Turning up the heat… Nature notes… GW: Don’t know why, there’s the sun up in the sky… Fun with methane.

Quote of the Week

“Even animals that are hated by many people deserve respect.” – Michael Sehr, animal rescue volunteer, after several people including local firemen managed to extract an overweight brown rat stuck in a sewer cover in Bensheim, Germany. The animal was later released unharmed.

A fat rat stuck in a sewer grate in Germany. It took about eight firefighters and an animal expert to rescue the rodent from the drain.

“So you wanna know if Trump colluded?” (Photo: Berufstierrettung Rhein Neckar)

 

“Who knew the end of the world would, at least for now, be so agreeable?”

Turning up the heat…

Saturday afternoon, the winter sun was smiling down over the thundering main road outside, beyond the little front patio, and it was getting hotter. But how hot?

I’d long been pondering buying one of those digital weather stations, that tells you everything you need to know, but felt a bit of a nerd. Who actually needs an anemometer in the garden? It’s windy or not! And you could usually tell it was raining, surely, and how much – as the water collected in the scattered pots and buckets in the untended garden, er, tended to show.

But I felt I could safely draw a red line just north of a max-min gardeners’ thermometer. And eventually on Saturday, prompted by the unusually fine weather, I remembered I’d been thinking for some years about acquiring one, and decided to slip out between the two vital rugby matches on TV to do a quick shop.

Wandering around the garden section of the DIY emporium, peering at things, I was gratified eventually to find a digital model, whose large black numerals I could easily read without glasses through the sitting-room window.

Despite two emergency surgeries, the damage to my eye from last year’s retinal detachments is permanent: I’ve described it as like looking through the bottom of a thick glass beer-mug. In my right eye, I’ve been left with very short, uncorrectably fixed focus, which at nine inches gives only a distorted impression of the world, with an annoying blind spot in the middle; although if I had to, with the one ‘bad’ eye I could just about grope my way around.

My ‘good’, left eye, by contrast, is very long-sighted. It can easily count the little matchstick figures of tourists as they break the skyline on top of the far hill opposite, trudging up the steep path to the monument over a mile distant.

Making out the lettering on the packets of stuff in the garden section, however, at a distance of perhaps three or four feet turns me into one of those elderly people who are always putting on and taking off their glasses, peering at mundane things as if they were precious museum relics.

I mention this only because it led to one of those daffy mix-ups the elderly have to brush off on an almost daily basis, pretending that we have become unembarrassable in our old age.

Because, when I got it home and inserted battery supplied, nothing happened. The big black numerals remained insistent that it was currently 39 degrees, which would have been a British record at any time of the year or century; while the previous max and min were stuck at 34C. Neither the reset button nor the convert to F button were working either.

A change of battery made no difference. They had clearly sold me a dud. So on Sunday I took it back to the shop, where after staring at it thoughtfully for about five seconds, a patient and helpful assistant peeled off the protective layer of plastic on which the numerals 39C and 34C were printed, to reveal beneath, a fully working screen.

It hadn’t occurred to me that anyone might do that, stick fake numbers on the front for display purposes. It hadn’t occurred to me either to wonder how the numerals would have got stuck on 39C and 34C if there was no battery in the machine. And with my short-range vision unaided, well, Mr Magoo hadn’t noticed the otherwise clear plastic covering.

There, I’ve geri-splained, so you can stop laughing now.

Which is all by way of an amuse bouche, an anecdotal preamble to what I really wanted to tell you.

Because as Hunzi and I took the opportunity of a little walkies along the cycle path behind the DIY store, from where you can go down to the river, I was checking my now operational max-min thermometer at intervals along the way.

And I can tell you that, in the dappled shade under the trees, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, 24 FEBRUARY, an unscientific – nevertheless, fully digital – observation, on a line of latitude that would, if pursued across the Atlantic, take you some one hundred miles north of Toronto, Canada, via Gander, Newfoundland, here on the west coast of the UK it was…

22.9 degrees C; 73.2F.

And as the sun beats down outside, in a hazy but cloudless sky, on the following day, Monday morning in Wales at exactly 11.25 a.m., under the large Photinia ‘Red Robin’, my new max-min thermometer is telling me it’s already an improbable 23.9C, 75.2F.

I’m hoping it’s defective, because this is insane. While out in the valley, catkins are bursting open on the willows, cow-parsley and celandine springing up everywhere and trees coming into leaf; on the beach, half-term families are picnicking and sunbathing and even paddling. In February.

Who knew the end of the world would, at least for now, be so agreeable?

Postscriptum: Huzzah! We made the news. Just up the road from Boglington a new British winter heat record was set today, of 20.6C. That’s with the official Met Office thermometer, which to be on the safe side always reads cooler than the actual temperature as measured by thousands of old gardeny folk like me, weather gnomes with our dodgy waterworks and our dodgy kit. Probably.

A thought: It occurs to me to wonder. Given that we are having problems with the world getting hotter, why does the Met Office insist that records have to be set – only in the shade? It’s the sunshine that’s killing us, not the shade! At least record the max and the min at any one time, shade and full sun, so we can see how hot it really is getting. And for the record book, if you must, take the midway-point. Shade-only temperature tells us nothing useful.

Nature notes

Tuesday: Two big, glossy rooks are having at my bird table, their wild, wary eyes darting around to check how threateningly I’m sitting here, typing. No wonder I keep having to fill the attached wire basket with those fatty bricks with fruit and seeds in them, yesterday’s is mostly gone. The thermometer affixed to the stem under the big Photinia is already showing 18.5C, it’s gained 2 degrees in the 20 minutes since 10 o’clock, and today’s sunshine is unimpeded by the thin layer of cirrhus cloud we had yesterday, blaring like a trumpet out of an azure sky.

Maybe another record is on the cards?

Wednesday: This morning’s Guardian bears images of a large and fierce brushfire that broke out yesterday over 1.5 sq km on Saddleworth Moor near Marsden in Yorkshire, curiously without even mentioning last year’s major peat fire on, er, Saddleworth Moor – which was closer to Manchester and notorious as the location of the burials of the victims of mass-child-murderer Ian Brady. Firefighters were also battling a smaller fire visible on Arthur’s Seat, an open space in the outskirts of Edinburgh; and two more in Sussex. (It’s February…)

Walking Hunzi at about noon here in our river valley on the edge of Boglington-on-Sea yesterday, I noticed that it appeared to be clouding over rapidly from the southwest, but soon after determined that the singular source of the cloud that now covered much of the town on an otherwise cloudless day must imply the existence of a fairly large brushfire. We drove to the highest point nearby but I could see only a huge column of smoke rising like a mushroom-cloud about ten miles away, beyond the next ridge; there was almost no wind and the broad valley inbetween was filled with smoke.

No-one else I spoke to had even noticed it. No-one ever looks up now at the sky.

A firefighter tackles the blaze on Saddleworth MoorA sunny day in February on Saddleworth Moor (apologies: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

GW: Don’t know why, there’s the sun up in the sky…

USA: Parts of Tennessee, especially Nashville, had their wettest ever February, with 3 days still on the calendar A state of emergency has been declared as rivers reach record highs. One man died at the weekend, driving into floodwater, and another was killed by a tornado. A Subway sandwich bar in Chattanooga was eaten by a landslide. It was closed at the time (Floodlist). 1 more person was killed and 71 injured in a 100-vehicle pileup in a whiteout blizzard in Wisconsin. (Accuweather)

Yet another winter storm, Ryan, is moving eastwards across the Rockies into the plains. Eugene, Oregon had 12-in. of snow (The Weather Channel). Life-threatening flooding and high winds are warned of in the Northeast as Winter Storm Quiana plays out. A freak 30-ft high wall of frozen chunks of foam has been pushed ashore from Lake Erie along the Niagara River Parkway at Buffalo, NY, blocking the highway. (Mail)

Updating that, another weather system to follow Ryan will be bringing yet more rain and snow through northern California, Oregon and Washington, with heavy snow over the mountains, and across into the already saturated great plains over the weekend. 1 person has already died in flash-flooding in Humboldt County as Venado in Sonoma County recorded “an incredible 20.48 inches” (520.19 mm) of rain in 48 hours to 27 Feb. How much more can Americans take? (The Weather Channel). Well….

Climate skeptic Donald Trump has appointed elderly Princeton physicist and general doofus, Prof. William J Happer to head a special White House panel on climate change to decide once and for all if it exists, in the light of the 1,400 page report by 300 actual scientists from the US administration, which warned only four months ago of the extreme need for urgency to tackle it. His verdict should be interesting: Happer has previously expressed a view that climatologists are an inferior species who don’t know what they’re talking about. But that’s okay, it’s your taxes the Big Galoot is pissing away (reports: various).

Canada: Extreme cold warnings are in place for an extended belt of provinces all along the US border, with windchill temperatures as low as -45F forecast. (Met Service of Canada).

Arctic: The Arctic is roasting this week, meteorologist Nick Humphrey writes in his Patreon blog. “Two separate Pacific storms moving into the Arctic, sending wide swaths of the Pacific side of the Arctic Ocean Basin to over 20C (36F) above normal. Not just very anomalous heat, but high wind and wave action hitting the thin sea ice in association with strong storms right out of the Pacific.” Prof Paul Beckwith in Ottawa is of the opinion that 80% of the cold air column in the Arctic has gone, spilled over into North America and Siberia.

Antarctic: “An iceberg (660 sq miles) roughly twice the size of New York City is set to break away from an Antarctic ice shelf as a result of a rapidly spreading rift that is being monitored by Nasa. The crack along part of the Brunt ice shelf in Antarctica first appeared in October 2016, according to Nasa. The crack is spreading to the east” (and having almost joined up with an older crack, is likely to complete within weeks). A “study found that melting of the ice sheet has accelerated threefold in the last five years.” (Guardian)

Angola: Heavy seasonal rain over the capital Luanda has left at least 4 dead and hundreds of homes destroyed. Rain fell from late 21 until 22 Feb., causing a bridge to collapse as well as destroying hundreds of homes. 4 people are thought to have died when houses collapsed. (Floodlist)

Indonesia: Dozens of houses have been destroyed by flash flooding in Papua New Guinea’s East New Britain province. Flooding has also damaged or blocked roads, leaving several communities isolated. 2 fatalities have been reported. (Floodlist)

Australia: Parts of Australia are expected to sizzle through a late summer heatwave this week. “Southern states and Victoria will get scorching weather in the coming days, while the northern part of the country sweats through ‘oppressive humidity’. Both Adelaide and Melbourne are forecast to hit up to 40C by the end of the week.” (Daily Mail). Wildfires are continuing to burn.

Mining giant RTZ has received a AU$2 million grant from the climate-change-denying Morrison government out of a fund set up by the previous administration to reduce fossil fuel carbon emissions, to bring a new diesel power plant online at a bauxite mine in Arnhemland, that they’ve already built. The “emissions reduction fund” has officially been renamed the “climate solutions policy” (Guardian).

Fiji: “Pola is currently a Category 3 severe tropical cyclone with winds equal to a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. Despite tracking farther from American Samoa and Samoa, bouts of heavy rain will affect the islands into Friday. Additional rainfall amounts of 150-300 mm (6-12 inches) are expected across the islands during this time.” (Accuweather)

Peru: Government reports that 51 people have been killed since the rainy season began in September 2018. 228 houses and 26 bridges have been destroyed and several roads blocked by torrential rain and landslides. Further heavy rain has affected several regions over the last few days, causing flooding and landslides in at least 5. (from Floodlist)

West Pacific: “…Wutip underwent rapid intensification on Saturday, topping out as a Category 4 supertyphoon with a central pressure of 925 mb and sustained winds of 155 mph. This makes Wutip the strongest tropical cyclone ever anywhere north of the equator in February (or since 1911?). The typhoon dumped 5–12” of rain over Guam Saturday afternoon, with another 3–5” expected.” (Wunderground). Despite only average sea surface temperature, Severe-weather.eu later has Wutip gaining Cat 5 strength – 161 mph sustained windspeed, gusting above 186 mph. Local media see it as drifting towards the Philippines at about 5 mph. There it has been renamed Betty. The last Typhoon Betty in 1989 killed 85 people.

China: Severe fog/smog warnings have been issued for large parts of the country, covering Hongzu province and Lianshui county. (WMO)

Europe: Warm, settled weather is expected to return to the British Isles during the week after setting a new winter record today, with 20.6C (68F) in the west of Wales; forecasters think it could go warmer (BBC). (Update: it hasn’t! Friday, we’re sitting under a wet and windy Atlantic front again.) The island of Crete, Greece, is bracing for more intense rain and flooding overnight, with totals of 250mm forecast through tomorrow. (Severe-weather.eu)

Update, 28 Feb: Crete experienced torrential rainfall and flooding for the second time in 7 days. A weather front, known locally as “Oceanis” brought heavy rain, hail and strong wind to the island from 23rd. 1 motorist died, making 5 dead for the month. Askifou in Chania had 596 mm of rain in 2 days between 23 and 25 Feb. and has now recorded 1,202mm of rain so far this month (to 26 Feb.), breaking the record for the highest monthly rainfall total in Europe. (From Floodlist)

Oceanis also affected parts of Malta, which saw winds up to 133km/h and waves up to 5 metres. The Times of Malta described the storm as “the worst since 1982”. Strong winds were also reported in parts of Croatia and Italy, where 7 deaths have been blamed on the storm, including four in Lazio, one in Campania and two in Sicily. One person is still missing in Sicily.

Yellowstone: “…was struck on Sunday by a magnitude 4.8 earthquake, the biggest recorded there since February 1980, but no damage or injuries were immediately reported. The tremor, a relatively light event by seismic standards, struck the northwest corner of the park and capped a flurry of smaller quakes at Yellowstone since Thursday, geologists at the University of Utah Seismograph Stations said in a statement.” (Scientific American. USGS says nothing to worry about… tens of thousands of years before the Big One.)

