The BogPo, a Trump-free zone: Old Bigot writes (The rules of cricket)… The old one-two… So deport me! … GW: Your gran, rescued in a rubber dinghy by three handsome firemen

Well, almost…

“You’re May, right ?”
“I am. And you must be Nuts…” (Photo: The Independent)

 

“God help us if war broke out, we’d be too busy to defend ourselves, worrying what to call the enemy without causing them offence…”

Hello again.

Old Bigot writes:

You know, at this time of year as the nights draw in and the snow lies crisp and even; as robin redbreast poses fleetingly on a spade handle in the irridescent twilight and is gulped down by next-door’s cat, we may sit by the fire, staring into the flickering flames, wondering why some of them are red and some blue, and contemplate the complete fucking insanity of the modern world.

In writing about it, I might be guilty of contempt of court, although God knows these days I wouldn’t be the only journalist courting that risk for a good story, but I have been struck by one particular example in particular, the case of the England cricket all-rounder, Ben Stokes*.

Ben, a fit-looking young fiery redhead, was (it is alleged) caught on CCTV outside a Bristol pub (or club, I’m a bit vague on the details) taking a poke at one of a bunch of local idiots who had been persecuting his party, probably calling Ben’s teammate ‘gay’ and/or other such words that if we said they were insults would inevitably upset one or other group identifying as such-and-such; and thus technically being the possible cause of a minor affray in which no-one emerged either with much credit or very much bruising, as far as one can tell.

Nobody died. (PS: I now understand a minor orbital fracture was involved.)

Young, and sometimes not-so-young, mildly drunken, testosterone-fuelled British working-class lads, well-paid sportsmen and pumped-up squaddies from the military have been causing similar affrays with fisticuffs outside hostelries from Land’s End to John O’Groats on a Saturday night since God were a lad. It’s what we men do, let off a bit of steam after a hard week at the coalface. It’s totally British Values. Someone spills your pint, eyeballs your girlfriend, insults your team, it gets out of hand, then wallop, it’s finished and off home to beat-up the wife before Sunday roast.

Similar retaliations on a national scale are not unknown to history either.

Only not any more, it seems.

The ‘alleged incident’ happened weeks and months ago, but the press is still snouting around excitedly, Mr Plod is still ponderously ‘investigating’, ‘charges’ are still being weighed by the Public Prosecutor, a ‘trial’ is still being contemplated, poor Ben is still suspended from his rather valuable job and without him the England cricket team have had to put up with yet another sound ten-wicket thrashing by Australia, the Hated Ones – only none of their quick bowlers or century-smashing captain Smith has been ‘arrested’ and ‘questioned’ and ‘cautioned’ and ‘charged’ over it, they get away with that sort of violent affray down under, every time the old enemies clash at the riotous Gabba stadium in Sydney. Cricket, it ain’t.

So what the hell is there to ‘investigate’? The guy evidently punched someone on a provocation. Okay, his bad. But when did we stop banging-up battered and dishevelled miscreants for the night, parading them bleary-eyed before the magistrate in the morning, letting them plead guilty to “drunk and disorderly”, fining them 50 shillings with a caution, bit of compensation possibly ordered if at fault of injury, end of story?

Police officers relax after a hard day wasting public money. (timbrink.nl)

What on earth has happened to us as a society? What happened to our practicality, our robust pragmatism? Where’s our commonsense ability gone, to just sort things out firmly but if possible fairly? Why can we no longer manage our complex human behaviours without an appeal to some authoritarian, overworked third party? Why are the police and the DPP and the courts squandering vast amounts of precious time and public money on this totally trivial incident? Just because Stokesy’s newsworthy, a sporting celebrity?

It’s an absolute outrage. Just tick him off, pocket the money and let the poor man get on with his life, win a few matches for us, can’t you?

But, oh no, we’re changing the name Britain to ‘Bythebook’. It’s enough to make anyone of my generation weep, we’ve turned into a nation of pathetic plastic snowflake dwarfs, terrified of our shadows. God help us if war broke out, we’d be too busy to defend ourselves, worrying what to call the enemy without causing them offence.

