The Pumpkin – Issue 33: Guns – the tired old debate cranks up again… ‘A 64-year-old retired accountant’… Is he a terrorist?… ‘Let them eat towels’…. Granny W. : Your windswept old gal in a bus shelter

Now that’s all blown over I’m asking Greg Norman to build Puerto Rico the bigliest new beautiful golf course! (Photo montage: waragainstallpuertoricans.com)

 

“It scarcely helps that the President himself utters bloodcurdling threats of mass violence…”

Guns – the tired old debate cranks up again

As the President who mysteriously switched in a heartbeat last year from being pro-gun control to being pro-gun, and was then elected to office, mouthed the stiff platitudes copywritten for him by an aide, offering ‘warm condolences’ to the families of the victims as if their elderly Labradors had passed away in their sleep, and promised by omission to do absolutely nothing to upset the gun lobby, a performance repeated on a semi-monthly basis, the tired old debate about guns and Americans was cranking up yet again.

There have been only two days in the last twelve months when there has not been a ‘mass shooting’ incident (defined as four-plus dead) in the USA, yet the rustic dumbfucks and Republican shills for the arms industry go on defending their ‘right’ to buy and bear arms, and to blow people away if need be, defending themselves against other idiots with guns; while the urban liberals and Democrats go on pleading for ‘something’ to be done, even though they know it’s hopeless and that nothing now will make a difference, short of wholesale disarmament.

The face of America today: mild-mannered accountants on vacation.

It scarcely helps that the President himself utters bloodcurdling threats of mass violence against individuals and indeed, whole civilian populations; encourages his supporters in violent acts, refuses to condemn white nationalist outrages and refers to his vast military arsenal as ‘great big, beautiful weapons’. The man is obviously unhinged, we have all known it for many months, many alarmed psychiatrists agree, but there he still squats, like a smug orange toad on your democracy.

With 300 million guns in the hands of 150 million American owners, the horse has already bolted and no amount of heaving at the stable door is going to prevent the next act of self-declamatory public mass-murder, in a country where over 30 thousand people are killed each year, and God knows how many tens of thousands wounded, in shooting incidents; and where so many well-armed people feel unnoticed, disenfranchised and unrewarded by life in that competitive, acquisitive, dog-eat-dog society, where a gun feels and smells like power.

The Second Amendment does not in fact guarantee the absolute right of every American to buy, own and carry down the street, to school or a movie, a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle capable of mildly illegal modification with a mail-order device costing $99 to fire repeated rounds automatically, let alone a .32 calibre Saturday-night Special, an Abrams tank or a rocket grenade-launcher.

While the right to own a firearm at all was not in contest, in 2008 the District of Columbia lost its argument in the Supreme Court that it might in general prevent a certain Mr Heller owning a gun regardless of whether or not he belonged to a militia, which was ruled not to be an actual condition despite the clear wording of the Amendment. Nevertheless, special laws restricting gun ownership were held to be permissible, in the famous 5-4 majority ruling by Judge Anthony Scalia:

“The Court stated that the right to keep and bear arms is subject to regulation, such as concealed weapons prohibitions, limits on the rights of felons and the mentally ill, laws forbidding the carrying of weapons in certain locations, laws imposing conditions on commercial sales, and prohibitions on the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. It stated that this was not an exhaustive list of the regulatory measures that would be presumptively permissible under the Second Amendment.” (Library of Congress)

The apologists for and defendants of the National Rifle Association, which stubbornly represents the hugely profitable interests of the arms manufacturers and dealers and stuffs the mouths of corrupt politicians with blood-money, have never seemingly accepted that, unlike, for instance, owning a swimming-pool, gun ownership should be subject to any form of control; and unfortunately, the Scalia ruling was amended by a minority judgement to allow individual States to go on making their own rules, so that in some recent perverse court judgements neither the mentally ill, nor previously convicted criminals, can be deprived of the right to carry a gun openly in the street.

The laws in Nevada are notoriously lax, although in this case the man purchasing the guns was, says the dealer, subject to standard FBI checks. Thus, ’64-year-old retired accountant’ Stephen Paddock, a man with no prior convictions, who owned two private aeroplanes and a large collection of weapons no-one close to him seems to have known he even had, was able perfectly legally to carry ten suitcases full of rifles and ammunition to the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel, from where after a week in residence (it’s usually a week) he poured down fire indiscriminately onto a crowd of concertgoers, killing (thus far) 59 and wounding 530 others, before taking his own strangely quiet life.

Police are, say the media, at a loss to understand why he did it. There was absolutely no indication: no note, nothing on social media where he seems to have had no presence, no ‘manifesto’, no neighbourly or family suspicions.

He was white, middle-aged, a non-Muslim. He had plenty of money, a girlfriend, a home. He was a major shareholder in a Dallas condominium, from which he derived rental income. He gambled regularly for high stakes; it does appear that prior to his breakdown he had been gambling up to 20 thousand dollars a day, but was not especially known to have big losses. Was that recklessness with his money a sign of impending chaos, an empty gesture, a deliberate throwing away of everything he had gained, but not his self-regard?

Madness in his eyes: Alex Jones of InfoWars. (photo: Arstechnica.com)

Nor was he known to have particularly strong views on politics, race or religion (ISIS has of course claimed ownership of the incident, but no-one is believing them.) Nor was he suspected of any mental illness, although the alt-right agitprop websites and 4chan trolls are trying to claim without a shred of evidence that he was a fanatical liberal lefty anti-Trump protester and a member of Antifa, the anti-fascist pressure group. Alex Jones, a man with such madness burning in his eyes you instinctively want to sedate him, is using his InfoWars site (as approved by President Trump) to blame the Washington Deep State and their Islamic allies; while The Deplorables Army, a Trump dumbfucks’ website, has already established beyond doubt that Hillary Clinton was behind it.

The Pumpkin has no problem in believing, for want of any other explanation, that Stephen Paddock was, if you like, the ultimate expression of the American way of life: a moderately successful but perhaps secretly disappointed man who had reached retirement age and saw ahead only a future of Bingo games and bridge rubbers with elderly divorcees at his dreary suburban retirement park. A private and introverted individual, by all accounts, who perhaps saw in the secret stashing-away of an arsenal of lethal weapons, the power and control he lacked over the enviable or detestable lives of others. The degree of detailed control over his lethal operations, including the placing of webcams in the hotel to check on the arrival of the police, is especially chilling.

Had he possibly had a fatal diagnosis, of Alzheimer’s or cancer, perhaps? And decided in his introverted fashion, Pharaoh-like, to take as many others with him as he could – especially young people, whose unfinished lives he must have resented? Was there possibly some mental defect buried in the family history? The Paddocks’ father had at one time robbed banks and was hunted down (briefly as an escaped fugitive from gaol, America’s Most Wanted) and arrested by the FBI, and diagnosed as a ‘psychopath’ with ‘suicidal tendencies’ – so why wouldn’t one of his three sons have inherited the same condition?

Or maybe he just didn’t like country music, who knows. Perhaps we shall never know.

The words ‘a 64-year-old retired accountant’ probably say it all.

 

Postscriptum: A US report says the average charge to the victim for being admitted by ambulance to a hospital emergency care ward with a gunshot wound is $96 thousand, not including the longterm rehabilitation and therapy that most gunshot victims need.

It is, in short, probably better if you live in America that you should be killed outright than spend your life in pain and debt over something that wasn’t your fault. (And let’s not forget the insane attempts by Trump to take away health insurance cover from 32 million Americans, just because it’s being administered under an Obama program.)

 

Is he a terrorist?

The Guardian reports that the FBI defines terrorism thus:

 “…an intent to “intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”.

So, is Donald John Trump a terrorist?

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Mr. Trump told reporters in remarks aired on television and broadcast around the globe. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” – The Telegraph

“When a reporter asked the president about his threatening “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said “maybe it wasn’t tough enough.” Followed by “maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough” and “if anything, that statement may not be tough enough.”- New York Times

“The US has great strength and patience,” Trump said. But he added: “If it is forced to defend ourselves or our allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. … Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” – The Guardian

“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” – @realdonaldtrump tweet, 

Well, so’s the other guy:

“In an unprecedented statement on Friday, Mr Kim described Mr Trump as a ‘mentally deranged dotard’ whom he would tame with fire.

He said North Korea would consider the ‘highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history’ against the United States and that Mr Trump’s comments had confirmed his nuclear programme was ‘the correct path'”. – The Telegraph

If you or I did this stuff, we’d be pulled in for questioning. Who put these two self-obsessed, power-drunk playground bullies, with their tiny genitals and abusive fathers, in charge of the store?

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“Now we just shrug and ask, what do we expect?”

Let them eat towels

Trump reminds me of the famous stunt rider, Evel Knievel. He’s constantly trying to raise the bar on his own stupidity, steadily increasing the number of buses he needs to jump his motorcycle over before he breaks his fat orange neck in the full glare of publicity.

The Commander-in-Chief mops up the mess in Puerto Rico (Businessinsider.com)

Two weeks after the event, here was Trump finally making landfall in remote Puerto Rico on a carefully managed four-hour mercy tour of selected safe parts of the island in which he saw almost none of the devastation and met none of the hardest-hit victims in the hinterland, to explain why they still have no water or electricity, functioning transportation, roads, food and medical care, or even a roof over their heads, as the known number of dead climbs from 16 to 34.

The images of Trump, a big man, towering over a hangar-full of simpering media folk and handpicked, scrubbed-up local Republicans, chucking packs of paper towels at them as if they were monkeys in a zoo, grinning and constantly praising himself for his ‘A-plus’ efforts at spending Federal funds on what even his leading Army general on the ground is complaining is the utterly inadequate response to the double-hurricane disaster, comparing it airily with Hurricane Katrina, which was handled far worse and caused lots more brown people to die, were just repellent.

And at the press conference he continued to blame the lazy victims for not doing enough to help themselves, and to whine about the criticism of his administration, and the cost of the clear-up, and the unfairness of blaming him, and how great everyone said he was doing. Where were the local truck drivers? He demanded to know, why weren’t they distributing the masses of aid piling up on the dockside? Meanwhile, the Mayor of San Juan, who had been wading around in waist-high water for days overseeing rescue and recovery, was muzzled and sidelined and abused as a ‘poor leader’ for daring to criticize a man – a moronic sack of shit, depending on your viewpoint –  who has clearly confused himself with the United States of America – a rapidly disintegrating empire on the far edge of nowhere.

Six months ago it would have been shocking to see the President of the United States behaving like that. Now we just shrug and ask, what do we expect? The coverage prompted at least one contributor on MSNBC to voice what we’re all feeling: we’re sick and tired of hearing and watching this horror show, this malevolent oaf doing mindless, clumsy, brutally incompetent stuff like this every damn day.

Coming on top of his insincere speechwritten response to the Las Vegas massacre, the nauseating religiosity, the ‘warm condolences’, the brushing aside of concerns over the lack of legal gun controls that might have mitigated the horror of Paddock’s elaborately staged suicide, how can there any longer be any rational argument for Republicans allowing him to remain in office a minute longer?

Or is it just that he makes them look good?

“…the majority of people in Puerto Rico remain without clean water, the electricity grid is inoperable, cell towers are down, roads are impassable, food is rotting, and many of the elderly and the sick have been left without care. All of this is happening in America, rather than some place distant from this country. But instead of emphasizing that closeness, or a sense of mutual obligation, Trump has, so far, focussed on how different Puerto Rico is, and what its people owe him, which is, above all, their gratitude.” – Amy Davidson Sorkin, the New Yorker 27 September

This bizarre, solipsistic figure, for whom the only external reality is Donald J Trump, actually tweeted when he thought about it three days after the event, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which hit the island as a Category 4 superstorm and killed actual people, that Puerto Rico owes a lot of money and they should pay back Wall Street for keeping them going.

Like he should pay back all the foreign banks he has stiffed for $billions in his rotten career, maybe?

Ah said oops upside yo head…

This Coke-and junkfood-bloated non-dirigible, whose hapless advisers plead they cannot advise him because he simply does not listen, and becomes angry whenever he thinks anyone is telling him how to do the job, so they just hover in the background and try to keep him on an even keel and hope he doesn’t call for the nuclear football when no-one is around to put a bullet in his head, is not merely mishandling the crisis on Puerto Rico. Oh, no.

He’s not just being a bit slow and incompetent, or like W Bush, a bit thoughtless and useless. No.

Look, you saw how quickly he reacted, how positive he was when it was Houston on the receiving end of climate change, and Port Arthur – the hub of the US-owned global energy bidness. Hell no.

With Puerto Rico, an island populated by spics, probably rapists, and losers, Trump is actively trying to prevent three and a half million desperate American citizens from getting the additional help they need, instead bloviating pompously at the visiting Spanish Prime Minister, Mr Rajoy, about how the governor of Puerto Rico praised him for the great, wonderful efforts he has made on their behalf; how grateful the Puerto Rican people are to him, while the governor is in fact on his knees begging for more help as FEMA and the National Guard struggle on, strapped for resources and without a plan, to try to deliver food and water to the remotest parts of the stricken island.

It cannot have escaped his notice that Mr Rajoy shares a cultural heritage with the majority of Hispanic Americans on the devastated island, which he referred to as being ‘in the middle of a big, a very big ocean’, like Neville Chamberlain refusing to go to the aid of Czechoslovakia when the Nazis annexed the Sudetenland: ‘It is a far-off country, of which we know little’.

The American people are, we know, outstandingly insular: a recent poll showed that about half do not know that Puerto Rico is US territory and the people who live there hold American citizenship.

Mr Trump indeed knows little. In fact he knows fuck-all, and cares even less. A moral imbecile, he is not fit to be a toilet attendant, let alone president of anywhere real.

But until he gets his bestial tax reforms through, giving $5 trillions away to his wealthy pals and their corporations, beggaring the rest; and until he can destroy Obamacare, the only lifeline offered to millions trapped in a rapacious business culture of privatized medicine, and replace it with something much, much cheaper so he can pay for the tax ‘reforms’ and the obscene, pointless, bloated military budget, he is going to behave meanly, moodily and miserably, holding three and a half million Puerto Rican lives against the recalcitrance of a tiny handful of Republican senators who, successfully completing the Captcha test to prove they are actual humans, refuse to go along with the utter shit that drivels from his twisted, angry little mole-rat mouth.

And meanwhile, he diverts attention from these gangsterish behaviors by mounting an all-out assault, uttering insults and threats against a football player who refuses to stand for the national anthem until someone in authority stops America’s out-of-control, racist police from shooting unarmed black people for no good reason. That won’t be Trump, for whom police brutality is a given. And is trying to bully the poor millionaires who own the NFL clubs into sacking any player, any ‘sonofabitch’ who doesn’t ‘respect the anthem, respect America’ – by which of course he means, respect the 45th President Donald J Trump, a grotesque liar and moron wrapped in a flag.

Postscriptum:

And this morning, we hear of the welcome ‘resignation’ of the totally unqualified Health Secretary, Tom Price. Mr Price has attracted widespread criticism for spending half a million dollars chartering private planes to get himself and his wife about on holidays and shopping trips, and charging them to the taxpayer. It has been mooted that Orange Satan was not unhappy to see him go as he is so closely linked with the repeated failure of Trump’s frenzied attempts to kill off Obamacare and replace it with lots of dead poor people.

It’s rumored that a number of other White House appointments are in the doghouse over similar profiteering while in office. They include spokesmouth Skellytanne Conway and the profoundly corrupt Environment director, Scott Pruitt.

We can therefore look forward to the immediate resignation of President Trump, who since taking office in January has blown well north of a billion dollars of other people’s money on private golfing holidays and extra security for his family and buildings while on holiday, and on hiring squadrons of expensive but curiously inept private lawyers to defend himself against anticipated charges any day now (ha!) of racketeering, money-laundering, tax-dodging, sanctions-busting, breaches of the Foreign Emoluments clause, the Logan Acts; treason and obstruction of justice. Unfortunately there’s no law against being merely one of the most unpleasant people ever to occupy the White House, if not the planet.

Can’t we?

https://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson-sorkin/the-distance-between-donald-trump-and-puerto-rico?mbid=nl_Daily092717&CNDID=49581041&spMailingID=12020149&spUserID=MTkwODY5NzgyMTM0S0&spJobID=1242357721&spReportId=MTI0MjM1NzcyMQS2

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Granny W. : Your windswept old gal in a bus shelter

Atlantic: going back to 1851, says Weather Underground, September set a record for the most amount of accumulated cyclone energy in any month—175 (175 what? Ed.), beating out 155 from September 1926—according to Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University.

  • Number of named-storm days:  53.25 (old record 52.25, Sept. 2004)
  • Number of hurricane days:  40.25 (old record 34.50, Sept. 2006)
  • Number of major hurricane days:  18 (old record 17.25, Sept. 1961) (Wunderground, 04 October)

USA: Weather Underground today further carries research showing 41 out of 60 US cities have experienced their warmest years and many their hottest days on record during the past six years, with an average annual increase since 1985 of 1.2 deg. C. The average between 1895 and 1985 increased by just 0.9 deg. C. indicating rapid acceleration of warming. No US city has recorded its coldest-ever year during the past six years. San Francisco this year set a new record on 1 September of 41 deg. C. (106 deg. F.). The average temperature in Houston is 5 deg. C. warmer than in 1895.

“…we have 41 out of all 60 cities with a 6-year average that is at least 1°F above the prior 30-year average. Likewise, it would be expected for a few cities to have their warmest or coldest year in a six-year period—but it is startling to see 41 of 60 cities having their warmest year, and none of the 60 cities having their coldest year, from 2011 to 2016. Given the very warm year now under way, there appears to be no end in sight to the U.S. heat of the 2010s.” – Christopher C Burt, Climate Historian

Wildfires: The US Interagency Fire Center reports that 2017 to date isn’t the worst year on record, with just over 50 thousand fires reported as against 71 thousand in 2009; and 8.4 million acres burned as against 9 million in 2015. In California, almost 3 thousand acres of the Sequoia National Forest is burning with so-far zero containment. In Oregon, 191 thousand acres of the Siskiyou National Forest has been burned but is 98% contained.

Global warming: Warming soils are releasing more carbon into the atmosphere through more intense bacterial breeding cycles than previously thought, suggesting a potentially disastrous feedback mechanism. “Each year, mostly from fossil fuel burning, we are releasing about 10bn metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere. The world’s soils contain about 3,500bn tons of carbon. … Once this self-reinforcing feedback begins, there is no easy way to turn it off. There is no switch to flip.” – Report of long-term experimental study published this week in Science magazine by the US Marine Biological Laboratory and others.

And on it goes…

USA: Tropical Storm Nate currently organizing itself in the Gulf after causing 22 deaths in Central America. Forecast track could take it due north strengthening Cat 1 to Louisiana around New Orleans after picking up more energy and water over the 29 deg. C. Gulf.

“…heavy rains, landslides and floods blocking roads, destroying bridges and damaging houses. In Costa Rica, nearly 400,000 people are without running water and thousands are sleeping in shelters. At least eight people have died in the storm there, while another 11 were killed when it moved north and reached Nicaragua, where as much as 15ins (38cm) of rain had been predicted to fall by the US’s National Hurricane Center. Three people have been killed in Honduras, including two youths who drowned in a river, and several are reported missing.”

Mexico: “Flooding has affected 18,000 people in the state of Tamaulipas. Local media report that at least 2 people have died. Areas of the state recorded heavy rainfall between 26 and 29 September. The Corona river overflowed. Further intense rainfall was recorded in the state on 01 October, with 245 mm of rain falling in Altamira. Further warnings for severe storms.”

Australia: “Torrential rain and strong winds in the city of Bundaberg in Queensland have caused flash flooding and left over 4,000 homes without power. Bundaberg recorded 319mm of rain in 24 hours between 02 and 03 October, according to Bureau of Meteorology figures. Over 100mm of the rain fell in 2 hours between 13:00 and 15:00 on 02 October.”

A current record early Spring heatwave affecting New South Wales reveals numerous precedents in the past six years, with records continually tumbling. This winter saw the highest average daytime temperatures on record. It was also the driest in 15 years:

“Even if the Paris agreement to limit the global temperature rise to below 2°C is met, summer heatwaves in major Australian cities are likely to reach highs of 50°C by 2040, a study published on Wednesday warns.”

