Tomorrow’s BogPo, early: Get us out of here… “Oh, Gerrard Winstanley…” Spring Fare… And the rot goes on… GW: It’s getting wetter all the time.

Quote of Last Week:

“If the MPS are delaying an investigation into a likely crime because of political interference then ‘scandal’ does not begin to cover it.”

– Jolyon Maugham QC, on learning that, five months since the likely perpetrators were indicted by the Electoral Commission, Scotland Yard has decided not to pursue an investigation into the evidence of fraudulent acts committed by EU Leave campaigners, blaming “political sensitivities”.

 

“All right Phil, where have you been hiding the Camembert?” (Apologies to Stefan Rousseau/AFP/Getty)

 

“If we ‘Remoaners’ have a sense of injustice, it’s because we have been deprived of an essential freedom…”

Get us out of here

One of the country’s top linguists, 27-year-old language teacher Alex Rawlings, fluent in 15 languages, has featured in the press after tweeting out to his personal universe the news that he is emigrating to Spain to get away from the horrors of a post-Brexit Britain.

“This whole country is on the brink of the worst disaster since the second world war, and everyone is just sipping coffee, going about their daily business as if nothing is happening”, he told The Observer. “I don’t want to live an environment where I have to apologise for believing in European unity.” The story explains:

“Rawlings, who is half Greek and retains a Greek passport, will move to Barcelona on 1 November to pursue “creative passion projects”.

At that point I began to cry.

For it seems that anyone with any slender claim to another country’s passport has become a first-class passenger, able to get off and tour the ancient ruins, while those of us who, like me, are so English we miss out on the opportunity to escape, are trapped in steerage on HM Prison Ship Britannia, moored somewhere off the coast of the civilized world in a rotting hulk filled with opportunistic and disputatious madmen – and that’s just the officer class, fighting one another for the last lifejacket.

For us, there is no way out. If we ‘Remoaners’ have a sense of injustice, it’s because we have been deprived of an essential freedom through the intemperate actions of a dimly illuminated mob, persuaded in its sullen and mutinous ignorance to torch the building around us; their retrograde sense of British entitlement heightened by the propaganda of a nasty, neo-Thatcherite cabal seeking to profit from chaos. Formerly secret, their motivations are now openly worn on their flushed and greedy faces.

Power! The power to be sharks in a goldfish bowl.

Among them, the failed applicant for the Tory leadership and useless ex-Environment minister, the formerly obscure housewife Andrea Leadsom, a small-minded woman of the shires for whom the word ‘conservative’ should be written in all-caps, stands out. An extreme Brexophile, she has called for the abolition of all regulation safeguarding the rights, health and safety of the British workforce and consumers; all financial regulation and food subsidies too.

Brexit plotters: sharks in a goldfish bowl (Guardian)

Was that lunacy really what the fish porters of Sunderland were voting for? The sheer, unbridled hurricane-force of naked capitalism, bearing down on them and their children and – if the Environment permits the extension of the race for enough years, which is by no means on the cards – their grandchildren: economic chattels, debt-peons trapped in the maelstrom of the markets, waking poorer every day, subject to the will of giant corporations in a retail culture of delivery “yesterday”?

I ‘ve racked my brains to think of a way out of the horrible future that these rabid, post-truth  politicians with their all-digesting ambition propose for us. Sadly, though my late grandparentage includes one (renounced) Greek-born citizen and one dual British-American of Irish ancestry, neither offers me sufficient relevant DNA to apply for alternative nationality. (And who now would want to become an American?)

In any case, it would be hypocritical: I don’t believe in nations, and I’m mildly revolted by nationalists, as it seems to me they are essentially co-dependants in a corrupted system of bordered parentalism, tribalists unable to think or act for themselves without the protection and permission of a self-defining state and a national creation myth.

I tried seven years ago to get myself out of a Britain I could see one day splintering into factions separating both from Europe and its own senses; but my Committee of Discarnate Entities had other ideas; and it seems they had good intent, because if my house sale – the only one offered – had gone through in 2012, I should now be living on a worth-less pension in the burnt-out ruins of a Portuguese village consumed by wildfire, broiled in 48-degree summer heat and battered by powerful storms; half-blind, half-mad and pissing into a bag.

It might sadly have been preferable to continuing to exist on an impoverished island sinking rapidly in the West, governed by closed-minded native isolationists paradoxically pinning their hopes on faraway countries’ inclinations to owe us a living.

Nor do I speak Portuguese.

 

Contemporary Pillowtalks

“…until I realized that, not 1968, but 1648 is exactly where British politics has returned to in the Year of Our Lord, 2018.”

“Oh, Gerrard Winstanley…”

I’ve not yet succeeded in “getting” Jeremy Corbyn.

He’s always struck me as being a bit of a cantankerous old sod. An obstinate, puritanical stick-in-the-mud, who spent the greater part of his long political career in near-obscurity on the back benches, delighting in his perversity, forever rebelling against his own party whips and demonstrating right-on international solidarity, flirting with some really quite inadvisable representatives of liberation movements not averse to using violence for political ends.

Making me Head Boy for just my last term, my old junior school headmaster, Jeff Cornes, admitted that he was only offering me the position out of respect for my academic record – I had been “top” of the top form for a year by then. “But”, he cautioned, “You should be aware that you have no leadership qualities whatsoever.”

Reader, it’s true. But like Corbyn, I’ve never been a follower either. “I just go where I’m pointed!” I will explain to anyone looking to me for a lead; and then step aside and snipe cruelly from the sidelines as they blunder on.

Since his unexpected election as party leader faute-de-mieux, and Prime-Minister-in-Waiting, a “stalking horse” elected by accident, Corbyn (who is the same age as me, older by five months) seems to me to have displayed a similar lack of interest in actually leading anything; preferring to bask in the extraordinary personality cult that has grown up around him.

When it comes to policy, his party seems hopelessly divided around his lack of direction, especially on Europe, where he is at odds with most of the rest, imagining the EU as a corporatist superstate rather than, as I see it, a bulwark against US hegemony.

The faction of Jeremy fanatics known as Momentum has displayed a Stalinist enthusiasm for purging the party of its less radical elements, careless of the polling figures that still put Labour several points behind what is, by universal acknowledgment, the worst, the feeblest, the most incompetent, most corporate-leaning, the most damaging and most fractious Tory government since at least the Second World War.

Until this morning, when the word “Leveller” popped into my head, and I started reading up on this and other disruptive anarcho-syndicalist factions that emerged from the Roundhead tendency during the interim period between the two acts of the English Civil War; and realized that, not 1968, but 1648 is exactly where British politics has returned to in the Year of Our Lord, 2018.

Take, for instance, the Diggers. No, not a reference to our Australian cousins, such as Rupert Murdoch – known to Private Eye readers as “The Dirty Digger”; although the Digger movement embraced precisely the ragbag of suppressed nativist sentiments exploited by his papers.

If you are looking for a C17th origin for the obnoxiously stubborn and self-destructive Leave campaign, the unbending “Brexiteer” mentality, where would you find a better analogy than in the section of Wikipedia reserved for this communitarian working-class faction, dedicated to the common ownership of national resources?

“An undercurrent of political thought which has run through English society for many generations and resurfaced from time to time (for example, in the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381) was present in some of the political factions of the 17th century, including those who formed the Diggers. It involved the common belief that England had become subjugated by the “Norman Yoke”. This legend offered an explanation that at one time a Golden Era had existed in England before the Norman Conquest in 1066. From the Conquest on, the Diggers argued, the “common people of England” had been robbed of their birthrights and exploited by a foreign ruling-class.”

Ding, dong…. (Leslie Philips, ‘Carry On, Teacher’)

Led by a man called Gerrard Winstanley, the Diggers were a more rural offshoot still of the Levellers, an informal movement led by Col John Lilburne, who were arguing for extending the franchise to all but a few male voters (no women, of course.) Their signature protest at a time of rising food prices was to react against enclosures by planting crops on newly privatized land where there had formerly been common rights; hence the sobriquet. (I thought immediately of the allotment-tending Corbyn when I read: “The Council of State received a letter in April 1649 reporting that several individuals had begun to plant vegetables in common land…”!)

A combination of thuggish intimidation by private landowners, bent judges – themselves extensive landowners – and endless lawsuits finally did for the Diggers. There was a revival in America in the 1960s, with the liberal, egalitarian, non-property-owning society proposed by the San Francisco Diggers; a quasi-political hippie faction who perhaps had more in common with the C17th “Ranters”, a small, sexually liberationist, proto-anarchist movement; again, an offshoot of the liberalizing, pro-democracy Levellers, whose ambition was to restore (as they saw it) a popular sovereignty and a sturdy independence that had been misappropriated by a ruling elite.

These currents of thought seem to me to have resurfaced in a modern populist movement that has coalesced, somewhat incoherently, around ideas of common ownership, self-validation (identity politics), anti-elitism and the idea of England as a prosperous, independent nation free from foreign influence: the Jacob Rees-Mogg thesis leavened with Socialism. (Opposites attract; similarities divide…)

Perhaps it also explains the curious dichotomy we seem to be wrestling with, between excessive permissiveness on the one hand, and excessive prudishness on the other. While the internet grants unlimited access to pornographic imagery, and removals of oppressive laws have offered apparent licence to express our desires freely, nevertheless the popular press goes on tittering, and we have at the same time adopted a Puritanical tendency to punish sexual individualism harshly, to make examples of those (mostly men) who transgress a somewhat fluid code of “appropriate” moral behavior.

There are parallels with an era in which Britain – principally England – was so bitterly divided between those who cropped their hair short and those who grew it long, the dispossessed and the elites, that 600 thousand citizens were slaughtered during eight years of brutal internecine conflict; not over land or treasure, but over abstract ideas of nationhood and sovereignty.

And here we are again.

  • Editor’s note: I have removed an item here for space, that others have Commented on below, in case you were wondering what has happened.

Spring fare

The odds against a No-deal Brexit lengthened considerably today, when Buckingham Palace announced that Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is expecting a baby “in the Spring”.

Already the poor little sod is being hailed as a new dawn for a triumphant new post-Brexit Britain. Oh, Brave New World! (Assuming they don’t induce her on 29th March….)

Well done, Harry. Hundreds of pages of hysterical press coverage should take the British public’s mind off having to queue at heavily guarded military outposts to receive our weekly food ration and essential medical treatment.

“If he puts a silly caption about a three-legged race on this, I’ll send him to the Bloody Tower…”

x

“In failing to challenge their toxic arguments … BBC News renders itself totally unfit for purpose.”

And the rot goes on

“I think the climate may be changing but it could change back again. It might not be a hoax…. I’ve seen a lot of reports, some bad, some good. I don’t know that it’s man-made. I don’t want to spend trillions and trillions of dollars and lose millions and millions of jobs.”

Thus Trump, expatiating in his usual inventive fashion on the most troubling issue of our age (roughly as heard on BBC R4 Today this morning, extracted from yet another discontinuous and self-pitying ABC 60 Minutes interview.)

Interviewer: “…but what about the scientists who say it’s worse than ever?”

Trump: “You’d have to show me the scientists….”

And you ELECTED this childlike imbecile to be your president?

He is surely unique in believing that whatever he knows least about, is what he knows more about than anyone. As usual, Shakespeare got it first:

“Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. (Hamlet, Act 2, Sc. 2)

Seriously, there will be people who believe this nonsensical drivel because he IS the president and so he should be the most informed politician on the planet, when I will give you £100 if you can prove he’s read a single word of the IPCC report or seen any evidence to contradict it. (Then I’ll deny I ever offered you the bet, hahaha! Losers!)

Is it responsible journalism to put those lies on the air without anyone sensible being invited to challenge them?

