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

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

 

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

Brexit means sod it…

In one scenario, “not even the worst”,

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

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

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

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

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

Apocalyptic, even.

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Alone at last.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See what happens.

Can’t hurt.

 

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

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

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

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

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

Ausweise, bitte.

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

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

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

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

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

Are we any better?

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

What’s left of them.

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

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GW: kickin’ up a storm

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

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

It goes on, and on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CEWN #125/ Floodlist/

x

Fantasy fiction

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

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

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

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

Analysts who write absurd papers like that require psychiatric help.

 

Happy landings

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

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

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

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

Express/ CNN/ Dutchsinse/ BBC News/ Floodlist/

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Grenfell, a bonfire of the sanities… We can’t hear you, Mr Secretary – a letter to Rex Tillerson… Fore!… GW: warming her gnarly fingers by the light of the burning windmills… Dissertation: On the Tedium of Buying Stuff From Builders’ Merchants.

Two thousand liters of water are needed to produce just one kilo of avocados. – Guardian

This may explain why Avi, my avocado tree, has yet to produce fruit. She’s lucky to get a couple of pints a week…

x

Grenfell

A bonfire of the sanities

It is clearly not good enough nowadays to know what you are talking about.

Any “expert” who fails to court the approval of the Sun newspaper and the rag-tag and bobtail herd of self-publicizing, technologically unsophisticated and overpromoted windbag MPs is doomed to be ground to dust and scattered to the winds of history.

The BogPo has previously noted how the aptly named Professor Nutt, among the world’s leading experts on the neurological effects of recreational drugs, lost his post as head of a commission set up to review the regulatory framework when he published a scientifically determined recommendation that certain drugs could safely be declassified to save policing costs and cut the prison population, thereby incurring the predictable wrath of a scientifically unqualified but clearly panic-stricken Home Secretary.

Then there was the Attorney-General of Northern Ireland, who sensibly proposed abandoning an almost entirely fruitless and seemingly unending inquiry into the 30-years-old crimes committed during The Troubles, ordered in the wake of the Good Friday agreement to bring “closure” to victims’ families, as it was badly draining police resources sorely needed to fight today’s crimes. That cost him his job in a welter of Cameronian outrage.

You would think that these so-called “experts” would know better than to make sensible suggestions based on advanced knowledge and years of research. Would it not make perfect sense to save money by not having an education system at all, but to put children directly to work in call-centres?

(Subsequently a number of MPs have called for the Northern Ireland investigations to carry on, while demanding the inquiry overlook the clandestine role of the security services in well-publicized political assassinations. There clearly needs to be one law for the baddies and another for the good killers. It’s an insult to our brave boys to pursue them for their murky conspiracies after all this time. After all, there was a war on.*)

So, this morning a report is published by a leading engineer and public safety specialist, looking into the use and application of the building regulations in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

This was not the fabled, judge-led “inquiry” into how 72 people came to lose their lives in that towering inferno, which hasn’t even started yet*, but merely a supportive technical report into building safety, human accountability and the regulatory environment.

Before anyone could possibly have read, let alone understood all 350 densely argued technical pages, the media and politicians – experts all – were stridently demanding the head of Dame Judith Hackett on a platter for failing, seemingly, to do the obvious thing.

Scrap 349 pages of the report and use Page One to call for an immediate ban on the filthy stuff: yes, killer cladding….

Cladding helped spread the fire. But was its use already banned?

Never mind that there are already explicit legal controls on the use of flammable materials in high-rise buildings. Controls that are not being properly enforced, as Dame Judith cogently reports, with local authorities, architects and builders cutting corners and costs. The point being that they need to be properly enforced through a thorough overhaul of the systems for specifying, testing and applying these materials safely, making certain people accountable for failures at every stage of the planning and construction process.

It’s not a cladding issue, so much as an enforcement problem. And Dame Judith argues that until the regulations are more tightly enforced and people made accountable, no amount of banning is going to help.

Tell that to the Marines, as they used to say.

Dame Judith is a serious academic and so failed completely to comprehend her role in all of this, which was simply to go along with the unlettered emotional demands of the lawyers, survivors and families of the victims of the fire, the media and Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey, and BAN the filthy stuff, whatever it is.

Just magic it away.

Why they don’t get sick-bitch Katie Hopkins or Trevor fucking Kavanagh of The Sun or Owen Jones and Polly Toynbee of The Guardian to handle these investigations – “experts” who understand that the real issues  are too much immigration, too little social equality, Tory indifference – is not immediately obvious.

It didn’t help either that, when asked three times on BBC Radio 4’s Today show why she did not call for a ban on flammable cladding and solve all of the problem forever, as if Martha Kearney was the only one who had thought of it, Dame Judith stupidly tried three times to explain that banning it was not really the solution.

Sometimes people are too clever for their own good.

It does not help that she is a former director of the Energy Saving Trust, an organization that in the past promoted the use of a similar type of plastic cladding insulation to that which contributed its toxic fumes to the high death toll at Grenfell House. (Guardian report)

Notwithstanding, the regulations already state that it must not be used on high-rise buildings, and Dame Judith’s point is that someone had been responsible for ignoring the regulations, while others had failed to implement safety measures recommended by previous inquiries, such as the mandatory retrofitting of sprinklers, which certain politicians still in office had determined would be too expensive to waste on the poor. Banning polyisocyanurate foam (PIR), she argues, will not help if people were simply going to break the rules.

A subtle distinction which, I fear, does not lend itself to the construction of crowd-pleasing headlines and sensible political statements free from electioneering and media-driven hysteria, pandering to the general ignorance of the public, promoting further socially damaging mistrust of people who do at least know what they’re talking about.

*

*Okay, it started the next day. By one of those astonishing synchronicities for which The BogPo is justly famed, this story resurfaced in the news just 24 hours after I posted the paragraph above about Northern Ireland, and in pretty much the same format as the original, in 2014:

Prosecutions for Troubles-related murders should be brought to a halt, according to Northern Ireland’s former Director of Public Prosecutions. Barra McGrory denounced proposals for a new Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) as “convenient politically”. But he added it had not been properly thought through. In response a UK government spokesman said it was “committed to building widespread consensus and delivering better outcomes”. (BBC News)

Let’s see how long McGrory lasts. Longer than this government, one hopes.

x

A Letter to Rex Tillerson

Former US Secretary of State, retd.

Dear Mr Secretary

You were, I believe, the Secretary of State for the United States government in 2017 exactly a year ago, when President Trump made his much-hailed visit to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia – and then on to Tel Aviv, the erstwhile capital of Israel?

And the Secretary of State is, correct me if I am wrong, the senior diplomat, consulting on and implementing, if not always driving foreign policy?

Trump waggles his weapon. Was Qatar shafted to the hilt?

I am wondering therefore how you have responded, in your reserved and private fashion, to the emerging news of what might have happened, there in Riyadh and afterwards?

I am referring, obviously in the first instance (we’ll leave Israel out of it for now), to the Qatar affair.

For it seems that while you were supposedly in command of international diplomacy, being constantly undermined by your boss, the following narrative was playing out, very probably without your knowledge.

Qatar, Mr Trump assured us at the time of his visit, was a good friend of the USA and a key ally in the fight against ISIS. He met the Emir, vague promises of $billions in military sales were made for the cameras – it should be remembered that Qatar already hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East, al Udeid, the forward operations headquarters of Centcom.

On the basis of what is currently suspected rather than definitively known, however, behind the young Emir’s back – and apparently yours, Mr Secretary –  Mr Trump was doing – or soon afterward did – one of his famous “deals” with the Saudis.

The presumption has to be, does it not, that he offered to go ahead with abrogating the Iran nuclear pact in Saudi’s regional hegemonic interest, in exchange for certain services?

(He is, as you well know, apart from Messrs Bolton and Pompeo, two convenient anti-Iran “hawks” he appointed to the senior security and foreign policy posts in his administration just before announcing US withdrawal, the only person in the foreign policy establishments of more than half the world who thinks it is a good idea to abandon the Iran treaty.)

The deal, I believe, was much as follows:

Saudi Arabia under its new Crown Prince, a US shoo-in, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would agree to put intolerable pressure on Qatar to meet certain, may we say incoherent, objectives. Economic and trade sanctions, a blockade of essential supplies, closure of the Al Jazeera news services, even military invasion were threatened. America would not be directly involved, but would explicitly support those actions.

Mr Trump in turn would make speeches to his not very bright support base, accusing Qatar of this and that, being a major funder of global terrorism, a secret ally of Iran, etc., etc., undermining their global credibility – especially that of their wealthy international investment community, to whom his comments were clearly addressed.

But why pick on poor little oil-rich Qatar?

Perhaps because Mr Charles Kushner, father of Trump’s son-in-law and “senior White House advisor” in charge of Middle East peace negotiations, the shining booby Jared, had – it’s reported – been lobbying the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, touting for a half-billion dollar investment to bail out his failing property empire in the States.

The Kushners were desperate for cash.

In 2007, while Kushner Sr was in gaol over fraud and witness tampering charges – he sexually blackmailed his own brother-in-law – left in charge, pathetically eager to please, Jared had done a hasty and ill-considered deal to acquire a massive piece of Manhattan real estate, 666 Fifth Avenue, and had caught a serious cold with the financial meltdown that year, incurring debts approaching two billion dollars from which he’s never recovered.

Chinese banks had originally offered rescue finance, but withdrew. On that basis, Qatar felt the Kushners’ credit was not good enough, and also withdrew. Two weeks later, the threats from Riyadh began; boosted in April this year by a further threat, directly from Washington to relocate the vital al Udeid airbase and its 10 thousand US service personnel to another country.

But then, by a fantastic stroke of luck, or in a sensible and informed change of heart, the New York Times reports, having granted Saudi Arabia its reward, not to mention Israel’s, this month Mr Trump began once again hailing Qatar as an important friend and ally. The UAE is backing off and all’s right with the world.

A sudden and, observes MSNBC News, a remarkable turnaround. Well, and how did that happen?

So, Kushner Companies are presumably celebrating the news from Bloomberg that the Qatari sovereign wealth fund is “looking again“ at the many obviously advantageous opportunities presented by becoming a part-owner of Manhattan’s most prestigious, near-empty office block.

Could it be there’s a connection? Nah, it’s too far-fetched. The President start a war just for personal gain? Preposterous! A conspiracy theory. Fake nooze.

(A building, incidentally, over the marketing of hard-to-shift units within which Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump were to be indicted for sales misrepresentation – until Mr Trump’s election, when the charge simply melted away, along with all the District Attorneys in New York.)

Mr Secretary, I wonder what you think of this criminal shakedown of a sovereign nation by the most corrupt US president in history? A nation which, we might mention, competes aggressively for major real estate deals around the world?

To bend US government policy to the fraudulent acquisition of public wealth might in some unimaginable but possibly plausible universe at least have benefited the nation.

But to conspire to extort foreign finance purely for the private benefit of his son-in-law, a government official to boot; to blackmail and threaten the existence of a sovereign nation, to risk a regional war leading to a greater conflagration and the security of a major US military facility purely for a sum of money which Mr Trump has extensively boasted he has in his own bank accounts, and much more, is surely a criminal and treasonous enterprise worthy of condign punishment?

Will you please, Mr Tillerson, for God’s sake and that of your benighted Republic, speak up about what you know, or suspect you know about this squalid “deal”?

We can’t hear you, Mr Secretary.

 

Fore!

And why wouldn’t Trump extort money from little Qatar, when as a quid pro quo he’s ordered his consiglieri, Wilbur Ross at the Commerce department to lift sanctions on ZTE, a giant Chinese telcoms company he previously accused of ripping off US tech firms, when by an amazing coincidence the Bank of China has just agreed a $500 million loan to finance a resort project in Indonesia featuring Trump-branded hotels and golf courses?

Let’s stop pretending, if we ever did, shall we? His modus operandi is becoming clearer by the day: he is abusing the power of his office and the might and global reach of the USA to extort vast sums of money from corporations and even nations for his own personal gain and that of his crime family.

(The latest one is Ukraine, whose government has reportedly paid $400 thousand into the Cohen slush fund for access to the White House.)

The President of the United States is one big, fucking crook. Not in the usual sense they all have been, one way or another. No, actions speak louder than words. Trump’s methodology is to run the world misusing US foreign policy as a vast protection racket. And to co-opt the American people as his accomplices in crime.

It’s doubtful that even the vast and rambling Mueller probe is going to unseat him, or even prevent him running for and probably winning, a second term in 2020.

