Donny and Kimmy: The on-again, off-again fatty bromance… A Nobel ambition… The trouble with headlines… The true purpose of diplomacy… GW: Yemen hurricane… Despair is setting in…

“Yes, I’m willing to talk to any thuggish criminal dictator.” (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is believed to be contemplating a Pyongyang visit.)

Donny and Kimmy: The on-again, off-again fatty bromance.

There seems little point in writing about those two bears, Donny and Kimmy’s on-again, off-again fatty bromance, until it’s either on or off. It could go right to the wire, and the suspense is killing us.

Trump’s bizarre love tweet to the North Korean dictator, suggesting they could run away together, exchanging tanning tips and diet recipes mixed in with dire threats of nuclear options – “love me or I’ll kill myself and you and the kids too” – was apparently personally dictated by the Orange Imbecile himself, to some amanuensis with basic spelling and grammar skills.

As it was Donny who called off their big date, it seems a bit rich that he’s blaming Kimmy for the breakup.

But that’s serial abusers for you.

(So, what’s it to be instead, eh, Pumpkin? (Ed. writes.) Could it be the breaking news of Donny Jr’s flirtation with Russian organized crime, as uncovered in Spanish investigators’ wiretaps of Aleksandr Torshin, a Putin ally and Central Bank contact who may have been the conduit from a known mafia boss for millions of laundered dollars sent via the National Rifle Association (of which he is a long-term member) to fund the Trump campaign on a promise of “closer relations” with sanctioned oligarchs?

Or could it be the relationship that’s been uncovered by the New York Times between Michael Cohen and Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, that reportedly led via an intermediary, Andrew Intrater, to a payment of over half a million dollars into the slush fund Cohen was operating via an obscure shell company in Delaware, out of which he appears to have been paying hush money to Trump’s various bits on the side?

(We recall, it was Vekselberg who among others attended Trump’s inauguration along with Kremlin lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who had previously met with Donny Jr, Manafort and Kushner at Trump Tower to discuss, er, the problems of adopting Russian babies.)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5293361/FBI-concerned-Russians-inauguration.html

Or could it be what Rudy Giuliani has now admitted is a total fabrication of Trump’s, concerning an FBI informant inside his campaign camp, spying for Hillary and the black guy? Yet another red herring cooked up to try to throw the Mueller probe off-balance. And when is the puerile oaf finally going to let the shoe drop, that he got elected somehow and that’s that, and he should just get on with whatever insanity he has planned for everyone?

The FBI’s investigation – as opposed to the Mueller investigation – of the fake-news Russia Thing is getting increasingly murky and convoluted, with more leaky back-channels turning up between members of the Trump family campaign and Russian crime figures than Mount Kilueia has spawned magma-spewing fissures. But as The Pumpkin has been saying all along, it’s about the money, stupid.

To put it at its absolute simplest, this story is about a bunch of very clever, wealthy people with connections to the criminal underworld in Moscow getting their hooks into a bunch of complete dimwits in the hastily arranged, under-strength and under-funded campaign to elect a dreadful old made-for-TV fraud desperate for money to the useful position of President of the United States, from whom they could buy favors.

No collusion.

(More brackets… and let’s not lose sight of Trump Sr’s own previous brushes with the Moscow Mafia, such as his old relationship via his business partner Felix Sater with the feared crime boss, Semyon Mogilevitch, who lost a packet investing in his failed Atlantic City casino adventure and Trump SoHo – as reported by BBC Panorama’s John Sweeney.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hPtC2KjF4k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N5Kun2sJPA

But maybe we won’t write about those stories after all.

Because there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it.

It’s just a new form of entertainment for the masses.

x

A Nobel ambition

It seems perfectly clear to The Pumpkin, he tells me over coffee and toast, that Trump’s desperate attempts to push the Singapore summit with Kim Jong-un back onto the rails has less to do with achieving peace in our time, than with the meme his advisors have firmly planted between his furry old, golden ears; that realm where profound disturbance reigns.

If he pulls this deal off, they whisper, he’ll be a shoo-in for the Peace Prize.

It would indeed be ironic if this braggadocious and abusive armchair warrior with his five draft deferments, his threats of violence against opponents, his probably illegal drone strikes and his trillion-dollar military budget were even to be nominated to the committee.

Ironic too, if the award were to go more properly to Kim and his southern counterpart, Mr Moon; since it has been the two of them, with a little help from Korea’s neighbors, who have brokered the historic achievement for which the Orange Imbecile gives himself the credit. Not by making peace overtures, but by threatening to annihilate North Korea. Shades of ’53.

There is as yet no guarantee that Kim will abandon his nuclear weapons without an end to US threats, sanctions and blatant intimidation; an end to Bolton, Pompeo and Pence’s talk of a possible “Libya solution”, implying military-led regime change in the north and the humiliating downfall of the Kim dynasty.

The only person with whom Kim has even mentioned removing the nukes is Moon: it’s still an enormous bone of contention with Washington.

Why then is Trump so keen to propose himself for the Nobel award? Not a difficult question to answer: just general reasons, we suspect.

One is the prospect of someone, anyone in the world independently validating his presidency, which to date has been pretty much a total flop bar the tax giveaway to his donors, and an insult to democracy.

It would be one in the eye for his critics, who appear to include everyone on the planet not actually sitting mutely in the Republican seats in Congress, their lips sealed with Koch money.

It would be one in the eye too for the Mueller inquiry, which Trump has always seen not as a criminal investigation but as a Democrat plot to question and undermine his legitimacy.

And it would confirm the place in history he has convinced himself he undoubtedly deserves.

It would mean too that he could say in his private moments aside with the ghosts of his contemptuous daddy Fred, who always belittled him by comparison with his drunken but cleverer elder brother, and his cold-hearted momma: “look at me, I’m flying!”

But more to the point, it must be utterly galling to him that “44”, the Black Man in the White House, got his Nobel first, and for doing practically nothing, just giving a few brave speeches in English, with joined-up sentences.

The Korean deal is purely a vanity project, for the failure of which Trump has transparently already been preparing his dumbfucks and his critics in the media alike with disarming remarks about the possibility that nothing will come of the talks, but hey, you win some, you lose some….

It’s not like him to wear a cloak of modesty, but it could quite impress the committee that he’s not being too brash about the prospect of unavoidable success.

x

The trouble with headlines

Ketamine is a “banned substance” in Britain, a Class B drug, but it is sometimes medically prescribed for pain relief and for use in anesthesia, and of course for doping racehorses.

