Tories. Lock them up!… Word of the month… Not fit for purpose, #1, #2, #3… A state of surveillance (Miracle on Boglington Street).. GW: It never rains but it rains

Happy Birthday to Me! (70th.)

 

QotW:

Spotted by Private Eye:

“Brexit bombshell: why Tony Blair is behind Supreme Court ruling on Brexit shutdown (D. Express, 13 Sep.)

“Brexit revelation: why Europe is behind Supreme Court ruling on Brexit shutdown  (D. Express, 26 Sept.)

Next week: “Brexit supernova: why alien lizards from Planet X are behind…”, etc.? (Both stories went on to elucidate some purely tangential connection between Blair, Brussels and the Supreme Court ruling on, etc. with no evidence offered at all of the direct influence of either on the Supreme Court.

This is the ersatz journalism we have to put up with, that is bidding to tear the country down. Who are the real traitors behind this shitshow, the judges or the editors?)

(Photo: Neil Hall/EPA)

Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Gove at the Conservative party conference.

“It’s alright, Michael, it’s not Hurricane Lorenzo, just the wind of change.”

For a clip of the early Rees-mogg, go to:#www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/live/bbcfour

Tories. Lock them up!

The rigidly, almost insanely authoritarian Home Secretary, as dim and far to the right as any since “Something of the night about him” Michael Howard, Boris’ Big Red Bus conductress, hardline anti-immigration campaigner and rabid Brexiteer, Priti Patel, 47, the thinking liberal’s trigger-harpie, gave a rabble-rousing speech on Laura Norder at the Tory party conference.

“This party, our Conservative party” (just to remind you, in case you voted for Farage’s frothing Brexit lot in the European elections), “is backing those who put their lives on the line for our national security.” (Sure they’re pleased to know you’re behind them, Priti, stirring it up and making things worse – see recent Police concerns about rightwing terrorism, radical and racial violence).

“So as we renew our place as the party of law and order in Britain, let the message go out from this hall today:

  • To the British people – we hear you.
  • To the police service – we back you.
  • And to the criminals, I simply say this: We are coming after you.”

(I’ve always reserved a soft spot I’d like to hit with a croquet mallet for soapbox orators who spout Victorian cliches like “to you, I say this!”, as if people are too stupid to realize they’re speaking to them. Ed Miliband used to drive me mad with it. Now carry on….)

Mentally at least, foaming at the mouth, Patel went on to assure the bigoted old dumbfucks, Express readers, caravanners and crochet-knitters in the hall that she would end “freedom of movement” for people from Europe “for once and for all!”.

Er, is it okay to ask why? What is wrong with freedom of movement, Ms Patel? We took your parents in, after all. Without it, you wouldn’t be here. I’d quite like to be allowed to move freely, thanks. Or would you like us all to stay exactly where we were born? I’m afraid I can’t afford to go back to central London, not on my State pension.

Do you use the National Health Service? Ever popped in to Costa Coffee? Who do you think is going to man our essential services?

Silly cow.

A transcendently awful speech, by the sound and fury of it, fully characteristic of all pusillanimous, porage-faced Tory Home Secretaries (and David Blunkett) down the decades, with no regard for the actual consequences of their hardline policies, the social costs, that have failed time and time again here and in any country you can name, it met with wearily familiar subdued applause from the faithful and the Dreary Mail editorial team.

It seems not to have occurred to Ms Patel, a former tobacco industry lobbyist, who, let’s remember, was fired from her previous job as International Development Secretary for holding unauthorized, private talks with Israeli hardliners, that included suggestions she might divert UK aid – taxpayers’ money – to the Israeli army of occupation, that on top of all the admissions from senior Tories about their university drug habits, the biggest lawbreaker of all is her boss.

Perhaps she should have added:

  • And to the senior Law Lords, the Enemies of the People, we will ignore your rulings, traduce you in the scumbag press and put you in the Bloody Tower where we’ll have your heads lopped off for treason if you don’t let us do whatever we like, and to hell with the law.

Meanwhile, police at the conference in Manchester were “looking into” an altercation between Blimpish Tory MP, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, and a security guard who tried to prevent him bringing in an unauthorized guest; the room had to be put into lockdown, following which Clifton-Brown, 66, was ejected, still ranting and raving, from the building. (To think, his father – quite a courteous man – used to be our landlord!)

The party of law and order, indeed.

In the meantime, it’s been revealed in The Guardian by “a whistleblower” that a Ms Paola Cuneiri, who worked for two-and-a-half years in “a senior post at London & Partners (L&P), the official mayoral promotional agency which Johnson had responsibility for while he was in City Hall”, moved on from there to head the Sirius program.

That’s the government scheme she claims to have invented, so she should have known  the rules, despite which Johnson’s alleged mistress, or one of them, the American “former model” Jennifer Arcuri, a “businesswoman” with a pole-dancing pole fitted in her Shoreditch flat, as they do, was awarded a prestigious £100 thousand cybertech grant, for which two thousand companies had applied; 1,800 unsuccessfully.

The award came with an expensive and hard-to-get Tier 1 immigration visa, despite Arcuri’s firm not meeting the qualifying criteria of being actually based in, or having anything much to do with, Britain, apart from a Companies House registration; or, indeed, with cybertech development. Innotech/Hacker House is basically just an online events management support service.

The whistleblower confirmed, too, that Johnson’s department had granted Ms Arcuri around £26,000 in startup funding, and that she had travelled abroad three times on official trips with the Mayor, who had appeared on video and at events endorsing her company.

(Despite the existence of multiple photos and documents, Ms Arcuri has issued a statement denying any of this ever happened. It was all a dream, little Princess. And now she’s giving hugely expensive interviews with the dumbfuck UK press, under the watchful eye of her lawyer, although she says they didn’t actually, you know. She just gave him technological advice.)

“A friend” confirmed to the Guardian, Arcuri had told her she was having an affair with the married Johnson, who was seen “regularly” leaving her east London flat. He has refused to deny, or confirm it. Whether she overlapped with current squeeze, Carrie Symonds, has yet to be determined by the sound of breaking plates upstairs at No. 10.

Is it looking bad for Johnson? Not as long as his dithering and malevolent waffle over Brexit, his abusive populist tirades against MPs, EU officials and judges, his viral coffee-cup blunders, his halting improvisation of a terrible, unprepared closing speech to Conference and his harebrained scheme for an Irish customs border in the middle of a bog somewhere in Ireland, over which he appears to have stitched-up a deal with – yes, them again – the DUP, continue to hog the headlines.

He’s learned a lot from Trump.

 

Word of the month….

Treason /ˈtriːz(ə)n/ noun

  1. “The crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill or overthrow the sovereign or government.”
  2. Disagreeing with the idea that Boris Johnson can defy the law with impunity.
  3. Thinking leaving the European Union is a bad idea.
  4. Voting Lib-Dem.
  5. er, that’s it.

 

Not fit for purpose #1: The Home Office

“We welcome international academics from across the globe and recognise their contribution to the UK’s world-leading education sector. All UK visa applications are considered on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence available, and in line with the immigration rules.”

Thus, a Home Office spokesmouth, defending with the standard press response their refusal to allow the two very young children of an American academic at Oxford to join their mother in the UK, forcing her to have to decide whether she can remain in her job, or even in the country.

(Oh, yes, forgot. Her husband, who is working away on contract in his home country of Cameroon at the moment, is, er, black. Tsk.)

Hundreds of overseas academics are being refused visas, often on spurious legal or procedurally incorrect grounds, sometimes suggestive of racial profiling.

Even invited conference delegates and speakers are being shut out, especially from the African continent, and some universities have started automatically rejecting overseas applicants for fear of getting entangled in Home Office red tape.

Welcome to HM Prison Hulk Britannia.

Home of the terminally thick.

Not fit for purpose #2: The President

In the 12 months to June, almost entirely owing to Trump’s trade war with China, nearly 13 thousand US farmers declared bankruptcy.

Those, that is, who have not contributed to the record rate of suicides among small farmers.

Meanwhile the madness of King Donald continues unabated.

He’s now accusing House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff of inventing the telephone conversation in which he has already admitted asking Ukrainian president Zelezniy for a favor in digging dirt on Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, which he now says is fake nooze.

Er… but that’s the report the Committee is investigating! It came from the Inspector General of Intelligence, not from the Committee! (No, “Shifty Schift” is a traitor and a liar who makes stuff up and must be put on trial!)

And today, Trump doubled-down on Biden (who is no longer the Democratic front runner anyway), claiming “what he did in China was terrible” and maybe he will ask President Xi to look into it…

There is no evidence whatever that Biden did anything in China, any more than in Ukraine, where Trump once again admitted he had pressured President Zelenskiy but it was a “perfect conversation”…!

It is horrible watching the spectacle of this tortured man unravelling under the pressures of his job. He needs to be taken out of the pressure-cooker and put in a secure mental facility for his own good, but no-one in office has the guts, the perspicacity or the wisdom to see it; nor has anyone the power to do it, except the Vice President – who is himself under suspicion of assisting in the commission of a crime.

Trump is seriously not fit for purpose. Nor, indeed, is Secretary of State, Mike “I can’t believe he’s not Bunter!” Pompeo, who after five days of outright denying to the media that the phone call ever took place, that there was a report (of which he only read “two paragraphs”) or that he or anyone else, let alone the whistleblower, had any knowledge of it, has now confessed he was in the room at the time, on speakerphone.

Mr Pompeo is in Italy currently, with a brief to continue the president’s important foreign policy campaign to persuade world leaders to say it was Ukraine and not Russia that meddled with Trump’s 2016 election, which he won, to get Hilary Clinton elected; that Paul Manafort and Mike T Flynn are innocent bystanders, and that the Mueller investigation was all a hoax.

Even Bunter is beginning to look a little uncomfortable.

Not fit for purpose #3: Britain

Downing Street, according to the Mail on Sunday, for which read evil genius, Dominic Cummings, is “investigating” several of the 21 rebel MPs expelled by the Tory whips’ office last month for voting with opposition parties on the “surrender” bill.

That’s the one denying the sexually incontinent oaf, Johnson, the right to simply walk Britain out of the EU at the end of this month with no agreement to discuss future trading and security arrangements with the market of 450 million consumers just 26 miles away across the Channel.

It is yet another of the extraordinary correspondences between the Johnson administration – for want of a less organized word – and that of the paranoid Trump, who has his tame Justice Department under “Shill” Barr, busy “investigating” his political rivals too; even the ones like Clinton who’ve already been investigated.

In both cases, what is being “investigated” is the allegation that the two men’s political opponents are somehow in the pay of foreign countries and their secretive interests: exactly the same accusation that has been made against Mr Trump and Mr Johnson – but with much, much less evidential justification.

It is in fact just one gigantic smear, designed to intimidate and menace those calling for responsible governance from these two megalomaniacal, sociopathic sex-pests.

This is para-Nazism at its finest, the only difference being that we have not yet started to cause people to disappear into forest graves.

Former Justice Minister, David Gauke, one of the so-called “traitors”, was moved to warn at the party conference yesterday – he is still a party member even though he cannot stand as a candidate or vote with the Tories – that Britain is descending into Trumpism.

As if to prove it, Tory party chairman, James “but not very” Cleverley has this morning again warned of civil disorder breaking out if Johnson doesn’t get his way. Make no mistake, guys, it’s a threat, not a warning.

I suspect few of the frothing old dumbfucks sensing victory for the way of life they misremember from their youth – no dogs, Irish or blacks – no Europeans, except waiters and comic detectives – Camp coffee and proper lightbulbs – toad-in-the-hole for tea, will give a monkey’s, not even when their grandchildren are being arrested off the streets and hauled out of their school classes, Polish overstayers being interned, machine-gun nests dug into the White Cliffs of Dover, avocado toast criminalized (if there are any avocados) and Jewish and Muslim shops being firebombed.

“But I know we’ll meet again some sunny… er, rainy day.”

 

A state of surveillance

Now look. An hour ago I printed off a letter of complaint I had written to my optician as yet a third pair of these O’Neill glasses has fallen apart in my hand after less than three months.

I didn’t email it, or platform it, or anything – I just wrote it in Word and fucking printed it.

Now sitting on top of my inbox is an unrequested email from a company I don’t know, SelectSpecs.com, advertising prescription glasses.

Update… Friday morning, top of my inbox: “New sock is helping seniors turn back the clock…” “This new funeral plan is finally released to Brits over 50…” Oh, did they notice I turned 70 yesterday?

I’ll say it again, Google.

FUCK OFF AND STOP SNOOPING ON MY STUFF, OKAY?

Miracle on Boglington Street

Although, a strange miracle occurred this morning (02 Oct.). (Wouhaaouwaahouwah!)

Friends, I’ll admit, I’ve been having trouble with muh li’l laptop. F’rinstance, once it goes to sleep, you can’t wake it up again. You have to switch it off, wait 5 seconds and then on again, for which purpose I keep a small stick beside the computer, my “on-off stick”, to press the power key with, otherwise if you use your finger you can’t see the little light.

(I’m very practical, although my son thinks I’m mad!).

Also, the desktop icons ‘n stuff are never in the same places two mornings running, and occasionally you get this bluescreen warning of impending cyberdeath. Again, off-and-on-again does the trick. It’s all a bit unnerving.

Well, this a.m. when I started it up, I got a red warning sign urging me not to switch off, as the Operating System was regenerating, like Dr Who. The text of the sign had partly slipped out of the frame of the box it was contained in, and there was no attribution to any source such as Microsoft, raising suspicions of a hack.

Anyway, after a few minutes it finished its operation and an illiterate note appeared, saying “Sucessful complete” (sic). Naturally, I ran a full security scan, as I speak Kyrzgystani, but it produced no evidence at all of anything untoward.

And then, wonderful to relate (mirabile dictu, as the Romans say), as it rebooted automatically, the old pretty photo background image re-emerged, that you get with Windows 10, a different one every day, that I’d forgotten I hadn’t noticed not being there for the past several months, and I was welcomed as before to log in, which I can do because it’s not password-protected.

(I figured that would drive anybody crazy, who tries to guess my password in order to break-in to my system!)

And the very next time I let it go to sleep, the computer woke up immediately I pressed any key! Quite astonishing.

If I’ve been attacked by Hacker House or someone, well, okay, Jennifer, I’m all in!

(And after posting this, what next on my Google inbox? “Norton antivirus-plus…” For Christ’s sake, is this the world I’m bequeathing to my children? Well, at least they can’t blame me for this part, I don’t understand a fucking word of it.)

(Photo: Nikola Mijic)

Lightning illuminates a funnel-cloud forming during a storm over Bosnia, 2 Oct.

GW: It never rains but it rains

Azores: “Winds were rising and intermittent showers were hitting the northern Azores Islands Tuesday afternoon (1 Oct.) as huge Cat. 2 Hurricane Lorenzo sped towards a Wednesday morning encounter with the islands. At 11 am EDT Tuesday, Lorenzo was racing northeast at 25 mph with 100 mph winds.” (Wunderground). 7 of the 9 volcanic islands have been put on the highest alert – 250 thousand people live in the path of the storm. The islands, which are Portuguese territory, could be hit by waves up to 22 meters – 70 feet in height.

Update Thurs.: “Lorenzo brought sustained hurricane force-winds to Corvo Island, gusting to 101 mph. Winds of this strength have rarely been experienced in the Azores. AP reported numerous downed trees and power lines (a maximum gust of 128 mph was recorded on Flores). Civil Protection Agency said the main port on Flores had suffered “grave damage” – part of the dock, the port’s building and some cargo containers had been “swallowed” by the sea. (Wunderground)

UK: Torrential rains have swept across the UK, 1 Oct., causing floods, closing roads and railways, and leading to some places being evacuated. Over 150 flood warnings were  issued and some areas were hit by a week’s rain in just an hour. On the Isle of Man, a major incident was declared as a flash-flood trapped people in their homes. Elsewhere, drivers were rescued from cars. A change of wind direction spared coastal communities in Norfolk on evacuation alert from being flooded by a King tide. (BBC) The rain has moved away into northern Europe but further heavy rain and high winds are expected on Thursday as remnant Hurricane Lorenzo arrives. (Accuweather).

Update: The latest NOAA track suggests the worst of it will veer to the northwest of Ireland and Scotland’s Cape Wrath by Friday. Its sheer size, however (300 miles in diameter), will bring 70 mph gusts, torrential rain and heavy swells from its outer bands to western Britain. The Irish Met. Service has issued an “Orange Alert” wind warning for the entire western coast, with possible 45-foot waves.

India: More than 100 people have died due to flooding caused by “completely unexpected” late-monsoon rains in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Snakebites have caused several fatalities. Rail and road traffic, hospitals, schools and power lines have been disrupted. Patna was underwater as the Ganges overflowed; Varanasi reportedly awash with sewage. The Deputy Chief Minister and his wife had to be rescued from their flooded home. (BBC)

Senegal: At least 6 people have died and over 4,500 displaced by flooding around the capital, Dakar. 4 people were struck by lightning. Large areas of farm crops have been spoiled.

