The Pumpkin – Issue 97: Dementia news… A Big Lie… Another Big Lie… Not on the fairway… GW: Blow the wind northerly.

Quote of, er, one or two days…

Americans Shocked by Spectacle of Legislators Taking Action

“Across the U.S., television viewers watched with mouths agape at startling images of elected officials seemingly intent on performing their constitutional duties.” – US humorist, Andy Borowitz on the Commons vote to debate the no No-Deal bill.

Boris Johnson greets the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, outside No 10

“Hang on tight, my friend, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Dementia news

(This item appeared previously in The Boglington Post, 31 Aug.)

“Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, told ABC’s This Week the president would lead ‘really a whole lot of government effort, and the president is going to make sure that we’re on the same page, that we’re tracking this, and that we’re going to be ready.’”

“Trump sowed confusion earlier when he said incorrectly that Alabama would be hit by the storm, forcing the National Weather Service to issue an update. He later repeated the mistake at a press conference. He also repeated his claim that he was not sure he had “ever even heard of a category 5” hurricane.

“The increasing strength of the storm makes this the fourth consecutive year that at least one Atlantic cyclone has reached category 5, according to the NHC.” And Trump’s leadership strategy?

“Americans should ‘pray for the people in the Bahamas’, Donald Trump announced from Washington” as south-eastern US states looked on nervously. That should help, although everyone is already busy praying for the victims of the latest mass-slaughter in Texas, over which the regime dares take no action whatever, with an election looming.

To be really ready for natural disasters, the Trump administration recently ordered another transfer of funds out of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) budget, an easy target, to pay for increased border security.

(Quotes pulled from a Guardian report, 02 Sept., as Dorian rips into the Bahamas at 200 mph.)

Postscriptum

Mad King Donald has appeared at a presser in the Oval Office, waving a thoroughly unconvincing map of the southeastern US, on which “someone” had used a black marker pen – known to Americans as a Sharpie – to add a big, wavery, extra bulge on the western side of the official National Hurricane Center’s forecast track of Dorian from last week, to include Alabama – where there was no prior indication the hurricane was headed.

This was in order to “prove” that he had been right all along when he twice said the storm was heading for Alabama, a claim that has been much derided in the media after the NHC said it was incorrect. Dorian would go nowhere near Alabama. The additional drawing altering the forecast – “fake news” that set off panic buying in the Sweet Home state – was in a different color.

Utterly unable to accept, ever, that he has made a simple mistake, the man is beyond mockery. He is completely insane and must be removed from office as a danger, both to himself and the country.

 

A Big Lie

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow draws our attention to another tweet frae the tiny thumbs of the liar-in-chief.

It seems that it has now sunk in that, instead of trashing Alabama, Hurricane Dorian has trundled northwards up the east coast and is spinning about 50 miles off North Carolina, picking up energy from the warm waters, dumping vast amounts of rain and looks likely to sit there as a devastating Cat 3, with 115 mph winds until the weekend.

It’s a bad situation. So N. Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper, has fulfilled his statutory duty and made a request for FEMA emergency aid as a million people are ordered to evacuate coastal areas. It’s the governor’s job to do that. People are puzzling, then, as to why Mr Trump has tweeted out that he is considering a request for FEMA aid put in by Senator Thom Tillis of N. Carolina. It’s not his job to do that.

Who? What?

Well, it seems Sen. Tillis is a Republican and up for re-election next year; while the pathetic and incompetent booby, Governor Cooper can’t be trusted to put in his own request for aid.

Because he’s a Democrat.

You see, it’s only a minor thing, but we have to understand that this shit-for-brains in the White House is prepared to make political capital out of anything, sink to any depths, tell any lie, trash any opposition to get himself re-elected, and that nothing he says, tweets or does from now on, if it ever was, can be trusted not to be “fake news”, in his own argot.

The alternative to re-election could be a very long spell in gaol.

 

Another Big Lie

Trump is not the only wannabe despot living in a complete fantasy world of his own making, where the economy is rip-roaring away, China is on its knees gagging to do a trade deal, non-existent hurricanes are trashing Alabama and thousands of illegal immigrants are roaming around Texas looking for women to rape and kids to sell marijuana to. Oh, and by the way, he’s The Chosen One.

Or, to put it another way, lying through his unreliable old teeth.

“Brussels has responded with bafflement to Boris Johnson’s claims that progress is being made in the Brexit talks, with EU officials saying discussions are going nowhere. The prime minister and his cabinet have insisted that the outlines of a deal are in the making and that attempts by MPs to rule out a no-deal departure will kill that momentum. However, EU officials said that nearly two weeks after Johnson met the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, no alternatives to the Northern Irish backstop had been tabled.” (Guardian, 3 Sept.)

Nor are EU apparatchiks entirely sure where these British negotiators have got to, that Johnson says are popping over to Brussels twice a week to hammer out a deal. They’ve seen few signs of them.

“’Where have these people been for the last two years?’ asked one EU official.”

Suspicion is growing in Brussels that the negotiations, such as there have been any, are a complete sham and that Johnson and his ERG cabinet have no intention of doing a deal; certainly as they have not put forward any constructive ideas, especially in relation to the Irish border “backstop” arrangement that would keep Northern Ireland in the Customs Union and Single Market for two more years, which Johnson has repudiated in favour of a vague customs arrangement, an “invisible border” based on some still non-existent “technology”.

Meanwhile the pound this morning hit $1.19, as low as it’s been since 24 June, 2016 – the day after the referendum. And a handwritten note from Johnson has been produced at a court hearing in Edinburgh, where MPs are bringing a case that his prorogation of Parliament is unlawful, showing that he had already taken the decision to shutdown Parliament without telling the public, two weeks before he sent sloucher Mogg to browbeat HM Queen into agreeing it. Something he has denied.

Wake up Britain! We’re being conned.

Postscriptum: Defeated in the Commons on a procedural motion to allow a further vote on a bill to make leaving the EU without a deal illegal – losing his first Commons vote as Prime Minister – Johnson lashed out at rebel members of the Conservative party, ordering that 21 of them should forfeit the party whip – among them, Winston Churchill’s grandson, a tearful Sir Nicholas Soames, who has been a Tory MP for 37 years.

The action has reduced Johnson’s Commons majority to minus 22 – not including the increasingly irrelevant 10 members of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.

Forcing so many men and women of principle out of your party just ahead of what may be a snap General Election next month and when you need to win several crucial votes in the meantime does not seem like the best idea, unless you want Nigel Farage’s Brexit party to win.

But that is the next parallel we find between Johnson and Trump: their tendency to overentitled, childish petulance and tantrums in the face of what they perceive to be personal disloyalty; “traitors” putting country first, ahead of their crazed ambition.

Post-postscriptum:

For the record, the very next day Johnson lost three more votes in the Commons, while in the face of ERG attempts to filibuster, the House of Lords voted to send the Benn bill making No-Deal illegal back for its second reading. Pro-Brexit propagandists have launched a series of vicious attacks in the rightwing media, accusing the 21 holdout Tory MPs and poor Mr Corbyn, who has declined to fall for Johnson’s call for an early election, of cowardice and treason.

History is being stood on its head, as Brexiters inflamed by the insane rightwing media blame “Remainers” in the Commons for undermining democracy and defying the referendum result, when it was Johnson, Sloucher Mogg, Duncan Cunt, Ugly Patel, Dominic the Serial Killer Raaaab and the other members of the rabidly Europhobic ERG who were the holdouts against a deal that would have seen us out of the EU by now, and who are trying to shutdown debate in Parliament.

Regardless of those abusive descriptors, or perhaps because of them, Boris’ more sensible younger MP brother Jo has resigned his ministerial post, citing “unresolvable tension” between “family loyalty and the national interest”. Brexit is creating toxic, internecine warfare across the country and must be abandoned now, for all our sakes.

Your Uncle B. has Commented: “The last time I felt like this was when watching the planes flying into the World Trade Center on TV, knowing that nothing would ever be the same again.”

The rate of suicides in Britain is now higher than it was 17 years ago, especially among middle-aged men.

Not on the fairway….

The House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee has been investigating for several months, internal messages that suggest regular US military flights between the USA and destinations in Europe and the Middle East have been ordered to stopover in Scotland, where crews have been forced to put up at Donald Trump’s loss-making Turnberry golf resort; thus diverting many hundreds of thousands of dollars of US taxpayers’ money – the sacred military budget – into Trump’s personal pocket. (Politico/MSNBC report)

Meanwhile…. the Washington Post is reporting that Trump is defunding anti-Russian influence programs in Europe to divert money to his ludicrous border wall; and witholding military aid to the Ukrainian government until they supply him with “dirt” undermining the candidacy of former Democratic Vice President, Joe Biden. I’d offer more on this, but I can’t afford the $90 to get over Mr Bezos’ paywall.

 

GW: Blow the wind northerly

Hurricane Dorian is slowly churning up the east coast of the USA towards the Carolinas, after battering the Bahamas with record winds and a massive 23-ft storm surge on 1 and 2 Sept. At least 20 people are now known to have died on the Abaco islands, which have seen “unprecedented devastation” according to the Bahamas Prime Minister. The reconstruction bill will mount into many $billions.

Update 5 Sept.: Hurricane Dorian continues tracking north/northeast and is approaching the coast of South Carolina this morning, Sept 5th. It has re-strengthened back to Category 3 and will be tracking just about 30 miles offshore the coast of the South Carolina and likely make landfall across the outer banks of eastern North Carolina. Central pressure is down to 957 mbar with sustained winds of 115 mph. (Severe-weather.eu)

Severe-weather.eu adds that Dorian seemed hell-bent on erasing Grand Bahama from the face of the earth: “Some areas of the island were exposed to maximum winds for over 12 hours, far longer than typical for hurricane landfalls. (In the event, the hurricane took 36 hours to traverse 5 miles of territory.) Additionally, major storm surge inundated large parts of the island. Reports (confirmed by aerial footage Wednesday) indicate total devastation, with buildings in some areas levelled to the ground” and boats tossed far inland.

SE Asia: “Disaster management agencies in Thailand and Vietnam report that 6 people have died as a result of wind damage and flooding from Tropical Cyclone ‘Podul’. Podul made landfall over Quang Bình Province in central Vietnam on 29 August, 2019, with maximum sustained winds of 55-65 km/h. The next day the centre of the storm had moved to Thailand, where the storm was forecast to weaken and eventually dissipate.”

Africa: At least 1 person died and almost 300 homes were severely damaged or destroyed as a result of flooding in the Central African Republic in late August. “Flooding affected areas in the north west of the country, close to the border with Chad, from 19 to 20 August. Water and sanitation infrastructures have also been destroyed.” 5 bridges connecting to flooded localities have been washed out, hindering rescue efforts (Floodlist). Parts of northern Nigeria are also continuing to experience widespread flooding after several weeks of rain.

North Africa: “More flooding has affected areas of Morocco. 2 people died after a storm, heavy rain and floods in the province of Khenifra, Béni Mellal-Khénifra region, on 2 Sept. Flooding was also reported elsewhere in the country. On 1 Sept. heavy rain in the Atlas Mountains caused a massive debris flow, resulting in widespread damage. Earlier this week at least 7 people died after flash floods swept through a small village in Taroudant province. 39 people have been rescued from flood waters in northern Algeria after torrential rain. In a 24 hour period, 127.3mm of rain fell in the city of Skikda, around 4 times the monthly average for September.” (from Floodlist)

Tunnel approaching….

Microplastics: A paper by researchers at the Scripps Institute published in Science Advances (I know, sounds a bit like Mars Attacks…) found that “since the 1940s the amount of microscopic plastics in the sediments has doubled about every 15 years. In 2010, the most recent year analysed, the pollution had reached almost 40 particles per 10cm by 10cm patch of ocean floor every year. … Humans are believed to consume at least 50,000 microplastic particles a year through food and water. The health impact is unknown.” (Guardian Green Light)

Assange: a conundrum emerges… Meanwhile in Moscow… In Sod we Trust… GW: And Bolsonaro to you too.

Quote of the Week:

“I blame the charlatans who peddled the falsehoods that [Brexit] would be easy. I wouldn’t trust them to run my bath, let alone the country.” – Former Commons speaker, Lady Boothroyd.

 

“Armed with a laptop, Assange represented a threat to Trump’s claim that Mueller exonerated him.”

Assange: a conundrum emerges

So, after seven years skulking in the basement of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange, the Great White Worm, has finally been dragged from his lair, looking – it must be said – more like a defrocked Santa Claus; the hospitality of his adopted country ultimately exhausted.

I have never liked anything I have ever seen or read about the man. Like “Tommy Robinson”, Assange, a self-promoting narcissist who was originally wanted in Sweden on suspicion of sexual assault, has made an art form out of turning the legitimate interest of the authorities into a political cause of whining self-martyrdom to please his elderly teenage fanbase.

No-one forced him to go into self-imposed exile, and he’d probably have got off the rape charge, which looked pretty flimsy from here as the woman had twice that night already given consent, or maybe served six months at most in an agreeable Swedish facility.

He has gained many followers who like to flirt with anarchy, but he is not a saint. He is not an avatar for our times, a beacon of free speech in a world dark with surveillance and repression. He is a simple fugitive from justice, who has collaborated with nasty people who wish to impose their own, probably worse forms of repression on us.

People are saying that from being bailed on a Swedish warrant under virtual house arrest with an ankle-tag, to the years of holding court to populist politicians while exiled in the embassy, charged with breaching his bail conditions, he has suffered enough. Suffered enough self-induced misery, which he alleviated by spying on his hosts, trysts with Pamela Anderson and plotting with a hostile state.

To pretend, as his witless American supporters do, that the British authorities were keeping him trapped there to ensure his silence is just absurd. His voluntary self-exile gave him as big a platform as he could have wanted; although, since the arrival of a new rightwing President in Ecuador, his internet access has been restricted.

While some of the things his group of hackers, WikiLeaks, has done have been valuable in exposing serious abuses of State surveillance and US military power, celebrating the exciting naughtiness of publishing highly classified files, it has been the whistleblowers who have suffered harsh reprisals, exile and imprisonment, not Robin Hood Assange and his Merry Men.

It’s not a game.

Let’s remind ourselves, in addition to the alleged offences, which he denies, he (allegedly) colluded with Russian military security in the hacking and release of tens of thousands of confidential files stolen from the Democratic National Committee, with the effect of helping Trump and the Republicans to game the 2016 election. Many Russians have been indicted in absentio for it.

Did he think he was buying a ticket to freedom by helping Trump? Well, that didn’t work out too well: the big fat liar, Trump, who is said to have mentioned WikiLeaks approvingly on more than 140 occasions during his election campaign, even declaring his “love” for them, is now denying he had ever heard of them, anyway not much.

And that leads us to the most intriguing aspect of the story. The timing.

It’s Trump’s personally appointed Attorney-General, Barr, the legal sock-puppet for hire,  doing his worst to stall and redact and cover-up the damning evidence that is almost certainly in the Mueller report of the GRU’s activities on behalf of Candidate Trump, who will preside over Assange’s extradition. The only point at issue has been, to what extent was Trump criminally aware of those activities?