Steamboat geyser, biggest in the park, may have gone off for the 7th time this year (verification needed). The frequency is roughly every 7 days – readers will know that up to last year’s record of 32, the average was about 2 or 3 a year, if that. The huge M7.3 quake at the border between Peru and Ecuador at the weekend set the Yellowstone seismographs a’dancing, with much sympathetically rising magma. Yesterday saw a swarm of M1 and M2 quakes at very shallow depths around Clearlake, California; the previous day, a cluster at Green River, Wyoming, around the soda ash mines. Meanwhile, the even more disturbing, long-running swarm off the north California coast is creeping ashore. (Mary Greeley)

Temperature readings for the Madison River and other watercourses in the caldera climbed ten degrees F in one day, 27 Feb., according to the official graphs – despite the air temperature being below freezing. Firehole River recorded over 55F. (Mary Greeley)

Hawthorn tree, Boglington, 27 Feb. (Photo: BogPo)

Fun with methane

Methane is a word you can make from the letters of ‘the elephant in the room’.

The relationship of methane to carbon dioxide is a little more complicated, as it decays much more quickly in the atmosphere but while it persists is a much more potent retainer of solar heat, or producer of ‘radiative forcing’.

A greenhouse gas, in other words. And as it decays, it gives up its… carbon, which combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.

It also confusingly tends to be measured in parts per billon (ppb) rather than parts per million (ppm). Obviously, ‘n’ ppb is a thousand times’ weaker concentration than ‘n’ ppm.

Nevertheless, if anything is going to wipe us out fairly rapidly in the next few years it will be methane (CH4), rather than carbon dioxide (CO2). Because the CO2 is causing the warming that is releasing the CH4 to the air, in what is known as a ‘positive feedback loop’.

Methane gas is a product of decay: rotting vegetation, mainly. That’s why there is so much of it in the frozen lands around the Arctic circle and beneath where the sea rose during the current interglacial, about 12 thousand years ago, to form the shallow East Siberian Arctic Shelf.

There the methane has three ‘sinks’: in the so-called permafrost, the vast lands of tundra whose frozen peaty/spongy surface layer is up to 40 meters thick, that in many places is now rapidly thawing out. As it does so, it releases methane from the rotted vegetation – but also from fossil methane reserves from ancient forests trapped underneath, the second ‘sink’. This effect is increasingly visible bubbling from so-called ‘kaarst’ lakes in Canada and Siberia.

The third ‘sink’ contains methane that has been slowly outgassing from the seabed and then freezing, into clumps of what are called ‘clathrates’. The frozen methane, methane hydrate, is volatile and detectably emitting gas, although experts at Yale university have studied the phenomenon and are not convinced the warming of the shallow sea to date is sufficient to  vaporise the clathrates, as they tend to act rather like a Baked Alaska dessert, the outer layer of whipped eggwhite containing air bubbles acting as insulation to prevent the ice-cream center from melting before a meringue forms. (If only!)

Nevertheless it seems to be agreed that the Arctic alone possesses some 500 gigatonnes of methane reserves, just one per cent of which if emitted in a single event, a ‘methane burp’,  would be enough to force a further 1.6 degrees of global warming within weeks.

The rate of increase of atmospheric methane globally is both perturbing and puzzling scientists. Around 720 ppb in the mid-18th century, it’s now averaging over 1850 ppb worldwide.

The rate of increase has accelerated markedly over the past ten years. “Sam Carana”, the pseudonymous group of researchers at the Arctic News website, identified peaks in 2018 of over 3000 ppb.

But given that much of it seems to be coming from the tropics, and from the high Himalayas, as well as from the polar regions, no-one seems quite sure of the source.

Logic would suggest that scrub burning for cattle-grazing in the tropics and the removal of forest cover are exposing reserves locked-in the soil, retreating ice is uncovering ancient forest areas and thawing peatlands, while the excess heating of the poles is melting the permafrost and the submarine reserves, enabling the escape of fossil methane pockets beneath.

We also seem to be experiencing an upsurge in volcanism at present, that would produce additional CH4, CO2 and sulfur dioxide – SO2, another greenhouse problem.

But your Uncle Bogler is only an ancient Media Studies graduate giving off lots of methane himself, and must trust the experts who say they haven’t the faintest idea.

Just one more thing, while I’m scaring you.

Data from the Scripps Institute shows that, as CO2 and CH4 are increasing in the atmosphere there is, as my gasping lungs have been trying to tell me for the past three or four years, a corresponding loss of O2 – rather necessary oxygen – from the air; that I have described to skeptical friends as seeming less ‘nutricious’ than before.

And yes, GW is mostly man-made. Sorry, deniers, but we’re having eight times more effect on atmospheric CO2 heat-forcing than the small natural increase from solar output that happened before the current slide towards another 11-year cyclical minimum began.

Nor do polar shift, blood moons, solar eclipses or Nigel Farage have anything to do with it, okay?

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There has to be a reason… Will we hold them to this pledge?… Kick him out!… Can we trust economists?… GW: Sweep-up in Seattle… POZI-NEWS A great new feature accentuating the POZITIV!… School’s Out!

Quote of the Week

“The disconnection of Russia from the global web would mean that we are already at war with everyone. In this situation we should be thinking how to grow potatoes in a nuclear winter, and not about the internet.”

– Filipp Kulin, Russian internet expert, asked about a Kremlin plan to put up its own firewall around the internet, for “national security” reasons that are nothing to do with rising protests against Putin’s handling of the economy. (BBC, 12 Feb.)

donald trump

“And my doctor says I’m 35 feet tall and still only 239 pounds.”

Trump passes his medical with flying colors. (Photo Carlos Barría/Reuters)

There has to be a reason

“The secrecy imposed on the civil service is the second reason why, if trouble comes, it will appear to come from nowhere. The truth is that we have a hidden government, thinking the unthinkable in secret, not as an academic parlour game in which an idea is reduced to absurdity for intellectual pleasure, but as a means of stopping voters realising the scale of the trouble we may be facing.”

– Nick Cohen, writing in The Guardian, 11 Feb 2019.

Nick’s thesis is rather troubling. There has to be a reason why the government is quietly creating a new ministry employing five thousand supposedly temporary civil service volunteers at vast expense to the taxpayer, to manage the country on what looks suspiciously like a war footing.

They are being recruited now, to ensure stockpiles of food and medicine are distributed and rationed, with plans to chopper the Queen out of London, plans to commandeer trucks and warehouses and public transport and to put five thousand troops on the streets – possibly even to round up potentially violent dissidents – in the event of a no-deal exit from the EU at midnight on Friday, 29 March (“Piano Day”).

Saturday 30th, appropriately, being “Bipolar Day”; and Monday 1 April, of course, when people will get up, shake off their hangovers and go to work in the Brave New World of Britain as a vast global trading empire once more: “All Fools’ Day”.

Maybe it’s because the May cabinet genuinely expects the country to fall apart, with supermarkets looted, empty shelves, businesses shut down and rioters on the streets?

It seems inconceivable in this day and age.

For a start, few people really give a hoot about Brexit, they don’t have a clue what the fuss is all about, just that they don’t like the government’s hideously cruel and seemingly never-ending austerity program, although they go on voting for it.

They’re too busy going about their zero-hours “cog in a machine” jobs and trying to survive in the dog-eat-dog, app-driven modern world of Deliveroo and Uber Eats; of call-centres and fast-food outlets, of shelf-stacking and warehouse picking and packing, of Amazon deliveries and unpaid internships and temporary “teaching assistant” and “community policing” and agency cleaning and admin jobs where you can be fired for taking a day off sick.

That none of this growing fragility of our social institutions and the deskilling of work is the fault of the European Union is really quite meaningless to everyone other than policy nerds and the illiterate, piss-stained-sofa-dwelling fucktards of the far-left and the rabid-right – mostly the right – who post their irate, uninformed comments on media websites, as if they mattered.

Harking back to August 2011, and the “Tottenham riots” that spread over the course of a week to Birmingham and other cities, with the deaths of 5 people and much looting and arson, however, we recall that the single most proximate cause was the police shooting dead a black suspect in a planned ambush, who had already thrown away a gun that might or might not have been his.

That seems a somewhat more concrete casus belli than a possible decision to delay or abandon the lunacy of leaving the European Union on 29 March.

But the reason for the violence, later examined in detail by handwringing liberals in the media, was much the same as the reasons we keep hearing from the few more articulate Brexit-voters for why they delivered a slap to the government over the referendum: boarded-up white working-class communities left behind by globalization and immigration, disaffected with austerity and growing inequality, are fed up with well-padded politicians making remote decisions that make ordinary people worse-off; fed up with seeing the plethora of consumer goodies in shops, images of material success that they can’t afford.

So actually, the idea that riots might accompany a bad-deal Brexit may not be so far-fetched.

 

Will we hold them to this pledge?

In the wake of an urgent think-tank report slating politicians for failing to come up with any real policies for confronting multiple environmental threats coming thick and fast on top of impending climate disaster:

“A UK government spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to leaving our environment in a better state than we found it through our 25 Year Environment Plan and the forthcoming Environment Bill.

“‘Over 25 years we will replenish depleted soils, rid our seas and rivers of the rubbish trashing our planet, cut greenhouse gas emissions, cleanse our air of toxic pollutants, and develop cleaner, more sustainable energy sources.

“‘The Environment Bill will also create a new environmental body, the Office for Environmental Protection, to hold us to account on this commitment’.” (BBC Environment)

The BogPo replies: “Seeing is believing”. Especially the bit about replenishing depleted soils, as it takes around 300 years to create a microgram of new soil.

And we don’t have 25 years, sorry.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47203344

 

Trump has the media exactly where he wants them

Kick him out!

“A BBC cameraman was violently shoved and abused during a Donald Trump rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night, in an incident the corporation described as ‘unacceptable’.

Ron Skeans “recovered to film a man in a red Make America Great Again cap being restrained and shouting: ‘Fuck the media.’ As he was led away some in the crowd at the rally could be heard chanting: ‘Let him go.'”

Good. Maybe now the BBC’s apathetic “North America Editor”, John Supine will stop normalizing and apologizing for this demented old showboater in the White House.

Even with this report of what has become a fairly humdrum assault on journalists covering Trump’s Nazi rallies, his rapturous, chanting dumbfucks doing their Saviour’s bidding, the BBC admits only that he has a fairly “strained” relationship with the media.

He doesn’t.

Trump is and has knowingly for decades been a creature of the media. In turn, he ruthlessly exploits the media’s obsession with his every fart and grunt, his every cheeseburger dream, to keep himself in the limelight.

He knows that the more he insults and mocks and chastizes them, the harder the editors think they have to try to please, and the less likely his increasingly abusive, baying fascist “base” is to believe a word anyone says against him; especially Mueller.

His relentless self-publicizing and abusive personal put-downs of even the mildest critics have but one aim: to impress the image of a successful business tycoon, which he has never been, on potential victims of his family’s scams.

These tend to be sleazy minor criminals and corrupt officials skirting the law in “developing nations”, easily impressed by Trump’s tawdry glitz and glitter. Easy marks, ready and willing to be led by the nose into improbable real estate developments involving multi-million-dollar licensing and merchandizing contracts, generally disasters from which only the Trumps walk away richer. (According to media sources.)

Trump has the media exactly where he wants them: by their tiny, fluffy little balls, which (like Eleanor Rigby and her “face”) he keeps in a jar by the door.

“Enemies of the People” they may be. Friends to Trump they surely are.

 

Can we trust economists?

Best practice

Warehouseman Mr Jeff Hayward from Clitheroe in Lancashire has won his appeal at the fifth attempt against an employability tribunal decision that, despite letters from two doctors stating he was unable to walk 50 meters, he was so obviously fit for work that he merited zero disability points.

Sadly, Mr Hayward was unable to celebrate his victory, as he died seven months ago. A Department of Work and Pensions spokesperson expressed their regrets to the family over the time taken to reach a decision, but offered them some cheery news – at least they’ll get the back-payments. (Guardian)

 

Feurquières tous!

The mayor of a town in northern France has issued a ban on excessive dog barking in a bid to curb canine noise pollution, that he says has created an unbearable situation. Dog owners in Feurquières face a €68 (£60; $77) fine for “prolonged or repeated barking”.

One woman’s dogs in particular have apparently been the cause of numerous complaints. Animal rights groups are protesting. (Guardian) The BogPo however wonders why the French mayor has calculated the fine in Euro to come out as an exactly round number in UK pounds?

Are we maybe talking Englishwoman here?

 

GW: Sweep-up in Seattle

USA: One of the more potent storms of the winter, Nadia will hit California with heavy rain, excessive high country snow and gusty winds through Thursday night (13 Feb.). The worst of the storm is forecast to focus on Central and Northern California with a heightened threat of flooding, mudslides, erosion, power outages and avalanches and road-closing snowfall in the mountains. Several inches of rain will fall on the lower and intermediate slopes of the mountains.” (Accuweather, who are forecasting 3-6 FEET more snow in the Sierra Nevada.)

Storm Maya brought up to 5 feet of snow in Washington State at the weekend. “… more than 80,000 Washington customers were without power Saturday afternoon after nearly a year’s worth of snow fell in a single day in the Seattle area.” (Wunderground) “Severe weather is expected to stretch from coast to coast Tuesday (12 Feb.), with about 100 million people under some sort of winter alert, millions facing a flood threat and more snow on the way in Seattle. Widespread rain Tuesday will continue to soak the Ohio Valley, from Arkansas to Ohio. As much as 4 inches could fall. More than 55 million people are under a flood warning, flood advisory, flash flood watch or flash flood warning across the country.” (CNN) It also snowed, unusually, in Hawaii, where a wind gust was measured at 191 mph and several houses lost their roofs.

