The Crime of the Century… History on Repeat… GW: with her kilt a’ blowin’ above her ears… Hitting the buffers… No Fly Zone #2

“Eat your damn broccoli, Donald.”
“Won’t. Shan’t. Horrible.” #Ihateyoumommy.

 

Warning: extreme polemic; vitriol; abusive language; moral indignation.

“In a little over 500 days of streaming lies, base insults, cretinous mismanagement and vile misdeeds, Trump has absorbed all our outrage. … We find it difficult any longer to care.”

The crime of the century

A woman is breastfeeding her 18-month-old infant. An armed guard rips the child away and thrusts it into a baby seat in a car. The car drives away. The mother does not know where her baby has been taken, she may never know.

Soon she finds herself locked in a cell, accused of something that is not a crime in international law. She has no right to representation. Habeas corpus no longer applies. Eventually, after a few months, she will be sent back to wherever she came from, to endure whatever it was she came to escape. Rape, torture, murder, who cares what?

North Korea?

No, America – the southern Texas border. June 2018.

The Land of the Free.

Where crimes against humanity and gross breaches of the UN Convention on Refugees are committed multiple times daily by untrained, unaccountable, gum-chewing trailer-trash on the orders of the racist Georgia dwarf, the cretinous little Trumpsucker, Attorney-General Sessions, cowed and subservient to the whim of an insane would-be dictator waging war on children.

Trump. A lying, groping, money-obsessed conman; a filthy, self-admiring, profligate old brute, a cowardly moron who openly admires the murderous thugs and kleptocrats ruling totalitarian countries, castigates and belittles America’s democratic allies and publicly regrets that his country is, or was until he was invented, ruled with dignity by laws and moral values.

Trump, who blatantly lied to the press that ripping families apart was a “law” passed by the previous Obama administration, that he can’t change. (Clue: it isn’t, and it wasn’t, and he could.) At every hint of criticism, he desperately lies that the Democrats are preventing him repealing the non-existent “law” that he himself imposed six weeks ago, that has led to the internment of over 2 thousand children and counting.

Of course, what he wants is to trade the children for support for his insane border wall, not because it will work, he knows it won’t, but because he promised it to his dumbfucks and they’re too stupid to know that it’s a total white elephant. Bjt if he delivers it, they’ll deliver the White House to him for another four years of this horror show.

Of course, we see too that an order for several billion dollars’ worth of concrete will also make the mafia-controlled concrete supply business that he was involved with in New York through the late “Fat Tony” Salerno and the Genovese crime family a bunch of happy bunnies.

This “zero-tolerance law” is his official new immigration policy, Welcome to Trumpworld, where any migrant – people he has likened to “animals” – turning up at an official border crossing and claiming asylum according to international law is automatically declared “illegal” as if they had entered the country by some backdoor route, and is judged to be guilty of a crime; a charge extended to the “smuggling” of their own children, if accompanied by any.

How sick can you get, confiscating desperate people’s children as “contraband”?

At last, the world is beginning to take notice of a repugnant, amoral and illegal no-entry policy that began with Bush, and continued through the Obama administration but has been ferociously extended under Trump. The Guardian reports (15 June):

“A spokesman for the US Department of Health and Human Services (sic.) said on Thursday that the department had selected the Tornillo port of entry as a temporary shelter location, 40 miles south-east of El Paso, in an area of desert where temperatures routinely approach 100F (37C).

“The facility will be able to accommodate up to 360 children in “the next few days,” said the spokesman, Kenneth (‘big, bad’) Wolfe.

“Asked if children will be kept in tents, Wolfe said the facility would have “soft-sided structures,” but didn’t immediately clarify what those structures would be.”

Soft-sided structures. This Orwellian doublespeak is entirely characteristic of the grotesque, slimy dishonesty of a quasi-fascist, criminal dictatorship rampaging out of control.

Pressed on the moral issue by reporters yesterday, the fat, sweaty sack Sanders, shortly to be outgoing press spokesbitch to the foul-smelling Trump house of shit, quoted Romans, chapter something-or-other, a piece of ignorant Bible Truther sophistry about the proper application of the law under fucking God. What an awful woman she is, a snarling, sneering, dissembling, hypocritical insult to the intelligence, a gross Pharisee with fat, sweaty kids of her own; a rank, dyed-in-the-wool hypocrite.

To impose this illegal policy, secret courts are in session 24 hours a day, rubber-stamping guilty verdicts by the thousand. Secret camps have been set up, where thousands of children automatically seized from their parents are interned at the rate of 50 a day, some as young as two, without access or recourse to their parents, who have been branded as criminals without rights and are locked up.

Many are said to have been housed in cages. 1,400 boys are being held in an abandoned Walmart supermarket. A few reporters and congressmen have managed to gain access to selected camps (access to the main camps has been denied). They report, there is no specialist childcare, no trauma counselling for terrified children, no proper healthcare or education, no toys or books or games or cellphones. Just grim-faced border guards and lines for food.

It’s a hastily arranged children’s gulag. Some of the younger children are being sent on to “sponsors” – anyone who wants a child, for whatever reason. There is little scrutiny or vetting. No-one knows where many of those children are. White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, who since working for Trump has become, like all the others, a man utterly bereft of morals, honor or courage, thinks maybe “foster homes, or whatever.”

OR WHATEVER.

This is TRUE. It is happening today, in America.

Do you hear about it on the BBC News, where that supine and useless little weasel, John Sopoor is in charge of generating whatever thin trickle of respectful and uncritical praise for the criminal psychopath, Trump comes out of the USA?

Where is Save the Children?

Where is the UN?

Where is the entire fucking population of America, with its vaunted claim to Christian decency?

In a little over 500 days of streaming lies, base insults, cretinous mismanagement and vile misdeeds, Trump has absorbed all our outrage. We are morally confused, crushed, mentally exhausted. We find it difficult any longer to care.

It is how fascism grinds everyone down, the boot stamping on a human face. We see migrants drowning in the Mediterranean every day. What’s a few hundred more foreign children, Other-spawn, brown vermin, broiling in the desert, buried in unmarked graves? Refugees from war, famine, rape, torture, unbearable poverty – climate change.

How can we absorb them all?

And we say nothing, do nothing, as the crime of the century unfolds before our lowered gaze.

At least the SS carefully documented their victims.

We could start by telling every American in Britain to fuck off home. Don’t let them in. There are tens of thousands, by the way. You’re not wanted here, you dirty immigrant, we should tell them. Didn’t vote for Trump? Your problem. Go home and vote for someone else. Just go home, immigrants, useless, dirty, skiving Yankee trash, fuck off, before we start interning you in camps.

You’re no longer welcome here. You’re not even human. You’re just animals.

And take your filthy ratbag little scum-children with you.

Why, that would surely be the crime of the century. And they wouldn’t like it, would they.

They wouldn’t like it.

 

And are we any better?

“French border police have been accused of detaining migrant children as young as 12 in cells without food or water, (falsifying birth dates on “refusal of entry” documents), cutting the soles off their shoes and stealing sim cards from their mobile phones, before illegally sending them back to Italy.

“A report released on Friday by the charity Oxfam also cites the case of a “very young” Eritrean girl, who was forced to walk back to the Italian border town of Ventimiglia along a road with no pavement while carrying her 40-day-old baby.” – Guardian

Then of course there was the case last week of Italy and Malta refusing port facilities to a rescue ship with 629 migrants on board, including 100 children and pregnant women, plucked from unseaworthy vessels off the Libyan coast..

This is only going to get worse as the warming of the planet accelerates out of control, food security breaks down and countries south of the Mediterranean or the US border become uninhabitable.

The BogPo advises that you need to prepare for some very unpleasant happenings before the end.

x

History on repeat

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce” is a maxim attributed to Karl Marx, a C19th tragedian who 100 years later later repeated himself as Groucho. (You’re fired. Ed.)

The highly rated MSNBC journalist, Rachel Maddow today draws attention to the extraordinary parallels between the events of the later Nixon administration and those of the early (or, hopefully, late) Trump presidency; particularly with relation to the slush funds operated by both presidents’ “personal lawyers”, respectively Herb Kalmbach and Michael Cohen.

In Kalmbach’s case, he went to prison after turning evidence against Nixon for a lighter sentence in regard to a charge that he used the fund – amassed from leftover election donations – originally to secretly finance a campaign to prevent the segregationist George Wallace from winning the governorship of Alabama, so as to nobble any attempt on the presidency; and thereafter to pay-off the secret team Nixon put together to burgle the Watergate building.

In Cohen’s case, it appears he may shortly be charged with offences connected with selling access to the White House, both for large corporations like AT&T and the Swiss chemical giant Novartis, but also to foreign interests and at least one Russian oligarch, using the fund to enrich himself and the president; and to buy off women, including the porn star Stormy Daniels, with kiss-and-tell stories of affairs with the serially adulterous Trump, immediately prior to the election – making the money an undeclared and, in part, an illegal foreign campaign donation.

Equally extraordinary, one supposes, is the wounded reaction of both lawyers to being chopped off at the knees by their presidents. Trump is reportedly furious at the way Cohen has handled matters, albeit on his orders. (Actually he’s perpetually furious with anyone he perceives as disloyal, which is, ultimately, everyone who ever works for him.) Poor Cohen is bewildered: he has frequently declared actual love for the grotesque psychopath who “mentored” him.

Maddow recalls, Kalmbach reportedly dissolved in tears in the courtroom on being faced with the truth of what he had done, wondering plaintively why Nixon did not protect him.

Both stories involve controversial far-eastern summits with the leaders of enemy nations: in Nixon’s case with China and in Trump’s with North Korea. Both were spun as absolute triumphs of spontaneous diplomacy; although in Trump’s case he got nothing out of it and is having to send his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, out to mop-up the mess he has caused by announcing completely out of the blue, and without consulting anyone, an end both to sanctions and the annual joint military invasion rehearsals with the south; neither of which was mentioned in the joint communique.

These meetings are going to be seen by future historians, if there are any, as virtually identical, spontaneous foreign policy interventions against the accepted wisdom of sector experts to distract public attention from domestic troubles.

Where the element of tragedy creeps in, is in Trump’s fulsome and elaborate statements of praise and admiration for the kleptocratic despot, Kim Jong-un, which have been branded as disgusting by North Korean exiles around the world.

Kim’s record in office has been brutal: unparalleled in modern history, according to the UN.

For Trump to acclaim Kim as a fine young man, a leader with a great sense of humor, who “loves his people”, when he has slaughtered and tortured and imprisoned and starved them by the hundreds of thousands into total obedience to his selfish whims is quite remarkable, unless one assumes that those are actions which chime perfectly with Trump’s solipsistic view of his own official powers, frustrated by the limitations of the US constitution.

A clue to the almost symbiotic relationship that seems to have developed between the two men is how Trump sees Kim (with 180 degrees of historical inaccuracy – Kim’s father and grandfather were also brutal dictators who had already imposed their personality cults on a starving and cowed population) as a young man of 26 or 27, faced with the daunting challenges of holding his nation together, and having to hang tough in the face of his enemies, real or imagined, following his revered father’s death.

This ludicrous false narrative exactly mirrors Trump’s own: inheriting at 27 his brutal and remote father’s shabby, mafia-linked New York property empire, that even more callous and dishonest measures were required to manage – the challenge: to overcome his own manifest inadequacies as a business leader with tendencies to extreme laziness, pleasure-seeking, zero concentration ability, disinterest in externalities and inconvenient facts, narcissistic and vainglorious fantasizing.

A case of history repeating itself, first as farce and now very possibly as tragedy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy3rtpYC-PI

x

GW: with her kilt a’ blowin’ above her ears

Arctic: “…(air temperature) was as hot as 32.7°C or 90.9°F on June 11 on the coast of Hudson Bay (just a few miles south of the Arctic Circle); 30.7°C or 87.3°F on the coast of the Laptev Sea (north of Siberia). It was 6.6°C or 44°F over the North Pole due to hot air flowing from Siberia over the Arctic Ocean on June 13. Water near Svalbard was as warm as 16.1°C or 61°F on June 4, versus 3°C or 37.4°F in 1981-2011. CO₂ levels were 420 ppm over the North Pole on June 12; very high methane peaks are increasingly appearing. (edited from ‘Sam Carana’/ Arctic News, 11 June)

Two conclusions from the above: 1) the Arctic is warming ten times faster than the rest of the hemisphere and is beyond saving, leading to a forecast of runaway climate change due to methane emissions, fracturing of the jetstreams and ocean currents; 2) the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to world governments due out shortly is deliberately understating the degree and speed of global warming to avoid panic and preserve the now-redundant Paris accord, so that positive action is unlikely.

UK: Gale force winds and heavy rain battered northwestern areas of Britain – Scotland, Northern Ireland, Cumbria, North Wales in an unusually powerful June storm, named Hector, on 14 June, bringing down trees and power lines. Windspeeds of 60 to 70 mph may be unprecedented for places like Glasgow at this time of year. – Met Office

Europe: the past week has seen quite extreme weather, with many thunderstorms, intense rainfall and flash flooding affecting parts of France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and Slovakia. The town of Crnomalj in Slovenia was bombarded with golfball-sized hailstones on 8 June.  “A slow-moving storm system brought record heavy rain to parts of northern France between 11 and 12 June, triggering floods in Paris and a landslip that caused a train to derail. Meteo France said that Paris recorded 78 mm of rain in 24 hours, a record for a June day.” Parts of Bavaria recorded over 10 cm of rain in one day. (edited from Floodlist reports).

Portable toilets blowing off in Colorado Park. (The Weather Channel)

USA: The 416 fire burning for two weeks near Durango in Colorado has destroyed over 34 thousand acres of forest and driven many people from their homes. After ten days it was still only 15% contained but as of 17 June, it was reported, heavy rain is slowing its spread. Campers managed to set fire to 500 acres near Carson City, Nevada, while trying to burn the contents of their impromptu latrine in a high wind. 15% contained…

Mexico: 115 mph Tropical Storm Bud brought some respite from the brutal 49 deg. C. heatwave that melted traffic lights and killed 3 people in Guadalajara, which has since experienced flash flooding. Bud is heading up the Baja peninsula and weakening, expected to dissipate over southern California and New Mexico, thence to push on up into the SW states bringing rain to many places currently droughted.

