Election Special…. Quote of the Week… Patience, the least useful virtue… That election – a pathologist considers…GW: rain, rain, go away

Election Special….

I’m sorry, I just can’t.

Postscriptum; except to add, 18 Dec., from a fascinating Guardian piece asking what caused the collapse of the hugely well supported “People’s Vote” second referendum movement, which the author blames squarely on Swinson for her hubris enabling Johnson to call a snap election on his own terms: “It’s over”.

“Pro-Brexit parties – the Conservatives, the Brexit party, the DUP and the rump of Ukip – secured 46.5% of the vote; those advocating a second referendum, like Labour, or those wanting to revoke the result of the first one, the Lib Dems, ended up with 52.2%.”

Thus History blunders into blind alleyways, goaded by rascals, into the clutches of muggers..

Gove said: ‘I’m confident that we will be able not just to leave the EU on January 31 but also to conclude all the details of a new relationship in short order.’

“All together now!”

QotW

“The British state is a world centre for money and reputation laundering, cripplingly centralised, an outpost of a fading imperial ruling class. It’s a barely democratic weevil-ridden mess used largely to protect wealth for oligarchs. People are right to hate it.” – Adam Ramsey, Open Democracy

Returning from an innocent week singing jazz in France last year, I lugged my bag through the labyrinth of passport checks, immigration and customs controls, down forbiddingly stark and overlit corridors, under the accusing glare of little knots of bored Border Force goons in their black uniforms, and observed to the guy behind me how much I hated coming back to what this country has become.

He looked at me with an expression of outrage and demanded to know why I stayed, then?

Good question. I was born here. I’m 70. I have a prostate the size of a football and I’m waiting for more eye surgery. Much as I admire other European countries’ health services, I wouldn’t qualify. I tried to leave years ago, but couldn’t sell my house. Otherwise I have no money.

Everyone I know, or like, occasionally work with and maybe even sort-of love is here. There would be no support network for me abroad – my only partners are Hunzi and Cats. The temptation to punch this little crypto-fascist britweasel in the face was strong. But you never know who is going to testify against you at the hearings.

How many other countries threaten their visitors and returning residents with “Force”?

(Photo Murdo McLeod/Guardian, with apologies)

Male panda Yang Guang in the panda’s enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo.

“What do you mean, I stole a reporter’s phone?”

“A disabled woman has been awarded £5,000 in an out-of-court settlement after being called a “lying bitch” by a welfare official in formal legal papers after challenging a decision to cut her disability benefits.”Guardian

Patience, the least useful virtue

What’s so mean about means-tested benefits is that the outcome is not dependent on how much or how little money you may be earning in the near future; or how much tax you might have paid – or what your immediate needs may be.

Assessing whether or not you deserve support is entirely a matter of what you earned in the recent past. That may be pretty irrelevant, given that you have just lost your eyesight – or enough of it to guarantee that you can’t earn anything for a while – maybe forever.

No, somebody paid you money six months ago, so you obviously don’t need any more now.

It may take the State weeks or months to make up its mind, once every last vestige of financial “evidence” of absolutely nothing has been squeezed out of you and your compost-drawer of unopened bank statements is turned over. By which time, your “nothing to see here” has become a great big black hole of debt.

It’s all gone; but the State is not interested in how much your life costs you to run, its only concern is to absolutely minimize, to the nearest penny or less, how much it needs grudgingly to grant you to ensure the most basic level of survival, provided you do nothing else but report in regularly.

To ensure the minimum of embarrassing headlines in the filthy scumbag tabloid press, braying that the State has gone soft on loafers.

Dare to work for one hour, and presto! You’re off the register. Go back to square one. Be unable to attend an interview and there are savage sanctions. The hell with your kids. Receive your final month’s salary in lieu of notice, and your unemployment benefit can’t start until the end of the following month, and will be paid a month in arrears, leaving you with nothing.

How does that get you back into work? It’s deliberate cruelty. (The “lying bitch” has a degenerative heart and lung condition.)

Which is why I was mildly excited to read about a town in America where the local administration is experimenting with a policy of paying every resident adult $500 a month, regardless of employment status, income or savings, as a basic, regular “floor” level support for all.

My Gard, but ain’t that…. Carmynism? Have the Rooskies taken over*?

The usual heehaw this idea gets from the donkey sanctuary, about lazy undeserving people sitting back and doing nothing, a burden on the State, enjoying the life of Reilly while capitalists slave, can hardly be said to apply to a grant of five C’s a month, no-one can retire on that. Plus, taxpayers get the money too, so they can’t complain either.

And it’s working. People trapped in basic income poverty have been able to use the money any way they need to – mostly it’s going to help them find better-paying jobs, to pay for a course or a medical bill, to get out of a shithole and rent a better place, to ensure themselves a square meal once a day, to buy the kids some school shoes or a little present at Christmas.

Every boat is lifted, along with folks’ self-esteem. Local shops benefit. Capitalists benefit. And they’re all incentivized to work more. (What selfrighteous middle-class salarymen forget is, it costs money to get and hold a job.)

Okay, so I live mostly on the State pension. I get paid not to work, although I might like to. It’s money I paid in for 33 years, so they tell me, but it hasn’t made me lazy. I do this and that, as much as I can, stay interested. But look, here’s my terrible kitchen cooker, the oven no longer working. Where’ll I find £700 to get a new one fitted before Christmas? Oh, right, the savings I’ve been using to top up the pension.

I doubt, for instance, that the State where I live has any interest in making my life more bearable by helping me to acquire an expensive new gas cooker – or to help keep The Boglington Post afloat. But it’s turning out to be one of those months.

The keyboard of this, muh li’l laptop, on which your Post is created, has over the past few days started playing up. Some letters are not co-operating and make no impression when struck, until struck two or three times more with increasing ferocity. The left-hand shift key no longer shifts several of the letters in normal typing mode into caps, requiring the thunderous downforce of a Paderewski assaulting Chopin.

This is new, and concerning. A £900 laptop should not be doing this, merely because it’s a few months out of warranty. It’s an Asus ZenBook, by the way, just in case you were thinking about getting one (it has several other annoying faults). I can’t get another one, I just walked into town and checked my balances with the bank. That’s a bit Zen too. Where’d it all go?

Odd it is, that I’m always amused by my own failings, sudden blindness for instance, which my old Headmaster warned me would happen, and yet so utterly infuriated by inanimate objects.

Take this printer (I wish you would.) A Canon MG5750, in case you plan to avoid buying one. It’s a few months old, but gets infrequent use. I’ve just brought my great clunking fist down on it in fury, after taking seven goes to get it even once to fulfil its basic function, of producing half a page of printed text.

For there is nothing else one can do, no jiggling or shoving things around, no slamming of lids with curses and imprecations, no switching it off and on again, to persuade it that that pile of white stuff in the tray IS actually paper, and no, it DOESN’T NEED any more.

Once a machine has gained a conviction that things are so, like a persistent Jehovah’s Witness on the doorstep, like Grandad who’s decided you’re his old pal Chalky, like a Republican arguing Trump did nothing wrong, there’s nothing on earth you can do to convince it otherwise.

In such circumstances violence may be futile, but patience is surely the least useful virtue.

A bit of extra cash helps.

Which is why I was so astonished to learn that there is one relatively generous benefit that isn’t means-tested, it’s not dependent on your circumstances or your condition, there’s no medical and no-one ever asks you what you’ve done with the money. It’s called Attendance Allowance, and you only need to have a disability requiring any kind of support to qualify for it.

There. Who knew? My application’s in the post! Lying bitch….

*Maddow reports, the Washington Post has a story that one of the phone calls White House lawyers have locked away in a top security server was from Trump to Putin, asking him what he thought the US policy should be on North Korea. So, yes, they have. And without a shot being fired. More maybe in the next issue of The Pumpkin.

Image result for Image Johnson and Corbyn

Eagle v. Octopus: Which would you save?

(Canadian conservation workers had to rescue a drowning eagle from the clutches of an angry octopus it was rashly trying to catch for supper. Both survived the encounter, just.)

Oh dear, I’ve gone and accidentally deleted a spam ad on my Google email, offering me “beautiful women in search of older men.”

It’s a sign of the times.

 

That election – a pathologist considers

The C19th century critic and polymath, John Ruskin scorned the tendency of the Romantic poets to attribute human emotions to natural phenomena, as the “Pathetic fallacy”. The meaning of pathetic has altered considerably since, to become a pejorative word for  useless or feeble, even pitiable, deriving from the Greek “pathos”. In Ruskin’s time it had more in common with sympathy, empathy, psychopathy and so on; implying spiritual connection.

Be that as it may, I think he may have been a little too hasty with the scorn bucket, given the obvious link between the recent election and the severe gales by which this part of the world has been buffeted over the past week. Last night was pretty gusty, and as we were swept along or temporarily blown backwards on our walk this morning all the dogs in the park had a wild glint in their eye, with much attendant mischief.

Whether to describe the gales pathetically as the “winds of Change” blowing through the political landscape, or as Nature’s attempt to push us closer to Europe – or just, frankly, to get rid of us – I can’t decide. I suppose it depends on your political point of view.

But if the Lib-Dems folding on the issue of university tuition fees came close to blowing them away after 2010, I sincerely hope this catastrophe they’ve selfishly inflicted on us all is a fucking tornado that whirls their ass away up into the sky, over the fucking rainbow, so that we never see or hear of them again.

And good riddance to Swinson, that product of Aardman Animations, who lost her seat. I wish it had been more.

They were just fucking… pathetic.

 

GW: rain, rain, go away

Peru: homes, bridges and other infrastructure have been lost during heavy rainstorms since 6 Dec. Hundreds of people have been evacuated as rivers burst their banks.

Trinidad and Tobago: schools have been closed and roads blocked due to flooding after days of heavy rain. Coastal flooding has been made worse by spring tides. Heavy rainfall in south east Ecuador has caused flooding and landslides, with 1 fatality reported.

Maldives: streets in the capital, Malé, have been flooded after 80 mm of rain fell in 24 hours. More severe weather is forecast.

Australia: a change from 40 deg. heat and raging bushfires, a severe storm has battered part of Queensland. The Bureau of Meteorology reported rainfall rates of 120mm per hour. Cars were left submerged after streets in Southport flooded. Large hail damaged buildings and over 8 thousand homes were without power (Accuweather). Queensland Fire and Emergency responded to dozens of requests for assistance.

(All the above: from Floodlist)

“Thousands of properties have been saved from a bushfire burning out-of-control north of Perth in Western Australia but lives and homes remain under threat. The fire has destroyed nearly 12,000 hectares, with about 400 firefighters battling to bring it under control ahead of another day of scorching temperatures. Heat records were expected to be broken in Perth on Sunday (15 Dec.) as the city braced for a third-consecutive 40C day.” (Australian AP, in Guardian)

USA: “A cross-country storm” is set to bring up to a foot of snow “along a stretch of about 2,000 miles “from the Colorado Rockies to Maine. The (early season) storm will follow on the heels of a drenching rainstorm in the East.” 10-ft waves have demolished a famous ancient rock-stack, a tourist attraction on the shore of Lake Superior. (Accuweather)

In a Post an hour ago (14 Dec.), climate vlogger and garrulous old billygoat, Sam Mitchell (The Collapse Chronicles) mentions, he’s in Texas where the mercury is approaching a wintry 80F, 27C.

Zimbabwe: in a recent Post we brought to your attention, the drying-up of the Victoria Falls, on the Zambezi river. An article on The Weather Channel explains, despite apparent increases elsewhere, October rainfall in the region has fallen to about half its 1980s average. The conclusion is that as rainfall amounts in the rainy season haven’t changed much, the dry season is getting longer, while average daily highs in October are 3.8 deg. C above what they were in the 1980s.

Balkans: and over the entire region of the north-central Mediterranean – northern Italy, Greece and up into the Alps, storms are bringing blizzard conditions with intense rates of snowfall up to 50 mm per hour, with “excessive” rainfall at lower altitudes. “Flash floods are locally possible”. (Severe-weather.eu)

UK (West coast): and here comes the wind again…. 00.24 am, Sun 15 Dec. It’s been blowing gales most of the past week.

Tunnel approaching….

6th Extinction: The success of a captive breeding program has brought the Guam Rail – a flightless bird about the size of a chicken – back from the brink of extinction. Good news, then. Ten more species in a similarly critical situation were downgraded during 2019 from severely threatened to merely threatened status. That leaves only 112 thousand endangered species listed in the Red Book, of which a mere 30 thousand are on the brink of extinction. (Guardian Environment at the COP25 conference in Madrid.)

And one you’d rather: Thousands of normally shy Fat Innkeeper worms – also known for one obvious reason as Penis Fish, I’ll spare you the salacious details in case of age-related issues – have surfaced on beaches in California after storms stripped away layers of sand. I record this, while on our grim Election day a deep low sits symbolically over the country bringing more strong winds and rain, only because it appears to be the number one story attracting readers on the Guardian news pages.

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 105 now taking form: Lock ’em up!… Starve ’em?… Or just string ’em up?… Janus… GW: slipslidin’ away

Quote of the Week

“So, if you’re poor, you’re dead?” – British passer-by vox-popped on US medical costs.

 

Too much information corner…

According to a new Washington Post report on the Orange President’s presumably indictable labor practices, the undocumented Latina maids at Trump’s Bedminster golf club complained of having to continually provide him with fresh shirts as his makeup would rub off on the collars.

“Imagine his sheets”, exclaims Stephen Colbert. “It’d be like the Shroud of Turin every morning. A miracle!”

 

Lock ’em up!

In 1832 the radical English parliamentarian, William Cobbett, made a lengthy progress on horseback around the country and declared it to have become “A land fit only for stockbrokers”. This was a reference to the growing wealth of land-grabbing rentiers and their financial advisors, at the expense of the landless poor.

Trump’s America – and by extension much of the rest of the world – is turning into a land fit only for gangster capitalists, hell-bent on cornering the global market for energy and any other saleable goods in the twilight of civilization. It’s a bit like Musk’s plans for terraforming Mars, only in reverse. It’s fast becoming an alien landscape modeled on the strange terrain inside the warped mind of one man.

Take one solipsistic sociopath, a malignant narcissist with paranoid fantasies, a Dunning-Kruger graduate summa-cum-quid-pro-quo, with added pre-dementia; an elderly, spoiled man-child with severe developmental issues and a complete lack of empathy or moral boundaries – whatever psychobabble you want to employ – make him the most powerful man in the world, and watch him go!

I’m going to have to insert a bit of backstory here, concerning Paul Manafort. This is the 70-year-old guy with the ostrich-skin jackets, Trump’s former campaign chairman (for only four months, so of course Trump hardly knew the guy) who is serving a 7-year stretch in a Federal penitentiary for a range of crimes, including tax fraud, failure to declare himself as a foreign agent and spectacularly trying to out-con the FBI.

Having worked for some of the most brutal and corrupt dictators in the world, Manafort had been operating in Ukraine for many years as a PR advisor to some of the local oligarchs, and with wealthy Russians working on Putin’s behalf to, essentially, terraform the political landscape there. One of the things he did was to help Viktor Yanukovych get elected as President.

Yanukovych’s main rival was a not-unattractive, youngish woman called Yulia Timoshenko who, thanks to her high-level family connections, had been the Prime Minister. Manafort and his sidekick Rick Gates, also facing stir time, manufactured a corruption case against her, the charges stuck and she was locked up. Yanukovych got in, and started doing what Putin wanted, which was to push Ukraine out of the orbital influences of NATO and the neighboring EU, where the younger majority of the population preferred the country to go, towards Russia.

He also started looting the coffers of the state, ultimately getting away with almost $30 billion. But in 2014 he was overthrown in a mostly peaceful revolution, escaping in a dawn convoy over the border into Russia; whereupon, claiming that fascists were taking over, Putin sent his little green men to “protect” the mainly Russian-speaking secessionist population of the eastern coalmining region of Donbass, and, of course, illegally annexed the formerly Russian province of Crimea, reversing a post-WW2 settlement.

A low-level war has been going on ever since, with, now, more than 13 thousand casualties – mainly civilians on both sides.

One of Manafort’s connections was an oligarch named Oleg Deripaska. This fabulously wealthy friend of Putin’s had cornered the entire post-Soviet market in Russia’s aluminum mining and smelting industry after a bitter struggle that ended with the unexplained murders of several of his business rivals (Wikipedia). Be that as it may, he set about cultivating well-placed global influencers. British and EU politicians alike have enjoyed the hospitality aboard his yacht in the Aegean.