And is he terrified that WikiLeaks could have gotten hold of a copy of Mueller, or might be able to obtain one, to add to the weight of evidence against Trump – evidence that is so far not quite conclusive enough to bring charges? With a bowdlerized version of the report due for release any minute, might that explain the timing of the arrest?

The US extradition request lists only a charge of conspiring to hack the US Army files leaked by Bradley, now Chelsea, Manning – who is back in gaol for refusing to testify against Assange to a Grand Jury, silly girl. You owe him nothing. Assange’s alleged criminality extended only to advising her on creating a password for caching the files – his role in publishing them is probably protected by the First Amendment.

And it’s her re-imprisonment last month that may have led to Assange’s arrest, via pressure applied on Ecuador by the State Department, and Britain’s role as desperate wannabe trading partner after Brexit..

Is that minor conspiracy to whistleblow in a public-interest matter really sufficient grounds to go to all these lengths to grab him? And why now, after all this time? Is it really just that the Ecuadorian embassy staff were fed up with his cat crapping everywhere?

Yet Trump is on public record – video – as boasting of how much he loves Wikileaks for exposing the Podesta/DNC emails that he says – the FBI disagrees – prove his opponent was a criminal security risk. Thus he sets up a potentially self-incriminating defense case that is at odds with the alleged breach of national security and the minor offence of aiding and abetting.

Armed with a laptop, Assange at large represents a threat to Trump’s claim that Mueller has exonerated him.

Assange could possibly turn evidence connecting to Trump against Roger Stone, George Papadopoulos and other members of the Trump election campaign team – Nigel Farage too – who are believed to have directly “colluded” with him in London, and thence with the GRU team in St Petersburg in their efforts to produce “dirt” on Clinton.

If Barr tries to suppress or redact passages of Mueller that directly refer to Stone’s meetings in London with Assange, Assange can stand up in open court and give that testimony himself, much to the embarrassment of the Trump camp.

There is no conflict of interest, however. Trump is perfectly capable of holding to whichever of two contrary positions will benefit him more. Right now, incarcerating Assange in a federal penitentiary for 5 years (assuming the Americans don’t cheat and file more charges once he is in custody) or even holding him incommunicado in a military facility is probably the better option to get himself re-elected. Evidence can be suppressed on security grounds, hearings held behind closed doors.

Assange has no guaranteed stay-out-of-gaol card.

Ironically, it was the Kremlin-sponsored RT TV – its Ruptly news subsidiary – that seems to have had several days’ advance warning of the raid on the embassy, and which was the only agency present on the doorstep to get the scoop when burly policemen dragged a curiously elderly looking and white-bearded Assange out, blinking and protesting loudly in the unaccustomed London sunlight.

Russians. You sometimes wonder how that happens.

 

Meanwhile in Moscow… Last month a flurry of speculation surrounded a Kremlin-imposed temporary switchoff in Russia of the entire internet, said to have been a trial run of technology introduced to ringfence the country’s vital communications in the event of a concerted cyber attack.

Just now, the Duma has voted by a Putin-sized majority to permanently introduce the “Chinese ringfence” as it’s been dubbed, from 1 November – entirely concidentally, the next date by which Theresa May or her successor has to have wrapped up Britain’s departure from the EU, or hopefully opted back in; not that we’ll ever recover face after this fiasco.

While the Kremlin is arguing that it’s a much needed defensive measure – clearly, they don’t like it up ’em, to quote Corporal Jones – opposition politicians and critics are pointing out that it’s potentially the ultimate form of censorship. Not just shutting down Facebook, but switching off the whole darn’ thing.

Now, wouldn’t that be blissykins?

 

In Sod we Trust

The sheer incompetence of this Tory maladministration is what ought to doom them to decades in the political wilderness.

If it doesn’t, then perhaps the inability of ministers to put any of their egregious clusterfucks right with a sincere apology and an appropriate action certainly has to.

Having ruined the lives of thousands of legal migrant workers from the Caribbean and their families, many of them here since the 1940s, by misunderstanding their immigration status and issuing deportation letters or worse, effectively cutting them off from vital services, interning people and even having to bring them back from wherever they’d wrongly been deported to, the not-fit-for-purpose Home Office has had to agree to pay a minimum £200 million in compensation.

As if that were not enough, in the process of organizing who gets what, the email addresses and details of 500 claimants have somehow accidentally been released into the public domain. The Guardian writes:

“In a written ministerial statement, (Immigration Minister Caroline) Nokes said: “Regrettably, in promoting the scheme via email to interested parties, an administrative error was made, which has meant data protection requirements have not been met, for which the Home Office apologises unreservedly.”

So on top of the £200 million compensation – it will probably be more than twice that as the scheme is being extended to long-settled migrants from other parts of the world, including the EU, whose lives have also been messed up over the same paperwork, or lack of it – more “administrative error” – the Home Office is going to have to stump up a large fine to the Data Protection Registrar.

Money, as Mrs May tartly observed, does not grow on trees.

No, it comes out of our pockets.

As did the £33 million the Department for Transport is having to fork out in compensation to P&O Ferries for omitting to tell them they were asking relevant companies to tender for an increased supply of ferry services to and from France in the event of a No-Deal Brexit.

And the £14 million they have had to pay to get out of their contract with the famous ferry company they hired, the one with no ferries.

And the rest of the £4 billion contingency planning funds needed because of the Exit Brexit department’s futile two-year-long foot-dragging exercise, that could have gone to the NHS, or to Social Services, or to the Police, or to Education, or to mitigating local authority cuts… and the £39 billion St. Theresa’s martyrdom “Deal” has left us exposed to, in outstanding debts to the EU – in addition to whatever it has cost us to stay in the EU all this time while our dearly bought power and influence in Europe have drained away…

And the additional £1.5 billion in the Northern Ireland funding budget, that went to buy the votes of just 10 boneheaded, bowler-hatted Ulster Unionist MPs to try to shore up the disaster of Mrs May’s and Lynton Crosby’s 2017 hung election. MPs – the DUP – who have since been consistently refusing to vote for the government on Mrs May’s Brexit deal.

All public money, wasted.

Another 200,000 children fell below the absolute poverty line last year. Twice that number are expected to join them this year. Homelessness is increasing. Schools are having to fund clothing and food banks for their pupils and beg parents for money to buy books, paper and pens – and even teachers.

The NHS is short 45 thousand GPs and the medical establishment has warned that the service can never catch up the numbers now, at the current rate of training and overseas recruitment – it’s too late. And thanks to the abolition of bursaries for undergraduate trainees, another “austerity” measure, over 100 thousand more nurses are needed, a figure the Health Secretary disputes.

And now, after spending £1.5 billion on panic No Deal measures, including the recruitment of thousands of additional, temporary contract Civil Servants to put the country on a war footing, the Government has backed off and fired them all again.

What the hell is going on?

This is the Tory party that, come election time, will be telling us again all about their invincible reputation for fiscal responsibility and how the Opposition Labour Party bankrupted the country.

Twelve years ago. (And they didn’t. Bankers bankrupted the country. Please remember that!) Through sheer ineptitude, care-lessness, as their support base dwindles the arrogant Tories have cost the country a fortune.

And we’ve had enough. We’re mad as hell. Polly Toynbee writes:

“Once, the pied pipers of Brexit played tunes of hope and optimism with fantasies of buccaneering freedom, but none of that is left; not in Westminster or anywhere else. The fairy dust blew away, and now all that’s left is the dark, backward-looking nativism that underpinned it.”

A nativism that is finding expression in Nigel Farage’s new “Brexit”, the party of All the Deplorables.

 

Factoid corner

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, is paid $1 a year.

 

GW: And Bolsonaro to you too

Brazil: “At least 10 people have been killed by flash floods and landslides in Rio de Janeiro after a storm brought strong winds and massive amounts of rain. The city declared a state of crisis late on Monday, 08 April. Flash flooding turned some streets into raging rivers, downed trees and swept away cars. Roadblocks remain in various parts of the city, due to flooding and falling trees. Traffic and public transport have been severely affected. Thousands were left without electricity after power lines were damaged.” (Floodlist) And at least 3 more people have drowned in floods that hit the northeast of the country.

Ghana: “Heavy rain over the last few days has caused flooding and destruction in parts of Ghana, including the capital Accra” – where 5 deaths were confirmed after flash flooding late on Sunday 07 April. Heavy pre-monsoonal rain also affected other areas of the country, floods displacing hundreds and destroying homes. (From Floodlist) This, while the UN is again warning of increasingly severe drought conditions affecting food supplies in the northeast and Horn of Africa regions.

USA: Look, something is definitely wrong. Yet another winter storm is dumping a foot of snow over the northern midwestern states. “Blizzard warnings have been issued for parts of six states as Winter Storm Wesley takes aim at those regions with heavy snow and high winds, contributing to dangerous travel conditions and shutting down highways. Wesley could flirt with all-time April low-pressure records in parts of the Plains”, according to The Weather Channel. Severe thunderstorms are also predicted ahead of the snowline. “Thundersnow was reported early Wednesday in parts of South Dakota.” How many is that this winter? It seems never-ending. Almost a new ice-age….

Iran: “The north-east province of Golestan received 70% of its average annual rainfall within one day, but the worst effects have since been felt in the south-west where further rain is due to arrive.” Tens of thousands of residents of the southwestern city of Ahvaz were ordered to evacuate as floodwater lapped the suburbs. “Dams are presently at 95% capacity, renewing fears of flooding. Snowmelt from the mountain regions has also contributed to rapidly rising water levels.” (Guardian World Weatherwatch/Middle East Eye).

India: Sweltering heat has gripped parts of India in the past week, with temperatures regularly exceeding 40C (104F) in the north-west and central states, though the heat has also shifted northward in recent days. High temperatures combined with moisture and instability owing to the nearby “western disturbance” also triggered thunderstorms and dust storms across Jammu and Kashmir (Guardian World Weatherwatch).

Meanwhile on the hurricanes/cyclones/typhoons front, nada. Niente. Nothing. It’s all gone deathly quiet out there. And a lovely sunny day here in Boglington, bit of a cool sea breeze but I’ve got 18.4C in the front garden.

Oh, and it’s been snowing in Spain.

Yellowstone: Quakes still swarming at the Lake, M5.0 Eq. recorded at Hebgen Lake on the edge of the park, biggest in years (USGS downgraded to M4.4). Quakes crossed the plate, showed up again on the East coast. Spectograms showing magma movement and gas release “not working” again. Steamboat geyser erupts for the 12th time this year (record 32 set in 2018). (Greeley/Ferruaio blogs.)

The Pumpkin – Issue 38: The disruptors have won. Mr Putin has won… Theft… Is Donald Trump an idiot? Don’t answer that!… GW: The war on cars.

“Okay boys, drinks are on the House!” Senator Hatch contemplates his bank balance as the Great Republican Tax Heist finally passes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Asked about the meetings, Kassam said: “Brexit and the election of President Trump were inextricably linked…” – Guardian, 02 Dec.

So it’s official. Russian and US interference – dark-money for Leave.EU, data-mining and manipulation, microtargeting of floating voters, whatever – helped to bring about the current political disaster unfolding in Downing Street as ruling Conservative politicians tear one another to pieces over the shape Britain’s rapidly approaching exit from the EU should take, and who should seize power when that happens.

The disruptors have won.

Mr Putin has won.

“Kassam” is Raheen Kassam, editor of the UK edition of the Breitbart News website. He was speaking after meetings he had set up in a London hotel between Victorian revivalist Tory pretender, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Stephen K Bannon, the partly-ousted senior policy advisor to President Trump and founding global editor of Breitbart, a far-right, Islamophobic media outlet and pressure group.

If some holy alliance has been mooted or agreed over tea and cakes, a “bone china” accord, it is a terrifying prospect for liberal democracy.

Both Mr Bannon and Mr Mogg, who bids for the leadership of the governing party in Britain, are staunch Roman Catholics, Opus Dei supporters who oppose the spread of Islam through mass migration; oppose women’s and minority rights; promote extreme free-market ideology, and have no apparent concern for those it leaves behind.

Mr Mogg, the Pumpkin believes, further advocates more economic austerity, immediate withdrawal from the EU without reaching any agreements on free movement of goods, imposition of customs barriers, removal of common product standards and residential rights for those EU citizens already in Britain and British citizens abroad, heedless of Irish pleas that there should be no hard border; while reneging on our longterm debt obligations.

Mr Bannon further states openly that his intention is to surgically excise whole tiers of government administration and oversight bodies, abolish all taxes and consumer and environmental protections, halt all migration, defeat Islam by military force, marginalize ethnic minorities and impose a benign form of rule by white Christian billionaires. Failing which, he welcomes Armaggeddon: the End Times.

Also present at the meetings was Nigel Farage, founder of the now shambolic and discredited UKIP “independence” party, which campaigned on the single issue of reducing immigration by virtue of withdrawal from accords requiring member states to allow free movement of all citizens to work and reside within EU borders, and the repatriation of settled EU migrants, regardless of the effect on our already stagnant and unproductive economy.

The irony being that the policy would largely affect Polish, Romanian and Hungarian migrant workers from EU member states closest to Russia, administrations that are openly and defiantly white nativist, anti-migrant and anti-Islam, fully in line with British Nationalist aspirations as exploited by Mr Farage and his ilk.

A go-between for the Trump campaign and Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, Mr Farage is another free-market ideologue, a member of the European Parliament who has successfully sponged for years off the fruits of the European Union while calling for its destruction. All three of these monstrous plotting men seeking to replace democracy by a corporate elite are millionaires. Only the ex-naval officer and producer of flaky propaganda films, Bannon has ever done a day’s work in his life, the others being privately educated stockjobbers, panel-show guests and money-manipulators with inherited wealth.

This smells very bad, for two reasons.

One, the anti-democratic corporate takeover of the United States is almost complete. Last night under pressure from heavy backers such as the multi-billionaire coalmining Koch brothers, Republican senators voted through Trump’s so-called tax “reform” bill, which will see average taxes on the lower-paid increase by up to ten percent while giving $1.4 trillion in tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest 0.1 per cent of individuals. It has been estimated that the Trump family alone will benefit by a billion dollars over ten years as the national debt increases.

Two, Trump revealed his true colors over last weekend with a series of unfortunate tweets in which he put the interests of promoting a tiny but virulently racist neo-Nazi group, Britain First, above maintaining good relations with a key American ally in the fight against extremism of all persuasions, retweeting three demonstrably fake videos purporting to show Muslims abusing or murdering white Christians to his millions of dumbfuck followers. As a result, Britain First and its poisonous leader, the distinctly foreign-sounding Jayda Fransen, have massively increased their global Twitter following.

When mildly rebuked by the British Prime Minister, demented Tweety-Pie snapped back that she should focus on combating Islamic terrorism. Mrs May, who spent six years at the Home Office as the minister in charge of anti-terrorist operations, where she imposed a surveillance state, border controls and immigration rules that make Trump’s look like a drive-through, is thus caught in yet another bind. Her visibly inept and clownish Brexit withdrawal team is desperate not to upset relations with the USA in the wholly misguided and naive belief that on leaving the EU we will negotiate a favorable trade deal with our “special relations” across the water.

