The Pumpkin – Issue 81: If it moves, chop it off… The Great White Whale conspiracy… Facts, dear boy… Whaddo I know?… GW: We all live in a Yellow Submarine… There goes the sun… When is a burger?

Saddest Quote of the week

Found beneath an Oleta Adams video:

When I lonely I really want to be hugged.

 

It’s estimated that Americans may have inadvertently spent $40 billion in 2018 on online shopping, while drunk.

(The Pumpkin’s ever-expanding jazz CD collection and ever-shrinking savings can attest, it’s not just Americans…)

 

“And was your dad born in Germany too?”

 

If it moves, chop it off

To the annoyance of many Western celebrities, the diminutive Sultan of Brunei, a Mr Bolkiah, who, without wishing to seem racist, resembles a worried-looking marmoset with a very large bank balance, has implemented Sharia in his tiny statelet on the island of Borneo (pop. 440,000) and is proposing to stone gay people to death and cut off the hands of shoplifters, as he needs the votes of the Muslim majority.

Meanwhile, according to the Guardian, his brother Jef:

“…embezzled $15m (£11.5m) from the state during his tenure as finance minister in the 1990s. He was revealed to own 600 properties, 2,000 cars, a private Boeing 747 and several works by Renoir, Manet and Degas. Jefri’s flamboyant lifestyle, which came to light in a series of court cases, involved a harem of foreign mistresses, the purchase of erotic sculptures of himself with his fiancee, and a luxury yacht he called Tits.”

All perfectly halal, according to the Qu’ran. Meanwhile the senior brother, Sultan Bolkiah has hastened to assure the human rights brigade around the world that these sentences are very unlikely to be imposed as sodomy in Sharia requires two upstanding independent witnesses for a conviction.

 

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when once we practise to deceive.” – WS

The Great White Whale conspiracy

“The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether $100,000 donated to a Trump-related political fundraising committee originated from a fugitive Malaysian businessman alleged to be at the center of a global financial scandal, according to people familiar with the matter.” – The Wall Street Journal, 13 March, 2019.

So, what’s the Orange Booby got himself into now, with his terrible judgement – or is it just rotten luck at frequently making business connections who often seem to be… a trifle gamey, let’s say?

Well, the “businessman” is a pudgy Chinese-Malay financier, Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low as he is known, aka the “Billion Dollar Whale”, who has vowed not to give himself up to any jurisdiction where his guilt has already been presumed. That’s about six so far. He’s thought to be in hiding in Hong Kong, or maybe as a guest of the Chinese government on the mainland; and rumored to have had plastic surgery to lessen the risk that Interpol will find him. His share of the loot has been put at $10 million, but that’s a likely huge underestimation.

“Low—who became infamous for ripping up Manhattan clubs with $160,000 bar tabs and plied Lindsay Lohan with champagne on her 23rd birthday—was indicted last year in the U.S. on three counts of conspiring to violate foreign anti-bribery laws and launder money. He also faces charges in Malaysia for his alleged role in a scheme to steal billions of dollars …” – The Daily Beast 12 March, 2019.

“Billions of dollars from a state fund (1MDB) meant to help the Malaysian people went missing, disappearing into the shadows of the global financial system.* According to US and Malaysian prosecutors, the money lined the pockets of a few powerful individuals and was used to buy luxury real estate, a private jet, Van Gogh and Monet artworks – and to finance a Hollywood blockbuster. … Authorities in at least six countries (are) probing a vast web of financial transactions stretching from Swiss banks to island tax havens to the heart of South East Asia. Goldman Sachs, one of Wall Street’s most powerful banks, is facing criminal charges in Malaysia – which it says it intends to vigorously defend.” – BBC News special report, 2 April, 2019.

And, oh, look, here’s Trump’s old friend and retired Republican Party charity chugger, Elliott Broidy popping up again:

“The US Justice Department is investigating whether longtime Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy sought to sell his influence with the Trump administration by offering to deliver US government actions for foreign officials in exchange for tens of millions of dollars, according to three people familiar with the probe.

The FBI is: “investigating claims that Broidy sought US$75 million from Malaysian businessman Jho Low if the Justice Department ended its investigation of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), the country’s state investment fund.” The Straits Times, 18 August, 2018.

And, again from The Daily Beast, September 2018:

The team of lawyers and consultants working for Low (in the US) included (New Jersey Governor and former Trump campaign organizer, Chris) Christie, lobbyist Ed Rogers, Trump’s longtime lawyer Marc Kasowitz, Trump Organization lawyer Bobby Burchfield, and vice chairman of the Trump campaign’s joint fund with the Republican Party, Elliott Broidy.”

So, in short, what do we get from this? Well, nothing in life is certain, not even in Trumpworld “death and taxes”, but a brief summary of the allegations goes:

In the summer of 2018, as the Mueller Russia probe continues to draw the crowd in its agonizing buildup to ‘nothing to see, folks’, Malaysian playboy, Jho Low is on the run, wanted by authorities for his part allegedly in shaking down a sovereign wealth fund from which $4.5 billion has gone missing.

A fund created by Prime Minister Abdul Razak, ousted in 2018 by the 92-year-old former PM Mahathir Mohammed amid allegations of corruption, and who was subsequently arrested on charges of embezzlement. (His case comes up in court today, 3 April, 2019.)

“Californian businessman” Broidy, who is so close to Trump he took the rap for paying $1.8 million to Shera Bechard, a Playboy model whose baby Trump allegedly had aborted, apparently in turn tried to shake down J-Low for $75 million on a promise to get his friends, the Trump administration to make the FBI’s investigation go away.

Represented by numerous lawyers and influencers directly connected to Trump, J-Low is thought to have subsequently paid/laundered £100,000 illegally as a foreign entity through a named US intermediary into a SuperPAC set up to fund Trump’s bid for re-election in 2020.

You couldn’t make this up, and there’s more.

Before we go on, most Important: “An attorney for Broidy said in a (brusque) statement: ‘Elliott Broidy has never agreed to work for, been retained by nor been compensated by any foreign government for any interaction with the United States Government, ever. Any implication to the contrary is a lie’.”

I think they mean “imputation”,  but that’s American lawyers for you. Ever! Depending on who you lie to, lying is no more an offence in law than collusion. And just watch that qualified word, “government”. Not “fugitive Great White Whale”.

Meanwhile, according to the Straits Times report, the Justice Department has subpoena’d records related to Broidy’s financial dealings from another Trump ally and Republican fundraiser, Steve Wynn, billionaire owner of Las Vegas casinos. Mr Wynn has reportedly had to step down from his executive role facing allegations of sexual misconduct and reports of attempts by his company executives to bury them, as Reuters and the WSJ have just reported today (02 April).

His lawyers insisted: “Steve Wynn is completely cooperating with the investigation and he certainly has no reason to believe that anyone acted improperly in anything he knew about or was involved in.”

The way this is going, I should not be surprised if Madam Zhang, the Chinese woman who bluffed her way past lax security into Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, clutching a Chinese passport, announcing she was there for a non-existent event and brandishing a bag containing four Chinese cellphones , a laptop and a USB stick loaded with undisclosed “malware”, wasn’t linked in some way to the local Chinese grubby massage parlor lady, Madam Yang, who has been photographed with and sells access to Trump at his club, and all of them involved in a Chinese government or Huawei technology spy plot.

For, read on….

Oh, no, look, don’t. I’m going to leave you with a link to the Straits Times story at the end of this piece, because Shakespeare was spot-on as usual when he wrote: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when once we practise to deceive.” My brain just won’t stretch to all of this. But, reading between the lines, improbably:

You’ll thrill to the allegations, all obviously vigorously denied, that Broidy also solicited $millions from the Chinese government in exchange for a promise to persuade the Emirati of Qatar to help them extract an exiled billionaire dissident, Guo Wengui from the USA. Guo was apparently spilling the beans over corruption allegations against high-ranking officials in the purportedly squeaky-clean Xi regime. Googling his name turns up three interesting facts: 1, he also calls himself Miles Kwok; 2, he has taken Emirati nationality, and 3, he is a good friend of one Steven K Bannon.

That Broidy subsequently tried to sue Qatar for “hacking his email accounts” after he invented the story, fake news retweeted by Trump, that Qatar was a global funder of terrorism – an accusation that went away only after Qatari investors “loaned” $500 million to Charlie, ex-con father of Trump’s near-bankrupt son-in-law and chief White House policy advisor, Jared Kushner, under helpful pressure from his friend Crown Prince bin-Salman of Saudi Arabia, to whom (to oil the wheels, it’s inferred – source: MSNBC) Kushner had used the clearance Trump granted him – against the advice of security advisors – to slip a top-secret CIA list of names of Saudi dissidents and political opponents who ended up being imprisoned and tortured in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh (MSNBC reports), a list possibly including the murdered Washington Post contributor, Jamal Khashoggi…. (That last bit is my own “implication”, but it would explain Mr Trump’s adamantine refusal to point the finger at MBS if it also implicated, a) his son-in-law, and b) his practise of handing out security clearances like candy, wouldn’t it.)

Oh, and (spoiler alert), that Broidy’s wife’s law firm has also provided “advice” to Jho Low.

So somehow, yes, woven through the whole murky tale like a rogue orange thread can dimly be perceived here and there, the bulky figure of President Donald J Trump – who claims to the amusement of the golfing world to have won 18 golf titles, some of which do not even exist.

Welcoming the former Malaysian Prime Minister whose name has been for two years at the centre of the 1MDB scandal, arrested last year and suspected of embezzlement in the sovereign fund he himself created, on 12 September, 2017 the President’s little thumbs had tweeted:

“It was a great honor to welcome Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak of Malaysia and his distinguished delegation to the @WhiteHouse today”.

And praised Najib for “his country’s financial investments in U.S. companies”. (LA Times)

Presumably, the “distinguished delegation” would have been guests at the Trump International Hotel at the old Post Office building in Washington, where foreign diplomats and lobbyists pay up to $170 thousand per room, per night, to hover in the President’s lucrative anteroom; and from which, so far as anyone knows, Trump has not recused himself as the beneficial owner.

So much of this convoluted story contains elements that will be entirely familiar to everyone who has followed what anyone knows of the Mueller investigation, and the extensive, excellent reporting by investigative journalists over the years of the workings of the Trump empire and its global network of pretty fruity business connections. And yet it is a story no-one is piecing together, although it is far more indicative of corruption than Russiagate.

There is of course no suggestion that Mr Trump is personally implicated in the 1MDB scandal, or in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi; although he is suspected of having had some possible knowledge of the Saudi hack of embarrassing sexts from the phone records of his arch-nemesis, Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post – text messages and photos that somehow ended up in Trump’s friend David Pecker’s supermarket gossip-rag, the National Enquirer. And the Post has been most critical of MBS and his role in the Khashoggi murder in recent months.

No, the point of this piece is merely to suggest that perhaps sufficient due diligence is lacking in certain places where US political campaign finance and foreign policy are involved; and that the President and officers of Trump Organization do seem remarkably unlucky in their choice of associates.

When, oh God, will it ever stop?

http://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/trump-fundraiser-under-probe-for-allegedly-seeking-us75m-from-jho-low-over-1mdb

*And, oh dear, here’s Deutsche Bank again… The bank that, where the Trumps were concerned, never liked to say no.

Bloomberg and others report, a senior former DB official, Tan Boon-Kee is on garden leave after being interviewed in connection with the bank’s role in helping to raise $1.2 billion for the 1st Malaysian Development Bank fund, IMDB, much of which has gone missing.

“Investigators in Singapore have asked Tan about her dealings with Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho. Low, wanted in Malaysia and Singapore for alleged money laundering, has been described by U.S. prosecutors as the man behind the 1MDB scheme, though he has consistently denied wrongdoing.

“The inquiry aims to determine whether Deutsche Bank might have violated foreign-corruption or anti-money-laundering laws.”

Goldman Sachs was also being investigated after billing possibly excessive fees of $600 million for helping to launch the fund. “Tim Leissner, an ex-Goldman executive who pleaded guilty last year for his role in the scandal, has been helping with the Deutsche Bank examination.” Tan is also a former Goldman Sachs banker.

Money, they say, makes the world go around. Principally, it seems, by going around the world.

 

We all love a winner

The story I love most about Trump cheating at golf is when he managed to win a tournament he wasn’t even playing in.

The tournament was taking place at his Bedminster club in New Jersey. Seeing the strength of the field, he shot off to play a round at a different club in the next county, and later called in to his club captain to ask what the winning score had been. Told it was 73, Trump immediately claimed to have just shot 72 on the other course, which made him the winner, and ordered the poor guy to replace the name of the winner on the board with his own. Later his caddy confirmed, he’d actually shot 84.

This is the President of the United States of America, such an egoist he even has to cheat at golf. Time will surely make him out to be one of the most fascinating psychological studies of any political figure in history.

PS – The Pumpkin’s confident assertion that the famous “oranges” slip-up, when Trump took three goes last week at struggling to pronounce the word “origins” before giving up, after imagining (not for the first time) that his father was born in a “lovely” part of Germany (Fred Trump was born in The Bronx in 1905) is indicative of Alzheimer’s, may not prove correct. “Mini-stroke” seems to be at least worth considering.

 

Facts, dear boy

An interesting piece on the Politico website today examines the evidence for Trump’s vainglorious claim to be a winner, not just on the golf course, and finds that Washington Post researchers have tracked down well over 60 court cases he has lost in the past two years; mainly on points of law instituted to prevent dictatorial actions on the part of the Executive – America, of course, being the Land of the Free.

Where Presidential edicts are concerned, specifically, they say previous incumbents have had a 70 per cent success rate at defending their policies in the lower courts. Trump’s has fallen to just 6 per cent. Among hideous things he has so far been prevented from doing, are extending drilling rights into the Arctic marine reserve, and forcing people to work for their Medicare.

Of course, we remember the early failures of his nitwitted immigration policy, the discriminatory so-called Muslim ban, that had to go all the way to the more pliable Supreme Court before even a limited version could be implemented.

And it’s all apparently down to the incompetence of the many Trumptards he has casually put into administrative offices for which they have not the slightest interest, knowledge, experience or qualification.

“In case after case, judges have rebuked Trump officials for failing to follow the most basic rules of governance for shifting policy, including providing legitimate explanations supported by facts and, where required, public input. … Two-thirds of the cases accuse the Trump administration of violating the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), a nearly 73-year-old law that forms the primary bulwark against arbitrary rule.”

Interviewed by Politico, one researcher tellingly observed what others have suggested is a key point about the Trump method of administration:

“…they were more interested in making announcements of deregulatory change than in the change itself, so the risk of a judge blocking their actions didn’t concern them all that much.”

In other words, Trumpism is all about style over substance. Facts and Acts don’t come into it. But the betting is, he has a large enough base of dumbfucks who BELIEVE him when he says he has succeeded against the odds in carrying out these wonderful promises, making America great again, that they will vote for him in 2020 regardless of however little he has actually managed to achieve.

White House aides, however, are pointing to signs that he is too old and tired and disillusioned to really want to run again, and is just going through the motions. It will depend, I suppose, on the outcomes of more cases against him, some of which could see him locked up for life should he leave the relative security of the Presidency.

(He is also going around chuckling that he has already lined up another Conservative replacement for the one remaining liberal voice on the Supreme Court, the ailing, 85-year-old legend, Ruth Bader Ginsberg – whom he expects to die any day now. Prompting the question, in the cradle of Democracy why in the hell is the President constitutionally allowed to pack US courts with his own supporters? What idiot thought that one up?)

 

Whaddo I know?

Do you ever have one of those moments where you question everything you think you know? It can be disconcerting.

I was working with a group of actors the other evening, when the subject of “Morocco leather” came up. It was mentioned in the script. One of the younger members of the cast wanted to know what it was?

I immediately launched into one of my knowledgable, elderly wise man-splanations. It was, I asserted confidently, that fake leather fabric you find covering Edwardian (early 20th-century brown) furniture, desktops and so on, usually green or maroon and often with gold tooling.

Before I could finish, however, the questioner had whipped out her cellphone, referenced Google and searched online – it took her all of five seconds – and interrupted me with the news that it was actually goatskin, and came with typographical emboldenings:

“Morocco leather (also known as Levant, the French Maroquin, or German Saffian from Safi, a Moroccan town famous for leather) is a soft, pliable form of leather widely used for gloves and the uppers of ladies’ shoes and men’s low cut shoes, but traditionally associated with bookbindings, wallets, linings for fine … ”

I shan’t bother reading on beyond the headline. “Fine” what? I don’t really care what. I am crushed, and never wish to see or hear of another item made from Morocco leather, lest it remind me of my human failings. Except, of course, that it occurs in one of my lines in the play, so I shall have to be reminded of it about thirty times more, nightly.

Needless to say, since that night I have been discomfited; uncertain, twitchy and neurotic. I feel keenly that I have lost my own compass, and my standing within the group as their oracle and sage; the One who Knows Everything, the All-Seeing Eye – the best bloke for the pub quiz team

I’m now just a daffy old man whose opinion and knowledge are not to be trusted on any subject; even one concerning the past, of which I have considerable – possibly too much – experience.

How many other total misapprehensions have I been laboring under for almost 70 years?

Apart, that is, from a belief in a world of certainties?

 

GW: We should all live in a Yellow Submarine

Iran: The death toll from major floods and landslides over the past 15 days has risen to 62. The southern province of Fars had been hardest hit with 21 dead. 14 people had died in the western province of Lorestan and 8 in the northern province of Golestan. With many unaccounted for the count could still rise. Over 140 rivers have burst their banks, sweeping away roads and bridges. Most of the country has been affected by flooding since March. The north-east was swamped on 19 March before the west and south-west of the country were inundated on 25 March, killing 45 people. (Guardian)

Syria: Flooding has also affected thousands across parts of Iraq and Syria over the last 10 days. Over 6,500 families were affected as flooding hit refugee camps in Northern Syria between 29 to 31 March, 2019. Tents were swept away, and personal belongings were destroyed by the torrential rainfall. 2 people are reported dead. The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations said: “The flooding this season has been terrible and combined with the overcrowding in the camps, is making a bad situation much worse. (Many people have lost everything.) … We call on the international community to provide immediate humanitarian aid, assistance and necessities to those affected.” (Floodlist)

USA: More severe weather has been moving up on the jetstream from the Gulf through the southern states, bringing thunderstorms and “baseball-sized” hail. Temperatures in the southwest are already warming up: Phoenix Az. is posting in the high 90sF, 36C.

Southern Europe: As a slow-moving deep low bringing snow back to the British Isles, in some quantity in the north, drifts gradually southwards, “torrential rainfall (up to 250 mm) and excessive snowfall are expected in parts of the Alps and Apennines in SE France, north Italy, western Slovenia and NW Croatia on Wednesday and Thursday. Significant flooding is possible locally”. (Severe-weather.EU) Update Mon 8 April: Heavy rain fell in parts of Greece over the weekend 05 to 07 April, 2019, causing some flash flooding, in particular on the islands of Rhodes and Crete. Around 20 rescues were effected. This is the third wave of flash flooding to affect Crete since mid-February. (Floodlist)

An eerie image of the jetstream resembling the tormented face in Munch’s The Scream, posted on Arctic News. From Earth Nullschool.

 

There goes the sun…

A lengthy article in Forbes, the business magazine most quoted for its lists of the wealthiest people you’d hope never to meet, makes for depressing reading on the subject of solar energy.

Unless we can manufacture cheap, steady-state, virtually indestructible solar panels, experts say, we are building up a huge problem for the future with large quantities of waste materials having nowhere to go, other than to dumps in poorer countries, and toxic residues from disposing of old or broken panels.

Even while panels are still working, researchers have found heavy metals like cadmium are leaching into the ground; while panels that get smashed, for instance by tornadoes, require the broken glass to be swept up along with all the soil and stones, that make the processing of glass cullet impractical.

The cost of recycling ought to be born by the manufacturers and suppliers, but the added cost often means they go bust, leaving the public to pick up the bill – which is precisiely the problem in the sunniest countries, that tend to be the poorest, but where there are the most panels to safely dispose of – and the weakest regulation.

Chinese companies have adopted a somewhat cynical solution of selling older, used panels on cheaply to Africa and the Middle East, as they’re not required to operate at peak efficiency.

The replacement life of a solar panel in one of those huge arrays is unexpectedly short – maybe only months. And at today’s raw materials prices and with the difficulty of recovering the more valuable contents, it’s not really economical to recycle them.

Oh dear, what to do?

I’ve got a good idea for Forbes. There’s lots of black stuff in the ground we could set fire to instead.

