The Crime of the Century… History on Repeat… GW: with her kilt a’ blowin’ above her ears… Hitting the buffers… No Fly Zone #2

“Eat your damn broccoli, Donald.”
“Won’t. Shan’t. Horrible deal” #Ihateyoumommy.

 

Warning: extreme polemic; vitriol; abusive language; moral indignation.

“In a little over 500 days of streaming lies, base insults, cretinous mismanagement and vile misdeeds, Trump has absorbed all our outrage. … We find it difficult any longer to care.”

The crime of the century

A woman is breastfeeding her 18-month-old infant. An armed guard rips the child away and thrusts it into a baby seat in a car. The car drives away. The mother does not know where her baby has been taken, she may never know.

Soon she finds herself locked in a cell, accused of something that is not a crime in international law. She has no right to representation. Habeas corpus no longer applies. Eventually, after a few months, she will be sent back to wherever she came from, to endure whatever it was she came to escape. Rape, torture, murder, who cares what?

North Korea?

No, America – the southern Texas border. June 2018.

The Land of the Free.

Where crimes against humanity and gross breaches of the UN Convention on Refugees are committed multiple times daily by untrained, unaccountable, gum-chewing trailer-trash on the orders of the racist Georgia dwarf, the cretinous little Trumpsucker, Attorney-General Sessions, cowed and subservient to the whim of an insane would-be dictator waging war on children.

Trump. A lying, groping, money-obsessed conman; a filthy, self-admiring, profligate old brute, a cowardly moron who openly admires the murderous thugs and kleptocrats ruling totalitarian countries, castigates and belittles America’s democratic allies and publicly regrets that his country is, or was until he was invented, ruled with dignity by laws and moral values.

Trump, who blatantly lied to the press that ripping families apart was a “law” passed by the previous Obama administration, that he can’t change. (Clue: it isn’t, and it wasn’t, and he could.) At every hint of criticism, he desperately lies that the Democrats are preventing him repealing the non-existent “law” that he himself imposed six weeks ago, that has led to the internment of over 2 thousand children and counting.

Of course, what he wants is to trade the children for support for his insane border wall, not because it will work, he knows it won’t, but because he promised it to his dumbfucks and they’re too stupid to know that it’s a total white elephant. Bjt if he delivers it, they’ll deliver the White House to him for another four years of this horror show.

Of course, we see too that an order for several billion dollars’ worth of concrete will also make the mafia-controlled concrete supply business that he was involved with in New York through the late “Fat Tony” Salerno and the Genovese crime family a bunch of happy bunnies.

This “zero-tolerance law” is his official new immigration policy, Welcome to Trumpworld, where any migrant – people he has likened to “animals” – turning up at an official border crossing and claiming asylum according to international law is automatically declared “illegal” as if they had entered the country by some backdoor route, and is judged to be guilty of a crime; a charge extended to the “smuggling” of their own children, if accompanied by any.

How sick can you get, confiscating desperate people’s children as “contraband”?

At last, the world is beginning to take notice of a repugnant, amoral and illegal no-entry policy that began with Bush, and continued through the Obama administration but has been ferociously extended under Trump. The Guardian reports (15 June):

“A spokesman for the US Department of Health and Human Services (sic.) said on Thursday that the department had selected the Tornillo port of entry as a temporary shelter location, 40 miles south-east of El Paso, in an area of desert where temperatures routinely approach 100F (37C).

“The facility will be able to accommodate up to 360 children in “the next few days,” said the spokesman, Kenneth (‘big, bad’) Wolfe.

“Asked if children will be kept in tents, Wolfe said the facility would have “soft-sided structures,” but didn’t immediately clarify what those structures would be.”

Soft-sided structures. This Orwellian doublespeak is entirely characteristic of the grotesque, slimy dishonesty of a quasi-fascist, criminal dictatorship rampaging out of control.

Pressed on the moral issue by reporters yesterday, the fat, sweaty sack Sanders, shortly to be outgoing press spokesbitch to the foul-smelling Trump house of shit, quoted Romans, chapter something-or-other, a piece of ignorant Bible Truther sophistry about the proper application of the law under fucking God. What an awful woman she is, a snarling, sneering, dissembling, hypocritical insult to the intelligence, a gross Pharisee with fat, sweaty kids of her own; a rank, dyed-in-the-wool hypocrite.

To impose this illegal policy, secret courts are in session 24 hours a day, rubber-stamping guilty verdicts by the thousand. Secret camps have been set up, where thousands of children automatically seized from their parents are interned at the rate of 50 a day, some as young as one, without access or recourse to their parents, who have been branded as criminals without rights and are locked up, never to see their children again.

Many children are said to have been housed in cages. 1,400 boys are being held in an abandoned Walmart supermarket. The girls have been separated from their siblings. A few reporters and congressmen have managed to gain access to selected camps (access to the main camps has been denied). They report, there is no specialist childcare, no trauma counselling for terrified children, no proper healthcare or education, no toys or books or games or cellphones. Just grim-faced border guards and lines for food.

It’s a hastily arranged children’s gulag. Some of the younger children are being sent on to “sponsors” – anyone who wants a child, for whatever reason. There is little scrutiny or vetting. No-one even knows where many of those children are; not even the prize bitch, Neilsen, secretary for Homeland Security, who is in charge of this filthy crime against humanity. White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, who since working for Trump has become, like all the others, a man utterly bereft of morals, honor or courage, thinks maybe “foster homes, or whatever.”

OR WHATEVER.

This is TRUE. It is happening today, in America.

Do you hear about it on the BBC News, where that supine and useless little weasel, John Sopoor is in charge of generating whatever thin trickle of respectful and uncritical praise for the criminal psychopath, Trump comes out of the USA?

Where is Save the Children?

Where is the UN?

Where is the entire fucking population of America, with its vaunted claim to Christian decency?

In a little over 500 days of streaming lies, base insults, cretinous mismanagement and vile misdeeds, Trump has absorbed all our outrage. We are morally confused, crushed, mentally exhausted. We find it difficult any longer to care.

It is how fascism grinds everyone down, the boot stamping on a human face. We see migrants drowning in the Mediterranean every day: over 47 thousand have died making the crosssing from North Africa and Turkey. What’s a few hundred more foreign children, brown vermin, broiling in the desert, buried in unmarked graves? Refugees from war, famine, rape, torture, unbearable poverty – climate change.

How can we absorb them all?

And we say nothing, do nothing, as the crime of the century unfolds before our lowered gaze.

At least the SS carefully documented their victims.

We could start by telling every American in Britain to fuck off home. Don’t let them in. There are tens of thousands, by the way. You’re not wanted here, you dirty immigrant, we should tell them. Didn’t vote for Trump? Your problem. Go home and vote for someone else. Just go home, immigrants, useless, dirty, skiving Yankee trash, fuck off, before we start interning you in camps.

You’re no longer welcome here. You’re not even human. You’re just animals.

And take your filthy ratbag little scum-children with you.

Why, that would surely be the crime of the century. And they wouldn’t like it, would they.

They wouldn’t like it.

 

And are we any better?

“French border police have been accused of detaining migrant children as young as 12 in cells without food or water, (falsifying birth dates on “refusal of entry” documents), cutting the soles off their shoes and stealing sim cards from their mobile phones, before illegally sending them back to Italy.

“A report released on Friday by the charity Oxfam also cites the case of a “very young” Eritrean girl, who was forced to walk back to the Italian border town of Ventimiglia along a road with no pavement while carrying her 40-day-old baby.” – Guardian

Then of course there was the case last week of Italy and Malta refusing port facilities to a rescue ship with 629 migrants on board, including 100 children and pregnant women, plucked from unseaworthy vessels off the Libyan coast..

This is only going to get worse as the warming of the planet accelerates out of control, food security breaks down and countries south of the Mediterranean or the US border become uninhabitable.

The BogPo advises that you need to prepare for some very unpleasant happenings before the end.

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History on repeat

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce” is a maxim attributed to Karl Marx, a C19th tragedian who 100 years later later repeated himself as Groucho. (You’re fired. Ed.)

The highly rated MSNBC journalist, Rachel Maddow today draws attention to the extraordinary parallels between the events of the later Nixon administration and those of the early (or, hopefully, late) Trump presidency; particularly with relation to the slush funds operated by both presidents’ “personal lawyers”, respectively Herb Kalmbach and Michael Cohen.

In Kalmbach’s case, he went to prison after turning evidence against Nixon for a lighter sentence in regard to a charge that he used the fund – amassed from leftover election donations – originally to secretly finance a campaign to prevent the segregationist George Wallace from winning the governorship of Alabama, so as to nobble any attempt on the presidency; and thereafter to pay-off the secret team Nixon put together to burgle the Watergate building.

In Cohen’s case, it appears he may shortly be charged with offences connected with selling access to the White House, both for large corporations like AT&T and the Swiss chemical giant Novartis, but also to foreign interests and at least one Russian oligarch, using the fund to enrich himself and the president; and to buy off women, including the porn star Stormy Daniels, with kiss-and-tell stories of affairs with the serially adulterous Trump, immediately prior to the election – making the money an undeclared and, in part, an illegal foreign campaign donation.

Equally extraordinary, one supposes, is the wounded reaction of both lawyers to being chopped off at the knees by their presidents. Trump is reportedly furious at the way Cohen has handled matters, albeit on his orders. (Actually he’s perpetually furious with anyone he perceives as disloyal, which is, ultimately, everyone who ever works for him.) Poor Cohen is bewildered: he has frequently declared actual love for the grotesque psychopath who “mentored” him.

Maddow recalls, Kalmbach reportedly dissolved in tears in the courtroom on being faced with the truth of what he had done, wondering plaintively why Nixon did not protect him.

Both stories involve controversial far-eastern summits with the leaders of enemy nations: in Nixon’s case with China and in Trump’s with North Korea. Both were spun as absolute triumphs of spontaneous diplomacy; although in Trump’s case he got nothing out of it and is having to send his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, out to mop-up the mess he has caused by announcing completely out of the blue, and without consulting anyone, an end both to sanctions and the annual joint military invasion rehearsals with the south; neither of which was mentioned in the joint communique.

These meetings are going to be seen by future historians, if there are any, as virtually identical, spontaneous foreign policy interventions against the accepted wisdom of sector experts to distract public attention from domestic troubles.

Where the element of tragedy creeps in, is in Trump’s fulsome and elaborate statements of praise and admiration for the kleptocratic despot, Kim Jong-un, which have been branded as disgusting by North Korean exiles around the world.

Kim’s record in office has been brutal: unparalleled in modern history, according to the UN.

For Trump to acclaim Kim as a fine young man, a leader with a great sense of humor, who “loves his people”, when he has slaughtered and tortured and imprisoned and starved them by the hundreds of thousands into total obedience to his selfish whims is quite remarkable, unless one assumes that those are actions which chime perfectly with Trump’s solipsistic view of his own official powers, frustrated by the limitations of the US constitution.

A clue to the almost symbiotic relationship that seems to have developed between the two men is how Trump sees Kim (with 180 degrees of historical inaccuracy – Kim’s father and grandfather were also brutal dictators who had already imposed their personality cults on a starving and cowed population) as a young man of 26 or 27, faced with the daunting challenges of holding his nation together, and having to hang tough in the face of his enemies, real or imagined, following his revered father’s death.

This ludicrous false narrative exactly mirrors Trump’s own: inheriting at 27 his brutal and remote father’s shabby, mafia-linked New York property empire, that even more callous and dishonest measures were required to manage – the challenge: to overcome his own manifest inadequacies as a business leader with tendencies to extreme laziness, pleasure-seeking, zero concentration ability, disinterest in externalities and inconvenient facts, narcissistic and vainglorious fantasizing.

A case of history repeating itself, first as farce and now very possibly as tragedy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy3rtpYC-PI

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GW: with her kilt a’ blowin’ above her ears

Arctic: “…(air temperature) was as hot as 32.7°C or 90.9°F on June 11 on the coast of Hudson Bay (just a few miles south of the Arctic Circle); 30.7°C or 87.3°F on the coast of the Laptev Sea (north of Siberia). It was 6.6°C or 44°F over the North Pole due to hot air flowing from Siberia over the Arctic Ocean on June 13. Water near Svalbard was as warm as 16.1°C or 61°F on June 4, versus 3°C or 37.4°F in 1981-2011. CO₂ levels were 420 ppm over the North Pole on June 12; very high methane peaks are increasingly appearing. (edited from ‘Sam Carana’/ Arctic News, 11 June)

Two conclusions from the above: 1) the Arctic is warming ten times faster than the rest of the hemisphere and is beyond saving, leading to a forecast of runaway climate change due to methane emissions, fracturing of the jetstreams and ocean currents; 2) the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to world governments due out shortly is deliberately understating the degree and speed of global warming to avoid panic and preserve the now-redundant Paris accord, so that positive action is unlikely.

UK: Gale force winds and heavy rain battered northwestern areas of Britain – Scotland, Northern Ireland, Cumbria, North Wales in an unusually powerful June storm, named Hector, on 14 June, bringing down trees and power lines. Windspeeds of 60 to 70 mph may be unprecedented for places like Glasgow at this time of year. – Met Office

Europe: the past week has seen quite extreme weather, with many thunderstorms, intense rainfall and flash flooding affecting parts of France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and Slovakia. The town of Crnomalj in Slovenia was bombarded with golfball-sized hailstones on 8 June.  “A slow-moving storm system brought record heavy rain to parts of northern France between 11 and 12 June, triggering floods in Paris and a landslip that caused a train to derail. Meteo France said that Paris recorded 78 mm of rain in 24 hours, a record for a June day.” Parts of Bavaria recorded over 10 cm of rain in one day. (edited from Floodlist reports).

Portable toilets blowing off in Colorado Park. (The Weather Channel)

USA: The 416 fire burning for two weeks near Durango in Colorado has destroyed over 34 thousand acres of forest and driven many people from their homes. After ten days it was still only 15% contained but as of 17 June, it was reported, heavy rain is slowing its spread. Campers managed to set fire to 500 acres near Carson City, Nevada, while trying to burn the contents of their impromptu latrine in a high wind. 15% contained…

Mexico: 115 mph Tropical Storm Bud brought some respite from the brutal 49 deg. C. heatwave that melted traffic lights and killed 3 people in Guadalajara, which has since experienced flash flooding. Bud is heading up the Baja peninsula and weakening, expected to dissipate over southern California and New Mexico, thence to push on up into the SW states bringing rain to many places currently droughted.

The disorganized system known as Invest 91 is expected to cross the Gulf of Mexico in the next few days, bringing heavy rain to the east coast of Mexico before moving up into Texas and Louisiana, but is not now expected to strengthen into a Harvey-style ‘super-soaker’ hurricane.

There’s been flash flooding in the capital of Panama.

Dust storm adds to killer air quality over New Delhi, 9 June. India has 14 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities.

Northern India has experienced more storms, extreme heat, flooding and landslides. 26 people were reported killed in a dust storm in Uttar Pradesh on the 9th June, many by lightning strikes. The capital, New Delhi continued to swelter in 40 deg. C. heat and was “plunged into darkness” by dust on the 9th.

Meantime, “torrential monsoon rainfall has caused flooding and landslides … As of 14 June, at least 3 people had died and around 36,000 displaced in Assam. … Manipur, where 6 people have died, and Tripura, where at least 3 people have died and 15,000 displaced. … Monsoon rain, strong winds and high waves continue to batter the south western state of Kerala, where 13 people have died in the last few days. Mumbai was deluged, causing travel disruption (edited from Floodlist reports)

Refugees from Myanmar were flooded out of camps in Bangladesh. 12 dead in landslides. Floods in neighboring Myanmar. Typhoon Ewiniar dumped 25cm of rain on Guangdong, China in less than a day.

New Zealand: a “deep subtropical low” brought chaos to parts of North Island on the 12th. Farmland, roads and 1000-plus homes were underwater in the Gisborne and Hawkes Bay areas for the second time in little over a week.

The first signs of an El Niño have been detected in the Pacific.