Canada: “With more than 100 wildfires still burning, 2017 is officially the worst fire season on record. Nearly 12,000 km2 of land burned this year, 3,000 km2 more than in 1958, the previous record holder. Approximately 65,000 people were evacuated from their homes, and firefighting efforts have cost the province $510 million.” (British Columbia)

Scotland: 70 mph winds caused problems for commuters and truckers on Monday in the first of the year’s Atlantic lows, snapping-off the flagpole of Edinburgh’s castle.

Wunderground/ Floodlist/ Blogsafe.com/ GoGreen.com/ BBC/ 13News Now

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Bound straight for Hell

If any further evidence is needed of the insanity of the drooling amoebas who buy guns in the USA for no purpose other than to imagine they actually have functioning penises, comes news that the $99 modifying device called a ‘bump stock’ designed to turn a legal semi-automatic weapon into an illegal one that can empty a magazine with a single pull of the trigger has sold out in the wake of the slaughter in Las Vegas.

Even the despicable NRA has called for a ban, but used ones are selling at twice the catalog price, never mind that the thing renders the gun practically useless if you want to hit anything smaller than the White House and it’s far more likely to jam because the gun wasn’t designed for rapid-fire. But hey, it worked good on them country fans.

I shall be writing to Mr Kim Jong-un to ask him please to obliterate the American midwest, where most of these molluscs lurk, now, by the simple expedient of nuking Yellowstone.

By Christ, you’re hard to love.

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The BogPo asks: How doomed exactly are we? Grind them into dust! Law and Disorder. Granny Weatherwax: Bi-polar Disorder. Important message to the BBC Board.

“Someone needs to tell Trump to ‘calm down, dear’ – but I suspect he probably knows that.”

How doomed exactly are we?

Trump has only one ideological position, which is: the Don + money + unconditional regard = good. Everything else = sad. Fake nooze.

‘Their knees are probably shot…’ Kim’s toy army on parade. (The Telegraph)

It’s no use appealing to the view that Trump has any political position other than clinging on to a job he must realize he is not physically or mentally fit to do (he has never had a job before, in the sense that the only employer he has known is Donald J Trump). He used to be a socially liberal Democrat, his rightwing posturing is purely expedient.

He has had to resort to consorting with some very dubious people and adopting some very crude methods to battle his way past his own severe limitations and gross appetites, yet at 71 he remains deeply in debt and under several potentially criminal investigations from which only his position and ability to divert party funds to pay a legal team are protecting him, to an extent he perhaps has not realized is quite limited.

The people around him are the danger, half of them are corrupt, cynical and/or merely incompetent and the other half are well-funded white supremacist Christian ideologues looking forward to the End Times. Bizarrely they’re being kept in check by a triad of military ‘hawks’ who nevertheless appear to be the only rational people in the building.

He also appears from his random actions, incoherent utterances (when off-script) and apparently self-delusory beliefs to be suffering in the early stages of dementia and really needs help.

Constant hammering by his critics may be making his behavior more, not less extreme: his latter protestations of huge success in office and great popular approval fly in the face of the facts and are indicative of a profound and growing insecurity against which he may react by doing something really stupid. That, or he has a ghostly sense of humor.

Observe his self-protecting body language as he spoke of ‘fire and fury’, arms tightly folded, shoulders hunched, eye movements indicative of growing desperation, seeking out an autocue device with some Bannonite text that wasn’t there to help bim.

That said, North Korea does not possess an invasion fleet, only a toy army that looks impressively drilled on the parade ground but appears to be equipped with old Russian technology and AK-47 rifles; that exaggerated marching style means their knees are probably shot; nor enough nuclear capacity to sustain a war beyond one brief and probably ineffectual exchange.

There have been intel reports before that they’ve succeeded in weaponizing their rockets, which turned out to be fake news.

They are not talking about a strike on Guam, only a display of unarmed synchronized rocketry promising splashdown  ‘near’ Guam. Kim is neither mad nor stupid enough to attack America for real, his bellicosity is mainly for domestic consumption, that has not changed. Someone needs to tell Trump to ‘calm down, dear’ – but I suspect he probably knows that.

We must believe that he is hoping, however riskily, that Kim will recognise the game he is playing, that two predictably ‘unpredictable’ leaders with authoritarian tendencies can play at it, and calm down himself.

Let’s hope, anyway.

Postscriptum

On the subject of Kim’s invincible million-strong army, three years of drought in North Korea have reduced agricultural output and additional sanctions putting blocks on food imports are creating difficult conditions for the country’s food security. What there is is being diverted via corrupt officials. The UN reports many people and the lower ranks of the military are malnourished and may be close to starvation.

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Grind them into dust!

A former aide to Brexit negotiations supremo David Davis has finally cracked and blown the gaff on the whole sorry saga, calling it ‘a catastrophe’ and urging that Boris Johnson and the other plotters should be gaoled for lying to the British people.

Is he looking at charges?

James Chapman went deliciously crazy today, firing off a seemingly endless series of tweets aimed at hapless ministers who have tried to express some collective optimism in the unfolding disaster, demanding to know if, for instance, UK airlines are going to be able to fly next year without a new Open Skies agreement in place – negotiations haven’t yet started – and claiming thousands of Brexit supporters will be badly hit by new customs regulations and port infrastructure that could cost them their homes, and by any delay for cancer patients in negotiating continuing arrangements with Euratom over the importation of radiotherapy isotopes.

According to The Guardian:

“The rush of tweets over the course of many hours infuriated a number of Brexit supporters, including Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, who asked which side Chapman was ‘really working for in the Brexit department’. As the row played out on Twitter, Michael Heaver, a former aide to Farage, said Chapman’s words were ‘lots of tweeting and not much action’ and suggested it was a sign remainers are ‘losing it’.

In response, Chapman replied to Farage and Heaver saying he intended to “grind you and your appalling party into the dust”.

Reports that Chapman plans next to invade the White House have been denied….

Loving it! LOL

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Law and Disorder

“We live in the information age. Anonymity is almost impossible to maintain.”

Probation officers have found a juvenile offender on parole to have been ‘in possession’ of a knife at his home. Although there was ‘no suggestion’ he had used it for any criminal purpose, the ‘disturbed’ 18-year-old is now back in custody, from which he had only recently been released after serving six years of an indefinite youth custody sentence, undergoing reassessment.

He and his older brother were originally convicted in 2010 of kidnapping and torturing two 10-year-olds in a ravine near their estate home in an impoverished former mining village in Yorkshire, where they were in the foster care of an elderly couple who couldn’t cope with them. The details of the abuse were pretty horrific, so the boys, then only 10 and 12, were granted exceptional immunity and given new identities on release, in an echo of the James Bulger murder case in the 1980s.

These orders have a way of rebounding on the courts. The supposedly protected 10- and 11 year-old kidnappers, torturers and killers of two year-old James were eventually outed as Robert Thompson and John Venables, the youngest convicted murderers in modern English history. After serving a fairly long sentence in juvenile custody, Venables – the more biddable of the two – was later returned to prison in 2011 after being found with child pornography on his computer. Both are now out, Thompson for many years, and have again been given new identities.

That sequence of events did not please the tabloid press.

Known universally as ‘Devil Boy’, the younger of the two Yorkshire torturers is now the subject of a barrage of insane outrage online from the usual baying mob whipped up by the tabloid press about the £1/2 million cost and politically correct madness of the judge granting the two children anonymity in the first place, although it is exceptional to identify defendants in juvenile cases.

Their unhappiness with the justice system is to miss the obvious point that if the court allows the younger brother to be named, because he is now an adult and supposedly a reoffender, on however minor a parole violation, the older brother who has a right to anonymity will also be ‘outed’ and both their lives made a permanent hell, because they have THE SAME NAME.

There are those who will argue they deserve it, there always are; although damaged young children from abusive backgrounds of deprivation and poverty, who had already been in trouble with the police, can equally be said to have a diminished sense of responsibility and lack of empathy and deserve the chance of rehabilitation, given the right psychological and social support.

Of course, that’s never good enough for the enthusiastic hangers and floggers who can’t find it in their hearts to pity anyone but themselves, even children.

In some countries, the age of criminal responsibility is as young as 7, in others it may range up to 18 or more. Britain follows most in setting the age at 10, which in the opinion of the BogPo is barbaric enough, given that we used to hang children of that age for stealing more than five shillings.

A website calling itself ‘Bizarrepedia’ however raises a serious point about the granting of anonymity to child convicts on their  eventual release from custody.

We live in the information age. Anonymity is almost impossible to maintain. The rebarbative armchair vigilante brigade that immediately sets out to try to unmask and persecute even supposedly rehabilitated child offenders has more than once identified the wrong target:

“Scott Bradley was regularly verbally abused after a hate mob falsely identified him as Robert Thompson. He took his own life. In his suicide letter, he wrote: ‘They called me all sorts – a paedophile, a follower of young girls, walking around bullying old people. The list is endless’.”

So pernicious is the bloodthirsty British instinct for revenge to be exacted in all cases, that the website goes on to blame Thompson and Venables themselves for ‘killing’ Bradley, by accepting court protection and thus rousing the finest instincts of the existentially disappointed thugs, bullies and prurient, self-righteous authoritarians who make up the hate community. One suspects many of them are probably child abusers themselves.

All editorial caution goes out of the window in these cases. According to The Sun, the boy ‘tricked’ his way out of prison by conning the parole board into imagining that he was on the path of rehabilitation. They know that for a fact, do they? But of course, because he has reoffended, sort of. He owns a knife, that he hasn’t committed a crime with – no smoke without fire, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, eh? I don’t know, these Devil Boys. Gotta keep roasting ’em for all Eternity.

It is still possible to imagine that the young man has not been receiving the full support of the probation service and feels threatened and vulnerable. Possible for those, that is, who have a different sort of imagination not rooted in the fifteenth century, when devils, ghosts, witches and boggarts roamed the land, putting the evil eye on people’s prize marrows, hunted by gangs of credulous village baboons armed with pitchforks and torches, urged on by the Witchfinder General, Mr Murdoch.

Ref: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/sep/03/doncaster-torture-case-brothers

10% – The amount by which the Government has secretly increased the fixed annual payments to private, mostly US companies involved in running Britain’s failing probation service (£277 million) in order to try to get them to fulfil the terms of their contracts. (Story: Private Eye #1450)

 

Granny Weatherwax: Bi-polar Disorder

Ottawa University climatologist, Prof Paul Beckwith reports, satellite images show there’s a wildfire burning in Greenland; it’s raining in both polar regions where it’s only supposed to snow. Arctic temperature anomaly is up to 8C and while the extent is broadly similar to the lowest ever recorded, in 2012, there’s almost no sea ice left anywhere more than 2 metres thick, otherwise it’s mostly thin stuff breaking up and floating away.

The jetstreams he reported for July 20th as having broken in pieces and crossed over the equator into both northern and southern hemispheres for the first time, mixing together. Sections are dragging contra-rotating air masses around, the southern parts have been broadening out in the hemisphere, weakening, and now fill 95% of the southern sky when at this time in winter it ought to be tightly focussed in a narrow high-speed band around the pole.

Unfortunately the video terminated abruptly at that point so I have no idea what it portends. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look good.

Sierra Leone: Hundreds of people are feared dead and others trapped in their homes after a mudslide near the capital, Freetown. A hillside in the Regent area collapsed early on Monday following heavy rains, leaving many houses completely covered in mud. (14 Aug.)

Arctic: Sea ice ‘gone’ by mid-September? “On average, surface temperatures over the Arctic Ocean have been more than 2.5°C (or 4.5°F) warmer than in 1981-2010. The warmer air is now also melting the sea ice from above, as temperatures over the Arctic have risen to well above the freezing point.”

Greenland: ‘unprecedented’ wildfire burning since 31 July, 3000 acres destroyed (no firefighting available). Australian firefighters arriving in Canada to help with 28 new wildfires in British Columbia adding to the 100 already burning – some rain may arrive shortly to help, but not enough.

Russia: powerful storm brings flash flooding to Vladivostock, most easterly city in Europe and home of the Russian Pacific Fleet. Roads and bridges washed away. A 2000 km-long plume of smoke from wildfires over Siberia centred around the city of Krasnoyarsk can be seen from space.

Mexico: city of Campeche, Yucatan hit by Tropical Storm Franklin, with widespread flash flooding. Other parts flooded; Moncova, Cloahuila, Nuevo Leon. Heatwave affecting Hermosillo, NW Mexico, expected to peak at 44C, 111F on Friday.

24 hours in Tulsa. Tornado damage. (D. Mail)

USA: unseasonal ‘freak’ tornado injures 30, damages houses, shops and cars in Tulsa, Oklahoma. City pounded by powerful storm, 130 mph wind, localized flooding. Power out. Weather service taken completely by surprise.

USA: Kansas City: 8 inches of rain overnight brings more flooding to the city. 6in rain falls on Houston, Texas in 6 hours. Dallas, Texas on flood alert. New Orleans floods starting to abate. Tornado in Maryland blows cars away – again no warning.

Italy: Alpine ski resorts melting out under a layer of soot from fires, glaciers vanishing rapidly. Five dead in violent storms following 130F heatwave. More amazing scenes as rivers of ice flow through Cortina’s streets from massive hailstones the size of hens’ eggs. Temperatures locally in south achieve 55C, 131F.

Austria: clearing up after flash floods in the mountains. Flash floods in Switzerland.

Spain: Drought. Towns in Andalucia and rural villages running out of drinking water, reservoirs at historic lows, intermittent mains water interruptions reported. A powerful storm with many lightning strikes floods the town of Denia, on the Costa Blanca. Violent storm over Ibiza brings torrential rain, property damage. New fires are raging through central Portugal.

UK: heavy rain has caused flooding in parts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire as the Met Office warns of further rainfall. A huge bulk grain carrier has departed for Spain with 70,000 tons of barley on board to feed cattle starved of grazing by the drought.

Japan: Typhoon Noru hits mainland, dumps 500mm rain, flooding, ‘tens of thousands’ evacuated. Storm reported to be weakening over land as it approaches Tokyo.

China: As if the earthquake in Sichuan was not enough (death toll 25 and counting, 45 seriously injured, 85,000 evacuated) a flash flood and landslide carries away part of a village in Puge county. 25 people are missing, 71 homes destroyed. Heilongjian province, northeast China, the city of Harbin floods after torrential rain.

S Korea: deaths from heatstroke reported among the elderly. 37C – plus (100F) heatwave continues into fourth week. 2.7 million chickens and other livestock have died due to the extreme conditions. Korean TV reports, annual average temperature has increased 1.8C in the past 100 years, 0.8C in the past 30 years – and accelerating fast. Hospital admissions with heatstroke have doubled in the past five years.

India: new flooding in Assam, 65,000 evacuated.

“Dozens of elephants and rafts have been deployed to rescue nearly 500 people trapped by floods in a popular resort in southern Nepal, officials say. Several hotels in Sauraha, in Chitwan district, have been inundated, trapping the tourists, many of them foreigners. The floods and landslides caused by torrential rains have killed at least 49 people across the country. … Meanwhile, in neighbouring India, 45 people were killed when a massive landslide swept two packed passenger buses off a hillside into a deep gorge.” – BBC News, 13 Aug.

Iraq: building workers given the day off owing to extreme heat.

Commenting to Climate and Extreme Weather News, ‘CA Lund’ makes all the points the BogPo has been trying to make these past few months: it’s real, it’s ongoing and it’s very likely unstoppable.

“All the evidence a rational person needs is right in front of us, and it’s not even that the climate is changing, it’s that the climate has changed. It’s flipping into chaos.”

Thank you, CA. Where are the ‘rational’ people, I wonder?

Climate and Extreme Weather News #52, 53/ BBC Weather/ Arctic News/ Il Globo

  • Yellowstone update: 53 earthquakes up to M2.9  recorded in the bubbly 60 km-wide caldera on Wednesday 9 August. New magma is thought to be flooding the upper chamber.

 

The BogPo writes, on the subject of context:

One of the problems of researching these extreme weather reports is the lack of date information on many websites. We name The Telegraph as one egregious offender. Years-old reports come up on search even when you key-in 2017 and it takes time to verify the dates. But WE DO TRY!

Local media around the world seem reluctant to put off tourists by admitting to extreme weather events on their patch. Weather bureaux seem not to want to acknowledge that there is a wider problem than just forecasting tomorrow’s weather. US TV stations in particular seem taken by surprise that there may have been an extreme weather event locally, when similar outrages are happening everywhere across the USA and the world!

News media almost invariably report stories without reference to any extreme weather that may be going on behind the camera, while news analysis seldom makes mention of extreme weather events as part of the geopolitical strategic context: for instance, the crisis in Korea is playing out against the background of an extreme and tenacious heatwave in the south, while there have been floods in the north. It is hard to see, too, how the weather events we are reporting on weekly are not having an effect on national economies.

You can rely on the BogPo to do it for them.

Grrr.

X

An important message to the BBC Executive Board

Let’s say you have an individual, a tenured professor of cosmology with two PhDs from a venerable Russell Group university, who has spent nine years in fulltime higher education specializing in his field and twenty years doing field research, teaching, reading and publishing peer-reviewed papers, a well-respected knight of the realm and director of a cosmological institute who has worldwide access to research teams and all the latest scientific equipment.

He is invited onto a national flagship morning news programme to give his ‘scientific opinion’ that the moon is a lump of rock whizzing around the earth; a fact that was verified fifty years earlier after some other scientists actually went there to look.

In the interests of fairness, which is mandated in the charter under which you operate as an independent corporation with tax-raising powers, an hour later you introduce an elderly former politician and discredited Chicago school economist, a professional controversialist in the pay of a moon-mining corporation, to give a ‘balancing opinion’ that the moon is in fact made of green cheese. It is hollow, he solemnly assures the audience, and flying saucers live inside it.

He has no knowledge whatsoever of practical cosmology, other than to maintain that the sun revolves around the earth – but that doesn’t matter, because it’s what we observe every day when it comes up over the rim of the flat disc we live on and is obvious, innit?

As the interlocutor, given that your guests refuse to debate one another head to head, you have to present a set of questions to each interviewee as if coming from the opposite camp. That’s what is known as editorial impartiality. You are not supposed to favour either point of view, and must treat both impartially as a matter of conjecture, fit for debate; even though one thesis is patently, utterly absurd and the other is fully and firmly established, although it is true that scientists have not yet physically travelled inside the moon to ascertain who might be living there, and cannot therefore be certain whether the Selenites’ scales are red or green, or whether they might instead be covered with feathers and speak Mayan.

And just as it’s getting interesting, sorry, okay, that’s enough, we need to go to the weather… Your audience is left in a state of mental paralysis. The two opposing points of view cannot both be true, yet the hallowed broadcaster, famed for its impartiality, has given precisely calibrated equal weight to both as if they are true. Job done.

Only it’s not. Former Director-Geeral, John Birt and journalist Peter Jay spoke of the ‘bias against understanding’, that results from the pursuit such arbitrary fairy-stories as ‘balance’. In this case, two-plus-two equals zero.

Judging by President Trump’s polling figures, it seems to be a general principle that 66% – two-thirds of the people – will always be inclined to accept that there is at least a 51% probability that the experts might be right; and one-third, 34%, who distrust experts. profoundly.

Experts who talk down to us ordinary people, who’ve been deprived by economic disadvantage of the opportunity to learn even to spell our own names, who have never read an actual book; so that we CHOOSE to believe any old bollocks that makes us feel better, as we cheerfully slice the tops off our boiled eggs poisoned with pesticide, knowing more about real life than some posh elite (ignoring that the proponent of the hollow moon theory is even more of a posh git from the Establishment than the professor, who hails from a modest lower-middle-class estate in Dundee).

What we think is more important than what you know.

That, unfortunately, is the situation we have with ‘climate change’ – an over-polite phrase meaning all-hell is being let loose over much of the planet even as you read this, thanks in large measure to our childlike habit of expecting lights to come on at our bidding.

