in a Beijing hospital looks like an indication that the genie is really out of the bottle now.

100 new cases and a second death (of a mental patient) were confirmed overnight in South Korea, where the number of confirmed cases linked to one “superspreader” within a fringe church congregation that believes in the Rapture has reached 86, with another 400 showing “symptoms”.

500 prisoners in jails across China are said to be infected, one particularly grim institution being Wuhan Women’s Prison, where 230 cases have led to the dismissal of the governor. (Guardian)

The WHO is expressing concern over a woman from Wuhan who travelled with no symptoms and a negative test to another city, where five of her relatives promptly went down with the virus. The woman herself then tested positive but still has no symptoms whatsoever.

Also of great concern: “… a 38-year-old Italian man in Lombardy … in intensive care, may have contracted the disease after meeting a colleague who had recently returned from China, even though the colleague had tested negative for the virus.

This virus seems to have evolved intelligence.

After another delay, UK passengers on board “death cruise” liner Diamond Empress are being evacuated today, to a tired-looking hospital in Cheshire. Unlike the American evacuation last week, about a dozen with the virus will not be flying. Passengers have been offered vouchers by the Empress line toward a future cruise.

Congressmen are criticizing the US government for lack of co-ordination in the response to the threat, saying there is no-one in the White House they can talk to. In addition to defunding the main health agencies, Trump has failed for over two years to nominate a health advisor to the National Security Council; a post he has suggested scrapping altogether.

 

No, you can’t come in here

“The comparison between Assange and Dreyfus drew criticism, including from the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity working against antisemitism and racism in British society, which tweeted: ‘Disgraceful false equivalence to one of the key learning moments of modern Jewish history.'” (Guardian, 20 Feb.)

I am moved to tell this “charity”, propagandists presumably funded by Tel Aviv and with a clear desire to whip up more self-mortifying antisemitism in Britain, in the nicest possible way, to go fuck itself. I mean, it’s like these people just love poking the anthill with a stick over any little thing, when there are big things going on that they do need to worry about.

Isn’t there enough division and hateful, even violent prejudice out there, not just against Jews but against Muslims, blacks, browns, yellows, Reds, Greens – liberal elites, women, asylum seekers and refugees, experts, poofters and pedos, people on benefits, the disabled, you and me, immigrants, gypsies, tourists and anyone else foreign who is found not speaking the Queen’s English?

What this bunch is virtue-signalling is that it it is verboten to cite the notorious case of Alfred Dreyfus, a victim of 19th century upper-class French prejudice against Jews in the military, to illustrate the kind of prejudice allegedly being shown by the British establishment against Julian Assange. Anti-Jewish prejudice being so vastly more morally worse than anti-anyone else’s prejudice that no-one else can possibly ever get a look-in with prejudice. Because why? Because the Jewish community owns the copyright on prejudice? Some would seemingly like us to think so.

Dear Community Security Trust: the ‘”key learning moment” we should pluck from history teaches us that while we cannot fully eliminate our innate perceptions of Otherness, ALL extreme prejudice is to be discouraged at all times. Including yours.

The comparison being made by the Labour party’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell is, in my view, unwieldy, ahistorical and somewhat hyperbolic. Assange, battling extradition, is no innocent victim. The argument that the crime he’s charged with, of publishing stolen State secrets, ought not to be a crime due to public interest, even though it is a serious offence, is perversely promoted by the same people who argue that Trump should not have been acquitted in the Senate on the bogus grounds that his private act of extortion against a foreign government, although a crime in law, was committed for the greater good of the country, i.e. to secure his own re-election.

Most of us would call that corruption.

Assange’s slender defense now rests on a probably accurate claim that Trump offered him clemency through an intermediary, Senator Dana Rohrbacher, if he would lie about Russian involvement in the 2016 election. That’s a clear contempt of court, not that “America’s Chief Law-Enforcement Officer” cares a whit about witness tampering and perjury.*

The Community Security Trust, whoever they are, could have said something like that, offered some sympathy with Mr Assange in his plight, as he faces 140 years in a Federal penitentiary, but no. Sympathy for others is not in their repertoire. No argument is permissible beyond the confines of the Tel Aviv echo chamber. They had to raise the specter of antisemitism in a context where antisemitism was the least important part of the matter.

They had to find another stick with which to beat the Labour party.

A white one.

Because, as we know, prejudice is blind as justice.

*Rohrbacher, who is well known and joked about in Congress as the most pro-Russian person in America after Trump himself, or maybe actual Russians, confirms the story. Mr Trump, predictably, says he ‘barely knows’ the Senator. Play another record, Your Majesty.

 

The madness of King Donald

Whipping his dumbfucks into another spittle-flecked frenzy of xenophobic hatred, booing and catcalling, at a Nuremberg rally in Colorado Trump rounded on the Motion Picture Academy for awarding the Best Picture Oscar this year to a foreign film.

Particularly a South Korean foreign film, with subtitles already.

“The winner is a movie from South Korea, what the hell was that all about?” Trump demanded to know, riffing insanely on a completely irrelevant, two-weeks-old subject, an arthouse film he has not and will never watch – as neither will his “base”, any of them. “We got enough problems with South Korea with trade and on top of it, they give them the best movie of the year.”

Boo! Bad Hollywoods! Lock ’em up, traitors! We likes zombie movies! (etcetera)

So much for America’s staunchest democratic ally in the SE Asia region. Their evil, practically Chinese trade policies, making stuff and selling it, obviously leads to the creation of degenerate artistic products that must be banned as socially harmful, inimical to the supremacy of the master race. Trump’s enemies in Hollywood, Deep Staters – probably The Jew Soros himself – treacherously conspiring against America and thus, by extension, King Donald.

One wonders what would have happened if the moguls had awarded Best Picture to a North Korean movie? Beaming congratulations to Mr Kim, no doubt. Wonderful guy. Love him to bits. Practically the only recipient of an award not to make a speech badmouthing Trump in the past four years was the film’s director, Bong Joon-ho. But politeness doesn’t count with this fascist pig when he’s on a power trip.

Doubling down, both on his red-meat racism and his cultural vacuum, Trump then called for the return of probably the only film he has ever fidgeted through that didn’t have either a cameo of himself or steamin’ Stormy Daniels a humpin’ and a grindin’ in it, the 1939 MGM epic ‘Gone With the Wind’.

Why can’t we have that? he whined, plaintively – disingenuously conscious of its racialist undertones, its grotesque whitewashing of an idyllic lifestyle on a slave plantation, its sideways wink to the KKK and its Southern Confederate sympathies.

The man has absolutely no bearings.

You’re fired

As if to prove he doesn’t, though no further proof is necessary, or indeed bearable, Trump has fired his Acting Director of National Intelligence, Mr Joseph Maguire, and replaced him with the imperious, far-right-wing-sympathising ambassador – described by one Congressman as ‘an internet troll’ – who has spent his time in Berlin upsetting the Germans, Richard “Dick” Grenell – a man with no intelligence community experience or friends.

Mr Grenell has already set about gutting the department and bringing in a Trump loyalty requirement for all staff.

The president is said to have blown his thatch when told that another top security official, Mr Shelby Pearson, had given a briefing to the House Intelligence Committee based on evidence that the Russians were up to the same old tricks, interfering to bring about Trump’s re-election. Claiming it was a Democrat disinformation campaign, a “hoax”, he lashed out because, no, he is not unaware that Putin has given the order to St Petersburg to meddle some more, but because he knows it; is desperate, and will do anything, even sellout his country, to retain the mystic powers of the Constitution that are keeping him out of jail.

Other top officials were also fired last week after coming under suspicion that they had done or said things disloyal to the President, despite their first loyalty being to the country.

Korruption Korner….

The New York Times reports, a glittering fundraiser for Trump was held at the “palatial Palm Beach home” of billionaire, Nelson Peltz. Ticket price: $500 thousand per couple. The gala raised ten million dollars for Trump’s superPAC, America First!

Second, came the presidential pardon, three days later, of Michael Milken, the Junk Bond King, serving ten years for racketeering and fraud.

Mr Peltz’s former business partner.

For the whole appalling but somehow no longer surprising story, and an anguished comment that it’s time to stop pretending this is all not happening, compulsorily flip to Rachel Maddow at MSNBC, 22 Feb.

“This is not a warning. The dark days are not coming. The dark days are here.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roGPWFUCz0c

 

A cluster of tea leaves

A ‘superforecaster’ is a person described in a 2015 book by someone called Philip E Tetlock as practising the art and science of prediction.

I’m sure we can find many words for such a person that don’t sound like such pretentious sociologese.

Seer; soothsayer; augur; oracle; diviner; haruspex.

“Bogler”, possibly.

Yes, dear Spammers, Likers, etc., I am considering writing to Sir Dominic Cummings – how the imaginary knighthood trips off the tongue, with which he will one day have earned it – to offer my services as a SPAD, being one of the “true wild cards, artists, people who never went to university and fought their way out of an appalling hell hole”.

For, lo, I have encountered the following “superforecast” I made in an ancient BogPo post from March, 2016 – a full however many months before the EU referendum – while slagging off the Man Who Would Be King, Russia’s own Baris Johnsky:

He only joined the ‘Outers’ because he knows it will gain him many Brownie points with the Eurosceptic tendency of the party, who will welcome him win or lose at September’s party conference with wild approbation and, who knows, a vote for the leadership; especially once Cameron and Osborne have lost the referendum and miserably climbed down in the face of defeat, their fate compounded by disappointing trade and borrowing figures: growth slowing (it already is), and the pound getting rockier, as investors discount the inevitable Brexit.

Spooky, or what? Pretty super, actually.

 

Sordid reality

Just inadvertently opened Cummings’ opaque blog, where in the Introit he quotes various obscure sources – just as I used to, to try to improve my “Marx” on the college degree course I took in Applied Photography, Film & Television, with Sociology of the Mass Media.

Here’s one:

‘Two hands, it isn’t much considering how the world is infinite. Yet, all the same, two hands, they are a lot.’ Alexander Grothendieck, one of the great mathematicians.”

I think, Dom, most of us can count to two. There’s a danger, too, in imagining the world to be infinite.

And to be honest, reading on a line or two, your naively surprised remarks at finding there is life out there lead me to suspect you of being Nigel Molesworth, age 48 3/4.

Only Molesworth was far more perceptive and brilliant in his aperçus:

“Reality,’ sa molesworth 2, ‘is so unspeakably sordid it make me shudder’.”

 

Speaking of Spammers, I have received praise from a lady who tells me that The Pumpkin – Issue 114 has helped her with her dog training.

Glad to be of service.

 

GW: and the beast goes on

Australia: Invest 99P is intensifying in the Gulf of Carpentaria and expected to slowly drift ashore on Monday in the Northern Territory as a tropical cyclone carrying up to 600 mm of rain. One model is suggesting maybe 900 mm. could fall over a 10-day period, with severe flooding to the thinly populated area southeast of Darwin. The storm when it develops will be called Esther.

North Atlantic: Severe-weather.eu writes: “While a large, deep extra-tropical cyclone over the North Atlantic is currently occluding, there is already a new, rapidly intensifying cyclone to its west. Its future track will be further south than the first one, likely smashing into the UK with a potentially severe windstorm this weekend. Models are in fairly good agreement it will produce a broad windstorm over the North Atlantic as well as major waves and severe winds towards UK and Ireland on Saturday.”

Storm Ellen will arrive just in time for the crucial 6-Nations Wales v. France rugby fixture in Cardiff. Fortunately the stadium has a roof. Once again the BBC Weather service is downplaying the forecast to windy and – later – rainy. Models are showing at least 3 more cyclonic weather systems queuing up to cross the North Atlantic next week. (Severe-weather.eu )

Here’s a link to a nice, scary video of last weekend-but-one’s Storm Ciara hitting St Malo in Brittany…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH1o9TPETYk

Your old Gran suggests, if you’ve been flooded, don’t bother cleaning up yet – a Caribbean holiday will take your mind off it. Sort it out later.

Arctic: On January 3rd, writes someone at Severe-weather.eu, “a radiosonde … over Reykjavik, Iceland,  recorded the lowest temperature in the stratosphere in the past 40 years, at -96°C (-141°F).” More recent measurements closer to the pole were recorded at the tropospheric boundary, where the weather starts, at -85C. The purport of this dull data is that an extremely cold polar vortex such as this, 20C lower than normal, helps to promote colourful Polar Stratospheric Clouds, that assist the process of destroying the ozone layer. Ozone is currently as low as it’s been only three times in the past 40 years; while the vortex has been spinning so fast that the jetstream is almost perfectly circular, leading to unusual satellite mapping like this:

u-component_of_wind_isobaric_in_GFS_Global_0p5deg_20200219_0000-1

Weird shit, huh?

Tunnel approaching….

Tiny thumbs: “An analysis of millions of tweets from around the period when Donald Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement found that bots tended to applaud the president for his actions and spread misinformation about the science. … On an average day during the period studied, 25% of all tweets about the climate crisis came from bots.” (Guardian)

California: is back in official drought after a February, normally the wettest month, in which San Francisco and Sacramento have seen zero rainfall. Snowpack in the Sierras is at 56% of normal.

Extinction Rebellion: “The world’s largest financier of fossil fuels has warned clients that the climate crisis threatens the survival of humanity and that the planet is on an unsustainable trajectory, according to a leaked document. The JP Morgan report on the economic risks of human-caused global heating said climate policy had to change or else the world faced irreversible consequences.” (Guardian)

Well, maybe not. … “The paper notes that global heating is on course to hit 3.5C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.” Ha ha, bless!