Climate & Extreme Weather News #125/ BBC News/ UK Met Office/ The Weather Channel

Antarctic: “Ice in the Antarctic is melting at a record-breaking rate and the subsequent sea level rises could have catastrophic consequences for cities around the world, according to two new studies. A report led by scientists in the UK and US found the rate of melting from the Antarctic ice sheet has accelerated threefold in the last five years and is now vanishing faster than at any previously recorded time.” – Guardian, citing an article in Nature.

Mars: a giant dust storm covering a third of the planet has enveloped NASA’s Opportunity rover, which has been slowly trundling about measuring and observing things for 14 years, despite an expected operational life of only weeks. BBC News reports that its grabbing arm is suffering from ‘arthritis’ and the vehicle has gone into ‘sleep’ mode, from which an alarm clock wakes it periodically to check what the weather is like outside.

I imagine it opening one bleary eye, grunting and turning over, gradually its breathing becoming a stertorous snore again; Radio 4 murmuring in the background. It reminds me of the first Wallace and Gromit film, A Grand Day Out, where the pair build a rocket and go to the moon to sample the Wensleydale cheese (from which it is made), only to have to contend with its singular inhabitant, a cantankerous and lonely old gas cooker that has developed an obsession with winter sports.

 

Hitting the buffers

“Dr Adolfo García-Sastre – director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute – told this week how research has discovered that flu viruses are jumping from pigs to dogs and what potential threat that poses to humans after his team’s scientific study appeared in the journal MBIO.

“He explained: ‘The majority of pandemics have been associated with pigs as an intermediate host between avian viruses and human hosts. In this study, we identified influenza viruses jumping from pigs into dogs.’” – (Express)

Warning: this may kill you.

….making Man’s Best Friend, Man’s Newest Lethal Enemy. Cases of doggy deaths are being reported in America, from “H3N8, a virulent, potentially deadly strain of canine influenza that public-health experts say is being spread to the U.S. from infected dogs imported from foreign countries.” (VINNews)

Those damned immigrants again, they’re just animals.

Now comes a suggestion that the new H7N9 version of bird ‘flu that has caused a number of cases in humans in, where else, China, might be the undetermined “Disease X” that the WHO imagines triggering another 1918-style “Spanish ‘Flu” pandemic, with potential for over 30 million casualties, if or more likely when it mutates into a virus that can be transmitted between humans. It has a 38% mortality rate. (Express, 15 June)

We’re a’ doomed. Doomed, I tell ye!

(To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dad’s Army – and Private Fraser, whose catchphrase that was – the Post Office has issued a set of commemorative stamps featuring the principal cast.)

 

No Fly Zone #2

The good news is, blowflies have started appearing in my kitchen.

With deep respect to Follower, Mark C Smith, who writes eloquently of his disgust at flies, the absence of flying insects of all kinds is a cause for worry.

You still see very few out in the valley, even after six weeks of warm weather here in Boglington. It’s like the vegetation, that’s exploded again like last year after a very late start, is just silent, deserted, although my poor old eyes have those black floaters sometimes and I have to check to be sure what I’m seeing flying around isn’t actual insects.

I remember as a young person, a countryside a’buzzin’ and a’flutterin’ with insects. Now it’s silent, almost deserted.

Hunzi’s bone, that he likes to leave out to ripen before consuming, had just three flies around it yesterday. A pack left out, that had contained meat, showed evidence of some eggs the next day.

And there have been a couple of moths around at night, not the weird little clothes moths everyone’s been complaining about, that fall out of packets in the kitchen – proper moths. While my total butterfly count since May has been just 7 whites and 3 browns; maybe half a dozen bees of various kinds, a couple of beetles.

It’s not looking good; but then, I was really concerned about the trees a few weeks ago, that were lifeless and bare, and now look at them. So maybe it’s too early to worry.

I don’t like flies much either, although sometimes one might perch on your knee, looking up at you with their big compound eyes, and almost seem to be wondering intelligently about you; it’s interesting, too, that experiments show they have a different perception of time from us, which is why it’s so hard to swat one with your rolled-up copy of The Oldie.

I seem to be altering my perception of time too. I’m never sure what day it is anymore, they all look the same. I promised a friend on Monday I’d help him out with moving some stuff, Tuesday or was it Wednesday? In the event, it was already Thursday night before I remembered with a guilty start that I’d forgotten all about it. No sooner have I got up, than it seems to be bedtime again.

And nothing done, except maybe this.

Help.

(Once again The BogPo leads the pack… this from The Observer, Sunday 17 June:)

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/17/where-have-insects-gone-climate-change-population-decline

 

Flyzone

No, not a boyband made of flies – southwest Wales, where locals are complaining of a plague of flies – or, winged creatures, as the local paper calls them. (There are numerous Old Testament imaginings enshrined in Welsh culture, even today.)

“Llanelli and neighbouring towns are under attack from an invasion of winged creatures. Some are having to eat meals in their cars and hang up multiple traps to try to catch the flies which have descended in huge numbers.”

(This old subeditor takes it that the writer means “some” people, not – as would be inferred from the subject of the previous sentence – flies, who don’t, obviously, have cars.)

It’s more probable that they haven’t “descended”, like a Biblical plague, but have rather emerged, from their breeding places in the interstices of the door and window-frames of older buildings, where numbers can easily increase into the hundreds.

And it’s odd, because here in Boglington, 65 miles north of Llanelli there aren’t any flies at all. Well, one or two. Maybe they all moved south for the winter.

 

PS Yellowstonezone…

The big Steamboat geyser at Norris Junction may have gone off at the weekend for the tenth time so far this year, on the basis of seismic data. Previously the most times it’s blown in an entire year: 3, in 2003. Sign of rising magma, volcano recharging.

Hawaii: Big Island eruptions continuing, new fissure, huge Mt Kilaueia caldera continues to collapse thousands of feet into the empty magma chamber, triggering M5.1 earthquake. Quake swarm continuing, approaching 10 thousand M1.5 and larger recorded. Still concern that Mauna Loa – world’s largest active volcano – may be next to blow. Some possibility that the whole island has been shifted.

USA: possible signs of incipient volcanism in southern California/Baja Mexico.

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Brexit means sod it… It’s Magic: How to become President of the United States of Amerika… Close down the immigration functions of the Home Office. They are not fit for purpose.GW: kickin’ up a storm… Fantasy fiction

“After one of the coldest Aprils in U.S. history, last month delivered a stunning switch—the warmest May for the contiguous U.S. in records going back to 1895. May came in at 5.21°F above the 20th-century average….” – The Weather Channel.  More fun weather stories from Granny Weatherwax, down the page!

 

“Dear Theresa, don’t say we didn’t warn you about a No-deal Brexit.”. From: Michael, and all at ‘Inter-ministerial Preparedness’, c/o The Bunker, Whitehall, London SW1.

Brexit means sod it…

In one scenario, “not even the worst”,

“…the port of Dover will collapse on day one. The supermarkets of Cornwall and Scotland will run out of food within a couple of days, and hospitals will run out of medicines within two weeks. … Officials would have to charter planes to airlift medicines into the country, and within a fortnight petrol would also be in short supply. … Meanwhile, EU agreements on everything from medicines regulation to aviation govern key aspects of everyday life, and it has not yet been agreed whether, and how, Britain could continue to benefit from them as a “third country”.

Thus, The Observer, quoting a rival Sunday Times interview with an unnamed “civil servant” from a Whitehall department close to the inter-ministerial group on Preparedness, calling herself presumptuously “M. Gove, Prime Minister-in-Waiting” – who has revealed something of the contingency plans being drawn up in secret by the Government in the event of a ‘No-deal’ Brexit, for which the libertarian self-help neo-Thatcherite hard-cases and swivel-eyed Empire loyalists in the Tory party are again pressing in the absence of any detectable progress on the Irish border issue – or, indeed, on anything.

The worst-case scenario, by the way, is described as ‘Armageddon”. For which, read: “Boris becomes Prime Minister”.

A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: “These claims are completely false. … none of this will come to pass.”

“Come to pass”? Now that’s a pretty Biblical choice of phrasing.

Apocalyptic, even.

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Alone at last.

Magic: How to become President of the United States of Amerika

Simples. You bullshit your way past the low-bar credulity of the average US voter.

Here’s how it works, as exemplified in a BBC News feature about the great mid-20th century (and first star TV) magician, Sorcar:

“Sorcar was born Protul Chandra Sarkar on 23 February 1913 in the village of Ashekpur in Bengal. At school, he excelled in maths … but his real calling was magic. Changing his name to Sorcar – it sounded like “sorcerer” – he started performing in clubs, circuses and theaters.
“Still a complete unknown outside a few cities in Bengal, he decided to call himself “The World’s Greatest Magician” … The ploy worked. Invitations started to pour in from across the country.”

Yes, it really is that easy. People will go along with whatever you tell them, they have too much to worry about already without doubting that you are the world’s greatest ever Presidential candidate, if you say it often enough.

“‘Trump’ was born Donald J Trumplestiltskin 111 in Queen’s, New York, on June whatever, 1946, the son of a respected property developer and founding member of the Ku Klux Klan, Manhattan chapter. His immigrant grandfather, Herr Professor Doktor Friedrich von-und-zu Drumpfelstiltskin was a respected German draft dodger and brothel-keeper. The family changed their name to sound more American.
“At school he excelled at smuggling women into the dorm, but his real calling was lying about that. Still known only as a respected reality show host and serial bankrupt, he embarked on a career as a professional liar. Unsuccessful at first, he eventually succeeded in persuading a sufficient minority of US voters that migrants were animals and he would Make America Great Again.”

Your Uncle Bogler has taken close note of the career trajectory of “Sorcar”, who made a name for himself in Britain during the 1950s in a single memorable night by pretending that his pièce de resistance, sawing a lady in half in plain sight, had gone hideously wrong in front of a screaming television audience of several thousand future PTSD cases.

The exiled Russian journalist, Arkady Babchenko, similarly became famous for 15 minutes last week when, at the suggestion of Ukrainian Intelligence agents, he was revealed to have participated in a fake assassination of himself in order to help them catch the real Smersh hitman they believed was coming from Moscow to rub him out.

In a neat reversal of the Sorcar trick, he miraculously resurrected himself three days later in Kiev, in front of a screaming and fainting TV studio audience, much to the disgust of the world’s journalistic community, who had hoped he really was dead so they could write about another evil Russian plot to exterminate Putin’s critics.

I have decided therefore to rebrand myself as “The World’s Most Insightful Bogler”, although I have yet to decide whether to fake my own death or stage my own resurrection, or maybe run for President.

See what happens.

Can’t hurt.

 

Close down the immigration functions of the Home Office. They are not fit for purpose.

The Home Office has just rejected my husband’s application for a leave to remain and work in the UK visa, stating: “In regards to the care of your child you have provided no compelling evidence that her welfare in the UK could not be maintained to a sufficient level in the absence of your partner.”

Thus runs a petition we’ve received seeking another 20 thousand signatures to force a Parliamentary debate on the immorality of breaking up families purely on nationalistic grounds.

The letter further goes on to suggest impertinently that if the petitioner wishes to continue her teacher training unencumbered, she could foist the child onto her mother.

This is carrying conventional State-sanctioned abuse beyond parody. Britain is becoming more like Nazi Germany, worse perhaps Arizona, the nearer we draw to the final act of betrayal of our European partners.

Ausweise, bitte.

I’m wondering, not for the first time, why anyone in their right mind would want to live here? Certainly, if the Home Office were to offer me 100 thousand pounds to leave, I would happily make space for an immigrant, his or her dog and cat tomorrow.

Why Parliament needs to be forced to a debate on such an issue is a moot question.* It is only one of thousands of desperate injustices perpetrated by the cowardly bullies at the Home Office that have been coming to light since the ghastly Theresa May’s six-year regime there, that make us all thoroughly proud to be British. Mr John Crace, the parliamentary sketch writer of The Guardian, wittily dubbed Mrs May “The Maybot”. I suspect beneath the caricature of an automaton performing to a program he correctly senses her for what she is: a Frankenstein patchwork creature, a cypher without a soul.

That some deeply unpleasant little stamp-wallah – probably an immigrant themselves – should seek to split up a couple who have been legally married in the UK for eight years, the mother is British, the child is British – he is not a “partner” – who are merely seeking to confirm their residential status, and force the poor woman on to the barely exigent mercies of the State, which we had thought disapproves of unwed mothers, merely because her husband lacks the necessary piece of paper to stay with her, is an outrage – a bureaucratic crime, for which Mr Sajid Javed or whatever the name of the follically challenged son of a Pakistani bus driver is, should be arraigned before a properly constituted committee and his little brown balls torn off.

Although this case started, I suppose, under the auspices of his short-lived predecessor, the financial whizz Amber Rudd (see Private Eyes passim for enlightening information as regards her business dealings).

We laugh at the USA under the corrupt oaf, Trump, do we not, his vile prejudices and his heartless diktats, the licensed brutalities of his ICE immigration gestapo.

Are we any better?

These dreadful apparatchiks at the Home Office need to be prised from their brown faux-leather seats, to which they are stuck by some foul-smelling secretion,  and sent to a quite uncomfortable camp in the bleak Welsh countryside, to be “re-educated” in our decent, civilized, liberal British values.

What’s left of them.

*Yes, I know what a ‘moot’ is. It was a pun.

x

GW: kickin’ up a storm

Once again it is necessary only to republish just the menu of video clips of extreme weather events around the world from the most recent issue of Climate and Extreme Weather News (#125, 05 June) to understand the gravity of the situation, so without apology:

Germany: Magdeburg, Schoningen, Betzdorf, Saarland, Soest & Gronau flash floods Belgium: Liege flash floods Luxembourg: Mullerthal & Waldbillig flash floods Austria: Burgenland floods France: Gougenheim & Morlaix flash floods Spain: Tordomar, Socovos & Antzuola flash floods Georgia: Rustavi flood Russia: Saransk & Kazan windstorms The USA: North Carolina flash floods & mudslides; The Ute Park Fire & The 416 Fire Guatemala: Retalhuleu flash flood Mexico: Heatwave India: Storms & floods Indonesia: Tolitoli flood China: Inner Mongolia wildfires & Hong Kong heatwave Malaysia: Penampang flood Yemen: Sanaa flash floods…

It goes on, and on.

USA: “Devastating wildfires have ripped through Durango, Colorado this weekend, burning more than 2,000 acres in a 24-hour period. Mandatory evacuations have been issued in the region after 1,900 homes are threatened by raging blaze.”

And a massive fire in Colfax County, New Mexico, had grown to 27,290 acres by Saturday morning and was 0% contained, according to InciWeb. Nearly 450 personnel were battling that fire. A mandatory evacuation order was in place for the town of Cimarron, where 296 structures were threatened by the blaze, called the Ute Park Fire, InciWeb said. CNN.

“Since 1970, the annual average number of wildfires larger than 1,000 acres has more than doubled in the western U.S. The typical wildfire season has also stretched by about two and a half months longer over that time. U.S. forests sucked up approximately 250 million metric tons of carbon in 2010, offsetting more than 15 percent of all of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions. Wildfires threaten to turn forests from a carbon sink into a source of emissions by releasing that stored carbon into the atmosphere.” – WX Shift.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has declared a state of emergency in eight counties affected by flooding from heavy rains. National Weather Service Charleston, WV, said that saturated soils and continued rainfall are leading to flash and other forms of flooding across the West Virginia mountains, adding that “this is a life threatening situation for many folks who have had their fill of rain.”

Two massive storm systems have merged over the Texas/Louisiana coast, and there’s a potential Cat 3 hurricane brewing (from weather-watcher, MrMBB333). “An American Airlines plane was forced to make an emergency landing Sunday night in El Paso, Texas, after a hailstorm damaged the windshield. One of the pilots said they could barely see as Flight 1897 flew into the storms in southern New Mexico before having to turn around.” (The Weather Channel) (Actually a photo shows the damage was to the nosecone, which contains the navigation equipment, and was largely missing.)

In Mexico, a heatwave has reportedly hit 50 deg. C (122F) with temperatures persisting in the high 40s over five states, although across the country May as a whole was not the hottest on record; unlike El Norte, where May turned out more than 5 deg. F. above the 20th century average for the contiguous United States.