Has no paid individual within the media wondered logically what Trump imagines he would be spending trillions of dollars ON, if not on creating millions of jobs in the alternative energy and environmental clean-up businesses? I don’t suppose they have, I’ve seen nothing to suggest that they have, so why anyone else would in the current climate, I don’t know. They just seem to absorb his guff like sponges. Maybe just me?

And while we’re at it, the CEO of Cuadrilla was on Today this morning to defend the resumption of fracking in Lancashire, and told a tremendous fib, that natural gas produces less CO2 than coal, and nobody challenged him either. The Union of Concerned Scientists writes that, while on some measures gas emits 50 to 60 per cent less CO2 when burned than coal (depending on the relative efficiency of the systems):

“The drilling and extraction of natural gas from wells and its transportation in pipelines results in the leakage of methane, primary component of natural gas that is 34 times stronger than CO2 at trapping heat over a 100-year period and 86 times stronger over 20 years. … Whether natural gas has lower life cycle greenhouse gas emissions than coal and oil depends on the assumed leakage rate, the global warming potential of methane over different time frames, the energy conversion efficiency, and other factors. …

“Some areas where drilling occurs have experienced increases in concentrations of hazardous air pollutants. Exposure to elevated levels … can lead to adverse health outcomes, including respiratory symptoms, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.” (Edited from web page entry)

Nor was he challenged to defend the safety of the process for groundwater, both in terms of toxicity and overextraction of aquifers, while in the Colorado and Kansas fracking zones the number of measurable M3 or greater earthquakes increased with fracking from two to 850 a year. He would not be drawn on what magnitude of quake he thought his operations should be safely limited to causing! (Currently drilling has to stop if an Eq. of more than M0.5 is registered.The government is considering removing limits altogether.)

Green MP, Caroline Lucas, was however allowed to mention that the establishment of large-scale fracking zones in the restricted area that is the UK will make it impossible to meet our current emissions reduction targets, supposedly set by law.

Yet the ostrich argument persists: we know it’s dangerous to go on burning gas, admitted the Cuadrilla man, more or less; contributing to an extinction-level crisis within a decade (he didn’t exactly say that!). But what else are British housewives supposed to cook on?

(Smoking is killing you, but since you have terminal lung cancer you might as well carry on buying our brand of cigarettes….)

And that’s the principle too behind the US Government’s opportunistic admission last month that yes, the planet is warming catastrophically but it’s too late/costly to do anything about it now (after decades of lying that there was no problem) so we just have to go on burning oil and coal and gorging on red meat so dinosaur industries can create badly paid jobs that no-one will live to retire from, and hope someone comes up with a technological fix before we go extinct.

(Incidentally, I recommend Stacey Dooley’s intense report on the devastating environmental impacts of the fashion industry as a necessary corrective to shopping addiction. Available on BBC iPlayer and at all good branches of Primark.)

These people have been driven insane by the profit motive, prepared to bet their children’s lives on some fantastical and far-off, unaffordable “unicorn” technology being discovered in time to save them.

In failing to challenge their toxic aguments and in continuing to present the most anodyne editorial view of this rapidly advancing crisis, BBC News renders itself totally unfit for purpose.

 

Way to go?

I used to have a mild interest in collecting stories of the strangest or most absurd ways in which people die, like the chap in Australia who was killed on the golf course when a high-flying bird of prey dropped a mullet on his head; a mullet being both a kind of fish, and an unfashionable hairstyle.

Few I think can compete with the tragic death of former police officer Elizabeth Isherwood, 60, a care worker, who died after locking herself in a cupboard at her timeshare in North Wales, which she had sold on and was preparing to leave the next day.

Her death was the result of a bizarre series of events.

Apparently, she got up in the night to go to the bathroom, with nothing on, and blundered into the airing cupboard by mistake. The door closed behind her, locking her in, and the handle broke off in her hand.

Unable to call for help in the deserted building, she quick-wittedly wrenched off a piece of pipe and used it to hack a hole through the wall, big enough to wriggle through.

However, she seems to have failed to understand in her confusion that what she thought was the last layer she could not get through was just a picture in a frame, hanging on the other side of the wall.

The pipe she had broken was live, so all the time she was being sprayed with cold water which, acting as a rapid coolant on a body that had overheated with the exertion, caused her temperature to fall rapidly, and hypothermia set in, causing her to lose consciousness.

The poor woman wasn’t found until a week later, as nobody had noticed she was missing.

Verdict: misadventure. (Guardian report, 17 Oct.)

“Help! I don’t normally do this…”

GW: It’s getting wetter all the time

France: At least 13 people have died during heavy storms ahead of remnant hurricane Leslie, that cut off many roads and caused rivers to burst their banks in parts of south-western France, officials have said. The Aude department was particularly badly hit; the Aude river seeing its highest level in 100 years. 7 inches of rain fell on Carcassonne overnight; 2 metres (6ft) of floodwater was recorded in the streets of Conques; at Trèbes, floodwater was as high as seven metres (23ft), local authorities say. (from The Guardian/BBC News, 15 Oct.)

Caribbean: Is another Gulf hurricane brewing? “Invest 94L was on its way to developing a well-formed surface circulation near the northeast coast of Honduras, and the system had a moderately large area of heavy thunderstorms to the southeast of the developing center. These thunderstorms were growing in organization and areal coverage. Its forward speed of 10 – 15 mph should bring the center inland over Belize by Tuesday afternoon, … bringing 2 – 4” of rain with isolated amounts of up to 8″ to Belize and northern portions of Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala. These rains will be capable of causing dangerous flash flooding and mudslides. The next name is Oscar.” (Wunderground)

Shades of Puerto Rico: Farron Cousins, of the “Ring of Fire” videocast is reporting, more than a week after Hurricane Michael devastated the region, the 3rd most powerful hurricane ever recorded on mainland USA, that many survivors in the Florida panhandle have still received no help from FEMA, gutted by budget cuts ordered by the Trump administration. The death toll stands at 18, with over 30 unaccounted for at Mexico Beach.

Mexico: Off the Pacific coast, “…the 20th named storm of its ultra-busy 2018 hurricane season (saw) the development of Tropical Storm Tara on Monday morning. Tara was centered about 95 miles south of Manzanillo, Mexico at 11 am EDT Monday, with top winds of 45 mph, and was bringing heavy rain to the nearby coast.” Again, up to 8″ is possible. Dr Jeff Masters writes:

“The 2018 hurricane season in the East Pacific (east of the date line) has now had 20 named storms, 11 hurricanes, and 9 intense hurricanes. An average season has 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes, so we are well past those benchmarks with several more weeks of hurricane season remaining.”

Uganda: At least 41 people are confirmed dead after a massive landslide and flooding in the district of Bududa, Eastern Region on 11 Oct. Heavy rain caused the River Tsuume to burst its banks, which in turn caused a landslide in Bukalasi. Some of the affected areas are still not accessible and it is possible the death toll could increase. Local media said that 100s more are feared dead.” (from Floodlist)

Portugal: ex-hurricane Leslie finally made landfall as a post-tropical storm, three weeks after appearing in mid-Atlantic. 170 km/h gusts and heavy rain brought down trees and power lines, injuring 37. (CEWN #141)

Europe: the jetstream is maybe going to produce a pattern-flip next week, with an area of intense cold forming over northeastern Europe, where it’s been unusually warm; and a heatwave over northwestern Europe up into the British Isles. More torrential rainstorms with “major flooding” and threat of waterspouts are forecast for southern Spain and Morocco/Tunisia, starting Thursday 18 Oct.

Australia: Red warnings were issued as severe thunderstorms broke over the Brisbane, Queensland region. Two concurrent supercells joined forces, with damaging cyclonic winds, torrential rain and heavy hail. (CEWN #141)

Sumatra: 27 die in flash floods and landslides around Pasaman on the Indonesian island, 11-12 Oct. In the north of the island, 11 children were killed when their school was swept away by floodwaters. (CEWN #141)

Evolution latest

To date, humans have been responsible for the extinction of over 300 mammal species, according to new research at Aarhus University in Denmark, that in combined total took 2.5 billion years to evolve.

It would be 5.7 million years before 300 new species evolve to take their place.

And Yellowstone… yes, the largest geyser in the park, the normally almost inert Steamboat, went off on Sunday for the 23rd time this year. Rocks ejected over hundreds of feet, “the size of bowling balls”. Ground temperature still rising, more shallow earthquakes, many not being reported, continuing erratic ground uplift….

The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, the breaks in the data transmissions from the monitoring equipment also got so bad at the weekend, the USGS (United States Geological Survey) is claiming they were knocked out by lightning. No conspiracy theorist believes that, as it hasn’t happened before, the monitors are scattered over the whole park – and besides, they have capacitors ‘n’ stuff to soak up the lightning, so.

Actually when you consider they recently tried very hard to put earthquake forecaster Dutchsinse (Michael Janitch, of St Louis) off the air, and he reports ‘quakes from other monitoring services which they don’t, there may be something in the theory that they just don’t want anyone to know when it happens.

Endpiece

Staring at the sun

I know people would think me mad if I tried to discuss my current obsession, that there’s something wrong with the sky. Luckily, I have no-one to talk to all week, so it doesn’t matter.

Now, below is a photograph of some clouds, that I pulled the car over and took just this afternoon. Have you ever seen clouds looking like this? The dark ones, I mean? They look like a bucket of eels, or a pod of leaping dolphins, or something more sinister maybe. I have never before seen clouds do this:

 

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The Pumpkin – Issue 62: Salmond phishing in Scotland… Painting the skeletons pink… Phooarh!…GW: Wash me down and blow me!

Amen Corner

“We get climate change wrong too often… Manmade climate change exists: if the science proves it we should report it. To achieve impartiality, you do not need to include outright deniers of climate change in BBC coverage.”

– Long overdue memo from Head of News, Fran Unsworth to all BBC producers.

Ghoul’s out for ever. (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

The Pumpkin says: Two hurrahs for Auntie Fran! Fuck off, Lawson, you moneygrubbing ecocidal old ghoul. Back in your grave. And clear up the soil and maggots after you. (See Posts passim)

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/07/bbc-we-get-climate-change-coverage-wrong-too-often

 

“Is sexual kompromat not precisely the tactic Trump and his cohort have been using for years to crush their enemies?”

Salmond phishing in Scotland

Along with many sources, The Pumpkin has previously speculated about the provenance of the variously named Trump International Golf Links project, also known as Trump Aberdeen, or Trump Balmedie; where its $120 million startup funding may have come from, since it certainly did not come from the near-bankrupt Trump Organization in the USA or any cautious British or US banks; and through whom it was channeled.

There are and were numerous other concerns about the development, of course. How Trump railroaded through planning consent over the objections of the community and properly concerned environmentalists; what role the then SNP leader, Alex Salmond played in swinging the decision; how Trump opposed the siting of an offshore wind farm – he hates wind farms – a project supported by Salmond; his bullying and harassment of local resisters – his attempts to massively increase the size of the development, despite the fact that it’s been making heavy losses, partly thanks to the retreat of the North Sea oil industry and the winding-down of Aberdeen as its capital.

And then there was the well-reported instance of Trump’s dimmest son, Eric bragging to a golf journalist that they got $100 million from some golf-mad Russians for course developments. At the time, according to Wikipedia, there were only 9 functioning golf courses in the whole of Russia, and only 4 PGA-registered professionals. The boast was backed up by Donald Jr, who told another journalist that “they were always in and out of Russia”, where the development funding was virtually limitless.

This seemed to contradict Trump Sr’s frequent forceful assertions that he had no business with Russia. None.

Anyway, that’s not what The Pumpkin has been thinking about this morning. Another well-sourced piece by Adam Davidson in The New Yorker this week, entitled “Where will the Trump investigations go next?” (a question on many people’s minds as elections approach and some kind of denouement in the Mueller enquiry is eagerly anticipated) has revived our curiosity, to the point where he lazily dialled “Salmond/Sorial” into the Googlebox and sat back, waiting for any nugget to fall into his lap.

