The Pumpkin – Issue 105 now taking form: Lock ’em up!… Or just string ’em up?…Janus… GW: slipslidin’ away

Lock ’em up!

Thinking about it, I’ve been struck by some synchronicities within the strange world Trump has been building, a world in which his is the only mind and he the Creator. It’s a bit like terraforming Mars or something, you go someplace, you find a set of realities you can’t live with and turn it into some other, more familiar place you can, usually without anyone’s permission.

Take one solipsistic sociopath, a malignant narcissist with paranoid tendencies, a Dunning-Kruger fantasist with added pre-dementia, a man with severe developmental issues and a complete lack of empathy or moral boundaries – whatever psychobabble you want to employ – make him the most powerful man in the world, and watch him go!

I’m going to have to insert a bit of backstory here, concerning Paul Manafort. This is the 70-year-old guy with the ostrich-skin jackets, Trump’s former campaign chairman (for only four months, so of course Trump hardly knew the guy) who is serving a 7-year stretch in a Federal penitentiary for a range of crimes, including tax fraud, failure to declare himself as a foreign agent and spectacularly trying to out-con the FBI.

Having worked for some of the most brutal and corrupt dictators in the world, Manafort had been operating in Ukraine for many years as a PR advisor to some of the local oligarchs, and with wealthy Russians working on Putin’s behalf to, essentially, terraform the political landscape there. One of the things he did was to help Viktor Yanukovych get elected as President.

Yanukovych’s main rival was a not-unattractive young lady called Yulia Timoshenko who, thanks to her high-level family connections, had been the Prime Minister. Manafort and his sidekick Rick Gates manufactured a corruption case against her, the charges stuck and she was locked up. Yanukovych got in, and started doing what Putin wanted, which was to push Ukraine out of the orbital influences of NATO and the neighboring EU, where the younger majority of the population preferred the country to go, towards Russia.

He also started looting the coffers of the state, ultimately getting away with almost $30 billion. But in 2014 he was overthrown in a mostly peaceful revolution, escaping in a dawn convoy over the border into Russia; whereupon, claiming that “fascists” were taking over, Putin invaded to “protect” the mainly Russian-speaking secessionist population of the eastern coalmining region of Donbass, and, of course, illegally annexed the formerly Russian province of Crimea, reversing a post-WW2 settlement.

A low-level war has been going on ever since, with, now, more than 13 thousand casualties – mainly civilians.

One of Manafort’s connections was an oligarch named Oleg Deripaska. This fabulously wealthy friend of Putin’s had cornered the entire post-Soviet market in Russia’s aluminum mining and smelting industry after a bitter struggle that ended with the unexplained murders of several of his business rivals. Be that as it may, he set about cultivating well-placed global influencers. British and EU politicians alike have enjoyed the hospitality aboard his yacht in the Aegean.

In 2009, however, a Russian accountant called Magnitsky had been found dead in his prison cell in Moscow, having been beaten to death shortly before his trial. (Official cause: heart failure.)  An American financial advisor, Bill Browder had employed Magnitsky, and was now accused of murdering him. He started campaigning for justice for the murdered man, pointing out that Magnitsky had uncovered a huge tax fraud involving people in high places, only to be arrested and held in custody on trumped-up charges. Outraged, the US Congress then passed a law, the Magnitsky Act, among whose provisions were the imposition of travel bans and freezing the finances of implicated oligarchs.

Among them was Deripaska.

Manafort also dabbled in low finance, and we gather that at some stage he must have offered to invest, or otherwise purify, about $17 million of Deripaska’s fortune via offshore tax-free vehicles he registered, that never received the money. He appears to have spent it on buying apartments in New York, and those ostrich-skin jackets. Ooops.

The “Aluminum King” then deputed one of his lieutenants, Konstantin Kilimnik, who’d been involved with Manafort in skulduggery in Ukraine, to ensure that Manafort would repay the money in kind, if not in blood. The two men set off for Michigan to begin the process of filching confidential voter data and sending it to a troll farm in St Petersburg, to fuel the campaign of disruption and disinformation through which Mr Putin thought to get his useful idiot, a sort of global “bull in the china shop”, Trump, elected.

By an amazing coincidence, the three states in which they did this stuff were the very states that got Trump elected by a margin of just 77 thousand votes when the matter was decided in the Electoral College – an institution designed to level the representational playing-field between more and less populous states by, essentially, rigging elections. Without this thoroughly undemocratic jiggery-pokery, as we know, Trump would have lost on the popular scale by 2.8 million votes; nor would Dubya Bush ever have been elected.

For some reason, in July of 2016, Mr Trump – who of course did not know Mr Manafort – fired his campaign chairman, the vapid little Trumpsucker Cory Lewandowsky, and installed Manafort in his place.

No-one knows why, for sure. Does it look like he came clutching a reference hot from the Kremlin? Surely gnotte.

Yes, okay, he liked dictators because they were desperate to be liked, and he could make that happen in exchange for large sums of dirty money; yes, he had experience of rigging elections in Ukraine; yes he worked for and was profoundly obligated to a close associate of Putin’s who wanted a man on the inside to persuade Congress to lift the Magnitsky sanctions. (In December, 2018 sanctions on Deripaska were lifted, at the behest of Senate leader, “Moscow” Mitch McConnell. The grateful oligarch then offered to build an aluminum plant in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. There is naturally no suggestion of a quid pro quo, a status quo ante, nor indeed of collusion.)

Yes, being on the inside of the campaign would prove useful to all sorts of people; yes, Manafort was in a position to provide high-level Ukraine contacts to Trump, Pompeo and Giuliani, who immediately began on Inauguration Day to start work on removing the incorruptible US Ambassador in Kyiv, Marie Yovanovych, in preparation for another, probably Manafort inspired, campaign involving oligarchs, extortion, political favors – and gas. (Because, you see, it’s all about the Energy, stoopid!)

And, yes, he’d successfully nobbled Timoshenko with a manufactured accusation of corruption, via a corrupt state prosecutor much in the latest news, which is exactly what Trump set out to do to his rival candidate, Hillary Clinton, to “Lock her up!” Where did he get that idea from? Because four separate investigations, even by his own terraformed Justice and State departments, over three-and-a-half years, have found no evidence of serious malfeasance on her part.

And that’s the synchronicity!

With the help of the corrupted Republicans in Congress, up to their necks in his filthy business and unable to escape, or to wash away the stain of their association, Trump is now frantically trying to forestall impeachment by persuading America that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for interfering with his election, to try to get Clinton elected instead; thereby justifying the attempt he denies having made, to force the Ukrainian president Zelinskiy to produce evidence of Putin’s innocence – and to help smear his rivals for the next election.

That there is absolutely no possibility that this Ukraine scenario was feasible, or even likely; without means, motive or opportunity and no smoking gun; that the mass of evidence and his own past inadvertencies point straight at the Kremlin, does not occur to Trump’s excusers and enablers, nor to his cult followers in the crazy community. In Trump’s terraforned world, anything you like can be true; every shape will shift.

How like the former Soviet Union is that?

The way he has gone about doing Putin’s business and bidding emerges from such stories with devastating clarity. There is no doubt whatever in my mind, nor in most anybody else’s who is following the shenanigans in Washngton, that he is a Russian asset. He might not even realize it, not fully – perhaps he is just struggling to find in Putin another authoritarian father figure to replace his monstrous dad, Fred, who bankrolled him to make tax losses while having nothing but contempt for him. Or to find another successful homosexual mobster like his old mentor, the ruthless Mafia lawyer Roy Cohn, whose alarmingly direct methods of management he strives comically to emulate.

Increasingly, through his social and political terraforming, America and the world are coming to resemble the inner landscape of Trump: the original Lost Boy. A useful allegory is provided by the current BBC adaptation of Wells’ The War of the Worlds, where starving survivors stumble through a barren, dustblown, rusty-red Martian landscape the alien invaders have been creating for themselves on earth.

Most Americans now realize that the man they thought was a bit of a joke, a buffoon with no manners, taste or education; a typically brash, upwardly mobile NooYawk real estate developer who would “get things done” in managerial style, is nothing of the kind. In addition to being an inept old fraud, a third-rate “mom and pop” businessman who succeeds by actualizing his mental confusion, he’s a monster, a mythical Balog dredged from the bowels of Hell by the wishful thinking of millions of disaffected voters dying for a savior to let loose their worst, most feral instincts on an unforgiving world they long to end.

Britain, beware. Under Trump mini-me Johnson, another devious, rotten and hubristic character, we are going down the same path to perdition. Not for nothing did those Martians with their terrible machines fall to earth in Woking, Surrey; home of The Spice Girls.

 

Or just string ’em up?

Mainstream media have been a little reluctant to report that Mr Thomas Bowers, 55, a wealthy former senior vice-president in the Wealth Management division of Deutsche Bank, was found hanged at his Malibu, Ca. home on 19 November.

Well, at least he won’t have to testify.

Inquistr reports that Bowers was the direct supervisor of a staffer called Rosemary Vrablic, who had been introduced to Trump with a recommendation from the equally indigent Jared Kushner as his “favorite banker”.Now, why was that?

“The bank’s investigation of Trump’s finances found that he reported values of his real estate assets that were too high by 70 percent in many cases.” (Something confirmed in court by Trump’s former bag man, Michael Cohen.) “Nonetheless, Vrablic and Bowers approved a $100 million loan for the president to buy the Doral Golf Resort and Spa near Miami, according to a New York Times report.”

My Gosh, I wish I’d met them sooner!

Deutsche reportedly continued to lend more than $1 billion to Trump over a ten-year period, at a time when no US bank would touch him, and despite being aware that Trump was red-flagged as a possible money-launderer. He was certainly a serial loan-defaulter – according to Mother Jones, he still owes Deutsche Bank $345 million. This period may have overlapped with a similar decade in which Trump Organization allegedly declared $100 million annual LOSSES to obtain tax benefits.

Deutsche was recently hit with an injunction to hand over their records of dealings with Trump Org. to Congress, which they have apparently done. We understand that the New York Attorney’s Office also has the records. Let’s see who’s the faster speed-reader.

Another client of Bowers/Vrablic was, we understand, his fellow suicide-by-hanging, Jeffrey Epstein.

So now, for some unaccountable reason, Mr Cohen, who had been due to give further testimony against Mr Trump – “Individual 1” – in February, is reportedly getting cold feet in the relative comfort of his cell at the medium-security Otisville, NY prison, and it ain’t becuz the heating brunk down.

As they say, everything Trump touches, dies.

 

Drain the swamp!

Pumpkin followers may recall, we bogld ages ago about a certain Dr Joseph Ackermann, who is connected to the Trump saga in the following way:

Dr Ackermann is the former CEO of Deutsche Bank, a global organization that has in recent years been fined billions of dollars for money-laundering – essentially, failing to check where the money has come from, that has flowed endlessly through their coffers, mainly from Russian oligarchical sources.

Dr Ackermann then went on to found Bank of Cyprus, that has also been accused of money-laundering, to the extent that some wit described it as “the global laundromat”.

The quip is quite amusing, as in the 1970s the late President Nixon, in order to hide the secret campaign funding he was getting from the Los Angeles Mafia, literally “laundered” it through a fake cleaning business created for him in Florida. (The state where Messrs Giuliani, Parnas and Frumin allegedly created a phony “gas” company, to launder funds from Ukraine into Trump re-election accounts. It’s not only swamps and alligators there.)

The two vice-chairmen of Bank of Cyprus were a sanctioned Russian oligarch, “The Fertilizer King”, Dmitry Rybolovlev, who “overpaid” $95 million for a worthless Trump property in Florida, netting Trump a $50 million windfall; and Mr Wilbur Ross, a “family consiglieri” described by the not-exactly leftish business journal, Forbes, as possibly “One of the biggest grifters in American history”, who after almost four years of the presidency somehow remains America’s Commerce Secretary.

The Cambridge dictionary describes a grifter as: “Someone who gets money dishonestly by tricking people.” Which Mr Ross certainly appeared to have done, when Forbes had to downgrade his public estimate of his fortune from $3.5 billion to just a few hundred million. Among which was, presumably, the $120 million he’s alleged to have swindled from his business partners.

And, look, I keep telling you, “It’s the Energy, stoopid!”

Because here, yet again, that word pops up in a report, this time from The Guardian, back in November 2017:

“Leaked documents and public filings show Ross holds a stake in a shipping company, Navigator, through a chain of offshore investments. Navigator operates a lucrative partnership with Sibur, a Russian gas company part-owned by Kirill Shamalov, the husband of Putin’s daughter Katerina Tikhonova.”

See if you can “gas” which one!

Janus

In case anyone should think that Trump is really so thin-skinned as to have been genuinely upset by Justin Trudeau’s overheard comment at the NATO summit in leafy Watford, home of the football team whose faded fortunes were turned around in the 1980s thanks to the lucrative ownership of Sir Elton John, The Pumpkin can only say, BS.

Trump never fails to rush to grab the headlines with some outrageous tweet or cackhanded military decision when there’s something more important going on, that concerns him and his criminal tendencies. If nothing else, he’s a master self-publicist who for decades has played the “fake news” media for all he’s worth, largely because he’s never been worth all that much.

I mean, who would want the world and its wife reading about a devastating, 300-page Congressional indictment of his attempts to cover-up the true story of his murky interventions in Ukraine, listing the entirely believable testimonies of 17 witnesses supported by a sheaf of call logs to his naked acts of unpresidential thuggery, when they could be reading instead about how funny he thinks was his riposte that Trudeau is “two-faced” – an obvious reference to the scandal of the Canadian Prime Minister having years ago unimaginatively attended three student parties in blackface?

After all, does Trump not lurk behind a curiously mottled orange mask? What race, I wonder, is he trying to insult with that?

 

“Ronnie played fantastic but it’s a really big win for me.” – Ding Jinhua

Gnyaah! Bring back the adverb, is all I can say.

 

GW: slipslidin’ away

Uganda: Floodlist cites, a little confusingly, Red Cross reports that at least 10 people may have died in landslides and flooding in two separate provinces; 5 in each, with a fairly large number still missing. “The tragedy hit after hours of heavy rain on 03 Dec.”

Spain: “A storm has caused flash flooding in parts of Murcia,  prompting high water rescues and some evacuations. Emergency services said they received 534 calls for assistance, including around 30 people rescued from vehicles trapped in flood water.” (Floodlist). Up to 390 mm (15-in) rain fell in 24 hours (on La Vita), coastal Valencia being battered by 4 meter waves and 80 mph winds. Storm conditions are expected across the South of France and into northern Italy.

Indian Ocean: Yesterday, Severe-weather.eu reported on a very rare occurrence, twin tropical storms intensifying to hurricane strength in the eastern Indian ocean, on either side of the equator – rotating as per theory in opposite directions. Today it seems the rarity of such an event is being eclipsed as three more tropical storms are forming in the same region. One is threatening the coast of Somalia, another aiming for Madagascar. Those of you who recall the film, The Day After Tomorrow, may not be so impressed.

Philippines: Typhoon Kammuri has killed at least 13 people, while 345 thousand are in evacuation centers, reports Aljazeera. “Kammuri, the 20th to hit the country this year, crossed the coast on Monday night, forcing hundreds of thousands of residents to evacuate and the cancellation of hundreds of flights.” Coastal communities south of the capital have been devastated.  Kammuri had intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane in just 18 hours.

USA: If you’re dreaming of a White Christmas, take cover! The polar vortex has split into five pieces owing to a heat anomaly in the stratosphere. “Brutally cold Arctic air will flow down into the north-central US mid-next week. Current forecast indicates that air temperature could drop as low as -25°C, in some places even down to -30°C! Over the border in Canada, temperatures will be even lower. This is an unusually strong cold air outbreak for early December, so its development will be closely monitored.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Australia: “Golfers at the Australian Open have complained of stinging eyes as toxic smoke from bushfires around Sydney affected the opening round on Thursday. Sydney’s air quality index registered on a par with Beijing, forcing New Zealand golfer Ryan Chisnall, who is asthmatic, to don a face mask.” (BBC)

 

Tories. Lock them up!… Word of the month… Not fit for purpose, #1, #2, #3… A state of surveillance (Miracle on Boglington Street).. GW: It never rains but it rains

Happy Birthday to Me! (70th.)

