The Pumpkin – Issue 86: Collision… Trumpenfilth corner… How many wars can Trump sustain all at once?… Bent crude… The Man Who Would be King… GW: Water, water everywhere – except where there’s drought…

“Gangs in England are so adorable. This is what we could have here if we just implemented gun control!”

– Stephen Colbert, on the milkshake attacks in Britain on rightwing agitators like Robinson and Farage.

 

Brexit party and supporters at an event in Bamber Bridge, Lancashire

Last Brexit to Nowhere… Leave supporters who have stolen our future
wait to die at a working men’s club in Lancashire. (Photo: Guardian)

 

How many wars can Trump sustain all at once?

You must watch this issue of Thom Hartmann’s vlog (link below). Unlike any panel discussion of Trump’s startling refusal to co-operate with legislators I’ve heard on US media, arguing that he is above the law, it provides a crystal-clear, historical analysis of the legal position regarding the constitutional battle between Congress, the courts and the White House.

And the conclusion is terrifying.

Spoiler alert: Thom’s verdict

If Trump refuses to co-operate with investigations, tough luck. Not even the Supreme Court can enforce the law if the President chooses not to obey it, as Congress and the courts have NO POWERS OR MEANS OF ENFORCEMENT under the constitution. Only the Executive branch, which includes the Justice Department and the White House, can order arrests.

And with the appointment of Attorney General Barr, Trump has the DoJ in his pocket.

Even if Congress were to impeach Trump for ignoring legal subpoenas ratified by the Supreme Court, as he is proposing to do if decisions go against him, they have no power to arrest him. And he knows it.

Until Nixon, such unpresidential defiance of US law has occurred only three times in the history of the USA. The first was in 1861, when the southern states backed the Supreme Court against a certain Abraham Lincoln, who refused to give way on their ruling that African slaves were not humans, and it cost 600 thousand lives to settle the matter.

Not for nothing does Trump sit under a portrait of his favorite President in history, the appalling racialist Andrew Jackson, who twice ignored the Supreme Court in matters pertaining to his genocidal campaigns aganst First Nation Americans.

How many wars can Trump sustain all at once, on how many fronts? A clue may lie in the number of law suits he’s currently juggling.

I refer you to the incomplete list of lawsuits pending against Donald Trump (NB these are only primary cases, excluding many hundreds of cases in which he is named incidentally.)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lawsuits_involving_Donald_Trump

Thom Hartmann: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1Zv3zlK714

 

Collision

An open letter stating an opinion that Trump should face trial for multiple crimes of obstructing justice on the basis of the evidence gleaned by the Mueller investigation and published in the redacted report has been signed by 900 (nine hundred!) current and former prosecuting US states’ attorneys.

The problem being that only the Department of Justice can indict – the investigation was under their jurisdiction. And the Attorney General whom Trump personally appointed in February to run the DoJ, M William “Bill” Barr, is refusing to indict on grounds that you cannot indict a sitting President; although that is a controversial opinion or, as we say, bullshit.

Talk about obstructing justice!

While the President also remains an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the case for which his lieutenant, Michael Cohen, was sent to gaol for three years, for co-operating with Trump’s order that he should pay bribes to silence two inconvenient women, illegally out of campaign funds, to assist Trump’s election prospects. The President remains under suspicion that he also persuaded a friend, Mr Elliott Broidy, to pay $1.8 million to a Playboy model whose baby he had aborted, and to accept responsibility himself.

Next week, this corrupt criminal – yes, he last year pleaded guilty in a New York court to misuse of tax-exempt charity funds and his Trump Foundation was compulsorily wound-up; while, in 2017 he was forced to pay $35 million reparations in a case involving the bogus “Trump university” scam – and his wretched family, all of whom are under investigation for financial crimes – is to be entertained, literally royally, by the British State, at a cost of many millions of pounds, and will hypocritically attend a 75th anniversary parade to mark the joint military invasion of Europe by US, Canadian, French and British forces.

Pray for rain.

 

During President Trump’s election campaign he promised voters that, unlike “lazy” Obama, he would be the hardest-working president in history. In his first 27 months in office he has played golf on average once every three days, at a cost to the US taxpayer now of $102 million. (TYT/The Huffington Post)

 

Trumpenfilth corner:

I wrote recently that the 2020 campaign will only get filthier. In response to Speaker Pelosi’s comment that Trump is engaged in a cover-up with regard to the Mueller report, video of her statement has been digitally edited to make her look drunk and rambling* and this fake news version was helpfully put out on air by the Fox Business channel.

It’s also been posted online with, so far, 2 million views. Facebook and Twitter have made half-hearted attempts to takedown the video. No doubt many dumbfucks will not have the cognitive abilities to see what’s been done to the original, although it’s pretty crude. Or they’ll just think it’s hilarious.

Asked about it, Trump defended it, whining that she attacked him first. An opposition politician! And this is the cheesy sleazeburger with an emotional age of nine they’re inflicting on the 93-year-old Queen next week, officials desperately claiming “It’s not the man, it’s the office”?

*How to edit a video to make a person look drunk and rambling, Part One. First, cut it into little pieces and put it back together with little delays and overlaps and hiccups and repeats. Then you slow the voicetrack down by about 15%. We recommend you use FinalCutPro for a cleaner finish.

 

Bent crude

It’s axiomatic now that Trump’s actions stink of corruption and malpractise. To the point where, it seems, nobody cares. He hasn’t launched the nuclear missiles, like everyone feared. He’s derailing the economy, but the Obama momentum, a global recovery and a weak dollar are still keeping it going. Cuts in Medicare and tax increases on the middle-class have yet to kick in. He’s done many other horrible things, told endless lies, started a trade war and bust the budget, but so far they haven’t made a telling shot among his base. His chief propaganda mouthpiece, Brad Parscale (late of Cambridge Analytica) is Facebooking lies like a good ‘un.

And many people quite approve of the way he seems to be standing up to the hated politicians in Congress, even if it is to cover up his own crimes.

He continues to protest his innocence of the charges investigated by Mueller. It’s been two months now since his hand-picked Attorney General, a man who doesn’t think a sitting President can be indicted for anything, a man who has argued the Mueller investigation was illegitimate, released a three and a half page summary of a 488-page report, using Mueller’s inability or strange unwillingness to prosecute a sitting President for abuse of office as a pretext for claiming he totally exonerated Trump and his campaign, which he absolutely did not.

Mr Barr is again summonsed to testify before a Congressional Intelligence Committee, Thursday (23 May) and the media is waiting to see if he turns up, having refused to the last time and being held in contempt for it. Unfortunately, Congress has no powers of arrest outside the building itself.

The redacted report has been published, but few people have taken the time to read it. Those who have are convinced, despite the redactions, of the President’s guilt. The one Republican senator who read it and admitted openly that he was convinced of Trump’s guilt has been, as they say, sent to Coventry by his colleagues.

The vast majority of Americans however are left with just those three and a half carefully selected pages and a president who continues to tweet and whine and cry and boast that he’s a “stable genius” (yep, he said it again!) who has been cleared of all charges; and who has now said he will not co-operate on government legislation while the House is investigating him – a childish tantrum neither Nixon nor Clinton threw, even while impeachment hearings were going on.

What are the public supposed to think? The Justice Department continues to refuse to release the unredacted report, even to Congressmen and women with the highest security clearance.

Well, they could look at his behavior. Whining and blustering that he’s been proven innocent, Trump has continually attacked the investigation as illegitimate, the investigators as biased plotters – “traitors”, he’s calling them, in the best tradition of dictators the world over. He’s called for them to be investigated, and a supine Justice Department already convicted of lying to the House is complying.

And nobody seems to think that’s strange. If he was exonerated, what’s the problem? Why not release it all? But it’s just what he does. Look how he continues to claim Hillary Clinton rigged the 2016 election, even though he won it! Nothing must be allowed to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency, which he genuinely seems to believe in his paranoia and delusional narcissism will go down as the greatest in history; although he has achieved nothing but growing inequality and chaos.

Perhaps unwisely, Mueller left it to the Justice Department and Congress to make up their minds based on the mountain of evidence he uncovered, and is now curiously silent on the whole affair. Trump has continued to claim that, as he was exonerated, which he was not, there is no evidence of crimes; consequently further investigations and the judgement of Congress have no validity and must end – before, many assume, more dirt comes out.

And time is going by, with the 2020 elections approaching and the public growing bored and fractious and easily distracted by talk of war and an immigration crisis on the border, “collegegate” and the unsatisfactory conclusion of Game of Thrones.

The British government, equally in chaos amid similar accusations of divisiveness and abuse of the poor and immigrant, with the far-right poised to take control and Prime Minister May due to stand down as Conservative leader in total humiliation on 7 June, has dumped almost the entire State visit of the criminal Trump family, which she instigated, onto the shoulders of the extended royal family – a further “exoneration” Trump and his infinite propaganda machine will make maximum capital out of for the dumbfucks.

Now, congressional committees trying to investigate the findings of the report, as Mueller charged them to do, are themselves being shut down, either by lawsuits – all so far rejected in the courts – or by the simple expedient of the White House refusing to release information under subpoena, refusing to allow witnesses quoted in the Mueller report to give testimony about their evidence to Congress, daring the Democrats to impeach.

The main example is that of Don McGahn, former White House counsel, who gave over 30 hours of testimony in private to the Mueller team, but is now at risk of being charged with contempt of Congress, having failed to show up for a scheduled committee session under subpoena. Why? Well, it’s possibly to do with his law firm having $1.2 million worth of consultancy to the Republican party that’s going down the pan if he testifies.

Witness intimidation.

And, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8LI2-dCoro, Rachel Maddow discourses on the other main topic, that of the request by the House Oversight Committee to see Mr Trump’s tax returns.

The committee is empowered by a law of 1927 that is absolutely clear: if the chairman wishes to see anyone’s tax returns, the IRS is legally obliged to comply. But no, Trump is not of a mind to let anyone ferret through those, literally, thousands of pages detailing his financial activities over 7 years. A barrage of dubious legal objections has been put up to deny the committee’s clear and lawful request; Mr Trump having hired a separate legal team to fight on just this one issue.

And, it turns out, in Trumpworld there are massive and unexamined conflicts of interest between the top three officials at the IRS and their duty to the law. Three officials whose appointments were in the gift of the President, whose appointments were railroaded urgently through the Senate by the leader, “Cocaine” Mitch McConnell*, as the likelihood of impeachment drew nearer.

(Incidentally, the question remains, was Donald Trump at any time involved in the cocaine trade? Evidence suggests he may have been, but that’s yet another accusation that’s gone unresolved for years, as there’s just so much of this stuff going on that the legal system is totally underequipped and unable to deal with it all.)

Three officials, one of whom happens to be a partner in an accounting firm that used to work as tax advisors for Trump Organization. Another of whom just happened to write a legal opinion that while the IRS may be obliged to furnish tax returns to the committee of anyone in the country on demand, the law doesn’t apply to the President. He also happens to own several apartments in Trump condominiums.

The third, Stephen Mnuchin, is the Treasury Secretary. He’s a former longtime Goldman Sachs man, like several of Trump’s arslikhan cabinet of all the millionaires, draining the swamp, who profited from the 2007 crash by buying up the assets of busted banks and loan companies cheaply and foreclosing on all the debtors, including hundreds of families who lost their homes. According to Wikipedia:

“Mnuchin founded a hedge fund called Dune Capital Management, named for a spot near his house in The Hamptons, in 2004 with two former Goldman partners. After its founding, Mnuchin served as the CEO of the company. The firm invested in at least two Donald Trump projects, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Honolulu and its namesake in Chicago.”

Together, these profoundly conflicted appointees at the head of the country’s tax collection service form a formidable wall against intrusive inspections of their patron’s financial affairs, even as they may be mandated by law and unbroken precedent.

But, you know, given Trump’s nature, it may just be that his tax returns will show nothing amiss. It’s possible that he’s just preternaturally averse to being investigated. Or that he’s happy to create a diversion by getting the media to focus obsessively on his taxes and ignore how he makes money illegally outside of the tax system altogether.

 

*Where does the nickname “Cocaine Mitch” come from? Apparently, from a debunked story involving his wife’s Chinese family; although financial journalist and veteran Trumphound, David Cay Johnson, has written that there is substantial circumstantial evidence linking Donald Trump with the Columbian cocaine trade in the 1980s.

But apparently, McConnell is willing to leave no turd unstoned when it comes to re-election, and is milking the monicker for all he’s worth. He has already raised $70 thousand from sales of Vote for “Cocaine Mitch” T-shirts. As website FastCompany.com reports:

“It’s exactly the kind of trolling nihilism you can expect from the man who obstinately opposed the Obama administration at every turn and now frequently calls Democrats who don’t accede to Trump’s agenda ‘obstructionists.’ Cocaine is hilarious, trolling is politics, nothing matters, who cares?”

 

Trump has ordered US farmers to be compensated for losses caused by China imposing retaliatory tariffs against the tariffs he’s imposed on China, blaming China for deliberate aggression against US farmers. The cost to the US taxpayer: $12 billion. Experts believe the soybean trade may never recover.

 

The Man Who Would be King

The Guardian is reporting on video evidence of meetings between Nigel Farage and Steve Bannon, in which the two men discuss the possibility of forming a “global alliance” of some of the most terrible men on the planet “to combat globalism”.

It would be funny if it weren’t so horrific. “Fake news”, if the possibility exists that The Guardian does not check its sources carefully. But after luring Mr Bannon to a private entrance at the Ritz Hotel in London, presumably because the doorman wouldn’t have let an Islamophobic nihilist looking like a dishevelled drunk into the foyer, the conversation with Farage is all apparently there on tape, in the form of out-takes from a new fly-on-the-wall (more like “flies-on-a-turd”) documentary about Bannon, The Brink, to air here in July.

Among those great leaders they thought it would be a nice idea to involve in their little plot to rule the frazzled earth are the self-admitted murderer, Duterte of the Philippines, on whose say-so thousands of presumed “drug dealers” – mostly harmless addicts – have been exterminated by police death squads, and who speaks openly and pleasantly of raping women.

Indian “strongman” – actually he’s just an elderly peasant buoyed up by heat-crazed Hindu nationalists and appears to The Pumpkin from a distance to be a quite profoundly stupid man – Narendra Modi is on the list, as is the authoritarian Hungarian PM, Viktor Orban, ruthless exploiter of any passing populist issue and slayer of NGOs. Egypt, too, was mentioned – see below.

Amusingly, Farage is on tape telling Bannon he finds Boris Johnson too lightweight and incapable of concentrating on anything for more than a few seconds. This, from the pathetic Trumpsucker photographed in the Golden Elevator, adoring inches away from that other adulterous, overweight, tow-headed scamp who practically invented ADHD.

(In case you objected to my use of the word “turd” earlier, I should mention that this global conspiracy of White-is-Rightists was known appropriately as The Movement.)

Apparently The Movement has been abandoned, as the funding mechanism wasn’t quite meeting internationally accepted rules, while Farage’s instant pop-up Brexit party, the No Deal, anti-EU party leading in the polls for tomorrow’s EU elections, is being investigated for accepting illegal foreign donations.

Taking a leaf out of Trump’s “Quick, smear anyone you think may be a threat!” playbook, Farage has been quick to dismiss the Electoral Commission without the slightest evidence as a bunch of Remainers. The worst insult he can imagine! It might even work with his Brexit party dumbfucks, 5,000 of whose jobs at British Steel in 70% Leave-voting Scunthorpe are imminently threatened by Brexit contractions.

Let’s hope it doesn’t end there, and that these deluded voters finally understand what an unreconstructed fascist this deeply unpleasant, richer-than-he-pretends-to-be, “Man o’ the People” is.

From supporting removal of workers’ rights, to cynical climate-change minimization, to privatisation of the NHS, Farage is not at all what his fans think he is. Or maybe he is, I don’t know. Anyway, being “different” is not a reason to vote for someone who has no plan to do you any good whatsoever.

And how “different” is he? Most if not all of the dead white men in the Tories’ factional European Research Group share his 1950s golf-club-bore views; as do, apparently, the elderly lads and Thatcherized mineworkers of northern working men’s clubs.

Miserable old farts, our beer glasses are empty, but our time has come to screw the rest of you.

 

A filthy, murderous little regime

“Ahmed Saddouma will face his final hearing on 8 June for a crime he could not have committed. He was only 17 years old when he was abducted from his bed in the middle of the night by the Egyptian authorities. He was tortured for three months until he ‘confessed’ to a crime that took place 21 days after his arrest. He was sentenced to death in a mass trial of 30 people, where he could not present a defence.”

Thus the content of an email from Reprieve, the NGO that campaigns worldwide against the gross injustice of the death penalty, especially where no defence case is admitted.*

The filthy, murderous regime of General al-Sissi grows more barbarous with each passing day. As it has the courts in its pocket, a policy of torture and the vast financial and military resources of the United States of Ismerica to underpin it, the regime easily passes the bar of fascism.

Fascism is when the State, for its own ends and those of its partners in business, the military and the religious establishment combined, empowers its ordinary citizens to unleash their frustration, their brutality, what Hannah Arendt called the banality of evil, on the chosen Other: in this case, members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an invented enemy.

How bitterly must those who took part in the Arab Spring revolution that overthrew the last oppressive dictator of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, be regretting their failure to properly organize and to coalesce around clear ideals and objectives, allowing this strutting, pockmarked little shit to take over and impose the most astonishing brutality on his people; with almost daily judicial massacres of his perceived “opponents”.

The “strongman” view of history is littered with such examples, of lawless, power-crazed thugs – generally ugly little men of reduced stature and stunted intellect but infinite low cunning – riding to power on the credulity of the mob and the seemingly endless willingness of followers to hide inside a uniform and commit unbridled acts of violence against even those fellow citizens who would hope to improve their lives too.

I signed the petition, but without optimism. Theresa May is not going to intervene, she may not even be in office tomorrow. How many more Ahmed Saddoumas will hang before justice and moderation and good governance are restored to the world?

It will never happen in our lifetimes. We are descending into a barbarism not seen since the 1930s, that will undoubtedly end with the collapse of the socio-economic order as the planet rapidly heats beyond bearing.

*And just watch sales of Amazon’s new face recognition app to oppressive regimes like Egypt’s.

 

GW: Water, water everywhere – except where there’s drought

USA: Heavy snow is reported in Denver, Colorado; major flooding is forecast for the northeast, more storms for Texas; while in Georgia, temperatures are approaching 37C, 98F.

A dangerous storm system in South and Midwest USA has produced dozens of tornadoes, strong winds, hail and heavy rain since Monday 20 May. Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri have all been affected, with major flooding reported in parts of Oklahoma and Missouri. 2 people died in a vehicle accident. Heavy rain is expected to increase river levels, many of which have been high since March this year. More storms are forecast throughout the week. As of 22 May, rivers were above flood stage in 370 locations across the South and Midwest. (Floodlist)

Update, 25 May: A large and violent tornado has left at least 3 people dead in Missouri as torrid weather continues to pummel parts of America’s midwest. A series of devastating storms hit the area on Wednesday night (22 May) leading to multiple tornadoes. The region has already endured days of torrential rain and flooding.

