Quote of the Week… EU: What the ignorant like to hear… In nomine patri, et feel-you-up sancti… GW: gone with the wind… This is where our story ends: Forests, Oceans, Wildlife… A new week’s BogPo slowly forming.

“Budski, can you spare a dime?” Charles visits the global laundromat in search of change for the tumble dryer. (rubenvardanyan.info)

Quote of the Week

Having nothing better to do, I drift in and out of slumber this Monday morning, and awake for the fifth or sixth time since five a.m. with the radio burbling quietly in the background, to find myself semiconsciously immersed in a discussion on Woman’s Hour about a campaign to address the problems of women unable to obtain sanitary products in the Third World.

The guest is the Women’s Minister, Ms Penny Mordaunt – a longtime Leave (the EU) supporter. The presenter is Jayne Garvey. Having exhausted the topic of period management, the conversation divagates thus:

Garvey: “Anyway, there’s only one show in town (sly menstrual pun intended?), and that’s Brexit. Assuming we leave at the end of the month (25 days away, folks) and we leave with an agreement, what will be the benefits for British women?”

Mordaunt: “Well… (hesitation)… I… I… I… (repetition)… I think… (deviation)…. er…” (Sound of sleepy fist clunking furiously on radio off-switch.)

This is absolutely bloody terrifying.

Not one of these dismal molluscs engineering the catastrophe has the slightest idea of what they voted FOR, they only have vastly divergent opinions on what they thought they were voting AGAINST.

Rather than listen to this brain-dead functionary riffling through her unread pile of moldering briefing notes, I set myself to imagining the benefits for British women living in a world of:

  • ever-rising prices and lower standards for food, travel, pharmaceuticals and energy;
  • permanently low wages and increasing inequality;
  • housing, food, medical, educational and job insecurity;
  • reduced womens’, human, consumer, working and maternal rights;
  • savagely reduced child, in-work, carer and disability benefits, social and maternity services;
  • increasingly uncontrolled environmental health and personal security hazards;
  • at the mercy of global corporations and anti-abortion white Christian fundamentalists;
  • ruled by misogynistic, patriarchal gangsters and their licensed abusers: the male race;
  • in an atmosphere of rising violence.

Yes, Brexit makes you free, alright.

Police officers on duty as Theresa May visited Salisbury yesterday.

“The plan, Prime Minister, is to introduce these tiny miniaturized policemen at lower cost…” (EPA)

EU: What the ignorant like to hear

“There are two important realities that I constantly try to hammer home here. One is that it’s not unelected bureaucrats who make the decisions in the European Union. It’s the democratically elected representatives of our member states, and it’s the democratically elected European Parliament, which by the way is about to have direct elections in May. All our decisions are taken with very thorough democratic accountability and review.

“The second thing, and I say this as a European, is that the European Union is not about the death of the nation-state. It’s about allowing the nation-state to better flourish by having a framework of cooperation that delivers better outcomes for our citizens than would be the case if our member states acted separately. My European identity is complementary to my Irish identity — not a substitute to it. I think that’s the strong view of all Europeans.

(David O’Sullivan, EU ambassador to Washington, interviewed in the Washington Post, Tue. 5 Mar. )

Was there no-one in the Remain campaign during 2016 who could have stood up every day for six months and said just those words, loudly in a public space?

Because it seems to me that O’Sullivan here in essence encapsulates and perfectly contradicts every stupid negative argument the Leave side was able to muster, while the rest was just belligerence, Jingoism, deceit and denial – the closing-down of debate.

What the ignorant like to hear, in other words.

 

In nomine patri, et feel-you-up sancti

Have you ever wondered about the people in charge of the spiritual care of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the world?

A spectacular new exposé of – not just the intrinsic homosexuality, but the Chaucerian debauchery of many prelates – the Church in Rome contains such wonders as this, commenting on the testimony of a male sex worker who records his pontifical encounters:

“I was able to consult the ‘dossier’ called Preti gay (‘the gay priesthood’); it reveals dozens of priests celebrating mass in their cassocks and then, stark naked, celebrating other kinds of frolic via webcam. The photographs, alternating homilies and intimate pictures, are quite extraordinary.”

Andrew Sullivan writes in The Intelligencer – a New York Magazine supplemental website – about the almost hysterical reaction of many conservative reviewers to Frédéric Martel’s new book on the hypocrisy and homosexuality in the Vatican, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy.

Among other reviews, he quotes Lifesite News: “His statements regarding Pope Francis are so grave from a doctrinal point of view that they need to be known and, hopefully, officially denied.” While, from The Spectator: “Martel confirms that the Vatican is full of gossipy queens, most of whom stare at waiters’ bottoms and some of whom have sex with young men. But I think we knew that already.”

I suppose it depends on how young?

As Martel informs us, based on a very large number of interviews with Vatican insiders: “many of these cardinals and officials have lively sex lives, operate within a “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture, constantly hit on young men, hire prostitutes, throw chem-sex parties, and even pay for sex with church money.”

Of course, there are dangers in this kind of reporting. In quite a few countries, homosexuality is still a prisonable crime that can be informally punished by death at the hands of semi-official vigilante squads. Taken with the claims of predatory pedophilia against alarming numbers of priests and apparently covered-up for decades (possibly centuries) by the hierarchy, it would not be surprising soon to see a witch-hunt culminating in reprisals and expulsions – even extrajudicial martyrings.

Given the murderous excesses of the Islamic State, the attempted genocide of the Rohingya by Burmese Buddhists, the disruptive Islamophobic interventions funded by the Russian Orthodox Church, the growing revival of tensions between the religious communities in Northern Ireland and the slimy machinations of political Christianity (especially in the USA), religion doesn’t have a very good name at the moment.

Best be rid of it. Grow out of this supra-parental dependence on invisible and improbable entities to control people’s lives through a hypocritical and unelected, patriarchal priestly caste, eh?

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/andrew-sullivan-a-radically-moderate-climate-solution.html

In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, by Frédéric Martel and Shaun Whiteside. Available in hardback from Amazon, price £14.70.

One of Martel’s more lurid revelations, is the life of Pope Benedict’s chief Inquisitor, Cardinal Trujillo, who notoriously waged a war against liberation theology in South America, touring the countries setting death squads onto left-wing priests; and was subsequently employed in Rome to drive gays out of the church and mastermind the Pope’s campaign against condoms, claiming that they caused AIDS. As one Colombian interviewee recorded:

“Trujillo’s specialty was novices: “The most fragile, the youngest, the most vulnerable. But in fact he slept with anybody. He also had lots of prostitutes. … Everyone knew that he was homosexual. He lived with us, here, on the fourth floor of the Palazzo di San Calisto, in a 900-square-metre apartment, and he had several cars! Ferraris! He led a highly unusual life.” And what was Trujillo’s task in Rome? You guessed it: president of the Pontifical Council for the Family!”

 

GW: Gone with the wind

USA: At least 23 people have been killed as a succession of powerful tornadoes struck Lee County in Alabama. County Sheriff Jay Jones said there had been “catastrophic” damage and there were fears more bodies would be found. Dozens are thought to have been hurt. An unconfirmed number of tornadoes with a power estimated to be at least EF-3 – winds of up to 165mph (266km/h) – struck the area around Beauregard, carving a path at least half a mile wide. 2,000 homes are without power and more cold weather is forecast, with temperatures predicted to drop to near freezing (BBC report). The tornado season in the southern states normally starts in April.

Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan: After a severe drought, intense rainfall has caused flash flooding and landslides over the past few days. “According to media reports, as many as 50 people may have died as a result of flooding, landslides or collapsing buildings across the 3 countries. Parts of Kandahar Province in Afghanistan recorded around half the annual rainfall in 30 hours.” Thousands of homes, roads and other infrastructure have been damaged, hundreds of people needed rescuing. Parts of Pakistan have also been affected by severe snowstorms. (Floodlist)

Australia: And the heat goes on… After a four-day spell of searing temperatures brought the hottest-ever recorded start to March, “2 thousand firefighters are battling (more than 19) fires in Victoria, in the far south of Australia. Multiple lightning strikes on Friday started the largest fire in Bunyip State Park, east of Melbourne. High winds pushed two huge brushfires together, creating a “monster” wall of flame. Over 10 thousand Ha. has been burning, with property losses, and several townships have been evacuated. The country’s meteorology bureau said plumes of smoke have risen up to 15km into the atmosphere.” A “few millimeters” of rain is forecast for Wed. 6 Mar., but with further dry lightning and a change of wind direction raising fears of more fires in the meantime.

Temperatures in Tasmania, Australia’s southernmost state, reached 39.1C on Saturday, the hottest in 131 years of records. (BBC Weather/Guardian/Straits Times)

Buy Australian wine now, and woolly jumpers while stocks last…. “Australia’s hottest summer on record is causing several industries to wilt, including the US$4.4 billion wine industry with grape yields set to drop to the lowest in years. Drought has also damaged the winter wheat crop and is expected to drag the wool clip to a record low.” (Straits Times)

Europe: A snow warning has been issued Mon. 4 Mar. as Storm Freya sweeps across the southern UK with wind speeds approaching 80mph. The Met Office has warned that dangerous conditions will continue into Monday morning and there have been reports of flying debris and sailors stranded at sea. Hundreds of homes have been left without electricity and gales have also disrupted trains and closed bridges. 6cm (2.4in) of snow was recorded at a weather station near the border between Cumbria and Northumberland. Severe-weather.eu forecasts severe wind conditions with potential for tornadoes, and intensive rainfall pushing eastwards across northeastern France, Benelux and northern Germany over the next few days.

 

This is where our story ends…

Trees: The EU is failing miserably in its mission to reduce carbon emissions as a result of industrial logging. Brussels “…expects to lose about 125m tonnes of carbon sequestration potential from forests between 2010 and 2030, with countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Austria transforming from carbon sinks to carbon sources.” Poland still hopes to clear swathes of the ancestral (UN-protected) Białowieża Forest to drive a military road to the coast, and other ancient woodlands are also under threat across central and eastern Europe, with potential effects on Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions.

A spokeswoman for the Polish forest protection group Fern, said:“The biggest factor in the destruction [is] incentives given by the EU to burn trees for energy.” Illegal logging is another cause of deforestation. The Romanian NGO Agent Green, said government figures showed that 38m cubic metres of wood were harvested in the country last year – more than twice as much as officially claimed. “Old-growth forests in our national parks are being massively logged,” he said. “It is an environmental catastrophe taking place in front of the EU’s eyes.” (All from Guardian Green Light report)

Uncle Bogler writes: Instead of leaving the EU, Britain needs to stay in and lobby for these former Soviet republics to be heavily sanctioned and even expelled, for these and other crimes their corrupt, pro-Putin gangster regimes are blatantly getting away with. They have no place in a modern Europe faced with environmental and climate catastrophe on a life-threatening scale.

 

Oceans: The number of heatwaves (surges in water temperature lasting more than 5 days) affecting the planet’s oceans has increased sharply, scientists have revealed, killing swathes of sea-life like “wildfires that take out huge areas of forest”. “The damage caused in these hotspots is also harmful for humanity, which relies on the oceans for oxygen, food, storm protection and the removal of climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. … The number of heatwave days jumped by more than 50% in the 30 years to 2016, compared with the period 1925 to 1954. As heatwaves have increased, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs have been lost. These foundation species are critical to life in the ocean.”

“Another study showed that achieving the 2C climate change target set out in the Paris agreement would protect almost 10m tonnes of fish catches each year, worth tens of billions of dollars.” (Guardian Green Light, quoting Marine Biological Association and other recent research papers.)

 

Wildlife: “The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) had long helped fund and equip Chitwan’s forest rangers, who patrol the area in jeeps, boats, and on elephant-back alongside soldiers from the park’s in-house army battalion. Now WWF’s partners in the war against poaching stood accused of torturing a man to death.”

In an extraordinary exposé, at which we find it hard not to scream ‘Fake News’, BuzzFeed News is reporting that the WWF is actively encouraging the murder, torture and beatings of villagers in countries where it supports and operates anti-poaching squads to patrol protected areas in national parks.

The story from Nepal concerns the kidnapping and beating to death of Shikharam Chaudhary, a farmer suspected of concealing an illicitly obtained rhino horn (none was found). It goes on to detail how the WWF actively lobbied to shut down the investigation into the murder and issued a triumphal statement hailing a victory for wildlife when the case against the three suspect rangers and the park manager was dropped.

“In national parks across Asia and Africa, the beloved nonprofit with the cuddly panda logo funds, equips, and works directly with paramilitary forces that have been accused of beating, torturing, sexually assaulting, and murdering scores of people.”(Buzzfeed News)

WWF is one of those global NGOs that makes waves, and politicians in many countries with fingers in muddy pies probably would rather they were shut down. So this might just be evidence of a campaign to throw maximum shade at the hated conservationists, that makes the claims of sexual misconduct against Oxfam and Save the Children look pretty tame.

On the other hand, BuzzFeed is claiming: “WWF has provided paramilitary forces with salaries, training, and supplies — including knives, night vision binoculars, riot gear, and batons — funded raids on villages … and signed off on a proposal to kill trespassers penned by a park director who presided over the killings of dozens of people.”

The charity responded to these extraordinary claims with: “Human rights abuses are totally unacceptable and can never be justified in the name of conservation.” WWF officials have promised a thorough investigation

However, BuzzFeed promises to continue running more stories of similar atrocities in the coming days.

Uncle Bogler writes: I have found myself on occasion wishing I could win £120 million on the Euromillions lottery, as some do. I have visions of acquiring a secondhand submarine to sink Japanese whaling ships, and sending trained mercenaries to eliminate Chinese and other Asian government officials involved in the clandestine ivory and powdered rhino-horn trades.

Shaken, and stirred: Extreme weather: drought, flooding, high winds and unseasonal frosts consistent with an overall increase of 1.4C locally in the average temperature of the Mediterranean region have been blamed for a 57% fall in the Italian olive crop, a loss valued at $1 billion, and other farming losses. The European commission has projected 2018-19 olive harvests to drop by 20% in Portugal and 42% in Greece, where extreme heat triggered an olive fly infestation, although industry sources said final figures there could be significantly worse. (Guardian Green Light)

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The Pumpkin – Issue 75: A Master of Evasion… Her justice rewards… GW: Up and down on the great weather rollercoaster…

“Trump, eternally the great mob boss, never forgets nor forgives.”

A Master of Evasion

“So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post. Hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better & more responsible hands!”

This is the petty, vindictive little playground bully at his finest, the half-fuckwit, half-fatberg America inadvertently elected as its President in 2016. (The funniest insult of it being to call the putrid, conspiracy-theory-mongering supermarket gossip-sheet The National Enquirer a “competitor” to the internationally respected Post!) The tweet needs to be read with that slimy, slug-trail voice and a hint of narcissistic triumphalism.

The story of the feud between Trump and the enviably far richer Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and “world’s richest man” (if you don’t count Vladimir Putin, who may be at least twice as rich), is ably told by Washington reporter Ben Jacobs in today’s Guardian (8 Feb.)

Essentially, Mr Bezos owns the Post, a newspaper Mr Trump has happily co-operated with – and vice versa – in the past, but which now aggrieves him by doing snippy little things like enumerating the times he has outright lied to the American people – currently around 8,300 since he first assured everyone his inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s – on the basis of checkable facts; and criticizing his cackhanded mismanagement of the Oval Office.

The Post‘s heyday was, of course, in the mid 1970s when its dogged investigative team of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein played a large part in bringing down the corrupt but otherwise quite good President Richard M Nixon over the series of burglaries at the Watergate Complex he taped himself authorizing, to steal ‘dirt’ on his then-Democrat opponent, the hawkish Barry Goldwater.