 

QotW:

Spotted by Private Eye:

“Brexit bombshell: why Tony Blair is behind Supreme Court ruling on Brexit shutdown (D. Express, 13 Sep.)

“Brexit revelation: why Europe is behind Supreme Court ruling on Brexit shutdown  (D. Express, 26 Sept.)

Next week: “Brexit supernova: why alien lizards from Planet X are behind…”, etc.? (Both stories went on to elucidate some purely tangential connection between Blair, Brussels and the Supreme Court ruling on, etc. with no evidence offered at all of the direct influence of either on the Supreme Court.

This is the ersatz journalism we have to put up with, that is bidding to tear the country down. Who are the real traitors behind this shitshow, the judges or the editors?)

(Photo: Neil Hall/EPA)

Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Gove at the Conservative party conference.

“It’s alright, Michael, it’s not Hurricane Lorenzo, just the wind of change.”

For a clip of the early Rees-mogg, go to:#www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/live/bbcfour

Tories. Lock them up!

The rigidly, almost insanely authoritarian Home Secretary, as dim and far to the right as any since “Something of the night about him” Michael Howard, Boris’ Big Red Bus conductress, hardline anti-immigration campaigner and rabid Brexiteer, Priti Patel, 47, the thinking liberal’s trigger-harpie, gave a rabble-rousing speech on Laura Norder at the Tory party conference.

“This party, our Conservative party” (just to remind you, in case you voted for Farage’s frothing Brexit lot in the European elections), “is backing those who put their lives on the line for our national security.” (Sure they’re pleased to know you’re behind them, Priti, stirring it up and making things worse – see recent Police concerns about rightwing terrorism, radical and racial violence).

“So as we renew our place as the party of law and order in Britain, let the message go out from this hall today:

  • To the British people – we hear you.
  • To the police service – we back you.
  • And to the criminals, I simply say this: We are coming after you.”

(I’ve always reserved a soft spot I’d like to hit with a croquet mallet for soapbox orators who spout Victorian cliches like “to you, I say this!”, as if people are too stupid to realize they’re speaking to them. Ed Miliband used to drive me mad with it. Now carry on….)

Mentally at least, foaming at the mouth, Patel went on to assure the bigoted old dumbfucks, Express readers, caravanners and crochet-knitters in the hall that she would end “freedom of movement” for people from Europe “for once and for all!”.

Er, is it okay to ask why? What is wrong with freedom of movement, Ms Patel? We took your parents in, after all. Without it, you wouldn’t be here. I’d quite like to be allowed to move freely, thanks. Or would you like us all to stay exactly where we were born? I’m afraid I can’t afford to go back to central London, not on my State pension.

Do you use the National Health Service? Ever popped in to Costa Coffee? Who do you think is going to man our essential services?

Silly cow.

A transcendently awful speech, by the sound and fury of it, fully characteristic of all pusillanimous, porage-faced Tory Home Secretaries (and David Blunkett) down the decades, with no regard for the actual consequences of their hardline policies, the social costs, that have failed time and time again here and in any country you can name, it met with wearily familiar subdued applause from the faithful and the Dreary Mail editorial team.

It seems not to have occurred to Ms Patel, a former tobacco industry lobbyist, who, let’s remember, was fired from her previous job as International Development Secretary for holding unauthorized, private talks with Israeli hardliners, that included suggestions she might divert UK aid – taxpayers’ money – to the Israeli army of occupation, that on top of all the admissions from senior Tories about their university drug habits, the biggest lawbreaker of all is her boss.

Perhaps she should have added:

  • And to the senior Law Lords, the Enemies of the People, we will ignore your rulings, traduce you in the scumbag press and put you in the Bloody Tower where we’ll have your heads lopped off for treason if you don’t let us do whatever we like, and to hell with the law.

Meanwhile, police at the conference in Manchester were “looking into” an altercation between Blimpish Tory MP, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, and a security guard who tried to prevent him bringing in an unauthorized guest; the room had to be put into lockdown, following which Clifton-Brown, 66, was ejected, still ranting and raving, from the building. (To think, his father – quite a courteous man – used to be our landlord!)

The party of law and order, indeed.

In the meantime, it’s been revealed in The Guardian by “a whistleblower” that a Ms Paola Cuneiri, who worked for two-and-a-half years in “a senior post at London & Partners (L&P), the official mayoral promotional agency which Johnson had responsibility for while he was in City Hall”, moved on from there to head the Sirius program.

That’s the government scheme she claims to have invented, so she should have known  the rules, despite which Johnson’s alleged mistress, or one of them, the American “former model” Jennifer Arcuri, a “businesswoman” with a pole-dancing pole fitted in her Shoreditch flat, as they do, was awarded a prestigious £100 thousand cybertech grant, for which two thousand companies had applied; 1,800 unsuccessfully.

The award came with an expensive and hard-to-get Tier 1 immigration visa, despite Arcuri’s firm not meeting the qualifying criteria of being actually based in, or having anything much to do with, Britain, apart from a Companies House registration; or, indeed, with cybertech development. Innotech/Hacker House is basically just an online events management support service.

The whistleblower confirmed, too, that Johnson’s department had granted Ms Arcuri around £26,000 in startup funding, and that she had travelled abroad three times on official trips with the Mayor, who had appeared on video and at events endorsing her company.

(Despite the existence of multiple photos and documents, Ms Arcuri has issued a statement denying any of this ever happened. It was all a dream, little Princess. And now she’s giving hugely expensive interviews with the dumbfuck UK press, under the watchful eye of her lawyer, although she says they didn’t actually, you know. She just gave him technological advice.)

“A friend” confirmed to the Guardian, Arcuri had told her she was having an affair with the married Johnson, who was seen “regularly” leaving her east London flat. He has refused to deny, or confirm it. Whether she overlapped with current squeeze, Carrie Symonds, has yet to be determined by the sound of breaking plates upstairs at No. 10.

Is it looking bad for Johnson? Not as long as his dithering and malevolent waffle over Brexit, his abusive populist tirades against MPs, EU officials and judges, his viral coffee-cup blunders, his halting improvisation of a terrible, unprepared closing speech to Conference and his harebrained scheme for an Irish customs border in the middle of a bog somewhere in Ireland, over which he appears to have stitched-up a deal with – yes, them again – the DUP, continue to hog the headlines.

He’s learned a lot from Trump.

 

Word of the month….

Treason /ˈtriːz(ə)n/ noun

  1. “The crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill or overthrow the sovereign or government.”
  2. Disagreeing with the idea that Boris Johnson can defy the law with impunity.
  3. Thinking leaving the European Union is a bad idea.
  4. Voting Lib-Dem.
  5. er, that’s it.

 

Not fit for purpose #1: The Home Office

“We welcome international academics from across the globe and recognise their contribution to the UK’s world-leading education sector. All UK visa applications are considered on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence available, and in line with the immigration rules.”

Thus, a Home Office spokesmouth, defending with the standard press response their refusal to allow the two very young children of an American academic at Oxford to join their mother in the UK, forcing her to have to decide whether she can remain in her job, or even in the country.

(Oh, yes, forgot. Her husband, who is working away on contract in his home country of Cameroon at the moment, is, er, black. Tsk.)

Hundreds of overseas academics are being refused visas, often on spurious legal or procedurally incorrect grounds, sometimes suggestive of racial profiling.

Even invited conference delegates and speakers are being shut out, especially from the African continent, and some universities have started automatically rejecting overseas applicants for fear of getting entangled in Home Office red tape.

Welcome to HM Prison Hulk Britannia.

Home of the terminally thick.

Not fit for purpose #2: The President

In the 12 months to June, almost entirely owing to Trump’s trade war with China, nearly 13 thousand US farmers declared bankruptcy.

Those, that is, who have not contributed to the record rate of suicides among small farmers.

Meanwhile the madness of King Donald continues unabated.

He’s now accusing House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff of inventing the telephone conversation in which he has already admitted asking Ukrainian president Zelezniy for a favor in digging dirt on Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, which he now says is fake nooze.

Er… but that’s the report the Committee is investigating! It came from the Inspector General of Intelligence, not from the Committee! (No, “Shifty Schift” is a traitor and a liar who makes stuff up and must be put on trial!)

And today, Trump doubled-down on Biden (who is no longer the Democratic front runner anyway), claiming “what he did in China was terrible” and maybe he will ask President Xi to look into it…

There is no evidence whatever that Biden did anything in China, any more than in Ukraine, where Trump once again admitted he had pressured President Zelenskiy but it was a “perfect conversation”…!

It is horrible watching the spectacle of this tortured man unravelling under the pressures of his job. He needs to be taken out of the pressure-cooker and put in a secure mental facility for his own good, but no-one in office has the guts, the perspicacity or the wisdom to see it; nor has anyone the power to do it, except the Vice President – who is himself under suspicion of assisting in the commission of a crime.

Trump is seriously not fit for purpose. Nor, indeed, is Secretary of State, Mike “I can’t believe he’s not Bunter!” Pompeo, who after five days of outright denying to the media that the phone call ever took place, that there was a report (of which he only read “two paragraphs”) or that he or anyone else, let alone the whistleblower, had any knowledge of it, has now confessed he was in the room at the time, on speakerphone.

Mr Pompeo is in Italy currently, with a brief to continue the president’s important foreign policy campaign to persuade world leaders to say it was Ukraine and not Russia that meddled with Trump’s 2016 election, which he won, to get Hilary Clinton elected; that Paul Manafort and Mike T Flynn are innocent bystanders, and that the Mueller investigation was all a hoax.

Even Bunter is beginning to look a little uncomfortable.

Not fit for purpose #3: Britain

Downing Street, according to the Mail on Sunday, for which read evil genius, Dominic Cummings, is “investigating” several of the 21 rebel MPs expelled by the Tory whips’ office last month for voting with opposition parties on the “surrender” bill.

That’s the one denying the sexually incontinent oaf, Johnson, the right to simply walk Britain out of the EU at the end of this month with no agreement to discuss future trading and security arrangements with the market of 450 million consumers just 26 miles away across the Channel.

It is yet another of the extraordinary correspondences between the Johnson administration – for want of a less organized word – and that of the paranoid Trump, who has his tame Justice Department under “Shill” Barr, busy “investigating” his political rivals too; even the ones like Clinton who’ve already been investigated.

In both cases, what is being “investigated” is the allegation that the two men’s political opponents are somehow in the pay of foreign countries and their secretive interests: exactly the same accusation that has been made against Mr Trump and Mr Johnson – but with much, much less evidential justification.

It is in fact just one gigantic smear, designed to intimidate and menace those calling for responsible governance from these two megalomaniacal, sociopathic sex-pests.

This is para-Nazism at its finest, the only difference being that we have not yet started to cause people to disappear into forest graves.

Former Justice Minister, David Gauke, one of the so-called “traitors”, was moved to warn at the party conference yesterday – he is still a party member even though he cannot stand as a candidate or vote with the Tories – that Britain is descending into Trumpism.

As if to prove it, Tory party chairman, James “but not very” Cleverley has this morning again warned of civil disorder breaking out if Johnson doesn’t get his way. Make no mistake, guys, it’s a threat, not a warning.

I suspect few of the frothing old dumbfucks sensing victory for the way of life they misremember from their youth – no dogs, Irish or blacks – no Europeans, except waiters and comic detectives – Camp coffee and proper lightbulbs – toad-in-the-hole for tea, will give a monkey’s, not even when their grandchildren are being arrested off the streets and hauled out of their school classes, Polish overstayers being interned, machine-gun nests dug into the White Cliffs of Dover, avocado toast criminalized (if there are any avocados) and Jewish and Muslim shops being firebombed.

“But I know we’ll meet again some sunny… er, rainy day.”

 

A state of surveillance

Now look. An hour ago I printed off a letter of complaint I had written to my optician as yet a third pair of these O’Neill glasses has fallen apart in my hand after less than three months.

I didn’t email it, or platform it, or anything – I just wrote it in Word and fucking printed it.

Now sitting on top of my inbox is an unrequested email from a company I don’t know, SelectSpecs.com, advertising prescription glasses.

Update… Friday morning, top of my inbox: “New sock is helping seniors turn back the clock…” “This new funeral plan is finally released to Brits over 50…” Oh, did they notice I turned 70 yesterday?

I’ll say it again, Google.

FUCK OFF AND STOP SNOOPING ON MY STUFF, OKAY?

Miracle on Boglington Street

Although, a strange miracle occurred this morning (02 Oct.). (Wouhaaouwaahouwah!)

Friends, I’ll admit, I’ve been having trouble with muh li’l laptop. F’rinstance, once it goes to sleep, you can’t wake it up again. You have to switch it off, wait 5 seconds and then on again, for which purpose I keep a small stick beside the computer, my “on-off stick”, to press the power key with, otherwise if you use your finger you can’t see the little light.

(I’m very practical, although my son thinks I’m mad!).

Also, the desktop icons ‘n stuff are never in the same places two mornings running, and occasionally you get this bluescreen warning of impending cyberdeath. Again, off-and-on-again does the trick. It’s all a bit unnerving.

Well, this a.m. when I started it up, I got a red warning sign urging me not to switch off, as the Operating System was regenerating, like Dr Who. The text of the sign had partly slipped out of the frame of the box it was contained in, and there was no attribution to any source such as Microsoft, raising suspicions of a hack.

Anyway, after a few minutes it finished its operation and an illiterate note appeared, saying “Sucessful complete” (sic). Naturally, I ran a full security scan, as I speak Kyrzgystani, but it produced no evidence at all of anything untoward.

And then, wonderful to relate (mirabile dictu, as the Romans say), as it rebooted automatically, the old pretty photo background image re-emerged, that you get with Windows 10, a different one every day, that I’d forgotten I hadn’t noticed not being there for the past several months, and I was welcomed as before to log in, which I can do because it’s not password-protected.

(I figured that would drive anybody crazy, who tries to guess my password in order to break-in to my system!)

And the very next time I let it go to sleep, the computer woke up immediately I pressed any key! Quite astonishing.

If I’ve been attacked by Hacker House or someone, well, okay, Jennifer, I’m all in!

(And after posting this, what next on my Google inbox? “Norton antivirus-plus…” For Christ’s sake, is this the world I’m bequeathing to my children? Well, at least they can’t blame me for this part, I don’t understand a fucking word of it.)

(Photo: Nikola Mijic)

Lightning illuminates a funnel-cloud forming during a storm over Bosnia, 2 Oct.

GW: It never rains but it rains

Azores: “Winds were rising and intermittent showers were hitting the northern Azores Islands Tuesday afternoon (1 Oct.) as huge Cat. 2 Hurricane Lorenzo sped towards a Wednesday morning encounter with the islands. At 11 am EDT Tuesday, Lorenzo was racing northeast at 25 mph with 100 mph winds.” (Wunderground). 7 of the 9 volcanic islands have been put on the highest alert – 250 thousand people live in the path of the storm. The islands, which are Portuguese territory, could be hit by waves up to 22 meters – 70 feet in height.

Update Thurs.: “Lorenzo brought sustained hurricane force-winds to Corvo Island, gusting to 101 mph. Winds of this strength have rarely been experienced in the Azores. AP reported numerous downed trees and power lines (a maximum gust of 128 mph was recorded on Flores). Civil Protection Agency said the main port on Flores had suffered “grave damage” – part of the dock, the port’s building and some cargo containers had been “swallowed” by the sea. (Wunderground)

UK: Torrential rains have swept across the UK, 1 Oct., causing floods, closing roads and railways, and leading to some places being evacuated. Over 150 flood warnings were  issued and some areas were hit by a week’s rain in just an hour. On the Isle of Man, a major incident was declared as a flash-flood trapped people in their homes. Elsewhere, drivers were rescued from cars. A change of wind direction spared coastal communities in Norfolk on evacuation alert from being flooded by a King tide. (BBC) The rain has moved away into northern Europe but further heavy rain and high winds are expected on Thursday as remnant Hurricane Lorenzo arrives. (Accuweather).

Update: The latest NOAA track suggests the worst of it will veer to the northwest of Ireland and Scotland’s Cape Wrath by Friday. Its sheer size, however (300 miles in diameter), will bring 70 mph gusts, torrential rain and heavy swells from its outer bands to western Britain. The Irish Met. Service has issued an “Orange Alert” wind warning for the entire western coast, with possible 45-foot waves.

