Snowflakes are falling… D-Day branding… Boo, again, BBC… And boo, Wales… GW: Wiv me skirts a’ flyin’ above me ‘ead… Tunnel Approaching… Morons’ Corner.

Quote of the Week:

It’s a terrible feeling to discover that your country is full of strangers.

Mihir Sharma, writing in Bloomberg on the landslide victory in Indian elections of Modi’s ugly Hindu nationalists.

Your Uncle Bogler had exactly that feeling yesterday afternoon in Morrison’s, perceiving himself beset about by late-middle-aged white couples, seemingly of few means, with strong Midlands’ accents who had, most of them, probably, just voted for Nigel Farage’s Brexit party.

Not my country, mate.

Notes

D-Day branding

The US Department of Energy has rebranded liquid methane (natural gas).

Likening the powerful greenhouse gas to the American military, that liberated Europe 75 years ago, Mark W Menezes, the US under-secretary of Energy, has renamed it “Freedom gas”. We are, he said, exporting “molecules of Freedom” to the world. (Guardian report)

It’s getting more like Dr Strangelove every day over there.

Processed food … “linked to early death”

“People who eat large amounts of heavily processed foods, from breakfast cereals and ready meals to muffins and ice-cream, have a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and early death, according to (a) major study (in France).

“The study, published in the British Medical Journal, does not prove that ultra-processed foods cause disease. Nor does the effect appear particularly large….” (Guardian)

I fear we are all going mad.

 

Snowflakes are falling

“Festivalgoer Renardo Henry, 21, said he saw people passing out in the heat. “We were in the queue, four people had collapsed around us, people were throwing up and shouting for medics, all the staff were doing was throwing water bottles into the crowd of people,” he told the BBC.” (Guardian, 26 May)

Yes, temperatures in London this Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend soared to an unimaginable 20C, 68F – not a record for late May, in fact it was hotter in late February – and young people queuing for three and a half hours for tickets but without the right ‘free drinks allowance’ wristbands, were collapsing everywhere like koalas in the intolerable furnace of the We Are FSTVL – er, festival.

Another crowdgoer tweeted of water bottles bouncing off people’s heads, presumably why “bouncers” are called just that. Alexi Hicken tweeted: “i was trapped inside the tent while all this was going on clinging to a pole so I didn’t get trampled on, after three hours of queuing and the blaring sun it wasn’t ideal.”

Aye, a Pole can come in handy, Brexit or no.

What in God’s almighty name is wrong with these pathetic dwarfs, that an averagely pleasant late spring day bringing temperatures only marginally higher than that recommended by the Shops, Offices and Factories Act, 1963 as a safe working environment, poleaxes them in droves?

How will they cope with June?

Over in Japan, it’s hot. 39C, 104F! They’re still alive and queuing. They’re not clinging to tent poles while water bottles bounce off their heads, thrown, in his best Puerto Rico fashion one could imagine, by visiting President Donald “The Donman” Trump and his sour-looking estranged wife, Moronia.

At least he’ll know what to chuck back at the jeering crowds in London when the gross, lying criminal fraudster pays us a state visit next week. Not paper towels, not double-cheeseburgers, not salted caramel milkshake, but life-saving water bottles.

And whatever happened to Extinction Rebellion? Why were they not on hand to protest the careless proliferation of plastic drinks containers?

Life used to be so much simpler.

 

“We still do not know whose money has been driving the Brexit party.”

Boo, again, BBC

There was a long and thoughtful article in yesterday’s Observer, in which several experienced people from the news industry contributed individually on a topic the Bogler has returned to several times, the public confusion and confirmatory bias generated by BBC News in its ruthless pursuit of “balance”.

The coverage of last week’s European Parliament elections on Monday morning’s R4 Today program was a case in point.

My understanding of how things now work is that there is less separation than in my very brief day at the BBC between News and Current Affairs, benefiting from supposed “synergies”, no doubt – “synergy” being management-speak for operating across different departments with fewer staff, driving the poor beasts to work ever harder.

Anyway, neither on the program itself nor on the news-generated segments and the main hourly bulletin did I hear one very obvious point being made about the result, which could only be released overnight Sunday going into Monday, when Europe – you know, that dozy lot over there – had finished voting for as many Putin-funded neo-Nazis and razorwire fence-erectors as it could find.

Which, in a sense, the ageing miseryguts and bellyachers of the retrograde Brexit party were doing, voting for “strong leadership” and a course of action likely to bring the economy to its knees, stealing the futures of the younger Remain tendency just to remind them who won the war.

We heard, in fact, very little in detail about the European votes, you know, the foreign ones. We heard that some far-right parties and the Greens had basically done well, with a far-left result in Spain.

But we heard nothing, and have heard in all nothing ever on the BBC, of the faceless US and Russian Christian alt-right, anti-women’s rights, anti-Islam, gay-bashing Bannonite campaign groups and billionaire disruptors behind the scenes, funding the nationalist ultras in many countries; including our own.

We still do not know whose money has been driving the Brexit party and paying for Farage’s £million home. If his adoring voters (“Oh, he’s just like us!” Yes, he lives on expenses) could be arsed to find out who he consorts with when he’s not faking a march from Jarrow to London or throwing fish into the Thames, they would shit themselves. It seems the BBC doesn’t want us to find out either. It’s just not on their bucket list to investigate.

Instead, the local story was of the victory of Farage’s Brexiters – who went from nowhere six weeks ago, to 28 comfortably remunerated seats in Strasbourg, by far the largest British group – over both Conservative and Labour, historically the two main parties, who mustered between them only 13 seats, with the ruling Conservative party beaten into fifth place overall on just 9% of the vote.

And, yes, that is one story – one that was made up by the news media long before the event. We could have heard, of course, but we didn’t, analysts pointing out that the Brexiters’ view that Britain is the vassal of an undemocratic EU superstate ruled by faceless foreign bureaucrats in Brussels is completely demolished by attaching the importance Brexit disruptors have accorded to this election to the European Parliament; an election that is likely to produce a very short-lived but nonetheless democratic representation for British interests in Europe, that they want us to give up.

It was indeed a night to celebrate for the Brexit tendency and its candidate list of dismal street-thugs, extreme nationalists, misty-eyed boozers, racists, misogynists, undereducated housewives, golf-club bores, unemployed steel workers and self-publicising reality TV-show hacks, who did indeed pour buckets of milkshake all over the established parties.

They deserved it. Both Labour and Conservatives are irredeemably split on the issue of Europe, have been for years, and have failed to deliver either the non-specific (and undeliverable) Brexit “the People” voted for, again by only a large minority, nearly three years ago, or its opposite, satisfying no-one. Neither has either of them been much bothered about rising inequality, slave wages and the abusive bureaucracy that fails to address those problems.

Now they are paying the price.

What nobody, not even the embarrassingly lightweight Political Editor of the BBC, Laura Kuenssberg, would say out loud, was that Brexit had won only 32% of only a 37% turnout of voters, highlighting the monumental irrelevance, both of the Brexit party and of this election to the vast majority of the population.

It certainly wasn’t going to come up in the main 08.10 Today interview slot with the oafish Leave-supporting junior minister for Children, Nadhim Zahawi – a blustering, ignorant, Hard Brexiting spokesmouth almost as overexposed on BBC Current Affairs slots as Farage himself.

(You bet there was no sign of our now-dead Prime Minister, Theresa May, another of the architects of this clusterfuck quietly fading from view.)

It was not until a quarter of an hour before the three-hour-long program ended that a guest, Lord Heseltine, the sometime flamboyant Tory cabinet minister who dared to stand up to Thatcher, and who was stripped of the party whip last week for announcing that he would vote for a Remain party, the Liberal Democrats – which he did, and they won in his constituency! – pointed out what must have been glaringly obvious to everyone, barring the Editor of the program, the significant fact that:

Remain-supporting parties had won more votes combined than Brexit had done, with two-thirds of the vote. A fair majority on any night. Scotland hasn’t finally filed, but the SNP is another pro-Remain party and looks like it has swept the board. Throw in Labour’s 10 – a three-quarters majority of Labour supporters are in favour of Remaining, it’s only Corbyn, the stubborn lifelong contrarian and 70-year-old student activist, who is refusing to shift party policy off an obscure fence of his own making – and Remain would have won more seats too.

(As Trump has shown, however, it is necessary to do more than just claim a popular majority when institutional biases can come into play to defeat the winner.)

That this was the proverbial elephant in the room (Come on, Bogler, you can do better than that! Ed.), that no-one in BBC News or the Today team wanted, or could bear to, or was allowed to acknowledge, is glaringly obvious. There was no reason, was there, why whoever edited the bulletins couldn’t just say it, instead of hammering home the unalloyed message of a Brexit triumph?

Just say, Remain parties won the popular vote but under our skewed system the seats fell to the Brexit party? Just admit it?

A second confirmatory referendum now would produce a Remain majority, doubtless, and several contributors made the point – but News stuck like superglue to its theme of a Brexit victory and a night of humiliation for the ditherers, giving listeners little chance to conclude that No Brexit After All had just become an increasingly likely option, in a country riven by factionalism.

We are to forge ahead instead with a defeated and despised minority government – plus the doddering remnants of the Conservative party membership – plucking, in their death-throes, on behalf of the entire country, our new Prime Minister from among its own ranks of ambitious little shits.

Some democracy!

It will probably be step-forward, Boris “Watermelon, Piccaninny, etc.” dePfeffel Johnson, the vain, self-serving, adulterous, cynically expedient orator and roguish faux-buffoon, author of lies and racial insults, our very own mini-Trump, who now perceives his best interests hang with the promise of a No Deal exit, but who until the week of the referendum in June 2016 was a Remain supporter, an internationalist who notoriously had prepared articles for his Telegraph column both for and against remaining, just in case the wind changed.

It’s not a good look, as one German journalist on the program noted. (Yes, it is about Europe….) But that kind of careless talk can cost lives – or at least, careers. We can doubtless look forward to a fractious summer with very little enlightenment from our national broadcaster.

Let’s hope the weather, as it has turned over the weekend, remains iffy.

At 20C, there could be bottles flying.

 

And boo, Wales

I voted for Plaid Cymru, the pro-Remain, center-left Welsh Nationalist party that has in recent times modernised, youthed-up, detached itself somewhat from the interests of the farming community and mopped up the Liberal Democrat vote in the Land of Song.

You’d think people here would support them. But, coming second in terms of votes, and with Remain parties jointly producing more votes but fewer seats, there being only four at stake for the entire region, a bit of a travesty given the wide range of demographics, we won only one seat. Fortunately, the one where I live.

The purpose of voting for candidates who are committed to removing themselves from the institution they are campaigning to join is not exactly clear to me. What good can any of these candidates do for their constituents under those conditions? I’d like to see Plaid Cymru, who traditionally haven’t done well down in the depressed Labour heartlands of the Rhondda Valley where the working-class vote was solidly FOR Brexit, a very far raightwing party, challenge the whole farcical situation in a court of law.

Some further devolution from Westminster short of an economically unfeasible declaration of  independence is an obvious necessity; while what Welsh economy there is has been kept going by Brussels. Wales’ extensive university sector, too, is hotly pro-Europe; our research base is strongly linked with European institutions and can only suffer the pangs of separation: reduced funding and knowledge exchange opportunities.

Then there’s the cost to be born of a likely hard border in the Irish Sea – for which, read expansion of Welsh ferry port facilities. None of this will have registered with the Brexit-voting dumbfucks.

EU structural funding for the regions is unlikely to be taken up by a government in England anxious to get itself off the hook of austerity, an economic re-expansion that is likely to cost a great deal of whatever remaining money this feckless Conservative administration has not already pissed away on ferry companies with no ferries.

And that’s another point we’re not hearing mentioned. Britain was supposed to have left the EU on 30 March last. To prepare for the eventuality that we might have to leave without a final agreement on the terms of separation, before trade talks could even begin, the government spent some £4 billion on emergency measures to prevent food riots breaking out; and then applied for, and got, an extension of Article 50 to next 31 October.

They then stood everyone down, cancelled the ferries and switched off the fridges. But if another No Deal Brexit date is looming, say we get to the beginning of October with no agreement in Parliament on a renegotiated deal the EU is in no mind to give us, we’re going to have to crank up the No Deal machine all over again, at a cost presumably of another £4 billion in civil servants and ferries and stockpiling tins of beans and fridgefuls of insulin and putting the army on standby.

Yet to my surprise and shame, and not a little alarm, these Brexit cretins in Wales have done it again. The economic cost of leaving the EU for Wales is appalling, the support for what is essentially an English nationalist project objectionable, but they just don’t care. I have yet to meet one, so I have no idea what they think they have been voting for, since they all voted UKIP at the General Election – and look how well that’s turned out.

I can’t believe it’s the Welsh who are doing this to themselves. The Welsh-speaking rural heartland is solidly Remain. It has to be all those whiney, white-flight economic migrant settlers from Birmingham. There are bloody thousands of them here, ageing ex-motor industry assembly workers with little formal education and bluff, middle England attitudes. The kind who expect fish and chips in Torremolinos and look up to the boss class.

The ones who are stealing our children’s futures, God rot them.

 

But one cheer for Manchester

A tiny light on the horizon, the criminal racist midget and loudmouthed, self-martyring street-thug, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka “Tommy Robinson”, founder of the English Defence League, was sent away with a flea in his tone-deaf ear, whining and crying about some Deep State conspiracy to silence the Voice of the People – his own voice, basically – by the voters of Manchester, who gave him just 2% of their crosses.

At which point, sadly, he lost his deposit. But I’m sure he’ll be back. His kind always are.

 

No cheers for Trumponomics

Despite record low unemployment, “Nearly 51 million US households (43%) don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study released Thursday.

The figure includes 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families dubbed ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what’s needed ‘to survive in the modern economy.'” – CNN

Move to the sound of the guns

But for a totally terrifying minute of your life, catch up with Vice-President Mike Pence’s address recently to the graduates of the West Point military academy, and bunker down:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpSt34qB6K8

 

GW: Wiv me skirts a’ flyin’ above me ‘ead

USA: CNN Weather News reports, in the last 11 days there have been 261 instances of tornadoes touching down  in the midwest, resulting in several deaths, riding on a conveyor belt of severe storm supercells pushing up from the Gulf of Mexico across Texas and Oklahoma all the way up into the Great Lakes. Meanwhile to the northwest there’s record rain and flooding, snowmelt, rivers at “historic levels”, and to the southeast in Georgia and Florida they’re sweltering in 100-degrees-plus heat.

Update: Another 55 tornadoes on Monday, including one extremely severe one, estimated at 1 mile wide, that hit Kansas City, and another death have prompted the US weather service to remark that it’s all a bit unusual. “The past couple of weeks have seen unusually high tornado activity in the US, with no immediate end to the pattern in sight”, reports The Guardian and others.

More storms are forecast later in the week as there’s no sign of a huge, sagging loop in the jetstream moving away from the contiguous USA.

