The Pumpkin – Issue 54. Postscriptum: Donny and Kimmy go to Love island… An enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in 100-dollar bills… Long Essay: Farage, the smoking gun?… GW: venturing out nervously in gumboots and respirator.)

…in terms of the scale of its human rights violations, North Korea ‘does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.’

“In its report, the commission said it had found evidence of ‘extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.’”Washington Post, quoting UN Commission on Human Rights 2014 report.

“Really, he’s got a great personality,” Trump (said). “He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart, he’s a great negotiator.” Trump added in the interview that what was not surprising was that Kim: “loves his people.” Kim’s citizens show great “fervor” for their leader. His country does love him.

“You see the fervor” the North Koreans have for Kim, he said. – The Hill

 

“Piss in our time!”

Postscriptum: Donny and Kimmy go to Love island

The Pumpkin has not yet read the full text of the heads of agreement signed by the two dictators in Singapore, as Fox News hostess Abby Huntsman has apologized for accidentally calling them. He doesn’t read much and is waiting for the cartoon version to come out, with maps.

However he notes that no mention seems to have been made, either of human rights violations (in either country) or of South Korea, and any intention to convert the 65-years old armistice into an actual peace treaty, which would have been a relatively simple objective to announce.

This was the “Me too” summit, a Love Island photo op for the two biggest, most fragile egos and the most crooked salesmen on the planet, stitching together a deal to validate their own authoritarian regimes for the consumption of their cowed and worshipful dumbfucks at home.

To put it another way, had they moved too far in the direction of peace and liberality, even if that was the intention, and not just Trump sensing new marketing opportunities (no mention either of the Trump Pyongyang hotel, casino and golf resort? Ed.), although he has praised the beaches and their opportunity for hotel developments, neither dictator could entirely rely on their “nuke ’em now” hawks not to stab them in the front when they get home.

Just sayin’.

PPS it looks like Kimmy got everything he wanted out of their tryst, with Donny now offering to lift sanctions and stop those huge joint military exercises (“expensive”) with the South Koreans, and his power to summon even the American President being made evident to his worshipful people.

“That’s good, then.”

x“With great change comes great opposition.”

An enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in 100-dollar bills

The triumphal Singapore love-fest draws near and Childe Donald, sulking over the disrespect six of the country’s leading international trading partners and global security allies have been showing him in Montreal – a G7 minus-one summit to which the mafioso man-infant turned up insultingly late and left an entire day early, before issuing a tirade of abusive tweets – goes all out to woo the headline writers with almost anything other than news of his henchmen’s indictments at the hands of the remorseless Bob Mueller, whom he seems to be outplaying daily on the PR front.

It’s worth reminding ourselves then that, whatever concessions he wins from Kimmy, or claims to have won, and whether or not the sainted fools of Stockholm award him their joke Peace prize, he is still “Trump”, the compulsive, narcissistically disordered “made-for-TV” cartoon business thug, and not someone to be regarded as normally presidential or creditworthy in any way.

Further evidence of his deep disrespect for the rule of law emerged last week at a meeting of the cabinet in a bunker-like, windowless room in the White House, where he commanded his subordinates to join him in offering their unstinting praise and admiration for his profoundly corrupt EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt – the Butcher of Oklahoma.

Pruitt’s sins pile upon him like Peleon on Mount Ossa. No sooner had we finished reeling from the news that he had ordered an aide to set up a mysterious meeting with the CEO of a fast-food chain called Chick-fil-A, possibly the world’s crappiest ever brand concept, only for it to leak out that the purpose was to use the power of his office to persuade the poor man to give Mrs Pruitt a restaurant franchise because they love the food so much, than we learn that he got his security detail to drive him around the neighborhood drugstores to hunt down a bottle of his favorite body-lotion, as available in Ritz-Carlton hotels; and spent $1500 buying $100 pens for his desktop.

Mr Pruitt has denied what was patently the case, that he waved through tens of thousands of dollars in unearned pay raises to two staffers he brought with him from his previous job as Attorney-General of Oklahoma. He has apparently also spent $3.5 million on additional security personnel, several motorcades above and beyond what his position entitles him to. He has incurred other non-legitimate expenses, such as the $43 thousand he spent on having a bug-proof phone booth installed in his office; blown who-knows how much on private, military and first-class flights for himself and Mrs Pruitt, $40 thousand on a beano with seven of his pet staffers purely for the purpose of persuading the Moroccan government to import propane gas from a private monopoly firm part-owned by a then-Trump cabinet member, the grizzled billionaire Carl Icahn – who was himself obliged to resign over a $30 million ‘windfall’ profit he made selling a company ahead of the President’s announcement on steel tariffs.

The monopoly bottled gas provider, Cheniere Co. of Houston, Texas, also happened to be a client of lobbying firm Williams & Jensen, from whose senior partner’s wife Mr Pruitt was notoriously renting a trashy Washington apartment for the princely sum of fifty bucks a night. Another W&J client is the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge, to whom Pruitt granted a controversial development permit last year. The New York Times reported (2 April, 2018):

“The signoff by the E.P.A. came even though the agency, at the end of the Obama administration, had moved to fine Enbridge $61 million in connection with a 2010 pipeline episode that sent hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and other waterways. The fine was the second-largest in the history of the Clean Water Act.”

An act which Pruitt has been instrumental in abolishing, along with the Clean Air Act and other Obama-era abominations.

Not only is Pruitt existentially shameless and an abuser of his office: he is also showing signs of being barking mad. Another aide is reported to have been briefed by him to investigate the possibility of buying a used mattress from a Trump hotel. Its purpose is yet to be disclosed, but might, The Pumpkin suggests over skinny lattes, involve DNA evidence. He also engages in paranoid secrecy:

“Breaking with all of his predecessors at the E.P.A. for the last 25 years, as well as other members of President Trump’s cabinet, he does not release a list of public speaking events and he discloses most official trips only after they are over. Mr. Pruitt doesn’t hold news conferences, and in one episode, journalists who learned of an event were ejected from the premises after an E.P.A. official threatened to call the police.” (NYT)

Mr Trump has asserted on several occasions that Mr Pruitt is doing “a great job” at the EPA, which still has 700 posts waiting to be filled, where there have been a number of high-profile resignations over his singular management style, and whose scientific research policy is now firmly in the control of energy-sector lobbyists and industry executives. It is not certain therefore what “great job” Mr Pruitt is specifically believed by the President to be doing, other than helping him to dismantle any and all protections previously accorded to the environment, turning America into one vast polluted, overheating shithole. (See GW, below.)

FOI requests from environmental groups such as the Sierra Club are continuing to turn up thousands of official emails demonstrating Pruitt’s extreme avoidance of public scrutiny and his ongoing relationships with large energy-sector corporations.

Pruitt’s grandiloquent response to all this unfounded criticism?

“With great change comes great opposition.”

You bet, Swamp-man.

(Did he get that quote from the i-kerChing? lolz. ed.)

 

Hangin’ up now….

As a little extra fillip to the story, Mr Trump’s fine-dining companion, the equally demented Fox News conspiracy-monger and slum landlord, Sean Hannity went on the record last week publicly urging anyone connected with the Trump administration to smash their cellphones before Mueller can subpoena them.

He hasn’t been arrested for obstructing justice, yet. I’d guess that darned old First Amendment makes a bonfire of Fox’s martyrs unlikely.

Nothin’ to see, move on….

Oh, while I have you on the line, not a lot has been reported in our supine media about the pits-to-pipelines Koch Brothers’ low-key divorce.

Clever workaholic Charles has forced dimmer brother David to take early retirement at 78. The New Yorker magazine reports it should make no difference to their meddling in US politics, just like Russians; a project on which the aged neoCons have lavished billions funding climate-change deniers and buying politicians like Paris Hilton buys chihuahuas.

David, said Charles, 82, with regret, has been “nodding off” in meetings lately and it’s time he settled down for the good of his health. Forbes magazine estimates that each brother (there are more, less famous Koch brothers minding the stove at home) is worth approximately 60 billion dollars, making them only the joint 9th richest men in America.

Way to go.

x

Long Essay

“…that leaves the question: if the Mercers, Banks and other disruptors financed this attempt at a paradigm shift in Western democracy, where do the Russians fit in?”

Farage: the smoking gun?

Whether or not the dogged Guardian/Observer reporter, Carole Cadwalladr brokered the latest twist in the story that she has been pursuing for two years, of where the money to fund the Leave tendency in the European referendum came from, both our most respected Sunday papers have carried front-page news of having “seen evidence” that UKIP founder, Mr Arron Banks, had many meetings at the Russian embassy in London prior to the Brexit vote.*

Not only that, but he was introduced, it’s said, by the ambassador himself to a “Russian businessman” who, in a fairytale twist, offered Banks the opportunity to invest in a company owning six gold mines in Russia. An investment which, it is alleged, Banks was told would net him “billions”. And Mr Banks went on record soon afterwards to vaguely indicate that he had some potential new interest with gold mines, although he now denies having any business interests in Russia.

Now, where have we heard that before? So many elements of this story echo statements, denials and ultimate revelations in America.

What gives the story some credibility is that Mr Banks does in fact partly own gold mines in South Africa, although it is said they are not all that productive. These, and his primary businesses of insuring motorcyclists and other uninsurable vehicle owners, were said to have made his personal net worth a modest £22 million.

OpenDemocracy.org however (and others) has been pursuing the financing of the Brexit vote too, and writes that the authorities in Gibraltar have been somewhat lackadaisically investigating reports that Banks’ businesses – registered there for tax purposes –  were so hard up, they were lending each other money in advance of their audits, in a game of corporate pass-the-parcel.

Somehow, nevertheless, it’s reported that Mr Banks managed to invest £12 million – over half his “net worth” – in funding and loans setting up Leave.EU, an unofficial campaigning vehicle commanded by Nigel Farage, MEP, that has been subjected lately to inquiries concerning some of its untraceable finances, funneled via Northern Ireland’s militant Protestant party, the DUP, who seem immune from investigation as a result of their £1.5 billion deal with the May government to boost her tiny Commons majority. Money well spent, given Mrs May’s close-run thing resisting Brexit amendments proposed by the House of Lords.

What all this is leading to, is the conclusion that Russians made substantial contributions to derailing Britain’s relationship to the European Union.

It is not really a surprising conclusion, but as Mr Banks now appears to have lied to Parliament about his connections with the Russian government, and has an opportunity shortly to go back before the toothless culture committee to set the record straight, we may be starting to understand something of the giant conspiracy that resulted in Britain’s fumbling, ill-advised attempts in a fast-changing global environment to withdraw from a complex raft of mutually supportive and largely useful treaties negotiated over many years with our European neighbours.

As Mr Banks is at the second stage of denial – so important is he, in his view, that he may have had “drinks” with the Russian ambassador a couple of times and exchanged a bit of bantz around the samovar – it may take a while, we lack the American dynamism, but clearing away the acrid smoke pouring from the blog of  the juvenile director of the rival official Vote Leave campaign, Mr Dominic Cummings (who, like Mr Trump, is having difficulty getting over the fact that he won), we should eventually get to the truth of how the referendum was fixed.

That will, of course, depend also on whatever is ultimately discovered about the role of Cambridge Analytica, Aggregate IQ and others in using stolen data to micro-target wavering voters with personalized anti-EU messages. A difficult process, depending as it does on whistleblowers competing with corporate liars, and egregious breaches of the Data Protection Acts of many nations.

(One wonders, too, who exactly is behind enormous data breaches, like that revealed by Dixon’s Carphone Warehouse this morning, of five million customer records; data theft that never seems to result in actual criminal actions but which presumably provides someone with a mass of consumer information?)

Multi-billionaire US hedge-fund manager and computer whizz, Bob Mercer gives no interviews and seemingly does not regard himself as a member of the human race, as he never responds to questions, but is alleged to have said at one time that he and his Sarah Palin-lookalike daughter Bekah were attempting to build a “radical free-market, small-government, home-schooling, antiliberal, gold-standard, pro-death penalty, anti-Muslim, pro-Christian, monetarist, anti-civil-rights political movement in the United States.” (London Evening Standard, 23 March, 2018.)

It seems they were also hoping to build one here.

Because if there is a “smoking gun” in the FBI and Justice Department investigations of Russian collusion and US corporate interference in the 2016 elections, it is Nigel Farage himself, declared last year a “person of interest”.

Farage is the obvious link, the go-between for disruptors hoping to swing the Brexit vote and the highly dodgy crew of chancers working with the Trump campaign. Funded by Banks, with cash from who-knows what source, Farage was connected with Mercer, of whom he was frequently said to be an unlikely “friend”; with Bannon and the Breitbart crowd; with Trump personally, at whose rallies he made over-the-top ultraconservative speeches and with whom he was gleefully photographed in the Golden Elevator at Trump Tower; and with Assange, whose Wikileaks organization fenced the data stolen by the Russian GRU from emails in the private files of Clinton, Podesta, Weiner and the Democratic party.

This veritable Zelig has popped up at every stage of the conspiracy on both sides of the pond. Perhaps he needs to be looked at more closely by the security establishment: unfortunately, despite the belated creation of the National Crime Agency, we have far weaker investigative bodies in this country even than in the United States; preferring to rely on 1940s “Dixon of Dock Green” community policing and barely sentient Parliamentary committees to solve immensely complex and sophisticated international crimes.

The Mercers of course funded Breitbart News, several of whose contributors, including the atavistic Hungarian neo-Nazi party supporter, Gorka the Gormless, and Bannon himself were injected by Mercer into the early Trump administration. They funded Cambridge Analytica, whose bullshitting fantasist Old Etonian CEO Stephen Nix has given up denying the testimony of his former executives that they stole data from the accounts of 87 million Facebook users in the USA, with the help of an Anglo-Russian computer analyst.

They also funded the Trump campaign, to the tune of many millions of dollars; giving the lie to his oft-repeated claim that because he was so rich, he was financing his own campaign. Of course he wasn’t.

But now the Mercers have withdrawn from the whole thing in disappointment, disavowing Bannon and the creeps and charlatans who conned them into supporting the Brexit and Elect Trump! conspiracies. It seems they are deeply disappointed in how liberal and progressive Trump has turned out to be. I wonder where they will turn their attentions next?

But that leaves the question: if the Mercers, Banks and other disruptors (see previous Posts) financed this attempt at a paradigm shift in Western democracy, where do the Russians come in? Were they in league?

You know, at this point my shoulders slump and I think maybe it’s time to walk the dog.

Seventeen US intelligence agencies signed their anonymous names to a report stating unequivocally that “Russia” was involved in hacking emails and in testing the water when it came to exploiting data from the voter rolls (possibly to assist the Republicans to edit the voter rolls in marginal wards) and possibly fixing the US’s poorly designed computerized voting lobbies. The FBI has asserted that they now have proof of over 60 contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian diplomatic/intelligence agencies and individuals during 2015/16. Contacts that were extensively lied about, even by the President himself.

Numerous media investigations have shown, pretty much beyond doubt, that Trump had business connections and aspirations in Moscow, and longstanding relations with corrupt oligarchs and property investors suspected of involvement with organized crime in Russia. The Special Counsel, Bob Mueller has indicted 14 Russian individuals and three companies in relation to election tampering and money-laundering, in association with Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, a sometime consultant to the ousted Ukrainian kleptocrat Victor Yanukovitch, who faces charges of money-laundering, acting as an undeclared foreign agent, witness-tampering and fraud.

Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Gen. Mike Flynn, has already been indicted on charges of lying to the FBI and acting as an undeclared foreign agent for, among others, Russian business interests. A special team on the Trump campaign tasked with tracing Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails was set up in the wake of the 6 June, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Jr, Manafort, Jared Kushner and a team of Russian money-laundering specialists, GRU agents and the Kremlin lawyer, Veselnitskaya – who later attended Trump’s inauguration. That team of hackers, one of them Russian-speaking, reported directly to Flynn.

Then there was the Steele dossier, a 35-page compendium of current allegations by Russian officials and MI6 assets in Moscow concerning the President, mostly prior to his candidacy, commissioned originally by the Never Trump! wing of the Republican campaign and then passed on to the FBI and the Democrat election committee. Most of it has checked out to be true, and led to gleeful media speculation that Trump is profoundly compromised, either by a sexual scandal or his huge debts to banks ultimately controlled by Putin – possibly both.

It’s all looking pretty murky.

When the name George Papadopoulos emerged early on as that of someone on the Trump team who had made a bargain with the Devil, the Mueller investigation, to lighten the charge against him of lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts, the general reaction was “George who?”

Mr Trump also expressed total ignorance of Mr Papadopoulos’ existence, until video emerged of a committee meeting at which the guy was plainly seated just four places down the table from the Orange Emperor himself. Trump then changed his story, claiming Papadopoulos was only the office boy who fetched the coffee.

In fact, and can we call him “P.” from now on, my fingers hurt, George P. is of importance in two significant ways.

P. claims he was approached in London early in 2016 by a mysterious “Bulgarian professor”, in fact an FSB agent who told him that over 30 thousand of Hillary Clinton’s private and official State Department emails had been deleted from a private server, and the Russians had gained knowledge of their existence. Later, while mildly drunk in a bar, P. says he let the story slip to a junior attache from the Australian embassy, who had passed it on via his superiors to Australian intelligence, who in turn told the FBI, thus triggering the Feds’ interest in the Trump campaign team’s contacts with the Russians – or the “witch hunt”, as Trump insists on dismissing it at every opportunity.

Nothin’ to see, folks. North Korea? Sure, why not?

Despite Trump’s latest conspiracy theory he can’t let go, that an FBI “spy” was in his camp during the summer of 2016, it seems loose-lipped, mildly drunken George P. was the man responsible for the whole can of worms, the “Russia thing” opening up. Perhaps.