So we are to understand from a complaint upheld by the Press Complaints Commission (now known as IPSO), by the shockbitch columnist, Katie Hopkins against the Daily Mirror.

” She was concerned most readers would believe she had been detained for taking drugs, rather than alleged racism.”

Probably owing to the extinction of we subeditors as a species, the Mirror had carelessly compressed a story that The Hop had been taking ketamine for a shoulder injury into another story, that she had been chucked out of South Africa for spreading racial hatred. The implication of the headline, false as it happens, being that she was expelled for drug use.

So warped is the woman, so hopelessly befuddled, a known side-effect of taking ketamine, that she appears to imagine spreading racial hatred is okay, but taking a Class B drug in a country where it’s legal in medical form is not.

(Yes, that was intended as satire. In fact, her many fans would find drug use entirely unacceptable.)

About a month ago, I was forced to sign a petition calling on the Home Office to permit the medical use of cannabis, in order to help save the life of a child with a rare disorder amenable to treatment with the drug, which is available in medical form in many other countries.

That it is not licensed here is a scandal, sheer hypocrisy, as Britain is one of the largest exporters of medical cannabis to the world. But the politicians remain obdurate: no way will they risk seeing headlines in the Sun newspaper or the Daily Mail, screaming that they’ve gone soft in the absurd “war on drugs”, that will never be won and is killing people by the tens of thousands.

Ms Hopkins, who has a painful shoulder, poor thing (let’s hope it’s her tweeting arm), however should be careful: as, according to the Wikipedia article:

“In 1989, psychiatry professor John Olney reported ketamine caused irreversible changes, known as Olney’s lesions, in two small areas of the rat brain.”

Maybe she’d be safer with just a handful of aspirin?

 

The true purpose of diplomacy

From the weirdly computer-voiced Politics News, a YouTube commentary channel:

“US ambassador quits — and just exposed the Trump administration. On his way out, the former U.S. ambassador to Panama likened President Donald Trump to a “velociraptor” who destroys any obstacles in his path.

“This article was originally published at Salon.

“‘In private, he is exactly like he is on TV, except that he doesn’t curse in public,’ John D. Feeley told the New Yorker. ‘He’s like a velociraptor. He has to be boss, and if you don’t show him deference he kills you.’ Former Marine Corps helicopter pilot and career diplomat, Feeley announced his resignation from his diplomatic post earlier this year, saying he could no longer serve under the Trump administration.

“In an op-ed for the Washington Post, titled ‘Why I Could No Longer Serve This President,’ Feeley explained that Trump had ‘warped and betrayed’ what he considered as ‘the traditional core values of the United States.’ He wrote, ‘America is undoubtedly less welcome in the world today.'” – Politics News.

Aw, what a liddle snowflake!

At his first meeting with Trump following his nomination, Ambassador Feeley recalls, the President asked him, “So what’s in it for us? What can we get from Panama?”

I’ll bet you’re not in the least bit surprised, shocked or offended by that, are you? (I’m not even going to ask how the Panama Papers got leaked, or why. It’s none of my business.) Trump views the presidency purely as a license to beg for loose change in the world’s streets.

x

GW: Yemen hurricane

As if war, plague and famine are not enough, Yemen is about to experience – a hurricane.

Jeff Masters at Wunderground writes (22 May): “This forecast has TC 2A approaching landfall near the Oman-Yemen border (25 or 26 May) as a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds and a central pressure of 960 mb…”

24 May, BBC reports:

“The island chain of Socotra, famed for unique plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet, is coping with the aftermath of a powerful cyclone. The archipelago was struck by Cyclone Mekunu on Wednesday night, leaving at least 19 people missing and forcing its native population to flee floodwaters. Socotra is part of Yemen.”

Floodlist reports authorities calling for international aid as low-lying coastal areas were flooded by a tidal surge. “Residents of Socotra are still recovering from damage caused by the recent Cyclone Sagara which struck the island on 17 to 18 May, 2018.”

Sea temperature in the Arabian Gulf is around 32C, 5.5C higher than the lowest temperature required for hurricanes to form. The main danger is from intense rainfall: “Salalah (population 340,000) is a major port city and tourist destination, and receives just five inches of rain per year on average. The region could easily see double that amount of rain from TC 2A, leading to significant flash flooding.”

STOP PRESS Friday pm 25 May: Mekunu has reportedly strengthened to a Cat 3 with a sustained windspeed of 115 mph and is heading at 10 mph straight for the city of Salalah. This is not – repeat not – normal weather for the region. Wunderground reports:

“Waves estimated by JTWC as high as 32 feet will be slamming into the coast atop a significant storm surge. Because Mekunu is making landfall at a nearly perpendicular angle, its winds will be slamming against a wall of mountains just a few miles inland from Salalah that extend up to 4900 feet in elevation. The upslope flow will greatly enhance local rainfall totals on the seaward slopes of these mountains, and the runoff will pour down normally dry valleys known as wadis onto the coastal plain into and near Salalah, with the risk of potentially devastating flash floods on top of any surge-related flooding along the coast. Residents in valleys and low-lying areas were advised to evacuate by Oman Civil Defense, according to the Khaleej Times.”

Wunderground also reports, “invest 90L”, the first possible hurricane of the Atlantic season is causing some interest in the Gulf of Mexico, currently as a disorganised tropical storm off the coast of Belize but moving north. The first name on the Atlantic list of storms for 2018 is Alberto.

Weather blogger, MrMBB333 later remarks that Alberto is organizing around an eye, that it runs the risk of stalling over the coast, like Harvey did last year, dumping huge rain – and that its forecast track thereafter is remarkably similar to that of hurricane Sandy, that trashed New York city a while back.

One we missed a couple of weeks ago: “An exceptionally rare subtropical storm appears to have formed off the central coast of Chile in the southeast Pacific Ocean, typically one of the world’s most tropical cyclone devoid ocean basins The cyclone formed late last weekend several hundred miles west of the South American coast.” – The Weather Channel.

