The Madness of King Donald…. Depression news, #1,#2,#3… Schools for scandal… GW: under my umbrella, ella… “Tunnel approaching”… The sheer irrelevance of political journalism – a short essay.

 

“Come November you’ll all be eating my snot. Its fingerpickin’ good!” (with apologies to Getty Images for nicking their stuff. I don’t get paid for this.)

Details of Operation Yellowhammer, the full horror story of the UK Government’s own predictions, released under duress from the Johnson Dark House (except that they were leaked in The Times two weeks ago) predict that within 24 hours of a No-Deal Brexit, there’ll be a 1.5-day-long backlog for goods to clear customs at Calais; and within another 24 hours we’ll be waiting so long that all the goods will have perished, supermarket shelves will be emptying, prices rocketing, and people reliant on insulin will have died.

Things can only get better.

 

The Madness of King Donald….

“A lot of people want the job. It’s a great job. It’s great because it’s a lot of fun to work for Donald Trump.”

Er…. yes. That was – Donald Trump speaking, in what’s become known as a “chopper talk” press gaggle on the WH lawn, posing in front of his airforce helicopter (that doesn’t work in the rain), explaining that he will have no trouble finding a replacement for John Bolton, the mad neocon armchair warmonger he hired last year as his third National Security advisor, and fired the other night as they appeared to agree on absolutely nothing and besides, he always hated that yellowing signature soup-strainer Bolton sports on his horsey upper lip, as it got him so much publicity.

Defending his attempt to rollback the phazing-out of energy-intensive tungsten lightbulbs, something we did in Europe about 20 years ago, Trump told a gathering it was because eco-friendlier low-energy bulbs “Always make me look orange”. This, in a speech to the Congressional Institute?

The guy has absolutely no self-awareness. The world is just an invention of his own diseased brain. A world through which he walks alone, troubled only by the shadows of the rest of us.

And then – this is the President who told another gathering this week that his wife Melania has a son – in wrapping up a rambling, delusionary and disorienting impromptu speech, he called Vice President Mike Pence: “Mike Pounds”, and then looked momentarily confused.

For God’s sake, Republican party, what the hell is wrong with you? You’re headed for oblivion with this demented old fraud in charge.

(Based on actual news clips satirized on The Late Show, 13 Sept.)

Thompson said: ‘I mean, I did get fired, but apart from that it was all smooth running.’

Double mammy: Al Johnson, as the PM might look in the age of color.

Depression news

Despite warnings from medical professionals and a number of deaths associated with the trials, Donald Trump has told his Health Department to order a vast quantity of a new, expensive, ketamine-based drug to be supplied to the Veterans Administration, for treating cases of PTSD in the military; where doctors have already advised, antidepressants can do more harm than good.

Are we to assume then that Trump “knows more about medicine than many doctors”, as he once met a doctor, or perhaps is it a case of another anonymous million-dollar donation quietly appearing in his re-election campaign war chest?

And make no mistake. Muh good friend, The Pumpkin is betting his jazz collection on Trump getting re-elected next year, if he has not been carted off with his arms folded in the meantime.

Just as, after ten years of vicious “austerity” warfare against the poorer two-thirds of the country, and as we head into a recession, the mendacious and incompetent Conservative government led by a bumbling and entitled unelected oaf, a careerist dilettante, a serial shagger and amateur racist who proposes to destroy the economy by dragging us in chaos out of the EU with nothing settled, and who has been branded a liar and a chancer by no less than former PM, David Cameron; the party selling places in the lifeboats for the rich while the rest of us drown in a sea of bubbling-hot shit, has a 12 per cent lead in the public opinion polls.

On both sides of the Atlantic, populist lunacy reigns.

 

“More than 60% of US adults hold at least one “new age” belief, such as placing faith in astrology or the power of psychics, and 42% think spiritual energy can be located in physical objects such as crystals” – Guardian report. The International Labor Organization estimates about 85,000 children work in Madagascar’s unregulated crystal mines, for the benefit of cretins like Gwyneth Paltrow and her tribe of emaciated airheads.

Depression News #2

It’s an ill-wind… “Shares in oil companies have jumped this morning, following the jump in crude prices.” (Guardian, jumping twice). Oil companies and armaments manufacturers are giving off the only signs that we’re not heading into a global recession, accompanied by a mooted US-led retaliatory strike on Iranian refineries, as all other market indices were showing red this morning.

If you were hoping to avoid a 5p rise in the unleaded price at the pumps today, you’re probably too late – althugh Trump is pumping ever harder. Aramco is now predicting it may take months to get back to full production after the drone strikes on the Abqaiq processing facility, which have interdicted half of Saudi Barbaria’s refinery output – 5% of the world’s oil supply.

Strikes for which the US has now managed to cobble together enough “intel” to suggest must have come from Iran or its proxies in Iraq, rather than from the Yemeni rebels who have claimed them.

Pundits now fear rising oil prices could be just the thing to kick off a global recession; while US banks – free once again to trade in dodgy debt-swaps with shareholder immunity risking only their depositors’ savings – could be even more just the thing to trigger another 2007-style lending crisis and a consequent depression, from which there might be no escape this time. The ECB and the Fed have already got the printing presses smoking hot and interest rates set below zero, but will it be enough?

Buckle up.

I keep saying that, don’t I? Yawn.

 

Depression News #3: “We can’t be sure…” etc.

“…if anything is masked by dimming, it’s the BBC”.

In an online story today, the good ole BBC carries a series of interviews with climate scientists including former UK chief scientist, David King.

All of them admit straight away, they’re scared. It’s all getting out of hand. Extreme weather events are coming thick and fast. They’re becoming more extreme, at an unpredicted rate.

But… we can’t be sure that any one event is linked to climate change!

Why does the BBC keep on parroting this sanitizing mantra? What actual relevance does making individual connections have, when joining the dots is scaring the pants off the people who know?

“Dr Friederike Otto from Oxford University is an expert in the attribution of extreme events to climate change. (So’s your Old Gran. It just comes natural, like…) She told us that in a pre-climate change world, a heatwave like this (France, June and July 2019, 46 and 43 deg. C) might strike once in 1,000 years. ‘In a post-warming world, the heatwave was a one-in-a-100 year phenomenon.’ (I know, that’s twice in one year! and they had Lucifer in 2017, and another one last year, 15 thousand heat deaths in 2003. But carry on, Dr Expert.) ‘In other words, natural variability is amplifying human-induced climate heating. (No, it’s the other way around!) With European heatwaves, we have realised that climate change is a total game-changer,’ she said.” Indeed. Good experting there, Dr Otto. I’m sure you know, it’s not a game.

But…  “it was impossible to be sure that the slow progress of Dorian was caused by climate change”. Oh, really? We know what the meteorological mechanisms are for the slowing forward progress, the more rapid intensification and increasing moisture-content of hurricanes. And it’s not just Dorian, it’s pretty well all of them now. Harvey? Florence? Michael? Idai? Kenneth? The Terrible Twins, Lekima and Krosa?

The Terrible Twins: Lekima and Krosa.

We know the climate is warming. And we know that all weather events are (and were always) the product of Earth’s climate.

Where’s the difficulty then in assuming that events that are more unusual and more extreme and more frequent than the norm are the obvious products of a changing climate – an overheating world?

Oh, but, says the top UN climate science guy, we don’t want to frighten the children!

Why the fuck do you think the children are striking and marching and demonstrating? It’s because they’re trying to frighten you! Why not listen to them?

And do stop telling us the world has warmed by “1 degree”! When you start from pre-industrial 1750 rather than 1880 you’re looking at 1.85 degrees already. Adjusting other variables as the scientists at Arctic News have been doing (admittedly controversially) brings us to nearer 3 degrees, but masked by the aerosol effect known as “global dimming” we can go on pretending if you like.

Your Old Gran has made the point many times before: if anything is masked by dimming, it’s the BBC.

 

“Two climate crisis protesters who removed Emmanuel Macron’s portrait from an official building were justified in doing so because of the severity of the environmental emergency, a judge has said. ​The ​judge in Lyon acquitted the pair of theft in a ruling hailed as historic by campaigners.” (Guardian)

And we want to leave the European Union?

Schools for scandal

“Each time a school becomes an academy the council must hand over the title deeds for the school if it has them (avg value £5m per school). As over 2,000 schools have been forced to become academies that is £10 billion (min) state assets (of which) Michael Gove has demanded the title deeds be handed to him.”

Legal fees involved in this incredible scam, uncovered five years ago by Michael Rosen, the “Childrens’ Laureate” at the time, amounted to another £50 million – all funded by the taxpayer.

