A very uncivil war… The Diversion bell… Uphill, down Dale… Down with the count… GW: it’s all going swimmingly. Plus: Essay, The march of the anti-Vaxxers: an open letter to a Representative from Maine.

 

 

QotW

“The drab truth of tyranny is a life spent in waiting. But the perennial romance of tyranny comes from its promising its subjects a life more interesting than any they can contrive for themselves.”

– John Gray.

 

Boris Johnson addressing parliament

“By the sacred finger of IDS, I flick my superior bogeys at you, women of humbug.”

A very uncivil war

“Even after you cut off the head, the chicken still runs around the yard.”

Trump mini-me, Johnson raced back from the UN on Tuesday (24 Sept.) to confront Parliament, recalled by the Speaker after the Supreme Court ruling that the unelected Prime Minister with a magnificent Commons majority of minus 44 MPs had lied to the Queen to get her to shut down Parliament for five weeks while he pretended to negotiate a new exit deal with the EU; although their deadline for him to present new terms, including a replacement for the Irish border “backstop”, had expired days earlier with no positive proposals from Whitehall.

It was some confrontation, and it’s still ongoing.

Against a background of scandal – the house is investigating £120,000 in public-money grants and foreign official trips he appears to have given to a busty blonde American ex-model turned smalltime internet entrepreneur, Ms Jennifer Arcuri, whose London flat he was seen leaving a number of times while he was Mayor – Johnson caused a furore when he said the Supreme Court was “wrong” on the points of law, seeming to back rightwing newspaper (and Farageist) slurs of “treason” and anti-Brexit bias against the 11 senior law lords and ladies on the bench. A familiar story.

The BogPo should have thought the judges would be well within their powers to summon Johnson to court to explain his disgraceful remarks, and possibly put him in gaol for a couple of weeks to expiate his contempt.

He then drew gasps from the assembled MPs when he appeared to traduce the late, passionately pro-Remain Labour MP, Jo Cox, who was shot and hacked to death by a white nationalist in 2016, saying the best way to honor her memory was to leave the EU.

He told women Labour MPs they were talking “humbug” when they said they were receiving regular rape and death threats as a result of his and other Brexiteers’ violent rhetoric, a verbal assault which drew cheers from the wife-beating Brexit faction on the benches behind.

Not long afterwards a 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of throwing a brick at the window of the constituency office of Labour MP, Jess Phillips.

Johnson described opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn as a “coward” and a “chicken” (normally more than enough to get an MP barred from the chamber) and despite objections, continually called a vote he lost by a wide margin two weeks ago on a bill making it illegal to leave the EU without a deal, the “surrender” bill, setting the goal of a no-deal Brexit in terms of a war against the 27 remaining member countries of the EU.

(He frequently makes allusions to how Britain “stood alone” and eventually “won” the Second World War, “saving Europe” – whose people should be more grateful – knowing perfectly well that that is a mindless piece of historical revisionism that plays well with the elderly dumbfucks of Farage’s extreme pro-Leave community, who would love us to do it all over again with Boris playing Winston, because they only just missed out the last time and it sounds fun. Except it wasn’t.)

Meanwhile, officials have been frantically assuring us that Mayor Johnson never gave any grants to Ms Arcuri, although the office of the Mayor does appear to have donated £15 thousand directly to her little business. Perhaps his best defence would be to admit that he’s been a bit of a chump? Everyone forgives Boris, he’s so disarming. Like a little boy, really.

Despite, or perhaps because of, his wrecking-ball, cynical, abusive, adulterous, tyrannical, atrociously rude behavior, and a verdict delivered from the highest court in the land that he is a lawbreaker and a Royal liar; a verdict to which he has responded with open contempt and threats to ignore it, triggering a constitutional meltdown, Johnson still has a healthy percentage lead among the dumbfucks in the opinion polls.

We await his imminent arrest, trial and conviction with bated breath.

As with US President Trump, what to do with his millions of frothing, deluded supporters, who cannot tell the difference between the world they see on TV or on their little screens and reality; who are bored and fractious and poorly educated; easily distracted by bogus patriotic nostrums, and who don’t care what criminal capers the leader gets up to as long as he’s entertaining them and hates foreigners enough, is another question.

Even after you cut off the head, the chicken still runs around the yard.

Postscriptum

Oh, and two minutes later I see he’s just lost another vote and won’t be allowed to suspend business again during the Tory party conference next week. He might be delighted by that, as it moves us a step closer to the election the opposition won’t grant him. Given that he can’t govern, and the opposition refuses to move a vote of no-confidence so as to keep him twisting in the wind, he surely has to resign and trigger an election he knows he can’t lose.

Can you believe a word he says? corner….

“The firm’s collapse came after Johnson told parliament his government would do everything it could to help Wrightbus. However, a government source strenuously denied any such assurances had been given.” (Observer)

Following the collapse of Rightbus with the loss of more than a thousand jobs that Northern Ireland can scarcely afford to lose, it emerges that one of the Wright family directors had been donating £millions of company money to his evangelical church.

Boris Johnson speaking in parliament.

“Gentlemen, I give you a finger. It is a finger in search of a well-filled nostril…”

The Diversion bell

“Alpha-males are rarely the answer!”

(This article was constructed yesterday, before the latest revelations concerning Ms Arcuri’s companies, all of which appear to owe large sums of money or have been wound up. Ms Arcuri herself is being chased for $100 thousand in unpaid student loans, yet she appears to have “lent” $1m to her company in recent accounts. I don’t think that takes much away from the sentence that follows.)

Has Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Alexander “Boris” dePfeffel, dePfaffle Johnson been the victim of a classic honeytrap scam?

He is currently being referred to the Police watchdog over a possible “conflict of interest” situation that may have arisen when he was Mayor of London. Following revelations in Murdoch’s Sunday Times, the Guardian reports:

“Johnson has been formally referred for potential investigation into whether he committed the criminal offence of misconduct in public office, over allegations about a conflict of interest with a US businesswoman while he was mayor of London.”

The phrasing makes the affair sound quite innocuous, commonplace almost. Conflicts of interest between public officials and businesspeople arise all the time. They may be serious, they may be incidental. The Mayor’s office probably has bigger things to do, like buying buses, than deal with minor grant applications for business start-ups.

The egregious nature of the case as reported however arises, in the view of the BogPo, from the many understated circumstantial details to be found between the lines.

The “businesswoman” in question was reportedly an MBA student who had started up a rather vague-sounding internet service, Innotech, that spawned other obscure company registrations. I’m not sure I understand what it really did, I’m sure Mr Johnson probably didn’t, but it was to do with putting one lot of people in touch with another lot.

Not the most original of business plans, seemingly. I ought perhaps to confess that I got a little carried away myself when submitting an internet-based project to my tutors while on an IT course a few years ago, and ended up having to explain widely that no, it wasn’t a real business….

The MBA student has been described as a “former model”, and the former model was, or rather is, what those terrible sexists in the popular press might describe as “busty, blonde, 23-year-old Jennifer Arcuri”. (I am guessing her age at the time.)

Other details leap out at you. In order to qualify for a £100,000 government cybertech development grant, half of which has now been witheld pending enquiries, Ms Arcuri, an American, needed to have a Tier One British residency visa, which she didn’t. They’re rather expensive and hard to get. Except that some time after meeting Johnson at a techfest, she did. Any connection has been strenuously denied.

Her subsidiary company, provocatively named Hacker House, also needed to be registered in Britain, which it was, only there’s no sign of it. It was registered to her rented flat, which she vacated last year. She’s no longer in the country. Mayor Johnson is said to have been a “regular visitor” to the flat in East London, for what purpose he declines to say.

Another qualification, the business needed to employ British staff and to train British apprentices. Ms Arcuri was listed as an employee, also her American “husband”, there were three other names but thus far none seemingly has checked out.

Journalists on The Guardian telephoned the number registered at Companies House and were put through to a number in Florida (the Guardian is now referring to yet another number in California) , where a “receptionist” – not improbably Ms Arcuri herself, or her mom – was unable to confirm an address.

Madame Arcuri seems to have been adept at making contacts on a higher plane. It was when yesterday’s Guardian update on the story mentioned the name of UK “business ambassador”, Prince Andrew, with whom she had apparently embarked on some other sort of business liaison, that the fire bell in your Uncle Bogler’s conspiracy-minded old brain began clanging insistently.

Has anybody checked to see if this lady has any prior connection, spiritual or otherwise, with the “late financier”, Jeffrey Epstein?

To enlarge upon the notion of conspiracy, I would mention Mr Trump’s known habit of collecting “dirt” to use against his political and business rivals, or on people of potential advantage; and speculate on what may eventually come out, that his former cohort Epstein, pimp and abuser of vulnerable young girls, was blackmailing his wealthy and influential clients.

As Gilbert and Sullivan wrote – “I’ve got a little list”.

The Russians call it “kompromat” – compromising material, in the form of video, photographs or letters. Was Epstein feeding Trump helpful “kompromat” on his clients?

But I’m positive there are no such connections.

I feel sure however that MI5 will be looking closely at the case, as the security implications are fairly alarming. There is a possibility, is there gnotte, that our Prime Minister, a man about whom it has been said that he finds some difficulty keeping it in his pants, may have been the victim of a classic honeytrap scam – Florida being basically known for three things: retirement homes, alligators and swampy goings-on.

Where oranges, someone wrote, are not the only fruit.

In which case there must be some concern about the possibility of the existence of kompromat, collected on the prominent Mayor of London, a useful idiot, on a just-in-case basis. But now he is Prime Minister, the keeper of the nation’s secrets, the man with his pudgy forefinger on the nuclear button.

The hope will be that we are still friends with the CIA and that any such material can be swiftly recovered.

Oh, Tory party! You keep doing this! From Profumo, through Lord Lambton, Cecil Parkinson and David Mellor, your sense of entitled inviolability so frequently lets you down. If the stench of sleaze, the “faint aroma of performing seals” is rising once again in the land, you have only yourselves to blame.

Alpha-males are rarely the answer!

Postscriptum:

Responding to the allegations using Trump’s favorite flavor of smokescreen, “it’s all a plot against me!”, a Government source said: “The public and media will rightly see through such a nakedly political put-up job.”

Clearly, in Conference season Downing Street is not without a seaside postcard sense of humor.

Ed Note: a number of the details in this piece have since changed or been clarified. I’m too tired to rewrite it, but essentially Ms Arcuri’s lawyer has auctioned the rights to the Daily Mirror, who interviewed her in a car park in Fresno or somewhere, and she says Johnson never had sex with her, she only gave him technology lessons, and there’s no kompromat. Hope that clears everything up.

Thunberg and Trudeau meet in Montreal on Friday.

“Sorry, Mr Trudeau, I didn’t recognize you without your make-up on…”

Uphill, down Dale

The shambling albino bear-man, Johnson has, as reported, casually dismissed fears of violent retribution against female MPs supporting either revocation of Article 50, or a “soft Brexit” – i.e. one that keeps Northern Ireland in the European Customs Union for another two years while a solution is found to the Irish border question.

I count 10 DUP “angels” dancing on the head of that particular pin.

Mr Johnson’s aggressive language, his constant use of inflammatory imagery from the Second World War, his blatant xenophobia, misogyny and phoney patriotic cliches are widely criticized as being – less strong-willed, than ill-bred. They are all transparently a ruse to de-fang the Farage “Brexit Party” (which isn’t a party, it’s his private company), but he says he regards any suggestion that it might have an actual effect on his deluded dumbfuck supporters as “humbug”.

Oh, really? So there’s no connection at all between the Prime Minister’s bellicose rhetoric, the screaming, hate-filled headlines in the populist press, the breakdown of democratic institutions and the rule of law under assault from the alt-right, and real life?

“Jolyon Maugham QC has revealed that his local police and crime commissioner was sufficiently concerned by recent threats against his life that he was advised to buy a stab vest” … and hire a bodyguard when attending public events. (Guardian)

Other, seemingly quite serious security precautions are being taken by the police to protect the human rights lawyer and his family, who is one of three litigants prosecuting the case in Scotland – the first leg of which they won, thus triggering the Supreme Court review – against Johnson’s illegal prorogation of Parliament. He has even spoken of having to leave the country if he wins the next stage of the case.

There are clearly some very real, scary people out there, who the police think may be capable of taking things beyond mere threats and bluster. Beyond, even, the increasingly dreary and repetitive arguments of the Brexit debate. The question surely is, who is behind them?

At this point I need to make an apology. Referred to in the story is another of the litigants, Mr Dale Vince, “millionaire CEO” of a green energy supply company called Ecotricity. Mr Vince is a leading Remainer, I understand, who is reportedly funding a team to monitor threats against Mr Maugham on the internet.

Many years ago, wouahouhouwaah, eerie flashback music….

In 1992 Dale Vince was a small-scale entrepreneur and lobbyist, pushing hard to erect a prominent windfarm in poshest Gloucestershire, where I had my PR agency. It was a project from which he might have profited. The local media and public were ranged against him.

We were a new startup, with only £5 thousand liquid capital, specializing in supporting small green enterprises, environmental groups and NGOs, working to help them professionalize their communications, which were (and are still) generally woeful. Small as we were, we had years of individual experience between us in bigger media companies.

As someone who had been following the ecology movement since the mid-’70s, I’d devised an ethical charter on which we operated under conditions of full accounting transparency, in order to shake off the general impression among those client groups that the advertising industry was just a bunch of overpaid liars, sharks and charlatans.

Which it pretty much was, as I knew after seven years working in it. Except for the overpaid bit.

And, impressively as I thought, we also shared our office space (at my invitation) with the country’s leading environmental campaigner, Jonathon Porritt, and his little team of helpers.

Asked to pitch for writing and designing a leaflet for his renewable energy campaign, I quoted Vince a derisory amount – £150 – just as a token fee, for what would have been a full day’s work for two creative people and more hours for our print-buyer. Beyond that first small brief, I was eager to propose a longer-term working relationship.

After we had driven 15 miles to his office and spent an hour discussing his needs, all on my and my MD’s time, he sneeringly dismissed us as being, basically, rapacious capitalist lackeys, and rejected the offer as being too absurdly expensive.

I have said bad things about him at any opportunity ever since, as I regarded him as being a hypocrite, a bully, a timewaster and an all-round slimeball. Worse, now he’s also a millionaire.

So no, sorry, Dale. I haven’t changed my opinion, but I’ll keep quiet about it from now on, okay?

Take one for the team.

Take 2…

A second apology is due to Mr Arron Banks, the self-promoted millionaire, frequent visitor to the Russian embassy in London, possibly Britain’s Ugliest Man, and the money behind Nigel Farage, his £1.2 million house and the unofficial Leave.EU party.

We were obviously wrong about him and would like to be sorry.

The National Crime Agency, I think it is, has declared there is “insufficient evidence” of criminality, apart from the extensive evidence with which they were presented, obviously, to warrant further investigation into his sources of funding.

As Mr Trump, he kno’, “insufficient evidence” to prosecute a successful case is not the same as total exoneration. Saying won’t make it so, so this apology is, at this stage, a little tentative. But hey, in the interests of national unity, etc.

In a previous statement, the forces of law and order had admitted, their investigation of Mr Banks, who has extensive obscure offshore holdings and apparently unproductive mining interests in South Africa, in addition to his loss-making Gibraltar-based insurance businesses, and frequent dealings with Russians (he has a Russian wife) yet who somehow funnelled £7 million to Leave.EU out of feelings of pure patriotism towards Britain, had been delayed for over nine months, since it was “too political” to start work.

Your Uncle Bogler therefore trusts there will be no ill-feeling, in the light of previous Posts, which were based on exhaustive private investigations by the indefatigable journalists at Open Democracy dot Org, and Ms Carole Cadwaladr of The Guardian group.

Although I still feel ill, to be honest.

 

The Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard receives a threat from Command to hive the oldest members off to the Civil Defence corps:

Captain Mainwaring: “I have to tell you, Wilson, that I too have taken steps to look more virile…”

Sergeant Wilson: “Oh my God, it’s not monkey glands, is it?”

– Dad’s Army.

 

Down for the count

I’ve just this minute had through the post, as I imagine have millions of other householders, an official government form that I’m being requested to complete and return.

Extending to 32 pages of densely packed questions about myself, where and in what condition I live, it purports to be, not exactly a census, but a “census rehearsal”.

The next official census, taken every ten years, is not due until September 2021.

But this form is the census! It’s the actual script! The same questions! There is no difference! And we are not, so far as I know, legally obliged under the 1801 Censuses Act, whatever, I shall have to Google it all shortly, to complete the national census, wasting hours of our time, in 2019.

The government is currently in a state of dangerous disarray and showing all the signs of administrative incompetence and bitterly divisive rancour one would anticipate shortly leading to total socio-economic breakdown. Incipient public disorder portends the imposition of what, for want of another term, one can only describe as a quasi-fascist regime under Mr Farage; one of über-nationalistic authoritarianism and suppression of liberal dissent.

This new, as-yet unborn government will, should we complete the form, be in full possession of a vast amount of my personal data with which to oppress me at its leisure.

As it does not seem to carry any legal penalty, I do not need to rehearse carrying out my solemn and onerous duty to provide the enemy State with intrusive details of my life, thank you. I’m quite prepared for when the actual performance comes.

I think I should write to them and say so.

 

GW: it’s all going swimmingly

India: At least 12 people have been killed and several are missing after heavy rain and flash floods in the district of Pune in Maharashtra state, on 25 Sept. 5 people died when a wall collapsed. Around 150 homes were also damaged. 5 other victims died when buildings were washed away by flood waters in Shivapur. Schools and colleges in Pune district have been closed. Of major concern are low-lying areas following a controlled release of water from the Nazare dam on the Karha river. 15 thousand people have been evacuated as a precaution. (Floodlist)

USA: “Parts of the Northwest and southern Canada are bracing (27 Sept.) for a potentially ‘historic’ storm that will unleash heavy snow, fierce winds and record cold — meteorologists say the timing of this storm will add to the dangers” (people aren’t prepared for winter yet). “Hazardous travel conditions and power outages will result as blizzard conditions will unfold in some areas”, with up to 3 feet of snow a possibility. “As the storm evolves, temperatures may plummet 50 deg. F. (25C) or more in some locations.” (Accuweather)

Meanwhile: “Millions of Americans across the Southeast will face record-challenging temperatures into early October as an area of high pressure remains anchored over the region” (Accuweather). Atlanta last week hit a high of 95F, 35C – 18F above average and breaking a 1950 record. “Augusta and Savannah, Georgia, both topped 97F while Columbia, South Carolina, had the high for the day at 99F, topping the previous record set in 1984.”

