The Pumpkin – Issue 41: Are all US politicians just lying, thieving scumbags?… What have the following words got in common?… If Carter…? GW: packing her trunk into the Oldsmobile and heading on down the smoky road… “Fuck off”.

Thief armed with golf clubs robs country: elderly billionaire wearing blond wig and Brioni suit Most Wanted by FBI. May act confused. Approach with caution. DO NOT LEND MONEY!

 

Are all US politicians just lying, thieving scumbags?

Today I became more profoundly depressed than I think I have ever been.

And I’m not even an American.

Today, Friday – always a good day for putting up smokescreens while burying astonishingly lousy news – the lying, self-interested, criminal sonofabitch got up in front of a room full of suits and admiring nodding-dogs in uniforms to warn the world that America is coming for us. Naming Russia and China as competitors, aggressors, blaming – as ever – his predecessors for their weakness, he vowed that America would come first in any global trade deal.

And while he was spouting his autocue shit, a predictably bombastic and empty campaign speech that even made the number one spot on the supine BBC news, the Republican Congress was running off with the money, while at the same time some little bought and paid-for shill, Ajit Pai, on a Trump-packed committee was handing control of the entire Internet to three huge US corporations, on some phony, lying pretext or other, despite the protests of the entire rest of the industry.

I make no apology for drawing quite so extensively on the New Yorker magazine for the following extracts from an article billed as “The GOP’s Corrupt, Cruel, Budget-Busting Tax Bill”. Just call it a retweet:

Almost eleven hundred pages long, the final bill is just as regressive and fiscally irresponsible as either of the two earlier bills, and arguably more so. At its center is a huge tax cut for corporations and unincorporated business partnerships—such as the ones that Donald Trump owns—while arrayed around the edges are all sorts of carve-outs and giveaways to favored industries and interest groups.

Another provision, which wasn’t in the House or Senate bills, allows real-estate developers who own buildings through L.L.C.s, as Trump does (and his little plastic boy, Kushner – Ed.), to deduct twenty per cent of the income that these properties generate. To qualify for the break, the properties have to be newish ones that haven’t been fully depreciated. “This helps people who have held property for a while, like Donald Trump,” David Kamin, a law professor at New York University, told … the International Business Times.

Corker had been the only Republican to vote against the Senate version of the tax bill, but on Friday he announced that he’d changed his mind, and that “after great thought and consideration, I believe this once-in-a-generation opportunity to make U.S. businesses domestically more productive and internationally more competitive is one we should not miss.” Corker didn’t mention his personal interests, but …: “Federal records … show that Corker has millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate-related LLCs that could also benefit” from the final bill.

So Bob Corker, scourge of the President just a few weeks ago, the man who made news around the world by referring disparagingly to the Oval Office as an ‘adult daycare centre’, has been bought off – possibly as he planned. Stand up as a holdout on an important finance bill in Congress, where everyone else hopes to make a killing, and wait for the bribes to roll in.

What a repulsive, rutting little bitch this greedy, hypocritical smalltown whore is. Spread ’em, Bob.

Five trillion dollars, looted from the State and taxpayers by these disgusting, lying, cheating, God-bothering cretins. And where’s it coming from? Why, your healthcare programs, Americans! Your schools! Your roads! Your social security. Your future taxes.

Serves you right for voting for these pond-scum, time and again. You have to be among the most pig-ignorant, self-deluding baboons on the planet. What the hell did you think, that they would somehow make your lives better? That by taking all the money they’d make you richer? That they’d make America great again?

Idiots. You’ve been royally screwed.

x

What have the following words got in common?

  • Vulnerable
  • Entitlement
  • Diversity
  • Transgender
  • Foetus
  • Evidence-based
  • Science-based

That’s right! They’ve all been BANNED in use by the Trump administration!

(Postscriptum: no, it appears the story is wrong in that respect: it is not the administration banning the use of the words, further reporting reveals that it is the CDC administration suggesting they need to avoid those words for fear of confusing or upsetting individuals within the Trump administration: self-censorship, in other words. Of course, says Ed., when organizations start to censor themselves it’s come to a pretty pass and might as well be the government doing it.)

Administrators overseeing budgets at the world-leading Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta have warned staff not to use the words in official communications, apparently on the orders of the government.

Analysis of the banned words suggests that a mix of Trump policies requires censoring terms that might be used by medical researchers relating to activities that are either offensive to rightwing pro-life Christians, such as ‘foetus’ and ‘vulnerable’; upsetting to racists and homophobes (‘diversity’, ‘transgender’, ) or inimical to the vast profits made by pharmaceutical corporations, such as ‘science-based’ and ‘evidence-based’ medicine.

The only people with an ‘entitlement’ are the fucking Republican millionaires, entitled to screw the country.

When you add this to earlier bans on federal government scientists publishing, promoting or receiving research on climate change, please understand, we are living in perilous times.

The last time this happened we ended up in a near-global war with possibly 50 million people dead. Brute authoritarianism and the promotion of lies and ignorance in the interests of a state aligned with corporatist and religious goals have to be resisted, by force if need be.

If that means the rest of the world has to go to war to restore freedom and democracy in America, then that’s what we should do.

Let’s not tolerate fascism.

(Thanks to TYT for the list)

x

If Carter…?

Oh, dear Lord.

You may recall an iconic 1970 British gangster film called ‘Get Carter!’, starring Michael Caine – I do, because my mum was in it.

This, however, is not about that.

Trump’s security of the nation speech yesterday, as you would expect, perpetuates the tedious myth of ‘Axis of Evil’ Iranian mischief in the Middle East  – Iran, that is, that’s the puppet of the Russians, that’s spent over a decade fruitlessly pursuing the nuclear option North Korea seems to have perfected in five minutes just to obliterate Israel, which they wouldn’t be stupid enough to do.

But, so long as the Saudis want to buy his beautiful weapons, Trump is happy to threaten to obliterate Iran.

The Pumpkin has just stumbled across a June 2013 podcast by the independent commenter and sometime RT presenter, Thom Hartmann, no Kremlin puppet he, asking where America might be if Jimmy Carter – probably the best president of modern times – had won a second term in office?

Those of you who were conscious in the late 70s might recall that a crisis erupted during the Iranian revolution, when a bunch of hotheads invaded the US embassy in Tehran and took lots of diplomatic staff hostage.

Let’s remember that the revolution was against the corrupt and authoritarian monarchy of the Pahlavis, originally imposed in the 1950s through a coup orchestrated by the CIA and the British mainly to secure Britain’s oil supplies.

The seige went on for months, and Carter was foolishly persuaded to let US special forces go in and free the hostages and it was a complete clusterfuck, and Carter lost the election to Reagan, whom everyone thought was a crazy anti-Communist warmonger who would start WW3 but at least he wasn’t WEAK!

So, as Hartmann reports, while the seige was ongoing there was a change of government in Tehran and Mustafa Bani-Sadr was elected President by a big majority on a campaign to release the hostages and stop embarrassing the country. So he goes to the Ayatollah Khomeini to ask if the ruling clerical committee will let him go ahead and send the Americans home, and Khomeini says no, because…

He’s done a deal with the Republicans in the US to keep the seige going so as to ensure Reagan gets elected, as Ronnie has offered to supply arms and military spares to the Revolutionary Guard in exchange for a bit of help….

Bani-Sadr then apparently wrote an article confirming all of this, that was published – in, of all places – the Christian Science Monitor, and never otherwise saw the light of day.

And then the increasingly feeble-minded Reagan is persuaded to promote the neoliberal agenda proposed by Friedrich Hayek and the Chicago school of economists, egged-on by his dear friend, the Blessed Margaret Thatcher, and now you see the apotheosis of that rightwing Austrian fascist bullshit in the Trump administration – not that Trumbo has ever read Hayek, or anything at all, he just does what he thinks will please the dumbfucks.

America, you keep getting screwed.

Why?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdkU6LHMq8g

x

GW: packing her trunk into the Oldsmobile and heading on down the smoky road

Trucial States (UAE): Oman’s Civil Defence Department said (16 Dec.) that 3 people have died in flooding after heavy rain (111 mm in 24 hours is more than five times the norm for the whole of December). According to local media, one victim died after being struck by lightning in Saham and two others lost their lives after their vehicle was swept away in a flooded wadi in Fariq (Al Batinah).

USA: “After the Thomas fire surged to record levels this past weekend (275k acres to date), winds have lessened in Southern California. However, an uptick in dry, windy weather is in store starting during the middle of the week. A storm system digging into the western United States at midweek will stir up gusty (‘Santa Ana’) winds in the Los Angeles Basin and (up to 60 mph) in the San Gabriel Mountains.” The Thomas fire is expected to go on burning well into January.

CO2 levels over parts of southern California while the wildfires were burning at their peak on 7 Dec. reached in excess of 920 parts per million.

Indonesia: The archipelago, recently hit by deadly flooding from Tropical Storm Kai-Tak, is experiencing something of a heatwave, with temperatures into the high 90s F.

World: “This year is almost certain to be the planet’s warmest year on record that lacks any influence from El Niño, and will likely be the second or third warmest year in recorded history. As of December 17, 2017, 182 major weather stations have beaten (not just tied) their all-time highest temperature records, and 17 have beaten records for their all-time lowest temperature. Earth’s four warmest years of the last century-plus are virtually certain to be the four years from 2014 through 2017.”

 

Floodlist/ Wunderground (citing Maximiliano Herrera)/ Accuweather/ Arctic News

 

Fuck off.

My uncle was for many years the editor of a well-known satirical magazine, that was always being sued by aggrieved politicians and businessmen whose nefarious proclivities had been exposed in the previous fortnight’s edition.

One such case, Arkell vs Pressdram, was resolved in in 1964 when my uncle boldly advised his lawyers to enter the response to the litigant. It went down as a defence in legal history:

“Fuck off” was all it said.

The Pumpkin has been distressed to learn of a case in Canada where a couple married for 70 years, Herbert and Audrey Goodine, are being split up before Christmas because the husband is being moved to a more advanced care home, leaving his devastated wife behind.

A representative for the long-term care home responded on Facebook.

“Once a resident is beyond our level and social development has reassessed to determine their level, I have to follow the rules and regulations set by the government. In fact, it’s against the law for me to not follow the rules and I could lose my licence. At this point the decision has been made and it is out of my hands.”

No, Sir, it isn’t.

Just tell whoever you think in your pathetic cowardice is going to fire you:

“Fuck off.”

x

Wacky definitions #27

“A spokeswoman from Counter Terrorism Policing North East said: “The public may have heard a loud bang at the time as police entered one of the properties, but it was not an explosion.

“[We] would like to reassure them that it was part of the method to gain entry to the property.” – BBC News report

 

 

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The BogPo – this week’s Post in the melting pot: One law for the movers and shakers… GW: gaily coloured sails out to sea, tacking to and fro… They think it’s all over…Who is Andrew Wheeler?

Great Gerald Ratner moments #27…

“I can’t control them,” Palihapitaya said of his former employer. “I can control my decision, which is that I don’t use that shit. I can control my kids’ decisions, which is that they’re not allowed to use that shit.” – Guardian, 12 Dec.

Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice-president for user growth (trans: marketing? Ed.) at Facebook, on social media.

 

One law for the movers and shakers

We read that Mr Paul Dacre has been awarded a 56% payrise… Or to put it another way, he has neatly sidestepped not receiving anything at all. The Guardian reports:

“Dacre was moved from DMGT’s annual bonus scheme to the LTIP in 2015 to make his remuneration “more directly linked to the overall success of the business”. His total remuneration of £2.37m – up 56% on £1.5m in 2016 when he had yet to receive his first LTIP payout – follows a 20% slump in DMGT’s share price after the company reported a sharp drop in annual profits and warned of a tough year ahead. … Overall, DMGT posted a 13% fall in adjusted profits before tax to £226m for the year to the end of September. Revenues were also down 13%,to £1.66bn.” – The Guardian

The abrasive Mail editor, 69, is also sitting on a £700 thousand annual pension entitlement. For comparison, your hardworking Uncle Bogler (68) receives roughly £14,000 a year before tax from his expansive pension pot; whilst nevertheless enjoying life to the full.