All 3 fatalities were in Golden City. Another tornado carved a 3-mile swathe of destruction through the state capital, Jefferson City (where people are thought to be trapped under rubble). It brought the death toll from Midwest twisters this week to 7. (BBC Weather)

Drought and unseasonally warm temperatures in Canada have brought two massive uncontained wildfires to northern Alberta in an early start to the season (BBC). 5,000 residents have been evacuated from the path of the Chuckegg Creek wildfire, which is burning out of control and has already consumed 200 thousand acres. The High Level fire has been prevented from reaching the town but has burned 100,000 sq km of forest. (CNN/Global)

Japan: as Trump arrives to play golf with Abe, the Japan Times reports, “Unseasonably hot conditions gripped wide areas of Japan on Sunday, with the town of Saroma setting the highest temperature ever recorded in the country for the month of May. The mercury hit 39.5 degrees in the northeastern coastal Hokkaido town. (26 May). Strangely, although the earthquake that shook Tokyo an hour before Airforce One touched down gets a mention, mainstream media is making no mention of the heatwave.

Germany: “Storm Axel” brought heavy rain, strong winds and thunderstorms to parts of Germany between 20 and 22 May. Several states were affected by flooding. Some areas of Bavaria recorded over 250mm of rain in 48 hours. I person is known to have died. Rail travel was disrupted. (Floodlist) The storms are moving away across Georgia into Russia (Severe-weather.eu)

Turkey: Over 30 buildings have been destroyed or severely damaged by a landslide in Aybasti district in the Black Sea province of Ordu. The area had been affected by an earlier landslide in February. It’s thought recent heavy rainfall in the area triggered a second landslide on 15 May. Over 80 homes have been evacuated. (Floodlist)

Mali: At least 14 people have died in flash flooding that hit the country’s capital, Bamako, on 16 May. The flooding struck after a sudden torrential downpour that lasted several hours. Flood water was up to 2.5 metres deep. At least 1 person has died in flash flooding in southern Ghana after a downpour lasting around 2 hours on 15 May. It’s one of several spates of flash flooding to affect the country since March this year. At least 12 people died in the capital Accra in early April. (Floodlist) In Guinea, 5 people died when drains in the capital, Conakry, blocked with years of garbage, backed up during a heavy rainstorm. (from: Floodlist)

Korea: North Korea is suffering its worst drought in 37 years (when tens of thousands starved to death) and has called on its citizens to “battle” against the crop damage. It comes after the UN said that up to 10 million North Koreans were “in urgent need of food assistance”. State TV however is showing images of lush crops and flowing streams. So it must be bad.

UK: As Sheffield council contractors continue to hack away at the city’s remaining mature trees, protected from elderly protestors by the police and courts, “more than 130,000 trees are to be planted in English towns and cities over the next two years as part of the nation’s battle against global heating”. Previous tree-planting programs are way off schedule. Environment secretary, Michael Gove has announced that grants for the plantings will be made available through the Urban Tree Challenge Fund. Researchers have determined from lake sediments that flooding twice in the past 10 years in Cumbria was the heaviest for over 550 years – as far back as they can go. (Guardian Green Light)

Tunnel approaching….

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser, largest in the park, went off on 21 May for the 17th time this year, on course to beat last year’s record 32 eruptions. Normal activity is 2 or 3 a year. A huge, very deep M8.0 earthquake in Peru on Sunday 26 May (1 dead, a dozen injured, buildings brought down) seems to have produced a responding M4.2 quake in Utah, near the caldera. (Mary Greeley) Was the M5.0, 48 miles south of Tokyo, also related?

 

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The Pumpkin – Issue 80: Long Essay – Trump: “I’ve got a little list!” Chor. “He’s got a little list!”… False flags… GW: Cry me an atmospheric river.

 “I support the Great Lakes. Always have. They’re very big, very beautiful, very deep – record deepness, right? Am I right?” – “The wit and bullshit of Donald J Trump” sliming an audience in Michigan.

 

“Take cover.”

Trump: “I’ve got a little list!” Chor. “He’s got a little list!”

The Pumpkin writes:

With the exception of early spec. pieces in Guardian Comment by Robert Reich and Richard Wolffe, and specious attacks on the US media (singling out the impeccably source-checked Rachel Maddow as the poster-child for news fakery) there has been a curious dearth of reporting here in the worrying aftermath of a memo that came out at the weekend (on a Sunday?) from the US Justice Department.

Although only a brief and tentative summary of the mountain of evidence Mueller has amassed, the letter gave room at least for the President himself to proclaim with total self-justification that he has been fully “exonerated” by the inquiry into widespread allegations that his campaign team “colluded” with Russia to game his election, and that he subsequently attempted to obstruct the inquiry by, among many other clumsy ruses, firing the head of the FBI, James Comey, and subsequently his deputy, Andrew McCabe.

Sadly, no such exonerations may be inferred! Only that the evidence did not point conclusively to a conspiracy – not that the suspected collusion did not happen, or that Trump was not keen to hush it up. Quite the contrary. Mr Trump has naturally seized on this narrow legal interpretation as a lifeline to proclaim his innocence – of everything, ever! – to whine about persecution, and to demand that his political enemies and critics in the media should be purged. (He has never fully understood the role of an Opposition party in Congress.)

So what do we think we know?

Well, first of all it would be odd if the report does not include a reference to the overwhelming intelligence that there was illegal Russian interference in the election. If there was not, the whole case would have collapsed and it didn’t and it hasn’t. I have not heard anyone make this point.

The question then shifts to who knew what, and when did it become known – Mr Trump is still denying it ever happened, but that may only be because his ego will not let facts undermine the legitimacy of his election, which was doubtful enough.

Was the interference solicited by Trump or members of his team or merely encouraged or even just sidelined – was there collusion – and was the law correctly followed in dealing with the information? (Obviously not, as it took months to drag it out of everybody.) Do the President’s public efforts to shift blame for what he says did not happen onto the previous administration and his political opponents add up to more than just a befuddled old man muddying the waters, or – taken with his physical actions in firing many of the investigators and worse – do they add up to a blatant campaign of obstruction?

If so, of what? Why obstruct, many have asked, if no crime was committed? And can a President in any case “obstruct” the justice he is ultimately responsible for administering?

The general view is, that as Mrs DeVos seeks to defund programs for blind schoolchildren – no, that’s not an April Fool – to pay for more tax cuts for the billionaire DeVos family; as the Republicans scramble to unpick Trump’s statements about universal healthcare they’re not planning or funding, and about sending Americans back to the moon, the shitty bits will come out in easily swatted dribs and drabs, and as the shy and retiring author slips back into the shadows, interest in Mueller will rapidly wane.

Trump was, of course, recorded in a widely shown TV interview with Lester Holt of NBC way back in 2017, admitting he fired Director Comey to make the “Russia thing” go away; a claim he allegedly repeated the next day at a private Oval Office meeting with Russians: ambassador Kysliak and Foreign Minister Lavrov, at which no witnesses other than a Russian photographer and the interpreters were present – he sent his new Security Advisor, 3-star Gen. H.R. McMaster, out of the room. Afterwards, he forced McMaster to go out and lie to a press conference that he had not, in fact, accidentally tipped the Russians off about a top-secret Israeli undercover operation against IS.

When the Justice Department had previously tried to warn him that his National Security adviser, Gen. Flynn, was a suspected Russian asset, instead of firing Flynn he fired the acting Attorney-General, Sally Yates. (He is now not dismissing the idea of pardoning Flynn, who he says is a decent man calumniated as part of the witch-hunt by trial judge Emmet Sullivan as having “sold his country out”. That’s pardonable – normal even – in Trumpworld.) Crude attempts were then openly made to prevent Yates testifying at the subsequent Congressional inquiry.

Investigations have already shown that there were over 100 instances of communications and meetings between team members and Russian entities during the campaign. But “no collusion”, apparently. Trump has on a number of occasions openly supported Russia’s President Putin’s word over that of his own security chiefs, has lifted sanctions in some cases, refused to impose them in others, and made foreign policy decisions that seem to fall in line with Russia’s global ambitions, against the interests of the US and its allies; notably his derisive and damaging attacks on NATO.

His transgressive behavior and frequent praise of Putin as a man with the power to get things done (including killing his critics) has raised unanswered questions about where his loyalties lie. He has attempted on 25 occasions to use the issuing and revocation of security clearances to control the conversation on Mueller within the security establishment.

Eventually it emerged too that he had lied extensively about having no business connections with Russia. Since 1987, but especially after a visit to the capital in 2013, he had been trying to obtain planning permission (against city building height regulations), seeking partners and finance for a 400-room “Trump Tower, Moscow” – efforts that were continuing, according to the Cohen testimony, even as he took office. It has also not been denied that as part of his efforts, there was an offer to gift Mr Putin off-plan, the $50 million penthouse apartment.

We also know from many sources that developments of his have been extensively financed or purchased by Russian investors, several of whom are suspected by the FBI of having connections to organized crime: racketeering, trafficking and money-laundering; and that he has potentially compromising debts to Russian and other overseas banks. According to his sons, “We do business there all the time. We have no problem getting finance from Russia.”

The case of the hot lady lawyer

On 9 June, 2016 (during the campaign) son Donald Jr, privately engaged with a Kremlin lawyer, Natalya Veselnitskaya, and the now convicted felon Paul Manafort, soon-to-be chair of the campaign committee; together with two former GRU operatives, and Trump’s son-in-law and senior WH advisor, Jared Kushner, at a meeting in Trump Tower, New York; facilitated by a Russian oligarch, property developer Aras Agalarov and his pop-singing son Emin, a “friend” of Trump Jr’s. The go-between was a sleazy British music promoter and ex-tabloid newspaper stringer, Rob Goldstone,.

Trump’s press people and Trump himself persistently lied about the purpose of the meeting (Trump notoriously dictating a press release giving false version of events exonerating his son to his Communications Director, Hope Hicks while aboard Airforce One) until an email from Goldstone was produced, showing the meeting had been called to discuss Russian support in obtaining “dirt” from inside the Clinton campaign; and that Donald Jr had replied, welcoming the prospect. The meeting broke up, apparently when the Americans decided Veselnitskaya wasn’t offering dirty enough “dirt” to satisfy the campaign objectives.

“No collusion”, then.

We still don’t know the full story, but it seems significant that at least three of those who attended the meeting, including Ike Kaveladze (“A Russian American businessman once accused of laundering more than $1.4bn into the US from eastern Europe” Guardian) were said to have had substantial experience (including convictions) of processing Russian and Ukrainian dark money through anonymous offshore accounts registered in tax havens.

Was any pledged to the Trump campaign at that meeting?

Within hours of which, at a public hustings Trump openly – possibly rhetorically – called for Russia’s assistance in hacking servers to find “30 thousand emails” it was claimed Mrs Clinton had deleted from a private account while Secretary of State in the Obama administration, on suspicion they contained breaches of security and evidence, both of culpability in the murder of the US ambassador to Libya, and of an illegal deal to sell uranium to Russia – both charges having already been investigated and dismissed by the FBI. (Hacking is illegal in the US, as is calling for it.)

Where had that information come from?

Members of his campaign team, including the longtime political “fixer” Roger Stone, were subsequently found to have had direct contact with Julian Assange of Wikileaks, a fugitive from justice, that eventually, er, leaked the Clinton emails, that US intelligence services swore had been recovered by GRU hackers. The FBI investigated the emails again, and found no significant breaches of security; a finding Trump refused to accept. However, the reopening of the investigation was prematurely announced by Comey and is thought to have played a significant role in Clinton’s defeat at the polls.

While, following the controversial $95 million sale of a condemned and rotting Florida mansion to Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev, that netted Trump a $45 million profit, the “Fertilizer King” apparently turned up in his private jet, coincidentally parked next to Trump’s personal plane, at a hustings in Cleveland on the night when the candidate unexpectedly altered a party policy statement concerning Russian interference in eastern Ukraine to favour the Kremlin’s position. I imagine this widely reported story would have been of intense interest to Barr, as it may have provided evidence of a “quid pro quo”.

On taking office, Trump subsequently appointed his friend Wilbur Ross to the post of Commerce Secretary. Ross was at the time vice-chair of Bank of Cyprus, named as part of the “global laundromat”, in which Rybolovlev reportedly held a 10% stake and other oligarchs said to be close to Putin were named as co-investors.

A possible red herring, computer security analysts in 2016 reported the accidental discovery of a mysterious stream of traffic, in the form of thousands of apparently unanswered “pings” from a Russian bank, Alfabank, to a dedicated server in Wisconsin whose IP address was confirmed as being registered to the Trump Organization. Owned by a Ukrainian oligarch, Mikhail Fridman, Alfabank was linked to the Kremlin via its co-director, Pyotr Aven – a judo partner of Putin’s. The fascinating detective story is originally found at slate.com: “Was a server registered to the Trump Organization communicating with Russia?” (Oct 2016 cover story)

Other traffic from Alfabank was traced to a company, Spectrum Health, owned by Trump’s billionaire friend, Dick DeVos – husband of the unqualified Betsy, whom Trump controversially appointed as his Education Secretary. The connection was strenuously denied, but almost at the same time Fridman announced that he was moving some of his vast investment portfolio out of the energy sector and into US healthcare companies.

Trump’s lawyers, led by John Dowd, refused to let him be interviewed in person by Mueller, but instead agreed for him to answer a list of questions in writing; a list supplied ahead of time and vetted by the Trump team. Dowd’s outspoken view was that Trump couldn’t be relied on as a witness, either to tell the truth or to stick to a story that wouldn’t incriminate himself. Shortly after, he left the team. But lack of candour hasn’t stopped Trump from having at least two lengthy informal private meetings with Vladimir Putin at G20 summits, with no State Department officials or other witnesses present other than interpreters sworn to secrecy, and apparently no notes taken.

What does that say about his innocence or guilt? Or his mental capacity? And why, if he was so confident he would be exonerated, did he need to gather round him a team of maybe 15 or 20 lawyers – mostly, it was said, second-raters as no leading law firm would touch him with a bargepole!

Needless to add, those “not involved” have at times denied all or most of the above.

Nerves of Steele

Trump has consistently tried to discredit and muddy the waters around the so-called Steele dossier, which he claims is a fake. Most people seem to believe his line that a British agent was paid by the Clinton campaign to make up a lot of stories about Trump’s relationship with Russia and the Kremlin, but that is absolutely not how the dossier came about. It was another lie. Had Trump tried to dispute the actual document, line by line, it would have been an admission of what he had vociferously and frequently denied, that he had indeed done much business with Russia. So he just trashed it.

Christopher Steele, a former MI6 Moscow bureau chief, runs a private consultancy in London offering expertise in the Russian sector. A conservative Washington political research consultancy called Fusion GPS was commissioned originally by an internal Republican party committee to try to find out what “dirt” if any, Putin had on Trump, in order to help them divert any possible revelations that might come out during the campaign. Fusion’s director, Glen Simpson hired Steele.

Steele gleaned information from his old Kremlin insiders, some of whom have since “disappeared” or unfortunately died from unexpected health problems – such as Igor Korobov, the head of the GRU – that attested to many contacts between the Trumps and the Russians – and a possible campaign of interference in the 2016 elections. The story is that he was so alarmed by what he found, he sent the info straight to the FBI, who ignored it. (No-one is arguing the case that the Feds are competent security minders – see 9/11 for details.)

In turn, Simpson passed some of the threat info to the Democratic party’s national committee, who also took no notice, even while the GRU (“Guccifer 2” and “Fancy Bears” were two of their user groups) was ferreting around inside their computers. It just seemed improbable; while, for some reason, Simpson persisted in dealing with a junior IT bod whose superiors didn’t want to believe him until it was too late.

Eventually, so much signals traffic alerted European intelligence agencies to contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia that the FBI opened their investigation by surveilling campaign foreign relations advisor, Carter Page and three others under a duly authorized FISA warrant, that turned up Trumps, as it were – apparently incriminating phone conversations regarding Russia – hence the wider investigations leading to Mueller; since when, more than 80% of the dossier has checked out.

Not, sadly thus far, the bit about Trump and the p-p-prostitutes in the hotel room! (Putin joked, “We have the best prostitutes in the world!” (I imagine they’re no longer around to testify, if they had ever existed.)

It would be extraordinary if all of these well-attested, triple-checked press reports were shown by Mueller to be just “fake news”, as rightwing online commenters are now Trumpeting, merely on the basis of Barr’s reluctance to indict a President. The A-G has now promised a “redacted” version will come out shortly.

Burden of proof

It was always going to be difficult if not impossible to find an obvious quick, short, clearcut and direct link between Trump and Putin in a conspiracy to swing the election. Neither man works that way; Trump would hardly have sent a tweet asking Vladimir for a leg up, and it was not the point anyway.

The wider implication was that Trump’s minions, as Cohen testified to Congress, would be essentially coerced into showing loyalty by his alternating abusive rages and praise, maybe compromised over personal secrets, to seek to interpret his strategic aims and do his unspoken bidding. That was how he worked, mafia boss-style. There were never any “smoking guns”, and if there were they could be made to stop smoking with enough money tipped in the right direction.

Mueller may, for instance, have looked at a $25,000 check paid to a PAC of Florida Attorney-General Pam Bondi, following which she closed an investigation into the notorious Trump University scam, and decided that was another one for the Southern District of New York to ask why the money appeared to have come from a tax-exempt charity, the Trump Foundation.

There was no need for “collusion” when the Russians wanted to disrupt the democratic process and keep Clinton off the international stage. They didn’t need permission. Campaign officials merely needed to go along with it and keep enough contact to know not to get in the way, while Trump would no doubt have found it useful from both an electoral and a business point of view to let Putin do his work without having to ask for help, and communicate in private.

As they say in the military, no names, no pack drill.

The four-page letter from newly-appointed Attorney-General William Barr in fact makes clear that Mueller has unearthed a mountain of evidence, based on over 2,800 subpoenas, 500 seizures of thousands of documents and “tapes”, 37 indictments, 7 convictions to date on multiple counts leading to prison terms, however many Grand Juries, etc., some of which are still sitting. Supporting evidence, which it would have been impossible for Barr to have gone over in detail as well as the 800 – or is it only 300, as a concerted leak from the Justice Department is now saying? – pages (everyone has finally settled on 480) of the actual report to produce an authoritative verdict in under 48 hours.

But in the opinion of Barr, appointed by Trump following the firing of A-G Sessions for “disloyalty” (make what you will of that), if there is no finding of “collusion” in Mueller’s summary, then any subsequent attempts by Trump to pervert the course of justice could not amount to the more serious charge of “obstruction”, as they were purely defensive – a plainly ludicrous position to hold. Just because you robbed a different bank, doesn’t entitle you to shoot the sheriff.

Barr does, however, state clearly that Trump has NOT been exonerated of obstruction – a negative conveniently being ignored in the White House version. He merely states that he and Deputy A-G Rosenstein do not intend to proceed with an indictment: that being up to Congress to decide. There’s a lot of buck-passing going on, understandably as the case involves the august personage of the President of the United States.

Rosenstein too presents an interesting challenge. Owing to A-G Sessions’ recusal from the Mueller inquiry over his own illegal evasions about meeting Russian officials – a recusal that infuriated Trump, as he regards the office of Attorney-General as one that ought to be protecting him from gratuitous investigations – Rosenstein, a man it is said of impeccable probity, effectively became Mueller’s boss.

Summoned to the White House in December, after a meeting with Trump he announced he would be stepping down in March. Everyone assumed he had been fired to enable Trump to put in someone more compliant, who would slow or even kill the Mueller inquiry stone dead. In the meantime, Trump had appointed another “no indictments of presidents” advocate, the bizarre Matthew Whitaker, as temporary A-G. Whitaker could never be confirmed in the post, having been involved as a legal consultant to, and fixer for,  a company that was fined $26 million for investment fraud in his home state of Florida.