In 2009, however, a Russian accountant called Sergei Magnitsky was found dead in his prison cell in Moscow, having been brutally beaten shortly before his trial. (Official cause: heart failure.)  An American financial intermediary, Bill Browder had employed Magnitsky, and was now accused of murdering him. He started campaigning for justice for the murdered man, pointing out that Magnitsky had uncovered a huge tax fraud involving people in high places, only to be arrested and held in custody on trumped-up charges. Outraged, the US Congress then passed a law, the Magnitsky Act, among whose provisions were the imposition of travel bans and freezing the finances of implicated oligarchs.

Among them was Deripaska.

Manafort also dabbled in low finance, and we gather that at some stage he must have offered to invest, or otherwise purify, about $17 million of Deripaska’s fortune via offshore tax-free vehicles he registered, that never received the money. He appears to have spent it on buying apartments in New York, and those ostrich-skin jackets. Ooops.

The “Aluminum King” then deputed one of his lieutenants, Konstantin Kilimnik, who’d been involved with Manafort in skulduggery in Ukraine, to ensure that Manafort would repay the money in kind, if not in blood. The two men set off for Michigan to begin the process of filching confidential voter data and sending it to a GRU troll farm in St Petersburg, to fuel the campaign of disruption and disinformation through which Mr Putin thought to get his useful idiot, a sort of global “bull in the china shop”, Trump, elected.

By an amazing coincidence, the three states in which they did this stuff were the very states that got Trump elected by a margin of just 77 thousand votes when the matter was decided in the Electoral College – an institution designed to level the representational playing-field between more and less populous states by, essentially, rigging elections. Without this thoroughly undemocratic jiggery-pokery, as we know, Trump would have lost on the popular scale by 2.8 million votes; nor would Dubya Bush ever have been elected.

For some reason, in July of 2016, Mr Trump – who of course did not know Mr Manafort – fired his campaign chairman, the vapid little Trumpsucker Corey Lewandowski*, and installed Manafort in his place.

No-one knows why, for sure. Does it look like he came clutching a reference hot from the Kremlin? Surely gnotte.

Yes, okay, he liked dictators because they were desperate to be liked, and he could make that happen in exchange for large sums of dirty money; yes, he had experience of rigging elections in Ukraine and elsewhere; yes he worked for and was profoundly obligated to a close associate of Putin’s who wanted a man on the inside to persuade Congress to lift the Magnitsky sanctions. (In December, 2018 sanctions on Deripaska were lifted, at the behest of Senate leader, “Moscow” Mitch McConnell. The grateful oligarch then offered to build an aluminum plant in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. There is naturally no suggestion of a quid pro quo, a status quo ante, a canis canem edit, a casus belli nor indeed even collusio gravis.)

Yes, being on the inside of the campaign would prove useful to all sorts of people; yes, Manafort was in a position to provide high-level Ukraine contacts to Trump, Pompeo and Giuliani, who immediately began on Inauguration Day, 2017 to start work on removing the incorruptible US Ambassador in Kyiv, Marie Yovanovych, in preparation for another, probably Manafort inspired, campaign involving oligarchs, extortion, political favors – and gas. (Because, you see, it’s all about the Energy, stoopid!)

And, yes, he’d successfully nobbled Tymoshenko with a manufactured accusation of corruption, via a corrupt state prosecutor much in the latest news of the impeachment inquiry, which is exactly what Trump set out to do to his rival candidate, Hillary Clinton, to “Lock her up!” Where did he get that idea from? Because four separate investigations, even by his own terraformed Justice and State departments, over three-and-a-half years, have found no evidence of serious malfeasance on her part.

And that’s the synchronicity!

With the help of the corrupted Republicans in Congress, up to their necks in his filthy business and unable to escape, or to wash away the stain of their association, Trump is now frantically trying to forestall his impeachment by gaslighting America into believing that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for interfering with his election, to try to get Clinton elected instead; thereby justifying the attempt he denies having made, to force the Ukrainian president Zelinskiy to produce evidence of Putin’s innocence – and to help smear his own rivals for the next election.

To achieve his aims, it was also necessary to persuade Zelenskiy’s predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, to assist in doctoring the “little black book” evidence of large payments to Manafort for his services to Yanukovych, so that Ukraine could more convincingly be made the scapegoat for the 2016 election “interference” and thus justify Trump’s bullying. Unfortunately, Poroshenko lost the election last April, so the conspirators had to start again with his successor.

That there is absolutely no possibility that this Ukraine “stolen Clinton server” scenario was ever feasible, or even likely, without means, motive or opportunity and no smoking gun; that the mass of evidence and his own past inadvertencies point straight at the Kremlin, does not occur to Trump’s excusers and enablers, nor to his cult followers in the crazy community. In Trump’s terraforned world, anything he likes can be true; every shape can be shifted.

How like the former Soviet Union is that?

The way he has gone about doing Putin’s business and bidding emerges from such stories with devastating clarity. There is no doubt whatever in my mind, nor in most anybody else’s who is following the shenanigans in Washington, that he is a compromized Russian asset. He might not even realize it, not fully – perhaps he is just struggling to find in Putin another authoritarian father figure to replace his monstrous dad, Fred, who bankrolled Donald’s failures to make tax losses while findng nothing but tragic disappointment in his younger son. Or to find another successful homosexual mobster like his old mentor, the ruthless Mafia lawyer Roy Cohn, whose alarmingly direct methods of management he strives sometimes comically to emulate.

Increasingly, through his social and political terraforming, America and the world are coming to resemble the inner landscape of Trump: the original Lost Boy. A useful allegory is provided by the current BBC adaptation of Wells’ The War of the Worlds, where starving survivors stumble through a barren, dustblown, rusty-red Martian landscape the alien invaders have been creating for themselves on planet Earth.

Most Americans now realize that the man they thought was a bit of a joke, a buffoon with no manners, taste or education; a typically brash, upwardly mobile NooYawk real estate developer who would “get things done” in managerial style, is nothing of the kind. In addition to being an inept old fraud, a third-rate “mom and pop” businessman who succeeds by actualizing his mental confusion, he’s a monster, a mythical Balog dredged from the bowels of Hell by the wishful thinking of millions of disaffected voters dying for a savior to let loose their worst, most feral instincts on an unforgiving world they long to end.

Britain, beware. Under Trump mini-me Johnson, another devious, rotten and hubristic character winning on sheer media presence, entertainment value for the bored and fraxctious masses, we are going down the same path to perdition. Not for nothing did those Martians with their terrible machines first fall to earth in Woking, Surrey; home of The Spice Girls.

As Religion fades away, Politics is becoming the opium of the masses.

*I have since watched with growing admiration as Lewandowski, supposedly a former assistant DA, put on an utterly disingenuous performance under questioning by a Congressional committee, rolllng his eyes and wriggling in his chair, unable to remember anything, but no, he never suspected the president might have been ordering him to do anything illegal, whining that as he never went to Harvard law school the questions were too difficult…. You’ll recognize the scene where the detective finds the money under the bed and the punk goes, “Gee, officer, I wonder how that got there?” It’s true, Trump does pick only the best people. Especially for bungling criminal enterprises.

 

Starve ’em?

A vox pop on Britain’s streets went viral last week as passers-by gasped in horror when, asked to guess what everyday pharmaceuticals cost in the US, that are available free on the NHS, they learned of the vast numbers of ordinary Americans bankrupted and even made homeless by the cost of uninsured medical care.

One young woman in particular was asked how much an epipen, that can save a life when someone goes into anaphylactic shock owing to an allergic reaction, costs in America, to be told it was $600. In Britain, pharmacists hand them out on free prescription. “Man”, she exclaimed. “So, if you’re poor, you’re dead!”

The elimination of poverty through economic cleansing looks like becoming the central plank of the 2020 election for Republicans. The Trump administration has just tightened the rules so that another three-quarters of a million low-income Americans are to be removed from the food stamps program. If they don’t qualify for it, their ragged-assed kids will no longer be eligible for free school meals.

Deaths will inevitably result.

The money is instead to go toward padding out the already $16 billion compensation package Trump signed last summer for farmers affected by export shortfalls and rising domestic prices created by his pointless trade war against China, that he says the US is winning but has bankrupted thousands.

But don’t imagine farmers are immune from the Republicans’ extermination policy against the working class. The bulk of the money has gone to bolstering the profits of large-scale agribusiness, mainly in the recidivist South, home of the former Confederacy, where rumbling discontent over issues like Civil Rights and Northern prosperity requires placating.

 

Or just string ’em up?

Mainstream media have been a little reluctant to report that Mr Thomas Bowers, 55, a wealthy former senior vice-president in the Wealth Management division of Deutsche Bank, was found hanged at his Malibu, Ca. home on 19 November.

Well, at least he won’t have to testify at any impeachment harings.

Inquistr reports that Bowers was the direct supervisor of a staffer called Rosemary Vrablic, who had been introduced to Trump with a recommendation from the equally indigent Jared Kushner as his “favorite banker”. Now, why was that?

“The bank’s investigation of Trump’s finances found that he reported values of his real estate assets that were too high by 70 percent in many cases.” (Something confirmed in court by Trump’s former bag man, Michael Cohen.) “Nonetheless, Vrablic and Bowers approved a $100 million loan for the president to buy the Doral Golf Resort and Spa near Miami, according to a New York Times report.”

My Gosh, I wish I’d met them sooner!

Deutsche reportedly continued to lend more than $1 billion to Trump over a ten-year period, at a time when no US bank would touch him, and despite being aware that Trump was red-flagged as a possible money-launderer. He was certainly a serial loan-defaulter – according to Mother Jones, he still owes Deutsche Bank $345 million. This period may have overlapped with a similar decade in which Trump Organization allegedly declared $100 million annual LOSSES to obtain tax benefits.

Deutsche was recently hit with an injunction to hand over their records of dealings with Trump Org. to Congress, which they have apparently done. We understand that the New York Attorney’s Office also has the records. Let’s see who’s the faster speed-reader.

Another client of Bowers/Vrablic was, we understand, his fellow suicide-by-hanging, Jeffrey Epstein.

So now, for some unaccountable reason, Mr Cohen, who had been due to give further testimony against Mr Trump – “Individual 1” – in February, is reportedly getting cold feet in the relative comfort of his cell at the medium-security Otisville, NY prison, and it ain’t becuz the heating brunk down.

As they say, everything Trump touches, dies.

 

“In 2018, 58 people were killed in crashes during Uber trips; nine people were murdered, and 3,045 people were sexually assaulted. The numbers represented a fraction — just 0.0003 percent — of Uber’s 1.3 billion rides in the U.S. last year.” – New York Times

 

Drain the swamp!

Pumpkin followers may recall, we bogld ages ago about a certain Dr Joseph Ackermann, who is connected to the Trump saga in the following way:

Dr Ackermann is the former CEO of Deutsche Bank, a global organization that has in recent years been fined billions of dollars for money-laundering – essentially, failing to check where the money has come from, that has flowed endlessly through their coffers, mainly from Russian oligarchical sources.

Dr Ackermann then went on to found Bank of Cyprus, that has also been accused of money-laundering, to the extent that some wit described it as “the global laundromat”.

The quip is quite amusing, as in the 1970s the late President Nixon, in order to hide the secret campaign funding he was getting from the Los Angeles Mafia, literally “laundered” it through a fake cleaning business created for him in Florida. (The state where Messrs Giuliani, Parnas and Frumin allegedly created a phony “gas” company, to launder funds from Ukraine into Trump re-election accounts. It’s not only swamps and alligators there.)

The two vice-chairmen of Bank of Cyprus were a sanctioned Russian oligarch, “The Fertilizer King”, Dmitry Rybolovlev, who “overpaid” $95 million for a worthless Trump property in Florida, netting Trump a $50 million windfall; and Mr Wilbur Ross, a “family consiglieri” described by the not-exactly leftish business journal, Forbes, as possibly: “One of the biggest grifters in American history”, who after almost four years of the presidency somehow remains America’s Commerce Secretary.

The Cambridge dictionary describes a grifter as: “Someone who gets money dishonestly by tricking people.” Which Mr Ross certainly appeared to have done, when Forbes had to downgrade his public estimate of his fortune from $3.5 billion to just a few hundred million. Among which was, presumably, the $120 million he’s alleged to have swindled from his former business partners.

And, look, I keep telling you, “It’s the Energy, stoopid!”

Because here, yet again, that word pops up in a report, this time from The Guardian, back in November 2017:

“Leaked documents and public filings show Ross holds a stake in a shipping company, Navigator, through a chain of offshore investments. Navigator operates a lucrative partnership with Sibur, a Russian gas company part-owned by Kirill Shamalov, the husband of Putin’s daughter Katerina Tikhonova.”

See if you can “gas” which one!

Janus

In case anyone should think that Trump is really so thin-skinned as to have been genuinely upset by Justin Trudeau’s overheard comment at the NATO summit in leafy Watford, home of the football team whose faded fortunes were turned around in the 1980s thanks to the lucrative ownership of Sir Elton John, The Pumpkin can only say, BS.

Trump never fails to rush to grab the headlines with some outrageous tweet, crass comment or cackhanded military decision when there’s something more important going on, that concerns him and his criminal tendencies. If nothing else, he’s a master self-publicist who for decades has played the “fake news” media for all he’s worth, largely because he’s never been worth all that much.

I mean, who would want the world and its wife reading about a devastating, 300-page Congressional indictment of his attempts to cover-up the true story of his murky interventions in Ukraine, listing the entirely believable testimonies of 17 witnesses – supported by a sheaf of White House call logs – to his naked acts of unpresidential thuggery, when they could be reading instead about how funny he thinks was his riposte that Trudeau is “two-faced” – an obvious reference to the scandal of the Canadian Prime Minister having years ago unimaginatively attended three student parties in blackface?

After all, does Trump not lurk behind a curiously mottled orange mask? What race, I wonder, is he trying to insult with that?

 

“Ronnie played fantastic but it’s a really big win for me.” – Ding Jinhui

Gnyaah! Stuff the apostrophe, bring back the adverb, is all I can say.

 

Dry cliffs at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe last week.

(Photo by Mike Hutchings/Reuters/Guardian, with apologies)

GW: slipslidin’ away

Indian Ocean: Yesterday, Severe-weather.eu reported on a very rare occurrence, twin tropical storms intensifying to hurricane strength in the western Indian ocean, on either side of the equator – rotating as per theory in opposite directions. Today it seems the rarity of such an event is being eclipsed as three more tropical storms are forming in the same region. One is threatening the coast of Somalia, another aiming for Madagascar and Tanzania. Those of you who recall the film, The Day After Tomorrow, may not be so impressed.

Update: One of the cyclones, Invest 93, now named Ambali, has intensified in under 24 hours from a 30 mph tropical storm to a “monster” Cat. 3 typhoon with windspeeds up to 130 mph. Some forecasts were predicting it could reach a maximum 160 mph Cat. 5 within another 18 hours. (Update update: it did! Maybe fastest-ever!) No land areas are currently in its path.

Philippines: Typhoon Kammuri has killed at least 13 people, while 345 thousand are in evacuation centers, reports Aljazeera. “Kammuri, the 20th to hit the country this year, crossed the coast on Monday night, forcing hundreds of thousands of residents to evacuate and the cancellation of hundreds of flights.” Coastal communities south of the capital have been devastated.  Kammuri had intensified from a tropical storm to a Cat. 4 hurricane in just 18 hours.

Madagascar: “Yet another potentially monster cyclone is developing in the West Indian Ocean – Tropical cyclone Belna. The system is currently packing maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and strengthening. Rapid intensification is expected to begin soon. Belna will likely reach at least a strong Cat. 3 strength, possibly even Cat. 4 late tomorrow prior to landfall in NW Madagascar on Monday 9 Dec.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Uganda: Floodlist cites, a little confusingly, Red Cross reports that at least 10 people may have died in landslides and flooding in two separate provinces; 5 in each, with a fairly large number still missing. “The tragedy hit after hours of heavy rain on 03 Dec.”

Southern Africa: By contrast to the months of flooding and landslides in northern and eastern Africa, in the south the long drought is worsening. There are reports of the mighty Zambezi river drying up, causing power outages in Zimbabwe and Zambia, which are dependent on hydropower from the Kabila dam. The famous Victoria Falls, a major tourism revenue earner, has slowed to a “disappointing” trickle. (Guardian)

New Zealand: An estimated 1,000 foreign tourists are trapped after a weekend of severe storms dumping large hail and up to 40 mm of rain per hour triggered landslides and flooding that have cut off towns in South Island. Officials say it could take months to clear access roads. Most are stuck on the west coast in the towns of Fox Glacier and Franz Josef. Some have been forced to sleep in their cars, and are said to be scared and tired. Emergency supplies are being helicoptered in. There’s a warning out for tornadoes. (From Guardian, 8 Dec.)

