The Pumpkin, Issue 60: Lawful investigation? You’re fired!… Fore!… GW: boil, roast or fry, there’s more’n one way to cook a planet

Yes, The Pumpkin is back after its summer vacation, with more great whatever for you!

51% of Republican voters now believe the media to be “the enemy of the people”. 52% of Republican supporters polled were not concerned that Mr Trump’s criticism would lead to violence against journalists. 23% of Republicans, and about one in eight Americans overall, believe Mr Trump should close down mainstream news outlets like CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Quinnipiac/Ipsos polling, 16 Aug. (BBC)

Goldsmith: “We cannot, as a party, rightly and robustly criticise the leader of the opposition for his attendance at this (pro-Palestinian) conference while allowing the attendance of a Conservative peer at the same event to pass without comment or complaint. To do so would be to indulge in hypocrisy and double standards.”
BoJo (for it is he): “I couldn’t have put it better myself!”

 

“I’m the President and you’re not….”

Lawful investigation? You’re fired!…

More interesting developments in the Trump obstruction of justice inquiry:

“Rachel Maddow shows the prevalence of classified intelligence in the Trump Russia investigation and notes that the people Donald Trump is threatening with having their security clearance revoked are those who would need that clearance to testify for the investigation.” – MSNBC TV – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXTy99W8jsw

You may recall, there’s been some debate about whether President Trump has been technically and unlawfully attempting to throw a spanner in the works of the FBI and Special Counsel inquiries into possible ‘colusion’, as he spells it, by his campaign team with Russian attempts to influence his election.

Prime suspicion of malfeasance fell on the Orange Slug himself after he fired the FBI’s director, James Comey in May last year. First, he said it was because Comey had shown political bias against Hillary Clinton (no, honestly…) but then in a notorious ABC interview he said it was because of the Russia thing that he wanted to make go away.

And that’s what he also told Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in a meeting at the White House, that he was now free of that problem.

In the meantime, his National Security advisor, Gen. Flynn, had been fired after admitting lying to the FBI about his failure to disclose his PR activities on behalf of the Russian government, and was rumored to be about to turn State’s evidence against the Trump campaign.

And Trump then embarked on a painfully obvious bid to try to discredit the Special Counsel investigation under Bob Mueller, and to get that closed down, sparking much speculation that he feared it would get too close to the financial affairs of himself and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

His weedy campaign of Sunday tweets has involved trying to brand the inquiry as a Democratic plot, conveniently ignoring that Mueller and most of his team are lifelong Republicans; and pretending that Mueller’s resignation ten years ago from membership of a Trump golf club over a fee dispute amounts to a conflict of interest.

We then had to reconsider the equally notorious meeting with an unofficial Russian delegation at Trump Tower on 9 June, 2016, in the light of new evidence concerning a plainly false version of those events that seems to have been concocted between Trump and his then press advisor, Hope Hicks, aboard Airforce One.

That was a bid to exonerate son Donald Jr and divert attention from the question of what Trump Sr might have known about the meeting beforehand, held ostensibly to commission “dirt” on the Clinton campaign. The presence of Manafort and two “former”Russian intelligence officers also with extensive experience of laundering money through offshore vehicles suggests other possible avenues of inquiry.

Trump subsequently doubled-down on his attacks on the New York Times and other mainstream media that had reported on it; attempting to force the US Postal Service to increase its charges for Amazon deliveries, lying that they offered a loss-making discount, in a bid to damage Amazon boss Jeff Bezos over adverse reporting in his well-regarded  Washington Post newspaper.

Since then there have been a number of indictments in the Mueller probe against former Trump campaign officials, including against a list now of 26 Russians or Russian companies strongly believed to have been involved in hacking the Democratic National Convention, phishing attacks on voter rolls, arranging illegal campaign contributions and stealing emails from Clinton and her senior campaign people; with or without the knowledge and agreement of the Trump campaign and possibly the candidate himself.

Yet Trump continues to try to pretend that there was no Russian interference, and if there was he personally had nothing to do with it; to suggest otherwise is a “witch hunt”, and does not intend to do anything about it, despite all agencies reporting that the attacks on the US electoral system are continuing.

There has been a clear tendency on the part of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, a nasty little claque of anti-American Republican traitors led by Sen. Devin Nunes, a man who looks and acts as though Trump has his children chained to a radiator in a basement somewhere, to attempt to take down the officers involved in the investigation one-by-one, while also mysteriously refusing to confront the ongoing problem of Russian dirty tricks.

Who are they working for?

Last Friday they claimed another scalp in the shape of Peter Strzok, a senior FBI officer who had foolishly insulted Candidate Trump ages ago in a frivolous series of emails sent to a colleague he was having an extramarital affair with, thus proving that the much later investigation of the Russia thing was all a fake news Democratic witch hunt, or whatever Trump whines it is against him personally.

Strzok just happens to have been the head of the counterintelligence unit at the FBI that investigates and keeps tabs on some 45 Russian agents in America, known in spy parlance as “sleepers”, individuals strongly suspected to have been active in planning and carrying out Putin’s disruptive agenda. He has also strongly hinted to a Congressional committee under oath that he possesses information relevant to the Mueller probe.

Coincidence? Making adverse remarks about a presidential candidate who goes on to win is hardly a sacking offence, nor unique one supposes among officials; and he had already accepted a disciplinary suspension.

This smacks of Trump’s infantile vindictiveness; but is also more disturbing, in that once again, it serves the Putin agenda to weaken the investigation and the institution of the FBI.

One Russian, Maria Butina has already been arrested, allegedly having infiltrated the National Rifle Association and arranged a $30 million “dark money” pipeline via the NRA to the Republican campaign; but it’s thought that without Strzok at the helm, the Russians will have a clearer field to mess with the November midterms and the 2020 Presidential election.

(A minor adjunct then to suggestions that Trump’s entire foreign policy agenda, particularly towards NATO, is being driven from the Kremlin, so useful is it to the ex-KGB puppetmaster.)

And, as Rachel Maddow points out on her influential MSNBC news show, his scalp virtually concludes a clean sweep against senior FBI officials who were named by the former director under oath as witnesses to a key telephone call from Trump, which Trump denies making, that Comey immediately minuted as having contained a clear and illegal order to drop the investigations into Gen. Flynn.

Five of the six witnesses, plus Strzok, have now been fired or forced to resign after being reassigned to lowlier positions and are presumably no longer in a position to testify against the President’s version of events.

Together with his increasing tendency to exclude even the head of national intelligence, Adm. Dan Coats, from the decision-making loop on matters the President himself defines as being of “national security” interest, such as the threats to take back security clearances from former CIA and FBI officials (which he has now carried out in the case of his fiercest critic, ex-CIA head, John Brennan) the evidence of Trump’s growing authoritarianism and confidence in his more outrageous actions against his own administration throws an ever-darker shadow.

What is he up to, and at whose bidding?

Together with Trump’s not entirely successful efforts to pack the District Court benches with supine placemen, many of them completely unqualified, and now a chance to nominate a second ultra-Conservative judge to the Supreme Court; plus a renewed Twitter campaign of bullying insults against Trump punchbag, Attorney-General Sessions, and the entire Justice Department, it appears that the Republican hierarchy is quietly gnawing away at the softer parts of the system to undermine any future attempt to indict the President on charges of which he insolently demonstrates more guilt with every cretinous tweet that streams from beneath his tiny thumbs; every inarticulate tirade.

Even his counsel, the increasingly bizarre Rudy Giuliani, now seems to have abandoned any attempt to defend his client, instead adopting the curious posture in media interviews of admitting with a lopsided flash of his atrocious false teeth, yep, he did it, so what?

The depth of corruption in the Trump era was luridly revealed in email evidence during the first trial of his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, on (amongst others) bank fraud charges.

The prosecution alleged that – under some pressure to repay money to a Russian oligarch he had defrauded – Manafort had obtained a $10 million loan he couldn’t pay back from an obscure small bank, apparently on the understanding that the CEO would be offered a senior post in the cabinet should Trump win. A further email was introduced, in which Kushner, having been asked to shortlist the manager – seemingly a preening, self-regarding booby – for the possibly lucrative post of Head of the Army, replied “On it!”

Added to the alleged slush-fund operated by Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, acting as a gatekeeper for privileged access to the White House while paying-off Trump’s former mistresses; the financial shenanigans while in office of Trump cronies like Carl Icahn and Wilbur Ross, the blatant corruption of Environment agency director Scott Pruitt; as well as Trump’s many egregious breaches of the Emoluments clauses of the constitution, his nepotistic appointments – the revelation that Kushner and Ivanka Trump had made over $80 million between them while supposedly in the employ of the government – and the sense is, this kind of thing is just the tip of the iceberg.