Korea: “At least 5 people have died and several are missing (in floods and landslides) after Typhoon Mitag swept through southern and eastern regions of South Korea on 3 Oct.” (Floodlist reports). Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province, recorded rainfall rates of 104.5 mm per hour, the highest since authorities began compiling the data in 1971.

USA: Accuweather reports: “Flash flood warnings remained in effect across several states (in a 1,500-mile corridor) stretching from New Mexico to Michigan on 1 Oct., as a narrow swath of soaking rain targets the middle of the nation. The combination of tropical moisture and a temperature battle zone will set the stage for the relentless rain, which (with ground soaked by endless rains all year) could result in widespread flooding.”

The heatwave stretching from Florida to New York, that has brought record-setting early Autumn temperatures to the East into the high 90sF, will be replaced by colder air this week.

Mexico: “Narda” made landfall near Lazaro Cardenas on 30 Sept. before weakening into a tropical depression. However, on Monday, the storm moved back over open water and strengthened back into a TS. Narda then made a second landfall in Sinaloa on Monday night. Acapulco recorded 7-in. of rain. “Tropical moisture will be pulled northward into New Mexico and Texas, where there will be additional flooding concerns.” (Accuweather)

Guatemala: 1 death has been reported and many buildings destroyed, highways blocked and schools closed, with over 5,000 people evacuated and 1,300 left homeless as heavy rains have caused flooding and landslides since the end of September. (Floodlist)

Australia: In a stuttering start to summer, Sydney experienced near-record October daily temperatures yesterday before the mercury suddenly plunged 15 deg. C in one hour. Mostly, though, heatwave conditions are building again across the entire country, and it’s been the worst start to a fire season on record.

Tunnel approaching….

Terra trema: The town of Dublin in the bay of San Francisco has had 36 earthquakes in the past week, 14 just yesterday (30 Sept.) It lies on the Hayward fault, which is part of the San Andreas. The town of Snyder in Texas was shaken by a M4, right in the middle of a fracking zone. (Mary Greeley)

The evidence is that quakes caused by fracking go on getting bigger, UK Gov. kindly note, as they’re getting bigger here too. There’s a serious environmental health risk on top, according to more than 1,200 research papers. Ban, now!

No sweat: “Hundreds” of migrant workers are dying of heat, working on World Cup football stadiums and other construction sites in Qatar, according to an investigation for the Guardian. Causes of death are registered by the authorities as cardiac arrest, but among apparently healthy young men experts believe this is masking numerous incidences of heatstroke as summer temperatures approach 50C.

Poo story: In Florida’s Miami-Dade County, where sea level has risen 4 inches since 1994, 105,000 residential properties still use septic tank sewerage, according to a new report. More than half are regularly “compromised” by higher tides and increasing rainfall and the situation is expected to worsen. (From: Wunderground)

Ironic deaths corner….

Your Uncle B. has long been interested in reports of “ironic deaths”. The latest such is that of respected US weatherman Bill Lapenta, “former director of the NOAA/NWS National Centers for Environmental Prediction”, who drowned in rough surf off the coast of North Carolina this week.

Surf that, er, weathermen had been predicting…. RIP, Bill.

 

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The Pumpkin – Issue 98: Let us celebrate John Bolton Day, 10 September annually, when we burn him and his noxious mustache in effigy…When will they ever learn?… Johnson: there’s no explaining it. Or is there?…GW: Still thinning on the top…

 

Quote of the week:

twitter.com/IamHappyToast/status/1171050051860422657

 

Boris Johnson (right) opening the guestbook at the page signed by Donald Trump and his wife Melania before holding talks with Leo Varadkar (centre) at Government buildings in Dublin

“Oh look, it’s Sharpie and Harpie!”

Johnson finds the Trumps got to Ireland before him (and complained about the bedbugs).

 

Let us celebrate John Bolton Day, 10 September annually, when we burn him and his noxious mustache in effigy

Bolton has, he says, quit his position as President Trump’s National Security Advisor, after a row with the thin-skinned, permatanned one over being sidelined over talks with the Taliban.

His account doesn’t quite square with the White House’s, that Trump fired him, but the effect is the same. Many people are joyfully hailing the possibility that Trump’s next pick might be a less irascibly Irish, more peaceable fellow with fewer instincts for regime change and imposing US-style democracy on the world by force of arms.

(US media count eight wars prosecuted with Bolton’s involvement.)

Trump announced just days ago that he had cancelled peace talks with the Taliban, due to be held at Camp David, following another onslaught by Taliban forces that killed lots of Afghan civilians. Bolton’s astonished response indicated that Trump had kept him out of the loop.

But in addition to not wanting a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, the mustachioed one also opposed Trump’s famous nuclear deal with North Korea (that hasn’t quite yet happened) and attempts to renegotiate the perfectly sound Obama-signed deal Trump abrogated with Iran, where Bolton made no secret of wanting to invade.* Trump is also concerned that Bolton is advocating replacing Venezuela’s President Maduro by force.

As usual, he learned of his fate by tweet. Trump is a terrible coward when it comes to firing people face-to-face. Especially that face.

For some reason, oil prices fell on the news.

*Secretary of State, Mike “two lunches in a suit” Pompeo is today trying to spin an attack by drones flown by Yemeni rebels on a key Saudi Barbarian oilfield as having been perpetrated directly by Iran. These people will never give up their insane ambition for US business to conquer the planet.

 

When will they ever learn?

This is the story roughly as told by a US online news comment show, TYT Nation, which has an inaudibly adenoidal and slow-minded presenter. I hope the details are correct.

So. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump convinced the voters of key swing-state Wisconsin and its controversial Republican governor, Scott Walker, that he’d done a $4.5 billion sweetheart tax deal with Chinese electronics giant, Foxconn, to build a huge plant that would, by 2022, employ 13 thousand of the state’s great workers.

Everyone took him at his word.

Foxconn is known principally for manufacturing iPhones on contract to Apple – and for its notorious addition of anti-suicide netting to its factory rooftops in China after a spate of migrant workers reportedly threw themselves off while suffering depression after being made to work many illegal extra hours for no extra pay, often sleeping at their workstations, inhaling toxic chemicals, while far from home and warehoused on-site in vast, impersonal dormitories.

Things seemed to be moving ahead when demands to purchase land (including residential homes) went out from the state authorities, residents being threatened with compulsory removal without compensation if they refused to sell (known in the US as “eminent domain”, where the government deems there to be a strategic necessity and is empowered to seize property). 75 homes were thus bulldozed, families forced out, and a large site cleared for buildings and an access road, that have yet to be built.

Indeed, construction has not yet started, and very probably never will be.

Because Trump’s deal never existed. It was a scam, so it appears.

In the meantime, Foxconn had opened a small plant employing just 60 people, of whom 15 – unpaid interns – were almost immediately let go because there was no work for them to do. (That was my first “work experience” too, being fired for no reason, age 16! UB.) $7 million had been spent on a campaign to recruit workers from out of state, as the necessary skills didn’t exist locally among the “great” workers of Wisconsin.

Since when, Trump has imposed swingeing trade tariffs on China, sanctioned the equally giant Huawei electronics company (bullying Google to stop supporting its Android apps on Huawei cellphones and attempting to prevent foreign countries from incorporating Huawei-supplied components in 5G networks), imprisoned one of its senior executives on possibly Trumped-up copyright theft charges, and the Foxconn deal has apparently gone sour – if it ever properly existed, there seemingly being no signed contract committing them to deliver anything.

So much for the Great Deal Maker. So much for “America First!” – the deal benefitted only the Chinese, but does he care? He got the votes.

Maybe not next time.

And maybe Congress, desperately running to catch up to Trump’s astonishing record of emoluments violations which he continues to indulge (and deny!) while in office, visibly enriching himself and his family at public expense, could start looking into his and Kushner’s relationships with Chinese banks, to see how such sweetheart deals might improve their position of chronic indebtedness with these state-owned entities.

“When will they ever learn?” As Marlene Dietrich so poignantly sang.

(Report: TYT Nation, citing Bloomberg and others)

 

A French company has been found liable for the death of an employee who had a cardiac arrest while having sex with a stranger on a business trip. A Paris court ruled that his death was an industrial accident and that the family was entitled to compensation. (BBC)

And we want to leave the EU?

 

Time to end it, #11,947

Late of RT-USA, Thom Hartmann is one of the more sober, centre-left, articulate and extremely well-informed of the many independent online podcasters – forgive me, I’m uncertain of the terminology. Vloggers? – found in 15-minute clips on YouTube.

In a thoughtful piece, he reminds us that the increasing public acceptance of corruption in high places is destroying the country – and Trump didn’t invent it. Nixon, Reagan and George HW Bush all had their own corruption scandals hushed-up, that nobody talks about. As of course did Clinton, although he got impeached for lying.

However, unless the Congress is willing to call Trump out for what he is, and importantly also make an example of his many corrupt officials and enablers, future presidents will think themselves at liberty to behave even more irresponsibly.

It’s worth a watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTUcvDy625U

While over on CNN even Anthony Scaramucci, the excitable, cocky, potty-mouthed little New York “investment manager” who lasted ten days as Trump’s Head of Communications during which he appeared to go crazy with power, is now quietly and soberly and articulately proposing that the Republican party has to overcome its fear of the office, put up some credible opposition in the primaries, and quietly remove Trump on medical/psychiatric grounds, as the President is clearly unwell and lying insanely through his ill-fitting teeth about absolutely everything.

Surely to God, when the President of the United States becomes so completely obsessed with proving he didn’t make a silly mistake over a goddam weather forecast that he crudely (and illegally) fakes an official map, and when even his Commerce Secretary and his Head of Staff get dragged into the row, when threats are made of senior meteorological heads rolling for failing to protect him, the “Is it time to question his mental competence?” headline must now gain some traction, finally, after three years of this seemingly never-ending lunacy?

 

Global laundromat

According to US historian Lamar Waldron, President Nixon would receive money from foreign potentates to influence US policy, for his “re-election fund”, and would put the money on deposit with a crooked bank run by his friend, Bebe Rebozo.

At one stage, says Waldron, as a means of turning the capital into completely untraceable cash income, the two men actually bought a coin-operated laundry business in Florida.

 

Where are they now? #147

“Business dealings between US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and wealthy Malaysian developer Tiah Joo Kim, are being investigated by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, CNN reported. Quoting a former and a current US official, CNN reported that the FBI is scrutinising the negotiations and financing surrounding the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver. The US$360 million Trump tower was developed by the 37-year-old Tiah, the son of tycoon Tony Tiah Thee Kian.” (Straits Times, 4 Mar., 2018.)

And…..?

Well, there was a hint of an insinuation in US media at the time that Trump may have been looking for reasons to move his beloved daughter and Plastic Ken out of the White House, where he found them an irritating distraction from his autocratic project. He really doesn’t like being told what to do. And sundry reports of the business model followed by Trump Org. might suggest a possibility of money laundering, although a cursory check shows Kim seems sound enough, for a Malaysian businessman.

Still, as with so many other matters Trumpian under investigation that the national blanket of amnesia seems to have gently fallen over since 2017, it would be nice to know what happened, after 18 months.

Indeed, what has happened to that other FBI inquiry, also floated by the Straits Times, into allegations that money from the £4.5 billion MDB1 sovereign wealth fund scam ended up in Trump’s SuperPAC, while his buddy, Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy, was allegedly trying to shakedown one of the prime suspects for $73 million, to make the investigation go away?

Could we not be told before the Orange One gets re-elected, maybe?

 

Johnson: there’s no explaining it. Or is there?

Despite:

  • losing his first six votes in the Commons as Prime Minister,
  • abandoning his wife to face surgeries for cervical cancer* and running off with a much younger woman,
  • being outed as a drunken domestic abuser,
  • making increasingly incoherent and rambling speeches,
  • insulting other European leaders, women and minorities,
  • firing 21 members of his own party for ‘disloyalty’,
  • making even Corbyn look good at Prime Minister’s Questions,
  • having no plan to exit the EU by 31 October despite pretending he has,
  • being under the malign control of a monstrous egomaniacal psychopath,
  • having shut down Parliament for 5 weeks to avoid having to ask for an extension to Article 50,
  • refusing to allow staff and aides to surrender evidence of collusion over his No-Deal strategy,
  • threatening to ignore the law that says he can’t leave the EU without a deal or an election, putting himself at risk of imprisonment,
  • conning the Queen into conspiring in an illegal prorogation of Parliament,

…and after even his own brother has resigned the Tory whip – along with other serving ministers who can no longer stomach his lies, laziness, incompetence and grand delusions –

Boris Johnson still has a lead in the polls.

“Still, ‘e’s jolly entertaining. Remember ‘im on TV? Cor blimey, ‘e were funny! ‘e’ll teach them garlic-munchin’ sausage eaters a fing or two abart good old British spunk!”

Yes, it’s the 80th anniversary of the start of the years when plucky little Britain stood alone against the ravening might of the European Nazi horde. And by God, if Brussels wants to rule the waves, we’ll do it again! Winston Johnson is the man for our times! (Even if he has sacked @realWinston’s grandson.)

Heil Boris!

*Any woman who has had unprotected sex with Johnson should go for screening immediately, as male partners may carry the Human Papilloma virus, believed to be a common cause of cervical cancer.

 

GW: Still thinning on the top

France: According to the Ministry of Health, 567 people died from proximate causes during France’s first heatwave this year, from 24 June to 7 July. A further 868 died during the second from 21 to 27 July. France recorded its highest-ever temperature of 46C (114.8F) in June. (BBC) Extra precautions this time prevented the much greater loss of life – 15 thousand – experienced in the heatwave of 2003. Over half this year’s victims were 75+; 10 died while at work.

Japan: “A powerful typhoon in Japan has left more than 100 flights canceled, thousands of travelers stranded at the airport, and nearly 1 million households without power. Typhoon Faxai, which made landfall early Monday morning in the coastal city of Chiba, brought heavy rain and winds of 128 miles per hour, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.” The storm then moved over Tokyo where it paralyzed public transport, stranding thousands of commuters. (CNN). 3 people are known to have died. More storms are forecast, with 30+ degrees C. and 80 per cent humidity for Rugby teams to contend with, as they gather in training camps in advance of the World Cup.

The verdict: “Cat 4, weakening to 3, Faxai was the strongest typhoon to hit Tokyo in recorded history. “Though the storm is now heading out to sea, strong winds and heavy rainfall are still affecting the west coast of the country. The Foreign Office has put out some official travel advice for rugby fans looking to head to Japan. ‘Strong winds and heavy rainfall are expected,’ they say, ‘with potential disruption to transport and other essential services.'” (The i)

Korea: “Typhoon Lingling passed over the Korean peninsula 8 Sept., leaving 5 dead and 460 houses damaged or destroyed in North Korea, according to state media. The storm flooded 460 sq km (178 sq miles) of farmland, the official KCNA news agency said, in a country already suffering food shortages.” Lingling earlier killed 3 people in South Korea, including an elderly woman picked up by the wind and slammed headfirst into a wall. (BBC)

Cambodia: 7 people have died in recent floods, which have displaced 7 thousand families and inundated thousands of homes. Flooding has also caused severe damage to crops and livestock. Rivers continue to rise. Further heavy rain is expected. (Floodlist)

Australia: More than 80 fires have been burning for days on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Guardian Australia reports, some 20 properties have been destroyed and another 27 have been damaged since the bushfire crisis began on Thursday, including the historic Binna Burra Lodge. The ruins of the lodge, one of the oldest nature-based resorts in Australia, are surrounded by blackened remnants of what used to be lush Gondwana (primeval) rainforest in the UN heritage Lamington National Park.

The minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said he “doesn’t know” if climate change is man-made, and it’s not important – as long as Australia continues to produce “high quality” energy from coal. The Environment minister, a woman of some kind, equally pig-ignorant, has rallied to his support.

Granny Weatherwax comments bitterly: The world has more than its share of tenth-rate, moronic, venal or corrupt liars, ecocidal criminals careless of the now unavoidable fate of humankind and the truncated lives of their own children, greedy for money and a little transient power. Why do so many of them have to end up working as politicians? And in Australia?

New Zealand: Heavy rain on 10 Sept. prompted evacuations and caused flooding and landslips in the Coromandel Peninsula. 260mm fell in 24 hours. A local civil defense manager commented: “Although we saw the rain coming, it was twice as intense as we were advised.” (Floodlist)

West Africa: Floods continue to spread across Nigeria. In Niger, the death toll from last week’s flooding has risen to 57. Flooding in Chad and Mali has displaced hundreds of families. Several other countries are affected. The UN is talking of a humanitarian crisis. At least 7 people have died in a landslide in southern Ethiopia. The disaster occurred after heavy rain during the afternoon of 07 Sept. (Floodlist)

USA: Accuweather reports: There are dozens of active wildfires in the western U.S. from California to Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. The Walker Fire, burning in the Plumas National Forest in Northern California has consumed more than 44,000 acres and was only 10% contained as of Tuesday morning. Temperatures are forecast to climb back to and above seasonable levels later this week and into this weekend.

