The Pumpkin – Issue 76: Wtf is Trump’s emergency about?… Her justice rewards #2… Is another financial crash coming?… Not with a bang, but with a fart… GW: Open the floodgates of Heaven

Theresa May

“Hahaha! Now I am invisible, you shall see my backstop wall has a frontstop fence!”

(Photo: apologies to Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty)

Quote of the Week:

“Our campaign is about taking on the special interests that dominate our economic and political life. I’m talking about Wall Street, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry, the military industrial complex, the private prison industry, and the large multinational corporations that exert such an enormous influence over our lives.” – Senator Bernie Sanders, announcing that he is running for the White House again.

And with that list, he expects to be around in 2020? Anyway, he raised $1m in pledges in the first three hours, and the filthy rich Republicans are already screaming “Socialist!”, and “Tax!”, so that’s a start.

Meanwhile, on the subject of tax, Alabama newspaper editor Bedloe Sutton has been criticized for publishing an editorial calling on the Ku Klux Klan to rise up and ride to Washington armed with hemp ropes and lynch any tax-raising Democrats they find there. He says he’s absolutely serious.

Should be an exciting two years.

 

Wtf is Trump’s emergency about?

“The saying goes that in any authoritarian society ‘the leader can never be trusted, but he must always be believed’.”

The central enigma of Trump, The Pumpkin believes, commands us to decide: is he just a self-deluding minor-criminal buffoon; an inarticulate, narcissistic sociopath; a made-for-TV business tycoon teetering on the fragile edge of sanity, or does some genuinely darker purpose lurk beneath that bullish exterior and his often brutal ‘zero-sum’ view of a transactional universe, in which you are either a winner or a loser – on his terms?

Mussolini, or Hitler?

In that rather blunt analogy, we always assume that Mussolini was the Opera Buffo character, the preening, preposterous, not-so scary spaghetti monster – and Hitler, the deadly, all-devouring snake. But we forget that it was Mussolini who is credited as the inventor of modern fascism. He at least had an -ism to work with! But what did Hitler have?

The sad death at 77 from colonic cancer of the Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, who played Hitler during his last days in the brilliant film “Downfall”, has brought to light a similar conundrum to that of the Trump phenomenon. After spending months researching the character, Ganz remarked, he had only the mannerisms. He still had no idea of what really made Hitler tick.

And that’s the problem with self-proclaimed “leaders”. There may well be nothing at all beneath the surface, a yawning space to be filled only by a terrible hunger for universal approbation and a mad belief, as in Louis 1Vth’s cracker motto: “L’État, c’est moi!” (“I am the State”), in one’s own historic inevitability. A void into which historians may pour whatever conclusions they like.

The process of transition from democracy to autocracy – and then tyranny – invariably proceeds through seeing, one stage at a time, how much one can get away with.

Whereas most politicians project their power, devoid of soul the true authoritarian – the psychopath – insatiably ingests his.

Writing on Open Democracy, Julian de Madeiros answers the question in rather starker terms than the usual parade of MSNBC pundits and late-show comedians imagining that Trump is merely off his rocker:

” …the Italian scholar Giorgio Agamben defines totalitarianism as ‘the establishment, by means of a State of Exception, of a legal civil war that allows for the elimination not only of political adversaries, but of entire categories of citizens who for some reason cannot be integrated into our political system.’ Only then, and for this purpose, can a genuine state of emergency be imposed. The state of exception functions to normalize and integrate the necessary legal framework to enact a wholesale reactionary conspiratorial politics. This is more than just mere scapegoating, it is the internalization of extra-legal processes into the legitimization of the regime itself.”

http://www.opendemocracy.net/julian-de-medeiros/wall-isn-t-state-of-emergency-but-state-of-exception?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=b414e839a5-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-b414e839a5-408090269

And after havering and blustering for weeks, having tried and failed to achieve what everyone else sees as a vain and pointless project, even to the extent of trying out his powers to shut down government, careless of the suffering it caused to thousands, President Trump has moved to bypass the normal budgetary control vested in Congress through the declaration of a State of Exception to counter a so-called emergency which even he recognizes does not exist; is his own proud invention.

In a long, rambling and unscripted dissertation on Thursday night, a frequently snivelling Trump publicly admitted, whether by accident, design or an excess of self-confidence is hard to tell, that he had made up the story of an “invasion” of the southern border by criminal migrant elements – brown people – because if he were not allowed to fulfil his expedient campaign promise to “build the wall”, he would be less likely to win a second term in office.

It’s an admission that may well lose his case for him in courts up and down the land; until, as he has also said, it reaches a supreme court packed with his placemen, where he expects to win. For the legal basis on which he has declared an emergency is shaky; all the more so if there is clearly no emergency, which he has as good as admitted there isn’t.

And then he went off to Mar a Lago to cheat at golf for three days.

Is this his Reichstag moment?

To build his wall, or fence, or physical barrier, that he fantasizes he has already begun doing, he now proposes to take the money the democratically elected Congress is refusing him, whether they like it or not – whether 65% of disapproving American taxpayers like it or not – by assuming powers to override the legislature and to force the Pentagon – which is under the President’s control as Commander-in-Chief – to pay for it, and to provide the labor needed by diverting the Corps of Engineers from their normal duties of preventing floods and suchlike.

So, yet again, we are trapped in the same conundrum as before. Is he doing this just to get his silly wall built, this vanity project that nobody, not even he, believes will have the prophylactic effects on crime and illegal immigration he says it will? Just to get himself re-elected?

Or is he doing it because it sets a precedent that could lead to him assuming absolute powers to, for instance, fire Mueller, close down the mainstream media, suspend habeas corpus and inconvenient parts of the Constitution, dissolve Congress, put soldiers on the streets of American cities and lock-up his critics and political opponents?

And what would he gain from any of that? (The real question is, what would his billionaire backers, Evangelical so-called Christians, his disappointed Confederate supporters and President Putin gain?)

While America hovers in this climate of uncertainty, because – well, why would you want to believe your country was being taken over by an insane megalomaniac armed with the nuclear codes? – we tend to overlook that on the day he announced his State of Exception, new judicial decisions about several of his former henchmen were being handed down, that substantially increased the state of legal jeopardy in which Mr Trump has lived precariously for the past two years.

The President is noted for his adroitness at diverting accusations of malfeasance onto others, or simply bullying or, in the last resort, buying his way out of trouble. He has got away with it throughout his career, and nothing he has done since occupying the White House on a minority vote in the country suggests that his habits have changed one whit.

So it may be that his latest actions are neither those of a comic bull in a china shop, nor a big step towards achieving the simple-minded dictatorship he favors as a model of pain-free governance; but are yet another entertaining smokescreen among many he continues to generate, to divert the media’s attention away from the investigations which law enforcement officers are struggling to pull together into a coherent set of indictments against Trump and his family.

In passing, it was barely noticed too that his pick for the new Attorney-General of the United States, Mr William Barr, was confirmed yesterday in the Senate.

Mr Barr, a veteran of the Bush neo-con presidency, is reportedly an entirely reliable figure who will do nothing to impede the process of investigation by the Special Counsel – of whom he has charge – or of the FBI working at the behest of various District Courts looking into, for instance, Trump’s supersized inaugural fund: where it came from, and whatever happened to the spare change – reliably reported to be somewhere north of $60 million?

But danger-spotters will consider the many brutal remarks Trump tweeted about Barr’s hapless predecessor, the Georgia gnome, (my God, one has almost forgotten his name already!) Jefferson “Jeff” Beauregard Sessions 111 – and conclude that Mr Trump is hardly likely to nominate anyone whose personal loyalty is not assured: “L’État” being “lui”, as it were….

While Barr told the Senate hearing he believed it was “vitally important” that Robert Mueller be allowed to complete his investigation, it is less certain that once he has, Mr Barr – a noted Trump supporter who is not keen on the idea of locking-up sitting presidents – will not simply shut down debate about its findings by refusing to allow the final report to be published or sent to Congress, in full or in part.

There is, as has been said, more than one way to skin a cat; or for a rogue President, an outlier on the graph of bad hombres, to achieve an ambition to discredit and dismantle all the supposedly liberal, democratic institutions he perceives as impediments to his and his supporters’ crude, authoritarian tendencies.

What his actual ambition is, however, is still unclear to anyone other than his increasingly fanatical followers, the “Cult45” as they’ve been dubbed, who are in no doubt that he has been sent by God to make America white again. As De Medeiros writes, “The saying goes that in any authoritarian society ‘the leader can never be trusted, but he must always be believed’.”

And Mr Trump has been skilful in creating for his diehard base, a world of belief in which observable facts and rational propositions are subordinated to magical thinking and the will of the crowd.

More Hitler than Mussolini, possibly.

 

Let them out!

Mr Trump is nothing if not a hypocrite in a suit.

At the same time as he is insisting that European countries must take back their own self-exiled ISIS extremists from captivity in Syria and Iraq, he has obstinately refused for two and a half years to release the last five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay who have long been cleared for release by military tribunals.

Fat wanker.

 

Her justice rewards #2

Possibly the most abstruse legal case in recent history ended last year when – Politico reported – a judge threw out a slander claim against Hillary Clinton over her alleged use of a personal email server.

All through the Trump election campaign – all through, that is, AFTER the notorious 6 June, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower to obtain “dirt” on Clinton from the Russians – the orange candidate was exhorting his hysterical dumbfucks to “Lock her up!”. And they’re still doing it.

The Pumpkin was never quite sure why, but it seems to relate to this case.

It was because a tranche of thousands of deleted emails had been recovered, as we now know by a Russian intelligence hacking operation acting in (illegal) concert with the Wikileaks website. Among them were emails relating to statements made by President Obama and Secretary Clinton about the murders in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 of the American ambassador and three of his staff.

The official line was that the murders were inadvertent and carried out by a mob inflamed by (as it happens, false) reports of a US movie trailer insulting the Prophet, that attacked the consulate, where the ambassador just happened to be at the time, visiting Libya’s second wartorn city.

Ultimately it turned out from CIA reports that the attack had been deliberately planned and carried out by a Jihadi militia under cover of the rioting. Had the State Department had advance warning but said nothing, as the Ambassador entered the trap?

Somehow, lawyers for the families of two of the dead Americans made a case that a) the emails were illegal, because of Clinton’s improper use of a non-official channel, and b) the change to the official story was communicated in such a way as to slander the dead men and defame their families.

It was said that the original storyline had been made up so as not to damage Obama’s chances in his campaign to get elected for a second term.

Imported by Trump’s organizers to testify onstage at a rally as victims of “Crooked Hillary” and her plain dishonesty, the parents had themselves launched an emotional attack on Clinton, alleging that as Secretary of State she had somehow failed to protect their “children” (grown men, State department security people).

They were demanding damages, claiming that Clinton had slandered them in response to their claims that she had acted irresponsibly or even illegally – something for which U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that there was absolutely no evidence.

Judge Jackson’s ruling also discounted the use of the private email server as any sort of factor in the case. But her ruling in fact hinged on a technicality: that if the parents were going to demand financial compensation, they had failed to say so early enough in the case.

The appellants have reacted angrily, accusing Judge Jackson of political bias. Yet The Pumpkin might mildly observe, the bias appears to be all on the side of the appellants’ attorneys, who have a history of going after the Clintons in what has been said to be “thousands” of lawsuits since the 1990s.

In a possibly inflammatory and certainly contemptuous statement, attorney Larry Klayman claims that the judge:

“clearly put politics and ahead of her oath of office as a judge to administer to the law in a neutral unbiased way … Judge Jackson, who is an Obama appointee and a Democrat, was clearly protecting Mrs. Clinton and this intellectually dishonest decision will be appealed. My clients are confident of success,” Klayman said. (Politico report)

Described as “pathologically litigious”, and founder of a libertarian group known as the Freedom Foundation, Klayman is said to be a “birther” conspiracy theorist who once attempted to have President Obama deported as a non-citizen.

It seems tragic that the parents of the dead Americans should have allowed themselves to fall into the clutches of this obviously eccentric and grandstanding charlatan, who has been banned from a number of courtrooms around the country.

But despite last year’s ruling, Trump continues to conflate his attacks on Clinton and the FBI in tweet after tweet, claiming the entire law enforcement apparatus of the country and – whenever he loses a case – the judiciary are involved in a political conspiracy against him, funded by the official opposition.

 

Is another financial crash coming?

Despite his claims of an economic miracle, the budget deficit of the USA has increased since Trump took office from 19.2 trillion dollars in 2016 to almost 23 trillion this year. He has himself in the past identified $24 trillion as the “point of no return”, i.e. the point at which the debt finally becomes unrepayable, ever, and so is to be defaulted on.

Although Trump’s past sayings are never a reliable guide to his future fantasies.

The six-times bankrupt loser does not care: massive deficits, the bigger the better, are how you run a business, and if anyone complains, or asks for their money back, you sue ’em. And in the case of entire countries, well, invade and take the oil seems to be the simple philosophy.

It’s never been a better time to be a lawyer in the USA. In addition to the – I’m taking these figures off the top of my head but they’re about right – 18 separate criminal investigations, Trump is also fighting over three THOUSAND civil suits, pro and con.

Nor, judging on the evidence of the things he has tweeted or spoken about in any of his famous “word salad” interviews, can Trump identify the technical differences between the budget deficit (i.e. government spending set against tax revenues), the trade gap (i.e. overall money-in, money-out in trade in goods and services with other countries), and the stockmarket (i.e. overall value of shares in a select number of traded public companies). To Trump, it’s all his money to spend as he likes.

So it may come as no surprise that increasing numbers of US economists are becoming alarmed.

Seven million Americans are reportedly at least three months behind on their car payments. Millions of those “sub-prime” borrowers of lease finance will also have credit-card debts and mortgages they can’t finance either, which is uncomfortably reminiscent of the situation in 2007 before the banks stopped lending to one another and several went belly-up, requiring $trillions in rescue funding.

For these folks, taxes have risen around 10 per cent this year, thanks to the Trump “reforms” they stupidly voted for, imagining (while billionaires trousered more billions) that a small, one-off reduction last year was for always.

Now why did they think that, we wonder?

Oh, could it be the President lied to them?

 

Not with a bang, but with a fart

“What we are now witnessing is extremely worrying,” said one of the paper’s lead authors, Professor Euan Nisbet of Royal Holloway, University of London. “It is particularly alarming because we are still not sure why atmospheric methane levels are rising across the planet.”

Duh!

The climate disruption story has been bedevilled by the lunacy of scientific silos; over-specialization leading to a crazy kind of reductionism that promotes separate, individual studies while occluding the much more alarming “big picture”.