USA: If you’re dreaming of a White Christmas, take cover! The polar vortex has split again owing to a heat anomaly in the stratosphere and a large part is drifting southwards. “Brutally cold Arctic air will flow down into the north-central US mid-next week. Current forecast indicates that air temperature could drop as low as -25°C, in some places even down to -40°C! Over the border in Canada, temperatures will be even lower. This is an unusually strong cold air outbreak for early December.” (Severe-weather.eu) The US’s Weather Company however is not predicting such low temperatures, meanwhile there’s a “heatwave” over many states melting early snowpack, while more storms are bringing flooding and landslides to California.

Australia: Golfers “at the Australian Open have complained of stinging eyes as toxic smoke from (more than 100) bushfires around Sydney affected the opening round on Thursday. Sydney’s air quality index registered on a par with Beijing. More than 2,000 firefighters are battling the massive blazes, which escalated in intensity on Thursday evening, 6 Dec. More than 1.6 million hectares of land in NSW have been burnt already. Fires have also raged across Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania..” (edited from BBC reports)

Update: Fri 7 Dec. 5 large fires raging outside Sydney have merged into one, covering 365 thousand ha. on a 37-mile front. Fire service says the whole NSW coast is burning, mostly out of control. Reinforcements are arriving from the USA. More than 10% of the area covered by national parks has been burned, including 20% of the Blue Mountains “Gondwana rainforest” world heritage area. Worse conditions are forecast for next week. (Guardian reports)

Spain: “A storm has caused flash flooding in parts of Murcia,  prompting high water rescues and some evacuations. Emergency services said they received 534 calls for assistance, including around 30 people rescued from vehicles trapped in flood water.” (Floodlist). Up to 390 mm (15-in) rain fell in 24 hours (on La Vita), coastal Valencia being battered by 4 meter waves and 80 mph winds. Storm conditions are expected across the South of France and into northern Italy.

Ireland: Storm Atiyah is bringing 80 mph winds across the west of the British Isles on 8 Dec. as the Atlantic cyclone season swings into action. Warnings of “risk to life” have gone out in SW Britain as travel disruption and heavy seas with up to 40 ft waves are expected in the Irish Sea. (BBC/Mirror)

Tunnel approaching….

Planet: “Oxygen in the oceans is being lost at an unprecedented rate, with “dead zones” proliferating and hundreds more areas showing oxygen dangerously depleted. Sharks, tuna, marlin and other large fish species were at particular risk, with many vital ecosystems in danger of collapse.” (Guardian, citing International Union for the Conservation of Nature presentation at COP25 in Madrid). Warming oceans, acidification, agricultural runoff and overfishing are blamed.

No shit: President Trump is considering rolling back water conservation measures, which he is blaming for an increase in the number of times people flush the toilet – thus actually increasing water usage. “We’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers,” said the president, opaquely. Currently embroiled in a major constitutional crisis, Mr Trump has already revoked 85 other environmental protections, claiming they are damaging his economy. (From Guardian)

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 101: Can you hear the whistle blow?… They’ve all got it infamy… GW: Oh, the weather outside is frightening

QotW….

“… people would rather see their children die than forego the preservation and defense of their culture or religion. In places where climate chaos is already underway, we are seeing a solidification of tribalism and battle lines drawn between communities who have formerly lived together in relative harmony. These pressures are bound to increase.” – Catherine Ingram blogpost: http://www.catherineingram.com/facingextinction/

 

Michael Gove giving a thumbs-up during the British Conservative party leadership campaign

“I’m just going to see if I can get my whole thumb up my nose.”

Michael Gove appears as himself in the new production of The Phantom.

 

Can you hear the whistle blow?

It seems the entire strategy for defending Trump against impeachment charges is to discredit, or maybe murder, the whistleblower.

It seems rather odd, given that every detail of the 9-page allegation, endorsed by both the Inspector General of Intelligence and – more uncomfortably – the Acting Director of National Intelligence, that White House staffers had expressed genuine concern over the President’s mobster-like extortion phone calls to foreign leaders to obtain their connivance in fixing his re-election, in a word treason, and that they sought to bury the evidence in a Top Secret, offline Intelligence server, has been confirmed to be accurate.

And given that the White House itself, under the direction of President Trump, then put out a summary transcript of his call to the newly installed Ukrainian president that confirmed he did indeed seek foreign assistance in direct contravention of the emoluments clause of the Constitution and US Federal election law; his answer to which being, that he never said what he said he’d said, the Democrats were “savages”, the whistleblower was a “traitor”, and that what he had just admitted doing was all a plot to discredit him.

The one possibly exonerating factor being the apparent removal, if such had existed, of any direct link in the conversation between his illegal order to delay sending a Congress-approved $390 million in military aid to the Ukraine, to the benefit of his friend Putin, and his request to President Zelenskiy to do him “a favor, though” in digging for “dirt” on Democratic hopeful, Joe Biden.

(White House apologists are denying he used the word “though”, which would strongly link the threat to the demand. It is there in the transcript, though.)

Mr Putin then to some extent wiped his nose with Donald Trump, letting it be known that he would be displeased if the transcripts of his own phone calls with Trump were to escape the black hole of the intel server.

And, since the President is on public record as opining that there was nothing wrong with soliciting foreign aid and that he would welcome more, from whatever source, despite its illegality, it would seem a bit odd to try to pretend that anyone finding evidence of such a request was lying about it. It might suggest Trump himself was lying about it when he admitted it!

Update: And today (1 Oct.) it’s being reported, Trump also leaned on the Prime Ministers of Australia, Italy and Great Britain in phone calls (subsequently buried) and in sending emissaries Pompeo, Barr and Giuliani to misuse their state resources to find evidence supporting his belief that the Mueller investigation was a “hoax”; and attempting to shift the emphasis from proven Russian interference with the 2016 election to “Ukrainian interference”, a charge so ridiculous as to defy contradiction.

In the meantime, he has also demanded that House Intelligence committee chair, Adam Schiff should be arrested and charged with treason. His crime? Putting on a silly voice briefly mocking Trump while questioning Maguire, the Acting Director of Intelligence.

Trump claims that proves all the charges against him are false and that Schiff has “lied to the American people”, because Trump did not say those things – which he has already admitted he did say.

I know, double-take time.

Why does the Republican party continue to defend this sort of insolent behavior, this clear and indisputable evidence of the insanity of the man in the White House – and of his own treason?

We should understand that this troubling series of events is only one small part of a vast nexus of possibly illegal, covert or damaging actions this president has undertaken since coming to office less than three years ago, a concerted abuse of his powers, which in turn have to be set against the background of extensive criminality alleged against him and his family over the years.

Mr Trump is not an innocent party, or the victim of a “witch hunt”. He is still named as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the case of fraudulent misuse of election expenses against his former lieutenant, Michael Cohen; and in 2017, was found guilty by a New York court of operating the fraudulent scheme known as “Trump University”, a “pay-to-play” scam involving a very expensive, totally underwhelming “course” in Real Estate management, basically a 4-page leaflet, for which he was ordered to pay $25 million in costs and compensation to the victims.

Court records also show at least two prior convictions for tax offences in the 1980s. Although Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel, stopped short of indicting him, handing that responsibility over to the Congress – whose pursuit of the case has since been stymied by Trump’s threats to witnesses, ordering them to defy legal subpoenas, alleging they are covered by some non-existent Executive privilege – he produced a mass of evidence showing Trump had attempted illegally to obstruct justice many times during the inquiry into his acceptance of Russian (and probably Saudi) help in the 2016 election.

Or, as Senator Graham brazenly said on Fox yesterday: “nothing there”.

We are still awaiting, too, the outcome of some 16 separate cases before the Southern District of New York’s District Attorney, alleging bank fraud and money laundering; while serious questions remain over the possibility that Trump suborned US foreign policy to collude with Saudi Barbaria in pressuring Qatar to refinance Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner’s loss-making company; and may thereby have inadvertently assisted through the release of classified documents in the death of Jamal Kashoggi.

Some 3,500 civil suits are pending around the USA, involving the president either as litigator in chief or as defendant. This is not normal presidential behavior, and Trump’s continued, frenzied efforts to transfer blame for his own crimes and misdemeanors onto his opponents don’t make it so.

The inexplicable Lindsey Graham, cherub-faced Republican Senator for South Carolina and chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, who volubly prosecuted the impeachment of Bill Clinton on moral grounds, arguing that he was cleaning out the cesspit that was the Democratic White House, and who is on record as saying previously that Trump was wholly unsuitable to be president, is leading the defense.

He seems to blow hot and cold over the actions of this, the most wayward of US presidents, whose record on morality makes Clinton look like St Francis. Some actions and statements he seems to criticize; others, even worse, he stoutly defends. It’s hard to know where he stands on any issue, but in this case he was overheard on a plane, loudly discussing strategy down the phone with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The whistleblower, he says, is not credible, because the information on which he blew the whistle was “hearsay”, having come at secondhand from anonymous sources. (It now appears that Secretary of State, Pompeo was invited in on the Zelezniy call.)

Verifiably, palpably true, almost certainly illegal, definitely damaging to national security and the interests of the United States, a clear misdemeanor abuse of powers – but “hearsay” and hence, non-evidential. As if the crime and the accusation are two entirely separate matters.

Mr Trump has already attacked those who expressed their concerns to the whistleblower, apparently a member of the intelligence community, as “spies” and “traitors”; adding with a tone of menace that “we used to have different ways, better ways” of dealing with such people. A remark he shrugged off as an example of his curious sense of humor.

It’s not the first time he has suggested executing his political opponents: we recall his thinly veiled red-meat exhortation to the “2nd Amendment people”, i.e. rabid gun fanciers, to assassinate Hillary Clinton. We recall, too, his warning that his supporters were a well-armed militia, he had the police and military in his pocket and they would take necessary action if he did not get his way.

ABC News has amassed a file of 36 instances in which Mr Trump’s aggressive or menacing statements and his apparent support for rightwing extremist elements have been followed shortly afterwards by acts of violence against minorities.

Coincidentally I’m sure, here in the UK Prime Minister Johnson is also being accused of threatening to unleash mob violence unless he gets what he wants over the Brexit deal. Were that to happen, it’s being rumored that he would consider locking the country down under the Emergency Powers Act. He’s dismissed the suggestion as fanciful.

He created a furore last week when he appeared to minimize the significance of the murder of a Labour politician in 2016; and had to defend himself against a barrage of criticism over his use of bellicose language, which he initially did by doubling-down on it, calling his critics “traitors” and labelling Opposition moves to force him to make a deal as “surrender” to the EU.

He has also uttered words of defiance against the Supreme Court, that judged his shutdown of Parliament illegal, claiming the 11 senior law lords were legally “wrong”; and encouraged a new campaign of vitriol against the judges in the hard Brexit-supporting rightwing media.

Johnson, who recently deserted his wife of 24 years while she was undergoing radical treatment for ovarian cancer*, and has taken up with a vivacious party worker twenty-some years younger, who he has (in my rather elderly view, scandalously) moved into the upstairs apartments at 10, Downing Street, further demeaning his office, is also increasingly embroiled in his own scandal involving payments from public funds and favors (and “regular visits”) to a blonde former model, implying possible abuses of office and conflict of interest when Mayor of London. (He has since said she was “too boring” to have an affair with! You can tell, he’s a real toff.)

I wasn’t aware that Trump had published a playbook, “Popular Fascism for Dummies”. Perhaps they’ve both been reading Mein Kampf together. Advised by malevolent, shadowy rogues, both men having previously been metropolitan liberals have committed themselves similarly to the path of popular anarchy in the (hopefully mistaken) belief that the best and the quickest road to absolute power is through the brutish “will of the people”, regardless of who gets hurt.

They need to be stopped.

*I’m slightly surprised not to have seen any of the Guardian‘s usually strident feminist columnists mentioning that ovarian cancer is known to be caused, among other things, by the sexually transmissible Human Papilloma virus, which is carried by men.

Addendum

As it happens, the whole sordid Ukraine affair may have been entirely unnecessary. Mr Biden’s poll numbers are fast slipping behind those of the didactic Senator from Massachusetts and former Harvard lawschool perfesser, Elizabeth Warren.

Bullish and shifty: Boris Johnson on The Andrew Marr Show.

“With this thumb, Mr Marr, and a well-filled nostril, I can remove £350 million worth of snot a week. And if not, I will declare bogey law.”

 

They’ve all got it infamy

“Look at me, Ma, I’m flying!”

Added to the catalog of Trump’s psychological problems, paranoia is a word increasingly heard on liberal media as his ongoing tweetstorm in response to the announcement of Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry reaches new levels of, frankly, foaming insanity.

He is demanding to meet the whistleblower in person, who is reportedly in hiding under federal protection as Trump’s hardier dumbfucks have been posting death threats and have offered a $50 thousand reward for a name and address. It is his “right” as a freeborn American to meet his accuser! Yes, in court, possibly.

Whistleblowers in government are in theory protected by the law, and this one went through all the appropriate official channels. Trump wants him dead.

Trump has quoted a Fox news contributor who suggested that impeachment of the President would result in a “civil war-like fracture” in the nation “that will never be healed”, Trump adding that he would NEVER be removed from office.

This is not the first time he has covertly incited his followers to violence, and already far-right groups are calling for an armed insurrection.

The whistleblower’s report has been fully corroborated, in part by the “memo” that came from the White House under Trump’s own orders, in which he is clearly seen to have illegally demanded dirt on the Bidens as a quid pro quo for arms exports to Ukraine.

Trump is now lying that the whistleblower and his treasonous staffers have made it all up, what he said, and they are part of a Democrat-controlled Deep State conspiracy to overthrow him. He continues to double-down on his belief that Joe Biden and his son acted corruptly, without a shred of evidence. Indeed, the prosecutor at the center of the Ukraine case has said they broke no laws.

(Will Trump have anything to say about Republican Representative, Chris Collins, “the first member of the House to back Donald Trump for president”, who has just resigned his seat ahead of a court hearing into corruption charges to which he is pleading guilty? “Collins was indicted in August 2018, accused of using inside information about a biotechnology company to help his son make illicit stock trades”. – CBS News)

Trump has made other, thinly veiled threats to have the whistleblower and their informants murdered, a threat he has now extended to Democratic Congressmen Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler and Elijah Cummings, the committee chairmen investigating him, who he has described as “savages” and “traitors”.

And he has sent out a very small platoon of his closest remaining advisors to lie repeatedly to the media about what is there in black and white for all to read – not that his Republican party apologists have read it, on their own admission – on his own transcript, so clearly that even Fox News interviewers are unable to spin this and are now being included in his wider conspiracy theory.

The ending of the film, The Third Man, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, seems peculiarly prophetic, as the cynical American black-marketeer Harry Lime (Orson Welles) gets his just desserts after a desperate attempt to escape justice through the reeking sewers of ruined, postwar Vienna.

As he dodges this way and that, his every exit blocked, the sociopathic racketeer previously so self-admiringly full of his own importance increasingly resembles a cornered rat.

Or perhaps we recall smalltime gangster James Cagney in Little Caesar, trapped by the Feds atop the water tower, with no way out but down: “Look at me, Ma, I’m flying!”

 

How are the mighty mighty

It’s time we stood up against these triumphal “progresses” by US Presidents and their absurdly huge entourages.

Why should these overmighty satraps, elected for a brief space, be allowed to swan about the world, demanding obeisance wherever they go?

Seriously, who the fuck do they think they are? Could a US president not occasionally express a little humility, or show some sympathetic good manners towards their hosts, instead of riding roughshod over every other political leader on the planet?

Details have emerged, concerning a two-day visit to Ireland for a meeting with PM, Leo Varadkar, of Trump – the most egregiously boastful, pompous and expensive of all American presidents.

Ireland is a relatively small country, that has had economic problems in the past but is now, we trust, over the hump.

Why, therefore, were they forced to detail over three thousand, two hundred police working overtime to guard the presidential panoply at a cost of €7.5 million? What did they imagine was going to happen to him, that we don’t all devoutly wish for?

Why couldn’t he have stayed at an official residence in Dublin, say the US embassy, instead of patronising his own business over 100 miles away… er, right, no need to answer that.

Because why did Trump’s tacky golf resort at Doonbeg (Room: €220 a night), where he stayed, send the Irish government a bill for €113,000 just for feeding his own security entourage for two nights? Money, the profit margin of which ends up in Trump’s pocket?

This is disgusting.