Your old Granny W. just needs to show you the menu for Climate and Extreme Weather News #120, released last night, 22 May; and four days later, #121:

Afghanistan: Flash floods Cyclone Sagar Pakistan: Heatwave  India: Tripura flood; Uttarakhand wildfires & heatwaves Sri Lanka: Floods & landslides Indonesia: Sulawesi floods China: Chongqing landslide; Wanzhou flood & southern heatwave Russia: Siberian wildfires; Krasnodar flood; Dagestan flash flood & Yakutia Spring floods Spain: Lucena & Ciudad Rodrigo flash floods Portugal: Alcoutim flash flood Turkey: Ankara hailstorm/flash flood Egypt: Heatwave The USA & Canada: inc. Oklahoma storm Mexico: Huejutla, Apizaco & CDMX hailstorms/flash floods Guatemala: Floods Venezuela: Puerto La Cruz flash flood… and add #121: Cyclone Mekunu  Kazakhstan: Astana windstorm Indonesia: Pekalongan & Kaitetu floods Sri Lanka: Floods  Pakistan: Karachi heatwave  India: Heatwaves China: Sichuan floods & Hong Kong heatwave Australia: Perth storm Europe: Thunderstorms, hailstorms & flash floods Canada: Heat & Snow  USA: Ft Collins hailstorm….

This is getting mad.

Pakistan: 65 people have died as a result of heat-related conditions in the city of Karachi, where temperatures have loitered for days over 44C, 112F.

Kazakhstan: horrendous storm trashes Astana. 9 injured, buildings damaged in wind strong enough to propel a cast-iron park bench along the street.

China: major flooding in Sichuan province after heavy rains. 90,000 affected in Lichuan city, buildings collapse, crops lost. Meanwhile, Hong Kong swelters after days at 35C-plus (95F).

India: Floods in Tripura have killed at least 6 and displaced over 20 thousand. Uttarakhand in northern India is experiencing many wildfires started by farmers burning stubble, fears are growing for the air quality in places like Srinagar and New Delhi. In Rajasthan, Maharashtra and other parts of central India a 40C-plus heatwave may peak this week at up to 50C, 122F. Monday 21 May, the capital, New Delhi experienced 44C, 112F .

Sri Lanka: “Over 80,000 people have now been affected by floods, according to disaster management officials. More heavy rain has fallen since the flooding began on 20 May and 12 people have now lost their lives.” Over 20 thousand are “in need of assistance”.

Australia: huge storm batters Perth, WA. 100 km/h winds, power outages… and wildfires!

New Zealand: South Island, record snow – 40 cm dumped in a night.

Uganda: “heavy rainfall in eastern Uganda from around 22 May caused the River Manafura to break its banks. Local media report that around 150 homes have been flooded, forcing (2,000) people to evacuate to nearby schools or churches.” It’s been raining there for several weeks.

Russia: vast areas of Siberia are now burning and many parts resemble the aftermath of a nuclear war, with nothing living, everything blackened for miles. Torrential rain has flooded the city of Krasnodar.

Turkey: The capital, Ankara is battered by an extreme hailstorm, streets turned to rivers of ice, etc.

Meanwhile, Europe is hotting up, with near-heatwave conditions expected everywhere. There’s been flash-flooding in Spain and Portugal, while: ”

“Storms across northern Europe have caused surface flooding in Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and France, including the capital Paris. The region has seen several violent storms over the last few days, in particular on 22 May, where Meteo France said that 13,964 lightning strikes were reported across the country. The storms also brought hail – some areas of Germany have recorded hail 50 cm deep – strong winds and localised heavy downpours which have flooded streets and damaged homes. No fatalities have been reported.” (Floodlist, 24 May)

France, 26 May, Violent hailstorms hit western France destroying swaths of vineyards and killing a girl out walking with her parents in a park in Mayenne. The sudden and powerful storms that struck the Bordeaux and Charentais winemaking regions on Saturday took residents by surprise.  Wine growers from famous names fear the loss of two years’ production after also being hit by frosts earlier in the year. (Buy now!)

UK: the Bank Holiday weekend is/was expected to produce temperatures getting up to 30C, 86F as a plume of warmer air arrives from Spain. (I say “expected”: glorious until yesterday, it’s turned cold and rainy under lowering skies in Boglington today, Friday. This happens every year.

27 May, BBC reported: “Storms have caused flash flooding across parts of Birmingham. The Environment Agency has issued multiple flood warnings and alerts are in place across the West Midlands. A Met Office amber weather warning is in place for the region.” 2.25 inches of rain – a month of May’s worth – fell in one hour.

Scrolling through impressive photos of some of the more than 15 thousand lightning bolts recorded in four hours during the night as heavy storms moved up from France and pounded the south of England. Stansted airport briefly out of action. Even hardened weather forecasters have been saying they’ve seen nothing like it. (A solitary fly has entered the studio. Welcome, stranger.)

Despite the late winter cold snap, bookies are offering odds on 2018 being the warmest year on record. Meanwhile:

The USA and Canada are warming too after a bitter winter – wildfire alerts are once again a feature as Canada expects record high temperatures to set in. A wildfire in the Prince Albert country park, Alberta, has already consumed 31 thousand Ha. and other fires in Saskatchewan have forced whole towns to evacuate. Meanwhile to the east, it’s snowing in Newfoundland. In Colorado, a huge hailstorm has battered Fort Collins (rivers of ice, etc.). Otherwise record heat is forecast for the midwest.

(Reports edited from CEWN #120, #121/ Floodlist/ the Guardian/ BBC News/ Guardian

 

Despair is setting in

Your old gran is not sure how long she can go on with this before topping herself. It is becoming depressingly more apparent with every week that passes that we are completely screwed. There is no magic bullet that can stop this process from playing out inexorably, we have left it far too late. We cannot change course now.

And no, it’s not the stupid “Grand Solar Minimum”, that doesn’t exist other than as another bullshit bogus scientific meme punted around the dumbfuck YouTube dwellers by the fossil-fuel ecocides to absolve themselves of blame for the ongoing mass extinction, while they continue to bask in a Trump-led rise in oil prices following his precipitate announcement on the Iran “deal”. Gasoline here is now 9 pence (14 cents) a liter at the pump more than two weeks ago, possibly a Good Thing as we might be encouraged to burn less. (Oh, no, sorry, the oil price just slumped again as OPEC has started furiously pumping, to keep demand up.)

What is killing us is not the sun, you dumbfucks and lizard brains. “Minimum” means just that: the lowest level of activity! It’s the runaway greenhouse effect. It’s CO2 at 412ppm and methane venting from the Arctic, caused by burning billions of tonnes annually of coal, oil and natural gas for 170 years, pumping heat-retaining gases remorselessly into the air and sea,

Got it yet?