Then, just two weeks ago, after Barr’s arrival Rosenstein seems to have changed his mind. One can only assume he had become aware that Mueller was about to conclude, and didn’t want to miss the party. That’s assuming no-one had gotten to him and he’d agreed to co-operate with the “exoneration” narrative to save himself from Trump’s coming purges.After all, who had signed off the letter Trump dictated, justifying firing Comey?

Writing in Vanity Fair, Barbara Levin points out of Barr:

“… the guy literally got the job by sending an unsolicited 19-page memo to the Justice Department last June in which he called the special counsel’s inquiry into potential obstructions of justice “fatally misconceived,” described Mueller’s actions as “grossly irresponsible,” and insisted “Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the president submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction.” Given the choice between charging Trump—who seemingly admitted to obstructing justice on TV—with the crime or not, it’s not totally far-fetched to assume Barr would be inclined to go with the latter.”

Then, still defiant US media are bearing in mind Barr’s prior record as Attorney-General under the George HW Bush administration, when he engineered the case for pardons for six Reagan-era dirty tricks operatives, including Col Oliver North, involved in the illegal, so-called Iran-Contra affair (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran–Contra_affair) These are considered to be telling indications of a deferential attitude toward authority. They are also qualifications for an employee who is capable of dissembling. You can see where Trump was tending to go, and his attraction to hack A-Gs who won’t dare to indict a sitting President has itself been put forward as evidence of obstruction.

It was not Mueller’s job to determine guilt or innocence. It was not in his brief. He was appointed as a Special Counsel, not as a Special Prosecutor. The proper procedure would have been for Barr to send the report to the White House, to law officers, and to Congress for appraisal; to publish the findings, and for it to be determined on the basis of all the evidence whether indictments should follow. That might still have happened. Instead, Trump’s chief enabler in Congress, the Savonarola of the Senate, “Cocaine” Mitch McConnell has moved to block release of the report, openly defying a 420–0 vote in the lower house demanding its immediate production.

Thus, in the absence of the report itself, a highly dangerous political vacuum has developed, that I call “Trump Unleashed”.

Trump Unleashed

“No collusion!” has been one of his constant rallying cries for nearly two years, along with febrile attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the inquiry and those involved. An apparent finding of “no collusion” in this one investigation seems already to be playing into his small hands, undermining public trust in the 16 other court-appointed investigations and a Congressional inquiry currently going on into Trump’s financial dealings.

It has effectively enabled Trump to assert that all such investigations are part of a “Witch-hunt” against him, motivated by his enemies and having no basis in law. Thus reified, despite all the other accusations hanging over him and his well-attested (but clearly entirely innocent) associations with criminals and corrupt officers in many countries, this meme of innocence will undoubtedly encourage “Honest Don” to attempt to consolidate his singular power over the judiciary, the media, the Treasury, the security establishment – the State; ruling independently of Congress in a loose triumvirate with the bristly neocon National Security Adviser, John Bolton, and the entirely Koch Industries-manufactured Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

In all of the above, the sharp-witted reader may note that I have not gone into the backstories and admissions of guilt – all involving contacts with Russia and Ukaine – by Trump’s lieutenants: Flynn, whose son Mike Jr cannot escape censure for his efforts to spread the absurd “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, that Clinton was masterminding a pedophile ring out of the non-existent basement of the Comet PingPong cafe in Washington – a meme for which the British alt-right Islamophobic disruptor Jim Dowson has taken the credit, Dowson being a known recipient of Russian dark-money funding. Flynn, Manafort, Papadopoulos, Gates, Corsi, Page, Stone, Cohen… their connections with Russia are extensive and admitted in open court. Their grubby deeds are enumerated elsewhere.

Mr Trump’s legion of dumbfucks would struggle to muster two rational brain cells between them. They may choose to accept unquestioningly, his protestations that he has been fully exonerated by the Mueller report, but that is not true; it is a belief based on months and months of assiduous attempts by propaganda and barefaced denials to undermine the validity of the investigation, while ignoring the very obvious conclusion that nothing here passes the smell test. You would have to be a very unreasonable person not to conclude from all of the above, and the rest, that there were at least valid grounds for enquiry.

Yet despite his disastrous record in office the latest poll indicates that the vast majority of Republican voters – 79% – ominously acclaim Trump to be “the greatest President in US history” (I seem to remember those were his words?). Other, more sanguine Americans may cling for sanity to the fact that still, despite their best efforts at voter suppression and intimidation, Republicans are only a shrinking one-third minority of the overall franchise!

On the basis of its singular usage in the Barr letter, Trump is of course claiming total exoneration, although all the evidence pointing toward criminality has not yet been fully exhausted. He has repeated forcefully his view that (although it has apparently exonerated him – this is how his strange mind works) the legally constituted Special Counsel inquiry was an unlawful harrassment, a “hoax” that for two years has been stalling his project to Make America Great Again, as it says on his Chinese-made hats. He has accused individual investigators of “treason”; although the investigations were of him, not of the country.

He has demanded yet again that those he holds responsible – they include Hillary Clinton, James Comey and former President Obama – should themselves be criminally investigated, and has made threatening statements with regard to the potential for violence of his support base if his ambitions are further thwarted. One understands from the timing, that if Mueller had not given sufficient leeway to allow Barr to claim that the report exonerated him, an army of “Bikers for Trump” would have siezed the commanding heights.

Don’t be fooled. Despite evidence of some mental decline, an informal diagnosis by many experts of his delusional malignant narcissism and his wayward ignorance of political and economic affairs, this man is not a clown.

He has extremely dangerous autocratic and militaristic tendencies bordering on a modern interpretation of fascism: total contempt for the institutions of state and law, the international postwar settlement; complete disdain (openly bought) for the scientific consensus on climate, an unnatural, not to say fetishistic attachment to the symbolism (if not the actuality) of the US military and a warped understanding of the powers and responsibilities of his office: other than that they must aggregate to him personally, for his private benefit, rather than to the nation; since both interests in his mind are identical.

“L’État, c’est moi”, as Louis X1V reputedly put it.

He has also disturbingly uttered more than ten thousand plain, outright, independently fact-checked falsehoods since assuming office on 20 January, 2017; although his support base refuses to see them as such. Don’t assume he does it because he can’t help it: there is both pattern and purpose to his lies. And he has made many perturbing statements about his wish to control and even shut down, parts of the media with which he disagrees; even to the extent of calling for a rewrite of the First – free speech – Amendment. This is an instinctive dictator.

And now in the backlash – I feel sure the internet will be using the word “Trumplash” before long – US news outlets are already reporting on a memo the White House has sent out to the mainstream TV News channels, giving producers a blacklist of names of frequent guest contributors whom Trump warns menacingly they should think carefully about inviting on their talkshows ever again. They include a number of prominent critics among Democrat politicians, including the chair of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, the much-respected Senator Richard Blumenthal – and former CIA director, John Brennan.

Schiff came under concerted and clearly scripted attack by Republican congressmen in a plenary session only yesterday, demanding his resignation. The contrary actions of his predecessor, former House Intel chair, Devin Nunes, were not brought up. Schiff’s spirited defense echoed all of what I have been saying here, and should be viewed as a classic of clear-sighted oratory, of a kind Trump is making disappear: the sheer weight of evidence, he said, justifies concern, and the President’s persistent efforts to dismiss it must surely present evidence of guilt.

Finale: The Kush

For me, however, the even darker doings concerning Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed bin-Salman and the bullying of little Qatar until their sovereign wealth fund agreed to bail out Jared Kushner’s disastrous real-estate project at 666, 5th Avenue is a far more serious breach of ethics, Presidential privilege and firmer evidence that the Trump family is abusing the power of the White House and undermining the security establishment to subvert US foreign policy for the financial benefit of the Trump family.

An introduction can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hw0q2ppoDEM, an item that quotes “MBS” as gloating that he has the President’s senior policy advisor “in his pocket”. The MSNBC piece is over a year old, and a lot of blood has flowed under the bridge since then.

Kushner, for instance, is accused of abusing his security clearance, which we now know was controversial and sanctioned only by order of the President, to provide Riyadh with a top-secret CIA file of names of the Crown Prince’s opponents, many of whom were arrested and tortured – and at least one, Jamal Khashoggi – shockingly murdered.

Does Kushner have Khashoggi’s blood on his hands? Is that why Trump so steadfastly refuses to accept that “MBS” ordered the killing, in case it can be traced to his son-in-law’s helpful betrayal of intelligence secrets?

The problem being, that as Trump has successfully focussed the entire nation for two years on “the Russia Thing”, that has ended (thus far) without firm conclusion, no-one will now dare to open an inquiry into even worse and more treasonous crimes he may have committed in office.

This story, that I have tried to cover before, is affirmed in a new book, “Kushner Inc., – Greed, Ambition, Corruption”, by Vicky Ward, that is even now sitting on my bedside table; while already the standard wording from the White House smoke machine is calling “fiction” on it and thus giving it extra credence and coverage.

Newly empowered by the “no collusion” verdict, which, incidentally, polling suggests has not been bought by the majority of Americans, the contributors’ blacklist may be only the first of many such “little lists” of the President’s perceived enemies marked down for retribution in various ways and to shut down media prurience in case worse emerges.

The Pumpkin’s advice: “Take cover”.

 

False flags

Particularly in view of some strangely enormous lies that are emanating from the White House this week, as Ms Maddow has indicated on her show.

Vice-President, Mike Pence announced in a big speech that US astronauts would be returning to the Moon by 2024. That was news to NASA, whose moon-program budget has just been slashed as part of the cuts to provide more tax relief for the wealthy, and who had no plans for another moon landing in any case before 2028.

Mr Trump made a major announcement that, thanks to him, free healthcare was now going to be fully available to all Americans, paid for by the government. Simultaneously, his budget was being presented to Congress, abolishing the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) and slashing the budgets for Medicare and Medicaid by a trillion dollars. No alternative has been presented.

And another major announcement, concerning his now total defeat of ISIS. Just ahead of reports that the IS is more active than ever in West Africa and Libya, while tens of thousands of surrendered IS fighters are still available to regroup as no-one knows how to process them.

He then summoned the press to the Oval Office to witness him signing an order that in future, all US oil and gas pipeline projects must use American steel. The only problem being, there is no such order. Never has been. It was a fake document!

After which he set off into the countryside to tell an appreciative “rural rally” that he has introduced universal high-speed broadband to rural areas. Only he hasn’t, and there is no urgent plan to.

Maddow’s take on all this is that the Trump regime now realizes that to attain electoral popularity and with the 2020s coming up fast, it’s only necessary to announce wonderful things. Say anything! Nobody will even notice when they don’t happen. No-one will remember what was promised.

Oooh, cynical, Rachel.

 

GW: Cry me an atmospheric river

New Zealand: “Authorities have declared a state of emergency after record rainfall hit the South Island. Flooding has destroyed a bridge and several roads. At least one person is thought to have died. … The country’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) said the rain was brought by an atmospheric river which ‘has an atmospheric footprint’ that extends some 5000+ km, from the Timor Sea to New Zealand. … According to NIWA, Cropp Waterfall recorded 1,086 mm of rain in 48 hours to 27 March, the highest ever 48 hour total for the country”. (Floodlist)

Pakistan: “Days of heavy rain in Balochistan Province caused a landslide on 24 March, 2019, killing at least 6 people. According to local media reports, the landslide struck in Harnai. The victims, thought to include 5 children, were in their home at the time. Around 60 thousand people have been affected by flooding in Pakistan and northern Iran. According to the latest report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), 31 people have been confirmed dead in flooding in Iran since last week.” (Floodlist)

USA: As yet another huge winter storm that has already caused floods in northern California and dumped another foot of snow over the Sierras, sweeps across the flood-saturated prairies of the midwest:

“A … phenomenally strong and prolonged “warm wave” (is) vanquishing monthly temperature records across northwest Alaska. (A temperature of 70F was recorded at Klawock on 25 March, the highest ever so early in the year.) At Utqiaġvik (most northerly habitation), temperatures have hovered between 10°F and 30°F. Similar readings are expected almost every day into next week. … The average high and low for March 25 are –5°F and –18°F. In 99 years of recordkeeping at Utqiaġvik, no March has ever ended up with a mean temperature above zero. In the first 25 days of March 2019, the average has been 1.9°F. Given the forecast, this month is sure to leave the previous warmest March average (-0.7°F) in the dust—and that record was set just last year, in March 2018.” (Wunderground/Earther)

While Michael Snyder (The End of the American Dream) writes of the disruption caused by the winter storms:

“The recent flooding is going to keep thousands of farmers from planting crops on time, and thousands of others are not going to be able to use their fields at all … When you factor in what is going to happen over the next three months, we are talking about an agricultural disaster of unprecedented magnitude in modern American history.” At this moment, some areas in the Upper Midwest still have “more than 20 inches of snow” on the ground… 200 million people are at risk (of further floods downstream)… (Zero Hedge)

Europe: As strong winds again batter the coast of Norway, warnings have been issued for the South Ionian sea, Crete and surroundings with threat of severe storms, capable of producing marginal hail, severe winds and torrential rainfall. Waterspouts are possible too. Similar conditions are forecast for northern Morocco with threat of severe storms, capable of producing large hail, severe winds and torrential rainfall. (Severe-weather.eu) It’s been warm and sunny all day here in Boglington! (28 March)

 

The Pumpkin – issue 77: Why Trump hates Puerto Rico… Why we love Randy Rainbow (and you will, too!)… Yang and the Big Yin… A voice from the dead… Eat shit, dystopians… GW: Ooh, what a spin I’m in… Ending it all down under

Quote of the Day

“Unfortunately, the Nazis don’t play cricket. If they did, we wouldn’t be on opposite sides now.” – Capt. Mainwaring (from BBC TV’s “Dad’s Army”)

 

Ivanka Trump, left, and Jared Kushner.

“So long, suckers! Thanks for all the security clearances…”

(Lucy Nicholson/Reuters. Sorry!)

Why Trump hates Puerto Rico

Wanna know why Trump hates Puerto Rico so much?

Maybe because it’s got the word ‘RICO’ in the name.

RICO – The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act – is the 1970 Act of Congress detailing how prosecutors can go after organized crime.

“The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering and allows the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes they ordered others to do or assisted them in doing, closing a perceived loophole that allowed a person who instructed someone else to, for example, murder, to be exempt from the trial because they did not actually commit the crime personally.” (Wikipedia)

In the light of key moments in the Michael Cohen testimony to Congress, when he averred that Trump uses a kind of coded mobspeak to persuade people indirectly to carry out illegal acts that benefit him without putting himself in the frame, and did so in the case of Cohen’s buying the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels with election funds, people are increasingly talking about bringing RICO to bear on his former employer.

No-one yet wants to accuse Trump of being an actual mob boss, a racketeer – but many people from former FBI director James Comey and his successor, Andrew McCabe, to Congressman Schiff and the liberal media are drawing attention to the obvious parallels between the way Trump runs his businesses, the way he suborns everyone around him to do his bidding, reeling them in one bad deed at a time, insisting on personal loyalty and a code of omerta, and the way mafia bosses ran – or run – their ‘families’; spinning a web of corruption, lies and deceit around everyone and everything he deals with.

Just the way Trump tweeted that Cohen was a “rat” is being seen as proof that the president is not the legitimate businessman he boasts he is. Because to “rat” in criminal circles is not to lie, but to spill the actual beans.

And Trump has beans in spades.

Given that Trump’s mentor was the notorious mob attorney and top-level ‘fixer’ of politicians, police chiefs and judges, Roy Cohn, and his associates have included ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, a member of the Gambino crime family, and Felix Sater, an associate of the Armenian-born Russian mob boss Semyon Mogilevitch, who invested unwisely in Trump casinos, it’s not really a surprise.

What is a surprise is that the RICO Act was most successfully put into practise by none other than Rudy Giuliani, the ‘shoot-from-the-mouth’ lawyer Trump now relies on to protect him in countless bizarre media interviews, back in the days when, as a New York Attorney-General in the mid-1980s, and later as mayor, he was instrumental in taking down the city’s notorious crime families.

Could this be why Trump appointed him – and despite his many gaffes, keeps him on? Because he knows more about racketeering and how it is investigated than most lawyers ever will, is Giuliani the gamekeeper-turned-poacher for the head of the criminal Trump Organization, now being investigated by the Southern District Court on at least 18 counts of fraudulent financial activity, obstruction of justice, bribery, extortion, witness intimidation, organized employment of undocumented immigrants, etc.?

You know, stuff the mob does?

In a widely quoted piece in the New York Times today, historian and author, Garrett M Graff writes:

“The parallels between the Mafia and the Trump Organization are more than we might like to admit. … Cohen was clear about the rot at the center of his former employer: ‘Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization is to protect Mr. Trump. Every day most of us knew we were coming and we were going to lie for him about something. That became the norm.’

“Indicting the whole Trump Organization as a ‘corrupt enterprise’ could help prosecutors address the thorny question of whether the president can be indicted in office.” Graff writes. For a second time, Trump could be labelled as an “unindicted co-conspirator” as, from the relative safety of the Oval Office, he watches helplessly while his rackety empire is progressively dismantled around him. At that point, getting himself re-elected in 2020 would not be much help.

RICO would also allow the authorities to seize the assets and interdict the revenue streams of Trump’s entire operation; possibly to prosecute the officers of the company, including Trump’s awful children – and impeach the President himself, actions neither the Mueller probe nor the splurge of inquiries and subpoenas of documents announced by the Democrats having fun with their newfound majority in the House of Representatives seems likely to be able to achieve on its own.

http://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/opinion/rudy-giuliani-trump.html

 

Why we love Randy Rainbow (and you will, too!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7q0bz0sk30

 

Yang and the Big Yin

“There is something deeper, most commentators feel, that he doesn’t want to come out; something for which he is preparing to exercise the Presidential pardon on his own account if Mueller or the FBI gets too close. It is something potentially so serious that he has twice in the past week been prepared to say, or not say, dumb or reckless things that add to the growing tally of reasons to impeach him. He’s prepared to risk his position, to bet the presidency on it.”

The Pumpkin made that comment about two years ago, but we are still really no wiser.

The “thing” he didn’t want to come out then is most probably the Trump Tower Moscow story, that has emerged from the investigations into Trump’s legal fixer and bagman, Michael Cohen – now staring at a three-stretch and pouring his little heart out to Congressional committees.

He and several of Trump’s staff were involved in clandestine Russia trips and meetings during the 2016 election campaign that have since turned out to have been involved with his plans for a huge and lucrative hotel complex, that required Putin’s permission. Plans the boss didn’t want the minor inconvenience of running for President and even possibly being elected to get in the way of.

It’s one possible explanation for why he so vehemently denied time and again he had any business in Russia, which was a Bigly Lie; and why he has done everything in his power to please Putin, as he stood to gain hundreds of millions of dollars from the project. And in part why the puppetmaster, Putin has kept him dangling on a string ever since.

However, those pesky sex scandals never seem to be far away. The Daily Kos website and others are currently digging into a story that starts like this:

“In late February, billionaire Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, was arrested in a prostitution sting centered around a day spa in Jupiter, Florida. Kraft faces two counts of soliciting sex, and prosectors say evidence includes video surveillance taken at the spa.

The investigation uncovered a series of crimes taking place there, resulting in charges that include human trafficking, racketeering and money laundering. (All my italics. A quick divert to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meyer_Lansky will bring you up to speed on the history of mafia activities in Florida and elsewhere.)