India: More than 100 people have died due to flooding caused by “completely unexpected” late-monsoon rains in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Snakebites have caused several fatalities. Rail and road traffic, hospitals, schools and power lines have been disrupted. Patna was underwater as the Ganges overflowed; Varanasi reportedly awash with sewage. The Deputy Chief Minister and his wife had to be rescued from their flooded home. (BBC)

Senegal: At least 6 people have died and over 4,500 displaced by flooding around the capital, Dakar. 4 people were struck by lightning. Large areas of farm crops have been spoiled.

Korea: “At least 5 people have died and several are missing (in floods and landslides) after Typhoon Mitag swept through southern and eastern regions of South Korea on 3 Oct.” (Floodlist reports). Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province, recorded rainfall rates of 104.5 mm per hour, the highest since authorities began compiling the data in 1971.

USA: Accuweather reports: “Flash flood warnings remained in effect across several states (in a 1,500-mile corridor) stretching from New Mexico to Michigan on 1 Oct., as a narrow swath of soaking rain targets the middle of the nation. The combination of tropical moisture and a temperature battle zone will set the stage for the relentless rain, which (with ground soaked by endless rains all year) could result in widespread flooding.”

The heatwave stretching from Florida to New York, that has brought record-setting early Autumn temperatures to the East into the high 90sF, will be replaced by colder air this week.

Mexico: “Narda” made landfall near Lazaro Cardenas on 30 Sept. before weakening into a tropical depression. However, on Monday, the storm moved back over open water and strengthened back into a TS. Narda then made a second landfall in Sinaloa on Monday night. Acapulco recorded 7-in. of rain. “Tropical moisture will be pulled northward into New Mexico and Texas, where there will be additional flooding concerns.” (Accuweather)

Guatemala: 1 death has been reported and many buildings destroyed, highways blocked and schools closed, with over 5,000 people evacuated and 1,300 left homeless as heavy rains have caused flooding and landslides since the end of September. (Floodlist)

Australia: In a stuttering start to summer, Sydney experienced near-record October daily temperatures yesterday before the mercury suddenly plunged 15 deg. C in one hour. Mostly, though, heatwave conditions are building again across the entire country, and it’s been the worst start to a fire season on record.

Tunnel approaching….

Terra trema: The town of Dublin in the bay of San Francisco has had 36 earthquakes in the past week, 14 just yesterday (30 Sept.) It lies on the Hayward fault, which is part of the San Andreas. The town of Snyder in Texas was shaken by a M4, right in the middle of a fracking zone. (Mary Greeley)

The evidence is that quakes caused by fracking go on getting bigger, UK Gov. kindly note, as they’re getting bigger here too. There’s a serious environmental health risk on top, according to more than 1,200 research papers. Ban, now!

No sweat: “Hundreds” of migrant workers are dying of heat, working on World Cup football stadiums and other construction sites in Qatar, according to an investigation for the Guardian. Causes of death are registered by the authorities as cardiac arrest, but among apparently healthy young men experts believe this is masking numerous incidences of heatstroke as summer temperatures approach 50C.

Poo story: In Florida’s Miami-Dade County, where sea level has risen 4 inches since 1994, 105,000 residential properties still use septic tank sewerage, according to a new report. More than half are regularly “compromised” by higher tides and increasing rainfall and the situation is expected to worsen. (From: Wunderground)

Ironic deaths corner….

Your Uncle B. has long been interested in reports of “ironic deaths”. The latest such is that of respected US weatherman Bill Lapenta, “former director of the NOAA/NWS National Centers for Environmental Prediction”, who drowned in rough surf off the coast of North Carolina this week.

Surf that, er, weathermen had been predicting…. RIP, Bill.

 

Pumpkin 100 inflates like a speech bubble on GroMore: Can’t you hear that whistle blow… Faster-moving news… Even faster-moving news… Aid memoir… GW: several turns for the worse.

Boris Johnson meets the Queen

“You’re absolutely right, your Majesty, it does seem to be coming from my shoe.”

(Question: why does the Queen carry her handbag indoors? Is it for self-defense, or does she expect an incoming Conservative Prime Minister to walk off with it, like an unregistered plumber?)

 

Can’t you hear that whistle blow

In a spellbinding display of the measured reporting she is famous for, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow today (24 Sept.) pulls apart with forensic clarity, from many sources, the tangled threads of what connects Trump and Giuliani with Ukraine.

And it isn’t enirely what people are being conned by the president and his apparently demented, self-contradicting mouthpiece into believing it is. For that’s the simple, easily reversible story they are happy for the media to run with. Whether it’s a deliberate diversion or just a happy accident, no doubt we shall never be told.

It’s easy for everyone to swallow a story about Trump strongarming the young and inexperienced TV comedian president of Ukraine – who is in New York for the UN convention and due to meet him this week – by holding back $390 million of military aid, to dig up some absurd dirt on Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son.

That’s the kind of thing the dumbfuck base will be happy with. Here’s their hero, fighting for his political life. But see, there’s his feared opponent, how guilty is he?

And the Bidens are not helped by the facts.

Hunter Biden was unwisely on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, whose CEO was accused of corruption. Biden Sr, then Vice President to Obama, persuaded then-president Poroschenko to replace a state prosecutor who was failing to investigate the case properly.

Trump has tried to spin the story around so that it was the Bidens who were corrupt and had unethically used US power to remove an honest prosecutor in order to protect the son of the Vice President.

He has admitted, yes, I did pressure President Zelenskiy, because I wanted to get to the bottom of Joe Biden’s corruption and Hillary Clinton’s role in it. But he denies witholding aid, the missing “quid pro quo” the summary leaves out.

The threat was there – the aid had been suspended – but it remained unspoken. Which is a perfect echo of something Trump’s bagman, Michael Cohen, told the court: Trump never makes a direct threat but you always know exactly what he means.

All this, just to discredit a political opponent who might not even gain the Democratic nomination, as his poll numbers were already slipping behind those of the prim schoolmarm, Elizabeth Warren; who has at least the advantage in her 50s of being about 73 years younger than Sloppy Joe is.

Frankly, the Bidens should have had nothing to do with Ukrainian politics and business. The country is one of the most deeply corrupt states in Europe, and everyone knew it.

But not, perhaps, as corrupt as Trump’s USA.

Digging a little beneath the surface, Maddow raises the disturbing prospect that Russian organized crime is once again interfering in the US election, perhaps sanctioned by Putin – although he has his own electoral problems.

For Trump’s intention in his dealings with the new Ukrainian president, according to official sources in Kiev, has also been to persuade him to open another inquiry, to raise doubts about the guilt of Trump’s former associate and campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

He wants to claim that Manafort – who is serving 7 years in a federal penitentiary for money laundering, tax evasion and failing to declare a foreign interest – was in some way framed by the Bidens…. and Hillary Clinton.

He has cleverly put in the hours of groundwork, turning Clinton into his personal Steinberg, the “two-minutes of hate” figure in Orwell’s 1984 – convincing his base of gullible, adoring morons that she must be guilty of any crime he can point to, of which he is almost certainly himself culpable.

After several years of lucrative lobbying and image-work on behalf of the thuggish, profoundly kleptocratic former president and Putin crony, Viktor Yanukovych, Manafort, we are reminded, was deeply in debt to two immensely wealthy and dangerous oligarchs: Oleg Deripaska, Russia’s “Aluminum King”, who (according to Wikipedia) had murdered his way to the throne; and the handsome and urbane-looking Ukrainian, Dmytro Firtash – both of whom are regarded by the FBI as top-echelon Moscow mafiosi.

Yet somehow, Manafort managed to get himself appointed by, and vocally supported by, Trump as his election campaign chairman. As the Pumpkin has asked several times before, what did he bring to the party? Apart, obviously, from his handy connections to the Russian mafia? An organization to which substantial evidence connects Trump himself in the 1970s and ’80s.

Profoundly compromised – he’d offered to invest $17 million of Deripaska’s money in offshore blind trusts but the money mysteriously disappeared – Manafort was accused in the Mueller report of supplying confidential voter data to the St Petersburg troll factory implementing the Putin-sanctioned disinformation campaign to get Trump elected.

Data that related to voters specifically in the three most heavily gerrymandered states – Michigan, Wisconsin and Idaho – whose Electoral College delegates swung the election, which he had not won on the popular vote nationally, to Trump.

States where voter suppression by Republican legislatures – the rigging of qualification criteria to exclude tens of thousands of black and ethnic minority voters who always vote Democrat – was known to be rife.

Manafort was a plant.

Firtash, who benefits (on Putin’s orders) from a percentage cut of the sales of all the gas Russia pipes through Ukraine to western Europe, an income running into the $billions annually, has been fighting extradition to the USA from Austria on corruption charges for several years. Allegedly, he’d bribed Indian officials for a license to supply titanium for airframes to Trump’s favorite military contracting firm, Boeing. He also faced money laundering charges. (Bloomberg)

“In 2008, Manafort was part of an $850 million plan involving Firtash and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to purchase the Drake Hotel in Manhattan and convert it into a luxury property.” (Bloomberg)

The deal never finalized, while the FBI regarded it askance as a classic money laundering operation. But it places Trump’s campaign chairman right in the orbit of Russian organized crime. Was Manafort put there by these influential men, to be a senior informant on the inside?

Now, despite having a huge team of the best lawyers his bottomless pockets can buy, Firtash (who personally posted $137 million bail to the Austrian court!) has reportedly just hired a couple of deadbeat lawyers, Trumpsucking TV pundits off of Fox News.

Why? Well, assumes Maddow, because they’re the same two lawyers Trump almost hired in 2017, a husband-and-wife act, only to change his mind later because they didn’t look as smart as they had on TV. It’s a move that’s sure to get Trump’s fleeting attention. But for what?

Deripaska, formerly on the US’s no-entry sanctions list, was removed from that list last December at the bidding of Trump’s principal enabler in the Senate, Republican leader Mitch McConnell; whose wife, Transport Secretary Elaine Chao, is now under investigation by a Congressional committee for illegally channelling shipping contracts to her father’s company.

Contracts that some media speculation suggests may have included the supply of narcotics, such as the addictive opioid, fentanyl – a poison that is killing over 60 thousand Americans a year.

Deripaska, Maddow points out, seems to have either persuaded or rewarded McConnell with a pledge to build a massive new aluminum smelting plant in his home state of Kentucky; while as previously reported, McConnell may have benefitted to the tune of more than $70 million from campaign donations from firms to which Chao has awarded contracts in her husband’s Senate constituency, ahead of the 2020 elections.

(And according to The Guardian, he’s also receiving campaign donations from two Brazilian companies involved in the burning of the Amazon rainforest; both part-owned by the $300bn US private equity management firm, Blackstone.)

Who is there to investigate all this criminality? The FBI is stretched to the limit. But I digress.

Maddow’s not improbable conclusion, therefore, is that Putin oligarchs free to come and go are once again bankrolling efforts to get Trump elected, in a rerun of 2016. And he seems perfectly happy to let it be known that he welcomes foreign interference.

Tonight, it’s reported, House speaker Nancy Pelosi may have finally cracked and is about to call for impeachment proceedings, after weeks of stonewalling her own party in the belief that an inquiry would only give Trump a hostage to Fortune.

It now seems she may have accepted the alternative argument: that letting him continually get away with breaking the law and acting in contempt of Congress is setting a dangerous precedent.

Possibly encouraged by our own landmark Supreme Court ruling today, that the Executive does not have primacy over the elected Parliament, and that the law permits neither an arbitrary prorogation nor barefaced lying to the Queen for electoral advantage, Ms Pelosi may be embarking on a perilous but ultimately decisive journey.

While the normally supine Senator Graham has jokingly suggested that if Biden’s son is to be investigated, so too should Trump’s sons, it seems unlikely that impeachment will reach the bar of 60% of both houses, whatever treachery, perjury and lies Trump may have committed.

The Pumpkin doubts that he will respect for one moment, the verdict of any inquiry; nor will he allow witnesses to obey subpoenas to testify. Ultimately he may even carry out his threat not to accept the result of next year’s general election if it goes against him.

He said that last time, too.

With the Justice department and the Attorney General in his pocket, there seems little to be done but to wait for the real God’s Executive Order to drag this horrible man with his Faustian pact down to the fires of hell.

Although, sadly, as the Pope has admitted, death is final. No such fiery fate awaits him: only the verdict of history, that this was surely the worst, most corrupt president America ever elected.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcT5gMPUR_w

 

Fast-moving news

A couple of hours after posting the above, news broke that speaker Pelosi has indeed shifted her ground and declared an “impeachment investigation” by the six House committees she controls. It’s not the same as an actual impeachment, but already Trump has hit back with his signature “It’s all a plot against me” whinge.

Which, actually, it is. Only a perfectly open and legitimate one. And you fucking asked for it.

Your Pumpkin was moved to tears by the reaction of the normally annoying and whooping Late Show audience when Stephen Colbert announced the news. They rose as one to their feet and gave it a standing ovation lasting well over a minute. We tend to disregard how much Trump is hated in many parts of America. We liberals deserve a break.

First, however, you need to catch your hare. And Trump is neither going to appear before any committees nor allow any of his people to testify. We feel sure he will simply ignore any subpoenas and go on the attack against Pelosi in person, appealing to his heavily armed dumbfucks for support.

One hope, Intel committee chair, Adam Schiff has announced that the Ukraine “whistleblower” has agreed to appear before the committee in private on Thursday to repeat the statement they gave to the Inspector General, evidence of Trump wrongdoing that “acting” Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire is illegally witholding from Congress on the orders of Trump’s lapdog in the Justice Department, AG Bill Barr.

Let’s hope they make it through the door alive.

 

Even faster-moving news

Hi again. 18.01, local British Summertime…. You remember back in March, when Trump’s Attorney General, Bill Barr released a three-and-a-half page “summary” of the conclusions of the Mueller report over a weekend, a month before he allowed the full 480-page report out, with redactions?

And how people then thought the real report must also have exonerated the president of collusion and obstruction when it absolutely had not?

But by then they were sick of hearing about it and couldn’t be bothered to read it and so we all moved on?

No, of course you don’t remember. But it happened Just So, Best Beloved!

Well, Trumpy has gone and done it again, releasing a 4-page copywritten summary which the White House is calling an actual transcript of the 35-minute phone call in which Trump and Ukrainian president Zelenskiy discussed digging dirt on the Bidens, father and son.

The release, which seems to show that the callow, ex-TV comedian Zelenskiy was happy to go along with it, and to prove that Trump never threatened to withold $390 million of US aid unless he did, is nevertheless bound to satisfy numerous wavering Trump supporters that, as the Republicans in the Senate are saying, there’s nothing to see here.

It might also have the effect of taking the wind out of the sails of the “whistleblower”, who is due to testify to the Intelligence Committee on Thursday (Trump says he is a spy who should be executed. He is cracking up.) . Why bother with the whole cloth, when you can make a pocket out of a sardine, as the Russians say?

(Actually, I made that bit up. So what? Prove it!)

Now, the law is absolutely clear: a matter of national security concern brought to the attention of the Inspector General by a whistleblower SHALL, within 7 days, be brought before the Congressional Intelligence Committee.

But I suspect it says nothing about a hastily concocted summary produced by the legal team advising the suspect, leaving out all the relevant bits we all want to know about and sounding disconcertingly fluent in the English language.

With yet another bound, he was free.

Senile as he appears to be, this Mafia-trained ex-property developer and conman from Queen’s is slipperier than an eel; more difficult to shackle and drown in a tank of water than Harry Houdini.

Don’t expect much, or anything really, from the impeachment proceedings, except more bullshit; more evasions and distractions and lies.

 

Aid memoir

Justifying his witholding of military aid from Ukraine to force them to “investigate” Joe and Hunter Biden, a connection his random mouthpiece, Giuliani has both denied and admitted, Trump was yesterday saying he was right to do it because Ukraine was a “corrupt” country and you shouldn’t give aid to a corrupt country.

(That’s regardless of the fact that Congress, not the President, technically controls the military aid budget.)

Today, however, he is saying he witheld US aid because other countries, especially Europe, were not sending aid and it was unfair the US should have the entire burden.

Fact-checkers immediately turned up an OECD chart, showing that European institutions (eg NATO) and countries, plus Japan, had on the latest figures (2016-17) together contributed five times as much in aid to Ukraine as the US had.

Yet again Trump will say just about anything, tell any lie, to justify his erratic foreign affairs policy and thuggish criminal behavior, for which impeachment hearings are finally grinding into gear.