Subsequently impeached for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and several violations of the Constitution, Nixon resigned with a full pardon in 1975. He was succeeded by Vice-President Gerald Ford, a man of whom it was said he was so dumb, he couldn’t shit and chew gum at the same time; and subsequently by the other halfway decent President, the Democrat Jimmy Carter.

There are gobsmackingly obvious parallels with the situation today facing Mr Trump, into whom there are now some 18 separate investigations ongoing alleging conspiracy with a foreign power to steal the 2016 election, misuse of campaign funds, obstruction of justice, money-laundering, tax fraud – and several (to put it mildly) violations of the constitution; notably the emoluments clause, in ignorance of which he continues to create any opportunity to enrich himself at the nation’s expense.

(It’s said that for his inauguration ceremonies, his Washington post-office hotel was charging foreign dignitaries $175,000 a night….)

We just haven’t quite got to the resignation speech yet.

Sadly, no Woodward and Bernstein today can contend with Mr Trump’s relentless campaign of character assassination against both the media and his own law-enforcement agencies, and his first-rate skills at blowing out dense clouds of purple smoke to distract the public attention whenever it looks like any further embarrassing revelations are about to emerge. He plays the media like a fiddle, as they say.

If the legion of investigative journalists and their many books and articles are to be believed, as no doubt they should be, mostly, Mr Trump is guilty of all those crimes and many more. But he is a master of evasion – and not just fiscally. The fingerprints have been wiped; finding the DNA, let alone a smoking gun, is taking the Special Counsel a frustratingly long time.

The Bezos affair is classic Trump.

For many years, Mr Trump’s friend, David Pecker, Editor-in-Chief of the salacious supermarket rag, The National Enquirer, had protected him by buying up as exclusives, any bad stories about him and then locking them away in a safe. It’s known in the yellow trade as ‘catch and kill’. Under guarantee of immunity, Mr Pecker has been spilling his guts to the FBI about it all, and specifically about the role played by Mr Trump’s personal bagman, Michael Cohen, shortly due to surrender himself to the prison authorities to start a three-year stretch.

Mr Trump’s vendetta against the Post appears to have extended recently to doing work on behalf of his Saudi paymasters. In his action against the Enquirer, that he has now launched alleging, among other things, blackmail, Mr Bezos’ lawyers are pointing to a special glossy supplement on Saudi Arabia that Mr Pecker published last year, totally against the scandal sheet’s normal editorial policy, praising the repressive and atavistic desert regime to the skies.

For three months, despite the assessments of his own intel community and the views of Republican senators in Congress – even that egregious little Trumpsucker, Sen. Graham – Mr Trump has been assiduously creating doubt and uncertainty over the role of Saudi Crown Prince bin-Salman in the brutal assassination of critic, Jamal Khashoggi… a special contributor to, as it happens, the Washington Post.

And then in January, an exclusive story appeared in the Enquirer about Mr Bezos and an affair with a former TV anchor, Lauren Sanchez – a report based on hacked text messages. Mrs Bezos is duly divorcing him and a settlement somewhere in the mid-billions is eagerly anticipated by those who get excited by such important news.

Bezos immediately launched an investigation into how the Enquirer and its parent company, AMI, had gotten hold of the story. He claims that his attempts to find the source of the hacked material to determine whether it and other Enquirer pieces in recent months had been politically motivated had led to threats from AMI to expose even more intimate photos the couple had exchanged.

In other words, blackmail – and foolishly offered in an email for all to read.

Instead of cowing down and paying up, Bezos went public and published full details of everything in the Post. Even people who loathe Amazon and its rapacious business model have had to admit, that was brave. Bezos’ implied assertion was that the intelligence service must have been involved – which could mean only one thing: the order came from the Very Top.

Is petty blackmail something you’re really going to try with the “world’s richest man”, involved in a long-running feud with the political motivator himself, President Donald Trump?

The obvious inference, amply reinforced by that sickening tweet, its triumphal crowing utterly demeaning of the sacred office of the President of the United States, for now – a monstrous spoiled, whining, devious, self-exonerating 9-year-old brat, of squalid habits and early-onset dementia trapped in the lumbering body of a man who cheats at golf, as well as on his wives – is that this was Pecker’s way of saying sorry to his “friend”.

We doubt it’ll get him off the hook. Trump, eternally the made-for-TV mob boss, never forgets nor forgives.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/07/jeff-bezos-national-enquirer-blackmail-claims-trump

Postscriptum: And in a small but intensely interesting sidelight on the Bezos affair, we have belatedly learned, the Daily Beast reported on 31 Jan. that Lauren Sanchez’ showbiz agent brother Michael is a known “business” associate of…. Roger Stone, another of Trump’s henchmen now under indictment, and has frequently tweeted political support for the President.

The question then becomes, has this whole affair been a honeytrap setup, the kind of exploit Mr Pecker’s safe is no doubt full of? Was any foreign agency involved in hacking Bezos/Sanchez’ texts and photos? Was this a politically motivated Kompromat operation against a hated enemy, that now threatens to blow up in the President’s curiously mottled orange face? (I’m wondering if it might be skin cancer?)

Sanchez and others, including AMI, the publisher of the Enquirer, are denying everything; the problem facing AMI group being that only last year they signed an agreement with the Mueller investigation that if they gave evidence against Michael Cohen they wouldn’t face prosecution – unless any further crime was committed within the next three years, in which case the FBI would throw the book at them.

So this is an existential matter for the publishers.

One further question remains. There being no fool like a staggeringly rich fool, may we ask: why oh why was Bezos, who is no longer 14 years old, stupid enough to post dick-pix to his girlfriend over social media?

(The Pumpkin has been itching to make this joke and so will risk it here: Why would anyone want to wake up to Bezos’ scrawny old head on the pillow? For a moment, they might wonder which way up he was sleeping… Sorry!)

 

Her justice rewards

Along with now-retired Senator Jeff Flake, “moderate” Senator Susan Collins from the moderate east coast lobster-fishing state of Maine was an outstanding holdout on the committee to confirm Trump-pick, Brett Kavanaugh as a job-for-life Supreme Court justice.

Kavanaugh, who allegedly assured Trump no sitting President could be indicted for crimes commited while in office. Kavanaugh, who dramatically defended himself against the sober testimony of women accusing him of gross improprieties while a college student.

Kavanaugh, whose emotionally overwrought self-defence was said by many witnesses never called to testify to have been a pack of lies; and who boasted of liking beer when the evidence suggested, he likes it a bit too much.

Kavanaugh, the subject of strong criticism from Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts; and of a warning letter to Congress, signed by over a thousand lawyers and professors of law who knew Kavanaugh’s record and judged it wanting.

Kavanaugh, who just last week fulfilled the dire warnings of the liberal establishment by recording a dissenting opinion in a Louisiana case, where the court ruled 5-4 to overturn a complicated new law that would have meant only one doctor being available in the entire state licensed to perform abortions.

In a dramatic turnround, however, when it came to the vote, Flake and Collins (see previous Posts) threw principle to the wind and voted with their fellow Retardicans to rubber-stamp Kavanaugh’s lifelong appointment to the court. The question remained: why?

Sen. Collins has now filed accounts, regarding her 2020 re-election campaign donations. To date, her PAC has benefited from $1.8 million dollars in funding. Since the day she changed her voting on Kavanaugh, a million dollars of that has been sent in from out-of-state donors, whom she does not even represent. (TYT/Ring of Fire, from Time Magazine reporting)

 

GW: Up and down on the great weather rollercoaster

World: “The start of 2019 has been marked by high impact weather in many parts of the world, including dangerous and extreme cold in North America, record heat, wildfires and rainfall in Australia, record temperatures and rainfall in parts of South America, and heavy snowfall in the Alps and Himalayas.

“Globally, temperatures were a little over 0.4°C warmer than the average January from 1981-2010.”

With an adjusted “realistic” baseline of 1750 AD (rather than NASA/IPCC’s 1951) when industrialization began; with allowances for ‘blank’ areas of the Arctic where no measurements were available, La Niña cooling, etc., and without even adding in potential feedbacks such as rapidly rising methane release, Arctic News’ “Sam Carana” (7 Feb.) estimates that global warming has already crossed the lower 1.5C “Paris” target. It was “1.73°C warmer than preindustrial in 2018. The (graph) also shows that it could become 1.85°C warmer in 2019.” Projections of the increase in global temperature cease by 2030 as 5C is considered terminal.

WMOpublic.wmo.int/en/media/news/2019-starts-extreme-high-impact-weather

arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/02/extinction-alert.html

USA: “At least 1 person (later 2) has died in flash flooding in Tennessee (and Ohio) after a storm system (Lucian) brought record-breaking rain to the Nashville area. Nashville recorded 4 in./ 101.6mm of rain on 6 Feb. This breaks the daily rainfall record for 06 February, 1.73 in./ 43.94mm set in 1884. It also exceeds the normal monthly rainfall for February, which is 3.94 inches / 100 mm. (from Floodlist). Indiana University, Bloomington was underwater, 8 Feb, and there was flooding in Indianapolis. Rivers are still rising as the frontal system has stalled and continues to dump impressive amounts of rain at the boundary, bringing warm air over the midwest ahead of another polar deep-freeze. (From Wunderground)

Update from The Weather Channel: “Winter Storm Maya will bring another round of snow to the Pacific Northwest to start the weekend, just days after Winter Storm Lucian (23 dead) snarled travel in both Seattle and Portland, Oregon, and this will kick off yet another expansive wintry mess of snow and ice across the Plains, Midwest and East into next week.” – weather.com/safety/winter/news/2019-02-07-winter-storm-maya-seattle-portland-midwest-east-snow-ice-forecast?cm_ven=wu_videos?cm_ven=hp-slot-1 Monday 11 Feb, Accuweather reports, Seattle had another 10-in. of snow over the weekend, its worst February total in decades.

Hawaii: “An intense winter storm will approach Hawaii from the north this weekend—an unusual trajectory that could bring a variety of destructive impacts to the 50th State. The angle of approach will push very strong northwest to north winds across the islands. Extremely high surf (waves up to 60 ft!) can be expected, especially along north- and west-facing coastlines and harbors, where the National Weather Service is warning that coastal flooding could be “unprecedented.” (Wunderground)

S America: “At least 16 people have died in landslides in La Paz Department, Bolivia. Heavy rain from 2 Feb. caused landslides along the Yolosita-Caranavi highway in Caranavi Province, burying several vehicles. Local authorities said that at least 16 people died and 53 were injured.” (from Floodlist)

“Southern Argentina broke a number of high temperature records on 4 February. The temperature in Perito Moreno (Patagonia) reached 38.2°C. Northeast Argentina, and the adjacent parts of Uruguay and Brazil have been hit with extensive flooding, with well above the long-term expected average rainfall. On January 8, the Argentine city of Resistencia recorded 224mm rainfall. This is a new 24-hour rainfall record, much higher than the previous highest of 206mm recorded in January 1994.” (From World Meteorological Association global report.)

Indonesia: The death toll in floods in Sulawesi towards the end of January is reported to be in the dozens. (BBC News) Homes and roads were washed away.

New Zealand: “Strong winds are expected to fan forest fires that have been burning for a week through New Zealand’s South Island, forcing thousands of people from their homes. Early on Sunday, 155 firefighters were battling the blaze on the ground with air support from 23 helicopters and three fixed wing planes … The Pigeon Valley fire covers 2,300 hectares (5,700 acres).” (Guardian) – and may according to subsequent reports go on burning for “weeks”.

Australia: as record flooding in Queensland slowly abates, farmers who originally celebrated the end of a seven-year drought are left counting the cost, confronted by a landscape strewn with up to half a million dead cattle they have no way of disposing of, polluting waterways.

Europe: Snow melt and heavy rain caused rivers in Bosnia to overflow from 5 Feb. Bridges, roads, homes and farm land have been damaged. Temperatures rose from sub-zero last week to around 15C. Some areas also saw heavy rain.” (From Floodlist). “A very deep cyclone (Storm Erik – “quite windy” BBC) will affect the UK and Ireland on 8 and 9 Feb. It will produce storm to potentially hurricane force winds, and locally quite significant rainfall totals. This is a potentially dangerous system. (Update: 3 dead.) Winds gusting above 100 km/h are expected across much of Ireland, Scotland, southwest and north England and Wales.” The same front has brought damaging wind gusts up to hurricane-force 160k/h and unseasonally warm conditions again to Iceland. (Severe-weather.eu)

India: The “capital Delhi was hit by a strong hailstorm on Thursday, turning the city white and leaving people stunned and delighted. Pictures and videos posted on social media show cherry-sized ice balls and streets covered in white.” – Normally lethal air quality temporarily improving as a result. “Parts of northern India have experienced heavy snowfall over the past days”… leading to avalanche warnings. (From BBC Weather)

Yellowstone: continuous small earthquakes and ground uplift ongoing in the Lake area. The live webcam at Old Faithful geyser is still down. “Deep low-frequency earthquake” signatures are showing up in the seismograph record all over the park, a type associated with rising magma. (Mary Greeley)

The panic begins: “I don’t know what everyone else is doing but my wife and I are moving to our off grid home up near Algonquin park in northern Ontario. GL to everyone we wish you the best. We are prepared with food and supplies and weapons that I have stock piled now for the past 4 years. Thank you Mary for the heads up and we will continue to watch your program from our off grid site. Much love and respect from Canada.” – Comment post, Mary Greeley website.

 

 

The scaly scales of justice, #1… The scaly scales of justice #2… Monstering cookies…Trump: Hittin’ ’em in the pocket… GW: sperm counts falling like snow…

Quote of the week

“You enabled the nationalism that threatens our societies. You stiffed so many of us. You fought for rules that let you steal the future from our children. You pushed for monopolies … and austerity and deregulation. People got angry, and some of them voted for hell. And who benefited? You again. Because instead of following their anger up to the summit where you gather, the enraged were goaded, sometimes by your fellow plutocrats, into punching downward and turning on the most vulnerable.” – Anand Giridharadas, in an open letter to the World Economic Forum (Davos), published in the New York Times.

According to Oxfam, the richest 26 individuals now own 50 per cent of the world’s wealth.

“Let the Yanquis come. They will see we have many more medals where these came from!” Venezuela prepares.

The scaly scales of justice #1

Despite turning up at court along with its co-defendants trailing no fewer than four pairs of defense barristers, “a spokesman for the University of Bristol said it was fully committed to assisting the coroner’s investigation and ensuring that any lessons learned were built into its support.

“At the heart of this is a student who has tragically died, her family, and members of our community who continue to be deeply affected by this loss. Our thoughts remain with Natasha’s family and friends. The evidence submitted in advance of the pre-inquest review shows that every effort was made to assist and support Natasha, both from within her school of physics and by the university’s pastoral support services,” the spokesman said.

Except that…. Natasha Abrahart had “’no direct contact’ with the university’s student wellbeing service, the first pre-inquest hearing in August last year was told.” Although as it turned out, she had emailed the university begging for help and seemingly got no reply. Now her parents are faced with at least £50 thousand in costs they are struggling to fund through an internet appeal, to try to match the legal firepower of the university, just to find out the truth about what happened to their daughter.

Meanwhile, student suicides continue to mount up: 95 in 2016-17 alone. (All from Guardian report, 22 Jan. http://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/jan/22/student-death-did-university-do-enough-help-natasha-abrahart-bristol)

Somehow our institutions – universities, the police, the NHS, the Home Office, the Department of Work and Pensions – have to be made to take responsibility for their failings and stop lying and bullying and spending their way out of trouble with our money.