“Turns out, spa founder Cindy Yang is quite the fan of Donald Trump and Republicans, and has appeared at a number of Republican events. She was also a guest at Mar-a-Lago for a Super Bowl watch party with Donald Trump himself.” (http://www.dailykos.com)

Yang has also personally donated over $50 thousand to Trump’s 2020 campaign war chest; and she and her family are or were the owners of a number of other suspected “rub-and-tug” massage parlor operations across the state, ten of which have been closed down by investigators on suspicion of employing undocumented women. Since selling her original spa, she has founded a lobbying business fairly openly selling access to Trump during Mar-a-Lago weekends. Did he know about that?

(Incidentally, Googling “Trump; Kraft” will bring all this up on Mother Jones and other websites, including the Miami Herald, which seems to have broken the story in the first place as its reporting is extensively quoted with little attribution elsewhere.)

The story reminds us however of a previous exposé in The Daily Kos, regarding Trump’s New York model agency in the 1990s and a string of under-age, ‘size-zero’ models imported as undocumented migrant workers from Eastern Europe; some of whom may have ended up at another agency owned by notorious pedophile and “man about town”, John Casablancas, a “friend” of Trump’s – along with his 14-year-old daughter, Ivanka.

That line about “charges that include human trafficking, racketeering and money laundering” therefore gains a certain resonance in the light of The Pumpkin’s lead story, above, that the Southern District court of New York is considering invoking the RICO anti-racketeering Act to enhance their powers to investigate the Trump Organization and its officers – among them, his children.

For here is a direct connection apparently between Trump’s operation and another family network in Florida accused of involvement in what look remarkably like organized criminal activities, as listed in both hearings. The Herald reports:

“Facebook is covered in photos of (Yang) standing with President Trump, his two sons, Eric and Donald Jr., Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Rick Scott, Sarah Palin, the president’s campaign manager and an assortment of other high-level Republican operators.”

While she was also photographed alongside Trump with Kraft at a Patriots’ party at Mar-a-Lago.

The Pumpkin has long wondered, and publicly posed the question wherever able, about Trump’s apparent obsession over images of young women with their hands bound and tape over their mouths, bleeding from the eyes, etc. It’s something he frequently alludes to during his rambling campaign speeches about immigrants, traffickers and gang crime.

It may be an image he got from a movie. In a recent speech to his MAGA dumbfucks in El Paso, he recounted as entirely truthful, a completely fictitious scene involving migrants on the border that he had most probably seen in a film, as several keen cinéastes have pointed out. So that could be the most probable explanation for his flashbacks to girls being kidnapped, tortured and even murdered. He saw it in a movie.

What kind of movies does the president watch?

The other explanation doesn’t bear thinking about. But it’s probably all just innocent fun. As The Kos optimistically concludes:

“If nothing else, it shows just how easy it is to buy access, and that should be troubling to us all.”

 

A voice from the dead

A six-week old embryo in Alabama is suing a 16 year-old-girl for aborting it.

Using a new ‘personhood’ law pushed through the legislature by an anti-abortion group, 19-year-old Ryan Magers has brought a joint action together with his putative, never-to-be born son or daughter against his unnamed former girlfriend, the family planning clinic AND the pharmaceutical company that made the pill, for infringing his paternal rights.

No-one is saying who put this little shit up to it, he’s unemployed and can’t afford a lawsuit, but the girl, who was underage at the time and now faces an uncertain future as she has been named in court as “the Mother” is insistent she did not consent to sex. The inchoate bundle of cells she expelled is being named in the case as “Baby Roe”.

It’s not a baby. She’s not a mother. Ryan is not a father. But he is a rapist, and the Alabama court system appears not to care about that part.

It’s the first case of its kind and if the judge rules in favour of the plaintiff it’ll set a troubling precedent in terms of male rights over women’s bodies.

Great news on International Women’s Day. But make no mistake:

The Evangelicals and the Trump Judges are coming for you. (Story: Jill Filipovic, in The Guardian)

 

“We truly live in a world spiralling into madness and the dark.”

Eat shit, dystopians

“Washington’s ambassador to the UK has defended the US’s approach to food hygiene and farming. Criticism of US food standards was ‘designed to reduce not increase trade’,” Woody Johnson told the BBC. “Mr Johnson said the UK should accept American meat as part of a post-Brexit trade deal. ‘To get a robust trade arrangement, that lifts all boats, it has to include farming and farm products,’ he said.”

If that sounds reasonable, The Pumpkin would like to refer you to an excellent piece written for The Guardian this morning by Mr George ‘Useless’ Eustice, the recently resigned Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, on the subject of America’s antediluvian farming practices.

It’s not for the squeamish.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/06/us-chlorinated-chicken-trade-deal-agriculture

Mr Eustice, a farming MP who has quit his post over the usual Brexit disagreements, nevertheless makes some very robust points. Britain was largely responsible, he argues, for raising all the boats in the EU when it comes to more humane farming practices, clearer food labelling and product hygiene.

Are we going to throw all that away to become part of the virtually unregulated Big Food production racket? (He doesn’t mention the Chicago mafia, but the huge US food conglomerates and their lackadaisical attitudes to animal welfare, consumer protection and pollution runoff have mostly grown out of the criminal monopolies and union abuses of the 1920s.)

Well, it’s a good question, George. If you don’t believe we should be bullied into accepting cheap industrialized food dumped on us from the USA, why did you vote to leave the EU, you dismal shit-shoveller? What else did you think would happen? Farmers are committing suicide in droves already because of what you’ve done.

And if there is one thing in your article it might be possible to doubt, it is the optimistic assertion that the Yanks (their meat-producers’ cabal already seeking entry by the back door of the Institute for Economic Reform, parent of the treasonous Parliamentary conspiracy known as Jacobin Irish-Mogg’s European Research Group – are you starting to twig what’s been going on, you Leavers?) are going to accept our rules and regulations.

Yet you are well spoken of in farming circles. We truly live in a world spiralling into madness and the dark.

Britain should tell Robert Wood “Woody” Woodpecker 1V Johnson to go fuck a chlorinated chicken. What does this overprivileged, aristocratic scion of a baby-powder dynasty know about UK/EU food standards and farming, anyway?

How dare he come over here and order us that it’s shit or bust as far as a post-Brexit trade deal with his failing country goes? Is this their subtle way of negotiating? Are we going to accept being a directly ruled province of the criminal US empire and go down the pan with them?

Also, kindly note one detail of Johnson’s remarks. He says: ‘farming AND farm products’. In other words, we don’t just have to take their chemically supplemented, mechanically rendered horseflesh in our shops, to accept the millions of extra food-miles needed to turn us all into gross, waddling blimps and give us endemic cancer and irritable bowel syndrome to keep the US healthcare corporations with which Mr Johnson will no doubt order us next to replace the NHS, happy.

No, we have to accept their “farming” too – i.e. submit to allowing US producers to set up their black-site animal torture-factories in leafy Britain, without submitting to UK/EU regulatory standards; putting UK producers out of business.

No, we’re proud Britons! Oh, oh yes, right, sorry….

It seems to The Pumpkin that so much about America still smacks of the early-20th century: its abusive labor laws, its collapsing infrastructure, its rigged Tammany Hall elections, its casual racist brutalities, its isolationism, its intolerance of any hint of social co-operation (a huge threat to corporate interests) – the ignorance and fear of its citizens, the corruption, racism and institutionalized criminalities of its rotten system of governance; its flag-shagging, God-bothering hypocrisies; its rapacious business culture, its childlike militarism; its desperately limited, fiber-free diet.

Which is why I voted not to leave the EU rather than be dragged screaming into the nightmare of Trumpworld. Could you not see this coming, you pointless, half-witted Leavers swiping kiddie porn day and night, on your piss-stained, pay-nothing-now, sale-bargain sofas, guzzling your fucking giant bargain buckets of lardy chickenshit in roomsful of discarded £4 Primark sweaters?

Welcome to dystopia.

 

Footnote:

A Matter of National Pride

The American Cancer Society says the jury’s very much out on baby powder. But a New York Times article last December describes how Johnson & Johnson has for many years been using lobbyists to fight a desperate rearguard action to convince American mothers that their talc product is free from carcinogenic asbestos contamination; which it possibly isn’t.

“In one instance, Johnson & Johnson demanded that the government block unfavorable findings from being made public. An executive ultimately won assurances from an official at the Food and Drug Administration that the findings would be issued only ‘over my dead body,’ a memo summarizing the meeting said.”

Currently, there are 12 THOUSAND lawsuits pending against billionaire Ambassador Woody Hardon’s family business. No wonder he seems particularly sensitive to criticisms of safety standards in the US factory farming industry. It’s a matter of national pride.

http://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/14/business/baby-powder-asbestos-johnson-johnson.html?mc=contentSEintl&ad-keywords=IntlAudDev&gclid=CjwKCAiA_P3jBRAqEiwAZyWWaNLAPA–AvDWSFF6jt4cYnGxjQDyfLOkpHCPIbB03mOg60PebEUa3xoCAjgQAvD_BwE

 

GW: Ooh, what a spin I’m in

USA: The Weather Channel reports, the contiguous USA (that’s the big bit without the colonies) had its wettest ever winter season (December to March). Averaged over the whole country, they’ve had more than 9 inches of rain (31 inches over the whole year, thanks to Hurricane Florence), with local rainfall and snowfall records set in many places; and the second wettest ever February. It’s never been wetter before in Tennessee. Nome, Alaska held the snowfall record with 69 inches. Despite all that, thanks to a weak El Niño, a warmer December and a Top 10 warm winter in the southeastern states it has still only been the 38th warmest of the past 124 winters.

This may sound familiar, however: “Another powerful low-pressure system will track across the Lower 48 late this week and into the weekend, bringing snow and wind from the West into the Plains and Midwest and a risk of severe thunderstorms to the South.” (Forecast, 6 March). Winter ain’t done yet. Before and after photos of the devastation caused by the monster EF-4 hurricane that tore through Lee County, Alabama last week killing 23 people, can be seen at weather.com/storms/tornado/news/2019-03-05-before-and-after-images-tornado-damage-alabama?cm_ven=wu_videos?cm_ven=hp-slot-3.

Africa: Heavy rains in southern and central parts of Malawi have caused flooding and rivers to overflow, in particular the Shire River in Chikwawa, where local media say 6 people have died and many more are missing in flash floods and river flooding after 160mm of rain fell in one day. (Floodlist)

Indonesia: Heavy rain on Flores Island caused flooding and landslides in West Manggarai Regency early on 7 March. At least 2 people have died, 6 are still missing and 3 reported injured. (Floodlist) There’s also flooding in Java.

Arctic: As we head into spring in the northern hemisphere, Arctic sea ice “Extent (extent is not volume, by the way) for February 2019 averaged 14.40 million square kilometers (5.56 million square miles). This was 900,000 square kilometers (347,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average extent. For the Arctic as a whole, 2019 tied with 2015 for the 7th lowest average February extent in the 1979 to 2019 satellite record.” (US National Snow, Ice and Data Center) BBC reports, Greenland is getting too much rain in winter when it should be snowing, says a new report.

Antarctic: More shocking are the satellite images for the South Pole, revealing an enormous loss of ice that was in extent in January the third lowest since 1981, but in concentration visibly thinning everywhere. “Across the entire continent, there are more than 750,000 square miles of sea ice missing, a record deficit for this time of year. Antarctica will keep shedding sea ice for about another six weeks or so, and is currently on pace to drop far below the all-time record low set in 2016.” (Grist, 3 Jan) The Ross Ice Shelf retreated a month before it usually does. Loss of sea ice leads to shelf collapse, allowing the major glaciers to slip into the sea. A global rise of 3 meters would follow, if they all did.

 

Ending it all down under

Australia: Readers, Spammers etc. will be broadly aware that the climate in Australia has crashed spectacularly. Record heatwaves both for temperature and duration, record floods, cyclones, record wildfires – economic damage, increasing food (and wine!) production problems, major loss of wildlife, another vast area of the Great Barrier coral reef bleached beyond recovery. All these have occurred in the past year.

It’s coming into autumn now and the furthestmost southerly part of Australia, the part nearest the Antarctic – the island of Tasmania – has had an appalling summer of fires rampaging through its unique ancestral forest, while only two days ago, 5 March, the temperature exceeded 39 degrees C.

Controversy over the failed policies of successive governments to take more than a passing interest in these problems grinds on. It’s currently focussed on this phantom “emissions reduction fund” of AU$2bn set up in 2009, that appears to have done precisely nothing as emissions continue to rise, but which has become a political football. Most recently, the Morrison government decided to rename it the “climate solutions package” – from which it has already made a big grant to global mining company RTZ to operate a new diesel-fired power plant up in Arnhemland, adding to emissions.

Finagling of “carry-over” carbon credits has also allowed the government to pretend they’re making progress on meeting their Paris targets by contributing years of past credits – which are earned by selling your excess emissions to less polluting countries – under the old Kyoto agreement, to the current account balance. In the meantime, Australian ministers of the bluffer sort continue to ridicule the science behind climate change, and to promote the country’s main source of energy: no, not vast amounts of free sunlight – coal.

Now there’s a report in The Guardian that possibly explains why they’re continuing with this suicide mission. Lobbyists in Australia have been secretly hurling money into the blazing reactor of official denial and indifference:

“The multinational mining giant Glencore spent millions bankrolling a secret, globally coordinated campaign to prop up coal demand by undermining environmental activists, influencing politicians and spreading sophisticated pro-coal messaging on social media. An investigation by Guardian Australia can reveal the covert campaign, dubbed “Project Caesar”, was orchestrated by world-renowned political operatives at the C|T Group, the firm founded by Sir Lynton Crosby (the genius behind Theresa May’s 2017 ‘Strong and stable’ election trainwreck) and Mark Textor.”

The $7 million campaign has used personalized social media messaging and conventional media to target disinformation – fake news – aimed at undermining environmental organizations such as Greenpeace and companies promoting renewables, and “helped set up online grassroots groups to push positive messaging about clean coal technology”. Or, as Glencore’s spokesmouth puts it: “The project’s objective was to convey simple facts about coal and in particular to counter misinformation from environmental activists.”

I don’t know about you, but your old Granny is warming to the idea that the only solution to these sick bastards and their bottomless pockets the world over is extreme personal violence.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/mar/07/revealed-glencore-bankrolled-covert-campaign-to-prop-up-coal

The Pumpkin – Issue 76: Wtf is Trump’s emergency about?… Her justice rewards #2… Is another financial crash coming?… Not with a bang, but with a fart… GW: Open the floodgates of Heaven

Theresa May

“Hahaha! Now I am invisible, you shall see my backstop wall has a frontstop fence!”

(Photo: apologies to Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty)

Quote of the Week:

“Our campaign is about taking on the special interests that dominate our economic and political life. I’m talking about Wall Street, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry, the military industrial complex, the private prison industry, and the large multinational corporations that exert such an enormous influence over our lives.” – Senator Bernie Sanders, announcing that he is running for the White House again.

And with that list, he expects to be around in 2020? Anyway, his campaign raised $1m in pledges in the first three hours, and the filthy rich Republicans are already screaming “Socialist!”, and “Tax!”, so that’s a start.

Meanwhile, on the subject of tax, Alabama newspaper editor Bedloe Sutton has been criticized for publishing an editorial calling on the Ku Klux Klan to rise up and ride to Washington armed with hemp ropes and lynch any tax-raising Democrats they find there. He says he’s absolutely serious.

Should be an exciting two years.

 

Wtf is Trump’s emergency about?

“The saying goes that in any authoritarian society ‘the leader can never be trusted, but he must always be believed’.”

The central enigma of Trump, The Pumpkin believes, commands us to decide: is he just a self-deluding minor-criminal buffoon; an inarticulate, narcissistic sociopath; an under-educated, incurious, made-for-TV business tycoon teetering on the fragile edge of sanity, or does some genuinely darker purpose lurk beneath that bullish exterior and his often brutal ‘zero-sum’ view of a transactional universe, in which you are either a winner or a loser – on his terms?

Mussolini, or Hitler?

In that rather blunt analogy, we always assume that Mussolini was the Opera Buffo character, the preening, preposterous, not-so scary spaghetti monster – and Hitler, the deadly, all-devouring snake. But we forget that it was Mussolini who is credited as the inventor of modern fascism. He at least had an -ism to work with! But what did Hitler have?

The sad death at 77 from colonic cancer of the Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, who played Hitler during his last days in the brilliant film “Downfall”, has brought to light a similar conundrum to that of the Trump phenomenon. After spending months researching the character, Ganz remarked, he had only the mannerisms. He still had no idea of what really made Hitler tick.

And that’s the problem with self-proclaimed “leaders”. There may well be nothing at all beneath the surface, a yawning space to be filled only by a terrible hunger for universal approbation and a mad belief, as in Louis 1Vth’s cracker motto: “L’État, c’est moi!” (“I am the State”), in one’s own historic inevitability. A void into which historians may pour whatever conclusions they like.

The process of transition from democracy to autocracy – and then tyranny – invariably proceeds through seeing, one stage at a time, how much one can get away with.

Whereas most politicians project their power, devoid of soul the true authoritarian – the psychopath – insatiably ingests his.

Writing on Open Democracy, Julian de Madeiros answers the question in rather starker terms than the usual parade of MSNBC pundits and late-show comedians imagining that Trump is merely off his rocker:

” …the Italian scholar Giorgio Agamben defines totalitarianism as ‘the establishment, by means of a State of Exception, of a legal civil war that allows for the elimination not only of political adversaries, but of entire categories of citizens who for some reason cannot be integrated into our political system.’ Only then, and for this purpose, can a genuine state of emergency be imposed. The state of exception functions to normalize and integrate the necessary legal framework to enact a wholesale reactionary conspiratorial politics. This is more than just mere scapegoating, it is the internalization of extra-legal processes into the legitimization of the regime itself.”

http://www.opendemocracy.net/julian-de-medeiros/wall-isn-t-state-of-emergency-but-state-of-exception?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=b414e839a5-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-b414e839a5-408090269

And after havering and blustering for weeks, having tried and failed to achieve what everyone else sees as a vain and pointless project, even to the extent of trying out his powers to shut down government, careless of the suffering it caused to thousands, President Trump has moved to bypass the normal budgetary control vested in Congress through the declaration of a State of Exception to counter a so-called emergency which even he recognizes does not exist; is his own proud invention.

In a long, rambling and unscripted dissertation on Thursday night, a frequently snivelling Trump publicly admitted, whether by accident, design or an excess of self-confidence is hard to tell, that he had made up the story of an “invasion” of the southern border by criminal migrant elements – brown people – because if he were not allowed to fulfil his expedient campaign promise to “build the wall”, he would be less likely to win a second term in office.

It’s an admission that may well lose his case for him in courts up and down the land; until, as he has also said, it reaches a supreme court packed with his placemen, where he expects to win. For the legal basis on which he has declared an emergency is shaky; all the more so if there is clearly no emergency, which he has as good as admitted there isn’t.

And then he went off to Mar a Lago to cheat at golf for three days.

Is this his Reichstag moment?

To build his wall, or fence, or physical barrier, that he fantasizes he has already begun doing, he now proposes to take the money the democratically elected Congress is refusing him, whether they like it or not – whether 65% of disapproving American taxpayers like it or not – by assuming powers to override the legislature and to force the Pentagon – which is under the President’s control as Commander-in-Chief – to pay for it, and to provide the labor needed by diverting the Corps of Engineers from their normal duties of preventing floods and suchlike.

