Thursday’s Bogl in parenthesis: How is it Where You Are?

“A Texas man has filed a lawsuit against a woman for the cost of a movie ticket after she texted during their cinema date. Brandon Vezmar, 37, said the woman walked out of the screening of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 when he complained about her persistent phone use.

“Mr Vezmar filed the petition in the state capital of Austin last week seeking $17.31 (£13.30), arguing his date’s behaviour was “a threat to civilised society”.” – BBC report

Hero.

Brandon Vezmar, 37, could well have just become the Saviour of the Universe.

Women who are congenitally unable to stop fiddling with their phones for more than a few seconds without breaking out in hives are indeed a threat, not only to civilization, but to the future of humanity. They need to be saved.

Wherever I walk li’l Hunzi, I am unable to shield him from the sight of approaching women pushing a buggy with one hand while delivering a running commentary on their vacuous thought process to some invisible friend via a small device held with the other. In a recent production of Shakespeare, the longueurs backstage were hardly enlivened by female members of the cast immediately pouncing on their phones after coming offstage, in case anything totally uninteresting had happened while they were distracted by having to do some acting.

If only there had been cellphone technology in the C16th.

By 2050 it will no doubt be reported that female babies are being born with a strange deformity of the arm, which is permanently crooked and attached to their right ear. In addition, they will have evolved hypermobile thumbs resembling small flippers with built-in predictive text.

Having said that, if my ‘paying date’ had dragged me to see ‘Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2’ after a slap-up $4 dinner, I’d have kicked him in the nuts and gone home to watch the box-set of Fleabag in the more intellectually stimulating company of my vibrator. A girl needs to feel valued.

But that’s just me.

x

“This lying fat orange shitbrains is just taking the piss.”

How is it where you are?

I’m hoping next time to make sure I bring the little stringy thing that connects this, muh annoying new laptop, to muh cellphone.

It’s ‘cos I have on it, some new photos of the astonishing Spring regrowth that has been erupting around us since the beginning of April.

I’d like to share them with you and may do so shortly. (Gottit!)

Eutrophication – warmer water containing added washed-down nutrients – has caused huge mats of green weed to cover the nearby river, such as I have never known. Meanwhile, a couple of rainy days have brought on the most astonishing efflorescence and a surge of green biomass such as we have never seen before, here in the river valley.

Huge clumps of wild plants are erupting either side of the rapidly disappearing footpath. Briar – fruits already forming – and nettles and cleavers and elder, Himalayan balsam, all fighting for light, tumbling over each other. Growth of grass in the verges has been rapid, dense, with the tall, undistinguished white flower spikes of plantain normally about 10 inches reaching two feet in height, vying for space with St John’s Wort, nettle, vetch and borage, Pennyroyal and cow-parsley.

Japanese knotweed stands already way above my head.

Notifiable – and  indestructible – knotweed growing three feet above my six-foot head.

Where the playing fields have not been closely mown there are vast mats of daisies, lying like late snow. In the wooded ares, daffodils, snowdrops, bluebells and harebells – all the flowers of spring – are already well over. Dandelion, buttercup and wood anemone are flowering vigorously. The gorse flowers, great acid-yellow swatches, that blazed all winter are dying off now. Bees hum on sunny days in the great pendulous clumps of mayflowers hanging from the hawthorn trees. Birdsong is everywhere.

It really is the most extraordinary Spring I think I have ever known. It began in early April. And it’s still only mid-May. In my tiny garden, I have one rose bush. It has put out three-foot-long greenshoots, each bearing heads of multiple flower buds they will be unable to support. Some flowered last week. It is still only mid-May.

This unprecedented abundance is probably because, for the first time in hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of years, Carbon dioxide – plant food – in the atmosphere is at 410 parts per million (Mauna Loa observatory, Hawaii) and rising.

On sunny days, of which we have had many, a cooling breeze blows gently in from the sea. Out of the wind, it has been comfortably in the low 70s F.

Other parts of the world are not so agreeable:

  • Twenty-seven tornados touched down in Wisconsin and Oklahoma yesterday, trashing a trailer park and killing at least two people. More scary tornado warnings are out tonite (19/05) across the midwest.
  • Donald J ‘criminal ecocide’ Trump has nominated an alt-right Christian fundamentalist, climate-change-denying ‘shock-jock’ radio talkshow host, Sam Clovis as Science Director of the US Department of Agriculture. Like Scott Pruitt at the EPA he has no scientific or sector administrative credentials whatsoever. This lying fat orange shitbrains is just taking the piss.
  • Carbon dioxide concentrations recently exceeded 560 ppm (NASA) in parts of West Africa and Central Asia, thanks to uncontrolled forest fires and annual agricultural burning. A problem with wildfires and crop-burning is that sooty particulates eventually precipitate out over ice fields where the darker surface increases melting of glaciers and sea ice.
  • Wildfires have destroyed 4,000 acres in northern Florida.
  • Record flooding with many casualties and mass evacuations has been reported just this week in Indonesia (Sulawesi/Borneo), Arkansas (state of emergency declared), Mississippi, N. Carolina (USA); Hungary/Romania; China’s Guangdong and four other provinces; Kenya and Kwa-Zulu Natal – South Africa; Chile (where over 1m acres were destroyed by wildfires in January); Haiti, Jamaica and Canada (state of emergency declared in Ontario province).
  • 137 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in Alicante, Spain; 280mm in Kamphaeng Phet province, Thailand. http://floodlist.com/america/usa/floods-arkansas-missouri-april-may-2017
  • Hundreds of pilgrims have been evacuated as heavy flooding hits the southern French town of Lourdes after days of rain.
  • A record-breaking 42 deg. C+ heatwave is affecting the Chennai area of Tamil Nadu, SW India for the second year running.
  • Two tropical cyclones are currently battering northeast and northwest Australia, with another Category 5 storm threatening Vanuatu, the second this year.
  • An earthquake ascribed to possible ‘isostatic rebound’ due to melting ice hit Greenland on May 8, triggering a massive release of methane. Methane levels have risen 256% from 1750 to 2015 and could double again by 2040 (Arctic News).
  • “The Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.” – BBC report. (The Norwegian-funded seed bank, said to be the most important reserve of plant genes in the world, was designed to last 1,000 years…)
  • While Colorado enjoyed heavy snow last night (20 May), some scientists are forecasting an ice-free Arctic ocean by September. Admittedly they have been saying this for the past four years. However, thanks to Arctic methane eruptions polynomial trendlines (best/worst-case scenarios) are pointing to possibly a global 3 deg. C. rise over 2018 and a potential, unsurvivable 10 deg. C. rise by 2021. (Arctic News).
  • April was the third warmest month ever recorded across the USA. Temperature in Washington DC yesterday touched 93 F.

The BogPo: Mrs May is the very embodiment of British ghastliness.

Thursday again… except it’s already Friday! (I’m busy.)

I’d like to start in the laziest possible fashion by linking you somehow (you’re smart, you’ll figure it out) to a Guardian Today article : “Theresa May’s Brexit Britain can no longer be considered a serious country”

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/05/theresa-may-brexit-britain-uk-europe-liberal

Following which, ‘UltraLightBeam’ Commented:

Agreed. Just when you thought that there’s no further depths of stupidity for the UK to sink to, that we’ve finally reached peak stupid, a whole new vista of stupid yawns open.

The UK inexplicably voted to inflict serious harm on ourselves, and to inflict collateral damage on our closest allies. Now we’re simply amazed that the EU doesn’t just want to roll over and let us do what we want. But…but…we’re Britain! Don’t they know that? Why are they so vindictive? Why are they picking on us?

We choose Theresa May, the most awkward, stilted, charmless politician in recorded history to negotiate on our behalf. She predictably humiliates herself, and the UK, and then we blame the European press for pointing it out. Our own press foams at the mouth, spitting venom every day, but we expect the European press to be impartial. Why?

We disregard all logic and economic expertise, and make a stupid political decision to Brexit. Now we’re astounded that the EU are also prioritising political imperatives over economic ones, by making it difficult for us. Why do we expect completely different standards from the EU than we apply to ourselves?

There seems to be very little awareness in the UK, and definitely not from the government, that we’re the ones doing all this. The EU are just reacting, logically and predictably, to protect their own interests against our senseless, mindless, stupid actions. They’re not doing anything to us. We’re not victims here.

What’s happening now is what was always predicted, by everyone who knows anything about these things: the ridiculous fantasies of the Brexit campaign are coming into contact with reality, like a cruise liner grinding into an iceberg. And the magic beans salesmen who brought us here are busy blaming the EU for the mess they created.

I really could put it no better myself. Because I have done, many times – and was putting it, long before the referendum. Sadly, I have precisely 34 Followers – none of whom appears to be reading this, muh bogl, anymore. Most of them were only trying to sell me stuff.

And today, the BogPo had 17… spam messages from bots. An astonishing one-day record. And two Viewings. Yet we plough on regardless…

Led by a corporatist press that profitably descends into paroxysms of chauvinism at every turn, Britain has had a shameful record for many decades of whingeing and whining about our treaty obligations in Europe, always demanding special treatment and complaining of being bossed about, yet happy to benefit from our cut-price membership whenever decisions we help to make go our way.

As Helena Kennedy QC has pointed out, just one instance of the total, crass stupidity of the Leavers, no-one considered that the 27 remaining members are bound by the decisions of the European Court; so if we want to have new treaties enabling us to trade in Europe we will still be subject to European Court rulings – yet one of the principal arguments in favour of Leaving was that we would be free of the tyranny of the European Court!

And all the time this smug sense of superiority, even among the least cultured of us, shaven-headed, tattooed barbarians shagging in the gutters of package holiday resorts stinking of chips and good British vomit, that characterises the insular warrior nation reduced to a mere spear-carrier on the global stage.

There is just no self-awareness of how ghastly we are; and fittingly Mrs May is the very embodiment of British ghastliness, a woman for our time.

 

“…we are in the midst of a massive land grab for power by billionaires via our data. Data which is being silently amassed, harvested and stored. Whoever owns this data owns the future.”

– Carole Cadwalladr, writing in The Observer, 07 May (apparently, the only British journalist researching the story that you have been reading about for weeks in The Pumpkin – possibly the most important story you will ever read.*) Read it! Weep!

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy

*So there’s a BBC Panorama programme on it tomorrow night.

 

 

 

The posh man in his tumbril, the poor man in his shed. Plus: The Art of the Steal. Dear Clive James.

“£25 thousand is not really all that much to spend on an attractive, habitable, craftsman-made garden feature: a faux- pastoral scriptorium for a literary troglodyte.”

“And now the news where you are….”

Hi.

This is where I am, right now.

It’s my little ‘garden room’, at the end of my not very long garden (you’re standing on the other end to look at it), where I work, rest and play, every day.

(As the fence is falling over you can’t really see, but the garden path continues on past the rotproof timber-clad structure to an area of wilderness, approximately two feet by six, at the back. Now read on…)

Annoying friends have borrowed the tiresome magazine lifestyle-column expression ‘man-cave’ to describe it; although a cave is possibly somewhat darker and gloomier than my well-lit 10′ x 12′ workspace and more inducive of brooding melancholy, even lengthy periods of hibernation. Only the self-indulgent electric guitar (mine’s a Gibson LP, yours is a Fender Strat) and the empty wine bottles might connect them.

Before condemning the perfectly satisfactory roof of the main house, thereby putting the kybosh on the sale (it was four and a half years ago. I’m still here; so’s the roof), the insensitive, semi-qualified building surveyor sent by a risk-averse Lloyds Bank on behalf of one prospective purchaser asked caustically, if I had perhaps constructed my second home myself, from a kit?

But no, moron. I had it purpose-designed and built by a faraway design-and-build company specializing in garden rooms ‘as seen on TV’. That’s why it’s so thermally efficient that if you shut the window you’ll be dead within the hour for lack of oxygen, because I couldn’t afford the extra £600 they wanted for air conditioning, and other expensive extras besides.

In fact the whole project, which I must stress was considerably hampered by the problem of obtaining access to the site either from the back – the garden is dropped by some eight feet from the road above – or below, you have to deliver through the house, with its ever-so tight turning off a narrow hallway – from a busy road where there is no stopping allowed on this side; and the additional constraint of working in a garden that’s only four feet wider than the building.

(Yes, I’m aware that the foregoing paragraph does not work syntactically. I’m trying to think of a way to fix it. Leave me alone.)

For that and reasons of opting for the best quality fixtures and fittings, the ‘high-performance’ self-cleaning double-glazing, the recessed downlighters, the tropical hardwood floor (if Ivanka Trump can specify extinction for the rainforest to adorn her dad’s palatial habitations in corrupt and rutted feudal demesnes around the world, so can I), the whole caboodle (not a kit) cost a shade under £16 thousand.

I went off on a jazz holiday and let them get on with it, else I should have become a nervy wreck.

But I’ve been making good use of it since. This is my 608th Post to the BogPo, and all Posted to you free of charge from my coffee-table in The Little House on the Prairie, as I’ve wittily named my shed. (The prairie, as you can just about see, being an area of grassland all of 10 feet by five.) It is my home-from-home, my sanctuary – my inspiration.