Except that Dutch intelligence, I believe, and subsequently the Czechs, the French, the Germans, the Spanish and Britain’s GCHQ listening post had all intercepted and been monitoring calls between Trump associates Roger Stone, Carter Page, maybe also Michael Cohen, Flynn, Manafort and others, and Russian intelligence agents since the summer of 2015, and had told the FBI long before George P.’s leak, only for President Obama to tell them to sit on the story so as not to be seen to be interfering in the upcoming presidential election; thus giving Trump the plausible assertion that it was all a plot against him, cooked up by the criminal Clinton campaign.

Make of that what you will, it’s where the Pumpkin and I run into soft sand and head off for a cold beer.

The second area of interest in the boy, George may be that, far from being the office gopher, people have already forgotten in the never-ending melee of Trump-related bullcrap that P. was on the team originally as an environmental advisor. An alumnus of the powerful Hudson Institute, a notorious energy-industry-funded think-tank dedicated to burying climate-change science, George P. was working as a lobbyist for a Texas-based company, Noble Energy, in which Trump was reportedly a minor shareholder.

Now, Noble in turn was lobbying the Israeli government over a franchise to exploit natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of Israel – but more importantly, the coast of the Gaza strip, making the project a political and legal nightmare. The case was dragging slowly through the Israeli courts, and P.’s presence in the Trump/Kushner camp was clearly designed to use their personal connections with Netanyahu to speed things up; while Noble were also hoping to construct an undersea pipeline to Europe, via the Turkish end of Cyprus, bypassing Russian and Iranian-controlled Syria. Was that what Gen. Flynn’s PR company was being paid by a Dutch businessman with energy industry connections to lobby for with the Erdogan regime in Turkey?

As it turned out, the whole deal collapsed when Israel decided to sell its gas to Egypt instead.

The words Russia and Iran are, of course, synonymous with enormous gas reserves, Russia being the largest supplier of natural gas to Germany and western Europe. In addition to the strategic implications, both nations would, one imagines, be keen to stymie competition from Israeli and American interests in the region; while American and Israeli animus towards Russia’s ally, Iran, can be framed in terms of competition for global markets for their vital energy resource.

Neither your Uncle B. nor The Pumpkin has the brains to work out how all this fits together, so we’ve ordered another beer.

Back in London, languishing in the basement of the Ecuadorean embassy, a fugitive from an EU arrest warrant, which is probably why he was happy to work against them, is the Great White Worm, Assange – an arrogant, self-publicizing, self-pitying narcissist, another “friend” of Farage and fulcrum-point for all kinds of internet mischief.

His Wikileaks operation has, admittedly, broken some useful evidence (the Snowden files) of the other global conspiracy, that of the US “Deep State” and their intrusive surveillance operations, which we are slowly realizing are irreversibly intertwined with the commercial interests of the major internet service providers; hence, the theft of data from Facebook and its weaponization for political purposes.

Nevertheless it was Wikileaks that collaborated with the Russians and the Cambridge Analytica/Mercer nexus to undermine the Clinton presidential bid, with Farage – who “does not remember” the purpose of their meetings – acting as go-between for the Trump campaign and Assange.

And then to complete the Big Picture – more like an enormous, deflating barrage balloon – there are the activities of European alt-right, “white supremacist” Christian disruptors.

Some are plainly financed by Russian oligarchs allied both to the Kremlin and to the Orthodox Church; and from the money-laundering scams (mainly through overinflated property markets controlled by, among others, the Trump and Kushner families) of actors like Deutsche Bank, to whom Trump allegedly owes a third of a billion dollars; and Bank of Cyprus, formerly owned by ex-Deutsche Bank chairman Joseph Ackermann and – among other major investors, mostly Russian -Trump family ‘consiglieri’ and now US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross.

Another of BoC’s investors, Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, the “Fertilizer King”, was involved in a suspicious Florida property deal that netted Trump a clear $45 million, and seems to have attended at least one of Trump’s election rallies; the one at which he went off-script to announce that the USA would not, under his presidency, be arming the Ukraine government forces against the Russians. (He now says he feels sure he would only have to ask Vladimir privately to leave the Ukraine alone, and he would.)

And among these white European disruptors, as the BogPo has reported before, are several deeply conservative British “millionaire businessmen” like Banks, with anti-Islamic Russian and other East European connections – Banks’ wife is Russian – like Jim Dowson, and other wealthy, self-interested business tycoons and investment managers with declared hostility to the European Union, its supposedly repressive legislative, anti-business, pro-tax regime, its equality agenda promoting women and gays, and its willingness to tolerate a large Muslim presence in our midst.

It’s a vast and rambling conspiracy to defraud the voters of Britain, the USA and other countries where we have seen the fingerprints of Russian interference in democratic processes – with the proviso that Russia is not the only bad actor in this scene, there are these traitors in our midst, imagining that their duty is to cleanse the Augean stables: the obsession of authoritarian paranoiacs down the ages.

I doubt there is even a mastermind behind it: it’s rather a movement of the wealthy against the poor, the degenerates and the despised “ethnic minorities”, planning to leave themselves in command of a depleted but nonetheless still materially gratifying world redesigned for their kind: powerful, white and Christian.

And there bobbing about like a cork at the heart of it all is Farage, although he claims now to be hors de combat and is making self-pitying noises about being separated, broke and soon to be jobless. While the UK media puzzles over the emerging evidence of a Russian connection to Brexit, few people as yet seem to be joining the dots and realizing it is all connected; and that the real collusion with Russia has been that involving the billionaires who control our data.

If there is a smoking gun proving collusion between Trump and the Russians, it’s Farage, the man in the Golden Elevator.

Going down?

Now I think another beer is in order.

*According to Private Eye, sometime Sunday Times hackette, Isobel Oakeshott, author of the Brexit Bad Boys, a semi-biography of Banks, had been sitting on evidence of his visits to the Russian embassy for several months and was pissed off when Cadwalladr broke the story, so she gave the info to the ST as a spoiler.

Miaow.

Writing in the Guardian, Monday 11 June, Matthew D’Ancona says:

“We have known for two years that Arron Banks, the pro-Brexit tycoon, and his closest henchman, Andy Wigmore, visited the Russian embassy in November 2015, just as we have long been aware of the links between Leave.EU and the Trump campaign. What has now been revealed is the sheer scale of these contacts – including a lunch between Banks, Nigel Farage and Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador, just three days after the Leave.EU team had been granted an audience with president-elect Trump in November 2016.

“It appears that there were multiple meetings between Banks, Wigmore and senior Russian officials between 2015 and 2017. … This does not seem, in other words, to be routine schmoozing or glad-handing. It has the whiff of a nexus, suggesting a purpose, or multiple purposes.”

x

Wailing and gnashing

“Greetings from Amazon.co.uk.

“We are writing to confirm that we are processing your refund in the amount of £10.79 for your Order from Amazon US. This amount has been credited to your payment method and will appear when your bank has processed it. This refund is for the following item(s): (etc.)

“Reason for refund: Damaged during transit.”

But I have not asked for a refund! I have not yet received the Order! There must be some mistake! The Order (a rare Chet Baker album) was only dispatched last night for 20 June delivery! I have no idea whether the Order has been damaged in transit or not!

And Amazon offers you no way to contact them to ask what the fuck is going on, other than an infuriating “we put the words in your mouth” FAQ. (Was this helpful? No. Well, tough, thanks for the info, we will use jt to improve our services.” Cunts!

Jeff Fucking World’s Richest Man Baldy Bezos, are you there? Hello, anyone? Help!

x

GW: venturing out nervously in gumboots and respirator

Pacific: The Western Hemisphere’s first major event of 2018 is Hurricane Aletta. “Aletta put on a remarkable display of rapid intensification overnight Thursday (7 June), with the winds increasing by 70 mph in just 24 hours. Aletta was merely a tropical storm with 70 mph winds at 11 am EDT Thursday, but by Friday at 11 am, the hurricane had morphed into a fierce Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds.” Its forecast track is out into the colder waters of the Pacific with little chance of it making landfall anywhere; although an identical feature is forming just a few hundred miles behind. It’s the sixth earliest Cat 4/5 ever recorded in the Eastern Pacific basin, kicking off aways from the coast of Mexico. (The Weather Channel)

Gulf of Mexico: On the other side, a relatively low-key storm now blowing between the Yucatan peninsula and Cuba has a terrifying prognosis, a possible repeat of last year’s “super-soaker” Hurricane Harvey. Several NOAA hurricane center models show it picking up rotation in the Gulf, developing winds up to 120 mph with a huge precipitation potential, as a very slow moving Cat 3 or 4 hurricane stalling for possibly 24 hours over the Texas/Louisiana coastline at Beaumont by next Saturday pm, 16 June. (Satellite forecast as noticed by weather blogger, MrMBB333)

…. 11 June: “Mexico’s weather service warned yesterday of storms, heavy rain and strong winds … as Tropical Storm Bud intensified into a (115 mph) hurricane. Coastal areas were also warned of storm surge of up to 3 metres. Severe weather affected parts of Jalisco state in Mexico during the afternoon of 10 June. Areas around the city of Guadalajara were the worst affected. Around 65 mm of rain fell in just a few hours on Sunday afternoon. Elsewhere, heavy rain was recorded in the state of Guerrero, where 97 mm of rain fell in 24 hours.” (edited from Floodlist) (This is the system closely following Aletta, on Mexico’s east coast. Its forecast track takes it straight up the Baja peninsula towards California.)

Africa: The death toll from heavy rain and flooding across Kenya, where it has been raining since March, has risen to 186. An estimated 800,000 people have been affected by flooding. As many as 300,000 people have been displaced and nearly 100 injured, … heaviest rain recorded in 50 years. (edited from Floodlist)

China: Up to 250 mm rain from Typhoon Ewiniar in 24 hrs triggered landslides in the city of Yunfu, causing houses to collapse, killing 5 people. 1 person is still missing. 73 thousand people were evacuated ahead of the storm. Ewiniar made landfall in Hainan and Guangdong earlier in the week, bringing heavy rain and strong winds. It then moved back into the South China sea before making a third landfall, again in Guangdong, on 07 June. The storm had earlier caused heavy rain in parts of Vietnam, with landslides and flooding. (edited from Floodlist)

Europe: Severe weather, including heavy rain and flooding, has continued in France and at least 2 people are thought to have died in the last two days. After hitting northern areas, in particular Brittany and Normandy, earlier this week, flooding has now affected areas of southwestern France. Heavy rain from 05 to 06 June caused major flooding in parts of northeastern Spain. Emergency services in Catalonia received over 300 calls for assistance during 06 June. (edited from Floodlist)

Arctic: UK Business Insider reports (08 June):

“The Trump administration said on Thursday it would spend $4 million on construction projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in preparation for oil drilling in the nation’s biggest wildlife park.

“The tax-overhaul bill passed by the U.S. Congress last December includes a provision mandating two oil lease sales, each offering at least 400,000 acres (161,874.26 hectares), within seven years.

“The 19-million-acre (7.7 million-hectare) Arctic refuge, the largest in the U.S. national wildlife refuge system, contains some of the wildest territory in North America.”

Your Granny wonders idly, which of many scandals, tweets, Mueller indictments and presidential gaffes covered in the fake news media last Thursday enabled the EPA to bury that news?

Boglington-on-Sea: Guys, it’s been really hot here. Occasional light shower, but mostly sun the past six weeks. Not normal for Wales!

x

Terminal news

Hawaii: A USGS report on the Mount Kilauea eruption reveals that “6 to 9 million cubic meters of magma” is spewing DAILY from Fissure 8 alone, and the event could continue for years or decades, presumably rendering much of Big Island uninhabitable, while producing a new island off the coast. Many people evacuated over the past few weeks will never be able to go home.

The island’s second largest freshwater lake has been boiled dry by a lava flow. Acid rain is killing off swathes of forest and vegetation cover. The vast crater within the caldera of the main volcano is collapsing in on itself, with accompanying explosions. A new eruption on Thursday morning (7 June) accompanied by a M5.6 quake produced a 10 thousand feet-high ash cloud and filled the air with tiny particles of glass, triggering a warning to residents to get indoors. (Mary Greeley/ Dutchsinse/ News US/ USGS)

Southern Africa: 9 of the only 60 known oldest Baobab trees in the world have died, prompting speculation that the changing climate is making conditions too harsh for them. The iconic, oddly-shaped, flowering trees were between 1,500 and 2,500 years old and the largest reached 100 feet in height and 35 meters in girth. (Guardian, citing Nature Plants journal)

Nature Bats Last: in his latest podcast, the world’s most depressing – and terminally depressed – man, professor emeritus of natural resources and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona (suspended from teaching!), Dr Guy McPherson warns us that the coming financial crash – September is the favorite time for financial crashes – will so reduce global industrial activity that the protective blanket of smog around the earth will rapidly fade away, leaving us exposed to the full glare of the sun, as it did for three days when commercial aviation was suspended in the aftermath of 9/11. Runaway warming will ensue within days, he advises, wiping out all life on earth.

We have four months remaining of human history.

If you’re still not depressed, follow this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03kwgj0

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Saga saga continues… Whereverland… GW: staggering about with a large watering-can as the garden withers in the sunshine… Last Knockings… No Countryside for Young Men…

Welcome to my 700th post!

The editor coughs and then nervously speaks up, addressing his diehard fanbase:

“Lazies and gemmun, yesterday evening while composing a long email in reply to an old friend, just as I was signing it off, I seem to have accidentally stroked the keys to the secret combination of letters and commands upon which this, muh li’l HP laptop has yet again and probably for the last time mistaken my intentions and irreversibly dumped the entire text (bar five tantalizing letters of the first word).

In my mildly drunken frustration, as you do, I slammed down the lid and, with a bloodcurdling oath, solidly struck it a mortal blow with my clunking right fist.

It’s in a very delicate state today, half the time it addresses me in System 32 startup mode with wounded, gloomy messages telling me it doesn’t think I’ve got an operating system installed, or that the hard drive is missing and it can’t reboot. So I may need to acquire a new machine from PC World later… if no more Postings emerge for a while you’ll know why.”

-UB

“And this is where we throw our dissidents out…” Secretary Pompeo entertains a party of North Korean diplomats before introducing them to shopping.

The Saga saga continues

Fans of the definitive Scandi-noir drama The Bridge will have welcomed the start of a new series, although perhaps not its new Friday BBC 2 scheduling giving us only one episode a week instead of BBC 4’s Saturday night double helping, during which you could put your feet up and get properly mildly drunk without having to get up in the morning.

It was, excuse me for saying, an idiotic decision, probably born of desperation to harden-up the lacklustre Friday night schedules, but more likely to reduce the program’s ratings.

But there’s one thing that continues to puzzle your Uncle Bogler, and that’s the curious lyrics to the obligatory wailing castrato theme song with doom-laden cello accompaniment. As best I can transcribe them, they go:

Echo starters in crossing moon

Children noises that come too soon

Special Moomin that seem to hear

Decimating a mask of fear

Hollow talking in hollow girl

Voicing out from a mound of pain

Never said it was goo, never said it was smeary

Shadow rises and you are here

And everything… goes back to the beginning.

I’m hoping one or two of the near-record 41 Viewers who visited this, muh bogl, on Sunday, obviously having nothing better to watch on TV – or maybe one of my Followers, Stalkers, Spammers or Those Not Reading This Anymore – maybe my handler at GCHQ – will enlighten me as to what the hell it means, and why the Swedes, who all speak impeccable English, couldn’t find a less drug-addled lyricist? Were Benny and Bjorn out of the country?

I’m also curious to know how it is that there’s always a parking space right outside the Malmö cop shop’s front door whenever Saga screeches up in her battered old Porsche 911 ‘S’*, in that hideous shade of greeny-yellow? (52% of fans will now tweet that they identify as perceiving the color to be maroony-puce – don’t bother, I haven’t got a Twitter account.)

And why nobody, not even her mournful new boss, seems to intuit that she’s way, way up on the autism spectrum but just think she’s a bit, well, offputting. How insensitive do you have to be to get a job with the Swedish police?

One wonders, finally, if she ever gets those sweaty old leather pants dry-cleaned?

Mucky girl.

*After four series, the car at last got a mention last night from a random garage mechanic, so we have established a) that it is a 911 ‘S’, not just any old 911, and b) that Saga won it in a bet that she wouldn’t survive the police academy training course, from a superior who is now the Commissioner of Police. I suspect this was a somewhat heavy-handed joke at someone’s expense. The last thing we need in a tense crime drama shot entirely under lowering skies is political satire.

x

Journey to Whereverland

Speaking of sagas, Melania Trump has resurfaced after three weeks of speculation concerning her exact whereabouts following her minor kidney procedure, the odds-on favorite theory being that she had done a bunk to get out of the gropey clutches of the demented old Orange Husband while images of him grunting and sweating over Stormy Daniels’ recumbent corpse are still fresh..

“Melania Trump has tweeted to address speculation about her health, after not being seen in public for 20 days. “I’m here at the White House with my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!” the US first lady tweeted.” – Guardian report.

The Pumpkin remarks without conviction that he expects the hard work she is doing “on behalf of children” involves tracking down the more than 1,500 minors who are simply “missing” after being forcibly removed from their parents by her husband’s ICE gestapo at the US-Mexico border, where two US citizens were arrested last week for “speaking Spanish”. (Great Monty Python fans, the Americans.)

It seems the official childcare regime into which the diminutive liar, Attorney-General Sessions claims children as young as four have to be put as they are considered to be at risk from their parents (all border immigration is now illegal, so just by turning up asking for asylum a crime has been committed, therefore the children must be put in care for their own protection, runs the logic) doesn’t in fact exist. No-one seems to be in charge, no-one even knows where the children have been placed, or in whose tender care, and what happens to them next.

Or, as the devoutly Christian Vice-President Mike Pence calls the unknown realm of these forcible outplacements, “wherever”.