(Their other misguided belief, obviously, is that Trump will still be in office by 2019.)

They should understand that US politics has moved way beyond that. Exsurgent corporate America will demand terms little short of economic slavery, leading to the almost certain privatizations, or US-ifications, of our cash-cows like the National Health Service, education, communications, bursting prisons and transport, with full tax-free repatriation of profits, reversion to minimal product safety standards and supremacy of the American courts.

But they won’t, until it is too late.

And now it probably is.

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Benito Mussolini’s definition of fascism was that it was the perfect alignment of State, church and corporate interests.

Theft

As The Pumpkin has argued, there is no rule of human existence that says a man cannot at one and the same time be an overgrown spoilt brat deprived of parental love, a feckless pussy-grabbing playboy, a bullying thug, a compulsive liar, a ruthlessly self-interested financial operator with connections to organized crime both in the USA and Russia, a compromised net debtor to many foreign banks, a delusionary narcissistic psychopath given to violent rages, petty personal vendettas, violent sexual and militaristic fantasies, AND be in the early stages of senile dementia.

All of those are possibly simultaneous characteristics of any US President elected on a minority vote, provided he is old, corrupt, stupid and mad enough.

It is not a criticism to say those things, but a humanitarian observation. It is not necessary to be a qualified doctor or psychiatrist to know empathically that here is a soul in torment. Pushing aside the layers of anger and loathing expressed against Trump by, now, quite a large majority of Americans, it is possible to pity the man and to see that he is mentally tortured, desperately in need of help, struggling to carry on – yet no-one is daring to offer help because his illness will not allow him to understand that he needs it; and he has absolute power over them.

Clearly, the pressures of an office he was disastrously unfitted to carry out in the first place, promoting himself through his overweening ego and manipulated effectively as a dimwitted sock-puppet by evil disruptors plotting the downfall of American democracy, combined with the remorseless grind of a legal mincing-machine known as Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigations into Trump’s financial dealings and probable collusion with Russia to manipulate the electoral process draw ever closer to the Oval Office, are tipping Mr Trump mentally into the abyss.

Aside from a tiny coterie of terrified loyalists on his staff, true believers in the “alternative truths” peddled by their increasingly delusionary and out-of-control Commander-in-Chief, those tarred with his sticky brush, there is now not one White House staffer close to the President, not one Republican congressman or woman on the Hill, who does not nervously joke with colleagues and even whisper to journalists that the President is mentally unstable and growing worse by the day.

He has greeted the passage of the tax bill – his first major piece of legislation passed in nearly a year – with a tweet crowing – in total contradiction to what many independent tax experts and oversight bodies are saying – that the cuts will benefit middle-class and poorer working Americans and drive the economy forward; while he himself will lose out, a blatant lie and one that contrasts oddly with his previous claim that paying no income tax for 18 years makes him “smart”….

The only problem being, the poorer you are, the less it will benefit you over time. A 15% cut in corporation tax (and no more double-tax on overseas profits) is meaningless as few corporations pay the full rate anyway; the average is just 5%, so that now means a zero rate. Many CEOs and CFOs have clearly stated that they do not intend to spend their windfall on employing more Americans. And a clause removing the obligation to buy heavily subsidized health insurance under Obamacare will mean much more expensive premiums for 13 million Americans, before the even more destructive “Trumpcare” bill has even returned to the House.

We are living in awfully dangerous times.

When will those moral imbeciles, those yellow-streaked, venal cowards in the Republican party get a grip on the situation? Only, perhaps, once they have guaranteed themselves and their wealthy corporate backers untold riches, by finally voting through a huge increase in the national debt to grant one another the tax breaks they have convinced themselves that they need and deserve.

There’s a word for that.

Theft.

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“It seems that as the news cycle has rolled around inexorably, Mr Trump is having difficulty remembering anything that happened a few months ago.”

Is Donald Trump an idiot? Don’t answer that!

Mr Trump is well known among the US progressive TV and/or libtard snowflake online commentariat for often saying or tweeting things that, while being defensive of his positions or blame-shifting and accusing others, tend only to incriminate himself.

It is as if, after years of getting away with borderline criminal behaviour and worse, he wants to be caught and punished. In his Macbeth-like madness, the mantle of guilt is weighing heavy on him. His mind is disintegrating.

There can surely be no finer example than his latest claim, that he knew perfectly well that Gen Michael Flynn had lied, not only to Vice-President Anusol, but also to the FBI, about his furtive Russian contacts at the time he fired him; and that Flynn had done nothing illegal. (Apart from negotiating foreign policy with an external power while not officially in office.)

Begging the question, if (in his untutored opinion) Flynn had done nothing illegal, then a) why would he have lied about his many meetings with Russians (including Putin) and the fees he earned from doing PR work for Kremlin interests, and b) why did Trump therefore have to fire him and then blame Comey? The conclusion surely has to be, does it not, that Flynn was protecting Mr Trump, until Trump panicked at ‘fake news’ reports in the failing New York Times and threw him under the bus.

It seems that as the news cycle has rolled around inexorably, Mr Trump is having difficulty remembering anything that happened a few months ago. As indeed is most of the media, US allies worldwide and the stunned public.

Let it not be forgotten that Flynn was allowed to continue attending meetings for which he required the highest security clearance for 18 days after Trump was informed for the third time that his National Security Adviser had lied about meetings with Russians, before he was fired. And that during that time, Flynn appears to have been in charge of a black-bag project to trace potentially damaging emails allegedly missing from Mrs Clinton’s files. Emails brought to Mr Trump’s son’s attention by the Kremlin lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at a meeting on 9 June whose purpose Trump lied about to protect Moron Jr.

Who ordered Flynn to do that?

Mr Trump has clearly not understood that a) he needs to leave it to his legal team to put out these sorts of communications, because Trump has essentially just implicated himself in Gen Flynn’s federal crime of lying to the FBI. He should just shut up about it, but it’s not in his nature to not eventually incriminate himself; and b) it is a federal crime to withold evidence of a crime from the FBI and so he should immediately on discovering it have told FBI Director Comey about Flynn having lied, instead of asking Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn and then firing both of them – opening himself to a charge of obstructing justice.

Mr Trump is now in deep trouble.

He has repeatedly tried to shift the blame for Flynn’s appointment onto President Obama, claiming that Flynn had gained his top security clearance while working under the Obama presidency and so he had no reason to suspect that when not only Obama himself, but the then-deputy Attorney-General Sally Yates, someone else he just had to fire, frequently tried to warn him not to take on Flynn, that they were being serious.

Mr Trump is forgetting, to put it charitably, that President Obama had himself fired Flynn on the advice of the intelligence services that Flynn presented a security risk; yet despite that, and the direct warnings he was given, he insisted on appointing him to the top security job. A Russian agent! Why? Was it better to have Flynn inside, pissing out? Or was there an element of obligation to a Moscow anxious for a deal to relieve sanctions?

So now it transpires that Flynn’s role may have been more commercial than just getting sanctions on Putin’s cronies lifted: even as Trump was delivering his apocalyptically insane “American carnage” inaugural address, Flynn was, it seems, texting a Russian contact over a joint deal to build nuclear power stations in the Middle East, from which, the texts suggest, “everyone” involved was going to make a shedload of money.

The FBI and the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller, have now got probably the most complete picture possible of what Mr Trump knew, and when he knew it. They have rewarded Gen. Flynn with a single charge, of lying to the FBI, to which he has already pleaded guilty and so cannot attract a presidential pardon.

And Mr Trump has walked straight into the trap with his silly bluster: “Of course I knew… what do you take me for, an idiot?”

Don’t answer that.

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Is the weather trying to tell us something?

GW: the war on cars

Your Granny Weatherwax has had her specs on, scouring YouTube in vain for any sign of #85, latest anticipated episode of the continuing series of wild weather reports from an invaluable website, Climate & Extreme Weather News, published by a group calling itself Understanding Climate Change.

It’s days overdue and we’re worried something might have happened to it.

GW freely and cheerfully admits to pillaging said site (fully credited, of course) among others, for interesting tidbits of news regarding the end of everything. While not fully verified, nevertheless the bulletins published about twice a week and running to about 50 minutes consist mainly of unedited citizen-journalist cameraphone footage and sometimes linguistically incomprehensible local TV news reports and press cuttings from flood-and-fire, tornado and hurricane-stricken zones around the world, minimally captioned and with no commentary.

It is, to be frank, deeply depressing – not to say highly alarming – viewing material. But someone has to do it, so you don’t have to.

Pulling up a YouTube page just now, filtering only CEWN content, GW was struck by something about the column of illustrative thumbnail photos when seen as a group.

For they mostly appear to show cars.

Cars battling through floodwaters; cars floating away, spinning balletically down roads turned to mighty rushing torrents; cars parked forlornly with water up to their rooftops, emergency lights flashing, alarms warbling like strange water creatures; cars crushed beneath fallen trees and pylons; cars buried in mud; cars stranded in heaps of mangled metal, perched surreally on top of buildings – lifted atop other cars, in a faintly obscene parody of a bestial mating ritual.

GW further notes that surprisingly many of the residents of even the poorest villages and shoddy, unkempt uptown suburbs of second-world cities getting pounded by huge hailstones, blitzed by lightning or half-buried in mudslides seem to own a relatively modern car nowadays: there are 1.2 billion private cars in the world, I’m told.

Pity the insurance industry! (not really. Ed.). It is as if the weather is waging war especially on cars, that in their multitudinous outpouring of carbon and other greenhouse gases (your car emits 4.5 tonnes of CO2 annually) have helped in no small measure to bring about the crisis of climate chaos we’re facing.

Just an observation.

Just sayin’.

Massive storms follow 3 weeks of spring heatwave in the Melbourne area.

Australia: Superstorm warning for SE Australia. After an unprecedented November heatwave, a huge blocking system stalled off the coast of SE Australia is producing a “major weather event” as violent thunderstorms dump torrential rain (up to 300 mm in 36 hours) and cause flooding in almost all of Victoria state. Forecaster Scott Williams, from the Bureau of Meteorology, said thunderstorms developing over western Victoria yesterday evening (30 Nov) would move to other parts overnight. “Those thunderstorms will gradually all weld into a massive, great rain band, (with large hailstones and ‘damaging’ winds) and that band will spread down across the state on Friday night and Saturday morning,” he said. “This is a vast, intense, high-impact event for this state. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a deep low form over Victoria whilst we’ve got this moisture around.”

Update, 02 Dec: “Several major events have been cancelled including Melbourne’s outdoor Christmas market.  Numerous flight delays and cancellations, with Melbourne Airport urging travellers to check for changes. So far there have been more than 800 calls for assistance amid rising floodwaters in several Melbourne suburbs. During the Friday evening rush hour train lines and roads were lashed while major stations were sandbagged to protect them from flooding.” Freeways and roads … are underwater as forecasters anticipate a “significant flooding event”. “A landslide has caused traffic congestion on the Great Ocean Road, about 6km south of Wye River…” (Edited from reports)

Indonesia: 19 dead as TS Sempaka brings floods and landslides to east Java. Houses destroyed in Pacitan. Extensive new flooding has left roads 1m deep underwater in Riau, Sumatra, cutting off 800 residents.

USA: Mount Vernon, Seattle, (24 Nov) the Skagit river bursts its banks after ‘worse than expected’ rainfall brought in by the Pacific ‘atmospheric river’ system.

Argentina: Rio Cuarto battered by sudden violent storm (24 Nov). Flash flooding, cyclonic wind, golfball-size hailstones. Watch CEWN #84 at 30′.50″ as an idiot tries to set off on his motorbike in 2ft-deep fast-flowing water, has to be rescued; more idiots swim for fun down street turned to rushing river. (Not yet seen anyone actually surfing a brown wave, only a matter of time…)

Peru: Cajamarca, torrential rain floods town, streets flowing with muddy ‘red tide’ washes cars away.

It’s not cricket! Sri Lankan players stop for a breather… (AP)

India:  “A Test match between India and Sri Lanka was repeatedly interrupted on 3 Dec with claims players were “continuously vomiting” due to hazardous pollution levels in the Indian capital. Commentators said it was the first recorded instance of an international match being halted due to the toxic smog that afflicts much of north India year-round but worsens to hazardous levels during winter months. Airborne pollution levels (were measured at) 15 times the World Health Organisation safe limit.”

Sri Lanka:At least 13 people have died, 1 missing and 61 injured in Sri Lanka since 29 November, 2017 after severe weather including strong winds and heavy rain brought by Cyclone Ockhi. According to the country’s Disaster Management Centre, as of 02 December more than 106,000 people in 16 districts across the country had been affected.”

 

General outlook: thanks to the broken Arctic jetstream and weak La Niña,  two polar vortices are sitting far down in the northern hemisphere, one over Europe and one over eastern parts of America, with temperatures well below normal and heavy snowfall. Elsewhere, at the same latitudes ‘heatwave’ conditions are persisting into December. The temperature north of the Arctic circle in Western Greenland is still 6.9 deg. C. above freezing, causing melt conditions.

The Denial Gene. On the Button: Myron Ebell and the BBC. Criminal Ecocide. Complaining is Not the British Way.

“Because of your culture of flaunting your ignorance, you can never admit you’re being played for fools…”

The denial gene

We used to keep chickens on our small farm.

A city-boy, I noticed after a while that when we tried to herd the flock into their house for the night, there was always one that would go in the opposite direction from all the others.

That can be a useful evolutionary tactic if you think the other 19 of your fellow hens are clearly going to their deaths, shut up in their house overnight, that they’re all making the wrong decision collectively and you’re going to be safer outside on your own.

We could hear the foxes licking their lips for miles around.

You humans, too clever by half!

I’ve concluded from Comments people post everywhere that there’s a rogue ‘denial’ gene affecting maybe 1 in 5 humans who simply refuse to study the world, to observe, to listen to others, to read and properly evaluate evidence and use the logic and reason God gave them; who actively despise people who do those things as ‘elitist’, imagining everyone will be better off like them: stupid.

Of course, you might not have television and medicine and nukes and a cellphone, but stupid is better, right?

Because of your culture of flaunting your ignorance, you can never admit you’re being played for fools by people who earn more money in an hour than you will in six months.

There’s a reason why Mr Rex Tillerson was paid £100 thousand dollars A DAY for running the huge oil company Exxon-Mobil. They have known for many decades that burning fossil fuels – coal, oil, gas – is a highly risky strategy; but have conspired to quash research into the alternatives because they like to make a lot of money, at which he was very good. Although millions of people in the non-developing world now lead more miserable and impoverished lives because of him and his shitty deals with corrupt states, at least we can keep on driving our SUVs to the supermarket.

Exxon is just one of many fossil-fuel companies that wards off demands for change by paying professional liars millions of dollars to make up stories undermining the overwhelming scientific consensus that the planet is heating to a dangerous degree; promoting the culture of ignorance among working folk, manipulating the media.

Blossom in DC, February

It’s only logical to assume that if we keep pumping billions of tonnes of warming gases every year into a finite atmosphere, it will warm the oceans and affect the weather; we have known it for over 100 years. All the science tells us is that what was predicted would happen is happening, only faster and harder. Data under constant revision are now showing the process of climate change – global warming – is going much faster than previously thought, and has not slowed down as the purveyors of highly selective interpretations have been telling us it has. There is no logical reason to think it might have, is there? Given that we are still polluting the atmosphere? Think!

