Plague diary, Week of our Lord #18. Editor’s statement. Plus some odd bits and pieces: Do we really need banks?… The Madness of Jair Bolsonaro… The Madness of King Donald… One or two other things that may have been masked… GW: glug.

guinea pig in face mask

We’re really sorry, Prime Minister, it was an experimental vaccine….

Editor’s statement – a statement from the Editor

6 April: We are keeping a watching brief on news of Baris Johnson as he has been admitted to hospital with the virus he used to make jokes about, and will, we suppose, have to delete the joke above if things take a turn. This is why we have found it so difficult to continue normal service as we are no longer living in normal times.

UB

Update: Tuesday, the PM is now gravely ill but stable in an ICU at St Thomas’ hospital, London.

Editor’s previous statement

Dear Spammers, Likers, Followers and Those No Longer Reading This, etc.

22 March: Developments this evening have taken a rather alarming turn. The German chancellor is in quarantine. Prince Charles has tested positive. The Democrats have blocked Mnuchin’s bailout bill, leaving tomorrow morning’s markets suspended over a cliff edge. Lockdowns are about to become lockdowns. Around 18 thousand new cases were reported globally today, New York alone is up to 15 thousand and three more countries brings the total to lots. Very few viral pandemics will have spread so fast and with such a toll on the at-risk categories.

I’m afraid I can’t squeeze any more mordant satire out of the situation. Evil people are at work, making the most of it. I’d rather not be considered one of them. I’m also being driven spare by the faults developing in this, muh li’l laptop. Consequently The BogPo is shutting down while we get on with some DIY gardening and catch up with our drinking. The usual information sources are available, make what you will of them.

I hope to return soon. Ed.

Meanwhile, here’s some extra reading material:

buzzflash.com/articles/the-deconstruction-of-the-administrative-state-the-trumpidemic2020c-and-the-forked-road-for-trumpite-triumph-from-electoral-victory-to-the-establishment-of-dictatorship

 

And Randy Rainbow latest must-watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Kydr2a7Uy4

 

Random addenda…

The Madness of Jair Bolsonaro

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil is the last notable holdout among major world leaders in denying the severity of the coronavirus. Brazilians, he declared last week, are uniquely suited to weather the pandemic because they can be “dunked in raw sewage and don’t catch a thing.” – New York Times

Orangutan and otter families make friends

“Have I told you, Best Beloved, about how the humans came to lose their shit?”

Superforecaster corner….

From The Pumpkin – Issue 79 (20 March, 2019)

“And if no indictments are to follow, with no moderating influences left either in the White House or in the congressional Republican party, and any opportunity taken to claim his Democratic opponents have demonstrably been involved in a hoax witch-hunt, Dictator Trump now has a heaven-sent opportunity to let rip.

“It could be calamitous.”

(04 April, 2020: reported pandemic Covid-19 cases in the USA at 10.30 am GMT: 277,522; deaths 7,403.) (Update 5 pm 6 April, cases 377,605; deaths 11,784. Update: 2 pm 8 April cases 400,549; deaths 12,857 and Trump is still president. How? Why?)

 

The Madness of King Donald…

I keep doing this, don’t I. But it’s irresistible, chronicling the madness with which our human civilization is rushing toward its inevitable end.

“What do you have to lose?” (Trump) said Sunday. “They say, take it. I’m not looking at it one way or the other … If it does work, it would be a shame if we didn’t do it early. I’ve seen things that I sort of like, so what do I know?

“I’m not a doctor.”

Doctor Trump (‘My uncle John’ – an electrical engineer – ‘was a great scientist’) repeatedly plugs the as-yet unproven if possibly very mildly efficacious snake-oil, Hydroxychloroquine – yes, he has shares in a company that makes it – as a cure for Covid-19 on the basis of a widely discredited French trial involving just 42 patients, 11 of whom died. So scarce has the 52-years-old malaria medication become that he has leaned on his friend Modi to divert India’s entire supply to cure his ever-believing, gullible dumbfucks and – if enough survive – get himself re-elected.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/06/hydroxychloroquine-trump-coronavirus-drug

  • In his latest rambling diatribe to the nation, Trump has lied copiously that ‘four’ US doctors have been sent to treat his great friend, Boris Johnson; that US pharma companies are providing medicines to cure him and that he is considering granting a desperate British appeal for “200 ventilators” that were in fact already on order in the normal way from a US manufacturer. What a filthy lying dog this man is.

Last week, Trump boosted his ratings by triumphantly waving off the Navy hospital ship, Comfort, on its mercy mission to help save New York from a Bergamo-style coronavirus meltdown amid chronic shortages of medical supplies, which Trump is still encouraging the manufacturers to sell to the highest bidder in the international market (‘good for my economy, fuck governor Cuomo, goddam Deep-State Wop Democrat daring to criticize my sensationally successful management of the crisis, drivel-slurp…’).

The 500-bed Comfort docked in the Hudson river two days ago and has since admitted only 20 patients, none of whom has the coronavirus – a highly infectious disease organism which, under Navy quarantine regulations, they are not allowed to treat onboard.

Meanwhile the Orange Nightmare has forced the Secretary of the Navy to fire the captain of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt for sending a demoralizing plea to the Navy office for help dealing with a major outbreak of coronavirus onboard. The lower-ranking official ordered to carry out the firing has resigned.

Still with no Federal-level response to the virus despite having made himself responsible for tackling it by declaring a national emergency, Trump today focussed his efforts on firing the Inspector-General for the Intelligence services, the official who referred a whistleblower’s concern that the president was blackmailing the leader of a foreign country to fake charges against his opponent, Joe Biden, to the Department of Justice, as his job legally required him to do.

  • He’s also fired Stephanie Gruesome, his fourth Comms director, and appointed a virtually identical-looking Trump-sucker so bonkers, so fanatical she makes him look statesmanlike – threatened to defund the World Health Organization for being too nice to China – and issued an Executive Order authorizing his space force to ‘mine the Moon’.

He is fucking nuts.

Those are the priorities of the ignorant and demented sack of egotistical shit in the White House: to seek revenge on his perceived opponents, even those who were merely doing their duty; to make himself ‘look good’, and to maintain the ratings for his daily show while his country sickens and dies. (32,500 new cases just today, 05 April)

  • A Siberian tiger in the Bronx zoo has tested positive for coronavirus among several big cats that have been displaying symptoms. Apparently transferred by an asymptomatic human keeper, it seems somehow ominous. What is this thing?.