And, unlikely though it may seem, numerous reports have popped up, linking the two names.

Still an Executive Vice-President at Trump Organization, George Sorial was Trump’s point man on Aberdeen: the guy who did all the negotiating, the railroading, the project management and the harassment of the natives (including cutting off their water supplies and throwing high ramparts around their properties) – as well as the relationship-building with Salmond, who somehow became convinced overnight that the development on a Site of Special Scientific Interest would after all be A Good Thing for Scotland, despite all evidence to the contrary.

It seems that part of the relationship-building involved a Salmond scheme whereby Trump, Sorial – and, by extension, Donald Trump Jr – were flattered to be added to a list of international business movers and shakers named as “Global Scots”, honorary nationals who would commit to promoting Scottish business interests worldwide – presumably in anticipation of a Yes vote in the 2014 Independence referendum, a vote that never arrived.

The newly adopted Republican candidate, Trump Sr was swiftly dumped in early 2016, ostensibly because of the multiculturalist SNP’s objections to his campaign promise to introduce a ban on Muslims entering the USA. Donald Jr’s delisting came soon afterwards because, as any fule might have expected, he simply hadn’t fulfilled any of his commitments to promote Scottish business, being too busy chasing tail, pomading his hair (I bet he’s a Dapper Dan man!) and slaughtering endangered animals for their body parts.

There then came attempts to drop Sorial.

Buzzfeed reported (November 30, 2016 – 3 weeks after Trump was elected President)

“According to a freedom of information request from the Scottish government, Salmond gave Sorial the role on the basis that he was “responsible for the Trump developments in Scotland”, he would be an “advocate” for the country, and his parents were from the Scottish island of Lewis.

“However, after being told Sorial was still a Global Scot, Salmond told BuzzFeed News that Sorial should step down from the role. The former first minister has been a vocal critic of Trump since relations between the Scottish government and the tycoon soured over the construction of a wind farm near his golf course.”

The Pumpkin has been wondering about poor Mr Salmond, who has just last week had to resign his seat in the Scottish Assembly and crowdfund an appeal for his legal fees, in order to fight accusations of sexual impropriety made against him quite out of the blue by “two women”.

Is sexual kompromat not precisely the tactic Trump and his cohort have been using for years to crush their enemies and punish or silence their disloyal “friends”, bringing them back into line? One thinks of Charlie Kushner, father of Trump’s son-in-law Jared, part of whose 5-years sentence of imprisonment was for witness tampering – insomuch as he tried to silence his brother-in-law with a DVD of an encounter with a prostitute in a motel room, which Kushner Sr then sent to his own sister, to put a little more pressure on her husband.

And we have heard Trump protege and quasi-legal bagman, Michael Cohen not only pleading guilty to financial violations, but fingering Trump as having ordered him to payoff a porn star and a glamour model out of a special slush-fund created for the purpose, using corporate donations fraudulently elicited to buy access to the White House; while speculation surrounds another Trump associate who may or may not have been involved in silencing a woman who is claiming to have spawned an illegitimate child by Trump.

No wonder he so admires Boris Johnson.

We then have the lurid details of what may or may not have happened in a Moscow hotel room in 2013, as listed in the notorious so-called “Steele dossier” among other instances of compromising information the Russians may or may not have on the President.

So there’s a lot of this sort of thing going around. Were the women put up to “hashtag Metoo” Salmond? Most probably no, but allegations of groping and worse are the kind of “black information” Trump has reportedly stored up for years against individuals he encounters, to secure lasting loyalty; silence (Omerta), and to use against his victims later as necessary.

Could we suppose, taking things to their extreme, that Salmond’s about-face on his apparent loyalty to Trump Org., the defiance of Trump’s thwarted Islamophobic program, the row over the wind farm and the perceived slight of the Leader of the Free World no longer being considered to be an honorary Scotsman have penetrated the notoriously thin skin of the President, and earned poor Alex the dubious distinction of becoming the victim of a Mafia-style vendetta to destroy the career of the ebullient former cruise-ship entertainer?

Betrayal being the number one crime in the Trump playbook? And when Trump Org. has announced it plans further leisure developments in Scotland?

As Davidson writes:

“Some have argued that Trump didn’t knowingly break the law—that he was just impulsive and unfocussed and would, accidentally and without proper due diligence, end up working with crooks. My source told me that this was nonsense: of course Trump knew when he was breaking the law. “Come on. He was trained by fucking Roy Cohn.* Seriously.”

http://www.newyorker.com/news-desk/swamp-chronicles/where-will-the-trump-investigations-go-next?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jamieross/donald-trumps-right-hand-man-is-still-an-ambassador-for-scot

*By all accounts, Cohn was an absolute swine, acting as an implacable and cunning prosecutor in the notorious Joseph McCarthy anti-Communist “witch-hunt” hearings; an attorney for the brutal Gambino crime family, and a friend of Trump’s dodgy property developer father, Fred.

In a related earlier piece, however, Davidson recounts how he attended functions at Cohn’s grand mansion, that were almost royal garden parties; and where, like Trump, Cohn would insist on holding open sessions at which rich and influential men – policemen and judges among them – would step up to offer him effusive public praise, adulation that he wallowed in.

The extraordinary thing, Davidson says, is that unlike Trump’s Imperatorial cabinet meetings at which everyone is mercilessly forced to grovel and praise God for his existence and their jobs, Cohn’s guests genuinely seemed to mean it. For those who weren’t his victims, he seemed to offer loyal friendship and a likeable side.

And that’s the secret of success.

Something the thin-skinned and vindictive tinpot dictator, Trump never learned.

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/where-trump-learned-to-love-ritualized-flattery

x

“Instead of producing a potboiler one would have hoped Woodward might have credibly pursued the paths trodden by veteran Trumphunters, following the money to expose the dark underbelly of America’s worst ever President.”

Painting the skeletons pink

All America is agog at the publication in the failing New York Times of an op-ed piece by an anonymous contributor, described as “A senior member of the Trump administration”, calling the President out as an erratic and incompetent lunatic, whose wilder policy initiatives have to be buried by his staffers before they can do any harm.

The situation is being made very much worse by an incandescent Trump demanding the miscreant’s head on a platter, to be charged with “treason” (the irony escapes him). If he would only shut up and stop reacting like a child to these provocations, The Pumpkin opines, it might look a lot less like the accusations are true.

Nor is it helping, that the piece has come out only a day after the official publication date of “Fear”, the new “piss-and-tell” book about the churning guts of Trump’s White House by legendary investigative journalist, Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame). No collusion? Possibly not.

On Thursday, the supine BBC managed to find a queue of three Trump apologists, including the discreditable neofascist missing-link, Gorka (“why, oh why?” etc. – BBC listener), who all spouted the same incredible lines about what a great job the President is doing and this is all sour grapes from the lyin’ Democrats in cahoots with da fake nooze media.

Meanwhile Trump was saying pretty much the same thing, boasting about his historically high poll ratings. (He recently told one of his flashmob rallies that he didn’t know if they had polls in Abraham Lincoln’s time (they didn’t. Ed.), but if they did Trump’s ratings would be beating them….) He is insane, in case it hadn’t already occurred to you.

The latest WAPO/ABC polling puts him down at 36% national approval, by the way, with 52% thinking he’s a total trainwreck and 49% calling for his impeachment.

Anyone who knows anything about the workings of great newspapers like the NYT knows they don’t print unverified gossip from anonymized sources without very careful checking. They certainly don’t fake-up op-ed pieces of this seriousness themselves and then source them to non-existent senior members of the administration. Trump isn’t calling for them to be shut down because they tell lies about him.

Trump has now embarked on what one can only describe as a “witch hunt” to out the witch who wrote the piece, sparking fevered speculation as to the true identity of his critic – who, as a staunch Republican, hypocritically went out of his or her way to applaud some of the shittier “achievements” of the administration, such as the utterly cretinous trade policies, the wreckage of the public health insurance system, the vainglorious superfunding of the already bloated military, the rollback of consumer and environmental protections and the budget-busting $1.4 trillion giveaway to the party’s funders; none of which has added a jot of happiness to the lives of the vast majority of Americans.

So, for the past few days his closest advisors, a group known as “the adults in the room” have been rushing to deny responsibility. Many commentators are pointing at Vice-President Pence, on the basis of various clues, such as the use of the world “lodestar”, a metaphor Pence is constantly using; and the fact that he has gone off somewhere at this rather crucial time and had to send his fridge to a press conference*.

The Pumpkin’s betting is on Trump’s public defender, Rudy Giuliani – with help over the more difficult spellings. Trump is alleged to have said very terrible, almost shockingly terrible things to poor Rudy in the past, totally emasculating him, whenever the former mayor of New York’s TV performances have not defended the President sufficiently robustly.

Is this Rudy’s Revenge?

Whoever it is, Sessions, Kelly, whoever, given the reluctance of the debutant to step forward, doesn’t this look like a case of painting the skeletons pink? Should Trump go down any time soon, this individual will be able to step forth from the shadows, this ersatz Deep Throat, and proudly proclaim their patriotic instincts and innocence of the Trump stain. Look, my skeletons are still alive!

There is also, of course, the possibility that Trump himself commissioned the piece from a ghost writer, to take the wind out of Woodward’s sails – and sales. It wouldn’t be the first time he has misled the “enemies of the people” in this way; and none of the allegations of his bizarre behavior is original, they’ve all appeared in print before.

It’s a handy distraction, too, from the Congressional hearings on his pick for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh – who, when quizzed about any previous connections he may have had with anyone on Trump’s legal team, prevaricated that “he couldn’t remember” and asked his inquisitor, the forensic Senator Susan Harris, to suggest some legal names because he didn’t know any. So that’s a rubber stamp, then.

But who knows? It’s bound to come out soon enough.

In The Pumpkin’s view, it’s a shame Woodward’s book is being filleted by the media for the more lurid tales of life in the Trump White House, until it appears that they might be the major or possibly the only theme. I hadn’t budgeted for another Trump tome this month, I’m still pondering ordering Craig Unger’s House of Putin, House of Trump. At least it’s not just more in-house tittle-tattle, of which I have four volumes already.

We can all see from his forgetful behavior and manner of speaking that the President is senescent, almost certainly in the early stages of dementia. We sense too that he is annoyingly inept as an administrator, ignorant of foreign affairs, industry and economics; a vain, crass, incurious and demanding bully, a whining, childish, foul-mouthed solipsist with no regard for anyone other than himself and his own fatuous saloon-bar theories; that he has succeeded in life only through mendacity, extreme venality, adroit publicity and affecting the threatening posture of a Mafia chieftain. He has also revealed a surprising capacity for cowardice.

We know all that.

We already have a raft of books and articles based on the testimony of dozens of leaky insiders describing Trump’s manic outbursts, his “senior moments”, his impulsive policy-making and his horrible dietary habits. So I guess we shall just have to see what Mueller can do, while Trump furiously tries to undermine the credibility of the Russia investigation, brutalizes the Justice Department, slags-off the media and packs the courts with unqualified placemen.

Whatever finally comes out from Mueller may gain no traction at all among the Republican voters.

As the much-decorated doyen of investigative journalists, instead of producing a sensationalist potboiler one would have hoped Woodward might have credibly pursued the paths trodden by veteran Trumphunters like David Cay Johnson, Craig Unger and Adam Davidson, following the money to expose the dark underbelly of America’s worst and most corrupt ever President.

Because the real question few dare to ask is, what terrible secret is it, that he is apparently willing to destroy the presidency to protect?

Shall we ever be allowed to know?