Guatemala: as if the devastating eruption of Mt Fuego, causing hundreds of casualties, was not enough, there’s also been flash flooding in the city of Retalhuleu after torrential rain. At the site of the volcano, the thick ash deposit that has buried whole villages is turning to concrete in the rain.

France: “Parts of Eure department in Normandy recorded 70 mm of rain during the night, 04 to 05 June. AFP reports that a man was found dead, drowned in his vehicle in Piseux, Eure department earlier today. This is the second major flood event in France in the last 2 days. A storm that hit Brittany caused severe flooding. Fire and emergency crews were called out to over 450 incidents, over half of them in the town of Morlaix. Social media showed flood water raging through the streets (after) around a month’s worth of rain fell in less than an hour. The Jarlot river that runs through Morlaix reached its highest ever level.” (edited from Floodlist report)

Spain: “Torrential rain in parts of southern Spain from 02 to 03 June caused severe flooding in Valencia, Albacete and Murcia provinces. 116.8 mm of rain fell on Valencia in 24 hours. Roads and tunnels were flooded and transport severely disrupted. Firefighters rescued 3 people trapped in their car in rising flood water. In the province of Albacete, El Gallego recorded 180 mm of rain in 24 hours, according to local observers. (edited from Floodlist report)

Bulgaria: Over 70 mm of rain fell in 24 hours (04 June) in the port city of Varna on the Black Sea coast, flooding streets and causing severe traffic disruption. “…the city would normally see 46 mm of rain during the whole of June.” (from Floodlist)

Russia: the cities of Saransk and Kazan have been hit by ferocious windstorms ripping off roofs and overturning cars. Siberian Times (22 May) reports 40 injured in “hurricane-force winds – worst-hit were Chelyabinsk, Kurgan and Yekaterinburg in the Urals, with Tyumen suffering a spectacular sandstorm.” Temperatures in the north have been in the high 20s C (79 F). Reports from the former Soviet state of Tajikistan on the Afghan border say that 6 people drowned in floods and mudslides in late May after torrential rain – the third such incident since 2015.

Siberian Times also reports on the mystery deaths of “thousands” of reindeer in Yamalo-Nenets (“an area twice the size of Germany”). The proximate cause appears to be rain falling on frozen ground and snowfields, coating their forage in ice, so that they starve; however an underlying reason may be a pandemic caused by anthrax spores released by the summer melting of the permafrost.

India: 17 people have been killed in the state of Uttar Pradesh after more wind and dust storms brought on by the intense heat caused houses and trees to collapse. The death toll from these storms in northern India has reached 150 since 01 May. In the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram at least 10 people died when a building was swept away by a landslide triggered by heavy rains. … “a flash flood on 03 June washed away a temporary bridge over the river Tuirini in the northern part of Aizawl district, cutting off 37 villages.” (Floodlist, citing Times of India)

China: 4 thousand draftees have been battling up to 14 wildfires that broke out in primeval mountain forest in Mongolia on 01 June, caused by lightning strikes and fanned by hot, dry winds. Hong Kong has received more heat advisories after beating a previous record of 13 consecutive days over 33 deg. C, 91F. Two storms brewing in the S China sea are expected to ‘blow away’ the heat over the weekend.

Vietnam: “at least” 1 person has died and properties have been damaged by heavy rain causing flooding and landslides as Tropical Cyclone Ewinar passes over the country. Warnings are out for several southerly Chinese provinces. Thousands of hectares of rice crops are again disrupted by flooding. (from Floodlist, 07 June, citing official sources.)

CEWN #125/ Floodlist/

x

Fantasy fiction

Writing on the possible collapse of the “carbon bubble” – a phrase implying the rapid withdrawal of investment in fossil fuels – Fiona Harvey, “Environment correspondent” for The Guardian, informs us that:

“Separately, an analysis in Nature Energy forecast that global energy demand would be about 40% lower than today by 2050, despite rises in population and income, and a growing global economy. The authors found that such a scenario would allow the world to stay within 1.5C of warming, the aspirational goal set under the Paris agreement.”

It’s going to have to be a good trick, that, since we are already at well over 1.5 degrees of warming and there is scant possibility that the present civilizational paradigm can hold together in the face of growing food insecurity and rising temperatures until 2050, always assuming the worst predictions of the Extinction 2030 group of scientists haven’t already happened by then.

The necessary preconditions for 8 to 10 degrees of warming are already in place, cannot be reversed, and such an outcome is not survivable by a population of, by then, 10 billion people, all demanding food, protection from pandemics and a higher standard of living with a “growing economy”. There is little prospect either of rising incomes, that in general have not progressed since the financial crash – another may be imminent.

Analysts who write absurd papers like that require psychiatric help.

 

Happy landings

Hawaii: Kilaueia’s vast caldera is reportedly collapsing under its own weight, at a rate of 5 ft a day, into the void left by its magma draining out underground, still popping up in people’s gardens 25 miles away as mass evacuations take place. More earthquakes have rocked the even huger Mt Mauna Loa to the north, the world’s largest active volcano, but these have now stopped (05 June) Good sign? A new cone is forming on the side of Pu’u o’o. Big Island has experienced over 4 thousand earthquakes since the eruptions began last month.

Still on a geological tack, there’s more activity at Mt St Helen’s in Washington State, where 64 people were killed in a devastating eruption in 1980. The magma dome inside the crater is starting to rise again.

Yellowstone: the Steamboat geyser went off again at the weekend, the 9th eruption this year – previous annual record 3, in 2003. Webcam at Old Faithful geyser viewing point shaking violently with earth tremors. (Mary Greeley)

And Mount Fire (Fuego) in Guatemala erupted without warning on Sunday, killing possibly “dozens” of villagers on its slopes; enough, that is, to feature on the news; while ‘Dutchsinse’, the St Louis-based amateur geologist with an 80% or better record of predicting the locations and size of earthquakes, has drawn attention to the unusual number of magnitude 5 earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in virtually all the “usual” locations around the Pacific rim including California and New Zealand, and a cluster of deep M3 or larger quakes around the Aegean running through Turkey into Iran, portending possibly larger activity to come.

Express/ CNN/ Dutchsinse/ BBC News/ Floodlist/

The Saga saga continues… Whereverland… GW: staggering about with a large watering-can as the garden withers in the sunshine… Last Knockings… No Countryside for Young Men…

Welcome to my 700th post!

The editor coughs and then nervously speaks up, addressing his diehard fanbase:

“Lazies and gemmun, yesterday evening while composing a long email in reply to an old friend, just as I was signing it off, I seem to have accidentally stroked the keys to the secret combination of letters and commands upon which this, muh li’l HP laptop has yet again and probably for the last time mistaken my intentions and irreversibly dumped the entire text (bar five tantalizing letters of the first word).

In my mildly drunken frustration, as you do, I slammed down the lid and, with a bloodcurdling oath, solidly struck it a mortal blow with my clunking right fist.

It’s in a very delicate state today, half the time it addresses me in System 32 startup mode with wounded, gloomy messages telling me it doesn’t think I’ve got an operating system installed, or that the hard drive is missing and it can’t reboot. So I may need to acquire a new machine from PC World later… if no more Postings emerge for a while you’ll know why.”

-UB

“And this is where we throw our dissidents out…” Secretary Pompeo entertains a party of North Korean diplomats before introducing them to shopping.

The Saga saga continues

Fans of the definitive Scandi-noir drama The Bridge will have welcomed the start of a new series, although perhaps not its new Friday BBC 2 scheduling giving us only one episode a week instead of BBC 4’s Saturday night double helping, during which you could put your feet up and get properly mildly drunk without having to get up in the morning.

It was, excuse me for saying, an idiotic decision, probably born of desperation to harden-up the lacklustre Friday night schedules, but more likely to reduce the program’s ratings.

But there’s one thing that continues to puzzle your Uncle Bogler, and that’s the curious lyrics to the obligatory wailing castrato theme song with doom-laden cello accompaniment. As best I can transcribe them, they go:

Echo starters in crossing moon

Children noises that come too soon

Special Moomin that seem to hear

Decimating a mask of fear

Hollow talking in hollow girl

Voicing out from a mound of pain

Never said it was goo, never said it was smeary

Shadow rises and you are here

And everything… goes back to the beginning.

I’m hoping one or two of the near-record 41 Viewers who visited this, muh bogl, on Sunday, obviously having nothing better to watch on TV – or maybe one of my Followers, Stalkers, Spammers or Those Not Reading This Anymore – maybe my handler at GCHQ – will enlighten me as to what the hell it means, and why the Swedes, who all speak impeccable English, couldn’t find a less drug-addled lyricist? Were Benny and Bjorn out of the country?

I’m also curious to know how it is that there’s always a parking space right outside the Malmö cop shop’s front door whenever Saga screeches up in her battered old Porsche 911 ‘S’*, in that hideous shade of greeny-yellow? (52% of fans will now tweet that they identify as perceiving the color to be maroony-puce – don’t bother, I haven’t got a Twitter account.)

And why nobody, not even her mournful new boss, seems to intuit that she’s way, way up on the autism spectrum but just think she’s a bit, well, offputting. How insensitive do you have to be to get a job with the Swedish police?

One wonders, finally, if she ever gets those sweaty old leather pants dry-cleaned?

Mucky girl.

*After four series, the car at last got a mention last night from a random garage mechanic, so we have established a) that it is a 911 ‘S’, not just any old 911, and b) that Saga won it in a bet that she wouldn’t survive the police academy training course, from a superior who is now the Commissioner of Police. I suspect this was a somewhat heavy-handed joke at someone’s expense. The last thing we need in a tense crime drama shot entirely under lowering skies is political satire.

x

Journey to Whereverland

Speaking of sagas, Melania Trump has resurfaced after three weeks of speculation concerning her exact whereabouts following her minor kidney procedure, the odds-on favorite theory being that she had done a bunk to get out of the gropey clutches of the demented old Orange Husband while images of him grunting and sweating over Stormy Daniels’ recumbent corpse are still fresh..

“Melania Trump has tweeted to address speculation about her health, after not being seen in public for 20 days. “I’m here at the White House with my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!” the US first lady tweeted.” – Guardian report.

The Pumpkin remarks without conviction that he expects the hard work she is doing “on behalf of children” involves tracking down the more than 1,500 minors who are simply “missing” after being forcibly removed from their parents by her husband’s ICE gestapo at the US-Mexico border, where two US citizens were arrested last week for “speaking Spanish”. (Great Monty Python fans, the Americans.)

It seems the official childcare regime into which the diminutive liar, Attorney-General Sessions claims children as young as four have to be put as they are considered to be at risk from their parents (all border immigration is now illegal, so just by turning up asking for asylum a crime has been committed, therefore the children must be put in care for their own protection, runs the logic) doesn’t in fact exist. No-one seems to be in charge, no-one even knows where the children have been placed, or in whose tender care, and what happens to them next.

Or, as the devoutly Christian Vice-President Mike Pence calls the unknown realm of these forcible outplacements, “wherever”.

This Trump regime is so utterly banal, so useless, so vicious and vindictive, that it has to end peacefully, now or – as many commentators fear – it will end in bloodshed.

x

GW: staggering about with a large watering-can as her garden withers in the unaccustomed sunshine

USA: As “6 to 10 in.” of rain falls in two hours, Civil War-heritage Ellicott City in Maryland has suffered a “once-in-a-thousand-years”-size flood over the weekend.

For the second time since July 2016.

Once in a millennium: Ellicott City floods twice in 22 months. (Baltimore Sun/AP)

“Brown water rushed through Ellicott City’s historic Main Street, toppling buildings and upending cars, as the nearby Patapsco River swelled to a record-breaking level. In some areas, water levels reached above the first floor of buildings.” 30 people were rescued, a National Guardsman is missing. More rain is expected. – CNN

At time of writing, Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto is still out in the Gulf, contemplating an assault on Panama City, Fla. as a near-hurricane, just to the east of New Orleans. Forecasters suggest with 31 deg. C sea temperature off the coast, it’s holding maybe 10 in. to a foot of rain. Storm totals of 25” in Cuba are not out of the question.

2 journalists killed by a tree while covering the storm in N Carolina, where there are fears for the safety of the Lake Tahoma dam after a landslide. Central midwestern states posted record May highs over the weekend, up to 96F, 36C.

Puerto Rico: “The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM, open-access paper) reported that the death toll from Hurricane Maria was likely far greater than any estimates to date. The study’s initial estimate of the death toll through December 2017 was 4,645, but when adjusted for household-size factors (see below), the revised best estimate was 5,740, with a 95% confidence range that somewhere between 1,506 and 9,889 people died as a result of Maria in 2017. (Report: Wunderground, 29 May)”

Most of those deaths are post-hurricane “excess mortality”, attributed to the utterly inadequate response of US authorities, led by the self-congratulatory shitbrains, Donald Trump, to the destruction of the US island’s infrastructure.

Get rid of him.

Cuba: floods. 22 thousand evacuated ahead of SubTropical Storm Alberto now moving north-eastward, up Florida and over midwestern states, dumping a lot of rain.

Oman: Cyclone Mekunu… “High waves and torrential rain caused wide areas of flooding in Dhofar and Al Wusta governorates. Social media images showed torrents of flood water racing along the streets of Salalah (and an incredible cascade of water pouring off the mountain behind). By early 26 May, Salalah had recorded 278.2 mm of rain. … the city would normally see around 95 mm of rain in a whole year. …risk of flash flooding from further heavy rain through the weekend (26-28 May). High waves and storm surge continue to be a risk, with wave heights of 5 and 8 meters expected.” – edited from Floodlist quoting local authorities. Only 2 casualties were reported, 10 thousand people having been evacuated in advance of the unusual Cat 2 hurricane (now downgraded to TS).

Ethiopia: 16 die in flash flooding and landslides the afternoon of Wednesday 23 May. Houses, roads and vehicles are damaged.

India: 3 die in violent storm causing flooding. Local observers said that Panambur in Karnataka province recorded 334 mm of rain to early 30 May, 2018, breaking the previous high of 330.8 mm set in 1982. Roads around the city were inundated, bringing traffic to a standstill and damaging homes and businesses. Many people were left trapped in their homes or vehicles.

Mercury in Churu, Rajasthan hits 47.3C, 117.4F. Continuing 40C-plus heatwave in Pakistan tops out in Karachi at 48C, 118F.

China: Hong Kong heatwave continuing, 35C-plus (96F) in the city, and over 38C, 100F in places) – reservoirs drying up. 4 injured as ‘small’ tornado wreaks havoc in Jilin.

Malaysia: a man and his daughter are swept away in flash flood in Kulim.

Indonesia: Town of Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan underwater after heavy rain.

Europe: heatwave brings on powerful storms, flash flooding, big hail and much lightning… over 400 thousand bolts counted. France, Germany, Spain – massive hailstorms.

Turkey: city of Bursa underwater. Residents of Ankara clear up after 18 inches of hail buries streets in ice.

UK: 80-year old man dies after driving into floodwater in Walsall, north of Birmingham, Sunday 27 May. Up to a meter of flooding occurred locally in the West Midlands and across into Wales at the weekend after torrential rain. Over 150 thousand lightning bolts were counted in a 24-hr period as storms made their way northwards from France.

Tuesday 29th: “Thunderstorms and flash-flooding have brought parts of south-east England to a standstill as the region received a month’s worth of rain in a few hours.” – BBC News. 31 May, the forecast is for more, with amber warnings.

MrMBB333/ CNN/ BBC News/ Floodlist/ Wunderground/ CEWN #122, #123

 

Last Knockings

Yellowstone: We haven’t reported much lately from the Great Outdoors, but you should perhaps know that the Blessed Mary Greeley identifies a number of areas of continually rising ground, intruding magma and increasing surface temperatures; also continuing ‘drumbeats’ and harmonic tremors; together with new gaps in the information record – finagling of the seismometers and spectrograms – in the reports of the USGS and University of Utah monitoring services.

The largest geyser in the park, known as the Steamboat, normally erupts every 1 to 10 years. The last time it erupted three times in a year was in 2003. So far this year it’s blown off steam EIGHT times.