And as for the ludicrous, pointless, heartbreaking, multi-million pound cost and waste of immensely valuable, desperately needed, strategic crime-fighting resources in the face of cut after slashing cut in the police budget, hundreds of trained men and women spending thousands of wasted hours raking over the cold, dead embers of lurid allegations made by instantly discountable ‘survivors’ of ancient sexual improprieties against long-dead politicians and tottering old celebrity ‘entertainers’, unable just to say no for fear of upsetting genuine victim groups in the current fugue of moral outrage, I won’t even start.

Who’s that poor sod, Leslie, a superannuated TV kids’ show presenter, “put his hand up a woman’s skirt” at a hen night party in a club about thirty years ago? And now hauled up in court over it? How many years in choki at the taxpayer’s expense is that worth? Why’s he even having to bother denying it? Can’t they let him say sorry, he doesn’t remember much, and everyone move on? And that gropy old US Senator who was a washed-up comedian, Franken, he’s been forced to resign while his accusers make Time magazine’s Persons of the Year cover. Only Trump survives, with his gagging orders and non-disclosure clauses.

For Pity’s sake, what have we come to? Are we to cram the remaining interstitial spaces in our rotting understaffed Victorian gaols with elderly rakes who once put their hand on a young intern’s knee, or patted their bum at a party? In a world where militarized mass rape, starving cholera-ridden stunted children, state-sanctified murder and ethnic cleansing are the order of the day, and we do nothing about it so as not to upset the fucking arms manufacturers? This is really a decadent first-world luxury, this sort of vindictive moral crusade designed to ‘deliver a lesson’ most of us dreadful old men got, thank you, years ago.

Has the Director of Public Prosecutions never been to a hen night? I expect she probably must have. Did she put her hand out to touch the thrusting, gold Lurex-clad groin of a male stripper ‘for luck’? And regret it in the morning along with the seventh Jägerbomb? Or does that sort of serious criminal assault only happen in the North?

I’d hate to upset anyone’s feelings, but.

‘Free Ben Stokes’, is my motto for the week.

And he doesn’t wear Lurex.

*For the benefit of my many American readers, Russian Spammers, etc. the rules of the English national game of cricket were first codified in the late 18th century. Old Bigot writes:

The laws of cricket, explained

“Cricket is played with flat-faced bat and hard leather ball between two teams of 11 players, the object being for the fielding side to break the ‘wicket’ (a structure of three upright wooden sticks, or ‘stumps’) of 10 of the batting side while giving away as few runs as possible. Runs are scored by the two batsmen who are ‘in’ (hence, an ‘innings’) exchanging ends between the two wickets or striking the ball across a boundary marker.

“Batsmen must defend their wicket against the bowler while scoring as many runs as possible, but may be dismissed by being ‘bowled’, ‘caught’ (the ball not first having touched the ground) ‘run-out’ by a fielder breaking the wicket with the ball before the running batsman has safely gained the ‘crease’ line, or trapped ‘leg-before-wicket’, the umpire determining that the ball was impeded by any part of the player’s body. The bowling end is changed ‘over’ every six balls.

“The side with the most runs or the most wickets in hand at the end of the allotted number of ‘overs’, within the agreed time limit, or having dismissed the opposing side with fewer runs, wins. Owing to the weather, too many longer matches (a ‘Test’ is scheduled to last up to 5 days) were ending inconclusively in a ‘draw’ and so a measure known as ‘Duckworth-Lewis’ was devised to produce a statistical result. (Tea is taken at 4 pm.)”

Play!

x

(Warning: too much information.)

“I stand, head leant against the cold tiled wall, dreaming of sleep, holding on to the heated towel rail that stupidly only heats up when the central heating is on, which is almost never. The towels are never quite dry.”

The old one-two

One:

A wrenching pain splits my chest.

I fear I may be having a heart attack, or have burst my aorta. Or I have collapsed my lungs, or my diaphragm is torn and I will never sing again. Sundry other aches and pains briefly twinge and twang, then subside.

Actually, I am pushing down as hard as I can with every muscle I own into my pelvic floor, desperately trying to birth a few more dribbles and drops of urine through my crimped and crushed urethra. It’s 2.20 am and I’ve been in here for nearly an hour since being woken from a dream for the second time in the night by an urgent need to empty the bladder that merely mocks me.