Meanwhile, the Mail continues its relentless campaign of outing greedy university Vice-Chancellors and their outrageous, unjustifiable salaries…

“A former university vice-chancellor was given £230,000 for his last month in the job after stepping down amid protests over outsourcing staff. Professor Michael Farthing was handed the golden payout by the University of Sussex ‘in lieu of notice’ after leaving his post in August 2016. … But the former boss only worked for the first month of that period, according to the records (sic) published by the Times (sic) Higher Education (THE).”

(btw, the ‘sic’s are just me feeling sick that some subeditor at the Mail is actually being paid for making these basic errors…)

“A university has been criticised for increasing the salary of its vice-chancellor by 55 per cent over six years, taking it £352,000 to a year (sic). Southampton University, currently led by Sir Christopher Snowden, was singled out by universities minister Jo Johnson as an example of the ‘endless upward ratchet’ of fat cat pay since tuition fees started.”

“Oxford University spent more than £100,000 on a makeover for its vice-chancellor’s luxury grace-and-favour home before she moved in last year. … Professor Louise Richardson moved into the Victorian mansion after an extensive refurbishment and building project. Despite earning £410,000 a year, including pension, she now lives there free and uses its rooms to hold events and host guests of the university. The home, bought by the university for £2 million in 2001, has a large period-style conservatory and an extensive walled and well-tended garden.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4783670/University-spends-100-000-vice-chancellor-s-home.html#ixzz50yQw9lLQ

But not perhaps so extensive or well-tended as Mr Dacre’s seventeen-thousand-acre country estate, Langwell, near Ullapool, in the wilds of Scotland. The difference being, it’s Prof. Richardson’s company house, which she has to open to guests, and give up when she leaves the job – Dacre owns his sprawling, grouse-rich latifundia outright, and any peasants cottaged thereon. We presume a park bench is also provided while he is working in London.

Not bad, for a man whose father sat out the war in New York as the ‘showbiz’ correspondent of Lord Beaverbrook’s formerly fascist-supporting Daily Express, yet who lambasts politicians’ fathers amongst many others for their lack of patriotism.

The seafront at Marseilles, Monday, as Ana whips up a storm across the whole of continental Europe with winds of hurricane force. (Aljazeera)

GW: gaily coloured sails out to sea, tacking to and fro

The weather chaos continues around the world…

USA: 11 Dec, after record snowfall – at 10 inches PER HOUR for a while – a low-pressure system moving rapidly off the North Pacific brings winds of up to 160 mph in the region of Fairbanks, Alaska – equivalent to a Cat 5 hurricane.

Temperatures north of the Canadian border continue at record highs for December, while in the southwestern US the hot, dry Santa Ana winds continue to flail Southern California, fanning the now enormous ‘Thomas’ fire, burning over an area near Los Angeles bigger than New York City. To the east, a chain of storms has brought heavy snowfall up from southern Texas all the way northward into New England.

Europe: High winds from Storm Ana have raised mountainous seas off of Portugal and into the Mediterranean; also through central Europe with winds gusting potentially to 2o0 mph over Austria, up into Poland (MrMBB333). Snow warnings are out in large areas of Spain. Heavy snowfalls were reported in northern Italy, northeastern France, Germany and Scandinavia.

The Mediano reservoir in the Pyrenees, on 19 November. Months without rain have resulted in widespread drought in Spain, with national reservoirs at only 37.3% of capacity, their lowest level in 22 years. (EPA/Javier Basco/BBC Weather). Now, it’s snowing…

UK: looking at the Accuweather map, 19.00 11 Dec, what the fuck is that out in the Atlantic? A massive storm system on the radar, barrelling eastwards toward the British Isles, yet not a word in the forecasts. This low was spotted on the map over the shoulder of a BBC weather forecaster leaving New England the night before last, but nothing was said.

The BogPo wonders conspiratorially, if the BBC weather service is constraining its forecasters to maintain seasonal good cheer and pretend that everything is normal? Except that bringing up the Wikipedia entry for ‘List of European windstorms’ over the centuries shows that we’re really getting off lightly these days: in 1362, a storm killed 25 thousand people in Britain and northern Europe.

Africa: President Kiir of South Sudan has declared a state of emergency and ordered the army to disarm cattle farmers involved in local grazing wars, as fighting spreads after years of drought.

 

They think it’s all over…

Earthquake monitor ‘Dutchsinse’ (Michael Janich) has identified from satellite imagery that among the wildfires affecting the state into this week, the extensive oil pumping operations in the hills north of Ventura, SoCal, may be on fire. Pressure to the wells may have increased as a result of an earthquake swarm currently, and a suspicion that at least two undersea volcanoes may be erupting simultaneously off the coast parallel with the pumping operations onland.

Anyone who thinks fracking is a strategically vital activity to develop independent UK gas supplies for the future and should automatically be permitted needs to watch the early-mid part of this little video clip from Janich, and you will understand what the geological threat is. They have dozens of earthquakes in the fracking zones of Colorado and Oklahoma and they very rarely happened before Harold Hamm and others started drilling the shit out of the bedrock 30 years ago. These thousands of drill-sites are also spewing out massive amounts of climate-altering methane, since Trump helpfully removed an Obama cap on emissions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHP26Nhaii0

 

Who is Andrew Wheeler?

Andrew Wheeler is a top executive at Washington lobbying firm, Faegre Baker Daniels (FBD). The account director working on the case of an American mining company, he has been lobbying the Trump administration to extend uranium mining and processing rights on public lands.

Bears Ears national monument lands, ripe for the taking.

The administration recently announced that it was scaling back protections to two public monuments by hundreds of thousands of acres, one of which is known for a geographical feature called Bears Ears. It’s territory sacred to the Navajo, some of whose famous surviving ‘Code talkers’ were glad-handed at the White House two weeks ago, a reception at which Trump embarrassed himself and the entire country by referring to his Congressional critic, Senator Elizabeth Warren, as ‘Pocohontas’.

But that’s just because he’s a casual racist orange slug, incapable of either empathy or, indeed, rational thought. He’s just learning on the job and will, the New York Times promises us, become more Presidential in time.

In a statement, Trump confusingly argued that by privatizing public lands, he was somehow making them more public. “Public lands”, he trumpeted, “will once again be for public use.” But nobody had said they weren’t!

President Obama’s extension of public rights to more monument lands had meant people were being denied their traditional rights over them, the President claimed, through undefined “abuses of the Antiquities Act”, in perhaps the most Orwellian example of Doublespeak that has yet dribbled like liquid shit from his demented old brain.

His internal affairs secretary, the much-travelled (privately, at taxpayers’ expense) Ryan Zinke backed him up: no, he lied brazenly, there are no mining interests at Bears Ears.

Like hell there aren’t. FBD was hired by a company called Energy Fuels Resources to get this deal stitched up. As they say on their website:

“Energy Fuels is the only conventional uranium producer in America. We take great pride in owning and operating facilities that produce 11.5 million pounds of uranium per year – and we have the capability to scale-up those operations as uranium prices rise in the coming years.”

Mr Zinke does have a point: Energy Fuels is having to scale-back production at present, owing to the low world price of uranium. However there are obvious advantages in holding land concessions for future exploitation; while Mr Trump’s hell-for-leather, pointless willy-bragging expansion policy for nuclear weapons will no doubt benefit the share price of the Energy Fuels monopoly.

His beneficent attitude towards the company no doubt also played into his recent bizarre and spurious attacks on Hillary Clinton over the so-called ‘Uraniumgate’ affair, when she was accused of betraying the US uranium industry to… the Russians. Which the facts suggest she really didn’t.

So who made up the story?

Mr Wheeler’s persuasive lobbying style obviously appealed to Trump, as he has nominated him to the post of Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, working to the profoundly corrupt energy corporations shill and unqualified climate-change denier, Scott Pruitt. His nomination is awaiting Senate confirmation.

Yet another example of Trump ‘draining the swamp’, no doubt. Better have these dreadful people inside the tent after all, is the logic.

As long as they bring their money.

Story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3W78oocRjc, and The Washington Post.

The Pumpkin – Issue 40: When thieves fall out… A “kill the pigs” fantasia… Greatness is as greatness does… GW: your old gal on the back of a snowmobile, going 200 mph…

“The United States will not be lectured to by countries that lack any credibility when it comes to treating both Israelis and Palestinians fairly” – Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN.

 

When thieves fall out

There’s increasing speculation in US media that the put-upon Vice-President, the snow-capped walking advert for Anusol, God’s best friend Mike Pence is only hanging around because he wants the top job and is hoping someone, anyone, will invoke the 25th Amendment to have Trump declared mentally incompetent. His biggest fear being that the crazed plotter, the nodding-dog Sen. Ryan will have him out of a job too.

Surely, it’s his Christian doody to remove the demented old man to a place of safety? Mike ‘Dense’ as his schoolmates knew him, has no other function in history than to rid us of that repellent, self-regarding orange slug with the slimy voice. Yet he won’t do it. He doesn’t understand his place in history.

Mr Trump has described the Pences as ‘Low-class yokels’, for keeping pets at home. (A notorious germophobe, Trump has never had so much as a puppy for the kids. He’d probably have eaten it anyway. Or sued it.) Maybe he’s not wrong? It takes a certain nobility to earn your place in history. “There is a tide in the affairs of men…” and so forth.

Mrs Pence, Karen is reported in a new book as describing President Trump as ‘Totally vile’ in reaction to the Access Hollywood “pussy-grabbing” tape, for which he apologized last March and now thinks it maybe wasn’t him on the tape after all, despite the video evidence and the testimony of poor Billy Bush, the reporter snarfing along with Trump on the bus, who’s been out of work ever since the story came out. And she’s not wrong eithegr.

Mr Bush responded the other day to Trump’s demented denial by calling him a liar. When thieves fall out, it’s bad. When Christian thieves fall out, there’s… well, fallout!

Anyway, having momentarily forgotten Senator Bob Corker’s name, although I remembered Senator Jeff Flake’s name, I just now Googled ‘Senator, Trump not Fit’ in search of their relevant comments.

And you know what? There are dozens of current and former Senators on all sides who’ve gone on record saying this dumb orange asshole isn’t fit to be the President of the United States! Try it!

And then listen to them. Get rid of the crazy fucker.

 

A “kill the pigs” fantasia

I’ve just watched the most horrifying video.

Sometime in January last year, a policeman points an AR-15 assault rifle at an unarmed man kneeling in a hotel hallway, a man pleading for his life. The man’s name is Daniel Shaver. He is a pest-control officer, armed for work with a pellet gun, an air rifle which he was not holding at the time; but which has been reported to the police as a possible weapon. (In America!)

The policeman has no fear of the suspect. Sensing his power of life-or-death, the policeman screams with a curious lack of emotion at the helpless man on the floor in front of him: do this, do that, orders him to cross his left leg over his right, put his hands on his head, shut up, put them up, shut up, put his hands on the floor, shut up, I’m giving the orders, Simon says…. The man obeys every instruction but is so terrified that he instinctively moves to pull up his pants.

And the policeman shoots him five times. Dead.

And is acquitted of “second degree” murder by an Arizona jury of dumbfucks stoned on opioids and their own hateful, innate cowpoke cretinism, as the defendant so clearly fired in self-defense. I mean, why else would a cop arbitrarily kill an unarmed tradesman crouching on the floor with his empty hands outstretched, pleading for his life while a semi-automatic, military-grade weapon is pointing at him, except in exculpatory circumstances?

The execution was captured in horrifying detail on a police GoPro camera.

The policeman could not understand why he was even on trial: he had only done what his training told him to do. Kill the suspect if he moves.

Try explaining that to the suspect’s two children.

I am now traumatized. If you too would like to be traumatized by the naked power these indescribable bullies and psychopaths in black wield over you, increasingly throughout the world, even in your own country, go to

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTdJYZMKeQs

And then tell me, “oh, but, if you’re innocent you have nothing to fear”. And I will punch you, very hard, in the face. In fact you can spend the evening in A&E having your teeth picked out of your arsehole by an exhausted junior doctor. Make my day.

Oh, by the way, the victim was a WHITE MAN. Not that it makes it any easier or worse or morally anything. But, you know. You probably wondered.