Some concern is being reported as the USGS has finally admitted to a potentially destabilizing “slow slip” of the 600 miles of faults between Vancouver island to the north, on the Cascadia fault, and southern California’s San Andreas, where there are continuing swarms of earthquakes and tremors, many associated with drilling and fracking operations.

Hawaii: the Mt Kilaueia/Pu’u O’o eruption is continuing apace. Signs of geological activity in the Mauna Loa volcano, largest on Big Island – largest active volcano, indeed, on earth – including a M3.2 earthquake, may be worrying for the scientists at the 9-thousand-feet-up observatory, from where global CO2 levels are officially measured. Some are fearing a catastrophic landslip of the SE corner of the island as the 23 vents that have opened up around Leilani Estates, spewing magma into people’s gardens and cutting off roads, join up. Geologists snort in derision.

The USGS has advised residents (in response to an actual query) that roasting marshmallows over volcanic lava is possibly not a good idea. Meanwhile a cloud of poisonous SO2 and other gases from Hawaii is being monitored over Guam, 4 thousand miles away, and health warnings issued.

Ebola: “An outbreak confirmed on 8 May had already claimed the lives of 12 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as of yesterday, with a total of 35 confirmed cases. A vaccination program aimed at health workers and friends and relatives of confirmed cases got underway today”, 30 May. – Express.

Nipah: “The Nipah virus was first reported in the northern district of Kozhikode, India on May 19 and has since spread to the neighbouring Malappuram district in Kerala. Officials have yet to confirm the origin of the outbreak, but it is spreading between humans. The first fatal cases were reported on Saturday from a family in Kozhikode, as two brothers in their late 20s and their 50-year-old aunt died from the virus.” A soldier who died may also have contracted the virus. – Express.

Tufts website reports: Spread by bats and transmissible between humans, “The virus causes severe brain swelling … and in some cases respiratory disease, and typically kills three-quarters of the people infected.” Although 100% mortality has been reported in some outbreaks. That makes it more deadly than Ebola, or the pneumonic plague in Madagascar this year. 16 cases have so far been confirmed in the current outbreak.

 

No Countryside for Young Men

Your Uncle Bogler has frequently alluded to the dramatic fall in numbers of flying insects – other than small clouds of gnats along the path on warm evenings – in the exurban river valley that passes for our local park, a multi-use greenspace offering a range of habitats between the town and the industrial estate.

Only last night, sitting up in bed drinking my warm milk (I’m quite elderly!), I wondered – exactly as Kevin Rushby, the author of a Guardian piece today has been wondering – where the usual annoying moth has disappeared to, that would normally be flapping inchoately around my bedside light, with the windows open on a 20-deg. C early summer night?

Of course, the fragile silvery clothes-moths are still there: whenever I open a packet of dog meal or cornflakes or something in a kitchen cupboard, usually one or two fall out and stagger around, having never learned to fly.

The buttercups are incredible this year.

A couple of days ago I saw one Small (or Large, hard to tell)-White butterfly emerge from a small patch of woodland I call the ‘tree museum’, on the edge of our local playing fields, and was mildly lifted when three more suddenly burst out from cover, dancing madly over the weed-strewn road verge. It’s a good year for dock, some are up to my waist. And the buttercups are incredible. But where are the insects? Rushby reports:

“Over a quarter of all British birds are under threat, eight species are almost extinct. Three-quarters of all flying insects have disappeared since 1945, including a staggering 60 different moths. Orchid ranges have shrunk by half; two species are gone. The State of Nature 2016 report described Britain as being ‘among the most nature-depleted countries in the world’.”

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/31/herbicides-insecticides-save-british-countryside-meaows (sic)

Rushby concludes, the agrichemical industry is to blame. I find this curious, as there is no arable farming within many miles of our valley on which pesticides and herbicides might be widely used; while the combination of ancestral and plantation woodland, heath and marsh, riverbank and meadowland – and, of course, upland grazing – ought to support a rich variety of wildlife.

Instead, I observe only diminishing numbers of squirrels, rabbits, pigeons, thrushes, blackbirds, magpies and jackdaws, sparrows – starlings and, in winter, a flock of about 50 plovers that descends on the cricket ground to peck at the leatherjackets there. And this year, so far, almost no flying insects; we’ve seen fewer than half a dozen bees all year, although the flowers they feed on were over a month behind, thanks to the late frosts.

But then I think of those intensively managed playing fields; the scorched verges of the paths, burned by liberal applications of Council glyphosate; the trim suburban gardens, kept neat by liberal applications of this or that, the sheds with their shelves of half-used tins, bottles and sprays. (I confess, even I have had to resort to surreptitious spraying over the fence of my late neighbour’s unkempt garden, that has been threatening to invade with perennial weeds and ivy.)

It seems clear that there is a feedback loop involved in the breeding cycles: declining numbers in intensively managed areas leading directly to declining numbers elsewhere. There are temporal disconnects too, as insects and plants that evolved over millions of years to emerge co-dependently together at certain times of the year are forced apart by the warming climate and the chaotic weather patterns it’s producing.

Then there is the never-ceasing roar of traffic from the main road nearby; and the probably confusing electromagnetic soup enveloping the mostly young women giving a running commentary on their frustrations to some unseen distant and long-suffering friend or family member as they wheel their prams along the cycle paths, where young lovers sit three feet apart, morosely texting their mates.

But all is not entirely lost: numbers can recover. Rushby gasps in amazement as he enters a part of Yorkshire where intensive conservation efforts have produced wildlife-rich woods and meadows much as they were in my youth, teeming with insects, birds and flowers; commenting that he now feels cheated by the apparent normality of the ‘green desert’ we have become used to referring to as ‘countryside’ everywhere else.

Hopes are now pinned on the remarkable conversion of one politician: Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, our new and unexpected champion of diversity and moderation in the use of chemical suppressants and promoters.

We’ll see.

 

Banking on the IT crew… GW: Oh, but no, look, it’s another Ice Age!… Striking miners: Scargill vindicated!…Been good to know you…

“In the course of four months, I spoke with twenty current and former staffers on Trump’s National Security Council, and tried to answer an unsettling question: What does it mean to be national-security adviser when one of the greatest risks facing the country may be the President himself?”

  • Patrick Radden Keefe, writing in The New Yorker about his profile of former National Security Advisor, Gen. McMaster. The picture painted of life in Trump’s White House by those staffers is somewhat horrifying, you have been warned. I thought I’d worked for some lying, bullying, pig-ignorant, dysfunctional money-grubbing cretins in my time, but this….

 

Vogon

 

Bolton

Banking on the IT crew

In the wake of the 2007 banking crash, in 2012 I received a letter from Lloyd’s Bank, of whom or which I had been a client for over 35 years: man, couple, homeowner and business tycoon, informing me that to “increase my consumer choice” my account was being moved, along with those of a couple of million other indigents at the bottom of the wealth heap, to a relaunched subsidiary, the former Trustee Savings Bank, TSB.

Judged by the somewhat basic “vanilla”quality of its logo and general one-color in-branch design scheme (depression blue), it was clear that things would not always go well for us. But I was relieved to find that the familiar faces had remained at my local branch and were happy to lend me money where the old Lloyd’s wouldn’t even let me have a check (cheque) card.

I chose therefore to eschew the benefits of online banking and phone apps, and resolved to continue dealing personally with my torturers, there being a point of crossover between brand loyalty and Stockholm Syndrome.

It seems like a wise decision in view of what happened last weekend.

A few days earlier, customers of TSB had received a text, warning of a suspension of online banking facilities over the weekend. The bank was “upgrading” its computer systems, but would be back online by 6 pm, Sunday.

“Hahaha”, I thought. Yeah, right. For I had been a victim of a bank computer upgrade before, back in the 1990s, when a PPI failure led to the Beneficial Bank of America demanding I repay £2,500 owed on a credit card, immediately. Difficult negotiations followed.

Eventually, two truths emerged: one, that they had fired the insurance company that had been paying off the interest on my loan under the PPI policy after my company went bust, but had not told anyone, so that the payments had stopped without my knowing; and two, that they had then lost all their customers’ records in a computer “upgrade”, that had been kept equally hush-hush, and so they had no recollection of our existing agreement for me to repay the loan on a monthly basis.

On Wednesday I went into the town branch of TSB and asked the cashier if I should perhaps withdraw all my savings in cash? It was a joke, sort of. “Oh no”, she said, brightly. “There’s no need for that. The bank has been running tests on the new system for weeks, nothing will go wrong.”

Nevertheless, I took the precaution of transferring £500 into my current account, and getting a printout of my balances.

This morning, the complaints were flooding in to the news programs. Half the customers said they hadn’t been told, they couldn’t make payments or withdraw money… one guy said he’d been credited with £35 thousand he didn’t have, and had been sent another customer’s account details… other people’s mortgages had been paid off, a curious complaint – and so it went on.

When are these vital institutions going to wake up and understand, the IT crew are just a groaning heap of useless baboons who have been at the fermented fruit again?

Get it into your woolly old bankers’ heads: nobody understands this stuff. They just pretend, take your money and hope for the best.

You’d do better to ask the Russians.

It’s a race, frankly, between catastrophic global warming, food insecurity, nuclear war and the total collapse of the overcomplicated systems we have created to try to manage our tottering civilization, as 250 more people are being born every minute, all requiring bank accounts with 24-hour service.

Postscriptum: It’s been a week now and thousands of TSB customers still can’t access their accounts online as the company has taken its online banking offline and called in a new team of beanbags from IBM to try to sort the problem out. The latest is, it could take YEARS. Good luck with that.

x

GW: Oh, but no, look, it’s another Ice Age!

As the record cold and snow persisted over the northeastern states and Canada into the weekend, firing up the YouTube Global Cooling/Grand Solar Minimum community, heatwave conditions and strong winds continued to support wildfires in the SW states, and temperatures continued to rise all across Europe, Central Africa, India and China. Edging 29C, 84F, Southern England had its warmest April day since 1949, the average anomaly for the month to the 21st being +2.5C. Running the London marathon in honor of his late father, award-winning young Cumbrian chef, Matt Campbell collapsed in the heat and died. The great Mo Farah could only finish third.

No Ice Age here, then.

USA: rain at the weekend helped firefighters contain Oklahoma and Colorado prairie blazes that have consumed over 1/2 million acres and more than 50 homesteads. 2 dead.

Indonesia: New flooding rages through Bandung, East Java.

Russia: 1 dead, several injured as powerful storm batters Moscow. Russian far east burning again already – new Siberia wildfires seen from space.

Serbia: Meteoalarm has severe weather warnings out for the Balkans for high temperature (up to 30C, 85F) and thunderstorms.

India: on 19 April, the mercury hit 45.4C (113.7F) at Chandrapur, Maharashtra state. But up in the north there’s been some unseasonal snow in Kashmir, with landslides and power cuts caused by heavy rainstorms.

Kenya: “At least 72” people are known to have died in a worsening flood situation over the past month.  More than 200,000 people have been displaced. “Wide areas of farmland are underwater and thousands of livestock have been killed. Dadaab refugee camps, which host over 225,000 refugees, have also been affected and there are concerns over cholera and other water-borne diseases. About 50,000 people are stranded in villages near the border with Ethiopia …. They have reportedly not been able to access food and water supplies for 10 days.”

Rwanda: “At least 18 people have died (23 to 24 April) as a result of floods and landslides triggered by heavy rain.” There’s also flooding in several regions of Somalia, where rising river levels are threatening a number of towns.

Chad: The mercury in Moyemtoro touched 48.2C (118.7F) last week. 46C is the forecast for Thursday.

Japan: 30C, 85F described as “more like July”.

 

CEWN #112/ Floodlist/ Meteoalarm/ Daily Mail

 

GW: Attribution, a note from the Editor

Likers, spammers etc. will know, the GW feature (Granny Weatherwax’s Global Warming diary) attempts to show every week just a fraction of the extreme and – for local communities – devastating weather events around the world that go largely unrecorded by the mainstream media, or are tucked away in obscure corners of their online platforms, where you have to know what’s going on before you can find the information.

The aim then is to raise awareness of the gravity of the situation as regards the earth’s changing climate; partly because the BogPo is a UK publication and, to date, the British Isles continue to enjoy relatively benign conditions – albeit that it’s raining miserably outside again, and Spring is still tentatively arriving more than a month behind schedule – making it easy for our home readers to remain blissfully unaware of the cumulative threat to our way of life that is rapidly manifesting elsewhere in the world.

That also goes for dimwitted middle-Americans, who can’t think further than their own backyard.

For this purpose, we rely on a variety of sources. These are normally attributed at the bottom of each weekly article, their content abstracted and lightly edited (where not original to GW) to remove extraneous detail, some of it indicative of attribution to primary sources such as regional or national weather bureaux, TV stations and news publications. Where known, these sources too may be identified here, or they may be obscure (we don’t read Indonesian, e.g.) and hence, unattributed. For which we would like to apologize, but in our view the information comes first.

In short, there is already an informal network involved in disseminating news of storms, floods, landslides, fires, heatwaves, ice-melt and related statistics, and we acknowledge the tireless work both of the originators, and of the researchers and editors in collecting and collating the secondary information on which we mostly rely.

GW hopes and trusts that the sources we quote won’t mind this sharing on a ‘creative commons’ basis – plagiarism and copyright issues are not the point here, we feel, and readers are respectfully asked to do their own lookups of the sources mentioned if you are interested in gleaning further information; thus benefiting them in whatever way they are able to monetize and support their activities.

We make no apology therefore as we stress the urgency of the global situation for reprinting in its entirety, below, this morning’s menu from issues #113 and #114 of the Climate and Extreme Weather News (Understanding Climate Change website), an important source collating visual evidence – mainly raw cameraphone footage from all over the world – of what is happening right now, publishing on YouTube every four days or so. We shall of course go into more detail of the events listed in the next issue of the BogPo/The Pumpkin, based on this and other sources.

So for really depressing viewing, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zvhx0coFxfU where you will find video posted of the following events:

00:14 Indonesia: Cilegon, Cianjur & Bumiayu floods 13:06 Tropical Cyclone Fakir 16:09 Bangladesh: Dhaka storm 19:18 Egypt: Cairo flash floods 22:35 Israel: Storm & flash floods 24:56 Saudi Arabia: Storms & flash floods 28:48 Algeria: Flash floods 34:04 Kenya: Floods 35:53 Rwanda: Floods and landslides 36:24 South Africa: Cape Town flash floods 36:54 China: Anhui floods 38:11 Brazil: Maceio flood 39:00 Mexico: Toluca hailstorm 40:43 The USA: Southern storms 42:44 India: Heatwave…00:12 Syria: Damascus flash flood 06:57 Jordan: Zarqa flash flood 11:02 Israel: Flash flood 13:10 Kuwait: Dust storm 16:00 Honduras: Tegucigalpa storm & flash flood 19:47 Panama: Flash floods 21:51 Somalia: Floods….

It’s a lot to take in. Just realize that this chaos is going on, month after month, day after day, around the globe – and it’s coming for you and me.

x – and it’s coming for us.

Striking miners: Scargill vindicated!

“The UK has not generated electricity from coal for more than three days – the longest streak since the 1880s. The new record comes just days after the last record of 55 hours was set, National Grid said.” – BBC News.

x

Been good to know you…

Arctic: a new scientific paper from geologist, Dr David Page looks at direct comparisons between the thousands of mysterious “frost-mounds” that have been appearing all over the Yamal peninsula in Siberia for the last 20 years, and a similar feature on Mars that non-geologists have always thought were just volcanic cones. Not so, says Page. They’re the same – methane fartholes. And Mars, as we know, is a dead planet.

The good news is, we don’t know how long it might take before global warming causes the Siberian mounds to go off pop – they’re full of the gas and some are already exploding – but the bad news is, Page calculates the Martian mounds all triggered one another within a period of years rather than centuries.

Oh, and that the amount of methane ours contain, if released in a continuous cascade effect – only six are known to have blown up so far, since 2013 – will put previous estimates of 50 gigatonnes of possible permafrost emissions in the shade, triggering runaway warming. The key to the problem being, no “civilization” has ever heated their planet up this quickly before. We’re in uncharted territory.

