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 (Rumor has it, he’s already rescinded the offer.)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

 

 

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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.

x

“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

The Pumpkin – Issue 25. As we discover President Trump encouraged Saudi Arabia to go to the brink of war with Qatar for refusing Jared Kushner a $500 million bailout over a failed property investment, we learn too that the Russian lawyer who dished the dirt on Hillary Clinton is not quite what she seemed…

As we discover President Trump encouraged Saudi Arabia to go to the brink of war with Qatar for refusing Jared Kushner a $500 million bailout over a failed property investment, we learn too that the Russian lawyer who dished the dirt on Hillary Clinton is not quite what she seemed…

 

“As long as senior republicans in both houses of Congress can keep up the pretence that each successive story that emerges is somehow not connected to any other and that ‘collusion’ with a foreign power to rig an election is not technically a crime, the likelihood of impeachment remains remote.”

Perhaps she was on a shopping trip?

Mr Trump has firmly and publicly stated, both as candidate and as president, on many occasions that he has no business connections with Russia.

Yet here is Mr Emin Agalerov, 37, pop-singer son of a Moscow property developer with whom Trump had a business connection, interviewed in the Washington Post in April 2016:

 “I consider him a friend. We exchange correspondence. We see each other a few times a year.”

This declaration sits alongside the admission by Trump’s middle son, Eric, in 2014 that, according to golf writer James Dodson, “We have all the funding we need out of Russia” to pay for the president’s $100 million golf resort developments.

It seems the Trump boys are keen to sabotage their father’s presidency, if not to see him in jail.

The latest furore among so many to choose from concerns a meeting oldest (but not wisest) son Donald Trump Jr had in June of last year with a Russian lawyer in New York. You’ve probably heard the substance of the story, but there is an interesting timeline attached, that makes it too complicated a story for the British mainstream media to fully explore.

Allow the Pumpkin!

First, know there is a pattern to stories of Trump campaign contacts with Russians. This meeting among many others involving members of the Trump campaign and his family was never registered anywhere, even when matters of security clearance were legally pressing, and has been consistently denied up to the point where it could no longer be concealed.

Following the initial revelations, defence lawyers have been engaged, hasty retrospective legally-required declarations have been made months after the event, and a series of fast-changing statements and explanations have followed, many of them patently contradictory and absurd. Such as, that Trump Jr ‘did not know’ in advance who the Russian lawyer was or what she wanted to talk about.

In which case, why accept the invitation to go to the meeting without either wanting to know more, or – alarm bells ringing – contacting the FBI? In any case, it was made quite clear in emails released by Trump what the meeting was for, that he now admits.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, it’s said, was not a Russian government official. Except that she has represented government ministers in court and is married to one. An unofficial channel, then. Why on earth would she have bothered – and been granted a visa – to fly to New York, just to chat with a junior member of the Trump family for ‘twenty minutes’?

Perhaps she was on a shopping trip?

Well, because of the Magnitsky Law. She wanted a deal whereby, if Trump Sr were elected, he would revoke the Obama administration’s embarrassing law preventing US citizens from adopting Russian babies: part of the regime of sanctions, directly related to the death in prison of human rights lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky – a noted opponent of Putin and an anti-corruption campaigner, who plainly had knowledge of Putin’s extensive network of shady business dealings and had to be silenced.

I’ll repeat the question, then. Why on earth would she have bothered – or been granted a visa – to fly to New York, just to talk to a junior member of the Trump family, if she was not acting on behalf of the Russian government? Well, some reports suggest she was in New York anyway to observe or take part in, an inchoate legal battle involving three Russian oligarchs all accusing one another of owing huge sums of money as a result of a drunken bet in a London club.

Oh, well. It was only a 20-minutes meeting, she was ‘vague and rambling’ (a top government lawyer? Come on, Donny, you can do better than that! Maybe it was jetlag?) and didn’t say anything useful so we made our excuses and left.

We, being Donny Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, who were all at the meeting together. What were those others doing there, if Donald didn’t know what the meeting was going to be about. Bodyguards?

