An Apple a day…. Is the war in Afghanistan finally over?… Don’t mention the other war!… The madness of King Donald… GW: means Grotty Weather, of course.

Quote of the Week:

“At 6.25am, I catch the first bus back into town and begin a day of intensive shoplifting. Such is my life for as long as it lasts.” – Writer and broadcaster Wilfred De’Ath, who has died, aged 82. From his final column.

De’Ath spent the last many years of his life wandering the byways and alleyways of England and France as a persistent and always triumphantly annoying homeless man, a diabetic amputee, camping (though not always welcome) in often freezing churches and hospitals where sleep is discouraged, writing a wry monthly column for The Oldie magazine. Nurses especially were never safe from his clutches; his picaresque accounts of a life of boozy sexual conquests and his feeble defence of Jimmy Savile are unreliably awful.

A true English eccentric, he leaves one son, Charles.

 

“More than 80% of patients have mild disease and will recover, 14% have severe disease including pneumonia and shortness of breath, 5% have critical disease including respiratory failure, septic shock and multi-organ failure, and 2% of cases are fatal.

“The risk of death increases the older you are.” – WHO official.

Yes folks, it’s the Baby Boomer Plague!

Only avocado toast can save us.

 

British Home Secretary Priti Patel looks on as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairs a cabinet meeting. (Paul Ellis/Reuters)

“We’re only taking the brightest and the best. And you weren’t born here, BoZo, so you’re on the next charter flight to Patagonia.”

An Apple a day….

Poor Apple, thanks to Covid-19 unable to get any more iPhones and stuff made in and exported from China, their shares are down 4% today, 18 Feb. 4% of a trillion dollar market cap is a pretty big lot of money to you and me.

(Although, happy day, I’ve provisionally managed to sell one of my guitars over the weekend!)

No wonder so many Republican Senators and Steve Bannon are convinced it’s all a Chinese plot to destroy the US economy; claiming that a military-grade virus was deliberately let loose from a top secret government facility disguised as a fish market in Wuhan, or something.

Not going to win many wars with a 2% kill-rate and a 14-day incubation period, are they, these Chinese? Not going to defeat America with, what, 29 cases in three months, all of them caught abroad? When they’ve already killed off 2,000 of their own people?

What mysterious plague has infected these Republicans, I wonder?

They all seem to be utter cretins.

 

Corona v. Us

As 150 million Chinese remain in lockdown to try to contain what seems for most to be no worse than the usual seasonal ‘flu outbreaks everywhere gets this time of year – deaths from ‘flu in the USA are running well over 12 thousand and nobody seems in the slightest bit concerned – the Financial Times is speaking of the world economy in fretful terms: “Global outlook darkening.”

Except that reports of a tiny fall in the rate of infection in Wuhan pushed world markets up by 1% in overnight trading. They are nothing if not optimists, the men who bet on flies.

18 Feb., the number of cases on ‘death cruise’ ship, Diamond Princess, in Yokohama harbor has risen to 542, another 66 being confirmed overnight – including the Abels, a plucky British couple who have been bogling about it from their cabin and say they were frogmarched off to a hostel with no wi-fi or phone signal, protesting that they don’t have the disease and if they really do, why aren’t they in proper hospital? (Update: they are now. It pays to complain.)

The British government has finally made vague waffling noises about arranging an evacuation flight for the trapped Brits, and has booked-out the Holiday Inn at Heathrow as a provisional holding tank. I’m not sure which would be worse?

Dr Sylvie Briand, head of the WHO’s endemic diseases division put the plight of the passengers – many of whom have since been repatriated – into some kind of perspective: “We need to make sure that we focus on our objective, our public health objective, which is to contain the virus, not to contain the people,” she said, pointedly.

Lawyers are now getting involved as it has dawned on some people that trapping 3,700 passengers and crew together in the confined space of a ship was more likely to spread than to contain a highly infectious disease.

New cases are increasing in Japan, with the infection now being transmitted locally, according to Japan Times. Singapore has slashed its GDP growth forecast for 2020 by a percentage point as cases there pass 75.

Premier Xi reportedly learned of the outbreak two weeks before any official announcements were made, according to the FT. China’s Central Bank has lowered interest rates to prop up the stockmarket. Farmers are having to slaughter millions of chickens owing to a shortage of feed.

In Wuhan, Liu Zhiming, the senior medical physician fighting the outbreak, has died, age 51. Snatch squads are making door-to-door searches for possible hidden victims, police are reportedly barricading people in their homes.

Two citizen journalists who reported on the situation in Wuhan have disappeared under the guise of “quarantine”. The Chinese internet, too, is in virtual lockdown, with freedom of information protestors being threatened with severe punishments for spreading ‘rumors’; while ID checks have been brought in for anyone buying cough medicine.

Two men were arrested in Hong Kong, charged with stealing $100-worth of toilet rolls at knifepoint.

Update: 18 Feb., cases 73,438; deaths 1,875. Deffo slowing down, but early days, say boffins.

Update revised: 19 Feb., cases 75,227; deaths 2,012. Diamond Princess 621 – Brits told ‘you can’t leave’.