How much of that money are they sharing with you, trolls? None, of course. You are as ass-poor as ever. Exploitation is, after all, their business and they are very good at it. They are playing you for fools, exploiting and encouraging the class of people who enjoy wallowing in ignorance, educational failures who imagine it’s cool to repeat simple stories that give them the comfort of feeling they’re superior to the many who can weigh-up the facts and come to rational conclusions we hope will save us from likely extinction within a generation.

Fine, if it’s only you pecking around in the dirt outside the hen house oblivious to your impending fate, feeling superior to the hens inside, too clever by half, safely shut up for the night.

I don’t personally give a shit what happens to you, the foxes can have you for all I care, you deserve it. I’m damned if you’re taking my children with you, you recrudescent Trumpish baboons, merely to celebrate your apathy, your ignorance and your fear of people who can actually think.

But, now your infantile trolling has official blessing, and we are losing hope.

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“In an interview on BBC Radio 4 in 2005, Ebell said that the UK’s Chief Scientist David King was “an alarmist with ridiculous views who knows nothing about climate change”. An early day motion deploring “in the strongest possible terms” Ebell’s “unfounded and insulting criticism” was raised in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, and was signed by 66 Members of Parliament.” – Wikipedia

On the button: Myron Ebell and the BBC

God knows, I have been rude enough about the BBC’s unquestioning and uncritical acceptance of Donald J Trump as some kind of normal president, and the excessively ‘diplomatic’ reporting of their chief diplomatic correspondent in Washington, John Supine.

Radio 4’s increasingly bland and poorly researched presenter-fest, the Today programme, this morning (7 June) gave extensive coverage to Mr Trump’s imminent meeting with Vladimir Putin ‘for the first time’ at the foul-smelling G20 summit in Hamburg, and attempted a feeble analysis of his speech in Poland yesterday somehow without once mentioning the phrase ‘white nationalism’, or wondering how he managed to appear so coherent.

(Shielded behind bullet-proof glass, with two autocue devices, a bussed-in ‘cheering crowd’ and a speech 98% cleverly written by Steve Bannon for the benefit of East European white nationalists keen to receive the coded neo-Crusader rhetoric, is how.)

Between eight o’clock and nine o’clock I heard North Korea mentioned only once. No guest referred to the worrying co-operation between Russia and China over this crucial issue; no guest referred to the increasing provocations by the US Navy in the South China Sea and around the coast of North Korea, or the installation of missiles in South Korea, pointing north.

One guest, we forget who, did mention sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine thing, stating that they were being ‘raised’. No guest however referred to the Russian ‘rest camps’ on Long Island and in Maryland, closed down as rats’ nests of spies by President Obama, which Mr Trump has proposed allowing to reopen.

Certainly, no-one queried what or whose strategy lies behind Mr Trump’s new anti-Russian rhetoric increasingly contrasted with his previous support for the Putin regime; or on the likely outcome of FBI and Congressional investigations into Trump’s business goings-on, from which he has not yet divested, as a conduit for Russian and Ukrainian ‘dark money’.

Finally raising the subject of Mr Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Paris Accord on climate change, citing damage to US business interests, at ten to nine the 73-year-old veteran presenter John Humphrys introduced as a spokesman on the environment for the President’s advisory team, one Myron Ebell: a ‘climate-change skeptic’.

Mr Ebell is rather more than that, to say the least, as to be a skeptic one needs to start with some knowledge of the subject. But he is no stranger to Radio 4:

Ebell has been given extensive media coverage, frequently cited or interviewed by journalists in a way that presents a false balance by giving Ebell’s lay views equal weight with those of expert climatologists, and thus misrepresents the consensus of scientific opinion on climate change. – Wikipedia

Mr Ebell is not a climate scientist, nor indeed any other kind of scientist. He is a PR bunco artist from the deepest layers of the Washington ‘swamp’ of lobbyists, who has made a very nice living from lying publicly about the effects of continuing to burn coal, oil and gas. Corporations who have paid Mr Ebell very large fees to spread false stories about global warming ‘slowing down’, a ‘little ice age’, etc., and to do whatever he could to undermine public trust in science and promote the relentless poisoning for vast financial gain of land, sea and oceans include Exxon-Mobil, Dow Chemical and Murray Energy.

Mr Ebell has been connected with, or responsible for setting up, numerous imposing-sounding lobby groups, false-front policy ‘institutes’ working, for instance, against protections for wildlife, opposing the work of the Environmental Protection Agency. Responsible for the insulting pro-carbon slogan ‘They call it pollution, we call it life’, he has also lobbied intensively on behalf of the tobacco companies to prove that smoking is a healthy pursuit.

Almost every one of the vile causes this greedy little shit has espoused on behalf of his paymasters has been fabulously successful, inasmuch as they have provided inspiration for the bulk of the Trump administration’s pro-business policies and have Ebell’s bloodstained fingerprints all over them. It is so easy to press the buttons of dumbfuck Republican supporters desperate to validate their counterfactual ignorance and suspicion of the ‘authorities’.

What this lying creep was doing on the Today programme this morning, I have no idea. I had to switch it off, having previously learned that mental health services in the NHS are overstretched already.

Clearly the editors hadn’t a clue either, as they must have been unaware of the 2005 appearance cited above, that caused such a furore in Parliament, and could not be arsed to spend two minutes doing a background check on this douchebag or to obtain a balancing viewpoint before inviting him to squirt his pus all over the British public – again.

Please write in and complain to the BBC Board, for the sake of the earth.

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“He believes it is perfectly possible to go on pumping billions and billions of tonnes of poisonous and heat-retaining, long-lasting gaseous by-products from combusting carbonaceous fossil fuels year-on-year for two hundred years into a delicately balanced, complex – and above all finite atmospheric system and there will be no consequences to follow.”

Criminal ecocide

As we know, Mr Trump’s strange gameplan for governance has followed a two-track strategy.

One, fill as few middle-to-high-ranking posts as he can, making the administration of government agencies very difficult if not impossible, while at the same time blocking the publication of inconvenient scientific research; and two, put in as heads of departments only people to whom he owes favours, or his own family, inexperienced administrators with no qualifications in the field: people who are fully committed to sabotaging the normal administrative functions of government.

Why, almost anyone would imagine he was deliberately trying to bring down the State.

Why has Mr Trump gone along with this idea that destroying the jobs of people who make the country function safely is an efficient solution to what was probably a genuine problem of bureaucratic inertia? He has no policy to replace the existing system: it is a Year Zero plan, a nihilistic political philosophy that plays to his dumbfuck supporters but risks pulling the country down into a very scary place.

“Thanks for the job Mister President, I won’t let Exxon down.”

Perhaps mindful of his own incompetence in the environmental field, but well-briefed by ‘experts’ working for his paymasters at Koch Industries, Hamm, Devon and Murray Energies, the heavily compensated apologist Mr Scott Pruitt, feral-clown head of the Environment ‘Protection’ Agency, for instance, has just announced a plan Mr Trump would like.

He proposes to spend public funds on finding enough dissenting ‘scientists’ to form a committee to formally challenge the 98.5% of real scientists around the world, experts in many fields whose funding or university tenure does not depend on energy company blackmail, to ‘prove’ that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas – denying a thoroughly researched principle that has been fully and widely known since 1889.

The Director has already declined to refill 57 of the 68 positions on the scientific advisory group that reviews genuine EPA research, and tried to lean on the chairwoman, Dr. Deborah Swackhamer when she was due to give evidence to a Congressional committee last month. to get her to say nothing about the probable effects of his destructive behavior.

Happily, an appellate court has struck down his plan to abandon controls due to come into force shortly on monitoring and reducing methane emissions from drilling and fracking operations, which are of an alarmingly high order; although it looks certain the ruling will be overturned by a Republican-packed Supreme Court, whose casting vote, so-called ‘Justice’ Gorsuch, has never once in his well-funded career on the bench ruled against a corporation.

Mr Pruitt is very probably mad, or has been driven mad by the weight of money shovelled down his fat gullet by vastly wealthy corporate interests. He is, to put it bluntly, a corrupted official, undeniably so according to the contents of many of the nine thousand of his work e-mails that finally surfaced owing to repeated Freedom of Information requests from environmental campaigners, just days after his appointment was hastily confirmed.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/22/scott-pruitt-emails-oklahoma-fossil-fuels-koch-brothers

There is already a cottage industry of climate-change denial, led by lunatics like ‘Lord’ Nigel Lawson, the tendentious 103-year-old former British chancellor from the bygone Thatcher era, a ghoul who won’t lie down, whose entire knowledge of atmospherics is confined to expensive cigar smoke-filled rooms. Showing great cunning (or profound stupidity) Mr Pruitt does not argue that the climate is not changing, in ways ‘we don’t yet fully understand’. He merely refuses with ever-increasing stubbornness to accept that there is an overlying problem with burning fossil fuels of the kind his paymasters are in a new frenzy of ruthlessly exploiting, greenlighted by that other Nobel chemistry laureate, Donald Trump.

Pruitt, as Attorney General of Arkansas an enthusiastic executioner of black people using whatever materials came to hand, believes it is perfectly possible to go on pumping billions upon billions of tonnes of poisonous and heat-retaining, long-lasting gaseous by-products from combusting carbonaceous fossil fuels year-on-year for two hundred years into a delicately balanced, complex – and above all finite atmospheric system, and there will be no consequences to follow.

Or maybe he just believes in getting rich, it’s hard to tell.

A difficult point to make.

It’s kind of a difficult point to make at a time when Arizona is on fire and New York State is underwater. And, yes, when people are dying in heatwaves, floods and landslides all around the world, right now. Vast areas of central and southern Europe, central America, Russia, India and China are all currently stricken with a deadly combination of record heatwaves and record pre-monsoon rainfall. Methane is erupting from a warming Siberian tundra where wildfires are raging, contributing further to the CO2 overload in the atmosphere.

Yes, other factors are involved. Extreme events have and do occur naturally, of course they do, that’s the law of averages; but not all at the same time in so many places, within the same bands of latitude and with the increasing frequency and intensity we are now experiencing. Natural carbon ‘sinks’ kept the climate in balance until we started burning coal, and then oil, overwhelming the ability of the regulator to maintain a breathable atmosphere within habitable temperature zones. The planet has been warming detectably for the past 100 years but is now at a tipping point – many tipping points – beyond which it is difficult to see a way back; and which, researchers warn, will produce more abrupt and economically challenging changes still.

The energy industry, we know, has been well aware of the risks for decades and was beginning to accept that it needed to be part of the solution, not the problem – until last year. Since when, the entire tenor of the gerrymandered and Russian-sponsored Trump administration has been to let rip and to hell with the consequences – just as long as ‘America’ (meaning Republican politicians and their funders) makes a huge amount of money out of us before we all die. How long the courts can defy them, we don’t know.

It is, of course, beyond insanity; beyond understanding, that supposed human beings can act like this.

It’s criminal ecocide; a game of ‘chicken’ with only one outcome.

 

Weather news

The northern jetstream has broken up into several pieces (Paul Beckwith – Ottawa U., 7 July).

Six dead, 20 missing is the toll so far in an unprecedented storm over the northern part of Japan’s southernmost island, Kyushu, 5 July centred on the city of Nagasaki. Dozens of properties have been washed away in floods and landslides. 500 mm – 2 feet – of rain fell in just 12 hours.

56 people are dead after extensive flooding hit Guangxi province in China causing rivers to rise to never previously recorded levels. Over a million people have been evacuated. In neighbouring Hunan province another 1.4 million have been evacuated. Thirty-five people are believed dead. In Assam, India, 20 dead in the past three days. Four million people have had to find higher ground.

California is braced for another weekend of record heat. The temperature hit 122 deg. F., 50 C. in Palm Springs yesterday. Parts of Ulyanovsk in Russia are under 2-3 feet of water.

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“Civilians escaping right now speak of horrific experiences. They have been caught between aerial bombardment, artillery, snipers and car bombs. They live in fear; they hide in their homes without food or water … In Raqqa, too, hundreds of thousands of people are caught in the crossfire, with casualty numbers rising as a result of airstrikes as well as sniper fire and brutal executions carried out by the jihadists to intimidate those still trapped in the city.” Washington Post, 05 July.

Complaining is not the British way

Comparisons, as I keep saying to little effect, are odious.

None of us would wish to have been caught up in the dreadful fire that engulfed and gutted the Grenfell tower-block in west London three weeks ago. The shocked and in many cases destitute residents who did manage to get out, some 158 individuals and families, have lost everything. Many will have been traumatised by the sights and sounds of those who perished on the upper floors signalling for help that never came.

No way out for thousands.

But they are here, and they are safe. While Britain has disgracefully pulled up the drawbridge against the people of Mosul and Raqqa and the rest of Syria and other war-ravaged countries in the region, from where there is no escape; for whose traumatized people there is no relief. None of us would wish to be caught up in that either.

There has rightly been criticism of the inadequacy of the immediate response by the local authority to the social problems created by the fire. Heads have already rolled, but it was not surprising: the numbers and quality of staffing in most local authorities have been in decline for years, although Kensington and Chelsea is said to have cash reserves approaching a billion pounds.

My mother lived in the Royal Borough – indeed, your Uncle Bogler too was born and lived there many years ago.

At the age of 92, after 52 years in the same flat, new landlords took over. Rosie found herself trapped by infirmity and lack of money unable to go anywhere else, a rent-protected tenant alone on the top floor of an otherwise empty building she could not have escaped from in an emergency. Flats in the next-door building were for sale at £12 million each.

We pleaded less than a year ago with the council to rehouse her in sheltered accommodation, only to be told there was nowhere and, anyway, until she was actually evicted and on the street they were not legally obliged to help. She died in December.

Confronted by the immediate chaos of several hundred men, women and children needing immediate rehousing and other support, some of whom spoke little English and were fearful of the immigration authorities, or who may well have lost their jobs by now and moved away, I don’t suppose the council much appreciated the rash promise made by the prime minister, Theresa May, who was herself being severely chastized for her impersonal response to the disaster, of a ‘permanent home nearby within three weeks’, with the government possibly, maybe, someday to pick up the bill.

I don’t suppose it has penetrated through her filter-bubble that there is a grave housing crisis in London, partly brought about by the city’s insatiable demand for cheap migrant labour; and partly by the foreign money-laundering transactions that have been grossly inflating property prices for years, that successive administrations have been happy to turn a blind eye to despite it leaving tens of thousands of private properties unoccupied.

Where were these people to go? Seems a pretty fair question. In fact, it’s a bit miraculous that 139 family units have already been offered housing they are too picky to take.

Yes, look.

I fear there’s going to be a backlash any minute now, and it won’t be pretty.

Because to date, only 14 out of 139 households who have already been offered alternative accommodation have accepted the arrangement. The  others are refusing to move out of their hotel rooms and community halls, complaining that the council has failed to consult them properly about their needs.