The disorganized system known as Invest 91 is expected to cross the Gulf of Mexico in the next few days, bringing heavy rain to the east coast of Mexico before moving up into Texas and Louisiana, but is not now expected to strengthen into a Harvey-style ‘super-soaker’ hurricane.

There’s been flash flooding in the capital of Panama.

Dust storm adds to killer air quality over New Delhi, 9 June. India has 14 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities.

Northern India has experienced more storms, extreme heat, flooding and landslides. 26 people were reported killed in a dust storm in Uttar Pradesh on the 9th June, many by lightning strikes. The capital, New Delhi continued to swelter in 40 deg. C. heat and was “plunged into darkness” by dust on the 9th.

Meantime, “torrential monsoon rainfall has caused flooding and landslides … As of 14 June, at least 3 people had died and around 36,000 displaced in Assam. … Manipur, where 6 people have died, and Tripura, where at least 3 people have died and 15,000 displaced. … Monsoon rain, strong winds and high waves continue to batter the south western state of Kerala, where 13 people have died in the last few days. Mumbai was deluged, causing travel disruption (edited from Floodlist reports)

Refugees from Myanmar were flooded out of camps in Bangladesh. 12 dead in landslides. Floods in neighboring Myanmar. Typhoon Ewiniar dumped 25cm of rain on Guangdong, China in less than a day.

New Zealand: a “deep subtropical low” brought chaos to parts of North Island on the 12th. Farmland, roads and 1000-plus homes were underwater in the Gisborne and Hawkes Bay areas for the second time in little over a week.

The first signs of an El Niño have been detected in the Pacific.

Climate & Extreme Weather News #125/ BBC News/ UK Met Office/ The Weather Channel

Antarctic: “Ice in the Antarctic is melting at a record-breaking rate and the subsequent sea level rises could have catastrophic consequences for cities around the world, according to two new studies. A report led by scientists in the UK and US found the rate of melting from the Antarctic ice sheet has accelerated threefold in the last five years and is now vanishing faster than at any previously recorded time.” – Guardian, citing an article in Nature.

Mars: a giant dust storm covering a third of the planet has enveloped NASA’s Opportunity rover, which has been slowly trundling about measuring and observing things for 14 years, despite an expected operational life of only weeks. BBC News reports that its grabbing arm is suffering from ‘arthritis’ and the vehicle has gone into ‘sleep’ mode, from which an alarm clock wakes it periodically to check what the weather is like outside.

I imagine it opening one bleary eye, grunting and turning over, gradually its breathing becoming a stertorous snore again; Radio 4 murmuring in the background. It reminds me of the first Wallace and Gromit film, A Grand Day Out, where the pair build a rocket and go to the moon to sample the Wensleydale cheese (from which it is made), only to have to contend with its singular inhabitant, a cantankerous and lonely old gas cooker that has developed an obsession with winter sports.

 

Hitting the buffers

“Dr Adolfo García-Sastre – director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute – told this week how research has discovered that flu viruses are jumping from pigs to dogs and what potential threat that poses to humans after his team’s scientific study appeared in the journal MBIO.

“He explained: ‘The majority of pandemics have been associated with pigs as an intermediate host between avian viruses and human hosts. In this study, we identified influenza viruses jumping from pigs into dogs.’” – (Express)

Warning: this may kill you.

….making Man’s Best Friend, Man’s Newest Lethal Enemy. Cases of doggy deaths are being reported in America, from “H3N8, a virulent, potentially deadly strain of canine influenza that public-health experts say is being spread to the U.S. from infected dogs imported from foreign countries.” (VINNews)

Those damned immigrants again, they’re just animals.

Now comes a suggestion that the new H7N9 version of bird ‘flu that has caused a number of cases in humans in, where else, China, might be the undetermined “Disease X” that the WHO imagines triggering another 1918-style “Spanish ‘Flu” pandemic, with potential for over 30 million casualties, if or more likely when it mutates into a virus that can be transmitted between humans. It has a 38% mortality rate. (Express, 15 June)

We’re a’ doomed. Doomed, I tell ye!

(To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dad’s Army – and Private Fraser, whose catchphrase that was – the Post Office has issued a set of commemorative stamps featuring the principal cast.)

 

No Fly Zone #2

The good news is, blowflies have started appearing in my kitchen.

With deep respect to Follower, Mark C Smith, who writes eloquently of his disgust at flies, the absence of flying insects of all kinds is a cause for worry.

You still see very few out in the valley, even after six weeks of warm weather here in Boglington. It’s like the vegetation, that’s exploded again like last year after a very late start, is just silent, deserted, although my poor old eyes have those black floaters sometimes and I have to check to be sure what I’m seeing flying around isn’t actual insects.

I remember as a young person, a countryside a’buzzin’ and a’flutterin’ with insects. Now it’s silent, almost deserted.

Hunzi’s bone, that he likes to leave out to ripen before consuming, had just three flies around it yesterday. A pack left out, that had contained meat, showed evidence of some eggs the next day.

And there have been a couple of moths around at night, not the weird little clothes moths everyone’s been complaining about, that fall out of packets in the kitchen – proper moths. While my total butterfly count since May has been just 7 whites and 3 browns; maybe half a dozen bees of various kinds, a couple of beetles.

It’s not looking good; but then, I was really concerned about the trees a few weeks ago, that were lifeless and bare, and now look at them. So maybe it’s too early to worry.

I don’t like flies much either, although sometimes one might perch on your knee, looking up at you with their big compound eyes, and almost seem to be wondering intelligently about you; it’s interesting, too, that experiments show they have a different perception of time from us, which is why it’s so hard to swat one with your rolled-up copy of The Oldie.

I seem to be altering my perception of time too. I’m never sure what day it is anymore, they all look the same. I promised a friend on Monday I’d help him out with moving some stuff, Tuesday or was it Wednesday? In the event, it was already Thursday night before I remembered with a guilty start that I’d forgotten all about it. No sooner have I got up, than it seems to be bedtime again.

And nothing done, except maybe this.

Help.

(Once again The BogPo leads the pack… this from The Observer, Sunday 17 June:)

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/17/where-have-insects-gone-climate-change-population-decline

 

Flyzone

No, not a boyband made of flies – southwest Wales, where locals are complaining of a plague of flies – or, winged creatures, as the local paper calls them. (There are numerous Old Testament imaginings enshrined in Welsh culture, even today.)

“Llanelli and neighbouring towns are under attack from an invasion of winged creatures. Some are having to eat meals in their cars and hang up multiple traps to try to catch the flies which have descended in huge numbers.”

(This old subeditor takes it that the writer means “some” people, not – as would be inferred from the subject of the previous sentence – flies, who don’t, obviously, have cars.)

It’s more probable that they haven’t “descended”, like a Biblical plague, but have rather emerged, from their breeding places in the interstices of the door and window-frames of older buildings, where numbers can easily increase into the hundreds.

And it’s odd, because here in Boglington, 65 miles north of Llanelli there aren’t any flies at all. Well, one or two. Maybe they all moved south for the winter.

 

PS Yellowstonezone…

The big Steamboat geyser at Norris Junction may have gone off at the weekend for the tenth time so far this year, on the basis of seismic data. Previously the most times it’s blown in an entire year: 3, in 2003. Sign of rising magma, volcano recharging.

Hawaii: Big Island eruptions continuing, new fissure, huge Mt Kilaueia caldera continues to collapse thousands of feet into the empty magma chamber, triggering M5.1 earthquake. Quake swarm continuing, approaching 10 thousand M1.5 and larger recorded. Still concern that Mauna Loa – world’s largest active volcano – may be next to blow. Some possibility that the whole island has been shifted.

USA: possible signs of incipient volcanism in southern California/Baja Mexico.

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The Pumpkin – Issue 54. Postscriptum: Donny and Kimmy go to Love island… An enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in 100-dollar bills… Long Essay: Farage, the smoking gun?… GW: venturing out nervously in gumboots and respirator.)

…in terms of the scale of its human rights violations, North Korea ‘does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.’

“In its report, the commission said it had found evidence of ‘extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.’”Washington Post, quoting UN Commission on Human Rights 2014 report.

“Really, he’s got a great personality,” Trump (said). “He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart, he’s a great negotiator.” Trump added in the interview that what was not surprising was that Kim: “loves his people.” Kim’s citizens show great “fervor” for their leader. His country does love him.

“You see the fervor” the North Koreans have for Kim, he said. – The Hill

 

“Piss in our time!”

Postscriptum: Donny and Kimmy go to Love island

The Pumpkin has not yet read the full text of the heads of agreement signed by the two dictators in Singapore, as Fox News hostess Abby Huntsman has apologized for accidentally calling them. He doesn’t read much and is waiting for the cartoon version to come out, with maps.

However he notes that no mention seems to have been made, either of human rights violations (in either country) or of South Korea, and any intention to convert the 65-years old armistice into an actual peace treaty, which would have been a relatively simple objective to announce.

This was the “Me too” summit, a Love Island photo op for the two biggest, most fragile egos and the most crooked salesmen on the planet, stitching together a deal to validate their own authoritarian regimes for the consumption of their cowed and worshipful dumbfucks at home.

To put it another way, had they moved too far in the direction of peace and liberality, even if that was the intention, and not just Trump sensing new marketing opportunities (no mention either of the Trump Pyongyang hotel, casino and golf resort? Ed.), although he has praised the beaches and their opportunity for hotel developments, neither dictator could entirely rely on their “nuke ’em now” hawks not to stab them in the front when they get home.

Just sayin’.

PPS it looks like Kimmy got everything he wanted out of their tryst, with Donny now offering to lift sanctions and stop those huge joint military exercises (“expensive”) with the South Koreans, and his power to summon even the American President being made evident to his worshipful people.

“That’s good, then.”

x“With great change comes great opposition.”

An enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in 100-dollar bills

The triumphal Singapore love-fest draws near and Childe Donald, sulking over the disrespect six of the country’s leading international trading partners and global security allies have been showing him in Montreal – a G7 minus-one summit to which the mafioso man-infant turned up insultingly late and left an entire day early, before issuing a tirade of abusive tweets – goes all out to woo the headline writers with almost anything other than news of his henchmen’s indictments at the hands of the remorseless Bob Mueller, whom he seems to be outplaying daily on the PR front.

It’s worth reminding ourselves then that, whatever concessions he wins from Kimmy, or claims to have won, and whether or not the sainted fools of Stockholm award him their joke Peace prize, he is still “Trump”, the compulsive, narcissistically disordered “made-for-TV” cartoon business thug, and not someone to be regarded as normally presidential or creditworthy in any way.

Further evidence of his deep disrespect for the rule of law emerged last week at a meeting of the cabinet in a bunker-like, windowless room in the White House, where he commanded his subordinates to join him in offering their unstinting praise and admiration for his profoundly corrupt EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt – the Butcher of Oklahoma.

Pruitt’s sins pile upon him like Peleon on Mount Ossa. No sooner had we finished reeling from the news that he had ordered an aide to set up a mysterious meeting with the CEO of a fast-food chain called Chick-fil-A, possibly the world’s crappiest ever brand concept, only for it to leak out that the purpose was to use the power of his office to persuade the poor man to give Mrs Pruitt a restaurant franchise because they love the food so much, than we learn that he got his security detail to drive him around the neighborhood drugstores to hunt down a bottle of his favorite body-lotion, as available in Ritz-Carlton hotels; and spent $1500 buying $100 pens for his desktop.

Mr Pruitt has denied what was patently the case, that he waved through tens of thousands of dollars in unearned pay raises to two staffers he brought with him from his previous job as Attorney-General of Oklahoma. He has apparently also spent $3.5 million on additional security personnel, several motorcades above and beyond what his position entitles him to. He has incurred other non-legitimate expenses, such as the $43 thousand he spent on having a bug-proof phone booth installed in his office; blown who-knows how much on private, military and first-class flights for himself and Mrs Pruitt, $40 thousand on a beano with seven of his pet staffers purely for the purpose of persuading the Moroccan government to import propane gas from a private monopoly firm part-owned by a then-Trump cabinet member, the grizzled billionaire Carl Icahn – who was himself obliged to resign over a $30 million ‘windfall’ profit he made selling a company ahead of the President’s announcement on steel tariffs.

The monopoly bottled gas provider, Cheniere Co. of Houston, Texas, also happened to be a client of lobbying firm Williams & Jensen, from whose senior partner’s wife Mr Pruitt was notoriously renting a trashy Washington apartment for the princely sum of fifty bucks a night. Another W&J client is the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge, to whom Pruitt granted a controversial development permit last year. The New York Times reported (2 April, 2018):

“The signoff by the E.P.A. came even though the agency, at the end of the Obama administration, had moved to fine Enbridge $61 million in connection with a 2010 pipeline episode that sent hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and other waterways. The fine was the second-largest in the history of the Clean Water Act.”

An act which Pruitt has been instrumental in abolishing, along with the Clean Air Act and other Obama-era abominations.

Not only is Pruitt existentially shameless and an abuser of his office: he is also showing signs of being barking mad. Another aide is reported to have been briefed by him to investigate the possibility of buying a used mattress from a Trump hotel. Its purpose is yet to be disclosed, but might, The Pumpkin suggests over skinny lattes, involve DNA evidence. He also engages in paranoid secrecy:

“Breaking with all of his predecessors at the E.P.A. for the last 25 years, as well as other members of President Trump’s cabinet, he does not release a list of public speaking events and he discloses most official trips only after they are over. Mr. Pruitt doesn’t hold news conferences, and in one episode, journalists who learned of an event were ejected from the premises after an E.P.A. official threatened to call the police.” (NYT)

Mr Trump has asserted on several occasions that Mr Pruitt is doing “a great job” at the EPA, which still has 700 posts waiting to be filled, where there have been a number of high-profile resignations over his singular management style, and whose scientific research policy is now firmly in the control of energy-sector lobbyists and industry executives. It is not certain therefore what “great job” Mr Pruitt is specifically believed by the President to be doing, other than helping him to dismantle any and all protections previously accorded to the environment, turning America into one vast polluted, overheating shithole. (See GW, below.)