“JP Morgan has provided $75bn (£61bn) in financial services to the companies most aggressively expanding in sectors such as fracking and Arctic oil and gas exploration since the Paris agreement was signed.”

They should know, then.

An Apple a day…. Is the war in Afghanistan finally over?… Don’t mention the other war!… The madness of King Donald… GW: means Grotty Weather, of course.

Quote of the Week:

“At 6.25am, I catch the first bus back into town and begin a day of intensive shoplifting. Such is my life for as long as it lasts.” – Writer and broadcaster Wilfred De’Ath, who has died, aged 82. From his final column.

De’Ath spent the last many years of his life wandering the byways and alleyways of England and France as a persistent and always triumphantly annoying homeless man, a diabetic amputee, camping (though not always welcome) in often freezing churches and hospitals where sleep is discouraged, writing a wry monthly column for The Oldie magazine. Nurses especially were never safe from his clutches; his picaresque accounts of a life of boozy sexual conquests and his feeble defence of Jimmy Savile are unreliably awful.

A true English eccentric, he leaves one son, Charles.

 

“More than 80% of patients have mild disease and will recover, 14% have severe disease including pneumonia and shortness of breath, 5% have critical disease including respiratory failure, septic shock and multi-organ failure, and 2% of cases are fatal.

“The risk of death increases the older you are.” – WHO official.

Yes folks, it’s the Baby Boomer Plague!

Only avocado toast can save us.

 

British Home Secretary Priti Patel looks on as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairs a cabinet meeting. (Paul Ellis/Reuters)

“We’re only taking the brightest and the best. And you weren’t born here, BoZo, so you’re on the next charter flight to Patagonia.”

An Apple a day….

Poor Apple, thanks to Covid-19 unable to get any more iPhones and stuff made in and exported from China, their shares are down 4% today, 18 Feb. 4% of a trillion dollar market cap is a pretty big lot of money to you and me.

(Although, happy day, I’ve provisionally managed to sell one of my guitars over the weekend!)

No wonder so many Republican Senators and Steve Bannon are convinced it’s all a Chinese plot to destroy the US economy; claiming that a military-grade virus was deliberately let loose from a top secret government facility disguised as a fish market in Wuhan, or something.

Not going to win many wars with a 2% kill-rate and a 14-day incubation period, are they, these Chinese? Not going to defeat America with, what, 29 cases in three months, all of them caught abroad? When they’ve already killed off 2,000 of their own people?

What mysterious plague has infected these Republicans, I wonder?

They all seem to be utter cretins.

 

Corona v. Us

As 150 million Chinese remain in lockdown to try to contain what seems for most to be no worse than the usual seasonal ‘flu outbreaks everywhere gets this time of year – deaths from ‘flu in the USA are running well over 12 thousand and nobody seems in the slightest bit concerned – the Financial Times is speaking of the world economy in fretful terms: “Global outlook darkening.”

Except that reports of a tiny fall in the rate of infection in Wuhan pushed world markets up by 1% in overnight trading. They are nothing if not optimists, the men who bet on flies.

18 Feb., the number of cases on ‘death cruise’ ship, Diamond Princess, in Yokohama harbor has risen to 542, another 66 being confirmed overnight – including the Abels, a plucky British couple who have been bogling about it from their cabin and say they were frogmarched off to a hostel with no wi-fi or phone signal, protesting that they don’t have the disease and if they really do, why aren’t they in proper hospital? (Update: they are now. It pays to complain.)

The British government has finally made vague waffling noises about arranging an evacuation flight for the trapped Brits, and has booked-out the Holiday Inn at Heathrow as a provisional holding tank. I’m not sure which would be worse?

Dr Sylvie Briand, head of the WHO’s endemic diseases division put the plight of the passengers – many of whom have since been repatriated – into some kind of perspective: “We need to make sure that we focus on our objective, our public health objective, which is to contain the virus, not to contain the people,” she said, pointedly.

Lawyers are now getting involved as it has dawned on some people that trapping 3,700 passengers and crew together in the confined space of a ship was more likely to spread than to contain a highly infectious disease.

New cases are increasing in Japan, with the infection now being transmitted locally, according to Japan Times. Singapore has slashed its GDP growth forecast for 2020 by a percentage point as cases there pass 75.

Premier Xi reportedly learned of the outbreak two weeks before any official announcements were made, according to the FT. China’s Central Bank has lowered interest rates to prop up the stockmarket. Farmers are having to slaughter millions of chickens owing to a shortage of feed.

In Wuhan, Liu Zhiming, the senior medical physician fighting the outbreak, has died, age 51. Snatch squads are making door-to-door searches for possible hidden victims, police are reportedly barricading people in their homes.

Two citizen journalists who reported on the situation in Wuhan have disappeared under the guise of “quarantine”. The Chinese internet, too, is in virtual lockdown, with freedom of information protestors being threatened with severe punishments for spreading ‘rumors’; while ID checks have been brought in for anyone buying cough medicine.

Two men were arrested in Hong Kong, charged with stealing $100-worth of toilet rolls at knifepoint.

Update: 18 Feb., cases 73,438; deaths 1,875. Deffo slowing down, but early days, say boffins.

Update revised: 19 Feb., cases 75,227; deaths 2,012. Diamond Princess 621 – Brits told ‘you can’t leave’.

Revised update updated: 20 Feb., cases 75,761; deaths 2,130. Hubei has changed its reporting criteria again. A sudden spike in cases in S Korea is reportedly due to a ‘superspreader’ who has infected at least 37 members of her church congregation, having never even been abroad. The city of Daegu, pop. 2.5m, is on lockdown.

Japanese authorities have begun evacuating the healthy passengers from the Diamond Princess. Four Britons who tested positive have been removed. Other Brits have been told by the FO that if they leave the ship, they won’t be allowed on any evacuation flights.

Chinese epidemiologists have published figures showing that the vast majority of patients who have died are over 60. Odds on the likelihood of dying are highest at 14.8% among the Over 80s and about 3.4% for the Over 60s. Very few deaths have been reported in the Under-50s demographic, and none in children under 9.

So you could call this the Baby Boomer Killer or, as most deaths have been in elderly patients with pre-existing heart and respiratory conditions, probably from smoking and living in a heavily polluted industrial environment – Wuhan is the manufacturing capital of China – in our own case, you might say the Leave Voter Virus.

(Reporting/Stats: Worldometer, Guardian, Aljazeera, Japan Times, FT, BBC News)

 

Is the war in Afghanistan finally over?

Buried in the news today is a report in the Washington Post that an agreement has been reached in Doha between US negotiators and Taleban leaders for a 7-day ‘cooling-off’ of hostilities, followed by the official signing in Kabul of a peace accord.

Such an outcome, with the withdrawal of thousands of US troops, is calculated to be a vote-winner in the upcoming US elections, and Trump will take full credit for it; regardless of whatever actual terms the accord may be based on and its implications for the Afghan government and people.

Because we don’t yet know, if any side has, who has actually won.

America’s longest-running conflict began in 2001 after the 9/11 terror attack on New York, with the US blaming Afghanistan for hosting rebel al-Qaeda units and protecting the man they declared was responsible, Osama bin-Laden; although it was later confirmed that 15 of the 19 attackers had had Saudi nationality, as did bin-Laden, by then being protected by the Pakistan security services.

Since then, over two-and-a-half thousand US military personnel and 1,750 civilian contractors have died, along with 850 troops from allied nations. A figure from Wikipedia of 111,000 Afghan civilian and military casualties combined seems absurdly low. President Ashraf Ghani was recorded in 2019 as saying 45,000 service personnel, including police, had died since he came to power in 2014. Numbers of Taleban and other fighters killed are impossible to estimate.

The Pumpkin is betting that a deal will be easily spun into an American victory, but less easily justified as it will not result in any serious shift in the balance of power in the country. With no-one holding the ring, and Afghan government forces as weak and corrupt as ever, hostilities might very well resume between the Northern Alliance – a squabbling tentful of drug-dealing warlords – and the ascetic, extreme Muslim Talebani, who regard the regime in Kabul as nothing more than a corrupt US puppet.

Will the accord, if it does get signed, halt the relentless infiltration of Taleban insurgents, who already control much of the country? Are they likely to back off now, sensing victory, with the inviting prospect of having driven all the foreigners out – for the umpteenth time in 300 years?

And then there is the question of who, if anyone, will be able to resist the likely return of Russian influence as Putin continues to fill the vacuums created by Western withdrawals; and how will that play with Beijing, also vying for influence in the region?

 

Don’t mention the other war!

In case you were wondering why Messrs Parnas and Frumin are still being prosecuted for campaign finance irregularities involving laundered Ukrainian money, but the guy who hired them, the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, isn’t even under investigation, Rachel Maddow at MSNBC has a possible answer.

She reports, 19 Feb., that Barr’s Justice Department – should that be Trump’s Justice Department, we wonder? – issued a memorandum in January, only now released, ordering all federal courts under its jurisdiction to funnel any open cases involving matters pertinent to Ukraine through a single official.

No new cases involving anything to do with Ukraine may be opened without first consulting the department, says the memo.

The story follows on from the revelation that Trump is no longer being investigated by New York prosecutors for campaign finance violations involving payoffs to inconvenient women, in the case where he was named as an unindicted co-conspirator with his lieutenant, Michael Cohen – whom the President is gleefully leaving to rot in jail, obviously, as punishment for co-operating with the Mueller investigation, while trying to get his other cronies who aren’t considered ‘rats’ off the hook.

The 17 cases against Trump and his dodgy children appear to have been quietly dropped, it’s reported, following a visit to the Southern District court last year by Barr – on the day after Trump appointed him Attorney-General.

At the weekend, having controversially attempted to interfere in the sentencing of another of his soldiers, Roger Stone, Trump announced he had commuted the sentences handed down to two corrupt politicians, as well as to his fellow billionaire fraudster, the ‘Junk Bond King’ Michael Milken, referring to himself with breathtaking insouciance as “America’s chief law-enforcement officer”.

That’s actually supposed to be the Attorney-General, it’s not in the job description of the president. But when you have committed so many crimes it helps to be in charge of the investigations and to have the FBI broken and the Justice Department in your pocket.

Eleven-hundred current and former federal prosecutors have called for Barr’s resignation.

We keep reading Comments from apparently sensible political experts that, no, America is not Weimar Germany, don’t we.

Indeed, it’s looking more like 1920s Chicago.

 

The madness of King Donald

Remember when he threw paper towels at hurricane survivors in Puerto Rico? Well, now he’s gone one better, in a bid to peel off a few black votes.

At a recent, quite small rally of a hundred or so seriously deluded African Americans, organisers called the audience up on stage one by one and, praising all that Trump has done for the black community,  handed out $thousands of free money in the form of ‘cash prizes’.

The money came from a donation of a quarter of a million dollars from Trump SuperPAC, America First!, to the Urban Revitalization Coalition of America, a non-profit run by Trump ally, Darrell Scott.

Mr Scott was handpicked in 2016 to improve Trump’s image with black voters by Michael Cohen, who has since branded Trump a ‘racist’. (Reporting: New York Times)

People have been wondering why Trump has pardoned or commuted the sentences of several corrupt former officials. It seems his choices were crafted to send a message to his opponents, as each of them was convicted of criminal acts of which Mr Trump has himself been accused.

Flamboyant former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, for instance, the man who tried to sell President Obama’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder, was impeached before being found guilty of 17 charges, including wire fraud, attempted extortion and conspiracy to solicit bribes.

He left a Colorado jail today, claiming loudly that he had been held as a political prisoner.

 

seviri_nat_airmass_20200219_1845

Earth is beginnoing to look more like Jupiter… new storm to follow Dennis midweek. Image: Meteosat.

GW: means Grotty Weather, of course

North Atlantic: “… a new, potentially explosive development of an extra-tropical cyclone is expected tonight”(18 Feb.), following on the heels of Storm Dennis, that left extensive flooding across the British Isles at the weekend. (Severe-weather.eu) The storm is passing between Scotland and Iceland on the 20th. A remarkable central pressure drop of 44mb in 18 hours was recorded on the 19th, to bring hurricane-force winds over southern Iceland.

Another deepening cyclone is being monitored behind that, organizing out of Canada across the Labrador Sea, and inspires a BBC forecast of a third weekend deluge in 3 weeks for already saturated areas of the British Isles.

USA: states of emergency have been declared across Mississippi and Tennessee, reports Floodlist. “Days of heavy rain caused rivers and dams to rise, prompting evacuations and some flood rescues. Among the worst hit areas is Jackson, Mississippi, where the Pearl River reached 36.67 feet on 17 Feb., its third highest level on record.” Governor Tate Reeves described it as ‘historic; unprecedented’.

Australia: Another powerful storm front “pushed through Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday night, bringing with it an intense lightning show and powerful winds. Power was cut to many throughout the city as gusty winds brought down trees and power lines”, disrupting transport. (Accuweather) Local video showed big hailstones thumping down as the storms broke over NSW and Victoria states.

Indonesia: “authorities report that at least 2 people have died and hundreds of homes damaged after flooding and landslides in 4 provinces of the country.” in West Java’s Bandung regency, thousands of people have been affected by flooding for the second time in a month. There’s also been severe flooding in Borneo. (Floodlist)

Argentina: floods have followed days of heavy rain in the north of the country. In Chaco, 192mm of rain fell in a single day. In Tucuman a storm on 18 Feb. has left communities cut off and caused wind damage to properties. Hundreds of people have been evacuated and the army is delivering relief supplies. (From: Floodlist)

Peru: “Landslides and flooding in southern Peru have damaged homes leaving dozens of families displaced and at least 2 people dead. 1 person is missing and over 200 families displaced after heavy rain triggered a landslide in Ayacucho , south-central Peru.” (Floodlist)

United Kingdom Weather Radar

This is us today! Nobody wants Britain anymore – we’ve been painted out! (Accuweather rain map, 19 Feb.)