Yes, it’s been a bit cooler in the West the last few days. So much so, that several inches of snow have fallen in Utah….

Meanwhile for a swathe of the Midwest from Kansas through to Minnesota, guess what? That’s right! Hail, torrential rain, flash flooding, tornadoes, damaging winds…. No such thing as climate change. Not happening. 3x T-2 tornadoes that touched down in Sioux Falls, S. Dakota on 11 Sept. left a shopping district in shambles, downed power lines and caused severe damage to a hospital. (Accuweather)

Mid-Pacific, Hawaii posted its hottest summer on record. Data for a handful of specific sites—Honolulu, Hilo, Lihue, and Kahului—reports Weather Underground, make a strong case that this summer’s heat across Hawaii has been unprecedented, setting many new records both high and highest low.

Oh, and don’t tell Trump – “A tropical wave festering near the Southeast Bahamas may gradually organize as it heads toward Florida and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.”

Turkey: For some reason, we missed – oh, I remember, your Gran was away – torrential rain and severe flash flooding in Istanbul on 17 Aug. Some parts had 100mm rain in a few hours. Anyway, back in the Mediterranean, more torrential rainfall with potential for widespread flash flooding is the forecast for the rest of the week for Spain and the western Med. 11 Sept. And we’re talking up to half a meter of rain in places. (Severe-weather.eu)

Arctic: Watching the BBC Weather forecast for the week, I suppose it’s no surprise forecaster Darren Betts concentrates on remnant Dorian and remnant TS Gabrielle bringing wind and rain – and then warming temperatures, followed by high pressure – to the Fortunate Isles by the weekend. As your Gran has often observed, however, it’s what’s going on over his left shoulder that’s of more interest.

A massive wave of warm, tropical air preceding what look like two more cyclones is shoving up past Iceland into the Arctic, where 17 September is the annual peak day for summer ice loss – already at a record low volume. Arctic News reports, 9 Sept., current air temperatures across the polar region at 4.41C over the 1880-1920 (?) global average and sea surface temperatures off Svalbard at 15.2C above the 1981-2011 average.

Mean global methane levels (720 ppb in 1750) were as high as 1911 ppb on the morning of 3 Sept. Methane is increasing faster than CO2 and up to 150 times more damaging. The “Sam Carana” editorial team is still betting on an extinction-level 5C global rise by 2026 and fretting that it will include enough methane to trigger the loss of reflective marine stratocumulus cloud, leading to an additional 8C of warming. (Arctic News)

Antarctic: A possibly unprecedented, sudden warming of the stratosphere over Antarctica, with temperatures an alarming 40C above normal, reveals just how complex climate science can get. Because, the effect is to push cold air at lower altitudes out sideways: thus large parts of Australia will see its already record-hot Spring temperatures plummet to a wintery 10C below-normal anomaly next week, lowering the risk of more wildfires – while the heat in the stratosphere will also have the effect of preventing the chemical reactions that cause the annual widening of the as-yet unrepaired hole in the ozone layer, actually helping to shrink it (and thus reduce damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the ground). (extreme-weather.eu)

It’s an ill-wind, as they say.

Tunnel approaching….

Fukushima: The Tokyo Electric Power company responsible for cleaning up the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear facility where three reactors melted down after the 2011 tsunami, has said it is running out of storage space for over a million tonnes of radioactive coolant it has been only partly successful in decontaminating, and will need to start emptying it untreated into the Pacific by 2022. Local fishermen are protesting.

Bahamas: While government figures are still claiming the death toll from Hurricane Dorian is just 45, local media are speculating that 3 thousand or more may have died. Officially, 2,500 are missing (12 Sept.) Geographer and climate change activist, Prof. Paul Beckwith has looked at the numbers and estimates on the basis of local eyewitness accounts, population distribution, figures for missing, how many people may have left the island in time and the impact of the storm seen in photographs, that the final toll could be as high as 40 thousand.

Iceland: volcano watchers are monitoring a build-up of pressure in the Grimsvoten volcanic field under the huge Vanajökull glacier in anticipation of a major eruption. “The trend has increased lately, and with stronger earthquakes and more pressure in the volcano, it is possible for Grimsvotn to erupt within the next 4-12 months.” say the experts. They don’t know which volcano might blow, but bets are on Hekla, the most frequent eruptor. (Severe-weather.eu)

Human extinction: John Doyle is the EU’s director of Policy Outreach and International Affairs. He gives a scary presentation in a video recorded at a recent symposium for UN aid agencies, available for now on the Arctic News website, in which he confirms the little publicized diagnosis of climate scientists that we are looking down the barrel of a planet-killing 10 deg. C of warming within the next “20 to 30 years”.

To get there, he notes, we have to pass 4 degrees, and that’s curtains for most of the human race. Food yields, he points out, are already plummeting due to climate change; parts of the world have already become almost uninhabitable due to excessive “wetbulb” temperatures. Vertebrate species and insect populations have collapsed. Forests are burning. And there is no “unless…” – no technological solution is on the horizon and one becomes even less likely as we try to retreat from fossil fuels, effectively ending global action. We have done this to ourselves.

“Most of you will be here at the end”, he concludes.

http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/

Brexit – a family tragedy… Let’s get away from it all… No it can’t be… I talk to the trees (but no-one listens to me)… GW: Deep breath, everyone.

Quote of the Week

“If we still read philosophy, literature, history, poetry and theology we would not be surprised that greed, hedonism and hubris have easily defeated empathy and reason. But because we do not, because we spend hours each day getting little bursts of dopamine from electronic screens, we think we are unique in human existence. … The only existential question left is how we will choose to wait out the finale.” – Chris Hedges, writing on Truthdig.

And in his bleak article, Hedges quotes the philosopher John Gray: “Whatever they become, tyrannies begin as festivals of the depressed.”

http://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-last-act-of-the-human-comedy/

While for a sobering reminder of how whole populations can be sucked into the maelstrom and drawn to destruction by the actions of a few ambitious men, please watch the 3-part BBC docudrama series The Rise of the Nazis, if you possibly can.

The BogPo’s only hopeful comment is that instead of hubristic militarism, the 21st-century version merely requires that we enslave ourselves as consumers to the corporate ethos until the order collapses in the face of global climate catastrophe.

 

Brexit – a family tragedy

If any more evidence is needed of the divisive, corrosive effects of Brexit, the subversion of democratic process by unelected “dei ex-machina” and the strong echoes, both of the English Civil War and the rise of the Nazis, it must surely be the tragic letter published in today’s Guardian from historian Paddy Docherty to his Tory MP and government whip brother, Leo.

Reminding him that their family were once Communist shipyard workers in Glasgow, he writes:

“How important is your own job when something as priceless as parliamentary democracy is under threat?

“I was once proud and impressed as you entered parliament – that was just two years ago. Now I am simply appalled that this government, of which you are sadly a part, has become the principal threat to the lives and liberties of the people. Please do the decent thing, and resign.”

This is unbearably sad. But it is probably a devastating rift that is being repeated across hundreds of breakfast tables and at fissiparous family celebrations the length and breadth of this divided land.

Your Uncle B. is perhaps fortunate to know no Leavers; at least, none who will openly admit to their private vice. And to have such a very tiny family – at least, those whose identities I actually know. When in working groups, such as my extended jazz family of musicians both amazingly proficient and amateurishly exuberant, there is an unstated vow of omerta.

Personally, having argued forcefully for years – since 2013, in fact, when an intention to hold a referendum was first announced, and The BogPo predicted just this outcome – that leaving the EU is a dangerous idea that plays into the hands of a few very selfish and greedy people, such a blindingly clear fact that a slender majority of the minority who could be bothered to vote seemingly failed (and continue now to stubbornly refuse) to appreciate – I fear I have become numbed to the inevitability of it all. As when your flight is delayed, the only recourse is to surrender to the process.

Thus Brexit can also create its rifts within the individual heart.

And that’s the worst part of it, that I am looking forward more to the arrival at around midday of my new guitar, a (ridiculously cheap Indonesian copy of the expensive instrument I can no longer afford) birthday present to myself; and am busying myself with thoughts of possibly replacing its low-end pickups and strings and tuning pegs and tremolo bridge with sturdier versions, putting lipstick on a pig, as Sarah Palin once said about something or other.

Although I like pigs, we used to breed them in the wholesome air of freedom and sell delicious sausages at market. I’m no stranger to slaughter, when it comes to the sticking point.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/03/open-letter-brother-resign-government-no-deal-brexit

 

Let’s get away from it all

Fifty-four people, mostly Americans, have paid up to £194,390 each to spend 245 days on a cruise liner, circumnavigating the globe on what is being billed as something or other, cruise of a lifetime, luxury escape from Donald Trump, whatever.

It sounds like a recipe for another Poseidon adventure.

At the top of the range, you get your own 12-man boardroom, chef, kitchen and wine cellar. For the steerage passengers (only £66,950), eight restaurants have worked out 245 menus, one for each day. “There is more food than you can ever imagine.” promises Viking’s Head of Sales, lasciviously (many people can only imagine that much food, actually. Principally because they don’t get that much to eat.) There are of course other passengers, it’s just that they’re getting off at Los Angeles, where more get on.

“It won’t be something that is exclusive to millionaires,” says Alex Loizou, director of sales and marketing at Mundy Cruising. “It will be ordinary people.” Yeah, right. That’s what I’d be afraid of, actually. Smug retired couples with unfeasibly large pension-pots. Tragic lottery winners. Refugees from Downton Abbey.

Eat your heart out, Agatha Christie… we’re laying bets on who the murderer will be.

40 years ago, your Uncle B. spent two weeks on a guided cruise around the sites of classical antiquity in the eastern Mediterranean as the guest of the organizers, with the aim of producing a short piece for radio promoting their business.

It was quite a small boat with just the one restaurant serving a sadly imaginable quantity of food, and I honestly thought I would go mad with boredom. Apart from my wife, who was unwell most of the time (it later turned out to be hepatitis C), there was only one other passenger aged under about 60 onboard, a teenager, so with little else to do but traipse around ruins, I managed to run up the biggest bar bill of anyone.

They rejected my piece.

 

No, it can’t be!

As any fule ‘kno, a coincidence is just when you happen to notice two different things happening at the same time that appear to be related to one another, when they’re probably not. Most psychologists will tell you, there’s no such thing: it’s just that you’re in a particularly receptive frame of mind. (Actually, the Father of Modern Psychology, Dr Jung believed in them, so he gave them a scientific name: synchronicities.)

So, a few days ago I told you about The Lucky Jew – a somewhat dubious tourist souvenir a friend brought back for me from Poland three weeks ago – and how, the very next day, I won £30 on the lottery, something I’d never done before – I don’t usually do the lottery, it’s just an occasional whim when I’m feeling unloved.

This morning I opened a letter from the bank – something I don’t often do either – to find a deposit in my account that precisely to the pound matched the amount I’d had to remove two weeks ago to cover the cost of my annual pilgrimage to sing jazz in the Loire. So I was no worse off!

While in France last week, during the course of a conversation over breakfast one day, I recounted an apposite story of how I’d been shopping at the local supermarket a while back, and was surprised to hear quite a young man, a student, wandering by while humming a tune called “Fly Me to the Moon”, a 1960s Sinatra hit and now a tiresomely overdone jazz standard on courses and on bad karaoke nights.

Shopping at the same supermarket just an hour ago, a man wandered past, humming “Fly Me to the Moon”….

 

I talk to the trees (but no-one listens to me)

Okay, so the plan is to plant a trillion trees and save the world from overheating.

First, let’s establish that a trillion is a thousand billions, and a billion is a thousand millions, and a million is a thousand thousands, and a thousand is ten hundreds, and a hundred is ten tens, and ten is your fingers and thumbs – or your toes.

Imagine a football stadium holding fifty thousand people. See their eager faces? 20 stadiums is a million people. 200 thousand stadiums is a trillion people. Aren’t you sick of seeing their faces?

Put another way, a trillion is 1 followed by 12 noughts; each nought being the increasing power of x10.

It’s quite a lot of trees, too. Growing and distributing and planting out that many saplings – baby trees – is going to take energy, lots of it – human and otherwise. And where is your source stock of seeds and whips (live cuttings) for that many trees? How many nurseries, with how much space?

And who will pay them to do it?

Roughly 15 per cent of saplings survive transplantation, so we’ll need 6 trillion to start with. Who is going to grow 6 trillion saplings, and where?

Trees need water. They don’t like salt. Is there enough fresh water on the planet to keep a trillion trees alive to maturity, say at a gallon a day? Increasing to maybe ten gallons a day as they grow? Ten trillion gallons a day? (Don’t ask how many Olympic swimming pools is that… it’s 10,000,000,000,000 divided by 660,400, okay?)

And us? Does that leave enough fresh water to keep us alive too? And the other animals and plants? And all those industrial processes and agriculture – in Chile, where the soil is dry, it takes 100 US gallons of water to produce one avocado.

Yes, transpiration will put fresh water back into the amosphere. To add to the increased rainfall and flooding we’re already experiencing.

The trees will need to grow rapidly and well if they are going to suck all that carbon dioxide out of the air to make themselves bigger and more useful at removing carbon, which will take many years.

And when they die, they’re going to put it all back out again.

Right now, millions upon millions of trees are dying. Many in wildfires that are eating up areas of southern tropical, temperate and northern boreal forests the size of small countries every year.

Now, burning trees are putting up soot particles high in the atmosphere, reflecting sunlight back into space. Burning the forests rather than planting them may be the best way for now of countering the effect of warming from their and our carbon emissions.

On our walk yesterday, 31 August, I stood in full, blazing sunshine, felt its warmth, and thought no, this isn’t right, there’s not enough warmth. It ought to have been 2 or 3 degrees hotter. The sky looked blue, but it isn’t. The hemisphere is wreathed in a fine layer of smoke.

The “global dimming” (aka “aerosol masking”) effect of the sooty particles from 36 million burned acres of Siberian forest this year, more tens of millions of acres from Alaska and British Columbia, South America, Central Africa, Indonesia and now Australia again must be pretty substantial.

Millions of trees are also being cut down just to burn for “bio” energy and to make products – houses, sheds, shelf units, kebab skewers, paper. Many to clear land to grow cows for burgers and soybeans for soy sauce and tofu, and biogas and palm oil for just about anything.

Can we just stop cutting down trees, maybe? Can we stop eating cows and tofu with soy sauce and margarine, driving cars on ethanol? Can we stop trees from burning, in a warmer world?

Because otherwise we’ll be killing them as fast as we can grow them. Net neutrality can have two distinct meanings!

Trees have their limits to growth. Altitude imposes one such limit. You’ve heard of “the tree line”. Above it, trees do not grow quickly or fast enough to help with the climate problem. Land is not unlimited, there are places you can’t grow trees.

Will we be growing the right species of trees for their environment? In deserts and on salt flats? In tidal estuaries? On flood plains and hilltops? And will the tree planters not come up against vested agricultural and commercial interests and city growers in competition for the space? You can’t eat trees! You can’t drive a combine harvester in a forest.

Trees also have their limits when it comes to surviving extreme heat or cold. Will the world be cooling quickly enough to allow them to survive when half the year, in half the world the temperature is 40 degrees*? How well will they grow in Scotland, when the Gulf Stream fails, the “overturning circulation”, and all that Arctic meltwater is streaming south?

Doubtless there are good arguments for planting more trees strategically. On tropical coastlines, for instance, to try to defeat salination from rising sea levels, planting banyan is maybe a good idea. In cities and along roads. On eroded hillsides. And, of course, there are companies cutting down trees for industry that piously affect to replace the ones they cut down.

So we are planting trees – the Ethiopian government recently trumpeted that villagers had replanted 350 million (let’s see how many survive). We’d only need to duplicate that effort 3,000 times and…

Reforesting the world with unimaginable numbers of trees that have no other purpose than to breathe is a lovely dream, but it requires global management deploying vast resources, and who is going to provide that, when supposedly civilized, established democracies can no longer even manage ourselves?

*The story of a city already suffering intolerable heat and water stress is told at:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/31/tucson-heat-inequality-summer

 

GW: Deep breath, everyone

The Amazon rainforest produces 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen. The UN should immediately invade Brazil and remove Bolsonaro from office to save the world!!!

Actually not, say the experts.

“…the world’s oxygen levels are quite stable and are not dependent on rain forests, which use up as much of the gas as they produce in the long run, according to Philip Fearnside, a professor at Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research, quoted in Newsweek:

“Amazonia is not a big source of oxygen because trees respire, just like animals. Trees use up most of the oxygen that they produce through photosynthesis. … There is a net release of oxygen while the tree is growing and storing carbon in its wood, but when the tree dies the wood rots, removing the same amount of oxygen from the air to form carbon dioxide (CO2) from the carbon in the wood,” he said.

“Twenty per cent” is the total proportion of oxygen in the atmosphere, not what the rainforest produces.

More environmental news:

Checking on CO2, then, it’s incredibly difficult to give figures when the concentration measured at the Scripps observatory at 9,000 ft on Mauna Loa in Hawaii, the internationally recognised “official” monitoring station, varies not just from year to year and month to month, but from hour to hour across the day.