A brief heatwave in central Texas this weekend is likely to lift February temperatures into the 90sF, mid-30s C, an all-time record, before yet another storm system sails in from the Pacific and intense rainfall returns to the midwestern states, with more flooding forecast for the middle of the week. (The Weather Channel)

Europe: 3 German skiers and 2 ski patrollers have been killed over the weekend in the Alps. Another patroller is missing. An accident in France and an avalanche in the Austrian Alps brings the number of weather-related deaths in Europe this month to 26 as heavy snow continues to paralyse parts of the continent. (Independent) Meanwhile, most of Europe will bask this week in Spring-like weather. (Severe-weather.eu) Indeed, just north of sunny Boglington, the mercury hit 17C yesterday (62F) (15 Feb.).

Indonesia: “As many as 4” people have died in flooding in West Java, Indonesia, after heavy rain that began on 7 Feb. “A disaster agency spokesperson said that the overflowing Cinambo River caused a dam to break, flooding areas in the Cilengkrang district.” (Floodlist)

Saudi Arabia: Amber warnings have been issued for more heavy rainfall, after 2 people died near Madinah on 9 Feb. More than 100 people were rescued from vehicles stuck in flooded wadis. (Floodlist)

Malawi: 8 days of continuous heavy rain between 18-24 January caused extensive flooding, evacuations and damage to property in central and southern regions. (Late report from Floodlist)

Brazil: Strong winds, torrential rain, flash flooding and landslides caused havoc in the municipality of Rio de Janeiro, 6-7 Feb. 90mm (4-in.) rain fell in just one hour. Officials said that some areas recorded more than the February average rainfall in just a few hours. Wind gusts of around 110 km/h were also recorded. (Floodlist)

Peru: “As many as 10 people have died after heavy rain, flooding and landslides since 07 Feb. President Martin Vizcarra said on 11 Feb. that 8,000 people have been affected and 1,800 made homeless. Flooding and landslides have damaged or destroyed bridges, roads, homes, health centres and schools.” And there’s more flooding in Ecuador. (Floodlist)

Australia: 1 person has died and several are in intensive care, infected with Melioidosis, a soil bacterium apparently released by the recent record floods affecting Queensland. A report from CNN notes that the Flinders river has gone from a trickle to 27 miles wide – so vast a flood that it is believed to have generated a thunderstorm. Huge volumes of soil can be seen from space, washing into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Russia: “Residents of a coalmining region in Siberia have been posting videos online showing entire streets and districts covered in toxic black snow. The scenes in the footage were described as “post-apocalyptic” by Russian media.

Black stalactites hang from trees in the Kemerevo region of Siberia. The snow is black because it binds with coal dust as it falls. (Siberian Times)

“The coal dust that turns the snow black in the Kuzbass comes from numerous open pit mines that environmental activists say have had disastrous consequences for the health of the region’s 2.6 million people. … Officials in Mysky, a town in the region, were mocked recently for painting black snow white.” (Guardian Green Light report, 15 Feb.)

Two cyclones colliding over Norilsk in Eastern Siberia earlier in the week produced up to 4 meters of snowfall. But at least it was warmer – temperatures rose to -11C. (Siberian Times)

World: The oceans are warming fast.

  • “The year 2018 passed the previous record set just the year before, in 2017; the top five years of ocean heat have come in the last five years. Last year continues a startling trend of global ocean warming that is a direct result of humans’ warming of the planet.” (CNN, from journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences). Prof. Paul Beckwith reports – the land is now warming three times faster than the sea, which until recently had absorbed over 90% of all the atmospheric warming caused by CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
  • “In the extreme, environmental breakdown could trigger catastrophic breakdown of human systems, driving a rapid process of ‘runaway collapse’ in which economic, social and political shocks cascade through the globally linked system – in much the same way as occurred in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2007-08.” The warning comes in a paper from UK thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research.
  • “CO₂ levels just reached another record high. On February 9, 2019, an average daily CO₂ level of 414.27 ppm was recorded at Mauna Loa, Hawaii.” Global CO2 level normally peaks in March/April. (Arctic News)
  • Atlantic hurricanes showed “highly unusual” upward trends in rapid intensification rates during the period 1982 – 2009 that can only be explained by including human-caused climate change as a contributing cause, according to research published last week in Nature Communications. Hurricane Maria (2017) for instance intensified by 70 mph in just 24 hours.
  • A new study is causing worries for electric car smuggies, who may lose up to 40% of their cruising range in cold weather. Fights are being reported in the lines for recharging cars at scarce charging points.

Yellowstone: the rising magma column – 300 miles long and containing enough molten material to fill the Grand Canyon 11 times over, with a core temperature measured at 2,500 F, – is now being “intensely monitored” by USGS geologists and vulcanologists. Ground heating, earthquake swarms continuing. (Mary Greeley)

 

POZI-NEWS

A great new feature accentuating the POZITIV!

By a margin of 92 to 8, “Joshua Tree and Death Valley national parks are to be enlarged, and stunning river landscapes in California and Utah will be protected, under new legislation that passed the US Senate on Tuesday. In all, the public lands package sets aside more than a million acres of new wilderness and conservation areas in western states. … The bill will go to the Democrat-controlled House next, where it’s likely to pass, and then to the president’s desk.” (Guardian, 14 Feb.)

Where it will hopefully cause the ecocidal vandal Trump to choke to death on his fucking cheeseburger.

The “very stable genius” has been frantically trying to reduce the size of protected national monument lands and encourage more fracking and opencast mining while permitting slurry runoff from mines and agricultural poisons to pollute the rivers on behalf of his pal David Murray of Murray Energy, a multi-billionaire “coal baron” and one of his biggest donors,

Mr Murray reportedly backhanded several million dollars to Trump’s highly controversial $107m Inaugural Fund, AFTER the Inauguration ceremonies were over, from which a vast amount of money appears to have gone missing without explanation, in exchange for a “wish list” which Mr Trump on assuming office immediately set about using Executive Orders to grant.

Both men have quite openly admitted without a trace of shame that, for example, Trump’s order to the Tennessee Valley Authority to reverse a decision to switch its energy supply away from a Murray Energy coalmine into renewables was as a direct result of David Murray’s paying him money.

A bribe, in other words.

And so extensive is Trump’s gluey web of corruption, fantasy and deceit, nobody even cares anymore.

 

School’s Out!

A protester on a school climate strike march in Sydney, Australia.

Schoolchildren in 60 areas of Britain were apparently striking today (15 Feb.) in sympathy with the expanding global movement begun by the scary-looking 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, from Sweden, to bring government attention back from the Brexit farrago to the very real environmental threats the rising generation are going to have to deal with, since we won’t.

You might not know this, reading the BBC’s coverage, which is a day out of date. However, on a POZITIV note, the Nailsea Comprehensive school/Oxford/Harvard-educated Claire Perry, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – who in your Old Uncle’s view should become our next Prime Minister – went on the Today programme this morning …

And smack in the face of the smug, middle-class (w)anchor Justin Webb, who has been tutting his disapproval all week, actually SUPPORTED the strike!

But you won’t read about that on the BBC News website. It would cause a revolution.

The Pumpkin – Issue 75: A Master of Evasion… Her justice rewards… GW: Up and down on the great weather rollercoaster…

“Trump, eternally the great mob boss, never forgets nor forgives.”

A Master of Evasion

“So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post. Hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better & more responsible hands!”

This is the petty, vindictive little playground bully at his finest, the half-fuckwit, half-fatberg America inadvertently elected as its President in 2016. (The funniest insult of it being to call the putrid, conspiracy-theory-mongering supermarket gossip-sheet The National Enquirer a “competitor” to the internationally respected Post!) The tweet needs to be read with that slimy, slug-trail voice and a hint of narcissistic triumphalism.

The story of the feud between Trump and the enviably far richer Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and “world’s richest man” (if you don’t count Vladimir Putin, who may be at least twice as rich), is ably told by Washington reporter Ben Jacobs in today’s Guardian (8 Feb.)

Essentially, Mr Bezos owns the Post, a newspaper Mr Trump has happily co-operated with – and vice versa – in the past, but which now aggrieves him by doing snippy little things like enumerating the times he has outright lied to the American people – currently around 8,300 since he first assured everyone his inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s – on the basis of checkable facts; and criticizing his cackhanded mismanagement of the Oval Office.

The Post‘s heyday was, of course, in the mid 1970s when its dogged investigative team of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein played a large part in bringing down the corrupt but otherwise quite good President Richard M Nixon over the series of burglaries at the Watergate Complex he taped himself authorizing, to steal ‘dirt’ on his then-Democrat opponent, the hawkish Barry Goldwater.

Subsequently impeached for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and several violations of the Constitution, Nixon resigned with a full pardon in 1975. He was succeeded by Vice-President Gerald Ford, a man of whom it was said he was so dumb, he couldn’t shit and chew gum at the same time; and subsequently by the other halfway decent President, the Democrat Jimmy Carter.

There are gobsmackingly obvious parallels with the situation today facing Mr Trump, into whom there are now some 18 separate investigations ongoing alleging conspiracy with a foreign power to steal the 2016 election, misuse of campaign funds, obstruction of justice, money-laundering, tax fraud – and several (to put it mildly) violations of the constitution; notably the emoluments clause, in ignorance of which he continues to create any opportunity to enrich himself at the nation’s expense.

(It’s said that for his inauguration ceremonies, his Washington post-office hotel was charging foreign dignitaries $175,000 a night….)

We just haven’t quite got to the resignation speech yet.

Sadly, no Woodward and Bernstein today can contend with Mr Trump’s relentless campaign of character assassination against both the media and his own law-enforcement agencies, and his first-rate skills at blowing out dense clouds of purple smoke to distract the public attention whenever it looks like any further embarrassing revelations are about to emerge. He plays the media like a fiddle, as they say.

If the legion of investigative journalists and their many books and articles are to be believed, as no doubt they should be, mostly, Mr Trump is guilty of all those crimes and many more. But he is a master of evasion – and not just fiscally. The fingerprints have been wiped; finding the DNA, let alone a smoking gun, is taking the Special Counsel a frustratingly long time.

The Bezos affair is classic Trump.

For many years, Mr Trump’s friend, David Pecker, Editor-in-Chief of the salacious supermarket rag, The National Enquirer, had protected him by buying up as exclusives, any bad stories about him and then locking them away in a safe. It’s known in the yellow trade as ‘catch and kill’. Under guarantee of immunity, Mr Pecker has been spilling his guts to the FBI about it all, and specifically about the role played by Mr Trump’s personal bagman, Michael Cohen, shortly due to surrender himself to the prison authorities to start a three-year stretch.

Mr Trump’s vendetta against the Post appears to have extended recently to doing work on behalf of his Saudi paymasters. In his action against the Enquirer, that he has now launched alleging, among other things, blackmail, Mr Bezos’ lawyers are pointing to a special glossy supplement on Saudi Arabia that Mr Pecker published last year, totally against the scandal sheet’s normal editorial policy, praising the repressive and atavistic desert regime to the skies.

For three months, despite the assessments of his own intel community and the views of Republican senators in Congress – even that egregious little Trumpsucker, Sen. Graham – Mr Trump has been assiduously creating doubt and uncertainty over the role of Saudi Crown Prince bin-Salman in the brutal assassination of critic, Jamal Khashoggi… a special contributor to, as it happens, the Washington Post.

And then in January, an exclusive story appeared in the Enquirer about Mr Bezos and an affair with a former TV anchor, Lauren Sanchez – a report based on hacked text messages. Mrs Bezos is duly divorcing him and a settlement somewhere in the mid-billions is eagerly anticipated by those who get excited by such important news.

Bezos immediately launched an investigation into how the Enquirer and its parent company, AMI, had gotten hold of the story. He claims that his attempts to find the source of the hacked material to determine whether it and other Enquirer pieces in recent months had been politically motivated had led to threats from AMI to expose even more intimate photos the couple had exchanged.

In other words, blackmail – and foolishly offered in an email for all to read.

Instead of cowing down and paying up, Bezos went public and published full details of everything in the Post. Even people who loathe Amazon and its rapacious business model have had to admit, that was brave. Bezos’ implied assertion was that the intelligence service must have been involved – which could mean only one thing: the order came from the Very Top.

Is petty blackmail something you’re really going to try with the “world’s richest man”, involved in a long-running feud with the political motivator himself, President Donald Trump?

The obvious inference, amply reinforced by that sickening tweet, its triumphal crowing utterly demeaning of the sacred office of the President of the United States, for now – a monstrous spoiled, whining, devious, self-exonerating 9-year-old brat, of squalid habits and early-onset dementia trapped in the lumbering body of a man who cheats at golf, as well as on his wives – is that this was Pecker’s way of saying sorry to his “friend”.

We doubt it’ll get him off the hook. Trump, eternally the made-for-TV mob boss, never forgets nor forgives.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/07/jeff-bezos-national-enquirer-blackmail-claims-trump

Postscriptum: And in a small but intensely interesting sidelight on the Bezos affair, we have belatedly learned, the Daily Beast reported on 31 Jan. that Lauren Sanchez’ showbiz agent brother Michael is a known “business” associate of…. Roger Stone, another of Trump’s henchmen now under indictment, and has frequently tweeted political support for the President.

The question then becomes, has this whole affair been a honeytrap setup, the kind of exploit Mr Pecker’s safe is no doubt full of? Was any foreign agency involved in hacking Bezos/Sanchez’ texts and photos? Was this a politically motivated Kompromat operation against a hated enemy, that now threatens to blow up in the President’s curiously mottled orange face? (I’m wondering if it might be skin cancer?)

Sanchez and others, including AMI, the publisher of the Enquirer, are denying everything; the problem facing AMI group being that only last year they signed an agreement with the Mueller investigation that if they gave evidence against Michael Cohen they wouldn’t face prosecution – unless any further crime was committed within the next three years, in which case the FBI would throw the book at them.

So this is an existential matter for the publishers.

One further question remains. There being no fool like a staggeringly rich fool, may we ask: why oh why was Bezos, who is no longer 14 years old, stupid enough to post dick-pix to his girlfriend over social media?