China: “Heavy rain, floods and landslides in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region have left 7 dead and 9,000 displaced. Over 9,000 hectares of crops have been damaged and 185 houses destroyed. A total of 200,000 people have been affected. Tiandeng recorded 242.8mm in 24 hours to 28 May.” (Floodlist)

Afghanistan: “At least 24 people have died in a new wave of flash flooding that has affected parts of the country. Hundreds of houses have been damaged or destroyed. At least 1 person died and 3 are missing in flash floods that hit the neighbouring South Khorasan province of Iran on 22 May.”

“Afghanistan has been blighted by flood events since early March this year. By mid March, 63 people had died and 31 injured. More than 122,600 people across 14 provinces had been affected and were in need of humanitarian assistance. Further floods hit in late March with at least 13 people losing their lives, and again in early April where over 20 people died.” (Floodlist)

Georgia: Heavy rainfall, hail and flooding have caused severe damage to vineyards, which are the main source of income for many households in the southeast of the country. Homes, crops, bridges and roads have all been damaged. (Floodlist)

India: Hundreds of people have been rescued and over 1,000 evacuated to safety after two rivers burst their banks in Tripura province, in the northeast of the country, following heavy monsoon rains. (Floodlist)

Uganda: 8 people are confirmed dead in flooding after intense rainfall hit the region around the capital, Kampala. Floodlist quotes a Red Cross source: “The flash floods have had a devastating effect on the lives of people, livestock, businesses, household items and has affected human settlement. Many people have been displaced…”

Saudi Barbaria: “Heavy rain from 22 May has caused flash flooding in the southwest, prompting dozens of flood rescues and leaving at least 1 person missing.” (Floodlist)

 

Tunnel approaching….

If you were of a mind to go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocGWsGO_DPA at about 6’50” you’d see a graph on Paul Beckwith’s website, produced by Exxon-Mobil’s in-house climate research team, 30 years ago.

It predicts both temperature rise and CO2 concentration from burning fossil fuels.

The warming prediction was absolutely spot-on at 0.89C, by the IPCC’s lights (many climate scientists argue we’re already at 1.85C) but the expected level of CO2 in 2019 was 420 ppm, instead we’re only at 415.7 with peaks over 417. 420 is the prediction for next year.

So there’s plenty more warming baked into the numbers.

It presumably explains why, over the scientists’ heads, the board of Exxon decided to spend $millions on a PR campaign to bamboozle the public into believing the planet isn’t heating and there’s no connection between atmospheric heating and CO2 emissions from burning their oil.

It doesn’t explain why the Trump administration got John Bolton to set up a committee to rubbish the “hoax” science, chaired by a 79-year-old Physics perfesser who says CO2 is getting the same abuse as the “poor Jews” under the Nazis; and that research papers should be “vetted” rather than peer-reviewed.

Antibiotic resistance: “…Some of the world’s best-known rivers, including the Thames, are contaminated with antibiotics classified as critically important for the treatment of serious infections. In many cases they were detected at unsafe levels, meaning resistance is much more likely to develop and spread. Researchers tested 711 sites in 72 countries and found antibiotics in 65% of them. In 111 of the sites, the concentrations of antibiotics exceeded safe levels, with the worst cases more than 300 times over the safe limit.” (Guardian)

Climate emergency: Between 2014 and 2017, the number of jobs in the UK renewable energy sector fell by a third. In the same period, government investment halved. (Report from the Prospect union)

 

Morons corner

Are Americans truly the most stupid, idiotic and gullible of all God’s creatures? Is it something in the water?

The Blessed Mary Greeley continues to stir the pot over a ludicrous myth that NASA is planning to cool-off the Yellowstone magma chamber by pumping lots of water into it.

This story originated about three years ago in a BBC report that said that was exactly what they were not planning to do, but never mind, everyone believes it. (NASA is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, it has nothing whatever to do with volcanoes, except on Mars!)

No-one has ever, so far as I know (apart from me) asked, how much water would it take to cool off 7 cubic miles of 1,000-degree magma, even if the resulting superheated steam explosion didn’t destroy most of the continental United States? Probably the entire contents of the Great Lakes, but don’t tell anyone I said that!

Two weeks ago Greeley reported, or at least repeated, on her otherwise quite informative Yellowstone observation website, that she now bulks out with misunderstood and unchecked news reports, a story that the United Nations is planning to invade an American city to take people’s guns away, as there’s too much violence in the cities.

She prefaced the story with a moan that the authorities are always trying to shut down serious websites that publish information they don’t like.

This most obvious and utterly absurd of fake news conspiracy theories has apparently been taken up by Mr Trump himself, who (according to some obscure source she chooses to believe, and which takes avoiding action by slating the fact-checking website, Snopes, before it can debunk their, er, bunk) has issued an Executive Order. I couldn’t be bothered to keep watching to find out what he was ordering, another double cheeseburger probably.

Tragically, the item is followed by an endless trail of outraged comments from Trump dumbfucks demanding that America declare war or something on the evil United Nations.

How fucking stupid are Americans? It’s unfathomable.

But this not very well educated old woman is being evil, exploiting her clickbait community, who are always praying for her in their weird way, and that’s not a good thing, is it.

There is, as always, some reality behind the unreality, and it is this.

Addressing a rally of the National Rifle Association in Indianapolis on 25 April, Mr Trump sought to gain their approval and funding for his 2020 election campaign by vowing to withold US participation in a proposed UN treaty on global conventional arms control. As small arms are included, Trump argues, it challenges America’s second-amendment constitutional gun rights.

This has been blown up by the NRA propaganda machine into an attempt to take away Americans’ guns.

It’s actually an attempt to limit the proliferation of weapons to terrorists and oppressive regimes that like to spend more money on weapons than on social programs and jobs. It doesn’t in any way threaten  American gun owners’ tiny manhoods.

But you can’t have everything, can you. I don’t suppose there’s a single MAGA dumbfuck who believes that the NRA took $30 million in funding from Russia in 2016 and handed it straight to the Republican party treasury to elect Trump.

Why would they believe it, when it’s true?

 

 

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The Pumpkin – Issue 78: Surviving Brexit… Intemperate outburst: an apology… Sympathy vote… GW: spinning a few more records (Mozambique cyclone LATEST)… EV phone home

 

Quote of the Week

“I’m struck, as the British parliament moves towards the endgame on Brexit, with the number of times Australia, Canada, New Zealand and India have been advanced by the Brexiteers in the public debate as magical alternatives to Britain’s current trade and investment relationship with the European Union. This is the nuttiest of the many nutty arguments that have emerged from the Land of Hope and Glory set now masquerading as the authentic standard-bearers of British patriotism. It’s utter bollocks.” – Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia, writing in The Guardian.

16 days to go…. and Mr Rudd offers us a much-needed reality check, too late I fear: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/11/commonwealth-save-brexit-britain-utter-delusion-kevin-rudd

 

“Yippee, we won that one!”

Surviving Brexit

Never mind! Britain has signed a post-Brexit trade deal with the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea, as the government rushes to sign as many agreements as possible before 29 March. (from BBC)

Just what we wanted: more tariff-free shrunken heads. As if we haven’t got enough politicians already.

Here be weasels

In a caption to a video, 15 March, BBC News explains that children all over the world are expected to skip school today in a mass protest against political inaction on climate change.

Change that, a BBC journalist writes, is “expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events – though linking any single event to global warming is complicated.”

Are these cowardly weasels going to go on forever pretending there is some “debate” about this, and include automatic red-flag caveats with every report that might frighten the horses?

Theresa May during the debate on extending the Brexit negotiating period, 14 March 2019

“Oops, no, we lost that one!”

Intemperate outburst: an apology

The maverick biologist, Dr Rupert Sheldrake most famously posited a theory of “morphic resonance”, that suggested an experimental way of showing that there are metaphysical connections between events in the world that can be explained on a quantum level, as if the Universe is capable of learning through experience and transmitting the information at a distance.

I resort to this idea now, when trying to explain an extraordinary and embarrassing – thing – that has happened. Without wishing to seem solipsistic, i.e. that in this rather isolated state in which I dwell among you, I have come to believe, like poor Mr Trump, that I am personally responsible for everything that happens and that the sun revolves around me.

Over the last couple of days I have taken to binge-watching videos of some of the finest moments in the public-speaking career of the late and much-lamented Christopher Hitchens, the leftwing, humanist polemicist famous for demolishing the absurd deistic arguments of all-comers, high and low, from the religious spectrum.

I have, perhaps, overdosed rather on his thrilling rhetoric and fierce mental clarity

Born in the same year, Hitchens and I come from similarly upper-middle-class, English boarding-school-educated backgrounds, which perhaps explains why we share the same animus towards arbitrary authority and undeserving entitlements. But where he was fiercely intellectual, erudite and widely travelled, I am a lazy, ill-read, cowardly and inarticulate old stick-in-the-mud. Where he liked to get out and take on the rabbis and the mullahs and the incense-sniffers head-on, I just crouch here behind the barricade and snipe.

I was doing exactly that, late last night, and regret it. Unfortunately, with three or four large Scotches under my groaning belt, in a mood of intense irritation (I shan’t explain it, but there were reasons) and in some discomfort from my catheter: both directly, being unable to sit for long without pain; and indirectly, having suffered an instance of unwanted and odoriferous leakage (not connected with the alcohol), feeling unpleasantly moist.

Thus, on a Comment thread beneath a YouTube video of Hitchens administering yet another series of “Hitchslaps”, as the cult that has grown around his memory calls his pithier arguments, to the proponents of supra-natural beliefs, I reacted furiously to some stories in the news, the egregious nature of each of which suggested to me that the religious establishment has lately been regaining the upper hand.

I have never been to Argentina, for instance, but it seems the Catholic church, that not long ago apologised through its Pope for the genocide between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries of almost a billion native Americans, and now having to apologize again for thousands of acts of sacrilegious child-abuse by its celibate priesthood and its centuries-long cover-up by the authorities, continues nonetheless to exert its malign influence over the common people.

Recently, it was reported, religious authorities there had insisted on an 11-year old girl carrying a pregnancy to term, when she was obliged to give birth by Caesarian section to a child forcibly got on her by her own step-grandfather, after they had refused to sanctify the early-term abortion she and her parents had desired.

I hope this strikes you too as obscene. You should therefore consider, as Hitchens does, the horrible thought that in certain parts of the world, child-rape may result in the death penalty – for the child, caught in adultery, not for the older man. That too is a religious edict, directly mandated by God.

In another instance, one of the more exotic places in the world I have actually visited, a long time ago, is Iran. I had a very good Iranian friend at one time, and I continue to grieve for the Iranian people, regarding their theistic fascist regime propped up by the extreme violence of religious courts, secret police and a corrupt “Revolutionary Guard”, as a toad squatting on the face of humanity.

It had nothing to do with Islamophobia – people are free to think as they must – and everything to do with hatred of fascism in whatever form it takes. I had been horrified that morning to learn of the jailing by a religious court of a prominent Iranian human rights lawyer for an outrageous 38 years, with 150 lashes, merely for defending women opposing the diktat of the patriarchal mullahs that they must cover their heads in public; about which the Qu’ran has little or nothing to say, other than requiring female modesty.

These are the same calculating and devious authorities who are keeping a British-Iranian mother, Mrs Nazanin Zighari-Ratcliffe, locked up on a ludicrous forced confession of plotting to overthrow the State; and who have just rejected the latest attempt by the British government to have her conviction overturned through granting her diplomatic status. (Do not imagine Iranian courts permit accused persons to offer a legal defence. Or that Mrs Ratcliffe is the only person in her predicament.) So now their offence is against the British state, not that we intend to do anything about it.

And that same morning, we had learned that the Saudi authorities – I refer to their country as Saudi Barbaria – have dragged into court, with the aim of imprisoning, and/or perhaps brutally flogging, ten token women’s rights activists arrested and tortured despite the specific focus of their protest, the absurd law against women drivers, having recently been overturned by order of the Crown Prince himself.

I hope this strikes you too as utter, misogynistic hypocrisy. These creepy, closed-minded, madrassah-uneducated little men are terrified of women and use extreme, often sexual violence and a twisted version of religious law to keep them in their place.

Anyway, so I posted some fairly pungent remarks about religious abuse, one of which might if taken out of context be regarded as generally anti-Islamic; which was not my specific intention. And awoke seven hours later to the awful news that, at the very moment I had been firing off my ill-considered and intemperate Post, that at any other time would have passed among the general, on the furthest side of the world an appalling atrocity was being perpetrated against peaceful worshippers by a deranged and calculating Australian neo-Nazi, a psychopath in the Anders Breivik mould.

That man is not me. I hope.

Readers of this, my ever-lengthening bogl, must by now be fully aware of my instinctive opposition to violence in all its forms; to authoritarianism, and my detestation of racists. I am a passionate believer in social justice. Through a kind of “morphic resonance” overnight, however, my words coincidentally took or borrowed dreadful shape in the form of an actual bloody massacre of 49 people to whom I wished no harm.

To my mind there is no moral difference between a murderous and bullying regime carrying out daily atrocities in the name of their malign and vindictive God, imposing their wickedness on a cowed population; and the actions of one arrogant and murderous racist who takes upon himself the mantle of avenging angel to punish those who offend him, merely by their appearance. Both are clearly manifestations of that extreme form of psychosis which every normal person, even the non-religious and the atheistic, codifies as “evil”.

So, when I suggested that the Iranian regime was a horrible death cult who should, in that case, fuck off and die, it was not intended as giving licence and encouragement to an actual act of slaughter, which we understand was years in the planning; or as a random assault upon the entire global congregation of Islam.

Rather that, to paraphrase the words of the Christian gospel, in the case of these oppressors, the abominable priestly caste of whatever brand of faith who think they know the mind of their ineffable deity (whom I’m afraid I also insulted) and can therefore act with impunity as a law entirely unto themselves, to oppress others, millstones should be tied around their necks and they should be cast into the sea.

It’s a Biblical metaphor.

I hope that clears it up, to the best extent possible in the circumstances; and I sincerely apologize for any unintended offence.

The Pumpkin

 

Sympathy vote

During his bizarre, 2.5-hour-long homily to the US Conservative PAC conference the week before last, basically these days a bunch of overprivileged, college-educated neo-Nazis in Brooks suits, the Washington Post reports, a visibly sweating Trump (Nixon used to sweat heavily too) succeeded in telling over 100 fact-checked lies during his rambling, disconnected speech, that was all about himself, of course – along with the usual feeble, self-referential jokes and terrifyingly bad impressions of critics and opponents he likes to abuse publicly.

It was another of the impromptu speeches that, er, prompted the US media to wonder long and loudly again about the President’s sanity; or at least, his present state of mind, and whether it was safe to leave him home alone with matches.

His daily average lie count is now 22, up from six a year ago, to a total since being forced into office of over 9,500. It seems unusual that several media outlets should see the need to employ units of fact-checkers to monitor the statements made by the president of the United States at all, but when you elect a pathological liar I suppose it’s too good an opportunity to pass up.