Yet the problems of proving Trump’s documented links with Russian organized crime and his apparent subjection to foreign influence pale by comparison with the intricate question of how to prosecute such crimes when they are committed by the incumbent of the sacred office of President. Americans are complete idiots, aren’t they, when it comes to the grovelling respect they show to their profoundly fallible institutions.

As The Pumpkin has mentioned several times before, it seems likely that a spoiled brat brought up with Mafia figures around the family table, who has specialized all his shitty life in getting away Scot-free with appalling, borderline criminal dealings – where necessary buying off or intimidating claimants – a mob boss in all but name, is not going to go down easily, even to an avenging-angel type like Mueller.

We may have to go on filling the news agenda with Trump, and more Trump, for a long while yet.

 

Fore!

A clue to Donald Trump’s bluff demeanor is being overlooked by many commentators, if not all.

He plays golf.

More than that, he is addicted to it.

He is probably the worst player in the world for all I know, playing off a handicap of 103, maybe, and it’s said he has been known to cheat! I don’t know how, nudges the ball into a better lie when no-one is looking, drops a new ball when he’s lost the last one in the rough and doesn’t count it as a penalty stroke, or just lies his fat head off about his scores, most probably all the time.

“Climb every mountain…” Trump in dogged pursuit of golfing excellence.

He hasn’t quite got to the stage where, like President Kim Jong-un of North Korea’s father, Kim Jong-il, it is said of him that the first time he ventured onto the golf course, he scored eight holes-in-one. But the day cannot be far off when Lyin’ Sarah is sent out to solemnly inform the press corps that the President has broken par.

So addicted to the Scottish game is President Trump, that he has spent in the region of $100 million dollars of taxpayers’ money on playing golf virtually every three-day weekend since his inauguration day. Naturally he plays at his own resorts and then sends the bill for the food and accommodation for his large security detail and personal entourage to the Treasury, netting a helpful profit in the process.

It is somewhat at odds with his boast on the campaign trail that he would be the hardest-working President ever. (In fact he works less than four hours a day, including lunch.) It demonstrates a certain hypocrisy, too, since he so frequently criticised his predecessor for being absent on the golf course. Trump has played many, many days more golf than Obama ever did.

In addition to hacking around a course, he also likes to own them. According to his sons, Trump borrows huge sums of money from the Russians to build and manage golf courses all over the world, usually at a loss, and to add those tacky resort hotel facilities with fake Time magazine covers of himself framed on the walls, for which huge membership fees are charged to further line the Presidential pocket.

(Not only is he a golf bore, he is completely insane. Now read on…)

According to the indefatigable Wikipedia, there are only ten golf courses in the whole of Russia, so Russian investors probably have other motives than the promotion of a healthy outdoor activity involving a little white ball, a bag of sticks, a slave and 18 infernally difficult holes over a four-mile walk round a field. The clean, fresh air of the golf course can do wonders for the color of your money. Well, not actually yours….

But it’s not the playing of the game, so much, to which I allude.

It’s rather the players, and their casual political attitudes.

There’s currently a debate raging about Trump’s insolent behavior toward all groups of people other than his own, a group which largely consists of himself: especially women and minorities, whom he regularly stoops to insult on a personal level. Such suburban conservative attitudes are familiar, are they not? And in the modern way, come under the blanket accusations of racism, homophobia and misogyny.

His somewhat basic, unreconstructed political philosophy sparks the kind of outrage one might reserve for the clubman in the blazer, all gray slacks and loafers, propping up the bar at the 19th hole, well into his fourth double G&T, loudly voicing his lofty and disparaging opinions about foreigners, immigrants, Chinese imports, the PC brigade, environmentalist tree-huggers, queers, benefit layabouts and uppity n-words; the absurdity of regulation and the unfairness of rich people having to pay taxes, just like poor people, of whom there are far too many and whose breeding habits should be discouraged.

To such a man, having left “the missus” at home playing bridge with her dried-up friends, when sufficiently in his cups women become pigs, dogs and other animals; servants a lower form of life; employees treacherous leakers; friends and allies ripe for disparagement; enemies fit for ridicule and name-calling – the club committee ripe for cronyism and corruption.

(And of course, when the time comes to pay the bill and be poured into a taxi, he will have left his wallet at home.)

As is the way, more witnesses are coming forward with tales of the horrible things Trump says in private; especially when backstage on the set of his tawdry reality TV show, The Apprentice. To add to the “Omarosa tapes” (look it up), magician Penn, politically engaged Libertarian half of Las Vegas cabaret act “Penn and Teller”, who unwisely took part in one episode, says Trump bandies vile racist and sexist slurs around the studio all the time; describing him as “capricious” and “petty”.

Give such a man, such a saloon-bar bore with his trite opinions on show, his uneducated, bombastic and short-sighted solutions to solving the problems with which he sees the world – i.e. himself alone – beset; hand him the terrifying and complex power of the Presidency of the world’s greatest military and economic empire; surround him with fawning acolytes and incompetent, venal satraps, and his dull-minded prejudices, now unquestionable, grow like a cancer until he is all purulent, tumorous matter.

 

“Quick, more Factor 50!” California burning.

GW: boil, roast or fry, there’s more’n one way to cook a planet

France: 1 missing, 1600 evacuated as rivers overflow in southern departments after 100 mm of rain falls in 1 hour. Meteoalarm, 18 Aug: Corsica threatened with Orange-level “damaging” thunderstorms.

Italy: “About 30” (now 38, 5 missing) including at least one child dead after the Morandi autostrada bridge in Genoa collapses during heavy rain. Police reported a violent cloudburst. “It was just after 11:30 when we saw lightning strike the bridge,” eyewitness Pietro M all’Asa was quoted as saying. “And we saw the bridge going down.” – BBC News.

Portugal: near-record temperatures, major wildfire at Monchique, other fires… and in Spain around Alcantara, where temperatures reached 43C. While in the Austrian Tyrol, and southwards into Serbia, violent flash floods followed intense rainfall around the 6th Aug.

UK: remnant hurricane Ernesto arriving as a minor Tropical Depression.

Canada: parts of Toronto are flooded and two passengers rescued with moments to spare from a rapidly filling elevator as up to 120 mm of rain falls in 1 hour.

Turkey: 10 August, 1 dead reported in a landslide in the north as flooding causes major infrastructure damage in Ordu province.

(All above from Floodlist, 13 Aug.)

India: “At least 20 people have died in the state of Kerala in south west India after torrential rain triggered floods and landslides from 08 August, 2018.” Update: “Local media reported 5 more fatalities between 14 and 15 August, bringing the death toll to 44 since the recent spate of flooding began a week ago.” Further update: 17 Aug. death toll now exceeding 320. “Heaviest rainfall in 100 years”.

Flash floods and landslides in Kashmir and Jammu kill 4 “after at least 19 people died in the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh”.

Between 8 and 12 people were swept away and 45 stranded by a flash flood at a scenic waterfall in Madhya Pradesh, after a sudden surge of water due to heavy rain upstream during the afternoon of 15 August.

(compiled from Floodlist reports)

In neighboring Myanmar: 12 dead, 150 thousand displaced by monsoon flooding; thousands of acres of crops lost. Hanoi, Vietnam – floods. Yulin City in China was hit by a powerful storm on 7 Aug, with widespread flooding amid a Red alert from the authorities. 100 mm rain fell in 3 hours. In the north, 8 people were killed by floods in Baiyin City when their cars were swept away. (CEWN #133)

Korea: North and South still experiencing record 40C (104F) heatwave. Nighttime bringing little relief with temps still over 30C all night. Heavy crop losses reported in North; 30 dead in South.

Australia: Almost 80 fires were burning along the New South Wales coast on Thursday, 15 Aug, having ripped through more than 1,000 hectares in recent days. No lives or homes were in immediate danger. (BBC Weather. It’s the middle of winter!)

Wheat harvest down by 50% as a result of the worst drought for decades across NSW and Queensland. Mini winter heatwave in NW around Perth gives way to rain and snow.

“A new study says the rate of rainfall in Australia during thunderstorms is increasing twice or even three times beyond expectation, and much faster than would be expected from global warming.” – Floodlist, citing Climate News Network

More than 30,000 people were evacuated from municipalities in southern Colombia, after heavy rainfall between 11 and 12 Aug. In Mexico, the city of Chimalhuacan was inundated on 15 Aug. following torrential rain. Island of Grenada: torrential rain, floods.

USA: California records its hottest July month in 124 years of record-keeping. Many areas suffering unbreathable air quality as a result of fires. Sea surface temperatures exceeding 80F (26.4C).