(The Pumpkin has been itching to make this joke and so will risk it here: Why would anyone want to wake up to Bezos’ scrawny old head on the pillow? For a moment, they might wonder which way up he was sleeping… Sorry!)

 

Her justice rewards

Along with now-retired Senator Jeff Flake, “moderate” Senator Susan Collins from the moderate east coast lobster-fishing state of Maine was an outstanding holdout on the committee to confirm Trump-pick, Brett Kavanaugh as a job-for-life Supreme Court justice.

Kavanaugh, who allegedly assured Trump no sitting President could be indicted for crimes commited while in office. Kavanaugh, who dramatically defended himself against the sober testimony of women accusing him of gross improprieties while a college student.

Kavanaugh, whose emotionally overwrought self-defence was said by many witnesses never called to testify to have been a pack of lies; and who boasted of liking beer when the evidence suggested, he likes it a bit too much.

Kavanaugh, the subject of strong criticism from Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts; and of a warning letter to Congress, signed by over a thousand lawyers and professors of law who knew Kavanaugh’s record and judged it wanting.

Kavanaugh, who just last week fulfilled the dire warnings of the liberal establishment by recording a dissenting opinion in a Louisiana case, where the court ruled 5-4 to overturn a complicated new law that would have meant only one doctor being available in the entire state licensed to perform abortions.

In a dramatic turnround, however, when it came to the vote, Flake and Collins (see previous Posts) threw principle to the wind and voted with their fellow Retardicans to rubber-stamp Kavanaugh’s lifelong appointment to the court. The question remained: why?

Sen. Collins has now filed accounts, regarding her 2020 re-election campaign donations. To date, her PAC has benefited from $1.8 million dollars in funding. Since the day she changed her voting on Kavanaugh, a million dollars of that has been sent in from out-of-state donors, whom she does not even represent. (TYT/Ring of Fire, from Time Magazine reporting)

 

GW: Up and down on the great weather rollercoaster

World: “The start of 2019 has been marked by high impact weather in many parts of the world, including dangerous and extreme cold in North America, record heat, wildfires and rainfall in Australia, record temperatures and rainfall in parts of South America, and heavy snowfall in the Alps and Himalayas.

“Globally, temperatures were a little over 0.4°C warmer than the average January from 1981-2010.”

With an adjusted “realistic” baseline of 1750 AD (rather than NASA/IPCC’s 1951) when industrialization began; with allowances for ‘blank’ areas of the Arctic where no measurements were available, La Niña cooling, etc., and without even adding in potential feedbacks such as rapidly rising methane release, Arctic News’ “Sam Carana” (7 Feb.) estimates that global warming has already crossed the lower 1.5C “Paris” target. It was “1.73°C warmer than preindustrial in 2018. The (graph) also shows that it could become 1.85°C warmer in 2019.” Projections of the increase in global temperature cease by 2030 as 5C is considered terminal.

WMOpublic.wmo.int/en/media/news/2019-starts-extreme-high-impact-weather

arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/02/extinction-alert.html

USA: “At least 1 person (later 2) has died in flash flooding in Tennessee (and Ohio) after a storm system (Lucian) brought record-breaking rain to the Nashville area. Nashville recorded 4 in./ 101.6mm of rain on 6 Feb. This breaks the daily rainfall record for 06 February, 1.73 in./ 43.94mm set in 1884. It also exceeds the normal monthly rainfall for February, which is 3.94 inches / 100 mm. (from Floodlist). Indiana University, Bloomington was underwater, 8 Feb, and there was flooding in Indianapolis. Rivers are still rising as the frontal system has stalled and continues to dump impressive amounts of rain at the boundary, bringing warm air over the midwest ahead of another polar deep-freeze. (From Wunderground)

Update from The Weather Channel: “Winter Storm Maya will bring another round of snow to the Pacific Northwest to start the weekend, just days after Winter Storm Lucian (23 dead) snarled travel in both Seattle and Portland, Oregon, and this will kick off yet another expansive wintry mess of snow and ice across the Plains, Midwest and East into next week.” – weather.com/safety/winter/news/2019-02-07-winter-storm-maya-seattle-portland-midwest-east-snow-ice-forecast?cm_ven=wu_videos?cm_ven=hp-slot-1 Monday 11 Feb, Accuweather reports, Seattle had another 10-in. of snow over the weekend, its worst February total in decades.

Hawaii: “An intense winter storm will approach Hawaii from the north this weekend—an unusual trajectory that could bring a variety of destructive impacts to the 50th State. The angle of approach will push very strong northwest to north winds across the islands. Extremely high surf (waves up to 60 ft!) can be expected, especially along north- and west-facing coastlines and harbors, where the National Weather Service is warning that coastal flooding could be “unprecedented.” (Wunderground)

S America: “At least 16 people have died in landslides in La Paz Department, Bolivia. Heavy rain from 2 Feb. caused landslides along the Yolosita-Caranavi highway in Caranavi Province, burying several vehicles. Local authorities said that at least 16 people died and 53 were injured.” (from Floodlist)

“Southern Argentina broke a number of high temperature records on 4 February. The temperature in Perito Moreno (Patagonia) reached 38.2°C. Northeast Argentina, and the adjacent parts of Uruguay and Brazil have been hit with extensive flooding, with well above the long-term expected average rainfall. On January 8, the Argentine city of Resistencia recorded 224mm rainfall. This is a new 24-hour rainfall record, much higher than the previous highest of 206mm recorded in January 1994.” (From World Meteorological Association global report.)

Indonesia: The death toll in floods in Sulawesi towards the end of January is reported to be in the dozens. (BBC News) Homes and roads were washed away.

New Zealand: “Strong winds are expected to fan forest fires that have been burning for a week through New Zealand’s South Island, forcing thousands of people from their homes. Early on Sunday, 155 firefighters were battling the blaze on the ground with air support from 23 helicopters and three fixed wing planes … The Pigeon Valley fire covers 2,300 hectares (5,700 acres).” (Guardian) – and may according to subsequent reports go on burning for “weeks”.

Australia: as record flooding in Queensland slowly abates, farmers who originally celebrated the end of a seven-year drought are left counting the cost, confronted by a landscape strewn with up to half a million dead cattle they have no way of disposing of, polluting waterways.

Europe: Snow melt and heavy rain caused rivers in Bosnia to overflow from 5 Feb. Bridges, roads, homes and farm land have been damaged. Temperatures rose from sub-zero last week to around 15C. Some areas also saw heavy rain.” (From Floodlist). “A very deep cyclone (Storm Erik – “quite windy” BBC) will affect the UK and Ireland on 8 and 9 Feb. It will produce storm to potentially hurricane force winds, and locally quite significant rainfall totals. This is a potentially dangerous system. (Update: 3 dead.) Winds gusting above 100 km/h are expected across much of Ireland, Scotland, southwest and north England and Wales.” The same front has brought damaging wind gusts up to hurricane-force 160k/h and unseasonally warm conditions again to Iceland. (Severe-weather.eu)

India: The “capital Delhi was hit by a strong hailstorm on Thursday, turning the city white and leaving people stunned and delighted. Pictures and videos posted on social media show cherry-sized ice balls and streets covered in white.” – Normally lethal air quality temporarily improving as a result. “Parts of northern India have experienced heavy snowfall over the past days”… leading to avalanche warnings. (From BBC Weather)

Yellowstone: continuous small earthquakes and ground uplift ongoing in the Lake area. The live webcam at Old Faithful geyser is still down. “Deep low-frequency earthquake” signatures are showing up in the seismograph record all over the park, a type associated with rising magma. (Mary Greeley)

The panic begins: “I don’t know what everyone else is doing but my wife and I are moving to our off grid home up near Algonquin park in northern Ontario. GL to everyone we wish you the best. We are prepared with food and supplies and weapons that I have stock piled now for the past 4 years. Thank you Mary for the heads up and we will continue to watch your program from our off grid site. Much love and respect from Canada.” – Comment post, Mary Greeley website.

 

 

The scaly scales of justice, #1… The scaly scales of justice #2… Monstering cookies…Trump: Hittin’ ’em in the pocket… GW: sperm counts falling like snow…

Quote of the week

“You enabled the nationalism that threatens our societies. You stiffed so many of us. You fought for rules that let you steal the future from our children. You pushed for monopolies … and austerity and deregulation. People got angry, and some of them voted for hell. And who benefited? You again. Because instead of following their anger up to the summit where you gather, the enraged were goaded, sometimes by your fellow plutocrats, into punching downward and turning on the most vulnerable.” – Anand Giridharadas, in an open letter to the World Economic Forum (Davos), published in the New York Times.

According to Oxfam, the richest 26 individuals now own 50 per cent of the world’s wealth.

“Let the Yanquis come. They will see we have many more medals where these came from!” Venezuela prepares.

The scaly scales of justice #1

Despite turning up at court along with its co-defendants trailing no fewer than four pairs of defense barristers, “a spokesman for the University of Bristol said it was fully committed to assisting the coroner’s investigation and ensuring that any lessons learned were built into its support.

“At the heart of this is a student who has tragically died, her family, and members of our community who continue to be deeply affected by this loss. Our thoughts remain with Natasha’s family and friends. The evidence submitted in advance of the pre-inquest review shows that every effort was made to assist and support Natasha, both from within her school of physics and by the university’s pastoral support services,” the spokesman said.

Except that…. Natasha Abrahart had “’no direct contact’ with the university’s student wellbeing service, the first pre-inquest hearing in August last year was told.” Although as it turned out, she had emailed the university begging for help and seemingly got no reply. Now her parents are faced with at least £50 thousand in costs they are struggling to fund through an internet appeal, to try to match the legal firepower of the university, just to find out the truth about what happened to their daughter.

Meanwhile, student suicides continue to mount up: 95 in 2016-17 alone. (All from Guardian report, 22 Jan. http://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/jan/22/student-death-did-university-do-enough-help-natasha-abrahart-bristol)

Somehow our institutions – universities, the police, the NHS, the Home Office, the Department of Work and Pensions – have to be made to take responsibility for their failings and stop lying and bullying and spending their way out of trouble with our money.

The scaly scales of justice, #2

Nixonian fixer (he apparently bears a tattoo of Nixon’s face across his scrawny shoulderblades), Trump bagman and all-round dirty trickster, the reptilian Roger Stone, 64, was arrested before dawn by armed, presumably pissed-as-hell, unpaid FBI agents today and bailed for $250 thousand on 7 charges, mostly to do with lying to everyone and intimidating a witness, presumably Jerome Corsi – Obama “birther conspiracy theorist and occasional conservative pundit” (Vox).

Released from the courtroom, he reached immediately for a phone and called the one man in America he thought would stand by him: Alex Jones, the rabid rightwing motormouth and bitterly estranged father-of-two who fronts the shameless but relentlessly constructive InfoWars YouTube channel, and his two million Adderall-addicted followers.

Protesting his innocence of what he called the “bogus” investigation into collusion with Russia (he is now the 36th entity to be indicted by several Grand Juries on “bogus” charges concocted by the Mueller team), Stone nobly declared: “”There’s no circumstance under which I would bear false witness to the president.”

It’s my long-held belief that, as a nabbed henchman, you can only betray someone if they are actually guilty of doing something that’s probably illegal, or hiding dark secrets. Otherwise, there’s nothing to betray. But the suggestion that Stone has become the victim of a brutal and intimidatory Deep State system that might somehow force him to declare falsely that the President is a Kremlin stooge is straight out of the “Tommy Robinson” persecution playbook.

While the charges contain no suggestion of collusion with the Russians, Mr Stone has had some problems recently explaining why he went around boasting to everyone about his relationship with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, The ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ of London SW1, who most certainly did “collude” in the release of tens of thousands of emails illegally hacked by the Russians from Clinton and her campaign staffers, if he really didn’t.

I’d say “watch this space!” but I’m losing track of them all. There’ll be a new space along tomorrow.

 

Monstering cookies

As I don’t keep up with the technology stuff, I have little idea – is it an EU thing? – why every damn website now has to put up a big box obscuring their page content, requiring you first to grant permission for them to slap cookies all over your computer; and then to switch off your adblocker so they can show you wonders you have no interest in.

The BogPo doesn’t do it, why should they?

Why do they want or need to give you cookies in the first place? I only want to read the fucking article, maybe even not that much, just check a name or a quote or something in the first lines. I may not ever return to that site, it’s just research, a reference thing. I’m not interested in subscribing for everything they publish. I don’t want to participate in some obscure game of drones, to capture my location and identity and have ads pointlessly targeted at me.

If you’re brazen anough to want to openly publish information on the worldwide web, it’s my view you shouldn’t put more terms and conditions on my right to read it than you absolutely need to; and leave my privacy alone.

Even less reasonable, it seems to me, is that I should have to tick that box every damn time I bring up the same website. It cannot be without the bounds of possibility to employ a one-tick-is-forever system. Once you’ve put your damned cookie on my computer, for whatever purpose, why do you need my recurrent permission to leave it there? It’s just annoying, and not likely to endear me to you

Grrr.

 

Trump: Hittin’ ’em in the pocket

As we all kno, the FBI is Trump’s chief bête noir: an existential threat both to him and his family, and to his tenure of a brain-damaged presidency he never really wanted and for which he was spectacularly unqualified and unprepared.

Not only is the Special Counsel, Bob Mueller reliant on handpicked federal agents to pursue his inquiry into Trump’s financial dealings, that may amount to decades of money-laundering; his ties (we can put the prefix “loyal-” to that) to Russia, and his illegal attempts to lie and deceive the American public into believing he is innocent while investigators are pursuing what he continually mischaracterizes as a politically inspired “witch hunt” against him.

The FBI is also itself pursuing many lower level enquiries at the behest of courts and grand juries all over Washington, Virginia and New York, including into already indicted Trump lieutenants Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Rick Gates, Sam Nunberg, George Papadopoulos, etc. as well as Erik Prince, DHS Secretary Nielsen and others connected with his administration; but most especially, into the Trump children: Don Jr, Eric, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, and their roles in the many scams the First Crime Family has perpetrated in its gilded patriarch’s insatiable quest to finally please his dead dad, Fred.