And then someone, I know not who, some Congressional committee chair, demanded to see the RSVP in the form of emails sent to Trump by the sleaziest-looking, cheapest and least likely go-between it would be possible to conceive of, one Rob Goldstone: a grimy, overweight British former tabloid newspaper hack turned ‘music promoter and friend’ of Agalerov, a low-grade pop star in Russia whose video Goldstone helped to put together.

It makes Watergate look positively dignified.

This Goldstone, it seems, was selected by the Agalerovs as the US end of the connection, owing to his involvement with Trump’s tacky Miss Universe party in Moscow in 2013, after which Trump tweeted excitedly that he had ‘met all the oligarchs’ (he is really only 11 years old). And in his naive enthusiasm, that could come back to bite the prosecution if this ever gets to court, Goldstone boasted excitedly if a tad unwisely in his emails about Veselnitskaya bringing useful dirt on Hillary Clinton, ‘highly classified’, ‘Russian government’ information, and in HIS naive enthusiasm Donny Jr emailed back that he ‘loved it’.

So the correspondence is there for all the world to see, that Trump campaigners had no scruples whatever about treating with an inimical foreign power to obtain electoral advantage, although up to that point it is unlikely they were aware, as the Obama administration was aware, that the Russians were already poking about in the internet files of the Democratic party; and the only legal evidence that the Russian government was involved is that enthusiastic claim by a fourth-rate British pop music promoter. So sad.

Sadly too, the worst the trio can jointly be accused of is conspiracy to commit computer fraud – encouraging hacking. Rigging elections is not illegal – for Republicans it’s a sacred duty. But Kushner’s personal situation is more serious. He has an official government position. He could be looking at five years in jail for failing to disclose the meeting – one of any number of Russian and other foreig meetings he failed to disclose – on his application for top-level security clearance.

Curious timeline

A few hours after the meeting took place, at which nothing at all interesting was imparted to Team Trump, Donald Trump Sr got into one of his childish tweeting spats with Hillary Clinton. “Where are the 33 thousand emails you deleted?” he asked, triumphantly. The interesting thing being that up to that moment, Mr Trump had almost certainly not known either that Mrs Clinton had deleted any emails, or that there were 33 thousand of them.

The next thing I suppose was significant was that, eleven days later, Trump fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and appointed Paul Manafort in his place.

Manafort, according to the New York Times, had been under scrutiny by the FBI since 2014 over his highly questionable dealings with the deposed Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovitch, a profoundly corrupt Putin crony who fled the republic at the height of what had started as one of those peaceful ‘velvet revolutions’ over his backtracking on a deal with the EU and is now holed up in Moscow.

Mr Manafort was said to have featured more than once on the long list of names of directors of obscure offshore shell companies set up through the secretive law firm, Mossack-Fonseca: the leaked, so-called Panama Papers. Tentative connections were being drawn between the $17.9 million in ‘consultancy’ fees he is said to have received from ‘a Ukrainian political party’ and the $37 billion Mr Yanukovitch is said to have looted from state coffers before he fled in a convoy of cars organised for him by the Russians, which had to be parked somewhere. There seems to have been a bit more to Mr Manafort’s services than just PR ‘election advice’, and any number of federal statutes might be invoked.

Following the appointment of Manafort, Mr Trump noticeably reversed his campaigning rhetoric on the subject of Russian military interference in Eastern Ukraine; replacing without notice passages in a speech he had been given to spout by the Republican campaign organizers supporting US arms sales to the government in Kiev. They were now off the agenda.

Then, two weeks after the meeting an elderly party ‘fixer’, Peter Smith, started trying to recruit some figures on the so-called ‘alt-right’, computer experts – one of whom is said to be a Russian speaker – to mount a search for the missing Clinton emails. The aim was to trace the hackers connected with Russian military intelligence, including the infamous ‘Guccifer 2’, who were believed to have stolen them.