Because, like all the best mobsters, Trump is untouchable. His lieutenants may go down, his wheeler-dealing may look heinous, the corruption blatant: but so far, nothing seems to be linking him directly with any actual crimes.

And even if it did, the constitutional issue of whether a President can be indicted for any common criminal activity short of treason remains an open one.

x want to extort money from Qatar

GW: warming her gnarly fingers by the light of the burning windmills

Afghanistan: “At least 40 people have died and 4 injured in flash floods over the last 7 days. Many areas of the country are still struggling with drought conditions after an unusually dry winter. The number of people forced by drought to migrate within the country has reached more than 20,000″ (Edited report from Floodlist, 16 May.) PS: 21May,

An update by Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) of 20 May reported that the total number of flood related deaths now stands at 72. “The flood situation has worsened over the last few days as heavy rain has continued to fall.”

India: “At least 80 people have died as powerful storms swept through northern India, demolishing houses, uprooting trees as winds turned the skies brown with dust and sand, officials said Monday. More storms are expected in the region this week. Less than 2 weeks ago, similar storms caused 134 deaths and injured another 400. The extreme weather comes amid withering summer heat and approaching monsoon rains.” – Wunderground

Sri Lanka: The “Department of Meteorology said that Anamaduwa, Puttalam, North Western Province recorded 35.3  cm of rain (1 ft) in 24 hours to early 21 May.” (Floodlist). Possibly 5 people have died as a result of flooding and landslides as the island is battered by storms, dumping up to 15 cm of rain a day over several days.

“Far East”: US scientists at NOAA are trying to track a major unexplained source of the globally banned ozone-killing refrigeration-to-aerosols chemicals, CFCs, detected as a result of research showing the ozone holes created in the 1980s aren’t repairing themselves fast enough.

S Korea: flash-floods in and around Seoul, 1 dead, 1 missing as 20 cm of rain falls in 36 hours.

Syria: Heavy rainstorms caused flash-floods in parts of the country, including Banias and Aleppo, on 12 May.

NE Africa: A rare tropical cyclone, Sagar is concentrating in the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and Somalia. Sagar’s main threat is dangerous flash flooding in the deserts of southern Yemen, northern Somalia and Djibouti into the weekend. (The Weather Channel) … “Severe flash flooding and river flooding across the region will lead to a loss of human life, livestock, and the destruction of crops, property and infrastructure. Very heavy rainfall occurring across Western Yemen (linked to, although not directly from the cyclone) is likely to promote cholera infection rates in the weeks ahead.” – (UK Met Office)

16 dead, many missing. On Sunday, forecast models indicated that a disturbance dubbed 92A could develop into an intense hurricane-strength cyclone this week, possibly threatening Oman by late in the week.

N Africa: the town of Setif in Algeria experiences flash-flooding following a heavy rainstorm.

Hold that taiga! Siberia burns, as seen from space. 15 May.

Russia: Vast plumes of smoke are visible from space along the Amur river near Komsomolsk and around Chelyabinsk, blowing towards the Arctic, as Siberia continues to burn out of control after a month of wildfires. (Siberian Times report)

USA: “Severe storms caused major damage in Northeastern USA on 15 May. 2 deaths were reported – an 11-year-old girl in Newburg, New York, the other in Danbury, Connecticut (where 4 tornadoes, 3 at max. TF-1, touched down on 17 May) – as a result of falling trees. Almost 400,000 people were without power in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Heavy flooding was reported in parts of Maryland, in particular Montgomery and Fredrick counties, where up to 6 inches of rain fell during the storm. Hail up to 2.5 inches (63.5 mm) was also reported.” (Edited report from Floodlist, 16 May. More “severe” storms are forecast for the midwest at the weekend.)

USA: “…the California Energy Commission has unanimously voted to approve measures requiring solar panels on all new homes, condos and multi-family buildings up to three stories high beginning in 2020. The requirement is a historic first in the United States and is in keeping with the state’s ambitious zero net energy goals to reduce greenhouse emissions.” The decision emerged the same day a 350-page report was released, highlighting rapidly accelerating climate change in the region. – (The Weather Channel.)

Alabama Senator, Mo Brooks distinguished his Republican self in a committee hearing when, while browbeating a climate scientist, he attributed sea-level rise to rocks and stuff falling into the water, “like the White Cliffs of Dover”…

Colombia: severe thunderstorm inundates Medellin. (CEWN #118)

The scene in Guatemala yesterday (Photo: Red Cross)

Guatemala: 10 cm rain in 24 hrs, floods. 2 dead, 80,000 flooded out. (Floodlist, 19, 21 May)

Europe: It’s been snowing in the highlands of central France, the Alps and over into the Balkans. Up in Scandinavia and northwestern Russia there’s a record spring heatwave, with temperatures in Finland and Sweden touching 30 deg C, 85F. Lapland is bracing for its worst spring thaw floods in decades. Severe thunderstorms and torrential rain have brought flash-flooding to parts of the Netherlands and Germany. The town of Bistransky in Croatia was underwater. (CEWN #118)

Germany: on 16 May, during a powerful storm two people were injured by a huge tornado that hit Viersen, near Dusseldorf. (CEWN #119)

UK: Good news, bad news…. “Britain’s windfarms provided more electricity than its 8 nuclear power stations in the first three months of 2018, marking the first time wind has overtaken nuclear across a quarter. Wind power produced 18.8% of electricity, second only to gas …. At one point overnight 17 March, wind turbines briefly provided almost half of the UK’s electricity.” However…

“Funds going into renewable energy fell more than 50% in 2017, having dropped by 10% in 2016, bringing annual investment in the sector to its lowest since the financial crisis in 2008. The environmental audit committee said (16 May) that the government would be unable to meet its pledges on carbon emission reductions if the collapse continued. The MPs also said the government was failing to implement policies to cut emissions. (Reporting: The Guardian)

As if that were not enough, British Environment Secretary, Michael Gove was summoned to Strasbourg earlier in the year to explain Britain’s failure to do anything much about NOx pollution. “On Thursday morning (17 May), after an apparently unconvincing performance and an extension of the deadline to come up with policies, the UK has now been referred to the European Court of Justice, along with the other big polluters: France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Romania. The limits set out on air pollution under EU Directive 2008/50/EC had to be met in two stages, by 2005 and 2010, but are still being breached by the referred states as of 2018.” – The Independent.

Insectageddon

Mildly drunk, I’d left some of the dog’s meat out uncovered on the kitchen worktop overnight. This morning it was still there, gently oxidizing, and not a fly to be seen.

Normally after a week of warm sunny weather it’d have turned to fly-egg pie by then. There wasn’t a pregnant bluebottle anywhere in view; not even an egg. It’s late May, and 17 degrees.

Later, I took Hunzi for his usual walk. Apart from a few gnats, I saw no flying insects. No butterflies on the sedum flowers, no bees on the clover. There’s not much out by way of pollen-rich wildflowers, but there’s enough. This time last year we had a minor plague of click-beetles and false-wasps of various kinds feasting on the rotting umbrels of cow-parsley flowers.

No cow-parsley flowers.

Botanists using standard measurements for this and that say Spring is arriving 26 days earlier now than 100 years ago. This year it arrived 26 days late. The last trees – mainly ash – are only just coming into leaf now. Many have abnormal leaf development, while conifers around the sports ground here are massively overproducing cones, often straight out of the bare wood, and the Corsican pines all appear to have developed some kind of browning-off disease.

I think the reason for the lack of insects is not insecticides – we have no commercial or arable farming locally for miles, just sheep. It’s the dislocation of the seasons. Everything evolved in synch, now we have winter arriving in spring, wetter summers colliding with warmer, dryer winters; shorter autumns. Insects and plants evolved to emerge at times beneficial to each other: now the clock is broken.

Either that, or it’s those darned chemtrails. Plus, of course, Planet X Nibiru and the Hawaiian volcano.

A propos of which:

Hawaii’s Big Island increasingly resembles the pit of Hell. But the residents are mostly staying put. (Photo: D. Express)

“Lava destroyed four more homes and isolated dozens of others in the shadow of the volcano Saturday during a “very active” morning, according to scientists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. It advanced at rates of up to 300 yards per hour.

“It then entered the Pacific Ocean, forming lava haze, or “laze,” as the hot lava hit the ocean, the Star-Advertiser also reported. Residents were warned to stay away from any ocean plumes, as laze sends steam and hydrochloric acid peppered with fine glass particles into the air.”

22 fissures are now spewing molten lava into the air and a major eruption is still a possibility.

Awesome footage:

weather.com/news/news/2018-05-02-hawaii-kilauea-volcano-activity

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Dissertation

On the Tedium of Buying Stuff From Builders’ Merchants.

When our two nearest branches of the B&Q consumer DIY supplies chain closed two years ago (to “increase our consumer choice”, according to the press release), it left in the town no midrange supplier of useful materials for light amateur building work.

If you needed to buy things like bricks, paviors and fencing panels, timber, doors, paint or sheet materials, the choice came down to, either housewares stores and garden centers stocking none of those items, or the full-blown builders’ and agricultural Trade merchants, with their grudging back-store bins of tools, ironmongery, creosote and useful unexplained small architectural items.

There’s nothing inbetween.

So my new garden wall, all six feet ten of it (it’s taken ten days to get that far) that’s reached its final brick course with just two more bricks still needed – one-and-a-half, actually – and no more cement mortar, was sitting there in the sunshine on a Saturday morning before work (yes, I have work, for now!), inviting me to spend a few hours completing it, had I the requisite supplies (it’s always a fine calculation between ordering too much and too little).

Accordingly, as I wasn’t really needed in an exam room with only ten candidates still sitting, I took an unpaid hour off work to get to a local builders’ merchant I’ve been using for the project in time before they closed – at noon.

Arriving at ten minutes to, I found the front gate half shut. A surly young man warned me to turn around, as they were closing in “two minutes”. Can I have fifty bricks? I asked, having the previous week pre-purchased 250 to finish the wall but, having nowhere they could all be delivered to and stored simultaneously, suggested they hang on to them and I would collect them as needed. “Fifty?” he demanded, incredulously. “But we’re closing now!”

Eventually he relented and started loading the car. There were some other small items needed, but I thought better of going in to the Trade counter and even daring to ask, when obviously they were all hoping to fuck off early, presumably to catch the Royal Wedding… lolz.

This deliberately offensive recalcitrance is just so typical of the builders’ merchants’ anachronistic business model.

It is of course designed to suit the traditional bare-buttocks Trade builder, who doesn’t work weekends. Or doesn’t he? The Ukrainians putting up the 12 million-pound flats next door to my old mum in London worked weekends, evenings too. Drove her barmy. The times, they have a’ changed. Except in the wholesale supply business, obviously.

Who else still closes at 5 p.m. weekdays and noon on Saturdays, just when hardworking householders have done their supermarket shopping and are thinking about getting out and doing stuff around the garden? Here is an obvious consumer market opportunity being missed to suit the recidivist and curmudgeonly jobsworths who populate the building supplies trade.

Usually three or four blokes are hanging around the office area behind the counter, doing what looks suspiciously like nothing much. A phone will be ringing off the wall but no-one takes any notice of it – nor of the two or three crumpled-looking, dust-covered, boiler-suited customers – and you, trying to catch their eye. Instead, the customers catch yours, observing how your lack of a well-filled toolbelt and steel toecapped boots, your unlined face, plaster-dust-free hair and soft hands indicate you’re just another householder imagining you can do a man’s job and thereby save yourself a pittance.

Huh, little do you know!

One sales assistant will be listlessly doing something on an aged computer running Windows 6; another making tea, a third drinking his slowly. A fourth will be laboriously browsing through a trade catalog to find the price of the thing someone asked for, half an hour ago. None will actually be assisting.

Every request is greeted with much sucking of teeth and rolling of eyes. “Ooh, dunno mate, was it the triple-flanged 4 mil. squiggled wonkin you was wanting, or just the double? Only they don’t make those in brown anymore, purple do you?…”

Endless forms will be generated in triplicate, to be taken along by hand to the warehouse, way across the nine-tenths empty yard, as proof of purchase, plus VAT, where three more blokes doing nothing much will scan them for several long minutes before emitting deep sighs of frustration. “You want it cut to length? Here’s a saw…” Later, they will all guffaw over your CCTV footage.

It’s like finding yourself back in the early 1960s.

How do they do it? B&Q would have been open until 8 p.m. Saturday, and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Even the local recycling center, with its bolshy operatives and Hitlerian foreman is open on a Sunday. With five builders’ merchants in and around the town it’s a miracle how at least four haven’t gone out of business years ago, owing to their infuriatingly lackadaisical approach to customer service and short supplies of almost everything.