Revised update updated: 20 Feb., cases 75,761; deaths 2,130. Hubei has changed its reporting criteria again. A sudden spike in cases in S Korea is reportedly due to a ‘superspreader’ who has infected at least 37 members of her church congregation, having never even been abroad. The city of Daegu, pop. 2.5m, is on lockdown.

Japanese authorities have begun evacuating the healthy passengers from the Diamond Princess. Four Britons who tested positive have been removed. Other Brits have been told by the FO that if they leave the ship, they won’t be allowed on any evacuation flights.

Chinese epidemiologists have published figures showing that the vast majority of patients who have died are over 60. Odds on the likelihood of dying are highest at 14.8% among the Over 80s and about 3.4% for the Over 60s. Very few deaths have been reported in the Under-50s demographic, and none in children under 9.

So you could call this the Baby Boomer Killer or, as most deaths have been in elderly patients with pre-existing heart and respiratory conditions, probably from smoking and living in a heavily polluted industrial environment – Wuhan is the manufacturing capital of China – in our own case, you might say the Leave Voter Virus.

(Reporting/Stats: Worldometer, Guardian, Aljazeera, Japan Times, FT, BBC News)

 

Is the war in Afghanistan finally over?

Buried in the news today is a report in the Washington Post that an agreement has been reached in Doha between US negotiators and Taleban leaders for a 7-day ‘cooling-off’ of hostilities, followed by the official signing in Kabul of a peace accord.

Such an outcome, with the withdrawal of thousands of US troops, is calculated to be a vote-winner in the upcoming US elections, and Trump will take full credit for it; regardless of whatever actual terms the accord may be based on and its implications for the Afghan government and people.

Because we don’t yet know, if any side has, who has actually won.

America’s longest-running conflict began in 2001 after the 9/11 terror attack on New York, with the US blaming Afghanistan for hosting rebel al-Qaeda units and protecting the man they declared was responsible, Osama bin-Laden; although it was later confirmed that 15 of the 19 attackers had had Saudi nationality, as did bin-Laden, by then being protected by the Pakistan security services.

Since then, over two-and-a-half thousand US military personnel and 1,750 civilian contractors have died, along with 850 troops from allied nations. A figure from Wikipedia of 111,000 Afghan civilian and military casualties combined seems absurdly low. President Ashraf Ghani was recorded in 2019 as saying 45,000 service personnel, including police, had died since he came to power in 2014. Numbers of Taleban and other fighters killed are impossible to estimate.

The Pumpkin is betting that a deal will be easily spun into an American victory, but less easily justified as it will not result in any serious shift in the balance of power in the country. With no-one holding the ring, and Afghan government forces as weak and corrupt as ever, hostilities might very well resume between the Northern Alliance – a squabbling tentful of drug-dealing warlords – and the ascetic, extreme Muslim Talebani, who regard the regime in Kabul as nothing more than a corrupt US puppet.

Will the accord, if it does get signed, halt the relentless infiltration of Taleban insurgents, who already control much of the country? Are they likely to back off now, sensing victory, with the inviting prospect of having driven all the foreigners out – for the umpteenth time in 300 years?

And then there is the question of who, if anyone, will be able to resist the likely return of Russian influence as Putin continues to fill the vacuums created by Western withdrawals; and how will that play with Beijing, also vying for influence in the region?

 

Don’t mention the other war!

In case you were wondering why Messrs Parnas and Frumin are still being prosecuted for campaign finance irregularities involving laundered Ukrainian money, but the guy who hired them, the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, isn’t even under investigation, Rachel Maddow at MSNBC has a possible answer.

She reports, 19 Feb., that Barr’s Justice Department – should that be Trump’s Justice Department, we wonder? – issued a memorandum in January, only now released, ordering all federal courts under its jurisdiction to funnel any open cases involving matters pertinent to Ukraine through a single official.

No new cases involving anything to do with Ukraine may be opened without first consulting the department, says the memo.

The story follows on from the revelation that Trump is no longer being investigated by New York prosecutors for campaign finance violations involving payoffs to inconvenient women, in the case where he was named as an unindicted co-conspirator with his lieutenant, Michael Cohen – whom the President is gleefully leaving to rot in jail, obviously, as punishment for co-operating with the Mueller investigation, while trying to get his other cronies who aren’t considered ‘rats’ off the hook.

The 17 cases against Trump and his dodgy children appear to have been quietly dropped, it’s reported, following a visit to the Southern District court last year by Barr – on the day after Trump appointed him Attorney-General.

At the weekend, having controversially attempted to interfere in the sentencing of another of his soldiers, Roger Stone, Trump announced he had commuted the sentences handed down to two corrupt politicians, as well as to his fellow billionaire fraudster, the ‘Junk Bond King’ Michael Milken, referring to himself with breathtaking insouciance as “America’s chief law-enforcement officer”.

That’s actually supposed to be the Attorney-General, it’s not in the job description of the president. But when you have committed so many crimes it helps to be in charge of the investigations and to have the FBI broken and the Justice Department in your pocket.

Eleven-hundred current and former federal prosecutors have called for Barr’s resignation.

We keep reading Comments from apparently sensible political experts that, no, America is not Weimar Germany, don’t we.

Indeed, it’s looking more like 1920s Chicago.