Maybe the fact that the Arctic region especially has for several years been experiencing huge temperature anomalies, heat resulting in outgassing from thawing permafrost swamps, kaarst lakes and clumps of frozen methane on the shallow seabed of the East Arctic Siberian shelf, might have something to do with it?

Like the Arctic News blogspot scientists have been trying to say for the past four years?

But the report from the American Geophysical Union, at least those morsels mentioned in the press, signally fails to make any mention of this Arctic methane, or indeed fracking operations in Colorado, blaming instead cattle ranching and African swamps! Are these clever people idiots, or is there a fault with the reporting?

But at least the news of a methane crisis has finally come to the attention of scientists with access to mainstream media, as the story appears in today’s Observer newspaper, albeit on page 18; and a few people might start to take notice. CO2 buildup might well prove terminal by 2100, but a blowout of 500 gigatonnes of Arctic methane would mean curtains within months.

To date, only carbon dioxide has been seen as the villain, but it is carbon dioxide that is generating the warming that is freeing the methane, which is on average 60 times more potent a greenhouse gas and thus, the most important component of one of those rather important ‘feedback loops’ the recent IPCC report studiously ignored.

Deep breath, everybody….

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/17/methane-levels-sharp-rise-threaten-paris-climate-agreement

 

GW: Open the floodgates of Heaven

Greece: A search is still underway for 4 people missing, presumed drowned after their vehicle was swept away in flash flooding near Heraklion, Crete. “Heavy rain had affected the island over the last few days.  Some areas recorded around 400mm of rain between 12 and 17 February.” (Floodlist)

Zimbabwe: Many are thought to have drowned in a flooded mine after a dam wall collapsed near the town of Kidoma on 12 Feb. Elsewhere, 2 people were drowned in flooding in Masvingo province. The national weather service reported record rainfall of 203 mm in 24 hours, 13 to 14 February, breaking the previous high of 98 mm set in 1977. (Floodlist report)

USA: And the misery continues. Pulses of more prolonged, heavy rain are forecast for most of the week across the southern midwest, with widespread risk of flash- and river-flooding. Parts of Tennessee could see 7 to 10 inches of rain in the next few days. “The Storm Prediction Center has already issued a Day 6 outlook for potential severe weather on Saturday across this region, noting the possibility of tornado-favorable conditions. Long-range models are suggesting that at least one more round of heavy rain could affect the South early next week before February draws to a close.” (Wunderground)

Australia: “Tropical Cyclone Oma is tracking towards NE Australia after grazing New Caledonia. The Category 1 system currently packs peak sustained winds of 85 mph (137 km/h).” (Severe-weather.eu) A more recent update has Oma as a very wide, slow-moving Cat 3 Typhoon with a well-formed eye, one of the worst kind, although its track is uncertain. “Meteorologists can’t rule out the chance that Oma will cross the Queensland coast somewhere in the south-east, possibly on the weekend.” (MyGC.com.au) A 4-6 meter tidal surge is predicted. 2 tourists, one French, one British, have gone missing from a beach in Brisbane where conditions are already said to be treacherous.

UK: following last week’s warm spell, temperatures are set to dip a little but are expected to be as high as 20C, 68F in places by next weekend – possibly beating the 1998 record of 19.7C (Express). Certainly the official forecasts are for quite a warm weekend. Pinch yourself, it’s still February. Severe-weather.eu predicts that this plume of “incredibly warm” air coming up from western Europe will stretch all the way through Scandinavia into the Arctic and persist through next week.

Iceland: “A very intense cyclone (a so-called ‘bombogenesis’ cyclone or weather bomb) will develop across the North Atlantic later today and move towards Iceland and Greenland tomorrow and on Thursday (20-21 Feb.). A violent windstorm will result from this cyclone, bringing extremely severe winds in excess of 150 km/h as well as significant wave heights up to 15 metres.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser, biggest in the park, goes off for the 6th time this year (record 32 times last year). Selected seismometer data still being omitted from public records; magma still rising. A M3.2 earthquake was recorded inside the park, Sunday (Mary Greeley).

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The Pumpkin – Issue 75: A Master of Evasion… Her justice rewards… GW: Up and down on the great weather rollercoaster…

“Trump, eternally the great mob boss, never forgets nor forgives.”

A Master of Evasion

“So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post. Hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better & more responsible hands!”

This is the petty, vindictive little playground bully at his finest, the half-fuckwit, half-fatberg America inadvertently elected as its President in 2016. (The funniest insult of it being to call the putrid, conspiracy-theory-mongering supermarket gossip-sheet The National Enquirer a “competitor” to the internationally respected Post!) The tweet needs to be read with that slimy, slug-trail voice and a hint of narcissistic triumphalism.

The story of the feud between Trump and the enviably far richer Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and “world’s richest man” (if you don’t count Vladimir Putin, who may be at least twice as rich), is ably told by Washington reporter Ben Jacobs in today’s Guardian (8 Feb.)

Essentially, Mr Bezos owns the Post, a newspaper Mr Trump has happily co-operated with – and vice versa – in the past, but which now aggrieves him by doing snippy little things like enumerating the times he has outright lied to the American people – currently around 8,300 since he first assured everyone his inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s – on the basis of checkable facts; and criticizing his cackhanded mismanagement of the Oval Office.

The Post‘s heyday was, of course, in the mid 1970s when its dogged investigative team of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein played a large part in bringing down the corrupt but otherwise quite good President Richard M Nixon over the series of burglaries at the Watergate Complex he taped himself authorizing, to steal ‘dirt’ on his then-Democrat opponent, the hawkish Barry Goldwater.

Subsequently impeached for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and several violations of the Constitution, Nixon resigned with a full pardon in 1975. He was succeeded by Vice-President Gerald Ford, a man of whom it was said he was so dumb, he couldn’t shit and chew gum at the same time; and subsequently by the other halfway decent President, the Democrat Jimmy Carter.

There are gobsmackingly obvious parallels with the situation today facing Mr Trump, into whom there are now some 18 separate investigations ongoing alleging conspiracy with a foreign power to steal the 2016 election, misuse of campaign funds, obstruction of justice, money-laundering, tax fraud – and several (to put it mildly) violations of the constitution; notably the emoluments clause, in ignorance of which he continues to create any opportunity to enrich himself at the nation’s expense.

(It’s said that for his inauguration ceremonies, his Washington post-office hotel was charging foreign dignitaries $175,000 a night….)

We just haven’t quite got to the resignation speech yet.

Sadly, no Woodward and Bernstein today can contend with Mr Trump’s relentless campaign of character assassination against both the media and his own law-enforcement agencies, and his first-rate skills at blowing out dense clouds of purple smoke to distract the public attention whenever it looks like any further embarrassing revelations are about to emerge. He plays the media like a fiddle, as they say.

If the legion of investigative journalists and their many books and articles are to be believed, as no doubt they should be, mostly, Mr Trump is guilty of all those crimes and many more. But he is a master of evasion – and not just fiscally. The fingerprints have been wiped; finding the DNA, let alone a smoking gun, is taking the Special Counsel a frustratingly long time.

The Bezos affair is classic Trump.

For many years, Mr Trump’s friend, David Pecker, Editor-in-Chief of the salacious supermarket rag, The National Enquirer, had protected him by buying up as exclusives, any bad stories about him and then locking them away in a safe. It’s known in the yellow trade as ‘catch and kill’. Under guarantee of immunity, Mr Pecker has been spilling his guts to the FBI about it all, and specifically about the role played by Mr Trump’s personal bagman, Michael Cohen, shortly due to surrender himself to the prison authorities to start a three-year stretch.

Mr Trump’s vendetta against the Post appears to have extended recently to doing work on behalf of his Saudi paymasters. In his action against the Enquirer, that he has now launched alleging, among other things, blackmail, Mr Bezos’ lawyers are pointing to a special glossy supplement on Saudi Arabia that Mr Pecker published last year, totally against the scandal sheet’s normal editorial policy, praising the repressive and atavistic desert regime to the skies.

For three months, despite the assessments of his own intel community and the views of Republican senators in Congress – even that egregious little Trumpsucker, Sen. Graham – Mr Trump has been assiduously creating doubt and uncertainty over the role of Saudi Crown Prince bin-Salman in the brutal assassination of critic, Jamal Khashoggi… a special contributor to, as it happens, the Washington Post.

And then in January, an exclusive story appeared in the Enquirer about Mr Bezos and an affair with a former TV anchor, Lauren Sanchez – a report based on hacked text messages. Mrs Bezos is duly divorcing him and a settlement somewhere in the mid-billions is eagerly anticipated by those who get excited by such important news.

Bezos immediately launched an investigation into how the Enquirer and its parent company, AMI, had gotten hold of the story. He claims that his attempts to find the source of the hacked material to determine whether it and other Enquirer pieces in recent months had been politically motivated had led to threats from AMI to expose even more intimate photos the couple had exchanged.

In other words, blackmail – and foolishly offered in an email for all to read.

Instead of cowing down and paying up, Bezos went public and published full details of everything in the Post. Even people who loathe Amazon and its rapacious business model have had to admit, that was brave. Bezos’ implied assertion was that the intelligence service must have been involved – which could mean only one thing: the order came from the Very Top.

Is petty blackmail something you’re really going to try with the “world’s richest man”, involved in a long-running feud with the political motivator himself, President Donald Trump?

The obvious inference, amply reinforced by that sickening tweet, its triumphal crowing utterly demeaning of the sacred office of the President of the United States, for now – a monstrous spoiled, whining, devious, self-exonerating 9-year-old brat, of squalid habits and early-onset dementia trapped in the lumbering body of a man who cheats at golf, as well as on his wives – is that this was Pecker’s way of saying sorry to his “friend”.

We doubt it’ll get him off the hook. Trump, eternally the made-for-TV mob boss, never forgets nor forgives.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/07/jeff-bezos-national-enquirer-blackmail-claims-trump

Postscriptum: And in a small but intensely interesting sidelight on the Bezos affair, we have belatedly learned, the Daily Beast reported on 31 Jan. that Lauren Sanchez’ showbiz agent brother Michael is a known “business” associate of…. Roger Stone, another of Trump’s henchmen now under indictment, and has frequently tweeted political support for the President.

The question then becomes, has this whole affair been a honeytrap setup, the kind of exploit Mr Pecker’s safe is no doubt full of? Was any foreign agency involved in hacking Bezos/Sanchez’ texts and photos? Was this a politically motivated Kompromat operation against a hated enemy, that now threatens to blow up in the President’s curiously mottled orange face? (I’m wondering if it might be skin cancer?)

Sanchez and others, including AMI, the publisher of the Enquirer, are denying everything; the problem facing AMI group being that only last year they signed an agreement with the Mueller investigation that if they gave evidence against Michael Cohen they wouldn’t face prosecution – unless any further crime was committed within the next three years, in which case the FBI would throw the book at them.

So this is an existential matter for the publishers.

One further question remains. There being no fool like a staggeringly rich fool, may we ask: why oh why was Bezos, who is no longer 14 years old, stupid enough to post dick-pix to his girlfriend over social media?

(The Pumpkin has been itching to make this joke and so will risk it here: Why would anyone want to wake up to Bezos’ scrawny old head on the pillow? For a moment, they might wonder which way up he was sleeping… Sorry!)

 

Her justice rewards

Along with now-retired Senator Jeff Flake, “moderate” Senator Susan Collins from the moderate east coast lobster-fishing state of Maine was an outstanding holdout on the committee to confirm Trump-pick, Brett Kavanaugh as a job-for-life Supreme Court justice.

Kavanaugh, who allegedly assured Trump no sitting President could be indicted for crimes commited while in office. Kavanaugh, who dramatically defended himself against the sober testimony of women accusing him of gross improprieties while a college student.

Kavanaugh, whose emotionally overwrought self-defence was said by many witnesses never called to testify to have been a pack of lies; and who boasted of liking beer when the evidence suggested, he likes it a bit too much.

Kavanaugh, the subject of strong criticism from Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts; and of a warning letter to Congress, signed by over a thousand lawyers and professors of law who knew Kavanaugh’s record and judged it wanting.

Kavanaugh, who just last week fulfilled the dire warnings of the liberal establishment by recording a dissenting opinion in a Louisiana case, where the court ruled 5-4 to overturn a complicated new law that would have meant only one doctor being available in the entire state licensed to perform abortions.

In a dramatic turnround, however, when it came to the vote, Flake and Collins (see previous Posts) threw principle to the wind and voted with their fellow Retardicans to rubber-stamp Kavanaugh’s lifelong appointment to the court. The question remained: why?

Sen. Collins has now filed accounts, regarding her 2020 re-election campaign donations. To date, her PAC has benefited from $1.8 million dollars in funding. Since the day she changed her voting on Kavanaugh, a million dollars of that has been sent in from out-of-state donors, whom she does not even represent. (TYT/Ring of Fire, from Time Magazine reporting)

 

GW: Up and down on the great weather rollercoaster

World: “The start of 2019 has been marked by high impact weather in many parts of the world, including dangerous and extreme cold in North America, record heat, wildfires and rainfall in Australia, record temperatures and rainfall in parts of South America, and heavy snowfall in the Alps and Himalayas.

“Globally, temperatures were a little over 0.4°C warmer than the average January from 1981-2010.”

With an adjusted “realistic” baseline of 1750 AD (rather than NASA/IPCC’s 1951) when industrialization began; with allowances for ‘blank’ areas of the Arctic where no measurements were available, La Niña cooling, etc., and without even adding in potential feedbacks such as rapidly rising methane release, Arctic News’ “Sam Carana” (7 Feb.) estimates that global warming has already crossed the lower 1.5C “Paris” target. It was “1.73°C warmer than preindustrial in 2018. The (graph) also shows that it could become 1.85°C warmer in 2019.” Projections of the increase in global temperature cease by 2030 as 5C is considered terminal.

WMOpublic.wmo.int/en/media/news/2019-starts-extreme-high-impact-weather

arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/02/extinction-alert.html

USA: “At least 1 person (later 2) has died in flash flooding in Tennessee (and Ohio) after a storm system (Lucian) brought record-breaking rain to the Nashville area. Nashville recorded 4 in./ 101.6mm of rain on 6 Feb. This breaks the daily rainfall record for 06 February, 1.73 in./ 43.94mm set in 1884. It also exceeds the normal monthly rainfall for February, which is 3.94 inches / 100 mm. (from Floodlist). Indiana University, Bloomington was underwater, 8 Feb, and there was flooding in Indianapolis. Rivers are still rising as the frontal system has stalled and continues to dump impressive amounts of rain at the boundary, bringing warm air over the midwest ahead of another polar deep-freeze. (From Wunderground)

Update from The Weather Channel: “Winter Storm Maya will bring another round of snow to the Pacific Northwest to start the weekend, just days after Winter Storm Lucian (23 dead) snarled travel in both Seattle and Portland, Oregon, and this will kick off yet another expansive wintry mess of snow and ice across the Plains, Midwest and East into next week.” – weather.com/safety/winter/news/2019-02-07-winter-storm-maya-seattle-portland-midwest-east-snow-ice-forecast?cm_ven=wu_videos?cm_ven=hp-slot-1 Monday 11 Feb, Accuweather reports, Seattle had another 10-in. of snow over the weekend, its worst February total in decades.