The scaly scales of justice, #2

Nixonian fixer (he apparently bears a tattoo of Nixon’s face across his scrawny shoulderblades), Trump bagman and all-round dirty trickster, the reptilian Roger Stone, 64, was arrested before dawn by armed, presumably pissed-as-hell, unpaid FBI agents today and bailed for $250 thousand on 7 charges, mostly to do with lying to everyone and intimidating a witness, presumably Jerome Corsi – Obama “birther conspiracy theorist and occasional conservative pundit” (Vox).

Released from the courtroom, he reached immediately for a phone and called the one man in America he thought would stand by him: Alex Jones, the rabid rightwing motormouth and bitterly estranged father-of-two who fronts the shameless but relentlessly constructive InfoWars YouTube channel, and his two million Adderall-addicted followers.

Protesting his innocence of what he called the “bogus” investigation into collusion with Russia (he is now the 36th entity to be indicted by several Grand Juries on “bogus” charges concocted by the Mueller team), Stone nobly declared: “”There’s no circumstance under which I would bear false witness to the president.”

It’s my long-held belief that, as a nabbed henchman, you can only betray someone if they are actually guilty of doing something that’s probably illegal, or hiding dark secrets. Otherwise, there’s nothing to betray. But the suggestion that Stone has become the victim of a brutal and intimidatory Deep State system that might somehow force him to declare falsely that the President is a Kremlin stooge is straight out of the “Tommy Robinson” persecution playbook.

While the charges contain no suggestion of collusion with the Russians, Mr Stone has had some problems recently explaining why he went around boasting to everyone about his relationship with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, The ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ of London SW1, who most certainly did “collude” in the release of tens of thousands of emails illegally hacked by the Russians from Clinton and her campaign staffers, if he really didn’t.

I’d say “watch this space!” but I’m losing track of them all. There’ll be a new space along tomorrow.

 

Monstering cookies

As I don’t keep up with the technology stuff, I have little idea – is it an EU thing? – why every damn website now has to put up a big box obscuring their page content, requiring you first to grant permission for them to slap cookies all over your computer; and then to switch off your adblocker so they can show you wonders you have no interest in.

The BogPo doesn’t do it, why should they?

Why do they want or need to give you cookies in the first place? I only want to read the fucking article, maybe even not that much, just check a name or a quote or something in the first lines. I may not ever return to that site, it’s just research, a reference thing. I’m not interested in subscribing for everything they publish. I don’t want to participate in some obscure game of drones, to capture my location and identity and have ads pointlessly targeted at me.

If you’re brazen anough to want to openly publish information on the worldwide web, it’s my view you shouldn’t put more terms and conditions on my right to read it than you absolutely need to; and leave my privacy alone.

Even less reasonable, it seems to me, is that I should have to tick that box every damn time I bring up the same website. It cannot be without the bounds of possibility to employ a one-tick-is-forever system. Once you’ve put your damned cookie on my computer, for whatever purpose, why do you need my recurrent permission to leave it there? It’s just annoying, and not likely to endear me to you

Grrr.

 

Trump: Hittin’ ’em in the pocket

As we all kno, the FBI is Trump’s chief bête noir: an existential threat both to him and his family, and to his tenure of a brain-damaged presidency he never really wanted and for which he was spectacularly unqualified and unprepared.

Not only is the Special Counsel, Bob Mueller reliant on handpicked federal agents to pursue his inquiry into Trump’s financial dealings, that may amount to decades of money-laundering; his ties (we can put the prefix “loyal-” to that) to Russia, and his illegal attempts to lie and deceive the American public into believing he is innocent while investigators are pursuing what he continually mischaracterizes as a politically inspired “witch hunt” against him.

The FBI is also itself pursuing many lower level enquiries at the behest of courts and grand juries all over Washington, Virginia and New York, including into already indicted Trump lieutenants Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Rick Gates, Sam Nunberg, George Papadopoulos, etc. as well as Erik Prince, DHS Secretary Nielsen and others connected with his administration; but most especially, into the Trump children: Don Jr, Eric, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, and their roles in the many scams the First Crime Family has perpetrated in its gilded patriarch’s insatiable quest to finally please his dead dad, Fred.

So how to shut down those investigations and make them go away? Why, suggests MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, there is surely no better way than by so damaging the FBI’s employees financially that it exposes them to loss of their security clearances, their family health insurances and their jobs on grounds of vulnerability to corrupt offers from criminals and spies; not to mention making working for the FBI a less than glamorous career option for the best graduates when you know you could be putting your life on the line every day for no pay, on the whim of a vindictive sociopath in the White House.

Under cover of a manufactured crisis on the southern border, based on phoney fears of a mass “invasion” of criminal migrants, and a preposterous demand for billions of dollars of public money to build a 2,000-mile border wall, or fence, or “steel slats”; a “wall” that most experts believe would have not the slightest effect on drugs and crime and illegal immigration in the country; a “wall” that the opposition Democrats simply would not accept as public policy when funding is sorely needed for so many more socially useful causes; a “wall” that Trump pretends is so vitally necessary to national security that to obtain it may not preclude him taking emergency powers; an illogical, ineffectual, stupid “wall” with which he seems so unshakeably obsessed, the Great Dealmaker has deliberately manufactured a blunt instrument: a shutdown of many government departments, including, as it happens, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

That is to say, a shutdown but not always a cessation of work. FBI agents, who cannot go on strike, are being forced to continue working without pay, and have already missed one monthly check as the shutdown spreading out to affect millions of hard-pressed people living from month to month – including many Trump supporters, whom he seems to be throwing under the bus – and costing the economy billions of dollars, enters its second month with no resolution in sight. Even now, US airports are clogging up, with flight delays around 45 minutes, as everyone from the air traffic controllers to the intimidating immigration staff is not getting paid.

That’s despite the House majority Democrats helpfully offering repeated bills to keep the finances flowing – bills that the profoundly corrupt, arch-Trumpsucker and Senate leader from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell – Cocaine Mitch, as he’s been called – refuses to debate unless there’s $5.7 billion for the “wall”. It’s been his dubious role to block any legislation the Republican funders won’t support, going back to the Clinton era.

FBI offices are reported to be opening food banks for cash-stricken employees.

The majority of Americans, two-thirds have not bought Trump’s lie that the crisis is all the fault of the Democrats. They all saw and heard him take responsibility for what the wily Speaker Pelosi was calling “the Trump shutdown”. They can clearly see who is obstructing the legislature. Daily, he piles lie upon lie*: one of the latest being to claim the “wall” will solve the opioid crisis that is killing 50 thousand Americans every year, when any fule kno’, the opioid drugs are being manufactured legally by Big Pharma in the USA and overprescribed by doctors, not smuggled across borders.

Indeed, his claims are getting so lurid and far-fetched it’s impossible to think that he really believes in them himself.

But it may not yet have sunk in, that there is a distinct possibility this whole shitty mess affecting many government departments has been deliberately created as smoke and mirrors, while the real aim is to hit just one specific target:

The pockets of the people lawfully investigating “Individual 1’s” – the “unindicted co-conspirator’s” – the President’s many crimes.

Thom Hartmann has a most excellent commentary on all of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km20E5_-TqM

Addenda

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reports, there has also been some written evidence in the form of memos suggesting that the “crisis” at the border may have been cooked up in the Oval Office as early as 2017 to provide false evidence on which to hang future “emergency” decrees amounting to a potential seizure of the government.

She further mentions, the appropriate contractor Trump will need to go to for slats employing the right kind of steel for his border wall is a Canadian company owned by a Russian, Chelsea FC’s very own Roman Abramovitch: sometime rubber-duck salesman, Israeli citizen, owner of the world’s biggest superyacht, leading contributor to the Putin slush-fund, victor of the somewhat bloody ‘aluminium wars’ of the 1990s and married to Irina, one of Ivanka Trump’s closest friends.

Trump is no doubt most apologetic for having been made to sign a Congressional order sanctioning the $11 billion oligarch back in 2018. As we’ve discovered with Paul Manafort, for Putin’s favorite olgarchs it’s payback time.

*The Washington Post‘s tally of Trump’s lies now stands at over 8 thousand since he took office two years ago. On a good day he manages around 30.

 

Things are spinning out of control.

Against a background of economic collapse engineered in part by US interests opposed to the shambolic leftwing government in Venezuela, bereft of any sound foreign policy advice the idiot Trump has tweeted that he is backing Juan Guaido, a 35-year-old rightwing opposition politician from the sidelined national assembly, who has declared himself ‘Interim President’.

You’d think Trump would approve more of the populist (but not popular) President Maduro, a blundering incompetent who he says is an unelected dictator, rather than supporting a coup whose figurehead claims to be a Libertarian, but there’s nothing rational or consistent about the US president other than his ceaseless quest for money and validation.

Maduro says he’s staying, and appears still to command the loyalty of the security forces, so things seem set for a showdown. American diplomats have been given 72 hours to leave the country. Civil war looms, with the potential for US military intervention: nothing is off the table, says Trump.

Meanwhile, the would-be dictator Trump’s former attorney and criminal bagman, Michael Cohen, has had to plead with Congress to postpone a scheduled appearance in front of a sitting committee because Trump has openly threatened his family if he testifies.

Further explanation comes from Trump’s senile motormouth attorney Rudy Giuliani: Cohen’s father-in-law is Ukrainian. ‘Nuff said? No? Well, organized crime… ya know? Nudge nudge…

Trump, who now no longer seems to care what he says or does, despite his rocketing public disapproval ratings, up 9 points this week, has also seemingly warned House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi to “be careful”, if she continues to refuse him the chair in Congress to deliver his State of the Union address on the 29th unless he orders federal workers whose pay he has suspended for the past month back to work.

See, the nasty mans

Among other threats Trump is making, is to speed up deportations of the children of ‘undocumented’ immigrants with temporarily protected status under an Obama-era decree. Meanwhile his Republican apologists are brushing aside claims of hardship as 800 thousand federal workers face a second missed paycheck: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, until his appointment a director of a bank heavily sanctioned for money-laundering and run by the man who loaned Trump millions of dollars he has yet to pay back, being typically helpful in suggesting they could take out bank loans to pay their rent.

Other leading Republicans have suggested the government workers should be grateful they’re getting a free extension to the Christmas holiday, claiming that it’s a privilege to be able to make this sacrifice for the future of their country.

Is anyone else re-arming, and shouldn’t we be?

It surely ought to have clicked with poison-monkey Ross of all people, a man with a face like the portrait in his attic, that US banks wouldn’t even lend to Trump anymore. Banks only lend to customers with proven income.

It’s hard to see why the country is not engulfed in fire and fury against these fucking monstrous sons of bitches.

 

GW: sperm counts falling like snow

USA: “Parts of the Midwest and Northeast were still digging out Monday after Winter Storm Harper dumped 1-2 feet of snow in some locations and brought some of the coldest temperatures of the season. In the Northeast, the storm left behind a trail of thousands of flight cancelations, hundreds of crashes, thousands of homes without power and at least 10 dead. In addition to ice and snow, several states were dealing with coastal flooding on Sunday.” (from Floodlist)

“Two more blasts of bitterly cold air will dive across the central and eastern U.S. through next week, bringing widespread subzero temperatures to the Midwest while also keeping the South and Northeast shivering at times. Temperatures as low as minus 20F with -40F windchill are forecast for next week as far south as Missouri.” (The Weather Channel)

Africa: The Red Cross reports that torrential rain and flooding in Burundi has left at least 10 people dead and over 100 homes damaged or destroyed. The rain began late on 17 January, 2019, causing severe material damage. In Niger, emergency relief efforts are underway as extensive flooding around the capital, Niamey, has affected more than a thousand homes. (from Floodlist)

Madagascar: Heavy rainfall that began late on 19 January, 2019, has caused problems in the capital, Antananarivo. Local media say that several people have died, some are still missing and several were injured after buildings collapsed due to heavy rain, landslides and flooding. AFP news agency reports  the death toll is 9. (from Floodlist)

Australia: “At least 28 locations hit all-time highs on Thursday. In Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, the official West Terrace station rocketed to 46.6°C (115.9°F) … About 200 miles away, the city of Port Augusta hit its all-time high on Thursday with a blistering 49.5°C (121.1°F). … “the Red Rocks Point station—which faces Antarctica from the Nullarbor coast—hit 49.1°C (120.4°F): ‘the highest temperature recorded anywhere in the world at such a close distance (70 metres) from an open ocean.'”. (Wunderground)

“Around two dozen (later 90) wild horses in various stages of decomposition have been discovered strewn along a 100-metre stretch of a swimming spot called Deep Hole, 20 kilometres from the remote community of Santa Teresa.” (The watering hole has run dry. Deaths of wild camels are also being reported.) “The region has hit a record 12-day run of temperatures above 42C.” (ABC News)

Europe: “Yet another excessive snowfall event is developing across the western and northwestern Balkan peninsula through the middle of this week as a deep cyclone … pushes into the north-central Mediterranean region. Up to 20-50 cm of fresh snow is possible in many areas, locally even more. Severe winds will result in blizzard conditions in some areas. Up to 70-100 mm of rainfall is likely along the W coast of Greece. Also some very windy weather, particularly at higher elevations on Crete and islands in the eastern Aegean region, where peak winds will likely exceed 100 km/h.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Spain: “4 people have died in landslides and flooding caused by (three) days of heavy rains in northern Spain. One of the victims was swept away by flooding from an overflowing river in Tineo. The other victims died in separate incidents in Laviana, Mieres and Salas when their vehicles were either swept from the roads or caught in landslides.” (Floodlist)

And disturbing news for increasing numbers of migrants trying to reach Europe. Thanks to that deep Arctic low, “waves reaching maximum heights up to 10-14 meters are expected on Friday, pushing towards the eastern Mediterranean and affecting the coasts of (Algeria) Libya and western and southern Crete. Expect the waves to gradually diminish over the weekend.” (Severeweather.eu)

Visit the BBC’s weather service and marvel as a gurning Darren Bett prattles on about the jetstream keeping cold air hanging over the British Isles for a few days, while failing to remark that his graphic shows there is a huge broken loop trailing all the way from the Arctic down into the Sahel.

It’s not supposed to do that.

The living end…

High energy: The National Audit Office reveals, the British taxpayer is having to pick up the £24 billion bill for previously agreed tax reliefs for oil and gas companies decommissioning their North Sea drilling rigs, as the wells run dry. The figure is related to their tax-deductible losses, so the more money they can manage to lose, the more the Treasury is obliged to refund them.

Yellowstone: The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, there was a new swarm of quakes in the caldera over the weekend. Two larger quakes – M2.8 and M3.0 – hit close to Old Faithful geyser on the 21st. SO2 and ancient helium outgassing is seriously increasing; as is the upwelling magma, with continuing ground deformation, seismic drumbeats and tornillo waves, and rising ground and water temperatures.

If that’s not enough….

A new threat related to global warming has been identified: a decrease of ozone in the stratosphere. As warmer air becomes more laden with water vapor it’s allowing increasing amounts of life-ending UV-B radiation to reach the earth’s surface. Arctic News’ “Sam Carana” reports:

“Rising temperatures cause heat stress and infertility, and there are domino effects (especially for rising ocean methane emissions. GW). Furthermore, stratospheric ozone loss causes cancer and infertility. Only once the ozone layer formed on Earth some 600 million years ago could multicellular life develop and survive. Further loss of stratospheric ozone could be the fastest path to extinction for humanity, making care for the ozone layer imperative. As described in an earlier post, Earth is on the edge of runaway warming and a moist-greenhouse scenario means oceans are evaporating into the stratosphere with loss of the ozone layer.” http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/

Following that up, because Carana is an acquired taste, your Gran finds the following on NASA’s website:

“NASA scientists analyzing 30 years of satellite data have found that the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation reaching Earth’s surface has increased markedly over the last three decades. …UV-B damages DNA, causing a range of health problems such as skin cancer and diseases affecting the immune system.”