 

The madness of King Donald

Remember when he threw paper towels at hurricane survivors in Puerto Rico? Well, now he’s gone one better, in a bid to peel off a few black votes.

At a recent, quite small rally of a hundred or so seriously deluded African Americans, organisers called the audience up on stage one by one and, praising all that Trump has done for the black community,  handed out $thousands of free money in the form of ‘cash prizes’.

The money came from a donation of a quarter of a million dollars from Trump SuperPAC, America First!, to the Urban Revitalization Coalition of America, a non-profit run by Trump ally, Darrell Scott.

Mr Scott was handpicked in 2016 to improve Trump’s image with black voters by Michael Cohen, who has since branded Trump a ‘racist’. (Reporting: New York Times)

People have been wondering why Trump has pardoned or commuted the sentences of several corrupt former officials. It seems his choices were crafted to send a message to his opponents, as each of them was convicted of criminal acts of which Mr Trump has himself been accused.

Flamboyant former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, for instance, the man who tried to sell President Obama’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder, was impeached before being found guilty of 17 charges, including wire fraud, attempted extortion and conspiracy to solicit bribes.

He left a Colorado jail today, claiming loudly that he had been held as a political prisoner.

 

seviri_nat_airmass_20200219_1845

Earth is beginnoing to look more like Jupiter… new storm to follow Dennis midweek. Image: Meteosat.

GW: means Grotty Weather, of course

North Atlantic: “… a new, potentially explosive development of an extra-tropical cyclone is expected tonight”(18 Feb.), following on the heels of Storm Dennis, that left extensive flooding across the British Isles at the weekend. (Severe-weather.eu) The storm is passing between Scotland and Iceland on the 20th. A remarkable central pressure drop of 44mb in 18 hours was recorded on the 19th, to bring hurricane-force winds over southern Iceland.

Another deepening cyclone is being monitored behind that, organizing out of Canada across the Labrador Sea, and inspires a BBC forecast of a third weekend deluge in 3 weeks for already saturated areas of the British Isles.

USA: states of emergency have been declared across Mississippi and Tennessee, reports Floodlist. “Days of heavy rain caused rivers and dams to rise, prompting evacuations and some flood rescues. Among the worst hit areas is Jackson, Mississippi, where the Pearl River reached 36.67 feet on 17 Feb., its third highest level on record.” Governor Tate Reeves described it as ‘historic; unprecedented’.

Australia: Another powerful storm front “pushed through Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday night, bringing with it an intense lightning show and powerful winds. Power was cut to many throughout the city as gusty winds brought down trees and power lines”, disrupting transport. (Accuweather) Local video showed big hailstones thumping down as the storms broke over NSW and Victoria states.

Indonesia: “authorities report that at least 2 people have died and hundreds of homes damaged after flooding and landslides in 4 provinces of the country.” in West Java’s Bandung regency, thousands of people have been affected by flooding for the second time in a month. There’s also been severe flooding in Borneo. (Floodlist)

Argentina: floods have followed days of heavy rain in the north of the country. In Chaco, 192mm of rain fell in a single day. In Tucuman a storm on 18 Feb. has left communities cut off and caused wind damage to properties. Hundreds of people have been evacuated and the army is delivering relief supplies. (From: Floodlist)

Peru: “Landslides and flooding in southern Peru have damaged homes leaving dozens of families displaced and at least 2 people dead. 1 person is missing and over 200 families displaced after heavy rain triggered a landslide in Ayacucho , south-central Peru.” (Floodlist)

United Kingdom Weather Radar

This is us today! Nobody wants Britain anymore – we’ve been painted out! (Accuweather rain map, 19 Feb.)

Tunnel approaching….

Some positive news from America, legislators in the state of Utah have approved plans for a funded program to move to renewable energy, electric vehicles and carbon reductions over the next decade, flying in the face of Trump’s rebarbative policies. What’s unusual about the Utah Roadmap, as it’s being called, is that Utah is a rock-solid Republican state. Ironically, voters will be going all-out in November to re-elect the environmental vandal and criminal ecocide, Trump. (Reporting: Guardian Green Light)

Methane: “A single blowout at a natural gas well in Ohio in 2018 discharged more methane over three weeks than the oil and gas industries of France, Norway and the Netherlands released in an entire year.” A new report examining the more-than doubling of atmospheric methane in the modern era claims that the volume of human-induced methane emissions from oil and gas operations – especially fracking – has been underestimated by 40 per cent; ‘experts’ concluding therefrom that industry measures to reduce or even capture and store emissions will be a major step forward in reversing climate change.

Where do they get these people from?

The Guardian report of the report fails to make the obvious point that global heating is the single greatest cause of methane emissions from thawing deposits under the sea and permafrost on land. It’s known as a feedback loop, Guardian people. I’d also defy you to distinguish between ‘natural’ and ‘man-made’ sources of methane when man-made CO2 is causing the heating that is releasing methane naturally from ‘sinks’ where it has remained frozen in vast quantities since the end of the last glacial period, 12 thousand years ago.