Hawaii: “An intense winter storm will approach Hawaii from the north this weekend—an unusual trajectory that could bring a variety of destructive impacts to the 50th State. The angle of approach will push very strong northwest to north winds across the islands. Extremely high surf (waves up to 60 ft!) can be expected, especially along north- and west-facing coastlines and harbors, where the National Weather Service is warning that coastal flooding could be “unprecedented.” (Wunderground)

S America: “At least 16 people have died in landslides in La Paz Department, Bolivia. Heavy rain from 2 Feb. caused landslides along the Yolosita-Caranavi highway in Caranavi Province, burying several vehicles. Local authorities said that at least 16 people died and 53 were injured.” (from Floodlist)

“Southern Argentina broke a number of high temperature records on 4 February. The temperature in Perito Moreno (Patagonia) reached 38.2°C. Northeast Argentina, and the adjacent parts of Uruguay and Brazil have been hit with extensive flooding, with well above the long-term expected average rainfall. On January 8, the Argentine city of Resistencia recorded 224mm rainfall. This is a new 24-hour rainfall record, much higher than the previous highest of 206mm recorded in January 1994.” (From World Meteorological Association global report.)

Indonesia: The death toll in floods in Sulawesi towards the end of January is reported to be in the dozens. (BBC News) Homes and roads were washed away.

New Zealand: “Strong winds are expected to fan forest fires that have been burning for a week through New Zealand’s South Island, forcing thousands of people from their homes. Early on Sunday, 155 firefighters were battling the blaze on the ground with air support from 23 helicopters and three fixed wing planes … The Pigeon Valley fire covers 2,300 hectares (5,700 acres).” (Guardian) – and may according to subsequent reports go on burning for “weeks”.

Australia: as record flooding in Queensland slowly abates, farmers who originally celebrated the end of a seven-year drought are left counting the cost, confronted by a landscape strewn with up to half a million dead cattle they have no way of disposing of, polluting waterways.

Europe: Snow melt and heavy rain caused rivers in Bosnia to overflow from 5 Feb. Bridges, roads, homes and farm land have been damaged. Temperatures rose from sub-zero last week to around 15C. Some areas also saw heavy rain.” (From Floodlist). “A very deep cyclone (Storm Erik – “quite windy” BBC) will affect the UK and Ireland on 8 and 9 Feb. It will produce storm to potentially hurricane force winds, and locally quite significant rainfall totals. This is a potentially dangerous system. (Update: 3 dead.) Winds gusting above 100 km/h are expected across much of Ireland, Scotland, southwest and north England and Wales.” The same front has brought damaging wind gusts up to hurricane-force 160k/h and unseasonally warm conditions again to Iceland. (Severe-weather.eu)

India: The “capital Delhi was hit by a strong hailstorm on Thursday, turning the city white and leaving people stunned and delighted. Pictures and videos posted on social media show cherry-sized ice balls and streets covered in white.” – Normally lethal air quality temporarily improving as a result. “Parts of northern India have experienced heavy snowfall over the past days”… leading to avalanche warnings. (From BBC Weather)

Yellowstone: continuous small earthquakes and ground uplift ongoing in the Lake area. The live webcam at Old Faithful geyser is still down. “Deep low-frequency earthquake” signatures are showing up in the seismograph record all over the park, a type associated with rising magma. (Mary Greeley)

The panic begins: “I don’t know what everyone else is doing but my wife and I are moving to our off grid home up near Algonquin park in northern Ontario. GL to everyone we wish you the best. We are prepared with food and supplies and weapons that I have stock piled now for the past 4 years. Thank you Mary for the heads up and we will continue to watch your program from our off grid site. Much love and respect from Canada.” – Comment post, Mary Greeley website.

 

 

The scaly scales of justice, #1… The scaly scales of justice #2… Monstering cookies…Trump: Hittin’ ’em in the pocket… GW: sperm counts falling like snow…

Quote of the week

“You enabled the nationalism that threatens our societies. You stiffed so many of us. You fought for rules that let you steal the future from our children. You pushed for monopolies … and austerity and deregulation. People got angry, and some of them voted for hell. And who benefited? You again. Because instead of following their anger up to the summit where you gather, the enraged were goaded, sometimes by your fellow plutocrats, into punching downward and turning on the most vulnerable.” – Anand Giridharadas, in an open letter to the World Economic Forum (Davos), published in the New York Times.

According to Oxfam, the richest 26 individuals now own 50 per cent of the world’s wealth.

“Let the Yanquis come. They will see we have many more medals where these came from!” Venezuela prepares.

The scaly scales of justice #1

Despite turning up at court along with its co-defendants trailing no fewer than four pairs of defense barristers, “a spokesman for the University of Bristol said it was fully committed to assisting the coroner’s investigation and ensuring that any lessons learned were built into its support.

“At the heart of this is a student who has tragically died, her family, and members of our community who continue to be deeply affected by this loss. Our thoughts remain with Natasha’s family and friends. The evidence submitted in advance of the pre-inquest review shows that every effort was made to assist and support Natasha, both from within her school of physics and by the university’s pastoral support services,” the spokesman said.

Except that…. Natasha Abrahart had “’no direct contact’ with the university’s student wellbeing service, the first pre-inquest hearing in August last year was told.” Although as it turned out, she had emailed the university begging for help and seemingly got no reply. Now her parents are faced with at least £50 thousand in costs they are struggling to fund through an internet appeal, to try to match the legal firepower of the university, just to find out the truth about what happened to their daughter.

Meanwhile, student suicides continue to mount up: 95 in 2016-17 alone. (All from Guardian report, 22 Jan. http://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/jan/22/student-death-did-university-do-enough-help-natasha-abrahart-bristol)

Somehow our institutions – universities, the police, the NHS, the Home Office, the Department of Work and Pensions – have to be made to take responsibility for their failings and stop lying and bullying and spending their way out of trouble with our money.

The scaly scales of justice, #2

Nixonian fixer (he apparently bears a tattoo of Nixon’s face across his scrawny shoulderblades), Trump bagman and all-round dirty trickster, the reptilian Roger Stone, 64, was arrested before dawn by armed, presumably pissed-as-hell, unpaid FBI agents today and bailed for $250 thousand on 7 charges, mostly to do with lying to everyone and intimidating a witness, presumably Jerome Corsi – Obama “birther conspiracy theorist and occasional conservative pundit” (Vox).

Released from the courtroom, he reached immediately for a phone and called the one man in America he thought would stand by him: Alex Jones, the rabid rightwing motormouth and bitterly estranged father-of-two who fronts the shameless but relentlessly constructive InfoWars YouTube channel, and his two million Adderall-addicted followers.

Protesting his innocence of what he called the “bogus” investigation into collusion with Russia (he is now the 36th entity to be indicted by several Grand Juries on “bogus” charges concocted by the Mueller team), Stone nobly declared: “”There’s no circumstance under which I would bear false witness to the president.”

It’s my long-held belief that, as a nabbed henchman, you can only betray someone if they are actually guilty of doing something that’s probably illegal, or hiding dark secrets. Otherwise, there’s nothing to betray. But the suggestion that Stone has become the victim of a brutal and intimidatory Deep State system that might somehow force him to declare falsely that the President is a Kremlin stooge is straight out of the “Tommy Robinson” persecution playbook.

While the charges contain no suggestion of collusion with the Russians, Mr Stone has had some problems recently explaining why he went around boasting to everyone about his relationship with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, The ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ of London SW1, who most certainly did “collude” in the release of tens of thousands of emails illegally hacked by the Russians from Clinton and her campaign staffers, if he really didn’t.

I’d say “watch this space!” but I’m losing track of them all. There’ll be a new space along tomorrow.

 

Monstering cookies

As I don’t keep up with the technology stuff, I have little idea – is it an EU thing? – why every damn website now has to put up a big box obscuring their page content, requiring you first to grant permission for them to slap cookies all over your computer; and then to switch off your adblocker so they can show you wonders you have no interest in.

The BogPo doesn’t do it, why should they?

Why do they want or need to give you cookies in the first place? I only want to read the fucking article, maybe even not that much, just check a name or a quote or something in the first lines. I may not ever return to that site, it’s just research, a reference thing. I’m not interested in subscribing for everything they publish. I don’t want to participate in some obscure game of drones, to capture my location and identity and have ads pointlessly targeted at me.

If you’re brazen anough to want to openly publish information on the worldwide web, it’s my view you shouldn’t put more terms and conditions on my right to read it than you absolutely need to; and leave my privacy alone.

Even less reasonable, it seems to me, is that I should have to tick that box every damn time I bring up the same website. It cannot be without the bounds of possibility to employ a one-tick-is-forever system. Once you’ve put your damned cookie on my computer, for whatever purpose, why do you need my recurrent permission to leave it there? It’s just annoying, and not likely to endear me to you

Grrr.

 

Trump: Hittin’ ’em in the pocket

As we all kno, the FBI is Trump’s chief bête noir: an existential threat both to him and his family, and to his tenure of a brain-damaged presidency he never really wanted and for which he was spectacularly unqualified and unprepared.

Not only is the Special Counsel, Bob Mueller reliant on handpicked federal agents to pursue his inquiry into Trump’s financial dealings, that may amount to decades of money-laundering; his ties (we can put the prefix “loyal-” to that) to Russia, and his illegal attempts to lie and deceive the American public into believing he is innocent while investigators are pursuing what he continually mischaracterizes as a politically inspired “witch hunt” against him.

The FBI is also itself pursuing many lower level enquiries at the behest of courts and grand juries all over Washington, Virginia and New York, including into already indicted Trump lieutenants Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Rick Gates, Sam Nunberg, George Papadopoulos, etc. as well as Erik Prince, DHS Secretary Nielsen and others connected with his administration; but most especially, into the Trump children: Don Jr, Eric, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, and their roles in the many scams the First Crime Family has perpetrated in its gilded patriarch’s insatiable quest to finally please his dead dad, Fred.

So how to shut down those investigations and make them go away? Why, suggests MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, there is surely no better way than by so damaging the FBI’s employees financially that it exposes them to loss of their security clearances, their family health insurances and their jobs on grounds of vulnerability to corrupt offers from criminals and spies; not to mention making working for the FBI a less than glamorous career option for the best graduates when you know you could be putting your life on the line every day for no pay, on the whim of a vindictive sociopath in the White House.

Under cover of a manufactured crisis on the southern border, based on phoney fears of a mass “invasion” of criminal migrants, and a preposterous demand for billions of dollars of public money to build a 2,000-mile border wall, or fence, or “steel slats”; a “wall” that most experts believe would have not the slightest effect on drugs and crime and illegal immigration in the country; a “wall” that the opposition Democrats simply would not accept as public policy when funding is sorely needed for so many more socially useful causes; a “wall” that Trump pretends is so vitally necessary to national security that to obtain it may not preclude him taking emergency powers; an illogical, ineffectual, stupid “wall” with which he seems so unshakeably obsessed, the Great Dealmaker has deliberately manufactured a blunt instrument: a shutdown of many government departments, including, as it happens, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

That is to say, a shutdown but not always a cessation of work. FBI agents, who cannot go on strike, are being forced to continue working without pay, and have already missed one monthly check as the shutdown spreading out to affect millions of hard-pressed people living from month to month – including many Trump supporters, whom he seems to be throwing under the bus – and costing the economy billions of dollars, enters its second month with no resolution in sight. Even now, US airports are clogging up, with flight delays around 45 minutes, as everyone from the air traffic controllers to the intimidating immigration staff is not getting paid.

That’s despite the House majority Democrats helpfully offering repeated bills to keep the finances flowing – bills that the profoundly corrupt, arch-Trumpsucker and Senate leader from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell – Cocaine Mitch, as he’s been called – refuses to debate unless there’s $5.7 billion for the “wall”. It’s been his dubious role to block any legislation the Republican funders won’t support, going back to the Clinton era.

FBI offices are reported to be opening food banks for cash-stricken employees.

The majority of Americans, two-thirds have not bought Trump’s lie that the crisis is all the fault of the Democrats. They all saw and heard him take responsibility for what the wily Speaker Pelosi was calling “the Trump shutdown”. They can clearly see who is obstructing the legislature. Daily, he piles lie upon lie*: one of the latest being to claim the “wall” will solve the opioid crisis that is killing 50 thousand Americans every year, when any fule kno’, the opioid drugs are being manufactured legally by Big Pharma in the USA and overprescribed by doctors, not smuggled across borders.

Indeed, his claims are getting so lurid and far-fetched it’s impossible to think that he really believes in them himself.

But it may not yet have sunk in, that there is a distinct possibility this whole shitty mess affecting many government departments has been deliberately created as smoke and mirrors, while the real aim is to hit just one specific target:

The pockets of the people lawfully investigating “Individual 1’s” – the “unindicted co-conspirator’s” – the President’s many crimes.

Thom Hartmann has a most excellent commentary on all of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km20E5_-TqM

Addenda

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reports, there has also been some written evidence in the form of memos suggesting that the “crisis” at the border may have been cooked up in the Oval Office as early as 2017 to provide false evidence on which to hang future “emergency” decrees amounting to a potential seizure of the government.

She further mentions, the appropriate contractor Trump will need to go to for slats employing the right kind of steel for his border wall is a Canadian company owned by a Russian, Chelsea FC’s very own Roman Abramovitch: sometime rubber-duck salesman, Israeli citizen, owner of the world’s biggest superyacht, leading contributor to the Putin slush-fund, victor of the somewhat bloody ‘aluminium wars’ of the 1990s and married to Irina, one of Ivanka Trump’s closest friends.

Trump is no doubt most apologetic for having been made to sign a Congressional order sanctioning the $11 billion oligarch back in 2018. As we’ve discovered with Paul Manafort, for Putin’s favorite olgarchs it’s payback time.

*The Washington Post‘s tally of Trump’s lies now stands at over 8 thousand since he took office two years ago. On a good day he manages around 30.

 

Things are spinning out of control.