Tunnel approaching….

Some positive news from America, legislators in the state of Utah have approved plans for a funded program to move to renewable energy, electric vehicles and carbon reductions over the next decade, flying in the face of Trump’s rebarbative policies. What’s unusual about the Utah Roadmap, as it’s being called, is that Utah is a rock-solid Republican state. Ironically, voters will be going all-out in November to re-elect the environmental vandal and criminal ecocide, Trump. (Reporting: Guardian Green Light)

Methane: “A single blowout at a natural gas well in Ohio in 2018 discharged more methane over three weeks than the oil and gas industries of France, Norway and the Netherlands released in an entire year.” A new report examining the more-than doubling of atmospheric methane in the modern era claims that the volume of human-induced methane emissions from oil and gas operations – especially fracking – has been underestimated by 40 per cent; ‘experts’ concluding therefrom that industry measures to reduce or even capture and store emissions will be a major step forward in reversing climate change.

Where do they get these people from?

The Guardian report of the report fails to make the obvious point that global heating is the single greatest cause of methane emissions from thawing deposits under the sea and permafrost on land. It’s known as a feedback loop, Guardian people. I’d also defy you to distinguish between ‘natural’ and ‘man-made’ sources of methane when man-made CO2 is causing the heating that is releasing methane naturally from ‘sinks’ where it has remained frozen in vast quantities since the end of the last glacial period, 12 thousand years ago.

Arctic: “On February 18, 2020, the Arctic was as much as 3.6°C or 6.48°F warmer than 1979-2000.” The extent of sea ice is marginally greater currently than the 2010-20 average, however it is very thin and there is virtually no ice more than 2 years old to melt below the surface and thus provide a buffer to prevent heat reaching the lower depths where volatile hydratic methane clathrates are found in large numbers on the shallow sea bed. (From: Arctic News)

 

The Pumpkin – issue 115: Quote of the Week… Corona v. Us… The madness of King Donald’s friend Rudy… American hero… Fancy that, a policeman!… GW: a hard rain’s already falling.

QotW….

“What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1787.

I didn’t say that myself, nor of course would the BogPo ever approve of what was said, even by such an historic eminence, but it was clearly not illegal to say it in 1787, when it was obviously said in jest, ho ho.

The above quote was supplied as a salutary reminder of the patriotic citizen’s duty by a Comment contributor to a Buzzflash article, 14 Feb., proclaiming Trump as a dictator enabled by political feebleness, the pursuit of sensationalism and cheek-turning on the part of the media and the opposition party. “Banana Republic Fascism: Don Corleone Trump Hijacks Department of Justice to Help Out His Criminal Cronies and Punish Truth Tellers” is the somewhat rococo title, if you’re interested.

Sure, and haven’t we been warning people about this very thing for the past three years? And would anyone listen?

Now all we have is Jefferson.

 

Corona v. Us

Update: Saturday 15 Feb., cases 67,186; deaths 1,527 – including the first outside SE Asia, a patient in France. Recovereds: 8,500.

Sunday 16 Feb., cases 69,269; deaths 1,669. Rate of increase within China said to be slowing. More cases aboard Diamond Princess as US moves to evacuate 280 citizens.

Monday 17 Feb., cases 71,337; deaths 1,776. Continuing to slow. Another 99 cases confirmed aboard the cruise from Hell, the Diamond Princess, at Yokahama as 300 American passengers are flown home, obliged to wear masks which doctors say are probably useless. 14 of them have already tested positive.

Coro news…

Quarantine periods in Henan province south of Beijing are being extended to 21 days because of two anomalous cases of patients testing positive long after coming into contact with cases in Wuhan

The Chinese stock market has fully recovered from its initial 8% drop due to the Covid factor, as Bank of China is printing money to keep investors happy. and stocks are soaring once more. Western commenters describe the trend as ‘ludicrous’.

Two hundred attendees at the 2020 UK Bus Summit in London, including several transport-related MPs who were hoping to curry favor with the bus-obsessed little boy in Number 10 are being contacted about a Chinese delegate who attended the event and has tested positive.

The Tokyo marathon is being restricted to professional runners only; Japan is preparing for a heavy number of potential cases. Beijing is thinking about cancelling its annual Party congress.

The WHO’s choice of “Covid-19” as the official name of the virus has annoyed the USB cable manufacturer, Covid – strapline goes something unfortunately like: “Guaranteeing more effective transmission worldwide”. Still, they do say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. (Source: The Late Show)

Africa has recorded its first case. An unnamed “foreigner” is in isolation in a Cairo hospital.

Furious British passengers trapped aboard the Diamond Princess at Yokahama are demanding the Foreign Office gets off its butt and rescues them too. So far, the government hasn’t commented.

Passengers all got a special Valentine’s Day free bottle of wine, courtesy of the cruise company, which must have pissed them off even more. A number of Australians have been flown home.

 

The madness of King Donald

…is contagious. His friend, Rudy Giuliani…

The madness of Trump’s friend Rudy

…went on Fox Business the other day, and asserted that nameless “Ukrainian oligarchs” had stolen over $5 billion in US aid, which explained why the £391 million military aid package had been held up by the president. He omitted to mention that the notorious quid pro quo had, until he said it, had nothing to do with oligarchs! Unless you consider Biden to be one.

Nor has he apparently noticed that the Senate has already found the president Not Guilty of extortion, obstruction and abuse of power, so they can all move on to the next criminal conspiracy.

This was an entirely new slant on the impeachment story and an allegation no-one had made before, or during the so-called trial in the Senate.

Meanwhile, an internal investigation into the Fox channels’ claims about Ukraine has branded them as “disinformation” and Giuliani as “too susceptible” to the Trumpsucking conspiracy bullshit peddled by Fox’s millionaire fantasy-show hosts like Hannity, Ingraham and Kilmeade.

An INTERNAL Fox inquiry!

“How do you think they became oligarchs?” he challenged the world to answer – Rudy frequently appears drunk on TV, and at this point he made weird munching and gnawing noises – and then went on to claim that he was “terrified” that the Democrats were “literally” planning to have him assassinated.

 

Meanwhile, freshly acquitted of extortion in the Senate, where the hopeless Senator Collins from Maine changed her guilty vote at the last minute on grounds that she was ”Sure the president would learn a lesson” from the experience of being impeached, instead Trump has tweeted the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, a threat that unless he persuades the city’s courts to drop their investigations into his dodgy finances, he will defund a federal program subsidizing tourism to the city.

D’you ever meet one of those stroppy, 9-years-old, back-of-the-class lawyers, who’d say, “Nyah haa, I can do anything I like and you can’t touch me!”?

 

American hero

Many US commentators are expressing a raised degree of alarm that, this week, as it became abundantly clear that Trump has lassoed the Department of Justice and is using the law as a weapon to take revenge, to intimidate and harass his opponents and exonerate his friends, while himself remaining untouched by it, a line may irrevocably have been crossed into authoritarian dictatorship.

No longer in theory, the subject of nervous humor and furrowed examination but – as the Border Patrol has been transformed into armed snatch squads being sent this very weekend into so-called sanctuary cities in defiance of local authority ordinances, to batter down doors and haul away undocumented workers – in actuality.

With the cooption of the Senate and the Republican party into his grand scheme, the emasculation of law enforcement agencies and the packing of the judiciary with Trump appointees, there is now no longer a single institutional body other than the National Assocation of Funeral Directors, who must surely have a coldline to the Grim Reaper, that can curb the actions of the criminal president and bring him to account: excepting only the American people. The electorate.

And even they, worries Thom Hartmann, may already have unconsciously crossed their own moral lines to become a part of the new paradigm that Trump has brought about; just as ordinary Germans did in the early 1930s, they became Nazis without noticing that anything had changed. In Kafka’s novelette, Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa wakes to find himself transformed into a giant insect: while asleep, he has compacted with the State and is now entirely and willingly serving its ultimately self-destructive agenda.

In the TV coverage of Trump’s recent rally in New Hampshire, in the background of what I call human wallpaper, serried ranks of hand-picked dumbfucks forming a cheering, gurning red, white and blue backdrop to the overweening vanity, the posturing, the nauseating self-congratulation, the snivelling self-pity and the many, many lies, can be seen a child of about 10. He is enthusiastically joining in on cue, all the hate-calls to lock up “Crooked Hillary” and Nancy Pelosi, parroting the nativist Trump catchphrases, booing at the word “impeachment” or hostile mentions of the “fake news” press gaggle perched uncertainly at the back of the hall; giving the thumbs-down sign at the mention of the name of the Jew, Soros.

This heavily indoctrinated little bastard needed no prompting from his dad, proudly sitting next to him in his MAGA hat. And he’s not alone: there’s been a recorded increase in bullying of minority children in schools, observers noting that much of it is accompanied by the verbal tropes of Trump’s unending round of well-drilled nativist rallies.

How long will it be, I wonder, before he’s riding around in a Humvee, stringing up Muslims and Jews and Mexicans, shooting them into pits?

Because that’s what’s going to make him an American hero for the 21st century, and he’s loving it.

 

Fancy that, a policeman!

British citizen Tony Camoccio has been released from Egyptian custody after paying £1,000 in bail and related fees. He was arrested after patting a policeman ironically on the back following a patdown and search of his belongings at Cairo airport. The policeman insisted he had been sexually assaulted and that CCTV footage would prove it.

Now who in their right mind, what horrible pervert, but only a British man would sexually assault an immigration official in full view of his colleagues? And indeed, after refusing to hand over the tape for independent review, Egyptian officials grudgingly gave in and admitted there was no assault. Why therefore Mr Camoccio has had to pay out £1,000 for the pleasure of touching up a copper seems to be just one of those things you might expect in al-Sissi’s Egypt – corrupt and mad to the core.

Don’t go there, is my advice.

 

GW: a hard rain’s already falling

British Isles: “the Met Office has issued a “danger to life” weather warning as the UK braces itself for Storm Dennis – a second weekend of gusty weather. Storm Dennis is forecast to batter large swathes of the country with 70mph winds and up to 140mm (5.5in) of rain in northern areas. The Environment Agency (EA) said the flood impact from the weather system is likely to be worse than last weekend’s Storm Ciara due to rain falling on already saturated ground.” (ITN)

Saturday 15 Feb., “…the observed pressure falls are more than double the threshold for bombogenesis. Pressure change during the past 24 hours has been unprecedented, from 987 mb to 936 mb at 06 .00 UTC today – a  remarkable 51 mb drop. Dennis will continue deepening at an extreme rate for another 6-9 hours before it reaches its mature stage, likely to push the lowest pressure slightly below 915 mbar.” (Severe-weather.eu) The cyclone is expected to weaken again before making landfall.

Note: here in Boglington-on-Sea it’s been a bit wet and windy, but by dinner time on Saturday nothing out of the ordinary. Some weather forecasters are in danger of crying Wolf too often. But there are a couple of Red warnings out Sunday a.m., further south of here. Many communities in the northeast and south midlands are flooded.

Dennis is gradually weakening as it moves eastwards but is bringing strong winds and ‘excessive’ snowfall to western Norway. Severe-weather.eu warns of maybe 2 meters of snow!

Fujiwara: the Fujiwara effect is what happens when Storm Dennis gets caught up by another intense cyclone in the middle of the North Atlantic that goes into orbit around it and then merges into it…. producing hurricane-force winds and 80-to-100-ft waves and another blizzard-battering for Iceland. DO NOT SET SAIL IN THIS! The remnants of the huge storm will push through north of Scotland on Monday and could in theory dump up to 3-ft of rain on the west coast of Norway.

The good news is, TWO MORE cyclones are intensifying behind Dennis, and will repeat the Fujiwara effect together on Wednesday, bringing heavy seas, high winds, more rain and some snow to the British Isles. These intense lows coming in multiples are unprecedented events in the annals of North Atlantic storms, according to weather-watcher site, Weather Decoded, and are the result of ferocious stratospheric winds ripping the jetstream to pieces. Wow.

Except that this report is looking like bullshit as in the wake of double-Dennis, high pressure is building across the Atlantic, 17 Feb.

Southeastern Europe is in for a new heatwave early this week, according to Severe-weather.eu, with temperatures 16 to 20°C above the average.

Mozambique: “heavy rain has caused further damage and flooding in central parts of the country just weeks after at least 28 people died and 58,000 were affected by floods in January. 2 people died in Manica province, around 500 families in need of food assistance and temporary shelter according to local media. Chimoio, the capital of Manica Province, recorded 175mm of rain in 24 hours to 12 February.” (from Floodlist)

Australia: “heavy rain continues to fall in Southeast Australia, with flooding affecting parts of southern Queensland over the last few days. This follows severe flooding in parts of New South Wales after days of heavy rain from 07 February. Marcoola recorded 231.8 mm of rain in 24 hours to 11 Feb. Queensland Police reported that the body of a person was found in Conondale. A woman is missing. Meanwhile, northern Queensland is experiencing severe to extreme heatwave conditions that are expected to stretch into the weekend”, ahead of Cyclone Uesi. (Floodlist)

15 Feb., 9 News reported, 25 million trees were flattened by Cyclone Uesi when it hit World Heritage site, Lord Howe island with winds gusting to 155 km/h. The Guardian records that 800 residents and tourists appear to have had a lucky escape. Both Sydney and Melbourne were threatened over the weekend with more heavy storms and potential flooding.