Rosen’s attempts in 2014 to discover who now owned the title deeds make for even more shocking reading: a FOI request backed, in the face of unlawful prevarication, by a court order eventually revealed, there were no paper records or any form of traceable audit of the transfers of £10 billion in titles to formerly public buildings and land to the governors of the new schools, many of them Conservative party notables.

Gove, he adds, secretly set up a private company to process the deeds. But the money itself could not be traced. He later changed the law so that academies – unlike every other charity in the land – don’t have to publish accounts. Anyone “associated with the school” can now own the deeds, and even trade or sell them on; while the Government funds the payment of extortionate rents on the school properties to the new private “owners”.

The deeds have, in effect, been converted to a traded bond currency with no IFA oversight: “dark money”. While the “shareholders” of these new private school companies are indemnified at the public expense. THese are valuable public assets that have in effect been stolen by the state, and the money redistributed to private individuals.

Thus much of the money has ended up invested in offshore tax shelters and has been denied to the rest of our crumbling education system. As indeed, the schools were formerly in local authority ownership; while, as we know, local services – libraries, social care, housing, children’s services, “meals-on-wheels”, policing – pothole filling – have all been slashed to the marrow, thanks to the austerity measures imposed on us by this sickening bunch of rentier prostitutes, the Conservative party and its successive, failed governments.

Why this scandal is not better known, why the public has not burned down Parliament, I do not know. It is exactly the same system as was exploited by Vladimir Putin to vastly enrich his coterie of thuggish “oligarchs” in the new Russia, through the supra-legal disposals of holdings in formerly public companies; making himself probably the richest man in the world in the process. (He is believed to be worth twice as much as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.)

I learned about the scandal only today, from a link provided in a Comment on a Guardian piece reminding us how terrible Gove was as Education Secretary: principally, as evidenced by his cynical removal of classes covering civics, politics, contemporary history – and any mention of the EU – from the national curriculum, thus possibly explaining why there is so little resistance to Tory propaganda; so little interest in politics, or the EU, that the people can be easily bullied and manipulated into voting 180 degrees against their own interest.

It turns out, therefore, that in addition to being a duplicitous little shit, Gove is also very probably a criminal.

Would somebody please move for the arrest and trial of this mendacious little pox-doctor, on charges of conspiracy to defraud the public purse, and of misconduct while in office? Throw open the windows and let a little light and air in on his furtive activities? Whatever else by way of treacherous deception he might have engineered while nobody was looking?

And please Sir, can we have our education system back? No Tory government should be allowed within a mile of the school gates, they’re nothing but a bunch of economic perverts and ignorance pushers.

Thanks.

http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/gove-nicked-our-schools-and-handed-them.html

 

GW: under my umbrella, ella

Parts of eastern Spain received what in some places was their heaviest rainfall on record on Thursday, 12 Sept., with severe flash-flooding, as storms wreaked (wrought?) widespread destruction and killed at least 4 people. The regional emergency service said a 51-year-old woman and her 61-year-old brother had been found dead in an overturned car in Caudete. 2 other motorists drowned in Almeria and Granada. The town of Ontinyent in Valencia had recorded more than 400mm (16-in.) rainfall by Thursday afternoon. The Clariano river rose 9 meters (30ft) in 2 hours. Regional airports were closed. (Guardian)

Bahamas: Tropical storm warnings have been issued for the northwestern Bahamas, including Grand Bahama Island. Disturbance 95L became Potential Tropical Cyclone 9 on Thursday afternoon and follows Cat. 5 Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the northern Bahamas last week (1,300 still recorded as missing.) If this system were to become a tropical storm, it would be called Humberto. As of 2 a.m. EDT Friday (13 Sept.), the center of the system was about 210 miles southeast of Great Abaco Island with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. and potential to bring 300mm (15-in.) of rain (Accuweather) Behind it, a second disturbance has formed a disorganized system moving westwards out of the Cape Verde islands towards the Lesser Antilles, and stands a good chance of developing, monitors report.

Monday update: Strengthening hurricane, Humberto brushed by the Bahamas and then took a huge swing northeastwards, away from the Americas and out into the Atlantic. Bermuda is on standby. Watch out Portugal, or us, next week.

Brazil: Coffee lovers should consider stocking up on beans. Accuweather reports on market jitters, as: “the key coffee-growing region of Minas Gerais in Brazil has not had significant rain in three months. Average temperatures have been a whopping 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, and average precipitation has been 57% below normal since June 1.” No rain is in the forecast for the next three weeks.

USA: As powerful storms continue to batter the Midwest, September 2018 to August 2019 was again the wettest 12-month stretch on record for the contiguous United States as a whole. March and July were the only months that were slightly drier than average, but still maintained the year-on-year record. The top five wettest Jan-Aug periods have all occurred since 1979. (Wunderground, from where the NOAA graph below, showing rapid intensification, is also taken.)

Precipitation totals for 12-month spans from September to the following August, going back to 1895

The floppy jetstream is once again plunging southwards, as far as southern California – 100F degree temperatures around Sacramento are likely to be in the 60s by early this week, a new storm system is moving in and there’s a snow forecast for higher elevations. Tropical Storm Humberto has triggered storm warnings for Florida’s east coast. (Accuweather) Behind Humberto, “Imelda” (as yet only an unnamed depression) is forming off the Cape Verde islands.

Accuweather reports, Monday 16th: “Residents (in South Dakota) are facing record-breaking flooding as the Big Sioux River continues to rise. The National Weather Service said recently, that almost a foot of rain fell near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, over the course of two days. Multiple rivers and creeks surpassed previous water level records.”

Arctic: Prof. Beckwith’s latest podcast causes some puzzlement. While it’s clear from satellite scans that practically all the multi-year thick ice north of 60 deg. is gone, and there are still millions of square km of clear water around the outer edges of the ocean that weren’t there in Augusts past, it appears that the overall extent of sea ice that had been falling all summer in line with 2012’s record collapse had begun by mid-August to level off; although it’s thin and mushy. Despite record air temperatures, as the sun’s obliquity grows with the onset of winter, surface melting appeared to slow down early, although sub-surface melting continues for some weeks after, as the water beneath remains warm. No-one is quite sure why: aerosol masking from fires is one theory, fresh meltwater from Greenland another. So it looks like we won’t be getting the dreaded “blue water” event this year; but we’re still skating on thin ice.

UK – Wales: A Google search reveals the factoid that the average daily September temperature in the UK is 16.8C, with an average high of 18C. Happily then, in the shade of the enormous Photinia in my front garden, we hit 23.2 degrees at about 2 p.m. this fine, sunny – if still somewhat hazy – afternoon (13 Sept.); and 23.5 the next day. Truly, these are the Fortunate Isles!

World’s largest permafrost river, the Lena at Yakutsk dries to a record low, preventing winter supplies reaching outlying settlements. (Siberian Times)

Tunnel approaching….

“40% of the UK’s food is imported,” notes a parliamentary report. In the very near future, the Environmental Audit Committee says, “people would be at risk from sudden lurches in food prices if a no-deal Brexit resulted in trouble with imports, including higher costs, delays and shortages. Beyond the immediate effects of Brexit, the climate emergency and changing trade relationships may put the British diet in jeopardy.” The committee has called for urgent action to improve resilience, including water rationing, greater diversity in farming and a campaign against food waste.

Mary Creagh, the chair of the committee, said: “We are facing a food security crisis.”

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/17/uk-fresh-food-imports-areas-at-risk-climate-crisis-mps-warn

Meanwhile, the Department for Farming and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, has confirmed we are expecting the first case of African Swine Fever in Britain “within 12 months”. It’s already prevalent in eastern Europe. China has had to slaughter over a million pigs already and has dropped its tariffs against US pork producers to guarantee supply. China consumes half the world’s production, but the country expects to have to cull another 250 million pigs to try to contain the outbreak of what is being described as potentially the world’s worst ever animal disease pandemic. World prices are rising.

…a short essay

“Denialism comes riding on My Little Pony.”

The sheer irrelevance of political journalism

I keep abandoning halfway through, long, thoughtful, worried articles in the kind of liberal press I tend to read, giving tendentious political analysis – Brexit, the Farage party, Johnson, Cummings, shutting down Parliament, whither democracy and the political system?, civil discourse, globalism, Orban, Salvini, street violence, treason, hedge funds, Nazis, Twitter rants, Trump’s chaotic foreign policy, left, right – the rule of law.

Not one of them betrays the slightest awareness of the parallel climate crisis that is hurling itself upon us with ever-increasing velocity, violence – and expense. Not one appears to be aware that an extinction event is already far advanced, of mammalian species, that unfortunately now includes the human race; and that this is a political, as well as a scientific and geophysical conundrum: not, can we now prevent?, but how are we going to manage our own extinction?