Record rainfall and flooding plagued Nevada and the Southwest all week, while Wisconsiners recorded a 150mph, EF-3 tornado. Three injuries were reported.

Caribbean: Tropical Storm Karen refuses to lie down. After dumping heavy rain over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, it’s expected to hook a left and head for the east coast USA, or perhaps Cuba first, maybe as a low-end hurricane depending on wind shear which, if strong enough, could finally rip it to pieces.

“Hurricane Lorenzo, currently spinning over the central Atlantic, first became a hurricane on Wednesday, but by Thursday afternoon, it had rapidly intensified into a major Cat 4. On Thursday evening, Lorenzo was packing maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, but meteorologists believe it could continue to strengthen and eventually become a Cat 5 storm with winds exceeding 157 mph. If Lorenzo achieves Cat 5 status, it would be the farthest east that a Cat 5 hurricane has ever been observed in the Atlantic Ocean.” (AccuWeather) “After passing the Azores, Lorenzo will then track toward Europe as a weakening TS and could impact areas like the British Isles.”

Tunnel approaching….

UN: “Earth is in dire straits, and rising sea levels will cause ‘sweeping and severe’ consequences for humans, an expert United Nations climate panel (has) warned. … sea levels are rising at an ever-faster rate as ice and snow shrink. Oceans are getting more acidic and losing oxygen (up to 3% now…).

“The agency warned that if steps aren’t taken to reduce emissions and slow global warming, seas will rise 3 feet by the end of the century, with many fewer fish, less snow and ice, stronger and wetter hurricanes and other, nastier weather systems.” (Reporting: The Weather Channel)

Scientists on the panel were at pains to point out that UN IPCC panellists are directed to be conservative and things are probably twice as bad as they say.

What the media is not mentioning while it is fixated on the avoidable consequences of sea-level rise is the part of the report where, according to the team at Arctic News: “there is 1,460 to 1,600 Gt of carbon present in the” (permafrost – plus a possible 2,200 Gt more on and under the seabed, just in the shallow East Siberian shelf alone) … The IPCC report projects permafrost (top 3–4 m) to decrease in area by up to 89% by 2100 under a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5), leading to cumulative release of tens to hundreds of billions of tons of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere by 2100.” … “The report fails to warn that, as the Arctic Ocean keeps heating up, huge seafloor methane eruptions could (also) be triggered (Shakhova, et al.).”

In other words, cackles yer Old Gran, as this is based on a current linear warming trajectory that is already being disrupted by nonlinear feedbacks – it’s curtains.

Plague: Deaths are being reported in the USA from mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which has a more-than 30% mortality rate. There’ve been a dozen cases in Massachusetts, while “in hard-hit Michigan, they’re warning people in high-risk areas not to go outside after dusk and before dawn.” (Accuweather) Officials are praying for a cold winter.

Terra trema: There’ve been some fairly severe earthquakes in the past few days. At least 25 people were killed by a M5.8 in northern Pakistan; 100 injured in Albania’s worst quake for 30 years, also at M5.8, and worried people took to the streets in Istanbul after a third M5.8 rocked northern Turkey, damaging buildings. A M6.0 hit off the coast of Puerto Rico at the height of Tropical Storm Karen, followed by a M4.9 that damaged buildings on land and more aftershocks. There was also a M6.0 off the coast of New Zealand.

Your money: “Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing (has) said central banks like the European Central Bank and US Federal Reserve ‘have used their tools to a large extent already’ to avoid global economic risks. He said they have ‘no conventional measures left to effectively cushion’ the hit of a ‘real economic crisis’.” (Express) He was speaking as the latest German numbers showed the European powerhouse led by the car industry sliding into recession. (NB – The Express is a virulent anti-EU fascist snotrag, however this does look genuinely a bit bad.)

Former Bank of England monetary policy committee member, David Blanchflower is accusing the Bank of “fiddling while Rome burns”, and says the UK economy is probably already in recession as the figures have a long lag time, while all the indicators are looking very much like 2008.

Heat the rich: 1% of English residents are responsible for 19% of all UK flights abroad. The 10% most frequent flyers took 52% of international flights in 2018. The aviation sector accounted for about 7% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. (Guardian)

Hope springs: “People who have an upbeat outlook on life have a lower risk of cardiovascular conditions and premature death”, says a new report (Guardian Science)

x

Long essay:

The march of the anti-Vaxxers: an open letter to a Representative from Maine

Rep. Heidi Sampson

House of Representatives

Washington DC

Dear Ms Sampson

I saw you interviewed tonight on a BBC documentary about the anti-Vaxxer movement in your country.

I have rarely heard such a malicious and tendentious tirade before. Well, I probably have, as I follow American politics, and I’ve also watched Adolf Hitler’s speeches. But you know what I mean. You disgracefully constructed a doctrinaire, ultra-conservative political platform from an avoidable threat to your nation’s children.

You are, of course, entitled to your uninformed medical superstitions.

Sixty million of you, after all, were easily persuaded in 2016 to vote-in as President, a superannuated playboy and ex-TV reality show host with no political, economic or diplomatic experience: a malign and vindictive solipsist – an uneducated, emotionally retarded, bullying sociopath with a history of serial bankruptcies, bank defaults, business failures, compulsive lying, gross sexual misconduct, grift, blackmail, tax fraud, money laundering and dealings with organized criminals at home and abroad.

All of that was known or strongly suspected beforehand, even to us in Europe. Your own intelligence community warned you against this fateful step, yet you still supported him. Now he stands accused of treason against your country and covering up crimes – yet your party still supports him.

Why then would I imagine you could possibly, on any day of the week, not regurgitate a ludicrous conspiracy theory promoted by someone like Alex Jones of InfoWars; like you, a leading medical specialist in epidemiology, and also someone clearly in want of secure psychiatric care, about vaccines?

It’s a truly bizarre phenomenon, human nature.

Ten thousand competent, practising medical doctors with years of training and experience will tell you one thing. One discredited, disbarred and thoroughly dishonest British practitioner, a known charlatan promoting a bogus scientific theory for financial gain on a worldwide publicity tour, a desperate individual whose reputation is thoroughly sullied, career self-destroyed, hopelessly pursuing a dangerous fallacy that has been thoroughly investigated and statistically disproven, will appear on a notorious conspiracy-theorist’s website to tell you another.

Who do you choose to believe? Don’t tell me! It’s such a romantic story, that poor Dr Wakefield. So wickedly, unfairly persecuted by evil scientists!

But they contain aluminum! No, Heidi, vaccines contain a harmless salt, aluminum hydroxide. Not the metallic aluminum, many millions of atoms of which you consume daily from your own cookware. And formaldehyde! They embalm corpses! You, Heidi, manufacture formaldehyde naturally in your own gut, from the digestive process. It comes and goes. In vaccines, it’s a necessary preservative.

My God, Heidi, do you ever look at the lists of ingredients on the packs of food in your supermarket? What you’re eating is lingering death, to put it kindly – dozens of known carcinogens like nitrates (preservative); aspartame; butane; propyl gallate. Tests show your fresh food is rich in chlorpyrifos, a commonly used agricultural pesticide your government has just re-licensed, after the President received a million dollar donation from the makers, Dow. A chemical banned everywhere else and proven to damage the brains of unborn children.

But you still force yourselves to eat it. Pro-Life? Anti-vaccine? Please, Heidi, do try.

It’s frankly astonishing; although to me, it’s equally astonishing that so many Americans believe Jesus is going to rapture them up to Heaven at any moment, or that a clump of insentient and possibly malformed cells is a human being, worthy of more respect than a born child who might die without vaccination. Are you all on some wonder drug I haven’t heard of? I’m not sure Fentanyl quite does it.

Surely, your cult of rugged individualism must clash with the obvious need for more altruistic communal responsibility? As vaccine uptakes fall, it’s other people’s kids that are going to bear the brunt of your individual selfishness. And where do you stand on lead pollution in drinking water?

I’m 70 years of age, Ms Sampson. During my childhood years I so enjoyed being made sick and missing school for weeks by the common viruses and bacilli of Measles, German Measles, Pertussis, Chickenpox and Mumps, all of which I survived. The one thing I didn’t get was Polio, which was endemic when I was very young.

That was because your brilliant Dr Jonas Salk invented a timely vaccine, which I was given, and I didn’t get Polio. Tens of thousands of children did, and a few still do. It’s a vicious, disabling disease: you die when the muscles you use to breathe go into paralysis. You suffocate, slowly. But not in my country, not yet, although thanks to your anti-Vaxxers it’s sure to return here one day.

I hope your kids didn’t get Polio, Ms Sampson. I guess to you that would have been God’s will. Your greatest president of the 20th century, and certainly of the 21st so far, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, got polio when young, because there was no vaccine. He could stand only with a back-brace, walk barely  at all, and much effort was expended by the White House staff to make him appear electable in public.

I wonder, Ms Sampson, if he would have been an anti-Vaxxer?

If you have ever visited the Indian subcontinent or Southeast Asia, you may have seen many older people with deeply pockmarked faces, some of them blind and/or deaf. That was caused by an even more deadly virus, Smallpox. Millions died from it every year. The poor things, they wouldn’t have been raptured up to Heaven by Jesus, like your sick babies, because they’re only Muslims and Hindus.

Back in the 19th century – it sounds disgusting – Edward Jenner noticed that dairy workers seemed not to get Smallpox as much as others. He experimented with scraping pus from cows infected with a related common disease in cattle, Cowpox, into the bloodstreams of healthy subjects, then exposed them to Smallpox sufferers. None of them got Smallpox, and an industry was born.

An industry whose motives you deeply suspect, of course, because you’re an expert, but one that has saved millions of lives.

Were I able to transport you back in time to 1918 and the last months of the First World War, there in a camp in Kentucky where men mustered to go fight in the trenches, an avian virus called H1N1 took hold. Sick men could not be spared, so they were sent on packed and insanitary troopships to fight in Europe. Many never got there. Others did. In the subsequent influenza pandemic that swept the world, half a billion got sick, and 90 million people died, struggling for breath until their lungs ruptured and they drowned in their own blood.

Have you been getting your ‘flu jabs, Heidi? Your annual protective inoculations? Have your parents and kids, because, you know, the old and the young are especially vulnerable. Pharma labs work continuously to keep up with the latest viral mutations, because the world isn’t the lovely place you’d like it to be. Evolution – which I doubt you believe in – goes on at the microbial level. We live in a soup of constantly mutating viruses and bacteria. Deadly pathogens emerge. They’re taking it seriously, even if you aren’t.

You asked – shockingly, I thought, mendaciously, but perhaps naively – on camera if the World Health Organization is a trusted source? What do you think, are they any less trustworthy than your own Centers for Disease Control? Why would you assume that? Oh, Heidi, it’s not because they’re not American, is it? They’re only World?

Do you know how backward, how narrow-minded your country is beginning to look, with its lowbrow medievalism, its millions of poor, uneducated, low-income families unable to afford any kind of healthcare, let alone vaccinations, or sanitary housing, and its burgeoning epidemics of long-ago childhood diseases?

Your poor, demented President retreats visibly and audibly from the complexities of a world he doesn’t understand, but in which he foolishly imagines himself omniscient: a classic Dunning-Kruger personality. He drags millions of gullible, childlike people down with him, victims of a cruel and arbitrary system of corporate greed, billionaires and corrupt politicians benefitting from astounding inequality; ordinary folks who will believe in absolutely anything he wildly promises because it seems more exciting than everyday reality. Victims who even believed his false promises on healthcare.

You’re not wrong when you say the pharmaceutical industry has a vested interest in selling its products expensively. Why wouldn’t it? The profit motive seems perfectly in line with the rest of the capitalist system you wholeheartedly endorse. Do you not accept that there is a little hypocrisy there? The prices are a disgrace, no doubt. Diabetics are dying for the price of a shot of insulin.

But the principles on which they operate are no different from those of any other sector of industry. And your President lied: he promised voters to bring those prices down. He gave huge tax breaks to Big Pharma, and instead they pushed their prices up. That’s the capitalist ethic. Do you imagine he cares?

Neurotic Americans are notoriously over-medicalized: laxatives, painkillers, slimming pills, snake-oil – but that is not your proof that vaccination is bad, only that the methods by which it does good might be bad. Your pernicious oil and coal industries also have a vested interest in making the whole world sick, but would I ever hear you castigating them, those fine American globalist corporations that prevent so many of your colleagues in Congress from going hungry?

The World Health Organization has successfully eradicated Smallpox from the world through a determined, multi-decadal program of vaccination. Aren’t you glad your children don’t die from Smallpox? It’s a filthy disease. Rotting pustules bursting all down your digestive tract, in your eyes, your vagina. Happily, thanks to vaccine, nobody gets Smallpox anymore.

Currently, they’re battling an epidemic of the Ebola virus in the dark heart of the Republic of Congo. There’s a vaccine, not yet fully tried but showing promising effectiveness. Nevertheless, over two thousand people have died agonizing deaths, their organs failing as the alien virus replicates inside and bursts out through the cell walls, spewing blood, who might well not have died but for the ignorance and animistic superstitions of the inhabitants, who – just like you Americans – regard Western medicine as a conspiracy and its vaccines taboo.

Aren’t you better than them?

And then there’s the Human Papilloma virus, that men unwittingly carry, and women develop ovarian cancers from, and many die, like my first wife, Trish… There’s a vaccine today, but I don’t really need to go on, do I?

If there was a vaccine against ignorance, superstition and criminal stupidity, Heidi, I’d make it compulsory. On the basis of what I heard you say you don’t deserve to be in office, you have no credentials: you imagine yourself to be a responsible person, a rectitudinarian in the finest traditions of public service, a crusader for individual choice and freedom, but you’re not – you’re a menace!

As a result of your wilful ignorance and doctrinaire conservatism, children are dying. Happy Jesus!

Go home, Heidi. Bake cakes. Watch TV.

You truly, utterly silly woman.

The Madness of King Donald…. Depression news, #1,#2,#3… Schools for scandal… GW: under my umbrella, ella… “Tunnel approaching”… The sheer irrelevance of political journalism – a short essay.

 

“Come November you’ll all be eating my snot. Its fingerpickin’ good!” (with apologies to Getty Images for nicking their stuff. I don’t get paid for this.)

Details of Operation Yellowhammer, the full horror story of the UK Government’s own predictions, released under duress from the Johnson Dark House (except that they were leaked in The Times two weeks ago) predict that within 24 hours of a No-Deal Brexit, there’ll be a 1.5-day-long backlog for goods to clear customs at Calais; and within another 24 hours we’ll be waiting so long that all the goods will have perished, supermarket shelves will be emptying, prices rocketing, and people reliant on insulin will have died.

Things can only get better.

 

The Madness of King Donald….

“A lot of people want the job. It’s a great job. It’s great because it’s a lot of fun to work for Donald Trump.”

Er…. yes. That was – Donald Trump speaking, in what’s become known as a “chopper talk” press gaggle on the WH lawn, posing in front of his airforce helicopter (that doesn’t work in the rain), explaining that he will have no trouble finding a replacement for John Bolton, the mad neocon armchair warmonger he hired last year as his third National Security advisor, and fired the other night as they appeared to agree on absolutely nothing and besides, he always hated that yellowing signature soup-strainer Bolton sports on his horsey upper lip, as it got him so much publicity.

Defending his attempt to rollback the phazing-out of energy-intensive tungsten lightbulbs, something we did in Europe about 20 years ago, Trump told a gathering it was because eco-friendlier low-energy bulbs “Always make me look orange”. This, in a speech to the Congressional Institute?

The guy has absolutely no self-awareness. The world is just an invention of his own diseased brain. A world through which he walks alone, troubled only by the shadows of the rest of us.

And then – this is the President who told another gathering this week that his wife Melania has a son – in wrapping up a rambling, delusionary and disorienting impromptu speech, he called Vice President Mike Pence: “Mike Pounds”, and then looked momentarily confused.

For God’s sake, Republican party, what the hell is wrong with you? You’re headed for oblivion with this demented old fraud in charge.

(Based on actual news clips satirized on The Late Show, 13 Sept.)

Thompson said: ‘I mean, I did get fired, but apart from that it was all smooth running.’

Double mammy: Al Johnson, as the PM might look in the age of color.

Depression news

Despite warnings from medical professionals and a number of deaths associated with the trials, Donald Trump has told his Health Department to order a vast quantity of a new, expensive, ketamine-based drug to be supplied to the Veterans Administration, for treating cases of PTSD in the military; where doctors have already advised, antidepressants can do more harm than good.

Are we to assume then that Trump “knows more about medicine than many doctors”, as he once met a doctor, or perhaps is it a case of another anonymous million-dollar donation quietly appearing in his re-election campaign war chest?

And make no mistake. Muh good friend, The Pumpkin is betting his jazz collection on Trump getting re-elected next year, if he has not been carted off with his arms folded in the meantime.

Just as, after ten years of vicious “austerity” warfare against the poorer two-thirds of the country, and as we head into a recession, the mendacious and incompetent Conservative government led by a bumbling and entitled unelected oaf, a careerist dilettante, a serial shagger and amateur racist who proposes to destroy the economy by dragging us in chaos out of the EU with nothing settled, and who has been branded a liar and a chancer by no less than former PM, David Cameron; the party selling places in the lifeboats for the rich while the rest of us drown in a sea of bubbling-hot shit, has a 12 per cent lead in the public opinion polls.

On both sides of the Atlantic, populist lunacy reigns.

 

“More than 60% of US adults hold at least one “new age” belief, such as placing faith in astrology or the power of psychics, and 42% think spiritual energy can be located in physical objects such as crystals” – Guardian report. The International Labor Organization estimates about 85,000 children work in Madagascar’s unregulated crystal mines, for the benefit of cretins like Gwyneth Paltrow and her tribe of emaciated airheads.