So here’s a message for the politicians and industrialists who like to scream blue murder whenever the BBC shows the slightest sign of accepting a consensus view about anything; and a message for BBC editors trapped in the dangerous quicksands of ‘impartial balance’:

  1. THAT THE EARTH'S CLIMATE IS WARMING DANGEROUSLY IS NO LONGER A MATTER FOR DEBATE.
  2. IT HAS NOT BEEN A MATTER OF DEBATE FOR AT LEAST THE PAST FORTY YEARS DURING WHICH GOVERNMENTS COULD HAVE ACTED TO SLOW OR STOP IT BUT DID NOTHING UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE.
  3. THE TARGETS SET BY THE KYOTO PROTOCOL AND PARIS ACCORD ARE INADEQUATE. THEY DO NOT CONSTITUTE SUFFICIENT ACTION TO PREVENT IMMINENT DISASTER WITHIN A GENERATION.
  4. THEY DO HOWEVER SUGGEST THAT WORLD GOVERNMENTS WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA HAVE ACCEPTED, HOWEVER RELUCTANTLY, THAT THERE IS NO LONGER A DEBATE TO BE HAD. (YOU SHOULD TOO.)
  5. IT HAS NOW BECOME AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS FACING ALL OF HUMANITY AND INDEED MOST OTHER LIFE ON EARTH. OUR FAILURE TO ACT IS THE ULTIMATE CRIME, THAT OF PLANETARY ECOCIDE.
  6. THE SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES UNDERLYING TODAY'S INCREASINGLY EXTREME AND ECONOMICALLY DEVASTATING HEATWAVES, STORMS, FLOODS, DROUGHTS AND WILDFIRES HAVE BEEN KNOWN FOR MORE THAN A HUNDRED YEARS.
  7. THE PEOPLE WHO ARE LYING TO US ABOUT THE GRAVITY OF THE SITUATION AND ITS CAUSE, WHICH HAS BEEN IN THEIR POWER FOR DECADES TO AMELIORATE, THE BURNING OF ANCIENT FOSSIL FUEL DEPOSITS AS A SOURCE OF ENERGY, KNOW PERFECTLY WELL THERE IS A PROBLEM.
  8. AS CORPORATIONS IN THE BUSINESS OF EXTRACTING AND BURNING FOSSIL FUELS, THEY HAVE A MISPLACED LEGAL DUTY TO MAXIMISE PROFITS FOR THEIR SHAREHOLDERS.
  9.  THEY ARE THEREFORE UNABLE TO ACT IN ANYONE'S BEST INTERESTS, OTHER THAN TO KEEP LYING; A POLICY ON WHICH THEY HAVE SPENT OVER A BILLION DOLLARS IN THE PAST 30 YEARS PAYING AGENTS TO SOW DOUBT AND CONFUSION IN THE PUBLIC MIND.
  10. THE CONTINUED UNINFORMED PRESENTATION IN MAINSTREAM MEDIA OF THE ISSUE STILL AS A MATTER FOR 'BALANCED' DEBATE - CREATING RESISTANCE TO AMELIORATIVE ACTION - IS CRIMINALLY AIDING AND ABETTING THE COMMISSION OF A PLANETARY ECOCIDE.

HAVE YOU UNDERSTOOD THAT, BBC?

Perhaps you would therefore explain to that tendentious old humbug, Humphrys, that the stupid and uneducated point he put to Al Gore about natural fluctuations in the global climatic average over time has already been discounted in calculating human impact, is a typical red herring promoted by the denial lobby and has no material relevance in the argument about the causes and consequences of a runaway warming earth.

When will you start taking this issue seriously and stop pussyfooting around it?

Thank you.

 

It’s never going to end. Also: The rule of law as it applies to the Conservatives.

“Theresa May, as home secretary, sat through 55 national security council meetings on Libya between March and November 2011. The national security adviser’s “lessons learned” report makes no mention of any Home Office contribution to that body’s decisions, nor any mention of the implications for domestic terror.” – Paul Mason, The Guardian, 27 May.

Whouahaawhouaha… eerie flashback music (again. I know, but why wouldn’t you?)

I was working at Thames TV in London in 1980. Three years earlier I had been fired from my job as a news editor on a regional radio station under, shall we say, murky circumstances – undue influence and all that – and found myself on an industry blacklist, that meant I had to start my career over again.

I gained some insight into what it must have been like for those Hollywood scriptwriters and directors unofficially blacklisted by their studios for fear of persecution by the anti-Communist witchhunting McCarthy gang (which included Trump’s notoriously thuggish mafioso solicitor, the happily late Roy Cohn).

After almost a year out of work, an editor I knew took pity on me and offered me anonymous production shifts on terrible late-night phone-in shows. Eventually I was rehabilitated, and did some well-received work, but I was never able to get another staff job and had to keep freelancing, which I’m not very good at as I have no administrative ability, networking or self-promoting instincts.

Thus I had ended up on monthly contract as a lowly scriptwriter on the early-evening news show for Thames, the London ITV contractor.

One day while in a production meeting where story ideas were being pitched, I brought up the matter of the revolution in Iran. I had a very good Iranian friend, so I knew there was quite a large population of Iranian exiles in London who had fled the Islamist purges in the wake of the overthrow of the Shah; and a concomitant population of pro-Khomeini agitators, spies and informers working against them.

Should we not perhaps look at the London dimension, where assassinations and larger-scale acts of violence were a real possibility? I asked the editor. After the shocked expressions had relaxed a bit – lost dogs, celebrity visits, tube strikes and Ken Livingstone’s antics as leader of the Greater London Council being about the sum of the editorial scope of the show – the editor dismissed it with a ‘well, call Scotland Yard and see what they say’.

So I called the press office (for the benefit of US spammers, likers etc. there is in reality no ‘Scotland Yard’, the headquarters of the Metropolitan police has not been at that address for many decades, sorry to disappoint), and they said no, that is not something we’re looking at now or even considering thinking about, thanks.

Feebly, I dropped the story. It was far above my pay grade to follow it up; besides, I didn’t have time, or the contacts.

Three days later an armed unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard took over the Iranian embassy in Palace Gate and a week-long siege ensued, that was ended when masked SAS men abseiled from the roof and crashed in through the windows, hurling stun grenades in an epic act of grandstanding that Thames’ police reporter, Colin Turner managed to catch on film, scooping the world’s media.

The reason I recount this story is that it’s foolish to imagine lessons are ever learned.

Paul Mason has written in The Guardian that British foreign policy, especially on Libya, has not changed. We imagine, don’t we, that there are certain countries where it’s fine to intervene in their turbid politics to suit our own view of what is the best outcome for all, and that there are never repercussions or responsibilities arising as a result. No forethought is required, for we are invariably in the right.

We – that is to say ‘the West’ – were the colonial powers in Islamic North Africa, the Middle East, northern India, Afghanistan in the C19th, when Britain, Russia and America were playing what was known as the Great Game, to secure influence over the important trade routes and mineral resources of the region, and to countervail the declining Ottoman empire.

The possibility of Islamist terrorism was at that time very real, in the estimation of the nascent Western intelligence services, as it was feared the warring tribes might unite behind a mythical saviour known as the Mahdi, whom the ‘Twelver’ Shi’ites believed would be the final incarnation of the Prophet, the Twelfth Imam; and the End of Days.

But what have we learned?

The long history of British interventions in Afghanistan is one mostly of bungling incompetence, our epic defeats being matched only by the brutality of our reprisals.

British troops sent to defend Helmand in the 2000s were hardly aware of the legacy of bitterness the C19th wars had left. It’s a different culture, with longer memories. They imagined they would be welcomed as peacekeepers, a bulwark against the Taleban. Instead they were spurned as occupiers, colonialists. Increasingly trapped in their makeshift cantonments, with mounting casualties becoming politically unacceptable at home, they were eventually forced to pull out.

The generals could have warned the poor squaddies about the back story, as they tend to study these things in books, but apparently they didn’t: thus, the occupation of Afghanistan in support as always of the Americans (who have learned nothing about the futility of asymmetrical warfare from the Vietnam debacle) became a tragedy, a strategic blunder that few people immediately understood as the gung-ho media focus was all on the betrayal of ‘our heroes’, few things in Britain having changed since the 1890s.

In pulling the Raj out of the Indian subcontinent in 1948 and arbitrarily dividing mainly Muslim Pakistan from mainly Hindu India, like taking a can-opener to separate conjoined twins without anaesthetic, we allowed – some say encouraged – a horrible civil war to unfold in which over a million died and tens of millions were displaced.

The ramifications are still being felt today, as nothing positive was ever done to settle the position of disputed Kashmir; while East Pakistan – Bangladesh – moves ever further down the road of Salafist extremism.

Throughout the Middle East, before both World Wars Britain did opportunistic power-sharing deals with local tribal leaders and then broke our promises, that left a lasting legacy of mistrust. To secure the loyalty of Faisal against the Turks, in Arabia we virtually invented the monarchical ‘House of Saud’. In colonial Iran to secure oil supplies we promoted the corrupt Pahlavi family into a poodle dynasty, with a preposterous ‘coronation’ of the Shah-in-Shah in the ruins of ancient Persepolis.

We drew lines on maps and chopped up the Middle East into imaginary ‘nations’, regardless of local religious and tribal accommodations that had arisen over centuries, a history of which we appeared to be totally unaware. When yet another coup brought the nationalizing Colonel Nasser to power in Egypt, in 1956 we and the French co-operated in a poorly planned attempt to sieze control of the Suez canal before he imposed costs on our shipping and restricted the flow of oil from the Gulf; forgetting to ask permission from the Americans, who opposed the idea. It turned into a rout.

That humiliating failure of foreign policy is generally held to mark the end of the British Empire and freed the Americans to buy their way into the region.

And then there was Israel, created from the British Mandate, armed and supported by the US in its several wars against the resident Palestinians and their neighbours Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt; the rise of the PLO, later Hamas – the festering refugee camps, the massacres, the ghettoising of the native population, the illegal settlements, the militarised security that began as legitimate national defence but morphed into a rough repression of the Arab minority.

Yet like the British, the Israelis seem to find it astonishing that apparently random and unprovoked acts of terrorism on their soil have been committed in the name of Palestinian liberation. ‘Who, us?’ they say. ‘But we’re the good guys!’ Ignoring that their own terrorists, the Stern Gang, Irgun, bombed the war-weary British into conceding the mandate in the first place. We left without securing a proper settlement.

We should perhaps briefly consider that the attacks in London using cars and knives are based on tactics developed by Hamas in Israel over the last few years, deploying minimal, virtually undetectable weaponry in the hands of ‘Fida’i’ – those willing to die – to achieve the same terrorising effect as guns and suicide vests.

Later still America engineered the coup that brought Saddam Hussein to power, and supported him for two decades, including his horrible war against Iran – eight years of bloody attrition with poison gas and school-age conscripts brainwashed by Imams into carrying out suicidal ‘open-wave’ assaults across minefields, children against machine-guns, leaving almost two million dead: a war of which we in the West were scarcely even aware at the time and which nobody remembers today.

After he seized power in 1970, apparently a moderate, Westernizing autocrat (though also profoundly corrupt, creating an oppressive personality cult and a ruthless security state around himself and his extended family) we stood by and did nothing in Syria back in 1980 while Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafiz, was killing thousands of ‘his own people’ protesting against his family’s corruption, and razing the rebel city of Hama to the ground – a penchant for medieval butchery runs in the family.

Later, Hafiz was credited with having created the concept of the ‘suicide bomber’, driving poor and hopeless young men and women to enter the enemy camp undetected and blow themselves up with hopes of salvation and riches in the life to come. Though of course this was nothing new: inspired by a living prophet known as The Old Man of the Mountain, the Fida’i or ‘Fedayeen’ were a quasi-religious order of fanatics who opposed the Frankish crusaders in Syria in the C14th and C15th armed with little more than knives and their own lives.

‘Jihad’ counts on its followers to be more willing to die for the cause than its enemies are.

The impossibly knotty power politics of postwar Syria – you can lookup the Wikipedia entry on Hafiz, but I guarantee you will give up long before the footnotes – resulted in a split in the Ba’ath party between Syria and Iraq and led directly to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafism, a revivalist doctrine of purity in Islam that motivated Osama bin-Laden and his fanatical followers to transfer their undeclared jihad to the West, largely targeting symbols of decadence and irreligiousness and hoping to sow confusion, dissension and division.

During the 1940s and 50s, colonial France prosecuted a nasty civil war against Algerian aspirations for independence. Twenty years after it was over, homegrown French terrorists – white men, former legionnaires sponsored by wealthy nationalists – were still carrying out bombing atrocities and assassinations in France to protest the withdrawal. A long-running Islamist insurrection in Morocco followed decades of jostling between the French and the Spanish for control of the protectorate, with Britain anxious to weaken both in its determination to hang on to Gibraltar.

In 2004, a Moroccan cell of al-Qaeda carried out a devastating terrorist atrocity in Madrid, killing 191 people with ten bombs, to protest the invasion of Iraq. There indeed was a clear and direct link between foreign policy and terrorism on both the regional and international levels.

In 2013, young Libyans joined in the Arab Spring movement, peacefully protesting the oppressive regime of Muammar Gadaffi, who struck back with characteristic brutality. Here was another regional ‘strongman’, a megalomaniacal torturer and serial rapist the oil-hungry West played with like a toy, flattering him one minute, branding him a terrorist the next – even while he was arming the Provisional IRA and fomenting rebellions among his southern neighbours.

Instead of standing by and watching him massacre his own people – we always say ‘his people’, don’t we, ignoring that those ‘strongmen’ whom we put and keep in power as long as it suits our energy policy have their own tribal loyalties and do not necessarily regard everyone as ‘their own people’ – David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy got together and persuaded the Americans to help us send planes to bomb Gadaffi’s tanks and supply lines, his airbases, to weaken them and thus enable the rebels to take over.

Tripoli bombing. (Google images)

It didn’t quite happen like that. The bombing of Tripoli and the Benghazi road went on day after day, justified by the phoney pretext of ‘precision-guided weaponry’, causing heavy casualties; until, attempting to flee, Gadaffi was dragged, pleading for his freedom, from hiding in a storm drain and murdered by the mob, a bayonet thrust up his anus before being shot in the head.

His sons were hunted down and arrested, and with no coherent follow-up plan coming from the West, Libya descended into chaos. The ‘rebels’ we had imagined were Westernising moderates turned out to be a squabbling assortment of tribal and religious militias and criminal gangs, bristling with liberated weaponry, harbouring varying degrees of vicious antipathy towards each other and towards the West.

What a surprise.

Eventually two shaky rival governments emerged, in the east and in the west of the country, with lawless badlands to the south. A shame because, as Donald Trump has said, they had ‘the best oil in the world’. (Mr Trump has argued that, wherever US troops are engaged, they should be allowed to recoup the cost by seizing the oil. He is criminally insane, of course, but nobody has the guts to remove him. They have seen what happens when you remove dictators.)

In Benghazi, the local militia invaded the US embassy and shot the ambassador. That, of course, was Hillary Clinton’s fault. A branch of ISIS opened in Sirte, Gadaffi’s home province, but was quickly expelled as ‘too extreme’ by local militias. Not before IS’s Libyan gunmen had entered Tunisia and murdered 32 Western tourists irreligiously bathing on a popular winter holiday beach. Another inexplicable, random attack?

Having previously invaded Iraq but left Saddam in place, after he seized the oilfields in Kuwait (it appears he imagined the Americans would like it) in 1991, twelve years later on the false pretext that the 9/11 attack on America had been supported by the dictator and claiming that he had obtained chemical and nuclear weapons he was planning to use to bring down the West, the US, Britain and NATO allies toppled the dictator using overwhelming lethal force: ‘shock and awe’, that left perhaps 15 thousand dead.

After a long manhunt, Saddam was dragged matted and bleeding from a hastily dug underground bunker, put on trial and executed. A puppet, Nuri al-Malaki was put in charge of an artificially ‘democratic’ government that has conspicuously failed to govern for national unity ever since.

In fact, apart from Israel the only country in the region that seems capable of conducting ‘free and fair’ elections is Iran – one of George W Bush’s three ‘Axis of Evil’ nations he accused of exporting global terrorism (along with Libya and North Korea). The three so named should have been Syria (probably responsible for the Lockerbie bombing), Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but they weren’t even on the target list.

Regardless of the possibility that Iran might be the best and most stable regional ally the West could have, despite its awful record on human rights, the US is gearing up for a lucrative new war; Britain is bound to join them and another foreign policy blunder of the first magnitude is looming.

With no plan for reconstruction other than to award lucrative contracts to companies owned by cronies of President George W Bush, that were never fulfilled – placing areas under the virtual control of Blackwater, an undisciplined private army – Iraq descended into virtual civil war between Sunni and Shi’a militias, proxies of Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively, under local warlords. The casualty rate continued to spiral into the hundreds of thousands.

The British in Iraq underwent another ignominious retreat, failing to comprehend the underlying politics of the Basra region where they were charged with maintaining the peace, our generals being anxious to believe they could sustain a ‘second front’ in Afghanistan, that would help them avoid further government cuts in manpower and materièl.

“It’s never going to end while Jingoistic cretins – Fallon, the disgraced former Defence Secretary Fox and the absurd, shambling, apelike creature, Boris Johnson – are in charge of the whelk stall….”

It may be noted that Britain is not, and has not for some time been, capable of sustaining these post-colonial entanglements, but our brain-dead political class dare not admit it to a populace of Daily this-or-that readers they imagine are still infatuated with dreams of empire.

Thus, every time they pursue some pointless and inadequately planned foreign intervention, they put our soldiers’ lives unnecessarily at risk – and those of civilians back home; failing to understand the nature, either of a virtually borderless world or of asymmetrical warfare.

And then there was Afghanistan, of course, again – and the rise of the Taleban, a political and Salafist (fanatically puritanical Sunni) religious army that was created effectively by the CIA when, in its clandestine attempts to destabilise Russian control of the country in the 1970s, it had financed, armed and trained a local militia, the Mujahideen.

The Mujahideen later grew and became more radicalized, and diversified into most of the terror-sponsoring organizations we have subsequently been ‘at war’ with in the Middle East and North Africa – Indonesia, and now seemingly also in the Philippines – employing sophisticated communications technology and improvised weaponry to good advantage, and who are still indirectly being armed by the CIA with free weapons passed on by so-called ‘friendly’ militias, as we seek to impose our ‘way of life’ (neoliberal consumer capitalism) on them, and they on us (the global caliphate).

Which is to ignore, too, the drugs trade, the poppy crop, of which The Pumpkin has little knowledge but which seems also to be part and parcel of the clandestine warfare run by the CIA in the 1970s, both in Afghanistan and in Colombia; and having made the economies of those countries dependent on it, it continues unabated today.

In God we trust

As a counterbalance to radical Islam, we are beginning to see in the USA, in rightwing nationalist countries in eastern Europe and in Russia, an equivalent militant fundamentalism arising, sponsored by ultra-orthodox Christian ideologues and financed with laundered money. Given that the new administration in the White House is deeply involved with the movement, the omens do not look good.

In Egypt, the Arab Spring movement failed to cohere sufficiently to replace the ousted dictator, Mubarak. This left a vacuum into which the Muslim Brotherhood stepped, winning the popular vote in 2012. Not long afterwards, President Morsi was deposed in an army coup and the American-backed General al-Sisi seized power, apparently with the approval of the Arab Spring moderates; since when he has instituted a repressive regime that has attracted a rising level of terrorist actions by both al-Qaeda and ISIS, including the downing of a Russian civil airliner over Sinai and attacks on Coptic Christian communities.

In the meantime, the USA continues to pour billions of dollars of armaments into Egypt, whose army has become, effectively, a separate ‘state within a state’.

So then, here we are back in Syria today, a complete bloody mess that threatens the security of the entire world; a maelstrom, a vortex of violence that is sucking the Great Powers once more into the incomprehensibly diverse politics of religious and tribal schisms, set this time against the exigencies of resource depletion, global crime and climate change; driving millions of desperate refugees northwards towards the razorwire fences of Hungary, Austria and Macedonia. (Five thousand refugees having drowned in the Mediterranean already this year.)

And the only response from the West, now joined enthusiastically by the Russians, has been to bomb, and bomb, and bomb again, not wishing to get our boots dirty, pretty much regardless of whose red lines we or they are crossing, not really knowing who we are supporting, who we are opposing, who we are bombing or to what end. Innocent women and children, poor villagers are dying by the hundreds every month, blown to smithereens in air raids and unmanned drone strikes – and for what?

It would be fair to say, I think, that the USA, Britain and our allies have been making a total balls-up of our foreign policy towards the Islamic world for over a century.

Do you seriously imagine they’re not going to fight back from a position of extreme ideological opposition to everything we stand for?

So, when a Tory thug like the Defence Secretary and former expenses-eater, Michael Fallon seeks to make election-bait out of the deaths of children on British soil by attacking a pacifist opponent in Jeremy Corbyn, branding him as some kind of flakey traitor who ‘excuses’ acts of terror by pointing with total justification to our shameful record of failings in foreign policy, who ‘cannot be trusted with the nation’s security’, unlike Theresa May (on whose watch this happened!), you just know, don’t you.