Against a background of economic collapse engineered in part by US interests opposed to the shambolic leftwing government in Venezuela, bereft of any sound foreign policy advice the idiot Trump has tweeted that he is backing Juan Guaido, a 35-year-old rightwing opposition politician from the sidelined national assembly, who has declared himself ‘Interim President’.

You’d think Trump would approve more of the populist (but not popular) President Maduro, a blundering incompetent who he says is an unelected dictator, rather than supporting a coup whose figurehead claims to be a Libertarian, but there’s nothing rational or consistent about the US president other than his ceaseless quest for money and validation.

Maduro says he’s staying, and appears still to command the loyalty of the security forces, so things seem set for a showdown. American diplomats have been given 72 hours to leave the country. Civil war looms, with the potential for US military intervention: nothing is off the table, says Trump.

Meanwhile, the would-be dictator Trump’s former attorney and criminal bagman, Michael Cohen, has had to plead with Congress to postpone a scheduled appearance in front of a sitting committee because Trump has openly threatened his family if he testifies.

Further explanation comes from Trump’s senile motormouth attorney Rudy Giuliani: Cohen’s father-in-law is Ukrainian. ‘Nuff said? No? Well, organized crime… ya know? Nudge nudge…

Trump, who now no longer seems to care what he says or does, despite his rocketing public disapproval ratings, up 9 points this week, has also seemingly warned House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi to “be careful”, if she continues to refuse him the chair in Congress to deliver his State of the Union address on the 29th unless he orders federal workers whose pay he has suspended for the past month back to work.

See, the nasty mans

Among other threats Trump is making, is to speed up deportations of the children of ‘undocumented’ immigrants with temporarily protected status under an Obama-era decree. Meanwhile his Republican apologists are brushing aside claims of hardship as 800 thousand federal workers face a second missed paycheck: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, until his appointment a director of a bank heavily sanctioned for money-laundering and run by the man who loaned Trump millions of dollars he has yet to pay back, being typically helpful in suggesting they could take out bank loans to pay their rent.

Other leading Republicans have suggested the government workers should be grateful they’re getting a free extension to the Christmas holiday, claiming that it’s a privilege to be able to make this sacrifice for the future of their country.

Is anyone else re-arming, and shouldn’t we be?

It surely ought to have clicked with poison-monkey Ross of all people, a man with a face like the portrait in his attic, that US banks wouldn’t even lend to Trump anymore. Banks only lend to customers with proven income.

It’s hard to see why the country is not engulfed in fire and fury against these fucking monstrous sons of bitches.

 

GW: sperm counts falling like snow

USA: “Parts of the Midwest and Northeast were still digging out Monday after Winter Storm Harper dumped 1-2 feet of snow in some locations and brought some of the coldest temperatures of the season. In the Northeast, the storm left behind a trail of thousands of flight cancelations, hundreds of crashes, thousands of homes without power and at least 10 dead. In addition to ice and snow, several states were dealing with coastal flooding on Sunday.” (from Floodlist)

“Two more blasts of bitterly cold air will dive across the central and eastern U.S. through next week, bringing widespread subzero temperatures to the Midwest while also keeping the South and Northeast shivering at times. Temperatures as low as minus 20F with -40F windchill are forecast for next week as far south as Missouri.” (The Weather Channel)

Africa: The Red Cross reports that torrential rain and flooding in Burundi has left at least 10 people dead and over 100 homes damaged or destroyed. The rain began late on 17 January, 2019, causing severe material damage. In Niger, emergency relief efforts are underway as extensive flooding around the capital, Niamey, has affected more than a thousand homes. (from Floodlist)

Madagascar: Heavy rainfall that began late on 19 January, 2019, has caused problems in the capital, Antananarivo. Local media say that several people have died, some are still missing and several were injured after buildings collapsed due to heavy rain, landslides and flooding. AFP news agency reports  the death toll is 9. (from Floodlist)

Australia: “At least 28 locations hit all-time highs on Thursday. In Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, the official West Terrace station rocketed to 46.6°C (115.9°F) … About 200 miles away, the city of Port Augusta hit its all-time high on Thursday with a blistering 49.5°C (121.1°F). … “the Red Rocks Point station—which faces Antarctica from the Nullarbor coast—hit 49.1°C (120.4°F): ‘the highest temperature recorded anywhere in the world at such a close distance (70 metres) from an open ocean.'”. (Wunderground)

“Around two dozen (later 90) wild horses in various stages of decomposition have been discovered strewn along a 100-metre stretch of a swimming spot called Deep Hole, 20 kilometres from the remote community of Santa Teresa.” (The watering hole has run dry. Deaths of wild camels are also being reported.) “The region has hit a record 12-day run of temperatures above 42C.” (ABC News)

Europe: “Yet another excessive snowfall event is developing across the western and northwestern Balkan peninsula through the middle of this week as a deep cyclone … pushes into the north-central Mediterranean region. Up to 20-50 cm of fresh snow is possible in many areas, locally even more. Severe winds will result in blizzard conditions in some areas. Up to 70-100 mm of rainfall is likely along the W coast of Greece. Also some very windy weather, particularly at higher elevations on Crete and islands in the eastern Aegean region, where peak winds will likely exceed 100 km/h.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Spain: “4 people have died in landslides and flooding caused by (three) days of heavy rains in northern Spain. One of the victims was swept away by flooding from an overflowing river in Tineo. The other victims died in separate incidents in Laviana, Mieres and Salas when their vehicles were either swept from the roads or caught in landslides.” (Floodlist)

And disturbing news for increasing numbers of migrants trying to reach Europe. Thanks to that deep Arctic low, “waves reaching maximum heights up to 10-14 meters are expected on Friday, pushing towards the eastern Mediterranean and affecting the coasts of (Algeria) Libya and western and southern Crete. Expect the waves to gradually diminish over the weekend.” (Severeweather.eu)

Visit the BBC’s weather service and marvel as a gurning Darren Bett prattles on about the jetstream keeping cold air hanging over the British Isles for a few days, while failing to remark that his graphic shows there is a huge broken loop trailing all the way from the Arctic down into the Sahel.

It’s not supposed to do that.

The living end…

High energy: The National Audit Office reveals, the British taxpayer is having to pick up the £24 billion bill for previously agreed tax reliefs for oil and gas companies decommissioning their North Sea drilling rigs, as the wells run dry. The figure is related to their tax-deductible losses, so the more money they can manage to lose, the more the Treasury is obliged to refund them.

Yellowstone: The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, there was a new swarm of quakes in the caldera over the weekend. Two larger quakes – M2.8 and M3.0 – hit close to Old Faithful geyser on the 21st. SO2 and ancient helium outgassing is seriously increasing; as is the upwelling magma, with continuing ground deformation, seismic drumbeats and tornillo waves, and rising ground and water temperatures.

If that’s not enough….

A new threat related to global warming has been identified: a decrease of ozone in the stratosphere. As warmer air becomes more laden with water vapor it’s allowing increasing amounts of life-ending UV-B radiation to reach the earth’s surface. Arctic News’ “Sam Carana” reports:

“Rising temperatures cause heat stress and infertility, and there are domino effects (especially for rising ocean methane emissions. GW). Furthermore, stratospheric ozone loss causes cancer and infertility. Only once the ozone layer formed on Earth some 600 million years ago could multicellular life develop and survive. Further loss of stratospheric ozone could be the fastest path to extinction for humanity, making care for the ozone layer imperative. As described in an earlier post, Earth is on the edge of runaway warming and a moist-greenhouse scenario means oceans are evaporating into the stratosphere with loss of the ozone layer.” http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/

Following that up, because Carana is an acquired taste, your Gran finds the following on NASA’s website:

“NASA scientists analyzing 30 years of satellite data have found that the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation reaching Earth’s surface has increased markedly over the last three decades. …UV-B damages DNA, causing a range of health problems such as skin cancer and diseases affecting the immune system.”

And from The Conversation, a report that finds extreme heatwaves can seriously damage male fertility:

“… (Red flour) beetles, and many cold-blooded animals, can live for years and are likely to see multiple heatwaves. When we exposed (beetle) males to two heatwave events, ten days apart, their offspring production was less than 1% of that of unheated males.” – Kris Sales, PhD researcher in evolution biology, University of East Anglia.

So keep fanning yer nuts, mateys, or we’re done fer!

 

 

A BogPo slowly forms: Go, Munchkins. Munchkins are go!…You can’t wait until Kevin Gates… The Light fantastic… Yet stands Boglington-on-Sea… GW: No business like snow business… Not so fast: RIP George

Quote of the Month

The Tweet: “You have Walls, and you have Wheels. It was ALWAYS that way and it will ALWAYS be that way.”

The follow-up: “You know, I said to some people over the weekend, you have walls, you have wheels, and some things that never get old. They’re not gonna change.”

Donald J Trump first tweets, and then clearly explains to his bemused cabinet, why he needs $5.7 billion to build his insane border wall, that may be a fence, possibly even on wheels, who knows?

 

Go, Munchkins. Munchkins are go!

The American Treasury Secretary is a person called Steve Mnuchin. He’s not very popular, not since he was unwisely photo-opped grinning smugly next to his expensive and arrogant young wife, looking like a Russian spy or something, while gloating over a sheet of dollar bills newly printed with his name on them, as if they belonged to him.

I say “or something”, because there’s an unexpectedly heavy aroma of massive collusion potentially amounting to treason hanging over the Munchkin today, and he’s so dumb, he may not even know it.

“Here’s the wages you ain’t gettin’ paid, suckers!” The Munchkins at work and play.

It goes back to Trump, of course, and the day in 2013 when he delivered whatever remained of his soul up to the Kremlin.

It was in Moscow, and he was there to launch his tacky Miss Universe pageant, maybe get to paternally fondle a few bare asses, and there was a dinner party. Putin wasn’t present, but a baker’s dozen of his ‘cronies’ were, call it a coven – and Trump boasted excitedly afterwards like the child he is that “all the oligarchs were there”, this gang of grotesquely rich criminal billionaires who had all profited from dodgy selloffs of state assets at the people’s expense, whom he greatly admires for their enterprise.

It was then that, flattered by the attention of his idols, Trump seems to have done his fatal deal over Trump Tower Moscow, that lies at the center of everything Bob Mueller has been investigating. A gossamer sheet of lies still hangs between the President and members of his campaign team, many of whom have already been indicted and even gaoled for trying to coverup what went on, but the evidence must surely be that Trump himself presided over their actions.

And what it essentially boils down to is that, to finance possibly the biggest deal of his life, a project sold to him everso sweetly and innocently by the Russian mafiosi around his table, and dangled like a carrot by Putin – Trump allegedly offered him the $50 million penthouse suite for free if only his friend Vladimir would approve it – Trump set his team the task of privately continuing negotiations even while publicly distancing himself as a candidate for the US presidency – and beyond.

It was far from the first time that Trump had taken Russian money. In the 1980s, his failing casinos were bankrolled by a man believed to be at the head of a major crime organization, Semyon Mogilevitch. Mogilevitch associates and others subsequently acquired many Trump properties at grossly inflated prices suggestive of money-laundering. And the Trump boys have both said at one time or another that they get all the funding they need for the golf courses and so on from Russia – “we’re in and out of there all the time”, said Don Jr, breezily, even as his father was frantically lying to the nation that he had no business dealings whatever with Russia.

United in hatred of Clinton, the Russians were angling for a US administration that would lift the damaging sanctions imposed on them, and so offered to help fix the election. In return, presumably, they had agreed to find Trump the money and permissions he would need for the insanely expensive Tower he had been dreaming of building for years.

His Moscow business partner, property magnate Aras Agalarov, was behind the fixing of the 9 June, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, New York with the Kremlin lawyer, Natalya Veselnitskaya – who was indicted just five days ago on charges of providing false evidence to a New York court in an apparently unrelated case involving a $230 million tax fraud in Russia. Unrelated, that is, but for the presence in the background of another of Trump’s Russian business partners, the notorious Felix Sater, thought to have helped launder the proceeds through offshore vehicles.

And by the presence at the meeting of Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort; a meeting about whose exact purpose Trump, his family and members of his team were to lie increasingly desperately for months. (Indeed, we still don’t really know. Manafort’s history of fixing elections in Ukraine might tell us something; while the claimed purpose of obtaining “dirt” on Hillary Clinton might well relate to any leverage the St Petersburg trollfarm boys would have been able to bring to bear against the Democrats in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, of which more in a minute.)

But Putin’s own plans went far beyond a piffling few billion dollars, a penthouse and a new excrescence on Moscow’s historic skyline.

He saw an opportunity to own his very own President, who could be ordered to spin an entirely new US foreign policy that would benefit his project to restore Russia’s sphere of influence to Soviet dimensions, and perhaps beyond to the recovery of sovereign territories lost in Gorbachov’s shameful era of Glasnost and Perestroika.

Mr Trump has not let him down.

A court filing released in the past few days was so ineptly redacted by the lawyers that journalists were easily able to see behind the blacked-out sections that campaign chair Paul Manafort’s role in the plan has been exposed by Mueller.

And now Mnuchin has been summonsed by Congress to explain something quite shocking.

Manafort was himself compromised by a $19 million debt to a sanctioned Putin oligarch called Oleg Deripaska, a longtime player on the international stage, ‘friend’ of British Labour peer and former EU Trade Commissioner, Lord Peter Mandelson, that he couldn’t repay.

It now appears that the price of forgiveness was to work with a contact from the GRU, Russia’s foreign intelligence arm, one Konstantin Kilimnick, to obtain useful polling data from certain swing states, enabling the hackers in St Petersburg to focus their efforts on finding and influencing Democratic voters there, weaponizing the data.

US elections are a bizarre entanglement of rules and procedures. But the plan worked: those were the very same states where the Clinton campaign rashly felt safe enough – may even have been persuaded by covert GRU disinformation – to reduce their hustings; the three key states where, despite not having a popular majority in the country overall, on 11/9/2016 Trump had secured sufficient numbers to gain by just 77,000 votes enough delegates to win the presidency in the Electoral College.

And on 17 December 2018, the day Congress was shutting down for Christmas, it quietly slipped out into the public domain, with almost zero media coverage and no explanation, that Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, had unilaterally lifted the sanctions on some companies linked with Russia’s Aluminum Tsar, Oleg Deripaska.

The question must surely be left hanging, Cheshire-catlike, in the air: has Putin also bought himself a direct line in to the US Treasury?

They need to be told.

Urgently.

 

You can’t wait until Kevin Gates

A story of terminal frivolity

A Japanese tech startup has unveiled at the CES Tech show in Los Angeles, a touch-enabled device that performs all of the functions of a Google Home Help or an Alexa.