“A locally intense heat wave atop long-term warming has pushed the San Diego area into atmospheric and oceanic territory unseen in human memory. The first ten days of August have seen overnight lows hovering in record territory night after night. Meanwhile, the surface of the Pacific Ocean near San Diego is warmer than anything observed in more than a century of recordkeeping.” – Bob Henson, Wunderground

To add to the huge Carr Fire, the Mendocino Complex Fire has rapidly spread through 285 thousand acres near Los Angeles and is still not controlled. Firefighters arriving from Australia and New Zealand to help.

Meanwhile the eastern US is enjoying yet another band of heavy rainstorms moving up from the south, a cold-weather pattern that has remained virtually unaltered all year and caused extensive flood misery:

“Flash flood watches have been issued for all of eastern Pennsylvania, some southern tier locations of central New York, New Jersey, northern Maryland, eastern West Virginia and far northern Virginia, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, Harrisburg and most New Jersey suburbs of the New York City Tri-State area. … isolated extreme rainfall totals could occur”.

Florida meanwhile has declared a state of emergency over an unprecedent infestation that coastal residents say stinks and causes skin allergies. “Red tide” is a naturally occurring algal bloom caused by Karenia brevis that forms in marine water. The algae make the water toxic for marine wildlife. (The Weather Channel)

While more than 150 wildfires are burning across the western USA, and around 600 in Canada (140 new fires were started by lightning strikes in British Columbia alone in just one day, 12 Aug) The Weather Channel’s fire map is showing an uncountable number of blazes burning all across Brazil and central South America; all contributing to the global carbon overload.

President Trump has blamed California’s environmental laws for reducing the amount of water available to fight fires, although firefighters say that’s not the case; Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, has blamed environmentalists for opposing the cutting down of trees, although that policy was pushed through by the timber industry.

You get the leaders you wish for.

Pacific: 110 mph Typhoon Soulik aiming for southern Japan. Cat 4 (140mph) hurricane Hector losing strength as it heads northwestwards in mid-Pacific, 350 miles south of Hawaii. Not exected to make landfall. Some possibility of Tropical Storm Lane, now strengthening to Cat 3 or 4 hurricane, brushing the Hawaiian islands.

Arctic: global methane levels, averaging 1898 ppb, peaked at 3048 ppb on 6 Aug and much is coming from the Arctic regions. Sea temperature off Svalbard island was 22C, 69F – 16.4C higher than the June-August average between 1981 and 2010. Overall, the Arctic has warmed by 5.7C since 1880. (Arctic News)

World: Wildfires and extreme weather events around the globe just in the past few weeks are estimated to have cost hundreds of billions of dollars in insurance claims. Sweden alone is believed to have suffered $100 billion fire losses; German farmers have taken a $3 billion hit; the possibility of a breakdown in food transportation post-Brexit is overlaying a droughtfall in UK agricultural output as grain prices are already rising; the largest ever recorded in California, the Carr Fire is still ablaze near Redding and the cost to date is estimated at $1.5 billion.

“The month of July was marked by record-breaking heat, deepening droughts, and destructive wildfires in areas all around the globe,” said Michal Lorinc, an analyst within Impact Forecasting’s Catastrophe Insight team. “Nearly every major continent recorded some type of peril impact that will lead to a major cost to agricultural interests,” he added.

(Insurance Journal)

(Additional reports from Climate & Extreme Weather News #132, #133; MrMBB333 blog.)

Hitting the buffers…

After more than a year of heaving up anything from 20 to 70 earthquakes a day, Yellowstone has fallen silent, which is worrying in itself, as that’s when the experts say you need to worry. The Blessed Mary Greeley observes that the Utah university seismometers are showing a lot of fresh magma intrusion and possible signs of outgassing in the Lake area at the heart of the caldera. She’s worried too. As is the USGS warning tourists about rising poisonous gas emissions.

On top of everything else, your old Granny W. speculates, why not?

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Dear Ivanka Trump, just who the hell are you?… The Amesbury Horror… Scorched Earth Policy: turning America into the shithole of the world… GW: gettin’ sick of weather “experts” and their feeble excuses… Lies on a Summer Night… End Times: Can we have the bill, please?

Forestuff

“…they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.” – (The Guardian, 23 July)

– Technologist, Dr Douglas Rushkoff, describing a bizarre “conference” he was very well paid to speak at, that consisted of just half a dozen worried billionaires sitting around a table seeking answers to profound questions concerning their own survival as the new master race. 

Readers of this, muh bogl, might kindly recall that we Posted some time ago a Long Essay about the survivalist ambitions of the money-breathers. Made most of the same points, I think. Can’t remember when, doesn’t matter. Here’s the link: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/23/tech-industry-wealth-futurism-transhumanism-singularity

 

“you must surely realize in the still of the night that you have no qualification whatsoever to make policy on anything other than your own cheapjack fashion empire?”

Dear Ivanka Trump

Just who the hell are you?

With your preposterous sense of overentitlement, your absurd, deluded “first family” arrogance, you have announced that, in view of the failure of your fashion brands owing to your dad’s unpopularity, you have decided to shut them down (at the expense of many poor Chinese workers’ jobs) and concentrate instead on making long-term policy for the government of the United States of America.

The insouciance is simply breathtaking. You were never elected to anything!

The trophy wife of a slimy, chronically overgeared property developer – himself the teenage son of a criminal fraudster and convicted blackmailer, a squalid, rack-rent corporate landlord desperate for money – as pretty as you once were, you must surely realize in the still of the night that you have no qualification whatsoever to make policy on anything other than your own cheapjack fashion empire!

With the greatest of respect, Ivanka dear, you know fuck-all about running the world, let alone your local precinct, whose name you don’t know. You have never run for office, or hosted a town hall, or counseled a homeless mother of two trapped on opioids!

You may have been there, Davos and places, met world leaders who are running rings around your sad old dad, but you haven’t yet earned the T-shirt. And if you imagine your demented ignoramus of a father who wants to fuck you has any greater depth of knowledge of anything other than borderline criminal activity, hatred of America and the most stunted and brutal, self-defeating, outdated economic theories since before Mr Glass met Mr Steagal, well, then you know even less than I imagine.

As the daughter of America’s most catastrophic President in history, the total phonus-balonus, a bullying, blundering incompetent elected by fraud on a minority vote, another bankrupt business failure with a history of murky dealings involving organized crime, an elderly bloviate clearly suffering in the advanced stages of dementia, who needs medical help more than constant praise, you have lost all sense of proportion.

This is surely the apotheosis of the celebrity culture, when the population, so brainwashed by the vapid outpourings of the little social media devices babbling in their ears and on their screens, devices whose aggressive marketing has created an elite claque of slave-owning “tech billionaires” living in a bubble of their own paranoid reality and shareholder greed, that they no longer have any sense of what’s relevant or material, permanently enslaves itself to total mediocracy.

Government by TV ‘stars’. it had to happen, I suppose, since the common people have little else to compare them with and are not educated to know that there are no easy answers to the most complex problems of our age.

Just check-out the latest Trump speech, in which he fervently urges his dumbfuck supporters not to believe anything they hear or see, other than what he tells them is happening: his nightly re-imaginings of reality in 280 characters or less…. It’s terrifying; the self-contradictory outpourings of a drowning man, the King Over the Water so far out of his depth in the job it has rendered him insensible to all externalities; his personal mythology a kind of mental prolapse, a turning inside-out of the theory of how to do stuff without shitting out your own bowels.

What we are facing is a world in which the “survivors” of Big Brother and Love Island, Trump’s Apprentice; the Kanyes and Kims and other “whodey?s” of popular fantasy, are accorded exactly the same status as the patiently trained politicians and diplomats, the ingenious industry leaders and studious philosophers, the Nobel prizewinning scientists and rectitudinous University deans, when it comes to understanding and managing evermore complex world events: trade, manufacturing, diplomacy, agriculture, technology, climate change, war… unless they are available to your superficial nostrums entirely divorced from context and complexity.

I mean, like, Palestine, Syria, Facebook, the markets – how hard can they be? You just say what you want to happen, and hey presto!

Merely because they have been made into celebrities through sophisticated marketing to produce fully exploitable robotic figures who now – what – by virtue of their ubiquity have a claim to rule in the political, industrial, academic and scientific spheres, the intellectual space, because – what – knowledge, experience, wisdom, intelligence, maturity and deep education count for nothing anymore, so divorced are they from the median student of life and her Twitter feed?

It’s the political victory of the liberal arts over the empirical sciences, in the CP Snow analysis.

Are we now saying that Kim Kardashian would also be an ideal President of the USA, merely because she has been promoted by astute and cynical showbusiness mavens to cult status through emphasizing the prodigious size of her buttocks? Is that even a serious thing? Do you know, women are dying from having stuff injected in their asses to make them look like this fabulous confection, this useless and pitiable drain on our shrinking resources – this cultural prostitute?