Despite the vast area of the planet’s forest cover that’s currently burning, and the increase this year in volcanic activity – and, of course, the ever-increasing output from industry, farming and transportation – the daily average load is currently 409.69 parts per million. The record for the year was set on 15 May when it was as high as 415.70 (Peaks were being detected over 417 ppm, while over parts of Siberia it’s been 1,020 ppm.) The previous record high daily average of 412.60 was set last year, on 14 May. It’s inexorably increasing.

“Pre-industrial” CO2, ie back in the C18th, was about 280 ppm.

France’s wine output is expected to fall 12% this year, after spring frosts followed by summer heatwaves took a heavy toll on vineyards across the country.

On 27 Aug. the temperature in my front garden in Boglington-on-Sea barely made it to 16C. On the other side of the country, in parts of Southeast England it reached 32C. I’m wondering if that 100% east-west vertical gradient might be some kind of record?

NASA and others made July the hottest month ever globally, although Europe only made 2nd hottest July owing to a big cold blob stuck over the northeast. France had its hottest ever July, while the UK broke several temperature records. June was Europe’s hottest ever June. The Met office reported, 10 of the UK’s hottest years have occurred since 2002. There were major temperature anomalies – up to 8C – in Antarctica, Greenland and eastern Siberia. (Severe-weather.eu).

North America has not missed having its wettest past 12 months ever (since 1894, anyway) in any month since May. Sluggish Hurricane Dorian will help keep that record up going into September.

Writing on Arctic News, 1 Sept., Prof. Andrew Glikson of Australian National University has the following good news:

For a climate sensitivity of 3±1.5°C per doubling of atmospheric CO₂, global warming has potentially reached between +2°C to +3°C above mean pre-industrial temperatures at a rate exceeding the fastest growth rate over the last 55 million years.

Global temperature, he writes, has been accelerating faster in the past 270 years than at any time in the planetary record. Even the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) when the planet warmed by 5-8 degrees took a thousand years. The 2 to 3C rise is being masked by aerosol dispersals (pollution).

Glikson’s case supports the idea that feedbacks make a nonsense of linear projections. He cites a 2002 paper by Berger and Loutre: “The climate system may take 50,000 years to assimilate the impacts of human activities during the early third millennium. In this case, an “irreversible greenhouse effect” could become the most likely future climate.”

A Munich Re Insurance graph shows a tripling of extreme global climatic and seismic events of all kinds since 1970. (Arctic News)

The Indonesian government is planning to move its capital to a purpose-built new city. Built on a bog and now sinking fast owing to sea-level rise, Jakarta is to be abandoned to the waves. Environmentalists have protested at the choice of a virgin forest site in Borneo (Kalimantan).

 

USA: Hurricane Dorian intensified Sunday to a monster 180-mph top-end Category 5 storm, gusting to 220 mph, as it approached the Bahamas – the strongest hurricane to hit the region in modern times. Moving at only 1 mph, it’s carrying up to 30-in. of rain and pushing a 20-foot storm surge on top of this month’s king tides. Reporters said hundreds of residents of lower-lying islands, including Grand Cay and Sweeting Cay, ignored mandatory evacuation orders. Early video images show houses half-submerged, their roofs ripped away. Over 13,000 properties are said to have been destroyed.

Floridans are hunkering down as Hurricane Dorian approaches the eastern US coastline. The NHC however expects the storm to turn northward instead of crossing the coast, sparing Mar-a-Lago, andto  head up the coast past Georgia, slamming instead into the Carolinas. If it follows the same track as Matthew in 2016 it could still cause $billions in damage – and fatalities. Matthew killed 47 people.

According to an investigation by The Intercept, two Brazilian firms standing to make millions from the removal of the Amazon rainforest have been among the heavier donors to the re-election campaign funds of both Donald Trump and profoundly corrupt Senate leader, “Moscow Mitch” – should that now be “Manaus Mitch”? – McConnell. Both firms are owned largely or in part by Stephen Schwartzman, billionaire CEO of $300 bn US fund manager, Blackstone Corp.

Hang him. No, I’m serious. Unfathomably stupid and greedy “entrepreneurs” like him have forfeited any right to life. They need to be put on trial for ecocidal crimes and gaoled for life, or summarily executed. The future cannot afford their continued existence.

(If a corporation or a river can be declared to have legal rights as a person, as has been adjudicated, then why does the Future not have equivalent legal rights to exist unthreatened by special interests bent on adversely altering or preventing it from eventuating? Could this concept not be tried in court?)

Russia: Days of heavy rain and flooding have prompted authorities to declare an emergency in Russia‘s Far East. The declaration covers 15 municipalities including the city of Vladivostok which is among the worst affected. The Primorsky Krai administration said more than 150mm of rain has fallen in Vladivostok over the last few days (a normal month’s worth). (Floodlist)

Mauritania: At least 5 people have died in recent flooding in southern Mauritania according to media reports. News agency AMI said that dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed following storms and heavy rains that began around 25 Aug. Fatalities were reported in the capital, Sélibaby City. Media reported that 200mm of rain fell in the area. Roads, bridges and other infrastructure were also damaged. (Floodlist)

Uganda: landslides and flooding have affected several areas of Bulambuli district since 27 August. Local media reported that 5 people were missing, feared dead, after landslides buried houses and flooding from the River Kajere. “Above normal” rains are forecast through until the end of October. (Floodlist)

Kenya: 6 bodies have been recovered after a tour group was swept away by a flash flood in a Kenyan national park. The incident at Hell’s Gate National Park on Sunday involved five Kenyan nationals, a local tour guide and a “foreigner”, officials said. 1 tourist is still missing and a search and rescue operation is continuing. (BBC)

Morocco: At least 7 people died in flash floods in Morocco on 28 August, after heavy rain in the south of the country. A wave of water slammed into a crowd of spectators at a football match, as a building many had taken refuge on collapsed. More people are feared missing and search and rescue teams are working in the area to find survivors. (Floodlist)

Australia: Your Gran fears the media is going mad. A huge floating island of volcanic pumice in the Pacific has been hailed everywhere as a potential saviour of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as corals and other microflora will cling to its underside and repopulate the dying reef.

Well, no, it won’t – not if the same conditions that are killing the reef – oceanic heatwaves and acidification – are going to persist. How could it?

Instead, “The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s outlook report, published every five years, finds coral reefs have declined to a ‘very poor’ condition and there is widespread habitat loss and degradation affecting fish, turtles and seabirds.”

As well as the warming, acidifying ocean, agricultural pollution, ecological imbalances, cyclones and illegal fishing are among reasons to doubt that anything can now save the reef, once listed as one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World and now in its northern sector 2/3rds dead. The Authority’s almost pathetic optimism concludes that all is not lost, provided the world “tackles global warming” if the reef is to be saved. (Guardian Green Light, et al.) As if.

Tunnel approaching….

Ebola: The world’s forgotten Ebola epidemic, mainly in the DRC, has claimed its 2,000th victim. There have been 3,000 cases in total of the disease, which has an unusually high mortality rate of 67%. There’ve been a number of cases and fatalities in neighboring Uganda as the border is porous and villagers are refusing to take warnings seriously not to travel. Hostility toward medical teams and a refusal to believe the disease exists are given as reasons the outbreak is so far from controlled.

 

Trump Org. a grovelling apology

In The Pumpkin – Issue 96, we commented that US cable news network MSNBC and presenter Lawrence O’Donnell were reporting that signatures of Russian oligarchs may have been found in court papers among Trump loan applications to Deutsche Bank, the only remaining bank that would lend to him. The normally serious and reliable O’Donnell has since reported that he shouldn’t have let the cat out of the… no, sorry, he’s tweeted that it was inappropriate to quote his one anonymous source for that claim at this time without supporting testimony and he was wrong to do so. I expect the Southern District court has given him a walloping.

Trump’s dimmest little sprog, Eric, has threatened to sue everyone who repeats the story.

Sorry. No, really, Eric. Really, really sorry. I know you only told a golfing magazine you get all your money from Russia, but later, maybe, yeah?

But please, MSNBC, you can’t afford to give the Trumps these hostages to fortune. Calm down, okay?

The Pumpkin – Issue 96: The Red President… The madness of King Donald #2… Of course it’s not a coup, silly!… Your average Tory cunt #2… I spy with my little i… GW: A world on fire.

“Prorogation is an exercise of royal prerogative that is tolerable in a modern democracy only insofar as it is ceremonial. Its deployment by a prime minister without an electoral mandate of his own, in pursuit of a partisan agenda for which there is no Commons majority, represents a grotesque abuse of the country’s highest political office.” – Guardian editorial

Your Uncle Bogler had always fancied that “prorogue” meant you were generally in favor of rogues. He cannot understand why Her Majesty didn’t just tell this unelected, narcissistic, Koch-funded buffoon with authoritarian tendencies to get the fuck off her lawn. But then why would the monarch be in favour of smelly old democracy?

“Quick, panic! There’s that terrible human who keeps feeding us!”

The Red President

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell is reporting tonight (27 Aug.) that Deutsche Bank has confirmed to a New York court that they hold several years’ worth of Donald Trump’s tax returns among the “vast trove” of financial asset disclosures he has made to them, many – according to whistleblowers in the bank and on the sworn testimony of former Trump lieutenant, Michael Cohen – dishonestly inflated.

They state that, as Trump has already boasted, he paid “little to no” tax during those years. Whether that makes him “smart”, as he says, or whether it’s merely an indication that he wasn’t earning very much, will no doubt come out in court.

We already know that he mitigated tax for many years through declaring huge losses, while at the same time manipulating the media to convince the American public he was a successful self-made billionaire. We still don’t know if those losses were genuine – you can only make a loss by spending more than you earn, but you still need to earn it in the first place – or if they were merely an accounting fiction and he was salting profits away undeclared somewhere.

O’Donnell however drops a total bombshell.

A private source “close to Deutsche Bank” has claimed that congressional subpoenas requiring the bank to hand over their voluminous records of dealings with Trump name a number of Russian oligarchs as co-signatories to loan applications made by Trump without which, says the source, the bank would not have agreed to lend him the approximately $2 billion he borrowed in the ten years up to his gaining the presidency, on the basis of his terrible credit default history.

(One further clue: when he became the Republican candidate, his Russian backers appear to have rapidly withdrawn to avoid implicating Putin, presumably – and that was when Deutsche Bank refused Trump a $10 million loan.)

Finally, we begin to understand his craven obeisance to the foreign policy whims of Vladimir Putin, the world’s richest man, the supreme oligarch who owns all the other oligarchs; and his refusal to criticize them in any way. They all own Trump, lock, stock and barrel. And many of them, perhaps among Trump’s backers too, are on sanctions lists or FBI wanted lists for racketeering and currency violations.

Ooops.

If true, according to vintage Trumphound and tax specialist, David Cay Johnson, if those signatures are indeed down on paper, the presence of Russian guarantors in Trump’s personal and business banking affairs, perhaps individuals suspected of criminal activities, should be more than enough to secure his immediate removal from office.

Sadly, the world doesn’t work like that.

With the Justice Department totally in his pocket – Attorney General Bill Barr has reportedly just given Trump Organization 30 thousand dollars to host a party at one of Trump’s hotels – and with his drooling imbecile, Mnuchin, at the Treasury, overseeing the Internal Revenue Service and blocking congressional access to Trump’s tax returns – there is no other statutory body at Federal level capable of holding the president to account for financial crimes. No-one, not even Congress can order his arrest.

It is now entirely up to the New York district court to determine whether or not Trump and his immediate family should face criminal charges of money laundering and obtaining loans by false pretences, at state level, where his writ of pardon does not run.

Way to go, guys.

 

The Red-handed President

Would you like to know how evil this sick sonofabitch really is? I urge you to visit this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVDMabhm1tI

 

Exclusive: God tells Trump: “The Universe is not for sale”.
“He’s nasty”, Trump tweeted Thursday. “We need that oil.”

The madness of King Donald #2

Faced with plummeting poll numbers, Trump has ordered his Homeland Security people to get the wall built along the 2,000 miles of the Mexican border at any cost, to feed his dumbfuck base support and please the little yammering faces of the Fox sofa-dwellers before the election.

He says now he wants it “black and shiny and pretty and spiky”. He’s illegally diverted military funds to the project, and is gutting Federal emergency (FEMA) funds as well (In advance of a Cat 4 hurricane heading for Florida). To date, despite what he tells the dumbfucks, not one yard of new wall has been built.

One of the barriers to the wall, as it were, is that a lot of the land is privately owned. He has directed his people to seize the land, illegally by force if necessary, and to defy any adverse zoning or environmental laws – and promised to pardon anyone who is prosecuted for breaking Federal law. Inciting crime is, of course, illegal – and an impeachable offence.

Since that was all reported, he has denied saying anything of the kind, claiming that the insider reporting is fake news.

Trump has ordered his Border Agency people to carry on deporting undocumented migrants without right of appeal, even when they have children undergoing hospital treatment for life-threatening conditions. (See above: The Red-handed President)

Trump’s Environment Protection director, Andrew Wheeler, is relishing a Trump executive order relaxing Obama-era controls on methane emissions from drilling operations, saving the energy industry a paltry $27 million a year. That’s despite objections from Exxon and other big energy corporations who enjoyed the protection the regulations offered against smaller competitors.

Methane is up to 150 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2. The order is expected to add another 2 million tonnes a year to the atmosphere. The NYT reports, Trump and the EPA are looking at rolling-back more than 80 environmental protections, including a prohibition on clear-felling national forests.

At the G7, Trump claimed that he had received a phone call from China – later amended to “two” calls – softening Chairman Xi’s response to US sanctions. The Chinese confirmed, there were no calls. His own Commerce department say they are unaware of any new agreement with China. Trump also announced a new trade deal with Japan, that doesn’t exist. He also claimed that other leaders had been curious to know why the US media coverage of him isn’t more favorable. No-one recalls asking him that.

Trump has claimed for two years that canned former FBI Director, James Comey, is a liar who illegally leaked documents via “a friend” and should be arrested. All his press people have been forced to repeat the same story. Attorney General Barr has now announced that, yes, Comey leaked illegal documents. The DoJ investigation report Barr refers to, however, clearly states there is no evidence whatever to back Trump’s assertion. No, Comey did not leak documents.

Oh, no! Is the White House not telling the truth?

And finally, President Loony-tunes has signed-off a bill to fund a US space cadet force.

 

Of course it’s not a coup, silly.

“The … Weimar Republic was perhaps the world’s most democratic state yet—with free elections, voting rights for all adults (male and female), an independent judiciary, a free press, regional autonomy and elections by proportional representation. … It seemed as though nothing could go wrong.

“Less than 15 years later, the Republic had given way to Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship. Centrally orchestrated propaganda had replaced the free press; all other political parties were dissolved; new Nazi courts had been set up; and all independent institutions bar the church and the army had been transformed into organs of acclamation for the Führer. New treason laws made even telling jokes about his regime punishable by death. Within six years, Hitler launched a world war that killed 50m people, including six million murdered Jews.” – Richard J Evans

An article in Prospect magazine warns us that it may be too late to hear the warning noises. Sir Richard Evans is Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, president of Wolfson College, Cambridge and Fellow of The British Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences. Specializing in 19th- and 20th-century Europe with a focus on Germany, he is the author of The Third Reich Trilogy (2003–2008) that has been hailed as “brilliant” and “magisterial.” (Wikipedia)

Although he is at pains to stress that this is not Weimar redux, principally because it lacks a military dimension, while levels of violence have yet to attain those experienced in the late 1920s and 30s; and while the fear of Communism is nowhere as prevalent, nor the numbers of demobilized and demoralized ex-military conscripts swilling around with experience of violence nearly so great, nevertheless Democracy, Evans writes, is in trouble.

Disillusioned voters are too willing to embrace political outsiders and oddballs who appear to offer something different from the sameold sameold; while Conservative politicians will go along with anyone sufficiently popular to guarantee their place in society – even a funny little Austrian with a ridiculous mustache.

If he’s worried, we all should be.

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/britain-proroging-boris-johnson-parliament-suspension-richard-evans-weimar

 

Your average Tory CUNT (Conservative & Unionist Neo-Thatcherite) #2

“Hancock wrote to parliament on 6 June (the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings), saying that ‘England is the mother of all parliaments – respected as such around the free world. To suspend Parliament explicitly to pursue a course of action against its wishes is not a serious policy of a prime minister in the 21st Century. It goes against everything those men who waded onto those beaches fought & died for – and I will not have it’.” (Edited from Guardian, 29 Aug.)

We look forward to your resignation, Minister.

Self-serving little creep.

Seriously, if the only result of Johnson’s reckless and authoritarian prorogation of Parliament closing down democratic debate on the terms of Brexit were to be to ensure that Nigel Farage and his rump Brexit party of fanatical Leavers – not a political party in reality but a private company* registered to Farage, with hefty membership fees and “dark money” accruing to him personally – don’t get a sniff of being elected in November, then it’s probably worth it.