FOI requests from environmental groups such as the Sierra Club are continuing to turn up thousands of official emails demonstrating Pruitt’s extreme avoidance of public scrutiny and his ongoing relationships with large energy-sector corporations.

Pruitt’s grandiloquent response to all this unfounded criticism?

“With great change comes great opposition.”

You bet, Swamp-man.

(Did he get that quote from the i-kerChing? lolz. ed.)

 

Hangin’ up now….

As a little extra fillip to the story, Mr Trump’s fine-dining companion, the equally demented Fox News conspiracy-monger and slum landlord, Sean Hannity went on the record last week publicly urging anyone connected with the Trump administration to smash their cellphones before Mueller can subpoena them.

He hasn’t been arrested for obstructing justice, yet. I’d guess that darned old First Amendment makes a bonfire of Fox’s martyrs unlikely.

Nothin’ to see, move on….

Oh, while I have you on the line, not a lot has been reported in our supine media about the pits-to-pipelines Koch Brothers’ low-key divorce.

Clever workaholic Charles has forced dimmer brother David to take early retirement at 78. The New Yorker magazine reports it should make no difference to their meddling in US politics, just like Russians; a project on which the aged neoCons have lavished billions funding climate-change deniers and buying politicians like Paris Hilton buys chihuahuas.

David, said Charles, 82, with regret, has been “nodding off” in meetings lately and it’s time he settled down for the good of his health. Forbes magazine estimates that each brother (there are more, less famous Koch brothers minding the stove at home) is worth approximately 60 billion dollars, making them only the joint 9th richest men in America.

Way to go.

x

Long Essay

“…that leaves the question: if the Mercers, Banks and other disruptors financed this attempt at a paradigm shift in Western democracy, where do the Russians fit in?”

Farage: the smoking gun?

Whether or not the dogged Guardian/Observer reporter, Carole Cadwalladr brokered the latest twist in the story that she has been pursuing for two years, of where the money to fund the Leave tendency in the European referendum came from, both our most respected Sunday papers have carried front-page news of having “seen evidence” that UKIP founder, Mr Arron Banks, had many meetings at the Russian embassy in London prior to the Brexit vote.*

Not only that, but he was introduced, it’s said, by the ambassador himself to a “Russian businessman” who, in a fairytale twist, offered Banks the opportunity to invest in a company owning six gold mines in Russia. An investment which, it is alleged, Banks was told would net him “billions”. And Mr Banks went on record soon afterwards to vaguely indicate that he had some potential new interest with gold mines, although he now denies having any business interests in Russia.

Now, where have we heard that before? So many elements of this story echo statements, denials and ultimate revelations in America.

What gives the story some credibility is that Mr Banks does in fact partly own gold mines in South Africa, although it is said they are not all that productive. These, and his primary businesses of insuring motorcyclists and other uninsurable vehicle owners, were said to have made his personal net worth a modest £22 million.

OpenDemocracy.org however (and others) has been pursuing the financing of the Brexit vote too, and writes that the authorities in Gibraltar have been somewhat lackadaisically investigating reports that Banks’ businesses – registered there for tax purposes –  were so hard up, they were lending each other money in advance of their audits, in a game of corporate pass-the-parcel.

Somehow, nevertheless, it’s reported that Mr Banks managed to invest £12 million – over half his “net worth” – in funding and loans setting up Leave.EU, an unofficial campaigning vehicle commanded by Nigel Farage, MEP, that has been subjected lately to inquiries concerning some of its untraceable finances, funneled via Northern Ireland’s militant Protestant party, the DUP, who seem immune from investigation as a result of their £1.5 billion deal with the May government to boost her tiny Commons majority. Money well spent, given Mrs May’s close-run thing resisting Brexit amendments proposed by the House of Lords.

What all this is leading to, is the conclusion that Russians made substantial contributions to derailing Britain’s relationship to the European Union.

It is not really a surprising conclusion, but as Mr Banks now appears to have lied to Parliament about his connections with the Russian government, and has an opportunity shortly to go back before the toothless culture committee to set the record straight, we may be starting to understand something of the giant conspiracy that resulted in Britain’s fumbling, ill-advised attempts in a fast-changing global environment to withdraw from a complex raft of mutually supportive and largely useful treaties negotiated over many years with our European neighbours.

As Mr Banks is at the second stage of denial – so important is he, in his view, that he may have had “drinks” with the Russian ambassador a couple of times and exchanged a bit of bantz around the samovar – it may take a while, we lack the American dynamism, but clearing away the acrid smoke pouring from the blog of  the juvenile director of the rival official Vote Leave campaign, Mr Dominic Cummings (who, like Mr Trump, is having difficulty getting over the fact that he won), we should eventually get to the truth of how the referendum was fixed.

That will, of course, depend also on whatever is ultimately discovered about the role of Cambridge Analytica, Aggregate IQ and others in using stolen data to micro-target wavering voters with personalized anti-EU messages. A difficult process, depending as it does on whistleblowers competing with corporate liars, and egregious breaches of the Data Protection Acts of many nations.

(One wonders, too, who exactly is behind enormous data breaches, like that revealed by Dixon’s Carphone Warehouse this morning, of five million customer records; data theft that never seems to result in actual criminal actions but which presumably provides someone with a mass of consumer information?)

Multi-billionaire US hedge-fund manager and computer whizz, Bob Mercer gives no interviews and seemingly does not regard himself as a member of the human race, as he never responds to questions, but is alleged to have said at one time that he and his Sarah Palin-lookalike daughter Bekah were attempting to build a “radical free-market, small-government, home-schooling, antiliberal, gold-standard, pro-death penalty, anti-Muslim, pro-Christian, monetarist, anti-civil-rights political movement in the United States.” (London Evening Standard, 23 March, 2018.)

It seems they were also hoping to build one here.

Because if there is a “smoking gun” in the FBI and Justice Department investigations of Russian collusion and US corporate interference in the 2016 elections, it is Nigel Farage himself, declared last year a “person of interest”.

Farage is the obvious link, the go-between for disruptors hoping to swing the Brexit vote and the highly dodgy crew of chancers working with the Trump campaign. Funded by Banks, with cash from who-knows what source, Farage was connected with Mercer, of whom he was frequently said to be an unlikely “friend”; with Bannon and the Breitbart crowd; with Trump personally, at whose rallies he made over-the-top ultraconservative speeches and with whom he was gleefully photographed in the Golden Elevator at Trump Tower; and with Assange, whose Wikileaks organization fenced the data stolen by the Russian GRU from emails in the private files of Clinton, Podesta, Weiner and the Democratic party.

This veritable Zelig has popped up at every stage of the conspiracy on both sides of the pond. Perhaps he needs to be looked at more closely by the security establishment: unfortunately, despite the belated creation of the National Crime Agency, we have far weaker investigative bodies in this country even than in the United States; preferring to rely on 1940s “Dixon of Dock Green” community policing and barely sentient Parliamentary committees to solve immensely complex and sophisticated international crimes.

The Mercers of course funded Breitbart News, several of whose contributors, including the atavistic Hungarian neo-Nazi party supporter, Gorka the Gormless, and Bannon himself were injected by Mercer into the early Trump administration. They funded Cambridge Analytica, whose bullshitting fantasist Old Etonian CEO Stephen Nix has given up denying the testimony of his former executives that they stole data from the accounts of 87 million Facebook users in the USA, with the help of an Anglo-Russian computer analyst.

They also funded the Trump campaign, to the tune of many millions of dollars; giving the lie to his oft-repeated claim that because he was so rich, he was financing his own campaign. Of course he wasn’t.

But now the Mercers have withdrawn from the whole thing in disappointment, disavowing Bannon and the creeps and charlatans who conned them into supporting the Brexit and Elect Trump! conspiracies. It seems they are deeply disappointed in how liberal and progressive Trump has turned out to be. I wonder where they will turn their attentions next?

But that leaves the question: if the Mercers, Banks and other disruptors (see previous Posts) financed this attempt at a paradigm shift in Western democracy, where do the Russians come in? Were they in league?

You know, at this point my shoulders slump and I think maybe it’s time to walk the dog.

Seventeen US intelligence agencies signed their anonymous names to a report stating unequivocally that “Russia” was involved in hacking emails and in testing the water when it came to exploiting data from the voter rolls (possibly to assist the Republicans to edit the voter rolls in marginal wards) and possibly fixing the US’s poorly designed computerized voting lobbies. The FBI has asserted that they now have proof of over 60 contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian diplomatic/intelligence agencies and individuals during 2015/16. Contacts that were extensively lied about, even by the President himself.

Numerous media investigations have shown, pretty much beyond doubt, that Trump had business connections and aspirations in Moscow, and longstanding relations with corrupt oligarchs and property investors suspected of involvement with organized crime in Russia. The Special Counsel, Bob Mueller has indicted 14 Russian individuals and three companies in relation to election tampering and money-laundering, in association with Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, a sometime consultant to the ousted Ukrainian kleptocrat Victor Yanukovitch, who faces charges of money-laundering, acting as an undeclared foreign agent, witness-tampering and fraud.

Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Gen. Mike Flynn, has already been indicted on charges of lying to the FBI and acting as an undeclared foreign agent for, among others, Russian business interests. A special team on the Trump campaign tasked with tracing Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails was set up in the wake of the 6 June, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Jr, Manafort, Jared Kushner and a team of Russian money-laundering specialists, GRU agents and the Kremlin lawyer, Veselnitskaya – who later attended Trump’s inauguration. That team of hackers, one of them Russian-speaking, reported directly to Flynn.

Then there was the Steele dossier, a 35-page compendium of current allegations by Russian officials and MI6 assets in Moscow concerning the President, mostly prior to his candidacy, commissioned originally by the Never Trump! wing of the Republican campaign and then passed on to the FBI and the Democrat election committee. Most of it has checked out to be true, and led to gleeful media speculation that Trump is profoundly compromised, either by a sexual scandal or his huge debts to banks ultimately controlled by Putin – possibly both.

It’s all looking pretty murky.

When the name George Papadopoulos emerged early on as that of someone on the Trump team who had made a bargain with the Devil, the Mueller investigation, to lighten the charge against him of lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts, the general reaction was “George who?”

Mr Trump also expressed total ignorance of Mr Papadopoulos’ existence, until video emerged of a committee meeting at which the guy was plainly seated just four places down the table from the Orange Emperor himself. Trump then changed his story, claiming Papadopoulos was only the office boy who fetched the coffee.

In fact, and can we call him “P.” from now on, my fingers hurt, George P. is of importance in two significant ways.

P. claims he was approached in London early in 2016 by a mysterious “Bulgarian professor”, in fact an FSB agent who told him that over 30 thousand of Hillary Clinton’s private and official State Department emails had been deleted from a private server, and the Russians had gained knowledge of their existence. Later, while mildly drunk in a bar, P. says he let the story slip to a junior attache from the Australian embassy, who had passed it on via his superiors to Australian intelligence, who in turn told the FBI, thus triggering the Feds’ interest in the Trump campaign team’s contacts with the Russians – or the “witch hunt”, as Trump insists on dismissing it at every opportunity.

Nothin’ to see, folks. North Korea? Sure, why not?

Despite Trump’s latest conspiracy theory he can’t let go, that an FBI “spy” was in his camp during the summer of 2016, it seems loose-lipped, mildly drunken George P. was the man responsible for the whole can of worms, the “Russia thing” opening up. Perhaps.

Except that Dutch intelligence, I believe, and subsequently the Czechs, the French, the Germans, the Spanish and Britain’s GCHQ listening post had all intercepted and been monitoring calls between Trump associates Roger Stone, Carter Page, maybe also Michael Cohen, Flynn, Manafort and others, and Russian intelligence agents since the summer of 2015, and had told the FBI long before George P.’s leak, only for President Obama to tell them to sit on the story so as not to be seen to be interfering in the upcoming presidential election; thus giving Trump the plausible assertion that it was all a plot against him, cooked up by the criminal Clinton campaign.

Make of that what you will, it’s where the Pumpkin and I run into soft sand and head off for a cold beer.

The second area of interest in the boy, George may be that, far from being the office gopher, people have already forgotten in the never-ending melee of Trump-related bullcrap that P. was on the team originally as an environmental advisor. An alumnus of the powerful Hudson Institute, a notorious energy-industry-funded think-tank dedicated to burying climate-change science, George P. was working as a lobbyist for a Texas-based company, Noble Energy, in which Trump was reportedly a minor shareholder.

Now, Noble in turn was lobbying the Israeli government over a franchise to exploit natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of Israel – but more importantly, the coast of the Gaza strip, making the project a political and legal nightmare. The case was dragging slowly through the Israeli courts, and P.’s presence in the Trump/Kushner camp was clearly designed to use their personal connections with Netanyahu to speed things up; while Noble were also hoping to construct an undersea pipeline to Europe, via the Turkish end of Cyprus, bypassing Russian and Iranian-controlled Syria. Was that what Gen. Flynn’s PR company was being paid by a Dutch businessman with energy industry connections to lobby for with the Erdogan regime in Turkey?

As it turned out, the whole deal collapsed when Israel decided to sell its gas to Egypt instead.

The words Russia and Iran are, of course, synonymous with enormous gas reserves, Russia being the largest supplier of natural gas to Germany and western Europe. In addition to the strategic implications, both nations would, one imagines, be keen to stymie competition from Israeli and American interests in the region; while American and Israeli animus towards Russia’s ally, Iran, can be framed in terms of competition for global markets for their vital energy resource.

Neither your Uncle B. nor The Pumpkin has the brains to work out how all this fits together, so we’ve ordered another beer.

Back in London, languishing in the basement of the Ecuadorean embassy, a fugitive from an EU arrest warrant, which is probably why he was happy to work against them, is the Great White Worm, Assange – an arrogant, self-publicizing, self-pitying narcissist, another “friend” of Farage and fulcrum-point for all kinds of internet mischief.