Even when travelling about the USA, mostly to his own leisure resorts, Trump incurs huge costs, that are passed on to the taxpayer or to the local authorities, whose pleas for reimbursement are not being met.

It’s alleged that the cumulative total cost of Trump’s golf habit alone is approaching $150 million. And we note that a goodly proportion of that comes back to him in the form of profits from serving Cockroach Surprise in the restaurant, renting rooms and other essential facilities, such as golf carts.

If American presidents wish to swan around the world, swanking and showing off how hubristically powerful they are, let the bloated parasites pay their own goddam bills.

Fore!

Dominic Cummings.

Homelessness is on the increase under the Conservatives. After pawning his gilet, Ramblin’ Dom Cummings goes to visit his friend Bannon to see if his sofa is free.

 

GW: Oh, the weather outside is frightening

British Isles: “In a remarkable burst of rapid intensification,” Wunderground reports, “Hurricane Lorenzo vaulted to Category 5 status late Saturday, becoming the Atlantic’s second Cat 5 storm of the year, the strongest hurricane ever observed so far east in the Atlantic, and one of the northernmost Cat 5s on record. As of 11 pm EDT Saturday (28 Sept.), Lorenzo was packing top sustained winds of 160 mph. Lorenzo’s sudden strengthening took even veteran hurricane forecasters by surprise.”

As to where this enormous brute of a storm is headed, buckle up, chaps….

Probability of sustained winds of tropical-storm strength (39 mph) along the track of Lorenzo as predicted at 0Z Sunday, September 29, 2019

And Thursday, 3 October just happens to be your Old Granny’s 70th birthday! What a treat.

Seriously, no weather forecaster expects Lorenzo to arrive at hurricane strength but it will add to days of gusty winds and, in places, heavy rain that has left surface flooding covering many parts of the country and rivers like the Wye at flood stage. The first snow of winter is forecast for the Scottish highlands later this week.

Postscriptum: Promised “two weeks of rain will fall in one hour” today, with 78 amber flood warnings, I throw a coat on over my T-shirt and take Hunzi for a precautionary stroll past the sewage works. After 20 minutes of blazing October sunshine it is 20.5C and I am perspiring heavily. The mercury hits 22.2C by 13.00 before dropping 5C in 2 hrs. as a little rain arrives. Happy days.

Europe: Letters from researchers in Geophysical Research assert that so-called “cold” days in European winters, the coldest days are on average 3C warmer than 70 years ago.

USA: North of the looping jetstream, another of those wayward Arctic plumes has descended across Canada, the Rockies and the northern states of the USA. At the time of writing snow depths in northern Montana were up to 2 feet, but another 2 feet is expected as the weekend wears on, spreading to lower elevations, with 60 mph whiteout gales – a historically life-threatening storm for September, according to Accuweather. Roads are freezing faster than they can be gritted, and there are reports of power outages and downed trees.

Meanwhile: The unseasonal heatwave affecting southeastern states is moving northward, and will bring temperatures in the mid-90sF, mid-30sC to New York – a <20F anomaly – this week.

India: “Unusually late monsoon rainfall has caused severe flooding in northern India, where over 120 people have died in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Meanwhile officials have confirmed that the death toll of last week’s flood disaster in Pune, Maharashtra, now stands at 21, with a further 5 people still missing.” (Floodlist) The Guardian reported, 27 Sept., that the monsoon season has overrun by a month, causing crops to rot in the ground and food prices to rise.

Japan: Yet another typhoon “may approach western Japan from Wednesday to Thursday, the Meteorological Agency said Sunday. Typhoon Mitag, the season’s 18th, is expected to gather strength Monday and move close to Okinawa Prefecture, the agency said, warning of possible strong winds and rough seas.” (Japan Today)

Turkey: “Heavy rains hit the northeast of the country on 28 September, causing flooding and landslides. Buildings were damaged and several roads closed after landslides and streams overflowed. 13 people trapped in buildings by floodwater were rescued.” (Floodlist)

Tunnel approaching…

Overpopulation: The leader of a popular Japanese minority party whose central policy is to close down NHK, the national broadcaster, has called for genocide to reduce the world’s population of “idiots who breed like dogs”.  Mr Takashi Tachibana suggests that discrimination and bullying are forms of divine providence. “Isn’t it good for things to be natural? The natural order God created. People killing each other is part of God’s system, too,” he says. (Japan Times) At the last election, Mr Tachibana got close to a million votes.

Divine intervention: The default for politicians preparing to do pretty much nothing to help people avoid approaching natural disasters is to offer their “thoughts and prayers”. A new US study conducted in the wake of Hurricane Florence found that while Christian participants were willing to part with money to receive thoughts and prayers from others, atheists were more willing to pay to avoid them. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, cited in The Guardian, 16 Sept.)

Moving ahead: Michael Mobbs, a former environmental lawyer who converted his Sydney, Australia terraced house into the country’s first self-sufficient, off-grid city eco-home, is selling up and moving to a remote coastal community. He fears the city is not best placed to survive the complete climate-change-induced socio-economic breakdown he foresees within the next 3 to 5 years. (Guardian Australia)

The Madness of King Donald…. Depression news, #1,#2,#3… Schools for scandal… GW: under my umbrella, ella… “Tunnel approaching”… The sheer irrelevance of political journalism – a short essay.

 

“Come November you’ll all be eating my snot. Its fingerpickin’ good!” (with apologies to Getty Images for nicking their stuff. I don’t get paid for this.)

Details of Operation Yellowhammer, the full horror story of the UK Government’s own predictions, released under duress from the Johnson Dark House (except that they were leaked in The Times two weeks ago) predict that within 24 hours of a No-Deal Brexit, there’ll be a 1.5-day-long backlog for goods to clear customs at Calais; and within another 24 hours we’ll be waiting so long that all the goods will have perished, supermarket shelves will be emptying, prices rocketing, and people reliant on insulin will have died.

Things can only get better.

 

The Madness of King Donald….

“A lot of people want the job. It’s a great job. It’s great because it’s a lot of fun to work for Donald Trump.”

Er…. yes. That was – Donald Trump speaking, in what’s become known as a “chopper talk” press gaggle on the WH lawn, posing in front of his airforce helicopter (that doesn’t work in the rain), explaining that he will have no trouble finding a replacement for John Bolton, the mad neocon armchair warmonger he hired last year as his third National Security advisor, and fired the other night as they appeared to agree on absolutely nothing and besides, he always hated that yellowing signature soup-strainer Bolton sports on his horsey upper lip, as it got him so much publicity.

Defending his attempt to rollback the phazing-out of energy-intensive tungsten lightbulbs, something we did in Europe about 20 years ago, Trump told a gathering it was because eco-friendlier low-energy bulbs “Always make me look orange”. This, in a speech to the Congressional Institute?

The guy has absolutely no self-awareness. The world is just an invention of his own diseased brain. A world through which he walks alone, troubled only by the shadows of the rest of us.

And then – this is the President who told another gathering this week that his wife Melania has a son – in wrapping up a rambling, delusionary and disorienting impromptu speech, he called Vice President Mike Pence: “Mike Pounds”, and then looked momentarily confused.

For God’s sake, Republican party, what the hell is wrong with you? You’re headed for oblivion with this demented old fraud in charge.

(Based on actual news clips satirized on The Late Show, 13 Sept.)

Thompson said: ‘I mean, I did get fired, but apart from that it was all smooth running.’

Double mammy: Al Johnson, as the PM might look in the age of color.

Depression news

Despite warnings from medical professionals and a number of deaths associated with the trials, Donald Trump has told his Health Department to order a vast quantity of a new, expensive, ketamine-based drug to be supplied to the Veterans Administration, for treating cases of PTSD in the military; where doctors have already advised, antidepressants can do more harm than good.

Are we to assume then that Trump “knows more about medicine than many doctors”, as he once met a doctor, or perhaps is it a case of another anonymous million-dollar donation quietly appearing in his re-election campaign war chest?

And make no mistake. Muh good friend, The Pumpkin is betting his jazz collection on Trump getting re-elected next year, if he has not been carted off with his arms folded in the meantime.

Just as, after ten years of vicious “austerity” warfare against the poorer two-thirds of the country, and as we head into a recession, the mendacious and incompetent Conservative government led by a bumbling and entitled unelected oaf, a careerist dilettante, a serial shagger and amateur racist who proposes to destroy the economy by dragging us in chaos out of the EU with nothing settled, and who has been branded a liar and a chancer by no less than former PM, David Cameron; the party selling places in the lifeboats for the rich while the rest of us drown in a sea of bubbling-hot shit, has a 12 per cent lead in the public opinion polls.

On both sides of the Atlantic, populist lunacy reigns.

 

“More than 60% of US adults hold at least one “new age” belief, such as placing faith in astrology or the power of psychics, and 42% think spiritual energy can be located in physical objects such as crystals” – Guardian report. The International Labor Organization estimates about 85,000 children work in Madagascar’s unregulated crystal mines, for the benefit of cretins like Gwyneth Paltrow and her tribe of emaciated airheads.

Depression News #2

It’s an ill-wind… “Shares in oil companies have jumped this morning, following the jump in crude prices.” (Guardian, jumping twice). Oil companies and armaments manufacturers are giving off the only signs that we’re not heading into a global recession, accompanied by a mooted US-led retaliatory strike on Iranian refineries, as all other market indices were showing red this morning.

If you were hoping to avoid a 5p rise in the unleaded price at the pumps today, you’re probably too late – althugh Trump is pumping ever harder. Aramco is now predicting it may take months to get back to full production after the drone strikes on the Abqaiq processing facility, which have interdicted half of Saudi Barbaria’s refinery output – 5% of the world’s oil supply.

Strikes for which the US has now managed to cobble together enough “intel” to suggest must have come from Iran or its proxies in Iraq, rather than from the Yemeni rebels who have claimed them.

Pundits now fear rising oil prices could be just the thing to kick off a global recession; while US banks – free once again to trade in dodgy debt-swaps with shareholder immunity risking only their depositors’ savings – could be even more just the thing to trigger another 2007-style lending crisis and a consequent depression, from which there might be no escape this time. The ECB and the Fed have already got the printing presses smoking hot and interest rates set below zero, but will it be enough?

Buckle up.

I keep saying that, don’t I? Yawn.

 

Depression News #3: “We can’t be sure…” etc.

“…if anything is masked by dimming, it’s the BBC”.

In an online story today, the good ole BBC carries a series of interviews with climate scientists including former UK chief scientist, David King.

All of them admit straight away, they’re scared. It’s all getting out of hand. Extreme weather events are coming thick and fast. They’re becoming more extreme, at an unpredicted rate.

But… we can’t be sure that any one event is linked to climate change!

Why does the BBC keep on parroting this sanitizing mantra? What actual relevance does making individual connections have, when joining the dots is scaring the pants off the people who know?

“Dr Friederike Otto from Oxford University is an expert in the attribution of extreme events to climate change. (So’s your Old Gran. It just comes natural, like…) She told us that in a pre-climate change world, a heatwave like this (France, June and July 2019, 46 and 43 deg. C) might strike once in 1,000 years. ‘In a post-warming world, the heatwave was a one-in-a-100 year phenomenon.’ (I know, that’s twice in one year! and they had Lucifer in 2017, and another one last year, 15 thousand heat deaths in 2003. But carry on, Dr Expert.) ‘In other words, natural variability is amplifying human-induced climate heating. (No, it’s the other way around!) With European heatwaves, we have realised that climate change is a total game-changer,’ she said.” Indeed. Good experting there, Dr Otto. I’m sure you know, it’s not a game.

But…  “it was impossible to be sure that the slow progress of Dorian was caused by climate change”. Oh, really? We know what the meteorological mechanisms are for the slowing forward progress, the more rapid intensification and increasing moisture-content of hurricanes. And it’s not just Dorian, it’s pretty well all of them now. Harvey? Florence? Michael? Idai? Kenneth? The Terrible Twins, Lekima and Krosa?

The Terrible Twins: Lekima and Krosa.

We know the climate is warming. And we know that all weather events are (and were always) the product of Earth’s climate.

Where’s the difficulty then in assuming that events that are more unusual and more extreme and more frequent than the norm are the obvious products of a changing climate – an overheating world?

Oh, but, says the top UN climate science guy, we don’t want to frighten the children!

Why the fuck do you think the children are striking and marching and demonstrating? It’s because they’re trying to frighten you! Why not listen to them?

And do stop telling us the world has warmed by “1 degree”! When you start from pre-industrial 1750 rather than 1880 you’re looking at 1.85 degrees already. Adjusting other variables as the scientists at Arctic News have been doing (admittedly controversially) brings us to nearer 3 degrees, but masked by the aerosol effect known as “global dimming” we can go on pretending if you like.

Your Old Gran has made the point many times before: if anything is masked by dimming, it’s the BBC.

 

“Two climate crisis protesters who removed Emmanuel Macron’s portrait from an official building were justified in doing so because of the severity of the environmental emergency, a judge has said. ​The ​judge in Lyon acquitted the pair of theft in a ruling hailed as historic by campaigners.” (Guardian)

And we want to leave the European Union?

Schools for scandal

“Each time a school becomes an academy the council must hand over the title deeds for the school if it has them (avg value £5m per school). As over 2,000 schools have been forced to become academies that is £10 billion (min) state assets (of which) Michael Gove has demanded the title deeds be handed to him.”

Legal fees involved in this incredible scam, uncovered five years ago by Michael Rosen, the “Childrens’ Laureate” at the time, amounted to another £50 million – all funded by the taxpayer.

Rosen’s attempts in 2014 to discover who now owned the title deeds make for even more shocking reading: a FOI request backed, in the face of unlawful prevarication, by a court order eventually revealed, there were no paper records or any form of traceable audit of the transfers of £10 billion in titles to formerly public buildings and land to the governors of the new schools, many of them Conservative party notables.

Gove, he adds, secretly set up a private company to process the deeds. But the money itself could not be traced. He later changed the law so that academies – unlike every other charity in the land – don’t have to publish accounts. Anyone “associated with the school” can now own the deeds, and even trade or sell them on; while the Government funds the payment of extortionate rents on the school properties to the new private “owners”.

The deeds have, in effect, been converted to a traded bond currency with no IFA oversight: “dark money”. While the “shareholders” of these new private school companies are indemnified at the public expense. THese are valuable public assets that have in effect been stolen by the state, and the money redistributed to private individuals.

Thus much of the money has ended up invested in offshore tax shelters and has been denied to the rest of our crumbling education system. As indeed, the schools were formerly in local authority ownership; while, as we know, local services – libraries, social care, housing, children’s services, “meals-on-wheels”, policing – pothole filling – have all been slashed to the marrow, thanks to the austerity measures imposed on us by this sickening bunch of rentier prostitutes, the Conservative party and its successive, failed governments.

Why this scandal is not better known, why the public has not burned down Parliament, I do not know. It is exactly the same system as was exploited by Vladimir Putin to vastly enrich his coterie of thuggish “oligarchs” in the new Russia, through the supra-legal disposals of holdings in formerly public companies; making himself probably the richest man in the world in the process. (He is believed to be worth twice as much as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.)

I learned about the scandal only today, from a link provided in a Comment on a Guardian piece reminding us how terrible Gove was as Education Secretary: principally, as evidenced by his cynical removal of classes covering civics, politics, contemporary history – and any mention of the EU – from the national curriculum, thus possibly explaining why there is so little resistance to Tory propaganda; so little interest in politics, or the EU, that the people can be easily bullied and manipulated into voting 180 degrees against their own interest.

It turns out, therefore, that in addition to being a duplicitous little shit, Gove is also very probably a criminal.

Would somebody please move for the arrest and trial of this mendacious little pox-doctor, on charges of conspiracy to defraud the public purse, and of misconduct while in office? Throw open the windows and let a little light and air in on his furtive activities? Whatever else by way of treacherous deception he might have engineered while nobody was looking?

And please Sir, can we have our education system back? No Tory government should be allowed within a mile of the school gates, they’re nothing but a bunch of economic perverts and ignorance pushers.