Depression News #2

It’s an ill-wind… “Shares in oil companies have jumped this morning, following the jump in crude prices.” (Guardian, jumping twice). Oil companies and armaments manufacturers are giving off the only signs that we’re not heading into a global recession, accompanied by a mooted US-led retaliatory strike on Iranian refineries, as all other market indices were showing red this morning.

If you were hoping to avoid a 5p rise in the unleaded price at the pumps today, you’re probably too late – althugh Trump is pumping ever harder. Aramco is now predicting it may take months to get back to full production after the drone strikes on the Abqaiq processing facility, which have interdicted half of Saudi Barbaria’s refinery output – 5% of the world’s oil supply.

Strikes for which the US has now managed to cobble together enough “intel” to suggest must have come from Iran or its proxies in Iraq, rather than from the Yemeni rebels who have claimed them.

Pundits now fear rising oil prices could be just the thing to kick off a global recession; while US banks – free once again to trade in dodgy debt-swaps with shareholder immunity risking only their depositors’ savings – could be even more just the thing to trigger another 2007-style lending crisis and a consequent depression, from which there might be no escape this time. The ECB and the Fed have already got the printing presses smoking hot and interest rates set below zero, but will it be enough?

Buckle up.

I keep saying that, don’t I? Yawn.

 

Depression News #3: “We can’t be sure…” etc.

“…if anything is masked by dimming, it’s the BBC”.

In an online story today, the good ole BBC carries a series of interviews with climate scientists including former UK chief scientist, David King.

All of them admit straight away, they’re scared. It’s all getting out of hand. Extreme weather events are coming thick and fast. They’re becoming more extreme, at an unpredicted rate.

But… we can’t be sure that any one event is linked to climate change!

Why does the BBC keep on parroting this sanitizing mantra? What actual relevance does making individual connections have, when joining the dots is scaring the pants off the people who know?

“Dr Friederike Otto from Oxford University is an expert in the attribution of extreme events to climate change. (So’s your Old Gran. It just comes natural, like…) She told us that in a pre-climate change world, a heatwave like this (France, June and July 2019, 46 and 43 deg. C) might strike once in 1,000 years. ‘In a post-warming world, the heatwave was a one-in-a-100 year phenomenon.’ (I know, that’s twice in one year! and they had Lucifer in 2017, and another one last year, 15 thousand heat deaths in 2003. But carry on, Dr Expert.) ‘In other words, natural variability is amplifying human-induced climate heating. (No, it’s the other way around!) With European heatwaves, we have realised that climate change is a total game-changer,’ she said.” Indeed. Good experting there, Dr Otto. I’m sure you know, it’s not a game.

But…  “it was impossible to be sure that the slow progress of Dorian was caused by climate change”. Oh, really? We know what the meteorological mechanisms are for the slowing forward progress, the more rapid intensification and increasing moisture-content of hurricanes. And it’s not just Dorian, it’s pretty well all of them now. Harvey? Florence? Michael? Idai? Kenneth? The Terrible Twins, Lekima and Krosa?

The Terrible Twins: Lekima and Krosa.

We know the climate is warming. And we know that all weather events are (and were always) the product of Earth’s climate.

Where’s the difficulty then in assuming that events that are more unusual and more extreme and more frequent than the norm are the obvious products of a changing climate – an overheating world?

Oh, but, says the top UN climate science guy, we don’t want to frighten the children!

Why the fuck do you think the children are striking and marching and demonstrating? It’s because they’re trying to frighten you! Why not listen to them?

And do stop telling us the world has warmed by “1 degree”! When you start from pre-industrial 1750 rather than 1880 you’re looking at 1.85 degrees already. Adjusting other variables as the scientists at Arctic News have been doing (admittedly controversially) brings us to nearer 3 degrees, but masked by the aerosol effect known as “global dimming” we can go on pretending if you like.

Your Old Gran has made the point many times before: if anything is masked by dimming, it’s the BBC.

 

“Two climate crisis protesters who removed Emmanuel Macron’s portrait from an official building were justified in doing so because of the severity of the environmental emergency, a judge has said. ​The ​judge in Lyon acquitted the pair of theft in a ruling hailed as historic by campaigners.” (Guardian)

And we want to leave the European Union?

Schools for scandal

“Each time a school becomes an academy the council must hand over the title deeds for the school if it has them (avg value £5m per school). As over 2,000 schools have been forced to become academies that is £10 billion (min) state assets (of which) Michael Gove has demanded the title deeds be handed to him.”

Legal fees involved in this incredible scam, uncovered five years ago by Michael Rosen, the “Childrens’ Laureate” at the time, amounted to another £50 million – all funded by the taxpayer.

Rosen’s attempts in 2014 to discover who now owned the title deeds make for even more shocking reading: a FOI request backed, in the face of unlawful prevarication, by a court order eventually revealed, there were no paper records or any form of traceable audit of the transfers of £10 billion in titles to formerly public buildings and land to the governors of the new schools, many of them Conservative party notables.

Gove, he adds, secretly set up a private company to process the deeds. But the money itself could not be traced. He later changed the law so that academies – unlike every other charity in the land – don’t have to publish accounts. Anyone “associated with the school” can now own the deeds, and even trade or sell them on; while the Government funds the payment of extortionate rents on the school properties to the new private “owners”.

The deeds have, in effect, been converted to a traded bond currency with no IFA oversight: “dark money”. While the “shareholders” of these new private school companies are indemnified at the public expense. THese are valuable public assets that have in effect been stolen by the state, and the money redistributed to private individuals.

Thus much of the money has ended up invested in offshore tax shelters and has been denied to the rest of our crumbling education system. As indeed, the schools were formerly in local authority ownership; while, as we know, local services – libraries, social care, housing, children’s services, “meals-on-wheels”, policing – pothole filling – have all been slashed to the marrow, thanks to the austerity measures imposed on us by this sickening bunch of rentier prostitutes, the Conservative party and its successive, failed governments.

Why this scandal is not better known, why the public has not burned down Parliament, I do not know. It is exactly the same system as was exploited by Vladimir Putin to vastly enrich his coterie of thuggish “oligarchs” in the new Russia, through the supra-legal disposals of holdings in formerly public companies; making himself probably the richest man in the world in the process. (He is believed to be worth twice as much as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.)

I learned about the scandal only today, from a link provided in a Comment on a Guardian piece reminding us how terrible Gove was as Education Secretary: principally, as evidenced by his cynical removal of classes covering civics, politics, contemporary history – and any mention of the EU – from the national curriculum, thus possibly explaining why there is so little resistance to Tory propaganda; so little interest in politics, or the EU, that the people can be easily bullied and manipulated into voting 180 degrees against their own interest.

It turns out, therefore, that in addition to being a duplicitous little shit, Gove is also very probably a criminal.

Would somebody please move for the arrest and trial of this mendacious little pox-doctor, on charges of conspiracy to defraud the public purse, and of misconduct while in office? Throw open the windows and let a little light and air in on his furtive activities? Whatever else by way of treacherous deception he might have engineered while nobody was looking?

And please Sir, can we have our education system back? No Tory government should be allowed within a mile of the school gates, they’re nothing but a bunch of economic perverts and ignorance pushers.

Thanks.

http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/gove-nicked-our-schools-and-handed-them.html

 

GW: under my umbrella, ella

Parts of eastern Spain received what in some places was their heaviest rainfall on record on Thursday, 12 Sept., with severe flash-flooding, as storms wreaked (wrought?) widespread destruction and killed at least 4 people. The regional emergency service said a 51-year-old woman and her 61-year-old brother had been found dead in an overturned car in Caudete. 2 other motorists drowned in Almeria and Granada. The town of Ontinyent in Valencia had recorded more than 400mm (16-in.) rainfall by Thursday afternoon. The Clariano river rose 9 meters (30ft) in 2 hours. Regional airports were closed. (Guardian)

Bahamas: Tropical storm warnings have been issued for the northwestern Bahamas, including Grand Bahama Island. Disturbance 95L became Potential Tropical Cyclone 9 on Thursday afternoon and follows Cat. 5 Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the northern Bahamas last week (1,300 still recorded as missing.) If this system were to become a tropical storm, it would be called Humberto. As of 2 a.m. EDT Friday (13 Sept.), the center of the system was about 210 miles southeast of Great Abaco Island with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. and potential to bring 300mm (15-in.) of rain (Accuweather) Behind it, a second disturbance has formed a disorganized system moving westwards out of the Cape Verde islands towards the Lesser Antilles, and stands a good chance of developing, monitors report.

Monday update: Strengthening hurricane, Humberto brushed by the Bahamas and then took a huge swing northeastwards, away from the Americas and out into the Atlantic. Bermuda is on standby. Watch out Portugal, or us, next week.

Brazil: Coffee lovers should consider stocking up on beans. Accuweather reports on market jitters, as: “the key coffee-growing region of Minas Gerais in Brazil has not had significant rain in three months. Average temperatures have been a whopping 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, and average precipitation has been 57% below normal since June 1.” No rain is in the forecast for the next three weeks.

USA: As powerful storms continue to batter the Midwest, September 2018 to August 2019 was again the wettest 12-month stretch on record for the contiguous United States as a whole. March and July were the only months that were slightly drier than average, but still maintained the year-on-year record. The top five wettest Jan-Aug periods have all occurred since 1979. (Wunderground, from where the NOAA graph below, showing rapid intensification, is also taken.)

Precipitation totals for 12-month spans from September to the following August, going back to 1895

The floppy jetstream is once again plunging southwards, as far as southern California – 100F degree temperatures around Sacramento are likely to be in the 60s by early this week, a new storm system is moving in and there’s a snow forecast for higher elevations. Tropical Storm Humberto has triggered storm warnings for Florida’s east coast. (Accuweather) Behind Humberto, “Imelda” (as yet only an unnamed depression) is forming off the Cape Verde islands.

Accuweather reports, Monday 16th: “Residents (in South Dakota) are facing record-breaking flooding as the Big Sioux River continues to rise. The National Weather Service said recently, that almost a foot of rain fell near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, over the course of two days. Multiple rivers and creeks surpassed previous water level records.”

Arctic: Prof. Beckwith’s latest podcast causes some puzzlement. While it’s clear from satellite scans that practically all the multi-year thick ice north of 60 deg. is gone, and there are still millions of square km of clear water around the outer edges of the ocean that weren’t there in Augusts past, it appears that the overall extent of sea ice that had been falling all summer in line with 2012’s record collapse had begun by mid-August to level off; although it’s thin and mushy. Despite record air temperatures, as the sun’s obliquity grows with the onset of winter, surface melting appeared to slow down early, although sub-surface melting continues for some weeks after, as the water beneath remains warm. No-one is quite sure why: aerosol masking from fires is one theory, fresh meltwater from Greenland another. So it looks like we won’t be getting the dreaded “blue water” event this year; but we’re still skating on thin ice.

UK – Wales: A Google search reveals the factoid that the average daily September temperature in the UK is 16.8C, with an average high of 18C. Happily then, in the shade of the enormous Photinia in my front garden, we hit 23.2 degrees at about 2 p.m. this fine, sunny – if still somewhat hazy – afternoon (13 Sept.); and 23.5 the next day. Truly, these are the Fortunate Isles!

World’s largest permafrost river, the Lena at Yakutsk dries to a record low, preventing winter supplies reaching outlying settlements. (Siberian Times)

Tunnel approaching….

“40% of the UK’s food is imported,” notes a parliamentary report. In the very near future, the Environmental Audit Committee says, “people would be at risk from sudden lurches in food prices if a no-deal Brexit resulted in trouble with imports, including higher costs, delays and shortages. Beyond the immediate effects of Brexit, the climate emergency and changing trade relationships may put the British diet in jeopardy.” The committee has called for urgent action to improve resilience, including water rationing, greater diversity in farming and a campaign against food waste.

Mary Creagh, the chair of the committee, said: “We are facing a food security crisis.”

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/17/uk-fresh-food-imports-areas-at-risk-climate-crisis-mps-warn

Meanwhile, the Department for Farming and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, has confirmed we are expecting the first case of African Swine Fever in Britain “within 12 months”. It’s already prevalent in eastern Europe. China has had to slaughter over a million pigs already and has dropped its tariffs against US pork producers to guarantee supply. China consumes half the world’s production, but the country expects to have to cull another 250 million pigs to try to contain the outbreak of what is being described as potentially the world’s worst ever animal disease pandemic. World prices are rising.

…a short essay

“Denialism comes riding on My Little Pony.”

The sheer irrelevance of political journalism

I keep abandoning halfway through, long, thoughtful, worried articles in the kind of liberal press I tend to read, giving tendentious political analysis – Brexit, the Farage party, Johnson, Cummings, shutting down Parliament, whither democracy and the political system?, civil discourse, globalism, Orban, Salvini, street violence, treason, hedge funds, Nazis, Twitter rants, Trump’s chaotic foreign policy, left, right – the rule of law.

Not one of them betrays the slightest awareness of the parallel climate crisis that is hurling itself upon us with ever-increasing velocity, violence – and expense. Not one appears to be aware that an extinction event is already far advanced, of mammalian species, that unfortunately now includes the human race; and that this is a political, as well as a scientific and geophysical conundrum: not, can we now prevent?, but how are we going to manage our own extinction?

Not one journalist seems to understand the connection: that, whatever political systems are in place five years from now, our “leaders” will have to grapple with issues humanity has not had to face in the last 13 thousand years, at least since the cosmic collision event that extincted the northern megafauna – and nearly us too; nor are the “leaders” seemingly capable of factoring those issues into their self-obsessed, narrow-minded, anachronistic ideologies.

It is as if politics and the environment are entirely separate issues proceeding on parallel tracks, with a high wall between.

The author and New York Times contributor, Jonathan Franzen – an expert amateur ornithologist, by the way, who travels the world in search of rare birds, has written a polemic in which he concludes, there is no way out of the situation we have gotten ourselves into.

And a silly little girl claiming to be a “climate scientist”, Kate Marvel writes a reply in the Scientific American, telling Franzen to “shut up”.

After several paragraphs describing the situation exactly as it is: fossil fuel overdependency, feedbacks kicking in, non-linear warming, ice vanishing, levels of CO2 in the amosphere unknown during the 2 million years humans have existed, environmental degradation, etcetera, etcetera, she writes – believe it or not: “I am a scientist, which means I believe in miracles.”

It is gobsmacking stuff. Denialism comes riding on My Little Pony.

That’s the childish, panic-stricken, self-censoring level to which – I won’t call it a debate – scientific discourse has sunk. Franzen’s view is soundly supported by numerous serious scientists, many of whom are being “shut up” by the vested interests for whom truth is an elastic polymer. None, so far as I know, is offering us a “miracle”.

Even where mainstream media journalists do crossover from their political navel-gazing into quasi-scientific environmentalism, not one seems fully apprised of the depth of the hot shit we are now swimming in, or prepared to peer into the abyss. Twelve years, according to the IPCC? Don’t be so fucking naive, we were given 12 years by the UN in 1989!

I could name you all, you sober and sensible political journalists with your furrowed concern for the future of democracy, but why bother? You know who you are. Just wake up and look around, you self-absorbed, incurious boobies.

The totalitarianism and exclusionary nativism you see rising all around us are the direct consequence of a universal but unspoken consciousness that we are fast approaching the end time. We face a fascist-style, dictatorial future, only because kleptocratic authoritarianism is the natural political response to looming dystopian chaos, the collapse of the civilized postwar consensus in which some – for a time – will win, and the rest of us will unfortunately be left to perish.

Populist totalitarianism and exclusionary nativism are – literally – the zeitgeist.

Is it the answer you want?

Then try asking the question. Earn your money.

And now I’ll shut up.

The Pumpkin – Issue 96: The Red President… The madness of King Donald #2… Of course it’s not a coup, silly!… Your average Tory cunt #2… I spy with my little i… GW: A world on fire.

“Prorogation is an exercise of royal prerogative that is tolerable in a modern democracy only insofar as it is ceremonial. Its deployment by a prime minister without an electoral mandate of his own, in pursuit of a partisan agenda for which there is no Commons majority, represents a grotesque abuse of the country’s highest political office.” – Guardian editorial

Your Uncle Bogler had always fancied that “prorogue” meant you were generally in favor of rogues. He cannot understand why Her Majesty didn’t just tell this unelected, narcissistic, Koch-funded buffoon with authoritarian tendencies to get the fuck off her lawn. But then why would the monarch be in favour of smelly old democracy?

“Quick, panic! There’s that terrible human who keeps feeding us!”

The Red President

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell is reporting tonight (27 Aug.) that Deutsche Bank has confirmed to a New York court that they hold several years’ worth of Donald Trump’s tax returns among the “vast trove” of financial asset disclosures he has made to them, many – according to whistleblowers in the bank and on the sworn testimony of former Trump lieutenant, Michael Cohen – dishonestly inflated.

They state that, as Trump has already boasted, he paid “little to no” tax during those years. Whether that makes him “smart”, as he says, or whether it’s merely an indication that he wasn’t earning very much, will no doubt come out in court.

We already know that he mitigated tax for many years through declaring huge losses, while at the same time manipulating the media to convince the American public he was a successful self-made billionaire. We still don’t know if those losses were genuine – you can only make a loss by spending more than you earn, but you still need to earn it in the first place – or if they were merely an accounting fiction and he was salting profits away undeclared somewhere.

O’Donnell however drops a total bombshell.

A private source “close to Deutsche Bank” has claimed that congressional subpoenas requiring the bank to hand over their voluminous records of dealings with Trump name a number of Russian oligarchs as co-signatories to loan applications made by Trump without which, says the source, the bank would not have agreed to lend him the approximately $2 billion he borrowed in the ten years up to his gaining the presidency, on the basis of his terrible credit default history.

(One further clue: when he became the Republican candidate, his Russian backers appear to have rapidly withdrawn to avoid implicating Putin, presumably – and that was when Deutsche Bank refused Trump a $10 million loan.)

Finally, we begin to understand his craven obeisance to the foreign policy whims of Vladimir Putin, the world’s richest man, the supreme oligarch who owns all the other oligarchs; and his refusal to criticize them in any way. They all own Trump, lock, stock and barrel. And many of them, perhaps among Trump’s backers too, are on sanctions lists or FBI wanted lists for racketeering and currency violations.