It’s never going to end.

It’s never going to end while Jingoistic cretins – Fallon, the disgraced former Defence Secretary Fox, the absurd, shambling, apelike creature, ‘Bigfoot’ Boris Johnson and the Press dictator, Dacre – are in charge of the whelk stall, and have their filthy, sanctimonious lips firmly attached around the prolapsed anal sphincter of a dangerously ignorant, aberrant monster, Donald Trump; around whom, it is increasingly apparent, has coalesced a Russian spy ring inside the White House.

To deny any connection between British and American foreign policy and Islamist terrorism is just crass, self-deluding propaganda. It is as stupid as claiming British policy in Ireland from the C17th onwards, through land-grab, famine, civil war and partition, had nothing at all to do with the rise of the Provisional IRA.

Terrorists do not emerge spontaneously from holes in the mud, as in medieval times it used to be believed swallows – migratory birds – did in summer. They have a cause, in both senses of the word.

Everything is connected. As Paul Mason goes on to write:

“It is now reported that MI5 was facilitating the travel of non-jihadi British Libyans to fight in Tripoli. The minister responsible for that decision would have been May. Did she ask about the impact of the Libyan fighting on the terror threat here? That would be something the newspapers, if they did their job, would be shouting at her today, instead of hurling insults at Jeremy Corbyn.”

I mention this, not for party political advantage, nor to ‘excuse’ acts of violence, but as yet another simple illustration of the carelessness with which our politicians dispose of the lives of people elsewhere in the world while accepting no responsibility whatever for the consequences for ‘our own people’, other than to further turn the screws of surveillance, censorship and armed policing in our nation.

It really will not do.

x

The rule of law as it applies to the Conservatives

Look.

I don’t understand the first thing about social media, unless you count this, muh li’l bogl. I don’t understand much about this either, especially why I can’t single-space the text, or why the spam filter asks me if I’d like to moderate the most obviously spam messages you couldn’t wish for. And it’s not that social. Five viewings today, all day, is quite a good haul – mostly the usual old stuff.

Comex Two, Stately Home, blah.

Thus I have no social media accounts, and I automatically delete unread any responses to the Comments I compulsively make on news threads like YouTube or the Grauniad. I am so not interested in this technoshit, and care so little about what people think of my opinions that I refuse to even read what they say in reply, complimentary or otherwise.

They are mostly illiterate baboons in any case.

But if you’ve been following the alternate Pumpkin threads on this site you’ll be aware by now that there’s growing concern about surreptitious political advertising targeted directly at wavering, inadequately educated young voters identified through analysis of their computer and phone usage, that they aren’t aware they consented to.

It’s developing from the same kind of personalized nonsense that meant that, after I bought a saxophone last year, I was bombarded with microtargeted pop-ups from people wanting to sell me more saxophones. How many could I need? Or that, having been forced to sign up to the BBC iPlayer site that used to just let you watch whatever you wanted, I now get only the programmes presented to me that they expect me to watch, based on my personal data (M, 67) and the uninteresting region where I live.

Surely I can make up my own mind?

This kind of automated campaigning by clandestine botnets has been identified in the USA as a factor in the Presidential election last year, the concern being that the data analysis may have been based partly on state-authorised Russian hacking in cahoots with the Trump campaign.

US, Britain and Canada-based data analysis companies owned by rogue multi-billionaire Robert Mercer, a core Trump backer, have also been implicated, in an excellent series of articles in The Observer newspaper by Carole Cadwaladr, in having tried to influence the EU referendum in favour of Brexit, against Electoral Commission rules.

There is apparent difficulty in obtaining research data on the usage, extent and effect of these campaigns as social media such as Facebook and Twitter are opaque to outsiders. Much of what we fear about the subversive activity carried by these ‘platforms’, enabled to increase their profit, is anecdotal or based on very small samples.

This week we read the following:

“The Observer has obtained a series of Conservative party attack ads sent to voters last week in the key marginal constituency of Delyn, north Wales. Activists captured the ads using dummy Facebook accounts after finding that their own ads – encouraging young people to register to vote – were being “drowned out” by the Tory ads.”

In other words, the Tories have been running a trial campaign online of fake news against their Labour rivals in an attempt to gerrymander a constituency, despite knowing that the Electoral Commission is investigating precisely this kind of advertising, that seems on the face of it to be in flagrant breach of the rules regarding campaign funding.

This, only days after they escaped prosecution in several constituencies by the skin of their teeth, after a lower court ruling that undeclared costs involved in sending a Central Office ‘battle bus’ to support candidates in marginal constituencies did not violate local spending limits; which, of course, any reasonable juror would conclude they did.

What a shameless bunch of cunts these Tories are, aren’t they? They will stop at nothing to retain power, even stooping to make political capital out of the heightened national insecurity in the wake of the murders of 22 children, parents and a policewoman in the Manchester Arena bombing only last Monday.

Although they’re the ones in government overseeing this failure of security, they seek to make out that it is their opponents who have allowed it to happen and who cannot be trusted to ensure it does not happen again.

And if you want to see where that goes, hop over to the USA and Mr Alex Jones’ ‘InfoWars’ website, where he reports the murdered children brought the Manchester bombing on themselves because they’re ‘liberals’.

Sick sons of bitches.

Well, thanks to the bizarre attacks their manifesto has made on poorer schoolkids, struggling tenants and the frail elderly, policies that could have come straight from the Donald J Trump playbook on how to crush a loser while guzzling Belgian chocolates and whining about the difficulty of getting planning consents for golf courses, plus the obviously ‘fake news’ that they plan to bring back foxhunting, already the Tories’ poll lead has plunged from 12% to 5% in less than a week.

Good, the BogPo hopes the lousy cheating bastards, the party of asset-skimming fund managers, land-subsidy junkies and rack-renting landlords lose, and lose bigly.

DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM.

This advertisement has been paid for through years of unrewarded toil at the coalface of documentary literature by your Uncle Bogler, 67.

 

The Pumpkin essay: They hate our way of life. (‘I never mentioned Israel’).

“The fact that no British politician other than poor Mr Corbyn dares to admit that we have been bringing this on ourselves for 150 years …. is itself the very root and branch of last night’s tragedy.”

They hate our way of life

The suicide bombing that killed 22 young concertgoers and waiting parents in Manchester last night was a filthy atrocity that is still raw and resonant in the light of dawn. The Pumpkin debated with itself long and hard during the sleepless toothaching hours of this morning whether or not it was too soon to share certain thoughts with our Spammers, Likers, etc. that rose to the surface about, particularly, the timing of the attack.

The Pumpkin however is not known for the longevity of its memory and so felt it better to set matters down now. If you don’t wish to be irked today, come back some other time.

It was possibly just fortuitous. Some commentators pointed to the fact that it is the fourth anniversary of the murder in London by extremist Islamic ‘converts’, two African men of low intelligence, of Fusilier Lee Rigby, an off-duty soldier seemingly victimised at random as the symbolic target of some incoherent malcontent.

But the two events seem barely tangential and there is plenty else going on to explain an outrage at this time, if explanation is required (which, as I go on to explain, it isn’t… at least, it will not be encouraged).

The circumstances are as they are: the identity of the perpetrator will no doubt be pieced together in the coming hours, their contacts file raided before dawn, possible accomplices arrested, CCTV and phone images and witnesses interviewed, photos of the tragic victims sourced – the media will (indeed, judging by the headlines emerging from online press it already has) brush down the narrative of the ‘men of evil’ who ‘hate our way of life’.

Amid the hand-wringing pieties, the COBRA meetings (that must be getting a bit repetitive by now) and defiant rhetoric of politicians who have nothing left to say we shall no doubt hear the sound of stable doors being resolutely bolted to ensure that ‘nothing like this ever happens again’, while knowing in our heart of hearts that of course it will.

The one thing that can be done to honour the dead will not be done: end the war.

The last criminals to bomb Manchester were the Provisional IRA in 1996, a huge demolition job that injured over 200 people but, thanks to a partial warning given in advance, led to no deaths. The IRA were less interested in killing people en masse than in demonstrating that they could if they wanted to. Though, of course, ‘regrettably’ people were occasionally killed, three thousand on all sides over 20 years, the conflict was eventually ended not with semtex and the Armalite, but by negotation and seeking the other person’s point of view.

Some other people will draw moral equivalence between this random attack on our children and the many, many instances of civilian collateral deaths in the so-called war on terror, that is visiting appalling hardship and mounting casualties daily on poor villagers from what is inaccurately claimed to be ‘precision-guided’ aerial bombing in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan – aimed (but not very well) at terrorising the fanatical army of Abubakr al-Baghdadi – IS – into submission.

An army born of Western interventions and supplied by America’s persistent arming of the Gulf states and supposedly friendly militias.

Appalling, but no longer, by example, unimaginable. From time to time we feel the backlash and gain a glimpse. Or rather, we don’t. Our ‘glimpse’ of their pain is invariably subsumed by the authorities into a narrative of inexcusable hatred of ‘our way of life’ – as if we don’t hate theirs back. Any other response is considered profoundly unpatriotic.

It might all make more sense if the authorities – the government – would openly admit to what the national policy in Syria and Iraq actually is; the problem being, they don’t know. There isn’t one. It’s all about blindly following some agenda set by ‘the West’ – whatever that is – that we have passively gone along with for decades since ceasing to be the imperial power in the region.

Perhaps the real crime is that what is being done there in our name makes so little impression on us here, three thousand miles away, where we go about our business in denial, blind to the suffering of others – until the refugees arrive on our doorstep and the media and the politicians conspire to affect surprise and consternation as they force shut the gates against them.

Perhaps they have not rejected the refugees because of who they are, but in order not to alarm the population too greatly as to WHY they are.

The Pumpkin regrets that, whatever the historical justification, the official version, the uncomfortable fact is that there is a war on, and that the inexplicable, evil ‘terrorist’ acts are also acts of war is simply not an argument it is permissible to make in our country. Let us just say then that the number of civilian deaths (including many ‘beautiful babies’ and wedding parties inadvertently reduced by Allied ordnance to unidentifiable body parts) in those one-sided conflict zones has increased markedly since the arrival in office last January of President Trump. (See link below)

In his determination to impress the dumbfucks with his toughness and singleminded ambition to ‘make America great again’, Trump has removed even the flimsy cover of the rules of engagement, while imposing the equally flimsy cover of a news blackout on military affairs. But does it amount to a strategy? We can see how this may be giving certain elements on the opposing side, which appears to be losing its grip both on human unreason and conquered land, cause for yet greater anguish; while, from a British dimension, Mrs May’s unconsidered support for Trump’s circus of the grotesque will not have gone unnoticed (see below).

While Mr Trump insists that his intensification of the Kissinger doctrine of ‘just bomb the shit out of them’, encouraged by the manufacturers of bombs, will ‘keep people safe on our streets’, elementary logic dictates that it will have precisely the opposite effect – and elementary cynicism suggests that that is precisely the intention.

Safe streets do not require the imposition of authoritarian regimes through dubious stratagems well-funded by uber-capitalist billionaires hell-bent on extracting for themselves the last ounces of wealth from a dying planet.

Rather than looking to the anniversary of the killing of Fusilier Rigby, one might look to the more contemporaneous speech Mr Trump delivered in Riyadh three days ago to the representatives of the Arab world, a speech written (it’s said) by his notoriously Islamophobic, obnoxious young advisor, Stephen Miller, calling for a final push to end violent extremism.

As if!

The Pumpkin respectfully suggests that as long as there is a cause for extremism there will be extremism. Trump could bring about the ‘beginning of the end’ of the war on terror by calling off his bombers first and not selling another $300 billion-worth of armaments to Saudi Arabia, a medieval terror-sponsoring autocratic patriarchal petrodollar state hagridden with hypocritical royal princelings, that seems to thrive on glut.

Instead, he brings the terrorists within his own limited compass, describing them as ‘losers’.

For Trump, life is simple: you are either rich, or you are nothing. A winner, or a loser. The president is sick beyond redemption, scarcely even human: a brash, vain money-breather with a brain made from congealed greed. Yet in a way, he has hit the nail on the head. Violence is the last refuge of the ‘loser’, when economic power is denied them and the violence of superior wealth, the violence of the winners, is visited daily on their nation.

(It should be pointed out respectfully that if it should prove to be the case that the Manchester bomber was a Muslim, he or she will almost certainly have been inspired by one or other branch of the faith that has its roots in Sunni wahabbism as practised, promoted and financed by Saudi clerics, and not in Shi’a or Sufism. Thanks to its insatiable demand for oil, America has always had great difficulty in determining who its real enemies are.)

We are living in a very odd time, are we not?, at which our rulers are prosecuting a war over our heads, largely hidden from the sight of the population at large; so that it is only brought home to us that ‘something is going on’ when atrocities are perpetrated on our own soil, in our concert halls, whereupon they are invariably represented to us as somehow inexplicable and random instances of ‘evil’, devoid of meaning or context.

It is simply not permissible to question the nature of this ‘evil’ or even to suggest it may have roots and cause and reason; as to do so would be to start to pull aside the veil. All that may be said of it is that there is an ‘enemy within’, who might be the hateful stranger next door; fear is turned against us and we are helpless in the face of it, reliant entirely on the State apparatus, on State power and secret knowledge, to ‘keep our streets safe’.

And when, inevitably, it is brought home to us – thankfully very rarely, this was the first bomb attack (we are told) on the UK mainland since 2005 – that our streets are not so safe, and can never be, the first instinct of the State is to add extra layers to the cocoon of platitudes that stifles rational debate.

No-one suggested the bomber wanted to destroy British values, Mrs May. That’s you talking out of your book of post-outrage homilies. It seems far more likely the bomber wanted to make a point by destroying Western children, which is why he targeted a concert for the young fans of Ariana Grande.

But yes, the element of Salafism, the religiously motivated Puritanical disdain for our soft, decadent pleasure-seeking, our lotus-eating lifestyle, which we indulge briefly in the few hours between work and work, in much the same way as Saudi wahabbists love to come to London and New York for the brothels and the casinos, that’s enough to say ‘they want to destroy our way of life’.

Which is another way of saying: they have a clear target and a cause they can use to recruit disaffected young men to attack it in pursuit of their war. It’s not such a difficult idea.

It takes perhaps a more sophisticated understanding of the nature of modern ‘hybrid’ or asymmetrical warfare than has yet caught up with the majority, fed on stirring tales, who may still think of a war as a confrontation formally declared and conducted between States with armies and navies and airforces, between ‘our boys’ and their ‘terrorists’ (our ‘heroes’, their hate-filled ‘murderers’) along more or less equal lines.

The so-called ‘Gerasimov doctrine’ however introduces precisely the mix of random and inexplicable events as elements of a wider picture, of present and future conflicts conducted in many ways and on many levels wherever opportunity arises, through computer hacks and disruptive malware, propaganda coups, ‘fake news’ and confusion, financial chaos and the encouragement of political instability, inexplicably shifting allegiances and illogical interventions; yes, occasional ‘terrorist outrages’ too – with only the thrust and parry of actual armed conflict from time to time to indicate that anything is going on.

As this ‘war against terror’ as Mr Bush defined it has no State enemy, is prosecuted in our name under a cloak of secrecy and deniability wherever the State chooses to pursue it, in whatever way, it is simply not possible for us to address the underlying narrative, the historical causes, of the violence – perhaps even to end it – to put finite limits on it without admitting that, yes, there is a reason, there is a cause, a historic injustice to which the word ‘unacceptable’, that favourite epithet of politicians, cannot be applied without undermining everything we are told we must stand for, our sacrosanct ‘way of life’, against which all argument such as this essay is ‘unacceptable’ – treason.

‘Our way of life’ is code for an increasingly fractious and irresponsible society where glaring inequality, economic stagnation for the many, unprincipled accumulation of wealth by the few, ersatz kultur, gargantuan waste and the growing signs of unsustainability are skated over, as the supermarkets struggle to keep up the appearance of infinite abundance in the face of rising commodity prices and crop failures; as the Arctic warms to boiling point.

Yet it is our government that has put our values, our ‘way of life’ on the line.

We are, it seems, here in Britain trapped in yet another election period, characterised by the de facto Prime Minister’s insistence that the principal motive for holding this election now, four years early, is to cement her in power, on the grounds that ‘only she’ can provide the ‘strong and stable leadership’ required to navigate us through the choppy waters ahead.

How many times have we heard this same bullshit from the vain and the overweeningly ambitious?

Mrs May has already demonstrated that she is not interested in Parliamentary democracy, by fighting a (losing) legal battle to deny Parliament the right of even a hint of a veto or any discussion over negotiations which she will personally oversee in order to obtain the best deal for Britain, a ‘red, white and blue Brexit’, in the minor matter of our shameful abandonment of our treaty obligations to 27 other European states, regardless of the damage to our long-term economic and security interests. Inasmuch as there is a long-term.

Indeed, so autocratic is the diffident lady that she has virtually abandoned her own Conservative party. There is almost no mention of the name in her communications with the public, who are henceforth to refer to the venerable party as ‘Team May’. Just what the hell is going on?, to quote former Candidate Trump. (Well, we now know, as details emerge of massive contributions to her election war-chest from three leading oil industry executives, while millionaire fund managers openly propose to buy politicians amenable to their profitably disruptive model of a ‘hard Brexit’.)

Three days ago, however, Mrs May’s seemingly unassailable poll ratings began to tumble, as she was forced through audibly gritted teeth to defend the presentation of, and possibly even backslide or even flip-flop on, a number of unthought-through promises contained in her manifesto, hastily drawn up by her exclusive inner circle of unelected advisors – including a former regional editor of the Daily Mail – policies that would have devastating financial consequences, both for poorer children and the frail elderly.

It is of course churlish to say what The Pumpkin is going to say next, outrageous and unacceptable, in very bad taste indeed; not the time, if ever there could be an appropriate time to discuss such an appalling event in such dishonourable terms. (There is of course not the slightest suggestion of any direct link or any such inference to be drawn here.)

But it is an ill wind, they say, that blows nobody any good.

Following the Manchester bombing, it would be invidious of some unscrupulous blogger fairly high on the Asperger’s scale not to point to the likely effect on the election outcome, which must surely now be beyond doubt.

The former Home Secretary, having presided over the security apparatus for six years previously; the architect of so much anti-terrorism legislation, despite successive governments having denuded the police, the military and the security services of the manpower and resources to actually implement the legislation or defend the country, Mrs May has created around herself an invincible aura: the impeccable credentials of a Boudicca who will ‘guarantee’ the safety of our streets.

The saintly and sanctimonious Mr Corbyn, on the other hand, has been ruthlessly tarred in a long-running campaign with the twin brushes of flakey pacifism and fraternising with terrorists – one of those Islingtonian libtard snowflakes who prefers ‘jaw-jaw’ to ‘war-war’ and thinks one should negotiate with one’s enemies before squishing them –  ever since he was first elected to the leadership of the Labour party.

Why, the hoary old traitor would even refuse to commit our US-controlled nuclear ‘deterrent’ to a British first-strike if pushed to it! He’d be too scared to press the button! How can such a cowardly man be allowed to run the country?

There is now, surely, no contest. The crux of the election will already have swung from ‘Brexit’ to the rhetoric of ‘safe streets’. Once campaigning resumes, only Mrs May, channelling Thatcher, than whom she is allegedly more popular, will be said to have the strength and stability to stand up to the men of violence, etcetera.

The fact that no British politician other than poor Mr Corbyn dares to admit that we have been bringing this on ourselves for almost 150 years of meddling in the oil- and blood-soaked affairs of the Middle East against the stony backdrop of a centuries-old history of violent schism within Islam, invasion and crusade, empire-building and collision, the gerrymandering of artificial states and the finagling of corrupt and brutal autocracies, is itself the very root and branch of last night’s tragedy.

‘Evil’ has nothing to do with it. ‘Evil’ is indeed part of the same delusionary medieval mindset as that of the fundamentalists on both sides who are prosecuting this filthy and in large part covert war; an unending conflict between proxies of greater Powers, petrol poured over it and replenished daily by the arms trade, inasmuch as life here on the Western front mostly carries on as if nothing was happening; until it does.

The Pumpkin has tried for several months now to point to the quasi-mystical aspect of the current political paradigm-shift in the West, driven in part by wealthy ‘disruptors’ linked to ultra-nationalist movements with roots feeding deep on past glories, when heroic knightly Christians and evil profane Moors collided with one another at the gates of Jerusalem, of Vienna, Byzantium, Granada and Omdurman; and partly by the ‘global laundromat’ of hot money.