Latest CO2 daily readings from the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii give a global level around 413 ppm, already 3 ppm above March’s figure. Prof. Sir Peter Wadhams of Cambridge U. remarks that CO2 is rising faster than ever before. Readings from the Siberia wildfires raging along the Amur river were as high as 974 ppm. Prof. Paul Beckwith of Ottawa U. reports from satellite observations that methane clathrates seem to be outgassing from the shallow seabed off Novaya Zemlya. On 22 April Arctic sea ice extent was 13.552 million km², another record low for the time of year – and the sun is rising.

Arctic-News, 22 April, citing ‘A candidate methane-clathrate destabilisation event on Mars: a model for sub-millennial-scale climatic change on Earth’ published last week in  ‘Gondwana Research’ / “A Conversation with Peter Wadhams”  youtu.be/SIBoJWDAg00/ Paul Beckwith “Methane venting into air over Arctic” youtube.com/watch?v=FntMMsyGXvU

Meanwhile, from the Sputnik News website, two days ago:

“The residents of a village located on Russia’s Taymyr Peninsula were in for quite a surprise when they discovered a rift filled with warm water emerging from the permafrost near their settlement, according to Russian media reports. The emergent body of water is about 30 meters in diameter and emits a strong sulfurous odor.”

Sulfur baths might however be good for tourism. Eyewitnesses also reported experiencing warm air currents in the area, adding that the lake appears to be slowly sinking into the ground, giving a ride element to the experience. “A scientist” commented: “Things change… the permafrost is not permanent.”

GW however comments: “Assuming it is sulfur and not methane they can smell, as methane is odorless, the likelihood is more that there is a reserve of crude oil underneath.”

Meanwhile, Sputnik News also reports on an Icelandic disaster in the making:

“The ice-covered Öræfajökull volcano, which has been dormant since 1727, has recently woken from its slumber and experienced a major earthquake on October 3. Since then, increased biothermic activity has caused ice to melt and form lakes around the volcano. The melting water reported reeks of sulfur, which might be yet another token of the activity.”

A yellow warning is out to local communities as “experts” fear a repeat of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010, emitting an ash cloud which left air traffic grounded for days throughout much of Europe and newscasters floundering with their pronunciation skills nowhere in evidence. One consolation: volcanologists don’t have a very good record when it comes to predicting the scale of eruptions.

Cheers!

Does anybody tell the truth about anything anymore?… The NHS: a post code lottery?… Yes, Icahn… GW: Anyone for 10°-ish?… Early to bed…

We have Lego, we can rebuild… Surgical strikes take out Syrian school laboratories (BBC).

Slime is the new Truth.

Does anybody tell the truth about anything anymore?

Truth is supposed to be an objective ideal, probably in the view of some old Greek philosopher like Pluto, whatever. Nowadays it’s become a lot more fluid, just as the fashion for making ‘slime’ in your kitchen (ostensibly for the purpose of washing your hair with it, apparently) is overtaking the Lifestyle sections of the popular blatts, courtesy of YouTube.

Slime is the new Truth.

For instance, I’ve been gazing perplexedly this morning at a report on The Guardian website that advises me that house prices in Britain are rising, falling and “flat”-lining, all at the same time. Which is true, A, B or C?

A “House prices in London are falling at the fastest rate in nine years, according to Halifax, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender. Prices in the capital were down 3.2% between January and March. Prices grew strongly elsewhere in the country.”

B “Across the UK, house prices stalled in the first quarter. Paul Smith, IHS Markit’s economics director, said: “The subdued performance of the UK housing market, especially in the south of England, seems to reflect a general lack of appetite…”

C “The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said that demand from buyers fell for the 12th month in a row in March, new instructions from sellers declined for the seventh consecutive month and prices were flat nationally.”

The new Truth? (Image: planetphotoshop.com)

What’s most worrying is that neither the author of the article, one Julia Kollewe, nor the subeditor appears to have noticed that all three of these supposed expert bodies, heaps, you will be unsurprised to hear, in the view of your Uncle Bogler, of groaning baboons who have been at the fermented fruit again, are contradicting one another; almost certainly in support of their own commercial objectives.

Either the people at The Guardian have not noticed, or they cannot be bothered to find out the truth of the story, considering perhaps that it no longer matters, it’s all slime.

Anyone wishing to act on the information needs to be aware that truth in the property market is a relative concept. My daughter, for instance, might be concerned to read that prices in her part of the country have increased by 7.2 per cent in the past year, as she and her fiance have been saving to buy a house and thought they were almost there. Although she will be relieved to hear also that prices probably haven’t increased at all, being flat and, indeed, subdued.

For myself, I was delighted to read that prices are increasing everywhere, as I have been hoping to sell up and get the hell out of this fucking awful country before civil war and worse overtakes us. Except that, now I read that prices are also falling, I’m subdued again. A Janus, both happy and sad at the same time. And stuck here either way.

I popped into an estate agent last week, one of the few in town I thought I hadn’t used before. As I began to outline my plans, he soon corrected me on that, as it turns out I had employed him for six months in 2015 with no success whatever. Rather sourly, he informed me that, in his view – I might get a more favorable opinion from the agent across the road – I would be lucky to get an offer of £30 thousand less than I paid for the house seven years ago.

Anyway, there is us, The Best, and there is Russia, The Beast, and we both have diametrically opposed but always fluid versions of reality. They hotly deny doing beastly things to us, and we accuse them of not telling the truth, which in view of the theatrical absurdity of their childlike protestations – said to be the Russian humor – they  must not be.

They accuse us in turn of doing beastly things to them, forcing their neighbours to join the EU, kidnapping their exiles, gassing our own children, and we protest loudly that they are lying because any fule kno, we are nothing if not The Best; and besides, nobody here speaks Russian.

Oh, but why does nobody believe us when we insist the world is flat, even though the moon is a sphere made from Edam?

That’s how the game proceeds to the brink of a globally conclusive nuclear exchange. And what will be left of life?

Only slime.

x

The NHS: a post code lottery?

Spokespeople are good at slime, aren’t they?

Explaining why its hospital has mothballed 270 beds for the last four years for lack of money to buy more nursing staff, while allowing 92 per cent occupancy of its remaining beds – a dangerous situation, according to clinical experts – a spoke for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS foundation trust slimed:

“In 2013, the trust implemented its transformational plan which involved optimising the use of space in our hospitals to improve patient pathways…”

Yes, removing beds from the corridors means you can get to the wards more easily…

It reminds me of an earlier Post in which I quoted a similarly optimistic assertion by someone from the B&Q group of DIY stores that they were closing 60 branches to increase consumer choice and convenience. This predated by some years Trump spokesmouth Sean Spicer’s “alternative truth” assertion that the President’s disappointingly small inaugural crowd had been the largest for any President, ever, a “fact” that was not to be denied by the common press.

Recently I found myself in hospital for a night, for the first time since I was born 68 years ago. But I was not ill, or seriously injured! Because my eye surgery didn’t finish until gone 10, the hospital decided against sending me home, a journey of two hours and a 20-minute walk the other end – but instead kindly gave me a bed for the night.

Not wishing to inconvenience them further, I climbed onto a handy gurney in the otherwise empty side ward, insisting that I would be perfectly comfortable. Five minutes later an orderly turned up with a proper hospital bed, which I declined to use on the grounds that they might need it for a real casualty. I remained the only occupant of the ward all night. After waking me up at 3 a.m. to test my blood pressure, the next day they would not let me go until I had seen a specialist dragged in on his Saturday off, and had partaken of a not-too-bad hospital lunch; following which, I was put into a taxi and driven home in comfort; all at no cost to myself.

The devolved NHS is clearly a post code lottery: happily, I don’t have a North Tees and Hartlepool post code.

 

Yes, Icahn

Speaking of slime, is there any need to elaborate on the case of Mr Scott Pruitt, the former Attorney-General and Butcher of Oklahoma* (I fear I may previously have written Arkansas, it’s pretty much the same thing, all earthquakes and fracking)?

In case you really haven’t been paying attention, this impertinent fellow Pruitt was appointed a year ago by the grotesque and incompetent President Trump as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

A bizarre decision, as Pruitt had previously sworn to destroy the agency, having sued it no fewer than fourteen times on behalf of energy corporations annoyed that environmental protections were cramping their style. But, perhaps not so bizarre, given Trump’s determination to pull America out of the Paris climate accord, claiming – entirely meretriciously – that staying in would cost trillions of dollars and lead to huge job losses.

Three days after the Senate approved his appointment to a job for which he had no qualifications whatsoever, Pruitt’s deathlike grip on a tranche of nine thousand emails exchanged while he was in public office finally relaxed, and environmental campaigners who had been pursuing Freedom of Information requests for years were able to confirm their suspicions that he had numerous connections and financial relationships with the energy corporations on whose behalf he had been acting. This knowledge might very well have prevented his appointment, had it come out earlier.

But which? (Apart from the Kochs’, obviously. You probably won’t have heard of Harold Hamm, the “fracking king” who owns the climate-change-denying University of Oklahoma.)

Things progressed about as well as could be expected. Pruitt (who accepts there may be climate change but denies that CO2 is a greenhouse gas) hollowed-out his department, failing to fill 700 appointments; imposed gags on publishing research, approved controversial pipeline projects, set about repealing climate controls such as the Clean Power Act and vehicle emissions limits, and removed all the scientists from his own Science Advisory Panel, replacing them with energy company executives and lobbyists, some of whom he sent to the Bonn climate conference to give a well-received presentation on the merits of burning coal.

And then a couple of weeks ago, amid all the presidential shenanigans, the dam quietly broke. Pruitt was accused of being about the most corrupt administrator in US government history, probably ever.

The New York Times reported, his accommodation while in Washington was being provided largely at the expense of veteran energy lobbyist and former Reagan administration legal advisor, Stephen Hart. The deal was that Pruitt would pay only 50 dollars a night to rent a luxury apartment in a building part-owned by Hart and his healthcare lobbyist wife, in one of the trashier parts of the city. And, of course, nothing at all for nights when he was not in residence. His daughter, too, benefited from a similar arrangement, which Pruitt described as “more or less an Airbnb”….

A maximum rental of 1,500 dollars a month. Quizzed on TV, Pruitt argued that it was “about market rate”, and, with a straight face, absolutely denied that any of Hart’s clients at Williams & Jensen had any relationship with the EPA. Both were out-and-out lies. “Market rate” for an apartment in the building was soon established by investigators to be “about” 4,750 dollars a month, while it was virtually impossible to get a room anywhere in Washington for fifty bucks a night, without tipping the bedbugs for service.

Williams & Jensen were heavily involved in lobbying to replace President Obama’s Clean Power Act with one that looked less like targeting the fossil-fuel end of the energy bidness. And another of Hart’s clients among many having dealings with the EPA is a Canadian energy company, Enbridge, involved in a pipeline project Pruitt had signed-off.

At that point, the EPA’s ethics watchdog came out and “clarified” his earlier benign analysis of whether the rental arrangement broke the federal gift rule, saying he “didn’t have all the facts” when evaluating the lease; and Pruitt hastily moved out.

Another of Trump’s stranger appointments, the grizzled multi-billionaire Carl Icahn, a Master of the Universe whom some believe to have been the model for the heartless asset-stripping Gordon Gecko in the film Wall Street (“Greed is good”), had been made responsible for “Regulatory reform”, and immediately gone about reforming the regulations in his own financial interest.

As Rachel Maddow of MSNBC reported the other day, it appears that Icahn, who departed the White House after making 31 million dollars from what looked suspiciously like an insider-trading deal – he sold shares in a steel-importing company just days before Trump announced a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports, that has yet to be imposed – was the money behind Pruitt.

After spending $tens of thousands on such vital arrangements as a Faraday cage in his office, to prevent electronic eavesdropping, in December 2017, Pruitt flew at public expense ($40 thousand) to Rabat with an entourage of seven of his own staffers, in themselves controversial appointments – one was found to have failed to turn up for work for three months, while others received enormous pay hikes for no obvious reason. There, he spent several days trying to persuade the Moroccan government to buy Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Americans call it Liquid Natural Gas, it sounds more natural… we know it as propane) from the US.

Now, it was not in Pruitt’s job description to act as a traveling salesman for LNG exports. More interestingly, according to Maddow there is only one company in the US that exports LNG, and that’s a company whose principal shareholder is one Carl Icahn. Not only that, Cheniere Energy Inc. of Houston, Tx. is also listed as a client of… Williams & Jensen, Stephen Hart’s lobbying firm.

While it is said that even Mr Trump, who seems to have attempted at every turn to profit from the Presidency, is unhappy with Pruitt’s astounding corruption in office (and there’s plenty more where that came from, demanding a personal motorcade with sirens and an armed escort just to get to his favorite restaurant every evening, for instance), nevertheless there is no sign as yet that he is being fired.

Or, as would seem more appropriate, if the facts are true, arrested, charged and gaoled.

It seems odd, when you consider that Health Secretary, Tom Price was fired merely for going on a shopping trip to Yerp with his wife, flying first-class at public expense.

The Butcher is obviously a man after the President’s own… er, Hart.

*He earned the sobriquet when the Oklahoma federal penitentiary ran out of lethal injection stuff while trying to execute a black man, Clayton Lockett. According to reports, Pruitt ordered staff to find anything on the Internet that might do the job, demanding: “Just get it done”. Lockett died in agony, pleading for them to shoot him after 45 minutes of increasingly frenetic attempts to kill him with a non-lethal substance, during which his veins collapsed, from a stress-induced heart attack.

 

GW: Anyone for 10°-ish?

“On March 18, 2018, the sea surface temperature near Svalbard was 16.7°C or 62.1°F, i.e. 14.7°C or 26.4°F warmer than the daily average during the years 1981-2011.”

While the latest (leaked) report of the International Panel on Climate Change is claiming a mean global temperature increase of just 1°C 0ver pre-industrial levels, seemingly in a bid to validate the 1.5 degree target of the Paris accord, the 2 April Arctic News blog edited by a team of climate scientists going under the collective pseudonym of Sam Carana pours scorn on the finding.

Carana’s calculations take into account a number of different factors to produce a current figure of over 1.7°C: for instance, the obvious stupidity of basing global average temperature on figures derived only from the surface temperature of the sea. Indeed, if you take the highest monthly average figures rather than the lowest, use the 2 metres above sea-level readings and start the clock in 1750 rather than 1900, says Carana, we’re already at 2.3°C above pre-industrial.

With CO2 continuing to rise (note: CO2 level does not include other greenhouse gases having a forcing effect on the climate and so is only a partial indicator of the rate of warming) past the 410 ppm mark (11 March level), warns Carana, the prospect of an 8°C rise by 2026 and 10°C by 2031 becomes frighteningly real.

In other news:

USA: as far as the eastern US is concerned, March seems to be becoming the new February, with many areas again reporting colder, wetter/snowier conditions in the later month. Wunderground coins the hideous neologism “Marchuary”. March’s warmest day/night records across the whole of the USA marginally outran the coldest records last month thanks to record highs in the SW and record lows in the east. Winter Storm Xanto hit the midwest wth blizzards, 10 April it was snowing again in Chicago, while parts of Florida were battered by storms, with big hail and tornadoes, including a monster over Fort Lauderdale.

California experienced an unusual weather anomaly, the ‘Pineapple Express’. Aided by a 1°C rise in sea-surface temperature, the atmospheric river that arrived from Hawaii had swept up the remnants of 150mph supertyphoon Jelawat on its track across the Pacific and carried a record amount of water over the Sierra Nevada, some parts receiving over 4 inches of rain overnight. In “San Francisco, the two-day rain total (Fri.-Sat.) of 3.29” was its wettest for any April since before the Civil War”, but the rain mostly missed Los Angeles, which has had a record dry spell since October.

Southern California at the same time enjoyed a 90F-plus (32C) heatwave, setting records since 1890 for April. On 10 April the mercury topped 100F (38C) in the San Pasqual valley.

Brazil: believe it or not, it’s STILL raining. Widespread floods affecting central and NE regions (Recife underwater).

Colombia: floods.

Argentina: “severe flooding … “paralysed the city of Río Gallegos.””)