Kardashian appears to have no other talents, apart from being the daughter of one of the celebrity advocates of the wife-beater and probable murderer, OJ “The Juice” Simpson, having married an inexplicably popular and unreliable “rap” artist whose philosophical gibberings rival those of the footballer, Eric Cantona, for sheer banality. (And that, of course, is the whole point of her appeal to millions of aspirant teens – you don’t need anything more to succeed beyond your own wildest dreams, provided you keep your ass in shape and buy the product. To hell with the suicides.)

Are we being asked from now on to accept that some permatanned genius like one of the indistinguishable Kardashian sisterhood couldn’t possibly do a worse job of fucking up the planet than Trump, given an adequate marketing push? While trashing classical culture with the other hand? the made-for-TV Taliban?

Is he the benchmark for future Presidents whose executive powers will be limited to deciding what to call their latest range of underarm deodorant? (And then languidly reach out an arm to blackmail another small state before returning to the matters in tiny hand, the construction of a policy tweet, the guzzling of a cheeseburger.) Whose Twitter followers outnumber the stars in the galaxy? Whose YouTube makeup videos suck in millions of dollars in advertising to desperate kids with normal adolescent blemishes?

Fortunately, this whole horror show is winding up as the planet heats beyond human endurance.

Ivanka Trump’s latest commercial venture, concentrating on making policy for the future of the Free World, in which incidentally you and I will struggle to live, even if she survives for a while longer, is going to have to cope with some pretty difficult conditions in the next few years.

The BogPo only hopes she’s vain and stupid enough to lead us out of the wilderness into the sunlit uplands of vacuous commerce and superficial expertry, if only by accident.

x

Sucker berg

But maybe all is not lost!

“Facebook shares tumbled on Wednesday after the social media network’s revenue and user growth fell short of investor expectations …. 2.23 billion monthly active users at the end of June … was up 11% compared to 2017 – the slowest growth in more than two years.” – BBC Business

The biggest ever single-day drop in a company’s market value, Facebook lost another $119 billion Thursday. The Zuck is personally $16 billion lighter tonight. He won’t be going out!

Hold on. You mean, 11% more suckers are still signing up to Zuck’s college scam, regardless of being told repeatedly what Facebook really is and how it exploits them?

Okay, maybe all is lost.

 

“…what are we talking, ‘Poison, by Dior’? ‘Collusion, by Trump’?”

The Amesbury Horror

So, Russian nerve-agent victim Charlie Rowley recovered consciousness, and has explained to police and subsequently the media what happened. It isn’t as the BogPo speculated last week, an extended conspiracy: Rowley and poor Dawn Sturgess turn out to have been almost exceptionally ordinary people, two recovering addicts caught in the social care system, it was incredibly bad luck, but it’s equally intriguing.

The Guardian writes:

“The man poisoned with the nerve agent novichok has claimed the substance that killed his girlfriend and left him critically ill came in a perfume bottle that was sealed and wrapped up.”

So, the police have cleverly concluded, it can’t have been from the same batch as was used to try to assassinate the double-agent, Sergei Skripal in Salisbury last March. Why not?

The obvious inference is surely that the same batch was split across two or more similarly disguised containers; it would not be an over-imaginative ploy, to smuggle the agent in a perfume bottle of the kind you might bring into the country, say as a duty-free purchase on a commercial flight; and to ensure that if one attacker failed, the other would get through.

There’s more than one!

Now, clearly, if (as the Russian disinformation campaign has tried to pretend) the poison had come from an illicit batch on a shelf at Porton Down, retained in defiance of the international rules on chemical weapons by the devious British for spies presumably with romantic inclinations, it wouldn’t have been in a wrapped and sealed perfume bottle.

Unless it’s kept on a shelf of pre-mixed 1980s compound nerve agents heavily disguised as duty-free goods for handy use in any circumstances. (One certainly hopes Ryanair or whoever weren’t pushing it to passengers by accident.)

But if the assassin/s arrived on a flight, probably via somewhere else, from Moscow, surely it was the perfect method of getting the poison into the country. And if it was convincingly sealed and wrapped, then the most likely explanation is that some agency with the sophisticated ability to refill, seal and cellophane-wrap a perfume bottle in such a way as to make it undetectable and not suspicious to Customs could be responsible.

And, a thought – why split the batch? Well, any container of liquid over 100 ml would be confiscated at Security.

So the Guardian expert’s weird speculation suggests that the media don’t have a clue:

“…if Rowley is correct about the perfume bottle being boxed and sealed (why would he not be? Ed.), it may undermine the line of inquiry that the novichok that he and Sturgess came into contact with had been discarded by the attackers of the Skripals.”

Oh, really? So there was more than one team of Russian knockoff-artists blundering about the Wiltshire countryside looking for former agents to eliminate, all using sealed perfume bottles, and no connection between them?

How do these dimwits get employed on apparently serious news organs, when your Uncle Bogler struggles to get by on his pension because you bastards won’t pay to read his illuminating insights?

The most obvious inference, my dears, is that the attackers had A SPARE BOTTLE which they discarded when they got the message, “job done”.

The question now being, are there more discarded perfume bottles littering Wiltshire – what are we talking, “Poison, by Dior”? “Collusion, by Trump”?

Charlie, by Revlon? No, that would be too…

Actually, the question is, what was in the package Yulia Skripal reportedly brought into Heathrow through Customs when she visited her father? Would she have known what she was carrying, or might it have been a plant? And if we have heard Charlie’s version of events, why haven’t we heard hers?

Surely, even if Sergei is still a cauliflower, she could shed light on the whole affair?

Poor Charlie doesn’t now remember where he found the bottle, and there’s no confirmation the police have it, although we must assume they do. He says he gave it to his girlfriend as a gift: Dawn sprayed it on herself, but he only got some on his hand and washed it off.

One lived, the other died. It’s an arbitrary journey, life.

He says it was oily and odourless. This correlates to what my defense-industry-orientated son tells me about the nature of novichok and how it works – faster when inhaled; almost instantly replacing your proteins, or some such, with nerve-blockers, than when in contact with the skin.

So the spray action would have been useful, both to coat a door-handle, and as a sniffer.

Meanwhile we have heard nothing more of reports that the police have a number of suspects in view, Russians who came and went around the time.

Nor of the BogPo’s innocent question: why was Skripal ensconced by his MI6 handlers (who are based in London) in a supposedly safe house in Salisbury, right in the southern heartland of the British defence industry, and furnished with a vivid red BMW car?

Was he some sort of tethered goat?

We have heard nothing more, either, from Det Sgt Bailey, who was also inadvertently poisoned; in what sense was he a ‘first responder’, and how did he know to go straight to the Skripal house if they were unconscious when found a few miles away, unless he already knew who they were?

And what of the coincidence, that both couples spent time in the same park in Salisbury, visited by hundreds of people every week, on the days they were poisoned? What separate action then ties them together across four months in time?

It’s one heck of a mystery, ain’t it.

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Scorched Earth: turning America into the shithole of the world

Before being dragged from his $43 thousand private phone booth, his manicured and expensively lotioned fingernails squealing on the whiteboard, the profoundly corrupt and borderline insane administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who “very much did not want to leave office” (for details of his bizarre crimes, see Posts passim) tried to push through one more incomprehensible piece of environmental vandalism.

So-called ‘glider trucks’ are new truck cabs that are sold without engines and gearboxes, allowing the haulage company to retrofit their own engines after purchase. Such engines may have been recovered from crashed or dumped trucks, or are recons from decommissioned rigs.

They are naturally older, more polluting units that don’t meet Clean Air Act stipulations, but because they predate the rules, don’t have to.

Either stupid or desperate, persuaded by the manufacturers’ marketing bullshit, US hauliers see only the immediate cost saving and not the long-term extra costs of the maintenance cycle and breakdown issues.

Or the hideous environmental and human health consequences of NOx pollution.

But there you go, or not.

According to the Vox website:

“…the EPA’s (own) tests showed that even shiny new glider trucks can spew upward of 55 times the amount of pollution of modern trucks.”

The Obama administration – them again – had moved to issue an order under the Clean Air Act limiting the numbers of these child-killing monsters to 300 a year, still 300 too many in the BogPo’s view. Pruitt’s last venal sin was to try to overturn the order.

To quote Michelle Obama, what is the matter with these people?

Happily, there’s been an 11th hour intervention by the courts.

In an update to its 18 July story, Vox reports:

“The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by a 2-1 decision issued an emergency stay on Wednesday in response to a lawsuit by the Environmental Defense Fund and other environmental groups. The order forces the EPA to enforce stricter rules on “super polluting” glider trucks as the court considers permanently overriding Scott Pruitt’s final decision as the EPA’s leader.”

