Did Hitler win after all?… And whither the UK?… GW: Pick me up, put me down, spin me round and round…

“New technology should not be banned or condemned because of its potential misuse.”

– Amazon’s philosophy, regarding its sales of a facial recognition app to the Surveillance State.

 

As people old enough to remember life under Nazi occupation die off, younger generations feel no connection with the 1930s and ’40s, no sense of alarm.

Did Hitler win after all?

The most astonishing abuses of local government and state powers across what used to be the more civilized, welcoming and moderate countries in Europe are revealed today in a major report from Open Democracy.

What is your reaction, for instance, to the news that a 71-year-old woman in France was arrested, held in a cell for 24 hours, charged with people trafficking and CONVICTED after stopping her car and giving a lift to a weary mother and her child on the road from Nice to Antibes? Oh, because the passengers happened to be undocumented African migrants.

Or that, in Greece, the cradle of modern civilization, ha-ha, a retired German couple were sentenced to 16 YEARS in prison after they stopped their boat to rescue some refugees? Mercifully the sentence was reduced on appeal to just 3.5 YEARS.

Or that a British volunteer, Tom Ciotkowski, 30, is facing up to 5 YEARS in jail in France, merely for filming another volunteer at the Jungle camp in Calais being pushed to the ground and kicked by police, the criminal charges being “contempt” (of the police? You have to be kidding, monsieur!) and “showing solidarity” with illegal immigrants?

Hundreds of people ranging from Christian pastors and elderly academics to journalists, charity volunteers and even firemen are being harrassed and detained by immigration and law enforcement – I won’t call them officers, they’re just goons, hired thugs in it for the joy of exercising their own base brutality, the sexual thrill of wearing the uniform and the celebration of hate-filled ignorance – for helping the helpless. Laws are being passed, that are in direct opposition to years-old United Nations conventions.

In Hungary, under the autocrat Orban, it’s now a criminal offence even for lawyers to advise immigrants and refugees of their legal rights – of which, it seems, they no longer have any. In Greece and Italy, people have been arrested just for having phone contact with migrant support groups. A team of Spanish firefighters who went to Lesbos as volunteers to help with search and recovery operations were arrested, threatened with up to 10 years in gaol, heavily fined and themselves deported.

Simple acts of Christian charity and compassion are being criminalised as a wave of enthusiastic, racially-based proto-fascism sweeps across a continent deprived of aspiration by a ruling coterie of neoliberal meritocrats. This is not something confined to “far off countries of which we know little”. The editor of Marie Claire magazine in Belgium was charged with people smuggling after feeding and giving clothes to a Sudanese teenager hoping to get to the UK. She was subsequently acquitted, but the signal had been sent, in a small, recently invented country with a history of the worst colonial human rights abuses of all:

No more brown people.

And here, too, thanks to the sociopathic vicar’s daughter Theresa May, and her “hostile environment” policy, no kindness or act of caring will go unpunished. The Guardian reported (29 April, 2019):

“A man who brought his (7-month-old) baby niece to Britain in the back of his car from a French refugee camp after she suffered serious burns is facing deportation from the UK on Tuesday. Najat Ibrahim Ismail, 35, an Iraqi Kurd with a British wife and three young British children, was prosecuted for trafficking.”

His deportation flight was halted on the runway after a public outcry, even the judge who gave him that critical 12-month sentence (it’s the automatic deportation cutoff point) accepted he hadn’t been trafficking, but he is still under threat of being separated from his British family and sent back to God knows what; having been admitted in the first place only because he’d been tortured in his own country – a country which, incidentally, we invented, depriving his people of their own statehood.

This is what now passes for British justice, that we can’t even tolerate compassion towards babies while denying our guilt for creating this situation in the first place.

The BogPo has argued before, the UK Home Office is not fit for purpose. Clumsy, cynical, expensive, illegal and too often lethal mistakes are being made now on an almost daily basis in its Immigration department. Thousands of people – not only brown people, but legally settled white EU citizens – are having their lives turned upside down and their rights trashed by harsh and often incorrect decisions, seemingly made by overworked, harrassed and incompetent officials.

No-one will convince me this chaos is accidental. With the financial support of foreign disruptors, it is being promoted by political chancers like Johnson and Farage. The nightmare is, millions of voters support them – not because they are good leaders with policies that will make life better for millions, but because they are celebrities, entertainers one step removed from standup comedians “as-seen on TV!”.

As with Trump, the dumbfucks don’t care whatever else he does, fiddles his taxes, endlessly lies about everything, tears up treaties, abuses the powers of his office to obstruct justice and line his pockets, pardons racists and pedophiles and persecutes “foreigners”, they merely see him as “different” and hang on his every garbled word, because he had a third-rate TV show where he was encouraged to play the part of a successful billionaire, the embodiment of the American dream; and because he promised them an American “earth” he knew he couldn’t possibly deliver.

Well, without wishing to make a direct comparison, Adolf Hitler was “different” too. It takes a huge inversion of logic to vote for someone who so clearly doesn’t have your best interests at heart, merely because they’re not the people you voted for last time, whom you are easily persuaded (without a great deal of knowledge of the facts) haven’t served you very well. And they probably haven’t, but is a total phony like Nigel Farage going to do better?

A filthy cloak of barbarism is descending over Europe once again. As people old enough to remember life under Nazi occupation and the vast sacrifice it took to end it die off, younger generations feel no connection with the 1930s and ’40s, no sense of alarm.

They see no parallels between the street-scumbag rhetoric, say, of a Matteo Salvini, Pretty-boy Wilders or Jorg Heider; even of that self-pitying criminal midget calling himself “Tommy Robinson”, and the parade of squalid villains of the murderous decades of fascist regimes founded on licensed brutalities and a too-easily manufactured hatred of The Other.

If you support any of this, just answer me one question.

Why?

Why are you so willing to be taken advantage of, again?*

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/hundreds-of-europeans-criminalised-for-helping-migrants-new-data-shows-as-far-right-aims-to-win-big-in-european-elections/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=25b6e86974-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-25b6e86974-408090269

*Actually, there’s no need to answer that. The fascination of fascism is not the obvious lie that it will “end corruption” – it is the very essence of corruption – and make everyone great again, as if they were ever great in the past – but that it puts a malign power directly into the hands of those who are most willing to wield it against their fellow men.

It’s the religion of psychopathy.

 

And whither the UK?

What will Britain do if America decides to bomb or invade Iran, merely to fulfil a 20-year ambition on the part of the “retread neoconservative”, the insane Irish war hawk (who has never served in anything more impressive or risky than the National Guard) John Bolton, and possibly bolster Trump’s re-election prospects by being seen to take tough action against an imaginary threat, although polls show another foreign war is not yet supported by his dumbfucks?

Well, the Tories always do well out of wars, and pathetic Labour are invariably split over whether to support them or to risk the opprobrium of the Daily Mail.

Anyway, I fear we have the answer. From a Guardian/Observer piece by Simon Tisdall, 19 May:

“Memories of the Iraq fiasco may have influenced Major-General Chris Ghika, the British deputy commander of the coalition against Isis, when he was asked about the American claims last week. “There’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” he said. Since Ghika is based in Baghdad, he might be expected to know best.

“That did not stop the Pentagon issuing an extraordinary rebuttal, saying the general’s comments “run counter to the identified credible threats”. In another echo of Iraq, the British government caved in to US pressure and disowned Ghika the following day, saying that it fully agreed with Washington’s threat-level assessment.”

Lies, lies, and more fucking lies. We’re always taken to war by tiny people: failed politicians on the backs of lies. Even the Pentagon doesn’t agree with these phony security assessments, but who are they to know better than the trio of feral hacks who have seized power in Washington, and who only have the template of the successful 2003 invasion of Iraq to guide them into another murderous 15-year-long debacle on behalf of Raytheon, Boeing and the US arms industry?

Christ, what a bunch of evil fuckers the Trump crew are. Who in God’s name is letting them get away with this crazy shit?

Meanwhile, world oil prices are rising rapidly as a result of American belligerence towards Iran, Venezuela and Libya. OPEC countries are delighted, as US overproduction had depressed prices and was causing economic damage to producers like Saudi Barbaria, who need a higher price to balance their budget. Mr Trump will not be happy, as he has assured his dumbfucks of permanent cheap gasoline to fuel their SUVs. On the other hand, whose fault is it? He knows nothing whatever about the economics of trade, and will not be told.

“As one British minister said this week, ‘The risk of this proving unmanageable and blowing up in our faces is growing'” (The Guardian, 19 May).

 

The daily average CO₂ level recorded by NOAA at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, on May 15, 2019, was 415.64 ppm, with some hourly measurements over 417 ppm. It’s been climbing during the month and may well exceed 420 ppm by next spring. Super-greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide (N20) are giving even more cause for concern. Arctic sea ice was at a record mid-April low extent, with virtually no ‘old ice’ more than 2 years old left, indicating rapid thinning. (edited from Arctic News)

April 2019 globally was the second warmest on record (NOAA).

GW: Pick me up, put me down, spin me round and round

USA: In what The Weather Channel‘s Bob Henson reports is a “highly unusual for late May”, volatile situation, the chain of violent supercell storms that has plagued the southwestern states from Texas up into the Great Lakes almost weekly for the past three months and created the worst flooding since 1927 shows no sign of stopping. More than 40 powerful tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska yesterday, staff at a tornado warning center had to take refuge in the basement as one formed right over their office. And the forecast for tomorrow, Monday 20 May, is worse, with very strong winds a feature!

“A powerful squall line continued to wreak havoc as it moved into Missouri and Arkansas on Saturday afternoon and evening. High winds and heavy rains will be the main threat, but hail and tornadoes are possible. Severe weather should be more muted on Sunday, but bands of storms capable of severe wind and hail will rumble from the Mississippi Valley up to Michigan and across to western Pennsylvania and New York by evening.” Flood warnings too: up to another 6-in. of rain is forecast on already saturated ground.

New York state governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency in 8 counties and put the National Guard on standby as the water level of Lake Ontario edges within millimetres of an all-time high. (The Weather Channel)

Meanwhile, with a fortnight to go before the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, one may be forming east of the Bahamas. “As of Saturday, odds were close to 50-50 for development next week of each of a pair of tropical cyclones, one in the Atlantic and the other in the Eastern Pacific (off the coast of Mexico).”

Tuesday 21 May: The Atlantic tropical storm now has a name, Andrea, but it’s heading into cooler waters and with strong wind shear is expected to dissipate. It’s set a record however for the number of named storms to form before the official start to the season. All in the past 5 years…. (The Weather Channel).

Paraguay: 16 people are feared drowned after extensive flooding covered large areas of the country. Over 60 thousand families have been affected and the Paraguay River stands almost two meters above its critical level. 700 people have been evacuated in Argentina, where over 600 thousand Ha of crops have been lost to floods. (Floodlist)

Europe: States of emergency have been declared in Bosnia and Croatia after storm-force winds and torrential rain caused extensive damage and rivers to reach red alert levels. “Houses and crops have been damaged in affected areas, and power and water supply severely disrupted. Flooding and landslides have blocked several roads and some schools have been closed.” At least 1 person, a child, is feared drowned. The city of Banja Luca received 111mm of rain in a 48 hour period. Heavy rain in northern Italy over the last few days has caused rivers to break their banks and reactivated a landslide in the Veneto region. (Floodlist) More severe storms and high winds are forecast for southeastern and eastern Europe over the coming days. (Severe-weather.eu)

UK: Overnight rain has helped firefighters to to dampen down two wildfires that have destroyed thousands of acres of moorland in Scotland. A woman has been arrested in connection with a large fire on Ilkley Moor, in Yorkshire. Otherwise where your old Granny is, it’s all still unusually agreeable.

Antarctica: A major study of 20 years of satellite data has shown that the Antarctic glaciers are thinning five times as fast as was thought. In places, over 100 metres of ice thickness has been lost, with melting extending up to 300 miles inland. A report in Guardian Green Light quotes the research team: “A complete loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet would drive global sea levels up by about 5 metres, drowning coastal cities around the world. The current losses are doubling every decade and sea level rise is running at the extreme end of projections made just a few years ago.”

 

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Media: Just gettin’ it on… Taking a chance on love… Loony Tunings (Guitar Bore alert)… Futuropathy: latest… GW: the climes, they are a’ changin’… RIP Trevor.

Quote of the Week

“We can only speculate about how much more embedded public knowledge of the EU’s benefits would be today if she (Thatcher) and other leading politicians had explained rather than obfuscated; if the basics had been taught in schools and reported honestly in the media. … Instead, the public has remained largely uninformed about the economic advantages of the EU and its ‘frictionless’ single market, for which Thatcher herself pushed so hard.”– David Conn, in The Guardian, 4 Feb.

Given that Nissan chose to locate in Britain for reasons most strongly connected with these islands as gateways to both the European and US markets, Conn points out that Thatcher could have opened the new Sunderland Nissan plant in 1986 with a speech about those opportunities. Instead, she chose characteristically to spin the massive Japanese investment purely as a vote of confidence in good old British know-how.

And many of those who voted Leave still believe in her John Bull-shit, even as they see their jobs vanishing in a puff of good old British smoke; while the Brexit politicians scramble to accuse the EU of treachery, having agreed a tariff-free trade deal on car imports from… Japan, just as we were leaving.

The BogPo consoles itself with the thought that continuing car manufacturing at all in the face of climate disaster is a Thoroughly Bad Thing. If the (entirely foreign-owned) car industry in the UK relocates abroad post-Brexit, we can say, hand on heart, we did our bit to save Humanity.

“You may most certainly not grab my pussy, Herr Juncker. Not without a change to the backstop!” (Photo: Geert Vanden/Guardian)

Medea

Just gettin’ it on

“Winter has arrived with savage consequences for digital publishers, including BuzzFeed. In the space of two weeks, about 2,100 jobs have been lost across the media, with many disappearing from purely digital publishers. BuzzFeed’s layoffs amounted to 15% of its total staff, a loss of around 220 jobs across all departments, including in its widely admired New York newsroom.” (Guardian report)

I got a bit confused, the first time I searched for Buzzfeed, to be confronted with a page of the usual garbage ‘Daily Mail’-type stories about Z-list celebs and shows I’d never heard of, recipes, weather reports and clickbait for Harry Potter fans, only without bikinis.

The layout looked like amateur night at the Krazy Kidz Kut’n’Paste emporium, but I guess they must have focus-grouped it, gettin’ down wiv da ‘hood, and all that.

I’d heard they were a really hot breaking news site. There are a couple of newsish stories today, some predictable stuff on Brexit, something about the Duchess of Markle. Since my first shock exposure, I’ve relied on other media quoting Buzzfeed news, a service I never managed to find. They seem well respected in the business.

However, the business is fast disappearing.

“…the past decade has been catastrophic. Between 2008 and 2017, the number of newsroom jobs in US newspapers dropped by 45%, to 39,000, and all US newsroom jobs, including TV and radio, declined by 23% overall.”