Yet miraculously they survive, while the Bs & Qs of this world are increasingly going under. Overpriced and poor quality, it’s no wonder we can’t build affordable homes that don’t leak.

I’d guess the key is, don’t try to be a supermarket unless you’re a supermarket. Builders’ merchants have understood the principle well, and there they still are, curse them, sitting on their grim industrial estates, resolutely closed at every opportunity.

The British love and deserve nothing better than to be monumentally frustrated, a service the builders’ merchants deliver with aplomb.

 

A New World Order… The Presidency racket… GW: Still blowin’ hot and cold.

“Today’s historic event is attributed to the vision, courage, and moral clarity of one person to whom we owe an enormous and eternal debt of gratitude: President Donald J Trump.” Washington’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, kissing furry golden ass on the occasion of the repurposing of the US consulate in Jerusalem as a monstrous standing provocation to the stalled Middle East peace effort.

“Welcome to England, Mr President…”

A New World Order

“Re-imposing sanctions on Iran will create the greatest division between Europe and the U.S. since the Iraq War, Mark Fitzpatrick, the executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies office in Washington, told me. “Only this time it will be worse, since not a single European state sides with the U.S. on this matter.” Beyond Europe, American credibility worldwide “will go down the tubes,” he said. “Who will ever want to strike a deal with a country that, without cause, pulls out of a deal that everyone else knows has been working well?” – Robin Wright, in The New Yorker magazine, 10 May.

Perhaps somebody could make the same point to Theresa May and the treacherous little shits and Russian-cash-soaked millionaires behind the Brexit plot?

That blithely tearing up 45 years’ worth of carefully negotiated and complex multinational manufacturing, trade and customs agreements, safety standards, environmental controls and workers’ and consumers’ rights with our European partners – and hence, the wider trade networks with 60 countries more easily accessed through the EU – sent a signal to every country in the world that “perfidious Albion” is just a bunch of embittered fantasists and amoral hooligans who cannot be trusted to stick to our agreements and stand by our allies, ever again.

Sadly, it seems to be symptomatic of a new world order in which greed, caprice, emotion and whimsy rule in an atmosphere of celebratory ignorance and anti-intellectualism, encouraged and funded by a new, largely hidden elite of unelected data capitalists and money-movers whose interests lie mainly in breaking apart the democratic consensus and pulling down its institutions. Those – and attempting through amassing vast personal wealth to escape the lethal consequences of the self-interest of previous generations of capitalists.

Much of what we do see is sleight-of-hand: distraction and deflection, setting up straw targets manufactured from the tropes of past conflicts: class warfare is back on the agenda, with a leavening of stirred-up racial tensions; as now with Israeli dissembling over their actions in Syria – the old, childish game of “Oh, but THEY started it!” – is the prospect of a genuine war we seem too apathetic and bored to stop.

And who benefits? Yawn… just watch the price of oil.

 

“… he doesn’t like them earning money at his expense”

The Presidency racket

The Cohen affair in the USA has gone way beyond the Stormy Daniels payment.

Allegations are swirling around the possible creation of a secret $5 million slush fund run by Cohen, the President’s closest legal advisor, built up from payments by industrialists buying access to the White House and sanctioned Russian oligarchs seeking relief and a safe haven for their dirty money.

Outed by the media (which Mr Trump has again been vigorously trolling in the past few days, he publicly admits in order to discredit any real news inimical to his interests), companies found to be paying into the fund have given only shifty reasons, claiming for instance to have been employing Cohen as a consultant in a variety of capacities in which he hasn’t the slightest qualification.

It’s beyond satire. The corporations implicated are huge and do not require the services of an averagely incompetent legal consultant, having thousands of their own and access to the best. But they are terrified of the effect the wayward President and his sloppy, intemperate tweets might have on their share prices. And they think that through Cohen they can get closer to the Orange Effulgence.

The discovery of this hitherto unsuspected funnel of cash pouring into a decidedly gray, unaccounted area of the Trump 2020 re-election campaign through what appears to be little more than a barely legal climate of extortion and patronage has highlighted the incredible number of former and current corporate lobbyists now employed inside the Trump administration, said to be approaching two hundred.

Far from “draining The Swamp” of corporate lobbying in Washington – one of his big campaign promises to the screaming dumbfucks, who will never be disillusioned no matter what – Trump is seemingly determined to fill it up with placemen loyal to him, at least financially, while – it is suggested – benefiting personally like a mafia boss from a steady stream of kickbacks and commissions bubbling up through the mire from lobbying fees paid by corporations to government employees – of whom Trump, did he but realize it, is one.

As is being said, in the same way he doesn’t like his people getting more media attention than he does, he doesn’t like them making loads of money at his expense.

Due tribute must be paid.

Accordingly, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell have proposed a startling theory about many of Trump’s seemingly deranged, out-of-the-blue attacks and dire threats he tweets against companies – like Ford Motors – and even other countries, pointing out that the first thing his “victims” always do is employ more lobbyists to try to avert his wrath; who in turn may be paying a chunk of their enhanced fee income into the Cohen piggybank, which has been used, among other things, to buy off embarrassing people like Stephanie Clifford (Daniels).

What else might it be being used for? We assume that releasing his tax returns, which he stubbornly refuses to do, might indeed raise questions as to the sources of much of his income.

Even major foreign policy decisions such as the controversial withdrawal from the Iran nuclear nonproliferation treaty, that threatens to widen the conflict in the Middle East, could benefit Trump personally through the enhanced lobbying activity it will undoubtedly cause in The Swamp, as well as use of his hotels by official State delegations, from which – despite the emoluments clause – he continues to profit.

By “draining The Swamp”, few perhaps suspected Trump meant “bleeding it dry”….

Yet few took seriously his repeated assertions on the campaign trail that he was always greedy for more money. They thought he was making a self-effacing joke. Only he doesn’t do those. He rarely self-effaces – he frequently self-incriminates. He knows he can get away with anything, always has, always will, so it doesn’t matter – a sort of reverse fifth amendment.

If this bears out – and much of the speculation started with Daniels’ canny lawyer, Michael Avenatti – it would surely be evidence of staggering top-level corruption, extortion and conspiracy to add to the litany of Trump’s calumnies: collusion with Russia, damaging foreign and domestic policy initiatives, bullying, aiding and abetting money-laundering, endless lies and incompetence that has attached to this extraordinary “made-for-TV” individual since he was doubtfully elected by just three heavily gerrymandered constituencies only 16 months ago.

No doubt the Special Counsel, Bob Mueller will be keen to get to the truth of these assertions, if he hasn’t already; just one more reason for Trump to be desperately angling for ways to make his inquiry go away.

To get a flavor of what is now being discussed, go to

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3IbcvpeGCw

Oh, wait, there’s more…

I turn this morning to the delightful Joy Reid, MSNBC’s weekend breakfast show gal, for further news.

So, you remember last month the FBI raided the files of Michael Cohen, Trump’s “fixer”? Now at his team’s request the Southern District court has appointed a Special Master to go through the files to see what can be used as evidence and what is protected by attorney-client privilege.

And she’s received a letter this week from a lawyer called Gleason, requesting that letters he exchanged with Cohen in 2013 be protected on grounds that their release would infringe his own clients’ rights to privacy.

Who were his clients? Why, two “women”, alleging sexual harassment by Eric Schneiderman, who resigned just last Monday from his position as New York’s Attorney-General over similar allegations by four other women who have just come forward.

Why is this relevant? Because, so Vanity Fair magazine suggests, instead of bringing a case against Schneiderman through the normal legal channels, Gleason apparently took the story to the National Enquirer magazine, a scandal sheet owned by Trump’s friend David Pecker (no, seriously), who in turn seems to have passed it on to Cohen in his capacity as Trump’s attorney.

Why he do dat?

What had the matter to do with Trump? Well, Schneiderman was at the time looking into Trump’s phony “Trump University” scam, over which Trump would later have to settle $25 million to compensate his many victims. Remember, this was back in 2013, long before Trump launched his bid to steal the presidency.

Trump then tweeted out that Schneiderman (with the usual dismissive insults about his capabilities) was linked with Anthony Weiner, who would three years later have his emails hacked as part of the attempt to discredit Hillary Clinton and get a gaol sentence for sexually harrassing a teenage Democratic party staffer. No kidding, he texted her sexts of his Wiener. These people are beyond satire.)

How did Trump know about Weiner’s behavior at that stage? He could only have known if he was running an operation through Cohen to dig and retain “dirt” on various possibly useful individuals who, like him, had been accused of sexual impropriety; a kind of boys’ club for serial pussy-grabbers.

Cohen, as we now know, was operating a fund to buy off and/or threaten women complainants, and revelatresses like Stormy Daniels. So it now seems plausible from what various media outlets are reporting that Trump’s strategy was to use sexual blackmail against people he wanted to shut up, or to do bad stuff for him.

Where it gets really messy, however, is – as reported above – that some very large and respectable (supposedly) corporations, including an investment fund whose largest shareholder is a Russian oligarch close to Putin, have been paying very large sums into the fund, supposedly to employ the inept but brusque Cohen as a consultant; but in practice, to gain access to the White House.

Or was it for murkier purposes?

And it’s being suggested the money sitting in a Delaware-registered shell company owned by Cohen – who has reportedly paid himself over a million dollars out of it – might also be available for his boss’s personal use.

Watch various spaces – this one could run and run.

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GW: Still blowin’ hot and cold.

Arctic: Weather.com reports that temperatures in the Arctic are hovering around the zero deg. C  mark yet again, 35C above the 1981-2010 average for the time of year. Wunderground makes the point that it has been colder in some northerly US states during April than it’s been at the North Pole. The Norway Ice Service reports the loss of 32,000 sq miles of ice in just three days last week. NOAA concludes that the multi-year trend to a hot Arctic could not be happening without a rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

Australia: “Storms in Tasmania have caused severe flash flooding in the capital Hobart and south eastern areas of the state. (The) Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said that 129 mm of rain fell in Hobart in 24 hours to early 11 May, 2018 (local time). Mount Wellington recorded 236 mm of rain during the same period.” Over 1 thousand lightning strokes were recorded.

“Scientists in New Zealand have documented what they believe is the largest wave ever recorded in the southern hemisphere. The 23.8m (78ft) wave was measured by a buoy on New Zealand’s Campbell Island in the Southern Ocean on 08 May.”

Canada: around 3000 people have been told to evacuate their homes in British Columbia as rivers peak half a meter above records going back 200 years, due to a heatwave producing rapid snowmelt. “The flood water in British Colombia rivers has made its way downriver and into Washington state, USA, where the governor has declared a state of emergency.”

Kenya: “A dam has burst overnight 09 May, after heavy rain, causing “huge destruction” and killing at least 44 people. The breach happened in the town of Solai, 190km (120 miles) north-west of the capital, Nairobi. The Kenyan Red Cross says it has rescued 39 people so far. Hundreds are said to have been left homeless.” 150 people are known to have died in widespread floods this year.

Ecuador: 70 mm of rain in 24 hours causes local flooding in El Oro province.

Colombia: Baranquila underwater. If you want to know what mother nature thinks of cars, watch 9 minutes of citizen journalism on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xmd7K-k6Duo from 04′.42″.

China: Quangjou, Fujian province underwater. 3 dead, 2 missing. Luchuan, Gianxi province underwater. 72,000 people affected, 4,500 Ha crops lost.

Sri Lanka: The start of the monsoon season (as last year) has brought immediate flooding with some 8000 people so far affected. “As much as 166 mm of rain was recorded in Galle in 24 hours to 12 May.”

Iraq; 4 killed in Duhok floods, Kurdistan.

Italy: “Homes and businesses were flooded in San Polo, Tuscany after an intense storm dumped over 50 mm of rain in about 3 hours. The storm hit d “uring the afternoon of 08 May, 2018, flooding areas near Sinalunga (Siena province), San Polo in Chianti (Florence) and Volterra (Pisa).” Legnano, Northern Italy, massive hailstorm, rivers of ice, etc.

Germany: “Severe thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain affected parts of Germany on10 May, 2018. Flash flooding was reported in Hamburg and areas of Schleswig-Holstein, where emergency services received over 2,000 calls for help. The Schleswig-Holstein town of Quickborn, north west of Oststeinbek, recorded 58.7 mm of rain in 24 hours to early 11 May. 42 mm fell in just 30 minutes.”

Elsewhere in Germany a severe hailstorm affected Rhön-Grabfeld in Bavaria

Greece: Flash-flooding in Thessaloniki after torrential rainstorm.