So, yet again, we are trapped in the same conundrum as before. Is he doing this just to get his silly wall built, this vanity project that nobody, not even he, believes will have the prophylactic effects on crime and illegal immigration he says it will? Just to get himself re-elected?

Or is he doing it because it sets a precedent that could lead to him assuming absolute powers to, for instance, fire Mueller, close down the mainstream media, suspend habeas corpus and inconvenient parts of the Constitution, dissolve Congress, put soldiers on the streets of American cities and lock-up his critics and political opponents?

And what would he gain from any of that? (The real question is, what would his billionaire backers, Evangelical so-called Christians, his disappointed Confederate supporters and President Putin gain?)

While America hovers in this climate of uncertainty, because – well, why would you want to believe your country was being taken over by an insane megalomaniac armed with the nuclear codes? – we tend to overlook that on the day he announced his State of Exception, new judicial decisions about several of his former henchmen were being handed down, that substantially increased the state of legal jeopardy in which Mr Trump has lived precariously for the past two years.

The President is noted for his adroitness at diverting accusations of malfeasance onto others, or simply bullying or, in the last resort, buying his way out of trouble. He has got away with it throughout his career, and nothing he has done since occupying the White House on a minority vote in the country suggests that his habits have changed one whit.

So it may be that his latest actions are neither those of a comic bull in a china shop, nor a big step towards achieving the simple-minded dictatorship he favors as a model of pain-free governance; but are yet another entertaining smokescreen among many he continues to generate, to divert the media’s attention away from the investigations which law enforcement officers are struggling to pull together into a coherent set of indictments against Trump and his family.

In passing, it was barely noticed too that his pick for the new Attorney-General of the United States, Mr William Barr, was confirmed yesterday in the Senate.

Mr Barr, a veteran of the Bush neo-con presidency, is reportedly an entirely reliable figure who will do nothing to impede the process of investigation by the Special Counsel – of whom he has charge – or of the FBI working at the behest of various District Courts looking into, for instance, Trump’s supersized inaugural fund: where it came from, and whatever happened to the spare change – reliably reported to be somewhere north of $60 million?

But danger-spotters will consider the many brutal remarks Trump tweeted about Barr’s hapless predecessor, the Georgia gnome, (my God, one has almost forgotten his name already!) Jefferson “Jeff” Beauregard Sessions 111 – and conclude that Mr Trump is hardly likely to nominate anyone whose personal loyalty is not assured: “L’État” being “lui”, as it were….

While Barr told the Senate hearing he believed it was “vitally important” that Robert Mueller be allowed to complete his investigation, it is less certain that once he has, Mr Barr – a noted Trump supporter who is not keen on the idea of locking-up sitting presidents – will not simply shut down debate about its findings by refusing to allow the final report to be published or sent to Congress, in full or in part.

There is, as has been said, more than one way to skin a cat; or for a rogue President, an outlier on the graph of bad hombres, to achieve an ambition to discredit and dismantle all the supposedly liberal, democratic institutions he perceives as impediments to his and his supporters’ crude, authoritarian tendencies.

What his actual ambition is, however, is still unclear to anyone other than his increasingly fanatical followers, the “Cult45” as they’ve been dubbed, who are in no doubt that he has been sent by God to make America white again. As De Medeiros writes, “The saying goes that in any authoritarian society ‘the leader can never be trusted, but he must always be believed’.”

And Mr Trump has been skilful in creating for his diehard base, a world of belief in which observable facts and rational propositions are subordinated to magical thinking and the will of the crowd.

More Hitler than Mussolini, possibly.

 

Let them out!

Mr Trump is nothing if not a hypocrite in a suit.

At the same time as he is insisting that European countries must take back their own self-exiled ISIS extremists from captivity in Syria and Iraq, he has obstinately refused for two and a half years to release the last five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay who have long been cleared for release by military tribunals.

Fat wanker.

 

Her justice rewards #2

Possibly the most abstruse legal case in recent history ended last year when – Politico reported – a judge threw out a slander claim against Hillary Clinton over her alleged use of a personal email server.

All through the Trump election campaign – all through, that is, AFTER the notorious 6 June, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower to obtain “dirt” on Clinton from the Russians – the orange candidate was exhorting his hysterical dumbfucks to “Lock her up!”. And they’re still doing it.

The Pumpkin was never quite sure why, but it seems to relate to this case.

It was because a tranche of thousands of deleted emails had been recovered, as we now know by a Russian intelligence hacking operation acting in (illegal) concert with the Wikileaks website. Among them were emails relating to statements made by President Obama and Secretary Clinton about the murders in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 of the American ambassador and three of his staff.

The official line was that the murders were inadvertent and carried out by a mob inflamed by (as it happens, false) reports of a US-made movie trailer insulting the Prophet, that attacked the consulate, where the ambassador just happened to be at the time, visiting Libya’s second wartorn city.

Ultimately it turned out from CIA reports that the attack had been deliberately planned and carried out by a Jihadi militia under cover of the rioting. Had the State Department had advance warning but said nothing, as the Ambassador entered the trap?

Somehow, lawyers for the families of two of the dead Americans made a case that a) the emails were illegal, because of Clinton’s improper use of a non-official channel, and b) the change to the official story was communicated in such a way as to slander the dead men and defame their families.

It was said that the original storyline had been made up so as not to damage Obama’s chances in his campaign to get elected for a second term.

Imported by Trump’s organizers to testify onstage at a rally as victims of “Crooked Hillary” and her plain dishonesty, the parents had themselves launched an emotional attack on Clinton, alleging that as Secretary of State she had somehow failed to protect their “children” (grown men, State department security people).

They were demanding damages, claiming that Clinton had slandered them in response to their claims that she had acted irresponsibly or even illegally – something for which U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that there was absolutely no evidence.

Judge Jackson’s ruling also discounted the use of the private email server as any sort of factor in the case. But her ruling in fact hinged on a technicality: that if the parents were going to demand financial compensation, they had failed to say so early enough in the case.

The appellants have reacted angrily, accusing Judge Jackson of political bias. Yet The Pumpkin might mildly observe, the bias appears to be all on the side of the appellants’ attorneys, who have a history of going after the Clintons in what has been said to be “thousands” of lawsuits since the 1990s.

In a possibly inflammatory and certainly contemptuous statement, attorney Larry Klayman claims that the judge:

“clearly put politics and ahead of her oath of office as a judge to administer to the law in a neutral unbiased way … Judge Jackson, who is an Obama appointee and a Democrat, was clearly protecting Mrs. Clinton and this intellectually dishonest decision will be appealed. My clients are confident of success,” Klayman said. (Politico report)

Described as “pathologically litigious”, and founder of a libertarian group known as the Freedom Foundation, Klayman is said to be a “birther” conspiracy theorist who once attempted to have President Obama deported as a non-citizen.

It seems tragic that the parents of the dead Americans should have allowed themselves to fall into the clutches of this obviously eccentric and grandstanding charlatan, who has been banned from a number of courtrooms around the country.

But despite last year’s ruling, Trump continues to conflate his attacks on Clinton and the FBI in tweet after tweet, claiming the entire law enforcement apparatus of the country and – whenever he loses a case – the judiciary are involved in a political conspiracy against him, funded by the official opposition.

This year-old ruling may come into play shortly, as it is Judge Berman Jackson who has tried the cases against Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort, and is being asked to slap a 24-year sentence on the 70-year-old this week for decades of financial crimes and his attempts to dupe the Mueller investigation. Rumors of a Presidential pardon have been swirling. But Mr Bad Deeds is out of town, grandstanding with the avunculicide, the loveable roly-poly Kim Jong-un.

 

Is another financial crash coming?

Despite his claims of an economic miracle, the budget deficit of the USA has increased since Trump took office from 19.2 trillion dollars in 2016 to almost 23 trillion this year. He has himself in the past identified $24 trillion as the “point of no return”, i.e. the point at which the debt finally becomes unrepayable, ever, and so is to be defaulted on.

Although Trump’s past sayings are never a reliable guide to his future fantasies.

The six-times bankrupt loser does not care: massive deficits, the bigger the better, are how you run a business, and if anyone complains, or asks for their money back, you sue ’em. And in the case of entire countries, well, invade and take the oil seems to be the simple philosophy.

It’s never been a better time to be a lawyer in the USA. In addition to the – I’m taking these figures off the top of my head but they’re about right – 18 separate criminal investigations, Trump is also fighting over three THOUSAND civil suits, pro and con.

Nor, judging on the evidence of the things he has tweeted or spoken about in any of his famous “word salad” interviews, can Trump identify the technical differences between the budget deficit (i.e. government spending set against tax revenues), the trade gap (i.e. overall money-in, money-out in trade in goods and services with other countries), and the stockmarket (i.e. overall value of shares in a select number of traded public companies). To Trump, it’s all his money to spend as he likes.

So it may come as no surprise that increasing numbers of US economists are becoming alarmed.

Seven million Americans are reportedly at least three months behind on their car payments. Millions of those “sub-prime” borrowers of lease finance will also have credit-card debts and mortgages they can’t finance either, which is uncomfortably reminiscent of the situation in 2007 before the banks stopped lending to one another and several went belly-up, requiring $trillions in rescue funding.

For these folks, taxes have risen around 10 per cent this year, thanks to the Trump “reforms” they stupidly voted for, imagining (while billionaires trousered more billions) that a small, one-off reduction last year was for always.

Now why did they think that, we wonder?

Oh, could it be the President lied to them?

 

Not with a bang, but with a fart

“What we are now witnessing is extremely worrying,” said one of the paper’s lead authors, Professor Euan Nisbet of Royal Holloway, University of London. “It is particularly alarming because we are still not sure why atmospheric methane levels are rising across the planet.”

Duh!

The climate disruption story has been bedevilled by the lunacy of scientific silos; over-specialization leading to a crazy kind of reductionism that promotes separate, individual studies while occluding the much more alarming “big picture”.

Maybe the fact that the Arctic region especially has for several years been experiencing huge temperature anomalies, heat resulting in outgassing from thawing permafrost swamps, kaarst lakes and clumps of frozen methane on the shallow seabed of the East Arctic Siberian shelf, and the vast reserves that lie beneath, might have something to do with it?

Like the Arctic News blogspot scientists have been trying to say for the past four years?

But the report from the American Geophysical Union, at least those morsels mentioned in the press, signally fails to make any mention of this Arctic methane, or indeed fracking operations in Colorado, blaming instead cattle ranching and African swamps! Are these clever people idiots, or is there a fault with the reporting?

But at least the news of a methane crisis has finally come to the attention of scientists with access to mainstream media, as the story appears in today’s Observer newspaper, albeit on page 18; and a few people might start to take notice. CO2 buildup might well prove terminal by 2100, but a blowout of 500 gigatonnes of Arctic methane would mean curtains within months.

To date, only carbon dioxide has been seen as the villain, but it is carbon dioxide that is generating the warming that is freeing the methane, which is on average 60 times more potent a greenhouse gas and thus, the most important component of one of those rather important ‘feedback loops’ the recent IPCC report studiously ignored.

Deep breath, everybody….

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/17/methane-levels-sharp-rise-threaten-paris-climate-agreement

 

GW: Open the floodgates of Heaven

Greece: A search is still underway for 4 people missing, presumed drowned after their vehicle was swept away in flash flooding near Heraklion, Crete. “Heavy rain had affected the island over the last few days.  Some areas recorded around 400mm of rain between 12 and 17 February.” (Floodlist)

Zimbabwe: Many are thought to have drowned in a flooded mine after a dam wall collapsed near the town of Kidoma on 12 Feb. Elsewhere, 2 people were drowned in flooding in Masvingo province. The national weather service reported record rainfall of 203 mm in 24 hours, 13 to 14 February, breaking the previous high of 98 mm set in 1977. (Floodlist report)

USA: And the misery continues. Pulses of more prolonged, heavy rain are forecast for most of the week across the southern midwest, with widespread risk of flash- and river-flooding. Parts of Tennessee could see 7 to 10 inches of rain in the next few days. “The Storm Prediction Center has already issued a Day 6 outlook for potential severe weather on Saturday across this region, noting the possibility of tornado-favorable conditions. Long-range models are suggesting that at least one more round of heavy rain could affect the South early next week before February draws to a close.” (Wunderground)

Australia: “Tropical Cyclone Oma is tracking towards NE Australia after grazing New Caledonia. The Category 1 system currently packs peak sustained winds of 85 mph (137 km/h).” (Severe-weather.eu) A more recent update has Oma as a very wide, slow-moving Cat 3 Typhoon with a well-formed eye, one of the worst kind, although its track is uncertain. “Meteorologists can’t rule out the chance that Oma will cross the Queensland coast somewhere in the south-east, possibly on the weekend.” (MyGC.com.au) A 4-6 meter tidal surge is predicted. 2 tourists, one French, one British, have gone missing from a beach in Brisbane where sea conditions are already said to be treacherous.

UK: following last week’s warm spell, temperatures are set to dip a little but are expected to be as high as 20C, 68F in places by next weekend – possibly beating the 1998 record of 19.7C (Express). Certainly the official forecasts are for quite a warm weekend. Pinch yourself, it’s still February. Severe-weather.eu predicts that this plume of “incredibly warm” air coming up from western Europe will stretch all the way through Scandinavia into the Arctic and persist through next week.

Iceland: “A very intense cyclone (a so-called ‘bombogenesis’ cyclone or weather bomb) will develop across the North Atlantic later today and move towards Iceland and Greenland tomorrow and on Thursday (20-21 Feb.). A violent windstorm will result from this cyclone, bringing extremely severe winds in excess of 150 km/h as well as significant wave heights up to 15 metres.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser, biggest in the park, goes off for the 6th time this year (record 32 times last year). Selected seismometer data still being omitted from public records; magma still rising. A M3.2 earthquake was recorded inside the park, Sunday (Mary Greeley).

The Pumpkin – Issue 73: He’s gone completely nuts… The Dunning Kruger Effect strikes again… Straight thinking… It’s something in the air… GW 2019, and the beast goes on….

“No-one has as much hair as me. I have the greatest hair of any president, maybe in history. I am ordering a complete shutdown of hair until we know what the hell is going on.” Serenaded by a barbershop quartet, Trump adopts the bald approach and shaves the day.

He’s gone completely nuts

He’s been unable to persuade House Leader Nancy Pelosi that she’s really the one who is causing the shutdown of large parts of the government, putting 800 thousand employees on garden leave or forcing them to work unpaid for the last two weeks, because the Democrats won’t vote funding for the wall.

It’s a ploy for which he is on video recently saying he takes full responsibility. But now he doesn’t.

Following their meeting, the madman declared that he is prepared to shut the government down “for months or years if necessary” and call a State of Emergency to enable the army to take over the running of essential services, if he does not get his $8 billion for the border wall. He will order the Corps of Engineers to build it, using contingency funds from the military budget.

Supported by the Republican leader in the Senate, the creepy old slimeball Mitch McConnell,  a supine Trumpsucker who would kill his own grandchildren to save the profound corruption wing of the party, Trump has in effect declared war on the House of Representatives, now with a substantial Democrat majority, and on the US Government.

Pundits are gauging his mood and think that he is probably bluffing, but the threat to declare a State of Emergency is something they have been fearing since he was first elected.

It would be a first step towards achieving the absolute authority Trump craves. Most of the key positions in his cabinet are currently filled by “acting” executives he can replace at will. He has no legal team capable of defending him, so some drastic action is required.

Declaring martial law and assuming executive powers would allow him to round up and imprison his political opponents and detractors, as he has many times threatened to do, without trial.

He could shut down the media, and suspend the Justice Department, ordering all investigations into his and his family’s extensive criminal activities and the literally hundreds of civil suits outstanding against him be stopped in their tracks.

It’s not about the wall, it’s about Mueller.

In case you think it’s an exaggeration to say he has truly gone out of his mind, try this:

 

The Dunning-Kruger Effect strikes again

“How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time, done nothing wrong (no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded), had the most successful first two years of any president, and is the most popular Republican in party history 93%?”

Trump responds with a tweet to an ill-advised criticism in the House, praising himself to the skies. Does he really believe this nonsense? Because it’s all a complete fantasy. That paragraph alone contains five provable lies.

Psychologists, Drs Dunning and Kruger came up in the late ’90s with a fascinating theory: some people are too stupid to know how stupid they are, thus assuming wrongly that they know more than anyone else.

We’ve all heard Trump boasting that he knows more than his generals about dealing with ISIS, and more about tax than any accountant (except, obviously, his own). He admitted ruefully that the dreadful US healthcare system that he had told MAGA rallies from Hicksville to Okeefenokee he would fix in a heartbeat was in fact “complicated”. Who knew? He knows all about nuclear science because he had an uncle who worked for NASA. He invented the phrase “fake news”, that maybe nobody had ever used before. All of the media his public image totally depends on, that fantasy that he is a successful billionaire business mogul, is “fake” and “failing” – “enemies of the people”. The entire criminal justice system from the failing FBI to the disloyal Justice Department is a Democrat conspiracy against him.

He understands the polls “a lot better” than many pollsters, which is just as well because they’re giving him only 34% approval for the job he’s not doing well, and 80% disapproval for his border wall, although he says it has overwhelming support and will keep out criminals, drugs and diseases. Border patrols, he says, are arresting ten terrorists a day; many appear to be children. Contrary to the advice of fire and forestry experts, he still insists that raking California’s forest floor regularly will prevent wildfires, which were made worse by the authorities syphoning all the available water off and sending it to the Pacific.

Just two days ago, he commented that technology was something he knew more about than anyone else. He’s making Medicare stronger for all while defunding the program to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, including himself. Puerto Rico is an island surrounded by lots of “ocean water”, he informed us he had just learned, while 3,000 people did not die in the botched aftermath of Hurricane Maria, that figure from research commissioned by his own administration was made up by Democrats to “make me look bad”.

”Clean coal” is, of course, coal that has been washed before burning. His inauguration crowd was visibly the biggest in history; the photographs showing a virtually deserted plaza were faked. Millions of undocumented migrants voted for Hillary Clinton, which is why he won. The Lockheed-Martin F-35 fighter, the most expensive flying weapons platform in history, which he claims to have helped design, is literally invisible, you can’t see it.

Climate change may be a hoax, “many scientists have said it’s a hoax” (98% of the world’s scientists must be complicit in a 140-year-old hoax then, because they all say it’s real, as do Exxon-Mobil and Trump’s own science policy department), “It may be a hoax, I don’t know”… (he always qualifies his more questionable assertions in such a way as to suggest he would be right if only you believed it too….)

The recent vertiginous slide in the stock market is “just a blip” and all the fault of the Federal Reserve bank (although he caused it by his winnable “trade war” with China, having taken credit for the previous rise that was due to the policies of the previous administration)… While his tariffs that are “bringing back millions of American jobs” and his assaults on migrant workers are causing shutdowns and layoffs and farm bankruptcies….

For many more totally false and self-aggrandizing assertions, try: http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/statements/byruling/false/

His verified untruths now running at over eight a day, Trump is clearly very confident in the amazing breadth and depth of his knowledge, but sadly none of it turns out to have much basis in fact. Some of it is expedient lying for political effect, but much more of it seems to be based in some delusionary alternative reality he inhabits.

And by his compulsive outbursts of rage tweeted against the Special Counsel enquiry, to the despair of his defense team, and his emplacement of outspoken, biased defenders within the Justice Department and the courts, he continues to implicate himself deeper and deeper in the federal crime of obstructing justice; for which he can be indicted.