Call cull

Meanwhile in the UK, hordes of medieval village zombies are going around attacking phone masts and BT broadband engineers, who have nothing whatever to do with cellular telephony, in the belief, propagated by certain minor celebrities who need to be imprisoned for spreading false rumors, that the coronavirus is being propagated by 5G signals in a government plot to kill everyone.

Do we really need banks?

My bank has mailed me with the cheery announcement that it’s reducing the interest rate on my savings by 0.65%, which by my calculation means I’m paying them to borrow my money.

Sympathetically, however, they go on: “We appreciate that the current economic conditions are making it challenging for savers. As a result of this change, you also have the option to close your account….” Oh, thanks. Maybe I’ll just buy another guitar.

Meanwhile, awash with cash and failing scandalously to distribute the vast amounts of QE the Bank of England is pleading with them to lend to Covid-strapped employers, they’ve just hiked the interest on our overdrafts to 39.9%.

Why are these cheating, greedy, overpaid, motherfucking sons (and in the case of my bank, daughters) of bitches not being put in prison? Do we really need banks? What do they actually do for us?

One or two other things that may have been masked:

Arctic sea ice extent this winter was only the 11th lowest on record (NB extent is not volume, volume is less than ever) but a spring melt has begun that is faster than any previously recorded as sea surface temperatures pushing up from the north Pacific and Atlantic above the Arctic circle are 20C above average and the ice is really thin. Shall we have blue water by September?

Comet C/2019 Y4 ATLAS will soon be visible to the naked eye, and by end-April if it hasn’t been frazzled as it orbits close to the sun will be visible even in daylight as it is probably the biggest and brightest comet anyone has ever seen, being much larger even than the planet Jupiter. (Severe-weather.eu) The ancients regarded comets as portents of dreadful events. They weren’t always entirely wrong. Oldies may recall 1987 and Comet Hale-Bopp, a baleful looking visitor that was high in the sky on the night Princess Diana and the ghastly but widely revered Mother Teresa both died.

US scientists have developed artificial intelligence that can turn brain activity into text. While the system currently works on neural patterns detected while someone is speaking aloud, experts say it could eventually aid communication for patients who are unable to speak or type, such as those with locked-in syndrome. Or lazy bloggers. possibly? (Guardian report)

Keepers at the Royev Ruchei Nature Park in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, who’ve elected to be locked-in with their charges, noticed that with no visitors to entertain them, the chimpanzees were becoming depressed. Siberian Times reports: ‘After seeing them getting sad we decided to put up a TV set on a wall, and started showing cartoons. Their favourite is a Russian cartoon about an exhausted mother monkey who lives in a zoo. They are ready to watch it non-stop’, said park’s director Andrey Gorban. Another favourite is The Lion King.

  • It does certainly look like the animal kingdom has quickly grasped that humans are staring into the abyss. Could it be the beginning of the end of our brief time as the dominant species on Earth? Reports are popping up everywhere of nature rewilding our towns and cities; feral goats, deer, monkeys, bears and coyotes roaming deserted suburban streets, while the dearth of traffic has led apparently to an effusion of celebratory birdsong unheard in recent times.

Finally we have to record the tragic story of a young Australian astrophysicist, Dr Daniel Reardon, who was rushed to hospital with four powerful magnets jammed up his nose, after he tried to invent a method of alerting Coronaphobes to the disturbing possibility that they were about to touch their faces. From his hospital bed, he confessed he had had no idea what he was doing as he had never invented anything before.

 

GW: glug

Vanuatu: tropical storm Harold intensifying to possible Cat 4 cyclone arriving by Tue 7 Apr. (Severe-weather.eu)

Update: Monday, 6 April Harold crossed the islands as a monster (920 mb) 175-mph Cat 5 and still intensifying, is headed for Fiji and/or Tonga as the second most powerful storm ever recorded in the region. (Severe-weather.eu) Up to 70% of the buildings have been damaged in the islands’ second city, Luganville, which has been cut off by flooding, landslides and debris. (Floodlist) 27 people are drowned or missing after being blown from a ferryboat whose skipper had ignored storm warnings. (BBC)

Iceland: a kick in winter’s tail, a deep cyclone has been bringing hurricane-force winds and up to a meter of snow in the north, heavy rain in the south. (Severe-weather.eu)

Spain: dozens rescued from floods after record rainfall in Murcia.

Iran: 21 dead, hundreds displaced in floods.

Colombia: hundreds displaced by flooding and a huge landslide.

Indonesia: 3 dead, 2 missing, hundreds affected by floods in Bandung.

Papua New Guinea: hundreds displaced by floods.

Afghanistan: 11 dead, hundreds affected by flash floods.

(all Floodlist)

Tunnel approaching….

Balkans and eastern Europe: widespread fruit and vine crops destroyed by sudden -8c freeze.

Europe: another summer of heatwaves is anticipated, based on historic data showing cooler waters in the North Atlantic, as churned up by this year’s highly anomalous cyclone activity, usually lead to hotter summers in Europe and the USA where, according to Copernicus’ modelers, a more active hurricane season can be expected from the rapidly heating Gulf of Mexico.

Meanwhile, having missed out on an El Niño last year, it looks like we’re into a La Niña year, in which cooler waters in the southern Pacific lead to a stronger hurricane season in the Atlantic. (Severe-weather.eu)

Turkey: Up to 70% of the world’s hazelnut supplies could be threatened by a plague of the brown marmorated stinkbug. Native to north-east Asia, it’s been spreading across the world in shipping containers, breeding freely thanks to warmer temperatures and a lack of natural predators. (Guardian)

“Almost half Tunisia’s 670 km (420 miles) of beaches are acutely threatened by coastal erosion, according to the State Agency for Coastal Protection and Planning. The cause is a mix of rising sea levels, construction and more extreme weather patterns exacerbated by climate change. In the last 5 years, Tunisia has seen 3 “1-in-20-year storms” (Floodlist report)

 

the Pumpkin – Issue 119: Trump lied?… Corona v. us… How in the hell does he do it?… The astonishingly transactional nature of the psychopomp, Trump… GW: Hang on,weren’t the Three Degrees Prince Charles’ favorite girl band?