This is America, where No Lives Matter. It’s what America does. Kills people for no reason, just because it can. It’s a way of life, death. You Americans are all guilty of this repellent act of murderous barbarity, this brutal and psychopathic display of naked power that on a macro-geopolitical scale you display to other nations small enough to bully, who don’t eat your shit. You all bear responsibility for this act of unpardonable horror because you all salute the same fucking flag that licences it. The star-spangled banner of tyranny.

There are no exceptions to this, no innocents. This is your fucking horrible nation, your mess, someone’s innocent blood on your hands, your corrupt and out of control, authoritarian, insensible, brutal-maniacal police, given carte-blanche to express themselves by that little Southern racist shitbrains in the Justice department, the seemingly unsackable liar, Sessions.

You’re all fucking mad, a lethally destructive, psychopathic nation. Suck it up. Put down your weapons, paranoid morons scared of your own shadows. Embrace rationality. You have a fucking vote, use it. Resist this toxic sludge.

And this is the babyfaced innocent little psychopath, Brailsford. Cleaned up for the jury and without his Iron Cross and his AR-15 penis extension. Be very afraid.

And to doxx the little power-crazed murdering sonofabitch, his name is Former Officer Philip Mitchell Brailsford, his lovely wife’s name is Laney Sweet, they live or lived in Maricopa County and if he and Mrs Brailsford and any little Brailsfords should show up at your B&B this summer, I recommend rat poison.

Deep breath.

Anyway, for an excellent Christmassy overview of the State of the Union, The Pumpkin recommends BBC reporter Nick Bryant’s lengthy new piece, When America Stopped Being Great:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41826022

Although I would argue that his wide-eyed belief in the greatness of America, that he held at 15.43 pm on Sat, Aug 3rd, 19-whenever he decided it was at its greatest, is probably a little tendentious.

Greatness is as greatness does.

I offer only a lukewarm introduction to Maggie Heberman’s pretty anodyne essay on the Trump presidency in today’s New York Times, R. Murdoch prop., however.

I don’t for instance see how she can recall his ‘softer tone’ with children, when he spent the afternoon of the Halloween party she cites, hectoring the invited and bemused, very young children of the White House press corps about the ‘fake news media’ their parents worked for, and how they were always criticizing him unfairly. Or his extraordinary speech to the Boy Scouts of America, referring to orgies on his billionaire friends’ yachts.

Nor do I quite understand Heberman’s gibe that concern for his mental health should be the sole preserve of ‘experts’ – those he is too sick to understand he needs to consult? It must be perfectly obvious to anyone watching and listening to him, his rambling inconsistencies and frequent losses of concentration, his tendency to wander off and having to be brought back, his often delusional take on reality, his obsession with rerunning the past, that he belongs in a seniors’ home.

Ms Heberman’s innocent reference to Trump’s early business mentor, Roy Cohn, somewhat understates the sheer ruthlessness and brutality of the notorious Mafia lawyer, consigliere both to the Gambino crime family and to the Witchfinder-General, Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

In fact, I am still scouring her piece looking for any mention of Trump’s bloody business career: his many defaulted loans, his complete untrustworthiness in matters of contract, his massive indebtedness to overseas banks, his endless entanglements in civil suits, his blurring of the lines between business and private finance, his abuse of his tax-exempt Foundation, his complex tax avoidance strategies, his employment of undocumented labor and the outright scam of his grubby “Trump University” wheeze.

Her references to him relaxing on the golf course entirely fail to mention the cost to the nation – not to mention local businesses closed to traffic for security reasons – of these weekly three-day jamborees promoting membership of his tacky resorts at the taxpayers’ expense – well north of $50 million this year already. His bankrupting of the Secret Service protection program, which he has extended to 42 family members, their properties and businesses at an estimated cost of a billion dollars.

Indeed, there is no mention anywhere of his blatant breaches of both the domestic and foreign Emoluments clauses in the Constitution as he continues to profit from office by flogging his name to money-laundering developers in corrupt criminal fiefdoms around the globe. and hosts government officials and state events in his hotels.

You see, the man she is describing is not very intelligent to begin with. Anyone knows it is not necessary to use a ‘state-of-the-art TiVo’ recorder to timeshift cable news as every damned word is available forever on the internet, on YouTube or catch-up services. In any case they repeat through 24-hour cycles. Nor do I see how he manages to eat well-done steaks for dinner, slathered in ketchup, with those loose and sloppy dentures that sho often letsh him down.

The one word missing from her extensively promoted piece, in the opinion of The Pumpkin, is ‘asshole’.

Even the worst aspects of his assholery are presented as being only curious character traits, minor glitches in the ongoing reformation of an otherwise rational man who took on the job almost by accident when completely out of his depth and still can’t stop rerunning his election campaign, or trying to make decisions in a fog of ignorance about so many subjects; economically illiterate, able to comprehend only comic-strip briefings and given to irrational outbursts, malignant personal vendettas and wilfully destructive orders, he is nevertheless an endearing anomaly…

No, Maggie, fuck that.

This is the man with four thousand nuclear weapons at his disposal, and he can’t understand why if we’ve got them, we don’t use them more often?

This is the man of whom Sen. Bob Corker opined that he occupies a White House that in view of the number of aides whose job it is to mollify the thin-skinned tyrant, this bizarre channeling of the Emperor Nero, is more like an adult day-care centre than a place of wise governance.

Tell the people who have been dying in droves as a result of his crass insensitivity and brute nativist instincts that he is still learning on the job, and will get it right eventually.

Tell it to Daniel Shaver’s kids.

https://www.nytimes.com/ “Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation”.

x

GW: your old gal on the back of a snowmobile, going 200 mph…

USA: “A swath of high-impact snowfall—in some places, among the heaviest ever observed—made its way from South Texas to Atlanta on Friday (8 Dec), en route to the big cities of the Northeast U.S.

“Meanwhile, massive wildfires continued to scorch the landscape of Southern California, raging at unprecedented scope for December. … With no sign of any meaningful rains for Southern California over the next two weeks, it is quite possible that some of this week’s wildfires will burn until Christmas and beyond. …

“(Hurricane) Harvey’s 64 inches of rain near Port Arthur were the greatest on record for any storm in U.S. recorded history. Despite this unprecedented deluge, portions of the (Texas) region that received 20+ inches of rain are now in drought.” – Wunderground.

Europe: Snow and ice warnings out (9 Dec) for virtually the whole of northern continental Europe and Scandinavia; meanwhile, fierce thunderstorms are affecting virtually all of Greece, with severe gales in Portugal, Spain and running up the Bay of Biscay into the Channel. Meteoalarm is warning of an extraordinary combination of high winds, big waves, local flash-flooding and ‘summer thunderstorms’ off the coast of southern France (11/12 Dec). Waves up to 10 metres (33 ft) are pounding the coast of Portugal.

While the following is predicted in Slaskie province and other parts of southern Poland: “It is expected strong wind with average speed up to 80 kmph, with gusts up to 140 kmph, south. TAKE ACTION to protect yourself. Risk to personal safety from uprooted trees and flying debris. Widespread structural damage, road closures and power outages are expected. Protect yourself and act on advice given by emergency services.”

UK: 10 Dec, and 38 cm (15-in) of snow has been dumped in a day on the small Welsh town of Sennybridge, near Cilmeri – scene in 1282 of the final battle of the rebellious Welsh prince Llewelyn ap Gruffudd, ‘Llewelyn the Last’, tricked by Earl Mortimer into leaving his army under truce and then murdered in a wood. The Met Office is warning of temperatures plummeting to -15C overnight.

Monday, and it’s a glorious, sunny winter’s day here on the west coast, with almost no wind….

Wunderground/ Meteoalarm/ Boglington Post

 

Snookerballs

Stephen Hendry: “The thing with Ronnie (O’Sullivan – 5 times World Champion) that makes him so hard to play is, he never plays a wrong shot…” (Ronnie immediately pots the cue ball by mistake…) Five minutes later:

Hendry: “He’d like to be a little bit closer to that red but I don’t expect him to miss it…” (Ronnie promptly misses it.)

Then Hendry, weirdly, on Ronnie’s opponent: “No room for margin now, he’s just got to not miss.”

Sound advice, Stephen (7 times World Champion). (Ronnie wins.)

The Pumpkin – Issue 38: The disruptors have won. Mr Putin has won… Theft… Is Donald Trump an idiot? Don’t answer that!… GW: The war on cars.

“Okay boys, drinks are on the House!” Senator Hatch contemplates his bank balance as the Great Republican Tax Heist finally passes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Asked about the meetings, Kassam said: “Brexit and the election of President Trump were inextricably linked…” – Guardian, 02 Dec.

So it’s official. Russian and US interference – dark-money for Leave.EU, data-mining and manipulation, microtargeting of floating voters, whatever – helped to bring about the current political disaster unfolding in Downing Street as ruling Conservative politicians tear one another to pieces over the shape Britain’s rapidly approaching exit from the EU should take, and who should seize power when that happens.

The disruptors have won.

Mr Putin has won.

“Kassam” is Raheen Kassam, editor of the UK edition of the Breitbart News website. He was speaking after meetings he had set up in a London hotel between Victorian revivalist Tory pretender, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Stephen K Bannon, the partly-ousted senior policy advisor to President Trump and founding global editor of Breitbart, a far-right, Islamophobic media outlet and pressure group.

If some holy alliance has been mooted or agreed over tea and cakes, a “bone china” accord, it is a terrifying prospect for liberal democracy.

Both Mr Bannon and Mr Mogg, who bids for the leadership of the governing party in Britain, are staunch Roman Catholics, Opus Dei supporters who oppose the spread of Islam through mass migration; oppose women’s and minority rights; promote extreme free-market ideology, and have no apparent concern for those it leaves behind.

Mr Mogg, the Pumpkin believes, further advocates more economic austerity, immediate withdrawal from the EU without reaching any agreements on free movement of goods, imposition of customs barriers, removal of common product standards and residential rights for those EU citizens already in Britain and British citizens abroad, heedless of Irish pleas that there should be no hard border; while reneging on our longterm debt obligations.

Mr Bannon further states openly that his intention is to surgically excise whole tiers of government administration and oversight bodies, abolish all taxes and consumer and environmental protections, halt all migration, defeat Islam by military force, marginalize ethnic minorities and impose a benign form of rule by white Christian billionaires. Failing which, he welcomes Armaggeddon: the End Times.

Also present at the meetings was Nigel Farage, founder of the now shambolic and discredited UKIP “independence” party, which campaigned on the single issue of reducing immigration by virtue of withdrawal from accords requiring member states to allow free movement of all citizens to work and reside within EU borders, and the repatriation of settled EU migrants, regardless of the effect on our already stagnant and unproductive economy.

The irony being that the policy would largely affect Polish, Romanian and Hungarian migrant workers from EU member states closest to Russia, administrations that are openly and defiantly white nativist, anti-migrant and anti-Islam, fully in line with British Nationalist aspirations as exploited by Mr Farage and his ilk.

A go-between for the Trump campaign and Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, Mr Farage is another free-market ideologue, a member of the European Parliament who has successfully sponged for years off the fruits of the European Union while calling for its destruction. All three of these monstrous plotting men seeking to replace democracy by a corporate elite are millionaires. Only the ex-naval officer and producer of flaky propaganda films, Bannon has ever done a day’s work in his life, the others being privately educated stockjobbers, panel-show guests and money-manipulators with inherited wealth.

This smells very bad, for two reasons.

One, the anti-democratic corporate takeover of the United States is almost complete. Last night under pressure from heavy backers such as the multi-billionaire coalmining Koch brothers, Republican senators voted through Trump’s so-called tax “reform” bill, which will see average taxes on the lower-paid increase by up to ten percent while giving $1.4 trillion in tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest 0.1 per cent of individuals. It has been estimated that the Trump family alone will benefit by a billion dollars over ten years as the national debt increases.

Two, Trump revealed his true colors over last weekend with a series of unfortunate tweets in which he put the interests of promoting a tiny but virulently racist neo-Nazi group, Britain First, above maintaining good relations with a key American ally in the fight against extremism of all persuasions, retweeting three demonstrably fake videos purporting to show Muslims abusing or murdering white Christians to his millions of dumbfuck followers. As a result, Britain First and its poisonous leader, the distinctly foreign-sounding Jayda Fransen, have massively increased their global Twitter following.