The BogPo notes that this is only one of a very large number of unutterably stupid, evil and callous moves by the filthy Trump administration, shilling for its energy bidness donors, to turn the United States, still in parts a beautiful country, into the shithole of the world, the Mines of fucking Mordor, before Americans throw the bastards out on their ears, and has only one uncomprehending question:

Why?

To which a faint echo calls back:

Money.

PS: Mr Pruitt has been replaced by Andrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the coal industry.

No doubt his nickname will now be Andrew “sixteen” Wheeler. (Insert wry orange trucker face.)

For the rest of this horror story – basically, FitzGerald, beetle-browed CEO of the leading glider truck manufacturer in America, happens to fund the very same university engineering department that helpfully produces a report for Pruitt, against the findings of his own agency, claiming the trucks are just as clean as new ones.

See him shaking hairy knuckles with a beaming Donald Trump, who just loves real Americans and big shiny trucks – go to:

http://www.vox.com/2018/7/8/17544380/scott-pruitt-epa-truck-pollution-glider-kit-loophole

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GW: gettin’ sick of weather “experts” and their feeble excuses

Greece: 24 July, the death toll in wildfires mostly now out in places along a wide front east of the capital, Athens now exceeds 70, including (it’s reported) a group of 26 people found huddled together in a field 50 metres from the sea, overcome by thick smoke in the coastal resort of Mati. Details are still emerging but it’s thought many children are among the dead. Emergency workers have been evacuating locals and tourists by boat.

“Italy, Germany, Poland and France have all sent help in the form of planes, vehicles and firefighters, and Spain and Cyprus have offered Greece assistance, but with temperatures set to soar again they are in a race against time to get the fires under control.

“Help is also needed in Sweden where at least one person has been killed and dozens injured by forest fires there as soaring temperatures continue across much of Europe.” – BBC News, 24 July

Norway, too, has around 100 wildfires burning. In Latvia: a state of emergency has been declared in the farming sector, as there has been no rain since 03 May. In Poland, agricultural production has fallen by 33%. (Climate & Extreme Weather News #130)

Italy: a flash flood raced through the town of Canosa in Puglia, 23 July after a torrential rainstorm. (CEWN)

Japan: The national weather agency has declared a natural disaster, with at least 80 deaths recorded in the past week. A spokesman warned that “unprecedented levels of heat” were being seen in some areas. Around 35,000 people have been admitted to hospital with heat stroke. The heatwave shows no sign of abating, forecasters say. On Monday (23 July), the city of Kumagaya reported a temperature of 41.1C (106F), the highest ever recorded in Japan. (from BBC News) The 37C heatwave is continuing in nearby Korea, and on the Chinese mainland

Laos: “Hundreds” of people are missing and an unknown number dead after a dam collapsed in the south-east of the country. The collapse at the hydroelectric dam in Attapu province late on Monday sent flash floods through six villages, Laos News Agency said. More than 6,600 people have been made homeless. – BBC News. It’s reported the dam was still under construction when heavy rain caused a landslide further upstream.

Pakistan: a damburst in Ghizer district caused by heavy rain swept away a village on 17 July, isolating three more villages. No reports of casualties, but 2 people died and another was injured in flash flooding in nearby Diamer district on 18 July, bringing the death toll in monsoon floods and landslides to 42 since the end of June. (from Floodlist, 24 July) More deadly floods have hit northern India, and the Philippines’ Luzon island as a result of record monsoon rains. (CEWN)

West Africa: parts of Liberia, including the capital Monrovia, experienced flooding on 18 July after days of heavy rain. Flooding caused “significant material damage and severe transport problems” and … also affected parts of neighbouring Margibi County. As of 19 July, a total of 31,186 people were affected, including thousands of children. (from Floodlist, 24 July)

USA: “At 3 a.m., it was 98 degrees in Gaviota on the Santa Barbara coast about 125 miles west of Los Angeles, the weather service said. Maximum temperatures were predicted to be 20 to 25 degrees above normal virtually everywhere.” – CBS News

As the heatwave in the west shows no sign of letting up (49C, 120 deg. F recorded outside LA) , a wildfire near Yosemite National Park has consumed more than 30,000 acres. “More than 2,900 firefighters from as far away as Virginia are fighting the blaze. As of Friday evening 20 July, the fire was only 6 percent contained.”

Meanwhile, “a fire near Portland has consumed 79,000 acres and forced 75 households to evacuate. It’s just one of 160 wildfires scorching southern Oregon. In Colorado, wildfires have already ripped through 175,000 acres, and the ensuing rains have brought mudslides along the freshly denuded landscape.” – edited from Vox website, 23 July.

Last year’s fire season affected more than 10 million acres, making it the second-worst on record behind 2015.

The wholesale price of Californian lemons has risen by 40%. In Canada, British Columbia is again bearing the brunt of an extended wildfire season, with a huge blaze reported at Mt Eneas.

Over in the east, however, what The Weather Channel is calling an “extremely odd” weather pattern is developing, with heavy rainstorms and more flash floods expected.

Russia: Siberian Times reports:

“People from remote Eveno-Bytantaisky and Zhigansky districts turned to newspapers, begging local media to explain ‘the devilry’ of what happened. Their remote communities were plunged into darkness – even though they should have 24 hour light at this time of year. ‘The sun went out around 11am, and didn’t come back until about 2pm. I couldn’t see a thing without switching lights on. We took torches to walk outside, but actually no-one wanted to be on the street because the feeling was as if something heavy in the air was pressing on your chest’, said one resident.

“After the sun returned, locals found a thick layer of dust covering everything outside.”

UK: Forecasters warn that temperatures in the south later in the week could hit 36C, 96F. The National Farmers’ Union has warned of crops “parched to the bone” and livestock farmers resorting to using winter rations, as grass has stopped growing. Several places in England have gone without significant rainfall for 54 consecutive days. – BBC News

The last survivors leave the city… Greenwich Park, London (photo: EPA)

Here out in the west today, 24 July, we have cool, cloudy conditions for the second day running, with occasional rain.

Lucky us, eh?

Oh, right. The sun just came out again.

 

Lies on a Summer Night

The BBC website has a disgraceful feature: the “5 places that have just broken weather records”, each entry accompanied by a ridiculous excuse from a tame weather “expert” explaining the specific reasons why it should have happened in that particular location.

But for the absolute worst in climate change denial on the BBC, what I would consider to be a sackable offence on the part of David Shukman and his producer, go to:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/headlines/44961700/uk-heatwave-2018-why-is-it-so-hot

And take a sick bag.

Of course, you can’t put individual events down to a general trend of runaway warming, can you, can’t join the dots without panicking the populace. These are all just local anomalies that can be easily explained as funny things happening out of the blue because of technical stuff like the jetstream winds, that have unaccountably gone a bit loopy! Whoops! Why, we had worse during the war!

We’re fine, honest.

(The BBC has never, so far as I know, reported the faintly disturbing news that in July 2016 for the first time ever recorded, the northern circumpolar jetstream became so unstable that it broke apart and crossed over into the southern hemisphere. It might also be worth pointing out that 2015, 2016 and 2017 were the hottest years on record, and without an El Niño yet this year is rapidly gaining on them.)

Responding to the setting of what may be a new record for the highest temperature recorded in Africa, the 51.3C (124.3F) at Ouargla, northern Algeria, on 5 July, for instance, “Environment Correspondent” Matt McGrath writes:

“Algeria could see a sweltering 8C rise by the end of this century. The extreme temperatures of recent weeks may be a foretaste of the norm in decades to come.”

No they won’t, because a jolly-old 8C “sweltering” average rise over pre-industrial temperatures is not survivable by humans or most other animal and plant species. And on present trend will in any case have occurred long before the “end of the century”, a birthday party nobody now alive will see out.

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End Times

Can we have the bill, please?

Earth Overshoot day – the day in the year when we pass the limit of sustainability in our consumption of food and natural resources, has moved forward again, by two days, to 1 August. As of next week we’re living on borrowed time until after Christmas, when we start living on borrowed money.

“To maintain our current appetite for resources, we would need the equivalent of 1.7 Earths, according to Global Footprint Network, an international research organisation that makes an annual assessment of how far humankind is falling into ecological debt.

“While ever greater food production, mineral extraction, forest clearance and fossil-fuel burning bring short-term (and unequally distributed) lifestyle gains, the long-term consequences are increasingly apparent in terms of soil erosion, water shortages and climate disruption.”

“‘The day of reckoning is moving nearer'”. – Guardian “Green Light”, 23 July

Yellowstone News

The giant Steamboat geyser in the park has gone off for the 12th time this year, according to the Blessed Mary Greeley’s reading of the USGS runes. The most it’s ever managed before is three times in the whole of 2003.