And from The Conversation, a report that finds extreme heatwaves can seriously damage male fertility:

“… (Red flour) beetles, and many cold-blooded animals, can live for years and are likely to see multiple heatwaves. When we exposed (beetle) males to two heatwave events, ten days apart, their offspring production was less than 1% of that of unheated males.” – Kris Sales, PhD researcher in evolution biology, University of East Anglia.

So keep fanning yer nuts, mateys, or we’re done fer!

 

 

The Warped and the Woof: a doggy shag story… The Demeaning of Life… Christmas is so over!… Another unwanted pres(id)ent… GW: Roasting Matilda. Your New Year edition of the BogPo starts here!

The BogPo and our friends over at The Pumpkin would like to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2019.

But we just can’t.

 

“Is that you Melanka? It’s Donald Trump here. I’m in some kind of forest, there may be rain. Can you call whoever is my Chief of Staff today to come get me out?”

The Warped and the Woof: a doggy shag story

“Britain’s dogs are becoming less fertile. Researchers who have systematically examined canine sperm over a span of 26 years say that overall sperm quality has been in decline. Environmental chemicals are implicated. And the study may throw light on the fertility changes in male humans.” (BBC Science report)

At one and the same time we are reminded, are we gnotte?, of the futility of existence.

On the one hand, you may say, there are too many people in the world. A decline in fertility, that has been noted – the average human birthrate globally is now only 2.4, not far off the point of non-replacement of populations – possibly due to plastics and their chemical emissions, may be seen as both a good and a bad thing. But worth researching.

On the other, discovering that your fate as an adult, having spent perhaps 20 years in fulltime education to emerge with a Doctorate of Philosophy specializing in biomedical science, is to be employed for 26 years to masturbate dogs and minutely examine the outcome; to know this, is more than a non-scientist can bear.

There surely has to be a higher purpose, as well as a statistical number, to existence.

 

The demeaning of life

And we find it, seemingly, in utter uselessness:

“The crash, at about 10am GMT, caused Amazon customers to complain about not being able to play festive songs, turn on their living room lights or get cooking instructions for Christmas dinner.”

Yes, throughout Europe no-one expanding until the surplus flesh consumed their sofa was able to put on the radio, recognize a light-switch and grasp its primary functions, or stick a fucking turkey in the oven with a fistful of packet stuffing and some cranberries up its arse.

Not without their little virtual assistant, whose circuits had become overloaded owing to the population of Alexas now exceeding that of the entire useless human race, reduced to complete helplessness as this little fucker cheerfully plays ‘We Built This City on Sausage Rolls’, this year’s Number One hit in Britain (yes, thanks to Brexit we have gone collectively crazy), while secretly sending messages back home to the big computer that works out what to sell you next, because you’re so glutted with stuff you no longer know what you want or need or are good for, financially. But that’s okay, here, have some more credit.)

I have tried not sneering at friends and relations who admit, with a little wiggle of shame and some suspicious coloration of the cheeks, that in their innocence and confusion they have already acquired one of these pernicious advertising devices, without realizing that this little tabletop fucker reports every fart, groan of pleasure or expression of disgust for the TV Christmas schedules back to its masters in California, even when it’s off.

But that’s okay, because it’s so useful to have a personal thing that can tell you to take an umbrella out in case those big lumpy gray things up there in the sky might contain water that could fall down and ruin your hair extensions.

You might want to look over on The Guardian website this morning, Boxing Day, and read about Amazon executives collaborating with the US security service in designing new systems for surveillance, and pause for a moment to wonder if there might be a connection?

Amazon and its evil owner, baldy Jeff Bezos, the world’s second-richest 1970s Dr Who villain, have enslaved the workforce everywhere, turning desperate workplace drones into abysmally paid bio-automata strapped to timing and management devices; having to pee in bottles to avoid sanctions for timing-out.

They’re doing the same to you in your home. You think Alexa is the robot? Think again. It’s you.

Already we’ve had the first instance of an Alexa advising its owner to kill his mother-in-law. A survey by NBC TV showed that 20% of Alexa owners ask for advice on boiling an egg.

I’m having none of it, myself. I can switch on my own light, thanks.

When I can afford it.

“We’ve got another one coming in, says he’s the Home Secretary and he’s missed his flight.” (Photo BBC/Lewis Morris)

Christmas is so over!

Speaking of selling us things, isn’t it just excessively aggravating on Boxing Day* to get a continuous trickle of pleading emails from retailers who spent £millions on trying to sell you stuff at bargain prices BEFORE Christmas, still pathetically wheedling the day after that it’s not too late to reconsider your decision not to buy anything from them, now that prices are even more affordable?

I accept that people have to make a living somehow. However, if you have ever visited parts of the world like Cairo or Marrakesh or New Delhi, you will know the misery of being constantly pursued through the bazaar by packs of barefoot street-Arabs with their grimy hands out, pleading for baksheesh; while indigent and portly carpet salesmen grasp at your clothing and try to hustle you into the Stygian gloom of their overstocked emporia, smelling badly of goats.

It’s all just a bit… undignified?

I have a modest proposal: ban all internet advertising on 26 December.

Just calm down, dears. Accept it:

It’s over.

*(for Americans, the day after Happy Holiday was when tradesmen in olden days would go around collecting small gratuities from their regular customers for the staff Christmas Box. It was in the days when shops used to deliv… er…, right.)

 

(Guitar bore alert)

Getting the Lowdown

And talking of dogs, the little cat, Cats, has instantaneously developed a relationship with my new guitar. What is that about?

I wrote a few days ago about how I dropped a chair on my old Taylor. I was being facetious, I didn’t ‘drop’ it exactly, the desk chair tipped over as I stood up painfully to pee (catchup: I pee by painful contraction into a bag attached to my leg, in some ways it’s quite handy) and the guitar was on its stand behind me where I can reach it easily, and the back of the chair… it’s a bit horrible to relate, actually.

Anyway, for some reason the price of guitars has crept up and up in recent years, it’s like the guitar industry is competing to see who can charge the most for a chunk of wood, a stick, some gloss paint and some wires. You’ll be expected to pay six or seven grand even for a solid-body Gibson Les Paul Custom ’59 these days. They only make thousands a year and they still haven’t conquered the neck-straining weight problem.

So I had to pitch the insurance company to cough up £500 more than I paid for the guitar three years ago, as that is the price of a new one today, if you can find one – the world of luthiery moves on. With their blessing, I took the opportunity to upgrade, and paid the difference to acquire at last one of the many guitars of my dreams – a Lowden.

This would be, I thought, a rare and fabulous thing, an instrument made and blessed by the great George Lowden himself – until the shop I bought it from followed yesterday morning’s exciting delivery with an email offering me a choice of 59 more they have in stock, just to remind me of how very not special I am; as if I haven’t spent my life knowing it.

It makes for well over 100 I have now found online

After scouring the internet for one I could afford, I now realize George is in the business of cashing in on his reputation for excellence by flooding the market with mass-manufactured guitars, albeit ‘hand-crafted’, which will undoubtedly affect the resale value should I ever need to sell it – which I usually do as I’m always running out of money.

My appreciation of the fabulous tone and sheer playability of my new Lowden, that are not really in doubt; my desire not to resell it, to hang on to it at all costs, has become sullied by mere commercial considerations. Happy New Year, George.

But Cats has no such apprehensions. Never a lap-cat, the moment I took it from its case and started appreciatively strumming a chord I know, she jumped up on the sofa beside me and tried to get onto my lap, pawing at me with a strange light in her eye. Fearful of another accident, I took the guitar back to its case and lovingly replaced it – it’s still a tight fit.

And since then I find her sitting speculatively on the lid of the case, which for reasons of space is lying flat across the arms of the armchair I never sit in, in the corner behind the door.

It could be the mildly pungent, not unpleasant smell of the new wood, the cedar and the rosewood, the mahogany, the varnish, combining to create a sort of musical catnip, I don’t know.

Whatever the reason, I got up late this morning and there was no sign of Cats, who often breakfasts at several houses across the dangerous road before trotting home to breakfast at hers.

I worry when she isn’t there by the time I’m dressed, she has a magical ability to sense from wherever she is in her world that I’m up and about and ready to feed her, and comes hurtling in through the bathroom window. She has invented a game where she stops on every step going downstairs, and I have to pretend to tread on her squidgily. One day she’ll break my neck; a fitting end, I sometimes think. But not today.

Anyway, coffee made and cooling, after carefully washing my hands I take out the guitar and start to play through the circle of fourths, whatever, and moments later as if by magic Cats appears in the doorway, a little barrel-shaped audience of one. Over in the corner, Hunzi balefully ignores us, the only things standing between him and his morning walk.

Patiently putting the guitar away again, together we go in the kitchen and open another packet of catfood and, as usual, she looks at me pityingly, as if to say, is this muck the best you can do? I get Beluga catviar across the street; and stalks off, tail twitching provocatively.

I guess if I serenade her, she’ll come back to finish it.

Little flirt.

 

And the Lowdown on Persuasion

An article in The Guardian by George Monbiot warning us of the dangers of advertising, as if Vance Packard hadn’t done that fifty years ago, offers a possible explanation for the seeming idiocy of offering me 59 more guitars, many like the one I just spent a barely affordable fortune on the previous day but several seductively planted among them, that cost twice as much.

It’s called ‘FOMO’, Fear Of Missing Out, and it’s a psychological technique designed to plant in my brain the worry that if I weren’t so inadequate I might have done even better, which will linger for months or years until I dissolve into a puddle of angst that my brilliant Lowden guitar is maybe not quite the best thing since hot buttered toast, and round we go again.

But George, that’s half the fun!

 

Oh, shit

Thinking of The Hidden Persuaders, there were two other seminal books warning us of the choppy seas our civilization was heading into, that came out at about the same time in the 1960s and early 70s.

Rachel Carson in Silent Spring drew our attention to the fact that the agrochemical industry was poisoning our world and shredding the web of life. EF Schumacher proposed a theory of Green economics, Small is Beautiful: ‘As if people mattered.’

Totally prescient, spot-on, and we’ve paid no attention whatsoever, and now thanks to neoliberal capitalism and the cult of the shareholder we’re in the shit up to our desperately pleading eyeballs.

 

Another unwanted pres(id)ent

The Pumpkin writes:

Mr Trump and the First Lady, who seems to have had a payrise recently as she no longer looks so miserable whenever she has to be in the same room as her everloving faithful-to-other-women hubby, descended with little notice on a Marine base in Iraq for festive selfies and another astonishing outburst of self-aggrandizement aimed at keeping his dumbfuck voter base happy while Mueller tightens the noose.

Not only did the gurning orange lunatic insist on posing for the White House TV channel with a supposedly clandestine bunch of Navy SEALs, completely uncensored, easily identified by unit and not even pixellated – thanks for the gross breach of normal security protocols, that could get them killed – claiming modestly that only since he became President has IS been defeated, which everyone is trying to tell him it hasn’t been – but he also told the assembled grunts that thanks to his persuasive charm they’d be getting a 10% – no, make it more! – payrise, the first raise they’ll have had in ten years!

Except that according to the fact-checkers they’ve had a payrise averaging 1.8% every year for the past thirty years, and 2.6% voted through already for 2019….

He is totally shameless.

And as he was terrified of leaving the security of the US base (not for himself, you understand, but for the safety of the First Lady – a creature made from sharpened iron nails, unlike ‘President Bone Spurs*) – the Iraqi Prime Minister refused to meet him on the grounds that visiting a US military base at Christmas was not a good look; while various local warlords, unaware of the visit in advance, are hopping up and down, threatening to throw the Yankee imperialists out of their country.

Well done, Donald, you and your gut sure know how to conduct foreign policy.

*As you know, back in the 1970s a chiropodist got him a draft deferment on grounds that he was afflicted with bone spurs on his feet. TYT has just reported, the late doctor’s daughters have confirmed that he had told them many times how Donald’s dad had paid him to make the diagnosis up.)

x

Norman invasion

French toll-roads operator Vinci has bought a controlling stake in Gatwick airport for £2.9 billion, adding to their collection of 46 airports around Europe, from the American investment fund owners, GIP, who appear to have lost on the deal as they’ve spent £2.9 billion over 10 years just on redecorating.

The deal comes as something of a disappointment to your Uncle Bogler, too, who has been suggesting for some time – ever since Boris Johnson as Mayor of London thought of creating an island in the Thames to get round the problem of where to site Heathrow’s third runway –  that Britain could lease a part of the otherwise pretty much useless but temptingly flat Pas de Calais to build another airport for London, only 90 minutes away by Eurostar train.

Too late now. Instead, we have another French company owning a major capital asset in the south of England, and Paris gets its sixth airport. Welcome to post-Brexit Europe.

UB sees too that Vinci owns Lyon St Exupèry, where he had one of the weirdest experiences of his life, having to persuade the staff to call out an engineer at 2 a.m. to free his mobile phone from a charging booth, only to realize with a frisson of horror that his (identical) phone was still in his pocket, and spending the rest of the night hiding under an overpass until his flight was called….

 

The 2019 Pointless Endeavor Award goes to M. Jean-Jacques Savin, a 71-year-old Frenchman and former paratrooper, who has set off in a bid to become the first person to float freely across the Atlantic in a ten-foot wooden barrel.

One off the bucket-list.

 

GW: Roasting Matilda

Australia: A “Christmas heatwave continues to sweep across the country, with a near record-breaking 49C (120F) forecast for Western Australia, and fire danger, health and air quality warnings issued across the nation. By 8.40am on Thursday (20 Dec) Marble Bar had already recorded 43.4C, with the worst of the heat to come. It later hit 49.3C. Temperatures in the south are 10C to 14C higher than average, the bureau said on Wednesday.” (BBC News) “Catastrophic” fire conditions are anticipated as winds pick up.

And who would want to live in…

USA: “Two powerful winter storms were moving across the country Friday, one bringing blizzard conditions to the northern Plains and Upper Midwest and a second spreading heavy snow from Arizona to the Texas Panhandle. The heaviest snowfall is likely in central and eastern New Mexico, with up to 2 feet in the highest terrain. Strong winds will accompany the snowfall, bringing the possibility of blizzard conditions.” 2 dead.

“In the Southeast, as of late Thursday almost 50 million people were under flood watches. Widespread rainfall, locally heavy at times, will continue to spread north and eastward from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Mid-Atlantic. Flooding and flash flooding will be a threat throughout Friday.

Saturday: Rain and thunderstorms are drenching areas from the northern Gulf Coast to the eastern Carolinas. Clara, Mississippi, recorded 11.5 inches of rainfall. (The Weather Channel) Six eastern states had their wettest-ever year, Mount Mitchell in North Carolina receiving just on 140 cm, 55 in. Climate change? Meteorologist Bob Henson writes: “…rainfall amounts in some places were larger than anything produced by natural variability in the last hundred-plus years.”

“Severe thunderstorms that could spawn tornadoes were also forecast in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and western Tennessee late Thursday. Storms were also possible for parts of Iowa, western Illinois and northern Missouri. (from USA Today)

“Stanford Earth System Science Professor Noah Diffenbaugh stated that atmospheric conditions for California wildfires are expected to worsen in the future because of the effects of climate change.” Wikipedia concludes: “The 2018 wildfire season (was) the most destructive and deadly wildfire season on record in California, with a total of 8,527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres (766,439 ha).” Human cost: 98 civilians, 6 firefighters. (USA Today)

A report in Scientific American proposes that there have been two civilization-ending ‘megadroughts’ in the West and northern Mexico in the past 1200 years, and the past 19 years suggests that a third is in progress. The region has warmed by 1.5 degrees in the past 120 years and the resulting increase in transpiration means what rainfall there is has less effect in the soil – a classic feedback loop.