The next existential nightmare to hit SE Australia’s fire- and flood-ravaged coast is expected to be a plague of mosquitos hatched by the exceptionally warm, wet weather.

Peru: “further heavy rain has affected parts of Huanuco department. The department saw a series of flood events during the first half of January this year.” Dozens of people have been displaced and red warnings are out in several areas where rivers have overflowed. (from Floodlist)

 

Tunnel approaching….

Over a quarter of all US domestic “cheap” home-lease car loans are in default. $1.2 trillion dollars is outstanding on credit cards and a further $1tn owed in potentially non-recoverable student debt. These are all sub-prime areas bearing the highest lending rates, where investors bored with poor returns from conventional instruments are getting back into the debt-swaps and derivatives game, that brought the entire banking system down in 2007/8. No lessons were learned.

The mortgages market is next, as excess consumer borrowing is secured against homes; the stockmarket is a bubble unrelated to the real economy, fuelled by the Fed printing money and corporate stock buybacks using tax cuts – money that isn’t trickling down into higher wages or jobs; while US government and corporate debt is the highest in history. (Summary of Trump’s booming economy on Thom Hartmann, by Prof Richard Wolff.)

Cabinet reshuffle: Baris Johnson’s new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak is a millionaire former Goldman Sachs exec. and bankbusting derivatives salesman: a high-stakes gambler who owns a hedge-fund. His new Attorney General, Suella Braverman is reportedly an active member of an extreme Buddhist cult in North London whose 93-year-old guru has been accused of sex crimes against young male acolytes.

The Observer reports that press agencies are complaining that Johnson has been allowing access to key events, such as the signing of the EU withdrawal treaty, to the Number 10 “official” photographer only. This follows on from the notorious walkout by the Number 10 press corps after Cummings tried to bar several reporters he has taken exception to.

Welcome to New Britain.

 

Wild is the wind… Building bridges… The madness of King Donald… GW: I’ll take a little water in that… Gotland dammerung.

QotW

“What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth, The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all.” – From the script of TV miniseries, Chernobyl.

Boris Johnson’s £60m Thames cable car, delivered when he was London mayor, reportedly turned out to have just four regular users.

“Pwafle-whaffle…, this shiny toy car is turning left. Who’s with me?”

Wild is the wind

This could be difficult to explain, because as your Old Granny W. has said before, there is so much intense cyclone activity in the North Atlantic currently that it is becoming difficult to differentiate one storm from another. However, on the heels of Storm Ciaro, Severe-weather.eu reports, there is another cyclone heading into the British Isles tonight, 12 Feb., with central pressure falling to about 960 mb – windy and rainy.

Then there is Storm Dennis, due on Saturday

Only, forming off the coast of Newfoundland, maybe behind that or part of it is a potential monster of a storm, that we think should be christened Stormy Daniels. It is, they say, very possibly destined to be the most intense storm ever recorded in the region, with central pressure plummeting by 50 to 60 mb in 24 hours, to an impossibly low 915 to 920 mb, producing tremendous winds and waves up to 18m, 60 ft in height.

Is that Dennis? No-one is making it clear.

Severe-weather.eu says: “What we are seeing on the weather models through the remainder of this week is beyond exceptional – an incredibly large, extremely deep and violent system, with central pressure potentially even shooting towards the lowest pressure readings ever observed, will be possible.” The BBC Weather service merely describes things as ‘wet and windy’. Is that classic British understatement or is Severe-weather getting overexcited?

Below is a map of projected peak wind gusts on Thursday,13th. The outline of the British Isles can just be seen in the centre. It’s pretty messy: hung on your wall, it might be worth millions:

gustkph_20200212_00_024

Where are these cyclones obtaining their formidable energy, over the cold waters of the North Atlantic in winter? Please, do not tell me that everything is normal and this is just the natural cycle-stroke-solar minimum!

And, OMG as they say, as a brutally cold weatherbomb deposits Arctic gales and snow over the northeastern states of the US, and with two intense cyclones already out in the North Atlantic, now there is another matching pair of huge, powerful cyclones presenting an even more perfect picture from space, forming across the North Pacific and heading for Alaska with hurricane-force winds via the Aleutian Islands.

This is unprecedented, Day After Tomorrow stuff.

We are fucked, no question.

 

Corona v. Us

Update: 13 Feb. 00.00 hrs, 45,222 cases; deaths 1,118. 4,888 ‘recovered’. First case reported in London; Hove ‘spreader’ Steve Walsh leaves hospital, clear. All quarantined travellers in UK testing negative. Experts warn of an outbreak in the UK lasting into the summer.

Reset: 13 Feb., Beijing has fired officials in Hubei province and recalculated: cases 60,376; deaths 1,369. Authorities in Wuhan impose 24-hour curfew on all but health workers.

USA: An estimated 22 million people have experienced ‘flu-like illnesses in the U.S. this season, with 210,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths from the ‘flu, according to the CDC. The second peak of the season, which still has weeks to go, has seen a major rise in hospital visits described by epidemiologists as “hard to believe”. (Accuweather)

An extended outbreak that limits the volume of … (prescription) drugs available for export from China could lead to shortages and price increases, particularly in the United States, according to ratings agency Moody’s.

New update: 14 Feb., it appears no figures can be trusted as Beijing first revised the numbers upward but has now admitted that over 100 deaths were double-counted. ‘Over 60,000’ cases is a best guess estimate this morning, with close to 1,500 deaths. Wuhan says 1,700 patients are health workers.

A report in The Sun newspaper says the Chinese woman patient who tested positive in London a few days ago attended a conference at which a number of MPs were present.

 

Sleep tight

Zero Waste Scotland has estimated that if the 600,000 mattresses Scotland throws away every year were stacked on top of each other, the pile would be more than 100 times taller than Ben Nevis.

Yes, but safer to climb, I should have thought, in your ordinary day clothes and trainers in the middle of winter with Storm Ciaro bearing down, as most people do.

 

Building bridges #1

The Queensferry crossing, the bridge that connects Edinburgh and Fife, remained closed on Wednesday morning in the wake of Storm Ciara, resulting in commuter chaos and lengthy tailbacks on the 35-mile diversion necessary for drivers.

The £1.35bn bridge, which opened to traffic in August 2017 and had been hailed as a crossing that would remain open in all weathers, has been closed since Monday night owing to excessive ice forming on the superstructure…. A lesson there possibly for Vanishing Johnson and his bridge to Northern Ireland?

Building bridges #2

Mr David Ross, a just-about billionaire and massive Tory-party-donating schmoozer, ousted as deputy chair of Carphone Warehouse over a dodgy loan guarantee, who was listed on the Prime Minister’s latest sexpenses declaration as having provided Baris and Carrie with a free £15k holiday in the West Indies at Christmas, has denied it was he who paid for the relaxing jaunt away from the turmoil of assassinated Iranian generals, but says he merely supplied a contact with a fellow villa owner.

The hunt is now on to find out who did pay, before the Commons Standards Committee gets involved. (£15 grand is not such a lot of money, you would imagine Baris on his new PM’s salary could have afforded to pay for his own fucking holiday? Carrie’s not that hard-up either. Poor chap, must have been exhausted after toasting his election victory with his Russian friends.)

According to The Guardian report, Mr Ross was certainly in the habit of currying favor with one of Baris’ predecessors, David Cameron – like him, a fellow ‘tax exile’ – to whom he gave free helicopter rides, and sucking up to a litany of tired old A-listers with jollies at his “huge villa” on Mustique. In best Cliveden style, it is said, “prominent Tories are known to have been visitors to shooting parties at his sprawling country estate in Leicestershire”.

A Number 10 spokesmouth commented: “All transparency requirements have been followed…” Yes, you certainly can see right through them.

These are just the sort of chaps we want running New Britain.

 

Zombie genes

Paleontologists are excited over the discovery of an entire set of chromosomes dating back to our time in Africa, that have no known corresponding fossil relics to prove that the bearers ever existed. They’re calling it the ‘ghost population” – an unknown species of human that must have lived half a million years ago, and cross-bred with known populations, passing its genetic inheritance down to modern people.

All West Africans tested so far have up to 20 per cent of this mysterious hinterland coursing through their veins. Given their geographical location, muses The Pumpkin, it must surely have spread through slavery “comforts” to white Americans. He suggests US geneticists should have a look. Maybe it’s that mythical “stupid gene” Trump voters have inherited.

 

Suffer little children

Anyone who disbelieves in the Millennium Bug should read the following tale.

“A 101-year-old Italian man who has been in London since 1966 was asked to get his parents to confirm his identity by the Home Office after he applied to stay in the country post-Brexit.

“In what appears to be a computer glitch (his birthdate of 1919 came up as 2019) the Home Office thought he was a one-year-old child.”

Yet they STILL WROTE TO HIM! Demanding 5 years’ tax records to show qualifying continuous residency.

This cowboy bunch are not fit for purpose and must be disbanded.

(Reporting: Guardian)

 

The madness of King Donald

After reminding his cheering, swivel-eyed dumbfucks at a spoiler rally on the other side of town from the Democrats’ New Hampshire primary that public healthcare and social security had never been safer than in his tiny hands, after a chilling remark about how he’s not allowed to say how beautiful Ivanka is because she’s his daughter, Trump unveiled his 2021 budget.

It contains a trillion dollars in cuts to public healthcare and social security programs to pay for yet more military spending, more of his border wall and other immigration controls, and bigger tax breaks for the wealthy.

He also outlined a further massive cut in the budget of the organization that’s struggling to contain the coronavirus and a major ‘flu epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, and proposed to slash the US contribution to the World Health Organization by 50 per cent.

He sure hates America.

 

Yet another book about the insanity in the White House recounts how, when Reince Priebus, who comes from Wisconsin, was Trump’s first Chief of Staff, Trump would get into a weird riff over the state’s official mascot, the badger, about which he appeared to know little. “Are badgers mean to people?” he asked. “How do badgers work?”

 

GW: I’ll take a little water in that

Antarctic: “has registered a temperature of more than 20C (68F) for the first time in history, prompting fears of climate instability in the world’s greatest repository of ice. The 20.75C logged by Brazilian scientists at Seymour Island on 9 February was almost a full degree higher than the previous record of 19.8C, taken on Signy Island in January 1982.” (Guardian)

Brazil: “Heavy rain has affected wider areas of the state of São Paulo, 11 Feb., with severe flooding reported in the city of Botucatu, where 1 person has died and 2 are missing. 3 have been killed elsewhere in 88 reported mudslides. Some places recorded more rain in 3 hours than normally seen in the entire month of February.”

Bolivia: floods, 1 dead.

Indonesia: Jakarta, hit again. Several rivers overflowed, 1.7 meters of floodwater in places. No casualties. Up to 150 mm of rain fell in 24 hours, in the north of the province.

Australia: “Torrential rain has been falling in parts of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, since 07 February, 2020, causing rivers to rise and flash flooding. Strong winds have also caused damage and thousands of homes have been without power. Sydney received 391.6 mm of rain between 07 and 10 February, more than three times the average for the whole of February.” Narcoola, Queensland, had more than 230 mm in 24 hours to 11. Feb. Waves more than 5 metres high have lashed the coast, but the rain has at least replenished the city’s near-empty water reserves.

Accuweather reports: “drenching rains across NSW have extinguished 30 fires, including the Gospers Mountain “mega-blaze” (outside Sydney) which burned more than 500,000 hectares (1.24 million acres).

The industry has declared an official ‘catastrophe’ for the 6th time in 5 months after insurers received 10,000-plus claims for storm damage, with a value estimated at AUS$45 million, on top of thousands of claims for fire damage in the last 3 months.

Burundi: the flood situation has worsened. Initial reports indicate 3 dead and over 1,000 people displaced.

(All above, Floodlist reports, 12 Feb.)

Russia: Minus 25°C temperatures by day, minus 45 at night, 65 mph winds and huge snowfalls have buried the Siberian city of Norilsk in several meters of the white stuff. Videos show residents digging down from 1st-floor height to find their garage doors and clear driveways. A local bus terminal is sheltering people who can’t get back to their homes in the city. (Siberian Times)

USA: “Heavy rain that caused flooding from Louisiana to the Carolinas continued Tuesday, 11 Feb.  Many rivers and creeks were at or above flood stage. Tennessee Valley Authority said some of its rivers and lakes had received as much as 400% of their normal rainfall for this time of year. In Mississippi, emergency management officials were keeping a watch on the Oktibbeha County Lake Dam. In Jan., the dam was in imminent danger of breaching before pumping lowered the water level in the lake. Officials said the dam has again risen to the same dangerous level.” More heavy rain, wind, thunderstorms, possible tornadoes and snow are forecast this week, on the usual track. (Accuweather)

Update: 12 Feb., northern and eastern states experienced the coldest spell of the winter so far, hit by “a fierce winter storm that produced ‘near impossible’ travel conditions with near-zero visibility and strong, biting winds.” In North Dakota, Accuweather‘s own patented temperature index (basically I think it’s got something to do with how hot or cold it feels, rather than the true figure – no-one does facts anymore) plummeted overnight to minus 60 whatever. Accus?

Despite the wintry plunges, more than 5,500 new warm weather records for both highest daytime and nighttime temperatures have been set in the USA already, just in the first 40 days of 2020. Only 307 daily record lows were recorded. On 3 Feb, Atwood, Kansas posted 84°F, 29°C. (The Weather Channel)

Britain: as we prepare for Storm Dennis later in the week, around 8 thousand homes in Cumbria, in the northwest, are still without water after a main burst during Storm Ciara on 9 Feb. Updates to follow….