This Trump regime is so utterly banal, so useless, so vicious and vindictive, that it has to end peacefully, now or – as many commentators fear – it will end in bloodshed.

x

GW: staggering about with a large watering-can as her garden withers in the unaccustomed sunshine

USA: As “6 to 10 in.” of rain falls in two hours, Civil War-heritage Ellicott City in Maryland has suffered a “once-in-a-thousand-years”-size flood over the weekend.

For the second time since July 2016.

Once in a millennium: Ellicott City floods twice in 22 months. (Baltimore Sun/AP)

“Brown water rushed through Ellicott City’s historic Main Street, toppling buildings and upending cars, as the nearby Patapsco River swelled to a record-breaking level. In some areas, water levels reached above the first floor of buildings.” 30 people were rescued, a National Guardsman is missing. More rain is expected. – CNN

At time of writing, Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto is still out in the Gulf, contemplating an assault on Panama City, Fla. as a near-hurricane, just to the east of New Orleans. Forecasters suggest with 31 deg. C sea temperature off the coast, it’s holding maybe 10 in. to a foot of rain. Storm totals of 25” in Cuba are not out of the question.

2 journalists killed by a tree while covering the storm in N Carolina, where there are fears for the safety of the Lake Tahoma dam after a landslide. Central midwestern states posted record May highs over the weekend, up to 96F, 36C.

Puerto Rico: “The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM, open-access paper) reported that the death toll from Hurricane Maria was likely far greater than any estimates to date. The study’s initial estimate of the death toll through December 2017 was 4,645, but when adjusted for household-size factors (see below), the revised best estimate was 5,740, with a 95% confidence range that somewhere between 1,506 and 9,889 people died as a result of Maria in 2017. (Report: Wunderground, 29 May)”

Most of those deaths are post-hurricane “excess mortality”, attributed to the utterly inadequate response of US authorities, led by the self-congratulatory shitbrains, Donald Trump, to the destruction of the US island’s infrastructure.

Get rid of him.

Cuba: floods. 22 thousand evacuated ahead of SubTropical Storm Alberto now moving north-eastward, up Florida and over midwestern states, dumping a lot of rain.

Oman: Cyclone Mekunu… “High waves and torrential rain caused wide areas of flooding in Dhofar and Al Wusta governorates. Social media images showed torrents of flood water racing along the streets of Salalah (and an incredible cascade of water pouring off the mountain behind). By early 26 May, Salalah had recorded 278.2 mm of rain. … the city would normally see around 95 mm of rain in a whole year. …risk of flash flooding from further heavy rain through the weekend (26-28 May). High waves and storm surge continue to be a risk, with wave heights of 5 and 8 meters expected.” – edited from Floodlist quoting local authorities. Only 2 casualties were reported, 10 thousand people having been evacuated in advance of the unusual Cat 2 hurricane (now downgraded to TS).

Ethiopia: 16 die in flash flooding and landslides the afternoon of Wednesday 23 May. Houses, roads and vehicles are damaged.

India: 3 die in violent storm causing flooding. Local observers said that Panambur in Karnataka province recorded 334 mm of rain to early 30 May, 2018, breaking the previous high of 330.8 mm set in 1982. Roads around the city were inundated, bringing traffic to a standstill and damaging homes and businesses. Many people were left trapped in their homes or vehicles.

Mercury in Churu, Rajasthan hits 47.3C, 117.4F. Continuing 40C-plus heatwave in Pakistan tops out in Karachi at 48C, 118F.

China: Hong Kong heatwave continuing, 35C-plus (96F) in the city, and over 38C, 100F in places) – reservoirs drying up. 4 injured as ‘small’ tornado wreaks havoc in Jilin.

Malaysia: a man and his daughter are swept away in flash flood in Kulim.

Indonesia: Town of Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan underwater after heavy rain.

Europe: heatwave brings on powerful storms, flash flooding, big hail and much lightning… over 400 thousand bolts counted. France, Germany, Spain – massive hailstorms.

Turkey: city of Bursa underwater. Residents of Ankara clear up after 18 inches of hail buries streets in ice.

UK: 80-year old man dies after driving into floodwater in Walsall, north of Birmingham, Sunday 27 May. Up to a meter of flooding occurred locally in the West Midlands and across into Wales at the weekend after torrential rain. Over 150 thousand lightning bolts were counted in a 24-hr period as storms made their way northwards from France.

Tuesday 29th: “Thunderstorms and flash-flooding have brought parts of south-east England to a standstill as the region received a month’s worth of rain in a few hours.” – BBC News. 31 May, the forecast is for more, with amber warnings.

MrMBB333/ CNN/ BBC News/ Floodlist/ Wunderground/ CEWN #122, #123

 

Last Knockings

Yellowstone: We haven’t reported much lately from the Great Outdoors, but you should perhaps know that the Blessed Mary Greeley identifies a number of areas of continually rising ground, intruding magma and increasing surface temperatures; also continuing ‘drumbeats’ and harmonic tremors; together with new gaps in the information record – finagling of the seismometers and spectrograms – in the reports of the USGS and University of Utah monitoring services.

The largest geyser in the park, known as the Steamboat, normally erupts every 1 to 10 years. The last time it erupted three times in a year was in 2003. So far this year it’s blown off steam EIGHT times.

Some concern is being reported as the USGS has finally admitted to a potentially destabilizing “slow slip” of the 600 miles of faults between Vancouver island to the north, on the Cascadia fault, and southern California’s San Andreas, where there are continuing swarms of earthquakes and tremors, many associated with drilling and fracking operations.

Hawaii: the Mt Kilaueia/Pu’u O’o eruption is continuing apace. Signs of geological activity in the Mauna Loa volcano, largest on Big Island – largest active volcano, indeed, on earth – including a M3.2 earthquake, may be worrying for the scientists at the 9-thousand-feet-up observatory, from where global CO2 levels are officially measured. Some are fearing a catastrophic landslip of the SE corner of the island as the 23 vents that have opened up around Leilani Estates, spewing magma into people’s gardens and cutting off roads, join up. Geologists snort in derision.

The USGS has advised residents (in response to an actual query) that roasting marshmallows over volcanic lava is possibly not a good idea. Meanwhile a cloud of poisonous SO2 and other gases from Hawaii is being monitored over Guam, 4 thousand miles away, and health warnings issued.

Ebola: “An outbreak confirmed on 8 May had already claimed the lives of 12 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as of yesterday, with a total of 35 confirmed cases. A vaccination program aimed at health workers and friends and relatives of confirmed cases got underway today”, 30 May. – Express.

Nipah: “The Nipah virus was first reported in the northern district of Kozhikode, India on May 19 and has since spread to the neighbouring Malappuram district in Kerala. Officials have yet to confirm the origin of the outbreak, but it is spreading between humans. The first fatal cases were reported on Saturday from a family in Kozhikode, as two brothers in their late 20s and their 50-year-old aunt died from the virus.” A soldier who died may also have contracted the virus. – Express.

Tufts website reports: Spread by bats and transmissible between humans, “The virus causes severe brain swelling … and in some cases respiratory disease, and typically kills three-quarters of the people infected.” Although 100% mortality has been reported in some outbreaks. That makes it more deadly than Ebola, or the pneumonic plague in Madagascar this year. 16 cases have so far been confirmed in the current outbreak.

 

No Countryside for Young Men

Your Uncle Bogler has frequently alluded to the dramatic fall in numbers of flying insects – other than small clouds of gnats along the path on warm evenings – in the exurban river valley that passes for our local park, a multi-use greenspace offering a range of habitats between the town and the industrial estate.

Only last night, sitting up in bed drinking my warm milk (I’m quite elderly!), I wondered – exactly as Kevin Rushby, the author of a Guardian piece today has been wondering – where the usual annoying moth has disappeared to, that would normally be flapping inchoately around my bedside light, with the windows open on a 20-deg. C early summer night?

Of course, the fragile silvery clothes-moths are still there: whenever I open a packet of dog meal or cornflakes or something in a kitchen cupboard, usually one or two fall out and stagger around, having never learned to fly.

The buttercups are incredible this year.

A couple of days ago I saw one Small (or Large, hard to tell)-White butterfly emerge from a small patch of woodland I call the ‘tree museum’, on the edge of our local playing fields, and was mildly lifted when three more suddenly burst out from cover, dancing madly over the weed-strewn road verge. It’s a good year for dock, some are up to my waist. And the buttercups are incredible. But where are the insects? Rushby reports:

“Over a quarter of all British birds are under threat, eight species are almost extinct. Three-quarters of all flying insects have disappeared since 1945, including a staggering 60 different moths. Orchid ranges have shrunk by half; two species are gone. The State of Nature 2016 report described Britain as being ‘among the most nature-depleted countries in the world’.”

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/31/herbicides-insecticides-save-british-countryside-meaows (sic)

Rushby concludes, the agrichemical industry is to blame. I find this curious, as there is no arable farming within many miles of our valley on which pesticides and herbicides might be widely used; while the combination of ancestral and plantation woodland, heath and marsh, riverbank and meadowland – and, of course, upland grazing – ought to support a rich variety of wildlife.

Instead, I observe only diminishing numbers of squirrels, rabbits, pigeons, thrushes, blackbirds, magpies and jackdaws, sparrows – starlings and, in winter, a flock of about 50 plovers that descends on the cricket ground to peck at the leatherjackets there. And this year, so far, almost no flying insects; we’ve seen fewer than half a dozen bees all year, although the flowers they feed on were over a month behind, thanks to the late frosts.

But then I think of those intensively managed playing fields; the scorched verges of the paths, burned by liberal applications of Council glyphosate; the trim suburban gardens, kept neat by liberal applications of this or that, the sheds with their shelves of half-used tins, bottles and sprays. (I confess, even I have had to resort to surreptitious spraying over the fence of my late neighbour’s unkempt garden, that has been threatening to invade with perennial weeds and ivy.)

It seems clear that there is a feedback loop involved in the breeding cycles: declining numbers in intensively managed areas leading directly to declining numbers elsewhere. There are temporal disconnects too, as insects and plants that evolved over millions of years to emerge co-dependently together at certain times of the year are forced apart by the warming climate and the chaotic weather patterns it’s producing.

Then there is the never-ceasing roar of traffic from the main road nearby; and the probably confusing electromagnetic soup enveloping the mostly young women giving a running commentary on their frustrations to some unseen distant and long-suffering friend or family member as they wheel their prams along the cycle paths, where young lovers sit three feet apart, morosely texting their mates.

But all is not entirely lost: numbers can recover. Rushby gasps in amazement as he enters a part of Yorkshire where intensive conservation efforts have produced wildlife-rich woods and meadows much as they were in my youth, teeming with insects, birds and flowers; commenting that he now feels cheated by the apparent normality of the ‘green desert’ we have become used to referring to as ‘countryside’ everywhere else.

Hopes are now pinned on the remarkable conversion of one politician: Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, our new and unexpected champion of diversity and moderation in the use of chemical suppressants and promoters.

We’ll see.

 

Does anybody tell the truth about anything anymore?… The NHS: a post code lottery?… Yes, Icahn… GW: Anyone for 10°-ish?… Early to bed…

We have Lego, we can rebuild… Surgical strikes take out Syrian school laboratories (BBC).

Slime is the new Truth.

Does anybody tell the truth about anything anymore?

Truth is supposed to be an objective ideal, probably in the view of some old Greek philosopher like Pluto, whatever. Nowadays it’s become a lot more fluid, just as the fashion for making ‘slime’ in your kitchen (ostensibly for the purpose of washing your hair with it, apparently) is overtaking the Lifestyle sections of the popular blatts, courtesy of YouTube.

Slime is the new Truth.

For instance, I’ve been gazing perplexedly this morning at a report on The Guardian website that advises me that house prices in Britain are rising, falling and “flat”-lining, all at the same time. Which is true, A, B or C?

A “House prices in London are falling at the fastest rate in nine years, according to Halifax, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender. Prices in the capital were down 3.2% between January and March. Prices grew strongly elsewhere in the country.”

B “Across the UK, house prices stalled in the first quarter. Paul Smith, IHS Markit’s economics director, said: “The subdued performance of the UK housing market, especially in the south of England, seems to reflect a general lack of appetite…”

C “The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said that demand from buyers fell for the 12th month in a row in March, new instructions from sellers declined for the seventh consecutive month and prices were flat nationally.”

The new Truth? (Image: planetphotoshop.com)

What’s most worrying is that neither the author of the article, one Julia Kollewe, nor the subeditor appears to have noticed that all three of these supposed expert bodies, heaps, you will be unsurprised to hear, in the view of your Uncle Bogler, of groaning baboons who have been at the fermented fruit again, are contradicting one another; almost certainly in support of their own commercial objectives.

Either the people at The Guardian have not noticed, or they cannot be bothered to find out the truth of the story, considering perhaps that it no longer matters, it’s all slime.

Anyone wishing to act on the information needs to be aware that truth in the property market is a relative concept. My daughter, for instance, might be concerned to read that prices in her part of the country have increased by 7.2 per cent in the past year, as she and her fiance have been saving to buy a house and thought they were almost there. Although she will be relieved to hear also that prices probably haven’t increased at all, being flat and, indeed, subdued.

For myself, I was delighted to read that prices are increasing everywhere, as I have been hoping to sell up and get the hell out of this fucking awful country before civil war and worse overtakes us. Except that, now I read that prices are also falling, I’m subdued again. A Janus, both happy and sad at the same time. And stuck here either way.

I popped into an estate agent last week, one of the few in town I thought I hadn’t used before. As I began to outline my plans, he soon corrected me on that, as it turns out I had employed him for six months in 2015 with no success whatever. Rather sourly, he informed me that, in his view – I might get a more favorable opinion from the agent across the road – I would be lucky to get an offer of £30 thousand less than I paid for the house seven years ago.

Anyway, there is us, The Best, and there is Russia, The Beast, and we both have diametrically opposed but always fluid versions of reality. They hotly deny doing beastly things to us, and we accuse them of not telling the truth, which in view of the theatrical absurdity of their childlike protestations – said to be the Russian humor – they  must not be.

They accuse us in turn of doing beastly things to them, forcing their neighbours to join the EU, kidnapping their exiles, gassing our own children, and we protest loudly that they are lying because any fule kno, we are nothing if not The Best; and besides, nobody here speaks Russian.

Oh, but why does nobody believe us when we insist the world is flat, even though the moon is a sphere made from Edam?

That’s how the game proceeds to the brink of a globally conclusive nuclear exchange. And what will be left of life?

Only slime.

x

The NHS: a post code lottery?

Spokespeople are good at slime, aren’t they?

Explaining why its hospital has mothballed 270 beds for the last four years for lack of money to buy more nursing staff, while allowing 92 per cent occupancy of its remaining beds – a dangerous situation, according to clinical experts – a spoke for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS foundation trust slimed:

“In 2013, the trust implemented its transformational plan which involved optimising the use of space in our hospitals to improve patient pathways…”

Yes, removing beds from the corridors means you can get to the wards more easily…

It reminds me of an earlier Post in which I quoted a similarly optimistic assertion by someone from the B&Q group of DIY stores that they were closing 60 branches to increase consumer choice and convenience. This predated by some years Trump spokesmouth Sean Spicer’s “alternative truth” assertion that the President’s disappointingly small inaugural crowd had been the largest for any President, ever, a “fact” that was not to be denied by the common press.

Recently I found myself in hospital for a night, for the first time since I was born 68 years ago. But I was not ill, or seriously injured! Because my eye surgery didn’t finish until gone 10, the hospital decided against sending me home, a journey of two hours and a 20-minute walk the other end – but instead kindly gave me a bed for the night.

Not wishing to inconvenience them further, I climbed onto a handy gurney in the otherwise empty side ward, insisting that I would be perfectly comfortable. Five minutes later an orderly turned up with a proper hospital bed, which I declined to use on the grounds that they might need it for a real casualty. I remained the only occupant of the ward all night. After waking me up at 3 a.m. to test my blood pressure, the next day they would not let me go until I had seen a specialist dragged in on his Saturday off, and had partaken of a not-too-bad hospital lunch; following which, I was put into a taxi and driven home in comfort; all at no cost to myself.

The devolved NHS is clearly a post code lottery: happily, I don’t have a North Tees and Hartlepool post code.

 

Yes, Icahn

Speaking of slime, is there any need to elaborate on the case of Mr Scott Pruitt, the former Attorney-General and Butcher of Oklahoma* (I fear I may previously have written Arkansas, it’s pretty much the same thing, all earthquakes and fracking)?

In case you really haven’t been paying attention, this impertinent fellow Pruitt was appointed a year ago by the grotesque and incompetent President Trump as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

A bizarre decision, as Pruitt had previously sworn to destroy the agency, having sued it no fewer than fourteen times on behalf of energy corporations annoyed that environmental protections were cramping their style. But, perhaps not so bizarre, given Trump’s determination to pull America out of the Paris climate accord, claiming – entirely meretriciously – that staying in would cost trillions of dollars and lead to huge job losses.

Three days after the Senate approved his appointment to a job for which he had no qualifications whatsoever, Pruitt’s deathlike grip on a tranche of nine thousand emails exchanged while he was in public office finally relaxed, and environmental campaigners who had been pursuing Freedom of Information requests for years were able to confirm their suspicions that he had numerous connections and financial relationships with the energy corporations on whose behalf he had been acting. This knowledge might very well have prevented his appointment, had it come out earlier.

But which? (Apart from the Kochs’, obviously. You probably won’t have heard of Harold Hamm, the “fracking king” who owns the climate-change-denying University of Oklahoma.)

