The Pumpkin – Issue 106: Truth and lies – a postscript… An article of faith… Editing history… Deep Heat… GW: More climate death and disaster…… Tunnel approaching: special report.

A note from the Editor: Readers new to this, muh bogl, may not realize that each new Post will be several days in the making and subject to frequent updates, revisions, additions and corrections, so you may wish to come back later for a second helping of pudding. The conceit being, that it makes the editorial process more fully transparent. Actually it just means I have second thoughts when I’ve sobered up in the morning. The incorporated Pumpkin, by the way, concerns itself mainly with American politics. Look away now.

 

Maxwell (in green dress) at Royal Ascot in 2000, with Prince Andrew (second from left) and Jeffrey Epstein (far right).

Abuse of power: Maxwell, centre, and Andrew, dolled-up at Royal Ascot races

Truth and lies – a postscript

On the very day after House Judiciary Committee chairman, Jerrold Nadler read out the articles of impeachment against Trump, alleging that he’d abused his powers of office for personal electoral gain and attempted to obstruct Congress, Mad King Donald – still insistently protesting that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in 2016 to get his opponent elected – met at the White House with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The effrontery! The chutzpah! Doubtless, Putin sent him over to commiserate.

A report in The Guardian goes on: “The press were barred from the meeting, and were handed a White House statement saying that, among other topics: “President Trump warned against any Russian attempts to interfere in United States elections.”

Now, why would he have done that if he hadn’t prior knowledge based on experience that Russia, rather than Ukraine, might interfere, we wonder? After all, he has said on TV he would welcome interference from wherever, and who wouldn’t

Asked about the statement at a press conference in the Russian embassy later the same afternoon, however, Lavrov claimed: “No, we haven’t even actually discussed elections.”

“Lie la lie, lie la lie lie, lie la lie….” – Paul Simon, The Boxer.

 

An article of faith

The Pumpkin noted while listening to the articles of impeachment being read out by the diminutive Nadler, that the wording has been very, very carefully constructed to accord with what the founders and framers were trying to say about the possibility of the nation electing a corrupt and filthy autocrat as president.

“High Crimes and Misdemeanors” is a peculiar expression, that doesn’t necessarily require the incumbent to have committed a crime in statute law. It’s not about robbing a bank, or murdering the First Lady – not about unpaid parking fines. It’s more about letting the people down; failing to live up to your oath of office. In the indictment you will find keywords like “duty”, which refers to the “fiduciary duty” which Alexander Hamilton thought a president should owe to the people. A duty of keeping faith; of governing wisely and responsibly.

Character – unlike anything this superannuated playboy, this cardboard mock-up mob boss, this made-for-TV charlatan, President Cheato has ever displayed in his rotten life.

Both articles also make clear that the expectation is that Trump won’t stop doing what he’s doing, even if he’s impeached but not removed from office. The possibility of continued offending is what the framers argued should lead from impeachment to removal. You have to get that one out of the way too, as incredibly, he’s still doin’ it.

Schiff and Nadler haven’t missed a trick. Framing the constitution was all about ensuring that no “King George” would ever again sit on the American throne.

Sadly, though, it’s all a waste. He’s not going to be removed. Not by the Senate, where he has gained a vise-like grip over the Republican caucus. No-one seems to know how or why, but a peek inside David Pecker’s old safe at the National Enquirer might yield some talking points.

It cannot be a coincidence, can it, that both of the Republican Congressmen who first endorsed Trump’s candidacy are facing gaol time on corruption charges. Others, such as the Leader, “Moscow” Mitch McConnell, will be in the frame.

America can still fight back.

 

“The fact that he phoned Zelenskiy and asked for “no” quid pro quo doesn’t really alter the fact that he had previously phoned him and asked for “yes” quid pro quo, except in the terraformed nature of Trump’s interior planet, where September is the new July.”

This piece has been relocated for editorial reasons. So there.

Editing history

We seem to be moving steadily from the age of “alternative facts” to the idea of redemptive alibis and the re-engineering of Time itself.