QotW

The most fundamental function of a government is to keep its people safe. It is from this that it derives its authority, the confidence of the people and its legitimacy. … When I heard about Britain’s ‘herd immunity’ coronavirus plan, I thought it was satire.”

Dr William Hanage, Professor of the Evolution and Epidemiology of Infectious Disease at Harvard, on learning with horror of Baris Johnson’s plan to allow the coronavirus to cull the elderly.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus.

So, you need to be this far apart. I appreciate it may make procreation difficult for most people…

 

“And what happens to the healthcare system if we all get ill? Everyone is scared to speak up publicly, and it’s possible I could lose my job for doing so, but it’s like the moment in the disaster movie when the tide has gone out and everyone is saying, ‘Oh let’s go to the beach’, and you’re jumping up and down saying, ‘No, run for the hills.”

– NHS doctor, Nishant Joshi, on how health workers are receiving only minimal protection and cannot get tested if they fall ill.

 

“‘Trump lied’ must become the default setting for reportage of his direct speech, as the götterdämmerung of his hoax presidency plays out to its fateful conclusion.”

Trump lied?

“This day should be an inspiration to every American,” he said, “because thanks to your leadership from early on, not only are we bringing a whole-of-government approach to confronting the coronavirus, we’re bringing an all-of-America approach.

“Mr President, from early on, you took decisive action. You suspended all travel from China … throughout this process, Mr President, you’ve put the health of America first.”

Thus the horrifying, slavish nematode, Vice-President Michael Richard Pence, goes down in infamy, nailed to his own cross, reaffirming the death penalty for millions of uninsured Americans betrayed by a mendacious and incompetent lunatic, who continually projects his delusionary, diseased inner landscape and vindictive loathing of his people onto the country he swore to protect.

Trump has shown leadership all right. Down to the bitter dregs.

For the decisive wrong actions he now lies he did not take, claiming that others took, actions of which he was unaware because, well, it’s the administration, stupid, were for reasons of self-enrichment and that of his donors to remove the agencies of public health monitoring and protection, and replace them with loyal administrators both incompetent and venal.

And among their actions, of which he was completely unaware because, well, he’s only the president, very stupid, was the early rejection of reliable but foreign testing kits and their replacement with worthless but patriotically American ones. Between Sunday last week and Wednesday, the Washington Post reports, the Centers for Disease Control conducted precisely …

77 tests.

Which rather gives the lie to Trump’s assertion on national media that anyone could get a test who needs one, because millions of testing kits were being made available. No, they weren’t.

As of this morning, Sunday 15 Mar., the number of confirmed cases has soared, not down to one, as the fake president reassured his frightened people how, under his divine leadership, it would, but up over 3,000 across 49 out of 50 states. Coincidentally, about as many as died on Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, while Trump chucked paper towels at the survivors, lied as he does to this day about the casualty numbers, abused local officials and boasted of being awarded a ‘ten’ by the celestial ratings panel who award him marks, for his grotesque failure of leadership on that occasion, that in his diseased brain he sees only as a triumph.

You all knew he was mentally deranged. Could you not have seen this coming?

Journalists must now stop writing: ‘Trump said’. Every single utterance of this self-serving criminal monster has been a lie from start to finish. So very few dare tell him so, for fear of receiving a nasty tweet. Are you kidding? The power of the tweet is somewhat overrated.

‘Trump lied’ must become the default setting for reportage of his direct speech, as the götterdämmerung of his hoax presidency plays out to its fateful conclusion. Editors please note.

The hope that Pence might invite the Cabinet to approve the removal of the president on grounds of mental incompetence, using the 25th Amendment of the constitution, the V-P’s prerogative, has never been a realistic one. Trump put Pence ‘in charge’ of the response to Covfefe-19 precisely for this purpose, that he could blame somebody else for the failures whilst being left to carry on with his blundering project to manipulate the stockmarkets so as to con the voters into believing his lies about the economy being ‘the greatest in history’. It isn’t.

For Pence is a gutless wonder; a slimy, hypocritical, religiose little turd sandwich on processed Sunblest bread, who will unfailingly defer to His Satanic Master’s every bonkers utterance with that sickeningly worshipful expression I imagine millions of Americans would willingly right now remove from his beatific face, with sandpaper.

 

Corona v. Us

Update: Sunday, 15 Mar, 1 pm: cases 161,982; deaths 5,973; recovereds 76k. 9.45 pm: USA has put on another 680 cases in an afternoon; Italy an astonishing 3,500 more; another 250 in the UK, to a global total for Covid Sunday: cases 169,229; deaths 6,494. (Worldometers)

Upperdatier: Monday, the Ides of March: cases, 171,044; deaths, 6,526; recovereds 78k. 7 pm: 179,758. x7,100. 11.45 pm: 182,423. x7,144.

UK govt. is seeking police powers to detain people breaking their isolation curfew, in advance of imposing one. Over-70s (who are no more likely to be carrying the infection than anyone else) are the first group ‘within weeks’ to be quarantined forcibly, Hunan-style, in our homes. Those, that is, who are still walking around unconcerned by events swirling around us. Difficult, as having left it so late we have no opportunity to stock up with food and incontinence pads, the shelves are already stripped as bare as an East African farmer’s field.

It seems it will be easier to starve us in silence than allow us to die from the shortage of ventilators – of which there are barely 1,000 in the whole country. Large numbers of scientists in epidemiology and related disciplines have condemned the government’s policy of testing only people who have clearly got the virus as… well, a bit pointless. The government, the only one in Europe pursuing the policy of ‘herd immunity’ – ie, encouraging me to die – has hit back, saying their tame experts know what they are doing.

Personally, I’ve bought a bottle of Scotch and self-isolated.

  • Don’t let the air of competence fool you.

btw… Your Uncle Bogler has noticed, some delays seem to be creeping into the normally urgentmost Amazon delivery service, with despatch being held up on a number of his recent orders. As they can’t bill you until the goods are in despatch, they may start losing money. And I’ve just had an email to say my tiny order of hand sanitizer can’t be fulfilled, as the supplier has run out. Poor Bezos… Is it the end?