The Philippines: “More than 60 people have died after a powerful storm struck the Philippines (29 Dec.), with locals reportedly taken by surprise by its strength. Storm Usman hit the Bicol region southeast of capital Manila on Saturday”, triggering landslides. “At least 17 people are missing and the death toll is expected to rise.” (BBC) More than 40 thousand people have been displaced by flooding.

Indonesia: “The death toll from a landslide that crashed into a hilly village on Indonesia’s main island of Java has risen to 15 after rescuers found 6 more bodies buried in the mud on Tuesday.” (Guardian) 30 houses were buried. “Seasonal rains” have triggered dozens of landslips and caused extensive flooding.

Iceland: Against the average daytime temperature at this time of year of 36F, 2C, Reykjavik yesterday was enjoying a balmy 48F, 9C. Many people in parts of Canada are also complaining that it’s still up in the 50s. It’s been mild here in the west of the UK too, under a gray blanket of cloud we haven’t seen the sun since the day before Christmas Eve.

Observing the isobars over the shoulder of the BBC Weather presenter, Louise Lear, as she summarises the prospects for the New Year week ahead, what they are clearly not talking about are the atmospheric rivers streaming up into the Arctic, and the intense lows – three of them – pushing warm water and high waves up past Greenland. What used to be an east>west flow of winds now seems almost permanently south>north; as evidenced by the relentless storm pattern in the eastern US – while a view of the circumpolar jetstream, presented in a voice betraying no alarm or even curiosity, shows it forming huge, lazy southward loops and breaks betokening even greater weather contrasts and stormy arctic conditions for the eastern USA.

Europe: A powerful cyclone is bringing very windy conditions and high waves to Finland and the Baltic states. The storm has been cited as the probable cause of a railway accident in Denmark that killed 6. More significantly, a ‘Sudden Stratospheric Warming’ event up in the polar region in which temperatures in the  frigid upper atmosphere may rise 60C above normal in a few days is likely to cause a lengthy spell of very cold weather in northern Europe and a warming trend in the Arctic from about the third week in January. (Severe-weather.eu).

And…

Yellowstone: The Steamboat geyser (biggest in the park) – The Blessed Mary Greeley reports eruption number 32 since March, on Christmas Day; crowning an excessively active year. The previous record year saw 29 in 1964; however most years get only two or three and several in the record none at all.

Cartoon of the Year

Welcome to the week’s only Brexit and Trump-free zone! : Remember God?… The Office of Petty Cash Deceits… GW: I could go on singeing…Dear Joanna Rowling…

Quote of the Week

“Seemingly every cabinet job these days is … a Pygmalion-like plot in which two unseen financiers have decided, for a bet, to pass off a rejected Family Fortunes contestant as a secretary of state.”

– Marina Hyde, writing in The Guardian (edited extrcat)

Welcome to the week’s only mostly Brexit and Trump-free zone!

Progress report:

7,162 households in the UK are still watching TV on black & white sets.

 

“I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this…”

 

“This is getting really, really – like, bloody intolerably – intrusive.”

Remember God?

Uncle Bogler writes:

Can it be coincidence?

I’ve just been browsing idly through a story on the BBC News website.

It’s a piece, not very relevant to me, about the lethal air quality in the Indian capital, New Delhi, 20 times worse than the WHO limit, and how everyone fears the Diwali festival fireworks are about to make it ten times worse again.

But you know religion, right? God made fireworks compulsory for all Mankind. Interfere with that at your peril.

And I think to myself: I live right on a thundering main road in the outskirts of Boglington, a busy seaside town. It’s the main arterial route for all the commercial and vacation traffic that needs to come into town, as well as the school-run.

There’s no bypass.

Twice a day the traffic is backed up for an hour in either direction, engines idling. The rest of the day, trucks and tankers and vans and cars and huge, three-tiered animal transports reeking of sheep-fear come hurtling through, on a blind bend, at speeds well in excess of the 30 mph limit, and nobody does a thing to stop them. Every other main road in the county is emblazoned with traffic-calming measures: bumps and chicanes and active, flashing warning signs. Not this one.

I’ve been here almost seven years now, shouting in the street like a mad old man at speeding drivers, and have in the past few years suffered from streaming eyes and constant runny or blocked nose and minor chest congestion, that I haven’t had since I left the city, 30 years ago. The stonework in my front garden is black, the windows gray, and a fine dust drifts past the double-glazing to coat my frontroom furniture, muh li’l laptop.

All very minor, but a clear indication that pollution levels here in Boglington are probably not good.

Not as bad as Delhi, I grant, but not great. And I’m always reading that nitrogen dioxide (N02, that you get from diesel fumes) is a contributory factor to childhood obesity, asthma, Type 2 diabetes, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and various cancers; not to mention Scrofula, DuPuytren’s Contracture, Capgras’ Delusion and Blue Skin Disorder.

So, I know! I think (to myself, it’s just me and Hunzi and Cats here) wouldn’t it be a great notion to get one of those air quality sniffers and, if the results are bad enough, fire off a report to the local authority, cc our MP, The Guardian, demanding action? Sue someone, even, maybe?

And so I duly open up my desktop link to Amazon – which, along with all the other websites I regularly visit, has for some unknown reason taken to demanding I log-in again manually – and when I manage to log-on, before I have even turned to the Shopping page, it has already flagged up four offers on…

…air quality monitors.

This is getting really, really – like, bloody intolerably – intrusive.

“Google is both that all-seeing, all-knowing parental entity in the sky AND the creepy blueprint for the creation of a replacement planet…”

In an email exchange with my ex-wife yesterday, I explained that I had mislaid my phone, hence the silence, and she suggested phoning me to hear where in the house the ringtone was coming from, and Google instantly offered me, basically, an auto-reply message that said, ‘Yes, please do that’.

Get outta my face!

The other week, I was having an email discussion with a guitar dealer, we’d just got to the difficult money part and Google was already offering me: “I’ve transferred the money to your account.” (I hadn’t. I didn’t. I backed out, dear Reader, balking at the large commitment when it became clear, no more affordable deferred payment plan was on offer.)

Now, that intervention by a third-party entity that has no business in my business is, to my mind, a gross breach of client confidentiality, and Google must be made to understand, they cannot poke around in people’s financial affairs with impunity.

It’s like having a guest living in your house, who can’t resist interfering at every turn. If I wanted an Alexa, or Siri, or a fucking domestic robot, I would buy one. I don’t want one, which is why I haven’t bought one. Have you noticed that, Amazon? That there are more things I don’t buy, than stuff I do? That looking is not touching?

There is no such thing as a helpful intervention. It’s all just bloody annoying. If I want something, I know where to find it; know how to ask. I’m not a child. People say, oh, but you can switch it off! Just go into Settings! Well, switching off auto-reply doesn’t prevent the algorithm from capturing and analysing your emails in the first place.

You remember God?

You know, the universal gizmo that counts the hairs on your head and the sparrows falling from the sky? That knows absolutely everything about you and everything else? Like your mom?

That thing that never leaves you alone, always nagging you, offering you hope then whipping it away again with a hollow laugh, the tyrant that as a species we’ve only just begun learning how to rid ourselves of?

It seems to me, Google is both that all-seeing, all-knowing parental entity in the sky AND the creepy comprehensive blueprint for the creation of a replacement planet: Earth 11, when we’re through trashing this one with our Free Will and our restless and insensate acquisitiveness; our Shareholder Value and our consumer technology.

In the meantime, they’re using all that information to turn us into data and sell us to their advertisers, on the basis of some perfectly innocent enquiry on a completely different internet platform that their shitty algorithms have been slily watching you blunder around on.

As the Wise Ones say, if it’s free then you’re the product.

So now I’ve gone off the whole idea of a pollution monitor. A box of tissues and an early death will have to do.

If you’re reading this, Google, Amazon, I have a message for you.

You already know what it is.

 

The Office of Petty Cash Deceits

It’s almost impossible to beat the following heads of the story, reported in The Guardian, of yet another horrible Home Office clusterfuck, that appears to have arisen out of a policy of vicious domestic racism combined with positively Christian charity for the undeserving poor:

“The government has been ordered to make back-payments to victims of trafficking that are likely to reach more than £1m, after a high court judge ruled that Home Office cuts to their support payments were unlawful. The ruling followed the department’s decision in March to reduce support payments to people it accepted were victims of trafficking from £65 per week to £37.75, a fall of 42%.

“The Home Office defended the change by saying it wanted to bring levels of support to victims of trafficking in line with support levels for destitute asylum seekers.” (Guardian)

What? So the most “destitute” people deserve the lowest level of support of all? That’s helpful, especially when they’re not permitted to earn money. And a “victim of trafficking”, a concept of brutal sexual slavery poorly understood by your average Home-Office box-wallah, they’re to be made destitute too, are they? On less than forty quid a week? An indifferent lunch? Oh, thank you, kind Masters.

“K. was a 30-year-old Albanian woman who fell into the hands of sex traffickers after she refused to get engaged to a man her family had selected for her. She was subjected to sexual exploitation and forced prostitution in Albania then passed to two Albanian men who brought her to London in January 2017, locked her in a room, drugged her and threatened to kill her if she didn’t do as she was told. She was kept in isolation and forced to have sex with seven to eight men every day.

“The support levels were cut soon after the government announced in October last year that it was going to ‘radically improve the support for victims of human trafficking and modern slavery’.”

This Orwellian doublespeak is becoming quite terrifying. Mrs May blithely announces the end of austerity, Mr Hammond budgets a bit extra here and there, potholes and so on, but analysis after the media smokescreen clears finds austerity hasn’t been ended at all: 40 per cent cuts in vital areas affecting poorer people: local authority grants, the care sector and police spending are still going ahead; along with the mindbogglingly inept Universal Credit scheme that is beggaring thousands.

How much are the wealthy getting in tax breaks and loopholes for offshoring their ill-gotten gains and hedging their global casino bets, at everyone else’s expense? Where’s their fucking austerity?

And MPs, what was their payrise last year, an extra £12,000 a year, pretty much what I live on – in return for their pusillinimous support for Article 50, when two-thirds of the halfwits appeared to have forgotten they privately voted Remain in the referendum?

How long can this omnishambles go on?

Ah, well, you see, speaking from on high, a spokesman for God, Mr Jesus bar-Joseph defended the practise, explaining that, “It’s always been Tory policy that ‘unto him that hath, shall be given; while from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away’.”

Thank the same God, if you must, for the British courts, backed up as they usually are by the European Court of Justice on these matters. Basically, they don’t put up with this indefensible shit from the EDL skinheads at the Home Office, and neither should we.

But that’s now. After next March, Big Bruvver from Brussels won’t be watching.

 

Forever young

“Emile Ratelband, a 69-year-old Dutch “positivity guru” who says he does not feel his age, has started a battle to make himself legally 20 years younger on the grounds that he is being discriminated against on a dating app.” (Guardian)

He’s the same age as me! I’m so encouraged by this, I’m considering applying to a court to be legally declared dead, so I don’t have to live in Jacob Irish-Mogg’s 1950s Britain, tugging my forelock to Iain Duncan Cunt. There’d be no requirement to  receive more bilingual mailshots from Plaid Cymru, or for my next passport to have to have a blue cover.

Though I guess Heer Ratelband might not be so happy when the court says, fine, but you’ll have to hand your pension back….

A vision of Hell: Paradise, Cal., (pop: 27,000), made famous by the Joni Mitchell song, was almost totally destroyed in The Camp Fire.

GW: I could go on singeing

USA: “Conditions are ripe for explosive wildfire development over large parts of California. The most immediate threat on Thursday morning was a fast-spreading fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills a few miles east of Chico. Dubbed the Camp Fire, the blaze grew from inception to cover more than 5000 acres in just three hours, according to CAL FIRE. Much of the city of Paradise has been evacuated, and some motorists attempting to leave were reportedly stuck in gridlock (and had to run for thei lives). … More than 10 million people are in the extremely-critical risk area.” (Bob Henson, Wunderground)

Speedy update 10 Nov: Paradise has been almost completely incinerated, 23 confirmed dead, over 100 missing, 6,300 properties destroyed and mass evacuations are going on around Malibu, site of the Woolsey Fire, 2 dead, in the south. Kim Khardashian had to be evacuated, along with Lady Gaga, Will Smith and many other celebs. Reports of looting. 16 fires now burning in the state. Thousands of properties are threatened. Air quality in the San Francisco Bay area was described as “extremely dangerous” for people with respiratory ailments. Trump has approved federal emergency funding. (BBC, et al)

“California temperatures were the hottest for any July-to-September period in 124 years of recordkeeping. Sacramento is having one of the ten driest starts to the wet season in its history, receiving a meager 0.04” on the only day of rain since October 1.” (Wunderground) Large areas of California are experiencing what is known as “negative rainfall”, i.e. more moisture is evaporating from the ground than is falling from the sky. No rain is forecast for the coming week.

President Ignorant Fat Cunt tweeted: “There was no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor.” He also threatened to withhold funds, due to “gross mismanagement of the forests”. He does not have Clue One about it, but it plays to the dumbfucks.

Indonesia: At least 4 people have died in floods and landslides in two provinces of Indonesia over the last few days. 2 died during floods around Padang, West Sumatra. Heavy rain has also caused flooding and landslides in West Java. Flood water as deep as 1.8 metres was reported in some areas. 2 people have died and around 50 families affected. Roads have been blocked and bridges damaged, leaving some communities cut off. 231 mm of rain fell in 24 hours to 06 November in Pacitan Regency, East Java. (Edited from Floodlist report)

Middle East: “Unusually heavy rain has caused flash-flooding in Kuwait, Iraq and Iran. 14 dead. Bushehr in Iran recorded 67mm in 24 hours to 07 Nov. Mean total precipitation for November is 27.3mm. This is the second major flood event in the Middle East within the space of 2 weeks. During late October, 2018, heavy rain caused flooding in Syria, northern Iran and Jordan, where at least 21 people died.” (Floodlist). On 20 October, it was reported, Qatar experienced more than a normal year’s worth of rain in just 6 hours.

Brazil: 10 killed and 11 injured in a mudslide near Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, caused by heavy downpours. People were killed and injured when a large boulder rolled on top of six houses in the Boa Esperança neighbourhood. “It rained a lot over the past two days and a state of alert was declared. People were advised of the situation and were recommended to move to safer locations. Several families “refused to leave”. (Guardian)

Scandinavia: Parts of Norway experienced temperatures up to 19.3C, 66.74F, 8 Nov., as a plume of warm air pushed up across Germany into the Baltic. The average temperature in Norway for November is 5C.

Wales, UK: More than 1,000 properties were left without power during heavy rain and wind which brought flooding and travel disruption. Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire saw the worst of the weather with some homes in Milford Haven under 10ft (3m) of water. (BBC, 09 Nov.) Do we make a fuss?

Boglington-on-Sea: the weather feels pretty much like Norway here today. Promised a cyclonic storm was on its way, with 65 mph gales, high seas and heavy rain, we went out for our walk under a uniform gray sky. Soon, the cold breeze dropped and within minutes, even with the sun behind thick cloud I was gently perspiring in the November warmth. That was the upper half. Next thing, I wet myself; having forgotten to put on a nappy this morning while changing to a fresh bag. Catheters leak, making heavy rain and gales unnecessary to one’s discomfort. No, my clinic appointment hasn’t come through yet. Thanks for asking. Bit blowy out, 1.5-in. rain, nothing special.

Last Orders Please…

Yellowstone: Normally erupting once or twice a year, if at all, the big Steamboat geyser goes up for the 26th time this year on 09 Nov. Associated Arch Steam Vent turns to Arch Mud Vent – huge outburst, biggest since 1967, complete with “implosions” – sinkholes full of muddy water, sucking their own gas bubbles back down…

 

Magical Realism

It was reported yesterday that JK Rowling, the multi-millionaire author, is suing her former PA for £24 thousand she claims she abstracted in phony expenses, credit card overruns and cash transactions; including what seemed like strangely magical sums – £thousands said to have been spent on totally trivial, day-to-day items like make-up; and mailing out suspiciously expensive Harry Potter merchandise apparently worth hundreds of pounds per item, that doesn’t seem to have reached its intended destinations.