Ooops.

If true, according to vintage Trumphound and tax specialist, David Cay Johnson, if those signatures are indeed down on paper, the presence of Russian guarantors in Trump’s personal and business banking affairs, perhaps individuals suspected of criminal activities, should be more than enough to secure his immediate removal from office.

Sadly, the world doesn’t work like that.

With the Justice Department totally in his pocket – Attorney General Bill Barr has reportedly just given Trump Organization 30 thousand dollars to host a party at one of Trump’s hotels – and with his drooling imbecile, Mnuchin, at the Treasury, overseeing the Internal Revenue Service and blocking congressional access to Trump’s tax returns – there is no other statutory body at Federal level capable of holding the president to account for financial crimes. No-one, not even Congress can order his arrest.

It is now entirely up to the New York district court to determine whether or not Trump and his immediate family should face criminal charges of money laundering and obtaining loans by false pretences, at state level, where his writ of pardon does not run.

Way to go, guys.

 

The Red-handed President

Would you like to know how evil this sick sonofabitch really is? I urge you to visit this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVDMabhm1tI

 

Exclusive: God tells Trump: “The Universe is not for sale”.
“He’s nasty”, Trump tweeted Thursday. “We need that oil.”

The madness of King Donald #2

Faced with plummeting poll numbers, Trump has ordered his Homeland Security people to get the wall built along the 2,000 miles of the Mexican border at any cost, to feed his dumbfuck base support and please the little yammering faces of the Fox sofa-dwellers before the election.

He says now he wants it “black and shiny and pretty and spiky”. He’s illegally diverted military funds to the project, and is gutting Federal emergency (FEMA) funds as well (In advance of a Cat 4 hurricane heading for Florida). To date, despite what he tells the dumbfucks, not one yard of new wall has been built.

One of the barriers to the wall, as it were, is that a lot of the land is privately owned. He has directed his people to seize the land, illegally by force if necessary, and to defy any adverse zoning or environmental laws – and promised to pardon anyone who is prosecuted for breaking Federal law. Inciting crime is, of course, illegal – and an impeachable offence.

Since that was all reported, he has denied saying anything of the kind, claiming that the insider reporting is fake news.

Trump has ordered his Border Agency people to carry on deporting undocumented migrants without right of appeal, even when they have children undergoing hospital treatment for life-threatening conditions. (See above: The Red-handed President)

Trump’s Environment Protection director, Andrew Wheeler, is relishing a Trump executive order relaxing Obama-era controls on methane emissions from drilling operations, saving the energy industry a paltry $27 million a year. That’s despite objections from Exxon and other big energy corporations who enjoyed the protection the regulations offered against smaller competitors.

Methane is up to 150 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2. The order is expected to add another 2 million tonnes a year to the atmosphere. The NYT reports, Trump and the EPA are looking at rolling-back more than 80 environmental protections, including a prohibition on clear-felling national forests.

At the G7, Trump claimed that he had received a phone call from China – later amended to “two” calls – softening Chairman Xi’s response to US sanctions. The Chinese confirmed, there were no calls. His own Commerce department say they are unaware of any new agreement with China. Trump also announced a new trade deal with Japan, that doesn’t exist. He also claimed that other leaders had been curious to know why the US media coverage of him isn’t more favorable. No-one recalls asking him that.

Trump has claimed for two years that canned former FBI Director, James Comey, is a liar who illegally leaked documents via “a friend” and should be arrested. All his press people have been forced to repeat the same story. Attorney General Barr has now announced that, yes, Comey leaked illegal documents. The DoJ investigation report Barr refers to, however, clearly states there is no evidence whatever to back Trump’s assertion. No, Comey did not leak documents.

Oh, no! Is the White House not telling the truth?

And finally, President Loony-tunes has signed-off a bill to fund a US space cadet force.

 

Of course it’s not a coup, silly.

“The … Weimar Republic was perhaps the world’s most democratic state yet—with free elections, voting rights for all adults (male and female), an independent judiciary, a free press, regional autonomy and elections by proportional representation. … It seemed as though nothing could go wrong.

“Less than 15 years later, the Republic had given way to Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship. Centrally orchestrated propaganda had replaced the free press; all other political parties were dissolved; new Nazi courts had been set up; and all independent institutions bar the church and the army had been transformed into organs of acclamation for the Führer. New treason laws made even telling jokes about his regime punishable by death. Within six years, Hitler launched a world war that killed 50m people, including six million murdered Jews.” – Richard J Evans

An article in Prospect magazine warns us that it may be too late to hear the warning noises. Sir Richard Evans is Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, president of Wolfson College, Cambridge and Fellow of The British Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences. Specializing in 19th- and 20th-century Europe with a focus on Germany, he is the author of The Third Reich Trilogy (2003–2008) that has been hailed as “brilliant” and “magisterial.” (Wikipedia)

Although he is at pains to stress that this is not Weimar redux, principally because it lacks a military dimension, while levels of violence have yet to attain those experienced in the late 1920s and 30s; and while the fear of Communism is nowhere as prevalent, nor the numbers of demobilized and demoralized ex-military conscripts swilling around with experience of violence nearly so great, nevertheless Democracy, Evans writes, is in trouble.

Disillusioned voters are too willing to embrace political outsiders and oddballs who appear to offer something different from the sameold sameold; while Conservative politicians will go along with anyone sufficiently popular to guarantee their place in society – even a funny little Austrian with a ridiculous mustache.

If he’s worried, we all should be.

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/britain-proroging-boris-johnson-parliament-suspension-richard-evans-weimar

 

Your average Tory CUNT (Conservative & Unionist Neo-Thatcherite) #2

“Hancock wrote to parliament on 6 June (the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings), saying that ‘England is the mother of all parliaments – respected as such around the free world. To suspend Parliament explicitly to pursue a course of action against its wishes is not a serious policy of a prime minister in the 21st Century. It goes against everything those men who waded onto those beaches fought & died for – and I will not have it’.” (Edited from Guardian, 29 Aug.)

We look forward to your resignation, Minister.

Self-serving little creep.

Seriously, if the only result of Johnson’s reckless and authoritarian prorogation of Parliament closing down democratic debate on the terms of Brexit were to be to ensure that Nigel Farage and his rump Brexit party of fanatical Leavers – not a political party in reality but a private company* registered to Farage, with hefty membership fees and “dark money” accruing to him personally – don’t get a sniff of being elected in November, then it’s probably worth it.

But we then have to look forward to a newly mandated Johnson explaining why his “exciting and ambitious” reform manifesto involving spending billions of pounds of public money he hasn’t got on bringing back flogging and roly-poly pudding with jam in schools and providing free nannies to upper-class working mothers is not going to happen after all, is all the fault of Brussels, or the last Labour government, or the media, his ex-wife, his current “totty” (his word) or Martians.

And there seems little doubt that we are overdue for another global recession, with our defenses down and no way we can sensibly just print money to buy our way out of it and reward the bankers for failure this time by artificially propping up its value with interest rates at zero so they can spend it on real yachts. The Week reports on America’s savviest investor, Warren Buffet:

“He’s reportedly hoarding a record $122 billion in cash at Berkshire Hathaway Inc., leading to some speculation that he sees a recession on the horizon, or at least is sending some sort of warning. The cash pile is more than half the value of Berkshire’s $208 billion portfolio of public companies, and the only time that percentage has reportedly been higher since 1987 was in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.”

I’ve quoted The Week because Bloomberg has locked me out with no more free articles to pillage, ever, but they’re saying much the same thing. The wealthier the media owner, it seems, the higher the paywall.

We might perhaps consider that if Buffet and the rest of the 0.1% are hoarding all the money and not investing it, the likelihood of a recession is substantially increased. But they’re covered for that.

*It’s a way of avoiding most of the financial accounting obligations and rules on donor transparency imposed by the toothless and, indeed, gormless Electoral Commission.

 

I spy with my little i

In May last year, The Guardian reported that President Trump was refusing to allow the iPhone he uses for monitoring Twitter feeds and spewing out his insane tweets to be scanned for bugs and evidence of hacking, because it was “too inconvenient” to be without it.

Google’s in-house Spot-the-Hacker team has today revealed details of mass hacking operations that have been affecting, specifically, iPhone users for over two years, deploying more than a dozen separate pieces of malware to obtain intimate details of passwords, conversations, financial records, lookups and locations.

No source of the hacking has been revealed.

Lock him up?

 

GW: A world on fire

If you’re wondering why the weather isn’t even hotter, given the increase in CO2, maybe this should concentrate the mind.

Global News, Canada reported (16 Aug.):

“…Smoke from British Columbia’s wildfires in 2017 is helping scientists model the potential impacts of nuclear war on the Earth’s climate, says a study from Rutgers University. The enormous plume of smoke formed the largest cloud of its kind ever observed, which circled the Northern Hemisphere, says the study … in the peer-reviewed academic journal Science. The cloud, called a pyrocumulonimbus, formed over the wildfire and sent black carbon high into the atmosphere … The wildfire smoke cloud contained 0.3 million U.S. tons of soot, while a nuclear war between the United States and Russia could generate 150 million tons.

In other words, these huge regional wildfires all over the planet will be creating a global dimming effect like a nuclear winter for several years. But don’t be fooled – without the smoke, which you can clearly observe in the haze even on blue-sky days or feel in the muted warmth of the sun, and occasionally even smell here in sunny Boglington-on-Sea, on the UK’s west coast – we’d be looking at 2 or even 3 degrees of warming above the 1880-1990 average this year.

For then, of course, you’ll need to consider how much CO2 the vanishing forests aren’t absorbing, and how much they’re giving up (and poisonous CO) when they burn, and how much less oxygen we’re breathing; how the precipitating soot is blackening Arctic ice and glaciers, melting them faster; how particulate pollution increases rainfall, and how the global dimming will reduce crop yields, while you slowly drown in misery and alcohol (drink up while stocks last).

Anyway…

Alaska: Despite starting early, this year’s fires in British Columbia have burned 1,300 Ha less forest than last year. To the northwest, however, travel site Afar reports: “several fires are burning in some of south-central Alaska’s most popular tourist areas: The two largest fires are the McKinley Fire and the Swan Lake Fire (157,000 acres), and several smaller outbreaks are causing concern throughout the region.” Air quality is generally terrible and some highways remain closed.

Africa: Wildfires in Central and Southern Africa and on the island of Madagascar may be consuming twice the area of forest as the Brazilian rainforest fires, which have been exacerbated by drought as the forest is no longer producing its own misty microclimate of rain. Or maybe not, as they are mostly caused by small farmers burning off grassland and stubble, so perhaps it’s not so bad. Just a mass of red on a satellite image. Huge fires however continue to burn in Brazil’s forested neighbor, Bolivia – and in Australia, despite the cold, wet, windy winter, where over 100 fires are burning – in Tasmania to the south and up in Papua New Guinea to the north.

Soon these Siberian reindeer will die and nobody is quite sure why, but thousands already have. Herders blame a vaccination program against anthrax, whose spores are being released by thawing of the permafrost, for weakening the animals’ resistance to winter hunger when increasing rainfall creates a barrier of ice over the snow covering the mosses they eat.

Russia: Water levels in the Lena River, a major Siberian waterway, have dropped so far owing to a persistent heatwave and drought that the economy of the region is beginning to suffer. At 2.5 meters below normal, Siberian Times reports:

“The current water level means critical delays in the summer ritual delivering vital supplies to Arctic settlements in Yakutia, Russia’s biggest region. … traffic flow … has been halted for weeks due to the low level of the longest river flowing entirely within Russia. In regional capital Yakutsk the water dropped so suddenly that hundreds of cargo ships and smaller boats were left stranded. Elsewhere along the river fishermen complained about an extremely low catch, saying that for days they were coming back home with empty buckets.”

The shortage of water also means less is available for firefighting. Siberian Times again:

“Territory covered with wildfires across Russia has reached its peak for the year so far, with some 5.4 million hectares ablaze mostly in Siberia and the country’s far east. The total land destroyed by flames will soon exceed 2018 with weeks of the burning season still to go. The immense scale of the fires is highlighted by the fact that so far this year some 14.9 million hectares has been destroyed by burning. (An area the size of Bangladesh.) Smoke from wildfires has covered an area larger than the European Union.” While firefighters have been able to access less than 10% of the areas on fire, and water is being described as more expensive than Champagne.

Europe: Copernicus reports, “more than 1,600 wildfires have been recorded in the European Union so far this year — more than three times the average over the past decade. The rise in the number of blazes has reduced to ashes more than 271,000 hectares — 100,000 more than the average burnt (annually) over the same period during the last decade.” (EuroNews)

Japan: “Daily downpours inundating parts of western Japan in the coming days will raise the risk of flooding and mudslides. The (“unprecedented”) downpours began on Tuesday, and are expected to continue into Friday before diminishing in intensity this weekend. The hardest-hit areas from Tuesday into Wednesday night were across northwestern Kyushu where more than 500 mm (20-in) was reported in Hirado.” (Accuweather) Rainfall rates locally were as high as 4-in. per hour. At least 3 deaths were reported as cars were swept away. “900,000 people have been ordered to evacuate across Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki prefectures as of Wednesday.”

USA: Tropical Storm, now Hurricane Dorian has been pounding the US Virgin Islands (but skirted Puerto Rico) and is now aiming at Florida, where forecasters think it might arrive over the Labor Day weekend at Cat 4 hurricane strength. Once across Florida and into the Gulf, they fear it might intensify even further into next week. They’re already evaluating potential damage at $1 bn+. A strong Tropical Storm, Erin is moving up parallel to the East Coast, with its worst impacts due to be felt in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Accuweather also reports:

“Record highs dating back to the 1940s will be in jeopardy across the southwestern United States as intense heat builds into the Labor Day weekend. While average high temperatures start trending down at this point in the season most years, this weekend will feel more like the middle of summer due to widespread highs in the 90s, 100s and 110s F.”

One persistent hotspot rapidly becoming uninhabitable is Phoenix, Az, where a powerful out-of-town lobby funded by Koch Industries’ dirty money has reportedly been working to prevent the water-stressed desert city extending its light railway network, in favor of having more polluting cars. (Yes, these people are criminally insane. Next?) Hopefully, a proposition that would have required “terminating all construction, development, extension, and expansion of” light rail has been thrown out by a massive majority in a local referendum. (Streetsblog/Guardian and others)

Happily, David Koch died last week. Your Gran wonders idly if he’s being cremated, just as a final contribution to global warming – and when possibly older brother Charles might follow him down to hell? That’s if he doesn’t roast in the one he’s been making for us up here.

Tunnel approaching….

Yellowstone: Trees killed in a new surface “hotspot” zone that has appeared in recent weeks have been turned to charcoal, according to USGS park scientist Michael Poland; suggesting anoxic heating owing to rising gases. Strong harmonic tremors, microquakes, ground uplift and gas seepage are all continuing. Steamboat geyser, the biggest in the park, whose long-term average eruption cycle is about three a year, has gone off for the 33rd time in 2019, beating the previous record of 32 set during the whole of last year. A number of fires are burning in the park, as yet covering a few tens of acres. (Mary Greeley)

Brazil: Forget the rainforest. After he was elected, the filthy corporatist Bolsonaro junta in Brazil immediately set about lifting restrictions on the use of agrichemicals such as neonicotinoid “pesticides” banned in Europe. Almost 300 products have been licensed or relicensed since the beginning of the year, many new and untested.

Simultaneously, Brazilian bee keepers have reported a massive die-off of honeybees this summer: over half a billion bees are thought to have been poisoned in a catastrophe similar to the colony collapse disorder reported in the USA and other countries around the world.

Ironically, reports Guardian Green Light, the important soya crop for which Bolsonaro is insanely burning the Amazon rainforest to grow and sell to the Chinese, is bee-pollinated.

Let’s see for how long, shall we.

(Your Gran is starting to suspect that the many bees she finds staggering about on the ground each spring may well be victims of local sports groundkeepers’ enthusiasm for pristine surfaces. No arable agricultural explanation is to hand in this region for the collapse in bee numbers, but there are many acres of cricket, soccer and rugby pitches in our little valley.)

(Possibly an encouraging sign, some funds are beginning to disinvest in Brazil while a few international companies have suspended trading.)

The Seven Ages of Dominic Cummings… The party’s uber… So, what are we doing about it?… GW: how do you like your people, fried or boiled?… A BogPo early bird” special hatches.

Quote of the day

“You know you’re getting old when you’ve got so many pairs of glasses, you don’t know which ones to put on next.” – Uncle Bogler, in a moment of confusion.

 

Dominic Cummings before the Brexit campaign of 2016, a gleam in his studently eye as he imagines Britain becoming the 51st state of the USA and himself as President.

Rapidly shedding his hair, Dominic Cummings becomes the mastermind of the Leave campaign and is hauled up by a Parliamentary committee to explain the funding anomalies.

Suffering macular degeneration, Dominic Cummings moves into Downing Street as a special advisor with Johnson as funny premier and announces meetings will start at 07.55, not 08.00.

August 2019, and Dominic Cummings is beginning to resemble his own, long-dead grandfather. Does he have dementia as well, is the question the BogPo is all asking?

The Seven Ages of Dominic Cummings (With apologies to the owners of the original photographs, which I am using purely for educational purposes. Everyone on this site knows I get paid sweet F.A. for doing this.)

“Sans eyes, sans teeth, sans taste, sans everything.”

How does a guy age so fast in just a few years, that it looks like he’s playing Shakespeare’s “Seven ages of man” speech on speed, to get to the ending before he pegs it?

Anyway, he’s on stage now, playing Iago to Johnson’s Falstaff, to mix one’s plays up. It’s clearly a very stressful job being the Boris-whisperer. (I refer of course to Angela Merkel’s holiday reading, a book about tyrants in Shakespeare’s plays.)

Or could it possibly be that he has a wasting disease?

Like, wasting our money?

Or wasting the United Kingdom.

We should be told.

Sorry, Sir, I can’t let you in. Your pass is age-expired.

The party’s uber

It’s not only national governments that seem to be losing the plot, as the world ends, not with a bang, but with an air-conditioning breakdown.