(The BogPo will be publishing a special 44-page report next week, edited from all the Granny Weatherwax’s Global Warming columns from the past year. Read it and weep.)

 

Send us a sign. Make it a different one.

One small ray of hope; I have spotted a fly in the kitchen!

Yes, it may be a sign that all is not yet lost. Although there are no bees flying anywhere in the valley*, despite the masses of May blossom; the lilac, and the opening wildflowers. And no blowflies at all on the rotting marrowbone Hunzi has been guarding in the garden.

Indeed, Hunzi and I recorded only one flying invertebrate on a 45-minutes’ walk through the valley yesterday, an unidentifiable species of large, brown horsefly or possibly a beetle, I didn’t have my glasses with me, poised on one of the many fading blossoms at the end of a spectacular display by a solitary rowan tree.

Rowan blossom has a faint carrion smell that might not attract bees, but must surely call to flies from miles around. Yet there was just the one.

But look, there’s a fly in the kitchen! Alleluja! They’re not yet extinct!

Er… Oh. I think I may have just accidentally trapped it in the fridge….

*No, beg pardon, we found two honeybees gathering pollen on a hawthorn by the river last night. You may be too young to remember the deep humming of thousands of bees in the summer meadows.)

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I lasted 18 seconds… You can’t eat a fucking Social Mobility Action Plan, Mrs May… Poisoning the diplomatic atmosphere…GW: Dead…

Pulling strings: Nigel Farage commands the fish to rise from the waters. (Sky News)

“Even a second series of The Night Manager would suck less air out of the schedules.”

 I lasted 18 seconds

Forty or so years ago there used to be a pretty anodyne and harmless but highly rated family quiz on Sunday evening primetime TV. You tended to put it on in the suburban background in lieu of anything else, other than getting remorselessly pissed on gin, there being only one and a half channels to watch and no Netflix in those good old days.

From left: £4.2 million; £3.5 million. (BBC/ David Venni) Uncle Bogler (top): £ zero million. Oh well, next time.

All-singing, all-dancing, genial master of the catchphrase: “Alright, muh luvs?” “Nice to see you, to see you nice”, etcetera – (I never promised you a prose garden, btw) – Bruce Forsyth would get contestants to stuff a duvet blindfolded in under half a minute by the big counting-down studio clock, whatever, make fools of themselves, ask them some easy questions and they’d get a chance to go away happy with a pile of crap from the pound shop, items they’d memorized going around on a conveyor belt (“Cuddly toy!”), with a main prize usually of a small, silently rusting British Leyland car to astound an audience living on five quid a week, as one was.

National treasure, Sir Brucey twirled off for the last time into the wings last year, aged 180. (“Didn’t he do well?”) So now the BBC has revived his old show with the help of the rest of the Strictly Come Dancing “comedy” presentation team: usually quite funny comedienne hoping to go straight, Sue Perkins and her besty, Mel Gdrcie (Are you sure about the spelling? Ed.), lavishing a fortune bled from your £145.50 a year TV license fee on brightly colored sets, bizarre costumes, props and raising the heights of the TV Centre doorways for special guest Richard Osman to pass through.

Unfortunately money is not, and never has been, an adequate substitute for creative originality. You need more sparkly tat.

So, anyway, if you don’t know who Richard Osman is, ask his mother. A gameshow host, promoted from Assistant Gameshow Host (“the scores, please, Richard, and cut the smartypants ad-libbing!”) he supplements his daytime TV income from a show appropriately called Pointless!, where I think the idea is contestants start with points and have to lose them, by making frequent appearances on other gameshow hosts’ gameshows.

It’s nowadays impossible that an entertainment can be created just for the TV audience (controversy has already arisen over whether the studio audience lives in a can or just shares a strange laugh that breaks out for no obvious reason now and again); Osman appeared to be one of an entire panel of “celebrity” experts invited at great expense to sit next to the stage and comment on the performance of a fat lady spinning plates. I mention Osman so frequently, only because I do at least know who he is. He’s unmistakably tall.

Even a second series of The Night Manager would suck less air out of the schedules.

Within ten seconds I was already feeling as if I’d had a flannel full of Novichok stuffed in my face. Switching off Sue and Mel’s Generation Game moments later was purely an autonomic reflex before paralysis set in. Fortunately they’re only making two in the “series”, although I have my suspicions.

Disapproving of the product, a cheap cigarette brand made from the floor sweepings at Imperial Tobacco after the night shift had gone home, under duress I once wrote an ad campaign that was so deliberately far downmarket, I’d hoped it would never get up again. The normal response to a similar campaign might with luck just be 1.5%. My hideously garish, illiterate, insulting mailshot pulled 16%. I was the hero of the hour.

No-one ever got anywhere overestimating the tastes of a bussed-in British TV audience, either. I thought those people had gone extinct in the 1980s, but… Brexit?

Look forward then to an extended run, maybe as the nights start lengthening in the Autumn and the realities of our economic situation set in, a return to the 1980s will seem attractive. In a week or so, even hardened Guardian critics will be polishing up phrases like “all good family fun” so as not to seem out of touch with the zeitgeist.

Oh. They already are.

Floral wallpaper, anybody?

 

“It’s the grey skin, the pallor. It’s the pallor you really notice.”

You can’t eat a fucking Social Mobility Action Plan, Mrs May.

Four out of five head teachers are reporting growing signs of malnutrition and sickness among their pupils.

A report compiled with the Child Poverty Action Group, presented at the annual conference of the National Education Union in Brighton reveals that many schools are having to devote increasing time and resources, not to improving test results, but to social action programs to try to relieve the consequences of nine years of knuckleheaded, attritional Government cuts to welfare, universal child benefit, tax credits – creating adverse knock-on social deficits, such as massive reductions in local government safeguarding services.

Among measures they are having to take are:

  • Creating food banks and handing out food parcels
  • Teachers supplementing meagre ‘bread and margarine’ lunches out of their own pockets
  • Providing free uniforms and laundry facilities to keep homeless children looking clean
  • Staying open during holidays with volunteer teachers providing meals
  • Offering free debt counselling
  • Providing emergency loans to families.

One head from Nottingham noted:

“Monday morning is the worst. There are a number of families that we target that we know are going to be coming into school hungry. By the time it’s 9.30am they are tired. It’s the grey skin, the pallor. It’s the pallor you really notice.”