Indeed, he may be one of the most profoundly stupid and ill-informed people ever to hold the office of President; carried over the line by irrepressible narcissism.

So much so, that he lacks the mental apparatus to know he’s not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, and that’s Dunning-Kruger at work. Impervious to expert advice, incapable of absorbing more than the simplest of cartoon briefings, seemingly barely able to read, his policies informed by the little yammering TV faces on Fox & Friends, from where increasingly he imports his staff appointments, he has chosen instead to assume he is the smartest person alive.

“I’m, like, a really smart person – a very stable genius,” he told a CNN reporter. He told another interviewer, without his unique brain the economy would collapse. He had earlier claimed that both Vladimir Putin and Margaret Thatcher had hailed him as a genius.

Researchers found no truth in the assertion, Trump having seized on the word in a mistranslation of a speech in which Putin described him as merely ‘colorful’.

But he’s not alone. Dunning-Kruger appears to infect many politicians. Here’s another great example:

The train now departing…

The British Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling is a very tall man with a head shaped like a lightbulb. He has been under fire all the past year for the abject failure of an attempt by the government-contracted train operating companies to reschedule their timetables in a supposedly co-ordinated manner, that led to chaos on the network with thousands of cancelled services – some trains reportedly not heading to the advertised destinations, stranding passengers miles from where they needed to be – and had to be abandoned.

It has been admitted that the failure was because no-one was in overall charge. As Grayling himself has pointed out, he is not a “railway specialist”. So it wasn’t his fault no competent individual had been appointed to oversee the complex project.

A 3% fares hike that came into effect on 1 January with no sign of improvement in the dirty, unreliable and overcrowded service has understandably pissed-off hard-pressed commuters – again. Britain has by far the most expensive train fares in Europe, per mile. Grayling says, it’s all the fault of greedy train drivers wanting more money.

Alternatively, he says, it’s because the train operators need loads of money for investment (much of it goes in executive bonuses!) – it’s the same lame excuse every year.

Either way, it’s nothing to do with him; a 140% increase in passengers being shoehorned into groaning carriages and often stranded by the endless “engineering works” or “leaves on the line”, must, he says, be proof of the popular success of the railways. Although one might conclude, it’s his failure to ensure the maintenance of the roads, the lack of parking, increasing town-center pollution charges and the ever-rising cost of city living that are driving people who live out beyond cycling distance to board the cattle-truck commuter trains in increasing numbers.

Meanwhile, the UK government has been trying to frighten rebel Conservatives in Parliament by making a huge deal out of emergency preparations for major freight delays at ports leading to shortages of food and medicine in the event that Brexit goes ahead without a formal separation agreement. Effective customs protocols and systems haven’t yet been put in place or even invented. The costs of stockpiling are rising – $120 million to date.

With less than three months to go, “Failing Grayling” as the press are calling him has played his part by handing a $19 million contract to a small, unknown company to operate additional cross-channel ferry services to speed the importation of vital supplies from France. A company that owns no ferries and has no experience of maritime freight operations. Questioned on the BBC about this perverse choice, Grayling replied that people should be pleased that he’s supporting a new British business startup – one of whose white, middle-aged male directors appears to be a hefty party donor. Plus, he had made sure they had a watertight contract (my pun, sorry.)

So the company has gone full-steam ahead and published a website, detailing its terms and conditions of business, its contract with the taxpayer, and is now being ridiculed on social media as it appears they simply cut-and-pasted a pre-written document from some fast-food supply company and accidentally omitted to re-word large sections of it.

Grayling’s watertight contract for a cross-channel supply lifeline is all about pizza delivery.

Commentators are demanding to know, how the hell does this incompetent, bungling nitwit keep his job? No-one has an answer – least of all Grayling, who continues to show a total lack of self-awareness as he blunders from one ministerial post to another, trailing chaos in his wake.

Yet his interviews reveal him to be a man of boundless self-confidence, and the Dunning-Kruger Effect is probably all that is carrying him through.

Like Trump, Grayling is so stupid, he doesn’t know he’s stupid.

It doesn’t bode well for all our futures.

Postscriptum, 26 May: Since the above, Grayling’s department has paid out a further £83 million in compensation to actual ferry operators or companies with ferry operating experience, who were not included in the tender process as they argue they should have been. The original contract with Seaborne Ferries has been cancelled, at full cost.

Yet you can find many people still posting comments claiming Labour is the party of financial mismanagement.

 

Straight thinking

“It would never occur to him to ask what books will be in the library, since he himself barely reads.”

“US President Donald Trump has mocked the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for funding a library in Afghanistan. Mr Trump suggested the contribution was of no use to reconstruction efforts in the country. ‘That’s like five hours of what we spend,’ the US president mocked.”

Everything this dumb bastard says or tweets is based on the crudest of transactional analyses.

The idea that libraries are educational, civilizing influences and have been since writing was invented would never occur to him as a developmental tool, so crudely fashioned is his reptilian brain.

Since he has none, the moronic Trump does not value knowledge; does not comprehend – cannot comprehend – the priceless nature of learning to an isolated tribal country like Afghanistan, that has been at war for decades and is increasingly controlled by puritanical, religious primitives almost as crude and reactionary as the President of the United States and his Evangelical base.

It would never occur to him to ask what books will be in the library, since he can himself barely read and has no interest in doing so.

Will there be fiction, to open up new horizons and introduce stimulating creative ideas? Poetry? Will there be a reservoir of the region’s long history, promoting ideals of courage and sacrifice that can be built on? The foundation stories of the nation? Or will there be textbooks, the basic building-blocks of learning, spreading enlightenment, internationalism and the roots of future value-creating innovation? Will the books help to spread the ideas of liberal democracy; bring healing and reconciliation to a fractured nation? Will they teach engineering, economics, medical science and technology? Or will the books be all of these and more?

He doesn’t give a fuck.

He’s the president, and you’re not.

A library – a room full of dumb old books – is just not expensive enough to compare with all those $trillions and lives both military and civilian successive US administrations since 9/11 have wasted pursuing the Great Game, that he thinks should be paid back in treasure. As if India is somehow in debt to him personally.

But it did occur to him to praise the Russians for invading Afghanistan in 1979; a history of which, evidently, he is entirely ignorant.

Fuck Donald Trump, right to Hell.

He wouldn’t know.  He’s never read a book; not even the ones he lies constantly about having written himself. He’s just a thuggish, bullying imbecile stuffed with junk food; a Frankenstein creature cobbled together by the media out of the volumes of rotting cheeseburger that lumbering suit contains; a brain, made from congealed greed and expedient lies; a philosophy of Bannonite nihilism imposed on a mob-boss mentality that has shown an extraordinary degree of compromise and cowardice during his two years of bullshitting his way around the office of President.

A lifelong minor criminal, a cheating small businessman sanctified by a garbage TV show, now a senile buffoon who can no longer imagine how you close an umbrella.

It is possible no man has been hated as much as Donald Trump is hated, by millions of Americans aghast at his incompetence; his rudeness, sheer nastiness; and by people of sensibility around the world, for the thuggish gangsterism, childish tantrums, celebrations of ignorance, betrayal of ideals and fathomless corruption he stands for.

If as the Evangelical Christian conman, former convict and fellow borderline psychopath, Jim Bakker, says, Trump has been sent by God and must be unquestioningly obeyed, then it is surely to teach us a lesson in civics.

Never again should any sentient body of people even dare to think of electing a totally unqualified and so obviously unfit candidate merely on the grounds that you’ve seen him looking powerful and decisive on TV (you think the word “reality” in “reality show” means it’s real?), he’s a bit “different” from conventional politicians; he dares to “say what we are thinking” and takes no nonsense from so-called experts, the liberal elite.

It’s liable to be the end of your world and mine.

Because you’re not thinking straight.

 

It’s something in the air

Some years ago, the British biochemist, Dr Rupert Sheldrake proposed a strange theory: that once something had happened once, it reduced the odds against it happening again. The cosmos was capable of learning from experience.

For instance, crystals all form in the same way, once the original crystal has formed. Why? Is there some kind of cosmic energy field that arranges things so?

Learned behaviors in biological organisms too seemed to spread in a kind of contactless way, that he put down to genetic memory. Sheldrake called it the field of “morphic resonance”, and conducted an experiment at long distance, whereby pupils in the UK were set to solve a math problem that was then given to pupils in faraway Turkey, timed against a control problem both groups had already solved, to see if the Turkish pupils got any faster once the new problem had first been solved in Britain.

Sorry to disappoint, but I absolutely forget what the outcome was. Probably inconclusive. Because, of course, Sheldrake was roundly mocked and accused of practicing New Age pseudo-science by his colleagues in the biochemistry community.

Although he continues to obtain appointments to various, apparently serious, parapsychological research posts – mainly in US universities – and wins awards, his theory of morphic resonance remains unproven out on the fringes of rational science.

Except that there does seem to be a curious connection, possibly spiritual, between the UK Conservative party and the Trump so-called administration to suggest a possible proof.

While there is no direct chain of command, nevertheless the British Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, a man with a face looking as if it was created by a mildly sozzled balloon-animal entertainer at a children’s party, the second-generation son of an immigrant Pakistani bus driver, seems to have had a very similar epiphany to that of US President Donald Trump, only a few days behind.

Both men coming imminently from migrant family stock, are nevertheless committed to the same course of demonizing refugees in exchange for the bigot vote.

Javid: “…a face looking as if it was created by a mildly sozzled balloon-animal entertainer…” (Photo: James Gourley/Rex/Shutterstock)

There used to be an ad for an insurance company who claimed: “We won’t make a drama out of a crisis”. In Mr Javid’s case – he refers to himself, apparently, as “the Saj” – he has been busy over the holidays doing precisely the opposite: claiming that the attempts since the beginning of November by about 200 bedraggled Iranian migrants to cross the Channel in small inflatables amounts to a national emergency, worthy of recalling the British Navy to fight them off.

The teenage Defense Secretary, Gavin Williamson, a fresh-faced ex-fireplace salesman who pops up at every turn eagerly offering to put soldiers on the streets to quell non-existent public disorder and hand out rations, as Our Boys have nothing better to do, immediately rallied to the flag, pulling his little fleet of warships back from every corner of the globe to defend the Realm. But then, he too is gunning for Theresa May’s job when he grows up.

The resonances between this absurd exaggeration and Trump’s bullshit pre-midterm elections propaganda campaign, shoving out massive quantities of fake news about the terrifying so-called migrant “caravan” wending its way from Honduras to the Mexico border where, without his $5bn Wall, they would be primed by the Jew Soros in league with the failing Dems to invade, bringing in drugs, gangs, murder, terrorism, pollution of the white race, unknown diseases and people willing to do shitty jobs, are striking; albeit the American version is land-based and the British, in the finest tradition, maritime, both are examples of calculated rabble-rousing that are falling rather flat with the majority.

Without any apparent collusion, both men seem to have hit on much the same idea of closing the borders, both for promoting themselves as decisive leaders facing down an existential threat of exaggeratedly enormous proportions; and for dividing their countries over a matter exciting much irrational debate and manufactured tension.

To enhance his voter appeal, The British Saj cut short his holiday in South Africa and flew home to confront the armada of desperate people as brown as himself, only to end up more red-faced as colleagues opposed to this rather obvious pitch for the leadership of the party post-May gleefully leaked that he and his wife Laura had been largeing it in a £1,700 a night safari lodge, while over a million Britons had been enjoying Christmas dinner at their local charity food bank.

What both men are resolutely ignoring is the illegality of denying genuine refugees the right, guaranteed by the United Nations, to apply for asylum and have their cases fairly heard. The claims are the same: you don’t know who these people are; there could be terrorists among them; they’re being trafficked by bad men; the crossing is dangerous so they mustn’t be allowed to try; they should apply in the first country they come to; sending rescue ships will only encourage them; there’s no room at the inn, etc., etc.

Meanwhile, as reports emerge of extensive child abuse going on in the makeshift holding pens to which the appalling Kjaersten Nielsen, US Homeland Security Secretary, continues to send hundreds of children ripped away from their migrant families at the border, the British government still has no knowledge of the whereabouts of more than 500 refugee children, legally qualified to join family members in Britain, who simply vanished from the makeshift camps across the Channel after a campaign led by the fascist-leaning Daily Mail resulted in a halt to the program they were meant to be admitted under.

And, following the efforts of the French police to eradicate the unofficial Calais “jungle” camp, men, women and children are sleeping in the open in fields around the Channel ports, hoping against hope that someone will ferry them the 26 miles to what they foolishly persist in imagining might be freedom.

While all there is in the air is the oppressive miasma of manufactured prejudice, the fear that “once you let one in, they’ll all want to come”.

Proving conclusively, Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance.

 

No discrimination

Texas police looking for a white man described by several witnesses in connection with the drive-by shooting of 7-year-old Jazzmine Barnes have arrested 20-year-old Eric Black Jr.

Mr Black is… er, black.

 

GW: 2019, and the beast goes on….

Australia: “Adelaide has seen temperatures soar to 41C as SE Australia sweats its way through 36 hours of intense heat. Further inland, Port Augusta touched 44.7C, Ceduna 45.5C and Nullabor 46.2C at 1.40pm. On Friday, Melbourne is set to hit 42C, a ‘once in a decade’ heat event. Several wildfires are being reported. Parts of New South Wales including Sydney are sweltering through day 10 of a heatwave”, although on 2 Jan. the city was battered by an intense hailstorm powerful enough to smash car windows, while strange cloud formations were reported.

‘Mammatus’ cloud over Sydney, 2 Jan. (Dylan Robinson/News Corp)

And then… The “change will be even more dramatic in Melbourne late on Friday afternoon. The 40C Friday will turn into a high of just 22C on Saturday. Melburnians could see a drop of between 15 to 20 degrees in just one hour on Friday afternoon as the cold front careers through.” A wildfire in Tasmania has burned 30 sq miles of forest in a conservation area. Meanwhile “the cyclone season is in full swing in Queensland with Cyclone Penny looking like it will make a handbrake turn and come straight back towards the coast.” (all reporting:  News.com.au)

 

USA: The overnight low in Phoenix, pretty much the hottest city in America, dropped to 30F, -1C on 02 Jan. as Winter Storm Fisher brought up to 6 inches of snow to the Arizona desert. Wintry conditions have since arrived in Texas and Oklahoma, where freezing rain has caused multiple car crashes. The jetstream is reportedly slumped all the way down into New Mexico where up to 3 feet of snow has fallen at altitude near Los Alamos. (The Weather Channel)

Nevertheless, European forecasters Severe-weather.eu are predicting a rapid warming over the whole continental US, with temperatures climbing over the next 7 days to 10 to 15 degrees C above normal for January. Residents of Sanibel Island, Fla. were bemused on 22 Dec. to experience a tidal surge through the town, produced by a ‘meteotsunami’ caused by a rapid change of barometric pressure. “Temperatures dropped by almost 10 degrees in Southwest Florida as barometric pressure momentarily rose by 1.6 millibars. Waves were projected to be about 1.7 feet at 1:30 p.m. but reached 5.04 feet before decreasing rapidly over the next hour.” Wind gusts measured by the National Weather Service spiked at 54 mph as a storm brought heavy rains and tornado warnings to the Naples area. (Naples Daily News)

Philippines: Death toll from floods and landslides inflicted by Tropical Depression Usman is now 105. Almost a quarter of a million people have been affected. “The storm has caused severe damage to agriculture, with costs estimated at over $6.5 million.” Heavy rain that began on the 29th Dec. was still falling on 3rd Jan. (Floodlist)

Sri Lanka: Severe weather from late December has affected over 125,000 people. At least 2 died and 5 were injured. …Strong winds, heavy rain and flash flooding began around 22 December and continued for several days. Sri Lanka’s Department of Meteorology said 365.1mm (13 in.) of rain fell in Mullaitivu district, in 24 hours to 22 December.

Europe: A cyclonic Bora wind over the Tyrrhenian sea is expected to produce up to half a meter of snow over central Italy and a secondary cyclone forming over Greece pushing up through the Balkans, may bring as much as 30 cm of rain to parts of Turkey in the next few days, moving on into the Caucasus with heavy snowfall in the mountains. With a developing Sudden Stratospheric Warming event, the polar vortex is splitting, bringing very cold weather down from the Arctic that’s likely to persist. (from The Weather Channel)

Update 5 Jan: Europe faces a deep freeze next week, amid forecasts of a giant snowstorm over large swathes of the continent. The AccuWeather warning system has issued a blizzard alert for areas of Germany and Austria so far. (Express) Up to three feet of snow is expected to affect many Alpine resorts – good for skiers, but only if they can get there!

Update 7 Jan: Over the weekend, 7 dead, ‘several more’ missing as skiers are unable to cope with the extreme conditions. Another 4 ft is expected in Austria by Thursday.

 

End notes

  • “Public opinion polling indicates that although there is widespread acceptance of climate change resulting from human activities, the public’s preparedness to pay for action to mitigate climate change is actually declining – even as climate scientists warn of the increasing urgency for action. These results signal a serious problem in the public communication of climate change.” – Dr Mary Debrett
  • According to Professor Boris Worm of Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, and co-researchers in five countries, the trendlines are showing that if we do not act immediately to protect the oceans, the last saltwater fish will die sometime in 2048.
  • A record $3.1m has been paid for a giant bluefin tuna at Tokyo’s new fish market. It was bought by sushi tycoon Kiyoshi Kimura, who runs the popular Sushi Zanmai chain. Stocks of Pacific bluefin have been depleted by 96 percent from their pre-industrial levels. (from Guardian)

An unwanted present… We are the rulers of the Queen’s na-vee… Internetanyahoos… Pal Joey… Head in the sand… GW: ‘I’ve got my hoodie to keep me warm’… Conservation news.

A Merry Xmas to all our reader.

An unwanted present

Wearing my house slippers, I took some bread out to the bird table for their Xmas brunch and the opportunity to slip a belated card through my neighbour’s door. Feeling a squishy moment underfoot, I looked down and realized that I had stepped in a present her little dog had left in my front garden.

Slightly fuck Christmas.

And a Merry Christmas to everyone. Donald and Ivanka. Melania.

 

Democracy inaction

“This rat-infested, weevil-ridden government, this coffin-ship of benighted fools is intolerably odious. It must be sunk, without trace.”

“We are the rulers of the Queen’s na-vee” (after G&S)

“When Raquel Rolnik, the UN’s special rapporteur on housing, called on the Government to rethink the ‘bedroom tax’, arguing that it eroded the right to adequate housing, the then housing minister Kris Hopkins labelled her report a ‘misleading Marxist diatribe’.”

The callousness and refusal to face facts of the present government is surely shown in no harsher light than in its mendacious and diffident responses to successive reports by United Nations rapporteurs on the effects of its social policies, that amount to an egregious breach of the basic ‘human rights’ of British citizens to decent treatment and a roof over their heads.

Every international advisory report is projected by ministers as a spiritual attack on British values; every inconvenient expert opinion politicized as the work of ignorant, external enemies – untutored foreigners – bent on undermining ‘our way of life’. But, of course, they also choose to rubbish expert reports from our own institutions as well, when it suits them; flat-out denying what is staring the rest of us in the face. Expediency being the name of the game.

When Professor Philip Alston ended his two-week fact-finding mission in November by accusing the government of inflicting ‘great misery’ on its people with ‘punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous’ policies, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd “used her first appearance following her return to frontline politics last week to attack a UN inquiry into poverty in the UK for its ‘extraordinarily political nature’.”