Uber, the famous ride-sharing company, one of whose directors recently paid $72 million he clearly hasn’t got, for a splendid mansion in Los Angeles to add to his collection, is spaffing money faster than you can hail a cab: nearly $7 billion has been blown out of the exhaust already this year and there’s no sign of it ending.

But fear not! Echoing the optimism, both of the splendidly named Energy Mutodi, see previous post Pumpkin #94, and of Herr Johnson, already Britain’s latest candidate for Worst Conservative Prime Minister since Lord North lost the Americas, Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi gibbered:

“We think that 2019 will be our peak investment year and we think that 2020, 2021, you’ll see losses come down,” he told CNBC. “I think our breakeven is something that we can push the company to break even if we really wanted to, frankly. No doubt in my mind that the business will eventually be a break-even and profitable business.”

Rumours of a new Uber service, enabling us to hail a flying pig on demand, are probably true.

(Report: Vanity Fair)

 

So, what are we doing about it?

The Washington Post records today that:

“For the fifth consecutive weekend, protesters massed in Moscow, clamoring for opposition candidates to be allowed on the ballot for municipal elections next month — as well as for the release of hundreds of demonstrators … detained by authorities in the previous weeks.”

While:

“For the tenth consecutive weekend, protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong, dodging tear gas fired by security forces. … They are defending political freedoms they think are under threat and demanding broader democratic reforms.”

Those are brave people speaking out against the authoritarian repression of would-be dictators Putin and Xi. They come in tens of thousands, but many have been injured or even killed, many hundreds more snatched off the street and thrown in gaol, facing imprisonment and even beatings.

And what are we in Britain doing about the threat to our democracy created by Brexit and the Johnson cabal?

Having nice thoughts. Going shopping. Flocking abroad (airlines permitting) or to the coast on holiday.

The Guardian reports that:

“Green MP, Caroline Lucas, has thrown down the gauntlet to 10 high-profile female politicians over blocking a no-deal Brexit, proposing a cabinet of national unity (composed entirely of women MPs from across the political spectrum).”

And that:

“Britons have spent £4bn stockpiling goods. … One in five people are already hoarding food, drinks and medicine, spending an extra £380 each. … About 800,000 people have spent more than £1,000 building up stockpiles before the 31 October Brexit deadline.”

So instead of stopping it, or reversing it, hundreds of thousands of us are preparing simply to hunker down and live with it; voting with our credit cards.

Lucas makes the telling point, that the former Vote Leave! campaign team is now in complete control of the government and making threats to prorogue Parliament if MPs continue to refuse to let Britain crash out of the EU, not only without a deal (preventing further trade talks with 27 EU states), but also reneging on our existing financial commitments to the group (ensuring a credit-drubbing from Standard & Poors and the IMF).

So much for regaining our sovereignty. The BogPo has been “Remoaning”, literally now for years, that the sovereignty Brexiteers like Irish-Mogg, Duncan Cunt and Farage* were telling people we would be regaining was theirs, not ours. But did anyone listen?

Our government is entirely sure the worst is going to happen. They’re planning for it, stockpiling food and medicines again and proposing to draft in thousands more police and bureaucrats, find another ten thousand prison places and put the army on the streets.

What is this, fucking South America? (Venezuelan-style power blackouts becoming the norm.)

And we’re just sitting here, watching the neofascists taking over, perched atop our little mountains of canned fish and Pot Noodle, smiling and nodding gently. Oh look, they’ve started casting Strictly!

And what are the millionaires doing? Well, apparently, importing luxury German cars as fast as they can, before the EU slaps a 32% tariff on them.

But don’t worry, it’s only Project Fear, my dears.

“My, Grandma, what big teeth you have!” ** (12 Aug.)

** Farage is now doomed. He’s been caught badmouthing the Queen Mother, Britain’s most revered royal of the last century. But will the Daily Mail run the story?

**  “Emboldened leavers have denigrated their pro-European rivals for crying wolf ever since. That jibe resonates with voters who want to believe that Brexit can be a success, although it is worth remembering that in the original fable there was, in the end, a real wolf.” – Guardian, 14 Aug.

Is someone on The Grauniad a-readin’ my li’l bogl, I wonder?

 

“There is no question Arctic people are now showing symptoms of anxiety, ‘ecological grief’ and even post-traumatic stress related to the effects of climate change.” – Courtney Howard, president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (Guardian Green Light)

 

GW: how do you like your people, fried or boiled?

India: “The death toll from flooding caused by torrential monsoon rains in India has risen to at least 200. Dozens more have died in Myanmar and Pakistan. Days of pounding rain have claimed at least 72 lives in hard hit Kerala state, India Today reported. Another 97 people have died in the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

In northern India, ‘at least’ 34 people died in a landslide in the state of Uttarakhand. Dozens of people are missing. ‘Several houses are still covered under 10-12 feet of deep mud. This is hampering rescue work,’ Kerala’s Chief Minister said.” More than 165,000 people have fled their homes for relief camps. The Weather Channel reports, some places have had 2 feet of rain in less than a week. 14 Aug.: Odisha had more than 600mm of rain in 24 hours (Floodlist).

“Downpours have also inundated much of Pakistan where at least 17 people have died. 7 people were electrocuted and 3 others killed when a roof collapsed in the southern city of Karachi, AP reported. 5 people died in a flash flood and another 2 were electrocuted in Punjab province, according to AP.” (The Weather Channel) 14 Aug.: At least 12 people have died after heavy monsoon rainfall in Khyber Province. (Floodlist).

In Myanmar, 53 people were killed and 47 rescued as landslides forced thousands from their homes on Sunday, CNN reported. The flooding has damaged over 4 thousand homes, according to Global New Light of Myanmar.

China: “At least 44 people have been killed and 9 others are missing in eastern China since Cat 3 Typhoon Lekima made landfall, Saturday 10 Aug. Most of the lives were lost in a tragic event, triggered by Lekima, in a village in Zhejiang’s Yongjia County. After a landslide initially blocked a river, water built up and then broke through the earthen dam. The roughly 120 people in the village did not have time to safely evacuate before the floodwaters swept downstream.” (Accuweather)

Japan: A report on EcoWatch cites Japan Times as reporting 57 heat-related deaths and over 18 thousand hospitalizations, 7 Aug., as the result of a fierce heatwave that’s affected the country for days. The Japan Times website today is reporting however only that they’re expecting Typhoon Krosa. The national agency is “warning of torrential rain and strong winds along the Pacific coast of eastern and western Japan as early as Tuesday.” (13 Aug.) 2 fishermen and a 9-year-old boy have already been killed by high waves ahead of the typhoon.

Meanwhile, The Mainichi was reporting at the weekend: “At least 162 people have died from confirmed or suspected heatstroke in Japan this summer (2/3rds of them indoors) amid punishing hot temperatures following the end of the rainy season.”

USA: Will it ever stop? “Portions of the midwestern United States are expected to deal with rounds of thunderstorms, which may pose a threat for flooding, damaging winds, hail and even isolated tornadoes into Monday night. The same storm that unleashed damaging thunderstorms and several tornadoes across the High Plains to end the weekend will be responsible for triggering the severe weather across the Midwest to start the week.” (Accuweather)

Meanwhile a heatwave with wetbulb temperatures (heat + humidity) possibly hitting 115 deg. F. is building over the southeastern states – and Alaska just declared its hottest July ever: “Four of the top 10 warmest single months on record (all Julys) has been set in just the past four years”, marvels Wunderground. (Go on, you work it out!)

Quote of the Week… The Brexit Dividend… The cloud of unknowing… Good buy?… GW: It’s a-blowin’ an’ a soakin’ an’ a bakin’ an’ a shakin’ kinda week.

“Arse Attacks!” Downing Street special advisor, Dominic Cummings chairs a meeting of Brexit waverers in the Earthling Premier Johnson’s cabinet.

Quote of the week

“Trump is a cultural revolutionary, not a policy revolutionary. He operates and is subtly changing America at a much deeper level. He’s operating at the level of dominance and submission, at the level of the person where fear stalks and contempt emerges.

“He’s redefining what you can say and how a leader can act. He’s reasserting an old version of what sort of masculinity deserves to be followed and obeyed. In Freudian terms, he’s operating on the level of the id. In Thomistic terms, he is instigating a degradation of America’s soul.”*

– Conservative David Brooks, in the New York Times, explaining why the Democrats with their inability to get beyond economic technocracy have no answer to the darker psychological forces raised by the Trump phenomenon. http://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/01/opinion/debate-marianne-williamson.html

Brooks quotes the only Democratic candidate he thinks “gets it”, the “wackadoodle” (because she expresses non-religious spiritual values. Conservatives!), the extremely hot (when you’re my age….) Marianne Williamson in last weekend’s debate:

“If you think any of this wonkiness** is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.”

They’re not the only ones. Driven by the evil genius of mighty Mekon, Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s hard-Brexit ideologues are fully signed up to the UK becoming an integral part of the neo-Cons’ Reaganite “American Project for the 21st Century”, continuing and deepening the revolution begun in 1980s Britain under Thatcher.

A territory free of annoying regulation. Free ports. A tax-free shelter. A haven for international speculators and gangster-capitalists.

Trump in all his pomp and senile eccentricity is merely a mild irritation, a traffic hump in the road. The project is founded on three principles: low taxes for the rich operating unshackled in a free market; minimal governance emphasizing individual responsibility and zero State interference in public welfare; the preeminence of the Christian religion, supposedly as a moral force for unity.

Through his Republican enablers, if Trump promises to deliver those three principles his (many and base) worse instincts – of selfishness, greed, wilful ignorance, laziness, casual racism – a love of puerile and vindictive, provocative insult – of sowing fear, hatred and division – his instinct for bullying authoritarianism and pathological attention-seeking – his essential cowardice and moral vacuum, his total lack of human empathy can all be overlooked.

If you care to read the neocon manifesto, btw, it’s here, in all its serious-sounding reasonableness:

https://publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu/academics/content/amproj-a-way-forward.pdf

*It’s a pretty good definition of fascism. (UB)

**By which she means ideas formulated by “policy wonks”, not the lopsidedness implied in Brit-speak. Ed.)

 

The Brexit Dividend

Alan Winters, Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at Sussex University and his colleagues have produced some interesting data showing where the most and fewest jobs are likely to disappear in the aftermath of a no-deal Brexit.

Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, at a casual glance the highest numbers seem to be most closely associated with the constituencies having the most Leave voters. Watch out, if you live and used to work in Leicestershire, it looks like!

Winters makes the point that while you may lose only a few jobs in one constituency, because most people travel in to work from other constituencies the effect is more spread-out than government figures suggest:

“A ‘no-deal’ Brexit would imply a shock equivalent to losing some 42,400 jobs in the parliamentary constituency of Cities of London and Westminster. However, 41,250 of these jobs are held by people who live elsewhere. At the other extreme, Streatham may suffer a loss equivalent to 650 of its jobs, but around 2,250 of Streatham’s residents would lose their employment.”

He estimates a total loss of 750,000 jobs (conservatively, about half the number implied by the government’s own published prognostications). “Once we look at Brexit on a residence basis, we see that its economic costs are … far more widespread than one would guess from the pattern of employment around the UK in terms of workplaces.” That’s because people tend to spend their money where they live, rather than where they work.

Yet again, we have been warned. And it appears from the lavish “spaff-the-cash” we supposedly haven’t got, pre-election giveaways announced by the undisciplined fantasist and unicorn jockey, Johnson, that Project No-Fear is going to cost us a lot, lot more than Project Fear.

Already, the boot has been going in, just in case no-deal turns out to be the predicted disaster and we need somebody to blame. Michael Gove has been doing a Trumpian reverse-ferret on observable reality, moaning that those bastardly Europeans are unreasonably refusing to negotiate another leave deal on our terms.

But we already have a leave deal, and it’s the one they’re reasonably sticking to, because it’s already been negotiated – and that took the best part of two-and-a-half years. Why change it, just to help Johnson beat Farage in the upcoming election? They’re both insufferable, lying egotists, a pair of sloppy, incompetent huxters better out than in.

So who to blame, eh?

Postscriptum

The Daily Mail today, 14 Aug., is front-page hailing the Brexit jobs dividend: more than a million people, mostly women have got into work since the referendum – despite “Project Fear”.

It might not have occurred to the wallies at the Mail that you only have to have one hour’s work a week nowadays to be considered fully employed. Most of those women will be in insecure or temporary, low-paid, part-time work, unable to afford childcare or even, in many cases, food and rent.

Others will have been bullied into whatever employment they can bear to take – even prostitution – by the threat of crippling benefit sanctions of the kind thoroughly approved by the Daily Mail‘s aging Tory readership – the Johnson voter base.

Nor have they noticed, we’re still in the EU.

 

“Life is nasty, British and short.”

The cloud of unknowing

Johnson is spending £100 million of our money to tell us how great it’s going to be when we leave the EU on 31st October on his terms, with or without a deal.

That’s £91 million more public money than the Leave campaigners were moaning the Cameron government spent on leaflets inadequately govsplaining the in-out choice facing the electorate in 2016.

People who quite rightly don’t believe him are struggling to make our voices heard.

How on earth can we get through to “ordinary people” to tell them what’s really going on, when they’ve been conditioned not to believe us?

The people who identify with the image of themselves as The People – a kind of many-headed superhero – voluntarily keep themselves in ignorance because, to them, to know what is going on is to be one of the enemy. Instead, they are a Wise People, a sturdy yeomanry that can trust its own instincts to make correct decisions.

What, without basing them on any real-world information?

To know what is going on requires a degree of dedication to the basic art of understanding who is telling you the truth, who is distracting you, from what – and who is merely lying.

And why. Which at least to some of us is pretty obvious.

How many people who voted Leave knew, for instance, what is a hedge fund, what it does, how its partners make their millions?

Do they understand that every time Johnson opens his mouth to lie that the EU is preventing us from doing a deal that will deliver everything The People think they want, 24-hour Love Island with free lottery wins every week, the pound falls on the international market and hedge-fund managers make millions from betting against it?

I don’t mean do they understand how that happens, I’m not sure myself. I’d be rich if I knew how this stuff works. I mean, do they even know that it is going on? That hedge funds can literally bet their clients’ money on which of two flies on a window pane will reach the top, or which will fly away first, because they’ve rigged their own market to win either way?

These patriots are betting high stakes that the British currency, the British economy, British businesses will fail. That common names like the Post Office, Debenhams, Autotrader will fail. Whole markets, worth billions, have been built on this deception.

And do The People know how much money hedge fund managers have poured into rigging the Brexit vote; how much money they pour into the coffers of sympathetic politicians, urging the hardest possible Brexit, and why?

Probably not. It’s hard to see The Daily Mail leading with the news that Boris Johnson’s friend and financial backer, Crispin Odey, has just trousered another $100 million betting that the pound would go down, on Boris’ alarming statements that the government is fully committed to leave the EU on 31 October, deal or no-deal.

But he has. It’s called “shorting” the market. They’re all at it! The more they bet, the further they can move the market in their favor. And many of these people are sitting around the cabinet table.

The Eye reports this issue, Chancellor Sajid Javid funded his Tory leadership campaign from donations approaching a quarter of a million pounds, including £40 thousand from Horizon Asset Management – a hedge fund based in the Cayman Islands – a tax shelter. Other leading Tories have been schmoozed with free trips to the Caymans in the hope of averting tighter regulation on this open tax loophole for the rich.

Should we wonder why they thought it was worth spending that much money on an outsider, against whom the poll had already been rigged in favor of Johnson?

Do The People understand that Boris Johnson – I use the name figuratively, as a brand for a certain type of businessman/politician, of whom his cabinet is exclusively made up – is part of a widespread conspiracy of very wealthy people to deliberately rig the financial markets, the stock markets and the tax regime in their favor?

How would they understand? They will not trust the “elites” to tell them. But who else knows?

Would they even connect a suspicion that some people are doing rather well out of Brexit uncertainty, with the fact that a tiny fraction of the party had pre-elected Johnson to be the Prime Minister, and openly rigged it to ensure he came up against the weakest possible candidate, Hunt? They may not like it, they may mutter in bus queues, they suspect corruption and conniving – they always do – but as they don’t know how or why it happens there’s nothing they can do about it, except blame people worse off or darker-complexioned than themselves.

The sources they trust don’t tell them about this sort of thing. He’s just good old Boris, bit of a clown but obviously a clever chap. Whose actual name is Alexander. Or dePfeffel. Or Kemal.

Would they even know, for instance, that the new Chancellor – he’s the bloke in charge of the economy – Sajid Javid, was for 12 years a senior executive at one of the most corrupt banks in the world, Deutsche Bank, that has paid over $16 billion in fines for money laundering and interest-rate fixing?

The bank that lent Donald Trump $2 billion, even though he lied about his assets, had a zero credit rating with a history of six or seven bankruptcies and loan defaults totalling $millions? Even though he had been red-flagged as a possible money-launderer? No collusion there.

And that while Javid was at Deutsche, despite many warnings, our new Chancellor was responsible for plugging the same bad-debt US mortgage products (“collateralized debt obligations”) that almost brought down the entire banking system in 2007, that we are still paying for?

Do they see that connection, that the banking crash brought about their benefit cuts, the “two-child” policy, or are they happy to go on believing the pernicious lie that it was somehow all the fault of Gordon Brown, and that Tony Blair letting in all those immigrants has made them poorer?

Javid makes great play of his lowly origins as the son of an immigrant Pakistani bus driver. He must have lost a lot of sleep over Theresa May’s anti-immigrant policies, that as Home Secretary he was happy to carry out. I guess he’s less proud of how he became a millionaire, or he’d talk about it more.

In order to understand, The People would need to read and view certain publications they associate only with the enemy. Clever people. Educated people. Posh people. Intellectuals. The elite.

Publications they’re taught to believe aren’t for them.

And there’s the rub, as someone once wrote. Because those publications – The Guardian, the Financial Times, Private Eye, The New Statesman – websites like Bloomberg, Huffington Post, Forbes, the New York Times, Open Democracy, the Daily Beast – there are plenty of them – are the only places people can find the information they need to understand, the stories that will tell them what is really going on.

Because the journalists who are mostly not well-paid to report for those publications are the ones who are discovering and reporting exactly what this Thing, this conspiracy of the rich, is really doing.