Thanks.

http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/gove-nicked-our-schools-and-handed-them.html

 

GW: under my umbrella, ella

Parts of eastern Spain received what in some places was their heaviest rainfall on record on Thursday, 12 Sept., with severe flash-flooding, as storms wreaked (wrought?) widespread destruction and killed at least 4 people. The regional emergency service said a 51-year-old woman and her 61-year-old brother had been found dead in an overturned car in Caudete. 2 other motorists drowned in Almeria and Granada. The town of Ontinyent in Valencia had recorded more than 400mm (16-in.) rainfall by Thursday afternoon. The Clariano river rose 9 meters (30ft) in 2 hours. Regional airports were closed. (Guardian)

Bahamas: Tropical storm warnings have been issued for the northwestern Bahamas, including Grand Bahama Island. Disturbance 95L became Potential Tropical Cyclone 9 on Thursday afternoon and follows Cat. 5 Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the northern Bahamas last week (1,300 still recorded as missing.) If this system were to become a tropical storm, it would be called Humberto. As of 2 a.m. EDT Friday (13 Sept.), the center of the system was about 210 miles southeast of Great Abaco Island with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. and potential to bring 300mm (15-in.) of rain (Accuweather) Behind it, a second disturbance has formed a disorganized system moving westwards out of the Cape Verde islands towards the Lesser Antilles, and stands a good chance of developing, monitors report.

Monday update: Strengthening hurricane, Humberto brushed by the Bahamas and then took a huge swing northeastwards, away from the Americas and out into the Atlantic. Bermuda is on standby. Watch out Portugal, or us, next week.

Brazil: Coffee lovers should consider stocking up on beans. Accuweather reports on market jitters, as: “the key coffee-growing region of Minas Gerais in Brazil has not had significant rain in three months. Average temperatures have been a whopping 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, and average precipitation has been 57% below normal since June 1.” No rain is in the forecast for the next three weeks.

USA: As powerful storms continue to batter the Midwest, September 2018 to August 2019 was again the wettest 12-month stretch on record for the contiguous United States as a whole. March and July were the only months that were slightly drier than average, but still maintained the year-on-year record. The top five wettest Jan-Aug periods have all occurred since 1979. (Wunderground, from where the NOAA graph below, showing rapid intensification, is also taken.)

Precipitation totals for 12-month spans from September to the following August, going back to 1895

The floppy jetstream is once again plunging southwards, as far as southern California – 100F degree temperatures around Sacramento are likely to be in the 60s by early this week, a new storm system is moving in and there’s a snow forecast for higher elevations. Tropical Storm Humberto has triggered storm warnings for Florida’s east coast. (Accuweather) Behind Humberto, “Imelda” (as yet only an unnamed depression) is forming off the Cape Verde islands.

Accuweather reports, Monday 16th: “Residents (in South Dakota) are facing record-breaking flooding as the Big Sioux River continues to rise. The National Weather Service said recently, that almost a foot of rain fell near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, over the course of two days. Multiple rivers and creeks surpassed previous water level records.”

Arctic: Prof. Beckwith’s latest podcast causes some puzzlement. While it’s clear from satellite scans that practically all the multi-year thick ice north of 60 deg. is gone, and there are still millions of square km of clear water around the outer edges of the ocean that weren’t there in Augusts past, it appears that the overall extent of sea ice that had been falling all summer in line with 2012’s record collapse had begun by mid-August to level off; although it’s thin and mushy. Despite record air temperatures, as the sun’s obliquity grows with the onset of winter, surface melting appeared to slow down early, although sub-surface melting continues for some weeks after, as the water beneath remains warm. No-one is quite sure why: aerosol masking from fires is one theory, fresh meltwater from Greenland another. So it looks like we won’t be getting the dreaded “blue water” event this year; but we’re still skating on thin ice.

UK – Wales: A Google search reveals the factoid that the average daily September temperature in the UK is 16.8C, with an average high of 18C. Happily then, in the shade of the enormous Photinia in my front garden, we hit 23.2 degrees at about 2 p.m. this fine, sunny – if still somewhat hazy – afternoon (13 Sept.); and 23.5 the next day. Truly, these are the Fortunate Isles!

World’s largest permafrost river, the Lena at Yakutsk dries to a record low, preventing winter supplies reaching outlying settlements. (Siberian Times)

Tunnel approaching….

“40% of the UK’s food is imported,” notes a parliamentary report. In the very near future, the Environmental Audit Committee says, “people would be at risk from sudden lurches in food prices if a no-deal Brexit resulted in trouble with imports, including higher costs, delays and shortages. Beyond the immediate effects of Brexit, the climate emergency and changing trade relationships may put the British diet in jeopardy.” The committee has called for urgent action to improve resilience, including water rationing, greater diversity in farming and a campaign against food waste.

Mary Creagh, the chair of the committee, said: “We are facing a food security crisis.”

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/17/uk-fresh-food-imports-areas-at-risk-climate-crisis-mps-warn

Meanwhile, the Department for Farming and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, has confirmed we are expecting the first case of African Swine Fever in Britain “within 12 months”. It’s already prevalent in eastern Europe. China has had to slaughter over a million pigs already and has dropped its tariffs against US pork producers to guarantee supply. China consumes half the world’s production, but the country expects to have to cull another 250 million pigs to try to contain the outbreak of what is being described as potentially the world’s worst ever animal disease pandemic. World prices are rising.

…a short essay

“Denialism comes riding on My Little Pony.”

The sheer irrelevance of political journalism

I keep abandoning halfway through, long, thoughtful, worried articles in the kind of liberal press I tend to read, giving tendentious political analysis – Brexit, the Farage party, Johnson, Cummings, shutting down Parliament, whither democracy and the political system?, civil discourse, globalism, Orban, Salvini, street violence, treason, hedge funds, Nazis, Twitter rants, Trump’s chaotic foreign policy, left, right – the rule of law.

Not one of them betrays the slightest awareness of the parallel climate crisis that is hurling itself upon us with ever-increasing velocity, violence – and expense. Not one appears to be aware that an extinction event is already far advanced, of mammalian species, that unfortunately now includes the human race; and that this is a political, as well as a scientific and geophysical conundrum: not, can we now prevent?, but how are we going to manage our own extinction?

Not one journalist seems to understand the connection: that, whatever political systems are in place five years from now, our “leaders” will have to grapple with issues humanity has not had to face in the last 13 thousand years, at least since the cosmic collision event that extincted the northern megafauna – and nearly us too; nor are the “leaders” seemingly capable of factoring those issues into their self-obsessed, narrow-minded, anachronistic ideologies.

It is as if politics and the environment are entirely separate issues proceeding on parallel tracks, with a high wall between.

The author and New York Times contributor, Jonathan Franzen – an expert amateur ornithologist, by the way, who travels the world in search of rare birds, has written a polemic in which he concludes, there is no way out of the situation we have gotten ourselves into.

And a silly little girl claiming to be a “climate scientist”, Kate Marvel writes a reply in the Scientific American, telling Franzen to “shut up”.

After several paragraphs describing the situation exactly as it is: fossil fuel overdependency, feedbacks kicking in, non-linear warming, ice vanishing, levels of CO2 in the amosphere unknown during the 2 million years humans have existed, environmental degradation, etcetera, etcetera, she writes – believe it or not: “I am a scientist, which means I believe in miracles.”

It is gobsmacking stuff. Denialism comes riding on My Little Pony.

That’s the childish, panic-stricken, self-censoring level to which – I won’t call it a debate – scientific discourse has sunk. Franzen’s view is soundly supported by numerous serious scientists, many of whom are being “shut up” by the vested interests for whom truth is an elastic polymer. None, so far as I know, is offering us a “miracle”.

Even where mainstream media journalists do crossover from their political navel-gazing into quasi-scientific environmentalism, not one seems fully apprised of the depth of the hot shit we are now swimming in, or prepared to peer into the abyss. Twelve years, according to the IPCC? Don’t be so fucking naive, we were given 12 years by the UN in 1989!

I could name you all, you sober and sensible political journalists with your furrowed concern for the future of democracy, but why bother? You know who you are. Just wake up and look around, you self-absorbed, incurious boobies.

The totalitarianism and exclusionary nativism you see rising all around us are the direct consequence of a universal but unspoken consciousness that we are fast approaching the end time. We face a fascist-style, dictatorial future, only because kleptocratic authoritarianism is the natural political response to looming dystopian chaos, the collapse of the civilized postwar consensus in which some – for a time – will win, and the rest of us will unfortunately be left to perish.

Populist totalitarianism and exclusionary nativism are – literally – the zeitgeist.

Is it the answer you want?

Then try asking the question. Earn your money.

And now I’ll shut up.

#grinder… The Irish border question: What is an Irish border?… The Madness of King Donald… Music, history… GW: The weather here has been as nice as it can be

Hi, welcome back, me.

#grinder

Yes, I had a good time, thanks. Glorious weather after the first day, and a memorable meal at a busy Michelin-starred restaurant on the divine banks of the Loire. Chef/patron emerges: “Smell zis Caledonian peppair!” He’d personally gone to New Caledonia in search of an especially fragrant pepper to put in his little battery-powered machine and brought it all the way to our table to let us poor departing Brits (and one London-based American) smell it. That’s what it takes to get one star.

For a whole day since returning, despite another gruelling all-day train journey with improbably explained delays, during which I managed to wet myself when the valve failed on my leg bag while I was falling in love with the stunning blonde passenger sitting opposite, in tiny denim shorts, and ended up instead chatting helplessly with a dyslexic theoretical physicist about string-theory, as you do on our local sprinter train, a guy with several PhDs, I have a cautious and totally misdirected sense of jaunty optimism.

Fuck it, I thought. I am the Chosen One.

We should all maybe tell ourselves that more often.

Photo: Reuters

President Donald Trump with the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and others in the background

“He who smelt it, dealt it!”

 

“It’s as certain as night follows day that in the event of a referendum the entire cabinet would agree in a heartbeat to restoring Irish unity, which would solve the problem at a stroke.”

As Johnson descends on louche old Biarritz for another pointless G7 meeting to be hijacked by Trump, his abusive tweets, his capricious nonsense and his insatiable neediness, we look at….

The Irish border question: What is an Irish border?

Technology exists to track your movements and mine. Do not imagine that someone, somewhere, with the right authorization, could not, if tipped off to certain worrying keywords, or simply because you bought some branded product, log-in to a system that is tracking your every movement, purchase and utterance; and, with access to 5G, will soon know to the nearest half-meter where you are standing or lying, robbing a bank or screwing your boss’s wife.

They are already doing it. You think your stuff is Off? It ain’t. Unless it’s dead (or you are) it’s still transmitting.

So, imagine you have a truck full of shivering sheep, baa’ing piteously on their way to meet the Inevitable. (Again.) Ahead of you is a separation between one customs tax regime and another. They levy different tariffs. Some official clearly needs to know that you have trucked your terrified sheep across this border, which has no physical barrier, but which divides a higher-priced region from a lower, thus attracting people who will profit by bending the rules.

He or she will need to register that you have transhipped 135 sheep from one jurisdiction to the other, in order for more officials to send the producer and the retailer their bill and claim the tax – plus VAT – for the Government. Assuming, that is, that your sheep have not been diverted into a quiet field somewhere.

Such a barrier would naturally encourage producers on one side to smuggle their sheep across to buyers at night, and buyers to move them on at low cost into a higher-priced retail and consumer market, pocketing the difference. Bad men with guns would exploit the higher price on one side, and be prepared to shoot when questioned; or when they think someone is telling on them; or, more pertinently, competing with them. I’m pretty sure they’re digging the auld Armalites out of their rural hideyholes as I write. There’s nothing the rural Irish like more than a good ambush.

The activities of these gangsters are masked beneath centuries of political, alcoholic and religious pieties, justifying their murderous ways. Their largely bogus “movements” have in the past set off bombs callously killing non-combatants, and even conducted two wars to retain their opportunities for profit. It’s called smuggling, and wherever it happens it’s a murderous business.

And then, imagine that the complicated geography of the region means that, in order to get from a low-tax regime to the higher one, goods have to pass through the higher tax regime from the lower, and then back into the lower and on to the higher.

Who the hell is going to keep track of that?

Packed on trucks, the goods leave the freedom of one set of customs taxes and standards, to pass through a different jurisdiction, the UK, with different customs taxes and standards, in order to enter once again the former jurisdiction, the Irish Republic; and then, possibly reprocessed (unless they are to divert hundreds of expensive miles northwards through the UK to Scotland) have to pass once more across this barrier, the border, to enter the UK once again. The process, of course, having attracted more tax liabilities.

I’m sorry, there are those who think this is a good idea, but I don’t. And I’ll happily kill you over it, when the gloves finally come off, because you deserve it. You’re a bunch of fucking ignorant, selfish, disinterested, determined klutzes who haven’t been paying attention, and in your infinite laziness you believe anything you’re told by bad people you think are on your side because they sell you pictures of very young women with big naked tits just like your mum’s.

And there we come on to people. People living or working on either side of this putative border will have different rights and degrees of citizenship. No barriers separate the people south of the border from the people east of the bigger island that separates them physically by water from the other jurisdiction to which they belong. But the borders between the continent and the smaller island to the west, and to the north of an arbitrary line drawn across the island in 1926, now create differential rights, rules, loyalties and responsibilities of citizens in the south from those in the north.

A major part of the decision by a very small majority of UK citizens to leave the EU related to their objection to the principle within the EU that people should have an automatic right to live and work in any member state. As soon as several poorer East European countries with quite alien cultures joined the union, voters saw a potential threat and panicked. In future, however, anyone will be able to get in over the new, invisible Irish border. The assinine slogan, “Take back control of our borders”, will be turned on its head. Fucking eejuts.

Their vote will substantially reduce the existing right of all EU citizens, however “acceptable”, to live and work in the UK, unless they meet stricter criteria, possibly than less qualified people from other countries the UK will be forced to make its own trade agreements with. But if there are no border controls between the south and the north of the island of Ireland, and the south is in the EU and the north isn’t, then the movements of people will need to be carefully monitored too.

I’m sorry this is all so boring. Blame the Leavers.

After all, I have just popped over to France for a week, and been biometrically analysed three times and presented my passport three times going out, and twice coming back, after enduring a lengthy spell in a restive queue, and the UK is still in the EU….

Lost control of our borders? How, exactly?

(If we have, I’m sure the lowering pairs of thuggish-looking Border Force goons hanging around every corridor and hall in their black uniforms with arms folded menacingly would soon reimpose it. Is Britain the only country that greets its visitors with Force? Every time I come home I feel sickened by this fucking country.)

Unless another delay is granted while British politicians pass their one greedy little brain cell around the table to try to find a ‘unicorn’ solution to what is a totally impractical geographical problem, by leaving the European Union without agreeing to open borders for customs tax and immigration purposes, in other words by retaining the existing regime but with even fewer controls and no say in what happens, the United Kingdom cannot remain united.

is this what these fuckwits wanted?

I do not imagine for one second that the fish porters of Sunderland and the demented Empire Loyalists of Tunbridge Wells thought about this problem for one second before seizing the opportunity to leave the European Union, an institution of which they were and remain entirely ignorant, other than suspecting it to be run by a cabal of garlic-munching foreigners bent on removing our hallowed right to behave as badly as we like..

It’s certain as night follows day that the entire cabinet would agree in a heartbeat to restoring Irish unity, which would solve the problem at a stroke.

Of excellent landscape value, and producing very good beef, nevertheless Northern Ireland is an ungovernable province. It hasn’t had its assembly government working for close on three years now, since the Catholic Sinn Fein party walked out on the pretext that the Protestant Ulster Unionist parties were blocking moves to institute an official dual-language policy (English-Irish, which practically nobody speaks) and other, frankly symbolic, issues, such as on which days of the week could the British Union flag be flown over Belfast city hall.

You might conclude, as most people do, that the Northern Irish are among the most stubbornly divided, batshit crazy people on earth.

Despite that, the British government has shown no inclination to revert to the old centralized rule from Westminster, while the terms of the Good Friday agreement that ended a vicious 30-year civil war never anticipated this rift known as Brexit and rather relied on not having to sort out the border issue all over again, removing, as it did, the border. Which is 300 miles long.

So, what could technology do?

Well, every sheep has its own “passport”. A sort of “baa-code”. All farm animals, every cow, pig, sheep or horse, have had to have individual numbered documentation tracking their progress from birth and vaccinations through to every movement off-farm and transhipment to slaughter, as part of the total traceability of foodstuffs imposed through the European Union since the late 1990s and the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE), that still has to kill many thousands of people who ate contaminated beefburgers at the time. (The gestation period is up to 50 years.)

One suspects Mr Johnson and several older members of the cabinet may well be coming down with it. (We are also waiting cynically for John Selwyn Gummer’s daughter, to whom as Agriculture Minister he force-fed burgers to prove they were fit for consumption, to succumb. Sorry, I just loathe Tories. I expect she does, too.)

So it is perfectly possible using GPS in combination with 5G, using implants, to track the movements of every member of the doomed livestock community, that we should not be eating for the planet’s sake, but which we could nevertheless tax to our hearts’ content, knowing exactly where they have been and when throughout their too-short lives.