His Wikileaks operation has, admittedly, broken some useful evidence (the Snowden files) of the other global conspiracy, that of the US “Deep State” and their intrusive surveillance operations, which we are slowly realizing are irreversibly intertwined with the commercial interests of the major internet service providers; hence, the theft of data from Facebook and its weaponization for political purposes.

Nevertheless it was Wikileaks that collaborated with the Russians and the Cambridge Analytica/Mercer nexus to undermine the Clinton presidential bid, with Farage – who “does not remember” the purpose of their meetings – acting as go-between for the Trump campaign and Assange.

And then to complete the Big Picture – more like an enormous, deflating barrage balloon – there are the activities of European alt-right, “white supremacist” Christian disruptors.

Some are plainly financed by Russian oligarchs allied both to the Kremlin and to the Orthodox Church; and from the money-laundering scams (mainly through overinflated property markets controlled by, among others, the Trump and Kushner families) of actors like Deutsche Bank, to whom Trump allegedly owes a third of a billion dollars; and Bank of Cyprus, formerly owned by ex-Deutsche Bank chairman Joseph Ackermann and – among other major investors, mostly Russian -Trump family ‘consiglieri’ and now US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross.

Another of BoC’s investors, Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, the “Fertilizer King”, was involved in a suspicious Florida property deal that netted Trump a clear $45 million, and seems to have attended at least one of Trump’s election rallies; the one at which he went off-script to announce that the USA would not, under his presidency, be arming the Ukraine government forces against the Russians. (He now says he feels sure he would only have to ask Vladimir privately to leave the Ukraine alone, and he would.)

And among these white European disruptors, as the BogPo has reported before, are several deeply conservative British “millionaire businessmen” like Banks, with anti-Islamic Russian and other East European connections – Banks’ wife is Russian – like Jim Dowson, and other wealthy, self-interested business tycoons and investment managers with declared hostility to the European Union, its supposedly repressive legislative, anti-business, pro-tax regime, its equality agenda promoting women and gays, and its willingness to tolerate a large Muslim presence in our midst.

It’s a vast and rambling conspiracy to defraud the voters of Britain, the USA and other countries where we have seen the fingerprints of Russian interference in democratic processes – with the proviso that Russia is not the only bad actor in this scene, there are these traitors in our midst, imagining that their duty is to cleanse the Augean stables: the obsession of authoritarian paranoiacs down the ages.

I doubt there is even a mastermind behind it: it’s rather a movement of the wealthy against the poor, the degenerates and the despised “ethnic minorities”, planning to leave themselves in command of a depleted but nonetheless still materially gratifying world redesigned for their kind: powerful, white and Christian.

And there bobbing about like a cork at the heart of it all is Farage, although he claims now to be hors de combat and is making self-pitying noises about being separated, broke and soon to be jobless. While the UK media puzzles over the emerging evidence of a Russian connection to Brexit, few people as yet seem to be joining the dots and realizing it is all connected; and that the real collusion with Russia has been that involving the billionaires who control our data.

If there is a smoking gun proving collusion between Trump and the Russians, it’s Farage, the man in the Golden Elevator.

Going down?

Now I think another beer is in order.

*According to Private Eye, sometime Sunday Times hackette, Isobel Oakeshott, author of the Brexit Bad Boys, a semi-biography of Banks, had been sitting on evidence of his visits to the Russian embassy for several months and was pissed off when Cadwalladr broke the story, so she gave the info to the ST as a spoiler.

Miaow.

Writing in the Guardian, Monday 11 June, Matthew D’Ancona says:

“We have known for two years that Arron Banks, the pro-Brexit tycoon, and his closest henchman, Andy Wigmore, visited the Russian embassy in November 2015, just as we have long been aware of the links between Leave.EU and the Trump campaign. What has now been revealed is the sheer scale of these contacts – including a lunch between Banks, Nigel Farage and Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador, just three days after the Leave.EU team had been granted an audience with president-elect Trump in November 2016.

“It appears that there were multiple meetings between Banks, Wigmore and senior Russian officials between 2015 and 2017. … This does not seem, in other words, to be routine schmoozing or glad-handing. It has the whiff of a nexus, suggesting a purpose, or multiple purposes.”

x

Wailing and gnashing

“Greetings from Amazon.co.uk.

“We are writing to confirm that we are processing your refund in the amount of £10.79 for your Order from Amazon US. This amount has been credited to your payment method and will appear when your bank has processed it. This refund is for the following item(s): (etc.)

“Reason for refund: Damaged during transit.”

But I have not asked for a refund! I have not yet received the Order! There must be some mistake! The Order (a rare Chet Baker album) was only dispatched last night for 20 June delivery! I have no idea whether the Order has been damaged in transit or not!

And Amazon offers you no way to contact them to ask what the fuck is going on, other than an infuriating “we put the words in your mouth” FAQ. (Was this helpful? No. Well, tough, thanks for the info, we will use jt to improve our services.” Cunts!

Jeff Fucking World’s Richest Man Baldy Bezos, are you there? Hello, anyone? Help!

x

GW: venturing out nervously in gumboots and respirator

Pacific: The Western Hemisphere’s first major event of 2018 is Hurricane Aletta. “Aletta put on a remarkable display of rapid intensification overnight Thursday (7 June), with the winds increasing by 70 mph in just 24 hours. Aletta was merely a tropical storm with 70 mph winds at 11 am EDT Thursday, but by Friday at 11 am, the hurricane had morphed into a fierce Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds.” Its forecast track is out into the colder waters of the Pacific with little chance of it making landfall anywhere; although an identical feature is forming just a few hundred miles behind. It’s the sixth earliest Cat 4/5 ever recorded in the Eastern Pacific basin, kicking off aways from the coast of Mexico. (The Weather Channel)

Gulf of Mexico: On the other side, a relatively low-key storm now blowing between the Yucatan peninsula and Cuba has a terrifying prognosis, a possible repeat of last year’s “super-soaker” Hurricane Harvey. Several NOAA hurricane center models show it picking up rotation in the Gulf, developing winds up to 120 mph with a huge precipitation potential, as a very slow moving Cat 3 or 4 hurricane stalling for possibly 24 hours over the Texas/Louisiana coastline at Beaumont by next Saturday pm, 16 June. (Satellite forecast as noticed by weather blogger, MrMBB333)

…. 11 June: “Mexico’s weather service warned yesterday of storms, heavy rain and strong winds … as Tropical Storm Bud intensified into a (115 mph) hurricane. Coastal areas were also warned of storm surge of up to 3 metres. Severe weather affected parts of Jalisco state in Mexico during the afternoon of 10 June. Areas around the city of Guadalajara were the worst affected. Around 65 mm of rain fell in just a few hours on Sunday afternoon. Elsewhere, heavy rain was recorded in the state of Guerrero, where 97 mm of rain fell in 24 hours.” (edited from Floodlist) (This is the system closely following Aletta, on Mexico’s east coast. Its forecast track takes it straight up the Baja peninsula towards California.)

Africa: The death toll from heavy rain and flooding across Kenya, where it has been raining since March, has risen to 186. An estimated 800,000 people have been affected by flooding. As many as 300,000 people have been displaced and nearly 100 injured, … heaviest rain recorded in 50 years. (edited from Floodlist)

China: Up to 250 mm rain from Typhoon Ewiniar in 24 hrs triggered landslides in the city of Yunfu, causing houses to collapse, killing 5 people. 1 person is still missing. 73 thousand people were evacuated ahead of the storm. Ewiniar made landfall in Hainan and Guangdong earlier in the week, bringing heavy rain and strong winds. It then moved back into the South China sea before making a third landfall, again in Guangdong, on 07 June. The storm had earlier caused heavy rain in parts of Vietnam, with landslides and flooding. (edited from Floodlist)

Europe: Severe weather, including heavy rain and flooding, has continued in France and at least 2 people are thought to have died in the last two days. After hitting northern areas, in particular Brittany and Normandy, earlier this week, flooding has now affected areas of southwestern France. Heavy rain from 05 to 06 June caused major flooding in parts of northeastern Spain. Emergency services in Catalonia received over 300 calls for assistance during 06 June. (edited from Floodlist)

Arctic: UK Business Insider reports (08 June):

“The Trump administration said on Thursday it would spend $4 million on construction projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in preparation for oil drilling in the nation’s biggest wildlife park.

“The tax-overhaul bill passed by the U.S. Congress last December includes a provision mandating two oil lease sales, each offering at least 400,000 acres (161,874.26 hectares), within seven years.

“The 19-million-acre (7.7 million-hectare) Arctic refuge, the largest in the U.S. national wildlife refuge system, contains some of the wildest territory in North America.”

Your Granny wonders idly, which of many scandals, tweets, Mueller indictments and presidential gaffes covered in the fake news media last Thursday enabled the EPA to bury that news?

Boglington-on-Sea: Guys, it’s been really hot here. Occasional light shower, but mostly sun the past six weeks. Not normal for Wales!

x

Terminal news

Hawaii: A USGS report on the Mount Kilauea eruption reveals that “6 to 9 million cubic meters of magma” is spewing DAILY from Fissure 8 alone, and the event could continue for years or decades, presumably rendering much of Big Island uninhabitable, while producing a new island off the coast. Many people evacuated over the past few weeks will never be able to go home.

The island’s second largest freshwater lake has been boiled dry by a lava flow. Acid rain is killing off swathes of forest and vegetation cover. The vast crater within the caldera of the main volcano is collapsing in on itself, with accompanying explosions. A new eruption on Thursday morning (7 June) accompanied by a M5.6 quake produced a 10 thousand feet-high ash cloud and filled the air with tiny particles of glass, triggering a warning to residents to get indoors. (Mary Greeley/ Dutchsinse/ News US/ USGS)

Southern Africa: 9 of the only 60 known oldest Baobab trees in the world have died, prompting speculation that the changing climate is making conditions too harsh for them. The iconic, oddly-shaped, flowering trees were between 1,500 and 2,500 years old and the largest reached 100 feet in height and 35 meters in girth. (Guardian, citing Nature Plants journal)

Nature Bats Last: in his latest podcast, the world’s most depressing – and terminally depressed – man, professor emeritus of natural resources and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona (suspended from teaching!), Dr Guy McPherson warns us that the coming financial crash – September is the favorite time for financial crashes – will so reduce global industrial activity that the protective blanket of smog around the earth will rapidly fade away, leaving us exposed to the full glare of the sun, as it did for three days when commercial aviation was suspended in the aftermath of 9/11. Runaway warming will ensue within days, he advises, wiping out all life on earth.

We have four months remaining of human history.

If you’re still not depressed, follow this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03kwgj0

 

 

 

 

 

The Saga saga continues… Whereverland… GW: staggering about with a large watering-can as the garden withers in the sunshine… Last Knockings… No Countryside for Young Men…

Welcome to my 700th post!

The editor coughs and then nervously speaks up, addressing his diehard fanbase:

“Lazies and gemmun, yesterday evening while composing a long email in reply to an old friend, just as I was signing it off, I seem to have accidentally stroked the keys to the secret combination of letters and commands upon which this, muh li’l HP laptop has yet again and probably for the last time mistaken my intentions and irreversibly dumped the entire text (bar five tantalizing letters of the first word).

In my mildly drunken frustration, as you do, I slammed down the lid and, with a bloodcurdling oath, solidly struck it a mortal blow with my clunking right fist.

It’s in a very delicate state today, half the time it addresses me in System 32 startup mode with wounded, gloomy messages telling me it doesn’t think I’ve got an operating system installed, or that the hard drive is missing and it can’t reboot. So I may need to acquire a new machine from PC World later… if no more Postings emerge for a while you’ll know why.”

-UB

“And this is where we throw our dissidents out…” Secretary Pompeo entertains a party of North Korean diplomats before introducing them to shopping.

The Saga saga continues

Fans of the definitive Scandi-noir drama The Bridge will have welcomed the start of a new series, although perhaps not its new Friday BBC 2 scheduling giving us only one episode a week instead of BBC 4’s Saturday night double helping, during which you could put your feet up and get properly mildly drunk without having to get up in the morning.

It was, excuse me for saying, an idiotic decision, probably born of desperation to harden-up the lacklustre Friday night schedules, but more likely to reduce the program’s ratings.

But there’s one thing that continues to puzzle your Uncle Bogler, and that’s the curious lyrics to the obligatory wailing castrato theme song with doom-laden cello accompaniment. As best I can transcribe them, they go:

Echo starters in crossing moon

Children noises that come too soon

Special Moomin that seem to hear

Decimating a mask of fear

Hollow talking in hollow girl

Voicing out from a mound of pain

Never said it was goo, never said it was smeary

Shadow rises and you are here

And everything… goes back to the beginning.

I’m hoping one or two of the near-record 41 Viewers who visited this, muh bogl, on Sunday, obviously having nothing better to watch on TV – or maybe one of my Followers, Stalkers, Spammers or Those Not Reading This Anymore – maybe my handler at GCHQ – will enlighten me as to what the hell it means, and why the Swedes, who all speak impeccable English, couldn’t find a less drug-addled lyricist? Were Benny and Bjorn out of the country?

I’m also curious to know how it is that there’s always a parking space right outside the Malmö cop shop’s front door whenever Saga screeches up in her battered old Porsche 911 ‘S’*, in that hideous shade of greeny-yellow? (52% of fans will now tweet that they identify as perceiving the color to be maroony-puce – don’t bother, I haven’t got a Twitter account.)

And why nobody, not even her mournful new boss, seems to intuit that she’s way, way up on the autism spectrum but just think she’s a bit, well, offputting. How insensitive do you have to be to get a job with the Swedish police?

One wonders, finally, if she ever gets those sweaty old leather pants dry-cleaned?

Mucky girl.