Easier. Cheaper. More… wealthsome.

 

Postscript corner

Bugger burgers

Burger: “a flat round cake of minced beef that is fried or grilled and typically served in a bread roll; a hamburger.
a similarly shaped food item made of a specified ingredient.” (Google)
Burger: 1. Meat or other food pressed into a round, flat shape and fried: 2. short form of hamburger. Learn more. (Cambridge Dictionary)
Gentle Spammers, Likers etc., I think I’ve just become a Leave voter. The dastardly EUs of Brussels are proposing that “burgers” not made with meat must henceforth be known as “discs”, so as not to confuse people, who are of course incredibly thick.
The dead hand of the meat trade lobby is being perceived behind the edict. But it is abundantly clear from the many definitions on the market, that the inclusion of ground meat is not essential to define the term “burger”. Nor will you ever see a “burger” grazing in a field. The burger is not the meat, it is the presentation of the entire dish.
If the EU wises to clear matters up, perhaps they could start with the confusion caused by people calling burgers made with ground beef “hamburgers”.
Or, as President Trump spells it, “hamberders”. He has Alzheimer’s and so is to be excused for reverting to baby language. He is likely to become dreadfully angry and confused, though, when his valet brings him his bedtime “cheese disc” in future.
Hamburgers are not made from ham, but may have originated in Hamburg, a rough port city where anything goes and the sailors are too drunk to tell the difference.
It seems eminently clear that these faux politicians have little understanding of etymology, let alone of how ridiculous they make themselves. The “burger” does not refer to the filling, but to the overall design: sesame bun, wilting lettuce leaf, blob of pepper sauce, slice of Kraft plastic cheese an’ all.
But then why would you expect MEPs on £110k a year plus vast eating-out expenses to know what a friggin’ “burger” is? They can afford not to have to eat shitburgers, “shit discs”, whatever, like the rest of us do.
It’s just that Boris Johnson’s mythical EU ban on bendy bananas comes to mind. That, and Mr Trump lying to a crowd about the Democrats’ Green New Deal taking away their burgers (along with their guns and SUVs). That, and the recent discovery that rightwing Australian PR guru, Lynton Crosby has been channeling £millions in untraceable notes into a social media campaign for the ERG to tell porky-pies about Brexit ‘No Deal’ being as good for people as breathing carbon dioxide, nicotine or Strontium 90.
Should we call Fake Nooze on the whole sorry story? It sounds like it. Or was it an April Fool?
We should be told.
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The Other United States of Corporate Greed… Infamy, they’ve all got it in for me!… What will we talk about when he’s gone?… How do we know the Russians interfered with the US election in 2016?…Clickbait Corner: Uncle Bogler Totally DESTROYS Coconut oil… GW: “Hey-ho, the wind and the rain”… Pack a bag.

“So, there’s this one-legged veteran goes into a bar…”

“It’s almost as if we’re deliberately attempting to defy nature. We’re doing the reverse of what we should be doing, with everybody’s silent acquiescence, and nobody’s batting an eyelid.”Mayer Hillman, Social Scientist, 86, interviewed in The Guardian, 20 Aug.

The Other United States of Corporate Greed

An important article on Opendemocracy.org (21 Aug) draws attention to a little-known treaty drawn up 20 years ago, that allows big energy companies to sue governments that introduce measures to ameliorate climate change.

Pia Eberhardt and Cecilia Olivet write: “Companies are claiming dizzying sums in compensation for government actions that have allegedly damaged their investments, either directly through expropriation or indirectly through regulations of virtually any kind.”

Germany’s phasing-out of nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, for instance, has cost additional billions in compensation awards to energy companies such as the Swedish giant, Vattenfall. “By the end of 2017, governments had been ordered or agreed to pay more than $51 billion in damages”, write the authors, with another $35 billion in current claims going through the arcane system.

A case in Bulgaria, for instance, effectively fined the government hundreds of millions of dollars for ordering a cut in energy prices to benefit poorer consumers. The closure of two dirty coal mines cost the German government an additional $1.4 billion in compensation.

This monstrous arrangement providing a hidden subsidy to the polluters is known as the Energy Charter Treaty. An opposition website, http://www.energy-charter-dirty-secrets.org, states:

“It currently applies to 48 countries stretching from Western Europe through Central Asia to Japan, plus the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community. It grants corporations in the energy sector enormous power to sue states at international investment tribunals for billions of dollars, for example, if a government decides to stop new oil or gas pipelines or to phase out coal.”

The point about it being, the ECT was negotiated largely in conditions of secrecy and is ruled over by an unaccountable triumvirate of anonymous lawyers hearing cases in private. It is increasingly subject to abuse by investment trusts effectively posing as energy corporations through the registration of “mailbox” companies having as few as four employees. The majority of judgements – 60 per cent – that have been resolved have gone against the States being sued, making the bringing of cases a lucrative sideline for the money-breathers.

And of course, losing States settle these often $1 billion-plus lawsuits out of public funds – at the expense of the taxpayers, whose very existence and that of the natural world that supports them is threatened by the well-protected ecocidal corporate policies of the big energy extractors and their oil-soaked shareholders.

And yet, more governments are queuing to sign up.

So the next time you read George Monbiot or Bill McKibben complaining that governments and politicians are not doing enough to halt climate change, just reflect on the ECT and the incredible power the energy corpses wield over our lives and even over our elected governments.

By the way, The BogPo still cannot fathom how on earth this execrable treaty came into being, who brokered it, what legal force it would have if you simply told the triumvirate to go fuck itself, in secret obviously, and why so many national States would want to sign up to it? What’s in it for them?

Can you fathom it?

Oh, right.

Money, probably.

 

“The Atomic Kitten singer Natasha Hamilton was initially flattered to be named Rear of the Year, but that soon changed. “The title felt a bit tongue in cheek,” she says.” Guardian report, presumably while the last competent subeditor on earth was away on holiday.

 

Infamy, they’ve all got it in for me!

On the day Melania Trump made a speech to schoolkids attacking cyber-bullies, her orange husband was tweeting this:

Trump said he hoped “the worst CIA Director in our country’s history, brings a lawsuit. It will then be very easy to get all of his records, texts, emails and documents to show not only the poor job he did, but how he was involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt. He won’t sue!”

It is quite astonishing, not only to those of us outside the Washington beltway (and mercifully, outside the USA altogether) who take a fascinated interest in these matters, that the Republican party hierarchy could read the contents of yet another screaming, paranoid, Sunday-morning Trump tweet like that and not conclude that the self-incriminating President is terminally unhinged.*

Not only is his continual, rambling assault (250 tweets and counting) on a legally constituted investigation by the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, into possible illegal “collusion” between his campaign staffers and the Russian foreign intelligence service, GRU, evidence of a clear and present attempt to obstruct justice.

His dire threat to “get all of his records” to show that former CIA Director, John Brennan is somehow involved with what Trump clearly imagines is a kind of illegitimate freelance assault on his dubious presidency, that he persists without a shred of evidence in blaming on the opposition Democratic party, is an open-and-shut case of extreme abuse of office and little short of blackmail.

And, frankly, in its puerile obsessiveness and wild, swingeing accusations, of insanity…. A craziness literally amplified to Volume 11 today in a Reuter’s interview he gave, in which the madman claimed he could easily take over and run the Mueller investigation himself, only he chooses not to.

(Someone I know was once sectioned under the Mental Health Act for entertaining far more convincing delusions.)

US Presidents do not normally publicly announce that they intend to use their powers to bully, blackmail and intimidate their critics, law officers and potential hostile witnesses into silence. And there is no connection whatever between Brennan and the Mueller investigation. None.

Except that in the bizarre world of Trump, all his critics and detractors – including, it seems, the entire intelligence community – and the ‘fake nooze’ media are plotting against him.

In this case, Trump is clearly terrified that Brennan in his previous incarnation has viewed and continued to have access to incriminating classified foreign intelligence material. Despite his repeated denials of collusion, a new book by veteran NYT journalist, Craig Unger traces more than 50 business connections Trump has had with Russians, many of them organized crime figures. No doubt they will all be known to the security establishment. Hence his many attempts to shut down the inquiry.

Suspending Brennan’s security clearance is just the first step in attempting to muzzle a potential witness, should Mueller find a way to indict a sitting President on felony charges – something that has never been done before, and which may not even be constitutionally possible. Trump’s Republican-packed Supreme Court may have to decide.

Trump is now floundering in uncharted waters. The two previous presidents who attempted to lie and bully their way out of impeachment proceedings, Nixon and Clinton, both made a hash of attacking the investigation as illegitimate. Clinton barely survived impeachment for lying to the House, having been undone by a splash of DNA on a blue dress. Nixon ultimately fell because of abusing his powers to fire, threaten and badger the Special Counsel and intimidate witnesses, when his blunt denials came up against the overwhelming weight of his self-bugged conversations.

The more Trump blusters and bullies, the more powerful enemies he is making and the deeper the pit he is digging for himself and his profoundly corrupt family administration. But as long as supine Senators like McConnell and Ryan, Lindsay Graham (a salutary reminder of his slimy hypocrisy turned up today on MSNBC, in the form of a clip of him denouncing Bill Clinton in the Senate) and the other Republican nematodes turn a blind eye to his worsening mental state and criminal past, you’re stuck with it.

 

What will we talk about when he’s gone?

*What are we to make, for instance, of his latest scrambled oration to his adoring dumbfucks in West Virginia?

Three months ago Trump was denying that he even knew Paul Manafort, who had worked for him only for a very short time, a few days, and had almost nothing to do with his election campaign. Now Manafort, 69, the former chairman for 145 days of the Trump election campaign, who honed his political skills in very well rewarded (but undeclared) positions with Kremlin-backed disruptors in Ukraine, is facing possibly 5-10 years in Leavenworth on tax and bank fraud charges, of which he has just been convicted in a court of law. And Trump is telling his dumbfuck base what a great guy Paul is – because unlike that little rat Cohen, his bagman and protégé for 10 years whom he also hardly knows, he hasn’t spilled the beans to the Mueller investigators.

Why, Donald, what might the Mueller team want beautiful Paul Manafort with his lovely family to talk to them about? Oh, right.

Your “collusion” with the Kremlin, maybe?

How stupid is this man?

Addendum:

Trump’s repeated assertion that he had no connection with Manafort’s activities in Russia and Ukraine is not exactly true, is it. Thus, we cannot entirely go along with frequent assertions in the media that Manafort’s legal difficulties do not relate to the possibility of collusion between the campaign and Moscow, and the Mueller probe. As, indeed, one might ask why Manafort was appointed to the chairmanship of the Trump campaign in the first place? What special skills did he bring to the party?

Eighteen months ago, Politico reported:

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/03/connections-trump-putin-russia-ties-chart-flynn-page-manafort-sessions-214868

‘Nuff said.

(We might note too that two Republican Congressmen, Collins and Hunter, both early Trump backers, are now independently under indictment – the former for insider trading, the latter for 2016 election fraud. Had the Democrats the spine to organize some kind of manifesto for positive change and find a figurehead to lead the charge (it seems they’re keeping Elizabeth Warren back for 2020), the “Blue wave” would seem a lot higher than it currently does.)

 

How do we know the Russians interfered with the US election in 2016?

One way was a “leak” by NSA employee, Reality Winner (an ironic case of nominative determinism, in view of the outcome of that election.)

Although the story emerged independently days later, Ms Winner was arrested and charged with espionage. Many lies were concocted by prosecutors to try to link her with the Taliban or with federal crimes, building a false and monstrous case against her. Her rights were trampled on and she was physically abused and intimidated into entering a guilty plea. She has now received a savage sentence.

Democracy Now! writes:

“NSA whistleblower Reality Winner was handed the longest sentence ever imposed in federal court for leaking government information to the media Thursday (23 Aug). She is the first person to be sentenced under the Espionage Act since President Trump took office.

“Winner was arrested by FBI agents at her home in Augusta, Georgia, on June 3, 2017, two days before The Intercept published an exposé revealing Russian military intelligence conducted a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software company just days before the U.S. presidential election. The exposé was based on a classified NSA report from May 5, 2017, that shows that the agency is convinced the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, was responsible for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

Powerful interview with James Risen, The Intercept’s senior national security correspondent and former New York Times reporter: https://democracynow.org

If anyone deserves a presidential pardon, it is surely Ms Winner, for her selfless act in exposing an attack by a hostile power on the US constitution, knowledge that her pathetic and disgusting employers had sat on for many months in fear of being accused of influencing the election; which Director slimy Jim Comey had then gone ahead and done anyway by leaking just days beforehand that he had reopened the investigation into Candidate Clinton’s emails.

But Trump is not going to pardon Winner, is he. He continues fatuously to deny the “reality” of the GRU campaign against his country, as everyone assumes because he was deeply complicit in it. His pardons are reserved only for those who express their loyalty to himself, or whose filthy racist politics and abuses in public office qualify them to belong to his exclusive club.

Ms Winner is now beginning a sentence of five years and one month for her patriotism and public service.

Shame on the in-Justice Department. Shame on the craven and bullying FBI. Shame on the madman, Trump.

Deep shame on America.

 

Clickbait corner

I’ve got a luvverly bunch of killer platelets

“…celebrity endorsements from Gwyneth Paltrow (for it is She… Ed.) and others have helped UK sales of coconut oil surge from about £1m to £16.4m in the past four years…” (Guardian report)

Oil swell that doesn’t end well…

Researchers however have found that “Coconut oil contains more than 80% saturated fat, more than twice the amount found in lard, and 60% more than is found in beef dripping”, and is likely to massively increase lethal LDL cholesterol, leading to a pandemic of heart disease. Epidemiologist, Dr Karen Michels of Harvard University commented: “It’s one of the worst things you can eat … pure poison”.

Do not swallow Gwyneth Paltrow. You have been warned!

 

175 mph Lane bears down on Hawaii. (CBS)

GW: “Hey-ho, the wind and the rain”

Pacific: “Ferocious Hurricane Lane continues to chug across the central Pacific. As of 5 pm EDT Monday, Lane was located about 580 miles southeast of Hilo, heading west at 12 mph. Lane’s top sustained winds had increased to 130 mph, making it a low-end Category 4 storm.” Bob Henson, Wunderground, reporting that weakening high pressure may allow Lane to veer northwards and collide with the Hawaiian islands.

Stop Press, 22 Aug: “…Central Pacific Hurricane Center upgraded Lane to Category 5 storm Tuesday, with top sustained winds near 160 mph and a minimum central pressure of 940 mb. Then:

“Lane intensified steadily through the day with its central pressure dropping from 940 mb at 2 pm EDT to 929 mb by 11 pm EDT. Data from a reconnaissance flight on Tuesday night showed Lane was strengthening even further, with an extrapolated central pressure of 922 mb and an SFMR surface wind estimate of 152 knots (175 mph) reported just before midnight EDT.” (Wunderground)

Top sustained wind of 175 mph implies gusts at the eyewall of 220 mph…. This is a beast and a half. Henson confirms, its northwesterly track should bring it over the Hawaiian islands on Saturday, where another state of emergency has been declared.

Korea: on top of its recent deadly heatwave, Korea is about to be slammed into by Typhoon Soulik, on an unusual west coast trajectory; while Typhoon Cimaron following on behind is about to collide with Japan, where record flooding killed over 200 people at the start of the month. With sustained windspeed of 115 mph, Soulik is a Cat 3, expected to dump perhaps 10-in of rain over the capital, Seoul. Cimaron is forecast to be a Cat 1 storm across central Japan, arriving perhaps just south of Kyoto, on Thursday 24 Aug, local time. (Wunderground)

India: is still getting hammered by monsoon rains. With the death toll over 320 in Kerala, 8 people have been killed in Karnataka since 14 Aug. “More than 800 homes have been destroyed and roads severely damaged, leaving communities isolated.” (Floodlist)

Niger: “19 people have died in flooding and landslides since July this year. As of 13 August, a total of 65,170 people had been affected in all 8 regions of the country. Over 5,000 homes have collapsed in the heavy rain, over 25,000 livestock and 6,535 hectares of crops have been destroyed.” 350 cases of cholera have been confirmed. (From Floodlist report citing local authorities) There’s flooding too in neighboring Nigeria, and in Algeria, where 5 people have died in floods near Tamanrasset.

Italy: 10 hikers drowned and a further 14 were rescued on 20 Aug when a creek running through a deep mountain gorge in the Pollino National Park in Calabria turned into a raging torrent after heavy rainfall upstream. Rescue teams, including divers, mountain rescue and a helicopter searched the area overnight. “Earlier this month 5 canyoners died when flash floods swept through a valley on the French island of Corsica“. (From Floodlist reports)

Portugal, Spain: record-breaking heat is expected to return to the Iberian peninsula at the weekend, with temperatures possibly exceeding 48C, 118F.

UK: “Car McGeddon…” Reports are only now emerging of a localized flood on 28 July that may have damaged up to 1000 cars parked at Belfast airport, after 88.2 mm rain fell in three hours – more than a month’s worth. Insurers have written off several cars to date, describing them as potential deathtraps. (BBC)

A problem we have with the media, in common with poor, frustrated Mr Trump: under Related Articles, without embarrassment the Express reports sequential stories it has recently run, as follows….

  • UK weather: August forecast for HEAVY RAIN ends heatwave
  • UK weather: Heatwave to last until OCTOBER

USA: “California remains in the grip of deadly wildfires which continue to threaten thousands of properties.” At least 10 people have been killed and 2 million acres burned. Some fires have been burning so fiercely they have created their own weather. A huge fire “tornado” in Shasta County (the Carr fire, now 91% under control) killed a firefighter and a digger driver, reaching a temperature hot enough to melt steel.  (From Express report, 20 Aug.)

For latest Calfire info, there’s a good San Francisco Chronicle interactive at projects.sfchronicle.com/2018/fire-tracker/

Canada: “Forests burning across British Columbia are littered with millions of hectares of dead trees that turn into volatile fuel in conditions such as this year’s drought, experts say.” There are currently more than 500 wildfires burning across B.C., which has been in a province-wide state of emergency since last week. Fires are burning through dead wood resulting from a 1999-2012 pine-beetle infestation. Government has ignored successive reports warning about lack of funding for fire prevention. (Reporting: Vancouver Globe and Mail)

World: what we’re missing…

“To calculate the global mean on maps, NASA uses four zonal regions (90-24ºS, 24-0ºS, 0-24ºN, and 24-90ºN) and fills gaps in a region by the mean over the available data in that region. In datasets, however, missing data are typically ignored. This could make a difference of 0.2°C. Ignoring data for the Arctic alone could make a difference of 0.1°C.

Depending on how the above three points are dealt with, the temperature in August 2018 may well be more than 3°C above the mean annual global temperature in 1750. The question is whether August 2018 will be warmer than August 2016, which was 2.3°C warmer than 1980-2015.” – Arctic News.

Remembering that, while 2018 has not thus far been globally the hottest year ever measured, as a year with no warming El Niño current it still sits within the top five and all of those have fallen within the past five years; while many more hottest and most persistent temperature records (day or night) have been broken this year, than coldest. As Arctic News’ ‘Sam Carana’ points out (19 Aug) it’s the extremes that kill, not the global mean, and we ought to be paying more attention to those.

 

La terra trema….

There has been a huge increase in earthquake activity around the globe in the past week, with a corresponding increase in magnitudes. Following “the largest deep earthquake on record”, a M8.2 hundreds of Km beneath the south Pacific, northeast Venezuela was hit yesterday, 21 Aug, by a shallow M7.3, followed just four hours later by a provisional M7 in the Solomon Islands, near Vanuatu; and a M6.3 off the coast of Oregon.

Interestingly, the two recent M6+ earthquakes at Lombok, Indonesia are precisely antipodal to the Venezuela epicentre. Earthquake predictor, “Dutchsinse” warns, buckle up – it may get worse – and have a plan.

Pack a bag

The BogPo has wondered about the “Ring of Fire”, that connected chain of volcanoes and earthquake-prone zones all around the Pacific, that is so active at present. Is it perhaps a geological weakness in the Earth’s crust, a legacy of the ancient planetary collision that hollowed out the vast Pacific ocean basin and sent billions of tonnes of debris spinning into space to form our Moon?

Anyway, much speculation accompanies the latest outbreak of quakes and eruptions, that they might be leading up to a true ‘megaquake’ of M9 or greater. The US west coast seems favorite.

Or it could all just settle down again, no-one can say.