UK: Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade and climate spokesman, said: “2018 is the year when countries have been asked by the UN to ratchet up their commitments on climate change. Instead our government is actually proposing to count emissions savings made from as far back as 2010 towards fulfilling their obligations in the next decade from 2021-2030.”

Hurricanes: The Eastern Pacific hurricane season officially starts on May 15. “… for the second year in a row, we have the potential to see a record-early start to the season. A concentrated area of heavy thunderstorms … 1200 miles southwest of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, had acquired plenty of spin, but was not yet organized enough to be labeled a tropical depression. Conditions were favorable for development (NHC: 70%), with … sea surface temperatures … 28°C (82°F), about 1°C above average. The first name on the Eastern Pacific list of storm names in 2018 is Aletta.”

Anyway, it’s not on track to make landfall anywhere. Meanwhile, on the other side of the isthmus:

“The peak season for Atlantic storms, which officially starts on 1 June, is set to spur as many as 18 named storms, with up to five of them developing into major hurricanes, according to separate forecasts from North Carolina State University and Colorado State University.” – Guardian

However, Bob Henson at Wunderground speculates that while rising sea temperatures may provide additional energy and precipitation to storm systems, rising air temperatures in future may inhibit the formation of defined hurricanes.

Weather.com/ BBC News/ Wunderground/ CEWN #117

 

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

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

Slime is the new Truth.

Does anybody tell the truth about anything anymore?

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

Slime is the new Truth.

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

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

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

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

The new Truth? (Image: planetphotoshop.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only slime.

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The NHS: a post code lottery?

Spokespeople are good at slime, aren’t they?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Yes, Icahn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

GW: Anyone for 10°-ish?

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

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

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

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

In other news:

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

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

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

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

Colombia: floods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Early to bed…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is how it tends to look, at midnight.

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

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

Indeed, I’m amazed I wake up at all.)

British values… American carnage… Meanwhile, back at the OK Corral… The War on the Poor… It looks like Issue 43 of The Pumpkin (Maybe the last for a while)

British Values

Shortly before this bus exploded, as the fire took hold detainees were forced to remain inside to be handcuffed by Capita goons, who ought now to be put on trial and receive long prison sentences along with their lying, conniving managers, and the Home fucking Secretary, crooked financier Tony’s daughter, Amber Rudd. Decent British people are sickened by this growing abuse of migrants.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/feb/21/home-office-contractors-cuffed-detained-migrants-inside-coach-on-fire

 

American Carnage

“It’s amazing the amount of carnage that one individual can carry out in such a short period of time.”

Thus Florida’s Junior Senator Marco Rubio, marvelling at the power of the AR-15 semi-automatic military-grade assault weapon to tear apart a young human body at close range in the wake of the St Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in idyllic Parkland, Fla.

Little Marco, as the fatuous oaf Trump famously (and seemingly accurately) dubbed him, apparently has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. It means he’s all for it, and they’re all for him, laundered Russian dark-money an’ all.

But he still wants to reserve judgement on the killings until all the facts are in as to how amazing it was.

Like, that the 19 year-old killer, Nikolas Cruz, was legally able under Federal law to purchase an assault weapon at 18 – but not a small handgun, or a beer. You have to be 21 for those.

Like, that the FBI had already recorded the miserable little dork posting on Twitter that he wanted to become ‘a professional school shooter’, but somehow couldn’t trace him even though they knew his name. (How does that level of competence play out when trying to trace the President’s money-laundering operation?)

Like, that the BBC is reporting, social media reveals Cruz to be a paid-up member of a white supremacist gang. (The gang leader has claimed him, the police say the evidence is inconclusive. This being America, others will no doubt link him with Hillary Clinton.)

Like, that he went for a post-spree McDonalds, and had been photographed wearing a Trump: MAGA hat. A true patriot.

So, nothing to see there folks, no Muslims, move on…

It was the eighth school shooting in the US in the last six weeks. Don’t hold your breath for Trump to actually do anything more than wish everyone concerned a happier Valentine’s Day next year and blame the victims for failing to report that Cruz  – fostered after his mother died in 2016 – was depressed and angry.

Trump’s promise to look in on the folks of wherever it was will no doubt coincide conveniently with yet another golfing weekend at Mar-a-Lago, just down the road.

Maybe chuck them some paper towels, mop up the mess.

 

Meanwhile, back at the OK Corral

Addressing a roomful of bloodstained Conservative murder accessories,

“The head of the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) has broken his silence more than a week after the Florida school shooting with a vituperative attack on gun control advocates, accusing them of exploiting the tragedy to push their agenda. “They care more about control, and more of it. Their goal is to eliminate the second amendment and our firearms freedoms so they can eradicate all individual freedoms… They hate the NRA, they hate the second amendment, they hate individual freedom.” – Guardian

If the insane, whining little bitch, gun industry shill Wayne La Pierre has any grandchildren, please God the next school shooting does away with them, the lousy, sick motherfucker. And that the cancer that kills him should be slow and painful.

Thank you.

(PS The Pumpkin has patiently explained before about the Supreme Court ‘Scalia’ ruling on the 2nd Amendment, that it does not prevent controls on the buying, keeping and carrying of guns. Prior rulings on the 2nd have also interpreted ‘militia’ as meaning just that, not some phantom freaking bunch of 21st-century neoNazi redneck zombie psychopaths self-identifying as survivalists in the face of nonexistent threats to their precious fucking liberty. Nor does the 2nd say anything about permitting people on terror watch lists, convicted felons and the mentally ill being encouraged to carry a concealed weapon, as has happened in certain states.)

Twice in the past week The Pumpkin has dreamed of terrible omens. He is ushered into a big room with hundreds of people and invited to take a seat. He looks around at the faces. They are all dead. In another dream he is in a car, in a place with thick walls. A nuclear bomb is exploded alongside them. He is with a group of people. They are dying from radiation sickness. His hair is falling out.

 

But wait half a mo!

“After a golden era of sales under Barack Obama, America’s gun manufacturers are in trouble. Sales have tumbled, leaving the companies with too much stock on their hands and falling revenues. The crunch claimed its biggest victim this week when Remington filed for bankruptcy.”

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/13/remington-bankruptcy-guns-trump-slump-sales

Yes, welcome to ‘The Trump Slump’ – a bizarre effect of Trump’s presidency being that gun sales have fallen off a cliff in the past year. Apparently, the dumbfucks don’t need no mo’ hardware when they think they’ve got a Prezudent in the White House who is not going to take away their 2nd Amendment ‘rights’.

Gun sales actually rocketed during the Obama years as drooling rednecks fantasized about the coming war with Washington.

Overall, gun ownership has been declining since the 1970s and there are now fewer gun owners than ever, according to New York Prof. Robert Spitzer, author of five books on guns (so he should know).

“The US has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world with 88 guns for every 100 people. But just 3% of the population owns an average of 17 guns each, with an estimated 7.7 million super-owners in possession of between eight and 140 guns apiece.”

And apparently it’s these crazies who buy most of the guns, and now America is Great once more, they’re just not interested. Either that, or they’ve noticed that prices of a whole range of day to day household necessities, like food, are already shooting up in the wake of the Trump “bust the budget” tax reforms.

Good news.

Great. And the High School massacre might have come just in time to save Remington and the others. For, every such incident produces a flurry of talk of gun control, and that sends the dumbfucks crazy to the gun store again, clutching their grimy dollars.

 

“What an utterly unspeakable atrocity this man is”

Proof if proof were needed that Donald Trump is in character a thing less than the dirt under the fingernails of humanity has come in his latest Sunday morning tweet.

Not only has the balding sex pest launched another of his pathetic teenage tweets blaming the FBI for the killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, he has again made it all about Donald J Trump and his persecution mania.

Because, he says, the FBI have been too busy trying to prove he colluded with Russia, which everyone knows is a Democrat hoax, to police the safety of the nation’s children.

What an utterly unspeakable atrocity this man is, to turn this horrible tragedy into political point-scoring and a desperate bleat for sympathy, not for the bereaved families, or for the wounded (facing horrific medical bills) but for his loathsome self.

No blame of course attaches to him for ratcheting up the level of rightwing violence in his benighted country. The killer at times sported a Make American Great Again baseball hat, of the kind that Trump’s dumbfuck fans like to wear in their moments of maximum inanity.

Of the kind the President of the United States sells (made in China?) and personally promotes in order to profit from his office.

No blame attaches to him for taking $50 million in Russian ‘dark’ money channeled via the National Rifle Association to support his election campaign, the latest allegation to come from Hillary Clinton, the failed Democrats and their puppets in the lying fake-news media.

He is just like some unpleasant residue you can’t shake off your shoe .

And still the Republican Congress wallows in shame, their corrupt, lying faces firmly jammed up his furry old rectum, smelling heavily of cheeseburger.

 

Trump crooked? Surely not.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a54UVDf7ZaA

This Rachel Maddow story will prove to you as if it needed proving, that this President is a complete crook.

Basically, the NYT has hold of a report as to where the spare change from Trump’s inaugural went.

To his wife’s best friend.

$26 million.

 

“…thanks to the idiotic #metoo and other pro-women campaigns, no-one now dares to challenge the narrative agenda, to see this for what it is.”

A war not on poverty, but on the poor

Another inadvertent hostage to fortune in the campaign against NGOs has been offered by Brendan Cox, the widower of the Labour MP murdered for supporting Remain in the EU referendum by a former member of Britain First!, the deeply patriotic Mosque-burning organization supported in his infinite witlessness by President Donald J Trump.

Since the brutal slaying of his highly-regarded wife, hacked down and shot outside her office by a delusionary neoNazi, the not-unpleasant-looking Mr Cox, caring for their two young children, has been a favorite target of the unspeakable Trump knobgobbler, Nigel Farage and mercilessly trolled with threats of kidnap and murder by the toxic alt-right, claiming absurdly that his charities are “supporting Islamic terrorism”.

Now he’s been outed by the gruesome Mail on Sunday, purportedly a newspaper, as an office Lothario, and he’s had to resign from the charities he set up in his wife’s memory, although the allegations refer to his previous position with the megacharity Save the Children, where the media has been trying for the last fortnight to link them with the Oxfam abuse story.

Now they have all the proof they need that all charities are evil sinkholes of vice and a waste of public money. Well done, Brendan. What did you do, invite a pretty girl out for a drink? Pay an intern a compliment? You monster.

The business of a certain section of the British press is to demonize minorities, and this month it’s the turn of the charity sector, that has seemingly ignored too many of the complaints of its women staffers and volunteers that they’re being propositioned by randy men. No stone has been left unturned in what appears to be an orchestrated campaign from the right to undermine public trust in the sector, which has long been perceived on the international political stage to be inimical to the interests of corrupt oligarchs.

And thanks to the idiotic pop-up #metoo and other pro-women campaigns, no-one now dares to challenge the narrative agenda, to see this for what it is. Yet how quickly the Conservative right has moved to announce that it plans to defund the lefties of Oxfam over the bad behavior of one of its Belgian staffers and a handful of others in the field.

Was it meted in their 1948 Charter to have to declare their internal disciplinary proceedings to the Daily Express? ‘Transparency’ is not something that bothers most large corporations, why should Oxfam be bound by different standards invented on the spur of the moment by hypocritical tabloid editors and their Tory shills?

The giant Medecins Sans Frontières has since come clean. Of its 20 thousand staff and volunteers globally, it has received 24 complaints of sexual harassment in six years, resulting in the firing of 19 people. Perhaps the Conservatives would like to close them down too, withdraw their doctors and nurses from the hellish underground hospitals of Syria and just let the bomb victims and the amputated children bleed out?

Wake up, women. Your noble crusade against Hollywood scumbags has been rapidly misappropriated by disruptors to undermine social organizations of which the right disapproves, believing them to be anti-globalizing forces of the socialist left, opposed to profitable corporate corruption and exploitation. Have they not been moaning for years that Oxfam and others had become too political? Well, now they have their comeuppance, thanks to you. This could have been handled better, no?

Kneejerk patsies like Bishop Desmond Tutu, who has pompously withdrawn his support for Oxfam, could look at the devastation wrought on the global Catholic church by successive abuse scandals and see a pattern. What Oxfam is essentially being accused of is weak supervisory management, that has allowed a tiny number of abusive individuals out of thousands to get away with their behavior. No-one is making the point: you don’t have the same controls over volunteers as you do over employees. You don’t have an economic sanction with which to govern their behavior. Volunteering is about trust.