But we then have to look forward to a newly mandated Johnson explaining why his “exciting and ambitious” reform manifesto involving spending billions of pounds of public money he hasn’t got on bringing back flogging and roly-poly pudding with jam in schools and providing free nannies to upper-class working mothers is not going to happen after all, is all the fault of Brussels, or the last Labour government, or the media, his ex-wife, his current “totty” (his word) or Martians.

And there seems little doubt that we are overdue for another global recession, with our defenses down and no way we can sensibly just print money to buy our way out of it and reward the bankers for failure this time by artificially propping up its value with interest rates at zero so they can spend it on real yachts. The Week reports on America’s savviest investor, Warren Buffet:

“He’s reportedly hoarding a record $122 billion in cash at Berkshire Hathaway Inc., leading to some speculation that he sees a recession on the horizon, or at least is sending some sort of warning. The cash pile is more than half the value of Berkshire’s $208 billion portfolio of public companies, and the only time that percentage has reportedly been higher since 1987 was in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.”

I’ve quoted The Week because Bloomberg has locked me out with no more free articles to pillage, ever, but they’re saying much the same thing. The wealthier the media owner, it seems, the higher the paywall.

We might perhaps consider that if Buffet and the rest of the 0.1% are hoarding all the money and not investing it, the likelihood of a recession is substantially increased. But they’re covered for that.

*It’s a way of avoiding most of the financial accounting obligations and rules on donor transparency imposed by the toothless and, indeed, gormless Electoral Commission.

 

I spy with my little i

In May last year, The Guardian reported that President Trump was refusing to allow the iPhone he uses for monitoring Twitter feeds and spewing out his insane tweets to be scanned for bugs and evidence of hacking, because it was “too inconvenient” to be without it.

Google’s in-house Spot-the-Hacker team has today revealed details of mass hacking operations that have been affecting, specifically, iPhone users for over two years, deploying more than a dozen separate pieces of malware to obtain intimate details of passwords, conversations, financial records, lookups and locations.

No source of the hacking has been revealed.

Lock him up?

 

GW: A world on fire

If you’re wondering why the weather isn’t even hotter, given the increase in CO2, maybe this should concentrate the mind.

Global News, Canada reported (16 Aug.):

“…Smoke from British Columbia’s wildfires in 2017 is helping scientists model the potential impacts of nuclear war on the Earth’s climate, says a study from Rutgers University. The enormous plume of smoke formed the largest cloud of its kind ever observed, which circled the Northern Hemisphere, says the study … in the peer-reviewed academic journal Science. The cloud, called a pyrocumulonimbus, formed over the wildfire and sent black carbon high into the atmosphere … The wildfire smoke cloud contained 0.3 million U.S. tons of soot, while a nuclear war between the United States and Russia could generate 150 million tons.

In other words, these huge regional wildfires all over the planet will be creating a global dimming effect like a nuclear winter for several years. But don’t be fooled – without the smoke, which you can clearly observe in the haze even on blue-sky days or feel in the muted warmth of the sun, and occasionally even smell here in sunny Boglington-on-Sea, on the UK’s west coast – we’d be looking at 2 or even 3 degrees of warming above the 1880-1990 average this year.

For then, of course, you’ll need to consider how much CO2 the vanishing forests aren’t absorbing, and how much they’re giving up (and poisonous CO) when they burn, and how much less oxygen we’re breathing; how the precipitating soot is blackening Arctic ice and glaciers, melting them faster; how particulate pollution increases rainfall, and how the global dimming will reduce crop yields, while you slowly drown in misery and alcohol (drink up while stocks last).

Anyway…

Alaska: Despite starting early, this year’s fires in British Columbia have burned 1,300 Ha less forest than last year. To the northwest, however, travel site Afar reports: “several fires are burning in some of south-central Alaska’s most popular tourist areas: The two largest fires are the McKinley Fire and the Swan Lake Fire (157,000 acres), and several smaller outbreaks are causing concern throughout the region.” Air quality is generally terrible and some highways remain closed.

Africa: Wildfires in Central and Southern Africa and on the island of Madagascar may be consuming twice the area of forest as the Brazilian rainforest fires, which have been exacerbated by drought as the forest is no longer producing its own misty microclimate of rain. Or maybe not, as they are mostly caused by small farmers burning off grassland and stubble, so perhaps it’s not so bad. Just a mass of red on a satellite image. Huge fires however continue to burn in Brazil’s forested neighbor, Bolivia – and in Australia, despite the cold, wet, windy winter, where over 100 fires are burning – in Tasmania to the south and up in Papua New Guinea to the north.

Soon these Siberian reindeer will die and nobody is quite sure why, but thousands already have. Herders blame a vaccination program against anthrax, whose spores are being released by thawing of the permafrost, for weakening the animals’ resistance to winter hunger when increasing rainfall creates a barrier of ice over the snow covering the mosses they eat.

Russia: Water levels in the Lena River, a major Siberian waterway, have dropped so far owing to a persistent heatwave and drought that the economy of the region is beginning to suffer. At 2.5 meters below normal, Siberian Times reports:

“The current water level means critical delays in the summer ritual delivering vital supplies to Arctic settlements in Yakutia, Russia’s biggest region. … traffic flow … has been halted for weeks due to the low level of the longest river flowing entirely within Russia. In regional capital Yakutsk the water dropped so suddenly that hundreds of cargo ships and smaller boats were left stranded. Elsewhere along the river fishermen complained about an extremely low catch, saying that for days they were coming back home with empty buckets.”

The shortage of water also means less is available for firefighting. Siberian Times again:

“Territory covered with wildfires across Russia has reached its peak for the year so far, with some 5.4 million hectares ablaze mostly in Siberia and the country’s far east. The total land destroyed by flames will soon exceed 2018 with weeks of the burning season still to go. The immense scale of the fires is highlighted by the fact that so far this year some 14.9 million hectares has been destroyed by burning. (An area the size of Bangladesh.) Smoke from wildfires has covered an area larger than the European Union.” While firefighters have been able to access less than 10% of the areas on fire, and water is being described as more expensive than Champagne.

Europe: Copernicus reports, “more than 1,600 wildfires have been recorded in the European Union so far this year — more than three times the average over the past decade. The rise in the number of blazes has reduced to ashes more than 271,000 hectares — 100,000 more than the average burnt (annually) over the same period during the last decade.” (EuroNews)

Japan: “Daily downpours inundating parts of western Japan in the coming days will raise the risk of flooding and mudslides. The (“unprecedented”) downpours began on Tuesday, and are expected to continue into Friday before diminishing in intensity this weekend. The hardest-hit areas from Tuesday into Wednesday night were across northwestern Kyushu where more than 500 mm (20-in) was reported in Hirado.” (Accuweather) Rainfall rates locally were as high as 4-in. per hour. At least 3 deaths were reported as cars were swept away. “900,000 people have been ordered to evacuate across Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki prefectures as of Wednesday.”

USA: Tropical Storm, now Hurricane Dorian has been pounding the US Virgin Islands (but skirted Puerto Rico) and is now aiming at Florida, where forecasters think it might arrive over the Labor Day weekend at Cat 4 hurricane strength. Once across Florida and into the Gulf, they fear it might intensify even further into next week. They’re already evaluating potential damage at $1 bn+. A strong Tropical Storm, Erin is moving up parallel to the East Coast, with its worst impacts due to be felt in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Accuweather also reports:

“Record highs dating back to the 1940s will be in jeopardy across the southwestern United States as intense heat builds into the Labor Day weekend. While average high temperatures start trending down at this point in the season most years, this weekend will feel more like the middle of summer due to widespread highs in the 90s, 100s and 110s F.”

One persistent hotspot rapidly becoming uninhabitable is Phoenix, Az, where a powerful out-of-town lobby funded by Koch Industries’ dirty money has reportedly been working to prevent the water-stressed desert city extending its light railway network, in favor of having more polluting cars. (Yes, these people are criminally insane. Next?) Hopefully, a proposition that would have required “terminating all construction, development, extension, and expansion of” light rail has been thrown out by a massive majority in a local referendum. (Streetsblog/Guardian and others)

Happily, David Koch died last week. Your Gran wonders idly if he’s being cremated, just as a final contribution to global warming – and when possibly older brother Charles might follow him down to hell? That’s if he doesn’t roast in the one he’s been making for us up here.

Tunnel approaching….

Yellowstone: Trees killed in a new surface “hotspot” zone that has appeared in recent weeks have been turned to charcoal, according to USGS park scientist Michael Poland; suggesting anoxic heating owing to rising gases. Strong harmonic tremors, microquakes, ground uplift and gas seepage are all continuing. Steamboat geyser, the biggest in the park, whose long-term average eruption cycle is about three a year, has gone off for the 33rd time in 2019, beating the previous record of 32 set during the whole of last year. A number of fires are burning in the park, as yet covering a few tens of acres. (Mary Greeley)

Brazil: Forget the rainforest. After he was elected, the filthy corporatist Bolsonaro junta in Brazil immediately set about lifting restrictions on the use of agrichemicals such as neonicotinoid “pesticides” banned in Europe. Almost 300 products have been licensed or relicensed since the beginning of the year, many new and untested.

Simultaneously, Brazilian bee keepers have reported a massive die-off of honeybees this summer: over half a billion bees are thought to have been poisoned in a catastrophe similar to the colony collapse disorder reported in the USA and other countries around the world.

Ironically, reports Guardian Green Light, the important soya crop for which Bolsonaro is insanely burning the Amazon rainforest to grow and sell to the Chinese, is bee-pollinated.

Let’s see for how long, shall we.

(Your Gran is starting to suspect that the many bees she finds staggering about on the ground each spring may well be victims of local sports groundkeepers’ enthusiasm for pristine surfaces. No arable agricultural explanation is to hand in this region for the collapse in bee numbers, but there are many acres of cricket, soccer and rugby pitches in our little valley.)

(Possibly an encouraging sign, some funds are beginning to disinvest in Brazil while a few international companies have suspended trading.)

#grinder… The Irish border question: What is an Irish border?… The Madness of King Donald… Music, history… GW: The weather here has been as nice as it can be

Hi, welcome back, me.

#grinder

Yes, I had a good time, thanks. Glorious weather after the first day, and a memorable meal at a busy Michelin-starred restaurant on the divine banks of the Loire. Chef/patron emerges: “Smell zis Caledonian peppair!” He’d personally gone to New Caledonia in search of an especially fragrant pepper to put in his little battery-powered machine and brought it all the way to our table to let us poor departing Brits (and one London-based American) smell it. That’s what it takes to get one star.

For a whole day since returning, despite another gruelling all-day train journey with improbably explained delays, during which I managed to wet myself when the valve failed on my leg bag while I was falling in love with the stunning blonde passenger sitting opposite, in tiny denim shorts, and ended up instead chatting helplessly with a dyslexic theoretical physicist about string-theory, as you do on our local sprinter train, a guy with several PhDs, I have a cautious and totally misdirected sense of jaunty optimism.

Fuck it, I thought. I am the Chosen One.

We should all maybe tell ourselves that more often.

Photo: Reuters

President Donald Trump with the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and others in the background

“He who smelt it, dealt it!”

 

“It’s as certain as night follows day that in the event of a referendum the entire cabinet would agree in a heartbeat to restoring Irish unity, which would solve the problem at a stroke.”

As Johnson descends on louche old Biarritz for another pointless G7 meeting to be hijacked by Trump, his abusive tweets, his capricious nonsense and his insatiable neediness, we look at….

The Irish border question: What is an Irish border?

Technology exists to track your movements and mine. Do not imagine that someone, somewhere, with the right authorization, could not, if tipped off to certain worrying keywords, or simply because you bought some branded product, log-in to a system that is tracking your every movement, purchase and utterance; and, with access to 5G, will soon know to the nearest half-meter where you are standing or lying, robbing a bank or screwing your boss’s wife.

They are already doing it. You think your stuff is Off? It ain’t. Unless it’s dead (or you are) it’s still transmitting.

So, imagine you have a truck full of shivering sheep, baa’ing piteously on their way to meet the Inevitable. (Again.) Ahead of you is a separation between one customs tax regime and another. They levy different tariffs. Some official clearly needs to know that you have trucked your terrified sheep across this border, which has no physical barrier, but which divides a higher-priced region from a lower, thus attracting people who will profit by bending the rules.

He or she will need to register that you have transhipped 135 sheep from one jurisdiction to the other, in order for more officials to send the producer and the retailer their bill and claim the tax – plus VAT – for the Government. Assuming, that is, that your sheep have not been diverted into a quiet field somewhere.

Such a barrier would naturally encourage producers on one side to smuggle their sheep across to buyers at night, and buyers to move them on at low cost into a higher-priced retail and consumer market, pocketing the difference. Bad men with guns would exploit the higher price on one side, and be prepared to shoot when questioned; or when they think someone is telling on them; or, more pertinently, competing with them. I’m pretty sure they’re digging the auld Armalites out of their rural hideyholes as I write. There’s nothing the rural Irish like more than a good ambush.

The activities of these gangsters are masked beneath centuries of political, alcoholic and religious pieties, justifying their murderous ways. Their largely bogus “movements” have in the past set off bombs callously killing non-combatants, and even conducted two wars to retain their opportunities for profit. It’s called smuggling, and wherever it happens it’s a murderous business.

And then, imagine that the complicated geography of the region means that, in order to get from a low-tax regime to the higher one, goods have to pass through the higher tax regime from the lower, and then back into the lower and on to the higher.

Who the hell is going to keep track of that?

Packed on trucks, the goods leave the freedom of one set of customs taxes and standards, to pass through a different jurisdiction, the UK, with different customs taxes and standards, in order to enter once again the former jurisdiction, the Irish Republic; and then, possibly reprocessed (unless they are to divert hundreds of expensive miles northwards through the UK to Scotland) have to pass once more across this barrier, the border, to enter the UK once again. The process, of course, having attracted more tax liabilities.

I’m sorry, there are those who think this is a good idea, but I don’t. And I’ll happily kill you over it, when the gloves finally come off, because you deserve it. You’re a bunch of fucking ignorant, selfish, disinterested, determined klutzes who haven’t been paying attention, and in your infinite laziness you believe anything you’re told by bad people you think are on your side because they sell you pictures of very young women with big naked tits just like your mum’s.

And there we come on to people. People living or working on either side of this putative border will have different rights and degrees of citizenship. No barriers separate the people south of the border from the people east of the bigger island that separates them physically by water from the other jurisdiction to which they belong. But the borders between the continent and the smaller island to the west, and to the north of an arbitrary line drawn across the island in 1926, now create differential rights, rules, loyalties and responsibilities of citizens in the south from those in the north.

A major part of the decision by a very small majority of UK citizens to leave the EU related to their objection to the principle within the EU that people should have an automatic right to live and work in any member state. As soon as several poorer East European countries with quite alien cultures joined the union, voters saw a potential threat and panicked. In future, however, anyone will be able to get in over the new, invisible Irish border. The assinine slogan, “Take back control of our borders”, will be turned on its head. Fucking eejuts.

Their vote will substantially reduce the existing right of all EU citizens, however “acceptable”, to live and work in the UK, unless they meet stricter criteria, possibly than less qualified people from other countries the UK will be forced to make its own trade agreements with. But if there are no border controls between the south and the north of the island of Ireland, and the south is in the EU and the north isn’t, then the movements of people will need to be carefully monitored too.

I’m sorry this is all so boring. Blame the Leavers.

After all, I have just popped over to France for a week, and been biometrically analysed three times and presented my passport three times going out, and twice coming back, after enduring a lengthy spell in a restive queue, and the UK is still in the EU….

Lost control of our borders? How, exactly?

(If we have, I’m sure the lowering pairs of thuggish-looking Border Force goons hanging around every corridor and hall in their black uniforms with arms folded menacingly would soon reimpose it. Is Britain the only country that greets its visitors with Force? Every time I come home I feel sickened by this fucking country.)

Unless another delay is granted while British politicians pass their one greedy little brain cell around the table to try to find a ‘unicorn’ solution to what is a totally impractical geographical problem, by leaving the European Union without agreeing to open borders for customs tax and immigration purposes, in other words by retaining the existing regime but with even fewer controls and no say in what happens, the United Kingdom cannot remain united.

is this what these fuckwits wanted?

I do not imagine for one second that the fish porters of Sunderland and the demented Empire Loyalists of Tunbridge Wells thought about this problem for one second before seizing the opportunity to leave the European Union, an institution of which they were and remain entirely ignorant, other than suspecting it to be run by a cabal of garlic-munching foreigners bent on removing our hallowed right to behave as badly as we like..

It’s certain as night follows day that the entire cabinet would agree in a heartbeat to restoring Irish unity, which would solve the problem at a stroke.

Of excellent landscape value, and producing very good beef, nevertheless Northern Ireland is an ungovernable province. It hasn’t had its assembly government working for close on three years now, since the Catholic Sinn Fein party walked out on the pretext that the Protestant Ulster Unionist parties were blocking moves to institute an official dual-language policy (English-Irish, which practically nobody speaks) and other, frankly symbolic, issues, such as on which days of the week could the British Union flag be flown over Belfast city hall.