The most extraordinary fact, however, is this. Since his failed summit with Kim Jong-un, the devastating 35-day government shutdown at Christmas and his failure to secure funding for a border wall which 65% of Americans say they think is a terrible idea, his poll ratings have actually been going up.

in November, he lost control of the House of Representatives. The economy is on a slide: on his watch the national debt is approaching $23 trillion, the trade gap is $100 billion wider than when he launched his tariff wars, North Korea is back to testing missiles, his former lieutenants have been testifying copiously to his instinctive criminality, his connections with Russia that he still strenuously denies have been laid bare, his Middle East policy is in chaos, he reportedly works less than 4 hours a day on four days a week and golfs the rest, he continues to promote his own businesses at taxpayers’ expense, sells access to himself, overrules his security service heads on almost every front, continues to waste public money on senseless inquiries into his election result and non-existent voter fraud, opposes the entire scientific establishment of the United States on the climate crisis, refuses to condemn right-wing violence (he’s threatening to invade Venezuela), has had his photo taken with a Floridan chinese brothel-madam who sells her clients access to him at Mar-a-Lago – and his 2020 draft budget proposal blatantly sets out to wrest even more money from the poor, children and the disabled to give to the richest 1%, sucking $1.3 trillion out of Medicaid and $800 billion out of Medicare over 10 years, defunding programs that support the poorest members of his own base, while giving another $25 billion to the bloated military and $8.6 billion to build the border wall he tells his dumbfucks he’s already built. (Oh, that’s a lie, by the way.)

Yet they continue to love and worship him as if he were a cult leader, or a god, whose every word is sanctified. That imagined person he boasted he could “shoot on 5th Avenue and not lose voters” is one of his own supporters, but they don’t mind. They are addicted to his power.

As many legal experts state, he has committed at least eight impeachable offences while in office, and many indictable crimes before. His frenzied efforts to obstruct the Mueller inquiry are unabashed and unabated; as are his undisguised attempts to rollback environmental protections as openly bought favors to his vastly wealthy donors in the Energy sector. He continues to ride on a crazy rollercoaster of White House staff, now on his seventh communications director; to spray out demented tweets savaging his perceived enemies, however trivial their complaints, to abuse the fallen and the dead, and to threaten and bully the media.

No president before has been so obsessed with making crude, disparaging comments, demeaning and abusing and threatening anyone who dares to criticize, in disjointed, whining, self-justifying 4 a.m. tweetstorms full of screaming capitals: NO COLUSION! LIAR COMEY! DEM PLOT! FAKE NEWS CNN! The novelty may have worn off, as no-one but his base seems to care anymore what he says. No president before has so repeatedly praised the actions against his own country of brutal foreign kleptocrats, or torn up so many treaties and abrogated so many common understandings and shared values with America’s allies.

Despite all of that, his arch-enemy, Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi has dismissed calls to impeach him, saying he isn’t worth the bother. It’s a calculated insult, but one that masks an underlying problem: the senior Democratic elders like Pelosi and Schumer are as implicated in the corporatist conspiracy and as far from the zeitgeist of the upcoming generation as the Republicans and cannot find a way out of it.

Now they have a new intake of younger congressmen and women with a more progressive, anti-corporate, anti-corruption, pro-environment agenda, the party may have trouble holding itself together at the polls. There is increasing concern that without an impeachment, whose success is far from guaranteed, Trump could be elected by default for a second, equally or more disastrous term.

Thus 44% of Americans now say they think Trump is doing a good job; of what, is not made clear,

Entertaining them, I suppose.

Watching someone gibbering and sweating in the throes of mental disintegration, someone whose delusions include taking personal credit for the corporate policy of the Apple corporation, then getting the CEO’s name muddled up, calling him “Tim Apple”, and then going to enormous lengths to have his people deny he actually said what the recording clearly shows him saying, another one of those “alternative fact” moments, as if it even matters, is such fun, isn’t it.

This is a man desperately clinging to the remnant shreds of sanity and in dire need of professional help. Impeachment would be a mercy. So severe are his symptoms, he will be the last to recognize it.

 

GW: spinning a few new records

Mozambique LATEST (Fri 2pm 15 Mar):  “Meanwhile, over the Mozambique Channel, Cyclone Idai had built waves up to 7 metres high. As a cyclone moves over water, it drives a storm surge in the face of it. In this case, the surge was about 2 metres. So, before Idai’s approach, the surface of the ocean rose 2 metres with waves rising regularly 7 metres above that – at worst, 9 metres. The weather station at Beira airport is 8 metres above sea level. The tide can rise to a surprising 7 metres as is the case forecast for Friday. Thursday evening’s tide was 5 metres and the storm surge from Idai arrived with it. The waves were driven on top.” (Al Jazeera) Meaning potentially 14 meters (46 feet!) of sea-level rise.

“Communications have been lost from the port of Beira since Thursday evening.”

In its early stages, Idai brought widespread flooding to southern Malawi and the adjacent Mozambique province of Zambezia. At least 80,000 people have been displaced and dozens of people killed. Idai has the potential to drop up to 500mm of rain on its way through central Mozambique. (Al Jazeera)

Further reporting (Thu, 14 March): “The number of people killed in heavy rains and flooding in southern Malawi has risen to 30, while the number of people affected is now approaching 500,000 with an estimated 30,000 of them displaced. Meanwhile the same weather system has also caused flooding in regions of Mozambique, where over 30,000 people have been affected and 7 deaths reported. Heavy rain has also affected areas of KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa, in particular around the city of Durban.” (From Floodlist)

USA: “Snow and gusty winds from slow-moving Winter Storm Ulmer continue from the Colorado Rockies to western South Dakota and much of Wyoming. Deteriorating weather with increasing snow and wind, including blizzard conditions, will intensify in parts of the central High Plains into the afternoon”… as the storm undergoes ‘bombogenesis’ – a rapid collapse in atmospheric pressure, to a hurricane-like 968 mb. Warning includes a swath from northeast Colorado, including Denver, to western South Dakota. Up to 2 feet of snow is forecast.

Updates: Over 1,000 drivers are stranded in cars along highways in Colorado and Nebraska as National Guard troops have braved 90 mph blizzards to rescue them. A state of emergency has been declared. One trooper has been killed and a motorist has died. 7 states are under blizzard warnings. (The Weather Channel)

This is now mid-March… and a poll in Kansas finds 96% of the population is getting fed up with winter! Ulmer has created record flooding in Ohio and Nebraska, some rivers many feet over former record levels (14 March). Meanwhile, further south “a line of severe thunderstorms is moving eastward through portions of central Texas this morning (13 Mar.) Damaging wind gusts hit 85 mph, trashing an Amazon depot at Fort Worth, and 5 people were injured by a tornado in Dexter, New Mexico.” Up to 4-in of rain is forecast.

And a new report from William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science says the fast-flooding Texas and Louisiana coasts could see up to 2 feet of sea-level rise by 2050 (The Weather Channel). Property value losses owing to the threat of coastal flooding in 17 states from Maine to Mississippi between 2005 and 2017 have been estimated at $16 billion. But it’s okay, folks, President Trump says nothing to see, keep voting.

Bet you’ve never seen this before! Upside-down lightning over Ugljan, Croatia, 11 March. Photo: Jakša Kuzmičić.

Venezuela: As electricity blackouts continue to plague the capital, Caracas, into their second week, there’s a brief mention on the BBC News of 40C daytime temperatures there. Your Granny is unable to find any more details, sorry. Googling Venezuela 40C produces only a reference to postage rates.

Brazil: Heavy rain, severe flash-flooding and landslides affected São Paulo State from Sunday 10 March. At least 12 people have died and 6 have been injured. 1200 rescues were effected. Flood water was reported in several neighbourhoods of the city, blocking major roads and causing severe disruption to public transport. Santo André recorded 182mm rain in 24 hours to 11 March.” (From Floodlist)

World: It’s been a winter of extreme extremes, according to Wunderground. “On March 2, Dover, Tasmania, attained an all-time record high of 40.1°C (104.3°F), the hottest reading ever observed in that (furthest southerly) Australian state during the month of March. Just the next day (4 March in the US) minus 46°F (-43C) was measured at Elk Park, Montana, a new (preliminary) all-time record for cold in that state for March.

While the USA and Japan froze solid, many European countries had spells of record warmth for February. Down south, both New Zealand and Chile experienced their hottest-ever summer months: “Chile heatwave breaks all-time records at 10 cities, with temperatures ranging from 35.1°C (95.2°F) to 40.7°C (105.3°F). 40.7°C at Traiguen is perhaps the most southerly 40°C+ reading ever measured on Earth.” On 15 Feb, however, “42.4°C (108.3°F) at Traiguen. New national monthly record.”

And in Angola, bordering South Africa, 41.0°C (105.8°F) at Espinheira, Angola set an all-time national record on 15 Feb. for any month.

In the US, at the same time as a new February record was being set in the UK, of 21.6C (70.9F) (just four miles from where your old Granny’s new digital max-min thermometer was giving her a shade high of 24.1C, 75.4F), “Los Angeles failed to hit 70°F for the first February since records began in 1878.”

A comprehensive list of this winter’s many impressive new world records can be found at: https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/North-South-Winter-and-Summer-Record-Temperature-Extremes?cm_ven=hp-slot-4

Global greenhouse: “The rise in the levels of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in the atmosphere continues to accelerate. Over the past 31 days, CO₂ levels at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, have been above 410 ppm, while on March 3, some average hourly readings exceeded 415 ppm. The levels recorded in the year up until now weren’t expected to occur until April/May.” Rising levels of methane, especially over Antarctica and the Himalayas, and N20 (nitrous oxide, a GHG 300 times more heat-absorbent than C2) continue to give cause for concern. (Arctic News, 15 March)

 

EV phone home

Guardian Green Light reports: “At least a quarter of local authorities in England and Wales have put a brake on the expansion of charging networks for electric vehicles. More than 100 local councils (60 failed to reply) say they have no plans to increase the number of charging points they offer. Campaigners and politicians fear this could hinder the expansion of the UK’s electric fleet..”

Why is that? Because they can’t afford to do it and keep essential services like schools, libraries and garbage collection going.

Your old Granny is astonished. Why is it up to local authorities to instal charging points? On the Council tax many non-drivers and many more non-owners and can’t-afforders of expensive electric vehicles are obliged to pay?

Why are the lousy, cheating bastards selling environmentally ecocidal carbon-emitting fuel and paying PR men to lie about the consequences of burning it, not being FORCED to pay for electric vehicle (EV) chargers out of their obscene mega-profits, in their highly priced roadside filling station outlets?

They already have over a $trillion in fuel subsidies* and cheap concessions from rotten governments around the world, whose corrupt ministers pocket their share of the proceeds. Someone should tell them, that’s enough.

But it won’t be the Department of Energy. A Spokesmouth replies: “Our Road to Zero strategy sets out our commitment to massively expand electric vehicle infrastructure.”

Yes, at my expense, you cunts. Road to Zero is a great way of branding human extinction, as well as my bank balance.

*Latest figures show that 22 banks globally have between them subsidized the oil, gas and coal industries to the tune of $1.9 TRILLION since the Paris accord was signed

The Pumpkin – issue 77: Why Trump hates Puerto Rico… Why we love Randy Rainbow (and you will, too!)… Yang and the Big Yin… A voice from the dead… Eat shit, dystopians… GW: Ooh, what a spin I’m in… Ending it all down under

Quote of the Day

“Unfortunately, the Nazis don’t play cricket. If they did, we wouldn’t be on opposite sides now.” – Capt. Mainwaring (from BBC TV’s “Dad’s Army”)

 

Ivanka Trump, left, and Jared Kushner.

“So long, suckers! Thanks for all the security clearances…”

(Lucy Nicholson/Reuters. Sorry!)

Why Trump hates Puerto Rico

Wanna know why Trump hates Puerto Rico so much?

Maybe because it’s got the word ‘RICO’ in the name.

RICO – The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act – is the 1970 Act of Congress detailing how prosecutors can go after organized crime.

“The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering and allows the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes they ordered others to do or assisted them in doing, closing a perceived loophole that allowed a person who instructed someone else to, for example, murder, to be exempt from the trial because they did not actually commit the crime personally.” (Wikipedia)

In the light of key moments in the Michael Cohen testimony to Congress, when he averred that Trump uses a kind of coded mobspeak to persuade people indirectly to carry out illegal acts that benefit him without putting himself in the frame, and did so in the case of Cohen’s buying the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels with election funds, people are increasingly talking about bringing RICO to bear on his former employer.

No-one yet wants to accuse Trump of being an actual mob boss, a racketeer – but many people from former FBI director James Comey and his successor, Andrew McCabe, to Congressman Schiff and the liberal media are drawing attention to the obvious parallels between the way Trump runs his businesses, the way he suborns everyone around him to do his bidding, reeling them in one bad deed at a time, insisting on personal loyalty and a code of omerta, and the way mafia bosses ran – or run – their ‘families’; spinning a web of corruption, lies and deceit around everyone and everything he deals with.

Just the way Trump tweeted that Cohen was a “rat” is being seen as proof that the president is not the legitimate businessman he boasts he is. Because to “rat” in criminal circles is not to lie, but to spill the actual beans.

And Trump has beans in spades.

Given that Trump’s mentor was the notorious mob attorney and top-level ‘fixer’ of politicians, police chiefs and judges, Roy Cohn, and his associates have included ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, a member of the Gambino crime family, and Felix Sater, an associate of the Armenian-born Russian mob boss Semyon Mogilevitch, who invested unwisely in Trump casinos, it’s not really a surprise.

What is a surprise is that the RICO Act was most successfully put into practise by none other than Rudy Giuliani, the ‘shoot-from-the-mouth’ lawyer Trump now relies on to protect him in countless bizarre media interviews, back in the days when, as a New York Attorney-General in the mid-1980s, and later as mayor, he was instrumental in taking down the city’s notorious crime families.

Could this be why Trump appointed him – and despite his many gaffes, keeps him on? Because he knows more about racketeering and how it is investigated than most lawyers ever will, is Giuliani the gamekeeper-turned-poacher for the head of the criminal Trump Organization, now being investigated by the Southern District Court on at least 18 counts of fraudulent financial activity, obstruction of justice, bribery, extortion, witness intimidation, organized employment of undocumented immigrants, etc.?

You know, stuff the mob does?

In a widely quoted piece in the New York Times today, historian and author, Garrett M Graff writes:

“The parallels between the Mafia and the Trump Organization are more than we might like to admit. … Cohen was clear about the rot at the center of his former employer: ‘Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization is to protect Mr. Trump. Every day most of us knew we were coming and we were going to lie for him about something. That became the norm.’