As we know, no sooner did Trump go on camera to claim, wildly, that he had not asked President Zelinskiy of Ukraine for a “quid pro quo”, that in fact he had said the very opposite, that he wanted nothing from him, than his loyal lieutenant, Rudy Giuliani took off for a week out in Ukraine and other European countries trying to recruit discredited former Ukrainian officials to falsify evidence to support the mad monarch’s attempts to rig the 2020 election.

The fact that he phoned Zelenskiy and asked for “no” quid pro quo can never really alter the well-documented fact that he did previously phone him and asked for “yes” quid pro quo, except in the terraformed nature of Trump’s interior planet, where September is the new July.

The point being, that these actions appear to amount to a deliberate conspiracy to construct an alibi for the president. An alibi based on retrospective actions taken and statements made sometime after the facts of the case were notified to the Justice department, prompting him only then to release the $391 million in Congressionally approved cash and military aid he claims he had not been illegally holding up since April.

It’s as if the bank robber were to protest, but look, officer, I’ve just made a large deposit into my account! How could I possibly have robbed the bank?

In a tweet last week, Trump also claimed that the aid had been delivered “in full”, so there could have been no quid pro quo in the first place. This is a common Republican talking point, that the blackmail failed to work, so it can’t be a crime. Well yes, or rather no, but there clearly was a prior qpq, as the aid was not released until the day AFTER it was revealed that the Orange Leader may have committed impeachable offences by threatening to go on witholding it.

And it was witheld on his order, no-one else’s.

How stupid do they think people are? Clearly, very stupid, as the polls have not moved significantly after two months of transcripts and open hearings confirming massive criminality on the part of the occupant of the White House, said to be far worse than anything Nixon had to resign over.

Amazingly, 49% of Americans still don’t agree he needs to be removed. It’s quite incredible. It’s like people voting for Boris Johnson, or paying Nigel Farage £100 for the privilege of being told they can’t stand as a Brexit “party” candidate after all, yet continuing slavishly to support him.

Should we be breathing this much CO2?

Nor is it true, as Trump claims, that Ukrainian officials did not expect the aid to arrive before September. This is all so much bullshit: they queried with the State Department not having received it, back in July. With the border war raging, they were desperate for it.

Nor indeed has the aid been delivered “in full” as he says. There is still $35 million of the package outstanding. No-one seems to know where it is.

Let’s hope it doesn’t turn up in a Trump 2020 PAC.

 

Deep Heat

The Barr faction in the Justice Department was quick to rush out statements disagreeing with the very clear findings of the Inspector General’s 400-page report into the oranges… sorry, erringes… no, sorry, oregons of the FBI investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 election, and the collusion Mueller so clearly found with Trump’s campaign staff, that he issued some 37 indictments. None to Ukrainians.

Just as Attorney-General Barr had pre-trashed the Mueller report in March – 488 pages, $24 million-worth of damning, if cautious, testimony – within only 48 hours of receiving it, and then sat on it for another month while people digested only his inadequate, highly selective 4-page summary and found the president might not have been so guilty after all; despite Barr’s official duty to hand it over to Congress, and the president’s absurd claims of “exoneration”, he has now done something very similar with his own department’s internal inquiry.

And as a predictable result the demented president, who is reported to have fired off no fewer than 105 tweets last Sunday alone, clearly in a state of nervous collapse, has been tweeting excitedly that the report proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Deep State set out to destroy his presidency, and has penetrated the deepest levels of government and the justice system.

Conveniently forgetting that the FBI investigation began in August, 2016, three months before he was even elected.

No need to add that he won’t have read a word of it.

Eventually when they’ve familiarized themselves with its contents – I was going to write “read it”, but, you know… – Mad King Donald and his pet Attorney-General (who looks like Elton John’s evil older twin) will figure out that the report is not without its criticisms of the procedures followed, by one individual in particular, and use those to discredit the entire investigation and, by extension, the entire FBI and, by further extension, any other part of the law enforcement apparatus that threatens Trump.

Is he a complete moron? Is he a would-be Great Dictator? His defense against the dark articles of impeachment is to argue that no-one could possibly want to impeach probably the greatest and most successful president in American history, architect of their booming economy. No, that’s not a joke, he tweeted it. He is insane, but there’s always a method in his madness.