Then, were I to walk out of my local supermarket with any inanimate object valued by the retailer at more than a couple of quid and bearing some kind of transponder, klaxons would sound and the large security man would pounce on me to demand restitution or, more probably, my imprisonment.

If it can be done cheaply in shop doorways, surely similar tracking of goods and people across invisible boundaries is possible? It would require vast computing power to track billions of movements of goods and people via GPS, and automatically debit their bank accounts, but it can be done. The cost would initially be terrifying, but by scrapping the silly £100 billion-and-counting HS2 vanity project and ignoring our £1.3 trillion national debt, it might be done.

There are surely enough investors out there with money burning holes in their pockets to make the lucrative practise of customs control a viable business proposition.

If we really have to.

 

So, Farewell then, David Koch, 79. Net worth $51 billion. In a special tribute, Granny Weatherwax writes: “Did you take it with you, you fucking greedy, hypocritical little piece of ecocidal shit? I hope you died screaming.”

 

The madness of King Donald

Departing this weekend’s G7 in Biarritz, Trump put in an impassioned plug for holding the next one at his Doral golf resort in Florida, insisting to world leaders: “I’m not interested in money”.

According to a new report by Citizens For Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, thanks to his refusal to divest from his business interests as required in the constitution, including his golf resorts, Trump has been involved in more than 2,300 financial conflicts of interest benefitting himself since taking office.

Trump has tweeted-out his approval of a comment by a conspiracy-theory-peddling radio show host that Jews in Israel regard him as their “King”, and believe that he is “The Second Coming” of the Christ. Pundits rushed to point out that, technically, real Jews are still awaiting The First Coming. He later informed the servile gaggle of journalists on the White House lawn that he is “The Chosen One”. No-one dared to question it.

On numerous recorded occasions, President Trump has, for whatever reason, told his dumbfuck supporters and even business delegates that “five or maybe even six years, even before I thought of running for President”, he was named Michigan’s “Man of the Year”.

There is no such award. Oh, and he first announced he was thinking of running for President in 1988.

Twice in the past week Trump has asked aides for input on “his” idea of dropping thermonuclear bombs on hurricanes as they form off the African coast, to prevent them reaching the USA. The NOAA has humbly responded that it might not be such a great idea for the rest of the planet, and wouldn’t work anyway. (The average hurricane generates energy equivalent to a 10 megaton bomb every 20 minutes.)

The White House rushed to clear up a statement he made at the G7, that Melania Trump had met with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un and agrees with him, what a great guy the world’s most murderous dictator is. She never has met him. New spokesmouth, Stephanie Grisham explained, the President really meant that the First Lady just “feels like” she has got to know him well.

A photo of Melania at the G7, looking like she couldn’t wait to get her lipgloss around Justin Trudeau’s manly dick, has gone viral.

And, though it’s been widely reported, it’s worthwhile recording – lest we forget – last week, Trump proposed buying Greenland from the Danish crown. Rebuffed by Denmark’s young female PM, he went off on one, calling her “nasty” and cancelling a proposed visit to Copenhagen. Two days later, after a phone call between them, he described her as “a wonderful woman.”

In much the same vein, he flip-flopped twice in the week on tougher background checks for gun buyers and once on cutting payroll taxes to boost the economy, while at the same time asking in a notorious tweet, who is the bigger enemy of America, President Xi of China or his own appointee, Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powel? (misspelling Powell’s name). Leading economists described his tweet as “crazy”.

As Anderson Cooper commented, it’s one thing for a President to make policy reverses – another, when he doesn’t himself seem to know or care what, if anything, his own words mean, or what he has said, from one day to the next.

The wit and wisdom of Donald J Windbag:

“I think I know more about the environment than most.” (Spoken at a press conference at the G7 in Biarritz.)

 

White supremacists in Arkansas have cut down a tree planted to commemorate the Elaine massacre in 1919 of up to 800 African Americans across the state.

 

Jazz alert

Music, history.

Since returning from a full-on week trapped in an agreeable French location with a bunch of musicians – amazing professionals as well as stumbling amateurs like me – I’ve tried to avoid falling into the trap of telling myself, enough is enough, and kept listening to jazz since arriving back earlier in the evening than I had feared; despite the delay at Shrewsbury caused by a passenger claiming to have had their luggage stolen with their ticket in it.

Thus I have discovered the lovely Robert Glasper, to whom I am listening a lot.

However, last night I devoted twenty or-so minutes to watching the outstanding young Afro-British cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year award, playing the Elgar concerto at the Proms.

I have to say, emotionally engaged though he always is, and technically superb, I found the whole thing a trifle perfunctory. Perhaps because there’s nothing much more anyone can do to flog new life into this old, post-First World War nostalgia-horse, but partly also because the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra all looked supremely bored. In particular, the violinist with a ginger beard seated immediately behind the soloist, who kept rolling his eyes and pulling disdainful faces, who should be moved or sacked.

Right now, however, I am writing with one brain while riveted on YouTube by the other to a filmed 1965 Belgium tour performance by the John Coltrane quartet, music of an octane so high I am writing this on the ceiling for safety. I had not come across the video before. It is, quite simply, whatever your level of understanding of music, whatever genre and Magus you believe to hold the One True Flame, spectacular and, indeed, magisterial.

The concert – only 37 minutes survives – is performed to a packed house. Wondering in passing what Sir Edward would make of it (I imagine his patrician old head exploding, the sound reverberating ominously around the Malvern hills – although, let’s remember, he lived on well into the Jazz age – perhaps not jazz quite like this), to the accompaniment of the unbearably suspended tension of a 396-bar (okay, I haven’t counted them. It’s several minutes long), positively heroic, symphonic solo by Tyner on what is surely Coltrane’s best-ever production of “My Favorite Things”, I was moved to post this Comment underneath:

“Belgium, 1965. The year the murderous kleptocrat (and reputed cannibal) dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko finally seized power in the African nation with the worst history of white colonial brutality of all, the Belgian Congo. The true “Heart of Darkness”. Not a single black person in the audience. And yet… they’re sucking this coruscating black anger up and owning it. Funny old world.”

John Coltrane (ts, ss), McCoy Tyner (p), Jimmy Garrison (b), Elvin Jones (dr).

 

Eat your little hearts out, Trump, Putin….

In 1970, supported by the Americans, the increasingly unhinged Mobutu held an election in the DRC to consolidate his rule. The only candidate, he won with a vote of 10,131,669 to 157. (Wikipedia)

 

GW: The weather here has been as nice as it can be

Okay, I am going to mention this. During the late June heatwave in which parts of France saw record 45 deg. temperatures, it was pointed out that the new record maximum, at 5 deg. C above the old, roughly, was in itself a record increase in the record.

Announcing the hottest ever August Bank Holiday Monday in Britain, the Met Office said today, temperatures had reached 33.2C (91.8F) at Heathrow by 14:16 BST, beating the previous record of 28.2C set two years ago. (BBC)

I think we can draw from that, that summer maximum temperatures in northern Europe are running roughly 5 deg. higher now than they were only a few years ago.

Buckle up.

(And today in Boglington-on-Sea it’s 15C. Brrr.)

China: “At least 9 people have died and 35 are missing after torrential rain caused flooding, mudslides and debris flows in Sichuan province on 20 August, 2019. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated , including thousands of tourists. Roads have been blocked and bridges damaged, making access to affected areas extremely difficult. Provincial disaster authorities were using helicopters to access areas and deliver relief supplies.” (Floodlist) And: “4 people were dead with 11 others reported missing after multiple mudslides hit Wenchuan County, SW China’s Sichuan Province” (citing People’s Daily).

Wunderground adds: “Severe flooding and landslides have killed more than 200 people within two months across China. More than 60 people are missing, and about 1.3 million people were displaced.”

Philippines: 2 people have died in landslides and floods in the Philippines, where Laoag City is under a state of “calamity”. and 1 in Taiwan after strong winds and torrential rain brought by Tropical Storm Bailu. 9 people were injured in further weather-related incidents in southern Taiwan, where over 750mm of rain fell in 48 hours. Thousands of households were left without power and transport was severely interrupted, including dozens of flights. (Floodlist)

Laos: Northern provinces have been affected by flooding after heavy rain. (Floodlist)

Nigeria: Flooding has been reported in numerous states since around 16 Aug., leaving houses and crops destroyed and causing fatalities. Flooding has also affected some central areas of the country, including near the capital, Abuja, and in Niger State where the city of Bida recorded 86mm of rain in 24 hours to 23 Aug. (Floodlist)

A large and potentially devastating series of fires is raging in Central and parts of Southern Africa. Among the regions at risk is the Congo Basin forest, the second-largest tropical rainforest after the Amazon, mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (NYT)

Spain: “The streets of Madrid have been turned into rivers as flash-flooding and hail inundate Spain’s capital. One of the worst affected neighbourhoods was Arganda del Rey where cars were washed away in the torrents of water while huge piles of hail built up along some streets. The Spanish subway department declared several metro stations and highways closed.” (Guardian, 27 Aug. – video http://www.theguardian.com/global/video/2019/aug/27/piles-of-hail-flash-floods-and-a-tornado-hits-spain-video ) In other news, a “spectacular” and “brutal” tornado grazed the Andalucian town of Campillos, near Malaga, leaving residents and tourists shaken but unharmed. Yellow weather warnings are still in place for “torrential” rain. (Various media)

A severe storm hit the Valencia region on 20 August, 2019, causing flash flooding in parts of the provinces of Castellón, Alicante and Valencia. (Summer rainfall records tumbled.) Some areas recorded more than 40mm of rain in less than 1 hour. El Toro in Castellón recorded 41.8mm of rain in 20 minutes.” (Floodlist) The severe weather events follow another strong plume of N African heat pushing up across Europe.

Guatemala: Heavy rain has caused flooding and landslides in several departments over the last few days.

Bolivia: As fires continue to rage in Brazil, nearly a million hectares (6,200 sq miles) of farmland and unique dry forest have been destroyed by weeks of blazes across the border in Bolivia, where the flames have now reached the country’s Amazon region. Ironically, while Bolsonaro expresses contempt for threatened tribal peoples and encourages big business to destroy the Amazon rainforest, Bolivia’s President Morales, himself from a tribal background, thought he was doing the indigenous peoples of the forest a good turn by licensing them to clear more farmland. (Guardian)

Your Gran remarks, bitterly: All such squalid, greedy, pig-ignorant eco-criminals should be dragged out of their fucking palaces and hanged in the public square.

USA: The last week of August is likely to bring yet more heavy rain, lightning, big hail and flooding to the already rain-sodden Great Plains. (The Weather Channel). Lightning struck a flag-pin on a golf course in N Carolina leaving an interesting pattern of scorch marks around what locals are promoting as “God’s hole-in-one”. 6 people were injured by a lightning strike at a PGA tournament in Atlanta. Multiple homes were evacuated in Los Angeles on 25 Aug, after a wildfire started in Eagle Rock. 44 hikers were evacuated from a national park in Arizona because of lethally high temperatures. Rivers in Alaska are “too hot” for salmon to spawn, threatening the fishing industry. (Accuweather)

Floodlist reports (27 Aug.): Thunderstorms and heavy rain brought flash flooding to parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma from 24 August. Among the worst hit areas was Fort Smith, NW Arkansas, where police report that 1 person died when a vehicle was swept off a road by swift waters. Accuweather reported, the area received 8.5-in of rain in two days, 4 times the normal monthly total.

Barbados: “A tropical storm warning is in effect for Barbados in advance of Tropical Storm Dorian, a compact system that has the potential to strengthen quickly. Tropical storm watches have been hoisted for St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines. (The Weather Channel). Monday 26 Aug.: “Tropical Storm Dorian is headed toward the Windward Islands where it will bring heavy rain and strong winds later Monday into Tuesday, but has an uncertain future beyond that in the Caribbean Sea.” (The Weather Channel). An NHS forecast puts Puerto Rico in its sights as Dorian intensifies to a possible hurricane by the weekend.

UK: A new record temperature was set for the late August bank holiday weekend, with 33.3C recorded at Heathrow on 25th. It’s the second time in one day that the record has been broken after a temperature of 31.6C was recorded earlier – beating the 31.5C record set at Heathrow in 2001 (Independent). Monday is expected to go fractionally hotter still (BBC). The UK has experienced several new record highs this year. Most of eastern central and northern Europe is headed for 35C, 96F all this week, with the heat pushing up into Scandinavia by the weekend. (Severe-weather.eu)

Greece: “Hundreds of tourists were evacuated from hotels and beaches on the Greek island of Samos where a wildfire broke out Saturday, officials said. Nearly 70 firefighters and 13 engines were battling the fire in the east of the Aegean island. Around 1,000 people were evacuated to the nearby town of Pythagoreio from several hotels.” (Daily Sabah) “Over 50 fires have broken out nationwide over the last 24 hours, fanned by gale-force winds, the fire department said.”

Turkey: “Two people were injured in the Black Sea town of Terme, Turkey, on Monday, Aug. 26, when a city bridge collapsed after a period of heavy rain.” (Accuweather)

Poland: “At least four people died and more than 100 were injured in lightning strikes during a thunderstorm. The worst hit a group of hikers at the summit of Giewont, a popular peak in the Tatra range in the south of the country. A fifth person was killed in neighbouring Slovakia. At least one of the victims was said to be a child. The storm is said to have descended suddenly after a sunny morning.” (BBC)

Australia: “Firefighters were racing to tame an enormous blaze in southeastern Australia with officials warning it could merge with others to create a “mega-fire” if weather conditions worsen. Crews have been battling fires that flared in high winds and searing heat across the state of New South Wales last week with more than 200 homes so far destroyed and many others damaged.” (Telegraph, 27 Aug.) More than 40 fires have been burning across Tasmania, while more than 100 fires were burning in Queensland, 23 Aug, where 1 person has died. (9 News) Meanwhile the forecast is for cold fronts bringing heavy rain across much of the country. Fucking weird.

Australia has just experienced its third-hottest July (a late mid-winter month) on record, beaten only by records set in 2017 and 2018, as fire and water authorities in the eastern states prepare for a worse than average fire season. The year-to-date temperatures from January to July were the second warmest on record, according to a monthly statement from the Bureau of Meteorology. (Guardian) (Let’s recollect that midsummer in Australia is 21 December.)

Tunnel approaching….

Yellowstone: While your Uncle has been away, a M5.4 earthquake under the Cosco volcanic field in SW California set off a new swarm of quakes over in the Yellowstone caldera. The Blessed Mary Greeley records the epicenter as being not far from the China Lake military base and geothermal pumping operations.

As news reports of a M2.9 quake triggered by fracking operations near Blackpool, England, were coming in, the biggest yet, renewing calls for a permanent suspension, there was a M4.5 beneath the Kansas fracking zone, showing that quakes caused by hydraulically fracturing substrata have a cumulative effect and tend to get larger over time. (Dutchsinse)

NASA reports, a 340-meters-wide asteroid called Apophis, after the Egyptian god of Chaos, will whizz by Earth at an altitude of just 19 thousand miles in 2029. (Express, currently obsessed with clickbaiting readers fearful of apocalyptic asteroid strikes, most of which happened millions of years ago – old news.) That’s within the margin of error for orbital calculations and brings this potential planet-killer inside the orbits of our weather satellites. But don’t worry, etc., plenty more out there.

The Pumpkin – Issue 95: Good luck with 2020… E Pluribus, Donald…Shits, hicks, hacks and charlatans… The Lucky Jew… GW: Slipslidin’ away.

Hi, The Pumpkin here. I’m trying to cram stuff in this week because I’m taking a short vacation away from muh li’l laptop next week and you’ll miss me when I’m gone. Sorry.

PS I’m going by train, as long as the virtue signals are working….

“But Greta, you didn’t tell us there’d be no more cauliflower!”

Quote of the Week

“We all know how Trump struggles to do the bare minimum of being a president but it’s still genuinely shocking just how much he struggles to do the bare minimum of being a fucking person.” – John Oliver, on Trump’s fumbled El Paso appearance.

 

Good luck with 2020

(This article first appeared in Tuesday’s Boglington Post but has been moved here because it’s better, okay?)

Further news reaches us of Trump’s continuing mental disintegration.

Japan Times reports, a number of countries have issued travel warnings to their citizens after the USA experienced 25 mass shootings in 2 months; including last week’s murders of 22 people at a Walmart supermarket in El Paso.

A perfectly responsible, normal reaction. Some governments feel a duty to safeguard their own citizens.

“Well, I can’t imagine that,” Trump said when told of the warnings. “But if they did that, we’d just reciprocate. We are a very reciprocal nation, with me as the head. When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country, we do it to them.”