*After four series, the car at last got a mention last night from a random garage mechanic, so we have established a) that it is a 911 ‘S’, not just any old 911, and b) that Saga won it in a bet that she wouldn’t survive the police academy training course, from a superior who is now the Commissioner of Police. I suspect this was a somewhat heavy-handed joke at someone’s expense. The last thing we need in a tense crime drama shot entirely under lowering skies is political satire.

x

Journey to Whereverland

Speaking of sagas, Melania Trump has resurfaced after three weeks of speculation concerning her exact whereabouts following her minor kidney procedure, the odds-on favorite theory being that she had done a bunk to get out of the gropey clutches of the demented old Orange Husband while images of him grunting and sweating over Stormy Daniels’ recumbent corpse are still fresh..

“Melania Trump has tweeted to address speculation about her health, after not being seen in public for 20 days. “I’m here at the White House with my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!” the US first lady tweeted.” – Guardian report.

The Pumpkin remarks without conviction that he expects the hard work she is doing “on behalf of children” involves tracking down the more than 1,500 minors who are simply “missing” after being forcibly removed from their parents by her husband’s ICE gestapo at the US-Mexico border, where two US citizens were arrested last week for “speaking Spanish”. (Great Monty Python fans, the Americans.)

It seems the official childcare regime into which the diminutive liar, Attorney-General Sessions claims children as young as four have to be put as they are considered to be at risk from their parents (all border immigration is now illegal, so just by turning up asking for asylum a crime has been committed, therefore the children must be put in care for their own protection, runs the logic) doesn’t in fact exist. No-one seems to be in charge, no-one even knows where the children have been placed, or in whose tender care, and what happens to them next.

Or, as the devoutly Christian Vice-President Mike Pence calls the unknown realm of these forcible outplacements, “wherever”.

This Trump regime is so utterly banal, so useless, so vicious and vindictive, that it has to end peacefully, now or – as many commentators fear – it will end in bloodshed.

x

GW: staggering about with a large watering-can as her garden withers in the unaccustomed sunshine

USA: As “6 to 10 in.” of rain falls in two hours, Civil War-heritage Ellicott City in Maryland has suffered a “once-in-a-thousand-years”-size flood over the weekend.

For the second time since July 2016.

Once in a millennium: Ellicott City floods twice in 22 months. (Baltimore Sun/AP)

“Brown water rushed through Ellicott City’s historic Main Street, toppling buildings and upending cars, as the nearby Patapsco River swelled to a record-breaking level. In some areas, water levels reached above the first floor of buildings.” 30 people were rescued, a National Guardsman is missing. More rain is expected. – CNN

At time of writing, Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto is still out in the Gulf, contemplating an assault on Panama City, Fla. as a near-hurricane, just to the east of New Orleans. Forecasters suggest with 31 deg. C sea temperature off the coast, it’s holding maybe 10 in. to a foot of rain. Storm totals of 25” in Cuba are not out of the question.

2 journalists killed by a tree while covering the storm in N Carolina, where there are fears for the safety of the Lake Tahoma dam after a landslide. Central midwestern states posted record May highs over the weekend, up to 96F, 36C.

Puerto Rico: “The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM, open-access paper) reported that the death toll from Hurricane Maria was likely far greater than any estimates to date. The study’s initial estimate of the death toll through December 2017 was 4,645, but when adjusted for household-size factors (see below), the revised best estimate was 5,740, with a 95% confidence range that somewhere between 1,506 and 9,889 people died as a result of Maria in 2017. (Report: Wunderground, 29 May)”

Most of those deaths are post-hurricane “excess mortality”, attributed to the utterly inadequate response of US authorities, led by the self-congratulatory shitbrains, Donald Trump, to the destruction of the US island’s infrastructure.

Get rid of him.

Cuba: floods. 22 thousand evacuated ahead of SubTropical Storm Alberto now moving north-eastward, up Florida and over midwestern states, dumping a lot of rain.

Oman: Cyclone Mekunu… “High waves and torrential rain caused wide areas of flooding in Dhofar and Al Wusta governorates. Social media images showed torrents of flood water racing along the streets of Salalah (and an incredible cascade of water pouring off the mountain behind). By early 26 May, Salalah had recorded 278.2 mm of rain. … the city would normally see around 95 mm of rain in a whole year. …risk of flash flooding from further heavy rain through the weekend (26-28 May). High waves and storm surge continue to be a risk, with wave heights of 5 and 8 meters expected.” – edited from Floodlist quoting local authorities. Only 2 casualties were reported, 10 thousand people having been evacuated in advance of the unusual Cat 2 hurricane (now downgraded to TS).

Ethiopia: 16 die in flash flooding and landslides the afternoon of Wednesday 23 May. Houses, roads and vehicles are damaged.

India: 3 die in violent storm causing flooding. Local observers said that Panambur in Karnataka province recorded 334 mm of rain to early 30 May, 2018, breaking the previous high of 330.8 mm set in 1982. Roads around the city were inundated, bringing traffic to a standstill and damaging homes and businesses. Many people were left trapped in their homes or vehicles.

Mercury in Churu, Rajasthan hits 47.3C, 117.4F. Continuing 40C-plus heatwave in Pakistan tops out in Karachi at 48C, 118F.

China: Hong Kong heatwave continuing, 35C-plus (96F) in the city, and over 38C, 100F in places) – reservoirs drying up. 4 injured as ‘small’ tornado wreaks havoc in Jilin.

Malaysia: a man and his daughter are swept away in flash flood in Kulim.

Indonesia: Town of Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan underwater after heavy rain.

Europe: heatwave brings on powerful storms, flash flooding, big hail and much lightning… over 400 thousand bolts counted. France, Germany, Spain – massive hailstorms.

Turkey: city of Bursa underwater. Residents of Ankara clear up after 18 inches of hail buries streets in ice.

UK: 80-year old man dies after driving into floodwater in Walsall, north of Birmingham, Sunday 27 May. Up to a meter of flooding occurred locally in the West Midlands and across into Wales at the weekend after torrential rain. Over 150 thousand lightning bolts were counted in a 24-hr period as storms made their way northwards from France.

Tuesday 29th: “Thunderstorms and flash-flooding have brought parts of south-east England to a standstill as the region received a month’s worth of rain in a few hours.” – BBC News. 31 May, the forecast is for more, with amber warnings.

MrMBB333/ CNN/ BBC News/ Floodlist/ Wunderground/ CEWN #122, #123

 

Last Knockings

Yellowstone: We haven’t reported much lately from the Great Outdoors, but you should perhaps know that the Blessed Mary Greeley identifies a number of areas of continually rising ground, intruding magma and increasing surface temperatures; also continuing ‘drumbeats’ and harmonic tremors; together with new gaps in the information record – finagling of the seismometers and spectrograms – in the reports of the USGS and University of Utah monitoring services.

The largest geyser in the park, known as the Steamboat, normally erupts every 1 to 10 years. The last time it erupted three times in a year was in 2003. So far this year it’s blown off steam EIGHT times.

Some concern is being reported as the USGS has finally admitted to a potentially destabilizing “slow slip” of the 600 miles of faults between Vancouver island to the north, on the Cascadia fault, and southern California’s San Andreas, where there are continuing swarms of earthquakes and tremors, many associated with drilling and fracking operations.

Hawaii: the Mt Kilaueia/Pu’u O’o eruption is continuing apace. Signs of geological activity in the Mauna Loa volcano, largest on Big Island – largest active volcano, indeed, on earth – including a M3.2 earthquake, may be worrying for the scientists at the 9-thousand-feet-up observatory, from where global CO2 levels are officially measured. Some are fearing a catastrophic landslip of the SE corner of the island as the 23 vents that have opened up around Leilani Estates, spewing magma into people’s gardens and cutting off roads, join up. Geologists snort in derision.

The USGS has advised residents (in response to an actual query) that roasting marshmallows over volcanic lava is possibly not a good idea. Meanwhile a cloud of poisonous SO2 and other gases from Hawaii is being monitored over Guam, 4 thousand miles away, and health warnings issued.

Ebola: “An outbreak confirmed on 8 May had already claimed the lives of 12 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as of yesterday, with a total of 35 confirmed cases. A vaccination program aimed at health workers and friends and relatives of confirmed cases got underway today”, 30 May. – Express.

Nipah: “The Nipah virus was first reported in the northern district of Kozhikode, India on May 19 and has since spread to the neighbouring Malappuram district in Kerala. Officials have yet to confirm the origin of the outbreak, but it is spreading between humans. The first fatal cases were reported on Saturday from a family in Kozhikode, as two brothers in their late 20s and their 50-year-old aunt died from the virus.” A soldier who died may also have contracted the virus. – Express.

Tufts website reports: Spread by bats and transmissible between humans, “The virus causes severe brain swelling … and in some cases respiratory disease, and typically kills three-quarters of the people infected.” Although 100% mortality has been reported in some outbreaks. That makes it more deadly than Ebola, or the pneumonic plague in Madagascar this year. 16 cases have so far been confirmed in the current outbreak.

 

No Countryside for Young Men

Your Uncle Bogler has frequently alluded to the dramatic fall in numbers of flying insects – other than small clouds of gnats along the path on warm evenings – in the exurban river valley that passes for our local park, a multi-use greenspace offering a range of habitats between the town and the industrial estate.

Only last night, sitting up in bed drinking my warm milk (I’m quite elderly!), I wondered – exactly as Kevin Rushby, the author of a Guardian piece today has been wondering – where the usual annoying moth has disappeared to, that would normally be flapping inchoately around my bedside light, with the windows open on a 20-deg. C early summer night?

Of course, the fragile silvery clothes-moths are still there: whenever I open a packet of dog meal or cornflakes or something in a kitchen cupboard, usually one or two fall out and stagger around, having never learned to fly.

The buttercups are incredible this year.

A couple of days ago I saw one Small (or Large, hard to tell)-White butterfly emerge from a small patch of woodland I call the ‘tree museum’, on the edge of our local playing fields, and was mildly lifted when three more suddenly burst out from cover, dancing madly over the weed-strewn road verge. It’s a good year for dock, some are up to my waist. And the buttercups are incredible. But where are the insects? Rushby reports:

“Over a quarter of all British birds are under threat, eight species are almost extinct. Three-quarters of all flying insects have disappeared since 1945, including a staggering 60 different moths. Orchid ranges have shrunk by half; two species are gone. The State of Nature 2016 report described Britain as being ‘among the most nature-depleted countries in the world’.”

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/31/herbicides-insecticides-save-british-countryside-meaows (sic)

Rushby concludes, the agrichemical industry is to blame. I find this curious, as there is no arable farming within many miles of our valley on which pesticides and herbicides might be widely used; while the combination of ancestral and plantation woodland, heath and marsh, riverbank and meadowland – and, of course, upland grazing – ought to support a rich variety of wildlife.

Instead, I observe only diminishing numbers of squirrels, rabbits, pigeons, thrushes, blackbirds, magpies and jackdaws, sparrows – starlings and, in winter, a flock of about 50 plovers that descends on the cricket ground to peck at the leatherjackets there. And this year, so far, almost no flying insects; we’ve seen fewer than half a dozen bees all year, although the flowers they feed on were over a month behind, thanks to the late frosts.

But then I think of those intensively managed playing fields; the scorched verges of the paths, burned by liberal applications of Council glyphosate; the trim suburban gardens, kept neat by liberal applications of this or that, the sheds with their shelves of half-used tins, bottles and sprays. (I confess, even I have had to resort to surreptitious spraying over the fence of my late neighbour’s unkempt garden, that has been threatening to invade with perennial weeds and ivy.)

It seems clear that there is a feedback loop involved in the breeding cycles: declining numbers in intensively managed areas leading directly to declining numbers elsewhere. There are temporal disconnects too, as insects and plants that evolved over millions of years to emerge co-dependently together at certain times of the year are forced apart by the warming climate and the chaotic weather patterns it’s producing.

Then there is the never-ceasing roar of traffic from the main road nearby; and the probably confusing electromagnetic soup enveloping the mostly young women giving a running commentary on their frustrations to some unseen distant and long-suffering friend or family member as they wheel their prams along the cycle paths, where young lovers sit three feet apart, morosely texting their mates.

But all is not entirely lost: numbers can recover. Rushby gasps in amazement as he enters a part of Yorkshire where intensive conservation efforts have produced wildlife-rich woods and meadows much as they were in my youth, teeming with insects, birds and flowers; commenting that he now feels cheated by the apparent normality of the ‘green desert’ we have become used to referring to as ‘countryside’ everywhere else.

Hopes are now pinned on the remarkable conversion of one politician: Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, our new and unexpected champion of diversity and moderation in the use of chemical suppressants and promoters.

We’ll see.

 

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

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

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

x

Grenfell

A bonfire of the sanities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just magic it away.

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

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

Sometimes people are too clever for their own good.

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

x

A Letter to Rex Tillerson

Former US Secretary of State, retd.

Dear Mr Secretary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The deal, I believe, was much as follows:

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

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

But why pick on poor little oil-rich Qatar?

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

The Kushners were desperate for cash.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can’t hear you, Mr Secretary.

 

Fore!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

x want to extort money from Qatar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The scene in Guatemala yesterday (Photo: Red Cross)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insectageddon

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

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

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

No cow-parsley flowers.

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

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

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

A propos of which:

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

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

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

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

Awesome footage:

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

x

Dissertation

On the Tedium of Buying Stuff From Builders’ Merchants.

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

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

There’s nothing inbetween.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Huh, little do you know!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Slime is the new Truth.

Does anybody tell the truth about anything anymore?

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

Slime is the new Truth.

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

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

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

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

The new Truth? (Image: planetphotoshop.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only slime.

x

The NHS: a post code lottery?

Spokespeople are good at slime, aren’t they?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Yes, Icahn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

GW: Anyone for 10°-ish?

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

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

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

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

In other news:

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

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

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

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

Colombia: floods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Early to bed…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is how it tends to look, at midnight.

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

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

Indeed, I’m amazed I wake up at all.)

The Pumpkin – Issue 49: Bolt-on accessory… GW: Not Singin’ in the Rain… Long Essay: Labour, a sorry State of affairs.

“…it’s hard to see why Trump didn’t just give the job to Alex Jones.”

(Apologies for delay in completing, further health issues.)