It’s only by reading their reports that we can slowly piece together what has been going on, how the rich have tried to weaken the EU by splitting away Britain, that has several low-tax dominions where they shelter their money, like the Caymans, Bermuda, the Virgin Islands and Channel Islands, that were threatened with tighter regulation.

The others, the publications and broadcasts designed for the ordinary man and woman in the street, that the ordinary people believe are created for them, that safeguard their culture and play to their gallery, to their prejudices, have for years been peddling a totally different, false image of reality.

Because they are owned and influenced by the same goddamned people who are making all the money!

We can assume that, as most people who consider themselves “ordinary” don’t visit those more erudite and revealing sources, believing them to be the haunt of the elite, for intellectuals only, “experts”, people they have been taught to distrust, “serious” people, metropolitan liberals, they will understand only whatever it is they are being told to understand by sources they believe are for them.

Inasmuch as they even care.

In those publications, they see people a lot like themselves, a little bit feckless, a little bit “hey!”, only with money, permatans and and publicity agents, having a great laugh, with lots of sex, divorces and beach time. People they see on the TV, in magazines at the hair salon, on Instagram. People who are their friends! They want to have a great time too. And why not? Life is nasty, British and short.

The popular media has, either cleverly or accidentally, meshed with social media to convince most people that they are living in an alternate reality, a virtual soap opera of heightened daily drama, glamor, heartbreak and incurious trivia in which they are the main players; but which has no connection with what is really being done to them; how the world really is.

The ever-unfolding nonsense about the “rival duchesses” and their production-line of “loveable” royal babies diverts us, as if we’re still living in the 1880s. The endless hammering on the themes of British “John Bull” exceptionalism; of foreign duplicity and the threat of criminal migrants swamping our “culture” ratchets up the fear and hatred.

It’s an astonishingly successful ploy on the part of the wealthy elite, to convince such an enormous mass of the increasingly downtrodden public that they have common interests, while those who question their rapacious amoral behavior are branded as traitors and Trotskyite rabble-rousers.

How on earth do you get through to the majority of the people, the understanding that they’re being screwed, how, why and by whom, if the means of doing so are controlled by the screwers?

How do you explain to a young man who, apparently, pushes a total stranger’s four-year-old child off the top-floor balcony of a public art gallery, that to welcome a foreign visitor speaking another language in a cosmopolitan city is not somehow an act of national betrayal?

A former treasury minister told BBC Radio 4 (another elite source, not for the plebs) last week, that hedge fund managers would be looking at Britain currently “almost as a free lunch”.

Radio 1 listeners would not have heard that.

Radio 1 listeners and many, many others would not have understood the reference.

And that’s the problem, and the damaging paradox. Few people would. Not much news about hedge fund managers ever penetrates the inside pages of The Sun, unless they are caught in a sex scandal; which, nowadays, they rarely are. Money talks.

But the “will” of The People is nevertheless sovereign.

That’s something else they’ve been happy to be convinced of, by cynical opportunists grabbing the last of whatever they can get:

They have free will.

 

Good buy?

Private Eye reports, Johnson was handed £16,876 as a whatever, parting gift, redundancy payment, gratuity, when he resigned the post of Foreign Secretary last year, a bravura performance in which he had notoriously been an incompetent buffoon and a national embarrassment.

He had held the post for only a few months, and now of course he is straight back in through the ever-revolving door, on whatever salary we think a Prime Minister is worth. For him, it’s a pay cut, although it has resolved at least temporarily his homelessness problem and is saving his mistress rent.

Of course, to a man who described his £275 thousand a year fee for churning out one semi-automatic 500-word column a week for The Telegraph as “chicken feed”, a handout of £16,876 wouldn’t even look like quail feed. He probably hasn’t bothered to cash the check yet, it’ll be somewhere on the floor of his car.

It seems like quite a lot to me, I live quite well on a little under £14 thousand a year, and provide my Spammers, Likers, Followers, etc. a carefully composed minimum of four thousand words a week, many of them rude, entirely free.

 

Theft Grand Auto

Motor theft insurance claim payouts hit their highest level in seven years at the start of 2019.

Which? Magazine reports that many of the smart new ‘keyless’ cars, some costing many tens of thousands of pounds, can be hacked into in less than a minute.

My car can never be hacked into. Who would want to steal a ten-year-old Citroën Berlingo… diesel?

The key is worth more than the car.

The world is watching… Lekima and Krosa make a pair of spectacles in the West Pacific.

GW: It’s a-blowin’ an’ a soakin’ an’ a bakin’ an’ a shakin’ kinda week.

UK and Ireland: “A large low is deepening over the Atlantic, southwest of the British Isles and Ireland today. It will reach a central pressure around or slightly below 980 mbar as it tracks towards Ireland tomorrow (9 Aug.). It will bring severe to extremely severe winds (and up to 200mm rain) to open seas SW of the British Isles and locally severe winds to parts of the British Isles, Ireland and the coast of the Bay of Biscay. Also expect thunderstorms and locally excessive rainfall.” (Severe-weather.eu) PS – this is not entirely normal for early August.

South-central and eastern Europe will experience another 35-40C heatwave this weekend, according to Severe-weather.eu. But only for four days, after which an unusually cold spell is forecast. Great, as your Gran heads to France later in the week and finds this heat quite enervating. That, or the wine.

West Pacific: “Lekima and Krosa are two typhoons in the western Pacific (Cats 4 and 3 respectively at time of writing) that are expected to bring heavy rain, strong winds and a significant storm surge to the north of Taiwan, eastern China and southern Japan over the next few days.” (BBC) “Impacts will next be felt across Taiwan going into Friday as the typhoon passes northward. Before doing so, Lekima will still have the opportunity to strengthen more.” (Accuweather) Over 150 mm (6 inches) of rain was reported in Guam from Friday through Wednesday evening. Krosa is also expected to intensify.

Reminding you, southern Japan was hit by yet another Typhoon earlier in the week. Cat 1, “Francisco made landfall in southern Japan as a typhoon Tuesday morning local time, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. More than 15 inches of rain soaked the Tokushima Prefecture.” (Wunderground)

No-one seems even slightly fazed by this, but your Gran has never seen anything like it in ‘er life. How often do you get three in three days?

USA: “Severe thunderstorms, a tornado and widespread flooding delivered a jolt up and down the Northeast part of the country on Wednesday. Before cooler, less humid air plunges into the northeastern United States, interior areas will first be threatened by potentially damaging thunderstorms on Thursday.”(Accuweather) “For residents in the southern Plains and Texas who have not had to deal with any spells of extreme heat so far this summer, a ridge of high pressure will position itself over Texas into early next week, allowing the hot air (100F-plus) that has been baking the western United States to spill farther east into the southern Plains. (Oh, and after May-May, June-June, now July-July is still the wettest year in US records (1894).

RIP, El Niño. The NOAA has declared the end of the weak warming event in the Pacific that began last November. They don’t yet know if there’s another one on the way, or if we’re due a new La Niña.

Tunnel approaching…

Going viral: “A fresh case of African Swine Fever (ASF) has been discovered in Slovakia in a village near the Hungarian border. It was found five kilometres from the initial outbreak, which occurred two weeks ago. (Contiguous culling has begun.) Meanwhile, nearly 130,000 pigs have been slaughtered in Bulgaria. Three hundred cases were reported in Romania in July.” (Euronews, 07 August)

The Economist reports that 200 million pigs may have to be culled in China by the year end, as the disease is raging out of control and has 90% lethality. The economics of that are alarming. As yet, no pig-to-human transmission has been found. But you know viruses.

Pigs in space: Another close fly-by is anticipated this weekend. The Blessed Mary Greeley reports: “The asteroid, which is known as 2006 QQ23, measures up to 1,870 feet in diameter, thus making it larger (taller, surely? Ed.) than New York’s Empire State Building. (The asteroid) will make its closest approach to Earth on August 10 at 3:23am EDT.” It’s one of six large objects NASA is tracking, heading toward us. None is expected to hit. This time.

Funny how she trusts NASA on asteroids, but continues to imagine the well-known space agency is seriously proposing to pump water into the magma chamber of Yellowstone to try to cool it down! 11 Grand Canyons’ worth at 1000C, sure.

Shaking all over: As 140mph Typhoon Lekima approaches, a shallow M6.0 earthquake (07 August) rocked northern Taiwan causing widespread minor damage, setting off rockfalls that blocked roads. Several injuries and 1 fatality. A few hours later, southwestern Turkey experienced a shallow (10km) M5.8 (USGS) quake near the city of Denizli (other sources say up to M6.5). Some injuries are reported and buildings collapsed.

Global Warning: “The climate may be more sensitive to increases in greenhouse gases than we realized, according to a new generation of climate models.” It’s “a troubling sign that future warming and related impacts could be even worse than expected.

“One of the new models saw a 35% … rise in global temperature … as the atmosphere adjusts to an instantaneous doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide … of 5.3°C (9.5°F).” (Bob Henson, Wunderground, 9 Aug.)

Even with a faltering El Niño current, “July 2019 global temperature was on a par with, and possibly marginally higher than, that of July 2016 (WMO).” Which was “3.25°C above the pre-industrial temperature of 13.42°C, surpassing the record set before that, in July 2015. (Arctic News)

The Pumpkin – Issue 86: Collision… Trumpenfilth corner… How many wars can Trump sustain all at once?… Bent crude… The Man Who Would be King… GW: Water, water everywhere – except where there’s drought…

“Gangs in England are so adorable. This is what we could have here if we just implemented gun control!”

– Stephen Colbert, on the milkshake attacks in Britain on rightwing agitators like Robinson and Farage.

 

Brexit party and supporters at an event in Bamber Bridge, Lancashire

Last Brexit to Nowhere… Leave supporters who have stolen our future
wait to die at a working men’s club in Lancashire. (Photo: Guardian)

 

How many wars can Trump sustain all at once?

You must watch this issue of Thom Hartmann’s vlog (link below). Unlike any panel discussion of Trump’s startling refusal to co-operate with legislators I’ve heard on US media, arguing that he is above the law, it provides a crystal-clear, historical analysis of the legal position regarding the constitutional battle between Congress, the courts and the White House.

And the conclusion is terrifying.

Spoiler alert: Thom’s verdict

If Trump refuses to co-operate with investigations, tough luck. Not even the Supreme Court can enforce the law if the President chooses not to obey it, as Congress and the courts have NO POWERS OR MEANS OF ENFORCEMENT under the constitution. Only the Executive branch, which includes the Justice Department and the White House, can order arrests.

And with the appointment of Attorney General Barr, Trump has the DoJ in his pocket.

Even if Congress were to impeach Trump for ignoring legal subpoenas ratified by the Supreme Court, as he is proposing to do if decisions go against him, they have no power to arrest him. And he knows it.

Until Nixon, such unpresidential defiance of US law has occurred only three times in the history of the USA. The first was in 1861, when the southern states backed the Supreme Court against a certain Abraham Lincoln, who refused to give way on their ruling that African slaves were not humans, and it cost 600 thousand lives to settle the matter.

Not for nothing does Trump sit under a portrait of his favorite President in history, the appalling racialist Andrew Jackson, who twice ignored the Supreme Court in matters pertaining to his genocidal campaigns aganst First Nation Americans.

How many wars can Trump sustain all at once, on how many fronts? A clue may lie in the number of law suits he’s currently juggling.

I refer you to the incomplete list of lawsuits pending against Donald Trump (NB these are only primary cases, excluding many hundreds of cases in which he is named incidentally.)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lawsuits_involving_Donald_Trump

Thom Hartmann: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1Zv3zlK714

 

Collision

An open letter stating an opinion that Trump should face trial for multiple crimes of obstructing justice on the basis of the evidence gleaned by the Mueller investigation and published in the redacted report has been signed by 900 (nine hundred!) current and former prosecuting US states’ attorneys.

The problem being that only the Department of Justice can indict – the investigation was under their jurisdiction. And the Attorney General whom Trump personally appointed in February to run the DoJ, M William “Bill” Barr, is refusing to indict on grounds that you cannot indict a sitting President; although that is a controversial opinion or, as we say, bullshit.

Talk about obstructing justice!

While the President also remains an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the case for which his lieutenant, Michael Cohen, was sent to gaol for three years, for co-operating with Trump’s order that he should pay bribes to silence two inconvenient women, illegally out of campaign funds, to assist Trump’s election prospects. The President remains under suspicion that he also persuaded a friend, Mr Elliott Broidy, to pay $1.8 million to a Playboy model whose baby he had aborted, and to accept responsibility himself.

Next week, this corrupt criminal – yes, he last year pleaded guilty in a New York court to misuse of tax-exempt charity funds and his Trump Foundation was compulsorily wound-up; while, in 2017 he was forced to pay $35 million reparations in a case involving the bogus “Trump university” scam – and his wretched family, all of whom are under investigation for financial crimes – is to be entertained, literally royally, by the British State, at a cost of many millions of pounds, and will hypocritically attend a 75th anniversary parade to mark the joint military invasion of Europe by US, Canadian, French and British forces.

Pray for rain.

 

During President Trump’s election campaign he promised voters that, unlike “lazy” Obama, he would be the hardest-working president in history. In his first 27 months in office he has played golf on average once every three days, at a cost to the US taxpayer now of $102 million. (TYT/The Huffington Post)

 

Trumpenfilth corner:

I wrote recently that the 2020 campaign will only get filthier. In response to Speaker Pelosi’s comment that Trump is engaged in a cover-up with regard to the Mueller report, video of her statement has been digitally edited to make her look drunk and rambling* and this fake news version was helpfully put out on air by the Fox Business channel.

It’s also been posted online with, so far, 2 million views. Facebook and Twitter have made half-hearted attempts to takedown the video. No doubt many dumbfucks will not have the cognitive abilities to see what’s been done to the original, although it’s pretty crude. Or they’ll just think it’s hilarious.

Asked about it, Trump defended it, whining that she attacked him first. An opposition politician! And this is the cheesy sleazeburger with an emotional age of nine they’re inflicting on the 93-year-old Queen next week, officials desperately claiming “It’s not the man, it’s the office”?

*How to edit a video to make a person look drunk and rambling, Part One. First, cut it into little pieces and put it back together with little delays and overlaps and hiccups and repeats. Then you slow the voicetrack down by about 15%. We recommend you use FinalCutPro for a cleaner finish.

 

Bent crude

It’s axiomatic now that Trump’s actions stink of corruption and malpractise. To the point where, it seems, nobody cares. He hasn’t launched the nuclear missiles, like everyone feared. He’s derailing the economy, but the Obama momentum, a global recovery and a weak dollar are still keeping it going. Cuts in Medicare and tax increases on the middle-class have yet to kick in. He’s done many other horrible things, told endless lies, started a trade war and bust the budget, but so far they haven’t made a telling shot among his base. His chief propaganda mouthpiece, Brad Parscale (late of Cambridge Analytica) is Facebooking lies like a good ‘un.

And many people quite approve of the way he seems to be standing up to the hated politicians in Congress, even if it is to cover up his own crimes.

He continues to protest his innocence of the charges investigated by Mueller. It’s been two months now since his hand-picked Attorney General, a man who doesn’t think a sitting President can be indicted for anything, a man who has argued the Mueller investigation was illegitimate, released a three and a half page summary of a 488-page report, using Mueller’s inability or strange unwillingness to prosecute a sitting President for abuse of office as a pretext for claiming he totally exonerated Trump and his campaign, which he absolutely did not.

Mr Barr is again summonsed to testify before a Congressional Intelligence Committee, Thursday (23 May) and the media is waiting to see if he turns up, having refused to the last time and being held in contempt for it. Unfortunately, Congress has no powers of arrest outside the building itself.

The redacted report has been published, but few people have taken the time to read it. Those who have are convinced, despite the redactions, of the President’s guilt. The one Republican senator who read it and admitted openly that he was convinced of Trump’s guilt has been, as they say, sent to Coventry by his colleagues.

The vast majority of Americans however are left with just those three and a half carefully selected pages and a president who continues to tweet and whine and cry and boast that he’s a “stable genius” (yep, he said it again!) who has been cleared of all charges; and who has now said he will not co-operate on government legislation while the House is investigating him – a childish tantrum neither Nixon nor Clinton threw, even while impeachment hearings were going on.

What are the public supposed to think? The Justice Department continues to refuse to release the unredacted report, even to Congressmen and women with the highest security clearance.

Well, they could look at his behavior. Whining and blustering that he’s been proven innocent, Trump has continually attacked the investigation as illegitimate, the investigators as biased plotters – “traitors”, he’s calling them, in the best tradition of dictators the world over. He’s called for them to be investigated, and a supine Justice Department already convicted of lying to the House is complying.

And nobody seems to think that’s strange. If he was exonerated, what’s the problem? Why not release it all? But it’s just what he does. Look how he continues to claim Hillary Clinton rigged the 2016 election, even though he won it! Nothing must be allowed to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency, which he genuinely seems to believe in his paranoia and delusional narcissism will go down as the greatest in history; although he has achieved nothing but growing inequality and chaos.

Perhaps unwisely, Mueller left it to the Justice Department and Congress to make up their minds based on the mountain of evidence he uncovered, and is now curiously silent on the whole affair. Trump has continued to claim that, as he was exonerated, which he was not, there is no evidence of crimes; consequently further investigations and the judgement of Congress have no validity and must end – before, many assume, more dirt comes out.

And time is going by, with the 2020 elections approaching and the public growing bored and fractious and easily distracted by talk of war and an immigration crisis on the border, “collegegate” and the unsatisfactory conclusion of Game of Thrones.

The British government, equally in chaos amid similar accusations of divisiveness and abuse of the poor and immigrant, with the far-right poised to take control and Prime Minister May due to stand down as Conservative leader in total humiliation on 7 June, has dumped almost the entire State visit of the criminal Trump family, which she instigated, onto the shoulders of the extended royal family – a further “exoneration” Trump and his infinite propaganda machine will make maximum capital out of for the dumbfucks.

Now, congressional committees trying to investigate the findings of the report, as Mueller charged them to do, are themselves being shut down, either by lawsuits – all so far rejected in the courts – or by the simple expedient of the White House refusing to release information under subpoena, refusing to allow witnesses quoted in the Mueller report to give testimony about their evidence to Congress, daring the Democrats to impeach.