  • With stunning ineptitude, as though nothing whatever was learned from Trump’s arbitrary Muslim travel bans in 2017, the abrupt closure of US airports to many overseas flights has led to the mass return of thousands of US citizens from Europe, leading to six-hour waits in baggage halls and a further four-hour wait to proceed through Immigration under extra, medically meaningless health checks. Images have been emerging of jam-packed arrivals halls, vast herds of humans crammed shoulder to shoulder and positively steaming with viruses of every kind, as police helplessly hand out wet wipes and bottled water.

The crisis has revealed that IAG group, Spanish owners of British Airways, among other airlines, now tragically faced with laying off hundreds of staff without pay and cutting back 75% of flights owing to collapsing demand, pleading poverty, is sitting on a £9 billion cash pile. That’s crapitalism in action.

  • When I worked in the junk mail business, we held to the belief that timing was everything. Obviously it’s a long-forgotten principle, as I see from my postbag today that Morrisons supermarket has just run out a door-drop campaign with money-back incentives to consumers to pop along and admire their empty shelves.

Monday, and the weekly slide on the markets crashed in on news that Trump had bullied the Federal Exchange Bank into slashing interest rates to zero. “Stocks plummeted over 9% upon opening, triggering a market-wide halt for 15 minutes as traders on the floor yelled, ‘Halt! Halt!’ (Or maybe ‘Help, help!? Ed.) The S&P 500 dropped 8.14%. The major concern for investors is consumer spending, as major cities across the U.S. begin to close down all nonessential businesses as the coronavirus continues to spread.” (Nowthisnews) Wherever else the Fed’s $1.3 tn in money the ink hasn’t dried on will go, it certainly won’t be into the pockets of consumers. What, you think they’ve learned anything from 2008?

  • Searching online for any antiviral products that might help stave off the inevitable, I realise that thousands upon thousands of people must have been buying up all the antibacterial soaps, sprays and gels they could find in the foolish belief they will help. Oh dear, it’s where our education system has led us.
  • We’re also warned that aspirin and ibuprofen are likely to make your viral fever worse. Stick to paracetamol is the message from the French health ministry; although your fever is a natural adaptive response that will help you get better, not worse. Call a GP if you’re on Prednisolone.

“San Francisco area officials announced a shelter-at-home order for six counties, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Pacific time on Tuesday. The decision affects more than 6.5 million people and will last until at least April 7. The governor of Puerto Rico has announced a total shutdown of the island.” Washington Post.

 

How in the hell does he do it?

Yet a fourth Brazilian delegate and an American official who sat down to dinner with Trump at Mar-a-Lago last weekend have tested positive for the virus. Doubts remain, too, over that vile fascist hyena, Cap’n Bolsonaro, not that we give a fuck what happens to him and how painful it will be.

For several days, however, Trump resisted all attempts to persuade him to take the precautionary test, perhaps in fear of a positive outcome for all of us; perhaps because he thought there were no testing kits left in the country. He continued to go around shaking hands, frequently touching the inch-thick protective orange pan-stick makeup layer known as his face, grabbing microphones unprotected, seemingly unconcerned by his own scientific advice.

But no, it seems even the virus cannot touch the perpetually gilded youth that is Donald Jesus H Trump, any more than can the criminal justice system, the tax authorities or the Congress. His doctor writes, he is totally exonerated. Er, sorry, he is clear of the virus.

He’s dodged the bullet again. Or so we are told.

How in the hell does he do it?

 

The astonishingly transactional nature of the psychopomp, Trump

It’s being reported that Donald Trump, desperate to shore up his vote after two spectacular weeks of displaying his fathomless ineptitude and self-serving instincts in a time of crisis, so entirely predictable, has offered a German pharma company, Curevac, which is apparently on the verge of producing a potentially viable vaccine, a virtually unlimited sum of US taxpayers’ money to secure the exclusive rights to their invention, effectively preventing its use outside America, let alone for the protection of German citizens.

There is no possible reply to this unspeakably amoral proposal. If Trump cannot be removed by constitutional means, or by the courts, because he has abused his powers to overturn the established checks and balances and brought the entire US system of accountable jurisprudence into his personal gift, then he must be removed by force of arms, and arraigned as a criminal against Humanity.

It is impossible to imagine that any filthier, more selfish son of a bitch has ever befouled the office of president of the United States. or ever will.

America First!

Sotto voce: Cunts.

 

The madness…

With Americans dying hourly, Trump is refusing to meet Democrat leader and speaker of the lower House, Nancy Pelosi, to discuss a nonpartisan response to the virus. Asked why, he replied it was because she had been “mean” to him.

“Respirators, ventilator, all of the equipment – try getting it yourselves,” Trump told (state) governors, according to the New York Times. After the call, Trump went to Twitter to single out New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to “do more.” Cuomo shot back: “I have to do more? No — YOU have to do something! You’re supposed to be the President.” Trump later deleted his tweet. (Washington Post)

You see? He’s a toilet-paper tiger. He has nothing. Go get him.

 

Stay sane with Mr Rainbow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CCW4Xnp_sQ

 

GW: Hang on, weren’t the Three Degrees Prince Charles’ favorite girl band?

Italy: The beneficial effect of Covid-19 has been registered from space! Severe-weather.eu reports, data analysis by the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite has revealed a significant decline in air pollution across Italy, particularly visible across the industrial north, where normally the highest values of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions are observed. The difference is really noticeable, and if sustained will have an effect on the incidence of lung disease balanced only by… er… . A similar phenomenon has been noted over parts of China.

Pakistan: “The devastation caused by heavy rains in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province continued late last week when at least 11 people died and 17 were injured. Heavy rain has affected the province since 06 Mar., causing landslides, flash floods and buildings to collapse.” (Floodlist)

Colombia: “Heavy rain that began late on 14 March caused flooding and landslides in areas near Bucaramanga in Santander Department. One man died after he was swept away by the flood waters. Two other people were injured. Local media said that around 100 families were affected.” (Floodlist)

France: Ever-longer, hotter summers punctuated by extreme rainfall, unexpected frosts and battering hailstorms are forcing traditional Cognac brandy makers to consider changing to more resistant varieties of grape as their tightly controlled staple variety, the Ugni blanc, isn’t coping well. (Guardian)

USA: is it ever going to settle down? “An intense storm could move into the center of the country later this week, bringing a return to wintry conditions. The far-reaching storm system will first bring much-needed snowfall across the Sierra Nevada early in the week, before slowly tracking through the Intermountain West on Wednesday. Blizzard warnings were issued for western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming. ” (Accuweather)

New Zealand: Cat 2 double-cyclone Gretel battered the islands of New Caledonia over the weekend with strong wind and torrential rain and is headed with high seas towards the north of New Zealand. (Severe-weather.eu)

Madagascar: 140 k/h winds, floods. 4 dead.