It is simply folly to deny this history and not see the contemporary resonances. They may be largely symbolic nowadays, with the entry of gangsterism and drones into the equation; but symbolism has become the rationality de nos jours. And those people want war, they crave instability, uncertainty. It’s good for markets.

It would be folly, too, not to try at least to comprehend the enormity of; the incredible complexity, the tangled warp and weft, the thrust and plot of labyrinthine Mid-Eastern politics on so many levels; the role of Israel, the machinations of the energy business and the Deep States, with their endless lethal games; the ancient tribal power struggles… we interfere at our peril, we understand nothing. These ought not to be our affairs.

Atrocities such as Manchester’s cannot be reduced to the one simple absurdity, the old cliche of an act that is purely ‘evil’. People just don’t blow themselves up in crowded places because they are ‘evil’, they do it out of desperation, they go crazy and do these things because nothing else is available to them; no other remedy for the pain in their heart, the confusion in their head; not even the acknowledgment that they are fighting in a war which we have imposed on them: only the epithets ‘terrorist’. ‘Loser’.

We can manage our own atrocities, thank you.

Further reading: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/24/mosuls-children-were-shouting-under-the-rubble-nobody-came

 

Postscriptum

And if you want to know how prescient is The Pumpkin, JC has indeed today (26 May) made a speech attempting to explain that there is a war on, just as I said – and if you want also to know what utter cunts the Tories are, here is the text of a reply from bully-boy expenses hypocrite, Michael Fallon:

“This is a very badly timed speech, showing some very muddled and dangerous thinking (That’s two ‘verys’, Ed.). He seems to be implying that a terorrist (sic) attack in Manchester is somehow our fault, it’s somehow Britain’s fault.

“Jeremy Corbyn is far to ready to ready to (sic) find excuses and far to (sic) slow to support the police and the security services. This is a man, by the way, who has opposed every piece of terrorist legislations (sic), who thinks we should talk to terrorists, and who’s even questioned should be right to shoot to kill (What? Ed.).

“You see the contrast today between Theresa May acting in the national interest and Jeremy Corbyn confirming that he’s simply not up to the job.”

So that’s what you get in wartime Britain for merely telling the truth. Of course it’s not the sort of thing you’d put past Fallon, to make political capital out of the deaths of children. He’s the most disgusting chinless apology for a human being, isn’t he?

Fuck them. DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM.

In the long run we’re all dead.

Isn’t he just priceless?

You may remember, there was a fuss the other week because, having fired the man investigating him over his dodgy Russian connections, the very next day Trump entertained the Russian foreign minister and the ambassador-spy at the White House, at the suggestion of Mr Putin?

And there, in front of a Russian photographer he blurted out information so secret that it came with a ‘Code-only’ security rating, that the US has ‘great intel’ such as was coming from right inside ISIS thanks to an ally in the region; the inference being that Israeli intelligence had an asset in Raqqa?

And when this was leaked, Trump got General McMaster, his head of national security, to deny that he’d given any secrets away? And then Trump went on TV and said he had an ‘absolute right’ to tell anyone anything he wanted, because he was the President. But he would never say where the intel came from, of course he wouldn’t?

So Trump is in Israel, there’s a press conference with Netanyahu, and the Trumpkin gets up and announces to the world’s press, ‘first I want to tell you, I never mentioned Israel. I never said it was Israel.’

And meanwhile it has emerged that Trump also informed his new buddy, the pockmarked litle thug Duterte of the Philippines, in a telephone call two weeks ago, of the whereabouts of two ‘very powerful’ US nuclear submarines.

This man’s IQ is very definitely somewhere in the 90s. Maybe lower. Immeasurably low. Especially when he tells the assembled Israeli ministers: ‘We just got in from the Middle East…’

And it appears that the lawyer he has briefed to defend him against the FBI’s investigation of his links with Russia is working for a leading Russian bank… his business partner is former GOP senator, Joe Lieberman, Trump’s (probably now abandoned) pick for director of… the FBI…

And it also appears that Comey was not the only one Trump begged to abandon the investigations into connections with Russia, a prima facie case for a federal charge of obstructing justice, but he also called the heads of the CIA and the National Security Administration and tried to get them to put pressure on Comey to back off the investigation into Flynn….

It’s like he’d rather be in gaol than in the White House.

What a loser.

x

xAmericans? Fuck ’em, says Trump

And if you want to know who really hates your way of life, please watch Senator Elizabeth Warren’s dissection of Trump and DeVos’s proposed $11bn education cuts in the federal budget, to pay for the Mexican border wall:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ma5AsvIgbhw

It is so shocking you will not believe it. So if you don’t believe it, catch the full version with Senator Chuck Schumer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98a3Uq3ML9A

(btw you may hear him refer to student loans. Mrs DeVos owns a company that buys up student loans and pursues students for payment with threats and property seizures.)

You may wish to conclude that Donald J Trump is a demented old orange slug and his placemen incompetent, self-interested, profoundly corrupted lunatics.

I couldn’t possibly comment.

Pssst… wanna know the definition of the word ‘wanker’? What do these idiots know anyway, other than how to count pennies? And idiots who don’t… plus: The Street of Shame.

Pssst… wanna know the definition of the word ‘wanker’?

Confronted by evidence of a sharp slowdown in the British economy he supposedly manages on behalf of Queen Theresa, as the Brexit shocks finally start to work through, Chancellor Philip Hammond tweeted (!) as follows:

“Choice facing the British ppl: strong & stable Govt w/ T May to lock in econ progress vs J Corbyn’s coalition of chaos-a risk to our economy.”

Who’s he kidding? He doesn’t even realise ‘strong and stable’ – a dreary cliche concocted by expensive Aussie spinmeister ‘Sir’ Lynton Crosby and nonsensically repeated at every opportunity by May et al – as in: “I’ll have the steak, please, and make sure it’s strong and stable” – has already become this week’s joke.

‘Coalition of chaos’ is another infantile slur dreamed up by Crosby. Presumably it hasn’t occurred to him that between 2010 and 2015 it was his own party that was in a coalition, not Labour. And if you don’t think the Tories’ Brexit has caused chaos you must be living in a campervan and drying your socks on a tree.

Tories, eh? Fucking liars, the lot of them.

“Pew, it smells rather strongly of stable…”

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“We will get out there and we will be become incredibly successful because we will be insecure again. And insecurity is fantastic.” – Peter Hargreaves (quoted in Reuter’s report, 11 May, 2016.)

“Brexit leaves industrial firms staring into regulatory void” – Reuter’s report, 26 April 2017.

 

What do these idiots know anyway, other than how to count pennies?

By: Business Correspondent, Sterling Pound ©2017. @longliquidlunch.com

Another billionaire ‘disruptor’, money-man Mr Peter Hargreaves, has hoved over the BogPo’s horizon, thanks to a sidelong reference in a piece by George Monbiot in today’s Guardian.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/25/vote-labour-jeremy-corbyn-theresa-may?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=223208&subid=19570602&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

If you have ever wondered why these people do it, seek to use their vast wealth to undermine our institutions, disrupt the liberal-democratic consensus and bend the system to their greedy desire to aggregate to themselves even more obscene wealth, as if the entire goal of existence is to amass as much treasure as you can and then die without it, the following extracts are pretty much self-explanatory:

“Hargreaves financially supported the Leave.EU campaign in 2016, and wrote to 15 million UK householders asking them to support the leave campaign in the European Union membership referendum. … (he) said that the Brexit will lead to insecurity, which will turn out be very effective. … the companies in the FTSE 100 Index may turn out to be very profitable because of the referendum decision.” – Wikipedia

From Wealth Manager magazine (sorry, I’ve lost the reference date. Ed.)

“The number of billionaires living in the UK has exceeded 100 for the first time in history with Peter Hargreaves’ relentless rise up the wealth charts continuing. The Hargreaves Lansdown (HL) founder saw his wealth rise by £867 million in 2013, according to the Sunday Times Super Rich list. This rise is largely thanks to the doubling of HL’s share price in 2013 from £6.81 to £13.54. Shares in the firm closed at £12.09 last week.”

So at least he’s owned up. Brexit was a scheme to manipulate the markets. Let’s just pause and consider.

“Saving money by design”

Like British waistlines, numbers have been expanding rapidly. We now bandy words like ‘billion’ and ‘trillion’ with barely a thought. Were you or I to win a million pounds on the Lotto, we would consider ourselves rich. I doubt I have earned a million pounds in my entire career. But a million pounds is not real wealth. Once you have paid half a million for a four-bedroomed 1950s semi-detached house in the suburbs of Manchester or Birmingham, thrown a party, taken the cruise and bought your kids annuities, a new Jaguar standing on the forecourt, the income you’ll earn from investing the balance will be a few hundred pounds a year at best.

Let’s remember, to be a ‘billionaire’ you have to be earning at least a hundred million a year and still have assets valued at 900 million or more. A million is a thousand thousand. A billion is a thousand thousand thousand…. Pounds, dollars? How does anyone get to be a billionaire, let alone a multi-billionaire like Peter Hargreaves? It would take you or me a thousand Lotto wins, a thousand lifetimes.

It requires total dedication to Mammon, that’s for sure. No time for love and laughter.

Mr Hargreaves knows that ‘insecurity’ – presumably of the kind that nearly kicked-off a nuclear war last week – is good for capitalism.

He is by all accounts in person a modest man who, apart from the odd non-executive directorship, lives quietly in retirement on his farm in the West Country, growing his own vegetables and never betting “more than £5” at the races – despite owning several racehorses. He founded his investment company, Hargreaves Lansdown, in 1981, from his bedroom. It still affords him a living.

What therefore could this trained accountant, said to be worth £2.4 billion, possibly gain from amassing more and more totally unneeded wealth? Given that it’s not going to get him into Heaven?

He would either have to be a sociopath, a Scrooge cackling madly atop a huge pile of gold, or he genuinely believes that forcing the Stock Market to more and more perilous heights is a Good Thing for the British economy; grossly overvaluing the nation’s industrial assets, enriching himself and his friends at the expense of gouging the sick, the poor and disabled, the cheated schoolkids, thwarted Millennials, companies sitting on an unused cash pile of £700 billion and counting; money denied to the socially useful departments of the State and to the ones who actually do the work – you and me.

There could be no other reason for wanting to drag Britain out of the European Union and possibly bring down the entire edifice of peaceful postwar co-operation, gradually increasing prosperity and civil society in Europe, could there?

Ironically, it is said, Mr Hargreaves actually ‘lost’ £400 million as a result of his carefully planned campaign going pear-shaped. He won the Leave vote, but his prediction of boom times in the City failed to materialise; while official figures are now showing an economy beginning to slide southward; city jobs leaving; Britain’s shared global influence waning.

Altogether now…

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And idiots who don’t…

Nick Ramsay, chairman of the assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, said the report was the latest example of poor handling of Welsh Government funding for the private sector.

“I am particularly concerned that the auditor-general has identified a lack of Welsh Government oversight of payments made by the project to related companies, and also the use of taxpayers’ money to purchase a Buckinghamshire-based engineering company that later went into administration,” he said.

Circuit of Wales (however! Ed.) said the report represents a “clean bill of health” for the plans and project and shows that its directors “have been completely exonerated of the false claims made over the misuse of public funds”. – BBC News Wales, 27 April.

Once again millions of pounds of Welsh taxpayers’ money have been ploughed willy-nilly into a gobsmacking vanity project that any hard-headed commercial manager would have dismissed as pie-in-the-sky from the get-go. The report bears it out, but the directors are ‘exonerated’. Of course they are, bless them.

In this case, Circuit of Wales (you might alter the name to ‘circuit-and-see’) is, or hopefully was, a £400 million speculative wheeze to build a motor-cycle racing circuit and theme park dedicated to outdated vulgarities on what has been described as ‘undeveloped moorland’ – in other words, in the spiritually uplifting, quiet and peaceful environment of the upland habitat that makes Wales so scenically special for visitors and the resident wildlife.

Just the place in fact for screaming engines, squealing tyres, clouds of ethanol-laced petrol smoke, the fatty stench of burgers, incomprehensible announcements bellowing over a tannoy raised to volume 11, a litter of styrofoam fast-food trays and plastic beer mugs; queues for the car park and the overflowing toilets.

The BogPo’s own experience of managing projects is on a smaller scale, admittedly, but your Uncle B. was once hired to set up a £1.5 million publicly funded project in Wales that turned out to be another scam, and can safely say that if anyone came to me proposing to blow £400 million on a 100% guaranteed risk-free business opportunity to create ‘six thousand jobs’ and attract three quarters of a million visitors a year to an oil-soaked motor-bike racetrack in the middle of fucking nowhere, I would have booted them out of my office and told them to go and earn a living.

Instead, the Welsh Assembly Government, mordantly known as WAG, handed them £7 million of your money and mine, no questions asked, just to think about it, basically – with a promise of more that has now thankfully been withdrawn.

The really successful con-men of this world know that the secret is to flatter the mark with the promise of rewards so huge, kickbacks so pleasing, artists’ impressions so alluring, they cannot but hand over their wallet, their shirt and trousers too. And if the initial proposal looks like failing, you don’t row back – no, you make the proposal even BIGGER!

“As well as a motorbike circuit, the proposals now include mountain bike trails, a BMX park, concert facilities and indoor skiing.”

Also underwater discus-throwing, women’s bog-snorkelling, wheelchair golf and courses in accountancy for dummies.

The ask is that if Wales puts up half – £200 million – the rest will come from ‘private sources’. Circuit of Wales however has itself apparently put nothing in, having no assets, no security, no liability whatsoever, the project being what’s known as a ‘blank-paper’ proposal; i.e. made of nothing, just like the Universe. Even that did not ring alarm bells; not even when £35,000 of the money was alleged to have ended up being ploughed via some other circuitous route into a domestic garden makeover for Circuit of Wales’ CEO, Mr Michael Carrick.

Brickbats and bureaucrats

Welsh funding agencies have a simply appalling record over the years of handing out public money irresponsibly to anyone who comes along, without having the slightest idea of what the project is, what it involves, what its chances of succeeding are, who is behind it and where the money is going… oops, has gone.

The bureaucrats who infest these quangos, created only to find imaginative ways of blowing the €1.6 billion cheque posted to Wales in the early noughties by the EU in ‘Objective One’ funding designed to bring on economic basket-case areas, are without doubt among the most inexperienced, poorly qualified, dimly-illuminated, gullible and second-rate managers to be found anywhere outside London and the Garden Bridge project.

According to a Lib-Dem party newsletter, my own local authority has been scammed by a very large and well-known multinational accountancy firm; being persuaded to hand over £1.6 million to buy what was described in a TV documentary last year as a generic ‘report’ they sell to all who ask, giving what appear to be the same suggestions as to how the council can save money…. It is honestly enough to make grown men cry, how stupid and unwary these bureaucrats are when confronted with real professionals skilled at separating gullible provincials from their purses.

Working in the funded sector myself fifteen years ago, as a project manager I encountered several examples of ambitious and obviously undeliverable £multi-million projects proposed by individuals who, my bullshit detector instantly assured me, were nothing but opportunistic con-men. Yet the Development Agency was always happy to provide ‘matched funding’ so poorly overseen that invoices were not checked and public money lost.

(For locals in the know, I mention only Gelli Aur, the Dragon studio and The Pop Factory.)

All it took in those days to separate a bureaucrat from reality was the expansive promise of improbable numbers of new ‘jobs’ or ‘qualifications’ everyone knew would never be delivered, or would at best be only temporary; for, in a way, this is a tragedy of simple people driven to desperation by earnest hopefulness.

The coal and steel industries that powered the economy are dead and gone, or at their last gasp. Whole communities have been blighted, among the poorest in the land. Regeneration funding has focussed almost entirely on the capital and its grandiose dockland developments. Between the far south and far north of Wales is a vast expanse of upland wilderness dotted with hardscrabble sheep farms, hidden villages and a few small towns linked by winding, impassable lanes, rural communities reeking of decay and abandonment.

Living almost in the exact centre of that economic void, I myself was able to find no fulltime work for almost two years, ending up in a low-paid menial job with many unpaid senior management responsibilities piled on. There is, to put it bluntly, fuck-all work available (to the unconnected); fuck-all money. No growth, no inward investment – put off by distance, Ruritanian infrastructure, shoddy old housing and the limitations and extra costs of having to operate bilingually.

Young people still leave, or start-up short-lived hairdressing businesses, for which they win pitiable ‘entrepreneurship’ awards. The economy is agriculture, seasonal tourism in poor-quality facilities, care homes, charity shops, macJobs in supermarkets. We have at last got a few Mbps of Broadband, things are slowly improving, we have a new Tesco… .

Small wonder that, into this atmosphere of gloom and decay come greedy business folk with fake Rolexes, selling their snake-oil, scenting ‘regeneration funding’ with no questions asked – no paper trail, no comebacks, and an administration eager to cover up its egregious errors in case of putting off more genuine investors, who are so few and far between. Eager not to reveal its shortcomings, its petty corruption.

When the first tranche is spent, as in the case of Circuit-and-see, the principle is invariably that of throwing ‘good money after bad’, rather than sensible loss-cutting. You can always come back for more, knowing there’s no-one counting the pennies.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-39706499

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Britain now stands at number 40 in the league table of press freedom around the world.

The Street of Shame

We’re coerced from birth into believing Britain is a ‘free’ country, and once outside the evils of European domination we shall be even ‘freer’. Britons “never, never, never shall be slaves”, in the words of old Rule Britannia! (although we bought and sold a few in our time).

I imagine the vast majority of people will never know this, perhaps if they did they wouldn’t even care, but according to the annual report by the pressure-group Reporters Without Borders, Britain now stands at number 40 in the league table of press freedom around the world.

Fortieth, out of 180 countries. Britain? It’s absolutely shameful.

But dammit, we invented freedom of the press!

No, we didn’t. The C18th sedition laws made us the least free country in the world for exchanging information at the time when newspapers as we know them were first coming into being; especially when they were critical of the establishment, which could legally get you hanged. Government has always had an instinct for suppression, for secrecy.

Then camed Murdoch.

The freedoms our press gained to lie and cheat and hack people’s phones and publish dumpster-garbage about celebrities and horoscopes and randy vicars and Arctic killer-blasts and vegetable cancer-cures and vegetables that cause cancer and phoney ‘opinion’ polls and the evils of the Common Market, feral migrants, footballers, ‘our heroes’, treacherous judges, devil dogs, benefit scroungers, Madeleine McCann and Muslims – oh, yes, sexually incontinent politicians too and their fiddled expenses – were dearly bought.

Tony Blair’s Freedom of Information Act made it easier for the press and broadcasters, as well as pressure groups, to hold government to account. Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Act by contrast, passed almost without notice in January by a crapulous, disorientated and Brexit-obsessed Parliament, has created a different kind of surveillance society that puts the East German Stasi in the shade and has knocked us down ten places on a list that ought surely to reflect the civilized virtues that make our world.

Instead we are entering a new era of barbarism.

“RSF said the act was a possible “death sentence” for investigative journalism in Britain, owing to its lack of protections for whistleblowers, journalists and their sources, and that it set a damaging precedent for other countries to follow.” – The Guardian

But even that is not enough for The Law Commission, that demands draconian penalties for journalists merely handling sensitive information, with no ‘public interest’ defence, such as the Panama Papers that exposed the dodgy dealings of so many secretive offshore investors – such as the late tax-dodging father of former Prime Minister, David Cameron. The wealthy must be protected.

Top of the press-freedom list, as of so many other indicators of civilized life, is Norway. North Korea has knocked Eritrea off the bottom spot as Eritrea apparently allowed a handful of journalists into the country last year while North Korea was still executing people for listening to South Korean radio broadcasts.

Down also at No. 43 is the USA, where President Trump has labelled the press ‘enemies of the people’ and his advisor, Mr Bannon, told the Washington Post and the New York Times to ‘shut up’ and think more carefully before criticising the President; and where Mr Bannon’s foreskin, the college vampire Steven Miller, was issuing dire warnings in the media that ‘the President’s powers are not to be questioned’. The tragedy is, they aren’t being.

I expect this will cost ‘the land of the free’ a few more points in next year’s list.

For sure, we’re in good company. But as long as the BogPo stands for freedom, truth and beauty, Britain yet stands with us.