When mildly rebuked by the British Prime Minister, demented Tweety-Pie snapped back that she should focus on combating Islamic terrorism. Mrs May, who spent six years at the Home Office as the minister in charge of anti-terrorist operations, where she imposed a surveillance state, border controls and immigration rules that make Trump’s look like a drive-through, is thus caught in yet another bind. Her visibly inept and clownish Brexit withdrawal team is desperate not to upset relations with the USA in the wholly misguided and naive belief that on leaving the EU we will negotiate a favorable trade deal with our “special relations” across the water.

(Their other misguided belief, obviously, is that Trump will still be in office by 2019.)

They should understand that US politics has moved way beyond that. Exsurgent corporate America will demand terms little short of economic slavery, leading to the almost certain privatizations, or US-ifications, of our cash-cows like the National Health Service, education, communications, bursting prisons and transport, with full tax-free repatriation of profits, reversion to minimal product safety standards and supremacy of the American courts.

But they won’t, until it is too late.

And now it probably is.

x

Benito Mussolini’s definition of fascism was that it was the perfect alignment of State, church and corporate interests.

Theft

As The Pumpkin has argued, there is no rule of human existence that says a man cannot at one and the same time be an overgrown spoilt brat deprived of parental love, a feckless pussy-grabbing playboy, a bullying thug, a compulsive liar, a ruthlessly self-interested financial operator with connections to organized crime both in the USA and Russia, a compromised net debtor to many foreign banks, a delusionary narcissistic psychopath given to violent rages, petty personal vendettas, violent sexual and militaristic fantasies, AND be in the early stages of senile dementia.

All of those are possibly simultaneous characteristics of any US President elected on a minority vote, provided he is old, corrupt, stupid and mad enough.

It is not a criticism to say those things, but a humanitarian observation. It is not necessary to be a qualified doctor or psychiatrist to know empathically that here is a soul in torment. Pushing aside the layers of anger and loathing expressed against Trump by, now, quite a large majority of Americans, it is possible to pity the man and to see that he is mentally tortured, desperately in need of help, struggling to carry on – yet no-one is daring to offer help because his illness will not allow him to understand that he needs it; and he has absolute power over them.

Clearly, the pressures of an office he was disastrously unfitted to carry out in the first place, promoting himself through his overweening ego and manipulated effectively as a dimwitted sock-puppet by evil disruptors plotting the downfall of American democracy, combined with the remorseless grind of a legal mincing-machine known as Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigations into Trump’s financial dealings and probable collusion with Russia to manipulate the electoral process draw ever closer to the Oval Office, are tipping Mr Trump mentally into the abyss.

Aside from a tiny coterie of terrified loyalists on his staff, true believers in the “alternative truths” peddled by their increasingly delusionary and out-of-control Commander-in-Chief, those tarred with his sticky brush, there is now not one White House staffer close to the President, not one Republican congressman or woman on the Hill, who does not nervously joke with colleagues and even whisper to journalists that the President is mentally unstable and growing worse by the day.

He has greeted the passage of the tax bill – his first major piece of legislation passed in nearly a year – with a tweet crowing – in total contradiction to what many independent tax experts and oversight bodies are saying – that the cuts will benefit middle-class and poorer working Americans and drive the economy forward; while he himself will lose out, a blatant lie and one that contrasts oddly with his previous claim that paying no income tax for 18 years makes him “smart”….

The only problem being, the poorer you are, the less it will benefit you over time. A 15% cut in corporation tax (and no more double-tax on overseas profits) is meaningless as few corporations pay the full rate anyway; the average is just 5%, so that now means a zero rate. Many CEOs and CFOs have clearly stated that they do not intend to spend their windfall on employing more Americans. And a clause removing the obligation to buy heavily subsidized health insurance under Obamacare will mean much more expensive premiums for 13 million Americans, before the even more destructive “Trumpcare” bill has even returned to the House.

We are living in awfully dangerous times.

When will those moral imbeciles, those yellow-streaked, venal cowards in the Republican party get a grip on the situation? Only, perhaps, once they have guaranteed themselves and their wealthy corporate backers untold riches, by finally voting through a huge increase in the national debt to grant one another the tax breaks they have convinced themselves that they need and deserve.

There’s a word for that.

Theft.

x

“It seems that as the news cycle has rolled around inexorably, Mr Trump is having difficulty remembering anything that happened a few months ago.”

Is Donald Trump an idiot? Don’t answer that!

Mr Trump is well known among the US progressive TV and/or libtard snowflake online commentariat for often saying or tweeting things that, while being defensive of his positions or blame-shifting and accusing others, tend only to incriminate himself.

It is as if, after years of getting away with borderline criminal behaviour and worse, he wants to be caught and punished. In his Macbeth-like madness, the mantle of guilt is weighing heavy on him. His mind is disintegrating.

There can surely be no finer example than his latest claim, that he knew perfectly well that Gen Michael Flynn had lied, not only to Vice-President Anusol, but also to the FBI, about his furtive Russian contacts at the time he fired him; and that Flynn had done nothing illegal. (Apart from negotiating foreign policy with an external power while not officially in office.)

Begging the question, if (in his untutored opinion) Flynn had done nothing illegal, then a) why would he have lied about his many meetings with Russians (including Putin) and the fees he earned from doing PR work for Kremlin interests, and b) why did Trump therefore have to fire him and then blame Comey? The conclusion surely has to be, does it not, that Flynn was protecting Mr Trump, until Trump panicked at ‘fake news’ reports in the failing New York Times and threw him under the bus.

It seems that as the news cycle has rolled around inexorably, Mr Trump is having difficulty remembering anything that happened a few months ago. As indeed is most of the media, US allies worldwide and the stunned public.

Let it not be forgotten that Flynn was allowed to continue attending meetings for which he required the highest security clearance for 18 days after Trump was informed for the third time that his National Security Adviser had lied about meetings with Russians, before he was fired. And that during that time, Flynn appears to have been in charge of a black-bag project to trace potentially damaging emails allegedly missing from Mrs Clinton’s files. Emails brought to Mr Trump’s son’s attention by the Kremlin lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at a meeting on 9 June whose purpose Trump lied about to protect Moron Jr.

Who ordered Flynn to do that?

Mr Trump has clearly not understood that a) he needs to leave it to his legal team to put out these sorts of communications, because Trump has essentially just implicated himself in Gen Flynn’s federal crime of lying to the FBI. He should just shut up about it, but it’s not in his nature to not eventually incriminate himself; and b) it is a federal crime to withold evidence of a crime from the FBI and so he should immediately on discovering it have told FBI Director Comey about Flynn having lied, instead of asking Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn and then firing both of them – opening himself to a charge of obstructing justice.

Mr Trump is now in deep trouble.

He has repeatedly tried to shift the blame for Flynn’s appointment onto President Obama, claiming that Flynn had gained his top security clearance while working under the Obama presidency and so he had no reason to suspect that when not only Obama himself, but the then-deputy Attorney-General Sally Yates, someone else he just had to fire, frequently tried to warn him not to take on Flynn, that they were being serious.

Mr Trump is forgetting, to put it charitably, that President Obama had himself fired Flynn on the advice of the intelligence services that Flynn presented a security risk; yet despite that, and the direct warnings he was given, he insisted on appointing him to the top security job. A Russian agent! Why? Was it better to have Flynn inside, pissing out? Or was there an element of obligation to a Moscow anxious for a deal to relieve sanctions?

So now it transpires that Flynn’s role may have been more commercial than just getting sanctions on Putin’s cronies lifted: even as Trump was delivering his apocalyptically insane “American carnage” inaugural address, Flynn was, it seems, texting a Russian contact over a joint deal to build nuclear power stations in the Middle East, from which, the texts suggest, “everyone” involved was going to make a shedload of money.

The FBI and the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller, have now got probably the most complete picture possible of what Mr Trump knew, and when he knew it. They have rewarded Gen. Flynn with a single charge, of lying to the FBI, to which he has already pleaded guilty and so cannot attract a presidential pardon.

And Mr Trump has walked straight into the trap with his silly bluster: “Of course I knew… what do you take me for, an idiot?”

Don’t answer that.

x

Is the weather trying to tell us something?

GW: the war on cars

Your Granny Weatherwax has had her specs on, scouring YouTube in vain for any sign of #85, latest anticipated episode of the continuing series of wild weather reports from an invaluable website, Climate & Extreme Weather News, published by a group calling itself Understanding Climate Change.

It’s days overdue and we’re worried something might have happened to it.

GW freely and cheerfully admits to pillaging said site (fully credited, of course) among others, for interesting tidbits of news regarding the end of everything. While not fully verified, nevertheless the bulletins published about twice a week and running to about 50 minutes consist mainly of unedited citizen-journalist cameraphone footage and sometimes linguistically incomprehensible local TV news reports and press cuttings from flood-and-fire, tornado and hurricane-stricken zones around the world, minimally captioned and with no commentary.

It is, to be frank, deeply depressing – not to say highly alarming – viewing material. But someone has to do it, so you don’t have to.

Pulling up a YouTube page just now, filtering only CEWN content, GW was struck by something about the column of illustrative thumbnail photos when seen as a group.

For they mostly appear to show cars.

Cars battling through floodwaters; cars floating away, spinning balletically down roads turned to mighty rushing torrents; cars parked forlornly with water up to their rooftops, emergency lights flashing, alarms warbling like strange water creatures; cars crushed beneath fallen trees and pylons; cars buried in mud; cars stranded in heaps of mangled metal, perched surreally on top of buildings – lifted atop other cars, in a faintly obscene parody of a bestial mating ritual.

GW further notes that surprisingly many of the residents of even the poorest villages and shoddy, unkempt uptown suburbs of second-world cities getting pounded by huge hailstones, blitzed by lightning or half-buried in mudslides seem to own a relatively modern car nowadays: there are 1.2 billion private cars in the world, I’m told.

Pity the insurance industry! (not really. Ed.). It is as if the weather is waging war especially on cars, that in their multitudinous outpouring of carbon and other greenhouse gases (your car emits 4.5 tonnes of CO2 annually) have helped in no small measure to bring about the crisis of climate chaos we’re facing.

Just an observation.

Just sayin’.

Massive storms follow 3 weeks of spring heatwave in the Melbourne area.

Australia: Superstorm warning for SE Australia. After an unprecedented November heatwave, a huge blocking system stalled off the coast of SE Australia is producing a “major weather event” as violent thunderstorms dump torrential rain (up to 300 mm in 36 hours) and cause flooding in almost all of Victoria state. Forecaster Scott Williams, from the Bureau of Meteorology, said thunderstorms developing over western Victoria yesterday evening (30 Nov) would move to other parts overnight. “Those thunderstorms will gradually all weld into a massive, great rain band, (with large hailstones and ‘damaging’ winds) and that band will spread down across the state on Friday night and Saturday morning,” he said. “This is a vast, intense, high-impact event for this state. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a deep low form over Victoria whilst we’ve got this moisture around.”

Update, 02 Dec: “Several major events have been cancelled including Melbourne’s outdoor Christmas market.  Numerous flight delays and cancellations, with Melbourne Airport urging travellers to check for changes. So far there have been more than 800 calls for assistance amid rising floodwaters in several Melbourne suburbs. During the Friday evening rush hour train lines and roads were lashed while major stations were sandbagged to protect them from flooding.” Freeways and roads … are underwater as forecasters anticipate a “significant flooding event”. “A landslide has caused traffic congestion on the Great Ocean Road, about 6km south of Wye River…” (Edited from reports)

Indonesia: 19 dead as TS Sempaka brings floods and landslides to east Java. Houses destroyed in Pacitan. Extensive new flooding has left roads 1m deep underwater in Riau, Sumatra, cutting off 800 residents.

USA: Mount Vernon, Seattle, (24 Nov) the Skagit river bursts its banks after ‘worse than expected’ rainfall brought in by the Pacific ‘atmospheric river’ system.

Argentina: Rio Cuarto battered by sudden violent storm (24 Nov). Flash flooding, cyclonic wind, golfball-size hailstones. Watch CEWN #84 at 30′.50″ as an idiot tries to set off on his motorbike in 2ft-deep fast-flowing water, has to be rescued; more idiots swim for fun down street turned to rushing river. (Not yet seen anyone actually surfing a brown wave, only a matter of time…)

Peru: Cajamarca, torrential rain floods town, streets flowing with muddy ‘red tide’ washes cars away.