The main example is that of Don McGahn, former White House counsel, who gave over 30 hours of testimony in private to the Mueller team, but is now at risk of being charged with contempt of Congress, having failed to show up for a scheduled committee session under subpoena. Why? Well, it’s possibly to do with his law firm having $1.2 million worth of consultancy to the Republican party that’s going down the pan if he testifies.

Witness intimidation.

And, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8LI2-dCoro, Rachel Maddow discourses on the other main topic, that of the request by the House Oversight Committee to see Mr Trump’s tax returns.

The committee is empowered by a law of 1927 that is absolutely clear: if the chairman wishes to see anyone’s tax returns, the IRS is legally obliged to comply. But no, Trump is not of a mind to let anyone ferret through those, literally, thousands of pages detailing his financial activities over 7 years. A barrage of dubious legal objections has been put up to deny the committee’s clear and lawful request; Mr Trump having hired a separate legal team to fight on just this one issue.

And, it turns out, in Trumpworld there are massive and unexamined conflicts of interest between the top three officials at the IRS and their duty to the law. Three officials whose appointments were in the gift of the President, whose appointments were railroaded urgently through the Senate by the leader, “Cocaine” Mitch McConnell*, as the likelihood of impeachment drew nearer.

(Incidentally, the question remains, was Donald Trump at any time involved in the cocaine trade? Evidence suggests he may have been, but that’s yet another accusation that’s gone unresolved for years, as there’s just so much of this stuff going on that the legal system is totally underequipped and unable to deal with it all.)

Three officials, one of whom happens to be a partner in an accounting firm that used to work as tax advisors for Trump Organization. Another of whom just happened to write a legal opinion that while the IRS may be obliged to furnish tax returns to the committee of anyone in the country on demand, the law doesn’t apply to the President. He also happens to own several apartments in Trump condominiums.

The third, Stephen Mnuchin, is the Treasury Secretary. He’s a former longtime Goldman Sachs man, like several of Trump’s arslikhan cabinet of all the millionaires, draining the swamp, who profited from the 2007 crash by buying up the assets of busted banks and loan companies cheaply and foreclosing on all the debtors, including hundreds of families who lost their homes. According to Wikipedia:

“Mnuchin founded a hedge fund called Dune Capital Management, named for a spot near his house in The Hamptons, in 2004 with two former Goldman partners. After its founding, Mnuchin served as the CEO of the company. The firm invested in at least two Donald Trump projects, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Honolulu and its namesake in Chicago.”

Together, these profoundly conflicted appointees at the head of the country’s tax collection service form a formidable wall against intrusive inspections of their patron’s financial affairs, even as they may be mandated by law and unbroken precedent.

But, you know, given Trump’s nature, it may just be that his tax returns will show nothing amiss. It’s possible that he’s just preternaturally averse to being investigated. Or that he’s happy to create a diversion by getting the media to focus obsessively on his taxes and ignore how he makes money illegally outside of the tax system altogether.

 

*Where does the nickname “Cocaine Mitch” come from? Apparently, from a debunked story involving his wife’s Chinese family; although financial journalist and veteran Trumphound, David Cay Johnson, has written that there is substantial circumstantial evidence linking Donald Trump with the Columbian cocaine trade in the 1980s.

But apparently, McConnell is willing to leave no turd unstoned when it comes to re-election, and is milking the monicker for all he’s worth. He has already raised $70 thousand from sales of Vote for “Cocaine Mitch” T-shirts. As website FastCompany.com reports:

“It’s exactly the kind of trolling nihilism you can expect from the man who obstinately opposed the Obama administration at every turn and now frequently calls Democrats who don’t accede to Trump’s agenda ‘obstructionists.’ Cocaine is hilarious, trolling is politics, nothing matters, who cares?”

 

Trump has ordered US farmers to be compensated for losses caused by China imposing retaliatory tariffs against the tariffs he’s imposed on China, blaming China for deliberate aggression against US farmers. The cost to the US taxpayer: $12 billion. Experts believe the soybean trade may never recover.

 

The Man Who Would be King

The Guardian is reporting on video evidence of meetings between Nigel Farage and Steve Bannon, in which the two men discuss the possibility of forming a “global alliance” of some of the most terrible men on the planet “to combat globalism”.

It would be funny if it weren’t so horrific. “Fake news”, if the possibility exists that The Guardian does not check its sources carefully. But after luring Mr Bannon to a private entrance at the Ritz Hotel in London, presumably because the doorman wouldn’t have let an Islamophobic nihilist looking like a dishevelled drunk into the foyer, the conversation with Farage is all apparently there on tape, in the form of out-takes from a new fly-on-the-wall (more like “flies-on-a-turd”) documentary about Bannon, The Brink, to air here in July.

Among those great leaders they thought it would be a nice idea to involve in their little plot to rule the frazzled earth are the self-admitted murderer, Duterte of the Philippines, on whose say-so thousands of presumed “drug dealers” – mostly harmless addicts – have been exterminated by police death squads, and who speaks openly and pleasantly of raping women.

Indian “strongman” – actually he’s just an elderly peasant buoyed up by heat-crazed Hindu nationalists and appears to The Pumpkin from a distance to be a quite profoundly stupid man – Narendra Modi is on the list, as is the authoritarian Hungarian PM, Viktor Orban, ruthless exploiter of any passing populist issue and slayer of NGOs. Egypt, too, was mentioned – see below.

Amusingly, Farage is on tape telling Bannon he finds Boris Johnson too lightweight and incapable of concentrating on anything for more than a few seconds. This, from the pathetic Trumpsucker photographed in the Golden Elevator, adoring inches away from that other adulterous, overweight, tow-headed scamp who practically invented ADHD.

(In case you objected to my use of the word “turd” earlier, I should mention that this global conspiracy of White-is-Rightists was known appropriately as The Movement.)

Apparently The Movement has been abandoned, as the funding mechanism wasn’t quite meeting internationally accepted rules, while Farage’s instant pop-up Brexit party, the No Deal, anti-EU party leading in the polls for tomorrow’s EU elections, is being investigated for accepting illegal foreign donations.

Taking a leaf out of Trump’s “Quick, smear anyone you think may be a threat!” playbook, Farage has been quick to dismiss the Electoral Commission without the slightest evidence as a bunch of Remainers. The worst insult he can imagine! It might even work with his Brexit party dumbfucks, 5,000 of whose jobs at British Steel in 70% Leave-voting Scunthorpe are imminently threatened by Brexit contractions.

Let’s hope it doesn’t end there, and that these deluded voters finally understand what an unreconstructed fascist this deeply unpleasant, richer-than-he-pretends-to-be, “Man o’ the People” is.

From supporting removal of workers’ rights, to cynical climate-change minimization, to privatisation of the NHS, Farage is not at all what his fans think he is. Or maybe he is, I don’t know. Anyway, being “different” is not a reason to vote for someone who has no plan to do you any good whatsoever.

And how “different” is he? Most if not all of the dead white men in the Tories’ factional European Research Group share his 1950s golf-club-bore views; as do, apparently, the elderly lads and Thatcherized mineworkers of northern working men’s clubs.

Miserable old farts, our beer glasses are empty, but our time has come to screw the rest of you.

 

A filthy, murderous little regime

“Ahmed Saddouma will face his final hearing on 8 June for a crime he could not have committed. He was only 17 years old when he was abducted from his bed in the middle of the night by the Egyptian authorities. He was tortured for three months until he ‘confessed’ to a crime that took place 21 days after his arrest. He was sentenced to death in a mass trial of 30 people, where he could not present a defence.”

Thus the content of an email from Reprieve, the NGO that campaigns worldwide against the gross injustice of the death penalty, especially where no defence case is admitted.*

The filthy, murderous regime of General al-Sissi grows more barbarous with each passing day. As it has the courts in its pocket, a policy of torture and the vast financial and military resources of the United States of Ismerica to underpin it, the regime easily passes the bar of fascism.

Fascism is when the State, for its own ends and those of its partners in business, the military and the religious establishment combined, empowers its ordinary citizens to unleash their frustration, their brutality, what Hannah Arendt called the banality of evil, on the chosen Other: in this case, members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an invented enemy.

How bitterly must those who took part in the Arab Spring revolution that overthrew the last oppressive dictator of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, be regretting their failure to properly organize and to coalesce around clear ideals and objectives, allowing this strutting, pockmarked little shit to take over and impose the most astonishing brutality on his people; with almost daily judicial massacres of his perceived “opponents”.

The “strongman” view of history is littered with such examples, of lawless, power-crazed thugs – generally ugly little men of reduced stature and stunted intellect but infinite low cunning – riding to power on the credulity of the mob and the seemingly endless willingness of followers to hide inside a uniform and commit unbridled acts of violence against even those fellow citizens who would hope to improve their lives too.

I signed the petition, but without optimism. Theresa May is not going to intervene, she may not even be in office tomorrow. How many more Ahmed Saddoumas will hang before justice and moderation and good governance are restored to the world?

It will never happen in our lifetimes. We are descending into a barbarism not seen since the 1930s, that will undoubtedly end with the collapse of the socio-economic order as the planet rapidly heats beyond bearing.

*And just watch sales of Amazon’s new face recognition app to oppressive regimes like Egypt’s.

 

GW: Water, water everywhere – except where there’s drought

USA: Heavy snow is reported in Denver, Colorado; major flooding is forecast for the northeast, more storms for Texas; while in Georgia, temperatures are approaching 37C, 98F.

A dangerous storm system in South and Midwest USA has produced dozens of tornadoes, strong winds, hail and heavy rain since Monday 20 May. Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri have all been affected, with major flooding reported in parts of Oklahoma and Missouri. 2 people died in a vehicle accident. Heavy rain is expected to increase river levels, many of which have been high since March this year. More storms are forecast throughout the week. As of 22 May, rivers were above flood stage in 370 locations across the South and Midwest. (Floodlist)

Update, 25 May: A large and violent tornado has left at least 3 people dead in Missouri as torrid weather continues to pummel parts of America’s midwest. A series of devastating storms hit the area on Wednesday night (22 May) leading to multiple tornadoes. The region has already endured days of torrential rain and flooding.

All 3 fatalities were in Golden City. Another tornado carved a 3-mile swathe of destruction through the state capital, Jefferson City (where people are thought to be trapped under rubble). It brought the death toll from Midwest twisters this week to 7. (BBC Weather)

Drought and unseasonally warm temperatures in Canada have brought two massive uncontained wildfires to northern Alberta in an early start to the season (BBC). 5,000 residents have been evacuated from the path of the Chuckegg Creek wildfire, which is burning out of control and has already consumed 200 thousand acres. The High Level fire has been prevented from reaching the town but has burned 100,000 sq km of forest. (CNN/Global)

Japan: as Trump arrives to play golf with Abe, the Japan Times reports, “Unseasonably hot conditions gripped wide areas of Japan on Sunday, with the town of Saroma setting the highest temperature ever recorded in the country for the month of May. The mercury hit 39.5 degrees in the northeastern coastal Hokkaido town. (26 May). Strangely, although the earthquake that shook Tokyo an hour before Airforce One touched down gets a mention, mainstream media is making no mention of the heatwave.

Germany: “Storm Axel” brought heavy rain, strong winds and thunderstorms to parts of Germany between 20 and 22 May. Several states were affected by flooding. Some areas of Bavaria recorded over 250mm of rain in 48 hours. I person is known to have died. Rail travel was disrupted. (Floodlist) The storms are moving away across Georgia into Russia (Severe-weather.eu)

Turkey: Over 30 buildings have been destroyed or severely damaged by a landslide in Aybasti district in the Black Sea province of Ordu. The area had been affected by an earlier landslide in February. It’s thought recent heavy rainfall in the area triggered a second landslide on 15 May. Over 80 homes have been evacuated. (Floodlist)

Mali: At least 14 people have died in flash flooding that hit the country’s capital, Bamako, on 16 May. The flooding struck after a sudden torrential downpour that lasted several hours. Flood water was up to 2.5 metres deep. At least 1 person has died in flash flooding in southern Ghana after a downpour lasting around 2 hours on 15 May. It’s one of several spates of flash flooding to affect the country since March this year. At least 12 people died in the capital Accra in early April. (Floodlist) In Guinea, 5 people died when drains in the capital, Conakry, blocked with years of garbage, backed up during a heavy rainstorm. (from: Floodlist)

Korea: North Korea is suffering its worst drought in 37 years (when tens of thousands starved to death) and has called on its citizens to “battle” against the crop damage. It comes after the UN said that up to 10 million North Koreans were “in urgent need of food assistance”. State TV however is showing images of lush crops and flowing streams. So it must be bad.

UK: As Sheffield council contractors continue to hack away at the city’s remaining mature trees, protected from elderly protestors by the police and courts, “more than 130,000 trees are to be planted in English towns and cities over the next two years as part of the nation’s battle against global heating”. Previous tree-planting programs are way off schedule. Environment secretary, Michael Gove has announced that grants for the plantings will be made available through the Urban Tree Challenge Fund. Researchers have determined from lake sediments that flooding twice in the past 10 years in Cumbria was the heaviest for over 550 years – as far back as they can go. (Guardian Green Light)

Tunnel approaching….

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser, largest in the park, went off on 21 May for the 17th time this year, on course to beat last year’s record 32 eruptions. Normal activity is 2 or 3 a year. A huge, very deep M8.0 earthquake in Peru on Sunday 26 May (1 dead, a dozen injured, buildings brought down) seems to have produced a responding M4.2 quake in Utah, near the caldera. (Mary Greeley) Was the M5.0, 48 miles south of Tokyo, also related?

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 81: If it moves, chop it off… The Great White Whale conspiracy… Facts, dear boy… Whaddo I know?… GW: We all live in a Yellow Submarine… There goes the sun… When is a burger?

Saddest Quote of the week

Found beneath an Oleta Adams video:

When I lonely I really want to be hugged.

 

It’s estimated that Americans may have inadvertently spent $40 billion in 2018 on online shopping, while drunk.

(The Pumpkin’s ever-expanding jazz CD collection and ever-shrinking savings can attest, it’s not just Americans…)

 

“And was your dad born in Germany too?”

 

If it moves, chop it off

To the annoyance of many Western celebrities, the diminutive Sultan of Brunei, a Mr Bolkiah, who, without wishing to seem racist, resembles a worried-looking marmoset with a very large bank balance, has implemented Sharia in his tiny statelet on the island of Borneo (pop. 440,000) and is proposing to stone gay people to death and cut off the hands of shoplifters, as he needs the votes of the Muslim majority.

Meanwhile, according to the Guardian, his brother Jef:

“…embezzled $15m (£11.5m) from the state during his tenure as finance minister in the 1990s. He was revealed to own 600 properties, 2,000 cars, a private Boeing 747 and several works by Renoir, Manet and Degas. Jefri’s flamboyant lifestyle, which came to light in a series of court cases, involved a harem of foreign mistresses, the purchase of erotic sculptures of himself with his fiancee, and a luxury yacht he called Tits.”

All perfectly halal, according to the Qu’ran. Meanwhile the senior brother, Sultan Bolkiah has hastened to assure the human rights brigade around the world that these sentences are very unlikely to be imposed as sodomy in Sharia requires two upstanding independent witnesses for a conviction.

 

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when once we practise to deceive.” – WS

The Great White Whale conspiracy

“The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether $100,000 donated to a Trump-related political fundraising committee originated from a fugitive Malaysian businessman alleged to be at the center of a global financial scandal, according to people familiar with the matter.” – The Wall Street Journal, 13 March, 2019.

So, what’s the Orange Booby got himself into now, with his terrible judgement – or is it just rotten luck at frequently making business connections who often seem to be… a trifle gamey, let’s say?

Well, the “businessman” is a pudgy Chinese-Malay financier, Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low as he is known, aka the “Billion Dollar Whale”, who has vowed not to give himself up to any jurisdiction where his guilt has already been presumed. That’s about six so far. He’s thought to be in hiding in Hong Kong, or maybe as a guest of the Chinese government on the mainland; and rumored to have had plastic surgery to lessen the risk that Interpol will find him. His share of the loot has been put at $10 million, but that’s a likely huge underestimation.

“Low—who became infamous for ripping up Manhattan clubs with $160,000 bar tabs and plied Lindsay Lohan with champagne on her 23rd birthday—was indicted last year in the U.S. on three counts of conspiring to violate foreign anti-bribery laws and launder money. He also faces charges in Malaysia for his alleged role in a scheme to steal billions of dollars …” – The Daily Beast 12 March, 2019.

“Billions of dollars from a state fund (1MDB) meant to help the Malaysian people went missing, disappearing into the shadows of the global financial system.* According to US and Malaysian prosecutors, the money lined the pockets of a few powerful individuals and was used to buy luxury real estate, a private jet, Van Gogh and Monet artworks – and to finance a Hollywood blockbuster. … Authorities in at least six countries (are) probing a vast web of financial transactions stretching from Swiss banks to island tax havens to the heart of South East Asia. Goldman Sachs, one of Wall Street’s most powerful banks, is facing criminal charges in Malaysia – which it says it intends to vigorously defend.” – BBC News special report, 2 April, 2019.

And, oh, look, here’s Trump’s old friend and retired Republican Party charity chugger, Elliott Broidy popping up again:

“The US Justice Department is investigating whether longtime Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy sought to sell his influence with the Trump administration by offering to deliver US government actions for foreign officials in exchange for tens of millions of dollars, according to three people familiar with the probe.

The FBI is: “investigating claims that Broidy sought US$75 million from Malaysian businessman Jho Low if the Justice Department ended its investigation of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), the country’s state investment fund.” The Straits Times, 18 August, 2018.

And, again from The Daily Beast, September 2018:

The team of lawyers and consultants working for Low (in the US) included (New Jersey Governor and former Trump campaign organizer, Chris) Christie, lobbyist Ed Rogers, Trump’s longtime lawyer Marc Kasowitz, Trump Organization lawyer Bobby Burchfield, and vice chairman of the Trump campaign’s joint fund with the Republican Party, Elliott Broidy.”

So, in short, what do we get from this? Well, nothing in life is certain, not even in Trumpworld “death and taxes”, but a brief summary of the allegations goes:

In the summer of 2018, as the Mueller Russia probe continues to draw the crowd in its agonizing buildup to ‘nothing to see, folks’, Malaysian playboy, Jho Low is on the run, wanted by authorities for his part allegedly in shaking down a sovereign wealth fund from which $4.5 billion has gone missing.