Tunnel approaching….

Insectaggeddon: A survey of insects hitting car windscreens in rural Denmark used data collected every summer from 1997 to 2017 and found an 80% decline in abundance. It also found a parallel decline in the number of swallows and martins, birds that live on insects. A second survey, in the UK county of Kent in 2019, examined splats in a grid placed over car registration plates, known as a “splatometer”. This revealed 50% fewer impacts than in 2004. (Guardian)

Envirocide: Trump has signed an order approving plans to open up the world-famous Utah national monument land known as Grand Staircase Escalante to drilling, opencast mining and grazing, over the objections of environmental groups and residents. Over 1 million tourists visited the site last year.

He really hates America. You have no idea.

Global weather

You think this is normal? Of course you don’t. It’s just choreography. Synchronized extinction. 140 mph winds forecast over Iceland. (Photo: probaby NOAA from Severe-weather.eu)

 

Gotland dammerung

“Taking in all stages of production, concrete is said to be responsible for 4—8% of the world’s CO2.”Guardian special report, Feb. 2019.

“Experts” have come up with an interesting idea to construct two huge dams: one between Scotland and Norway, another across the Dover strait, to seal off the southern part of the North Sea from sea-level rise and protect coastal infrastructure in the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands. The cost of this “North Sea Enclosure Dyke” is estimated at between €250bn and €500bn which, judging by the ever-multiplying cost of HS2, looks pretty conservative. Your Old Gran would suggest budgeting about £1.5 trillion, currently the entire annual GDP of the UK.

But the North Sea is mostly only 100 meters deep, having flooded relatively recently in geological time, inundating a huge area of low-lying countryside known as ‘Doggerland’. So the feasibility is looking promising, and motorway or high-speed railway lines or even a Baris-style airport “runway” across the tops; maybe the odd island tax shelter, would create a bridge between Europe and the UK that would… Oh, yes. Right. Anyway….

Your Old Gran has a somewhat jaundiced eye, sadly, and wonders how much additional sea-level rise might be occasioned by the vast volume of CO2 emissions that would be created in the production of enough concrete to build a wall 120 meters high by 635 kilometers long by, probably, 40 meters thick, given that concrete is a major known source of greenhouse gas emissions. (The 3.05 billion cu. m. needed is 9 months’ worth of total global cement production. A cubic meter of concrete weighs roughly three tonnes. 907 kg of CO2 is emitted per tonne of cement produced.)

Thanks to China’s race to modernize, concrete – made from finely ground Portland stone, a finite resource –  is also in quite short supply. We would also need to remove, grind, transport and tip, literally, whole mountains of granulated stone just for ballast. Billions of tonnes of fresh water would be needed for the mix – salt water would corrode the reinforcing bars. Perhaps desalination plants could be constructed near the sites, requiring further materials, along with the service bases and personnel housing and transport facilities. Steel reinforcement would require a major manufacturing effort, again pouring vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere from the furnaces, as steel-making is majorly energy-intensive. Again, we would be competing with China, the world’s Number One steel-making country, for supply.

So, to avoid busting the UK and EU’s 2030 target to achieve zero emissions, project-wide carbon capture and storage would have to be designed first, assuming the bedrock will take it. Nothing on this scale has been tested before.

Shipping traffic would need to be channeled through, somehow, during and after construction, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, traversed by ever-larger container ships. An environmental impact survey might show, such a project might not be too conducive to the happiness of marine life. The barrier would have possibly unknown effects in transferring tidal and wave energy to other contiguous coastlines, for instance the Baltic sea, even possibly affecting the weather.

I suppose we should consider, too, the possibility that, like the Mediterranean has at times in the past, without throughflow such an enclosed body of water might eventually dry up, creating miles of festering, malaria-ridden swamplands. And then the sheer weight of the thing – what would be the geomorphic effects? On the plus side, we might, I suppose, incorporate tidal energy generation as a bonus.

It would, frankly, be easier and cheaper to move London to the Chilterns, and Amsterdam to the Caucasus.

So, who is going to build this supermassive project?

It’s, er, projected to run on for 20 years, from 2030 up to 2050. By that time, constructors will be battling with half a meter of sea level rise and may need to divert resources to other, short-term flood protection measures, such as raising the height of the Thames barrier. They will be competing on price and supply for raw materials with other parts of the world equally or more affected by rising sea level, where skilled labor will be in great demand; but where violent nativism may erupt against the import of foreign labor. It’s already being predicted, probably conservatively, that barring socio-economic collapse, demand for concrete will have increased by 2 billion tonnes annually by 2050. It would, frankly, be easier and cheaper to move London to the Chilterns, and Amsterdam to the Caucasus.

What will the period of construction look like?

If this winter’s activity in the North Atlantic is anything to go by, in the 20 years after 2030 an immigrant labor force (for such it will have to be) of maybe 20 to 30 thousand workers, especially on the more difficult northern phase, will have to contend with frequent cyclonic storms: 180 mph sustained winds, with gusts over 240 mph and 90-ft waves (windspeeds in the Faroe Islands reached 140 mph during one storm this January). Daytime temperatures might veer by as much as 100 degrees Celsius, from plus 50 in summer on the southerly phase, to minus 50 in dark winter in the north. Additional resources will have to be devoted to healthcare, as the workforce are likely to be riddled with tropical diseases; and to the production of artificial, nutrient-rich foods.

Of course, human labor is unlikely to be the solution by then. The bulk of the work will have to be undertaken by robots, armed with at least some degree of expensive, autonomous AI requiring a large number of skilled programmers, operators and maintenance crews; the advantage being, these specialists could work from anywhere in the world.

Is it worth all that, just to protect a couple of hundred miles of vulnerable coastline? I suppose the infrastructure along those coasts is economically very valuable, but what might its role be, by the time we find ourselves in the Mad Max, dog-eat-cat, scarcity-driven geopolitics of the late 2030s? Will the project be sustainable by then? We are not going to stop global heating this century, if ever.

Anyway, it certainly dwarfs Donald Trump’s manic obsession with his wall to keep out a few drug mules and abused children from crossing along the entire 2,000-mile southern frontier of the USA.

Plus, we have nothing much else to think about. (Insert Orange Mussolini face.)

But for God’s sake, don’t suggest it to Baris. He’s a sucker for big, shiny toys.

(Original reporting: Guardian)

The Pumpkin – Issue 114: It’s Chaos, Jim, but not as we knew it, Parts 1 and 2… GW: Blow, thou Winter wind…

A pangolin

The Chinese with their revolting dietary habits – to us in the West – eat endangered Pangolins and imagine they have medicinal properties. Just so you know where the coronavirus is now thought to have originated, with a 99% probability, it started in bats driven to seek refuge in cities as their forest habitat vanishes, and is passed on via carrier species like the harmless, bumbling little Pangolin, sold alive in ‘wet’ markets.

QotW:

“When justice stops being effective (or when crimes of corruption stop being punished) and when political vio­lence is no longer a threat, there is nothing left to cause fear in those who govern shamelessly, that is, buoyed by a mood they aren’t in control of and that no one is on hand to countervail. What will then happen to the repub­lic?” – Patrick Boucheron: Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching People What to Fear.

 

It’s Chaos, Jim, but not as we knew it

1

“Anyone else want to speak up? Anyone else want to testify truthfully under oath what they saw, what they know?”

Thus, Rachel Maddow at MSNBC reports with rue on the fate of the witnesses who dared to testify against Trump in Congressional hearings on Quid-pro-quo-gate; and, by inference, on the fate of democracy and the rule of law in America.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSPpcKn759Q

As Trump exacts his revenge, a monster without a shred of honesty or magnanimity, it is getting more like 1930s Germany by the day.

The greasy Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, who originally opposed Trump’s nomination; who had to put up with Trump accusing his father of being involved in the Kennedy assassination, and maligning his ‘ugly’ wife, yet who adoringly votes with him every time, has owned up that every GOP Senator who voted to acquit knew Trump was lying.

Meanwhile, Ohio Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown has written in an op-ed in the NYT that his private conversations with Republican colleagues have revealed a startling admission: it was fear, that led them to deny the nation justice.

Among themselves, murmuring in dark corridors and down holes, they admit it: they are scared witless of this thuggish, uneducated braggart in the White House. You know, the mob boss who boasted on TV that they wouldn’t vote to expel him because he had succeeded in burying the evidence. Why, because he will have them killed, or kidnap their grandchildren – if he hasn’t already?

No. They are, literally, frightened almost to death that if they go against him, he will insult them with a nasty nickname in a tweet, and their voters in November will scorn them.

And for that, as their underwear turned yellow and brown and began to mightily stink out the Senate, accompanied by the mumbled lies and fanciful theories of the president’s well-paid horde of crooked deceivers, they perjured themselves and one another and dragged the USA deeper and down into the cloaca of history.

Flying in the face of all the admitted facts and lying themselves stupid on matters of constitutional law, after a ‘trial’ at which no witnesses were allowed and none of the evidence was examined, under the experienced judicial eye – closed – of a complaisant shill from the Supreme Court, Mr Justice ‘Dishonorable’ Roberts, another fearful coward, they voted en bloc to acquit, to absolve and exonerate the most criminal and traitorous president ever to take a dump on the Oval Office carpet.

And admit publicly to no shame.

(Coming to a polity near you.)

Promises, promises

From Norquist, Deputy Secretary of Defense, writing on behalf of Secretary Esper – who had previously given flowery guarantees of protection for DoD whistleblowers:

“Let me assure you, the Department will not tolerate any act of retaliation or reprisal against them (i.e. Lt Col Vindman and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Laura Cooper, both of whom gave evidence in the Congressional hearings.) … Please know, we take our responsibility to protect our people very seriously.”

Both were subjected to an intense campaign of vilification led by the defendant during the impeachment phase. Yesterday, Trump fired them; the super-loyal Purple Heart veteran Vindman being humiliatingly removed from the building by Trump’s goons and dismissed the service. Just for luck, Vindman’s twin brother, White House lawyer Evgeny was also escorted out, even though he had not given evidence against the orange – what do we call him now, King? Emperor? Tinpot Dictator? Tsar?

Welcome to your fascist state, America.

 

2

Meanwhile, in the world

There are so many reports of rapidly intensifying cyclonic storms in the north Atlantic and Pacific currently, that your Old Granny Weatherwax is  thoroughly discombobulated and confused as to which is which.

Just as Storm Ciara, which left the NE coast of the USA a couple of days ago, is set to batter Ireland and western Britain with 75-80 mph winds on 9 Feb., and an even fiercer cyclone is pushing on past Iceland into northern Europe and Scandinavia, Severe-weather.eu is reporting on yet another cyclone currently undergoing an astonishing drop in pressure – bombogenesis – heading for a hurricane-like central pressure of just 929 mb south of Greenland, and yet another that is bringing up to 18-inches of snowfall to northeastern states of the USA, up into Quebec.

Or is that Ciara? They all seem to be joined up together.

Further south in the US, there have been forecasts and some reports of life-threatening tornadoes in S Carolina, also in Mississippi where hurricane-force winds have caused damage and injuries, and thunderstorms bringing intense, record-breaking rainfall and flooding further to the SW affecting Missouri, Texas and Louisiana. 200 thousand homes were without power across a swathe of the southland, through into Florida, 6 Feb. (Accuweather)

This has been going on about once a week for months and months and months, yet it is apparently not a news story in itself: only individual events and tragedies make headlines for a day. And where is all that storm energy going, the wind and the waves – the warm air and water? Why, on up into the high Arctic, screwing with the jetstream and preventing ice formation.

Were it not for the worldwide panic over the Chinese coronavirus, and the extreme wildfires that have affected half of the entire population of Australia in the past three months, Trump’s impeachment and his disgusting ‘victory’ speeches, I imagine the sheer mayhem this extreme weather is unleashing on us would be making more of a … er… splash. Yet we have seen no joined-up journalism even attempting an overview of what has been going on; even when places as far apart as the Faroe Islands and Croatia have been experiencing 140-mph winds, between spells of record winter warmth, and record snowfall in places like southeastern Turkey, where dozens have died.

My last collection of tales from the leading edge of climate change reported on two dozen severe rainfall events and floods, all around the world from New Zealand to East Africa to Central and South America to Alaska. There can absolutely no denying that the weather in many regions is becoming persistently wetter and more violent, certainly as the result of warming oceans and the climate.

It’s frankly chaos out there, but we all carry on, frowning at our little phones, looking for meaning that never comes.

 

Update on coronavirus: 8 Feb 00.00 hrs: 34,000 cases, 719 deaths – all but 2 in China. Death rate in Hunan city is 4%, twice the national average.

Update on the update: 9 Feb., 10.00 hrs., 37, 594 cases, 814 deaths – overtakes SARS. Still just 2 deaths outside Chinese-speaking territories. Ratio increases to 47:1.

Sunday night update: 9 Feb., 22.00., cases 40, 234; deaths 906. Over 6,000 ‘Severe’. Worsening ratio 44.3:1.

Tuesday morning, 11 Feb., 43,106; 1,018. (Data: Worldometer) About 4,000 cases are listed as ‘recovered’.

 

The madness of King Donald

Trump has lashed out at an anonymous leaker after a photo of him with his hair blowing back in the wind, showing an alarming color contrast between the pallor of his skin at the hairline and his bright orange face, went viral, claiming it was ‘fake news’ and obviously Photoshopped. “Anything to demean!”, he commented.

Then he retweeted an obviously fake news, potoshopped image of Nancy Pelosi and Senate leader, the Jewish Chuck Schumer, wearing Islamic dress, with an Iranian flag in the background.