So what? You may ask. Do we need another spy in the corner, that can turn the lights on when you shout at it, play your favorite tunes just like Spotify, and send details of every sigh and curse you emit to an advertiser somewhere, to have your data blended into persuasive messages?

Well, yes. Because, unlike tech devices made to look uncannily like tech devices, this device is modeled on… a plank.

An ordinary, featureless wooden plank. Brown, about 14 inches long by two inches wide and maybe 3/4-inch deep.

You know, the plank that usually serves as a metaphor for stupidity, as in: “(Former Brexit Secretary) David Davis is as thick as two short planks”.

The kind that if you found it lying around the house, you’d chuck it out in the shed thinking, that might come in useful for something someday; knowing deep down it never will.

Touch the plank, however, and miraculously control buttons light up out of the bare wood, and words and numerals and numerous icons and slidy things are obtained, Lord knows how, because there was no sign of them under the smooth grain of the plank, but there they are.

The plank is interactive.

You can talk to the plank, too. Surely, one of the great marketing concepts.

And when middle-aged white-guy and overweighting BBC substitute techie teenager, Rory Cellan-Jones asks it to demonstrate, he slowly and deliberately asks the plank, which is called Mui, “What’s the weather like today, Mui?”

And slowly the plank lights up, words appear, and it replies:

“You can’t wait until Kevin Gates.”

Thus proving that, at least, it recognizes a verb when it sees one.

I fear the end may be nigher than we think.

 

The Light fantastic…

And indeed, so does Dr Malcolm Light, earth systems scientist.

Interestingly, I posted a Comment on The Guardian website that referred readers to the following story just now, and for some unknown reason, my Comment disappeared a few minutes later, without even a note to say it had been Moderated. You’ll maybe see why.

A new report on the website Arctic-news.blogspot.com (7 Jan.) makes for chilling reading in a warming world:

“Recent data from the Arctic confirm an exponential rise in the temperature anomaly of the Arctic stratospheric methane which is now 65 degrees C above the normal, while it was only 20 degrees C above the normal, 6 to 8 years ago. Using this data and the recent … estimates of the minimum Arctic ice shelf volume it is now possible to estimate the timing of the Arctic – Permian style methane blowout firestorm.”

Indeed, Dr Light estimates that on present trends, after the initial eruption in 2021 we should have about another year before the “methane burp” – the anticipated rapid outgassing of explosive methane from the Arctic ocean floor predicted by Arctic researcher, Dr Natalya Shakhova – pushes global temperature by 10C and boils us all “like lobsters”.

“The Major Arctic Permian Style, Methane Blowout – Firestorm Event which will cause the release of some 50 Gt of methane from the Arctic shelf and slope (Shakhova, 2010), a 10 Degree Centigrade Rise in Mean Global Atmospheric Temperatures causing a Catastrophic Permian Style Global Extinction Event, is timed to begin on 4th September, 2021. There is a 95% probability that the Arctic Ice Shelf will have Zero Volume by the 5th of September 2022.”

And thus, by September 2023 it’s game over. The one positive being that we shan’t have to worry about Brexit anymore, as the global backstop looks pretty final.

I know we all feel a bit like this in January, but this is looking a bit serious. Dr Light, late of the Centre for Polar Observation and Monitoring, goes on with the use of many dire capital letters to advise:

“Do not worry about dying as it comes to all of us in the end, only this time we will all be going together. The Earth will soon after, lose all its oceans and become ‘Venus Like’.”

As he explained in a 2014 interview:

“There are such massive methane reserves below the Arctic Ocean floor (more than 5000 billion tons of methane carbon) that they represent around 100 times the amount that is required to cause a Permian style major extinction event, should about one percent of the sub-sea Arctic methane be released into the atmosphere. There are also giant reservoirs of mantle methane, originally sealed in by shallow methane hydrate plugs in fractures cutting the Arctic seafloor. Unfortunately for us, global warming has heated up the oceanic currents fed by the Gulf Stream flowing into the Arctic, causing massive destabilization of the sub-sea methane hydrates…”

There is no technological fix for this problem; it’s not CO2, shutting the factories and power plants and permanently parking the cars while we build more windmills won’t change anything. CO2 has done its work already: putting Earth on course for an uninhabited hothouse world.

 

Borderline nuts

A GoFundMe campaign to persuade fellow Trump supporters to donate to a $1 billion fund to contribute to building the President’s insane wall running 2,000 miles along the border with Mexico has raised just $20 million. A significant amount, but only 2 per cent of the target.

And because the President stamped his dainty little foot and abused his powers to shut large swathes of the Government down, holding 800 thousand poorly paid Government workers, their families and local shopkeepers hostage to his demented fantasy, there’s nobody in position within the administration to accept the donations anyway.

So, having failed to meet the stated objective the organizers have had to switch the basis of the appeal to the funding of a private company that plans to go ahead and build the wall themselves. the wall for which the President wants $5.7 billion.

Which means refunding the original donations.

And we think Britain is a divided nation in which a bunch of calculating thugs in yellow tabards is yelling at the smart people that they’re not happy and it’s all our fault.

Indeed so confused have things become, that violent ultra-nationalist protestors on the far-right are accusing Remain-leaning MPs in the centre of both left and right parties of being Nazis.

 

Yet stands Boglington-on-Sea

A project funding ‘expert’ has described a suggestion by the Energy minister that Britain could fund future nuclear power stations by offering developers more of the future revenues up-front – at cost to the consumer – as: “A desperate leap in the dark”. (BBC)

Hmmmn.

Speaking of darkness, I collared a young lad on the footpath yesterday evening while out walking dogs (he being the only other person around, the son of a neighbour), and asked him to witness something rather strange I had observed.

My phone battery had died and there would never be any other evidence.

Away over on the horizon was a blood-red sunset. I’d watched it turn from a shimmering pinkish glow and grow brighter and redder and broader, until it consumed the whole of a bank of low cloud; while directly up above, a flocculent cloudscape outlined against a pale blue sky was turning fiery pink.

So it was sunset! I hear you jeer. What’s so unusual about that?

Yes. Except that the sun normally sets in the west. Due west, across the town. And this was in the south-west, down the coast. Where the sun should have been setting remained resolutely grey.

It was a phenomenon (we don’t say ‘phenomena’ for the singular, as the idiots now do. ‘Phenomena’ is the name of a 2013 film directed by Steve Coogan and starring Dame Judy Dench) to rival another I had witnessed only a few nights before.

Being dragged out by Hunzi for his last-gasp walk, at about 11.15 p.m., through the darkness we observed the sky over the town had turned a bright, fiery red. It honestly looked as though some huge conflagration had broken out and was being reflected back by clouds. But no sirens could be heard.

I hastened to a better vantage point where no buildings intruded. It was so bright, I was able to take photographs. Ultimately, my excitement died down and I realized, it was only the sodium street lights of the town refracted in a bank of sea-mist.

Yet stands Boglington-on-Sea.

 

GW: No business like snow business

Europe: up to 3 meters of snow on high ground in Austria and SE Germany generated red warnings, and there have been casualties from avalanches and falling trees: 12 dead to date, with more snow forecast for the weekend. Northern Greece registered a low of -23C but more southerly Greek temperatures are expected back up to 17C with intense rainstorms forecast – social media photos are circulating of snow on the beaches near Athens. (Guardian/Wunderground)

USA: Unusually, the whole of the United States from coast to coast is in a low-temperature anomaly, without the pattern of cold-east, hot-west we’ve seen for the past two years at least. Temperatures in places like Santa Fe were barely above freezing. “Winter Storm Gia will spread a swath of snow and some ice from parts of the Rockies, Plains and Midwest to the mid-Atlantic into this weekend, making travel a challenge in these areas. Gia was named late Thursday afternoon as the number of people in winter storm warnings surpassed 2 million. (The Weather Channel)

Update: The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation order for residents below the Thomas Fire and Sherpa/Whittier Fire burn areas, as a (second) winter storm bears down on the Central Coast. (Mary Greeley). The third, fast-moving storm in the series to hit California is expected to move into the area Tuesday into early Wednesday with a potential for rain and snow in the higher elevations. The fourth system, expected to be the strongest and wettest of the three, will hit the area Wednesday and Thursday. Debris flows and mudslides are likely in areas where heavy rain hits burn areas. (The Weather Channel)

Australia: And after a few cyclonic days, Roasting Matilda is back. “Low-intensity heatwave conditions have been forecast across parts of central Western Australia to southern parts of the Northern Territory, southwestern Queensland and across New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Every state and territory will bake through a heatwave on Monday with meteorologists saying soaring temperatures (up to 45C, 113F) will last for days in some parts.” (Guardian)

 

End News…

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser, largest in the park, has erupted for the first time in 2019, on 04 Jan., after a year in which 33 eruptions were recorded – 4 more than in the previous record year, 1964. The average is 2 or 3 a year. Ground uplift and water temperatures continuing to rise as 300 cubic miles of magma makes its way toward the surface. (Mary Greeley website)

Update: ground shaking, small quakes, magma rising, sulphur dioxide emissions off the scale…. just sayin’ (Mary Greeley)

Trump shutdown: “The 99th meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) is being held this week in Phoenix, Arizona, but a huge hole in the meeting has been created by the absence of U.S. government scientists, who were denied attendance due to the ongoing government shutdown. At least 700 scientists who were scheduled to attend could not, leading to the cancellation or last-minute rearrangement of about a quarter of all of the talks.” (Wunderground)

Anyone would think Trump is doing this deliberately.

 

Not so fast: RIP George

‘George’, the last surviving Hawaiian Tree Snail, has died at the ripe old age of 14.

The story of Achatinella apexfulva is a paradigm for the ignorance and stupidity with which humans have approached the “stewardship” of the planet.

Had it not been for an outbreak of snail disease in the study colony, where the last of the species clung on in captivity, and but for 250 years of human depredation – before Europeans arrived the snail had no natural predators – perhaps the once abundant species might have hung around in the trees a while longer.

But its extinction was assured following the the deliberate introduction in 1955 of the predatory Rosy Wolf Snail, which was supposed to get rid of the accidentally introduced Giant African Snail but set about feasting on all the other species as well.

On New Year’s Day 2019, the Hawaiian Tree Snail was declared extinct. (Guardian Green Light)

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

Quote of the Week

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

 

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

And you thought we baby boomers were such squares!

 

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

 

Trump in the dock

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

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

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

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

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

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

May he rot, quite frankly.

 

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

 

On the up. And then the down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

I know just how they feel!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Old King Coal

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actually, I can think of a few more.

 

That sinking feeling…

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

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

 

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 71: The strange crime of Paul Manafort… Lax financial regulation… Ha!… GW: Has it all blown over yet?

“Er, Houston, we have a problem… (bleep) stowaway on board… (bleep) says his name’s Musk…”

NASA successfully lands InSight probe on Mars

 

“Donald Trump has apparently succeeded in scamming the supposedly cast-iron Purple Heart ex-marine, Mueller; a minor victory that will undoubtedly give him great satisfaction as he shuffles bald-headed to the latrine to empty his night soil, avoiding the gaze of large negroes.”

The strange crime of Paul Manafort

Just when you thought the Trump presidency was running out of the most appalling words and deeds and mispunctuated Twitter characters, and the Orange Panda was losing touch with reality as the Mueller investigation closes in on him and his family, comes time to think again.

There is no bottom to the man.

The most astonishing twist yet in the whole “collusion” saga has emerged in the last three days, when NBC News reported that they’d received a bunch of papers, apparently authentic documents from inside the Mueller investigation; which, to date, has been as tight as a duck’s ass when it came to leaks.

(You may wish to regard this entire narrative as imaginative fiction, since I’ve certainly been putting together the twos I have been gleaning from the American media today to make five, and then some.)

The papers were an informal survey of potential indictments and a prospective plea-bargain relating to the minor crimes of one Jerome Corsi, a peripheral bit-player in the campaign saga, another self-publicizing has-been-or-never-was, but a claimed contact of the reptilian Republican party fixer and longtime Trump dirty-tricks specialist, Roger Stone.

Corsi had it seems agreed to become a Mueller “grass”, compromised by Mueller because he had information that Stone was in frequent contact with Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, in London during the months before Wikileaks published the missing Clinton emails, that were hacked by Russian intelligence; and that Stone had tried to intercede on Assange’s behalf with the Ecuadorian government.

(Shitsplaining: Self-promoting whingeing narcissist Assange is in voluntary incarceration as an inconvenient political refugee in the basement of the Ecuadorian embassy, where he’s been holding court to the global disruptor community (and the foolish Pamela Anderson) for the past six years.*)

It was possible evidence linking Stone both to Russia and to Trump.

But suddenly, last week Corsi seems to have changed his mind about spilling everything he knew to Mueller, and instead made public the details of his arrangement with the FBI – and, more pertinently, the questions and issues that he knew from his interrogations that Mueller was most interested in. A move said to be unprecedented in US legal history.

It was information that has apparently already gotten back to the White House via Corsi’s and Trump’s lawyers, enabling Trump to lean on a few minor facts in order to tweet evermore furiously the story that the Mueller investigation is in disarray and fake news and a WITCH HUNT and all the rest of the cheeseburger-flavored smoke he’s been generating for almost two years, to try to make the horrid bad man go ‘way.

Who ordered the papers to be leaked so openly to NBC – Trump’s supposedly least favorite failing fake news channel? And why?

So, anyway, now it gets murkier still.

You’ll have heard the name Paul Manafort, in the news. Manafort (69, tall, confidently bulky, dyed hair, self-satisfied pug-eyed expression, expensive suits) had for a couple of decades involved his PR consultancy with shady political campaigns in Ukraine; being responsible, among other dirty tricks, for the demonization of former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko – gaoled in 2011 on probably trumped-up corruption charges – and the election as President of the now-deposed Putin crony and massive kleptocrat, Viktor Yanukovitch.

He was also deeply embedded with organized crime figures and other Putin oligarchs in Russia, billionaires seeking influence and the lifting of personal sanctions; and was paid many millions of dollars for his work, which seems to have involved a lot of money laundering and sheltering of illicitly obtained funds through offshore shell companies.

And Manafort was also present at the crucial 09 June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with the Kremlin lawyer Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump Jr, Kushner and two other Russians, both with connections to money laundering and Russian intelligence. Shortly after which, Trump referred for the first time at an election rally to Clinton’s missing emails, and openly called on Russia to find them. Then, in July, Trump appointed Manafort as chairman of his election campaign – later claiming he barely even knew the man. (The FBI is now looking into a trove of “late-night” phone calls between the two.)

That was a lie, wasn’t it.

