Last week’s post resumed – THE SCREAM… The United Kingdom Instability Party… GW: Kickin’ up a storm in me floral wellies and me snowboard… the latest scary Arctic news, Plus: Signs and portents, and… WARNING: Capitalists.

The Swedish founder of the Ikea furniture chain, Ingvar Kamprad, has died at the age of 91, the company has announced.

No jokes about flatpack coffins now, guys…

 

Men driven to extremes by #metoo take to carrying their own sheds about. (BBC)

THE SCREAM

Watch this.

Do not not watch it. It contains important information everyone needs to know.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2S6QvJOTAVQ

 

Introduction

As I unexpectedly went blind in one eye last week and required a retinal reattachment procedure, which involved miniaturizing Raquel Welch with an arc-welder and injecting her into my optical jelly wearing only an aqualung, my Post got delayed and now I’m struggling a bit as I appear to have half my head inside a goldfish bowl with an oil slick on the surface, my remaining ‘good’ eye being so longsighted already, I can’t really see to type.

So I hope you’ll forgive me recycling an old Post, but this article was relatively free of unforced typos and seemed so prescient it was worth a rerun. It’s about the chaos in a fragmenting political party of once-popular protest, that didn’t quite cut the mustard post-Brexit – UKIP. Not now, but eighteen months ago. It was first posted in August 2016.

No fool like a middle-aged fool.

Last week’s extraordinary sequence of events in which the recently elected leader of the UKIP rump party, the anally retentive, 50-something, ex-military chap, Henry Bolton, has been refusing to stand down in a row over a pretty vile racist tweet about Meghan Markle posted by his new girlfriend, “25-year-old topless model” Jo Marney, whom he publicly repudiated but was then spotted having a clandestine meet with, there being no fool like a middle-aged fool – he’s also married, and now says he intends to stand by the floozy – despite the resignations following a vote of No Confidence of almost the entire party committee, and the spectacularly unhelpful interventions of the self-promoting narcissist, Trump bumsucker and “person of interest” to the Mueller investigation, Farage, have brought us pretty much full circle to previous disastrous UKIP “leadership” trials.

This (with minor edits) is what we wrote:

The United Kingdom Instability Party

I suppose it is a bit fatuous to suggest that politicians could or should ever be brought to book for misrepresentation of anything other than their expenses and constituency accounts.

In a recent Appeal Court ruling it was, for instance, decided that, to avoid lengthy explanations, it was okay to slightly misrepresent the facts on which you have based an insurance claim, provided the claim itself is valid.

It’s called ‘collateral lying’.

‘Collateral lying’ is pretty much what all politicians have done throughout political history. It’s the inevitable consequence of having to provide ‘pie-in-the-sky’ today, with ‘jam tomorrow’ as dessert for the yearning masses.

Voters would simply not know what to do, if politicians were not in some sense lying to them about most matters of public policy. Candidates are expected to lie extensively about the shameful past record of their opponents, and to lie more about what they plan to do themselves when in office; how a newer, pinker, fluffier world will come into being.

While, of course, in Islam, the concept of Taqqiya allows the devout Muslim to deny his religion – or anything else – under torture.

I’m not sure, however, that I’ve ever come across a case before, where a new political party built on a mass movement driven by disaffection with the status quo has, in only three years:

  • terrified the government of the day to the point where a stupid, hasty and disastrous plebiscite has wrecked both the economy and the nation’s standing in the world;
  • put its candidates up for election on a platform of root-and-branch reform of the political landscape;
  • won a substantial number of local authority and European Parliament seats, and then:
  • its founder and incessantly yarping mouthpiece has owned up to several ‘collateral lies’ and resigned to spend more time making money, while the party organisation has…
  • immediately evaporated in a welter of procedural wrangling and top-level resignations, as it…
  • struggles to elect a new ‘leader’ from among what one senior officer describes broadly as a squabbling bunch of obscure ‘megalomaniacs’.

In other words, a party that has obtained votes and seats and spent public money and caused global chaos entirely under the false pretence that it was ever a serious political entity.

This seems to me to go rather beyond ‘collateral lying’ to outright misrepresentation.

Do we expect UKIP to apologise and call for a re-run of elections in those areas where it has gained local authority seats at the expense of the other parties?

Do we think they should pay the money back, that they got from the EU? (Not to mention Russia… Ed.)

Not really. That wouldn’t be politics.

x

GW: Kickin’ up a storm in me floral wellies and me snowboard

(some of these reports date from the previous week)

It’s a good look… how long before it appears in Vogue?

Russia: According to the State weather bureau, Moscow had its darkest December ever, recording just 6 MINUTES of sunshine over the entire month. “The cold in Yakutia, in the far east, dipped below -60C (-76F)”. (Schools are normally closed in Russia’s coldest province at -50C…) “Some residents recorded temperatures as low as -67C, -88F… in touching distance of -67.7C, the coldest-ever officially recorded for a permanently inhabited settlement anywhere in the world”. In Anzhero-Sudzhensk, the body of a 26-year-old industrial climber was found frozen to the outside of a building.

Kazakhstan: Black snow has fallen on the city of Temirtau. Residents are blaming industrial pollution from the local steelworks. “In 2016, nearly 600,000 tons of harmful substances were released into the air in Karaganda according to Kazakhstan’s statistics committee. In December 2017 alone, the national meteorological agency recorded levels of hydrogen sulphide in Temirtau exceeding the government-mandated limit by more than 11 times.”

Mauritius: Tropical Cyclone Berguitta is likely to be the most powerful to hit the Indian Ocean island in over 30 years, with wind gusts of 130 mph. That’s according to the Meteo France/BBC report: Wunderground’s NOAA tracking map has the storm veering away from the island out to sea. Either way, the smaller islands of Réunion and Maurice are fully in its path (PS and were badly damaged but suffered no casualties).

Mozambique: 11 die in floods. 78 thousand people displaced by a tropical depression, 2 thousand properties affected. 240mm (10-in) rain fell in 24 hours.

Burundi: “severe weather, including strong winds, heavy rain and flooding has left almost 2,000 displaced and destroyed or severely damaged hundreds of homes since 14 January. Over 12,000 people have been affected.”

South Africa: After three years of intense drought, the first major city in the (modern) world is set to go dry in April: ” “Day Zero is the day that the water resource system runs out of water,” said Mark New, Research Chair in Climate Risk at the University of Cape Town. What does this mean? “No water coming out the taps. Toilets cannot be flushed. Fire services cannot get water out of the fire hydrants. People will have to walk to water tankers to fill up drinking water bottles.” And there will be knock-on effects, such as schools considering whether they can operate with no water on campus.”

New Zealand: hottest January on record (100 years). In nearby Australia, parts of New South Wales are experiencing 48C, 116F. in Melbourne, Australian Open tennis final invokes ‘extreme heat’ protocol and closes the roof (28 Jan)… still 90F at 11pm, power cuts hit thousands of homes. Cooler conditions forecast, plunging to only 64F by Tuesday!

Philippines: “Heavy rain since 12 January has caused flooding and landslides in Eastern Visayas and Davao Region. Authorities say that at least 11 people have died and around 8,000 have been displaced.” 264 mm rain in 24 hours fell on Catarman – Jan 12 to 13.

Malaysia, Indonesia… more flash floods reported as storms hit Kuala Lumpur and Denipasa respectively.

USA: The death toll from the Montecito mudslides continues to rise. “At least 20 people (now 21/2) have died and 3 remain missing as a result of the mudslides and floods that devastated Southern California, according to a Santa Barbara County Press Release on Jan. 15. The mudslides occurred early on Tuesday, Jan. 9, destroying an estimated 115 homes and damaging hundreds of others.”  Shocking footage on CEWN, see below).  In the East, very cold weather is set to return after a short lull.

Colombia: “At least 13 people have died in a landslide near the town of Túquerres in Nariño Department, Colombia. The landslide occurred on 21 January, 2018 after a period of heavy rain. A huge section of a hillside along the Tumaco-Pasto highway fell onto the road, pushing a bus carrying at least 15 passengers into a ravine.”

  • In fact much of South America has been badly hit by floods and landslides in the past week. Video reports showing powerful storms, torrential rain, urban flash floods, buildings wrecked and streets turned to debris fields have come in from SE Brazil (São Paolo/Santa Carina), Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay.

UK: 80 mph winds and heavy snow are forecast this midweek, with amber warnings out for most of Scotland. It’s already bloody windy here in the west, with gusts to 65 mph. The 6th storm of the winter season, it’s been named Ffion in Ireland – doesn’t seem to be named at all in the UK (eventually, Georgina), where it’s caused widespread power outages in the southeast – but the Germans have called it Friederike.

  • Sunday 21 Jan: snowing in London (a rare event), minus 13C in Scotland, plus 14C in the Southwest (10C here…) as warm front meets cold. Met Office says 20C temperature gradient dividing the British Isles in half is ‘quite unusual’.

Europe: “4 people have been killed by falling trees or debris as a fierce storm tears across northern Europe. Storm-related accidents killed 3 people in the Netherlands and 1 in north-west Germany. Gusts of up to 140km/h (90mph) caused transport chaos. … Police temporarily closed the centre of Almere, a Dutch city with about 200,000 residents.  … warning people to stay at home because of risk from the storm.”

Paris after the fall… (NBC)

France: Sunday 21 Jan – virtually the entire country is covered by yellow and amber flood warnings. These convert to numerous avalanche warnings in mountain resorts affected by recent heavy snowfall. Meteo France reports, the country overall has seen 4 to 5 times the normal rainfall for December to January. Many rivers, including the Seine at Paris, are giving concern.

Far north… Temperature anomalies in the Arctic region are truly disturbing. “The sea surface near Svalbard was as warm as 15.9°C or 60.8°F on January 12, 2018, compared to 2.4°C or 36.4°F on January 12 for the period 1981-2011. … On January 1, 2018, Arctic sea ice extent was at record low for the time of year … Temperatures as high as 18.5°C or 65.3°F were recorded on Jan. 14 and 15 in Metlakatla, Alaska. … surface temperatures as high as 7.4°C or 45.2°F were reached on Jan 16 in Yukon Territory, Canada.” Record high methane levels are also being detected.

World: Figures adjusted to account for annual anomalies caused by the El Niño/La Niña currents show 2017 was ‘significantly’ hotter than 2016 – on unadjusted NASA and NOAA figures, 2017 was either the second hottest between 2016 and 2015, or the third after both. According to the anonymous team of climate scientists posting as ‘Sam Carana’ (Arctic-news.blogspot.com): “Global warming has crossed 1.5°C / 2.7°F above preindustrial* and looks set to cross 2°C / 3.6°F soon. Due to accelerating warming in the Arctic, that could happen within one or two years’ time, i.e. much faster than the trendlines … may suggest.” After reviewing feedback loops now being triggered that will speed the process, they conclude: “Add up the impact of all warming elements and, as an earlier analysis shows, the rise in mean global temperatures from preindustrial could be more than 10°C in a matter of years.”

*Grannysplaining note: The IPCC figures showing warming has still not yet met the 1.5C ‘threshold’ are taken from 1981 onwards and don’t include the 0.59 deg of warming post-roughly 1750 when we started burning coal industrially. Warming since 1981 has been increasing exponentially but we don’t imagine there will be any immediate recognition from the powers-that-be, that we have gone over the irreversible 2 deg. mark.

Meteonovosti / Siberia Times/ BBC Weather/ BBC News/ Floodlist/ Accuweather/ Wunderground/ Meteoalarm/ Natural Resources Wales/ Arctic News, posted 22 Jan./ Climate & Extreme Weather News #90, Pt 1 (10-24 Jan). Below: Mary Greeley website, et al.

x

Signs and portents

The famous marriage-and-divorce city of Reno in Nevada has been experiencing an unusual swarm of small earthquakes, known as ‘temblors’. Since last Thursday night (18 Jan – today’s Sunday 21) they’ve had more than 260, in what is normally the least geologically active part of the state – although there are many, hopefully extinct volcanoes nearby. Nobody seems to know what it portends, if anything, although some have pointed to its concentration around a hydrothermal borehole. The BogPo notes after extensive research that a similar swarm of temblors up to M2.1 was previously reported in Reno in April, 2008.

Mt St Helen’s last erupted with cataclysmic force in 1980, killing 57 people.

A continuing series of M3+ earthquakes is occurring in Washington State, inside the craters of and close both to Mount St Helen’s and Mount Rainier, the State’s two largest active volcanoes. There’s no sign either of the Yellowstone swarm stopping, now the longest ever recorded. Instruments recorded a plume of rising magma last week, that almost broke the surface. A new USGS newsletter confirms, the total extent of the Yellowstone magma field is 248 MILES in diameter….

Volcanic activity in the so-called Ring of Fire in the Pacific has been off the scale in the last week, with hundreds of thousands of people evacuated from islands in the Indonesian archipelago and Vanuatu. Mount Kadovar in Papua-New Guinea blew for the first time in recorded history. 23 Jan, 1 person is killed and several skiers injured when the sudden eruption of 7-thousand-foot Mt Kusatsu-Shirane in central Honshu island, Japan, with no prior seismic activity, sets off an avalanche and a rain of sooty boulders. On the eastern side, large earthquakes included a 6.3 in Baja, Mexico/California, a 6.5 in Peru and a 7.1 in Honduras, just in the last week – a shallow (8km) M6.2 off Kamchatka and a whopping shallow (10km) M7.9 (to 8.1) that’s just struck this morning at Kodiak Island, Alaska, triggering a tsunami warning that thankfully produced just a 7-inch wave… leading all the YouTubers to worry about why so little?

Meanwhile, the weather blogger and Fortean, MrMBB333 continues to track the increasing number of strange, apparently non-lunar tidal retreats of the ocean for long periods at a time – including the now well-observed disappearances of the Mississippi river at its delta. There’s still no clue as to what is causing these events, although environmentalists are blaming overextraction and new flood defences for the problems of North America’s longest river.

 

Massive climate-change cretin dies

John Coleman, founder and CEO of The Weather Channel – the pioneering trans-continental US cable weather station – has died at his home in California at the age of 83.

Bizarrely, Coleman spent much of his later life vehemently contradicting the views of his own meteorologists, dismissing climate science as a ‘massive scam’ – possibly the greatest in history – and an affront to the interests of US business.

As such, he may be largely or even entirely responsible for Trump’s misinformed opinion on the matter, that has led to US withdrawal from the now largely symbolic Paris accord.

In a thoughtful and balanced obituary by Dr Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, we read:

“As recently as 2017, Coleman was referring to climate change as “baloney” on CNN and called it a “totally failed theory” on his blog.

“It’s tremendously unfortunate that Coleman later devoted the same energy to dismissing climate change science and the people who carry it out. Coleman’s brightest legacy by far will be his accomplishments in making national-scale weathercasting an important part of U.S. culture.”

http://www.wunderground.com/cat6/weather-channel-founder-john-coleman-dies

(GW writes: let’s recall that both the US Petroleum Institute and several global energy corporations including Shell and Exxon-Mobil have recognized, researched, documented and been fully aware since the early 1960s of the likely consequences of emitting vast quantities of greenhouse gases from burning fossil biofuels. Every UN-recognized country in the world is a signatory to the Paris accord, except now thanks to this massive asshole the US – some ‘conspiracy’!

So whatever Coleman’s motive was in claiming they were all merely hoping to get research grants – he was a TV weatherman, not a climatologist, and that bogus claim can be traced right back to the Koch-funded campaign of deception – let’s all join in saying, fuck him.

We hope it’s hot as hell where he’s gone. If you deal with the devil you must expect one day to have to go live with him.

 

WARNING: Capitalists.

Major owner of The Weather Channel is Blackrock investments spinoff, private equity firm Blackstone Group ($387 billion under management).

To read what they have to say about their market positioning, please position a sickbag beneath your chin as you read the annual report from nearly literate founder and CEO, Steve Schwarzman:

“…we moved aggressively into Europe early in the recovery, focusing on fundamental value or situations where dislocation created compelling opportunities. This enabled us to ride out the shorter term volatility brought on by some of the issues they’ve had, like the Greek debt crisis, Brexit, and the ongoing impact of populism on several elections.