So how to shut down those investigations and make them go away? Why, suggests MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, there is surely no better way than by so damaging the FBI’s employees financially that it exposes them to loss of their security clearances, their family health insurances and their jobs on grounds of vulnerability to corrupt offers from criminals and spies; not to mention making working for the FBI a less than glamorous career option for the best graduates when you know you could be putting your life on the line every day for no pay, on the whim of a vindictive sociopath in the White House.

Under cover of a manufactured crisis on the southern border, based on phoney fears of a mass “invasion” of criminal migrants, and a preposterous demand for billions of dollars of public money to build a 2,000-mile border wall, or fence, or “steel slats”; a “wall” that most experts believe would have not the slightest effect on drugs and crime and illegal immigration in the country; a “wall” that the opposition Democrats simply would not accept as public policy when funding is sorely needed for so many more socially useful causes; a “wall” that Trump pretends is so vitally necessary to national security that to obtain it may not preclude him taking emergency powers; an illogical, ineffectual, stupid “wall” with which he seems so unshakeably obsessed, the Great Dealmaker has deliberately manufactured a blunt instrument: a shutdown of many government departments, including, as it happens, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

That is to say, a shutdown but not always a cessation of work. FBI agents, who cannot go on strike, are being forced to continue working without pay, and have already missed one monthly check as the shutdown spreading out to affect millions of hard-pressed people living from month to month – including many Trump supporters, whom he seems to be throwing under the bus – and costing the economy billions of dollars, enters its second month with no resolution in sight. Even now, US airports are clogging up, with flight delays around 45 minutes, as everyone from the air traffic controllers to the intimidating immigration staff is not getting paid.

That’s despite the House majority Democrats helpfully offering repeated bills to keep the finances flowing – bills that the profoundly corrupt, arch-Trumpsucker and Senate leader from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell – Cocaine Mitch, as he’s been called – refuses to debate unless there’s $5.7 billion for the “wall”. It’s been his dubious role to block any legislation the Republican funders won’t support, going back to the Clinton era.

FBI offices are reported to be opening food banks for cash-stricken employees.

The majority of Americans, two-thirds have not bought Trump’s lie that the crisis is all the fault of the Democrats. They all saw and heard him take responsibility for what the wily Speaker Pelosi was calling “the Trump shutdown”. They can clearly see who is obstructing the legislature. Daily, he piles lie upon lie*: one of the latest being to claim the “wall” will solve the opioid crisis that is killing 50 thousand Americans every year, when any fule kno’, the opioid drugs are being manufactured legally by Big Pharma in the USA and overprescribed by doctors, not smuggled across borders.

Indeed, his claims are getting so lurid and far-fetched it’s impossible to think that he really believes in them himself.

But it may not yet have sunk in, that there is a distinct possibility this whole shitty mess affecting many government departments has been deliberately created as smoke and mirrors, while the real aim is to hit just one specific target:

The pockets of the people lawfully investigating “Individual 1’s” – the “unindicted co-conspirator’s” – the President’s many crimes.

Thom Hartmann has a most excellent commentary on all of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km20E5_-TqM

Addenda

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reports, there has also been some written evidence in the form of memos suggesting that the “crisis” at the border may have been cooked up in the Oval Office as early as 2017 to provide false evidence on which to hang future “emergency” decrees amounting to a potential seizure of the government.

She further mentions, the appropriate contractor Trump will need to go to for slats employing the right kind of steel for his border wall is a Canadian company owned by a Russian, Chelsea FC’s very own Roman Abramovitch: sometime rubber-duck salesman, Israeli citizen, owner of the world’s biggest superyacht, leading contributor to the Putin slush-fund, victor of the somewhat bloody ‘aluminium wars’ of the 1990s and married to Irina, one of Ivanka Trump’s closest friends.

Trump is no doubt most apologetic for having been made to sign a Congressional order sanctioning the $11 billion oligarch back in 2018. As we’ve discovered with Paul Manafort, for Putin’s favorite olgarchs it’s payback time.

*The Washington Post‘s tally of Trump’s lies now stands at over 8 thousand since he took office two years ago. On a good day he manages around 30.

 

Things are spinning out of control.

Against a background of economic collapse engineered in part by US interests opposed to the shambolic leftwing government in Venezuela, bereft of any sound foreign policy advice the idiot Trump has tweeted that he is backing Juan Guaido, a 35-year-old rightwing opposition politician from the sidelined national assembly, who has declared himself ‘Interim President’.

You’d think Trump would approve more of the populist (but not popular) President Maduro, a blundering incompetent who he says is an unelected dictator, rather than supporting a coup whose figurehead claims to be a Libertarian, but there’s nothing rational or consistent about the US president other than his ceaseless quest for money and validation.

Maduro says he’s staying, and appears still to command the loyalty of the security forces, so things seem set for a showdown. American diplomats have been given 72 hours to leave the country. Civil war looms, with the potential for US military intervention: nothing is off the table, says Trump.

Meanwhile, the would-be dictator Trump’s former attorney and criminal bagman, Michael Cohen, has had to plead with Congress to postpone a scheduled appearance in front of a sitting committee because Trump has openly threatened his family if he testifies.

Further explanation comes from Trump’s senile motormouth attorney Rudy Giuliani: Cohen’s father-in-law is Ukrainian. ‘Nuff said? No? Well, organized crime… ya know? Nudge nudge…

Trump, who now no longer seems to care what he says or does, despite his rocketing public disapproval ratings, up 9 points this week, has also seemingly warned House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi to “be careful”, if she continues to refuse him the chair in Congress to deliver his State of the Union address on the 29th unless he orders federal workers whose pay he has suspended for the past month back to work.

See, the nasty mans

Among other threats Trump is making, is to speed up deportations of the children of ‘undocumented’ immigrants with temporarily protected status under an Obama-era decree. Meanwhile his Republican apologists are brushing aside claims of hardship as 800 thousand federal workers face a second missed paycheck: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, until his appointment a director of a bank heavily sanctioned for money-laundering and run by the man who loaned Trump millions of dollars he has yet to pay back, being typically helpful in suggesting they could take out bank loans to pay their rent.

Other leading Republicans have suggested the government workers should be grateful they’re getting a free extension to the Christmas holiday, claiming that it’s a privilege to be able to make this sacrifice for the future of their country.

Is anyone else re-arming, and shouldn’t we be?

It surely ought to have clicked with poison-monkey Ross of all people, a man with a face like the portrait in his attic, that US banks wouldn’t even lend to Trump anymore. Banks only lend to customers with proven income.

It’s hard to see why the country is not engulfed in fire and fury against these fucking monstrous sons of bitches.

 

GW: sperm counts falling like snow

USA: “Parts of the Midwest and Northeast were still digging out Monday after Winter Storm Harper dumped 1-2 feet of snow in some locations and brought some of the coldest temperatures of the season. In the Northeast, the storm left behind a trail of thousands of flight cancelations, hundreds of crashes, thousands of homes without power and at least 10 dead. In addition to ice and snow, several states were dealing with coastal flooding on Sunday.” (from Floodlist)

“Two more blasts of bitterly cold air will dive across the central and eastern U.S. through next week, bringing widespread subzero temperatures to the Midwest while also keeping the South and Northeast shivering at times. Temperatures as low as minus 20F with -40F windchill are forecast for next week as far south as Missouri.” (The Weather Channel)

Africa: The Red Cross reports that torrential rain and flooding in Burundi has left at least 10 people dead and over 100 homes damaged or destroyed. The rain began late on 17 January, 2019, causing severe material damage. In Niger, emergency relief efforts are underway as extensive flooding around the capital, Niamey, has affected more than a thousand homes. (from Floodlist)

Madagascar: Heavy rainfall that began late on 19 January, 2019, has caused problems in the capital, Antananarivo. Local media say that several people have died, some are still missing and several were injured after buildings collapsed due to heavy rain, landslides and flooding. AFP news agency reports  the death toll is 9. (from Floodlist)

Australia: “At least 28 locations hit all-time highs on Thursday. In Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, the official West Terrace station rocketed to 46.6°C (115.9°F) … About 200 miles away, the city of Port Augusta hit its all-time high on Thursday with a blistering 49.5°C (121.1°F). … “the Red Rocks Point station—which faces Antarctica from the Nullarbor coast—hit 49.1°C (120.4°F): ‘the highest temperature recorded anywhere in the world at such a close distance (70 metres) from an open ocean.'”. (Wunderground)

“Around two dozen (later 90) wild horses in various stages of decomposition have been discovered strewn along a 100-metre stretch of a swimming spot called Deep Hole, 20 kilometres from the remote community of Santa Teresa.” (The watering hole has run dry. Deaths of wild camels are also being reported.) “The region has hit a record 12-day run of temperatures above 42C.” (ABC News)

Europe: “Yet another excessive snowfall event is developing across the western and northwestern Balkan peninsula through the middle of this week as a deep cyclone … pushes into the north-central Mediterranean region. Up to 20-50 cm of fresh snow is possible in many areas, locally even more. Severe winds will result in blizzard conditions in some areas. Up to 70-100 mm of rainfall is likely along the W coast of Greece. Also some very windy weather, particularly at higher elevations on Crete and islands in the eastern Aegean region, where peak winds will likely exceed 100 km/h.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Spain: “4 people have died in landslides and flooding caused by (three) days of heavy rains in northern Spain. One of the victims was swept away by flooding from an overflowing river in Tineo. The other victims died in separate incidents in Laviana, Mieres and Salas when their vehicles were either swept from the roads or caught in landslides.” (Floodlist)

And disturbing news for increasing numbers of migrants trying to reach Europe. Thanks to that deep Arctic low, “waves reaching maximum heights up to 10-14 meters are expected on Friday, pushing towards the eastern Mediterranean and affecting the coasts of (Algeria) Libya and western and southern Crete. Expect the waves to gradually diminish over the weekend.” (Severeweather.eu)

Visit the BBC’s weather service and marvel as a gurning Darren Bett prattles on about the jetstream keeping cold air hanging over the British Isles for a few days, while failing to remark that his graphic shows there is a huge broken loop trailing all the way from the Arctic down into the Sahel.

It’s not supposed to do that.

The living end…

High energy: The National Audit Office reveals, the British taxpayer is having to pick up the £24 billion bill for previously agreed tax reliefs for oil and gas companies decommissioning their North Sea drilling rigs, as the wells run dry. The figure is related to their tax-deductible losses, so the more money they can manage to lose, the more the Treasury is obliged to refund them.

Yellowstone: The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, there was a new swarm of quakes in the caldera over the weekend. Two larger quakes – M2.8 and M3.0 – hit close to Old Faithful geyser on the 21st. SO2 and ancient helium outgassing is seriously increasing; as is the upwelling magma, with continuing ground deformation, seismic drumbeats and tornillo waves, and rising ground and water temperatures.

If that’s not enough….

A new threat related to global warming has been identified: a decrease of ozone in the stratosphere. As warmer air becomes more laden with water vapor it’s allowing increasing amounts of life-ending UV-B radiation to reach the earth’s surface. Arctic News’ “Sam Carana” reports:

“Rising temperatures cause heat stress and infertility, and there are domino effects (especially for rising ocean methane emissions. GW). Furthermore, stratospheric ozone loss causes cancer and infertility. Only once the ozone layer formed on Earth some 600 million years ago could multicellular life develop and survive. Further loss of stratospheric ozone could be the fastest path to extinction for humanity, making care for the ozone layer imperative. As described in an earlier post, Earth is on the edge of runaway warming and a moist-greenhouse scenario means oceans are evaporating into the stratosphere with loss of the ozone layer.” http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/

Following that up, because Carana is an acquired taste, your Gran finds the following on NASA’s website:

“NASA scientists analyzing 30 years of satellite data have found that the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation reaching Earth’s surface has increased markedly over the last three decades. …UV-B damages DNA, causing a range of health problems such as skin cancer and diseases affecting the immune system.”

And from The Conversation, a report that finds extreme heatwaves can seriously damage male fertility:

“… (Red flour) beetles, and many cold-blooded animals, can live for years and are likely to see multiple heatwaves. When we exposed (beetle) males to two heatwave events, ten days apart, their offspring production was less than 1% of that of unheated males.” – Kris Sales, PhD researcher in evolution biology, University of East Anglia.

So keep fanning yer nuts, mateys, or we’re done fer!

 

 

Welcome to a BogPo “Brexit- and Trump-free” zone! Knowing, “no-ing”, none… You said it, not me!… review: Hiromi. Is this a record?… Answers from the blue… GW: and the heat goes on…

Welcome to a BogPo Brexit and Trump-free zone!

750 coruscating Posts!

Quote of the week

“We were caught off guard by surveillance capitalism because there was no way we could have imagined its action, any more than the early peoples of the Caribbean could have foreseen the rivers of blood that would flow from their hospitality toward the sailors who appeared out of thin air waving the banner of the Spanish monarchs. Like the Caribbean people, we faced something truly unprecedented.

“… We are the native peoples now whose claims to self-determination have vanished from the maps of our own experience.” – Dr Shoshana Zuboff, author: The Age of Surveillance Capital

 

You said it, not me!

Judging by the reviews, #amazonshitcarshow (sic) is just about the right name for Jeremy Clarkson’s new series.

Oh, sorry, that’s “Amazon’s hit car show”! Why didn’t they say sooner?

Millennials, eh?

 

“I’m also quite concerned about going extinct before I die.”

Knowing, “no-ing”, none

An article in Psychology Today (12 Jan) attempts with an air of bewilderment to work out why it is that humans, when faced with an overwhelming existential threat that just might be averted by a radical rethinking of their current modes of behavior, prefer to go on flying long-haul as if nothing is happening.