You might conclude, as most people do, that the Northern Irish are among the most stubbornly divided, batshit crazy people on earth.

Despite that, the British government has shown no inclination to revert to the old centralized rule from Westminster, while the terms of the Good Friday agreement that ended a vicious 30-year civil war never anticipated this rift known as Brexit and rather relied on not having to sort out the border issue all over again, removing, as it did, the border. Which is 300 miles long.

So, what could technology do?

Well, every sheep has its own “passport”. A sort of “baa-code”. All farm animals, every cow, pig, sheep or horse, have had to have individual numbered documentation tracking their progress from birth and vaccinations through to every movement off-farm and transhipment to slaughter, as part of the total traceability of foodstuffs imposed through the European Union since the late 1990s and the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE), that still has to kill many thousands of people who ate contaminated beefburgers at the time. (The gestation period is up to 50 years.)

One suspects Mr Johnson and several older members of the cabinet may well be coming down with it. (We are also waiting cynically for John Selwyn Gummer’s daughter, to whom as Agriculture Minister he force-fed burgers to prove they were fit for consumption, to succumb. Sorry, I just loathe Tories. I expect she does, too.)

So it is perfectly possible using GPS in combination with 5G, using implants, to track the movements of every member of the doomed livestock community, that we should not be eating for the planet’s sake, but which we could nevertheless tax to our hearts’ content, knowing exactly where they have been and when throughout their too-short lives.

Then, were I to walk out of my local supermarket with any inanimate object valued by the retailer at more than a couple of quid and bearing some kind of transponder, klaxons would sound and the large security man would pounce on me to demand restitution or, more probably, my imprisonment.

If it can be done cheaply in shop doorways, surely similar tracking of goods and people across invisible boundaries is possible? It would require vast computing power to track billions of movements of goods and people via GPS, and automatically debit their bank accounts, but it can be done. The cost would initially be terrifying, but by scrapping the silly £100 billion-and-counting HS2 vanity project and ignoring our £1.3 trillion national debt, it might be done.

There are surely enough investors out there with money burning holes in their pockets to make the lucrative practise of customs control a viable business proposition.

If we really have to.

 

So, Farewell then, David Koch, 79. Net worth $51 billion. In a special tribute, Granny Weatherwax writes: “Did you take it with you, you fucking greedy, hypocritical little piece of ecocidal shit? I hope you died screaming.”

 

The madness of King Donald

Departing this weekend’s G7 in Biarritz, Trump put in an impassioned plug for holding the next one at his Doral golf resort in Florida, insisting to world leaders: “I’m not interested in money”.

According to a new report by Citizens For Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, thanks to his refusal to divest from his business interests as required in the constitution, including his golf resorts, Trump has been involved in more than 2,300 financial conflicts of interest benefitting himself since taking office.

Trump has tweeted-out his approval of a comment by a conspiracy-theory-peddling radio show host that Jews in Israel regard him as their “King”, and believe that he is “The Second Coming” of the Christ. Pundits rushed to point out that, technically, real Jews are still awaiting The First Coming. He later informed the servile gaggle of journalists on the White House lawn that he is “The Chosen One”. No-one dared to question it.

On numerous recorded occasions, President Trump has, for whatever reason, told his dumbfuck supporters and even business delegates that “five or maybe even six years, even before I thought of running for President”, he was named Michigan’s “Man of the Year”.

There is no such award. Oh, and he first announced he was thinking of running for President in 1988.

Twice in the past week Trump has asked aides for input on “his” idea of dropping thermonuclear bombs on hurricanes as they form off the African coast, to prevent them reaching the USA. The NOAA has humbly responded that it might not be such a great idea for the rest of the planet, and wouldn’t work anyway. (The average hurricane generates energy equivalent to a 10 megaton bomb every 20 minutes.)

The White House rushed to clear up a statement he made at the G7, that Melania Trump had met with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un and agrees with him, what a great guy the world’s most murderous dictator is. She never has met him. New spokesmouth, Stephanie Grisham explained, the President really meant that the First Lady just “feels like” she has got to know him well.

A photo of Melania at the G7, looking like she couldn’t wait to get her lipgloss around Justin Trudeau’s manly dick, has gone viral.

And, though it’s been widely reported, it’s worthwhile recording – lest we forget – last week, Trump proposed buying Greenland from the Danish crown. Rebuffed by Denmark’s young female PM, he went off on one, calling her “nasty” and cancelling a proposed visit to Copenhagen. Two days later, after a phone call between them, he described her as “a wonderful woman.”

In much the same vein, he flip-flopped twice in the week on tougher background checks for gun buyers and once on cutting payroll taxes to boost the economy, while at the same time asking in a notorious tweet, who is the bigger enemy of America, President Xi of China or his own appointee, Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powel? (misspelling Powell’s name). Leading economists described his tweet as “crazy”.

As Anderson Cooper commented, it’s one thing for a President to make policy reverses – another, when he doesn’t himself seem to know or care what, if anything, his own words mean, or what he has said, from one day to the next.

The wit and wisdom of Donald J Windbag:

“I think I know more about the environment than most.” (Spoken at a press conference at the G7 in Biarritz.)

 

White supremacists in Arkansas have cut down a tree planted to commemorate the Elaine massacre in 1919 of up to 800 African Americans across the state.

 

Jazz alert

Music, history.

Since returning from a full-on week trapped in an agreeable French location with a bunch of musicians – amazing professionals as well as stumbling amateurs like me – I’ve tried to avoid falling into the trap of telling myself, enough is enough, and kept listening to jazz since arriving back earlier in the evening than I had feared; despite the delay at Shrewsbury caused by a passenger claiming to have had their luggage stolen with their ticket in it.

Thus I have discovered the lovely Robert Glasper, to whom I am listening a lot.

However, last night I devoted twenty or-so minutes to watching the outstanding young Afro-British cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year award, playing the Elgar concerto at the Proms.

I have to say, emotionally engaged though he always is, and technically superb, I found the whole thing a trifle perfunctory. Perhaps because there’s nothing much more anyone can do to flog new life into this old, post-First World War nostalgia-horse, but partly also because the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra all looked supremely bored. In particular, the violinist with a ginger beard seated immediately behind the soloist, who kept rolling his eyes and pulling disdainful faces, who should be moved or sacked.

Right now, however, I am writing with one brain while riveted on YouTube by the other to a filmed 1965 Belgium tour performance by the John Coltrane quartet, music of an octane so high I am writing this on the ceiling for safety. I had not come across the video before. It is, quite simply, whatever your level of understanding of music, whatever genre and Magus you believe to hold the One True Flame, spectacular and, indeed, magisterial.

The concert – only 37 minutes survives – is performed to a packed house. Wondering in passing what Sir Edward would make of it (I imagine his patrician old head exploding, the sound reverberating ominously around the Malvern hills – although, let’s remember, he lived on well into the Jazz age – perhaps not jazz quite like this), to the accompaniment of the unbearably suspended tension of a 396-bar (okay, I haven’t counted them. It’s several minutes long), positively heroic, symphonic solo by Tyner on what is surely Coltrane’s best-ever production of “My Favorite Things”, I was moved to post this Comment underneath:

“Belgium, 1965. The year the murderous kleptocrat (and reputed cannibal) dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko finally seized power in the African nation with the worst history of white colonial brutality of all, the Belgian Congo. The true “Heart of Darkness”. Not a single black person in the audience. And yet… they’re sucking this coruscating black anger up and owning it. Funny old world.”

John Coltrane (ts, ss), McCoy Tyner (p), Jimmy Garrison (b), Elvin Jones (dr).

 

Eat your little hearts out, Trump, Putin….

In 1970, supported by the Americans, the increasingly unhinged Mobutu held an election in the DRC to consolidate his rule. The only candidate, he won with a vote of 10,131,669 to 157. (Wikipedia)

 

GW: The weather here has been as nice as it can be

Okay, I am going to mention this. During the late June heatwave in which parts of France saw record 45 deg. temperatures, it was pointed out that the new record maximum, at 5 deg. C above the old, roughly, was in itself a record increase in the record.

Announcing the hottest ever August Bank Holiday Monday in Britain, the Met Office said today, temperatures had reached 33.2C (91.8F) at Heathrow by 14:16 BST, beating the previous record of 28.2C set two years ago. (BBC)

I think we can draw from that, that summer maximum temperatures in northern Europe are running roughly 5 deg. higher now than they were only a few years ago.

Buckle up.

(And today in Boglington-on-Sea it’s 15C. Brrr.)

China: “At least 9 people have died and 35 are missing after torrential rain caused flooding, mudslides and debris flows in Sichuan province on 20 August, 2019. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated , including thousands of tourists. Roads have been blocked and bridges damaged, making access to affected areas extremely difficult. Provincial disaster authorities were using helicopters to access areas and deliver relief supplies.” (Floodlist) And: “4 people were dead with 11 others reported missing after multiple mudslides hit Wenchuan County, SW China’s Sichuan Province” (citing People’s Daily).

Wunderground adds: “Severe flooding and landslides have killed more than 200 people within two months across China. More than 60 people are missing, and about 1.3 million people were displaced.”

Philippines: 2 people have died in landslides and floods in the Philippines, where Laoag City is under a state of “calamity”. and 1 in Taiwan after strong winds and torrential rain brought by Tropical Storm Bailu. 9 people were injured in further weather-related incidents in southern Taiwan, where over 750mm of rain fell in 48 hours. Thousands of households were left without power and transport was severely interrupted, including dozens of flights. (Floodlist)

Laos: Northern provinces have been affected by flooding after heavy rain. (Floodlist)

Nigeria: Flooding has been reported in numerous states since around 16 Aug., leaving houses and crops destroyed and causing fatalities. Flooding has also affected some central areas of the country, including near the capital, Abuja, and in Niger State where the city of Bida recorded 86mm of rain in 24 hours to 23 Aug. (Floodlist)

A large and potentially devastating series of fires is raging in Central and parts of Southern Africa. Among the regions at risk is the Congo Basin forest, the second-largest tropical rainforest after the Amazon, mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (NYT)

Spain: “The streets of Madrid have been turned into rivers as flash-flooding and hail inundate Spain’s capital. One of the worst affected neighbourhoods was Arganda del Rey where cars were washed away in the torrents of water while huge piles of hail built up along some streets. The Spanish subway department declared several metro stations and highways closed.” (Guardian, 27 Aug. – video http://www.theguardian.com/global/video/2019/aug/27/piles-of-hail-flash-floods-and-a-tornado-hits-spain-video ) In other news, a “spectacular” and “brutal” tornado grazed the Andalucian town of Campillos, near Malaga, leaving residents and tourists shaken but unharmed. Yellow weather warnings are still in place for “torrential” rain. (Various media)

A severe storm hit the Valencia region on 20 August, 2019, causing flash flooding in parts of the provinces of Castellón, Alicante and Valencia. (Summer rainfall records tumbled.) Some areas recorded more than 40mm of rain in less than 1 hour. El Toro in Castellón recorded 41.8mm of rain in 20 minutes.” (Floodlist) The severe weather events follow another strong plume of N African heat pushing up across Europe.

Guatemala: Heavy rain has caused flooding and landslides in several departments over the last few days.

Bolivia: As fires continue to rage in Brazil, nearly a million hectares (6,200 sq miles) of farmland and unique dry forest have been destroyed by weeks of blazes across the border in Bolivia, where the flames have now reached the country’s Amazon region. Ironically, while Bolsonaro expresses contempt for threatened tribal peoples and encourages big business to destroy the Amazon rainforest, Bolivia’s President Morales, himself from a tribal background, thought he was doing the indigenous peoples of the forest a good turn by licensing them to clear more farmland. (Guardian)

Your Gran remarks, bitterly: All such squalid, greedy, pig-ignorant eco-criminals should be dragged out of their fucking palaces and hanged in the public square.

USA: The last week of August is likely to bring yet more heavy rain, lightning, big hail and flooding to the already rain-sodden Great Plains. (The Weather Channel). Lightning struck a flag-pin on a golf course in N Carolina leaving an interesting pattern of scorch marks around what locals are promoting as “God’s hole-in-one”. 6 people were injured by a lightning strike at a PGA tournament in Atlanta. Multiple homes were evacuated in Los Angeles on 25 Aug, after a wildfire started in Eagle Rock. 44 hikers were evacuated from a national park in Arizona because of lethally high temperatures. Rivers in Alaska are “too hot” for salmon to spawn, threatening the fishing industry. (Accuweather)

Floodlist reports (27 Aug.): Thunderstorms and heavy rain brought flash flooding to parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma from 24 August. Among the worst hit areas was Fort Smith, NW Arkansas, where police report that 1 person died when a vehicle was swept off a road by swift waters. Accuweather reported, the area received 8.5-in of rain in two days, 4 times the normal monthly total.

Barbados: “A tropical storm warning is in effect for Barbados in advance of Tropical Storm Dorian, a compact system that has the potential to strengthen quickly. Tropical storm watches have been hoisted for St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines. (The Weather Channel). Monday 26 Aug.: “Tropical Storm Dorian is headed toward the Windward Islands where it will bring heavy rain and strong winds later Monday into Tuesday, but has an uncertain future beyond that in the Caribbean Sea.” (The Weather Channel). An NHS forecast puts Puerto Rico in its sights as Dorian intensifies to a possible hurricane by the weekend.

UK: A new record temperature was set for the late August bank holiday weekend, with 33.3C recorded at Heathrow on 25th. It’s the second time in one day that the record has been broken after a temperature of 31.6C was recorded earlier – beating the 31.5C record set at Heathrow in 2001 (Independent). Monday is expected to go fractionally hotter still (BBC). The UK has experienced several new record highs this year. Most of eastern central and northern Europe is headed for 35C, 96F all this week, with the heat pushing up into Scandinavia by the weekend. (Severe-weather.eu)

Greece: “Hundreds of tourists were evacuated from hotels and beaches on the Greek island of Samos where a wildfire broke out Saturday, officials said. Nearly 70 firefighters and 13 engines were battling the fire in the east of the Aegean island. Around 1,000 people were evacuated to the nearby town of Pythagoreio from several hotels.” (Daily Sabah) “Over 50 fires have broken out nationwide over the last 24 hours, fanned by gale-force winds, the fire department said.”

Turkey: “Two people were injured in the Black Sea town of Terme, Turkey, on Monday, Aug. 26, when a city bridge collapsed after a period of heavy rain.” (Accuweather)

Poland: “At least four people died and more than 100 were injured in lightning strikes during a thunderstorm. The worst hit a group of hikers at the summit of Giewont, a popular peak in the Tatra range in the south of the country. A fifth person was killed in neighbouring Slovakia. At least one of the victims was said to be a child. The storm is said to have descended suddenly after a sunny morning.” (BBC)

Australia: “Firefighters were racing to tame an enormous blaze in southeastern Australia with officials warning it could merge with others to create a “mega-fire” if weather conditions worsen. Crews have been battling fires that flared in high winds and searing heat across the state of New South Wales last week with more than 200 homes so far destroyed and many others damaged.” (Telegraph, 27 Aug.) More than 40 fires have been burning across Tasmania, while more than 100 fires were burning in Queensland, 23 Aug, where 1 person has died. (9 News) Meanwhile the forecast is for cold fronts bringing heavy rain across much of the country. Fucking weird.

Australia has just experienced its third-hottest July (a late mid-winter month) on record, beaten only by records set in 2017 and 2018, as fire and water authorities in the eastern states prepare for a worse than average fire season. The year-to-date temperatures from January to July were the second warmest on record, according to a monthly statement from the Bureau of Meteorology. (Guardian) (Let’s recollect that midsummer in Australia is 21 December.)

Tunnel approaching….

Yellowstone: While your Uncle has been away, a M5.4 earthquake under the Cosco volcanic field in SW California set off a new swarm of quakes over in the Yellowstone caldera. The Blessed Mary Greeley records the epicenter as being not far from the China Lake military base and geothermal pumping operations.

As news reports of a M2.9 quake triggered by fracking operations near Blackpool, England, were coming in, the biggest yet, renewing calls for a permanent suspension, there was a M4.5 beneath the Kansas fracking zone, showing that quakes caused by hydraulically fracturing substrata have a cumulative effect and tend to get larger over time. (Dutchsinse)

NASA reports, a 340-meters-wide asteroid called Apophis, after the Egyptian god of Chaos, will whizz by Earth at an altitude of just 19 thousand miles in 2029. (Express, currently obsessed with clickbaiting readers fearful of apocalyptic asteroid strikes, most of which happened millions of years ago – old news.) That’s within the margin of error for orbital calculations and brings this potential planet-killer inside the orbits of our weather satellites. But don’t worry, etc., plenty more out there.

Why we need to ban fracking now… The Ruling Class… Boris lays an egg… GW: As yet, there seems to be no weather

Boris Johnson holds a chicken at Shervington Farm near Newport, south Wales.

“This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you…”

(alternatively: “Have you met my new Head of Communications?”)