From that one instance, the rightwing politicians and media have seized on whatever other historic criticisms they can find to build a picture of malevolence, waste and incompetence to bring down a movement that has intended to do only good since their founding 70 years ago. Tutu should be on the side of the weak and use the power of Christian forgiveness to help realign the organization’s values if need be. Instead he has walked into the trap of helping the wealthy and powerful to destroy it. What will be the outcome of that for the weak, the hungry and dispossessed of the world, I wonder?

Then, Tutu always was a bit of a self-promoting idiot.

It’s all part of the “War on the poor” being enthusiastically prosecuted by the US Republicans and their disruptive billionaire pals in Russia and around the world. Defunding the NGOs will kill more poor people, without a doubt. Is that what #metoo and others want? There are real consequences to gender politics.

No-one is advocating sexual violence or harassment or the exercise of male dominance in the workplace. The Pumpkin ought however in the interest of balance to mention that he met both his wives through work, there being nowhere else for driven work-obsessives in the pre-Tinder age to meet potential partners – and that in both cases after a suitable period of observing his behavior at close range and finding him charmingly diffident it was the women who took the initiative (and did the proposing!).

In addition, the Pumpkin modestly but also proudly asserts that he was once voted Rear of the Year by the women in an otherwise all-female editorial office where he worked, and put up with the same lousy wage. While at college, he was made an “honorary lesbian” by the feminist couple who ran the canteen…

Despite a small number of instances at other times of no-doubt inappropriate conduct, boy-on-girl things for which he apologizes, although most of the time he has been rigorously abstemious to the point of cowardice, he explains that it was not an exercise in male dominance, it was just hoping we could have pleasurable sex.

He therefore feels no guilt at saying, women cannot at one and the same time insist that they are strong, yet demand compensation for their relative weakness.

Something more is going on here than meets the eye.

 

A detached view

Speaking of which, things have gone awr-eye. Just as he was seemingly recovering from the last one, the Pumpkin has had to have another operation to reattach the retina and is finding it hard to gaze at this screen for long, being once again totally blind in the shorter-sighted orb.

With tears streaming down his face, he announces what he hopes will be only a temporary suspension of bogling activities. (NB some minor editing may still occur from time to time.)

GW an update

Just to mention, Granny W says episode #94 of Climate and Extreme Weather News is online at YouTube, you can go watch it now. The enhanced seismic activity around the globe is continuing unabated, see the Dutchsinse website, with another M7.1 in Mexico and even a M4.4 in the Bristol Channel; while the Yellowstone swarm and magma intrusions are continuing into their record-breaking 9th month.

Christchurch and two other districts on New Zealand‘s South Island have declared a state of emergency as former cyclone Gita hit the country. Dozens of schools have been shut and roads closed on the South Island as the storm made landfall on Tuesday. Broome in farthest NW Australia has too been hit by yet another cyclone and the town is underwater again – BBC

Temperatures at the North Pole have again gone Celsius-positive, the Bering Straight is ice-free and another hurricane-force system is pushing warm water up into the Arctic.

Yellowstone: 200 more earthquakes have been recorded in the last 10 days.

Pack a bag. Stock up on canned tuna. Read a bible.

CEWN #95 also out 20 Feb. and #96 on 23rd.

 

 

A Very Stable Genius… Dogged by their lies… Floaters… GW: warning – no surfing on ice floes, ya hear? Plus: Do not travel to Egypt without memorizing your catechism; Yellowstone update.

A Very Stable Genius

Unexpectedly, we shall start with That Book.

(Postscriptum: which, as I read it, I have to say contains execrable, slapdash writing; pretentious malapropisms, and needed a better editor. Now carry on!)

There is nothing at all surprising that has been quoted in the media this week, editors all a-tremble, as preselections of the juicier bits from That Book. Nothing that The Pumpkin has not seen, heard or read from many other sources since Trump was adopted as the Republican party’s fall-guy in July whenever, 2016 – a century and a half ago.

So no, it’s not fake nooze. I think it’s mostly pretty much real. Trump is really a culpable person: a monster, a lazy and incompetent administrator, a self-deluded fool and a defensive liar, way off his pay-grade and clearly so temperamentally unfit to have his finger on the Big Red Button.

Yet one gets a weird sense that the author, Michael Wolff, quite admires him. And thereby hangs perhaps the greatest mystery of the Trump phenomenon: why are so many people in his immediate circle and among his support base of dumbfucks so undyingly loyal to this horrible, destructive man?

A genius at managing his own PR, Trump brings relief to paper-towel-stricken Puerto Ricans.

The sources I have relied on for US news the past 18 months have been commenters like: Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Joe Scarborough from MSNBC – and their regular panel guests, including David Korn of Mother Jones and David Frum from The Atlantic; Ari Melber of NBC’s The Beat; Wolf Blitzer, Don Lemon, Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper from CNN; Thom Hartmann, late of RT; Keith Olbermann, late of GQ (come back, Keith… please, you are needed now, he’s crazier than ever!); Cenk Uygur, Jon Iadorolo and Ana Kasparian of TYT; David Pakman, of his own channel; Farron Cousins of Ring of Fire; Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!; and the wonderful Mike Malloy, most definitely of Mike Malloy.

Plus, of course, comedians Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Samantha Bee; and public intellectuals like Robert Reich, Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges.

These in their own ways are all thoughtful, serious people, and I hail and recognize the journalism they do, which is often dependent on other reputable sources, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, and sometimes flies in the face of what appears to be growing internet censorship and ripoff defunding being practiced by the big platforms. To which I must add another source I rely on, the New Yorker magazine, together with PolitiFact, Buzzfeed and The Guardian.

All of these sources and more (but not, sadly, the supine, overpaid tossers at the BBC) have consistently reported the views of White House insiders, Congressmen and women, foreign leaders and diplomats that Trump is an overgrown, spoilt child, unfit for office; thin-skinned, vain, ignorant, malicious and vindictive; a dangerous, overreactive bully with minimal attention span, demanding simple cartoon explanations of not very complex briefings; a man of bizarre personal habits, a loose-mouthed, compulsive liar who defines national policy from minute-to-minute after watching “news” items on rightwing cable TV, who often incriminates himself with his own vicious Twitter spats and word-salad interviews accusing others of crimes and appalling misalignments in which he is the more probably guilty party.

Senator Corker’s description of the Oval Office as an ‘adult daycare center’ seems, by all accounts, spot-on: insiders frequently say Trump has to be nursed and fed on MacDonalds pap, guzzling diet Coke, kept entertained and happy 14 hours a day, which involves presenting him with only relentlessly approving and upbeat assessments of the many successes he has not in fact had today, pandering to his loony solipsistic view of a Trumpian Universe in which he is somehow transformed by the endless adulation of craven minions into Caesar Augustus; when he is, in real life, more like Caesar Nero: a demented, uncontrolled and uncontrollable demiurge; a thug with tyrannical tendencies (principally based on total ignorance of the constitutional powers and functions of the President) and an absolutely misplaced belief in his own omnicompetence.

On top of everything, and the much-investigated evidence of past criminality and misdeeds while in office, there is the mounting evidence of senile dementia: the rambling and repetitive narratives, the sudden losses of concentration, the forgetfulness of names and faces, the sudden outbursts of anger, the quirky off-topic comments, the obsessive rerunning of things that have upset him, the comical wanderings-off and changes of subject while in the middle of important business, often with important foreign leaders, whom he either looks up to or disparagingly insults. (No-one is more important than Trump himself.) The brain-damage becomes clear from watching the interviews, the half-insane public speeches (those, that is, not written for him by staffers who can string two coherent sentences together – I challenge you to read the verbatim transcript of his inaugural address to the CIA without assuming the worst), the press conferences – after which minions have to be sent out to cover for his many gaffes and lie about what in fact he said (or meant to say).

A stable genius, Trump demonstrates what he learned today in anger-management class.

His supporters, acolytes and sycophants have rushed to condemn That Book as a pack of outrageous lies, falsehoods and inventions. They have cast aspersions on the author, and on the star interviewee (out of 200, so the author claims), Steve Bannon. Trump himself has threatened to sue, as he always does, while rushing to deny, as he always does, that whoever has criticized him, such as his former chief policy advisor, ever really existed – and anyway “Sloppy Steve” is just an unimportant loser who has lost his mind, he “cried and begged for his job back” when he was fired.

That’s the essence of Trump: a vengeful liar who will say and do anything, however disgusting, to distract attention from his own monstrousness: that “malignant narcissism” which psychiatrists worry could, if unchecked, one day trigger a global conflagration.

Reportedly, Chief of Staff Kelly has ordered all staffers even close to the Oval Office to hand in their cellphones while on the premises, although he knows full well that the source of most of the leaks Trump complains of is the demented orange fuckwit himself, calling-up billionaire “friends” like Murdoch and indiscreetly moaning about everything; then expressing bewilderment at how the stuff gets out into the ‘fake nooze’ media and blaming his advisors!

Either it’s a leak, or it’s fake – you can’t have it both ways. But he tries.

The Pumpkin (for this is he) will hold further fire until Amazon delivers That Book to his door. He ordered a copy immediately on hearing Trump’s lawyer was trying to injunct it, but it seems the great online retailer has already got an out-of-stock problem; although Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff (not the Guardian contributor of the same name, nor the economist – nor is it the book of the same name that people are rushing to buy by mistake, about the fire-bombings of Hamburg and Dresden…) does seem to be available in (and fast selling out of) all good bookshops. Sad. (Also, there are a dozen probably better books on Trump’s first year on the stalls.)

Believe me, there’s almost certainly nothing in it we haven’t heard before, it’s all bad, but it will be good to have a copy on my bedside table to remind me where I went wrong.

(PS In case you still don’t believe he’s dangerous, while the book furore has been running, Trump has slipped-in the repeal of an Obama-era law forbidding anyone from micro-engineering new and deadly disease-causing agents, which with easily available gene-splicing technology you can now do in your garage. Among items specifically banned was, reportedly, an airborne version of the Ebola virus. He’s also closed down the HIV/Aids research council. Sick.)

 

“My name is, I imagine, now on a list down at the local nick…”

Dogged by their lies

Dear Readers, Spammers, Followers, Likers and Those No Longer, etc. will know, the BogPo’s Uncle Bogler has a burning, pathological hatred of injustice.

And not only on behalf of innocent victims everywhere.

I have written before about an incident which occurred unforgettably on 21 July, 2016. I was walking Hunzi through the exurban space that passes for our local park, a somewhat tame wilderness of cycle paths, railway lines, sports fields, river, heathland, marshland and dense plantations transected by muddy footpaths – also home to the town’s major sewage works – when I observed a group of people cavorting with their dog on the sacred turf of the Boglington Cricket Club’s first-team pitch, in defiance of signs requesting people politely not to do that.

A cretin in calf-length shorts and on-backwards baseball cap; a woman, a small child and a large brown dog.

Observing that the ineffectual gate to the ground was indeed locked, ironically I raised my cellphone and pointed it toward them – they were a good 150 yards away and a photograph would have been useless for identification purposes, so I did not take one. As we trudged on, with a sudden feeling of doom I heard a rough voice behind me shouting “Oi! Fuckin’ paedo!” I decided not to get involved.

The exurban space that passes for our local park. (See any children?)

On arriving home 40 minutes later, I was surprised to find two policemen on the doorstep, accusing me of going about ‘taking photographs of children’. What do you say? How did they know where I lived? Had I been followed? There had been a complaint, naturally therefore I must have been going about taking photographs of children, even though I hadn’t been. It’s not the sort of accusation you can deny, since where taking photographs of children is concerned – something the policeman who could articulate verbally (the smaller one was being paid by me just to stand there and glare accusingly) instinctively knew – denial is the clearest proof of guilt.

He reassured me, however, that it is not illegal to go about taking photographs of children. Were I a more robust individual and not a strange old man with a posh voice living alone with a spawny-eyed dog and a magic cat in a tiny cottage in the grimy backstreets of a Welsh seaside town, a social anomaly and so obviously someone on an offender-management program, I should at that point have told them, in that case, they could piss off. Instead, I pulled my cellphone out of my pocket and politely said, “see for yourself, I do not take photographs of children”.

At my age, policemen are supposed to be looking younger. Instead, they just seem to be getting smaller. I recognized my tiny accuser as having been quite helpful once over a matter of neighbors plastering Do Not Park! stickers illegally (and irremovably) on my windscreen.