Interviewed for the Wall Street Journal shortly before his death – from natural causes – Smith overnamed his connections with the Trump campaign’s attempts to find the supposedly incriminating emails. Among them were General Mike Flynn, to whom he was to report on progress; former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and campaign chairman Sam Clovis, the Journal reported.

Later naming his Transition Team, Trump would make Flynn his National Security Advisor, despite numerous red-flag warnings that Flynn was under investigation for possible breaches of the Foreign Powers Act and susceptible to Russian blackmail; Bannon his Chief Strategy Advisor, Conway his frankly disastrous Communications Director and Clovis Secretary for Agriculture, in which position Fat Sam – formerly a right-wing radio ‘shock-jock’ – lobbies enthusiastically for the agrichemical poisons industry.

Manafort was fired in August after only two months when his Ukrainian connections became public knowledge and has since, as they say, been ‘helping with enquiries’ at FBI headquarters.

But will he go?

As the Russiagate revelations have burst, one by one, in almost nightly exposés in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal – all the best Fake News media – picked up and amplified by TV news channels like ABC, CNN and NBC, virtually every senior member of the Trump administration and his nepotistic family appointees, as well as Donald Jr, has ‘lawyered up’, in the telling phrase. Why, are they expecting something of a legal nature to eventuate? Something they can’t admit to?

There is clearly more to come out. These and many other matters are under investigation by the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller 111. As long as senior Republicans in both houses of Congress can keep up the pretence that each successive story that emerges is somehow not connected to any other and that ‘collusion’ with a foreign power to rig an election is not technically a crime, or that somehow Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were the real conspirators, the likelihood of impeachment remains remote, despite the damage this is doing to their re-election prospects. They still imagine it is containable.

Their complacency is to ignore the depth and complexity of the Russian attack. While not ignoring that the Russians have been attempting to undermine Western democratic institutions in the same way for decades, what’s new here is that they appear to have found willing partners, suppliers and co-conspirators in the USA. What effect did that have on the election result? (It’s too late to declare it null and void, so given the President’s powers of pardon and his ability to fire the Special Prosecutor should he wish to take that risk, nothing more can be done.)

It’s not only a question of Hillary’s emails – who hacked them, and what did they do with the information – which we know, they passed it on to WikiLeaks to dump on the open market. The emails were a by-product of attempts to obtain information advantageous to the Trump campaign through hacking attacks by Soviet military intelligence, the GRU’s special cyber unit. But there were also phishing attacks on the voting registration technology and voter rolls, designed to find weak links to disrupt the election itself; and to have strategies in place for the 2018 mid-terms.

Indeed, obtaining the most detailed personal records available of all 205 million voters registered in the USA seems to have been, and continues to be, a central policy ambition – the Holy Grail – of the Republican party, which has become notorious for its attempts to gerrymander constituencies by manipulating or suppressing voter rolls: striking off Democrat supporters, mainly black and Latino voters, disqualifying them by such basic tactics as not counting people having similar names ‘in case’ they are duplicates.

Such confidential data would also be commercially valuable, immensely so, and play a key part in any possible action against the Muslim minority, self-identified through registration forms which demand to know the religious affiliations of voters. A database of all the Mulsims in America could quickly be compiled, were 44 States’ governors not holding out against demands from the White House to release the supposedly confidential lists.

So far, admittedly, it has not been shown that Trump Sr was connected directly with the antics of his campaign managers and members of his own family. He has denied knowing about the Veselnitskaya meeting, although he was in the building at the time; while Donald Jr is sticking to his story that nothing came of it so he didn’t tell anyone about it. Why not? “Hey, Dad, I just met with a hot Russian lawyer in the office down the hall from yours in Trump Tower, I gave her a nine, you’d have liked her!”?

Why wouldn’t he have said something like that, a person obviously of such low-grade intellect?

The bigger picture

It should perhaps therefore be mentioned that the ‘Russia thing’ is far from the only game in town. Trump is also facing dozens of private law suits, some relating to the notorious Trump University scandal, some to his property businesses and others to his forcing Twitter to take down litigants’ accounts because of their tweeting criticisms of him.