The problem being, that despite his record low poll ratings that have consistently refused to climb much above 40%, and polling showing every single declared Democrat candidate to date, however unlikely to win the nomination, is considered more electable than Trump, there are 60 million voters who still refuse to understand – or to much care – what they elected in 2016.

Sixty million voters who support whatever he does, whatever it is, who believe anything he says, because they trust someone they see on TV pretending to be a business tycoon to know how to run the country, more than they trust experienced political administrators.

And they may yet be enough to see him through.

 

GW: several turns for the worse

Europe: “The disturbance everyone was watching out of Africa, Lorenzo is now a hurricane and is gradually moving into favorable environmental conditions, with low wind shear and warm 26-28 °C SSTs. Both will likely lead to a significant intensification after tomorrow. Lorenzo should become a category 3 storm on Friday” before its forecast track takes a turn north-eastwards, to – The Azores. They’re technically Europe. It could end up in Portugal thereafter, the Bay of Biscay, or the English Channel. (Severe-weather.eu)

Middle East: Tropical Cyclone Hikaa – now downgraded to TS – made landfall in Oman on 24 Sept., bringing strong winds, heavy rains, some flooding and coastal waves of 3 to 4 metres. Schools were closed, some transportation disrupted and around 750 people evacuated to shelters. (Floodlist)

Sri Lanka: At least 1 person has died and almost 80,000 affected by heavy rain, landslides and floods after a storm swept across the country from the evening of 23 September, 2019. 124 mm of rain was recorded in 24 hours over the capital, Colombo. The highest rainfall was recorded the following day in a suburb of Negombo city in Western Province, where 272.3 mm (11-in.) fell in 24 hours. Many rivers are well above flood stage and further heavy rain is forecast. (Floodlist)

Puerto Rico: Over 5-in of rain fell on the already stricken island, still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017, as TS Karen passed over on its way out into the Atlantic. The storm impacted Puerto Rico just as the island dealt with several earthquakes and numerous aftershocks. A 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck on Tuesday night, close to where a M6 had earlier been recorded offshore. More than 50 tremors have rattled the area within 24 hours. No major damage was reported.

Wunderground added that as the storm’s wetter southern edge passes over on the 25th: “Localized rains could top 8” across eastern Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra, and the Virgin Islands.” The NHC is forecasting Karen could reintensify at the end of the week with possibly Cuba or an east-coast US mainland hit in view.

Trinidad: After last weekend’s floods, officials in Trinidad and Tobago are urging locals in the village of Piparo to be prepared to evacuate. A mud volcano over a subduction zone under the village is showing signs of an impending eruption, which will threaten many homes. The Piparo mud volcano’s last eruption, in 1997, displaced 31 families.

USA: Remnant hurricane, now Tropical Storm Lorena, has been pounding Arizona with rain, floods, landslides and even a rare tornado for the time of year, after passing over Baja California out of the Eastern Pacific. Accuweather reports on downed power lines and scattered debris from damaged buildings in the capital, Phoenix.

Tens of thousands of Southern Californians have been put on alert that their power may be shut off as hot air and strong winds have led to a warning of more wildfires. Meanwhile, the Dehesa Fire outside of San Diego has grown to about 200 acres in size and is only 10% contained with evacuation orders and warnings issued for nearby neighborhoods, as of 24 Sept.  (Accuweather)

Imelda made it to Number 5 in the shit parade of the wettest tropical storms ever recorded on the US mainland. “The peak of 43.39″ at North Fork Taylors Bayou, Texas puts Imelda fifth among the heaviest single-point rain producers”, as noted by Capital Weather Gang. (Wunderground)

Switzerland: “Italian authorities have closed off roads and evacuated homes after experts warned that a portion of a Mont Blanc glacier is at risk of collapse.” The mayor of the town of Courmayeur blamed ‘strong change due to climatic factors’ after “experts said up to 250,000 cubic metres of ice was in danger of sliding off the Planpincieux glacier on the Grandes Jorasses peak.” The movement of the glacier has speeded up following successive annual heatwaves. (Guardian)

Tunnel approaching….

UN: One slightly hopeful sign that came out of the UN conference on climate change was a pledge by a number of large corporations to take up to two years to come up with some ideas for reducing their carbon footprint by 2050.

Actually, that’s not really hopeful at all, is it. In fact, it’s pants.

Especially when, as the New York Times records: “According to data from CDP, a British-based nonprofit group that collects environmental data from companies around the world and is one of the organizers of the pledge, emissions reported by some signatories have increased by 50 percent or more since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.”

Start as you mean to go on, I always say.

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 99: Hi, and welcome to another Not the New York Times… Prorogationgate: Day 3 of the hearing… Turning a blind eye to the sky… The quality of Mercy is sometimes strained… GW: I’ve seen fire but I’ve seen even more rain.

The sum of $22 million offered by President Macron and other EU leaders at the G7 in Biarritz to help Brazil put out the fires that are still consuming the Amazon rainforest is, according to Jeremy Lent, writing in Open Democracy, the equivalent of what Americans spend on popcorn in a single day.

 

Hi, and welcome to another Not the New York Times.

Now, look. We have to begin with an apology. I did not mean to steal the above material, okay?

I’ve ineptly excerpted it (and I mean ineptly, I was only after a pull-quote but I drink far too much wine in these lengthening dark evenings and I got all the picture and headlines with it and couldn’t get rid of the bits I don’t want, the image is somehow all digitally glued together) from a very long New York Times report on Trump’s grunting pig efforts to rollback any environmental standards he associates with the black man’s previous regime, regardless of who actually signed them into law, even Reagan, in advance of this weekend’s New York conference on climate change that he has respectfully declined to attend.

It might rain, it might not, who knows.

So, Mr New York Times, please forgive me. You do ooopsie stuff too, from time to time, and it is said you are not very good at publishing stories about powerful men demanding extra favors from women. (Also, do get rid of that ridiculous medieval gothic masthead, you’re not the fucking Bible!)

The “Make Dishwashers Great Again” lobby is a pathetically transparent PR agency’s junior creative department’s act of desperation behind a falsely informed campaign to promote the white goods manufacturers, who are themselves perfectly at ease with Obama-era regulations on energy-saving; as without them, they won’t be able to export their products or compete with the output from Turkey.

Besides which, “energy-saving” translates to “cost-saving” efficiency for Mr and Ms Binary-Houseperson, so it’s a product-plus, something Trump can’t understand because when it comes to business he’s a defiant know-nothing.

Given the industry’s happiness with the global regulatory environment, just what has the orange lightbulb hater got against them? Personally, I could care less. I don’t have a dishwasher. I can wash dishes.

“The petition, titled “Make Dishwashers Great Again,” is just one part of a broad campaign coordinated by conservative organizations with ties to fossil-fuel companies.”

Them again. Disguised as humans, they induce people to consume more, not less, environmentally polluting energy in our kitchens, so they can poison our children and grandchildren and all go trooping merrily up to heaven in a Conga-line to meet their invisible Judaeo-Zoroastrian friend, who will allocate a schedule for having them kneel and praise his grumpy and unreliable old fascist Father with endless hosannas for all Eternity.

Their brand of Death is a deal that, frankly, sucks.

What is the matter with these sickos? Isn’t being the richest 1 per cent of sick fucking hemorrhoids on the planet enough for them, that they have to burn the place down to get even richer? You can’t take it with you, grrrlz! And you’re not taking me either, let me tell you. I’m staying right here, hoping to become extinct before I die.

I have suggested that if they have such an urgent need to meet their delusionary Jesus, they should just get on with it, poragy beards, sandals, AR-15s, fucking MAGA hats and whimpering hymns an’ all, and leave the rest of us alone to get on with our fights, pickling cabbages, marrying, and such.

Or maybe not. Jim Jones had the right idea, let’s see more of that Kool-Aid.

When will we find the courage to drag these life-denying Pharisees from their climate-change-proof bunkers and hang them out to rot in the public square?

 

Prorogationgate: Day 3 of the hearing….

James Eadie

“My client, Johnson is a fundamentally honest man, M’Lud, who would no more lie to the Queen than abandon his sick wife for a younger bit of tottie. I introduce in evidence, Mr Iain Duncan Smith’s snot-covered finger.” (Mr James Eadie, QC, argues the case for overturning 800 years of democracy.)

 

“The Fed just dumped $75 Billion into the economy…. possibly to avert a massive financial crash. Monday morning, large short term loans became unavailable and rates for these gigantic loans shot up. High interest rates caused financial crashes in the past. The Fed panicked and flooded the market with lots of money! The question is why were short term loans unavailable, where did that money go and what shot up the interest rates?” – Economist, Prof. Richard Wolff, on Thom Hartmann. You have been warned! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTPHWtZlqT0

 

Turning a blind eye to the sky

“In 2008 a survey of American Meteorological Society members found that only 24% of weather forecasters agreed that warming was caused by humans. In 2010, a study found that 54% agreed that global warming is happening. But by 2017 a full 90% agreed that a climate crisis is happening, and 80% indicated it was human-caused.” (Edited from Guardian, 18 Sept.)

A “full” 100 per cent, I could understand. Ninety is far from full!

“And the outlook for tomorrow, there’ll be a razorwire fence controlling our borders….”

So, 20 per cent of US TV weather forecasters daily warning of drought, fire, pestilence and flood either still don’t believe, or are somehow being prevented from admitting, what 97 per cent of scientists around the world as a whole – we are told – believe, on the basis of evidence, which is that if you pump up to 37 billion tonnes of, specifically, carbon dioxide gas into our finite breathable atmosphere every year, for many years, increasing over time, through burning vast amounts of carboniferous material, the climate is bound to be affected sooner or later.

It’s a logical inference. What’s wrong with that?

Once you have learned what was shown to be the case 130 years ago, that carbon dioxide – a natural component of the atmosphere, about 2 per cent – has the special capacity to trap radiant solar heat, thus raising the background temperature over time, it really isn’t necessary to have a PhD to grasp that one simple, basic concept; the more you put in, the hotter it gets, any more than it would be necessary to have a Physics degree to boil a kettle.

I suppose it might be plausible for some people to argue that natural variability in the Earth’s production of carbon dioxide from the great cycles trumps the volume of gas which humans cause to be emitted, and that it will all somehow be re-absorbed in the natural carbon sinks, but it wouldn’t really be a consolation, would it, given the sheer bloody obviousness that either way, it isn’t being, and thus we have a problem.

Not many scientists would go along with that idea anyway, since the concentration of carbon dioxide gas in the air and dissolved in the oceans, and the mean global temperature, are now measurably greater by far, and increasing faster, than at any time for millions of years, as evidenced in the fossil record, the warming oceans and the increasing severity of extreme weather events. Other heat-retaining gases, too, are in play. There is no known natural source of chlorofluorocarbons, for instance.

You may pay attention, if you wish, to the various models projecting the consequences of carbon emission and the likely etiology of its continuing accumulation, the observable increase in temperature, based on observation over time. Some are more highly alarming than others, but all point to the same conclusion: ours.

In fact, the Guardian Green Light story is more concerned with interviewing a handful of local US TV forecasters who are struggling to put even these simple concepts across in various subtle ways, so as not to put off American audiences who, they admit with chagrin, have virtually zero attention span, in order to warn them gently that some things are going to have to change, whatever the president says.

For, in another GGL story this week, a selection of US government officials describe in horrifying detail, the extent to which Trump has inserted climate-change deniers, energy industry lobbyists and otherwise unemployable non-scientists into the management tiers of all the key departments of state responsible for maintaining a healthy environment.

Nowadays, any and all research even daring to mention the possibility that we humans are causing a problem is being ruthlessly excised, bulldozed, buried; and the expert researchers bullied, ignored, censored, shunted aside into non-jobs or browbeaten into early retirement; some finding their reputations being trashed on social media.

Because the president wills it.

Surely the question has to be, why?

The explanation that the energy industry is entirely responsible for this situation through exploiting the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision to allow corporations to spend as much as they like on buying politicians and their votes goes only so far. While spending $millions on deflecting public attention away from it, most energy corporations will have privately admitted at some point in the past forty years that there is a problem, and they – or at least, their customers – are the cause of it.

(You’ll find a paragraph saying exactly that, even on Exxon-Mobil’s public website.)

Hurricane Dorian: the end of civilization looks very much like this.

There seems instead to be some underlying callousness motivating the Trump administration’s program of frantically cancelling all previous attempts by the legislature to mitigate the effects of carbon pollution and other environmental threats.

It’s as if born of one individual’s pathological hatred of the world, a profound resentment of its natural gifts, when almost their first act on taking office is to permit coal mining companies to discharge effluent untreated into open waterways.

Apart obviously from its being an act of gratitude to a coal baron who has just gifted your election campaign a million dollars, it seems like a brutal fist punching the face of Life; especially when it scarcely benefits the coal baron’s business interest to allow him to do something so bad that it can only ensure the opprobrium of the public and their local representatives; and even lead to the divestment of valuable shareholding institutions far from the coalface.

No-one likes drinking, brushing their teeth or bathing their children in filthy, black, carcinogenic water. Even coal barons know that. Less welcome too are the headlines.

Yet when it is presented as an act of kindness to local communities to allow their distant employers to cut corners and make extra profits from degrading their environment, that will be plowed back into more jobs and better wages – an entirely false premise, incidentally – you see a kind of moral deviousness at work, where total disdain for consequence translates into a pathological longing for limitless voter approval.

A  cynical confidence trick, yet it is one the poorly educated find comfortable to buy into, even as they watch their communities shrivel, starve, blow away, drown and die. It’s all the fault of the foreigners.

And if on the eve of another climate conference, another climate strike, a great heave of public concern, 20 per cent of TV weather forecasters are still vainly holding out against the tide of global consensus, that we have fucked the atmosphere, fucked the oceans and will, as a consequence, likely die out along with many species, unless very severe action is taken very soon now, what hope is there for the rest?

You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows, as the poet sang. Especially one turning a blind eye to the sky.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/society-unravels-future-grabs/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=52a333101a-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-52a333101a-408090269

A woman in Providence, Rhode Island, was admitted to hospital feeling faint, after her blood turned blue. The condition, doctors say, was brought on by overmedicating herself with a toothache remedy.

Your Uncle B. wonders idly, what then has been causing Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to turn black at frequent intervals?

 

The madness of King Donald…

Appointing former State Department lawyer Robert O’Brien to replace John Bolton as National Security Advisor, and mindful of O’Brien’s record in negotiating the release of US citizens held abroad, the Washington Post reminds us that: “the president claimed in April that O’Brien had called him the “greatest hostage negotiator in the history of the United States.”

The great negotiator, Mr Trump agreed to “medical expenses” of $2 million to get the terminally ill student, Otto Frederick Warmbier shipped home from prison in North Korea, where he’d been held for stealing a poster from his hotel room. Most commentators regarded this as the payment of a ransom, for electoral advantage.

Posing in front of a pile of steel components for his border wall, on which some construction has now begun, Trump informed the assembled hacks that his wall contains special, “very powerful concrete”. (MSNBC)

 

The quality of Mercy is sometimes strained

It’s tempting to join some kind of faith group in my old age, as I have no settled religion and no belief in anything much, other than the right to a quiet life interrupted as frequently as possible by classic cuts of modern jazz.

I like the attitude of the Pastafarian church, which holds that genuine religious freedom should include freedom from religion. “Its only dogma is that there is no dogma”, says Mike Arthur, an American documentary filmmaker currently focussing on this growing cult of blissful irresponsibility.

I guess if L Ron Hubbard had been born as that much finer and more nuanced writer, the great humanist Kurt Vonnegut, Scientology would be a lot more relaxed, with its irony on show for all to worship, instead of keeping its brainwashed adherents in an iron vise of blinkered corporatism.

In spaghetti we trust….

Yet Scientology, with all its ludicrous beliefs in non-existent mental energies, is recognized in many places as a genuine religion; while Pastafarians everywhere are struggling to gain recognition; although it has been officially noted in four countries so far.

The exquisite symbolism of the kitchen strainer, or colander, worn symbolically on the head, has not passed my notice. For a start, unlike Christianity it’s genuinely holey. Being metal, it can receive signals remotely, while protecting against thrown objects. And worn on the head, too, as a device for rinsing the sludge off canned foodstuffs it suggests brainwashing – yet with the freedom for ideas to spew out. It’s an item that brings forth solid nourishment, food for thought naturally, from a broth of hot, watery confusion; making sense of the Cosmos in a nonlinear way.

