Corona v. Us… No, you can’t come in here… The madness of King Donald… A cluster of tea leaves… Sordid reality… GW: and the beast goes on.

 

Priti Patel

“Me, a bully? Say that again and I’ll rip your fuckin’ face off. Now give me all your pocket-money….”

Corona v. Us

Update: 21 Feb., total cases to date, 76,805; deaths 2,249 – including 29-year-old Wuhan doctor, Peng Yinhua, who postponed his wedding to remain at his post.  Of those cases, 18,800 are reported to have already recovered. (Worldometers.info)

Another update: 22 Feb., cases 77,924; deaths 2,362; recovereds, 21,251. Massive spike overnight in S Korean city of Daegu, linked to churchgoing ‘superspreader’ and local mental hospital: +229, total 433.

Sunday afternoon: 23 Feb., cases 78,966; deaths 2,468; recovereds 28,440. Italy – northern towns in lockdown, 130 cases, 2 dead and no clue as to where it came from as the assumed ‘Index patient’ has tested negative.  S Korea: ‘Over 600’ cases. Iran: admitting to 43.

Monday morning: 24 Feb., cases 79,707; deaths 2,626; recovereds, 25,253. These figures are provisional, as the death toll in the Iran outbreak, currently at 50, is greater than the number of cases the Ayatollahs are admitting to. Shia pilgrims to the city of Qom are at risk. Stockmarkets tumbled this morning on news from Italy.

The BogPo watched with faint horror as about 35 thousand Italian and Scottish rugby fans mixed it up together in Rome on Saturday. Scotland won 10-nil. God knows what they’ve brought home. 10 northern Italian towns are closed as 60 new cases were confirmed yesterday.

Hopes for a slowdown in the spread of the novel coronavirus were dashed Friday as the number of new cases rose in China, and outbreaks worsened in Japan and South Korea.” (CNN) A spike of 36 new cases found in a Beijing hospital looks like an indication that the genie is really out of the bottle now.

100 new cases and a second death (of a mental patient) were confirmed overnight in South Korea, where the number of confirmed cases linked to one “superspreader” within a fringe church congregation that believes in the Rapture has reached 86, with another 400 showing “symptoms”.

500 prisoners in jails across China are said to be infected, one particularly grim institution being Wuhan Women’s Prison, where 230 cases have led to the dismissal of the governor. (Guardian)

The WHO is expressing concern over a woman from Wuhan who travelled with no symptoms and a negative test to another city, where five of her relatives promptly went down with the virus. The woman herself then tested positive but still has no symptoms whatsoever.

Also of great concern: “… a 38-year-old Italian man in Lombardy … in intensive care, may have contracted the disease after meeting a colleague who had recently returned from China, even though the colleague had tested negative for the virus.

This virus seems to have evolved intelligence.

After another delay, UK passengers on board “death cruise” liner Diamond Empress are being evacuated today, to a tired-looking hospital in Cheshire. Unlike the American evacuation last week, about a dozen with the virus will not be flying. Passengers have been offered vouchers by the Empress line toward a future cruise.

Congressmen are criticizing the US government for lack of co-ordination in the response to the threat, saying there is no-one in the White House they can talk to. In addition to defunding the main health agencies, Trump has failed for over two years to nominate a health advisor to the National Security Council; a post he has suggested scrapping altogether.

 

No, you can’t come in here

“The comparison between Assange and Dreyfus drew criticism, including from the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity working against antisemitism and racism in British society, which tweeted: ‘Disgraceful false equivalence to one of the key learning moments of modern Jewish history.'” (Guardian, 20 Feb.)

I am moved to tell this “charity”, propagandists presumably funded by Tel Aviv and with a clear desire to whip up more self-mortifying antisemitism in Britain, in the nicest possible way, to go fuck itself. I mean, it’s like these people just love poking the anthill with a stick over any little thing, when there are big things going on that they do need to worry about.

Isn’t there enough division and hateful, even violent prejudice out there, not just against Jews but against Muslims, blacks, browns, yellows, Reds, Greens – liberal elites, women, asylum seekers and refugees, experts, poofters and pedos, people on benefits, the disabled, you and me, immigrants, gypsies, tourists and anyone else foreign who is found not speaking the Queen’s English?

What this bunch is virtue-signalling is that it it is verboten to cite the notorious case of Alfred Dreyfus, a victim of 19th century upper-class French prejudice against Jews in the military, to illustrate the kind of prejudice allegedly being shown by the British establishment against Julian Assange. Anti-Jewish prejudice being so vastly more morally worse than anti-anyone else’s prejudice that no-one else can possibly ever get a look-in with prejudice. Because why? Because the Jewish community owns the copyright on prejudice? Some would seemingly like us to think so.

Dear Community Security Trust: the ‘”key learning moment” we should pluck from history teaches us that while we cannot fully eliminate our innate perceptions of Otherness, ALL extreme prejudice is to be discouraged at all times. Including yours.

The comparison being made by the Labour party’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell is, in my view, unwieldy, ahistorical and somewhat hyperbolic. Assange, battling extradition, is no innocent victim. The argument that the crime he’s charged with, of publishing stolen State secrets, ought not to be a crime due to public interest, even though it is a serious offence, is perversely promoted by the same people who argue that Trump should not have been acquitted in the Senate on the bogus grounds that his private act of extortion against a foreign government, although a crime in law, was committed for the greater good of the country, i.e. to secure his own re-election.

Most of us would call that corruption.

Assange’s slender defense now rests on a probably accurate claim that Trump offered him clemency through an intermediary, Senator Dana Rohrbacher, if he would lie about Russian involvement in the 2016 election. That’s a clear contempt of court, not that “America’s Chief Law-Enforcement Officer” cares a whit about witness tampering and perjury.*

The Community Security Trust, whoever they are, could have said something like that, offered some sympathy with Mr Assange in his plight, as he faces 140 years in a Federal penitentiary, but no. Sympathy for others is not in their repertoire. No argument is permissible beyond the confines of the Tel Aviv echo chamber. They had to raise the specter of antisemitism in a context where antisemitism was the least important part of the matter.

They had to find another stick with which to beat the Labour party.

A white one.

Because, as we know, prejudice is blind as justice.

*Rohrbacher, who is well known and joked about in Congress as the most pro-Russian person in America after Trump himself, or maybe actual Russians, confirms the story. Mr Trump, predictably, says he ‘barely knows’ the Senator. Play another record, Your Majesty.

 

The madness of King Donald

Whipping his dumbfucks into another spittle-flecked frenzy of xenophobic hatred, booing and catcalling, at a Nuremberg rally in Colorado Trump rounded on the Motion Picture Academy for awarding the Best Picture Oscar this year to a foreign film.

Particularly a South Korean foreign film, with subtitles already.

“The winner is a movie from South Korea, what the hell was that all about?” Trump demanded to know, riffing insanely on a completely irrelevant, two-weeks-old subject, an arthouse film he has not and will never watch – as neither will his “base”, any of them. “We got enough problems with South Korea with trade and on top of it, they give them the best movie of the year.”

Boo! Bad Hollywoods! Lock ’em up, traitors! We likes zombie movies! (etcetera)

So much for America’s staunchest democratic ally in the SE Asia region. Their evil, practically Chinese trade policies, making stuff and selling it, obviously leads to the creation of degenerate artistic products that must be banned as socially harmful, inimical to the supremacy of the master race. Trump’s enemies in Hollywood, Deep Staters – probably The Jew Soros himself – treacherously conspiring against America and thus, by extension, King Donald.

One wonders what would have happened if the moguls had awarded Best Picture to a North Korean movie? Beaming congratulations to Mr Kim, no doubt. Wonderful guy. Love him to bits. Practically the only recipient of an award not to make a speech badmouthing Trump in the past four years was the film’s director, Bong Joon-ho. But politeness doesn’t count with this fascist pig when he’s on a power trip.

Doubling down, both on his red-meat racism and his cultural vacuum, Trump then called for the return of probably the only film he has ever fidgeted through that didn’t have either a cameo of himself or steamin’ Stormy Daniels a humpin’ and a grindin’ in it, the 1939 MGM epic ‘Gone With the Wind’.

Why can’t we have that? he whined, plaintively – disingenuously conscious of its racialist undertones, its grotesque whitewashing of an idyllic lifestyle on a slave plantation, its sideways wink to the KKK and its Southern Confederate sympathies.

The man has absolutely no bearings.

You’re fired

As if to prove he doesn’t, though no further proof is necessary, or indeed bearable, Trump has fired his Acting Director of National Intelligence, Mr Joseph Maguire, and replaced him with the imperious, far-right-wing-sympathising ambassador – described by one Congressman as ‘an internet troll’ – who has spent his time in Berlin upsetting the Germans, Richard “Dick” Grenell – a man with no intelligence community experience or friends.

Mr Grenell has already set about gutting the department and bringing in a Trump loyalty requirement for all staff.

The president is said to have blown his thatch when told that another top security official, Mr Shelby Pearson, had given a briefing to the House Intelligence Committee based on evidence that the Russians were up to the same old tricks, interfering to bring about Trump’s re-election. Claiming it was a Democrat disinformation campaign, a “hoax”, he lashed out because, no, he is not unaware that Putin has given the order to St Petersburg to meddle some more, but because he knows it; is desperate, and will do anything, even sellout his country, to retain the mystic powers of the Constitution that are keeping him out of jail.

Other top officials were also fired last week after coming under suspicion that they had done or said things disloyal to the President, despite their first loyalty being to the country.

Korruption Korner….

The New York Times reports, a glittering fundraiser for Trump was held at the “palatial Palm Beach home” of billionaire, Nelson Peltz. Ticket price: $500 thousand per couple. The gala raised ten million dollars for Trump’s superPAC, America First!

Second, came the presidential pardon, three days later, of Michael Milken, the Junk Bond King, serving ten years for racketeering and fraud.

Mr Peltz’s former business partner.

For the whole appalling but somehow no longer surprising story, and an anguished comment that it’s time to stop pretending this is all not happening, compulsorily flip to Rachel Maddow at MSNBC, 22 Feb.

“This is not a warning. The dark days are not coming. The dark days are here.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roGPWFUCz0c

 

A cluster of tea leaves

A ‘superforecaster’ is a person described in a 2015 book by someone called Philip E Tetlock as practising the art and science of prediction.

I’m sure we can find many words for such a person that don’t sound like such pretentious sociologese.

Seer; soothsayer; augur; oracle; diviner; haruspex.

“Bogler”, possibly.

Yes, dear Spammers, Likers, etc., I am considering writing to Sir Dominic Cummings – how the imaginary knighthood trips off the tongue, with which he will one day have earned it – to offer my services as a SPAD, being one of the “true wild cards, artists, people who never went to university and fought their way out of an appalling hell hole”.

For, lo, I have encountered the following “superforecast” I made in an ancient BogPo post from March, 2016 – a full however many months before the EU referendum – while slagging off the Man Who Would Be King, Russia’s own Baris Johnsky:

He only joined the ‘Outers’ because he knows it will gain him many Brownie points with the Eurosceptic tendency of the party, who will welcome him win or lose at September’s party conference with wild approbation and, who knows, a vote for the leadership; especially once Cameron and Osborne have lost the referendum and miserably climbed down in the face of defeat, their fate compounded by disappointing trade and borrowing figures: growth slowing (it already is), and the pound getting rockier, as investors discount the inevitable Brexit.

Spooky, or what? Pretty super, actually.

 

Sordid reality

Just inadvertently opened Cummings’ opaque blog, where in the Introit he quotes various obscure sources – just as I used to, to try to improve my “Marx” on the college degree course I took in Applied Photography, Film & Television, with Sociology of the Mass Media.

Here’s one:

‘Two hands, it isn’t much considering how the world is infinite. Yet, all the same, two hands, they are a lot.’ Alexander Grothendieck, one of the great mathematicians.”

I think, Dom, most of us can count to two. There’s a danger, too, in imagining the world to be infinite.

And to be honest, reading on a line or two, your naively surprised remarks at finding there is life out there lead me to suspect you of being Nigel Molesworth, age 48 3/4.

Only Molesworth was far more perceptive and brilliant in his aperçus:

“Reality,’ sa molesworth 2, ‘is so unspeakably sordid it make me shudder’.”

 

Speaking of Spammers, I have received praise from a lady who tells me that The Pumpkin – Issue 114 has helped her with her dog training.

Glad to be of service.

 

GW: and the beast goes on

Australia: Invest 99P is intensifying in the Gulf of Carpentaria and expected to slowly drift ashore on Monday in the Northern Territory as a tropical cyclone carrying up to 600 mm of rain. One model is suggesting maybe 900 mm. could fall over a 10-day period, with severe flooding to the thinly populated area southeast of Darwin. The storm when it develops will be called Esther.

North Atlantic: Severe-weather.eu writes: “While a large, deep extra-tropical cyclone over the North Atlantic is currently occluding, there is already a new, rapidly intensifying cyclone to its west. Its future track will be further south than the first one, likely smashing into the UK with a potentially severe windstorm this weekend. Models are in fairly good agreement it will produce a broad windstorm over the North Atlantic as well as major waves and severe winds towards UK and Ireland on Saturday.”

Storm Ellen will arrive just in time for the crucial 6-Nations Wales v. France rugby fixture in Cardiff. Fortunately the stadium has a roof. Once again the BBC Weather service is downplaying the forecast to windy and – later – rainy. Models are showing at least 3 more cyclonic weather systems queuing up to cross the North Atlantic next week. (Severe-weather.eu )

Here’s a link to a nice, scary video of last weekend-but-one’s Storm Ciara hitting St Malo in Brittany…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH1o9TPETYk

Your old Gran suggests, if you’ve been flooded, don’t bother cleaning up yet – a Caribbean holiday will take your mind off it. Sort it out later.

Arctic: On January 3rd, writes someone at Severe-weather.eu, “a radiosonde … over Reykjavik, Iceland,  recorded the lowest temperature in the stratosphere in the past 40 years, at -96°C (-141°F).” More recent measurements closer to the pole were recorded at the tropospheric boundary, where the weather starts, at -85C. The purport of this dull data is that an extremely cold polar vortex such as this, 20C lower than normal, helps to promote colourful Polar Stratospheric Clouds, that assist the process of destroying the ozone layer. Ozone is currently as low as it’s been only three times in the past 40 years; while the vortex has been spinning so fast that the jetstream is almost perfectly circular, leading to unusual satellite mapping like this:

u-component_of_wind_isobaric_in_GFS_Global_0p5deg_20200219_0000-1

Weird shit, huh?