Bolt-on accessory

“State Department intelligence analyst Christian Westermann told committee staffers Bolton “got red in the face … shaking his finger at me” in a dispute over language Bolton planned to use in a speech that discussed Cuba’s biological weapons capability. Westermann said he felt Bolton wanted him fired over the matter. Bolton said he had “lost confidence” in Westermann for recommending changes to the speech without consulting him first.” (USA Today)

Yale law graduate, virulent Islamophobe and all-round TV savage, the Mark Twain-mustachio’d Irishman John Bolton allegedly has a filthy temper and a propensity to lash out at colleagues who don’t see things his way. In this particular case, Mr Bolton was busily manufacturing “evidence” for a report alleging Cuba had a biological weapons program, which his staff knew it didn’t. He would later go on to support President W Bush’s false assertion that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction”, in order to justify “regime change” in Iraq.

The art of persuasion: John Bolton wields the finger of Fate.

As a Fox News studio pundit, in prominent press articles he has more recently recommended similar “regime change” in Iran, with the tearing-up of the international agreement on Iranian nuclear weapons development, and a first strike nuclear attack against North Korea. In fact, it’s hard to see why Trump didn’t just give the job to Alex Jones. Fling wide the doors of the madhouse. (Mr Jones is now saying he no longer supports Trump. Who next?)

This is the man President Donald Trump has been listening to with growing approval for months and has now appointed to the key post of National Security Advisor in place of the more level-headed General HR McMaster, with whom he is said not to have got on. So, no party bag for you, egg-head. Let’s recall that Mr Trump’s judgement was that McMaster’s predecessor, General Mike Flynn, was an all-round good guy. Later, however, he complained that no-one had warned him that Flynn was a known security risk. That was after he’d fired Acting Attorney-General Sally Yates for trying to warn him Flynn was a known security risk.

You see what we’re dealing with here?

And the problem is, the National Security post is not subject to Congressional scrutiny: it’s in the gift of the President.

Bolton is frequently referred to as ‘former UN ambassador’. The term relates to a short stint he spent at the UN as a sort of vacation intern, put there by Bush – who wanted him to have the job full-time – during a Congressional summer recess, after the Senate had refused to ratify his appointment on the grounds that Bolton was prominently on record as saying “The United Nations doesn’t exist … it occupies a 38-storey building in New York and if you took the top ten storeys off, no-one would notice.”

Non-Americans would have been equally alarmed at the sentiments he expressed, that the UN should just shut up and do as it was told because America was the only relevant power in the world. In this regard, he reminds us of Mr Nigel Farage, the campaigning British politician and a member of the European Parliament, whose singleminded dedication to destroying the organization that pays him a very handsome salary and vast expenses, which he hardly ever attends except to insult and berate his foreign colleagues, led ultimately to the Brexit vote.

But there’s more.

“Carl Ford, the former chief of intelligence and research at the State Department, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Bolton was a “serial abuser” of low-level employees and a “quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy.” (See USA Today article.) Melody Townsel, a businesswoman working on a government contract in Moscow in 1994, said Bolton, sent to persuade her to withdraw a complaint about lack of funds, threw a tape dispenser at her and made remarks about her weight and sexual orientation. She remarked about the experience in Moscow:

“Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel — throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and, generally, behaving like a madman. For nearly two weeks, while I awaited fresh direction from my company and from US AID, John Bolton hounded me in such an appalling way that I eventually retreated to my hotel room and stayed there. Mr. Bolton, of course, then routinely visited me there to pound on the door and shout threats…”

(Extract from Todaysworkplace.com quoting The Daily Kos website*)

And it’s now being reported that Mr Bolton enthusiastically  took part in a number of pro-Trump campaign promotional videos on Facebook, as part of the experimental program run by Steve Bannon’s Cambridge Analytica and/or its US parent company, SCL, to subvert the electorate with microtargeted messages based on the misdirected personal data of 50 million Americans.

Mr Bolton denies any such connection with Cambridge Analytica, which seems odd considering a superPAC (unlimited political fund) “run by John Bolton” and funded by the Mercers has reportedly paid Cambridge Analytica $1.1 million since 2014 for “research”, according to an official review of campaign finance records. (Democracynow.org)

With another Iran/NK hawk, Mike Pompeo at State; Larry Kudlow, a poorly regarded Fox TV finance pundit echoing his antediluvian views on the economy, and Fox TV lawyer Joseph DiGenova now leading the defense against the witch hunters following the ousting of John Dowd, Mr Trump now has only three barriers remaining before his ego achieves the total power it craves, independent of any politicians, qualified advisors or people who aren’t certifiably psychopathic: his Chief of Staff, General Kelly, the parent he hates for grounding him; the Defense chief, General Mattis, a dangerous communist – and Bob Mueller, the implacable Justice Department bloodhound investigating his financial crimes under the guise of an inquiry into the fake-news collusion with Russia.

All three will probably be gone by the end of the month.

PS: Oh, oops, 26 March… DiGenova’s already been fired before he even started. Conflict issues… Trump had only previously seen him on Fox News, met him and didn’t like him after all, saying he and his Fox News TV lawyer wife (who came as a package) looked “scruffy”. (Trump is of course a total fake president: childlike, incoherent and mad as a fruit bat.)

*A joke occurs to The Pumpkin: the White House should be renamed. Toadysworkplace….

 

Trump not considered criminal target in Mueller’s Russia inquiry – reports

“According to a person familiar with the investigation, the president is a subject of interest but there’s not enough evidence to bring charges. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations and demanded anonymity.” – Guardian, 4 April.

Don’t tell me, let me guess… David Dennison? John Miller? John Barron?

 

Watch now:

weather.com/en-GB/unitedkingdom/great-outdoors/video/baby-elephant-in-thailand-cuddles-with-american-tourist

 

GW: Not Singin’ in the Rain

Australia: following on from Cyclone Marcus, safely out at sea and degrading but causing big waves off the SW coast around Perth, Cat 3 Cyclone Nora with gusts up to 270 km/h has arrived in the fortunately sparsely populated northern territories, where residents have been warned to find ‘stronger housing’, and up to 300 mm of rain is expected. The storm could track across to Darwin city, still clearing up after Marcus. Much of Queensland is already affected by flooding. Meanwhile in Victoria, S Australia, successive fronts are causing damaging winds across a wide area. Tasmania is particularly affected.

PS Queensland: Port Douglas recorded 593 mm (2 ft) of rain in 24 hours to 26 March, 2018. Flash flooding wipes out Cairns caravan park, 42 rescued. Meanwhile the mercury hits 46C, 115F on the Mardie sheep station in Western Australia.

Indonesia: Torrential rains. Floods. Landslides. “Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) said that so far this year, more people have died in landslides in Indonesia than any other type of natural disaster. Since 01 January 2018 there have been 197 landslides in the country, which have left 53 people dead, 60 injured and 1,369 homes damaged.”

South Korea: heatwave. Extensive early-season wildfires destroy homes, force evacuations.

South Africa: “Parts of Gauteng Province in South Africa were hit by a severe storm from 22 March, 2018. Some areas recorded more than a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours. Areas around Johannesburg and Pretoria were particularly badly hit. Strong winds have downed trees and heavy rain has flooded several roads, causing major traffic problems.”

USA: The “Pineapple Express” storm hit further north of Santa Barbara than predicted and so did not cause the feared landslides in the area affected by the Thomas fire. There was severe flash-flooding in Sacramento county. Some areas recorded new rainfall totals and a number of households were rescued from flooding. Damage was minimized by dredging operations following February’s disaster. Winter Storm Uma blankets Iowa and Minnesota in up to 16 in. of snow.

A band of heavy rain is causing concern for flooding from Texas to Alabama – but residents of Amarillo were celebrating 0.24 mm after a drought that has seen only 0.01 mm in the past 160 days. Owing to the prolonged drought, “half of the winter wheat in Kansas—the nation’s largest producer of the crop—was ranked in poor or very poor condition by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as of Sunday.” “The low temperature at Bush Intercontinental Airport on Tuesday was 73°F, which ties the warmest daily low ever recorded in Houston in March.”

Mexico: Mexico City, 1 dead as extraordinary ‘rain bomb’ falls from cloud.

Brazil: Still raining. Flash flooding in Belo Horizonte; Assis; São Paolo (again). Flash floods in Medellin, Colombia.

India: A rise of 8C in a day brings heatwave conditions back to Mumbai: 41C, 106F. Mercury hits 44C (111F) in Gujarat. African, Indian, Chinese heatwave forecast moving northwards into Europe, Central Asia by 5 April. 40C-plus too already in Iraq.

Northern Europe: Another beastly blast of cold air from Siberia is forecast for the Easter weekend, bringing more snow across central and northern Europe, with continuing below-normal temperatures forecast at intervals through into May. Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations reports that melting snow and ice jams have caused flooding in Altai Krai region. “As of 27 March, flooding had affected 55 rural settlements.” Over 1000 residents evacuated.

Southern Europe:  Storm Hugo brings heavy rain, snow and flooding to northern Portugal and Spain; high Mediterranean winds ship huge volumes of floodwater over the coastlines of Corsica, Calabria, Sardinia. Dense Sahara sandstorm turns skies orange, blankets Crete. Heavy snowfall in Algeria.

A report by EASAC – the independent European Academies’ Science Advisory Committee – finds that extreme precipitation events globally have increased by 400% since 1980.

Grand Solar Minimum

You may hear a lot about the ‘GSM’ being responsible for the cold weather/new ice age that’s upon us.

It’s bullshit: the last refuge of the ‘man-made climate-change’ denial lobby. The earth isn’t warming, it’s cooling? Your Granny doesn’t think so. The sun isn’t cooling either.

The idea behind the theory is that there’s very little sunspot activity at the moment. (As sunspots are cold, surely lack of them ought to mean it’s outputting more heat?) As the amount of energy reaching the earth from the sun fluctuates normally through an 11-year cycle, there’s an idea that a much longer so-called Kondratieff Wave brings about a Grand Solar Minimum; also known after its theorist as a “Maunder Minimum”, at roughly 150-year intervals, when the world is plunged into a Little Ice Age.

Actual astrophysicists tell us we’re on the downside of another 11-year cycle, but so far there’s nothing to suggest it’s anything out of the ordinary. Also, the calculations of climatologists suggest that at most, the solar cycles make a difference of plus-or-minus a third of a degree. That and other background factors are already allowed for in calculations of the degrees of warming attributable to the 39 billion tonnes of CO2 and other stuff we shove into the air annually.

Meanwhile, despite the cold weather and a persistent weak La Niña, adjusted global temperature is still marginally higher than last year, and the years before that. 16 of the last 18 years have been the warmest on record. A 4.1C high-temperature anomaly has been recorded over Antarctica (25 March).

ABC/ Weather.com/ Floodlist/ Paul Beckwith/Wunderground/ CEWN #105, #106

 

Long Essay:

Labour: a sorry State of affairs

Look. I’m a pro-semite, if such a thing can be said to exist.

I’m not myself semitic, of course, but I’m glad of the presence of our Jewish “community”. They seem like a great bunch of people, bouncy and fractious, lugubrious and self-deprecatingly humorous by turns. People with admirable resilience and a fascinating culture, the product of two and a half thousand years of adversity. Not all, obviously. There are always non-conformists, outliers, backsliders, secularists. It doesn’t help to generalize. But I am not now and am never going to hate (as I never have) an entire clade of people for being a bit, well, unusual. Difference is what makes the world go around. I can be pretty unusual myself. I confess, I do sort of hate many named individuals, but I cannot hate an entire people for merely being as they are: not myself.

(Why do I even have to preface my critical opinion with a disclaimer? Is it come to this? Should I refrain in the interests of decency from mentioning my three past delightful Jewish girlfriends? I’d claim that some of my best friends are Jewish, but it wouldn’t be true: I don’t have any friends at all now, it’s easier.)

Would it be too anti-semitic, then, to note that, once again, nervous Israeli conscripts (is there any other kind? Could they not put something relaxing in the tea?) have been taking pot-shots, firing tank shells at innocent parsley farmers, blasting them to bits obviously without any legal repercussions, who strayed as they thought too near the border (an internal border: Israel likes to keep its enemies inside) – and firing live ammunition rounds at despairing demonstrators armed with stones and confined behind razor wire, killing and wounding many hundreds? And then the tiresome old lie: armed terrorists, human shields, most regrettable… justifies nothing, but, you know, the military.

And this, experts say, as a warning or provocation to Israel’s external enemies: Shi’a Iran, and its proxy external army, the 50-thousand-strong Hezbollah militia, currently battling everyone’s enemy ISIS in Syria, Israel’s other enemy, and holding together a fragile peace in Lebanon. No-one in the region is any longer good or bad; just enemies. Iran who, it should be noted, are the enemies of Israel’s new friends, the Gulf Arab states, Salafist Saudi Arabia. There are too many bad actors in the region spoiling for a fight.

Their allegiances are temporary, unstable and should be discounted, frankly. Just shoot back at whoever is shooting at you.

Are we to approve these Biblical acts of smiting the innocent and the guilty alike, in preference to being culture-shamed and name-called by paid shills for the Israeli junta? There are hundreds of thousands of Jews who are equally appalled that this insanity goes on, and on, without commitment to a resolution. Is there any degree of tolerable disapproval of the actions of the Israeli State that does not incur outraged denials, shirt-rending appeals to history, to God, to Justice, and a further stirring-up of fearfulness among the Jewish diaspora by the community leaders themselves? Is there an end to the impotent stupidity of Hamas?

Yes, I hold certain of the Jewish leaders guilty of stirring up and exploiting the old fears as a political weapon. Sorry. We are living at a time when the Internet has made it easy for everyone to hate everyone else. I can be proved wrong, but I am not sure more people really now hate and issue tangible threats to Jews as do those opposed to Muslims, politicians, Hollywood producers, women, TV personalities, “baby-boomers”, Brexit moaners, people with disabilities, taxi-rapists or any other identifiable minority group.