Seeking to establish connections between Trump and the Kremlin, Mueller and the FBI zeroed in on Manafort, and earlier this year indicted him on many charges, including failing to declare the income from his work in Russia, and bank fraud – the latter relating to a $10 million loan Manafort obtained from an obscure bank, on a promise that he would persuade Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and Senior White House advisor, to appoint the manager of the bank to the lucrative post of Secretary for the Army. (It was a con – he didn’t. And he never repaid the money.)

The loan was ostensibly for the purpose of repaying other money Manafort had previously offered to invest on behalf of a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska – a Putin crony with suspected links to organized crime. Instead, Manafort had pocketed the money to fund his expensive taste in “ostrich-skin jackets” and his collection of apartments in New York.

All this emerged from the first of two scheduled trials, at which Manafort had unexpectedly pleaded not guilty – even though Mueller had him bang to rights, as they say. The jury duly deliberated, and found him guilty on eight counts – enough to put him away for the rest of his life.

Manafort then cheerfully entered the prison system to await sentence, where he’s being kept in solitary confinement for his own protection. But soon seemed to drop his tough-guy “no co-operation” stance and agreed a plea deal with Mueller to make the second trial go away and the possible life sentence be reduced in exchange for spilling everything he knew about the Trumps, Russia, Wikileaks and collusion.

Two days ago, however, a furious Mueller wrote to the court demanding the judge now execute the sentences for the original guilty verdicts and bring about the second trial, as (after giving him 10 days to rethink his statement) he had concluded that Manafort had been telling the investigators a pack of lies.

Warning: Here we enter the realms of speculative fiction.

Why would Manafort have spent two months pulling the wool over Mueller’s eyes, knowing that if found out, he would spend several more lifetimes behind bars? Lying to the FBI and obstructing justice are serious crimes in America.

Mueller has so far indicted some 32 co-conspirators, including a number of Russians he can’t get at; nevertheless, he has enough detail in the case to be able to compare notes and tell when someone is feeding him a plate of rotten fishheads. Surely, Paulie was living on borrowed time?

The key prosecution witness had either gone crazy, commentators said, or there must be a deeper motive.

Look at it this way.

Trump has the power of issuing Presidential pardons, but he’s mentally a mobster, basing his business methods on bad stuff taught to him by his mentor, the mob lawyer Roy Cohn. He may not really be a “made man”, as they call members of the mafia who come from outside the tight-knit crime families; nevertheless he’s done bidness with a few, and likes to behave like a mob boss himself.

Such a man would rather murder, than pardon anyone who snitches on them. So we can conclude that he would not even be considering pardoning the crimes of Paul Manafort if he believed for one second that Manafort had really spilled his guts to the FBI about Trump’s collusion with the Russians.

The only way Manafort could get out of his extreme predicament would be by serving the interests of the mob boss in the Oval Office: doubling-down on his many crimes by flim-flamming the Russia investigation; pretending to hold a weak hand; presenting a reasonably convincing false narrative to his interrogators, misdirecting them and causing as much delay and confusion as possible; ensuring he would be kept close to the team.

You know how a Lapwing evades its predators, by feigning weakness?

As a prosecution witness, by that “not guilty” plea and then the guilty verdicts making himself seem vulnerable and open possibly to turning informant, Manafort had cleverly managed to insert himself on the inside of the tightly controlled Mueller team, and – like Corsi – his plan was to feed through his lawyers, information about the investigation back to the White House, earning himself a full pardon for his crimes.

In fact, it was Corsi’s recantation of his plea bargain and the release of the documents that put the media onto the possibility of a connection with Mueller’s letter to the court, rescinding Manafort’s protected status. Was it the same plan? And have the written answers Trump gave last week to Mueller’s written questions possibly conflicted with something Manafort might have said?

The question now becomes: was Trump himself personally in on the act? How much did he know, and when? Was this his plan, to scupper the tightly controlled Mueller investigation by planting a man on the inside; making Mueller believe he was open to a juicy plea bargain? Well, as yet Trump has not described Manafort as “weak”, which is Trump code for “disloyal”, and applies in spades to “very weak” Cohen. We can take that as a clue.

Trump’s business history is littered with cleverly plotted scams that have reportedly netted him and his family millions of dollars over the years from so-called “pump & dump” schemes. The MO has been to schmooze the media throughout his career, to build a gilt-edged reputation for the Trump brand: the billionaire playboy/successful business mogul image, complete with a pumped-up blonde on each arm, that convinces his “marks” they’ll be adding value to their criminal money-laundering enterprises with a Trump or two on board.

These scams seem usually to be perpetrated in the so-called emerging nations; especially the former Soviet republics and other countries known for their corrupt politicians and businessmen, where the Trump brand of rackety glitz and bling is still regarded with some awe, still given currency by third-rate gangsters; where the Trump name on a hotel, casino or a leisure complex still guarantees the right kind of trade: punters willing to be fleeced!

Somehow, at some stage the projects all go belly-up and the Trumps walk away with the profits, protesting their complete innocence of any involvement beyond merely “licensing” the Trump name and sales of branded merchandise – for which he is also paid $millions by gullible local sleazeballs eager for the smell of Trump-flavored money to rub off on them.

But that’s just the small change. Without putting their name to the property deeds, the Trumps nevertheless “partner” the developers up until the point at which they walk away from the bankruptcy proceedings as beneficial owners of the company’s cash, which will have been long gone. But the deals always have total deniability. Funny, that.

Trump hustles, basically, crooks. He knows they’re the easiest marks; and that nobody much cares if he stiffs them. He doesn’t care where the money originally came from: in the case of a Trump-branded hotel in Baku, that never opened, it’s reported the source was a proscribed terrorist organization, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. A lot of his “partners” in these scams seem to wind up in gaol.

Here, however, the lifelong grifter had succeeded, albeit temporarily, in getting inside the Mueller camp to find out just what was going on, what evidence the squeaky-clean, poker-rigid Mueller has on him and his feral kids. And still it looks like his involvement may not have touched the sides: his legal team may carry the can. Weird old Granny Giuliani already appears to be in complete meltdown.

If it could be proved, though, it would … well, obstruction of justice barely covers it. It would be Trump’s Watergate moment multiplied a hundred times: a President of the United States conspiring with a convicted felon to sabotage a legally constituted Special Counsel inquiry into collusion with a foreign power to steal an election, abusing the presidential power of pardon to induce a witness to lie under oath? He would die in gaol; unless he in turn could count on a pardon from his Vice-President, Mike Pence – who is also reportedly now under investigation.

Trump has already been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of his former lawyer and bag-man, Michael Cohen, over misuse of election funds to bribe women to silence over affairs with Candidate Trump. Some of those funds are directly traceable to lobbyists for Russian business interests; other money came from corporations tricked into believing they were paying for privileged access to the Oval Office.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to everything. He’d like to see his kids again in this lifetime, and has spilled his guts to Mueller, principally about Trump’s already well-known business connections in Moscow, presumably the Agalarovs, and confirmed what we’ve all known for years, that Trump had an ambition to see his name on a Moscow hotel tower – but Putin has been blocking it. But is he lying too, for a pardon down the road?

Strangely, this story has come out today and is blocking further interest in the far more serious Manafort case. Overwhelmed with news, the US media is running around like a headless chicken with ADHD.

Not to mention, the New York Attorney-General’s office subpoenas alleging corruption within the Trump Organization and financial irregularities involving the Trump Foundation: none of which is in the power of the President to pardon.

The Manafort case however threatens to detonate a thousand barrels of gunpowder under the White House.

The insertion of a spy into the Mueller camp in this extraordinary way is the mark of a master con-man, used to strategizing the fraudulent acquisition of large sums of money by both quasi-legal and contra-legal methods. Donald Trump has apparently succeeded in scamming the supposedly cast-iron Purple Heart ex-marine, Mueller; a minor victory that will undoubtedly give him great satisfaction as he shuffles bald-headed in leg-irons to the latrine to empty his night soil, avoiding the gaze of large negroes.

But Trump surely cannot now pardon Manafort, Corsi and Cohen without revealing his tiny hand as a pervertor of the course of justice; has Paulie miscalculated? To protect himself and his grimy family, Trump’s only out now will be to let the former campaign chairman he barely knew rot in gaol – where he’s probably safest anyway, with so many angry Russians on his tail. But that will risk Manafort at some stage recanting his recantation….

Is Trump now completely screwed? It may be the return of Christmas, which the made-for-TV president promised his dumbfucks, what seems like a lifetime ago.

But don’t count your turkeys.

 

*Former CIA man, Malcolm Nance entertainingly describes how Assange has been hacking the computers of the staff at the embassy even while the Ecuadorians have been monitoring all his visitors and communications through British IT contractors. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgwegB34cGc It’s like the cartoon strip in Mad Magazine – Spy vs. Spy.)

 

“Why have I never made a penny when it seems so easy?”

Lax financial regulation

Company A and company B are both owned by Company C. Company A “borrows” $1.5 million from Company B. Company A “fails” to pay the money back and is sued by Company C.

Meanwhile, Company B borrows $1.6 million from a genuine investor to cover the loss and the loan is guaranteed by Company C which will pay when it gets its money back through the court, where a case is pending. (The odd $100 thousand goes to whoever as useful expenses, presumably. You know, brokerage.)

But when the investor politely requests the return of the loan, Company B is in liquidation. So the investor sues Company C. And the court finds that as there is a prior unresolved case between Company C and Company A, over money owed by the bankrupt Company B, the investor cannot sue Company C, which then makes off with the money.

Simples? Especially when the owner of Company C, and hence presumably Companies A & B, is linked with a business partner of Ivanka Trump.

Those Trumps, a magical name yet so unlucky in their business partners. I put it down to them being quite poor judges of character.

The Pumpkin is neither an accountant (he can’t afford one, either!), nor a grift specialist, thus he apologises profusely to everyone concerned, or unconcerned, if his simple take on some bad business that is described in much greater detail by Ben Shreckinger in GQ Magazine is confused and unhappy.

However if things are much as outlined above, it would be a classic “pump & dump” confidence trick.

Wouldn’t it? Oh dear, why have I never made a penny when it seems so easy?

In the meantime, GQ readers have also learned from Mr Shreckinger, a court acting for the Emirati-owned Commercial Bank of Dubai has quietly issued a subpoena to a company called Madison Avenue Diamonds, which traded until recently as Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, alleging that they may be unwitting accomplices to a fraud. Quite a large one, actually.

It seems that $100 million of diamonds may have been bought from a dealer in Israel by a pair of Dubai oil traders to conceal financial assets they owed to the bank, passed through various offshore shell companies and made into jewelry which – the inference is – may or may not have passed through Madison Avenue/Trump Fine Jewelry, obviously without their knowledge or permission, obviously, and then been sold and the money returned to the borrowers sparkling clean, stiffing the bank: a classic case of money laundering, it’s said (I wouldn’t know, at my age I don’t wash very often).

The director of Madison Avenue Diamonds is a real-estate developer called Moshe Lax, who happens to be the friend who introduced Ivanka to her shiny husband, Jared Kushner. How so? because he was Ivanka’s business partner and thought the couple would be perfect for each other!

Things, as they say, eventually went sour, and Trump parted company with Lax just last year, many months after she took up an interesting but somewhat vague position as an adviser to her father in the White House; where she and Kushner are alleged to have made over $80 million together during President Trump’s first year in office, although how is not explained.

Lax, as I have poorly understood these matters, is or was or is somehow also connected with Company C. Or was it A? Or B? I’m so easily confused, it’s lucky I have no money to invest.

Now, I hope I’ve understood that right, because I’m not an accountant or a diamond specialist; although I once had a client in the costume jewelry business and she was as bent as a paste brooch clasp on a clumsy Edwardian dowager. It appears, anyway, that the diamond dealer had spent time in prison a few years ago on an unrelated matter. Sorry if I have misunderstood, it’s quite complicated. Actually that doesn’t seem all that relevant, I think they threw it in just to add to the general air of criminality. Sorry, where were we?

Now, Trump herself is apparently not accused of anything untoward, as she merely “licensed her name” to Lax’s company, a family – sorry, familiar – story, and no longer runs Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, which seems to have gone out of business, although she probably did at the time the $100 million disappeared into the global laundromat. (Where in connection with Trump Organization, I wonder, have we heard that before?) Lax himself has been accused of involvement in all sorts, extortion and so forth, but no-one is saying anything.

Except that a house in New York owned by someone or other connected with the deal got torched the other week, NYPD is “investigating”, and nobody will say anything about that either.

All v. mysterious.

Look, if you’re really interested, here’s the link: http://www.gq.com/story/ivanka-trump-jewelry-business

And good luck understanding it, because I may not have got it at all right and have been foolishly jumping to conclusions. Sorry, and all that. I never was any good with money.

 

“An old dog, me, but a tricksy one!”

Ha!

Matthew Hedges, the British student, has arrived back in England after being released under an Independence Day blanket pardon by Crown Prince Mohammed of Dubai; a stroke of good timing, as (much to the consternation of the Foreign Office) Mr Hedges had just been handed a 25-year sentence for spying.

I hesitated to put the word student in inverted commas, because I don’t want to be accused of churlishness or anti-British feeling so near to Christmas, but certain facts in the case as reported in UK media do rather suggest that Mr Hedges is as much a student as Jamal Khashoggi was a “journalist”.

In other words, while writing a PhD thesis about the Arab Spring and a monthly column in the Washington Post’s mid- section might qualify both men for the descriptions, the terms “student” and “journalist” probably tell only a small part of the story.

Yesterday, in his alternate persona as The BogPo’s UB, The Pumpkin wrote:

“Was there some tiny hint of a possible suggestion there, then, that Hedges was hoping to find out what, if any, shift in policy there may have been towards the UAE favoring China as a future trading partner, or some such possibility? Just speculatin’.”

Because it seemed to me that there wasn’t much else worth spying about, given that the UAE buys all their top gear from us and the Americans anyway.

And today, highly paid experts at the BBC write:

“Crown Prince Mohammed … has also developed his relationship with both Russia and China. The UK is in danger of losing its favoured status in the UAE unless it can demonstrate that it is both a useful and reliable ally.”

Ha! An old dog, me, but a tricksy one!

Now look, I am not going to fuck-up somebody’s life chances by slinging speculative assertions around, so don’t take this the wrong way, but Mr Hedges doesn’t look to me entirely like a student, if one is any judge of character. He looks quite grown-up, and two “facts” about him, mentioned by a spokesman for the Emirates on the BBC yesterday just as the formalities for his release were being tied-up, were that he is a) also a “businessman”, and b) he spent much of his earlier life living in Dubai.