*Younger readers, if any, might not recognise the reference to a Monty Python sketch. Carry on.)

x

Phooarh! Trump strikes out

“Never mind, Mr President, it can happen to anyone. Let’s get you all cleaned up…” (photo: Empirenews.net)

Despite his insistent promises to the adoring dumbfucks on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t have time to play golf because he’d be permanently in the Oval Office, “working my ass off for you” (massive cheer!), and a virulent campaign of Fox poo claiming his predecessor, Obama, was never off the golf course even during national crises (“he plays more even than a member of the PGA”) the website Trumpgolfcount reports that after just 590 days in office, the Fat Fibber has spent 349 days at his own golf resorts, while Obama managed only 328 days golfing in 8 years.

Total cost to the US taxpayer so far: $77 million. (Cost to local businesses forced by the security service to shut up shop while he plays, incalculable.)

But he works so hard – at least four hours a day including an hour for lunch, according to White House insiders – he surely deserves the time off. How else would his tacky resorts make any money?

x

GW: Wash me down and blow me!

Hawaii: “Back up to Category 3 strength on Thursday afternoon, Hurricane Olivia remains on a long-term course that looks increasingly likely to take it across the Hawaiian Islands. Located about 1200 miles west of Cabo San Lucas—and was heading west-northwest at 14 mph. Update (11:30 pm EDT Thursday): Olivia has now attained Category 4 strength, with top sustained winds of 130 mph.” (Wunderground) Weaker Hurricane Norman passed well to the north of the islands this week. Hawaii was battered last week by 135 mph Hurricane Lane bearing up to 53 cm of rain, the most powerful storm in a quarter of a century.

Guam: “Though it was just a minimum-strength tropical storm with 40 mph winds on Friday, Mangkhut promises to become a ferocious typhoon over the next few days. The system is surrounded by a large envelope of very moist air and it will be traveling over very warm SSTs of 29 – 30°C (84 – 86°F). …The Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicts that Manghut will rocket to typhoon strength by Sunday local time and will be a Category 4 typhoon by the time it nears Guam on Tuesday.” (Wunderground)

Bermuda: Hurricane Florence, which had strengthened into the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season, weakened to a Category 1 storm Thursday as it moved on a path toward Bermuda. As of 5 p.m. ET Thursday, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph but was expected to reintensify Friday, the National Hurricane Center said. Large swells from Florence are expected to hit Bermuda starting Friday. Life-threatening surf and rip tides are possible.” (CBS News)

Mexico: “Flooding in the city of Piedras Negras in Coahuila state, (on the Texas border) on 04 Sept. affected more than 10,000 residents. Around 20 people were forced to evacuate and stay in temporary accommodation. Roads in the area also suffered damage. No injuries or fatalities were reported. Local Civil Protection said that more than 150mm of rain fell from late Monday 03 Sept. to early Tuesday 04 Sept.” (Floodlist)

USA: “Kansas Governor, Jeff Colyer issued a state of disaster emergency declaration for five Kansas counties affected by flooding from 02 to 04 Sept. An estimated 300 people were displaced, with areas around Manhattan worst affected.” Over 9 inches of rain fell during the storm. (Floodlist) The east coast may feel the force of Hurricane Florence later in the week.

India: “At least 19 people have died in flood-related incidents in Uttar Pradesh since 01 Sept. Nearly 300 villages have been affected. Many of the deaths were a result of collapsing buildings or lightning strikes. Over 220 houses have been damaged or destroyed in the heavy rain and flooding over the last 4 days.

“The flood-hit south Indian state of Kerala has declared a health alert after 11 people died of leptospirosis or rat fever in the last two days (to 04 Sept.). Health officials in the state said there was no immediate cause for alarm and the situation was under control (! Ed.). Flooding has killed around 400 people in Kerala since June.” (BBC Weather)

Australia: Has been accused by Pacific nations of trying to water down the Boe Declaration on emissions reduction. “Dr Bill Hare, a lead author on the IPCC fourth assessment report, told Guardian Australia that Pacific leaders were growing increasingly disenchanted with Australia’s refusal to commit to cutting carbon emissions, even as their nations faced massive economic, physical and social disruption, even existential threat.”

UK: The Met Office has confirmed, 2018 was the hottest summer they’ve ever recorded in England, and the joint-hottest for the British Isles as a whole. The 10-day forecast from 08 Sept. is completely chaotic, although not extreme, as the huge loops currently in the jet stream break apart into separate segments and go spinning off over the course of the next week. Watch the BBC weatherman struggle to explain!

 

Scary corner

“Roundworms from two areas of (the Siberian permafrost) came back to life in Petri dishes, says a new scientific study. Some 300 prehistoric worms were analysed – and two ‘were shown to contain viable nematodes’.

“‘After being defrosted, the (possibly 42 thousand year-old) nematodes showed signs of life,’ said a report today from Yakutia, the area where the worms were found. ‘They started moving and eating.’

“Both are thought to be female.”

Siberian Times

 

Giving justice the bathtub treatment… St Theresa’s jungle interlude… When might the Jeremy mudslinging turn to violence?…GW: We’re singeing in the rain.

“Trying to understand superstition rationally is like trying to pick up something made of wood by using a magnet.” – Philip Pullman.

 

“…and then you pull tight on the arms, like this, and tie the straps around the back, so…”

 

“It is surely a fair question to ask what the hell is going on?”

Giving justice the bathtub treatment

As The Pumpkin wrote on 13 Aug last:

More interesting developments in the Trump obstruction of justice inquiry:

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

The process of witness tampering appears to be continuing, but with more sinister undertones. Maddow was reporting then on the ouster (as the Americans quaintly call it) of Peter Strzok, the FBI’s point man on Russian agents operating within the USA, earlier in the month.

Strzok was fired after a long series of abusive tweets from beneath the tiny thumbs of the American President, who seems to delight in these ad hominem attacks on individual citizens, in much the same way as my cat likes to confine live rodents in the bathtub, up whose smooth sides they cannot escape, and playfully torture them to death.

The official reason for Strzok’s firing was a series of emails he had sent in early 2016 to a colleague he was having an extramarital affair with, mildly criticizing – satirizing might be a better description – the crop of candidates vying for nomination in the presidential election race – among them, the thin-skinned and vindictive child-dotard, Donald J Trump.

Mr Strzok had already accepted a disciplinary penalty for the unprofessional conduct, and had acquitted himself well at a Congressional hearing that descended into pantomime when elderly Republican senators with closets no doubt rattling with skeletons started pushing him to apologize to his wronged wife; but we recall the earlier firing at the insistence of Trump of Andrew McCabe, the Deputy Director of the FBI, just one day before he would have qualified for his long-service pension. Hell hath no fury like Trump scorned.

Especially when he is terrified of being indicted on conspiracy charges.

And as Maddow and others pointed out, Strzok had unrivalled knowledge of the activities of the Russian intelligence community and their US agents; while McCabe was potentially a material witness in any future court hearing over former FBI Director, James Comey’s insistence that Trump ordered him to drop the inquiry into his national security advisor, General Mike T Flynn – now widely disregarded as having been a Russian “asset”.

White House counsel Don McGahn (note: the title is precise: he is NOT one of Trump’s personal clown-car legal team but is the senior lawyer responsible for matters to do with the building, staff, contractors, etc.) was fired at the weekend, in a tweet announcing his “resignation”, seemingly because Trump was pissed-off by the revelation that, unknown to him, although he pretended otherwise, McGahn (almost the last of the original “grown-ups”) had been co-operating extensively with the Mueller inquiry. As reported in The Guardian:

“Trump said in a tweet that McGahn would depart in the autumn, by which time the administration hopes to have installed Brett Kavanaugh on the supreme court. McGahn has taken a leading role in handling Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!” Trump said (delivering the coup de grace, or the old heave-ho).

As in fact he should: McGahn has performed sterling service in assisting Trump to pack lower US courts with conservative judges who might be sympathetic to him and his cronies; and in leveraging the corporate shill, Neil Gorsuch onto the bench of the Supreme Court. Despite grave doubts as to the circumstances surrounding Mr Justice Kennedy’s unexpected decision to retire, Kavanaugh’s appointment looks likely to go through on the nod, as no-one seems to have the stomach for a fight before the November mid-term elections.*

And the lawyer had been instrumental in the firing of Acting Attorney-General, Sally Yates, after she tried to warn the new President via McGahn that Flynn was a known security risk, and was ignored: presumably, the turn of events that the Mueller team were most interested in finding out more about. Again, his “ouster” by tweet could be seen as a warning to other White House staff to clam up or find themselves stacking shelves in Walmart.

The short-odds betting is that next to go will be the poison dwarf, Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump has never forgiven for recusing himself from the Russia investigations as a consequence of having had meetings he lied to Congress about, with the Russian ambassador, over the vexed question of maintaining sanctions on certain aggrieved oligarchs.

(After NBC’s Lester Holt**, Mr Kysliak was, of course, the second person Trump bragged to about having lifted the threat of the Russia investigation by firing Comey.)

Trump has spared no microdigital effort in abusing and belittling Sessions, and has frequently been reported screaming and wailing in fury about him; since Sessions, whose departure few will mourn, is mostly what stands in the way of his firing the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller; something McGahn allegedly warned him against trying.

With the barely noticed departure of the White House’s ethics lawyer, Stefan Passantino, the very next day, that advice clearly hasn’t gone down well either, adding to the impression that Trump is clearing the decks of all the annoying liferafts on what may soon prove to be the RMS Titanic.

Thus, Justice Department official, Bruce Ohr appears to be only one more name among the latest victims of a Trump-inspired witch hunt aimed at removing anyone who knows anything about Russian intelligence operations possibly touching on Trump’s election. As Wikipedia describes him:

“Bruce Genesoke Ohr (born March 16, 1962) is a United States Department of Justice official. A former associate deputy attorney general and former director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), as of February 2018 Ohr was working in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. He is an expert on transnational organized crime and has spent most of his career overseeing gang- and racketeering-related prosecutions, including Russian organized crime.”

In a slightly odd bit of Wiki editorializing, that has come from who-knows where, we also learn that:

“Ohr was little-known until 2018, when he became a subject of conservative conspiracy theories (that would be the sewer pipe of invention gushing from Trump’s pal, Sean Hannity, nightly on Fox News, then. Ed.) and Republican scrutiny over his purported involvement in starting the probe on Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was criticized by President Donald Trump. There is no evidence that Ohr was involved in the start of the Russia probe. According to a comprehensive review by ABC News, Ohr ‘had little impact on the FBI’s growing probe into Trump and his associates.'”

Those associates presumably include Mr Felix Sater, a former business partner and denizen of Trump Tower, from whom Trump has previously been keen to distance himself, despite what appears to be ample evidence of “collusion” between the two men. Sater has long been fingered by media sources as a soldier in the powerful Russian mafia clan of Semyon Mogilevitch, the FBI’s “world’s most wanted man”, widely believed to have been a white-knight investor in Trump’s failing Atlantic City casinos and properties in New York in the 1990s.

And it was Ohr who several years ago indicted Mogilevitch in his absence, on charges of murder, racketeering, money laundering, people trafficking… oh, you know, bad stuff.

It is surely a fair question to ask what the hell is going on?

“If you turn up for tea unannounced, don’t expect cake.”

  • How does initiating a perfectly legal inquiry into possible criminal malfeasance qualify an official for the Trump bathtub treatment, of personal intimidation and ultimately the loss of their career?
  • Why would Trump apparently rather risk impeachment for obstructing justice than allow the Justice Department to pursue allegations of which he asserts he will be fully exonerated – claiming fatuously that the investigation itself is illegal?
  • What primary loyalties does the President have, and to whom, that appear to be overriding his oath of loyalty to the American people?

The Wiki article has been smartly updated: only two days ago, Ohr was dragged into a closed session of the Congressional intelligence committee – the one chaired by the increasingly haunted-looking Senator Devin Nunes, who for more than a year has been desperately rushing around, inventing all sorts of fantastic reports and other “evidence” of Trump’s innocence and trying to get his own inquiry shut down.