Anything to demean, for this filthy, lying old slopbucket.

 

GW: Blow, thou Winter wind

Warmest January on record – and still no El Niño. See below.

USA: At least 5 people have died and hundreds have evacuated their homes after a powerful winter storm swept through southeastern USA from 4 Feb. Severe flash flooding has been reported in parts of Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. Tornado watches have been issued for areas from Florida to North Carolina. 1 person died and another was injured after strong winds destroyed two mobile homes near Demopolis, Alabama. Another fatality was reported near Sevierville, Tennessee, when a tree fell on a vehicle. A state of emergency was declared in Virginia. (From Floodlist)

Meanwhile, storms, heavy rain and rapid snowmelt in the Northwest of USA have prompted the governors of Washington and Oregon states to declare emergencies. Flooding has closed roads and led to evacuations in both states.

Both Severe-weather.eu and Accuweather anticipate heavy snowfall with accumulations up to 18 inches in Northeastern states going up into Canada as a cyclone undergoes rapid bombogenesis overland.

Australia: “Rain and floods have hit the eastern states of New South Wales and Queensland, and some drought-affected regions have received their heaviest rainfall in two years. Although it’s welcome, more sustained rainfall over months is needed to break the drought.” (BBC Weather) Roughly a third of the wildfires still burning in NSW have been reportedly extinguished by the rain, but there are further fears of ash from fires turning to river-polluting slurry, killing millions of fish and threatening extinction for Red Book species.

The Mail reports that panic buying has set in in townships along the northwest Australian coast, supermarket shelves stripped bare as Cyclone Damien at Cat 4 threatens to be one of the most dangerous storms to hit the Pilbara region in years, continuous windspeeds of 140 km/h leading to widespread disruption.

Update: 9 Feb., Damien is delivering violent and destructive winds with gusts above 240 km/h, torrential rains with flooding and major storm surge on the coast. (Severe-weather.eu ) Text exchange reported between neighbors: : “Your roof is gone”… “I know. Am under kitchen table.”

Another update: on the other side of the country, Sydney has been hammered for three days by the most powerful rainstorm in over 20 years, measured at Cat 1. 1 person is missing. Trees and power lines were down and streets flooded. Power has been cut and transport impacted from Katoomba to Kurnell – winds were so strong, waterfalls were videoed flowing uphill – but “the wild weather isn’t over yet”. (7 News)

Zambia: Hundreds of people have fled their homes as parts of the country have flooded for the third time since late December. There are no reports of casualties. (From Floodlist) “Torrential downpours in South Africa have caused havoc on roads around Johannesburg. In some areas flooding has prompted residents to evacuate their homes.” Heavy rain and flooding has continued in Tanzania. Media report at least 40 fatalities, 1,750 houses destroyed and 15,000 people displaced.

Turkey: Up to one meter of new snow is anticipated over northeastern Turkey and up into the Caucasus mountains as an intense cold zone forms again over southeastern central Europe, the Balkans and the Black Sea region in the next few days. These are among areas that were enjoying record warm winter temperatures only a few days ago. Instead, that heat is transferring up into northern Europe and Scandinavia. (Severe-weather.eu )

Spain: eastern Spain has experienced its highest ever temperatures in a series of winter heatwaves this past month – 4 Feb., Valencia airport hit +29.6 °C (80.2 °F) and set a new all-time February record, Javea / Xabia reached +28.9 °C while the city of Alicante hit +28.6 °C. On 3 Feb., temperatures topped 27°C in northern Italy. (Severe-weather.eu )

Britain: Storm Ciara with recorded wind gusts of up to 97 mph brought travel chaos, 9 Feb., as over 170 Amber flood warnings and warnings of ‘possibly life threatening’ coastal conditions were issued, bridges closed, rail and ferry services and flights cancelled and sports fixtures called off. Blizzards brought up to 20cm of snow in the north. 20 thousand homes in the south were without power. In Ireland, around 10 thousand homes lost power as an Orange warning covered the country and western coastal promenades were closed. (BBC, RTE) Temperatures in the mid-teens °C were around twice the February average.

viirs_nat_overview_20200207_1433North Atlantic: “An impressive rapid intensification of a new cyclone is already ongoing into the far North Atlantic, south of Greenland and west of Iceland – central pressure should drop more than 30 mbar in 24 hours and push below 930 mbar early Saturday, 8 Feb. Violent hurricane-force winds are (already) developing around the center” (Severe-weather.eu) Waves in excess of 40-ft have been observed, driven by 140 km/h Storm Ciara towards the Irish coast.

World: last month globally was the warmest January on record, 0.77C above the 1981-2010 average. January in Europe was an astonishing 3.1C above the 1981-2010 average. In parts of Russia, January 2020 was over 10°C above the 1981-2010 average. Scandinavia too has been exceptionally warm. Overall, the winter period so far is 0.6°C warmer than average, although some places were surprisingly cooler – East Africa, for instance. (Copernicus)

The following graphs are pinched from Severe-weather.eu, which is part of the European Copernicus Earth Observation program. Any politician looking at this and not seeing a pattern should realize what a totally useless, moronic cunt they are, and go run a whelk stall – if they can find one.

ts_1month_anomaly_Global_ea_2t_202001_v01-1

 

Tunnel approaching….

Bees: A University of Ottawa study suggests the likelihood of a bumblebee population surviving in any given place has declined by 30% in the course of a single human generation. The researchers say the rates of decline appear to be “consistent with a mass extinction”. Populations are declining fastest where the normal climate is heating most rapidly.

 

In the long run we’re all dead… Double Identity… Don’t feel you have to leave… Look on the bright side… Pot, kettle #106… GW: just sinking in the rain… The crimes of one’s youth.

QotW

“Brexit belongs to this era in one quintessential way. It is an act of the imagination, inspired by an imaginary past, carried along by misdirected grievances, borne aloft by an imaginary future.”– Columnist Roger Cohen, New York Times.

 

In the long run we’re all dead

The seldom knowingly understated Daily Express is reporting on a random computer simulation, showing that the Chinese Fish ‘Flu coronavirus could end up killing “65 million” people around the world.

The BogPo has done a computer simulation of its own.

Given that the infections-to-deaths ratio has been running consistently to date at 47:1, a little over 2%, it would require 3.05 billion people to catch the virus, to produce a death toll that high. At the current rate of spread of the infection, about 2,500 new cases a day, it would take 344 years to kill 65 million people.

By which time, most of them would tend to be dead anyway.

Update: 5 Feb., 24,558 cases, but overnight deaths are at 493, roughly a halving of the nightly rate for the past two weeks. (49:1)

Update update: 6 Feb., 28,018 cases, 563 dead. (49.7:1 – again an improvement in morbidity but a larger number of overnight deaths is reflected in a bigger leap in the number of cases reported.)

Sort of further update: 6 Feb., a third case has been confirmed in the UK, unconnected with the first two. Patient from Brighton is in an isolation unit. Dr Li, the 34-year-old ophthalmologist who first tried to alert the authorities in Wuhan to a new disease and was silenced, has died of it.

Friday morning: 31,400 cases; 630 deaths. Ratio 49.8:1, again a very marginal improvement possibly due to earlier detection and treatment. 61 cases have now been confirmed aboard the horror cruise liner stranded at Yokohama with 2,660 passengers and 800 crew trapped aboard.

Hyundai has suspended car production at its giant Ulsan manufacturing plant in S Korea, owing to Chinese parts drying up. N Korea has reported its first case, a woman who’d been visiting Wuhan. Hospital workers in Hong Kong remain on strike, demanding closure of the border with the mainland. Supermarkets are reporting empty shelves after a wave of panic buying.

 

Double Identity

Speaking of panic, I watched the last-of-the current-series episode of “Silent Witness” last night – for any foreigners, it’s a long-running BBC Drama CSI-stroke-pathology-lab procedural in which a large and internationally respected forensics institute is entirely staffed by just four mentally tortured individuals, who solve crimes the cops can’t or won’t by cutting up corpses in a gruesomely explicit way, reconstructing broken hard drives and watching hours of CCTV: the unlikely premise being that they work so closely with the police, they’re even invited to sit in on interrogations and interview witnesses.

Spoiler: In this episode, Dalek-with-hands, computers-stroke-tiny-fragments-whizz, Clarissa Mullery is leaving to look after her old mum – popular disability icon Liz Carr has got a part in a Hollywood movie – while tall, handsome, anal CEO and troubled single-father, Thomas Chamberlain (Richard Lintern) gets written off – and out of Series #397 – by an escaped Porton Down experimental military nerve agent that goes straight through ordinary masks; nobly sacrificing himself to save chemically stricken, kickboxing crimescene cluehound, brooding Ulsterman, Jack Hodgson (David Caves).

The evening’s weirdness was compounded by watching Thomas writhing in his death-agony on the lab floor, doors barred to keep the foul stuff safely inside while he mentally computes the formula that will save Psycho Jack.

Following his demise, as the credits rolled I switched over to continue binge-watching Series 3, Episode 9 of a timeshifted mid-afternoon, do and say nothing to upset the old biddies, quirky but amiably watchable private-eye, he-she buddy series called (it’s set in Stratford-on-Avon) Shakespeare and Hathaway, in which two bungling amateurs and their faggy, wannabe-actor assistant prove they’re cleverer than the local clueless but hostile smartypants Detective Inspector.

Five minutes had barely passed in a late-evening whisky haze before, damn-me, if Thomas-slash-Lintern wasn’t miraculously resurrected, popping up on-screen as the tall, handsome etc. smooth-talking, property-developing villain who bumps off a bonkers ghostbuster (played by another disability icon, Francesca Martinez) to stop her contacts in the spirit world proving he doesn’t own the land under the local pub.

The idea of the suave, 6’1″ Lintern climbing in through a window round the back or visiting a small campervan to knock off a woman with cerebral palsy, a feat we aren’t shown, was almost more BBC Drama than I could take. For the first time ever I thought it might be worth contacting the Issues Helpline number they always tack onto the end of the show, in case you’re feeling worried.

 

Don’t feel you have to leave

Am I alone in finding some elements of this viral story rather odd?

Last week there was a big to-do in the news for a few days, about an evacuation flight laid on for British and Spanish citizens, mainly, fleeing the outbreak in Wuhan. As the Wuhanese were streaming out of the city before they were finally banged-up, spreading the stuff everywhere, we heard about people not being able to bring their Chinese wives and kids out, the plane not being allowed to take off, the scramble to find a quarantine space and the rest. Travel bans were being put in place everywhere.

In the end the Brits boarded, flew, were dropped off as the plane went on to Spain and are now in isolation in a Cheshire hospital. To date none has tested positive. Other nations have had similar stories to tell, of evacuation flights. A German flight unwittingly brought back a number of positive cases. The plague is rife aboard a stricken cruise liner at Yokohama. There cannot be any non-Chinese resident left in Hubei province who doesn’t know the virus poses a risk.

Now, a week later, the Foreign Office has perked up and brightly advised British nationals in China that: “You should think about leaving if you can”…. And epidemiologists are being quoted as saying the advice “will come as a relief” to those who remain. What, they think being advised to leave is the same as getting a flight out? Because it’s a long way to bloody walk. And that people need permission from HMG?

They don’t think these people will have made up their own minds yet, or what? That they’re not capable of deciding what to do until the Foreign Office tells them it’s okay to act in their own best interests – if they can? For fuck’s sake! How disconnected from real life do scientists have to be?

The British Foreign Office it seems to me, is in an advanced state of not having the faintest idea what to do either, and is fully symptomatic of this shambles of a government halfwitted voters have just elected, that is being run not by the elected politicians but by scheming teenaged advisors and ambitious ideopaths who couldn’t collectively organize a shit in a 2-gallon bucket.

But as they say, talk’s cheap.

(Postscriptum: 5 Feb., the FO has announced overnight one further, final, take-it-or-leave it charter flight out on Sunday, in conjunction with the French, although we gather the Chinese authorities may not yet have agreed to it. Spreading the virus around the world is not something Premier Xi wants to see happening. At home, a row has erupted over a meeting the Chinese ambassador had with the Prime Minister’s father, a man of no position but whom the Ambassador mistook for an official emissary. China’s participation in the disastrously disorganized COP-26 conference in Glasgow in the Autumn is now uncertain.)

And the latest medical advice, with still just the two British cases confirmed after a week is, if you’ve been to China and you don’t feel well, stay home.

The image of mummefied corpses being found everywhere in a year’s time, clutching their return tickets, bolt upright in their armchairs with the telly still hissing, by social workers and bailiffs (repo-men) keen to recover the rent arrears springs to mind, as for sure, GPs won’t be making house calls. Nor do most people have the specialized life-support apparatus at home, which serious cases require.

Duh!

Plagiarism corner

Followers, Likers, Spammers and Those No Longer Reading this, muh bogl, may well include journalists at the Express.

I deduce this because you lovelies will all kno’ that I drew everyone’s attention many days ago to the comparative data from the official US ‘Centers for Disease Control’ in Atlanta, Georgia, showing that while the US had identified only eight cases of coronavirus by the middle of last week, over 19 MILLION Americans had already been struck down by seasonal Type A avian H1N1 ‘flu, 180 thousand had been hospitalized, and 10 thousand had already died.

We might perhaps recall that as of 2017/18, 27.3 million Americans had no health insurance at all, relying entirely for survival on the hit-and-miss state-funded Medicaid service – and many more still have no insurance for the pre-existing conditions that will have weakened them against things like ‘flu and other viruses.