Just add sauce!

The “ten commandments” of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are reduced, helpfully, to only eight: “I’d really rather you didn’ts”, which is exactly how I speak to people, in a kind of cringing, deferential, frightfully British way, often in heavily accented English, when they piss me off. I’m always afraid of being punched in the face, as my front upper set cost me £3 thousand and could never be replaced if broken.

But if one wants to reduce one’s carbonara footprint, this is perhaps not the way forward.

The church, according to a Guardian article (what else?), “was founded in 2005 by Bobby Henderson, at the time a 25-year-old US physics graduate, as a response to Christian fundamentalists demanding the teaching of creationism in Kansas school science classes.” His delicious logic being that belief in a universe created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster is no less rational a scientific approach to creation as belief in an Intelligent Designer who makes lots of mistakes.

There’s a case before the European Court of Human Rights currently, in which a Dutch member – it’s pretty much worldwide – Mienke de Wilde is arguing for the legal right under freedom of religion in her country to be photographed for her driver’s license wearing a plastic kitchen strainer on her head, the symbol of her belief in not having to believe anything.

To support her case, she’s kept it on in public for the past three years, which at the time of writing appears to be the main stumbling block. Recognition of a religion by the court depends on it being a serious belief. Which it is, only expressed through a haze of tolerant, not to say stoned, good humor and puckish lateral thinking. Which again, is very much me. No?

My only concern about joining the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster would be that its dress code offends the balancing right of trypophobes not to be suddenly confronted with the distressing sight of an object pierced with a regular pattern of tiny round holes, which can induce panic in a sufferer.

Rather than turning to dishwashers for salvation, then, maybe I’ll apply to San Francisco instead, for membership of the Church of the Blessed John Coltrane.

Anything for a quiet life.

 

GW: I’ve seen fire but I’ve seen even more rain

USA: Flood watches remained in effect Wednesday morning (18 Sept.) across southeastern Texas as Tropical Depression Imelda’s heavy rain threatened to cause hazardous flooding and travel disruptions. As of early Wednesday morning, Imelda, which became a short-lived tropical storm on Tuesday before making landfall in Freeport, Texas, and heading for Houston, had produced over 22 inches of rain in places.

“Days of heavy rain fell in parts of South Dakota from 10 to 12 Sept., causing widespread flooding in the state. Meanwhile National Weather Service (NWS) is warning that the rain in South Dakota could result in another wave of flooding downstream along the Missouri River in Iowa and Nebraska.” Many all-time river flood-stage records are being broken. “Around 30 people had to be rescued from flood water in Madison, Wisconsin. Homes, roads and bridges were damaged and schools closed in affected areas.”(Floodlist)

India: “Over 4,500 people have been evacuated after flooding in the state of Rajasthan. The southern part of the state has experienced torrential rainfall since 13 Sept. Heavy rain in the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh, where 45,000 people have been displaced by flooding, has also increased levels of rivers in Rajasthan, in particular the Chambal river. Many homes have been without electricity for days. … Rainfall has been 42% higher than normal for the monsoon season.” (Floodlist) Monsoon flooding in India during late July and August killed at least 287 people. (Wunderground)

Spain:  Severe weather has continued since up to half a meter of rain fell over 11 and 12 Sept. Media reports say 6 people have now died and 3,500 evacuated, including 2,000 residents of the town of Santomera in Murcia as a precaution due to a controlled release from a local dam. Roads and schools have been closed as well as Murcia and Almeria airports. Fatalities were reported in Caudete in Albacete province, Almería, La Jámula in Granada and 2 people died in Orihuela. (Floodlist)

Algeria: “2 people have died after more flooding” caused by the same weather system as the floods in Spain. “Torrential rain on 12 Sept. also caused widespread damage in the capital Algiers and parts of Souk Ahras Province. 40 mm of rain reportedly fell in just 40 minutes. The mean total precipitation for September in Algiers is 28.3 mm. It’s the third flood event in the country this month.” (From Floodlist)

Atlantic: Approaching the Leeward Islands, Tropical Storm Jerry is forecast to intensify to hurricane strength over warmer waters. Hurricane Humberto is now at Cat 3, heading in the direction of Bermuda. In the East Pacific, Tropical Storm Lorena developed on Tuesday and will track dangerously close to Mexico’s western coastline by Thursday, 19 Sept. (Accuweather) Hurricane warnings are out.

Antarctic: Paul Beckwith writes: “Since the last week of August, the stratospheric polar vortex first became elongated and then completely destabilized, with some regions warming up abruptly from about -70C to an incredible +13C, causing the high altitude vortex to morph into two and then even three vortices. My understanding is that rapid loss of Antarctic sea ice in some regions and gain in others caused an asymmetry of sea ice around the continent, thus causing breakdown of the vortex.”

Earth: Despite the lack of an El Niño, and presumably under the dimming effect of many wildfires, “August 2019 was provisionally the second hottest globally since records began in 1880.” Only August 2016 was warmer, say the NOAA and NSA. Figures are not yet in for Japan. “Among global weather stations with a period of record of at least 40 years, 36 set new all-time heat records in August. There were no stations that set all-time cold records.” (Wunderground)

Global ocean temperatures during August were the warmest on record. In July, according to Arctic News, the oceans in the northern hemisophere exceeded 1 deg. C above the C20th average – at 1.07C a critical tipping point crossed. Oceans have absorbed over 90% of all global warming. Wunderground says: “It is virtually certain that 2019 will end among the top five warmest years in Earth’s history. This means that the six warmest years on record globally since 1880 will be the last six years—2014 through 2019.”

“Globally … on the afternoon of September 13, 2019, peak methane levels as high as 2605 ppb were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite at 586 mb.” (Arctic News) (Note: that’s nearly 400% of 1750 levels.)

The 2019 tally of billion-dollar weather disasters is 20 as of the end of August. Typhoon Lekima cost China $9.3bn; the Indian monsoon so far, $5.5bn. There have been two more billion dollar weather disasters thus far in September, including Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the Bahamas, for which no figure is yet available (Source: Aon Insurance).

Arctic sea ice extent during August 2019 was the second lowest in the 40-year satellite record, not far behind 2012. (National Snow and Ice Data Center). Ice volume, depending on thickness, is a different matter – it’s the lowest ever recorded (Paul Beckwith).

Wales, UK: This is now, believe it or not, the fifth day of almost unbroken, if hazy, wall-to-wall sunshine; although the flowers had a little blessing during the night before last. The temperature in my shady front garden currently at 13.00 is 24 deg. C. (19 Sept.) The daytime high for September in the UK averages 18C. Truly, these are the Fortunate Isles.

Update: Friday, 20 Sept. Climate strike day, the Autumn equinox and another cloudless sunny morning on the west coast. At 09.15, the thermo climbs past 17C. by 13.00 it is 25C. This is very pleasant but slightly unusual. “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”? Keats’ famous poem is 200 years old this week.

Same again tomorrow, but the forecast is for rain arriving Sunday and even thunderstorms by Monday. Phew! Saved by the bell.

There are 2.9 billion fewer birds in the U.S. and Canada now than 50 years ago — reports the New York Times.

“While some species grew, the majority declined — often by huge numbers — including traditionally abundant birds like robins and sparrows. Habitat loss, pesticides and house cats are among the likely culprits, and experts say the declines are a dire warning about the planet’s well-being.”

The Pumpkin – Issue 98: Let us celebrate John Bolton Day, 10 September annually, when we burn him and his noxious mustache in effigy…When will they ever learn?… Johnson: there’s no explaining it. Or is there?…GW: Still thinning on the top…

 

Quote of the week:

twitter.com/IamHappyToast/status/1171050051860422657

 

Boris Johnson (right) opening the guestbook at the page signed by Donald Trump and his wife Melania before holding talks with Leo Varadkar (centre) at Government buildings in Dublin

“Oh look, it’s Sharpie and Harpie!”

Johnson finds the Trumps got to Ireland before him (and complained about the bedbugs).

 

Let us celebrate John Bolton Day, 10 September annually, when we burn him and his noxious mustache in effigy

Bolton has, he says, quit his position as President Trump’s National Security Advisor, after a row with the thin-skinned, permatanned one over being sidelined over talks with the Taliban.

His account doesn’t quite square with the White House’s, that Trump fired him, but the effect is the same. Many people are joyfully hailing the possibility that Trump’s next pick might be a less irascibly Irish, more peaceable fellow with fewer instincts for regime change and imposing US-style democracy on the world by force of arms.

(US media count eight wars prosecuted with Bolton’s involvement.)

Trump announced just days ago that he had cancelled peace talks with the Taliban, due to be held at Camp David, following another onslaught by Taliban forces that killed lots of Afghan civilians. Bolton’s astonished response indicated that Trump had kept him out of the loop.

But in addition to not wanting a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, the mustachioed one also opposed Trump’s famous nuclear deal with North Korea (that hasn’t quite yet happened) and attempts to renegotiate the perfectly sound Obama-signed deal Trump abrogated with Iran, where Bolton made no secret of wanting to invade.* Trump is also concerned that Bolton is advocating replacing Venezuela’s President Maduro by force.

As usual, he learned of his fate by tweet. Trump is a terrible coward when it comes to firing people face-to-face. Especially that face.

For some reason, oil prices fell on the news.

*Secretary of State, Mike “two lunches in a suit” Pompeo is today trying to spin an attack by drones flown by Yemeni rebels on a key Saudi Barbarian oilfield as having been perpetrated directly by Iran. These people will never give up their insane ambition for US business to conquer the planet.

 

When will they ever learn?

This is the story roughly as told by a US online news comment show, TYT Nation, which has an inaudibly adenoidal and slow-minded presenter. I hope the details are correct.

So. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump convinced the voters of key swing-state Wisconsin and its controversial Republican governor, Scott Walker, that he’d done a $4.5 billion sweetheart tax deal with Chinese electronics giant, Foxconn, to build a huge plant that would, by 2022, employ 13 thousand of the state’s great workers.

Everyone took him at his word.

Foxconn is known principally for manufacturing iPhones on contract to Apple – and for its notorious addition of anti-suicide netting to its factory rooftops in China after a spate of migrant workers reportedly threw themselves off while suffering depression after being made to work many illegal extra hours for no extra pay, often sleeping at their workstations, inhaling toxic chemicals, while far from home and warehoused on-site in vast, impersonal dormitories.

Things seemed to be moving ahead when demands to purchase land (including residential homes) went out from the state authorities, residents being threatened with compulsory removal without compensation if they refused to sell (known in the US as “eminent domain”, where the government deems there to be a strategic necessity and is empowered to seize property). 75 homes were thus bulldozed, families forced out, and a large site cleared for buildings and an access road, that have yet to be built.

Indeed, construction has not yet started, and very probably never will be.

Because Trump’s deal never existed. It was a scam, so it appears.

In the meantime, Foxconn had opened a small plant employing just 60 people, of whom 15 – unpaid interns – were almost immediately let go because there was no work for them to do. (That was my first “work experience” too, being fired for no reason, age 16! UB.) $7 million had been spent on a campaign to recruit workers from out of state, as the necessary skills didn’t exist locally among the “great” workers of Wisconsin.

Since when, Trump has imposed swingeing trade tariffs on China, sanctioned the equally giant Huawei electronics company (bullying Google to stop supporting its Android apps on Huawei cellphones and attempting to prevent foreign countries from incorporating Huawei-supplied components in 5G networks), imprisoned one of its senior executives on possibly Trumped-up copyright theft charges, and the Foxconn deal has apparently gone sour – if it ever properly existed, there seemingly being no signed contract committing them to deliver anything.

So much for the Great Deal Maker. So much for “America First!” – the deal benefitted only the Chinese, but does he care? He got the votes.

Maybe not next time.

And maybe Congress, desperately running to catch up to Trump’s astonishing record of emoluments violations which he continues to indulge (and deny!) while in office, visibly enriching himself and his family at public expense, could start looking into his and Kushner’s relationships with Chinese banks, to see how such sweetheart deals might improve their position of chronic indebtedness with these state-owned entities.

“When will they ever learn?” As Marlene Dietrich so poignantly sang.

(Report: TYT Nation, citing Bloomberg and others)

 

A French company has been found liable for the death of an employee who had a cardiac arrest while having sex with a stranger on a business trip. A Paris court ruled that his death was an industrial accident and that the family was entitled to compensation. (BBC)

And we want to leave the EU?

 

Time to end it, #11,947

Late of RT-USA, Thom Hartmann is one of the more sober, centre-left, articulate and extremely well-informed of the many independent online podcasters – forgive me, I’m uncertain of the terminology. Vloggers? – found in 15-minute clips on YouTube.

In a thoughtful piece, he reminds us that the increasing public acceptance of corruption in high places is destroying the country – and Trump didn’t invent it. Nixon, Reagan and George HW Bush all had their own corruption scandals hushed-up, that nobody talks about. As of course did Clinton, although he got impeached for lying.

However, unless the Congress is willing to call Trump out for what he is, and importantly also make an example of his many corrupt officials and enablers, future presidents will think themselves at liberty to behave even more irresponsibly.

It’s worth a watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTUcvDy625U

While over on CNN even Anthony Scaramucci, the excitable, cocky, potty-mouthed little New York “investment manager” who lasted ten days as Trump’s Head of Communications during which he appeared to go crazy with power, is now quietly and soberly and articulately proposing that the Republican party has to overcome its fear of the office, put up some credible opposition in the primaries, and quietly remove Trump on medical/psychiatric grounds, as the President is clearly unwell and lying insanely through his ill-fitting teeth about absolutely everything.

Surely to God, when the President of the United States becomes so completely obsessed with proving he didn’t make a silly mistake over a goddam weather forecast that he crudely (and illegally) fakes an official map, and when even his Commerce Secretary and his Head of Staff get dragged into the row, when threats are made of senior meteorological heads rolling for failing to protect him, the “Is it time to question his mental competence?” headline must now gain some traction, finally, after three years of this seemingly never-ending lunacy?

 

Global laundromat

According to US historian Lamar Waldron, President Nixon would receive money from foreign potentates to influence US policy, for his “re-election fund”, and would put the money on deposit with a crooked bank run by his friend, Bebe Rebozo.

At one stage, says Waldron, as a means of turning the capital into completely untraceable cash income, the two men actually bought a coin-operated laundry business in Florida.

 

Where are they now? #147

“Business dealings between US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and wealthy Malaysian developer Tiah Joo Kim, are being investigated by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, CNN reported. Quoting a former and a current US official, CNN reported that the FBI is scrutinising the negotiations and financing surrounding the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver. The US$360 million Trump tower was developed by the 37-year-old Tiah, the son of tycoon Tony Tiah Thee Kian.” (Straits Times, 4 Mar., 2018.)

And…..?

Well, there was a hint of an insinuation in US media at the time that Trump may have been looking for reasons to move his beloved daughter and Plastic Ken out of the White House, where he found them an irritating distraction from his autocratic project. He really doesn’t like being told what to do. And sundry reports of the business model followed by Trump Org. might suggest a possibility of money laundering, although a cursory check shows Kim seems sound enough, for a Malaysian businessman.

Still, as with so many other matters Trumpian under investigation that the national blanket of amnesia seems to have gently fallen over since 2017, it would be nice to know what happened, after 18 months.

Indeed, what has happened to that other FBI inquiry, also floated by the Straits Times, into allegations that money from the £4.5 billion MDB1 sovereign wealth fund scam ended up in Trump’s SuperPAC, while his buddy, Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy, was allegedly trying to shakedown one of the prime suspects for $73 million, to make the investigation go away?

Could we not be told before the Orange One gets re-elected, maybe?

 

Johnson: there’s no explaining it. Or is there?

Despite:

  • losing his first six votes in the Commons as Prime Minister,
  • abandoning his wife to face surgeries for cervical cancer* and running off with a much younger woman,
  • being outed as a drunken domestic abuser,
  • making increasingly incoherent and rambling speeches,
  • insulting other European leaders, women and minorities,
  • firing 21 members of his own party for ‘disloyalty’,
  • making even Corbyn look good at Prime Minister’s Questions,
  • having no plan to exit the EU by 31 October despite pretending he has,
  • being under the malign control of a monstrous egomaniacal psychopath,
  • having shut down Parliament for 5 weeks to avoid having to ask for an extension to Article 50,
  • refusing to allow staff and aides to surrender evidence of collusion over his No-Deal strategy,
  • threatening to ignore the law that says he can’t leave the EU without a deal or an election, putting himself at risk of imprisonment,
  • conning the Queen into conspiring in an illegal prorogation of Parliament,

…and after even his own brother has resigned the Tory whip – along with other serving ministers who can no longer stomach his lies, laziness, incompetence and grand delusions –

Boris Johnson still has a lead in the polls.