Tunnel approaching….

Tiny thumbs: “An analysis of millions of tweets from around the period when Donald Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement found that bots tended to applaud the president for his actions and spread misinformation about the science. … On an average day during the period studied, 25% of all tweets about the climate crisis came from bots.” (Guardian)

California: is back in official drought after a February, normally the wettest month, in which San Francisco and Sacramento have seen zero rainfall. Snowpack in the Sierras is at 56% of normal.

Extinction Rebellion: “The world’s largest financier of fossil fuels has warned clients that the climate crisis threatens the survival of humanity and that the planet is on an unsustainable trajectory, according to a leaked document. The JP Morgan report on the economic risks of human-caused global heating said climate policy had to change or else the world faced irreversible consequences.” (Guardian)

Well, maybe not. … “The paper notes that global heating is on course to hit 3.5C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.” Ha ha, bless!

“JP Morgan has provided $75bn (£61bn) in financial services to the companies most aggressively expanding in sectors such as fracking and Arctic oil and gas exploration since the Paris agreement was signed.”

They should know, then.

The Pumpkin – issue 115: Quote of the Week… Corona v. Us… The madness of King Donald’s friend Rudy… American hero… Fancy that, a policeman!… GW: a hard rain’s already falling.

QotW….

“What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1787.

I didn’t say that myself, nor of course would the BogPo ever approve of what was said, even by such an historic eminence, but it was clearly not illegal to say it in 1787, when it was obviously said in jest, ho ho.

The above quote was supplied as a salutary reminder of the patriotic citizen’s duty by a Comment contributor to a Buzzflash article, 14 Feb., proclaiming Trump as a dictator enabled by political feebleness, the pursuit of sensationalism and cheek-turning on the part of the media and the opposition party. “Banana Republic Fascism: Don Corleone Trump Hijacks Department of Justice to Help Out His Criminal Cronies and Punish Truth Tellers” is the somewhat rococo title, if you’re interested.

Sure, and haven’t we been warning people about this very thing for the past three years? And would anyone listen?

Now all we have is Jefferson.

 

Corona v. Us

Update: Saturday 15 Feb., cases 67,186; deaths 1,527 – including the first outside SE Asia, a patient in France. Recovereds: 8,500.

Sunday 16 Feb., cases 69,269; deaths 1,669. Rate of increase within China said to be slowing. More cases aboard Diamond Princess as US moves to evacuate 280 citizens.

Monday 17 Feb., cases 71,337; deaths 1,776. Continuing to slow. Another 99 cases confirmed aboard the cruise from Hell, the Diamond Princess, at Yokahama as 300 American passengers are flown home, obliged to wear masks which doctors say are probably useless. 14 of them have already tested positive.

Coro news…

Quarantine periods in Henan province south of Beijing are being extended to 21 days because of two anomalous cases of patients testing positive long after coming into contact with cases in Wuhan

The Chinese stock market has fully recovered from its initial 8% drop due to the Covid factor, as Bank of China is printing money to keep investors happy. and stocks are soaring once more. Western commenters describe the trend as ‘ludicrous’.

Two hundred attendees at the 2020 UK Bus Summit in London, including several transport-related MPs who were hoping to curry favor with the bus-obsessed little boy in Number 10 are being contacted about a Chinese delegate who attended the event and has tested positive.

The Tokyo marathon is being restricted to professional runners only; Japan is preparing for a heavy number of potential cases. Beijing is thinking about cancelling its annual Party congress.

The WHO’s choice of “Covid-19” as the official name of the virus has annoyed the USB cable manufacturer, Covid – strapline goes something unfortunately like: “Guaranteeing more effective transmission worldwide”. Still, they do say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. (Source: The Late Show)

Africa has recorded its first case. An unnamed “foreigner” is in isolation in a Cairo hospital.

Furious British passengers trapped aboard the Diamond Princess at Yokahama are demanding the Foreign Office gets off its butt and rescues them too. So far, the government hasn’t commented.

Passengers all got a special Valentine’s Day free bottle of wine, courtesy of the cruise company, which must have pissed them off even more. A number of Australians have been flown home.

 

The madness of King Donald

…is contagious. His friend, Rudy Giuliani…

The madness of Trump’s friend Rudy

…went on Fox Business the other day, and asserted that nameless “Ukrainian oligarchs” had stolen over $5 billion in US aid, which explained why the £391 million military aid package had been held up by the president. He omitted to mention that the notorious quid pro quo had, until he said it, had nothing to do with oligarchs! Unless you consider Biden to be one.

Nor has he apparently noticed that the Senate has already found the president Not Guilty of extortion, obstruction and abuse of power, so they can all move on to the next criminal conspiracy.

This was an entirely new slant on the impeachment story and an allegation no-one had made before, or during the so-called trial in the Senate.

Meanwhile, an internal investigation into the Fox channels’ claims about Ukraine has branded them as “disinformation” and Giuliani as “too susceptible” to the Trumpsucking conspiracy bullshit peddled by Fox’s millionaire fantasy-show hosts like Hannity, Ingraham and Kilmeade.

An INTERNAL Fox inquiry!

“How do you think they became oligarchs?” he challenged the world to answer – Rudy frequently appears drunk on TV, and at this point he made weird munching and gnawing noises – and then went on to claim that he was “terrified” that the Democrats were “literally” planning to have him assassinated.

 

Meanwhile, freshly acquitted of extortion in the Senate, where the hopeless Senator Collins from Maine changed her guilty vote at the last minute on grounds that she was ”Sure the president would learn a lesson” from the experience of being impeached, instead Trump has tweeted the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, a threat that unless he persuades the city’s courts to drop their investigations into his dodgy finances, he will defund a federal program subsidizing tourism to the city.

D’you ever meet one of those stroppy, 9-years-old, back-of-the-class lawyers, who’d say, “Nyah haa, I can do anything I like and you can’t touch me!”?

 

American hero

Many US commentators are expressing a raised degree of alarm that, this week, as it became abundantly clear that Trump has lassoed the Department of Justice and is using the law as a weapon to take revenge, to intimidate and harass his opponents and exonerate his friends, while himself remaining untouched by it, a line may irrevocably have been crossed into authoritarian dictatorship.

No longer in theory, the subject of nervous humor and furrowed examination but – as the Border Patrol has been transformed into armed snatch squads being sent this very weekend into so-called sanctuary cities in defiance of local authority ordinances, to batter down doors and haul away undocumented workers – in actuality.

With the cooption of the Senate and the Republican party into his grand scheme, the emasculation of law enforcement agencies and the packing of the judiciary with Trump appointees, there is now no longer a single institutional body other than the National Assocation of Funeral Directors, who must surely have a coldline to the Grim Reaper, that can curb the actions of the criminal president and bring him to account: excepting only the American people. The electorate.

And even they, worries Thom Hartmann, may already have unconsciously crossed their own moral lines to become a part of the new paradigm that Trump has brought about; just as ordinary Germans did in the early 1930s, they became Nazis without noticing that anything had changed. In Kafka’s novelette, Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa wakes to find himself transformed into a giant insect: while asleep, he has compacted with the State and is now entirely and willingly serving its ultimately self-destructive agenda.

In the TV coverage of Trump’s recent rally in New Hampshire, in the background of what I call human wallpaper, serried ranks of hand-picked dumbfucks forming a cheering, gurning red, white and blue backdrop to the overweening vanity, the posturing, the nauseating self-congratulation, the snivelling self-pity and the many, many lies, can be seen a child of about 10. He is enthusiastically joining in on cue, all the hate-calls to lock up “Crooked Hillary” and Nancy Pelosi, parroting the nativist Trump catchphrases, booing at the word “impeachment” or hostile mentions of the “fake news” press gaggle perched uncertainly at the back of the hall; giving the thumbs-down sign at the mention of the name of the Jew, Soros.

This heavily indoctrinated little bastard needed no prompting from his dad, proudly sitting next to him in his MAGA hat. And he’s not alone: there’s been a recorded increase in bullying of minority children in schools, observers noting that much of it is accompanied by the verbal tropes of Trump’s unending round of well-drilled nativist rallies.

How long will it be, I wonder, before he’s riding around in a Humvee, stringing up Muslims and Jews and Mexicans, shooting them into pits?

Because that’s what’s going to make him an American hero for the 21st century, and he’s loving it.

 

Fancy that, a policeman!

British citizen Tony Camoccio has been released from Egyptian custody after paying £1,000 in bail and related fees. He was arrested after patting a policeman ironically on the back following a patdown and search of his belongings at Cairo airport. The policeman insisted he had been sexually assaulted and that CCTV footage would prove it.

Now who in their right mind, what horrible pervert, but only a British man would sexually assault an immigration official in full view of his colleagues? And indeed, after refusing to hand over the tape for independent review, Egyptian officials grudgingly gave in and admitted there was no assault. Why therefore Mr Camoccio has had to pay out £1,000 for the pleasure of touching up a copper seems to be just one of those things you might expect in al-Sissi’s Egypt – corrupt and mad to the core.

Don’t go there, is my advice.

 

GW: a hard rain’s already falling

British Isles: “the Met Office has issued a “danger to life” weather warning as the UK braces itself for Storm Dennis – a second weekend of gusty weather. Storm Dennis is forecast to batter large swathes of the country with 70mph winds and up to 140mm (5.5in) of rain in northern areas. The Environment Agency (EA) said the flood impact from the weather system is likely to be worse than last weekend’s Storm Ciara due to rain falling on already saturated ground.” (ITN)

Saturday 15 Feb., “…the observed pressure falls are more than double the threshold for bombogenesis. Pressure change during the past 24 hours has been unprecedented, from 987 mb to 936 mb at 06 .00 UTC today – a  remarkable 51 mb drop. Dennis will continue deepening at an extreme rate for another 6-9 hours before it reaches its mature stage, likely to push the lowest pressure slightly below 915 mbar.” (Severe-weather.eu) The cyclone is expected to weaken again before making landfall.

Note: here in Boglington-on-Sea it’s been a bit wet and windy, but by dinner time on Saturday nothing out of the ordinary. Some weather forecasters are in danger of crying Wolf too often. But there are a couple of Red warnings out Sunday a.m., further south of here. Many communities in the northeast and south midlands are flooded.

Dennis is gradually weakening as it moves eastwards but is bringing strong winds and ‘excessive’ snowfall to western Norway. Severe-weather.eu warns of maybe 2 meters of snow!

Fujiwara: the Fujiwara effect is what happens when Storm Dennis gets caught up by another intense cyclone in the middle of the North Atlantic that goes into orbit around it and then merges into it…. producing hurricane-force winds and 80-to-100-ft waves and another blizzard-battering for Iceland. DO NOT SET SAIL IN THIS! The remnants of the huge storm will push through north of Scotland on Monday and could in theory dump up to 3-ft of rain on the west coast of Norway.

The good news is, TWO MORE cyclones are intensifying behind Dennis, and will repeat the Fujiwara effect together on Wednesday, bringing heavy seas, high winds, more rain and some snow to the British Isles. These intense lows coming in multiples are unprecedented events in the annals of North Atlantic storms, according to weather-watcher site, Weather Decoded, and are the result of ferocious stratospheric winds ripping the jetstream to pieces. Wow.

Except that this report is looking like bullshit as in the wake of double-Dennis, high pressure is building across the Atlantic, 17 Feb.

Southeastern Europe is in for a new heatwave early this week, according to Severe-weather.eu, with temperatures 16 to 20°C above the average.

Mozambique: “heavy rain has caused further damage and flooding in central parts of the country just weeks after at least 28 people died and 58,000 were affected by floods in January. 2 people died in Manica province, around 500 families in need of food assistance and temporary shelter according to local media. Chimoio, the capital of Manica Province, recorded 175mm of rain in 24 hours to 12 February.” (from Floodlist)

Australia: “heavy rain continues to fall in Southeast Australia, with flooding affecting parts of southern Queensland over the last few days. This follows severe flooding in parts of New South Wales after days of heavy rain from 07 February. Marcoola recorded 231.8 mm of rain in 24 hours to 11 Feb. Queensland Police reported that the body of a person was found in Conondale. A woman is missing. Meanwhile, northern Queensland is experiencing severe to extreme heatwave conditions that are expected to stretch into the weekend”, ahead of Cyclone Uesi. (Floodlist)

15 Feb., 9 News reported, 25 million trees were flattened by Cyclone Uesi when it hit World Heritage site, Lord Howe island with winds gusting to 155 km/h. The Guardian records that 800 residents and tourists appear to have had a lucky escape. Both Sydney and Melbourne were threatened over the weekend with more heavy storms and potential flooding.

The next existential nightmare to hit SE Australia’s fire- and flood-ravaged coast is expected to be a plague of mosquitos hatched by the exceptionally warm, wet weather.

Peru: “further heavy rain has affected parts of Huanuco department. The department saw a series of flood events during the first half of January this year.” Dozens of people have been displaced and red warnings are out in several areas where rivers have overflowed. (from Floodlist)

 

Tunnel approaching….

Over a quarter of all US domestic “cheap” home-lease car loans are in default. $1.2 trillion dollars is outstanding on credit cards and a further $1tn owed in potentially non-recoverable student debt. These are all sub-prime areas bearing the highest lending rates, where investors bored with poor returns from conventional instruments are getting back into the debt-swaps and derivatives game, that brought the entire banking system down in 2007/8. No lessons were learned.

The mortgages market is next, as excess consumer borrowing is secured against homes; the stockmarket is a bubble unrelated to the real economy, fuelled by the Fed printing money and corporate stock buybacks using tax cuts – money that isn’t trickling down into higher wages or jobs; while US government and corporate debt is the highest in history. (Summary of Trump’s booming economy on Thom Hartmann, by Prof Richard Wolff.)

Cabinet reshuffle: Baris Johnson’s new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak is a millionaire former Goldman Sachs exec. and bankbusting derivatives salesman: a high-stakes gambler who owns a hedge-fund. His new Attorney General, Suella Braverman is reportedly an active member of an extreme Buddhist cult in North London whose 93-year-old guru has been accused of sex crimes against young male acolytes.

The Observer reports that press agencies are complaining that Johnson has been allowing access to key events, such as the signing of the EU withdrawal treaty, to the Number 10 “official” photographer only. This follows on from the notorious walkout by the Number 10 press corps after Cummings tried to bar several reporters he has taken exception to.

Welcome to New Britain.