The FBI, the CIA, the Special Prosecutor and at least two Senate committees, plus two specialist financial Grand Juries in the states of East Virginia and New York are involved in investigating his past and current business dealings, under suspicion of active co-operation with international money-laundering operations, possible sanctions-busting and connections to organized crime.

Then there are:

  • possible breaches of the Foreign Emoluments Act in that he continues to receive profits from his ownership of overseas hotels and golf resort businesses, from which he has refused to divest himself or where his family remains in charge;
  • his reported abuses of charity tax exemptions through the use of Trump Foundation money for his own purposes;
  • attempts to get hold of his tax records, which uniquely among senior political appointments he is hanging on to for grim death;
  • and the matter of whether or not he attempted to pervert the course of justice.

This last in connection with accusations that he tried to pressure the heads of the intelligence agencies – culminating in the firing of FBI director James Comey, since when terrified security agency directors Dan Coats and Admiral Mike Rogers have refused even under oath to answer questions about whether or not he also leaned on them – to drop their investigations into the aforementioned matters, but also:

  • General Flynn’s belatedly declared foreign agenting activities on behalf of Russia and Turkey;
  • Jared Kushner’s financial dealings with Russian and Chinese banks (and Qatar, see below);
  • Kushner’s and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ undeclared meetings with Russian spymaster, Ambassador Kysliak

…and so on it goes.

There is so clearly something Trump has been directing his staff and family to say nothing about, or to perjure themselves; something he is willing to commit lesser offences to avoid coming out; something really serious that concerns him alone.

At the end of the day, is he prepared to throw all of these oddballs under the bus to protect his secrets, someone – even the son-in-law on whom he dotes almost as much as on his daughter, Ivanka?

As court reporters used to say, the case continues.

 

“…as your premiums continue to rise inexorably in all sectors from domestic… to pet insurance, you’ll know why”

Maybe it’s time to call in their loans?

The US Department of Justice and the Federal Housing Agency are doing very nicely thank you out of levying staggering fines on foreign banks for various misdemeanours committed on or before 2007/8 when the global banking crisis hit.

But it’s not the banks that ultimately pay for their mistakes. You and I are considerably out of pocket as a result, and liable to go on being so, while the unravelling Tory government continues to protest with increasing lack of sincerity that continuing austerity is all the fault of Labour’s ‘mismanagement’ of the economy – that Labour hasn’t been responsible for since before May 2010. It’s a stock meme, but the voting public falls for it every time.

Questions do, however, remain to be asked about Gordon Brown and Mervyn King’s strategy of bailing out the banks without placing too many restrictions on their future conduct, other than obliging them to sit on a bit more of our money and not gamble it away too riskily. And, indeed, those restrictions, based on the so-called ‘stress tests’, came not from Threadneedle Street but from the EU, to loud objections from the striped shirts and braces community.

The Pumpkin is wondering, for instance, if the Government and the Bank of England knew how much liability for the crash was going to be borne by Royal Bank of Scotland, RBS, when the British taxpayer was being forced to stump up £45 billion to buy its 71% stake in the failing bank, money it has never recovered?

The DoJ has just fined RBS $5.5 billion (£4.25bn) for its role in bundling-up a pile of sub-prime residential mortgages (RMBS), dishonestly peddled mainly to aspirant low-income African-Americans in the US’s rustbelt cities, many of whom have since been repossessed by billionaire property speculators like the Kushners, and selling them on to the absurdly-named Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae building societies, giant entities of social engineering that came unglued as a result.

RBS remains a loss-maker, having failed to declare a profit in any of the past ten years. But the good news is, it expects to have to pay a further eyewatering penalty. According to The Guardian:

The Edinburgh-based bank is facing another punishment from the US Department of Justice for the same activities, which could cost a further £9bn, and admitted it had not yet engaged in talks about a settlement in this matter.