Whether those facts are necessarily correct, or grounds for concluding that British foreign intelligence might consider someone with those three strings to their bow as a potential asset, either permanently or merely opportunistically, I have no idea. His wife says he doesn’t speak Arabic. I find that hard to believe. As a PhD student – a very advanced educational level – with a speciality in Arab affairs, and having lived in the UAE “off and on” from the age of 8, so we are told, it seems, well – shall we say – less than likely. Although my son gave up learning the language, finding the writing too squiggly.

But I’m just an old bloke sitting in a chair, the cold rain teeming down outside from a leaden sky, a fitfully gusting wind, still strapped to a bag, a hard plastic tube pressing uncomfortably on my grumbling prostate, who can’t get an appointment to have it looked at for another three months; becoming increasingly testy as another Christmas on my own hoves into view. (I’ve already bought my present.)

Pay no attention.

Oh, though, if I may be permitted one small observation:

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe remains incarcerated in an Iranian hellhole after more than two years apart from her young daughter and British family. One wonders, had she really been spying for MI6, might she too have been sprung by now?

 

It’s not happening

The Godfather of Pump ‘n’ Trump schemes, as Inside Politics kind of dubbed him, is meanwhile blithely denying that there is a word of truth in the 1,400 pages of a report legally commissioned by his own administration from fourteen government agencies and compiled by some 300 climate scientists, painting a bleak picture of a future powered on continuing high-octane fossil fuel production.

Quoting the catchphrase of the great Victor Meldrew, of “One Foot in the Grave” fame, Trump trumpeted:

“I don’t believe it!”

That supine old fanny, the BBC thus informs us that Trump “cast doubt” on the report.

WTF? Trump is such an ignorant fucking pig he couldn’t “cast doubt” on whether the crap in his gold toilet is his or some other orange asshole’s. You actually have to know something to “cast doubt”, and he knows nothing at all. Nothing. His – and our – problem is, he’s so stupid, he doesn’t know he’s stupid.

Flat denial is not a doubt-casting argument. But the BBC is so mired in fear for its future it cannot any longer maintain even a semblance of objectivity when it comes to any story whose fair reporting might put it in bad with the hard-Brexit politicians who hate it and could come to power if May’s government collapses.

Those, that is, who haven’t clocked that Trump has also today poured cold water on prospects for a US-UK trade deal post-Brexit, something they are desperately relying on to justify the banality of their evil.

Remember his “beautiful” steel tariffs? Well, they’ve just cost 14.5 thousand General Motors blue-collar Trump-voting workers their jobs, with another 18 thousand “voluntary redundancies” in the pipeline, but who’s noticing when he comes out with stuff like this? Everything he does or says is calculated to cover-up the last dumb thing he said or did. The man literally farts a cloud of cheeseburger-flavored lies wherever he goes, that swirl about him and hide the truth:

He’s mentally incompetent.

As evidenced by what he then went on to say, which was that climate change was not the fault of the USA, which was “record clean”, but of all the other countries that are signed to the Paris accord, which are not.

In fact, while India and China have higher aggregate emissions, because they have four times the population, the US has the second highest per capita carbon footprint of any nation, behind only Saudi Arabia.

A record of cleanliness – a “clean sheet” so to speak – to be proud of.

But this is the moron who believes “clean coal” means you wash it before burning. And that raking the forest floor will prevent wildfires. Who chucks paper towels and frankfurters to please hurricane victims. Who doesn’t know how to operate an umbrella, or that the President is expected occasionally to show respect to dead US soldiers. Who often doesn’t recognise his own wife. A six-times bankrupt man with skidmarks on his golfing pants and toilet paper stuck to his fucking shoe.

So, from what he says, abrupt climate change is both real and it isn’t. That’s increasingly the binary universe Trump is weaving from quantum entanglements, a kind of “both…and” Heisenbergian uncertainty in which two opposing propositions can be equally true at the same time.

The President, among whose very first actions in office were to issue a series of executive orders removing controls on polluting emissions to air, land and water, permitting drilling in nature reserves and banning the publication of climate research, later gutting and defunding the agencies responsible by putting unqualified energy corporation lobbyists in charge of the environment, has forgotten all that. It never happened.

He finds no contradiction whatever, has no embarrassment at all in announcing to the assembled media gaggle (after, as he says, reading “some of the report”; The Pumpkin concurs that the title page may often provide a clue to the contents):

Right now we’re at the cleanest we’ve ever been and that’s very important to me. But if we’re clean, but every other place on Earth is dirty, that’s not so good.

“So I want clean air, I want clean water, very important.”

Do you sort of get the feeling from that, that he didn’t really make it past fourth-grade? He certainly hasn’t read the report, as the cartoon version is yet to come out. It’ll be on the Christmas books pile when it does. He doesn’t believe it. Only he does. It’s a hoax, only it may not be, “some differences”….

It’s the method-acted Presidential certainty with which he makes the most illogical, inarticulate and uninformed pronouncements that really grates, knowing his dumbfucks will lap-up any smelly brown substance that dribbles from his rotting brain.

So now, go back to my fourth paragraph and take back your “I say, steady on! He IS the President of the United States after all… He must know what he’s talking about…. Let’s have a return to civilized discourse, old chap….”

Fuck that, matey. He’s a monstrous cretin, a deranged criminal ecocide, a caricature Mussolini and phoney game-show host, a lifelong business confidence trickster and serial adulterer beloved of slimy Evangelical Christians, who has to be removed from office immediately, before he kills us all with his ignorance, his stupid and fatuous lies.

If you have to pay him money to go, just do it. It can’t cost more than he does.

 

GW: Has it all blown over yet?

30 November sees the official end of the Atlantic hurricane season. The total of three Category 4 or greater hurricanes making landfall in the continental USA in the past two years is an all-time record. Michael was among the four strongest in history. Hurricanes seem to be changing their patterns and tracks, too. “Hurricane Leslie maintained hurricane status … to a location where no hurricane had ever been observed: just 200 miles west of Portugal. 3 hours after being declared post-tropical, ex-Hurricane )70 mph) Leslie made landfall on the coast. Damage was over $115 million, making Leslie one of their costliest wind storms on record.” (Wunderground)

USA: Winter Storm Bruce brought bone-chilling temperatures to parts of the eastern half of the United States over Thanksgiving last week. Once again the anomalies look kind of weird, it being much warmer than normal again over the far-western half with a sharp gradient inbetween the two systems. At least 21 low-temperature records were broken (CEWN #146), prompting Trump to ask what had happened to global warming? A stupid question he trots out every winter. Monday 26th, Chicago was locked-in by a fierce snowstorm: O’Hare was closed, and traffic became gridlocked as far west as Kansas City.

01 December: hundreds of households in burned areas of California are being mandatorily evacuated and roads closed as torrential rain causes flash-flooding and dangerous mudslides. (The Weather Channel)

Saudi Arabia: Powerful storms have once again brought flooding to the desert kingdom, with Mecca especially badly hit on 24 Nov. These countries are always in the news but you never hear about the many extreme weather events affecting the Middle East this year. (CEWN #146)

Greece: Reporting a bakeries federation warning that bread prices and other flour-based products are about to rise by up to 6.5%, a local source states: “Unprecedented weather conditions in Europe and America, combined with high temperatures, prolonged drought and heavy rainfall, have led to a large decline in the production of agricultural products such as grains… The daily adds that price increases of 20% have been already recorded in bread and goods based on flour in some European cities.” (Keep Talking Greece website)

Which is odd, because most wheat growing areas reported bumper harvests and lower prices this year. Except Australia, where the harvest was slashed by 50% owing to the long drought. Late soya harvests in the USA have been severely hit by the early onset of winter. Russian moves to close the waterway through the Azov sea could affect up to 2 million tonnes of grain exports from Ukraine. (AgriCensus)

Australia: two days after being covered in orange dust blown in from the outback, “Sydney has been deluged by the heaviest November rain it has experienced in decades, causing flash-flooding, traffic chaos and power cuts. Heavy rain fell throughout Wednesday, the city at one point receiving its average monthly rainfall in two hours. At least 2 deaths have been blamed on the storm.” (BBC News) The first week of December sees over 100 fires burning in Queensland, where temperatures are expected to be up in the mid-40sC, +100sF. A cyclone is possibly forming off the coast: the State premier has warned people to “expect anything”. (Guardian)

The Pumpkin – Issue 70: “What’s he gone and done now?”… And in other news… GW: This is getting silly… A bigger splash.

Quote of the WW1 century:

“…that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen” – Sir Nicholas Soames MP

“Hang on guys, is this rain? Did you order rain, Manny? You know I melt in the rain… can we go back in and watch TV?”

The Dead Can Wait

What’s he gone and done now?

Does any news report nowadays not begin with the dread-laden words: “President Donald Trump….”

Do our hearts not sink constantly as we ask ourselves, oh, right, what’s he gone and done now?

In the course of Saturday, 10 November, in The Year of Our Donald #3, he managed to upset the entire European national leadership, again, and half of the Americas by refusing to leave his hotel room for a ceremony to commemorate the US dead of the First World War, because it was raining.

In an earlier statement, he had managed to blame the Baltic States for starting the war. Thus collectively bewildering the assembled Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian leaders, as well as his grimacing Balkans-born wife.

And then he tweeted home that he was going to defund the California forestry service of “$billions”, whom he blames for a number of devastating wildfires that have killed possibly more than 200 of his own people and forced a quarter of a million to flee their homes – a caravan of refugees – in the past five days. Without either mentioning the victims, living and dead, or praising the firefighters.

The fires, as fire service chiefs and assorted weathermen have pointed out, have not much affected afforested areas under the management of the forestry service, but are on the whole brushfires in untended exurban areas of the most populous State, exacerbated by a season of unusually extreme drought and the hottest July to September months in 124 years. The cause of the devastating Camp Fire, for instance, is thought to have been the failure of a power line. It began in an area supposedly under federal management; not CalFire.

But we recall that he also blamed last year’s fires, including the one that destroyed much of the city of Santa Rosa, on the forestry service; so this is probably just a bad case of dèjá vu in a man whose diseased mind is clearly wandering.

The US administration has whined that at least Secretary of State Pompeo turned up at the ceremony, and it was Trump’s military-grade helicopter that couldn’t cope with the rain. It’s hard to find a taxi when it rains in Paris. Trump then announced he would also be a no-show at the Paris Peace Forum, which is run by his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. Instead, he flew home. Significantly, so did Putin.

Trump is playing the blame game, again. He clearly has no interest in peace and international co-operation.

One might conclude that he is just a fat sack of tormented, pig-ignorant shitburger, totally unfit for office of any kind. Or one might agree with Sir Nicholas Soames MP, Tory party grandee, former Lieutenant, 11th Hussars, Equerry to HRH Prince Charles, and coincidentally Winston Churchill’s grandson, who (despite advancing years) also has a Twitter account, and knows how to use it. He wrote:

“They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen #hesnotfittorepresenthisgreatcountry.”

There’s a different school of thought that basically believes no man that is born of a woman, as opposed to being hatched from an addled egg or descended from a passing spaceship to ask directions to Tralfamadore, could possibly behave this way unless they were trying to distract our attention from some shittier, even darker purpose.

No-one, for instance, has mentioned since Friday, that he has appointed a Big Crook to the post of replacement Attorney-General, pro tem., after firing “weak” A-G Sessions for failing to protect him against the Russia Thing. No-one had ever imagined they would feel sympathy for the lying little Alabama racist, but people actually took to the streets in support.

A man about whom, on Wednesday, Trump was seen on many TV channels declaring was a great guy, he knew him personally… and then on Friday, was on many TV channels insisting with an equally straight face, betrayed by a somewhat hunted look, that he didn’t personally know the guy, he had never met him, but he came highly recommended.

It was left to Kellyanne Conway, who seems to have had her bags lifted, to explain on many channels that what the President meant was that he had known the man, but no longer did. And that his adverse views on the Russia Thing were irrelevant.

That was all very embarrassing. Constitutional lawyers were soon conscripted to argue that the man, “Matt” Whitaker, a ringer for Desperate Dan of The Beano, was obliged to recuse himself, as his predecessor Sessions had done, from the Mueller probe into the Russia Thing owing to his frequent blunt assertions that it was all a “witch hunt”, a hoax and an illegitimate misuse of Justice department time.

Words that came as music to the furry old ears of the President, who followed himself up with a rousing tirade against Mueller who, he wheedled, had not been approved by the Senate. Whitaker, he said, rolling the phrase around several times for emphasis, was Senate-approved. Mueller was not Senate-approved. So there. Whatever.

More constitutional lawyers then went over the top, blowing whistles, to opine that that was because there was no legal requirement for a federal prosecutor to come Senate-approved, like an egg with a quality stamp; whereas a deputy Attorney-General who looks more like an egg without a quality stamp, laid therefore under intolerable battery conditions, was a political appointee and required Senate approval.

Yet more constitutional lawyers then advanced in open-order, suggesting that merely nominating this “Russia-Thing denier” to a position of power over Deputy Attorney-General Rosenstein, who in turn has power over Special Counsel Robert Mueller, might amount in itself to illegal obstruction of justice. That’s the very charge Mueller is having to investigate beyond just the Russia Thing, with relation to Mr Trump’s many attempts, some successful, others futile, to undermine and fire anyone connected with the investigations; which he has previously asserted he was perfectly competent to manage all by himself.

One school of thought felt that denying he even knew Whitaker, who has been on many TV channels shown visiting the Oval Office with A-G Sessions on at least ten occasions in pursuit of his normal duties as a ranking official at the Justice department, was one of President Trump’s more spectacular own-goals. It must have been either evidence of advancing mental confusion, they believe, or just the biggest lie of his presidency – he has told over 6,500 since taking office, according to the fact-checkers at the Washingon Post.

Another school of thought – can Mrs deVos keep track of all these schools? We don’t hear a lot of her lately – holds to the view that between the two contradictory positions, someone must have informed the President that Whitaker, the nominee, has well-documented connections with two companies that were heavily fined and compulsorily wound-up owing to strong allegations of fraud; that he personally threatened complainants with bogus criminal proceedings; and that he stands little chance of being confirmed in the position, even with a Senate packed to the skirting boards with cheese-nibblers.

Yet, he’s still there.

One of the companies, pertinently, is said to have targeted, specifically, US military veterans – some of them disabled – with a scheme (pronounced scam) to provide them with a valuable course of instruction on how to register and patent and market their inventions; Americans being a famously inventive people. One disabled veteran was reported as saying he had invested nearly $14 thousand, his life savings, only to receive a pack consisting of a piece of paper with a badly drawn diagram he said his granddaughter could have made.

A story that arouses faint memories of another, similar scam known as Trump University.

“Damn, I voted for him and he’s gone and stolen my job!”