 

“Spikes in toxic air pollution accompany fracking wherever it goes. Drinking water is destroyed. Earthquakes are triggered. Abandoned wells leak. Pipelines explode. Climate-killing methane escapes from every component part. And nearby residents are suffering health problems consistent with their exposures—including newborn infants.” – Sandra Steingraber, PhD, of Concerned Health Professionals of New York (commenting on PSR report, March 2018)

New York State, which has no known gas reserves, banned fracking in 2012. In March 2017, Maryland became the first state in the US with proven gas reserves to pass a law banning fracking. Britain, however, continues to welcome the industry with police dogs.

Why we need to ban fracking now….

I wonder, does anyone now not imagine that whatever our government says about anything it is responsible for – the effects of austerity policies on poverty and educational standards, for instance – it is lying to us?

A spokeswoman from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Independent climate experts have recognised that natural gas has a role to play as we meet our 2050 net zero emissions target – now firmly set in law.

“Exploring the potential of a new domestic energy source is not only compatible with these world-leading climate goals, it could also deliver substantial economic benefits, through the creation of well-paid, high-quality jobs.” (Guardian)

Thus, the civil service in its scientific pig-ignorance and lazy habit of dissimulating dismisses Jeremy Corbyn’s request that the government should reverse-ferret their craven policy on fracking – the hydraulic fracturing – Americans can’t pronounce fracturing – of underground shale deposits to force “natural” gas to the surface.

A toxic cocktail of chemicals dissolved in a large volume of otherwise drinkable water is pumped at high pressure into the brittle layers of rock formed from successive seasons of ancient floodplain siltation, to crack them apart and drive out the trapped gas. Not all of it is captured; excess is generally flared off.

“Natural gas (also called fossil gas) is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, but commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or helium.” (Google)

At this point, one should emphasise perhaps that, no, dear Government spokeshitter, “natural” gas – a fossil fuel – is not “new”, or different from, or better for the environment than the carbon dioxide driven off by burning anything – coal, wood, charcoal, garbage – briquettes from the garage. That it might be, is a lie promulgated by the PR boys of the energy industry.

It is simply a matter of relative management efficiency as to how much risk is created.

As your unscientific Uncle B. explains, based on superficial “research” (generally, reading the first paragraphs of articles on Wikipedia):

Methane – CH4, a compound of carbon and hydrogen – decays relatively quickly in the atmosphere. The single carbon atom binds with two oxygen atoms to make carbon dioxide (CO2). During the first ten years of dissipation, CH4 is up to 150 times more efficient a reserve of latent heat than CO2, a “greenhouse gas”, which remains in the atmosphere for a hundred years or more. Contrary to popular belief, vegetation does not absorb it all; and when vegetation dies, the CO2 is released once more to the atmosphere.

While we read that the average concentration of free CO2 in the atmosphere has risen from 280 to 415 parts per million since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the “carbon equivalent” of all the so-called heat-retaining greenhouse gases, including CH4 – as well as oxides of nitrogen and various chlorine compounds (e.g. CFCs), sulphur dioxide and even water vapor – is now over 560 parts per million; it having been calculated donkeys’ years ago, that a doubling of the CO2 content (which this is) would produce 5 degrees Celsius of heat-forcing – recognized now as probable extinction level for most species on earth.

Of further concern to us, at least for now, is that beyond 5 degrees, runaway heating rapidly extrapolates to produce an atmosphere that no longer supports any kind of life. Nothing like this has been experienced in the history of the earth, that was not caused by cataclysmic seismic events and, in the past, has not been recoverable over periods of millions of years.

So here we are.

Journalists continuing to parrot the “official” IPCC line that we face 4 degrees of warming possibly by 2100 and thus have ten years remaining in which to take remedial action; or the Paris line that an (already exceeded) 1.5 degrees is the limitation target to aim for by 2030, or that “sea-level rise” is the principal threat, are simply not looking where they are treading.

In all likelihood, not a few scientists believe, there is no drawing back from 5 degrees, possibly before 2030. Unless the “official” sources can all work from the same baseline and sing from the same hymn sheet as to the probability of outcomes, they have to stop playing this meaningless numbers game. It’s just confusing people.

As the atmosphere heats up, which it is doing alarmingly quickly now – remembering that most of the “global warming” has thus far been absorbed in the sea – CH4 release from various sources is also speeded up. The Arctic permafrost is one potential source of huge volumes – planet-killing volumes – of methane, which is detectably pouring out by land and sea from northerly regions where overland temperatures this summer have reached 35C.

This is known as a “feedback loop” – the more the atmosphere heats, the more greenhouse gases are released from natural carbon “sinks”. But there are many such feedbacks in play (and let’s not keep crossing our wires: global heating is not a cause of, or caused by, or even the same issue as, plastics pollution, the latest distraction.)

It is thus debatable that producing and burning more “natural” gas is going to have any effect other than to make it totally impossible to reach the already futile goal of a net zero emissions target by 2050 – by which time, at the present rate of emissions, we shall have ceased to exist for all economic purposes as a species.

It is bizarre, is it not, that while oil and gas frackers are forcing carbon out of the ground in this brutal way, willed on by governments, the same governments are speaking optimistically of technologies that will lock carbon from burning fossil fuel back under the ground.

The government knows perfectly well that to achieve zero “net emissions” implies carbon trading – offloading our own excess emissions totals onto less polluting – i.e. poorer – countries. It’s inconceivable that even becoming 100% reliant on renewables for electricity generation we could stop emitting carbon from all sources without the complete cessation of economic activity, including mechanized transport. Polite though it is to refer to relative “per capita” emissions rather than gross annual tonnage, industrialization of the developing world by any and all technological means, including fossil fuels, is not going to stop for us.

And when governments stress the economic and social importance of GDP, and of Trade, well, both depend on increasing energy-reliant production. There is no saving us from that.

But there’s more:

” A (2018) report by two leading health professional organizations—Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York—tracks and analyzes the rapidly emerging science that points to the increasing dangers to health, including respiratory disease, cancer risk, and low birth weight and preterm birth, both of which are leading causes of infant death.” (PSR website)

So, here is important research that, as far as I can determine, has been completely ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media since its publication, 17 months ago.

The two organizations conducted a meta-analysis of more than 1,300 peer-reviewed papers from the previous ten years on the health risks to local communities associated with fracking, finding that almost all raised serious concerns. “Substantial scientific evidence now leaves no question that drilling and fracking cause serious harms to public health.”

What was that about “substantial economic benefits”? “Quality jobs”? (we already have nearly full employment, as people on minimum wage scurry about like ants, burning oil and delivering things to other people on minimum wage).

A 2017 article in Forbes magazine reported:

“An epidemiological study of more than 400,000 patients of Pennsylvania’s Geisinger clinic, done with Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, found a significant association between fracking and increases in mild, moderate and severe cases of asthma. Toxic gases like benzene are released from the rock by fracking. … These noxious chemicals and particulates are also released by the diesel powered pumps used to inject the water.”

The author, Judy Stone goes on to excoriate the Environmental Protection Agency under Trump’s appointed energy-industry shill, Scott Pruitt, for deliberately downplaying the health risks of fracking to local communities. As far as I know, our own Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs has never even mentioned that there are any.

On shaky ground

Then there is the, as yet minor, problem of seismic disturbance. Over the course of 30 years or so, the frequency and magnitude of earthquakes in so-called fracking zones in US states like Colorado, Arkansas Texas and California where this method of extraction is extremely popular, and gas fields cover millions of acres with tens of thousands of pumping stations, heedless of whoever lives nearby, has been amplified a thousandfold.

The rule in Britain is that, if an earth tremor is recorded centered on a fracking site at M0.5 or more on the Richter scale, drilling has to stop for a survey to be carried out. This has happened many times, much to the annoyance of the Government-approved contractor, Cuadrilla. A M0.5 earthquake is barely detectable on the surface and causes no damage – other than to release more methane to the environment. No wonder they get cross.

Over the years, however, earthquakes in America associated with fracking operations have continued to grow in size. Colorado, for instance, would experience a M3.0 earthquake possibly three times a year. That figure is now over 800, and magnitudes of M4.0 are common (Janitch, citing USGS). “Each unit of magnitude represents a nearly 32-fold increase in the energy (strength) of an earthquake.” (Wikipedia).

There is no reason to suppose that the British substratum is any less faulted; although not, of course, anything like California’s notorious seismic instability, and that we are somehow immune to earthquakes. Actually, we get small ones all the time.

While the industry continues to deny it, their operations in the USA have polluted and overdepleted reserves of groundwater – the depletion of reservoirs is also a cause of earth tremors – depriving communities and farmers of safe drinking water and irrigation supplies, at a time when long-term drought is assisting the process.

Householders have reported adverse effects, such as methane leaking into their homes; famously, water coming from taps has been videoed, catching on fire. That the malignant Trump administration continues to rollback regulations governing fracking is surely in itself an acknowledgement of the dangers.

The British government’s line on fracking is pernicious nonsense, and they know it. They are lying to us, as usual. We need to wean ourselves off dependency on gas as a domestic fuel ASAP and not pretend that the word “natural” is anything other than a marketing ploy. There is nothing natural about fracking.

If there is the slightest possibility that once they got into power a Corbyn or other Labour government would stop it, we need to vote for them.

But don’t hold your breath.

http://www.psr.org/blog/2018/03/13/a-new-fracking-landscape-report-on-recent-science-shows-overwhelming-evidence-of-harm/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2017/02/23/fracking-is-dangerous-to-your-health-heres-why/#4161be995945

http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/ (“Smoke Covers Much Of Siberia” – 25 July)

 

The Ruling Class

(This piece first appeared in The Pumpkin, Issue 92. It has since undergone editing to make it more insulting.)

Puce-faced, bug-eyed, apoplectic, squirearchical Tory caricature, Mark Field MP, the biological equivalent of a “John Bull” Toby jug, a man reared entirely on bloody beef and claret, has been “pardoned” by Boris Johnson, who has called off an internal inquiry into a violent incident witnessed by millions, saying it was “a matter for the previous Prime Minister.”

Classic overgrown public-school sneering patrician bully-boy, Field was caught on camera at a black-tie do for the ruling financial elite, grabbing a peaceful young female Greenpeace climate protester by the throat and smashing her into a pillar, before frogmarching her by the neck out of the room, as the other hooray-Henries cheered. No apology has been audibly or visibly forthcoming.

Crimes of violence obviously ceased to be crimes at the stroke of midnight, the night Mrs May stepped down and “Minority Johnson” stepped up. The odious Johnson – Boris Notgodunov, as we continue to call him, with reference to the Mussorgsky opera –  is greenlighting violence against women, which is hardly unexpected, given the alarm of his former neighbours.

The monstrous dictatorship of the Bullingdon Club is rising.

We have been warned.

 

Boris lays an egg

“The new head of communications to the prime minister of the United Kingdom used to dress up as a chicken and heckle Tory politicians, his former employer has said. Lee Cain, who has been appointed as Boris Johnson’s chief spin doctor, was previously a Fleet Street (Mirror) journalist.” – Guardian, 30 July.

Needless to add, he also worked for Vote.Leave. Virtually the whole of Johnson’s administration is pro-Brexit, many the harder the better. That compares with just under half the people – 16 million – who voted in the 2016 referendum to Remain.

The 48% now has zero representation in government; while many Leave voters who did not anticipate leaving in complete chaos with no trade agreements or customs protocols in place and foreign employers abandoning the UK in droves, while Scotland secedes from the Union, Wales bleats and terrorism returns to Northern Ireland, and the Tories double-down on privatizing the NHS, also go unheard.

Democracy in action.

 

Well, fuck you too

A Reader asks, am I planning to make satirical remarks about Jacob Rees-Mogg, and the old story recently revived, that he has issued a grammar book of his own invention to his new staff at whatever blighted ministry Notgodunov has sent him to, presumably in a sedan chair borne through well-paid crowds chanting hozannahs.

As it is something I have frequently come to blows over with Commissioning Editors, the use of “due to” when you should say “owing to”, I would just like to mention that, if in the unlikely scenario the limpid Victorianist were to be standing mistakenly on the wrong platform, say Platform 9, at Paddington station, when the announcer informed him that “the train now due to depart from Platform 4 is the 3.25 to Minehead” and he were to throw a conniption fit, blasting the poor woman for saying “due to” instead of “owing to”, as per his grammatical instructions, people would think him an ill-mannered brute and a complete tosser who deserved to miss his train.

I made a similar point to the Grauniad only yesterday and was mortified to find my Comment had been blocked by the Moderator, even though I used asterisks.

Well, fuck you too.

(I can say what I like on my own site!)

PS – This is Post #799… Which means the next one will be #800! Another milestone passed! Cheers!

 

GW: As yet, there seems to be no weather

All I have to report as of today is a tropical ‘disturbance’ bringing heavy rain to Puerto Rico, that Accuweather says might turn into something more; twins, who may have died because they were left in a hot car in New York; more possible flooding heading northeast out of the midwest (yawn); a plague of locusts in Las Vegas; possible Tropical Storm Wipha organizing east of the Philippines; forests dying because of the long drought affecting Germany.

Wunderground has: “Two well-organized tropical storms are on track to become potent hurricanes as they head from the Eastern toward the Central Pacific. Hawaiians should keep an eye on both, although the second one—Flossie—appears to be the main concern. Meanwhile, the Atlantic continues to percolate (sic) with tropical waves that aren’t managing to organize into full-fledged cyclones just yet.” The recent heatwave in Europe is still moving warm air and water northwards into the Arctic, where it’s been warm and sunny all summer. Sea ice extent is only a little greater than the record low of 2012 (that was enabled by a subtropical cyclone) with two months to go before the September minimum, while its overall volume is already the lowest ever recorded.

Pip pip!

 

Is Trump in fact God?… Melted cheese… About face… GW: It’s raining, Hamburgers… Bee minus..

“I do not know the ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the US.” No, Donald, and neither are you, so stop interfering in our domestic politics.

Trump reacts badly to British diplomatic cables hinting he’s totally unfit to be the President.

 

Is Trump in fact God?

It was while I was out walking Hunzi this morning along the cycle path through the exurban space that passes for our local park, that it suddenly struck me.

Trump might be God, after all.

The Biblical resemblances are striking. And many people think he is. Especially himself.

As the great Christopher Hitchens liked to point out, the God everyone is obliged to worship now, the one called, surprisingly, just “God”, which is not his real name, obviously, is only one of hundreds, if not thousands of claimants for the title of Supreme Being down the millennia.

There’s no reason to believe that just because He told everyone He was God, He (I use the male pronoun advisedly – there are two Gods in the OT and the God of Genesis in the garden is definitely female), the Biblical God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has any more right to a claim for apotheosis than, say, Julius Caesar, who officially became a God by way of the cult that surrounded victorious Roman leaders, and whose son Augustus took on the mantle after him, but in a more cosmological way.

After all, if you really ARE God, you wouldn’t need to go around telling people, would you? Just like, if you were really a stable genius….

The Romans, of course, had lots of God-cults, many of them borrowed from the Greeks. The Greek word Zeus, meaning God, the Supreme Being, the top dog, is the same as the Roman word Deus, from which we derive the word deity; although he had a name, Apollo – the Sun God. Religious cults, to the Romans, were like the rap artists of their day, they had their fickle tribal followers. Some, more official than others, enjoyed State protection.

All the civilizations we know of have had their pantheon of Gods, starting with a Supreme Being at the top and working down through animistic ideas about the immanence of divinity – soul – in the very rocks, trees and rivers; many Gods taking on semi-human form shared identities with the celestial constellations. The Egyptian pharaoh, Akhenaton was the first ruler we know of, who decreed there was only the one true God. Like the Victorian-era’s star painter, JMW Turner, Akhenaton believed the sun was God. As the sun both gives and takes away life, it seemed a fair bet.

From that simple perception, half-baked by the sun, the three Abrahamic desert religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – developed the idea of the sun-God as the unique creator, and anthropomorphised him into the personified, living being of the earthly ruler, The Lord of Hosts, the Lord most High, whose divine authority reflected in a coercive priesthood on earth was to be upheld on pain of death.

The Christian religion especially, which merely introduced some Zoroastrian elements into Judaism, operated – and still does, outside the Church of England – as a patriarchal, authoritarian death cult, with the judicial murder of the avatar and his inspirational but unlikely survival of death at its center.

Still today, the Eucharist is celebrated every sabbath, or seventh, day – the “body and blood” of the avatar are symbolically or transformatively consumed by the worshippers, in a cannibalistic ritual administered by the sacerdos, or high priest, beneath the sculpted, 3D image of the bleeding Christ nailed to a tree. It’s all pretty weird and horrible, to be honest, but conducted in an atmosphere of such reverent good taste it remains popular with all ages. Millions of Christians have died at one anothers’ hands, arguing over this point.

Essentially, the picture we have of The Lord High God sitting on a throne with his “son”, the semihuman Jesus thoughtfully inserted on his right hand, surrounded by angels descending in rank beneath him betrays a unique symbiosis of religion and state bureaucracy.  Simultaneously, Chinese emperors demanded unquestioning obeisance to their own godhead; Confucianism being a kind of secular religion, a self-help system combining civic responsibility and a duty of personal growth with obedience to courtly ritual as the way to “the right life”; while later, blood-soaked sun worshipping cults developed in South America, founded on copious human sacrifice, that were ended only by an egregious program of genocide by Christ-cult Spanish colonialists and their followers, who came less to spread the Word of God than to steal gold.