As nothing added up in the way one feels it should, raising questions about what exactly has gone wrong, it seemed natural to write to the well-remunerated but notoriously spiky auteuse with a mild Armistice-week rebuke on behalf of the downtrodden servant class:

 

Dear JK Rowling

I hope you don’t mind me writing to you, you must be frantically busy. This is not a plea for money; rather, the opposite.

I was born, as they say, on “the wrong side of the blanket” – my father had run away on the stage and met a beautiful young soubrette – into a wealthy banking family. I owe my education to my American grandmother, but I was miserable at my private schools and never went to university. In my career I pursued many opportunities, having short-lived successes in many fields, mainly writing and editing texts of all kinds.

In 1995 I suffered a business bankruptcy. We surrendered our home, took the children from their private schools and ended up, perhaps fortuitously, in a cottage on a remote hillside in rural mid-Wales.

We farmed sheep, grew veg., made our own electricity, pumped our own rat-infested well-water and entertained the children, there being no TV or internet, reading Dickens and, yes, one-by-one as they arrived in the local library, eagerly anticipated, all your Harry Potter books. (Our now 29-year-old daughter is still a mad fan.)

Finding work was difficult. I did gardening and cleaning jobs for £5 an hour; but the marriage didn’t survive. And then in 2005, I answered an ad in the local paper and the following week found myself occupying a set of sparsely furnished, unheated rooms at the back of a dilapidated, partly derelict Grade One-listed Georgian mansion hidden-away in a wooded valley, the live-in Estate Manager.

I was now “in service”. But at least there was a roof over my head (rather leaky!)

An East End boy made good, the wealthy new owner lived eight thousand miles away and travelled incessantly, descending on his “stately home” for perhaps two or three weeks’ of the year swanking about. The rest of the time, with one very underpaid part-time assistant, I was left entirely in charge.

Fully half of my munificent £14 thousand a year salary went on child maintenance and other family support. A few weeks into the job, as there was no-one else there, I was instructed to go to court and apply for the entertainments and alcohol sales licences, and open a hotel.

On-call 24 hours a day (the contract said 37.5 hours a week, but who else was there?), I took no holiday for five years. I’d became a hotelier, faute de mieux, rattling around a grim-looking, reputedly haunted house; operating with worn-out legacy equipment and tired, broken furnishings. One evening I heard a car doing a rapid U-turn on the driveway, and shortly afterwards the travel agent phoned to say her client was complaining that she’d been sent to an abandoned building. In vain, I protested that I’d just been awarded three red diamonds for hospitality by the AA!

My duties as “Peeves” now expanded somewhat. Here is an actual list:

  • Business manager
  • Hospitality manager
  • Wedding organizer
  • Marketing & PR manager
  • Housekeeper, purchasing supplies
  • Cook, of guests’ delicious organic breakfasts and occasional table d’hôte dinners
  • Waiter
  • Barman/”Designated Premises Supervisor”/potboy
  • Cleaner
  • Laundryman
  • ‘Plongeur’ – the dishwasher was broken. (Try washing-up for 150 after a 4-course wedding breakfast….)
  • Gardener/forester
  • Driver (for the owner, when present)
  • General maintenance man
  • Night security guard

The job description ran to eight A4 pages. I know, because my first job was to write it. I also had to deal with legal and local authority finance matters, environmental policy, market research, management planning, defining quality standards, sourcing and obtaining grants, appointing and managing architects and contractors, interior design specification; complying with the Licensing Act 2003 and many other relevant statutes, of which my employer had not the slightest idea.

Thanks to my knowledge of UK business and rural affairs, I saved or sourced £’000s for my employer, with little sign of recognition. An excited email to tell him I’d managed to get him a rarely available business development grant of up to £2.5 million was met with incomprehension: he didn’t want anyone going through his company books, so he turned it down. After three years I had a small payrise.

But he could read a balance sheet blindfolded. By repute, he ruthlessly micromanaged his core businesses, literally to the penny. Thus I was also expected to produce monthly accounts.

*

Despite giving my time endlessly for very little reward, I felt I was constantly under suspicion. The owner was not unfriendly; just excessively cautious. I confess, I have poor admin skills; I’m a doer, not a counter. But despite producing many costed reports and proposals, I was given no budgets to cover the many areas I now had responsibility for.

The owner’s maxim was always: “You make the money, then you can have the investment.” But hotels don’t work like that! The guests are buying-in to quality.

Of course, I wasn’t able to make money: there were only three habitable bedrooms to begin with. Obliged to use outside caterers, our profit margin was less than 4 per cent; heating bills alone were £1,000 a month – sixteen room-nights, as I saw it. Average bookings were fewer than six, although we could be busy during graduation week and at Christmas.

Then, when the C18th sewage system failed and we were overrun with rats, threatened with closure, I had to break it to the owner that he was in for a £60-thousand bill and weeks of upheaval… Something else I was never forgiven for, although somehow I kept the business running through it all.

To cover daily expenses, I’d been given a credit card with a spending limit of £1,000. Out here, few small contractors and service businesses take cards, and the debts of the previous owners were legendary: it was always “cash on the nail”, as it was with the casual staff, students I had to hire-in for weddings. But paying cash is illegal. I couldn’t put it through the books; while with such erratic custom, stock control was a nightmare, leading to considerable wastage.

Whatever I couldn’t cover from petty cash had to go on the card and somehow be explained. The owner had no real idea of the expenses the place ran to, his view was entirely rose-tinted. In everyone’s opinion it needed major refurbishment, but he would always plead poverty – refusing even to carry out the urgent safety measures recommended by experts year after year. (The fire station manager described it as “a death-trap”).

So, to (as I thought) relieve the pressure, I hired a part-time bookkeeper. The only applicant was a woman who affected to be a “hotel management consultant”. The moment she saw the house, her eyes widened. And that was when the whispering campaign started, that I was running off with the profits.

It soon transpired – I’m not an idiot – that a) this individual was basing her sly accusations on what she thought a “posh” country house hotel ought to be making, without any appreciation of the actual trading conditions; and b) she owed a business favour to a sleeping partner whose son had just graduated and was in need of my job.

Rapidly, the hooks went in to my absent employer. I found myself sidelined over matters about which, frankly, she hadn’t a clue. She was one of the most ignorant people I’d ever met. I realized then, the owner would always take the word of an outsider who charged him more for their advice than I cost on my lowly pay grade.

The card was taken away: it was cash or cheque.

At long last, I managed to persuade my employer that the building was genuinely uninsurable. No insurance = no licence. I warned that he could be legally liable to a huge fine or even prison if we kept trading. While he set about raising money to turn the place into the bookkeeper’s dream of a “5-star hotel”, I (the gardener!) was to appoint conservation architects and brief them to carry out the conversion works.

After two-and-a-half more years, living in what had become a building site: missing floorboards, constant hammering and drilling, frozen in winter, sometimes without water or electricity, my title downgraded to “Caretaker”, in 2012 I was paid off with just statutory redundancy. “We need”, the owner announced portentously, “a proper manager.” My successor required a staff of 12 and lasted, I believe, eight months in the job.

And that’s the story of how I found myself in private service, Joanna. Ten per cent of it. I spent years trying to find a similar position, with no success whatever; and eventually retired on the State pension.

Your relationship with Amanda is absolutely none of my business, I know, I have only the “facts” as presented in a BBC News report. But I hoped by writing to you at length about my own experience of being employed as a domestic servant, put in such an impossible position, that I might somehow make a difference; if there is one to be made. I can’t believe anyone actually enjoys being in litigation.

You know how, in Victorian romantic novels, the honest servant always gets the blame and ends up in the colonies, or the workhouse? Well, we don’t always thoroughly deserve it; although I will own up to borrowing a bottle of wine every now and then, when I had no money left to buy my own; subsisting at times on the leftovers from the meals I cooked, sometimes at 11 o’clock at night when the guests finally showed up.

One more short story:

In Gloucestershire we had a neighbour, the legendary TV producer Linda A., who’d sold her production company for many £millions and was living life in the Grand Manor next door to our mould-infested cottage. One day, her odd-job man left her brand-new, £40 thousand Mercedes unlocked with the key in the ignition (therefore uninsured) while he went to pay for petrol, and when he came back it was gone. Linda just shrugged, drank some more champagne and ordered another one.

So, I’m sorry for your loss, Ms Rowling. It seems relatively trivial, financially speaking; the broken trust is probably worth more to you, I concede.

I’m nevertheless firmly of the belief that if I have learned two lessons after almost 70 years on Planet Earth, they are: 1) never buy a listed Georgian mansion without a structural survey, and 2) never come between a wealthy person and their money. Oh, and 3) with forgiveness comes tranquility (it’s Armistice week).

I hope you can forgive my impertinence; no reply is necessary.

Sincerely, etc.

PS – More Cormoran Strike!

 

Trunk calls

Finally for real magic, there’s an artist from the north of England called Paul Barton.

Paul has a very strange project you’re gonna love. He plays classical piano to blind and retired elephants on a reserve in the Thai jungle.

I cannot think of a more worthwhile pursuit. It’s incredibly moving. Catch him on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYlfhKhPbe0 and more.

The Pumpkin – Issue 67: No cigar… If, maybe, then (20 October LATEST)… Warren Peace… Trump’s Khashoggi Register… GW: A perfect day for a snooze.

“The US Government’s $523 billion in interest payments to service its debt in 2018 – the highest ever – was more than the entire economic output of Belgium this year.” – Huffington Post.

“The deficit jumped 17 percent (or by $113 billion) to $779 billion at the end of Trump’s first fiscal year, according to final figures released Monday by the Treasury Department.” (TYT) So much for Trump’s economic competence, then. (It’s mainly down to his tax cuts and so will be a lot worse when they’ve had a full year to bed in.)

 

“How dare you say my friend Bin is guilty before we’ve even agreed he’s innocent? Here we go again!”

Lock her up!

“This is a con on such a scale, he even has his own currency!”

No cigar

A major investigation by ProPublica into the workings of the Trump business empire has revealed that he and his family might have been lying their heads off for years about the great deals they do.

In the process, they’ve built a reputation through canny use of the media and assiduous marketing of the brand, that has persuaded a lot of ambitious, unsuspecting spivs in many shithole countries into wanting some of that Trump magic stardust, that’s been paid for by other people, to rub off on them.

They’d better count their fingers.

It’s not really that shocking or surprising that Trump lies constantly about the value of his investments, and who his business partners are, but here it all is in black and white, with a damning “No Comment” forthcoming from the White House.

And we have the gigantic New York Times revelations about his father’s business practises, his creative accounting and huge non-repayable loans to the boy Donald to back all this up: the Trump family has been mired in sleaze, these dogged investigators allege, for three generations.

More than self-made, it’s said, he’s a self-invented man: a conman, in other words. It’s all been done on borrowed money and illegal transfers, And his children are part of a well-trained act, each with their own role to play. Less a family, than a gang.

Trump lies that he merely licenses his name to projects around the globe, and that developers – many of whom turn out adventitiously to be the most enormous crooks and politicians, some of whom even end up in gaol – revere his manufactured reputation so much as a triumph of gangster capitalism, they are happy to pay millions of dollars just to put the word Trump on the outside of their buildings; while daughter Ivanka dabbles in a bit of high-tone interior design, ensuring that mysterious Trump je ne sais quoi (mostly at the expense of endangered species) is stamped through every project.

In fact, says ProPublica, as has already been revealed here and there, not least in Adam Davidson’s sterling work for the NYT, they are involved with those developments up to their fat necks, using borrowed money to sweeten deals and then walking off with the pot. As Davidson writes in a new piece for The New Yorker today, “It is becoming increasingly clear that, in the language of business schools, the Trump Organization’s core competency is in profiting from misrepresentation and deceit and, potentially, fraud.”

An ambitious hotel and condominium project in Panama, for instance, the 1,000-apartment “Trump Ocean Club”.

“Trump licensed his name for an initial fee of $1 million. But that was just the beginning of the revenue streams, a lengthy and varied assortment that granted him a piece of everything from sales of apartment units (5%, win or lose – the cheaper they sold, the higher his cut) to a cut of minibar sales, and was notable for the myriad ways in which both success and failure triggered payments to him.

“Consider the final accounting: In the wake of the project’s bankruptcy, a 50 percent default rate and his company’s expulsion from managing the hotel, Donald Trump walked away with between $30 million and $55 million.” (ProPublica)

They’re not always so successful, as may be evidenced by Ivanka Trump’s inveterate lying about her sometimes non-existent sales numbers to try to persuade buyers to sign up for apartments even before they were built. (We knew already that she and Jared barely escaped prosecution for this practise in New York in 2016, when the case against them was suddenly dropped. It may shortly be reopened, if it is shown that the prosecutor, Cyrus Vance*, took money to close it down. An investigation is underway.)

His dubious relationship with investment bank, Bear Stearns (one of the rotten financial institutions at the heart of the banking crisis, it collapsed in 2008 and was picked up for next to nothing by JP Morgan-Chase), seems too to have been based on optimistic overvaluations of his assets, aimed at conning investors into buying virtually worthless development bonds issued against Trump’s non-existent wealth.

This is a con on such a scale, he even has his own currency.

Many of the apartment sales in Trump Ocean Club seem merely to have been a vehicle for laundering money:

“For example, some buyers bought blocks of units. Purchases were typically made anonymously through shell corporations registered in Panama. That allowed some buyers to change the ownership of the unit in secret, simply by changing the ownership of the company. They often used so-called bearer shares, allowing a stake in a company to be transferred simply by (anyone) passing a piece of paper.”

But the units hadn’t been bult! This was typical of the activity exposed by the leak of the so-called Panama Papers from the legal offices of Mossack-Fonseca. Some figures connected with the sales had dodgy connections of their own:

“One high-selling broker, Alexandre Ventura Nogueira, was linked to money laundering by Global Witness and a joint Reuters-NBC investigation. Nogueira confirmed in that article that some of his partners and investors on the Trump Panama project had connections to the Russian mafia. … Among the buyers Nogueira landed was a Colombian businessman who was subsequently convicted in the United States of conspiring to launder drug money.”

All, of course, denied: all there was on paper was Trump’s hands-off licensing deal, and his massive, totally manufactured, reputation as a Great Businessman.

Sure you would be wary – but if you thought you were beating him, a bigly successful guy like Trump, with all those women and a gold airplane, you’d invest.

The art of making money, Trump-style, appears to be: find a mark – preferably impressionable small fry with bigger fish in the background – borrow as much as possible – it turned out, he didn’t have a penny of his own money invested in the Panama complex – set up the biggest, most prestigious development deal you can sell to unwitting punters and crims needing to launder a few million dollars – make whatever you can out of them legitimately – go bankrupt – cut a deal with the lenders, payback half – sue everyone, and walk away with the rest.

A pattern ProPublica describes as “Pump and Trump”.

But all this is currently under investigation by the Mueller team – and Trump knows it. To the Pumpkin, what is emerging is that he’s discovered the equivalent of those spectacular TV or Las Vegas magic acts; say, Penn and Teller, or David Copperfield. Taking simple magic tricks, by scaling them up a thousand percent – instead of a rabbit, you produce a live tiger out of the hat – same trick, biggest scale money can buy – even an elephant, the more spectacular the better, you can walk away with $millions rather than mere $thousands.

You have to admire him, really. Especially as you kind of suspect Ivanka is the brains behind the whole scam!