The reason seems to be twofold.

One, viewers and readers are tuning to their mates on Instagram as more reliable sources of information, believing in Trump’s truth, that the conventional mainstream media are fake news.

(It seems to your Old Uncle that the media at least tries to represent the truth, while it’s life that’s increasingly fake.)

And no publisher has been able to find a business model that doesn’t involve driving prospective readers headlong into a paywall, forcing people to look at irrelevant ads by pinning their eyes open with digital safety pins, spattering cookies and legal spyware over your computer, or conning readers with low-cost subscription offers they can’t cancel when the price shoots up.

Where your Uncle Bogler feels there is a disconnect in online journalism, is between the urge to inform a loyal readership of their views, and the site owners’ futile desire to make huge profits. Falling between the two, is the natural hope of the hacks to be paid for their time and trouble.

And you can never tell in this business, what might suddenly go wrong. The drink-drive conviction and divorce trials of inexplicably popular presenter Ant McPartlin and his voluntary incarceration in rehab were said to have cost ITV £1.3 Billion in lost share value last year. Ad revenues continue to fall, as the uncertainties of Brexit seems to have affected companies’ marketing budgets.

I’d go further into that, were it not for the annoying paywall Campaign magazine hides behind. I’m not going to subscribe for a year just to read the lead paragraph of only one article, as I have no interest in the rest. Can’t they understand that, and just allow superficial researchers a peep?

(The New Yorker magazine has quite a successful policy of allowing people who receive their daily email digest for free, to view four actual articles a month. Then they bombard you day and night with special subscription offers.)

All I can say is, bad luck. The Boglington Post, with its lately rather silent sister bogl, The Pumpkin, remains rock solid on a readership now averaging 4 a day, and has no plans to downscale. Our own business model is very simple:

Keep on ’til the fun stops. Don’t stop ’til you get it on. Etc.

 

Taking a chance on love

In the wake of the 69-year-old Dutchman who lost a court case to have 20 years knocked off his life because he felt discriminated against on dating sites, comes a report that a “27-year-old Indian man plans to sue his parents for giving birth to him without his consent.”

“Mumbai businessman Raphael Samuel told the BBC that it’s wrong to bring children into the world because they then have to put up with lifelong suffering. … In a statement, his mother Kavita Karnad Samuel explained: ‘I must admire my son’s temerity to want to take his parents to court knowing both of us are lawyers. And if Raphael could come up with a rational explanation as to how we could have sought his consent to be born, I will accept my fault.'” (BBC News, 7 Sept.)

I personally concluded today, my mother allegedly having politely told my grandfather where to shove the money he was offering her to pay to have me aborted, that if we are indeed witnessing the final extinction of the human race, it is surely a unique privilege to be here at such a time.

Don’t you think?

 

(Guitar bore alert)

Loony Tunings

Although I know several hundred chords and more, almost 60 years having passed since I was gifted my first guitar by my Granny, I am probably the world’s worst soloist.

Despite doggedly practising scales, which is supposed to familiarise you with the intervals and ensure correct note selection within the appropriate key, I cannot play a melody one note at a time to save my life.

It is indeed the reason that, after a disastrously embarrassing school gig, I gave up the guitar for 45 years. Having two wives in quick succession was another.

Jazz musicians smile indulgently. As long as you manage eventually to resolve to the right note in the scale of the key you’re supposedly playing in, they tell me, there are no “wrong notes” you can play in jazz.

Oh, yes there are! I seem to find them all.

Anyway, I wanted to Post briefly about this theory I have, before somebody else discovers it.

As you problee kno’, the standard “open” tuning of a guitar from the top or first string is “E-A-D-G-B-E” (the string nearest your face is the ‘top’ or ‘first’ string of six, although it is the lowest note – bear with me).

The sharp-eyed among you will observe, G and B are only three whole tones – five frets – apart, while the other strings are each four tones – but still five frets – distant from their neighbours. It’s probably this more than anything that confuses me, as I am insanely logical and it isn’t. (Okay, there’s a good reason, if I could only remember what it is. Something to do with the notes B and C, and E and F, each being only half a tone interval (one fret) apart.)

Who knew so much math would be involved in learning music? And when it comes to augmented and diminished 9ths and 13ths and slash-chords and suspended (rootless) 4th chords, you need calculus and an extra finger or two on your left hand. I never got that far with our dreadful math supply teacher, gropy-hands Mr Nazeer.)

Anyway, some reckless folk, especially folk musicians, will lower the top E, i.e. the lowest note, to a D; i.e., two frets, or one whole tone down. This makes playing in the keys of G or D, favorite folky keys, easier and gives you a gutsy bottom note to resolve to in the bass that’s in your key; whereas the ‘E’ wouldn’t be.

A few hardier people even follow the great French-Algerian player, Pierre Bensusan, who leads what is known as the “DADGAD” movement, tuning to those strange open notes. I guess you’d have to be pretty fly to play in any keys other than D and G, although he manages rather well. It’s quite a different sound.

We’ll ignore any similar cranks reading this.

Now, the standard tuning seems to suit pop, rock and folk players well, as their music tends to be written in the major keys of E, A, D and G, and those are predominantly the unfretted, open strings. So if like me you are hideously inaccurate at melody, you have fallbacks available that don’t sound crap.

Jazz songs, on the other hand, possibly to keep horn and woodwind players happy, tend to be written in the major keys of F, Bb, Eb, Ab and C, often played (for that distinctive jazzy sound) as chords with the addition of the dominant 7th or the flattened 5th note (the “blue note”).

And quite by chance, those would be the open strings if you raised your tuning by a half-note, or one fret, and didn’t want to play too many wrong notes when soloing. For, as if by divine intention you would end up with open strings tuned to F-Bb-Eb-Ab-C and F!

For that reason, to humor my very own loony-tuning theory, rather than risk actually retuning all the strings, I have just bought my lovely new Lowden guitar a present: a spring-loaded, bar-type device known as a “capo” (short for Italian “capo d’astro, or capotasto”), hailing originally from C18th Spain (when it was known as a “cejuelo” and was made of wood), being used to raise the open-string tuning to whatever higher pitch you need.

And because my li’l Lowden was so ridiculously expensive, I reasoned – being insanely logical, you understand – nothing less than a 24k gold-plated capo from a brilliant British company called G7th would do, the cleverest and most ergonomic design going, costing over £40 incl. postage.

What am I like? I can barely play the thing!

Postscriptum

Occasionally, you may encounter a guitarmaker whose products make you wet your pants. One such is Theo Sharpach. http://www.scharpach.com/archtop/

I have no idea how much his instruments will set you back, even if you could get your hands on one*. Just win the lottery, okay? Some of the tonewoods he uses are 500 years old.

*The Vienna is $30,000. Or was, four years ago. It’s ‘on application’.

 

Futuropathy: latest

“A further rise in global temperatures would be enhanced by amplifying feedbacks from land and oceans, including exposure of water surfaces following sea ice melting, reduction of CO₂ concentration in water, release of methane and fires. Climate change trajectories would be highly irregular as a result of stadial events affected by flow of ice melt water into the oceans. Whereas similar temperature fluctuations and stadial events occurred during past interglacial periods (Cortese et al. 2007) when temperature fluctuations were close to ~1°C, further rises in temperature in future would enhance the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, entering uncharted territory unlike any recorded during the Pleistocene, rendering large parts of the continents uninhabitable.”

  • Professor Andrew Glikson, Earth and Paleo-climate science, Australia National University (ANU) School of Anthropology and Archaeology; ANU Planetary Science Institute, ANU Climate Change Institute, Honorary Associate Professor, Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence, University of Queensland. For longer (very technical) report, see Arctic News, 30 Jan.

 

GW: the climes, they are a’ changin’

USA: A dipolar system with a remarkable temperature gradient is forming across the North American landmass as I write. According to Severe-weather.eu: “a surface cyclone (Winter Storm Lucian) will move across the Great Plains and will result in extremely powerful warm advection across the central Plains and later over the eastern half of CONUS. Looking over the Thursday map, we can see the temperature anomaly ahead of the cyclone will be more than 20°C above normal, while the airmass behind the system will be more than 20°C colder than average for early February! Very intense winds/jet stream will form in between and also support some severe weather further south along the surface front.”

During the horrendous Polar Vortex incident, “more than 30 record lows were broken across the Midwest. Cotton, Minnesota, was the coldest place in the US on Thursday (31 Jan.) with a low of -48C (-56F) based on preliminary data. (That ain’t windchill, neither.) At -21F, with a windchill of around -51F (-46C) Chicago passed the record low for 31 Jan., while Mount Carroll has probably beaten the Illinois record with a morning temperature of -39C (-38F, or 70F below freezing).” (BBC Weather)

The good news is, it has been colder in the midwest before. More cold records were set in 1994 than have been set this winter. And record warmth has been noted on the East Coast. (Jeff Masters, Wunderground)

Alarmingly, a “nuclear plant in southern New Jersey was shut down early Thursday after intake screens froze over, restricting the flow of water needed to cool the reactor. A second unit at the station on the Delaware river was powered down because of the same problem.” (Fortune)

US Update: So now, it’s Monday 4 Feb, and it’s back up to 60F (17C) degrees in Washington DC, in February, with a forecast of 70F, 21C by Thursday; temperatures in the southeast heading for the high 70s; while California is being hammered by a second major storm in a week. The town of Paradise, incinerated in the Camp Fire last year, is under a flash-flood watch and 7 feet of snow has fallen in the Sierra Nevada mountains, with more forecast. (NBC)

By contrast, Boston has had record low-snow, only 2.3 inches, New York likewise, while Caribou, Maine, recorded its snowiest January on record and has tallied 112.5 inches (9’4″) of snow through Feb. 4, almost 50 inches above average. (The Weather Channel)

And: Phil, the Punxutawney, Pa. groundhog is predicting an early spring. Just so you know.

Punxutawney Phil. Rumors that he is over 200 years old have been disproved by fact-checkers on The Washington Post.

Middle East: “Flooding affected northern and western parts of Saudi Arabia between 27 and 29 Jan. Civil Defence reported dozens of rescues and later that 12 people had died. A total of 271 people had been rescued across the country and 137 evacuated. On 28 Jan, more than 50 homes in Iraq’s Najaf province were swept away by a severe flash flood. Iran’s Red Crescent Society provided emergency shelter for 800 people after heavy rain in southern and western provinces triggered massive floods from 27 January. A total of around 1,400 people were affected” across 4 provinces. (Floodlist).

North Africa: For a second year running, the Arctic was considerably warmer in early February than Morocco:

“Surface air temperatures near Svalbard were as high as 5.2°C or 41.4°F on Feb 3, 2019. At the same time, it was -3.5°C or 25.6°F in Africa. The contrast was even more profound on Feb 4, 2018, when at those same spots it was as cold as -10°C or 13.9°F in Africa, while at the same time it was 5.8C or 42.4°F near Svalbard.” (Arctic-news.blogspot.com)

Australia: “heavy rain has continued to fall in North Queensland, with flooding affecting areas around Townsville from 30 January, 2019. (Townsville received more than a meter (3.3ft) of rain in just a week. That is more than 20 times the average for the time of year – beating the previous record set in 1998, in what became known as the Night of Noah.) (BBC) A few days earlier, wide areas of the north of the state recorded more than 500mm in 48 hours, causing the Daintree River to reach record levels.” (Floodlist)

Update, 5 Feb: the bodies of 2 men thought to have been engaged in a breaking and entering were recovered from a storm drain in Townsville, Monday (4 Feb). Bluewater Creek had 340mm of rain overnight, bringing the week’s drenching up to a record 1.8 meters. Floodwaters are beginning to recede.

“Tasmania recorded its driest January on record, with maximum temperatures an astonishing 3.22C above the long-term average for the month.” Unique on earth, the island’s primeval “Gondwana” pine forests are threatened by more than 40wildfires caused by a great increase in ‘dry-lightning’ strikes, that are burning uncontrolled over 190,000 Ha – 3% of the total land area.

Meanwhile, “A week-long heatwave has floored New Zealand, breaking temperature records across the country. “Hanmer Forest in north Canterbury has hit a record-breaking 38.4C – the warmest it’s been since records began in 1906. (Newshub). Temperatures have soared above 37C (98.6F) in parts of the South Island” And it’s forecast to get hotter. 1 person is known to have died from hypothermia; sea-surface temperatures around the islands are up to 6C above normal. (Guardian)

Indonesia: “Heavy rain in the northern part of Bali triggered a landslide on 29 Jan., killing 4 people. 16 people were injured and required medical attention.” (Floodlist).

Thailand: The Ministry of Education has ordered all schools in Bangkok and some surrounding provinces to close for the remainder of the week amid concerns over dangerous levels of air pollution. Bangkok’s air quality has fallen to harmful levels with the quantity of unsafe dust particles — known as PM2.5 — exceeding what is considered safe in 41 areas around the capital. (CNN)

S. America: floods in Chile affected families and homes in Arica. Around 25,000 were left without electricity. As of 01 Feb, one person was missing, 20 families have been evacuated and 151 people were staying in shelters. Roads, including routes from Arica to Sora and Chapisca, have been cut. Chile has been experiencing a 40C-plus heatwave. Flooding in southern Peru caused a hotel to collapse. (from Floodlist)

Cuba: the death toll from the F3/F4 tornado, the strongest on record to hit Havana, has risen to 6. 2,500 properties were destroyed. The January 27 tornado was followed by a meteorite that landed in western Cuba near the town of Viñales on Friday, Feb. 1. Residents reported windows shattering, and the meteorite was detectable on both satellite and radar. (Wunderground)

Europe: Extremely warm weather is returning to south-central Europe and the Balkans this week, pushing the cold air down over North Africa. It’s been an active start to the tornado season in the Med, with 61 reported in January, including the big one that hit Antalya in Turkey, causing multiple casualties. The south of Italy is in for a period of persistent, excessive rainfall. Thunderstorms will develop along a virtually stationary frontal boundary across central Mediterranean, stretching from Crete into southern Italy. “Torrential” rainfall is forecast for Greece, up to 250mm overnight 5/6 Feb. (Severe-weather.eu))

Flash floods: Others hit Campinas, Brazil; Cordoba, Spain; Jerusalem, Israel; Makassar, Indonesia – all in the last week of January. (Strange Times website).

Antarctica: a hole 2/3rds the size of Manhattan has been discovered under the Thwaites glacier. 14 billion tonnes of ice is thought to have melted out in only the last three years.

Yellowstone: Normally placid Steamboat geyser has erupted for the fourth time this year, keeping up roughly a weekly schedule. See Posts, Passim. The Blessed Mary Greeley is reporting unusual double-signature seismographic patterns of ground uplift around the Yellowstone lake; while the continuous webcam at the geyser basin has been taken offline.