He must surely know that not a single Republican in the Senate is going to send him to the Big House, which is where he will undoubtedly end up if he is booted out of office before 2024. The triumphal tone of his flapdoodle is purely to support his enablers in their own electoral races, giving them a great talking point: vote for my opponent, and you’re voting to destroy the greatest president this country has ever known.

All together: “Heil Trump!”

 

On the wings of a prayer

Following hot on the heels of KFC chicken-sponsored wedding ceremonies in Australia, with free buckets, comes news that Walmart is selling KFC branded, fried chicken-scented fire logs for Christmas.

Of course they’d never go as far as Gregg’s bakeries in the UK, a popular high-street chain of size-enhancing snackeries, who promoted themselves last year with a nativity scene made from sausage rolls. I guess you call them pigs-in-blankets. Yes, even the infant Jesus was portrayed as a pork product.

And nobody breathed the word “anti-semitism”.

But it’s a great public service Walmart is doing. There are plenty of American families with no more food stamps, courtesy of Trump, for whom the smell of fried chicken this Christmas may be the nearest their kids get to eating anything.

 

Donald Trump and the other pigfaced gammons in the Senate don’t mind making endlessly insulting remarks about the 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, still technically a child, voices The Pumpkin with disquiet. But the minute anyone even mentions the name of the 14-year-old, haunted-looking vampire-boy Barron Trump, even in fond jest, Melania, Fox and the enablers go apeshit.

And the Russian-flavored vomit spewed by the NRA and little creeps like Marco Rubio over the Parkland school shooting survivors who organized against them  was unspeakable.

Politics? Nah.

 

GW: More climate death and disaster

Time magazine cover with Greta ThunbergHurrah! Greta Thunberg has been nominated by Time Magazine as their “Person of the Year, 2019”. Let’s ignore that she joins Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Ayatollah Khomeini in that select company. Maybe even Donald Trump, who knows? It’s not what you do, it’s how famous you make yourself that counts. (PS – she’s not really standing on that rock, is she? It looks awfully dangerous.)

Iceland: You can’t technically call it a hurricane, but a huge winter cyclone is continuing to undergo intense bombogenesis over the island with wind gusts of 160 mph, and barometric pressure as deep as 940 mb continuing to fall. Extreme blizzard conditions and intensifying rates of snowfall, with the possibility of even greater windspeeds, have led to red “danger to life” warnings in the northeast. Most of the island is in lockdown, with all roads closed. (Severe-weather.eu)

The Guide to Iceland website treats the storm with good humor, pointing out that it’s the third already this month – but the first ever to be given a name, Diddú, after an Icelandic opera singer. No casualties have been reported, and so far fairly minimal damage. The storm’s track is taking it up into the high Arctic, where it will no doubt make winter sea ice formation problematic.

The rotation of the storm, which has developed an eye, is sucking strong southerly winds up over the British Isles. “Heavy rain and strong winds have been battering Scotland, causing disruption on the roads, railways and ferries.” (BBC Weather, although curiously they’re not mentioning the Icelandic hurricane. We’ve noticed that despite being an official source Severe-weather.eu does have a habit of exaggerating, in an effort we guess to live up to their name.)

Great Britain: “Election Day 2019 (12 Dec.) dawned bright and sunny…” Er, no, actually here in Boglington-on-Sea it’s a filthy day, dark and heavy with rain. By 9.30 I had all the lights on, and walking with Hunzi we schlepped miserably through the teeming rain, me in my leaky wellies, puddles expanding everywhere. Now I have to go out to vote, the symbolism hasn’t escaped me. This is the most depressing election I can remember since Thatcher in ’79. The only hopeful thing I can say is, the older you get, the more you know from experience that in another few years’ time “the people” might wake up and reverse the result.

Greece: A cyclonic system in the Aegean is causing “torrential and locally excessive rainfall across eastern Greece, with a good amount of snow further NNW into the higher terrain of North Macedonia and surroundings. Excessive rainfall could bring dangerous flash floods through the next 24 hours.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Madagascar: Weakening Cat 1 Cyclone Belna has been crossing the East African island, with 2 confirmed dead and 3 missing. “Houses, public buildings and a hospital in Soalala all suffered damage from the strong winds and flooding. Coastal areas were flooded after waves and storm surge damaged a protective dyke.” (Floodlist) On the other side of the ocean there’ve been floods and hundreds of evacuations in eastern Malaysia/Borneo, as up to 200 mm of rain fell in two days.