Angola: floods.

 

 

The Pumpkin – issue 115: Quote of the Week… Corona v. Us… The madness of King Donald’s friend Rudy… American hero… Fancy that, a policeman!… GW: a hard rain’s already falling.

QotW….

“What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1787.

I didn’t say that myself, nor of course would the BogPo ever approve of what was said, even by such an historic eminence, but it was clearly not illegal to say it in 1787, when it was obviously said in jest, ho ho.

The above quote was supplied as a salutary reminder of the patriotic citizen’s duty by a Comment contributor to a Buzzflash article, 14 Feb., proclaiming Trump as a dictator enabled by political feebleness, the pursuit of sensationalism and cheek-turning on the part of the media and the opposition party. “Banana Republic Fascism: Don Corleone Trump Hijacks Department of Justice to Help Out His Criminal Cronies and Punish Truth Tellers” is the somewhat rococo title, if you’re interested.

Sure, and haven’t we been warning people about this very thing for the past three years? And would anyone listen?

Now all we have is Jefferson.

 

Corona v. Us

Update: Saturday 15 Feb., cases 67,186; deaths 1,527 – including the first outside SE Asia, a patient in France. Recovereds: 8,500.

Sunday 16 Feb., cases 69,269; deaths 1,669. Rate of increase within China said to be slowing. More cases aboard Diamond Princess as US moves to evacuate 280 citizens.

Monday 17 Feb., cases 71,337; deaths 1,776. Continuing to slow. Another 99 cases confirmed aboard the cruise from Hell, the Diamond Princess, at Yokahama as 300 American passengers are flown home, obliged to wear masks which doctors say are probably useless. 14 of them have already tested positive.

Coro news…

Quarantine periods in Henan province south of Beijing are being extended to 21 days because of two anomalous cases of patients testing positive long after coming into contact with cases in Wuhan

The Chinese stock market has fully recovered from its initial 8% drop due to the Covid factor, as Bank of China is printing money to keep investors happy. and stocks are soaring once more. Western commenters describe the trend as ‘ludicrous’.

Two hundred attendees at the 2020 UK Bus Summit in London, including several transport-related MPs who were hoping to curry favor with the bus-obsessed little boy in Number 10 are being contacted about a Chinese delegate who attended the event and has tested positive.

The Tokyo marathon is being restricted to professional runners only; Japan is preparing for a heavy number of potential cases. Beijing is thinking about cancelling its annual Party congress.

The WHO’s choice of “Covid-19” as the official name of the virus has annoyed the USB cable manufacturer, Covid – strapline goes something unfortunately like: “Guaranteeing more effective transmission worldwide”. Still, they do say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. (Source: The Late Show)

Africa has recorded its first case. An unnamed “foreigner” is in isolation in a Cairo hospital.

Furious British passengers trapped aboard the Diamond Princess at Yokahama are demanding the Foreign Office gets off its butt and rescues them too. So far, the government hasn’t commented.

Passengers all got a special Valentine’s Day free bottle of wine, courtesy of the cruise company, which must have pissed them off even more. A number of Australians have been flown home.

 

The madness of King Donald

…is contagious. His friend, Rudy Giuliani…

The madness of Trump’s friend Rudy

…went on Fox Business the other day, and asserted that nameless “Ukrainian oligarchs” had stolen over $5 billion in US aid, which explained why the £391 million military aid package had been held up by the president. He omitted to mention that the notorious quid pro quo had, until he said it, had nothing to do with oligarchs! Unless you consider Biden to be one.

Nor has he apparently noticed that the Senate has already found the president Not Guilty of extortion, obstruction and abuse of power, so they can all move on to the next criminal conspiracy.

This was an entirely new slant on the impeachment story and an allegation no-one had made before, or during the so-called trial in the Senate.

Meanwhile, an internal investigation into the Fox channels’ claims about Ukraine has branded them as “disinformation” and Giuliani as “too susceptible” to the Trumpsucking conspiracy bullshit peddled by Fox’s millionaire fantasy-show hosts like Hannity, Ingraham and Kilmeade.

An INTERNAL Fox inquiry!

“How do you think they became oligarchs?” he challenged the world to answer – Rudy frequently appears drunk on TV, and at this point he made weird munching and gnawing noises – and then went on to claim that he was “terrified” that the Democrats were “literally” planning to have him assassinated.

 

Meanwhile, freshly acquitted of extortion in the Senate, where the hopeless Senator Collins from Maine changed her guilty vote at the last minute on grounds that she was ”Sure the president would learn a lesson” from the experience of being impeached, instead Trump has tweeted the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, a threat that unless he persuades the city’s courts to drop their investigations into his dodgy finances, he will defund a federal program subsidizing tourism to the city.

D’you ever meet one of those stroppy, 9-years-old, back-of-the-class lawyers, who’d say, “Nyah haa, I can do anything I like and you can’t touch me!”?

 

American hero

Many US commentators are expressing a raised degree of alarm that, this week, as it became abundantly clear that Trump has lassoed the Department of Justice and is using the law as a weapon to take revenge, to intimidate and harass his opponents and exonerate his friends, while himself remaining untouched by it, a line may irrevocably have been crossed into authoritarian dictatorship.

No longer in theory, the subject of nervous humor and furrowed examination but – as the Border Patrol has been transformed into armed snatch squads being sent this very weekend into so-called sanctuary cities in defiance of local authority ordinances, to batter down doors and haul away undocumented workers – in actuality.

With the cooption of the Senate and the Republican party into his grand scheme, the emasculation of law enforcement agencies and the packing of the judiciary with Trump appointees, there is now no longer a single institutional body other than the National Assocation of Funeral Directors, who must surely have a coldline to the Grim Reaper, that can curb the actions of the criminal president and bring him to account: excepting only the American people. The electorate.