“Indicting the whole Trump Organization as a ‘corrupt enterprise’ could help prosecutors address the thorny question of whether the president can be indicted in office.” Graff writes. For a second time, Trump could be labelled as an “unindicted co-conspirator” as, from the relative safety of the Oval Office, he watches helplessly while his rackety empire is progressively dismantled around him. At that point, getting himself re-elected in 2020 would not be much help.

RICO would also allow the authorities to seize the assets and interdict the revenue streams of Trump’s entire operation; possibly to prosecute the officers of the company, including Trump’s awful children – and impeach the President himself, actions neither the Mueller probe nor the splurge of inquiries and subpoenas of documents announced by the Democrats having fun with their newfound majority in the House of Representatives seems likely to be able to achieve on its own.

http://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/opinion/rudy-giuliani-trump.html

 

Why we love Randy Rainbow (and you will, too!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7q0bz0sk30

 

Yang and the Big Yin

“There is something deeper, most commentators feel, that he doesn’t want to come out; something for which he is preparing to exercise the Presidential pardon on his own account if Mueller or the FBI gets too close. It is something potentially so serious that he has twice in the past week been prepared to say, or not say, dumb or reckless things that add to the growing tally of reasons to impeach him. He’s prepared to risk his position, to bet the presidency on it.”

The Pumpkin made that comment about two years ago, but we are still really no wiser.

The “thing” he didn’t want to come out then is most probably the Trump Tower Moscow story, that has emerged from the investigations into Trump’s legal fixer and bagman, Michael Cohen – now staring at a three-stretch and pouring his little heart out to Congressional committees.

He and several of Trump’s staff were involved in clandestine Russia trips and meetings during the 2016 election campaign that have since turned out to have been involved with his plans for a huge and lucrative hotel complex, that required Putin’s permission. Plans the boss didn’t want the minor inconvenience of running for President and even possibly being elected to get in the way of.

It’s one possible explanation for why he so vehemently denied time and again he had any business in Russia, which was a Bigly Lie; and why he has done everything in his power to please Putin, as he stood to gain hundreds of millions of dollars from the project. And in part why the puppetmaster, Putin has kept him dangling on a string ever since.

However, those pesky sex scandals never seem to be far away. The Daily Kos website and others are currently digging into a story that starts like this:

“In late February, billionaire Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, was arrested in a prostitution sting centered around a day spa in Jupiter, Florida. Kraft faces two counts of soliciting sex, and prosectors say evidence includes video surveillance taken at the spa.

The investigation uncovered a series of crimes taking place there, resulting in charges that include human trafficking, racketeering and money laundering. (All my italics. A quick divert to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meyer_Lansky will bring you up to speed on the history of mafia activities in Florida and elsewhere.)

“Turns out, spa founder Cindy Yang is quite the fan of Donald Trump and Republicans, and has appeared at a number of Republican events. She was also a guest at Mar-a-Lago for a Super Bowl watch party with Donald Trump himself.” (http://www.dailykos.com)

Yang has also personally donated over $50 thousand to Trump’s 2020 campaign war chest; and she and her family are or were the owners of a number of other suspected “rub-and-tug” massage parlor operations across the state, ten of which have been closed down by investigators on suspicion of employing undocumented women. Since selling her original spa, she has founded a lobbying business fairly openly selling access to Trump during Mar-a-Lago weekends. Did he know about that?

(Incidentally, Googling “Trump; Kraft” will bring all this up on Mother Jones and other websites, including the Miami Herald, which seems to have broken the story in the first place as its reporting is extensively quoted with little attribution elsewhere.)

The story reminds us however of a previous exposé in The Daily Kos, regarding Trump’s New York model agency in the 1990s and a string of under-age, ‘size-zero’ models imported as undocumented migrant workers from Eastern Europe; some of whom may have ended up at another agency owned by notorious pedophile and “man about town”, John Casablancas, a “friend” of Trump’s – along with his 14-year-old daughter, Ivanka.

That line about “charges that include human trafficking, racketeering and money laundering” therefore gains a certain resonance in the light of The Pumpkin’s lead story, above, that the Southern District court of New York is considering invoking the RICO anti-racketeering Act to enhance their powers to investigate the Trump Organization and its officers – among them, his children.

For here is a direct connection apparently between Trump’s operation and another family network in Florida accused of involvement in what look remarkably like organized criminal activities, as listed in both hearings. The Herald reports:

“Facebook is covered in photos of (Yang) standing with President Trump, his two sons, Eric and Donald Jr., Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Rick Scott, Sarah Palin, the president’s campaign manager and an assortment of other high-level Republican operators.”

While she was also photographed alongside Trump with Kraft at a Patriots’ party at Mar-a-Lago.

The Pumpkin has long wondered, and publicly posed the question wherever able, about Trump’s apparent obsession over images of young women with their hands bound and tape over their mouths, bleeding from the eyes, etc. It’s something he frequently alludes to during his rambling campaign speeches about immigrants, traffickers and gang crime.

It may be an image he got from a movie. In a recent speech to his MAGA dumbfucks in El Paso, he recounted as entirely truthful, a completely fictitious scene involving migrants on the border that he had most probably seen in a film, as several keen cinéastes have pointed out. So that could be the most probable explanation for his flashbacks to girls being kidnapped, tortured and even murdered. He saw it in a movie.

What kind of movies does the president watch?

The other explanation doesn’t bear thinking about. But it’s probably all just innocent fun. As The Kos optimistically concludes:

“If nothing else, it shows just how easy it is to buy access, and that should be troubling to us all.”

 

A voice from the dead

A six-week old embryo in Alabama is suing a 16 year-old-girl for aborting it.

Using a new ‘personhood’ law pushed through the legislature by an anti-abortion group, 19-year-old Ryan Magers has brought a joint action together with his putative, never-to-be born son or daughter against his unnamed former girlfriend, the family planning clinic AND the pharmaceutical company that made the pill, for infringing his paternal rights.

No-one is saying who put this little shit up to it, he’s unemployed and can’t afford a lawsuit, but the girl, who was underage at the time and now faces an uncertain future as she has been named in court as “the Mother” is insistent she did not consent to sex. The inchoate bundle of cells she expelled is being named in the case as “Baby Roe”.

It’s not a baby. She’s not a mother. Ryan is not a father. But he is a rapist, and the Alabama court system appears not to care about that part.

It’s the first case of its kind and if the judge rules in favour of the plaintiff it’ll set a troubling precedent in terms of male rights over women’s bodies.

Great news on International Women’s Day. But make no mistake:

The Evangelicals and the Trump Judges are coming for you. (Story: Jill Filipovic, in The Guardian)

 

“We truly live in a world spiralling into madness and the dark.”

Eat shit, dystopians

“Washington’s ambassador to the UK has defended the US’s approach to food hygiene and farming. Criticism of US food standards was ‘designed to reduce not increase trade’,” Woody Johnson told the BBC. “Mr Johnson said the UK should accept American meat as part of a post-Brexit trade deal. ‘To get a robust trade arrangement, that lifts all boats, it has to include farming and farm products,’ he said.”

If that sounds reasonable, The Pumpkin would like to refer you to an excellent piece written for The Guardian this morning by Mr George ‘Useless’ Eustice, the recently resigned Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, on the subject of America’s antediluvian farming practices.

It’s not for the squeamish.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/06/us-chlorinated-chicken-trade-deal-agriculture

Mr Eustice, a farming MP who has quit his post over the usual Brexit disagreements, nevertheless makes some very robust points. Britain was largely responsible, he argues, for raising all the boats in the EU when it comes to more humane farming practices, clearer food labelling and product hygiene.

Are we going to throw all that away to become part of the virtually unregulated Big Food production racket? (He doesn’t mention the Chicago mafia, but the huge US food conglomerates and their lackadaisical attitudes to animal welfare, consumer protection and pollution runoff have mostly grown out of the criminal monopolies and union abuses of the 1920s.)

Well, it’s a good question, George. If you don’t believe we should be bullied into accepting cheap industrialized food dumped on us from the USA, why did you vote to leave the EU, you dismal shit-shoveller? What else did you think would happen? Farmers are committing suicide in droves already because of what you’ve done.

And if there is one thing in your article it might be possible to doubt, it is the optimistic assertion that the Yanks (their meat-producers’ cabal already seeking entry by the back door of the Institute for Economic Reform, parent of the treasonous Parliamentary conspiracy known as Jacobin Irish-Mogg’s European Research Group – are you starting to twig what’s been going on, you Leavers?) are going to accept our rules and regulations.

Yet you are well spoken of in farming circles. We truly live in a world spiralling into madness and the dark.

Britain should tell Robert Wood “Woody” Woodpecker 1V Johnson to go fuck a chlorinated chicken. What does this overprivileged, aristocratic scion of a baby-powder dynasty know about UK/EU food standards and farming, anyway?

How dare he come over here and order us that it’s shit or bust as far as a post-Brexit trade deal with his failing country goes? Is this their subtle way of negotiating? Are we going to accept being a directly ruled province of the criminal US empire and go down the pan with them?

Also, kindly note one detail of Johnson’s remarks. He says: ‘farming AND farm products’. In other words, we don’t just have to take their chemically supplemented, mechanically rendered horseflesh in our shops, to accept the millions of extra food-miles needed to turn us all into gross, waddling blimps and give us endemic cancer and irritable bowel syndrome to keep the US healthcare corporations with which Mr Johnson will no doubt order us next to replace the NHS, happy.

No, we have to accept their “farming” too – i.e. submit to allowing US producers to set up their black-site animal torture-factories in leafy Britain, without submitting to UK/EU regulatory standards; putting UK producers out of business.

No, we’re proud Britons! Oh, oh yes, right, sorry….

It seems to The Pumpkin that so much about America still smacks of the early-20th century: its abusive labor laws, its collapsing infrastructure, its rigged Tammany Hall elections, its casual racist brutalities, its isolationism, its intolerance of any hint of social co-operation (a huge threat to corporate interests) – the ignorance and fear of its citizens, the corruption, racism and institutionalized criminalities of its rotten system of governance; its flag-shagging, God-bothering hypocrisies; its rapacious business culture, its childlike militarism; its desperately limited, fiber-free diet.

Which is why I voted not to leave the EU rather than be dragged screaming into the nightmare of Trumpworld. Could you not see this coming, you pointless, half-witted Leavers swiping kiddie porn day and night, on your piss-stained, pay-nothing-now, sale-bargain sofas, guzzling your fucking giant bargain buckets of lardy chickenshit in roomsful of discarded £4 Primark sweaters?

Welcome to dystopia.

 

Footnote:

A Matter of National Pride

The American Cancer Society says the jury’s very much out on baby powder. But a New York Times article last December describes how Johnson & Johnson has for many years been using lobbyists to fight a desperate rearguard action to convince American mothers that their talc product is free from carcinogenic asbestos contamination; which it possibly isn’t.

“In one instance, Johnson & Johnson demanded that the government block unfavorable findings from being made public. An executive ultimately won assurances from an official at the Food and Drug Administration that the findings would be issued only ‘over my dead body,’ a memo summarizing the meeting said.”

Currently, there are 12 THOUSAND lawsuits pending against billionaire Ambassador Woody Hardon’s family business. No wonder he seems particularly sensitive to criticisms of safety standards in the US factory farming industry. It’s a matter of national pride.

http://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/14/business/baby-powder-asbestos-johnson-johnson.html?mc=contentSEintl&ad-keywords=IntlAudDev&gclid=CjwKCAiA_P3jBRAqEiwAZyWWaNLAPA–AvDWSFF6jt4cYnGxjQDyfLOkpHCPIbB03mOg60PebEUa3xoCAjgQAvD_BwE

 

GW: Ooh, what a spin I’m in

USA: The Weather Channel reports, the contiguous USA (that’s the big bit without the colonies) had its wettest ever winter season (December to March). Averaged over the whole country, they’ve had more than 9 inches of rain (31 inches over the whole year, thanks to Hurricane Florence), with local rainfall and snowfall records set in many places; and the second wettest ever February. It’s never been wetter before in Tennessee. Nome, Alaska held the snowfall record with 69 inches. Despite all that, thanks to a weak El Niño, a warmer December and a Top 10 warm winter in the southeastern states it has still only been the 38th warmest of the past 124 winters.

This may sound familiar, however: “Another powerful low-pressure system will track across the Lower 48 late this week and into the weekend, bringing snow and wind from the West into the Plains and Midwest and a risk of severe thunderstorms to the South.” (Forecast, 6 March). Winter ain’t done yet. Before and after photos of the devastation caused by the monster EF-4 hurricane that tore through Lee County, Alabama last week killing 23 people, can be seen at weather.com/storms/tornado/news/2019-03-05-before-and-after-images-tornado-damage-alabama?cm_ven=wu_videos?cm_ven=hp-slot-3.

Africa: Heavy rains in southern and central parts of Malawi have caused flooding and rivers to overflow, in particular the Shire River in Chikwawa, where local media say 6 people have died and many more are missing in flash floods and river flooding after 160mm of rain fell in one day. (Floodlist)

Indonesia: Heavy rain on Flores Island caused flooding and landslides in West Manggarai Regency early on 7 March. At least 2 people have died, 6 are still missing and 3 reported injured. (Floodlist) There’s also flooding in Java.

Arctic: As we head into spring in the northern hemisphere, Arctic sea ice “Extent (extent is not volume, by the way) for February 2019 averaged 14.40 million square kilometers (5.56 million square miles). This was 900,000 square kilometers (347,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average extent. For the Arctic as a whole, 2019 tied with 2015 for the 7th lowest average February extent in the 1979 to 2019 satellite record.” (US National Snow, Ice and Data Center) BBC reports, Greenland is getting too much rain in winter when it should be snowing, says a new report.

Antarctic: More shocking are the satellite images for the South Pole, revealing an enormous loss of ice that was in extent in January the third lowest since 1981, but in concentration visibly thinning everywhere. “Across the entire continent, there are more than 750,000 square miles of sea ice missing, a record deficit for this time of year. Antarctica will keep shedding sea ice for about another six weeks or so, and is currently on pace to drop far below the all-time record low set in 2016.” (Grist, 3 Jan) The Ross Ice Shelf retreated a month before it usually does. Loss of sea ice leads to shelf collapse, allowing the major glaciers to slip into the sea. A global rise of 3 meters would follow, if they all did.

 

Ending it all down under

Australia: Readers, Spammers etc. will be broadly aware that the climate in Australia has crashed spectacularly. Record heatwaves both for temperature and duration, record floods, cyclones, record wildfires – economic damage, increasing food (and wine!) production problems, major loss of wildlife, another vast area of the Great Barrier coral reef bleached beyond recovery. All these have occurred in the past year.

It’s coming into autumn now and the furthestmost southerly part of Australia, the part nearest the Antarctic – the island of Tasmania – has had an appalling summer of fires rampaging through its unique ancestral forest, while only two days ago, 5 March, the temperature exceeded 39 degrees C.