 

In the long run we’re all dead… Double Identity… Don’t feel you have to leave… Look on the bright side… Pot, kettle #106… GW: just sinking in the rain… The crimes of one’s youth.

QotW

“Brexit belongs to this era in one quintessential way. It is an act of the imagination, inspired by an imaginary past, carried along by misdirected grievances, borne aloft by an imaginary future.”– Columnist Roger Cohen, New York Times.

 

In the long run we’re all dead

The seldom knowingly understated Daily Express is reporting on a random computer simulation, showing that the Chinese Fish ‘Flu coronavirus could end up killing “65 million” people around the world.

The BogPo has done a computer simulation of its own.

Given that the infections-to-deaths ratio has been running consistently to date at 47:1, a little over 2%, it would require 3.05 billion people to catch the virus, to produce a death toll that high. At the current rate of spread of the infection, about 2,500 new cases a day, it would take 344 years to kill 65 million people.

By which time, most of them would tend to be dead anyway.

Update: 5 Feb., 24,558 cases, but overnight deaths are at 493, roughly a halving of the nightly rate for the past two weeks. (49:1)

Update update: 6 Feb., 28,018 cases, 563 dead. (49.7:1 – again an improvement in morbidity but a larger number of overnight deaths is reflected in a bigger leap in the number of cases reported.)

Sort of further update: 6 Feb., a third case has been confirmed in the UK, unconnected with the first two. Patient from Brighton is in an isolation unit. Dr Li, the 34-year-old ophthalmologist who first tried to alert the authorities in Wuhan to a new disease and was silenced, has died of it.

Friday morning: 31,400 cases; 630 deaths. Ratio 49.8:1, again a very marginal improvement possibly due to earlier detection and treatment. 61 cases have now been confirmed aboard the horror cruise liner stranded at Yokohama with 2,660 passengers and 800 crew trapped aboard.

Hyundai has suspended car production at its giant Ulsan manufacturing plant in S Korea, owing to Chinese parts drying up. N Korea has reported its first case, a woman who’d been visiting Wuhan. Hospital workers in Hong Kong remain on strike, demanding closure of the border with the mainland. Supermarkets are reporting empty shelves after a wave of panic buying.

 

Double Identity

Speaking of panic, I watched the last-of-the current-series episode of “Silent Witness” last night – for any foreigners, it’s a long-running BBC Drama CSI-stroke-pathology-lab procedural in which a large and internationally respected forensics institute is entirely staffed by just four mentally tortured individuals, who solve crimes the cops can’t or won’t by cutting up corpses in a gruesomely explicit way, reconstructing broken hard drives and watching hours of CCTV: the unlikely premise being that they work so closely with the police, they’re even invited to sit in on interrogations and interview witnesses.

Spoiler: In this episode, Dalek-with-hands, computers-stroke-tiny-fragments-whizz, Clarissa Mullery is leaving to look after her old mum – popular disability icon Liz Carr has got a part in a Hollywood movie – while tall, handsome, anal CEO and troubled single-father, Thomas Chamberlain (Richard Lintern) gets written off – and out of Series #397 – by an escaped Porton Down experimental military nerve agent that goes straight through ordinary masks; nobly sacrificing himself to save chemically stricken, kickboxing crimescene cluehound, brooding Ulsterman, Jack Hodgson (David Caves).

The evening’s weirdness was compounded by watching Thomas writhing in his death-agony on the lab floor, doors barred to keep the foul stuff safely inside while he mentally computes the formula that will save Psycho Jack.

Following his demise, as the credits rolled I switched over to continue binge-watching Series 3, Episode 9 of a timeshifted mid-afternoon, do and say nothing to upset the old biddies, quirky but amiably watchable private-eye, he-she buddy series called (it’s set in Stratford-on-Avon) Shakespeare and Hathaway, in which two bungling amateurs and their faggy, wannabe-actor assistant prove they’re cleverer than the local clueless but hostile smartypants Detective Inspector.

Five minutes had barely passed in a late-evening whisky haze before, damn-me, if Thomas-slash-Lintern wasn’t miraculously resurrected, popping up on-screen as the tall, handsome etc. smooth-talking, property-developing villain who bumps off a bonkers ghostbuster (played by another disability icon, Francesca Martinez) to stop her contacts in the spirit world proving he doesn’t own the land under the local pub.

The idea of the suave, 6’1″ Lintern climbing in through a window round the back or visiting a small campervan to knock off a woman with cerebral palsy, a feat we aren’t shown, was almost more BBC Drama than I could take. For the first time ever I thought it might be worth contacting the Issues Helpline number they always tack onto the end of the show, in case you’re feeling worried.

 

Don’t feel you have to leave

Am I alone in finding some elements of this viral story rather odd?

Last week there was a big to-do in the news for a few days, about an evacuation flight laid on for British and Spanish citizens, mainly, fleeing the outbreak in Wuhan. As the Wuhanese were streaming out of the city before they were finally banged-up, spreading the stuff everywhere, we heard about people not being able to bring their Chinese wives and kids out, the plane not being allowed to take off, the scramble to find a quarantine space and the rest. Travel bans were being put in place everywhere.

In the end the Brits boarded, flew, were dropped off as the plane went on to Spain and are now in isolation in a Cheshire hospital. To date none has tested positive. Other nations have had similar stories to tell, of evacuation flights. A German flight unwittingly brought back a number of positive cases. The plague is rife aboard a stricken cruise liner at Yokohama. There cannot be any non-Chinese resident left in Hubei province who doesn’t know the virus poses a risk.

Now, a week later, the Foreign Office has perked up and brightly advised British nationals in China that: “You should think about leaving if you can”…. And epidemiologists are being quoted as saying the advice “will come as a relief” to those who remain. What, they think being advised to leave is the same as getting a flight out? Because it’s a long way to bloody walk. And that people need permission from HMG?

They don’t think these people will have made up their own minds yet, or what? That they’re not capable of deciding what to do until the Foreign Office tells them it’s okay to act in their own best interests – if they can? For fuck’s sake! How disconnected from real life do scientists have to be?

The British Foreign Office it seems to me, is in an advanced state of not having the faintest idea what to do either, and is fully symptomatic of this shambles of a government halfwitted voters have just elected, that is being run not by the elected politicians but by scheming teenaged advisors and ambitious ideopaths who couldn’t collectively organize a shit in a 2-gallon bucket.

But as they say, talk’s cheap.

(Postscriptum: 5 Feb., the FO has announced overnight one further, final, take-it-or-leave it charter flight out on Sunday, in conjunction with the French, although we gather the Chinese authorities may not yet have agreed to it. Spreading the virus around the world is not something Premier Xi wants to see happening. At home, a row has erupted over a meeting the Chinese ambassador had with the Prime Minister’s father, a man of no position but whom the Ambassador mistook for an official emissary. China’s participation in the disastrously disorganized COP-26 conference in Glasgow in the Autumn is now uncertain.)

And the latest medical advice, with still just the two British cases confirmed after a week is, if you’ve been to China and you don’t feel well, stay home.

The image of mummefied corpses being found everywhere in a year’s time, clutching their return tickets, bolt upright in their armchairs with the telly still hissing, by social workers and bailiffs (repo-men) keen to recover the rent arrears springs to mind, as for sure, GPs won’t be making house calls. Nor do most people have the specialized life-support apparatus at home, which serious cases require.

Duh!

Plagiarism corner

Followers, Likers, Spammers and Those No Longer Reading this, muh bogl, may well include journalists at the Express.

I deduce this because you lovelies will all kno’ that I drew everyone’s attention many days ago to the comparative data from the official US ‘Centers for Disease Control’ in Atlanta, Georgia, showing that while the US had identified only eight cases of coronavirus by the middle of last week, over 19 MILLION Americans had already been struck down by seasonal Type A avian H1N1 ‘flu, 180 thousand had been hospitalized, and 10 thousand had already died.

We might perhaps recall that as of 2017/18, 27.3 million Americans had no health insurance at all, relying entirely for survival on the hit-and-miss state-funded Medicaid service – and many more still have no insurance for the pre-existing conditions that will have weakened them against things like ‘flu and other viruses.

The Hill has asked the question, why are Americans so terrified of foreign viruses like the coronavirus and ebola, that offer them almost no threat, but don’t appear to care that homegrown viruses are making millions sick and killing around 30 thousand Americans a year? Curiously, the site is still quoting the CDC’s figures from early last week. Their answer is probably that word ‘foreign’, but let’s not forget the huge numbers of gullible fucknuts who swear by the anti-vaxxer message.

Maybe something smelling of Trump’s asshole, Goop by Trump, will keep them safe?

The story also appeared in the Express today, 4 Feb., using the same figures as we reported last week – although they should logically have changed by now, the mystery as we have also previously mentioned being, the CDC website is no longer even reporting it and therefore it’s difficult to check.

Your Uncle Bogler has pondered this enigma, and has come up with one of his finer conspiracy theories.

Coronavirus fears have hit the Asian stockmarkets hard over the past few days. God forbid even worse news on the health front from the USA should be allowed to cause a similar shutdown of industry there, causing Trump-unhelpful jitters in the rise and rise of the ever-bloating Dow Jones Index; his only positive economic indicator. Silence, as they say, is golden.

But the problem is possibly more prosaic. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2017:

“…the agency is the target of deep spending cuts under Trump’s budget proposal. His budget draft would have cut the CDC’s spending by $1.2 billion, which health experts warned could hamper the agency’s disease-fighting efforts and immunization programs. (Former Director, Dr Tom) Frieden called them ‘unsafe at any level of enactment.'”

Yep, the CDC’s been hacked back to pay for Trump’s tax cuts for the billionaires.

Welcome to your fascist state, America,

 

“Can the clusterfuck that COP-26 is turning into make us look any less useless?”

Look on the bright side

I seldom see anyone commenting on a peculiar fact of economics. The worse the news gets, the higher the markets seem to bounce.

Both oil prices and global markets had been sagging over the past few days owing to what the WHO is on the verge of declaring is a global pandemic, that has already had a depressing effect on industrial output in China.

But market jitters never seem to last long, even though the news may be bad. On the basis of one unconfirmed rumor that a Chinese lab has found a ‘cure’ for the coronavirus, which even if true would take months of trials before it could be released, this morning the men who bet on flies have resumed cheerfully buying stocks and oil futures as if the whole thing was just a bad dream.

Grab it while you can, I say.

Meanwhile, the pound is creeping up against the Euro and the dollar, even while HMG dithers over HS2, productivity remains through the floor and Vanishing Johnson reveals the culture of bungling incompetence at Number 10 as he faffs about trying to find anyone willing to organize the make-or-break COP-26 conference on climate change Britain is supposedly playing host to next Autumn, with no help from him.

That’s if Border Force’s goons will allow any of the darker-tinted delegates into the country.

Nor can anyone finally decide where to hold it, as the PM refuses to allow the Scottish parliament to have an input in the globally important event supposedly being held in Glasgow, in case it makes them look too independent; so Ms Sturgeon has gone and booked up all the best venues around the city for as-yet unspecified purposes. (Retaliation denied.)

Still, the UK already looks laughably dysfunctional after three years of Brex… sorry, of leaving the EU-type clusterfuckery, that’s still going on, with positions on a trade agreement hardening on both sides. Can the clusterfuck that COP-26 is also turning into make us look any less useless and irrelevant on the world stage than we already do?

And capitalists haven’t changed their spots. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways has told its workforce they should voluntarily take three months off to allow for the dip in air travel owing to coronavirus – without pay.

So, nothing to see there. Buy!

 

Pot, kettle #106

Mike Lynch was thought of as a successful British entrepreneur, who sold his Cambridge-based tech company to the late Hewlett Packard for $8 billion, only for HP to have to writedown almost $9 billion a year later, claiming they’d been conned.

“In the civil fraud case in London,” reports the Guardian,  “HP’s successor companies allege Lynch fraudulently inflated the value of Autonomy before its acquisition by HP. The businessman, once hailed as Britain’s answer to Bill Gates, has been accused of lying repeatedly and inventing evidence in the witness box.” And has surrendered himself to the court, facing extradition proceedings that could land him with a 25-year sentence in a Federal house of correction alongside Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort.

The Pumpkin has no idea if accounting skulduggery took place or not. It looks like the people who bought out Hewlett Packard are just a bit pissed and need to make some money back quickly.

But he wonders when the Department of Justice might take it into its woolly old head to ask some pertinent questions about credible accusations that Trump deliberately inflated his asset values to fraudulently obtain $2 billion in loans from Deutsche Bank, secured against worthless junk bonds and nebulous guarantees from Russian signatories?

And how those loans were approved despite America’s answer to Dick Dastardly being red-flagged as a money-launderer and serial defaulter? A repeated liar (16.4 thousand and counting) and an inventor of evidence in his own impeachment trial?

At least we’re not hearing that Lynch has threatened and intimidated witnesses and bribed jurors.

The problem being that the main witness who could testify for or against Trump, the Deutsche Bank wealth management division (Enrich) executive Thomas Bowers who approved his loans was found tragically suicided at his agreeable Malibu home last November.

Oh dear, what a trial.

And one in which Mr Trump would certainly have been totally, completely and fully exonerated. Perfect, in fact.

 

GW: we’re sinking in the rain

Turkey: At least 23 rescue workers have been killed on a mountain road in eastern Turkey, 5 Feb., after they were hit by an avalanche while searching for two people missing in an earlier snowslide, that had already killed 5 people. 30 rescue workers were pulled out alive, but emergency teams were still searching for other colleagues who might be buried under the snow. (Guardian)

Malawi: “1 person has died and hundreds have been displaced after flooding in the north that began on 1 Feb. after heavy rain caused several rivers to break their banks. Over 450 households in the district have been displaced due to flooding of the North Rukuru river. Food stores have been damaged or destroyed. Crops and livestock have also suffered.” (Floodlist) News emerges two weeks late from the northwest of Burundi, too, of floods that killed at least 3 people and displaced over 1,000.

New Zealand: a Red-level emergency is in operation on South Island after a meter of rain (39 in.) fell in Southland in just 60 hours. 100 hikers and about 70 people in vehicles were stranded by flooding and road closures in the tourist area of Fiordland. Hundreds more were evacuated to shelters. Helicopters flew over the bush trails to find and rescue those stuck. Fears are growing that floodwater may enter a chemical store in Mataura and release a cloud of toxic ammonia.” (Guardian)

Indonesia: At least 3 people have died in recent flooding in Papua New Guinea, Floodlist reports. “Homes and two bridges were destroyed in the floods. At least two more people are thought to be missing.”