Arctic: “On February 18, 2020, the Arctic was as much as 3.6°C or 6.48°F warmer than 1979-2000.” The extent of sea ice is marginally greater currently than the 2010-20 average, however it is very thin and there is virtually no ice more than 2 years old to melt below the surface and thus provide a buffer to prevent heat reaching the lower depths where volatile hydratic methane clathrates are found in large numbers on the shallow sea bed. (From: Arctic News)

 

O Brave New World… An ill-wind… The madness of King Donald… Merci Jew coup… GW: A-tishoo, a-tishoo, we all fall down

QotW

“…no one is easier to hate than a contemptible version of oneself.” – John le Carré

No country, either. The most contemptible version of Britain emerged in notices stuck to the doors on every floor of a block of flats in Norwich today, declaring “Happy Brexit Day” and demanding that non-English residents should leave unless from now on they spoke only “the the Queens English” (sic). The notice referred to foreigners “infecting” Britain and suggested they had best “evolve” or leave.

The author, for such we must call her (probably it’s a her, it usually is a 400-pound woman in worn carpet slippers), signs off: “God save the Queen, her government and all true patriots.”

If this is what some British people have “evolved” into, then civil war cannot be far off. All comment is extraneous. In the event, the notices have been reported to the police, who are treating them as a hate crime.

Someone must have had a terrible meal once in Calais.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/feb/01/brexit-pointless-masochistic-ambition-history-done

I’m sorry, on this most dreadful day in Our Island History, I can do no more than urge you to read Ian McEwan’s piece, if you haven’t already, which says everything The BogPo would want to say about the state of Britain now, only better.

Welcome to our Brave New World.

UB

Oh, PS, I’m experiencing a certain amount of secret schadenfreude at learning that the first cases of coronavirus in Britain are up in the Leave-voting northeast, knowing this is a virus which, early research shows, specializes in killing off mainly 60-year-old smokers, mostly men, in heavily polluted industrial areas; elderly people with chronic respiratory conditions, diabetes and hypertension… people waving little plastic Union flags and taking back our country while simultaneously destabilizing the Union and handing us over to Wall Street.

The first instance of a Divinely targeted demographic, possibly?

I know, it’s a bit graceless of me. But not all of them will die from it.

 

An ill-wind

China: Photos of deserted streets in the Chinese capital, Beijing, prompt me to remark, a) it looks rather agreeable now you can actually see it, and b) it’s probably healthier there, with no traffic on the usually jammed and honking highways, than in most cities around the world that are still open for business.

There will undoubtedly be many fewer deaths from some of the worst smog on the planet to compensate for the one coronavirus patient who has died in the capital thus far.

Given the size and virulence of the H1N1 ‘flu pandemic in the USA, and who knows how many American travellers are exporting that elsewhere, maybe Beijing could retaliate by closing its own airspace to US airlines?

Folks crouching in their little flats amid deserted streets with empty supermarket shelves and no work can be happy, I suppose, that the Lunar New Year holiday has been extended again by official decree, to 13 February. At this rate, it may never end.

Hong Kong: Photos of locals flocking in their hundreds to buy face masks to try to ward off other people’s coughs and sneezes surely advert to the beneficial advantages of ordering over the internet from the comparative safety of home. Epidemiologists are sanguine about the benefits of masks in any case, as they tend not to be all that effective.

I’m still feeling slightly guilty for having taken the immediate precaution the week before last, as soon as the story broke, of buying a face mask, prominently labeled Made in China. The Chinese government has issued a desperate appeal for more masks, as they’re being taken up at a rate greater than their own factories can produce. £100, maybe, anyone?

Australia, we read, has abandoned plans to charge its citizens returning from Hubei province AU$1,000 for the privilege of being held in quarantine for two weeks on barren Christmas Island, 1,600 miles off the coast – a destination formerly reserved for the discouragement of Asian refugees. I imagine the government in Canberra is so popular now, it feels it can make this magnanimous gesture.

USA: has just reported its eighth case of coronavirus. This compares with 30 cases of Campylobacter jejuni, a multi-drug-resistant bacterium transmitted to humans by pet-store-bought puppies. (Centers for Disease Control statistics)

Update: 01 Feb. am, 11,900 cases; 259 dead.

Update update: 02 Feb.,14,380 cases; 304 dead (including the first outside China, in the Philippines). (1:47 = still a little over 2%)

Update updated: 03 Feb.,17,205 cases; 361 dead. (1:47 = still only a little over 2%)

Updated update updated: 04 Feb., cases 20,638, deaths 426, including only the second outside mainland China – a 39-year-old man in Hong Kong with a pre-existing heart condition. The ratio is 1:48, a slight improvement in the survival rate. There are 151 reported cases in the world this morning outside of Hubei province, although most are still in Chinese-speaking areas. (WHO)

 

The madness of King Donald

“Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs on a great game, and a fantastic comeback, under immense pressure. You represented the Great State of Kansas and, in fact, the entire USA, so very well. Our Country is PROUD OF YOU!” Trump tweeted, in the wake of the Superbowl football final.

Only one problem, the Chiefs are based in Kansas City, Missouri, not in the Great State of Kansas.

It’s a mistake we can all make.

Having spent weeks attacking the Democrats’ lead on impeachment, Congressman Adam Schiff, who mocked him during an early closed-door hearing when he mildly took off the President by improvizing a bit of dialog during questioning, as a liar, because he had never spoken those words, Trump aired an interview at the start of the Superbowl with his pal, Hannity, of Fox News, in which he kept riffing on the idea, false as it happens, that Democrat rival, Mike Bloomberg, was so short (at 5’8″), he had ordered a special box to stand on at rallies.