Controversy over the failed policies of successive governments to take more than a passing interest in these problems grinds on. It’s currently focussed on this phantom “emissions reduction fund” of AU$2bn set up in 2009, that appears to have done precisely nothing as emissions continue to rise, but which has become a political football. Most recently, the Morrison government decided to rename it the “climate solutions package” – from which it has already made a big grant to global mining company RTZ to operate a new diesel-fired power plant up in Arnhemland, adding to emissions.

Finagling of “carry-over” carbon credits has also allowed the government to pretend they’re making progress on meeting their Paris targets by contributing years of past credits – which are earned by selling your excess emissions to less polluting countries – under the old Kyoto agreement, to the current account balance. In the meantime, Australian ministers of the bluffer sort continue to ridicule the science behind climate change, and to promote the country’s main source of energy: no, not vast amounts of free sunlight – coal.

Now there’s a report in The Guardian that possibly explains why they’re continuing with this suicide mission. Lobbyists in Australia have been secretly hurling money into the blazing reactor of official denial and indifference:

“The multinational mining giant Glencore spent millions bankrolling a secret, globally coordinated campaign to prop up coal demand by undermining environmental activists, influencing politicians and spreading sophisticated pro-coal messaging on social media. An investigation by Guardian Australia can reveal the covert campaign, dubbed “Project Caesar”, was orchestrated by world-renowned political operatives at the C|T Group, the firm founded by Sir Lynton Crosby (the genius behind Theresa May’s 2017 ‘Strong and stable’ election trainwreck) and Mark Textor.”

The $7 million campaign has used personalized social media messaging and conventional media to target disinformation – fake news – aimed at undermining environmental organizations such as Greenpeace and companies promoting renewables, and “helped set up online grassroots groups to push positive messaging about clean coal technology”. Or, as Glencore’s spokesmouth puts it: “The project’s objective was to convey simple facts about coal and in particular to counter misinformation from environmental activists.”

I don’t know about you, but your old Granny is warming to the idea that the only solution to these sick bastards and their bottomless pockets the world over is extreme personal violence.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/mar/07/revealed-glencore-bankrolled-covert-campaign-to-prop-up-coal

Hancock’s half-arsed… Coughing your life up… The return of gray text… Enviro-morons award for 2019… GW and the end of everything.

Quote of the Week

“The brutal reality is that we live in a world that is under constant siege by sharks of many different kinds, from the financial markets to Silicon Valley and the White House. The ultimate goal of Russian interference and billionaire voter suppression campaigns alike is to get us to ‘Keep Out’ of politics: to accept the dominance of transnational oligarchs, and to lose hope that things can change.” – Paul Hilder, co-founder OpenDemocracy.org

Jeremy Corbyn with Labour supporters in Middlesbrough, January 2019

What makes you think I’m going to start now?
(With apologies: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

“This is the stupidity of the public pushing itself unwittingly to the brink of oblivion in pursuit of human vanity.”

Hancock’s half-arsed

Genes marking for antibiotic resistance in bacteria have been found in soil samples taken from the beaches of Svalbard, the world’s northernmost inhabited islands up in the high Arctic.

The scientists aren’t sure how they got there. Birds? Tourists? They don’t know. All they know is, it’s pretty disturbing to find that potentially lethal infectious disease organisms can spread from India, where the genes are believed to have first mutated, to the Arctic via the rivers and seas.

How and why they found the genetic material – not the actual bacteria, which would presumably be easier – is not explained in The Guardian story this morning. Were they looking for it? Have either the pronounced warming of the sea around Svalbard – an average 16.9C increase over 2010 was recorded last year – or defense interests got anything to do with it?

The BogPo in its ignorance wonders if the rogue genes might even be naturally occurring and found everywhere?, being unsure of how genes can exist independently without a host cell, but whatever, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has declaimed in his infancy that this is a worse threat even than global warming.

We don’t think so.

The prognosis is that by the year 2050, 10 million people a year could be dying from untreatable infections around the world.

That pales into insignificance, compared with the billions who are not going to make it past 2030 if the planet goes on heating at the present rate, with consequent food insecurity leading to violent socio-economic breakdown.

It is nevertheless concerning, which is why the BogPo raises one critically arched eyebrow at Mr Hancock’s proposal to restrict the use of whatever antibiotics are still effective over the next five years.

Five years? Two thousand people are dying from untreatable infections – sepsis – a year in the UK already.

Doctors could be ordered to stop prescribing antibiotics now for contra-indicated conditions, such as colds and ‘flu, merely as placebo to get rid of demanding patients. Online supply could be made illegal and inoculations (such as tetanus shots) and other preventative measures made compulsory.

Veterinarians shovel huge quantities of antibiotics into the nation’s pets and farm animals, often (it seems to this veteran pet- and farm animal owner) entirely unnecessarily “as a precaution”, or as a growth-promoter, when it bumps the fees up a bit (I don’t care. So sue me!)

Heavy sanctions could be imposed for non-compliance. One of the sillier things the Blair governments did was to get rid of the Central Office of Information, that used to make effective public information films and TV spots – as, for instance, the AIDs campaign pushing safer sex, or the “Clunk-click every trip” campaign promoting seat-belts, that I can still remember 40 years later – and not just because it starred Jimmy Savile. Those boys were good.

People must be made to understand that if they continue imagining antibiotics are a cure-all for runny noses, they could die unnecessarily painfully from a scratch. The script practically writes itself.

The government has already announced that it’s thinking about ways of incentivising the drug companies to invest more in researching new classes of antibiotics. Greedy drug companies haven’t discovered any for the past 30 years, because generic drugs the NHS can afford aren’t as profitable as mass-marketable weight-loss pills, indigestion remedies and hair restorers.

Again, this is the stupidity of the public pushing itself unwittingly to the brink of oblivion in pursuit of human vanity.

 

Coughing your life up

Sometimes it’s necessary to live nearly your whole life in a cloud of self-mythology and bitter recrimination before you start to realize what’s been wrong with you all along.

Take, for instance, my lifelong depression and ‘Eeyore-ish” attitude of “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong”, that so frustrated my employers and colleagues, that I protested was just sensible, prudent pessimism: a glass half-empty being soon refilled by the attentive waiter.

I’d long assumed something awful must have happened when I was small, that has gone echoing down the decades and strikes with an underlying negative emotion whenever similar situations arise. Maybe it was those moments of powerlessness we all experience as children, when you lose the sense that you control anything and have to resign yourself to whatever the adults want, even if you imagine it poses an existential threat.

Or maybe it was something someone said, something critical to me, that rankled at the time and stuck in my brain as a self-perpetuating neurosis?

Such as on my first night away from home, in the strange new environment of boarding school, age just 7, when an older boy suddenly asked me a demanding question over high tea, and I let out a small fart in fright. In front of the whole school, he jumped up, pointed at me and shouted “God, you stink!”

I still remember his name, 62 years later: he was a pale, thin, carrot-headed, freckled youth called Sorby. (I hope he’s good and dead by now.)

And I have stunk ever since.

To the extent that I came to believe that I might have been physically abused as well. That is, before I was. Public school followed, and the relentless pursuit of my perfect 12-year-old ass that preoccupied the older boys, day and night for two years, I’m glad to say mostly fruitlessly, until I developed a carapace of boils and a heavy smoking habit, sloping off to the town pubs and failing miserably to win a place at any university in the land – especially Cambridge, where my clever uncles had all got firsts (one, a double-first!).

Now, however belatedly, comes some relief from those demons.

I may not be as I am, profoundly insecure (deadline-driven) and self-loathing because of that and similar experiences; of shitting my pants, age 5, on a school outing and not daring to tell anyone – in antiquity I seem to have started doing that again, to go with the alternating urinary retention and incontinence, the ongoing battle for space between my bladder, my colon and my hyperplasic prostate; latterly with a rubber pipe running between them all to make sitting on both cheeks a trial.

(Congratulate me, I’ve just been informed by letter that I am being allocated my very own Community Health Visitor! They might be perplexed that I seem to be able to cope perfectly well by myself, given the chronic state of most people my age, but it is surely one of life’s significant moments.)

Because neurologists are waking up to the possibility that post-childhood depression could be largely to do with your early environment:

“Of the 284 children studied, those who lived in the top 25% most polluted areas at age 12 were found to be three to four times more likely to have depression at 18, compared with those living in the 25% least polluted areas.” (Guardian report)

And that compares with only a 1.5-times likelihood of developing depression as the result of physical abuse.

TS Eliott famously wrote in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:

“The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes. The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes. Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening. Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains.”

He was writing about London, city of my birth seven years (for me) before the passing of the 1956 Clean Air Act, when those famous Sherlock Holmesian pea-soupers were common in winter; caused by tens of thousands of fireplaces burning cheap, inefficient brown lignite, a form of compressed peat pouring out huge quantities of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and CO2, that sometimes got trapped for days beneath atmospheric inversion layers.

“Primarily because of latent high moisture content and low energy density of brown coal, carbon dioxide emissions from traditional brown-coal-fired plants are generally much higher per megawatt generated than for comparable black-coal plants.” (Wikipedia: Brown coal)

Astonishingly, the burning of millions of tonnes of this filthy stuff is still permitted – even encouraged – in many otherwise civilized countries; but its domestic use was eventually banned in Britain and, for a time, until traffic emissions took over, air quality improved.

Not before I had lived through the notorious 1953 Great Smog, which may have carried off as many as 12 thousand Londoners in a few days, weakened by years of wartime privation, habitual smoking and endemic lung disease; and many other similar atmospheric events around that time. And through dreary days and nights in the school sanatorium, coughing my guts out as a victim of the “bronchitis” doctors couldn’t tell from childhood asthma in those days.

Research is now showing that not only is carbon dioxide – whose atmospheric concentration has grown to 414 parts per million, from 405 just a year ago and from about 280 before the industrial era – a “greenhouse gas” that absorbs and retains solar infrared energy and is heating the planet to a dangerous degree; but also, that inhaling it in greater than normal quantities over time seriously impairs cognitive function.

Lowered intelligence is a marker for depression. It’s easy to guess how that mechanism works. The inability to fully comprehend, to order events, or to fulfil your potential is profoundly frustrating, especially in a small degree.

The brighter you are to begin with, the more frustrating it can be to find yourself unable to fully maintain concentration; to not quite be able to focus on things or to argue a case coherently; to lose track of words, names, faces, dates and events; to find yourself in situations where you are not fully in control, and to lose motivation as a result.

“Oh, it’s hopeless! I’ll never be able to do that complicated task; solve that puzzle; understand those instructions; read those map directions; hold my own with those clever people; say what I mean; cope with those responsibilities; land that job; write that novel!”

If the piling-up of tiny failings is indeed a symptom of the “yellow fog”, developmental brain damage caused by breathing foul air for so many years, as many city children still have to, it adds yet another dimension to one’s gloomy self-reflection: why despite many apparent successes have I felt such a repeated failure all my life? (It might also cast light on social issues such as inner-city knife crime, and supposedly conquered diseases that seem to be worsening again after many years of amelioration.)

Or was it just a small fart – a whiff of bad air – that set it all off?

I guess we’ll never know.

 

The return of gray text

I’m reading that even relatively reputable, reliable online news sites like the newsy part of Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post – owned by something huge called Verizon – are shedding staff at a frightening rate.

It seems they’re unable to find a sufficiently flexible business model to cope with fluctuating demand for their product while producing any revenue at all to pay the wages.

Several of them went in for video as a distraction from the kind of endlessly boring text you’ll get here, with The Boglington Post. (That’s only because I’m so tech-averse that despite being a Film School graduate (analog-era), I have no clue how you make and upload a video.)

But apparently fickle subscribers no longer like short videos, they want longer ones, and only – erm – broadcasters are geared-up to producing those.

People also like audio podcasts, presumably so they can multitask without chopping off their fingers or getting their ties caught in the machinery.

So we’re back to radio and TV.

What goes around, goes underground, as they say. And indeed, there’s been a revival of interest in this, muh li’l bogl – four viewings yesterday confirm it!

Maybe boring text is due for a comeback.

Postscriptum

I just invigilated another exam today. One poor girl was panicking. She was being asked to base her answers on “two texts”. But they hadn’t sent her any texts!

Turned out, the “texts” were her set books. She had no idea what the word meant outside the context of her phone.

On the shelf

Speaking of layoffs, Tesco has announced 9,000 jobs are to go in the fresh-foods sections of their supermarkets.

No fresh food in Tesco.

Isn’t that going to be rather a bad look?

 

Guitar bore: Loony Tunings… Has been relocated to the next issue for reasons of space.

 

Enviro-morons award for 2019

First candidate up: Morrison’s supermarkets

Morrison’s are to trial 20p paper carrier bags as an alternative to the 10p “reusable” plastic bags I seem to have a kitchen full of, that are henceforth to cost 15p.

Morrison’s marketing hotshop says that the material used to make its paper bags will be 100% sourced from forests that are managed responsibly.

And if new forests are grown to replace lost trees, they say, it will help to offset the climate change impact, because trees lock up carbon from the atmosphere. (Yes, which they immediately begin giving back when you cut them down!)

So no, it won’t. If each tree cut down were to be replaced with only one tree of the same age, the process would be (sort-of) carbon-neutral.

That’s as long as you don’t count the emissions of the chainsaws and stump-grinders, the disturbance of the soil, the journeys of the logging vehicles, the sandwiches and cups of tea of the loggers and the shipping around the globe of lumber on highly polluting diesel-powered cargo ships; the emissions of the power stations required to produce the energy.

The only way to get a carbon-negative outcome would be to replace each cut-down tree with two trees. But then they’d be only a foot high with few leaves and you’d need to wait 15 years before they grew and started to lock-up the same amount of carbon between them as the tree you cut down to make the paper bag. In the meantime, you’d have cut down millions more trees….

By then we’re all dead.

Making, recycling and distributing the paper bag is a carbon-intensive process requiring the use of energy, many liters of otherwise drinkable water, polluting chemicals and waste pulp discharge to the environment. Whereas the plastic bag made from oil you haven’t burned lasts longer and can be reused more times, as long as you remember to take it with you to the store and not feed it to a passing turtle.

The BogPo’s quick ‘n’ easy solution?

Ban supermarkets.

 

GW and the end of everything

Cuba: “A tornado (F3) and pounding rain have smashed into the east of the capital, toppling trees, bending power poles (overturning cars) and throwing shards of metal roofing through the air as the storm cut across eastern Havana. President Miguel Díaz-Canel said on Monday at least three* people were killed and 172 injured, as power was cut to many areas.” (Guardian, 28 Jan) *Now 6.