Another from Portsmouth, said there had been a four-fold increase in the number of children with child protection issues. “Every one of these issues has had something to do with the poverty that they live in. It’s neglect. It’s because they and their families don’t have enough money to provide food, heating or even bedding.”

Head teachers acknowledged that many of the parents of these starving children are working poor, who would be marginally better off on benefits.

The Department of Education has responded with the following:

(We want) “to create a country where everyone can go as far as their talents can take them. That’s why we launched our social mobility action plan, which sets out measures to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged students and their peers…”

Mmm, yummy. Nutritious action plan for lunch again.

Dear God, voters of Britain, when will you look up from your stupid fucking phones, instruments of social control, and throw these diseased incompetents on the bonfire of history? No civilized country should be managed like this in the 21st century.

How anyone could tolerate the continuance of this demented, morally bankrupt Tory government whose sole economic policy is, and has been for some time, to deliberately starve children of the food their brains need to “close the educational attainment gap”, is quite beyond me.

The sixth largest economy in the world and we cannot house, clothe or feed our people. Yet our crazy housing market adds two thousand paper millionaires to the heap each year. It’s obscene.

As is the brutal illogicality of spending millions on remedial action (as they claim to be doing. The evidence suggests they are lying) to “reduce child poverty” at the same time as depriving parents of the income they need to reduce child poverty.

No?

(Edited from a BBC News report, 02 April: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-43611527)

 

So who could help feed Britain’s 120 thousand homeless children, and why should they?

“British wealth rose to a record £12.8 trillion in June 2016” (Cityam.com, who genuinely have a banking correspondent called Jasper Jolly…)

“A quarter of all new UK wealth goes to millionaires” (Oxfam report). “A total of 3.6 million households in Britain held wealth of more than £1m by June 2016, up 29% in two years” (BBC, quoting Office for National Statistics.)

“With the number of millionaires on the up, the wealth of the top 10 per cent of households was five times that of the bottom half combined by the end of 2016.” (thisismoney.co.uk)

“The £2 million given to him to help buy a home in the capital includes payments of £28,000 a month to cover mortgage interest. These total £740,000 since he took the top job in the summer of 2015. He will keep any profit he makes on the swish apartment if he decides to sell or rent it out. In addition to interest payments, the Pru handed Wells £514,000 to cover stamp duty on his new home – enough to buy a £5 million property. Because the payment is a taxable benefit, he was given £330,000 to settle his bill with Revenue & Customs. The company paid £200,000 for his possessions to be shipped across the Atlantic. He was also given £178,000 for temporary accommodation while he was waiting for the purchase to complete. That takes the total he has received for housing costs to £1.96 million. On top of that, he received £37,000 last year to cover flights back to the US. Wells’s package came to £8.7 million last year, taking his total pay and bonuses since he became chief executive in June 2015 to £23.6 million.” (thisismoney.co.uk on the staggering remuneration package of the Prudential UK CEO, Mike Wells.)

Of course, he may give it all away to Britain’s legions of grey children. Who knows, stranger things have happened.

 

Poisoning the diplomatic atmosphere….

As diplomatic relations slip through the rabbit-hole into an Alice in Wonderland world of threats and conspiracy theories, many of them thrown up by the wily Russian who succeeded as ambassador to the UN, a predecessor whose autopsy following his sudden death a year ago has been marked Classified, the odd case of the Salisbury Poisoner continues to raise many apparently unanswerable questions.

The Pumpkin has asked many of these right from the beginning. It has been said, for instance, that novichok A232 is a virtually instantaneously acting nerve agent, whose lethality decays over time. Yet the Skripals apparently spent several hours having lunch in town after they were supposedly contaminated at home, before they were found unconscious on a park bench.

And they have both apparently survived; unlike a Russian banker and his secretary who were also poisoned with a novichok agent in Moscow in 1995 and died almost immediately. A tribute to the skills of the NHS, I expect.

If A232 decays to the point of non-lethality, then why is it that people in suits are still scraping around Salisbury weeks later looking for traces of it to decontaminate? What do they expect to find?

Who uses their front door handle to close the door behind them?

What was Skripal doing with two guinea-pigs in the house? (Dimwitted Plod apparently sealed-up the house, leaving the Skripals’ two cats and the guinea-pigs inside to die of thirst and starvation. One of the cats was eventually taken, barely alive, to Porton Down for examination for traces of nerve agent but had to be put down by a vet. The other has gone missing. This is surely a matter for the RSPCA?) I’ll repeat the question. Cats, okay, so James Bond – but what was Skripal doing with two guinea-pigs in the house?

Did he manufacture the A232 himself, for some other purpose? It can be done in your garage, apparently, following some simple instructions available from certain sources. See:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/06/uk-us-case-file-russian-nerve-agent-shikhany-spy-poisoning

Many questions also remain, concerning the contaminated policeman, Detective Sergeant Bailey. It now appears a second, unnamed policeman was also treated in hospital. Why has he remained unnamed thus far, but not Bailey? Did Skripal have a security detail – or just a tail?

Where did they come into contact with the A232? If it was at the house, as was reported, then how did the police know to go there before the couple had been identified or a nerve agent had even been pinpointed as the cause of the Skripals’ distress? When in the timeline did that happen – as it’s not the most likely scenario?

If someone had searched the unconscious Skripal’s pockets and found an address, how were they not also contaminated?

If the nerve agent had been suspected before Sgt Bailey went to the house, why did he go there unprotected? Was Sgt Bailey indeed the “first responder” at the scene – a detective sergeant, called out to a report of two people who, witnesses say, looked like drunks or druggies on a park bench?

If he had been, then he surely would not have been the one to go straight to the house….  as he would have been too busy making reports at the scene. Did he already know who the Skripals were, and where they lived?

Was someone anticipating just this scenario?

Nothing adds up and I doubt it ever will. But if I were Yulia Skripal, I certainly would not want to go back to Moscow with Cousin Viktoria.

Just sayin’.

 

GW:

“The greatest declines were seen in west Antarctica. At eight of the ice sheet’s 65 biggest glaciers, the speed of retreat was more than five times the rate of deglaciation since the last ice age” – cpom.org.uk

With a current 4C 2m/surface temperature anomaly, Antarctica is now coming in for the scare story treatment as scientists find that most of the melting is going on unnoticed, UNDERNEATH the vast ice shelves and glaciers.

“The results could prompt an upward revision of sea-level rise projections.” – (UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling.)

