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

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

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

 

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

The Parade’s Gone By

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

I know, I know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The time to say no is in the restaurant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just sayin’.

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

x

Commander-in-Brief

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

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

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

Santa Rosa. A Mexican name…

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

x

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

Careless tweets cost lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ooops.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I am somewhat put out

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

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

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

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

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

Period?

 

 

 

Advertisements

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

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

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

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

America, You’re Fired!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tsk. When thieves fall out…

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

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

x

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

Is this really as bad as it gets?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then recover.

x

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

Granny Weatherwax says: Welcome to October

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Argentina: powerful hailstorm batters Corrientes. Cars damaged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of the World News

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

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

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

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

You have been warned!

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

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

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

 

Women in broadcasting: a sour note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ooops.

 

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

Women in politics: a shower note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what, QED, has been the observed result?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Is it all uber?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I feel guilty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

x

“No power stronger than human denial”

Granny W: It’s more of the same

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Is this the end of Pumpkin mania?

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

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

Go away!

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

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

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

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

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

He is so awful, it almost makes him interesting.

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

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

But.

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

But it’s not looking hopeful.

x

Why on earth does this keep happening?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think we should be told.

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

 

Is what you see what you get – was it ever? Oops, there goes another bank. Enemies of the People. Plus: Granny Weatherwax report – Obituary: Exxon Mobil.

“Scientific reports and articles written or cowritten by Exxon Mobil employees acknowledged that global warming was a real and serious threat. They also noted it could be addressed by reducing fossil fuel use….”

Of which, more later…

 

“That rich, creamy texture, the luxurious mouthfeel of your Black Cherry yoghurt dairy product is entirely due to the addition of flour, mashed potato and fat.”

Is what you see what you get? Was it ever?

Corn flour. Rice flour, Dried potato…

Making nachos? Tortilla maybe? Something Tex-Mex, anyway?

No, just peering more closely for the first time at the tiny-print list of ingredients in a Morrison’s ‘The Best’ yoghurt.

In recent weeks I’ve become semi-addicted to these smaller, 150g pots, as a quick snack you can’t pig on. They have great flavours: I’m hung up on their new Raspberry with Amaretto flavour, which has succeeded my thing for Key Lime Pie. I’m also a big fan of Corsican Lemon, you can taste the Corsican in it (of course he can! Innit?).

But my campaign to get rid of this medicine-ball I am carrying around on my front does not seem to have advanced much, despite the sacrifice for the past whole month of my nightly bottle of Merlot.

Now I know why.

I suppose I asked for it, really. The corn starch, the rice flour, the dried spud, the non-specified ‘flavourings’, the ‘carrot concentrate’, the salt, the dextrose, the ‘mono and di-glycerides of fatty acids’ that go to make up a healthy dairy product.

It’s all part of our increasingly dystopian present, where nothing is what it says it is on the front of the pack.

And in some ways a return to the bad old days, when grocers would adulterate comestibles like flour and sugar with cheaper ingredients or just, basically, stuff to make up extra weight on the scales. That rich, creamy texture, the luxurious mouthfeel of your Black Cherry yoghurt dairy product is entirely due to the addition of flour, mashed potato and fat.

During the war, the second one that is, coffee was rationed pretty well everywhere in Europe, on both sides, and so people of ingenuity started grinding up acorns instead of coffee beans.

It must have become an acquired taste, because after the war (UB personally dates from 1949) the BogPo remembers a filthy brown liquid substance that looked like runny Marmite, sold in bottles and marketed as ‘Camp coffee’.

God knows what it was made from then, but today the good news is you can still buy it! Mister Tesco writes:

“Chicory & Coffee Essence with added sugar. Camp is a firm family favourite as a hot drink when mixed with warm milk. Pack Size: 241ml.

  • Same servings
  • Less mess
  • Easy pour and store
  • Suitable for coffees, cakes & more”

Camp. Accept no substitute.

I’m not sure we have many firm families left nowadays that you can mix with warm milk, but more good news from the comprehensive World of Google, there’s a Camp Coffee Club you can join! “Your one stop shop for delicious recipe inspiration. We’ve got recipes for cakes, bakes, drinks & more, all with one key ingredient …” yes, New Added pathetic marketing bullshit!

But we shouldn’t attack this obvious national treasure of a brand, this democratic institution, this Great British Values coffee substitute made from a bitter salad vegetable with added sugar, in a world where you can buy 250 different delicious single-estate varieties of real ground coffee beans from every continent – albeit a Scottish invention and manufactured north of Hadrian’s wall – for doing so will bring down upon your head the wrath of Dacre, he of The Mail:

Camp coffee forced to change label by the PC brigade

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-404516/Camp-coffee-forced-change-label-PC-brigade.html#ixzz4qVHUTvG8
as I’m sure you will want to, because this is really disgraceful. (It’s also ten years ago. Get over it. Ed.)

See, those dastardly Europeans with their garlic-chewing, sovereignty-swallowing PC police had complained that the label showing a turbanned Sikh provendering a British soldier of the Raj wi’ his nightly cup o’ Camp Coffee made with Warm Milk was RACIST!

“The makers of the chicory-flavoured essence are now using an image of a Scottish soldier sitting side by side drinking coffee with a turbanned Sikh.”

(Nothing about homophobic too.)

I’m not sure whether the objection is based on the original objection, or whether the very idea of a white – more probably ginger – man sitting down to share an unhealthy sugary brew with a brown man in a turban is the problem. I should have thought the image of interracial fellowship would have been a cause for celebration, but apparently not. Certainly not at The Daily Mail, to which all foreigners are anathema. (Or as young people now say, haram.)

As with all Mail headlines, it repays the offended reader to look more closely at the story. In which case, you will read that the makers of Camp were entirely silent on the subject of political correctness: “A spokeswoman for Camp Coffee now owned by the giant McCormick foods group refused to reveal if the race criticism was the reason for the changes in the labels…”

However, it appeared that in a re-run of the Indian Mutiny of 1854, anonymised random ‘Asian shopkeepers’ were refusing to stock the brand, citing Sikh abuse.

Thus an absurd comment from The Central Scotland Racial Equality Council has welcomed the latest updating, claiming that it will “help change the mentality of young people to see how different races now relate.”

Yes, I’m sure all young Scots learn their civics from obscure product labels, especially now the schools have given up teaching the subject, and will change their mentality accordingly. Unless, that is, the Sikhs are playing for the wrong team, or queuing alone for the late-night bus.

To be fair, the list of ingredients does begin with ‘Yoghurt’ (milk). It is also 18 per cent Raspberries; which, as they are even at the height of summer still priced at an unseasonal £2 for about 20 in a plastic tray, flavoured with botrytis mould, represents excellent value; and two per cent Amaretto. So for 65 pence – 2.3 pence a gramme – you’re not getting something that’s completely ersatz; whatever ‘flavourings’ means.

However, as climate change continues to change the climate, and yearly floods and droughts drive avocados and iceberg lettuces from the shelves, keep an eye on those changing labels. Let me know when you come across your first product made with added acorns, that isn’t an actual oak forest.

Because you never know in these changing times, what you’re getting for your money.

 

“…companies need to start paying people properly”

Oops, there goes another bank.

With shades of Northern Rock, the secondary lender Provident Financial has shed 75% of its stock market value overnight as it downgraded its profit forecast from £60 million to a loss of £120 million, following the departure of the nominatively deterministic CEO, Peter Crook.

Optimistically, Mr Crook paid himself – correction, was quite properly remunerated by the committee – £6.3 million last year, while presiding over a major change in the business model of the ‘doorstep lender’, specializing in lending money at high rates of interest to people no-one else would lend to, obviously because they couldn’t pay it back.

Rocky 2? The Great Northern Run.

Less than two years after the gibbering idiots of business welcomed it in to start trading its incredibly overvalued shares on the London stock market, Provident Financial (an oxymoron if ever there was) has withdrawn its proposed dividend to shareholders, who now get nothing.

It remains to be seen if the ailing bank can remain on its feet, as there is no money left at the Treasury for bailing UK banks out to the tune of £1.3 trillion, as they did in 2008. Fortunately the loan book isn’t all that huge, about £500 million. If PF does collapse, other banks will snap that up: bad debt is good news, especially for the hedge funds.

The collapse follows a saga in which the FSA, the Financial Services Authority, expressed concern that PF relied on an army of untrained, commission-only local volunteers to sell its high-priced loans to family, friends and neighbours. As they would have no idea about the rules and regulations, the Authority recommended that PF should switch for safety to a professional salesforce. Instead, they decided in a spirit of 21st century modernity, no doubt egged-on by consultants, to go all-electronic, and the recovery rate of their loans fell off a cliff.

In addition, they’re being investigated over the propriety of a product offering to freeze people’s credit card debts – for a substantial fee, naturally.

It’s probably not the start of another major run on the banks and a new, even worse recession.

Not yet. But it’s a bellwether warning: financiers have got to learn to stop messing with these toxic products.

And companies need to start paying people properly, so they don’t have to fall back on this lethally dangerous money just to make ends meet.

Happy Birthday to Us

The newly-late SciFi author, Brian Aldiss’ readers may recall a short story of his, in which a giant advertising agency decides after a lengthy ‘blue sky’ creative session to mark the 100th anniversary of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by rolling out the mothballed Enola Gay and repeating the exercise.

Calendar-watchers will no doubt be appreciating the synchronicity of Provident Financial’s precipitous spiral into near-death, coming as it does exactly 10 years to the week since French giant BNP Paribas first put its hand up to ask nervously, where all the money had gone?