The reason I had it built in the first place is somewhat convoluted, but essentially my student son was living with me at the time and there was an overwhelming need to escape the sound of Rise Against! churning over the staccato death-rattle of computerised warfare. I had conceded that, since his bedroom was only eight feet by seven, plus a few inches, he should have the sitting-room (12’4″ x 12′) for use as his study area.

No sooner had the last workman departed, perhaps a little more satisfied with his handiwork than I’ve been, but never mind, Peter naturally moved out to live with his mates in a damp, mould-infested, £100 a week student hovel with stinking, stained carpets and broken furnishings, lacking any form of legal fire safety precautions, just across the road from a low tavern, taking with him his extensive collection of Rise Against! downloads, his post-ironic lava-lamp and his global gaming computer that he built himself from a kit.

Nevertheless, I have remained in the habit of saving electricity by not living in the house – other than to shit, cook and sleep, usually in that order. (There’s a handy drain for peeing in the garden.) I’m extremely attached to and perhaps even mentally imprisoned within my man-cave, my home office, my garden studio, my personal space, my eco-pod – whichever lifestyle magazine you choose to read will furnish you with an appropriate apophthegm.

What has not resulted from the commissioning of this practical and useful extra room, however, is a shitstorm of onlined criticism from the trolling community and Guardian columnistas whining enviously like so many bitches-in-the-manger at the non-public-spirited expense of it. While grimy little children yet queue at the workhouse soup-kitchen door, etc.

You know how it goes, the politics of envy.

A bunch of sheep

My old school chum, Dave Cameron, on the other hand has been widely ‘outed’ today for acquiring a genuine imitation Northumberland ‘shepherd’s hut’ – a sort of tumbril on iron wheels, for use as a writing hovel while he pens the memoir of his disastrous Prime Ministership that no-one is going to pay £25 to read in hardback; for which he has no doubt secured an advance equivalent to my entire lifetime’s earnings (envy not being the sole preserve of the illiterate).

The main complaint seems to be that he paid £25 thousand for it; not including the heritage Farrow-and-Ball makeover Mrs Cameron has given it. It seems a little harsh, even while one contemplates her disloyalty to George Osborne in her choice of decorative materials supplier. Twenty-five grand is hardly taking bread out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, you’d easily pay that nowadays for a Golf GTi or a wedding with kilts and a chocolate fountain.

The man was a low-range millionaire even before he became Prime Minister; he’s just come into another half a mill from his late dad; while Samantha is outrageously rich in her own right. They can easily afford it! Is that a reason why they should not have it? Only in nasty, envious, curtain-twitching little Britain would even well-paid journalists not only think, but actually dare to tell the former Prime Minister that just because he can afford a new garden shed, doesn’t mean he should be allowed to have one.

I feel that £25 thousand is not really all that much to spend on an attractive, habitable, British-craftsman-made garden feature: a faux-pastoral scriptorium for a literary troglodyte. From Sam’s point of view it gets her unemployed booby of a husband out of the house for a few hours each day; and it is the case that many famous writers have opted to escape from domesticity by the same means.

Roald Dahl, for example, wrote his lumpen prose for sick kids in a succession of garden sheds. Dylan Thomas had his boathouse at Laugharne, handy for the pub. I myself once visited Ayot St Lawrence in Buckinghamshire, home of George Bernard Shaw, with its modest, unpretentious structure in the garden. Shaw was a keen uptaker of new technology; so, while other writers have sought a solitude which the mobile phone now denies us, having perhaps the keenest sense of self-importance of all he had installed an enormous bakelite telephone in his shed; a detail that impresses me even 40 years later.

I imagine, too, that Leo Tolstoy probably kept an entirely separate country estate for the purpose of obtaining a little peace and quiet while penning the first few drafts of War and Peace. Is Suzanne Moore going to begrudge him that as well?

So, no. Unfair. On behalf of all solitary strivers in garden sheds great or small, dry-lined or planked, plain or fancy, with downlighters or guttering candles, I protest.

Mr Cameron is entitled to many things, eternal damnation for his optimistic miscalculations over the Brexit referendum certainly being the most pressing.

But a posh garden-shed is small reward for his years of service, however inept. It makes him almost one of us.

Leave the poor man alone!

 

The art of the steal

“The Tate (UK’s leading modern art gallery) has come under fire after it asked members of staff, many of whom are not paid the London living wage, to contribute towards a boat for the departing director, Nicholas Serota, just one week after their canteen discount was taken away.

“A notice which went up in the staff rooms of both Tate Modern and Tate Britain on Wednesday asked employees – including security, cleaners, and those (who) maintain the galleries and work in the cafe and gift shop – to ‘put money towards a sailing boat’ as a ‘surprise gift’ for Serota.” – Guardian Today, 28 April.

Whouawahwouaah… eerie flashback music….

We were all summoned up to the boardroom, where Mike, the MD, had prepared a long and lugubrious presentation, graphically showing us the bad news.

Yes, we had twice exceeded our collective annual sales target during the year. Indeed, we’d broken the target for the whole year during August, so the MD had DOUBLED it and we’d broken it again by December.

But sadly, all that extra effort had led to costly errors and money having to be passed back to the clients, all the extra activity we’d generated had doubled our cost of sales too, so we’d doubled our turnover at the expense of having made no profits at all.

Look, here’s a graph, and another one, and an even sadder one… see, how we’ve actually LOST money.

So the bad news was that staff wouldn’t be getting any annual bonus this year. But a bit of good news, we’d all be receiving a £10 shopping voucher with our company Christmas card.

Two weeks after Christmas I encountered a smiling Mike in the corridor. We hadn’t seen him around for a few days, so I asked him if he’d been anywhere nice?

‘Yes’, he said, ‘I was at the Boat Show’ – a major annual event for yachties held at the Earl’s Court exhibition centre in London.

‘Buy anything?’ I asked him, nonchalantly. ‘Yes’, he said, ‘I bought a new yacht for the business.’ (He kept a boat down at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, that he faked VAT invoices for chartering-out to non-existent clients and used to ship cash over to a bank in low-tax offshore haven, Jersey.)

‘How much did that cost?’ I pushed on, regardless. ‘A hundred and ten thousand’, he replied, smugly.

‘In that case’, I told him, ‘you can stuff your fucking job.’ And I quit then and there – although he was a malicious little bastard and forced me to work out my notice and have a crappy leaving party I would rather not have gone to. (I got my revenge when my dog had a burst of diarrhoeia in the back of my unasked-for, embarrassing little company car and I handed it back covered in shit.)

Mike was mortified. He literally could not understand why I was so angry: the company was his, any money we made was his, he was paying us so we belonged to him, to the company, he had total ownership of our lives, our time – generally about 14 hours a day otherwise you got a bad-breath ‘hairdryer’ lecture about showing disloyalty.

I once asked for a raise, he glared at me with his fishy, pale blue eyes magnified by pebble glasses, as if I had crawled out from under a rock and asked me pointedly, ‘Who would you like me to fire so you can have a raise?’

Now however he buckled. He knew I was the agency’s profit-centre, a high-output conceptual copywriter wearing also a business development hat, whom he had under-remunerated from the start and who could now make a substantial case for a big profit-share.

‘You can have a directorship!’ he blurted. Well, for a start the idea of being in business with this bullying little creep, who liked to invite selected execs up to his house to watch porno on his big satellite dish that could get Danish TV, and was pimping his wife and 13-year-old daughter, I actually found pretty nauseating. Worse was to come.

‘Director of what?’ I asked.

‘I’m thinking of setting up a new company’, he explained earnestly, still trying to con people to the end. He outlined a business plan, until I stopped him. ‘You mean, you want me to be a nominee director of a shell company you can sideline your profits into so you can make a tax loss on the main business?’

‘Something like that’, he replied sheepishly.

A fortnight later I was offered a job with another agency, and took one of the account managers with me. (Dear Reader, we were married a couple of years later.)

Tate union rep Tracy Edwards said:

“Our members are on zero-hours contracts, they are struggling to pay the bills each month, so to ask them to donate towards a boat – well, I can tell you the staff are not happy at all. It’s really rubbed people up the wrong way.

“Another worker confirmed that the staff’s 10% canteen discount had also been taken away last week.” (Ibid.)

Yep, I know exactly how that feels.

Fucking shits.

x

Dear Clive James

Writing in last weekend’s Saturday Guardian, the venerated Australian polymath, TV personality and compulsive poet complains ruefully of a fellow Aussie, apparently; a troll, who has messaged him complaining that he is still alive.

If you are unfamiliar with the backstory, James, who must I suppose be in his late seventies, has been ‘dying’ for several years now, after being diagnosed with leukemia. Not to be unkind, or to put too fine a point on it, he has made something of an industry out of this precarious state of being, hovering as it were halfway between this world and the next, as if on a long-haul flight from Sidney.

James has written muchly and richly on the topic of his impending departure, churning out whole books and collections of self-valedictory elegiacs and a weekly ‘not dead yet’ newspaper column delineating the experience of living with Death’s shadow forever hovering in the corner of one’s eye, and here he is, years later, still at it.

On the one hand, obviously, we must be profoundly grateful James has thus far been spared. His literary output continues to be mordant, insightful, vastly knowledgeable, wry and reflective, as ever. His precarious state of health offers us a new appreciation of life. He is, in short, a bit of a national treasure; although perhaps eclipsed a little by his fellow Antipodean valetudinarian, Barry Humphries. I am yet puzzled that neither of these exemplary colonials has been rewarded with a knighthood – or, in Humphries’ case, a Dodgy Damehood.

And no-one would seriously wish anyone dead, who was not either a Conservative politician or, on occasion, John Humphrys.

Yet we know what the Aussie troll means, sort of, don’t we?

Clive James continues to deprive us of the tantalising reward he has been holding out for so long, like a parent refusing to part with the children’s Christmas presents before Twelfth Night, the opportunity of actually grieving for him, of celebrating the life well-lived. He subsists on our delayed gratification; our anticipation of sadly enjoyable Radio Four obsequies, favourite moments off the telly, contributions from past celebrities we had forgotten existed, the republication of past essays.

There dwells in our nearby town a certain person who too has gone about for several years now in a state of darkest morbidity, informing one and all of her imminent demise. ‘How are you today?’ one would ask solicitously. ‘I think I’m dying’, she would reply, ‘I feel awful.’ ‘Have you seen your doctor?’ you would ask, hopelessly. ‘They can’t do anything. They say I’m probably just depressed.’ To which there is no answer.

Turning 60, seven years ago I determined to take up two activities whose gratifications I had deliberately delayed since childhood, being the sole offspring of theatrical parents: to act on the stage, and to sing solo, again on the stage, in the jazz idiom.

Anticipating redundancy from my job, an axe that fell two years later, I wasted literally thousands of pounds of my pension ‘pot’ on musical instruments; acquiring guitars, a piano I cannot play – later exchanged for a more practical electronic keyboard; amplifiers, microphones, wobbling piles of sheet music. I studied with what teachers I could find, spending more thousands on attending residential workshops here and in France, acquiring dozens upon dozens of CD recordings.

Thus I have made a number of increasingly encouraging appearances on stage. Having had the foresight to grow my own, strangely woolly white beard, contrasting oddly with my otherwise still dark-brown hair and moustache, I have been consistently cast above my age range in comic parts, generally old sailors or pirates, ensuring a steady stream of unpaid work twice a year. I am currently playing the old Jew in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, as sympathetically as possible I hope, being a non-Jew myself. (You can’t get the actors here.)

And in December I had my first and so far my only unpaid gig as a jazz singer, outside the supportive yet respectfully critical confines of professionally supervised workshops. It was not an unmitigated success, less from a performance point of view than because of the unexpected obstacle of having to compete with a woman selling ‘smoothies’ from a powered blender in the area next to us, in the awkward key of E; while the only member of the audience was a ten-year-old girl whose parents urgently dragged her away.

Halfway through the programme we had carefully rehearsed, my dying friend wandered in. ‘Oh hello’, she said. ‘Are you here?’ and, grabbing the microphone off the stand, announced that she proposed to sing ‘Autumn leaves’. It being, on reflection, quite an appropriate swansong; which she proceeded to warble while the pianist struggled to find her key and I prompted her with the actual lyrics. Happily, as one by one the leaves sadly fell, by the end she was still very much alive and wandered off again in a haze of antidepressants to continue her campaign of morbid disruption elsewhere.

I expect you have anticipated my feelings, then, on the subject of those who cling to this world like oversubstantial wraiths. While, as I said, one would not seriously wish anybody gone before their time, after all at 73 John Humphrys could simply hang up his soapbox and retire, the sound of their fingernails squeaking down the blackboard of life can sometimes be a little aggravating.

None of us can know the hour of our departure in advance, the random omnibus of Fate is even now charging towards us all from around the blind bend of Eternity, and so one cannot really blame those who succumb to an excess of premature morbidity in the exercise of their profession. It makes for a good story.