“Hmmph”, he sniffed disbelievingly, flicking through the folder and finding there no photographs of any class of human – I take pictures generally of unusual cloud formations and wildflowers, my guitars (for insurance purposes), my lovely dog and my half-finished DIY projects. ‘Well, you might have another camera somewhere’. Ignoring that it would be a very perverted person indeed who would take a photo of a small child, fully dressed for the outdoors, together with its parents and family dog, at a distance of 150 yards, and somehow find it titillating. And insisting without legal justification (while standing on my property) on knowing who I was and where and when I was born, like I’m some common thief.

An interesting cloud formation. Not many children.

My name is, I imagine, now on a list down at the local nick of persons of interest, to be routinely hauled in for questioning the next time a child goes missing. That’s if I haven’t been dragged out into the front garden by my working-class neighbours, beaten to death and set on fire, as happened to a harmless immigrant in Bristol a while ago after a misunderstanding concerning broken windows, pleas for help ignored for months by the police, and a gang of lying, feral children.

I have still not recovered from the depression the incident brought about. It is so easy to turn someone’s life into a permanent horror-show with one stupid, malicious falsehood as, I believe, Dostoevsky may have commented.

“I plead daily in vain for the Committee of Discarnate Entities, who guide my doings, to get me out of here…”

And now, I have learned that other neighbours of mine, nice, middle-class retirees with shiny cars and campervans living in the link-detached, manicured suburban homes across the road, have been conspiring together to lie to the police that my lovely Hunzi has attacked and bitten someone, in order to protect their own, similarly black-and-white, demented border collie. “No, it’s that man across the road!” they told the police. The owner lies to them that he does not even own a dog; his neighbor backs him up; the police loyally believe them, locals both, despite all the evidence.

I see them both out dog-walking most days and they wave and smile and nod and say good morning, terrible weather we’re having. And then they lie and tell the police I own a dangerous dog that bites people and deny that they own a dog at all.

Hunzi: calm, gentle, obedient and loyal.

Collies are not considered to be vicious. Hunzi has never so much as growled at anyone in the seven years we have lived together. He has references. At least 20 people if asked would confirm tomorrow he is the loveliest, most gentle, loyal, calm, patient and obedient dog they have ever known. Several tell me they can’t wait for me to fall under a bus, so they can adopt him.

This is a monstrous injustice, that could lead to a terrible consequence for us because of poisonous, hateful, hypocritical, conniving locals and their lies.

An elderly, harmless, dumpy little man with a slightly scrambled brain who cycles about collecting bits of scrap machinery to “do up” and buttonholes passers-by to give us all the latest gossip about people of whom we haven’t the faintest idea who they are, Old Tommy tells me this is the fourth time the dog has attacked him, and he has had to go to the hospital. This time, there was a witness. He tells me, he knows it is not my dog that is responsible, my dog is a good dog, but that the two neighbours have now lied three times that it is Hunzi who goes about attacking people so he thought he ought to warn me about them.

Of course he doesn’t attack people, the dog is under my control at all times and never out of my sight. If I thought for one moment that he was dangerous, I would muzzle him and keep him on the leash. But he isn’t, so I don’t. That doesn’t stop half the people we encounter at a distance from nervously shouting and grabbing their dogs and putting them on the leash whenever they see us coming. It is incredibly annoying that they will not let their dogs socialize, as is the advice of the RSPCA to do for their mental wellbeing.

I have never known so many paranoid neurotics in any other place where I have lived or visited. They do not understand how by doing this, they are only training their dogs to be aggressive toward other dogs. People are not like this in parks in London, they know dogs are happiest running around together, and do not attack one another.

I never wanted to live here in the first place. I do not belong here, sandwiched between the decaying council estate and the trim suburban lawns across the road, among people with whom I have absolutely nothing in common. I belong in an agreeable West-country rectory built of honeyed brick, with three acres, a library, a wine cellar and chestnut trees along the driveway; or in a balconied, book-lined, inner-London apartment on a Georgian square, walls covered in prints, of the kind nearby where I used to live many, many years ago until to escape myself I began my futile anabasis westward to the sea.

I plead daily in vain for the Committee of Discarnate Entities, who guide my doings, to get me out of here. But they don’t. Not this time, our kid. Suck it up, they tell me.

I am here now only through the accident of a business misfortune many years ago, compounded by a subsequent chain of events: losing the house, the uneconomic farm, foot-and-mouth disease, lack of employment, middle-age, two divorces – the years living in accommodation tied to my job looking after a rotting country estate for absentee owners, a job that became redundant when they turned it into a hotel. I bought the little house for quite another purpose, was obliged in extremis to move here myself, have been quite unable to sell it again, and shall have been stuck here for six years next month, despairing of ever escaping.

Were it not for Hunzi and his care requirements I should probably more seriously contemplate exiting this world, being as I am totally surplus to anyone’s expectations but his; a drain both on the Exchequer and a diminishing supply of oxygen. I live for him and he, seemingly, for me. For that reason alone, I consider the injustice being done to him, and by extension to me, of an order of seriousness that could justify a threat of violence, which would be stupid I know, as it is not the sort of thing I do. I prefer to keep relations with the neighbors at a distance, but on an even keel.

But, by God, it would give me satisfaction to make those smug little bastards eat their lies.

 

“Migraines don’t always produce headaches…”

Floaters

As I squint at the big TV screen attached to my frustrating little laptop, on which these words are magically appearing in 20 pt, a grubby-looking twist of gristle is hovering, just out of focus, in the centre of the field of vision of my shortsighted right eye. I cannot blink or rub it away. Whenever my eye moves, the thing moves the other way, then returns to rest in the middle.

It is but one of a number of unwanted objects that have arrived to interrupt my normally clear vision.

Others over the past few days have included: a small, round, grey patch with a tail, on the end of which is a black speck, drifting from right to left; other black specks, some of which appear in sharp focus, like when the titles at the start of a 3D movie spring out in mid-air, appearing to be an arm’s length away, moving around like annoying small flies. I can follow them with my fingertip. There were the flashing lights in the periphery of my vision, thin streaks of light like small meteors flashing down the sky. And then when I am looking at any flat, white surface, with a bit of close focussing I can detect a faint, thin film moving gently downwards like a waterfall, made up of hundreds of tiny, circular dots with, among them, more of the little black flies.

Nothing two weeks on a sunny beach wouldn’t fix.

Have I been staring at this screen from too close-up, for too long? Next month will mark my sixth year of writing this daily drivel. Am I just exhausted, all sugared-out from Christmas wines and chocolates, and was my doctor’s warning nine months ago that I may be borderline Type-2 diabetic too unamusingly prescient? Or could the phenomena be connected with my terrible old teeth, that have been playing up over the holiday – with resultant persistent rhinitis and weeping eyes, and a borderline addiction to Panadol?

Observing this new waterfall effect while browsing in Waterstone’s bookstore on Wednesday, I finally broke and fled next door, which happens to be my opticians, where the very nice new lady optician seemed somewhat alarmed at my description, which I could not resist elaborating for her benefit, as I wanted to keep her laughing. She could not fit me in immediately, she explained, so I should go straight across the road to SpecSavers, where they are better equipped to diagnose the fault – but, she warned me, I should go as a matter of urgency, right now, and report back.

Dutifully, I accosted one of the senior-looking opticians in SpecSavers, and explained the situation. “I can’t examine you now either”, he said, “so you must go straight away to the Accident and Emergency department at the hospital, as your retina is detaching and you will go blind in your right eye.”

Or soothing words to that effect.

Well. What to do? I explored my reluctance, as a) I imagined the A&E department would be facing its busiest time of year, what with post-New Year’s traffic casualties and the swelling number of victims of the Australian ‘flu pandemic; judging by reports, the waiting time would be considerable; and that b) they wouldn’t have an opthalmologist on duty. How, I asked, would my retina be detaching, as I had suffered no blunt-force trauma to the head (I watch too many CSI shows…)? Kindly, he explained that it was sometimes an age-related thing that could be propelled by something as simple as a sneeze. I’ve not been looking too good lately, lined, pouchy and gray – and I’ve sneezed at least once this week, thanks to the sinusitis.

Anyway, it seemed the hospital would prioritize my case on his say-so and summon the duty opthalmologist from wherever they spend their evenings, whereupon I would be sent on to the eye clinic as an emergency, but would not be allowed to drive for four hours afterwards owing to the pupil-dilator they would need to apply to examine my eyes.

I calculated in that case I could be in town until two a.m. What to do about Hunzi, and the food shopping?

The eye clinic. Where, two years ago, I was sent after reporting symptoms involving large, fuzzy grey patches fringed with sparkly colors, and the locum doctor didn’t know how to operate the new computerized photo-the-backs-of-your-eyeballs tomography camera and the technician couldn’t be found and the nurse couldn’t anyway find the printout paper rolls so I had to come back a month later, by which time the symptoms had long gone and it had already been explained to me that migraines don’t always produce headaches – just fuzzy patches with glittery fringes.

And so, gentle reader, I decided to risk the blindness and drove home to feed and walk Hunzi, rather than spend five or ten hours amid the unpredictable drama of the local health service, anxiously perusing months-old copies of My Home! magazine. And here we are, two days later, and my old eyes feel so strained and tired, and this fucking blob keeps floating around – the fly-specks have gone for now, they come and go – but they’re both still just about working.

It’s funny how neither of them on their own produces much of an image, but with both eyes working together I could shoot a person off a hillside two miles away, and often think about who I’d most like it to be.

And so we soldier on.

Stupid? Typical male. But you know, after years of messing about with doctors investigating my enormous prostate, I stopped taking the pills, the hospital has seemingly forgotten about me, there’s anyway an 18-month waiting list in urology for six-monthly follow-up appointments – does it not occur to anyone that our civilization is genuinely broken? – and it’s not perfect, but it’s at least settled down and I’m getting the bad nights and embarrassing days less and less often and it seems my urinary tract is learning how to behave itself despite the many free tests and the impressive medicalization of my condition, MRI scans, peeing in a funnel and all.

With a group of friends last night, I raised the issue of floaters in the eyes and several people said, cheerily, oh yes, we have those too, all the time, annoying isn’t it.

I figure it’s nothing two weeks on a sunny beach wouldn’t fix.

Like, that’s going to happen.

Postscriptum: Eventually I broke and ran, and was operated on the next day. The eye still isn’t working normally, but at least I made £300 from work…. Gentle reader, never be so fucking silly.

 

GW: warning – no surfing on ice floes, ya hear?

Is anyone detecting a pattern?

The last week in October, there were still a dozen locations in the northern hemisphere where temperatures were exceeding 100F during the day. Within a week there were none. Temperatures fell steadily, until in the week before Christmas we started getting reports of record cold, where a few months earlier there had been record heat; and record snowfall, where previously there had been record flooding. And not just in the USA.

2017 was a year with no Autumn; straight from high summer to deepest winter.

It’s tempting to ask, what is going on?

USA: Storm Grayson – ‘The Cyclone Bomb’. Grayson’s central pressure dropped 59 mb in 24 hrs to just 950 mb off Cape Cod Thursday – a record.  “Heavy snow and high winds are beginning to pound the US East Coast along a front stretching from Maine in the north to North Carolina in the south, knocking out power, icing over roadways and closing hundreds of schools. The storm moved governors of multiple states – including New York and New Jersey – to declare states of emergency, a step already taken by governors of southern states.” Thousands of flights have been cancelled. The snow is falling on top of last weekend’s record snow.  Spring tides and a storm surge have brought coastal flooding to many areas, including Boston.

Frozen: a somewhat suspect image of an iguana by an unfrozen Florida pool… (Telegraph)

Temperatures all along the eastern seaboard haven’t risen above 20F (-6C) all week and a further plunge is forecast from Friday night. Niagara Falls is a spectacular ice-palace, Cape Cod Bay is a jumbled mass of ice floes while, down in Florida, deep-frozen iguanas have been photographed, supposedly falling from trees.

(Looking at prior news coverage, the BogPo notices that the eastern USA had winters not dissimilar to this in 2013, ’14, ’15 and ’16… It’s just that this one starts further south and features a rare winter hurricane that will no doubt spin over to the British Isles in the next week. Also, he has learned with fascination that green tree-dwelling iguanas occupy the same niche, being pestilential non-native immigrants to Florida, as green ring-necked parrots do in London.)

Canada: “The storm plowed directly into Canada’s Maritime Provinces, where the New Brunswick capital of St. John recorded a surface pressure of 951.1 mb—its lowest reading at any point in records going back to 1953.”

China: Possibly 10 dead after sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfalls froze water features, cut power to millions and disrupted travel. 16-in snow fell on Shangxi, Shenan and Hubei provinces. Another 12-in of snow is forecast in parts of the country over the weekend.