Trump has frequently mocked critics and opponents, as well as members of his own staff, for being shorter than himself. One thing is certain: the former Mayor of New York, business media magnate Bloomberg is a damned sight richer.

Except that Trump imagines, just as he did with his own charity Foundation and his Inaugural fund, that the US Treasury is his own personal bank account. After presiding over the Superbowl game he threw a private party for donors and friends to celebrate whatever. The bill, including his travel and security, came to $3.4 million. All at the expense of the US taxpayer. (TYT Farron Cousins)

 

Merci Jew coup

“(Rick) Wiles claimed that a ‘Jewish cabal’ plotted Trump’s impeachment. ‘That’s the way Jews work,’ Wiles said. ‘They are deceivers. They plot. They lie. They do whatever they have to do to accomplish their political agenda. This ‘Impeach Trump’ movement is a Jew coup, and the American people better wake up to it really fast.'”

Wiles also claimed that ‘when Jews take over a country, they kill millions of Christians.’ (BuzzFlash)

Let’s hope he’s one of the first, then.

Mr Wiles’ website, TruNews has been given formal White House press accreditation. Meanwhile, far away at Number 10 Downing Street, attempts by Dominic Cummings’ thuggish SPADs to expel certain journalists on their secret blacklist from a press briefing backfired when the rest, led by the BBC’s chief political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, walked out.

What a shame American journalists have become such a bunch of parasitic, moneygrubbing, gutless wonders and floppy, impotent jellyfish, waving their crappy, meaningless Pulitzers that you get now for knowing how to spell ‘whatever’.

They could have stopped the Trump train in its tracks three years ago, perhaps a little later when CNN’s Jim Acosta got thrown out for asking questions. Now they’re happy to accept there are no more White House press briefings under Comms chief, Stephanie Gruesome and must put up with ‘gaggles’ for invited members only, being arrogantly drowned out by Trump’s permanently clattering helicopter on the lawn – the one that doesn’t fly in the rain – as the demented criminal mob boss spews incoherent lies and venom at them, and they lick it all up gratefully, like dog vomit.

Welcome to your fascist state, America.

 

GW: Atishoo, atishoo, we all fall down

Australia: a bushfire in the outskirts of the capital, Canberra, started when an army helicopter switched on its landing lights to see in the smoke from other fires, “had grown to more than 35,000 hectares on 1 Feb. Residents in some areas were warned that it was ‘too late to leave’ and they should try to seek shelter. 6 more fires in nearby parts of New South Wales were burning out of control, officials said.” (from BBC Weather) Hot, dry conditions are expected to persist into next week.

!’ve just learned a new word, after all this time! “Cinereous” means ash-gray. I guess it’d be useful in Australia.

New Zealand: nearly 400 tourists are safe but stranded after the Cleddau river near Milford Sound burst its banks owing to heavy rain upstream and a tidal surge down. Roads in the area are likely to remain closed for some time because of flood damage and landslips triggered by the rain. A state of emergency has been declared in Southland, after OVER 1 METER of rain fell on part of the county in 60 hours. (Floodlist)

Indonesia: “heavy rain in West Java from 25 January caused banks along the Cipicung river to collapse.” 3 people were killed working on repairing the embankment when part of the hillside above them fell away due to the heavy rain. 2 survived and were taken to hospital. There’s been flooding in other parts of Java and heavy rain is expected to continue for at least another week. (Floodlist)

Tanzania: “at least 13 people have died in flooding in Lindi region, that first began in late January. 5 people are missing, 1,746 houses have been completely destroyed; over 15,000 have been displaced. (Floodlist) Authorities have warned of a waterborne disease outbreak. In Rwanda, “heavy rainfall has caused severe material damage and loss of life. Stormy weather from 2 to 3 Feb. brought lightning strikes and heavy rain which triggered flooding and landslides in the capital, Kigali, along with other parts of the country. At least 13 people have died, 2 injured and 15 houses destroyed.”

South Africa: Heavy rain during a storm on 02 Feb. caused severe flash flooding in Alice Town, Eastern Cape. Homes were damaged and traffic brought to a standstill as flood waters over 1 meter deep swamped the town. (Floodlist)

Colombia: “around 130 families were evacuated from their homes when flooding struck Santander province in the early hours of 28 Jan., cars piled up along streets covered in mud and flood debris. Around 100 vehicles were damaged in the flooding, along with at least 30 houses. Heavy rain in the region also triggered flooding and landslides in surrounding forest areas.” (from Floodlist)

USA: just days after an intense North Pacific cyclone brought a powerful winter storm to Alaska, there’s already another one beginning a rapid cyclogenesis just south of Kamchatka peninsula. Central pressure has dropped 39 mb in 24 hours! The extra-tropical cyclone is now gradually moving north-northeast towards the Aleutian islands and the Bering Sea. A violent windstorm is expected over the isles until late Monday. (from Severe-weather.eu)

An astonishing temperature drop is expected over the Midwest in the next 48 hours, from the low 80sF, 30C – to the mid-20s F, minus 5C by Wednesday.