USA: “When the system arrives over the southeast US and East Coast, rapid surface cyclogenesis takes place and significantly worsening conditions develop. A violent winter storm spreads across the northeast, introducing very heavy rain and severe winds across the region, but also very dangerous conditions in the cyclone’s wake where violent blizzards develop. Extremely high temperatures are expected before the front pushes through.” (Severe-weather.eu).

Canada: A state of emergency remains in place in some Vancouver Island communities after flooding forced residents from their homes and shut down roads over the weekend. Heavy rain hit the area Friday and into the early morning of Saturday, prompting the district to issue evacuation orders as water levels rose in rivers and streams in the region. (CBC) Let’s hope Meghan and Harry can swim.

Australia: flood warnings are out in fire-ravaged New South Wales as heavy rain and thunderstorms begin to batter the region. Western Australia, a tropical low off the north coast is expected to develop into a tropical cyclone on Thursday morning, 6 Feb. It’s expected to deepen and could become a Cat 3 cyclone by Saturday as it moves toward land, although there’s still uncertainty as to whether it would make landfall. (Guardian) Severe-weather.eu reports on a second cyclone, Invest 92P, forming off Vanuatu.

Brazil: Wunderground reported, 29 Jan., on an “unprecedented multi-day stretch of torrential rain and destructive flooding at a time of year when frequent rainfall is already the norm. Flooding from a rare south Atlantic cyclone, Kurumi took at least 58 lives and displaced some 30,000 people. States of emergency were declared for more than 100 communities in the state of Minas Gerais.” Total rainfall through January of 809.7 mm (31.88”) was more than 250% of the January average, according to Brazil’s national meteorological institute.

France: Days of heavy rain have caused flooding as rivers rose to near-record levels in parts of eastern France. Three weeks’ worth of winter rain fell in one 24 hour period. Emergency services carried out flood rescues in Luxembourg, where several roads had to be closed due to flooding. (from Floodlist)

Croatia: and it’s ‘batten down the hatches’ as winds gusting to more than 200 km/hr (125 mph – hurricane force 3) are forecast over the Balkans tonight, 5 Feb. (Severe-weather.eu) Update: Earth Changes Media reports, Cyclone Teodor left 1 person dead and 22 injured, along with much property damage.

British Isles: Another of those giant Atlantic cyclones we’ve been reporting, Storm Ciara is expected to bring ‘very unsettled’ weather on Saturday night. 8 Feb., and into Sunday. “People can expect delays to road, rail and air travel, and those living by the coast could be affected by large waves and sea spray. The Met Office also warned of possible power cuts and building damage caused by the high winds, which are expected to last for more than 24 hours.” (BBC)

Antarctica: has logged its hottest temperature on record, 18.3C, beating the previous record by 0.8C. The reading, taken at Esperanza on the northern tip of the continent’s peninsula, beats Antarctica’s previous record of 17.5C, set in March 2015. (Guardian)

Tunnel approaching…

Japan: 2,660 passengers aboard a Japanese cruise liner are being quarantined, ordered to remain in their fetid cabins at Yokohama after 10 tested positive for coronavirus and were transferred to hospitals onshore. They include two Australians and an American. It brings the number of confirmed cases in Japan to 35. (Japan Times)

Update: 6 Feb., another 10 cases have been confirmed aboard the Diamond Princess.

The Taal volcano in the Philippines‘ Luzon island is still rumbling away, with over 130 earthquakes a day felt locally, up to M4. Experts expect the island volcano to erupt again soon, which means it probably won’t. 150 thousand people were evacuated when it blew its top last month.

Daily Excess: sorry to draw on this bizarre website for something interesting to write about, again, but I couldn’t resist retweeting this standfirst from a 4 Feb. story:

“World War 3 panic: US launch devastating terror airstrike as it bids to make ‘US safer’”

Yes, folks, a routine drone strike on an al-Shabaab guerilla base in rural Somalia at the weekend, causing one fatality, is going to start World War Three…. Don’t think so, lads. Nice try.

I’m trying to ignore another story, too, that warns us NASA is worried about a killer asteroid hitting Earth. Not a specific asteroid, it turns out. Just any old asteroid, really. Lots to choose from. Not much we can do about it.

Yet a third sensational headline about USGS finding a ‘smoking gun’ at the Yellowstone volcano turns out to be a story about how scientists first discovered that the entire park was really the caldera of a giant supervolcano – that was about 50 years ago by my reckoning. Hot news!

What is the matter with these people? How panic-stricken do they think we are?

Don’t answer that.

Decarb: “More than 90% of the £2bn in energy deals struck at the inaugural UK-Africa summit last month were for fossil fuels”, The Guardian has found, despite the UK government’s commitment to “support African countries in their transition to cleaner energy”. A publicly-funded investment program, The Private Infrastructure Development Group has also been found by NGO, Global Witness to have invested three-quarters of a billion pounds in fossil fuel projects, thus helping to dump a large percentage of the UK’s much-vaunted cut in CO2 emissions on the Third World.

 

Short Essay….

The crimes of one’s youth

A Commenter called Albs posted a few choice paragraphs this morning under another splendid cartoon by The Guardian‘s Steve Bell, showing Trump as a grossly naked and wobbling Venus on the half-shell, Botticelli’s famous painting, shit pouring out of his signature Bell motif, his head wearing a gold toilet seat for hair, as a craven-looking Senator McConnell rushes to clothe him in the American flag

Tragically for Albs, in his or her last line the word obviously meant to be ‘threw’ emerges as ‘through’, and another Commenter called Albs – oh, I see it is in fact the same split-personality – later writes ‘threw, not through, you numbnuts’, a Comment which captures the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation as other Commenters rush to reassure her/him that anyone can make a mistake and he/she is not to dwell on it.

Trump’s miraculous deliverance and his coronation, not to say his apotheosis at the hands of a broken and wretched Congress, the abysmally corrupt and crime-complicit GOP, are forgotten.

Your Uncle Bogler, however, recalls how, 58 years ago, back in 1962, while sitting his Common Entrance History paper, he made a literary gaffe of such egregious and monumental stupidity that it became in his mind a crime he has never forgotten, and still shudders at to this day.

Despite having worked for many years at the coalface of textual conception and analysis: in news, in advertising, in publishing – he edited more than 150 ‘serious’ books – despite the many millions of words committed to paper since in an editorial career of little and poorly rewarded distinction, your old Uncle has never, ever forgotten the shame of realizing, too late, that he had written of the ’emasculation’, instead of the ’emancipation’, of women.

A mistake which he feels is at the core of his ‘impostor syndrome’, that has dogged him all his working life.

For, this was clearly not an intentionally precocious alignment with the core tenet of feminism. He was, for Christ’s sake, only 12 years old. His mother was probably the only woman he had ever met, apart from the Headmaster’s wife, Mrs Cornes. And, he supposes, Matron. After almost six decades haunted by the shame, and with many lesser errors since logged in the celestial record, nevertheless as a working writer he has yet to expiate a literary crime of such an awful dimension, and doubts he ever shall.

So, sorry, Albs, but I fear you will have to go to your grave with the shameful memory of how your spellchecker, possibly unnoticed, once gave you ‘through’ instead of ‘threw’, and showed you up for what we all truly are, deep down.

My error has permanently emasculated, and never emancipated me. As it now has you, numbnuts

 

The Pumpkin – issue 109: The steady trickle of body bags… I know what you’re going to say… And deliver us from the 21st century… GW: Baby light my fire…

 

The steady trickle of body bags

I was disturbed, when I’m normally complicit in our mutual liberal-lefty echo-bubble, by last Friday’s edition of the Rachel Maddow hour on MSNBC. Rachel is a cool-headed analyst not normally given to hyperbole, but her rundown of all the terrible things that are going to happen to America as a result of the assassination of Iran’s General Suleimani played straight into the hands of Trump and his gang.

Autocrats – dictators and tyrants of whatever stripe – thrive on popular fear, and Trump set the tone right from his inaugural address three years ago, ramping up fears of immigrant crime and imminent social disintegration in a broken nation, that only he could put a stop to.

Americans are the most fearful people on the planet, as he well knew. Everything terrifies them, from supposedly foreign ideological constructs like the British National Health Service, to their own government.

But for some unfathomable reason, the majority of voters seem to have no fear of real things that are being done to them:

  • being stripped of their already limited opportunities for subsidized healthcare: 27 million Americans had no health insurance in 2019
  • seeing billionaires receive huge tax concessions when their own taxes are in some cases increasing and their modest wages remain stagnant
  • being supplied with polluted water and carcinogenic or climate-changing chemical emissions to benefit private corporations and corrupt public officials
  • watching the president play golf three days a week at a cost of, now, $120 million to the public purse while he and his family benefit to the tune of millions of dollars from clear abuses of his office
  • the deaths of 60 thousand Americans a year from opioid abuse promoted by rapacious pharmaceutical companies; 33 thousand more from gun-related crime and accidents
  • the egregious corruption of executives of institutions like the National Rifle Association and the department for agriculture, with its well-funded refusal to ban teratogenic chemical poisons
  • mass shootings in schools, churches and synagogues, mostly by white supremacists
  • the opening up of protected monument lands and popular hunting grounds to extractive industries in whose pockets their politicians sit stuffing their faces
  • the refusal to acknowledge scientific facts regarding dangerous shifts in weather patterns caused by climate breakdown, for the benefit of political funders in the extractive industries
  • the packing of courts with judges whose only qualification is loyalty to the president and his henchmen, the subversion of the Justice Department and attacks on law enforcement agencies
  • appalling patriarchal laws limiting women’s rights and criminalizing even natural abortion
  • the emergence into daylight of the influence of organized crime hand-in-glove with extreme fundamentalist Christianity going right to the top in national life
  • the rolling back of environmental protections and planning laws; the poisoning of their water supplies
  • the introduction of dangerous instability, bullying, extortion and brinkmanship in international relations
  • the lack of an effective opposition in Congress.

None of these public abuses and more seems to create anything like the terror in Americans as does the absurd implausibility of the suggestion that Iran might somehow invade or fire nuclear missiles which they don’t yet have at the United States in retribution for the extrajudicial killing of one of their leaders.

Certainly, if hijacked airliners were to crash into Trump Tower now, we all know who would be getting the blame, regardless of any and all evidence to the contrary.

Mr Trump’s – and by extension, America’s – rambunctious imperialist bullying only works with such smaller, less lethally armed and invasively inclined nations as are incapable of inflicting any real and lasting damage to the homeland.

Beware, however, the ability of ideologically motivated peasants in flip-flops to conduct asymmetrical warfare for years in their own lands.

The steady trickle of body bags.

 

Speaking of which, have you seen what that drone did to Suleimani’s car? He wasn’t alone – wasn’t driving. There were others in there, including the senior commander of Iraq’s Shi’a militias, a PR man and the driver.

I see the funerals taking place, the coffins – but I’m not convinced anyone knows who, what or how much is really inside them.

And, yes, okay, he was a bad guy. Was the poor bloody driver a bad guy too?

 

A tale of two shitties

Amid speculation on US TV about the decision to whack Suleimani, two stories may be true.

One, that Trump was going around for days telling everyone, including his higher-echelon ($200k a year) private members at Mar-a-Lago, with a conspiratorial smirk, that something really big was about to blow over Iran and they should keep an eye on Fox News.

So much for a rapid response to a threat of imminent attack. But it seems to have allowed his golfing buddies to get their lucrative bets down on the stock market.

The other, that the option of whacking Suleimani was just one on a list of a dozen ideas the Pentagon had sent over at his request. Apparently it was on the list only because they thought it was the last thing he would be dumb enough to do. Pompeo and Pence persuaded him otherwise.

The only press that has come out in full favor of Trump’s action has been Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal.

I wonder why. What could their readers possibly have to gain?

And a third shitty:

“A 2009 study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School found 45,000 Americans die every year as a direct result of not having any health insurance coverage. In 2018, 27.8 million Americans went without any health insurance for the entire year.”

The Guardian America story reports workers being fired purely over a medical diagnosis – Walmart imposes a strict limit on the number of days you can take off work – voluntarily giving up treatment and dying because their savings have run out.

Welcome to Trumpland, Brexit idiots.

 

I know what you’re going to say

Ha ha! After three days living with Alexa, I just called: “Alexa, please play…” and as I hesitated for one brief moment, she jumped in: “Here’s a station you might like – vocal jazz.”

It wasn’t exactly what I was going to say, Norah Jones is good if a bit C&W oriented, but a valiant first attempt at mind-reading. Also, it was a song about rain. It’s teeming down outside.

And rain is an anagram of…. Iran!

How spooky is that? 😉

 

And deliver us from the 21st century

I’m just now listening to some of my old vinyl records on my new £99 transcription turntable. You know, with the five-star reviews.

It took only about 40 minutes of working with the inexplicably small and useless diagrams I can barely see through my elderly vision impairments, using a torch, to figure out how to build the flimsy plastic Sony turntable from scratch, using matchsticks, an old cocoa tin and a skinny rubber band.

Surely to God they can sell these things in one readymade piece? Without nasty, crunchy little push-buttons? Maybe with a bit of hydraulic damping of the tone-arm? A spare stylus? And would a little LED light to show it’s operating really have broken the bank?

But I didn’t spot until I had already hanged myself in the garage, the little switch right at the back that frees the output phono plugs to talk to the phono plug inputs on my active speakers. I’d feared for a while there, I might have had to go back online to buy a separate amplifier and wait in another day for Hermes to deliver it.

As you can gather, rather like my old vinyl records I’m a bit scratchy today.

It’s partly because I’m being relentlessly pursued by a cheery email from Amazon, apologizing that they hadn’t been able to deliver my turntable because I was out when the courier called, only don’t bother replying to this email because it won’t be read. So I can’t tell them it’s already here.

The last time this happened,  they sent me another whatever it was in the post the following day. If I end up with two turntables, I thought, I shall take it as a sign to become a DJ, whatever, as I can’t see to drive to the recycling center.

I’d already determined in fact that the turntable hadn’t been delivered, because after I risked taking Hunzi out for 15 minutes to uncross his legs at lunchtime I checked the tracking information just in case, and it told me that the driver had called at 1.30 pm, a time when I know we were in, only apparently we were out and he hadn’t delivered it.

I could check the non-delivery note or go to their website and do ‘x’ or ‘y’ if I wanted more information. I would be allowed two more chances to be in when he called again.