Not one journalist seems to understand the connection: that, whatever political systems are in place five years from now, our “leaders” will have to grapple with issues humanity has not had to face in the last 13 thousand years, at least since the cosmic collision event that extincted the northern megafauna – and nearly us too; nor are the “leaders” seemingly capable of factoring those issues into their self-obsessed, narrow-minded, anachronistic ideologies.

It is as if politics and the environment are entirely separate issues proceeding on parallel tracks, with a high wall between.

The author and New York Times contributor, Jonathan Franzen – an expert amateur ornithologist, by the way, who travels the world in search of rare birds, has written a polemic in which he concludes, there is no way out of the situation we have gotten ourselves into.

And a silly little girl claiming to be a “climate scientist”, Kate Marvel writes a reply in the Scientific American, telling Franzen to “shut up”.

After several paragraphs describing the situation exactly as it is: fossil fuel overdependency, feedbacks kicking in, non-linear warming, ice vanishing, levels of CO2 in the amosphere unknown during the 2 million years humans have existed, environmental degradation, etcetera, etcetera, she writes – believe it or not: “I am a scientist, which means I believe in miracles.”

It is gobsmacking stuff. Denialism comes riding on My Little Pony.

That’s the childish, panic-stricken, self-censoring level to which – I won’t call it a debate – scientific discourse has sunk. Franzen’s view is soundly supported by numerous serious scientists, many of whom are being “shut up” by the vested interests for whom truth is an elastic polymer. None, so far as I know, is offering us a “miracle”.

Even where mainstream media journalists do crossover from their political navel-gazing into quasi-scientific environmentalism, not one seems fully apprised of the depth of the hot shit we are now swimming in, or prepared to peer into the abyss. Twelve years, according to the IPCC? Don’t be so fucking naive, we were given 12 years by the UN in 1989!

I could name you all, you sober and sensible political journalists with your furrowed concern for the future of democracy, but why bother? You know who you are. Just wake up and look around, you self-absorbed, incurious boobies.

The totalitarianism and exclusionary nativism you see rising all around us are the direct consequence of a universal but unspoken consciousness that we are fast approaching the end time. We face a fascist-style, dictatorial future, only because kleptocratic authoritarianism is the natural political response to looming dystopian chaos, the collapse of the civilized postwar consensus in which some – for a time – will win, and the rest of us will unfortunately be left to perish.

Populist totalitarianism and exclusionary nativism are – literally – the zeitgeist.

Is it the answer you want?

Then try asking the question. Earn your money.

And now I’ll shut up.

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Brexit: behind the curtain… Polluted waters run deep… Corbyn, eh? Pathetic. Predictable… Counting on chaos… Pot, kettle, smack… GW: Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain… Climate of concern.

Brexit: behind the curtain

“It’s perhaps no surprise … to find that those pushing for a hard or no-deal Brexit also have strong ties to a trans-Atlantic climate science denial network.”

“Three current cabinet ministers have denied the scientific consensus on climate change and several of those standing in the Tory leadership contest have close links with organisations and individuals promoting climate denial.”

– Thus, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s shadow Environment secretary, speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions last week, quoted in Open Democracy: “The tangled web of Tory leadership candidates and climate science denial”, 14 June.

Are we seeing the final clues emerging, to the dark-money influences behind the Brexit vote? The bones of the coup?

According to Open Democracy’s Matt Hope, the DeSmog environmental campaign has traced an astonishing two thousand connections between Brexit-voting MPs and known denier groups, false-front climate “research” organizations, corrupted academics and politicians, many founded and funded by energy industry science deniers such as the Kochs, “pushing for environmental regulations to be rolled back”, as they are being by the corrupt Trump junta in America.

(Trump has recently said he is minded to allow uranium mining in the iconic Grand Canyon national park. He really hates America.)

Since the IPCC report came out last year, GW has noticed, and despite fulsome acknowledgments that the energy corporations have known about the problem perfectly well for decades, there have been renewed attempts to undermine the consensus on global heating caused by man-made climate change, almost on the heroic scale of a Chernobyl fire; principally, by undermining faith not only in climate science, but in all science: it’s all too uncertain! All just conjecture, compared with the Biblical certainty that God created the world in 6 days; starting, as Bishop Usher calculated, on 22 October, 4004 BC.

So let’s sit on it while the jury is still out. (The jury that grew old and died years ago.)

These revelations come on top of the clear, loud and obvious threats coming from across the Atlantic, supported by treacherous cunts like Trump-shill Nigel Farage, to breakup the NHS and sell it off to US health insurers; to foist lower food hygiene and animal welfare standards on us; to introduce brutal, high-pressure corporate farming methods, and to breakup the BBC and sell its TV divisions off to US media corporations.

On top of that again, are the well-funded efforts of US Christian evangelical foundations to bring about an end to women’s rights to family planning, promoting a patriarchal, anti-Islamic, white-nativist agenda, with a direct money-pipeline to Farage’s Brexit and other rightwing groups in Europe.

It’s not me saying it: all of this shit has been publicly exposed and expressly endorsed by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. But you’re just not fucking widey-woke enough to get it. (No, okay, you are but they’re not.)

Listening, any Leavers? You’ve been had. Again. When are you going to wake up from your pugnacious, self-satisfied dreams of empire and understand, this is NOT what you persist in shouting-down as “Project Fear”. The vested interests behind your fatal vote are going to eat-up this country for profit. They don’t want the world you want.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/tangled-web-tory-leadership-candidates-and-climate-science-denial/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=95dea4d99b-

“That it is even possible to find and prove and convict for actual treason in peacetime is a legal nicety.”

Polluted waters run deep

While, your old Granny Weatherwax (see GW columns below and passim) prompts the Bogler to conjecture that the defenestration by the Tory party of poor Mrs May might certainly, in the light of the above, have followed a deliberate and sustained campaign of vituperation in the press, on social media and in Comment threads, leading to her downfall.

Was The Guardian’s editorial board “had” by these seething, ambitious traitors too?

That it is even possible to find and prove and convict for actual treason in peacetime is a legal nicety.

But the removal of a Prime Minister, her elected authority undermined and destroyed by secretive actors funded by global corporations and alt-right ultras, her actions thwarted at every turn by a vicious little cabal within her own party, whose influence sadly extends beyond itself, might certainly amount to a coup d’état, given that one of Mrs May’s last vain attempts to maintain the status quo ante while in office has been to announce a commitment to speedier and deeper decarbonization.

Can’t let that happen.

Clearly, as revelations emerge of their clandestine connections via the Tufton Street nest of vipers, the tobacco industry-founded IER and its feral children, with Big Oil and Coal, as well as with the evangelical right in America and its allied Orthodox Christian-empiricists in Russia, not “Fatberg” Johnson nor any of his shitheaded enablers and opponents, except possibly “Snowy” Gove, is planning to honor her dying efforts to spare the planet.

Their rank corruption pollutes everything it touches. Literally, it seems.

 

Corbyn, eh? Pathetic. Predictable.

“A source close to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who went to Tehran last week and tried to initiate an unsuccessful mediation between Trump and the Iranian regime, told Kyodo News Agency that what the Americans had presented as evidence did not amount to “definite proof” that Iran was to blame.” – The Washington Post, Monday 17 June.

Oh, but I thought politicians demanding more conclusive proof of an Iranian attack on tankers in the Gulf using mines were “pathetic”? At least, that’s what Tory leadership challenger, Jeremy Hunt told us was wrong with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said he wanted more proof the attack was carried out by Iran, and was:

“Pathetic and predictable. From Salisbury to the Middle East, why can he never bring himself to back British allies, British intelligence or British interests?”

Oh, but I thought that British general in charge of our forces in the Gulf told the defense chiefs there was no evidence of Iranian escalation? And the Americans and their asscreeper, Hunt told him to shut up and mind his own business? And now the Japanese Prime Minister is “pathetic and predictable” too, is he?

So how about our “allies”, the Germans?

“’The video is not enough,’ German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters. ‘We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me.’”

God, how pathetic. How predictable.

Something disgusting is being cooked up and our pathetic and predictable Tory foreign secretary wants us to be up to our bloodied elbows in it, his head firmly rammed between Trump’s fat asscheeks, caressing his furry little orange balls with his forked tongue like an ass-snake, an assp, just to prove Britain is still a world power that can talk a tough game while having fuck-all to back it up and a failed minority government in total disarray, a nation betrayed by a bunch of alt-right-funded Brexit ultras, that this failed ex-health minister is desperate to lead for all of four months, until hopefully we kick them into the long grass for a generation.

Pathetic. Predictable.