Climate change: Bringing it home to the British consumer

“Consumers are seeing smaller chips as a result of last year’s drought and extreme heat. Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets, said: ‘They’re 3cm shorter on average in the UK. Smaller potatoes means smaller chips.'” (Guardian)

Taken with rapidly vanishig fish stocks, it’s an existential concern, alright.

We’ve ‘had our chips’!

 

RIP Trevor

Trevor, a Mallard drake and internet celebrity said to be the world’s loneliest duck, has died – presumed killed by dogs on the Pacific island of Niue, a New Zealand protectorate.

Stranded by a storm two years ago, Trevor had lived in a puddle by the side of a dirt road, which was being surreptitiously topped up by the local fire brigade as there is no natural reserve of fresh water on the island.

He was named Trevor, after New Zealand’s parliamentary speaker, coincidentally named Trevor Mallard.

“Deepest sympathy to the people of Niue from the parliament of New Zealand,” Mallard posted on social media on Monday.

Niue’s chamber of commerce chief added, Trevor’s death would be a loss for the nation. “He captured many hearts and even the rooster, the chicken and the weka were looking a little forlorn today wandering around near the dry puddle,”

(Report: Guardian Green Light)

 

The BogPo – an Appeal:

Can anyone explain to your old Uncle why it is that Twitter photos no longer appear as uploads embedded in stories on news websites? The text is there, but the picture areas are now blank. This has started happening only in the past fortnight. The BogPo doesn’t have a Twitter account and so never opened the files, but they were at least visible – now not. Why?

 

 

The Warped and the Woof: a doggy shag story… The Demeaning of Life… Christmas is so over!… Another unwanted pres(id)ent… GW: Roasting Matilda. Your New Year edition of the BogPo starts here!

The BogPo and our friends over at The Pumpkin would like to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2019.

But we just can’t.

 

“Is that you Melanka? It’s Donald Trump here. I’m in some kind of forest, there may be rain. Can you call whoever is my Chief of Staff today to come get me out?”

The Warped and the Woof: a doggy shag story

“Britain’s dogs are becoming less fertile. Researchers who have systematically examined canine sperm over a span of 26 years say that overall sperm quality has been in decline. Environmental chemicals are implicated. And the study may throw light on the fertility changes in male humans.” (BBC Science report)

At one and the same time we are reminded, are we gnotte?, of the futility of existence.

On the one hand, you may say, there are too many people in the world. A decline in fertility, that has been noted – the average human birthrate globally is now only 2.4, not far off the point of non-replacement of populations – possibly due to plastics and their chemical emissions, may be seen as both a good and a bad thing. But worth researching.

On the other, discovering that your fate as an adult, having spent perhaps 20 years in fulltime education to emerge with a Doctorate of Philosophy specializing in biomedical science, is to be employed for 26 years to masturbate dogs and minutely examine the outcome; to know this, is more than a non-scientist can bear.

There surely has to be a higher purpose, as well as a statistical number, to existence.

 

The demeaning of life

And we find it, seemingly, in utter uselessness:

“The crash, at about 10am GMT, caused Amazon customers to complain about not being able to play festive songs, turn on their living room lights or get cooking instructions for Christmas dinner.”

Yes, throughout Europe no-one expanding until the surplus flesh consumed their sofa was able to put on the radio, recognize a light-switch and grasp its primary functions, or stick a fucking turkey in the oven with a fistful of packet stuffing and some cranberries up its arse.

Not without their little virtual assistant, whose circuits had become overloaded owing to the population of Alexas now exceeding that of the entire useless human race, reduced to complete helplessness as this little fucker cheerfully plays ‘We Built This City on Sausage Rolls’, this year’s Number One hit in Britain (yes, thanks to Brexit we have gone collectively crazy), while secretly sending messages back home to the big computer that works out what to sell you next, because you’re so glutted with stuff you no longer know what you want or need or are good for, financially. But that’s okay, here, have some more credit.)

I have tried not sneering at friends and relations who admit, with a little wiggle of shame and some suspicious coloration of the cheeks, that in their innocence and confusion they have already acquired one of these pernicious advertising devices, without realizing that this little tabletop fucker reports every fart, groan of pleasure or expression of disgust for the TV Christmas schedules back to its masters in California, even when it’s off.

But that’s okay, because it’s so useful to have a personal thing that can tell you to take an umbrella out in case those big lumpy gray things up there in the sky might contain water that could fall down and ruin your hair extensions.

You might want to look over on The Guardian website this morning, Boxing Day, and read about Amazon executives collaborating with the US security service in designing new systems for surveillance, and pause for a moment to wonder if there might be a connection?

Amazon and its evil owner, baldy Jeff Bezos, the world’s second-richest 1970s Dr Who villain, have enslaved the workforce everywhere, turning desperate workplace drones into abysmally paid bio-automata strapped to timing and management devices; having to pee in bottles to avoid sanctions for timing-out.

They’re doing the same to you in your home. You think Alexa is the robot? Think again. It’s you.

Already we’ve had the first instance of an Alexa advising its owner to kill his mother-in-law. A survey by NBC TV showed that 20% of Alexa owners ask for advice on boiling an egg.

I’m having none of it, myself. I can switch on my own light, thanks.

When I can afford it.

“We’ve got another one coming in, says he’s the Home Secretary and he’s missed his flight.” (Photo BBC/Lewis Morris)

Christmas is so over!

Speaking of selling us things, isn’t it just excessively aggravating on Boxing Day* to get a continuous trickle of pleading emails from retailers who spent £millions on trying to sell you stuff at bargain prices BEFORE Christmas, still pathetically wheedling the day after that it’s not too late to reconsider your decision not to buy anything from them, now that prices are even more affordable?

I accept that people have to make a living somehow. However, if you have ever visited parts of the world like Cairo or Marrakesh or New Delhi, you will know the misery of being constantly pursued through the bazaar by packs of barefoot street-Arabs with their grimy hands out, pleading for baksheesh; while indigent and portly carpet salesmen grasp at your clothing and try to hustle you into the Stygian gloom of their overstocked emporia, smelling badly of goats.

It’s all just a bit… undignified?

I have a modest proposal: ban all internet advertising on 26 December.

Just calm down, dears. Accept it:

It’s over.

*(for Americans, the day after Happy Holiday was when tradesmen in olden days would go around collecting small gratuities from their regular customers for the staff Christmas Box. It was in the days when shops used to deliv… er…, right.)

 

(Guitar bore alert)

Getting the Lowdown

And talking of dogs, the little cat, Cats, has instantaneously developed a relationship with my new guitar. What is that about?

I wrote a few days ago about how I dropped a chair on my old Taylor. I was being facetious, I didn’t ‘drop’ it exactly, the desk chair tipped over as I stood up painfully to pee (catchup: I pee by painful contraction into a bag attached to my leg, in some ways it’s quite handy) and the guitar was on its stand behind me where I can reach it easily, and the back of the chair… it’s a bit horrible to relate, actually.

Anyway, for some reason the price of guitars has crept up and up in recent years, it’s like the guitar industry is competing to see who can charge the most for a chunk of wood, a stick, some gloss paint and some wires. You’ll be expected to pay six or seven grand even for a solid-body Gibson Les Paul Custom ’59 these days. They only make thousands a year and they still haven’t conquered the neck-straining weight problem.

So I had to pitch the insurance company to cough up £500 more than I paid for the guitar three years ago, as that is the price of a new one today, if you can find one – the world of luthiery moves on. With their blessing, I took the opportunity to upgrade, and paid the difference to acquire at last one of the many guitars of my dreams – a Lowden.

This would be, I thought, a rare and fabulous thing, an instrument made and blessed by the great George Lowden himself – until the shop I bought it from followed yesterday morning’s exciting delivery with an email offering me a choice of 59 more they have in stock, just to remind me of how very not special I am; as if I haven’t spent my life knowing it.

It makes for well over 100 I have now found online

After scouring the internet for one I could afford, I now realize George is in the business of cashing in on his reputation for excellence by flooding the market with mass-manufactured guitars, albeit ‘hand-crafted’, which will undoubtedly affect the resale value should I ever need to sell it – which I usually do as I’m always running out of money.

My appreciation of the fabulous tone and sheer playability of my new Lowden, that are not really in doubt; my desire not to resell it, to hang on to it at all costs, has become sullied by mere commercial considerations. Happy New Year, George.

But Cats has no such apprehensions. Never a lap-cat, the moment I took it from its case and started appreciatively strumming a chord I know, she jumped up on the sofa beside me and tried to get onto my lap, pawing at me with a strange light in her eye. Fearful of another accident, I took the guitar back to its case and lovingly replaced it – it’s still a tight fit.

And since then I find her sitting speculatively on the lid of the case, which for reasons of space is lying flat across the arms of the armchair I never sit in, in the corner behind the door.

It could be the mildly pungent, not unpleasant smell of the new wood, the cedar and the rosewood, the mahogany, the varnish, combining to create a sort of musical catnip, I don’t know.

Whatever the reason, I got up late this morning and there was no sign of Cats, who often breakfasts at several houses across the dangerous road before trotting home to breakfast at hers.

I worry when she isn’t there by the time I’m dressed, she has a magical ability to sense from wherever she is in her world that I’m up and about and ready to feed her, and comes hurtling in through the bathroom window. She has invented a game where she stops on every step going downstairs, and I have to pretend to tread on her squidgily. One day she’ll break my neck; a fitting end, I sometimes think. But not today.

Anyway, coffee made and cooling, after carefully washing my hands I take out the guitar and start to play through the circle of fourths, whatever, and moments later as if by magic Cats appears in the doorway, a little barrel-shaped audience of one. Over in the corner, Hunzi balefully ignores us, the only things standing between him and his morning walk.

Patiently putting the guitar away again, together we go in the kitchen and open another packet of catfood and, as usual, she looks at me pityingly, as if to say, is this muck the best you can do? I get Beluga catviar across the street; and stalks off, tail twitching provocatively.

I guess if I serenade her, she’ll come back to finish it.

Little flirt.

 

And the Lowdown on Persuasion

An article in The Guardian by George Monbiot warning us of the dangers of advertising, as if Vance Packard hadn’t done that fifty years ago, offers a possible explanation for the seeming idiocy of offering me 59 more guitars, many like the one I just spent a barely affordable fortune on the previous day but several seductively planted among them, that cost twice as much.

It’s called ‘FOMO’, Fear Of Missing Out, and it’s a psychological technique designed to plant in my brain the worry that if I weren’t so inadequate I might have done even better, which will linger for months or years until I dissolve into a puddle of angst that my brilliant Lowden guitar is maybe not quite the best thing since hot buttered toast, and round we go again.

But George, that’s half the fun!

 

Oh, shit

Thinking of The Hidden Persuaders, there were two other seminal books warning us of the choppy seas our civilization was heading into, that came out at about the same time in the 1960s and early 70s.

Rachel Carson in Silent Spring drew our attention to the fact that the agrochemical industry was poisoning our world and shredding the web of life. EF Schumacher proposed a theory of Green economics, Small is Beautiful: ‘As if people mattered.’

Totally prescient, spot-on, and we’ve paid no attention whatsoever, and now thanks to neoliberal capitalism and the cult of the shareholder we’re in the shit up to our desperately pleading eyeballs.

 

Another unwanted pres(id)ent

The Pumpkin writes:

Mr Trump and the First Lady, who seems to have had a payrise recently as she no longer looks so miserable whenever she has to be in the same room as her everloving faithful-to-other-women hubby, descended with little notice on a Marine base in Iraq for festive selfies and another astonishing outburst of self-aggrandizement aimed at keeping his dumbfuck voter base happy while Mueller tightens the noose.

Not only did the gurning orange lunatic insist on posing for the White House TV channel with a supposedly clandestine bunch of Navy SEALs, completely uncensored, easily identified by unit and not even pixellated – thanks for the gross breach of normal security protocols, that could get them killed – claiming modestly that only since he became President has IS been defeated, which everyone is trying to tell him it hasn’t been – but he also told the assembled grunts that thanks to his persuasive charm they’d be getting a 10% – no, make it more! – payrise, the first raise they’ll have had in ten years!

Except that according to the fact-checkers they’ve had a payrise averaging 1.8% every year for the past thirty years, and 2.6% voted through already for 2019….

He is totally shameless.

And as he was terrified of leaving the security of the US base (not for himself, you understand, but for the safety of the First Lady – a creature made from sharpened iron nails, unlike ‘President Bone Spurs*) – the Iraqi Prime Minister refused to meet him on the grounds that visiting a US military base at Christmas was not a good look; while various local warlords, unaware of the visit in advance, are hopping up and down, threatening to throw the Yankee imperialists out of their country.

Well done, Donald, you and your gut sure know how to conduct foreign policy.

*As you know, back in the 1970s a chiropodist got him a draft deferment on grounds that he was afflicted with bone spurs on his feet. TYT has just reported, the late doctor’s daughters have confirmed that he had told them many times how Donald’s dad had paid him to make the diagnosis up.)

x

Norman invasion

French toll-roads operator Vinci has bought a controlling stake in Gatwick airport for £2.9 billion, adding to their collection of 46 airports around Europe, from the American investment fund owners, GIP, who appear to have lost on the deal as they’ve spent £2.9 billion over 10 years just on redecorating.

The deal comes as something of a disappointment to your Uncle Bogler, too, who has been suggesting for some time – ever since Boris Johnson as Mayor of London thought of creating an island in the Thames to get round the problem of where to site Heathrow’s third runway –  that Britain could lease a part of the otherwise pretty much useless but temptingly flat Pas de Calais to build another airport for London, only 90 minutes away by Eurostar train.

Too late now. Instead, we have another French company owning a major capital asset in the south of England, and Paris gets its sixth airport. Welcome to post-Brexit Europe.

UB sees too that Vinci owns Lyon St Exupèry, where he had one of the weirdest experiences of his life, having to persuade the staff to call out an engineer at 2 a.m. to free his mobile phone from a charging booth, only to realize with a frisson of horror that his (identical) phone was still in his pocket, and spending the rest of the night hiding under an overpass until his flight was called….

 

The 2019 Pointless Endeavor Award goes to M. Jean-Jacques Savin, a 71-year-old Frenchman and former paratrooper, who has set off in a bid to become the first person to float freely across the Atlantic in a ten-foot wooden barrel.

One off the bucket-list.

 

GW: Roasting Matilda

Australia: A “Christmas heatwave continues to sweep across the country, with a near record-breaking 49C (120F) forecast for Western Australia, and fire danger, health and air quality warnings issued across the nation. By 8.40am on Thursday (20 Dec) Marble Bar had already recorded 43.4C, with the worst of the heat to come. It later hit 49.3C. Temperatures in the south are 10C to 14C higher than average, the bureau said on Wednesday.” (BBC News) “Catastrophic” fire conditions are anticipated as winds pick up.