The Hill has asked the question, why are Americans so terrified of foreign viruses like the coronavirus and ebola, that offer them almost no threat, but don’t appear to care that homegrown viruses are making millions sick and killing around 30 thousand Americans a year? Curiously, the site is still quoting the CDC’s figures from early last week. Their answer is probably that word ‘foreign’, but let’s not forget the huge numbers of gullible fucknuts who swear by the anti-vaxxer message.

Maybe something smelling of Trump’s asshole, Goop by Trump, will keep them safe?

The story also appeared in the Express today, 4 Feb., using the same figures as we reported last week – although they should logically have changed by now, the mystery as we have also previously mentioned being, the CDC website is no longer even reporting it and therefore it’s difficult to check.

Your Uncle Bogler has pondered this enigma, and has come up with one of his finer conspiracy theories.

Coronavirus fears have hit the Asian stockmarkets hard over the past few days. God forbid even worse news on the health front from the USA should be allowed to cause a similar shutdown of industry there, causing Trump-unhelpful jitters in the rise and rise of the ever-bloating Dow Jones Index; his only positive economic indicator. Silence, as they say, is golden.

But the problem is possibly more prosaic. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2017:

“…the agency is the target of deep spending cuts under Trump’s budget proposal. His budget draft would have cut the CDC’s spending by $1.2 billion, which health experts warned could hamper the agency’s disease-fighting efforts and immunization programs. (Former Director, Dr Tom) Frieden called them ‘unsafe at any level of enactment.'”

Yep, the CDC’s been hacked back to pay for Trump’s tax cuts for the billionaires.

Welcome to your fascist state, America,

 

“Can the clusterfuck that COP-26 is turning into make us look any less useless?”

Look on the bright side

I seldom see anyone commenting on a peculiar fact of economics. The worse the news gets, the higher the markets seem to bounce.

Both oil prices and global markets had been sagging over the past few days owing to what the WHO is on the verge of declaring is a global pandemic, that has already had a depressing effect on industrial output in China.

But market jitters never seem to last long, even though the news may be bad. On the basis of one unconfirmed rumor that a Chinese lab has found a ‘cure’ for the coronavirus, which even if true would take months of trials before it could be released, this morning the men who bet on flies have resumed cheerfully buying stocks and oil futures as if the whole thing was just a bad dream.

Grab it while you can, I say.

Meanwhile, the pound is creeping up against the Euro and the dollar, even while HMG dithers over HS2, productivity remains through the floor and Vanishing Johnson reveals the culture of bungling incompetence at Number 10 as he faffs about trying to find anyone willing to organize the make-or-break COP-26 conference on climate change Britain is supposedly playing host to next Autumn, with no help from him.

That’s if Border Force’s goons will allow any of the darker-tinted delegates into the country.

Nor can anyone finally decide where to hold it, as the PM refuses to allow the Scottish parliament to have an input in the globally important event supposedly being held in Glasgow, in case it makes them look too independent; so Ms Sturgeon has gone and booked up all the best venues around the city for as-yet unspecified purposes. (Retaliation denied.)

Still, the UK already looks laughably dysfunctional after three years of Brex… sorry, of leaving the EU-type clusterfuckery, that’s still going on, with positions on a trade agreement hardening on both sides. Can the clusterfuck that COP-26 is also turning into make us look any less useless and irrelevant on the world stage than we already do?

And capitalists haven’t changed their spots. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways has told its workforce they should voluntarily take three months off to allow for the dip in air travel owing to coronavirus – without pay.

So, nothing to see there. Buy!

 

Pot, kettle #106

Mike Lynch was thought of as a successful British entrepreneur, who sold his Cambridge-based tech company to the late Hewlett Packard for $8 billion, only for HP to have to writedown almost $9 billion a year later, claiming they’d been conned.

“In the civil fraud case in London,” reports the Guardian,  “HP’s successor companies allege Lynch fraudulently inflated the value of Autonomy before its acquisition by HP. The businessman, once hailed as Britain’s answer to Bill Gates, has been accused of lying repeatedly and inventing evidence in the witness box.” And has surrendered himself to the court, facing extradition proceedings that could land him with a 25-year sentence in a Federal house of correction alongside Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort.

The Pumpkin has no idea if accounting skulduggery took place or not. It looks like the people who bought out Hewlett Packard are just a bit pissed and need to make some money back quickly.

But he wonders when the Department of Justice might take it into its woolly old head to ask some pertinent questions about credible accusations that Trump deliberately inflated his asset values to fraudulently obtain $2 billion in loans from Deutsche Bank, secured against worthless junk bonds and nebulous guarantees from Russian signatories?

And how those loans were approved despite America’s answer to Dick Dastardly being red-flagged as a money-launderer and serial defaulter? A repeated liar (16.4 thousand and counting) and an inventor of evidence in his own impeachment trial?

At least we’re not hearing that Lynch has threatened and intimidated witnesses and bribed jurors.

The problem being that the main witness who could testify for or against Trump, the Deutsche Bank wealth management division (Enrich) executive Thomas Bowers who approved his loans was found tragically suicided at his agreeable Malibu home last November.

Oh dear, what a trial.

And one in which Mr Trump would certainly have been totally, completely and fully exonerated. Perfect, in fact.

 

GW: we’re sinking in the rain

Turkey: At least 23 rescue workers have been killed on a mountain road in eastern Turkey, 5 Feb., after they were hit by an avalanche while searching for two people missing in an earlier snowslide, that had already killed 5 people. 30 rescue workers were pulled out alive, but emergency teams were still searching for other colleagues who might be buried under the snow. (Guardian)

Malawi: “1 person has died and hundreds have been displaced after flooding in the north that began on 1 Feb. after heavy rain caused several rivers to break their banks. Over 450 households in the district have been displaced due to flooding of the North Rukuru river. Food stores have been damaged or destroyed. Crops and livestock have also suffered.” (Floodlist) News emerges two weeks late from the northwest of Burundi, too, of floods that killed at least 3 people and displaced over 1,000.

New Zealand: a Red-level emergency is in operation on South Island after a meter of rain (39 in.) fell in Southland in just 60 hours. 100 hikers and about 70 people in vehicles were stranded by flooding and road closures in the tourist area of Fiordland. Hundreds more were evacuated to shelters. Helicopters flew over the bush trails to find and rescue those stuck. Fears are growing that floodwater may enter a chemical store in Mataura and release a cloud of toxic ammonia.” (Guardian)

Indonesia: At least 3 people have died in recent flooding in Papua New Guinea, Floodlist reports. “Homes and two bridges were destroyed in the floods. At least two more people are thought to be missing.”

USA: “When the system arrives over the southeast US and East Coast, rapid surface cyclogenesis takes place and significantly worsening conditions develop. A violent winter storm spreads across the northeast, introducing very heavy rain and severe winds across the region, but also very dangerous conditions in the cyclone’s wake where violent blizzards develop. Extremely high temperatures are expected before the front pushes through.” (Severe-weather.eu).

Canada: A state of emergency remains in place in some Vancouver Island communities after flooding forced residents from their homes and shut down roads over the weekend. Heavy rain hit the area Friday and into the early morning of Saturday, prompting the district to issue evacuation orders as water levels rose in rivers and streams in the region. (CBC) Let’s hope Meghan and Harry can swim.

Australia: flood warnings are out in fire-ravaged New South Wales as heavy rain and thunderstorms begin to batter the region. Western Australia, a tropical low off the north coast is expected to develop into a tropical cyclone on Thursday morning, 6 Feb. It’s expected to deepen and could become a Cat 3 cyclone by Saturday as it moves toward land, although there’s still uncertainty as to whether it would make landfall. (Guardian) Severe-weather.eu reports on a second cyclone, Invest 92P, forming off Vanuatu.

Brazil: Wunderground reported, 29 Jan., on an “unprecedented multi-day stretch of torrential rain and destructive flooding at a time of year when frequent rainfall is already the norm. Flooding from a rare south Atlantic cyclone, Kurumi took at least 58 lives and displaced some 30,000 people. States of emergency were declared for more than 100 communities in the state of Minas Gerais.” Total rainfall through January of 809.7 mm (31.88”) was more than 250% of the January average, according to Brazil’s national meteorological institute.

France: Days of heavy rain have caused flooding as rivers rose to near-record levels in parts of eastern France. Three weeks’ worth of winter rain fell in one 24 hour period. Emergency services carried out flood rescues in Luxembourg, where several roads had to be closed due to flooding. (from Floodlist)

Croatia: and it’s ‘batten down the hatches’ as winds gusting to more than 200 km/hr (125 mph – hurricane force 3) are forecast over the Balkans tonight, 5 Feb. (Severe-weather.eu) Update: Earth Changes Media reports, Cyclone Teodor left 1 person dead and 22 injured, along with much property damage.

British Isles: Another of those giant Atlantic cyclones we’ve been reporting, Storm Ciara is expected to bring ‘very unsettled’ weather on Saturday night. 8 Feb., and into Sunday. “People can expect delays to road, rail and air travel, and those living by the coast could be affected by large waves and sea spray. The Met Office also warned of possible power cuts and building damage caused by the high winds, which are expected to last for more than 24 hours.” (BBC)

Antarctica: has logged its hottest temperature on record, 18.3C, beating the previous record by 0.8C. The reading, taken at Esperanza on the northern tip of the continent’s peninsula, beats Antarctica’s previous record of 17.5C, set in March 2015. (Guardian)

Tunnel approaching…

Japan: 2,660 passengers aboard a Japanese cruise liner are being quarantined, ordered to remain in their fetid cabins at Yokohama after 10 tested positive for coronavirus and were transferred to hospitals onshore. They include two Australians and an American. It brings the number of confirmed cases in Japan to 35. (Japan Times)

Update: 6 Feb., another 10 cases have been confirmed aboard the Diamond Princess.

The Taal volcano in the Philippines‘ Luzon island is still rumbling away, with over 130 earthquakes a day felt locally, up to M4. Experts expect the island volcano to erupt again soon, which means it probably won’t. 150 thousand people were evacuated when it blew its top last month.

Daily Excess: sorry to draw on this bizarre website for something interesting to write about, again, but I couldn’t resist retweeting this standfirst from a 4 Feb. story:

“World War 3 panic: US launch devastating terror airstrike as it bids to make ‘US safer’”

Yes, folks, a routine drone strike on an al-Shabaab guerilla base in rural Somalia at the weekend, causing one fatality, is going to start World War Three…. Don’t think so, lads. Nice try.

I’m trying to ignore another story, too, that warns us NASA is worried about a killer asteroid hitting Earth. Not a specific asteroid, it turns out. Just any old asteroid, really. Lots to choose from. Not much we can do about it.

Yet a third sensational headline about USGS finding a ‘smoking gun’ at the Yellowstone volcano turns out to be a story about how scientists first discovered that the entire park was really the caldera of a giant supervolcano – that was about 50 years ago by my reckoning. Hot news!

What is the matter with these people? How panic-stricken do they think we are?

Don’t answer that.

Decarb: “More than 90% of the £2bn in energy deals struck at the inaugural UK-Africa summit last month were for fossil fuels”, The Guardian has found, despite the UK government’s commitment to “support African countries in their transition to cleaner energy”. A publicly-funded investment program, The Private Infrastructure Development Group has also been found by NGO, Global Witness to have invested three-quarters of a billion pounds in fossil fuel projects, thus helping to dump a large percentage of the UK’s much-vaunted cut in CO2 emissions on the Third World.

 

Short Essay….

The crimes of one’s youth

A Commenter called Albs posted a few choice paragraphs this morning under another splendid cartoon by The Guardian‘s Steve Bell, showing Trump as a grossly naked and wobbling Venus on the half-shell, Botticelli’s famous painting, shit pouring out of his signature Bell motif, his head wearing a gold toilet seat for hair, as a craven-looking Senator McConnell rushes to clothe him in the American flag

Tragically for Albs, in his or her last line the word obviously meant to be ‘threw’ emerges as ‘through’, and another Commenter called Albs – oh, I see it is in fact the same split-personality – later writes ‘threw, not through, you numbnuts’, a Comment which captures the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation as other Commenters rush to reassure her/him that anyone can make a mistake and he/she is not to dwell on it.

Trump’s miraculous deliverance and his coronation, not to say his apotheosis at the hands of a broken and wretched Congress, the abysmally corrupt and crime-complicit GOP, are forgotten.

Your Uncle Bogler, however, recalls how, 58 years ago, back in 1962, while sitting his Common Entrance History paper, he made a literary gaffe of such egregious and monumental stupidity that it became in his mind a crime he has never forgotten, and still shudders at to this day.

Despite having worked for many years at the coalface of textual conception and analysis: in news, in advertising, in publishing – he edited more than 150 ‘serious’ books – despite the many millions of words committed to paper since in an editorial career of little and poorly rewarded distinction, your old Uncle has never, ever forgotten the shame of realizing, too late, that he had written of the ’emasculation’, instead of the ’emancipation’, of women.

A mistake which he feels is at the core of his ‘impostor syndrome’, that has dogged him all his working life.

For, this was clearly not an intentionally precocious alignment with the core tenet of feminism. He was, for Christ’s sake, only 12 years old. His mother was probably the only woman he had ever met, apart from the Headmaster’s wife, Mrs Cornes. And, he supposes, Matron. After almost six decades haunted by the shame, and with many lesser errors since logged in the celestial record, nevertheless as a working writer he has yet to expiate a literary crime of such an awful dimension, and doubts he ever shall.

So, sorry, Albs, but I fear you will have to go to your grave with the shameful memory of how your spellchecker, possibly unnoticed, once gave you ‘through’ instead of ‘threw’, and showed you up for what we all truly are, deep down.