It’s all a bit rackety, to be honest.

To gain an insight into Trump’s claim to Godhood, especially in light of his 4th of July parade this year, the Wikipedia page on the Imperial cult of Rome makes interesting reading. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_cult_of_ancient_Rome

Various American TV preachers have closely aligned Trump with God, or with God’s son Jesus, arguing that, despite his well-known venality, hatred of his neighbor, twice-divorced adulterous status and self-confessed record of sexual abuse, he was divinely appointed – God forgives everything (unless you’re a Muslim or a faggot) – and is thus to be unquestioningly obeyed.

Of course, child-rape and murder are mandated in the Bible, so they’re forgiven too. But not the taking of the as-yet unborn clump of insentient cells. That’s an unpardonable sin.

The slimy Jim Bakker, a TV preacher of virtually zero intellect who promotes his contemptible business brands as integral to his religious authority; the far-right evangelical nutjob, Pat Robertson; the several private aircraft-owning son of the conman, the late Jerry Falwell; and the son of Billy Graham, Franklin – the virulent homophobe who reputedly had a long-running and very expensive affair with a handsome young pool attendant – and others have commanded their followers to believe in Trump and his mission to “Make America Great Again”.

By that, they mean they believe they can more easily manipulate government policy through Trump to revoke the inconvenient First Amendment of the Constitution and institute a white, nominally Christian hegemonic state, antipathetic to women’s rights; and promote the more absurd notions of Biblical literalism in schools. Not only in the USA – more than $50 million is believed to have been channeled into subverting the 2019 European elections in support of Christian and alt-right parties.*

My sudden intuition however, that Trump might indeed BE God, was based on a recollection of a conversation I once had with my ex-wife, who impressively has a Master’s in Eastern Philosophy, concerning the curious individual in the Old Testament, known to us as Yahweh.

She pointed out a number of things the Bible records about him, that one might now reconsider in light of Trump’s known beliefs and behaviours. Here are three, plus one or two for luck:

First, he has an unusual diet. Like Trump and his overdone steaks, Yahweh needs a constant, high-carbon diet of burnt meat offerings to keep him going. Like Trump and his overdone steaks.

Secondly, like Trump, Yahweh demands total obedience and loyalty from his acolytes. He likes to be waited on, hand and foot. He demands constant praise, not only from the living, but from the dead, as well as the permanently employed angelic host, for all Eternity. What’s that, another 14 billion years?

Yet, like Trump, he has a contemptuous attitude towards those who genuflect to him. “Be still, and know that I am God!” He advocates the enslavement of women, the rape of the daughters; something of which Trump has been latterly accused in connection with his diabolical friend, Epstein.

Prayers for mercy mostly go unanswered; as with Trump, there is no certainty with Yahweh, except the unsupported sales patter that death somehow brings life. It’s easy to see the analogy with winter and spring; it’s an old pagan animist hangover. But when life is pretty much shit and you’ve got toothache….

Thirdly, Yahweh insists that Moses’ brother Aaron, whom he selects to be his Chief of Staff, should wear a covering made of gold in his presence. Gold, as my ex-wife pointed out, is better than lead as a shield against ionizing radiation. Like Trump, Yahweh is toxic to anyone who comes too near him.

And another point, Yahweh appears to have possessed something like a battlefield nuclear weapon, with which he could smite whole armies; evaporating them in a single strike. Trump has lots of those at his disposal, especially now he has abrogated the Intermediate Weapons treaty with Russia; and he thinks they can safely be used without going full megadeaths.

We jointly concluded from these and other nuggets that the Biblical description of how this domineering – demanding – and thoroughly selfish, self-regarding, malignant narcissist imposed itself as The One True God on the unsophisticated and deeply superstitious tribes of Israel, just as Trump has imposed his self-assumed divinity on the screaming, deluded dumbfucks of undereducated Middle America at his MAGA rallies, may well be the only historical record we have of an actual alien visitation.

No wonder the poor old Cathars of southern C13th France (exterminated in the Albigensian Crusade) believed the world was created by Satan, and you only got to live with a decent, fair-minded god after you died.

Let me add one further observation of my own.

My ex-wife’s take on the “burning bush” out of which Yahweh first spoke to Moses was that any Sci-fi addict would recognize a portal to another dimension, surrounded by a glowing energy field; while any semi-savage, illiterate, desert-dwelling nomad would naturally allegorize such an incomprehensible phenomenon as a “burning bush”.

I can easily see too, however, that any Big Brother, Love Island or The Apprentice addict would immediately conclude that what to a primitive herdsman would have been allegorized as Yahweh’s “burning bush” could equally well have been a TV screen, or some similar kind of projection device.

Maybe the same one from which the Orange Godhead speaks to his deplorables through his Chosen Servants: disciples Hannity, Ingraham, Coulter, Pirro, Carlson and the rest of the Trumpsuckers of Fox and Friends, forerunners of the priestly caste of Apostles who will preside over the new deserts and ruins of the post-Trumpian era after the Orange One is taken aloft by Executive Order.

*http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/covering-european-parliamentary-elections-2019/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=f3d0134cc1-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-f3d0134cc1-408090269

 

Dieu, ceci n’est pas un fromage… c’est du Cheddair Britannique! Ptah!

Melted cheese

When a French chef has a meltdown, it’s serious. M. Marc Veyron of La Maison des Bois in the Haute Savoie has demanded to be removed altogether from the Michelin guide after losing one of his coveted stars, which, he says, has left him in a state of depression for the past six months. Interviewed for Le Monde, M. Veyron went off on one, as they say:

“They dared to say that we put cheddar in our soufflé of réblochon, beaufort and tomme! They have insulted our region; my employees were furious. When we have eggs from our chickens, milk from our cows, and two botanists collect our plants every morning! They know absolutely nothing about cooking! … Let them put on an apron and get in the kitchen! We are waiting. Let them show us what they know how to do … they’re basically amateurs. They couldn’t cook a decent dish!” (and so on, for several paragraphs, in which M. Veyron expressed the opinion that the Michelin men hadn’t actually visited his premises at all.)

The Guide replied they were sorry he was upset, but they would continue to recommend his restaurant as long as their expert inspectors did so. (Guardian)

 

Fore! No, five!

Several children’s charities have pulled out of a fundraising event sponsored by a strip club, after discovering that the highlight of the evening was to be an auction of naked or nearly naked women to the male donors in the room.

The women were to act as “caddies” for the men. Oh yes, did we forget to mention, this was at Donald Trump’s southern Florida golf club, Doral? The event has been cancelled. (TYT/Slate)

 

About face

Federal authorities are fining Facebook $5 billion for their part in the Cambridge Analytica data mining scandal when, in advance of the 2016 US elections and of the Brexit referendum, over 90 million Facebook profiles were exploited for political purposes by the UK-based company run by Steve Bannon and funded by billionaire disruptor, Robert Mercer and his fundamentalist Christian daughter ‘Bekah.

Most people seem to regard the fine – less than one month’s revenue – as a mere slap on the wrist, given the enormity of the offence. The FCA committee voted 3-2 on a Republican majority against Democratic objections that the fine was meaningless. Other suits are pending against Facebook over the breach of confidentiality, so it might cost them more in the long run, and there are moves by the antiTrust committee in Congress to have the giant IT corporations broken up, but for now they seem free to carry on as normal.

Odd, then, that US authorities are threatening dire reciprocal action over new French moves to ensure that companies like Facebook pay taxes on their local sales, rather than on the tiny profits they declare on their ginormous turnover in other, lower-tax regimes where they register shell companies.

Or maybe not so odd: America First!

 

GW: It’s raining, Hamburgers

Europe: Your granny finds it difficult to follow-up these Severe-weather.eu reports as they have cut right back on editorial content lately, but the forecast on 09 July for north central Italy, up through the Balkans, into western Russia and across to Georgia and northern Turkey, was for supercell storms bringing high winds, heavy rain – hailstones up to 3-in. in diameter; and it is far from the first of its kind this year. Among the consequences:

  • 6 tourists and a fisherman have been killed and dozens of people injured in a fierce storm in northern Greece, that ripped a caravan and a restaurant apart. Strong winds and hail hit the Halkidiki region near the city of Thessaloniki late on 10 July. Television footage showed overturned cars, fallen trees, torn roofs and mudslides. The freak storm lasted about 20 minutes. Temperatures had soared to 37C (98.6F) over the past two days. (Guardian)
  • An extremely severe thunderstorm hit Pescara (Abruzzo, central Italy) in the afternoon of 10 July. The thunderstorm produced very large to giant hail, with hailstones up to 15 cm (6-in.) in diameter, severe straight line winds and intense flash floods. (Severe-weather.eu)
  • Up to 160mm of rain fell in a few hours in NE Spain on 08 July, causing flash floods in the Navarre region. I person drowned, and “the regional government said the material damage was far-reaching. The N-121 road between Pamplona and Tudela was washed out. Rail transport was also interrupted, as was power supply to thousands of homes.” (Floodlist)
  • Accuweather reports: “A strong storm struck Venice, Italy, on 7 July, creating mayhem for cruise ships attempting to dock. 60 mph winds flung lounge mattresses and other furniture about aboard the cruise ship Azamara Pursuit and another ship, the Costa Deliziosa, had a close call with a dock in the high winds.”
  • While parts of Britain are facing almost a month’s worth of rain in the space of a couple of hours. The Met Office has issued a storm warning for much of Scotland and the north of England, with possibly life-threatening flooding on 11 and 12 July. (BBC)

China: In an Accuweather report on 03 July that we missed: A very rare tornado struck northeast China’s Liaoning Province on Wednesday, causing significant damage and killing at least 6 people. Almost 200 were injured as the powerful storm devastated an industrial zone of Kaiyuan, destroying buildings and throwing cars in the air. There were also reports of people trapped in the rubble of a collapsed factory.

Elsewhere, flooding continues as heavy rain persists over Shangxi province and a warning is out for the mighty Yangtse River to overflow. Evidence that rainfall is intensifying comes from the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief. Since the start of the annual flood season this year, they report, a total of 279 rivers in 17 provinces were struck by floods above-warning level, 50 percent higher than that of the same period in any year since 1998. (UN ReliefWeb)

India: 3 people are now known to have died as rivers overflow and floodwaters continue to rise in Assam; almost a quarter of a million people are affected in over 500 villages, while 13 thousand Ha of agricultural land is underwater. Down south, a special train has been delivering drinking water to the city of Chennai, which has run dry. Patchy monsoon rains have failed to recharge the city’s reservoirs.

Nepal: “Monsoon rain in Nepal has destroyed buildings and caused flooding and landslides, leaving dozens dead or missing and hundreds displaced in several districts of the country, including the capital Kathmandu. As of 13 July, at least 29 people have died, 14 are missing and 24 injured. Hundreds of people have been displaced after their homes were damaged or destroyed.” (Floodlist)

Pakistan: A “glacial lake outburst” occurred in the remote Golen valley in Chitral District on 07 July. No fatalities were reported but the flooding has wiped out roads and bridges, leaving communities cut off and tourists stranded. Relief supplies are being air-dropped. Flooding has also damaged homes, farmland and power infrastructure. (From Floodlist)

Bangladesh: tens of thousands of people including many Rohingya refugees in border camps have been affected by severe flooding. “Rivers in at least 9 locations are at or above danger level, and 2 rivers in the east and south-east are at severe level (more than 1 metre above flood stage).” (Floodlist)

Russia: The extensive floods around Irkutsk in Siberia are continuing, but the death toll previously reported as 170 seems to have been revised to 23 (various sources). 8 others remain missing.

Australia: Queensland in the subtropical north has seen snow again for the first time in 4 years, while in the east, Sydney has been battered by severe windstorms now moving towards Perth. Three “pulses” of polar air in quick succession are forecast to bring cold, high winds and heavy rain to the south of the country and Tasmania. (Accuweather/News.au)

Some irony for Mr Trump in the name… Hamburg, Iowa, seen on 18 March. Flood damage estimated since at $3billion.

USA: Dozens of people had to be rescued from vehicles and flooded homes after record rain – up to 6.5-in. – caused rivers to rise rapidly in areas around Washington DC on 08 July. Storm cells are persisting over the NE. To the south, New Orleans had almost 6-in. of rain in 3 hours, with flash floods on 10 July, as Tropical Storm Barry grows offshore in the Gulf.*

There’s little sign of historic floods abating across three states of the midwest. The year to the end of June was the wettest 12-month span in US records since 1895 (Wunderground). Mr Trump has issued a bizarre speech hailing himself as a champion of the environment.

Updates: “Parts of Pennsylvania saw over 4 inches (101.6mm) of rain on 11 July, triggering flash floods and mudslides. Two people reportedly died after their vehicle was swept away by flood waters.” (Floodlist) Tropical Storm Barry is expected to “achieve Cat 1 hurricane status by the time it comes ashore at the mouth of the Mississippi, 13 July. A state of emergency is declared in New Orleans” as 10 to 15-in. of rain (with “pockets” to 25-in. – Wunderground) is anticipated on top of last week’s flooding. (CNN)

*Dr Masters at Wunderground points out: as Tropical Storm Barry intensifies, the storm surge pushing up into New Orleans could meet the flood stage of the Mississippi coming down and potentially overtop the levees protecting the city.

Mexico: 7 people died when a house was swept away in a mudslide during heavy rain over Pueblo province.

Boglington-on-Sea: Your Granny W. was delighted to observe an unusual “rainbow” event the other evening when, at about 8pm, with the sun thinking about setting, two small clouds on either side of it began glowing with colours. Above them, jet trails had mixed with thin stratus cloud to form a curious, regular criss-cross pattern. The larger of the two then parted to allow a laser-like beam of white light to strike through it, as the area immediately around the hole glowed brightly, red, blue and green. The effect lingered for about ten minutes while I cursed myself silently for having left my phone at home.

Hurricanes: Your Granny has been asking myself why there has not yet been any sign of a hurricane event in the west Atlantic/Caribbean theatre, five weeks into the season.

It appears that the bizarre antics of the jetstream have created so much upper-level wind “shear” that the right atmospheric circulation cannot form – proto-storms are simply shredded before they can start to organize. While the sea is easily warm enough, 4C above the 26C level at which hurricanes form, there is so much Saharan dust in the atmosphere that it’s not wet enough aloft to make rainclouds.

Unexpected benefits there from a warming Arctic.

Wildfires: In Alaska during just the month of June wildfires emitted 50 million tonnes of CO2, as much as Sweden emits in an entire year.

Sweden. Who knew? Sweden!

Bee minus: The US Environment Protection Agency is reportedly about to license the use of yet another pesticide banned in some countries, despite research showing it may prevent bees from breeding. Sulfoxaflor is produced by Dow AgroSciences and sold under the ominous brand names Closer and Transform. (Guardian)

It comes as no surprise that the EPA is favorable towards yet another environmentally damaging industrial product from this industrial giant. Notoriously, in 2017 then-Director, Scott Pruitt, pushed through a re-license for another Dow product, Chlorpyrifos – overturning an Obama-administration ban – despite its known dangers. Harvard University reported:

“The most disconcerting effect of chronic exposure to chlorpyrifos is its potential to impair children’s developing brains.

http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/widely-used-pesticide-one-year-later/

Most Americans probably contain Chlorpyrifos, as it’s been widely used for years in household products too. Its effect on adults is to impair cognitive function, which might explain a lot. Oh, and in passing, the Harvard report mentions without a trace of irony: it “is also widely used in non-agricultural settings like golf courses”….

In case any evidence should emerge that Sulfoxaflor is a bee colony depletor, the Guardian reports, the agriculture department, which claims to protect pollinators, also recently suspended data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies survey. Commercial beekeepers reported a further 40 per cent collapse in colony numbers last year.

A 2018 report (among other sources) claimed:

“The Trump administration has had plenty of contact with Dow and DuPont. Last year, Dow Chemical bluntly asked the Trump administration to “set aside” research showing three of the organophosphate pesticides it manufactures pose threats to endangered species in letters obtained by the Associated Press.

“The request came after Dow donated $1 million to fund Trump’s inauguration ceremony.” (Sorry, reference source mislaid.)

Given that coal barons, the late Chris Cline (killed last month in a helicopter crash near his home in the Bahamas) and Robert E Murray both coincidentally donated $1 million to this mysterious Trump “inauguration fund”, and were the immediate beneficiaries of Executive Orders loosening restrictions on the mining industry, it would appear that the price of a favorable Government ruling on environmentally damaging activities and bee-killing products has been fixed.

Trump’s “inaugural fund” continued to attract industry cash long after the actual inauguration, and is being investigated by the Attorney General for the Southern District of New York as $50 million of it remains unaccounted for. It was certainly not spent on Mr Trump’s underwhelming inauguration celebrations.