Canada: Widespread flooding, power outages and bridge washouts have shut down large portions of British Columbia, leaving tens of thousands of Canadians calling for help and hundreds of visitors at Sasquatch Mountain Ski Resort trapped after ‘immense’ flooding blocked the only road off the mountain. Rescuers have been demanding $150 a ride to helicopter people out. Heavy rain on top of melting snowpack is to blame. (Accuweather)

Europe: Turin and Cuneo in NW Italy reached almost +27 °C at the weekend – 80.6F, the hottest winter temperature ever recorded in Piedmont. Southern Switzerland stopped at +24 °C while Valencia in Spain reported +28.4 °C,  *exceptional* for this period. Another cold spell is on the way. (Severe-weather.eu) Yet another huge cyclone is deepening in the North Atlantic and is bringing hurricane-like conditions to southern Greenland. By the weekend, I count on the BBC weekly long-range weather map, there will be six deep low-pressure systems forming over the entire North Atlantic region and up into the high Arctic.

Pakistan: a story we missed, around 62 people were killed in a series of avalanches that buried whole villages in the Neelum valley, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir along the mountainous border with Afghanistan, mid-January. Exceptionally heavy snowstorms – said to have been the worst in a century – were to blame, and delayed rescuers.

Tunnel approaching….

USA: As the world panics over the relatively mild-seeming “deadly” coronavirus that’s almost entirely confined to one Chinese province and city, and Washington bans travellers from China, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta estimates that so far this season there’s been a second wave leading to at least 19 MILLION Type A, H1N1 ‘flu cases in the USA., 180,000 hospitalizations and 10 thousand related deaths, including many children. (Do you think I can get a fucking ‘flu jab? “Come back in September when the ‘flu season starts.” Oh, really?)

H1N1 is the same type that killed up to 80 million people in the 1918 global pandemic.

Update: As of 30 January, the CDCs are no longer reporting on the home-grown avian ‘flu epidemic among current outbreaks of infectious diseases. Information is restricted to specific searches within the body of their report and being evaluated as ‘normal’ for the time of year, and non-severe. How significant this is I’m not entirely sure.

Hospital admissions of patients in the USA over the age of 10 having self-harmed while harboring suicidal thoughts increased by 25 per cent in 2017/18. (CDC)

Iceland: authorities are keeping a close watch on Mt Thorbjorn, where 4-5 inches of ground uplift accompanied by a swarm of +- M3 earthquakes has been observed, consistent with magma movement. A delightful phrase unique possibly to volcanic Iceland, officials have declared a “state of uncertainty”. One that would certainly apply in Iowa today (4 Feb.)

Update: 02 Feb., uplift is continuing and earthquakes intensifying, with magnitudes over M4 occurring. Volcanologists expect an eruption but not a big one. GW comments, off the top of her head: “Most predicted eruptions don’t happen. Most actual eruptions occur unexpectedly.”

Russia: Siberian Times reports on a major rescue operation to pluck 600 ice fishermen from melting icefloes off Sakhalin island. The men had ignored warnings that the ice was thinning and breaking up as temperatures rose to barely freezing point.

Space: Astronaut “Anne McClain, a lieutenant-colonel in the U.S. Army, is facing allegations that she accessed her estranged wife’s bank account during her 203-day mission aboard the ISS earlier this year. If found guilty, McClain would be the first person ever sentenced to a crime committed from space.” (AOL)

That’s a very good point. In whose legal jurisdiction is the International Space Station?

 

 

With snow on their boots… Save our Beeb!… Now even Jesus disapproves of him… All things must pass…GW: Fire and rain

The BogPo’s Quote of the Year:

“When wine turns to ash in your mouth, you can’t deny the new reality anymore.” – Brigid Delaney, writing in The Guardian, 20 Dec.,  from an apocalyptic fin-du-monde beach party outside Sydney, where the Gospers Mountain megafire is now the size of Wales..

 

new tory cohort

“All together now: ‘My money lies over the ocean…'”

Baris welcomes the new intake of Conservative MPs you might hear of someday.

 

With snow on their boots

The Guardian‘s Security analyst, Dan Sabbagh, writes:

“Downing Street blocked an analysis of the threat posed by Russia to the British democratic system written by MPs from the all-party intelligence and security committee from being published during the election campaign.

“Immediately after the Conservatives were returned to power with an overall majority, No 10 said that the document had been approved for release, but claimed that publication had to wait for the committee to be formally reconstituted.”

A process requiring some adroit manoeuvering as members will no doubt be scattering across the globe over Christmas, the New Year and probably Easter too. By which time no-one will remember the report, which has been redacted to death anyway. Who will worry that members of the Government are in the pockets of people close to Putin? Spy stuff, it’s all so remote from ordinary life.

It’s said that few American voters polled, actually care if Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and are still doing it, to re-elect Trump. They have other, more pressing worries. Besides, isn’t it great that we have better relations with Russia?

But look. This morning I briefly mentioned in an email that I have a cataract in one eye. Within the hour, I was being offered information about cataracts from a medical website in America, courtesy of YouTube. The connection? Both Gmail and YouTube are owned by Google. I did not ask for the information. Your email has no privacy with them.