It’s not cricket! Sri Lankan players stop for a breather… (AP)

India:  “A Test match between India and Sri Lanka was repeatedly interrupted on 3 Dec with claims players were “continuously vomiting” due to hazardous pollution levels in the Indian capital. Commentators said it was the first recorded instance of an international match being halted due to the toxic smog that afflicts much of north India year-round but worsens to hazardous levels during winter months. Airborne pollution levels (were measured at) 15 times the World Health Organisation safe limit.”

Sri Lanka:At least 13 people have died, 1 missing and 61 injured in Sri Lanka since 29 November, 2017 after severe weather including strong winds and heavy rain brought by Cyclone Ockhi. According to the country’s Disaster Management Centre, as of 02 December more than 106,000 people in 16 districts across the country had been affected.”

 

General outlook: thanks to the broken Arctic jetstream and weak La Niña,  two polar vortices are sitting far down in the northern hemisphere, one over Europe and one over eastern parts of America, with temperatures well below normal and heavy snowfall. Elsewhere, at the same latitudes ‘heatwave’ conditions are persisting into December. The temperature north of the Arctic circle in Western Greenland is still 6.9 deg. C. above freezing, causing melt conditions.

The Pumpkin – Issue 32. Let’s see the color of your money, Mr President. Granny Weatherwax, 29-31 August: not getting better all the time (Post under construction)

I’m collecting for Ivanka’s kids. So needy. That’s right, whatever you are, please give generously, I’ve called for ICE backup, you’ll be on your way home to Mexico shortly…

 

“…let’s see the multibillionaire tax-dodging shareholders drive their fucking superyachts into Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur to save the people drowning.”

Let’s see the color of your money, Mr President

President Trump has ‘personally pledged’ $1 million to swell the Congress-approved $5.5 billion fund for the 400,000 victims of Hurricane Harvey flooded out of their homes last week. Thirty-two thousand are still huddled in shelters, and it’s not over yet.

The eventual bill has been put at possibly $130 billion.

Who will rescue him, and tens of thousands like him?

It’ll be interesting to see if, when and how he actually pays this money. (Rumor has it, he’s already rescinded the offer.) His personal tax-exempt Trump Foundation has made numerous declarations in the past about its generous charity donations, all of which have been denied by the supposed recipients who say they’ve never seen a penny.

If he does stump up, and it’s his own money, not skimmed off the growing budget for his Re-election Campaign 2020, then it might go some way towards mitigating the horrible effects of his – Steve Bannon’s, Bob Mercer’s – ‘shrink the State’ policy.

Because when you have emergencies and disasters on this scale, you do sort of need a central Government, with real people in it and real money behind it.

The possibility of Hurricane Irma hitting New York city next weekend as a Cat 5 (see below) with a tidal surge through Manhattan higher than that caused by Hurricane Sandy, followed by several feet of rain and 180 mph sustained winds over a period of hours or days, coming on top of Harvey, could leave the government looking to find possibly half a trillion dollars to clear up the mess.

And that’s before the bills roll in for States already facing huge costs related to many other flooding episodes this summer, infrastructure damage and the costs of tackling wildfires; which Oregon alone estimates at $100 million.

But the money’s not there. Congress has yet to see detailed 2017/18 budget proposals, let alone debate and pass them. The Government is due to run out of road financially on 29 September. And Trump’s headline budget is all about tax cuts for corporations and wealthy investors, not about fishing ordinary people out of bayous and drying out their homes.

Since his underwhelming inauguration parade, Trump has vowed to slash the budget for FEMA, the federal emergencies management administration that is the first line of Federal support in the event of a disaster like Harvey; burn the budget for compensating underinsured flood victims (the fund is already $24 bn in the red); and blow-up the budget of NASA, particularly its climate monitoring and research programs.

He’s appointed mentally unhinged, corrupt and unqualified rogue incompetents to the strategically vital positions of Secretary for Energy and Director of the Environment Protection Agency; the Parks and Agriculture and financial policy departments, even the State Department, are headed by morally bankrupt placemen on under-the-counter corporate payrolls: the middle tiers of all their administrations are gutted and empty, or silenced.

He’s greenlit more pipeline-fed refinery developments in the highly concentrated southern Texas energy bidness, where overdevelopment of former flood-absorbing wetlands was in large part responsible for exacerbating the misery last week; and where chemical pollution from damaged plant is a major health hazard.

Trump has still to appoint a Director of NOAA, the national weather bureau, as he doesn’t believe in the existence of weather; it’s all a Chinese plot – and has commanded the rollback of environmental legislation from the Obama years, including an order requiring property developers and local planners to take proper account of environmental risks.

Without wishing to deluge the victims of Harvey with a trillion gallons of schadenfreude, if this is the best he can do to protect ordinary Americans from the obviously worsening extremes of climate disruption and industrial pollution, this miserable apology for a President, this bunco artist, can shove his piddling $million up his fat, hairy, orange ass.

He doesn’t give a fuck about you!

Let’s see corporations; let’s see the multibillionaire tax-avoiding shareholders drive their fucking superyachts into Houston and Port Arthur to save the people drowning.

 

“This slow-moving beast could make Hurricane Harvey look like a summer shower”

Granny Weatherwax, 29-31 August: not getting better all the time

USA: Harvey’s third bite at the Gulf coast in a week, with renewed storm-force winds, pushes up into Louisiana and Kentucky, dumping another 30 inches of water. Galveston, Beaumont, Port Arthur, Richmond, East Texas all hit again and underwater. Many homes, some shelters flooded, refugees moved on again.

California: wreathed in smoke from wildfires, ‘dangerous’ high September temperatures forecast for the Labor Day weekend – general warning for up to 115F (46C) inland. “Heat-related illnesses overwhelmed San Francisco hospitals on Friday, according to the Bay Area NWS office.” 106F in San Francisco on Friday and still 86F overnight uncomfortably exceeded records for over 150 years.  Fire raging near Burbank, LA – evacuations reported in Butte County, near Oroville lake.

Yemen: intense monsoon rains now flooding the south of the country, Lahij province underwater, 15 killed – coming on top of extreme heat, civil war, Saudi bombing, widespread famine conditions threatening 7 million and a large-scale cholera outbreak.

Turkey: Istanbul hit again, torrential rain, storm-force winds, flash floods. Similar story in SW Turkey, city of Denizili hit by powerful storm, large hailstones, streets turned to rivers of ice.

Spain: flash floods rip through towns in Zaragoza province. More ‘rivers of ice’ flow through medieval town streets.

Europe: more wildfires in Valle Subequana, around Secinaro, Abruzzo, central Italy. Latest weather warning for much of Italy from the national forecasting service, possible risk from storms bringing high winds, could fan fires. Threat of disruption due to more heavy rain forecast for Austria and Hungary. Heatwave is now confined to the Balkans – Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, followed by disruptive thunderstorms.

France: 15  injured, two seriously, by lightning at a music festival in the north-east of France. Several bolts of lightning struck the Vieux Canal festival in the town of Azerailles.

UK: Sport fishermen catch second 500-lb Yellowfin tuna off the coast of Wales. Many fish species said to be moving northwards as oceans warm.

Pakistan: extensive flooding in Karachi. 16 deaths reported, parts of the city impassable. (Why do selfish idiots keep on trying to drive in 3ft of water and have to be rescued at the risk of other people’s lives? Video from around the world suggests, tens of thousands of cars may have been severely damaged or destroyed in this summer’s storms – an insurers’ nightmare?)

Indonesia: Towns of Banjir Bandang and Balikpapan, Borneo – underwater.

China: In the wake of Typhoon Hato and Tropical Storm Pakhar, comes Tropical Storm Mawar, set to make landfall in the next day or so just to the NE of Hong Kong, near Shantou, bringing more heavy rain and flooding. 

Nigeria: Benue State – towns flooding. 100,000-plus people affected. More flooding too in Niger, where the death toll is now 44 and thousands evacuated. In Sierra Leone, the death toll from the Sugarloaf Mountain collapse near Freetown last month has unofficially exceeded one thousand. Heavy rains continuing.

Argentina: violent thunderstorm over La Plata – intense rainfall, hail floods streets. Press reports: ‘7 minutes of chaos’ – several inches of rain causes flooding.

Colombia: intense rainfall floods-out towns in Santa Marta province.

Mexico: Valle Dorado, Cuautitlan and Mexico City, violent flash flooding follows intensive rainfall. Airport underwater. Huge Tropical Storm system, Lidia making landfall NW Mexico, Baja California.

Russia: 12 waterspouts form simultaneously off the coast at Sochi, Black Sea republic.

Hurricane Irma: one out of a reducing number of possible scenarios, NOAA predicted track has Irma making landfall North Carolina/New Jersey/ New York next weekend as a Cat 5, the maximum category, with sustained windspeeds of 181 mph.

This slow-moving beast could make Hurricane Harvey look like a summer shower. Other potential targets include the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, Costa Rica, Florida – or the Gulf. And trailing behind it, another ‘African Wave’ system with the potential to develop into something more – if a hurricane would be named José -and two more still over West Africa heading towards the Atlantic.

Buckle up.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #61/ NOAA/ Weather Underground (NBC)/ BBC Weather

 

 

The Boglington Post: Grenfell: the envy of the masses; Wildfires, and floods: a choice of endings; See Beebies; Hips that pass in the night (Paranoia News).

UN reports 2.3 billion affected and 157,000 drowned in floods since 1995. The situation is worsening by the day.

(Photo: Gideon Mendel)

But first…

Angry questions were raised at a public meeting on Tuesday over the £20m raised by charities and individual fundraisers for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, with residents demanding to know why so little money had been disbursed to affected residents.

“Where is this money? It’s not reaching the Grenfell survivors,” shouted one person. “This is money that was given by Joe Public; where is it now? Who gives these people the right to say how this money is distributed?”

Grenfell: the envy of the masses

Just as the BogPo predicted three weeks ago, the bickering over the public donations raised to help the 158 families who escaped from Grenfell’s towering inferno a month ago has begun.

£20 million is a huge sum of money, especially to the typically low-paid service workers and disabled people who lived in the tower, and it would be absurd to argue that after what they have been through, both in the fire and its chaotic aftermath, they can look at it entirely objectively.

It seems, though – as we said – that no single organization has been responsible for collecting, auditing and fairly distributing the money, amounting to £126,500 for each family, whose total income may have been less than £15,000 a year. There is no coherent policy either as to what to do with the money: what it should be used for.

Clearly, most of those families have lost everything they owned. Some might have had contents insurance, most won’t. Would it be appropriate to try to put a value on the furniture and personal possessions of every individual family, the lost work time – with some attempt at compensation for the trauma – or does it make more sense to parcel the money out in grants according to the size of each family, or just award a fixed-amount per family unit in block grants, with a portion of the total set aside for contingencies?

Do the survivors who bought their flats under Right to Buy deserve more than those who were merely informal subletters? Their mortgage providers would surely have insisted on them having buildings insurance. And what about compensation for the surviving relatives of the (obviously many) more than 80 victims, many of whom would have been the sole breadwinners sending money home? Or will that come out of any public compensation due, following determination of blame?

According to the BBC, the Guardian reports, less than £800,000 of the £20m donated has been disbursed in the past five weeks. Clearly not enough is being done. But, as the BogPo recognises after many years of reading these reports, typically it never is. Squabbles over charity donations after such tragedies can go on for years. There needs to be a public administrator to hold all such donations in trust for the survivors, with a remit to waste no time getting them the help they deserve.

We need a public policy, Parliament please note. Remove your fascinated attention from the approaching nightmare of Brexit and your limited prospects for succeeding Theresa May and pay some attention please to what is going on now, in the country.

“We knew there was an inherent danger in the media turning the Grenfell fire into a casus belli for social change before the smoke had cleared. It wasn’t an issue for discussion, it was a fire…”

Reputational damage

Further to which, on 03 July the BogPo published a follow-up Post, expressing concern that unless the survivors began to show a bit more gratitude for the help they’ve already been given, a massive outpouring of community generosity and column-acres devoted to their disadvantageous social situation, seemingly abandoned in the midst of ‘the richest Borough in the country’, they might soon incur a backlash from the tabloid press and the public.