Grenfell, a bonfire of the sanities… We can’t hear you, Mr Secretary – a letter to Rex Tillerson… Fore!… GW: warming her gnarly fingers by the light of the burning windmills… Dissertation: On the Tedium of Buying Stuff From Builders’ Merchants.

Two thousand liters of water are needed to produce just one kilo of avocados. – Guardian

This may explain why Avi, my avocado tree, has yet to produce fruit. She’s lucky to get a couple of pints a week…

x

Grenfell

A bonfire of the sanities

It is clearly not good enough nowadays to know what you are talking about.

Any “expert” who fails to court the approval of the Sun newspaper and the rag-tag and bobtail herd of self-publicizing, technologically unsophisticated and overpromoted windbag MPs is doomed to be ground to dust and scattered to the winds of history.

The BogPo has previously noted how the aptly named Professor Nutt, among the world’s leading experts on the neurological effects of recreational drugs, lost his post as head of a commission set up to review the regulatory framework when he published a scientifically determined recommendation that certain drugs could safely be declassified to save policing costs and cut the prison population, thereby incurring the predictable wrath of a scientifically unqualified but clearly panic-stricken Home Secretary.

Then there was the Attorney-General of Northern Ireland, who sensibly proposed abandoning an almost entirely fruitless and seemingly unending inquiry into the 30-years-old crimes committed during The Troubles, ordered in the wake of the Good Friday agreement to bring “closure” to victims’ families, as it was badly draining police resources sorely needed to fight today’s crimes. That cost him his job in a welter of Cameronian outrage.

You would think that these so-called “experts” would know better than to make sensible suggestions based on advanced knowledge and years of research. Would it not make perfect sense to save money by not having an education system at all, but to put children directly to work in call-centres?

(Subsequently a number of MPs have called for the Northern Ireland investigations to carry on, while demanding the inquiry overlook the clandestine role of the security services in well-publicized political assassinations. There clearly needs to be one law for the baddies and another for the good killers. It’s an insult to our brave boys to pursue them for their murky conspiracies after all this time. After all, there was a war on.*)

So, this morning a report is published by a leading engineer and public safety specialist, looking into the use and application of the building regulations in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

This was not the fabled, judge-led “inquiry” into how 72 people came to lose their lives in that towering inferno, which hasn’t even started yet*, but merely a supportive technical report into building safety, human accountability and the regulatory environment.

Before anyone could possibly have read, let alone understood all 350 densely argued technical pages, the media and politicians – experts all – were stridently demanding the head of Dame Judith Hackett on a platter for failing, seemingly, to do the obvious thing.

Scrap 349 pages of the report and use Page One to call for an immediate ban on the filthy stuff: yes, killer cladding….

Cladding helped spread the fire. But was its use already banned?

Never mind that there are already explicit legal controls on the use of flammable materials in high-rise buildings. Controls that are not being properly enforced, as Dame Judith cogently reports, with local authorities, architects and builders cutting corners and costs. The point being that they need to be properly enforced through a thorough overhaul of the systems for specifying, testing and applying these materials safely, making certain people accountable for failures at every stage of the planning and construction process.

It’s not a cladding issue, so much as an enforcement problem. And Dame Judith argues that until the regulations are more tightly enforced and people made accountable, no amount of banning is going to help.

Tell that to the Marines, as they used to say.

Dame Judith is a serious academic and so failed completely to comprehend her role in all of this, which was simply to go along with the unlettered emotional demands of the lawyers, survivors and families of the victims of the fire, the media and Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey, and BAN the filthy stuff, whatever it is.

Just magic it away.

Why they don’t get sick-bitch Katie Hopkins or Trevor fucking Kavanagh of The Sun or Owen Jones and Polly Toynbee of The Guardian to handle these investigations – “experts” who understand that the real issues  are too much immigration, too little social equality, Tory indifference – is not immediately obvious.

It didn’t help either that, when asked three times on BBC Radio 4’s Today show why she did not call for a ban on flammable cladding and solve all of the problem forever, as if Martha Kearney was the only one who had thought of it, Dame Judith stupidly tried three times to explain that banning it was not really the solution, until it sounded as though she was suggesting setting fire to all high-rise buildings.

Sometimes people are too clever for their own good.

It does not help that she is a former director of the Energy Saving Trust, an organization that in the past promoted the use of a similar type of plastic cladding insulation to that which contributed its toxic fumes to the high death toll at Grenfell House. (Guardian report)

Notwithstanding, the regulations already state that it must not be used on high-rise buildings, and Dame Judith’s point is that someone had been responsible for ignoring the regulations, while others had failed to implement safety measures recommended by previous inquiries, such as the mandatory retrofitting of sprinklers, which certain politicians still in office had determined would be too expensive to waste on the poor. Banning polyisocyanurate foam (PIR), she argues, will not help if people were simply going to break the rules.

A subtle distinction which, I fear, does not lend itself to the construction of crowd-pleasing headlines and sensible political statements free from electioneering and media-driven hysteria, pandering to the general ignorance of the public, promoting further socially damaging mistrust of people who do at least know what they’re talking about.

*

*Okay, it started the next day. By one of those astonishing synchronicities for which The BogPo is justly famed, this story resurfaced in the news just 24 hours after I posted the paragraph above about Northern Ireland, and in pretty much the same format as the original, in 2014:

Prosecutions for Troubles-related murders should be brought to a halt, according to Northern Ireland’s former Director of Public Prosecutions. Barra McGrory denounced proposals for a new Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) as “convenient politically”. But he added it had not been properly thought through. In response a UK government spokesman said it was “committed to building widespread consensus and delivering better outcomes”. (BBC News)

Let’s see how long McGrory lasts. Longer than this government, one hopes.

x

A Letter to Rex Tillerson

Former US Secretary of State, retd.

Dear Mr Secretary

You were, I believe, the Secretary of State for the United States government in 2017 exactly a year ago, when President Trump made his much-hailed visit to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia – and then on to Tel Aviv, the erstwhile capital of Israel?

And the Secretary of State is, correct me if I am wrong, the senior diplomat, consulting on and implementing, if not always driving foreign policy?

Trump waggles his weapon. Was Qatar shafted to the hilt?

I am wondering therefore how you have responded, in your reserved and private fashion, to the emerging news of what might have happened, there in Riyadh and afterwards?

I am referring, obviously in the first instance (we’ll leave Israel out of it for now), to the Qatar affair.

For it seems that while you were supposedly in command of international diplomacy, being constantly undermined by your boss, the following narrative was playing out, very probably without your knowledge.

Qatar, Mr Trump assured us at the time of his visit, was a good friend of the USA and a key ally in the fight against ISIS. He met the Emir, vague promises of $billions in military sales were made for the cameras – it should be remembered that Qatar already hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East, al Udeid, the forward operations headquarters of Centcom.

On the basis of what is currently suspected rather than definitively known, however, behind the young Emir’s back – and apparently yours, Mr Secretary –  Mr Trump was doing – or soon afterward did – one of his famous “deals” with the Saudis.

The presumption has to be, does it not, that he offered to go ahead with abrogating the Iran nuclear pact in Saudi’s regional hegemonic interest, in exchange for certain services?

(He is, as you well know, apart from Messrs Bolton and Pompeo, two convenient anti-Iran “hawks” he appointed to the senior security and foreign policy posts in his administration just before announcing US withdrawal, the only person in the foreign policy establishments of more than half the world who thinks it is a good idea to abandon the Iran treaty.)

The deal, I believe, was much as follows:

Saudi Arabia under its new Crown Prince, a US shoo-in, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would agree to put intolerable pressure on Qatar to meet certain, may we say incoherent, objectives. Economic and trade sanctions, a blockade of essential supplies, closure of the Al Jazeera news services, even military invasion were threatened. America would not be directly involved, but would explicitly support those actions.

Mr Trump in turn would make speeches to his not very bright support base, accusing Qatar of this and that, being a major funder of global terrorism, a secret ally of Iran, etc., etc., undermining their global credibility – especially that of their wealthy international investment community, to whom his comments were clearly addressed.

But why pick on poor little oil-rich Qatar?

Perhaps because Mr Charles Kushner, father of Trump’s son-in-law and “senior White House advisor” in charge of Middle East peace negotiations, the shining booby Jared, had – it’s reported – been lobbying the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, touting for a half-billion dollar investment to bail out his failing property empire in the States.

The Kushners were desperate for cash.

In 2007, while Kushner Sr was in gaol over fraud and witness tampering charges – he sexually blackmailed his own brother-in-law – left in charge, pathetically eager to please, Jared had done a hasty and ill-considered deal to acquire a massive piece of Manhattan real estate, 666 Fifth Avenue, and had caught a serious cold with the financial meltdown that year, incurring debts approaching two billion dollars from which he’s never recovered.

Chinese banks had originally offered rescue finance, but withdrew. On that basis, Qatar felt the Kushners’ credit was not good enough, and also withdrew. Two weeks later, the threats from Riyadh began; boosted in April this year by a further threat, directly from Washington to relocate the vital al Udeid airbase and its 10 thousand US service personnel to another country.

But then, by a fantastic stroke of luck, or in a sensible and informed change of heart, the New York Times reports, having granted Saudi Arabia its reward, not to mention Israel’s, this month Mr Trump began once again hailing Qatar as an important friend and ally. The UAE is backing off and all’s right with the world.

A sudden and, observes MSNBC News, a remarkable turnaround. Well, and how did that happen?

So, Kushner Companies are presumably celebrating the news from Bloomberg that the Qatari sovereign wealth fund is “looking again“ at the many obviously advantageous opportunities presented by becoming a part-owner of Manhattan’s most prestigious, near-empty office block.

Could it be there’s a connection? Nah, it’s too far-fetched. The President start a war just for personal gain? Preposterous! A conspiracy theory. Fake nooze.

(A building, incidentally, over the marketing of hard-to-shift units within which Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump were to be indicted for sales misrepresentation – until Mr Trump’s election, when the charge simply melted away, along with all the District Attorneys in New York.)

Mr Secretary, I wonder what you think of this criminal shakedown of a sovereign nation by the most corrupt US president in history? A nation which, we might mention, competes aggressively for major real estate deals around the world?

To bend US government policy to the fraudulent acquisition of public wealth might in some unimaginable but possibly plausible universe at least have benefited the nation.

But to conspire to extort foreign finance purely for the private benefit of his son-in-law, a government official to boot; to blackmail and threaten the existence of a sovereign nation, to risk a regional war leading to a greater conflagration and the security of a major US military facility purely for a sum of money which Mr Trump has extensively boasted he has in his own bank accounts, and much more, is surely a criminal and treasonous enterprise worthy of condign punishment?

Will you please, Mr Tillerson, for God’s sake and that of your benighted Republic, speak up about what you know, or suspect you know about this squalid “deal”?

We can’t hear you, Mr Secretary.

 

Fore!

And why wouldn’t Trump extort money from little Qatar, when as a quid pro quo he’s ordered his consigliere, Wilbur Ross at the Commerce department to lift sanctions on ZTE, a giant Chinese telcoms company he previously accused of ripping off US tech firms, when by an amazing coincidence the Bank of China has just agreed a $500 million loan to finance a resort project in Indonesia featuring Trump-branded hotels and golf courses?

Let’s stop pretending, if we ever did, shall we? His modus operandi is becoming clearer by the day: he is abusing the power of his office and the might and global reach of the USA to extort vast sums of money from corporations and even nations for his own personal gain and that of his crime family.

(The latest one is Ukraine, whose government has reportedly paid $400 thousand into the Cohen slush fund for access to the White House.)

The President of the United States is one big, fucking crook. Not in the usual sense they all have been, one way or another. No, actions speak louder than words. Trump’s methodology is to run the world misusing US foreign policy as a vast protection racket. And to co-opt the American people as his accomplices in crime.

It’s doubtful that even the vast and rambling Mueller probe is going to unseat him, or even prevent him running for and probably winning, a second term in 2020.

Because, like all the best mobsters, Trump is untouchable. His lieutenants may go down, his wheeler-dealing may look heinous, the corruption blatant: but so far, nothing seems to be linking him directly with any actual crimes.

And even if it did, the constitutional issue of whether a President can be indicted for any common criminal activity short of treason remains an open one.

x want to extort money from Qatar

GW: warming her gnarly fingers by the light of the burning windmills

Afghanistan: “At least 40 people have died and 4 injured in flash floods over the last 7 days. Many areas of the country are still struggling with drought conditions after an unusually dry winter. The number of people forced by drought to migrate within the country has reached more than 20,000″ (Edited report from Floodlist, 16 May.) PS: 21May,

An update by Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) of 20 May reported that the total number of flood related deaths now stands at 72. “The flood situation has worsened over the last few days as heavy rain has continued to fall.”

India: “At least 80 people have died as powerful storms swept through northern India, demolishing houses, uprooting trees as winds turned the skies brown with dust and sand, officials said Monday. More storms are expected in the region this week. Less than 2 weeks ago, similar storms caused 134 deaths and injured another 400. The extreme weather comes amid withering summer heat and approaching monsoon rains.” – Wunderground

Sri Lanka: The “Department of Meteorology said that Anamaduwa, Puttalam, North Western Province recorded 35.3  cm of rain (1 ft) in 24 hours to early 21 May.” (Floodlist). Possibly 5 people have died as a result of flooding and landslides as the island is battered by storms, dumping up to 15 cm of rain a day over several days.

“Far East”: US scientists at NOAA are trying to track a major unexplained source of the globally banned ozone-killing refrigeration-to-aerosols chemicals, CFCs, detected as a result of research showing the ozone holes created in the 1980s aren’t repairing themselves fast enough.

S Korea: flash-floods in and around Seoul, 1 dead, 1 missing as 20 cm of rain falls in 36 hours.

Syria: Heavy rainstorms caused flash-floods in parts of the country, including Banias and Aleppo, on 12 May.

NE Africa: A rare tropical cyclone, Sagar is concentrating in the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and Somalia. Sagar’s main threat is dangerous flash flooding in the deserts of southern Yemen, northern Somalia and Djibouti into the weekend. (The Weather Channel) … “Severe flash flooding and river flooding across the region will lead to a loss of human life, livestock, and the destruction of crops, property and infrastructure. Very heavy rainfall occurring across Western Yemen (linked to, although not directly from the cyclone) is likely to promote cholera infection rates in the weeks ahead.” – (UK Met Office)

16 dead, many missing. On Sunday, forecast models indicated that a disturbance dubbed 92A could develop into an intense hurricane-strength cyclone this week, possibly threatening Oman by late in the week.

N Africa: the town of Setif in Algeria experiences flash-flooding following a heavy rainstorm.

Hold that taiga! Siberia burns, as seen from space. 15 May.

Russia: Vast plumes of smoke are visible from space along the Amur river near Komsomolsk and around Chelyabinsk, blowing towards the Arctic, as Siberia continues to burn out of control after a month of wildfires. (Siberian Times report)

USA: “Severe storms caused major damage in Northeastern USA on 15 May. 2 deaths were reported – an 11-year-old girl in Newburg, New York, the other in Danbury, Connecticut (where 4 tornadoes, 3 at max. TF-1, touched down on 17 May) – as a result of falling trees. Almost 400,000 people were without power in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Heavy flooding was reported in parts of Maryland, in particular Montgomery and Fredrick counties, where up to 6 inches of rain fell during the storm. Hail up to 2.5 inches (63.5 mm) was also reported.” (Edited report from Floodlist, 16 May. More “severe” storms are forecast for the midwest at the weekend.)

USA: “…the California Energy Commission has unanimously voted to approve measures requiring solar panels on all new homes, condos and multi-family buildings up to three stories high beginning in 2020. The requirement is a historic first in the United States and is in keeping with the state’s ambitious zero net energy goals to reduce greenhouse emissions.” The decision emerged the same day a 350-page report was released, highlighting rapidly accelerating climate change in the region. – (The Weather Channel.)

Alabama Senator, Mo Brooks distinguished his Republican self in a committee hearing when, while browbeating a climate scientist, he attributed sea-level rise to rocks and stuff falling into the water, “like the White Cliffs of Dover”…

Colombia: severe thunderstorm inundates Medellin. (CEWN #118)

The scene in Guatemala yesterday (Photo: Red Cross)

Guatemala: 10 cm rain in 24 hrs, floods. 2 dead, 80,000 flooded out. (Floodlist, 19, 21 May)

Europe: It’s been snowing in the highlands of central France, the Alps and over into the Balkans. Up in Scandinavia and northwestern Russia there’s a record spring heatwave, with temperatures in Finland and Sweden touching 30 deg C, 85F. Lapland is bracing for its worst spring thaw floods in decades. Severe thunderstorms and torrential rain have brought flash-flooding to parts of the Netherlands and Germany. The town of Bistransky in Croatia was underwater. (CEWN #118)

Germany: on 16 May, during a powerful storm two people were injured by a huge tornado that hit Viersen, near Dusseldorf. (CEWN #119)

UK: Good news, bad news…. “Britain’s windfarms provided more electricity than its 8 nuclear power stations in the first three months of 2018, marking the first time wind has overtaken nuclear across a quarter. Wind power produced 18.8% of electricity, second only to gas …. At one point overnight 17 March, wind turbines briefly provided almost half of the UK’s electricity.” However…

“Funds going into renewable energy fell more than 50% in 2017, having dropped by 10% in 2016, bringing annual investment in the sector to its lowest since the financial crisis in 2008. The environmental audit committee said (16 May) that the government would be unable to meet its pledges on carbon emission reductions if the collapse continued. The MPs also said the government was failing to implement policies to cut emissions. (Reporting: The Guardian)

As if that were not enough, British Environment Secretary, Michael Gove was summoned to Strasbourg earlier in the year to explain Britain’s failure to do anything much about NOx pollution:

“On Thursday morning (17 May), after an apparently unconvincing performance and an extension of the deadline to come up with policies, the UK has now been referred to the European Court of Justice, along with the other big polluters: France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Romania. The limits set out on air pollution under EU Directive 2008/50/EC had to be met in two stages, by 2005 and 2010, but are still being breached by the referred states as of 2018.” – The Independent.

Insectageddon

Mildly drunk, I’d left some of the dog’s meat out uncovered on the kitchen worktop overnight. This morning it was still there, gently oxidizing, and not a fly to be seen.

Normally after a week of warm sunny weather it’d have turned to fly-egg pie by then. There wasn’t a pregnant bluebottle anywhere in view; not even an egg. It’s late May, and 17 degrees.

Later, I took Hunzi for his usual walk. Apart from a few gnats, I saw no flying insects. No butterflies on the sedum flowers, no bees on the clover. There’s not much out by way of pollen-rich wildflowers, but there’s enough. This time last year we had a minor plague of click-beetles and false-wasps of various kinds feasting on the rotting umbrels of cow-parsley flowers.

No cow-parsley flowers.

Botanists using standard measurements for this and that say Spring is arriving 26 days earlier now than 100 years ago. This year it arrived 26 days late. The last trees – mainly ash – are only just coming into leaf now. Many have abnormal leaf development, while conifers around the sports ground here are massively overproducing cones, often straight out of the bare wood, and the Corsican pines all appear to have developed some kind of browning-off disease.

I think the reason for the lack of insects is not insecticides – we have no commercial or arable farming locally for miles, just sheep. It’s the dislocation of the seasons. Everything evolved in synch, now we have winter arriving in spring, wetter summers colliding with warmer, dryer winters; shorter autumns. Insects and plants evolved to emerge at times beneficial to each other: now the clock is broken.

Either that, or it’s those darned chemtrails. Plus, of course, Planet X Nibiru and the Hawaiian volcano.

A propos of which:

Hawaii’s Big Island increasingly resembles the pit of Hell. But the residents are mostly staying put. (Photo: Express)

“Lava destroyed four more homes and isolated dozens of others in the shadow of the volcano Saturday during a “very active” morning, according to scientists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. It advanced at rates of up to 300 yards per hour.

“It then entered the Pacific Ocean, forming lava haze, or “laze,” as the hot lava hit the ocean, the Star-Advertiser also reported. Residents were warned to stay away from any ocean plumes, as laze sends steam and hydrochloric acid peppered with fine glass particles into the air.”

22 fissures are now spewing molten lava into the air and a major eruption is still a possibility.

Awesome footage:

weather.com/news/news/2018-05-02-hawaii-kilauea-volcano-activity

x

Dissertation

On the Tedium of Buying Stuff From Builders’ Merchants.

When our two nearest branches of the B&Q consumer DIY supplies chain closed two years ago (to “increase our consumer choice”, according to the press release), it left in the town no midrange supplier of useful materials for light amateur building work.