And who would want to live in…

USA: “Two powerful winter storms were moving across the country Friday, one bringing blizzard conditions to the northern Plains and Upper Midwest and a second spreading heavy snow from Arizona to the Texas Panhandle. The heaviest snowfall is likely in central and eastern New Mexico, with up to 2 feet in the highest terrain. Strong winds will accompany the snowfall, bringing the possibility of blizzard conditions.” 2 dead.

“In the Southeast, as of late Thursday almost 50 million people were under flood watches. Widespread rainfall, locally heavy at times, will continue to spread north and eastward from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Mid-Atlantic. Flooding and flash flooding will be a threat throughout Friday.

Saturday: Rain and thunderstorms are drenching areas from the northern Gulf Coast to the eastern Carolinas. Clara, Mississippi, recorded 11.5 inches of rainfall. (The Weather Channel) Six eastern states had their wettest-ever year, Mount Mitchell in North Carolina receiving just on 140 cm, 55 in. Climate change? Meteorologist Bob Henson writes: “…rainfall amounts in some places were larger than anything produced by natural variability in the last hundred-plus years.”

“Severe thunderstorms that could spawn tornadoes were also forecast in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and western Tennessee late Thursday. Storms were also possible for parts of Iowa, western Illinois and northern Missouri. (from USA Today)

“Stanford Earth System Science Professor Noah Diffenbaugh stated that atmospheric conditions for California wildfires are expected to worsen in the future because of the effects of climate change.” Wikipedia concludes: “The 2018 wildfire season (was) the most destructive and deadly wildfire season on record in California, with a total of 8,527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres (766,439 ha).” Human cost: 98 civilians, 6 firefighters. (USA Today)

A report in Scientific American proposes that there have been two civilization-ending ‘megadroughts’ in the West and northern Mexico in the past 1200 years, and the past 19 years suggests that a third is in progress. The region has warmed by 1.5 degrees in the past 120 years and the resulting increase in transpiration means what rainfall there is has less effect in the soil – a classic feedback loop.

The Philippines: “More than 60 people have died after a powerful storm struck the Philippines (29 Dec.), with locals reportedly taken by surprise by its strength. Storm Usman hit the Bicol region southeast of capital Manila on Saturday”, triggering landslides. “At least 17 people are missing and the death toll is expected to rise.” (BBC) More than 40 thousand people have been displaced by flooding.

Indonesia: “The death toll from a landslide that crashed into a hilly village on Indonesia’s main island of Java has risen to 15 after rescuers found 6 more bodies buried in the mud on Tuesday.” (Guardian) 30 houses were buried. “Seasonal rains” have triggered dozens of landslips and caused extensive flooding.

Iceland: Against the average daytime temperature at this time of year of 36F, 2C, Reykjavik yesterday was enjoying a balmy 48F, 9C. Many people in parts of Canada are also complaining that it’s still up in the 50s. It’s been mild here in the west of the UK too, under a gray blanket of cloud we haven’t seen the sun since the day before Christmas Eve.

Observing the isobars over the shoulder of the BBC Weather presenter, Louise Lear, as she summarises the prospects for the New Year week ahead, what they are clearly not talking about are the atmospheric rivers streaming up into the Arctic, and the intense lows – three of them – pushing warm water and high waves up past Greenland. What used to be an east>west flow of winds now seems almost permanently south>north; as evidenced by the relentless storm pattern in the eastern US – while a view of the circumpolar jetstream, presented in a voice betraying no alarm or even curiosity, shows it forming huge, lazy southward loops and breaks betokening even greater weather contrasts and stormy arctic conditions for the eastern USA.

Europe: A powerful cyclone is bringing very windy conditions and high waves to Finland and the Baltic states. The storm has been cited as the probable cause of a railway accident in Denmark that killed 6. More significantly, a ‘Sudden Stratospheric Warming’ event up in the polar region in which temperatures in the  frigid upper atmosphere may rise 60C above normal in a few days is likely to cause a lengthy spell of very cold weather in northern Europe and a warming trend in the Arctic from about the third week in January. (Severe-weather.eu).

And…

Yellowstone: The Steamboat geyser (biggest in the park) – The Blessed Mary Greeley reports eruption number 32 since March, on Christmas Day; crowning an excessively active year. The previous record year saw 29 in 1964; however most years get only two or three and several in the record none at all.

Cartoon of the Year

An unwanted present… We are the rulers of the Queen’s na-vee… Internetanyahoos… Pal Joey… Head in the sand… GW: ‘I’ve got my hoodie to keep me warm’… Conservation news.

A Merry Xmas to all our reader.

An unwanted present

Wearing my house slippers, I took some bread out to the bird table for their Xmas brunch and the opportunity to slip a belated card through my neighbour’s door. Feeling a squishy moment underfoot, I looked down and realized that I had stepped in a present her little dog had left in my front garden.

Slightly fuck Christmas.

And a Merry Christmas to everyone. Donald and Ivanka. Melania.

 

Democracy inaction

“This rat-infested, weevil-ridden government, this coffin-ship of benighted fools is intolerably odious. It must be sunk, without trace.”

“We are the rulers of the Queen’s na-vee” (after G&S)

“When Raquel Rolnik, the UN’s special rapporteur on housing, called on the Government to rethink the ‘bedroom tax’, arguing that it eroded the right to adequate housing, the then housing minister Kris Hopkins labelled her report a ‘misleading Marxist diatribe’.”

The callousness and refusal to face facts of the present government is surely shown in no harsher light than in its mendacious and diffident responses to successive reports by United Nations rapporteurs on the effects of its social policies, that amount to an egregious breach of the basic ‘human rights’ of British citizens to decent treatment and a roof over their heads.

Every international advisory report is projected by ministers as a spiritual attack on British values; every inconvenient expert opinion politicized as the work of ignorant, external enemies – untutored foreigners – bent on undermining ‘our way of life’. But, of course, they also choose to rubbish expert reports from our own institutions as well, when it suits them; flat-out denying what is staring the rest of us in the face. Expediency being the name of the game.

When Professor Philip Alston ended his two-week fact-finding mission in November by accusing the government of inflicting ‘great misery’ on its people with ‘punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous’ policies, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd “used her first appearance following her return to frontline politics last week to attack a UN inquiry into poverty in the UK for its ‘extraordinarily political nature’.”

As if hunger, homelessness, mental illness and a rising suicide rate are fit subjects for political grandstanding. What else is Government for, Ms Rudd, other than reducing its citizens to a state of abject deprivation?

These excerpts are taken from an article on the Open Democracy website today, 12 December, by civil rights lawyer Michael Keller; who points out that, despite our treaty commitments, the UN’s view of what constitutes a proper compact between the State and its citizens is legally unenforceable in the face of an intractable and intransigent administration determined to redistribute wealth to the richest section of society at the cost of its poorest.

As we prepare incompetently to quit the European Union, in breach of our longstanding commitments to our allies and trading partners, and cast off into the big wide world on our own again, the BogPo is reminded of the appalling conditions and brutal regime imposed on sailors of the early 19th century by a lofty and overbearing naval officer class; where even a 12-year-old junior ensign held almost unlimited power over the ordinary able seaman.

Not even the disabled escape. “In 2016 when the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Disabled Persons found that the government was guilty of ‘grave and systematic violations’ of disabled people’s rights, the government responded by refuting the committee’s findings and its ‘offensive’ view of disability’.”

What, a view that says disabled people deserve fair treatment? Offensive? This rat-infested, weevil-ridden government, this coffin-ship of benighted fools is intolerably odious. It must be sunk, quickly and without trace.

The problem, according to Keller, is that while other rights are relatively easy to pin down, a generalized ‘socioeconomic’ right to a decent life is nebulous and without legal definition. “While the Government continues to pay lip service to its treaty commitments, any criticism based on socioeconomic rights will be branded ‘too’ ideological or political.”

It all comes down to the conflict between “human rights’ commitment to individual freedom … (and) neoliberalism’s commitment to the market, property rights and suspicion of the State.”

There is nothing that will shame these comfortable and complacent bilge-rats of the neoliberal wing of the Conservative tendency into adopting an even remotely compassionate policy towards the sick, the old, the disabled, the workless, the mentally fragile, the homeless, the refugee and the poor. Every crutch is to be kicked away; every social service bled white; every ‘assessment’ rigged, every minor infraction of the Byzantine rulebook harshly sanctioned, every minority minimised, nothing let to go unprivatized, in favour of the more convenient Protestant work ethic.

These layabouts and scroungers must work, work, work and work yet more for the good of the stockjobbers, the bond traders, the hedge fund managers, the investment bankers, the IFAs, the bent global accountancy firms propping up organized crime, the estate agents and the commodities brokers – the whole money-breathing cartel.

Wheelchairs? Mental health facilities? Meals-on-wheels? Decent, properly run care homes? Schools with roofs, that foster learning? Functioning hospitals and reliable, affordable public transport? Affordable homes and loans?

Fuck ’em.

‘Arbeit macht frei’, as the Germans put it – over the gates of Auschwitz.

Work for your freedom. Or die in the process.

We don’t actually care.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/mickey-keller/in-fight-against-austerity-human-rights-is-not-answer?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=2c9a0c5f0a-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-2c9a0c5f0a-408090269

 

“And there’s this little switch you flick to turn it on…”

Internetanyahoos

Calling for widespread revenge on a Palestinian who shot dead two Israeli soldiers, the son of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing-down potential corruption charges, has been temporarily banned from Facebook after a series of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian posts the social network said broke its rules on hate speech.

This deeply unpleasant, gormless little racist fucker, the overprivileged, overentitled son of the mafia sockpuppet, has been kicked off Facebook – for just 24 hours!

“A Facebook spokesperson said: ‘Yair Netanyahu posted several posts which included hate speech – this clearly violates our community standards. Due to that, this content was removed from our platform, as we would do for anyone posting similar content about any protected characteristic. Following this, Yair Netanyahu decided to share a screenshot of a removed post and called people to share it – which is the same as writing the hate speech all over again’.” (Guardian)

Meanwhile 1.5 million Palestinians, whose past generations from AD 70 until 1947 were the majority Semitic population of Israel and whose rights are supposedly protected under the founding constitution, continue to barely exist in the blockaded Gaza ghetto, dying from a shortage of medical supplies and economic opportunity.

Not to mention from the frequent punitive Heydrich-inspired* incursions by the overwhelmingly superior Israel military, arrogantly heedless of the charges of war crimes their abuses provoke from an enfeebled UN, that greet their paltry acts of resistance. The United States is complicit in so much hideous brutality.

Personally speaking, I am just sick of this. It began in the year before I was born and still there is no resolution to it. I’m well aware of the history. But it’s none of my business, I’m not Jewish.

Fuck that. I don’t care what names you call me.

Seven THOUSAND Palestinians have been shot and wounded by Israeli border forces in the name of ‘security’, using live ammunition against unarmed teenagers staging mostly peaceful or stone-throwing protests from behind the barbed-wire fences separating them from settler territory – open farmland. More than 200 have been murdered; many seized by Israeli snatch-squads and disappeared into the system. 70 per cent of Under-25s in Gaza are unemployed. The suicide rate is devastating.

Yet far from all of them are supporters of the more belligerent wing of the democratically elected governing party, Hamas; branded for political reasons as a ‘terrorist’ organization..

For some reason, a substantial section of the Israeli population – not all – have decide that the Holocaust did not enhance their claim to humanity.

Palestinians just think they deserve the same chance at life as you do, and prefer not to be blown to bits periodically by a bunch of cowardly racist bullies in Tel Aviv with overwhelming force at their disposal and connections to the Russian mafia, who have learned their brutal politics of repression from Putin in Chechnya and, before him, the Nazis in Poland.

This situation will continue as long as dumbfucks in America go on imagining that it is the Palestinians who are the terrorists and the Israeli occupiers the tragic heroes. And that Trump’s admiration for the genocidal C19th president, Andrew Jackson is somehow laudable. I’m afraid just being white doesn’t cut it.

The UN for decades has passed resolution after insouciantly ignored resolution attempting to regularize the situation. But when the crook, Netanyahu can moan about Australia recognizing Israeli West, and not Palestinian East, Jerusalem as the de facto capital of Israel – something all Christians should be shouting about – as the fatuous and ignorant oaf Trump has done, to please his slimy little plastic son-in-law Kushner and the millennarian Evangelical dumbfucks, a tickle on the wrist from Zuckerberg’s underwhelming ethics department is calculated to do absolutely nothing to halt the ongoing crime against humanity that is the Gaza ghetto.

Sorry, and all that.

*So, here I mentioned Reinhard Heydrich, the “Butcher of Prague”, just once in the aforegoing text, and lo! A documentary film about him has just popped up in the suggestions sidebar on YouTube. Do we think this is just coincidence? Of all the murderous Nazi gauleiters in all the web pages in all the world, he has to walk into mine…

 

Brexit, the Movie…

“Sandra Bullock plays a lone mother with two young children, battling an unseen force which compels you to kill yourself if you see it.” (Guardian Culture review)

 

Pal Joey

I’m most impressed.

For some unaccountable reason, four people in the past 24 hours have been visiting a long-running Page I began Posting about six years ago, cataloguing my jazz CD collection in as much technical detail as I can manage. (I haven’t Posted anything to Pages in a month of Sundays, so how people are attracted to them I don’t understand.)

Even I have trouble finding it, buried away in the mountain of solipsistic verbiage that is The Boglington Post‘s 7-year archive.

But I do try to keep the listings up to date. I have about 400 jazz CDs now, my limited shelf space has run out and they’ve started to occupy boxes on the floor, always a bad sign. As nothing, compared to an astrophysicist I vaguely know, whose entire downstairs floorspace is covered with stacked boxes 3-ft high of his jazz CDs. Then, he’s not living on the State pension.

I seldom even play them, other than the most recent, that might get the odd repeat run-through. The idea was to transfer them to my li’l laptop for portability and convenience, which I was doing steadily until I lost my cool one day and beat it to death with my great clunking fist. They can be annoying, laptops. But the new one has no CD-tray; they’ve gone out of vogue. So I had to start again, but by a more circuitous route, and I’m not bothering – it’s technical.

And in recent months I’ve pretty much stopped ordering CDs, my Kenny Wheeler phase having drawn to a satiated conclusion. I tend nowadays more to browse for my jazz listening pleasure on YouTube, where great variety if no sound quality is to be found.

Until last night when, having discovered the extraordinary pianist Joey Alexander, and listened raptly to him all evening, I flipped and ordered two of his CDs from up the Amazon. Do you know him?

He’s the 15-year-old kid from Bali who turned professional at the age of 10. And, to be honest, I think he was the better player then.

You see, most ‘awesome’ child prodigies on YouTube are the victims of pushy parents or have just superficial talents that can be spun into a short, compelling narrative and promoted to their five minutes of fame as lucrative clickbait. Joey is definitely not one of those ‘X-Factor contestant’, one-shot wonders. No Sir.