USA: Winter Storm Jayden. “Warnings have been issued across the upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions. Blizzard warnings have also been issued from central North Dakota into northeastern South Dakota. High wind warnings have been issued for the northern High Plains and northern Rockies.” It’s cold, too: “The Windy City will unfortunately live up to its name, with the National Weather Service office in Chicago predicting wind chills of –35° to –60°F for Tuesday night and Wednesday night.” (The Weather Channel/Wunderground) Death toll as of 31 Jan: 8. (It’s only -27° in northern Siberia…)

Australia: “Torrential rain and swollen rivers have left communities cut off and farmland inundated in parts of northern Queensland, Australia. Over 620 mm of rain was recorded in Whyanbeel Valley, between Port Douglas and Daintree in northern Queensland, in a 48 hour period to 27 January. Several other areas received over 500 mm during the same period.” (Floodlist) Meanwhile, hot air from Australia’s long-running heatwave is beginning to affect New Zealand, with temperatures climbing over 35C.

For a heartrending moment, watch a koala holding the hand of a householder who is feeding her water. news.sky.com/video/koala-demands-water-during-record-breaking-heatwave-11617129. Thousands of animals have died from heat exhaustion and dehydration during two weeks of 40C-plus temperatures.

Europe: Snow in some quantity is forecast for Tuesday 29th spreading across much of Ireland and the British Isles. Update, 31st Jan: “The UK weathered its coldest night of the winter so far. Braemar in Aberdeenshire was the coldest place in the country as temperatures dipped to -11C (12.2F), which was 0.2C lower than the previous record for 2019.” Really? It’s not freezing here on the west coast, and no snow, certainly none settling at sea level.

Meanwhile a severe low is forming in the Bay of Biscay, with peak winds expected over Brittany, France of 160 K/h. Intense rainfall is indicated once more in extreme northwest Spain and in particular in northern Portugal, where totals will exceed 100 mm over a large area. Significant snowfall is expected over the Pyrenees and parts of northern Spain where up to 50 cm is expected.

As many as 5 tornadoes hit Antalya, southwestern Turkey on the 26th. Major damage was reported in the city center. Antalya Airport was also hit – 12 injured. Skies turned orange over the Cyclades on the 25th and more Sahara dust is expected this week across Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, pushed by a broad low over the eastern Med. (All from Severe-weather.eu)

Japan: Organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have “decided to shift the start time for the men’s and women’s marathons to 6am – an hour-and-a-half earlier than originally planned – to avoid the health risk to runners and spectators from the intense heat later in the day. The men’s 50km walk will start two hours earlier, at 5.30am, the newspaper said, citing sources close to the Games. In July last year a record 133 people died from heatstroke or heat exhaustion with thousands of others admitted to hospital.” (Guardian)

CO2 latest: “On January 21, 2019, hourly average CO₂ levels well above 414 ppm were recorded at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, the highest levels since such measurements started. A recent Met Office forecast expects monthly averages to reach a level of 414.7 ppm in May 2019*. The forecast expects annual average CO₂ levels at Mauna Loa to be 2.75 ppm higher in 2019 than in 2018.” Contributing thus to an additional 0.5C of warming by 2029. (Arctic-news.blogspot.com). On January 23rd, “sea surface temperatures near Svalbard were as high as 18.3°C or 64.9°”.

*Postscriptum: at end-April 2019 daily average CO2 was exceeding 415.5, with hourly readings over 417 ppm.

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser went off on the 25th for the third time in 2019, after last year’s record 32 eruptions. Earthquake swarm continuing. (Mary Greeley)

Cretins’ Weekly

“On a day that Trump ridiculed concern about climate change because of the current blast of arctic weather in the midwest, the (chief of) intelligence’s report also includes sombre predictions of the repercussions of global warming. Trump has dismissed climate change as a hoax, and on Tuesday tweeted: “What the hell is going on with Global Waming? (sic) Please come back fast, we need you!”

We suggest the permatanned amoeba goes to live in Australia, as he clearly has no idea what weather is.

 

Welcome to a BogPo “Brexit- and Trump-free” zone! Knowing, “no-ing”, none… You said it, not me!… review: Hiromi. Is this a record?… Answers from the blue… GW: and the heat goes on…

Welcome to a BogPo Brexit and Trump-free zone!

750 coruscating Posts!

Quote of the week

“We were caught off guard by surveillance capitalism because there was no way we could have imagined its action, any more than the early peoples of the Caribbean could have foreseen the rivers of blood that would flow from their hospitality toward the sailors who appeared out of thin air waving the banner of the Spanish monarchs. Like the Caribbean people, we faced something truly unprecedented.

“… We are the native peoples now whose claims to self-determination have vanished from the maps of our own experience.” – Dr Shoshana Zuboff, author: The Age of Surveillance Capital

 

You said it, not me!

Judging by the reviews, #amazonshitcarshow (sic) is just about the right name for Jeremy Clarkson’s new series.

Oh, sorry, that’s “Amazon’s hit car show”! Why didn’t they say sooner?

Millennials, eh?

 

“I’m also quite concerned about going extinct before I die.”

Knowing, “no-ing”, none

An article in Psychology Today (12 Jan) attempts with an air of bewilderment to work out why it is that humans, when faced with an overwhelming existential threat that just might be averted by a radical rethinking of their current modes of behavior, prefer to go on flying long-haul as if nothing is happening.

My immediate response was to cite the tragic case of Deasy Tuwo, 44, a scientist working at a pearl-fishing farm on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, who died last week after being partly eaten by a 17-foot long, 740-lb crocodile she had been feeding as a pet.

What the fuck did she expect would happen? Personally, I take care around my cat; still bearing as I do the livid three-inch scar on my arm from when I tried to evict a stray from the house, thirty years ago. I would maintain a very healthy distance from a 17-foot crocodile, I assure you.

Thus, through the application of the precautionary principle I have attained my 70th year.

I’m also quite concerned about going extinct before I die. But unless you lot start to come around, there’s not much more I can do, other than keep writing the GW column in this, muh li’l bogl, for the benefit of my average five lovely Likers, Spammers etc., who are probably stuck in my echo chamber anyway. I’m really not reaching the unconverted.

One could instance probably millions of cases in which people act in their own worst interests, despite the evidence staring them in the face.

The death toll in the recent disaster in Mexico, where 73 people (so far) are known to have died while siphoning fuel from a ruptured pipeline is matched by the incident only the week before, in which 80-odd Nigerians died in an identical “accident”.

The only reason gasoline powers your car is because it’s flammable, dummies. It’s a highly volatile liquid, and you’re standing too close. But you didn’t know that, right? So you lit a cigarette, pleading poverty and fuel shortages as an excuse.

Then there’s Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Always a bit of a tearaway, giving new meaning to the phrase “advanced driver”, at the age of 97 he seems to have developed a death wish.

First, he overshoots his wife’s driveway at Sandringham, careers blindly across the main road into the path of an onrushing vehicle (endangering the lives of two women and a baby, to whom – being a royal – he refuses to apologize) and is sent rolling over and over. Aided by a passer-by, he drags himself from the wreckage unscathed, and the next day is back behind the wheel of an expensive replacement car taxpayers have magically produced for him – having then to be “spoken to” by Norfolk police for failing to put on his seatbelt.

What is he like? As they say. Well, whatever else he may be like, he is certainly in denial of something that ought to be staring him in the face. He’s past it, okay? Just accept it, mate. You must have plenty of chauffeurs hanging around, furtively smoking and speed-dialling the editor of Hello! magazine. Why not engage one?

Anyway, it seems that psychologists have begun banding together to see what’s to be done about the problem of mass denial.

The earth’s climate is overheating, the heating is accelerating (93% of it so far has gone into the sea), it’s our fault for continuing to burn vast amounts of carbon-emitting fossil fuels while denuding the globe of the forests that used to lap up the CO2.

The effects are already glaringly obvious. Food and economic insecurities are mounting, species are going extinct, the web of life is torn asunder and nobody will survive if the climate state should suddenly shift gear into runaway mode, which it will do when (not if) huge frozen reserves of potent methane gas are liberated by the warming we have already generated.

Rising sea level is the least of our worries.

But as long as one diehard attention-seeker continues to insist that we are instead watching the dawn of a new ice age, or that the warming is because the sunspots have disappeared; or who argues that the climate always changes and and will change back again, we are screwed.

So many people want desperately to believe the disinformation of those who imagine they can go on profiting massively from their current business models and who see no need to worry consumers. To change would, after all, affect “our way of life”, that capitalism has assured us is sacrosanct.

Let me assure you: it isn’t.

 

Review: Hiromi, “Time Control”

Is this a record?

I have a dreadful habit most evenings of hitting on YouTube clips of music by artists I normally like and sometimes whizzing straight over to the Amazon with an order for the CD.

Hiromi Uehara is possibly the most virtuosic and inventive improvisational pianist in the jazz canon, ever. People have compared her with, I don’t know, any of the great names listed as her “mentors” while a student at Berklee: Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea, I could go on endlessly with examples of great pianists she is compared to but I won’t. Comparisons, as they say, are odious. She’s pretty bloody good, is all one can say.

We all make mistakes in the course of our careers, though, and her 2007 album “Time Control” with her Sonicbloom group is possibly the most egregious I know of. Profoundly disillusioned, I have just binned my copy on first hearing and shall chalk the expense up to experience.

(The only other album I have ever bought and binned instantly featured the dreadful American jazz singer, Melody Gardot, with her nauseating, syrupy arrangements.)

The short excerpt from “Time Control” I heard on YouTube is, of course, great. I have several other albums and videos featuring Hiromi, as she simply styles herself, and they’ve amply repaid the investment in listening time and money.

Otherwise, the rest of the tracks on the album are just different takes on a childish post-funk noise experiment, exacerbated by the frequent annoying overuse of an electronic keyboard effect akin to the wah-wah pedal beloved of guitarists in the mid 1970s.

It reminded me of those ghastly, cutesy little chemically-dwarfed East European gymnasts wiggling their pert little asses at the judges on the mat at the Olympic games of about the same vintage.

It’s easy to understand how Hiromi, who usually delivers a stunning blizzard of notes firmly grounded in a metronomic left-hand, could possibly feel that a Steinway grand piano on its own just isn’t enough. I have heard it said, both of Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk, very different stylists, that as musicians they were seeking the spaces between the keys. In jazz, it’s easy to see why; you soon run out of notes.

On stage, Hiromi performs at the piano alongside a couple of synthesisers, sometimes playing both acoustically and electronically at the same time; then dives inside the piano to pluck at the naked strings, or resorts to a hammered percussion effect.

Anything, to relieve the monotony of her own brilliance.

Not being gifted, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be allowed to push your gift so far out into the universe, only to find there is an end to everything eventually.

In this case, I’m afraid the elastic snapped.

 

Answers from the blue

I have recently returned once again to attempting difficult crossword puzzles at bedtime. It’s a test, to see if my increasingly fragmented thoughts and memories thoughts and memories – see what I did there? – are terminal, or merely symptomatic.

The hardest one I find is the Genius-level crossword in The Oldie magazine. Hard, because it invariably contains lights that have no clues, or only part-clues, that you have to divine according to a convoluted rubric I barely comprehend.

The unclued lights generally include the name of a famous person, an author or artist, from history; and the titles of some of their works. The only key being their dates. You can sometimes guess what and who they are from the clues you can actually solve, but it helps to have a knowledge of art and literature. I must have skipped those classes.

Anyway, Saturday night and encroaching sleep left me stuck for any suggestion as to who the famous person was, two words, who was – so the rubric said – born 200 years ago next month.

The following morning just before 9 o’clock I turned on the radio. The annoying presenter of Radio 4’s Broadcasting House magazine, Paddy O’Connell, a grown man seemingly afflicted with ADHD, was giving his usual random rundown of the programme’s forthcoming content.

I was delighted immediately to hear him announce a feature on John Ruskin, the C19th polymath and art critic, born 200 years ago next month, because the name fit perfectly with the two letters I already had in the down lights, and we were off again (Googling is cheating. Okay?).

The universe works in mysterious ways. It never lets me win anything on the Lottery, or sell my house, but occasionally it delivers answers to tricky questions.

 

GW: and the heat goes on…

Australia: In the last ten days Oz has had five of its hottest ever recorded. The Bureau of Meteorology said preliminary readings showed daily national temperature highs averaging 40C. A high of 48.3 °C was recorded at Tibooburra Airport (NSW) (Severe-weather.eu) The town of Noona in New South Wales meanwhile recorded a night-time temperature of 35.9C. It was the highest minimum temperature ever recorded anywhere in Australia, the BOM said. And there’s no sign of an end: temperatures on Friday (18 Jan) will soar above 42C in “broad areas”, the bureau predicted. (BBC News)

Antarctica: Since December 25, Antarctic sea-ice extent has set calendar-day record lows every day for more than three not-so solid weeks. Satellite-based records from the National Snow and Ice Data Center go back to 1979. Typically, Antarctic ice reaches its minimum for the year in late February or early March (late summer). As of Monday, January 14, the extent was 3.979 million sq km, which is well below the value of 4.154 million sq km observed on that date in 2017. Land ice too is melting at an alarming rate. Scientists have reported a sixfold increase in the loss of Antarctic land ice over the last 40 years. (The Weather Channel)

USA: As California continues to be pelted by successive storms carrying heavy rain and feet of snow in the Sierras, causing mudslides and evacuations in the tree-depleted fire-zones of the last two summers, “Winter Storm Harper has already pummeled parts of the West with heavy snow and will spread its mess of snow, ice and wind into the Plains, Midwest and Northeast into this weekend. The storm will tap into cold air once it moves through the central and eastern states Friday through the weekend, delivering a widespread swath of significant snow (1 to 3 feet).” (The Weather Channel)

Russia: Temperatures plunged to -57.5 °C in Delyankir (Sakha Republic) in far eastern Russia last night. This part of Russia is the one of the coldest places on Earth and the coldest inhabited area – the (fairly) nearby Oymyakon holds the official lowest recorded temperature in the northern hemisphere: -67.7 °C on February 6, 1933. (Severe-weather.eu) Generally colder weather with more snow is forecast over western Europe up into the British Isles while a 10 degree warmth anomaly persists over Greenland.

South America: “At least 3 people have died in flooding and storms that have affected several provinces of Argentina over the last few days. Strong winds caused damage in Santiago del Estero. Record rainfall was recorded in Resistencia, Chaco. Authorities have warned that the Uruguay River could reach danger levels. The river has already broken its banks upstream, causing flooding in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, where some areas have recorded almost 500mm of rain in the last 3 days. Stormy weather has also caused at least one fatality in the state.” Heavy rain has also affected parts of Uruguay, and there have been floods in Peru and Bolivia. (From Floodlist)

South Pacific: Severe weather brought by tropical cyclones Penny and Mona has affected several Pacific islands over the last 2 weeks. At least 3 deaths have been reported with a further 6 people thought to be still missing. Strong wind has damaged homes and crops, while heavy rain and storm surge has caused widespread flooding. Red Cross volunteers have been helping with evacuations and relief operations in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, the Marshall Islands and Kiribati. Flooding was also reported in parts of Papua New Guinea. (Floodlist, NB, some of this reporting dates from the last week while the BogPo was mostly offline.)