My immediate response was to cite the tragic case of Deasy Tuwo, 44, a scientist working at a pearl-fishing farm on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, who died last week after being partly eaten by a 17-foot long, 740-lb crocodile she had been feeding as a pet.

What the fuck did she expect would happen? Personally, I take care around my cat; still bearing as I do the livid three-inch scar on my arm from when I tried to evict a stray from the house, thirty years ago. I would maintain a very healthy distance from a 17-foot crocodile, I assure you.

Thus, through the application of the precautionary principle I have attained my 70th year.

I’m also quite concerned about going extinct before I die. But unless you lot start to come around, there’s not much more I can do, other than keep writing the GW column in this, muh li’l bogl, for the benefit of my average five lovely Likers, Spammers etc., who are probably stuck in my echo chamber anyway. I’m really not reaching the unconverted.

One could instance probably millions of cases in which people act in their own worst interests, despite the evidence staring them in the face.

The death toll in the recent disaster in Mexico, where 73 people (so far) are known to have died while siphoning fuel from a ruptured pipeline is matched by the incident only the week before, in which 80-odd Nigerians died in an identical “accident”.

The only reason gasoline powers your car is because it’s flammable, dummies. It’s a highly volatile liquid, and you’re standing too close. But you didn’t know that, right? So you lit a cigarette, pleading poverty and fuel shortages as an excuse.

Then there’s Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Always a bit of a tearaway, giving new meaning to the phrase “advanced driver”, at the age of 97 he seems to have developed a death wish.

First, he overshoots his wife’s driveway at Sandringham, careers blindly across the main road into the path of an onrushing vehicle (endangering the lives of two women and a baby, to whom – being a royal – he refuses to apologize) and is sent rolling over and over. Aided by a passer-by, he drags himself from the wreckage unscathed, and the next day is back behind the wheel of an expensive replacement car taxpayers have magically produced for him – having then to be “spoken to” by Norfolk police for failing to put on his seatbelt.

What is he like? As they say. Well, whatever else he may be like, he is certainly in denial of something that ought to be staring him in the face. He’s past it, okay? Just accept it, mate. You must have plenty of chauffeurs hanging around, furtively smoking and speed-dialling the editor of Hello! magazine. Why not engage one?

Anyway, it seems that psychologists have begun banding together to see what’s to be done about the problem of mass denial.

The earth’s climate is overheating, the heating is accelerating (93% of it so far has gone into the sea), it’s our fault for continuing to burn vast amounts of carbon-emitting fossil fuels while denuding the globe of the forests that used to lap up the CO2.

The effects are already glaringly obvious. Food and economic insecurities are mounting, species are going extinct, the web of life is torn asunder and nobody will survive if the climate state should suddenly shift gear into runaway mode, which it will do when (not if) huge frozen reserves of potent methane gas are liberated by the warming we have already generated.

Rising sea level is the least of our worries.

But as long as one diehard attention-seeker continues to insist that we are instead watching the dawn of a new ice age, or that the warming is because the sunspots have disappeared; or who argues that the climate always changes and and will change back again, we are screwed.

So many people want desperately to believe the disinformation of those who imagine they can go on profiting massively from their current business models and who see no need to worry consumers. To change would, after all, affect “our way of life”, that capitalism has assured us is sacrosanct.

Let me assure you: it isn’t.

 

Review: Hiromi, “Time Control”

Is this a record?

I have a dreadful habit most evenings of hitting on YouTube clips of music by artists I normally like and sometimes whizzing straight over to the Amazon with an order for the CD.

Hiromi Uehara is possibly the most virtuosic and inventive improvisational pianist in the jazz canon, ever. People have compared her with, I don’t know, any of the great names listed as her “mentors” while a student at Berklee: Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea, I could go on endlessly with examples of great pianists she is compared to but I won’t. Comparisons, as they say, are odious. She’s pretty bloody good, is all one can say.

We all make mistakes in the course of our careers, though, and her 2007 album “Time Control” with her Sonicbloom group is possibly the most egregious I know of. Profoundly disillusioned, I have just binned my copy on first hearing and shall chalk the expense up to experience.

(The only other album I have ever bought and binned instantly featured the dreadful American jazz singer, Melody Gardot, with her nauseating, syrupy arrangements.)

The short excerpt from “Time Control” I heard on YouTube is, of course, great. I have several other albums and videos featuring Hiromi, as she simply styles herself, and they’ve amply repaid the investment in listening time and money.

Otherwise, the rest of the tracks on the album are just different takes on a childish post-funk noise experiment, exacerbated by the frequent annoying overuse of an electronic keyboard effect akin to the wah-wah pedal beloved of guitarists in the mid 1970s.

It reminded me of those ghastly, cutesy little chemically-dwarfed East European gymnasts wiggling their pert little asses at the judges on the mat at the Olympic games of about the same vintage.

It’s easy to understand how Hiromi, who usually delivers a stunning blizzard of notes firmly grounded in a metronomic left-hand, could possibly feel that a Steinway grand piano on its own just isn’t enough. I have heard it said, both of Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk, very different stylists, that as musicians they were seeking the spaces between the keys. In jazz, it’s easy to see why; you soon run out of notes.

On stage, Hiromi performs at the piano alongside a couple of synthesisers, sometimes playing both acoustically and electronically at the same time; then dives inside the piano to pluck at the naked strings, or resorts to a hammered percussion effect.

Anything, to relieve the monotony of her own brilliance.

Not being gifted, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be allowed to push your gift so far out into the universe, only to find there is an end to everything eventually.

In this case, I’m afraid the elastic snapped.

 

Answers from the blue

I have recently returned once again to attempting difficult crossword puzzles at bedtime. It’s a test, to see if my increasingly fragmented thoughts and memories thoughts and memories – see what I did there? – are terminal, or merely symptomatic.

The hardest one I find is the Genius-level crossword in The Oldie magazine. Hard, because it invariably contains lights that have no clues, or only part-clues, that you have to divine according to a convoluted rubric I barely comprehend.

The unclued lights generally include the name of a famous person, an author or artist, from history; and the titles of some of their works. The only key being their dates. You can sometimes guess what and who they are from the clues you can actually solve, but it helps to have a knowledge of art and literature. I must have skipped those classes.

Anyway, Saturday night and encroaching sleep left me stuck for any suggestion as to who the famous person was, two words, who was – so the rubric said – born 200 years ago next month.

The following morning just before 9 o’clock I turned on the radio. The annoying presenter of Radio 4’s Broadcasting House magazine, Paddy O’Connell, a grown man seemingly afflicted with ADHD, was giving his usual random rundown of the programme’s forthcoming content.

I was delighted immediately to hear him announce a feature on John Ruskin, the C19th polymath and art critic, born 200 years ago next month, because the name fit perfectly with the two letters I already had in the down lights, and we were off again (Googling is cheating. Okay?).

The universe works in mysterious ways. It never lets me win anything on the Lottery, or sell my house, but occasionally it delivers answers to tricky questions.

 

GW: and the heat goes on…

Australia: In the last ten days Oz has had five of its hottest ever recorded. The Bureau of Meteorology said preliminary readings showed daily national temperature highs averaging 40C. A high of 48.3 °C was recorded at Tibooburra Airport (NSW) (Severe-weather.eu) The town of Noona in New South Wales meanwhile recorded a night-time temperature of 35.9C. It was the highest minimum temperature ever recorded anywhere in Australia, the BOM said. And there’s no sign of an end: temperatures on Friday (18 Jan) will soar above 42C in “broad areas”, the bureau predicted. (BBC News)

Antarctica: Since December 25, Antarctic sea-ice extent has set calendar-day record lows every day for more than three not-so solid weeks. Satellite-based records from the National Snow and Ice Data Center go back to 1979. Typically, Antarctic ice reaches its minimum for the year in late February or early March (late summer). As of Monday, January 14, the extent was 3.979 million sq km, which is well below the value of 4.154 million sq km observed on that date in 2017. Land ice too is melting at an alarming rate. Scientists have reported a sixfold increase in the loss of Antarctic land ice over the last 40 years. (The Weather Channel)

USA: As California continues to be pelted by successive storms carrying heavy rain and feet of snow in the Sierras, causing mudslides and evacuations in the tree-depleted fire-zones of the last two summers, “Winter Storm Harper has already pummeled parts of the West with heavy snow and will spread its mess of snow, ice and wind into the Plains, Midwest and Northeast into this weekend. The storm will tap into cold air once it moves through the central and eastern states Friday through the weekend, delivering a widespread swath of significant snow (1 to 3 feet).” (The Weather Channel)

Russia: Temperatures plunged to -57.5 °C in Delyankir (Sakha Republic) in far eastern Russia last night. This part of Russia is the one of the coldest places on Earth and the coldest inhabited area – the (fairly) nearby Oymyakon holds the official lowest recorded temperature in the northern hemisphere: -67.7 °C on February 6, 1933. (Severe-weather.eu) Generally colder weather with more snow is forecast over western Europe up into the British Isles while a 10 degree warmth anomaly persists over Greenland.

South America: “At least 3 people have died in flooding and storms that have affected several provinces of Argentina over the last few days. Strong winds caused damage in Santiago del Estero. Record rainfall was recorded in Resistencia, Chaco. Authorities have warned that the Uruguay River could reach danger levels. The river has already broken its banks upstream, causing flooding in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, where some areas have recorded almost 500mm of rain in the last 3 days. Stormy weather has also caused at least one fatality in the state.” Heavy rain has also affected parts of Uruguay, and there have been floods in Peru and Bolivia. (From Floodlist)

South Pacific: Severe weather brought by tropical cyclones Penny and Mona has affected several Pacific islands over the last 2 weeks. At least 3 deaths have been reported with a further 6 people thought to be still missing. Strong wind has damaged homes and crops, while heavy rain and storm surge has caused widespread flooding. Red Cross volunteers have been helping with evacuations and relief operations in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, the Marshall Islands and Kiribati. Flooding was also reported in parts of Papua New Guinea. (Floodlist, NB, some of this reporting dates from the last week while the BogPo was mostly offline.)

Africa: “Violent storms and flash flooding triggered by heavy rain have affected the south east African countries of Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique over the last few days. Over 20 people have reportedly died since 09 January, 2019.” (Floodlist) 18 of the casualties were caused by lightning strikes over Mozambique.

 

Disappearing acts

Yellowstone: with hundreds of cubic miles of magma still inexorably rising toward the surface, an unusual ‘screw-wave’ earthquake, or ‘Tornillo’ was recorded 48 hours ago at 6km depth under the Grant region of the lake. An almost identical seismic wave pattern heralded within days a major eruption in Iceland in 2011. (Mary Greeley)

Another problem being, the people at US Geological Survey who are supposed to be monitoring the Wyoming supervolcano’s increasingly alarming antics and advising people in the event of an impending cataclysm are on unpaid leave, thanks to Trump’s insane shutdown of parts of the government.

A BogPo slowly forms: Go, Munchkins. Munchkins are go!…You can’t wait until Kevin Gates… The Light fantastic… Yet stands Boglington-on-Sea… GW: No business like snow business… Not so fast: RIP George

Quote of the Month

The Tweet: “You have Walls, and you have Wheels. It was ALWAYS that way and it will ALWAYS be that way.”

The follow-up: “You know, I said to some people over the weekend, you have walls, you have wheels, and some things that never get old. They’re not gonna change.”

Donald J Trump first tweets, and then clearly explains to his bemused cabinet, why he needs $5.7 billion to build his insane border wall, that may be a fence, possibly even on wheels, who knows?

 

Go, Munchkins. Munchkins are go!

The American Treasury Secretary is a person called Steve Mnuchin. He’s not very popular, not since he was unwisely photo-opped grinning smugly next to his expensive and arrogant young wife, looking like a Russian spy or something, while gloating over a sheet of dollar bills newly printed with his name on them, as if they belonged to him.

I say “or something”, because there’s an unexpectedly heavy aroma of massive collusion potentially amounting to treason hanging over the Munchkin today, and he’s so dumb, he may not even know it.

“Here’s the wages you ain’t gettin’ paid, suckers!” The Munchkins at work and play.

It goes back to Trump, of course, and the day in 2013 when he delivered whatever remained of his soul up to the Kremlin.

It was in Moscow, and he was there to launch his tacky Miss Universe pageant, maybe get to paternally fondle a few bare asses, and there was a dinner party. Putin wasn’t present, but a baker’s dozen of his ‘cronies’ were, call it a coven – and Trump boasted excitedly afterwards like the child he is that “all the oligarchs were there”, this gang of grotesquely rich criminal billionaires who had all profited from dodgy selloffs of state assets at the people’s expense, whom he greatly admires for their enterprise.

It was then that, flattered by the attention of his idols, Trump seems to have done his fatal deal over Trump Tower Moscow, that lies at the center of everything Bob Mueller has been investigating. A gossamer sheet of lies still hangs between the President and members of his campaign team, many of whom have already been indicted and even gaoled for trying to coverup what went on, but the evidence must surely be that Trump himself presided over their actions.

And what it essentially boils down to is that, to finance possibly the biggest deal of his life, a project sold to him everso sweetly and innocently by the Russian mafiosi around his table, and dangled like a carrot by Putin – Trump allegedly offered him the $50 million penthouse suite for free if only his friend Vladimir would approve it – Trump set his team the task of privately continuing negotiations even while publicly distancing himself as a candidate for the US presidency – and beyond.

It was far from the first time that Trump had taken Russian money. In the 1980s, his failing casinos were bankrolled by a man believed to be at the head of a major crime organization, Semyon Mogilevitch. Mogilevitch associates and others subsequently acquired many Trump properties at grossly inflated prices suggestive of money-laundering. And the Trump boys have both said at one time or another that they get all the funding they need for the golf courses and so on from Russia – “we’re in and out of there all the time”, said Don Jr, breezily, even as his father was frantically lying to the nation that he had no business dealings whatever with Russia.