Things progressed about as well as could be expected. Pruitt (who accepts there may be climate change but denies that CO2 is a greenhouse gas) hollowed-out his department, failing to fill 700 appointments; imposed gags on publishing research, approved controversial pipeline projects, set about repealing climate controls such as the Clean Power Act and vehicle emissions limits, and removed all the scientists from his own Science Advisory Panel, replacing them with energy company executives and lobbyists, some of whom he sent to the Bonn climate conference to give a well-received presentation on the merits of burning coal.

And then a couple of weeks ago, amid all the presidential shenanigans, the dam quietly broke. Pruitt was accused of being about the most corrupt administrator in US government history, probably ever.

The New York Times reported, his accommodation while in Washington was being provided largely at the expense of veteran energy lobbyist and former Reagan administration legal advisor, Stephen Hart. The deal was that Pruitt would pay only 50 dollars a night to rent a luxury apartment in a building part-owned by Hart and his healthcare lobbyist wife, in one of the trashier parts of the city. And, of course, nothing at all for nights when he was not in residence. His daughter, too, benefited from a similar arrangement, which Pruitt described as “more or less an Airbnb”….

A maximum rental of 1,500 dollars a month. Quizzed on TV, Pruitt argued that it was “about market rate”, and, with a straight face, absolutely denied that any of Hart’s clients at Williams & Jensen had any relationship with the EPA. Both were out-and-out lies. “Market rate” for an apartment in the building was soon established by investigators to be “about” 4,750 dollars a month, while it was virtually impossible to get a room anywhere in Washington for fifty bucks a night, without tipping the bedbugs for service.

Williams & Jensen were heavily involved in lobbying to replace President Obama’s Clean Power Act with one that looked less like targeting the fossil-fuel end of the energy bidness. And another of Hart’s clients among many having dealings with the EPA is a Canadian energy company, Enbridge, involved in a pipeline project Pruitt had signed-off.

At that point, the EPA’s ethics watchdog came out and “clarified” his earlier benign analysis of whether the rental arrangement broke the federal gift rule, saying he “didn’t have all the facts” when evaluating the lease; and Pruitt hastily moved out.

Another of Trump’s stranger appointments, the grizzled multi-billionaire Carl Icahn, a Master of the Universe whom some believe to have been the model for the heartless asset-stripping Gordon Gecko in the film Wall Street (“Greed is good”), had been made responsible for “Regulatory reform”, and immediately gone about reforming the regulations in his own financial interest.

As Rachel Maddow of MSNBC reported the other day, it appears that Icahn, who departed the White House after making 31 million dollars from what looked suspiciously like an insider-trading deal – he sold shares in a steel-importing company just days before Trump announced a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports, that has yet to be imposed – was the money behind Pruitt.

After spending $tens of thousands on such vital arrangements as a Faraday cage in his office, to prevent electronic eavesdropping, in December 2017, Pruitt flew at public expense ($40 thousand) to Rabat with an entourage of seven of his own staffers, in themselves controversial appointments – one was found to have failed to turn up for work for three months, while others received enormous pay hikes for no obvious reason. There, he spent several days trying to persuade the Moroccan government to buy Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Americans call it Liquid Natural Gas, it sounds more natural… we know it as propane) from the US.

Now, it was not in Pruitt’s job description to act as a traveling salesman for LNG exports. More interestingly, according to Maddow there is only one company in the US that exports LNG, and that’s a company whose principal shareholder is one Carl Icahn. Not only that, Cheniere Energy Inc. of Houston, Tx. is also listed as a client of… Williams & Jensen, Stephen Hart’s lobbying firm.

While it is said that even Mr Trump, who seems to have attempted at every turn to profit from the Presidency, is unhappy with Pruitt’s astounding corruption in office (and there’s plenty more where that came from, demanding a personal motorcade with sirens and an armed escort just to get to his favorite restaurant every evening, for instance), nevertheless there is no sign as yet that he is being fired.

Or, as would seem more appropriate, if the facts are true, arrested, charged and gaoled.

It seems odd, when you consider that Health Secretary, Tom Price was fired merely for going on a shopping trip to Yerp with his wife, flying first-class at public expense.

The Butcher is obviously a man after the President’s own… er, Hart.

*He earned the sobriquet when the Oklahoma federal penitentiary ran out of lethal injection stuff while trying to execute a black man, Clayton Lockett. According to reports, Pruitt ordered staff to find anything on the Internet that might do the job, demanding: “Just get it done”. Lockett died in agony, pleading for them to shoot him after 45 minutes of increasingly frenetic attempts to kill him with a non-lethal substance, during which his veins collapsed, from a stress-induced heart attack.

 

GW: Anyone for 10°-ish?

“On March 18, 2018, the sea surface temperature near Svalbard was 16.7°C or 62.1°F, i.e. 14.7°C or 26.4°F warmer than the daily average during the years 1981-2011.”

While the latest (leaked) report of the International Panel on Climate Change is claiming a mean global temperature increase of just 1°C 0ver pre-industrial levels, seemingly in a bid to validate the 1.5 degree target of the Paris accord, the 2 April Arctic News blog edited by a team of climate scientists going under the collective pseudonym of Sam Carana pours scorn on the finding.

Carana’s calculations take into account a number of different factors to produce a current figure of over 1.7°C: for instance, the obvious stupidity of basing global average temperature on figures derived only from the surface temperature of the sea. Indeed, if you take the highest monthly average figures rather than the lowest, use the 2 metres above sea-level readings and start the clock in 1750 rather than 1900, says Carana, we’re already at 2.3°C above pre-industrial.

With CO2 continuing to rise (note: CO2 level does not include other greenhouse gases having a forcing effect on the climate and so is only a partial indicator of the rate of warming) past the 410 ppm mark (11 March level), warns Carana, the prospect of an 8°C rise by 2026 and 10°C by 2031 becomes frighteningly real.

In other news:

USA: as far as the eastern US is concerned, March seems to be becoming the new February, with many areas again reporting colder, wetter/snowier conditions in the later month. Wunderground coins the hideous neologism “Marchuary”. March’s warmest day/night records across the whole of the USA marginally outran the coldest records last month thanks to record highs in the SW and record lows in the east. Winter Storm Xanto hit the midwest wth blizzards, 10 April it was snowing again in Chicago, while parts of Florida were battered by storms, with big hail and tornadoes, including a monster over Fort Lauderdale.

California experienced an unusual weather anomaly, the ‘Pineapple Express’. Aided by a 1°C rise in sea-surface temperature, the atmospheric river that arrived from Hawaii had swept up the remnants of 150mph supertyphoon Jelawat on its track across the Pacific and carried a record amount of water over the Sierra Nevada, some parts receiving over 4 inches of rain overnight. In “San Francisco, the two-day rain total (Fri.-Sat.) of 3.29” was its wettest for any April since before the Civil War”, but the rain mostly missed Los Angeles, which has had a record dry spell since October.

Southern California at the same time enjoyed a 90F-plus (32C) heatwave, setting records since 1890 for April. On 10 April the mercury topped 100F (38C) in the San Pasqual valley.

Brazil: believe it or not, it’s STILL raining. Widespread floods affecting central and NE regions (Recife underwater).

Colombia: floods.

Argentina: “severe flooding … “paralysed the city of Río Gallegos.””)

Dominican Republic: floods. (“Over 99 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in Jarabacoa, La Vega Province between 05 and 06 April.”)

Fiji: in the path of intensifying 150 Kph sustained Cat 2 Tropical Cyclone Keni, many evac. warnings issued. “After the low pressure system that had been raining on Vanuatu moved away from the island nation, it intensified, organized and developed into a tropical cyclone.” It’s the second major typhoon to hit Fiji this month.

Indonesia: “At least” 1 dead in floods and landslides in West Java province on 7 April.

New Zealand: late Autumn cold spell. “Christchurch saw highs of 27C give way to highs of just 8C over just a few days, compared to the 17C that is the average high temperature for this time of year. In addition, up to 50cm of rain fell over the mountain passes of the South Island.” A powerful thunderstorm including hail, rain, snow, tornadoes, cyclone-force wind pounds Taranaki, North Island.

Saudi Arabia: Intense rainstorms cause flash-floods, including in Mecca. Yet again, huge hailstones smash car windscreens.

India: 12 people killed in powerful storms affecting the northwest, huge hail.

Spain: widespread flooding in Navarre – city of Pamplona underwater. Spain and Portugal still experiencing heavy snowfalls.

World: Scientists report, the Gulf Stream (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation – AMOC) is now 15 per cent weaker than it’s been for the last 1,600 years, threatening much colder, wetter conditions for western Europe, more heatwaves in central Europe and rapid sea-level rise for the eastern seaboard of the USA. 2018 is already looking like a colder outlier on the graph. Globally, March 2018 was the 3rd warmest on record, 0.4°C above the 1981-2010 average and 0.3°C cooler than March 2016, our most recent “hottest” year. But it’s still only April….

Edited excerpts and bits pirated from: arctic-news.blogspot.co.uk/ Wunderground citing Bob Henson / CEWN #108 citing EU Copernicus (C3S), #109/ Floodlist/ Guardian Weatherwatch.

 

Early to bed…

Why is nobody mentioning what seems obvious and concerning only to me?

How strangely late Spring is arriving in Britain this year, after many years of “scientists” commenting on how it seems to be arriving weeks early.

On our walk this morning, 12 April. (The green trees behind are in fact brown, just covered in ivy.)

I bogld about this last week. I tell people, look, those trees still have no leaves and it’s almost the middle of April. They look surprised and say, it’s probably the cold weather, the ‘Beast from the East’ (that was five weeks ago and we didn’t have much of it over here) when I secretly know, because I know these things but dare not say them aloud where I live, that budburst is mainly dictated by hormones produced by the changing day length and has almost nothing to do with the weather.

Many are, it’s true, bearing closed buds and a sparse covering of blossoms and catkins, but fewer than 5 per cent of the trees are showing any signs of coming into leaf. Quite a few appear to be dead, you can snap off smaller branches and find no sap, only a brown core suggestive of disease – which seems endemic to particular species here.

And it’s the same for the hawthorn and beech hedgerows (nothing will stop privet or holly growing…), the great clumps of briars and wild gorse: a few stems are greening up here and there, some clearly tried earlier in the year and the buds got frosted – but the bulk of it remains brown and dead; perfect fuel for a summer of wildfires.

On a bus journey yesterday, 50 miles down the coast and a few more inland, uphill and down-dale, the story was the same. It still looks everywhere like the middle of winter. People are going about their business unconcerned that, well before this time last year, life was bursting out across the hills and down in the valleys in a seemingly unstoppable riot of greenery, normally June-flowering wildflowers hurling themselves out of the ground; but today it’s all brown and bare.

And now there’s evidence that late rising is bad for humans too.

“Scientists” have discovered that “evening people” who sleep-in are more prone to mental and physical ill-health than people who rise with the lark.

People who go to bed late and struggle to wake in the morning are (10 per cent) more likely to die prematurely than early risers, according to new research. Comparing the definite evening types with definite morning types, night owls were also 90% more likely to have psychological disorders and 30% more likely to have diabetes, as well as being more prone to gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. – BBC

This too is worrying. I didn’t get up until gone ten this morning, it’s become a habit. I’ll generally sit here until midnight, a’boglin and a’togglin between news channels, dropping terse Comments, trolling trolls, waiting for war to break out, despairing at the crappy fare on the BBC iPlayer service, looking for anything to distract me for a few more hours of life, when clearly I could be extending that life just by going to bed earlier and getting up at eight.

I doubt I would be missing anything, in fact I quite enjoy being asleep.

But I suppose it might be better to be ‘healthy, wealthy and wise’ than riddled with cold, broke and befuddled. My incipient Type 2 Diab., as flagged by the nice German lady doctor (I imagine we’ll have thrown her out by now), the griping pains I get in my stomach like rats trying to gnaw their way out – the extreme anxiety and loss of an entire lexicon of words, places, names and dates – are all now neatly explained.

Incidentally, the eye specialist at the end of my bus journey was not particularly hopeful either, following my retinal reattachment. It seems I’ll only ever be able to see the world again with my right eye as through the bottom of a glass.

Which is how it tends to look, at midnight.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43711631

(And this morning I wake to the news that drinking wine every day is knocking another 4-5 years off my life expectancy.

Indeed, I’m amazed I wake up at all.)

The Pumpkin – Issue 49: Bolt-on accessory… GW: Not Singin’ in the Rain… Long Essay: Labour, a sorry State of affairs.

“…it’s hard to see why Trump didn’t just give the job to Alex Jones.”

(Apologies for delay in completing, further health issues.)

Bolt-on accessory

“State Department intelligence analyst Christian Westermann told committee staffers Bolton “got red in the face … shaking his finger at me” in a dispute over language Bolton planned to use in a speech that discussed Cuba’s biological weapons capability. Westermann said he felt Bolton wanted him fired over the matter. Bolton said he had “lost confidence” in Westermann for recommending changes to the speech without consulting him first.” (USA Today)

Yale law graduate, virulent Islamophobe and all-round TV savage, the Mark Twain-mustachio’d Irishman John Bolton allegedly has a filthy temper and a propensity to lash out at colleagues who don’t see things his way. In this particular case, Mr Bolton was busily manufacturing “evidence” for a report alleging Cuba had a biological weapons program, which his staff knew it didn’t. He would later go on to support President W Bush’s false assertion that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction”, in order to justify “regime change” in Iraq.

The art of persuasion: John Bolton wields the finger of Fate.

As a Fox News studio pundit, in prominent press articles he has more recently recommended similar “regime change” in Iran, with the tearing-up of the international agreement on Iranian nuclear weapons development, and a first strike nuclear attack against North Korea. In fact, it’s hard to see why Trump didn’t just give the job to Alex Jones. Fling wide the doors of the madhouse. (Mr Jones is now saying he no longer supports Trump. Who next?)

This is the man President Donald Trump has been listening to with growing approval for months and has now appointed to the key post of National Security Advisor in place of the more level-headed General HR McMaster, with whom he is said not to have got on. So, no party bag for you, egg-head. Let’s recall that Mr Trump’s judgement was that McMaster’s predecessor, General Mike Flynn, was an all-round good guy. Later, however, he complained that no-one had warned him that Flynn was a known security risk. That was after he’d fired Acting Attorney-General Sally Yates for trying to warn him Flynn was a known security risk.

You see what we’re dealing with here?

And the problem is, the National Security post is not subject to Congressional scrutiny: it’s in the gift of the President.

Bolton is frequently referred to as ‘former UN ambassador’. The term relates to a short stint he spent at the UN as a sort of vacation intern, put there by Bush – who wanted him to have the job full-time – during a Congressional summer recess, after the Senate had refused to ratify his appointment on the grounds that Bolton was prominently on record as saying “The United Nations doesn’t exist … it occupies a 38-storey building in New York and if you took the top ten storeys off, no-one would notice.”

Non-Americans would have been equally alarmed at the sentiments he expressed, that the UN should just shut up and do as it was told because America was the only relevant power in the world. In this regard, he reminds us of Mr Nigel Farage, the campaigning British politician and a member of the European Parliament, whose singleminded dedication to destroying the organization that pays him a very handsome salary and vast expenses, which he hardly ever attends except to insult and berate his foreign colleagues, led ultimately to the Brexit vote.

But there’s more.

“Carl Ford, the former chief of intelligence and research at the State Department, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Bolton was a “serial abuser” of low-level employees and a “quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy.” (See USA Today article.) Melody Townsel, a businesswoman working on a government contract in Moscow in 1994, said Bolton, sent to persuade her to withdraw a complaint about lack of funds, threw a tape dispenser at her and made remarks about her weight and sexual orientation. She remarked about the experience in Moscow:

“Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel — throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and, generally, behaving like a madman. For nearly two weeks, while I awaited fresh direction from my company and from US AID, John Bolton hounded me in such an appalling way that I eventually retreated to my hotel room and stayed there. Mr. Bolton, of course, then routinely visited me there to pound on the door and shout threats…”

(Extract from Todaysworkplace.com quoting The Daily Kos website*)

And it’s now being reported that Mr Bolton enthusiastically  took part in a number of pro-Trump campaign promotional videos on Facebook, as part of the experimental program run by Steve Bannon’s Cambridge Analytica and/or its US parent company, SCL, to subvert the electorate with microtargeted messages based on the misdirected personal data of 50 million Americans.

Mr Bolton denies any such connection with Cambridge Analytica, which seems odd considering a superPAC (unlimited political fund) “run by John Bolton” and funded by the Mercers has reportedly paid Cambridge Analytica $1.1 million since 2014 for “research”, according to an official review of campaign finance records. (Democracynow.org)

With another Iran/NK hawk, Mike Pompeo at State; Larry Kudlow, a poorly regarded Fox TV finance pundit echoing his antediluvian views on the economy, and Fox TV lawyer Joseph DiGenova now leading the defense against the witch hunters following the ousting of John Dowd, Mr Trump now has only three barriers remaining before his ego achieves the total power it craves, independent of any politicians, qualified advisors or people who aren’t certifiably psychopathic: his Chief of Staff, General Kelly, the parent he hates for grounding him; the Defense chief, General Mattis, a dangerous communist – and Bob Mueller, the implacable Justice Department bloodhound investigating his financial crimes under the guise of an inquiry into the fake-news collusion with Russia.

All three will probably be gone by the end of the month.

PS: Oh, oops, 26 March… DiGenova’s already been fired before he even started. Conflict issues… Trump had only previously seen him on Fox News, met him and didn’t like him after all, saying he and his Fox News TV lawyer wife (who came as a package) looked “scruffy”. (Trump is of course a total fake president: childlike, incoherent and mad as a fruit bat.)

*A joke occurs to The Pumpkin: the White House should be renamed. Toadysworkplace….

 

Trump not considered criminal target in Mueller’s Russia inquiry – reports

“According to a person familiar with the investigation, the president is a subject of interest but there’s not enough evidence to bring charges. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations and demanded anonymity.” – Guardian, 4 April.