If you needed to buy things like bricks, paviors and fencing panels, timber, doors, paint or sheet materials, the choice came down to, either housewares stores and garden centers stocking none of those items, or the full-blown builders’ and agricultural Trade merchants, with their grudging back-store bins of tools, ironmongery, creosote and useful unexplained small architectural items.

There’s nothing inbetween.

So my new garden wall, all six feet ten of it (it’s taken ten days to get that far) that’s reached its final brick course with just two more bricks still needed – one-and-a-half, actually – and no more cement mortar, was sitting there in the sunshine on a Saturday morning before work (yes, I have work, for now!), inviting me to spend a few hours completing it, had I the requisite supplies (it’s always a fine calculation between ordering too much and too little).

Accordingly, as I wasn’t really needed in an exam room with only ten candidates still sitting, I took an unpaid hour off work to get to a local builders’ merchant I’ve been using for the project in time before they closed – at noon.

Arriving at ten minutes to, I found the front gate half shut. A surly young man warned me to turn around, as they were closing in “two minutes”. Can I have fifty bricks? I asked, having the previous week pre-purchased 250 to finish the wall but, having nowhere they could all be delivered to and stored simultaneously, suggested they hang on to them and I would collect them as needed. “Fifty?” he demanded, incredulously. “But we’re closing now!”

Eventually he relented and started loading the car. There were some other small items needed, but I thought better of going in to the Trade counter and even daring to ask, when obviously they were all hoping to fuck off early, presumably to catch the Royal Wedding… lolz.

This deliberately offensive recalcitrance is just so typical of the builders’ merchants’ anachronistic business model.

It is of course designed to suit the traditional bare-buttocks Trade builder, who doesn’t work weekends. Or doesn’t he? The Ukrainians putting up the 12 million-pound flats next door to my old mum in London worked weekends, evenings too. Drove her barmy. The times, they have a’ changed. Except in the wholesale supply business, obviously.

Who else still closes at 5 p.m. weekdays and noon on Saturdays, just when hardworking householders have done their supermarket shopping and are thinking about getting out and doing stuff around the garden? Here is an obvious consumer market opportunity being missed to suit the recidivist and curmudgeonly jobsworths who populate the building supplies trade.

Usually three or four blokes are hanging around the office area behind the counter, doing what looks suspiciously like nothing much. A phone will be ringing off the wall but no-one takes any notice of it – nor of the two or three crumpled-looking, dust-covered, boiler-suited customers – and you, trying to catch their eye. Instead, the customers catch yours, observing how your lack of a well-filled toolbelt and steel toecapped boots, your unlined face, plaster-dust-free hair and soft hands indicate you’re just another householder imagining you can do a man’s job and thereby save yourself a pittance.

Huh, little do you know!

One sales assistant will be listlessly doing something on an aged computer running Windows 6; another making tea, a third drinking his slowly. A fourth will be laboriously browsing through a trade catalog to find the price of the thing someone asked for, half an hour ago. The phone will be ringing off the wall. None will actually be assisting.

Every request is greeted with much sucking of teeth and rolling of eyes. “Ooh, dunno mate, was it the triple-flanged 4 mil. squiggled wonkin you was wanting, or just the double? Only they don’t make those in brown anymore, purple do you?…”

Endless forms will be generated in triplicate, to be taken along by hand to the warehouse, way across the nine-tenths empty yard, as proof of purchase, plus VAT, where three more blokes doing nothing much will scan them for several long minutes before emitting deep sighs of frustration. “You want it cut to length? Here’s a saw…” Later, they will all guffaw over your CCTV footage.

It’s like finding yourself back in the early 1960s.

How do they do it? B&Q would have been open until 8 p.m. Saturday, and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Even the local recycling center, with its bolshy operatives and Hitlerian foreman is open on a Sunday. With five builders’ merchants in and around the town it’s a miracle how at least four haven’t gone out of business years ago, owing to their infuriatingly lackadaisical approach to customer service and short supplies of almost everything.

Yet miraculously they survive, while the Bs & Qs of this world are increasingly going under. Overpriced and poor quality, it’s no wonder we can’t build affordable homes that don’t leak.

I’d guess the key is, don’t try to be a supermarket unless you’re a supermarket. Builders’ merchants have understood the principle well, and there they still are, curse them, sitting on their grim industrial estates, resolutely closed at every opportunity.

The British love and deserve nothing better than to be monumentally frustrated, a service the builders’ merchants deliver with aplomb.

 

The BogPo – this week’s Post in the melting pot: One law for the movers and shakers… GW: gaily coloured sails out to sea, tacking to and fro… They think it’s all over…Who is Andrew Wheeler?

Great Gerald Ratner moments #27…

“I can’t control them,” Palihapitaya said of his former employer. “I can control my decision, which is that I don’t use that shit. I can control my kids’ decisions, which is that they’re not allowed to use that shit.” – Guardian, 12 Dec.

Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice-president for user growth (trans: marketing? Ed.) at Facebook, on social media.

 

One law for the movers and shakers

We read that Mr Paul Dacre has been awarded a 56% payrise… Or to put it another way, he has neatly sidestepped not receiving anything at all. The Guardian reports:

“Dacre was moved from DMGT’s annual bonus scheme to the LTIP in 2015 to make his remuneration “more directly linked to the overall success of the business”. His total remuneration of £2.37m – up 56% on £1.5m in 2016 when he had yet to receive his first LTIP payout – follows a 20% slump in DMGT’s share price after the company reported a sharp drop in annual profits and warned of a tough year ahead. … Overall, DMGT posted a 13% fall in adjusted profits before tax to £226m for the year to the end of September. Revenues were also down 13%,to £1.66bn.” – The Guardian

The abrasive Mail editor, 69, is also sitting on a £700 thousand annual pension entitlement. For comparison, your hardworking Uncle Bogler (68) receives roughly £14,000 a year before tax from his expansive pension pot; whilst nevertheless enjoying life to the full.

Meanwhile, the Mail continues its relentless campaign of outing greedy university Vice-Chancellors and their outrageous, unjustifiable salaries…

“A former university vice-chancellor was given £230,000 for his last month in the job after stepping down amid protests over outsourcing staff. Professor Michael Farthing was handed the golden payout by the University of Sussex ‘in lieu of notice’ after leaving his post in August 2016. … But the former boss only worked for the first month of that period, according to the records (sic) published by the Times (sic) Higher Education (THE).”

(btw, the ‘sic’s are just me feeling sick that some subeditor at the Mail is actually being paid for making these basic errors…)

“A university has been criticised for increasing the salary of its vice-chancellor by 55 per cent over six years, taking it £352,000 to a year (sic). Southampton University, currently led by Sir Christopher Snowden, was singled out by universities minister Jo Johnson as an example of the ‘endless upward ratchet’ of fat cat pay since tuition fees started.”

“Oxford University spent more than £100,000 on a makeover for its vice-chancellor’s luxury grace-and-favour home before she moved in last year. … Professor Louise Richardson moved into the Victorian mansion after an extensive refurbishment and building project. Despite earning £410,000 a year, including pension, she now lives there free and uses its rooms to hold events and host guests of the university. The home, bought by the university for £2 million in 2001, has a large period-style conservatory and an extensive walled and well-tended garden.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4783670/University-spends-100-000-vice-chancellor-s-home.html#ixzz50yQw9lLQ

But not perhaps so extensive or well-tended as Mr Dacre’s seventeen-thousand-acre country estate, Langwell, near Ullapool, in the wilds of Scotland. The difference being, it’s Prof. Richardson’s company house, which she has to open to guests, and give up when she leaves the job – Dacre owns his sprawling, grouse-rich latifundia outright, and any peasants cottaged thereon. We presume a park bench is also provided while he is working in London.

Not bad, for a man whose father sat out the war in New York as the ‘showbiz’ correspondent of Lord Beaverbrook’s formerly fascist-supporting Daily Express, yet who lambasts politicians’ fathers amongst many others for their lack of patriotism.

The seafront at Marseilles, Monday, as Ana whips up a storm across the whole of continental Europe with winds of hurricane force. (Aljazeera)

GW: gaily coloured sails out to sea, tacking to and fro

The weather chaos continues around the world…

USA: 11 Dec, after record snowfall – at 10 inches PER HOUR for a while – a low-pressure system moving rapidly off the North Pacific brings winds of up to 160 mph in the region of Fairbanks, Alaska – equivalent to a Cat 5 hurricane.

Temperatures north of the Canadian border continue at record highs for December, while in the southwestern US the hot, dry Santa Ana winds continue to flail Southern California, fanning the now enormous ‘Thomas’ fire, burning over an area near Los Angeles bigger than New York City. To the east, a chain of storms has brought heavy snowfall up from southern Texas all the way northward into New England.

Europe: High winds from Storm Ana have raised mountainous seas off of Portugal and into the Mediterranean; also through central Europe with winds gusting potentially to 2o0 mph over Austria, up into Poland (MrMBB333). Snow warnings are out in large areas of Spain. Heavy snowfalls were reported in northern Italy, northeastern France, Germany and Scandinavia.

The Mediano reservoir in the Pyrenees, on 19 November. Months without rain have resulted in widespread drought in Spain, with national reservoirs at only 37.3% of capacity, their lowest level in 22 years. (EPA/Javier Basco/BBC Weather). Now, it’s snowing…

UK: looking at the Accuweather map, 19.00 11 Dec, what the fuck is that out in the Atlantic? A massive storm system on the radar, barrelling eastwards toward the British Isles, yet not a word in the forecasts. This low was spotted on the map over the shoulder of a BBC weather forecaster leaving New England the night before last, but nothing was said.

The BogPo wonders conspiratorially, if the BBC weather service is constraining its forecasters to maintain seasonal good cheer and pretend that everything is normal? Except that bringing up the Wikipedia entry for ‘List of European windstorms’ over the centuries shows that we’re really getting off lightly these days: in 1362, a storm killed 25 thousand people in Britain and northern Europe.

Africa: President Kiir of South Sudan has declared a state of emergency and ordered the army to disarm cattle farmers involved in local grazing wars, as fighting spreads after years of drought.

 

They think it’s all over…

Earthquake monitor ‘Dutchsinse’ (Michael Janich) has identified from satellite imagery that among the wildfires affecting the state into this week, the extensive oil pumping operations in the hills north of Ventura, SoCal, may be on fire. Pressure to the wells may have increased as a result of an earthquake swarm currently, and a suspicion that at least two undersea volcanoes may be erupting simultaneously off the coast parallel with the pumping operations onland.

Anyone who thinks fracking is a strategically vital activity to develop independent UK gas supplies for the future and should automatically be permitted needs to watch the early-mid part of this little video clip from Janich, and you will understand what the geological threat is. They have dozens of earthquakes in the fracking zones of Colorado and Oklahoma and they very rarely happened before Harold Hamm and others started drilling the shit out of the bedrock 30 years ago. These thousands of drill-sites are also spewing out massive amounts of climate-altering methane, since Trump helpfully removed an Obama cap on emissions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHP26Nhaii0

 

Who is Andrew Wheeler?

Andrew Wheeler is a top executive at Washington lobbying firm, Faegre Baker Daniels (FBD). The account director working on the case of an American mining company, he has been lobbying the Trump administration to extend uranium mining and processing rights on public lands.

Bears Ears national monument lands, ripe for the taking.

The administration recently announced that it was scaling back protections to two public monuments by hundreds of thousands of acres, one of which is known for a geographical feature called Bears Ears. It’s territory sacred to the Navajo, some of whose famous surviving ‘Code talkers’ were glad-handed at the White House two weeks ago, a reception at which Trump embarrassed himself and the entire country by referring to his Congressional critic, Senator Elizabeth Warren, as ‘Pocohontas’.

But that’s just because he’s a casual racist orange slug, incapable of either empathy or, indeed, rational thought. He’s just learning on the job and will, the New York Times promises us, become more Presidential in time.

In a statement, Trump confusingly argued that by privatizing public lands, he was somehow making them more public. “Public lands”, he trumpeted, “will once again be for public use.” But nobody had said they weren’t!

President Obama’s extension of public rights to more monument lands had meant people were being denied their traditional rights over them, the President claimed, through undefined “abuses of the Antiquities Act”, in perhaps the most Orwellian example of Doublespeak that has yet dribbled like liquid shit from his demented old brain.

His internal affairs secretary, the much-travelled (privately, at taxpayers’ expense) Ryan Zinke backed him up: no, he lied brazenly, there are no mining interests at Bears Ears.

Like hell there aren’t. FBD was hired by a company called Energy Fuels Resources to get this deal stitched up. As they say on their website:

“Energy Fuels is the only conventional uranium producer in America. We take great pride in owning and operating facilities that produce 11.5 million pounds of uranium per year – and we have the capability to scale-up those operations as uranium prices rise in the coming years.”

Mr Zinke does have a point: Energy Fuels is having to scale-back production at present, owing to the low world price of uranium. However there are obvious advantages in holding land concessions for future exploitation; while Mr Trump’s hell-for-leather, pointless willy-bragging expansion policy for nuclear weapons will no doubt benefit the share price of the Energy Fuels monopoly.

His beneficent attitude towards the company no doubt also played into his recent bizarre and spurious attacks on Hillary Clinton over the so-called ‘Uraniumgate’ affair, when she was accused of betraying the US uranium industry to… the Russians. Which the facts suggest she really didn’t.

So who made up the story?

Mr Wheeler’s persuasive lobbying style obviously appealed to Trump, as he has nominated him to the post of Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, working to the profoundly corrupt energy corporations shill and unqualified climate-change denier, Scott Pruitt. His nomination is awaiting Senate confirmation.

Yet another example of Trump ‘draining the swamp’, no doubt. Better have these dreadful people inside the tent after all, is the logic.

As long as they bring their money.

Story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3W78oocRjc, and The Washington Post.

The Pumpkin – Issue (where are we – 18?): The Sabotage Diaries; “What Is Wrong With You?”; Did you hear the one about the ISIS asset?

Editor’s note: apologies for the delay in getting this issue down – I’ve been busy and then I got an abscess and off my face on painkillers. Still not too coherent, I fear, trifle wobbly, but we can’t let the fan down. Bear with.

 

Special “What is wrong with you?” Issue

You let Hillary lose? You’re FIRED!

The Sabotage Diaries

By Skellytanne Conwoman ©2017 #desperationrow

Can no end be put to the relentless sabotage of Mr Trump’s inspirational and well-run American government for all the people?

It seems a piece of non-copyright music was added to the soundtrack of a wonderful video Mr Trump has tweeted-out to his millions of adoring followers around the world, explaining his entirely logical reasons for firing the head of the FBI, the showboating, disloyal little garbage-snooper, James Comey.

We don’t know who decided to use the stirring theme, or why. Astute Twitterates have tracked the music to a library, from where the following description is available:

“… “News Anchor” …  Powerhouse news theme with a classic network vibe. Designed for news broadcasting, newscast, breaking news, special news reports, financial reports, Wall Street, election returns, corporate branding, trade shows and infomercials. Instrumental, News, News Openings”

Notice, there is no mention of the Fake News that so stains the reputation of our treacherous media, enemies of the glorious people. But ‘election returns’? Surely, they taketh the pee-pee? The vile baboons who added this snatch of subversive, disloyal muzak to the video while totally lacking a sense of irony must be found and fired.

The Pumpkin is not a member of Twitter and cannot find the video, in which – ABC News says – Mr Trump has personally recruited a montage of leading Democrats being rude about Mr Comey at the time the FBI chief treacherously swung the Presidential election against Mrs Clinton who, as you recall, was a notorious criminal user of a private Internet server not unlike Mr Trump’s own private internet servers that are not, I repeat NOT, in constant communication with Russi… sorry, start again.

Of course it is outrageous that Mrs Clinton should have won the pop… sorry, sorry. I just can’t seem to avoid not lying about this… despite Mr Comey’s best/worst efforts (delete according to how much sleep the old bastard had last night and whether he’s taken his meds today – xxxSpicey, Lt, USN res. c/o USS Carl Vinson, somewhere). And she really wasn’t elected, honest.

Nevertheless the President has been seething for months about the FBI meddling in his international relations, as that surely ought to be the job of the CIA, and detests Mr Comey for being six inches taller (probably better endowed) and disloyally refusing to tell the White House first, unlike the new Director of the FBI, Mr McCabe, what he plans to say about his investigations about the White House to the Senate committee.

PS I see Flynn has been subpoena’d by those devious shits in Congress. What next, Special Prosecutor? Impeachment? Ha ha, don’t-think-so face!!!

(Remind self – get back on the media, tell them they’re never again to criticise any decisions of our glorious leader, refulgent in his golden aura. Etc – make it up as you go. Keep ’em confused! Hail Trump. K-A C.)

Postscriptum

Mr Reince Priebus (what is that, white South African? I think we should see his birth certificate) the White House Chief-of-Staff, has let it be known that if this sort of thing carries on the President intends to repeal the First Amendment to the Constitution, that he regards as a traitor’s charter for all that boloney about free speech and not making Betsy DeVos’ Bible Trutherism the State religion.

Oh, and also the bit about Americans’ right to protest against and even remove lying, overbearing, biddable, corrupt and incompetent, pouting monsters in the White House if they don’t care to be governed by that sort, he especially doesn’t get that part.

HAS ANYONE SEEN THIS MAN LATELY?

$1bn REWARD, KILL OR CAPTURE . LAST SEEN PENNSYLVANIA AVE. DISTRICT, FRIDAY 5th MARCH.

WARNING: DO NOT APPROACH. MAY OFFER DANGEROUS OPINIONS FOR MONEY.

IF SEEN CONTACT THE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVICE SQUAD ON 0101 911911

In a daze

I’ve been in a daze since 3 a.m. Monday with a worrying abscess on one of the three remaining teeth to which my astonishing piece of bridge engineering, my entire smile is anchored.

It flared up either luckily or as a direct consequence only after my final appearance on stage Sunday night in our production of The Merchant of Venice. Some people have linked the two events, while I confess that having as yet no toothache, yet I had been unusually grumpy on Sunday afternoon, even for me.

The younger members of the cast I find particularly annoying as they’re either messing about, dancing around and chatting loudly, making too much noise backstage despite endless warnings from the director; or they’re coming offstage and straight on to their bloody mobile devices.

How the hell do you perform to your best level if you can’t concentrate on what you’re supposed to be doing for more than a nanosecond at a time? Those phones and tablets and even notebooks are a beastly distraction and yet, despite the entire history and culture of the human race being contained therein, no-one under 50 seems to know anything about anything anymore, being endlessly fascinated merely to gaze into the digital mirror.

Grrrr! (gnashing of elderly gums).

Looking up the range of side-effects of paracetamol, I can safely say I’ve had them all this week, only not yet death. Two 500mg caplets are supposed to give four hours’ relief, I was getting about 20 minutes. It became impossible to observe a four-hour gap between doses. I started to fly, my heart racing, saliva tasting – pee smelling – of paracetamol; chest pains, stomach pains, kidney pains, joint pains – rumblings and gurglings, headaches, tinnitus, shortness of breath and more.

The chemist pointed out that I could safely mix Ibuprofen between doses of paracetamol, so I started doing that. Then, one of those awful coincidences, in the supermarket I passed a newspaper stall and one of the tabloids was carrying a headline story: Ibuprofen doubles your risk of a heart attack.

I’m now on antibiotics and slowly coming down – as is my face, which yesterday swelled up like… a Pumpkin?, my top lip dragging downwards like a stroke victim’s, huge swellings on my gums, my left eye half-closed, my speech slurred like a drunk’s. At least the poison spreading from the root of my eye-tooth in finding an escape route through my sinuses had relieved the pressure on the nerve and, though tender, my top teeth were no longer firing darts of pain throughout my face, spreading through my body and keeping me awake in the throbbing small hours.

Anyway, I’ve been living on mush; soup, mashed potato, crême brulée. Anything that didn’t require teeth to eat. And, of course, no alcohol. 24 hours after my last fistfull of paracetamol I essayed an uncharacteristically small glass of Semillon-Chardonnay last night and slept until nearly 11 this morning. I forget what I was dreaming about, it seemed to go on for ages.

Which is all by way of saying two things:

  • First, I’ve been too mentally bewildered to write coherently about the latest, most amazing goings-on in Trumptown.
  • And secondly, even now I’m not sure I can keep up any longer, since every hour brings startling new revelations and reports of portentous signs in the sky. (I also find I am running out of pejoratives, can anyone help me there?)

Attorney-General Jeff Sessions ‘was present at the meeting’.