The line of questioning seemed to revolve around Ohr’s – as far as anyone knows, non-existent – “collusion” with British former MI6 Russia specialist and private security consultant, Christopher Steele.

To that end, Sen. Nunes was reportedly to be found in London recently, pushing on doorbells at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, hoping to get some dirt on Steele, whose 35-page “dossier” on Trump and his multifarious connections to Russia continues to exercise the President’s fertile imaginings as to the source of the FBI and Mueller enquiries, that in fact began long before a concerned Steele sent his research to the FBI and it then somehow leaked to the Buzzfeed news website.

Needless to say, the febrile Nunes was sent away with a very British flea in his ear. If you turn up for tea unannounced, don’t expect cake.

Back in Washington, in the gruelling late-summer heat the stench of corruption, lies, intimidation, suspicions of treason and cover-up must be becoming unbearable.

But the Republicans continue to press wilting nosegays to their faces and, with downcast looks, scurry by.

*In the event the Kavanaugh hearing has dragged on, with more and more evidence emerging as to his past dubious decisions and possible background as a protector of a judge accused of serial sexual harrassment of staffers.

**Trump is now accusing NBC of editing (“fudging”) the self-incriminating Lester Holt interview, seen by millions, in much the same way he has pretended the “pussy-grabbing” tape was a fake and it isn’t him seen climbing into and out of the bus. What Trump said about firing Comey because of the Russia investigation is quite clearly visible and audible in one take in the interview, which is still available online. It’s another desperate lie that will only be believed by the Cult of the True Dumbfucks. He’s totally delusional.

 

St Theresa’s jungle interlude

Your Uncle Bogler has been remiss in taking little interest in Prime Minister, Theresa May’s adventures in Africa; other than noting that rarely does the media bother to separate the Dark Continent into its component nations, of which there appear to be no fewer than 54 currently internationally recognized.

It’s all just “Africa” to us white folks.

May: the “Hit me with your rhythm!” shtick. We tried to find a shot of the Maybot gettin’ down wid da kidz, but it seems she just couldn’t stop herself displaying her empathy to all and sundry.

For the past three days, long enough to see Africa in all its cultural homogeneity, Mrs May has been dragging around a trade delegation in the vain hope of belatedly catching up with the Chinese as the principal colonial power de nos jours. Three days, three vast countries should do it.

In our postcolonial shame, the European nations (supported by Mr Trump, whose knowledge of African affairs is confined to his recent spat with former “advisor” and fellow reality-show maven, Omarosa Manigault Newman, a name already fading from memory) have essentially ceded the lucrative development prospects for the mineral- and land-richest parts to Mr Xi’s “Belt and Road” project for global economic domination.

Five African nations are among the world’s fastest-developing, and it was to three of those – South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya – that Mrs May gave her full attention, being filmed several times (as if we did not get the first time that she is a real groovy hipster), jerking about in a bright red jacket like a splinter of bloodied wood, promising to scatter another £4 billion in aid from her magic money-tree if only the African “shadies in Mercedes” would also drum-up a few tariff-free trade deals to take the heat off her floundering Brexit strategy.

Some discussion on the Today program countered the views of the Brexiteers, that the EU imposes fierce trade barriers on African goods, that we could helpfully remove to everyone’s advantage were we out of it. Most trade we do with “Africa” under EU rules turns out to be relatively or entirely tariff-free already, apart from the vexed question of African sugar cane vs. European sugar beet production. The advice seemed to be that moving to World Trade Organization rules would actually worsen the situation qua African farmers.

Er… and that’s it, essentially. Britain’s tiny 0.7%-of-GDP aid budget, invariably resented on behalf of their uninformed and begrudging readers by the professional grumblers at the Mail, is henceforth not to be spent, either to feed the very poor or the very rich, nor yet on emancipatory programs for religiously corralled womenfolk; but on global security, the outing of child slavers and molesters and the sending of other helpful advice about important matters Africans don’t yet understand. To that end, we are to install a branch of GCHQ, or something like it, a call-centre possibly, in Kenya someday.

In other words, the “Africa” aid budget is henceforth to be spent on us.

Much difference it will continue to make.

 

Middle East

When might the mudslinging turn to violence?

“The relevant agency involved is considered to be the strategic-affairs ministry, a government department set up in 2006 whose main function is to minimise threats from, primarily, anti-Israel movements abroad…. The ministry is likely to be fulfilling its duty to the state by helping any opposition to Corbyn. It may be many months or even years before the extent of such help becomes clear.”

Open Democracy’s strategic affairs editor, Paul Rogers, has written what to this elderly blogger appears to be a rational and balanced account of the likely investment of the Israeli state in the current campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and the efforts to brand him and half his party “anti-Semites”. It may be found at:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/netanyahu-s-corbyn-problem?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5ab663bdf5-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-5ab663bdf5-408090269

We at the BogPo have frequently queried the value of such pejorative labelling. Sticks and stones, and so on. The higher you go up the political food chain, the greater I suppose must be the impact. I have no animus whatever against Jewish people, but I have from time to time raised an unwarranted Imperial eyebrow over the inequitable and often brutal treatment of Palestinian natives by representatives of the “Settler state”.

It seems the Israelis have no intention of living in a peaceful and harmonious relationship with anyone, but have retained since the wars of the 1960s a habitually aggressive, massively well-armed, self-defensive militaristic posture based on the edgiest of relationships, not only with neighboring states and the rest of the world, but with their own internalized, demonized “Other”: the native Palestinian minority.

I suppose if anyone read those pieces they would immediately cry “witch!” – a shorter term for “anti-Semite”. And frankly, I don’t give a toss. Call me anything you like, but don’t decry or deny my right to write what is in my heart. I’m not some kneejerk lefty, I firmly believe Mr Corbyn’s tenuous reign over a divided opposition party with no clear strategy on anything is an utter shambles. He has ruinously split the Labour movement, given free rein to a malicious anarcho-syndicalist tendency we thought had gone away forever; while he himself is a tiresome, supercilious old backbench sniper who has spent a political lifetime being a reactionary pain in the arse and can’t lose the habit.

There seems to be no centre to him.

On Palestinian rights, however, I cannot help but agree with him; since that is a position I have held since before I was even aware of his existence. And that is not a defence of terrorism, any more than is the historical reminder from time to time that Israel is a State founded on terrorism, committed both by and against the Jewish majority. This is no time for self-righteousness.

Where my opinion shades into that area where cries of “anti-Semitism!” are loudest and sharpest, is in my view that dividing a nation into first and second-class citizens and walling-up large numbers of the latter in secure enclaves, of the kind we are not supposed to call “ghettoes”, depriving them of the means to thrive, inflicting condign punishment on them for the feeblest of acts of resistance, are evils learned from the tenets of late 1930s German nationalism; lessons from history that perhaps ought not to be repeated as policy in any civilized, modern country.

That such behaviors are also characteristic of the attitudes of successive governments of the United States of America for over 250 years in respect – or for lack of it – of their native tribal minorities, colonized, brutalized and reduced at the hands of settlers in their relentless quest for land and treasure, and latterly of their large African slave population even post-emancipation, offers perhaps a sidelong glance at the close bond enjoyed between the two nations.

Your Uncle Bogler is therefore content to have his prejudices reinforced by Mr Rogers’ thoughtful article. It will be so easy for the “Zionists” or however you want to brand Ambassador Regev, Rabbi Sachs (a deeply furrowed man, who is forever crying “witch” on critics of Israel, even our finest satirists, from the best of protective motives no doubt); anti-Corbyn nemesis Margaret Hodge, and the legion of apologists and fellow travellers here and in the USA, to cry “anti-Semitism!” on Open Democracy; as contributors no doubt soon will.

Easy to spin Paul Rogers’ article as a paraphrasis of the old global conspiracy myth, that is being attached by resurgent quasi-fascists the world over to poor Mr Soros, who has only ever tried to help (except when his depradations on Wall Street damn near wrecked the British economy).

It is increasingly impossible to say anything about the matter; we recall that the poisonous Regev last year succeeded in preventing even a Holocaust survivor from speaking, for she was daring to use the N-word in her criticisms of the Israeli government. Such bullying and suppression of the right to voice one’s criticisms freely is becoming as commonplace as is the supposed “anti-Semitism” of the Labour movement, that has traditionally battled all forms of racism in the streets, in the factories  and on the hustings. What has changed? Little, I suspect; other than the leader and his famous appearances throughout his career on all the “wrong” radical platforms alongside reprehensible men of violence.

Sorry, but that does not make him one of them; any more than having to entertain the Mugabes and the Ceausescus and the Trumps makes HM the Queen a brutal dictator or a corrupt fabulist. It is surely only Corbyn’s judgement, not his morals, that is suspect.

Mention of an Israeli government department dedicated to preventing the election of a pro-Palestinian British Prime Minister – I am always amused by the importance former dominions still attach to Britain’s faded global glories – is bound to excite the pro-Semitic glands of the British wing of the Tel Aviv lobby and the Board of British Deputies.

Let’s not risk the Z-word either: as Rogers reminds us, there are Christian Zionists aplenty in the perfervid, Trump-voting alternative reality of the US Bible-belt. The Z-word, to its opponents, is simply code for settlement, more illegal settlement, giving no quarter – the imposition of a religiously apartheid state and the vision of a shining city upon a hill. In essence, though, all moral authority has been abandoned on the bonfire of Mr Netanyahu’s bluff realpolitik.

All one can do is point helplessly to the nobler aspirations of the founder, ben-Gurion; and to the Proclamation of Independence by the Provisional Government of Israel:

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

Is it too “anti-Semitic” to call “bullshit” on the present regime, that continues to flout every single one of those hopeful promises of the founders? Who will naturally say, “well, these Palestinians, whoever they are, we are not responsible, have brought misery upon their own heads by not respecting the primacy of the ingathered exiles in our own land; which, of course, was promised to us by our exceedingly vengeful God. We, on the other hand, have made the desert bloom… thus, we shall continue to destroy the olive groves of the ungrateful, bulldoze their villages, murder their children and punish their desire for self-determination”.

To quote again finally from Rogers, summarising the views of the pro-Israel lobby group in the US calling itself innocently, “The Middle East Forum”:

“The message is clear: in the contest between Israelis and Palestinians, the former is the victor – and there will never be a two-state solution. In this view, any talk of peace can only mean that Palestinians in Israel, the occupied territories, and elsewhere, must accept whatever Israel decides about their future. That is the reality and there is no alternative.”

And judged by his every word and deed, that is clearly the view of Mr Trump, whose foreign policy is bent to the service of his personal enrichment, and that of his indebted son-in-law, Mr Kushner.

Unless Mr Regev and the rest are willing to claim that their statist policies are uniquely those of the Semitic peoples (to which Palestinians, incidentally, also belong) and of the Hebraic religion, which would be a strange thing to acknowledge, they can scarcely complain that to oppose such policies out of conviction and a sense of fairness is an attack upon them personally, on their religious beliefs, their customs and habits, their place and rights in society; perhaps, even a call for widespread cemetery-desecration, pogroms and worse.

The two are simply not to be conflated; and, frankly, I cannot see how the present and growing tensions are being eased by the flinging about of wild assertions, showboating by certain individuals, and the growing intransigence being shown by both sides in what seems to me a very silly political argument, behind which far more sinister forces are lurking.