India: “New Delhi – Cold wave continues to sweep North and East India. Dense fog at several places in the region has affected normal life. In Uttar Pradesh, four people died of cold in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts. The mercury in Muzaffarnagar plunged to 3.4 degrees yesterday, while Sultanpur and Fursatganj recorded minimum temperatures of 2.8 degrees Celsius. … In Bihar, normal life has been paralysed due to intense cold. Gaya remained the coldest place in the state where 3.8 degree celcius. 24 people have died due to severe cold in the state this season.”

“Reports say seven people died in two separate incidents in Delhi and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state on Sunday after inhaling carbon monoxide from coal fires in their rooms to keep themselves warm. The dead included four children in a family in Bijnore in Uttar Pradesh. Kashmir: Srinagar city recorded a minimum temperature of minus 1.8C on Sunday.”

Malaysia: the “annual northeast monsoon brought further heavy rain (and flooding) over the last 2 days. Malaysia news agency Bernama reports that 2 people have died in the floods, one in Kuantan and another in Sungai Lembing, Pahang state.” More than 12 thousand people have been displaced.

Vietnam: Tropical Storm Balavan is arriving with more heavy rain, the third TS to cross the Philippines in a month, killing 2.

Madagascar: Up to 20-in of rain expected, as “Tropical Cyclone Ava was on track to produce what could be the planet’s first hurricane-strength landfall of 2018.” Friday: Ava hits Madagascar with 110 mph wind, killing 6, but is forecast to dissip[ate and wander back out into the Indian Ocean. Capital Antananarivo flooded, rivers on red alert.

New Zealand: “Winds were over 90 mph in some parts, with at least 274 lightning strikes and nearly 9 inches of rain in areas around Mount Taranaki. (Parts of Auckland flooded out.) The massive rain storm followed an unusually dry summer. 1 woman died after a tree fell on a car.” Campbelltown, Sydney, Australia, (06 Jan) the mercury hits 47.3C, 117F, 0.5C off the city’s hottest ever. Hundreds of ‘Flying Fox’ bats die from dehydration; koalas rescued.

Eleanor froths up a storm (ibtimes.co.uk)

British Isles: Heavy rain, strong winds and a tidal surge from Storm Eleanor brought flooding to the west of Ireland. Galway and Cork cities were partly underwater. In England, “winds of 100 mph (160km/h) were recorded at Great Dun Fell in Cumbria. At least four people were injured by fallen trees.” Masses of frothy sea-foam whipped-up by the huge storm were reported along the entire western seaboard of Europe, from Portugal to Northern Ireland. The Thames barrier was closed to protect London from the storm surge.

France: “Storm Eleanor brought down trees and left thousands of homes without power. Winds of up to 147km/h recorded in the Nord department.” A skier in Haute-Savoie was killed by a falling tree; 2 other deaths were reported, and 2 more earlier in Spain. 2 -ft of snow at the ski resort of Chamonix was greeted with delight by operators until it turned to rain and the avalanche warning indicator reached 5/5, curtailing sport. At one point over 200,000 homes in France were without power.

Known in Germany as Burglind, Eleanor led to a falling tree derailing a train near Luenen, while flooding was forecast for Cologne and other cities along the swollen Rhine.

Thousands of tourists have been left stranded after heavy snow in the Alps cut off towns and villages across Switzerland, France and Italy. 13,000 tourists are trapped in Zermatt. More than a metre (39in) of snow fell in parts on Monday alone. On Tuesday, a metre more is forecast. In the Simplon region of Valais, where Zermatt is located, two metres (6.6ft) of snow fell in a 24-hour period, the Swiss ATS news agency said.

Wunderground/ Independent/ Floodlist/ Newsweek, quoting ABC News, South China Morning Post/ India Newsroom Post/ BBC News.

(PS Where is Climate & Extreme Weather News #89? 7 days overdue… Frozen up? )

 

End of civilization as we knew it

WARNING: Do not travel to Egypt without memorizing your catechism (or redacting your bogl Posts…)

Image: Fanpop.com

Deity of the Jackal: an Egyptian god you can have fun choosing to believe in (and stay out of gaol).

“The Egyptian parliament has commenced processes to criminalize atheism in the predominantly Muslim north African country. A legislation proposed on the eve of 2017 Christmas was given consideration by the parliament on the eve of New Year’s Day, the USA Today website reported.

“Under existing Egyptian laws, it is illegal to insult or defame any religion. Blasphemy arrests carry a conviction of up to five years. The new development if approved means just refusing to believe in God could be punishable by law.” (Africa News, 04 Jan)

For a list of Egyptian gods in which you may safely choose to believe, visit wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Egyptian_gods_and_goddesses

Boom time

In Yellowstone news, the unusually intense earthquake swarms that began on 12 June last year are continuing, inside and outside the caldera, with pronounced tremors, outgassing, indications of rising melt and magma movement, water and ground heating, ‘dead fish’ events and strong ground uplift. USGS says “condition green, all normal”.

The Express reports: “UFO hunters have now added more fuel to the fire by claiming to have spotted alien spacecrafts hovering over the Yellowstone volcano, claiming they are monitoring it before its imminent massive eruption.” (The story then goes on to deny itself. We’ll see.)

 

 

The BogPo: Back in your box please, Norman. Now… This Revengers’ tragedy has gone far enough… Assholes is as assholes does… GW: skating on thin ice.

“Hmm. Can’t have the party leader telling me which way to vote…”

“I know, I’ll abstain…”

Back in your box please, Norman. Now.

Another distressing old ghoul from the 1980s-era Thatcher cabinet, a zombie dripping with soil and maggots, ‘Lord’ Norman Tebbit of BALPA has risen untimely from the snow-covered earth and raised his sightless skull to howl at the moon.

His former cabinet colleague, ‘Lord’ Heseltine (they’re all Lords, Time-lords presumably since they all ought by rights to be dead by now, along with their unholy mistress) went on record the other day as saying it might be preferable to have a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn, than to endure the kind of nonsensical, damaging, divisive Brexit Mrs May might be proposing – if anyone, even she, knew what she is proposing.

While it is almost certainly preferable that Hezza is in opposition to the tight-knit cabal of power-hungry pantomime villains in the Tory party, the Bakers and the Patersons, the Redwoods and the Bones, the Duncan Cunts lobbying tirelessly (the Undead never sleep) for the hardest kind of Brexit, i.e. no deal with the remaining EU states, a new British Empire rising from the sea, free from the garlic-munching constraints of one of the most profitable open-border trade deals we have ever had, his remark kind of damns the future with faint praise.

It’s also a tad off-kilter, because Corbyn is just as much of a Brexiter as any cretinous empire-loyalist throwback and neo-Thatcherite, ultra-liberal plotter on the Tory benches. If he wasn’t, he’d be in Downing Street by now, the woolly-pated old clodpuddle who just can’t resist rebelling against the party leadership, even when he IS the party leadership.

And we wouldn’t be headed for a life of servitude under the restrictive domination of the World Trade Organization and its secret court of arbitration; recast as a cut-price offshore tax shelter under the control of US corporations, owned by billionaire fund managers, hanging our fiscal arse out for anyone who wants to come by and pay tuppence to fuck it; proudly waving our second-class blue passports as we queue at the Aliens’ counter of once welcoming vacation destinations (there being some corner of a foreign airfield that is forever England…)

Tebbit’s spectral threat, however, is chilling. He asks of Heseltine: “It must call into question whether his loyalty is to the UK or a foreign power.”

Wow, that’s vintage Trump. Our dead white politicians are clearly learning.

Which “foreign power” would that be, Norman, you loathsome, rotting corpse, you? You always were a bit of a Goebbels figure. Not possibly the “foreign power” that bankrolled this clusterfuck in the first place? If anyone’s loyalty is to the Kremlin, it must surely be yours.

Back in your box please, Norman.

Now.

x

This Revengers’ tragedy has gone far enough

Well-known throughout the English-speaking world, the American writer/broadcaster and “feuilletoniste” par excellence, Garrison Keillor has been fired by the obscure local radio station he put and has kept on the map for the past four decades, Minnesota Public Radio, for putting his hand on a female colleague’s back, as he admits, finding bare skin – and as both originally described it, to console her over some unhappiness she was sharing with him. He would, he avers, have done the same for anyone, female or male.

How to destroy a popular franchise with a few well-chosen weasel words. (Photo: futureperfectpublishing.com)

But she seemed a little leery about it at the time, so, as far as both of them were concerned, she settled for his apology, verbally and in writing, and Keillor thought no more of it until the woman’s lawyer weighed in a few days ago, on (literally) the back of a lot of other, seemingly trivial, vexatious and opportunistic complaints that have followed, among them admittedly more serious allegations, many affecting the broadcasting industry, since the “outing” by more than 20 women two months ago of predatory Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein.

Since when, it has turned into a blamefest that is playing into the increasingly unseemly political “debate” on both sides of the channel, proving so easy to get rid of opponents with a well-judged swipe of a lipstick.

“On Wednesday he (Keillor) wrote a column saying there was no reason for Senator Al Franken, who is accused of sexual misconduct and was photographed groping a sleeping broadcaster, to resign.” – BBC report.

And five minutes later, wham! He’s toast.

There’s nothing like guilt by association to improve a news item, is there. Even if it is libellously inaccurate. So now it’s not acceptable to offer any kind of a defense of someone you think has been pushed to the brink over allegations of minor misconduct you believe have been blown out of proportion, at a time when past flirty behavior is all of a sudden being treated as a serious category error of which all men are automatically guilty without due process? Great.

So here’s my defense of Mr Keillor, and Sen. Franken, for what it’s worth:

The additional reporting on this story perpetuates the allegation that Franken “groped a sleeping broadcaster”. But Franken himself was part of the broadcast! The woman wasn’t “a broadcaster”. “Broadcasters” aren’t generally found “sleeping” on the job! Nor did he actually “grope” her. The story is bullshit.

Before he ran for Congress, the senator was a TV comedian. Such is the American Dream.

The old photograph of him “groping” the woman depicted what was obvious horseplay, apparently on-set during a rehearsal for a skit in a TV show. The woman was not a “broadcaster”, she was another comedic actor taking part in the skit. A BBC journalist should know the difference.

Franken was fully aware of what he was doing, it seems, as he was mugging at the time into the lens of a camera which, if you have genuinely sinister intent, you certainly would not do. His hands do not appear to touch the actor, but hover suggestively over her breasts, which were covered for whatever dramatic purpose with a ridiculous, pointy, armored metal brassiere! She was not “sleeping”, she was pretending to sleep: ACTING a part. Franken was not “groping”, he was simulating “groping”, for comedic effect.

But she has since recalled that he later tried to kiss her…

Whatever else he may have been accused of, however tedious or infantile the joke, Franken was not “groping” the woman. He was pretending to. Comedy was clearly the intent. If he later tried to kiss her, well, silly him. Is it that serious? Actors kiss everyone, all the time. People kiss actors. Kissing is a social thing, it isn’t rape.

Politicians too: I seem to recall Tony Blair disgracefully snogging Col Muammar Gadaffi, a serial rapist and pedophile whose supply of Semtex to the IRA had killed hundreds of British citizens. I was on a course recently, we all hugged goodbye at the end and a woman I was not physically attracted to and had shown no sign of interest in, someone I barely knew, kissed me full on the lips. Should I call my lawyer?

We don’t know the precise circumstances; only that a woman many years later says she was so outraged, so humiliated, so… sexually assaulted by a fumbled kiss from a colleague? that the man has to end his political career on her say-so. Why? Well, because she’s a woman. Surely enough evidence for anyone: women can’t possibly be expected to cope with a little flirtatious attention. And if Franken was a bit flirty, a bit gropy, a bit louche, so what? Millions of men are, always were, it’s what makes the world go around. Ask Simone de Beauvoir. Ask Collette, Anaïs Nin… (Strangely, French women seem to get it… Americans derive their matriarchal power from not getting it.)

There was a time when flirtatiousness between men and women was an expression of human sexuality rather than a patriarchal power-fantasy. It cut two ways – women had their stratagems – and was not just tolerated: it was a game of two halves, as someone once said about soccer.

What is really disturbing is that it is no longer a defense to point it out. It’s okay for a woman to put on 3-inch denim hotpants, 6-inch heels and a boob tube, drink a pint of vodka and stagger out into the nighttime streets to get sex off any drunken guy they fancy. No, it really is. But why is it now a retroactive, career-destroying offence for a man to flirtatiously put his hand on a woman’s knee in a bar at a political convention? Is it a crime to want human contact? We’re programmed to. Is it a crime to point that out?