For instance, Mr Trump sent his notorious letter firing FBI Director James Comey, that he said was based on info given to him by Deputy Attorney-General ‘Rod’ Rosenstein, whereupon he had no option but to act urgently, but which it later transpired he had ordered Rosenstein to write in order to ‘cover’ his firing of Comey and the fact his supposedly ‘recused’ Attorney-General was present at the meeting which touched on the very matter, the Russia enquiry, he had recused himself from.

No sooner had Trump inserted another brazen lie, that Comey had assured him, like St Peter, ‘three times’ he was not personally under investigation, than MSNBC was reporting that the acting director of the FBI, the former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a 20-year man with a permanently worried expression, may have attempted to sabotage the investigation into General Flynn’s highly lucrative contacts with the Russians or otherwise broken ‘house rules’ by disclosing information about it to the White House.

In other words, he is not:

New FBI Acting Director McCabe Considered a Respected, Bureau Man

…as reported by MSNBC’s mainstream parent company NBC News, but is now – only one day later – said to have pedalled round to the White House on 14 February, two days after Gen. Flynn was resigned, in order to brief the President on the state of the investigations into Flynn (that may go on to compromise the President), and to reassure Chief of Staff Priebus that a report in the New York Times the previous day stating that the FBI was investigating ‘a number of’ Trump campaign staffers was ‘bullshit’.

Only it wasn’t. Numerous sources including British, French and Dutch intelligence, it’s now known, had been warning the National Security Administration of serious, repeated and ongoing contacts between members of the Trump team and Russian intelligence, since 2015. In the frame were Flynn, the reptilian ‘fixer’ Roger Stone, Carter Page (a minor go-between and energy ‘consultant’) and former campaign director, Paul Manafort – fired in July 2016, probably the first of Trump’s ‘bodies on the floor’: bodies connected with or looking too closely into the connections with Russia, Ukraine and the online sabotage of the election.

We know this, because NSA chief James Clapper told the Senate hearing so, two days ago. That’s the hearing at which Sally Yates, the former Acting Attorney General fired by Trump because she twice warned the White House legal advisor about Flynn, was finally able to confirm that Flynn, Trump’s ‘National Security Advisor’ – a man Trump tried for weeks to protect before ‘resigning’ him on a feeble pretext – a man who had previously been fired as unsound by President Obama – was possibly embedded with Russian intelligence.

The Pumpkin and a’ would like to know what Trump knew about Flynn while Flynn was merrily chanting ‘Lock her up! and encouraging the dumbfucks to revolt against the Obama regime, that had fired him. Was Flynn acting on his own, for his own PR company – or as a high-level go-between for Trump Campaign with the Kremlin? Or for Trump himself?

We now know, of course, that Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian ‘diplomats’ in December 2015, a move curiously not resisted by the Kremlin after Trump condemned the move, was not because of the GRU’s hacking of the Clinton and Weiner emails, as the White House explained – but because of the ongoing direct contacts between Trump’s transition team, including Flynn, and Russian intelligence. Did Trump tip Putin the wink, that it was okay, he would put everything back again once in office?

And what did Flynn’s PR efforts have to do with lurid tales of a plot to kidnap and render Dr Fetullah Gulen, Erdogan’s nemesis, to Turkey. Was luring former CIA Director James Woolsey to that meeting just a way of ‘confirming’ a false-flag decoy operation? Was Flynn really working for Noble Energy to get an undersea pipeline built to sell Israeli gas to Turkey?

And why is almost everyone in this story called James? We should be told.

With the cadavers mounting up in the closets of the Oval Office, anyone with information possibly leading to his impeachment for treason, it surely has to be clear even to what Lord Chief Justice Denning famously termed ‘The Man on the Clapham Omnibus’, the definition of any reasonable juror, that Trump is in a state of blind panic and desperately manufacturing any nonsense to try to push the FBI and Senate investigations away from himself.

Careless talk costs lives

He seems too, to be rapidly losing support. He’s reported to have screamed abuse the other day at the reliable Gen. McMaster; while no-one has heard the name Steve Bannon mentioned for at least a week. And Priebus has apparently had to order staff to stop slipping fake reports to the President as he reacts instinctively to tweet out about everything that comes across his desk; a number of people have lost their jobs as a result of internal plotting.

Indeed, the Pumpkin might travel a stop beyond Clapham to ask whether the Trumpkin might not have had the chief reason in pursuing the presidency he’s never really wanted and is scarily bad at, being to obtain the one position in the USA where he might be immune from criminal prosecution?

The Pumpkin gathers too that Trump has hired a firm of rottweiler Washington lawyers to go after the press and anybody else who doesn’t think he is wholly innocent of what he has already admitted, that he has had dealings with Russia, maybe not ‘in’ Russia as he says, that may have seriously compromised his position.

Yet he continues to incriminate himself. In an embarrassing interview with NBC he prevaricated over which of two accounts he should give, saying both that Comey had requested a private dinner-meeting in January to discuss the Russia investigation AND that he, Trump, had requested the dinner. He has since also denied Comey’s memorandum of the meeting, saying he never asked Comey to declare his personal loyalty – a promise Comey as Director of an internal security agency with powers of law enforcement would obviously have had a problem giving, especially to the prime suspect.

Nor, one hopes, did he actually ask Comey about the possibility of locking up journalists guilty of writing unfavourable ‘fake news’ about him. Only Comey apparently thinks he seriously did.

And today Trump has invited to the Oval Office, Russian ambassador Kisliak and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. Right at the height of the fevered speculation of the world’s press as to his possibly compromised relations with Russia – or indeed about his fetish for pee-pee (if you think all this is planned policy for ‘improving relations’ with Russia and a Good Thing, get a brain).

Not to the State Department, as would be the normal protocol, but to the heart of the administration which Director Comey was beginning to prove they paid for. Is the President in their pocket, or just unbelievably stupid and reckless? And why was Lavrov there, what was the point of his visit?

But of course, Lavrov was going to be sent over to check on how much trouble Trump is really in. And Trump has already let slip that the meeting was arranged at the personal request of… Vladimir Putin, and that he ‘could not refuse’ it.

What, no horse’s head?

And the only media allowed in was the Man from Tass, following which Trump protested like a complete booby that he had been ‘tricked’ by Russians-who-lie into thinking this was Lavrov’s ‘personal photographer’. In fact The Pumpkin is not even certain if the Secretary of State, Rex Tillexxon was invited along, let alone the nurse who administers President Trump’s reality medication.

Yes, he actually invited an unknown Russian from a Kremlin-owned news agency with a camera and no security clearance into the Oval Office, along with the local chief spy and his Moscow handler.

And then boasted about his wonderful connections with Israeli intelligence, look, they’ve even got a guy inside ISIS who told us about the thing with the laptops you already knew about….

So dumb.

Donald, we all know you inhaled. It doesn’t matter, sweetie. Just come out with your hands up.

x

Four

For many months now Trump has been swearing and protesting loudly that he has and had no financial or business connections whatever ‘in’ Russia. It’s not a question of belief, everyone knows it’s a Big Lie. It’s more a matter of definition.

How do we know?

Because before his election campaign he was forever boasting about his connections with Russian oligarchs, having organized a beauty pageant in Moscow and attended a party where, he announced breathily, he had ‘met them all’

Yes, all those delightful, very smart, very rich people he owes money and favours to, but whom he sucks up to because they’re richer and more dishonest than he is. He just adores guys who get away with stuff the press wouldn’t let him. He admires people who kill people.

And because he has produced a letter, written a full two months before the accusation even arose, from some accountants in Washington swearing he has no links with or income from Russia – except for a few, and maybe just a bit. Why did he get them to write that? Oh, right. Flynn.

And because he has lavishly praised President Putin and had a strange financial relationship with Putin crony, ‘The Fertiliser King’ Dmitry Rybolovlev – a part-owner in Bank of Cyprus, a known money-laundering outlet with Russian and US shareholders and a direct connection to Deutsche Bank’s Moscow-based Real Estate investment branch, to whom Trump owes over $350 million of a $640 million loan he reportedly defaulted on in 2008.

And because he has borrowed money – hundreds of millions – from Russian (and Chinese) banks, both private and State – American banks will no longer lend to him, such a credit junkie is the President that he long ago maxed-out his Platinum cards in the USA – to whom (and others, including RBS) his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also owes $1bn.

(If Trump is indeed a billionaire, why is his poor son-in-law, whom he has also brought inside the protective shield of the White House, having to finance his own property developments with massive unrepayable loans from foreign banks?)

This latter was confirmed by Eric Trump, the ‘Little Nazi’ who wonders why women don’t just put up with being groped, three years ago while unwisely playing golf with Arnold Palmer’s biographer, golfing writer James Dodson. According to a report in The Telegraph (07 May):

“Mr Dodson told Boston radio station WBUR: “This is the journalist in me, I said ‘What are you using to pay for these courses?’ And he (Donald Trump) just sort of tossed off that he had access to $100 million.

“So when I got in the cart with Eric, as we were setting off I said, ‘Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks, because of the recession, the Great Recession, have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.'”

“Mr Dodson claimed Eric Trump then told him: “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programmes. We just go there all the time.”

“We just go there all the time”…. To play pitch’n’putt on the Kremlin lawn? Maybe Eric was just being puppyishly naive in blurting out some nonsense he might have thought would impress Dodson? Maybe Trump was too?

Wikipedia reports:

“Golf in Russia is not yet widespread, not only because of adverse natural conditions, but also because the construction of golf courses requires large capital investments (a few tens of millions of dollars, usually more than a hundred). The first 18-hole golf course was built in the suburban area of Nakhabino in 1994, and remained the only one in the country for many years.”

Only a handful of Russians who ‘really, really love golf’ are professionals, maybe four or five. The Russian Open has been won pretty much every year by outsiders – few of them household names – since Konstantin Lifinov lifted the first trophy in 1993. There are only nine golf courses in the whole of Russia, with another ten ‘under construction’.

The question might then be, if Trump has to borrow to build, who funded the controversial Trump International course at Menie Park near Aberdeen, to the tune of $120 million? It’s obviously losing money, its Google entry is offering ‘no reservation fees’ and ‘half-price hotel’ deals.

Clearly Russia is an area the Trumps would like to get into, if they had the money.

Or might I put on a fiction writer’s hat and outline the latest James Bond plot, a conspiracy to launder $billions of Russian oil wealth through covering the free world in tasteless, unused golf resorts patrolled by thuggish staff, funded by sinister oligarchs, and bring down Western democracy in the process?

x

The wisdom of the innocents

Trump’s latest poll figures somewhat belie his claim that his first 100 days have been a rip-roaring success. CNN reports his overall approval rating at 35%, and when asked to give one adjective to describe the President of the United States, 38% replied: ‘idiot’.

“Businessman” was the word least associated with President Trump by those polled.

 

“Since taking office, Mr Trump has mounted a frenzied, hate-filled, childishly resentful onslaught on the Obamas’ legacy by every possible means, heedless of the immense damage he is doing to ordinary Americans in the process.”

38% of Americans believe this poor fellow is an idiot. Please give generously.

“What is wrong with you?”

The Pumpkin believes that Michelle Obama has struck, with customary charm and wit, upon the exact slogan The Resistance needs to confront this tyrannical and abusive old moron.

What indeed is wrong with you?

Since taking office, Mr Trump has blundered around, unable to concentrate for more than a few moments on any issue other than the precipitous nature of his election, making rambling, confused and self-contradictory, self-justifying statements blaming everyone and everything for things he just can’t do right, appointing certified cretins, racialists and sinister lobbyists to positions of power ranked according to wealth and insanity; screaming abuse at subordinates and trolling people and institutions at random with vacuous, illiterate Tweets.

What is wrong with you?

Well, we wonder.

His handling of the James Comey firing has been completely cackhanded, even for the CEO of a one-man business. After first driving his newly appointed Deputy Attorney-General, the formerly well-regarded Rod Rosenstein, to the point of resigning over a lie that he, Trump, had had to move against Comey urgently on the basis of a letter which, it transpired, he had forced Rosenstein to write (there’s always a letter), Mr Trump tried to shift the blame onto his hapless little Press Secretary, Sean Spicer.

Spicey has been effectively suspended for his abject performance (on ‘Naval reserve duties’ he is, as usual, all at sea) in attempting to defend his demented Master without being briefed about the circumstances and the reasons behind the precipitate decision. Mr Spicer was discovered by the press pack, hiding in the dark among the bushes on the White House grounds, imparting a Keystone Cops dimension to the story you could not make up.

This poor creature, once human, has been trapped for 110 days in the White House: Please Give Generously.

With further contradictory statements by the Vice-President, the snow-capped advert for Anusol, Mike Pence; Sarah ‘We hate Huckabees’ Sanders (Spicey’s unpopular-fat-girl-dorm-monitor deputy) and the increasingly loopy and defeated-looking Kellyanne Conway, the story was being spun everywhichway, including by the Orange Glow himself, even during the course of a single interview with NBC in which he as much as admitted what he didn’t want anyone to know, that it was to stymie the FBI investigation into his Russian connections.

What is wrong with you?

In the middle of the night he sits alone in the Oval Office, firing off dangerously abusive tweets about things that have upset him, that he has seen reported on Fox News, the unreliable TV channel he apparently watches obsessively all day, and which, aides say, is – along with the Breitbart News website – his principal window on the world as he refuses to receive briefings from actual experts: a clear sign of paranoia.

And – The Pumpkin is not a qualified psychologist but a nearly 70-year-old observer of human goings-on – to that amateur diagnosis must be added Mr Trump’s two main drivers of policy – if you don’t count the attraction of his weekly three-day golfing holidays at Mar-a-Lago, that have as of last weekend racked up a total of $27 million in travel and security costs to the taxpayer in only four months and cost the local community many more $millions in lost trade; which he has been told about, but does not care.

What is wrong with you?

One driver of policy is the unbearable knowledge that he really lost the election.

It preys continually on what remains of his mind, that he actually got 2.8 million votes fewer than his opponent, Hillary Clinton, despite the vitriolic campaign of hate which he and his team of fascist brownshirts, frustrated housewives and Russian agents spewed at her, unprecedented in modern politics.

He won the election, only because the numbers were affected in the Electoral College process by Republican gerrymandering in a few key ‘swing’ states, disenfranchising tens of thousands of potentially Democratic voters.

The campaign of dirty tricks included putting out fake-news messages on social media giving Democratic voters incorrect information about registration and polling dates; reducing the number of voting machines in poorer wards (sometimes through fake burglaries) in order to create unacceptable lines, and sending out to large numbers of mainly black and Latino voters who had previously been removed from the electoral roll without their knowledge ‘on suspicion’ of duplicate registration, non-valid polling cards. Such tactics affected tens of thousands of voters.

Nevertheless in his confusion, the 70-year-old Trump was told, presumably by Bannon, to keep tweeting that between three and five million unregistered immigrants had voted for Clinton – a completely preposterous meme that over 60% of his supporters came to believe; prompting ‘Morning Joe’ Scarborough on NBC to comment was the first case he had encountered, of a ‘sore winner’.

Add to Mr Trump’s equally neurotic obsession with trying to rationalize the relatively small number of people who turned out at his inauguration parade – for which he had raised $107 million in special donations (nobody knows where the money has gone, three times what it cost to bring out three times as many Obama supporters in 2008) – and the weekly ‘campaign rallies’ he keeps re-running all over the midwest, and you have a potent cocktail of grievance on which to endlessly brood.

His actual unpopularity haunts him night and day; indeed, he has been especially vengeful in shutting down the activities of the Parks Department, that reported the true official figures for his poor turnout and published the incriminating photographs showing an almost deserted plaza.

It is as if his great triumph in becoming President, the ultimate ratification of a life spent selfishly cheating people, never lasted beyond the moment of declaration and only the euphoria of that moment, the feeling of being swept along on an adoring tide, makes up for the sheer agony of having actually to do a job for which he is totally unprepared and unqualified. So many of his actions shout ‘Help, get me out of here’, even as he swaggers and bullies and lies his way daily deeper into trouble.

What is wrong with you?

There is no other route to political power in America, than through The Money.

His other great motivation is his equally strong hatred of the Obamas and their enduring popularity. How dare the uppity n-words get above him in social prestige? Especially when he and his dad invested so much in racially excluding tenants from their rack-rent housing projects.

President Obama was not quite the great black hope everyone imagined. Sadly, he is just another Wall Street white guy in disguise; a constitutional lawyer beholden to The Money. But what else could or should we have expected? There is no other route to political power in America, than through The Money.

Nevertheless, he is not a bad man. He did not try to grind the faces of the poor as the Republicans delight in doing, when they can be bothered to think about them at all between elections*. He genuinely did his best to bring about social reform, to extend free healthcare and to protect the environment. Despite his sorry record of extrajudicial killings, he is not thought to be an ecocidal money-launderer and serial bankrupt with connections to global criminal enterprises.

And Michelle has done sterling work all over the world in advancing the cause of public education and the advancement of women, a genuinely inspirational and gracious figure some say they wish would run for the Presidency.

Which is how she came to be at a conference in Washington yesterday on children’s nutrition.

Since taking office, Mr Trump has mounted a continued, frenzied, hate-filled, childishly resentful onslaught on the Obamas’ legacy by every possible means, heedless of the immense damage he is doing to ordinary Americans in the process.

He has attacked and attempted to rollback every single piece of legislation, every appointment the 44th President succeeded against the political odds in making during his eight years in office – including a tiny, inexpensive and inoffensive order requiring schools in the public system to meet proper standards of nutrition when providing pupils with meals.

When you consider that one State (Republican, naturally – what is wrong with them?) recently ruled that Pizza counts as a vegetable towards the ‘5-a-day’ target on account of it’s got tomato paste on it, duh, along with the processed cheese, you can see why it might be important to insist on a healthy balance of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

“We have a lot more work to do, for sure, but we’ve got to make sure we don’t let anybody take us back because the question is, where are we going back to?” Obama told a Partnership for a Healthier America summit in Washington.

“This is where you really have to look at motives, you know. You have to stop and think: why don’t you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you?” – Guardian Today report

It’s not an argument Sonny Purdue, the Agriculture secretary, would go along with, as, presumably in response to a Trump order, he has simply scrapped the requirement, the Pumpkin imagines in the face of lobbying pressure and much to the relief of the US’s vastly powerful junk food lobby, the ‘stuff everything with soya and sugar’ industry that is killing people around the world in large numbers for profit – another key plank of Republican policy.

What is wrong with Mr Purdue is easy to answer: he’s an asshole.

Mrs Obama’s comments, her appeals to Moms to fight this kind of Trumpenshit, apparently met with rousing applause; and not only from Jamie Oliver.

“What is wrong with you?” should be the question loudly demanded of every bribed Republican energy, arms, medical insurance industry and food-lobby shill in Congress, every member of Trump’s incompetent wrecking crew of billionaire Deplorables, every dumbfuck who voted to cancel their own healthcare, every supine journalist who goes along respectfully with the Office of President that is being daily disgraced and diminished by this lying, self-deluded old monster – and of the monster himself.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, TRUMP?

*As, for instance, the disgusting old Senate leader, Orrin Hatch, who has likened single-payer healthcare to being ‘on the dole’.

x

Did you hear the one about the ISIS asset?

Every new dawn brings news of yet another Trump gaffe, yet another hastily cobbled-together attempt by his frazzled staff to put him back in his box. And still no-one has the guts to have him removed from office, by force if necessary.

That meeting with the Russians? The Washington Post and others have been reporting, like a large orange baboon-child he blurted out to Lavrov a secret so secret it has a higher security rating than Top Secret.

It can, literally, only be spoken of in code.

Hey, guess what, I’m the President! Gee whillikers, who’d a’ thought it? Did you hear the one about the ISIS asset? Yeah, we’ve got one! His name’s dtgjk,skjiudcgtudjk, right?

Now, the subject matter of the coded secret isn’t actually a secret at all, it’s been in the papers for days. We all knew selected national security administrations around the world were making airports ban travellers from carrying laptops onboard as hand-luggage because of a tipoff that IS were planning to bomb one or more aircraft.

It must have been a pretty specific threat. But the real secret is who leaked it? The highest classification was designed to protect the source inside the IS, who given the difficulty of penetrating IS may be one of the most valuable assets on the planet. Trump apparently gave Lavrov enough background to enable the Russians to identify the source.

Now, the Russians, the US, Iran/Hezbollah, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, the Kurdish PKK militias, Bashar al-Assad and many others in the grand coalition are opposing IS. So we’re all on the same side, right? Well, no. The US is opposing Iran/Hezbollah on behalf of the Israelis, and the Russians are allies of Iran – Turkey wasn’t an ally of Russia but now is, only it’s an enemy of the Kurds… God, it’s a complete mess and I’m not even confident of finishing this paragraph.