United in hatred of Clinton, the Russians were angling for a US administration that would lift the damaging sanctions imposed on them, and so offered to help fix the election. In return, presumably, they had agreed to find Trump the money and permissions he would need for the insanely expensive Tower he had been dreaming of building for years.

His Moscow business partner, property magnate Aras Agalarov, was behind the fixing of the 9 June, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, New York with the Kremlin lawyer, Natalya Veselnitskaya – who was indicted just five days ago on charges of providing false evidence to a New York court in an apparently unrelated case involving a $230 million tax fraud in Russia. Unrelated, that is, but for the presence in the background of another of Trump’s Russian business partners, the notorious Felix Sater, thought to have helped launder the proceeds through offshore vehicles.

And by the presence at the meeting of Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort; a meeting about whose exact purpose Trump, his family and members of his team were to lie increasingly desperately for months. (Indeed, we still don’t really know. Manafort’s history of fixing elections in Ukraine might tell us something; while the claimed purpose of obtaining “dirt” on Hillary Clinton might well relate to any leverage the St Petersburg trollfarm boys would have been able to bring to bear against the Democrats in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, of which more in a minute.)

But Putin’s own plans went far beyond a piffling few billion dollars, a penthouse and a new excrescence on Moscow’s historic skyline.

He saw an opportunity to own his very own President, who could be ordered to spin an entirely new US foreign policy that would benefit his project to restore Russia’s sphere of influence to Soviet dimensions, and perhaps beyond to the recovery of sovereign territories lost in Gorbachov’s shameful era of Glasnost and Perestroika.

Mr Trump has not let him down.

A court filing released in the past few days was so ineptly redacted by the lawyers that journalists were easily able to see behind the blacked-out sections that campaign chair Paul Manafort’s role in the plan has been exposed by Mueller.

And now Mnuchin has been summonsed by Congress to explain something quite shocking.

Manafort was himself compromised by a $19 million debt to a sanctioned Putin oligarch called Oleg Deripaska, a longtime player on the international stage, ‘friend’ of British Labour peer and former EU Trade Commissioner, Lord Peter Mandelson, that he couldn’t repay.

It now appears that the price of forgiveness was to work with a contact from the GRU, Russia’s foreign intelligence arm, one Konstantin Kilimnick, to obtain useful polling data from certain swing states, enabling the hackers in St Petersburg to focus their efforts on finding and influencing Democratic voters there, weaponizing the data.

US elections are a bizarre entanglement of rules and procedures. But the plan worked: those were the very same states where the Clinton campaign rashly felt safe enough – may even have been persuaded by covert GRU disinformation – to reduce their hustings; the three key states where, despite not having a popular majority in the country overall, on 11/9/2016 Trump had secured sufficient numbers to gain by just 77,000 votes enough delegates to win the presidency in the Electoral College.

And on 17 December 2018, the day Congress was shutting down for Christmas, it quietly slipped out into the public domain, with almost zero media coverage and no explanation, that Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, had unilaterally lifted the sanctions on some companies linked with Russia’s Aluminum Tsar, Oleg Deripaska.

The question must surely be left hanging, Cheshire-catlike, in the air: has Putin also bought himself a direct line in to the US Treasury?

They need to be told.

Urgently.

 

You can’t wait until Kevin Gates

A story of terminal frivolity

A Japanese tech startup has unveiled at the CES Tech show in Los Angeles, a touch-enabled device that performs all of the functions of a Google Home Help or an Alexa.

So what? You may ask. Do we need another spy in the corner, that can turn the lights on when you shout at it, play your favorite tunes just like Spotify, and send details of every sigh and curse you emit to an advertiser somewhere, to have your data blended into persuasive messages?

Well, yes. Because, unlike tech devices made to look uncannily like tech devices, this device is modeled on… a plank.

An ordinary, featureless wooden plank. Brown, about 14 inches long by two inches wide and maybe 3/4-inch deep.

You know, the plank that usually serves as a metaphor for stupidity, as in: “(Former Brexit Secretary) David Davis is as thick as two short planks”.

The kind that if you found it lying around the house, you’d chuck it out in the shed thinking, that might come in useful for something someday; knowing deep down it never will.

Touch the plank, however, and miraculously control buttons light up out of the bare wood, and words and numerals and numerous icons and slidy things are obtained, Lord knows how, because there was no sign of them under the smooth grain of the plank, but there they are.

The plank is interactive.

You can talk to the plank, too. Surely, one of the great marketing concepts.

And when middle-aged white-guy and overweighting BBC substitute techie teenager, Rory Cellan-Jones asks it to demonstrate, he slowly and deliberately asks the plank, which is called Mui, “What’s the weather like today, Mui?”

And slowly the plank lights up, words appear, and it replies:

“You can’t wait until Kevin Gates.”

Thus proving that, at least, it recognizes a verb when it sees one.

I fear the end may be nigher than we think.

 

The Light fantastic…

And indeed, so does Dr Malcolm Light, earth systems scientist.

Interestingly, I posted a Comment on The Guardian website that referred readers to the following story just now, and for some unknown reason, my Comment disappeared a few minutes later, without even a note to say it had been Moderated. You’ll maybe see why.

A new report on the website Arctic-news.blogspot.com (7 Jan.) makes for chilling reading in a warming world:

“Recent data from the Arctic confirm an exponential rise in the temperature anomaly of the Arctic stratospheric methane which is now 65 degrees C above the normal, while it was only 20 degrees C above the normal, 6 to 8 years ago. Using this data and the recent … estimates of the minimum Arctic ice shelf volume it is now possible to estimate the timing of the Arctic – Permian style methane blowout firestorm.”

Indeed, Dr Light estimates that on present trends, after the initial eruption in 2021 we should have about another year before the “methane burp” – the anticipated rapid outgassing of explosive methane from the Arctic ocean floor predicted by Arctic researcher, Dr Natalya Shakhova – pushes global temperature by 10C and boils us all “like lobsters”.

“The Major Arctic Permian Style, Methane Blowout – Firestorm Event which will cause the release of some 50 Gt of methane from the Arctic shelf and slope (Shakhova, 2010), a 10 Degree Centigrade Rise in Mean Global Atmospheric Temperatures causing a Catastrophic Permian Style Global Extinction Event, is timed to begin on 4th September, 2021. There is a 95% probability that the Arctic Ice Shelf will have Zero Volume by the 5th of September 2022.”

And thus, by September 2023 it’s game over. The one positive being that we shan’t have to worry about Brexit anymore, as the global backstop looks pretty final.

I know we all feel a bit like this in January, but this is looking a bit serious. Dr Light, late of the Centre for Polar Observation and Monitoring, goes on with the use of many dire capital letters to advise:

“Do not worry about dying as it comes to all of us in the end, only this time we will all be going together. The Earth will soon after, lose all its oceans and become ‘Venus Like’.”

As he explained in a 2014 interview:

“There are such massive methane reserves below the Arctic Ocean floor (more than 5000 billion tons of methane carbon) that they represent around 100 times the amount that is required to cause a Permian style major extinction event, should about one percent of the sub-sea Arctic methane be released into the atmosphere. There are also giant reservoirs of mantle methane, originally sealed in by shallow methane hydrate plugs in fractures cutting the Arctic seafloor. Unfortunately for us, global warming has heated up the oceanic currents fed by the Gulf Stream flowing into the Arctic, causing massive destabilization of the sub-sea methane hydrates…”

There is no technological fix for this problem; it’s not CO2, shutting the factories and power plants and permanently parking the cars while we build more windmills won’t change anything. CO2 has done its work already: putting Earth on course for an uninhabited hothouse world.

 

Borderline nuts

A GoFundMe campaign to persuade fellow Trump supporters to donate to a $1 billion fund to contribute to building the President’s insane wall running 2,000 miles along the border with Mexico has raised just $20 million. A significant amount, but only 2 per cent of the target.

And because the President stamped his dainty little foot and abused his powers to shut large swathes of the Government down, holding 800 thousand poorly paid Government workers, their families and local shopkeepers hostage to his demented fantasy, there’s nobody in position within the administration to accept the donations anyway.

So, having failed to meet the stated objective the organizers have had to switch the basis of the appeal to the funding of a private company that plans to go ahead and build the wall themselves. the wall for which the President wants $5.7 billion.

Which means refunding the original donations.

And we think Britain is a divided nation in which a bunch of calculating thugs in yellow tabards is yelling at the smart people that they’re not happy and it’s all our fault.

Indeed so confused have things become, that violent ultra-nationalist protestors on the far-right are accusing Remain-leaning MPs in the centre of both left and right parties of being Nazis.

 

Yet stands Boglington-on-Sea

A project funding ‘expert’ has described a suggestion by the Energy minister that Britain could fund future nuclear power stations by offering developers more of the future revenues up-front – at cost to the consumer – as: “A desperate leap in the dark”. (BBC)

Hmmmn.

Speaking of darkness, I collared a young lad on the footpath yesterday evening while out walking dogs (he being the only other person around, the son of a neighbour), and asked him to witness something rather strange I had observed.

My phone battery had died and there would never be any other evidence.

Away over on the horizon was a blood-red sunset. I’d watched it turn from a shimmering pinkish glow and grow brighter and redder and broader, until it consumed the whole of a bank of low cloud; while directly up above, a flocculent cloudscape outlined against a pale blue sky was turning fiery pink.

So it was sunset! I hear you jeer. What’s so unusual about that?

Yes. Except that the sun normally sets in the west. Due west, across the town. And this was in the south-west, down the coast. Where the sun should have been setting remained resolutely grey.

It was a phenomenon (we don’t say ‘phenomena’ for the singular, as the idiots now do. ‘Phenomena’ is the name of a 2013 film directed by Steve Coogan and starring Dame Judy Dench) to rival another I had witnessed only a few nights before.

Being dragged out by Hunzi for his last-gasp walk, at about 11.15 p.m., through the darkness we observed the sky over the town had turned a bright, fiery red. It honestly looked as though some huge conflagration had broken out and was being reflected back by clouds. But no sirens could be heard.

I hastened to a better vantage point where no buildings intruded. It was so bright, I was able to take photographs. Ultimately, my excitement died down and I realized, it was only the sodium street lights of the town refracted in a bank of sea-mist.

Yet stands Boglington-on-Sea.

 

GW: No business like snow business

Europe: up to 3 meters of snow on high ground in Austria and SE Germany generated red warnings, and there have been casualties from avalanches and falling trees: 12 dead to date, with more snow forecast for the weekend. Northern Greece registered a low of -23C but more southerly Greek temperatures are expected back up to 17C with intense rainstorms forecast – social media photos are circulating of snow on the beaches near Athens. (Guardian/Wunderground)

USA: Unusually, the whole of the United States from coast to coast is in a low-temperature anomaly, without the pattern of cold-east, hot-west we’ve seen for the past two years at least. Temperatures in places like Santa Fe were barely above freezing. “Winter Storm Gia will spread a swath of snow and some ice from parts of the Rockies, Plains and Midwest to the mid-Atlantic into this weekend, making travel a challenge in these areas. Gia was named late Thursday afternoon as the number of people in winter storm warnings surpassed 2 million. (The Weather Channel)

Update: The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation order for residents below the Thomas Fire and Sherpa/Whittier Fire burn areas, as a (second) winter storm bears down on the Central Coast. (Mary Greeley). The third, fast-moving storm in the series to hit California is expected to move into the area Tuesday into early Wednesday with a potential for rain and snow in the higher elevations. The fourth system, expected to be the strongest and wettest of the three, will hit the area Wednesday and Thursday. Debris flows and mudslides are likely in areas where heavy rain hits burn areas. (The Weather Channel)

Australia: And after a few cyclonic days, Roasting Matilda is back. “Low-intensity heatwave conditions have been forecast across parts of central Western Australia to southern parts of the Northern Territory, southwestern Queensland and across New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Every state and territory will bake through a heatwave on Monday with meteorologists saying soaring temperatures (up to 45C, 113F) will last for days in some parts.” (Guardian)

 

End News…

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser, largest in the park, has erupted for the first time in 2019, on 04 Jan., after a year in which 33 eruptions were recorded – 4 more than in the previous record year, 1964. The average is 2 or 3 a year. Ground uplift and water temperatures continuing to rise as 300 cubic miles of magma makes its way toward the surface. (Mary Greeley website)

Update: ground shaking, small quakes, magma rising, sulphur dioxide emissions off the scale…. just sayin’ (Mary Greeley)

Trump shutdown: “The 99th meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) is being held this week in Phoenix, Arizona, but a huge hole in the meeting has been created by the absence of U.S. government scientists, who were denied attendance due to the ongoing government shutdown. At least 700 scientists who were scheduled to attend could not, leading to the cancellation or last-minute rearrangement of about a quarter of all of the talks.” (Wunderground)

Anyone would think Trump is doing this deliberately.

 

Not so fast: RIP George

‘George’, the last surviving Hawaiian Tree Snail, has died at the ripe old age of 14.

The story of Achatinella apexfulva is a paradigm for the ignorance and stupidity with which humans have approached the “stewardship” of the planet.

Had it not been for an outbreak of snail disease in the study colony, where the last of the species clung on in captivity, and but for 250 years of human depredation – before Europeans arrived the snail had no natural predators – perhaps the once abundant species might have hung around in the trees a while longer.

But its extinction was assured following the the deliberate introduction in 1955 of the predatory Rosy Wolf Snail, which was supposed to get rid of the accidentally introduced Giant African Snail but set about feasting on all the other species as well.

On New Year’s Day 2019, the Hawaiian Tree Snail was declared extinct. (Guardian Green Light)

The sands of time… Our Vanishing World… There is no hope whatever of surviving this…GW: Slip sliding away

Quote of the day:

“The man who was Brexit secretary until 10 minutes ago now reckons the Brexit deal is worse than staying in the EU. Yes, mate. The great spectacle of the past two and a half years has been watching allegedly very clever people realise this incredibly slowly.” – Marina Hyde, writing in The Guardian

 

“Is this rain, Jerry? You have rain here too? You know I melt in the rain. Is this the umbrella guy? Are there burgers? I like to give burgers. They like me to add a little tomato sauce. Where are all the people? I usually have people…. (etc.)”