As if hunger, homelessness, mental illness and a rising suicide rate are fit subjects for political grandstanding. What else is Government for, Ms Rudd, other than reducing its citizens to a state of abject deprivation?

These excerpts are taken from an article on the Open Democracy website today, 12 December, by civil rights lawyer Michael Keller; who points out that, despite our treaty commitments, the UN’s view of what constitutes a proper compact between the State and its citizens is legally unenforceable in the face of an intractable and intransigent administration determined to redistribute wealth to the richest section of society at the cost of its poorest.

As we prepare incompetently to quit the European Union, in breach of our longstanding commitments to our allies and trading partners, and cast off into the big wide world on our own again, the BogPo is reminded of the appalling conditions and brutal regime imposed on sailors of the early 19th century by a lofty and overbearing naval officer class; where even a 12-year-old junior ensign held almost unlimited power over the ordinary able seaman.

Not even the disabled escape. “In 2016 when the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Disabled Persons found that the government was guilty of ‘grave and systematic violations’ of disabled people’s rights, the government responded by refuting the committee’s findings and its ‘offensive’ view of disability’.”

What, a view that says disabled people deserve fair treatment? Offensive? This rat-infested, weevil-ridden government, this coffin-ship of benighted fools is intolerably odious. It must be sunk, quickly and without trace.

The problem, according to Keller, is that while other rights are relatively easy to pin down, a generalized ‘socioeconomic’ right to a decent life is nebulous and without legal definition. “While the Government continues to pay lip service to its treaty commitments, any criticism based on socioeconomic rights will be branded ‘too’ ideological or political.”

It all comes down to the conflict between “human rights’ commitment to individual freedom … (and) neoliberalism’s commitment to the market, property rights and suspicion of the State.”

There is nothing that will shame these comfortable and complacent bilge-rats of the neoliberal wing of the Conservative tendency into adopting an even remotely compassionate policy towards the sick, the old, the disabled, the workless, the mentally fragile, the homeless, the refugee and the poor. Every crutch is to be kicked away; every social service bled white; every ‘assessment’ rigged, every minor infraction of the Byzantine rulebook harshly sanctioned, every minority minimised, nothing let to go unprivatized, in favour of the more convenient Protestant work ethic.

These layabouts and scroungers must work, work, work and work yet more for the good of the stockjobbers, the bond traders, the hedge fund managers, the investment bankers, the IFAs, the bent global accountancy firms propping up organized crime, the estate agents and the commodities brokers – the whole money-breathing cartel.

Wheelchairs? Mental health facilities? Meals-on-wheels? Decent, properly run care homes? Schools with roofs, that foster learning? Functioning hospitals and reliable, affordable public transport? Affordable homes and loans?

Fuck ’em.

‘Arbeit macht frei’, as the Germans put it – over the gates of Auschwitz.

Work for your freedom. Or die in the process.

We don’t actually care.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/mickey-keller/in-fight-against-austerity-human-rights-is-not-answer?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=2c9a0c5f0a-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-2c9a0c5f0a-408090269

 

“And there’s this little switch you flick to turn it on…”

Internetanyahoos

Calling for widespread revenge on a Palestinian who shot dead two Israeli soldiers, the son of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing-down potential corruption charges, has been temporarily banned from Facebook after a series of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian posts the social network said broke its rules on hate speech.

This deeply unpleasant, gormless little racist fucker, the overprivileged, overentitled son of the mafia sockpuppet, has been kicked off Facebook – for just 24 hours!

“A Facebook spokesperson said: ‘Yair Netanyahu posted several posts which included hate speech – this clearly violates our community standards. Due to that, this content was removed from our platform, as we would do for anyone posting similar content about any protected characteristic. Following this, Yair Netanyahu decided to share a screenshot of a removed post and called people to share it – which is the same as writing the hate speech all over again’.” (Guardian)

Meanwhile 1.5 million Palestinians, whose past generations from AD 70 until 1947 were the majority Semitic population of Israel and whose rights are supposedly protected under the founding constitution, continue to barely exist in the blockaded Gaza ghetto, dying from a shortage of medical supplies and economic opportunity.

Not to mention from the frequent punitive Heydrich-inspired* incursions by the overwhelmingly superior Israel military, arrogantly heedless of the charges of war crimes their abuses provoke from an enfeebled UN, that greet their paltry acts of resistance. The United States is complicit in so much hideous brutality.

Personally speaking, I am just sick of this. It began in the year before I was born and still there is no resolution to it. I’m well aware of the history. But it’s none of my business, I’m not Jewish.

Fuck that. I don’t care what names you call me.

Seven THOUSAND Palestinians have been shot and wounded by Israeli border forces in the name of ‘security’, using live ammunition against unarmed teenagers staging mostly peaceful or stone-throwing protests from behind the barbed-wire fences separating them from settler territory – open farmland. More than 200 have been murdered; many seized by Israeli snatch-squads and disappeared into the system. 70 per cent of Under-25s in Gaza are unemployed. The suicide rate is devastating.

Yet far from all of them are supporters of the more belligerent wing of the democratically elected governing party, Hamas; branded for political reasons as a ‘terrorist’ organization..

For some reason, a substantial section of the Israeli population – not all – have decide that the Holocaust did not enhance their claim to humanity.

Palestinians just think they deserve the same chance at life as you do, and prefer not to be blown to bits periodically by a bunch of cowardly racist bullies in Tel Aviv with overwhelming force at their disposal and connections to the Russian mafia, who have learned their brutal politics of repression from Putin in Chechnya and, before him, the Nazis in Poland.

This situation will continue as long as dumbfucks in America go on imagining that it is the Palestinians who are the terrorists and the Israeli occupiers the tragic heroes. And that Trump’s admiration for the genocidal C19th president, Andrew Jackson is somehow laudable. I’m afraid just being white doesn’t cut it.

The UN for decades has passed resolution after insouciantly ignored resolution attempting to regularize the situation. But when the crook, Netanyahu can moan about Australia recognizing Israeli West, and not Palestinian East, Jerusalem as the de facto capital of Israel – something all Christians should be shouting about – as the fatuous and ignorant oaf Trump has done, to please his slimy little plastic son-in-law Kushner and the millennarian Evangelical dumbfucks, a tickle on the wrist from Zuckerberg’s underwhelming ethics department is calculated to do absolutely nothing to halt the ongoing crime against humanity that is the Gaza ghetto.

Sorry, and all that.

*So, here I mentioned Reinhard Heydrich, the “Butcher of Prague”, just once in the aforegoing text, and lo! A documentary film about him has just popped up in the suggestions sidebar on YouTube. Do we think this is just coincidence? Of all the murderous Nazi gauleiters in all the web pages in all the world, he has to walk into mine…

 

Brexit, the Movie…

“Sandra Bullock plays a lone mother with two young children, battling an unseen force which compels you to kill yourself if you see it.” (Guardian Culture review)

 

Pal Joey

I’m most impressed.

For some unaccountable reason, four people in the past 24 hours have been visiting a long-running Page I began Posting about six years ago, cataloguing my jazz CD collection in as much technical detail as I can manage. (I haven’t Posted anything to Pages in a month of Sundays, so how people are attracted to them I don’t understand.)

Even I have trouble finding it, buried away in the mountain of solipsistic verbiage that is The Boglington Post‘s 7-year archive.

But I do try to keep the listings up to date. I have about 400 jazz CDs now, my limited shelf space has run out and they’ve started to occupy boxes on the floor, always a bad sign. As nothing, compared to an astrophysicist I vaguely know, whose entire downstairs floorspace is covered with stacked boxes 3-ft high of his jazz CDs. Then, he’s not living on the State pension.

I seldom even play them, other than the most recent, that might get the odd repeat run-through. The idea was to transfer them to my li’l laptop for portability and convenience, which I was doing steadily until I lost my cool one day and beat it to death with my great clunking fist. They can be annoying, laptops. But the new one has no CD-tray; they’ve gone out of vogue. So I had to start again, but by a more circuitous route, and I’m not bothering – it’s technical.

And in recent months I’ve pretty much stopped ordering CDs, my Kenny Wheeler phase having drawn to a satiated conclusion. I tend nowadays more to browse for my jazz listening pleasure on YouTube, where great variety if no sound quality is to be found.

Until last night when, having discovered the extraordinary pianist Joey Alexander, and listened raptly to him all evening, I flipped and ordered two of his CDs from up the Amazon. Do you know him?

He’s the 15-year-old kid from Bali who turned professional at the age of 10. And, to be honest, I think he was the better player then.

You see, most ‘awesome’ child prodigies on YouTube are the victims of pushy parents or have just superficial talents that can be spun into a short, compelling narrative and promoted to their five minutes of fame as lucrative clickbait. Joey is definitely not one of those ‘X-Factor contestant’, one-shot wonders. No Sir.

Aside from his self-taught mastery of pianistic technique, which is widely acknowledged, his jazz ‘chops’ are such that grown musicians are visibly in awe of him. His improvisational skills, ability to build compelling solos, knowledge of form and structure, maturity of touch and feeling, his exciting chord logic and every other area of his playing – even his unbelievably deep knowledge of the jazz genre – are positively surreal, in a swotty-looking little kid with a lopsided grin and Harry Potter specs.

By 12 he had already been nominated for two Grammy awards, performed by invitation at the White House for the Obamas, given concerts at the Lincoln Centre and at the top festivals around the world. His ridiculously young age – usefully he has unusually large hands for a child – has never seemingly been a barrier to his career. And it is in every sense, a proper musical career.

He has played with many of the stars of the jazz world, who are won over in the first few seconds by his infectious charm, confidence and seemingly instinctive professionalism, whether on stage or in the recording studio, and give their all for him; humbly accepting his musical leadership. They know what they’ve got. People have likened him to Mozart; although his compositions are really nothing compared with the genius of Leipzig, who composed his first symphony at the age of six – the age when Joey first sat down at a piano.

Perhaps the only fly in the ointment will be that, as he grows up – he is 15 now – he will grow into another jazz musician: brilliant, exceptional, even ground-breaking; but nevertheless no longer having the status and curiosity value of a prodigy. The world is often not kind to ex-child prodigies. He will need good and careful management to guide where he goes next.

Who could resist chucking another £25 at his recording company, anyway?

Everything confuses me nowadays. It probably helps to be 10, rather than pushing 70. So much more certainty!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plTPRr7B4ns “Over the Rainbow” – Joey, age 10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1liUart72g “Over the Rainbow” – Later, maybe age 12?

 

Head in the sand

A newly discovered, but already endangered creature with a burrowing habit, resembling a miniature slow worm, has been officially named after Donald Trump.

What the poor thing has done to deserve the name Dermophis donaldtrumpi, The BogPo shudders to think. One can only hope it may survive the coming extinction to evolve into something better.

“The name was chosen by the boss of a sustainable building materials company, who paid $25,000 at an auction (in aid of the Rainforest Trust) for the right. The small legless creature was found in Panama and EnviroBuild’s Aidan Bell said its ability to bury its head in the ground matched Donald Trump’s approach to global warming. (Guardian Green Light)

Given that the Abominable No-man just called for a court to investigate the long-running Saturday Night Live TV satire show on grounds he believes it to be a Democrat party-funded plot against him, I doubt he will see the amusing side, or even – as most of us might, however ghastly – be flattered to be immortalised in this way.

Paranoiacs are never satisfied.

 

For a tolerably amusing SNL Cold Open skit on the UK’s most popular Xmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Trump”….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdQl7SxOHek

 

I’m just watching alumni of UCL and Reading University competing in a semifinal round of University Challenge. And wondering how it is that I seem to be able to answer twice as many questions in less time than these now well-paid professionals in their fields? Gven that I never managed to get into a University?

 

GW: ‘I’ve got my hoodie to keep me warm’

India: 120 k/h “Cyclone Phethai, which made landfall on Monday afternoon, caused havoc for the people along the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. The cyclone, which was accompanied by strong and gusty winds, has resulted in heavy showers across the state and claimed two lives.” 11,600 people were evacuated as their houses are yet to be repaired after Cyclone Titli in October. There is another cyclonic circulation over the Bay of Bengal moving northwestward that may pose another threat for southern India.

“One occurrence that seemingly amused people was a strange phenomenon, which locals are calling ‘fish rain’, that happened after the cyclone. A video that has been going viral on social media shows several fishes either dead or thrashing about in the puddles formed after the rains.” (The News Minute/Al Jazeera)

Phethai is the 7th named storm of the 2018 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, the most active since 1992. (The Watchers)

Tropical Cyclone Kenanga is 800 miles SW of Diego Garcia in the southern Indian Ocean, and close by is Tropical Cyclone Cilida, that has rapidly intensified from the Invest 92S GW reported two days ago to reach the verge of a rare 150 mph Cat 5. Neither looks like making landfall anywhere soon.

Australia: “A cyclone that was predicted to wreak havoc across Queensland has been downgraded to a tropical low, after unleashing 17cm (6.6in) of rain in two hours across the north of the state. “Halifax (near Ingham) received 681mm of rain in 24 hours” – records were broken. Winds reached 170 K/h. One person was drowned. Authorities warn that Cyclone Owen could still re-form offshore on Monday. Severe weather and flood warnings are in place.” (BBC/Floodlist)

The town of Woy Woy in New South Wales is trashed by chunks of ice the size of “tennis balls” (BBC) The repair bill for damage caused by the “catastrophic” hailstorm that struck Sydney and other parts of NSW on Thursday is expected to exceed AU $125m. Insurance company stocks plummeted on the news. The Bureau of Meteorology called it the “worst hailstorm in 20 years.” Meanwhile Brisbane is sweltering through a 36 deg. C heatwave. (Guardian)

Thailand: Heavy rain between 16 and 18 December caused flooding in several southern provinces. Local media report that 1 person died and 1 is missing. Flooding and heavy rain affected 377 villages across 17 districts in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. Soldiers and rescue workers carried out evacuations in Muang district. Schools have been closed in affected areas.” (from: Floodlist)

USA: A heavy snowstorm swept through US south-eastern states, killing at least three people and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. A state of emergency was declared in North Carolina, with some areas reporting as much as 0.5m (18.5ins) of snow over the weekend. One man died after a tree fell on his car. A search is under way for a driver whose vehicle was found in a river. Thousands of flights were also cancelled across the region. (BBC)

Another powerful storm hit Seattle on the west coast, bringing several inches of snow and knocking out powr to 300 thousand homes.

A warning of potentially deadly surf has gone out along the entire California coastline and up as far as Washington State, pushed by a succession of powerful storms out in the Pacific. Harbors have been closed. National Weather Service warned breaking wave heights could reach 40 feet, affecting beach parking lots and walkways. It could also lead to beach erosion and damage to coastal structures, the NWS warned. (The Weather Channel)

Wunderground reports, Dr. James Elsner of Florida State University finding an increase in the destructive power of U.S. tornadoes averaging 5.5% per year since 1994. Although annual numbers have remained constant, they’re getting bigger and lasting longer.

Bolivia: “Heavy rain and a severe storm caused serious damage to homes and power supply in the town of Mayaya in La Paz Department on 13 Dec. Parts of Larecaja province saw further heavy rain during the following days. Local media reported  flash floods in Larecaja Province between 17 and 18 December. (Floodlist)

UK: Storm Deirdre brought rain, ice and several inches of snow to the north and parts of Scotland at the weekend, with gale-force winds affecting most of the west coast. Homes were without power in Wales and fallen trees blocked icy roads.

Not much COP

Poland: As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise alarmingly across the globe, the extended UN COP24 climate conference in the Katowice coal-mining district packed its tents on Sunday, as 10 thousand weary delegates flew home following the signing of a toothless, watered-down commitment by global governments to provide more ‘transparency’ on carbon emissions, in line with the already out-of-date, 3-years-old, ‘1.5 degrees’ Paris accord.

Yellowstone: the Blessed Mary Greeley records that the Steamboat geyser, largest in the park, has erupted for the 31st time this year. In a normal year you might see two or three eruptions. She is also reporting hugely increased groundlift and a large volume of magma getting closer to the surface. Could be an interesting Christmas.

Emissions: Largely ignored by COP delegates and governments alike, methane continues to pour out of the Arctic from the twin sources of thawing permafrost and seabed clathrates. Arctic-News reports levels on 09 Dec. as high as 3050 ppb. The El Niño event identified a few months ago continues to slowly intensify, with sea surface temperature anomalies up to 10C above baseline in the Atlantic. At the South Pole – height of summer – it’s about 10C to 15C warmer today, 19 Dec, than even the warming average over the past 18 years.

Promotions: In a shakeup following the departure of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, under investigation on 17 counts of ethics violations, the department has been handed on to Zinke cronies: Deputy Secretary Bernhardt, a former oil industry lobbyist, who has appointed a former employee of agrichemical giant Monsanto to head the bureau of Fish and Wildlife. The service has already re-permitted the use of a banned bee-killing pesticide, made by….

With coal-industry lobbyist Andrew “sixteen” Wheeler at the helm of the EPA, your Auld Gran is evermore convinced Trump’s presidency is just one gigantic pisstake. He hates America because they laugh at his absurd combover, that he can’t take out in the rain. This is his revenge.

Conservation: A new study by marine biologists at Dalhousie University in Canada reveals that fish are worse off owing to unlicensed trawling inside Europe’s Marine Protection Areas (MPAs) than in the areas outside. “99% of the MPAs had no information on no-take zones … and half had no management plan.”

Meanwhile, Japan has reportedly withdrawn from the International Whaling Convention and proposes to resume unrestricted commercial whaling.

The sooner the human race is extinct, the better.

 

The BogPo – Right is might… Dead Man’s Shoes… Everything’s comin’ up Rosas… Has the age of the bendy-men arrived?…GW: Joinin’ the dots, drawin’ the lines and goin’ round in circles… Make hay while the sun… er…

“Does no-one understand, an offence has been committed?”

Right is might

Hi. Now, if I or anyone else – you, possibly – were to tweet, not that I can, I don’t have a twitter account, but if I did – or were to write, or say stuff publicly about the Prime Minister or anyone else, like this:

“Pro-Brexit MPs told weekend newspapers that Mrs May’s Brexit plans meant she was about to enter the “killing zone”, and advised her to “bring her own noose” to a showdown with Tory backbenchers later this week.

“One told the Sunday Times: “The moment is coming when the knife gets heated, stuck in her front and twisted. She’ll be dead soon.”

…the police would be informed, an inquiry would be launched and the culprit – you or me or the Syrians next door – hauled into a small, airless room without our belt, shoelaces and tie, and grilled for five or six hours about our sexual orientation and which lodge we belong to, while anti-terrorist police raided our agreeable Knightsbridge second home and swiped our digital media devices looking for birthday cards from the Islamic State; before hopefully being dragged into the dock, accused of a terrorist offence or, at best, incitement to violence.

Does no-one understand, an offence has been committed?

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law”. (Wikipedia)

ADVOCACY. HATRED. INCITEMENT. VIOLENCE….

But because it was a Tory MP or maybe even a renegade traitor cabinet minister who uttered those threats, nothing is being done. And so low-sunken into unimaginative failure is the Prime Minister’s reputation, even the media isn’t calling for anything to be done about it. Nor, seemingly, is she. Yet, bizarrely, she is still polling well ahead of Jeremy Corbyn as the nation’s choice for PM.

How terrible must he be?

The hard-right, cliff-edge Brexit tendency, terrified of a popular reaction to the difficulty of negotiating an exit, in the wake of a protest by three quarters of a million people on Saturday, many of them over 50, has gone insane.