Colombia: and Venezuela have been affected by flooding for the second time this year, with over 6 thousand people displaced. (Floodlist) We missed an end-November event in Brazil: “Heavy rain in Salvador de Bahia City caused floods and landslides with widespread damage sustained to roads and more than 100 houses. 170 mm of rain fell in 3 hours – the monthly average for November is 100mm.” (Reliefweb)

Arctic: Sea ice cover in summer 2019 was the second lowest on record, the lowest 13 years having occurred in the past – 13 years. And it’s thinner than ever. The thickest 4-year ice has been reduced by a 1.9 deg annual warming trend from 33% in 1985 to just 1.2% today. (NOAA)

Tunnel approaching…

Your Old Gran is no scientist so she’s struggling through many acronyms and unfamiliar abbreviations to interpret a new report by leading Australian climate scientist, Andrew Glikson, published on Arctic News today, so you don’t have to.

Mr Glikson’s literacy leaves a little to be desired, but what she takes from it thus far is that ‘fings ain’t looking good.

We need to take into account that although soundly based both in observation and theory, much of the future science is speculative. Which doesn’t make the outlook necessarily any better, it only allows for the possibility of some climatic effects tending to mitigate further warming. How could it allow for any human efforts to reduce carbon outputs?

For instance, the last period when the CO2 concentration was high (1700 ppm) and the planet up to 8C hotter, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (55 million years ago), it doesn’t appear to have rendered the planet permanently uninhabitable, and only 35-50% of life forms became extinct. Good news! Except that the PETM took around 100 thousand years and we’re doing it in 350, giving species no time to adapt. The coming extinction will be rapid.

If we burn just 5% more of existing fossil fuel reserves, Glikson calculates, it will raise atmospheric CO2 by another 325 parts per million, or on the Meinshausen scale, “applying a climate sensitivity of 3°C per doubling of CO₂ would result by 2100 in a temperature rise of between 1.5°C to 4.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels”. Clearly, it would help to stop burning stuff.

That huge gap of uncertainty is because you can’t really predict the transient effects on the graph of things like forest fires (CO2 concentrations over Siberia hit 1060 ppm this summer) and permafrost thawing. Methane is now the main threat, but in all there’s about 30 Teratonnes of carbon locked up in exploitable fuel reserves and retained in carbon sinks just waiting to be released as warming increases. A tiny percentage of that could be enough to knock the climate sideways.

And the predictions tend to be linear. The “boiling the frog” scenario doesn’t take into account the likelihood of tipping points being crossed, the frog, as it were, suffering an unexpected heart attack – most scary of which is the Venus effect, of runaway transpiration of water vapor from warming oceans. There’s an outside chance of this threshold being crossed in the next few years, according to the Arctic News team (“Sam Carana”).

A bit of good news, then: water absorbs less CO2 the more it warms. The melting ice caps are creating huge cold pools, enabling the oceans to absorb more CO2. That’ll help for a while, although it isn’t good for marine life, for coastal communities or for people in the path of hurricanes. Also, you have to allow for the “global dimming” effect – pollution reflecting sunlight. (Only, as champion doomster Dr Guy McPherson has struggled to point out, as soon as we stop burning stuff, then….)

Your Gran does not understand why Glikson continues to use the mean CO2 concentration figure at the lowest point in the cycle? It might be a chilly 408 ppm in October, but it’s a roasting 415 ppm by April, and rising at 3 ppm a year. By the end of 2019, it’s estimated, we shall have added another 43 billion tonnes of carbon to the air and sea, with no sign of human activity being curtailed as it was meant to be under the doomed Paris accord.

In fact, it’s increasing – in The Pumpkin’s jaded view, a clear indication that rapacious gangster-capitalism in the end-time of the Energy markets is having success at persuading us all to use more.

Glikson ends with a veiled swipe at the international order: “As Australia burns, the IPCC maintains there is time left to consume a carbon budget and to keep handing out offsets and carbon credits…” He doesn’t complete the thought, but I think he’s implying that there isn’t.