Don’t tell me, let me guess… David Dennison? John Miller? John Barron?

 

Watch now:

weather.com/en-GB/unitedkingdom/great-outdoors/video/baby-elephant-in-thailand-cuddles-with-american-tourist

 

GW: Not Singin’ in the Rain

Australia: following on from Cyclone Marcus, safely out at sea and degrading but causing big waves off the SW coast around Perth, Cat 3 Cyclone Nora with gusts up to 270 km/h has arrived in the fortunately sparsely populated northern territories, where residents have been warned to find ‘stronger housing’, and up to 300 mm of rain is expected. The storm could track across to Darwin city, still clearing up after Marcus. Much of Queensland is already affected by flooding. Meanwhile in Victoria, S Australia, successive fronts are causing damaging winds across a wide area. Tasmania is particularly affected.

PS Queensland: Port Douglas recorded 593 mm (2 ft) of rain in 24 hours to 26 March, 2018. Flash flooding wipes out Cairns caravan park, 42 rescued. Meanwhile the mercury hits 46C, 115F on the Mardie sheep station in Western Australia.

Indonesia: Torrential rains. Floods. Landslides. “Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) said that so far this year, more people have died in landslides in Indonesia than any other type of natural disaster. Since 01 January 2018 there have been 197 landslides in the country, which have left 53 people dead, 60 injured and 1,369 homes damaged.”

South Korea: heatwave. Extensive early-season wildfires destroy homes, force evacuations.

South Africa: “Parts of Gauteng Province in South Africa were hit by a severe storm from 22 March, 2018. Some areas recorded more than a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours. Areas around Johannesburg and Pretoria were particularly badly hit. Strong winds have downed trees and heavy rain has flooded several roads, causing major traffic problems.”

USA: The “Pineapple Express” storm hit further north of Santa Barbara than predicted and so did not cause the feared landslides in the area affected by the Thomas fire. There was severe flash-flooding in Sacramento county. Some areas recorded new rainfall totals and a number of households were rescued from flooding. Damage was minimized by dredging operations following February’s disaster. Winter Storm Uma blankets Iowa and Minnesota in up to 16 in. of snow.

A band of heavy rain is causing concern for flooding from Texas to Alabama – but residents of Amarillo were celebrating 0.24 mm after a drought that has seen only 0.01 mm in the past 160 days. Owing to the prolonged drought, “half of the winter wheat in Kansas—the nation’s largest producer of the crop—was ranked in poor or very poor condition by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as of Sunday.” “The low temperature at Bush Intercontinental Airport on Tuesday was 73°F, which ties the warmest daily low ever recorded in Houston in March.”

Mexico: Mexico City, 1 dead as extraordinary ‘rain bomb’ falls from cloud.

Brazil: Still raining. Flash flooding in Belo Horizonte; Assis; São Paolo (again). Flash floods in Medellin, Colombia.

India: A rise of 8C in a day brings heatwave conditions back to Mumbai: 41C, 106F. Mercury hits 44C (111F) in Gujarat. African, Indian, Chinese heatwave forecast moving northwards into Europe, Central Asia by 5 April. 40C-plus too already in Iraq.

Northern Europe: Another beastly blast of cold air from Siberia is forecast for the Easter weekend, bringing more snow across central and northern Europe, with continuing below-normal temperatures forecast at intervals through into May. Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations reports that melting snow and ice jams have caused flooding in Altai Krai region. “As of 27 March, flooding had affected 55 rural settlements.” Over 1000 residents evacuated.

Southern Europe:  Storm Hugo brings heavy rain, snow and flooding to northern Portugal and Spain; high Mediterranean winds ship huge volumes of floodwater over the coastlines of Corsica, Calabria, Sardinia. Dense Sahara sandstorm turns skies orange, blankets Crete. Heavy snowfall in Algeria.

A report by EASAC – the independent European Academies’ Science Advisory Committee – finds that extreme precipitation events globally have increased by 400% since 1980.

Grand Solar Minimum

You may hear a lot about the ‘GSM’ being responsible for the cold weather/new ice age that’s upon us.

It’s bullshit: the last refuge of the ‘man-made climate-change’ denial lobby. The earth isn’t warming, it’s cooling? Your Granny doesn’t think so. The sun isn’t cooling either.

The idea behind the theory is that there’s very little sunspot activity at the moment. (As sunspots are cold, surely lack of them ought to mean it’s outputting more heat?) As the amount of energy reaching the earth from the sun fluctuates normally through an 11-year cycle, there’s an idea that a much longer so-called Kondratieff Wave brings about a Grand Solar Minimum; also known after its theorist as a “Maunder Minimum”, at roughly 150-year intervals, when the world is plunged into a Little Ice Age.

Actual astrophysicists tell us we’re on the downside of another 11-year cycle, but so far there’s nothing to suggest it’s anything out of the ordinary. Also, the calculations of climatologists suggest that at most, the solar cycles make a difference of plus-or-minus a third of a degree. That and other background factors are already allowed for in calculations of the degrees of warming attributable to the 39 billion tonnes of CO2 and other stuff we shove into the air annually.

Meanwhile, despite the cold weather and a persistent weak La Niña, adjusted global temperature is still marginally higher than last year, and the years before that. 16 of the last 18 years have been the warmest on record. A 4.1C high-temperature anomaly has been recorded over Antarctica (25 March).

ABC/ Weather.com/ Floodlist/ Paul Beckwith/Wunderground/ CEWN #105, #106

 

Long Essay:

Labour: a sorry State of affairs

Look. I’m a pro-semite, if such a thing can be said to exist.

I’m not myself semitic, of course, but I’m glad of the presence of our Jewish “community”. They seem like a great bunch of people, bouncy and fractious, lugubrious and self-deprecatingly humorous by turns. People with admirable resilience and a fascinating culture, the product of two and a half thousand years of adversity. Not all, obviously. There are always non-conformists, outliers, backsliders, secularists. It doesn’t help to generalize. But I am not now and am never going to hate (as I never have) an entire clade of people for being a bit, well, unusual. Difference is what makes the world go around. I can be pretty unusual myself. I confess, I do sort of hate many named individuals, but I cannot hate an entire people for merely being as they are: not myself.

(Why do I even have to preface my critical opinion with a disclaimer? Is it come to this? Should I refrain in the interests of decency from mentioning my three past delightful Jewish girlfriends? I’d claim that some of my best friends are Jewish, but it wouldn’t be true: I don’t have any friends at all now, it’s easier.)

Would it be too anti-semitic, then, to note that, once again, nervous Israeli conscripts (is there any other kind? Could they not put something relaxing in the tea?) have been taking pot-shots, firing tank shells at innocent parsley farmers, blasting them to bits obviously without any legal repercussions, who strayed as they thought too near the border (an internal border: Israel likes to keep its enemies inside) – and firing live ammunition rounds at despairing demonstrators armed with stones and confined behind razor wire, killing and wounding many hundreds? And then the tiresome old lie: armed terrorists, human shields, most regrettable… justifies nothing, but, you know, the military.

And this, experts say, as a warning or provocation to Israel’s external enemies: Shi’a Iran, and its proxy external army, the 50-thousand-strong Hezbollah militia, currently battling everyone’s enemy ISIS in Syria, Israel’s other enemy, and holding together a fragile peace in Lebanon. No-one in the region is any longer good or bad; just enemies. Iran who, it should be noted, are the enemies of Israel’s new friends, the Gulf Arab states, Salafist Saudi Arabia. There are too many bad actors in the region spoiling for a fight.

Their allegiances are temporary, unstable and should be discounted, frankly. Just shoot back at whoever is shooting at you.

Are we to approve these Biblical acts of smiting the innocent and the guilty alike, in preference to being culture-shamed and name-called by paid shills for the Israeli junta? There are hundreds of thousands of Jews who are equally appalled that this insanity goes on, and on, without commitment to a resolution. Is there any degree of tolerable disapproval of the actions of the Israeli State that does not incur outraged denials, shirt-rending appeals to history, to God, to Justice, and a further stirring-up of fearfulness among the Jewish diaspora by the community leaders themselves? Is there an end to the impotent stupidity of Hamas?

Yes, I hold certain of the Jewish leaders guilty of stirring up and exploiting the old fears as a political weapon. Sorry. We are living at a time when the Internet has made it easy for everyone to hate everyone else. I can be proved wrong, but I am not sure more people really now hate and issue tangible threats to Jews as do those opposed to Muslims, politicians, Hollywood producers, women, TV personalities, “baby-boomers”, Brexit moaners, people with disabilities, taxi-rapists or any other identifiable minority group.

And might it overstep the bounds of semitism, pro- or anti-, to observe that the “right-wing Likud government” of Israel seems to have been taken over by gangsters: international oligarchs, friends of Jared Kushner, intolerant religious Pharisees, settler lobbyists, refugee American wackos and out-and-proud racist cunts like Defense Minister Lieberman, while the “hard-line” prime minister, the rectitudinous Mr Netanyahu, is mired in charges of corruption and influence peddling?

I’d be anti-that. Wouldn’t anybody?

And would it be too anti-Semitic to ask, why now? Why has something Mr Corbyn – I haven’t met him, we’re the same age but I don’t like what we’ve seen of him, he seems a most dreadful humbug (but such a genuine one) and I think I would prefer it if he never becomes prime minister – something stupid he said or did six years ago, why has it emerged only now to highlight his most tremendous failing, that as a Friend of Palestine he and his shadow cabinet rabble must all be rabid Jew-haters? They obviously aren’t, so who’s saying it – and more importantly, why? How have we got from there to here?

And how has a media furore been created around these “five thousand anti-semitic” – er, things – that members of the Labour party have supposedly done, that need to be “investigated”, whatever they are and whoever they were done by? (You should, I feel, be prepared to endure something of a furious backlash when you mount campaigns of disinformation like this.) Targeted, and forced competent officials to resign for not being sensible enough of other people’s instances of anti-semitic – things, unspecified tweets, what? the borderline is as thin and wispy as an eruv – and created a general air of suspicion and damaging, unwanted disunity in the body politic at this critical time? What Mr Trump might call a “witch hunt”?

This is playing with fire.

Why, you would almost imagine some people are beginning to worry that Mr Corbyn has become too popular for the nation’s good and might, if returned to office, say characteristically nasty, anti-semitic things about the Israeli government and refuse to toe the American party line, invite al-Q’aida into a coalition or fall out with Crown Prince bin-whatsit, refusing to sell him bombs to kill more Yemeni children (you see, I’m not one-nation prejudiced). But we might perhaps make another note, this time that over the past year there have been intense but short-lived media-driven onslaughts on all sorts of people: men, Russians, the Parole Board, Trump…. They come, they go.

Which brings me on to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Council and that sinister apologist for the crimes of the gangster regime, Mr Mark Regev, now the Israeli ambassador to London – his reward for years of bullying the BBC into silence, lying, name-calling and cranking-up the moral blackmail to shut down criticism of his paymasters in Tel Aviv. Regev, who recently forced Manchester University to, essentially, no-platform a Holocaust survivor for likening Likud to the Nazis – perhaps a somewhat extreme position, but maybe she should know? And then had the chutzpah to demand total editorial oversight of the rest of the conference proceedings, like a perfect little fascist…. Would it be too anti-semitic to dislike this repellent individual intensely by name?

No doubt he would say so. Not for his religion, his Australian ethnicity (Regev is not his birth name), but for the horror of what he is glibly excusing.

In former years those reasonable, respectable bodies of, no doubt mostly elderly men, who confined themselves largely and with dignity to overseeing Jewish affairs, now possibly under the influence of the new representative from Tel Aviv, who has some pretty persuasive tactics under his belt, seem to have formed an aggressive triumvirate of corncrake lobbyists unafraid of intervening, not to say rabble-rousing, to subvert the normal course of British politics. It is of course their privilege, we could use some new political parties, but not one advancing in a phalanx of unsubstantiated allegations.

It may be that they have an entirely genuine cause for concern, it may be that Britain has become a cesspit of sieg-heiling Jew-baiters, cemetery-desecrators and synagogue-burners. It’s just not something I’ve really noticed going on, just as Mr Corbyn – call him Jeremy – blindly failed to spot the glaring Nazi-era tropes in the offensive public mural he defended (six years ago) against two coats of council whitewash, assuming (one assumes) that its purpose was purely to highlight the oppression of the poor by the world’s banking community in the wake of 2008.

We are left to contemplate, too, the corresponding attacks on Mr Ken Livingston, whose questionable assertions about Hitler and Zionism (I edited the original AJP Taylor essay for an anthology, it’s not all that conclusive) have been interpreted as evidence of systemic prejudice in the Labour party, perhaps because he stubbornly persists with them – as if what he thinks matters any longer. But being an old cynic, it did immediately occur to me that there is more going on in Regev’s world than meets the eye; and that the Nazi-era tropes are not confined to the display of anti-semitic public artworks.

You see, Israeli politics has been dominated for decades by the need to turn history on its head. The approaching 70th anniversary of the Nafqa, as Palestinians call it – apocalypse – when 680 thousand residents of Galilee who had tilled the land for generations were driven from their homes like Native Americans, to spend more generations in refugee limbo, killed, or both, to allow the State of Israel to invite all and sundry to come and live there, would to anyone other than an extremely conservative Israeli or a wealthy Labour donor be a significant anniversary of an act that has caused untold misery, global violence, moral ambiguity and division down the years.

Modern Israel’s take on it however makes themselves out to be the victims, justifying the oppression of an entire people. Under the watchful eye of a military state barely clinging anymore to the moral high ground their founders claimed, the land-grabbing and the illegal settlements, the casual brutalities and the occasional massacres go on, and on, justified apparently by random acts of defiance by the oppressed and the forceful efforts of the lobbyists.

Even the Israeli press, at least the liberal Haaretz, has this to say today, 1 April – Easter Sunday:

Israel and the United States are no longer interested in a pragmatic and equitable two-state solution, if they ever were. In exchange for a truncated Palestinian mini-state that won’t control much more than the Palestinian Authority does, Abbas is now being asked to not only recognize Israel but to acknowledge the Jewish people’s inherent, biblical right to the Land of Israel, a statement that would constitute a repudiation of the entire history of the Palestinian national movement.

It might also require the Muslim Abbas to acknowledge the primacy of the Jewish bible as a title deed to the land. You see, that’s where you can get by endless bullying, lying, defiance of international conventions, ultraviolence and special pleading. And, might I add, in complete defiance of the somewhat nobler aspirations of the founders, as expressed in the famous 1947 UN speech by David Ben-Gurion:

“…it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

And anyone who doesn’t approve of that elegant eviction order is an anti-semite, pure and simple.

Seriously, Ben Gurion was well aware of the dilemma. In creating a State of Israel to which he felt Jews were absolutely entitled to “return” from the Diaspora according to their ancient compact with “God” and the recent horrors of the Holocaust, he recognized that he was taking away the homeland of the Palestinians who had lived there for at least two thousand years. (Modern Israeli archaeologists now realize, the “Arabs” as the Zionist settlers called them are a fully related semitic people who predate even the first Hebrew settlement and who stayed on through and after the Roman expulsions, which were more limited in scope than the mythology suggests.)

Yet although he clearly understood it, Ben Gurion could never accommodate himself to “Arab” resistance to the occupation. He continually defied external criticism of his and his successors’ warlike State actions, attempting to combine extreme reasonableness and open offers of co-operative citizenship (the “one-state” solution, more-or-less) with threats of unlimited morally and politically unquestionable reprisals in the face of continued resistance. As he has oft been quoted as saying: “It doesn’t matter what the goyim say, but what the Jews do.”

Thus he inadvertently laid the ground for what is by all accounts now a totalitarian State, which walls up its uncompliant “Arab” citizens in unsustainable ghettos and visits them with condign punishment through the use of advanced and illegal weaponry (which they do not themselves possess) at the slightest sign of resistance, heedless of mass civilian casualties which, like the playground bully (“Why are you hurting yourself, eh? Oh Sir, he started it!), it blames back on the Palestinians’ elected representatives; and brands external critics “anti-semites” when they raise the obvious parallels with policies pursued in Nazi Germany, certainly between 1935 and 1941 when the “Final Solution” began; and obdurately refuses to accept any moral authority other than that of its Biblical avatars, who – it must be said – lived in less complex times, but in their robust slaughter and rape of the Amalechites and the Canaanites were perhaps not as desiring of peace as painted by the First Prime Minister.

Thus, anti-semitism is never something that is provoked, a reaction against the behavior of Jews themselves; it must always pre-exist in the flawed nature of the goyim.

Let me just remind you of one small story among many bigger ones that is ongoing today. I warn you, it is utterly shameful. Saying that, I may have crossed a line.

After an Israeli soldier shot her cousin point-blank in the face with a rubber bullet, he remains on life support, a 16 year-old Palestinian girl, Ahed Tamimi, flew angrily at a group of soldiers and slapped one of them on the face. (Pro-Israel media say “punched”. Just another example of ratcheting up the prejudicial emotional rhetoric.)

This brutal attack against a defenseless armed soldier was seen in various quarters as immensely disrespectful of the military. Israeli soldiers raided the Tamimi home at 3 a.m., arresting Ahed and confiscating the family’s phones, computers and laptops. Ahed has been denied bail and could face years in prison.

Doubling-down on their sense of overweening authoritarian power, soldiers arrested Ahed’s mother Nariman later that day when she inquired about her daughter, and she too remains in custody. (That’s the practise of ‘Sippenhaft’, targeting innocent family members to intimidate resisters – something else they appear to have learned from the SS. Sorry.)

A military trial began on 12 February, is still without a verdict, while the press, human rights supporters and Palestinian diplomats have been barred from the courtroom. (Reporting by lots of people but specific words are from media bias monitoring website, Fair.)