Spring 2017

Dead

In April last year I’d already begun posting in amazement at the incredible outpouring of biomass I’d observed in our valley. The speed and volume of growth so early in the year were, in my view, unprecedented.

Climbers fighting for light, 2017.

Trees that would not normally crown before May were already densely and – for a change – healthily in leaf; wildflowers were blooming, the nearby playing fields covered in snowy mats of daisies; ground-cover and climbing plants fighting for light in the densely packed hedgerows and head-high clumps of already berrying brambles.

Just outside my studio, five years ago I planted perennial herbs. A border hedge of rosemary; oregano, that would be covered in bees, a clump of thyme. And a rather expensive, miniature ornamental Japanese acer.

They’re all dead.

As is most of a hebe I planted three years ago in the front garden; although a couple of other plantings seem healthy – a hydrangea labelled ‘hardy’ seems to be just that, coming into leaf. The early clematis Hendersonii is in flower…

But nothing much has come to life in the valley. I’m walking Hunzi along paths lined with dried-out, dead last-year’s vegetation, withered brambles, a few bearing stricken early leaf buds; here and there ivy, leaves turning brown at the tips, shrivelled berries; evergreens looking blasted and ever-brown; clumps of bleached grass; a few daisies, celandine and dandelions showing, but nothing like the riot of exuberance we had this time last year.

Spring 2018.

Evergreens turning brown.

Now, okay, admittedly it has been a colder winter, later than we’ve had for a while. But not nearly as cold or snowy here on the west coast as in the east. Cold and wet. And I haven’t seen any flying insects at all (no, a few midges came out yesterday with the sun and I was buzzed by a solitary foraging bee on our walk in the rain just now. It won’t find anything.) While the birds started nesting in February, I’m wondering what they’re getting to eat?

Then, I’m seeing too that these die-offs appear to be recent, and simultaneous, although the hardest frost was three weeks ago. It’s like Russia has sprayed everything overnight with weedkiller.

Is it something we’ve done?

USA: caught in a loop of the jetstream, Winter Storm Wilbur is dumping another foot of snow over the northern states, from the Rockies to the Great Lakes, as the song goes. It’s the fifth major winter storm event of the year, but it’s a double-whammy as a second front is also hitting the east coast, including New York. Too warm to settle for long, though.

“A powerful late-season atmospheric river is headed for central California late this week, with the potential to bring near-record rains for April … Intense rain rates on Friday night will pose a flood risk in the Sierra Nevada, where the runoff will be bolstered by rain-induced snowmelt. By Saturday, high winds and heavy rains will rake parts of western Oregon and Washington … ‘This is really an historic event …’ said Cliff Mass (University of Washington)”.

“Torrential rain, strong winds, lightning strikes and flash floods hit parts of Indiana and Illinois” on 3 April, Indianapolis recording its wettest ever April day. Local forecasts for Phoenix Az. are predicting the return of 100F, 39C temperatures next week – still early mid-April. Dangerous UV levels already being measured.

Canada: powerful winds knock down buildings in Ontario.

Meanwhile northern Europe and Russia have also seen extreme cold and heavy snow persisting well into spring. These huge pools of arctic air make the northern hemisphere look like Narnia, but elsewhere across Africa, the middle East, the SW US, Australia there are enough hotspots still to keep global temperatures marginally above the 1980-2011 average for March/April.

Bangladesh, Nepal: 7 killed in severe storms, massive hail smashes houses down.

Brazil: STILL raining intensively in many areas, flash floods, cities underwater in Goias province and elsewhere. In Mexico, an intense hailstorm reduces streets in Tlalpan to rivers of ice.

Argentina: “Over 50 people were evacuated and dozens of streets closed after flooding in Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz province. Local media reported that the city received 3 times the amount of rain it would normally see for the whole of April.”

Fiji: “At least 4 people (now 6) were killed and another was missing after Cyclone Josie caused severe flooding in the South Pacific island nation. Josie moved past the island of Vitu Levu from 31 March as a category 1 storm, bringing with it heavy rain and wind gusts up to 100 km/h.”

Vanuatu: flash floods destroy homes.

Indonesia: Devastating floods in Sumatra and Java.

Greece: “Several rivers in the Balkans have broken their banks over the last few days, causing flooding in parts of northern Greece, southeastern Bulgaria and northwestern Turkey.” Police are searching for a party of “about 15” migrants thought to be missing after trying to cross a swollen river.

UK: “Snow and heavy downpours closed roads and caused travel disruption throughout the holiday weekend of 31 March to 02 April … Emergency services were called to rescue at least 8 people trapped in flood waters. Up to 10cm (4ins) of snow blanketed areas of north England, north Wales and Scotland. At one point on 02 April there were 271 flood alerts in place…” Interestingly, GW noticed absolutely none of these events taking place locally from her eyrie in Wales. Sorry.

World: “Storms, floods and other extreme weather events are hitting cities much harder than scientists have predicted, said the head of a global network of cities tackling climate change.” According to Mark Watts, executive director of the C40 climate change alliance: “Almost every (C40 member) city is reporting extreme weather events that are off all the scale of previous experience, and ahead of all the modeling of climate change.”

Edited from reports: Boglington Post/ Floodlist/ Wunderground/ MrMBB333 website/ CEWN #107, #108/ Reuter

 

British values… American carnage… Meanwhile, back at the OK Corral… The War on the Poor… It looks like Issue 43 of The Pumpkin (Maybe the last for a while)

British Values

Shortly before this bus exploded, as the fire took hold detainees were forced to remain inside to be handcuffed by Capita goons, who ought now to be put on trial and receive long prison sentences along with their lying, conniving managers, and the Home fucking Secretary, crooked financier Tony’s daughter, Amber Rudd. Decent British people are sickened by this growing abuse of migrants.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/feb/21/home-office-contractors-cuffed-detained-migrants-inside-coach-on-fire

 

American Carnage

“It’s amazing the amount of carnage that one individual can carry out in such a short period of time.”

Thus Florida’s Junior Senator Marco Rubio, marvelling at the power of the AR-15 semi-automatic military-grade assault weapon to tear apart a young human body at close range in the wake of the St Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in idyllic Parkland, Fla.

Little Marco, as the fatuous oaf Trump famously (and seemingly accurately) dubbed him, apparently has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. It means he’s all for it, and they’re all for him, laundered Russian dark-money an’ all.

But he still wants to reserve judgement on the killings until all the facts are in as to how amazing it was.