 

Mental Health News

As the end times and planet Nibiru approach ever nearer, scattering dust and unknown types of UV light, Americans just get crazier. Here’s a typical exchange from the MrMBB333 weather phenomena website:

Someone:

“Its really weird mars has a planet wide dust storm and we have sand off the Sahara going crazy too…I wonder if something from space like gravity waves is to blame?or the planet’s all being on one side of the sun?.”

Mars is sonoluminescent and not a solid object.
imineti (edited):
Jason Hand exactly! Planets are wandering stars as it says in the Bible, earth is flat, space is the waters of the firmament. We cant get past the firmament which is why we will never go to space, they faked Moon landings because the Moon is in the firmament and is also a light (a cooling light, seperate light source from the Sun, we can prove thise by measuring the temp of light, moon light is cooler than the night shade). God bless.
I don’t see with profound thinkers like these in the majority, how we’re going to survive the next twenty years. Maybe it’s time to go?

The Pumpkin – Issue 55: The War on Drugs targets children – with drugs… Midterms: And the beat goes on… Open letter to: the BBC Board – Trump news coverage a shameful disgrace… Sensationalism gone mad… GW: turning up me collar, gazing at the sky… To irony and beyond

“To Infinity and beyond!”
‘Dorothy’ Trump muses wistfully that “there’s no place like space” as he plans to build a golf course complex on the moon (Image: mashable.com)

 

 The War on Drugs targets children – with drugs

“A series of heartbreaking investigative stories published Wednesday by Reveal and The Texas Tribune highlights the disturbing conditions many undocumented children have been allegedly forced to endure in privately run shelters set up to house them as they await proceedings to determine whether they can stay in the country.

“One of the more gruesome details includes allegations that children at the Shiloh Treatment Center near Houston, Texas were routinely dosed with unneeded antipsychotics to keep them quiet and compliant.”TYT report, 22 January.

You might muse on the thought that the overbearing and unconscionable immigration officials, sick and twisted demons let loose by the Trump regime, are the ones who require anti-psychotics.

Worse, children are being transported all over the country in secret, in the middle of the night. Local authorities are not being informed of their arrivals. Officials have lied to airlines refusing to carry separated children about the identities of parties of children smuggled aboard, to the consternation of crew members (MSNBC report). No records are being kept linking children as young as eight months with their parents being held in detention, so that most will never find their families again.

Fears are growing that children may end up with human traffickers or fostered by abusers.

This Presidency is a Pandora’s Box of horrors and must be ended by any means.

The most effective being a bullet through the head.

Picturing history

“Hello little girl, would you like a job in my administration? Only the best people.”

Inevitably, Sandra Sanchez, the crying toddler photographed on the border while her mother is searched by an ICE agent, has gone in two days from being an icon of US brutality towards refugees and a star of Time magazine’s July cover image, to being merely a tired and fractious little girl whose mother was being patted down by a kindly Mexican border official before they were put into protective custody “together”.

There is no getting away from the fact that hundreds of similarly young children have been snatched from their families, distributed throughout the country and will probably never be reunited with their parents. Almost every iconic photo-journalistic image in modern history from the Civil War ‘dead’, to planting the Stars and Stripes at Iwo Jima and the Red Flag over the Reichstag, to the burning child in Vietnam has been debunked or downplayed as a fake, yet nothing can detract from the narrative truths and the symbolic power they represent.

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“…the RNC (Republican National Committee) has given a contract for the mid-term elections to a top GOP operative involved in the theft of 87 million Facebook profiles”

And the beat goes on

In case anyone might be silly enough to imagine the first duty of the Republican party isn’t to get itself elected by hook, but most certainly by crook, and that the dirty tricks department has shut down in the face of media exposure since November 2016, Politics News reports: “The AP (Associated Press agency) has released a bombshell report about Trump and Cambridge Analytica’s 2020 election meddling plans.

“The Trump 2020 campaign just got caught hiring former Cambridge Analytica employees to work on the re-election campaign for the President.”

(See also Private Eye #1742 with news of former Leave campaign staffers walking into well paid ‘revolving door’ jobs with organizations run by former Leave.EU and other Brexit conspirators. Here in Britain too, “The Thing” goes on….)

“Today’s AP report also confirms that the RNC has given a contract for the mid-term elections to a top GOP operative involved in the theft of 87 million Facebook profiles in conjunction with the Trump 2020 campaign. Former Cambridge Analytica data scientist Matt Oczowski created a company called Data Propria and hired some of the bankrupt Cambridge Analytica’s former employees, then sold his company to the penny stock company CloudCommerce (CLWD).

“Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale also sold his marketing company to CloudCommerce and now the two men are working together on CloudCommerce’s new data analytics division.

“Parscale denies that the Trump 2020 campaign’s current goal with Data Propria is to re-elect the President, but says instead to impact the 2018 mid-term elections.

“AP reports: ‘I am laser-focused on the 2018 midterms and holding the House and increasing our seats in the Senate,’ [Brad Parscale] said. ‘Once we do those things, I’ll start working on re-electing President Trump.’” – Politics News.

Oh, just switch off your phones.

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Open letter to: the BBC Board

Trump news coverage ‘a shameful disgrace’

“It is clear to most that the President’s aim is to use the issue of children in cages and ‘soft-sided structures’ , a controversial policy he himself has created and is deliberately exacerbating, to force the Democrats into voting with hardline Republicans to pay for a border wall”

Dear Board member

I wish to draw your attention to an interview at six minutes to eight this morning on the Today program between presenter, Justin Webb and a Mr Frank Gatney, who is not so far as I know an actual employee of the US government but was said to have a previous connection with the Trump campaign.

Mr Gatney’s role was to defend Mr Trump’s morally indefensible policy and well-attested lies as regards the forcible removal into secret detention (and worse – ‘tender-age shelters’? What the fuck?) of the children of Latin American refugees, SOME LESS THAN ONE YEAR OLD, many of whom cannot now be traced or linked with any parent, who – it is your editorial policy – must be referred to as ‘migrants’, and who may never see their children again.

Instead, your bulletin writers repeatedly used the phrase ‘illegal immigrants’, when the fact is that these babies and toddlers are not ‘illegal immigrants’ in any sense other than that defined by the President himself, on no other authority: THEY ARE POLITICAL PRISONERS; HOSTAGES. In most cases it is reliably reported by US media that the parents have arrived at the southern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona borders legally claiming asylum under the 1948 UN Convention on Refugees, and have not attempted illegal entry.

This action in itself, of claiming asylum, if at the border and not at US embassies in their own countries, has been unilaterally declared by the President to be ‘illegal’; a status in law which, he has lied, was created and is being maintained by the opposition Democrat party, a position which is quite clearly preposterous and held by a two-thirds majority of Americans to be so. If it can be traced anywhere, it is to the Republican Bush administration.

The President has described these people, many of them women and children fleeing from gang warfare, rape, torture, extortion and murder in their own countries, a state of affairs nurtured over decades by clandestine US security operations in support of extreme rightwing politicians, corporate entities and the so-called ‘war on drugs’, as ‘animals’, claiming that they are all potential violent gang members (he is obsessed with a Los Angeles gang called MS-13, most of whose members are US-born.).

Thus, year-old animals are held in concrete pens in San Diego with only aluminum thermal sheeting for blankets, while the psychopath cries orange crocodile tears, oh, the poor babies, it’s all the fault of those heartless Democrats.

In fact, no-one knows where the very youngest children have been taken, the administration refuses to say. The assumption is, they’re being put up for adoption. Many of the girls, too, have been spirited away to secret detention, Chibok-style, where one imagines them being married off to Trump-supporting ‘incels’ – unattractive young men who cannot get girlfriends. (So far it’s only an unworthy thought. Ed.)

He could stop this immediately. But he is playing a game.

Mr Gatney repeated the President’s entirely unsubstantiated assertion that the children are not even the migrants’ own. He seems to have got that idea from Ann Coulter, a demented and skeletal Fox news harridan, who claims that the children are all ‘crisis actors’ employed in a conspiracy to embarrass the White House.

Were your editors awake, they would know that this is a party line supported only by a handful of White House insiders, among them known racialists and white Christian biblical fundamentalists such as A-G Sessions, dead-eyed college vampire Stephen Miller, press spokesmouth Lyin’ Sarah Sanders and Secretary of Homeland Security, Neilsen; who, last night, tried to dine at a Mexican restaurant of all places, until she was howled out by protestors. Just how stupid and insensitive do you have to be, to get a job with Trump?