So why is it a surprise if a PDF posted by a civil servant in Whitehall on their private Gmail account results in the leak via Reddit of a 450-page document to the Labour Party? It will have gone straight to Google and thence probably to the St Petersburg mob for processing. A decision would have been made on what to do with the information, that would cause the most disruption.

Brandishing half a tree’s worth of paper, Jeremy Corbyn thought he was onto a vote winner during the election when he announced that the dossier proved that the Tories were preparing to negotiate away the National Health Service to the Americans. Which they are

No-one seems to have believed him. Lyin’ Baris called bullshit on the dossier and that seems to have satisfied everyone. We are all used to being told that the naive and inoffensive Corbyn supports terrorists and is a traitor who can’t be trusted. Incurious lot, the British. Especially the press. But no-one has seriously denied that the content is correct.

Now, however, the security services are under orders to find the leaker, the whistleblower, whoever, in the best US Justice Department style, and the Russians are in the frame again for a hack of the Civil Service. Why, it’s almost as if Johnson takes the dossier seriously after all.

But you don’t need to hack Google, it automatically cross-platforms everything you write, say, post, call yourself or, probably even, think across half the internet. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Let’s see what this produces.

 

“Not only is propaganda of any kind offensively patronising, it is also deeply boring.”

Save our Beeb!

In January 2014, the BBC’s flagship Radio 4 Today show employed as its guest editor for a day, the singer PJ Harvey. I wrote that it was an unusual and rather alarming opportunity to hear what broadcasting in Britain might sound like if it had a real left-wing agenda, as opposed to the anodyne metropolitan liberalism with which it usually greets the day; and the Welsh Methodist humbuggery of its late presenter, John Humphrys.

The issue has again arisen in 2019 as Britain has elected by a staggering majority, a rightwing government led by a morally bankrupt, casually racist upper-class charlatan with authoritarian tendencies.

Despite winning a historic victory, Baris Johnson immediately set about castigating the BBC for its shameful bias against him, threatening to de-criminalize non-payment of the token licence fee required of all citizens to receive its wide-ranging pblic service output – a move that could see one of our premier and most widely respected institutions broken up and sold off (the “Murdoch agenda”).

Almost six years ago we wrote:

“Harvey held the Corporation’s skirts to the fire, lifting the crinoline on a potentially vast body of hitherto under-reported facts, statistics, opinions and human stories concerning corporate and government greed, deceit, bullying and evasion on a global scale, undermining Auntie’s bland daily ‘news agenda’ that feeds public opinion; hinting at the extent to which we are manipulated and controlled by the information machine, and the degree to which the supposedly impartial BBC actually conforms to the consensus of the political right.

“At the same time, however, it demonstrated perfectly just how ghastly it would be to have a State-controlled media promoting an exclusively biased agenda, either to left or right, unchallenged by any attempt at balance or impartiality; such as is seen in Orwellian states like North Korea; or in the corporatist USA, with its endless, mindless hectoring by controlling business interests. Not only is propaganda of any kind offensively patronising, it is also deeply boring.

“The independence of the Beeb is something worth fighting for.”

Aux armes, comrades.

 

Now even Jesus disapproves of him

Christianity Today, a magazine founded by the late pastor Billy Graham, whose son Franklin notoriously announced in 2017 that Trump had been “sent by God”, has performed the most remarkable reverse-ferret since Pontius Pilate washed his hands, calling for President Trump to be fired.

Wrote editor-in-chief, Mark Galli: “The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people.” (Guardian report)

Will this astonishing Christmas editorial finally mark the end of the beginning for Donald Trump, darling of the Evangelistas? (Oh God, no, not Pence!) Probably not: it’s a cult, but a strange one as he is not even its leader, he is merely an avatar. But we can hope.

It’s taken perhaps the least of his many calumnies in office to bring him to this pass. Why?

Those of us who aren’t choked by smoke or drowning in sewage this year have known for some time of the President’s “moral deficiencies”. Christian fundamentalists make up at least 99.9% of his dumbfuck base, something of which the grotesque, fawning Republicans in Congress – most of whom are on copious record as having held thoroughly derisive opinions of him before his election, but who now thank God daily for the nation’s deliverance – must surely take note.

Before the Repblican-controlled Senate has managed to gerrymander his trial by refusing to allow any witness testimony and moving straight to a vote (the McConnell Doctrine), arguing that there is no case to answer, Trump has begun a witch hunt for anyone he can blame for the unfamiliar predicament he has brought entirely upon himself.

The word is, Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney is already in Coventry, on the naughty step and expected to leave in the New Year with the President’s dainty Size 5 shoeprint on his pants. That makes number… what?

 

As safe as….

A Bank of England spokeswoman said: “The Bank operates the highest standard of information security and is confident in our ability to recognise cyber threats and defend our systems appropriately.”

“The Bank admitted late on Wednesday night that it had suffered a security breach.” The Guardian, reporting that cuts at the bank have led to the loss of more than 20 key cyber-security personnel and the hack gave traders crucial seconds in which to make profitable decisions.

I know PR spokesmouths are expected to be little more than paid liars, but this? The Bank of Fucking England? Whatever happened to fiduciary duty?

 

All things must pass

Well, I’ve finally got it. My free Seniors’ bus pass.