 

Granny Weatherwax

Obituary: Exxon Mobil

The New York Times, in a comprehensive study for Environmental Research Letters, has for the first time commissioned a comprehensive analysis of communications issued by and within one of the world’s largest oil and gas exploration and supply companies over the last 40 YEARS. This is what they have to say to the self-important little ‘look at me, I’m so in-denial’ troll-wankers, bought politicians who don’t give two hoots what happens to your grandchildren as long as they’ve got lots and lots of money, fake scientists and fossil-fools, the Lord Lawsuit liars of the planet:

“Our findings are clear: Exxon Mobil misled the public about the state of climate science and its implications. Available documents show a systematic, quantifiable discrepancy between what Exxon Mobil’s scientists and executives discussed about climate change in private and in academic circles, and what it presented to the general public.

“Scientific reports and articles written or cowritten by Exxon Mobil employees acknowledged that global warming was a real and serious threat. They also noted it could be addressed by reducing fossil fuel use….” – NYT, 22 Aug.

(Research was funded by Harvard University Faculty Development Funds and by the Rockefeller Family Fund, which also helped finance the reporting by Inside Climate News and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, which published its examination of Exxon Mobil with The Los Angeles Times. Top photo: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters/The Guardian)

Now watch the lawsuits fly!

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/opinion/exxon-climate-change-.html?ref=opinion&wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_todayworld

19-23 August

USA: Hurricane Harvey intensifying to Category 3 in the Gulf with sustained windspeeds of 115 mph. Thousands evacuating low-lying coastal areas. First major hurricane to make landfall in 11 years.

“An incredible amount of rain, 15 to 25 inches with isolated amounts of up to 35 inches, is predicted along the middle and upper Texas coast, because the storm is expected to stall and unload torrents for four to six straight days. The National Hurricane Center said it expects “devastating and life-threatening” flash flooding.”

Six inches of rain overnight 21st causes flash-flooding in Kansas City for the second time in two weeks, all-time record river highs. One dead.

India: 2 million displaced by floods in Uttar Pradesh, 72 dead. Rivers reach record highs. Death toll in Bihar rises to 253 since flooding first began after continuous heavy rain from 10 August. Almost 7,000 villages affected, 700 thousand people displaced.

Sierra Leone: 820 people still missing after Regent landslide, near Freetown. What caused it? Nearly 81.3 mm (11-in.) rain fell in 12 hours, 70mm in 7 hours. Weather bureau calls for better planning resilience.

Somalia famine bites. (Keydmedia.net/Google)

Somalia: deaths from starvation being reported by charities struggling to save millions trapped in three-year drought also affecting northern Nigeria. “More than 6 million Somalis — about half the country’s population — are in need of emergency aid, UN says.”

China: Typhoon Hato makes landfall near Macau. 12 confirmed dead, dozens injured, properties damaged by 128 mph gusts. Macau under 3ft of water. “The most powerful typhoon to hit Hong Kong in five years has forced schools and businesses to close, and hundreds of flights to be cancelled.”

Italy: “The incredible moment a car melted … has been captured on camera by a British tourist… The Renault Megane was parked in the coastal town of Caorle in northern Italy, as temperatures hit 37C (99F). ‘We drove past and just couldn’t believe what we were seeing. Bits of the car were literally dripping off on to the road’. The heatwave … has claimed the lives of more than 100 pensioners.”

Croatia: new wildfires raging around the town of Dubci. Wildfires burning also in Republic of Georgia.

  • Please understand: in addition to massive quantities of greenhouse gas emissions emanating from wildfires these are some of the most scenically beautiful parts of the world we are destroying, with terrible loss of wildlife.

Turkey: torrential rain on the 22nd causes violent flash flood in Kuruçasile. Roads, bridges washed away.

Switzerland: 8 people missing after “landslide on Wednesday morning sent mud, rocks and dirt flooding into the village of Bondo, near the Italian border. About 100 people were evacuated…”

UK: Heavy rainfall causes flash flood in Northern Ireland. 120 rescued, roads washed away.

World: hottest places this week include California, Medina (Saudi Arabia), Algeria – all with local temps at 106F (NB in Algeria it’s 20.00, Saudi 22.00, those are evening temps!). Lake Havasu, Arizona 104F, Conceicao Do Araguaia (Brazil), Mauretania at 102F.

  • It’s minus 62F, -52.2C at the Scott-Amundsen base, South Pole, so much for global warming, haha!

Climate and Extreme Weather News #57/ Floodlist/ Washington Post/ Sky News/ Daily Mail/ BBC News/ WX.Now

x

“I dug deep into the festering piles of songbooks under the piano and there it was…”

Without a song…

I was raised on The Great American Songbook, as musicians like to call that vast body of work produced in the 1930s, 40s and 50s in what used to be known as Tin Pan Alley.

My parents being theatricals, they and their frequently gay actor friends had camp tastes in music. It was the beginning of the 12-inch LP age, and we had acquired a smart new radiogram with a six-stack autochange Garrard turntable. I grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Marlene Dietrich – later, Barbra Streisand.

I thought later on when I first came out of the closet as a jazz singer that I knew pretty much most of it, that’s still performed, and could recall most of the lyrics, about 70 per cent – and the melodies, about 90 per cent – maybe 60 songs, some of which I endeavour to learn properly these days in order to perform them on the rare occasions, usually in workshop situations, when I get to sing at an audience. (If only I could find a piano player locally who knows the canon and doesn’t want paying!)

Which is why I’m constantly surprised still to be stumbling across songs I’ve never even heard before, that have been around for decades, and everyone else seems to know them and I don’t.

For instance, there’s a beautiful song by Raph Rainger, lyrics by Leo Robin, from an instantly forgettable film called Rose of the Rancho, starring John Boles and Gladys Swarthout (Who they? Ed.)

The New York Times critic wrote of this 1936 remake of the 1914 Cecil B de Mille silent original: “Gladys Swarthout’s voice can be heard, if you listen carefully, above the groans and bone-creakings of the plot”. The song has fared better. I ‘discovered’ If I Should Lose You only a couple of months ago when I heard a heartstopping instrumental version by Chet Baker on an album of duets with the Canadian pianist Paul Bley, and thought, I’ll bet there are lyrics to that….

My search for them turned up literally dozens of interpretations of the song on YouTube from artists as diverse as Nina Simone, Carmen McRae, Charlie Parker, Sadao Watanabe and even Archie Shepp.

It was an eye-opener. Yet after failing to find anything more than a chord chart on the indefatigable iRealPro app, nor in the vasty reaches of the internet thing, I dug deep into the festering piles of songbooks under the piano and there it was, in the second edition of the first volume of The Real Vocal Book, the green one (the cover’s actually turned blue with age), on page 161.

So now I know it.

I think one of the strangest ‘new’ musicians I’ve stumbled across like this in my ongoing online researches (that usually end with me calling in to the Amazon store and ordering the goddam CD, which is why I’ve had to give up drinking) is ‘Simone’ (Bettancourt de Oliviera), singer, basketball player and Rio club owner.

Simone: Brazilian legend.

I came across her (?) only yesterday while browsing through dozens of versions of another song I’d never heard before, that everyone else apparently is intimately familiar with. This, despite my years of listening to, collecting and singing Brazilian jazz from the 1960s and 70s: The Island (in its English translation – ‘Começar de Novo’ in the original) is seemingly an unbelievably well-known song by the popular singer-songwriter, Ivan Lins.

Simone is incredibly famous in Brazil. She’s made over 32 albums, worked with all the greats of Brazilian music, was described by Quincy Jones as one of the greatest singers in the world (I expect he says that to all the girls), and reportedly once attracted an audience of 150 thousand to a stadium concert. ‘Começar’ is listed as her greatest hit.

Yet as I approach my 68th birthday I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of her, or the song, before. And it’s been recorded by people like (actually there were never any other people like) Sarah Vaughan, Johnny Mathis, Shirley Horn, Patti Austin, Barbra Streisand – and in a smoochily erotic version, by Jane Monheit*. The English lyrics by Marilyn Bergman are almost pornographic, as the song is in fact the theme to a long-running, steamy TV soap-opera detailing the lives and loves of an oil-industry dynasty. (No, it’s not Dynasty. Keep it together.)

And here is Simone too, on YouTube, singing Começar de Novo alongside Lins at the piano. She has a habit, it seems, of kissing all her collaborators daintily on the cheek – look, there she’s doing it again to the great Milton Nascimento, possibly the most unlikely-looking singing star ever, the Brazilian equivalent of Ed Sheeran – the strange thing being, a former national team basketball player, Simone looks to be over six feet tall, she’s got a deeper voice than I have, and I’m a bass-baritone.

Not for nothing, therefore, does one suspect that this glamorous, sequinned Caster Semenya of the music world – middle-of-the-road, heavily orchestrated jazz, I suppose – with (if I may say so in this day and age) a pleasingly well-developed cleavage – well, as it says in the warning note at the top of her fulsome Wikipedia entry, This article has multiple issues.

It’s truly a great song, but the chords look horrendously difficult. I may not be singing it anytime soon.

*People often stop to ask me, what has happened to Jane Monheit? One of the most beautiful voices in jazz, ever; technically accomplished, now 40 Jane seems sadly to have been swallowed up by the plangently-orchestrated, slushy middle-of-the-road commercial end of the industry, guesting on US TV ‘specials’; perhaps understandably, since there’s no money in jazz – while her much commented-upon body dysmorphia problem has rather pushed her out of the limelight. Shame.

x

Enemies of the People

Mr Trump’s latest ‘poor little me’ assault on the enemies of the people, the bad, bad mans in the failing fake news media who hate America and say such nasty lies about him lying about stuff and supporting bad Nazis, some of whom are great people, is fine in my book.