 

GW: We’re singeing in the rain

USA: powerful storm with 90 mph winds knocks down trees and power lines and damages buildings, leaving 100 thousand homes without electricity and some without gas supplies, across a swathe of Michigan on 28 Aug. (Local press reports) Thanks to a perturbation of the jetstream, the heatwave plaguing the far west for months has lurched eastwards, with 5 wimpish men players retiring from the US Open tennis at Flushing Meadow owing to 38C, 100F degrees heat and lethal humidity. (BBC)

Atlantic: “A strong tropical wave that emerged from the coast of Africa on Thursday morning is likely to develop into Tropical Storm Florence by Friday” (31 Aug – moving towards the Cape Verde islands). Favoring development of Potential Tropical Cyclone 6 are warm sea surface temperatures, while wind shear over the eastern tropical Atlantic is a moderate 10 – 15 knots. And: “A tropical wave located on Thursday afternoon near the Dominican Republic was headed west to west-northwest at 10 – 15 mph. This system has the potential to develop into a tropical depression next week in the Gulf of Mexico. A flood advisory was in effect for much of Puerto Rico on Thursday afternoon (30 Aug).” (Wunderground)

Mexico: Extensive flooding followed heavy rain in Sonora County on the 23rd. The town of Nogales was badly affected. Flash flooding was also reported on the 26th at Junquito, near Caracas in Venezuela. Images show cars and people washed away.

China: Typhoon Rumbia brought intense rainfall and flash floods in the east of the country; cities of Huanan and Shendong affected. In Taiwan, 7 people died in flooding and landslides on 23 Aug, following intense rainfall measured at up to 1.2 meters in 24 hrs in some mountainous areas. “Violent waves caused five cargo ships and oil tankers to run aground off Kaohsiung Harbour.” (Floodlist add)

Japan: After Typhoon Cimaron passed over the island of Shikoku, already downgraded to a tropical storm,13 people were left injured and many properties damaged. It’s due to make landfall again in Korea on 31 Aug. Flights were grounded and 180 thousand homes left without power. Heavy rain is continuing, with rates recorded over 130mm/hr. BUT….

“Supertyphoon Jebi (maximum Cat 5, now north of Guam) is expected to track northwest toward Japan over the weekend. Meteorologists are predicting that Jebi will make landfall to the east coast of Japan by Tuesday, September 4. Although the winds will have weakened from the severe 165mph, they will still be a strong 105mph when Jebi makes land.” (Express). Jebi is the most powerful storm of the current season so far.

Thailand: images emerging of the extensive flooding caused by TS Bebinca twelve days ago, as the river Nan burst its banks.

Ukraine: The city of Lviv was extensively flooded on the 16th.

(Most of the above: CEWN #134)

Myanmar: “Monsoon rains have caused a dam to overflow, inundating the nearby township of Swar and surrounding villages. At least 50,000 people are thought to have evacuated their homes during the early hours of 29 Aug. (Reuters). Images on social media show teams from fire services and military helping to evacuate people from flooded areas.” (Floodlist)

Sweden: Cooler weather arriving just days ago seems to have ended the hottest three months on record for much of the country – and the worst wildfire season. Barbecue restrictions have been lifted. The national weather bureau reports that Stockholm had its highest average temperature (day and night) over the summer, at 22.5C. Hästveda in southern Sweden claimed the record for the hottest overall temperatureof 34.6C, 94F on 26 July. (The Local, Sweden)

Wildfires: With almost 1 million acres burned, the wildfire season in British Columbia, Canada is already the second worst on record – after 2017. Over 600 fires are still burning and air quality in Vancouver is off the scale for unbreathability. Meanwhile, the drought in New South Wales, Australia is continuing, and spring wildfires are plaguing the state again. NASA images show fires burning all around the globe, especially in regions where farmers burn stubble – central Africa is a mass of flame and smoke from this dumb practise.

 

In a searing speech delivered on Thursday night during a visit to Sydney, Tuilaepa Sailele, prime minister of Samoa, called climate change an “existential threat … for all our Pacific family” and said that any world leader who denied climate change’s existence should be taken to a mental hospital. (Guardian)

 

The Pumpkin, Issue 61: Cheeseburger dreams… Why is my brain disintegrating so?…GW: blow me down and frazzle me sideways

Quote of the week:

“Wine is not an investment if you drink it as soon as you buy it.” (Former managers suing Johnny Depp claim he has ‘compulsive spending disorder’. Seems perfectly sound to me.)

 

“Look out chaps, it’s the long arm of the law!” (Photo BBC)

“It’s beginning to look like a one-man production of Macbeth.”

Cheeseburger dreams….

So much of the reporting around the affairs of Trump and his frankly scummy-looking business interests is effectively buried by his daily more atrocious antics and lost from sight.

The Washington Post today (24 Aug) for instance is forced to go to the trouble of dismantling his diversionary attack on South Africa where, he believes, white farmers are being killed for their land as a matter of government policy: another “dog whistle” of encouragement to American racists on a claim entirely bereft of truth or facts, a story based on the alternative truths and facts plugged by Mr Tucker Carlson of Fox News.

This nonsense is eating up some of the newstime that would otherwise be devoted to his imbecilic interview on Fox & Friends in which Trump says he knows stuff because he watches lots of TV, illegal campaign donations in the form of hush money are “not a crime” (because it was his own money!), he barely knew his attorney for ten years, and if he were to be impeached the economy would collapse because it all derives from his thought process (pointing to his head!).

And then in the middle of the night he apparently woke up and tweeted just this: “NO COLLUSION! RIGGED WITCH HUNT!” in all-caps, before falling back into an uneasy slumber. Cheeseburger dreams….

It’s beginning to look like a one-man production of Macbeth.

No-one seems to know what scandal, if any, will eventually bring him down. His support base continues to greet his rambling, dissembling, self-pitying rally speeches with rapturous applause; despite, or more probably because of, their increasingly repetitious nature. “Witch hunt!”… “Crooked Hillary!”… “Fake Nooze!”… “Lock her up!” And now, “Truth isn’t Truth”… They really don’t care what he is or says, so long as he is not what they had before. Only he is, but worse….

Reading through a Post from April 2017, The Pumpkin happened across a commentary we had written about one of the many shady byways of the Trump business empire; citing a report on The Intercept by investigative journalist, Alan Nairn that his then Director of Deregulation, the self-deregulating, asset-stripping billionaire and Wolf of Wall Street, Carl Icahn, was attempting to foment a rebellion to depose the president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, to prevent him imposing environmental controls on his mining interests, in favour of a business ally of Trump’s; and that to this end he was backing a local militia associated with the Islamic State.

The alarming nature of the assertion seems to have passed everyone by; the rebellion appears not to have got very far, but Trump’s business interest in the region is still ongoing

“Mr. Hary (full name Hary Tanoesoedibjo) attended Mr. Trump’s inauguration last year and stayed at his Trump International Hotel in Washington. He also arranged for two Indonesian power brokers to meet with Mr. Trump in Trump Tower, including the then-Parliament speaker, Setya Novanto, who was sentenced last month to 15 years in prison for his part in embezzling more than $170 million from a national identity card program.

“Mr. Trump has reported receiving between $2 million and $10 million in royalties from the project.” – NYT, 15 May 2018.

You see, it’s not just Russia.

A book out this month by a conservative former Republican party strategist, Rick Wilson, is titled: “Everything Trump touches dies”, which may be true, although the best that can be said for him (so far) is that the Orange Don has never been accused of actually rubbing anyone out, preferring symbolic acts of execution by lethal tweet.

Certainly, every business deal Trump touches via his globally active Trump Organization (props. pro tem., Donald Jr, Eric and Ivanka Trump) does seem to be accidentally peripheral to the most astounding criminality and corruption: deals like the notorious Trump Baku, Azerbaijan hotel project, hastily abandoned; its financing linked by the excellent Adam Davidson, staff writer at The New Yorker magazine, via corrupt local kleptocrat, Zia Mammadov to a proscribed terrorist organization, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard; and a Trump Georgia, Black Sea development involving two local oligarchs accused of lending each other money via a bank they secretly owned together.

He does seem to have bad luck with his business partners.

Trump’s involvement licensing his name to the billionaire Hary Tanoesoedibjo’s project (fingers in many pies and political aspirations) to build a ‘6-star’ leisure resort 50 miles south of Jakarta, complete with two golf courses, formed the basis of a report in the New York Times last May, quoted above; and may have led to a curiously anomalous decision he made to order his Commerce Secretary, the reportedly profoundly corrupt* oligarch and Trump family consigliere, Wilbur Ross, to lift sanctions specifically on a Chinese tech company, WZT, linked with the financing of the project.

For he was caught on the horns of a dilemma, hoist with his own petard, pick any self-destructive metaphor you like, when his cynical and retributive trade war with China began to conflict directly with his business interest, as far as Chinese investment (as part of President Xi’s ambitious “Belt and Road” global development initiative) was concerned.

Had he the education, Trump might well have adopted The Sun King, Louis X1V’s slogan, “L’État, c’est moi” (I am the State). For just as he seems to imagine the government works for him, and the Justice Department ought to, his America First! foreign policy seems inextricably entangled with his personal business ambitions.

As Mother Jones reported in January 2017:

“…when it comes to his own business deals, Trump’s actions don’t exactly align with his hawkish rhetoric. In the past, he has tried repeatedly to land big real estate deals in China with state-run Chinese companies as partners. He’s sought access to China’s famously tricky business markets—even for his reality TV show, The Apprentice.

“Trump still owes potentially hundreds of millions in debt to one massive, state-run Chinese bank, while leasing a floor of Trump Tower office space in Manhattan to another….”

If it is not a conflict of interest for the President of one country, who personally owes half a billion dollars to a State-owned bank in another, to impose arbitrary and punitive trade tariffs on that other country, I can’t really say what might be.

Of course, his famous MAGA hats and many of Ivanka’s “fashion” range items are cheaply made in China, putting America First!; while Mr Xi has been generous in ensuring that recognition of their many trademark applications has been prioritized in his commerce department, a process that normally takes Westerners years to battle through.

It’s a complicated relationship.

Amid the furore that has been caused by his personal lawyer and bagman, Michael Cohen’s guilty plea this week, implicating Trump under oath as a co-conspirator to make illegal payments out of campaign funds to silence two of Trump’s former mistresses; the Manafort trial, and the lawyerly gossip on the TV news panels about indictments and impeachment: who’s spilling their guts to the Mueller investigation, and what they might be saying, these dubious international activities involving possible breaches of the foreign Emoluments clause – essentially, the President’s employment contract forbids him from making undeclared earnings abroad – sanctions-busting, and money-laundering have simply got buried.

Today, however, MSNBC is reporting that while it may prove tricky to indict a sitting president on felony charges, a tidal wave is building from the New York Attorney-General’s office, based largely on the vast amount of evidence on paper and “tapes” seized in the FBI’s raids on Cohen’s properties, against Trump’s tax-exempt charity foundation and its trustees, Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka, for illegal use of funds in a variety of ways you may find already sourced in previous Posts on this website and extensively elsewhere.

As Rachel Maddow observes, if they can’t get at Trump himself, they can certainly get at his businesses, his “charities” and his children….

It now appears that when Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130 thousand payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, there is paper evidence and a signature to show he ordered the money to come out of his private charity foundation; a “tape” has him telling Cohen to “pay cash”…. thus linking two technically illegal payments he ought not to have made to the benefit of his own election campaign. Observers have also noted that Trump may have lied when he said he had no prior knowledge of the payment, since he so clearly did.

Cohen was subpoena’d again yesterday (22 Aug) to explain the Foundation’s activities to the tax authorities, as he had apparently arranged the repayments by instalments as tax-deductible expenses (!). He was reportedly on the phone to the IRS personally within minutes, asking for a meeting (he’s out on bail pending sentencing on the illegal campaign donations charges).

Trump, as we know, personally coughed up $25 million in advance of the election to buy off a New York district court arraignment on the matter of the bogus Trump University, in compensation payments to litigants who had been cheated of fees of up to $35 thousand apiece in exchange for a meaningless paper “degree” in real-estate management. The Pumpkin anticipates soon learning where that payment may really have come from, given Trump’s famous reluctance to actually pay any bill from his own pocket.

Then, charges in 2016 of misrepresentation in the matter of property sales against Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, were mysteriously made to go away. As a trustee of his Foundation, who presumably therefore authorized the illegal payments, Trump’s favorite daughter may not be so lucky this time.