Somewhere in the mess is Saudi Arabia, the oligarchic C15th dynasty that barbarously decapitates more people for less reason than ISIS ever did, where Trump is off to on a grand mission, his first trip abroad, to kiss the ring of the senile King and sell yet more $billions of arms to slaughter and starve more children and doctors in Yemen. (But not before he’s chocolate-caked President Erdogan in a summit of the world’s two leading authoritarian paranoiacs.)

And now the entire Gulf States region knows that Trump cannot be trusted with the secret of what day it is.

And Trumpski’s response to the shitstorm that even leading Republicans are gulping about?

“I’m the President. I have an absolute right to tell the Russians whatever I like.” (Actually, he doesn’t.)

The question must then surely be, if the info is fine to be given to the Russian Foreign Minister, what compulsion was there to send Lavrov in person all the way to Washington to receive it, when it could just have been exchanged via the normal channels?

He knows, he understands, he can be trusted with, nothing. Nothing whatsoever. He has become a grave concern to US allies and a laughing-stock at NATO, where it’s said they are preparing for his forthcoming visit with instructions to keep all speeches to under four minutes, in simple language and make them visually entertaining.

But the FBI has a way of eventually dealing with people like Trump, dangerous subversives, incompetent loose-tongued lunatics with dodgy connections, and you get a National Day named in your honor after the gun-carriage has passed by.

Old Bore’s Almanacke: A Source of FACTS You Can Trust! (Unlike those propagated by Mr Pruitt.) And, O God, Make it Stop! #2… the Flynn-flam.

Food for thought

Atreus then learned of Thyestes’ and Aerope’s adultery and plotted revenge. He killed Thyestes’ sons and cooked them, save their hands and feet.

There is an excellent potted biography of the late bon viveur, socialite, gambler, author, panel-show personality, dogfood commercial star, famed miserabilist, TV chef and Liberal MP, Sir Clement Freud, available among the obituaries on The Telegraph website:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/tv-radio-obituaries/5163084/Sir-Clement-Freud.html

No mention is made in the text of any known proclivity for young girls; he seemed to lead such a full life it is hard to see where he could have found the time for molestation; although it is mentioned that, with his friend Jonathan Aitken, the MP who was gaoled for perjury in 1999 following a failed libel action he brought against Granada TV over a documentary about secret arms dealings with Saudi Arabia, Freud:

“…also used his political appeal to advance a lifelong commitment to children’s welfare. A former secretary of the Refugee Children’s Fund, he set up, with Jonathan Aitken, a Parliamentary Den of the Good Bears of the World, providing teddies to children in hospital, and was later president of the Down’s Children Association.”

In the light of the Savile affair, any involvement of an adult male in the public eye, even on a philanthropic basis, with children, especially mentioning hospitals, is now a deeply suspicious matter. Dorset police, for instance, have spent years and over a millon pounds in a thus-far fruitless attempt to link the former Prime Minister, the late Sir Edward Heath, with lurid details of Establishment orgies and even murders involving children, tales spun by a known fantasist.

But it seems a far cry from teddy bears to the accusations following his death that Freud was a predatory monster throughout his adult life.

With a profuse apology his family, sadly, seemed to confirm the story; which is surrounded by circumstantial evidence, as well as accusations from a number of women who eventually came forward, of activity dating back to the 1940s. Evidence such as that Freud ‘shared an office’ with the  grossly obese figure of Sir Cyril Smith MP, another politician who notoriously ‘got away with it’ for years (only with small boys) owing, one assumes, to the sickening deference with which the British treat anyone with a handle to their name.

The Telegraph subsequently carried a story headed:

Sir Clement Freud exposed as a paedophile as police urged to probe Madeleine McCann links

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/14/sir-clement-freud-exposed-as-a-paedophile-as-police-urged-to-pro/

I have deliberately used the usually sober Telegraph as a source for this story, as the incandescent rage and vitriol spewed out by the tabloid press over the affair makes the accusation that much less believable. Putting two and two together to make eleven, the tabloids linked the paedophilia claims directly to the long-running McCann abduction story via the curious coincidence of Freud having owned a villa in Praia da Luz, the upmarket Portuguese holiday resort where Madeleine disappeared in 2007, seemingly without trace.

Now, to kidnap a four-year-old for immediate sexual gratification does not fit Freud’s known MO. While grooming girls as young as 10, Freud’s extramarital activity, generally characterised as frenzied and brutal rapes, seems to have taken place only once his victims were past the age of consent.

Other questions remained: was Freud at the villa the night Madeleine disappeared? Apparently not, but he was there soon afterwards when he invited the parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, to lunch by the pool – out of sympathy, and served them ‘egg and watercress sandwiches’ at his ‘million pound’ villa, with its own ‘snooker table’ – you can see how the level of reporting in the tabloids, such as these telling details in The Sun, establishing Freud’s guilt beyond question, is not terribly helpful.

Now, I’m going to mention something not very nice, so if you have a properly politically correct view of the world, look away now.

There is in the history of the West, a particularly nasty myth about the Jews known as the ‘blood libel’ – a myth concocted to excuse persecution that went beyond the simple but daft notion that Jews ‘crucified Christ’, which they didn’t; although, in the unverifiable New Testament stories, they did nothing much to save him from the Romans (there is no historical evidence of any of this). Medieval Christians would have been horrified to have pointed out to them, the obvious truth that Jesus was himself a lifelong Jew.

The ‘blood libel’ however went much further. It held that Jews were wont to go around stealing Christian children, sacrificing them – and cannibalising them in Satanic rituals.

Born in Vienna into a secular Jewish family, a grandson of the father of psychology, Sigmund Freud, the analyst whom every tabloid reader knows as ‘that sex-maniac’, Clement Freud was not a practising Jew. Yet there is a disturbing echo of the ‘blood libel’ in the imputation, not very far from the surface in the tabloid press, who are borderline insane at the best of times, that ‘TV Chef’ Freud probably had Madeleine kidnapped for a special purpose, which we should perhaps not delve into here.

My interest in the story was piqued this morning by a news item that said the Home Office has licensed another £85 thousand to pay for the British police to continue their so-far fruitless investigations in Portugal. Hotels, air fares – it won’t go very far. No stone has been left unturned, uncovering a series of leads over the past seven years that have simply run into the sand. The press would be thrilled if now, after all this time, someone were to be fingered for the crime.

Yet my mouth fell open on the desktop when I discovered thereby that there is a lengthy thread of stories on the web suggesting that two people connected with the US Presidential election were staying at Freud’s villa on the night Madeleine vanished – the Podesta brothers, John and Tony.

I make no claims whatsoever for the veracity of a grimy looking website called Thetruthseeker. I merely draw your attention to a morass of stuff that’s out there, that is typified when they write:

“This may blow your mind.  (It well may have already. Ed.) Of all the conspiracies the “conspiracy theorists” have come up with in the past several years, they never even came up with anything CLOSE to the reality of what is really going on- worldwide.

“From Wikileaks, we have learned that it is very likely John Podesta (Hillary’s long time friend and currently her campaign manager) and brother, Tony Podesta, are actively very involved in a child sex ring that is literally world wide.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, and a distinguished visiting professor of law at Georgetown University, with a long record of service to the Clintons, John Podesta:

“…served as both an Assistant to the President and as Deputy Chief of Staff. Earlier, from January 1993 to 1995, he was Assistant to the President, Staff Secretary and a senior policy adviser on government information, privacy, telecommunications security (note that… Ed.) and regulatory policy. In 1998 he became President Clinton’s Chief of Staff in the second Clinton Administration and executed the position until the end of Clinton’s time in office in January 2001. – Wikipedia

Note also the mention of the dreaded Wikileaks – the web portal that is doing absolutely everything it can to have its founder, Julian Assange, ‘sprung’ from his self-imposed imprisonment in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and flown to the sanctuary of the Trump Tower; Mr Assange, and the go-between liftboy Farage, who is even now proving a ‘useful idiot’ in the perpetuation of the coup underway in the USA by Christian fundamentalists and the alt-right.

John Podesta hit the news last year during the campaign, when it emerged that it was thousands of his emails that were being investigated by the FBI, not Hillary Clinton’s – although the distinction was lost on Trump’s army of Dumbfucks. Evidence emerged that it was Podesta’s emails that might have been hacked by the Russians; possibly with the complicity of or through the agency of Wikileaks.

The alt-right websites that are now trying to place the Podesta brothers in Praia da Luz (you wouldn’t think it would be that hard to get the Portuguese immigration authorities to confirm their movements), along with connections to prominent Jews*, were also buzzing with the story, whose origin seems to have been linked to General Mike Flynn (see below) and his son Michael Jr, that Podesta and Clinton were running a paedophile ring based underneath a Pizza restaurant in Washington, Comet Ping Pong.

You have to gasp for air at this point, so here’s an extract from the Telegraph report: Trump fires Adviser’s son from transition for spreading fake news. It started with a Tweet…

“On Tuesday morning, after the post had attracted national attention and it was reported that Mr. Flynn had a transition team email address, Vice President-elect Mike Pence denied that Mr. Flynn had ever worked for the team, saying on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he had “no involvement in the transition whatsoever.”

The story was so believable, indeed, that a man walked into the restaurant armed with a rifle and fired a shot into the ceiling, explaining on arrest that he was just checking it out. Apparently, the restaurant does not have a basement; and even Mr Trump, the godfather of disruptive fake news, was forced to act to prevent further lawlessness. Both Flynn Sr and Jr are now history. The pattern of denial and retraction however is becoming familiar.

As is the continuing campaign of smears, lies, false news, false claims and false trails, the faint aroma of antisemitism, of 1930s-style fascism, emanating from the President’s office.

Was the FBI looking for evidence of Hillary’s seemingly innocuous use of a private email server, on which she may have carelessly distributed classified material as Secretary of State? Were they looking for the Kremlin’s grubby fingerprints proving extensive interference in the US election? Or were they perhaps looking for evidence of paedophilia – extending to the kidnap and murder of a small child, ten years ago in Portugal?

We should be told.

But we probably won’t be.

* For instance, there’s speculation that Tony Podesta owns a painting by Freud’s estranged brother Lucien, that contains coded images of child-abuse, as evidence of a connection with Clement. Dan Brown is alive and well…

 

Meanwhile, back in the Swamp…

“Democratic super lobbyist Tony Podesta failed to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) when he agreed to represent Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank.

“Sberbank allegedly has close ties to Russia’s intelligence services, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.” – The Daily Caller

dailycaller.com/2017/03/07/exclusive-podesta-didnt-register-as-a-foreign-agent-when-he-represented-a-bank-with-ties-to-russian-spy-agencies/#ixzz4bDuumOI3

Is there any end to this shit?

Any rightwing US website is going to make the link with the FSB, principally because every bank in Russia worth its salt must have ties to spies. In reality, no oligarchs are implicated in the very dull Sberbank, founded in 1840, which is mostly owned by Russia’s central bank and will be familiar to older Russians as the Soviet Union’s widespread State outlet for distributing wages, pensions and lottery tickets.

Podesta’s firm was allegedly paid $170,000 for undisclosed services to the FSB’s own ‘private bank’, a fact which he did declare, but only as a non-foreign agent claiming to have been acting for Sberbank’s New York office. But what was he doing working for Sberbank at all, when his brother was Clinton’s campaign manager and ought to have remained squeaky clean?

Or has this story been cooked-over to counter stories of Trump campaign involvement with the Russians? Who on earth knows anymore?

All these vastly wealthy money-laundering, sanctions-busting criminals appear either to be insensately greedy and totally immune to any legal sanction, or they are just a bunch of rich fucking idiots who can’t cover their tracks or do anything right.

Bearing in mind The Daily Caller is a rightwing website founded by neocon lobbyist Tucker Carlson, and thus no lover of the Clintons, nor an effective judge of East European banking institutions, nevertheless the concern has to be that the end-product of globalisation is international criminality without end. It has gone beyond nationalism, beyond politics.

It is being committed by a loose conspiracy of purely self-interested super-rich, from Putin and Trump on down, playing their own games, their gears greased by greedy lobbying and finance consultants, moving their vast wealth around profitably through hidden pathways with impunity, while millions go hungry and the planet is raped of its remaining resources by the likes of the Kochs and the Exxons.

And this conspiracy, the Thing has seemingly captured the castle, and is busy dismantling American global hegemony and prestige with every passing day.

You’re fucked, America.

 

Mr Big-head

For your amusement, here is a re-Post of one part of a multipart Post I Posted back in May, 2015, just after the General Election and over a year before the EU referendum. It was entitled ‘Polly-Wolly Doodle and the Pundits’, the Polly in the title being Ms Toynbee of The Guardian, who was clearly the worse for wear after staying up all night to comment on the results. This bit wasn’t about her:

 

Pollsters and pundits were telling us for months that we were in for another hung Parliament – no party with an overall majority – only this time it would be more complicated to form a governing coalition because of increasing support for minority parties: the Scottish Nationalists, UKIP and the Greens. In the event they were all wrong – as I predicted! – David Cameron’s party secured a slim majority.

Now the prevailing media wisdom is that without coalition partners, Cameron is nakedly exposed to his own Eurosceptic backbenchers and might be bounced into bringing forward a national referendum on whether or not to remain a member of the European Union.

Should that happen, it looks like the country would narrowly vote to stay in. But even that could prove to be wildly optimistic, given the Farage factor. And the prognosis then is that the dominant Nationalists in Scotland would bring forward their own referendum and the Scottish voters, who are thought overwhelmingly to want to remain in the EU, would vote to leave the Union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Patriotic English voters would then row Britannia out into the Atlantic and sink her beneath the waves they think we still rule.

It’s an interesting thesis, but it takes no account of where the EU itself might be in two years’ time, following ‘Grexit’ – Athens’ massive debt default looming a few days from now, the inevitable exit from the Euro under German pressure and expulsion from the EU that would probably follow.

Why would Scotland want to leave the United Kingdom to join a fragmenting, bickering, economically unstable Europe, in which all the old, failed centrist governments have gone and only weird and frightening Eurosceptic extremist parties are in power? (Because it’s better than being stuck with the English? Don’t answer that!)

The elephant in the room, hopefully to see that wearisome cliche for the last time, is France. What if Marine le Pen and her eminently reasonable but Eurosceptic, anti-immigrant, anti-German, Islamophobic Front Nationale party were to be occupying the Elysée Palace by then? On recent showings, it’s not out of the question.

So, I was right about Cameron and the referendum!

In the event, I was wrong about the EU fragmenting, at least in the short term. The forthcoming Brexit talks seem to have taken the minds of the 27 off the idea of splitting up while there’s money to be made; Greece is still just inside the Eurozone, clinging on by its fingernails. But they are sliding down the blackboard as I write, with a possible new default looming and the culpable German bankers still in no mood to make life easier for Greek pensioners, the sick and the 50% of Under-25s out of work.

I seem to have been more prescient, however, about Marine le Pen, who is, I think, ahead or nearly in the polls, although one poll today puts the teenage Blairite Emmanuel Macron in front – he’s not yet been nobbled by the Russians – with her main opponents, Francois Fillon’s conservatives, in disarray over corruption allegations against the former PM (Mme le Pen’s own expenses scandal appearing to have quietly subsided).

And in the wake of Brexit (which I also predicted in an earlier Post, as long ago as May 2013), despite (more probably because of) Theresa May’s uncomprehending and patronising cross-border interventions on the subject of a national unity she is otherwise doing her damnedest to destroy, with her creaky protestations of ‘one-nation’ Tory policies to help the ‘Just About Managing’ class (bleuch! It’s like nursery school!); policies that always seem to round-out as gouging the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed – the self-employed (many of whom had no other choice) – and the sick to pay for Mrs May’s investment manager husband Phil’s and all the other investment managers’ wealthy corporate clients to get even richer,  Nicola Sturgeon has been militant in pushing the idea of another Scottish referendum, probably next year (Autumn 2018), that she seems doomed to lose.

You read it here first: no breakup, no MacRe-Entry. But you never know.

“Looking forward to a good day at BlackRock, only the faintest of patrician sneers troubling his Old St Paulian face, the Chancellor, Mr Osborne, slides slowly sideways while pretending to listen intently to a lighthearted intervention by his friend, Mr Cameron…” – Hansard*

*not.

Meanwhile, after a fiercely contested third round of candidate interviews, no doubt, the shortlisted former Chancellor, Gideon ‘George’ Osborne has gratefully accepted an offer of £650 thousand a year to spend one day a week lunching agreeably in an ‘advisory’ role to the world’s largest investment fund management company, BlackRock. (The actual hours aren’t specified. My bet: 10 – 4?)

So he never needs to work again?

Actually, he’s cheap at the price.

At £78k a week, as it would extrapolate on a six-days’ basis, with a raised self-employed NI contribution of 10%, ‘George’ is still a long way behind Manchester United’s prolific striker, the Bosnian-Croatian-Swede, Zoltan Ibrahimovic (£200k a week. We share a birthday, I see). Or even more, the £300k a week which the ageing midfield supremo, Wayne Rooney has been used to receiving, re-bound now for Everton.

Or indeed, Adele, whom George more closely resembles (£25k a day, every day. Oh, the monotony!). Or ginger-nerd, Ed Sheeran ($57 million in 2015 – Forbes)…. Or many CEOs of Footsie-100 companies, rewarded in the £millions. Advertising financial guru, Sir Martin Sorrell’s latest controversial pay award reportedly takes his salary to approximately one million pounds – a week.

Why, that’s more than half the £90 million a year the bloke who makes Cillit Bang’s gardener helps him take home in his gold-plated wheelbarrow!

Back on Earth, there’s Ross McEwan, the immigrant Kiwi backpacker in charge of turning-round Britain’s second-worst bank, RBS. With a salary of £3.8 million a year, Mr McEwan has trousered a £1.2 million ‘bonus’ for presiding over another embarrassing annual loss, this time of £7 billion. In fact the bank has not been in profit since we, the British taxpayer, bailed it (and its then-parent Lloyds) out with a helpful £464.57 billion in cash and guarantees; since when (mostly while Mr Osborne was in charge of the economy) it has lost another head-spinning £58 billion (Guardian Datablog).

(“McEwan … completed a degree in business studies and human resources, despite having failed an accountancy module twice.” – Wikipedia entry. No, any number of wild horses would not induce me to comment.)

My own modest emolument has recently been re-presented to me by the Department of Pork and Beans in the light of the annual inflation figure and the triple-lock formula, whatevs, as £198.20 a week. Taken with some few small sources of further income, including a regular twice-yearly part-time seasonal job for five weeks on a zero-hours contract, it seems to be a not wholly inadequate basis on which to live, given that I still own 2/3rds of my little house.

It’s about what Ed Sheeran makes every 90 seconds, anyway. No wonder he looks as though someone has just clobbered him over the back of the head with a cricket bat.

Frankly I can’t see why anyone would need more – although I’m informed by radio this morning that the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, regards £40 thousand a year as ‘low-to-middle income’. I could go a very long way on it.

But I’m delighted to learn while doing the extensive research for this fact-based article, that Mr McDonnell, he of the timeworn, faded-newsprint appearance and reedy old voice, is two years younger than me! And I’m probably still a better copywriter than Martin Sorrell ever was or will be. I’m just no bloody good with money.)

Way to go, George. You’re not even taking the piss, mate, are you?

 

A man with a wallet for a brain

Scott Pruitt, the Butcher of Oklahoma penitentiary, has struck again.

Carbon dioxide, he has told a press conference, is probably not responsible for global warming. Most scientists, he says, still disagree on the matter. More analysis, he says (he does not have a science background, he has a bad law degree from an obscure college, and we know that the homophones Lawyer and Liar are so easily muddled-up)  is needed.

Yes, more analysis of Mr Pruitt’s motive for spouting this pernicious drivel is needed from the criminal justice system, as it needs urgently to be determined from whom and for why, if indeed he has, he has an incentive thus to lie to the American people; who surely have a right to know the truth about how and why they and we are threatening the future of life on the planet and what they and we might do about it.

What is more depressing than the fact that he has said all this, is that he hasn’t realised the game is up. It’s over, and the deniers have lost. There is 100% agreement among atmospheric physicists, meteorologists and climatologists, that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps solar energy in the atmosphere, cumulatively for decades. And that we’re pumping out too much.

It has been known about for over a century.

Even the fucking oil industry has been saying for years, we’re burning fossil fuels at our peril.