I’d already determined that there was no non-delivery note, and going to the website I was unable to find an address for ‘x’ or a link to ‘y’ anywhere visible. So I gave up, trusting that they might just try again the following day, and began composing one of the worst one-star rancorous Trustpilot reviews that my spleen could manage.

At precisely 2.00 pm there was a knock at the door; whereon opening it, a courier presented me with a Sony-branded box containing a flimsy plastic £99 transcription turntable. ‘Did you try delivering that earlier?’ I enquired. ‘No, mate’, was the reply. ‘It’s only just arrived at the depot.’ He declared himself mystified, accepted my scrawled signature and left.

As I said at the start, I’m listening to a slightly collectible vinyl album recording of Mark Murphy’s Brazil Song on my new, flimsy plastic £99 transcription turntable. You know, the one they haven’t yet delivered. That took 40 minutes to put together and get working from the terrible tiny instructions after I found the tiny switch at the back.

But I now have a new record – as being someone who cannot be relied on to be at home when the courier doesn’t call, who needs to be pursued with more instructions that don’t make sense.

Anyway, it works, and the sound quality is not too bad, surprisingly.

Clever old me.

Except that, a few days after I’d ordered the thing, an Alexa Echo spy-in-your-home unexpectedly arrived, a Christmas present-cum-disability aid from my ex-family. ‘Alexa, play album, Brazil Song’, Mark Murphy….

Anybody want some old vinyl albums? Transcription turntable, almost new? Ready assembled?

(Aren’t vinyl albums annoying? You get only 20 minutes a side before you have to turn them over. No bonus tracks. No time for a snooze.)

 

GW: Baby light my fire

Israel: “At least 4 people have lost their lives after flooding swamped parts of the country following heavy rains on 04 and 05 Jan., 2020. 2 people drowned in an elevator. Dozens of rescues were carried out. 74mm of rain fell on Tel Aviv in 2 hours, around 20% of its annual rainfall.” (Floodlist)

Australia: may be grateful for a change for a tropical cyclone, Cat 1 Cyclone Blake is the first of the season for Western Australia and will bring heavy rain and strong winds to the Kimberley region, having made landfall near Broome, 5 Jan before moving briefly back out to sea and reintensifying to Cat 2. (Severe-weather.eu)

Angola: 1 person died in flash flooding after a continuous 12-hour downpour in Luanda province. Several hundred are homeless. (Floodlist)

Turkey: Floodlist reports, 8 Jan., “Severe weather including strong winds, rain and snow has affected wide areas of Turkey over the last few days.” 2 people died after heavy rain triggered landslides and flooding in the southern province of Mersin, where 165mm of rain reportedly fell in 24 hours.

Israel: “A second severe storm in 4 days brought more heavy rain and flash flooding to parts of northern Israel. 1 person died in floodwaters as he tried to rescue passengers trapped in their car. Emergency services rescued people from flooded homes and trapped vehicles.” (Floodlist)

USA: Accuweather is reporting on the potential for yet more storms coming out of the Gulf into  southern states later in the week. In Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, “millions of Americans are under threat for severe thunderstorms, including the potential for tornadoes.”

In South America once again, parts of both Peru and Colombia are under quite severe flood threat as rivers overflow after heavy rain, with many hundreds displaced.

UK: Thanks to the winter of 2010 when your Old Granny froze her skinny ass off in an unheated building undergoing refurbishment, despite a record number of heat records being set last year the Met Office has declared that the decade 2009/19 was only the second warmest in the temperature record, the honours going by a whisker to 1999 to 2009.

Observed over a gap of 100 years, during the period 1910 to 1920 as many cold records were set in the UK as heat records were set last year; the exact reverse was true too, with only one hot year record broken in the 1910s as opposed to 8 in the 2010s. The 10 warmest years – 2019 wasn’t even one of them, apparently – have all occurred since 2002.

Faroe Islands: 7/8 Jan., and it’s a rough old night in the North Sea. A very large, twin-core cyclone with hurricane-style low pressure – 940 mb and deepening – is centered over Iceland, bringing winds gusting over 140 mph and 50-foot waves to the Faroe Islands and the northern isles of Scotland.

Arctic: measured over Iceland in the past few days, the polar vortex high up in the stratosphere has recorded its coldest temperature in five decades of measurements, 600 km/h winds cooling the top at about 25 km altitude to minus 96 Celsius. Not sure what it means, but the clouds over Finland sure look pretty:

View image on Twitter

Photo: Thomas Kast. Story: Severe-weather.eu

Tunnel approaching….

China: “Health authorities in Wuhan first reported 27 cases of an unidentified pneumonia-like illness at the end of December, a figure that jumped to 59 as of Sunday. The patients, seven of whom are in critical condition, have been quarantined. There have been no reported deaths. Symptoms of the mysterious virus include fevers, problems breathing and invasive lesions to both lungs.” (Guardian)

Yellowstone: Newsweek reports, “In its monthly update of activity, the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) confirmed there were 48 eruptions last year (2019). That’s 16 more than the previous record set in 2018, when there were 32 eruptions at Steamboat.” Up to then, the average activity at the world’s tallest geyser had been 2 to 3 eruptions a year, although 1964 set the previous record, with 29. At one time, 50 years passed without any activity at all.

Bushfires: An old Comment thread I found from October 2018 under a Guardian story on the great Australian drought has numerous contributions from ordinary citizens expressing profound concerns for a devastating season of wildfires that year. ‘Kickthismobout’, for instance, contributed:

“Between 1900 and 1970 there were 13 Major bush fires, which is 1.85 per decade.

  • 1970 – 1980 – 4 Major bush fires
  • 1980 – 1990 – 3 Major bush fires
  • 1990 – 2000 – 7 Major bush fires
  • 2000 – 2010 – 16 Major bush fires
  • 2010 – 2016 – 25 Major bush fires (15 Major bush fires in total, averaged out over projected decade, could be more).”

So let’s not pretend Canberra was not warned.

The 2019/20 season is about halfway through and already more than 800 fires – many merging together along fronts measured in hundreds of Km, to make calculating the numbers of ‘Major’ fires pretty well impossible – have burned uncontrollably through 6.3m ha – 15.5m acres – across four states, much of it forest rather than scrub. Around 2,400 properties so far, and 28 lives have been lost.

Tens of thousands of internally displaced refugees, mass evacuations, clogged roads and beaches, the military called out – toxic air quality in five cities…. It’s already the worst fire season in the country’s entire white history.

Presciently, ‘Kickthismobout’ asked: “What kind of disaster will it take to wake our bloody leaders up?”

Well, now we know. No kind of disaster at all. After days of inaction and gladhanding, reviled PM, Scott Morrison has eventually pledged Aus $2bn for ‘reconstruction’, and has gone on Facebook (along with the other fake news merchants) to advertize what a great job he’s doing.

Many other ‘bloody leaders’ have continued to deny that climate change even exists, let alone has any responsibility for the seemingly endless, lethal drought and are refusing calls to limit the burning and export of coal.

Whenever devastating wildfires are mentioned, with their huge contribution to the CO2 burden, almost nobody seems to have noticed that 16m Ha, 35 million acres of Siberia’s vast boreal forests also burned through between April and August 2019.

Perhaps it’s because not many people live there.

And it’s an interesting question, isn’t it. Are we causing these wildfires, or are they merely a perennial problem in nature?

Well, some are obviously the result of arson, or of carelessness while camping, or of accidents to man-made power lines and overheating compost heaps. But many more are set off by lightning, a natural phenomenon. And aren’t wildfires contributing to the CO2 burden, and therefore a principal natural cause of a warmer world – not us?

But if droughts in parts of the world are getting longer and deeper and average temperatures are increasing, leading to greater extremes, then there’s a pretty good connection with changing overall climatic conditions that are the predicted result of adding 37 billion tonnes of CO2 annually into an increasingly carbon-rich atmosphere.

And it is an unfortunate fact that the more CO2 is added to the atmosphere the warmer it gets, leading to further increases in the emissions of CO2 and 39 other warming gases.

The added CO2 emissions from wildfires are therefore part of a vicious circle, that begins with us.

 

 

Hello 2020 and probably goodbye: When’s a good day to start a war?… Only connect!… Steve Bannon’s foreskin… GW: how do you like your planet, fried or boiled?… Death of a nation… The greatest horror story rarely told.

 

Quote of the Week

“It is easy to feel like a minimalist when you can order food, summon a car or rent a room using a single brick of steel and silicon. But in reality, it is the opposite. We are taking advantage of a maximalist assemblage. Just because something looks simple does not mean it is; the aesthetics of simplicity cloak artifice, or even unsustainable excess.” – Kyle Chayka, The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism (excerpted as a Guardian Long Read).

To back-up this point, that behind every coolly miniaturized Smart device is a vast infrastructure, we learn from another Guardian piece that Ireland’s burgeoning data processing industry has bust their carbon target wide open. “It is estimated that when the music video Despacito reached 5bn streamed YouTube views in 2018, the energy consumption was equivalent to powering 40,000 US homes a year (it has now exceeded 6.5bn views)”.

We’re not going to win this.

 

Donald Trump participates in a prayer before speaking at an Evangelicals for Trump Coalition Launch at the King Jesus International Ministry in Miami, 3 January 2020.

The blind leading the blind. Evangelicals praise God for sending them Orange Satan.

When’s a good day to start a war?

Maybe on a day when:

1 More documentary evidence emerged from the Office of Management and Budget about Trump’s illegal order to hold up aid to Ukraine, officials confirming in emails that the aid was a quid pro quo for dirt on Joe Biden.

2 An investigation opened into Trump Organization officials including his three older children conspiring to illegally manipulate stock futures on the Chicago Mercantile exchange.

3 Documentary evidence emerged to support an old allegation that Trump’s $2 billion loans from Deutsche Bank were underwritten by a Russian state-owned bank, VTB, a Putin vehicle, in the wake of his Atlantic City casino bankruptcies.

(PS the bank executive who signed-off the loans – and also lent to Jeffrey Epstein – was found similarly hanged at his home in Malibu on 19 November. Verdict: suicide, lol.)

(Reporting: Thom Hartmann, citing press sources.)

Trump’s chief item of furniture, the worshipful succubus Mike Pence, that snow-capped walking ad for Anusol, has already begun a campaign of lies in support of the war, asserting without a shred of evidence or even likelihood that Gen. Suleimani helped the 9/11 attackers – he says there were 12, I say with some degree of confidence that there were 19 – to travel for training to Afghanistan and thus killed thousands of ‘Americans’.

This manufactured myth is completely to ignore the signal fact that Iran is a Shi’a Islamic country, or at least a brutal medieval theocracy ruled by those old shits, and Saudi Arabia, which funded the operation planned by the Saudi bin-Laden’s Egyptian lieutenant al-Zawahiri and provided 15 of the attackers, is Sunni; in the case of the 9/11 mob, of the extreme Wahabbi sect. Deadly enemies of Iran, at a military scale.

Not for the first time is a lying cunt of a neocon US politician absolutely sure Americans are so fucking dumb, they won’t know the difference when he drags them into another unwinnable war to ‘take the oil’. (Reporting: Guardian)

People are also wondering if Trump had been planning Suleimani’s assassination as a counter to the impeachment proceedings for some time, as various things were said a few days ago, little tweety hints from him and his daft son, Eric, the Little Nazi, who has no security clearance but sent and then hurriedly deleted a tweet implying that his dad was planning a ‘spectacular’ operation of some kind to get even with the Democrats. Or, as the slack-jawed, dull-witted, infantilized moron called it, a ‘big old can of whoop-ass. USA, USA, USA!’

Threatening ’52 targets’ inside Iran should the regime retaliate, including cultural centers, Trump has ordered another 14 thousand troops on standby to fly to the region. 750 of the 82nd Airborne are already on their way, to add to the 5,200 he already has there. You know, Trump who promised his dumbfucks, no more overseas deployments, and they believed him.

As for our own Prime Minister, you know, the one who promised us real leadership, Baris is slowly wending his way back from an agreeable holiday dallying with Carrie on Mustique and thus far has not mentioned the war; while his teenage vampire-squid Foreign Secretary, Raaaab, has announced from Washington that we are on ‘the same page’ as the Americans. (Well, somebody has to read it to Trump.)

My friend Pumpkin wonders if Raaaaab has been fully briefed on Secretary of State ‘two lunches’ Pompeo’s extreme anti-Islamic, Evangelical religious beliefs?

That is to say, is he familiar with Mr Pompeo’s speeches to the faithful urging them to be patient and hold on for The Rapture, a version of the End Time when, following Armaggeddon and the smiting of the enemies, the righteous will shed their earthly clothing and rise up bodily to Heaven, an event he has assured them is coming down the pike?

Be slightly afraid.

 

In brief

I receive a news briefing from The Washington Post most nights. I take it, although I can’t afford to vault Mr Bezos’ $90 a year paywall to be allowed to read the full-length version.

Tonight’s briefing, however, caused me a sharp intake of breath: there was not one mention of the assassination of Iran’s supreme military leader and Mr Trump’s impending war.

 

Only connect!

Hi. It’s a beautiful, warm and sunny Spring day in early January, here on the west coast of the UK.

I’m expecting a freelance techie bloke round any minute (naturally, he’s already half-an-hour late) at a cost comparable to the purchase price of the machine itself, to try to get my new Alexa spy-in-your-living-room ‘Echo Dot’ device working.

The one I didn’t ask for, but which my ex-family clubbed together to buy me for Christmas. Probably out of concern for my recent near-blindness, when a greater degree of voice-controlled environment would have been useful – I can see to operate most things now, thanks. Besides, I have no Bluetooth-enabled appliances that might switch the lights on for me.

But I haven’t entirely dismissed the possibility that it was out of spite, as they know I fear Smart technology, but I had decided not to drag poor Hunzi, my stinky piss-bag and my perpetually aching sit-upon (the catheter cuts into my prostate) to their Christmas Day reunion Dinner of All the Aunts, 250 agonizing and complicated miles away.

Several of us have already tried to get the Alexa working. There seems to be some problem connecting with the WiFi router that’s working perfectly well with this, muh li’l laptop, and with my new bigger TV, that just set itself up automatically and connected to the winternet when I switched it on.

No such facility with Alexa. It probably never crossed the minds of the beanbags at Amazon who designed this curious little device that elderly people with visual acuity problems might welcome not having to find their way through the system to download an App on their phone, that they can barely see, and start reliably entering more pointless passwords and obscure setup parameters using the tiny and inaccessible keypad.

Especially when they are already account-holders with Amazon, who could perfectly well get all the ID data they need from their own database.