 

Counting on chaos

“As Edexcel is the only privately owned examination board in the UK, questions have been raised on whether the examination board is acting in the best interest of students, or solely as a profit making business, due to the wide range of officially endorsed text books published by Pearson, the international multi-billion company who owns the exam board Edexcel.” – Wikipedia entry, failing on grammar but otherwise instructive, as ever.

A-level Maths students in the UK have been devastated to learn that for the third year in a row, “someone” had leaked part of the Maths, Stats and Mechanics exam paper in advance, and after two years of hard studying and late-nights revising, their marks will suffer as a result.

A tweet published by BBC News showing the questions being hawked around for £70 a go contained the misspelled word “tommorrow”, which ought to be a strong clue that a teacher is behind the leak.

Students are bitterly criticizing the outsourced contractor, Edexcel, for the sheer incompetence they continue to show, year after year. It seems the leak was discovered in advance, and a secure substitute paper exists to be handed out in just such an emergency, but the company either couldn’t get its act together in time or couldn’t be bothered.

Edexcel have denied all responsibility, claiming it’s a minor breach and all down to the schools. No surprise, surely, as there seems to be not one outsourced contractor in Government service in the entire country in any sector, from education to health to security, that isn’t employing a groaning heap of baboons who have been at the fermented fruit again.

They are all, without exception, thoroughly rotten at their jobs. But they have the advantage of being cheap, which is all the Treasury cares about.

The whole principle of outsourcing is based on offering a lowest common denominator service supplied by foreign-owned companies and/or overdiversified hard-hat building and engineering operations desperate for “wet-weather” revenue-earners, of which there can be no reasonable expectation of quality outcomes, concern for users, competence and dedication to service. Yet another such, Keir Group, is battling liquidation as I write, and has announced many job losses.

Your Uncle Bogler pays for his annual week in France through twice a year, for two-and-a-half weeks, taking on the role of an exam invigilator at his local University of Boglington-on-Sea. (Okay, I’m an outsourcer too!) The job is kind of a cross between a butler and a nanny, a policeman and a purveyor of fine stationery to the terminally penless.

He has to mention that this year, he was aware of at least three occasions when batches of papers were sent out by the various departments to be distributed that day, that contained – clearly in error – copies of the wrong papers, that were not due to go out until the following day or week. He understands this to be a possible criminal offence. Add to which, the rising number of proofreading errors in questions having to be back-checked in the middle of exams.

The point was raised, with some concern, and the explanation given that the University has been in the habit of writing to departmental admin staff recently, demanding that they re-apply for their contracts on lower grades and zero-hours contracts; while dozens of take-back redundancy notices have been issued, and the lucky survivors reallocated ad hoc to departments often where they have had no previous experience.

In other words, no-one has the slightest idea what the fuck they are doing anymore.

Taken together with, for instance, the disasters over the uncoordinated changes to the railway timetables last year, the utter shambles that has marked the Brexit negotiations and the demise of the Conservative party, it is not hyperbole to suggest that our familiar civilization is genuinely falling apart around our ears, and the process is rapidly accelerating.

 

US televangelist, Rick Wiles has warned his congregation that meatless vegeburgers contain Satan.

 

Pot, kettle, smack

The traitor, US President Trump, busy lying that he never said he would welcome illegal help from the Russians to get re-elected, like that other Trump did on ABC TV last week, has been tweeting his usual racist garbage against the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, following a mini-spate of knifings and a shooting in the city on Friday.

As if it is any of his filthy, goddam business. Does he run this country? Don’t answer that.

“US President Donald Trump, who has a long-running political feud with Mr Khan, took to Twitter to say London “needs a new mayor ASAP. Khan is a disaster – will only get worse!”

No mention there of sympathy for the victims’ families; no acknowledgement of the exemplary speedy arrests by the Metropolitan Police. And no mention of the fact that the “feud” has been entirely one-way, since Khan originally made a disparaging remark about Trump’s attempt to ban Muslims from entering the USA – which would have included him.

Trump has not ceased since his inauguration to criticize the management of Britain and other countries – Sweden, who knew? – while praising Norway, oddly, at every possible occasion. Tall, blond Norway… reminds him of his daughter? Would he like to fuck Norway?

Just bile spewing from his fat gut and an overweening sense of his own importance, that he is putting before, even, his own country. To Britain’s eternal discredit, however, weird stary-eyed Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has endorsed his anti-Khan tweet, saying he “150 per cent” supports Trump’s quoting the insane bitch-harridan, Katie Hopkins’ racist ravings about “Londonistan”.

Deary me. And this pathetic shill wants to be Prime Minister. Under a second Trump presidency, no doubt. It’s a bad look.

The three deaths, says BBC News, take the total number of murders in London in 2019 to 56.

Oh, isn’t that fewer in 6 months than are murdered in one day, every day, by plain folks and their guns in Mr Trump’s festering, Wild West country? Thirty-three THOUSAND violent deaths a year? Some very good people, obviously.

Trump is the fucking disaster. Will only get worse – if the cowardly, pusillanimous Democrat leaders don’t start impeachment proceedings immediately. Needs a new President.

Trump has instructed his assfucked acolytes not to testify or submit documents to Congress, despite legal subpoenas and threats of lesser impeachments, and to ignore court orders at which he openly sneers. He’s accepting illegal foreign campaign donations in exchange for promises of access, and putting out fake videos to slander his opponents while claiming the media, the “Enemy of the people”, is “fake news”. He and his family members are openly and illegally profiting from office.

He has rejected a call from one of his own appointees, a judge on a special ethics committee, to sack “senior advisor” Kellyanne Conway for numerous, egregious breaches of the Hatch Act, which supposedly prevents civil servants from openly endorsing political candidates or promoting commercial interests, such as Ivanka Trump’s “fashion” brands. On TV last month Conway sneered at the Special Counsel: “Blah, blah, blah. Let me know when the jail sentence begins”.

These are the actions of outrageous criminals who believe they are untouchable because of the power of the President.

A career criminal himself, Trump has no respect whatever for the rule of law. Never has. Never will. Why he thinks that qualifies him to comment on law and order issues in other countries, no-one can say.

It’s just that he hates Muslims, I guess.

And that’s fine with Jeremy.

 

“Last year, the equivalent of 68,000 shipping containers of American plastic recycling were exported from the US to developing countries that mismanage more than 70% of their own plastic waste.” (Guardian “Toxic USA” investigation)

 

GW: Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain

China: “At least 61 people have been killed and 356,000 evacuated from their homes as heavy rain and floods swept through large parts of southern and central China this week. … Local authorities say “9,300 homes have collapsed and 3.71 million hectares of farmland damaged during the floods, with direct economic losses now estimated at 13.35 billion yuan ($1.93bn).” (Al Jazeera)

Sudan: As if a murderous, apparently endless civil war is not enough, “at least 770 homes have been completely destroyed and hundreds more damaged by flash floods that swept through some of the most vulnerable areas of North Darfur on 10 June. At least 420 homes were reportedly destroyed by floods in camp Rwanda for the displaced in Tawilah locality”, and three children injured. Of concern to the authorities is the loss of most of the camp’s temporary sanitation. (from Floodlist)

Indonesia: Following floods last week in nearby Sulawesi, “flooding has affected over 35,000 people in Samarinda City in East Kalimantan Province, according to local disaster authorities.” No injuries have been reported. “The Mahakam river, in the east of the island of Borneo, overflowed after heavy rain on 09 June.” (from Floodlist)

Italy: “Homes, businesses and a campsite were evacuated in Lombardy on 12 June, due to flooding from the Varrone and Pioverna rivers. Heavy rain and severe weather in Europe since 09 June 2019 has caused flash floods in parts of the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Greece and Poland (from Floodlist). More storms, with high winds, big hail and intense rainfall are arriving over eastern areas of France and Germany, up into Denmark. (Severe-weather.eu, 14 June)

France: has declared a state of natural disaster, “after rain and hail storms lashed a swathe of the south-east on 15 June, devastating crops. The flash storms, which brought hailstones as big as pingpong balls to some areas, killed 2 people in France and Switzerland, and injured at least 10 others. The worst-hit area … is known as the ‘orchard of France’. The agriculture minister said the government would … introduce emergency measures to deal with what he described as a catastrophe for farmers.” (Guardian)

UK: After 2 months’ worth of rain fell in 48 hours, a local state of emergency was declared on 13 June and hundreds of residents evacuated from 580 properties in the town of Wainsfleet, Lincolnshire, as the local river burst its banks and temporary shoring threatened to give way. “Passengers on a London to Nottingham train were stranded for 8 hours following a landslide. Commuters were transferred to a second train which also became stuck due to flooding on the line. Food and water ran out onboard and 1 person collapsed.” (BBC News)