Because “inappropriate sexual conduct” such as wolf whistling or propositioning or casual touching in a non-threatening manner are not criminal offences: they were bad manners; now they’re a political policy.

We should perhaps remind ourselves from time to time that whoever resurrected this “evidence” of past misconduct that – among later accusations of similarly flirty masculinist behaviour –  drove Sen. Franken to resign would have been well aware that he is a Democratic senator, that the Republicans have only a slender majority in the Senate, they have difficult and frankly lousy bills to get passed and they know too that their irascible President has been accused of, and is self-confessed to, far worse predatory sexual behavior, from which some distraction is required.

Of course they are going to make the most of it; especially in the light of accusations against their equally appalling candidate in Alabama, the unspeakable Roy Moore. (Unfortunately, his sexual peccadilloes have occluded his vile racial and religious bigotry.)

Oh, and did I mention that when the ‘Golden Showergate’ dossier came out, Trump joked that he knew all about the form of blackmail known in Russia as “Kompromat” because he too owned hotels; hotels perhaps not dissimilar to the one in which his son-in-law, Jared Kushner’s dad compromised his own brother-in-law, filming him secretly with a prostitute and sending the tape to his wife, his own sister, to get him to drop his testimony in a fraud trial? And that the President is now accused of having sex with porn actresses after only one year married to Melania, women he’s bought off? And nothing is going to happen as a result, because it’s not illegal?

There are surely degrees of offense, some of which seemingly require that the supposed offender should be blackmailed into a course of action favorable to the blackmailer. There will however be voices raised in support of Charlie Kushner, disapproving of prostitution, or hotels, or something.

Did Keillor masturbate, like Weinstein, allegedly ejaculating into a plant pot in front of this woman? Did he emerge naked from the hotel shower and ask for a “massage”? Did he threaten to destroy her career if she didn’t have sex with him? Did he call her up like Bill O’Reilly of Fox News used to, and tell her he was playing with himself while they talked? Did he make gratuitous remarks about how she had great tits, push her up against a wall and kiss her, or try to “grab her by the pussy”? Did he exonerate himself by claiming she was too ugly to have bothered with, or impose a legal gagging order threatening her with financial ruin? (All allegations have been denied by the men concerned.)

No, according to Keillor he touched her on, as he thought, a “safe” place (as we men have been taught to regard various supposedly non-erogenous zones of a woman – given that it is impossible and psychologically inadvisable to go through life without sometime touching at least one other person) on the small of her back, in what he claims was, and she accepted at the time was, a sympathetic gesture of solidarity. But of course, he’s a middle-aged white man, so we can’t possibly believe his version of events.

And now she’s gone and terminated his career, one imagines through her lawyer demanding the not-for-profit station pays them both off handsomely over this singular incident, which – according to the report – did not involve any actual impropriety, other than a hand patting or rubbing or pressing on her back, which can often be misinterpreted as a perfectly innocent, decent human gesture. Nice person.

Nor is Keillor yet being painted as a serial rapist – give it time:

“The station said it did not know of any allegations involving any other staff.” – BBC report. (That’s after 42 years with the station.)

Nevertheless, in stark terror MPR said it would:

  • end its contracts with Mr Keillor and his companies
  • stop broadcasting his syndicated show The Writer’s Almanac
  • stop rebroadcasting highlights from A Prairie Home Companion
  • change that programme’s name
  • separate from an online catalogue and website associated with him.

Over this one incident that allegedly took place, its propriety in retrospective dispute, we know not how long ago.

From all that we do know, this grotesque, Stalinist un-personning of Keillor, this cowardly airbrushing of their star performer and his folksy shows that millions have listened to with pleasure for over 40 years, would seem so egregiously over-the-top and so unnecessary, so unfair on the listeners, so hedged about and justified with weasel words, that it surely now behoves every male on the planet, even the gay ones, especially the gray ones, to come forward dressed in chains and kneeling in contrition, to renounce their jobs and dismantle their families, who ever engaged in any physical contact whatsoever beyond air-kissing and cooing ‘Hugs, babe!’ from a safe distance with a female of the species.

I’m sorry, I may be entirely wrong, I’m not an advocate of harrassment, but we seem to be gripped by a collective insanity involving a vituperative historical revisionism, in this case of what formerly passed for normal interpersonal behavior until the rules were arbitrarily changed last November. I sense a feeling of triumphalism about the #metoo movement.

We might as well die out. We deserve it in so many ways.

 

Assholes is as assholes does

Trump… Weinstein… Kim Jong-un… Rodrigo Duterte… Boris Johnson.

Stuart Jeffries has an entertaining piece in the post-Boxing Day Guardian, about how 2017 was the Year of the Asshole, according to a book: The Asshole Survival Guide: How to Deal With People Who Treat You Like Dirt, by Robert Sutton (Penguin Books).

Generally, assholes (in the American spelling) are people who abuse their authority to diminish others, while themselves acting like complete dicks.

Whaddaya mean, my tie is in your tea? (photo: forfreepsychology.com)

Like the MD of an ad agency I briefly worked for, who would give you a hazing, snarling at you with his stale breath and fishy, pale-blue eyes magnified tenfold by pebble lenses, from a distance of two inches, seriously questioning your loyalty and why you needed to go home before eight p.m. after working a 14-hour day.

As the most profitable creative in the building, I once asked for a raise and he snapped back with: “So who would you like me to fire, so they can pay for you to have more?” And then pocketed the entire staff bonus pool for the year, lying to us that we had made a loss, to buy himself a yacht.

And the time he sent his most cowed and creepy fellow board director illegally round to my house, to check that I really did have a horrific sweating virus with a temperature of 108 and wasn’t just malingering.

Or the MD of another company I briefly worked for, who was so organizationally conflicted he needed three PAs just to even try to keep his appointments and his over-generous promises to clients on-track.

This asshole would order the most junior person in the office to phone a supplier to negotiate a discount after the supplier had already delivered and invoiced the job, standing behind them screaming: “Tell ‘im ‘e’s a fuckin’ cunt an’ if ‘e’ doesn’t give us 30 per cent I’ll fuckin’ destroy ‘im…” And once on the way to a meeting, realizing he’d double-booked his appointments, he asked me in a panic to take over with one of the clients, promising me a bonus if I screwed the guy for a £5 thousand budget for a project. I came out with £10 thousand, but of course I never saw the bonus.

A man seemingly without qualifications or any redeeming features, he eventually achieved the Holy Grail of assholery – 100 per cent staff turnover in one year.

And then there was the editor of a terrible freesheet newspaper I freelanced on out of desperation as a subeditor one day a week. This baboon had been a printer, or ‘stone-hand’ as the troglodytes called themselves, on The Sun and had no journalistic background. He would sit brooding in his glass fishtank, from where he could monitor all our screens, before erupting four times a day like a Pixar octopus to scream at some unfortunate, occasionally me (my limited typesetting expertise had been gained in book publishing): “Oi pays you fuckin’ Fleet Street rates (he didn’t) an’ Oi ‘as to do all the fuckin’ work meself!” before correcting some tiny discrepancy in the alignment of the text across the gutter of the pages and slithering back to his dark and watery domain.

I once observed him brutally firing a raw recruit, a young trainee who had foolishly given up his tenancy to travel 250 miles to a new town and a new job. On his first morning the “editor” had told this kid to go and interview a publican who had ejected a drunk from his bar the previous night, having called the police – and to take a photographer and come back with 20 usable shots. Of course there was nothing to see but a self-satisfied bloke and a building and not a lot to say, the story having already been widely reported, so he instantly and loudly fired the kid, who left in tears.

I decided at that point that the only way to treat this “bosshole” was with serene detachment, because he was really a comic character, the perfect caricature of a ruthlessly efficient Alpha male presiding tyrannically over the world’s most dysfunctional weekly: a disgusting piggery of a newsroom filled with broken equipment, burnt-out screens, unsorted piles of paper, old food cartons everywhere and pervaded by the sweaty smell of fear. The day I quit, he looked at me with horror and asked, piteously, “Why, was it something I said?”

Ironic, then, that a thread of quite witty and profound Comments inspired by Jeffries’s piece should be summarily terminated after only 134 entries by an asshole on the Guardian Comment staff posting imperiously:

“Comments here were opened in error and will be closing shortly. Thank you.”

Thus denying your Uncle Bogler the opportunity to get in early with a merry quip. “Opened in error”. Why, was it not considered a prize piece of assholery to censor Comments on a popular and amusing subject? Was there something political, did people suddenly start attacking immigrants or Brexit remoaners? What “error” caused a supposedly grownup, independent, liberally-minded national newspaper to flee from its responsibility to allow a reasonable opportunity for public comment? Fuck you!

I don’t respond to 20-something Guardian editor Kath Viner’s tragic daily pleas for money to keep going. I did once, about a year ago; sending her a grateful blogging pensioner’s tenner, before I read in Private Eye that the Scott Trust, the holy body that owns the Guardian, was sitting on a cashpile of around £600 million. What’s more, the sanctimonious pricks at The Guardian act like an institutional asshole toward their own journalists, operating with a minimal staff, imposing on them low-paid, zero-hours contracts that include provisions like a compulsory annual month off, which thereby excludes them from pension rights, and so on.

And what are the Grauniad hacks minimally paid to do? Why, to offer a reasoned daily post-feminist critique of über-capitalism and the gig economy!

This could just be the year I wean myself off an adult lifetime’s dependency on all such assholes.

Thank you.

x

GW: skating on thin ice

UK: “…findings from power research group MyGridGB show that renewable energy sources provided more power than coal for 90% of 2017, figures up to 12 December show. British wind farms produced more electricity than coal plants on more than 75% of days this year. … In April, the UK had its first 24-hour period without using any coal power since the Industrial Revolution.” Snow has closed roads and airports, ahead of Storm Dylan (30 Dec.)

Malta: a private jet belonging to Britain/Belize’s tax-dodger-general, Tory donor Lord Michael Ashcroft, was picked up and blown through an airport fence, crashing into an office building Thursday, by a powerful gust of wind. Struck back in August by a ‘Med-icane’, the island has again been hit by a powerful storm system, with 5-meter waves, thunderstorms, hail, torrential rain and a single-digit cold snap all in the forecast.

Australia: SE Queensland swelters through a Christmas heatwave, until powerful storm cells bring strong winds, heavy rain and hail, smashing up homes, breaking car windshields and causing power blackouts. “Cricket-ball sized” hail batters the small town of Athol, near Twoowoomba (just as England’s Cook was battering cricket-ball sized, er, cricket balls for his 244 in Melbourne). More storms are forecast for the New Year’s weekend.

Philippines: the death toll from Typhoon Tembim (TS Vinta) stands at 240, with 107 still unaccounted for. Whole villages were washed away or buried. The remnant typhoon, downgraded to a TD, is now battering Vietnam.

USA: Much of the eastern mid- and NE US is experiencing record cold and snowfall in a huge swath from the Arctic circle down to Florida. Erie, Pennsylvania is under five feet of snow, that fell in a day and a night. “3 to 4 more feet” is the forecast. 50th State, Hawaii has had near-record rainfall and flash floods; 6-in fell on Maui airport in 24 hours. Meanwhile, heatwave conditions persist in the far SW and California, where the Thomas fire is 80% controlled.

And as for Alaska… temperatures this December have been “20 to 30 degrees above average”. 2017 is likely to be the costliest year ever for the US in terms of weather disruption. 700 scientific staff posts are reportedly vacant after a wave of resignations at the US Environment Protection Agency.

Oceans: “…on December 21, sea surface temperatures were as high as 31.7°C or 89°F north of Australia. In line with rising temperatures caused by global warming, sea surface temperature anomalies are high across the oceans. … temperature anomalies over the Arctic Ocean could be as high as 30°C, 54°F.” (Shome confusion here… 30°C is 86°F, not 54°F, which is 12°C. Ed.)

BBC News/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #88, citing CBS News, RUPTLY, Maui Now, et al./ Wunderground/ Arctic News

 

Final word

There’s a cat outside our house…

West Yorkshire police report that they took a hundred thousand completely trivial “emergency” 999 calls in 2017, ranging from: “There’s a cat outside our house and it won’t move, what should we do?” to: “My mum’s at the hairdresser’s and they’ve tinted her hair the wrong colour”. (BBC report, 28 Dec.)

Well, really, if the police don’t have the manpower or the time to send someone to sort out these very real humanitarian crises, where is the country coming to, after eight years of Tory rule?

No wonder people are voting for Brexit.