I’d been gently resisting for ten years since becoming eligible, as, I must confess, I wasn’t entirely sure what a bus was, having driven myself toxically everywhere, even just the less-than-a mile to the supermarket, since I was 17.

Now, sadly, I wouldn’t pass the driving test – can’t see well enough to make out a numberplate at 25 meters. The consultant thinks some recovery could be on the cards, but realistically I’ve put the car up for sale. It’s time.

I’m sure there are people merrily driving around with even less visual acuity than I have, since the standard is self-policing. But I’m finding the walking quite exhilarating, especially on miserable, dark and rainy evenings when I can feel really glum and tragic, trudging along in my leaky wellies with heavy bags cutting into my hands, sucking in traffic fumes and shouting abuse at motorists who try to run me down on the crossing.

It seems almost as though I am enjoying acting the part of an older man, now that I am one. Because otherwise, I don’t appear to be one.

Not until I see the photograph on my bus pass.

Who is this dismal old git? Why is he living in my house, wearing my clothes and drinking my pension away?

 

GW: Fire and rain

Responding to growing protests, Australia’s Prime Minister, the appalling Trump-shill Scott Morrison, has finally cut short his agreeable Christmas holiday in Hawaii, apologizing for not having come home sooner as his country burns to death.

Severe-weather.eu writes: “Remarkable heat values have been reported from parts of South Australia today – many locations climbed above the 46 °C mark, some of them even above 49 °C. Nullarbor station reported an incredible 50°C.”

What is particularly odd about the Australian heatwave is that nowhere else on the same summer latitude is anywhere near as hot. Colour-rendered satellite images on CNN show the island continent as an angry red blob in the midst of an ocean of calm greens and blues.

Vast fires continue to burn through New South Wales, where (after opening a new zoo for the purpose of conserving wildlife) the governor declared a state of “catastrophe”. 2 firefighters were killed on their way to tackle one of the more than 100 fires blazing in the state, and several others have been injured. The area affected totals 7.6 million acres (Guardian Australia). Air quality in parts of Sydney remains “hazardous to life” (BBC) Yet again the BBC returns to its favorite theme: “Oh, you can’t tell it’s global warming just from one event.”

Tell this guy that.:

Firefighter Daniel Knox stands amid flames and fire in NSW

Last man standing?
Photo: Daniel Knox/HORSLEY PARK RURAL FIRE BRIGADE

Europe: too has a heatwave, although not on an Antipodean scale because it’s the middle of winter here. Nevertheless the current anomalies bode ill for the return of summer: “Locally, temperatures peaked in the 20-22 °C range across Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, the Balkans and southern Italy.” (Severe-weather.eu, 19 Dec.)

The death toll from a storm that battered Spain, Portugal and France rose to 8 on 21 Dec. Storm Elsa flooded rivers, brought down power lines and disrupted rail and air travel across the region. Authorities have warned of a fresh threat: Storm Fabien has already brought winds of 105 mph to northwestern Spain (from: Guardian).

Strong winds and torrential rain – perhaps 400 mm over 72 hrs – are forecast for Greece and Southern Turkey in the next two days, bringing significant risk of flooding. (Severe-weather.eu)

Here in Boglington, western Britain, the weather continues to reflect the mood of the nation. Putting the lights on only seems to make it darker. “Heavy rain and strong winds hit parts of southern England from 18 to 19 Dec., causing flash flooding which damaged homes and disrupted transport.” (Floodlist)

DR Congo: after weeks of heavy rain the situation for tens of thousands of people is “dire”. The government in Brazzaville has declared a national emergency. The Oubangui and Congo rivers have overflowed acoss a huge area. “Hundreds of villages along the river have been affected, many of which are completely submerged. Flooding has damaged infrastructure and impeded access to food, water, education and health care. Homes, schools and health centres in affected areas are flooded and only accessible by boat.

“The UN said: ‘most water points and sanitation facilities are no longer functioning. Affected communities do not have access to safe drinking water, and hygiene and sanitation products are scarce, exacerbating the risks of contamination and epidemics caused by water and mosquitoes (typhoid, cholera, malaria)’.” (Floodlist) With much agricultural land underwater and the next staple cassava crop not due until next Autumn, food reserves are running low.

There’s flooding too in southern Iran. “Flooding began around 16 Dec., after a period of heavy rain. At least 1 person is missing and 4 were rescued after a car was swept away by flood waters.” (Floodlist) 4 patients died in an intensive care unit in Abadan after a hospital’s power supply was knocked out by lightning. The city recorded 113mm of rain in 24 hours, about half the average annual rainfall.

Malaysia: “Thousands of people have been displaced by a second wave of flooding in peninsular Malaysia. Parts of neighbouring Thailand have also been affected. Meanwhile more flooding in East Malaysia has prompted evacuations in the state of Sabah on the island of Borneo. (Floodlist)

Tunnel approaching…

Or maybe not. Nothing too alarming has emerged lately from the Blessed Mary Greeley, doyenne of Yellowstone watchers, although it appears she was shut down for most of a month after ads were mysteriously banned on her site. What was that about? She reports a lot of micro-quakes lately suggesting magma movement. Washington state, inland from Seattle towards Mts St Helen’s and Rainier has been rattling around with a couple of +M3s.

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.

 

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.)