Eventually, a group of genuine Ocean Club buyers sued Trump and the development partners for misrepresentation: the case was settled out of court, and since then no-one involved has been willing to talk about it. Presumably the famous Non-Disclosure Agreements with which Trump saws all his victims’ legs off have come into play.

To obtain entry to the three-ring financial circus that is the First Family of the United States of America, that shining city on a hill, if you have an hour or two to spend, go to ProPublica:

features.propublica.org/trump-inc-podcast/trump-family-business-panama-city-khafif/

And to The New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/news/swamp-chronicles/is-fraud-part-of-the-trump-organizations-business-model?mbid=nl_Daily 101818&CNDID=49581041&utm_source=Silverpop&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily 101818&utm_content=&spMailingID=14457406&spUserID=MTkwODY5NzgyMTM0S0&spJobID=1501430193&spReportId=MTUwMTQzMDE5MwS2

And to the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/02/us/politics/donald-trump-tax-schemes-fred-trump.html

To hear Trump described by so many people as ‘a crook’ is one thing. Politicians? They’re all crooks! So what? We all know the stories: the multiple bankruptcies, the dodgy investors, the payoffs to mistresses, how he stiffs his workforce and his suppliers, posing as a Mafia boss; the huge unpaid debts to gullible foreign banks; the unpublished tax returns.

And we can blithely refer to the made-for-TV star “business mogul” as a “confidence trickster”, a buffoon who has put one over on a section of the American public. We liberal elites can share the painful joke. Ha ha! Stupid Trumptards!

To see how the trick is done, however, is quite another thing. Because it appears that he IS a professional A-movie-standard grifter, not just a smalltime bunco artist. And has been, all his rotten life.

With that sudden realization, scales will fall from your eyes.

Trump is the real deal.

And the dumbfucks love him for it.

*Not the late, former Secretary of State under the Carter administration.

Khashoggi murder

If, maybe, then

This morning, it was reported in the news that Trump has moved somewhat on the Khashoggi murder, that so far he has refused to believe in.

In a statement, he says he now thinks it is likely something happened.

Jamal Khashoggi

Everyone else concluded days ago, there is more than ample evidence, including: Khashoggi is lured to the scene and has reservations but nevertheless goes; two private Saudi jets arrive, carrying 15 operatives to Istanbul, military men among whom at least five have been identified as members of Crown Prince bin-Salman’s personal entourage; video of them arriving at the consulate. The local staff at the consulate have been sent home early; a security recording apparently made by a bug inside the consulate has Khashoggi screaming as his fingers are “sliced off” (a detail perhaps only available on a video), the consul pleading with the killers to “please do it outside” – he’s gone missing, incidentally – the team doctor suggesting the killers listen to music while hacking up the victim’s body. A team of cleaners is then seen arriving with mops and buckets; evidence of cleaning fluids, fresh paint on the walls, DNA and other traces are found at the scene, and much, much more.

But the story has been pieced together, only by leaks from the staff and police. There is no “official version”, and it is thought there might never be, as clouds of doubt and false trails are even now being concocted by those parties who have most to lose from a breakdown of the cozy relations betwen Saudi and western politicians, against a backdrop of Turkish ambitions in the region.

The president has complained until now that his friend the Crown Prince has been traduced, just like his friend Justice Kavanaugh, the world unfairly finding him guilty until proven innocent. Much as he feels about himself.

If they are indeed guilty, says the president, who has so far said only that both the King and bin-Salman have denied it and so it could have been “rogue operators”, so that’s fine by him, there will be “severe consequences” short of econiomic sanctions. So, what?

Then astonishingly last night at one of his Nuremberg rallies for his dumbfuck supporters, he praised Greg Gianforte, the Congress member from Montana, for violently attacking a reporter last year.

“Trump described in glowing terms the physical assault that occurred on 24 May 2017 when Ben Jacobs, the Guardian’s political correspondent, was asking Gianforte a question about health care policy …. The US president incited cheers and chants from a crowd of about 8,000 supporters when he said: “Greg is smart. And by the way, never wrestle him. You understand. Never.”

As the cheers rang out across an aircraft hangar in Missoula, Trump went on to say: “Any guy that can do a body slam … he’s my guy.” After praising Gianforte, Trump acted out the motion of throwing a person violently to the ground.” (Guardian, 19 Oct.)

The incredible double-standards this degenerate oaf manages to maintain show clearly, he has no standards at all.

Get rid of him.

 

20 October LATEST:

“YouTubers will be being recruited already by the White House to suggest that perhaps the Turks haven’t yet finished recording it….”

An admission has finally arrived from Riyadh, two and a half weeks after the event, that Khashoggi is indeed dead. They’ve just discovered, instead of him leaving normally, as they honestly thought he must have done (although he has not been seen and his fiancee was waiting outside), he died by accident in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after taking on 15 burly security men who had gone to seize him on a misunderstanding, militarily trained bodyguards of Prince bin-Salman, in “a fist-fight”. This podgy, mild-mannered, 59-year-old man wearing glasses.

Suspects have been rounded up, senior officials sacked: especially the one President Trump suggested might be responsible, as he’d been photographed in a meeting with the Prince just days before the accident, and just happened to be among the party of tourists visiting the consulate.

I doubt we shall be hearing much from him.

This ludicrous explanation worthy of the direst banana republic has been greeted by Mr Trump, desperate both to protect a lucrative personal source of income and to give no hint of possible job losses in the defense sector before an election, as “credible”.

It has perhaps not occurred to him to ask, then, where is the body? Or any of the other 101 questions the Prince’s bullshit explanation raises. No, instead he has sent his “condolences”, his usual “sorry your dog died” message, to Khashoggi’s family.

Now, normally when an inconvenient person is made to disappear, the lies are cooked up in secret, in advance, behind the office door. In this case, however, the story is being developed retrospectively out in the full glare of the media spotlight. It’s precisely the tale Trump and Pompeo have been publicly prompting bin-Salman to put out, if he knows what’s good for him.

It’s standard Mafia reasoning: Khashoggi must have killed himself in a fit of remorse, before sawing his own body into handy, suitcase-sized chunks and disposing of it in a nearby forest, where men with spades were seen going on a nature ramble shortly before he died.

It’s an indication of how Mr Trump has conducted his entire shitty career, on the basis of lies so preposterous and frequently repeated that enough people will believe them. The arrogance of both these profoundly damaged, autocratic individuals is breathtaking: “you will believe whatever garbage dribbles out of our mouths because we are the rulers and you’re not.”

The good thing is, nobody does believe this one. But what’s to be done? The fallback now, of course, is that “we must wait for the outcome of the official enquiries”.

You will hear this a lot in the coming days, and it is perhaps one of the mysteries that this “audio tape”, or even rumored video of the murder does not appear to have been played to anyone outside the highest levels of the Turkish government, and possibly the police investigators. Pompeo has denied hearing it, but then he would. Why the delay in posting proof of what the Turks’ve been saying so far? There’s no shame in admitting they bugged the consul, everyone does it.

YouTubers will be being recruited already by the White House to suggest that perhaps the Turks haven’t yet finished recording it.

With the midterm elections so close, Mr Trump will be hoping at the weekly White House Evangelical pray-in tomorrow, that it’s all blown over by the time Congress, in whatever new form it may have taken, reassembles later in November.

Sickening.

x

“Nothing Trump ever says or does is ever said or done without some nasty little game plan in mind…”

Warren Peace

The Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is the next most plausible Democratic presidential candidate qualified to become the First Woman. A Harvard Law professor, she has a reputation for steely questioning of political and administrative miscreants in committee, for being on top of her brief, for her obvious passion for justice, her forensic mental clarityand her absolute probity; her strength of character.

Everything Trump can’t manage to be and do.

There is of course always a possibility, based o n precedent, that such a butter-wouldn’t-melt person might be a total humbug, only time can tell.

At some time in the distant past, she ticked the box on an application form claiming to be of native Indian descent, as her mom had told her they were. According to Snopes’ fact-checking website, it was just the once. They quote the president of Harvard Law School as saying they don’t hand out well-remunerated professorships on the basis of candidates’ ethnic backgrounds. But political opponents – notably the President – have accused her of dishonestly benefiting from lying about her ethnicity.

Well, she could hardly claim to be black. She has also spoken on behalf of First Nation causes on the basis of her kinship. Neither is a crime.

Warren, seen in 3-D?

Trump, who speaks only for his own cause, spent several years blatantly lying that he had evidence that President Obama was born in Kenya, and therefore disqualified from holding office, evidence he never somehow managed to produce, before turning his poisonous attentions a while ago to accuse Sen. Warren of lying about her origins, derisorily christening her “Pocahontas”.

Clearly Trump has issues with his own origin story: a draft-dodging, undocumented German grandfather who fled to Canada and opened a whorehouse; a property developing, rack-renting, tax-dodging racist father deeply embedded within the New York mafia; an estranged, emotionally dead mother and a retrospectively documented immigrant trophy wife who can barely wait to divorce him.

One time, Trump offered to pay a million dollars to the charity of her choice if Warren could prove her claim to Indian ancestry.

Much to the annoyance of the Cherokee nation, Senator Warren has now taken a DNA test proving that her background is indeed, at several generations removed, nevertheless partly Native American (tribe not specified). So not entirely a lie, then. And who hasn’t tickled up their CV once in a while, to sound more interesting? Trump won’t have, he doesn’t have a CV. Not until Mueller is finished writing it.

Asked by a courageous reporter if he would now pay up, Trump, who may well be one of the most dishonest incubuses to walk the earth while claiming unverifiable human origin, vehemently denied that he had ever in his life promised such a thing.

A thing that he is elsewhere seen on tape, at a rally in front of several thousand of his pet dumbfucks, loudly crowing about.

Needless to say, no apology has been forthcoming.

Instead, in true Trump style, graceless and shitty as ever, the great liar, phony and cheat has doubled-down on the good Senator, getting his insults in early, repeating his view that she is a liar, a phony and a cheat, saying he will only pay up if he can redo the test himself. (He doesn’t believe in DNA, any more than he understands why the planet is melting.)

And given that Stormy Daniels has just failed in her bid to get a court to allow her to sue the President for widely publicized defamation, whereupon he described her in a tweet as “a horseface”, it appears he can now say whatever he damn well likes about anyone he doesn’t like. Another step down the road to lawless autocratic rule by illiterate tweet.

“You will not beat him with honesty, decency or facts.”

Don’t be fooled. Nothing Trump ever says or does is ever said or done without some devious little gameplan in mind, that he hopes will produce results somewhere down the line. He may be an ignorant, bloviating oaf, but he’s a shrewd and calculating ignorant, bloviating oaf, well practised at dirty infighting.

Unfortunately, by commissioning that test, Warren has played into his hands.

Senator Warren is a woman, and Trump is a bullying misogynist who is going to try his best to make her cry, the way he destroyed Hillary Clinton with that “Crooked Hillary” tag, enlisting his dumbfucks in two-minute “Lock her up!” hate sessions based on no more than poor mad Alex Jones’ conspiracy theories, that she’s a pedophile-enabler who murdered the US Ambassador to Benghazi and sold America’s vital uranium assets to the Russians.

Trump doesn’t play by anyone’s rules whom you would comfortably know. You will not beat him with honesty, decency or facts. Thuggery is his trade. Whatever he may have learned at Wharton college, which wouldn’t have been much, he learned a lot more from his dad’s mafia lawyer, Roy Cohn.

He knows Warren is probably the Democrats’ best hope of beating him in 2020, so he’s going to try to defeat her now, two years before she has a chance to defeat him. He knows, she’s far too polite and straightlaced to retaliate in the same coin, going in hard with a knee to the nuts, although God knows, she’d have enough ammunition. Let’s face it, the Orange Pussygrabber’s the one under investigation for treason, obstruction of justice and financial shenanigans – she’s not.

And he knows that what she has going for her, that he doesn’t, is people’s respect: she’s direct, honest, well-briefed and cleverer than he is. But if she runs in the primaries, goes head-to-head in the debates, she knows already, from today, exactly how it’s going to play:

“Pocahontas!”. Nyah-boo! Your mom lied… You’re a phony!

He will never let up on that sneering racial insult until she capitulates.

Or until someone throws him in jail.

And frankly, with the courts now packed with lifetime Trump appointees who owe the boss a favor in return, all the way up to the highest court in the land, corrupted beyond saving, your Pumpkin just doesn’t see that happening.

It’s the classic Mafia playbook takeover of your country: “Fascist Dictating for Dummies…”.

I have frequently commented with the question: what collective insanity possessed the authors of your Holy Constitution to give a free pass to a criminal President with a majority in both houses to abuse such powers as to be able so easily to rig the governmental, fiscal and juridical systems; even subverting US foreign policy, in cahoots with an inimical foreign power, in his own electoral and financial interests, supported by a disaffected, gun-toting minority of religious maniacs, with absolutely no comebacks?

As soon as this criminal, lying motherfucker is gone from office, which he will be one day, assuming we’re all still alive to wave him good riddance or to follow his gun-carriage with crocodile tears down to Arlington, you might possibly give some very serious thought to that question.

“Yep, he was the president who put the ‘fun’ in ‘funeral’… hashtag sadface!”

x

“Two-faced liars with a shameful human rights record that makes Japan’s insistence on the cultural importance of exterminating whales sound convincing….”

Trump’s Khashoggi Register

Trump’s attempts to get Prince Mohammad bin-Salman off the hook over the murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul of regime critic, Jamal Khashoggi get more and more desperate, and more bizarre by the minute.

His sympathetic message is that, like his poor friend Judge Kavanaugh, like himself, poor Bin is being judged guilty by everyone in the world before he can be allowed to prove his innocence.

Of course, there’s an economic imperative behind Trump’s apparently uncritical, blind acceptance of assurances, both from King Salman, who has Alzheimer’s, and Crown Prince bin-Salman, who hasn’t, that there is no Khashoggi blood on their hands, or it may have been a rogue hit squad from somewhere else, China probably – or it was all an unfortunate accident that ended with them chopping him in manageable pieces

Trump’s pathetic dissimulation is designed to protect Saudi investments he profits from, and his famous $110 billion arms deal, “Possibly the biggest in history!” (not true. He’s such a con man. Actual contracts total $380 million, much dating from Obama’s time. The rest is all “letters of intent” – Snopes/Washington Post) Oh, and all those jobs at Boeing and Raytheon.

Has anyone ever thought to ask the people who work in the armaments factories that make the aircraft and the guided bombs that kill children in Yemen and around the world – the people these sanctimonious humbugs in government pretend they’re protecting –  if they care what the awful things they make are doing? People with families and children themselves?

These are skilled engineers, programmers, systems analysts, designers, finishers, metallurgists, explosives experts, project managers. They could be making things all over the developing world that would benefit humanity, maybe tackle the real problems facing the world – not this grotesque shit. Have they so easily convinced themselves their efforts 9 to 5 are making America a safer place?

We are constantly told by politicians, oh, we mustn’t be beastly to the Saudis, or whoever, they’ll take their contracts elsewhere. Think of all those jobs we will lose! Think of the votes!

You are all, quite frankly, self-interested, cowardly liars.

Where? Where else will they go? Because if there was anywhere better, they would already have gone there. They come to us because we make the best stuff at the best prices, but we still imagine we have to offer them huge bribes they can stuff up their jalabas in return for their oily patronage.

And if they could sell their oil elsewhere, they would. They’ve got money, let them manufacture their own weapons of death. Oil dependancy, job dependancy, money dependancy…. Those are our WEAKNESSES!

Why are we so weak?

If we had the will to do it, we could bankrupt them in the morning. They know that, they’re not going to do anything.

(This piece has been edited for length. Ed.)