Was it even full?

Virtually nothing dribbles out, each visit a teaspoonful, if that, and I need to relax through the throbbing pain and wait another three minutes before trying again. In the meantime I am taking sips of water. The danger is, if I cannot empty it I could burst my bladder; but the alternative is wizened, dried-out kidneys and a life on dialysis, so. Your choice.

I have stuffed a wad of toilet paper in my bottom to absorb the dribbles and wet farts, the blowback from the effort of straining to piss.

An entire night of this torture stretches ahead.

Lying down in bed only makes it worse. I am up every two minutes, schlepping back and forth to the bathroom, trying not to step on the dog. He is worried about me, hearing my feeble groans, and won’t leave the bedside. Please, God, this time…. Dribble-wibble, throb.

I wonder, should I call for help? It’s the recommended procedure, technically a medical emergency, but an entire ambulance? At this time of night? For an exhausted junior doctor to stuff a catheter up my pipi to drain the swamp? I’m too over-the-limit to drive myself, although not in the least bit drunk. What a waste of good whisky. And who would look after Hunzi and his li’l friend, Cats?

The tile floor is cold – it’s freezing outside but there’s no heating, I refuse to use it. Nor do I need lights, the Highways Agency pays to light my house with its bright new LED streetlights banishing both night and stars.

So I stand on the bathmat, head leant against the cold tiled wall, dreaming of sleep, holding for life to the heated towel rail that stupidly only heats up when the central heating is on, which is almost never. The towels are never quite dry.

This time I feel we are in for the long haul, my flabby and complaining old bladder, ‘Blad the Impaler’ and I. So I bring in a copy of the new Private Eye magazine, the When Harry met Meghan issue,  and read disinterestedly about bent politicians and city slickers, media shits and shysters, and groan at the unfunny cartoons and prep-school jokes, squinting at the tiny print by the light of the shaver point.

I have prostatitis – ‘benign prostatic hyperplasia’. It comes on like this about once a month, or whenever I travel and need to perform on stage, and often depends on what I’ve been drinking: in this case, last night a quart of Scotch. I call it my period.

There’s a chance it’s been brought on, not by whisky, but because we’ve just finished a run of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – a musical production in which I played the leading character, the miser Scrooge, in a physical performance you would not believe for a man of 68 who takes no exercise normally. It has taken its toll on me, I fear, in various ways.

But there’s almost nothing you can do with an enlarged prostate gland, except laser the tissue away – and in 70% of cases the operation leaves you leaking permanently into a bag strapped to your leg with a catheter in your groin. I’m already impotent from atrophy of the blood supply to my penis, so that side-effect is irrelevant.

Mr Aniya the hospital urologist has been up there, “where the sun don’t shine”, several times with various diagnostic tools and tells me it’s okay, it’s not cancer. He has an 18-month waiting list for appointments, so that’s a historic comfort. He sent me off to a clinic run by a very pretty nurse who I gather is married to a man even older than me, she made me piss into a funnel and agreed, I have almost zero pressure.

Just dribble.

I stopped taking the pills he prescribed two years ago. It seemed the only difference they made was to increase the panic attacks I get in the supermarket, with the bustle and the lights and the terrible cover versions of Taylor Swift-type twinkie-shit, or Queen, and what the hell to eat this evening when you’ve tried everything before?

Still, the upside is, the drought never lasts more than one night, before…

 

Two:

Next morning, on the return leg of our walk, Hunzi and I.

I sensibly had a pee before we left the house but the thought has just crossed my mind a mile further on that we may need another one anyday now…. There appears to be no urgency, but we head toward the Texaco gas station where there is a capacious disabled loo, just in case.

I have a vision of arriving home, just a few hundred yards along the street, only to have my usual minor calamity on the doorstep while fumbling hurriedly for the right key (of two, it’s a decision), hurling the shopping bags and the confused dog’s leash and the keys to the hall floor and rushing upstairs, ripping off my coat, fumbling with buttons, praying to Blad not to let go just yet, just a few more steps….

Too late.