Dominican Republic: floods. (“Over 99 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in Jarabacoa, La Vega Province between 05 and 06 April.”)

Fiji: in the path of intensifying 150 Kph sustained Cat 2 Tropical Cyclone Keni, many evac. warnings issued. “After the low pressure system that had been raining on Vanuatu moved away from the island nation, it intensified, organized and developed into a tropical cyclone.” It’s the second major typhoon to hit Fiji this month.

Indonesia: “At least” 1 dead in floods and landslides in West Java province on 7 April.

New Zealand: late Autumn cold spell. “Christchurch saw highs of 27C give way to highs of just 8C over just a few days, compared to the 17C that is the average high temperature for this time of year. In addition, up to 50cm of rain fell over the mountain passes of the South Island.” A powerful thunderstorm including hail, rain, snow, tornadoes, cyclone-force wind pounds Taranaki, North Island.

Saudi Arabia: Intense rainstorms cause flash-floods, including in Mecca. Yet again, huge hailstones smash car windscreens.

India: 12 people killed in powerful storms affecting the northwest, huge hail.

Spain: widespread flooding in Navarre – city of Pamplona underwater. Spain and Portugal still experiencing heavy snowfalls.

World: Scientists report, the Gulf Stream (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation – AMOC) is now 15 per cent weaker than it’s been for the last 1,600 years, threatening much colder, wetter conditions for western Europe, more heatwaves in central Europe and rapid sea-level rise for the eastern seaboard of the USA. 2018 is already looking like a colder outlier on the graph. Globally, March 2018 was the 3rd warmest on record, 0.4°C above the 1981-2010 average and 0.3°C cooler than March 2016, our most recent “hottest” year. But it’s still only April….

Edited excerpts and bits pirated from: arctic-news.blogspot.co.uk/ Wunderground citing Bob Henson / CEWN #108 citing EU Copernicus (C3S), #109/ Floodlist/ Guardian Weatherwatch.

 

Early to bed…

Why is nobody mentioning what seems obvious and concerning only to me?

How strangely late Spring is arriving in Britain this year, after many years of “scientists” commenting on how it seems to be arriving weeks early.

On our walk this morning, 12 April. (The green trees behind are in fact brown, just covered in ivy.)

I bogld about this last week. I tell people, look, those trees still have no leaves and it’s almost the middle of April. They look surprised and say, it’s probably the cold weather, the ‘Beast from the East’ (that was five weeks ago and we didn’t have much of it over here) when I secretly know, because I know these things but dare not say them aloud where I live, that budburst is mainly dictated by hormones produced by the changing day length and has almost nothing to do with the weather.

Many are, it’s true, bearing closed buds and a sparse covering of blossoms and catkins, but fewer than 5 per cent of the trees are showing any signs of coming into leaf. Quite a few appear to be dead, you can snap off smaller branches and find no sap, only a brown core suggestive of disease – which seems endemic to particular species here.

And it’s the same for the hawthorn and beech hedgerows (nothing will stop privet or holly growing…), the great clumps of briars and wild gorse: a few stems are greening up here and there, some clearly tried earlier in the year and the buds got frosted – but the bulk of it remains brown and dead; perfect fuel for a summer of wildfires.

On a bus journey yesterday, 50 miles down the coast and a few more inland, uphill and down-dale, the story was the same. It still looks everywhere like the middle of winter. People are going about their business unconcerned that, well before this time last year, life was bursting out across the hills and down in the valleys in a seemingly unstoppable riot of greenery, normally June-flowering wildflowers hurling themselves out of the ground; but today it’s all brown and bare.

And now there’s evidence that late rising is bad for humans too.

“Scientists” have discovered that “evening people” who sleep-in are more prone to mental and physical ill-health than people who rise with the lark.

People who go to bed late and struggle to wake in the morning are (10 per cent) more likely to die prematurely than early risers, according to new research. Comparing the definite evening types with definite morning types, night owls were also 90% more likely to have psychological disorders and 30% more likely to have diabetes, as well as being more prone to gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. – BBC

This too is worrying. I didn’t get up until gone ten this morning, it’s become a habit. I’ll generally sit here until midnight, a’boglin and a’togglin between news channels, dropping terse Comments, trolling trolls, waiting for war to break out, despairing at the crappy fare on the BBC iPlayer service, looking for anything to distract me for a few more hours of life, when clearly I could be extending that life just by going to bed earlier and getting up at eight.

I doubt I would be missing anything, in fact I quite enjoy being asleep.

But I suppose it might be better to be ‘healthy, wealthy and wise’ than riddled with cold, broke and befuddled. My incipient Type 2 Diab., as flagged by the nice German lady doctor (I imagine we’ll have thrown her out by now), the griping pains I get in my stomach like rats trying to gnaw their way out – the extreme anxiety and loss of an entire lexicon of words, places, names and dates – are all now neatly explained.

Incidentally, the eye specialist at the end of my bus journey was not particularly hopeful either, following my retinal reattachment. It seems I’ll only ever be able to see the world again with my right eye as through the bottom of a glass.

Which is how it tends to look, at midnight.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43711631

(And this morning I wake to the news that drinking wine every day is knocking another 4-5 years off my life expectancy.

Indeed, I’m amazed I wake up at all.)

The dictionary of missing words… The last refuge… Stormy nights… Is Russia really the source of all our ills?… Equal pay should include Air Miles… GW: Ooh, granny, it’s a wild world

The dictionary of missing words

I’ve often been accused by less curious acquaintances of knowing everything, like blind Tiresias, including possibly all the English words, but it really isn’t true.

What, for instance, do you call the thing on your glasses, the hinged and hooked stick-part that goes round your ear, that’s just snapped off?

The vital component that has absolutely no other purpose in life, that once it is no longer attached either to the lenses part or to your ear becomes about the most useless artifact imaginable?

I’m faintly hearing ‘earpiece’ (possibly herpes? I’m getting a bit deaf too), but it doesn’t seem right. An earpiece is surely more to do with audio devices, headphones and so on. That blob of pink plastic stuffed in the sport presenter’s ear with the curly cable behind. The floppy little buds I can’t seem to keep in my too-narrow ear-channels, connected by an infuriating string of self-entangling liquorice to some miniaturized communication device.

Those.

It’s critical, because I’ve got a conversation going in my head with the optician’s, hoping to convince them that, whatever it is, it did, literally, just snap off in normal operation and was not subjected to any untoward treatment or force. It’s not that the hinge has parted, the little screw fallen out, as can often happen if you don’t maintain your glasses regularly. It just snapped when I opened them up. Honestly.

It was the culmination of another strange event affecting my glasses yesterday. I’d hung them as usual on the front of my sweater and walked to the supermarket in the Spring sunshine, I no longer drive, and found I still couldn’t see the tiny print on the labels of things on the shelves, and it was because the lenses had gone dark.

Now, I’ve had them for a couple of years and that’s never happened before. Indeed, I vaguely recall a conversation in which I had said I didn’t need react-to-lite lenses because they were for computer work and wouldn’t be worn outdoors. So here was a second surprise my glasses had delivered in just a day.

I observe instead with my one good-looking eye (although it’s difficult to see what’s going on with the glasses without the glasses on) that one side of the metal hinge itself has broken, probably because it’s been cast a bit too thin for fashion purposes. This is serious. A new hinge, a… hooked-stick part or even a whole new frame will have to be ordered, meaning I shall be both £150 out of pocket – I have never believed in insurance – and unable to see the screen or read for much longer.

You see, I shall have to go back to the optician’s for a new prescription anyway when the eye finally heals, hopefully in another month or so, as it won’t have the same optical characteristics as it had before the retina came away, and the other eye will probably have readjusted. So now isn’t a good time to replace the glasses, even though they have been of limited use as things stand, and are now obviously no use at all.

Although the bubble of gas the surgeon put in my short right eye to hold the retina in place when it popped off a second time is beginning to dissipate after a month, it is still an annoying, wobbly ball of triboluminescence that jiggers and glows and refracts lights and images prettily with every movement of my silly old head, with every pulsive systole (or is it diastole? I never remember) of my groaning vascular system.

Some smeary, sepia ‘crinklevision’ has returned around it, I have startlingly sharp focus at about 9 inches and can once again tell a wooded hillside from a coffee table, but the bubble’s gradual disappearance brings into view another thing to worry about, an area of gray carpet fluff in the middle of my field of vision, that won’t get out of the way, behind which nothing is visible at all.

Combined with ‘age-related’, two words I surely can’t now forget will be ‘macular’ and ‘degeneration’.

We shall see.

Anyway, so there’s another word that isn’t coming easily, that might be ‘earpiece’, or not.

Generally when I lose a word, almost every other word nowadays, I do at least have a memory of there having been a word at one time, and there’s an intended meaning from which to start hunting around for it. I can thus Google approximations of the word, the meaning I’d hoped the word would convey, call up a list of synonyms, or even Search on whole sentences to give context to the elusive phonemes, with much use of ellipsis, hoping the random response will contain the exact word I am alluding to; striving, even, for; that has slid beyond my grasp into the woolly chasm beneath my lexicographical mind.

(I am throwing words down on the page with the something-or-other of a drowning man. They will be here when I need them again. If only I remember where I left them….)

The miraculous engine will always deliver a page of selected websites, with whatever you call the incomplete paragraph of excerpted text that goes underneath the title, that you can never find again in the actual website, the teaser, the clickbait, the… oh well, there’s another word gone.

But anyway, the randomly selected bit of text you hoped might contain the word, or which at least might reveal the opening of a tunnel into which a train of thought might be detected approaching, that could take you to the station where the word will be standing anxiously on the platform, anticipating your delayed arrival owing, as it were, to leaves on the line, or the wrong kind of snow.

Amid the blasts of steam there will be flowers, a welcoming hug, a suitcase eagerly grabbed from your hand, tears of joy. Who knows, even a comfortable saloon-car ride to a warm fireside and a tumbler of fine malt whisky (before it is locked away prudently for the rest of the weekend, and the blended brought out)?

In fact, I’m thinking of compiling a dictionary of missing words. Old friends I know I used to know but are no longer there.

Like, sight.

It would come in handy.

 

The last refuge

Mr Boris dePfeffel Johnson, that overrated escapee from a Petri dish, has in his infinite cretinism once again dragged Britain braying and boasting into the mud.

And still the lamebrained Prime Minister – I won’t say lame duck, ducks can swim – May dare not reprimand or sack him, for fear of a certain Jingoist tendency among the tabloid headline-mumbling old dumbfucks of Little England.

The Second World War ended 73 years ago, with Europe divided firmly between the USA and Soviet Russia, the remains of the global British empire liberated by Coca Cola diplomats, Benny Goodman and the CIA.

Yet the fatuous oaf, Johnson continually seeks to remind the public of how ‘we’ the British won it, rendering all other species inferior.

It’s a lie. A myth. A meme. Bollocks. Bullshit. Total, ahistorical crap. Not true. Fake news.

Propaganda.

Mr Johnson, by some unforeseen calamity the bumbling and inept Foreign Secretary of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is lavishly displayed on the front of the Daily Express, a former newspaper, today, quoted as warning that our enemy, Russia will seek to make propaganda from its hosting in July of the football World Cup.

In doing so, he likens the tournament to “Hitler’s” 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Regardless of the possibility that propaganda is what the Olympics are all about – he should know, he was Mayor of London in 2012 when the Olympics were held there – regardless of the many inferior nations taking part, whose participation he thus diminishes; regardless of the fact that the Games are the intellectual property of the International Olympic Committee and do not belong to any individual, this disgusting slur on the Russian people should not be allowed to pass without mentioning that Russia sacrificed 27 MILLION dead, defeating Hitler in the Great Patriotic War.

The albino slug, Johnson has sacrificed nothing in his lifetime but his principles.

If as Dr Johnson observed, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, Boris defuckingPfeffel Johnson is surely by his frequently disgraceful and infantile utterances that scoundrel.

Get him out. NOW.

 

Donald Jr’s wife has already flounced out, leaving him with just the endangered animal parts and a tin of Dapper Dan…

Stormy nights

Donald Trump is in a world of trouble, to quote a metaphor frequently deployed by Cenk Uygur, principal host and owner of The Young Turks, a lively and not wholly unreliable online current affairs debate channel – although these tragic Americans have such difficulty pronouncing foreign names and little idea what or where anything is, or what has gone before, outside their own, as it were, very large but strangely narrow backyard.

For the idea is starting to take hold in the leftish media that he will not be brought down by his endless lying, his Russian escapades, his financial links with money-laundering oligarchs, the US and Russian mob figures in his uneasy dreams, his egregious breaches of security and of the various emoluments clauses, his takedowns of the constitution and the courts, his love of Nazis and childish infatuations with brutal dictators, his chronic nepotism, his economic incompetence, the unending abuse of public money or the astonishing turnover of staff in his “toxic” White House.

Mueller may run into the sand, as he has made the mistake of going too broad-brush and his time is dangerously running out. Cunning and ruthless as he is, he may have underestimated Trump’s lifelong ability to wheedle and bully his way out of anything, as psychopaths are wont to do.

Nor is Trump’s mental state: his obvious paranoia, his pathological narcissism and advancing senility any longer grounds for invoking the 25th amendment. His compulsive, overreactive trolling has become just how 21st-century politicians communicate with their “base”. Not even the rumored video with the f***ing great dildo up his bottom (© Mark C Smith, 2018. Don’t ask me, I only work here) will move the terrified and corrupt Republican Congress to euthanase this rotten presidency.

What will hopefully destroy this cowardly, vindictive playground bully and his vile, corrupt, nepotistic administration is Stormy Daniels, the “porn star” whose rep is growing daily as the incarnation of Superwoman, as she refuses to back down in the face of overweening physical and financial intimidation; while her Daniel Craig, James Bond lookalike attorney is running rings round the spavined, winded legal doofuses Trump hires because nobody else would.

Of course, no-one cares that he cheated on his wife a year into their marriage, while their son was only months old. He’s cheated on all his wives. Other presidents were also sexually incontinent, it goes with the myth of the alpha male. And I’d give you Marilyn Monroe over Stormy Daniels anyday, especially for unprotected sex. (Is the rumor there is a kid true? Is it? Oh, please!).

No, there are other angles to the story that may make his presidency untenable.

First comes the so-called marriage, to Melania Trump, who is now realizing that her private pain at his serial philandering has become very public, and with some pretty squalid details on display to complete her humiliation. With those gimlet Tartar eyes and flashing, razorlike cheekbones, I’d expect her to slip a cocktail stick between the fourth and fifth ribs any day now.

Largely unexplored is his history in the skin game, the allegations of underage models trafficked in, undocumented, by the Trump Agency from eastern Europe and the pedophilic nibbling at the fringes by his seedy, Studio 21 set. As a former Trump model, Melania will have signed a prenup and, for all we know, a NDA – non-disclosure agreement. But, if Daniels wins and her NDA is busted wide open, there’s a queue of wronged women to follow suit – with Melania at the head of it.

That’s why the Trump legal team is desperately trying to move the case to a court of arbitration, where hearings are held in secret, rather than let it go to a jury trial. Although the cat is already so far out of the bag, it’s over the horizon.

Donald Jr’s wife has already flounced out, leaving him with just the endangered animal parts and a tin of Dapper Dan, as it has emerged that he managed somehow to pull an attractive contestant from Orange Dad’s Celebrity Apprentice TV show for total non-celebrities, while Vanessa was expecting their demonic third or fourth child. Trump Sr says he’s sorry he couldn’t have done more to help save their marriage. I was married twice and so couldn’t possibly comment.

to be continued…

 

Is Russia really the source of all our ills?

God knows, I have nothing whatever to do with Russia or its intelligence apparatus.

But the following story makes it terrifyingly clear, Cambridge Analytica and its US parent, SCL Elections (the clue is in the name) – originally a military intelligence operation and with links to the Machiavellian Erik “Blackwater” Prince, brother of the clueless Education secretary, Betsy DeVos – are more than capable of deflecting blame for their own clandestine efforts at influencing elections onto any “enemy nation” they choose to smear.

And that, as the BogPo has occasionally suggested, Israel – not “The Jews”, Israel – plays a major and disproportionate part in attempting to order world affairs, sometimes hand-in-glove with private interests.