Aside from his self-taught mastery of pianistic technique, which is widely acknowledged, his jazz ‘chops’ are such that grown musicians are visibly in awe of him. His improvisational skills, ability to build compelling solos, knowledge of form and structure, maturity of touch and feeling, his exciting chord logic and every other area of his playing – even his unbelievably deep knowledge of the jazz genre – are positively surreal, in a swotty-looking little kid with a lopsided grin and Harry Potter specs.

By 12 he had already been nominated for two Grammy awards, performed by invitation at the White House for the Obamas, given concerts at the Lincoln Centre and at the top festivals around the world. His ridiculously young age – usefully he has unusually large hands for a child – has never seemingly been a barrier to his career. And it is in every sense, a proper musical career.

He has played with many of the stars of the jazz world, who are won over in the first few seconds by his infectious charm, confidence and seemingly instinctive professionalism, whether on stage or in the recording studio, and give their all for him; humbly accepting his musical leadership. They know what they’ve got. People have likened him to Mozart; although his compositions are really nothing compared with the genius of Leipzig, who composed his first symphony at the age of six – the age when Joey first sat down at a piano.

Perhaps the only fly in the ointment will be that, as he grows up – he is 15 now – he will grow into another jazz musician: brilliant, exceptional, even ground-breaking; but nevertheless no longer having the status and curiosity value of a prodigy. The world is often not kind to ex-child prodigies. He will need good and careful management to guide where he goes next.

Who could resist chucking another £25 at his recording company, anyway?

Everything confuses me nowadays. It probably helps to be 10, rather than pushing 70. So much more certainty!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plTPRr7B4ns “Over the Rainbow” – Joey, age 10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1liUart72g “Over the Rainbow” – Later, maybe age 12?

 

Head in the sand

A newly discovered, but already endangered creature with a burrowing habit, resembling a miniature slow worm, has been officially named after Donald Trump.

What the poor thing has done to deserve the name Dermophis donaldtrumpi, The BogPo shudders to think. One can only hope it may survive the coming extinction to evolve into something better.

“The name was chosen by the boss of a sustainable building materials company, who paid $25,000 at an auction (in aid of the Rainforest Trust) for the right. The small legless creature was found in Panama and EnviroBuild’s Aidan Bell said its ability to bury its head in the ground matched Donald Trump’s approach to global warming. (Guardian Green Light)

Given that the Abominable No-man just called for a court to investigate the long-running Saturday Night Live TV satire show on grounds he believes it to be a Democrat party-funded plot against him, I doubt he will see the amusing side, or even – as most of us might, however ghastly – be flattered to be immortalised in this way.

Paranoiacs are never satisfied.

 

For a tolerably amusing SNL Cold Open skit on the UK’s most popular Xmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Trump”….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdQl7SxOHek

 

I’m just watching alumni of UCL and Reading University competing in a semifinal round of University Challenge. And wondering how it is that I seem to be able to answer twice as many questions in less time than these now well-paid professionals in their fields? Gven that I never managed to get into a University?

 

GW: ‘I’ve got my hoodie to keep me warm’

India: 120 k/h “Cyclone Phethai, which made landfall on Monday afternoon, caused havoc for the people along the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. The cyclone, which was accompanied by strong and gusty winds, has resulted in heavy showers across the state and claimed two lives.” 11,600 people were evacuated as their houses are yet to be repaired after Cyclone Titli in October. There is another cyclonic circulation over the Bay of Bengal moving northwestward that may pose another threat for southern India.

“One occurrence that seemingly amused people was a strange phenomenon, which locals are calling ‘fish rain’, that happened after the cyclone. A video that has been going viral on social media shows several fishes either dead or thrashing about in the puddles formed after the rains.” (The News Minute/Al Jazeera)

Phethai is the 7th named storm of the 2018 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, the most active since 1992. (The Watchers)

Tropical Cyclone Kenanga is 800 miles SW of Diego Garcia in the southern Indian Ocean, and close by is Tropical Cyclone Cilida, that has rapidly intensified from the Invest 92S GW reported two days ago to reach the verge of a rare 150 mph Cat 5. Neither looks like making landfall anywhere soon.

Australia: “A cyclone that was predicted to wreak havoc across Queensland has been downgraded to a tropical low, after unleashing 17cm (6.6in) of rain in two hours across the north of the state. “Halifax (near Ingham) received 681mm of rain in 24 hours” – records were broken. Winds reached 170 K/h. One person was drowned. Authorities warn that Cyclone Owen could still re-form offshore on Monday. Severe weather and flood warnings are in place.” (BBC/Floodlist)

The town of Woy Woy in New South Wales is trashed by chunks of ice the size of “tennis balls” (BBC) The repair bill for damage caused by the “catastrophic” hailstorm that struck Sydney and other parts of NSW on Thursday is expected to exceed AU $125m. Insurance company stocks plummeted on the news. The Bureau of Meteorology called it the “worst hailstorm in 20 years.” Meanwhile Brisbane is sweltering through a 36 deg. C heatwave. (Guardian)

Thailand: Heavy rain between 16 and 18 December caused flooding in several southern provinces. Local media report that 1 person died and 1 is missing. Flooding and heavy rain affected 377 villages across 17 districts in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. Soldiers and rescue workers carried out evacuations in Muang district. Schools have been closed in affected areas.” (from: Floodlist)

USA: A heavy snowstorm swept through US south-eastern states, killing at least three people and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. A state of emergency was declared in North Carolina, with some areas reporting as much as 0.5m (18.5ins) of snow over the weekend. One man died after a tree fell on his car. A search is under way for a driver whose vehicle was found in a river. Thousands of flights were also cancelled across the region. (BBC)

Another powerful storm hit Seattle on the west coast, bringing several inches of snow and knocking out powr to 300 thousand homes.

A warning of potentially deadly surf has gone out along the entire California coastline and up as far as Washington State, pushed by a succession of powerful storms out in the Pacific. Harbors have been closed. National Weather Service warned breaking wave heights could reach 40 feet, affecting beach parking lots and walkways. It could also lead to beach erosion and damage to coastal structures, the NWS warned. (The Weather Channel)

Wunderground reports, Dr. James Elsner of Florida State University finding an increase in the destructive power of U.S. tornadoes averaging 5.5% per year since 1994. Although annual numbers have remained constant, they’re getting bigger and lasting longer.

Bolivia: “Heavy rain and a severe storm caused serious damage to homes and power supply in the town of Mayaya in La Paz Department on 13 Dec. Parts of Larecaja province saw further heavy rain during the following days. Local media reported  flash floods in Larecaja Province between 17 and 18 December. (Floodlist)

UK: Storm Deirdre brought rain, ice and several inches of snow to the north and parts of Scotland at the weekend, with gale-force winds affecting most of the west coast. Homes were without power in Wales and fallen trees blocked icy roads.

Not much COP

Poland: As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise alarmingly across the globe, the extended UN COP24 climate conference in the Katowice coal-mining district packed its tents on Sunday, as 10 thousand weary delegates flew home following the signing of a toothless, watered-down commitment by global governments to provide more ‘transparency’ on carbon emissions, in line with the already out-of-date, 3-years-old, ‘1.5 degrees’ Paris accord.

Yellowstone: the Blessed Mary Greeley records that the Steamboat geyser, largest in the park, has erupted for the 31st time this year. In a normal year you might see two or three eruptions. She is also reporting hugely increased groundlift and a large volume of magma getting closer to the surface. Could be an interesting Christmas.

Emissions: Largely ignored by COP delegates and governments alike, methane continues to pour out of the Arctic from the twin sources of thawing permafrost and seabed clathrates. Arctic-News reports levels on 09 Dec. as high as 3050 ppb. The El Niño event identified a few months ago continues to slowly intensify, with sea surface temperature anomalies up to 10C above baseline in the Atlantic. At the South Pole – height of summer – it’s about 10C to 15C warmer today, 19 Dec, than even the warming average over the past 18 years.

Promotions: In a shakeup following the departure of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, under investigation on 17 counts of ethics violations, the department has been handed on to Zinke cronies: Deputy Secretary Bernhardt, a former oil industry lobbyist, who has appointed a former employee of agrichemical giant Monsanto to head the bureau of Fish and Wildlife. The service has already re-permitted the use of a banned bee-killing pesticide, made by….

With coal-industry lobbyist Andrew “sixteen” Wheeler at the helm of the EPA, your Auld Gran is evermore convinced Trump’s presidency is just one gigantic pisstake. He hates America because they laugh at his absurd combover, that he can’t take out in the rain. This is his revenge.

Conservation: A new study by marine biologists at Dalhousie University in Canada reveals that fish are worse off owing to unlicensed trawling inside Europe’s Marine Protection Areas (MPAs) than in the areas outside. “99% of the MPAs had no information on no-take zones … and half had no management plan.”

Meanwhile, Japan has reportedly withdrawn from the International Whaling Convention and proposes to resume unrestricted commercial whaling.

The sooner the human race is extinct, the better.

 

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

Thought for the Day

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

 

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

The deaths of small towns

(A message to Brexit boobies)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait, there’s more….

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

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

You think they care?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by

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

Who knew?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And 9.00 am and Tuesdays always pass me by.

Postscriptum: the outcome

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

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

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

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

 

Something’s got to give

Do you want the good news, or the bad?

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

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

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

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

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

Something has to give, and soon.

 

Hallelujah chorus

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

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

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

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

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

As Diana Cariboni writes on Open Democracy:

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

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

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

Welcome to Evangelical Disneyland.

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

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

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

But it’s coming our way.

Alle fuckin’ lujah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 It’s all blowing off

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

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

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

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

Just so you know.

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

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

 Endispeace

Trust us to lead you

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

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

Google of course has nothing to do with iPhones.

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

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

And that’s God’s honest truth.

The BogPo – Right is might… Dead Man’s Shoes… Everything’s comin’ up Rosas… Has the age of the bendy-men arrived?…GW: Joinin’ the dots, drawin’ the lines and goin’ round in circles… Make hay while the sun… er…

“Does no-one understand, an offence has been committed?”

Right is might

Hi. Now, if I or anyone else – you, possibly – were to tweet, not that I can, I don’t have a twitter account, but if I did – or were to write, or say stuff publicly about the Prime Minister or anyone else, like this:

“Pro-Brexit MPs told weekend newspapers that Mrs May’s Brexit plans meant she was about to enter the “killing zone”, and advised her to “bring her own noose” to a showdown with Tory backbenchers later this week.

“One told the Sunday Times: “The moment is coming when the knife gets heated, stuck in her front and twisted. She’ll be dead soon.”

…the police would be informed, an inquiry would be launched and the culprit – you or me or the Syrians next door – hauled into a small, airless room without our belt, shoelaces and tie, and grilled for five or six hours about our sexual orientation and which lodge we belong to, while anti-terrorist police raided our agreeable Knightsbridge second home and swiped our digital media devices looking for birthday cards from the Islamic State; before hopefully being dragged into the dock, accused of a terrorist offence or, at best, incitement to violence.

Does no-one understand, an offence has been committed?

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law”. (Wikipedia)

ADVOCACY. HATRED. INCITEMENT. VIOLENCE….

But because it was a Tory MP or maybe even a renegade traitor cabinet minister who uttered those threats, nothing is being done. And so low-sunken into unimaginative failure is the Prime Minister’s reputation, even the media isn’t calling for anything to be done about it. Nor, seemingly, is she. Yet, bizarrely, she is still polling well ahead of Jeremy Corbyn as the nation’s choice for PM.

How terrible must he be?

The hard-right, cliff-edge Brexit tendency, terrified of a popular reaction to the difficulty of negotiating an exit, in the wake of a protest by three quarters of a million people on Saturday, many of them over 50, has gone insane.

One can only surmise it is because they fear a threat to their long-held personal ambitions for power and money, which, let’s face it, was all this boring, fucking stupid referendum was ever about. It had nothing whatever to do with Europe, but was a simple equation: stagnant wages – immigration = sovereignty.

We’ve learned that the police have “identified” a drunken, middle-aged, pompous drone who hurled vile, racial abuse and invective for several minutes at an elderly black woman on a Ryanair flight from Barcelona, when her arthritis prevented her from standing up quickly enough for this obviously important individual to assume his natural window seat.

The incident was captured on camera and the filthy oaf will very probably face prosecution. Let’s hope so. We hope too that the other passengers, bar one, who were too gutless, racist or wasted to intervene will also be prosecuted. Surely the victim’s age and disability should have been enough to make anyone understand that an assault was taking place, that they were legally obliged to prevent?

The police could be bothered to do that. But it’s perfectly permissible for a Tory “Brexiteer” to make death threats, disappointed by whichever backstop on the Northern Ireland border issue he’s pissed off about, to utter death threats against the Prime Minister, as if they’d just cycled past security at the gates to Downing Street and were proposing to throw a bomb.

I don’t think so.

This Tory piece of filth, worth less than the dirt under your fingernails (as the majority are), self-interested, self-important and overprivileged by virtue of an easy birth, should be immediately identified to the DPP, hauled up before the bench and handed an exemplary five-year sentence, pour décourager des autres.

But it’s not going to happen, is it.

When it comes to busting toffs, the police haven’t got the money.

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Dead man’s shoes

A profoundly disturbing story has appeared in The Guardian and elsewhere today, 22 Oct, that one of the 15-man team sent from Riyadh to murder the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul was a “body double” who, after they’d dismembered their drugged but still-living victim, put on the dead man’s clothes and spectacles, donned a false beard and went walkabout.

As if the earlier details were not gruesome enough, we have this Aztec ritual for an aftermath!

This lookey-likey character, named as Mustafa al-Madani, was apparently nonchalantly wandering around all the famous tourist sites of Istanbul, making sure he was seen, after being caught on CCTV leaving the consulate where Khashoggi had just been tortured and murdered, in an attempt by the Saudis to convince the Turks that the dead man was not dead after all, but liveth.

The clown gave himself away, as clowns always do. He’d been filmed earlier entering the consulate with the rest of the assassins wearing a pair of trainers he was still clearly wearing when he left. We assume the dead man’s shoes wouldn’t fit.

Another “dead giveaway”, as it were, is that the real Khashoggi might not have forgotten that he had left his fiancee waiting across the street, outside the front of the building, while al-Madani scarpered out of the back and off to Taksim Square.

It’s also indicative that as President Erdogan milks the crime for all it’s worth, new CIA Director, Gina Haspel is reportedly on her way to Istanbul, presumably to bone-up on her favorite topic, the latest techniques for enhanced conversations.

Details like these have been piling up all week like Peleon on Mount Ossa, making the official Saudi statement admitting to Khashoggi’s “accidental” death in a punch-up while resisting questioning seem evermore desperate: panic-stricken and preposterous. If he died, then where’s the body? Even the British courts are starting to understand that the police shouldn’t get away with killing detainees; not every time.

That hasn’t stopped anyone in office who might have to take a decision to impose punitive “Magnitsky” sanctions on the Saudis from claiming that their storyline seems “credible”, or that we must “wait to see what the official investigation (by the Saudis themselves!) has to say.”