My error has permanently emasculated, and never emancipated me. As it now has you, numbnuts

 

O Brave New World… An ill-wind… The madness of King Donald… Merci Jew coup… GW: A-tishoo, a-tishoo, we all fall down

QotW

“…no one is easier to hate than a contemptible version of oneself.” – John le Carré

No country, either. The most contemptible version of Britain emerged in notices stuck to the doors on every floor of a block of flats in Norwich today, declaring “Happy Brexit Day” and demanding that non-English residents should leave unless from now on they spoke only “the the Queens English” (sic). The notice referred to foreigners “infecting” Britain and suggested they had best “evolve” or leave.

The author, for such we must call her (probably it’s a her, it usually is a 400-pound woman in worn carpet slippers), signs off: “God save the Queen, her government and all true patriots.”

If this is what some British people have “evolved” into, then civil war cannot be far off. All comment is extraneous. In the event, the notices have been reported to the police, who are treating them as a hate crime.

Someone must have had a terrible meal once in Calais.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/feb/01/brexit-pointless-masochistic-ambition-history-done

I’m sorry, on this most dreadful day in Our Island History, I can do no more than urge you to read Ian McEwan’s piece, if you haven’t already, which says everything The BogPo would want to say about the state of Britain now, only better.

Welcome to our Brave New World.

UB

Oh, PS, I’m experiencing a certain amount of secret schadenfreude at learning that the first cases of coronavirus in Britain are up in the Leave-voting northeast, knowing this is a virus which, early research shows, specializes in killing off mainly 60-year-old smokers, mostly men, in heavily polluted industrial areas; elderly people with chronic respiratory conditions, diabetes and hypertension… people waving little plastic Union flags and taking back our country while simultaneously destabilizing the Union and handing us over to Wall Street.

The first instance of a Divinely targeted demographic, possibly?

I know, it’s a bit graceless of me. But not all of them will die from it.

 

An ill-wind

China: Photos of deserted streets in the Chinese capital, Beijing, prompt me to remark, a) it looks rather agreeable now you can actually see it, and b) it’s probably healthier there, with no traffic on the usually jammed and honking highways, than in most cities around the world that are still open for business.

There will undoubtedly be many fewer deaths from some of the worst smog on the planet to compensate for the one coronavirus patient who has died in the capital thus far.

Given the size and virulence of the H1N1 ‘flu pandemic in the USA, and who knows how many American travellers are exporting that elsewhere, maybe Beijing could retaliate by closing its own airspace to US airlines?

Folks crouching in their little flats amid deserted streets with empty supermarket shelves and no work can be happy, I suppose, that the Lunar New Year holiday has been extended again by official decree, to 13 February. At this rate, it may never end.

Hong Kong: Photos of locals flocking in their hundreds to buy face masks to try to ward off other people’s coughs and sneezes surely advert to the beneficial advantages of ordering over the internet from the comparative safety of home. Epidemiologists are sanguine about the benefits of masks in any case, as they tend not to be all that effective.

I’m still feeling slightly guilty for having taken the immediate precaution the week before last, as soon as the story broke, of buying a face mask, prominently labeled Made in China. The Chinese government has issued a desperate appeal for more masks, as they’re being taken up at a rate greater than their own factories can produce. £100, maybe, anyone?

Australia, we read, has abandoned plans to charge its citizens returning from Hubei province AU$1,000 for the privilege of being held in quarantine for two weeks on barren Christmas Island, 1,600 miles off the coast – a destination formerly reserved for the discouragement of Asian refugees. I imagine the government in Canberra is so popular now, it feels it can make this magnanimous gesture.

USA: has just reported its eighth case of coronavirus. This compares with 30 cases of Campylobacter jejuni, a multi-drug-resistant bacterium transmitted to humans by pet-store-bought puppies. (Centers for Disease Control statistics)

Update: 01 Feb. am, 11,900 cases; 259 dead.

Update update: 02 Feb.,14,380 cases; 304 dead (including the first outside China, in the Philippines). (1:47 = still a little over 2%)

Update updated: 03 Feb.,17,205 cases; 361 dead. (1:47 = still only a little over 2%)

Updated update updated: 04 Feb., cases 20,638, deaths 426, including only the second outside mainland China – a 39-year-old man in Hong Kong with a pre-existing heart condition. The ratio is 1:48, a slight improvement in the survival rate. There are 151 reported cases in the world this morning outside of Hubei province, although most are still in Chinese-speaking areas. (WHO)

 

The madness of King Donald

“Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs on a great game, and a fantastic comeback, under immense pressure. You represented the Great State of Kansas and, in fact, the entire USA, so very well. Our Country is PROUD OF YOU!” Trump tweeted, in the wake of the Superbowl football final.

Only one problem, the Chiefs are based in Kansas City, Missouri, not in the Great State of Kansas.

It’s a mistake we can all make.

Having spent weeks attacking the Democrats’ lead on impeachment, Congressman Adam Schiff, who mocked him during an early closed-door hearing when he mildly took off the President by improvizing a bit of dialog during questioning, as a liar, because he had never spoken those words, Trump aired an interview at the start of the Superbowl with his pal, Hannity, of Fox News, in which he kept riffing on the idea, false as it happens, that Democrat rival, Mike Bloomberg, was so short (at 5’8″), he had ordered a special box to stand on at rallies.

Trump has frequently mocked critics and opponents, as well as members of his own staff, for being shorter than himself. One thing is certain: the former Mayor of New York, business media magnate Bloomberg is a damned sight richer.

Except that Trump imagines, just as he did with his own charity Foundation and his Inaugural fund, that the US Treasury is his own personal bank account. After presiding over the Superbowl game he threw a private party for donors and friends to celebrate whatever. The bill, including his travel and security, came to $3.4 million. All at the expense of the US taxpayer. (TYT Farron Cousins)

 

Merci Jew coup

“(Rick) Wiles claimed that a ‘Jewish cabal’ plotted Trump’s impeachment. ‘That’s the way Jews work,’ Wiles said. ‘They are deceivers. They plot. They lie. They do whatever they have to do to accomplish their political agenda. This ‘Impeach Trump’ movement is a Jew coup, and the American people better wake up to it really fast.'”

Wiles also claimed that ‘when Jews take over a country, they kill millions of Christians.’ (BuzzFlash)

Let’s hope he’s one of the first, then.

Mr Wiles’ website, TruNews has been given formal White House press accreditation. Meanwhile, far away at Number 10 Downing Street, attempts by Dominic Cummings’ thuggish SPADs to expel certain journalists on their secret blacklist from a press briefing backfired when the rest, led by the BBC’s chief political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, walked out.

What a shame American journalists have become such a bunch of parasitic, moneygrubbing, gutless wonders and floppy, impotent jellyfish, waving their crappy, meaningless Pulitzers that you get now for knowing how to spell ‘whatever’.

They could have stopped the Trump train in its tracks three years ago, perhaps a little later when CNN’s Jim Acosta got thrown out for asking questions. Now they’re happy to accept there are no more White House press briefings under Comms chief, Stephanie Gruesome and must put up with ‘gaggles’ for invited members only, being arrogantly drowned out by Trump’s permanently clattering helicopter on the lawn – the one that doesn’t fly in the rain – as the demented criminal mob boss spews incoherent lies and venom at them, and they lick it all up gratefully, like dog vomit.

Welcome to your fascist state, America.

 

GW: Atishoo, atishoo, we all fall down

Australia: a bushfire in the outskirts of the capital, Canberra, started when an army helicopter switched on its landing lights to see in the smoke from other fires, “had grown to more than 35,000 hectares on 1 Feb. Residents in some areas were warned that it was ‘too late to leave’ and they should try to seek shelter. 6 more fires in nearby parts of New South Wales were burning out of control, officials said.” (from BBC Weather) Hot, dry conditions are expected to persist into next week.

!’ve just learned a new word, after all this time! “Cinereous” means ash-gray. I guess it’d be useful in Australia.

New Zealand: nearly 400 tourists are safe but stranded after the Cleddau river near Milford Sound burst its banks owing to heavy rain upstream and a tidal surge down. Roads in the area are likely to remain closed for some time because of flood damage and landslips triggered by the rain. A state of emergency has been declared in Southland, after OVER 1 METER of rain fell on part of the county in 60 hours. (Floodlist)

Indonesia: “heavy rain in West Java from 25 January caused banks along the Cipicung river to collapse.” 3 people were killed working on repairing the embankment when part of the hillside above them fell away due to the heavy rain. 2 survived and were taken to hospital. There’s been flooding in other parts of Java and heavy rain is expected to continue for at least another week. (Floodlist)

Tanzania: “at least 13 people have died in flooding in Lindi region, that first began in late January. 5 people are missing, 1,746 houses have been completely destroyed; over 15,000 have been displaced. (Floodlist) Authorities have warned of a waterborne disease outbreak. In Rwanda, “heavy rainfall has caused severe material damage and loss of life. Stormy weather from 2 to 3 Feb. brought lightning strikes and heavy rain which triggered flooding and landslides in the capital, Kigali, along with other parts of the country. At least 13 people have died, 2 injured and 15 houses destroyed.”

South Africa: Heavy rain during a storm on 02 Feb. caused severe flash flooding in Alice Town, Eastern Cape. Homes were damaged and traffic brought to a standstill as flood waters over 1 meter deep swamped the town. (Floodlist)

Colombia: “around 130 families were evacuated from their homes when flooding struck Santander province in the early hours of 28 Jan., cars piled up along streets covered in mud and flood debris. Around 100 vehicles were damaged in the flooding, along with at least 30 houses. Heavy rain in the region also triggered flooding and landslides in surrounding forest areas.” (from Floodlist)

USA: just days after an intense North Pacific cyclone brought a powerful winter storm to Alaska, there’s already another one beginning a rapid cyclogenesis just south of Kamchatka peninsula. Central pressure has dropped 39 mb in 24 hours! The extra-tropical cyclone is now gradually moving north-northeast towards the Aleutian islands and the Bering Sea. A violent windstorm is expected over the isles until late Monday. (from Severe-weather.eu)

An astonishing temperature drop is expected over the Midwest in the next 48 hours, from the low 80sF, 30C – to the mid-20s F, minus 5C by Wednesday.

Canada: Widespread flooding, power outages and bridge washouts have shut down large portions of British Columbia, leaving tens of thousands of Canadians calling for help and hundreds of visitors at Sasquatch Mountain Ski Resort trapped after ‘immense’ flooding blocked the only road off the mountain. Rescuers have been demanding $150 a ride to helicopter people out. Heavy rain on top of melting snowpack is to blame. (Accuweather)

Europe: Turin and Cuneo in NW Italy reached almost +27 °C at the weekend – 80.6F, the hottest winter temperature ever recorded in Piedmont. Southern Switzerland stopped at +24 °C while Valencia in Spain reported +28.4 °C,  *exceptional* for this period. Another cold spell is on the way. (Severe-weather.eu) Yet another huge cyclone is deepening in the North Atlantic and is bringing hurricane-like conditions to southern Greenland. By the weekend, I count on the BBC weekly long-range weather map, there will be six deep low-pressure systems forming over the entire North Atlantic region and up into the high Arctic.

Pakistan: a story we missed, around 62 people were killed in a series of avalanches that buried whole villages in the Neelum valley, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir along the mountainous border with Afghanistan, mid-January. Exceptionally heavy snowstorms – said to have been the worst in a century – were to blame, and delayed rescuers.

Tunnel approaching….

USA: As the world panics over the relatively mild-seeming “deadly” coronavirus that’s almost entirely confined to one Chinese province and city, and Washington bans travellers from China, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta estimates that so far this season there’s been a second wave leading to at least 19 MILLION Type A, H1N1 ‘flu cases in the USA., 180,000 hospitalizations and 10 thousand related deaths, including many children. (Do you think I can get a fucking ‘flu jab? “Come back in September when the ‘flu season starts.” Oh, really?)

H1N1 is the same type that killed up to 80 million people in the 1918 global pandemic.

Update: As of 30 January, the CDCs are no longer reporting on the home-grown avian ‘flu epidemic among current outbreaks of infectious diseases. Information is restricted to specific searches within the body of their report and being evaluated as ‘normal’ for the time of year, and non-severe. How significant this is I’m not entirely sure.

Hospital admissions of patients in the USA over the age of 10 having self-harmed while harboring suicidal thoughts increased by 25 per cent in 2017/18. (CDC)

Iceland: authorities are keeping a close watch on Mt Thorbjorn, where 4-5 inches of ground uplift accompanied by a swarm of +- M3 earthquakes has been observed, consistent with magma movement. A delightful phrase unique possibly to volcanic Iceland, officials have declared a “state of uncertainty”. One that would certainly apply in Iowa today (4 Feb.)

Update: 02 Feb., uplift is continuing and earthquakes intensifying, with magnitudes over M4 occurring. Volcanologists expect an eruption but not a big one. GW comments, off the top of her head: “Most predicted eruptions don’t happen. Most actual eruptions occur unexpectedly.”

Russia: Siberian Times reports on a major rescue operation to pluck 600 ice fishermen from melting icefloes off Sakhalin island. The men had ignored warnings that the ice was thinning and breaking up as temperatures rose to barely freezing point.

Space: Astronaut “Anne McClain, a lieutenant-colonel in the U.S. Army, is facing allegations that she accessed her estranged wife’s bank account during her 203-day mission aboard the ISS earlier this year. If found guilty, McClain would be the first person ever sentenced to a crime committed from space.” (AOL)

That’s a very good point. In whose legal jurisdiction is the International Space Station?