The current media furore as they catch up with a few savvy journalists over Facebook’s role in taking “Crooked Hillary” down ignores that the methods they used to harvest and sell data on millions of users and their ‘friends’, that others are now hotly accused of twisting to political ends while Zuckerberg turned a blind eye, were originally developed by the security state:

…weaponising information to harm an opponent was standard methodology … honed and developed in the company’s defence and military work – the fifth dimension of warfare, defined by the US military as “information operations”. (Guardian)

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/21/cambridge-analyticas-ruthless-bid-to-sway-the-vote-in-nigeria

Citing the 2015 Nigerian election that ended in tribal violence, and attempts by wealthy international disruptors to swing the vote in favor of the profoundly corrupt president Goodluck Jonathan, young Cambridge employees “terrified” by scary outsiders, tough-guy ex-military agents – mercenaries – they found themselves working with in Lagos on the campaign (along with bag-carriers from the now utterly discredited and bankrupt Bell, Pottinger PR company), who claimed to be from Mossad, spoke of how the company used Nigeria as a template for interfering in the US election in 2016.

(Indeed, black voters in the US were supposedly won over by Facebook videos featuring fake pro-Trump actors who were clearly of Nigerian origin.)

So who did try to swing the election? Was it private US consultancies funded by the Mercers and the Kochs? Or was it, conveniently, “The Russians”? Or both? The Cambridge Analytica revelations suggest we’ve been making a bit too much of Russia’s antipathy to the West. Questions must also arise over the foundation, funding, purposes and management of Wikileaks, who appear to be thoroughly complicit in these ‘dark politics’ internet operations.

Trump is almost certainly right. There very probably was no collusion with Russia to fix the election. Whatever Russia did could perfectly well have been an independent black op without Trump’s personal input. There may however have been collusion with Russia to lift the sanctions: that’s another matter. The fixing of the election was an internal, domestic operation. Why wouldn’t it have been? Much easier, and a local motive.

Trump was a useful idiot, put in the White House by Bob Mercer, Bannon and rogue elements, probably, in the Pentagon, I imagine to extend the concept of perpetual war beyond the borders of Syria: the ultimate showdown between the forces of Christianity and Islam.

Far-fetched? I think we need to fetch from as far as we need to for explanations in the land of the barking-mad: ultra-wealthy, albinist individuals actually researching immortality, buying up swaths of remotest New Zealand and planning to escape to Mars, nutjobs for whom owning the world is not enough. There’s nothing to be gained from conventional thinking about all this.

The name Koch has not yet surfaced in this story, although the letters form part of the word ‘novichok’, but the amount of money the brothers fed into the 2016 Republican campaign suggests they were not planning to lose. They reportedly plan on spending another $0.9 billion to keep the Republicans in power this year, provided candidates stay on the simple, three-part message: “No environmental controls. No free trade. Tax cuts for us.”

Disclaimer

“SCL Elections did not take possession of or use any personal information from such individuals for any purposes. SCL Elections does not use ‘hacked’ or ‘stolen’ data.”

Postscriptum

An interesting article in today’s Guardian gives us a history of the novichok chemical weapons program through the story of its first victim, Andrei Zheleznyakov, a chemist working in a secret Russian lab who was exposed to A-232 by accident. Secrecy meant he was not given the antidote – atropine – until the doctors had signed non-disclosure agreements. He took more than a year to die.

Three key points to emerge are that, being a binary agent whose components are in commercial use – imagine combining the baking soda in your kitchen with some gram flour and discovering you have a more deadly substance than sarin – neither part would be illegal in international law.

Secondly, the USA also has these exact same deadly nerve agents to hand, as does Britain.

Thirdly, the Russians can happily deny there was ever a program called “novichok” because at the time it was called “foliant”.

Personally, I feel like throwing up. Why do we have to live in a world alongside evil men who can even contemplate making and using this horrible shit? Why do we allow these monsters and their political apologists to come to power? They need to be degraded, along with all their diabolical works.

 

Equal pay should include Air Miles

In case you’re worried about equal pay at the BBC, try thinking less “salary” or “pension” and more… well, travel expenses?

Take the amazing Professor Mary Beard, for instance. A lady who cares as little about her personal appearance as I have to, yet who surely earns more in frequent flyer Air Miles in a month than I have in 68 years.

A leading expert on Greek and Roman history, she’s been hired on a freelance contact to present some of the curiously disappointing Civilizations series, supposedly worthy successor to Sir Kenneth Clarke’s 1960s tour de force overview of how we arrived at Ant & Dec’s Big Night Out.

I’m not sure why she’s also an expert on religious art, but here’s her impressive itinerary:

“She goes to the temple of Angkor Wat, the Tintoretto Crucifixion in Venice, the Buddhist caves of Ajanta and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, as she seeks to break down the conventions that centre some religions around images, while others are seen as hostile to artistic representation. She shows how all faiths (and their artists) face the same fundamental problems of treading a careful line between glorifying gods in images and blaspheming by daring to represent the divine. She ends at the Parthenon in Athens.”

Does her agent also work in her spare time as a travel agent, we must ask ourselves? All this stuff… surely, it’s in the British Museum?

PS – the “hostility to artistic representation” of most Islamic sects is actually an alternative to Western modes of seeing. The mesmerizing geometric patterns in Islamic religious art are an attempt to represent the mathematical principles that underlie the universe.

There is also non-religious Islamic art.

Just so you know.

 

GW: Ooh, granny, it’s a wild world

USA: California – 30 thousand people evacuated ahead of the latest Pineapple Express. Up to 10 inches of rain forecast for the Santa Barbara area and hillsides denuded of tree cover by last year’s fires threatening more landslips. Powerful storms sweep the south. Cars damaged by hail in Caldwell, Texas. Giant hail falls from the sky over Cullman, Alabama – Weatherman says “never seen a storm like it”, a car lot is trashed. Huge tornado forms over Russellville, Alabama. Homes trashed in Jacksonville, Al.

Storm Toby, fourth major Nor’easter in a little over six weeks, brings more feet of snow and strong winds misery to the east coast states.

Europe: mini-Beast brings more cold and snow across the continent, with disruption from Scandinavia and the British Isles down into Italy. Over in Spain, however, heavy rain causes flash-flooding in the south, boding poorly for the salad crop. 1 dead, 1 missing in Andalucia. Jetstream still lost somewhere over North Africa.

Australia: Sydney’s late autumn heatwave continues. 500 people were rescued from Sydney’s Bondi Beach as the mercury hit 41C, 106F. 70 homes were destroyed in a wildfire at Tethra, NSW. Elsewhere in the state, 1000 people were having to be rescued from floodwaters as the Lower Murray river rose following heavy rain.

Indonesia: Bandung, a powerful flash flood tears through Cicaheum, washing away cars.

Madagascar: a brief visit by Cyclone Eliakim kills 17 people in flash floods.

Brazil: No sign of a letup in the heavy rainstorms that have brought widespread flooding to many parts of the country over the past month. Lots round São Paolo, again. 3 dead, several missing. Valparaiso de Goias, genuinely heartbreaking, apocalyptic scenes.

Uruguay: Extensive flooding around the capital, Montevideo.

Dominican Republic: floods. Puerto Plata airport recorded 272.8 mm of rainfall in 24 hours (10.7 in), beating the previous record by 120 mm.

MrMBB333/ CEWN #104 citing The Weather Channel, Euronews et al/Floodlist

Where does it go from today? A ruminative speculation based on nothing and no-one… Pots, kettles (but no blacks)… Business welcomes transition deal… GW: just drifting on by.

Big hands! Putin wins fourth term in Kremlin shock! Will soon overtake Merkel as world’s longest-serving dictator.

 

We need to ask John le Carré what it was all about, but I doubt if even he knows.

It smells to me less like a conspiracy of the entire West led by wicked witch Theresa May to make life difficult for Putin by embarrassing the Russians, as they’ve been moaning it was in Moscow, and more like a hastily concocted cover story for some other skulduggery that went horribly wrong.

A sleepy English county town is the stage for an attack by evil Russians.

Certainly we’re not getting the truth about the apparent assassination attempt in Salisbury two weeks ago on former KGB/GRU Col Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, are we. Why would we? It’s a spy story!

The problem being that, unlike the Litvinenko case where two FSB goons were rapidly identified, in this case there is still no human suspect: there are victims,  we have motives aplenty, there is a smoking gun, but there is still no credible theory as to who exactly might have pulled the trigger. Er…

We may never really know. Just remember, however, this horrible stuff was designed by them to be used on us….

Nothing adds up!

 

Chapter 1: Wiltshire Circus

What was ex-KGB Col Skripal doing, living apparently in comfort, quite openly, in a quiet cathedral city at the heart of one of the most militarily sensitive areas of the UK – Porton Down, the MoD tank ranges, Qinetic defence industries’ HQ, RAF Lyneham, Portsmouth naval yards – Stonehenge (greatest mystery of all… was it a stone-age ICBM launcher?)

Who put him there, with his flashy BMW, and why? Was he really a free agent, entirely at liberty after being spy-swapped for some of his fellow countrymen in 2010? Surely he’d still have been on George Smiley’s string? Or “Karla” Putin’s?

The police have enough to do, micromanaging society, but how aware are they of foreign exiles living in our midst, whose history makes them potential security risks in the event of attempts on their lives, who are simply plonked down in the midst of our peaceful rustic communities by shady quasi-governmental agencies (Quaggas)? What protections can and do they afford them?

Why was Skripal chosen to be in the prisoner exchange? The single spies he was being swapped for hadn’t egregiously betrayed their own country, as he had. Did he really deserve a comfortable, middle-class retirement in an agreeably leafy, sleepy, half-timbered British country town, in Putin’s shifty eyes? Without a quid pro quo?

Why were his family allowed to constantly come and go between the UK and Russia while apparently being bumped off one by one? Why did they continue to do that? How was his son allowed to be flown back from St Petersburg and buried here after his sudden death from liver disease (endemic in Russia), if Skripal’s treachery was still so raw in the Kremlin that, eight years after his release, they would come looking for him, armed with the unnecessary complication of an obsolete compound neurotoxin – “just add water – and an egg”, as the Betty Crocker Cake Mix ads used to say?

As some Russian media spokesmouth observed, he could more easily have just been made to disappear.

What was in the timing?

Why has Putin been playing nice to the traitor, an exchanged double-agent, supposedly – for so many years before acting against him, if simple revenge were all this is about? He could have had him whacked anywhere, anyhow, at any time.

Does the former KGB Colonel Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin like to keep a pool of exiled traitors, live lobsters in a restaurant, to be eliminated publicly one by one as and when politically required to send a signal? Or was Col Skripal, the neighborly and jovial consumer of Lottery scratch cards, back in the GRU fold after all?

Suspected of being a triple-agent, might not the relevant Whitehall travel agency have wanted to make it look like the Russians had caught up with him, using a bag of old Soviet stuff from the stores at Porton Down as the most easily traceable weapon? Might that not at least be a better theory than a huge political conspiracy to draw attention from… what? the rest of the usual shit? Brexit? Stormy Daniels? Surely the Daily Mail is perfectly capable of that?

What was so important about the timing, was it as everyone says a Kremlin black-op to create international animus against Russia in order to stir the patriotic fervor of lethargic voters in today’s presidential election, whose result was always a foregone conclusion? Certainly, the sneers and pathetically transparent inventions of the Russian State-controlled media and tame politicians amplifying the outrage would suggest so.

But could that in turn be covering for something else?

Smirk and mirrors? Smersh and grab? (enough spy puns. Ed.)

 

Chapter 2: another toxic German car?

How was the red BMW car the apparent focus of the contamination, when they had parked it for several hours and gone to lunch before they were found?

If the car was the focus, how did their house become so contaminated while they were not at home but were out in the car, that entering it could injure the only other person to have been seriously affected, Det Sgt Nick Bailey?

And if as is thought the agent was in powder form, why would anyone enveloped in a cloud of the stuff blowing from the car’s heater not notice it? Skripal was trained in black ops, he would surely know. And why did the toxin then take so long to act? The BBC’s ‘explainer’ about Novichok claims the version that’s suspected is virtually instantaneous. It doesn’t let you go to lunch, followed by a stroll in the park.

If the investigators think the focus was the car, but the house was sufficiently contaminated as to injure Sgt Bailey, then the Skripals must have been heavily contaminated before driving into the city and would almost certainly then a) not have been capable of enjoying lunch at Zizzi’s restaurant and a drink at a pub, and b) would surely have transferred considerably more nerve agent to the environment and the innocent shoppers and diners around them than they appear to have done.

The timelines we’ve been getting in the media seem all wrong.

 

Chapter 3: Alarm call

Det Sgt Bailey was described as a ‘first responder’, yet he is said to have become contaminated at the house, not at the scene where the Skripals were found.

If someone had called 999 on the basis of two unknown persons found unconscious on a park bench, two uniformed officers would normally have been dispatched; not a detective. How would the despatcher know to send a mid-ranking detective, that it was more serious than a couple of drunks? Why would Det Sgt Bailey have been called a ‘first responder’, when he was apparently not at the scene, but had gone to the house? Why are all the photos of Sgt Bailey in the media showing him in dress uniform? Detective sergeants don’t go around in uniform.

How would Bailey know to go to the house, even know where it was, if he or other ‘first responders’ had not first responded by searching the victims’ pockets for ID (unless he already knew who they were and where they lived?) They were unconscious! But he was not apparently at the scene where the Skripals were found, so could not have discovered their ID, unless someone had called him. And even then, why would he go straight to the house – unless he was already there?

How did he know to go to the house, and – given the victims were right there on a park bench and he was the ‘first responder’, why? Who sent him to the house? What was he supposed to find there? Why would someone call him, especially, to go there?

Nor, surely, would Sgt Bailey have gone to the house on his own as part of a follow-up police enquiry. If a chemical attack was suspected before he went, there would have been a whole team wearing full hazmat protection and carrying guns. Not just one detective. Sgt Bailey appears to have had no protection. He could not have known the house was contaminated. If he knew the house was relevant to the enquiry it must have been on suspicion the house was contaminated. Why would he go there alone and unprotected?

Was he perhaps part of a security detail protecting Col Skripal, who already knew the family and where they lived? Why would that need to be kept a secret? Were the Skripals under surveillance? After all, Yulia had arrived from Moscow with a mysterious package only the day before. It’s inconceivable her arrival would not have been picked up at the airport.

But why then would Sgt Bailey have gone directly to the house after they were found? Someone, surely must have sent him. Why, what was it supposed to achieve? What was he even doing there, unless the police knew the house was immediately relevant to their enquiries? And why did they subsequently seal it off so tightly for ten days, apparently without anyone else going in, that the Skripals’ cats and guinea-pigs (??? wtf) died of dehydration?

What was behind the widespread media release of a days’ old CCTV image of former KGB Colonel Skripal innocently buying scratch cards at a corner store? What did that add to the story, apart from an element of incongruity?

Nothing makes sense.

 

Chapter 4: Medical mystery tour

Why were no other first responders, paramedics eg, contaminated through primary contact with the victims in the park, before the use of a nerve agent was suspected and protective measures taken? How was it first established that they were the victims of an attack by neurotoxin? Some substance must have been visible.

No-one who came into contact with the Skripals on that park bench is reported to have been hospitalized, even though it would not have been realized at first that a nerve agent was responsible and so no-one responding to their plight would have had any protection to begin with. Yet the only people affected – until the police identified 131 others who had been in the pub and the restaurant, none of whom has been hospitalized – were the primary victims, and the mysterious Det Sgt Nick Bailey*. What was his role in this?

When was it first realized that a deadly neurotoxin was involved, and who by? Knowledge of Col Skripal’s background might have given responders a clue, but who would have had that, before he could be identified? At what stage was the warning given to take extreme hazard precautions, and why were those who attended the scene before that warning went out not themselves badly affected by the toxin?

According to the BBC: “A doctor, who was shopping with her husband in the city centre on Sunday, said Ms Skripal was “slumped in her seat, completely unconscious” and had lost control of her bodily functions.” Did this “doctor” not attempt to offer immediate medical assistance? Why then is she not also in hospital?