I’m pissed off (again) with the BBC.

If Brexit means that British businesses are going to have to cut deals with the remaining 27 countries of the EU, either collectively or individually, it’s pretty bloody clear, isn’t it, that their exports and activities on the faraway Continent are going to have to come under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

The ECJ is the ultimate arbiter of actions brought inside the EU. Twenty-seven countries seem perfectly happy with that. The 28th isn’t.

That’s us. So we’re leaving.

So let’s say you’re a manufacturer in Nuneaton of – I don’t know, tins of beans. And you sell a tin of beans to a housewife in Latvia, and it’s full of botulism and her kids get sick.

Is some Empire Loyalist lunatic in the failing conspiracy known as Brexit, Peter Bone or John Redwood, some dismal throwback like Rees-Mogg going to stand up red-faced, waving his little Union flag, and shout Shame! Give us back our Sovereignty! when the case finally arrives at the ECJ, rather than the Supreme Court in London?

The best these useless cunts (Conservative and Unionist Neo-Thatcherites) can manage to save the day for their dumbfuck Brexit supporters is to propose that we set up an arbitration service, obviously not a court, somewhere in the middle of the Channel, providing lucrative work for indigent QCs who aren’t judges, no, really not, but who will arbitrate or, as it were, judge with, er, foreign counterparts in disputes involving British poisoned beans in Latvia, cases that have come up through the lower courts in, er, possibly Riga.

In other words, the exact counterpart to the ECJ, which at the moment has British judges on the panel and arbitrates in legal disputes. Only we shan’t be losing control of ‘our laws’, our superior ‘British laws’, that won’t apply in Latvia….

This is all so fucking infantile. Embarrassingly so. Toys out of the pram time. We have perfectly good arrangements already to arbitrate in appelate courts all the way up to the Supreme Court in the UK, just as they may do in Latvia, or in any of the rest of the EU, and only rarely is it necessary to appeal above everyone’s heads to Luxemburg, and the Supreme Court really doesn’t mind, because that’s how courts work and it’s more jobs for the boys and girls.

The only people who mind are the cunts, because they’ve promised the dumbfucks that Britain is going to be Great again, and that means total isolation from the Continent, 26 miles away, and its 450 million garlic-munching foreigners.

So I do rather object to the fatuous questioning by Mr Ed Stourton on The World at One today, in which he repeatedly pressed his ministerial guest to break down and confess that the official government position was now that we would still be ‘subservient’ to the ECJ’s decisions after Brexit,  thwarting the legitimate demands of the British People, was it?

It is as if Britain is, what? So fucking great, so important, so superior, so deserving, so – English, that we simply cannot believe in the necessity of economic and security co-operation with neighbouring countries in a globalizing world unless we make the rules. Christ, it’s so sickening, this barbed-wire British exceptionalism: ‘regaining control of our own laws’, our ‘borders’…. It’s a nonsense, and Brexit memes like: ‘none of the foreign students ever goes home’ have been shown by the Home Office finally releasing accurate figures to be gross lies.

Brexit is a complete fraud, a myth served up like a dish of kippers for the minor myriad of dumbfucks who thought it was all going to be so easy, that they only had to tick a box marked Leave, all the hated foreigners would do exactly that and Britain would immediately be Great again, after years of shameful ‘subservience’ to the inferior species across the water.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

And so completely fucking pointless.

 

Special edition: Weird Stuff. Sea recedes mysteriously etcetera. Congratulations on the weather report, BBC. Paranoia corner: Apoceclypse Now!Thar She Blows! Obituary: So farewell Daedalus

Sea recedes mysteriously etcetera

The scene at Montevideo when the sea receded. Possibly.

On the 13th of August, according to several flaky looking websites such as SOTT.com (Signs of the Times) and JewWorldOrder, the sea rapidly and mysteriously retreated from around Montevideo in Uruguay, up to Porto del Este in neighbouring Brazil, when low tide was not expected.

Fearing a tsunami, people ran for high ground; however, none came, and the waters returned of their own accord some hours later. No large earthquakes were reported in the region at the time.

The phenomenon was matched, according to MBB333, one of those internet weather-watchers, unofficial meteorologists with access to satellite imagery, by correspondingly large waves on the other side of the Atlantic, in Africa. (He may be confusing it with a storm surge that flooded the seafront at Durban in March.)

At the same time, too, other sites were reporting 40-foot waves slamming into the west coast of South America, again apparently for no reason – although there were eight active cyclones in the Pacific region last week, and a couple of M6 subsea earthquakes. No other report of these occurrences can be found in the normal media, but there has been a suggestion that the world may be expanding.

The sea retreating story was also covered by Disclose.TV, an entertaining conspiracies and new world order website. So, given the provenance, and the degree of retweeting going on, and the fact that it didn’t make the mainstream media, you’d say it’s probably not a verifiable tale. Fake nooze.

Yet the BogPo has a curious feeling that there’s a truth to it; it has some explanation, and visual evidence. The conspiracy websites, as well as making stuff up completely, often report real-world events but with their own weird spin on them. They’re not all entirely ‘fakin’ unbelievable if you can just get at the core facts.

MBB333 goes on to discuss something called The South American Roll, a theory that the entire continent is moving as a result of almost all the live volcanoes and seismic activity in South America occurring, as they do, on the west coast.

There has indeed recently been a flurry of activity, volcanoes popping off and a swarm of mid-range earthquakes all down the coasts of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. Indeed, it’s been observable right around the Pacific so-called ‘Ring of Fire’. Could that possibly create pressures that would cause the whole continental plate to rock, briefly lifting the seabed off the west coast? It’s a big place, South America. Heavy. And if the plate (known as a ‘craton’) tilted, you might notice the rivers on the east coast running slower, or even backward? Or could strong lunar pull just have created a supertide?

The Roll does in fact have its own web page, it turns out. South American Roll Watch posts to an incredibly weird site called Earth Changes and the Pole Shift, where strange people contribute cryptic comments in unusual forms of English to a forum on tectonic plate movement and the position of magnetic North.

Bona fide geologists describe tectonics as happening slower than your fingernails are growing, which may account for the general excitement level on the site, which looks not to have been touched since 2010, and ‘the impending pole shift’ – the belief that a periodic flipping of the poles every so many tens of thousands of years is due to create global mayhem any minute now.

However, analysis of the information provided by a mysterious couple, or maybe a group, known as the Zetas suggests that the South American Roll theory predicts a much more violent event. In a curious mixture of scientific-sounding analysis and apocalyptic visions it appears the roll will be more south to north rather than west to east, the continent breaking across the middle creating huge tsunamis in the Caribbean, wiping out whole islands; and inundating the whole of what is now Argentina north of Patagonia. At least, that’s what I think their somewhat crudely drawn maps are telling us.

A similar unusual tidal retreat of about 60 extra metres was observed in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula in 2011:

“The sea began to ebb the arrival of Tuesday afternoon, after the rain left a beautiful rainbow in the sky. Many people took the opportunity to walk along the beach and observe the phenomenon, and collected some shells and snails.”

It sounds rather lovely; nicer than the Zeta’s description of the continent buckling and folding in half across the broken back of the Andes:

“In addition to what will happen to the land mass, we have mentioned exploding volcanoes very near at hand, and water rushing completely over such lowlands as the Yucatan and Panama. How have we failed to relay what is coming? If total destruction does not occur during the 7 of 10*, it will during the hour of the pole shift if not before that time.”

Indeed, to look at the predicted disasters due to result from gravitational effects on the movement of the continental plates, we are supposed to be about to witness as much geological change in a few hours as the earth has not experienced in the last 60 million years. Better buckle up and hang on.

It seems low tides are also getting lower at Acapulco, in Mexico.

Another reason being ‘floated’ for the unexpected tidal outsurge is there’s a massive storm out in the Atlantic that’s created a low-pressure bulge in the ocean surface, drawing water towards it from the coast. Only none has been reported. The sea can be a fickle mistress, and the BogPo’s advice is to admire it from a nearby clifftop or hotel balcony if you want to live a long and happy life.

Lots of heads and horns: the 7 of 10. Or something. (lightofthegentiles.com/Google)

Currently, there are five major weather systems that are threatening to become hurricanes. These ‘tropical waves’ are pulsing in a chain across the equator from West Africa where they have brought devastating rains, epecially in Sierra Leone where a thousand people may have died in the huge landslip that engulfed a village near Freetown at the weekend. Hurricane Gert is a weak Force 1 that developed out in the Atlantic but is heading northeast away from land. Tropical Storm Harvey is strengthening into a hurricane as it approaches the Leeward Islands. A special watch is being kept on the Freetown system as it barrels out to sea.

So the storm-sucking theory is not improbable, although Montevideo is quite far south of the tropics. One other suggestion being touted around is, of course, that a crack has opened up under the ocean. Mysterious cracks have indeed been reported in Peru, in Mexico, at Yellowstone….

Familysurvivalheadlines.com reported the bare-beaches story with an attribution of origin to another site, Weseekthetruth.com. There, other headline stories concern the pyramids discovered in Bosnia, and a government Paranormal Activity warning out for North Carolina.

The BogPo wonders if they’re seeking the truth quite hardenough.com?

We should possibly remind ourselves gently that the total solar eclipse due to track its way across the USA on Monday is creating inspired millennarian chaos all over the conspiracy community; while I see the Russians have realized, they only need to drop a small nuke on Yellowstone and it’s all over for the seven-horned Trump administration.