So, there is Trump, transported once again at taxpayers’ expense to France, where the first thing he does – this was on Friday, as a warm-up to Saturday’s clusterfuck – is to berate President Macron bitterly over some matter to do with European defense spending. That is then explained by the Elysée palace as a “misunderstanding”. Then on Saturday came “le déluge”, as the Orange Calamity sat sulking in his hotel room, watching TV, while Macron and Merkel and May and the rest held hands and cried in the rain before the graves of thousands of fallen US soldiers.

Finally, on departing from France, Chump tweeted out childishly that French wine tariffs were unfair (they’re actually EU tariffs); the US made better wine anyway, and without the interventions of the USA in two world wars, the French would be speaking German.* And in another tweet he praised French “nationalism” – which has been taken as support for Le Pen’s Front Nationale – and mocked Macron for his low approval ratings; his own having seldom risen above 35% thoughout his term of office..

This on the anniversary of the attack on the crowd at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, that left 130 mostly French dead.

It seems axiomatic that this desperate, feral clown (that’s the “feral clown” school – there’s a more sympathetic school that argues he is genuinely suffering from dementia and deserves psychiatric help, not all this horrid criticism) simply has to step down, or be stepped down; one way, or another, or another, whatever the Constitution allows.

So far the Constitution seems more like Constipation, having great difficulty in excreting a foul-smelling stool.

Surely America cannot afford the embarrassment of yet another day, waking up to the news that “President Trump has….”?

 

Postscriptum

The official WH version according to Lyin’ Sarah is now that the helicopter couldn’t safely fly because there was “zero-visibility” (there wasn’t, obviously not in the daytime), so much for US military capability, and Trump didn’t want to cause a traffic jam in Paris by resorting to his motorcade, on the advice of the Security Service. Nothing to do with the demonstrations, then. Or the rain.

Trump then travelled to another ceremony by car, and stayed in the car as 60 real-world leaders marched in solidarity, in the rain, to the cemetery; later claiming he had attended in the open.

And then… Back in the USSR… sorry, USA, the President refused to attend the traditional Veteran’s Day parade at Arlington cemetery on Sunday, claiming no-one told him it was a bad optic not to. Aides cited fears for his hair in the rain as a reason. He is reportedly in a state of deep depression, worsened by recounts hungover from the deeply flawed midterm elections, that he claimed were a triumph for him, that have elected more Democrats – watch out, world!

One has to ask in passing, why it takes America, supposedly the world’s most technologically advanced nation, more than ten days to count its votes, when Zimbabwe could manage it in three?

And still can’t get it right.

*Is there no end to this? Eric Trump, the “little Nazi” (as Mike Malloy christened him) has enthusiastically welcomed Trump’s critique of EU wine tariffs. Why? Possibly because Eric turns out to be President (and everything else – treads the grapes, gums on the labels) of “Trump Winery”, one of the many diversified interests of the criminal Trump dynasty.

 

And in other news…

Trump, who boasted that he was so rich he would relinquish his official salary, has personally benefited from $3.2 million dollars in profits from hire of his businesses – hotels and golf resorts – since taking office in January, 2017, according to a CNN investigation, much of it from foreign delegations visiting the US; including at least $470,000 from Saudi Arabians.

It is likely that the newly Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will want to look into possible breaches of the Emoluments clause of the constitution. The White House was unable to comment.

Trump has announced that he is awarding the coveted Congressional Medal of Freedom to the wife of Mr Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate and “friend” of the Trump family. No-one seems entirely sure what Mrs Adelson has done to deserve it, but Mr Adelson has donated more than $100 million to the Republican cause.

Liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz, however, records that Miriam Adelson, a research physician, has done a lot to combat drug addiction, her specialty; while President Obama in his time honored several possibly less worthy recipients from the world of showbiz; thus the award is not to be taken seriously. Like most secular Jews in America, the Adelsons are really liberals.

Trump is expected to sign into law, if he has not already done so, a measure to deny refugees, regardless of what circumstances they may be fleeing from, the right to apply for asylum in America other than through designated channels, in breach of US law and the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, to which the US is a signatory.

It is supposed to be a response to the so-called migrant “caravan” from Honduras, which Mr Trump pretends is about to bring thousands of Middle Eastern terrorists, rapists, drug dealers etc. across the southern border with Mexico. He has stationed 5,600 US army personnel in Texas, equipped with armoured vehicles, where they will be missing their families over Christmas, since their commanders have pointed out that they’re not allowed by law to intercept civilian refugees.

Although Hondurans have been arriving at the border the main caravan is believed still to be roughly a thousand miles away and is reported by some media to have diverted from a route that would take it directly to the USA over the next two months. The military assessment is that most of the caravan would not make it anyway.

Meanwhile, 150 thousand Americans are now refugees in their own country, having fled the fires ravaging the California suburbs. I’m sure the irony will be lost on the feral clown in the White House.

Poo corner…

In Alabama, meanwhile, communities are up in arms as a lengthy railroad train consisting of big tanks of raw human sewage excreted in New York and New Jersey and exported by a private corporation has been trundling around the State for weeks, parking in sidings close to residential districts and creating a horrendous stench that leaves people vomiting and in tears, while it awaits instructions from the EPA for disposal.

The apparent dumping of this, literally, load of shit on the southland by what’s perceived as the Yankee north has become a contentious political hot potato.

And not the only one, as there has also been a massive bribery scandal in which officials and businessmen have gone to jail, involving environmental clean-up contracts on contaminated land in a poor black neighborhood of Birmingham. The scandal even reached out at one time to touch former Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, said to have been personally involved.

A key official, Trey Glenn, deeply implicated in the scandal has just been appointed to run the EPA’s Southeast Regional division, covering eight States – by President Trump.

And it turns out, his financial disclosure reveals he’s being paid for consultancy by the company running the train.

He’s now been indicted for multiple crimes involving bribery and corruption.

The “Poop train” as it’s being called, coyly, is coming to be regarded by many as an apt metaphor for the current administration. (MSNBC)

Trump does seem to have singularly bad luck when it comes to his appointments, almost every one of whom turns out to be a Big Crook. Who knew?

As the White House goes into post-election meltdown, Trump’s secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke is under investigation on multiple corruption charges; while secretary for Homeland Security Kirstjen Neilsen, the child-snatcher, and the now profoundly compromised Chief of Staff, Gen. John Kelly, are also on watch for a Trump firing squad. Rumor is that he’s also planning to dump the profoundly corrupt Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross.

“I hire only the best, the very best people”, Trump told his election rallies.

Counting is still going on in Georgia and Florida as the courts have had to force the Republican administration to count all the votes, not just the ones cast for Republican candidates. Trump has been grumbling about the Fox-generated fake news that Hillary Clinton has financed a fraudulent campaign against his friend, the profoundly corrupt governor of Florida, Rick Scott.

Clinton has no connection with Florida, and is not even running.

 

(An earlier article on Andrea Leadsom that attracted a Comment has been removed for space. I then managed to delete it while transferring it to tomorrow’s BogPo. I may be getting too old for this. Ed.)

 

GW: This is getting silly.

Wales, UK: It’s another blue-sky-dome day here in Boglington-sur-Mer, gleaming white hummocks of solid cumulus peering like curious teddy-bears from over the hills in the distance, unmoving. Out of the cooling breeze, which drops away now and then, even at its low inclination in the sky the sun is beating down. I can feel its pressure on my skin. And in a T-shirt with a light sweater and an open coat, as we return from Hunzi’s walk around the Industrial Estate I am sweating. Younger, wiser people are everywhere, polishing cars in just their T-s.

A video on BBC News of an incident in London yesterday shows many passers-by wearing only shorts and shirtsleeves.

Remember, remember, it’s the 11th of November.

The deadly Camp Fire, seen from space. (USGS/Wunderground) Chico is approx. 12 miles from Paradise.

California: the horror goes on. Over 130 are still reportedly missing and 56 confirmed dead as more charred bodies are discovered in the ruins of the town of Paradise, after the most lethal series of fires on record. California continues to suffer a prolonged drought now eating well into the rainy season, and dessicating Santa Ana winds continue to fan flames through the wooded canyons. Thousands of properties and hundreds of thousands of acres of countryside have been burned out; 150 thousand people have fled or are in temporary accommodation, tents or even sleeping in the open. (The irony of Mr Trump banning refugees entry to America is not lost on your Old Gran.) Air quality across the State ranges from poor to “hazardous to life”. No rain is forecast before the weekend, while windspeeds are expected to strengthen again over the whole State. (Wunderground, Guardian et al)

To give some idea, the WHO guideline for safe – rather, “standard” – concentration of particulates in the atmosphere is 150 microgrammes (µg) per cubic meter. Regions of California are showing over 9 thousand µg/m3. CO₂ levels as high as 809 ppm were reached on November 10, while there’s a lot of toxic CO (carbon monoxide) around too. (from Arctic News, 4 Nov updated 12 Nov) Sulfur dioxide emissions are also high, producing the “global dimming” effect without which global temperature could rise another 2.5C in a matter of weeks. The dilemma is obvious.

India: three Tropical Cyclones are brewing in the Indian ocean. “Severe” TC Gaja is threatening the Indian coast at Andra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu provinces; Alcide is aiming for the northern tip of Madagascar; Bouchra is out in the middle somewhere. (Times of India, et al)

Thailand: “Heavy rains have caused extensive flooding, with around 45,000 people affected in as many as 500 villages. Local media have reported 3 deaths. Thai Meteorological Department said that 261.6mm of rain fell in 24 hours.” (from Floodlist)

Brazil: “Authorities in the state of Rio de Janeiro say that at least 10 people have died after heavy rain triggered a landslide in a residential area, destroying 6 houses. 11 people were rescued from the debris. It is feared the death toll could rise and rescue workers are continuing to search for survivors.” (Floodlist)

France: rescue workers are continuing to search through the rubble of two tenement buildings that collapsed in Marseilles last week. 8 bodies have been recovered so far; several more people were hurt when a balcony collapsed during a march to pay respects to the victims. No cause has been ascribed, although buildings in the old quarter are generally unsafe owing to age and lack of maintenance; however your Old Gran is moved to mention the atrocious weather and record rainfall in the Mediterranean of late.

Atlantic: Tropical Depression 96L, somewhere in the region of the Leeward Islands, is expected to become Tropical Storm Patty by Thursday. Forecast track aims for Bermuda but a northward turn avoids contact with the US mainland. Expect it over Scotland sometime next week.

UK again: “The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time Between July and September, the capacity of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower reached 41.9 gigawatts, exceeding the 41.2GW capacity of coal, gas and oil-fired power plants.” (Guardian Green Light) News that Toshiba has pulled out of the deal to build a new reactor at Sellafield will only add to the sense that we’re going dark anyday now…. (!) It probably doesn’t matter, the forecast for northern Scotland today is 17 degrees C.

World: Your Old Granny poses a disturbing question: can these seemingly endless numbers of people drowned and crushed and choked and baked and burned alive in these extreme weather events, albeit in relatively small numbers at a time, be considered mere collateral damage as the human population increases and spills into areas that have always been dangerous; or are they the first casualties of the coming extinction?

Birds: For whatever reason I see fewer and fewer birds on my bird-feeder this past week. I mix it up, but maybe there’s just nothing they like to eat? Larger flocks of starlings are arriving overhead to roost at sunset, making wondrous patterns in the darkening sky, but numbers are still down.

Clouds: We had some dramatic cloudscapes today after rain this morning! Huge blocks of cumulus, tops streaming in the wind, just blew away in minutes… sun now shining warmly through a thin layer of stratus and my window; blobbies arriving. Must be mid-November… I’ve not had to put any heating on thus far; I can feel smug that my energy provider is again complaining that my meter readings seem too low. On past performance, I’m sure they will just make some up.

 

A bigger splash…

Scientists testing their new ground-penetrating radar in Greenland have found possible evidence that a mile-wide iron meteor – an asteroid or comet – hit the Hiawatha glacier perhaps as recently as 12,000 years ago. The resulting impact crater 19.3 miles wide has remained hidden under a half-mile-thick ice sheet until now. (Guardian)

If true, it is an event that happened well within the memory of modern humans and may have been responsible for a number of puzzling effects that have as yet no complete scientific explanation.

They might include:

  • Triggering the end of the last glacial period
  • The extinction of northern megafauna, including woolly mammoth
  • The so-called Great Flood – creation of the freshwater Great Lakes and Lake Baikal
  • Rapid sea-level rise, isolating what we now call aboriginal communities
  • Reduction of Neanderthal numbers below replacement capacity
  • The near extinction of humans, creating the choke point in human evolution known as the Eve Hypothesis, when numbers are thought to have fallen worldwide as low as 10,000 individuals
  • Oral myths and legends in many cultures involving floods and falling stars.

None of these suggestions is reported in the Guardian piece, The Pumpkin ventures them only as ignorant hypotheses. It seems likely that the damage would have been terminal had the meteor, the same size as the Chicxulub event that ended the reign of dinosaurs, not struck so far north, at a lower inclination; and on a mile-thick ice-field, cushioning the impact. Otherwise the depth of the crater at only 300 meters and the diameter would have been considerably greater.

However, The Pumpkin still envisages the vast energy of such an impact at 12 miles per second would have vaporized trillions of tonnes of water at Ground Zero, leading to potentially weeks of torrential rain around the world, with possible major disruption to the polar jetstream and ocean currents.

The water vapor in the atmosphere – a greenhouse gas – and dust, together with decades of global volcanism set off by the impact – could have provided the warming impetus to trigger melting of the icecaps.

Instantaneous ice-melt further from the center of the impact would have sent extreme localized floodwaves across the open tundras of Canada and Siberia below the ice-line, reducing numbers of mammoth, aurochs and other megafauna to below replacement breeding rates; to be finished off by hunters.

 

Deja vu corner…

This, from the BogPo, September something-or-other, last year (2017)

California: La Tuna, Burbank LA fire consumes 5,800 acres inside the city limits. 700 evacuated. Cal. and western states – Nevada, Montana, Idaho join the million-acre club: Chetko Bar fire in Oregon is burning over 125 thousand acres and not expected contained before mid-October. Eagle Creek fire burning in Washington state. Huge fires in Montana can be seen burning from space. Most of the northern US wreathed in smoke, causing breathing problems. More than 6.8 million acres of the USA have burned so far this season, plus 2.5 million acres of….

Canada: where new fires are reported in British Columbia as weekend temperatures remain in the 30s C. Smoke from Canada’s 2.8 million acres of wildfires burning since June has been detected across the North Pole as far away as Britain.

You’d think there’d be nothing much left to burn by now.