Is the Novichok toxin designed to biodegrade so quickly after use that those who come into contact with it later will not be seriously harmed? Judging by the evidence trail still being uncovered, that doesn’t seem likely. If so, how to account for the effect on the Skripals and Sgt Bailey so many hours between the car being parked or the house contaminated and the victims being found? Were the Russian designers in the 1980s clever enough to give the toxicity of their poison a half-life?

* It now appears there was a second, unnamed police officer who was contaminated at the house. Why has he or she remained anonymous while Bailey was immediately named and hailed in the media as a ‘hero’? Was he or she another of the Skripals’ close protection detail?

 

Chapter 5: Half-life

One possible “signal” being sent by whoever was behind the attack might be a reminder that we seem to be entering a new Cold War, since Novichok was developed back in the 1980s and is supposedly by international convention no longer in military use. Less fashionably “retro” means of assassinating States’ enemies are now available, such as the VX agent used to kill Kim Jong-Nam, inconvenient half-brother of the North Korean tyrant.

Given the Novichok program involved around 100 different substances and was terminated decades ago and all old Soviet-era chemical weapons stocks verified (technically, at least) as destroyed, how did ‘Porton Down’ identify the substance so quickly and with such assurance, unless the chemical signature is held on an active database, presuming therefore that the Russians are suspected not to have destroyed their stocks?

(How is it the Russians imagine their heated denial of this weapon’s existence can possibly be believed, given the Soviet chemical weapons program was destroyed under international supervision and all items therefore presumably identified first? It’s absurd!)

…or unless the independent existence of the particular batch of toxin used was known about beforehand? A Guardian story suggests, for instance, that someone who had worked on the development program was involved in an attempt by organized criminals in the 1990s to make a batch of A232, some of which may have been used to assassinate a Russian banker and his secretary.

If that were the case, and the Russians were said to have complied with the conventions on chemical weapons, was Britain also reproducing these weapons or holding stocks in contravention of the conventions, or do the conventions allow multiple countries to retain samples for analytical purposes, for use in the production of antidotes (or illegal successor weapons)?

Was there something in Skripal’s KGB history linking him with the Novichok program, to make it an appropriate murder weapon? Did he for instance pass the formulae on to the British?

In which case, could the substance used indeed have come from Porton Down, as the Russians are now alleging, just eight miles from the scene of the crime? How? Who would have had access to it, and why that particular sample?

Was it needed in a hurry, that toxic substance directly traceable to a 30-years-old Soviet weapons program?

Two guinea-pigs? Cats, yes, very Ernst Stavro Blofeld… but who under the age of 13 still keeps guinea-pigs as pets?

And why?

 

Chapter 6: Assembly line

The nerve agent we are told was a highly active two-part compound for assembly immediately prior to use that would have had to be handled by someone extremely well trained and protected.

I don’t know what the original delivery system was supposed to be, an artillery shell possibly, but the idea of some Kremlin goon mixing it manually in the bedroom washbasin and then placing it somewhere the Skripals just might come into contact with it, without wearing a hazmat suit and respirator throughout the operation, is surely absurd.

Unless there’s a dead Russian agent slumped in a genteel B&B somewhere in rural southern England? (I’m still wondering how Dmitry Lugovoi managed to smuggle in enough radioactive polonium to kill Litvinenko and leave a glowing slime trail all over London for several days, yet not kill himself in the process?)

Could the Skripals have been making it themselves, for use in some other context, and fouled up? Would that explain why only they and Sgt Bailey were affected? Would it explain what was in the package Yulia Skripal had brought in from Moscow days earlier? Not a booby-trap, but the Novichok precursors ready for them to make up the final weapon? So who was the target? One week later, The Guardian reported:

“The family of the murdered Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov have said they are devastated at his death and are helping counter-terrorism detectives with the investigation. The 68-year-old was found dead at his home in New Malden, south-west London, on 12 March (exactly a week after the supposed attack on the Skripals) and a postmortem showed he …”

Yes, the former finance director of Aeroflot who embezzled millions of dollars and served time for it had been strangled manually and then strung up to make it look like suicide – the method probably used to kill his billionaire business associate, Boris Berezovsky, at his home in Sunningdale in 2013.

Well,

Given the effectiveness of the polonium method (or VX, sarin, manual strangulation, or just a bullet) at causing a lingering public death, why revert instead to this old neurotoxin, that has not as far as we know been used anywhere else for a similar purpose, unless it was all there was to hand, in which case how so, or unless it was of some special significance in the coded world of Anglo-Russian espionage?

Were the Skripals on a mission to pay Sergei’s final debt to the GRU?

 

Chapter 7: Three-ring Circus

The Russians have offered no explanation on demand to the UK government, incurring the anger of politicians and a pretty fruitless exchange of diplomatic punishments and reprisals.

Mr Boris Johnson has put his foot in it yet again, stating that he had been categorically assured by “the guy” at Porton Down that the Novichok had been traced back to Russia. Shortly afterwards the Director of our loveliest weapons establishment went public with a statement saying they had not established where the stuff came from, it wasn’t their business to do that sort of thing.

The Russians had a field-day with that at the UN.

It appears then that Johnson was trying to hide the fact that British intelligence in Russia had passed the information through to MI6. Never a good thing to admit, since the Iraqi “Weapons of Mass Destruction” debacle, that we have agents abroad who could find their own feet.

Equally the UK government has refused to provide the evidence to the Russians they are accusing of a serious breach of international law. Why not? (The BBC is speculating we might have evidence, but just can’t admit it without being kind to Jeremy Corbyn, who has suggested everyone should look at it first. Politicians, eh?)

And why could we not wait the statutory ten days before hastening to conclusions and accusations, as mandated in the conventions? It has been said, the counter-terrorism forces’ investigations may go on for months, yet we rushed to judgement within hours, almost as if the story were pre-prepared.

Why? What was the timing about, why was it so critical – apart, that is, from having to get a story out fast enough to prevent a possible public health crisis and a panic once it had all gone wrong?

 

 

Chapter 8: Send in more clowns

At the time Skripal was apparently turned as a double agent by the British, was Christopher Steele not the MI6 bureau chief in Moscow, or some such?

Steele was the private security consultant responsible for digging up, on behalf it seems in turn both of the Republicans AND the Democrats via an obscure research outfit in Washington called Fusion GPS, what possible ‘dirt’ if any the Russians might have had on Donald Trump prior to his election. Information that could have been used in the US for good or ill – in the event, both.

In 2016, perturbed by what he was finding (his version goes) Steele sent the CIA and the FBI the controversial, so-called ‘pee-pee’ dossier – an uncollated set of 35 pages of previously unverified information supposedly gleaned from his Russian contacts that has substantially since been verified (to howls of “fake news” from the Trump camp) and is now a key part of the Mueller investigation into possible election fraud and financial crimes by the Trump team: an investigation Mr Trump seems almost recklessly keen to have shut down, for whatever reason.

My pet conspiracy theory is that Trump is desperate that it should not come out that he was compromised years ago, not by the Russians but by US intelligence, and was informing on his criminal Russian contacts.

Prudently, but perhaps also melodramatically, when the existence of the dossier became public knowledge in the USA, leaked to BuzzFeed, Steele “disappeared” with his family for several weeks before re-emerging, having seemingly been debriefed by the FBI. Clearly, there was some threat to their lives. But where from? And who spirited the Steeles away to a safe house? If it was his former friends in the security service, why would they do that?

Was Skripal one of Steele’s contacts? Could the attack on him be a warning to any others who might give information related to the Trump “conspiracy” and the part played in it by Mr Putin or possibly other, even more sinister criminal elements in the Kremlin?

I refer you to a curious interview by Emily Maitlis on the BBC’s Newsnight last Friday with longstanding Putin critic and fabulously wealthy exiled oligarch, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose view is that Putin has become the prisoner, the sock-puppet, of a gang of evil actors, mafioski he initially surrounded himself with but who have essentially been running things in Russia for the past few years.

I then refer you to a John Sweeney BBC Panorama documentary from 2016, and many other reports alluding to Mr Trump’s alleged financial connections with the Russian mafia, whose terrifying capo, Simeon Mogilevitch is said to have invested heavily but alas, disappointingly in his Atlantic City casino operations and other Trump properties; but must ask you not to jump to any conclusions.

For, here we find on a website called USNews.com, from January 2018: “Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson testified (to the increasimgly fractious and disorderly Senate Intelligence Committee) that the real-estate mogul built relationships with Russian gangsters, who were themselves tied to the Russian government.” (http://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2018-01-18/trump-had-ties-to-russian-mob-figures-fusion-gps-founder-testifies)

And over the weekend, it has emerged that the Cambridge, UK-based data analytics firm backed by Bannon’s former mentor Bob Mercer, allegedly involved in clandestine election-rigging ops using, effectively, hacked Facebook data – including the Trump campaign, Brexit and others – and connected with Wikileaks, purveyors of the Clinton emails – was also tied to Kremlin-backed oil giant, Lukoil in an apparently global attempt to “change the culture”.

At the very least, these revelations represent a rampng-up of the new Cold War rhetoric and a reason for these tit-for-tat sanctions, targeted assassinations (by no means confined to the UK), and punitive measures, to hijack the news agenda.

I finally rest my case on an interview on RT with veteran lefty investigator, John Pilger, who believes Theresa May has concocted the whole thing to make herself look competent and paint the poor Russians into a corner, or some such Pilgeresque paranoid drivel.

Is it all a case of a self-driving conspiracy, with no human agency at the wheel?

Mr Putin is later today being re-elected for another 6-year term as President. Once that formality has been completed we shall no doubt see where the Skripal saga takes us next.

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The thick plottens…

“The information commissioner is seeking an urgent court warrant to enter the London headquarters of the elections consultancy Cambridge Analytica after the firm was caught in an undercover sting boasting about entrapping politicians, using honey traps and running fake news campaigns. Cyber-security consultants … who had been engaged by Facebook to do (an) audit, were at CA’s office in London on Monday evening when the ICO asked them to leave so the authorities could pursue their own investigation.” – Guardian

The ICO has been flagging up heavily in the media for the past 24 hours that she will be ‘seeking’ a warrant to invade Cambridge Analytica’s data files. If you were investigating breaches of the Data Protection Act and possible electoral finance offences, would you give a computer firm two days’ clear notice in which to scrub their files like a coalminer’s doorstep, if you didn’t for some reason want them to come out looking whiter than white?

What in God’s holy name is going on?

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When not in Rome

Within hours of the incident unfolding in Salisbury, on the basis of secret intelligence, no doubt, British politicians including the bumptious oaf, Boris Johnson, and the new Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, an unindividuated teenager who keeps a pet tarantula in a vivarium in his office, were already pointing the finger at Vladimir Putin for ordering yet another targeted and messy assassination attempt on British soil.

Meanwhile in Nottingham, police have no idea weeks after the event if (in an incident caught on camera) an Egyptian engineering student, Mariam Moustafa, was the target of a racially aggravated assault, or what the motive was, after being chased off a bus and severely beaten while being racially abused by a gang of white girls.

They are keeping an open mind, apparently.

Mariam died in hospital three weeks later. The Health Board is “investigating” whether her death might possibly have been connected with the assault. The post mortem examination was “inconclusive”, the coroner has brought in an open verdict.

The BBC reports, her family is here (they live in Rome, where Mariam was born) looking for answers.

Good luck with that.

 

 

Pots, kettles (but no blacks)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the “extensive and fair investigation” had concluded that Mr McCabe “made an unauthorised disclosure to the news media and lacked candour – including under oath – on multiple occasions” – BBC News

“Detestable lahs you are tellin’.”

Mr Sessions, who has previously admitted lying under oath about his communications over sanctions with the Russian ambassador, is obviously unaware that McCabe’s job description as acting director of the FBI made him specifically the person who authorized statements to the press on behalf of the agency.

Any disclosures he himself made or (as in this case) requested a spokesman to make on the agency’s behalf, would therefore have been authorized by him, no?

In the meantime Mr Trump has spewed out another in his weekly series of paranoid Sunday breakfast tweets today, accusing everyone of being traitors to America, unfair to him, of being in the pay of Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNP, and libelling people he hates, McCabe, Comey, Special Counsel Bob Mueller, calling them out as liars and fakers of evidence. “NO COLLUSION!”, he screamed.

He gets more like Nixon by the hour.

His despairing lawyers are entirely unable to stop him doing it, but he is clearly unaware that as a result of his attempts to halt the Mueller investigation without actually firing Bob Mueller, a prima facie case for obstruction of justice is piling up behind him tweet by tweet like a vast heap of shit ready to topple and bury him forever. Not to mention the tiny question, what’s he trying so desperately to hide?

My treasured Follower, Mark Smith may have one possible answer, his Comment is on the previous Post.

I couldn’t, possibly.

(I have a theory that Mark C Smith is a collective pseudonym for GCHQ, I can’t be certain. All I know is, my Views for this and Pumpkin 48 have reached almost virulent numbers today. Starting from quite a low base, you understand.)

 

Bidness groups warmly welcome transition deal

The CBI has welcomed the deal in Brussels as “A victory for common sense”, insisting that it brings a welcome degree of certainty to British businesses. According to The Guardian:.

“…the transition deal is conditional upon there being a withdrawal agreement. As David Davis, the Brexit secretary, admitted recently, there is a possibility that the withdrawal agreement talks could collapse without a deal at the last moment. In those circumstances, there would be no transition…”

So, good, we’re all certain about that, then.

Davis and Barnier announce breakthrough agreement on Brexit transition.

 

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GW: just drifting on by

Canada: Alberta blanketed with 30 cm snow after two storms collide. Houses buried to the eaves under 20ft drifts.

USA: Storms land on both coasts. Heavy snow blankets Massachusetts in the east, Oregon in the west. An ‘energetic Arctic jetstream’ is threatening another Nor’easter this week, catching Alabama in the middle with ‘tornadic supercells’ with a high chance of damaging hailstorms. And another ‘Pineapple Express’ atmospheric river is set to bring big rain, possibly triggering more landslips on wildfire-damaged hillsides, to southern California.

Italy: Lit-up by exploding electricity substations, a huge tornado rips through Caserta, near Naples, on the night of 13 March.

Romania: Extensive flooding from rain and snowmelt. Croatia: heavy rain and snowmelt trigger mudslides, carrying away houses.

Ireland: Under several yellow warnings for extensive flooding following intense rainfall, 14 March.

Britain: greets curtain-call of the Beast from the East March 17/18 with two days of freezing weather and snowfalls disrupting schools, traffic and flights.

Australia: Cat 2 Cyclone Marcus kicks off the season, nibbling at northern coastal areas around Darwin and Kimberley with 130 Km/h windspeeds, uprooting large trees and damaging cars and buildings. Meanwhile… Sydney swelters in early autumn 40C, 104F heatwave, a lightning storm puts a power station out of action at Terang and rural properties are lost to an “out-of-control” wildfire burning around Brega in Victoria state.

(The NOAA 5-day forecast track for Marcus seems to be showing a slight possibility that having now headed out into the Southern Ocean, it could swing back toward land somewhere north of Perth, Western Australia state.)

Thailand: ‘freak’ storm with cyclonic wind, hail causes floods, damage. Indonesia: Java flooding.

Africa: floods in Kenya, Uganda and Lesotho, where 5 people died in an intense hailstorm. Madagascar, yet another cyclone, Eliakim brings strong winds and flooding.

World: Despite the Beast and the Nor’easters, February managed 6th warmest on record globally, thanks to persistent heat anomalies in the Arctic and across Africa, Australia/New Zealand and central Asia. It’s been a wild winter in the northern hemisphere, but as March progresses there seems to be some flattening-out of the global extremes and some cooling-off in the Arctic that is extending the icefields again, although larger temperature anomalies are appearing in the Antarctic now.

The good news for Europe at least is that the polar jetstream that wandered all the way down to North Africa for months, bringing very cold conditions, may be slowly making its way back north again. Of course, that would bring heat up from Africa, presaging another extremely hot European summer, with more wildfires and probable crop losses.

Climate & Extreme Weather News #103, pt 2, citing Euronews/ Wunderground