“These types of dislocations provide opportunity for a firm like Blackstone.”

He left out “of total cunts”, before adding: “You can make enormous money doing the right things in our business.”

You certainly wouldn’t want a little thing like 10 degrees of warming by 2026 to get in the way of that, now would you? I mean, that’s a dislocation you can make a freakin’ shedload of wonga out of.

As far as Steve is concerned, the ‘right thing’ mainly involves buying up a raft of totally disassociated companies and selling off only the best bits, dumping the rest along with the workforces. It used to be known as ‘asset stripping’, which Conservative Prime Minister Ted Heath once famously described as ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’.

It’s not like caring for people. Wikipedia reports:

“The purchase and subsequent profitable IPO of Southern Cross led to controversy in the UK. Part of the purchase involved splitting the business into a property company, NHP, and nursing home business, which Blackstone claimed would become “the leading company in the elderly care market”. In May 2011, Southern Cross, now independent, was almost bankrupt, jeopardising 31,000 elderly residents in 750 care homes. It denied blame, although Blackstone was widely accused in the media for selling on the company with an unsustainable business model…”

Capitalists. Dontcha gotta love ’em?

 

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The BogPo: List Management for Dummies… Songs of Praise: #1 the BBC, Amen. #2 The Madman in the White House… GW: warming her butt on the kitchen stove…

He’s got ’em on the list
he’s got ’em on the list;
And they’ll none of ’em be missed
they’ll none of ’em be missed. (G&S, The Mikado)

List Management for Dummies

The US’s Dark Ambassadress, Nikki Haley, threatens UN Security Council members who voted 14-1 against Trumpy-Poo’s insistence on moving the Israeli capital to Jerusalem, that: ‘The US will be taking names’, and ‘The President takes this very personally’.

What is this, the US a mafia state? Or first-grade primary? In a speech, Trump hits out:

“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” he said. “Well, we’re watching those votes,” he added. “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Is there perhaps a certain hypocrisy here, or merely forgetfulness? January 2017: “The Trump administration has drafted an executive order that would cut U.S. payments to the United Nations by as much as 40 per cent.” (Politifact.com). Any reason to love the evil empire?

US subscriptions agreed and owed to the UN for peacekeeping operations were around $2 billion underfunded last year (UN Tribune). For balance, the Cato Institute argues that the US has no financial obligations to the UN. Oh, right, the Cato Institute – funded to the tune of $13.9 million annually by Koch Industries. That now stands to benefit from billions of dollars in tax cuts. Fair exchange is no robbery, someone once said.

Subsequent threats against several countries to cut off aid unless they agree to operate in America’s interests appear to confirm: Trump doesn’t need a State Department, he has a simpler foreign policy solution: just stop their pocket money.

Pay up, Trump. Then lock him up.

 

 

“Our institutions are increasingly in the anti-democratic grip of rabid fundamentalists of all kinds, from radical Imams to Trumpian fascists to power-hungry Brexiters.”

Songs of Praise: #1 The BBC, Amen

… (more) religious themes in the broadcaster’s popular dramas and soaps on both TV and radio, more documentaries covering religious and ethical issues being commissioned and for popular programmes such as The One Show to celebrate Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Jewish holy days. The BBC newsroom’s global religious affairs team will be expanded and the Thought for the Day slot on Radio 4 will be more closely linked to news items with women and young people. Figures from a wider range of religions will be invited to contribute. – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42412869

This is awful. Repulsive. Disgusting. Unconstitutional: a victory for the forces of superstition and childish, lying, pernicious nonsense. Editorializing of the worst kind, certainly in breach of the Charter; for how can whoever has issued this tendentious edict justify ordering programme editors to slant their content towards special interest pressure groups? This is the Talibanization of public discourse.

At the same time, the hard, grownup, factual departments – news and current affairs – are being slashed back. The newly appointed Head of News, Fran Unsworth, will be expected to hack £80 million out of her budget in her first year. Why? Because any teenage baboon armed with a Facebook account is now a respected gatherer of ‘news’ and an informed interpreter of world events. Why? Because it is not in the interests of our politicians to let facts get in the way of ambition.

Thus there is to be unlimited funding, it appears, for religious dogma and maundering, soppy bullshit sing-song programming. Who would have thought Philip Pullman’s fictional world of the Magisterium would come to pass, and so soon?

Mention any supposedly contentious issue – climate change springs to mind – and the BBC self-obliges to put an immediate contrarian opinion on, in the holy name of ‘balance’. Some well-rewarded and totally unqualified corporate-energy shill like ‘Lord’ Nigel Lawson or that reptilian PR hack, the Washington swamp-dweller Myron Ebell, will be disinterred, dripping with soil and maggots, swimming in oil, to refute scientifically determined observations with bogus armchair arguments long discredited as lies put about and funded by the Koch Brothers, Hamm Industries or Exxon-Mobil to protect their shareholders’ interests.

But the BBC will shrug and say, well, it’s still a matter of opinion, the jury is still out, our sacred Charter obliges us to tell comforting lies as well as paper over uncomfortable truths.

Put someone on burbling vacuously about witnessing the daily miracle of an imaginary avatar in our lives, however; an immutable archetype of improbable divine origin, zero historical veracity, endless secular usefulness and positively miraculous expiration; an invisible 2,000-year-old friend who can raise the dead, walk on water, cure cancer, feed five thousand people on one sardine sandwich, give us all sound dietary advice and fly up to heaven on a horse from the roof of a mosque;

…expounding some totally hideous, barbaric philosophy of bloody repression, a demand for total conformity to the will of mere men inspired by two thousand years of patriarchal dominance, ignorance and ideological fervour derived from a literal interpretation of an anthology of collected short stories and boring genealogical data supposedly written and revealed uniquely to a bunch of illiterate, semi-savage tribals by the imaginary ‘Creator’ of a universe of compressed dust, responsible in every minute detail for the fate of a septillion star systems;

…and we’re all now expected to take the knee, nod sagely and say, yep, that’s how it is, so let it be, praise God in the highest – amen.

Equal airtime for fundamentalist death-cult worshippers?

How long will it be before the BBC is obliged to give equal time to Creationists, to credulous village baboons who say God has told them to ban music and dancing, to stone women and rape children – to the insane “Christian” death-cult fanatics offering redemption only to their donors in a putative future life?

In matters of faith, the question of balance does not seemingly arise. Our institutions are increasingly in the anti-democratic grip of rabid fundamentalists of all kinds, from radical Imams to Trumpian fascists, to snowflake students demanding rewrites of history, to power-hungry Brexiters waving their little blue, second-class passports. The worry is that an upsurge in this slippery religious nonsense is only going to play into the political agenda of some really very nasty billioneire disruptors, rich white “Christian” men already exploiting widespread naivety, fear and confusion to divide us and rule.

Matters of belief, it appears, are once again taking precedence over well-established, empirical authority based on tried-and-trusted methods of investigation, reason and logic. A new medievalism has come to reign. We are moving into the virtual age increasingly divorced from reality, each cushioned in our own little corporate-funded cocoon, permanently plugged-in to our little electronic votaries, immersed in our choice of dreamworld, ‘identifying’ as this or that fantasy hybrid human who exists only in our heads and demanding of unconditional respect for our personal ‘choices’.

It’s infantilism gone mad.

A sad loss, but wouldn’t it be great to be able to resurrect the late Christopher Hitchens and put him on automatically for three minutes after every holier-than-thou religious boo-bag has been outgassing on the Today programme, or – God help us – The One Show, already the very definition of vacuous, time-filling trivia, peddling their noxious, irrational beliefs, to offer his characteristically robust and detailed refutation of their childish nostrums.

Maybe a bit of balance wouldn’t go amiss in the Department of Religious Affairs?

Or maybe it could be pointed out to the God-botherers in their resurgent triumph, that religion is merely the cheapest form of programming at a time of financial austerity for the national broadcaster?

 

“…the madman sat once more, his sternest Mussolini face on, arms stoically folded as, one by one, those disgusting minions crawled to slather him with vile and empty words of praise and adulation…”

Songs of Praise: #2 the Madman in the White House

Just as Trump was blurting out in a meeting at the White House an admission that he lied bigly to the American people about his tax ‘reform’ bill, lying about it being a boost for the economy, a great Christmas present for the middle-class and moaning that it would personally cost him a fortune (which is it, Trump, do you pay tax or are you “too smart” to?), there’s been another of those bizarre, inexplicable sessions at which his grovelling, assfucked cabinet of all the millionaires have lavished insane praise on the Orange Emperor for his many triumphs and thanked their god for the blessings of his Great Leadership.

Furthermore, Trump let slip an astonishing admission, that he knew the tax bill contains clauses that effectively shred public healthcare, but had told Republicans to lie about it:

“Apparently eager to argue that this constituted his having cut taxes and slain Obamacare in one fell swoop (after Congress came up short on Obamacare this year), he argued that repealing the individual mandate was basically the same as repealing Obamacare. But, he said, he told Republicans not to talk about that. Trump said he told allies to “be quiet with the fake news media because I don’t want them talking too much about it. … Now that it’s approved, I can say that,” he said.” – Washington Post, 20 Dec.

In other words, the madman didn’t want the ‘fake news media’ telling the truth about his lies. Oh well.

Overall, the bill has met with solid public disapproval. Yet 60 per cent of Republican voters still believe the lies he and others told to get it passed, that it was purely for their benefit, when in reality it busts the national debt by a further $1.4 trillion, and amounts over 10 years to a giveaway to the richest 1 per cent of individuals and corporations of some $4 trillion, while freeing Congress to INCREASE taxes on the middle-income family over time, and insurers to TREBLE their healthcare premiums. Clauses inserted without debate at the last minute provide further tax breaks especially for property developers, that will benefit the Trump crime family specifically by at least half a billion dollars.

The lie that this misuse of public finances will trickle down in the form of jobs and wage increases is given by several surveys of corporate executives who have confirmed that they have no intention of using the windfall to hire more Americans or raise wages, but will continue to offshore their profits and pay bigger dividends to shareholders.

Passing this hamfisted piece of largely secretive and undebated legislation was an act of theft, pure and simple, by a Republican Congress preparing to take to the lifeboats.

Yet Trump is still claiming it as a triumph for the American way of life. Do you think maybe he really believes it?

“Oops, I lied again. My Bad!”

It is in fact the one and only substantial piece of legislation that has been passed under his Presidency – he didn’t write the bill, he knows next-to nothing about the technical aspects of the tax structure in America – since he took office on 20 January.

Writing in the Washington Post, Aaron Blake summarises in bullet point form, the astonishing address Vice-President Pence gave at the cabinet meeting after the Senate passed the bill. I’ll give you just a flavour of what he said, and you can ask yourself the question, is America now a democracy, or a fledgling dictatorship?:

“Mr President…

  • “You’ve restored American credibility on the world stage.”
  • “You’ve signed more bills rolling back federal red tape than any president in American history.”
  • “You’ve spurred an optimism in this country that’s setting records.” (In fact his approval rating is down to 32%. A record!)
  • “You promised the American people a year ago that you would deliver historic tax cuts, and it would be a ‘middle-class miracle.’ And in just a short period of time, that promise will be fulfilled.”
  • “I’m deeply humbled, as your vice president, to be able to be here.”

“Pence offered plaudit after plaudit after plaudit, praising Trump’s vision, his words, his strategy and his results in light of the passage of tax cuts. By the end, Pence offered 14 separate commendations for Trump in less than three minutes — math that works out to one every 12.5 seconds. And each bit of praise was addressed directly to Trump, who was seated directly across the table.” – Washington Post, 20 Dec.

As if that did not satisfy the monstrous ego of the madman, The New Yorker reported this from the father of the House:

“Orrin Hatch, of Utah, who has been in the Senate for forty years, predicted that the Trump Presidency will be ‘the greatest Presidency we have seen not only in generations but maybe ever.'”

Any American reading a report of this terrifying meeting at which the madman sat once more, his sternest Mussolini face on, arms stoically folded as, one by one, those disgusting minions crawled out to slather him with vile and empty words of praise and adulation, ought to throw up in their Cheerios.

When will someone have the guts to tell him to his face that he’s mentally ill and in urgent need of psychiatric evaluation, and must stand down for the good of the country?

Heil Trump. Hail Caesar.

x

A Merry Christmas, Mr Trump, from all the victims of climate-change-related extreme weather events, and best wishes for 2018.

GW: warming her butt on the kitchen stove, your old gran peers myopically back at 2017

At this time of year it’s customary to look back on the main events of the year – despite the lack of a warming El Niño, the second hottest on record (after last year). So your Granny Weatherwax makes no apology for reprinting the following Post from 02 August, 2017, itemising world weather events from just one week at the end of July.

It seems to sum up a year of floods, fires, droughts and violent storms that have made life a misery for so many people, not just for the first year – 2016 was if anything WORSE – and look set to continue in 2018, while – unique among nations – the lame-brained, lying ‘President’ continues to pour scorn on the notion that anything might be wrong, in case it affects the already vast profits of his donors in the energy sector.

For now, though, I’ll just mention a couple of current things: (A summary of Trump’s achievements on this front will be Posted early in the New Year.)

Philippines: “230 people are reported to have been killed (22 Dec.) as (another) tropical storm swept through the southern Philippines, with dozens more missing. Storm Tembin brought flash flooding and mudslides to parts of Mindanao island. Two towns badly hit were Tubod and Piagapo, where a number of homes were buried by boulders.” The toll from last week’s TS Kai-Tak (Urduja) in the Visayas region of Biliran is 31, with 49 missing.

Australia: heatwave in SE Australia around the capital, Canberra, hits 46C (115 F). In Melbourne, Victoria state on the 19th, a powerful storm caused a sudden 12C drop in temperature, with giant hailstones, cyclonic winds, etc. In Esteio, Brazil, a sudden violent storm erupts, trashing a rock festival. The DJ was killed. Malaysia, 1 person is killed when their car is swept away in flooding in Sarawak, after 170 mm of rain (TS Kai-Tak) falls in 24 hours. Chile: 5 dead, 13 missing after torrential rain causes landslides and flash flooding (15 Dec.) in Villa Santa Lucia.

USA: “The Thomas Fire became California’s largest officially recorded fire on Dec. 22, 2017, when it surpassed the 273,000-plus acre Cedar Fire.” It’s now 70% contained, however. The town of Erie, Pennsylvania was buried under 53 inches of snow Christmas Day, totalling over 90 inches for December – another record. The mercury in Chicago fell to minus 10F (-23C). In Ireland, two men drowned on Christmas Day when their 4×4 was swept away in a flash-flood during a storm.

Climate & Extreme Weather News #87/ BBC News/ Ventura County News

This is not the sea, or a Hokusai painting, it’s a river in China, in 2017. (Photo: The Guardian)

“The Great Flood of Gun-Yu (traditional Chinese: 鯀禹治水), also known as the Gun-Yu myth, was a major flood event in ancient China that allegedly continued for at least two generations, which resulted in great population displacements among other disasters, such as storms and famine. People left their homes to live on the high hills and mountains, or nest in the trees.” – Wikipedia

Granny Weatherwax: Not heatwaving, but drowning

So, where to begin this report of the latest extreme weather conditions across the world (see previous episodes)? These reports I’ve been able to source cover just the week 30 July – 4 Aug*.

Japan: Typhoon Noru is expected to make landfall on Saturday, 5 Aug. in Kyushu island. Windspeeds estimated at 133 mph, wave heights at 16m (53 ft), up to a foot of rain forecast. South Korea also on alert for Noru’s plotted trajectory in the coming days.

Taiwan: Typhoon Nesat dumps 60 cm of rain overnight, 30 July. Flooding causes 10 thousand people to be evacuated, 130 injured. That was Saturday, on Monday Typhoon Haitang brought 100-mph winds and flooding to the north of the country. Half a million people were without electricity.

Myanmar (Burma): “Four western regions have been declared disaster zones after heavy floods, caused by monsoon rains, left at least 27 people dead. But rescue teams have not yet reached many areas and are still awaiting reports on the worst-hit regions. In the neighbouring eastern Indian state of Manipur, a landslide buried a village, killing at least 21 people.”