“Still, ‘e’s jolly entertaining. Remember ‘im on TV? Cor blimey, ‘e were funny! ‘e’ll teach them garlic-munchin’ sausage eaters a fing or two abart good old British spunk!”

Yes, it’s the 80th anniversary of the start of the years when plucky little Britain stood alone against the ravening might of the European Nazi horde. And by God, if Brussels wants to rule the waves, we’ll do it again! Winston Johnson is the man for our times! (Even if he has sacked @realWinston’s grandson.)

Heil Boris!

*Any woman who has had unprotected sex with Johnson should go for screening immediately, as male partners may carry the Human Papilloma virus, believed to be a common cause of cervical cancer.

 

GW: Still thinning on the top

France: According to the Ministry of Health, 567 people died from proximate causes during France’s first heatwave this year, from 24 June to 7 July. A further 868 died during the second from 21 to 27 July. France recorded its highest-ever temperature of 46C (114.8F) in June. (BBC) Extra precautions this time prevented the much greater loss of life – 15 thousand – experienced in the heatwave of 2003. Over half this year’s victims were 75+; 10 died while at work.

Japan: “A powerful typhoon in Japan has left more than 100 flights canceled, thousands of travelers stranded at the airport, and nearly 1 million households without power. Typhoon Faxai, which made landfall early Monday morning in the coastal city of Chiba, brought heavy rain and winds of 128 miles per hour, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.” The storm then moved over Tokyo where it paralyzed public transport, stranding thousands of commuters. (CNN). 3 people are known to have died. More storms are forecast, with 30+ degrees C. and 80 per cent humidity for Rugby teams to contend with, as they gather in training camps in advance of the World Cup.

The verdict: “Cat 4, weakening to 3, Faxai was the strongest typhoon to hit Tokyo in recorded history. “Though the storm is now heading out to sea, strong winds and heavy rainfall are still affecting the west coast of the country. The Foreign Office has put out some official travel advice for rugby fans looking to head to Japan. ‘Strong winds and heavy rainfall are expected,’ they say, ‘with potential disruption to transport and other essential services.'” (The i)

Korea: “Typhoon Lingling passed over the Korean peninsula 8 Sept., leaving 5 dead and 460 houses damaged or destroyed in North Korea, according to state media. The storm flooded 460 sq km (178 sq miles) of farmland, the official KCNA news agency said, in a country already suffering food shortages.” Lingling earlier killed 3 people in South Korea, including an elderly woman picked up by the wind and slammed headfirst into a wall. (BBC)

Cambodia: 7 people have died in recent floods, which have displaced 7 thousand families and inundated thousands of homes. Flooding has also caused severe damage to crops and livestock. Rivers continue to rise. Further heavy rain is expected. (Floodlist)

Australia: More than 80 fires have been burning for days on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Guardian Australia reports, some 20 properties have been destroyed and another 27 have been damaged since the bushfire crisis began on Thursday, including the historic Binna Burra Lodge. The ruins of the lodge, one of the oldest nature-based resorts in Australia, are surrounded by blackened remnants of what used to be lush Gondwana (primeval) rainforest in the UN heritage Lamington National Park.

The minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said he “doesn’t know” if climate change is man-made, and it’s not important – as long as Australia continues to produce “high quality” energy from coal. The Environment minister, a woman of some kind, equally pig-ignorant, has rallied to his support.

Granny Weatherwax comments bitterly: The world has more than its share of tenth-rate, moronic, venal or corrupt liars, ecocidal criminals careless of the now unavoidable fate of humankind and the truncated lives of their own children, greedy for money and a little transient power. Why do so many of them have to end up working as politicians? And in Australia?

New Zealand: Heavy rain on 10 Sept. prompted evacuations and caused flooding and landslips in the Coromandel Peninsula. 260mm fell in 24 hours. A local civil defense manager commented: “Although we saw the rain coming, it was twice as intense as we were advised.” (Floodlist)

West Africa: Floods continue to spread across Nigeria. In Niger, the death toll from last week’s flooding has risen to 57. Flooding in Chad and Mali has displaced hundreds of families. Several other countries are affected. The UN is talking of a humanitarian crisis. At least 7 people have died in a landslide in southern Ethiopia. The disaster occurred after heavy rain during the afternoon of 07 Sept. (Floodlist)

USA: Accuweather reports: There are dozens of active wildfires in the western U.S. from California to Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. The Walker Fire, burning in the Plumas National Forest in Northern California has consumed more than 44,000 acres and was only 10% contained as of Tuesday morning. Temperatures are forecast to climb back to and above seasonable levels later this week and into this weekend.

Yes, it’s been a bit cooler in the West the last few days. So much so, that several inches of snow have fallen in Utah….

Meanwhile for a swathe of the Midwest from Kansas through to Minnesota, guess what? That’s right! Hail, torrential rain, flash flooding, tornadoes, damaging winds…. No such thing as climate change. Not happening. 3x T-2 tornadoes that touched down in Sioux Falls, S. Dakota on 11 Sept. left a shopping district in shambles, downed power lines and caused severe damage to a hospital. (Accuweather)

Mid-Pacific, Hawaii posted its hottest summer on record. Data for a handful of specific sites—Honolulu, Hilo, Lihue, and Kahului—reports Weather Underground, make a strong case that this summer’s heat across Hawaii has been unprecedented, setting many new records both high and highest low.

Oh, and don’t tell Trump – “A tropical wave festering near the Southeast Bahamas may gradually organize as it heads toward Florida and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.”

Turkey: For some reason, we missed – oh, I remember, your Gran was away – torrential rain and severe flash flooding in Istanbul on 17 Aug. Some parts had 100mm rain in a few hours. Anyway, back in the Mediterranean, more torrential rainfall with potential for widespread flash flooding is the forecast for the rest of the week for Spain and the western Med. 11 Sept. And we’re talking up to half a meter of rain in places. (Severe-weather.eu)

Arctic: Watching the BBC Weather forecast for the week, I suppose it’s no surprise forecaster Darren Betts concentrates on remnant Dorian and remnant TS Gabrielle bringing wind and rain – and then warming temperatures, followed by high pressure – to the Fortunate Isles by the weekend. As your Gran has often observed, however, it’s what’s going on over his left shoulder that’s of more interest.

A massive wave of warm, tropical air preceding what look like two more cyclones is shoving up past Iceland into the Arctic, where 17 September is the annual peak day for summer ice loss – already at a record low volume. Arctic News reports, 9 Sept., current air temperatures across the polar region at 4.41C over the 1880-1920 (?) global average and sea surface temperatures off Svalbard at 15.2C above the 1981-2011 average.

Mean global methane levels (720 ppb in 1750) were as high as 1911 ppb on the morning of 3 Sept. Methane is increasing faster than CO2 and up to 150 times more damaging. The “Sam Carana” editorial team is still betting on an extinction-level 5C global rise by 2026 and fretting that it will include enough methane to trigger the loss of reflective marine stratocumulus cloud, leading to an additional 8C of warming. (Arctic News)

Antarctic: A possibly unprecedented, sudden warming of the stratosphere over Antarctica, with temperatures an alarming 40C above normal, reveals just how complex climate science can get. Because, the effect is to push cold air at lower altitudes out sideways: thus large parts of Australia will see its already record-hot Spring temperatures plummet to a wintery 10C below-normal anomaly next week, lowering the risk of more wildfires – while the heat in the stratosphere will also have the effect of preventing the chemical reactions that cause the annual widening of the as-yet unrepaired hole in the ozone layer, actually helping to shrink it (and thus reduce damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the ground). (extreme-weather.eu)

It’s an ill-wind, as they say.

Tunnel approaching….

Fukushima: The Tokyo Electric Power company responsible for cleaning up the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear facility where three reactors melted down after the 2011 tsunami, has said it is running out of storage space for over a million tonnes of radioactive coolant it has been only partly successful in decontaminating, and will need to start emptying it untreated into the Pacific by 2022. Local fishermen are protesting.

Bahamas: While government figures are still claiming the death toll from Hurricane Dorian is just 45, local media are speculating that 3 thousand or more may have died. Officially, 2,500 are missing (12 Sept.) Geographer and climate change activist, Prof. Paul Beckwith has looked at the numbers and estimates on the basis of local eyewitness accounts, population distribution, figures for missing, how many people may have left the island in time and the impact of the storm seen in photographs, that the final toll could be as high as 40 thousand.

Iceland: volcano watchers are monitoring a build-up of pressure in the Grimsvoten volcanic field under the huge Vanajökull glacier in anticipation of a major eruption. “The trend has increased lately, and with stronger earthquakes and more pressure in the volcano, it is possible for Grimsvotn to erupt within the next 4-12 months.” say the experts. They don’t know which volcano might blow, but bets are on Hekla, the most frequent eruptor. (Severe-weather.eu)

Human extinction: John Doyle is the EU’s director of Policy Outreach and International Affairs. He gives a scary presentation in a video recorded at a recent symposium for UN aid agencies, available for now on the Arctic News website, in which he confirms the little publicized diagnosis of climate scientists that we are looking down the barrel of a planet-killing 10 deg. C of warming within the next “20 to 30 years”.

To get there, he notes, we have to pass 4 degrees, and that’s curtains for most of the human race. Food yields, he points out, are already plummeting due to climate change; parts of the world have already become almost uninhabitable due to excessive “wetbulb” temperatures. Vertebrate species and insect populations have collapsed. Forests are burning. And there is no “unless…” – no technological solution is on the horizon and one becomes even less likely as we try to retreat from fossil fuels, effectively ending global action. We have done this to ourselves.

“Most of you will be here at the end”, he concludes.

http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/

Brexit – a family tragedy… Let’s get away from it all… No it can’t be… I talk to the trees (but no-one listens to me)… GW: Deep breath, everyone.

Quote of the Week

“If we still read philosophy, literature, history, poetry and theology we would not be surprised that greed, hedonism and hubris have easily defeated empathy and reason. But because we do not, because we spend hours each day getting little bursts of dopamine from electronic screens, we think we are unique in human existence. … The only existential question left is how we will choose to wait out the finale.” – Chris Hedges, writing on Truthdig.

And in his bleak article, Hedges quotes the philosopher John Gray: “Whatever they become, tyrannies begin as festivals of the depressed.”

http://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-last-act-of-the-human-comedy/

While for a sobering reminder of how whole populations can be sucked into the maelstrom and drawn to destruction by the actions of a few ambitious men, please watch the 3-part BBC docudrama series The Rise of the Nazis, if you possibly can.

The BogPo’s only hopeful comment is that instead of hubristic militarism, the 21st-century version merely requires that we enslave ourselves as consumers to the corporate ethos until the order collapses in the face of global climate catastrophe.

 

Brexit – a family tragedy

If any more evidence is needed of the divisive, corrosive effects of Brexit, the subversion of democratic process by unelected “dei ex-machina” and the strong echoes, both of the English Civil War and the rise of the Nazis, it must surely be the tragic letter published in today’s Guardian from historian Paddy Docherty to his Tory MP and government whip brother, Leo.

Reminding him that their family were once Communist shipyard workers in Glasgow, he writes:

“How important is your own job when something as priceless as parliamentary democracy is under threat?

“I was once proud and impressed as you entered parliament – that was just two years ago. Now I am simply appalled that this government, of which you are sadly a part, has become the principal threat to the lives and liberties of the people. Please do the decent thing, and resign.”

This is unbearably sad. But it is probably a devastating rift that is being repeated across hundreds of breakfast tables and at fissiparous family celebrations the length and breadth of this divided land.

Your Uncle B. is perhaps fortunate to know no Leavers; at least, none who will openly admit to their private vice. And to have such a very tiny family – at least, those whose identities I actually know. When in working groups, such as my extended jazz family of musicians both amazingly proficient and amateurishly exuberant, there is an unstated vow of omerta.

Personally, having argued forcefully for years – since 2013, in fact, when an intention to hold a referendum was first announced, and The BogPo predicted just this outcome – that leaving the EU is a dangerous idea that plays into the hands of a few very selfish and greedy people, such a blindingly clear fact that a slender majority of the minority who could be bothered to vote seemingly failed (and continue now to stubbornly refuse) to appreciate – I fear I have become numbed to the inevitability of it all. As when your flight is delayed, the only recourse is to surrender to the process.

Thus Brexit can also create its rifts within the individual heart.

And that’s the worst part of it, that I am looking forward more to the arrival at around midday of my new guitar, a (ridiculously cheap Indonesian copy of the expensive instrument I can no longer afford) birthday present to myself; and am busying myself with thoughts of possibly replacing its low-end pickups and strings and tuning pegs and tremolo bridge with sturdier versions, putting lipstick on a pig, as Sarah Palin once said about something or other.

Although I like pigs, we used to breed them in the wholesome air of freedom and sell delicious sausages at market. I’m no stranger to slaughter, when it comes to the sticking point.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/03/open-letter-brother-resign-government-no-deal-brexit

 

Let’s get away from it all

Fifty-four people, mostly Americans, have paid up to £194,390 each to spend 245 days on a cruise liner, circumnavigating the globe on what is being billed as something or other, cruise of a lifetime, luxury escape from Donald Trump, whatever.

It sounds like a recipe for another Poseidon adventure.

At the top of the range, you get your own 12-man boardroom, chef, kitchen and wine cellar. For the steerage passengers (only £66,950), eight restaurants have worked out 245 menus, one for each day. “There is more food than you can ever imagine.” promises Viking’s Head of Sales, lasciviously (many people can only imagine that much food, actually. Principally because they don’t get that much to eat.) There are of course other passengers, it’s just that they’re getting off at Los Angeles, where more get on.

“It won’t be something that is exclusive to millionaires,” says Alex Loizou, director of sales and marketing at Mundy Cruising. “It will be ordinary people.” Yeah, right. That’s what I’d be afraid of, actually. Smug retired couples with unfeasibly large pension-pots. Tragic lottery winners. Refugees from Downton Abbey.

Eat your heart out, Agatha Christie… we’re laying bets on who the murderer will be.

40 years ago, your Uncle B. spent two weeks on a guided cruise around the sites of classical antiquity in the eastern Mediterranean as the guest of the organizers, with the aim of producing a short piece for radio promoting their business.

It was quite a small boat with just the one restaurant serving a sadly imaginable quantity of food, and I honestly thought I would go mad with boredom. Apart from my wife, who was unwell most of the time (it later turned out to be hepatitis C), there was only one other passenger aged under about 60 onboard, a teenager, so with little else to do but traipse around ruins, I managed to run up the biggest bar bill of anyone.

They rejected my piece.

 

No, it can’t be!

As any fule ‘kno, a coincidence is just when you happen to notice two different things happening at the same time that appear to be related to one another, when they’re probably not. Most psychologists will tell you, there’s no such thing: it’s just that you’re in a particularly receptive frame of mind. (Actually, the Father of Modern Psychology, Dr Jung believed in them, so he gave them a scientific name: synchronicities.)

So, a few days ago I told you about The Lucky Jew – a somewhat dubious tourist souvenir a friend brought back for me from Poland three weeks ago – and how, the very next day, I won £30 on the lottery, something I’d never done before – I don’t usually do the lottery, it’s just an occasional whim when I’m feeling unloved.

This morning I opened a letter from the bank – something I don’t often do either – to find a deposit in my account that precisely to the pound matched the amount I’d had to remove two weeks ago to cover the cost of my annual pilgrimage to sing jazz in the Loire. So I was no worse off!

While in France last week, during the course of a conversation over breakfast one day, I recounted an apposite story of how I’d been shopping at the local supermarket a while back, and was surprised to hear quite a young man, a student, wandering by while humming a tune called “Fly Me to the Moon”, a 1960s Sinatra hit and now a tiresomely overdone jazz standard on courses and on bad karaoke nights.

Shopping at the same supermarket just an hour ago, a man wandered past, humming “Fly Me to the Moon”….