Journalists in particular have taken to biographising for our benefit, the remnants of their truncated lives lived under medical sentence; articles and broadcasts usually prefaced with misplaced regret that we do not ‘talk about death’ enough in our thoughtless pursuit of material happiness. A new Puritanism stalks the country.

And, oh my God, it’s a May Bank Holiday Saturday and once again the sports field half a mile away has come alive with the echoing, tinny cry of the tannoy, the splintered shards of unidentifiable muzak punctuated for the next 48 hours with unintelligible announcements, that shatters the relative peace of the valley and drills through the expensively double-glazed windows of my little garden studio.

There is no escaping the racket. Death’s silent dominion can seem too remote a consolation at such a time of year.

Spring. Who needs it.

Whizz, bang, pop: The Pumpkin – Issue 15. Plus: Beating the Retweet; Tending to the Extremes.

Mr Xi reveals he also has tiny hands. So far, so good.

Before we start, will the BBC please sack their supine, regime-compliant, uncritical so-called ‘Senior US Editor’ John Sopel? The man is a pathetic pushover, a Trump shill who makes no effort to investigate, establish or explain the unpleasant truths behind his shallow, cliche-ridden reports but merely contents himself with praising the satanic Orange Liar and its traitorous regime.

Fuck him. He is less a journalist than a PR baboon.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/live/bbcone

(Is it okay to say this sort of thing over the Interwhatsit? I mean, they won’t withdraw their advertising? Ed.)

For a complete contrast to the routine disgraceful normalisation of Trump’s dystopian White House in UK media, The Pumpkin suggests you read Adam Gopnik’s piece in The New Yorker, 6 April. It’s not as long as the URL would suggest:

http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-new-dark-art-of-trump-towerology?mbid=nl_TNY%20Template%20-%20With%20Photo%20(154)&CNDID=49581041&spMailingID=10780658&spUserID=MTkwODY5NzgyMTM0S0&spJobID=1140557724&spReportId=MTE0MDU1NzcyNAS2

Thank you, carry on.

x

Where’s this going?

By: Pumpkin Chief  America Editor, John Sopoor ©2017 @anywherebuthere

The world is agog. What does this overnight change of policy towards Syria mean?

My assumption is it means General McMaster is now running the country, and after rationalising the Bannon problem on the Security Council has taken Jared Kushner under his wing; while Ivanka will have “softened” her loving father’s approach with a few tearful, well-chosen words about dead “beautiful” children; as if Assad hasn’t been killing both beautiful and plug-ugly children indiscriminately by the thousand for the last six years while Trump supported his predecessor’s drone-infested non-intervention policy that he now says was responsible for the attack on Khan Sheikhoun. (The UN has charted 161 chemical attacks during that time.)

(And as if he didn’t have his goons throw a woman with a “beautiful” crying baby out of one of his campaign shenanigans last year. And as Jonathan Freedland points out in The Guardian today, as if Trump hasn’t been trying for weeks to ban Syrian children from fleeing to safety in the USA.)

It means that Mr Trump is holding a summit with President Xi today – ringside tickets at $200 thousand apiece – and wishes to send a strong signal from General McMaster that he means business over North Korea, business over the South China Sea, business over… er, business. Sixty cruise missiles at $832 thousand each just to crater an airfield is not a rap over the knuckles for Assad, it is a show that the Orange Oligarch can afford to blow $50 million of US taxpayers’ money on a one-night stand. Sixty missiles incidentally manufactured by Raytheon, a company listing as a stockholder, one… er, Donald J Trump.

It no doubt amused someone that President Xi learned about the assault over dessert. After all, did the Chinese not invent fireworks?

It means Mr Trump has had a chat with Mr Putin who has reluctantly agreed to get his men out of the target area while Mr Trump has a play with his missiles. Suitably patriotic images of their bright, hopeful rocket trails leaving US destroyers up past Old Glory into the night sky have been distributed, and Mr Trump’s weak and failing old eyes will have sparkled in the light. The chat probably took place a few days ago, when Mr Trump called to commiserate with Mr Putin over the St Petersburg train bombing.

Hope that it represents any sort of a coherent policy shift on Syria seems less certain. The mainstream media held in such contempt by Bannon/Trump has rushed yet again to hail this example of his maturity, firmness and wisdom, as they did after his disastrous budget speech that had only the virtue of not having been written by him. The media has got to stop normalising Trump and support those in government and the security services who are working to impeach him.

However much you respect the office, the tenant is not what you would wish him to be. He is a well-suspected financial criminal, a con-man, a compulsive liar, a nepotist and serial bankrupt with traitorous and amoral associates. He owes millions of dollars to your enemies’ private and State banks. He is so clueless and biddable as to be a danger to world peace. Find somebody better.

I am reliably informed by MSNBC that of the 530 vacancies in the State Department that opened up at the start of the Trump administration, for want of a better word, 76 days ago, including most of the top diplomatic positions, only 12 have so far been filled. There is still no China desk, so Mr McMaster will have had his work cut out preparing the ‘President’ for the summit.

The senior diplomat, the unqualified Mr Tillerson is operating virtually a high-wire act without a net: he travels with just a small clutch of ex-oil industry cronies and no press pack. He doesn’t trust civil servants, and indeed staffers have been ordered not to address him, or even to look at him directly. (This might be because he is too important, blindingly effulgent even, but it looks to me more like shame.)

It seems to suggest that negotiators with any Middle Eastern diplomatic experience are going to be thin on the ground, despite Kushner’s baptism of fire on a joint Iraq-Kurdish security round-table last week at which the only other US delegate supporting the 14-year-old plastic wunderkind appears to have been a man identified as one of Mr Trump’s personal bodyguard; a goon in a track-suit prominently displaying the Adidas logo.

Where I am struggling for air is to understand why no-one has asked if, the instant Mr Trump makes the inevitable gaffe with ‘Xi who must be obeyed’, the Chinese leader would not simply ask for the money back? Although China has recently dumped a lot of US debt, which has fallen to only $1.12 trillion (Japan is now America’s largest creditor), Mr Trump and his business associates have outstanding loans from Bank of China (and other banks) worth almost $1bn (Mother Jones).

Then, it wouldn’t be the first time the President has defaulted on his debt.

Only previously, he didn’t have the American taxpayer to cover it; and $50 million-worth of 1,000-lb whizzbangs to brandish at his creditors.

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False flag? So fake!

The usual response from the Russian smoke machine to accusations of foul play is that the victims must have murdered themselves or possibly killed their own children to gain some more effective intervention from the Western powers.

In the case of the attack on Khan Sheikhoun they played a minor variation, suggesting that kindly Syrian fighter-bombers must have accidentally struck a warehouse known to contain rebel supplies of Sarin gas, thus inadvertently releasing a poison cloud. (If it was known to contain banned chemical weapons, why was it allowed to be bombed? The Pumpkin was under the impression the Russians had cleared out all Assad’s stockpile three years ago?)

The ingenious theory was debunked today by Guardian journalist Kareem Shaheen, who managed to get into the small town in Idlib where he found that there was indeed such a warehouse, but that it contained only silos empty apart from some rotting grain, and hadn’t anyway been significantly damaged. While yesterday, the BBC unearthed a chemical weapons military expert who pointed out that any Sarin if hit by a bomb would have been destroyed, as it burns.

Of more use to the Russian case however is the question, why would Assad still be using poison gas on civilians, when he is so clearly now winning the war?

Was he confident there would be no American retaliation? Was it a test of the Trump administration? Are there rogue elements in his airforce hoping to drive a wedge between the Americans and the Russians to take the heat off ISIS? Was it force of habit, simple terrorism? Or is Sarin just cheaper than using high-explosive? And if the Shayrat airbase was indeed the point of departure for Syrian planes armed with Sarin bombs, why didn’t Trump order the silos destroyed with specialist nerve-gas-killing warheads, which the Americans have? Why did he leave the base operational?

No-one has yet succeeded in answering it, and may never do. None of it adds up.

But certainly it has been of enormous value to the flailing Trump administration, providing him at last with the opportunity to look tough and decisive in a popular (-ish) cause with little risk of starting WW3 at the same time as diverting salacious media attention away from FBI and Senate probes into the treachery, confusion, financial finagling, nepotism and rank incompetence in the White House.

A helping hand, possibly, from his friend and banker, Vladimir Putin?

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Beating the retweet

What is going on?

YouTube appears to be censoring critics of the Trump regime.

Since a number of large advertisers pulled out of Google and other social media platforms in protest at their ads appearing coincidentally alongside ISIS beheadings and other horrid content, several online news and comment channels have had their advertising pulled too.

But not by the advertisers who want to remain with them.

Having invested heavily in studio facilities, broadcaster David Pakman has been increasingly despairing as despite his three million weekly pay-per viewings his ad revenue slumped to a low of 34 cents on one day last week. Pakman was unable to get any information out of YouTube but has been told by his furious advertisers that they have been told that the mention of various keywords in his opening title sequence referring to controversial subject matter that might be discussed on the show has triggered the ad placement algorithms to shut down their advertising content, leaving him with only the few small sponsors he plugs on-air and his subscriber base.

The Pumpkin also likes to steal material from the Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell shows on MSNBC. In the past week, several issues of the broadcast have become ‘Content unavailable’, although the shows are listed in the sidebars to the main pages. Where the show is available, the picture has been messed with so that you get a small vignette of the actual show inset into a larger frame of just picture noise, or a tiled duplicate of the smaller frame; apparently for ‘copyright’ protection purposes, although there was no problem with copyright up to ten days ago. Not only that, but content posted as ‘NEW’ with a today’s or yesterday’s upload date is often found to be weeks old.

Both Keith Olbermann and Mike Malloy seem not to have added any new content the past week. If they did, I can’t find it: ‘current-date’ postings to the YouTube menu of both broadcasters are anything from one month up to 7 years old. And if Thom Hartmann, the one broadcaster on RT America who isn’t a propaganda mouthpiece for the Kremlin, hasn’t just taken a vacation, that show’s got a problem too; since he’s no longer around*. *Oh no, he’s back now.

What is going on?

These are not ‘fake news’ merchants, Islamists, religious cranks, global warming deniers or Russians, although they are occasionally strong and insightful critics of the Trump regime; that as the number of FBI and Senate investigations into his criminality goes on rising is increasingly meddling with internet service provision. Measures taken or mooted in the past week include ‘data-strip’ searches of travellers’ mobile devices, and extending rights to sell or pass on supposedly secure customer data without notice – including passing a law making it illegal to ever reverse the ruling.

YouTube is owned by Google. According to the Independent, Google could take a $750 million ‘hit’ while it sorts out its placement problem, five of the world’s largest advertisers having pulled out – with YouTube its hardest-hit subsidiary.

Has someone taken a decision to adversely impact channels specifically critical of the administration, under the smokescreen of a general boycott? Is the discussion content of these non-mainstream news programmes too much for Google’s delicate constitution to stomach – even while they continue to profit from selling your data to any and everyone? Or while the platform ad revenues slump, hopefully temporarily, is it more profitable to just not pass on the money to the content providers, thereby keeping the cash flowing?

What is going on?

(PS 23/04, advertisers seem to have discovered power: a boycott by 50 advertisers on Fox News has brought down the serial sex-pest, Bill O’Reilly, despite his huge… er, ratings.)

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Tending to extremes

A lengthy piece in the London Review of Books (7 January, 2016) by the legendary investigative journalist and war reporter Seymour Hirsh identified what has been a long-running civil war in US strategy over Syria, between the CIA and the Pentagon.

Their two opposing views formed in 2013 and highlight an obvious concern, ignored by the CIA, that continuing to arm and train the rebel forces against Assad would merely encourage the migration of moderate opposition groups to more hardline militias such as Jabhat al-Nusra and ensure a constant flow of arms to ISIS.

The CIA appeared to have learned little from the 1970s conflict in Afghanistan, where their creation of the Muhajideen force to counter the Russian insurgency – as in Syria also there by invitation – led to the growth of the Taliban. In 2013, the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, the DIA however, took the opposite view, in alignment with the Russian policy, arguing that Assad was the better option as his removal would inevitably lead to extremists taking over, as they had done in Libya after the downfall of Gadaffi.

And the Director of the DIA from 2011 to 2014 was… General Michael T Flynn.

Thus, according to the Hirsh account, a secret policy was adopted of supplying the Assad regime indirectly via allies including France and Germany with ‘leaked’ US military intelligence, behind the backs of the Obama administration.

The dilemma for all the Western nations in Syria has simply been that, while everyone identifies Assad as the villain of the piece, an urbane, softly spoken, courteous and well-educated torturing, murdering, psychopathic pragmatist who gas-bombs his own people, before the war his broadly secular regime represented and possibly still represents the best hope for stability in the region and a bulwark against Iranian-backed Shi’a extremism; which for some reason we still regard as worse than Saudi-backed Sunni extremism.

This is now, one would have thought, a pretty optimistic view. Without continued support, either from Russia alone or a coalition of the unwilling, Assad could not regain and retain power while spending hundreds of billions of dollars on reconstruction, without maintaining his brutal repression of opposition elements and a flow of cash from China. The Russians certainly can’t afford to rebuild dozens of ruined cities.