Hundreds of thousands of families in Britain face similarly challenging conditions as regards housing and the ability to properly feed their children. They may not have had to flee their homes in the night with nothing in the world but a pair of pyjamas, but their problems are not dissimilar – and they’re not being offered warm refuges, new homes, free clothing, hot meals and large amounts of cash in compensation. If they were being offered new homes, I somehow doubt they’d be turning their noses up at them.

What the BogPo feared has already begun.

A typical comment (of the politer kind – many are of the opinion that immigrants deserve to be burned to death) comes from ‘Audrey’ on Politico: “If these people were happy to live anywhere that would be fine. But to pick and choose is not right. I lived in a caravan because I couldn’t pick where I wanted. Its alright for some.”

The mainly leftwing commentators who have argued from a position of liberal embarrassment that the survivors’ condition is unique, their case more deserving, praising them for their fortitude in organizing against the forces of bureaucratic inertia, are caught in a trap of their own making. They refuse to  understand the ‘burning’ sense of injustice felt by many citizens who are equally hard done-by but are getting nothing – as they see it – in return. It’s a serious attitude problem, playing into the ‘immigrants always get special treatment’ meme encouraged by the corporatist tabloid media and rightwing websites, whose loathsome bottom-feeding editors are happy to push the immigration button at every opportunity. Nonetheless it is an attitude of which the broadsheet writers must be aware, especially after Brexit.

It’s not helpful of the metropolitan liberal elite (they do exist) to sneeringly dismiss the envy of the masses, to talk up the special nature of the problem. If indeed the low status and disempowerment of an immigrant worker does make them a special case for compassion, nobody cares. Millions of people are in the same boat economically. They may disagree on the reasons for their situation, lacking a broader perspective and insight into the underlying political conspiracy against them, but the internet has given them a medium to express their views and they are increasingly doing so in the ugliest terms.

We knew there was an inherent danger in the media turning the Grenfell fire into a casus belli for social change before the smoke had cleared. It wasn’t an issue for discussion, it was a fire in a building where lots of people died and many escaped, who have been in limbo ever since. A practical problem.

The reasons could wait.

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“The boreal forests in Siberia are burning at extraordinary rates, unheard of in at least 10,000 years. … Siberian boreal forests play a crucial role in the carbon cycle, making up nearly 10 percent of the planet’s land surface and housing more than 30 percent of the carbon on Earth.

“That means that when these forests burn, they are releasing vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere. The loss of carbon absorption in combination with the release of carbon, creates a vicious cycle that leads to more global warming and, as a result, more wildfires.” – Sciencealert.com, 30 June 2017

As our relatively puny storms in the south of England in the last two days might serve to remind us, there are two main problems confronting the world at this moment in time. No, not Brexit, not Trump.

Wildfires, and floods: a choice of endings

The BogPo turns a dispirited eye every few days on wildfires and floods all around the planet, so you don’t have to.

The world is burning. Where it’s not flooding. It does at least give us a choice of endings…

Actually, it’s fucking depressing sitting here for hours watching endless uncut social media footage of people being burned out of their homes in drought-hit region after sizzling region, as desperate firefighters try to beat out thousand-acre conflagrations with besom brooms; while thousands more, sometimes not even that far away, as wildfires can cause storms, trudge chest-deep through filthy water towards government refuges on higher ground, watching their cars float away, indicators forlornly flashing, on the turbid brown tide.

God knows what it’s doing to agriculture, if we shall have enough food come the autumn. It’s like watching the end of the world. Oh….

You can catch up with previous issues where many more disasters are listed, but here’s today’s crop from the last six days:

 

  • State of emergency declared as ‘1-in-200-year’ floods inundate New Zealand’s South Island (22 July).
  • 100 sq miles of Mariposa County near the Yosemite National Park is ablaze. Thousands evacuated from town of Mariposa. Cal. Gov. Brown declares state of emergency. Dry heatwave (10% humidity) continues into fourth week over California and parts of western USA, elsewhere in US severe storms are causing flooding.
  • Ten drowned, incl. two children, in flash flood while swimming in a river gulch in Arizona. Large areas of the state affected by floods as well as heatwave.
  • Major new floods ‘unprecedented’ following storms in Maryland, USA, around Baltimore, and into Washington DC.
  • 150 fires still burning around Williams Lake, British Columbia; reptd. joining up to form larger ones. 40,ooo people evacuated.
  • CO2 level measured over BC: 743 ppm.
  • Croatia is an inferno after weeks of dry heat. City of Split menaced by huge fires. Vast areas burned out.
  • Violent storm, heavy rainfall with large hailstones floods parts of Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Flash flood inundates the town of Halkidiki, in Greece.
  • Villagers evacuated on Corsica due to wildfires. Fires still burning on Sicily.
  • 70 MILLION people now affected by flooding across northern India, seeking refuge. 100-plus drowned or buried in mud. Six die in flash floods in Kashmir.
  • Still vast areas of Hunan, Sichuan and other Chinese provinces, cities underwater. ‘Torrential rainstorms’ hit Shangxi city. 1 in. (32.5 mm) rain falls in 1/2 hour.
  • Violent thunderstorm, high winds, large hailstones batter, flood parts of Tokyo, Japan. Heatwave advisories across S Korea.
  • Widespread flooding in Timor, Indonesia.
  • Wildfires in Khazakhstan – and in Mongolia, where CO2 level measured at 873 ppm. Torrential rainstorm, hurricane-force winds, large hailstones batter, flood Kirov, Russia.
  • Hong Kong, major flooding from Tropical Storm Talas. 70 mm (2.7 in.) rain falls in less than 1 hr.
  • UK villagers and tourists evacuated as more storms hit across Cornwall and the south of England. 7 in. rain in three hours.
  • Oh, and we missed a storm with large hailstones and flooding that hit Beijing on 08/9 July, 1 dead.
  • Nearly 700 wildfires in Europe, EU area, so far  = 3 times the annual average since 2008. 70% crop damage in Spain, Italy.
  • These wildfires remember are venting huge volumes of carbon and other g/h gases into the atmosphere.
  • Parochial reporting on an event-by-event basis ignores that floods and wildfires are a unified, worldwide problem.
  • STILL PEOPLE WILL NOT ABANDON THEIR CARS!

(Climate and Extreme Weather News #45, 46. Arctic News/Floodlist)

Non weather-related disaster news, 21 July the earthquake swarm at Yellowstone is now in its 40th day. Almost 1500 quakes recorded to date – many not. Quakes getting shallower may indicate magma rising.

He’s annoying, obsessive, but there’s a rogue geologist who forecasts earthquakes online. His record is extraordinary, although the official surveys like the USGS have tried to get him shut down. If people knew about ‘Dutchsinse’, they might not have gone on holiday to the Greek islands – a predicted M6.7 earthquake struck the Turkish coast last night, 2 dead, over 1oo injured on Kos. Look for more activity in Italy. His 19 July forecast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCOYb_Q1xNQ. Global seismic activity is at a very high level currently.

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See Bawbees

Christ, no wonder the BBC can’t prise their tiresome ‘star’ presenter John Humphrys and other dead white males out with a crowbar.

When I worked for the BBC, I was paid about £4,000 a year on monthly contract as a bulletin writer, news presenter, continuity announcer and producer of creative programme trails on a regional breakfast show in London. That was in the 1970s. I too know what an awful life it is, stumbling out of bed at 4 am to be picked up in a chauffeur-driven Jaguar and conveyed bleary-eyed and crapulous to the studio to open up transmissions with a cheery 10-minute news broadcast at six. I do sympathise, but.

I seem to recall, there was a compulsory retirement age at the time, of 60.

Mr Humphrys is a hale and hearty 73.

Older than the BBC, and still at it – the legendary Nicholas Parsons, worth $12m.

That of course pales in comparison with the remarkable Nicholas Parsons, eternal juvenile comedy gameshow host of ‘Just a Minute!’, who is – I could look it up – 94? It’s all in the genes, as I’m sure he would say. I met him once, years ago at a charity cricket match my dad was playing in. Born three years before the BBC came into existence, his personal net worth is given as $12 million, I see – enough to keep anyone alive.

For reasons best known to himself, probably to do with the BBC’s usual craven fear of the ever-moaning Tory right and the demon Murdoch, Director-General ‘Lord’ Tony Hall has chosen to post the salaries of his top 96 best-paid entertainers and presenters, making them targets of public envy and opprobrium – not to say rape and death threats.

Personally, I don’t give a fuck if they want to pay Chris Evans £2.2 million a year for a couple of hours a day, I’m sure he’s probably worth it just to keep the Terry Wogan memorial crowd fuming.

I do however quibble with autocue-readers on a quarter of a million pounds a year. “I can do that”, as someone used to say in a BBC drama series. “Gizza job!”.

Humphrys appears to be being paid £650 thousand a year. Well-more than three times as much as the Prime Minister, and five times what any of the stock politicians legally earn, of whom, it is said, he holds their ‘feet to the fire’ as the legendary Torquemada of the Today show.

I wonder how they will respond to him interviewing them now?

He is but one of a team of five (do we count Noughtie?) who alternate in pairs as presenters of the Radio 4 flagship Today programme. Without consulting the list, I seriously doubt that the two women on the show, the strike-breaking scab Sarah Montague (aka Lady Brooke) and Mishal Husein, who trans-medializes as a TV news anchor, earn even a third of what Mr Humphrys does; although he also fronts the popular and long-running quiz show, Mastermind, and is sent off on occasional junketing ‘special’ reports.

My beef with Mr Humphrys, for what it’s worth, which in my case appears to be fuck-all, is that he is a tendentious Welsh humbug, born with a soapbox in his mouth. No interviewee is ever allowed to put their case, no case is granted independent veracity, until they have signed the pledge, apologised profusely for their point of view and sworn to uphold Mr Humphrys’ Presbyterian values, to join him on the moral high-ground.

Furthermore, as a journalist he is an inveterate getter-holder of the wrong ends of sticks. He will bang on at interviewees for many wasted precious minutes trying to extract some irrelevant detail or confession his researchers have told him is the point of the story, or that he has personally decided is the nub of the matter, when it isn’t, and then abandon the attempt, leaving listeners none the wiser.

He is awful. Tiresome; a bed-blocker. And at his age he doesn’t need £600 thousand a year. At 67 I live perfectly well on £14k. That, by the way, will be the tip of the iceberg: personal appearances, book royalties, ‘corporates’ and endorsements will push his earnings well past the £1 million mark. It’s past time he retired to his farm, see to the sheep.

I was probably pretty useless as a broadcaster, as I was at being a farmer, and in 1975 in youthful pursuit of creative opportunity and autonomy I committed the unpardonable sin of leaving the staid old BBC to go and work in a senior, more exciting role in the commercial sector, and it didn’t pan out. I was never allowed back again.

So yes, John, this is sour grapes. They make the best wine.

(Dawn, and the women of the BBC are on the march. Tense confrontations have followed the discovery that they are paid virtually nothing – well, just a few hundred thousand pounds – compared with the middle-aged white chaps trousering millions. Bland but quivering-inside corporation executives are roasted by Kirsty Wark on Newsnight. Licence-payers aren’t too happy either.)

Postscriptum

A casual flick down the swill-bucket list reveals that the absolute best and most deserving of the BBC News journalists, especially foreign correspondents like the veteran John Simpson, £150k, who risk their lives filing copy from the world’s worst danger zones, are paid sod-all compared with gibberish-spouting sports commentators like Lineker (£1.79 million, not including commercial income) and the pretty-boy and pretty-girl autocue jockeys and ‘unscripted’ showbiz hacks like Strictly’s Claudia Winkelman (£450k a year).

It goes to show the BBC’s sense of priorities.

 

Helpful hints #1: Complain to the BBC

When complaining to the BBC, before keying Submit make sure you highlight the text of your complaint, Copy, and paste it for safety somewhere else, like on a Word document. You may find submitting your text the first time causes it to disappear. Once gone, it is gone – there is no going back.

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Paranoia News

Hips that pass in the night

I went to bed in the early hours of this morning only mildly drunk, feeling everything to be in working order. Most things.

Which is why I was slightly surprised to find when I got up this morning, that my left leg would no longer bear my weight on the stairs. The hip, too, was sending shooting pains down my leg and up into my lower back.