And the relentless ‘hockey-stick’ upward curve in CO2 concentration from 280 parts per million in c. 1770 to what some scientists think may be 450 ppm today has raised global temperature on average by 1.7 deg C since the end of the C19th, with an ever-faster increase from feedbacks such as methane release – now at danger level in the Arctic – forecast to generate more powerful storms, droughts, floods and wildfires – just as we are already seeing.

There is no mystery, except to those who don’t want to believe it: scientific illiterates, conspiracy theorists, internet trolls and just, frankly, wankers like the cretin Pruitt; those cynical committers of an ecocidal crime against humanity whose mouths are stuffed with cash by lobbyists working for powerful C20th corporations that make fortunes for their shareholders out of burning fossil fuels and cannot change.

Mr Pruitt is therefore in my view a dangerous pragmatist, as well as likely a paid liar, who has now found a branch to swing from in the topmost echelons of government.

A poor combination adverting to the absolute moral bankruptcy of this gutter Presidency.

It is well and widely known – I had intended not to write about US politics in this section of muh bogl, but I have been driven to it, sorry – that Mr Pruitt was only appointed to the role of Director of the Environmental Protection Agency because he was the most stupid, scientifically illiterate and potentially corruptible candidate available for the job. He has previously sued the Agency, the department he now heads (without benefit of deputies or departmental directors, they have yet to be and may never be appointed) fourteen times for annoying his friends in the energy bidness by criticizing the practice of fracking for natural gas.

(Postscriptum: He is on record as being committed to destroying the Agency, his own department. Not only that, but his connections with energy lobbyists are revealed in a series of nine thousand emails generated while in his office as Attorney General of Arkansas, between himself and a number of large energy companies, including Koch and Devon Energy. Emails which finally emerged only after numerous freedom of Information requests, three days after his rushed approval by Congress.)

A bill has already been launched by Republicans in Congress to dissolve the EPA; along with other agencies offering consumer, wilderness and endangered wildlife protections. This White House being a criminal conspiracy of cut-throat capitalists and apocalyptic revivalists led by a senescent, inept, tantrum-throwing moral imbecile, anything may happen and probably will.

It’s a pattern Mr Trump has repeated across a wide range of government agencies his funders don’t see the point of. They get in the way of doing lucrative bidness, so he is setting them up to fail.

Most alarming of all, Mr Tillerson, the powerful ex-Exxon boss and Russophile pal of Putin’s whom Trump put in at the State Department, still has no deputy, no departmental directors and few remaining staff. The most important office of state, America’s face to the world, has been gutted, its senior diplomats and staffers sacked.

Its leadership has been filled by a handsome old expensive suit who has no office; no face; no mission, other than to enrich the President and his cronies with filthy oil deals across the most economically devastated parts of the world. Countries where millions are facing environmental disaster, plagues and starvation while the wealth-laden nations of the West pull up the drawbridge against them.

(Yes, Mr Trump has proposed to slash the aid budget, cut funding to the UN and impose a potentially indefinite moratorium on refugees.)

And this, we learned from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow today, is likely being done on the orders of President Vladimir Putin. (No time to explain. In short: he owns the President. He directs the policy. That will have to do.)

Traitors and compromised bankrupts have taken over the White House. Who will stop them?

The administration under the philosophical guidance of the dissolute, nihilistic Christian-right sociopath, Bannon, sees its remit as the destruction of whole swaths of regulatory bodies that provide the overall governance of the United States; a kind of Year Zero policy, like the one Pol Pot implemented in Cambodia. He has said it: it’s not my invention. He has told American Conservatives, his aim is to bring down the entire apparatus of the State.

Why is he not in jail facing sedition charges? Why is the grotesque Trump not in jail, awaiting trial under the Patriot Act, the Logan Act, the Emoluments Clause, the racketeering laws? Is no-one capable of standing up and taking appropriate actions against these deceptive men?

So I was thrilled to learn today that 1.5 million acres of territory across four states, including Oklahoma, have been reduced to ashes by brushfires in the past 48 hours. I would that the whole of the fucking United States would burn down around the ears of this sick jerk Pruitt, one of the biggest, most self-interested fucking liars on earth.

And there will be consequences arising from these outré statements of his. Mr Pruitt knows full well, because it is White House policy to continue to build an army of Trump’s core supporters, ‘The Movement’, that he can tap into the limited knowledge-base of Dumbfucks and internet trolls, trailer dwellers without education or discrimination, middle-class Tea Party disappointees, veterans as unlike Mr Trump as it is possible to be (who haven’t noticed he despises them), racists, millions of self-identifying economically dispossessed voters, conspiracy theorists and crazed survivalists; plus a handful no doubt of the usual suspects, opportunistic thugs happy to create any mayhem, to persecute any ethnic or religious minority, who don’t care that he’s lying as long as he tells them the lies they want to hear; the lies that license their envy and malice without sanction.

Rounding that out, is the promotion of the dimly illuminated Betsy DeVos, wife of the Amway pyramid-selling multibillionaire ‘Dick’, contributor of $22 million to Party and campaign funds, to a role where she can collapse the education system, to promote well-armed Christian schools – madrassas teaching future generations of little American Nazis Creationism and Bible fucking Truther studies and God-knows what unadulterated mystical cobblers, ignorance and fear and loyalty to The Plan. Plus, the value of becoming an Amway downline.

Like, carbon dioxide doesn’t cause warming. Like scientists still can’t agree. Like, more research is needed – except that Trump has already banned with an illiterate flourish, the doomed environment agencies and Government scientists and NASA from publishing research he’s being told by Bannon and Miller, the snow-capped fundamentalist Pence, he doesn’t agree with.

You’re fucked, America.

And so are we.

x

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suqLgsZdR7E

“Newly Released Emails Reveal Pruitt’s Connections with Koch Brothers” –The Real News Network

In case you don’t know the Koch Brothers, the Koch family owns vast slabs of the US energy industry and is responsible for much of the pollution of all three ‘sinks’ – earth, air and water; having extensive holdings in, for instance, the filthy business of tar-sands extraction, opencast coal mining, pipelines and fracking. According to Rolling Stone magazine:

Brothers Charles and David (Koch) are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled. The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they’ve cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House. Their political network helped finance the Tea Party and powers today’s GOP.”

“According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute, only three companies rank among the top 30 polluters of America’s air, water and climate: ExxonMobil, American Electric Power and Koch Industries… Across its businesses, Koch generates 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year.” – Rolling Stone

Interestingly, the filthy rich Kochs reportedly don’t approve of Trump, he’s not fully on-board with the program. But he’s being so good to them! Maybe appointing their boy Pruitt to the EPA and signing off orders removing environmental protections is an attempt to make nice with them? To buy their love? But surely not.

That would be corruption.

(A quick check with TheAtlanticist reveals the interesting fact that none of the Top 10 most spectacularly wealthy party donors backed Trump. Hopefuls they did back, whose names are rapidly fading into history include well-funded candidates Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul… so they all lost their shirts. So sad!)

 

Oh God, please make it stop! #2

Lt Gen Michael T Flynn, showing he has normal hands.

To look at, General Mike Flynn is an imposing figure of a man. The sort of leader you’d follow into combat, trusting him to extract you and your unit safely from the hottest firefight.

A craggy, hawkish profile marked by a strong chin and powerful, axe-blade nose; under beetling brows a permanently serious, not to say intimidating expression; his upright military bearing indicative of total authority, strength, command, confidence – total probity.

Not the sort of swamp-dwelling Washington lobbyist of imagination, who would blandly deny, secretly and while not yet in office having negotiated the lifting of sanctions on his country’s oldest enemy, imposed because of their illicit military incursions into a friendly country – an apparent breach of the Logan Acts; nor the kind of sleazy back-alley operator, who would happily trouser half a million dollars to do a bit of PR for a tyrannical Muslim dictator.

But there you are.

Needs must when the Devil drives, as they say. A retired general’s pension ain’t so great. And Mr Trump appears to surround himself with similar types who’ve all done Faustian bargains to obtain temporal power and riches. Flynn’s reward for loyal service to the Trump machine was to be made National Security Advisor, despite his stated allegiance to the Democratic party. And Russia, obviously.

It didn’t go well.

Having been cut loose only days later by the Trump Inc. false facts factory, presumably to keep his activities at arm’s length from the capo di capi, the Big Orange, Mr Flynn found himself in the embarrassing position of having to admit to the media at least four meetings with Russian diplomats, for which obviously read intelligence agents, while not precisely remembering the subjects of the conversations. Amnesia that might have proved costly on the battlefield. Oh, we’re attacking the tanks, right.

I imagine at that point he must have found his life unspooling, and frankly I was tempted to feel a bit sorry for him as he was clearly an honourable man ‘only following orders’ from the gilded buffoon who would shortly become his Commander-in-Chief, although he would not have known it then, and acted in conscience to protect him, only to be thrown to the wolves.

Now I’m not so sure. For, first thing this morning (not as impressive as it sounds, I’m a late riser) we were greeted by the following headline:

“Trump unaware that Michael Flynn was a ‘foreign agent’, Sean Spicer says

“Former national security adviser retroactively disclosed that he lobbied for firm linked to Turkish government while working as Trump’s campaign adviser” – The Guardian

“….Donald Trump was unaware his former national security adviser was working as a “foreign agent” when he gave him the job, according to his press secretary…. “I don’t believe that was known,” said Sean Spicer, when asked by reporters at his regular press briefing on Thursday.”

You mean there are other things that were known?

A typical Melissa Spicer fudge. That little bitch always seems to be flying-by-wire. But was this revelation a means of silencing Flynn?

What Flynn, working through a Dutch PR consultancy, was paid $530,000 to do, it seems, was to lobby the President to send back to Ankara for a spot of enhanced questioning, a ‘radical’ cleric, Dr Fetullah Gulen, who has been living in exile for many years in the USA, which has thus far refused to allow Turkey to extradite him.

Dr Gulen is a former friend and colleague of the increasingly paranoid President Recep Tayyat Erdogan. Rather as first Hillary Clinton, and now President Obama (they keep the title), have become the catch-all hate figures for the increasingly paranoid President Trump and his barely sentient followers, so Dr Gulen is the Emmanuel Goldstein, as it were (to draw an Orwellian analogy), the national hate figure of Big Brother Erdogan, his goons and paid agitators and millions of assorted rustics who keep voting for him (but never seem to get any better off. Funny, that.)

Dr Gulen is responsible for all the ills Turkey has been suffering since the financial crash, that have nothing to do with Erdogan’s competence as he accrues powers to the Presidency that are coming close to one-man rule; and indeed masterminded the badly managed coup many conspiracy theorists seem still to think Mr Erdogan organised against himself in order to have a good clearout of more than 100,000 military and State employees – teachers, librarians and so on – ‘Gulenists’ he believes were plotting against him, many of them now languishing in jail.

I couldn’t possibly comment.

Meanwhile Mr Erdogan continues to pursue military operations as two sides of a curious triangle: against the ISIS on one side, his domestic Kurdish PKK separatists on another; while on the baseline, supported by the Americans, in Syria the PKK is fighting the ISIS.

Thus Mr Flynn was probably inadvertently supporting the enemy of another US ally. But it’s complicated. No, really.

And with over 2,000 civilian dead, mainly Kurds, and tens of thousands more displaced by fighting, the Turkish Army in the south is being accused by the UN of serious human rights violations. But as I say, it’s complicated. No, really.

And, guided by Mr Putin, in Ankara the nutjob is railing against the European Union and NATO to try to stoke up nationalist fervour ahead of next week’s Presidential referendum increasing his powers to those of Allah the almighty himself. But Mr Flynn is happy for a few dollars to assist the enemies of NATO, albeit that they are themselves valued members.

We pray fervently, do we not, for contact with aliens from more sophisticated civilizations, only in the hope that someone is powerful enough to rid the world of these scumbags. But no-one comes.

Many years ago, I worked with a journalist whose dinner-party story was that he had at one time been PR advisor to Idi Amin, the Butcher of Uganda: a murderer, embezzler and a suspected cannibal. Like the Catholic church, a good PR man doesn’t take sides, you see, he just hears the confessions and takes the money. Poor Julian was put away eventually, after setting fire to his own house with his attractive French wife and kid inside.

General Flynn’s future seems less clear at present. It’s a ‘watch this space’ situation until what is believed is not known can be believed to be known, as it were.

 

Bang to rights

I’ve Posted before about discrepancies in police prosecutions and court sentencing of felons whose actions result in the deaths of police, and those who kill civilians, in the course of police pursuits.

My particular focus was on the case of 19-year-old Clayton Williams, given a 20-year sentence for manslaughter after (he says, accidentally) striking and killing PC David Philips, a foot-patrol officer who was ordered to stop Williams’ stolen Mitsubishi pickup truck two hours after a minor break-in was reported, with other officers in hot pursuit.

A more normal sentence for manslaughter in a motoring case involving the deaths of civilians where the police are not involved might be from two to six years.

There were elements of the case I found disturbing, especially the way the police identified Williams and published a highly pejorative social media photo and held an emotive press conference after he had already been charged – with murder, initially – but before trial, potentially prejudicing a jury.

I contrasted it with a more recent case, that of 24-year-old Joshua Dobby, who struck a group of pedestrians in south London, killing a ten-year-old boy and his aunt, while being pursued by police. In that instance there was no hyped-up emotional rhetoric or talk of ‘murder’. The original charge was one of causing death by dangerous driving.

His case has just concluded.

We learned that Dobby, the estranged son of a wealthy businessman, had been high on crack cocaine and heroin at the time, and had no driver’s licence or insurance. He was already out on licence from an 18-week prison sentence for handling stolen goods.

“The defendant had 53 previous convictions dating back to the age of 13, including a conviction for aggravated vehicle taking, having crashed a car into railings with police in pursuit, aged 16.” – BBC News

And it was the second time he had been pursued by police that same day.

You would imagine then that such an egregious offender would have been subject to the full force of the law; but the maximum penalty for his offence is only 12 years; whereas it appears that a charge of murdering a policeman, reduced to one of manslaughter, has no limit on the sentence.

Twelve years is a hefty sentence, and more than deserved in this case. Dobby is a mess, a deeply damaged personality who needs correction. He won’t get it – our prison system is in meltdown: understaffed, underfunded, programmes abandoned; riddled with drugs and violence, prisoners are reported to be locking themselves in their cells for protection. People have been calling for his sentence to be increased, but by the usual standards of manslaughter sentences it is already at the top of the scale.

Williams too is by all accounts a miserable social specimen, who had also been taking drugs. When the victim was a policeman, however, doing a job everyone, including the police, accept can be dangerous – although on average annual police operational casualties throughout the history of the 150,000-strong force have thankfully rarely exceed two or three in a year it’s less dangerous than working on a building site) – with a defendant five years younger than Dobby, and with a lesser string of convictions, 20 years seems excessive.

In both cases, police were engaged in a high-speed chase through a built-up area, pursuing minor criminals for what were initially minor offences. Don’t they bear any responsibility for the consequences? For all those wrecked lives?

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 9: Bugger! Trump speaks in sentences! Greatest speech in history, ever. Believe me.

“I don’t know what the hell it says, some stuff, but Bannon says it’s my signature o.k., so we’ll run with it”

Bugger! Wire we doing this?

“Mr Trump, who is at his Florida resort, fired off a series of tweets from just after 06:30 local time (11:30 GMT) on Saturday. He called the alleged tapping “a new low” and said “This is Nixon/Watergate” – BBC News

Trump’s latest wheeze, creating fake news to shift the blame for Whiteyleaks onto his new hate figure, Emmanuel Goldstein Obama, by suggesting with no evidence whatever that the former President left a bug in the Trump Tower, is just the orange manchild’s way of denying the leaks are coming from his own staff and the FBI.

And the poor fuckwit doesn’t even understand, Nixon bugged his own office. That’s where the notorious White House Tapes came from. It wasn’t an FBI black op, ‘Tricky Dicky’ was so vain and insecure he recorded everything for posterity. Even the bad bits.

Once the tapes were finally subpoena’d by the Special Prosecutor, they showed the extent of Nixon’s potty-mouthed and devious corruption, his involvement in ordering the break in at the Watergate complex to steal the Democrat Party’s campaign plans.

Mr Trump has therefore just admitted that his transition team probably has enough dirt to hang him out to dry.

‘We’re Americans, we have no idea even where Russia is.”

Bye bye. It’s been fun.

x

Reading between the outlines

What has happened to the BBC, that used to be famed for its impartiality?

I listened to an hour of the flagship R4 Today programme, er, today and anyone would imagine we had woken up on a new rocky, watery planet orbiting a star only 40 light years away by Space-X shuttle.

Total, uncritical reception. The worst they could find any London-based American journalist to say about Trump’s miraculous rebirth was that he didn’t write the speech himself. That was the New York Times man. Otherwise the vox pops, the studio reactions, the long-distance interviews with stunned Congressmen – it was as if the last 38 days had all been a bad dream.

Politicians at that level seldom do write their own speeches. Especially ones as important as this. There’s been a growing movement in Congress to have Trump impeached. Seemingly the problem was that there were so many grounds for firing him, nobody could decide which to go for. His approval ratings in the country are abysmal – only 42 per cent think he’s doing a good job, the worst anyone can remember after so short a period in office.

This was a shit-or-bust speech.

And unless Trump has only been pretending to be a grammatical imbecile all these months, it seems likely someone was putting those silvery, honeyed, joined-up words into his normally angry, lying, confused mouth.

To get any kind of an objective view of the speech he made to Congress, it is necessary to turn to those alternative sources we can get here, carried via short clips on YouTube: MSNBC – Rachel Maddow. TYT (The Young Turks). John Oliver of SNL (can’t stand those ‘satire’ shows for lowbrow whoopers). David Pakman. Keith Olbermann. Sam Harris. Mike Molloy. RT – Thom Hartmann.

These are not moan-for-Hillary neolibtards and commie pinkos narrowcasting from within their snowflake paperweight bubbles, they are pretty serious people (given the obvious constraints of having to explain anything a bit complicated to their fellow Americans), some of them ex-journalists and newscasters, and they all have egos, but they are all renegades who are free to stray beyond the bland boundaries of the mainstream media to share their concerns and join some of the dots.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the Socialist presidential candidate who was forced to throw his mass of support behind the disastrous Clinton bid, has for instance delivered a sober deconstruction on TYT Nation of the speech and the policies whose outlines need very much to be read between.

This was a speech for corporate America. $3 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthiest one per cent. The removal, virtually, of corporation tax on big companies who already pay little or no tax and offshore enough wealth to provide free healthcare for all, a free college education, or rescue the economies of Haiti or Venezuela (which, no, they’re not going to do). An increase of nine per cent in the military budget – $56 billion, of which most will inevitably go to line the already overstuffed pockets of private defense contractors. ‘A trillion dollars’ (where’s he borrowing that from?) to be spent on private infrastructure projects. Cuts to welfare programs, public education. More vague promises of a new version of the just about adequate existing affordable healthcare program, to restore the ruddy health of private healthcare and insurance corporations. The blatant hypocrisy of talking about ‘clean air and water’ when Trump has already signed off measures relaxing pollution controls for his coalmining funders, the Fabulous Koch Brothers, and appointed corrupt overseers to eviscerate the environmental agencies. Nothing but vague promises of past their sell-by-date jobs for the 40 million living on the breadline; deportations and broken families for the rest.

Nothing but the tone has changed. It’s a budget by a serial bankrupt, for national bankruptcy. Theft on a grand scale. The US is in hock to the tune of $20 trillion already – what’s a few trillions more? We’ve got the biggest, most expensive army in the world, it’s gonna be bigger – who’s going to make us pay it back?

The fact that Trump has managed to deliver a speech appealing for calm and unity (who, I wonder, created the panic and disunity in the first place?) in joined-up, honeyed words without totally fucking it up does not detract for one moment from what has gone before:

…the lies, the incompetence, the chaos, the bullying, the  despair of staffers, the appointments of ringers, the shameless plugging of his family business interests, the stubborn refusal to publish his incriminating tax returns, the brutalities of his immigration policies that are licensing gum-chewing hicks to persecute Muslims and Hispanics and people of colour legally resident in the country and to impound and turn back travellers whose origins are suspect even if their visas aren’t – even former Prime Ministers: the litany of appalling horrors that have crawled out of this bizarre Oval Office in just a month, calumny upon calumny…

…not to ignore the gathering storm over his possible links via crooked associates and dodgy bankers and money-launderers and oligarchs to organised crime and hostile foreign powers, the huge debts he is said to have accumulated that leave him vulnerable to blackmail and provide him with the necessity to exploit his position for personal gain, to promote supine and self-interested incompetents to positions of power who will never challenge him…

…or the rampant electoral dishonesty engineered by the Republican party with the aid of so-called ‘Russian hackers’ – the increasingly clear connections between such nodes in the conspiracy as the Breitbart News cabal and their shadowy business interests, the Murdoch empire, Nigel Farage and the Leave.UK campaign, Deutsche Bank/Bank of Cyprus and even – for God’s sake – the Kremlin.