They’re all driven mad by the oil money, the defense contracts, the lavish hospitality and are willing just to run with the most believable proposition short of the truth and hope it all blows over soon and the media gets bored, before carrying on as normal.

Bull fucking shit, quite frankly.

 

Everything’s comin’ up Rosas

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m 70 years old next year and I watch Dr Who.

There, feel better for that.

Actually, there’s not a lot else on early Sunday evenings that offers a bit of harmless, mind-expanding, time-and-space adventure action with merchandizable fashionwear

It seems that after the first promisingly scary episode, this inaugural Jodie Whittaker season is going to be a tad didactic, focussing kids’ attentions on contemporary issues rather than murderous Daleks and Cybermen. What next, a tattoo parlor run by an evil alien, whose tattoos come alive at night? (Just guessin’.) A demented orange blob seizes control of the White House?

Last night we were treated to some fairly basic homilies on racism, as Jodie and her rainbow ragbag of regionally-accented assistants break down in the Tardis and find themselves up an alleyway in 1965 segregationist dystopia, Montgomery, Alabama; as it happens, on the day before the famous Rosa Parks incident, in which a tired, prim department-store seamstress refuses to give up her seat on a bus for a white man, mandatory under the Jim Crow laws, and is hauled off into history by the police. (She died in 2005, aged 92, heaped with honors).

Her protest sparked a year-long boycott of the city’s bus service and helped (along with MLK, who makes a cameo appearance here) to found the NAACP, that eventually gained the Civil Rights Act.

Given the sheer, high-minded unpleasantness of white Americans of the time, whoever they thought they were, smalltown nobodies, the show was added perhaps unnecessary extra spice by the presence of a menacing, time-travelling English neo-Nazi, a paroled convict from the 79th century sent back using some decidedly dodgy old technology to change the course of history; Jodie quickly figuring out that he didn’t have the power to actually harm anyone, but also having to engineer things so that Rosa found herself on the right bus at the right time.

I must confess, too, that I was quite profoundly moved by the whole thing, despite the clunky minor idiocies of the plot, almost entirely thanks to the wonderfully dignified performance of Vinette Robinson as Rosa.  Where I part company with the BBC is over their blurb for the program:

  • “She lived to be 92 and saw America change beyond recognition.”

I’m not sure I’m that optimistic, frankly.

A Trump victory in 2020, or even an increase in the Republican vote and Congressional representation this November could see the Confederate southland resurgently racist, segregation tactics and violence against colored people licensed once again. Hatred of the emancipated black man has never gone away. Black and ethnic minority citizens are seeing their votes suppressed by white supremacist administrations and complicit, intimidating police forces at the rate of thousands a day. It’s not great.

Trump has refused to condemn the neo-Nazis, although he is not one of them. He is not anything: a career criminal, a conman, a grifter, a superannuated playboy, a made-for-TV B-list celebrity; nothing more.

A shameless opportunist, he dimly perceives that white nativists are a significant source of support for his inadvertent, capricious, autocratic and thoroughly amateurish presidency. If he thought any differently, he might be in danger of making America great. But they’ve never been that.

Hopefully, Jodie and her defective old Tardis (“Oh, you’ve redecorated!”) will soon find their way to 2020 and return the alien-spawn Trump to whichever parallel universe of rancid ordure he came from.

 

Has the age of the bendy-men arrived?

The controversial technique of preserving the body known as ‘plastination’, developed in the 1970s by a weird German artist/scientist, Gunter von Hagens, involves replacing the contents of your cells with plastics. (I think it’s correct to say “plastics”, rather than plastic, which is more of an adjective; see also “ceramics”.)

Wikipedia explains that after conventional pickling and submersion in acetone (nail-polish remover!):

“In the third step, the specimen is then placed in a bath of liquid polymer, such as silicone rubber, polyester, or epoxy resin. By creating a vacuum, the acetone is made to boil at a low temperature. As the acetone vaporizes and leaves the cells, it draws the liquid polymer in behind it, leaving a cell filled with liquid plastic.”

Which is then hardened by exposure to ultraviolet light. Von Hagens caused a public sensation when he first began to display, not just bodies, but the entire fascinating vascular and nervous networks of his subjects, animal and human, stripped of flesh and bone, in a contemporary arts setting rather than a biology lecture theatre. Many people still find it gruesome and exploitative, but we’re getting used to that in the living too; especially in America.

It seems now, however, that he needn’t have bothered going to all that trouble: latest research shows we’re pretty much made of plastics already. All those microfibres shed from our polyester sweaters and the nanoparticles of biodegrading Tesco bags in the sea are rapidly rising up through the food chain to become part of ourselves; as in the expression, “You are what you eat”.

A new kind of shiny, inorganic lifeform… Jared Kushner

Anyone studying, for instance, Jared Kushner, or Victoria Beckham, or the Khardashians; or who has ever viewed lcd TV shows like “The Only Way is Essex”, or “Love Island” (“With a thong in my heart!” Ed. Sorry, carry on…) will already have suspected, a new race of quasi-humans is emerging, made at least superficially – which in the cases mentioned is mostly –  from plastic polymers.

So far, these microparticles have only been traced through the poo of the subjects, and only in the Far East. There’s no reason to believe, however, that it’s not also in the vital organs, possibly even the brain; and that it’s not happening to the rest of us, that we are being gradually transformed into a new race of shiny, inorganic beings.

I am constantly being badgered by the NHS to send them a scoop of my poo, to see if I have colonic cancer or not. I actually have a pathological aversion to touching human waste matter, especially my own, and have so far refused to co-operate; however, if researchers were looking for evidence of my lazy habit of microwaving meals in plastic trays covered with clingfilm, which I feel sure can’t be doing me any good, then maybe I might make an exception.

The plastination of living humans may not be far off. It’s very exciting, as it would enable us, for instance, to survive virtually unprotected in deep space, or underwater. But we’ll have to be quick, if runaway global warming isn’t going to turn us all into a rainbow puddle of molten goo.

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GW: Joinin’ the dots, drawin’ the lines and goin’ round in circles Where I part company

Why does no-one mention climate-related disasters in the same breath as they report on political events around the world?

It’s a mystery.

We’ve had numerous reports over the past week from the UN and others, profoundly concerned about starvation and disease affecting millions in the Yemen, as a result of the filthy war that’s been going on there now for three and a half years; largely thanks to this bin-Salman bloke who appears to enjoy torturing people.

But there hasn’t been a single mention on the news of the widespread, deadly floods that followed the arrival last week of ex-Tropical Storm Luban, dumping huge volumes of rain and massively adding to the misery of the Yemenis.

At the same time, while we’re all rapidly acclimatizing to the gruesome details of the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, while focussing on the convoluted politics of the region, we seem completely oblivious to the worsening climatic conditions across the Middle East, intense heatwaves alternating with powerful cyclonic weather systems pushing eastwards out of the Mediterranean or northwards out of the Arabian Sea into the Gulf, causing widespread flooding and wind damage, disrupting normal life.

In addition to Yemen and neighboring Oman, Climate and Extreme Weather News #142 this week has video footage and local TV weather reports of flooding from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrein and – moving across North Africa – Tunisia; last week you could add Algeria too, and Morocco; up across the Gibraltar strait into southern and eastern Spain; although by the time remnant ex-Tropical Storm Leslie hit the south of France with 13 dead and one small town briefly 7 meters underwater, the media had no option but to report it, in comparative isolation from similar violence elsewhere.

Presumably no reports come out of dysfunctional Libya, but they’re part of the same southern Mediterranean climatic system. That whole North African coast has also seen record temperature anomalies persist into the autumn; while earlier in the year, Ouargla in Algeria set a new global record temperature for any April day, anywhere, ever, of 51.1C, 124.3F. Also just about mentioned in dispatches, were the unusually heavy snowfalls in the Sahara and the Atlas mountains last winter.

At other times, Saudi Arabia and Iran have featured in the mix of countries once considered unlikely to suffer from floods; I mean, they’re supposed to be deserts! (You can watch a bewildered young camel up to her humps in floodwater as gesticulating locals try to figure out a way of rescuing her, their cries of alarm not helping!  – CEWN #142, first sequence.) While both countries (and Iraq) have been afflicted with brutal heatwaves, northern Iran having set new summer temperature records in previous years, topping 53C, 129F in Ahvaz in June, 2017.

Those conditions are a) not survivable for long, and b) spreading.

Your Old Granny cannot for one moment believe these increasingly frequent, damaging and costly weather events have no effect whatever on the economies, food security and everyday life of the region; yet not one single journalist has been prepared to build those concerns into their equations when it comes to reporting on politics and conflict in the (mainly) Islamic world, stories that are obviously much more exciting than boring old floods and heatwaves.

Or maybe they just don’t understand the connections.

Central America, too, remains a serious concern; and possibly increasing rainfall and floods are one more reason for the exodus of thousands of refugees to the north.

Look, see one flood, you’ve seen them all. They’re pretty bad (Doha underwater? Ya kiddin’ me!) Here’s the CEWN playlist for this week’s report, I’ll expand on it later or if you hate cars that much, you can visit the link beloiw:

Yemen & Oman: Floods The UAE (1 dead): Flash floods Qatar: Flash floods (year’s worth of rain in 6 hrs) Bahrain: Flash floods Tunisia (5 dead): Floods Spain: Castellon & Campillos floods Sicily: Floods Trinidad: Floods The USA: Texas floods (330mm rain in 48 hrs) Colombia: Dos Quebradas flash flood (12 dead) Venezuela: Carayaca flash flood….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2Bk7MMRueo&t=178s

(Yes, a remarkable stat among remarkable stats…. Doha (the capital of Qatar) usually gets 1.1 mm of rain in the whole of October. On Saturday 20th, it received 84 mm in 6 hours. Rivalling France’s Aude river, that rose 8 meters in 6 hours in a torrential storm last week, the Llano river in Texas rose 10 meters in 24 hours. 4 dead.)

Mexico: Hurricane Willa intensified with alarming rapidity from a 35 mph storm to a 155 mph beast in a little over 48 hours, and is now a full Cat 5 hurricane, heading for Mexico’s west coast. It’s expected to de-intensify to a Cat 3 or 4 before making landfall on Thursday, close to the city of Mazatlan (pop. 600 thousand.)

Meanwhile another Pacific storm is strengthening SE of Guam: Yutu is expected to make Cat 5 hurricane strength, possibly upper 5 (gusts 190 mph)  as it moves eastwards over 30 degree warm waters (Wunderground) Eyewall now bearing down on Guam, a low-lying complex of islands and a major US airbase., with 120 mph sustained winds. Some tracks have it heading then for the Japanese islands, Taiwan or the north Philippines.

“Farther to the south, Tropical Storm Vicente weakened but was still expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over parts of southern and south-western Mexico.” (Guardian) Officials in Oaxaca state said seven adults and five children had lost their lives in drownings or mudslides. (CBS)

 

A hate supreme

Despite having previously agreed the case could proceed, the US Supreme Court, now packed with conservatives including two Trump appointees, has issued an injunction halting progress in a class action being brought against the EPA by 21 “young Americans” alleging it failed to protect them from harms wrought by pollution from burning fossil fuels.

The stay injunction was issued at the request of the Justice Department after the case had cleared the lower courts over the last three years – it was originally filed against the Obama administration. An ultimately fatal delay now seems probable. It’s pretty clear that no climate-change-related suits will ever come to trial while the Republicans hold the balance of power both in the Congress and in the courts.

This may not be fascism, but judicial interference with the normal course of justice in the interest of big business is surely what fascism looks like. (TYT: Ring of Fire, 24 Oct.)

Make hay while the sun… er…

The IPCC report on climate change appears to have backfired, handing a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry and its corrupt and scientifically illiterate political support base.

While it has been described as alarming rather than alarmist (a good sign?), many people have nevertheless seized on its headline premise that we have 12 years in which to act before the warming becomes irreversible, taking it to mean we can happily go on burning coal, oil and gas for another 12 years at the present rate of increase before governments need to act on it.

I mean, why bother reading the rest of the report?

Many independent climate scientists are dismayed at the suggestion, either that warming is reversible – it isn’t, not in the 100-year timeline – or that it will get more reversible if we go on burning stuff for another 12 years. In all probability by that time, tipping points will have been exceeded, exponential effects will have been triggered that will literally kill the planet in a couple of hundred years (we won’t be here to witness it).

Thus perish all technologically advanced civilizations, think the experts – which is why we never seem to meet any others.

Setting that limit was obviously intended to give governments some indulgence in their decision-making, but (coming from naive scientists) failed to comprehend the concept of that freedom to do nothing that all democratically elected governments relish. For most, 12 years is three election cycles away! Why should the current administrations spoil their cosy shareholder relations with industry, when they can pass the problem on to the next lot in power?

It seems to have been a potentially disastrous own goal by the Commission.

That’s unfortunate, because in many respects governments have already been rowing back on their Paris commitments to phase out fossil-fuel power generation, support the growth of non-polluting renewable energy and halt the inexorable rise of the internal combustion engine, with this pretty meaningless “1.5 degrees” target in view – that we have already far exceeded on other measures.

The socio-economic and geopolitical effects even of the 1 degree the IPCC will admit to since 1850 are already looking pretty bad.

And since it came out, the efforts of the climate-change denial industry, that we thought had finally been beaten into submission by the hammer of truth, have been doubling-down on the YouTube channels.

It’s as if they’ve been given a new lease of life, especially by Mr Trump’s utterly fatuous, rambling nonsense about “maybe this, maybe that, I’ve seen reports on both sides….” (no he hasn’t, he doesn’t read “reports”. Ed.) when interviewed on ABC’s 60 Minutes show last week, which his scientifically illiterate hillbillies and gun-totin’, pussy-grabbing, bible-bashing dumbfucks will treat as gospel, coming as it does from God’s annointed one.

There’s been a flurry of posts from the usual nitwits, bolloxing on about the Grand Solar Minimum – yes, that’s right, when the sun is outputting its least amount of energy for a hundred years the climate on earth gets hotter, duh! – and volcanoes and earthquakes and eclipses and “global dimming” and the coming ice age and all the planets lining up on one ‘side’ of the sun, and cycles of natural variability (as if the scientists don’t already know about those!) and the plants eating all the CO2 so how can it be warming the planet? and it’s all just a hoax by NASA to put up taxes, to get bigger research grants, and on and on with the myths and fantasies and cretinous pseudo-scientific theories and blatant lies and contrafactual narratives cooked up in the past four decades by PR whizzes employed expressly for the purpose by the fossil-fuel barons.

Those beliefs, if genuinely held, suggest we haven’t come far since the sixteenth century. The tragedy is, they’re all so predictable. Perhaps the primary cause of global warming is Biblical prophesy? To read all that horseshit, you would think so.

Not one of the deniers has ever obtained so much as a temperature reading in their life, from anywhere except up their own anus.