Nor could I remember anyone’s name. In fact, some familiar names – I run through what and who I am going to write about each day while making breakfast – have only now started to come back to me, two hours and a pain-wracked dog-walk later. Being unable to recall the name of the editor of Private Eye, that you’ve known for years, is not something you can really take to the Accident and Emergency ward and expect any sympathy.

Was it a mini-stroke, or the wine – combined with these worn-out shoes I persist in wearing?

That the world had altered profoundly in the night was born out when I came to reawaken this, muh sleeping li’l laptop, only to find that someone or some thing had replaced my usual Firefox homepage – there, I remembered the word – the BBC News page, with an intruder called ‘Bing’. Firefox had been removed from the system, although the icons remain. Bing doesn’t seem to want me to get it back again.

Bing, the obvious product I now realize of a non-specific Microsoft update I foolishly agreed to before toddling up to bed, appeared to offer no solutions as to how one might get rid of it and return to one’s comfort zone. There were no tabs visible, the dropdown menu offered nothing but trivial pursuits and a forwarding address to something called Edge.

What was happening to me?

The reet scary thing was, Bing would appear whenever I clicked the Firefox icon on the task bar. It had completely taken over my digital universe. How would I get back to all my usual haunts, email and YouTube apocalypse videos – the Guardian and the Washington Post – this, muh li’l bogl? Should I call my son, many miles away and busy with his dissertation? Could I bear his scorn?

What you are seeing now, dear Spammers, Likers, Followers and Those No Longer Reading This, Muh Bogl, is a workaround. Things are far from normal. The weather, too, has turned positively frigid today, rephrase that as negatively warm and humid, as it still was last night. Strangely shaped dark-grey cumulus clouds are rising like ragged columns of smoke from behind the hills.

It feels like snow in July.

 

Brexit: a thought

It ocurred to me that if we had voted by a narrow majority to Remain, the EU would have been so grateful, we’d be in talks now about how we’re going to reform it.

Instead of staring over the edge of the White Cliffs of fucking Dover down at the Long Drop, marvelling at the wondrous complexity of life.

Fucking idiots.

The Boglington Post: Wimbledon: Enough. Who? Your filter-bubbles will not protect you. A not-unattractive moustache on the face of a woman..

Enough.

I’m watching the emotional breakdown of a fiercesomely black-bearded man of 28, 6’6″ in height, who looks like he might be losing a game of tennis barely before it has begun.

Former US Open winner, Marin Cilic is sitting on the sideline of the packed Centre Court at Wimbledon in tears, at three games and a set down after only half an hour, in the second set of the men’s final against the Swiss master, Roger Federer – at 35 an older man whom he has beaten in matches before, but who on this occasion will not allow his record eighth victory here to be denied.

You’d think seven would be enough for anyone.

Cilic is a brilliant, agile, powerful player with a deadly accurate 130 mph serve, but after two weeks of battering five-set tennis against players of his own stature in the crucible of the Centre Court he bears the entire weight of expectation of the people of Croatia, his impoverished Balkan homeland, and there is little he appears to be able to get right in this, his first Wimbledon final, against a player uplifted by his delirious corps of fans, who has run through his opponents so far without losing a set.

That Cilic will take home £1.1 million as the losing finalist means nothing compared with his national pride.

We have seen too many players recently who are being emotionally destroyed by the pressures of this demanding singles game. That includes our own darling of the Centre Court, the driven Andy Murray, who disintegrated in front of our eyes on winning his Olympic gold medal in Rio against the huge-serving Argentinian, Juan Del Potro; and dissolved again on winning last year at Wimbledon against the Canadian child-mountain, Raonic.

The half-witted commentators are at a loss to explain Cilic’s emotional state, speculating for several minutes that he must have sustained some injury.

He has. Blisters on his enormous feet, huge toes sculpted by Michelangelo, are being attended to by the tournament doctor, who seems to be more concerned about his client’s emotional state. Injury is the best explanation the pundits in their box can manage, as the honour of the game must be beyond question.

Scenting blood, on goes Federer, his almost miraculous groundstrokes bludgeoning and whipping and passing and outsmarting his wounded bear of an opponent, a giant being steadily dismembered by the Swiss’ alchemical skills. Each 3-minute average-length game he wins brings him another £122,000.

It is more than I can watch, which is why I’m writing this instead. I feel guilty being a part of it.

And now the Wimbledon crowd has swung behind the tall Croatian, urging him on. Not because they want him to win. They just want him to win a set or two so they can admire their hero a while longer. They want their money’s worth. They love an underdog.

Too much money, too many physical demands as the men’s game especially nears the margins of human endurance, too much expectation ladled over the players by an insatiable media and its complicit commentators; too much pressure, too many matches….

Federer wins in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. And now he too is dissolving in tears at the courtside, as his wife displays their beautiful blond children to the admiring crowd….

Enough.

(Presumably to rub it in, apart from the money second prize is a crappy little silver platter that looks like something off your auntie’s sideboard. First prize is a rather spiffing, 18-in high, elaborately decorated gold cup he’ll need to get insured.)

 

Who?

Immediately after the tennis the BBC runs a curiously low-budget and unimaginatively plotted 60″ trailer, revealing the ‘identity’ of the eponym who will play the part of Dr Who, at least for a one-off special next Christmas.

Horror upon horrors, the hooded figure of the 13th Imam turns round to reveal a female of the species.

Worse, I’ve never ‘eard of ‘er. It’s political correctness gone mad… Why, we’ve only just got rid of the Doctor’s black lesbian assistant, ‘Bill Potts’, and now this!

And out pour the dumbfuck Who ‘fans’ from their darkened, fetid rooms in force, intergalactic trolls with their misogynistic tweets and farts, like it’s the end of civilization as they never really knew it.

Er, guys… actually, my real GP is a woman! Worse, she’s a German woman (Sorry, I don’t do Twitter)….

Worst of all is the Daily Express, a pathetic snivel of a snotrag at the best of times, owned by a millionaire pornographer and read by 71-year-old Brexit voters, undereducated nostalgic empire-loyalists on caravanning holidays, that has published a picture of the actor Jodie Whittaker ALMOST IN THE NUDE.

The Broadchurch favourite, who is set to replace Peter Capaldi as the BBC Time Lord, left nothing to the imagination back in 2006 movie, Venus. The 35-year-old played Jessie in the comedy-drama, in which she starred alongside the likes of Peter O’Toole, Leslie Phillips and Vanessa Redgrave. Jodie bared her breasts and pert bottom in raunchy scenes as her character flashed elderly actor, Maurice Russell (O’Toole).

The ‘story’ doesn’t mention that ‘the likes of’ O’Toole, Phillips and Redgrave, immensely respected thesps, were GERIATRICS even then. And it was a COMEDY. And NOBODY REMEMBERS IT. Actors need to WORK so they can get PAID, just like the intellectual molluscs of the tabloid press, and they have to do what the DIRECTORS TELL THEM, they don’t fucking make it up as they go along, they don’t bare their ‘pert bottoms’ (only some howling cretin with a hairy arse and prolapsed piles writes shit like that) because they’re morally degenerate, like the editor of the Daily fucking Express.

These soi-disants ‘journalists’ are sick in the head. Almost as mad are the feministas from The Guardian, rushing into print to hail the first female Time Lord in the history of a patriarchal, male-dominated Universe without stopping to note that the character of ‘Missy’, brilliantly played by the barking Michelle Gomez, is also a Time Lord and the feminine avatar of The Master.

No, if I have a moan it is that Ms Whittaker does not come across as a quirky enough personality. I have no problem with a female Dr Who, or anyone anywhere else on the gender spectrum, but the character really demands an eccentric: larger-than-life, grounded in unpredictability. Not just a conventionally attractive and competent actor who has proved that she can spread herself adequately across a range of earthly roles but would not, perhaps, thrill and charm and irritate the viewer in a kickass caper across time and space.

My vote would have been for the thoughtful but flamboyant transvestite ceramicist, Grayson Perry. After Capaldi’s angst-ridden and tired old intergalactic gunslinger who has run out of magic bullets, a creative Couture Who would make a refreshing change.

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“Less than a fifth of Americans are aware that extreme hunger threatens the lives of 20 million people in Africa and the Middle East, yet the overwhelming majority regard it as the most pressing global issue once they have been told, a poll of US voters has revealed.” – The Guardian, 13 July

Your filter-bubbles will not protect you

The Pumpkin reported recently on a US poll revealing that 38% had no idea that Senator McConnell’s American Healthcare Act (AHCA) – also known as Trumpcare – is expected to remove health insurance cover from 32 million poorer Americans over the next ten years, to force premiums up to insupportable levels for those with pre-existing conditions, and to result in $800 billion defunding of the basic Medicare program that covers everyone for things like maternity and care home services.

You’d think they’d take an interest, but most seem happy to rely on Mr Trump’s assurances on the campaign trail that he will look after their interests with a ‘great big, beautiful plan, it’ll be so easy’ and that it is perfectly safe for him to tear up Barack Obama’s detestable, failing Affordable Healthcare Act because he has something much better in mind.

Middle-America votes. But where’s his healthcare now, eh? The silly old dumbfuck.

He doesn’t. There never was a plan. It was another Trump lie. And still the dumbfucks worship at his dainty, well-shod hooves.

When told about it directly, people express shock and opposition: the AHCA (it’s now got another set of initials, I lose track) has, supposedly, just a 12% approval rating. The leech-like Sen. McConnell has had to extend the Congressional term two weeks into the annual recess just to try to get it done, in the face of growing opposition even from Republican senators who have actually gotten around to reading it. Mr Trump has said he will be ‘very angry’ if it isn’t passed soon.

But then he is already very angry about everything and is said when not off playing golf to be doing little else but sit in the Oval Office, screaming abuse at the TV sets.

It is possible to draw only one conclusion from this story, that people are no longer actively interested in what happens outside of their headphones or their social media ‘filter bubbles’, that almost certainly don’t include any seriously life-threatening information they might need to know.

Which gives one little hope that they can go further, to understand that it’s the politicians they vote for who are behind these damaging actions, not the Muslims or the Mexicans, nor Volkswagen, and have an agenda that does not include the ordinary citizen; that major vested corporate interests are behind them*.

For instance, the ‘millennials’ so horrified to discover that vast numbers of people around the world are on the verge of dying for lack of food and water perhaps would also like to know that under the so-far undebated Trump budget, the US government is proposing massive funding cuts to UN relief programs in order to give tax breaks to the wealthiest 1%, but I don’t suppose it’s even crossed their self-absorbed radar.

Climate disruption is another issue that really isn’t out there among the majority of people.

A recent article in the New York Magazine by David Wallace-Wells, entitled ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’, has caused consternation and unleashed a tsunami of outraged denial about climate science, which is ironic considering the article is about just that: our desperate wish to push back against the issue of our imminent extinction as a species if we cannot break our addiction to burning fossil fuels now.

In a summary of the real scientific consensus on the effects of global warming, that we don’t normally get in mainstream media, Wallace-Wells has interviewed dozens of actual scientists to get a relatively modest overview and to write it up unemotionally in a way normal people can understand.

That would account for the torrent of scorn and opprobrium that has greeted the article from the familiar ranks of denialists, the usual suspects complaining that it is not sufficiently ‘scientific’ (irony abounds) to make its point.

Wallace-Wells explains to ordinary readers in plain English that real scientists have been too frightened of creating a panic or of just not being believed if they said how bad things are really getting, of being seen as too extreme, to tell people the unvarnished truth, that we and our innocent co-evolutes on the planet are heading for catastrophe: mass extinction within decades or maybe only a few years.

The article is being hailed as the first ever to try to bring together the various strands of thinking on the issue in order to present them to the lay reader in a popular medium; which is, of course, a bit of marketing hyperbole by the NYMag. Articles, books and YouTube videos abound on the subject. Nothing Wallace-Wells writes comes as any surprise to the Editor of this blog. The information is all out there if you care to look.

Most people don’t.

As of course is the ‘balancing’ view, in the form of articles online and in the rightwing press dependent on corporate advertising, from well funded denialists saying it’s all a big fuss about nothing. It’s marketable contrarianism, dangerously so.

For it appears from the huge response the story has been getting that the mass of ordinary people really have no idea of how serious the situation is; of how many of the natural systems we rely on are already at the point of collapse. Although it is probably obvious to the millions affected by annual droughts and flooding on an unprecedented scale.