Vietnam: More than 30 people dead/missing in flash flooding in Mu Cang Chai, North Vietnam.

Thailand: Flooding in the wake of Tropical Storm Sonca last week has claimed 23 lives in Sakon Nakhon and is affecting two-thirds of the country with up to 2 metres of standing water in some places.

Indonesia: Jayapura city under three feet of water.

China: Fujian, SE China, 70 thousand people evacuated in advance of Typhoon Nesat and bracing for Haitang. Another of those violent ‘freak’ hailstorms hits Sichuan, causing damage and flash flooding. Chongquing city hit by severe storm.

China: “Shanghai, the most populous municipality in the world, is in the midst of a brutal heat wave, with the region topping 100 degrees for eight consecutive days and counting.”

India: Gujarat flooding – death toll exceeds 215 as more bodies recovered from receding waters. West Bengal, “At least 48 people died this week in the western part of the country. In the desert state of Rajasthan, about 24,000 people fled to higher ground” – AP. Unknown number of casualties – min. 3 – in flash flooding in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Villages cut off.

USA: ‘Historical flood’ inundates Kansas City after 7-in of water dumped overnight, with river levels up to two feet above previous records. A ‘rare’ tornado (only the third ever recorded) causes extensive damage in Maryland, where two people were drowned in flash flooding in Ellicott City on Monday. A sudden violent storm hits Phoenix, Arizona after weeks of 100F + heat.

USA: Tropical Storm Emily suddenly appears out of the Gulf, taking forecasters by surprise, flooding parts of Florida. While from Seattle, Washington State, comes news that it hasn’t rained for 47 days – approaching the record interval between showers. Las Vegas, Nevada, records its 55th day of 100F + heat.

USA: Just south of Seattle, Portland, Oregon is basking unusually in record 42C, 108F sunshine – local readings topping 120F in parts of the city. Corona, Southern California is hit by a sudden violent storm causing damage and localized flooding.

USA: “Hot and dry conditions in the West continue to influence large fire activity. Currently 36 large fires have burned nearly 580,000 acres. More than 11,500 firefighters and support personnel are assigned to incidents across the nation.” (1 Aug )

Canada: 150 wildfires are reportedly still burning in British Columbia, affecting over a million acres. People still being evacuated. Coastal cities smoke-ridden, 35C + heatwave warnings as far north as Vancouver.

Mexico: Violent storm, flash flooding washes away cars, buildings in the city of Ocampo.

Turkey: Another of those ‘freak’ hailstorms breaks car windows, causing extensive flash flooding in Istanbul for the second time in three weeks. An airliner is forced to make an emergency landing after sustaining damage from large hailstones.

Albania: “Armed forces joined hundreds of firefighters on Friday to battle dozens of forest fires as temperatures reached 40C (102F). Albania has asked the European Union for emergency assistance to help prevent the wildfires spreading near the capital, Tirana.”

Russia: “‘By 2080 Siberia (will) become ‘the go-to place to live due to climate change. Vineyards will flourish as winters become almost 10C milder’, says new scientific prediction.” Meanwhile: “In Yamalo-Nenets officials reported 47 wildfires across 2,097 hectares after a blast of hot weather … Local governor Dmitry Kobylkin said: ‘The temperature in the region is extreme. The situation will remain the same for some time’”.

The Arctic: Arctic sea surface temperature anomalies are well above 8°C (14.4°F) in several parts of the Arctic Ocean. Global sea ice extent is at a record low for the time of the year. “There is basically NO thick ice left on the Arctic Ocean surface.” (Paul Beckwith). Sea temperature average is 2.5C, 4.4F above 1981-2010. Sea surface temperature in the Bering Strait on 22 July recorded at 19C, 62F.

Atmospheric methane is currently at 3.7 times pre-industrial level. High levels recorded at both poles.

A tourist filmed this Renault car gently melting in the 39C heat of the town of Caorle, northern Italy, in August.

Mediterranean: A heatwave with a name! Lucifer…. “A surge of hot air will lift temperatures close to or above 40°C, 104°F across popular holiday destinations in the Med through to next week. Eastern Spain, Ibiza, Majorca, Italy, southern France, Croatia and Alpine regions will roast over the next (ten) days as temperatures climb to as high as 10-15C above average.” Severe thunderstorms are forecast for the whole of Europe.

Croatia: The temperature in fire-ravaged Split hit a record 42.3C (105F) on Friday. A lethal 46C (114.8F) is the forecast for northern Italy over the weekend. The heatwave is not expected to relent before Wednesday. Mysteriously, though Croatia Week carries a heat warning there is not one mention of the wildfires that have ravaged the country over the past two weeks. Tourism must go on.

Poland, Bulgaria, Romania all sweltering at 35C +, peak demand for electricity exceeded.

Spain: 300 evacuated from wildfire covering 2,500 acres of pine forest at Castilla-la-Mancha; firefighters have been battling a large fire 30 km south of Athens, Greece.

UK: The winter of 2016 was the warmest for England and Wales in records that stretch back to 1910 (shurely we’ve had weather records since the 1700s? Ed.), the Met Office’s annual State of the UK Climate report revealed Thursday. The average temperature from December 2015 to February 2016 was more than 2C above the long-term average across the southern half of the UK.

*NB some reports were added during editing after the original publication date of 02 Aug. Sources incl.:

Climate and Extreme Weather News #49, #50/ Extremeweather.co.uk/ US National Interagency Fire Center/ New York Times/ Washington Post/ Siberia Times/ Science Daily/ the Guardian/ BBC News/ Arctic News/ Croatia Week.

Paul Beckwith at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4L41UtGH7c

Britain finally floats free from the shackles of Europe! And northern Ireland. Oh, and the Isle of Wight… (BBC Weatherwatcher)

The BogPo – this week’s Post in the melting pot: One law for the movers and shakers… GW: gaily coloured sails out to sea, tacking to and fro… They think it’s all over…Who is Andrew Wheeler?

Great Gerald Ratner moments #27…

“I can’t control them,” Palihapitaya said of his former employer. “I can control my decision, which is that I don’t use that shit. I can control my kids’ decisions, which is that they’re not allowed to use that shit.” – Guardian, 12 Dec.

Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice-president for user growth (trans: marketing? Ed.) at Facebook, on social media.

 

One law for the movers and shakers

We read that Mr Paul Dacre has been awarded a 56% payrise… Or to put it another way, he has neatly sidestepped not receiving anything at all. The Guardian reports:

“Dacre was moved from DMGT’s annual bonus scheme to the LTIP in 2015 to make his remuneration “more directly linked to the overall success of the business”. His total remuneration of £2.37m – up 56% on £1.5m in 2016 when he had yet to receive his first LTIP payout – follows a 20% slump in DMGT’s share price after the company reported a sharp drop in annual profits and warned of a tough year ahead. … Overall, DMGT posted a 13% fall in adjusted profits before tax to £226m for the year to the end of September. Revenues were also down 13%,to £1.66bn.” – The Guardian

The abrasive Mail editor, 69, is also sitting on a £700 thousand annual pension entitlement. For comparison, your hardworking Uncle Bogler (68) receives roughly £14,000 a year before tax from his expansive pension pot; whilst nevertheless enjoying life to the full.

Meanwhile, the Mail continues its relentless campaign of outing greedy university Vice-Chancellors and their outrageous, unjustifiable salaries…

“A former university vice-chancellor was given £230,000 for his last month in the job after stepping down amid protests over outsourcing staff. Professor Michael Farthing was handed the golden payout by the University of Sussex ‘in lieu of notice’ after leaving his post in August 2016. … But the former boss only worked for the first month of that period, according to the records (sic) published by the Times (sic) Higher Education (THE).”

(btw, the ‘sic’s are just me feeling sick that some subeditor at the Mail is actually being paid for making these basic errors…)

“A university has been criticised for increasing the salary of its vice-chancellor by 55 per cent over six years, taking it £352,000 to a year (sic). Southampton University, currently led by Sir Christopher Snowden, was singled out by universities minister Jo Johnson as an example of the ‘endless upward ratchet’ of fat cat pay since tuition fees started.”

“Oxford University spent more than £100,000 on a makeover for its vice-chancellor’s luxury grace-and-favour home before she moved in last year. … Professor Louise Richardson moved into the Victorian mansion after an extensive refurbishment and building project. Despite earning £410,000 a year, including pension, she now lives there free and uses its rooms to hold events and host guests of the university. The home, bought by the university for £2 million in 2001, has a large period-style conservatory and an extensive walled and well-tended garden.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4783670/University-spends-100-000-vice-chancellor-s-home.html#ixzz50yQw9lLQ

But not perhaps so extensive or well-tended as Mr Dacre’s seventeen-thousand-acre country estate, Langwell, near Ullapool, in the wilds of Scotland. The difference being, it’s Prof. Richardson’s company house, which she has to open to guests, and give up when she leaves the job – Dacre owns his sprawling, grouse-rich latifundia outright, and any peasants cottaged thereon. We presume a park bench is also provided while he is working in London.

Not bad, for a man whose father sat out the war in New York as the ‘showbiz’ correspondent of Lord Beaverbrook’s formerly fascist-supporting Daily Express, yet who lambasts politicians’ fathers amongst many others for their lack of patriotism.

The seafront at Marseilles, Monday, as Ana whips up a storm across the whole of continental Europe with winds of hurricane force. (Aljazeera)

GW: gaily coloured sails out to sea, tacking to and fro

The weather chaos continues around the world…

USA: 11 Dec, after record snowfall – at 10 inches PER HOUR for a while – a low-pressure system moving rapidly off the North Pacific brings winds of up to 160 mph in the region of Fairbanks, Alaska – equivalent to a Cat 5 hurricane.

Temperatures north of the Canadian border continue at record highs for December, while in the southwestern US the hot, dry Santa Ana winds continue to flail Southern California, fanning the now enormous ‘Thomas’ fire, burning over an area near Los Angeles bigger than New York City. To the east, a chain of storms has brought heavy snowfall up from southern Texas all the way northward into New England.

Europe: High winds from Storm Ana have raised mountainous seas off of Portugal and into the Mediterranean; also through central Europe with winds gusting potentially to 2o0 mph over Austria, up into Poland (MrMBB333). Snow warnings are out in large areas of Spain. Heavy snowfalls were reported in northern Italy, northeastern France, Germany and Scandinavia.

The Mediano reservoir in the Pyrenees, on 19 November. Months without rain have resulted in widespread drought in Spain, with national reservoirs at only 37.3% of capacity, their lowest level in 22 years. (EPA/Javier Basco/BBC Weather). Now, it’s snowing…

UK: looking at the Accuweather map, 19.00 11 Dec, what the fuck is that out in the Atlantic? A massive storm system on the radar, barrelling eastwards toward the British Isles, yet not a word in the forecasts. This low was spotted on the map over the shoulder of a BBC weather forecaster leaving New England the night before last, but nothing was said.

The BogPo wonders conspiratorially, if the BBC weather service is constraining its forecasters to maintain seasonal good cheer and pretend that everything is normal? Except that bringing up the Wikipedia entry for ‘List of European windstorms’ over the centuries shows that we’re really getting off lightly these days: in 1362, a storm killed 25 thousand people in Britain and northern Europe.

Africa: President Kiir of South Sudan has declared a state of emergency and ordered the army to disarm cattle farmers involved in local grazing wars, as fighting spreads after years of drought.

 

They think it’s all over…

Earthquake monitor ‘Dutchsinse’ (Michael Janich) has identified from satellite imagery that among the wildfires affecting the state into this week, the extensive oil pumping operations in the hills north of Ventura, SoCal, may be on fire. Pressure to the wells may have increased as a result of an earthquake swarm currently, and a suspicion that at least two undersea volcanoes may be erupting simultaneously off the coast parallel with the pumping operations onland.

Anyone who thinks fracking is a strategically vital activity to develop independent UK gas supplies for the future and should automatically be permitted needs to watch the early-mid part of this little video clip from Janich, and you will understand what the geological threat is. They have dozens of earthquakes in the fracking zones of Colorado and Oklahoma and they very rarely happened before Harold Hamm and others started drilling the shit out of the bedrock 30 years ago. These thousands of drill-sites are also spewing out massive amounts of climate-altering methane, since Trump helpfully removed an Obama cap on emissions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHP26Nhaii0

 

Who is Andrew Wheeler?

Andrew Wheeler is a top executive at Washington lobbying firm, Faegre Baker Daniels (FBD). The account director working on the case of an American mining company, he has been lobbying the Trump administration to extend uranium mining and processing rights on public lands.

Bears Ears national monument lands, ripe for the taking.

The administration recently announced that it was scaling back protections to two public monuments by hundreds of thousands of acres, one of which is known for a geographical feature called Bears Ears. It’s territory sacred to the Navajo, some of whose famous surviving ‘Code talkers’ were glad-handed at the White House two weeks ago, a reception at which Trump embarrassed himself and the entire country by referring to his Congressional critic, Senator Elizabeth Warren, as ‘Pocohontas’.

But that’s just because he’s a casual racist orange slug, incapable of either empathy or, indeed, rational thought. He’s just learning on the job and will, the New York Times promises us, become more Presidential in time.

In a statement, Trump confusingly argued that by privatizing public lands, he was somehow making them more public. “Public lands”, he trumpeted, “will once again be for public use.” But nobody had said they weren’t!

President Obama’s extension of public rights to more monument lands had meant people were being denied their traditional rights over them, the President claimed, through undefined “abuses of the Antiquities Act”, in perhaps the most Orwellian example of Doublespeak that has yet dribbled like liquid shit from his demented old brain.

His internal affairs secretary, the much-travelled (privately, at taxpayers’ expense) Ryan Zinke backed him up: no, he lied brazenly, there are no mining interests at Bears Ears.

Like hell there aren’t. FBD was hired by a company called Energy Fuels Resources to get this deal stitched up. As they say on their website:

“Energy Fuels is the only conventional uranium producer in America. We take great pride in owning and operating facilities that produce 11.5 million pounds of uranium per year – and we have the capability to scale-up those operations as uranium prices rise in the coming years.”

Mr Zinke does have a point: Energy Fuels is having to scale-back production at present, owing to the low world price of uranium. However there are obvious advantages in holding land concessions for future exploitation; while Mr Trump’s hell-for-leather, pointless willy-bragging expansion policy for nuclear weapons will no doubt benefit the share price of the Energy Fuels monopoly.

His beneficent attitude towards the company no doubt also played into his recent bizarre and spurious attacks on Hillary Clinton over the so-called ‘Uraniumgate’ affair, when she was accused of betraying the US uranium industry to… the Russians. Which the facts suggest she really didn’t.

So who made up the story?

Mr Wheeler’s persuasive lobbying style obviously appealed to Trump, as he has nominated him to the post of Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, working to the profoundly corrupt energy corporations shill and unqualified climate-change denier, Scott Pruitt. His nomination is awaiting Senate confirmation.

Yet another example of Trump ‘draining the swamp’, no doubt. Better have these dreadful people inside the tent after all, is the logic.

As long as they bring their money.

Story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3W78oocRjc, and The Washington Post.

The BogPo: Dreamtime… The New Minister and the Daily Mail… Privilege… Insanity… Peace on Earth, from an unlikely quarter… GW: chestnuts nipping at your nose

Dreamtime…

“Dear Donald,

“Thank you so much for your helpful Tweet, which I eventually received via some poor lady in Ramsgate with the same name.

“You probably can’t remember who I am, it’s been several months after all, but before I was dragged from a cupboard at the Home Office and universally hailed as the new Prime Minister by a somewhat more constitutional process, I might remark, than your own, I did spend six years in charge of anti-terrorist operations in the UK. I do know something about it.

“For instance, I brought in some of the most oppressive surveillance laws, deradicalization programs, border controls and onerous immigration rules anywhere in the Western world, that make yours look like a MacDonald’s drive-thru.