And even they, worries Thom Hartmann, may already have unconsciously crossed their own moral lines to become a part of the new paradigm that Trump has brought about; just as ordinary Germans did in the early 1930s, they became Nazis without noticing that anything had changed. In Kafka’s novelette, Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa wakes to find himself transformed into a giant insect: while asleep, he has compacted with the State and is now entirely and willingly serving its ultimately self-destructive agenda.

In the TV coverage of Trump’s recent rally in New Hampshire, in the background of what I call human wallpaper, serried ranks of hand-picked dumbfucks forming a cheering, gurning red, white and blue backdrop to the overweening vanity, the posturing, the nauseating self-congratulation, the snivelling self-pity and the many, many lies, can be seen a child of about 10. He is enthusiastically joining in on cue, all the hate-calls to lock up “Crooked Hillary” and Nancy Pelosi, parroting the nativist Trump catchphrases, booing at the word “impeachment” or hostile mentions of the “fake news” press gaggle perched uncertainly at the back of the hall; giving the thumbs-down sign at the mention of the name of the Jew, Soros.

This heavily indoctrinated little bastard needed no prompting from his dad, proudly sitting next to him in his MAGA hat. And he’s not alone: there’s been a recorded increase in bullying of minority children in schools, observers noting that much of it is accompanied by the verbal tropes of Trump’s unending round of well-drilled nativist rallies.

How long will it be, I wonder, before he’s riding around in a Humvee, stringing up Muslims and Jews and Mexicans, shooting them into pits?

Because that’s what’s going to make him an American hero for the 21st century, and he’s loving it.

 

Fancy that, a policeman!

British citizen Tony Camoccio has been released from Egyptian custody after paying £1,000 in bail and related fees. He was arrested after patting a policeman ironically on the back following a patdown and search of his belongings at Cairo airport. The policeman insisted he had been sexually assaulted and that CCTV footage would prove it.

Now who in their right mind, what horrible pervert, but only a British man would sexually assault an immigration official in full view of his colleagues? And indeed, after refusing to hand over the tape for independent review, Egyptian officials grudgingly gave in and admitted there was no assault. Why therefore Mr Camoccio has had to pay out £1,000 for the pleasure of touching up a copper seems to be just one of those things you might expect in al-Sissi’s Egypt – corrupt and mad to the core.

Don’t go there, is my advice.

 

GW: a hard rain’s already falling

British Isles: “the Met Office has issued a “danger to life” weather warning as the UK braces itself for Storm Dennis – a second weekend of gusty weather. Storm Dennis is forecast to batter large swathes of the country with 70mph winds and up to 140mm (5.5in) of rain in northern areas. The Environment Agency (EA) said the flood impact from the weather system is likely to be worse than last weekend’s Storm Ciara due to rain falling on already saturated ground.” (ITN)

Saturday 15 Feb., “…the observed pressure falls are more than double the threshold for bombogenesis. Pressure change during the past 24 hours has been unprecedented, from 987 mb to 936 mb at 06 .00 UTC today – a  remarkable 51 mb drop. Dennis will continue deepening at an extreme rate for another 6-9 hours before it reaches its mature stage, likely to push the lowest pressure slightly below 915 mbar.” (Severe-weather.eu) The cyclone is expected to weaken again before making landfall.

Note: here in Boglington-on-Sea it’s been a bit wet and windy, but by dinner time on Saturday nothing out of the ordinary. Some weather forecasters are in danger of crying Wolf too often. But there are a couple of Red warnings out Sunday a.m., further south of here. Many communities in the northeast and south midlands are flooded.

Dennis is gradually weakening as it moves eastwards but is bringing strong winds and ‘excessive’ snowfall to western Norway. Severe-weather.eu warns of maybe 2 meters of snow!

Fujiwara: the Fujiwara effect is what happens when Storm Dennis gets caught up by another intense cyclone in the middle of the North Atlantic that goes into orbit around it and then merges into it…. producing hurricane-force winds and 80-to-100-ft waves and another blizzard-battering for Iceland. DO NOT SET SAIL IN THIS! The remnants of the huge storm will push through north of Scotland on Monday and could in theory dump up to 3-ft of rain on the west coast of Norway.

The good news is, TWO MORE cyclones are intensifying behind Dennis, and will repeat the Fujiwara effect together on Wednesday, bringing heavy seas, high winds, more rain and some snow to the British Isles. These intense lows coming in multiples are unprecedented events in the annals of North Atlantic storms, according to weather-watcher site, Weather Decoded, and are the result of ferocious stratospheric winds ripping the jetstream to pieces. Wow.

Except that this report is looking like bullshit as in the wake of double-Dennis, high pressure is building across the Atlantic, 17 Feb.

Southeastern Europe is in for a new heatwave early this week, according to Severe-weather.eu, with temperatures 16 to 20°C above the average.

Mozambique: “heavy rain has caused further damage and flooding in central parts of the country just weeks after at least 28 people died and 58,000 were affected by floods in January. 2 people died in Manica province, around 500 families in need of food assistance and temporary shelter according to local media. Chimoio, the capital of Manica Province, recorded 175mm of rain in 24 hours to 12 February.” (from Floodlist)

Australia: “heavy rain continues to fall in Southeast Australia, with flooding affecting parts of southern Queensland over the last few days. This follows severe flooding in parts of New South Wales after days of heavy rain from 07 February. Marcoola recorded 231.8 mm of rain in 24 hours to 11 Feb. Queensland Police reported that the body of a person was found in Conondale. A woman is missing. Meanwhile, northern Queensland is experiencing severe to extreme heatwave conditions that are expected to stretch into the weekend”, ahead of Cyclone Uesi. (Floodlist)

15 Feb., 9 News reported, 25 million trees were flattened by Cyclone Uesi when it hit World Heritage site, Lord Howe island with winds gusting to 155 km/h. The Guardian records that 800 residents and tourists appear to have had a lucky escape. Both Sydney and Melbourne were threatened over the weekend with more heavy storms and potential flooding.

The next existential nightmare to hit SE Australia’s fire- and flood-ravaged coast is expected to be a plague of mosquitos hatched by the exceptionally warm, wet weather.