The Boglington Post has been reporting the story for some time now, that a growing number of scientists are warning we are passing irreversible ‘tipping points’ in self-reinforcing feedbacks that could create more abrupt disruption to world weather patterns than was previously expected. The release of a possible 1.6 Gt of stored Arctic methane from melting permafrost is but one feedback among many. The signs are all there: a second successive year of record floods and droughts all around the globe, of polluting NOx and ozone smogs, is surely visible to all but the most obdurate denialists.

Wallace-Wells writes, too, that food production will be severely disrupted by increasing droughts alternating with more severe floods and more powerful storms. Well, there go your 20 million Africans. It’s not just about rising sea levels or any single event, a 200 kph hurricane here, fifty tornadoes in one wild Georgia weekend there, but a combination of events. Increasing wave heights because of stronger winds, for instance, are helping to break-up the Arctic sea ice faster. More blue water absorbs more heat, increasing transpiration.

It ought to be snowing in the Arctic now – in actual fact, it’s raining. Warmer seas make for a wetter climate, leading to heavier rainfall and more powerful storms. The normally reliable jetstreams have broken down, allowing anomalous weather conditions to develop anywhere. Thus, last winter we had snow in the Libyan Sahara.

And from Svalbard, Norway’s northernmost permanently inhabited settlement:

“The average temperature for the year was minus 0.1 degrees Celsius, or 6.5 degrees Celsius above normal, according to Bernt Lie, a weather statistician…. In addition, a record 310 millimeters of precipitation fell during the year, 63.2 percent more than normal and soundly topping the previous record of 267.9 millimeters in 2012.

“In July, October and November there was record heat,” he wrote. Temperatures at Svalbard Airport in December were 7.4 degrees Celsius above normal, the 73rd straight month of above average temperatures… Lie, in his summary of Longyearbyen’s weather statistics for 2016, called the trend here a “frightening development.” – Icepeople.net

Even so, the Icepeople website editor headlined the story as if nothing was amiss: “Frighteningly ordinary: Record high temperatures in 2016 nothing new for Longyearbyen or Earth.”

What would you think is meant by the word “record”? Oh, it’s been another boring old record every year for the past six years…. Nothing new, then. That Inuit sense of humor.

This year, extreme temperatures in many countries combined with increasing humidity have brought it home that human physiology cannot cope beyond a certain point, and that point is being reached more often and earlier every year. In Pakistan, in Iran, in Kuwait and California the mercury has topped 120 deg. F. , and it’s not yet the height of summer. The human body cannot cool itself through sweating at those temperatures, with 96% humidity. Your skin chokes you to death.

People are undoubtedly dying. A 100-deg. plus (42 C.) heatwave is in its third week in the south-western United States at the time of writing, floods are devastating large parts of Asia (2’6″ of rain fell on Japan’s Kyushu island in just nine hours last week) and many barely controllable wildfires are contributing to the CO2 burden in the atmosphere; more so in fact than our industrial emissions, which thanks to controls and an economic slowdown have not increased in the last three years. (Worryingly, the global economy is picking up again.)

Whatever the professional denialists in the pay of the energy industries will try to tell you, this is not normal!

The standfirst to this piece, for instance, indicates that climate change is almost certainly worsening the food supply problem for those 20 million Africans and people of the Arabian peninsula. Many of them have or will become climate refugees and die in the desert or drown in the Mediterranean.

Those of us lucky enough to live in more temperate latitudes have no way of coping with the scale of the human tragedy that is unfolding in the equatorial regions, other than through denial.

But this shit is coming for us all, so you’d better look it up and be ready.

Your filter-bubbles will not protect you!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html

*An article by George Monbiot in today’s Guardian investigates a new book by Nancy McClean: Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. The plot by alt-right billionaires to overthrow democracy was first laid out by a Nobel prizewinning economist and crazed free-market advocate, James McGill Buchanan, in the 1960s. Everything he recommended is now happening, Monbiot realizes, with a shock of recognition – and not only in the USA.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/19/despot-disguise-democracy-james-mcgill-buchanan-totalitarian-capitalism

x

Granny Weatherwax, 15 July:

  • Canada: number of wildfires in Williams Lake area of British Ciolumbia ‘drops below 200’ but more hot windy weather is forecast. Considerable devastation has been caused, small towns entirely destroyed. Evacuation centres for 14,000 opened across the state.
  • Arctic: temperatures recorded at two locations on 11 July over Canada’s Mackenzie River, one of 32.6°C or 90.8°F at the mouth of the river and another one of 34.7°C or 94.5°F further inland. Surface temperature of water pushed up by increasing windspeeds through the Bering Strait into the Arctic ocean recorded at 10C, 50F. Little sea ice left, being pounded by rain.
  • 65 major wildfires burning across 11 US states. California worst hit: many homes burned, residents evacuated in Santa Barbara. Wildfires in Nevada caused CO2 to reach concentration levels as high as 742 ppm on July 12.
  • Huge storms bring flash flooding and record river rise to the eastern USA – state of emergency declared in Wisconsin. New York State, DC, New Jersey, Massachusetts affected. More forecast. 14 July, major storm in west, parts of Arizona under water.
  • Ciudad Juarez, Mexico – 15 July, city underwater.
  • Major flooding continues to affect very large area of NE India. Up to 40 million ‘marooned’, 85 dead, 1.7m evacuated in Assam. Refugee camps being set up. Still raining – heavy storms over Arunachal, 4 dead in Gujarat. 650,000 affected in Bangladesh.
  • Flash floods and landslides in Tibet – buildings washed away, many evacuated. 42 deg. C.-plus heatwave across China following weeks of flooding (93 cm more rain falls on Hunan province in the week). 16 July, 36 dead in devastating floods in Jilin city. A violent thunderstorm batters the city of Chengdu, Sichuan. Much damage.
  • Typhoon Talas is heading for Taiwan at 12 mph. after pounding N Vietnam. 42 deg. C. heatwave in S Korea turns to deadly flooding. Cheongju city, s. of Seoul, underwater.
  • Many wildfires reported in Khazakhstan. Satellite records CO2 at 747 ppm. Temperature of 53.1°C or 127.5°F in Iran for July 11.
  • Severe flooding in the Irkutsk region of Siberia after ‘endless rain’ has stranded airline passengers. Scientists warning, trans-Siberian pipeline projects could be affected by explosive methane eruptions.
  • Damaging flash floods hit Oman, Trucial States, after days of heavy rainfall in the mountains..
  • Storm floods Paris metro. S France, Spain continue to experience record heatwave. Greek tourist sites, Acropolis closed due to extreme heat, humidity.
  • Italy: wildfires ravage slopes of Mt Vesuvius, Naples; 1,ooo tourists evacuated from wildfires in Sicily, many properties destroyed. While in Calabria, Sicily – deadly ‘rain bomb’ floods the town.
  • Portugal, Alejo, more raging wildfires. Crops devastated across S Europe. Wildfires in Croatia, 34 fires reported around the capital of neighbouring Montenegro.
  • Storms flood parts of Lagos, Nigeria. 20 dead in Niger State. 40 deg. C.-plus heatwave threatening harvest in Egypt: ‘worse year on year’.
  • Coverack, Cornwall, Britain. 18 July. Flash flood follows torrential rain, hail breaks windows, sea surge cuts off road access.
  • An overnight snowstorm has hit Santiago, Chile, for the first time since 1970. A change from recent floods and wildfires.
  • Latest research shows global CO2 ‘equivalent’ – ie overall atmospheric greenhouse gas content including methane (CH4), CO, CO2, SO2, NOx – has reached 490 ppm.

(Climate and Extreme Weather News #42/Floodlist/Arctic News/Wildfire Today/Siberian Times)

Most extraordinary, is to observe from the camphone footage from around the world how people are prepared to take absurd risks driving through rising floodwaters and wildfires.

What climate change?

 

Sports News

A not unattractive moustache

I learn just now that Venus Williams is 6’1″. I am in love. She is such a sweetheart, and at 37 the perfect age. There is of course her opponent in the Wimbledon Ladies final, the aristocratic-looking Garbine Muguruza (6’0″, 23), a lovely creation for whom the word ‘lissom’ was surely invented.

If Muguruza wins, it will be because of her sense of style. She has been wearing Stella McCartney, our leading British designer and daughter of the Beatle. Everyone else is in Nike, or Adidas – or, as in Williams’ case, her family’s own-brand. Peasants.

Yet despite her perfect shoulders (I’m a bit of a shoulders man), the heavily strapped-up leg is not such a good look. This year, our leading players all appear stricken. Murray, Nadal, Djokovitch and many more have limped out in the second set or finished as losers, broken and bowed, owing to accumulated injuries. Many are match-rusty after months out of work, undergoing operations and retraining. Some should frankly not have turned up just to collect their first-round losers’ appearance fees, which are not ungenerous, bilking the crowd.

Commentators have suggested it might be due to their top-heavy match schedule. The winners of the Wimbledon finals each stand to go home with cheques for £2.2 million. My suggestion, for what it is worth, is that there is too much money in the game and that if even the top players are forced to compete week-in, week-out all over the world, even in minor suburban tournaments to maintain their ranklings and seedlings, the organizers of the flying circus might fairly be accused of greed.

The majestic progress of the greatest master of the game, ever, Roger Federer, stands out all too clearly when you consider his age, 34. He has simply swept past his younger opponents with magisterial grace and good temper. Not to mention his breathtaking skill. Miss Williams, too, at 37 to be in the final (she’s currently winning – sorry, no, she’s losing), is a wonderful example of how to be an entirely normal, yet supernaturally gifted human being.

Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Glaxy) and John Lloyd (Blackadder) wrote a silly book years ago, taking odd-sounding but real place names as the basis of funny dictionary definitions. Scrabster is a hardscrabble fishing port on the unforgiving east coast of Scotland, from whence come the finest kippers (smoked herring). It is also: ‘A not unattractive moustache on the face of a woman’.

The Spaniard, Muguruza is definitely a qualifier. And some woman! You knew she had her semifinal opponent Simona Halep beaten, when in the last two games the diminutive but fast and powerful forest-dwelling Romanian stopped making that hideous shrieking noise with which she propels the furry projectile at 90 mph towards the far baseline; and refused to play the last service return.

But the thing with true tennis champions is, one minute they’re 4-3 down in the fourth set, gasping for air and making desperate appeals to their box to send them more drugs – then before the kettle’s boiled, they’re 5-4 up with two match points in hand and serving for the £2 million cheque. It’s quite magical. Bewildering, how they do that.

Having never won anything, I’m fully qualified to remark on life’s mystery.

 

PS: ‘@StellaMcCartney’ wins, 7-6, 6-0. I feel so sorry for Williams, she is a complete sweetie who has lived under the shadow of her little sister Serena, the most successful women’s singles player of all time (some might argue for Navratilova or Court), who is off on baby-leave, yet she has won seven Grand Slam titles in her own right. At 37, this might well have been her last crack at Wimbers. Boo.

 

For the benefit of Mr High-as-a-Kite

Speaking humorously as I was there of drugs, there is a quite astonishing story in the Sport section of today’s Guardian – or is it the companion Sunday Observer? the website’s the same. It concerns a film that has been made about the ‘Russian doping master’, Grigory Rodchenkov, now in an FBI witness protection program after others considering blowing the whistle on a performance enhancement campaign apparently conceived by Mr Putin before the Sochi Olympics suffered unexpectedly massive heart attacks.

As head of the Russian equivalent, Mr Rodchenkov was trustingly shown around the UK’s anti-doping facilities before the 2012 London Olympics, and so worked out a way of cheating the system. He also devised the great wheeze of drilling a hole secretly under a table in the floor of the lab hut, disguised as a power socket, and passing clean urine samples through to an accomplice on the inside, making this the most wonderful story of opportunistic ingenuity since those RAF officers escaped from Colditz.

It’s a long and fascinating tale, which I recommend to anyone who wants to be educated in the workings of Mr Putin’s and the greater Russian mindset, especially in the light of the efforts to tamper with last year’s (and next year’s) US election. There’s too much to plagiarise for this article, so go to:

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/15/russian-doping-programme-olympics-london-2012-sochi-2014?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=235195&subid=19570602&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

Pip pip!

UB