“As a clergyman’s daughter, I even tried to deport a 92-year-old, insufficiently well-documented blind woman to South Africa, a country where she didn’t know anyone at all. Sadly, she was saved on the runway by a 300,000-signature petition… It’s true, we’re going soft. Perhaps we could find a job for your friend, Mr Arpaio?

And, of course, I authorized GCHQ surveillance on several of your campaign team and their friends in the Kremlin. Tsk, tsk, Donald. What were you thinking?

“Anyway, apart from getting your stupid Muslim ban overturned three times, a few pathetic tweets, what have you ever done to combat terrorism? Apart from making things a lot worse bombing innocent people with your invisible planes, and imagining Jerusalem is the capital of Israel? How many Nazi mass-shootings have you celebrated since yesterday, you ignorant old sack of composting cheeseburger?

“Fuck you.

“Regards, Theresa (you remember, the lady with the shoes…? And no, I don’t love you, Donald. I never did.)

(PS, the visit’s off. Security… Buy your own sodding carriage!)”

 

The New Minister and the Daily Mail

“Britons who have fought for Islamic State abroad should be hunted down and killed to ensure they never return to the UK, the (recently appointed) defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, has said. In the strongest remarks yet from a senior cabinet minister, Williamson suggested there was deliberate targeting of British jihadists by the armed forces fighting Isis as the group retreats in Syria and Iraq. (He) told the Daily Mail: “A dead terrorist can’t cause any harm to Britain.”

Welcome to the post-Trump world. Nasty, brutish and short, hopefully.

IF … the BogPo were to suggest that Conservative ministers should be hunted down and killed to ensure half a million more British children aren’t plunged into poverty next year and their parents driven to suicide or starved out of their homes by heartless benefit cuts and punitive outsourced agency regimes, and disabled workers deprived of additional help to get to work because, as the Conservative chancellor Mr Hammond believes, they are a drag on productivity; to provide adequate resources to many vital services such as the police, and to ensure that the elderly aren’t turfed out of their closing or unaffordable care homes; to repair the pointless rift with the EU that – as negotiations wear on fruitlessly and the Irish panic and senior Conservative ministers reveal themselves to be incompetent, clueless lunatics, plotters and traitors – will only worsen economic prospects for millions over the next twenty years…

If the BogPo were to advocate stringing those Conservative ministers up on lamp-posts all along Whitehall, which he doesn’t, because he is a believer in non-violence, I guess the security forces would be beating down his door anyday soon, so he won’t be suggesting that at all. He merely uses it as an illustration, a comparative allegory to highlight the enormity of the new Defence Secretary ‘s jéjune remarks to the Daily Mail, where he will no doubt have found a willing and agreeable readership of senescent, atavistic baboons to cheer him on, without even trying.

I don’t suppose he’d say the same to The Guardian, so it’s just cheap tricks and if he’s going to be a proper, responsible politician when he grows up, he’ll hopefully know better.

Instead, the BogPo will try to point out that extrajudicial killing, whoever it is done by and whyever it is done, is a crime in international law, and this little proto-fascist shitbrains, this grossly irresponsible, stupid Williamson office pot-plant, this security risk should be fired forthwith lest he incur an embarrassing prosecution in the International Court as an accessory during, before and after the fact of what is, technically, and regardless of who it is done to, or what the individual may have done, murder.

Just sayin’.

That, as British citizens, even ISIS dumbfucks have a right to a fair trial, to show we are better than they are, okay?

Oh, and by the way, this Williamson bloke needs to have a word with whoever it was, it may have been us or perhaps the Americans, who negotiated the free passage to safety in and beyond Idlib of 400 ISIS jihadis and their families observed leaving Raqqa in convoy as the city fell to the Syrian army and other helpful allied groups.

I mean, murdering them after that would be the equivalent of a country-house grouse shoot, no?

x

Privilege

“British novelist”, Zia Haider Rahman has published just the one novel, In the Light of What We Know. He is said currently to be working on a second, modestly entitled “Creation”. Yet since his only book appeared to critical acclaim in 2014 he has been laden with international honours:

In August 2015, Rahman was awarded the prestigious James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Britain’s oldest literary prize. In 2016 he was the recipient of the inaugural International Ranald McDonald prize.

Rahman has been appointed to a Radcliffe Fellowship for 2017-18 at Harvard University, and to a 2018 Director’s Visitorship at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

Rahman is also an Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fellow 2017 at New America, Washington DC.

He was awarded the Michael & Nina Sundell and the James Silberman & Selma Shapiro Fellowships at Yaddo in 2017. (Where that? Ed.) Rahman is also a Senior Fellow at the Bruno Kreisky Forum, Vienna.

Rahman joined Maureen Freely and Antonia Fraser, Vicky Featherstone and Peter Stothard as a judge of the 2016 PEN Pinter Prize which was established in 2009 by English PEN in memory of Nobel Laureate playwright and poet Harold Pinter.

His Wikipedia entry continues with a brief but nonetheless remarkable biography of a pathos to rival that of Jesus of Nazareth:

Rahman was born in rural Bangladesh. … His family moved to the UK when Rahman was small, where they were squatters in a derelict building before being moved to a council estate. His father was a bus conductor and waiter and his mother a seamstress. Rahman attended a comprehensive school. In an interview with Guernica, he remarked that he “grew up in poverty, in some of the worst conditions in a developed economy.”

So far, so unpromising. Until, somehow….

Rahman took a first class honours degree from Balliol College, Oxford, with further studies at the Maximilianeum and Munich, Cambridge and Yale universities. He worked as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs in New York before practising as a corporate lawyer and then as an international human rights lawyer focusing on corruption. He has also worked as an anti-corruption activist for Transparency International. – Wikipedia

Rahman appeared on BBC Radio 4’s A Point of View this morning, giving a ten-minute talk bemoaning the dreadful lack of diversity in British institutions.

You say it, I won’t.

 

“The music industry is perhaps more prone than most to cultural stereotyping, as it makes its profits from inventing cultural stereotypes.”

Insanity…

BBC music presenter Reggie Yates, a person hitherto unknown to the BogPo, has reportedly been forced to step down from his job presenting this year’s Top of the Pops “holiday special” shows because he hasn’t caused enormous offence to the entire J(can’t say it) community, at least not until the story was publicized via the BBC’s own news services, thus causing the previously unnoticed offence of which he has been accused.

Interviewed in an online podcast of a specialized nature, he gave an opinion, the wrong one apparently, in defence of Independent recording artists preferring to retain their artistic integrity, that music industry management is too dominated by “fat J***** guys” and that black musicians were insufficiently represented at the highest administrative levels, where decisions are made regarding promotions and recording contracts and that sort of thing.

He was, in short, criticising the music business’ lack of cultural DIVERSITY – diversity these days being, as we know, a major management preoccupation and absorber of much licence-payer money currently of… the BBC. And, possibly, drawing attention to the limited musical compass and innate conservatism of the small group of powerful individuals he mentioned, who undoubtedly exist.

(Several years ago I applied for a very casual, very lowly part-time job as the guy who goes round to unlock our local automated BBC studio for programme guests arriving to be interviewed on breakfast shows around the country, settles them in and makes them a cup of coffee. One of the first questions I was asked was, what would I do to maintain diversity within the BBC? I replied that it probably depended on who showed up… I didn’t get the job.)

In that sense, he is no more antisemitic or fattist than, say, Sir Lenny Henry, the honoured actor and comedian who most loudly protests minority underrepresentation in the media, despite the enormous, obvious and welcome influx of minority broadcasters, writers, actors and producers in recent years, and the fact that his entire successful career has been based on his acceptance as a minority performer; or similarly, as mentioned above, the much-feted single-novelist and Balliol graduate, Mr Zia Rahman.

Both have been critical of middle-class, middle-aged white men and their dominance of our cultural institutions. As a middle-class, middle-aged white man, your Uncle Bogler is deeply offended. Honestly. These wicked stereotypers must resign their influential positions immediately!

Now, the BogPo is not certain if Mr Yates was stereotyping the music industry, fat people or J-words. Probably all three, or none. The music industry is perhaps more prone than most to cultural stereotyping, as it makes its profits from inventing cultural stereotypes. Perhaps he was just making a valid observation, albeit in rather loose terms he thought his eclectic audience might readily understand.

The point of stereotypes being that they can be useful shorthand when promoting understanding. People can find them endearing: we may recall Beattie, the overfond J***** mother in the BT ads, played by Maureen Lipman. I don’t recall anyone being fired?

All we can say is, Mr Yates seems to know the music business inside-out, it’s his job, and he has a perfect right to make observations on it, in what was once a free country but is fast becoming an authoritarian dictatorship of whingeing special-interest groups seeking to empower themselves exclusively through subordinating the common language to their special causes.

Where genuine discrimination exists, let it be stamped out. If what Yates says is not true, then let the muscular Scottish Presbyterians of music industry management, the flaky Buddhists, the Yoga-mat housewives, the grouchy, anorexic teenagers, the venal, fat-cat politicians and the morose, alcoholic detectives of the music business come forth and put their case for less stereotypical representation of their roles in the media. Let the fat J***** guys – statistically, there must be some – step up to defend their position, if they can. They are welcome to do so.

The hypocrisy of the BBC is breathtaking. It never ceases to take the breath of the BogPo, anyway. Their desperate need not to cause anyone offence, to offer up such anodyne content as to leave the viewers and listeners in a state of suburban catatonia, borders on institutional insanity as it so clearly conflicts with the desire of their contributors to shake things up a bit. It must be becoming an impossible content platform for creatives to work in.

There is, as far as we can see, frankly, no more ‘stereotyping’ involved in what might be a perfectly accurate and not very offensive or, indeed, original observation on the management of the music business than in a thousand and one dramatic characters created for BBC dramas, bit-parts of what you might describe as the ‘black’ variety, Afro-Caribbean or Indian Subcontinental; or represented in the news: gangsters, baristas, indigents, migrants, losers, DJs, drug-addicts, rapists, rappers, car-thieves, famine victims… piccaninnies with watermelon smiles (©B. deF. Johnson, 2015).

Mr Yates is, we can be sure of it, perfectly accustomed to feeling himself pigeonholed by the BBC and other producers in any one or all of a painfully limited list of stereotypes, on account of the colour of his skin. We might wonder what instant conclusions the J***** community might jump to, when confronted with a shwartze on their TV screen? We all discriminate, we all rush to judgement, draw immediate conclusions based on first impressions. It’s human nature; there are no special cases.

We all carry around in our heads, simple ideas and images enabling us to make more rapid sense of the world; many based on prior cultural assumptions and influences. For instance, we haven’t yet stopped excoriating the stereotypical sexual incontinence of fat J***** Hollywood moguls, as exemplified by Mr Harvey Weinstein.

In the opinion of the BogPo this is, sadly, yet another instance of the flabby-faced moral cowards at the BBC cravenly submitting to the powerful J***** lobby, even before the I****** ambassador has personally weighed in yet again to protest the disgraceful antisemitism of British institutions, as is his wont; usually in defence, let it be said, of the indefensible.

(To whom, in passing, the BogPo would like to wish a Merry Christmas, and a just fuckoff New Year, Mr Regev.)

 

Peace on Earth… from an unlikely quarter

“We want peace, and we will not follow government orders – we’re tired of this,” said the spokesman outside the national police headquarters. “We aren’t with a political ideology. We can’t keep confronting people, and we don’t want to repress and violate the rights of the Honduran people.” – Guardian, 5 Dec.

Thank God, at last!

The BogPo has been asking for some time in the light of the troubles in Venezuela, why it is that national police forces are always so willing to act against their own personal and family interests by putting on menacing protective gear looking like extras from a Star Wars movie and going on the streets to beat up, roughly detain for torture, or even kill mostly peaceful protestors.

Why it never seems to occur to them that those people like themselves are only there marching because they want a better life for everyone – including, presumably, the police and their families.

Why they seem so happy to prop-up corrupt and incompetent dictators, enact repressive measures and clamp down on reporting as the currency inflates and the supermarket shelves empty of food and toilet rolls; knowing, surely, that all such regimes are ultimately doomed to fail?

‘Twas ever thus.

We have seen it happen right across South America, the Arab world, at the grotesque G20 summits – and even in North America, where labor unionists, civil rights protestors and others exercising their First Amendment right to protest the government of the day have met with unceasingly enthusiastic, mindless brutality over the years at the hands and billy-clubs and teargas and guns of thuggish government agents and private business armies of hired goons.

And now the police in Tegucigalpa are refusing to leave barracks as the businessmen’s government of Juan Orlando Hernandez, backed of course by the US State department and the CIA, struggles to enforce its blatantly rigged election victory over the mildly leftwing opposition candidate, Salvador Nasralla, whose majority share of the vote mysteriously disappeared before the final count.

While “Hernandez is a close ally of the United States and his government has closely co-operated with Washington on border security, counternarcotics operations and migration policy” – to the extent that Washington chucks millions of dollars at him, it is widely reported that the Hernandez government is profiting greatly from the drugs trade. There is no reason, either, to suspect that a Nasralla government would not continue co-operation with the US on security and border issues.

“…a member of the Cobras anti-riot squad said: “This is not a strike, this not about salaries or money. It’s that we have family. We are tired. And our job is to give peace and security to the Honduran people, not repress them. We want all Hondurans to be safe.”

Alleluja, someone has finally seen the light.

Of course, it won’t stay shining for long, the vile Trump regime will see to that. But what if rebellion were to spread this Christmas to become a worldwide movement against the thugs, the charlatans and the drug-money-fuelled criminal scum, to make security forces just that – security forces, protective of the people, rather than mere instruments of corrupt, self-interested repression?

Just askin’.

 

Fascism corner:

“The Israeli military reported that at least three projectiles were fired at its territory Thursday from Gaza but that two fell short and the third caused no damage. In response, Israeli jets and tanks struck two Hamas military sites in Gaza, the Israeli army said in a statement. The army ‘holds Hamas responsible for hostile activity . . . against Israel from the Gaza Strip,’ the statement said.” – Guardian

The BogPo holds the witless orange pig Trump responsible for destabilizing the peace process in the Middle East merely to appease his more rabid religious dumbfucks. The BogPo holds the corrupt Binyamin Netanyahu responsible for crimes against humanity and the illegal detention and wilful mistreatment of 1.2 million Palestinians.

Impeach them both, now.

x

GW: chestnuts nipping at your nose

USA: “A swath of high-impact snowfall—in some places, among the heaviest ever observed—made its way from South Texas to Atlanta on Friday, en route to the big cities of the Northeast U.S. (see below). Meanwhile, massive wildfires continued to scorch the landscape of Southern California, raging at unprecedented scope for December. … With no sign of any meaningful rains for Southern California over the next two weeks, it is quite possible that some of this week’s wildfires will burn until Christmas and beyond. … (Hurricane) Harvey’s 60 inches of rain near Port Arthur were the greatest on record for any storm in U.S. recorded history. Despite this unprecedented deluge, portions of the (Texas) region that received 20+ inches of rain are now in drought.” – Wunderground

“California’s coastal cities and mountains are on high alert this week, as an unusually (late) prolonged bout of (bone-dry) Santa Ana winds blowing toward the coast will lead to a multi-day period of extremely dangerous fire weather.” Rain in SoCal has been almost non-existent this autumn, with 30-year record low rainfall around San Diego of just 0.2mm since 1 October.

An entire neighborhood was destroyed in Santa Rosa on October 20. 40 died.
( Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

“27,000 residents forced to flee (5 Dec) the cities of Ventura and Santa Paula, 70 miles (115 km) north of Los Angeles. Firefighters warned the fire was moving so fast they were unable to contain it. Fanned by 70 mph winds, the fire swept through 31,000 acres (12,500 hectares) in a matter of hours.” An elderly woman was found dead in her car. (edited from reports).

Early winter blizzards closed schools and delayed flights in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Extensive heavy snow warnings are out in the midwest. Winter Storm Benji threatens to blanket the entire east coast with 4-in or more snow.

Canada: Daytime temperatures in Edmonton, Alberta have been up to 10 deg. C (50F) above normal for the time of year.

Taiwan: experts are consulting the record books over a rainbow that hung over the city of Taipei for 9 hours.