For someone so thin-skinned, he sure resembles a rhinoceros at times. Especially when he’s proposing to wreck his own tourism industry.

So reasonable warnings from civilized countries like Japan to their own citizens when in America to be careful and avoid the sort of Wild West arcades where the little mini-Trumps go to blast away at live foreigners and schoolkids, result in a “reciprocal” threat from the madman-in-chief to warn Americans they’re in similar danger abroad, or not to travel anywhere, shitholes, whatever.

That’s to countries that generally don’t have racist neo-Nazis, teenage paranoiacs and other psychopathic Trump true-believers running around with legally owned AR-15 assault rifles shooting people indiscriminately. (We have news today of a Trump supporter, a disorderly military veteran fracturing the skull of a random 13-year-old child he thought was “disrespectin’ duh national anfum”, by piledriving him headfirst into the ground at a fair.)

I imagine most normal Americans can’t wait to get out, warnings or no.

Who reacts like this, like some brutal mob boss, to any perceived slight? Who else imagines themselves to be personally insulted when someone passes a reasonable comment involving their country, or kneels when the anthem is played, when the appropriate response would be to try to reassure travellers that they’re perfectly safe with him in charge, and attend to the cause of the protest without fake patriotic melodrama?

Donald the fucking Sun King, that’s who. King Donald the Mad.

It’s not that long ago that Trump was tweeting abuse at London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, for allowing one shooting and two stabbings over a single weekend, in a city of 7 million stressed people. As if he could do anything to stop them, apart from by not being a Muslim. Oh, and by not criticizing President-elect Trump over his efforts to ban Muslims. When was that? Three years ago!

And we’re not even his country. No yet, anyway. (I hear he’s considering an offer.)

Good luck with 2020, America.

You’re going to need it.

(I see that rotten stinker with the ludicrous ‘Mr Pastry’ mustache who likes to start wars and changes regimes more often than his fetid old underpants, John Bolton is in London today for talks with the preposterous PM, the craven weasel Boris Johnson.

Iran, here we come.)

Oh, and guess whose name has popped up in the Jeffrey Epstein saga, as another “friend of the late financier”? Why, trot forward on a pure white Arabian steed, Mr Trump’s young protege, Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman of Saudi Barbaria, no less. Epstein’s Rolodex must have been on fire! (New York Times: The Day Jeffrey Epstein Told Me He Had Dirt on Powerful People, 12 Aug.)

It might perhaps offer some kind of explanation as to why the Trump family is so assiduously putting about the fake news, that Hillary Clinton had Epstein killed in prison to protect Bill.

On the other hand….

 

E Pluribus, Donald

A rapper calling himself A$AP Rocky has been found guilty of affray and given a two-year suspended sentence by a Swedish court, following an attack on two young immigrant fans who were following the rappers’ party in a possibly annoying way.

The court found that Rocky had not acted in self-defense, as his defense lawyer tried to claim, but had joined in with two of his roadies in a serious but not gravely injurious attack.

This story would have been water under the bridge and certainly not had profile, had it not been for a bizarre tweet from the supposed President of the United States, demanding that Sweden drop the charge.

What Donald Trump thought he was doing, what right he had to interfere in the normal judicial process of another sovereign country over such a trivial affair, only God and the psychiatric community will ever know.

What we do know is that Trump has no regard whatever for the rule of law, in his own country or anyone else’s where he has no right of interference, other than for the arrogance of office.

This utterly bonkers individual actually threatened action against Sweden for persecuting a US citizen.

He tweeted: “Give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM. We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem”

By which we assume he means the vanishingly small number of crimes committed by Muslim immigrants and refugees, on which he notoriously fixated in 2017, claiming by some miracle of foresight that there had been a riot, two days before a minor affray conveniently broke out in one of Stockholm’s migrant majority banlieus.

What he meant by “we do so much for Sweden”, is anyone’s guess. The USA does nothing for Sweden, so far as I know. Sweden is a grown-up, independent nation, a stable constitutional monarchy, and has been for hundreds of years. Longer, certainly, than the USA, where around the end of the C19th hundreds of thousands of ethnic Swedes made their homes.

Perhaps that’s what he meant. The USA had taken in 1.2 million ethnic Swedes by 1910, driven out by years of poor harvests and failed agrarian reforms. That’s what “we did for Sweden”. “We” depopulated the place!

A$AP Rocky is not a well-known personage in the UK, we suspect, but we must assume that someone sympathetic to his cause got to the White House. Could that possibly have been Trump’s friend Kanye West, a rap artist equally as damaged by having been larded with a great deal more money than his modest talents might justify, as Trump himself is?

Oh, right, sorry, I’m being slow today. “Don’t call me a racist, see what I do for you colored people!”. Get the black vote out somehow.

There’s always something transactional in everything this Grade One menace does.

 

Shits, hicks, hacks and charlatans

We just had to pirate this priceless Trump anecdote from a strange piece in The Guardian, 13 Aug., on celebrities and their moments with the Gilded Oaf:

“Charlie Sheen recalls running into Trump in a restaurant, just before he was to get married. Because he couldn’t make it to the ceremony, Trump removed his expensive platinum and diamond cufflinks and handed them to Sheen as a gift. ‘Six months later I was having some jewellery appraised and remembered the cufflinks,’ Sheen recalled in 2016. ‘When the jeweller took a look, she recoiled and said: ‘In their finest moment, they were cheap pewter and bad zirconia.’ They had ‘Trump’ stamped on them. I think that says a lot about the man.'”

It perhaps says quite a lot about Sheen, too, that he couldn’t tell the difference.

I feel sure that if everything everyone now knows about this appalling caricature in the White House were to have come out loud and clear in 2015, he would never have been adopted as the pet monster of McConnell’s monstrous Republican party. Would he?

It reinforces the point about how difficult it is to get everyone at the same time to understand what’s going on, so poorly are most people equipped to pay attention, glued as we are to our cellphones (I’ve just signed on for a new one… it’s got a big screen and a twin-lens many gigapixels camera thing! And you can watch Netflix movies in realtime and store hundreds of thousands of tunes!) (Oh, do get on with it. Ed.)

There’s always enough inattention and confusion to ensure the baddies get away with it.

He doesn’t even like killing people. (Just watch video of him desperately trying to ignore a Yazidi woman in the Oval Office, telling him how her entire family was butchered and she was raped and enslaved by ISIS… “And so where is your family now?”)

Surely, there must be an almost unbearable level of embarrassment even among that power-crazed, money-grubbing bunch of shits, hicks, hacks and charlatans, that they elected a half-daft fairground freak in a tinsel tutu?

Is it even fair to mock him for his cheap tackiness, his utter fakery – from his cufflinks to his hair, to his tan to his boasts about the size of his, most of the time, negative bank balance, his vast intellect, his astonishing golfing prowess, and his prodigious… “wherever”?

His weird way of acting all the time as if he himself were a newly arrived immigrant, striving for a place in the sun, a street-rat clawing his way out of the Bowery, doing and saying whatever it takes to survive, even at his age.

That peculiarly American, insatiable hunger for acceptance in a cold world.

Did he learn that from Grandpa Drumpf?

Mockery hasn’t done any good, he’s still there, squatting like a big orange toad on the face of American democracy – for what that was worth – hacking about in the rough.

Each successive week brings more and more evidence of calculating insanity. He so clearly qualifies for the 25th Amendment. Yet nobody dares lift a finger!

Why are you all so pathetic?

 

The Lucky Jew

A theatrical colleague has half-Polish nationality. She and her boyfriend went over to Warsaw on a brief vacation trip and to visit family. On her return, we were up at the Director’s house watching a film and she gave me as a little holiday coming-home present, a Lucky Jew.

This rather startling memento is a small, carved wood and painted figure, about 3 inches high, of a bearded gentleman garbed in black, with a large nose and an expression of humble servility, clutching a bag presumably of money and a golden plate.

The tribute was in honor, she explained, of my recent triumph in the role of Shylock, the multi-layered, much put-upon Jewish banking character from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”.

Happily, I found the idea funny. I find most ideas funny.

It came with the explanation that the Lucky Jew is “a thing” in Poland. What kind of thing I’m not sure, a souvenir thing for tourists unaware of the difficult history, presumably. Searching it, I find no hidden corkscrew.

I might have found my Lucky Jew embarrassingly antisemitic, were it not for something that happened the very next day, for which I forgive its creator everything.

That was a Tuesday night. Wednesday was a day on which the latest issue of Private Eye magazine arrives in my local supermarket. It comes out fortnightly, and rather than flashing my contactless card at the tobacco counter lady for a silly small amount, £2, I add on a £2 National Lottery entry for luck.

And, guess what, Reader, it came up!

Okay, so it was only three numbers, for a prize of £30.

But I haven’t won anything on the Lottery since winning £2.50 about ten years ago. Admittedly, I rarely enter. As the brilliant Saatchi and Saatchi ad campaign used to say, “It could be you!”, about the most insidiously persuasive tagline I’ve ever read – and I used to write them for a living.

Winning anything on what’s now known with chintzy faux-affection as Lotto is practically impossible to do, since the cheating bastards increased the number of draw numbers, adding on an extra ten, lying that it gave us more chances to win, and doubled the stake. You have to guess six numbers from 60 for two quid. The odds against picking a full suite of six correct random selections out of a possible 60  are astronomical, let alone with the seventh Bonus ball you need to go full £millions.

They really don’t want you to win anything, so they can go on throwing money at netball players and obscure provincial orchestras, and the lesser prizes are pathetic, given the difficulty of winning one of them.

Lucky for Lotto, however, so many people enter so many lines that by the law of averages, one eventually scoops the jackpot. The resulting publicity is the only thing that keeps people betting. A fifty-grand prize won’t do (5 correct numbers!), although it would me – apart from me, everyone foolishly dreams of becoming an instant multi-millionaire. Little do they know.

So anyway, I went back to the store yesterday to pick up my winnings, and do you know what?

That’s right! More luck!

I did my shopping, and when I paid for it, it apparently triggered the requisite very large number of points accumulated over many shopping weeks, and the checkout guy handed me a £5 voucher with my receipt!

I’m not sure how long this run of luck is supposed to hold out, from my Lucky Jew.

Today I had a call from the cellphone store, my sparkling new Huawei cellphone we ordered yesterday had gone out on the courier run this morning but for some reason connected with the end of civilization as we know it, the courier had delivered it straight back to the warehouse instead of to the store, and we can’t get another delivery before Friday, and that’s the day I leave for London and I’m not going without a degree-level course in how to find the on-switch.

I’m a bit on edge today, to be honest.

Because there are two kinds of luck, aren’t there.

 

Cauliflower Fears

“The weak foreign trade performance and declining construction investment proved sufficient to bring the German economy to its knees …” A German economist responds hysterically to the news that Germany’s GDP shrank by a massive 0.1% last quarter.

Your old Granny comments: “We need to shrink GDP in all nations and by a lot more than tenths of a percentage point. Blind worship of growth figures is killing us.”

As if to rub in the point, after the Great Iceberg Lettuce Famine of 2017 and the Avocado Crisis of 2018, in August, 2019 Britain is facing an acute shortage and rising prices of – cauliflower. (Children across the nation cheer! And go on climate strike.)

The disaster is climate-related: “Heavy rainfall in June destroyed crops in Lincolnshire, and alternative European supplies wilted in last month’s heatwave. The shortages were described as “very concerning” by a spokesman for the Brassica Growers Association.

Expect to see more of this, we should.

Anyway, I’m sorry for Lincolnshire. The pickers all come from Romania, what are they going to do?

The BBC draws a veil over their plight.

Meanwhile, fearful of accusations of hypocrisy if she flies, Greta Thunberg has set sail on an oceangoing yacht, bound for a conference in the USA.

The media is reporting that it’s a zero-carbon voyage. Your Old Gran wonders if it’s a carbon-fiber yacht?

They mostly are nowadays.

 

Straight priorities

A 72-year-old Australian man is in a critical condition following an incident in which he intervened to save his dog from an attack by a large Goanna lizard.

It was at first thought the dog had died, but later reported that it had survived the attack.

The man’s wife commented that that was the best news she had heard all day. (Guardian)

 

“In 2010 the famous Eyjafjallajökull eruption closed down all airports in Europe. But its CO2 emissions were only about 150,000 tonnes a day, compared with human activity which is responsible for almost 100m tonnes a day.” – Andri Snaer Magnason, Icelandic author and glaciologist.

(Your Old Granny adds: Your weekend shopping trip from Heathrow to New York will cost the rest of us as much atmospheric forcing per head as the average Ghanaian emits in a year. Thanks for that.)

 

GW: Slipslidin’ away

Pakistan: “Monsoon rain and floods in Sindh province have left 26 dead. At least 16 people died in Karachi district, which was one of the worst hit areas. Heavy rain and flooding damaged buildings and inundated streets. Deaths were caused electrocution from downed power cables, drowning, lightning strikes and collapsed buildings. Karachi recorded 129.40mm of rain in 24 hours to 11 Aug.” (Floodlist)

India: “Heavy rain has caused flooding and landslides in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India. 6 people died on 12 August after landslides in 3 villages in Chamoli district. Major roads were blocked. (Some places received) up to 130mm of rain in 24 hours. The heavy rain is increasing river levels.”(Floodlist) Over 180 people have died in monsoon flooding and landslides in southern and western parts of the subcontinent over the last few days.

Japan: Typhoon Krosa (the third in 3 weeks to hit Japan) weakened to a tropical storm but still managed to dump more than 820 mm (32 inches) of rain on Shikoku, as of 15 Aug. Out of that total, 124.5 mm (nearly 5 inches) and 60.5 mm (2.38 inches) poured down in 3 and 1 hours, respectively. An elderly man died and over 40 people have been injured. (Accuweather)

Vietnam: In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Wipha, flooding that began around 8 Aug. has caused 10 deaths and displaced almost 2000 people. Kien Giang and Lam Dong are the worst hit provinces, where some rivers have reached record levels. (Floodlist)

Greece: “Fires have been raging through a “unique, untouched pine forest” on the Greek island of Evia as authorities fight to keep the flames under control. Hundreds of people were evacuated from nearby villages as the fire broke out in the early hours of (13 Aug.) Other wildfires broke out on the island of Thassos, as well as in the central region of Viotia and the Peloponnese. There was also a fire reported in Peania, a suburb of Athens. (BBC)

Switzerland: 2 people are missing, thought to have been swept away in their car, after flash flooding in the canton of Valais. The area saw violent storms on 11 Aug. Heavy rain from the storm caused the Losentze river to overflow, triggering flooding and mudslides in the commune of Chamoson. (Floodlist)

USA: At least 5 dogs have died after swimming in lakes affected by toxic algal blooms caused by heatwaves in Texas, Georgia and North Carolina. Torrential downpours are forecast for areas from northern Florida to southeastern Georgia and perhaps the Carolina coast later this week, at risk for multiple showers and thunderstorms on a daily basis.

A hailstone with a maximum diameter of 4.83 inches fell in Bethune, Colorado, on 13 Aug. The record was confirmed on Wednesday evening by the Colorado Climate Center. The previous state record in Colorado was 4.5 inches. (Accuweather)

Excessive heat warnings are out for 110 degree (43C) temperatures in central California, around Sacramento (The Weather Channel) CNN reported (22 Aug.): “Almost 50 large wildfires are burning in a dozen US states from Texas to Alaska. The McKinley Fire, which has now spread to more than 4,300 acres in Alaska, has destroyed at least 80 structures so far, the Alaska Division of Forestry reported Wednesday morning.”

Australia: unreal scenes as the Melbourne area of Victoria state is deep in snow. Videos have been tweeted of wombats shivering and kangaroos frolicking in the cold. Extraordinarily, the rare cold winter – storms, snow – accompanied bizarrely by many unseasonal wildfires in the parched interior – is given not one line of coverage in the Australian mainstream media today.

Wednesday, and News.com.au is reporting that the weather pattern in the southeast especially but really, all over the big island, is totally chaotic, with 38 degree days alternating with near freezing temperatures, rain and wind and then back again. Except they’re not using the word ‘chaotic’. And as winter turns to spring, the wildfire map is showing hundreds of outbreaks all along the coast from Sydney to Brisbane. They’re not mentioning those either.

Oz, you’re about as fucked as America is. And you’ve got the pols to go with it.

Postscriptum: 24 Aug., looking down on the Pole, a cyclone is clearly visible forming amid the chaos of the jetstream winds, bringing more heat and wave action to the Arctic today. (Climate Reanalyzer, courtesy of Arctic News)

 

 

800 Not Out!… The event horizon of a brown hole… Who was Mulgrew Miller?… An American psychopath… Cue spooky music… GW: Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!… Would you like ice in that?