Peru: “further heavy rain has affected parts of Huanuco department. The department saw a series of flood events during the first half of January this year.” Dozens of people have been displaced and red warnings are out in several areas where rivers have overflowed. (from Floodlist)

 

Tunnel approaching….

Over a quarter of all US domestic “cheap” home-lease car loans are in default. $1.2 trillion dollars is outstanding on credit cards and a further $1tn owed in potentially non-recoverable student debt. These are all sub-prime areas bearing the highest lending rates, where investors bored with poor returns from conventional instruments are getting back into the debt-swaps and derivatives game, that brought the entire banking system down in 2007/8. No lessons were learned.

The mortgages market is next, as excess consumer borrowing is secured against homes; the stockmarket is a bubble unrelated to the real economy, fuelled by the Fed printing money and corporate stock buybacks using tax cuts – money that isn’t trickling down into higher wages or jobs; while US government and corporate debt is the highest in history. (Summary of Trump’s booming economy on Thom Hartmann, by Prof Richard Wolff.)

Cabinet reshuffle: Baris Johnson’s new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak is a millionaire former Goldman Sachs exec. and bankbusting derivatives salesman: a high-stakes gambler who owns a hedge-fund. His new Attorney General, Suella Braverman is reportedly an active member of an extreme Buddhist cult in North London whose 93-year-old guru has been accused of sex crimes against young male acolytes.

The Observer reports that press agencies are complaining that Johnson has been allowing access to key events, such as the signing of the EU withdrawal treaty, to the Number 10 “official” photographer only. This follows on from the notorious walkout by the Number 10 press corps after Cummings tried to bar several reporters he has taken exception to.

Welcome to New Britain.

 

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

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

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

 

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

Lock her up!

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

No cigar

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

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

They’d better count their fingers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A pattern ProPublica describes as “Pump and Trump”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump is the real deal.

And the dumbfucks love him for it.

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

Khashoggi murder

If, maybe, then

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

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

Jamal Khashoggi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get rid of him.

 

20 October LATEST:

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

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

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

I doubt we shall be hearing much from him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sickening.

x

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

Warren Peace

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

Everything Trump can’t manage to be and do.

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

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

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

Warren, seen in 3-D?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Needless to say, no apology has been forthcoming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or until someone throws him in jail.

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

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

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

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

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

x

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

Trump’s Khashoggi Register

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why are we so weak?

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

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

 

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

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

GW: A perfect day for a snooze

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

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

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

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

Now, buzz off. Zzzz.

 

If at first you don’t succeed

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

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

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

Well, almost…

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

 

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

Hello again.

Old Bigot writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only not any more, it seems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he doesn’t wear Lurex.

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

The laws of cricket, explained

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

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

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

Play!

x

(Warning: too much information.)

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

The old one-two

One:

A wrenching pain splits my chest.

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

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

Was it even full?

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

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

An entire night of this torture stretches ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just dribble.

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

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

 

Two:

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

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

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

Too late.

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

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

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

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

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

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

…accusing me of getting older by the hour.

x

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

So deport me!

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

Surely Border Force  wouldn’t send her packing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was, frankly, shocked.

  • Which of the following is not a common swearword?

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

Not even the rules of cricket!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps they’ll deport him, rather than me?

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

x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Floodlist/ Wunderground/ Accuweather/

 

The end of Days

Mount Agung, eh? What a prick-teaser!

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

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

 

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

Guns – the tired old debate cranks up again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Is he a terrorist?

The Guardian reports that the FBI defines terrorism thus:

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

So, is Donald John Trump a terrorist?

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

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

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

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

Well, so’s the other guy:

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

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

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

x

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

Let them eat towels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or is it just that he makes them look good?

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

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

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

Ah said oops upside yo head…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Postscriptum:

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

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

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

Can’t we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And on it goes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bound straight for Hell

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

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

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

By Christ, you’re hard to love.

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

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

They hate our way of life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As if!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can manage our own atrocities, thank you.

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

 

Postscriptum

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck them. DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM.

In the long run we’re all dead.

Isn’t he just priceless?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a loser.

x

xAmericans? Fuck ’em, says Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

I couldn’t possibly comment.

Comex 2. Stately Home. Sigh.

Luckily, you have all stopped reading this, muh li’l bogl.

That way, I can never be accused of boring you.

Three hits all last week is hardly going to win me a Grumpy award. Just as well, I have nothing to wear.

And no-one is reading my Posts, just the usual two, many years’ old Pages, that seem for some reason to lure vast numbers of readers when there is so much spectacularly witty and informative writing elsewhere to look at: ‘Comex 2’, ‘Stately Home’. Sigh.

It’s a sign that I should maybe write a couple of books instead. They’d be best-sellers. ‘Comex 2: Sand in My Chapatti’. ‘Stately Home: A Headless Horseman Riding By’.

Or perhaps it’s more a sign that Posting over four hundred other interesting and entertaining articles in a kind of linear depression narrative has been a colossal waste of my time and intellect. I should try something more worthwhile. What’s the local paper got to offer in its Jobs section? Ah, yes. ‘Cymhorthydd Traeth Tymhorol Dros Dro, £14k’.

As the great hieromancer, Russell Grant, explains today in my personal Yahoo! Horoscope: “Creating art in a vacuum is difficult. It’s important to share your work. This will help you connect with people who admire your vision and sympathise with your point of view.”

Er, right.

S0, it’s coming on three years since The Boglington Post first aired, or lined, whatever. And to be fair, I have said on more than one occasion that I refuse to get drawn into the SEO game, maximising my H-tags. (I might do, when I find out what one is.) I’ve been relying on you, your lovely big mouth, to transmit news by word of this great repository to your friends and colleagues, and thence to the worldwide virus.

But if that’s resulted in my bogl having 27 Followers, only two of whom have ever kept in touch, neither of whom now appears to be reading a word I write – maybe you returned from vacation with Chikungunya virus, or have been taken hostage – then is there any point in going on?

I admit, I have also said that I shall be perfectly happy if The Post achieves posthumous fame and recognition, long after I have died of reading the TV schedule and drinking too much red wine.

I didn’t mean it.

For, as dear Russell encouragingly goes on to explain: “Showing off your creative talent could pay off handsomely…. Be assured you will receive overwhelmingly positive feedback.”

Oh, I will. I will.