Watch that space!

 

*The 7 of 10. I’ve looked it up so you don’t have to. It’s either a geological probability, the number referring to the timing of the impending shift of the poles, a system devised by the Zetas, or it’s the 7 heads and 10 horns of the Beast in Revelations 13. Prophecy Ministers’ Focus on Jerusalem website explains it thus:

 “As previously mentioned, most students of prophecy are agreed that this beast represents the kingdom of Greece after it was divided into four parts following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. This agrees with the prophecy in Daniel 8 which also shows the four fold division of the Greek Empire in the form of 4 Horns on a goat, and specifically identifies Greece (vv. 21-22). In the case of chapter 7’s 4-Headed leopard, then, the Heads are kingdoms.”

Got that? Can we move on? Great.

Postscriptum:

A rare M4.9 earthquake was reported by several agencies in Bahia province, northern Brazil, on the 13th August. No USGS record of the quake has been published. Is the continent tilting? They ned to know.

 

“More than 16 million people have now been affected by seasonal flooding across a swathe of South Asia, say aid officials. The floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India are thought to have killed about 500 people and are expected to worsen. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says it is becoming one of the worst regional humanitarian crises in years. There are growing concerns about food shortages and disease.” – BBC News, 18 August.

Congratulations on the weather report, BBC.

The BBC finally catches up with the real weather news, reporting that 500 people have died and 16 million are affected by flooding in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The floods in the region have been going on for the best part of three months – see many previous Posts. Thailand and Myanmar (Burma), the south islands of Japan and New Zealand have all experienced severe flooding, as have the southern and southeastern United States, Mexico and Central America, West Africa and northern eastern Europe – with violent flash floods in many other parts of the world, from Switzerland and Russia to Nepal.

They’ll almost certainly discover next week to their amazement that large swathes of central and SE China have also been underwater for about the same length of time. Everywhere else is under a 100F-plus heatwave, droughted, on fire and/or experiencing violent storms, often of ice or snow. A wildfire can be seen from space – burning in Greenland. A 2,000-mile plume of smoke from Siberian wildfires is polluting the Arctic, where the temperature is 8C warmer than the 1981 to 2001 average.

But of course, climate change will have nothing to do with it. That would be taking sides in the debate between the entire world’s scientific community and Lord Lawson of Blaby, a senile old change-denying ghoul dug up from the Thatcher era, with no scientific credentials*, and the BBC can’t be seen to be doing that.

Preposterous bunch of half-arsed tossers.

NASA: has July 2017 tied with July 2016 as the hottest months on record. July 2017 was 2.25°C (4.05°F) warmer than the annual global mean 1980-2015 (seasonal cycle). Only in August 2016 was it warmer (2.29°C), but then again, August 2017 looks set to be warmer than that yet. Arctic sea ice extent tied with 2012 low but total volume less; expected gone by mid-September.

Arctic News: scientists calculate, a rise of 10°C (18°F) could occur by the year 2026, based on temperature anomalies from 1750 for February and on progressive growth of warming elements. “Crucial will be the decline of snow & sea ice and associated feedbacks.”

Crimea: violent storm, 3ft flash flooding in city of Sudak. Water turns blood-red from the tail-lights of parked cars as alarms are set off.

Side note: Watching endless cameraphone uploads of this kind of flooding from all over the world in the past few weeks, especially in provincial cities, the BogPo has been struck by the symbolism of hundreds upon hundreds of cars being – visibly – flushed away down streets become raging rivers, tossed aside by gales and dumped impotently atop one another, as if to underscore the nature of the problem. Yet it barely seems to stop people driving.

Hong Kong: authorities raise approaching Typhoon Hato to highest threat level 10. Makes landfall at Macau, 3 dead, 2 missing.

Ukraine: large wildfires burning along the Russian border near Rostov.

Bangladesh: ‘35%’ of the country is underwater.

Nepal: floods. 80% crop losses, stores ruined, food prices double.

Northern India: millions of acres of Assam still underwater. Death toll in Bihar rises to 202, 46 in Uttar Pradesh, 60 in West Bengal.

Congo (DRC): ‘at least’ 200 dead in landslide that buries fishing village following torrential rains.

Sierra Leone: death toll in Freetown landslip tops 400. ‘Hundreds’ still missing.

Thailand: Sai river bursts its banks. Chiang Rai underwater.

USA: Lolo Peak, Montana – fires burning for over a month flare up again after lightning strikes. 1,600 evacuated. Washington state: wildfires force evacuations. Multiple tornadoes in Midwest, storms in Minnesota, Texas cause widespread damage, power outages. Rivers flooding around Dallas, Texas.

Canada: wildfires in British Columbia and Northwest Territories break all official records, approaching 1m acres affected.

Portugal: Public ‘calamity’ declared as wildfires continue to rage in the central regions; 2,000 still ‘cut off’ in the town of Macão. No respite in hot, windy conditions.

Austria, Southern Germany: more severe storms disrupt festivals, cause local flooding.

Nicaragua: winds strengthening, 80% chance of developing tropical storm/hurricane – heavy rainfall for Belize, Yucatan.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #56/ France 24/ Al Jazeera/ Euronews/ Arctic News

*Out of curiosity, the BogPo Googled: ‘Who is funding Lord Lawson?’ (he refuses to say) and came up with an investigation into his ‘Global Warming Policy Foundation’ by the Left Foot Forward website from June 2010 that shows Lawson is highly sensitive about that question, indeed merely to ask it is, he says, ‘actionable’. Especially as there appear allegedly to be multiple third-party connections to Exxon Mobil and a number of East European energy companies.

leftfootforward.org/2010/06/lawson-still-wont-come-clean-about-sceptic-foundations-funding/

What a cancerous old corpse.

Why does the BBC still insist on exhuming Lawson, dripping with soil and maggots, to ‘balance’ any story in which climate change is mentioned as a probable subject for discussion? They must surely realize it has gone way beyond that? Opposing an objective ‘expert’ truth against a manifest ‘non-expert’ lie is not balance, it is insanity.

Postscriptum:

For an interesting long read on the political debate over Climate Change policy, go to:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/07/climate-change-denial-scepticism-cynicism-politics

On the other hand, as you probably know, the BogPo is not of the opinion that there is any further debate to be had.

The merest suggestion that there is anything to be decided – or, increasingly, anything to be done – is to play into the hands of the Energy sector, their corrupted proxies in government, the yellow-bellied scum in the well-funded academic ‘denier’ community and the vile PR campaigners sowing rumour-mongered doubt to stave off what they knew decades ago should have been inevitable policy changes and restrictions on their shareholder greed.

The scientific principles behind warming have been known for over 100 years, the evidence is there for all to see, the Energy giants knew all this decades ago, they have admitted that they’ve been lying, there is no ‘debate’. The planet is not in fact ‘cooling’. Sea ice is not ‘expanding’. The sun is not ‘getting hotter’. Volcanoes are not ‘responsible for all the CO2’. Plants and plankton cannot ‘absorb all the CO2’. Wildfires are contributing as much to global warming as governments have been saving through their inadequate greener energy policies.

Climatologists are not weather forecasters, climate is not ‘the weather’. It is impossible to accurately forecast local outcomes from climate models: that is not what is required of them. You cannot use that to berate the scientific community: ‘Oh, but you said… nah ni nah’. It’s just childish. All the trendlines are converging on imminent catastrophe, irreversible tipping-points have already been reached or exceeded.

In combination with man-made environmental degradation and climate-induced crop failures food insecurity is already being seen, prices are rising and those who, it is claimed by the ‘New Optimists’, are being ‘lifted out of extreme poverty’ by the tens of thousands every day will soon find themselves back in it. Drastic action needs to be taken: Paris is not enough.

Get your facts straight and fucking WAKE UP.

x

Paranoia corner: Apoceclypse Now!

Well folks, it’s the 21st of August, Total Apoceclypse, and the paranoid Trumpfucks are out in force on YouTube. Principal among weird theories abounding this morning:

  • NASA (an offshoot of the Illuminati founded under the Obama regime) is using the eclipse to smuggle climate-changing alien bacteria into the stratosphere.
  • The eclipse was predicted in an episode of The Simpsons.
  • They’re not telling us everythin’, we need to evacuate Wyoming now.
  • The 33rd degree eclipse splits the nation in half, causing civil war. (btw, Jesus was 33 when he died, so this is a very special occasion…)
  • “Native Americans are advising to stay indoors. It is a time for reflection. The energy levels will be very high. Do not go to the water and observe this eclipse.”
  • “The oldest most ancient truths called Nuwaubu reveals the truth of the cycles and luminaries of the sky.”

‘zac deshazo’ writes: “This is spot on about rahu causing eclipses…ive been banging my head against the wall trying to explain this to anyone who will listen…THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS VIDEO!” (narrator informs us the sun is moving, it’s not the earth!)

I’m sorry, people, American is not a race, so I don’t think I’m being especially racist when I have to say, you’re all fucking nuts. Is this what you get with Obamacare? How did the rest of us ever come to believe the crazy idea that America leads the world when you haven’t evolved since the Stone Age, when dinosaurs ruled the earth?

(Yes, there are whited-out letter ‘x’s between all the different stories on my Posts. It doesn’t mean anything, okay? It’s just to stop the stories colliding with fucking Planet X Nibiru. Jesus, get a grip.)

x

Thar She Blows!

Half of America seems to imagine that some magical cosmic effect of the total solar eclipse tomorrow will cause the Yellowstone supervolcano to erupt with terrifying, probably world-ending consequences.

Signs and portents of natural wonders. (Photo: National Geographic, I think. Sorry.)