Guardian: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters
On 26 February, 2012, the BogPo hit the ground running.

800 Not Out!

The Boglington Post, incorporating The Pumpkin, publishes its 800th Post today, 7 years and 5 months after its modest beginnings in February, 2012.

Founded by the late Sir Thanatossios Boglopoulos in competition with the absurdly named Arianna Stassinopoulos-Huffington’s Huffington Post, at a time when her writers were complaining of not being paid, early Posts were often short; even derisory. Pithy comments, bad jokes. Most consisted of just a single article; some humoresque, others autobiographical – often both.

But as the years went by, under the wise guidance of our new Publisher, Herr Professor Doktor Ernst von-und-zu Bogl, of Boglheim am Rhein, and the adroit editorship of his late father’s half-brother, the former children’s page editor, Uncle Bogler, The BogPo (as it was soon to be affectionately known) became broader – and bolder – in its concept, invoking a mission to provide quality writing, wild inaccuracies and profoundly cynical satire to the cognoscenti.

We have not been sparing in our use of adjectives.

Multiple articles, colored words and the inclusion of regular features – for instance, an obsessive interest in collecting evidence of climate change and the enticing prospect of human extinction began, in 2016, to manifest as the Granny Weatherwax diaries (GW standing also for Global Warming) – made it more like a regular news blog, only with cuss words.

The Thursday deadline soon became redundant as sheer boredom began to dictate a frenetic increase in output, while technical incompetence led to many editions like this one being published accidentally before time. We took a decision early on, not to hide our light under the bushel of a paywall, like the lousy bastards at the Washington Post, who could easily afford to go free. In any case, we couldn’t understand a word of the Patreon business model concept thing, and had no idea how else to force readers to send money.

Consequently, about twice a week you get 4,000 words for nothing. We hope you appreciate that, you stingy sods. (See me after. Ed.)

Following complaints from our persistent critic, Young Bogler, that no-one reads anymore, borrowed images were introduced, with what the Editor imagines are witty captions. Some amusing examples are revisited again in this edition. Thus, actual readers were no longer required. Just as well, as the average of daily Views, though climbing steadily, has yet to achieve critical mass (a high point of 47 was reached on one memorable day in October, 2016.) American spellings, too, were introduced, in case any Americans were watching; particularly, the NSA. (Hi, guyz!)

In passing, we should like to apologize to anyone who feels we may have stolen, overborrowed, overquoted or outright plagiarized their work for our researches. In fact, it seems it’s often a mutual process. Articles that appear in the BogPo/Pumpkin have a strange way of preceding, often by several days, well paid-for op-ed content generated by the soi-disant professionals in the mainstream press.

Visionary? Or merely doing our job! And, of course, as a non-profit claiming fair usage, we always give credit where credit is due. Sorry, Jacob – owing.

“I don’t give a fuck about the law, I want my fuckin’ money!”

Our sister site

In November 2016, The Pumpkin, now on its 92nd edition, became a separate entity focussing laserlike on the US political scene, following the accidental election of a senile, money-grubbing, malignant narcissist to the White House; a man who, while describing himself as a very smart and stable genius, has found it necessary to threaten to sue his old school if they release his grades to the media.

The possibilities for expressing weekly, in a newsy format, our fear and loathing of this spoilt, superannuated playboy – the Demander-in-Chief, as it were – the thin-skinned, sexually incontinent, mendacious, made-for-TV business mogul and his gang of lying, maladroit pirates, were too entertaining and concerning to ignore.

Readers have wondered why we are so interested in the US political scene from all the way over here in Boglington-on-Sea, a humdrum coastal resort in west Britain, where life goes on and the climate remains embarrassingly normal for a world on fire.

There are two reasons. One, your Uncle Bogler’s late granny was a US citizen, from Delaware; her family having migrated from Ireland in the late C19th. So we feel some attachment to the place – although we have never visited. My brother went over, and described the surviving family as, basically, trailer-trash.

And two, just you wait until Wilbur Ross’ little goblins have finished negotiating that post-Brexit trade deal with the incompetent buffoon and trainee serial killer, “Foreign Secretary” Dominic Raab. American spellings will be compulsory, we assure you. It’ll be daylight Raabery! (Sorry.)

As we know you all must be, dear Spammers, Followers, Likers and those no longer reading this, muh li’l bogl, we’re excited to be looking forward to the next 800 free issues.

Thank you for your loyal support.

Team Bogl (Your Uncle B.)

“You could drive a bus through these legs…!”

Newly appointed Secretary of State, Sajid Javid – the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver – tries on his new, reinforced Home Office trousers before continuing with Theresa May’s popular policy of creating a “Hostile Environment” for migrants (2017), accidentally interning and/or repatriating many people with a right to remain. Formerly a senior executive with Deutsche Bank, the bank fined over $16 billion for money-laundering and interest-rate rigging, the bank that lent $2 billion to Donald Trump despite his zero credit rating and history of defaults, “The Saj”was responsible for promoting the same “collateralized debt obligations”, the financial instruments that caused the 2007 banking crash. In July he was promoted by incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be Chancellor of the Exchequer.

 

The event horizon of a brown hole

“Democracy, here in the UK and in the US and Europe, has in recent years been subverted by vast amounts of dark money and by individuals and organisations intent on disregarding electoral law to the benefit of extreme rightwing ideas.”– Shadow minister, Chris Matheson MP.

Launching a new fundraising group mainly of Trump supporters (including Moron Jr) in New York calling itself World4Brexit, to “welcome Britain back to the international community, free of the EU”, Britain’s leading Euronoiac, Nigel Farage made it clear, the money was not to support Brexit candidates at the next General Election, which would of course be a breach of electoral law, but purely for research, to “dig deep, find out who is really running the show.”

Who is really running the show is, ultimately, the shadowy group of players around Vladimir Putin. Who else? What the “show” is, is you being a total arsehole, Nigel.

I’m sorry, but cogent political analysis and civil discourse break down at the event horizon of a brown hole.

“Pssst, wanna see my Mussolini?” (2017)

Jazz alert

Who was Mulgrew Miller?

Ciao, cool cats.

I’m forced to comment on a weird phenomenon.

Last night, 30 July, I was browsing on YouTube, looking for some lite jazz I could fall asleep to, and spotted the name of a familiar musician, the late virtuoso Danish bass player, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pederson – who co-nomenclaturally played a lot with the Oscar Peterson trio – no relation.

Sadly, NHØP, who was also a highly cultured man,  died in 2005 at the young age of 58, from heart disease, leaving a treasure trove of mouthwatering brilliance.

Truly one of the great bassists in jazz or indeed any music tradition, he was listed here among those little pictures down the side as playing on an album in a duet with a pianist called Mulgrew Miller, of whom, I swear, I had never heard.

Having listened to, and collected, jazz recordings for what – 15 years, including as a teenager and later intensively for the past ten years as an old bloke and wannabe performer, I honestly had never heard of Mulgrew Miller.

Not only that, but I swear Miller’s name does not come up once as listed either as a lead or side-man on any of the more than 400 jazz CDs I have collected over the past 10 years, dating back to the early 1940s and running on to the present day. The name sounds almost like a joke, a jazz musician out of a novel, or a disguise to fool the taxman.

And yet, having cropped up once, I’m now browsing through dozens of recordings by or featuring Mulgrew Miller, with growing admiration.

Is there some spiritual meaning to it?

I mean, it’s not a name you would easily forget. Also, he’s a bit of a genius, described in his Wikipedia entry as a sort of cross between Oscar Peterson and McCoy Tyner, although he’s very much his own man when it comes to style – virtuosic, powerful, delicate – but with a sense of humour and often a nod to the past.

It’s as if, from time to time in life, a wormhole opens up and however old you get, interesting things you knew nothing about before come wiggling through to take you completely by surprise.

(Mind you, it’s not long since I started to catch up to the wonderful Kenny Barron. I had at least heard of him.)

Miller was another of those tragically early casualties of the jazz world, dying of a stroke in 2015 at the ridiculous age of 57. Of course, you suspect a drug habit, but I doubt it. He had been Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University in New Jersey for several years. I suspect many more undersung jazz heroes are hiding away on the campuses of smalltown academic America. At least it pays.

These geniuses just pop in and out of parallel universes to enlighten and entertain us for a while before flitting back. Busy schedule. Many gigs.

(Incidentally, the reliable Japanese bassist Kyoshi Kitagara, who pops up on many of these recordings with Miller and Barron, is someone else I also discovered for the first time yesterday. Never come across him before either. How does this happen?)

Mulgrew Miller: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aX39pJ9C3s&list=RDA1Nx_Bnpb5s&index=5

Kenny Barron: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGYvuu8Fwog

My Jazz CDs (catalog): themindbogls.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php?s=my+jazz+CDs&post_status=all&post_type=page&action=-1&m=0&paged=1&action2=-1

 

An American psychopath

The New York Times tonight has a story to chill the blood. It’s about The Collector, Jeffrey Epstein. Ignore the bit about wealthy financier, he was a jerk, a pimp funded entirely by his influential pedophile clients:

“The wealthy financier, who has been charged with sex trafficking, told scientists and other acquaintances of his plans to seed the human race with his DNA by impregnating scores of women at his sprawling New Mexico ranch.” (NYT briefing)

“Mr. Epstein” (the NYT uses the honorific even when horrifying scumbags are identified as certifiable lunatics), “who used his wealth to cultivate relationships with a wide range of business, political and scientific luminaries (no, idiots, it was the other way around! They used their wealth to cultivate him! Ed.), also claimed to be bankrolling efforts to identify ‘a mysterious particle that might trigger the feeling that someone is watching you.'”

Oh, yes, Jeffrey. We know the feeling.

 

Telepathy corner

Cue spooky music

Two spam messages have illiterally just arrived on top of a list of 13, that the WordPress Spammeister, Arkayla, thinks I might want to approve. Why would I? Absolute gibberish, they’ve all been sent through poxy servers from untidy bedrooms in Kyrgzystan and will only contaminate my cloud, whatever.

These two both purport to be commenting on an ancient Post from 2012, that I thought I had recently deleted, punningly titled: “Oh, what a Tanglewood we weave”. It was all about buying a guitar made by a company called Tanglewood; which I’d done by mistake.

Not half an hour ago on my walk with Hunzi, I encountered Andy, whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to for the best part of a year. Andy runs a little guitar shop in the covered market. I’d placed a guitar with Andy to sell, about two years ago. He keeps selling it, only for no good reason, the buyers always return it.

We couldn’t really understand why. It’s a perfectly nice little instrument. Anyway, I asked him if he’d sold it, and probably out of guilt or sympathy he said he’d buy it off me, so I priced it very modestly at £50, he just happened to have £50 on him, and we parted ways rejoicing.

Oh, did I mention? It was the Tanglewood.

 

GW: Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!

Now, that’s better. There was almost no weather in yesterday’s edition, apart from perhaps a mention of two possible hurricanes in the Pacific, but now…

“Hurricane Erick is currently hurtling across the East Pacific Ocean towards Hawaii measuring winds of 132mph. At the last NOOA update, the powerful hurricane was located approximately 750 miles (1210 KM) east southeast of Hilo, Hawaii and around 965 miles (1550 KM) east southeast of Honolulu Hawaii. With wind speeds of 132mph, Erick is a category 4 hurricane, which according to the Saffir Simpson Wind Scale can be catastrophic (Express). Wunderground reports: “Erick’s top sustained winds jumped from 70 mph at 5 pm EDT Monday to 130 mph by 5 pm Tuesday, a spectacular leap that’s almost double the 35-mph-in-24-hours needed to qualify as rapid intensification.”

The report goes on to mention: “Tropical Storm Flossie is currently located 745 miles south of the southern tip of Baja California. It is currently moving at 20 miles per hour. On its current path, Flossie will enter Central Pacific waters on Friday or Saturday” and also threatens Hawaii. (Express) Wunderground reports, Flossie intensified to Cat 1 on Tuesday (30 July), but might not survive the wind shear in Erick’s wake.

Europe: Another wave of heat is on the cards, between intense rainstorms. “Forecasters say three more heatwaves could be on their way to the UK. Leon Brown, head of operations at The Weather Channel explained: ‘After the past week’s extreme heat, three more heatwaves are forecast in Britain this summer as air from Africa arrives.'” (Express) In the meantime, central and northern Europe and parts of Britain are being pounded by heavy thunderstorms.

Russia: A gentle nudge from your Gran has spurred the Floodlist team into reporting mainly as follows: “2,699 people in 8 districts of the Irkutsk region (Siberia) have been affected by (a) new wave of floods that started after heavy rains in the area. TASS says the water level in the Iya river in the region reached 11.25 metres on 31 July, well above the 7 metre danger mark. Flooding is also affecting the Amur region, where a state of emergency was declared on 25 July. Over 2,300 people have been evacuated. One of the worst hit areas is the city of Belogorsk and the surrounding district after flooding from the Tom River, a tributary of the Zeya.”

Meanwhile authorities have declared a state of emergency over wildfires in Siberia and the Far East. Almost 3 million hectares of land are estimated to have been affected, according to Russia’s Federal Forestry Agency. (Floodlist)

India: “7 people have died in Maharashtra in flood- and rain-related incidents, including drowning and collapsed buildings, since 27 July. As many as 166 people have now died in the state since the start of this year’s monsoon. A total of 55 villages are affected, with over 1,500 people evacuated.

“Meanwhile the death toll continues to rise in the NE states of Bihar and Assam. As of 30 July, DMD reported 127 fatalities in Bihar and 89 in Assam. As of 30 July there were over 650,000 people displaced in the two states. Elsewhere in the country, 26 people have died in Kerala and 13 in Rajasthan.” (Floodlist)

Boglington-on-Sea: Where normal is the new unusual…. I’m just putting a sweater on now, for the first time in weeks. It’s been struggling to reach 17C all day under gray skies, just like old times. The bonkers Express website is offering us a Grand Solar Minimum ice age for the next 30 years. That’ll see me out, then.

Residents of Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, were told to leave their homes and make arrangements to stay with friends or family “for a number of days” after severe weather in recent days left the Toddbrook reservoir above the town badly damaged and dangerously full. (Guardian)

Flooding in Yorkshire after 3 inches of rain – a month’s worth – fell in 4 hours, 5-in over 24 hours, washing out roads and bridges. A landslip on 30 July blocked train tracks between Carlisle and Skipton, disrupting rail travel. (Floodlist)

Atlantic: Two systems are rivals to intensify later in the week, with the name Chantal next on the list. One is a disturbance dumping heavy rain in the area of Puerto Rico that could become a Tropical Storm threat to Florida if it doesn’t get stopped either by wind shear or the mountains of Hispaniola. The other is a disturbance that’s just come out of West Africa along the usual hurricane trail, heading for the Leeward Islands. (Accuweather)

Tunnel approaching….

Arctic: The record-setting heat wave has moved north over Greenland, triggering temperatures as much as 25 to 30 deg. F. (16.6 C) warmer than normal. Tuesday’s (30 July) temperature may have surpassed 75 F. in some regions. The heatwave is expected to peak on Thursday with the biggest single-day melt ever recorded in Greenland. On 1 August alone, more than 12 billion tons of water will find its way down to the ocean, irreversibly raising sea levels. (Guardian, citing Rolling Stone)

President Trump has offered President Putin help to bring Siberia’s four months of wildfires under control. Raking the Taiga, possibly?

Yellowstone: 7 times in June, 5 times in July…. Biggest in the park, the Steamboat geyser went off again yesterday, 30 July, well ahead of its record year in 2018. Harmonic tremors continuing. (Greeley, citing USGS) Much excitement however is occurring at California’s rival Long Valley supervolcano (the magma chambers of the two may be connected), where USGS appears to be conducting extra aerial surveys, there have been earthquake swarms and there’s been 32 inches of ground uplift.

Moonshine: A “Black Supermoon” will not be visible over the USA tonight, 1 August. It will not be visible again over the UK at the end of the month. I have no idea, look it up. It’s bound to be cloudy.

 

Would you like ice in that?

Between 17 September, 1989 and 17 September, 2012, the extent of sea ice in the Arctic almost exactly halved: from 6.9m sq km to 3.4m sq km.

17 September is generally reckoned to be the perigee of annual ice extent, after the summer melt. 2012’s was the lowest extent recorded since satellite measurement began in the late 1970s.

On 28 July this year, extent was at 6.5m sq km., leaving 52 days of melting to go. An extrapolation of the extent at the current rate of melting would leave no sea ice left by 17 September, 2019. (Arctic News, 30 July)