And might it overstep the bounds of semitism, pro- or anti-, to observe that the “right-wing Likud government” of Israel seems to have been taken over by gangsters: international oligarchs, friends of Jared Kushner, intolerant religious Pharisees, settler lobbyists, refugee American wackos and out-and-proud racist cunts like Defense Minister Lieberman, while the “hard-line” prime minister, the rectitudinous Mr Netanyahu, is mired in charges of corruption and influence peddling?

I’d be anti-that. Wouldn’t anybody?

And would it be too anti-Semitic to ask, why now? Why has something Mr Corbyn – I haven’t met him, we’re the same age but I don’t like what we’ve seen of him, he seems a most dreadful humbug (but such a genuine one) and I think I would prefer it if he never becomes prime minister – something stupid he said or did six years ago, why has it emerged only now to highlight his most tremendous failing, that as a Friend of Palestine he and his shadow cabinet rabble must all be rabid Jew-haters? They obviously aren’t, so who’s saying it – and more importantly, why? How have we got from there to here?

And how has a media furore been created around these “five thousand anti-semitic” – er, things – that members of the Labour party have supposedly done, that need to be “investigated”, whatever they are and whoever they were done by? (You should, I feel, be prepared to endure something of a furious backlash when you mount campaigns of disinformation like this.) Targeted, and forced competent officials to resign for not being sensible enough of other people’s instances of anti-semitic – things, unspecified tweets, what? the borderline is as thin and wispy as an eruv – and created a general air of suspicion and damaging, unwanted disunity in the body politic at this critical time? What Mr Trump might call a “witch hunt”?

This is playing with fire.

Why, you would almost imagine some people are beginning to worry that Mr Corbyn has become too popular for the nation’s good and might, if returned to office, say characteristically nasty, anti-semitic things about the Israeli government and refuse to toe the American party line, invite al-Q’aida into a coalition or fall out with Crown Prince bin-whatsit, refusing to sell him bombs to kill more Yemeni children (you see, I’m not one-nation prejudiced). But we might perhaps make another note, this time that over the past year there have been intense but short-lived media-driven onslaughts on all sorts of people: men, Russians, the Parole Board, Trump…. They come, they go.

Which brings me on to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Council and that sinister apologist for the crimes of the gangster regime, Mr Mark Regev, now the Israeli ambassador to London – his reward for years of bullying the BBC into silence, lying, name-calling and cranking-up the moral blackmail to shut down criticism of his paymasters in Tel Aviv. Regev, who recently forced Manchester University to, essentially, no-platform a Holocaust survivor for likening Likud to the Nazis – perhaps a somewhat extreme position, but maybe she should know? And then had the chutzpah to demand total editorial oversight of the rest of the conference proceedings, like a perfect little fascist…. Would it be too anti-semitic to dislike this repellent individual intensely by name?

No doubt he would say so. Not for his religion, his Australian ethnicity (Regev is not his birth name), but for the horror of what he is glibly excusing.

In former years those reasonable, respectable bodies of, no doubt mostly elderly men, who confined themselves largely and with dignity to overseeing Jewish affairs, now possibly under the influence of the new representative from Tel Aviv, who has some pretty persuasive tactics under his belt, seem to have formed an aggressive triumvirate of corncrake lobbyists unafraid of intervening, not to say rabble-rousing, to subvert the normal course of British politics. It is of course their privilege, we could use some new political parties, but not one advancing in a phalanx of unsubstantiated allegations.

It may be that they have an entirely genuine cause for concern, it may be that Britain has become a cesspit of sieg-heiling Jew-baiters, cemetery-desecrators and synagogue-burners. It’s just not something I’ve really noticed going on, just as Mr Corbyn – call him Jeremy – blindly failed to spot the glaring Nazi-era tropes in the offensive public mural he defended (six years ago) against two coats of council whitewash, assuming (one assumes) that its purpose was purely to highlight the oppression of the poor by the world’s banking community in the wake of 2008.

We are left to contemplate, too, the corresponding attacks on Mr Ken Livingston, whose questionable assertions about Hitler and Zionism (I edited the original AJP Taylor essay for an anthology, it’s not all that conclusive) have been interpreted as evidence of systemic prejudice in the Labour party, perhaps because he stubbornly persists with them – as if what he thinks matters any longer. But being an old cynic, it did immediately occur to me that there is more going on in Regev’s world than meets the eye; and that the Nazi-era tropes are not confined to the display of anti-semitic public artworks.

You see, Israeli politics has been dominated for decades by the need to turn history on its head. The approaching 70th anniversary of the Nafqa, as Palestinians call it – apocalypse – when 680 thousand residents of Galilee who had tilled the land for generations were driven from their homes like Native Americans, to spend more generations in refugee limbo, killed, or both, to allow the State of Israel to invite all and sundry to come and live there, would to anyone other than an extremely conservative Israeli or a wealthy Labour donor be a significant anniversary of an act that has caused untold misery, global violence, moral ambiguity and division down the years.

Modern Israel’s take on it however makes themselves out to be the victims, justifying the oppression of an entire people. Under the watchful eye of a military state barely clinging anymore to the moral high ground their founders claimed, the land-grabbing and the illegal settlements, the casual brutalities and the occasional massacres go on, and on, justified apparently by random acts of defiance by the oppressed and the forceful efforts of the lobbyists.

Even the Israeli press, at least the liberal Haaretz, has this to say today, 1 April – Easter Sunday:

Israel and the United States are no longer interested in a pragmatic and equitable two-state solution, if they ever were. In exchange for a truncated Palestinian mini-state that won’t control much more than the Palestinian Authority does, Abbas is now being asked to not only recognize Israel but to acknowledge the Jewish people’s inherent, biblical right to the Land of Israel, a statement that would constitute a repudiation of the entire history of the Palestinian national movement.

It might also require the Muslim Abbas to acknowledge the primacy of the Jewish bible as a title deed to the land. You see, that’s where you can get by endless bullying, lying, defiance of international conventions, ultraviolence and special pleading. And, might I add, in complete defiance of the somewhat nobler aspirations of the founders, as expressed in the famous 1947 UN speech by David Ben-Gurion:

“…it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

And anyone who doesn’t approve of that elegant eviction order is an anti-semite, pure and simple.

Seriously, Ben Gurion was well aware of the dilemma. In creating a State of Israel to which he felt Jews were absolutely entitled to “return” from the Diaspora according to their ancient compact with “God” and the recent horrors of the Holocaust, he recognized that he was taking away the homeland of the Palestinians who had lived there for at least two thousand years. (Modern Israeli archaeologists now realize, the “Arabs” as the Zionist settlers called them are a fully related semitic people who predate even the first Hebrew settlement and who stayed on through and after the Roman expulsions, which were more limited in scope than the mythology suggests.)

Yet although he clearly understood it, Ben Gurion could never accommodate himself to “Arab” resistance to the occupation. He continually defied external criticism of his and his successors’ warlike State actions, attempting to combine extreme reasonableness and open offers of co-operative citizenship (the “one-state” solution, more-or-less) with threats of unlimited morally and politically unquestionable reprisals in the face of continued resistance. As he has oft been quoted as saying: “It doesn’t matter what the goyim say, but what the Jews do.”

Thus he inadvertently laid the ground for what is by all accounts now a totalitarian State, which walls up its uncompliant “Arab” citizens in unsustainable ghettos and visits them with condign punishment through the use of advanced and illegal weaponry (which they do not themselves possess) at the slightest sign of resistance, heedless of mass civilian casualties which, like the playground bully (“Why are you hurting yourself, eh? Oh Sir, he started it!), it blames back on the Palestinians’ elected representatives; and brands external critics “anti-semites” when they raise the obvious parallels with policies pursued in Nazi Germany, certainly between 1935 and 1941 when the “Final Solution” began; and obdurately refuses to accept any moral authority other than that of its Biblical avatars, who – it must be said – lived in less complex times, but in their robust slaughter and rape of the Amalechites and the Canaanites were perhaps not as desiring of peace as painted by the First Prime Minister.

Thus, anti-semitism is never something that is provoked, a reaction against the behavior of Jews themselves; it must always pre-exist in the flawed nature of the goyim.

Let me just remind you of one small story among many bigger ones that is ongoing today. I warn you, it is utterly shameful. Saying that, I may have crossed a line.

After an Israeli soldier shot her cousin point-blank in the face with a rubber bullet, he remains on life support, a 16 year-old Palestinian girl, Ahed Tamimi, flew angrily at a group of soldiers and slapped one of them on the face. (Pro-Israel media say “punched”. Just another example of ratcheting up the prejudicial emotional rhetoric.)

This brutal attack against a defenseless armed soldier was seen in various quarters as immensely disrespectful of the military. Israeli soldiers raided the Tamimi home at 3 a.m., arresting Ahed and confiscating the family’s phones, computers and laptops. Ahed has been denied bail and could face years in prison.

Doubling-down on their sense of overweening authoritarian power, soldiers arrested Ahed’s mother Nariman later that day when she inquired about her daughter, and she too remains in custody. (That’s the practise of ‘Sippenhaft’, targeting innocent family members to intimidate resisters – something else they appear to have learned from the SS. Sorry.)

A military trial began on 12 February, is still without a verdict, while the press, human rights supporters and Palestinian diplomats have been barred from the courtroom. (Reporting by lots of people but specific words are from media bias monitoring website, Fair.)

I’ll leave it to you to decide if this rotten behavior characteristic of the filthiest totalitarian regimes is a Jewish thing, or simply an Israeli thing. Or maybe something they learned from real totalitarian regimes, like, you know.

For David Ben Gurion, despite all his weaselly promises of conciliation, citizenship and offers of friendship, provided nobody questioned his people’s right to do whatever the hell they liked, if necessary with maximum violence and inattention to human rights, there could be no difference.

It was all the same to him.

And that, I’m sorry to say, is where blind idealism gets you.

The dictionary of missing words… The last refuge… Stormy nights… Is Russia really the source of all our ills?… Equal pay should include Air Miles… GW: Ooh, granny, it’s a wild world

The dictionary of missing words

I’ve often been accused by less curious acquaintances of knowing everything, like blind Tiresias, including possibly all the English words, but it really isn’t true.

What, for instance, do you call the thing on your glasses, the hinged and hooked stick-part that goes round your ear, that’s just snapped off?

The vital component that has absolutely no other purpose in life, that once it is no longer attached either to the lenses part or to your ear becomes about the most useless artifact imaginable?

I’m faintly hearing ‘earpiece’ (possibly herpes? I’m getting a bit deaf too), but it doesn’t seem right. An earpiece is surely more to do with audio devices, headphones and so on. That blob of pink plastic stuffed in the sport presenter’s ear with the curly cable behind. The floppy little buds I can’t seem to keep in my too-narrow ear-channels, connected by an infuriating string of self-entangling liquorice to some miniaturized communication device.

Those.

It’s critical, because I’ve got a conversation going in my head with the optician’s, hoping to convince them that, whatever it is, it did, literally, just snap off in normal operation and was not subjected to any untoward treatment or force. It’s not that the hinge has parted, the little screw fallen out, as can often happen if you don’t maintain your glasses regularly. It just snapped when I opened them up. Honestly.

It was the culmination of another strange event affecting my glasses yesterday. I’d hung them as usual on the front of my sweater and walked to the supermarket in the Spring sunshine, I no longer drive, and found I still couldn’t see the tiny print on the labels of things on the shelves, and it was because the lenses had gone dark.

Now, I’ve had them for a couple of years and that’s never happened before. Indeed, I vaguely recall a conversation in which I had said I didn’t need react-to-lite lenses because they were for computer work and wouldn’t be worn outdoors. So here was a second surprise my glasses had delivered in just a day.

I observe instead with my one good-looking eye (although it’s difficult to see what’s going on with the glasses without the glasses on) that one side of the metal hinge itself has broken, probably because it’s been cast a bit too thin for fashion purposes. This is serious. A new hinge, a… hooked-stick part or even a whole new frame will have to be ordered, meaning I shall be both £150 out of pocket – I have never believed in insurance – and unable to see the screen or read for much longer.

You see, I shall have to go back to the optician’s for a new prescription anyway when the eye finally heals, hopefully in another month or so, as it won’t have the same optical characteristics as it had before the retina came away, and the other eye will probably have readjusted. So now isn’t a good time to replace the glasses, even though they have been of limited use as things stand, and are now obviously no use at all.

Although the bubble of gas the surgeon put in my short right eye to hold the retina in place when it popped off a second time is beginning to dissipate after a month, it is still an annoying, wobbly ball of triboluminescence that jiggers and glows and refracts lights and images prettily with every movement of my silly old head, with every pulsive systole (or is it diastole? I never remember) of my groaning vascular system.

Some smeary, sepia ‘crinklevision’ has returned around it, I have startlingly sharp focus at about 9 inches and can once again tell a wooded hillside from a coffee table, but the bubble’s gradual disappearance brings into view another thing to worry about, an area of gray carpet fluff in the middle of my field of vision, that won’t get out of the way, behind which nothing is visible at all.

Combined with ‘age-related’, two words I surely can’t now forget will be ‘macular’ and ‘degeneration’.

We shall see.

Anyway, so there’s another word that isn’t coming easily, that might be ‘earpiece’, or not.

Generally when I lose a word, almost every other word nowadays, I do at least have a memory of there having been a word at one time, and there’s an intended meaning from which to start hunting around for it. I can thus Google approximations of the word, the meaning I’d hoped the word would convey, call up a list of synonyms, or even Search on whole sentences to give context to the elusive phonemes, with much use of ellipsis, hoping the random response will contain the exact word I am alluding to; striving, even, for; that has slid beyond my grasp into the woolly chasm beneath my lexicographical mind.

(I am throwing words down on the page with the something-or-other of a drowning man. They will be here when I need them again. If only I remember where I left them….)

The miraculous engine will always deliver a page of selected websites, with whatever you call the incomplete paragraph of excerpted text that goes underneath the title, that you can never find again in the actual website, the teaser, the clickbait, the… oh well, there’s another word gone.

But anyway, the randomly selected bit of text you hoped might contain the word, or which at least might reveal the opening of a tunnel into which a train of thought might be detected approaching, that could take you to the station where the word will be standing anxiously on the platform, anticipating your delayed arrival owing, as it were, to leaves on the line, or the wrong kind of snow.