And that will surely drive the beleaguered President out of his tiny Chinese mind.

http://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/world/asia/trump-hotel-china-indonesia.html

theintercept.com/2017/04/18/trumps-indonesian-allies-in-bed-with-isis-backed-militia-seeking-to-oust-elected-president/

*www.marketwatch.com/story/wilbur-ross-alleged-to-have-siphoned-more-than-120-million-from-associates-forbes-report-2018-08-07

 

TYT reports that Trump has tweeted his delight that 90 per cent of Republicans (about 35 per cent of all voters) approve the job he’s doing and “52 per cent overall”. It’s all a bit sad, really, as the poll he’s quoting actually says 52 per cent overall think he’s doing a terrible job. But again he accuses the fake news media of lying about his numbers.

Two truths.

 

Why is my brain disintegrating so?

“Air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, according to new research…. It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education. … The longer people were exposed to dirty air, the bigger the damage to intelligence, with language ability more harmed than mathematical ability and men (especially over 65) more harmed than women.”

– From a report in The Guardian, 28 Aug.

Long ago and far away, I had a job writing a three-minute news bulletin and broadcasting it on the hour, with a slimmed-down set of headlines on the half-hour. Dutifully, I would scour my limited range of sources of stories, national and international, and put out a fresh script every hour, to maintain the listeners’ interest.

The listeners being some 20 thousand workers, mostly from ethnic minority communities, within a group of factories baking biscuits and small cakes for the grocery trade, trapped at their workstations standing seven hours a day next to a loudspeaker shared between two. (The idea had been sold to the directors by a small firm manufacturing loudspeakers.)

The factories operated a three-shift system around the clock. The rest of the station’s 24-hour output consisted of pop, bhangra and soul music, including requests; creative “infomercials”, which the rotating team of ten presenters (and sometimes me) wrote and produced, encouraging safety and hygiene, and the occasional management announcement – although those were few, as a matter of policy the management were to be seen to be as hands-off as possible. So innovative were we, the New Musical Express began publishing our “chart” every week, based on the numbers of requests we received.

My own shift ran from 6 a.m. to 6.15 p.m, Monday to Friday, and from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, with one week’s holiday a year. My commute to work was 12 miles on a 50cc Honda, and the pay was £21 a week. After a year or so I was crazy with lack of sleep, but had become so adept at this extreme endeavor that I was able to concentrate between bulletins on more important things, namely the attempting of cryptic crosswords.

My ambition became to complete the main cryptic crosswords in three serious newspapers: The Times, The Telegraph and The Guardian, by lunchtime. Occasionally I was successful, oftentimes not. But by teatime, after another year had gone by I could usually manage all three.

You need a modicum of intelligence, a good wit, a little deviousness and – helpfully – a classical education to do cryptics. But mainly, you just need to learn a few simple rules that all crossword compilers feel bound to follow; standard verbal tics and tricks that point you towards the method by which to solve each individual clue.

An anagram, for instance, might be signposted by the word “scrambled”, or “confused” in the clue, telling you to look for a combination of letters of the right length. The rest of the clue will define the word you need for the answer. It helps, too, if you have solved another clue whose “lights” (the white squares) intersect, giving you at least one letter to work with.

Now approaching my 70th year I live, as your Uncle Bogler has frequently moaned, in a tiny cottage* of just four rooms, set back within a few feet of a thundering arterial road in the outskirts of a bustling seaside town. As time goes by, the volume of traffic, alternately speeding and static depending on the time of day and the season of the year, both private and commercial, continues to grow beyond intolerable proportions; there being a desperate need for a bypass no-one has the political will or the cash to have built.

During the seven years I have been here, six of them spent in a vain attempt to sell the place to somebody better suited to the urban life, I realize as my health, both physiological and mental, deteriorates that environmental factors have been playing a significant part in my rapid disintegration. Not the least of them, the unpreventable leakage of artificial sunshine from three of the new, daylight halogen units sleep-deprivingly blazing all night outside my bedroom.

Where last year, as an actor of growing repute, I was still hurling myself about the stage with joyful abandon, in the course of the last six months I have gone blind in one eye – twice – with limited success in having the sight surgically restored; while I am now catheterized and strapped to a bag, occasionally pissing down my leg or bleeding alarmingly, as the result both of an oversized prostate having cut off the normal flow of urine, and of there being only one part-time urologist serving the elderly population of the entire county, whose waiting-list stretches to the gates of Eternity.

Last March, I endured my first proper streaming head-cold in as many years as I can remember, with a cough that settled on my chest and persisted into June. All last year I had a condition ironically known as “dry eye”, where one’s eyes are continually weeping; and some inscrutable digestive problem that would wake me regularly at 6.30 a.m. with a sharp gnawing sensation like rats tunneling their way out of my gurgling abdomen, regardless of what time I had eaten the night before, that could only be relieved by adopting the foetal position.

To add to all that has been an increase in aches and pains and localized vague feelings of unwellness, especially in the area of the kidneys, only partly relieved by replacing my mattress last week with a firmer one; and a persistent breathlessness unrelated to any exertion. Clearly, there is pollution: as I observe the sky over our little river valley that often appears bright and sunny, with a little effort beneath the dome of cerulean blue can be discerned a supporting arch of brown.

But it is your Uncle’s mental state that is giving him concern; and thus, the report with which we began this item, has both relevance and reassurance. Paranoid, riddled with anxieties, fearful of travel beyond the home and a small selection of familiar byways, wearing, as I have remarked, a groove in the world; unable to concentrate, fixated on YouTube and the horror in the White House, my mind is disintegrating: not because it is rapidly aging, or as a result of its consumption of alcohol, but obviously because its host is being slowly poisoned by the endless stream of bloody cars, all going nowhere important, and huge 32-tonne, 16-wheeler lorries blocking out the sky, heading for the town’s supermarkets, the dust from their brakes leaving an ash-gray coating over everything; the fronts of the houses black with soot from their filthy exhausts.

As it happens, I have not tried to do a crossword for some years now, and have gone rusty. Last night, turning idly to the inside back-page of my copy of The Oldie magazine on my bedside table, the allure of the “Moron” standard puzzle proved too great and I decided to have a go. I completed it in about ten minutes, despite making a significant error that held me back on the last two clues for a further half-hour.

Abandoning it unfinished, I switched out the light and settled down to sleep; and a minute later, switched the light back on as the solution to the last clue had immediately proposed itself. Encouraged by this success, I turned then to the “Genius” level cryptic puzzle, of the kind that long ago I would have eaten for breakfast.

Dear Readers, Spammers, Likers, etc., I was immediately baffled by the absence of several clues that should have been given in numerical order. The numbers were missing. I managed to get a few easy ones, but nothing would lead to anything else. The setters have been getting cleverer. I have never been a great reader of instructions, so I now turned to the top of the page to see what on earth was going on, and found the following paragraph:

“This year marks the 200th anniversary of the creation of a work by a person whose name is given by three unclued entries. Each of eight clues consists of definitions of two words of different lengths; in each case, one letter is removed from the longer word to create the shorter one, which is the answer to be entered in the grid. Solvers (who they? Ed.) should place the removed letters outside the grid, in the positions they would occupy if the grid were extended, to reveal the first word of the title’s work in English….” And so on.

By this time, my addled brain was swimming. It was as if I were being asked to assemble a chest of drawers from Ikea, without an Allen key and blindfold. I read and re-read the words, but they still made no sense.

I have long given up reading books, especially with small print, as I had become bored with reading and re-reading the same paragraph, over and over again, completely unable to absorb its meaning. Now here was a complex set of instructions, telling me I needed to solve clues without being given the clues, or even the numbers of the clues…. I just could not compass it, things being made worse possibly by the bottle of well-chilled Chardonnay with which I had washed down my frozen battered cod balls-and-chips, followed by a nightcap.

With many groans, I awoke at all the usual times, toddling off to the bathroom by the light of the street lamps, my “night bag” trailing on the floor behind me – for some silly reason nothing percolates while I am lying down, I still have to get up and go, assisted by the force of gravity and a painful contraction or two.

At 6.30 I grit my teeth and assume the foetal position as the rats awake and begin to gnaw. No more clues have answered themselves in the night, nothing stirs in the addled brain as the noise of the early morning traffic, by whose growing volume I can pretty accurately tell the time, begins to assume rush-hour proportions.

I switch on the Today program at three minutes to seven, to catch the weather. And there on the news is the story of the Chinese research, the pollution and the brain-damage, and I turn over and shut my eyes tight, scarce daring to breathe the polluted air, hoping to avoid hearing yet another interview with Iain Cunting-Smith giving his vast and airy opinions of gang warfare on London’s streets, his disastrous welfare reforms or his beloved fucking Brexit, the moron, feeling the hard plastic tube tugging painfully on my bladder as I have forgotten it is there, entangled in my aching legs – hoping for some release.

*I have also recently read that the average new-build home is only two square meters larger in surface area than my “tiny” Victorian laborer’s cottage. I am giddy with a sense of space.

 

Infrared image: Hurricane Lane (below, in red, green and blue). Tiny Big Island, above, centre – in outline.

GW: blow me down and frazzle me sideways

Hurricane Lane: the story so far

Wednesday 22: “The (absolutely enormous) Category 4 storm is barrelling towards Hawaii with savage winds of up to 156mph and is expected to hit the southwestern tip of Big Island at around 7pm BST tomorrow (8am local time), 24 Aug. Emergency services are on high alert and officials have warned of “significant impacts” even if the hurricane does not directly hit Hawaii.” (Express) (Actually, part of the threat posed by Lane is that it’s moving at only 6 mph and will consequently hang around dumping rain for many hours.)

Already, p.m. 23 Aug, heavy rain has caused landslides and a number of roads have been closed. The US navy has evacuated its ships from Pearl Harbor and has them standing by at sea ready for emergency relief efforts. Governor David Ige has complained: “Lane is not a well-behaved storm”. That’s saying something. (UPI) “Overall, we can expect widespread 10” to 20” amounts, as already observed on the eastern Big Island, and we would not be shocked to see a few localized storm totals in the 30” – 50” range.” (Bob Henson, Wunderground)

Ten to 20-in rain fell on Big Island in advance of the hurricane arriving. (Photo: Jessica Hendricks, AP, via Wunderground)

Friday 24: “As if the Lane situation weren’t complex enough, a new disturbance about 300 miles to the east developed enough convection and spin on Thursday to be classified as Invest 95C.” (Wunderground) This growing tropical storm could eventually catch up and merge with the outer bands of Lane, which is rapidly weakening at the centre, to produce even greater rainfall totals over the Hawaiian islands.

Saturday 25: “Hurricane Lane … continued to trigger an array of havoc across the Hawaiian Islands. Torrential rains were spreading northward across Oahu to Maui after Lane’s outer rainbands dropped more than 30” on parts of the Big Island, where flooding was described by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center as “catastrophic”. Meanwhile, “two fast-moving wildfires broke out on Friday in the drier downslope flow along Maui’s west coast, causing at least one injury (covering 300 acres).” (Wunderground).

Thousands of homes have been left without power. Apparently, only surfers were having a good time on the 30-foot storm surge, but upper-level wind shear conditions and the glancing blow on land have ripped Lane to bits and with maximum windspeeds now below 70 mph the monster storm has been downgraded to a very wet remnant TS. A threat of flooding from the Ala Wai canal in downtown Honolulu still remains.