Since its bailout in 2008, RBS has incurred fines and legal costs of £15bn ($19.9bn). (13 July)

Let’s remember, it’s not their money, it’s yours and mine. And thanks to the American Empire overlords, we’re spending it twice over. Admittedly, some of the debt has already been laid off to insurance companies, so as your premiums continue to rise inexorably in all sectors from domestic to motor to pet insurance, you’ll know why.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank, of whom more elsewhere, and Credit Suisse have also been hit with over $12 billion in settlements, and the US DoJ is still pursuing Barclays – who have so far avoided speaking to them.

(As we know, four top Barclays executives are languishing on bail pending trial in the UK, accused of bribing Qatar with £300 million to guarantee the bank $billions, ramping the share price so as to avoid having to go cap-in-hand to ask for a Bank of England bailout that would have involved close scrutiny of their books. You can’t win!)

Anyway, it’s one way to bring down the USA’s $65 trillion domestic debt burden, I suppose, by soaking foreign taxpayers. You and me, in other words.

Deutsche Bank and RBS are also listed among the 20 banks Trump son-in-law and all-purpose security risk Jared Kushner is said to owe $1 billion to.

Maybe it’s time to call in their loans?

Maybe before he joins his dad in jail?

 

 

x

R-rated item

“Not long after Trump promised to transfer power from Washington to the American people, a wave of spending in pursuit of influence was unleashed. In the first quarter of 2017, tobacco companies and trade associations spent $4.7m lobbying federal officials. Altria, the company behind Marlboro, hired 17 lobbying firms. Reynolds, makers of the Camel brand, hired 13, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/13/tobacco-industry-trump-administration-ties

Welcome to the future

See how Trump was seen coming ten miles off by the desperate shits of the corporate cesspit? See how goddam WEAK they knew he was, how pig-ignorant, how biddable – how corrupt?

Far from ‘draining the swamp’ his administration is packed to the rafters with creeps from Wall Street, scum-rejects from the oil and coal industries, from tobacco and agrichem, from the NRA and with every corrupt and phoney, hypocritical alt-Christian creationist and knowledge-hating misogynist pork-barrel politician who has ever stuck their slavering tongue up his fat, hairy presidential back-passage to massage his presidential haemorrhoids.

Thanks to Trump’s incoherent campaign rhetoric, in which he would promise absolutely anything his antediluvian brain made from congealed greed could think up to jerk-off the dumbfucks, the white trash and the AR-15 toting soccer-moms, to make them love him, he promised to just tear up every human value, every environmental and consumer protection, every civilizational advance he could convince them was stealing their jobs in order to drag them back to the golden age of Betty Crocker Cake Mix and nigger-lynching.

Giving a clear signal to every well-greased corporate shill, PR money-breather, insane polluter, chemical child-killer and Enlightenment denialist to crawl out from under their Roger Stones and capture the White House, leaving their slime trails and spatterings of bloody diarrhoeia, their maggots all over the corpse of US democracy, glumly defended by Skelly-tanned Conway and her roly-poly puppybitch spokesmouth, ‘Look at me, I’m so Christian’ Fuckabee Sanders.

Welcome to the future. What there might be left of it.

(Actually I keep thinking maybe I could take up smoking again, it’s been 37 years. Whaddaya think?)

x

The Son-in-Law also Sets

The Independent learns that Trump’s about-face on Qatar following his Middle East trip last month may have a more personal dimension than just a desire to support Saudi Arabia and the UAE in their impossible demands on the unpopular Emirate.

As we reported a while ago, Trump began with a meeting with Qatar’s new young Emir, hailing him as an ally and welcoming the prospect of selling him more beautiful military equipment’; to which end, Mad Dog was sent to negotiate $11 billion-worth of stuff.

He hadn’t been back on the golf course more than two weeks, however, when the Orange Glow was excoriating the oil-glutted mini-state as a ‘major funder of terrorism’ and demanding they shut down the Al Jazeera fake news network and stop talking to Iran.

Under the urging of the US, the GCC (Arab nations) have imposed a blockade on Qatar and are trying to strangle the country with massive sanctions and military threats. The situation remains tense and could very well result in war. The King of Saudi Arabia recently withdrew his favour from his 57-year-old nephew, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, naming instead his dissolute warmongering son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as his successor.