Siberia: Residents of the city of of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Kamchatka peninsula are being warned that the giant Avachinsky volcano, just 18 miles away, has begun an eruption. Locals and tourists are being advised to stay away. (Siberian Times) Police have begun an operation to recover what they say are six bodies they can see on New Zealand‘s White Island after the sudden eruption which killed or seriously injured over 40 tourists last week.

Siberian Times also reports: 56 hungry polar bears have laid seige to Ryrkaipiy, a remote village in Chukotka, easten Siberia. Villagers using flares are fearful of leaving their houses at night and children told to stay indoors. The bears still have some food from abandoned carcasses at a seal colony nearby but “abnormally warm weather” has prevented them from moving to more northerly hunting grounds.

 

Births, deaths and mirages…

RIP Popular TV naturalist and actual scientific botanist, Dr David Bellamy, 86. Big beardy guy, climate-change denier (“poppycock”), weird slushy voice redolent of fermented fruit. You hadn’t been on TV for a while, I don’t expect you’ll be missed by many people under 45.

RIP Global media: A check of the website of the widely influential South China Morning Post today, 11 Dec., for any news of extreme weather events throughout China and the whole of Asia turns up only one Environment story, about plastic pollution, despite the UN conference on climate change in Madrid, the fires in Australia, the cyclone in the Philippines….. We might as well not be here.

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 97: Dementia news… A Big Lie… Another Big Lie… Not on the fairway… GW: Blow the wind northerly.

Quote of, er, one or two days…

Americans Shocked by Spectacle of Legislators Taking Action

“Across the U.S., television viewers watched with mouths agape at startling images of elected officials seemingly intent on performing their constitutional duties.” – US humorist, Andy Borowitz on the Commons vote to debate the no No-Deal bill.

Boris Johnson greets the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, outside No 10

“Hang on tight, my friend, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Dementia news

(This item appeared previously in The Boglington Post, 31 Aug.)

“Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, told ABC’s This Week the president would lead ‘really a whole lot of government effort, and the president is going to make sure that we’re on the same page, that we’re tracking this, and that we’re going to be ready.’”

“Trump sowed confusion earlier when he said incorrectly that Alabama would be hit by the storm, forcing the National Weather Service to issue an update. He later repeated the mistake at a press conference. He also repeated his claim that he was not sure he had “ever even heard of a category 5” hurricane.

“The increasing strength of the storm makes this the fourth consecutive year that at least one Atlantic cyclone has reached category 5, according to the NHC.” And Trump’s leadership strategy?

“Americans should ‘pray for the people in the Bahamas’, Donald Trump announced from Washington” as south-eastern US states looked on nervously. That should help, although everyone is already busy praying for the victims of the latest mass-slaughter in Texas, over which the regime dares take no action whatever, with an election looming.

To be really ready for natural disasters, the Trump administration recently ordered another transfer of funds out of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) budget, an easy target, to pay for increased border security.

(Quotes pulled from a Guardian report, 02 Sept., as Dorian rips into the Bahamas at 200 mph.)

Postscriptum

Mad King Donald has appeared at a presser in the Oval Office, waving a thoroughly unconvincing map of the southeastern US, on which “someone” had used a black marker pen – known to Americans as a Sharpie – to add a big, wavery, extra bulge on the western side of the official National Hurricane Center’s forecast track of Dorian from last week, to include Alabama – where there was no prior indication the hurricane was headed.

This was in order to “prove” that he had been right all along when he twice said the storm was heading for Alabama, a claim that has been much derided in the media after the NHC said it was incorrect. Dorian would go nowhere near Alabama. The additional drawing altering the forecast – “fake news” that set off panic buying in the Sweet Home state – was in a different color.

Utterly unable to accept, ever, that he has made a simple mistake, the man is beyond mockery. He is completely insane and must be removed from office as a danger, both to himself and the country.

 

A Big Lie

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow draws our attention to another tweet frae the tiny thumbs of the liar-in-chief.