To say as Tillerson was until this morning, that the ‘Syrian people will decide’ who is to lead them is just fanciful: the prospect of holding free and fair national elections beyond Assad’s safe-area west of Damascus, dominated by his own Alawite party, is surely non-existent; even if the voters were to return from the refugee camps in Turkey and the chilly fields of Croatia and Bulgaria to their blasted cities, the disruption has been almost total. Were they able to, by some miracle, it is certain they would vote Assad out. You imagine he would contemplate that possibility for one moment?

Now, however, with Russian intervention designed to break the deadlock and create a barrier – with or without Assad – against the spread of  Islamist contagion northwards into the Caucasus, thus putting the Russians into direct conflict with the generally anti-Assad, non-interventionist policies of the NATO alliance, America is in a pretty impossible position: arming and training the same supposedly moderate militias the Russians are trying to obliterate, but with both sides taking direct action against ISIS under a shared-skies arrangement that has now broken down as a result of Moscow witholding co-operation in feigned protest against Trump’s gestural rocketing of the Shayrat airbase.

Paint Turkey into the picture, however, its complex love-hate relationship with Russia, the Kurdish nationalist dimension, the bizarre machinations of its president-for-life, and you start to run out of mental capacity to grasp the full canvas. (Especially when you add-in China’s soft-power ambitions in the region….)

So we’ll ignore all that and speculate wildly instead about the energy industry.

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Noble gases

One of the reasons no-one has been too exercised about the civil war in Syria is that Syria is not to any great extent an oil-producing nation; unlike its neighbour, Iraq; where the oilfields lie mainly in the northern area where Kurdish nationalist ambitions have created a proto- home state.

Offshore it’s a different story, with massive undersea gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean opening up opportunities for Israeli and US players.

Thus far, there appears to have been no exploration off the Syrian coast. But there seems to be no reason why the field should not extend that far north; indeed, there may be some additional reason for Moscow to take an interest: not to encourage, but to suppress competitive production.

The major fields under development are in the politically tortuous areas of Israeli waters, where an Oklahoma-based company called Noble Energy is sitting on massive reserves that are the subject of a legal action in the Israeli courts that has prevented them from exploiting their find. A decision is awaited later in the year.

The problem for all the energy players in the region is that there is so much gas under the sea – and maybe under the adjacent land; the Israeli- occupied Golan Heights, for instance – that prices have been tumbling; which naturally adds to Russia’s woes in the wake of the collapse in global oil prices; Russia being the dominant supplier in the region, and to Eastern Europe. But few buyers are willing to pile in to share in the bonanza if they know prices are only going to fall once they’ve signed the contract.

So it would be in Russia’s interests to restrict the supply of gas and force the price up; while at the same time using its Latakia and Tartus bases in Syria to break out of its Black Sea bailywick and project a little more ‘hard power’ in the region.

Noble, however (we’re not supposed to say who it is) in conjunction with an Israeli company, Delek, is talking of bypassing Syria to build an undersea pipeline directly to flood the Turkish energy market.

This would also conflict with Russia’s interests, as Gazprom is anxious to extend its market reach beyond the area of Ukraine, from which it profits little by exporting gas to a country that often fails to pay for it. And Gazprom also sells to Turkey and would not like to see its price undercut by Israeli gas. Turkey in turn is showing signs of fomenting trouble again in bi-partite Cyprus, which borders the gas fields to the west; and in other disputed Aegean islands. Does Erdogan have ambitions to explore and exploit his own ‘domestic’ energy sources?

There is the minor problem, too, that another major field is sitting off the coast at Gaza, discovered by British Gas. Israel is under pressure from Turkey to let the Palestinians immured in Gaza develop it as a means of providing themselves with a productive economy. There are both good and not so good reasons to say yes, since more prosperity for Gaza would reduce the hold of Hamas on the populace, but it’s being fiercely contested by rival interests.

And a shareholder in Noble is… President Donald J Trump. (Or was, under the Emoluments Clause he’s not supposed to be profiting from foreign investments; although the words ‘conflict’ and ‘interest’ are among the many thousands missing from his vocabulary.) Hence the presence of Noble director, George Papadopoulos as Foreign Energy Security advisor to the Trump team. (Another climate-change denier, incidentally, from the oil-soaked Hudson Institute.)

The Jerusalem Post (23 January reported on a productive meeting in Washington between Papadopoulos and ultra-right Israeli settler leader Yossi Dagan, after which George purred: “We are looking forward to ushering in a new relationship with all of Israel, including the historic Judea and Samaria” – settler code for the East Bank. Settlers are the last people who would approve a deal on gas with the Palestinians. In February, after a meeting with a bemused Prime Minister Netanyahu, Trump modified US policy on settlements and greenlighted a return to the ‘one-state solution’, effectively marginalising the Palestinians as second-class Israelis living permanently within a system of religious and ethnic discrimination.

Which might all sort of explain why General Flynn, who since leaving the Army has been earning (and failing to declare) large sums of money as a PR consultant of various kinds to the anti-Israel Erdogan regime, while also working for several Russian interests, and having fed all that US military intel to the Assad gang, is no longer persona grata in the Oval Office, and instead is urgently seeking the protection of the FBI.

A version of the story can be found on the RealNews channel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eO13RDfDWMQ

Welcome to Post No. 600!

Hi y’all

Welcome to Post Number 600!

On the most informative, innovative, foul-mouthed and stimulating organ available, anywhere on the inter-thing, ever.

Believe me, it’s so great.

You too can subscribe to our Special Offer: 600 Free Posts! Just dial-up the month you’d like to revisit, and be instantly whisked back to happier times.

Send as much money as you can, right now, and that way WordPress won’t need to put more ads on my site, that I get nothing out of.

Helping the BogPo to celebrate its 600th edition is Mr Ed Sheeran, the ginger oligarch. Well why not, he’s everywhere else!

“Why are we choosing now in a surly fashion to abrogate all our treaties with friendly neighbours, to cosy up to the most dangerously incompetent and out-of-control, protectionist administration in US history?”

Coming or going

As the PM this morning chucked the paper dart of Article 50 into the eye of our new French teacher, Monsieur Barnier, the dimly illuminated Empire-loyalist, neo-Thatcherite Tory MPs whose support for this lunacy persuaded me years ago that whatever the many flaws of the EU I would never vote to leave it, bellowed their delight like the cattle they are.

So bovine are they that they haven’t even noticed that Mr Putin is dancing a jig: they have played straight into the hands of the Disruptors, imagining that the European bureaucracy they’re bringing crashing down for the benefit of the Russian Federation is somehow worse than what will follow it.

It never occurred to these preposterously entitled, Cicero-quoting oafs and their malcontent Morlocks, the fish-porters of Sunderland, that we were not ‘giving our sovereignty away’: we were extending it over our neighbours. Now we shall have no further say in how they carry on their trade in the world, nor in what we can sell to a market of 450 million buyers we have simply handed over to our competitors. We shall just have to chance it, while these made-for-TV caricatures practise their silly walks up and down the white cliffs, waving their little flags and braying at foreigners.

Writing in The Guardian, Jonathan Freedland argues today that Theresa May’s speech to Parliament setting out her ambition for a negotiated departure from the EU contains virtually all the elements that would have made it worthwhile not leaving in the first place:

“The free trade, the close cooperation on security, the collective stance for liberal and democratic values, the soft, almost invisible, border between the Republic of Ireland and the north – these are the things she wanted. Yet the unavoidable truth is that this is what Britain already had and could have kept on having – but which it has chosen to discard.”

Exactly. I have asked many times, what was possibly to be gained by replacing one complicated set of trade rules and regulations that we’ve spent over 40 years cementing into place, with ad hoc speculative arrangements under the WTO where we have to start over again with unknown and possibly untrustworthy or hostile actors who are never going to add value with investment in our underperforming regions, research, higher education and industry sectors as the EU has done, in a more dangerous world that has already changed out of all recognition since the campaign began?

How is that even a sane policy?

Why are we choosing now in a surly fashion to abrogate all our treaties with friendly neighbours, to cosy up to the most dangerously incompetent and out-of-control, protectionist administration in US history? Why are we apparently prepared to put up with a situation wherein the number of EU nurses registering to work in the NHS has already fallen by 90% a month, while we’re scrapping educational supports – bursaries – for British trainee nurses? What do the Brexit mob think is going to happen to their precious NHS? It doesn’t run on money, it runs on people.

The illogicality of the Brexit position could not have been more clearly spelled out than by that egregious weasel, Bernard Jenkin MP, who told Newsnight on Monday that everything would be fine: we would be welcomed to go on trading in Europe because ‘our cars are the same as theirs’. (Yes, Bernard, the Yanks have just sold our GM Vauxhall plants to the French. Watch that space, you smarmy fuckhead.)

Where has this microcephalic Tory cipher been all these years?

My first client as ‘Head of PR’ for a gritty provincial advertising agency in 1985 was a company that made replacement exhaust pipes for cars. Every new model of car has a different floor-pan and hence, a different conformation of exhaust. There are thousands. Thanks to gaining EU ‘type approvals’ Harmo was able to sell its products to motorists driving VW and Fiat and Skoda and Citroen and Morris and Renault and Volvo cars made in France and Germany, in Britain and Spain, in Sweden and Italy and – eventually – the Czech Republic.

All Jenkin and his disconnected ilk would make of that list is ‘Immigrants’. Trade is something we do with the Empire, not with foreigners.

Had we not joined the EEC in 1973 and accepted a regime of ‘type approvals’, none of this would have been possible. What will happen, not tomorrow but in ten or fifteen years’ time, is very likely that standards in all product categories will drift apart again and markets will be lost. What interest would a French or German exhaust-pipe manufacturer have in giving away market share to the British?

It’s not a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater: we’re letting the water run all over the floor, bringing down the kitchen ceiling and smashing up the bath to get it through the door. And all for some anachronistic principle of British Exceptionalism.

Exceptionally stupid, if you ask me.

Waking up screaming

In the final days leading up to the triggering of Article 50 I felt numb with despair.

Not one media outlet in Britain had noticed something I had.  The ‘Westminster terror outrage’ was, yes, appalling, sickening – an inexplicable tragedy for the victims and their families – but probably rated a one on the seismograph of terror outrages, the salient point for the journo-political conspiracy being its location outside the Houses of Parliament, pricking for a moment the cosy security of the ‘Westminster bubble’.

What it did do was fill in the news agenda for almost the entire week before the 29th and Mrs May’s suicide letter to President Tusk, conveniently obscuring an uncomfortable truth that emerged for just an instant during the tedious five-hour marathon of a US Congressional Intelligence Committee hearing the previous Monday; the proceedings of which I partly followed on YouTube.

I did not know who to tell. To be more precise, having no access to the appropriate social media in this day and age, no Bookface or Whatsagram or whatever is the current  ‘platform’ of choice for news editors, I could not think of a way to alert anyone, even if they would listen. Why had nobody noticed? Were editors deliberately turning a blind eye, or had there been simply too much going on with the new White House administration, its disasters and chaos, its incompetence and spectacular crony capitalism, its nepotistic appointments and barefaced kleptomania for one more minor detail to reach the surface of the swamp?

I managed to write about it three times on The Guardian website, but who reads those Comments apart from other trolls? It was difficult to find an opportunity as Comments are disallowed beneath so many stories involving ‘haram‘ issues – anything to do with Muslims, immigration, Theresa May – and US politics. Comment threads, too, are shut off arbitrarily: a story might appear overnight and Comments be closed by the morning, regardless of whether it has 50 or 1500 contributions. At other times your Comment might be rejected with a curt note to say the thread is closed, when it doesn’t say anywhere that it is.

I wrote then to my MEP, who has an active noticeboard campaigning with her colleagues in the Assembly – first to Remain, which was brave as the majority of Welsh constituents had obviously decided they’d had enough of freeloading on huge subsidies from Brussels and preferred to slit their own throats; and later to try to obtain the best deal possible for Wales from our new dictatorship in Westminster.

There was no reply, obviously, so I wrote next to my long-suffering MP, a pro-Remain Lib-Dem. But by then it was too late, only two working days to go and realistically no way to stop the process.

One morning during all this, very early in the still-darkness, I woke up screaming. Has that ever happened to you? Something about the sleep routine  means you are almost never aware of becoming unconscious: your cognitive process shuts down milliseconds before lights-out. But on rare occasions you wake up at the exact moment when you are falling asleep, in a state of paralysis, with a terrifying impression of some existential crisis about to overwhelm you: a huge wave crashing through the window, the blast of a nuclear explosion – or, in this instance, an assassin come to kill me for writing this stuff.

It was the cat.

What had so exercised me was the point in the proceedings apparently unnoticed by the world when the FBI Director, James Comey, giving testimony, agreed with the Ranking Member, Congressman Adam Schiff, that the Russians had almost certainly interfered with the ‘Brexit’ process, as they had done with the US general election in November. He gave no details, alluded to no evidence – yet he would of course not have said it if there were none.