None of this shit has suddenly been magicked away by the febrile applause of Conservatives in the House, internally crying with relief that at last some literary genius has been found to sugar the pill and keep the ADHD President on message.

It looks like Donny took his Ritalin for once.

And now, it’s the turn of Jeff Sessions… ‘I did not have intercourse with that Russian Ambassador. I did not inhale…’

“Look guys, long fingers, big hands…”

“I have nothing to do with Russia” – The Wit and Wisdom of Donald J Trump

“The glitzy event (in Moscow), which included a swanky after-party, drew various Russian notables, including a member of Putin’s inner circle and an alleged Russian mobster. Trump later boasted that he had mingled with “almost all of the oligarchs.” Trump had hoped that Putin would attend the pageant—tweeting months earlier, “if so, will he become my new best friend?”—but the Russian leader was a no-show.” – Mother Jones website, 16 Dec 2016.

If Sessions lying to a congressional oversight committee on oath that he hadn’t spoken to the Russian ambassador to Washington is potentially a sacking offence, what the hell is this?

And if he has nothing to do with Russia, why is there an alleged Russian mobster, “property developer” Felix Henry Sater, officed in Trump Tower, New York? A man Trump has denied knowing, yet the first paragraph of his Wikipedia entry states:

“Sater has been an advisor to many corporations, including The Trump Organization.”

And why is Trump followed on a private jet wherever he goes by Dmitry Whothefuckoff, Rybolovlev the ‘Fertiliser King’, a Russian multibillionaire and crony of Putin’s who ‘overpaid’ $100 million via Bank of Cyprus, where he’s a shareholder (Director: Wilbur Ross, Trump’s old friend and now Commerce Secretary; other Director, Dr Joseph Ackermann, former-CEO of Deutsche Bank, yes them again) to buy a dilapidated mansion in Florida from Trump, that was pulled down shortly after?

Did he do that just to thwart his ex-wife, who’d been awarded $4 billion of his fortune?

You’re being fucked, America. We’re all being taken for mugs.

x

Cherry Blossom Time

© cherryblossomwatch

© 2014 cherryblossomwatch

On February 27 the first buds began opening on Washington’s famous cherry trees.

If the stonewall dumbfuck Republican deniers taking their funding from crooked energy company lobbyists in the swamp and the demented runarounds in the White House don’t admit it now, they never will.

According to official website Cherryblossomwatch.com, it’s the earliest Spring flowering ever recorded.

x

 

Dream on

“American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.” – Donald H (sorry, J) Trump

There you have it.

The long-term dream of the dumbfuck alt-right fascist billionaires, right there. What the Trump presidency is all about. The underlying strategy. The Big Plan. Where the money’s gone.

Start over. Earth #2, with racial purity and proper print-your-own capitalism.

Grab some pussy, arm yourself with a full alpha copy of Google on a quantum drive, the blueprint for a New World, hop aboard a Space-X rocket courtesy of Musktours to one of those pristine rocky, watery earthlike planets NASA has found, only 40 light years from our gutted and dying world.

(Actually 40 light years is about 300,000 Earth years away at the speed of the fastest ship Musk can produce, but don’t tell Donald and Ivanka (I feel sure he’ll take his attractive daughter, his ‘terrific piece of ass’ as he calls her,  to use as breeding stock for the new master race, rather than the bothersome Melania). It’s only about 100,000 years longer than the length of time modern humans were around.

While the rest of us, on the verge of starvation and with five billion climate migrants clawing with bloodied hands at our razor-wire fences, die screaming in a methane fireball.

Hello, Jesus.

x

Fore!

“Donald Trump has lost nearly £26m ($31.8m) building his golfing empire in Scotland, his company accounts show – a sum that means the Republican presidential candidate has avoided paying any UK corporation tax on either of his two resorts.

“The latest accounts filed to the UK authorities for Trump’s two resorts, in Aberdeenshire and Turnberry in Ayrshire, also show he has sunk more than £102m ($125m) of his own money into both businesses, despite losing increasing sums on both investments.

“There is also an apparent discrepancy between the accounts and his filings last year to the US Federal Election Commission (FEC).” http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/12/donald-trump-scotland-golf-course-resort-losses

And where exactly is Mr Trump’s controversial new course, Trump International, that he fought tooth-and-nail to have built on a site of special scientific interest against furious opposition from residents, local authorities and environmentalists?

Why, Aberdeen.

Home of Aberdeen Asset Management, since last week Europe’s largest share juggler and tax strategist with over £300 billion of managed funds.

Part-owner of the former Deutsche Asset Management and (see above) part-owner of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV.

It must mean something.

A visit to Aberdeen’s prettily designed and reassuring website (motto: ‘Simple is Smart’) produces the following guest quote from Tim Harford, the larky ‘Undercover Economist’ on the Financial Times:

“The mark of success is not to avoid failure but to learn from it, adjust and adapt.”

Mr Trump has certainly learned and adapted from his many failures. Ironically, the FT (now owned by Nikkei) was founded by one Horatio Bottomley MP, a bogus patriot who pocketed the money from the sale of First World War ‘Victory’ bonds and in 1922 was jailed for seven years for fraud.

Martin Gilbert, the CEO of Aberdeen (annual salary £4.1 m), is described thus in The Telegraph:

“Gilbert is the City’s original bogeyman. Long before the likes of Fred Goodwin, Bob Diamond or any of the Libor traders, Gilbert was regarded as the unacceptable face of finance.”

“Just over a decade ago … the savings vehicles famously claimed to have “more safety features than a Volvo” … collapsed, triggering £650m of losses for 50,000 small investors.

“Aberdeen was accused of being at the centre of a “magic circle” of fund managers whose back-scratching fund raisings generated huge fees and bonuses for themselves but created a dangerous pack of cards for savers.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/10471334/How-Martin-Gilbert-the-Citys-original-bogeyman-pulled-it-out-of-the-fire-again.html

I couldn’t possibly comment.

x

Pot, kettle, Pence

Remember all that shit about locking Hillary up for using a private email server on State Department business? Shit that with the help of slimy Judas Assange, the Russians and the biddable FBI director Comey helped to stuff the Democratic campaign in its dying days?

Well, at least a private email server stands less chance of being hacked than AOL, even if it’s only OAPs who still use it.

OAPs like VPOTUS Mike Pence, the walking snow-capped advert for Anusol.

It appears Indiana Governor Pence, as he was, sent embarrassing emails about security matters using his personal AOL account.

I wonder by what circuitous route that came to the public attention?

His account was hacked – laughably his friends and Contacts seem to have received from him, one of those “Help, Mike, we’re stuck in a hotel in Myanmar, can you send us two thousand bucks to pay the bill?” scams – showing that his Contacts file at the very least is now in the hands of the Russians, the Chinese, North Korea, the FBI, GCHQ, Bob Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica, the Democratic party – creatures from a rocky planet orbiting a star only 40 light years from Earth…. maybe all eight.

Who the fuck knows who does this stuff?

All we know is, Pence owes Hillary a huge apology for being an even bigger old fool than she was – and more of a hypocrite. (GOP spokes however are crying loudly, no, you don’t understand, this is different!)

Can Captain Trump’s Traumatised Transition Team take much more of this shit?

As I keep digging a shallow grave as regards connections between businesses and their men, let me just mention that AOL is owned by global comms giant, Verizon (formerly Bell labs). According to Wikipedia:

“In December 2011, the non-partisan organization Public Campaign criticized Verizon for its tax avoidance procedures after it spent $52.34 million on lobbying while collecting $951 million in tax rebates between 2008 and 2010 and making a profit of $32.5 billion.”

Of more interest to Pence, perhaps, is Verizon’s much criticised collection of metadata from customers who cannot count on their security, as the company has frequently handed over information on request… to the FBI.

You’re being fucked, America. But so is the Transition Team.

 

Essay

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/mar/02/electoral-commission-urged-to-investigate-farages-brexit-campaign

Scooped!

Yes, The Pumpkin has been scooped. The day after I wrote the following piece (but hadn’t yet posted it), the above article has appeared on The Guardian Today website, pretty much making the points I’ve been trying to make for weeks. For the first time, someone is beginning to join the dots and fill-in the blanks in this conspiracy-by-numbers, this hardliner coup in America and Britain, that has so far been reported only as a series of random, apparently disconnected events and amusing speculative pieces about Trump’s sanity.

So there we are.

And here’s my piece. I wrote it for the American market, hence the slangy style; dedicated it to the amazing Mike Malloy.

By a narrow margin 48%-52% the turkeys voted for Christmas. The far from definitive result has been hailed by self-interested corporatists, alt-right media and neo-Thatcherites as the indomitable ‘Will of the People’. Or, as we say in this centenary year of the Russian Revolution, ‘The Dictatorship of the Proletariat’. And there is no gainsaying it, or they howl you down.

The European Union is a crock of shit. We all accept that. It expanded too fast, got too bureaucratic, took in some nasty countries we shouldn’t have. Bad hombres in fleamarket shellsuits and black-market trainers arrived in our Victorian terraced slums.

The one-size-fits-all Euro has fucked up the weaker economies of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and even Italy with adverse capital flows – overlending by big mostly German banks borrowing at low rates and lending to poorer countries at high rates – they couldn’t pay back, and are now being fucked over by the ECB ‘Troika’ and the IMF. We know that. My cousin Costas in Athens is a government employee, he hasn’t been paid in months and had a heart attack last year needing a quad bypass in a medical system that doesn’t have drugs, bandages. It’s a disaster.

But it was the best crock of shit we had. It produced a mass of annoying laws safeguarding workers and consumers’ rights, standardising products (my first PR client made generic parts for cars. EU type approvals made it possible for them to sell parts that fit for French and German cars), dictating (with diagrams) what constitutes a legal banana, guaranteeing food safety and traceability; toys that didn’t kill and maim children. I remember the 70s when the most fun you could have on a Sunday afternoon was to sit out and watch your car rust. That changed.

My adopted little nation of Wales is an economic basket case and attracted billions of Euros in EU development finance. We pissed it away, but that’s another story. The EU enables free flows in labour and learning, research and residence. We made the Airbus together. It did away with customs barriers – some acned teenager crawling officiously through your car looking for something he could bill you for, remember? Yet it allowed a measure of internal competition.

And the EU has done good things to resist the monstrously abusive TTIP treaty, abolished unfair cross-border roaming charges by the big cellphone corpses, thwarted putative media monopolies and hit Apple with a $13 billion bill for underpaid tax.…

Why would we throw that away? It wasn’t all bad; it created a safe environment in which we could trade internally without tariffs in a market of 450 million consumers and do business all around the world from a position of strength; and besides, we haven’t had a good war in Europe for 70 years. You can guess which way I voted.

A brash, ugly millionaire called Arron Banks wanted to stop all that. Married to a Russian, with unexplained personal net worth of £100 million, Banks “spent the first part of his childhood in South Africa and returned to the UK to attend a private school in Berkshire before being expelled for “an accumulation of offences”, including the sale of lead stolen from school building roofs.” (Wikipedia)

He stole the fucking lead off his own school roof; yet millions vote for the scam party he started.

With fingers in the online insurance racket, claiming to own a diamond mine in S Africa, “According to Companies House records, Banks has set up 37 different companies using slight variations of his name.” (ibid.)  He has been accused at times of harassment, information theft and insider trading… he also cropped up in the Panama Papers as a secret offshore investor – a right dodgy geezer.

Like a lot of bored business fuckwits with too much easy money, he wanted to get rid of all those foreign barriers to unbridled kleptocracy. So he wrapped himself in the flag and funded the ‘United Kingdom Independence Party’, essentially a disorganised rabble of curtain-twitchers, crazed Empire loyalists, ‘Just About Managing’ squeezed middle Englanders, disaffected working-class Tories and failed High Tory politicians;  and hired a man called Farage to run it.

Now, Nigel Farage is an arsehole. A privately educated millionaire former ‘commodities broker’ with US bloodsuckers Drexel, Burnham, Lambert, he likes to pose outside a jolly old pub with a smoke and a pint, wearing unspeakable ‘English gent’ clothes that make him look like a cashiered army major from a 1950s Ealing Studios comedy, as a ‘Man o’ the People’, railing against political correctness, immigrants (his wife is German, she’s divorcing him) and Big Government. His many working-class fans love him because ‘he’s one of us’, he ‘tells it like it is’, the poor boobies.

Ringing any bells?

Farage is nevertheless a genius at grabbing the limelight and bypassing the normal rules on campaigning appearances by making himself the news story. He has appeared 33 times as a panellist on the prestige BBC political debate show, Question Time. His number is on the front page of every media researcher’s contacts file.

His Wikipedia entry lists a bunch of flakey alt-right committees and organisations. He’s an elected Member of the European Parliament, that he has vowed to destroy – benefiting from a fat salary and massive expenses the meanwhile. But he’s failed to get a proper UK Parliamentary seat six times, leaving UKIP with only one member in the House; a man he doesn’t get on with.

And he’s Donald Trump’s little British bumboy.

How did that happen, that he became a pop-up politician on the Trump trail, was photo-opped in the Golden Elevator with the Sun King, and even appeared at the CPAC  Nazi rally? How was it Trump publicly tried to endorse Nigel for the (not-available) job of British ambassador to Washington – an appointment not in his gift?

The clue is in that photo-opp. Standing next to Farage and The Donald in the portal to Heaven was a gurning Raheem Kassam, editor of the toned-down British version of Breitbart News.

Finally got there.

Now, last week the walking snow-capped advert for Anusol, Mike Pence arrived in Brussels with a message: be of good cheer, The Administration supports the EU to the hilt.

This was somewhat at odds with Trump’s frequent outbursts of approval for Brexit, that threatens to pull apart the fabric of the EU and has triggered a horrific xenophobic backlash here, terrified long-stay EU citizens with British families being used by the ghastly Theresa May as bargaining chips for a ‘red, white and blue Brexit’’; Muslim women having to run the gamut of chanting racists in the streets, spitting and ripping off their hijabs.

(Let us not forget Mrs May: married to millionaire Phil, an investment manager, for six years as Home Secretary she ran Britain’s security apparatus: MI5, MI6, the GCHQ listening post, that collects data for the NSA and monitors the Russian traffic, and pushed through the most oppressive surveillance laws in the western world.)

See, this is all about information, investments and who owns them. There’s a simple problem, which is that a billion dollars, pounds or whatever is a very large number. It’s a problem to find more things to buy, places to put it. ‘Oligarchs’ end up moving it around amongst themselves. Often, it’s hot money that needs a bit of cooling down. I buy ‘x’ for such an amount, I sell it to you for ‘y’ (ten times as much?) and it’s immediately legal.

The cretinous antics of the senile manchild with ADHD isn’t really the story. The story is the money. And who else should be involved?

Through Brexit, Britain, proclaimed the Orange One, had regained its sovereignty, control of its borders, freedom from foreign tyranny and oppression… general whiteness and a warm welcome for US tech companies, defense contractors, money-laundering Russian oligarchs and Murdoch’s News Corp to operate with impunity. But Pence says they just love the EU. What gives?

(Murdoch is also close to the President. He has a bed made up in the corner of the Oval Office; his ex-wife Wendi Deng is best buds with Ivanka. Wendi, 45, has also enjoyed close relations with recent UK Prime Ministers Blair, Brown and Cameron; and is rumoured to be Vladimir Putin’s current Chinese squeeze. She gets around.)

How to swing an election

We are now learning that one of the ways the Vote Leave campaign got its marginal majority was by someone ‘harvesting’ personal data from Facebook and other social media accounts, profiling millions of voters from their ‘Likes’ and search histories, using ‘bots’ (don’t ask, I have no idea) to bombard them automatically with tailored messages to manipulate their presumed voting inclinations. Two million new mystery voters suddenly appeared on the register, days before the vote; presumably radicalised online. The website crashed.

Farage had been judged too toxic even for the official Vote Leave, so contented himself with fronting Banks’ private ‘Leave.EU’ campaign, into which the boorish millionaire sank £7.5 million. And, surprise surprise, according to a report in the mainstream Observer newspaper, it turns out that nifty Nigel is also a ‘friend’ of US multi-billionaire, ultra-ultra-conservative hedge fund manager, Robert Mercer.

Mercer also happens to be the wallet behind Breitbart News, whose co-founder and sometime editor, Steve Bannon, is Trump’s consigliere. And more importantly, he is a computer ‘genius’, a pioneer of Big Data, and the ultimate owner of a firm called Cambridge Analytica, which carried out the data grab on the British electorate on behalf of Leave.EU, that helped to nudge the Leavers over the line.

Another help for their separatist, isolationist cause was the thirty-year-long campaign of fake news about the machinations of the evil EU that had been running in Murdoch’s UK newspapers: the now-defunct News of the World, a Sunday scandal-sheet shut down after allegations of massive phone hacking (edited by Rebekah Wade, aka Brooks – sometime CEO of Murdoch’s News UK Corp. and a close friend of the Camerons); the putrid ultra-loyalist daily The Sun, and even The Times of London. Through his holdings in Fox News, Murdoch has been bidding to complete his stake in the UK’s Sky TV, whose news arm he was forced to divest under EU antitrust laws: BUT… “Mogul needs regulators to approve deal, which will give him full control of pay-TV operations in UK, Germany and Italy” (The Guardian) And they’re resisting; so the billionaires club are trying to take down the EU.

 “A committee of Sky’s “independent” (my parenthesis) directors, led by Martin Gilbert – the broadcaster’s deputy chairman and the chief executive of Sky shareholder Aberdeen Asset Management – scrutinised the deal on behalf of non-Murdoch investors.

“The committee, which unanimously accepted the deal, included the Sky chief executive, Jeremy Darroch, and the finance chief, Andrew Griffith, who are in line for a £40m payday if the deal goes through.”

And a quick trip to Wikipedia reveals that ‘Aberdeen Asset Management’ acquired a share of Deutsche Bank’s asset management business in 2007. The Deutsche Bank to which Trump owes $340 million; the unpaid balance of a loan he took out in 2007.

As I keep saying, follow the money. There’s a lot of it about.

While the FBI is faffing about, pursuing evanescent Russian hackers… They may have tried to ‘influence’ the US election by channelling what dirt they could find on Hillary and her grimy aides  through Wikileaks, whose founder, Julian Assange, remains wanted on a Swedish rape charge he believes the CIA set up so they could grab him in Stockholm. The unpleasant and self-obsessed Mr Assange is still lurking as an unwanted political refugee in the basement of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, presumably hoping Trump would be a better bet for his release than Hillary (he’s also wanted in the USA on data theft charges that could get him a very long spell in Leavenworth).

Thus we have a real live instance of private interference from the USA in a British referendum, with the aim of breaking up the annoying European union and its anti-trust, pro-consumer superstate.

I’m assuming the voter radicalisation, Big Data techniques (more usually used for online advertising) employed by Cambridge Analytica were also applied to the US election, I don’t know. What else did the Trump campaign’s Breitbart connections get up to online, I wonder? Did Russian hackers really infiltrate the DNC? Or did that come from somewhere else?

Ultimately, the story lies elsewhere. We are clearly not looking at a coup only in the USA, this is a global hijacking.

The story is the money. Follow the money!

Trump’s pick for Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross is a director of Bank of Cyprus, a known Russian money-laundering front with links back to Moscow and various Putin cronies – including Dmitry Rybolovlev, the ‘Fertiliser King’, who paid Trump $100 million for a worthless piece of real estate junk in Florida; a vast Xanadu mansion built so badly it had to be pulled down. He never lived there, so why buy it? Oh, right. Another director, Dr Josef Ackermann is a former director of Deutsche Bank, which has been fined $billions for money-laundering on his watch. Ask how Trump’s reported 2008 default of $340 million debt to Deutsche went away, where it’s gone and who made it go?

We’ve all been pissed on, that’s not the story. The story is who owns the President – and by extension, America?

Pithy observation

If the First World War was about the end of empire, the Second World War about national expansionism, the Third World War about global ideological hegemony, the goings-on in America show we are now deep into the Fourth World War: it’s being fought in the infosphere and it’s about data capitalism.

History however will judge they are all part of the same war.