Update, 26 Aug: downgraded to TD. Huge hurricane just fizzles out! “Peak rainfall totals on the eastern Big Island topped 40” at three stations, adding up to amounts that are among the highest ever observed in a tropical cyclone in the 50 U.S. states. – the highest rainfall thus far, as reported by weather.com, was at Mountain View, in the higher elevations of the Big Island, which received 51.53 inches of rain from 22 – 26 Aug (72 hr total). Less damage than expected.” (Wunderground)

Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Invest 95C was last reported (23 Aug) 550Km SE of Honolulu. (Meteoi) Bob Henson at Wunderground writes that the slow-to-start Atlantic hurricane season is entering its normally busiest period with depressions starting to move out of Africa unable as yet to achieve spin due to high winds in the upper atmosphere, but sea temperatures are rising and wind-shear weakening and it is only a matter of time before “Florence” (the first name available) is bound to form as a potentially dangerous Cape Verde hurricane.

Japan: Typhoon Soulik crossed over Honshu island Wednesday 23 Aug on its way to batter Korea. President Moon Jae-in called local governments to get ready for the powerful storm and take all necessary actions to keep people safe. Behind it, Typhoon Cimaron made landfall in the Tokushima Prefecture of Japan and is moving on across the island of Shikoku towards Honshu. (Express, UPI and others.) Associated Press reported one death and one injury from Soulik in South Korea, although a change in direction spared the capital; while hundreds of flights were cancelled across western Japan. Remnants of Lane may follow the same trajectory later next week.

Taiwan: “7 people have died as a result of torrential rain and flooding, 23-26 Aug, including 3 who died in the city of Kaohsiung when scaffolding fell from a building. As many as 116 people were injured and around 6,000 people were evacuated. …numerous locations recorded more than 700 mm of rain in 24 hours and some over 900 mm.” (Floodlist)

Afghanistan: “at least 11 people have died in flash floods in the eastern province of Kunar, along the border with Pakistan. Eight of the victims were from the same family. The flooding also damaged farmland, livestock and crops”. (Floodlist)

USA: Up to 15.3 inches of rain fell on Dane County, near Madison, Wisconsin in one 24-hour period, 20 to 21 Aug. Flash flooding closed roads and damaged properties. (Floodlist)

Sudan: “Heavy rains since mid-July have caused severe flooding. As many as 8,900 families have been displaced. As of 16 August the floods and rain had left at least 23 people dead, over 60 injured and affected more than 70,000 people in 7 different states.” (Floodlist)

Germany: A major forest fire has broken out near the capital. “The blaze, which began on Thursday afternoon (23 Aug), spread quickly overnight to engulf 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of forest between the Brandenburg town of Treuenbrietzen and village of Jüterborg, 39 miles (63km) south-west of the German capital, Berlin.” (Guardian) Firefighters are being hampered by unexploded munitions dating from WW2, while a thick plume of smoke has drifted over Berlin itself and residents are being told to stay indoors.

Wildfires: a look at The Weather Channel map of global wildfires might be concerning, I have no idea. Without commentary it looks like half the world is on fire right now. Brazil, for instance, is just one solid blob of orange location markers. Is this normal for August? You judge:

http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap?zoom=5&lat=37.80307138624724&lon=-90.50826873347978&wxstn=0&wxstnmode=tw&radar=0&radaropa=0.7&satellite=0&satelliteopa=0.8&insertHurricaneNameHere=false&goes16opa=0&severe=0&severeopa=0.9&sst=0&sstopa=0.8&sstanom=0&sstanomopa=0.8&cam=0&fronts=0&hur=0&models=0&modelsmodel=ecmwf&modelsopa=0.8&modelstype=SURPRE&lightning=0&fire=1&fireopa=0.9&rep=0&surge=0&tor=0

Everybody off…

The “Ring of Fire” Pacific rim disturbances are continuing.

Five days after the record M7.1 in Venezuela, “discredited” earthquake predictor (80%-plus success rate, USGS now privately using his methods) “Dutchsinse” reports on the largest-ever deep earthquake to arrive under South America, a M7.1 600Km beneath the Peru/Ecuador border, in the ostenosphere below the S America tectonic plate. He warns of the danger of a shallower M8 next to the same location within 6-10 days.

While reporting this event, Mr Janitch notes a unusually large M5.0 arriving live next to the fracking operations in Colorado, just south of Yellowstone, and a M3.0 in the English channel.

He speculates about a global disturbance event.

Yellowstone: USGS reporting a number of springs drying up or at low water, boiling. The Blessed Mary draws our attention to “drumbeats” and harmonic tremors on the seismographs, continuing ground uplift, disturbing volume of rising magma, outgassing of helium and SO2.

02 Sep., she reports, the Steamboat Geyser, biggest in the park,  has erupted for the 16th time this year. The largest number of times it has erupted in an entire year before was 3 in 2003. Park director, Michael Poland has reassured her, geyser eruptions are perfectly normal

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

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

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

Quinnipiac/Ipsos polling, 16 Aug. (BBC)

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

 

“I’m the President and you’re not….”

Lawful investigation? You’re fired!…

More interesting developments in the Trump obstruction of justice inquiry:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who are they working for?

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

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

Coincidence? Making adverse remarks about a presidential candidate who goes on to win is hardly a sacking offence, nor unique one supposes among officials; many ‘Never Trump’-ers are now inside the tent pissing out, and he had already accepted a disciplinary suspension.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is he up to, and at whose bidding?

Alongside Trump’s not entirely successful efforts to pack the District Court benches with supine placemen, many of them completely unqualified, and now a chance to nominate a second ultra-Conservative judge to the Supreme Court; plus a renewed Twitter campaign of bullying insults against Trump punchbag, Attorney-General Sessions, and the entire Justice Department, it appears that the Republican hierarchy is quietly gnawing away at the softer parts of the system.

Their aim is blatantly to undermine any future attempt to indict the President on charges of which he insolently demonstrates more guilt with every cretinous tweet that streams from beneath his tiny thumbs; every inarticulate tirade.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fore!

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

He plays golf.

More than that, he is addicted to it.

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

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

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

So addicted to the Scottish game is President Trump, that he has spent in the region of $80 million dollars of taxpayers’ money on playing golf virtually every three-day weekend since his inauguration day. Naturally he plays at his own resorts and then sends the bill for the food and accommodation and hire of golf carts for his large security detail and personal entourage to the Treasury, netting a helpful profit in the process.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“Quick, more Factor 50!” California burning.

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

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

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

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

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

Canada: parts of Toronto are flooded and two passengers rescued with moments to spare from a rapidly filling elevator as up to 120 mm of rain falls in 1 hour. Over in British Columbia, almost 600 wildfires have reduced air quality over thousands of square miles to a “10”, i.e. the worst possible.

Mr Trump has blamed the Canadian logging industry for US wildfires. Because of cheap imports: “we have fallen trees, and instead of removing those fallen trees, which get to be extremely combustible, instead of removing them, gently removing them, beautifully removing them, we leave them to burn.” he said. (Global News, 18 Aug.)

He is as mad as a box of frogs.

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

(All above from Floodlist, 13 Aug.)

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

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

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

(compiled from Floodlist reports)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You get the leaders you wish for.

The Weather Channel’s fire map is showing an uncountable number of wildfires burning all across Brazil and central South America; all contributing to the global carbon overload.

Pacific: 115 mph Typhoon Soulik aiming for southern Japan/Korea. Cat 4 (140mph) hurricane Hector losing strength as it heads northwestwards in mid-Pacific, 350 miles south of Hawaii. Not exected to make landfall. Some possibility of Tropical Storm Lane, now strengthening to 125 mph Cat 3 or 4 hurricane, brushing the Hawaiian islands.

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

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

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

(Insurance Journal)

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

Hitting the buffers…

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

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

 

Doomsday machines

A totally terrifying report from OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, forecasts a rise in consumption of 12 million barrels of oil a day from the present 100 million, by 2040. The increase will mostly come from the number of petrol and diesel fuelled cars doubling to 2.4 BILLION; and from increases in airline travel.

One barrel of oil produces a little under 120 kilograms of carbon when burned. So not allowing for other fractional production, plastics and fertilizers, e.g., which will doubtless also increase massively over the same period, that’s going to be 13.4 billion Kg of carbon – 1.34 million tonnes – released to the atmosphere every day, 365 days a year; not including other sources of carbon emissions such as forest fires, agricultural burning, warming soils, etc. and CO2 from decaying methane from melting permafrost, seabed deposits and animal husbandry.

Oh, and we haven’t mention coal, which OPEC predicts will also be burned in “record amounts” as India and China continue to industrialize.

The load is way more than the ‘carbon budget’ for the next 21 years, that would allow the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere to remain stable, assuming we haven’t found a way to extract really significant quantities by then, and a means to neutralize or sequester the gas. 2 to 4 degrees of warming is already built-in to the existing model, that will cause irrevocable changes in our already fragile geopolitical landscape, largely through threats to all avenues of food production.

The report of the report makes no mention of OPEC even beginning to understand the dire consequences of their profligacy.

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

Forestuff

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

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

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

 

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

Dear Ivanka Trump

Just who the hell are you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fortunately, this whole horror show is winding up as the planet heats beyond human endurance. We have eight years left.

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

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

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Sucker berg

But maybe all is not lost!

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

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

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

Okay, maybe all is lost.

 

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

The Amesbury Horror

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

The Guardian writes:

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

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

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

There’s more than one!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Charlie”, by Revlon? No, that would be too….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was he some sort of tethered goat?

We have heard nothing more, either, from Det Sgt Bailey, who was also inadvertently poisoned; in what sense was he a ‘first responder’, detectives aren’t usually; and how did he know to go straight to the Skripal house if they were unconscious when found a few miles away, unless he already knew who they were and where they lived?

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

It’s one heck of a mystery, ain’t it.

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Scorched Earth: turning America into the shithole of the world

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

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

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

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

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

But there you go, or not.

According to the Vox website:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

To which a faint echo calls back:

Money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia: Siberian Times reports:

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

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

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

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

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

Lucky us, eh?

Oh, right. The sun just came out again.

 

Lies on a Summer Night

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

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

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

And take a sick bag.

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

We’re fine, honest.

(The BBC has never, so far as I know, reported the faintly disturbing news that in July 2016 for the first time ever recorded, the northern circumpolar jetstream became so unstable that it broke apart and crossed over into the southern hemisphere. It might also be worth pointing out that 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 were the hottest years on record (not in that order), and without an El Niño yet this year is rapidly gaining on them.)

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

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

No they won’t, because a jolly-old 8C “sweltering” average rise over pre-industrial temperatures is not survivable by humans or most other animal and plant species because it implies a midday maximum increase of 16C. And on present trend will in any case have occurred long before the “end of the century”, a birthday party nobody now alive will see out.

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End Times

Can we have the bill, please?

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

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

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

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

Yellowstone News

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

 

Mental Health News

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

Someone:

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

Jason Hand:

Mars is sonoluminescent and not a solid object.

imineti (edited):

Jason Hand exactly! Planets are wandering stars as it says in the Bible, earth is flat, space is the waters of the firmament. We cant get past the firmament which is why we will never go to space, they faked Moon landings because the Moon is in the firmament and is also a light (a cooling light, seperate light source from the Sun, we can prove thise by measuring the temp of light, moon light is cooler than the night shade). God bless.

I don’t see, with profound thinkers like these in the majority, how we’re going to survive the next twenty years. Maybe it’s time to go?

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

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

 

 The War on Drugs targets children – with drugs

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

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

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

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

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

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

The most effective being a bullet through the head.

Picturing history

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

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

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

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

And the beat goes on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, just switch off your phones.

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Open letter to: the BBC Board

Trump news coverage ‘a shameful disgrace’

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

Dear Board member

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Postscriptum:

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

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

Post-postscriptum:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please God, is there? Just askin’.

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

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

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Sensationalism gone mad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s sensationalism gone mad.

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GW: turning up me collar, gazing at the sky

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

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

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

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

Jesus, the Negev desert?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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To irony and beyond

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

I’d better repeat that:

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

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

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

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

It’s beyond irony.

Food miles

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

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

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

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

Mea maxima culpa.

On the wrong lines

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

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

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