Mr Comey had just confirmed that the agency is – or was, it appears the White House is doing whatever it can to divert or shut down such enquiries – looking into the role Russia played, both in the hacking of servers used in the Democrats’ campaign and in the possible abuse of process that may have involved extensive undeclared ‘foreign agent’ connections involving people close to Mr Trump, maybe the President himself. Connections a number of transition-team members and Trump appointees have been caught out lying about.

Naturally he was unable to reveal the evidence on which the enquiry is proceeding. It’s obviously a serious matter as a number of Russian diplomats and bankers have died of  ‘natural causes’, such as falling off a roof, since Mr Trump took office; including the UN Ambassador, whose post mortem results were immediately labelled Classified. And so we have only that brief, tantalising answer to the question put by Mr Schiff: did Mr Comey believe the Russians also interfered with ‘Brexit’?

Yes, he did.

So are we likely to find out more?

Well, possibly no. The chairman of the Intel committee, Congressman Devin Nunes is behaving so strangely that no-one understands what is going on, but it seems he is unilaterally refusing to hold any further hearings; which, according to the New Yorker, he has claimed have already been held in private at his home, although no other members of the committee, whether Democrat or Republican, were informed.

Why? What is going on? Everyone agrees, Mr Nunes – who refuses to recuse himself from an inquiry in which he obviously has a conflict of interest – has been ‘persuaded’ to prevent at any cost the former Acting Attorney General, Sally Hughes, from testifying about what she knows about General Flynn and how he came to be sacked as National Security Advisor. Mr Flynn has now let it be known, he is turning States evidence against the Trump clique.

Mr Manafort, Trump’s disowned former campaign manager too is reportedly considering his options as his activities on behalf of foreign governments and the apparent use of money-laundering in order to provide him with undeclared payments amounting to many millions of dollars are seemingly incriminating him to a fatal degree.

You must therefore understand that if a ranking Congressman can be got at in this way, the Russia thing, which points to some treason on the part of the President’s ‘closest advisors’, to put it circumspectly, is a very big deal indeed. Minor details like interference with a British referendum that could ultimately wreck the EU aren’t going to exercise anyone much in Washington.

And I have been a bit obsessive lately over the work of renegade individuals – mostly ultra-wealthy men or groups supported with laundered Russian money – whom I call ‘Disruptors’.

These are non-political party affiliated actors seeking to disrupt the normal workings of our democratic institutions in a variety of opportunistic ways: whether to gain influence over elected representatives, to defeat what they perceive as attempts to curtail their business activities, to establish a global theocracy or to assert the dominance of the ‘white race’; all of which themes have emerged from my lazily superficial researches.

You see, it’s not only the Russians. I’ve become acutely sensitive to the slightest signs of conspiratorial behaviour involving individuals, organizations, governments and countries on my low-wattage radar.

Thus it was that, meandering for a little peace and quiet through the pages of this month’s issue of The Oldie, a bedside vade mecum for intelligent upper middle-class readers of my generation and beyond, I came across just the briefest mention of something that made my right eyebrow rise sharply in a Bondian rictus of disbelief.

About halfway through an otherwise gentle stroll in the park by regular contributor Stephen Glover, criticising the curious decision to appoint the former Chancellor and sitting MP, George Osborne to the editorship of the London Evening Standard, a post for which he has no other qualification but celebrity*, I read the following (you will know of course that the Standard is 70% owned by a recently downgraded billionaire Russian exile, Mr Alexander Lebedev and his playboy son Evgeny, 37, who is the managing director):

“Rather bizarrely, when Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were plotting Brexit at Johnson Towers in Islington a little over a year ago, the young Russian was in attendance at dinner.”

Literally intrigued, I read on. Nothing; the author was in haste to come on to Ms Liz Hurley, as any of our generation might be, another invited guest; and speculate as to why she had failed to attend, so that no further illumination was forthcoming.

All we have are those two introductory words: ‘Rather bizarrely’. What does Mr Glover mean? What is ‘bizarre’ about an influential young Russian oligarch privately dining with two senior British politicians?

I have no evidence that Mr Lebedev is a Disruptor, he seems too caught up in his busy social life, including being friends with former Prime Minister, David Cameron – the varnished buffoon who bet the house, literally, on Britons voting in favour of the European Project, and lost.

Mr Cameron has had some fairly ‘disruptive’ friends in the past, indeed he seems to invite them, especially from the Murdoch camp. (Mrs May seems more enamoured of Mr Dacre of the Mail.) And now here is Mr Cameron’s friend and fellow Remainer, Mr Osborne, receiving some sort of – is it a reward? from the Lebedevs – at least one of whom was party to a private conversation between the two leading plotters against Mr Cameron to, effectively, bring down the European Union.

And we all know who is pushing that envelope, or whatever the expression is.

If you’ll pardon me saying so, something smells not quite right.

31 March: It’s reported this morning that Mr Osborne is absent from his desk at the Standard on only his second day in the job as he has had to pop across to Paris to deliver a lucrative speech about something or other. Clearly neither Mr Lebedev nor the BlackRock corporation is paying Mr Osborne enough between them to keep the wolf from the door, or his feet to the floor. It seems clear already that his appointment is simply going to put more work onto his underpaid minions.

Selfish cunt.

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“If you have a system that prioritises emergency cases over merely urgent ones, it must inevitably lead to a situation where the urgent case becomes an emergency, and you still can’t manage it.”

The massacre of the innocents

At what point does organisational failure become more like institutionalised murder?

From the BBC report:

“Kayden Bancroft was 20 months old when he died at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH), following repeated delays to urgent surgery. Whistleblowers allege the trust’s focus was on “ballooning” waiting lists rather than emergency care.

“The hospital admitted that failings occasionally occurred.”

Which execrable moral imbecile from the Central Manchester University Hospitals Trust’s PR department made that callous comment, calculated to reassure Kayden’s family that everything possible was done to save children’s lives, occasionally?

The kid was admitted after an accident. He’d suffered a hiatus hernia – basically his stomach had penetrated his diaphragm. A simple operation would have  fixed it. Instead, he was deliberately left to die in a general ward for a week while no intensive care bed could be found owing to “other emergencies”. The injury temporarily stopped his heart. He died from anoxia – brain death due to lack of oxygen. It took two days.

They couldn’t even keep him alive on a ward.

But oh, yes, sorry, we do occasionally murder small children, admitted the Manchester Fred Karno’s army, because we’re a bunch of incompetent, uncaring cucks with clipboards, who couldn’t run ten yards let alone manage a place where 20-month-old children aren’t supposed to die from easily remediable causes. In fact we’re thinking of turning ourselves into a suburban-estate convenience store on Monday, we might possibly be able to manage that if we can get the staff and work out how to pay them.

“Senior surgeons at the hospital told the BBC that they had repeatedly tried to warn trust management about problems, including a shortage of emergency operating theatres and intensive care beds at the hospital.

“But the trust told the BBC: “We believe that there are sufficient theatres in our children’s hospital to cope with the demand for emergency cases; however, on occasions some children (they have names, you fucking cowards) do have to wait for urgent surgery while emergency surgery takes place.”

Note that: “We believe”. Actually, ladies and gentlemen, first-degree murderers, it’s your job to KNOW, not to fucking “believe”. Life on the medical frontline isn’t a matter of “belief”. Systems management isn’t a matter of “belief”. Reliance on “belief” in systems management is or should always be a sacking offence: professional misconduct. You should fucking KNOW. And where it leads to such easily avoidable loss of life of a small child, for Christ’s sake, a SMALL CHILD with a remediable condition, it should be a POLICE matter.

You see, if you have a system that prioritises emergency cases over merely urgent ones, it must inevitably lead to a situation where the urgent case becomes an emergency, and you still can’t manage it.

Would you like me to say that again? Just in case the logic escapes you?

So if there weren’t sufficient theatres and beds in a children’s hospital in a large city to treat an injured little boy, in obvious opposition to their “belief” in their flawed system, why didn’t they just fly him to Great Ormond Street, or anywhere – Bristol, Poland – where he might have got the urgent treatment their own experts said he needed?

Because they “believed” their own lies.

So a bright little kiddy with all his life ahead of him has to wait a week to become an “occasional” statistic because the Central Manchester University Hospitals Trust is a bunch of bungling, murdering incompetents, amateurs and delusionary liars, believers in their disastrously theoretical system, who could not be “trusted” to look after a public toilet, let alone something as complicated as a hospital; as simple as an injured child.

And you imagine in the wake of Article 50 that with a quarter of EU-citizen doctors and nurses already leaving the country because the Lizard Woman is using them as pawns in her little game with Europe, more little Kaydens aren’t going to be murdered by our dysfunctional, rotting health service, its doctors who are terrified of speaking up against the little Hitlers with clipboards, incapable of managing their own departments, of taking charge in an emergency where the clipboards have so clearly failed?

Last week we heard from the Health Secretary, Mr Hunt, when he turned up at a memorial service for another toddler, William Mead, 2, from Cornwall, who died of septicaemia – an increasingly common condition – after a desperate call to the 111 service was dealt with by someone with no proper training or medical knowledge.

The Health Secretary said he, the NHS and the Government had “let down” William Mead, who died in December 2014.

“Speaking at the private service in Truro Cathedral, Mr Hunt said: “I as Health Secretary, the Government and the NHS let down William.”

“Mr Hunt said he also accepted he had failed William’s parents Paul and Melissa, who had organised the service to thank to the local community for their support following the tragedy. “I’ve come here to say sorry,” Mr Hunt told the congregation.” – The Telegraph, 26 March.

Well, that was big of him. It’s the first sign that the Government is starting to understand that they’re not only failing children, and the elderly, parents and communities – but also the NHS itself. It’s the first sign of how very unhappy Mr Hunt is in his impossible, lousy job. Government ministers are not supposed to show humanity, to crack under pressure and start apologising for the deficiencies of their departments; the consequences of their inaction. They’re supposed to say things like; “But we’re spending ten billion pounds between now and the next election, so there’s no problem, whatever the experts are telling you.”

And today we learn that waiting times for surgical procedures will have to be extended beyond the current target of 18 weeks.

Not enough beds. Not enough resources.

Not enough compassion in Lizard-land.

Not enough competence in the Trusts.

Not good enough.

x

Clickbait

On top of a measure to reverse ALL environmental legislation passed during President Obama’s eight years in office, including the US signature on the now futile Paris Accord – we’re already way past that – Orange Satan just signed away your right to any remaining privacy you might have enjoyed on any of the major internet platforms. Gone. Finished.

Not just the privacy of your personal communications; not just for security purposes, but all your data, for commercial and any other purposes one might think of. Blackmail, possibly? Bank fraud?

Now, that doesn’t mean They’re reading this, muh li’l bogl, practically no-one is, which is fine by me, I’ll accept posthumous recognition. And the betting on Capitol Hill is that it won’t pass the Senate. Nevertheless.

What Mr Trump is happy for Google and Amazon and Apple and Verizon and all the other ‘knowligarchs’ of the internet world to do is to use their records, not just of the content but of, literally I am told, every keystroke, every mouse-click – they can even see when you’re only hovering over a button with your mouse or your trackpad, what you’re only considering looking at – and every search term you enter, in my case however confusing, to find out more about you than you know yourself, more than your mom knows, and to pass those assessments on to anyone who will pay them money for it – or attempt to influence your voting habits.

I suppose encryption will be made illegal, too, opening you up to financial fraud on a colossal scale (the Russians deserve some reward) and bringing down the banking system again.

To advertisers, sponsors, e-tail portals – local government authorities, insurance companies – the security services; not what you bought online, or voted for, who you contacted – but what you even thought about looking at or voting for or contacting…. Information I should have thought was mostly pretty useless, but maybe not.

What kind of business would even consider keeping all this stuff which you or I would throw away? It’s trashcan investigation; going through virtual dumpsters to check your ready-meal wrappers, your supermarket receipts, notes of phone numbers – to sniff your worn shoes for traces of cocaine, traceable dogshit – whatever. They’re even collecting your face, your fingerprint! (You think fingerprint recognition is so you can be secure?)

I think 600 Posts might be just about enough to last my lifetime. The option of disconnecting from this heap of shitty spyware I seem to have allowed into my home at great expense is beginning to look real and sensible. Why? Am I a spy, a fifth columnist, a hacker, a demonstrator, a criminal – a terrorist?

No, none of those things. I am a human being – not a number, a free man – and I expect to have control over my own life without being coerced and manipulated and pried-into and assumed to be this or that,  by the kind of prurient garbage-suckers who infest this subterranean sewer; the  intrusively authoritarian and exploitative, self-appointed Disruptors of our rapidly disintegrating liberal democracy, the fucking Stasi of post-consumer-capitalist corporations and their databases.

Yes, I occasionally write about myself on The Boglington Post; revealing only a version of me that I feel in control of. This is different.

You see, what this is about is not public safety. Don’t fucking use the word ‘innocent’ to me, no-one is innocent, no-one, of crimes yet to be defined as such.