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Old Bore’s Almanacke: A Source of FACTS You Can Trust! (Unlike those propagated by Mr Pruitt.) And, O God, Make it Stop! #2… the Flynn-flam.

Food for thought

Atreus then learned of Thyestes’ and Aerope’s adultery and plotted revenge. He killed Thyestes’ sons and cooked them, save their hands and feet.

There is an excellent potted biography of the late bon viveur, socialite, gambler, author, panel-show personality, dogfood commercial star, famed miserabilist, TV chef and Liberal MP, Sir Clement Freud, available among the obituaries on The Telegraph website:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/tv-radio-obituaries/5163084/Sir-Clement-Freud.html

No mention is made in the text of any known proclivity for young girls; he seemed to lead such a full life it is hard to see where he could have found the time for molestation; although it is mentioned that, with his friend Jonathan Aitken, the MP who was gaoled for perjury in 1999 following a failed libel action he brought against Granada TV over a documentary about secret arms dealings with Saudi Arabia, Freud:

“…also used his political appeal to advance a lifelong commitment to children’s welfare. A former secretary of the Refugee Children’s Fund, he set up, with Jonathan Aitken, a Parliamentary Den of the Good Bears of the World, providing teddies to children in hospital, and was later president of the Down’s Children Association.”

In the light of the Savile affair, any involvement of an adult male in the public eye, even on a philanthropic basis, with children, especially mentioning hospitals, is now a deeply suspicious matter. Dorset police, for instance, have spent years and over a millon pounds in a thus-far fruitless attempt to link the former Prime Minister, the late Sir Edward Heath, with lurid details of Establishment orgies and even murders involving children, tales spun by a known fantasist.

But it seems a far cry from teddy bears to the accusations following his death that Freud was a predatory monster throughout his adult life.

With a profuse apology his family, sadly, seemed to confirm the story; which is surrounded by circumstantial evidence, as well as accusations from a number of women who eventually came forward, of activity dating back to the 1940s. Evidence such as that Freud ‘shared an office’ with the  grossly obese figure of Sir Cyril Smith MP, another politician who notoriously ‘got away with it’ for years (only with small boys) owing, one assumes, to the sickening deference with which the British treat anyone with a handle to their name.

The Telegraph subsequently carried a story headed:

Sir Clement Freud exposed as a paedophile as police urged to probe Madeleine McCann links

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/14/sir-clement-freud-exposed-as-a-paedophile-as-police-urged-to-pro/

I have deliberately used the usually sober Telegraph as a source for this story, as the incandescent rage and vitriol spewed out by the tabloid press over the affair makes the accusation that much less believable. Putting two and two together to make eleven, the tabloids linked the paedophilia claims directly to the long-running McCann abduction story via the curious coincidence of Freud having owned a villa in Praia da Luz, the upmarket Portuguese holiday resort where Madeleine disappeared in 2007, seemingly without trace.

Now, to kidnap a four-year-old for immediate sexual gratification does not fit Freud’s known MO. While grooming girls as young as 10, Freud’s extramarital activity, generally characterised as frenzied and brutal rapes, seems to have taken place only once his victims were past the age of consent.

Other questions remained: was Freud at the villa the night Madeleine disappeared? Apparently not, but he was there soon afterwards when he invited the parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, to lunch by the pool – out of sympathy, and served them ‘egg and watercress sandwiches’ at his ‘million pound’ villa, with its own ‘snooker table’ – you can see how the level of reporting in the tabloids, such as these telling details in The Sun, establishing Freud’s guilt beyond question, is not terribly helpful.

Now, I’m going to mention something not very nice, so if you have a properly politically correct view of the world, look away now.

There is in the history of the West, a particularly nasty myth about the Jews known as the ‘blood libel’ – a myth concocted to excuse persecution that went beyond the simple but daft notion that Jews ‘crucified Christ’, which they didn’t; although, in the unverifiable New Testament stories, they did nothing much to save him from the Romans (there is no historical evidence of any of this). Medieval Christians would have been horrified to have pointed out to them, the obvious truth that Jesus was himself a lifelong Jew.

The ‘blood libel’ however went much further. It held that Jews were wont to go around stealing Christian children, sacrificing them – and cannibalising them in Satanic rituals.

Born in Vienna into a secular Jewish family, a grandson of the father of psychology, Sigmund Freud, the analyst whom every tabloid reader knows as ‘that sex-maniac’, Clement Freud was not a practising Jew. Yet there is a disturbing echo of the ‘blood libel’ in the imputation, not very far from the surface in the tabloid press, who are borderline insane at the best of times, that ‘TV Chef’ Freud probably had Madeleine kidnapped for a special purpose, which we should perhaps not delve into here.

My interest in the story was piqued this morning by a news item that said the Home Office has licensed another £85 thousand to pay for the British police to continue their so-far fruitless investigations in Portugal. Hotels, air fares – it won’t go very far. No stone has been left unturned, uncovering a series of leads over the past seven years that have simply run into the sand. The press would be thrilled if now, after all this time, someone were to be fingered for the crime.

Yet my mouth fell open on the desktop when I discovered thereby that there is a lengthy thread of stories on the web suggesting that two people connected with the US Presidential election were staying at Freud’s villa on the night Madeleine vanished – the Podesta brothers, John and Tony.

I make no claims whatsoever for the veracity of a grimy looking website called Thetruthseeker. I merely draw your attention to a morass of stuff that’s out there, that is typified when they write:

“This may blow your mind.  (It well may have already. Ed.) Of all the conspiracies the “conspiracy theorists” have come up with in the past several years, they never even came up with anything CLOSE to the reality of what is really going on- worldwide.

“From Wikileaks, we have learned that it is very likely John Podesta (Hillary’s long time friend and currently her campaign manager) and brother, Tony Podesta, are actively very involved in a child sex ring that is literally world wide.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, and a distinguished visiting professor of law at Georgetown University, with a long record of service to the Clintons, John Podesta:

“…served as both an Assistant to the President and as Deputy Chief of Staff. Earlier, from January 1993 to 1995, he was Assistant to the President, Staff Secretary and a senior policy adviser on government information, privacy, telecommunications security (note that… Ed.) and regulatory policy. In 1998 he became President Clinton’s Chief of Staff in the second Clinton Administration and executed the position until the end of Clinton’s time in office in January 2001. – Wikipedia

Note also the mention of the dreaded Wikileaks – the web portal that is doing absolutely everything it can to have its founder, Julian Assange, ‘sprung’ from his self-imposed imprisonment in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and flown to the sanctuary of the Trump Tower; Mr Assange, and the go-between liftboy Farage, who is even now proving a ‘useful idiot’ in the perpetuation of the coup underway in the USA by Christian fundamentalists and the alt-right.

John Podesta hit the news last year during the campaign, when it emerged that it was thousands of his emails that were being investigated by the FBI, not Hillary Clinton’s – although the distinction was lost on Trump’s army of Dumbfucks. Evidence emerged that it was Podesta’s emails that might have been hacked by the Russians; possibly with the complicity of or through the agency of Wikileaks.

The alt-right websites that are now trying to place the Podesta brothers in Praia da Luz (you wouldn’t think it would be that hard to get the Portuguese immigration authorities to confirm their movements), along with connections to prominent Jews*, were also buzzing with the story, whose origin seems to have been linked to General Mike Flynn (see below) and his son Michael Jr, that Podesta and Clinton were running a paedophile ring based underneath a Pizza restaurant in Washington, Comet Ping Pong.

You have to gasp for air at this point, so here’s an extract from the Telegraph report: Trump fires Adviser’s son from transition for spreading fake news. It started with a Tweet…

“On Tuesday morning, after the post had attracted national attention and it was reported that Mr. Flynn had a transition team email address, Vice President-elect Mike Pence denied that Mr. Flynn had ever worked for the team, saying on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he had “no involvement in the transition whatsoever.”

The story was so believable, indeed, that a man walked into the restaurant armed with a rifle and fired a shot into the ceiling, explaining on arrest that he was just checking it out. Apparently, the restaurant does not have a basement; and even Mr Trump, the godfather of disruptive fake news, was forced to act to prevent further lawlessness. Both Flynn Sr and Jr are now history. The pattern of denial and retraction however is becoming familiar.

As is the continuing campaign of smears, lies, false news, false claims and false trails, the faint aroma of antisemitism, of 1930s-style fascism, emanating from the President’s office.

Was the FBI looking for evidence of Hillary’s seemingly innocuous use of a private email server, on which she may have carelessly distributed classified material as Secretary of State? Were they looking for the Kremlin’s grubby fingerprints proving extensive interference in the US election? Or were they perhaps looking for evidence of paedophilia – extending to the kidnap and murder of a small child, ten years ago in Portugal?

We should be told.

But we probably won’t be.

* For instance, there’s speculation that Tony Podesta owns a painting by Freud’s estranged brother Lucien, that contains coded images of child-abuse, as evidence of a connection with Clement. Dan Brown is alive and well…

 

Meanwhile, back in the Swamp…

“Democratic super lobbyist Tony Podesta failed to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) when he agreed to represent Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank.

“Sberbank allegedly has close ties to Russia’s intelligence services, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.” – The Daily Caller

dailycaller.com/2017/03/07/exclusive-podesta-didnt-register-as-a-foreign-agent-when-he-represented-a-bank-with-ties-to-russian-spy-agencies/#ixzz4bDuumOI3

Is there any end to this shit?

Any rightwing US website is going to make the link with the FSB, principally because every bank in Russia worth its salt must have ties to spies. In reality, no oligarchs are implicated in the very dull Sberbank, founded in 1840, which is mostly owned by Russia’s central bank and will be familiar to older Russians as the Soviet Union’s widespread State outlet for distributing wages, pensions and lottery tickets.

Podesta’s firm was allegedly paid $170,000 for undisclosed services to the FSB’s own ‘private bank’, a fact which he did declare, but only as a non-foreign agent claiming to have been acting for Sberbank’s New York office. But what was he doing working for Sberbank at all, when his brother was Clinton’s campaign manager and ought to have remained squeaky clean?

Or has this story been cooked-over to counter stories of Trump campaign involvement with the Russians? Who on earth knows anymore?

All these vastly wealthy money-laundering, sanctions-busting criminals appear either to be insensately greedy and totally immune to any legal sanction, or they are just a bunch of rich fucking idiots who can’t cover their tracks or do anything right.

Bearing in mind The Daily Caller is a rightwing website founded by neocon lobbyist Tucker Carlson, and thus no lover of the Clintons, nor an effective judge of East European banking institutions, nevertheless the concern has to be that the end-product of globalisation is international criminality without end. It has gone beyond nationalism, beyond politics.

It is being committed by a loose conspiracy of purely self-interested super-rich, from Putin and Trump on down, playing their own games, their gears greased by greedy lobbying and finance consultants, moving their vast wealth around profitably through hidden pathways with impunity, while millions go hungry and the planet is raped of its remaining resources by the likes of the Kochs and the Exxons.

And this conspiracy, the Thing has seemingly captured the castle, and is busy dismantling American global hegemony and prestige with every passing day.

You’re fucked, America.

 

Mr Big-head

For your amusement, here is a re-Post of one part of a multipart Post I Posted back in May, 2015, just after the General Election and over a year before the EU referendum. It was entitled ‘Polly-Wolly Doodle and the Pundits’, the Polly in the title being Ms Toynbee of The Guardian, who was clearly the worse for wear after staying up all night to comment on the results. This bit wasn’t about her:

 

Pollsters and pundits were telling us for months that we were in for another hung Parliament – no party with an overall majority – only this time it would be more complicated to form a governing coalition because of increasing support for minority parties: the Scottish Nationalists, UKIP and the Greens. In the event they were all wrong – as I predicted! – David Cameron’s party secured a slim majority.

Now the prevailing media wisdom is that without coalition partners, Cameron is nakedly exposed to his own Eurosceptic backbenchers and might be bounced into bringing forward a national referendum on whether or not to remain a member of the European Union.

Should that happen, it looks like the country would narrowly vote to stay in. But even that could prove to be wildly optimistic, given the Farage factor. And the prognosis then is that the dominant Nationalists in Scotland would bring forward their own referendum and the Scottish voters, who are thought overwhelmingly to want to remain in the EU, would vote to leave the Union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Patriotic English voters would then row Britannia out into the Atlantic and sink her beneath the waves they think we still rule.

It’s an interesting thesis, but it takes no account of where the EU itself might be in two years’ time, following ‘Grexit’ – Athens’ massive debt default looming a few days from now, the inevitable exit from the Euro under German pressure and expulsion from the EU that would probably follow.

Why would Scotland want to leave the United Kingdom to join a fragmenting, bickering, economically unstable Europe, in which all the old, failed centrist governments have gone and only weird and frightening Eurosceptic extremist parties are in power? (Because it’s better than being stuck with the English? Don’t answer that!)

The elephant in the room, hopefully to see that wearisome cliche for the last time, is France. What if Marine le Pen and her eminently reasonable but Eurosceptic, anti-immigrant, anti-German, Islamophobic Front Nationale party were to be occupying the Elysée Palace by then? On recent showings, it’s not out of the question.

So, I was right about Cameron and the referendum!

In the event, I was wrong about the EU fragmenting, at least in the short term. The forthcoming Brexit talks seem to have taken the minds of the 27 off the idea of splitting up while there’s money to be made; Greece is still just inside the Eurozone, clinging on by its fingernails. But they are sliding down the blackboard as I write, with a possible new default looming and the culpable German bankers still in no mood to make life easier for Greek pensioners, the sick and the 50% of Under-25s out of work.

I seem to have been more prescient, however, about Marine le Pen, who is, I think, ahead or nearly in the polls, although one poll today puts the teenage Blairite Emmanuel Macron in front – he’s not yet been nobbled by the Russians – with her main opponents, Francois Fillon’s conservatives, in disarray over corruption allegations against the former PM (Mme le Pen’s own expenses scandal appearing to have quietly subsided).

And in the wake of Brexit (which I also predicted in an earlier Post, as long ago as May 2013), despite (more probably because of) Theresa May’s uncomprehending and patronising cross-border interventions on the subject of a national unity she is otherwise doing her damnedest to destroy, with her creaky protestations of ‘one-nation’ Tory policies to help the ‘Just About Managing’ class (bleuch! It’s like nursery school!); policies that always seem to round-out as gouging the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed – the self-employed (many of whom had no other choice) – and the sick to pay for Mrs May’s investment manager husband Phil’s and all the other investment managers’ wealthy corporate clients to get even richer,  Nicola Sturgeon has been militant in pushing the idea of another Scottish referendum, probably next year (Autumn 2018), that she seems doomed to lose.

You read it here first: no breakup, no MacRe-Entry. But you never know.

“Looking forward to a good day at BlackRock, only the faintest of patrician sneers troubling his Old St Paulian face, the Chancellor, Mr Osborne, slides slowly sideways while pretending to listen intently to a lighthearted intervention by his friend, Mr Cameron…” – Hansard*

*not.

Meanwhile, after a fiercely contested third round of candidate interviews, no doubt, the shortlisted former Chancellor, Gideon ‘George’ Osborne has gratefully accepted an offer of £650 thousand a year to spend one day a week lunching agreeably in an ‘advisory’ role to the world’s largest investment fund management company, BlackRock. (The actual hours aren’t specified. My bet: 10 – 4?)

So he never needs to work again?

Actually, he’s cheap at the price.

At £78k a week, as it would extrapolate on a six-days’ basis, with a raised self-employed NI contribution of 10%, ‘George’ is still a long way behind Manchester United’s prolific striker, the Bosnian-Croatian-Swede, Zoltan Ibrahimovic (£200k a week. We share a birthday, I see). Or even more, the £300k a week which the ageing midfield supremo, Wayne Rooney has been used to receiving, re-bound now for Everton.

Or indeed, Adele, whom George more closely resembles (£25k a day, every day. Oh, the monotony!). Or ginger-nerd, Ed Sheeran ($57 million in 2015 – Forbes)…. Or many CEOs of Footsie-100 companies, rewarded in the £millions. Advertising financial guru, Sir Martin Sorrell’s latest controversial pay award reportedly takes his salary to approximately one million pounds – a week.

Why, that’s more than half the £90 million a year the bloke who makes Cillit Bang’s gardener helps him take home in his gold-plated wheelbarrow!

Back on Earth, there’s Ross McEwan, the immigrant Kiwi backpacker in charge of turning-round Britain’s second-worst bank, RBS. With a salary of £3.8 million a year, Mr McEwan has trousered a £1.2 million ‘bonus’ for presiding over another embarrassing annual loss, this time of £7 billion. In fact the bank has not been in profit since we, the British taxpayer, bailed it (and its then-parent Lloyds) out with a helpful £464.57 billion in cash and guarantees; since when (mostly while Mr Osborne was in charge of the economy) it has lost another head-spinning £58 billion (Guardian Datablog).

(“McEwan … completed a degree in business studies and human resources, despite having failed an accountancy module twice.” – Wikipedia entry. No, any number of wild horses would not induce me to comment.)

My own modest emolument has recently been re-presented to me by the Department of Pork and Beans in the light of the annual inflation figure and the triple-lock formula, whatevs, as £198.20 a week. Taken with some few small sources of further income, including a regular twice-yearly part-time seasonal job for five weeks on a zero-hours contract, it seems to be a not wholly inadequate basis on which to live, given that I still own 2/3rds of my little house.

It’s about what Ed Sheeran makes every 90 seconds, anyway. No wonder he looks as though someone has just clobbered him over the back of the head with a cricket bat.

Frankly I can’t see why anyone would need more – although I’m informed by radio this morning that the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, regards £40 thousand a year as ‘low-to-middle income’. I could go a very long way on it.

But I’m delighted to learn while doing the extensive research for this fact-based article, that Mr McDonnell, he of the timeworn, faded-newsprint appearance and reedy old voice, is two years younger than me! And I’m probably still a better copywriter than Martin Sorrell ever was or will be. I’m just no bloody good with money.)

Way to go, George. You’re not even taking the piss, mate, are you?

 

A man with a wallet for a brain

Scott Pruitt, the Butcher of Oklahoma penitentiary, has struck again.

Carbon dioxide, he has told a press conference, is probably not responsible for global warming. Most scientists, he says, still disagree on the matter. More analysis, he says (he does not have a science background, he has a bad law degree from an obscure college, and we know that the homophones Lawyer and Liar are so easily muddled-up)  is needed.

Yes, more analysis of Mr Pruitt’s motive for spouting this pernicious drivel is needed from the criminal justice system, as it needs urgently to be determined from whom and for why, if indeed he has, he has an incentive thus to lie to the American people; who surely have a right to know the truth about how and why they and we are threatening the future of life on the planet and what they and we might do about it.

What is more depressing than the fact that he has said all this, is that he hasn’t realised the game is up. It’s over, and the deniers have lost. There is 100% agreement among atmospheric physicists, meteorologists and climatologists, that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps solar energy in the atmosphere, cumulatively for decades. And that we’re pumping out too much.

It has been known about for over a century.

Even the fucking oil industry has been saying for years, we’re burning fossil fuels at our peril.

And the relentless ‘hockey-stick’ upward curve in CO2 concentration from 280 parts per million in c. 1770 to what some scientists think may be 450 ppm today has raised global temperature on average by 1.7 deg C since the end of the C19th, with an ever-faster increase from feedbacks such as methane release – now at danger level in the Arctic – forecast to generate more powerful storms, droughts, floods and wildfires – just as we are already seeing.

There is no mystery, except to those who don’t want to believe it: scientific illiterates, conspiracy theorists, internet trolls and just, frankly, wankers like the cretin Pruitt; those cynical committers of an ecocidal crime against humanity whose mouths are stuffed with cash by lobbyists working for powerful C20th corporations that make fortunes for their shareholders out of burning fossil fuels and cannot change.

Mr Pruitt is therefore in my view a dangerous pragmatist, as well as likely a paid liar, who has now found a branch to swing from in the topmost echelons of government.

A poor combination adverting to the absolute moral bankruptcy of this gutter Presidency.

It is well and widely known – I had intended not to write about US politics in this section of muh bogl, but I have been driven to it, sorry – that Mr Pruitt was only appointed to the role of Director of the Environmental Protection Agency because he was the most stupid, scientifically illiterate and potentially corruptible candidate available for the job. He has previously sued the Agency, the department he now heads (without benefit of deputies or departmental directors, they have yet to be and may never be appointed) fourteen times for annoying his friends in the energy bidness by criticizing the practice of fracking for natural gas.