There are certain places now that act as Pavlovian trigger points. Entering the kitchen down the steps from my studio is one; making that first coffee of the morning; running the water for the washing-up; the front doorstep another, where before I can even think of getting upstairs to the bathroom or using the handy drain out behind the kitchen, wrenching at these damn buttons, the stupid layers of clothing beneath, how does anyone ever manage to commit rape?

…disobedient muscles contract and release involuntarily, the hot pee starting to trickle down my leg.

The gas station is another such place, producing anywhere in the proximity of the toilet an immediate letdown reflex. It holds other terrors too, for the cubicle is often Out of Order, or busy… several times as the warm, dark stain spreads down my jeans we’ve had to run around the back of the building, behind the terrible Costcutter convenience store, where I’ve let go in the corner of the carpark. Probably in the full glare of the security cameras, but I don’t care. It’s a medical emergency, your Honour. It just… emerges.

Today we hobble home, an uncomfortable, rapidly chilling wet patch (it’s another cold day) spreading down the front of the most expensive pair of jeans I’ve ever bought, darkening down as far as my shoes. We have 300 yards of public street still to walk, crossing shamefacedly to the side facing away from the cars, hoping we don’t meet the neighbours coming the other way.

There was a guy, Tom I think, who used to come to choir. He would always sit next to me, because someone had told him I was the go-to person in our section, the bass section, if you weren’t sure of the notes. And he stank so badly of old piss, and after three weeks I had to excuse myself and quit the choir altogether. He’s long gone, I hear, but I haven’t been back.

Because now I too stink of old piss. It’s one of those evocative smells that never leaves you. Every now and again you get a whiff. You smell it just thinking of it. I’ve learned to wash out my chapfallen old feller more often, but it lingers in the crotch of every pair of trousers, in my underpants, my pajamas, my bedclothes

…accusing me of getting older by the hour.

x

“My knowledge of life in modern Britain sadly did not extend to remembering exactly when the War (sic) of the Roses broke out…”

So deport me!

I was just reading a BBC News article about poor Meghan Markle and the crazy hoops she’ll have to jump through (surely not! Ed.) to obtain British citizenship.

Surely Border Force  wouldn’t send her packing?

While I’m sure she’ll have absolutely no problem declaring that her fiancé ‘earns’ more than £18,500 a year (apparently Harry trousered a £20 million dividend from the Duchy of Cornwall last year, that’s a lot of organic biscuits), as a global ambassador of this-or-that she may struggle with the proviso that she has to spend a minimum of 270 days a year trapped on this dark and dismal island in the meantime, watching us tear one another apart like cannibals; while having to attend an interview with some bootface at an office in darkest Croydon is surely cruel and unusual punishment, even for a foreigner.

I doubt somehow that failure to complete the questions would result in her being immediately seized and delivered to Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre for Women and Babies. In fact she could become an avatar for a more compassionate approach. What we have here is the Princess of Migrants!

So, as you probably do, I instantly followed the link to a website where you can take the immigrants’ British Citizenship test for fun or practice. And as you do, almost certainly, I failed it; correctly guessing just 14 out of the 24 answers.

My useful knowledge of life in modern Britain sadly did not extend to remembering exactly when the War (sic) of the Roses broke out, in the fifteenth century, although I do know why and between what parties; nor precisely when Britain first became geographically separated from the Continent (Midnight, March 31st, 2019?), as I was born shortly afterwards.

I’ve turned out to be confused about the constituent parts of the national flag, assuming wrongly that the red cross bit is England. Apparently not. Nor, to my deepest shame, as I live there, did I recall that it was Henry V111 who first forced Wales to become part of the UK, as the Act of Union of 1707 which created the UK post-dates him by 160 years and I’d assumed that was when, but apparently it was Scotland.

I could not agree with the setter that pool is a ‘traditional pub game’ in Britain, as it is a more compact variant of snooker imported, I thought, from the USA. Not many Muslims would know much about pub culture, I imagine, especially as almost no-one drinks in a pub anymore, they’re closing at the rate of two a day. I do know that a coalition is a combination of two or more political parties in government, however the question betrays a certain ironic detachment on the part of the question-setter as we have not had a coalition government since 2015; unless, I suppose, you count the present shameful arrangement with the cave trolls of the DUP.