It seems that it has now sunk in that, instead of trashing Alabama, Hurricane Dorian has trundled northwards up the east coast and is spinning about 50 miles off North Carolina, picking up energy from the warm waters, dumping vast amounts of rain and looks likely to sit there as a devastating Cat 3, with 115 mph winds until the weekend.

It’s a bad situation. So N. Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper, has fulfilled his statutory duty and made a request for FEMA emergency aid as a million people are ordered to evacuate coastal areas. It’s the governor’s job to do that. People are puzzling, then, as to why Mr Trump has tweeted out that he is considering a request for FEMA aid put in by Senator Thom Tillis of N. Carolina. It’s not his job to do that.

Who? What?

Well, it seems Sen. Tillis is a Republican and up for re-election next year; while the pathetic and incompetent booby, Governor Cooper can’t be trusted to put in his own request for aid.

Because he’s a Democrat.

You see, it’s only a minor thing, but we have to understand that this shit-for-brains in the White House is prepared to make political capital out of anything, sink to any depths, tell any lie, trash any opposition to get himself re-elected, and that nothing he says, tweets or does from now on, if it ever was, can be trusted not to be “fake news”, in his own argot.

The alternative to re-election could be a very long spell in gaol.

 

Another Big Lie

Trump is not the only wannabe despot living in a complete fantasy world of his own making, where the economy is rip-roaring away, China is on its knees gagging to do a trade deal, non-existent hurricanes are trashing Alabama and thousands of illegal immigrants are roaming around Texas looking for women to rape and kids to sell marijuana to. Oh, and by the way, he’s The Chosen One.

Or, to put it another way, lying through his unreliable old teeth.

“Brussels has responded with bafflement to Boris Johnson’s claims that progress is being made in the Brexit talks, with EU officials saying discussions are going nowhere. The prime minister and his cabinet have insisted that the outlines of a deal are in the making and that attempts by MPs to rule out a no-deal departure will kill that momentum. However, EU officials said that nearly two weeks after Johnson met the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, no alternatives to the Northern Irish backstop had been tabled.” (Guardian, 3 Sept.)

Nor are EU apparatchiks entirely sure where these British negotiators have got to, that Johnson says are popping over to Brussels twice a week to hammer out a deal. They’ve seen few signs of them.

“’Where have these people been for the last two years?’ asked one EU official.”

Suspicion is growing in Brussels that the negotiations, such as there have been any, are a complete sham and that Johnson and his ERG cabinet have no intention of doing a deal; certainly as they have not put forward any constructive ideas, especially in relation to the Irish border “backstop” arrangement that would keep Northern Ireland in the Customs Union and Single Market for two more years, which Johnson has repudiated in favour of a vague customs arrangement, an “invisible border” based on some still non-existent “technology”.

Meanwhile the pound this morning hit $1.19, as low as it’s been since 24 June, 2016 – the day after the referendum. And a handwritten note from Johnson has been produced at a court hearing in Edinburgh, where MPs are bringing a case that his prorogation of Parliament is unlawful, showing that he had already taken the decision to shutdown Parliament without telling the public, two weeks before he sent sloucher Mogg to browbeat HM Queen into agreeing it. Something he has denied.

Wake up Britain! We’re being conned.

Postscriptum: Defeated in the Commons on a procedural motion to allow a further vote on a bill to make leaving the EU without a deal illegal – losing his first Commons vote as Prime Minister – Johnson lashed out at rebel members of the Conservative party, ordering that 21 of them should forfeit the party whip – among them, Winston Churchill’s grandson, a tearful Sir Nicholas Soames, who has been a Tory MP for 37 years.

The action has reduced Johnson’s Commons majority to minus 22 – not including the increasingly irrelevant 10 members of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.

Forcing so many men and women of principle out of your party just ahead of what may be a snap General Election next month and when you need to win several crucial votes in the meantime does not seem like the best idea, unless you want Nigel Farage’s Brexit party to win.

But that is the next parallel we find between Johnson and Trump: their tendency to overentitled, childish petulance and tantrums in the face of what they perceive to be personal disloyalty; “traitors” putting country first, ahead of their crazed ambition.