Or having to decipher the tiny password on the base of their BT router and enter it when requested, only to find that the Alexa App didn’t mean ‘password’ at all, but ‘wireless key’ code: a mistake resulting in the total failure of the setting up operation and a requirement to begin over again.

Surely, engaging with your router is a procedure that so-called Smart technology ought to be able to manage all by itself.

Too many systems designers seem blissfully unaware of the anguish they cause, and the sheer waste of one’s life, when creating setup routines and other forms that automatically delete all the data you have already entered if you have to go back a page for any reason.

I have long argued that these thoughtless idiots should be forced to live with their own products for one full year before releasing them onto a befuddled public. But I do have to confess, from what the tiny box has managed to produce vocally so far – the greetings part of the process at least seems to work without connection – the sound quality is, as many have said, remarkable.

(Aha. After an hour and half going around in circles, we establish that there is a Smart function on the router that, when on, interferes with the setup process by imposing Parental Control…. But only when connecting to the Alexa. £20 later, my new friend in the corner is now happily playing selections from an Amazon jazz streaming service. Bliss.)

Dominic Cummings

Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images, with apologies)

Steve Bannon’s foreskin

  • Data scientists and software developers
  • Economists
  • Policy experts
  • Project managers
  • Communication experts
  • Junior researchers one of whom will also be my personal assistant
  • Weirdos and misfits with odd skills

Thus runs part of a lengthy and rambling but largely obscure and possibly pretentious technocratic blogpost from Downing Street’s head SPAD Dominic Cummings, pictured above leaving a spike for itinerants somewhere underneath the arches at Waterloo Bridge, where he has spent the night regretfully draining blood from the homeless.

Employment experts are treating it as an actual advertisement for staff to join the team at Number 10 and are exercised over the legality of his demand that the weird misfits he needs to run the country should be aged under 21 years old.

This latter on the basis of age discrimination…. Probably the very least of our worries.

These are the people Cummings, who appears to suffer from arrested development issues, believes should be running the country. Sure, Sajid Javid will be thrilled to have the Treasury department’s decisions overruled by a 19-year-old undergraduate economist.

Just who the hell does this bizarre, self-appointed apparatchik think he is? I seriously doubt the poor deluded nitwits who voted to ‘Get Brexit done’ ever imagined they were really voting for someone other than Good Old Baris to run the country, someone they have never heard of; a sociopathic, attention-seeking narcissist planning to turn Britain into his private dystopian version of Scientology.

But that’s exactly what the lazy and feckless wastrel they did vote for, ‘Invisible’ Johnson is allowing him to do, from the sanctuary of his fridge.

If he had the guts of a nematode worm he would put himself up for election. But he knows he would never get into Parliament. Few weird misfits ever do; only cranky bores. In any case, Steve Bannon’s foreskin, Cummings has nothing but contempt for our creaky old institutions. His aim is to blow it all up in the air and see what comes down.

Precisely Mr Putin’s agenda.

Go, Dom.

 

GW: how do you like your planet, fried or boiled?

Australia: Amid many anxious world media reports, severe-weather.eu has: “A significant increase in extremely dry northwesterly winds and intensifying heatwave (mid-40s again) through the next 48 hours will create ingredients for a catastrophic increase in fire danger tonight (3 Jan.) and tomorrow. Chances are rising fires will merge into large firezones that wouldn’t have much room or chances to stop until they burn to the coast, prompting unprecedented evacuation of 60,000+ residents in coastal Victoria and New South Wales. At least 18 fatalities* have been reported so far and more are missing. Catastrophic death toll among animals.”

*4 Jan: now 23, 6 missing.

Conservationists estimate as many as half a billion casualties in the animal kingdom from the fires so far. The iconic koala was already functionally extinct, with fewer than 30 thousand individuals scattered throughout the vast island continent at dangerously low densities for breeding.

Death of a nation

Former australian PM, Tony Abbott has told an Israeli radio interviewer that ‘belief’ in CO2-driven man-made climate change is a ‘cult’. He on the other hand is a cunt, of the scientifically pig-ignorant variety. His distinctive jug-ears, folded forward, betray the unmistakeable signs of Fragile-X syndrome, a chromosomal disorder betokening ‘learning difficulties and cognitive impairment’ (Wikipedia).

Another Australian parliamentary nematode has branded the 100% of world climate scientists who agree (on the basis of 11.6 thousand peer-reviewed papers) that climate change is real, man-made, carbon-based and life-threatening, as ‘lunatics’.

The time has surely come for the UN to make denial an international criminal offence and lock these filthy money-breathing ecocides away for life.

4 Jan: Sydney suburb, Penrith has hit 48.9C, Canberra 44.0C, both new local records in the annals of the death of a nation.

Indonesia: The death toll in the Jakarta floods is approaching 60, with more than 400 thousand displaced. “Search and rescue teams continue to rescue dozens of people trapped in flooded buildings.” (Floodlist) Waters in some of the worst affected places are beginning to subside. Up to 4 people are thought to have died in landslips caused by heavy rain in North Sulawesi. Guardian reports, the government is desperately seeding clouds to try to get them to drop their rain before reaching land.

Mozambique: Heavy rain and flooding since 26 Dec. has left 5 people dead in Cabo Delgado Province, with 2,000 homes affected, bridges washed out and schools closed as rivers burst their banks, leaving many of the province’s northern districts isolated. Several hundred people have been driven from their homes in neighboring Zambia. (Floodlist) “Dozens of houses have been damaged or destroyed and hundreds of people displaced after heavy rain and flooding in Morogoro Region, Tanzania.

Iceland: a rapidly intensifying cyclone is bringing hurricane-force winds to the north of the country, causing Keflavik airport to shut down, while normal temperatures of – 8 to -10c have risen overnight to + 3c or more, snow turning to heavy rain. (severe-weather.eu)

USA: More storms. Accuweather reports, “the first major storm of the New Year swept across the Southern states on (2 Dec.) into the evening hours, bringing (record-breaking) flooding rainfall and severe thunderstorms. Heavy rainfall across Jackson, Mississippi, inundated roads and stranded cars in high waters, lifting manhole covers, water coming up and into the streets. Closer to the border of Louisiana, 5.15 in. of rain fell over Natchez.” In the Northwest, 75 mph storms over Washington State and Idaho are expected to produce heavy rain and snow over the weekend.

Tunnel approaching….

The greatest horror story rarely told

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_policy_of_the_Donald_Trump_administration

This astonishing document charts the appalling history of Donald Trump’s disastrously – one should use the word criminally – inappropriate appointments to key posts in his administration, as they relate to the mismanagement of the environment in the USA – by extension, to the rest of us – and the lies he has told to cover-up his ecocidal crimes, which seem to be the product of a demented personal crusade to bring about the collapse of civilization.

No other conclusion is possible than that this embittered and self-deluding old grifter so hates America, and by extension the world; is so bitterly resentful of the human race, a group that he is unable to be part of, as his parents determined he should not be, that he is determined to take us all down with him.

His legacy will be our extinction.

Productivity rising: Despite patting ourselves on the back for exceeding 50% of our energy output from renewables in 2019, with 61% polled agreeing the government needs to do more, it appears our carbon productivity still has some way to fall on the road to zero by 2050. According to Oxfam, the average British person will have emitted more carbon dioxide in the first two weeks of this year than a citizen of any one of seven African nations does in an entire year.

 

 

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 107: News from nowhere… Bondi beached… Cowardly Johnson attacks the Beeb like a fascist dictator…. GW: Roasting Matilda.

15,413. The number of outright lies Washington Post factcheckers say (on 17 December) that Mad King Donald has told in public or by tweet since ascending the throne on 20 January, 2017. I have been browsing on a wonderful website, trumpgolfcount.com/#services, to obtain details of his hobby and its spectacular cost to the American taxpayer. Currently about $114 million, and all at his own private clubs: Obama used mostly military ranges. He still owes over a million dollars to local authorities who have to clear streets, close businesses and provide police around his dumbfuck rallies.
“Me, a racist? Some of my best wallpaper is kikes.”

Trump signs an edict for Hanukkah, banning criticism of Israel.

News from nowhere

At the reception Trump thanked Melania for her Christmas decorations – on the main Jewish festival of the year- and welcomed an old friend he spotted in the crowd, who’s been dead for 30 years. He later held a rally in Hershey, Pa. at which he mocked a security guard he thought wasn’t being rough enough on a woman protestor and “joked” that he wanted another 29 years in office because “the American nation itself” would collapse without him.

He is, of course, barking mad. In Victorian times, anyone who thought they were an entire country and not just a mildly demented solipsistic senior citizen temporarily employed as the President would have been carted off to Bedlam.

Ominous signs, however, are growing that his dumbfucks, more heavily armed than the Army, are becoming violently opposed to impeachment. Many are talking of civil war if Congress harms a well-spun golden hair on his sainted orange head. The internet is pregnant with death threats against his critics and opponents.

They are, of course, also barking mad.

Over 100 pages of documents awarded by a court to a private ethics watchdog lobby were released by the White House, and passed on to the Congressional judicial committee investigating the Ukraine story. Barely a line was visible behind blacked-out redactions and the clearly disrespectful and provocative documents have been entered as further evidence of obstruction.

The Attorney General has confirmed he has asked his own special counsel John Durham to investigate his Inspector General, whose investigation of the FBI’s investigation into the links between the Trump campaign and Russia found there was no “Deep State” conspiracy against the president, who had not even been elected at the time it began. Bill Barr has already stated that he thinks the 400-page report is a scam. He should know.

Mr Barr is understood to be a member of the secretive fundamentalist Catholic organization, Opus Dei. He also recently gave a speech in which he advocated subordinating the powers of the legislative branches of the government and Congress to one single man: Trump, claiming tyranny is mandated in the Constitution.

He is also barking mad.

“It should never again happen to another president. It is incredible. Far worse than I would have ever thought possible. And it’s an embarrassment to our country. It’s dishonest. It’s everything that a lot of people thought it would be, except far worse.”

This tweet from the arch-crook, Donald J Trump, whining like a bitch under a bus to distract attention from his impeachment. It’s another piece of projection, concerning the Russia investigation. The DoJ’s Inspector General found that while there were procedural errors in obtaining two of four wiretap warrants, and one item of possibly pertinent information witheld from the court, there was no basis otherwise to Trump’s paranoid delusion that the FBI and the “Deep State” were involved in a plot to discredit him.

But it’s incredible. Dishonest. An embarrasssment. I wonder who he’s talking about?

He has no respect whatever, no interest in the rule of law – which often depends on law-enforcement agencies carrying out investigations to enforce it.

And he doesn’t want that.

 

Bondi beached

“You know, so many of us who are career law enforcement today are outraged,” she said. “And I think the American people really should be terrified that this could happen to you when we’re supposed to live in a society of integrity and honesty.”

This from Pam Bondi, a former Florida Attorney General.

Integrity. Honesty. Outrage. Strong words.

The high-minded Ms Bondi was recently appointed to his impeachment legal team.

In 2016 – his election year – her office had been investigating a possible case against the so-called Trump University, when at her request (cf. Vanity Fair) he donated a measly $25 thousand to her re-election campaign, and she dropped the case. She later denied there was a connection.

He had donated the money illegally from his tax-exempt foundation and was later fined $2,500 for inappropriate use of charity funds. More recently, he was forced by a New York court to pay $2 million to court-nominated charities, having illegally diverted military veterans’ charity funds via his fake foundation to the 2016 election campaign. (You see, Trump really IS a crook. It’s not just some libellous gossip, some prejudice on my part. He has many times been fined or has had to settle out of court to avoid going to jail.)

The criminal president was BANNED from owning a charity. His three shifty co-trustees, Ivanka, Moron Sheephunter Jr and Eric, The Little Nazi, were ordered to undergo special training in charity law. Oh, how deliciously humiliating.

In 2018, to avoid prosecution Trump was ordered to settle $25 MILLION on victims of his Trump University scam, people who had lost tens of thousands of dollars investing in what they hoped would be a career-enhancing degree-level master-course in real-estate management and received only an invitation to a sales pitch and a few limp pages of excerpts from Trump’s pathetic ghostwritten bullshit book, The Art of the Steal. Oh, no, sorry. Deal.

Why does the 73-year-old groper, Trump have so many attractive young women enablers like Bondi? A classic abuser, describes his former lieutenant Michal Cohen, he grooms you with flattery and lunches, draws you close, makes you his confidant, then gets you to lie and steal and dump dirt for him, until you get found out and he dumps you by tweet and protests he never even knew you. The slimy slugtrails never reach back to him. He has done this to people countless times yet they continue to defend him. Some women, it seems, just love an abuser. Men too.

Integrity. Honesty. Outrage.

Trump had all-but disowned his friend, enabler, inept apologist and motormouth “personal lawyer”, Rudy Giuliani, whose actions in the Ukraine scandal (abetted by two low-level mafiosi and funded by one high-level Putin oligarch wanted by the FBI) were threatening to take Trump down. “He may have done some things for me, I don’t know” is Trump’s classic mob-boss shtick. Go at it, Elliot Ness.

So last week, in the middle of the Democrats’ doomed impeachment hearings, Giuliani scoots off to Ukraine to recruit some discredited former officials to lie about former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s main Democratic rival, claiming that he had acted corruptly – when an investigation they had previously conducted concluded that he had not.

Keep up, Rudy.

And he’s now back in the mob boss’s good books. “One of the greatest crime fighters in American history”. Yes, indeed boss, we have plenty of dirt to dish out on the Bidens! Please let me back into your mothering embrace!

Ghouliani had previously flown to Ukraine to persuade former President Poroshenko to investigate Biden’s son, who was just a celebrity name on the board of a gas company competing with another company Rudy was trying to get his own nominee onto. But Hunter Biden had joined the board only AFTER an investigation into corruption at the company had completed and nothing was found.

Nothing to see there, then, except the usual revolting influence of the rich and powerful furthering the career of an unemployable scion, that’s been going on since the dawn of time. Trump does it for his kids too, in defiance of the no-nepotism rules, as do most Republican politicians. As do most people, actually, if they can.

In the midst of the hearings, Trump enabler and low-browed hominid with tiny eyes and a massive jaw, Congressman Matt Gaetz, a Neanderthal who has made it his life’s work to endlessly interrupt the witnesses with irrelevant and witless distractions, declares that the keypoint in Trump’s defense is in fact the case against Hunter Biden, Joe’s son.

Trump, he argued, had perfectly legally made military aid to beleaguered Ukraine contingent on President Zelinskiy reopening the cold case against Burisma and… Hunter Biden! So it’s not an impeachable offense!