Solomon Islands: “Hundreds of people have been forced to leave their homes on Guadalcanal after rivers overflowed on 05 Dec. Heavy rain has affected the country over the last few days. In a 24 hour period between 04 and 05 December, 97 mm of rain fell in Honiara, the capital.”

Brazil: Rio Casca underwater (Dec 4).

Panama: Panama City underwater (Dec 2).

UK: Storm Caroline hit the north of Britain this week, with forecast winds of up to 90mph (135kph) prompting a severe Amber weather warning for northern Scotland. Oil rigs were being evacuated in advance of 15m (48ft) waves, and schools and bridges closed. A gust of 116 mph was recorded in the Cairngorms. It’s only the third named storm of the autumn so far. Snow and plummeting temperatures were forecast to affect the northwest of the country  by Friday.

France: heavy snowfall blocks roads in the south-east of the country.

Albania: five days after torrential rain caused extensive flooding, the country’s government has called for international aid, “Damage assessments suggest that more than 15,000 hectares have been flooded and the current assessment indicates the following damage: 4,715 buildings, 41 businesses, 127 road sections, 177 schools, 78 bridges, 30 water supply stations, 11 dams, 26 electrical stations, 29 dikes and one water pumping station.” Quite a Christmas list….

BBC News/ Wunderground/ Floodlist/Neven1 Arctic Sea Ice blog, PIOMAS/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #85

The Parade’s Gone By… Careless tweets cost lives… Granny W. with her skirts a blowin’ about her ears… Thursday’s Post under construction (because you had that the day before…)

“Golden words he will pour in your ear – But his lies can’t disguise what you fear – It’s the kiss of death – from Mister Goldfinger…” (Newley/Barry/Bricusse) (photo: twitter.com)

Since San Juan, Trumps approval rating has fallen to 32%.

 

“I am going to take my life in my hands and contend that the desire of a powerful man to have sex with an attractive young woman is entirely normal.”

The Parade’s Gone By

Forgive me for introducing this topic again, but I’m beginning to feel a little sorry for Harvey Weinstein.

I know, I know.

But look. A pretty starlet is invited to his room and he appears from the bathroom in a bathrobe. There’s a bit of leery, expectational stuff and she leaves. His PA apologizes. And this, about 20 years later, is described in the Guardian as the poor woman undergoing a terrifying ordeal. Do me a favour!

I experienced far worse assaults by dressing-gown at my British public-school in the 1960s.

What does anyone expect, being invited to the hotel room of a bigshot producer late at night? Many people, not just men still see sex in the classic literary terms of a game of ‘pursuit and conquest’. Whole websites exist only to enable people to copulate with a different partner every night; or to meet people with similar perversions – or just to watch.

But make an actual pass at someone… ho no, it’s jail time for you.

I’ve heard (women) interviewees expressing the ‘matronizing’ view that 22-year-old actresses are just vulnerable, unsuspecting children. And the preoccupation of the world’s media for days with this one obnoxious sex-pest, his dressing-gowns and his power complex, the ‘Savilization’ of Weinstein, the emergence from the woodwork of so many ‘victims’ – some of whom may have just cause, but have not gone public for twenty, thirty years – others possibly bandwaggon-jumping, expressing faux-outrage over their own inconclusive encounter with the Beast of Hollywood, explaining their career hiccup away as a result of offending Harvey, if that’s not too unfair, has made this one somewhat outlandish figure into a nightmarish symbol of patriarchal oppression – rather more than he deserves.

‘Harvey, the Movie’ cannot be far in the future.

Hollywood moguls have been doing this stuff since the days when no-one thought anything much of it; although now you might raise an eyebrow at the career-defining opportunities that went on, and the career-damage that might have greeted a spirited denial of facilities. Nevertheless, purely transactional sex does go on, the power-plays, the gold-digging, and not only in the movie business.

The time to say no is in the restaurant.

Yes, ‘Hurricane’ Harvey appears to have done some worse things. Forgetting to put the bathrobe on is one. I haven’t heard yet that he ever greeted a starlet in his room with his dick in his hand, publicly masturbating, as Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly is reported to have done with some of Murdoch’s more attractive soubrettes; as his boss, Roger Ailes, also reportedly did*. I shouldn’t be surprised, but ladies, that’s when a man is at his most vulnerable.

Nor has he seemingly murdered anyone. Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle was an inadequate man, a successful comic actor and film director from an abusive family background who ended up on trial in 1920 for the rape and murder of a starlet, Virginia Rappe. There had been a party, drugs, sex, illicit booze… Enormous quantities of shit were thrown, ambitious lawyers and politicians grandstanding for weeks, ‘witnesses’ extorting money, Hearst’s yellow press in full cry.

Nowadays it would be invidious to point to Rappe’s pretty terrible sexual history, the many abortions, the heavy drinking, the fucked-up life; the erratic testimony of witnesses, the lack of medical evidence of rape (the prosecution alleged that Arbuckle was impotent) and the endorsement of colleagues like Chaplin, who had known the 300-lb Arbuckle for years as a shrinking violet – whose own sexual conduct had not exactly been spotless. The cause of death was nothing more lurid than peritonitis, which the prosecution tried to put down to Arbuckle lowering his gross tonnage onto the poor girl. But there was no evidence. Arbuckle was acquitted, though his career never fully recovered.

Something similar happened to the mysteriously popular British entertainer and game show host, Michael Barrymore after Stuart Lubbock, 31, drowned in his swimming pool during a wild party in 2001. Problems with alcohol and press reports that the married Barrymore had come out as bisexual, together with evidence that Lubbock had had anal sex before death, created a whirlpool of suspicion and innuendo from which the host was unable to extricate himself for several years, at the cost of his career. Barrymore recently won a damages action against the local police.

Let’s face it, entertainers have egos. Why else would they be driven to parade themselves? The life of most actors is pretty frustrating: very few make it to the top and even fewer stay there. Most are insecure: they need to match themselves in real life with their heroic onscreen personas. They demonstrate their affairs publicly to prove how attractive they still are. As a British actor, the late Michael Bryant (a notorious shagger) once commented, if you were a heterosexual male in the British theatre, you had it made. There weren’t many of those to go round.

Does that presuppose a generalized abuse of patriarchal power? Because if so, it also denies women the power of their own sexuality, their needs and desires, and makes victims of them all. Predatory white middle-aged males are not always the problem: not many young soubrettes wanted to be alone around Coral Browne, or Marlene Dietrich. And I don’t suppose I’d like to be a young black woman involved in the rougher end of the rap music video scene; or who encountered Bill Cosby at the height of his career.

Showbiz is, to put it bluntly, about sex, and sexiness.

But there are now at least five allegations of actual rape against Weinstein, which he denies. If true, it is admittedly far more serious. It’s possible he was overpowering, violent, but it doesn’t yet sound like it. He seems from some testimony to have been amenable to being told he was a naughty boy and should stop. The impression given by the media, of an old man leering and leching over young women, is titivating – until you stop and realize that thirty years ago when this stuff seems to have started, he too was 30 years younger.

Let’s face it, Weinstein is no oil painting; maybe a Francis Bacon. He is probably the ugliest man ever. A caveman. That’s only judging from still photos – we don’t all look our best without that animated twinkle in our piggy eyes, the movement that catches the light or sets our massive jaw in a more attractive profile; the responses to other people, the power.

‘The smiles, the frowns, the upside-downs…’

Alfred Hitchcock was no oil-painting either; barely a pastel. But he had a rather tragic addiction to unavailable Nordic-blonde actresses and seems to have been just as unsuccessful at winning their hearts as Weinstein; not for lack of trying. Nor is there any suggestion that Weinstein tortured his victims, as Hitchcock did to Tippi Hedren, star of his overrated horror film, The Birds, when he relentlessly shot five days of unnecessary footage of her being attacked by hungry starlings until the blood ran down her pretty face, after she refused his advances in a taxi.

But Weinstein? Probably not. Although there are women no doubt who would see past the stubbly, prognathous jaw, the slobbery mouth, the piggy eyes, the hairy fat gut and the chubby white legs with (probably) unattractive stocking suspenders, to the sensitive millionaire movie producer beneath… women who marry very ugly men for a million reasons: power being one. Aristotle Onassis was no Adonis, but he owned a shipping line, he bagged Jackie Kennedy. And Weinstein had a very attractive British wife, a former model, who has now baled on him. Was she entirely unaware of his sexual predelictions? Did they matter, until the world’s media showed up?

This whole affair is taking on the dimensions of a pack of wolverines in pursuit of one fat, ugly, late-middle-aged, wealthy American Jew, probably grown as desperate for female approbation as Trump is desperate for actual voters, with an underdeveloped teenage Philip Roth-level appetite for having his pudding pulled, who through his own craven admissions and apologies and promises to take counselling and go to rehab and mend his terrible ways and do better in future has almost certainly terminated a career that produced many quite fine films – a stunning gaffe on the part of his PR people.

I introduce the word Jew advisedly, as there is an obvious antisemitic trope threading through the expanding field of opprobrium surrounding this poor, ugly schmuck, now known in the British tabloids as ‘The Beast’, whose intellect and strength of purpose are being essentially sacrificed to the new Puritanism, as redefined by the lexicon of abuse and victimhood, of ‘safe spaces’ and premarital pledges; a reaction to the dark side of human existence, which is never going to go away; nor can one quite see why it should.

The thing about Weinstein is, he was the best in class at playing the game: Bigshot Hollywood Producer. The lecherous stuff, the casual brutality, the payoffs with non-disclosure clauses – the disrespect for the legions of wannabes goes with that: it’s out of Central Casting. And now he’s taking the hit for all the others, and one is not allowed to express the slightest concern for him: the way James Corden and Woody Allen have been shredded for what seemed like prevarication is like watching Tippi Hedren being pecked to death by starlings.

I am going to take my life in my hands and contend that the desire of a powerful man to have sex with an attractive young woman is entirely normal, and this is a huge fuss about a badly behaved but very wealthy, entitled and well-connected slob who imagines women find him attractive without his bathrobe, but probably doesn’t care overmuch if they don’t. If the rape allegations prove true, well, I’ll take most of it back.

Tonight, in the wake of BAFTA’s withdrawal of his credentials, the Motion Picture Academy of America is debating expelling Weinstein from their honoured ranks and Macron is taking away his Legion d’Honneur. (Yes, he was that good. While being bad, of course.) Petitions are being got up, police reluctantly stirring their bones to start raking through the muck of many lives. Not, I venture to suggest, because of the unique nature of his sexual predation, which is pretty much par for the course in the movie business; but because they know, they just fucking know, that this kind of thing has been going on since the silent movies started in the 1910s, probably since showbiz began in the 17th century, and they’ve ignored it until they couldn’t any longer.

This is not about injured women: it’s about the Oscars, about their ‘reputation’ which is, as it should be, scandalous.

As for ‘Hurricane’ Harvey, well, if he wasn’t so shy and retiring and was more ambitious to save his nation from lousy trade deals, it could be him in the White House, the police would not be investigating his gropings, and even high-minded women with PhDs and housewives in Peoria would be voting for him to grab their pussies.

Just sayin’.

*Oh sorry, we now have an account of Weinstein jerking off into a plant pot. Oh well. It takes all sorts.

x

Commander-in-Brief

As a record number of wildfires break out (probably set deliberately – arrests have followed) in northern Portugal and the neighbouring Spanish province of Galicia, despite all his problems with Catalonia the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy is rushing to his native region to oversee the firefighting and rescue operations (more than 30 people have been killed, adding to the 65 who died in fires in central Portugal last July.)

To date there is no record of US ‘Commander-in-Chief’ Donald Trump being bothered even to express sympathy and solidarity with the people of northern California, where over 40 are confirmed dead and ‘hundreds’ remain missing after fires driven by hot, dry winds devastated whole communities, destroying over 5 thousand homes around Santa Rosa. He has merely rubber-stamped an order sending the overstretched and underbudgeted FEMA emergencies management administration swinging into helpless action.

Googling “Trump visit California” brings up only: “Donald Trump will attend a dinner with Friends of Abe, a group of Hollywood conservatives, during a stop in Los Angeles.” Oh, sorry, that was NBC in July 2015.

Santa Rosa. A Mexican name…

Or could it just be that Trump lost the Sunshine State by 4 million votes on 08 November 2016, and hates Californians?

x

“How aware is Trump that his more intemperate and vengeful messages are being amplified by hostile actors to bring his country down…?”

Careless tweets cost lives

The Pumpkin drew your attention last week to the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC and her summation of the latest media reports on the growing awareness of the extent of Russian interference in the US elections last year.

It’s clear the experiment goes on, as Tom McCarthy reports in the Guardian (Saturday 14th Oct):.

“What has now been made clear is that Russian trolls and automated bots not only promoted explicitly pro-Donald Trump messaging, but also used social media to sow social divisions in America by stoking disagreement and division around a plethora of controversial topics such as immigration and Islamophobia. And, even more pertinently, it is clear that these interventions are continuing…”

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/14/russia-us-politics-social-media-facebook

In case anyone shrugs and says, oh well, what do you expect? It’s just trolls and bots and stuff, political advertising isn’t illegal. No, at least it is if it’s paid for by a foreign government – hence the use of ‘dark money’ funneled into politicians’ PACs via untraceable shell companies and laundered through US property deals – but there’s evidence that Trump’s frankly infantile and increasingly delusionary tweets are acting as a trigger for Russian fake social media accounts to amplify his bizarre messages in order to deepen the divisions in US political discourse.

“…social media accounts linked with Russian influence operations appear to have taken cues directly and immediately from the @realdonaldtrump Twitter account, according to analysis by the Washington-based Alliance for Securing Democracy…”

And on Bannon’s advice, Trump is already fundraising for “Re-elect Trump 2020”. The campaign has already started.

One example given was the spat between the fatuous orange oaf and the beleaguered Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Julin Cruz, over the humiliating ineffectuality of the Commander-in-Chief’s failed aid operation in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria, with stories spreading on Facebook about failures by the authorities on Puerto Rico, that hadn’t happened. Similar agitprop followed Trump’s much criticized outburst about the NFL ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, calling San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick a ‘son of a bitch’ for refusing to stand for the national anthem.

How aware is Trump that his more intemperate and vengeful tweets are being amplified by hostile actors to bring his country down?

Indeed, was Trump not aware that Puerto Rico is an American dependency and that its residents have American citizenship? Not at first, it appears – hence, his contemptuously dismissive comments about them being a drain on the economy, how much worse had been the death toll from Hurricane Katrina (so with only 16 dead they should stop complaining), how they should pay back the money they owed America before he would support Congressional funding to improve their infrastructure, and how he ‘knew many Puerto Ricans’ whose migration to New York in the 1960s had ruined whole neighbourhoods.

If he is not completely ignorant about the status of Puerto Rico and its 3.5 million American citizens – many of them white – then the man is, in short, a racist fucking pig.

Does he understand that Facebook group pages such as Secured Borders, Texas Rebels, Being Patriotic, LGBT United and Blacktivists, specialist sites which put out a subtle mix of propaganda messages from fake accounts targeted at hundreds of thousands of real account holders identified as likely being either pro- or anti- the causes seemingly espoused, and which have been re-amplified to hundreds of millions of accounts, are all fake news – constructed by Russian intel operations?

Probably not. If he does, he’s a traitor and should be duly arraigned and jailed.

But apparently, it’s not against the law to conspire with a foreign state to rig your own election, provided of course you don’t tell the leader of that state in advance about your nuclear plans, or give away the intelligence secrets of your foreign allies…

Ooops.

But it appears the Russians aren’t the only ones playing Infowar-style games with the netizens of other countries. In a separate report, The Observer newspaper has been attempting to get to the bottom of a secret British campaign to influence Russian-speaking populations against the Putin regime in the border countries – Latvia. Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine. Populations who might, as in Ukraine, welcome Russian expansionist moves. And they’ve discovered it’s so secret, a Parliamentary oversight committee can’t even find out where it’s being conducted:

“Britain’s broader package of assistance to Ukraine, which is engaged not just in a bitter conflict with Russian-backed separatists but also a propaganda war with the Kremlin, included £2.4m to help the Kiev government improve its communications strategy. The Observer has established that the money came from the £1bn-plus conflict, stability and security fund (CSSF), a source so secret that a committee of senior MPs and peers meant to be scrutinising it have been denied access to the names of the 40 countries where it is spent.”