It’s been pretty lively lately, more than 60 straight days with up to 62 small earthquakes in a day and the three domes in the huge caldera all rising alarmingly as magma (estimated at 7 cubic kilometres) floods the chamber beneath at a depth of barely a mile.

The authorities, of course, especially the evil US Geological Survey, aren’t telling us the truth. They’re deliberately suppressing half the earthquake reports, the web cameras keep getting shut off, the info on gas releases is being doctored, and they’re still letting the public in and the bison roam to avoid scaring people. Just look at the colour of the steam, it’s obvious!

So you can forgive a certain increase in the panic level at a story attributed to our own, much loved Daily Mail, the rattiest garbage sink in the country, that NASA scientists are proposing to ‘cool the magma down’ by FRACKING in the caldera.

It might take quite a lot of water to cool 7 cubic kilometres of 1,000-degree hot magma, one suspects, while the instant any quantity of water is introduced, superheated steam is produced and the whole fucking thing is gonna blow, with an estimated death toll of 25 million.

It will certainly take the nation’s mind off the woes of the White House, but no-one we suspect has any faith in the ability of their inept and profoundly ignorant administration to handle a fart in a bubblebath.

Has anyone noticed, the volume of plots and alchemical potions ascribed to NASA since Trump and his friend Bannon seized power has increased exponentially? NASA is the new Empire of Evil, apparently.

x

Obituary: So farewell Daedalus

News comes that whacky science writer, the physical chemist David Jones, better known to science buffs as Daedalus, has died at the age of 79.

Bronze-age flyer: Daedalus casting off. (Google/Shelf3D.com)

His Daedalus column appeared weekly as the endpiece in New Scientist for many years, before transferring to The Guardian. Married unsuccessfully for only one year of his life, a poignant factoid, he also featured in front of, and behind, the cameras in a number of TV shows dedicated to quirky scientific ideas.

He was astonishingly prescient with many of his more way-out inventions, including chemical lasers that could shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles (15 years later forming the basis of Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars programme), and folding hexagonal carbon atoms into ‘football’-shaped molecules, an idea that three years later turned into the Nobel prizewinning (alas, not for him) ‘Buckyballs’, or Buckminsterfullerene.

He also seems to have accurately foreshadowed Brexit Britain, 29 years before the referendum. From The Guardian obituary:

“In 1987 he was the subject of a BBC QED programme, which realised one of his inventions: a bus on which each passenger was given a steering wheel, and which then proceeded in a “majority” direction.”

 

Footnote:

Readers may notice that I have ‘liked’ this piece myself. I have done so on behalf of ‘Unlimbited Tree Service’, who I was advised in an email from WordPress had Liked this piece, but whose Like has not appeared below as it should in theory have done.

Thank you.

The Pumpkin, Issue 26. “I know a lot about health care.” Pardon, Mr President? The most extraordinary thing about Donald Trump; So, farewell, Spicey.

 

Okay, yeah, my wife and daughter are now zombies, your Popeyness, I forget to top up their employer premiums. But we’ve always made room for Catholics. Wanna buy a tie? Made in Vietnam?

I know a lot about health care.” Pardon, Mr President?

Would you like to know all about the Republicans’ ‘Repeal and Replace’ Obamacare bill, that narrowly failed to achieve a sufficient majority in the Senate last week, opposed not so much because it seeks to deprive 32 million Americans of their existing health cover, but mainly because it didn’t cut enough from the wasteful public Medicaid and Medicare budget to give sufficient tax breaks to the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans, who have no shame about demanding more money from cancer victims and the unemployed?

(When are Mr Amazon, Mr Facebook, Mr Microsoft, Mr Apple, Mr Uber, Mr Space-X going to step up and use the blunt force of their billions to stop this crazy descent into hell for the majority of Americans, who buy their shit? They could buy out the fucking Koch brothers’ political PACS ten times over – along with the entire Senate.)

Who better to ask what the bill was about, than the prime mover and advocate of ‘Trumpcare’ himself, Donald J Trump, President of the United States of America?

With apologies for the image theft to Jeffreyhill.typepad.com/ Google Images/ Grant Wood ‘American Gothic’.

Here he is, interviewed verbatim in the New York Times, explaining in its entirety the detailed ins and outs of health insurance. (The Pumpkin warns you, it’s a complicated subject, but he has mastered the brief.) Let us remember that he was elected on a promise to get the bill passed on ‘Day One’ of his Presidency, because his plan was so great, so beautiful, the American public wouldn’t want to wait for it….

“As they get something, it gets tougher. Because politically you can’t give it away. So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70 you get a nice plan. Here’s something where you walk up and say, ‘I want my insurance.’ It’s a very tough deal, but it is something that we’re doing a good job of.

“These guys couldn’t believe it, how much I know about it. I know a lot about healthcare.”

Lovely, fragrant Ana Kasparian at TYT has raised the possibility that Trump in his rambling stream of madness doesn’t understand the difference between health insurance and life assurance, but I’m not so sure. Every time I read another one of his bizarre word salads I think I begin to discern some pattern in it, something he is struggling to get out. Or maybe I’m as confused as he is and we’re just running in parallel.

Michael Wolfe has a good piece in The Guardian today, explaining why Mr Trump will not be removed from office before at least the impending disaster for the Republicans of next year’s mid-term elections, if even then. Part of the reason could be, he wouldn’t find his way out.

Another might be that he is gearing up to fire the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller – which has involved hiring new lawyers, replacing his head of Communications, firing Sean Spicer, and throwing ‘disloyal’ Attorney General Jeff Sessions to the wolves with a Big Leak to the WashPo over the content of his meetings with Ambassador Kislyak.

This in itself might amount to intimidation, just the threat of firing the man who is looking into possible crimes committed by Trump or his staffers during and before the election campaign – another layer to the case for an obstruction indictment.

Rachel Maddow of MSNBC speculates that forcing Sessons’ resignation allows Trump to appoint a shill to the job, who will fire Mueller and lift the cloud of investigations into Trump’s family and their financial dealings, removing the threat that Jared and Ivanka could be jailed over their security disclosures, or lack of them. Kushner has hastily added another 77 not previously disclosed foreign financial transactions to the affidavit he signed in January, making more than 100 things he should legally have declared in order to obtain the top security clearance, but omitted to. That could get him five years.

The head of the Ethics department has quit, and been replaced by a water-cooler appointee – some jerk they found in the corridor who’ll do as he’s told. Conservatives in Congress are gearing up to try to switch the focus of treason allegations away from the Trump gang and onto Hillary and the Obamas. That’s already happening. The new tactic is to go back to out-and-out denying the Campaign crew ever heard of a place called Russia.

It’s about to get very ugly.

Clearly, despite the Russia thing (collusion in hacking the election), the other Russia thing (sanctions-busting, money-laundering), the third Russia thing (the Pipigate Dossier), maybe a fourth (decades of documented connections to the Russian mafia) – let’s forget treason for now; his dodgy property deals with their obvious opportunities for money laundering, his fake University scam, breaches of Classified national security matters, corrupt appointments, misuse in office of public funds, bad overseas loans affording opportunities for blackmail, the blatant ripping-up of the Foreign Emoluments clause, the apparent attempts to obstruct justice, the refusal to recuse himself from his businesses, his desperate clinging to his tax returns, his past disgusting behavior involving underage models…. there seems to be nothing whatever that the Golden Orb can do to incur impeachment – as he bragged to the dumbfucks at one of his election rallies, he could shoot somebody dead on 5th Avenue and they’d still vote for him.

Complete and total ignorance of his brief after six months in office is obviously not a sacking offence, as it would certainly have been in any one of the 21 jobs I’ve been sacked from, if I hadn’t been sacked for other reasons. Dereliction of duty – we’re losing count of the number of golfing vacations he’s taken, at a cost to the taxpayer of $50 million (much of which goes in profit to his golf resorts) and counting – still doesn’t cut it with the GOP, who seem willing to tolerate any abuse of office lest they pull down the shithouse around themselves; pleading that he’s new to the job and will learn. Trump? Learn? (so what are they doing to teach him?). He’s 71. He has dementia. He has a dubious past. He doesn’t want to go to jail. What else is to learn?

Vice-President Pence is of course authorized by the 25th Amendment to remove the President, at gunpoint if necessary, should he be considered mentally incompetent to fulfil his duties. But the snow-capped walking advert for Anusol, the strangely grinning Mike Pence is equally in it up to his righteous Christian ass and definitely does not want to undergo the same degree of scrutiny as he is witnessing with his Master.

Besides, The Pumpkin is more convinced by the day that, while he is everything they all say, an overgrown child with ADHD, a narcissist, a bully, all the rest of it, the conclusion has to be that Trump is not mad; just very, very naughty.

Attempts do seem to have been made by White House staffers to marginalize him, damage limitation, because he is a total embarrassment to America and the free world, his approval ratings at record lows, but nothing seems to be working. He just keeps slipping away from nurse and running off at the mouth, spewing out illiterate tweets, often incriminating himself, his family and his despairing legal team in the process. Even Donny Jr and the Little Nazi, Eric have been saying they wish it was all over. God knows what Melania thinks.

Well, they’ve been doing their best to incriminate him.

So that’s okay, because today he’s reported to have instructed that burgeoning crowd of bungling clowns and Christian charity bunco artists, his lawyers, to brief him on the legal ins and outs of issuing a blanket Presidential pardon to himself, his family and his immediate circle of deplorables before anything really incriminating comes out. He’s also ordered them to find any ‘dirt’ to close down the special prosecutor, Mr Mueller, and his team investigating Mr Trump’s private finances – something he told the NYT was crossing ‘a red line’ with his family, as far as he is concerned.