It’s about reinforcing the legal rights of corporations over those of the ordinary citizen.

Which is why, for example, the Conservative ‘Freedom caucus’ of the Republican party in Congress is threatening ‘the nuclear option’ (they probably mean it literally) if Judge Neil Gorsuch is not confirmed as Trump’s appointment to the Supreme Court bench.*

US news sources find that the man even the liberal media have been saying is not such a bad pick, a reasonable-sounding if a tad conservative guy, has never, not once, in a case involving a legal argument between a registered company and an individual citizen, ruled against the corporate interest – even in one notorious case when he was the standout ruling in a circuitappeals court where the complainant, an employee of a major distribution company, had been dismissed for disobeying a company order which, if he had obeyed it, would have cost him his own life.

The judge ruled for that big company against the little guy – who’s been blacklisted and out of work ever since. (US ‘justice’ takes a while, it was seven years.)

To establish the pattern I am trying to expose by this example, they also find that Judge Gorsuch – who has presumably never personally been ordered by his employer to stay with his broken-down trailer rig in minus 30 degrees an hour after the repair truck has failed to make it through and he’s out of gas – has been financially sponsored, perfectly legally, throughout his career by one Philip Anschutz.

Mr Anschutz’s personal worth is estimated by Forbes magazine at $18.5 billion. He owns a 300 thousand-acre ranch in Wyoming, and two five-star resorts. “Over five decades (from, they write, a position of near-bankruptcy when he took over a small bidness from his dad) Phil Anschutz has built fortunes in oil, railroads, telecom, real estate and entertainment.”

You imagine Judge Gorsuch, the protégé of such a man, would ever rule against the corporate interest? Thus, he is the darling of the Conservative caucus in the Republican party, a 29-strong group composed entirely of late-middle-aged rich men with hearts of purest flint.

If he has a saving grace, it is that Anschutz owns a private windfarm – the largest in America – and endowed a modern art museum from his own collection. He’s a billion-dollar philanthropist, a throwback to the Rockefellers, the Mellons, the Carnegies and the Rothschilds; the endlessly renewable generation of  gentlemen and ladies who rammed their stakes into your ground, turned your commons into cash, set their goons on you when you asked for your share, took you for every penny you had and brilliantly invented a form of plastic money called credit to lend your money back to you at 29.9% interest when you couldn’t afford to buy their stuff working for them on minimum wage.

And when their banks bundled up your debts and sold them to one another for 70% commissions and went bust, you bailed them out to the tune of $13 trillion.

*Justice Gorsuch was indeed confirmed, following a change to the rules. His first ruling within a week has been to use his casting vote to overturn an appeal against a man’s death sentence.

Get it into your head, America. To ‘drain the Swamp’ you have voted instead for a great, black, stinking cesspit of murderers, liars, rapists, environmental criminals, traitors and conmen.

Plutocrats.

To quote the indefatigable Wikipedia: “Plutocracy or plutarchy, is a form of oligarchy and defines a society ruled or controlled by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens.”

These are the people to whom in the past 30 years the internet and its capacity for seemingly infinite storage has granted the capability to rule your world by any possible means, to monitor and manipulate through ‘data capitalism’ every aspect of your life from your political allegiance to your purchasing habits to your medical records, discovering what you do in bed, or in the bathroom; what you have in your fridge; where (and if) you work – who you know, where you are, where you’ve been, what your penis looks like – because you were dumb enough to show them – even to the bit where you hover over the Off button and say to yourself, this is not my world, not the world I want to leave to my grandchildren – if they survive Mr Trump’s forthcoming environmental apocalypse.

Is this President the most evil man on earth?

Or just clickbait?

Did the Russians fuck with the referendum? And we’ll leave the comments page to ‘Mr Osborne’.

Her Majesty the Queen today signed the bill giving Theresa May the go-ahead to send a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, formally invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, requesting permission for Britain to leave the European Union.

The Dumbfucks have won. And I’ve taken down my Remain poster. I may slit my wrists later.

Postscriptum: 20 March

Whooosh… over to Capitol Hill, where the excellent Democrat Representative Adam Schiff, chairing a Congressional hearing, put one very interesting question to FBI Director James Comey, who had just repeated for the umpteenth time that there was no evidence that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower, even with the help of the British – something demented Orange Satan is STILL continuing to insist is true, even though his only source was Fox News, who got it from Steve Bannon.

Asked if he believed that Russian intelligence could have been in any way likely to have interfered with Brexit and European elections, Comey replied, in so many words, ‘Yes’, he did.

Let’s hope this tiny incidental detail gets magnified out of all proportion in tomorrow’s press, as no-one appears to have noticed it yet: the FBI believes Russia interfered in our referendum.

Time for a re-run.

 

“The turkeys didn’t bother to wait for Christmas, they voted for Easter.”

Tuesday morning dawns

Urgh. Was that last double vodka before bed a good idea? On top of the wine?

I seem to remember, too, posting a fairly blunt and offensive comment just before I toddled off, on the worthy and wholly undeserving of scorn Guardian Today website, having immediately read that 300-odd gutless, supine and hypocritical, £75k a year Members of the House of Commons, most of whom would at one time have supported the Remain camp, had voted down two perfectly sensible and civilized amendments the House of Lords had inserted into the bill allowing the dried-up old stork, Theresa May, to trigger Article 50 on the basis of having no plan at all for getting out of the EU.

Davis, ‘Doctor’ and Boris (centre)

One amendment tried to offer some residency protection for two million EU nationals living perfectly legally in the UK, many of them with British families; hopefully thereby also to protect our own citizens working or retired abroad. Who could possibly object to that, or argue with any sanity that it ‘ties Mrs May’s hands behind her back’ (it’s a thought. Ed.) when it comes to her comedy trio of hapless negotiators, the Wilson, Kepple and Betty of Chevening House,  trying to screw some sort of hastily cobbled-together ‘deal’ out of the 27 before we float away and sink with all hands?

What it tried to do, a last despairing gesture, was to offer some kind of hope that we still live in a decent and humane society, an open democracy where our elected representatives can still stand up for the right.

Sadly not.

Nor, it seems, do we any longer live in a Parliamentary democracy. It has been the unelected Mrs May’s devout wish that Parliament should not stand in her way when it comes to Brexit, a theoretical process she once decried, but now over which she has grasped total control, embodying as she does, like fucking Boudicca on her chariot, ‘the Will o’ the People’.

So the second amendment proposed by the Lords, who have also now folded their arms for fear that Dacre of the Mail will set his patriotic bloodhounds on them, was that Parliament should have a vote on any final deal.

And she has got her wish. The turkeys did not bother to wait for Christmas, they voted for Easter.

Pathetic, pusillanimous, scared little self-protecting baboons, lacking all resolve in the face of threats of deselection by the Dumbfucks in their constituencies, they voted to save their own fat or scrawny arses, selling their principles for a peck of power – little realising, or maybe they did, that they’ve just committed the British constitution and the sovereignty of Parliament to a dictatorship.

Like her friend Mr Trump also unelected by the majority vote, Mrs May, who clearly massively overestimates herself, seems intent on ruling sola through an unelected, faceless cabinet of assorted advisors and cronies, in a bubble of dubious provenance and with no published strategy other than to take charge. Seriously, does she appear to have any political friends and allies outside her own inner circle of PR wonkettes?

Are we to expect an alt-right, Christian fundamentalist platform to emerge? Will the Daily Mail rename itself Breitbart News? Is there some massive corruption of the billionaires and the free, unfettered movement of stolen capital behind the coup? Has Britain too been taken without a shot being fired, by the Putin global power machine?

These are dark days. We are all good little boiled frogs now.

x

Oceans apart

A mystery Tweet has apparently been posted on McDonalds’ official bulletin board – and then hurriedly taken down – describing Mr Trump as a ‘Disgusting excuse of a President’.

Unimpressed, Mr Trump is known to be a fan of the fast-food restaurant chain for undiscriminating fat people with baseball hats and no teeth. His favourite burger is said to be ‘Fish Delight’.

So do we now have another clue as to his sexual preferences? ‘Fish Delight and pipi-shake to go. And make it fast, Pussy.’

To spoil the show, however, it appears that even this is an example of the President’s alternative fake news machine (brain): there is no such mouthwatering recipe on the McDonalds’ menu as Fish Delight. It’s actually called, in Franglais, ‘Filet-o’-fish’.

No excuse. None. So bad.

 

Okay, I’m sorry, but.

By: Ernst von-und-zu Bogl, professor emeritus of Crony Capitalism and Influence-Peddling Studies at the University of Wagga-Wagga, Australia. ©2017. @tryprovingit.con

Hailed by some in the business as ‘fake news’, not without justification, it’s been reported just now that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, is to be the new editor of the London Evening Standard; believed to be a newspaper, as well as the personal social diary of owner, Yevgeny Lebedev.

It is almost impossible, in my view, to counter the 99.999% probability that since this time last year we have somehow wriggled through a wormhole in space/time, to find ourselves in another universe – of which, I am told, there are many.

This universe bears a strong relationship to, and may very well therefore be the same, as the one in which Oxford mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as the author Lewis Carroll, woke up in 1871, shortly before creating his best-selling children’s story, Alice Through the Looking Glass.

According to a BBC report apparently based on a press release and a few hastily telephoned quotes,

“Mr Osborne had ambitions to be a journalist as a young man. He failed to get a place on The Times’ trainee scheme after graduating from Oxford University in 1992 and was briefly a freelance reporter on the Daily Telegraph’s diary column.” (for which read, intern with wealthy parents and an allowance enabling him to barely survive living in a dumpster).

“If at first you don’t succeed…” is of course the Osborne family motto.

‘Mr Osborne’, who resigned his post as Chancellor last June after he and his close friend, ‘Mr Cameron’ failed to get a majority for the Remain side in the EU referendum, fully intends to carry on as the £75k a year-plus-expenses backbench Conservative MP for Tatton, in well-heeled Cheshire; although his liberal leanings were, apparently, one of the reasons why his appointment makes so much sense, according to Aleksandr Lebedev’s socialite son Evgeny, who manages the title for papa.

Another is presumably his experience at devising austerity policies.

There is no word as yet of ‘Mr Osborne’s salary, but it is unlikely to be less than the mid-six-figures. ‘Mr Osborne’ has also in the last fortnight taken up a £650k a year ‘advisory’ post, hardworking one day a week for top global fund management porker, BlackRock.

And then there’s the family business, the top-people’s wallpaper company Osborne & Little (£200 a roll). Oh, and he has also become visiting  ‘Kissinger Fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership’ in the USA. Yes, that’s the wanted war-criminal and geriatric Nazi, ‘Dr’ Henry Kissinger and chipmunk-faced ex-POW Senator John McCain, who President Trump doesn’t much like.

Blimey, he’s going to need his Bob the Builder hard-hat to cover all that ground.

His new employer – the father, not the son – is an interesting character, isn’t he. An ‘oligarch’, although Forbes magazine has pushed him out of the billion dollar bracket, the former KGB economics specialist Alexander Lebedev owns, or owned, a Russian investment bank that is in turn a part-owner of Sberbank (see previous Pumpkin).

He is reportedly no friend of Mr Putin’s. According to The Telegraph, he risks assassination or imprisonment if he should return to Russia.

Curious, because he has often defended Putin in print. In April 2016, writing in his own paper (Lebedev promised publicly on acquiring his British newspaper empire, including the now-defunct Independent, that he would never interfere in editorial policy), the philanthropic proprietor used his pages to distance himself from allegations that Putin was skimming sales of State assets and laundering vast sums, instead using the piece to settle some old scores with fellow oligarchs he claimed were colluding with Western banks to launder their ill-gotten gains; writing:

“…the executives who stole from me did so with the help of blue-chip banks and law firms in London, Switzerland and New York. Highly paid, professional British, American and Swiss bankers and lawyers — not just “dodgy Russians” — assisted in suspicious, and in many cases, absurdly bogus transactions.”

A quite extraordinary thing to claim in a column in a local newspaper! (Except that London is where much of the money ends up being invested in insanely overpriced properties.)

We, that is the Editorial board of The BogPo, of which I myself am the sole oligarch, hope and trust fervently that the new Editor of the Evening Standard will maintain as rigid an editorial framework as his predecessor (now the editor of the increasingly bland and supine, formula-driven Today show on Radio 4), Ms Sarah Sands.

And by the by, I’m sure readers will wish to lift a magnum of Bollinger and join me in wishing Sir Philip Green many hearty congratulations on his 65th birthday!

– Herr Professor Doktor Ernst von-und-zu Bogl, is owner and editor-in-chief-at-large of The Boglington Post.

(Sent from aboard the BHS Arcadia, Boglèry-sur-Mer, France-sud)

 

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 9: Bugger! Trump speaks in sentences! Greatest speech in history, ever. Believe me.

“I don’t know what the hell it says, some stuff, but Bannon says it’s my signature o.k., so we’ll run with it”

Bugger! Wire we doing this?