(Postscriptum: He is on record as being committed to destroying the Agency, his own department. Not only that, but his connections with energy lobbyists are revealed in a series of nine thousand emails generated while in his office as Attorney General of Arkansas, between himself and a number of large energy companies, including Koch and Devon Energy. Emails which finally emerged only after numerous freedom of Information requests, three days after his rushed approval by Congress.)

A bill has already been launched by Republicans in Congress to dissolve the EPA; along with other agencies offering consumer, wilderness and endangered wildlife protections. This White House being a criminal conspiracy of cut-throat capitalists and apocalyptic revivalists led by a senescent, inept, tantrum-throwing moral imbecile, anything may happen and probably will.

It’s a pattern Mr Trump has repeated across a wide range of government agencies his funders don’t see the point of. They get in the way of doing lucrative bidness, so he is setting them up to fail.

Most alarming of all, Mr Tillerson, the powerful ex-Exxon boss and Russophile pal of Putin’s whom Trump put in at the State Department, still has no deputy, no departmental directors and few remaining staff. The most important office of state, America’s face to the world, has been gutted, its senior diplomats and staffers sacked.

Its leadership has been filled by a handsome old expensive suit who has no office; no face; no mission, other than to enrich the President and his cronies with filthy oil deals across the most economically devastated parts of the world. Countries where millions are facing environmental disaster, plagues and starvation while the wealth-laden nations of the West pull up the drawbridge against them.

(Yes, Mr Trump has proposed to slash the aid budget, cut funding to the UN and impose a potentially indefinite moratorium on refugees.)

And this, we learned from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow today, is likely being done on the orders of President Vladimir Putin. (No time to explain. In short: he owns the President. He directs the policy. That will have to do.)

Traitors and compromised bankrupts have taken over the White House. Who will stop them?

The administration under the philosophical guidance of the dissolute, nihilistic Christian-right sociopath, Bannon, sees its remit as the destruction of whole swaths of regulatory bodies that provide the overall governance of the United States; a kind of Year Zero policy, like the one Pol Pot implemented in Cambodia. He has said it: it’s not my invention. He has told American Conservatives, his aim is to bring down the entire apparatus of the State.

Why is he not in jail facing sedition charges? Why is the grotesque Trump not in jail, awaiting trial under the Patriot Act, the Logan Act, the Emoluments Clause, the racketeering laws? Is no-one capable of standing up and taking appropriate actions against these deceptive men?

So I was thrilled to learn today that 1.5 million acres of territory across four states, including Oklahoma, have been reduced to ashes by brushfires in the past 48 hours. I would that the whole of the fucking United States would burn down around the ears of this sick jerk Pruitt, one of the biggest, most self-interested fucking liars on earth.

And there will be consequences arising from these outré statements of his. Mr Pruitt knows full well, because it is White House policy to continue to build an army of Trump’s core supporters, ‘The Movement’, that he can tap into the limited knowledge-base of Dumbfucks and internet trolls, trailer dwellers without education or discrimination, middle-class Tea Party disappointees, veterans as unlike Mr Trump as it is possible to be (who haven’t noticed he despises them), racists, millions of self-identifying economically dispossessed voters, conspiracy theorists and crazed survivalists; plus a handful no doubt of the usual suspects, opportunistic thugs happy to create any mayhem, to persecute any ethnic or religious minority, who don’t care that he’s lying as long as he tells them the lies they want to hear; the lies that license their envy and malice without sanction.

Rounding that out, is the promotion of the dimly illuminated Betsy DeVos, wife of the Amway pyramid-selling multibillionaire ‘Dick’, contributor of $22 million to Party and campaign funds, to a role where she can collapse the education system, to promote well-armed Christian schools – madrassas teaching future generations of little American Nazis Creationism and Bible fucking Truther studies and God-knows what unadulterated mystical cobblers, ignorance and fear and loyalty to The Plan. Plus, the value of becoming an Amway downline.

Like, carbon dioxide doesn’t cause warming. Like scientists still can’t agree. Like, more research is needed – except that Trump has already banned with an illiterate flourish, the doomed environment agencies and Government scientists and NASA from publishing research he’s being told by Bannon and Miller, the snow-capped fundamentalist Pence, he doesn’t agree with.

You’re fucked, America.

And so are we.

x

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suqLgsZdR7E

“Newly Released Emails Reveal Pruitt’s Connections with Koch Brothers” –The Real News Network

In case you don’t know the Koch Brothers, the Koch family owns vast slabs of the US energy industry and is responsible for much of the pollution of all three ‘sinks’ – earth, air and water; having extensive holdings in, for instance, the filthy business of tar-sands extraction, opencast coal mining, pipelines and fracking. According to Rolling Stone magazine:

Brothers Charles and David (Koch) are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled. The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they’ve cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House. Their political network helped finance the Tea Party and powers today’s GOP.”

“According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute, only three companies rank among the top 30 polluters of America’s air, water and climate: ExxonMobil, American Electric Power and Koch Industries… Across its businesses, Koch generates 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year.” – Rolling Stone

Interestingly, the filthy rich Kochs reportedly don’t approve of Trump, he’s not fully on-board with the program. But he’s being so good to them! Maybe appointing their boy Pruitt to the EPA and signing off orders removing environmental protections is an attempt to make nice with them? To buy their love? But surely not.

That would be corruption.

(A quick check with TheAtlanticist reveals the interesting fact that none of the Top 10 most spectacularly wealthy party donors backed Trump. Hopefuls they did back, whose names are rapidly fading into history include well-funded candidates Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul… so they all lost their shirts. So sad!)

 

Oh God, please make it stop! #2

Lt Gen Michael T Flynn, showing he has normal hands.

To look at, General Mike Flynn is an imposing figure of a man. The sort of leader you’d follow into combat, trusting him to extract you and your unit safely from the hottest firefight.

A craggy, hawkish profile marked by a strong chin and powerful, axe-blade nose; under beetling brows a permanently serious, not to say intimidating expression; his upright military bearing indicative of total authority, strength, command, confidence – total probity.

Not the sort of swamp-dwelling Washington lobbyist of imagination, who would blandly deny, secretly and while not yet in office having negotiated the lifting of sanctions on his country’s oldest enemy, imposed because of their illicit military incursions into a friendly country – an apparent breach of the Logan Acts; nor the kind of sleazy back-alley operator, who would happily trouser half a million dollars to do a bit of PR for a tyrannical Muslim dictator.

But there you are.

Needs must when the Devil drives, as they say. A retired general’s pension ain’t so great. And Mr Trump appears to surround himself with similar types who’ve all done Faustian bargains to obtain temporal power and riches. Flynn’s reward for loyal service to the Trump machine was to be made National Security Advisor, despite his stated allegiance to the Democratic party. And Russia, obviously.

It didn’t go well.

Having been cut loose only days later by the Trump Inc. false facts factory, presumably to keep his activities at arm’s length from the capo di capi, the Big Orange, Mr Flynn found himself in the embarrassing position of having to admit to the media at least four meetings with Russian diplomats, for which obviously read intelligence agents, while not precisely remembering the subjects of the conversations. Amnesia that might have proved costly on the battlefield. Oh, we’re attacking the tanks, right.

I imagine at that point he must have found his life unspooling, and frankly I was tempted to feel a bit sorry for him as he was clearly an honourable man ‘only following orders’ from the gilded buffoon who would shortly become his Commander-in-Chief, although he would not have known it then, and acted in conscience to protect him, only to be thrown to the wolves.

Now I’m not so sure. For, first thing this morning (not as impressive as it sounds, I’m a late riser) we were greeted by the following headline:

“Trump unaware that Michael Flynn was a ‘foreign agent’, Sean Spicer says

“Former national security adviser retroactively disclosed that he lobbied for firm linked to Turkish government while working as Trump’s campaign adviser” – The Guardian

“….Donald Trump was unaware his former national security adviser was working as a “foreign agent” when he gave him the job, according to his press secretary…. “I don’t believe that was known,” said Sean Spicer, when asked by reporters at his regular press briefing on Thursday.”

You mean there are other things that were known?

A typical Melissa Spicer fudge. That little bitch always seems to be flying-by-wire. But was this revelation a means of silencing Flynn?

What Flynn, working through a Dutch PR consultancy, was paid $530,000 to do, it seems, was to lobby the President to send back to Ankara for a spot of enhanced questioning, a ‘radical’ cleric, Dr Fetullah Gulen, who has been living in exile for many years in the USA, which has thus far refused to allow Turkey to extradite him.

Dr Gulen is a former friend and colleague of the increasingly paranoid President Recep Tayyat Erdogan. Rather as first Hillary Clinton, and now President Obama (they keep the title), have become the catch-all hate figures for the increasingly paranoid President Trump and his barely sentient followers, so Dr Gulen is the Emmanuel Goldstein, as it were (to draw an Orwellian analogy), the national hate figure of Big Brother Erdogan, his goons and paid agitators and millions of assorted rustics who keep voting for him (but never seem to get any better off. Funny, that.)

Dr Gulen is responsible for all the ills Turkey has been suffering since the financial crash, that have nothing to do with Erdogan’s competence as he accrues powers to the Presidency that are coming close to one-man rule; and indeed masterminded the badly managed coup many conspiracy theorists seem still to think Mr Erdogan organised against himself in order to have a good clearout of more than 100,000 military and State employees – teachers, librarians and so on – ‘Gulenists’ he believes were plotting against him, many of them now languishing in jail.

I couldn’t possibly comment.

Meanwhile Mr Erdogan continues to pursue military operations as two sides of a curious triangle: against the ISIS on one side, his domestic Kurdish PKK separatists on another; while on the baseline, supported by the Americans, in Syria the PKK is fighting the ISIS.

Thus Mr Flynn was probably inadvertently supporting the enemy of another US ally. But it’s complicated. No, really.

And with over 2,000 civilian dead, mainly Kurds, and tens of thousands more displaced by fighting, the Turkish Army in the south is being accused by the UN of serious human rights violations. But as I say, it’s complicated. No, really.

And, guided by Mr Putin, in Ankara the nutjob is railing against the European Union and NATO to try to stoke up nationalist fervour ahead of next week’s Presidential referendum increasing his powers to those of Allah the almighty himself. But Mr Flynn is happy for a few dollars to assist the enemies of NATO, albeit that they are themselves valued members.

We pray fervently, do we not, for contact with aliens from more sophisticated civilizations, only in the hope that someone is powerful enough to rid the world of these scumbags. But no-one comes.

Many years ago, I worked with a journalist whose dinner-party story was that he had at one time been PR advisor to Idi Amin, the Butcher of Uganda: a murderer, embezzler and a suspected cannibal. Like the Catholic church, a good PR man doesn’t take sides, you see, he just hears the confessions and takes the money. Poor Julian was put away eventually, after setting fire to his own house with his attractive French wife and kid inside.

General Flynn’s future seems less clear at present. It’s a ‘watch this space’ situation until what is believed is not known can be believed to be known, as it were.

 

Bang to rights

I’ve Posted before about discrepancies in police prosecutions and court sentencing of felons whose actions result in the deaths of police, and those who kill civilians, in the course of police pursuits.

My particular focus was on the case of 19-year-old Clayton Williams, given a 20-year sentence for manslaughter after (he says, accidentally) striking and killing PC David Philips, a foot-patrol officer who was ordered to stop Williams’ stolen Mitsubishi pickup truck two hours after a minor break-in was reported, with other officers in hot pursuit.

A more normal sentence for manslaughter in a motoring case involving the deaths of civilians where the police are not involved might be from two to six years.

There were elements of the case I found disturbing, especially the way the police identified Williams and published a highly pejorative social media photo and held an emotive press conference after he had already been charged – with murder, initially – but before trial, potentially prejudicing a jury.

I contrasted it with a more recent case, that of 24-year-old Joshua Dobby, who struck a group of pedestrians in south London, killing a ten-year-old boy and his aunt, while being pursued by police. In that instance there was no hyped-up emotional rhetoric or talk of ‘murder’. The original charge was one of causing death by dangerous driving.

His case has just concluded.

We learned that Dobby, the estranged son of a wealthy businessman, had been high on crack cocaine and heroin at the time, and had no driver’s licence or insurance. He was already out on licence from an 18-week prison sentence for handling stolen goods.

“The defendant had 53 previous convictions dating back to the age of 13, including a conviction for aggravated vehicle taking, having crashed a car into railings with police in pursuit, aged 16.” – BBC News

And it was the second time he had been pursued by police that same day.

You would imagine then that such an egregious offender would have been subject to the full force of the law; but the maximum penalty for his offence is only 12 years; whereas it appears that a charge of murdering a policeman, reduced to one of manslaughter, has no limit on the sentence.

Twelve years is a hefty sentence, and more than deserved in this case. Dobby is a mess, a deeply damaged personality who needs correction. He won’t get it – our prison system is in meltdown: understaffed, underfunded, programmes abandoned; riddled with drugs and violence, prisoners are reported to be locking themselves in their cells for protection. People have been calling for his sentence to be increased, but by the usual standards of manslaughter sentences it is already at the top of the scale.

Williams too is by all accounts a miserable social specimen, who had also been taking drugs. When the victim was a policeman, however, doing a job everyone, including the police, accept can be dangerous – although on average annual police operational casualties throughout the history of the 150,000-strong force have thankfully rarely exceed two or three in a year it’s less dangerous than working on a building site) – with a defendant five years younger than Dobby, and with a lesser string of convictions, 20 years seems excessive.

In both cases, police were engaged in a high-speed chase through a built-up area, pursuing minor criminals for what were initially minor offences. Don’t they bear any responsibility for the consequences? For all those wrecked lives?

 

Dogwhistle politics: It has to stop now. But Oh, God – what is going on?

“More than a quarter of EU citizens are having their applications for permanent residency in the UK rejected since the UK voted to leave the EU, according to new analysis of the government’s migration data.” – Guardian Today, 28 Feb. (Meanwhile the number of EU citizen doctors planning to quit the NHS, of which they comprise 40%, is now 60%)

In order to apply for residency, EU citizens domiciled in Britain are forced to complete an 85-page form, complete with supporting evidence. Any error in the data results in an automatic letter requiring the citizen to return to their country of origin, despite the fact that EU citizens have the right to reside and work in any EU country. Many are in essential work.

One woman interviewed, a French citizen, had submitted her physical passport in evidence, only to have her application form rejected on another technicality. Her passport was returned as an officially certified copy had been taken. When she re-applied using the certified copy of her passport, she received a deportation notice as she had failed to submit her physical passport a second time. She has lived here for 20 years and has a British husband and British-born children. She speaks fluent English.

Twenty-eight per cent of forms are automatically rejected. I repeat, Britain has not yet left the EU. We are still subject to EU conditions. Free movement of people is one of the fundamental principles of EU membership.

Extreme euro-fascists are untroubled, even in denial. It’s not true people are being told to leave; are being targeted, victimised by Immigration officials. Of course EU citizens are free to remain. For now. Confronted with the thought that European countries might retaliate against Britain’s two million expatriates, most of them pensioners, the Tory euro-fascist baboons reply: no they won’t, as soon as they see we’re deporting their nationals the European surrender-monkeys will back off. We’re great, we’re Britain.

These people are efectively being held hostage by the unelected Prime Minister, who is directing the movements of her appointed triumvirate of castrated Brexit-donkeys, Wilson, Kepple and Doris. Happily, the House of Lords has demanded an amendment to the Article 50 bill guaranteeing the security of EU nationals. But it’s expected that the robotic Mrs May will try to get it overturned. She needs those hostages.

The problem with being a liberal snowflake is simply that we are basically cowards. If we had any guts we would arm ourselves and declare war on the fascists and destroy them like ants before it’s too late. But that goes against our principles. We believe in civil society; agreeable accommodations; amity between peoples.

It doesn’t go against theirs. Because they don’t have principles; only brutish instincts.

Which obliges us once again to wait until dehumanised minorities are clawing at the walls of gas chambers and tanks are rolling across the Centre Court at Wimbledon before we can feel free to fight back.

I can’t find an emoji for resigned despair.

***

“Should he return, I fully expect Sir Mo will be placed in detention and then posted back to wherever the thuggish goons of Theresa’s immigration service decide he would be best left to rot.” – Ed.

It has to stop now

Many Posts ago I wrote a piece called Stirring the Jam Back Out of the Pudding.

It was in fact a review of a play, Arcadia, by Sir Tom Stoppard, a Czech refugee immigrant, in which I had taken a modest role. The plot, such as it is (it’s quite intellectual), linked the neoclassical revivalist world of aristocratic C19th Britain with the shallow fopperies of modern academia.

My thought was that once the currents of history had become intertwined, there was no way back. You could not, literally, stir the jam out of a semolina pudding once you had mixed it all in – although I recall Stephen Fry or someone doing something amazing with physics on TV, doing exactly that with water and some chemical dye he separated out, I forget how.

Allow me to explain what it is now, that has to stop.

Here’s a brief history of the world:

For millennia, humans have been migrating around the globe. Eleven – perhaps it was 16 – thousand years ago, Siberian tribespeople crossed the Bering Straight along the Aleutian islands from northeast Asia into what is now Alaska and spread southwards over the American plains into Mexico and across the Isthmus of Panama into South America. Many stopped on the way and founded pre-Columbian civilizations.

Humans had emerged, more than once, from the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia and driven by climate change spread northwards and eastwards to follow the hunting. Some were driven back by the advancing Arctic ice sheet, but thousands of years later returned to the northern lands as the ice retreated.

Those who moved eastwards into Anatolia and Sumeria began the seven thousand years of transhumance, of settled agriculture and technological development that have brought us to the modern era and the verge of extinction. Others founded the classical Mediterranean cultures.

Possibly in a separate evolution, a third eruption, forty thousand years ago humans left southeastern China and moved into Micronesia and on to Australia, where they were marginalised thousands of years later by brutal and arrogant white European settlers. Something similar happened in the Americas. Millions perished; cultures came close to vanishing.

Around the world the seas rose and fell, exposing and then isolating the land; the sun baked people brown, red, black; freezing winters turned people white.

But the intermingling continued at the margins.

Settled communities growing grain that could be stored for the winter had time on their hands; they began making stuff – pots, weapons, tools, jewellery, clothing, icons. At Dolní Věstonice in old Czechoslovakia are the early remains of a factory churning out ceramic ‘Venus’ figurines, as we call them: fetish objects, currency, souvenirs – we have no idea – thirty thousand years BCE.

The makers and their middlemen began trading in the surpluses. Trade depended on the endlesss, restless movement of peoples and goods across continents. Running for thousands of miles through mountains, across plains and along great rivers, trade routes opened up vast areas of the globe, chaining cities and their markets together.

Ports sprang up, customs flourished. Merchants settled and sold goods in one another’s capitals; sailors criss-crossed the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, the Baltic. Phoenicians from Carthage – black men – traded with tin miners in Cornwall; London traded furs for African diamonds with Volgograd. Empires arose, and as they expanded, kept stirring the human pudding.

Craftsmen were imported from everywhere to construct and decorate the grandiose buildings of military and religi0us empires for the glory of the rulers. Warfare and rapine spread genetic variation; conquered lands settled, moved and removed and scrambled-up entire populations.

And people intermarried.

After the first great era of modern mercantilism got under way, resource wars broke out – tentatively in the 9th and 10th centuries AD and into the early Medieval, then more fully in the C17th as people rushed hither and yon, desperately trying to grab a slice of the profit for themselves.

Millions of Europeans – some greedy, most just hungry – took ship for the New Worlds, seeking a better life for themselves, usually at the expense of the settled peoples who simply disappear from view, murdered, marginalised and miscegenated.

The transatlantic trade in slaves grew – the human power-plant of the early industrial and agrarian revolutions, inconsiderable by-products of commodity brokers – mixing Africans with Berbers with Europeans with native Caribs and Indians and Portuguese traders and London haut-bourgeoisie and Virginia plantation bosses – God-knows who, you can’t stop people from having sex.

While ethnic ‘purity’ persisted in pockets, indeed to this day the Welsh of mountainous North Wales are reported to be 85 per cent ethnically ‘pure’ Brythonic survivors of the Romans and the Normans and the detested English. Otherwise, miscegenation was the general rule over the entire world.

But some crazed ruler, some self-important baboon along the way had invented the idea of the ‘nation state’.