Meanwhile, British intelligence has been ‘confirming’ that Iran was behind a cyber attack on the emails of British MPs back in June. It was thought to have been a Russian or North Korean operation, but now the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is in the frame it will surely add fuel to Mr Trump’s anti-Iranian fire, in case British MPs are ever called upon to vote to go to war on his coattails.

We should note in passing, that since the Cameron government transferred the cost of running the BBC’s World Service broadcasts from the Foreign Office to the TV licence-payer in 2014, saving £46 million, the number of country-by-country services has been drastically reduced – North Korea among them. Now however it seems we’re ploughing £1 billion into a budget to transfer our black propaganda activities to the internet.

‘O tempora, O mores’, as someone once said. Boris Johnson, probably.

x has been tryhing to delve into a secret campaign Britain is running in the

Granny W. with her skirts a blowin’ about her ears…

 

Republic of Ireland: Three dead, property damage, tens of thousands without power after “ex-hurricane” Ophelia transits the entire island from SW to NE. US National Hurricane Center abandons attempt to track it as no storm has previously survived that far east as a hurricane in the Atlantic. Unusual ‘orange sunrise’ observed, owing to particles sucked from the Sahara and Portuguese wildfires. But it may not be over yet:

“A broad area of low pressure was located about 200 miles north of the Turks and Caicos Islands at noon Monday, and was headed north at about 15 mph. This system (92L) has the potential to develop into a tropical depression by Tuesday night as it moves near Bermuda. … long-range model runs predict that the remnants of 92L will be absorbed by a powerful extratropical low-pressure system later this week, which will go on to give Ireland another battering on Friday and Saturday, as a 960 mb low-pressure system.”

Antarctica: Only two Adelie penguin chicks have been spotted alive out of more than 40 thousand of this season’s hatchlings, owing to ice formation that has extended the normal foraging range for the adult birds by 100 km; while unusual amounts of rainfall have caused endemic hypothermia among the starving chicks. It’s the second time an entire hatch has been lost in the past four years, threatening the survival of the species*. Scientists are struggling to understand this counterintuitive weather pattern but suggest rapid ice melt on land and from the shelves is increasing the fresh water extent around the continent, fresh water freezing at a higher temperature than saline.

Autumn colours at Winston Churchill’s Blenheim Palace. (BBC)

UK: “The BBC weather report was presented by Sarah Keith-Lucas today who looked absolutely stunning in a plum jacket. Wrapping up her incredible figure in the outerwear, she stepped in for Carol Kirkwood and delivered the forecast from Hyde Park, London. The 35-year-old told viewers it will be a fairly cloudy start but temperatures will be on the rise.”

So clever! Not only is this the sort of antediluvian crap journalism we have to put up with from the Daily Express newspaper (the item was written by a woman), the forecast going on to promise drier, sunnier weather later on was spectacularly wrong! It’s been raining all day here in the West, overcast with continual drizzle punctuated by heavier showers. But as is often their way, on alternate days when there’s nothing rude to say about politicians who don’t want the hardest possible Brexit, the Excess is front-page forecasting the apocalypse on Monday when Hurricane Ophelia makes land.

Who knows what fetching colours editor Hugh Whittow (age 14 3/4) is wearing today.

On the subject of Autumn, having bogld extensively last Spring on the astonishing acceleration of biomass in our valley, I’ve been meaning to mention how early many of our trees have dropped their leaves without bothering first to look pretty. It’s nothing like Blenheim! Usually it takes a sharp frost to sever the axils of the leaves from the twigs, but there’s been no frost at all yet, it’s been unusually mild and it’s already mid-October. I suspect trees know when a windy Autumn storm threatens to blow them down if they don’t quickly shed some of that bulk.

*Here’s a modest proposal. Penguins need rocky foreshore to feed and breed, but the meltwater in the Antarctic continues to create too much ice. Polar bears need pack-ice to fish from but dry land to breed, and they’re drowning as the Arctic melts. Why not round up enough polar bears and penguins to create viable breeding colonies and transpose them: penguins to the Arctic and polar bears to the Antarctic, where the habitat remains suitable for each to thrive?

Vietnam: Following days of heavy rain and over 30 deaths (Sat: 54) due to a tropical depression, northern Vietnam is now in the path of Cat 1 typhoon Khanun, forecast to weaken slightly to a tropical depression by the time it makes landfall on Tuesday.

Philippines: one dead as main Luzon island battered by Tropical Storm Odette bringing strong winds and heavy rain.

Thailand: large areas of Chiang Mai city and the capital, Bangkok, underwater due to heavy rains.

Bolivia: Massive hailstorm batters Sucre. City streets turn to surging rivers of ice, etc. State of emergency declared.

Portugal: “…hundreds of wildfires (fanned by strong winds from passing Hurricane Ophelia) have forced residents to flee from towns and villages in the country’s worst weekend of the year – more than 500 fires broke out on Sunday, most suspected deliberately set. The national civil protection authority said 27 people had been killed in central and northern Portugal; three people have been reported dead in northern Spain. The death toll is likely to rise.” (Edited report)

Portugal and Canary Islands both experiencing record high temperatures for October, around 37C, 98F. Midday temperatures in the eastern USA, SE Australia, Saudi Arabia (40C, 102F), west central Africa, central China and up in the Arctic remain anomalously high for the time of year. UK temperatures also in the mid-20sC, high for the time of year, and setting record nighttime levels up to 17C (62F).

BBC News/ Wikipedia/ Weather Underground/ Climate and Extreme Weather News #73/ The Guardian

 

I am somewhat put out

The BBC’s excellent new Sunday-night drama series, The Last Post is set in Aden in 1965, at the time of a local rebellion against the British occupation.

The sun sets on the Empire. (Thesun.co.uk)

I was, I confess, 15 years old at the time, a recalcitrant teenage schoolboy. I didn’t have much notion of what young conscripts not much older than myself were getting up to in far-flung corners of the British empire, but the stuffy, rectitudinal attitudes and stiff upper-lips ring true, as does the somewhat matey relationships between the NCOs and enlisted men and the officers stranded on their army base, with only alcohol, smoking, adultery with the officers’ wives and leisuretime at the ‘BP Club’ to relieve the monotony – until some tribal blows your head off from 300 yards and vanishes into the endless desert.

Anyway, 1956 and the Suez debacle did eventually put an end to all that, and by the time I left school both conscription and capital punishment had been abolished and the Sexual Offences Act introduced. Saved by the bell. While the contemporary music that threads through the episodes – Dusty Springfield, Ketty Lester – and the furniture whose reproductions 50 years later I have been acquiring to improve my little cottage, ’60s retro being fashionable now, have immediate resonance with me. It’s all part – a small part, nevertheless a part – of my makeup.

Which is why I’m somewhat put out to see that The Last Post is listed on the iPlayer catch-up service under ‘Period Drama’…. Is that me now?

Period?

 

 

 

America, You’re Fired!… Is this really as bad as it gets?… Granny Weatherwax says: Welcome to October… End of the World News.

Postscriptum, 12 Oct: California fires – over 500 missing, 23 confirmed dead – 3,500 homes burned, 170 thousand acres. Puerto Rico: 4 deaths reportedfrom water-borne disease as FEMA relief efforts flounder. Overall death toll from Hurricane Maria may be much higher than thought – “350 bodies counted in morgues”.

“Let’s see Little Rocket Man hit a par-64!” Emperor Sneero golfs while California burns and Puerto Rico rots. (AOL.com)

“…the campaign was run across all the main platforms, Google being the latest to ‘fess up, and that natural cross-medialization between networks had a ‘firestorm’ effect, resulting in hundreds of millions of views on personal media accounts.”

America, You’re Fired!

I make no apology for once again pointing you to a segment of the Rachel Maddow Show on America’s leading cable news channel, MSNBC. (Link below)

On Tuesday, 10 October Maddow led on the sudden outbreak over the weekend of devastating wildfires in heavily populated areas of northern California, whipped up by hot, dry winds. (There’s also one threatening Disneyland at Anaheim in the south.) While there have been serious wildfires burning all over the western USA since late June, costing billions of dollars in damage, right up into northern Canada where they had an unprecedented heatwave and a record wildfire season for British Columbia, these appear to be of a different order, as whole suburbs have been burned out (see below) and many people are dead or missing.

Fanned by 50 mph winds, fires quickly spread. (sacbee.com)

While the President – mindful of his predecessor-but-one, George W Bush’s gaffe over New Orleans – has made teeth-grindingly forced-looking efforts to drag himself off the golf course with his stony-faced wife to spend an hour or two meeting relief officials working in hurricane disaster zones, helpfully chucking packs of paper towels at the victims, he has yet to take the slightest notice of other, possibly worse environmental catastrophes unfolding in his country this summer – other than to continue with his insane attempts to rollback Obama’s environmental protections.

The California fires story even made the BBC main news, which you might not expect as they’ve been ignoring extreme weather events all summer, reporting only on those where they’ve got correspondents or can cheaply send a reporter; where Britons are involved, as in the South of France, or where the death toll, as in the Freetown, Sierra Leone landslip that killed 1,300 people, can’t be ignored. Perhaps the shock news that extensive damage has been done to the Napa Valley vineyards might have played-in to the BBC news agenda?

Mostly, wildfires have been burning in more remote scenic areas; national forests, mountainous regions. They’re happening all over the world, of course; even in Greenland, but with greater intensity and frequency, over longer seasons, as the effect of Arctic warming has been to weaken the jetstreams, causing weather systems to slow or stall, ensuring that drought conditions hang around longer. And this year hasn’t quite yet set new records for acreage burned, or the number of reported outbreaks.

It’s at 3’45” in to the program, however, that you absolutely have to start watching, because that’s where Maddow turns her attention to the newly-released flood of reports on exactly what the Russians got up to during the 2016 election, and why it’s so important.

It appears that Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, was warned as long ago as July 2016 that Russian agents were busy buying advertising space on his platform; yet he appears to have done nothing about it. Facebook continued to vehemently deny the story until last month, when they reluctantly accepted that ‘Russian accounts’ were responsible for maybe ‘$100 thousand’ of revenue, a drop in the bucket. Twitter on the other hand is refusing to say anything.

Now we know, however, that the campaign was run across all the main platforms, Google being the latest to ‘fess up, and that natural cross-medialization between networks had a ‘firestorm’ effect, resulting in hundreds of millions of views on personal media accounts, micro-targeting anti-Hillary/Bernie propaganda ads and YouTube video clips at individuals, promoting ‘false-front’ organizations stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment and even organizing demonstrations. Much of this embarrassing stuff was quietly taken down by the major players and reporters have had difficulty getting access to it, but enough evidence remains to show the breathtaking extent of the Russian penetration.

The Russians were exploiting the entire rationale for these sites, that their revenue is derived not from ad sales, but from the capture, analysis and resale of personal data. By tapping into that process, they were able to create a wall-to-wall impression through ‘retweets’ and ‘Likes’ and fake accounts in personal media of a widespread opposition movement to the Clinton campaign that never really existed; even recruiting Nigerian filmmakers and actors to impersonate a pro-Trump groundswell among black Americans.

This all ties in to the second in a series of three hour-long BBC documentaries by the investigative reporter, Jacques Perretti, about the ‘billion-dollar deals’ underlying the construction of a new world order, which I strongly suggest if you haven’t seen it that you watch.

(Please join me in a petition to ask Jacques not to wear that godawful quarter-sleeved black T-shirt and grubby, skin-tight jeans in his interviews, often with important people. It’s demeaning, disrespectful – a thoroughly bad look – and the constant views of his hairy, gibbon-like arms and muscular buttocks, combined with his distressing shaving cuts are pretty offputting to people with delicate sensibilities. This is not what HD was invented for.)

Now, I’m going to be the first person to take the knee and say, hand on heart, I’m not entirely convinced that Trump and his campaign baboons need necessarily have been aware of the true extent of this conspiracy, or were even behind it. I think the Russians would have done this anyway, as an experiment and to show that they could.

Collect all the cards and win a Virgin Island… Veselnitskaya, Trump Jr and the gang (NBC News)

Frankly, much of the propaganda was pretty inept and the grammar a little wonky. I think it was just the start of a global campaign of disinformation causing disruption to Western liberal democratic institutions sponsored by the Kremlin and Russian intelligence, that was going on anyway; and the fact that they hooked into the Trump campaign – itself a massively disruptive force, with its backing from the nihilistic ‘alt-right’ Breitbart set – was mainly fortuitous.

Of course, the mini-moron Donald Trump Jr and his dad would have welcomed any support, and in their own little Trumpworld filter-bubble would have had little concern for the idea that they were participating in a subversive, anti-American plot. As far as Trump Sr was concerned he had Russian business contacts, Russian mafia backing for his failing developments, a longstanding ambition to do Trump hotel deals and build golf courses in Russia – he owed Russian banks $millions, the near-bankrupt Kushner needed in on the scam as well – why wouldn’t he accept a little help for his Presidential campaign from the Russians?

It was all part of the bigger deal, and with his experience of Russian politics, money-movement through offshore shell companies and his connections among the oligarchs, Manafort was the ideal guy to run the operation, which is why Trump had him drafted in at a late stage in the campaign, alongside Flynn, without realizing that his new manager was already under investigation for money-laundering and that Flynn’s firing by Obama had been a security issue involving breaches of the Logan Act (banning non-governmental agents from negotiating with foreign powers) and long-term failures by both men to register their lucrative lobbying businesses as foreign agents with Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian clients, as required by law.

The preponderance at the notorious Trump Tower, 9 June ‘Veselnitskaya’ meeting of both Russian and American specialists at hiding and moving ‘dark money’ suggests to the BogPo that this was the meeting at which Russian support for the election campaign was confirmed and accepted, and methods discussed of paying under-the-radar for the purchase of US media and influencers.

But I don’t think Trump would have been entirely apprised of the full extent of what the Russians were proposing, when they decided – possibly even at that meeting, or shortly before – to swing their wider campaign of disrupting Western democratic institutions and the neoliberal consensus behind his bid for the White House. This operation had all already been set up.

Nor do I imagine Mr Putin, or whoever is running the campaign for him, was entirely convinced he was backing the right horse; nevertheless, it was worth a try as he hated Clinton even more; and he already had the ‘kompromat’ on Trump (as per the Steele dossier), the leverage of his Russian debts; and enough on members of his team that might buy him, for instance, relief from sanctions.

Since – much to Putin’s discomfiture – Congress refused to lift sanctions, and barred Trump from acting unilaterally, you may notice a lot more dirt has been coming out in the wash, with daily better confirmation of the Steele dossier.

Tsk. When thieves fall out…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4SgPt4amnE

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b097rqr4/billion-dollar-deals-and-how-they-changed-your-world-series-1-2-money

x

“I may have been the only protestor there in gold brocade ‘loon pants’ and a very expensive roll-collar silk shirt by Mr Fish”

Is this really as bad as it gets?

In the Spring of 1968 I marched, twice, in a crowd of many thousands to Grosvenor Square, home of the US embassy in London, to protest the Vietnam war.

Until now I hadn’t the slightest idea why, it just seemed like the thing to do at the time. And as my flatmates were going I tagged along, managing to avoid the minor violence that generally accompanied protests in those days. Those, that is, not in Paris – or Prague, where the Soviet Union was cracking down brutally on Alexander Dubcek and his liberalization movement.

I may have been the only protestor there in gold brocade ‘loon pants’ and a very expensive roll-collar silk shirt by Mr Fish. I was 18, and a student at film school, with a part-time vacation job as a pool attendant in Chelsea. That July was the hottest I can remember, the temperature at night never seemed to fall much, and I was ardently pursuing a young lady who lived in a top-floor flat in a brownstone near Queen’s Park, that had access to the roof where we spent nights under the stars, glugging a fairly inexpensive wine by Charles Kinloch.