Like, that the 19 year-old killer, Nikolas Cruz, was legally able under Federal law to purchase an assault weapon at 18 – but not a small handgun, or a beer. You have to be 21 for those.

Like, that the FBI had already recorded the miserable little dork posting on Twitter that he wanted to become ‘a professional school shooter’, but somehow couldn’t trace him even though they knew his name. (How does that level of competence play out when trying to trace the President’s money-laundering operation?)

Like, that the BBC is reporting, social media reveals Cruz to be a paid-up member of a white supremacist gang. (The gang leader has claimed him, the police say the evidence is inconclusive. This being America, others will no doubt link him with Hillary Clinton.)

Like, that he went for a post-spree McDonalds, and had been photographed wearing a Trump: MAGA hat. A true patriot.

So, nothing to see there folks, no Muslims, move on…

It was the eighth school shooting in the US in the last six weeks. Don’t hold your breath for Trump to actually do anything more than wish everyone concerned a happier Valentine’s Day next year and blame the victims for failing to report that Cruz  – fostered after his mother died in 2016 – was depressed and angry.

Trump’s promise to look in on the folks of wherever it was will no doubt coincide conveniently with yet another golfing weekend at Mar-a-Lago, just down the road.

Maybe chuck them some paper towels, mop up the mess.

 

Meanwhile, back at the OK Corral

Addressing a roomful of bloodstained Conservative murder accessories,

“The head of the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) has broken his silence more than a week after the Florida school shooting with a vituperative attack on gun control advocates, accusing them of exploiting the tragedy to push their agenda. “They care more about control, and more of it. Their goal is to eliminate the second amendment and our firearms freedoms so they can eradicate all individual freedoms… They hate the NRA, they hate the second amendment, they hate individual freedom.” – Guardian

If the insane, whining little bitch, gun industry shill Wayne La Pierre has any grandchildren, please God the next school shooting does away with them, the lousy, sick motherfucker. And that the cancer that kills him should be slow and painful.

Thank you.

(PS The Pumpkin has patiently explained before about the Supreme Court ‘Scalia’ ruling on the 2nd Amendment, that it does not prevent controls on the buying, keeping and carrying of guns. Prior rulings on the 2nd have also interpreted ‘militia’ as meaning just that, not some phantom freaking bunch of 21st-century neoNazi redneck zombie psychopaths self-identifying as survivalists in the face of nonexistent threats to their precious fucking liberty. Nor does the 2nd say anything about permitting people on terror watch lists, convicted felons and the mentally ill being encouraged to carry a concealed weapon, as has happened in certain states.)

Twice in the past week The Pumpkin has dreamed of terrible omens. He is ushered into a big room with hundreds of people and invited to take a seat. He looks around at the faces. They are all dead. In another dream he is in a car, in a place with thick walls. A nuclear bomb is exploded alongside them. He is with a group of people. They are dying from radiation sickness. His hair is falling out.

 

But wait half a mo!

“After a golden era of sales under Barack Obama, America’s gun manufacturers are in trouble. Sales have tumbled, leaving the companies with too much stock on their hands and falling revenues. The crunch claimed its biggest victim this week when Remington filed for bankruptcy.”

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/13/remington-bankruptcy-guns-trump-slump-sales

Yes, welcome to ‘The Trump Slump’ – a bizarre effect of Trump’s presidency being that gun sales have fallen off a cliff in the past year. Apparently, the dumbfucks don’t need no mo’ hardware when they think they’ve got a Prezudent in the White House who is not going to take away their 2nd Amendment ‘rights’.

Gun sales actually rocketed during the Obama years as drooling rednecks fantasized about the coming war with Washington.

Overall, gun ownership has been declining since the 1970s and there are now fewer gun owners than ever, according to New York Prof. Robert Spitzer, author of five books on guns (so he should know).

“The US has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world with 88 guns for every 100 people. But just 3% of the population owns an average of 17 guns each, with an estimated 7.7 million super-owners in possession of between eight and 140 guns apiece.”

And apparently it’s these crazies who buy most of the guns, and now America is Great once more, they’re just not interested. Either that, or they’ve noticed that prices of a whole range of day to day household necessities, like food, are already shooting up in the wake of the Trump “bust the budget” tax reforms.

Good news.

Great. And the High School massacre might have come just in time to save Remington and the others. For, every such incident produces a flurry of talk of gun control, and that sends the dumbfucks crazy to the gun store again, clutching their grimy dollars.

 

“What an utterly unspeakable atrocity this man is”

Proof if proof were needed that Donald Trump is in character a thing less than the dirt under the fingernails of humanity has come in his latest Sunday morning tweet.

Not only has the balding sex pest launched another of his pathetic teenage tweets blaming the FBI for the killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, he has again made it all about Donald J Trump and his persecution mania.

Because, he says, the FBI have been too busy trying to prove he colluded with Russia, which everyone knows is a Democrat hoax, to police the safety of the nation’s children.

What an utterly unspeakable atrocity this man is, to turn this horrible tragedy into political point-scoring and a desperate bleat for sympathy, not for the bereaved families, or for the wounded (facing horrific medical bills) but for his loathsome self.

No blame of course attaches to him for ratcheting up the level of rightwing violence in his benighted country. The killer at times sported a Make American Great Again baseball hat, of the kind that Trump’s dumbfuck fans like to wear in their moments of maximum inanity.

Of the kind the President of the United States sells (made in China?) and personally promotes in order to profit from his office.

No blame attaches to him for taking $50 million in Russian ‘dark’ money channeled via the National Rifle Association to support his election campaign, the latest allegation to come from Hillary Clinton, the failed Democrats and their puppets in the lying fake-news media.

He is just like some unpleasant residue you can’t shake off your shoe .

And still the Republican Congress wallows in shame, their corrupt, lying faces firmly jammed up his furry old rectum, smelling heavily of cheeseburger.

 

Trump crooked? Surely not.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a54UVDf7ZaA

This Rachel Maddow story will prove to you as if it needed proving, that this President is a complete crook.

Basically, the NYT has hold of a report as to where the spare change from Trump’s inaugural went.

To his wife’s best friend.

$26 million.

 

“…thanks to the idiotic #metoo and other pro-women campaigns, no-one now dares to challenge the narrative agenda, to see this for what it is.”

A war not on poverty, but on the poor

Another inadvertent hostage to fortune in the campaign against NGOs has been offered by Brendan Cox, the widower of the Labour MP murdered for supporting Remain in the EU referendum by a former member of Britain First!, the deeply patriotic Mosque-burning organization supported in his infinite witlessness by President Donald J Trump.