“Mr Trump, who is at his Florida resort, fired off a series of tweets from just after 06:30 local time (11:30 GMT) on Saturday. He called the alleged tapping “a new low” and said “This is Nixon/Watergate” – BBC News

Trump’s latest wheeze, creating fake news to shift the blame for Whiteyleaks onto his new hate figure, Emmanuel Goldstein Obama, by suggesting with no evidence whatever that the former President left a bug in the Trump Tower, is just the orange manchild’s way of denying the leaks are coming from his own staff and the FBI.

And the poor fuckwit doesn’t even understand, Nixon bugged his own office. That’s where the notorious White House Tapes came from. It wasn’t an FBI black op, ‘Tricky Dicky’ was so vain and insecure he recorded everything for posterity. Even the bad bits.

Once the tapes were finally subpoena’d by the Special Prosecutor, they showed the extent of Nixon’s potty-mouthed and devious corruption, his involvement in ordering the break in at the Watergate complex to steal the Democrat Party’s campaign plans.

Mr Trump has therefore just admitted that his transition team probably has enough dirt to hang him out to dry.

‘We’re Americans, we have no idea even where Russia is.”

Bye bye. It’s been fun.

x

Reading between the outlines

What has happened to the BBC, that used to be famed for its impartiality?

I listened to an hour of the flagship R4 Today programme, er, today and anyone would imagine we had woken up on a new rocky, watery planet orbiting a star only 40 light years away by Space-X shuttle.

Total, uncritical reception. The worst they could find any London-based American journalist to say about Trump’s miraculous rebirth was that he didn’t write the speech himself. That was the New York Times man. Otherwise the vox pops, the studio reactions, the long-distance interviews with stunned Congressmen – it was as if the last 38 days had all been a bad dream.

Politicians at that level seldom do write their own speeches. Especially ones as important as this. There’s been a growing movement in Congress to have Trump impeached. Seemingly the problem was that there were so many grounds for firing him, nobody could decide which to go for. His approval ratings in the country are abysmal – only 42 per cent think he’s doing a good job, the worst anyone can remember after so short a period in office.

This was a shit-or-bust speech.

And unless Trump has only been pretending to be a grammatical imbecile all these months, it seems likely someone was putting those silvery, honeyed, joined-up words into his normally angry, lying, confused mouth.

To get any kind of an objective view of the speech he made to Congress, it is necessary to turn to those alternative sources we can get here, carried via short clips on YouTube: MSNBC – Rachel Maddow. TYT (The Young Turks). John Oliver of SNL (can’t stand those ‘satire’ shows for lowbrow whoopers). David Pakman. Keith Olbermann. Sam Harris. Mike Molloy. RT – Thom Hartmann.

These are not moan-for-Hillary neolibtards and commie pinkos narrowcasting from within their snowflake paperweight bubbles, they are pretty serious people (given the obvious constraints of having to explain anything a bit complicated to their fellow Americans), some of them ex-journalists and newscasters, and they all have egos, but they are all renegades who are free to stray beyond the bland boundaries of the mainstream media to share their concerns and join some of the dots.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the Socialist presidential candidate who was forced to throw his mass of support behind the disastrous Clinton bid, has for instance delivered a sober deconstruction on TYT Nation of the speech and the policies whose outlines need very much to be read between.

This was a speech for corporate America. $3 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthiest one per cent. The removal, virtually, of corporation tax on big companies who already pay little or no tax and offshore enough wealth to provide free healthcare for all, a free college education, or rescue the economies of Haiti or Venezuela (which, no, they’re not going to do). An increase of nine per cent in the military budget – $56 billion, of which most will inevitably go to line the already overstuffed pockets of private defense contractors. ‘A trillion dollars’ (where’s he borrowing that from?) to be spent on private infrastructure projects. Cuts to welfare programs, public education. More vague promises of a new version of the just about adequate existing affordable healthcare program, to restore the ruddy health of private healthcare and insurance corporations. The blatant hypocrisy of talking about ‘clean air and water’ when Trump has already signed off measures relaxing pollution controls for his coalmining funders, the Fabulous Koch Brothers, and appointed corrupt overseers to eviscerate the environmental agencies. Nothing but vague promises of past their sell-by-date jobs for the 40 million living on the breadline; deportations and broken families for the rest.

Nothing but the tone has changed. It’s a budget by a serial bankrupt, for national bankruptcy. Theft on a grand scale. The US is in hock to the tune of $20 trillion already – what’s a few trillions more? We’ve got the biggest, most expensive army in the world, it’s gonna be bigger – who’s going to make us pay it back?

The fact that Trump has managed to deliver a speech appealing for calm and unity (who, I wonder, created the panic and disunity in the first place?) in joined-up, honeyed words without totally fucking it up does not detract for one moment from what has gone before:

…the lies, the incompetence, the chaos, the bullying, the  despair of staffers, the appointments of ringers, the shameless plugging of his family business interests, the stubborn refusal to publish his incriminating tax returns, the brutalities of his immigration policies that are licensing gum-chewing hicks to persecute Muslims and Hispanics and people of colour legally resident in the country and to impound and turn back travellers whose origins are suspect even if their visas aren’t – even former Prime Ministers: the litany of appalling horrors that have crawled out of this bizarre Oval Office in just a month, calumny upon calumny…

…not to ignore the gathering storm over his possible links via crooked associates and dodgy bankers and money-launderers and oligarchs to organised crime and hostile foreign powers, the huge debts he is said to have accumulated that leave him vulnerable to blackmail and provide him with the necessity to exploit his position for personal gain, to promote supine and self-interested incompetents to positions of power who will never challenge him…

…or the rampant electoral dishonesty engineered by the Republican party with the aid of so-called ‘Russian hackers’ – the increasingly clear connections between such nodes in the conspiracy as the Breitbart News cabal and their shadowy business interests, the Murdoch empire, Nigel Farage and the Leave.UK campaign, Deutsche Bank/Bank of Cyprus and even – for God’s sake – the Kremlin.

None of this shit has suddenly been magicked away by the febrile applause of Conservatives in the House, internally crying with relief that at last some literary genius has been found to sugar the pill and keep the ADHD President on message.

It looks like Donny took his Ritalin for once.

And now, it’s the turn of Jeff Sessions… ‘I did not have intercourse with that Russian Ambassador. I did not inhale…’

“Look guys, long fingers, big hands…”

“I have nothing to do with Russia” – The Wit and Wisdom of Donald J Trump

“The glitzy event (in Moscow), which included a swanky after-party, drew various Russian notables, including a member of Putin’s inner circle and an alleged Russian mobster. Trump later boasted that he had mingled with “almost all of the oligarchs.” Trump had hoped that Putin would attend the pageant—tweeting months earlier, “if so, will he become my new best friend?”—but the Russian leader was a no-show.” – Mother Jones website, 16 Dec 2016.

If Sessions lying to a congressional oversight committee on oath that he hadn’t spoken to the Russian ambassador to Washington is potentially a sacking offence, what the hell is this?

And if he has nothing to do with Russia, why is there an alleged Russian mobster, “property developer” Felix Henry Sater, officed in Trump Tower, New York? A man Trump has denied knowing, yet the first paragraph of his Wikipedia entry states:

“Sater has been an advisor to many corporations, including The Trump Organization.”

And why is Trump followed on a private jet wherever he goes by Dmitry Whothefuckoff, Rybolovlev the ‘Fertiliser King’, a Russian multibillionaire and crony of Putin’s who ‘overpaid’ $100 million via Bank of Cyprus, where he’s a shareholder (Director: Wilbur Ross, Trump’s old friend and now Commerce Secretary; other Director, Dr Joseph Ackermann, former-CEO of Deutsche Bank, yes them again) to buy a dilapidated mansion in Florida from Trump, that was pulled down shortly after?

Did he do that just to thwart his ex-wife, who’d been awarded $4 billion of his fortune?

You’re being fucked, America. We’re all being taken for mugs.

x

Cherry Blossom Time

© cherryblossomwatch

© 2014 cherryblossomwatch

On February 27 the first buds began opening on Washington’s famous cherry trees.

If the stonewall dumbfuck Republican deniers taking their funding from crooked energy company lobbyists in the swamp and the demented runarounds in the White House don’t admit it now, they never will.

According to official website Cherryblossomwatch.com, it’s the earliest Spring flowering ever recorded.

x

 

Dream on

“American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.” – Donald H (sorry, J) Trump

There you have it.

The long-term dream of the dumbfuck alt-right fascist billionaires, right there. What the Trump presidency is all about. The underlying strategy. The Big Plan. Where the money’s gone.

Start over. Earth #2, with racial purity and proper print-your-own capitalism.

Grab some pussy, arm yourself with a full alpha copy of Google on a quantum drive, the blueprint for a New World, hop aboard a Space-X rocket courtesy of Musktours to one of those pristine rocky, watery earthlike planets NASA has found, only 40 light years from our gutted and dying world.

(Actually 40 light years is about 300,000 Earth years away at the speed of the fastest ship Musk can produce, but don’t tell Donald and Ivanka (I feel sure he’ll take his attractive daughter, his ‘terrific piece of ass’ as he calls her,  to use as breeding stock for the new master race, rather than the bothersome Melania). It’s only about 100,000 years longer than the length of time modern humans were around.

While the rest of us, on the verge of starvation and with five billion climate migrants clawing with bloodied hands at our razor-wire fences, die screaming in a methane fireball.

Hello, Jesus.

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Fore!

“Donald Trump has lost nearly £26m ($31.8m) building his golfing empire in Scotland, his company accounts show – a sum that means the Republican presidential candidate has avoided paying any UK corporation tax on either of his two resorts.

“The latest accounts filed to the UK authorities for Trump’s two resorts, in Aberdeenshire and Turnberry in Ayrshire, also show he has sunk more than £102m ($125m) of his own money into both businesses, despite losing increasing sums on both investments.

“There is also an apparent discrepancy between the accounts and his filings last year to the US Federal Election Commission (FEC).” http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/12/donald-trump-scotland-golf-course-resort-losses

And where exactly is Mr Trump’s controversial new course, Trump International, that he fought tooth-and-nail to have built on a site of special scientific interest against furious opposition from residents, local authorities and environmentalists?

Why, Aberdeen.

Home of Aberdeen Asset Management, since last week Europe’s largest share juggler and tax strategist with over £300 billion of managed funds.

Part-owner of the former Deutsche Asset Management and (see above) part-owner of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV.

It must mean something.

A visit to Aberdeen’s prettily designed and reassuring website (motto: ‘Simple is Smart’) produces the following guest quote from Tim Harford, the larky ‘Undercover Economist’ on the Financial Times:

“The mark of success is not to avoid failure but to learn from it, adjust and adapt.”

Mr Trump has certainly learned and adapted from his many failures. Ironically, the FT (now owned by Nikkei) was founded by one Horatio Bottomley MP, a bogus patriot who pocketed the money from the sale of First World War ‘Victory’ bonds and in 1922 was jailed for seven years for fraud.

Martin Gilbert, the CEO of Aberdeen (annual salary £4.1 m), is described thus in The Telegraph:

“Gilbert is the City’s original bogeyman. Long before the likes of Fred Goodwin, Bob Diamond or any of the Libor traders, Gilbert was regarded as the unacceptable face of finance.”

“Just over a decade ago … the savings vehicles famously claimed to have “more safety features than a Volvo” … collapsed, triggering £650m of losses for 50,000 small investors.

“Aberdeen was accused of being at the centre of a “magic circle” of fund managers whose back-scratching fund raisings generated huge fees and bonuses for themselves but created a dangerous pack of cards for savers.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/10471334/How-Martin-Gilbert-the-Citys-original-bogeyman-pulled-it-out-of-the-fire-again.html

I couldn’t possibly comment.

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Pot, kettle, Pence

Remember all that shit about locking Hillary up for using a private email server on State Department business? Shit that with the help of slimy Judas Assange, the Russians and the biddable FBI director Comey helped to stuff the Democratic campaign in its dying days?

Well, at least a private email server stands less chance of being hacked than AOL, even if it’s only OAPs who still use it.

OAPs like VPOTUS Mike Pence, the walking snow-capped advert for Anusol.

It appears Indiana Governor Pence, as he was, sent embarrassing emails about security matters using his personal AOL account.

I wonder by what circuitous route that came to the public attention?

His account was hacked – laughably his friends and Contacts seem to have received from him, one of those “Help, Mike, we’re stuck in a hotel in Myanmar, can you send us two thousand bucks to pay the bill?” scams – showing that his Contacts file at the very least is now in the hands of the Russians, the Chinese, North Korea, the FBI, GCHQ, Bob Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica, the Democratic party – creatures from a rocky planet orbiting a star only 40 light years from Earth…. maybe all eight.

Who the fuck knows who does this stuff?

All we know is, Pence owes Hillary a huge apology for being an even bigger old fool than she was – and more of a hypocrite. (GOP spokes however are crying loudly, no, you don’t understand, this is different!)

Can Captain Trump’s Traumatised Transition Team take much more of this shit?