Now why would he want to do that, I wonder? What has he got to hide?

Of course, if he is planning to leave town in convoy, taking the Federal reserve with him, and take up residence in Moscow, he could always pay Manafort for some advice.

You have to admit, though, he’s a one-off.

We can hope. In the meantime, no State business is getting done; probably for the best, given the manifesto: basically, give all the money to the rich, they’re best at knowing what to do with it.

It’s incomprehensible to an outsider, how this dismal failure of a Presidency is being allowed to grind on, and on, and on making America daily smaller and more ridiculous in the world.

It’s very, very sad.

x

The most extraordinary thing about Donald Trump

This is so damned infuriating.

The piece I just wrote disappeared off my screen and only three letters were saved as a draft. There is some connection between the ctrl key and another letter I type, that wipes any unsaved text. I don’t know what it is, as I am usually busy typing.

So I’m going to park this link here now, just in case, before I hit Save Draft. You will need it later.

newrepublic.com/article/143586/trumps-russian-laundromat-trump-tower-luxury-high-rises-dirty-money-international-crime-syndicate

And now I’m taking Hunzi for one of his walks. If we don’t come back, after reading the link have the river dredged.

Wanna see my Mussolini?

The most extraordinary thing about Donald Trump is probably not his hair, or that his emotional development ceased at the age of eleven, or even that he is – I know, don’t – President of the United States of America.

No, the most extraordinary thing about Donald Trump is that he is still alive.

Donald Trump took a dive into the cesspit that was his father’s rack-renting property businesses maybe fifty years ago under the watchful eye of Fred’s mafia lawyer buddy, the brutal Roy Cohn, enjoying the patronage of one ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, king of the New York concrete supply business, a member of the Genovese familia, and has continued to glide effortlessly through that same shit-smelling space without ever once touching the sides.

Countless books and articles and TV documentaries by the best and most dogged investigative journalists in the world present a weight of circumstantial evidence alluding to Trump’s profound criminality over the decades that would bury Mount Everest in a pile of trouble.

Yet like Al Capone until he got into a bit of a muddle with his taxes, Mr Trump (who refuses to publish his tax returns) has never been convicted of anything untoward. No ‘smoking guns’, no paper trail, nothing has ever stuck. It probably helped that his sister was a District Court judge in New York, but that would only get you out of a charge of stealing candy from the grocery store.

It would hardly ‘trump’ a rumoured longstanding business relationship with someone of the stature of, say Simeon Mogilevitch, the Ukrainian-born billionaire believed by European and United States federal law enforcement agencies to be the “boss of bosses” and, according to his substantial Wikipedia encomium, the most dangerous head of most of the Russian Mafia syndicates in the world.

Yet, while Mr Mogilevitch, another ‘friend’ of Mr Putin, is alleged to reign over a global business empire incorporating such characteristic diversifications as people trafficking, prostitution, drugs and arms smuggling, art-theft, illicit gambling, individual removal services and money laundering on a small-nation scale, there has never been the slightest suggestion that Mr Trump has been personally involved in any of those activities, even though Mr Mogilevitch is also suspected by investigators of having bankrolled Mr Trump’s failed casino developments. Numerous supposed associates of his have been identified as tenants of Mr Trump’s office-cum-residential properties, whilst being convicted from time to time of racketeering or ‘pump-and-dump’ financial fraud. Yet Mr Trump was blithely unaware of their existence.

Such unproven assertions litter the worldwide web. It is necessary only to Google ‘Trump, Russia’ to be deluged with reports on the subject. There’s another one at the link I gave you above (it’s cut-and-paste, I’m afraid.) An industry has grown up around the desire to get to the bottom of Donald Trump, as it were. Yet there appears to be no bottom. He is unfathomable, doors infolding upon doors.

Mr Trump has frequently denied having connections with Russia, even as the scandal of his campaign officials’ and his oldest son’s potentially treasonous complicity with a foreign power continues to grow and swirl around him. Of course, we know that’s not true. His denials are merely to plant a marker with the dumbfucks, his support base, who will see any reports to the contrary as more ‘fake news’. He has numerous connections with Russia and they go far beyond his sleazy 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Even his sons admit he has received $100 million-dollar financial investments from Russian sources, and has frequent contacts with Russian businessmen. Nevertheless, he appears to be mortgaged to the hilt.

We know, too, that he owes large sums of money to Russian and other foreign banks, who never seem to press him for repayment. The story is examined again in today’s Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jul/19/deutsche-bank-donald-trump-russia-investigation-subpoenas

While the list of identified people who attended the fateful “Clinton emails” meeting with lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016 continues to grow, now standing at eight (making it more successful than this summer’s failed blockbuster movie, ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’) with the addition of one more Russian, making four. Daily, the denials turn to grudging admissions and more figures are identified*, while it is known that He was “in the building”, as they say; it is, yes, rumoured even that Trump himself may have been the ninth person at the meeting, as he appears to have acted on certain details immediately afterwards – but so far, his is the one name that remains unconfirmed.

And may forever be so. For, The Pumpkin has concluded, Mr Trump’s existential secret, the one thing he absolutely cannot allow to get out; the reason for his desperate lies, double-denials and obfuscations, his deliberate smokescreens and diversionary tactics, his insane-seeming tweets, directives to his staff to, if necessary, perjure themselves on his behalf; his crude demands for ‘omerta’ – loyal silence, his Roy Cohn-style rottweiler legal attacks on anyone who gets near him, on the press and the media in general; his furtive leaks, firings of Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, Security Adviser General Flynn, FBI Director Comey, all of whom got too close to the bottom; his attempts to smear the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller, all point to one startling possibility, in our view:

Mr Trump is a protected witness.

And if that were true, it really would be the most extraordinary thing about Donald J Trump.

*But what if there was no sense to the 9 June meeting? What if a motley crue of vaguely dodgy Russians was deliberately put together to create a kind of political honeytrap that would suck in some dimwits from the campaign, leaving everyone guessing as, one by one, the names were leaked to the media, what on earth the Russians were trying to get from them, and to what degree were they incriminated in a plot to fix the election?

What if there was no connection after all, as poor wee Donald has been protesting, none of it made sense? because it was never meant to – it was just another ‘kompromat’ trap to widen the Kremlin’s net and ratchet up the level of chaos in the USA?

 

Greed on steroids

Possibly Trump’s most assiduous pursuer, for more than 20 years Pulitzer prizewinning financial journalist David Cay Johnson has been following the Golden Orb’s untarnished progress in the belief that he may be a tax-evading financial fraudster.

Asked on the Democracy Now web channel about Trump’s healthcare proposals, he relates the tale of how, when Trump’s father Fred died and the money was divided among the five children, Donald Trump withdrew funding from his seriously ill young nephew’s longterm treatment program because it reduced his own share of the estate.

Greed on steroids, is how Johnson describes the President.

I am starting to think a chemical execution arranged by Mr Scott Pruitt, the incompetent butcher of Arkansas, would be too good for this sick, solipsistic, money-breathing sonofabitch.

Torture, of which he says he approves, should be applied by the bucketload. Preferably for as long as he lives.

 

So, Farewell Spicey

We all hate bullies, right?

But we also despise the people they bully. Also right? Because bullies have an unerring instinct for the right victims.

Siddown, New York Times. Recognise the correspondent from Mad Magazine. Yes, your question?

There was something about Sean Spicer, President Trump’s hapless press spoke, that reminded me of boys at my school who were mocked for their inability to play in goal for the second X1. They would pass the stings on to the smaller boys, bullying them but always surreptitiously. You knew that if they found you swigging from a vodka bottle in the bootroom, it’d be them who would go straight to the housemaster. They would develop strange sexual proclivities, stealing your Wellington boots and masturbating into them, or paying their study mates to jerk them off while hanging by a pajama cord from the hook on the back of the door. Not everyone survived that.

Like Spicey, they were always stocky and sandy-haired, with severe short back and sides haircuts, enjoyed cross-country running, military stuff and had a faintly unpleasant odour. You could never imagine them having much success with girls.

Mr Spicer has been replaced already, making somewhat notional his ‘unhappiness’ with the promotion in Trump’s typically delusional CEO fashion, of the first guy standing by the watercooler as the next Communications Director. Enter yet another Wall Street suit, Mr Antonio Scaramucci, ‘The Mooch’, currently senior vice-president of the Export-Import Bank, a “US government agency” not, one imagines, a million miles from the CIA,  which “guarantees loans for foreign buyers of American exports”. (No opportunities for laundering embezzled Russian money there, then.)

“I love the president and it’s an honour to be here,” Mr Scaramucci announced modestly, having found the microphone on-switch, adding nervously: “He is genuinely a wonderful human being.” His first three lies successfully out of the way, toying with a crucifix and a bunch of garlic, he went on: “The president has really good karma.” Then presumably he went home and jerked off in the toilet to a Taylor Swift album, while his wife was on the phone to the party planner.

Mr Scaramucci, “who has no previous experience in communications roles”, paid tribute to Mr Spicer as a “true American patriot” and “incredibly gracious”. “I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money,” he said. (That being all that matters in Trump’s America. So great. Meanwhile, Spicey is swinging from a tree in the woods.)

“Mr Scaramucci also apologised and said he had been “unexperienced” (sic) as he explained his previous criticism of the president. In an August 2015 interview with Fox Business, he dismissed Mr Trump as a “hack” and “an inherited money dude” with “a big mouth”. (BBC News)

If he can explain that away, he’s up to the job.