I have no doubt their reasons are convincing – to them. Too big, too small, too high up, only temporary, the wrong area… One family were offered a flat in a block in another borough that’s due to be demolished next year and turned it down because they wanted a permanent home, another is on the radio complaining about the forms, the flat he’s been offered is 15 minutes away, too far, he doesn’t like the area – and only two bedrooms (it’s just him and his daughter).

“I can hear … shock-hacks like Katie Hopkins and Richard Littlejohn sharpening their quills”

Meanwhile the rest of the country is struggling with a major housing shortage, ever-rising rents – and over 600 thousand families, many with children, can’t find permanent homes at all or are forced to live many miles away from their low-paid jobs. Gentrification in London continues to push the low-paid out to the margins, increasing their travel costs.

At the mercy of private landlords, most people have no choice where and in what conditions they live.

The list of complaints of the Grenfell refuseniks may be just, their plight genuine, but that is not how it will play to the majority of people throughout the country. I can hear already the scratchy little noise of shock-hack columnists like Katie Hopkins and Richard Littlejohn sharpening their quills and dipping them in strychnine.

It sounds too much like ingratitude, stemming from a sense of entitlement that has been growing among not only the Grenfell Tower survivors, but among the residents of buildings around, the adjacent low-rise Grenfell Walk for instance, that has had to be evacuated because the joint heating no longer works, egged-on by political protestors and the media.

Yes, people will say, you had a terrible experience and you needed help. You’re being offered help, people are doing their best to help you in trying circumstances, large sums of money have been raised, clothing supplied, but nothing we do seems good enough for you.

Your endless complaining is not the British way.

A media storm started, for instance, when one surviving resident found that rent had accidentally been debited from her account a week after the fire, when the authority was supposed to have suspended payment of all Grenfell rents.

Well, good Lord, annoying I know but worse happens to the rest of us every day, struggling with miscalculated utility bills and lousy transportation, waiting three weeks just to see our GP, and all you had to do was point out the obvious mistake for it to be immediately rectified with apologies. Why make so much fuss, so publicly?

The sense must by now be growing in the country that the survivors have grown an exaggerated sense of entitlement, encouraged by media and politicians’ handwringing over social divisions and inequality.

It’s not their fault they’ve been caught up in a national debate that was long overdue and have become pawns in other people’s games; or that they’ve been blinded by the glare of the media spotlight.

It just looks like some of them are taking advantage, possibly for the first time in their lives.

 

May wins: Election Special. Plus: Striking a blow for intelligent pensioners everywhere. And: The Guardian – Hell hath no fury like a 50-year-loyal reader scorned.

“I have accepted in the interests of national unionism that the earth is strong, stable – and completely flat.”

 

“…if they rumble me, already at 34 a lifelong Labour voter, I could end up as several trays full of bleeding, raw-meat canapés…”

Election Special

Three words I never imagined I would hear in my lifetime:

“Labour wins Kensington”.

This election has thrown up many wild surmises and strange portents, but the idea that one of the country’s wealthiest boroughs should in a thousand years by a majority of 20 votes have elected a Labour politician to represent it, the posh part of London where indeed your Uncle Bogler first drew breath and shortly afterwards inhaled his first Capstan Full Strength, is possibly the most unexpected.

I can only conclude that so much property has been flogged off at inflated prices to UHNW (Ultra-high net worth) foreigners laundering their ill-gotten gains, Qataris and so forth, that their much put-upon housekeepers, bored chauffeurs and window-box trimmers are the only ones actually living in Kensington during the week, who are eligible to vote.

I recall, indeed who could ever forget, being invited to an election-night party at the Knightsbridge cottage home of Lord St Aubyn, an old school chum of my stepfather’s.

It was 1984, and Mrs Thatcher was in the process of securing a resounding majority from a nation grateful for her torpedoing of the Argentinian capital ship, the General Belgrano, with the loss of hundreds of young lives, in a cowardly attack while it was steaming away from the Falkland Islands.

The tiny house – more of a pied à terre – was packed with identical-looking 30-something city boys wearing identical striped Jermyn Street shirts and red braces, their identically self-satisfied, blue-jowled faces flushed with champagne and the smell of power.

“They set up a terrible baying noise”

Each time the TV anchors announced another Conservative gain, they set up a terrifying animal baying noise and stamped their Gucci loafers like rutting stags. Rare news of Labour MPs clinging on to their traditional heartland seats produced a low, threatening rumble of hatred, boos and howls of derision – cries of ‘out with the smellysocks!’.

It was clear these Masters of the Universe were historically unaware of where their money had come from in the first place.

After about forty minutes of this I thought, God, if they rumble me, already at 34 a lifelong Labour voter, I could end up as several trays full of bleeding, raw-meat canapés, and fled into the chilly March night.

I don’t recall that Lord St Aubyn received a thank-you note from me, rude I know, but ever since that awful night when the scales finally fell from my eyes, I have hoped (in the Trumpian sense) to someday witness the beautiful sight of a Tory MP dangling from every lamp-post in Whitehall.

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“…I feel I have as much right to satirise the Golden Orb as anyone sipping cocktails in libtard snowflake Manhattan…”

 Too much of a coincidence

The election has been a satisfying victory for we conspiracy theorists.

Who would have dreamed last Thursday that Her Majesty’s Government would end up as the hostage of a tiny bunch of incomprehensible flat-earthers from Belfast?

Clearly, some hidden hand is engineering all these close-run things producing political turmoil around the world?

It is surely not a coincidence that the US Congress has found itself since last November in a similar situation, a minority government dominated by wealthy loonies who believe the world was created in six days and global warming will be fixed by God.

If you haven’t been keeping as close an eye as I have on the incredible events in America – perhaps you’ve not yet retired, I can recommend it – you will not for instance have heard Senator Mark Green of Tennessee defending the disastrous Trumpcare health bill, that on independent analysis threatens to deprive 23 million of the poorer sort of person of their affordable medical insurance while putting $ billions more in the pockets of the wealthiest, whitest 1 per cent.

Sen. Green’s thesis is that the poor don’t need health insurance because Jesus will take care of them. If they have insurance, he argues, they will be less inclined to go to church and pray for salvation; consequently if they get sick it’s their fault.

I assure you he is not the only Republican to express similar sentiments.

Indeed, we find Republican administrations all over the country emboldened by the election of President Trump to pass barbarically regressive legislation, for instance criminalizing the popular protest that is protected by the First Amendment.

Lawmakers in Elk Bend, Minnesota were forced to flee the building after passing a law enabling the county to arrest and charge protestors for the costs of policing demonstrations against themselves; such that had forced them to flee the building. In Washington, a GOP lawmaker recently introduced a bill that would consider protesters to be domestic terrorists (salon.com). North Carolina is hoping to make any kind of public protest illegal, Tennessee having already tried to pass a law protecting car drivers from prosecution if they accidentally run over and kill a protestor blocking the street.

Now, we all know that 97 per cent of the population of Tennessee wake up every morning in their coonskin caps to find themselves still living in the seventeenth century. They can count their lucky stars and stripes on the seven fingers of each hand for Jesus’ love and mercy every day of their blessed lives, and look forward to another sunny afternoon burning witches, scalping injuns, defending the Alamo and marrying their first cousins.

Draining the Swamp: Mr Trump goes to Wall Street.

But this is now the tradition proclaiming Trump as the Great Reformer, returning the US and indeed the world to the era of commonsense, no-nonsense, working-class, outdoorsy American exceptionalism; a viewpoint that is one thousand percent flat-out contradicted by everything the man has said and done since he bullshitted his way into office on a minority vote, appointed five Goldman Sachs executives to his otherwise oil-soaked cabinet and set about lighting a bonfire under every piece of socially progressive legislation that has ever helped the ‘common man’ survive the heartless brutalities of the ruling elite; while drilling the hell out of their cherished monument lands.

(There are currently moves to permit uranium mining in the Grand Canyon and fracking under formerly protected national parks. EcoWatch reports that the federal government is privately subsidizing with taxpayers’ money the already vastly wealthy fossil-fuel bidness to the tune of $700 billion a year.)

America: land of living history

Living in so many time-zones, America must indeed be a strange place. I’ve never been there, never had a desire to go there, but unlike President Trump I am in a very small sense a US taxpayer. I have an IRS number, thanks to a residual trust fund set up by the great-grandfather I never met, whose Irish daughter from Delaware married my gold-digging English paternal grandfather.

Consequently though with every word I write I drift further away from ever being allowed entry via General Kelly’s closing homeland security gates, I feel I have as much right to satirise the Golden Orb as anyone sipping cocktails in libtard snowflake Manhattan or snarfing at their own jokes and cynically milking the witless audience whooping it up on one of those terrible late-night ‘comedy’ shows.

While from the safety of distance I have observed pithily on the subject of time-zones that America has 21st-century technology, mid-20th-century infrastructure, a 19th-century political system, 18th-century justice and 17th-century religious beliefs, based on a 16th-century sense of entitlement to steal anybody else’s land in the name of God and the Crown.

Living history, indeed.

It seems too much of a coincidence, as I say, given events in the USA, that Theresa May has delivered her political agenda into the clutches of a tiny handful of politicians belonging to a minority party founded by that monstrous, bellowing bigot, the Revd Ian Paisley*.

As does the Republican-controlled Congress, so do DUP members of Parliament include proclaimed anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriage, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Catholic, climate-change denying, alt-right fundamentalist Christian Bible truthers and six-day creationists (to be taught in schools, etc….).

Most importantly, they demand the return of loyalists’ right to have a British Union flag flying provocatively over Belfast City Hall – one of the most contentious issues of recent times. A campaign strangely reflected in the recent controversy over flying the Confederate flag and displaying the statues of heroic slave-owning Civil War generals in darkest Alabama.

You see where this has to go?

But at least the minority of DUP followers voted to Leave the EU, unlike the rest of the population of Northern Ireland, so that’s alright.

Strong and stable, then. Not a coalition of chaos.

*We do not forget, however, ‘Dr’ Paisley’s remarkable late-life conversion and friendship with the late Martin McGuinness, former commander of the Provisional IRA.

The flat-earth society awaits the arrival of the mothership.

A time of contradictions

Someone who will no doubt be delighted by this happy turn of events is Mr Jim Dowson.

The Pumpkin has previously commented at length, based on various press and webnews reports, on the activities of this Belfast-born, DUP-supporting, refugee-hunting, alt-right Christian ‘millionaire’ disruptor, who applied his US Patriot News website last year to helping secure both victory for Donald Trump and the Brexit vote – as he believes.

‘Now where did I put my pen?’ Mr Biros Johnson, author of ‘The Idiot’s Guide to Managing Stationery’.

Although Mr Dowson will be disappointed that thanks to significant Tory gains over the Scottish National Party he has been unable to secure a second independence referendum for Scotland, another of his disruptive ambitions, nevertheless Mrs May seems fixed on course for the ‘hard Brexit’ he has campaigned for (ie total economic separation from Europe and an end to EU immigration).

Assuming, that is, she survives the attempts by Boris Johnson, Michael Fallon, Amber Rudd and others to replace her as leader, there being no creature as feral as a Tory scenting blood-loss.

It is of course a time of contradictions, where the old left-right political certainties no longer hold. There is a problem with hard Brexit, specifically in Ireland, where the DUP is in fact supporting the idea of a ‘soft border’; a ‘harder border’ with the Republic would undoubtedly lead to a return to smuggling, gang warfare, IRA violence, Loyalist violence and the complete breakdown of the already fragile Good Friday agreement.

Mr Dowson might not mind that. As described on Wikipedia, in 2012 he co-founded the Protestant Coalition, described as an ‘anti-politics party’, in the wake of which there were violent demonstrations over the vote in Stormont to ban any flags from being flown over City Hall:

“Dowson, a Christian fundamentalist, also led an anti-abortion campaign, the UK Life League. In May 2011 he and (Paul) Golding had launched a new far-right, nationalist movement in Britain, Britain First, to protect “British and Christian morality” and campaign against Islam, immigration and abortion.

Dowson left Britain First, apparently feeling that burning mosques was ‘un-Christian’. At the same time there was some interest in his fundraising activities.

Nevertheless he has been videoed supposedly supplying equipment by night to a party of Bulgarian neo-Nazis hunting down Syrian refugees along the border. His Budapest office is home to his self-styled ‘Knights of Malta’ group, as well as to former BNP leader, Nick Griffin; the Knights’ funding, it’s reported, comes in part from Konstantin Malofeyev, a deeply conservative nationalist oligarch who is a patron of the Russian Orthodox church and yet another ‘spiritual advisor’ to President Putin.

So there’s plenty to feed your conspiracy theories there, guys.

Get to it!

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Who guards the Guardian?

There are two kinds of people, aren’t there. People who read a newspaper because it reinforces their deepest prejudices, and people who read one because they love a bloody good argument before breakfast.

Were I entirely in the latter category, I should purchase a paper copy of the Daily Mail every day, however I don’t. I have an aversion to people who use words like ‘purchase’. The Daily Mail reinforces my deepest prejudice against the middle class, and against the half-human child-eating succubus who edits the paper on a salary of nearly £2 million a year.

Instead, I’ve been a Guardian reader for almost 50 years.

Much of the time I do it because of the pain it causes me. Guardian writers are so fucking smug. Yet their suburban university-educated liberal opinions broadly sit alongside and seldom disturb my own rather more furious vision of the world. I find them trustworthy on facts, anyway, whatever the angle.

Of course, I stopped buying the printed paper version several years ago, while trying simultaneously to give up drinking a bottle of wine every night. I came back to the online version, which is for now at least paywall-free (why call it a ‘paywall’, like something Donald Trump would insanely demand Mexico should pay for? Of course no-one is going to pay for something that prevents them from enjoying it. Call it a ‘special offer’ or something.)

However, I am getting sick and tired of The Guardian‘s prejudice against me.

Here, for instance, is Zoe Williams pontificating sonorously on the election outcome, having invented a new word, ‘subliminating’:

“It is entirely right that, one day, someone would have the genius idea of putting something in a manifesto that actually offered something to the under-60s. We have had decades of decisions made in the interests of the older voter, which have locked the young out of everything, from housing in their own country to the freedom to move to a better one.”

You see? I’m the one who’s been prevented by ignorant and deluded middle-class Daily Mail readers from moving to a better country by their grossly irresponsible, shortsighted and selfish action in voting to drag Britain out of the EU, preferring to transfer our precious ‘sovereignty’ to Boris fucking Kerfuffle Johnson.

Yet for the past year The Guardian has been moaning lazily in cliche-ridden article after cliche-ridden article that, because I’m in my late 60s, while squatting in toadlike isolation in my £1 million, five-bedroomed house and forcing my children to flip burgers to pay exorbitant rent for living in my wine cellar, I must have voted Leave and screwed it up for everyone younger.

Of course I bloody didn’t, and I don’t know anyone here of my own generation who did. What do you think, we’re stupid or something?

Fuck you.

I’m the one who can’t now risk selling up and retiring abroad as I’d been planning, to teach, paint, make music and live on flavourful ripe tomatoes, bread and artisanal cheese and rough red wine, in case I get chucked back out again.