Post-postscriptum:

For the record, the very next day Johnson lost three more votes in the Commons, while in the face of ERG attempts to filibuster, the House of Lords voted to send the Benn bill making No-Deal illegal back for its second reading. Pro-Brexit propagandists have launched a series of vicious attacks in the rightwing media, accusing the 21 holdout Tory MPs and poor Mr Corbyn, who has declined to fall for Johnson’s call for an early election, of cowardice and treason.

History is being stood on its head, as Brexiters inflamed by the insane rightwing media blame “Remainers” in the Commons for undermining democracy and defying the referendum result, when it was Johnson, Sloucher Mogg, Duncan Cunt, Ugly Patel, Dominic the Serial Killer Raaaab and the other members of the rabidly Europhobic ERG who were the holdouts against a deal that would have seen us out of the EU by now, and who are trying to shutdown debate in Parliament.

Regardless of those abusive descriptors, or perhaps because of them, Boris’ more sensible younger MP brother Jo has resigned his ministerial post, citing “unresolvable tension” between “family loyalty and the national interest”. Brexit is creating toxic, internecine warfare across the country and must be abandoned now, for all our sakes.

Your Uncle B. has Commented: “The last time I felt like this was when watching the planes flying into the World Trade Center on TV, knowing that nothing would ever be the same again.”

The rate of suicides in Britain is now higher than it was 17 years ago, especially among middle-aged men.

Not on the fairway….

The House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee has been investigating for several months, internal messages that suggest regular US military flights between the USA and destinations in Europe and the Middle East have been ordered to stopover in Scotland, where crews have been forced to put up at Donald Trump’s loss-making Turnberry golf resort; thus diverting many hundreds of thousands of dollars of US taxpayers’ money – the sacred military budget – into Trump’s personal pocket. (Politico/MSNBC report)

Meanwhile…. the Washington Post is reporting that Trump is defunding anti-Russian influence programs in Europe to divert money to his ludicrous border wall; and witholding military aid to the Ukrainian government until they supply him with “dirt” undermining the candidacy of former Democratic Vice President, Joe Biden. I’d offer more on this, but I can’t afford the $90 to get over Mr Bezos’ paywall.

 

GW: Blow the wind northerly

Hurricane Dorian is slowly churning up the east coast of the USA towards the Carolinas, after battering the Bahamas with record winds and a massive 23-ft storm surge on 1 and 2 Sept. At least 20 people are now known to have died on the Abaco islands, which have seen “unprecedented devastation” according to the Bahamas Prime Minister. The reconstruction bill will mount into many $billions.

Update 5 Sept.: Hurricane Dorian continues tracking north/northeast and is approaching the coast of South Carolina this morning, Sept 5th. It has re-strengthened back to Category 3 and will be tracking just about 30 miles offshore the coast of the South Carolina and likely make landfall across the outer banks of eastern North Carolina. Central pressure is down to 957 mbar with sustained winds of 115 mph. (Severe-weather.eu)

Severe-weather.eu adds that Dorian seemed hell-bent on erasing Grand Bahama from the face of the earth: “Some areas of the island were exposed to maximum winds for over 12 hours, far longer than typical for hurricane landfalls. (In the event, the hurricane took 36 hours to traverse 5 miles of territory.) Additionally, major storm surge inundated large parts of the island. Reports (confirmed by aerial footage Wednesday) indicate total devastation, with buildings in some areas levelled to the ground” and boats tossed far inland.

SE Asia: “Disaster management agencies in Thailand and Vietnam report that 6 people have died as a result of wind damage and flooding from Tropical Cyclone ‘Podul’. Podul made landfall over Quang Bình Province in central Vietnam on 29 August, 2019, with maximum sustained winds of 55-65 km/h. The next day the centre of the storm had moved to Thailand, where the storm was forecast to weaken and eventually dissipate.”

Africa: At least 1 person died and almost 300 homes were severely damaged or destroyed as a result of flooding in the Central African Republic in late August. “Flooding affected areas in the north west of the country, close to the border with Chad, from 19 to 20 August. Water and sanitation infrastructures have also been destroyed.” 5 bridges connecting to flooded localities have been washed out, hindering rescue efforts (Floodlist). Parts of northern Nigeria are also continuing to experience widespread flooding after several weeks of rain.