Africa: “Violent storms and flash flooding triggered by heavy rain have affected the south east African countries of Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique over the last few days. Over 20 people have reportedly died since 09 January, 2019.” (Floodlist) 18 of the casualties were caused by lightning strikes over Mozambique.

 

Disappearing acts

Yellowstone: with hundreds of cubic miles of magma still inexorably rising toward the surface, an unusual ‘screw-wave’ earthquake, or ‘Tornillo’ was recorded 48 hours ago at 6km depth under the Grant region of the lake. An almost identical seismic wave pattern heralded within days a major eruption in Iceland in 2011. (Mary Greeley)

Another problem being, the people at US Geological Survey who are supposed to be monitoring the Wyoming supervolcano’s increasingly alarming antics and advising people in the event of an impending cataclysm are on unpaid leave, thanks to Trump’s insane shutdown of parts of the government.

The deaths of small towns… 9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by… Postscriptum: the outcome…Something’s got to give… The Hallelujah Chorus… GW: Maybe the weather isn’t over, after all…It’s all blowing off… Trust us to lead you.

Thought for the Day

“Were I, or anyone, able to somehow get hold of a cosmic vacuum-pump and suck out all the uneventful, blank bits of our lives, like evacuating all the air from a Bell jar; and heat the rest up over a Bunsen burner, how much of a brown powdery residue of achievements and adventures and excitements would be left in the bottom of the tube?” – Uncle Bogler, in a previous Post.

 

“For God’s sake, Boris, come down and stop showing off, the bus has gone!”

The deaths of small towns

(A message to Brexit boobies)

“(Crispin) Odey, one of the most outspoken of the Brexit-backing hedge fund managers, holds a short position in Intu – the owner of shopping malls – that represented £33m worth of shares in the company at the end of last week.

“He also holds a position against struggling department store Debenhams that is worth £5.3m. The firm also appears to be betting that Britons’ appetite for cars will fall … The firm has short positions against Lookers, a large dealership chain, and Auto Trader, the online used-car directory.

“In total, his hedge fund, with headquarters in Mayfair, has taken out £436m worth of declared short positions against British companies, of which nearly £150m are consumer-facing entities.”

Why is the billionaire Mr Odey doing this? Because of the lovely lucrative uncertainty you have brought about by your incurious nonsense. It’s exactly what these money-breathers – and Vladimir Putin – have been hoping for. Hedge funds stand to make billions out of uncertainty in markets.

But before you voted you’d never heard of hedge funds, right? No idea what they do? What ‘shorting’ means? Well, think of an each-way bet on the gee-gees. You hope you’ll win more than you’ll lose, or at least get back some of your stake, if your horse doesn’t come in first. (Generally, the bookies win.)

But just the act of betting enough money against those companies’ shares going up will help to drag them down. That’s when the hedgers cash-in. Hedge fund managers are punters; but they’re also the bookies: the odds are 101% stacked in their favor. That’s why they’re billionaires and you’re not.

That’s why they invested £millions in supporting the Leave campaigns; the lies you fell for. Because disrupting the relationships between trading partners is the ideal way to create uncertainty in the markets.

Wait, there’s more….

“At the same time, Marshall Wace, one of the UK’s largest hedge funds with $35bn (£27bn) in assets under management, holds declarable short positions equivalent to just under £1.4bn – more than any other investor in Britain.” (Guardian Business)

You get the idea? They’re betting huge sums of money that more of our high street stores and other British businesses listed on the Stock Exchange will go under as a result of Brexit chaos.  Money you will never see back. Stores you will never see back. Jobs you will never see back. Boarded-up shops – the deaths of small towns.

You think they care?

Meanwhile, clever old George Soros, the everso liberal-minded philanthropist frequently accused of plotting with his Jew friends the Rothschilds to control the world, who in 1992 nearly pulled down the entire British economy on “Black Wednesday” by betting against the pound, is holding a £10 million side-bet that WH Smith, the venerable High Street stationers’ shares will fall.

What do you tragic clowns who voted to leave the relative safety of the European Union because you were miserable and wanted to “send a message” think was the prime mover behind the Leave campaigns: your sovereignty? Your shabby, disempowered, drug-ridden, hopelorn former industrial communities? Ha ha ha. Fooled you.

Well that’s just gone by the board as Theresa May has abrogated the power of Parliament to even vote on the leaving agreement she herself has negotiated, so afraid is she of losing the vote. What now?

More lovely uncertainty. And as stock markets plunge, thanks to the uncertainty created by the greatest disruptor of them all, Santa Trump, hedge funds will be raking it in this Christmas.

So much for your ludicrous, Union flag-waving ‘sovereignty’, you’ve voted to live in a dictatorship. How many times in history has a promised Parliamentary vote been cancelled because a hopelessly divided Government has no confidence in its ability to win it? …er, possibly at the start of the Civil War? This is a major constitutional crisis you’ve unleashed, in your ignorance.

You poor fucking turkeys have voted to cancel Christmas, for the foreseeable future. But nobody was listening. Chip-chop….

Well, not you personally, BogPo readers, safe here in our cozy filter-bubble, or whatever the current expression is, as outside the anarchic working-class dons its yellow vests and prepares to fight for the hedge fund managers.

I’m preaching to the converted. This message is for those who aren’t reading it:

You’ve been had, and you’re fighting the wrong enemy.

“Any minute now I’m going to take off this latex mask to reveal… Underwoman!”

9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by

I realized with a start about half an hour ago that today is Tuesday.

Who knew?

Instead of trolling idiots on The Guardian website, in my usual day-long haze of viciously barbed self-righteous indignation punctuated with coffee and mince pies and duty-walks with Hunzi, I should have been a) at an early practice and b) going on to sing carols with my old choir at the old folks’ drop-in center in town.

I’d have missed the early practice anyway as I didn’t get up until gone 10.00, having already forgotten about it, despite receiving a reminder the evening before.

The days go by here, I no longer know what they’re called; they’re all the same.

I had agreed to do those things to help out, and once again failed. I hate myself, I am always doing it, it shows my isolation and that I probably just don’t care enough.

This is a choir I sang with for many years, but which had drifted in a direction of which I disapproved, away from robust World Music to hippy-dippy shit: moons and stars, feminism and futile appeals for peace; Zulu campfire songs, as I call those three-line chants with crunchy harmonies and untranslatable lyrics (repeat until you hyperventilate) that “Natural Voice Practitioners” learn in wimmen-only summer camps then fan-out far and wide to spread the gospel to community choirs made up of doughty veterans of Greenham Common and CND; and never the same stuff two weeks in a row.

It also had begun to irk me considerably, that a “training choir” originally for people who thought they couldn’t sing had so many long-time members who after years still had no confidence, who still had no idea about harmony, who still had no knowledge of basic musical notation and who still held the other sections up endlessly while they giggled and nattered and faffed about, pretending it was all too difficult, oh dear.

Why was I always the only one who would volunteer to take a solo?

Now I have a hospital appointment for next Tuesday, apparently, to have this desperately uncomfortable and inconvenient catheter removed, connecting my bladder directly via my elderly feller to a bag strapped to my leg, that sometimes brings on contractions, and leaks so that I have to wear a nappy.

Over time, my house has begun to smell of a curiously medicalized smell of fresh pee. “Trial Without Catheter”, they’re calling it. TWOC actually has its own printed leaflet. Although I have come to appreciate that not having to dash to the nearest loo or find a handy tree, wetting myself on the way, has been a bit of a boon, this damned tube is always pinching and snatching, sitting is hell, while putting on shoes is a trial….

The tube was inserted in an emergency back in July, but such is the nature of the National Health Service that appointments for anything inessential are often months away. My trial was not until the end of February next year, but this morning the hospital phoned with the offer of a cancellation, so naturally I grabbed it: this damn thing is the main reason I wasn’t going to visit family over Xmas as a 6-hour drive there and back the next day was not going to be pretty.

My worry now is, it’s another Tuesday morning – 9.00 am.

And 9.00 am and Tuesdays always pass me by.

Postscriptum: the outcome

So I made it on the dot for my TWOC (Trial Without Catheter – apparently, it’s a thing). I sat for an hour and nobody came. There was only one other person also waiting; the hospital seemed curiously deserted; the staff well trained to avoid eye contact.

Eventually I approached the receptionist to ask why I was there, and an elderly male charge nurse popped out through a doorway behind Reception, most apologetic, all the operating theatres were full as they had to clear the backlog of delayed surgical cases before the holiday.

But I don’t need an operating theatre! It’s just a simple procedure, a nurse could do it! Yes, but that’s what’s been booked, so that’s what we have to do, and we haven’t got the availability. We’re ever so sorry, can you come back at the end of January?

Since then my widely distributed family whom I am not now going to see at Christmas have been bombarding me with giftwrapped parcels from up the Amazon, so maybe it’s not such a bad outcome after all.

 

Something’s got to give

Do you want the good news, or the bad?

Well, they’re the same. USGS has announced the find of a huge 20-year reserve of oil and gas under the New Mexico desert, stretching across into Texas.

The specter of mile upon mile of nodding derricks intruding on the dramatic upland desertscape is appalling; but inevitable, as the vile Trump administration trumpets America’s noble self-sufficiency and low gas prices forever, while going all-out to drain its resources to the profitable lees as quickly as possible – before the planet burns down.

The only hope is, this is another load of oil-industry bullshit and it’s not as exploitable as they’re pretending. It was probably known about for years already but had been consigned to the 10% of “maybe someday” reserves. The argument for leaving this stuff in the ground is overwhelming; but not as overwhelming as the shareholder greed that will see it exploited by hook or, more realistically, by crook.

Yesterday there was a halfhearted intervention at the UN climate conference in Katowice as the US delegation got up on its hind trotters and began once again preaching the benefits of Trump’s fatuous “clean coal” fantasy. The Polish police have been notably successful in muting protest. It’s estimated, subsidies to the fossil fuel industries will soon run into the trillions of dollars in the effort to keep Exxon-Mobil, Koch industries and all the other ecocidal polluters afloat.

You can try and put a yellow vest on energy taxes, but you’re still paying in a roundabout way through your income tax and – the most regressive of all – VAT. M. Macron has announced a $114 a month raise in minimum wage to assuage the anger of the French “gilets jaunes”, the voices of the disempowered and the disappointed “squeezed middle” of provincial France, but that’s only going to increase the proportion of the tax take that gets passed on to the energy sector; meanwhile, lower fuel prices raising demand.

Something has to give, and soon.

 

Hallelujah chorus

Women in Guatemala are only one vote in parliament away from facing from five to ten years in gaol if they cannot prove in court that their miscarriage was a natural event. Otherwise it will be assumed they have behaved irresponsibly, or have had an illicit abortion.

Same-sex marriage is about to be made illegal, as are civil marriages. Any kind of “promotion” or teaching in schools and even universities on the subjects of homosexuality or gender identity – any lifestyle “incompatible with the human being’s biological and genetic features” – is to be outlawed, and acts of discrimination against the LGBTQ “community” legalized.

The country will also withdraw from any international conventions aimed at protecting the rights of minorities identifying as non-heterosexual or having transitional genders: “We are preventing Guatemala from engaging on any convention on gender diversity, says MP, Elvis Morena, who is pressing for the changes to the constitution.

The vote is currently postponed, owing to wrangling over the budget bill.

What it will effectively do, if passed, is to seal the growing power of the Evangelical Christian churches in Guatemala, where their pernicious form of far-right “Christianity” has been gaining a death grip.

As Diana Cariboni writes on Open Democracy:

“Bill 5272, proposed to ‘protect life and the family’, “is the first bill drafted by the evangelical churches in Guatemala”, said its drafter, Elvis Molina, a lawyer and pastor with the Iglesia Cristiana Visión de Fe (Christian Church Vision of Faith).

“It was introduced in Congress last year as a popular initiative supported by 30,000 signatures, and was immediately endorsed by 22 legislators led by Aníbal Rojas, a member of the evangelical party VIVA (Vision with Values).

“The draft law was then approved by a constitutional committee in Congress and passed two reading sessions on the floor. It’s now just one plenary vote from becoming official legislation.”

Welcome to Evangelical Disneyland.

And consider this: hugely wealthy Evangelical churches and their billionaire fellow-travellers in the US and Russia are bidding to gain the same kind of power over legislatures around the world – in the USA, where poor agnostic Mr Trump is obliged by his Evangelical Vice-President Mike Pence to endure a hand-waving, breast-beating, eye-rolling prayer service every Sunday at the White House, thanking God for extreme corrupt Republicanism – in Africa, especially, where in some countries same-sex relations carry the death penalty; in Russia, where Mr Putin is an enthusiast; and even in Britain, where the sanctimonious, sweaty-fear aroma of US and Russian Evangelism has been detected in the funding of the Brexit “Leave” conspiracy.

You have been warned, these people are vicious, arrogant and dangerous; seeking, in their most extreme manifestations, to impose their own patriarchal version of Sharia on a world reduced to mute, barbaric incomprehension and Biblical subjection to the most atavistic, superstitious belief in the non-existent Sky God and his imaginary Son.

Intolerant, authoritarian, controlling, loveless and fixated on the transfer of wealth from the very poorest to the very richest, this Millennarian death cult is not a version of Christianity recognized by many Christians.

But it’s coming our way.

Alle fuckin’ lujah.

GW: Maybe the weather isn’t over, after all

Indonesia: Heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in several provinces of Indonesia, leaving at least 9 people dead. Damaging floods were also reported in West Sumatra. It’s not been a good year. A government spokesman acknowledged that between 01 January and 10 December 2018, there had been 2,374 disaster events across the country. As many as 4,211 people are dead or missing, almost 7,000 injured and 9.95 million people displaced or affected. (Floodlist)

Vietnam: “at least” 2 dead as flooding and landslides have damaged roads and railway lines. Schools have been closed in some areas. Further heavy rain of up to 200mm in 24 hours has been forecast for central areas. (Floodlist).

Cyprus: At least 4 people died when their vehicle was swept away by flooding near the city of Kyrenia on 05 Dec. Damage was also reported in the capital Nicosia and roads and schools have been temporarily closed. The flooding was triggered by heavy rain that has fallen since 04 December. (Floodlist)

 Israel: Heavy rain from Wednesday 05 Dec. caused flooding in several areas, including Tel Aviv, Yavne and Rehovot, where dozens of children had to be rescued from their flooded preschool building. No injuries were reported. (Floodlist)

 UK: The Met Offfice is warning people to stay home and watch old movies tomorrow, Saturday 15 Dec, as unusual freezing rain is expected to make conditions treacherous for Xmas shoppers. Up to 40 cm of snow is expected in the Scottish highlands. Then on Sunday it’s all going to warm up again. (BBC)

 Canada: Flash flooding on 11 Dec. caused severe transport problems in parts of Vancouver. Emergency crews responded to at least 30 flood-related emergencies. Between 30 to 60 mm of rain fell in a few hours in parts of Vancouver. Port Mellon, 35 km NW of Vancouver, recorded 77mm of rain in 24 hours. Heavy snow is forecast for British Columbia.