I’ll leave it to you to decide if this rotten behavior characteristic of the filthiest totalitarian regimes is a Jewish thing, or simply an Israeli thing. Or maybe something they learned from real totalitarian regimes, like, you know.

For David Ben Gurion, despite all his weaselly promises of conciliation, citizenship and offers of friendship, provided nobody questioned his people’s right to do whatever the hell they liked, if necessary with maximum violence and inattention to human rights, there could be no difference.

It was all the same to him.

And that, I’m sorry to say, is where blind idealism gets you.

Oxfam: Only trying to help…. GW: stumbling blindly through the blizzard… Yellowstone News: It’s been a blast!… A higher gear…

“…the Bronze Age states (c. 1250 BC) were hit by multiple events. Not just sustained droughts and famine, but also numerous volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, civil unrest, mass refugee migrations, trade disruptions and war.” – BBC feature: Economic Collapse: the real message of the fall of Troy.

Ring any?

Oxfam: Only trying to help

Like John Milton I’m going to struggle with my near-blindness for a bit, because I need to say something. (Unlike Milton we’re hoping it will go away eventually…)

I’ve just lost it again with a harmless old chap I run into most days on my walk, who keeps triggering my inner libtard by parroting toxic ideas he gets from the rightwing media, mostly about ‘foreigners’ (although he tells me he was born in America).

A bit ashamed of that, actually. Sorry, dear old chap. I treasure you really.

Today, he was most exercised that ‘we’ give money to Oxfam so they can exploit 10-year-old Haitian prostitutes.

I agree, that’s not good. However, it’s probably more shocking in my more expansive view that ‘we’ pay the officers of Oxfam half a million pounds a year to fly first-class and stay at the best hotels just down the road from the disaster zone, while allowing 10-year-olds to ply the oldest profession in the street outside.

The economics of prostitution are generally related to a failure of good governance at many levels, but it is invariably born out of necessity, of a kind one had imagined charities like Oxfam have for more than 50 years been paid to relieve.

While Oxfam probably employs many thousands of good people around the world in difficult situations where they can’t always be supervised, there are a few bad apples in every large organization, who in this case were fired as soon as Oxfam found out. That’s not good enough for the British press, however.

But do we really want to destroy institutions that still do some good in the world, while yet there is a British parlour wall unhung with a 60-inch TV screen?

The occasionally atrocious behavior of a tiny handful of employees is a lot less unexpected than the broader failure of the organization to do its work. There should be no 10-year-old prostitutes in the first place in an earthquake disaster zone where international charities are thick on the ground. That’s the outrage – not that a few wicked and licentious officials may be tempted to exploit them.

The elderly party thinks it’s a disgrace anyway that the government gives ‘our’ money away to people in foreign countries when we should spend it instead on the National Health Service and other poverty-stricken causes in ‘our’ own country.

I agree… many of ‘us’ also need help. But… Don’t ‘we’ already get help? Maybe not quite as much as we feel we deserve. But there is no famine in Britain. No militarized mass rape. No genocide. No rampaging warlords or traffic in “blood diamonds”, beyond a few isolated cases of exploitative gangsterism. Influence-peddling, some inequality, but no kleptocracy to speak of; and very few earthquakes.

As I have recently experienced, in Britain you can walk in off the street to a clean, professionally run hospital and, provided you have the right condition, be swiftly assessed and treated expensively for free. Every child receives a free education to the age of 18. Comply to the nth degree with the miserable conditions and endless bureaucracy of the Government’s rotten means-test and you can at least get a few tens of pounds a week in benefits to help you survive to an age when the State grants you a pension.

And who left those “shithole” countries in the state they’re in? They’re mostly former colonial territories of ours, the French, the Belgians, the Germans, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Portuguese – and they didn’t have much to begin with.

I try explaining that ‘we’ give just 70 pence out of every hundred pounds we earn, our Gross National Product, to the aid budget because some people on earth are even more desperate than we are, the sixth richest nation in the world – and we’re nominally a Christian country. Does the old guy really think that if ‘we’ took back that 70p, they’d give more to people like him? Ha ha! Sillyface.

The NHS already swallows twelve whole pounds out of every hundred we earn; the problem seems to be (forgive me, I’ve spent too much time in hospitals lately) a mismatch between the facilities available, the staff available and the patients’ medical needs, which are seldom serious. That’s a management, not a money problem. £40 billion goes to Education; a similar amount to defend ourselves against the North Korean menace. Good God, we’ve spent 7 billion pounds building two leaky aircraft carriers with no aircraft, and propose to spent 60 billion more on useless nuclear submarines we can only operate with the permission of the Pentagon – 60 billion more still on a superfluous and destructive 110-miles of railway line on which you and I will not be able to afford to travel.

Isn’t that selfish enough for the average Daily Mail reader?

Indeed, £38 in every £100 the nation earns goes into the pockets, the country estates, the offshore accounts and the Bentley Continentals – who knows, maybe also the 10-year-old prostitutes – of the top 1 per cent of wealthy people in ‘our’ country – among them that braying, bullying egoist, the £2.5m a year editor of the Daily fucking Mail – people who prefer you not to think of them when you’re begrudging the world’s poorest their 70 pence.

I should like to explain that only some of the aid budget, that 70p in every hundred pounds, goes to famine and disaster relief. Some goes to useful development projects that intendedly help to increase ‘our’ export sales. Some goes to preventing refugees from coming to Britain. Some goes to maintaining embassies abroad. Some goes to the United Nations. And some even goes to the military to pay for peacekeeping missions that ultimately increase security on ‘our’ streets.

This huge generosity is what the editor of the Daily fucking Mail, the world’s nastiest, greediest, most selfish, fascist-supporting so-called newspaper, a privileged Jingoistic swine who owns a 17 thousand-acre Scottish estate and gave himself a 60 per cent pay rise last year, a bullying brute by all accounts pandering profitably to the worst instincts in stinking humanity, describes as ‘madness’.

But I don’t explain. What would be the point? Instead, I tell this elderly party, who’s probably no older than I am, ‘oh, fuck that Daily Mail bullshit’, and walk away angrily, because I don’t expect him to understand what I’m saying to him. No-one wants to hear they’re being played for fools, or that they’re just normally thoughtless, selfish, dog-eat-dog human beings.

I’m sure he was only trying to be helpful.

 

GW: stumbling blindly through the blizzard

Look, I’m still not really up to writing loads of copy. Staring at this screen hurts my eyes. I’m going to just give you a link to Climate & Extreme Weather News #92 pt 2, the latest issue, and you can draw your own conclusions. They’d better be the right ones. Video footage from Iowa includes instructions (from 08’53”) for how to build a traffic jam out of idiots – 12 of whom died trying.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djg7FEuxQCI

And now there’s CEWN #93 and it’s just overwhelming:

Cyclone Gita: Samoa, American Samoa & Tonga …The Philippines: Tropical Storm Basyang …Bolivia: Tiquipaya mudflows …Brazil: Porto Alegre storm …Argentina: Cordoba hailstorms … The USA: Midwest snowstorm & south-east flooding …Europe: Western Europe cold & France snow …Iceland: Reykjavik blizzard …India: Maharashtra thunderstorms …Japan: Snowstorms …Australia: Queensland heatwave & Brisbane thunderstorms …New Zealand: Opotiki flooding …Sudden Stratospheric Warming Event…. and more!

To summarize (more winterize, actually):

5 dead in the Philippines as TS Basyang batters Mindanao. Cordoba experienced quite a few giant hailstones of 10 cm dia. and more, but we recall it is the city that had five feet of hail in fifteen minutes last August. 12 people have died in record snowfalls over coastal Japan in the past week. Central Queensland is heading into a possible record heatwave for next week. 4 people died in a cyclonic hailstorm in Maharashtra, with extensive crop damage.  Reykjavik experiences total whiteout and hurricane-speed winds with 5-ft snowdrifts burying cars overnight. Arctic sea ice is at another record February low, while a heatwave in the stratosphere is intruding over the Arctic and expected to play hell with the polar vortex over the next few days.

The forecaster fails to mention however that the subArctic jetstream is somewhere over North Africa.

USA: “Heavy rain, flooding and landslides have affected areas of Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee since 10 February 2018.” 2 die as Chicago experiences 9 straight days of snow.

Bolivia: “Heavy rain and flooding has left 6 people dead and 9,600 families affected. As many as 14 municipalities have declared a disaster.”

Mediterranean: “Severe weather, including strong winds, heavy rain and high waves, caused damage in Malta on 10 February. 1 man was killed and a passenger injured when a car was hit by a fallen tree. A large ship ran aground during the storm. Over 100 mm of rain fell in some areas in 24 hours.”

Pacific: “Days of heavy rainfall brought by Tropical Cyclone Gita have caused flooding and landslides in Samoa. The storm dumped massive amounts of rain from 07 to 11 Feb. Some areas recorded over 600 mm in a 24-hour period. Heavy rain in eastern areas of Malaysia caused flooding in parts of Sarawak from 03 Feb. Samarahan Division recorded almost 200mm of rain in 24 hours to 06 February. Schools and hospitals have been closed and thousands of people affected.”

Africa: “The south of Malawi is enduring a dire dry season that the country’s ministry of agriculture says will leave more than 700,000 farmers with less than 40 percent yield from their crops.” Mob violence has accompanied rumors that the drought is due to witchcraft. (Washington Post, 08 Feb).

Last week, however, GW was relaying news from Floodlist that northern Malawi was yet again underwater owing to intense rainfall. Maybe a pipeline or some buckets would be useful?

Anyone there at Oxfam?

Thanks to Floodlist/ Washington Post/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #92 pt 2, #93.

 

It’s been a blast

Yellowstone is “under strain” according to a group of seismologists who are monitoring the potentially catastrophic volcano, prompting fears an eruption is imminent. 15 Feb a new earthquake swarm up to M2.9 is recorded (but not reported) in the park.

Food security: “Some areas of Australia have seen up to 70% (grain crop) reductions compared to last year’s output. Reasons are drought and cold related issues.”

Mary Greeley website quoting the Billing Gazette and an unsourced scientific paper/ ABC News

 

A Higher Gear

I don’t normally give a shit about the BBC’s noxious car show for drooling petro-cretins and their embarrassed-looking girlfriends, Top Gear. I’m just watching for the first time the stilted, amateurish, characterless new autocue-stumbling presentation team going through the motions while waiting for something better to come on.

A dreary presenter is having an orgasm driving the latest Ferrari round a track somewhere. It goes at 300 mph, you can’t legally drive it on the road and it’s not race-licensed either. Only 40 will ever be made, it costs only £2 million, comes with its own fulltime team of mechanics – the tyres last only a few miles – and you can’t just buy one, you have to be invited as a deserving person to own one (Lewis Hamilton, enjoy!).

It is, of course, exquisite. Out of this world. It even limits the number of laps you’re allowed to drive it, before you die of smugness. And has a button that lets you drift excitingly round corners at 200 mph with no traction control, just for the hell of it.

FXXK? FXX that.

You’re taking the piss, right?

Or is this a new series of Pointless?

 

 

Last week’s post resumed – THE SCREAM… The United Kingdom Instability Party… GW: Kickin’ up a storm in me floral wellies and me snowboard… the latest scary Arctic news, Plus: Signs and portents, and… WARNING: Capitalists.

The Swedish founder of the Ikea furniture chain, Ingvar Kamprad, has died at the age of 91, the company has announced.

No jokes about flatpack coffins now, guys…

 

Men driven to extremes by #metoo take to carrying their own sheds about. (BBC)

THE SCREAM

Watch this.

Do not not watch it. It contains important information everyone needs to know.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2S6QvJOTAVQ

 

Introduction

As I unexpectedly went blind in one eye last week and required a retinal reattachment procedure, which involved miniaturizing Raquel Welch with an arc-welder and injecting her into my optical jelly wearing only an aqualung, my Post got delayed and now I’m struggling a bit as I appear to have half my head inside a goldfish bowl with an oil slick on the surface, my remaining ‘good’ eye being so longsighted already, I can’t really see to type.

So I hope you’ll forgive me recycling an old Post, but this article was relatively free of unforced typos and seemed so prescient it was worth a rerun. It’s about the chaos in a fragmenting political party of once-popular protest, that didn’t quite cut the mustard post-Brexit – UKIP. Not now, but eighteen months ago. It was first posted in August 2016.

No fool like a middle-aged fool.

Last week’s extraordinary sequence of events in which the recently elected leader of the UKIP rump party, the anally retentive, 50-something, ex-military chap, Henry Bolton, has been refusing to stand down in a row over a pretty vile racist tweet about Meghan Markle posted by his new girlfriend, “25-year-old topless model” Jo Marney, whom he publicly repudiated but was then spotted having a clandestine meet with, there being no fool like a middle-aged fool – he’s also married, and now says he intends to stand by the floozy – despite the resignations following a vote of No Confidence of almost the entire party committee, and the spectacularly unhelpful interventions of the self-promoting narcissist, Trump bumsucker and “person of interest” to the Mueller investigation, Farage, have brought us pretty much full circle to previous disastrous UKIP “leadership” trials.

This (with minor edits) is what we wrote:

The United Kingdom Instability Party

I suppose it is a bit fatuous to suggest that politicians could or should ever be brought to book for misrepresentation of anything other than their expenses and constituency accounts.

In a recent Appeal Court ruling it was, for instance, decided that, to avoid lengthy explanations, it was okay to slightly misrepresent the facts on which you have based an insurance claim, provided the claim itself is valid.

It’s called ‘collateral lying’.

‘Collateral lying’ is pretty much what all politicians have done throughout political history. It’s the inevitable consequence of having to provide ‘pie-in-the-sky’ today, with ‘jam tomorrow’ as dessert for the yearning masses.

Voters would simply not know what to do, if politicians were not in some sense lying to them about most matters of public policy. Candidates are expected to lie extensively about the shameful past record of their opponents, and to lie more about what they plan to do themselves when in office; how a newer, pinker, fluffier world will come into being.

While, of course, in Islam, the concept of Taqqiya allows the devout Muslim to deny his religion – or anything else – under torture.

I’m not sure, however, that I’ve ever come across a case before, where a new political party built on a mass movement driven by disaffection with the status quo has, in only three years:

  • terrified the government of the day to the point where a stupid, hasty and disastrous plebiscite has wrecked both the economy and the nation’s standing in the world;
  • put its candidates up for election on a platform of root-and-branch reform of the political landscape;
  • won a substantial number of local authority and European Parliament seats, and then:
  • its founder and incessantly yarping mouthpiece has owned up to several ‘collateral lies’ and resigned to spend more time making money, while the party organisation has…
  • immediately evaporated in a welter of procedural wrangling and top-level resignations, as it…
  • struggles to elect a new ‘leader’ from among what one senior officer describes broadly as a squabbling bunch of obscure ‘megalomaniacs’.

In other words, a party that has obtained votes and seats and spent public money and caused global chaos entirely under the false pretence that it was ever a serious political entity.

This seems to me to go rather beyond ‘collateral lying’ to outright misrepresentation.

Do we expect UKIP to apologise and call for a re-run of elections in those areas where it has gained local authority seats at the expense of the other parties?

Do we think they should pay the money back, that they got from the EU? (Not to mention Russia… Ed.)

Not really. That wouldn’t be politics.

x

GW: Kickin’ up a storm in me floral wellies and me snowboard

(some of these reports date from the previous week)

It’s a good look… how long before it appears in Vogue?

Russia: According to the State weather bureau, Moscow had its darkest December ever, recording just 6 MINUTES of sunshine over the entire month. “The cold in Yakutia, in the far east, dipped below -60C (-76F)”. (Schools are normally closed in Russia’s coldest province at -50C…) “Some residents recorded temperatures as low as -67C, -88F… in touching distance of -67.7C, the coldest-ever officially recorded for a permanently inhabited settlement anywhere in the world”. In Anzhero-Sudzhensk, the body of a 26-year-old industrial climber was found frozen to the outside of a building.

Kazakhstan: Black snow has fallen on the city of Temirtau. Residents are blaming industrial pollution from the local steelworks. “In 2016, nearly 600,000 tons of harmful substances were released into the air in Karaganda according to Kazakhstan’s statistics committee. In December 2017 alone, the national meteorological agency recorded levels of hydrogen sulphide in Temirtau exceeding the government-mandated limit by more than 11 times.”

Mauritius: Tropical Cyclone Berguitta is likely to be the most powerful to hit the Indian Ocean island in over 30 years, with wind gusts of 130 mph. That’s according to the Meteo France/BBC report: Wunderground’s NOAA tracking map has the storm veering away from the island out to sea. Either way, the smaller islands of Réunion and Maurice are fully in its path (PS and were badly damaged but suffered no casualties).

Mozambique: 11 die in floods. 78 thousand people displaced by a tropical depression, 2 thousand properties affected. 240mm (10-in) rain fell in 24 hours.

Burundi: “severe weather, including strong winds, heavy rain and flooding has left almost 2,000 displaced and destroyed or severely damaged hundreds of homes since 14 January. Over 12,000 people have been affected.”

South Africa: After three years of intense drought, the first major city in the (modern) world is set to go dry in April: ” “Day Zero is the day that the water resource system runs out of water,” said Mark New, Research Chair in Climate Risk at the University of Cape Town. What does this mean? “No water coming out the taps. Toilets cannot be flushed. Fire services cannot get water out of the fire hydrants. People will have to walk to water tankers to fill up drinking water bottles.” And there will be knock-on effects, such as schools considering whether they can operate with no water on campus.”

New Zealand: hottest January on record (100 years). In nearby Australia, parts of New South Wales are experiencing 48C, 116F. in Melbourne, Australian Open tennis final invokes ‘extreme heat’ protocol and closes the roof (28 Jan)… still 90F at 11pm, power cuts hit thousands of homes. Cooler conditions forecast, plunging to only 64F by Tuesday!