USA: And the wet goes on. “Locally heavy rain (and thunderstorms) are expected to return to the Arkansas and Mississippi River valleys by Father’s Day weekend, bringing another risk of flash flooding to rain-fatigued parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma that could last well into next week.” (The Weather Channel)

India: Has escaped the worst of Cat 2 Typhoon Vayu as the storm has turned northward parallel to the coast. The Typhoon Warning Center placed Vayu about 90 miles out, 14 June. “The storm had top winds of 110 mph and was headed north-northwest at 4 mph, with tropical-storm-force winds extending out 145 – 170 miles.” It’s still bringing damaging wind, waves and heavy rain to coastal regions. “About 300,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Gujarat, where a storm surge is forecast of 1.3 meters (4.3 feet). (The Weather Channel)

Unfortunately that means no relief yet from the brutal heatwave inland that has claimed 36 lives. With cities turning into “urban heat islands”, where temperatures in recent weeks have nudged 50C, 122F, a scarcity of water has led to fighting in the streets, with a number of stabbings, injuries and even deaths. (Deutsche Welt)

Australia: The quarterly update of Australia’s greenhouse gases, which span December 2018 to March 2019, showed a 0.7% hike in emissions. Save for agriculture and electricity, all sectors were up. Pollution from the manufacturing, construction and commercial sectors and domestic heating shot up by 6%. Emissions reduction minister, Angus Taylor, says Australia is still on course to meet its Paris commitment to a 28% reduction by 2030. Shadow energy minister Mark Butler says he’s a liar. (Guardian)

Climate of concern

CO2: Normally starts to reduce in May in the northern hemisphere as spring vegetation growth starts to absorb more. Of concern therefore must be a sudden spike in the weekly average over the past two days, putting concentrations back to the late May 414.5 ppm high. At its peak in mid-May it was over 415.7, up 10 ppm from March last year.

A glance at the weekly averages curve over the whole of 2018-9 is scary enough, but the long-term average in just the last 40 years shows a 50%-plus rise in CO2 concentration over the previous rate of increase from the pre-industrial background of 280 ppm. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html

That’s a rather clumsy way of saying it’s been rising twice as fast as it was before 1980. And remember, CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas – the others are all increasing more rapidly than previously.

The Great Debate: You know how the media is constantly parroting the line that you can’t tell if “man made” global warming is responsible for any individual event? Well, now you can. New modeling by Oxford University has shown without doubt that there is absolutely zero probability of last year’s lethal heatwave in Japan having been caused by anything else. Oh, and it’s happened again already this year. (Climate change news)

Denierworld latest: As Trump calls for pipeline protestors to be jailed for 20 years, comes news from the Washington Post that EPA officials were ordered by the White House to shutdown a report compiled by two intelligence agencies for a Congressional committee, affirming previous Pentagon assessments that “climate change” is posing possibly the greatest threat to national security. I’d give you more on that but I can’t afford the $90 a year Jeff Bezos wants for me to be allowed to read articles in the WaPo.

Tunnel approaching…

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser went off Saturday 15th for the 22nd time this year. Intervals have shortened from every 7 to every 5 to every 3 days…. “Normal” is two or three times a year. Earthquake swarms, ground uplift, magma “drumbeats”, rising “melt”, volcanic outgassing and harmonic tremors continuing in the caldera. USGS’ live webcams mysteriously freezing, data disappearing. (Mary Greeley)

Heating: The Canadian permafrost is already thawing at the rate previously anticipated to occur by 2090. Greenland shed 50% of its normal annual summer ice loss just last week. Coastal areas (higher humidity) in places like the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea are approaching the limits of human survivability. (Paul Beckwith)

While, “humans are already functionally extinct” may come as a shock to some people (Arctic News, 10 June).

Functional extinction describes a state where sufficient adverse factors exist to bring about imminent population collapse. The Australian koala, for instance, is said to be functionally extinct, after 30 million years on earth. Once shot in their millions for their fur, the cuddly marsupials are down to a population of about 80,000. In itself that might be enough to preserve the species, but habitat loss is scattering ever-smaller communities over ever-wider distances, leading to inbreeding and epidemic disease. Throw in more brutal heatwaves like this summer’s, and they’re gone in a matter of years.

Another indication of imminent human extinction is, of course, the bellicose policies being pursued by US Secretary of State, Mike “two lunches in a suit” Pompeo. An evangelical Christian of great fervor, he says the bible informs everything he does, and he’s a genuine believer in the Rapture – a millennarian, end-of-the-world prophesy in which crazy, fat assholes like him lose their clothes and fly up directly to meet Jesus in Heaven while the rest of us burn. God will then create a new Earth for the righteous. “Fight for it”, he has urged congregations. (New York Times 30 March, et al.)

I kid you not, this delusional, Koch brothers-funded lunatic is in charge of Trump’s foreign policy.

Take cover.

 

I lasted 18 seconds… You can’t eat a fucking Social Mobility Action Plan, Mrs May… Poisoning the diplomatic atmosphere…GW: Dead…

Pulling strings: Nigel Farage commands the fish to rise from the waters. (Sky News)

“Even a second series of The Night Manager would suck less air out of the schedules.”

 I lasted 18 seconds

Forty or so years ago there used to be a pretty anodyne and harmless but highly rated family quiz on Sunday evening primetime TV. You tended to put it on in the suburban background in lieu of anything else, other than getting remorselessly pissed on gin, there being only one and a half channels to watch and no Netflix in those good old days.

From left: £4.2 million; £3.5 million. (BBC/ David Venni) Uncle Bogler (top): £ zero million. Oh well, next time.

All-singing, all-dancing, genial master of the catchphrase: “Alright, muh luvs?” “Nice to see you, to see you nice”, etcetera – (I never promised you a prose garden, btw) – Bruce Forsyth would get contestants to stuff a duvet blindfolded in under half a minute by the big counting-down studio clock, whatever, make fools of themselves, ask them some easy questions and they’d get a chance to go away happy with a pile of crap from the pound shop, items they’d memorized going around on a conveyor belt (“Cuddly toy!”), with a main prize usually of a small, silently rusting British Leyland car to astound an audience living on five quid a week, as one was.

National treasure, Sir Brucey twirled off for the last time into the wings last year, aged 180. (“Didn’t he do well?”) So now the BBC has revived his old show with the help of the rest of the Strictly Come Dancing “comedy” presentation team: usually quite funny comedienne hoping to go straight, Sue Perkins and her besty, Mel Gdrcie (Are you sure about the spelling? Ed.), lavishing a fortune bled from your £145.50 a year TV license fee on brightly colored sets, bizarre costumes, props and raising the heights of the TV Centre doorways for special guest Richard Osman to pass through.

Unfortunately money is not, and never has been, an adequate substitute for creative originality. You need more sparkly tat.

So, anyway, if you don’t know who Richard Osman is, ask his mother. A gameshow host, promoted from Assistant Gameshow Host (“the scores, please, Richard, and cut the smartypants ad-libbing!”) he supplements his daytime TV income from a show appropriately called Pointless!, where I think the idea is contestants start with points and have to lose them, by making frequent appearances on other gameshow hosts’ gameshows.

It’s nowadays impossible that an entertainment can be created just for the TV audience (controversy has already arisen over whether the studio audience lives in a can or just shares a strange laugh that breaks out for no obvious reason now and again); Osman appeared to be one of an entire panel of “celebrity” experts invited at great expense to sit next to the stage and comment on the performance of a fat lady spinning plates. I mention Osman so frequently, only because I do at least know who he is. He’s unmistakably tall.

Even a second series of The Night Manager would suck less air out of the schedules.

Within ten seconds I was already feeling as if I’d had a flannel full of Novichok stuffed in my face. Switching off Sue and Mel’s Generation Game moments later was purely an autonomic reflex before paralysis set in. Fortunately they’re only making two in the “series”, although I have my suspicions.

Disapproving of the product, a cheap cigarette brand made from the floor sweepings at Imperial Tobacco after the night shift had gone home, under duress I once wrote an ad campaign that was so deliberately far downmarket, I’d hoped it would never get up again. The normal response to a similar campaign might with luck just be 1.5%. My hideously garish, illiterate, insulting mailshot pulled 16%. I was the hero of the hour.

No-one ever got anywhere overestimating the tastes of a bussed-in British TV audience, either. I thought those people had gone extinct in the 1980s, but… Brexit?

Look forward then to an extended run, maybe as the nights start lengthening in the Autumn and the realities of our economic situation set in, a return to the 1980s will seem attractive. In a week or so, even hardened Guardian critics will be polishing up phrases like “all good family fun” so as not to seem out of touch with the zeitgeist.