One can only surmise it is because they fear a threat to their long-held personal ambitions for power and money, which, let’s face it, was all this boring, fucking stupid referendum was ever about. It had nothing whatever to do with Europe, but was a simple equation: stagnant wages – immigration = sovereignty.

We’ve learned that the police have “identified” a drunken, middle-aged, pompous drone who hurled vile, racial abuse and invective for several minutes at an elderly black woman on a Ryanair flight from Barcelona, when her arthritis prevented her from standing up quickly enough for this obviously important individual to assume his natural window seat.

The incident was captured on camera and the filthy oaf will very probably face prosecution. Let’s hope so. We hope too that the other passengers, bar one, who were too gutless, racist or wasted to intervene will also be prosecuted. Surely the victim’s age and disability should have been enough to make anyone understand that an assault was taking place, that they were legally obliged to prevent?

The police could be bothered to do that. But it’s perfectly permissible for a Tory “Brexiteer” to make death threats, disappointed by whichever backstop on the Northern Ireland border issue he’s pissed off about, to utter death threats against the Prime Minister, as if they’d just cycled past security at the gates to Downing Street and were proposing to throw a bomb.

I don’t think so.

This Tory piece of filth, worth less than the dirt under your fingernails (as the majority are), self-interested, self-important and overprivileged by virtue of an easy birth, should be immediately identified to the DPP, hauled up before the bench and handed an exemplary five-year sentence, pour décourager des autres.

But it’s not going to happen, is it.

When it comes to busting toffs, the police haven’t got the money.

x

Dead man’s shoes

A profoundly disturbing story has appeared in The Guardian and elsewhere today, 22 Oct, that one of the 15-man team sent from Riyadh to murder the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul was a “body double” who, after they’d dismembered their drugged but still-living victim, put on the dead man’s clothes and spectacles, donned a false beard and went walkabout.

As if the earlier details were not gruesome enough, we have this Aztec ritual for an aftermath!

This lookey-likey character, named as Mustafa al-Madani, was apparently nonchalantly wandering around all the famous tourist sites of Istanbul, making sure he was seen, after being caught on CCTV leaving the consulate where Khashoggi had just been tortured and murdered, in an attempt by the Saudis to convince the Turks that the dead man was not dead after all, but liveth.

The clown gave himself away, as clowns always do. He’d been filmed earlier entering the consulate with the rest of the assassins wearing a pair of trainers he was still clearly wearing when he left. We assume the dead man’s shoes wouldn’t fit.

Another “dead giveaway”, as it were, is that the real Khashoggi might not have forgotten that he had left his fiancee waiting across the street, outside the front of the building, while al-Madani scarpered out of the back and off to Taksim Square.

It’s also indicative that as President Erdogan milks the crime for all it’s worth, new CIA Director, Gina Haspel is reportedly on her way to Istanbul, presumably to bone-up on her favorite topic, the latest techniques for enhanced conversations.

Details like these have been piling up all week like Peleon on Mount Ossa, making the official Saudi statement admitting to Khashoggi’s “accidental” death in a punch-up while resisting questioning seem evermore desperate: panic-stricken and preposterous. If he died, then where’s the body? Even the British courts are starting to understand that the police shouldn’t get away with killing detainees; not every time.

That hasn’t stopped anyone in office who might have to take a decision to impose punitive “Magnitsky” sanctions on the Saudis from claiming that their storyline seems “credible”, or that we must “wait to see what the official investigation (by the Saudis themselves!) has to say.”

They’re all driven mad by the oil money, the defense contracts, the lavish hospitality and are willing just to run with the most believable proposition short of the truth and hope it all blows over soon and the media gets bored, before carrying on as normal.

Bull fucking shit, quite frankly.

 

Everything’s comin’ up Rosas

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m 70 years old next year and I watch Dr Who.

There, feel better for that.

Actually, there’s not a lot else on early Sunday evenings that offers a bit of harmless, mind-expanding, time-and-space adventure action with merchandizable fashionwear

It seems that after the first promisingly scary episode, this inaugural Jodie Whittaker season is going to be a tad didactic, focussing kids’ attentions on contemporary issues rather than murderous Daleks and Cybermen. What next, a tattoo parlor run by an evil alien, whose tattoos come alive at night? (Just guessin’.) A demented orange blob seizes control of the White House?

Last night we were treated to some fairly basic homilies on racism, as Jodie and her rainbow ragbag of regionally-accented assistants break down in the Tardis and find themselves up an alleyway in 1965 segregationist dystopia, Montgomery, Alabama; as it happens, on the day before the famous Rosa Parks incident, in which a tired, prim department-store seamstress refuses to give up her seat on a bus for a white man, mandatory under the Jim Crow laws, and is hauled off into history by the police. (She died in 2005, aged 92, heaped with honors).

Her protest sparked a year-long boycott of the city’s bus service and helped (along with MLK, who makes a cameo appearance here) to found the NAACP, that eventually gained the Civil Rights Act.

Given the sheer, high-minded unpleasantness of white Americans of the time, whoever they thought they were, smalltown nobodies, the show was added perhaps unnecessary extra spice by the presence of a menacing, time-travelling English neo-Nazi, a paroled convict from the 79th century sent back using some decidedly dodgy old technology to change the course of history; Jodie quickly figuring out that he didn’t have the power to actually harm anyone, but also having to engineer things so that Rosa found herself on the right bus at the right time.

I must confess, too, that I was quite profoundly moved by the whole thing, despite the clunky minor idiocies of the plot, almost entirely thanks to the wonderfully dignified performance of Vinette Robinson as Rosa.  Where I part company with the BBC is over their blurb for the program:

  • “She lived to be 92 and saw America change beyond recognition.”

I’m not sure I’m that optimistic, frankly.

A Trump victory in 2020, or even an increase in the Republican vote and Congressional representation this November could see the Confederate southland resurgently racist, segregation tactics and violence against colored people licensed once again. Hatred of the emancipated black man has never gone away. Black and ethnic minority citizens are seeing their votes suppressed by white supremacist administrations and complicit, intimidating police forces at the rate of thousands a day. It’s not great.

Trump has refused to condemn the neo-Nazis, although he is not one of them. He is not anything: a career criminal, a conman, a grifter, a superannuated playboy, a made-for-TV B-list celebrity; nothing more.

A shameless opportunist, he dimly perceives that white nativists are a significant source of support for his inadvertent, capricious, autocratic and thoroughly amateurish presidency. If he thought any differently, he might be in danger of making America great. But they’ve never been that.

Hopefully, Jodie and her defective old Tardis (“Oh, you’ve redecorated!”) will soon find their way to 2020 and return the alien-spawn Trump to whichever parallel universe of rancid ordure he came from.

 

Has the age of the bendy-men arrived?

The controversial technique of preserving the body known as ‘plastination’, developed in the 1970s by a weird German artist/scientist, Gunter von Hagens, involves replacing the contents of your cells with plastics. (I think it’s correct to say “plastics”, rather than plastic, which is more of an adjective; see also “ceramics”.)

Wikipedia explains that after conventional pickling and submersion in acetone (nail-polish remover!):

“In the third step, the specimen is then placed in a bath of liquid polymer, such as silicone rubber, polyester, or epoxy resin. By creating a vacuum, the acetone is made to boil at a low temperature. As the acetone vaporizes and leaves the cells, it draws the liquid polymer in behind it, leaving a cell filled with liquid plastic.”

Which is then hardened by exposure to ultraviolet light. Von Hagens caused a public sensation when he first began to display, not just bodies, but the entire fascinating vascular and nervous networks of his subjects, animal and human, stripped of flesh and bone, in a contemporary arts setting rather than a biology lecture theatre. Many people still find it gruesome and exploitative, but we’re getting used to that in the living too; especially in America.

It seems now, however, that he needn’t have bothered going to all that trouble: latest research shows we’re pretty much made of plastics already. All those microfibres shed from our polyester sweaters and the nanoparticles of biodegrading Tesco bags in the sea are rapidly rising up through the food chain to become part of ourselves; as in the expression, “You are what you eat”.

A new kind of shiny, inorganic lifeform… Jared Kushner

Anyone studying, for instance, Jared Kushner, or Victoria Beckham, or the Khardashians; or who has ever viewed lcd TV shows like “The Only Way is Essex”, or “Love Island” (“With a thong in my heart!” Ed. Sorry, carry on…) will already have suspected, a new race of quasi-humans is emerging, made at least superficially – which in the cases mentioned is mostly –  from plastic polymers.

So far, these microparticles have only been traced through the poo of the subjects, and only in the Far East. There’s no reason to believe, however, that it’s not also in the vital organs, possibly even the brain; and that it’s not happening to the rest of us, that we are being gradually transformed into a new race of shiny, inorganic beings.

I am constantly being badgered by the NHS to send them a scoop of my poo, to see if I have colonic cancer or not. I actually have a pathological aversion to touching human waste matter, especially my own, and have so far refused to co-operate; however, if researchers were looking for evidence of my lazy habit of microwaving meals in plastic trays covered with clingfilm, which I feel sure can’t be doing me any good, then maybe I might make an exception.

The plastination of living humans may not be far off. It’s very exciting, as it would enable us, for instance, to survive virtually unprotected in deep space, or underwater. But we’ll have to be quick, if runaway global warming isn’t going to turn us all into a rainbow puddle of molten goo.

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GW: Joinin’ the dots, drawin’ the lines and goin’ round in circles Where I part company

Why does no-one mention climate-related disasters in the same breath as they report on political events around the world?

It’s a mystery.

We’ve had numerous reports over the past week from the UN and others, profoundly concerned about starvation and disease affecting millions in the Yemen, as a result of the filthy war that’s been going on there now for three and a half years; largely thanks to this bin-Salman bloke who appears to enjoy torturing people.

But there hasn’t been a single mention on the news of the widespread, deadly floods that followed the arrival last week of ex-Tropical Storm Luban, dumping huge volumes of rain and massively adding to the misery of the Yemenis.

At the same time, while we’re all rapidly acclimatizing to the gruesome details of the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, while focussing on the convoluted politics of the region, we seem completely oblivious to the worsening climatic conditions across the Middle East, intense heatwaves alternating with powerful cyclonic weather systems pushing eastwards out of the Mediterranean or northwards out of the Arabian Sea into the Gulf, causing widespread flooding and wind damage, disrupting normal life.

In addition to Yemen and neighboring Oman, Climate and Extreme Weather News #142 this week has video footage and local TV weather reports of flooding from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrein and – moving across North Africa – Tunisia; last week you could add Algeria too, and Morocco; up across the Gibraltar strait into southern and eastern Spain; although by the time remnant ex-Tropical Storm Leslie hit the south of France with 13 dead and one small town briefly 7 meters underwater, the media had no option but to report it, in comparative isolation from similar violence elsewhere.

Presumably no reports come out of dysfunctional Libya, but they’re part of the same southern Mediterranean climatic system. That whole North African coast has also seen record temperature anomalies persist into the autumn; while earlier in the year, Ouargla in Algeria set a new global record temperature for any April day, anywhere, ever, of 51.1C, 124.3F. Also just about mentioned in dispatches, were the unusually heavy snowfalls in the Sahara and the Atlas mountains last winter.

At other times, Saudi Arabia and Iran have featured in the mix of countries once considered unlikely to suffer from floods; I mean, they’re supposed to be deserts! (You can watch a bewildered young camel up to her humps in floodwater as gesticulating locals try to figure out a way of rescuing her, their cries of alarm not helping!  – CEWN #142, first sequence.) While both countries (and Iraq) have been afflicted with brutal heatwaves, northern Iran having set new summer temperature records in previous years, topping 53C, 129F in Ahvaz in June, 2017.

Those conditions are a) not survivable for long, and b) spreading.

Your Old Granny cannot for one moment believe these increasingly frequent, damaging and costly weather events have no effect whatever on the economies, food security and everyday life of the region; yet not one single journalist has been prepared to build those concerns into their equations when it comes to reporting on politics and conflict in the (mainly) Islamic world, stories that are obviously much more exciting than boring old floods and heatwaves.

Or maybe they just don’t understand the connections.

Central America, too, remains a serious concern; and possibly increasing rainfall and floods are one more reason for the exodus of thousands of refugees to the north.

Look, see one flood, you’ve seen them all. They’re pretty bad (Doha underwater? Ya kiddin’ me!) Here’s the CEWN playlist for this week’s report, I’ll expand on it later or if you hate cars that much, you can visit the link beloiw:

Yemen & Oman: Floods The UAE (1 dead): Flash floods Qatar: Flash floods (year’s worth of rain in 6 hrs) Bahrain: Flash floods Tunisia (5 dead): Floods Spain: Castellon & Campillos floods Sicily: Floods Trinidad: Floods The USA: Texas floods (330mm rain in 48 hrs) Colombia: Dos Quebradas flash flood (12 dead) Venezuela: Carayaca flash flood….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2Bk7MMRueo&t=178s

(Yes, a remarkable stat among remarkable stats…. Doha (the capital of Qatar) usually gets 1.1 mm of rain in the whole of October. On Saturday 20th, it received 84 mm in 6 hours. Rivalling France’s Aude river, that rose 8 meters in 6 hours in a torrential storm last week, the Llano river in Texas rose 10 meters in 24 hours. 4 dead.)

Mexico: Hurricane Willa intensified with alarming rapidity from a 35 mph storm to a 155 mph beast in a little over 48 hours, and is now a full Cat 5 hurricane, heading for Mexico’s west coast. It’s expected to de-intensify to a Cat 3 or 4 before making landfall on Thursday, close to the city of Mazatlan (pop. 600 thousand.)

Meanwhile another Pacific storm is strengthening SE of Guam: Yutu is expected to make Cat 5 hurricane strength, possibly upper 5 (gusts 190 mph)  as it moves eastwards over 30 degree warm waters (Wunderground) Eyewall now bearing down on Guam, a low-lying complex of islands and a major US airbase., with 120 mph sustained winds. Some tracks have it heading then for the Japanese islands, Taiwan or the north Philippines.

“Farther to the south, Tropical Storm Vicente weakened but was still expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over parts of southern and south-western Mexico.” (Guardian) Officials in Oaxaca state said seven adults and five children had lost their lives in drownings or mudslides. (CBS)

 

A hate supreme

Despite having previously agreed the case could proceed, the US Supreme Court, now packed with conservatives including two Trump appointees, has issued an injunction halting progress in a class action being brought against the EPA by 21 “young Americans” alleging it failed to protect them from harms wrought by pollution from burning fossil fuels.

The stay injunction was issued at the request of the Justice Department after the case had cleared the lower courts over the last three years – it was originally filed against the Obama administration. An ultimately fatal delay now seems probable. It’s pretty clear that no climate-change-related suits will ever come to trial while the Republicans hold the balance of power both in the Congress and in the courts.

This may not be fascism, but judicial interference with the normal course of justice in the interest of big business is surely what fascism looks like. (TYT: Ring of Fire, 24 Oct.)

Make hay while the sun… er…

The IPCC report on climate change appears to have backfired, handing a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry and its corrupt and scientifically illiterate political support base.

While it has been described as alarming rather than alarmist (a good sign?), many people have nevertheless seized on its headline premise that we have 12 years in which to act before the warming becomes irreversible, taking it to mean we can happily go on burning coal, oil and gas for another 12 years at the present rate of increase before governments need to act on it.

I mean, why bother reading the rest of the report?

Many independent climate scientists are dismayed at the suggestion, either that warming is reversible – it isn’t, not in the 100-year timeline – or that it will get more reversible if we go on burning stuff for another 12 years. In all probability by that time, tipping points will have been exceeded, exponential effects will have been triggered that will literally kill the planet in a couple of hundred years (we won’t be here to witness it).

Thus perish all technologically advanced civilizations, think the experts – which is why we never seem to meet any others.

Setting that limit was obviously intended to give governments some indulgence in their decision-making, but (coming from naive scientists) failed to comprehend the concept of that freedom to do nothing that all democratically elected governments relish. For most, 12 years is three election cycles away! Why should the current administrations spoil their cosy shareholder relations with industry, when they can pass the problem on to the next lot in power?

It seems to have been a potentially disastrous own goal by the Commission.

That’s unfortunate, because in many respects governments have already been rowing back on their Paris commitments to phase out fossil-fuel power generation, support the growth of non-polluting renewable energy and halt the inexorable rise of the internal combustion engine, with this pretty meaningless “1.5 degrees” target in view – that we have already far exceeded on other measures.

The socio-economic and geopolitical effects even of the 1 degree the IPCC will admit to since 1850 are already looking pretty bad.

And since it came out, the efforts of the climate-change denial industry, that we thought had finally been beaten into submission by the hammer of truth, have been doubling-down on the YouTube channels.

It’s as if they’ve been given a new lease of life, especially by Mr Trump’s utterly fatuous, rambling nonsense about “maybe this, maybe that, I’ve seen reports on both sides….” (no he hasn’t, he doesn’t read “reports”. Ed.) when interviewed on ABC’s 60 Minutes show last week, which his scientifically illiterate hillbillies and gun-totin’, pussy-grabbing, bible-bashing dumbfucks will treat as gospel, coming as it does from God’s annointed one.

There’s been a flurry of posts from the usual nitwits, bolloxing on about the Grand Solar Minimum – yes, that’s right, when the sun is outputting its least amount of energy for a hundred years the climate on earth gets hotter, duh! – and volcanoes and earthquakes and eclipses and “global dimming” and the coming ice age and all the planets lining up on one ‘side’ of the sun, and cycles of natural variability (as if the scientists don’t already know about those!) and the plants eating all the CO2 so how can it be warming the planet? and it’s all just a hoax by NASA to put up taxes, to get bigger research grants, and on and on with the myths and fantasies and cretinous pseudo-scientific theories and blatant lies and contrafactual narratives cooked up in the past four decades by PR whizzes employed expressly for the purpose by the fossil-fuel barons.

Those beliefs, if genuinely held, suggest we haven’t come far since the sixteenth century. The tragedy is, they’re all so predictable. Perhaps the primary cause of global warming is Biblical prophesy? To read all that horseshit, you would think so.

Not one of the deniers has ever obtained so much as a temperature reading in their life, from anywhere except up their own anus.

And yet… people seem so desperately to want to believe that as the world we know ends, it wasn’t their fault!

And yet… the Trump administration, buried inside a 500-page “state of everything” report, has already admitted to the belief that the earth will be 7 degrees Celsius hotter by 2100. That’s a world-ending rise, by the way, as the increase would then be unstoppable; even assuming it doesn’t get to 4 degrees before then – in itself prospectively an extinction event for the human race. It’s not the mean, but the extremes that kill.

And their conclusion?

Nothing to be done. Too late folks, we blew it. How were we to know? Keep buyin’, keep burnin’, make that hay while the sun… er…. Bye!

And hope the technical boys will come up with something.

You know, science….

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The Terminal Beach

Last week, a packet of sausages confiscated at a Japanese airport from a traveller arriving from China was found to contain the African Swine Fever virus. “…despite co-ordinated efforts it has spread widely, initially through eastern Europe and Russia, and more recently into western Europe, where wild boar in Belgium were found to have the disease. The virus has now jumped to China, home to half the world’s domestic pigs, and appears to be proliferating rapidly.” (Guardian)

A worldwide outbreak in the 1950s was contained, but the disease re-emerged in 2007 in Georgia. It can’t at present be caught by humans but in some outbreaks has had 100% mortality in pigs, who are similar to us physiologically (presumably why Jews and Muslims won’t eat them, only cannibal Christians.) Mutation is, apparently, only a matter of time. 41 cases have now been notified.