Philippines: “Heavy rain since 12 January has caused flooding and landslides in Eastern Visayas and Davao Region. Authorities say that at least 11 people have died and around 8,000 have been displaced.” 264 mm rain in 24 hours fell on Catarman – Jan 12 to 13.

Malaysia, Indonesia… more flash floods reported as storms hit Kuala Lumpur and Denipasa respectively.

USA: The death toll from the Montecito mudslides continues to rise. “At least 20 people (now 21/2) have died and 3 remain missing as a result of the mudslides and floods that devastated Southern California, according to a Santa Barbara County Press Release on Jan. 15. The mudslides occurred early on Tuesday, Jan. 9, destroying an estimated 115 homes and damaging hundreds of others.”  Shocking footage on CEWN, see below).  In the East, very cold weather is set to return after a short lull.

Colombia: “At least 13 people have died in a landslide near the town of Túquerres in Nariño Department, Colombia. The landslide occurred on 21 January, 2018 after a period of heavy rain. A huge section of a hillside along the Tumaco-Pasto highway fell onto the road, pushing a bus carrying at least 15 passengers into a ravine.”

  • In fact much of South America has been badly hit by floods and landslides in the past week. Video reports showing powerful storms, torrential rain, urban flash floods, buildings wrecked and streets turned to debris fields have come in from SE Brazil (São Paolo/Santa Carina), Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay.

UK: 80 mph winds and heavy snow are forecast this midweek, with amber warnings out for most of Scotland. It’s already bloody windy here in the west, with gusts to 65 mph. The 6th storm of the winter season, it’s been named Ffion in Ireland – doesn’t seem to be named at all in the UK (eventually, Georgina), where it’s caused widespread power outages in the southeast – but the Germans have called it Friederike.

  • Sunday 21 Jan: snowing in London (a rare event), minus 13C in Scotland, plus 14C in the Southwest (10C here…) as warm front meets cold. Met Office says 20C temperature gradient dividing the British Isles in half is ‘quite unusual’.

Europe: “4 people have been killed by falling trees or debris as a fierce storm tears across northern Europe. Storm-related accidents killed 3 people in the Netherlands and 1 in north-west Germany. Gusts of up to 140km/h (90mph) caused transport chaos. … Police temporarily closed the centre of Almere, a Dutch city with about 200,000 residents.  … warning people to stay at home because of risk from the storm.”

Paris after the fall… (NBC)

France: Sunday 21 Jan – virtually the entire country is covered by yellow and amber flood warnings. These convert to numerous avalanche warnings in mountain resorts affected by recent heavy snowfall. Meteo France reports, the country overall has seen 4 to 5 times the normal rainfall for December to January. Many rivers, including the Seine at Paris, are giving concern.

Far north… Temperature anomalies in the Arctic region are truly disturbing. “The sea surface near Svalbard was as warm as 15.9°C or 60.8°F on January 12, 2018, compared to 2.4°C or 36.4°F on January 12 for the period 1981-2011. … On January 1, 2018, Arctic sea ice extent was at record low for the time of year … Temperatures as high as 18.5°C or 65.3°F were recorded on Jan. 14 and 15 in Metlakatla, Alaska. … surface temperatures as high as 7.4°C or 45.2°F were reached on Jan 16 in Yukon Territory, Canada.” Record high methane levels are also being detected.

World: Figures adjusted to account for annual anomalies caused by the El Niño/La Niña currents show 2017 was ‘significantly’ hotter than 2016 – on unadjusted NASA and NOAA figures, 2017 was either the second hottest between 2016 and 2015, or the third after both. According to the anonymous team of climate scientists posting as ‘Sam Carana’ (Arctic-news.blogspot.com): “Global warming has crossed 1.5°C / 2.7°F above preindustrial* and looks set to cross 2°C / 3.6°F soon. Due to accelerating warming in the Arctic, that could happen within one or two years’ time, i.e. much faster than the trendlines … may suggest.” After reviewing feedback loops now being triggered that will speed the process, they conclude: “Add up the impact of all warming elements and, as an earlier analysis shows, the rise in mean global temperatures from preindustrial could be more than 10°C in a matter of years.”

*Grannysplaining note: The IPCC figures showing warming has still not yet met the 1.5C ‘threshold’ are taken from 1981 onwards and don’t include the 0.59 deg of warming post-roughly 1750 when we started burning coal industrially. Warming since 1981 has been increasing exponentially but we don’t imagine there will be any immediate recognition from the powers-that-be, that we have gone over the irreversible 2 deg. mark.

Meteonovosti / Siberia Times/ BBC Weather/ BBC News/ Floodlist/ Accuweather/ Wunderground/ Meteoalarm/ Natural Resources Wales/ Arctic News, posted 22 Jan./ Climate & Extreme Weather News #90, Pt 1 (10-24 Jan). Below: Mary Greeley website, et al.

x

Signs and portents

The famous marriage-and-divorce city of Reno in Nevada has been experiencing an unusual swarm of small earthquakes, known as ‘temblors’. Since last Thursday night (18 Jan – today’s Sunday 21) they’ve had more than 260, in what is normally the least geologically active part of the state – although there are many, hopefully extinct volcanoes nearby. Nobody seems to know what it portends, if anything, although some have pointed to its concentration around a hydrothermal borehole. The BogPo notes after extensive research that a similar swarm of temblors up to M2.1 was previously reported in Reno in April, 2008.

Mt St Helen’s last erupted with cataclysmic force in 1980, killing 57 people.

A continuing series of M3+ earthquakes is occurring in Washington State, inside the craters of and close both to Mount St Helen’s and Mount Rainier, the State’s two largest active volcanoes. There’s no sign either of the Yellowstone swarm stopping, now the longest ever recorded. Instruments recorded a plume of rising magma last week, that almost broke the surface. A new USGS newsletter confirms, the total extent of the Yellowstone magma field is 248 MILES in diameter….

Volcanic activity in the so-called Ring of Fire in the Pacific has been off the scale in the last week, with hundreds of thousands of people evacuated from islands in the Indonesian archipelago and Vanuatu. Mount Kadovar in Papua-New Guinea blew for the first time in recorded history. 23 Jan, 1 person is killed and several skiers injured when the sudden eruption of 7-thousand-foot Mt Kusatsu-Shirane in central Honshu island, Japan, with no prior seismic activity, sets off an avalanche and a rain of sooty boulders. On the eastern side, large earthquakes included a 6.3 in Baja, Mexico/California, a 6.5 in Peru and a 7.1 in Honduras, just in the last week – a shallow (8km) M6.2 off Kamchatka and a whopping shallow (10km) M7.9 (to 8.1) that’s just struck this morning at Kodiak Island, Alaska, triggering a tsunami warning that thankfully produced just a 7-inch wave… leading all the YouTubers to worry about why so little?

Meanwhile, the weather blogger and Fortean, MrMBB333 continues to track the increasing number of strange, apparently non-lunar tidal retreats of the ocean for long periods at a time – including the now well-observed disappearances of the Mississippi river at its delta. There’s still no clue as to what is causing these events, although environmentalists are blaming overextraction and new flood defences for the problems of North America’s longest river.

 

Massive climate-change cretin dies

John Coleman, founder and CEO of The Weather Channel – the pioneering trans-continental US cable weather station – has died at his home in California at the age of 83.

Bizarrely, Coleman spent much of his later life vehemently contradicting the views of his own meteorologists, dismissing climate science as a ‘massive scam’ – possibly the greatest in history – and an affront to the interests of US business.

As such, he may be largely or even entirely responsible for Trump’s misinformed opinion on the matter, that has led to US withdrawal from the now largely symbolic Paris accord.

In a thoughtful and balanced obituary by Dr Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, we read:

“As recently as 2017, Coleman was referring to climate change as “baloney” on CNN and called it a “totally failed theory” on his blog.

“It’s tremendously unfortunate that Coleman later devoted the same energy to dismissing climate change science and the people who carry it out. Coleman’s brightest legacy by far will be his accomplishments in making national-scale weathercasting an important part of U.S. culture.”

http://www.wunderground.com/cat6/weather-channel-founder-john-coleman-dies

(GW writes: let’s recall that both the US Petroleum Institute and several global energy corporations including Shell and Exxon-Mobil have recognized, researched, documented and been fully aware since the early 1960s of the likely consequences of emitting vast quantities of greenhouse gases from burning fossil biofuels. Every UN-recognized country in the world is a signatory to the Paris accord, except now thanks to this massive asshole the US – some ‘conspiracy’!

So whatever Coleman’s motive was in claiming they were all merely hoping to get research grants – he was a TV weatherman, not a climatologist, and that bogus claim can be traced right back to the Koch-funded campaign of deception – let’s all join in saying, fuck him.

We hope it’s hot as hell where he’s gone. If you deal with the devil you must expect one day to have to go live with him.

 

WARNING: Capitalists.

Major owner of The Weather Channel is Blackrock investments spinoff, private equity firm Blackstone Group ($387 billion under management).

To read what they have to say about their market positioning, please position a sickbag beneath your chin as you read the annual report from nearly literate founder and CEO, Steve Schwarzman:

“…we moved aggressively into Europe early in the recovery, focusing on fundamental value or situations where dislocation created compelling opportunities. This enabled us to ride out the shorter term volatility brought on by some of the issues they’ve had, like the Greek debt crisis, Brexit, and the ongoing impact of populism on several elections.

“These types of dislocations provide opportunity for a firm like Blackstone.”

He left out “of total cunts”, before adding: “You can make enormous money doing the right things in our business.”

You certainly wouldn’t want a little thing like 10 degrees of warming by 2026 to get in the way of that, now would you? I mean, that’s a dislocation you can make a freakin’ shedload of wonga out of.

As far as Steve is concerned, the ‘right thing’ mainly involves buying up a raft of totally disassociated companies and selling off only the best bits, dumping the rest along with the workforces. It used to be known as ‘asset stripping’, which Conservative Prime Minister Ted Heath once famously described as ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’.

It’s not like caring for people. Wikipedia reports:

“The purchase and subsequent profitable IPO of Southern Cross led to controversy in the UK. Part of the purchase involved splitting the business into a property company, NHP, and nursing home business, which Blackstone claimed would become “the leading company in the elderly care market”. In May 2011, Southern Cross, now independent, was almost bankrupt, jeopardising 31,000 elderly residents in 750 care homes. It denied blame, although Blackstone was widely accused in the media for selling on the company with an unsustainable business model…”

Capitalists. Dontcha gotta love ’em?

 

The Pumpkin – New Year Edition: Happy New Year from Granny Weatherwax (fuckin’ moron)… The BogPo InHuman Awards, 2018.

Donald J. TrumpVerified account @realDonaldTrump

In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!

“For President Trump to be the principal spokesman for a now totally discredited campaign to deny these facts and to refuse to take action to mitigate them for the safety and security of the American public is, or should be, a criminal act for which he most certainly ought to be impeached.”

Happy New Year, fuckin’ moron (From your old Granny)

President Troll proved himself to be the ultimate internet Chump with a teatime tweet, 28 Dec., boasting that the record cold spell that’s seen parts of Minnesota buried under five feet of snow and temperatures plunge as low as minus 37C in International Falls, Mn. (“America’s Coldest Town”) proves that global warming is a hoax, as he has frequently said, and that by pulling out of the Paris accord he has successfully saved America from having to pay “trillions of dollars” to combat something that doesn’t exist.

“And if you think these hugest ever hands are small, you should see the size of my intelligence!”

I honestly don’t know where to start unpicking the lies, dangerous ignorance and confusion of this demented old sack of composting fishburgers. Especially as there seemed to be some sly tongue-in-cheek humor in back of his tweet. Does he really ever fully tweet with conviction, or are his tweets just little hoaxes he likes to perpetrate, little teasers to annoy decent, liberal-minded internationalists like the staff at The Pumpkin; to keep himself in the nooze?

He must know, surely, that global climate is not the same as local weather. And according to NOAA, the US weather bureau, despite the big freeze this has still been the third warmest year across the US since their records began in 1895 – the top two being 2016 and 2015. Parts have seen their hottest temperatures ever. (And by the way, fish-breath, this is already costing you hundreds of billions in damage.)

I’m only a visual arts graduate, I failed Physics-with-Chemistry, my only O-level flunk, although I got 100% in Geometry! Nevertheless by reading what scientists write and watching their podcasts over the past year I feel I’ve gained quite a useful impression of what meteorology has discovered, and must thank my Committee of Discarnate Entities for not engineering a life for me in which I need to make uncomfortable field trips to measure things for myself. It’s bad enough out today just walking the dog.

It makes you wonder why Trump cannot be bothered to do the same? He doesn’t need to read, there’s a lot on YouTube.

America (will go) First

Temperature, pressure, windspeed and precipitation are recorded at frequent intervals at thousands of points all around the globe, not only in the USA, simultaneously at the equator and the poles and all points inbetween, on mountaintops and in the oceans, and monitored by internationally accredited scientific bodies from satellites with instruments so sensitive they can register a 1 mm change in sea-level. These data are not simply conjecture.

Heading for Florida – Hurricane Irma. Rising sea temperatures are making hurricanes more violent.

All the data are then plugged-in to big computers – machines – that apply them to various models that are insistently telling us things are going haywire, although there are hairs’ breadth differences in the trends and trajectories. That’s the point of computer models, unlike politicians they don’t conspire against the US economy. And they show the planet is warming, without any doubt. They don’t explain why, but that it is mostly caused by human activity, as we shall see, is really no longer a matter for debate.

(It’s completely illogical to believe we’re not having an effect.)

Any increase in global average temperature naturally perturbs cold regions as well as hot. But the knock-on effects are not evenly distributed: global climate is the overall condition, local climate variations are sets of lesser conditions, and “the weather” is a product of local climate when acted on by other variables: wind, ocean currents, solar energy, the rotation of the globe – air and sea temperature, and barometric (air) pressure.

When the delusionary old man in the White House calls for ‘America First’, a slogan he borrowed from the good old-timey brownshirts in the 1930s, and thereby imagines that the only things that have any meaning are American things, like the weather in Minnesota, he imagines there is no rest of the world to bother knowing about! But the area of the US and Canada currently affected by the Arctic plume is just 1% of the world’s land mass.

1.7 degrees of industrial-era warming, where we roughly are now, is interfering with the seasons and creating many problems, but it does not yet mean there can be no winter and that we shall all bask forevermore in eternal summer. Of course there are still winters. When it is winter in the northern hemisphere, it is summer in the southern – and Australia, which is in the southern hemisphere, Donald, has already set new records for heatwaves this summer. It’s a matter of balance, and the marginal 1.7 degree tipping of the scale over the whole globe has more complex effects than just causing the fundamental differences between summer and winter in Minnesota.

Your primary-school way of looking at the science is not how it works, Chump.

The sudden arrival of global cooling in the US set tongues wagging…

Climate change is visible mostly at the extremes of normal weather events. Without 1.7 deg. of warming, a minus 37C winter’s night in Minnesota could have been a chilly minus-38.7C. We don’t know! Next year, perhaps, the record 56C (133F) experienced in Iran last summer will be 57.7C, who knows? Generally, like boiling frogs we mostly experience more gradual effects somewhere in the middle, where it’s easier not to notice.

The cold air mass has penetrated so far south this winter because warming oceans are weakening the jetstreams, which are broken and loopy and no longer function to keep cold air penned up in the Arctic. This winter in the northern hemisphere too we have a strengthening La Niña effect, for the second year running, moving the warmer waters northwards, prolonging the ice melt season and displacing the colder, fresher water.

At the same time as the cold has penetrated far southwards, Alaska, to the far north of both America and Canada, is experiencing record warmth, with temperatures up to 20C above normal for the time of year. Unusual dry heat and wind are continuing to create a risk of wildfires in California, long beyond the usual season. The Arctic ocean, too, is showing around 8 deg. C of warming.

These anomalies are a cause for alarm, rather than for lamebrained internet trolling about snow in December.

The fatuous oaf, Trump does not mention that; or that it is unusually hot in parts of Australia – again. Nor does he understand that his well-funded lies have an effect on gullible Americans and will undoubtedly lead them to catastrophe if he doesn’t stop.

(Of course, many Americans are fervently praying for the end of the world, as they are longing to meet Jesus. The Rapture can’t come soon enough for them. The Pumpkin however doesn’t see why my children should suffer to encourage the suicidal delusions of credulous backwoods baboons in Arkansas. I’ll back my Enlightenment over theirs anyday.)

They already know the truth so why are you lying?

There is ample evidence that the earth’s temperature is warming faster than any effect of natural background heating can explain. Even the powerful oil and gas conglomerate, Exxon-Mobil, accepts this and urges – unenthusiastically – governments to take action.

Exxon has known for over forty years that there was a problem with continuing to burn its products, but tried to keep a lid on it, as an academic research project paid for by the Los Angeles Times comparing Exxon’s internal and external communications revealed back in July.

Here is what Exxon now say on their own corporate website:

“The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action. Increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere are having a warming effect. There is a broad scientific and policy consensus that action must be taken…” – Exxon-Mobil website

Suck on that, Trump.

And if you want further reassurance:

“Significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000, and these could bring about climatic changes. […] there seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe. […] pollutants which we generally ignore because they have little local effect, CO2 and submicron particles, may be the cause of serious world-wide environmental changes.”

That’s from an American Petroleum Institute report, commissioned in 1968. While astonishingly, physicist Edward Teller, the ‘father of the atomic bomb’, had lectured the Institute 9 years earlier on the problem with CO2, saying presciently:

“At present the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen by 2 per cent over normal. By 1970, it will be perhaps 4 per cent, by 1980, 8 per cent, by 1990, 16 per cent [about 360 parts per million by his reckoning). …if we keep on with our exponential rise in the use of purely conventional fuels … our planet will get a little warmer. It is hard to say whether it will be 2 degrees Fahrenheit or only one or 5”

That, he calculated, would be enough to start melting the polar ice caps, with the ultimate effect of drowning New York. Read the full story of the release of papers:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/jan/01/on-its-hundredth-birthday-in-1959-edward-teller-warned-the-oil-industry-about-global-warming

For President Trump to be the principal spokesman for a now totally discredited campaign to deny these facts and to refuse to take action to mitigate them for the safety and security of the American public is, or should be, a criminal act for which he most certainly ought to be impeached.