Oh. They already are.

Floral wallpaper, anybody?

 

“It’s the grey skin, the pallor. It’s the pallor you really notice.”

You can’t eat a fucking Social Mobility Action Plan, Mrs May.

Four out of five head teachers are reporting growing signs of malnutrition and sickness among their pupils.

A report compiled with the Child Poverty Action Group, presented at the annual conference of the National Education Union in Brighton reveals that many schools are having to devote increasing time and resources, not to improving test results, but to social action programs to try to relieve the consequences of nine years of knuckleheaded, attritional Government cuts to welfare, universal child benefit, tax credits – creating adverse knock-on social deficits, such as massive reductions in local government safeguarding services.

Among measures they are having to take are:

  • Creating food banks and handing out food parcels
  • Teachers supplementing meagre ‘bread and margarine’ lunches out of their own pockets
  • Providing free uniforms and laundry facilities to keep homeless children looking clean
  • Staying open during holidays with volunteer teachers providing meals
  • Offering free debt counselling
  • Providing emergency loans to families.

One head from Nottingham noted:

“Monday morning is the worst. There are a number of families that we target that we know are going to be coming into school hungry. By the time it’s 9.30am they are tired. It’s the grey skin, the pallor. It’s the pallor you really notice.”

Another from Portsmouth, said there had been a four-fold increase in the number of children with child protection issues. “Every one of these issues has had something to do with the poverty that they live in. It’s neglect. It’s because they and their families don’t have enough money to provide food, heating or even bedding.”

Head teachers acknowledged that many of the parents of these starving children are working poor, who would be marginally better off on benefits.

The Department of Education has responded with the following:

(We want) “to create a country where everyone can go as far as their talents can take them. That’s why we launched our social mobility action plan, which sets out measures to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged students and their peers…”

Mmm, yummy. Nutritious action plan for lunch again.

Dear God, voters of Britain, when will you look up from your stupid fucking phones, instruments of social control, and throw these diseased incompetents on the bonfire of history? No civilized country should be managed like this in the 21st century.

How anyone could tolerate the continuance of this demented, morally bankrupt Tory government whose sole economic policy is, and has been for some time, to deliberately starve children of the food their brains need to “close the educational attainment gap”, is quite beyond me.

The sixth largest economy in the world and we cannot house, clothe or feed our people. Yet our crazy housing market adds two thousand paper millionaires to the heap each year. It’s obscene.

As is the brutal illogicality of spending millions on remedial action (as they claim to be doing. The evidence suggests they are lying) to “reduce child poverty” at the same time as depriving parents of the income they need to reduce child poverty.

No?

(Edited from a BBC News report, 02 April: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-43611527)

 

So who could help feed Britain’s 120 thousand homeless children, and why should they?

“British wealth rose to a record £12.8 trillion in June 2016” (Cityam.com, who genuinely have a banking correspondent called Jasper Jolly…)

“A quarter of all new UK wealth goes to millionaires” (Oxfam report). “A total of 3.6 million households in Britain held wealth of more than £1m by June 2016, up 29% in two years” (BBC, quoting Office for National Statistics.)

“With the number of millionaires on the up, the wealth of the top 10 per cent of households was five times that of the bottom half combined by the end of 2016.” (thisismoney.co.uk)

“The £2 million given to him to help buy a home in the capital includes payments of £28,000 a month to cover mortgage interest. These total £740,000 since he took the top job in the summer of 2015. He will keep any profit he makes on the swish apartment if he decides to sell or rent it out. In addition to interest payments, the Pru handed Wells £514,000 to cover stamp duty on his new home – enough to buy a £5 million property. Because the payment is a taxable benefit, he was given £330,000 to settle his bill with Revenue & Customs. The company paid £200,000 for his possessions to be shipped across the Atlantic. He was also given £178,000 for temporary accommodation while he was waiting for the purchase to complete. That takes the total he has received for housing costs to £1.96 million. On top of that, he received £37,000 last year to cover flights back to the US. Wells’s package came to £8.7 million last year, taking his total pay and bonuses since he became chief executive in June 2015 to £23.6 million.” (thisismoney.co.uk on the staggering remuneration package of the Prudential UK CEO, Mike Wells.)

Of course, he may give it all away to Britain’s legions of grey children. Who knows, stranger things have happened.

 

Poisoning the diplomatic atmosphere….

As diplomatic relations slip through the rabbit-hole into an Alice in Wonderland world of threats and conspiracy theories, many of them thrown up by the wily Russian who succeeded as ambassador to the UN, a predecessor whose autopsy following his sudden death a year ago has been marked Classified, the odd case of the Salisbury Poisoner continues to raise many apparently unanswerable questions.

The Pumpkin has asked many of these right from the beginning. It has been said, for instance, that novichok A232 is a virtually instantaneously acting nerve agent, whose lethality decays over time. Yet the Skripals apparently spent several hours having lunch in town after they were supposedly contaminated at home, before they were found unconscious on a park bench.

And they have both apparently survived; unlike a Russian banker and his secretary who were also poisoned with a novichok agent in Moscow in 1995 and died almost immediately. A tribute to the skills of the NHS, I expect.

If A232 decays to the point of non-lethality, then why is it that people in suits are still scraping around Salisbury weeks later looking for traces of it to decontaminate? What do they expect to find?

Who uses their front door handle to close the door behind them?

What was Skripal doing with two guinea-pigs in the house? (Dimwitted Plod apparently sealed-up the house, leaving the Skripals’ two cats and the guinea-pigs inside to die of thirst and starvation. One of the cats was eventually taken, barely alive, to Porton Down for examination for traces of nerve agent but had to be put down by a vet. The other has gone missing. This is surely a matter for the RSPCA?) I’ll repeat the question. Cats, okay, so James Bond – but what was Skripal doing with two guinea-pigs in the house?

Did he manufacture the A232 himself, for some other purpose? It can be done in your garage, apparently, following some simple instructions available from certain sources. See:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/06/uk-us-case-file-russian-nerve-agent-shikhany-spy-poisoning

Many questions also remain, concerning the contaminated policeman, Detective Sergeant Bailey. It now appears a second, unnamed policeman was also treated in hospital. Why has he remained unnamed thus far, but not Bailey? Did Skripal have a security detail – or just a tail?

Where did they come into contact with the A232? If it was at the house, as was reported, then how did the police know to go there before the couple had been identified or a nerve agent had even been pinpointed as the cause of the Skripals’ distress? When in the timeline did that happen – as it’s not the most likely scenario?

If someone had searched the unconscious Skripal’s pockets and found an address, how were they not also contaminated?

If the nerve agent had been suspected before Sgt Bailey went to the house, why did he go there unprotected? Was Sgt Bailey indeed the “first responder” at the scene – a detective sergeant, called out to a report of two people who, witnesses say, looked like drunks or druggies on a park bench?

If he had been, then he surely would not have been the one to go straight to the house….  as he would have been too busy making reports at the scene. Did he already know who the Skripals were, and where they lived?

Was someone anticipating just this scenario?

Nothing adds up and I doubt it ever will. But if I were Yulia Skripal, I certainly would not want to go back to Moscow with Cousin Viktoria.

Just sayin’.

 

GW:

“The greatest declines were seen in west Antarctica. At eight of the ice sheet’s 65 biggest glaciers, the speed of retreat was more than five times the rate of deglaciation since the last ice age” – cpom.org.uk

With a current 4C 2m/surface temperature anomaly, Antarctica is now coming in for the scare story treatment as scientists find that most of the melting is going on unnoticed, UNDERNEATH the vast ice shelves and glaciers.

“The results could prompt an upward revision of sea-level rise projections.” – (UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling.)

Spring 2017

Dead

In April last year I’d already begun posting in amazement at the incredible outpouring of biomass I’d observed in our valley. The speed and volume of growth so early in the year were, in my view, unprecedented.

Climbers fighting for light, 2017.

Trees that would not normally crown before May were already densely and – for a change – healthily in leaf; wildflowers were blooming, the nearby playing fields covered in snowy mats of daisies; ground-cover and climbing plants fighting for light in the densely packed hedgerows and head-high clumps of already berrying brambles.

Just outside my studio, five years ago I planted perennial herbs. A border hedge of rosemary; oregano, that would be covered in bees, a clump of thyme. And a rather expensive, miniature ornamental Japanese acer.

They’re all dead.