Despite sounding like an illiterate Bond villain, The Mooch is clearly a tragic shill for the sickest, most demented, bullying fantasist ever to occupy the Oval Office of the White House.

Judging by Trump’s overnight tweetstorm of paranoid bile against James Comey, for daring to ‘leak’ to the failing New York Times (to whom he gave an incoherent wordstream of an interview only three nights ago) that Jeff Sessions, the loyal and devoted Attorney General he wishes he hadn’t appointed to head the Russia investigation, did in fact discuss the election with Russian Ambassador Kislyak, having sworn on oath that he never, he is clearly going to have a horrible time for the money.

Worse, he’s the boss of the sweaty-lipped current White House press spokesbitch, Sarah ‘Look at me, I’m a Christian’ Huckabee Sanders, which makes him the wop filling in a bully sandwich.

But that’s karma for you.

What goes around, comes around.

 

Congress attack on climate science: The Pumpkin – Issue 24: More Damned Lies, plus world weather report.

‘The Republicans on the House Science Committee held a three-hour hearing on the merits of climate change science, a cavalcade of falsehoods so relentless and seemingly irrational that one might well need psychiatric counselling after having watched it” – The Independent, 30 March, 2017

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” (Benjamin Disraeli)

Here’s an insight from the proper scientific community into the problem we have with energy industry shills, rogue scientists, corrupt politicians and corporate-funded populist media creating amplifying feedbacks by cross-referencing one anothers’ ignorance and refusals (for whatever reason) to attempt any semblance of objectivity concerning the very real threat of global warming resulting from humans overexploiting fossil fuel reserves, clearing forest and breeding huge numbers of animals for food.

From: Greatwhitecon.info website – a scientific blog monitoring ice cover in the Arctic:

“We have now broken the all-time global temperature record for three consecutive years and a number of published articles have convincingly demonstrated that global warming has continued unabated despite when one properly accounts for the vagaries of natural short-term climate fluctuations. A prominent such study was published by Tom Karl and colleagues in 2015 in the leading journal Science. The article was widely viewed as the final nail in the “globe has stopped warming” talking point’s coffin.

“Last month, opinion writer David Rose of the British tabloid the Daily Mail — known for his serial misrepresentations of climate change and his serial attacks on climate scientists, published a commentary online attacking Tom Karl, accusing him of having “manipulated global warming data” in the 2015 Karl et al article. This fake news story was built entirely on an interview with a single disgruntled former NOAA employee, John Bates, who had been demoted from a supervisory position at NOAA for his inability to work well with others.

“Bates’ allegations were also published on the blog of climate science denier Judith Curry (I use the term carefully—reserving it for those who deny the most basic findings of the scientific community, which includes the fact that human activity is substantially or entirely responsible for the large-scale warming we have seen over the past century — something Judith Curry disputes). That blog post and the Daily Mail story have now been thoroughly debunked by the actual scientific community. The Daily Mail claim that data in the Karl et al. Science article had been manipulated was not supported by Bates. When the scientific community pushed back on the untenable “data manipulation” claim, noting that other groups of scientists had independently confirmed Karl et al’s findings, Bates clarified that the real problem was that data had not been properly archived and that the paper was rushed to publication. These claims too quickly fell apart.

“Though Bates claimed that the data from the Karl et al study was “not in machine-readable form”, independent scientist Zeke Hausfather, lead author of a study that accessed the data and confirmed its validity, wrote in a commentary “…for the life of me I can’t figure out what that means. My computer can read it fine, and it’s the same format that other groups use to present their data.” As for the claim that the paper was rushed to publication, Editor-in-chief of Science Jeremy Berg says, “With regard to the ‘rush’ to publish, as of 2013, the median time from submission to online publication by Science was 109 days, or less than four months. The article by Karl et al. underwent handling and review for almost six months. Any suggestion that the review of this paper was ‘rushed’ is baseless and without merit. Science stands behind its handling of this paper, which underwent particularly rigorous peer review.”

“Shortly after the Daily Mail article went live, a video attacking Karl (and NOAA and even NASA for good measure) was posted by the Wall Street Journal. Within hours, the Daily Mail story spread like a virus through the right-wing blogosphere, appearing on numerous right-wing websites and conservative news sites. It didn’t take long for the entire Murdoch media empire in the U.S, U.K. and elsewhere to join in, with the execrable Fox News for example alleging Tom Karl had “cooked” climate data and, with no sense of irony, for political reasons.

“Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of this committee has a history of launching attacks on climate science and climate scientists. He quickly posted a press release praising the Daily Mail article, placing it on the science committee website, and falsely alleging that government scientists had “falsified data”. Smith, it turns out, had been planning a congressional hearing timed to happen just days after this latest dustup, intended to call into question the basis for the EPA regulating carbon emissions. His accusations against Karl and NOAA of tampering with climate data was used in that hearing to claim that the entire case for concern over climate change was now undermined.”

http://greatwhitecon.info/2017/03/the-house-science-climate-model-show-trial/

This is a kind of warfare between objective truth-seekers and people who simply will not listen. Unfortunately the deaf ones often seem to have a more obvious reason to continue denying what anyone can see is happening, and what even to a non-scientist logic must explain.

Money.

x

More damned lies

On Friday I found myself wrestling with the BBC Complaints system, which is purpose-designed to funnel complainants into irrelevant streams (divide and rule?) and dump everything you’ve written the first time before ultimately sending you an evasive and anodyne response, to which there is no appeal.

While we await that, here is what The Pumpkin wrote:

Full Complaint: You invited on the Today programme this morning Mr Myron Ebell, a known climate-change denier and PR lobbyist for any number of energy corporations, but failed to identify him as such, or to make any attempt to balance the noxious views he espouses, beyond explaining that he is an advisor to the Trump cabinet, giving him undue credibility as a spokesman.

Mr Ebell has a notorious history of spreading false propaganda from behind a succession of well-funded false-front policy institutes, to undermine the scientific consensus on a range of environmental issues. He is widely known to have been in the pay of Exxon-Mobil, Murray Energy, Dow Chemical and many others with vested interests in spreading false information. Mr Ebell has no qualifications whatever as a climate scientist or indeed a scientist of any kind.

He was, however, previously a guest on the Today programme in 2005, when he proceeded to level a series of scurrilous accusations and insults against the UK’s chief scientist, Prof King, resulting in a Parliamentary question. Your production team appears to have been entirely unaware of this history. No attempt was made to balance his offensive views, a black mark against new editor, Ms Sands.

In my opinion (as a former news editor), your entire coverage of this disastrous Trump administration and its ‘advisors’ from the Washington lobby swamp has been permanently on the back foot compared with his own domestic media’s, especially the excruciatingly bland reporting of your overly diplomatic correspondent, Mr Sopel.

The Today programme’s editorial team indeed has been consistently supine: deferential, incurious and seemingly uninformed about the goings-on in the White House. Added to their inability seemingly to find anyone to speak out passionately in favour of the European Union before it was too late, I have to say I am finding it all rather sad and depressing.

Wake up.

So, lo and behold, come this morning and the BBC news has as its second lead, the story that broke in the New York Times on Monday about Donny Jr’s meeting with Kremlin lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya acting as go-between at the Trump Tower in New York on 9 June last year – following which, further reports are detailing, later that same day Trump tweeted a sour-grapes retort to a mocking comment by Hillary Clinton, mentioning for the first time ever the ’33 thousand’ deleted Hillary Clinton emails he would later tell a rally he hoped the Russians would find.

Did he get that number from his son, via the Kremlin?

The Washington Post reported Tuesday:

“The session was set up at the request of Emin Agalarov, a Russian pop star whose Kremlin-connected family has done business with Trump in the past, according to the person who arranged the meeting.

“Rob Goldstone, a music publicist who represents Agalarov, confirmed Monday that he requested the Trump Tower meeting at Agalarov’s request. Emin Agalarov and his father, Aras Agalarov, a wealthy Moscow real estate developer, helped sponsor the Miss Universe pageant, then owned by Trump, in Russia in 2013.

“After the pageant, the Agalarovs signed a preliminary deal with Trump to build a tower bearing his name in Moscow, though the deal has been on hold since Trump started his campaign for president.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/kremlin-denies-knowing-of-donald-trump-jr-meeting-with-russian-lawyer-during-2016-campaign/2017/07/10/c2bfee34-6566-11e7-a1d7-9a32c91c6f40_story.html?utm_term=.78785cc380c4

From there it gets complicated. Suffice to say, if the original email from LA-dwelling ‘music promoter’ and former British sleazeball journalist and big Russia fan, Rob Goldstone, that brought him, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort scurrying to that meeting can be found, telling Trump Jr that the Kremlin wanted to help his father get elected, it will, say Washington lawyers, be the ‘smoking gun’ that proves collusion by the Trump campaign with a Kremlin-inspired effort to derail Clinton and put Trump in the White House.

Of course, Mr Trump’s lawyers are saying the first the President knew about the meeting was last week, although the story hadn’t broken then, and Donny Jr has now hired his own lawyer to try to settle once and for all on a convincing explanation, the affair following the now standard pattern of denial followed by obfuscation in several versions followed by admission and post-dated registrations as required by law.

Apart from the odd tweet, some other things happened after that 9 June meeting, which Donny Jr says he didn’t remember, oh, yes, it wasn’t about anything, I thought I would get information that would help the campaign, it was all very vague, we discussed Russian orphans…. (The Russian orphans thing concerns a piece of Obama legislation called the Magnitsky Law, halting US adoption of Russian orphans in reprisal for the murder in gaol of anti-corruption lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. Putin wants it repealed.)