Is persistently lying to the American people about a major threat facing the country not sufficient of an impeachable ‘Misdemeanour’ at least?

A Chinese hoax? Don’t think so!

The risk of global warming as a result of human industry releasing excess carbon dioxide (CO2) and other ‘greenhouse’ gases was known about even before the API report, certainly in the 1890s. Much of the CO2 released from burning billions of tonnes of coal each year during the early C20th is still in the atmosphere. It can persist for a thousand years, transferring heat to land and sea. Does Trump really see sense in putting out more, while lying that to do so is creating “millions of jobs”?

2017 wildfires in the US destroyed entire communities and burned 10 million acres. 44 people died. Trump has yet to visit the devastated areas: California did not vote for him.

It would have to be some hoax to have run on this long without apparent purpose or outcome, and to have convinced so many tens of thousands of unsuspecting scientists with PhDs over all that time of something that cannot be demonstrated experimentally to be true, namely that greenhouse gas emissions are not warming the planet.

(It is not logical to believe you can fill a bath and then piss in it without the water turning yellow, even if some does go down the overflow pipe.)

Founded only in 1947, modern China did not begin to industrialize until the 1970s, so the idea that Chinese “scientists” created a hoax at the height of the Boxer rebellions for the purpose of gaining global economic dominance is clearly absurd. Trump fails to explain how pretending the world is warming dangerously would help to achieve China’s foreign policy objectives in the 1890s?

In any case, being so dependent on coal for so long, China has suffered more than most from the problems of global warming and is doing more than most at greater cost and speed than most to try to mitigate the effects.

Mr Chump conveniently ignores that the credit for discovering in 1889 that CO2 is a greenhouse gas – i.e. it stores heat over and above the background temperature of the other atmospheric gases, oxygen and nitrogen – has already gone to a Swedish chemist, Svante Arrhenius.

So it’s a Swedish hoax to rule the world?

Saving you $trillions? No, but costing you $billions

“2017 has been the joint-costliest year for extreme weather events in US history”

No-one is asking the USA to pay anything!

  • The Paris Accord does not place financial targets or obligations on signatory nations, who following the accession of Syria to the treaty last July now include every country in the world – except Trump’s laughably isolated America.
  • The evidence is that the move to renewables can be equally profitable for the energy industry, employment and the economy.

“They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round…” It appears the moron-in-chief couldn’t be bothered to read or understand the Paris document, which is only 30-odd pages, before making a pariah state of his country.

Alternative energy sources to coal, oil and gas – wind and solar power generation – are now demonstrably cheaper even than nuclear, and require much smaller federal subsidies. To promote fossil fuels as Trump does is unnecessarily costing the nation, if not trillions of dollars, certainly billions. But it does inflate the profits of global corporations to whom he is beholden for the coup that brought him to power. Nor does Trump appear to understand that going hell-for-leather to pump American energy into the world market is depressing the price and hence, causing jobs in the energy sector to vanish like leaves in the Fall. He’s an idiot, but you voted for him! (Well, probably not you personally.)

As for the price of mitigating their environmental and climatic impacts, 2017 has been the joint-costliest year for extreme weather events in US history (the tie being 2011 – Katrina). It has been the third hottest year in the record-book, according to NASA, by about one-twelfth of a degree behind 2016, but the hottest ever to occur in a year without an El Niño event (they’re warmer) – and despite the cold weather this week in the eastern US may still catch up to it. Fifteen of the hottest years in recorded history have occurred in the last 17 years. It’s not coincidence.

And every degree increase in temperature increases the energy of storm systems, the height clouds reach (precipitating hail) and the amount of water they can hold (by about 7%). Stalled by rogue jetstream winds over Texas, Hurricane Harvey dumped more than five feet of rain on Nederland, near Port Arthur, in 72 hours last August. Later in October, five feet of hail fell on the city of Cordoba, in Argentina, reportedly in just 15 minutes…

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September, the death toll in the US territory of Puerto Rico may have risen to more than 1,000. The authorities admit they don’t know how properly to count the victims. Three months after, despite Chump crowing about his great success tackling the aftermath: notoriously chucking paper towels at the survivors, blaming the victims for being lazy and praising the turnout on his arrival, 36% of homes were still without power at Christmas and many survivors still homeless. Several Caribbean islands were devastated in 2017, Barbuda being rendered possibly permanently uninhabitable.

This scene in Jamaica in November was repeated endlessly around the world in 2017.

Many new records were set in 2017 for rainfall, snowfall, floods, heat, drought and wildfires. Even Greenland suffered a wildfire in August that burned for two weeks over 3 thousand acres. Prolonged dry, hot conditions promoted record wildfires over millions of acres in Canada and Siberia, and in West Africa. In September, 1,050 people died in a landslide in Sierra Leone after torrential rain fell over several days. Up until December, 187 records had been broken in the USA for hottest cities, while only 17 had been set for the coldest.

The UK’s Meteorological Office survey recorded that the six winter months of 2016-17 had been 2 deg C above the 1981-2011 winter average. Disappointingly, however, 2017 was only Britain’s 5th hottest year since 1910; possibly owing to the weakening of the Gulf Stream current. The Boglington Post reported in April on a visible CO2-induced increase in biomass in the local area. The Arctic News survey announced that daily surface temperatures off the coast of Svalbard island, the northernmost settlement in the world, measured during the month of October/November 2017 had continuously exceeded the October/November average for all the years between 1981 and 2011 by 13.9 deg. C.

These changes have consequences, not least that they promote through what are known as positive feedback loops, greater and faster warming. Just one example, it was explained this year that warmer soils create a more conducive environment for bacteria to speed up their breeding cycles. The increase in bacterial population produces a greater quantity of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, further warming the soil.

Dozens of these feedbacks are known about, and many are already irreversible; such as the increase of methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas with up to 100-times more latency than CO2, from warming Arctic permafrost; the lowered albedo (hence increased heat absorption) of Arctic and Antarctic melt-ponds; the release of CO2 and the inhibition of further uptake caused by wildfires – not to mention the depositing of heat-absorbing soot particles from fires on distant sea-ice and glaciers.

Ottawa University’s Paul Beckwith identified the fragmentation, and the unprecedented crossing of the equator by broken segments of the northern jetstreams (upper-atmospheric winds) last July, merging with the broader southern jetstreams, bringing unpredictable chaos to the world’s weather systems. Abnormal was becoming the new normal. A kick in the tail, a fairly normal SW Pacific typhoon season ended unexpectedly with a blow that killed 25o people in the Philippines. “A-68”, a trillion-tonne iceberg the size of Cyprus, tantalizingly broke off from the Larsen-C ice shelf in Antarctica and floated away, spawning “small bergy bits” – some up to 10 sq km in area.

Take a breather

“Your bogus, braggadocious and bought opinions are not worth a fart in a candle-flame.”

After a recession-induced pause, CO2 emissions started to climb again in 2017, showing a 2% increase over 2016. Global CO2 is now concentrated at 405-410 parts per million – pre-industrial (mid-C18th) CO2 has been estimated as 285 ppm. Regions affected by wildfires such as Southern California in December registered as high as 922 ppm. At about 570 ppm, we can expect a geopolitically destabilizing and potentially unsurvivable 5 deg. of warming not seen in the fossil record. While most predictions push the extinction event away to 2050 and beyond, ‘the turn of the century’, some climate scientists are predicting we could be there in as little as eight years from now.

In 2017, the Trump administration made strenuous attempts to censor the science, removing advice on climate change from their websites. All of the federal agencies responsible for environmental research and management, parks and agriculture were headed by climate-change deniers without scientific qualifications. Around 700 government scientists left their posts and were not replaced. Protections capping emissions and protecting waterways were removed. In June, Trump announced the US’s intention to pull out of the Paris accord, the only country now not signed up to it. The US delegation to the Bonn climate conference consisted entirely of executives from the energy industries, who gave a presentation on the benefits of “clean coal”.

In a speech in West Virginia, Trump made it evident that he thinks “clean coal” is coal that has been washed before burning.

Fanned by unseasonal Santa Ana desert winds, the flames of the Thomas fire in Ventura County, the biggest in California’s history, were visible mid-December from the international space station. 1800 homes were destroyed, tens of thousands driven from their homes. Tragically, many horses did not survive. A month earlier, the vineyards of the Napa Valley were decimated and over 40 people killed as wildfires swept through parts of northern California, destroying whole suburbs of the city of Santa Rosa. Cities all up and down the west coast became smokelogged. Rainy Seattle enjoyed a record drought, chilly Portland posted record heat, while over the border fires destroyed over 2 million acres of British Columbia.

Fox59’s graphic explaining what Trump doesn’t know. Climatologist Paul Beckwith identified the unusual turbulence of the northern jetstreams last summer.

Cereal production in the US was down 15% in 2017. 25% of the country is officially in drought conditions. Agricultural production is failing all over the globe – crops in Southern Europe were reduced by drought and record heat this year by around 60%, winter floods led to a Europe-wide shortage of Spanish salad vegetables; while millions of acres of crops were destroyed by excessive monsoon flooding in India and China. Hundreds of people drowned or were buried in mudslides; millions displaced.

While other areas may be brought into cultivation, the amount of new land available for growing crops is shrinking fast, in competition with non-food agricultural production imposed by multinational corporations. The onward march of deforestation in the Amazon was resumed. Meanwhile, overexploited and undernourished, soils around the world are rapidly degrading and becoming less productive. Several papers reported finding that key food crops have a limit to their tolerance of CO2, after which their nutritional content rapidly declines.

There is a growing threat to the food security of all of us as a result of a warming climate changing weather patterns and intensities.

In October, 14 elderly people were drowned in the suburbs of Athens as a ‘Med-icane’ hit Greece. Most of southern Europe endured a gruelling, 110 deg. F. heatwave that even earned a name: Lucifer. Temperatures in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan regularly topped 120 deg. F. By November, the Arabian peninsula was hit by widespread flooding. Massive ice storms bombarded Spain, Turkey, Russia, South Africa, central America, Australia. The Iberian peninsula was ravaged by drought and wildfires; in June, 64 people burned to death in central Portugal; in September, another 49 died in the north. By November, it was snowing. Lingering high-pressure systems allowed vast smogs to build up, over China in January, in India in November. Thousands died from respiratory complaints: the World Bank estimates as many as 2 million extra deaths worldwide. In New Delhi, toxic particulates exceeded WHO limits by a factor of 18.

But you carry on, O Great Orange Asshole. Carry on lying to yourself, deceiving your people, encouraging a climate of blissful ignorance and brute stupidity for the enrichment of your party’s corrupt and greedy corporate backers. It won’t last.

Your bogus, braggadocious and bought opinions are not worth a fart in a candle-flame, Trump. At 32% approval (AP, Qinnipiac) you’re already considered by Americans to be the worst President in polling history: 52% think your embarrassingly inept first year in office has been bad for the nation, making it less great. Your staff turnover rate is running at 34%… even the people who work for you, hate you; your former confidant, Mr Bannon, whom you now lie (as your former Chief Strategy Adviser) had nothing whatever to do with your government or your election ‘success’, has turned against you.

Unofficially, it’s been said, even your Secretary of State thinks you’re a “fuckin’ moron”; while your friend, Rupert Murdoch thinks you’re a “fuckin’ idiot”. Which is it?

Happy New Year, fuckin’ moron.

For a disturbing analysis of his foreign policy, such as it is (“a wrecking ball”) I can offer no better opinion than that of Susan Glasser, senior foreign policy analysis at Politico. Read it and be slightly more afraid:

@www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/02/donald-trump-foreign-policy-analysis-dangerous-216202?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_todayworld

Happy New Year, everyone. (Photo: Gideon Mendel)

USA/Canada: Storm Jonas brings even worse wintery conditions to east-coast states on New Year’s Eve, stretching from Florida (and even the Bahamas) to Labrador, with up to another 2 ft of snow on top of already record falls and a ‘brutally cold’ storm-force wind. 2018 is shaping up to be the worst winter experienced in the east for more than 50 years; maybe in 100. A ‘cyclone-bomb’ followed – Storm Grayson was one of the fastest-intensifying cyclones ever measured. ? 20 dead (5 Jan). Ireland and Britain are hit by 85 mph Storm Eleanor, gusting up to 100 mph, disrupting transport, closing bridges and bringing power outages across the country and on into northern Europe, where 3 people have been killed.  The video has probably gone viral, but in Newfoundland an exhausted wild moose had to be dug out of the snow, buried up to its head.

Material drawn from various sources of weather news previously credited. For a more credible scientific overview of 2017 visit:

http://www.wunderground.com/cat6/new-years-freeze-out-it-can-still-get-cold-even-warming-climate

 

Prof Simon Bell, Professor of Innovation and Methodology:

“The end of Project Fear. 2017 has seen a wave of populist responses to threat and anxiety – often promulgated and reinforced by social media manipulation. In 2018 there will be a push back against this … with empowering messages of holism and rational response to unstructured worry.”

Prof Monica Grady, Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences:

“Maybe a big meteorite will fall and rock civilisation to its foundations? Maybe the interstellar comet will come back and we’ll find that it is a spaceship full of aliens.”

From: BBC – Tomorrow’s World scientific predictions for 2018.

Good to see scientists in agreement for once…

 

May God strike them down and all their works

The BogPo InHuman Awards, 2018:

 

5 Mark Regev, Israeli ambassador to Britain

At the risk of being branded an antisemite, which if he reads this I shall be, since he does it to everyone who criticizes his paymasters, Regev has been the chief apologist for the worst crimes of the apartheid Likud regime in Tel Aviv (now renamed Jerusalem) and after threatening and bullying the BBC for years was rewarded in 2016 with the ambassadorship. Whereupon this Aussie migrant, who changed his name from Freiberg, abused his position in 2017 to bully the authorities into, essentially, no-platforming a Holocaust survivor invited to speak at Manchester university, on the grounds that she supports the rights of Palestinians to equal treatment and likens Likud to the Nazis; while demanding total editorial control of the conference. Arrogant little fascist, basically.

4 Nigel Farage, architect of Brexit ( a wobbly edifice)

Late in 2017, Farage confirmed he would be accepting his £70 thousand a year pension from the European Parliament, where he has been a UK MEP for a number of years, whilst sworn to destroy the very institution that employs him on a handsome salary and glamorous expenses. Employed too as a gobby rightwing talkshow host on a local radio station mainly for elderly London cabbies, Farage is for some reason almost a permanent BBC panellist who continues through sheer force of his obnoxious personality to dominate the fractious debate over how Britain is to leave the EU, a problem the combined forces of the government and the civil service have no solution to, other than to walk away and destroy the British economy for a generation. Yarp, yarp, yarp, could he shut the fuck up for once?

3 Global capitalism, a cancer on the face of the earth

Global capitalism has delivered unparallelled, not to say obscene wealth for the few, short-term relief from absolute poverty for the many, nothing for the hated middle-class and an iPhone or Google Android spy device in every pocket. It has taken political power through subverting democracy and the primacy of the individual. It is about to deliver the unprecedented miracle of universal redundancy conferred on people by AI, 3D printing and robotics, but has no answers to the socio-economic implications of its technological developments. One interesting example of the operation of global capitalism: we have known for two decades that antibiotic resistance will soon be killing millions, yet the pharmaceutical companies obeying the dictates of shareholder greed see no financial benefit in researching new drugs to combat infectious disease ahead of diet pills and antidepressants, so none exist. Amoral genocide.

2 Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America

No human being in the history of the world has been so criticized, analyzed, abused, insulted and dismissed, with good reason – yet Trump is so thick-skinned, it’s all been water off a duck’s back… Seriously, he doesn’t know it! There he sits, putting on his Mussolini face for the cameras, guzzling Diet Coke and MacDonalds’ fishburgers, the least popular President in the history of polling, under investigation by the FBI for multiple crimes, glued to admiring cable news reports and screaming abuse at his acolytes, having to be fed predigested cartoon security briefings, firing off childishly vindictive tweets at 4 a.m., golfing in Florida three days a week; believing he is the greatest US President in history because he orders his kow-towing minions constantly to tell him so… What a dick!

A senile tyrant with untreated Attention Deficit Disorder, a spoilt and profoundly ignorant, narcissistic old thug to whom no-one has ever dared to say no – a climate-change-denying threat to the planet, armed with nuclear weapons, that he has publicly wondered why we don’t use more often? Where to start? By voting him only second worst InHuman of the year!

1 Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Chief Counsellor of Myanmar

BogPo InHuman Award, 2018 WINNER

Suu Kyi – British-educated, Nobel peace prizewinning daughter of the great liberator of Burma (from British rule) – was once the darling of the Oxford set. How we libtards all wept when, a prisoner of the military regime, after years of house arrest, smuggling out messages of hope, laden with honors, her British husband Michael Aris was dying of cancer and she wasn’t allowed to visit him or go to his funeral. Known as ‘The Lady’, this fragrant, aristocratic midget has presided in 2017 without a qualm over the ‘final solution’ genocide of her country’s persecuted and disinstated Muslim minority: mass rape, child murder, arbitrary executions, village-burnings, mass expulsions (through minefields) and more; nothing the military is doing has been too awful to touch her hardened little Buddhist soul – added to which, she refuses to acknowledge that it is happening, or that those poor bastards ever existed.

Wizened, hypocritical, lying old racist cunt, the BogPo says she goes down in ’18. Lock her up (again)!