As I keep digging a shallow grave as regards connections between businesses and their men, let me just mention that AOL is owned by global comms giant, Verizon (formerly Bell labs). According to Wikipedia:

“In December 2011, the non-partisan organization Public Campaign criticized Verizon for its tax avoidance procedures after it spent $52.34 million on lobbying while collecting $951 million in tax rebates between 2008 and 2010 and making a profit of $32.5 billion.”

Of more interest to Pence, perhaps, is Verizon’s much criticised collection of metadata from customers who cannot count on their security, as the company has frequently handed over information on request… to the FBI.

You’re being fucked, America. But so is the Transition Team.

 

Essay

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/mar/02/electoral-commission-urged-to-investigate-farages-brexit-campaign

Scooped!

Yes, The Pumpkin has been scooped. The day after I wrote the following piece (but hadn’t yet posted it), the above article has appeared on The Guardian Today website, pretty much making the points I’ve been trying to make for weeks. For the first time, someone is beginning to join the dots and fill-in the blanks in this conspiracy-by-numbers, this hardliner coup in America and Britain, that has so far been reported only as a series of random, apparently disconnected events and amusing speculative pieces about Trump’s sanity.

So there we are.

And here’s my piece. I wrote it for the American market, hence the slangy style; dedicated it to the amazing Mike Malloy.

By a narrow margin 48%-52% the turkeys voted for Christmas. The far from definitive result has been hailed by self-interested corporatists, alt-right media and neo-Thatcherites as the indomitable ‘Will of the People’. Or, as we say in this centenary year of the Russian Revolution, ‘The Dictatorship of the Proletariat’. And there is no gainsaying it, or they howl you down.

The European Union is a crock of shit. We all accept that. It expanded too fast, got too bureaucratic, took in some nasty countries we shouldn’t have. Bad hombres in fleamarket shellsuits and black-market trainers arrived in our Victorian terraced slums.

The one-size-fits-all Euro has fucked up the weaker economies of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and even Italy with adverse capital flows – overlending by big mostly German banks borrowing at low rates and lending to poorer countries at high rates – they couldn’t pay back, and are now being fucked over by the ECB ‘Troika’ and the IMF. We know that. My cousin Costas in Athens is a government employee, he hasn’t been paid in months and had a heart attack last year needing a quad bypass in a medical system that doesn’t have drugs, bandages. It’s a disaster.

But it was the best crock of shit we had. It produced a mass of annoying laws safeguarding workers and consumers’ rights, standardising products (my first PR client made generic parts for cars. EU type approvals made it possible for them to sell parts that fit for French and German cars), dictating (with diagrams) what constitutes a legal banana, guaranteeing food safety and traceability; toys that didn’t kill and maim children. I remember the 70s when the most fun you could have on a Sunday afternoon was to sit out and watch your car rust. That changed.

My adopted little nation of Wales is an economic basket case and attracted billions of Euros in EU development finance. We pissed it away, but that’s another story. The EU enables free flows in labour and learning, research and residence. We made the Airbus together. It did away with customs barriers – some acned teenager crawling officiously through your car looking for something he could bill you for, remember? Yet it allowed a measure of internal competition.

And the EU has done good things to resist the monstrously abusive TTIP treaty, abolished unfair cross-border roaming charges by the big cellphone corpses, thwarted putative media monopolies and hit Apple with a $13 billion bill for underpaid tax.…

Why would we throw that away? It wasn’t all bad; it created a safe environment in which we could trade internally without tariffs in a market of 450 million consumers and do business all around the world from a position of strength; and besides, we haven’t had a good war in Europe for 70 years. You can guess which way I voted.

A brash, ugly millionaire called Arron Banks wanted to stop all that. Married to a Russian, with unexplained personal net worth of £100 million, Banks “spent the first part of his childhood in South Africa and returned to the UK to attend a private school in Berkshire before being expelled for “an accumulation of offences”, including the sale of lead stolen from school building roofs.” (Wikipedia)

He stole the fucking lead off his own school roof; yet millions vote for the scam party he started.

With fingers in the online insurance racket, claiming to own a diamond mine in S Africa, “According to Companies House records, Banks has set up 37 different companies using slight variations of his name.” (ibid.)  He has been accused at times of harassment, information theft and insider trading… he also cropped up in the Panama Papers as a secret offshore investor – a right dodgy geezer.

Like a lot of bored business fuckwits with too much easy money, he wanted to get rid of all those foreign barriers to unbridled kleptocracy. So he wrapped himself in the flag and funded the ‘United Kingdom Independence Party’, essentially a disorganised rabble of curtain-twitchers, crazed Empire loyalists, ‘Just About Managing’ squeezed middle Englanders, disaffected working-class Tories and failed High Tory politicians;  and hired a man called Farage to run it.

Now, Nigel Farage is an arsehole. A privately educated millionaire former ‘commodities broker’ with US bloodsuckers Drexel, Burnham, Lambert, he likes to pose outside a jolly old pub with a smoke and a pint, wearing unspeakable ‘English gent’ clothes that make him look like a cashiered army major from a 1950s Ealing Studios comedy, as a ‘Man o’ the People’, railing against political correctness, immigrants (his wife is German, she’s divorcing him) and Big Government. His many working-class fans love him because ‘he’s one of us’, he ‘tells it like it is’, the poor boobies.

Ringing any bells?

Farage is nevertheless a genius at grabbing the limelight and bypassing the normal rules on campaigning appearances by making himself the news story. He has appeared 33 times as a panellist on the prestige BBC political debate show, Question Time. His number is on the front page of every media researcher’s contacts file.

His Wikipedia entry lists a bunch of flakey alt-right committees and organisations. He’s an elected Member of the European Parliament, that he has vowed to destroy – benefiting from a fat salary and massive expenses the meanwhile. But he’s failed to get a proper UK Parliamentary seat six times, leaving UKIP with only one member in the House; a man he doesn’t get on with.

And he’s Donald Trump’s little British bumboy.

How did that happen, that he became a pop-up politician on the Trump trail, was photo-opped in the Golden Elevator with the Sun King, and even appeared at the CPAC  Nazi rally? How was it Trump publicly tried to endorse Nigel for the (not-available) job of British ambassador to Washington – an appointment not in his gift?

The clue is in that photo-opp. Standing next to Farage and The Donald in the portal to Heaven was a gurning Raheem Kassam, editor of the toned-down British version of Breitbart News.

Finally got there.

Now, last week the walking snow-capped advert for Anusol, Mike Pence arrived in Brussels with a message: be of good cheer, The Administration supports the EU to the hilt.

This was somewhat at odds with Trump’s frequent outbursts of approval for Brexit, that threatens to pull apart the fabric of the EU and has triggered a horrific xenophobic backlash here, terrified long-stay EU citizens with British families being used by the ghastly Theresa May as bargaining chips for a ‘red, white and blue Brexit’’; Muslim women having to run the gamut of chanting racists in the streets, spitting and ripping off their hijabs.

(Let us not forget Mrs May: married to millionaire Phil, an investment manager, for six years as Home Secretary she ran Britain’s security apparatus: MI5, MI6, the GCHQ listening post, that collects data for the NSA and monitors the Russian traffic, and pushed through the most oppressive surveillance laws in the western world.)

See, this is all about information, investments and who owns them. There’s a simple problem, which is that a billion dollars, pounds or whatever is a very large number. It’s a problem to find more things to buy, places to put it. ‘Oligarchs’ end up moving it around amongst themselves. Often, it’s hot money that needs a bit of cooling down. I buy ‘x’ for such an amount, I sell it to you for ‘y’ (ten times as much?) and it’s immediately legal.

The cretinous antics of the senile manchild with ADHD isn’t really the story. The story is the money. And who else should be involved?

Through Brexit, Britain, proclaimed the Orange One, had regained its sovereignty, control of its borders, freedom from foreign tyranny and oppression… general whiteness and a warm welcome for US tech companies, defense contractors, money-laundering Russian oligarchs and Murdoch’s News Corp to operate with impunity. But Pence says they just love the EU. What gives?

(Murdoch is also close to the President. He has a bed made up in the corner of the Oval Office; his ex-wife Wendi Deng is best buds with Ivanka. Wendi, 45, has also enjoyed close relations with recent UK Prime Ministers Blair, Brown and Cameron; and is rumoured to be Vladimir Putin’s current Chinese squeeze. She gets around.)

How to swing an election

We are now learning that one of the ways the Vote Leave campaign got its marginal majority was by someone ‘harvesting’ personal data from Facebook and other social media accounts, profiling millions of voters from their ‘Likes’ and search histories, using ‘bots’ (don’t ask, I have no idea) to bombard them automatically with tailored messages to manipulate their presumed voting inclinations. Two million new mystery voters suddenly appeared on the register, days before the vote; presumably radicalised online. The website crashed.

Farage had been judged too toxic even for the official Vote Leave, so contented himself with fronting Banks’ private ‘Leave.EU’ campaign, into which the boorish millionaire sank £7.5 million. And, surprise surprise, according to a report in the mainstream Observer newspaper, it turns out that nifty Nigel is also a ‘friend’ of US multi-billionaire, ultra-ultra-conservative hedge fund manager, Robert Mercer.

Mercer also happens to be the wallet behind Breitbart News, whose co-founder and sometime editor, Steve Bannon, is Trump’s consigliere. And more importantly, he is a computer ‘genius’, a pioneer of Big Data, and the ultimate owner of a firm called Cambridge Analytica, which carried out the data grab on the British electorate on behalf of Leave.EU, that helped to nudge the Leavers over the line.

Another help for their separatist, isolationist cause was the thirty-year-long campaign of fake news about the machinations of the evil EU that had been running in Murdoch’s UK newspapers: the now-defunct News of the World, a Sunday scandal-sheet shut down after allegations of massive phone hacking (edited by Rebekah Wade, aka Brooks – sometime CEO of Murdoch’s News UK Corp. and a close friend of the Camerons); the putrid ultra-loyalist daily The Sun, and even The Times of London. Through his holdings in Fox News, Murdoch has been bidding to complete his stake in the UK’s Sky TV, whose news arm he was forced to divest under EU antitrust laws: BUT… “Mogul needs regulators to approve deal, which will give him full control of pay-TV operations in UK, Germany and Italy” (The Guardian) And they’re resisting; so the billionaires club are trying to take down the EU.

 “A committee of Sky’s “independent” (my parenthesis) directors, led by Martin Gilbert – the broadcaster’s deputy chairman and the chief executive of Sky shareholder Aberdeen Asset Management – scrutinised the deal on behalf of non-Murdoch investors.

“The committee, which unanimously accepted the deal, included the Sky chief executive, Jeremy Darroch, and the finance chief, Andrew Griffith, who are in line for a £40m payday if the deal goes through.”

And a quick trip to Wikipedia reveals that ‘Aberdeen Asset Management’ acquired a share of Deutsche Bank’s asset management business in 2007. The Deutsche Bank to which Trump owes $340 million; the unpaid balance of a loan he took out in 2007.

As I keep saying, follow the money. There’s a lot of it about.

While the FBI is faffing about, pursuing evanescent Russian hackers… They may have tried to ‘influence’ the US election by channelling what dirt they could find on Hillary and her grimy aides  through Wikileaks, whose founder, Julian Assange, remains wanted on a Swedish rape charge he believes the CIA set up so they could grab him in Stockholm. The unpleasant and self-obsessed Mr Assange is still lurking as an unwanted political refugee in the basement of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, presumably hoping Trump would be a better bet for his release than Hillary (he’s also wanted in the USA on data theft charges that could get him a very long spell in Leavenworth).

Thus we have a real live instance of private interference from the USA in a British referendum, with the aim of breaking up the annoying European union and its anti-trust, pro-consumer superstate.

I’m assuming the voter radicalisation, Big Data techniques (more usually used for online advertising) employed by Cambridge Analytica were also applied to the US election, I don’t know. What else did the Trump campaign’s Breitbart connections get up to online, I wonder? Did Russian hackers really infiltrate the DNC? Or did that come from somewhere else?

Ultimately, the story lies elsewhere. We are clearly not looking at a coup only in the USA, this is a global hijacking.

The story is the money. Follow the money!

Trump’s pick for Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross is a director of Bank of Cyprus, a known Russian money-laundering front with links back to Moscow and various Putin cronies – including Dmitry Rybolovlev, the ‘Fertiliser King’, who paid Trump $100 million for a worthless piece of real estate junk in Florida; a vast Xanadu mansion built so badly it had to be pulled down. He never lived there, so why buy it? Oh, right. Another director, Dr Josef Ackermann is a former director of Deutsche Bank, which has been fined $billions for money-laundering on his watch. Ask how Trump’s reported 2008 default of $340 million debt to Deutsche went away, where it’s gone and who made it go?

We’ve all been pissed on, that’s not the story. The story is who owns the President – and by extension, America?

Pithy observation

If the First World War was about the end of empire, the Second World War about national expansionism, the Third World War about global ideological hegemony, the goings-on in America show we are now deep into the Fourth World War: it’s being fought in the infosphere and it’s about data capitalism.

History however will judge they are all part of the same war.