Not only that, but here on the BogPo I was warning as long ago as 2013 that we were heading for the brink of the White fucking Cliffs of Dover. Did you take any notice, bloody Guardian? No, you just sailed on smugly imagining no self-respecting Islingtonians could possibly take issue with your remote-viewing psychic analysis of the state of the nation.

Then for a year after the disaster of the referendum your failed sociologists and Sir Simon Jenkins have wasted thousands of column-inches wringing your liberal hands over the poor misunderstood middle-class and desperately trying to work out what’s gone wrong with the nation when the fish-porters of Sunderland are able to pervert the course of the future?

Wankers.

Yet day after day The Guardian‘s well-paid columnistas continue to drip this ageist poison into the ears of the millennial libtard readership (that’s the second millennium, not the first, which I remember so fondly) whom they are hoping to cultivate beyond the inevitable paywall, insinuating – nay, declaiming that it’s the elderly who are responsible for their economic misery.

Bollocks to that, frankly.

On the one hand you have the Mail, edited by the bullying chauvinist son of a military service-shirker who, unlike Ralph Miliband, sat out the war in New York quaffing champagne with movie stars, blaming it all on the immigrants.

On the other, is The Guardian persuading my 20-something children by my second marriage that euthanasing the old man with the tiny house in the thundering outskirts of a busy seaside town and paying off his retirement mortgage is the only solution to their economic woes.

Well.

Guardian readers who are increasingly confronted with heartbreaking messages about supporting free journalism with voluntary (for now) subscriptions and cash donations, and who may have read with alarm that the title lost £69 million last year and is treating its journalists as if they worked for Sports Direct, need to know about an item that appeared in Private Eye a couple of months ago.

According to the Eye, the Scott Trust, that owns The Guardian and guarantees its independence, is sitting on a cashpile of £700 million.

The Boglington Post. Striking a blow for intelligent pensioners everywhere.

 

Postscriptum

“Hell hath no fury like a 50-year-loyal reader scorned.”

OMG. Only a day after I wrote this piece, the Guardian editor, Katherine Viner, has announced that as part of her extreme austerity agenda, it and its Sunday sister paper The Observer are to go … tabloid.

Her weaselly excuse being that it is somehow an inevitable development of print technology in the 21st century.

That is the fucking end of civilization as we used to know it. The Berliner format was a thing of rare beauty, that gave the paper its distinctive market appeal, branding its readers as a cut above.

If this was Ms Viner’s idea, she should be boiled in oil, doused in animal slurry and handed over to the Taliban for re-education.

Oh, sorry, she is the Taliban.

The paper was getting dire enough as it is, months of snide articles briefing against Jeremy Corbyn being followed in the wake of the election with a wave of sycophantic, hypocritical drool hailing him as the New Messiah; in most cases by the same writers, clearly under marching orders from the appalling Viner woman.

I vow here and now that I will never touch this scabby little organ with a bargepole, ever again. You have now totally fucked it with me and I am converting my laptop thing to the New York Times forthwith.

Hell hath no fury like a 50-year-loyal reader scorned.

x

A ruddy good show

A propos well-paid Guardian columnists, Matthew D’Ancona today contributes a bizarre piece confessing that he ‘radically’ failed to notice that there was a groundswell of support building for Jeremy Corbyn, ‘like many other Commentators’.

Yes, Britain is a long way from North London, isn’t it.

Having confessed that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he then goes on to anticipate – indeed, to request – in arrogant Guardianista fashion, publication of a timetable for Theresa May’s resignation.

Finally, on the topic of the inevitable Tory leadership backstabbing bloodfest, that has already begun, he writes thus:

“…do not discount Amber Rudd. In fact, give the home secretary the serious consideration she deserves. In the seven-way shouting match of the BBC leaders’ debate on 31 May, she stood in for the prime minister, though her elderly father had died only days before, and did so with poise, dignity and emotional intelligence as six other politicians berated her. She looked like a leader in waiting.”

Of course, he doesn’t fancy her. As leader of the charge to rehabilitate the saintly Ms Rudd, and sounding like a thoroughly polished and professional PR practitioner looking for a special advisor role in Downing Street, Mr D’Ancona has obviously failed to read the newspaper that has employed him for many years; he may be losing his memory, or he has a ‘radically’ different take on reality from most of us.

On 21 September, 2016, for instance, David Pegg and Holly Watt reported:

“Amber Rudd’s business career has come under scrutiny following a Guardian investigation that reveals her involvement with two companies in an offshore tax haven, and another where her co-director was jailed for fraud.

“The Guardian has also discovered new details about her previous career in venture capital during the boom and bust 1990s. One enterprise led her to become a co-director of Monticello, a company that was at the centre of a share ramping investigation.

“She was also involved in a company prospecting for diamonds in Siberia that was traded on a notoriously unregulated stock exchange.”

This was shortly after her white-haired old ‘venture capitalist’ father Tony had been investigated for the umpteenth time by the financial regulator and declared to be totally unfit to be trusted with other people’s money.

The authors of The Guardian report concluded:

“Though there is no suggestion she was involved in any wrongdoing, the disclosures may cause her some embarrassment…”

Well, if I were Michael Gove or Boris Johnson, Michael Fallon, Nicky Morgan – any Tory politician indeed circling just offshore scenting blood in the water, I’d say they just may.

x

And what’s the naughtiest thing Amber Rudd ever did?

No, not running through wheat. According to an old school chum, on their last day at Cheltenham Ladies’ College she tied the legs of the chairs together in the dining-hall!

And then became a merchant banker.

Lock her up!

The Pumpkin – Issue 20: The IQ Test; You sick sack of shit; How Trump is drawing us into war.

“Boris Johnson has said he sees no reason to rescind the invitation to Donald Trump for a state visit, despite the US president’s attacks on the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, after Saturday’s terror attack.” – The Guardian, 6 June.

“I see no shits?”

‘IQ’ test?

‘I Quit’ is what we would all prefer to hear from this odious character.

As the Comments expressing horror and shame at what America has done to itself mount up on the web, many commentators are calling for White House staff to simply take away President Trump’s cellphone.

He previously had a Samsung, but has now apparently acquired a more American-sounding iPhone, manufactured – like his daughter’s fashionable shoe range – by slave workers in China. Separating him from his Twitter feed may be difficult. He seems to have an unlimited budget for replacement cellphones.

For, like your Uncle Bogler, he is at heart an overgrown teenage baboon in the first stages of dementia, who compulsively evacuates in 140 characters or less, a medium that might have been invented for an untreated ADHD individual with a 15 seconds’ attention-span, the thoughts produced by his diseased brain and spews them out into the world through the little magic window; a digital megaphone.

He’d sleep better without it, that’s for sure. But is anyone really receiving his thoughts?

It appears that, of the 30 million or so Followers of @realdonaldtrump Twitter feeds, almost half – over 14 million – are fake accounts.

You can go online and buy Followers? Yes, apparently, for a few hundred bucks you can pick up a million or so non-existent names, according to online newsmouth, David Pakman. And, mirabile dictu, there are other websites you can lookup, that tell you whether someone’s Twitter account is genuine or fake; and how many fake accounts they have, and 14 million is the figure they give @real.

Isn’t technology amazing.

And it doth indeed appear that Mr Trump, or someone ‘close to him in the White House’, the pizza chef, maybe, the butler who brings him his constant supply of fizzy drinks, Jared Kushner perhaps, has been buying up fake Twitter accounts to make the chemically poisoned Prez look better.

Whether the activity is designed to impress the public with his popularity which is about at rock-bottom; or just privately to bolster the confidence of the most insecure and thin-skinned leader since Caligula, or to boost revenue from his click-throughs or whatever (The Pumpkin does not entertain knowledge of the workings of social media accounts) is anyone’s guess.

But how bizarre is it, that he should be so obsessed with his personal popularity ratings, that he is prepared to lie even to himself about the number of people hanging on his tweets, that are mostly just incoherent late-night tirades of abuse directed at Meryl Streep, or Mayor Khan, or the ‘failing New York Times‘, or anyone else he’s seen on Fox News who arouses his foul-natured spleen?

Possibly not as bizarre as the deep denial of the majority Republican party that an elderly man with arrested development who sits up all night tweeting pathetically that everyone is out to get him, can possibly be considered unfit to hold the office of President of the United States a moment longer?

Ghastly and devious though the fundamentalist Vice-President, Mike Pence, may be, the ‘snow-capped walking advert for Anusol’ nailed to a cross, he at least isn’t a mad, childish buffoon given to sudden intemperate reverses of 70 years of US policy, directing a stream of complaints and abuse towards its allies, a diseased Emperor indulging in paranoid nepotism, blatant corruption, blabbermouth security breaches, vain and unwarranted boasting, launching hysterical attacks on his opponents, deliberately impoverishing his subjects’ life chances, compulsively lying, throwing screaming fits at his staff as though they were his own employees and not the Government’s – costing the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars in gratuitous holiday expenses* and keeping his wife a prisoner in a New York tower-block.

Nor is Pence entirely prey to the devious blandishments of the Iago of the Oval Office, Steve Bannon, and the Breitbart conspiracy.

The Vice-President does have the power through the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove the President, at pistol-point if need be, if he shows he is so unstable that he cannot be thought of as fit to continue as Commander-in-Chief.

Which he obviously cannot.

That would be quite in line with the First Amendment right of the People to protest and remove if necessary, an oppressive autocrat.

Trump’s revolting campaign of tirades against the mayor of London, Mr Sadiq Khan, are nasty and racist and personally motivated by hatred of a man who came out months ago with a comment opposing his eagerly anticipated State visit later this year.

It would be wholly inappropriate in the view of The Pumpkin for Trump to be entertained by the frail and ageing Queen, 92, as if he were somehow worthy of the honour of a State visit. He’s done nothing to deserve it. We feel sure she is dreading the occasion, being forced to eat steak with ketchup on, tune all the palace TVs to Hannity Guy and have the Buckingham Palace lawn turned into a putting green.

The Prime Minister puts out that Trump was ‘invited’ by the Queen, but the Queen does not issue those invitations, some aristocratic flunkey in Whitehall does that at the request of Downing Street. We imagine she would rather entertain a ruthless dictator like Robert Mugabe, a British-educated and punctilious man of her own age, than have the vulgar Trumps to dinner and sit through their unspooling marital disaster while waiting for the President to make some abusive attack on Prince Charles, a dedicated tree-hugger; or thrust the poor Duke aside to get to the front of a photo-op, wearing his fake ‘Presidential’ face like the late comedian Frankie Howerd being sodomised by a camel.

Nor do the British people wish to be obliged to watch the spectacle of this ludicrous, vain impostor swishing down the Mall in his hundred-ton motorcade, the all-conquering hero. Fuck that. (Worse still, he’s said to have requested a gilded coach… ’nuff said?) The best thing we can do to protest is just to not turn up at his parade, then he can spend the next six months mumbling and crying like a lovelorn snowflake over the non-existent numbers.

The President who rails against the ‘Fake News’ media is not above descending into the swamp of Fake News himself, fabricating (as he did when he called-out Obama for ‘wiretapping’ the Trump Tower) a libellous and paranoid case that mayor Khan is somehow responsible for encouraging terror attacks in London, fatuously challenging him to an ‘IQ test’.

‘IQ’? ‘I Quit’ is what we would all prefer to hear from this odious, self-serving character.

*Now totalling 23 golf vacations in 19 weeks, at a cost to the public purse of over $30 million….

x

A view more charitably expressed if in many ways more alarming can be found at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2jqohySZz4

You can stop at 12 minutes, where he goes to phoned-in questions. Reich – Robert Reich – is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies.

Not just some schmuck.

x

You sick sack of shit

“Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.

“…while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses. All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors.”

What’s this about?

Okay, so according to the highly respected financial journal, Forbes magazine, the Trump family has an extensive network of tax-exempt ‘foundation’ charities, and every year the Little Nazi, Uday (Eric), uses his personal foundation to borrow one of Orange Daddy’s golf resorts, he says for free, to host a fundraiser for a kids’ cancer charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

All the money, he tells the wealthy attenders, goes to help the kids.

Only turns out it’s not exactly free. Orange Dad has been billing Eric for the use of the courses at an eyewatering rate, the money’s coming out of the celebrity and business attenders’ donations and instead of going to the charity is being siphoned off to other Trump ‘charities’, from where it’s been used to pay bills.

This, says the story, is not Eric’s idea – it’s the ‘billionaire’ President of the United States who is insisting on getting paid.

In other words, Donald Trump is reportedly bullying his own son to steal money from kids with cancer to line his own pockets.

And Eric Trump has just been on the ratings-loser Sean Hannity show on Fox News, telling the world that Democrats ‘aren’t even human’ because they attack his dad and make things difficult for him? The opposition party? Surely not!

This reinforces The Pumpkin’s theory that it has not dawned on the President that he is a Government employee, not the CEO of some giant corporation he has already admitted is too complicated for one man to run. The functionaries he is screaming abuse at in his mad tantrums are not his employees, they are his colleagues – other Government employees.

That’s because a President is not supposed to ‘run’ the country, he embodies the Constitution, a system of checks and balances that Donald Trump is racing to dismantle because it’s inconvenient and gets in the way of business.

If the story holds up, if they’re bilking genuine charities to fund their phoney ones, I don’t personally think these bottom-feeders should wait to go to hell before they start burning, do you?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2017/06/06/how-donald-trump-shifted-kids-cancer-charity-money-into-his-business/#d2602d46b4a3

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“Western nations are totally out of their depth in the labyrinthine religious, tribal and political twists and turns of this intensely fractured region”

Does he really want the job?own c

The Syria situation has taken a very strange twist, as Saudi Arabia, Bahrein and the UAE, together with Egypt, have turned on their former ally, the tiny oil principality of Qatar, in a bizarre row over supposed Qatari support for Israel and Iran.

Qatar is a strongly Sunni country and, like Saudi Arabia, finances Wahabbism (rightwing fundamentalist Islam) all over the world. The same puritanical beliefs are also held to the extreme by so-called Islamic State and other groups, as well as the Taleban in Afghanistan, that appear to be fuelling a wave of terror attacks, not only in the West but in the Philippines, Indonesia and even as far away as Australia.

Yet Qatar is supporting to the hilt, the allied offensive against ISIS – as is Iran. Russia and Turkey are listed, too, as friends of the Qataris; both oppose Saudi hegemony in the region, and both are actively engaged in the US-led programme to eliminate ISIS while supporting or opposing other militias and the Free Syrian Army, that are also fighting ISIS; but which, beyond the fight against ISIS, are deeply distrustful of, and possibly even fighting against, one another.

In the view of The Pumpkin, this is not a situation in which the West should be involved.

Israel is – well, Israel, and Iran is a Shia theocracy, sworn enemy of both the Israelis and the Sunni Arab tribes. The idea of any Arab state suddenly deciding to support both its sworn enemies in the region against its friends is unusual, to say the least. However, it is Qatar’s perceived support for the universally hated Muslim Brotherhood, as purportedly expressed through Quatar’s global TV news operation, Al-Jazeera, that is uniting the Gulf states against them.