As is most of a hebe I planted three years ago in the front garden; although a couple of other plantings seem healthy – a hydrangea labelled ‘hardy’ seems to be just that, coming into leaf. The early clematis Hendersonii is in flower…

But nothing much has come to life in the valley. I’m walking Hunzi along paths lined with dried-out, dead last-year’s vegetation, withered brambles, a few bearing stricken early leaf buds; here and there ivy, leaves turning brown at the tips, shrivelled berries; evergreens looking blasted and ever-brown; clumps of bleached grass; a few daisies, celandine and dandelions showing, but nothing like the riot of exuberance we had this time last year.

Spring 2018.

Evergreens turning brown.

Now, okay, admittedly it has been a colder winter, later than we’ve had for a while. But not nearly as cold or snowy here on the west coast as in the east. Cold and wet. And I haven’t seen any flying insects at all (no, a few midges came out yesterday with the sun and I was buzzed by a solitary foraging bee on our walk in the rain just now. It won’t find anything.) While the birds started nesting in February, I’m wondering what they’re getting to eat?

Then, I’m seeing too that these die-offs appear to be recent, and simultaneous, although the hardest frost was three weeks ago. It’s like Russia has sprayed everything overnight with weedkiller.

Is it something we’ve done?

USA: caught in a loop of the jetstream, Winter Storm Wilbur is dumping another foot of snow over the northern states, from the Rockies to the Great Lakes, as the song goes. It’s the fifth major winter storm event of the year, but it’s a double-whammy as a second front is also hitting the east coast, including New York. Too warm to settle for long, though.

“A powerful late-season atmospheric river is headed for central California late this week, with the potential to bring near-record rains for April … Intense rain rates on Friday night will pose a flood risk in the Sierra Nevada, where the runoff will be bolstered by rain-induced snowmelt. By Saturday, high winds and heavy rains will rake parts of western Oregon and Washington … ‘This is really an historic event …’ said Cliff Mass (University of Washington)”.

“Torrential rain, strong winds, lightning strikes and flash floods hit parts of Indiana and Illinois” on 3 April, Indianapolis recording its wettest ever April day. Local forecasts for Phoenix Az. are predicting the return of 100F, 39C temperatures next week – still early mid-April. Dangerous UV levels already being measured.

Canada: powerful winds knock down buildings in Ontario.

Meanwhile northern Europe and Russia have also seen extreme cold and heavy snow persisting well into spring. These huge pools of arctic air make the northern hemisphere look like Narnia, but elsewhere across Africa, the middle East, the SW US, Australia there are enough hotspots still to keep global temperatures marginally above the 1980-2011 average for March/April.

Bangladesh, Nepal: 7 killed in severe storms, massive hail smashes houses down.

Brazil: STILL raining intensively in many areas, flash floods, cities underwater in Goias province and elsewhere. In Mexico, an intense hailstorm reduces streets in Tlalpan to rivers of ice.

Argentina: “Over 50 people were evacuated and dozens of streets closed after flooding in Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz province. Local media reported that the city received 3 times the amount of rain it would normally see for the whole of April.”

Fiji: “At least 4 people (now 6) were killed and another was missing after Cyclone Josie caused severe flooding in the South Pacific island nation. Josie moved past the island of Vitu Levu from 31 March as a category 1 storm, bringing with it heavy rain and wind gusts up to 100 km/h.”

Vanuatu: flash floods destroy homes.

Indonesia: Devastating floods in Sumatra and Java.

Greece: “Several rivers in the Balkans have broken their banks over the last few days, causing flooding in parts of northern Greece, southeastern Bulgaria and northwestern Turkey.” Police are searching for a party of “about 15” migrants thought to be missing after trying to cross a swollen river.

UK: “Snow and heavy downpours closed roads and caused travel disruption throughout the holiday weekend of 31 March to 02 April … Emergency services were called to rescue at least 8 people trapped in flood waters. Up to 10cm (4ins) of snow blanketed areas of north England, north Wales and Scotland. At one point on 02 April there were 271 flood alerts in place…” Interestingly, GW noticed absolutely none of these events taking place locally from her eyrie in Wales. Sorry.

World: “Storms, floods and other extreme weather events are hitting cities much harder than scientists have predicted, said the head of a global network of cities tackling climate change.” According to Mark Watts, executive director of the C40 climate change alliance: “Almost every (C40 member) city is reporting extreme weather events that are off all the scale of previous experience, and ahead of all the modeling of climate change.”

Edited from reports: Boglington Post/ Floodlist/ Wunderground/ MrMBB333 website/ CEWN #107, #108/ Reuter

 

Passing through the Cloud of Improbability, and other tales of the unexpected

 “When I go into the Map Room of Palmerston I cannot help remembering that this country over the last two centuries has directed the invasion or conquest of 178 countries.” – Boris Johnson describing his new offices (The Guardian, 11 October)

I react to this statement with the same frisson of horror at the depths to which self-aggrandising, sexually incontinent Alpha madmen like Johnson and Donald Trump can sink when they disengage from their essential humanity as anyone might to the allegations against Trump.

Actually, that’s almost all I can think to say about it. This is our new Foreign Secretary, the face of Britain abroad, who has been charged with the task of cementing new trading relations with other countries around the world, to replace the pointless void that is about to be created by the graceless abrogation of our treaty commitments to our 500 million neighbours in the European Union, gloating over Britain’s long-lost military ‘greatness’.

Just as well to remind Johnny Foreigner in advance, who’s the boss.

 

The young today, I don’t know

Dreadful dirge though our British national anthem may be, after the Rio Olympics you would imagine most people in the world are now pretty sick of hearing it.

I was astounded then when, on being asked to sing only the first two lines for dramatic purposes, not one member of a chorus of seven young people at my drama group, six of them in their early 20s, one perhaps excusably still a minor, had any idea either of the words or the tune.

‘God save our gracious Queen, long live our noble Queen, God save the Queen.’

The tune, if you can call it that, is lost in the mists of time. The dismal words hail from a 1745 ‘catch’ song by one Thomas Arne, the ensemble becoming the national anthem only 150 years later. They go on to ask God’s help in confounding the knavish tricks of our enemies, which Johnson would approve of; but wind up in verse 5 piously hoping for universal peace and brotherhood – a verse politicians no longer sing.

Of course, in 1745 we had a German king on the throne, George 11; also, a Scottish Jacobite Catholic rebellion going on, to reinsert (with French help, that was not entirely forthcoming) Bonnie Prince Charlie into the line of the British monarchy, that had been diverted away from the Catholic succession with the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

(You will often hear blimpish British dimwits asseverating pompously that we have not been conquered since 1066. 1688 saw the deposition of James 11 in favour of a Dutch prince, William of Orange, who landed at Gravesend with 20,000 troops and was immediately elevated to the throne. His legacy sadly was the plantation of protestant Scottish farmers in Ulster that led inexorably to sectarian division and the Troubles.)

Charles Stuart was the presumed heir of James 11. His army came close to seizing London, but on receiving false information that a second English army was approaching, they stupidly retreated.

The King’s younger brother, the Duke of – later known as ‘Butcher’ – Cumberland, then massacred the Scots at Culloden; the defeat was absolute and led to the Highland clearances and fierce laws proscribing Catholicism in British institutions, including the monarchy.

Of the seven execrable dwarfs, two may be excused, possibly, although Wales is part of the United Kingdom, on the grounds that they are of slightly differing ethnic groups: one Welsh, the other Irish. Both claimed in their defence to know the words and tune of their respective local dirges; which, admittedly, I don’t, entirely.

Even so.

 

Passing through the Cloud of Improbability

We all hate computers, I know. Even writing those words causes my brain to turn to the stuff you find in the filter of your tumble dryer, without the 20p coin.

Yet I cannot help throwing out this plea for a lifeline, since my ‘teenager’ (okay, so he’s 23. I’m only 29, so it’s impossible) toodled off to do his MSc.

Y0u see, something beyond normal happened and I have to tell someone, even if it’s only you.

Yesterday I left my desktop PC running while I took Hunzi for his morning excursion around the exurban space that passes for our local park, and when we got back I found the computer had detached itself from the internet by the simple expedient of losing not only its connection (wired) with the router, but also the router itself, which was no longer to be found on the list of available hubs.*

The router itself was still showing the steady blue light that says it has a good connection with the broadband service. After ‘switching it off and on again’ several times, at both ends, and having checked all the connections, I tried the desperate alternative of hooking up this, muh li’l laptop thing, that I haven’t used for two months. And lo, it spaketh immediately to the internet even without benefit of the LAN cable, by dint of magical wirelessness; as does my new tabloid, to which I managed to download 1,300 transposable jazz chord charts in a matter of seconds.

So here I am, typing the usual weekly garbage into WordPress on my laptop once again; happily aware that the old version of WordPress is still running here, while on my PC it has become something unbearably stupid, just for the sake of the new (none of the actual annoying things users complain of has been fixed in the process).