Why not – it certainly fits the description?

Er, because…. he was so concerned about stopping corruption in Ukraine that he was prepared to help Vladimir Putin’s military secure their illegal advance into the Donbass to root it out. And privately suspend military aid unlawfully and unconstitutionally without reference to Congress until Zelenskiy would do him “a favor, though….” and announce he was reopening the investigation into Burisma and the Bidens, to help him get re-elected.

And then lied about it, and concealed the evidence of his traitorous and bungling phone calls with foreign leaders in a highest security server reserved only for the dirtiest CIA intelligence operations.

Top-drawer legal work there, Matt, you total fuckup.

Where do the Republicans find these morons? And who votes for them?

Integrity. Honesty. Outrage.

 

Heads you lose

A possible clue to how Trump might behave if removed from office is found in a Vanity Fair story about recently defeated Republican governor Matt Bevin, of Kentucky, who while waiting for his Democratic opponent to take over has commuted the life sentence of a murderer who beat a mother-of-three to death with a pipe, cutting off her head and dumping the body in a drum of toxic waste.

Another convicted cold-blooded killer he has set free may be linked to the $25 thousand his family donated to the governor’s fund. His poorer accomplices are still inside. And he has pardoned and released a guy who raped a 9-year-old child, because “her hymen was still intact”.

I can understand that there may be people out there who are criminally sociopathic, but who the hell votes for them, and why?

 

The parliamentary biscuit tin is used in New Zealand as a way of randomly choosing which members’ bills to be presented to parliament.

“It was what was available at the time,” Trevor Mallard, the Speaker of New Zealand’s parliament said of the tin, adding that it had initially contained “a mixed selection of biscuits”.

I want to go live and eventually die in New Zealand, the sanest, best governed country on earth. I think, despite the volcanoes, probably many people do. Members’ bills in Parliament are selected for debate by drawing bingo balls from a biscuit tin. And they are happy with that. Who wouldn’t be? (Report: Guardian)

(It just occurred to me that Johnson probably has a tin on his desk labelled “Members’ Balls”….)

 

It’s the wrong song

One reason I want to go on living after my home is repossessed when I turn 80 and the mortgage is worth more than the bricks is that you go on discovering things every day.

Anyone know what a “mondegreen” is? I’ve just now found out! It means a word or phrase that’s been misapplied as a result of mishearing the words in a song. A brilliant definition. I heard it for the first time today,

One example, a TV play in the 1970s was entitled: “I’m a dreamer, Montreal” when the actual song goes “I’m a dreamer, aren’t we all?”, but mishearing it constantly as a child prompted the hero to dream of escaping his narrow life in Ireland and emigratin to Canada.

“Mondegreen” apparently hails from Scotland and an old Border ballad: “They have laid him on the green”. I probably have a dozen other examples but I can’t remember any.

I do sometimes wonder where I have been all these years.

 

“If control of the media is not a major element in the imposition of State totalitarianism, it would be hard to think of another.”

Cowardly Johnson attacks the Beeb like a fascist dictator

Upset by being pilloried over his cowardly refusal to allow himself to be held to scorn by the forthright interviewing of Tory Torquemada Andrew Neil, and presumably critical even of the sneaky Conservative bias of the BBC’s lightweight senior political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, a day into his second premiership Johnson has launched an all-out attack on the internationally respected Corporation, whining about bias.

It’s amazing how these egotistical and ambitious, lying charlatans whom The People love to vote for are always so resentful of their victories at the polls.

It has been perfectly clear since the Referendum to any Remainer on the left of politics that the BBC has been frantically virtue-signalling to its detractors and disablers on the Tory hard-right, bending over backwards to not say anything beastly about them, other than on its tiresome and formulaic “topical” comedy shows, with their panelists’ utterly predictable nods to the politically right-on hipsters of Hoxton.

But just the effort of trying to balance their political coverage by interviewing a handful of opposition politicians or asking the most complaisant of “difficult questions” is invariably seen as an act of national treachery, despite the endless, dispiriting vox-popping of poorly informed Leavers – no Remainers – on the grimy streets of our forlorn post-industrial towns. I wouldn’t mind them having opinions if they had the slightest awareness of what they were basing them on.

As for their egregious consorting with Farage… our colleagues at the BogPo have reported time and again about this, that BBC researchers have his number on speed-dial, top of page one, knees jerking to whatever deranged statements and shifts of position reminiscent of a nun on cylocybin doing the St Vitus’ Dance he comes out with next. “Oh, he’s just good entertainment value.”

Yes, and there are websites where he is worshipped as a nativist hero and ethnic-cleansing demigod. Take your pick.

If Johnson decriminalizes non-payment of the BBC’s licence fee, Britain’s only independent public service broadcaster will, they think lose £200 million over the next few years as people simply stop paying to receive free programming. That’s a lot of great programs and some shit they’re going to have to farm out to the private sector. and the end of independent public-service broadcasting in Britain.

I have heard these people arguing out of a total misunderstanding of how it works, that they don’t watch many BBC shows and so £3 a week for the availability of seven broadcast and one online TV channel, a dozen national radio channels, a 24-hour news, sport, weather, educational and magazine features platform, plus the iPlayer online catch-up website, the World Service and their local radio station, to licence the use of the apparatus on which they could receive it all is such a dreadful ripoff.

Of course, everyone moans there’s not much to watch or listen to on the BBC, and I can sympathise with that at times. There are large gaps to fill between some of the best drama, nature and entertainment shows on the planet, and much of it is unwatchable padding. There’s seemingly no limit to the miles Michael Portillo can clock up on the world’s railways, but there’s certainly a buffer to how much I can take of it. BBC News still tops the polls for credibility, although as a former newsman myself I have severe reservations about its current direction.

I’ll bet they watch Strictly, though. The final drew an audience of 11.3 million. How do they think the BBC pays Claudia Winkleman’s massively huge salary? I’ll bet they watch Poldark, and Call the Midwife too. They just don’t want to have to pay anything for it. it’s the classic British bulldog spirit: “We’re not going to be told what to do by anyone, even if it hurts us not to do it.”

But they’re perfectly happy to pay Disney £600 a year to subscribe to Sky TV for 40 channels of Babestation, a hundred tacky shopping channels, privately sponsored corporate TV, creaky old US TV cop shows in strange colors, and however many channels showing endless repeats and cheap archive content, on all of which they have to put up with a three-minute brain-destroying ad break every seven minutes that already pays for the service, did the dumbfucks but know it.

They’re quite happy to pay Netflix to watch endless episodes of a fantasy Royal Family doing fuck-all for years in posh surroundings. (Btw, spoiler alert, the Queen dies in the end!) and Amazon for the pleasure of the company of booming-baby, Jeremy Clarkson and his infantilized petrol-sniffing chums.

Channel 4 has also drawn the ire of the thin-skinned Johnson, for naughtily substituting a melting block of ice in his place when he refused to turn up for a climate debate with the other party leaders. Just like his hero, Trump, he takes any degree of satire as a mean and unfair personal attack. Well, he should have shown up, but he was frit. A coward. He knows fuck-all and could care less about climate science, his party has been given plenty of money not to think about it.

“During the election the Tories confirmed that the party would review Channel 4’s public service broadcasting obligations if Johnson was returned to Downing Street. Under the proposal it will ‘look at whether its remit should be better focused so it is serving the public in the best way possible’” (Guardian).

If control of the media is not a major element in the imposition of State totalitarianism, it would be hard to think of another. Who the hell are the Conservative party, Number 10 or fucking Domino “Pizza” Cummings* to decide what best serves – rather than shafts – the public? Are they willing to pay for the privilege of ensuring their critics, political opponents and alternative ideas never get a look in?

Broadcast content absolutely must not be subject to Government control and vindictive partisan edicts or we are all doomed.

*Unelected policy “advisor”, Dom (£90 thousand a year) has already started usurping Johnson’s headlines, declaring yesterday that he proposes personally to reform both the Civil Service and Defense Procurement, although he is not in the Government.

Taking bets on how soon Johnson dumps him.

 

What’s old, Pussycat?

Dame Vera Lynn, the still-going-strong 102-year-old singing star famed for her morale-boosting wartime hits, has successfully sued to prevent Halewoods, a drinks company, from naming a brand of gin after her. Dame Vera argued quite correctly that she had not agreed to lend her name to the brand and that people would imagine she had.

Halewoods’ dismal brief tried to argue the fatuous case that “Vera Lynn” is a phrase in common use as cockney rhyming slang – a style of East London speech that went out of fashion decades ago. It did not imply her endorsement just because it’s her name, and as artisanal gin is consumed mainly by young people, he said, no-one buying the drink would ever have heard of the actual Vera Lynn.

The picture on the label rather let him down.

The name of the solicitor?

Tom Jones!

 

GW: Roasting Matilda

Australia: “could experience its hottest day on record next week as a severe heatwave in the country’s west is set to make its way east, forecasters say. Temperatures are likely to exceed 40C in many areas from Wednesday. Perth, in Western Australia, reaching 41C by Sunday. Adelaide should see a high of 44C (111 F) on Friday.

“The current record of 50.7C was set on 2 January 1960 in the outback town of Oodnadatta in South Australia.” (BBC Weather) In the year to July 2019, Alice Springs had 129 days over 35C, and 55 days over 40C. (Guardian) Averaging 40.9C, Tuesday 17 Dec. was the hottest day across the whole country since records began back in 1910. Thursday is supposed to be hotter

The Gospers Mountain Megablaze now covers nearly half a million Ha., the size of greater Sydney, and is once again threatening the city’s NW suburbs. Large fires are blazing out of control in several townships north of Perth, thousands evacuated. (9 News) The toll on wildlife is incalculable.

DR Congo: At least 24 people have died after a landslide buried a mine in Ituri province, in the far north east of the country, close to the border with Uganda, which is also experiencing heavy rain that has triggered deadly landslides over the last few days.

Heavy rain in other parts of the world is also likely causing industrial disasters: 4 people were killed and 14 trapped after a coal mine in Sichuan province, China flooded on 14 December. Over 300 people managed to escape.  In Afghanistan, 5 workers were reportedly killed in a landslide in a gold mine in northeastern Badakhshan province on 12 Dec. (Floodlist)

Indonesia: at least 2 people died and 50 houses were severely damaged in Central Sulawesi after flash floods hit several villages in Sigi regency on 12 Dec. Flash floods also hit West Sumatra, inundating around 1000 homes. At least 5,000 people have been displaced. Some areas were reportedly under 1.2 meters of water (from Floodlist).

France: “at least 2 people have died and thousands left without power after a powerful storm hit parts of southern and western France late on 12 Dec. Winds gusting to 108 mph caused major damage. Heavy rain and flooding were reported in some areas. The Lot-et-Garonne department was placed under red alert for floods after the Garonne river rose rapidly.” (from Floodlist)

Europe: “An incredibly warm airmass persists over the eastern half of Europe with locally 12-18 °C anomaly while literally the whole continent is experiencing above normal temperatures. Very warm weather with close to 20 °C afternoon temperatures is likely over the Balkan peninsula.” (Severe-weather.eu)

USA: huge fluctuations across the country, with minus 10C in the north, 3C in New York and 18 C in the west, storms, blizzards, floods all over. 3 people were killed by tornadoes on 16 Dec. in Mississippi resulting from highly mobile temperature gradients.

The Pumpkin – Issue 106: Truth and lies – a postscript… An article of faith… Editing history… Deep Heat… GW: More climate death and disaster…… Tunnel approaching: special report.

A note from the Editor: Readers new to this, muh bogl, may not realize that each new Post will be several days in the making and subject to frequent updates, revisions, additions and corrections, so you may wish to come back later for a second helping of pudding. The conceit being, that it makes the editorial process more fully transparent. Actually it just means I have second thoughts when I’ve sobered up in the morning. The incorporated Pumpkin, by the way, concerns itself mainly with American politics. Look away now.

 

Maxwell (in green dress) at Royal Ascot in 2000, with Prince Andrew (second from left) and Jeffrey Epstein (far right).

Abuse of power: Maxwell, centre, and Andrew, dolled-up at Royal Ascot races

Truth and lies – a postscript

On the very day after House Judiciary Committee chairman, Jerrold Nadler read out the articles of impeachment against Trump, alleging that he’d abused his powers of office for personal electoral gain and attempted to obstruct Congress, Mad King Donald – still insistently protesting that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in 2016 to get his opponent elected – met at the White House with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The effrontery! The chutzpah! Doubtless, Putin sent him over to commiserate.

A report in The Guardian goes on: “The press were barred from the meeting, and were handed a White House statement saying that, among other topics: “President Trump warned against any Russian attempts to interfere in United States elections.”

Now, why would he have done that if he hadn’t prior knowledge based on experience that Russia, rather than Ukraine, might interfere, we wonder? After all, he has said on TV he would welcome interference from wherever, and who wouldn’t

Asked about the statement at a press conference in the Russian embassy later the same afternoon, however, Lavrov claimed: “No, we haven’t even actually discussed elections.”

“Lie la lie, lie la lie lie, lie la lie….” – Paul Simon, The Boxer.

 

An article of faith

The Pumpkin noted while listening to the articles of impeachment being read out by the diminutive Nadler, that the wording has been very, very carefully constructed to accord with what the founders and framers were trying to say about the possibility of the nation electing a corrupt and filthy autocrat as president.

“High Crimes and Misdemeanors” is a peculiar expression, that doesn’t necessarily require the incumbent to have committed a crime in statute law. It’s not about robbing a bank, or murdering the First Lady – not about unpaid parking fines. It’s more about letting the people down; failing to live up to your oath of office. In the indictment you will find keywords like “duty”, which refers to the “fiduciary duty” which Alexander Hamilton thought a president should owe to the people. A duty of keeping faith; of governing wisely and responsibly.

Character – unlike anything this superannuated playboy, this cardboard mock-up mob boss, this made-for-TV charlatan, President Cheato has ever displayed in his rotten life.

Both articles also make clear that the expectation is that Trump won’t stop doing what he’s doing, even if he’s impeached but not removed from office. The possibility of continued offending is what the framers argued should lead from impeachment to removal. You have to get that one out of the way too, as incredibly, he’s still doin’ it.

Schiff and Nadler haven’t missed a trick. Framing the constitution was all about ensuring that no “King George” would ever again sit on the American throne.

Sadly, though, it’s all a waste. He’s not going to be removed. Not by the Senate, where he has gained a vise-like grip over the Republican caucus. No-one seems to know how or why, but a peek inside David Pecker’s old safe at the National Enquirer might yield some talking points.