First, eleven days after the meeting Manafort was formalized as the campaign committee chairman. He was later dropped, however, when the extent of his financial relations with ousted Ukrainian kleptocrat and Putin-crony, President Viktor Yanukovitch became known via the leak of the Panama Papers, exposing probable money laundering.

Then, that same week, according to the New York Times, on his own admission Peter Smith, a freelance operative, put together a team of computer specialists (including a Russian speaker) answering, he says, to General Mike Flynn, to try to find the missing Clinton emails.

Just the first part of this story appeared on the BBC news, but I thought it was a good start, followed by an interview with Melinda Gates in which she criticized Trump for attempting to shut down family planning clinics and, by this evening when the PM programme was reporting on his latest attempt to cut funding to international HIV/AIDS programs, it seemed they had properly taken my advice to heart and were finally getting off their arses before he gets impeached and it’s too late to start detailing the horrors of this bogus presidency.

x

Faint glimmers of hope from nowhereseville

It’s not all awful. People are fighting back, often with the surprising assistance of the courts and political leaders.

While the G20 is still wrangling the cretin Trump over his contemptuous and contemptible abandonment of the Paris Accord, long after delegates were supposed to have run the gauntlet of a hundred thousand protestors defying police water cannon in Hamburg to fly back to their offices, Mother Jones lists a small but heartening selection of positive news items (8 July).

The main one of which is a Reuter’s story that “state prosecutors in Maryland, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington, DC, filed a lawsuit on Thursday, challenging Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s decision” to reverse an Obama administration ruling banning the use of Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide known to affect brain development in unborn children.

Why any alleged human being would want to encourage birth deformities in children, I have no idea. Perhaps it is because they are scumsucking psychopaths dressed as politicians corrupted beyond understanding.

Mr Pruitt’s famous hoard of emails from his days as Attorney-General of Arkansas, a State closer to the Stone Age than most, reveal that he had several meetings with the makers of the unborn child-poison, Dow Chemical, prior to his announcement. And Trump’s key environmental ‘advisor’ is, of course, the loathsome bottom-feeder, paid professional liar Myron Ebell, who has directed a frenzied assault from the White House on Obama-era environmental protections and lists Dow Chemical among clients of his PR consultancy, the Dr Josef Mengele Memorial Trust.

Investors, however, are pushing back. Dick Russell’s 2017 book Horsemen of the Apocalypse describes a growing revolt against the energy corps by virtually the entire current generation of the ‘trillionaire’ Rockefeller family acting as a concert party, and other large-scale investment funds that have ‘got’ the point, that their future too needs to be a sustainable one. According to Mother Jones, “In 2011, there were 12 shareholder resolutions filed with food and beverage companies when it comes to climate risk. This year there are 131.”

(It is not a sufficiently well-known factoid, that five major US corporations control 80% of the world’s food production and distribution.)

As powerful as these money-breathing, somnambulant dog-turds think they are, they are not going to win. The tragedy is, a lot of people will die unnecessarily in the meantime. The list of good news stories is still massively outweighed by the current tally of extreme heat and flooding events on every continent, as The Pumpkin and the BogPo have jointly been tracking (see elsewhere); and the effect on global food production is already evident.

http://www.motherjones.com/food/2017/07/youll-be-shocked-to-learn-we-have-good-news-about-food/

 

Big Brother is Locating You

There is apparently an Android ‘app’ alliteratively known as SnapMap. I feel the originators missed the opportunity simply to name it Smapp, in line with the modern fashion for crushing words together to make nausea-inducing neologisms, but let’s move on.

It seems that if you are a subscriber to this useful location-finding service, a derivative of the photo-file-sharing site SnapChat, unless you reset the privacy settings, other users can identify and even view your precise location to within one metre anywhere on a virtual global map.

Stay clear of the bathroom.

This omnipresent eye seems helpful for muggers, vengeful ex-wives, pizza delivery boys and pedophiles, or for when you’ve told the boss you’re in bed with ‘flu and you’re really on the beach, or possibly to the emergency services if you’re having a heart-attack somewhere that doesn’t have a postcode, like in the countryside, and the controller is refusing to send help until you tell them what it is.

But SnapMap seems just the latest in a long list of privacy violations of the kind you’re expected to put up with and to be ruthlessly monetized by a service provider in exchange for the convenience of carrying the equivalent of the Library at Alexandria, the Amtrak timetable, Jay-Z’s Greatest Hits, the schedule of lunar eclipses, the Yellow Pages and the British Museum around in your vest pocket.

The BBC iPlayer recently forced users to betray our whereabouts. Now I get only BBC Wales programmes, which is intellectually somewhat limiting. Worse, they’ve got a section where they guess what you’d like to watch next. It seems to consist entirely of the same episodes of Dr Who and Hinterland (a gloomy Welsh detective show with two-dimensional characters. Ed.) they’ve noticed I watched yesterday.

I feel technology is zeroing in on me, but there are ways to protect yourself.

I keep my phone off the hook, in a metaphysical way, by pressing the Power Off button, although in my pocket it often switches itself on again without me noticing, revealing to anyone interested that I’m in the wine section of Morrison’s again. I never make phone calls, only sending cryptic texts at predetermined times once a fortnight from secret locations around town. I hit the Off button anytime a call comes in, as it’s rarely anyone I need to talk to.

Even so, the battery runs down every day, so I’m assuming the thing is in constant communication with someone. It’s like the Eye of Horus, or the feeling that God is up there counting the hairs falling from your head. Some people find that comforting, I know.

Of course, at my age I’ve no idea what SnapChat is, although I could have guessed from the punning name. It doesn’t sound compulsory, though.

Not yet.

 x
“I have been wondering, exactly, when is the denouement of the various investigations?”
It’s not a perfect world.
“Raisehavoc” is a Guardian Pick commenter today, Sunday, and she has the following contribution I’d like, without apology, to pilfer for your enjoyment, just as she pilfered it for ours:

Zoe Leonard puts it succinctly in her poem way back in 1992. Timely …

“I want a dyke for president.

“I want a person with AIDS for president and I want a fag for vice president and I want someone with no health insurance and I want someone who grew up in a place where the earth is so saturated with toxic waste that they didn’t have a choice about getting leukemia.

“I want a president that had an abortion at sixteen and I want a candidate who isn’t the lesser of two evils and I want a president who lost their last lover to AIDS, who still sees that in their eyes every time they lay down to rest, who held their lover in their arms and knew they were dying.

“I want a president with no air-conditioning, a president who has stood in line at the clinic, at the DMV, at the welfare office, and has been unemployed and laid off and sexually harassed and gaybashed and deported.

“I want someone who has spent the night in the tombs and had a cross burned on their lawn and survived rape.

“I want someone who has been in love and been hurt, who respects sex, who has made mistakes and learned from them.

“I want a Black woman for president.

“I want someone with bad teeth and an attitude, someone who has eaten that nasty hospital food, someone who crossdresses and has done drugs and been in therapy.

“I want someone who has committed civil disobedience. And I want to know why this isn’t possible.

“I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown. Always a john and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker. Always a liar, always a thief, and never caught.”

So, Ms Leonard got her first want, and her last.

The Pumpkin has commented before that Mr Trump looks and sounds and often behaves like an elderly bull-dyke in male drag; his predatory prowling around Hillary Clinton at the debates was a dead giveaway. She oughtn’t perhaps to have worn that suit.

Liar, thief, never caught?

Spot-on, Zoe.

I have been wondering, exactly, when should we expect the denouement of the various investigations – the FBI, the Special Prosecutor, the Senate – into Trump and his gang’s precise associations with Russian and Ukrainian financial, technological and clandestine political interests?

Is there an endpoint, will armed G-Men fight a standoff with the White House security team at some stage, before storming the Oval Office?

Will Trump be forced to do the ‘perp-walk’, led away in full public gaze wearing leg irons?

It seems to be taking ages to prove conclusions we all reached months ago.

There is a protocol, I suppose – a sitting President is unlikely to be charged even with treason until he has been impeached, and at the moment it appears there are no Republicans scandalized and appalled enough at his outrageous behavior and willing to risk deselection to stand up and impeach the fucker.

They know they hate and despise him and themselves for adopting him as their candidate, but they just won’t, the big wusses.

But will anyone be brave enough at least to tell us that the investigations are complete and the President is a big crook?

I somehow doubt that too. It’s not a perfect world.

x

Weather News

  • 138 major wildfires burning in British Columbia, Canada.
  • Palm Springs, California: 122 Deg, F. (50 C.) Phoenix AZ still 111 F. Wildfires in Santa Barbara, Arizona, Utah. Wildfires in Colorado. 90 mph winds, severe storms bring flooding to the east of the USA, Massachusetts – Cape Cod – into New York.
  • 22 dead in floods in Japan’s Kyushu island after Typhoon Nanmadol brings 3 ft of rain in 9 hours. 83 dead since mid-June in Hunan province, central China. 12 million affected, 1.5 million evacuated. Flooding and and landslides hit North Vietnam.
  • 26 million facing severe food shortages in East Africa after two-year drought. Some 15 million are displaced by flooding and 44 dead in Assam, Manipur, India and Pakistan (8 July).
  • Kuwait: 96 deg. F. Oh, wait, that was at two a.m yesterday…. 121 F. now… Watch as a truck sinks through tarmac up to its axles.
  • Madrid, Spain: parts of the city underwater after torrential rain, freak hailstorms. Metro system closed. Greece basks in 42 deg. C. heat. 28 major wildfires reported, two on Crete.
  • Mexico: historic centre of Veracruz under three feet of water.