A fund created by Prime Minister Abdul Razak, ousted in 2018 by the 92-year-old former PM Mahathir Mohammed amid allegations of corruption, and who was subsequently arrested on charges of embezzlement. (His case comes up in court today, 3 April, 2019.)

“Californian businessman” Broidy, who is so close to Trump he took the rap for paying $1.8 million to Shera Bechard, a Playboy model whose baby Trump allegedly had aborted, apparently in turn tried to shake down J-Low for $75 million on a promise to get his friends, the Trump administration to make the FBI’s investigation go away.

Represented by numerous lawyers and influencers directly connected to Trump, J-Low is thought to have subsequently paid/laundered £100,000 illegally as a foreign entity through a named US intermediary into a SuperPAC set up to fund Trump’s bid for re-election in 2020.

You couldn’t make this up, and there’s more.

Before we go on, most Important: “An attorney for Broidy said in a (brusque) statement: ‘Elliott Broidy has never agreed to work for, been retained by nor been compensated by any foreign government for any interaction with the United States Government, ever. Any implication to the contrary is a lie’.”

I think they mean “imputation”,  but that’s American lawyers for you. Ever! Depending on who you lie to, lying is no more an offence in law than collusion. And just watch that qualified word, “government”. Not “fugitive Great White Whale”.

Meanwhile, according to the Straits Times report, the Justice Department has subpoena’d records related to Broidy’s financial dealings from another Trump ally and Republican fundraiser, Steve Wynn, billionaire owner of Las Vegas casinos. Mr Wynn has reportedly had to step down from his executive role facing allegations of sexual misconduct and reports of attempts by his company executives to bury them, as Reuters and the WSJ have just reported today (02 April).

His lawyers insisted: “Steve Wynn is completely cooperating with the investigation and he certainly has no reason to believe that anyone acted improperly in anything he knew about or was involved in.”

The way this is going, I should not be surprised if Madam Zhang, the Chinese woman who bluffed her way past lax security into Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, clutching a Chinese passport, announcing she was there for a non-existent event and brandishing a bag containing four Chinese cellphones , a laptop and a USB stick loaded with undisclosed “malware”, wasn’t linked in some way to the local Chinese grubby massage parlor lady, Madam Yang, who has been photographed with and sells access to Trump at his club, and all of them involved in a Chinese government or Huawei technology spy plot.

For, read on….

Oh, no, look, don’t. I’m going to leave you with a link to the Straits Times story at the end of this piece, because Shakespeare was spot-on as usual when he wrote: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when once we practise to deceive.” My brain just won’t stretch to all of this. But, reading between the lines, improbably:

You’ll thrill to the allegations, all obviously vigorously denied, that Broidy also solicited $millions from the Chinese government in exchange for a promise to persuade the Emirati of Qatar to help them extract an exiled billionaire dissident, Guo Wengui from the USA. Guo was apparently spilling the beans over corruption allegations against high-ranking officials in the purportedly squeaky-clean Xi regime. Googling his name turns up three interesting facts: 1, he also calls himself Miles Kwok; 2, he has taken Emirati nationality, and 3, he is a good friend of one Steven K Bannon.

That Broidy subsequently tried to sue Qatar for “hacking his email accounts” after he invented the story, fake news retweeted by Trump, that Qatar was a global funder of terrorism – an accusation that went away only after Qatari investors “loaned” $500 million to Charlie, ex-con father of Trump’s near-bankrupt son-in-law and chief White House policy advisor, Jared Kushner, under helpful pressure from his friend Crown Prince bin-Salman of Saudi Arabia, to whom (to oil the wheels, it’s inferred – source: MSNBC) Kushner had used the clearance Trump granted him – against the advice of security advisors – to slip a top-secret CIA list of names of Saudi dissidents and political opponents who ended up being imprisoned and tortured in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh (MSNBC reports), a list possibly including the murdered Washington Post contributor, Jamal Khashoggi…. (That last bit is my own “implication”, but it would explain Mr Trump’s adamantine refusal to point the finger at MBS if it also implicated, a) his son-in-law, and b) his practise of handing out security clearances like candy, wouldn’t it.)

Oh, and (spoiler alert), that Broidy’s wife’s law firm has also provided “advice” to Jho Low.

So somehow, yes, woven through the whole murky tale like a rogue orange thread can dimly be perceived here and there, the bulky figure of President Donald J Trump – who claims to the amusement of the golfing world to have won 18 golf titles, some of which do not even exist.

Welcoming the former Malaysian Prime Minister whose name has been for two years at the centre of the 1MDB scandal, arrested last year and suspected of embezzlement in the sovereign fund he himself created, on 12 September, 2017 the President’s little thumbs had tweeted:

“It was a great honor to welcome Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak of Malaysia and his distinguished delegation to the @WhiteHouse today”.

And praised Najib for “his country’s financial investments in U.S. companies”. (LA Times)

Presumably, the “distinguished delegation” would have been guests at the Trump International Hotel at the old Post Office building in Washington, where foreign diplomats and lobbyists pay up to $170 thousand per room, per night, to hover in the President’s lucrative anteroom; and from which, so far as anyone knows, Trump has not recused himself as the beneficial owner.

So much of this convoluted story contains elements that will be entirely familiar to everyone who has followed what anyone knows of the Mueller investigation, and the extensive, excellent reporting by investigative journalists over the years of the workings of the Trump empire and its global network of pretty fruity business connections. And yet it is a story no-one is piecing together, although it is far more indicative of corruption than Russiagate.

There is of course no suggestion that Mr Trump is personally implicated in the 1MDB scandal, or in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi; although he is suspected of having had some possible knowledge of the Saudi hack of embarrassing sexts from the phone records of his arch-nemesis, Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post – text messages and photos that somehow ended up in Trump’s friend David Pecker’s supermarket gossip-rag, the National Enquirer. And the Post has been most critical of MBS and his role in the Khashoggi murder in recent months.

No, the point of this piece is merely to suggest that perhaps sufficient due diligence is lacking in certain places where US political campaign finance and foreign policy are involved; and that the President and officers of Trump Organization do seem remarkably unlucky in their choice of associates.

When, oh God, will it ever stop?

http://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/trump-fundraiser-under-probe-for-allegedly-seeking-us75m-from-jho-low-over-1mdb

*And, oh dear, here’s Deutsche Bank again… The bank that, where the Trumps were concerned, never liked to say no.

Bloomberg and others report, a senior former DB official, Tan Boon-Kee is on garden leave after being interviewed in connection with the bank’s role in helping to raise $1.2 billion for the 1st Malaysian Development Bank fund, IMDB, much of which has gone missing.

“Investigators in Singapore have asked Tan about her dealings with Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho. Low, wanted in Malaysia and Singapore for alleged money laundering, has been described by U.S. prosecutors as the man behind the 1MDB scheme, though he has consistently denied wrongdoing.

“The inquiry aims to determine whether Deutsche Bank might have violated foreign-corruption or anti-money-laundering laws.”

Goldman Sachs was also being investigated after billing possibly excessive fees of $600 million for helping to launch the fund. “Tim Leissner, an ex-Goldman executive who pleaded guilty last year for his role in the scandal, has been helping with the Deutsche Bank examination.” Tan is also a former Goldman Sachs banker.

Money, they say, makes the world go around. Principally, it seems, by going around the world.

 

We all love a winner

The story I love most about Trump cheating at golf is when he managed to win a tournament he wasn’t even playing in.

The tournament was taking place at his Bedminster club in New Jersey. Seeing the strength of the field, he shot off to play a round at a different club in the next county, and later called in to his club captain to ask what the winning score had been. Told it was 73, Trump immediately claimed to have just shot 72 on the other course, which made him the winner, and ordered the poor guy to replace the name of the winner on the board with his own. Later his caddy confirmed, he’d actually shot 84.

This is the President of the United States of America, such an egoist he even has to cheat at golf. Time will surely make him out to be one of the most fascinating psychological studies of any political figure in history.

PS – The Pumpkin’s confident assertion that the famous “oranges” slip-up, when Trump took three goes last week at struggling to pronounce the word “origins” before giving up, after imagining (not for the first time) that his father was born in a “lovely” part of Germany (Fred Trump was born in The Bronx in 1905) is indicative of Alzheimer’s, may not prove correct. “Mini-stroke” seems to be at least worth considering.

 

Facts, dear boy

An interesting piece on the Politico website today examines the evidence for Trump’s vainglorious claim to be a winner, not just on the golf course, and finds that Washington Post researchers have tracked down well over 60 court cases he has lost in the past two years; mainly on points of law instituted to prevent dictatorial actions on the part of the Executive – America, of course, being the Land of the Free.

Where Presidential edicts are concerned, specifically, they say previous incumbents have had a 70 per cent success rate at defending their policies in the lower courts. Trump’s has fallen to just 6 per cent. Among hideous things he has so far been prevented from doing, are extending drilling rights into the Arctic marine reserve, and forcing people to work for their Medicare.

Of course, we remember the early failures of his nitwitted immigration policy, the discriminatory so-called Muslim ban, that had to go all the way to the more pliable Supreme Court before even a limited version could be implemented.

And it’s all apparently down to the incompetence of the many Trumptards he has casually put into administrative offices for which they have not the slightest interest, knowledge, experience or qualification.

“In case after case, judges have rebuked Trump officials for failing to follow the most basic rules of governance for shifting policy, including providing legitimate explanations supported by facts and, where required, public input. … Two-thirds of the cases accuse the Trump administration of violating the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), a nearly 73-year-old law that forms the primary bulwark against arbitrary rule.”

Interviewed by Politico, one researcher tellingly observed what others have suggested is a key point about the Trump method of administration:

“…they were more interested in making announcements of deregulatory change than in the change itself, so the risk of a judge blocking their actions didn’t concern them all that much.”

In other words, Trumpism is all about style over substance. Facts and Acts don’t come into it. But the betting is, he has a large enough base of dumbfucks who BELIEVE him when he says he has succeeded against the odds in carrying out these wonderful promises, making America great again, that they will vote for him in 2020 regardless of however little he has actually managed to achieve.

White House aides, however, are pointing to signs that he is too old and tired and disillusioned to really want to run again, and is just going through the motions. It will depend, I suppose, on the outcomes of more cases against him, some of which could see him locked up for life should he leave the relative security of the Presidency.

(He is also going around chuckling that he has already lined up another Conservative replacement for the one remaining liberal voice on the Supreme Court, the ailing, 85-year-old legend, Ruth Bader Ginsberg – whom he expects to die any day now. Prompting the question, in the cradle of Democracy why in the hell is the President constitutionally allowed to pack US courts with his own supporters? What idiot thought that one up?)

 

Whaddo I know?

Do you ever have one of those moments where you question everything you think you know? It can be disconcerting.

I was working with a group of actors the other evening, when the subject of “Morocco leather” came up. It was mentioned in the script. One of the younger members of the cast wanted to know what it was?

I immediately launched into one of my knowledgable, elderly wise man-splanations. It was, I asserted confidently, that fake leather fabric you find covering Edwardian (early 20th-century brown) furniture, desktops and so on, usually green or maroon and often with gold tooling.

Before I could finish, however, the questioner had whipped out her cellphone, referenced Google and searched online – it took her all of five seconds – and interrupted me with the news that it was actually goatskin, and came with typographical emboldenings:

“Morocco leather (also known as Levant, the French Maroquin, or German Saffian from Safi, a Moroccan town famous for leather) is a soft, pliable form of leather widely used for gloves and the uppers of ladies’ shoes and men’s low cut shoes, but traditionally associated with bookbindings, wallets, linings for fine … ”

I shan’t bother reading on beyond the headline. “Fine” what? I don’t really care what. I am crushed, and never wish to see or hear of another item made from Morocco leather, lest it remind me of my human failings. Except, of course, that it occurs in one of my lines in the play, so I shall have to be reminded of it about thirty times more, nightly.

Needless to say, since that night I have been discomfited; uncertain, twitchy and neurotic. I feel keenly that I have lost my own compass, and my standing within the group as their oracle and sage; the One who Knows Everything, the All-Seeing Eye – the best bloke for the pub quiz team

I’m now just a daffy old man whose opinion and knowledge are not to be trusted on any subject; even one concerning the past, of which I have considerable – possibly too much – experience.

How many other total misapprehensions have I been laboring under for almost 70 years?

Apart, that is, from a belief in a world of certainties?

 

GW: We should all live in a Yellow Submarine

Iran: The death toll from major floods and landslides over the past 15 days has risen to 62. The southern province of Fars had been hardest hit with 21 dead. 14 people had died in the western province of Lorestan and 8 in the northern province of Golestan. With many unaccounted for the count could still rise. Over 140 rivers have burst their banks, sweeping away roads and bridges. Most of the country has been affected by flooding since March. The north-east was swamped on 19 March before the west and south-west of the country were inundated on 25 March, killing 45 people. (Guardian)

Syria: Flooding has also affected thousands across parts of Iraq and Syria over the last 10 days. Over 6,500 families were affected as flooding hit refugee camps in Northern Syria between 29 to 31 March, 2019. Tents were swept away, and personal belongings were destroyed by the torrential rainfall. 2 people are reported dead. The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations said: “The flooding this season has been terrible and combined with the overcrowding in the camps, is making a bad situation much worse. (Many people have lost everything.) … We call on the international community to provide immediate humanitarian aid, assistance and necessities to those affected.” (Floodlist)

USA: More severe weather has been moving up on the jetstream from the Gulf through the southern states, bringing thunderstorms and “baseball-sized” hail. Temperatures in the southwest are already warming up: Phoenix Az. is posting in the high 90sF, 36C.

Southern Europe: As a slow-moving deep low bringing snow back to the British Isles, in some quantity in the north, drifts gradually southwards, “torrential rainfall (up to 250 mm) and excessive snowfall are expected in parts of the Alps and Apennines in SE France, north Italy, western Slovenia and NW Croatia on Wednesday and Thursday. Significant flooding is possible locally”. (Severe-weather.EU) Update Mon 8 April: Heavy rain fell in parts of Greece over the weekend 05 to 07 April, 2019, causing some flash flooding, in particular on the islands of Rhodes and Crete. Around 20 rescues were effected. This is the third wave of flash flooding to affect Crete since mid-February. (Floodlist)

An eerie image of the jetstream resembling the tormented face in Munch’s The Scream, posted on Arctic News. From Earth Nullschool.

 

There goes the sun…

A lengthy article in Forbes, the business magazine most quoted for its lists of the wealthiest people you’d hope never to meet, makes for depressing reading on the subject of solar energy.

Unless we can manufacture cheap, steady-state, virtually indestructible solar panels, experts say, we are building up a huge problem for the future with large quantities of waste materials having nowhere to go, other than to dumps in poorer countries, and toxic residues from disposing of old or broken panels.

Even while panels are still working, researchers have found heavy metals like cadmium are leaching into the ground; while panels that get smashed, for instance by tornadoes, require the broken glass to be swept up along with all the soil and stones, that make the processing of glass cullet impractical.

The cost of recycling ought to be born by the manufacturers and suppliers, but the added cost often means they go bust, leaving the public to pick up the bill – which is precisiely the problem in the sunniest countries, that tend to be the poorest, but where there are the most panels to safely dispose of – and the weakest regulation.

Chinese companies have adopted a somewhat cynical solution of selling older, used panels on cheaply to Africa and the Middle East, as they’re not required to operate at peak efficiency.

The replacement life of a solar panel in one of those huge arrays is unexpectedly short – maybe only months. And at today’s raw materials prices and with the difficulty of recovering the more valuable contents, it’s not really economical to recycle them.

Oh dear, what to do?

I’ve got a good idea for Forbes. There’s lots of black stuff in the ground we could set fire to instead.

Easier. Cheaper. More… wealthsome.

 

Postscript corner

Bugger burgers

Burger: “a flat round cake of minced beef that is fried or grilled and typically served in a bread roll; a hamburger.
a similarly shaped food item made of a specified ingredient.” (Google)
Burger: 1. Meat or other food pressed into a round, flat shape and fried: 2. short form of hamburger. Learn more. (Cambridge Dictionary)
Gentle Spammers, Likers etc., I think I’ve just become a Leave voter. The dastardly EUs of Brussels are proposing that “burgers” not made with meat must henceforth be known as “discs”, so as not to confuse people, who are of course incredibly thick.
The dead hand of the meat trade lobby is being perceived behind the edict. But it is abundantly clear from the many definitions on the market, that the inclusion of ground meat is not essential to define the term “burger”. Nor will you ever see a “burger” grazing in a field. The burger is not the meat, it is the presentation of the entire dish.
If the EU wises to clear matters up, perhaps they could start with the confusion caused by people calling burgers made with ground beef “hamburgers”.
Or, as President Trump spells it, “hamberders”. He has Alzheimer’s and so is to be excused for reverting to baby language. He is likely to become dreadfully angry and confused, though, when his valet brings him his bedtime “cheese disc” in future.
Hamburgers are not made from ham, but may have originated in Hamburg, a rough port city where anything goes and the sailors are too drunk to tell the difference.
It seems eminently clear that these faux politicians have little understanding of etymology, let alone of how ridiculous they make themselves. The “burger” does not refer to the filling, but to the overall design: sesame bun, wilting lettuce leaf, blob of pepper sauce, slice of Kraft plastic cheese an’ all.
But then why would you expect MEPs on £110k a year plus vast eating-out expenses to know what a friggin’ “burger” is? They can afford not to have to eat shitburgers, “shit discs”, whatever, like the rest of us do.
It’s just that Boris Johnson’s mythical EU ban on bendy bananas comes to mind. That, and Mr Trump lying to a crowd about the Democrats’ Green New Deal taking away their burgers (along with their guns and SUVs). That, and the recent discovery that rightwing Australian PR guru, Lynton Crosby has been channeling £millions in untraceable notes into a social media campaign for the ERG to tell porky-pies about Brexit ‘No Deal’ being as good for people as breathing carbon dioxide, nicotine or Strontium 90.
Should we call Fake Nooze on the whole sorry story? It sounds like it. Or was it an April Fool?
We should be told.