I was, frankly, shocked.

  • Which of the following is not a common swearword?

No, htat’s not a question, but seriously, nothing in the quiz appeared in the least bit relevant to life in Britain today: nothing on Brexit or pornography, nothing on Coronation Street, Bakeoff or Strictly Come Dancing, nothing about The War, the law, the weather or the honours system, the Royal Family (the Beckhams); how to buy stuff on credit or a seat in the House of Lords, how to get a quickie divorce or complain to BT about your broadband – why you need an Oyster card to get around London – but contained some awful, embarrassing, smug, self-congratulatory flammery, like asking the sitter to select five from a list of six statements with which they agree about how free and fair and decent and tolerant Britain is, which (apart from being a lie) is what any country will say about itself, even the worst flyblown dictatorships and rutted feudal demesnes; just tacky propaganda.

Not even the rules of cricket!

So I went on the Comment thread and tried to post the following:

“This so-called test is an insult, frankly, to earnest, honest, decent, hardworking people who just want to be part of our nation. It has no practical application or value whatsoever.  And we need them here. Now, give me the Guardian crossword… and where are the questions on football? Pop music? TV soaps? Shopping? Benefits? The things that truly matter to normal people, as opposed to whatever obsesses junior civil servants and their elevated political masters in their filter bubbles?”

(I didn’t mention the Wars, plural, of the Roses, 1455 to 1485, a dynastic tussle that ended with the Battle of Bosworth, my kingdom for a horse, and the enthronement of Henry V11 Tudor – a Welshman.)

And was asked to Log In, and went to do so, only to discover that a) I had to have a Facebook account before I could post my comment, very ‘free and fair’, and b) the website had already decided I was not me, but my son.

One of the ‘rub-your-foreign-nose-in-it’ questions was ‘Who invented the Worldwide Web?’ I knew the answer had to be Tim Berners-Lee, although there is a shade of opinion that suggests he didn’t quite, depending on your definition of what the Worldwide Web actually is. But as he was the only one on the list with a knighthood it was a no-brainer.

Anyway, I’m thinking of asking him to try again, because there is absolutely no reason for a website I’ve never been on before to identify my IP address as that of my son, who has his own trail of superannuated communication devices to play with.

Perhaps they’ll deport him, rather than me?

I’d love to be sent somewhere warmer, with nicer people, but I’m getting a bit old for that sort of thing.

x

GW: Your old gran, rescued in a rubber dinghy by three handsome firemen

Western Malaysia: “has been affected by flooding over the last few days. Around 13,000 people have been evacuated to special relief camps. Local media report that 2 people have died in the floods.  One area of Pasir Mas District in Kelantan recorded rainfall above 400 mm each day for 4 consecutive days from 25 November.”

Thailand: almost 400,000 people are affected by flooding in the south of the country. The department for disaster prevention reports at least 5 dead and states of emergency have been declared across a wide area. More heavy rain is forecast.

Australia: “December will commence on a volatile note across eastern Australia (Canberra area) with flooding rain and powerful thunderstorms expected. Residents should prepare for disruptions to travel, outdoor and weekend activities. The strongest thunderstorms may be capable of causing damage.”

Spain: “A short period of heavy rain in Andalusia, southern Spain, caused flash flooding in the provinces of Malaga, Granada, Seville and Cadiz on 29 Nov. A train was derailed near Seville with at least 21 people injured, 2 of them seriously. Local media said the derailment was caused by the heavy rain. Houses were damaged in several areas.”

Albania: “Torrential rain has caused flooding in central areas of the country, prompting dozens of families to evacuate their homes. A man died after he was electrocuted in flood water. Roads have been blocked, flights cancelled and schools closed. Over 70,000 homes have been left without electricity. Emergency services have evacuated 200 people after they were trapped inside a flooded shopping centre in Kashar. Heavy rain has also been reported elsewhere in the region, including in Macedonia, Croatia and Montenegro. More heavy rain and thunderstorms are forecast…”

Italy: a huge waterspout formed off the coast comes ashore as a tornado and trashes the town of San Remo.