 

I talk to the trees (but no-one listens to me)

Okay, so the plan is to plant a trillion trees and save the world from overheating.

First, let’s establish that a trillion is a thousand billions, and a billion is a thousand millions, and a million is a thousand thousands, and a thousand is ten hundreds, and a hundred is ten tens, and ten is your fingers and thumbs – or your toes.

Imagine a football stadium holding fifty thousand people. See their eager faces? 20 stadiums is a million people. 200 thousand stadiums is a trillion people. Aren’t you sick of seeing their faces?

Put another way, a trillion is 1 followed by 12 noughts; each nought being the increasing power of x10.

It’s quite a lot of trees, too. Growing and distributing and planting out that many saplings – baby trees – is going to take energy, lots of it – human and otherwise. And where is your source stock of seeds and whips (live cuttings) for that many trees? How many nurseries, with how much space?

And who will pay them to do it?

Roughly 15 per cent of saplings survive transplantation, so we’ll need 6 trillion to start with. Who is going to grow 6 trillion saplings, and where?

Trees need water. They don’t like salt. Is there enough fresh water on the planet to keep a trillion trees alive to maturity, say at a gallon a day? Increasing to maybe ten gallons a day as they grow? Ten trillion gallons a day? (Don’t ask how many Olympic swimming pools is that… it’s 10,000,000,000,000 divided by 660,400, okay?)

And us? Does that leave enough fresh water to keep us alive too? And the other animals and plants? And all those industrial processes and agriculture – in Chile, where the soil is dry, it takes 100 US gallons of water to produce one avocado.

Yes, transpiration will put fresh water back into the amosphere. To add to the increased rainfall and flooding we’re already experiencing.

The trees will need to grow rapidly and well if they are going to suck all that carbon dioxide out of the air to make themselves bigger and more useful at removing carbon, which will take many years.

And when they die, they’re going to put it all back out again.

Right now, millions upon millions of trees are dying. Many in wildfires that are eating up areas of southern tropical, temperate and northern boreal forests the size of small countries every year.

Now, burning trees are putting up soot particles high in the atmosphere, reflecting sunlight back into space. Burning the forests rather than planting them may be the best way for now of countering the effect of warming from their and our carbon emissions.

On our walk yesterday, 31 August, I stood in full, blazing sunshine, felt its warmth, and thought no, this isn’t right, there’s not enough warmth. It ought to have been 2 or 3 degrees hotter. The sky looked blue, but it isn’t. The hemisphere is wreathed in a fine layer of smoke.

The “global dimming” (aka “aerosol masking”) effect of the sooty particles from 36 million burned acres of Siberian forest this year, more tens of millions of acres from Alaska and British Columbia, South America, Central Africa, Indonesia and now Australia again must be pretty substantial.

Millions of trees are also being cut down just to burn for “bio” energy and to make products – houses, sheds, shelf units, kebab skewers, paper. Many to clear land to grow cows for burgers and soybeans for soy sauce and tofu, and biogas and palm oil for just about anything.

Can we just stop cutting down trees, maybe? Can we stop eating cows and tofu with soy sauce and margarine, driving cars on ethanol? Can we stop trees from burning, in a warmer world?

Because otherwise we’ll be killing them as fast as we can grow them. Net neutrality can have two distinct meanings!

Trees have their limits to growth. Altitude imposes one such limit. You’ve heard of “the tree line”. Above it, trees do not grow quickly or fast enough to help with the climate problem. Land is not unlimited, there are places you can’t grow trees.

Will we be growing the right species of trees for their environment? In deserts and on salt flats? In tidal estuaries? On flood plains and hilltops? And will the tree planters not come up against vested agricultural and commercial interests and city growers in competition for the space? You can’t eat trees! You can’t drive a combine harvester in a forest.

Trees also have their limits when it comes to surviving extreme heat or cold. Will the world be cooling quickly enough to allow them to survive when half the year, in half the world the temperature is 40 degrees*? How well will they grow in Scotland, when the Gulf Stream fails, the “overturning circulation”, and all that Arctic meltwater is streaming south?

Doubtless there are good arguments for planting more trees strategically. On tropical coastlines, for instance, to try to defeat salination from rising sea levels, planting banyan is maybe a good idea. In cities and along roads. On eroded hillsides. And, of course, there are companies cutting down trees for industry that piously affect to replace the ones they cut down.

So we are planting trees – the Ethiopian government recently trumpeted that villagers had replanted 350 million (let’s see how many survive). We’d only need to duplicate that effort 3,000 times and…

Reforesting the world with unimaginable numbers of trees that have no other purpose than to breathe is a lovely dream, but it requires global management deploying vast resources, and who is going to provide that, when supposedly civilized, established democracies can no longer even manage ourselves?

*The story of a city already suffering intolerable heat and water stress is told at:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/31/tucson-heat-inequality-summer

 

GW: Deep breath, everyone

The Amazon rainforest produces 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen. The UN should immediately invade Brazil and remove Bolsonaro from office to save the world!!!

Actually not, say the experts.

“…the world’s oxygen levels are quite stable and are not dependent on rain forests, which use up as much of the gas as they produce in the long run, according to Philip Fearnside, a professor at Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research, quoted in Newsweek:

“Amazonia is not a big source of oxygen because trees respire, just like animals. Trees use up most of the oxygen that they produce through photosynthesis. … There is a net release of oxygen while the tree is growing and storing carbon in its wood, but when the tree dies the wood rots, removing the same amount of oxygen from the air to form carbon dioxide (CO2) from the carbon in the wood,” he said.

“Twenty per cent” is the total proportion of oxygen in the atmosphere, not what the rainforest produces.

More environmental news:

Checking on CO2, then, it’s incredibly difficult to give figures when the concentration measured at the Scripps observatory at 9,000 ft on Mauna Loa in Hawaii, the internationally recognised “official” monitoring station, varies not just from year to year and month to month, but from hour to hour across the day.

Despite the vast area of the planet’s forest cover that’s currently burning, and the increase this year in volcanic activity – and, of course, the ever-increasing output from industry, farming and transportation – the daily average load is currently 409.69 parts per million. The record for the year was set on 15 May when it was as high as 415.70 (Peaks were being detected over 417 ppm, while over parts of Siberia it’s been 1,020 ppm.) The previous record high daily average of 412.60 was set last year, on 14 May. It’s inexorably increasing.

“Pre-industrial” CO2, ie back in the C18th, was about 280 ppm.

France’s wine output is expected to fall 12% this year, after spring frosts followed by summer heatwaves took a heavy toll on vineyards across the country.

On 27 Aug. the temperature in my front garden in Boglington-on-Sea barely made it to 16C. On the other side of the country, in parts of Southeast England it reached 32C. I’m wondering if that 100% east-west vertical gradient might be some kind of record?

NASA and others made July the hottest month ever globally, although Europe only made 2nd hottest July owing to a big cold blob stuck over the northeast. France had its hottest ever July, while the UK broke several temperature records. June was Europe’s hottest ever June. The Met office reported, 10 of the UK’s hottest years have occurred since 2002. There were major temperature anomalies – up to 8C – in Antarctica, Greenland and eastern Siberia. (Severe-weather.eu).

North America has not missed having its wettest past 12 months ever (since 1894, anyway) in any month since May. Sluggish Hurricane Dorian will help keep that record up going into September.

Writing on Arctic News, 1 Sept., Prof. Andrew Glikson of Australian National University has the following good news:

For a climate sensitivity of 3±1.5°C per doubling of atmospheric CO₂, global warming has potentially reached between +2°C to +3°C above mean pre-industrial temperatures at a rate exceeding the fastest growth rate over the last 55 million years.

Global temperature, he writes, has been accelerating faster in the past 270 years than at any time in the planetary record. Even the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) when the planet warmed by 5-8 degrees took a thousand years. The 2 to 3C rise is being masked by aerosol dispersals (pollution).

Glikson’s case supports the idea that feedbacks make a nonsense of linear projections. He cites a 2002 paper by Berger and Loutre: “The climate system may take 50,000 years to assimilate the impacts of human activities during the early third millennium. In this case, an “irreversible greenhouse effect” could become the most likely future climate.”

A Munich Re Insurance graph shows a tripling of extreme global climatic and seismic events of all kinds since 1970. (Arctic News)

The Indonesian government is planning to move its capital to a purpose-built new city. Built on a bog and now sinking fast owing to sea-level rise, Jakarta is to be abandoned to the waves. Environmentalists have protested at the choice of a virgin forest site in Borneo (Kalimantan).

 

USA: Hurricane Dorian intensified Sunday to a monster 180-mph top-end Category 5 storm, gusting to 220 mph, as it approached the Bahamas – the strongest hurricane to hit the region in modern times. Moving at only 1 mph, it’s carrying up to 30-in. of rain and pushing a 20-foot storm surge on top of this month’s king tides. Reporters said hundreds of residents of lower-lying islands, including Grand Cay and Sweeting Cay, ignored mandatory evacuation orders. Early video images show houses half-submerged, their roofs ripped away. Over 13,000 properties are said to have been destroyed.

Floridans are hunkering down as Hurricane Dorian approaches the eastern US coastline. The NHC however expects the storm to turn northward instead of crossing the coast, sparing Mar-a-Lago, andto  head up the coast past Georgia, slamming instead into the Carolinas. If it follows the same track as Matthew in 2016 it could still cause $billions in damage – and fatalities. Matthew killed 47 people.

According to an investigation by The Intercept, two Brazilian firms standing to make millions from the removal of the Amazon rainforest have been among the heavier donors to the re-election campaign funds of both Donald Trump and profoundly corrupt Senate leader, “Moscow Mitch” – should that now be “Manaus Mitch”? – McConnell. Both firms are owned largely or in part by Stephen Schwartzman, billionaire CEO of $300 bn US fund manager, Blackstone Corp.

Hang him. No, I’m serious. Unfathomably stupid and greedy “entrepreneurs” like him have forfeited any right to life. They need to be put on trial for ecocidal crimes and gaoled for life, or summarily executed. The future cannot afford their continued existence.

(If a corporation or a river can be declared to have legal rights as a person, as has been adjudicated, then why does the Future not have equivalent legal rights to exist unthreatened by special interests bent on adversely altering or preventing it from eventuating? Could this concept not be tried in court?)

Russia: Days of heavy rain and flooding have prompted authorities to declare an emergency in Russia‘s Far East. The declaration covers 15 municipalities including the city of Vladivostok which is among the worst affected. The Primorsky Krai administration said more than 150mm of rain has fallen in Vladivostok over the last few days (a normal month’s worth). (Floodlist)

Mauritania: At least 5 people have died in recent flooding in southern Mauritania according to media reports. News agency AMI said that dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed following storms and heavy rains that began around 25 Aug. Fatalities were reported in the capital, Sélibaby City. Media reported that 200mm of rain fell in the area. Roads, bridges and other infrastructure were also damaged. (Floodlist)

Uganda: landslides and flooding have affected several areas of Bulambuli district since 27 August. Local media reported that 5 people were missing, feared dead, after landslides buried houses and flooding from the River Kajere. “Above normal” rains are forecast through until the end of October. (Floodlist)

Kenya: 6 bodies have been recovered after a tour group was swept away by a flash flood in a Kenyan national park. The incident at Hell’s Gate National Park on Sunday involved five Kenyan nationals, a local tour guide and a “foreigner”, officials said. 1 tourist is still missing and a search and rescue operation is continuing. (BBC)

Morocco: At least 7 people died in flash floods in Morocco on 28 August, after heavy rain in the south of the country. A wave of water slammed into a crowd of spectators at a football match, as a building many had taken refuge on collapsed. More people are feared missing and search and rescue teams are working in the area to find survivors. (Floodlist)

Australia: Your Gran fears the media is going mad. A huge floating island of volcanic pumice in the Pacific has been hailed everywhere as a potential saviour of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as corals and other microflora will cling to its underside and repopulate the dying reef.

Well, no, it won’t – not if the same conditions that are killing the reef – oceanic heatwaves and acidification – are going to persist. How could it?

Instead, “The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s outlook report, published every five years, finds coral reefs have declined to a ‘very poor’ condition and there is widespread habitat loss and degradation affecting fish, turtles and seabirds.”

As well as the warming, acidifying ocean, agricultural pollution, ecological imbalances, cyclones and illegal fishing are among reasons to doubt that anything can now save the reef, once listed as one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World and now in its northern sector 2/3rds dead. The Authority’s almost pathetic optimism concludes that all is not lost, provided the world “tackles global warming” if the reef is to be saved. (Guardian Green Light, et al.) As if.

Tunnel approaching….

Ebola: The world’s forgotten Ebola epidemic, mainly in the DRC, has claimed its 2,000th victim. There have been 3,000 cases in total of the disease, which has an unusually high mortality rate of 67%. There’ve been a number of cases and fatalities in neighboring Uganda as the border is porous and villagers are refusing to take warnings seriously not to travel. Hostility toward medical teams and a refusal to believe the disease exists are given as reasons the outbreak is so far from controlled.

 

Trump Org. a grovelling apology

In The Pumpkin – Issue 96, we commented that US cable news network MSNBC and presenter Lawrence O’Donnell were reporting that signatures of Russian oligarchs may have been found in court papers among Trump loan applications to Deutsche Bank, the only remaining bank that would lend to him. The normally serious and reliable O’Donnell has since reported that he shouldn’t have let the cat out of the… no, sorry, he’s tweeted that it was inappropriate to quote his one anonymous source for that claim at this time without supporting testimony and he was wrong to do so. I expect the Southern District court has given him a walloping.

Trump’s dimmest little sprog, Eric, has threatened to sue everyone who repeats the story.

Sorry. No, really, Eric. Really, really sorry. I know you only told a golfing magazine you get all your money from Russia, but later, maybe, yeah?

But please, MSNBC, you can’t afford to give the Trumps these hostages to fortune. Calm down, okay?

The Pumpkin – Issue 96: The Red President… The madness of King Donald #2… Of course it’s not a coup, silly!… Your average Tory cunt #2… I spy with my little i… GW: A world on fire.

“Prorogation is an exercise of royal prerogative that is tolerable in a modern democracy only insofar as it is ceremonial. Its deployment by a prime minister without an electoral mandate of his own, in pursuit of a partisan agenda for which there is no Commons majority, represents a grotesque abuse of the country’s highest political office.” – Guardian editorial

Your Uncle Bogler had always fancied that “prorogue” meant you were generally in favor of rogues. He cannot understand why Her Majesty didn’t just tell this unelected, narcissistic, Koch-funded buffoon with authoritarian tendencies to get the fuck off her lawn. But then why would the monarch be in favour of smelly old democracy?

“Quick, panic! There’s that terrible human who keeps feeding us!”

The Red President

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell is reporting tonight (27 Aug.) that Deutsche Bank has confirmed to a New York court that they hold several years’ worth of Donald Trump’s tax returns among the “vast trove” of financial asset disclosures he has made to them, many – according to whistleblowers in the bank and on the sworn testimony of former Trump lieutenant, Michael Cohen – dishonestly inflated.

They state that, as Trump has already boasted, he paid “little to no” tax during those years. Whether that makes him “smart”, as he says, or whether it’s merely an indication that he wasn’t earning very much, will no doubt come out in court.

We already know that he mitigated tax for many years through declaring huge losses, while at the same time manipulating the media to convince the American public he was a successful self-made billionaire. We still don’t know if those losses were genuine – you can only make a loss by spending more than you earn, but you still need to earn it in the first place – or if they were merely an accounting fiction and he was salting profits away undeclared somewhere.

O’Donnell however drops a total bombshell.

A private source “close to Deutsche Bank” has claimed that congressional subpoenas requiring the bank to hand over their voluminous records of dealings with Trump name a number of Russian oligarchs as co-signatories to loan applications made by Trump without which, says the source, the bank would not have agreed to lend him the approximately $2 billion he borrowed in the ten years up to his gaining the presidency, on the basis of his terrible credit default history.

(One further clue: when he became the Republican candidate, his Russian backers appear to have rapidly withdrawn to avoid implicating Putin, presumably – and that was when Deutsche Bank refused Trump a $10 million loan.)

Finally, we begin to understand his craven obeisance to the foreign policy whims of Vladimir Putin, the world’s richest man, the supreme oligarch who owns all the other oligarchs; and his refusal to criticize them in any way. They all own Trump, lock, stock and barrel. And many of them, perhaps among Trump’s backers too, are on sanctions lists or FBI wanted lists for racketeering and currency violations.