It now appears that Mr Trump’s thinking is being unsubtly conditioned by his own crown prince, the Zionist Jared Kushner, reportedly a ‘friend’ of Prince Salman, in the eyes of many international bodies a war criminal as he presides over the genocidal Saudi policy in the Yemen.

And Kushner seems to have found sufficient influence through his ‘friends’ in Saudi Arabia to take revenge on his other ‘friend’, the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamed al Thani.

Hamed is reported to have withdrawn an offer to lend Kushner $500 million to prop up his failing investment in 666, Fifth Avenue – the building the Chinese also almost lent him money on, including a $400 million ‘sweetener’, before withdrawing their offer – when Kushner was unable to raise the rest of the dough.

Mr Trump, and his scumsucker, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth plastic-boy Kushner, the little hypocrite were – it seems, read the story in (for instance) The Independent – happy to let Arab states go to war in an already volatile region, risking a major regional conflict and possibly hundreds of thousands more lives, just out of sheer vindictiveness.

The Pumpkin has only recently learned that Kushner Sr ended up in jail, not because of some pardonable commercial fraud. Oh no. Jared’s beloved dad was being prosecuted for fraud, and his brother-in-law had been subpoena’d to give evidence. Kushner Sr paid a prostitute to compromise him, and then sent the video to his own sister. He’s doing five years for perverting the course of justice, just what Trump Sr will eventually go down for.

Except he won’t, the creepy Mike Pence will pardon him. He’s such a fucking white Christian too.

Don’t just lock this entire family of overentitled criminal fuckers and mental retards up, America. Hang them.

 

Oh God. Oh God. There’s more…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYaMqY5MK50

Okay, so Natalya Vesilnitskaya…

Not what she says she is. Not what Donald Jr thought she was. Not what The Pumpkin joked she is.

Under investigation also now is surely Republican representative Dana Rohrbacher, who seems to have arranged for the not unattractively dimpled Kremlin attorney to get into the USA without the appropriate clearance to represent a Russian company in a $280 million money-laundering case….

THE Congressman Rohrbacher about whom it was ‘joked’ at a meeting of Republican senators in 2016 that he was in the pay of the Kremlin… along with Mr Trump. Wikipedia reports:

In terms of his positions, Rohrbacher voted to repeal Obamacare, denies global warming, is a staunch opponent of illegal immigration, and favors the legalization of marijuana. In foreign policy, he supported withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, called on Trump to punish Turkish President Erdoğan on embassy violence, sided with Russia in the Russia–Georgia war, supported the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and supports cooperating with Russia in Syria.

In other words, a fucked-up, Russia-backed stoner.

It appears that the Department of Justice (Attorney General, Trump appointee and known liar about his Russian meetings Jefferson ‘Jeff’ Beauregard Sessions 111) let the defendants off in May with a paltry $6 million fine.

Foreign Policy magazine reported:

“Democratic congressmen on the House Judiciary Committee want to know why Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly settled a money laundering case in May involving the same Russian attorney who met with Donald Trump Jr. during the presidential election to offer “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

“The civil forfeiture case was filed in 2013 by Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York — who was fired by Trump in March. The case alleged that 11 companies were involved in a tax fraud in Russia and then laundered a portion of the $230 million they got into Manhattan real estate.”

She’s obviously pretty good at her job, whatever it is. And as of 21 July two US naturalized Russians – a former military intelligence officer now in trouble over his immigration status and a known money-launderer who created 2,000 shell companies for oligarchs, worth $1.4 billion, have been identified as also present at that 9 June meeting, bringing the total to eight.

Just to discuss adoption! Or, indeed, nothing!

Honestly, guys, it’s impossible to keep up with this. Every day brings new dots to be joined in a complex web of money laundering, political influence peddling and deep corruption in the Trump White House, all of it ultimately deriving from the crassly incompetent, self-enriching activities of one criminal family.

When will this nightmare end?