 USA: Another storm over California and mudslides shut down parts of the Pacific Coast Highway, prompting evacuation orders in wildfire-scarred areas. Severe flooding was reported in the city of Costa Mesa. Downtown LA recorded its highest amount of rain in one day (06 December), 1.9 inches (48mm) beating the previous high of 1.01 inches (25.65mm) set in 1997. Heavy snow forced the closure of Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley. (Floodlist)

Preliminary research by precipitation expert Dr. Kenneth Kunkel of the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, has found that the three highest-volume rainfall events in the U.S. in the last 70 years have occurred since 2016. (Wunderground)

 Australia: Destructive “zombie cyclone” Owen with 200 K/h wind gusts is bearing down on the north of Australia with coastal residents being told to brace for the worst if the system reaches Cat 4 today. The “very destructive and severe” cyclone continues to increase in strength as it heads back towards Queensland, promising to deliver a deluge in its wake.

It comes as the southern end of Australia receives record-breaking levels of rain in Victoria and flash flooding with authorities warning “it’s not over yet”. People have had to be rescued from the roofs of their cars. 100 motorists are stranded close to the freeway at Wangaratta while the State Emergency Service has received 400 calls for help. (News.com.au

 

 It’s all blowing off

Prof. Paul Beckwith, a renegade Geographer semi-detached from Ottawa University who has devoted his life, his intricate website and Facebook page to explaining climate change issues and interpreting the latest research, has done his own investigations into warnings posted recently by other, less qualified satellite watchers, and confirms

“The unrelenting increase in global levels of atmospheric methane (this autumn – even today) went literally off-the-charts used to display methane for the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS)

“Methane levels were so high that they swamped out the colour scheme used in the map legend, causing saturation in large red blobs with little detail. The colour legend was shifted by 100 ppb to more clearly show the detailed structure of where methane was being emitted

“Methane release in the Arctic from thawing terrestrial and marine permafrost, and from methane clathrates on shallow continental shelves are a huge and ever increasing risk.

Just so you know.

Because the recent, watered-down reports from IPCC and others giving “urgent” warnings that aren’t urgent enough, are mainly concerned with warning governments about CO2 emissions from human industry and don’t emphasise the main danger, from natural methane emissions exacerbated by runaway Arctic warming.

But of increasing concern, are rising methane outputs over the Himalayas – India and China. So far, those very high readings are unexplained.

 Endispeace

Trust us to lead you

Borderline insane, avowed racist and homophobe Senator Steve King of Iowa, returned in all his seedy glory by dumbfuck redneck yippee-ki-oh voters at the midterms, was in a session questioning Google’s high-powered CEO, Sundar Pichai about various conspiracy theories to do with the internet – whatever that is.

In addition to demanding a list of Google employees broken down by religious affiliation, presumably to prove his theory that they are a Godless bunch, the good Senator brandished an iPhone and demanded to know why it was showing his 7-year-old grandaughter his picture.

Google of course has nothing to do with iPhones.

Taken with the Georgia Republican senator who last year expressed the view in a hearing on climate change that sea-level rise is caused by rocks falling into the water, you finally realize, the age of extremely dangerous dumb is upon us.

Many of these clueless, uneducated legislators don’t believe anything that isn’t in the Bible.

And that’s God’s honest truth.

Trump in the dock… On the up. And then the down… We believe this job may be of interest to you… GW: Ain’t nothin’ but a whole lot of somethin’ goin’ on… Old King Coal.

Quote of the Week

“…you can’t expect people to think about the end of the world when they are worried about the end of the month.” – Guardian Comment on the riots in France.

 

“The number of people in England aged 45 and above admitted with a drug-related mental and behavioural disorder has soared 85% over the last decade.” (BBC)

And you thought we baby boomers were such squares!

 

“If you’re going to kill people, Mr Salman, I wish you would do it more discreetly. Can I recommend a program of benefits reform?”

 

Trump in the dock

STOP PRESS: “Maryland and Washington attorneys general have armed themselves with more than 30 subpoenas approved by a federal judge, and everyone will find out how the president has profited or potentially profited personally.” – says one independent, probably not very reliable web source tonight, 05 Dec.

No-one else seems to be reporting it but we do know the Southern District court of New York has been pursuing lines of inquiry suggested by the FBI’s trawl of documents and recordings taken from Trump’s bagman, Michael Cohen.

The subpoenas can force the evidence to be produced in court, relating to Trump’s egregious breaches of the Emoluments clauses, whereby his businesses have profited from government patronage during his tenure; into his illicit foreign business ventures, and into widely reported financial abuses involving personal use of his and family members’ charity Foundations.

The stony faces of former Presidents and their wives as they took their places along from the Trumps at the funeral of that old monster, George Bush, spoke volumes. And, in the wake of the heavily redacted account of General Flynn’s 19 sessions with the Mueller team, recommending he be not imprisoned*, Fox News contributor yesterday admitted, wide-eyed, that there might be “something in the Mueller investigation” after all… And nobody on the panel contradicted her.

The ex-CIA man, Bush had at least managed to look and sound like a grownup President while he was laying the foundations 33 years ago for the Nicaraguan migrant caravans today, laundering money through Iran to arm the Contra rebels, promoting the cocaine trade and slaughtering possibly 3 thousand Panamanian civilians just to remove his own embarrassing drugs mule, General Noriega.

While to Bush we can owe the ludicrous belief Trump clings to, that tackling climate change will cost American jobs.

May he rot, quite frankly.

 

*I can’t help wondering if the different treatment Mueller is recommending for Flynn, a former 2-star general, whom he has said need not go to jail; and Cohen, a street-fighting mafia ‘soldier’ for the Trump family, who he thinks should get three years, both of whom co-operated, is purely a piece of snobbery from the Purple-heart decorated former marine?

 

On the up. And then the down.

Many science reporters with perhaps a less than dedicated calling or much understanding of the facts are still giving the false impression that carbon dioxide emissions somehow stopped between 2013 and 2016, giving us pause for relief.

Of course they didn’t! The rate of increase may have slowed owing to the global recession, but we continued adding 37 billion tonnes to the atmosphere during those 4 years; the average rate of increase in concentration remained constant at 3.6 parts per million per annum.

Now, it seems, CO2 has come roaring back in 2018, with emissions set to increase this year by 2.6%. That’s another 10.6 ppm – THREE TIMES the average annual increase!

“The rise is due to the growing number of cars on the roads and a renaissance of coal use and means the world remains on the track to catastrophic global warming. However, the report’s authors said the emissions trend can still be turned around by 2020, if cuts are made in transport, industry and farming emissions” – Guardian.

What utter piffle! The trend cannot be “turned around” in a little over a year without somehow sucking billions of tonnes of carbon out of the air and sea at a rate greater than the amount being added. The gas remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years: another 2C is already built-in. Cuts are not going to be made, quite the opposite! an increasing number of governments have just decided, fuck it. The dead can’t vote.

The reporting betrays a complete inability to understand the mechanisms that are threatening abrupt climate change: a phrase that in itself conceals a greater truth which nobody seems to want to hear.

Mercifully, car sales in Britain are 7% down this year. Smoke, however, is up. (Evocative image: Michel Euler/AP)

Other reports at the UN conference in Katowice suggest that in the three years since the Paris agreement was signed, financial institutions have invested more than $478bn in the world’s top 120 coal plant developers. Emissions from China (4.7%), India (6.3%) and the US (2.5%) have led the increase. The Paris accords, according to a University of East Anglia paper, will not keep warming below 3C. A drop in particulate pollution due to cleaner industries may trigger a runaway warming effect as skies clear.

The BogPo remarks that a more immediate threat still may be species co-collapse. We have lost 60% of wild mammal populations and 78% of insect populations in forty years. The same causes are already affecting human populations, according to the WHO; and are only tangentially related to the threat of warming. If human extinction is the powder keg, the fuse is already alight.

 

A colony of 1mm-long nematode worms (Caenorhabditis elegans) has had to miss the trip of a lifetime, aboard the international space station. Owing to a day’s delay in launching the SpaceX rocket, caused by the discovery of some mouldy food, the worms are now “too old” to be of experimental value.

I know just how they feel!

 

We believe this job may be of interest to you:
Live-in/Live-Out Nanny in St John’s Wood, London
Location: UNITED KINGDOM, St John’s Wood
Salary: Not specified

Now, there is a reason, believe it or not, why this popped into my mailbox today, after months of inactivity on the labor front. And it’s not to do with the release of the Mary Poppins movie remake.

I was, for several years, in what you might call domestic service. In the latter part, when I anticipated redundancy on completion of a project to convert the haunted mansion I rattled around in into an upmarket hotel, I put my impressive CV and references about any number of specialised agencies employing dreadful, lazy Australian temps in snooty parts of London, looking for similar work.

The likelihood of finding a job in which the employer expected someone to do everything from gardening and maintenance to business planning, financial management, making beds, serving at table, clearing up sick after functions and cooking for guests seemed pretty slim. Indeed, I seldom bothered to apply, not being a “couple”, the arrangement the wealthy prefer.

So after eight years of fishing entirely unsuccessfully for what is nowadays quite well-remunerated work, often with free accommodation in agreeable surroundings and the chance to drive top-end expensive cars and shiny red lawn tractors, I gave up the unequal struggle and retired to my tiny cottage on a main arterial road in the thunderous outskirts of a busy seaside town, to await Death’s final knock.

As the years have sped by, just one organization has continued from time to time to send me little reminders of what I’ve been missing: the 168-hour weeks, the underlying suspicion that I’m embezzling the expenses; such as the note above, enquiring after my interest in situations they regularly advertise, and that is The Lady magazine.

And I have quite lost count of the times I have emailed back, pointedly asking them to desist.

You may imagine, I am not really interested in working as a nanny in St John’s Wood; even if the lady of the house could be persuaded to take on a 69-year-old single man with no relevant training or experience (beyond raising two kids of my own) and a large dog with strange amber eyes at heel; someone who, to judge by his current situation, grizzled beard, appetite for wine and state of dishevelment, is probably on an offender management program.

He isn’t, but you know what I mean. I several times encountered baffled hostility when applying for domestic “couple” jobs: no mere male could possibly cook, clean and wash-up, or cope with delicate fabrics – and at the same time be trusted to clean the gutters, maintain the boiler, unemotionally shag the mistress from time to time and drive a Bentley.

And, of course, yet again, I receive no reply or acknowledgment of my request. To them, I don’t exist. I am a ghost in the machine: a randomized pick for the occasional, totally inappropriate position.

There’s a peculiar form of reverse snobbery: as I am, I should possibly mention, quite posh myself, although from the “wrong side of the blanket”, determinedly Socialistic and latterly fallen on hard times – something they hate as it reminds them where they may end up themselves one day.

 

God’s thumbprint? Or an unusual energy ripple – such as have been reported recently emanating from Mayotte, an island off the northern tip of Madagascar, travelling at 900 mph all around the world at a depth of 6.2 miles?

GW: Ain’t nothin’ but a whole lot of somethin’ goin’ on

The final statistic from the two major California wildfires last month, the Camp and Woolsey fires, is 91 dead, with 25 still missing in the Paradise area; 18,800 homes destroyed, a total bill of around $18 billion. 15 of the 20 largest and most destructive fires on record in California have occurred since 2002. Wunderground estimates, this year’s fires in California have pumped an extra 15% more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the state usually emits in a year.

USA: And it’s back to Arctic conditions for the eastern seaboard and midwest through into next week. “In areas from the mountains of North Carolina to parts of Virginia, this will be a major storm with the potential for a foot or more of snow,” according to AccuWeather. Further south is expected to receive a coating of dangerous ice, bringing down power lines and disrupting schools and transport.

China: Accuweather reports, a corresponding “surge of arctic air will dive southward across eastern Asia in the coming days, bringing the coldest weather in nearly 10 months to parts of China and the Korean Peninsula. A mild autumn and start to December will come to a bone-chilling end on Thursday as bitterly cold air descends on Beijing and northeast China.” (Accuweather)

Australia: the brutal Queensland heatwave has been temporarily distracted by heavy downpours from ex-Tropical Cyclone Owen, threatening to drop between 2 and 8 inches of rain on coastal areas between Cairns and Mackay. “Strong winds, coastal flooding and rough surf will batter the Queensland coastline through this weekend, creating hazardous conditions.” (Accuweather)

India: Accuweather reports “Air pollution continues to be a major concern across New Delhi and other locations across northern India as little improvement is expected into next week. Despite efforts to limit pollution emissions such as heavy truck bans, reducing construction projects and shutting down power plants, pollution levels have continued to climb across the region and pose a serious risk to millions of people.”

Turkey: a slow-moving low is expected to dump up to 30cm (10-in) of rain, locally maybe more, over southern Turkey, Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean over the next three days, to Friday night. Extensive flooding is anticipated. A casual glance at the Google homepage for “Turkey rain” shows at least three extreme rainfall events with damaging floods already this year.

 

Old King Coal

Katowice: Bob Henson, of The Weather Underground, has a sobering essay on the contribution of coal to global warming in 2018, pointing out:

“The irony is running thick this week as coal—the most climate-unfriendly of fossil fuels, and an energy source in decline—finds itself in the spotlight. The 24th annual United Nations Conference of Parties (COP24) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is meeting this week and next in the city of Katowice in southern Poland, a region where coal remains a dominant force in the local economy.

“And on Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose loosening regulations for new coal plants, at a time when global demand for coal is sagging year after year. In his opening remarks, Polish president Andrzej Duda struggled to reconcile the fact that coal use is at loggerheads with a world moving toward carbon-free energy.”

http://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Coal-Fights-Life-UN-Holds-Climate-Meeting-Polands-Coal-Country?cm_ven=cat6-widget

“…the world has yet to fully grapple with the enormous pressure to use fossil fuel reserves that are already far more than enough to push the world well beyond 2°C of warming over preindustrial conditions, which would raise the odds of catastrophic climate-change impacts”, writes Henson, who goes on to point out that only two carbon capture and storage – “clean coal” – experimental sites are working anywhere in the world, but instead of storing the CO2 it’s being used to pressurize nearby oil wells!

And, of course, with a former coal company lobbyist in charge at the US Environmental Protection Agency, the cynical Trump administration is going all-out to maximise the role of coal in energy generation. As Henson says, “Just when leaders from around the globe are meeting in Poland to hash out a path for implementing the Paris Agreement, it’s hard to imagine a more perverse, or paradoxical, message for the U.S. to send to the world.”

Actually, I can think of a few more.

 

That sinking feeling…

Some parts of the city of Tehran, capital of Iran, are sinking into the ground at the alarming rate of 10 inches a year, according to scientists at Potsdam university. The problem appears to be overextraction, causing the roof of the water table to collapse.

Subsidence could become an increasing problem for large conurbations like Mexico City, your Gran supposes, as increasing drought in those latitudes dries out ground and agriculture requires more water for irrigation.