It is clear to most, and he has admitted it, that the President’s aim is to use the sight of children in cages and ‘soft-sided structures’ – a controversial policy he himself has created and is deliberately exacerbating and the sound of their crying, to force the Democrats into voting with hardline Republicans to pay for a border wall; as he is so desperate to deliver a rash, off-the-cuff election promise he made in 2016 to his support base in advance of the midterm elections.

Yet Mr Webb made no attempt whatever to challenge Mr Gatney on any of the points he made, putting your editorial line on this story considerably at variance with other media, such as this morning’s Guardian, which offered a fair and balanced view but nevertheless put the growing protests even within the Republican party at the heart of the story.

With one honorable exception, John Sweeney’s 2016 Panorama report on Trump’s mafia connections, the BBC’s entire attitude to the Trump administration from the outset has been one of supine, uncritical subservience. The continuing normalization of this dysfunctional, abusive and highly anomalous presidency by the BBC is a national embarrassment.

Mr Trump as has frequently been noted is entirely unfit for office, in the opinion of many respectable commentators in the USA and that of millions of decent and sensible Americans. His actions are irrational and reprehensible, his economic policies self-serving and untutored, his foreign policy on the face of it based on financial extortion and bullying; his one-sided and antediluvian authoritarian views on many issues, abusive ad hominem Twitter attacks and his clear contempt for the constitution, judges, women and minorities are repugnant to most Americans; nevertheless he continues to enrich himself and his family through egregious breaches of the Emoluments acts and tax reforms beneficial to himself and his donors.

You have consistently failed to produce a critical analysis of this Trump regime within a coherent overview, but – as with the climate change story – treat every new pronouncement (and very few of the gaffes) in isolation. In consequence, I see and hear frequent references to Trump’s policies and statements that indicate only a very limited public understanding in the UK of the appalling nightmare he is inflicting on his country.

It takes little effort to inform oneself and the nation of these matters, but it appears from the flaccid and respectful reports of your Washington correspondent, Mr John ‘Sopoor’ that everything is perfectly normal, if perhaps a little unconventional, when it is so clearly not normal, and conventional only by the standards of a banana republic.

Do you imagine it is NORMAL that in the USA in 2018, children as young as FOUR are having to represent themselves in immigration tribunal hearings because no responsible adult or legal counsel is available? Is it NORMAL for the Attorney-General of the United States, where the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of the State from religious intolerance, to claim that God has sanctioned this evil policy? Is it NORMAL for the President of the United States to call for due legal process to be carried out without recourse to the courts?

Why are you not reporting this on the Today program, instead of putting up lying shills for the White House to defend a crime against humanity without tearing their testimony to shreds?

Mr Trump has withdrawn this morning from yet another international body, the UN Council on Human Rights, that he perceives as challenging and weakening global US hegemony. Your unbalanced response to this story was to carry without comment or question, the tendentious statement by UN Ambassador Hayley, complaining among other things of the Council’s unfair treatment of…. Israel, a gross violator of human rights.

(It seems particularly rich that Ms Hayley should describe the Council as a ‘cesspit of political bias’, with many members themselves being human rights violators, when Mr Trump so frequently expresses admiration for brutal dictators: Duterte, al-Sisi, Erdogan, Xi and Kim Jong-un, and claims half-jokingly that he wishes he could be more like them.)

I, Sirs, do not wish to accept the status of humble subject in a resurgent, exceptionalist American global empire, under the dominion of a senescent, sociopathic moral imbecile with self-serving, thuggish, anti-democratic instincts, even if the BBC does. From the start of this presidency, your editorial stance has been consistently behind the curve; partial, supine and cowardly: a shameful national disgrace.

And while I have your attention, is it possible someone could explain to me why it is that of all the categories of programming listed on your ‘Contact the BBC’ web page for viewers and listeners to offer criticism or suggestions, ‘News’ is the one button that refuses to work?

Thank you.

Postscriptum:

MSNBC News is currently (20 June) reporting the refusal of some state governors to allow the deployment of their national guard units or the use of state resources to support Trump’s filthy and corrupt immigration policy on the border.

Follow the story with Lawrence O’Donnell on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4w8mzUKczI

Post-postscriptum:

Two mornings later, the BBC finally has reporters in south Texas and has interviewed the scathing Trump critic and contributor to The Atlantic, the laconic David Frum.

Most of the coverage went out before 7 a.m., but it’s a start – although the asylum applicants are still “illegal” according to Trump, and BBC journalists haven’t really worked out that Trump’s Executive Order (it wasn’t, it was a memorandum) apparently backtracking on his original edict to A-G Sessions won’t make a difference to the 2,500 kids already in custody in secret camps all over the USA, where they can’t be traced, and who may never be reunited with their parents.

Two good news items, several US airlines are refusing to carry separated children, and a couple who hoped to raise $1500 to put up a bail bond for a Nicaraguan family found themselves with $15 MILLION after three days of pledges from over 350 thousand Americans.

Trump has so miscalculated, but as a fully qualified sociopath how was he to know that gaoling 10-month-old children might blow up in his puffy old criminal face?

Meanwhile, Army lawyers are having to be drafted in to prosecute cases in the secret border courts – another illegal act on the part of the regime as US forces personnel are not allowed to take part in policing internal affairs.

Steve Cortes, a CNN political commentator who serves on the Trump 2020 election advisory council, wrote in an email: ‘I think the president was deeply distressed by the images of children missing their parents. I also think we all need to realise that neither President Trump nor our law enforcement caused that very unfortunate circumstance; rather, these victim children were totally mistreated by their parents or guardians who chose freely to commit the serious crime of illegal trespass into our country with children in tow’.” – Guardian

Is there a possibility this toady sonofabitch with his lying blubbery lips clamped firmly around the orange anus smelling faintly of cheeseburger, sucking on it hard whilst massaging the little furry scrotum with loving tenderness, could be taken out, tarred and feathered and thrown into a pit of fire, as required by his Godalmighty, fucking Republican bible?

Please God, is there? Just askin’.

“On Friday (Trump) railed against ‘phony stories of sadness and grief’ and paraded the families of people killed by undocumented immigrants, drawing a pointed comparison by saying: ‘They’re not separated for a day or two days. These are permanently separated, because they were killed by criminal illegal aliens’.”

What the lying old bastard didn’t say was that of the nine families he paraded for his own re-election, eight were grieving for relatives who had died in ROAD ACCIDENTS.

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Sensationalism gone mad.

“One cannot permit unique opportunities to slip by for the sake of trifles.”

This somewhat trite and unexceptional maxim, a version of ‘stick to the knitting’, has got everyone’s knickers in a twist at the University of Exeter, as the words appear to be contaminated with the virus of …. National Socialism!

The connection might have escaped your notice reading those anodyne words, but after a silly scandal involving some students exchanging racist tweets, for which the university was in no way responsible, the poor old Dean and Chapter (interest alert: my son was a postgrad student there) are now having to defend themselves against accusations of being Nazi sympathisers; possibly even party members.

To be fair, the prat in the PR department who found the quote on the internet and stuck it in a student guidebook ought to have recognised the attribution to one Erwin Rommel, and paused for thought. He is quite famous.

But numerous notable (not ‘notorious’, BBC!) military leaders down the centuries have also been cod philosophers, it goes with the territory.

Business management trainees studying ‘Leadership skills’ have probably been stuffed silly with pithy quotations from far worse brutes than the shrewd and urbane Rommel, generally regarded as being among the great military strategists of history. If Hitler had only listened to him instead of wasting all the concrete and slave labor in Germany trying to build a stupid wall around France, he might well have changed the course of the D-Day landings.

The Nazis were pretty horrible, but by no means uniquely so. Our continuing obsession with them is not particularly helpful or healthy, leading as it does to trivial false comparisons and ludicrous witch-hunts against incautious latter-day politicians, comedians and academics.

They should be allowed to get on with their jobs without undereducated, self-appointed moral guardians pointing their sticky fingers at whatever they least understand, lazily resorting to bad historical comparisons to make – what? – their pointless points.

It’s sensationalism gone mad.

x

GW: turning up me collar, gazing at the sky

USA: Another tropical storm that hasn’t quite made it as a hurricane is moving up from the Gulf of Mexico, the second in little over a week. Parts of far south Texas have had up to 15 inches of rain in 24 hours (to 20 June) and there are flash flood warnings out in many areas.

“(More than 60) sinkholes and washed out roads were reported Sunday (17 June) as flash flooding triggered by heavy rainfall swamped several towns from northern Minnesota and Wisconsin to Upper Michigan. ‘The majority of us can’t even get home. Roads are collapsed. Bridges are collapsed. Roads are covered in water.’ – local resident. The Radigan Flowage Dam west of Dairyland, Wisconsin burst, and the Tamarack and St. Croix rivers were flooding. 4-7 in. of rain fell in just 7 hours.”- edited from Wunderground.