And thus it was on 25th February, 2017, that a grandmother, Irene Clennel, married to a British man and domiciled in Scotland for 27 years, a woman with a British native husband, two British children and a British grandchild, having been abducted on her return to the country by the State and held in a detention centre, was forcibly put on a plane to Singapore – her country of origin – because in the flint-cold eyes of some brain-dead bureaucratic cypher, an unperson I would be happy to pull a lever and watch twitching, a dope on a rope, the few years she had spent caring for her dying father in Singapore along the way disqualified her from having any right of residence in the UK; and her sick husband does not nowadays earn enough money to qualify to be allowed to keep her without imaginary State support.

(The Trades Union Congress has calculated that real wages in Britain have fallen by one per cent since the well-padded bankers got away almost literally with murder in 2008.)

The injustice and hypocrisy, the sheer malignant brutality of this indefensible, unChristian action in targeting this innocent woman for deportation and the heedless damage to her family it has caused defies belief. It is beyond words. It sears the soul.

It is, if such a thing can be isolated and focussed on the fate of one individual, a crime against humanity.

Last year we celebrated the life and mourned the passing of one David Jones, also known as Bowie. London-born, this globally famous ‘British’ rock star had lived for much of his life in Berlin and New York. Nobody kidnapped and imprisoned and deported Bowie or his family for the crime of living in the wrong country.

Wealthy Russians – Lebedev, the self-promoting millionaire owner of the London Evening Standard; Goncharenko, billionaire owner of £multi-million Mayfair properties left empty; Fridman, the ‘second richest man in Russia’, owner of £130 million Athlone House; Usmanov, who reportedly paid $77 million for Beechwood House in Highgate, north London and is busily building a Roman emperor-style pool complex underneath the tasteless Victorian excrescence; such men, their trophy wives, their well-armed goon squads and gardeners have no problem with their British residency status.

Up in Oregon, in a gated compound, lives with his British wife and children  ‘Sir’ Mohammed Farah, world-famous distance runner, winner of many races, holder of many records and titles. This extraordinary athlete lives in America But he comes from war-ravaged Somalia. A black African Muslim, he celebrates his successes in the colours of Great Britain, he is honoured as a knight of the Queen’s realm. But he doesn’t live here in Britain.

Should he return, I fully expect that Sir Mo will be placed in detention and then posted back to wherever the thuggish goons of the British immigration service decide he would be best left to rot.

Anywhere but here.

And as the Trump deportations grind into gear, the ethnic cleansing of swathes of America, the hollowing-out of its labour force, the ‘military operation’, the ruthless removals by the gum-chewing moronic Border Force thugs to God knows where of eleven million people to make America ‘great again’, cowering behind its protective wall, white again (how long has it been white, Trump, you disgusting and pretentious old orange slug?), English-speaking, we hear of more and more of these cases of lunatic official intransigence at our supposedly civilized gateways.

We hear of academics on their way to conferences with no intention of remaining, and writers and much-needed technology industry workers turned back, their Green cards useless; even the former Prime Minister of Sweden, for having an Iranian stamp in his well-travelled passport; detained at the airport, grilled for two hours.

We hear of US citizens with darker complexions detained and questioned for hours for reasons of blind and untutored prejudice on the part of dumbfuck airport jobsworths; even small children, regarded as ‘terrorists’; of racial and cultural hate crimes increasingly perpetrated under licence from cynical and expedient ‘populist’ politicians, proxies and bum-boys for diseased billionaires hastening to suck-out the remaining wealth of the world in the last days of humanity, before the game ends.

While here in tolerant, liberal Britain, home of Democracy, Empire, Commonwealth and manifest hypocrisy, we learn today that within a month, workers from Europe, 26 miles across the English Channel, will no longer be allowed automatically to settle and work; although employers are already complaining of labour shortages and major infrastructure projects are in abeyance. While those already living here with jobs and families are offered no security as Mrs May instructs her three wise monkeys to use them as a negotiating tool against the 27.

A strange shift in human evolutionary history seems to have begun.

Try as one might, it is hard to imagine: but the great vomiting disease of nationalism is separating everyone back into their original forms, forcing us to return to our points and conditions of origin, to fester behind miles of razor-wire.

We hear the newly empowered nobodies saying: well, according to our identification chart you’re this colour, you have these genes, you have this accent, these clothes, these visa stamps in your passport; you prefer these foods, you follow this unacceptable minor variation in our perceptions of the imaginary Creator; you have these genetic predispositions to particular diseases and disorders, your hair and eyes are this colour, your nose we measure such a length, your penis has this bit on the end or not, we determine that your ancestors came from such-and-such a place, you’ve stolen my job, so back you go.

A vast and, frankly, futile quest to ‘stir the jam back out of the pudding’ is underway which, if taken to its logical but frankly risible conclusion, would see a complete reset of a hundred thousand years of human migration and miscegenation when, in truth, our origins are so obscure, complex and convoluted as to defy racial and topographical analysis.

It’s bonkers – but on an individual level, heartlessly destructive: pointless, economically self-defeating, mad and cruel.

It has to stop now.

Dogwhistle politics

From: Political editor Laura Facebook ©2017, @Laurasweeplace

Remember the name Roderick Chunn, of  The Elliott School, Putney (a wealthy borough in SW London).

(Although you might care to note that it has not been The Elliott School – founded 1904 – since 2012, when it became known as The Ark Academy, under a Government scheme to rob public education of finance to pay US multinational corporations to run failing schools in the UK.)

For, there’s a petition trending on Change.org, that is approaching a quarter of a million signatures.

Clearly, a very serious issue of public concern. About education funding, possibly?

Actually, it’s about a pensioner, 87-year-old ‘Bob’, who rents a room in a care home in Carlisle, Cumbria, 316 miles from London, run by an outfit called Mead Medical.

Bob has a dog, a Schnauzer called, perhaps not politically correctly, Darkie, who has been his companion since his wife died from cancer two years ago. Bob has been in the home, Burnfoot Hall, for four years. The original lease from the local council gave him permission to have the dog, which is apparently well behaved and popular with the other residents, but the council has since privatised the operation, as I understand it, and the new landlords have given Bob an ultimatum: either the mutt goes, or you do.

Contrary to all other opinion I have seen on the petition, Mead Medical (‘Person-centred care’)  have argued that Darkie is ‘a nuisance’. Now, I have a dog, Hunzi, and I could lay my hands on at least thirty witnesses before lunch who would tell you straight, Hunzi is no nuisance. In fact, their observation would be that he is astonishingly well behaved; quiet, patient and gentle. And here he is, snoozing at my feet.

But I live in constant fear of someone maliciously pointing a finger, or reporting him for some imaginary crime, in a situation where their own uncontrolled dog has committed, and not for the first time, some unexpected savagery for which Hunzi will be blamed.

It has almost happened once, when an elderly party I recognise from casual encounters on walks was bitten by another dog, whose owner subsequently lied to the police that he did not own a dog, so it must have been my dog, ‘ the man over the road’, Hunzi being of a similar appearance and breed. Only the victim had already told the police that he knew my dog and it was not him, and the police let the matter drop. At least, I was never interviewed.

And poor Hunzi, so innocent and guileless is he that he is constantly being snarled at or actually attacked on our walks by the kind of vicious dogs the cretins off the council estate like to parade in public to show how tiny their genitals must be. (Or nice, retired middle-class folk with demented spaniels…)

So I understand the power of an accusation: many people – especially our wonderful police – being all too ready at the drop of a hat to jump to conclusions and point the finger of blame wildly in all the wrong directions; there being never any ‘smoke without fire’ in a mainly working-class community where incomers are regarded with suspicion.

On 1st February ‘Bob’ received a formal notice to quit, for failing to comply with the new regulation. He is to be evicted in April. So far, Mead Medical has refused to show the slightest concern that a baying mob of two hundred and forty-four thousand petitioners would cheerfully march on Carlisle, burn down their offices and string up their company officers on piano wire from lampposts in the street.

Like Donald Trump, Katie Hopkins or Nigel Farage, the company’s directors appear to be impervious to, even to thrive on, popular hatred.

Below the details of the petition is a Comment thread. It starts out, as you would expect, with half a dozen messages of support and sympathy for ‘Bob’. Most people in Britain, I suspect, other than out-and-out Nazi scumbag trolls hoping to foment bloodshed, chaos and oppression are righteously angered by such displays of high-handed officialdom and random instances of injustice.

Not so, young Master Chunn.

The snotnosed cretin pretending to come from a no-longer extant school in a really posh riverside suburb of wealthy London town, Chunn has contributed a brief message consisting of just seven terrible words:

“They wouldn’t do it to an immigrant.”

And from that point on, virtually the entire Comment thread erupts into a furious tirade from ghastly old hags and trolls, obese football hooligans bound to their piss-stained, bargain-basement sofas, poisonous amoebas who can barely spell their own names, howling down anyone reasonably disposed to pointing out that the matter has nothing whatever to do with immigrants.

Master Chunn’s message has received as of the last time of looking, 112 Likes.

Where has this visceral, kneejerk hatred of ‘foreigners’ grown from? What is going on, when so many people are happy to wallow in the abusive meme that ‘foreigners’ somehow get a better deal in life than they do; and why should that be a cause of such loathing?

It’s being promoted, exploited and revelled in by politicians who see votes in it; and their shadowy corporate backers.

The loutish British are notorious for their admiration of ignorance and prejudice, disparaging but secretly envying anyone marginally worse off – or marginally better off than – or in any respect different from themselves. Everything that goes wrong in their petty lives has got to be someone else’s fault, everyone else is somehow getting a better deal, more favourable treatment – is ‘on the take’ or ‘only out for themselves’ – as if wallowing in one’s own ignorance and prejudice is not itself evidence of the selfish behaviour of the human piggery.

It is so easy to push their buttons.

I wish it were only the insular British underclass, with their eternal inferiority complex and pathetic clinging to myths of cultural superiority, victory and Empire. But just over the water, in Holland, where the ‘genetically pure’ British mostly originated, we have the vainglorious, bouffant-haired pretty-boy, Wilders, poised to achieve victory come election-time on a platform of exploiting the fear, prejudice and bile against darker-skinned Others of the deeply devout and conservative, red-faced Boers.

Fortunately, his neighbouring presidential candidate, Mme le Pen, who seems to share many of his super-nationalist views, or is at least equally willing to exploit the dark undercurrents of chauvinism and prejudice in the bourgeois French soul – the French, whose ancestors originated in both northern Europe, Roman Italy and moorish Spain – has just become embroiled in an expenses scandal that threatens to setback her own campaign for a racially and culturally ‘pure’ France, free from both the evils of Greater Europe and the Muslim plague.

If genuinely a pupil, which must be in doubt, young Master Chunn needs to be brought to the attention of his school, who should call in the Prevent programme de-radicalisation specialists before his stupid and childish racialism, his dimly educated irresponsibility becomes a habit of mind.

But that isn’t going to happen. Because only-ever Muslims are radicalised in the security obsessed, authoritarian hellhole of State surveillance and the interception of Orwellian thought-crimes this country has become.

Anyone else – it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where in the world the name Chunn has come from – is apparently now on the side of the angels.

Snow-white Christian angels, that is.

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Dead letter days

Because she was born in Scotland in 1924 on an RAF base my mother, although half-Greek and half-English and living in London, always had a fantasy of being Scots and in the early 1960s opened an account with the Royal Bank of Scotland, to whose brand she remained loyal all her life.

When she died in December last year I rang the Bereavement office at the bank to ask them to close her account, only to be told they could find no record of her; although I had her most recent statement in my hand, showing an unaccustomed surplus of £474.66.

Reasoning nothing would happen over Christmas and New Year, I sent a death certificate to her branch on the 6th of January, asking them to make sure the account was closed. The certificate was returned to me a few days later with a letter from the Bereavement office saying someone would be in touch with me shortly.

When nothing arrived, I followed it up on the 21st of January with another letter to the branch, begging for confirmation that no more money was going out of the account. Nothing.

On the 24th of February a photocopy of the certificate arrived in the post, again from the Bereavement office, with a letter saying they had received it and someone would be in touch with me shortly. Three weeks later I had a closing statement: there was £90 in the account.

I’m not surprised these incompetent 73 per cent taxpayer-owned bailed-out wankers, once the biggest bank in the world, have lost a total of £58 BILLION since the crash of 2008, £7 billion of it last year alone.

The CEO should be arrested.

Instead of which, Mr Ross McEwan, an Australian – sorry, New Zealand – immigrant, is being paid an annual salary of £3.8 million.

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A Message from The Editor:

Hi. Bogl here. So great!

With only four days to go until the fifth anniversary of the first-ever edition of this, muh li’l bogl, for the first time I awoke this morning, a) feeling as if I had been transformed into a giant insect, and b) wondering whether Monday oughtn’t to be the day I finally stop doing this, since I still use grammar like: oughtn’t to, which modern linguists find not only quaint, but repulsive.

588 Posts ought to be enough for anyone; I’m not going to make it to the magic 600 before Monday, thus for the first time my numericism is in doubt; and when you consider that in recent months and years I have taken to producing multi-Posts, rambling omnibus editions of spleniferous political commentary running sometimes to five and six-thousand well-aimed words, my global word count is definitely well into the low tens of millions.  So many words, so little effect, it’s unbelievable.

I have begun therefore to realise why it is that my Likers, Spammers, Followers, and Those No Longer Reading My Bogl invariably go on and on switching into just an annoyingly small handful of Posts I Posted more than four years ago; and are ignoring any more contemporaneous comment they might find instructive.

It is because they have realised how long it will otherwise take them to get to the end.

There are some Posts they lap up avidly: for instance, those about the ill-fated ‘Comex Two’ Commonwealth Youth Expedition to India, in 1967, on which I rashly ventured beyond my comfort zone into what sadly turned out to be the real world, articles mainly concerning the frisky relationship between Time and Memory; there is one about my seven years a slave, employed for £1.60 an hour as the Old Caretaker of a freezing ‘stately home’ in a windy Welsh valley, that seems inexplicably attractive to wishful-thinkers; there is the inconsiderable trifle masquerading as an encomium to apple crumble, and other pensées that are grateful to receive some scant attention.

That sort of thing goes on attracting viewers by the bucketload, averaging at least three a week. But anything mentioning my twin-track obsession with Brexit and Trump… Well, you are getting your fake news elsewhere and it seems hardly worth my while fulminating over the results of my adventures into the farther reaches of the US alt-left media or conning the wit and wisdom of Boris Fucking Johnson and Iain Cunting Smith, if you are just going to wallow in nostalgia for those early days before the End Times arrived.

Yesterday, for instance, as I toiled over The Pumpkin – Issue 7, all day my viewing figures hovered around the average: zero. By bedtime one reader had crept in late, unobserved. But this morning, unaccountably, the figure in the handy WordPress bar-chart had jumped up to 19, marking a record since records began the previous week; when on the Wednesday we achieved 25. (The all-time record is a Guinness-unattributable 47, set some time last October. That was when it occurred to me that GCHQ might be listening in.)

It is of course possible that these extra readers are illegal immigrants, whose viewings should not count.

Bringing up the rear, one person yesterday had actually viewed a Post I posted only a week ago, The Pumpkin – Issue 5, making it almost a contemporary piece. I was so overjoyed, to be honest, I went back and re-edited it, in case anyone else drops by. And in fact, it garnered a ‘most viewed the previous day’ award from WordPress, for which I made a silent speech thanking my old headmaster for putting me off the idea that I might ever enjoy a rewarding career.

But I am assured by one technically minded reader, muh gudfriend Professor Sir Roger d’ Boyle, that there may be more eyes on the internal workings of my journalistic brain than I might appreciate, via the DSS;  viewers who by some means would not appear in the figures. I shall leave it to him yet again to explain how.

There is one other reason I am imagining abandoning my quest.

This, muh li’l laptop thing. It’s disintegrating, literally. One of the hinges holding the lid on has fallen to pieces, and there seems to be some connective mechanism inside the hinge that has become wildly displaced. This connects to the screen, which is floating free as the lid comes in two parts, at least it does now. And I dare not turn it off, ever, as when I have done recently it won’t wake up again, and I have to resort to various mystical passes and incantations, and it takes about 20 minutes to get to where I want to go; which is of course here.

Then indeed there is the problem of the vanishing lettering on the keys, that those of you who do try to keep up may have read about before. Despite more than thirty years in the field of high-pressure literary endeavours of all kinds, I have yet to learn to touch-type and can thus hardly sneer at Mr Trump for never having learned to read, or speak. Or, as you have just added, think. In this way my miskeying count continues to rise, doubling the editing time it takes to present a respectable text to the world.

Yesterday I ventured into the local branch of Curry’s where, after twenty minutes of bulling the shit with a bored salesboy, I heaved a sigh and made a choice from a range of about twenty-five identically boring machines. As we went through the rigmarole of purchasing the thing, however, when it became clear that a computer advertised at £629.99 would cost more like £999.99 once I had paid for all the extras to be able to actually use it, I was, I now realise, being saved by my Committee of Discarnate Entities from a rash fiscal error when the shop’s intranet ground to a halt and we were unable to complete the transaction that evening.

I have not been back, as promised.

I can’t face it, to be honest. All those passwords.

Leaving this and other compulsive internet-based practices behind me, becoming mindful, living toadly in the Now!, I reason, I could embark on a more fulfilling life, maximising the time available for struggling to piss, walking li’l Hunzi, selling my guitars and crawling into bed alone in the dark, which has become one of my favourite activities; as with sweaters, thick socks and a woolly hat on, a padded underblanket and two thick fleecy blankets atop the duvet, a couple of large nightcaps burning their way through my hiatus hernia, even in an unheated house in winter it’s so… I don’t know, cosy.

Anyway, I will bethink me, and let you know in due course.

In the meantime, I have to take a nap, sorry.

Bloody cats.

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But I can’t, can I?

Oh God, what is going on?

I’ve blogged already as have many others about the weird statements Trump made last weekend concerning Sweden, migrants and the non-events of the previous night, that did not in fact happen until two nights later.

His curious error made news all over the free world as the Swedish government puzzled over what exactly he was on about. His camp proposed that he had in fact been discussing the ‘crime rate’ in Sweden, a) an unlikely proposition, given that he has no interest in Sweden and did not use the words ‘crime rate’, and b) again alt-factual, as the crime rate has actually been going down since so many migrants arrived.

The mystery is now compounded by further weirdness upon weirdness, as revealed in – again – a Guardian report. (The Guardian was one of the news organisations denied a seat at the Spicer ‘gaggle’ briefing on Thursday.)

One of the very few journalists on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News channels to dare to criticise the Orange President, Bill O’Reilly invited on his show to discuss the Swedish matter, two guests.

One was a Swedish news reporter, the other a man called Nils Bildt, billed as a ‘national security advisor’. But after the show, the Swedish defense ministry denied having any knowledge of or connection with Bildt, whose position in debate was virulently anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, and who confirmed Trump’s inaccurate belief that migrant crime in Sweden is a national problem.

Surprise, surprise when AP trotted out the following info:

“Bildt is a founding member of a corporate geopolitical strategy and security consulting business with offices in Washington, Brussels and Tokyo, according to its website….

“Security experts in Sweden said he was not a familiar figure in their ranks in that country.

“He is in not in any way a known quantity in Sweden and has never been part of the Swedish debate,” Swedish Defence University leadership professor Robert Egnell said by email to The Associated Press on Saturday.”

– Guardian Today: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/26/fox-news-nils-bildt-swedish-defence-advisor-unknown-to-countrys-military-officials?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=215024&subid=19570602&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

Someone was being set up?

O’Reilly’s producers claim Bildt was foisted on them in the usual way, through their research team and its contacts. But it seems a stretch to imagine someone outside didn’t wangle him a seat in the studio. Whether to discredit O’Reilly, to massage the President (whose ego did seem somewhat bruised when his nonsense was pointed out), and to make him happy (he mostly watches Fox News and gets most of his policy announcements from them) or to simply further the alt-right cause among the Dumbfucks by putting in a ringer, we may never know.

But to this paranoid conspiracy theorist, there are numerous threads – fingers in the pie – running through this evolving tale of a globalised corporate coup in motion against liberal democracy  (they are not by and large corporates whose brand-names anyone would recognise, by the way), where names crop up again and again in the context of semi-official skulduggery, that include one labelled Murdoch; owner of Fox.

And it would not be entirely bonkers, would it, to wonder about that mini-riot in Stockholm, and how conveniently it provided the fuel for rightwing commentators to justify Trump’s ‘post hoc, propter hoc’ assertion that migrants cause crime; justifying his policies of voter disenfranchisement and ethnic cleansing – with possibly worse to come – in the US.