Since the brutal slaying of his highly-regarded wife, hacked down and shot outside her office by a delusionary neoNazi, the not-unpleasant-looking Mr Cox, caring for their two young children, has been a favorite target of the unspeakable Trump knobgobbler, Nigel Farage and mercilessly trolled with threats of kidnap and murder by the toxic alt-right, claiming absurdly that his charities are “supporting Islamic terrorism”.

Now he’s been outed by the gruesome Mail on Sunday, purportedly a newspaper, as an office Lothario, and he’s had to resign from the charities he set up in his wife’s memory, although the allegations refer to his previous position with the megacharity Save the Children, where the media has been trying for the last fortnight to link them with the Oxfam abuse story.

Now they have all the proof they need that all charities are evil sinkholes of vice and a waste of public money. Well done, Brendan. What did you do, invite a pretty girl out for a drink? Pay an intern a compliment? You monster.

The business of a certain section of the British press is to demonize minorities, and this month it’s the turn of the charity sector, that has seemingly ignored too many of the complaints of its women staffers and volunteers that they’re being propositioned by randy men. No stone has been left unturned in what appears to be an orchestrated campaign from the right to undermine public trust in the sector, which has long been perceived on the international political stage to be inimical to the interests of corrupt oligarchs.

And thanks to the idiotic pop-up #metoo and other pro-women campaigns, no-one now dares to challenge the narrative agenda, to see this for what it is. Yet how quickly the Conservative right has moved to announce that it plans to defund the lefties of Oxfam over the bad behavior of one of its Belgian staffers and a handful of others in the field.

Was it meted in their 1948 Charter to have to declare their internal disciplinary proceedings to the Daily Express? ‘Transparency’ is not something that bothers most large corporations, why should Oxfam be bound by different standards invented on the spur of the moment by hypocritical tabloid editors and their Tory shills?

The giant Medecins Sans Frontières has since come clean. Of its 20 thousand staff and volunteers globally, it has received 24 complaints of sexual harassment in six years, resulting in the firing of 19 people. Perhaps the Conservatives would like to close them down too, withdraw their doctors and nurses from the hellish underground hospitals of Syria and just let the bomb victims and the amputated children bleed out?

Wake up, women. Your noble crusade against Hollywood scumbags has been rapidly misappropriated by disruptors to undermine social organizations of which the right disapproves, believing them to be anti-globalizing forces of the socialist left, opposed to profitable corporate corruption and exploitation. Have they not been moaning for years that Oxfam and others had become too political? Well, now they have their comeuppance, thanks to you. This could have been handled better, no?

Kneejerk patsies like Bishop Desmond Tutu, who has pompously withdrawn his support for Oxfam, could look at the devastation wrought on the global Catholic church by successive abuse scandals and see a pattern. What Oxfam is essentially being accused of is weak supervisory management, that has allowed a tiny number of abusive individuals out of thousands to get away with their behavior. No-one is making the point: you don’t have the same controls over volunteers as you do over employees. You don’t have an economic sanction with which to govern their behavior. Volunteering is about trust.

From that one instance, the rightwing politicians and media have seized on whatever other historic criticisms they can find to build a picture of malevolence, waste and incompetence to bring down a movement that has intended to do only good since their founding 70 years ago. Tutu should be on the side of the weak and use the power of Christian forgiveness to help realign the organization’s values if need be. Instead he has walked into the trap of helping the wealthy and powerful to destroy it. What will be the outcome of that for the weak, the hungry and dispossessed of the world, I wonder?

Then, Tutu always was a bit of a self-promoting idiot.

It’s all part of the “War on the poor” being enthusiastically prosecuted by the US Republicans and their disruptive billionaire pals in Russia and around the world. Defunding the NGOs will kill more poor people, without a doubt. Is that what #metoo and others want? There are real consequences to gender politics.

No-one is advocating sexual violence or harassment or the exercise of male dominance in the workplace. The Pumpkin ought however in the interest of balance to mention that he met both his wives through work, there being nowhere else for driven work-obsessives in the pre-Tinder age to meet potential partners – and that in both cases after a suitable period of observing his behavior at close range and finding him charmingly diffident it was the women who took the initiative (and did the proposing!).

In addition, the Pumpkin modestly but also proudly asserts that he was once voted Rear of the Year by the women in an otherwise all-female editorial office where he worked, and put up with the same lousy wage. While at college, he was made an “honorary lesbian” by the feminist couple who ran the canteen…

Despite a small number of instances at other times of no-doubt inappropriate conduct, boy-on-girl things for which he apologizes, although most of the time he has been rigorously abstemious to the point of cowardice, he explains that it was not an exercise in male dominance, it was just hoping we could have pleasurable sex.

He therefore feels no guilt at saying, women cannot at one and the same time insist that they are strong, yet demand compensation for their relative weakness.

Something more is going on here than meets the eye.

 

A detached view

Speaking of which, things have gone awr-eye. Just as he was seemingly recovering from the last one, the Pumpkin has had to have another operation to reattach the retina and is finding it hard to gaze at this screen for long, being once again totally blind in the shorter-sighted orb.

With tears streaming down his face, he announces what he hopes will be only a temporary suspension of bogling activities. (NB some minor editing may still occur from time to time.)

GW an update

Just to mention, Granny W says episode #94 of Climate and Extreme Weather News is online at YouTube, you can go watch it now. The enhanced seismic activity around the globe is continuing unabated, see the Dutchsinse website, with another M7.1 in Mexico and even a M4.4 in the Bristol Channel; while the Yellowstone swarm and magma intrusions are continuing into their record-breaking 9th month.

Christchurch and two other districts on New Zealand‘s South Island have declared a state of emergency as former cyclone Gita hit the country. Dozens of schools have been shut and roads closed on the South Island as the storm made landfall on Tuesday. Broome in farthest NW Australia has too been hit by yet another cyclone and the town is underwater again – BBC

Temperatures at the North Pole have again gone Celsius-positive, the Bering Straight is ice-free and another hurricane-force system is pushing warm water up into the Arctic.

Yellowstone: 200 more earthquakes have been recorded in the last 10 days.

Pack a bag. Stock up on canned tuna. Read a bible.

CEWN #95 also out 20 Feb. and #96 on 23rd.

 

 

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!

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?

x

“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.

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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.