And here’s the menu for just this last week’s issue #126 of Climate and Extreme Weather News, consisting of citizen videos from places affected by severe weather events.  I can’t face expanding on it, it speaks for itself: the entire northern hemisphere is flooding in a band around the globe, at roughly the 40th parallel (start of the subtropical zone). Some of these images are truly apocalyptic. Go to:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKjOjC0LxmA

Indonesia: Banyuwangi flood Turkey: Kahramanmaras flood Lebanon: Ras Baalbek flood Israel: Negev flood Ivory Coast: Abidjan flood Ghana: Accra flood Mexico: Guanajuato, Aguascalientes & Tamaulipas floods The USA: Texas & Midwest floods Myanmar: Monsoon floods India: Monsoon floods China: Guizhou floods Serbia: Uzice hailstorm & flash flood Italy: Messina flash flood Malta: Mriehel flood…

Jesus, the Negev desert?

Ivory Coast: “At least 18 people have died in flooding in the department of Abidjan. The Country’s National Civil Protection Office (ONPC) said that heavy rainfall that began during the evening of 18 June (about 6 in. falling in 24 hours) resulted in flooding that caused at least 18 deaths and severe material damage.” Many more days of rain are forecast. – Floodlist

Myanmar (Burma): Record breaking heavy rain has triggered flooding and landslides in parts of Mon State in the south of Myanmar. The towns of Mawlamyine and Mottama are the worst hit areas. Local media report that at least 1,000 people have been displaced by the flooding. Mudon, a town in Mon State about 22 km south of Mawlamyine, recorded 297 mm of rain in 24 hours between 16 and 17 June. – Edited from Floodlist.

Relief agencies are trying to shore up structures in camps housing Rohingya refugees across the border in Bangladesh, ahead of the main monsoon rains due next week. Many have been moved to higher ground. A number of people have already died in flooding and landslides.

Turkey: Several provinces in Turkey were hit by heavy rain and flash flooding over the weekend, 16 to 17 June. A child is still missing after being swept away by flooding in Selendi district in the province of Manisa on 16 June. Parts of Istanbul were also flooded, causing traffic chaos. – Edited from Floodlist.

Serbia: 13 June, massive hailstorm over Uzice. Streets turn to rivers of ice, etc.

Climate Reanalyzer points to quite high temperature anomalies persisting in northern latitudes: Canada/Alaska and Siberia – also over Antarctica.

Your Granny notes a corresponding uptick in seismic activity around the globe, earthquake locations frequently corresponding with extreme heat and floods. Seismologists and meteorologists tell me there’s no correlation, but then do they talk to each other?

x

To irony and beyond

1. Thanks to the abnormally hot weather in Europe, there’s a shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2).

I’d better repeat that:

Thanks to the abnormally hot weather in Europe, there’s a shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2).

You can still learn stuff even at my age. I’ve been learning from a BBC website article that the fizzy bubbles the manufacturers put in your refreshing cold drink along with a pound or two of sugar and a raspberry are a by-product of the fertilizer industry.

Shall I repeat that unlikely assertion too? No, okay. Anyway, it appears to be true.

And the fertilizer industry shuts down for maintenance in the summer, so the fizzy drinks industry is complaining that rising demand for fizzy drinks has led to a critical shortage of the very same gas that is causing the abnormally hot weather in Europe.

It’s beyond irony.

Food miles

2. On our walk yesterday, a van is turning around in front of us. The driver leans out and asks for directions to a house about twenty yards away. The side of his van bears the legend: “Frozen food, freshly delivered to your door”.

Curious, I ask the driver where he has come from. With a rueful grin, he gives the name of a town 75 miles north of here.

Just around the corner, 12 minutes’ walk away is a large Morrison’s supermarket. It has three whole aisles of frozen food cabinets. Just in town are an Iceland – frozen-food specialists – a Lidl, a Tesco and a Marks & Spencer food hall, along with half a dozen convenience stores, all with freezers.

I’d describe it as insanity. Then I think about the £7.50 CD I just bought via the Amazon. I could have bought an MP3 download; it could have come by regular post and been shoved through the letter-flap; but no, it was instead couriered, signed-for, from the United States.

Mea maxima culpa.

On the wrong lines

3. Network Rail’s policy of cutting down 2 million trees to reduce the perennial problem of ‘leaves on the line’ has ignited controversy.

Also a certain amount of smugness, as, deprived of tree-shade, in the current 30 deg. hot spell the lines are buckling in the sunshine, forcing trains to slow to a crawl.

The same crawl with which they accommodate themselves to slippery wet leaves every year,  but without the climate-damaging dendrocide.

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

The crime of the century

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

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

North Korea?

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

The Land of the Free.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To impose this illegal policy, secret courts are in session 24 hours a day, rubber-stamping guilty verdicts by the thousand. Secret camps have been set up, where thousands of children automatically seized from their parents are interned at the rate of 50 a day, some as young as one, without access or recourse to their parents, who have been branded as criminals without rights and are locked up, never to see their children again.

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

It’s a hastily arranged children’s gulag. Some of the younger children are being sent on to “sponsors” – anyone who wants a child, for whatever reason. There is little scrutiny or vetting. No-one even knows where many of those children are; not even the prize bitch, Neilsen, secretary for Homeland Security, who is in charge of this filthy crime against humanity. White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, who since working for Trump has become, like all the others, a man utterly bereft of morals, honor or courage, thinks maybe “foster homes, or whatever.”

OR WHATEVER.

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

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

Where is Save the Children?

Where is the UN?

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

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

It is how fascism grinds everyone down, the boot stamping on a human face. We see migrants drowning in the Mediterranean every day: over 47 thousand have died making the crosssing from North Africa and Turkey. What’s a few hundred more foreign children, brown vermin, broiling in the desert, buried in unmarked graves? Refugees from war, famine, rape, torture, unbearable poverty – climate change.

How can we absorb them all?

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

At least the SS carefully documented their victims.

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

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

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

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

They wouldn’t like it.

 

And are we any better?

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

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

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

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

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

x

History on repeat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hitting the buffers

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

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

Warning: this may kill you.

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

Those damned immigrants again, they’re just animals.

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

We’re a’ doomed. Doomed, I tell ye!

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

 

No Fly Zone #2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And nothing done, except maybe this.

Help.

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

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

 

Flyzone

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

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

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

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

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

 

PS Yellowstonezone…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“Piss in our time!”

Postscriptum: Donny and Kimmy go to Love island

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

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

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

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

Just sayin’.

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

“That’s good, then.”

x“With great change comes great opposition.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pruitt’s grandiloquent response to all this unfounded criticism?

“With great change comes great opposition.”

You bet, Swamp-man.

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

 

Hangin’ up now….

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

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

Nothin’ to see, move on….

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

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

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

Way to go.

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Long Essay

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

Farage: the smoking gun?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It seems they were also hoping to build one here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s all looking pretty murky.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going down?

Now I think another beer is in order.

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

Miaow.

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

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

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

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Wailing and gnashing

“Greetings from Amazon.co.uk.

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

“Reason for refund: Damaged during transit.”

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

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

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

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GW: venturing out nervously in gumboots and respirator

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arctic: UK Business Insider reports (08 June):

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

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

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

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

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

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Terminal news

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

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

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

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

We have four months remaining of human history.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

Welcome to my 700th post!

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

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

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

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

-UB

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

The Saga saga continues

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

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

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

Echo starters in crossing moon

Children noises that come too soon

Special Moomin that seem to hear

Decimating a mask of fear

Hollow talking in hollow girl

Voicing out from a mound of pain

Never said it was goo, never said it was smeary

Shadow rises and you are here

And everything… goes back to the beginning.

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

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

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

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

Mucky girl.

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

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Journey to Whereverland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the second time since July 2016.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get rid of him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Last Knockings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

No Countryside for Young Men

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

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

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

The buttercups are incredible this year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll see.

 

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

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

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

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Grenfell

A bonfire of the sanities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just magic it away.

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

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

Sometimes people are too clever for their own good.

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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A Letter to Rex Tillerson

Former US Secretary of State, retd.

Dear Mr Secretary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The deal, I believe, was much as follows:

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

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

But why pick on poor little oil-rich Qatar?

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

The Kushners were desperate for cash.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can’t hear you, Mr Secretary.

 

Fore!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

x want to extort money from Qatar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The scene in Guatemala yesterday (Photo: Red Cross)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insectageddon

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

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

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

No cow-parsley flowers.

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

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

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

A propos of which:

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

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

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

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

Awesome footage:

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

x

Dissertation

On the Tedium of Buying Stuff From Builders’ Merchants.

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

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

There’s nothing inbetween.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Huh, little do you know!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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