And yet… people seem so desperately to want to believe that as the world we know ends, it wasn’t their fault!

And yet… the Trump administration, buried inside a 500-page “state of everything” report, has already admitted to the belief that the earth will be 7 degrees Celsius hotter by 2100. That’s a world-ending rise, by the way, as the increase would then be unstoppable; even assuming it doesn’t get to 4 degrees before then – in itself prospectively an extinction event for the human race. It’s not the mean, but the extremes that kill.

And their conclusion?

Nothing to be done. Too late folks, we blew it. How were we to know? Keep buyin’, keep burnin’, make that hay while the sun… er…. Bye!

And hope the technical boys will come up with something.

You know, science….

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The Terminal Beach

Last week, a packet of sausages confiscated at a Japanese airport from a traveller arriving from China was found to contain the African Swine Fever virus. “…despite co-ordinated efforts it has spread widely, initially through eastern Europe and Russia, and more recently into western Europe, where wild boar in Belgium were found to have the disease. The virus has now jumped to China, home to half the world’s domestic pigs, and appears to be proliferating rapidly.” (Guardian)

A worldwide outbreak in the 1950s was contained, but the disease re-emerged in 2007 in Georgia. It can’t at present be caught by humans but in some outbreaks has had 100% mortality in pigs, who are similar to us physiologically (presumably why Jews and Muslims won’t eat them, only cannibal Christians.) Mutation is, apparently, only a matter of time. 41 cases have now been notified.

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 66: Calumny makes the world go around… Khashing in his chips… Midterm Elections: Roll up, rolls down… Have your cake and stuff it… GW: Wandering around in circles

 

“Not global warming, not mother nature, it is the prophesy that near the end disasters will increase before the return of Christ and there is more to come and will intensify.”

–  ‘Sinner-Saved-From-Grace’, posting on Weather Underground in response to a lengthy and scholarly disquisition from Dr Jeff Masters on the physics behind the formation of powerful hurricanes.

See, how simple it all is when you put the apple back on the tree?

As we know, the greatest threat to the USA is its pandemic of frogbox-crazy Bible ‘truthers’. The ones who believe Trump has been sent by God to restore Christian morality in America! The ones who own the Republican Congress.

“So then I put my hand up her skirt…”

 

“…one wonders what Trump would do if Iran offered to pay his $340 million debt to Deutsche Bank?”

Calumny makes the world go around

The US ambassadress to the United Nations, “Dark Lady” Nikki Haley announced her resignation on 09 Oct., the sixty-somethingth senior Trump administration official to quit or be fired in less than two years.

No clear reason has been given, although Trump has lied that she told him several months ago, which is presumably why he doesn’t have a replacement lined up. Some betting is on Ivanka Trump to succeed her – he told reporters, she’d be “dynamite” in the job.

Less destructive than plutonium, I suppose.

The unexpected announcement triggered a storm of media speculation, with the strong theme running through it that she may be preparing a bid for the White House in 2020. Mrs Haley has denied it, saying she fully supports the increasingly confused and disputacious President for a second term. Frankly, the likelihood of the Republicans adopting a candidate to run against Trump in the primaries is preposterous. They’re so mired in his shit, not even the blood of Christ could wash the stink off.

Others have suggested she’s got too many foreign policy differences with the White House, or she’s being investigated over taking freebie flights and grossly understating their value on her emoluments confessionals; or she’s increasingly feeling irrelevant to US policymaking, in which she had more of a say when the largely hands-off Rex Tillerson was Secretary of State. Or she’s pissed off because Pompeo got the State Department and she felt she was better qualified. No-one knows. Maybe she even wrote that NYT op-ed blasting Trump as a vicious and incompetent infant?

Whatever, reports are that she’s courting the extreme Christian Right, exciting them with tales that she threatened China with an invasion of North Korea, and other juicy morsels for the End Times.

The preposterous triumvirate of the bloviating fraudster, Trump; his overbearing Secretary of State, the well-named Mike Pompeo and “Mr Pastry meets Dangermouse”, John Bolton, he of the volcanic Irish temperament and frosty upper lip, is pulling out of more and more international treaty agreements and institutions they perceive as cheekily imposing limits on unbridled American global hegemony. That’s also said to be pissing Nikki off.

“During meetings at the United Nations last week, Trump, Pompeo and Bolton railed against Iran and berated various other member states and U.N. bodies for not bending to American interests.” (writes Open Democracy) “…at a White House briefing, national security adviser Bolton announced that the administration was reviewing all agreements that could subject the United States to future rulings by the (UN International Court of Justice in The Hague).” While today’s (11 Oct) Washington Post raises concerns linking yesterday’s death-defying plunge on the markets with Bolton’s increasingly hawkish rhetoric against… China.

Because if the Chinese economy goes belly-up, as Trump seems to want, that’s it for the rest, making 2008 look like you went a dollar over your overdraft and the manager called you in.

So it’s fine for other countries, including America’s fast retrenching “allies”, to have to put up with bullying, teenage insults, sanctions, barked orders, huge fines penalizing only taxpayers, gross injustices and the high & mighty jurisdiction of commercially motivated, publicity-seeking, common-or-garden US District Court judges over our own institutions and legislatures, to be told who we can trade with and on what terms; but the American Empire will not accept what these three like to smear as “politically motivated interference” with its often underhand and dirty machinations in return.

“Give him a week, Trump will forget what a great guy Brett Kavanaugh was….”

The constant harping, especially by this degenerate and cavalier President, on the idea that critics of his dangerous caprices are invariably sponsored in the background by the Deep State and other malevolent forces of what are in fact perfectly legitimate opposition parties and media commentators in a polyvalent democracy, is a precise encapsulation of the Trumpian doctrine of autocracy.

Everything that upsets Childe Donald and flouts his wishes or threatens his interests is the fault of his many political and media critics,  wearisomely portrayed time and again out of the “Fascist Dictating For Dummies…” playbook as the forces of evil plotting violent overthrow of the nation state – which is to say, him.

He is perhaps not cunning or ruthless or, indeed, young enough; not sufficiently well informed or focussed on the goal, since he has no clue about the workings of government and displays the intelligence and attention-span of a fruit fly with ADHD, to ever actually become the dictator he obviously so longs to be.

Give him a week, Trump will forget what a great guy Brett Kavanaugh was. The first balanced and rational decision the Supreme Court comes out with, Trump will decide that his inside man is weak and a traitor, tweeting out the old terms of abuse in the sleepless hours.

But can one say the same of the evil armchair warmonger, the Bolton Baddie, for instance? Or the “college vampire”, the ambitious, nativist psychopath, Stephen Miller, a dead-eyed Trump policy “advisor” and speechwriter still young enough to destroy the world?

This is a form of transactional global dictatorship that makes it easier to understand, for instance, the motivation behind Putin’s assault on democratic institutions.

It may become necessary for Western nations too, to adopt a similar program of nonviolent resistance to an increasingly authoritarian United States; as Trump’s foreign policy is mostly about demanding Danegeld – a protection racket; a shakedown. If you don’t want to be hit with sanctions and trade tariffs, or threatened with annihilation, you better remember poor bankrupt Jared Kushner, the son-in-law, could do with another $500 million.

A head of steam is already building around relations with Iran, which were on a reasonable footing until Trump announced he was unilaterally abrogating a vital nuclear non-proliferation treaty it had taken the West twenty years to negotiate, because, he said, it was a “terrible deal”; although it is doubtful if he has read it. It hasn’t yet been published in comic strip form.

There is no mystery why he did that: a simple soul, Trump has been easily bamboozled by the hardline prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, who has been agitating for some time for regime change in Tehran; ever since, in fact, the scruffy little oik in the waiter’s jacket, President Ahmadinejad, aiming to cement his power internally, called for Israel to be pushed into the sea.

Of course he wasn’t serious; it’s not a policy objective. He knew perfectly well, Israel has an even bigger brother armed with more than 70 thousand nuclear warheads. It was standard Islamist rhetoric to please the Ayatollahs.

“Remember when you couldn’t even manage to defeat a few peasants in flip-flop sandals?”

But Israel has always adopted a robustly paranoid view of its neighbours, and has been anxious to finagle the USA with Levantine cunning into crushing Iran before Iran could obtain its own nuclear arsenal and do a lot of damage commercially to the burgeoning Israeli offshore gas industry with its own vast reserves.

One wonders idly, what Trump would do if Iran offered to pay his $340 million debt to Deutsche Bank?

No-one seriously thinks reimposing economic sanctions leading to the collapse of the Iranian economy will result in anything other than even more hardline clerics taking over, now with the support of the people. But that’s all to the good, providing as it would, greater stimulus to the Americans to start another war in which many civilians can be killed without too much comeback from the libtards.

It wouldn’t be the first time. People forget, if they ever knew about, the sneaky invasion of Iran in 1980 by one Saddam Hussein, egged-on by the Americans, and the two million casualties that resulted before the Ayatollahs pushed him back out in a savage war of attrition. They forget, if they ever knew about, the hundreds of schoolchildren used as human minesweepers, ordered to march fearlessly through the fields to their deaths, singing patriotic songs, clearing the way for the troops to advance.

You’re going to fight that, in 50 degree heat, with your overweight, drug-addled GIs? Remember when you couldn’t even manage to defeat a few peasants in flip-flop sandals? Oh, why was that? Is it because you can’t defeat an ideology with bombs?

With hard-assed, gung-ho armchair warriors like the lunatic Bolton inside the White House, the real military sidelined, and with total ferment in Washington politics, anything could happen in the next half-hour.

And probably will.

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Khashing in his chips

Here’s one for you conspiracy theorists to get your milk teeth into.

Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributor who the Turks have got on tape being tortured and murdered and cut up with a chainsaw by a hit-squad consisting of a doctor and 14 military intel goons inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, likely on the orders of the autocratic Saudi heir with terrifying eyes, Prince Mohammad bin-Salam, was the younger cousin (some say nephew) of the late Adnan Khashoggi, a billionaire arms dealer and spectacular bon viveur, who died “peacefully” in London last year, aged 81, of complications from Parkinson’s disease.

It’s not strictly accurate to describe Jamal as “a journalist”. While in exile in the US, on a residential visa, he wrote guest articles in the WaPo mildly critical of bin-Salman, whose much touted liberal reforms have been less than a layer of skin deep compared with his crackdown on businessmen, journalists, social activists and political opponents.

He was also a diplomat and businessman, with extensive contacts among the vast horde of House of Saud princelings who jockey for power in the brutal desert kingdom, where civil rights and the system of jurisprudence have barely improved since the time of Abraham.

It’s more likely he was killed for something more serious; a plot, possibly, some act of corruption, a bad business deal or a tribal feud. He was known, for instance, to have at some time or other been a supporter if not a member of the hated Muslim Brotherhood, in fact a relatively religiously liberal Islamic movement but one that Arab dictators don’t want meddling in their politics.

The family seems ill-fated: Adnan’s sister was the mother of Dodi Al-Fayed, the son of the Egyptian businessman and former owner of Harrod’s store for the very rich, in London. Dodi was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1996, along with his soon-to-be-ex-lover, Diana, “Princess of Wales, Countess of Chester, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Carrick, Baroness of Renfrew, Lady of the Isles, Princess of Scotland...”. You certainly got your money’s worth with our Di.

Almost as many interesting theories surround that tragic event as emerged after the Kennedy assassination.

In his prime, Adnan was worth around $40 billion, supposedly, and scraped a living as an agent facilitating the sale of American arms – particularly Lockheed-Martin aircraft – to Saudi Arabia, earning fat commissions. He acted as the go-between for Oliver North in the notorious Iran-Contra affair, when lovely old Ronald Reagan secretly promised to sell arms to Iran if they kept the seige by radical students of the US Embassy in Tehran going long enough to discredit his Democrat opponent, incumbent President Jimmy Carter.

Perhaps his most famous deal was the one known as al-Yamamah, where he was allegedly paid $65 million by the Thatcher government, using her son Mark as the go-between (he has strenuously denied it), not to hand the $20 billion warplanes contract to the French Dassault company, but to favor British Aerospace. The subsequent bribery investigation by the UK Serious Fraud unit was quashed by Tony Blair, who had a thing about not upsetting murderous Arab dictators.

Arms sales to Saudi Arabia are indeed the reason Donald Trump admits he is refusing to say bad things about the pragmatic bin-Salam, who was suddenly promoted over his cousin to become heir to the throne of the demented King Salmaan just a fortnight after Trump visited Riyadh in 2017, at the urging no doubt of “Friend of Israel” Jared Kushner, and continues to prosecute a genocidal war in Yemen with the help of US weapons and special forces.

Trump lies that US sales orders to SA are worth $110 billion, and so cannot be sacrificed for just one man, but that isn’t exactly true. Wikipedia has: ‘On June 5, it was reported that the arms deal consists of ‘a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts.’ On June 13, 2017, the United States Senate narrowly rejected an effort to block part of the deal and approved the sale of $500 million worth of American weapons.”

So it was half-a-percent true!

Trump’s business connections with Saudi Arabia go way back to the 1990s, when his Taj Mahal casino was going bust and he owed $900 million.

The astonishing story of how the Trumps, father and daughter, bankrupted the casino for a second time in 2009 after Trump’s friend, whom he would later appoint to a cabinet post, Carl Icahn had blown $100 million trying to rescue the business is told on http://uk.businessinsider.com/how-trump-bankrupted-the-taj-mahal-2017-5.

Trump had conned the judge at the first bankruptcy hearing into awarding him the business over Icahn, on a rescue plan that included licensing his valuable name to the casino, and then loaded the company with massive debts in the form of lucrative payments to himself and Ivanka for selling their own-branded products via “third-parties”.

Icahn would subsequently leave the Trump administration in 2018 after an illegal insider trade netted him $23 million. But he had the last laugh: “The Trump Taj Mahal eventually ended up in Icahn’s hands after the 2015 bankruptcy process, and the Trumps lost their 10% stake.”

(This is the Great Businessman the dumbfucks believe in so fervently, they’ve made a film hailing him as the new Messiah who’s going to restore morality to America. You could not make this up!)

In 1987, Adnan Khashoggi too was in a bit of financial bother – believe it or not – and had to sell his superyacht, the Nebila – at 87 meters, the biggest one in the world at that time – to the Sultan of Brunei, then the richest man in the world and a close friend of UK heir to the throne, Prince Charles, who was, of course, notoriously, married to…. Princess Diana. Adnan got nothing for it, the Sultan merely covered his debts.

The Sultan then flipped the yacht to…. one Donald J Trump, for $29 million, and Trump later sold it on to a Saudi business contact, Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, for $19 million.

A better deal was to follow. Rechristening the Nebila the Trump Princess, the Golden Wonder (despite his enormous debts) commissioned an even bigger yacht, at 125 meters to be named Trump Princess 11. Then, once work had started, he cancelled the order, forcing the builder into administration, and bought the yard cheaply. Which two months later he sold at a profit.

