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

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

Slime is the new Truth.

Does anybody tell the truth about anything anymore?

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

Slime is the new Truth.

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

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

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

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

The new Truth? (Image: planetphotoshop.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only slime.

x

The NHS: a post code lottery?

Spokespeople are good at slime, aren’t they?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Yes, Icahn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

GW: Anyone for 10°-ish?

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

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

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

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

In other news:

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

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

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

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

Colombia: floods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Early to bed…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is how it tends to look, at midnight.

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

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

Indeed, I’m amazed I wake up at all.)

Advertisements

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

The dictionary of missing words

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

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

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

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

Those.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We shall see.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like, sight.

It would come in handy.

 

The last refuge

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

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

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

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

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

Propaganda.

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

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

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

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

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

Get him out. NOW.

 

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

Stormy nights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

to be continued…

 

Is Russia really the source of all our ills?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Postscriptum

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

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

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

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

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

 

Equal pay should include Air Miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is also non-religious Islamic art.

Just so you know.

 

GW: Ooh, granny, it’s a wild world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uruguay: Extensive flooding around the capital, Montevideo.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing adds up!

 

Chapter 1: Wiltshire Circus

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was in the timing?

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

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

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

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

But could that in turn be covering for something else?

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

 

Chapter 2: another toxic German car?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chapter 3: Alarm call

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing makes sense.

 

Chapter 4: Medical mystery tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chapter 5: Half-life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And why?

 

Chapter 6: Assembly line

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well,

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

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

 

Chapter 7: Three-ring Circus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Chapter 8: Send in more clowns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

x

The thick plottens…

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

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

What in God’s holy name is going on?

x

When not in Rome

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

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

They are keeping an open mind, apparently.

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

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

Good luck with that.

 

 

Pots, kettles (but no blacks)

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

“Detestable lahs you are tellin’.”

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

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

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

He gets more like Nixon by the hour.

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

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

I couldn’t, possibly.

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

 

Bidness groups warmly welcome transition deal

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

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

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

Davis and Barnier announce breakthrough agreement on Brexit transition.

 

x

GW: just drifting on by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No jokes about flatpack coffins now, guys…

 

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

THE SCREAM

Watch this.

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

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

 

Introduction

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

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

No fool like a middle-aged fool.

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

This (with minor edits) is what we wrote:

The United Kingdom Instability Party

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

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

It’s called ‘collateral lying’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not really. That wouldn’t be politics.

x

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

(some of these reports date from the previous week)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paris after the fall… (NBC)

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

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

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

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

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

x

Signs and portents

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

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

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

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

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

 

Massive climate-change cretin dies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WARNING: Capitalists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capitalists. Dontcha gotta love ’em?

 

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

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

List Management for Dummies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pay up, Trump. Then lock him up.

 

 

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

Songs of Praise: #1 The BBC, Amen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Equal airtime for fundamentalist death-cult worshippers?

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

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

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

It’s infantilism gone mad.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oops, I lied again. My Bad!”

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

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

“Mr President…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heil Trump. Hail Caesar.

x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Granny Weatherwax: Not heatwaving, but drowning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indonesia: Jayapura city under three feet of water.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great Gerald Ratner moments #27…

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

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

 

One law for the movers and shakers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The weather chaos continues around the world…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

They think it’s all over…

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

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

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

 

Who is Andrew Wheeler?

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

Bears Ears national monument lands, ripe for the taking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So who made up the story?

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

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

As long as they bring their money.

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

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

Dreamtime…

“Dear Donald,

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fuck you.

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

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

 

The New Minister and the Daily Mail

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just sayin’.

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

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

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

x

Privilege

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So far, so unpromising. Until, somehow….

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

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

You say it, I won’t.

 

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

Insanity…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Peace on Earth… from an unlikely quarter

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

Thank God, at last!

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

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

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

‘Twas ever thus.

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

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

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

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

Alleluja, someone has finally seen the light.

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

Just askin’.

 

Fascism corner:

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

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

Impeach them both, now.

x

GW: chestnuts nipping at your nose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brazil: Rio Casca underwater (Dec 4).

Panama: Panama City underwater (Dec 2).

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

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

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

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