One of a number of iconic images that brought the futility and brutality of the war home to middle-America. (photo: CNN)

I say ‘until now’, because the horrible war was at the time so far away and beyond our experience, mediated through the press. British TV news was not showing the more difficult footage American audiences were getting night after night. The Wilson government probably wisely refused to get dragged into it, so that I never had to make those choices: to serve, probably as a conscript ; or become a conscientious objector, a draft resister without really knowing what the war was about and why anyone was fighting. It seemed only that America was the bully and that carpet-bombing Northern cities and neutral countries was an obscenity, Communists or not.

Up to half a million American GIs were dragged into it, and over 82 thousand died. Almost three million Vietnamese were killed, many of them South Vietnamese supposedly on the American side, in atrocities committed by friend and foe alike. Nevertheless, despite attritional losses and lack of airpower the North was able to chip away at the perceived colonialist presence and mount occasional costly spectaculars, such as the Tet offensive of 1968, that played badly in the neatly-kept homes of midtown USA as the flag-draped coffins kept coming back.

That vile war was to prove in the end an utter humiliation for the USA, for the ever-optimistic – and then, the over-optimistic President Lyndon Johnson and his Secretary of State, Robert McNamara, neither of whom was still in post by the end, as neither was General William Westmoreland, of whom it can be charitably said only that he probably did his duty to the Pentagon, but not to his men, ordered into ludicrous and suicidal missions time and again merely to save face, to aggrandize the all-important ‘body-count’ and to keep up the pretence of ultimate victory with the increasingly desperate inhabitants of the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, back home as the opposition to the war grew against a background of civil rights campaigns, the LSD-fuelled ‘summer of love’ turned to university occupations, police crackdowns, National Guard militia on the streets and the Detroit riots, that killed 46 people and spread across the nation in the wake of the assassination (almost certainly ordered by FBI Director Hoover) of Martin Luther King Jr; followed not long afterward by the shooting of the popular anti-war presidential candidate, Bobby Kennedy, supposedly over his support for Israel by a demented Jordanian, Sirhan Sirhan (now on his 15th parole application).

Looking at the USA now, despite the unbelievably rotten and chaotic administration, the profound corruption of the Washington ‘swamp’, of which Donald J Trump seems to be the ultimate patsy; the incompetence and nepotism, the absurdly childish tweeting and continual vainglorious boasting, the expressions of support for militant racists, the narcissistic infantilism of the President – a mid-size property speculator and ‘mock-tycoon’ reality TV show host with the brutal instincts of an old-time mobster and no political experience on the Hill, who can’t get his madder legislation passed, who refuses to take advice, knows the job is completely beyond him yet cannot resist fucking everything up, to the point where people are fearful he may kick-off a third World War; the old faultlines his presidency has been opening up in society, his contempt for racial minorities and the poor….

Despite all that, can we really say it’s as bad now as it was, back in 1968 – or anything like?

If you’re not certain, can’t remember or are just too young, Ken Burns’ triumphant documentary series, “Vietnam”, now running on the BBC, must be compulsory viewing. Don’t miss any of it, if you want to see how a global power can just implode under the weight of its own hubris and the incompetence of its leaders.

And then recover.

x

“Does President Kim need to bother jacking-up his nuclear arsenal, when the climate will take care of America for him?”

Granny Weatherwax says: Welcome to October

USA: Tropical Storm Nate brings major flooding, after “at least 30” dead in floods and landslides in Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador. Oil and gas production shut down as it barrels at 25 mph towards the US Gulf Coast as Cat 1/2 hurricane, pushing a 6ft storm surge. Misses New Orleans, floods Biloxi Ms. Later reported dispersing with heavy rain up the east coast into New York state, almost 1ft of rain falling in North Carolina.

Coffey Park suburb, Santa Rosa, after the wildfire. Does President Kim need to bother? (Twitter)

California: 17 people killed, over 100 injured, 150 still “missing”, 1,500 buildings including entire communities ‘destroyed’, 20 thousand evacuated as “tens of thousands of acres” including many vineyards affected by “at least 14” wildfires that broke out Sunday in the Napa Valley, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. National Weather Service has issued a warning for the San Francisco area that “any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly” as dry, windy conditions persist.

Does President Kim need to bother jacking-up his nuclear arsenal, when the climate will take care of America for him? And where was the lazy, fatuous oaf, Trump, while this was happening? Playing golf, naturally.

Up to 30-inches of snow falls on Montana – heaviest snowstorm “since 1914”. 10 thousand without power. Winter storm warnings for up to 1ft of snow around Denver, Colorado – meanwhile the Autumn heatwave continues over the southeastern states with temperatures up into the high 80s.

Germany: Storm Xavier brings strong winds, torrential rain, kills 7 in the far north of Germany. Storm surge floods Hamburg, Wilhelmshaven. 2 dead in neighboring Poland, 8 firefighters injured. Local severe weather alerts for ‘disruptive’ thunderstorms are in place for the whole of southern Italy, Oct 9/10. Autumn heatwave continues in Portugal, where more fires have broken out, this time in Pampilhosa da Sierra region.

Norway: Torrential rain causes severe flash-flooding and river overflow around Kristiansanhed. Much property damage.

China: new flooding, landslides and rain damage has been reported in the provinces of Anhui, Henan, Hubei, Chongqing, Sichuan and Shaanxi – 23 dead, 5,000 homes destroyed. Engineers warning of relief efforts at the Three Gorges dam causing more flooding downstream. Still raining.

India: More flooding affecting Assam state: the fourth wave of flooding since the Brahmaputra river overflowed on 02 June. 78 thousand people affected. 4 dead. Power failure as central Hyderabad underwater. 48 hours more rain forecast.

Indonesia: Pangandaran, West Java underwater after heavy rains. River overflows. 4 dead.

Vietnam: “Torrential rain brought by a tropical depression has caused landslides and floods (12 Oct), leaving 37 dead, 40 missing – 21 in Hoa Binh, many of them in landslide. Eleven people have also been reported missing in Yen Bai Province. 17,000 houses flooded, over 200 homes have collapsed. 20,000 acres of paddy fields destroyed and around 1,200 heads of cattle and over 30,000 poultry drowned.” (edited report)

Australia: Heavy rainfall on the 5th inundates Bundaberg, Queensland. Bureau of Meteorology sources, said “the Wide Bay city had received more than 340mm rain on Monday, breaking a 64-year record by more than 60mm”.

Brazil: San Bernardo del Campo, Sao Paolo – massive ice storm. Buildings brought down, streets turn to rivers of ice.

Mexico: Tropical Storm Ramon (not reported on Weather Underground?) brings new flash-flooding to Oaxaca and Tamaulipas provinces: Altamira and Tampico underwater, 2 dead, 18,000 evacuated. More ‘torrential’ storms forecast.

Argentina: powerful hailstorm batters Corrientes. Cars damaged.

South Africa: Huge storm, tornadoes strike Johannesburg on 9 Oct. 8 dead, many injuries, shopping mall trashed, 150 homes destroyed. Electricity substation knocked out, large areas without power. Hailstones literally the size of tennis-balls. In Durban, a powerful storm-cell raises hurricane-force winds with torrential rain bringing flash-floods to large parts of the city and environs. Coastal storm surge washes away cars; “autoggeddon” inland as busy roads become rivers under up to 5 ft of water. The storm moves on to Pietermaritzburg, where a man is swept away and drowned.

Atlantic: Out in mid-Atlantic and unlikely to threaten landfall other than possibly in the Azores, is a new Tropical Storm, Ophelia, that’s forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane. If and when it does, it will be the C19th-record-equalling tenth TS to become an Atlantic hurricane this year, with six weeks to go before the ‘end of the season’ (whatever that implies in this new record-setting year!).

Postscriptum: the UK Met Office is warning that Ophelia is on track to graze northern Portugal and Galicia in the next 48 hours and make direct landfall in southwest UK and southern Ireland as a Tropical Storm, Monday. Meanwhile, 11 Oct: “Heavy rain in northern England caused flooding and disruption in parts of Cumbria. The Environment Agency said that some areas recorded 211 mm of rain in 24 hours.”

Another system that developed to the SW of Ophelia has a 20% chance of deepening into a Tropical Depression before running into the Bahamas. If it strengthens over warmer water to a Tropical Storm it will be known as Philippe.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #71, #72 citing AP, Euronews, Ruptly, TOI, etc./ BBC News/ Floodlist/ 13News Now/ Weather Underground

On the slide… Rumbling Cumbre Vieja threatens US east coast with giant waves. (Hellocanaryislands.com)

End of the World News

Yellowstone update: “far from normal” M3.2 earthquake activity continuing outside the caldera in Idaho at Soda Springs and in Montana near Lincoln. The “swarm” that has been going on in the park since 12 June with up to 60 quakes a day and continuing harmonic tremors is officially the longest on record.

La Palma: The Cumbre Vieja ridge now swims back into the focus of millennarians as more than 40 tremors up to M2.7 have been recorded in the past 48 hours under the Canary Islands volcano, whose western flank is generally thought to be unstable. Earthquake swarms are said not to be very common there. A 5 km section is expected at some stage to fall into the Atlantic, causing a mega-tsunami that modelling suggests threatens the East Coast of the USA with a 120-foot wave penetrating up to 12 miles inland, also spreading up the African coast to reach western and even northern areas of Europe, with up to 35 ft waves hitting the south coast of the UK.

BBC Science & Nature website has this: “Don’t worry, it’s not going to happen tomorrow… scientists are predicting … the collapse is likely to happen any time within the next few thousand years. Scientists also know that a collapse will not happen without any warning. They will be able to alert people to possible danger several weeks in advance.” Which is all very well, except there is virtually no monitoring going on at Cumbre Vieja and the collapse, it is estimated, will take just 90 seconds, giving the US 5 hours’ warning.

Also, “scientists” are NOT able to predict volcanic eruptions with any degree of certainty, as is shown by events in Indonesia. A general alert was issued in relation to Mount Agung on Bali a fortnight ago, and 110 thousand people evacuated. But while the ominous rumblings go on, not a lot else seems to have been happening.  “Mount Agung was hit by 73 shallow earthquakes, 135 deep volcanic quakes and nine local tremors between midnight and 6am local time today. Thick white smoke was observed rising about 200m above Mount Agung’s crater, according to Bali’s Geological Agency.” When or if the sacred mountain will blow, however, no-one seems able to say.

You have been warned!

Mary Greeley/ USGS/ BBC Science & Nature/ Express.co.uk

Women in broadcasting: a sour note. Women in politics: a shower note. Is it all uber? Granny W: It’s more of the same. Is this the end of Pumpkin mania? And: disappearing ocean: Why on earth does this keep happening?

“As you can see, the plan is the plan, Boris is Boris and Brexit is basically fucked.” Theresa OWNS Johnny Frog in Florence (photo: cityam.com)

 

Women in broadcasting: a sour note

I really don’t want to hear any more bollocks about and from women in broadcasting.

Yes, pay levels should be set according to the demands and responsibilities of the job, not according to the feebleness or pushiness of individual broadcasters and their agents when it comes to negotiating fees; or according to gender, or how how white and middle-aged you are.

In my day, he said loftily, having worked at the BBC for all of eight, or was it 18, months (all memory gone), you had proper pay grades. I was an MP (for Management and Production) Grade 2 , or something, and I worked as a regular on-air announcer – also writing the hourly main news bulletins and producing trails – for the breakfast programme, Rush Hour. Had I stayed, instead of taking up a more exciting but ultimately disastrous management role with a commercial radio start-up, I should have progressed inexorably up the spine, whatever it’s called, to MP5 and the job of Director-General, obviously.

Nowadays a BBC staff contract could get you anything from £150 thousand to £650 thousand a year, depending on your gender, just for reading a script into a microphone. Back in the day, I was getting £42 a shift on a monthly renewable deal.

Anyway, I’m not talking about pay here, but about the endless moaning noise we hear on the subject of representation; or lack of it.

Depending on your gender, sexual orientation, colour or ethnicity, there are never enough of you around in the office to make you feel secure, are there? Unless you’re a middle-aged white guy, right?

So, I woke up early this morning and switched on the Today show. Two female co-presenters, one of them Muslim, of Pakistani parentage. Handing over for the 7 o’clock news to a female newscaster. Who reads the first story, about our female Prime Minister making an important speech in Florence, and hands over for the expert analysis to the BBC’s chief political correspondent, Laura Kuennsberg. Second story down the bulletin, and the fourth and fifth, contain reports voiced by women presenters/reporters. A report has Alice Oswald being appointed as the BBC’s new poet-in-residence; one of two producers of the show is credited as a woman.

Let’s put that one to bed, shall we? Regardless of the fact that Huw Edwards is 103, women are adequately represented in broadcasting. Period.

Ooops.

 

“Any less pleasant sweaty smells early on quite soon disappear, as the natural bacteria you have been scraping off, poisoning and flushing down the drain for years reassert their beneficent command of your flora.”

Women in politics: a shower note

On the subject of women’s representation, a BBC News report today highlights Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, founder of South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, who “has revealed that she only showers every third day.”

Strict grammarians might be tempted to ask what she does on the other days? Journalists nowadays are not taught where to place the auxiliary adverb. She ‘only showers every third day’ means one thing, she ‘showers only every third day’ another entirely.

“I shower briefly‚ once every three days‚ and for the rest wash in the hand basin. I used to wash my hair every day‚ but now only when I shower‚ with visibly negative consequences,” Ms Zille wrote in a column. (Note the correct placement of ‘only’.)

There is of course a reason for Ms Zille’s shocking revelation, her apparently antisocial behavior: she wishes to inspire the populace to save water. As Granny Weatherwax has previously recorded in a Post on this bogl:

“The Western Cape – famed for its winelands, mountains and beaches – has been experiencing severe water shortages which have worsened in the last year due to a drought in the region.”

The news has inspired the usual bollockstorm of tweets speculating nastily on the premier’s personal hygiene and lack of fragrance. I have news for the pathetic dimwits who cannot imagine living without a bathroom full of overpriced bottled products offering to mask their natural aroma of ‘Twit’ by Lenthéric: it really isn’t necessary to bathe every day, it is a habit inculcated I believe on purely social grounds by the Romans, a bonding rite, which continues to be plundered profitably to this day by companies such as L’Oreal, Johnson & Johnson, Body Shop and Laboratoires Garnier.

For the past eight months or so, I have been secretly conducting a small personal experiment.

I had heard or possibly read of freelance journalists desperately seeking original material to write about, who have gone along for months not showering, washing their hair or changing their clothes, to observe the effect on their fellows. An Australian newscaster, for instance, wore the same suit to the office daily for a year and was able to wring many lucrative articles and interviews out of a media curious to hear about his experience of not being challenged even once by colleagues or viewers over his sartorial experiment.

It started really without me being aware of it. As time went on, apathy took over from disinterest. Living alone, unpartnered, with no-one to seize the moral high-ground, no-one to cajole me, I simply grew out of the habit of washing altogether, contenting myself with a wipeover from week to week with a damp flannel or a wet-wipe (point of order: DO NOT FLUSH WET-WIPES down the loo, they clog up the sewers).

This was in, I think, about February – there was no starting-point to the experiment, it just overtook me. (I confess to having one shower, in early May, prior to a social event. Just the one, and no hairwash.)

And what, QED, has been the observed result?

I have determined that if you keep your clothes clean and change them regularly, you don’t live on the streets or wander the byways of Britain pushing your worldly goods in a pram, and you don’t jog, play netball or over-exert yourself on hot days, you should not become offensive at all. I have received no complaints from colleagues, friends and family, noticed no surreptitious edging away or wrinkling of nostrils. You should not become infested with rats, cockroaches or pubic lice; nor should you develop scabies, alopecia or leprosy.

Any less pleasant sweaty smells that manifest early on quite soon disappear, as the natural bacteria you have been poisoning, scraping off and flushing down the drain for years reassert their beneficent command of your flora.