Amid the blasts of steam there will be flowers, a welcoming hug, a suitcase eagerly grabbed from your hand, tears of joy. Who knows, even a comfortable saloon-car ride to a warm fireside and a tumbler of fine malt whisky (before it is locked away prudently for the rest of the weekend, and the blended brought out)?

In fact, I’m thinking of compiling a dictionary of missing words. Old friends I know I used to know but are no longer there.

Like, sight.

It would come in handy.

 

The last refuge

Mr Boris dePfeffel Johnson, that overrated escapee from a Petri dish, has in his infinite cretinism once again dragged Britain braying and boasting into the mud.

And still the lamebrained Prime Minister – I won’t say lame duck, ducks can swim – May dare not reprimand or sack him, for fear of a certain Jingoist tendency among the tabloid headline-mumbling old dumbfucks of Little England.

The Second World War ended 73 years ago, with Europe divided firmly between the USA and Soviet Russia, the remains of the global British empire liberated by Coca Cola diplomats, Benny Goodman and the CIA.

Yet the fatuous oaf, Johnson continually seeks to remind the public of how ‘we’ the British won it, rendering all other species inferior.

It’s a lie. A myth. A meme. Bollocks. Bullshit. Total, ahistorical crap. Not true. Fake news.

Propaganda.

Mr Johnson, by some unforeseen calamity the bumbling and inept Foreign Secretary of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is lavishly displayed on the front of the Daily Express, a former newspaper, today, quoted as warning that our enemy, Russia will seek to make propaganda from its hosting in July of the football World Cup.

In doing so, he likens the tournament to “Hitler’s” 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Regardless of the possibility that propaganda is what the Olympics are all about – he should know, he was Mayor of London in 2012 when the Olympics were held there – regardless of the many inferior nations taking part, whose participation he thus diminishes; regardless of the fact that the Games are the intellectual property of the International Olympic Committee and do not belong to any individual, this disgusting slur on the Russian people should not be allowed to pass without mentioning that Russia sacrificed 27 MILLION dead, defeating Hitler in the Great Patriotic War.

The albino slug, Johnson has sacrificed nothing in his lifetime but his principles.

If as Dr Johnson observed, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, Boris defuckingPfeffel Johnson is surely by his frequently disgraceful and infantile utterances that scoundrel.

Get him out. NOW.

 

Donald Jr’s wife has already flounced out, leaving him with just the endangered animal parts and a tin of Dapper Dan…

Stormy nights

Donald Trump is in a world of trouble, to quote a metaphor frequently deployed by Cenk Uygur, principal host and owner of The Young Turks, a lively and not wholly unreliable online current affairs debate channel – although these tragic Americans have such difficulty pronouncing foreign names and little idea what or where anything is, or what has gone before, outside their own, as it were, very large but strangely narrow backyard.

For the idea is starting to take hold in the leftish media that he will not be brought down by his endless lying, his Russian escapades, his financial links with money-laundering oligarchs, the US and Russian mob figures in his uneasy dreams, his egregious breaches of security and of the various emoluments clauses, his takedowns of the constitution and the courts, his love of Nazis and childish infatuations with brutal dictators, his chronic nepotism, his economic incompetence, the unending abuse of public money or the astonishing turnover of staff in his “toxic” White House.

Mueller may run into the sand, as he has made the mistake of going too broad-brush and his time is dangerously running out. Cunning and ruthless as he is, he may have underestimated Trump’s lifelong ability to wheedle and bully his way out of anything, as psychopaths are wont to do.

Nor is Trump’s mental state: his obvious paranoia, his pathological narcissism and advancing senility any longer grounds for invoking the 25th amendment. His compulsive, overreactive trolling has become just how 21st-century politicians communicate with their “base”. Not even the rumored video with the f***ing great dildo up his bottom (© Mark C Smith, 2018. Don’t ask me, I only work here) will move the terrified and corrupt Republican Congress to euthanase this rotten presidency.

What will hopefully destroy this cowardly, vindictive playground bully and his vile, corrupt, nepotistic administration is Stormy Daniels, the “porn star” whose rep is growing daily as the incarnation of Superwoman, as she refuses to back down in the face of overweening physical and financial intimidation; while her Daniel Craig, James Bond lookalike attorney is running rings round the spavined, winded legal doofuses Trump hires because nobody else would.

Of course, no-one cares that he cheated on his wife a year into their marriage, while their son was only months old. He’s cheated on all his wives. Other presidents were also sexually incontinent, it goes with the myth of the alpha male. And I’d give you Marilyn Monroe over Stormy Daniels anyday, especially for unprotected sex. (Is the rumor there is a kid true? Is it? Oh, please!).

No, there are other angles to the story that may make his presidency untenable.

First comes the so-called marriage, to Melania Trump, who is now realizing that her private pain at his serial philandering has become very public, and with some pretty squalid details on display to complete her humiliation. With those gimlet Tartar eyes and flashing, razorlike cheekbones, I’d expect her to slip a cocktail stick between the fourth and fifth ribs any day now.

Largely unexplored is his history in the skin game, the allegations of underage models trafficked in, undocumented, by the Trump Agency from eastern Europe and the pedophilic nibbling at the fringes by his seedy, Studio 21 set. As a former Trump model, Melania will have signed a prenup and, for all we know, a NDA – non-disclosure agreement. But, if Daniels wins and her NDA is busted wide open, there’s a queue of wronged women to follow suit – with Melania at the head of it.

That’s why the Trump legal team is desperately trying to move the case to a court of arbitration, where hearings are held in secret, rather than let it go to a jury trial. Although the cat is already so far out of the bag, it’s over the horizon.

Donald Jr’s wife has already flounced out, leaving him with just the endangered animal parts and a tin of Dapper Dan, as it has emerged that he managed somehow to pull an attractive contestant from Orange Dad’s Celebrity Apprentice TV show for total non-celebrities, while Vanessa was expecting their demonic third or fourth child. Trump Sr says he’s sorry he couldn’t have done more to help save their marriage. I was married twice and so couldn’t possibly comment.

to be continued…

 

Is Russia really the source of all our ills?

God knows, I have nothing whatever to do with Russia or its intelligence apparatus.

But the following story makes it terrifyingly clear, Cambridge Analytica and its US parent, SCL Elections (the clue is in the name) – originally a military intelligence operation and with links to the Machiavellian Erik “Blackwater” Prince, brother of the clueless Education secretary, Betsy DeVos – are more than capable of deflecting blame for their own clandestine efforts at influencing elections onto any “enemy nation” they choose to smear.

And that, as the BogPo has occasionally suggested, Israel – not “The Jews”, Israel – plays a major and disproportionate part in attempting to order world affairs, sometimes hand-in-glove with private interests.

The current media furore as they catch up with a few savvy journalists over Facebook’s role in taking “Crooked Hillary” down ignores that the methods they used to harvest and sell data on millions of users and their ‘friends’, that others are now hotly accused of twisting to political ends while Zuckerberg turned a blind eye, were originally developed by the security state:

…weaponising information to harm an opponent was standard methodology … honed and developed in the company’s defence and military work – the fifth dimension of warfare, defined by the US military as “information operations”. (Guardian)

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/21/cambridge-analyticas-ruthless-bid-to-sway-the-vote-in-nigeria

Citing the 2015 Nigerian election that ended in tribal violence, and attempts by wealthy international disruptors to swing the vote in favor of the profoundly corrupt president Goodluck Jonathan, young Cambridge employees “terrified” by scary outsiders, tough-guy ex-military agents – mercenaries – they found themselves working with in Lagos on the campaign (along with bag-carriers from the now utterly discredited and bankrupt Bell, Pottinger PR company), who claimed to be from Mossad, spoke of how the company used Nigeria as a template for interfering in the US election in 2016.

(Indeed, black voters in the US were supposedly won over by Facebook videos featuring fake pro-Trump actors who were clearly of Nigerian origin.)

So who did try to swing the election? Was it private US consultancies funded by the Mercers and the Kochs? Or was it, conveniently, “The Russians”? Or both? The Cambridge Analytica revelations suggest we’ve been making a bit too much of Russia’s antipathy to the West. Questions must also arise over the foundation, funding, purposes and management of Wikileaks, who appear to be thoroughly complicit in these ‘dark politics’ internet operations.

Trump is almost certainly right. There very probably was no collusion with Russia to fix the election. Whatever Russia did could perfectly well have been an independent black op without Trump’s personal input. There may however have been collusion with Russia to lift the sanctions: that’s another matter. The fixing of the election was an internal, domestic operation. Why wouldn’t it have been? Much easier, and a local motive.

Trump was a useful idiot, put in the White House by Bob Mercer, Bannon and rogue elements, probably, in the Pentagon, I imagine to extend the concept of perpetual war beyond the borders of Syria: the ultimate showdown between the forces of Christianity and Islam.

Far-fetched? I think we need to fetch from as far as we need to for explanations in the land of the barking-mad: ultra-wealthy, albinist individuals actually researching immortality, buying up swaths of remotest New Zealand and planning to escape to Mars, nutjobs for whom owning the world is not enough. There’s nothing to be gained from conventional thinking about all this.

The name Koch has not yet surfaced in this story, although the letters form part of the word ‘novichok’, but the amount of money the brothers fed into the 2016 Republican campaign suggests they were not planning to lose. They reportedly plan on spending another $0.9 billion to keep the Republicans in power this year, provided candidates stay on the simple, three-part message: “No environmental controls. No free trade. Tax cuts for us.”

Disclaimer

“SCL Elections did not take possession of or use any personal information from such individuals for any purposes. SCL Elections does not use ‘hacked’ or ‘stolen’ data.”

Postscriptum

An interesting article in today’s Guardian gives us a history of the novichok chemical weapons program through the story of its first victim, Andrei Zheleznyakov, a chemist working in a secret Russian lab who was exposed to A-232 by accident. Secrecy meant he was not given the antidote – atropine – until the doctors had signed non-disclosure agreements. He took more than a year to die.

Three key points to emerge are that, being a binary agent whose components are in commercial use – imagine combining the baking soda in your kitchen with some gram flour and discovering you have a more deadly substance than sarin – neither part would be illegal in international law.

Secondly, the USA also has these exact same deadly nerve agents to hand, as does Britain.

Thirdly, the Russians can happily deny there was ever a program called “novichok” because at the time it was called “foliant”.

Personally, I feel like throwing up. Why do we have to live in a world alongside evil men who can even contemplate making and using this horrible shit? Why do we allow these monsters and their political apologists to come to power? They need to be degraded, along with all their diabolical works.

 

Equal pay should include Air Miles

In case you’re worried about equal pay at the BBC, try thinking less “salary” or “pension” and more… well, travel expenses?

Take the amazing Professor Mary Beard, for instance. A lady who cares as little about her personal appearance as I have to, yet who surely earns more in frequent flyer Air Miles in a month than I have in 68 years.

A leading expert on Greek and Roman history, she’s been hired on a freelance contact to present some of the curiously disappointing Civilizations series, supposedly worthy successor to Sir Kenneth Clarke’s 1960s tour de force overview of how we arrived at Ant & Dec’s Big Night Out.

I’m not sure why she’s also an expert on religious art, but here’s her impressive itinerary:

“She goes to the temple of Angkor Wat, the Tintoretto Crucifixion in Venice, the Buddhist caves of Ajanta and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, as she seeks to break down the conventions that centre some religions around images, while others are seen as hostile to artistic representation. She shows how all faiths (and their artists) face the same fundamental problems of treading a careful line between glorifying gods in images and blaspheming by daring to represent the divine. She ends at the Parthenon in Athens.”

Does her agent also work in her spare time as a travel agent, we must ask ourselves? All this stuff… surely, it’s in the British Museum?

PS – the “hostility to artistic representation” of most Islamic sects is actually an alternative to Western modes of seeing. The mesmerizing geometric patterns in Islamic religious art are an attempt to represent the mathematical principles that underlie the universe.

There is also non-religious Islamic art.

Just so you know.

 

GW: Ooh, granny, it’s a wild world

USA: California – 30 thousand people evacuated ahead of the latest Pineapple Express. Up to 10 inches of rain forecast for the Santa Barbara area and hillsides denuded of tree cover by last year’s fires threatening more landslips. Powerful storms sweep the south. Cars damaged by hail in Caldwell, Texas. Giant hail falls from the sky over Cullman, Alabama – Weatherman says “never seen a storm like it”, a car lot is trashed. Huge tornado forms over Russellville, Alabama. Homes trashed in Jacksonville, Al.

Storm Toby, fourth major Nor’easter in a little over six weeks, brings more feet of snow and strong winds misery to the east coast states.

Europe: mini-Beast brings more cold and snow across the continent, with disruption from Scandinavia and the British Isles down into Italy. Over in Spain, however, heavy rain causes flash-flooding in the south, boding poorly for the salad crop. 1 dead, 1 missing in Andalucia. Jetstream still lost somewhere over North Africa.

Australia: Sydney’s late autumn heatwave continues. 500 people were rescued from Sydney’s Bondi Beach as the mercury hit 41C, 106F. 70 homes were destroyed in a wildfire at Tethra, NSW. Elsewhere in the state, 1000 people were having to be rescued from floodwaters as the Lower Murray river rose following heavy rain.

Indonesia: Bandung, a powerful flash flood tears through Cicaheum, washing away cars.

Madagascar: a brief visit by Cyclone Eliakim kills 17 people in flash floods.

Brazil: No sign of a letup in the heavy rainstorms that have brought widespread flooding to many parts of the country over the past month. Lots round São Paolo, again. 3 dead, several missing. Valparaiso de Goias, genuinely heartbreaking, apocalyptic scenes.

Uruguay: Extensive flooding around the capital, Montevideo.

Dominican Republic: floods. Puerto Plata airport recorded 272.8 mm of rainfall in 24 hours (10.7 in), beating the previous record by 120 mm.

MrMBB333/ CEWN #104 citing The Weather Channel, Euronews et al/Floodlist