Seizing the moment, Trump has blundered along with the narrative and has been tweeting furiously against the Qataris, calling them terrorism funders, taking boastful credit for the new hardline stance by ‘the leaders’ of the Arab world against the progressive, pro-Western Emir and proclaiming fatuously that his speech in Riyadh was ‘the beginning of the end of terrorism’ – despite, as The Guardian describes it (6 June):

“While in Riyadh, Trump met regional leaders, including the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. He said the US and Qatar had been “friends for a long time” and that the two leaders discussed the Qatari purchase of “lots of beautiful military equipment.”

Now he has performed a 180 degree flip, clearly in the hope of boosting his flagging ratings, or because he forgot, claiming personal kudos for another diplomatic disaster – yet (again) completely undermining his own credibility at the same time.

And he doesn’t get it. His vanity is blinding.

Far from being ‘the beginning of the end of terrorism, Trump’s speech was the starting-gun for Saudi Arabia to flex its muscles in the region, relying on a mountain of ‘beautiful military equipment’ to be supplied by the US arms industry.

Of course the oppressive Saudis are happy to blame little Qatar for all the terrorism, diverting attention from their own monstrous regime. And Qatar’s perceived attempts to mediate with Iran are a perfect excuse to substitute a little terror for all-out war.

Which is all deeply embarrassing to the US military, on the brink of the final ‘push’ against IS in Raqqa. For Qatar hosts the giant al-Udeid airbase, the most important facility in the allied airforces’ Syrian war armoury: and it appears President Trump has forgotten, or maybe never knew, the strategic necessity not to upset the Qataris just yet if he wants to impose the final solution on IS.

White House officials rehearse for Mr Trump’s forthcoming visit to Israel.

So, the Pentagon and White House ‘officials’ (whoever they now are, most have quit or are in hiding or, like Secretary Tillexxon, in constant movement around the globe to avoid encountering his abusive boss) are once again scurrying to distance the administration from deranged tweets fired off like cruise missiles from the iPhone of the lunatic upstairs.

Thus far the Arab states have withdrawn their ambassadors, imposed a blockade on food and other imports coming in over the border and closed most airspace around the small but wealthy city-state on the Gulf, a major oil and gas exporter. It’s pretty serious – about as serious as it gets without a fullscale war breaking out, that could draw in Qatar allies like Turkey, whose troops are already on the way.

But given the tribal and religious dimension, an alliance between Qatar – which has hotly denied the links with terrorism – Israel and Iran seems highly unlikely. While the major exporter of Wahabbist terrorism around the world is, of course, Saudi Arabia. So what could be the reason for the flare-up?

When you go on websites to try to find out what’s afoot in the region, one little word keeps popping up, that may well prove the eventual connection with all this:

Gas.

Qatar shares an enormous gas field with Iran. And we know the Russians are trying to limit output from the gas-rich Middle East to maintain a higher price for their own gas exports, hoping to maintain a strategic advantage over Ukraine and EU consumers and a possible stranglehold in time of conflict.

Similar shenanigans seem to be going on in the Eastern Mediterranean, where various companies including the US-based Noble Energy, a Trump-connected operation, are vying to pipe gas from Israel’s offshore fields under the sea, bypassing Syria and through Turkey, but are being blocked by an Israeli court.

Is part of the Russian rationale for its presence in Syria to prevent that?

Well, CNN has been reporting today that a Russian hack was probably responsible for starting the rumours about Qatari moves to reconcile, both with Iran and Israel.

“US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation. The FBI recently sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident, Qatari and US government officials say.”

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/06/politics/russian-hackers-planted-fake-news-qatar-crisis/index.html

Thus far The Pumpkin has not been able to confirm what that ‘fake news’ story was.

And today there have been two terrorism-related incidents in the Iranian capital: a shootout at the Parliament building and a suicide bombing at the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the revolution, with seventeen now dead. ISIS has claimed it, but the Iranian military is pointing the finger at the Saudis, who threatened them with just such an attack a month ago. Ooops. And in response, in a sinister and vaguely repulsive tweet the White House is blaming Iran as a ‘sponsor of terrorism’ for the attack on its own soil, at one of its most sacred shrines. Ooops.

Something is on the move, guys. Tectonic plates shifting. But what this whole murky affair reinforces is The Pumpkin’s thesis that Western nations are totally out of their depth in the labyrinthine religious, tribal and political twists and turns, the power-plays of this intensely fractured region.

Get the hell out, is our advice. We should surely have learned our lesson after 800 years of this.

But the arms industry won’t let you.

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I’d like you all now to watch this interview and you will learn how Trump is drawing us into war:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lh16ZF1eWbc

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While we’re linking to interesting and educational stuff, here’s a cogent demolition of our own depressing relationship with Saudi Arabia:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/06/theresa-may-wants-to-talk-about-extremism-lets-start-with-our-ties-with-the-saudis

(Kindly note: Some of our links may no longer be live, if they ever were. Cut-and-paste, me hearties! Cut-and-paste.)

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Live by the Saud, die by the Saud

In case you don’t get the point about Sunnis and Shia, the following report from Press TV news might help:

“International rights groups say Saudi Arabia plans to execute 14 Shia civilians following a “grossly unfair trial” over political protests.

“The rise in death sentences against Saudi Arabian Shia is alarming and suggests that the authorities are using the death penalty to settle scores and crush dissent under the guise of combating ‘terrorism’ and maintaining national security,” said Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson on Tuesday.

“Saudi Arabia carried out 153 executions across the kingdom last year….. Saudi officials execute convicts by sword and then dangle their corpses from a helicopter to make sure the public can see the result of the execution. According to Amnesty, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world.”

Indeed. Higher than Arkansas. Higher even, probably, than ISIS.

 

And when I blow like this, bubbles come out. It’s so great.

When once we practise to deceive

With the election ‘n all, if you’ve not been glued to US cable TV news you might have missed the story.

In 2015, Candidate Trump leapt to the forefront of the so-called ‘birther’ campaign against President Obama, claiming his agents had uncovered earth-shaking evidence that 44’s birth certificate was indeed a forgery. Black Satan had in documented fact been born in Kenya, not as claimed in Hawaii, and was therefore not entitled by birth to be the President.

(The story gained further credibility when the original Hawaii births registrar lady died in a light plane crash.)

After a while some suspicion fell on this theory, as Mr Trump seemed almost as unwilling or unable to actually produce the goods on Obama’s origins as he has been over his tax returns. Nevertheless the story gained traction and was widely believed by the dumbfucks who support Trump come hell or high water.

An interview has however resurfaced from last year, in which Jared Kushner, Trump’s plastic toy son-in-law and now chastened former senior White House advisor and property billionaire debtor, battered and deep-fried in the FBI’s investigations into the Russia links, admitted that it was all made up; Orange Dad had not believed for one moment that Obama was not an American citizen.

He had, said Kushner in so many words (I try to forget the exact quote), explained that: ‘Republicans are so dumb they’ll believe anything’.

And they said Mr Trump was a refreshing change from real politicians.

 

It’s never going to end. Also: The rule of law as it applies to the Conservatives.

“Theresa May, as home secretary, sat through 55 national security council meetings on Libya between March and November 2011. The national security adviser’s “lessons learned” report makes no mention of any Home Office contribution to that body’s decisions, nor any mention of the implications for domestic terror.” – Paul Mason, The Guardian, 27 May.

Whouahaawhouaha… eerie flashback music (again. I know, but why wouldn’t you?)

I was working at Thames TV in London in 1980. Three years earlier I had been fired from my job as a news editor on a regional radio station under, shall we say, murky circumstances – undue influence and all that – and found myself on an industry blacklist, that meant I had to start my career over again.

I gained some insight into what it must have been like for those Hollywood scriptwriters and directors unofficially blacklisted by their studios for fear of persecution by the anti-Communist witchhunting McCarthy gang (which included Trump’s notoriously thuggish mafioso solicitor, the happily late Roy Cohn).

After almost a year out of work, an editor I knew took pity on me and offered me anonymous production shifts on terrible late-night phone-in shows. Eventually I was rehabilitated, and did some well-received work, but I was never able to get another staff job and had to keep freelancing, which I’m not very good at as I have no administrative ability, networking or self-promoting instincts.

Thus I had ended up on monthly contract as a lowly scriptwriter on the early-evening news show for Thames, the London ITV contractor.

One day while in a production meeting where story ideas were being pitched, I brought up the matter of the revolution in Iran. I had a very good Iranian friend, so I knew there was quite a large population of Iranian exiles in London who had fled the Islamist purges in the wake of the overthrow of the Shah; and a concomitant population of pro-Khomeini agitators, spies and informers working against them.

Should we not perhaps look at the London dimension, where assassinations and larger-scale acts of violence were a real possibility? I asked the editor. After the shocked expressions had relaxed a bit – lost dogs, celebrity visits, tube strikes and Ken Livingstone’s antics as leader of the Greater London Council being about the sum of the editorial scope of the show – the editor dismissed it with a ‘well, call Scotland Yard and see what they say’.

So I called the press office (for the benefit of US spammers, likers etc. there is in reality no ‘Scotland Yard’, the headquarters of the Metropolitan police has not been at that address for many decades, sorry to disappoint), and they said no, that is not something we’re looking at now or even considering thinking about, thanks.

Feebly, I dropped the story. It was far above my pay grade to follow it up; besides, I didn’t have time, or the contacts.

Three days later an armed unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard took over the Iranian embassy in Palace Gate and a week-long siege ensued, that was ended when masked SAS men abseiled from the roof and crashed in through the windows, hurling stun grenades in an epic act of grandstanding that Thames’ police reporter, Colin Turner managed to catch on film, scooping the world’s media.

The reason I recount this story is that it’s foolish to imagine lessons are ever learned.

Paul Mason has written in The Guardian that British foreign policy, especially on Libya, has not changed. We imagine, don’t we, that there are certain countries where it’s fine to intervene in their turbid politics to suit our own view of what is the best outcome for all, and that there are never repercussions or responsibilities arising as a result. No forethought is required, for we are invariably in the right.

We – that is to say ‘the West’ – were the colonial powers in Islamic North Africa, the Middle East, northern India, Afghanistan in the C19th, when Britain, Russia and America were playing what was known as the Great Game, to secure influence over the important trade routes and mineral resources of the region, and to countervail the declining Ottoman empire.

The possibility of Islamist terrorism was at that time very real, in the estimation of the nascent Western intelligence services, as it was feared the warring tribes might unite behind a mythical saviour known as the Mahdi, whom the ‘Twelver’ Shi’ites believed would be the final incarnation of the Prophet, the Twelfth Imam; and the End of Days.

But what have we learned?

The long history of British interventions in Afghanistan is one mostly of bungling incompetence, our epic defeats being matched only by the brutality of our reprisals.

British troops sent to defend Helmand in the 2000s were hardly aware of the legacy of bitterness the C19th wars had left. It’s a different culture, with longer memories. They imagined they would be welcomed as peacekeepers, a bulwark against the Taleban. Instead they were spurned as occupiers, colonialists. Increasingly trapped in their makeshift cantonments, with mounting casualties becoming politically unacceptable at home, they were eventually forced to pull out.

The generals could have warned the poor squaddies about the back story, as they tend to study these things in books, but apparently they didn’t: thus, the occupation of Afghanistan in support as always of the Americans (who have learned nothing about the futility of asymmetrical warfare from the Vietnam debacle) became a tragedy, a strategic blunder that few people immediately understood as the gung-ho media focus was all on the betrayal of ‘our heroes’, few things in Britain having changed since the 1890s.

In pulling the Raj out of the Indian subcontinent in 1948 and arbitrarily dividing mainly Muslim Pakistan from mainly Hindu India, like taking a can-opener to separate conjoined twins without anaesthetic, we allowed – some say encouraged – a horrible civil war to unfold in which over a million died and tens of millions were displaced.

The ramifications are still being felt today, as nothing positive was ever done to settle the position of disputed Kashmir; while East Pakistan – Bangladesh – moves ever further down the road of Salafist extremism.

Throughout the Middle East, before both World Wars Britain did opportunistic power-sharing deals with local tribal leaders and then broke our promises, that left a lasting legacy of mistrust. To secure the loyalty of Faisal against the Turks, in Arabia we virtually invented the monarchical ‘House of Saud’. In colonial Iran to secure oil supplies we promoted the corrupt Pahlavi family into a poodle dynasty, with a preposterous ‘coronation’ of the Shah-in-Shah in the ruins of ancient Persepolis.

We drew lines on maps and chopped up the Middle East into imaginary ‘nations’, regardless of local religious and tribal accommodations that had arisen over centuries, a history of which we appeared to be totally unaware. When yet another coup brought the nationalizing Colonel Nasser to power in Egypt, in 1956 we and the French co-operated in a poorly planned attempt to sieze control of the Suez canal before he imposed costs on our shipping and restricted the flow of oil from the Gulf; forgetting to ask permission from the Americans, who opposed the idea. It turned into a rout.

That humiliating failure of foreign policy is generally held to mark the end of the British Empire and freed the Americans to buy their way into the region.

And then there was Israel, created from the British Mandate, armed and supported by the US in its several wars against the resident Palestinians and their neighbours Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt; the rise of the PLO, later Hamas – the festering refugee camps, the massacres, the ghettoising of the native population, the illegal settlements, the militarised security that began as legitimate national defence but morphed into a rough repression of the Arab minority.

Yet like the British, the Israelis seem to find it astonishing that apparently random and unprovoked acts of terrorism on their soil have been committed in the name of Palestinian liberation. ‘Who, us?’ they say. ‘But we’re the good guys!’ Ignoring that their own terrorists, the Stern Gang, Irgun, bombed the war-weary British into conceding the mandate in the first place. We left without securing a proper settlement.

We should perhaps briefly consider that the attacks in London using cars and knives are based on tactics developed by Hamas in Israel over the last few years, deploying minimal, virtually undetectable weaponry in the hands of ‘Fida’i’ – those willing to die – to achieve the same terrorising effect as guns and suicide vests.

Later still America engineered the coup that brought Saddam Hussein to power, and supported him for two decades, including his horrible war against Iran – eight years of bloody attrition with poison gas and school-age conscripts brainwashed by Imams into carrying out suicidal ‘open-wave’ assaults across minefields, children against machine-guns, leaving almost two million dead: a war of which we in the West were scarcely even aware at the time and which nobody remembers today.

After he seized power in 1970, apparently a moderate, Westernizing autocrat (though also profoundly corrupt, creating an oppressive personality cult and a ruthless security state around himself and his extended family) we stood by and did nothing in Syria back in 1980 while Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafiz, was killing thousands of ‘his own people’ protesting against his family’s corruption, and razing the rebel city of Hama to the ground – a penchant for medieval butchery runs in the family.

Later, Hafiz was credited with having created the concept of the ‘suicide bomber’, driving poor and hopeless young men and women to enter the enemy camp undetected and blow themselves up with hopes of salvation and riches in the life to come. Though of course this was nothing new: inspired by a living prophet known as The Old Man of the Mountain, the Fida’i or ‘Fedayeen’ were a quasi-religious order of fanatics who opposed the Frankish crusaders in Syria in the C14th and C15th armed with little more than knives and their own lives.

‘Jihad’ counts on its followers to be more willing to die for the cause than its enemies are.