 

“I don’t want to talk about any of the facts.” – Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, on his return from Riyadh, in a statement confirming his boss’s belief in Saudi protestations of innocence in the torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

“I guess after shaking hands with you, Mr Secretary, I’d better count my fingers!”

GW: A perfect day for a snooze

Wake me up if anything happens…. it’s all gone pretty quiet. There’s ex-Tropical Storm Lara, pushing in across the US southwest with another dollop or two of rain over the desert, the sun’s been shining all day here, and that’s about it from around the weather news sites.

Oh, September was globally the 4th warmest ever, according to the NOAA. So we’re still good for 2018 being in the top 5 hottest years, despite it being a La Niña year – the other four being 2014,15,16 and 17 (not in that order). 2019 should be hotter, as an El Niño is 70 percent likely, based on current temperatures in the Pacific.

Forecasters are expecting anything up to 50 cm of rain in Spain and North Africa tonight as a massive weather thingy is moving through the Straits of Gibraltar. Last week southeastern Spain and the Balearic islands experienced very heavy rainfall, with 13 fatalities – this looks way worse.

And stand by for a blistering cold spell in Scandinavia and northern Europe after the weekend.

Now, buzz off. Zzzz.

 

If at first you don’t succeed

To explain evolution to an idiot, this link might provide them with learning material, and some amusement:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06p4cnx

My chair… Widodo no Joko… GW: Rainin’ in muh heart… The Trump Prophesy.

Quote of the Week

If by passing one law we could have prevented the Holocaust, don’t you think we might have done it? Instead of having to pass laws now against those who deny it ever happened? So, why is it that we don’t have a law against climate-change deniers before the entire race is consigned to oblivion, instead of waiting to punish the wind?

– “Granny Weatherwax” (see far below for latest extreme weather updates)

 

Editor’s note: Can I just quickly explain to new readers that while we aim for a Thursday date for the BogPo and a weekend issue of the occasional Pumpkin, focussing more on US politics, we often publish early but, this being a dynamic medium in an ever-changing newsscape, the Posts go on being developed and re-edited for several days, often with images added, before and after their normal publication date. Mistakes may be corrected weeks hence… Some patience is required to deal with this stuff!

Muchas gracias, amigos. Carry on! (Keep calm…)

 

My chair

So, I have a condition that makes sitting painful, and for comfort and because the designer chair I work from has a bowed, concave base that is meant to enfold you but in practise just compresses your buttocks, I have arranged the following arrangement; namely, a sort of sandwich affair consisting of:

  • The chair base, being unashamedly faux-leather on bent ply, thinly padded with foam rubber;
  • A cushion with polyester fiber filling, to fill the hollow in the bent ply;
  • A kitchen chopping-board made from 5mm solid polyethylene, on top.

So my modern German chair, cleverly made from just two interlocking sections, shells of bent ply, more comfortable to look at than to sit in, is now both firm and yielding, and the board also makes a flatter surface whose position can be instantly adjusted to allow me to hang the painful posterior part over the back, relieving the pressure of my substantial bodyweight.  (No, it’s not hemorrhoids, or however you spell it.)

Now.

I’m one of those people who is incredibly observant, but hasn’t generally a clue what they’re looking at. I’ve been reading a book about Trump, screwing over Small Government in America; unheralded rural departments in which dedicated, real-life individuals have hit on brilliant solutions to problems, always in Eureka! moments, which might be very American but it doesn’t seem statistically likely they all did.

You know how people are, someone comes to interview them, wanting a story.

Eureka! moments, anyway, are prompted by making instant connections between observations and materials to produce something new and inventive. You see how round that straight, fallen tree trunk looks, and bingo! (sorry, Eureka!), you’ve discovered the roller.

Then someone shows you how they made a saw out of sharp pieces of flint arranged in a row, like teeth, and Shazam!, it can cut the end off your roller, and Presto!, you’ve got the wheel. A stick between two wheels becomes an axle, a platform across two axles becomes a Ford Mondeo, and so on.

So I’m looking at this makeshift arrangement of hard and yielding surfaces I’m about to sit down on, I’ve just come back from the bathroom, made a pot of coffee, thought about doing last night’s washing-up, and I put my hand down to adjust the position of the kitchen chopping board, and…

It’s hot!

It’s been about twelve minutes since I last sat on it, yet it has lost none of my body heat; indeed, it is warmer than me. The cushion beneath, too, is still warm. The room heating is not on. The cat is not curled up on it. The ad hoc solution has absorbed more kinetic energy than my body temperature has imparted to it, and is giving it up only slowly in the form of waste heat.

And I think, my God! Have I stumbled across some secret principle of materials physics that will allow me to make my fortune, even if I can’t sit down comfortably? Have I stumbled across a developable invention they could use in space, in hospital, on public transport, for people suffering with cold bottoms, something marketable like that?

And the answer comes back from my inner Tourette: I don’t bleedin’ know, do I, mate? I know fuck-all about anything. About taking ideas to market, I know even less.

Anyway, if you have to sit on a chair with a soft cushion and a breadboard to stop your catheter cutting into your prostate, it’s probably too late.

 

Widodo No Joko

I’ve just rather grudgingly and with considerable harrumph, fired off a token tenner to PayPal in response to the Indonesia tsunami appeal.

Given that the appeal by the joint charities emergency committee spoke of fifty quid feeding a family for a month (in my “family” of me, Hunzi the dog and Katz the cat it lasts about two days, such is the price of our “cheap” food), I guess my generous donation isn’t going to go far.

I’ve seen the photos, the coverage, from which it was rather obvious to me, an old bloke in a chair untroubled by geophysical forces, from the beginning that this was going to be more than just yer average M7.5 (probably nearer 8) quake, of which we’ve had more than our usual share globally this year, thanks to the Grand Solar Minimum, or something – I haven’t quite grasped the science yet.

But it’s not the lateness of the appeal coming on top of the slowness of the relief effort that has grumped my ire.

Indonesia is a wealthy nation, that can easily afford to fix this disaster without my help. The ever-helpful Wikifolk write:

“The country has abundant natural resources like oil and natural gas, tin, copper and gold. Agriculture mainly produces rice, palm oil (Boo! Ed.), tea, coffee, cacao, medicinal plants, spices and rubber. Indonesia’s major trading partners are China, the United States, Japan, Singapore and India. … Indonesia’s economy is the world’s 16th largest by nominal GDP and the 7th largest by GDP at PPP” (Purchasing Power Parity – see British food prices for pensioners, above).

Maybe their trading partners include the EU? My other pair of shoes claim they were made in Indonesia. And of course, after Brexit, the sky’s the limit. But they seem pretty well set up, and could certainly do better at rescuing their own people, were it not for certain historical anomalies.

Occupied mainly by the Dutch and then the Japanese, Indonesia has an unfortunate post-colonial, postwar history of pervasive corruption, sectarian conflict, brutal suppression of secessionist movements, religious intolerance and environmental mismanagement (including the shoe industry) on a horrific scale.

If they were not so busy building six-star Trump-branded leisure centers with two golf courses, that only the military and business elites can benefit from, and maintaining a large army whose sole function appears to be engaging in the genocide of their own minorities, they might possibly afford to employ their own disaster relief agency, given the frequency and scale of the disasters that inevitably result from their location along the geologically unstable so-called “Ring of Fire” – a legacy of the origin story of the Pacific ocean, scooped out in a cosmic collision.

Admittedly it can’t be easy, governing a republic consisting of so many thousands of islands and many mini-nation states.

But it’s so easy for the so-called emerging nations to blame their current mismanagement on past colonial tropes. “Oh, the fact that I’ve stuffed so much cash creamed from logging concessions into my Swiss bank account and had to spend so much on beautiful weapons to defend me against my own people (and those brutes next door!) is all the fault of the (tick which rapacious European nation) who ravished us until I liberated y’all thirty-five years ago and therefore deserve to be made disgustingly rich forever”, is not really good enough.

That this shemozzle is largely the furtive creation of the American Empire and its corporate clients doesn’t help improve or excuse their image, in my estimation.

My £10 is not really going to feed and clothe and rehouse anyone. I know that, but I know that sending it will boost my dharma a notch. It’s propping up a regime which, admittedly better than the horrors of the Suharto years, “Mr Ten Percent” as he was known, is nevertheless still privately benefiting from illegal logging, the burning of forest for palm oil plantations (remember two years ago, the pall of choking smog that hung for weeks over millions of square miles of the SW Pacific?), the extinction of our cousins, the engaging Orang-utan, and the illegal wildlife trade.

So here’s ten quid from a British pensioner, Mr Joko. I hope it helps.

And thanks for the shoes.

Postscriptum: 08 Oct, Widodo has ordered all non-Indonesian NGOs to pull their people out, saying he can take care of it. Hundreds of bodies are said to remain buried in the mud and rubble.x

x

Michael upgraded to a Cat 4, 150 miles off the Florida coast, 10 Oct. (NOAA)

GW: Rainin’ in muh heart

USA: With 175 mph central winds, Category 4 Hurricane Michael intensified unusually rapidly over 30-degree waters and, moving rapidly, crossed the coast between Pensacola and Apalachicola today, Wednesday 11 Oct, as the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Florida panhandle/Big Bend area, carrying up to 12-in rain and pushing a 4-metre storm surge ashore. It was the third strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in the USA. 20 million people are in its path. Evacuation warnings issued to 370 thousand, many are ignoring them. (basically Wunderground/BBC News)

And don’t look now, but as Michael heads northeastward still as a Cat 2 over Georgia and the Carolinas, bringing down trees and causing extensive flooding, after weakening to a TS it will become a “powerful post-tropical storm” again out over the Atlantic, on a trajectory that, with the Coreolis effect, could bring it to northern Europe in about a week.

Update: Thursday’s dawn reveals the seaside town of Mexico Beach, pop. 1,200, at the epicenre of the storm, gone. Razed to the ground, and not even rubble left, all washed away. That’s what a 155 mph Cat 4 can do to your community. News is awaited of the 200 souls who declined to evacuate. 11 are known to have died, including 4 in Virginia, but the death toll is expected to rise substantially, according to FEMA, as rescuers reach outlying communities. (New York Times)

It never rains in Arizona, so watch as idiots in Phoenix try to drive in three feet of water and have to be rescued. Tropical Storm, formerly Hurricane Rosa carved her way across Baja California northeastwards, to be replaced shortly by on-off Hurricane Garcia, on the same NW track.

In a neat reversal, a sloppy jetstream has brought freezing conditions to the northwestern US, while it’s unseasonally warm in the east. In Canada, Calgary shivered in a heavy snowstorm said to be “unprecedented” for early October. Nearly half a meter fell, four times the average for the whole of October. Concerns later turned to possible flooding as it all melted again.

Pacific: Cat 5 Typhoon Kong-Rey weakened over cooler waters before slamming into S Korea, killing 2. The remnant storm was heading for Japan. Cat 5 Typhoon Walaka was done to death by wind shear a few hundred miles from Hawaii, without making landfall. (Wunderground)

Mexico: Vila de Alvarez in Colime province experienced torrential rain and flash-flooding. In the rest of central America at least 12 people have died in floods and landslides brought on as Topical Storm Michael gears up for its assault on the US mainland, while on the western side, former Hurricane Garcia has been making its presence known.

Europe: Southern Italy and Sicily saw some very bad weather with flash flooding last week, thanks to another Medicane that formed over the Tyrrhenian Sea, moving eastwards. The continent is experiencing something of a late heatwave. The BBC has actually reported a flooding event: a devastating flash flood killed 5 people (10 missing) on the island of Majorca, Spain, Tuesday – among them a British couple drowned in a taxi. 7 inches of rain fell in 2 hours, according to one report, cutting off the town of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar in the east. (Mirror).

Jam today… a multi-car pileup on Majorca after 7 in rain falls in 2 hours. (Mirror)

For the UK: “Very deep cyclone Callum is expected to travel just west of Ireland and Scotland and result in extremely severe winds, locally in excess of 110 mph. Major waves are expected along the coasts.” (Severe-weather.eu) This thing (Should we call it an Atlanticane?) is packing potentially 5 or more inches of rain and 35-foot waves. In the meantime, we have a mini-heatwave, with temps in the low 20s C, 70-ish F or even higher in the south.

Note: while BBC weather is downplaying the event as a bit of stormy weather, Severe-weather.com has: “Several vorticity maxima will be embedded in the broad circulation where one intense core develops an explosive cyclone SW of British Isles. Its central pressure will likely deepen for more than 30 mbar in less than 24 hours, which means we are likely looking at a so-called ‘bombogenesis’ – a cyclone that rapidly deepens in very short period of time.”

Australia: overall, it was the driest September on record, and the second driest of any month in the last 116 years. Some rain has brought a little relief to New South Wales, in its 7th year of severe drought. Record rainfall fell on Sydney.

An Australian government minister has commented that they’re not going to give up their commitment to coal-fired power stations just because of “some report from somewhere”, by which the ignorant digger dismisses the IPCC conspectus he hasn’t read, that has otherwise gained worldwide attention for the final urgency of its warnings about CO2 emissions.

If by passing one law we could have prevented the Holocaust, don’t you think we might have done it? Instead of having to pass laws against those who deny it ever happened? So, why is it that we don’t have a law against climate-change deniers before the entire race is consigned to oblivion, instead of waiting to punish the wind?

Iran: 9 dead in northern floods. Much infrastructure, housing damage. 1,400 rescued.

Up in the Arctic, while cold air spills out over Canada and the northwestern US, a plume of warm air has replaced it, entering the region through the Bering Strait as far as the pole. Temperature anomalies over 1980-2010 average are as high as 20C in places, including central Greenland. The heatwave is affecting the whole of Scandinavia and northwestern Russia too, while an arctic plume has settled over Siberia.

In some ways delaying the formation of the winter icepack is good, because it means not so much heat is getting trapped under the ice, possibly destabilizing methane hydrates on the seabed.

The latest edition of Arctic News reports, current CO2 and methane emissions are totally inconsistent with 1.5 to 2 degrees and in line with projections of runaway 10C warming by 2030.

(All the uncrediteds above: Climate and Extreme Weather News #139, 01-08 October)

 

The Trump Prophesy

Honest to whatever, I’m not making this up.

The Guardian reports, US cinemas are screening a movie about a fireman with PTSD, to whom God appeared, prophesying the new Messiah – Donald Trump. “Between graphic nightmares featuring demonic monsters and hellish flames, Taylor received a message from God in April 2011, while he was surfing television channels.”

Apparently, according to the makers, the senile pussy-grabbing, money-grubbing (and laundering), wife-and-business-cheating, six-times bankrupt, tax-evading, serial-lying, bullying, blackmailing, delusionary sociopathic narcissist and former teenage model agency owner with incestuous longings for his own daughter, Trump has been sent by God to restore America’s moral values!

“He may not be perfect, nobody is”, opined one female member of the entirely conservative Christian audience. Trump’s appeal to women voters is one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. Maybe it’s his little button-mushroom that makes them feel maternal.

According to the man, Taylor, various miracles will come to pass: Trump will serve a second term. A Red Tide will sweep away the Democrats. Abortion will be outlawed. “Barack Obama will be charged with treason and Trump will authorise the arrest of thousands of corrupt officials, many of whom are part of a massive satanic paedophile ring. Trump will also force the release of cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s that are currently being withheld by the pharmaceutical industry.”

About 1,200 cinemas across the US were screening The Trump Prophecy on Tuesday and Thursday this week, largely to empty seats.

We all know, there’s a huge swathe of middle America that has gone batshit crazy, living in a parallel universe. If the world ends tomorrow, it’ll be because of them. But that’s what they want, to meet their invisible friend in the sky.

So why don’t the massive lunatics just do a Jim Jones and swallow poison? Why do our children and grandchildren have to die too, just to satisfy their selfish and delusionary cravings?

God help the rest of us.