 Rain Man visits Paradise, Ca.

 

The sands of time

Matthew Hedges, the British PhD research student gaoled for a minimum of 25 years in Abu Dhabi on espionage charges, has been offered the possibility of “clemency”, following a fairly robust intervention by the new British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

Update, 26 Nov.: Mr Hedges has been granted a “pardon” in the upcoming National Day list of prisoners to be freed and is expected home “once formalities have been completed”. This is far from the end of the story, however….

The BogPo suggests he was lucky Boris Johnson is not still the Foreign Secretary, the useless and lazy gumboil who sank the chances for release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British national imprisoned on trumped-up charges by the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, blurting out in Parliament that she was probably doing exactly what she was accused of (i.e. teaching Iranian women how to become citizen journalists).

A pardon from the Emir would of course require Mr Hedges to confirm the court’s perverse ruling that he is guilty, and presumably require him to sign an NDA on any mistreatment he has suffered.

Mr Hedges, attached to Durham University, was arrested while leaving the country, where he has lived on and off since the age of eight. Perhaps unwisely chosen, his research thesis was on the Arab Spring, to which end he had interviewed participants who might be seen to be controversial.

It is frankly quite easy for a noted conspiracymonger such as the BogPo to imagine that this story seems rather convenient, but we’ll press on….

After six weeks of enhanced conversations, allegedly, Hedges was held for six months in solitary confinement and is in delicate health. During his time in prison, under interrogation, he was forced to sign what turned out to be a confession.

The document was in Arabic, which his partner says he does not read. It’s the oldest play in the shithole countries’ police entrapment book. He was denied the benefit of a translator, or legal representation. The court in Dubai last week sentenced him to life after a five-minute hearing at which, again, he was allegedly denied representation or the right to make a defence; although he now has a court-appointed lawyer; and with international media interest generated by his partner, has come the FO’s belated intervention.

Dubai is not on the list of countries the British government likes to upset by confronting them over their pretty rank human rights record.

Any normal human briefly considering the case might conclude that someone who does not speak Arabic is not going to make a very good spy. These primitive desert dwellers are still entirely dependent on Western technology, so what exactly Mr Hedges was supposedly sent to spy on is not clear, given we’ve already got more of whatever it is than they have.

The Foreign Minister of Dubai has described the abysmal proceedings as the fair exercise of justice, but says the Emir might look favorably on an appeal. Frankly, we should lock up their ambassador and pull his toenails out. But that’s not how we do things: we just extract their oil money instead.

My advice to anyone thinking of visiting this luxury tourist trap – lots of shiny skyscrapers, flood-prone artificial island estates for Western celebrity taxdodgers, air-conditioned golf courses and indentured slave labor; nevertheless still home to tribal societies barely out of the Stone Age – country is, don’t. Why go, when you could summer in Margate? Don’t give them the satisfaction of your interest, your money.

Only, the fans of Manchester City have. Britain’s most up-and-come Premiership soccer club followers have reportedly rallied to the flag, the flag of Dubai that is. So happy are they about the scads of oil wealth that have pumped up their formerly failing kickabout enterprise with a plethora of hugely well-paid immigrant talent, that doubts are being raised on their Forum or whatever about Hedges.

It appears from what they are saying, that he must have been a spy after all.

And indeed, that is what the Emirati are saying. An official described Hedges as “50% PhD student, 50% businessman and 100% in the service of British intelligence”, claiming Hedges was trying to get information on the uptake of technology in the state – odd, since presumably one only had to look at the shopping lists they regularly send us.

Was there some tiny hint of a possible suggestion there, then, that Hedges was hoping to find out what, if any, shift in policy there may have been towards favoring China as a future trading partner, or some such possibility? Just speculatin’.

Anyway, the BogPo has detected one curious anomaly. In Hedges’ supposed “confession”. The BBC reported, he had claimed to be “a captain in MI6”. MI6 of course does not operate a system of military ranks, unlike the Russian GRU. Was this perhaps a piece of false information Hedges had inserted before disappearing forever into a Dubai dungeon, to draw attention to the absurdity of his statement and the compulsion under which it was made?

I doubt we shall know, as the detail has not subsequently been much mentioned, other than on the trite satirical BBC panel show, Have I Got News For You. Which I am sure is watched by many MI6 officials.

For a more cogent briefing on what to expect if you fall foul of the Emirati, go to:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/23/justice-uae-dubai-british-academic-matthew-hedges

 

Our vanishing world

Let’s pause for a second to pay tribute to John Allen Chau.

Okay, second over. This brainwashed American booby bribed some Indian fishermen, now being held in custody, to ferry him within kayaking distance of the shoreline of North Sentinel, one of the Andaman islands now owned by India. He stepped ashore brandishing his waterproof bible (the pernicious evangelical movement has thought of everything), singing hymns, and began immediately trying to convert the natives to Christianity, proferring gifts of a pair of scissors, some fish, and a soccer ball, according to his diary – all his grieving mother has left of him.

Was ever Jesus bartered so cheaply? Mr Chau wrote: “Lord, is this island Satan’s last stronghold where none have heard or even had the chance to hear your name?” And that, after 200 years of occupation by the British! These awful prodnoses not only need their heads examining, they need to be taught a little history.

The Sentinelese, as the tiny community of aboriginal tribespeople are called (because nobody knows what they call themselves) enjoy special protection, their numbers having been decimated by years of contact with the trigger-happy, disease-ridden Raj. Outsiders are forbidden by law from landing on the island. The authorities are now pondering what to do about collecting the remains of Mr Chau, perfunctorily St Sebastian’d with arrows and buried on the beach.

The Twittersphere’s verdict? Basically, good riddance. Retailing the tragic story, however, the Washington Post reminds us, Mr Jair Bolsonaro, the newly elected fascist President of Brazil, and a dead-ringer for Rudolf Hess, the Nazi war criminal, has a manifesto commitment to tear up the agreements permitting Amazonian tribes – roughly 100 are left – protected access to their reservations, as he licences more vast areas of the rainforest to be cut down and burned to make space for his business cronies to grow more soybeans to sell to China.

Mr Bolsonaro’s religion is, of course, money – lots of it. He was elected on a platform to end corruption. Why do voters fall for this bullshit every time? It is the best argument I know against extending the franchise to the common people, who do not, as the theory goes, possess even one ounce of native wisdom or percipience when it comes to the horrible bastards they regularly put in power in the pathetic belief that “strong leadership” will save them from the hopeless condition in which they are kept by the very same lying politicians they noisily support at election time.

It’s acknowledged to be one of life’s mysteries, why they do that.

 

Okay, BBC, get over it.

So you’ve discovered women.

Not only is veteran newsreader and Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce slated to take over from Dimbleby at Question Time, and the entirety of Radio 2 being presented by Zoe Ball and Sarah Cox, we now have perky standup, Lucy Porter “guesting” on R4 as presenter of The Now Show in place of Hugh Dennis.

But behind every successful woman there’s a little man, they say… the main writer’s credit still goes to Steve Punt.

 

“The efforts of King Cnut spring to mind.”

There is no hope whatever of surviving this

Anyone fancying that we can change our way of life just in time to prevent the coming Age of Extinction events needs to imagine that they are Mr Andy Southern, a resident of Bath Spa.

An elegant, compact Georgian city in the West of England, Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is being eaten away by pollution. Laid out long before the arrival of the horseless carriage, it sits in a hollow depression, where trapped traffic fumes contribute to a noxious atmosphere in which thousands of residents are suffering from asthma and other lung conditions. And Bath is a traffic nightmare.

The surrounding topography makes the construction of a bypass problematic. Solutions such as tunneling under the city are ruinously expensive. And so, on the direction of central government, that has legally binding emissions targets to meet, the council has proposed introducing a £9 a day charge; creating a low-emissions zone for diesel vehicles, just as there is in London, to help cut down toxic Nitrogen dioxide and micro-particulates; also, the pernicious Sulphur dioxide which, when combined with rain, is eroding the soft sandstone out of which the city was made.

Naturally, there is massive local oppostion to the proposal. Quoted in The Observer, one interviewee among many to voice similar sentiments, Mr Southern says:

“I have a diesel car that will fall foul of this. It’s going to cost me £2,200 a year. I agree we need to improve air quality but this scheme will hit families like mine.” (Guardian)

I agree we need to improve air quality but this scheme will hit families like mine… precisely encapsulates the irresolvable dilemma that is condemning the majority of species on earth, including our own, to extinction; certainly within 100 years, although the process has already begun, is fast speeding up and no-one knows how quickly the web of life and human society could collapse. Some scientists give it less than the next decade.

If you agree we need to improve air quality – I imagine Mr Southern has children – then what the fuck else does he suggest we do, than force diesel car drivers off the road? I’m sorry he can’t afford to switch to a car that runs on unleaded, I can’t either. Even that is not going to save us. He and I need to stop driving altogether and switch to public transport (I can no longer sit a bicycle saddle, thanks to an enlarged prostate). You do too.

But we won’t. Not until we’re all dead.

Bizarrely, in Washington the Trump administration is frantically backpedalling on its own 1400-page report, compiled from contributions from over 300 government scientists, that points in great and specific detail to ever-advancing environmental destruction, food shortages and huge economic damage from chaotic weather patterns and rising seas, toward a 2100 timeline for the end-time.

The response from the White House?

“The White House said the report – compiled with help from numerous US government agencies and departments – was inaccurate” (BBC News). A Trump person spokesplained that it fails to take into account the as-yet unproven assertion that technology will provide the solution just as long as we go on exactly as we are.

Having met with some skepticism toward Lyin’ Sarah’s version, the WH later amended its opposition to claim that the report’s conclusions were based on a worst-case scenario. They weren’t. Quite the opposite.

Meanwhile Trump continues to double-down on his fatuous denials, hailing the sharp arrival of winter in the eastern United States last week as evidence of his theory that climate change is probably a hoax, and if it isn’t it will soon reverse itself. This is a story that is apparently believed by 47% of Republican voters.

A “hoax” that was presumably therefore perpetrated way back in the 1880s when atmospheric warming by CO2 was first demonstrated and has persisted in secret among tens of thousands of scientists from many different disciplines and in many different institutions in dozens of countries, who have been warning us ever since, to no apparent purpose.

The efforts of King Cnut spring to mind.

With these petro-cretins in charge – the claim that the report is “inaccurate” is based on no evidence whatsoever, let alone scientific evidence – and with the prevailing social attitude – also evident in France, where popular riots have followed a proposed increase in fuel duty – that: “I know we have to change, but it will hurt me personally so I’m not going to”, there is no hope whatever of surviving this.

 

GW: Slip sliding away

Vietnam: Typhoon Usagi is just crossing the Vietnamese coast, Saturday 24 Nov., headed for Saigon. To the north, Typhoon Man-Yi is weakening as it approaches the Japanese islands, but the Philippines is threatened by a frontal system bearing torrential rain.

USA: Death toll in the Camp Fire that incinerated the town of Paradise now standing at 84, with 475 still unaccounted for. 14 thousand homes were destroyed. Torrential rain has turned the ash to sloppy concrete making the search for more bodies difficult. Warnings are out for mudslides on steep slopes denuded of tree cover. The fire is now 95% contained; the Woolsey Fire around Malibu to the south of LA is also nearly out, 1100 people still under evacuation orders and 3 confirmed dead.

Update 25 Nov. : the Camp Fire, deadliest in California’s history, is finally out.

This weekend marks the 68th anniversary of the great Appalachian snowstorm that dumped 64 inches over Coburn Creek, Pennsylvania between 22 and 28 November, 1950. Winds in New Hampshire gusted to 110 mph. The temperature in Pellston, Michigan fell to minus 23 F (-30.5C). “A curious extreme occurred in Virginia: the state’s monthly high in November 1950 of 90° at Buccs Island Dam on the 2nd and low of -3° F at Burkes Garden on the 25th were respectively the hottest and coldest temperatures ever measured during November in Virginia.” Between 160 and 350 people died. (Christopher Burt, Wunderground historian, proving that extreme weather is not always the product of a changing climate.)

Australia: “Australia’s east is facing a weather double whammy with both an unprecedented heatwave and flooding rains as two systems roll across the country. Cairns sweltered through its hottest day ever recorded as the mercury peaked at 41.3C. The forecast comes as bushfires punish Queensland with … an out-of-control “monster” blaze focused on the state’s central coastal area. Hundreds of residents have fled their homes.” (News.com.au) Meanwhile an atmospheric phenomenon, known as a gravity wave, has appeared over Melbourne. 100 mm of rain is anticipated in central New South Wales.

Bangladesh: Village women on the coastal margin too poor to afford the bribes to obtain building plots further inland are suffering a higher rate of miscarriages which, researchers believe, are caused by increasing salinity in their drinking water as rising sea-level displaces their fresh water sources and pollutes their crop-growing areas.

Europe: “Excessive” rainfall was again forecast for parts of SW France, Italy and the southern Balkans over the weekend. 4 tornadoes were confirmed touching down around Cortone in Calabria and up into Puglia on the afternoon of the 25th, video showing they were alarmingly large, causing significant damage, and produced several “big hail” events.

UK: A revised forecast from the Meteorological Office suggests that by 2070, summer temperatures across Britain will range from 0.9 to 5.9 degrees hotter, with a 1-in-2 chance of a summer as dry and hot as 2018. Average summer rainfall is predicted to be up to 47% lower. It’s amazing what you can come up with while playing pin the tail on the donkey.

Dust: What’s your preferred color? A huge wall of gray dust has engulfed the city of Zhongye in northwestern China, driven off the Gobi desert by strong westerlies. Sydney, Australia was choked with orange dust from the outback at the weekend. More red dust is to be found on Mars, where the latest NASA mission, the Insight Lander, was due to touch down Monday evening (26 Nov.)