Ooops.

If true, according to vintage Trumphound and tax specialist, David Cay Johnson, if those signatures are indeed down on paper, the presence of Russian guarantors in Trump’s personal and business banking affairs, perhaps individuals suspected of criminal activities, should be more than enough to secure his immediate removal from office.

Sadly, the world doesn’t work like that.

With the Justice Department totally in his pocket – Attorney General Bill Barr has reportedly just given Trump Organization 30 thousand dollars to host a party at one of Trump’s hotels – and with his drooling imbecile, Mnuchin, at the Treasury, overseeing the Internal Revenue Service and blocking congressional access to Trump’s tax returns – there is no other statutory body at Federal level capable of holding the president to account for financial crimes. No-one, not even Congress can order his arrest.

It is now entirely up to the New York district court to determine whether or not Trump and his immediate family should face criminal charges of money laundering and obtaining loans by false pretences, at state level, where his writ of pardon does not run.

Way to go, guys.

 

The Red-handed President

Would you like to know how evil this sick sonofabitch really is? I urge you to visit this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVDMabhm1tI

 

Exclusive: God tells Trump: “The Universe is not for sale”.
“He’s nasty”, Trump tweeted Thursday. “We need that oil.”

The madness of King Donald #2

Faced with plummeting poll numbers, Trump has ordered his Homeland Security people to get the wall built along the 2,000 miles of the Mexican border at any cost, to feed his dumbfuck base support and please the little yammering faces of the Fox sofa-dwellers before the election.

He says now he wants it “black and shiny and pretty and spiky”. He’s illegally diverted military funds to the project, and is gutting Federal emergency (FEMA) funds as well (In advance of a Cat 4 hurricane heading for Florida). To date, despite what he tells the dumbfucks, not one yard of new wall has been built.

One of the barriers to the wall, as it were, is that a lot of the land is privately owned. He has directed his people to seize the land, illegally by force if necessary, and to defy any adverse zoning or environmental laws – and promised to pardon anyone who is prosecuted for breaking Federal law. Inciting crime is, of course, illegal – and an impeachable offence.

Since that was all reported, he has denied saying anything of the kind, claiming that the insider reporting is fake news.

Trump has ordered his Border Agency people to carry on deporting undocumented migrants without right of appeal, even when they have children undergoing hospital treatment for life-threatening conditions. (See above: The Red-handed President)

Trump’s Environment Protection director, Andrew Wheeler, is relishing a Trump executive order relaxing Obama-era controls on methane emissions from drilling operations, saving the energy industry a paltry $27 million a year. That’s despite objections from Exxon and other big energy corporations who enjoyed the protection the regulations offered against smaller competitors.

Methane is up to 150 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2. The order is expected to add another 2 million tonnes a year to the atmosphere. The NYT reports, Trump and the EPA are looking at rolling-back more than 80 environmental protections, including a prohibition on clear-felling national forests.

At the G7, Trump claimed that he had received a phone call from China – later amended to “two” calls – softening Chairman Xi’s response to US sanctions. The Chinese confirmed, there were no calls. His own Commerce department say they are unaware of any new agreement with China. Trump also announced a new trade deal with Japan, that doesn’t exist. He also claimed that other leaders had been curious to know why the US media coverage of him isn’t more favorable. No-one recalls asking him that.

Trump has claimed for two years that canned former FBI Director, James Comey, is a liar who illegally leaked documents via “a friend” and should be arrested. All his press people have been forced to repeat the same story. Attorney General Barr has now announced that, yes, Comey leaked illegal documents. The DoJ investigation report Barr refers to, however, clearly states there is no evidence whatever to back Trump’s assertion. No, Comey did not leak documents.

Oh, no! Is the White House not telling the truth?

And finally, President Loony-tunes has signed-off a bill to fund a US space cadet force.

 

Of course it’s not a coup, silly.

“The … Weimar Republic was perhaps the world’s most democratic state yet—with free elections, voting rights for all adults (male and female), an independent judiciary, a free press, regional autonomy and elections by proportional representation. … It seemed as though nothing could go wrong.

“Less than 15 years later, the Republic had given way to Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship. Centrally orchestrated propaganda had replaced the free press; all other political parties were dissolved; new Nazi courts had been set up; and all independent institutions bar the church and the army had been transformed into organs of acclamation for the Führer. New treason laws made even telling jokes about his regime punishable by death. Within six years, Hitler launched a world war that killed 50m people, including six million murdered Jews.” – Richard J Evans

An article in Prospect magazine warns us that it may be too late to hear the warning noises. Sir Richard Evans is Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, president of Wolfson College, Cambridge and Fellow of The British Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences. Specializing in 19th- and 20th-century Europe with a focus on Germany, he is the author of The Third Reich Trilogy (2003–2008) that has been hailed as “brilliant” and “magisterial.” (Wikipedia)

Although he is at pains to stress that this is not Weimar redux, principally because it lacks a military dimension, while levels of violence have yet to attain those experienced in the late 1920s and 30s; and while the fear of Communism is nowhere as prevalent, nor the numbers of demobilized and demoralized ex-military conscripts swilling around with experience of violence nearly so great, nevertheless Democracy, Evans writes, is in trouble.

Disillusioned voters are too willing to embrace political outsiders and oddballs who appear to offer something different from the sameold sameold; while Conservative politicians will go along with anyone sufficiently popular to guarantee their place in society – even a funny little Austrian with a ridiculous mustache.

If he’s worried, we all should be.

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/britain-proroging-boris-johnson-parliament-suspension-richard-evans-weimar

 

Your average Tory CUNT (Conservative & Unionist Neo-Thatcherite) #2

“Hancock wrote to parliament on 6 June (the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings), saying that ‘England is the mother of all parliaments – respected as such around the free world. To suspend Parliament explicitly to pursue a course of action against its wishes is not a serious policy of a prime minister in the 21st Century. It goes against everything those men who waded onto those beaches fought & died for – and I will not have it’.” (Edited from Guardian, 29 Aug.)

We look forward to your resignation, Minister.

Self-serving little creep.

Seriously, if the only result of Johnson’s reckless and authoritarian prorogation of Parliament closing down democratic debate on the terms of Brexit were to be to ensure that Nigel Farage and his rump Brexit party of fanatical Leavers – not a political party in reality but a private company* registered to Farage, with hefty membership fees and “dark money” accruing to him personally – don’t get a sniff of being elected in November, then it’s probably worth it.

But we then have to look forward to a newly mandated Johnson explaining why his “exciting and ambitious” reform manifesto involving spending billions of pounds of public money he hasn’t got on bringing back flogging and roly-poly pudding with jam in schools and providing free nannies to upper-class working mothers is not going to happen after all, is all the fault of Brussels, or the last Labour government, or the media, his ex-wife, his current “totty” (his word) or Martians.

And there seems little doubt that we are overdue for another global recession, with our defenses down and no way we can sensibly just print money to buy our way out of it and reward the bankers for failure this time by artificially propping up its value with interest rates at zero so they can spend it on real yachts. The Week reports on America’s savviest investor, Warren Buffet:

“He’s reportedly hoarding a record $122 billion in cash at Berkshire Hathaway Inc., leading to some speculation that he sees a recession on the horizon, or at least is sending some sort of warning. The cash pile is more than half the value of Berkshire’s $208 billion portfolio of public companies, and the only time that percentage has reportedly been higher since 1987 was in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.”

I’ve quoted The Week because Bloomberg has locked me out with no more free articles to pillage, ever, but they’re saying much the same thing. The wealthier the media owner, it seems, the higher the paywall.

We might perhaps consider that if Buffet and the rest of the 0.1% are hoarding all the money and not investing it, the likelihood of a recession is substantially increased. But they’re covered for that.

*It’s a way of avoiding most of the financial accounting obligations and rules on donor transparency imposed by the toothless and, indeed, gormless Electoral Commission.

 

I spy with my little i

In May last year, The Guardian reported that President Trump was refusing to allow the iPhone he uses for monitoring Twitter feeds and spewing out his insane tweets to be scanned for bugs and evidence of hacking, because it was “too inconvenient” to be without it.

Google’s in-house Spot-the-Hacker team has today revealed details of mass hacking operations that have been affecting, specifically, iPhone users for over two years, deploying more than a dozen separate pieces of malware to obtain intimate details of passwords, conversations, financial records, lookups and locations.

No source of the hacking has been revealed.

Lock him up?

 

GW: A world on fire

If you’re wondering why the weather isn’t even hotter, given the increase in CO2, maybe this should concentrate the mind.

Global News, Canada reported (16 Aug.):

“…Smoke from British Columbia’s wildfires in 2017 is helping scientists model the potential impacts of nuclear war on the Earth’s climate, says a study from Rutgers University. The enormous plume of smoke formed the largest cloud of its kind ever observed, which circled the Northern Hemisphere, says the study … in the peer-reviewed academic journal Science. The cloud, called a pyrocumulonimbus, formed over the wildfire and sent black carbon high into the atmosphere … The wildfire smoke cloud contained 0.3 million U.S. tons of soot, while a nuclear war between the United States and Russia could generate 150 million tons.

In other words, these huge regional wildfires all over the planet will be creating a global dimming effect like a nuclear winter for several years. But don’t be fooled – without the smoke, which you can clearly observe in the haze even on blue-sky days or feel in the muted warmth of the sun, and occasionally even smell here in sunny Boglington-on-Sea, on the UK’s west coast – we’d be looking at 2 or even 3 degrees of warming above the 1880-1990 average this year.

For then, of course, you’ll need to consider how much CO2 the vanishing forests aren’t absorbing, and how much they’re giving up (and poisonous CO) when they burn, and how much less oxygen we’re breathing; how the precipitating soot is blackening Arctic ice and glaciers, melting them faster; how particulate pollution increases rainfall, and how the global dimming will reduce crop yields, while you slowly drown in misery and alcohol (drink up while stocks last).

Anyway…

Alaska: Despite starting early, this year’s fires in British Columbia have burned 1,300 Ha less forest than last year. To the northwest, however, travel site Afar reports: “several fires are burning in some of south-central Alaska’s most popular tourist areas: The two largest fires are the McKinley Fire and the Swan Lake Fire (157,000 acres), and several smaller outbreaks are causing concern throughout the region.” Air quality is generally terrible and some highways remain closed.

Africa: Wildfires in Central and Southern Africa and on the island of Madagascar may be consuming twice the area of forest as the Brazilian rainforest fires, which have been exacerbated by drought as the forest is no longer producing its own misty microclimate of rain. Or maybe not, as they are mostly caused by small farmers burning off grassland and stubble, so perhaps it’s not so bad. Just a mass of red on a satellite image. Huge fires however continue to burn in Brazil’s forested neighbor, Bolivia – and in Australia, despite the cold, wet, windy winter, where over 100 fires are burning – in Tasmania to the south and up in Papua New Guinea to the north.

Soon these Siberian reindeer will die and nobody is quite sure why, but thousands already have. Herders blame a vaccination program against anthrax, whose spores are being released by thawing of the permafrost, for weakening the animals’ resistance to winter hunger when increasing rainfall creates a barrier of ice over the snow covering the mosses they eat.

Russia: Water levels in the Lena River, a major Siberian waterway, have dropped so far owing to a persistent heatwave and drought that the economy of the region is beginning to suffer. At 2.5 meters below normal, Siberian Times reports:

“The current water level means critical delays in the summer ritual delivering vital supplies to Arctic settlements in Yakutia, Russia’s biggest region. … traffic flow … has been halted for weeks due to the low level of the longest river flowing entirely within Russia. In regional capital Yakutsk the water dropped so suddenly that hundreds of cargo ships and smaller boats were left stranded. Elsewhere along the river fishermen complained about an extremely low catch, saying that for days they were coming back home with empty buckets.”

The shortage of water also means less is available for firefighting. Siberian Times again:

“Territory covered with wildfires across Russia has reached its peak for the year so far, with some 5.4 million hectares ablaze mostly in Siberia and the country’s far east. The total land destroyed by flames will soon exceed 2018 with weeks of the burning season still to go. The immense scale of the fires is highlighted by the fact that so far this year some 14.9 million hectares has been destroyed by burning. (An area the size of Bangladesh.) Smoke from wildfires has covered an area larger than the European Union.” While firefighters have been able to access less than 10% of the areas on fire, and water is being described as more expensive than Champagne.

Europe: Copernicus reports, “more than 1,600 wildfires have been recorded in the European Union so far this year — more than three times the average over the past decade. The rise in the number of blazes has reduced to ashes more than 271,000 hectares — 100,000 more than the average burnt (annually) over the same period during the last decade.” (EuroNews)

Japan: “Daily downpours inundating parts of western Japan in the coming days will raise the risk of flooding and mudslides. The (“unprecedented”) downpours began on Tuesday, and are expected to continue into Friday before diminishing in intensity this weekend. The hardest-hit areas from Tuesday into Wednesday night were across northwestern Kyushu where more than 500 mm (20-in) was reported in Hirado.” (Accuweather) Rainfall rates locally were as high as 4-in. per hour. At least 3 deaths were reported as cars were swept away. “900,000 people have been ordered to evacuate across Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki prefectures as of Wednesday.”

USA: Tropical Storm, now Hurricane Dorian has been pounding the US Virgin Islands (but skirted Puerto Rico) and is now aiming at Florida, where forecasters think it might arrive over the Labor Day weekend at Cat 4 hurricane strength. Once across Florida and into the Gulf, they fear it might intensify even further into next week. They’re already evaluating potential damage at $1 bn+. A strong Tropical Storm, Erin is moving up parallel to the East Coast, with its worst impacts due to be felt in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Accuweather also reports:

“Record highs dating back to the 1940s will be in jeopardy across the southwestern United States as intense heat builds into the Labor Day weekend. While average high temperatures start trending down at this point in the season most years, this weekend will feel more like the middle of summer due to widespread highs in the 90s, 100s and 110s F.”

One persistent hotspot rapidly becoming uninhabitable is Phoenix, Az, where a powerful out-of-town lobby funded by Koch Industries’ dirty money has reportedly been working to prevent the water-stressed desert city extending its light railway network, in favor of having more polluting cars. (Yes, these people are criminally insane. Next?) Hopefully, a proposition that would have required “terminating all construction, development, extension, and expansion of” light rail has been thrown out by a massive majority in a local referendum. (Streetsblog/Guardian and others)

Happily, David Koch died last week. Your Gran wonders idly if he’s being cremated, just as a final contribution to global warming – and when possibly older brother Charles might follow him down to hell? That’s if he doesn’t roast in the one he’s been making for us up here.

Tunnel approaching….

Yellowstone: Trees killed in a new surface “hotspot” zone that has appeared in recent weeks have been turned to charcoal, according to USGS park scientist Michael Poland; suggesting anoxic heating owing to rising gases. Strong harmonic tremors, microquakes, ground uplift and gas seepage are all continuing. Steamboat geyser, the biggest in the park, whose long-term average eruption cycle is about three a year, has gone off for the 33rd time in 2019, beating the previous record of 32 set during the whole of last year. A number of fires are burning in the park, as yet covering a few tens of acres. (Mary Greeley)

Brazil: Forget the rainforest. After he was elected, the filthy corporatist Bolsonaro junta in Brazil immediately set about lifting restrictions on the use of agrichemicals such as neonicotinoid “pesticides” banned in Europe. Almost 300 products have been licensed or relicensed since the beginning of the year, many new and untested.

Simultaneously, Brazilian bee keepers have reported a massive die-off of honeybees this summer: over half a billion bees are thought to have been poisoned in a catastrophe similar to the colony collapse disorder reported in the USA and other countries around the world.

Ironically, reports Guardian Green Light, the important soya crop for which Bolsonaro is insanely burning the Amazon rainforest to grow and sell to the Chinese, is bee-pollinated.

Let’s see for how long, shall we.

(Your Gran is starting to suspect that the many bees she finds staggering about on the ground each spring may well be victims of local sports groundkeepers’ enthusiasm for pristine surfaces. No arable agricultural explanation is to hand in this region for the collapse in bee numbers, but there are many acres of cricket, soccer and rugby pitches in our little valley.)

(Possibly an encouraging sign, some funds are beginning to disinvest in Brazil while a few international companies have suspended trading.)