It cannot be a coincidence, can it, that both of the Republican Congressmen who first endorsed Trump’s candidacy are facing gaol time on corruption charges. Others, such as the Leader, “Moscow” Mitch McConnell, will be in the frame.

America can still fight back.

 

“The fact that he phoned Zelenskiy and asked for “no” quid pro quo doesn’t really alter the fact that he had previously phoned him and asked for “yes” quid pro quo, except in the terraformed nature of Trump’s interior planet, where September is the new July.”

This piece has been relocated for editorial reasons. So there.

Editing history

We seem to be moving steadily from the age of “alternative facts” to the idea of redemptive alibis and the re-engineering of Time itself.

As we know, no sooner did Trump go on camera to claim, wildly, that he had not asked President Zelinskiy of Ukraine for a “quid pro quo”, that in fact he had said the very opposite, that he wanted nothing from him, than his loyal lieutenant, Rudy Giuliani took off for a week out in Ukraine and other European countries trying to recruit discredited former Ukrainian officials to falsify evidence to support the mad monarch’s attempts to rig the 2020 election.

The fact that he phoned Zelenskiy and asked for “no” quid pro quo can never really alter the well-documented fact that he did previously phone him and asked for “yes” quid pro quo, except in the terraformed nature of Trump’s interior planet, where September is the new July.

The point being, that these actions appear to amount to a deliberate conspiracy to construct an alibi for the president. An alibi based on retrospective actions taken and statements made sometime after the facts of the case were notified to the Justice department, prompting him only then to release the $391 million in Congressionally approved cash and military aid he claims he had not been illegally holding up since April.

It’s as if the bank robber were to protest, but look, officer, I’ve just made a large deposit into my account! How could I possibly have robbed the bank?

In a tweet last week, Trump also claimed that the aid had been delivered “in full”, so there could have been no quid pro quo in the first place. This is a common Republican talking point, that the blackmail failed to work, so it can’t be a crime. Well yes, or rather no, but there clearly was a prior qpq, as the aid was not released until the day AFTER it was revealed that the Orange Leader may have committed impeachable offences by threatening to go on witholding it.

And it was witheld on his order, no-one else’s.

How stupid do they think people are? Clearly, very stupid, as the polls have not moved significantly after two months of transcripts and open hearings confirming massive criminality on the part of the occupant of the White House, said to be far worse than anything Nixon had to resign over.

Amazingly, 49% of Americans still don’t agree he needs to be removed. It’s quite incredible. It’s like people voting for Boris Johnson, or paying Nigel Farage £100 for the privilege of being told they can’t stand as a Brexit “party” candidate after all, yet continuing slavishly to support him.

Should we be breathing this much CO2?

Nor is it true, as Trump claims, that Ukrainian officials did not expect the aid to arrive before September. This is all so much bullshit: they queried with the State Department not having received it, back in July. With the border war raging, they were desperate for it.

Nor indeed has the aid been delivered “in full” as he says. There is still $35 million of the package outstanding. No-one seems to know where it is.

Let’s hope it doesn’t turn up in a Trump 2020 PAC.

 

Deep Heat

The Barr faction in the Justice Department was quick to rush out statements disagreeing with the very clear findings of the Inspector General’s 400-page report into the oranges… sorry, erringes… no, sorry, oregons of the FBI investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 election, and the collusion Mueller so clearly found with Trump’s campaign staff, that he issued some 37 indictments. None to Ukrainians.

Just as Attorney-General Barr had pre-trashed the Mueller report in March – 488 pages, $24 million-worth of damning, if cautious, testimony – within only 48 hours of receiving it, and then sat on it for another month while people digested only his inadequate, highly selective 4-page summary and found the president might not have been so guilty after all; despite Barr’s official duty to hand it over to Congress, and the president’s absurd claims of “exoneration”, he has now done something very similar with his own department’s internal inquiry.

And as a predictable result the demented president, who is reported to have fired off no fewer than 105 tweets last Sunday alone, clearly in a state of nervous collapse, has been tweeting excitedly that the report proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Deep State set out to destroy his presidency, and has penetrated the deepest levels of government and the justice system.

Conveniently forgetting that the FBI investigation began in August, 2016, three months before he was even elected.

No need to add that he won’t have read a word of it.

Eventually when they’ve familiarized themselves with its contents – I was going to write “read it”, but, you know… – Mad King Donald and his pet Attorney-General (who looks like Elton John’s evil older twin) will figure out that the report is not without its criticisms of the procedures followed, by one individual in particular, and use those to discredit the entire investigation and, by extension, the entire FBI and, by further extension, any other part of the law enforcement apparatus that threatens Trump.

Is he a complete moron? Is he a would-be Great Dictator? His defense against the dark articles of impeachment is to argue that no-one could possibly want to impeach probably the greatest and most successful president in American history, architect of their booming economy. No, that’s not a joke, he tweeted it. He is insane, but there’s always a method in his madness.

He must surely know that not a single Republican in the Senate is going to send him to the Big House, which is where he will undoubtedly end up if he is booted out of office before 2024. The triumphal tone of his flapdoodle is purely to support his enablers in their own electoral races, giving them a great talking point: vote for my opponent, and you’re voting to destroy the greatest president this country has ever known.

All together: “Heil Trump!”

 

On the wings of a prayer

Following hot on the heels of KFC chicken-sponsored wedding ceremonies in Australia, with free buckets, comes news that Walmart is selling KFC branded, fried chicken-scented fire logs for Christmas.

Of course they’d never go as far as Gregg’s bakeries in the UK, a popular high-street chain of size-enhancing snackeries, who promoted themselves last year with a nativity scene made from sausage rolls. I guess you call them pigs-in-blankets. Yes, even the infant Jesus was portrayed as a pork product.

And nobody breathed the word “anti-semitism”.

But it’s a great public service Walmart is doing. There are plenty of American families with no more food stamps, courtesy of Trump, for whom the smell of fried chicken this Christmas may be the nearest their kids get to eating anything.

 

Donald Trump and the other pigfaced gammons in the Senate don’t mind making endlessly insulting remarks about the 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, still technically a child, voices The Pumpkin with disquiet. But the minute anyone even mentions the name of the 14-year-old, haunted-looking vampire-boy Barron Trump, even in fond jest, Melania, Fox and the enablers go apeshit.

And the Russian-flavored vomit spewed by the NRA and little creeps like Marco Rubio over the Parkland school shooting survivors who organized against them  was unspeakable.

Politics? Nah.

 

GW: More climate death and disaster

Time magazine cover with Greta ThunbergHurrah! Greta Thunberg has been nominated by Time Magazine as their “Person of the Year, 2019”. Let’s ignore that she joins Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Ayatollah Khomeini in that select company. Maybe even Donald Trump, who knows? It’s not what you do, it’s how famous you make yourself that counts. (PS – she’s not really standing on that rock, is she? It looks awfully dangerous.)

Iceland: You can’t technically call it a hurricane, but a huge winter cyclone is continuing to undergo intense bombogenesis over the island with wind gusts of 160 mph, and barometric pressure as deep as 940 mb continuing to fall. Extreme blizzard conditions and intensifying rates of snowfall, with the possibility of even greater windspeeds, have led to red “danger to life” warnings in the northeast. Most of the island is in lockdown, with all roads closed. (Severe-weather.eu)

The Guide to Iceland website treats the storm with good humor, pointing out that it’s the third already this month – but the first ever to be given a name, Diddú, after an Icelandic opera singer. No casualties have been reported, and so far fairly minimal damage. The storm’s track is taking it up into the high Arctic, where it will no doubt make winter sea ice formation problematic.

The rotation of the storm, which has developed an eye, is sucking strong southerly winds up over the British Isles. “Heavy rain and strong winds have been battering Scotland, causing disruption on the roads, railways and ferries.” (BBC Weather, although curiously they’re not mentioning the Icelandic hurricane. We’ve noticed that despite being an official source Severe-weather.eu does have a habit of exaggerating, in an effort we guess to live up to their name.)

Great Britain: “Election Day 2019 (12 Dec.) dawned bright and sunny…” Er, no, actually here in Boglington-on-Sea it’s a filthy day, dark and heavy with rain. By 9.30 I had all the lights on, and walking with Hunzi we schlepped miserably through the teeming rain, me in my leaky wellies, puddles expanding everywhere. Now I have to go out to vote, the symbolism hasn’t escaped me. This is the most depressing election I can remember since Thatcher in ’79. The only hopeful thing I can say is, the older you get, the more you know from experience that in another few years’ time “the people” might wake up and reverse the result.

Greece: A cyclonic system in the Aegean is causing “torrential and locally excessive rainfall across eastern Greece, with a good amount of snow further NNW into the higher terrain of North Macedonia and surroundings. Excessive rainfall could bring dangerous flash floods through the next 24 hours.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Madagascar: Weakening Cat 1 Cyclone Belna has been crossing the East African island, with 2 confirmed dead and 3 missing. “Houses, public buildings and a hospital in Soalala all suffered damage from the strong winds and flooding. Coastal areas were flooded after waves and storm surge damaged a protective dyke.” (Floodlist) On the other side of the ocean there’ve been floods and hundreds of evacuations in eastern Malaysia/Borneo, as up to 200 mm of rain fell in two days.

Colombia: and Venezuela have been affected by flooding for the second time this year, with over 6 thousand people displaced. (Floodlist) We missed an end-November event in Brazil: “Heavy rain in Salvador de Bahia City caused floods and landslides with widespread damage sustained to roads and more than 100 houses. 170 mm of rain fell in 3 hours – the monthly average for November is 100mm.” (Reliefweb)

Arctic: Sea ice cover in summer 2019 was the second lowest on record, the lowest 13 years having occurred in the past – 13 years. And it’s thinner than ever. The thickest 4-year ice has been reduced by a 1.9 deg annual warming trend from 33% in 1985 to just 1.2% today. (NOAA)

Tunnel approaching…

Your Old Gran is no scientist so she’s struggling through many acronyms and unfamiliar abbreviations to interpret a new report by leading Australian climate scientist, Andrew Glikson, published on Arctic News today, so you don’t have to.

Mr Glikson’s literacy leaves a little to be desired, but what she takes from it thus far is that ‘fings ain’t looking good.

We need to take into account that although soundly based both in observation and theory, much of the future science is speculative. Which doesn’t make the outlook necessarily any better, it only allows for the possibility of some climatic effects tending to mitigate further warming. How could it allow for any human efforts to reduce carbon outputs?

For instance, the last period when the CO2 concentration was high (1700 ppm) and the planet up to 8C hotter, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (55 million years ago), it doesn’t appear to have rendered the planet permanently uninhabitable, and only 35-50% of life forms became extinct. Good news! Except that the PETM took around 100 thousand years and we’re doing it in 350, giving species no time to adapt. The coming extinction will be rapid.

If we burn just 5% more of existing fossil fuel reserves, Glikson calculates, it will raise atmospheric CO2 by another 325 parts per million, or on the Meinshausen scale, “applying a climate sensitivity of 3°C per doubling of CO₂ would result by 2100 in a temperature rise of between 1.5°C to 4.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels”. Clearly, it would help to stop burning stuff.

That huge gap of uncertainty is because you can’t really predict the transient effects on the graph of things like forest fires (CO2 concentrations over Siberia hit 1060 ppm this summer) and permafrost thawing. Methane is now the main threat, but in all there’s about 30 Teratonnes of carbon locked up in exploitable fuel reserves and retained in carbon sinks just waiting to be released as warming increases. A tiny percentage of that could be enough to knock the climate sideways.

And the predictions tend to be linear. The “boiling the frog” scenario doesn’t take into account the likelihood of tipping points being crossed, the frog, as it were, suffering an unexpected heart attack – most scary of which is the Venus effect, of runaway transpiration of water vapor from warming oceans. There’s an outside chance of this threshold being crossed in the next few years, according to the Arctic News team (“Sam Carana”).

A bit of good news, then: water absorbs less CO2 the more it warms. The melting ice caps are creating huge cold pools, enabling the oceans to absorb more CO2. That’ll help for a while, although it isn’t good for marine life, for coastal communities or for people in the path of hurricanes. Also, you have to allow for the “global dimming” effect – pollution reflecting sunlight. (Only, as champion doomster Dr Guy McPherson has struggled to point out, as soon as we stop burning stuff, then….)

Your Gran does not understand why Glikson continues to use the mean CO2 concentration figure at the lowest point in the cycle? It might be a chilly 408 ppm in October, but it’s a roasting 415 ppm by April, and rising at 3 ppm a year. By the end of 2019, it’s estimated, we shall have added another 43 billion tonnes of carbon to the air and sea, with no sign of human activity being curtailed as it was meant to be under the doomed Paris accord.

In fact, it’s increasing – in The Pumpkin’s jaded view, a clear indication that rapacious gangster-capitalism in the end-time of the Energy markets is having success at persuading us all to use more.

Glikson ends with a veiled swipe at the international order: “As Australia burns, the IPCC maintains there is time left to consume a carbon budget and to keep handing out offsets and carbon credits…” He doesn’t complete the thought, but I think he’s implying that there isn’t.

Siberia: Residents of the city of of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Kamchatka peninsula are being warned that the giant Avachinsky volcano, just 18 miles away, has begun an eruption. Locals and tourists are being advised to stay away. (Siberian Times) Police have begun an operation to recover what they say are six bodies they can see on New Zealand‘s White Island after the sudden eruption which killed or seriously injured over 40 tourists last week.

Siberian Times also reports: 56 hungry polar bears have laid seige to Ryrkaipiy, a remote village in Chukotka, easten Siberia. Villagers using flares are fearful of leaving their houses at night and children told to stay indoors. The bears still have some food from abandoned carcasses at a seal colony nearby but “abnormally warm weather” has prevented them from moving to more northerly hunting grounds.

 

Births, deaths and mirages…

RIP Popular TV naturalist and actual scientific botanist, Dr David Bellamy, 86. Big beardy guy, climate-change denier (“poppycock”), weird slushy voice redolent of fermented fruit. You hadn’t been on TV for a while, I don’t expect you’ll be missed by many people under 45.

RIP Global media: A check of the website of the widely influential South China Morning Post today, 11 Dec., for any news of extreme weather events throughout China and the whole of Asia turns up only one Environment story, about plastic pollution, despite the UN conference on climate change in Madrid, the fires in Australia, the cyclone in the Philippines….. We might as well not be here.