– Uncle Bogler

(Lalocabruja pings to say she Likes this. She is my only friend. And her lovely dog with the blue eyes.)

Buy It or Decry It: The Modern Dilemma

Oh dear, oh dear. What’s to be done?

Do you ever find yourself being ripped apart by metaphorical horses, one to each limb? I know I do.

(Guitar bore aware)

That this small article (particle?) touches on the acquisition of yet another stringéd instrument is in many senses irrelevant to my theme, that of the Moral Dilemma.

It simply concerns the choices we need to make and the moral consequences thereof – a moral consequence being the effect one’s choices have on other people and their wretched lives.

The question being, am I making someone’s life fractionally better or worse by purchasing a product that has been bought with the workers’ human misery as the currency of rapacious US capitalism?

It all began this week, when finally, at long last, after many months of assiduous interweb-thing advertising, I sold my lovely D’Aquisto guitar for about a third of its market price. The complex and detailed negotiations, rooted in mutual suspicion, culminated in the far-distant purchaser requesting urgently that I ferry it personally to the offices of an overnight courier company, fifty miles away, in order not to miss a delivery slot the following day.

Farewell, my lovely

Farewell, my lovely

Having nothing else to do (I’d forgotten I had an appointment with my Financial Advisor), and considering he had faithfully deposited quite a large sum in the vaults of messrs PayPal and Co. in my name, I felt I had no choice. I loaded the guitar, wrapped in so many layers of free cardboard (see Posts passim) that it resembled an Egyptian sarcophagus, loaded Hunzi into the back and set off on Wednesday in my elderly Volkswagen, the one with the slipping clutch-plate and disintegrating brake pads, across the winding pass through the stunning Elan Valley, to the fifty-miles-away town.

I confess that I felt less reluctant to make the journey, having recalled that the town boasts a specialist guitar shoppe of Aladdin’s Cave-like prolificity.

The business done, I bade a heartless farewell to my lovely D’Aquisto (it’s only money) and set off through the town. The shop duly presented itself. It was like one of those American guitar shops, single-storey and stuffed to the rafters with Fenders. Further rooms opened out unexpectedly, containing sheet music, amplifiers, digital pianos and a special room for drums. It was too much to take in all at once, so I availed myself of the free coffee.

As I soon discovered, there were only two guitars of the specific type and design I craved. One, a Yamaha, was lovely, rare and an enticing price, but I dismissed it on the grounds that shit-brown burr walnut is not my favourite finish. What am I like? I am SO superficial.

The other, however, surprisingly met all my technical requirements, and at a price some 4.6 times less than the equivalent lovely machines I had been dreading buying, with not a lot of loss in sound quality. It was, as some people used to say, a no-brainard.

Now, if like me you’re not very good at the interweb-thing stuff, you may find that your PayPal account has some limits imposed on it until you can prove you exist and that the bank details you have given do not translate to a small cafe somewhere in uptown Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. So I wasn’t able to consummate my desire on the spot.

And that was a Good Thing, because later that evening – the car seemed to fly home, possibly as it had no brakes – I went online to obtain a detailed specification of the object of my interest, only to run across a daunting website posted by some of the employees of the manufacturer. What I had read somewhere was an Italian-made instrument turned out to be the alleged product of virtually slave labour in several Far Eastern countries – China, Korea, Indonesia, I forget.

This explained its astonishing value-for-money qualities, and the rave reviews from weirdly bearded US guitar-picking baboons. It seems the highly profitable US company might have been been massaging its profit figures for various regions by moving the money around, and using the claimed ‘losses’ to justify factory closures and job losses, only to start up again elsewhere with cheaper labour.

It is of course a familiar business model, one that has benighted workers for decades, even in developed countries. The ruthless search for cheaper production is the ugly face of globalism. And it is, of course, totally self-defeating in the long run. What goes around, comes around. Labour in developed Britain, the world’s sixth or seventh largest economy, where this globalism shit began, is now so cheap that manufacturers are repatriating the jobs they outsourced to the developing world thirty years ago.

So, should I buy a Cort M Custom guitar or not? The displaced workforce would obviously like me not to. They would like me to boycott their erstwhile employer, to bring him to his knees. But life is not that simple. People need to work, to feed their children. By buying a Cort M Custom guitar, I am at least helping to feed the children of someone poorer than the newly displaced workers of a shutdown Cort factory in some marginally richer country.

During the late 1980s, the company I worked for was able to command fees of £120 an hour for my services as a copywriter. As I have bogled elsewhere, by the early 2000s I couldn’t get £12 an hour for freelance work. I would be told, oh, we can have copywriting done in India for three dollars. So I am just as much a victim of global capitalism as the Cort factory workers, in my own way.

I do not claim to be poorer, hungrier, or less able to feed my children. I am sure those people have a far more difficult time than I do. But in terms of scaleable economics, given that after two centuries of development the parameters of average wages and costs in my country are greater roughly by a factor of ten, I have lost just as much proportionally. I deserve to pay a bit less for my Cort M Custom, given how much worse off I have become as a result of those little bastards undercutting my wages.

This is not getting to a good place.

Luckily, I found another website and a different guitar and it costs twice as much and it is unbelievably lovely, and made in… well, who gives a fuck? I want one!

Postscriptum

But it seems alas that I can’t have one, the last one in England has just been sold.

Post-postscriptum:

Apropos previous Posts on the subject of Gibson guitars, the world’s leading make, I am relieved to find I am not alone in my views. Nor, it seems, are corrupt and bullying labour practices confined to exploiting the Chinese.

Former Gibbo employee ‘Andy’ writes on the Richard’s Guitars (of Stratford-upon-Avon) Forum, on a thread headed Maybe Some Gibson Lovers Need to Buy Soon:

“Might i mention again the EXTREMELY poor quality of these instruments? the processes these people try to use are inefficient, cumbersome, and so archaic they are ridiculous, and when you try to change a process to make it more efficient, you are told you can’t, because it’s not the “Gibson Way”.

“In short, this is the worst company in the world, slaves in sweat shops in Asia are treated better (and make a better product too)

“Advice to Management

“Die. Do the world a favor. Do your company and employees a favor. Die and quit ruining a great name like Gibson.”

Oh dear. All is not as it seems in the jingle-jangle jungle.