USA: Good news; the official Atlantic hurricane season ended today, 30 November, with no last-minute major disasters. “Preliminary death toll from Harvey is 84, and 95 from Irma. Hurricane Maria, though, may be responsible for over a thousand deaths. New research that has not yet gone through peer-review puts the indirect death toll from Maria in Puerto Rico at 1,085 and rising, according to a story published Wednesday at vox.com”

Thanks, Tweety-Pie. Oh, but I got an A+ from FEMA. The fuck you did. Useless asshole.

Total damage from this last, most busiest hurricane season has been estimated at $207 billion, comfortably beating an adjusted-for-inflation total of $185 billion for the second-most expensive ever hurricane year for the US, way back in 1893. On the same metric, Typhoon Ruby, that hit Hong Kong in 1964 killing nearly 800 people, might alone have caused $241 billion in damage. These are insured losses and capital recovery project costs only, there’s no accounting for the rest, hoi polloi.

No figures have been added, however, for an extended flood-and-wildfire season; and the effects of prolonged drought across most of the midwest. Hurricanes tend to edge other extreme weather events out of the news, but cities like Houston, New Orleans, Kansas City, Charleston and Las Vegas were all hit by severe flooding from other weather systems during the summer, while the California wildfire season was the worst ever in terms of damage and casualties.

Floodlist/ Wunderground/ Accuweather/

 

The end of Days

Mount Agung, eh? What a prick-teaser!

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

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

 

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

Guns – the tired old debate cranks up again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Is he a terrorist?

The Guardian reports that the FBI defines terrorism thus:

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

So, is Donald John Trump a terrorist?

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

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

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

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

Well, so’s the other guy:

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

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

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

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

Let them eat towels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or is it just that he makes them look good?

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

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

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

Ah said oops upside yo head…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Postscriptum:

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

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

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

Can’t we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And on it goes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bound straight for Hell

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

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

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

By Christ, you’re hard to love.

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

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

How doomed exactly are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s hope, anyway.

Postscriptum

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

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Grind them into dust!

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

Is he looking at charges?

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

According to The Guardian:

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

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

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

Loving it! LOL

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Law and Disorder

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

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

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

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

That sequence of events did not please the tabloid press.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Granny Weatherwax: Bi-polar Disorder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The BogPo writes, on the subject of context:

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

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

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

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

Grrr.

X

An important message to the BBC Executive Board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we think is more important than what you know.

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

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

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

HAVE YOU UNDERSTOOD THAT, BBC?

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

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

Thank you.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what have we learned?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tripoli bombing. (Google images)

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

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

What a surprise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In God we trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s never going to end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It really will not do.

x

The rule of law as it applies to the Conservatives

Look.

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

Comex Two, Stately Home, blah.

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

They are mostly illiterate baboons in any case.

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

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

Surely I can make up my own mind?

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

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

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

This week we read the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sick sons of bitches.

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

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

DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM.

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

 

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

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

They hate our way of life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As if!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can manage our own atrocities, thank you.

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

 

Postscriptum

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck them. DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM.

In the long run we’re all dead.

Isn’t he just priceless?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a loser.

x

xAmericans? Fuck ’em, says Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

I couldn’t possibly comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pew, it smells rather strongly of stable…”

x

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Saving money by design”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Altogether now…

x

And idiots who don’t…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brickbats and bureaucrats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Street of Shame

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

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

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

But dammit, we invented freedom of the press!

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

Then camed Murdoch.

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

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

Instead we are entering a new era of barbarism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food for thought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Telegraph subsequently carried a story headed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We should be told.

But we probably won’t be.

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

 

Meanwhile, back in the Swamp…

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

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

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

Is there any end to this shit?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re fucked, America.

 

Mr Big-head

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, I was right about Cameron and the referendum!

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

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

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

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

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

*not.

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

So he never needs to work again?

Actually, he’s cheap at the price.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A man with a wallet for a brain

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

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

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

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

It has been known about for over a century.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re fucked, America.

And so are we.

x

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

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

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

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

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

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

That would be corruption.

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

 

Oh God, please make it stop! #2

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

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

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

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

But there you are.

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

It didn’t go well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You mean there are other things that were known?

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

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

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

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

I couldn’t possibly comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Bang to rights

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

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

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

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

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

His case has just concluded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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