North Africa: “More flooding has affected areas of Morocco. 2 people died after a storm, heavy rain and floods in the province of Khenifra, Béni Mellal-Khénifra region, on 2 Sept. Flooding was also reported elsewhere in the country. On 1 Sept. heavy rain in the Atlas Mountains caused a massive debris flow, resulting in widespread damage. Earlier this week at least 7 people died after flash floods swept through a small village in Taroudant province. 39 people have been rescued from flood waters in northern Algeria after torrential rain. In a 24 hour period, 127.3mm of rain fell in the city of Skikda, around 4 times the monthly average for September.” (from Floodlist)

Tunnel approaching….

Microplastics: A paper by researchers at the Scripps Institute published in Science Advances (I know, sounds a bit like Mars Attacks…) found that “since the 1940s the amount of microscopic plastics in the sediments has doubled about every 15 years. In 2010, the most recent year analysed, the pollution had reached almost 40 particles per 10cm by 10cm patch of ocean floor every year. … Humans are believed to consume at least 50,000 microplastic particles a year through food and water. The health impact is unknown.” (Guardian Green Light)

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

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

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

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

This is absolutely bloody terrifying.

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

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

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

Yes, Brexit makes you free, alright.

Police officers on duty as Theresa May visited Salisbury yesterday.

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

EU: What the ignorant like to hear

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

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

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

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

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

What the ignorant like to hear, in other words.

 

In nomine patri, et feel-you-up sancti

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

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

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

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

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

I suppose it depends on how young?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

GW: Gone with the wind

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

This is where our story ends…

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Master of Evasion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bezos affair is classic Trump.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So this is an existential matter for the publishers.

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

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

 

Her justice rewards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

GW: Up and down on the great weather rollercoaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Zealand: “Strong winds are expected to fan forest fires that have been burning for a week through New Zealand’s South Island, forcing thousands of people from their homes. Early on Sunday, 155 firefighters were battling the blaze on the ground with air support from 23 helicopters and 3 fixed wing planes … The Pigeon Valley fire covers 2,300 hectares (5,700 acres).” (Guardian) – and may according to subsequent reports go on burning for “weeks”.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Quote of the week

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

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

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

The scaly scales of justice #1

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

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

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

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

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

The scaly scales of justice, #2

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Monstering cookies

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

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

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

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

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

Grrr.

 

Trump: Hittin’ ’em in the pocket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addenda

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

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

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

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

 

Things are spinning out of control.

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

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

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

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

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

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

See, the nasty mans

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

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

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

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

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

 

GW: sperm counts falling like snow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s not supposed to do that.

The living end…

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

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

If that’s not enough….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

But we just can’t.

 

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

The Warped and the Woof: a doggy shag story

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

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

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

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

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

 

The demeaning of life

And we find it, seemingly, in utter uselessness:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I can afford it.

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

Christmas is so over!

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

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

It’s all just a bit… undignified?

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

Just calm down, dears. Accept it:

It’s over.

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

 

(Guitar bore alert)

Getting the Lowdown

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

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

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

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

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

It makes for well over 100 I have now found online

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little flirt.

 

And the Lowdown on Persuasion

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

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

But George, that’s half the fun!

 

Oh, shit

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

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

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

 

Another unwanted pres(id)ent

The Pumpkin writes:

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

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

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

He is totally shameless.

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

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

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

x

Norman invasion

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

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

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

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

 

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

One off the bucket-list.

 

GW: Roasting Matilda

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

And who would want to live in…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And…

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

Cartoon of the Year

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

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

Progress report:

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

 

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

 

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

Remember God?

Uncle Bogler writes:

Can it be coincidence?

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

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

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

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

There’s no bypass.

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

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

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

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

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

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

…air quality monitors.

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

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

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

Get outta my face!

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

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

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

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

You remember God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You already know what it is.

 

The Office of Petty Cash Deceits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How long can this omnishambles go on?

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

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

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

 

Forever young

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

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

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

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

GW: I could go on singeing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last Orders Please…

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

 

Magical Realism

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

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

 

Dear JK Rowling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One more short story:

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

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

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

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

Sincerely, etc.

PS – More Cormoran Strike!

 

Trunk calls

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

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

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