But that’s not the end of it, oh no.  (My cursor just disappeared, by the way. It’s cursed.)

Probably the worst effect of the now notorious Microsoft birthday  ‘upgrade’ of Windows 10 was to render all the music files on my PC unopenable. It says it has encountered a ‘problem’, but won’t say what.  I tried three media players before concluding that I might not be able to play all muh jazz rec’ds on the computer ever again without benefit of a teenager.

Joy, the files having been transferred over in bulk from the laptop when we installed the PC, they were still held in the old disk memory of the laptop. Having not used it since before the devastating upgrade, I found all the old settings still intact and seemingly free from the dead hand of Gates’ beanbags.

So I opened up the Media Player and selected a fav’rit track.

Now… no sleight of hand, nothing up my sleeve, and please understand: the laptop is not by any means connected to the PC, which by now I have powered down in despair. (Drum roll)

As I played the music tracks stored on the laptop, one by one the tracks in the list that were not playing started to shut down, all by themselves. Little red flags were appearing next to the track listings in my libraries, four or five at a time, until the entire playlist became inaccessible; and so on to the next one, and the next, until there was not a single file left that would open.

Do you believe in the supernatural? Yes, that’s what I thought. But I don’t.

I just don’t understand what the fuck is happening? How can that happen all by itself to licensed files I have been playing for months and years, taken off paid-for CDs, on a machine that has no connection to the faulty one?

I am getting the notion that, as the sun orbits the galaxy, the Earth passes periodically through a region of space, a Cloud of Improbability, that turns natural order on its head. Absolutely nothing is making sense right now

*Yes, I know, I can try reconnecting the hub to the network, can’t I. That’s if I can get on the internet…. d’oh!

 

There’s no business like big-business

Why am I not surprised that Donald Trump can’t manage to present himself as anything other than a repulsive, bullying, self-absorbed narcissist, an overweight racist sex-pest with bad hair, a tasteless dumbfuck who pays no tax but makes free with his companies’ finances and boasts vaingloriously about his $billions, that others have made for him?

Principally because I spent fifteen years of my life working in or freelancing for advertising agencies.

During that time, I counted that I had worked on creative and strategic consultancy projects for some 200 different companies and NGOs.

As represented by the bulk of their management teams, in my experience that’s an awful lot of repulsive, bullying, swaggering, self-aggrandising sexists and racists with bad hair, bad breath and bad suits I’ve unfortunately met in my lifetime.

I’ve bogld before about M., the agency MD who diverted the entire staff bonus pool into buying himself a yacht? That was after we’d hit our revenue targets for the year twice-over by December. Our reward was a Christmas card and a £10 shopping voucher.

M. – forgive the stereotyping, but he was both Jewish and Welsh, resulting in a combination of personality traits unfortunate except in one so obsessed with value for money – used to invite selected staff up to his house to watch pornography via his massive satellite dish, that could get Danish programmes. He seemed unconcerned that his wife and 13-year-old daughter were both sleeping with the same employee, who rented a room above the offices.

And the purpose of the yacht was twofold: one, so that he could produce made-up invoices claiming he had chartered the boat to clients, thus reclaiming VAT on non-existent transactions; and two, so he could ship suitcases full of cash over to Jersey, where he had an offshore account. There was, it must be said, the occasional waterside champagne junket for staff during Cowes Week: he had to keep us quiet somehow.

Of course, allegedly.  None of it can be proved – it was over 30 years ago.

Then there was B. A psychopath with almost no education, the MD of a backwoods PR agency I worked for, B. was so dysfunctional that he employed several PAs to try to manage his diary. It was never enough, he was always double-booking his own appointments and instead of simply rescheduling, would manufacture operatic lies to get around the problem.

On one occasion, he told a client he could not make a meeting because his wife was gravely ill in hospital. The poor man, a devout Christian, spent many hours on his knees praying for her recovery. Turning up to the rearranged meeting two days later, he was somewhat startled when she walked into the room unannounced, miraculously saved by Jesus.

Driving with me to a large client many miles away, B. was in a state of panic as he realised he’d agreed to meet several separate divisional managers simultaneously. Would I take one of the meetings? Only, it was essential that I screwed a budget of £5k out of the marketing manager for a proposed video project. He went obsessively on and on about it for miles – it was no problem for me, I had a lot more experience than he did – until finally he promised me £200 as a bonus if I achieved the target.

Back in the car, he asked nervously how it had gone. Fine, I said, I got the £10k out of him…. B. travelled back in silence. Of course, I never saw the £200.

B. also had a nasty habit of delegating shit jobs to juniors, for instance ordering them to get on the phone and beat-down suppliers on their invoices after the work had been signed-off. He would stand behind them, screaming hysterically and quite audibly to the hapless victim on the other end: ‘Tell ‘im ‘e’s a fuckin’ cunt and I’ll destroy his fuckin’ business if he doesn’t do it!’

I have honestly never been happier to be called into an MD’s office to be fired – the reason being, he said, because he needed my salary to hire another PA. I’m hoping by now someone will have stuck a paperknife in his eye, because of all the  bog-stupid trash in business I’ve ever met, B. most deserved it.

I tried to avoid corporate nights out, but sometimes attendance was unavoidable. So I have my own private views about foul-mouthed racist and sexist comedians, minor ‘as-seens’ earning extortionate fees for being embarrassingly unfunny in a roomful of inebriated cheap suits, all boasting about their sexual fantasies and being experts on football.

The worst example of sexual harrassment I ever heard of – happily I wasn’t there, but my ex-wife was – occurred at one such event in 1986, a leaving do for a female marketing manager, I forget her name, let’s call her K.

K. was a rather plump, plain, ginger-haired Irish catholic girl, with bad skin and a somewhat frumpish personality to match; but reasonably good at her job. The marketing director, a noisy, balding oaf, got up onstage and, after a witty speech (some of which I wrote, in Shakespearian blank verse), presented her with her leaving gift: an inflatable male rubber sex doll with an erect penis. The room, almost entirely unmarriageable men with bad breath and dandruff, exploded in raucous laughter.

You may know the company, UniBond. They make overpriced, niche-marketed gloop for DIY enthusiasts. It’s a waste of money, don’t buy it.

D. was the ‘editor’ of an appalling weekly freesheet newspaper with a small circulation in a town near Oxford, on which out of desperation I’d obtained a day’s work a week as a freelance subeditor – a job for which I had no experience of actually making up newspaper pages, as I’d only worked on corporate magazines and in radio and TV newsrooms. It paid fairly well – £96 a day – but involved a 100-mile round trip from my home; and a bit of a learning curve.

Another psychopath, D. would sit for hours, brooding in his darkened glass fishtank, from where he could monitor all our input. From time to time he would erupt like a Disney octopus, oozing out into the filthy, disordered, rubbish-strewn newsroom with its burned-out monitor screens and demoralised journalists, to scream at the top of his voice, over some minute typographical error: ‘I pays you fuckin’ Fleet Street rates an’ I ‘as to do all the fuckin’ work meself!’

He fancied himself as a newspaperman, but I learned from one leaving employee – the staff turnover was rapid – that he had formerly been employed only as a typesetter in the printroom of, I think it was, The Sun.

One day, a fresh young journalist arrived to take up his first job in the murky business. He’d given notice at his flat 200 miles away in Yorkshire before travelling down, and taken a rented room in town. D. instructed him: ‘There was a fight in ‘x’ pub last night, I want you to take a photographer and go and interview the landlord and bring back twenty photo opps.’

We all looked at one another sidelong. Photograph what? There was no story! A drunk had been ejected after aiming a punch at the publican, nothing more.

An hour later, the young journalist returned with only five shots showing the exterior of the pub, and the landlord. ‘Right’, screamed D., ‘You’re fuckin’ useless. You’re fired!’

And he was, in tears.

At the end of my shift, I informed D. that I couldn’t afford the travelling and would not be coming in the following week. He looked at me, crestfallen. ‘Was it something I said?’ he asked, pathetically.

Business is overrun with these dismal, underqualified, insecure bullying cretins and madmen. They’re endemic to the culture. It may explain why our economy has been tanking at least since the Second World War. In my view, directors should be forced to take a business driving test showing their fitness to employ people, before being registered and allowed to practise.

Or see a good psychiatrist.

I suspect Trump might fail on either count.

 

The return of God

We all thought the old sod was dead, and good riddance, but seemingly not.

In the next episode of this, muh Bogl, our Nobel prizewinning  Science correspondent, Kirsty Quark (@infinityandbeyond) investigates the ‘Simulation Theory’ of Creation.

Is God alive and well and sitting on a beanbag in Silicon Valley?

You need to know….