The impossibly knotty power politics of postwar Syria – you can lookup the Wikipedia entry on Hafiz, but I guarantee you will give up long before the footnotes – resulted in a split in the Ba’ath party between Syria and Iraq and led directly to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafism, a revivalist doctrine of purity in Islam that motivated Osama bin-Laden and his fanatical followers to transfer their undeclared jihad to the West, largely targeting symbols of decadence and irreligiousness and hoping to sow confusion, dissension and division.

During the 1940s and 50s, colonial France prosecuted a nasty civil war against Algerian aspirations for independence. Twenty years after it was over, homegrown French terrorists – white men, former legionnaires sponsored by wealthy nationalists – were still carrying out bombing atrocities and assassinations in France to protest the withdrawal. A long-running Islamist insurrection in Morocco followed decades of jostling between the French and the Spanish for control of the protectorate, with Britain anxious to weaken both in its determination to hang on to Gibraltar.

In 2004, a Moroccan cell of al-Qaeda carried out a devastating terrorist atrocity in Madrid, killing 191 people with ten bombs, to protest the invasion of Iraq. There indeed was a clear and direct link between foreign policy and terrorism on both the regional and international levels.

In 2013, young Libyans joined in the Arab Spring movement, peacefully protesting the oppressive regime of Muammar Gadaffi, who struck back with characteristic brutality. Here was another regional ‘strongman’, a megalomaniacal torturer and serial rapist the oil-hungry West played with like a toy, flattering him one minute, branding him a terrorist the next – even while he was arming the Provisional IRA and fomenting rebellions among his southern neighbours.

Instead of standing by and watching him massacre his own people – we always say ‘his people’, don’t we, ignoring that those ‘strongmen’ whom we put and keep in power as long as it suits our energy policy have their own tribal loyalties and do not necessarily regard everyone as ‘their own people’ – David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy got together and persuaded the Americans to help us send planes to bomb Gadaffi’s tanks and supply lines, his airbases, to weaken them and thus enable the rebels to take over.

Tripoli bombing. (Google images)

It didn’t quite happen like that. The bombing of Tripoli and the Benghazi road went on day after day, justified by the phoney pretext of ‘precision-guided weaponry’, causing heavy casualties; until, attempting to flee, Gadaffi was dragged, pleading for his freedom, from hiding in a storm drain and murdered by the mob, a bayonet thrust up his anus before being shot in the head.

His sons were hunted down and arrested, and with no coherent follow-up plan coming from the West, Libya descended into chaos. The ‘rebels’ we had imagined were Westernising moderates turned out to be a squabbling assortment of tribal and religious militias and criminal gangs, bristling with liberated weaponry, harbouring varying degrees of vicious antipathy towards each other and towards the West.

What a surprise.

Eventually two shaky rival governments emerged, in the east and in the west of the country, with lawless badlands to the south. A shame because, as Donald Trump has said, they had ‘the best oil in the world’. (Mr Trump has argued that, wherever US troops are engaged, they should be allowed to recoup the cost by seizing the oil. He is criminally insane, of course, but nobody has the guts to remove him. They have seen what happens when you remove dictators.)

In Benghazi, the local militia invaded the US embassy and shot the ambassador. That, of course, was Hillary Clinton’s fault. A branch of ISIS opened in Sirte, Gadaffi’s home province, but was quickly expelled as ‘too extreme’ by local militias. Not before IS’s Libyan gunmen had entered Tunisia and murdered 32 Western tourists irreligiously bathing on a popular winter holiday beach. Another inexplicable, random attack?

Having previously invaded Iraq but left Saddam in place, after he seized the oilfields in Kuwait (it appears he imagined the Americans would like it) in 1991, twelve years later on the false pretext that the 9/11 attack on America had been supported by the dictator and claiming that he had obtained chemical and nuclear weapons he was planning to use to bring down the West, the US, Britain and NATO allies toppled the dictator using overwhelming lethal force: ‘shock and awe’, that left perhaps 15 thousand dead.

After a long manhunt, Saddam was dragged matted and bleeding from a hastily dug underground bunker, put on trial and executed. A puppet, Nuri al-Malaki was put in charge of an artificially ‘democratic’ government that has conspicuously failed to govern for national unity ever since.

In fact, apart from Israel the only country in the region that seems capable of conducting ‘free and fair’ elections is Iran – one of George W Bush’s three ‘Axis of Evil’ nations he accused of exporting global terrorism (along with Libya and North Korea). The three so named should have been Syria (probably responsible for the Lockerbie bombing), Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but they weren’t even on the target list.

Regardless of the possibility that Iran might be the best and most stable regional ally the West could have, despite its awful record on human rights, the US is gearing up for a lucrative new war; Britain is bound to join them and another foreign policy blunder of the first magnitude is looming.

With no plan for reconstruction other than to award lucrative contracts to companies owned by cronies of President George W Bush, that were never fulfilled – placing areas under the virtual control of Blackwater, an undisciplined private army – Iraq descended into virtual civil war between Sunni and Shi’a militias, proxies of Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively, under local warlords. The casualty rate continued to spiral into the hundreds of thousands.

The British in Iraq underwent another ignominious retreat, failing to comprehend the underlying politics of the Basra region where they were charged with maintaining the peace, our generals being anxious to believe they could sustain a ‘second front’ in Afghanistan, that would help them avoid further government cuts in manpower and materièl.

“It’s never going to end while Jingoistic cretins – Fallon, the disgraced former Defence Secretary Fox and the absurd, shambling, apelike creature, Boris Johnson – are in charge of the whelk stall….”

It may be noted that Britain is not, and has not for some time been, capable of sustaining these post-colonial entanglements, but our brain-dead political class dare not admit it to a populace of Daily this-or-that readers they imagine are still infatuated with dreams of empire.

Thus, every time they pursue some pointless and inadequately planned foreign intervention, they put our soldiers’ lives unnecessarily at risk – and those of civilians back home; failing to understand the nature, either of a virtually borderless world or of asymmetrical warfare.

And then there was Afghanistan, of course, again – and the rise of the Taleban, a political and Salafist (fanatically puritanical Sunni) religious army that was created effectively by the CIA when, in its clandestine attempts to destabilise Russian control of the country in the 1970s, it had financed, armed and trained a local militia, the Mujahideen.

The Mujahideen later grew and became more radicalized, and diversified into most of the terror-sponsoring organizations we have subsequently been ‘at war’ with in the Middle East and North Africa – Indonesia, and now seemingly also in the Philippines – employing sophisticated communications technology and improvised weaponry to good advantage, and who are still indirectly being armed by the CIA with free weapons passed on by so-called ‘friendly’ militias, as we seek to impose our ‘way of life’ (neoliberal consumer capitalism) on them, and they on us (the global caliphate).

Which is to ignore, too, the drugs trade, the poppy crop, of which The Pumpkin has little knowledge but which seems also to be part and parcel of the clandestine warfare run by the CIA in the 1970s, both in Afghanistan and in Colombia; and having made the economies of those countries dependent on it, it continues unabated today.

In God we trust

As a counterbalance to radical Islam, we are beginning to see in the USA, in rightwing nationalist countries in eastern Europe and in Russia, an equivalent militant fundamentalism arising, sponsored by ultra-orthodox Christian ideologues and financed with laundered money. Given that the new administration in the White House is deeply involved with the movement, the omens do not look good.

In Egypt, the Arab Spring movement failed to cohere sufficiently to replace the ousted dictator, Mubarak. This left a vacuum into which the Muslim Brotherhood stepped, winning the popular vote in 2012. Not long afterwards, President Morsi was deposed in an army coup and the American-backed General al-Sisi seized power, apparently with the approval of the Arab Spring moderates; since when he has instituted a repressive regime that has attracted a rising level of terrorist actions by both al-Qaeda and ISIS, including the downing of a Russian civil airliner over Sinai and attacks on Coptic Christian communities.

In the meantime, the USA continues to pour billions of dollars of armaments into Egypt, whose army has become, effectively, a separate ‘state within a state’.

So then, here we are back in Syria today, a complete bloody mess that threatens the security of the entire world; a maelstrom, a vortex of violence that is sucking the Great Powers once more into the incomprehensibly diverse politics of religious and tribal schisms, set this time against the exigencies of resource depletion, global crime and climate change; driving millions of desperate refugees northwards towards the razorwire fences of Hungary, Austria and Macedonia. (Five thousand refugees having drowned in the Mediterranean already this year.)

And the only response from the West, now joined enthusiastically by the Russians, has been to bomb, and bomb, and bomb again, not wishing to get our boots dirty, pretty much regardless of whose red lines we or they are crossing, not really knowing who we are supporting, who we are opposing, who we are bombing or to what end. Innocent women and children, poor villagers are dying by the hundreds every month, blown to smithereens in air raids and unmanned drone strikes – and for what?

It would be fair to say, I think, that the USA, Britain and our allies have been making a total balls-up of our foreign policy towards the Islamic world for over a century.

Do you seriously imagine they’re not going to fight back from a position of extreme ideological opposition to everything we stand for?

So, when a Tory thug like the Defence Secretary and former expenses-eater, Michael Fallon seeks to make election-bait out of the deaths of children on British soil by attacking a pacifist opponent in Jeremy Corbyn, branding him as some kind of flakey traitor who ‘excuses’ acts of terror by pointing with total justification to our shameful record of failings in foreign policy, who ‘cannot be trusted with the nation’s security’, unlike Theresa May (on whose watch this happened!), you just know, don’t you.

It’s never going to end.

It’s never going to end while Jingoistic cretins – Fallon, the disgraced former Defence Secretary Fox, the absurd, shambling, apelike creature, ‘Bigfoot’ Boris Johnson and the Press dictator, Dacre – are in charge of the whelk stall, and have their filthy, sanctimonious lips firmly attached around the prolapsed anal sphincter of a dangerously ignorant, aberrant monster, Donald Trump; around whom, it is increasingly apparent, has coalesced a Russian spy ring inside the White House.

To deny any connection between British and American foreign policy and Islamist terrorism is just crass, self-deluding propaganda. It is as stupid as claiming British policy in Ireland from the C17th onwards, through land-grab, famine, civil war and partition, had nothing at all to do with the rise of the Provisional IRA.

Terrorists do not emerge spontaneously from holes in the mud, as in medieval times it used to be believed swallows – migratory birds – did in summer. They have a cause, in both senses of the word.

Everything is connected. As Paul Mason goes on to write:

“It is now reported that MI5 was facilitating the travel of non-jihadi British Libyans to fight in Tripoli. The minister responsible for that decision would have been May. Did she ask about the impact of the Libyan fighting on the terror threat here? That would be something the newspapers, if they did their job, would be shouting at her today, instead of hurling insults at Jeremy Corbyn.”

I mention this, not for party political advantage, nor to ‘excuse’ acts of violence, but as yet another simple illustration of the carelessness with which our politicians dispose of the lives of people elsewhere in the world while accepting no responsibility whatever for the consequences for ‘our own people’, other than to further turn the screws of surveillance, censorship and armed policing in our nation.

It really will not do.

x

The rule of law as it applies to the Conservatives

Look.

I don’t understand the first thing about social media, unless you count this, muh li’l bogl. I don’t understand much about this either, especially why I can’t single-space the text, or why the spam filter asks me if I’d like to moderate the most obviously spam messages you couldn’t wish for. And it’s not that social. Five viewings today, all day, is quite a good haul – mostly the usual old stuff.

Comex Two, Stately Home, blah.

Thus I have no social media accounts, and I automatically delete unread any responses to the Comments I compulsively make on news threads like YouTube or the Grauniad. I am so not interested in this technoshit, and care so little about what people think of my opinions that I refuse to even read what they say in reply, complimentary or otherwise.

They are mostly illiterate baboons in any case.

But if you’ve been following the alternate Pumpkin threads on this site you’ll be aware by now that there’s growing concern about surreptitious political advertising targeted directly at wavering, inadequately educated young voters identified through analysis of their computer and phone usage, that they aren’t aware they consented to.

It’s developing from the same kind of personalized nonsense that meant that, after I bought a saxophone last year, I was bombarded with microtargeted pop-ups from people wanting to sell me more saxophones. How many could I need? Or that, having been forced to sign up to the BBC iPlayer site that used to just let you watch whatever you wanted, I now get only the programmes presented to me that they expect me to watch, based on my personal data (M, 67) and the uninteresting region where I live.

Surely I can make up my own mind?

This kind of automated campaigning by clandestine botnets has been identified in the USA as a factor in the Presidential election last year, the concern being that the data analysis may have been based partly on state-authorised Russian hacking in cahoots with the Trump campaign.

US, Britain and Canada-based data analysis companies owned by rogue multi-billionaire Robert Mercer, a core Trump backer, have also been implicated, in an excellent series of articles in The Observer newspaper by Carole Cadwaladr, in having tried to influence the EU referendum in favour of Brexit, against Electoral Commission rules.

There is apparent difficulty in obtaining research data on the usage, extent and effect of these campaigns as social media such as Facebook and Twitter are opaque to outsiders. Much of what we fear about the subversive activity carried by these ‘platforms’, enabled to increase their profit, is anecdotal or based on very small samples.

This week we read the following:

“The Observer has obtained a series of Conservative party attack ads sent to voters last week in the key marginal constituency of Delyn, north Wales. Activists captured the ads using dummy Facebook accounts after finding that their own ads – encouraging young people to register to vote – were being “drowned out” by the Tory ads.”

In other words, the Tories have been running a trial campaign online of fake news against their Labour rivals in an attempt to gerrymander a constituency, despite knowing that the Electoral Commission is investigating precisely this kind of advertising, that seems on the face of it to be in flagrant breach of the rules regarding campaign funding.

This, only days after they escaped prosecution in several constituencies by the skin of their teeth, after a lower court ruling that undeclared costs involved in sending a Central Office ‘battle bus’ to support candidates in marginal constituencies did not violate local spending limits; which, of course, any reasonable juror would conclude they did.

What a shameless bunch of cunts these Tories are, aren’t they? They will stop at nothing to retain power, even stooping to make political capital out of the heightened national insecurity in the wake of the murders of 22 children, parents and a policewoman in the Manchester Arena bombing only last Monday.

Although they’re the ones in government overseeing this failure of security, they seek to make out that it is their opponents who have allowed it to happen and who cannot be trusted to ensure it does not happen again.

And if you want to see where that goes, hop over to the USA and Mr Alex Jones’ ‘InfoWars’ website, where he reports the murdered children brought the Manchester bombing on themselves because they’re ‘liberals’.

Sick sons of bitches.

Well, thanks to the bizarre attacks their manifesto has made on poorer schoolkids, struggling tenants and the frail elderly, policies that could have come straight from the Donald J Trump playbook on how to crush a loser while guzzling Belgian chocolates and whining about the difficulty of getting planning consents for golf courses, plus the obviously ‘fake news’ that they plan to bring back foxhunting, already the Tories’ poll lead has plunged from 12% to 5% in less than a week.

Good, the BogPo hopes the lousy cheating bastards, the party of asset-skimming fund managers, land-subsidy junkies and rack-renting landlords lose, and lose bigly.

DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM.

This advertisement has been paid for through years of unrewarded toil at the coalface of documentary literature by your Uncle Bogler, 67.