Never do business with Donald Trump, is my advice.

http://uk.businessinsider.com/history-of-donald-trumps-yachts-2016-11?r=US&IR=T

So when Trump told an impromptu press gathering in the Oval Office yesterday that he didn’t know about Khashoggi, he wasn’t being exactly honest. Why, he was practically a shipmate of the seafaring family. Ship ahoy!

An obituary in the New York Times (I’ve linked the Sydney Morning Herald‘s version) paints Adnan Khashoggi as just the kind of guy Trump would love to have been, if he had ever made any real money: brash, vulgar, insecure (a good Muslim, born in Mecca, he organized a continuous stream of prostitutes for himself and his guests) and astonishingly expensive. http://www.smh.com.au/national/adnan-khashoggi-saudi-arms-dealer-sold-superyacht-to-trump-20170607-gwm6pm.html

And if you think James Bond is fantasy, Adnan even employed as a bodyguard, a Korean martial arts master called Mr Kill.

So, reeling from all that – and there’s more, so much more – you might by now be thinking, perhaps Jamal Khashoggi wasn’t murdered just for writing a couple of brusque op-eds.

It seems unlikely.

 

Postscriptum: Oh God, I just stupidly wondered if the Blair business led anywhere else in this story, and Googled “Khashoggi; Murdoch”…. Don’t, whatever you do, go there, or two large men in sunglasses with a fondness for cocaine and George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st President of the United States, will turn up on your doorstep, I warn you!

 

Midterm elections

Roll up, rolls down

By my calculation, from US cable TV reports, Republican states have successfully “voter suppressed” – disenfranchised – well over a million black and Latino voters, basically on obscure technicalities, with three weeks to go until the midterm elections. They haven’t necessarily told them, so thousands will turn up at the polls only to discover they’re not eligible to vote, or that the votes they cast won’t count.

Individual cases show the extent of Republican gerrymandering.

  • In Georgia, AP reports, sitting Republican candidate, State Secretary Brian Kemp has refused to relinquish control of the voter registration office, as required by law, that is holding up 53 thousand applications for new registrations, over 70% of them from black applicants. They’re now time-expired. 107 thousand more have been arbitrarily removed from the roll for failing to vote in a previous election.
  • In North Dakota, there are two wards that have Native American majorities. Because of the way elections work in the US, those wards can help to swing the state for the Democrat candidate. So the Republican State department is insisting Native Americans have to re-register, proving their ethnic status. That requires submitting a street address and zipcode, that most of them don’t have because they’re living in trailers on a reservation.
  • While in Waller County, Texas, the field director for the Democrats, Jacob Aaronowitz, was arrested and his phone confiscated after police quizzed him on his party affiliation when he turned up at the courthouse to deliver a letter requesting that judges uphold the voting rights of black students at a local university, following a long history of intimidation by the Republican administration.
  • And in Dodge City, Kansas – a town with 60% Latino population – State Secretary Kris Kobach (he of the notorious and now disbanded Trump commission on voter fraud, that couldn’t find any) has moved the only voting station that Latino citizens were previously directed to use to a location a mile outside town, and not on a bus route.

The reason being, it’s thought probable that ethnic minority, immigrant, poorer and younger voters tend to vote Democrat.

Often, it seems like Orson Welles’ Southern racialism suspense fim, ‘A Touch of Evil’, has come to life. Especially when Attorney-General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions 111 has been caught warning circuit court judges not to dare rule in suits against Daddy Trump, or parties affiliated to him, if they value their careers. It’s expected Trump will fire him after the elections. The sad little creep.

In the meantime, asked about a fresh round of Russian internet activity, that has resulted in a detailed 28-page NSA indictment of a Russian woman who is apparently in charge of the operation in St Petersburg, Trump shrugged and replied that it didn’t bother him: “It’s nothing to do with my campaign” – and suggested the Russians might be interfering on behalf of Hillary Clinton – whom he defeated in the election he won two years ago, and who is not even running for office, any more than he is.

Is the persistent refusal to engage with an enemy power in defense of the State not treason?

Lock him up!

Georgia on my mind

Further mindboggling evidence of election-rigging in Georgia has emerged from a number of articles about the curious behavior of State officials led by the Secretary of State, Brian Kemp.

Before the 2016 election, State police raided a number of properties in Brooks County, where a high proportion of black people live, and charged 11 with the crime of carrying absentee ballots to the mailbox, on behalf of disabled relatives. Together, they faced a possible 1,100 years in jail. By a strange coincidence, they were all active campaigners for the Democrats. None of the cases resulted in a conviction, after the Attorney General admitted, there was no such crime.

As if blatant intimidation of whole Democrat districts by the State police were not enough, Kemp appears to have been the one holdout State Secretary in the whole of the US, who refused to accept multiple warnings from the FBI and independent cyber security agencies in 2016, that his State’s voting machines were wide open to Russian interference and security needed beefing-up. 100 per cent of Georgia’s voter data was accessible on-line, including Social Security numbers, and was being hacked at that moment.

Kemp hit back with the now-familiar line that it was all a Democrat scare story; there were no Russians.

Following the election, investigators established that a known GRU agent, recalled Washington diplomat Dmitri Kovalev had visited a small number of states in 2016 to gain information about their voting machines, Georgia among them. Huge anomalies were found: in one county, two and a half times the number of votes were cast than there were registered voters. When the FBI requested access to investigate the database, they found it had been wiped clean.

Georgia declared for Trump by a 5-point majority that was totally unexpected in the light of polling. Kemp is running again in the midterms. He is being taken to court (again) for suppressing tens of thousands of legitimate voters, but it looks like there won’t be a verdict before the elections. (Reporting: Rachel Maddow, MSNBC)

The Republicans are blatantly stealing the election, while Trump makes valiant attempts to delegitimize any opposition to his increasingly bizarre and autocratic rule, describing ordinary Democrats – practically half the electorate – as dangerous Socialists, an “angry mob” planning to overthrow the government and take away people’s guns. (It’s called an election, Donald!)

Let’s hope those “3 to 5 million illegals” of his, that Kobach couldn’t find,  turn out again and vote.

 

Have your cake and stuff it

Living in a small provincial town, I can’t say I’d ever taken note of the existence of a chain of rather scrumptious-looking cake shops-cum-cafes called, winsomely, Patisserie Valerie, before now. We certainly haven’t got one here, which seems a shame as the overpriced, pre-sliced, dried-out cakes and muffins you get in coffee shops are pretty dreary and unimaginative. Carrot cake, anyone? Salted caramel flavor?

Sadly for Britain’s cake fiends, the chain of 206 cafes – some with different names – appears to have gone bust after a period in which its finance director was allegedly fudging the figures to keep investors happy, following their listing on the AIM market for small companies, so that no-one noticed, for instance, that they owed the tax people a million quid.

The bullet-point timeline on the BBC website tells an all-too familiar story:

  • The first Patisserie Valerie café was opened on Frith Street in London’s Soho district in 1926.
  • In 1987 the Scalzo family bought the Old Compton Street store and ran the business.
  • In 2006, Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners bought a majority stake when it had eight stores.
  • And in 2018, it’s in receivership.

(This article has been truncated following the announcement of the arrest of Finance Director Chris Marsh following the discovery of a £20 million “hole” in the accounts. It was to have gone on to observe that all too often, business owners fall into the trap – perhaps they have no other option, or are steered by accountants – of selling-out to investment trusts that have little interest in, or knowledge of how to run, their businesses, and no loyalty to the remaining stakeholders, but are only interested in extracting value. In this case I may be being unfair.)

 

The biter bit

Owing to a slump in ratings for his grotesque and repetitive, rambling and abusive speeches, and the reactions of his followers justifying the term ‘base’, Fox News has announced a decision not to air all of Trump’s weekly Nuremberg rallies in full; and some not at all.

Trump is reportedly so furious, he has called for an inquiry.

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GW: Wandering around in circles

Call me stupid, but I’m totally baffled by the completely different pictures being created by different weather services.

Take Hurricane Leslie. This weird beast has been wandering around in the mid-Atlantic for three weeks, set fair for a record fourth week, and no-one seemed to know where it was headed. A few days ago it looked to be tracking northeastward away from the Canary Islands towards the Azores, thence to Portugal and onward possibly to the British Isles.

A huge cyclonic storm then appeared off the coast of Ireland, with a central pressure of just 952 mb, that was expected by an official website called Severe-weather.eu to drop 30 mb in an act of ‘bombogenesis’ that would bring 35-foot waves and 110 mph winds with much rain to the Emerald Isle and on into northern Britain by Friday night.

Was this Leslie, or was it not? Because as a post-Tropical Storm in the region of the British Isles, it had been christened Callum.  At one time, Severe-weather.eu was calling it both Callum and Leslie.

However, the Wunderground website, part of the US Weather Channel company, has a map showing that Leslie was on 10 October still in the region of the Canary Islands, still as a Cat 1 hurricane, weakening gradually to a Tropical Storm and turning south by Friday, back into the lonely Atlantic, and not expected to make landfall anywhere.

Both the Irish Met Office and BBC Weather service seem to have a more leisurely view of the ‘weather bomb’ that is frighteningly visible on satellite imagery off the coast of Ireland, portraying it as just a normal Atlantic front, with a forecast of ‘stormy weather’, rain and wind gusts of 65 mph in the north. (This has altered slightly with the issue of an Amber flood and wind warning for Wales, Friday.)

Meanwhile there’s a heatwave in the Arctic, torrential rainfall persisting in the eastern Mediterranean, a new Tropical Storm coming out of the Cape Verde islands, the strongest hurricane, Michael, ever recorded in the Florida panhandle, bookmatched Tropical Cyclones in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean (one headed to Oman, the other to the Ganges delta) and Hurricane Garcia in the east Pacific, expected to head inland over Baja California in the wake of last week’s Hurricane Rosa.

Oh, and: “Heatwaves and bushfires are predicted in southern Australia thanks to a 70% chance of El Niño weather conditions, the Bureau of Meteorology has warned. Although cyclones may ease up in the north by the end of the year, the outlook for drought-hit areas is not good, according to the bureau. New South Wales is declared 100 per cent droughted.” – Guardian

But don’t worry, chaps, it’s all quite normal.

Carry on burning.

Weather Report

India and Bangladesh: being ignored by Western media in the excitement over Hurricane Michael, are two intense storms – one in the Arabian Sea, Typhoon Luban – the other, Tropical Cylone Titli, just south of the Ganges Delta, an especially sensitive low-lying area with a very large population lacking any resilience to tidal surges. Both are packing sustained winds over 85 mph. There’s no word as yet on the key developments to watch for, the storm surges. (Wunderground)

“Rain from the storm started to reach the eastern coasts of India on Wednesday, and will become increasingly heavy ahead of landfall on Thursday. Conditions in general will worsen through Thursday as the potent tropical cyclone unleashes torrential rainfall and increasing winds on far northeast Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The strongest winds will likely be confined to the coasts of northeastern Andhra Pradesh and southern Odisha. Ahead of landfall, Titli is expected to strengthen to a very severe tropical cyclone, bringing sustained winds of at least 120 km/h (75 mph). This is equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane.” (1, actually. Ed.)

Already however Times of India reports 300,000 residents of Odisha state are being evacuated as windspeeds have increased to 125 km/h with gusts over 165 km/h. Given the population living in poor quality housing along the shoreline, this could be a much more serious event even than Michael.

Update: CEWN #140 has 8 dead from Titli, remarkable, given its severity. Luban’s track has veered leftwards and the bulk of the storm is expected over Yemen, Friday. Upper date: Titli total: 52.

Sri Lanka: Rain stopped play for a day in the cricket Test Match against the England tourists, frightfully inconvenient. What the BBC didn’t report: “At least 9 people have died and around 5,000 displaced after a period of heavy rain and storms which have caused flooding, landslides and wind damage. Around 1,700 homes and buildings have been severely damaged, with around 35 totally destroyed.” (Floodlist)

Oman: Luban’s track is still a little uncertain, it may affect Yemen, but more likely Oman, with 5 to 8 inches of rain: “By Friday evening, Dhofar and Al Wusta governorates are expected to be affected by heavy rain, and high winds, with sea waves reaching maximum heights of 6 to 8 metres.”

Italy: Major flash-flooding reported from Sardinia as weather system bearing intense rainfall moves westwards through the Med. (Floodlist) The Local reports, the island had an entire year’s worth of rainfall in 4 hours. 1 dead.

UK: Heavy rain from Storm Callum has caused floods across much of the southwest of England and south Wales, and is now moving up into Cumbria. The west of Ireland took a battering as the storm moved more slowly than expected up the coast.

 

Weather talk

I was just on an old Post and came across a reference to Japan, and Typhoon Talim, a Cat 4 that struck with devastating effect a little over a year ago. Many people had to be evacuated. Looking back over this year and the powerful typhoons that have battered Japan, with millions displaced, it occurred to me to write to Mr Abe to suggest that the entire population might be permanently rehoused in evacuation centres, above the tideline, to save the bother of having to move them in and out of their homes.

Seriously, these natural disasters keep happening in Japan. It must be having an effect on the economy, but no-one ever mentions it. Just as no-one ever wonders if several years of drought interrupted by typhoons and floods aren’t in any way responsible for Mr Kim’s overtures to his southern Korean neighbour. We hear little these days of the activities of al-Shabaab Islamic militias in Northern Nigeria. Could that be because vast tracts have been underwater for months, making movement difficult?

An alley between the Gulf coastal states – Texas, Louisiana, Alabama – through the midwest up to the Great Lakes, eastward to the Atlantic coast and up into Maine has been successively battered by severe storms all year, at the rate of about two a month; extreme hail and tornadoes punctuated by extreme heat fluctuating across the continent. Record winter snowfall gave way after months to record flooding, some “1-in-1000-years” floods occurring for the second time in two years. Are we to assume this and hurricanes like Maria and Michael have had no effect at all on the US economy?

For a nation whose number one topic of conversation famously used to be the weather, here in Britain we’ve become remarkably reticent about it lately. No-one looks up anymore, only down at their cellphones; where we are told nothing that might frighten us.

The IPCCress File

For the independent scientists’ reaction to the big report on climate change, go to: Arctic-news.blogspot.com. It won’t come as any surprise to BogPo readers that it includes a cogent 12-point demolition of the IPCC’s heavily downplayed conclusions. Most seriously, they accuse the committee of ignoring NASA’s data: “Records show that, in February 2016, it was on average 1.67ºC warmer than in 1900, while the higher latitudes North had anomalies up to 10.8ºC.”

 

Yellowstone News: Water and ground temperatures still rising, trees dying, earthquakes going unrecorded by USGS, the Steamboat geyser went off last Monday for the 22nd time this year (normally 1 or 2 in a whole year) equalling the previous record full year ever. Although the good news is the eruptions are getting less frequent, now every 6 days.