‘Cor blimey, izzat me?’ Premiere Zille embraces her inner primate. (photo: blackopinion.co.za)

The skin has natural mechanisms for cleansing itself, as does the hair. A greyish discoloration here and there does little harm. I keep my hair short, but otherwise ignore it. Should it become itchy, as has happened once or twice in the past months, it is permissible to rinse the scalp with plain water. My beard comes and goes according to whether or not I have been cast to play a pirate this season, but generally I keep it short and, where it grows in the wrong places, trimmed. (A bigger problem my face faces is that beard refuses to grow at all in the right places.)

The privies, of course, are another matter. Those intimate areas need to be kept under control; especially if you are an elderly gentleman and have problems as a result of prostatic hyperplasia. I recall actually quitting a choir in which a rather gamey old baritone insisted on sitting next to me at every session (I generally give off the right notes) who smelled overpoweringly of stale urine; only to find later on that I myself could on occasion detect a similar hint of nocturnal retention. A simple procedure however quickly remedies the defect; as does more frequent replacement of the undergarment.

“I shower briefly‚ once every three days‚ and for the rest wash in the hand basin. I used to wash my hair every day‚ but now only when I shower‚ with visibly negative consequences,” Ms Zille wrote in a column. “However‚ I regard oily hair in a drought to be as much of a status symbol as a dusty car.”

It is an all-too human foible, that many people who daily strip their hair of its natural oils using astringent shampoos then set about replacing them with expensive oily product to regain lost body and shine.

My advice to Premiere Zille is this: if you shower and wash your hair every three days, by the third day you will certainly have personal freshness issues. If you wish to save water and heat-energy on environmental grounds, and you don’t want colleagues to shun you at meetings, you need to stop washing altogether. After a couple of weeks no-one will notice, I promise you.

And provided you can resist writing a column about it, you will feel empowered by your little secret to achieve more on the days when you used to ‘only shower’.

 

“Just for this totally non-urgent delivery, that could have arrived Monday and I’d have been delighted, an entire economy has been pressed into gear to ensure my consumer satisfaction…”

Is it all uber?

Look, I’m going to make a comparison. London may have 500 thousand people who love Uber, and 40 thousand drivers who may soon be in other employment, but out here beyond the Styx we’ve never heard of Uber, and couldn’t frankly give one.

The town station precinct is stiff with minicabs, until you happen to need one urgently during the school-run hour, when they become as rare as dragons’ teeth. Out here, we are all rather elderly. Our version of WhatsApp? is more ‘What’s an app?’. It’s hard enough getting a phone signal, let alone mess with data.

Tomorrow’s World: the end of the anthropocene. (photo: alamy.com)

But I’m a voracious consumer of other people’s news and so I’m aware that this formerly innocent ride-sharing service that’s been taken over by ultracapitalist raptors like George Osborne’s BlackRock Corp. and turned into a market-devouring monopoly monster has been deemed not fit for purpose by Transport for London, who have withdrawn their operators’ licence.

Which brings me more to the point, to that other social paradigm-shifter, Amazon UK.

For, reading between the lines, it would appear that while issues of public safety and concern for the welfare of Uber drivers stuck on their treadmill and being ripped off for 25 per cent of their already cut-price fares by a bunch of billionaire beanbags in California may have played their part, nevertheless it’s the dystopian nightmare of an unregulated world of instant consumer gratification that is at the root of TfL’s unease.

Not having to stand outside the theatre in the rain trying to do that whistling thing with your fingers, metaphorically, is making me queasy too.

Yesterday afternoon, I realized two things of monumental insignificance: one, that a guitar I have advertised for sale has some superficial pick-abrasions I hadn’t noticed before; and two, that I was out of guitar polishing wax.

So, as you do, I went online to Amazon.uk and after a bit of browsing and consulting the five-star reviews, mostly professionally copywritten, I popped a bottle in my shopping basket. Immediately, with a little prompting from a passing algorithm, it occurred to me that I might also benefit from clipping one of those handy digital tuning dinguses to my gorgeous new Fibonacci guitar, as my ear for ‘perfect pitch’ has been a little off lately. So I stuck one of those on the bill too.

That was at about five o’clock, and I was expecting nothing until maybe Monday, given that Amazon are still sulking over my withdrawal from the free 30-day Prime service they had suckered me into trialling. But at about one a.m., when all good retailers should be tucked up in bed, my phone pinged to tell me my orders had been dispatched. (I find it odd that people can get through with these kinds of messages, but you have to stand in the road here to make a call.)

I assumed it must be the previous day’s orders, but at nine forty-five in the morning, incidentally a Saturday, the doorbell went, and there was a postman bearing two brown cardboard envelopes, a digital delivery recorder, and a welcome rebate of £300 overpaid Council Tax from the Finance Office.

And I feel guilty.

Just for this totally non-urgent delivery, that could have arrived Monday or even Tuesday and I’d have been delighted, an entire economy of staggering complexity has been pressed into gear to ensure my consumer satisfaction ratings never flag.

I mean, where would Amazon keep a spare bottle of GHS Guitar Gloss (No Cloudy Build-Up!) AND a D’Addario digital headstock tuner with colour display, so that a postman out here on an industrial estate in the outskirts of a Victorian seaside town which, while being famously agreeable, is nevertheless three hours from anywhere, could trudge up my garden path bearing these obscure and inexpensive little items packed and invoiced, barely 16 hours after I ordered them?

How many underpaid, overworked warehouse night-shifters and delivery drivers and postal sorting office workers and postmen and machines and vans and clever computer systems and vast distribution nodes with automated picking robots and tax-avoidance specialists with all the latest technology are involved in, and dedicated entirely to, this totally spurious enterprise, designed merely to intimidate and undercut the traditional retail sector and to convince the population that the corporate sector offers us the gleaming prospect of infinite abundance forever?

And what will happen when, like British Airways’ operations last spring, some exhausted and underpaid maintenance technician accidentally yanks out a plug and the whole thing breaks down under the weight of its own complexity – and the alternative, the competition, the ‘analog world’ if you like, has already been eliminated?

These services designed for the instant gratification of our every whim are truly becoming a menace, a threat to civilization. Driven by an insane philosophy of creating entrepreneurial ‘visionary’ billionaires, lunatics more like, trapped in the whirligig imperative of their own developmental logic, in re-engineering all our futures they have lost sight of what it means to be human.

Just in time, then, for the end of the anthropocene.

x

“No power stronger than human denial”

Granny W: It’s more of the same

SE Asia: Cat 4 Typhoon Doksuri with 135kph winds causes major structural damage and flooding in Vietnam, 8 dead. ‘Tens of thousands’ of homes damaged. Now heading across Laos on track to hit Mymanmar’s capital, Bangkok, head-on. Heavy rains from Doksuri have also affected Thailand, with flooding around Phuket. Over a metre of rain (115 cm) falls on Phrae in the Khan Sathan National Park (16 Sept.). Most parts of the country have severe weather warnings.

Now, which one is this? Or is it just mashed potato? (USAToday)

Japan: Cat 4 Typhoon Talim has battered the southern Japanese archipelago and though weakening over higher ground is heading up the mainland. Widespread urban flooding around Tokyo. 100 thousand evacuated. Heavy rain causing landslips. Three dead, many injured. On 15 September the western eyewall of the typhoon was dumping nine inches of rain an hour.

Malaysia: Penang experiences record rainfall: major flooding. Fucking lunatics keep driving cars, bikes into 3ft of water and float away. No power stronger than human denial. Severe flood damage caused in rural West Sumatra.

Mexico: Surprise mini-typhoon, briefly Cat 1 Max brings flooding to Mexico’s west coast, particularly Acapulco, San Marcos and Catatlan. Not even an especially powerful storm, Max carried more rain than many an old-timer could remember ever experiencing.

Guatemala: “Mazatenango in Suchitepequez department recorded almost 300 mm of rain in 48 hours to 19 September. Local media say that levels of the Sis River in Mazatenango are dangerously high….Floods have affected areas of Petén, Suchitepéquez, Retalhuleu and San Marcos departments.” The country has experienced more than 250 incidents of flooding so far in 2017, with 21 deaths attributed.

Dominica: exceptionally heavy rains bring severe flash floods to the small island; on track this week for Cat. 5 (or more!) Maria. One death reported on Guadeloupe. Puerto Rico directly in its path but the superstorm – more powerful than Irma – is forecast to turn north and head up into the Atlantic without making landfall in the US. It’s so big however that many territories not directly hit, such as the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos islands – and eventually the Carolinas – will experience very strong winds, tidal surges and high levels of rainfall between now and the weekend.

Puerto Rico: “Hurricane Maria remains a category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph as it barrels over Puerto Rico.” … Flash flood warnings out for much of the island. “River levels are approaching or exceeding record levels according to data from the US Geological Survey. The Rio Grande de Manati near Ciales has broken record levels by almost a foot with much more rain to come.”

23 September: entire island without power, possibly ‘for months’. Authorities struggling to evacuate thousands in the path of possible flooding from a failing dam.

Argentina: widespread flooding affects beef market prices, with shortages developing. Many cattle drowned. Agricultural production is down by 25% after months of flooding.

Spain: Powerful thunderstorm suddenly forms and strikes beach resort of Alicante, with torrential rains, hurricane-force wind, thunder and lightning strikes. Big hail, streets flooded. Watch CEWN at 42′.30, eerie scene as street cafe furniture seems to move by itself.

Romania: ‘at least five killed and 30 injured’ in powerful storm that hit Timisoara on 17 September. Parts of the city trashed by cyclonic wind: terrifying scenes of destruction.

Poland: “Over 80 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in the city of Elblag in northern Poland on 19 September. City officials say that streets had to be closed due to flooding after the Kumiela River overflowed.”

Africa: “At least 12 people have died and another 92 are missing in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after torrential rains caused a river to overflow. The heavy rain has also triggered landslides in the area.”

  • US wildfire costs for 2017 now exceed $2.2 billion.
  • Heavy snow blankets the Sierra Nevada: winter has arrived a month early in northern California. One car driver killed.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #68/ Floodlist/ The Guardian/ BBC News

 

“The hurricane of controversy that surrounds his every misdeed and misplaced thought has attained proportions so overwhelming, that there is no point of entry any longer: the devastation is almost total, beyond repair.”

Is this the end of Pumpkin mania?

Readers and, indeed, no-longer readers of this, muh bogl, may have noticed something is missing.

That’s right. There hasn’t been an issue of The Pumpkin for quite a while. What’s gone wrong?

Go away!

The answer is simply that The Pumpkin has finally tired of reporting the antics of the burly old thug, Trump. What is left to say? We’re done insulting him, we’ve run out of epithets. The hurricane of controversy that surrounds his every misdeed and misplaced thought has attained proportions so overwhelming that there is no point of entry any longer: the devastation is almost total, beyond repair.

We know he’s not right in the head, never has been. We blame the parents, of course – advancing senility, syndromic narcissism and untreated ADHD. We know he’s a finagler, a double-dealer, a bullying, vindictive and unpleasant screwer-over of rivals, has been all his miserable life; and not a particularly successful one, although he’s got away with it. We know he’s not really a billionaire, as he claims, other than in the negative sense; just a miser.

We know he’s overweeningly vain, boastful, solipsistic, childishly vindictive, morally defective, a compulsive liar and fantasist, believing in no God but only the power of money. We know his money has done nothing good in the world. We know he looks up only to those who are richer and nastier than he is and regards the rest of us as mere losers.

We already know the severe limitations of his intellect make him almost an imbecile: inarticulate, unlettered, incoherent, inchoate, incompetent, a graceless baboon, he lacks any knowledge or the desire or even the concentration needed to gain knowledge of any part of the job of President of the United States of America, other than the power to fire or pardon, or to set-off Armaggedon; and so he just wings it.

We know too, all about his debts to Russian and Chinese banks, his at-any-cost approach leaving him open to accusations of treason; his squalid business methods: his career-long associations with organized criminals, trafficking of underage models and unhygienic financial habits that render him perpetually open to prosecutions he generally has bought his way out of, using other people’s money.

He is so awful, it almost makes him interesting.

We know that he is so petty, he once stole seven dollars from his own tax-exempt charity foundation to pay his son’s subscription to the Boy Scouts of America, to whom this July he gave the greatest speech they had ever heard; not. Alternatively, a load of self-pitying bullshit and vain bragadoccio. We hear too of him cutting-off an allowance his late father had made to cover health bills for his chronically invalid cousin; and of how he skimmed half a million dollars from his son Eric’s fundraising activities on behalf of a children’s cancer charity, for use of his tacky golf resort facilities.

We know, in short, from what everyone has said that he is a disgusting, mentally defective, spiritually void, morally reprehensible apology for a human being, unfit to hold office or to represent any higher values of the American nation than grubby nepotism, expediency, delusional thinking and greed.

But.

Believing we know all that is not helping. Saying it is not helping – he has already started the process of picking on even the least of his critics and leavening dire threats against their persons and careers. We can hope only that Mr Mueller, the FBI and Congress between them can bring this grotesque feral clown down before he brings them down, and the world with them, crashing down about his waxy old ears.

But it’s not looking hopeful.

x

Why on earth does this keep happening?

Off the beach: sea mysteriously recedes once again off the coast of Brazil. (Strange Sounds)

So, it’s happened again. Two days ago, the sea retreated from the shore at Recua do Mar, Guaratuba, Brazil. ‘Scientists’ are still saying it’s due to a low-pressure bulge sucking water in from around, owing to some massive storm in the south Atlantic. Scientists often offer crass explanations when they haven’t a clue what’s going on.

It’s not an impossible proposition – a similar effect was seen as Hurricane Irma passed the Bahamas two weeks ago. In this case a cursory check of the weather satellites over the region shows once again – this phenomenon started to be observed in mid-August – there is no storm off the coast of Brazil.

But there is further north, as Hurricane Maria has just chewed its way across the northern end of the Caribbean, causing destruction on a grand scale in the Virgin Islands, Costa Rica and the Turks and Caicos islands.

Now, that’s hundreds of miles from southern Brazil. The likelihood of its having an effect over such a distance seems small.

Or does it? (dat-dat-daaaahhh… dramatic incidental music…)

Climatologist Paul Beckwith of Ottawa University has just posted an intriguing series of three podcasts asking the question, can hurricanes cause earthquakes?

The answer appears to be yes. Beckwith points to numerous ‘coincidences’ when hurricanes such as Sandy (2011) have triggered seismological events all across the North American craton, leading to major M6 and M7 earthquakes on the west coast of Canada.

Mexico has been hit or near-missed by four hurricanes and several tropical storms over the past couple of months, while at the same time suffering an unusually intense series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions – 60 in just the past seven days, including the devastating M7.1 earlier this week. At the time of writing, Oaxaca province has just been hit by a M6.1 earthquake to go with the M8.1 that hit just off the coast two weeks ago. Beckwith also refers to a report we carry briefly above, that the weight of floodwater from Hurricane Harvey was so great as to have depressed the earth’s crust by an inch. That will now be springing back as the waters recede.

I’ve mentioned before, the website of one ‘MrMBB333’, a relatively sane-sounding weather blogger who picked up this story back in August and threw in for good measure, some speculation about the ‘South American Roll’. It’s a way-out theory that suggests that the South American craton (a craton is a continuous, supposedly unfractured and stable tectonic plate) is not stable, and that the subcontinent is threatening to rollover – obviously, when the earth’s geomagnetic poles ‘flip’, as they do approximately every 65 thousand years.

If the force of a large hurricane hitting the East Coast can transfer all the way across the North American plate to cause an earthquake off Vancouver island, is it not possible that even bigger hurricanes like Harvey, Irma, Norma and Max, Tropical Storm Lydia and, now, Hurricane Maria, might be powerful enough to cause the very slight roll, or tilt, of the unstable South American craton that might be needed to briefly expose a few extra meters of the shallow east coast continental shelf off Brazil, without triggering any earthquakes other than in nearby Mexico?

I think we should be told.

http://strangesounds.org/2017/09/water-disappears-from-beaches-in-guaratuba-brazil-video-pictures-is-brazil-bracing-for-a-huge-storm.html