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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Why we need to ban fracking now….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here we are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there’s more:

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

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

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

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

A 2017 article in Forbes magazine reported:

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

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

On shaky ground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But don’t hold your breath.

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

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

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

 

The Ruling Class

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

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

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

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

The monstrous dictatorship of the Bullingdon Club is rising.

We have been warned.

 

Boris lays an egg

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

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

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

Democracy in action.

 

Well, fuck you too

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

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

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

Well, fuck you too.

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

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

 

GW: As yet, there seems to be no weather

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

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

Pip pip!

 

The Editor Speaks… How bloody naive can you be?… Yes, but have you thought about…? You Barbie, Me Ken… GW: Washin’ out me smalls.

“There was one high-profile politician Trump did meet, and that was Brexit party leader and ‘pug who just heard your car in the driveway’, Nigel Farage.”

– Stephen Colbert, The Late Show

 

The Editor Speaks

To avoid death by suicide or apoplexy, your Uncle Bogler has spent a week totally cut off from all sources of news of Mr Trump’s State visit to Britain, including the internet. Hence the lack of forward progress with this latest Post. It appears that nothing much happened, other than Trump amplifying Ambassador Johnson’s threats (and Nigel Farage’s plans) to carve up and sell off the NHS to US corporations after Brexit, which I believe many people voted for, as reported below.

One hour later…. Unfortunately, I have just skipped over as a matter of lazy habit to the cable news channels on YouTube, to discover among other horrors that Trump gave an interview to Fox News, in front of a background of 6000 gravestones of fallen US troops who died in the D-Day landings, in which the bloated coward used his State visit as the President of the United States to vilify the highly respected Purple Heart decorated Marine, Robert Mueller 111, as a “fool”, again insulted Democratic front-runner Joe Biden as “low IQ” and referred to “Nasty Nancy” Pelosi, then tweeted out that the actress Bette Midler was a “washed-up psycho”, before going on to meet the Irish Prime minister today – where he first demanded the meeting should be held prominently at his own, heavily loss-making and in need of expensive repair, Doonbeg Castle golf resort, before huffily agreeing to the VIP lounge at Shannon airport.

Why any international leaders who aren’t themselves filthy murdering scumrats should invite this diseased sonofabitch to visit them is beyond me. He leaves a radioactive orange slug trail wherever he heaves his rotting carcass.

Dammit, here we go again. I have to stop watching this stuff.

 

Thick as thieves: Trump and his golden elevator boy.

How bloody naive can you be?

A new poll is giving Nigel Farage and his Brexit party of inexperienced misfits, hacks, buffoons and chancers the lead among intending voters at the next General Election, which could come as soon as October.

That would make Farage Britain’s Prime Minister. Are you Leavers comfortable with that?

Well, don’t say you weren’t warned.

“Woody Johnson, who is a close friend of the US president, said every area of the UK economy would be up for discussion when the two sides brokered a trade deal.

“Asked if the NHS would be likely to form part of trade negotiations, Johnson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I think the entire economy, in a trade deal, all things that are traded would be on the table.” Asked if that specifically meant healthcare, he said: ‘I would think so.'”

Mr Johnson is already on record as saying we will also have to accept American bullying to impose the US’s lower food and other product safety standards on British consumers.

But the poll thinks you’re going to vote for that at a General Election. Are you sure it’s what you want? Because it’s what Farage wants you to have.

A one-issue party in government, with no plan to end austerity and restore local services, fix our broken schools, end dependence on food banks? Not at all! Mr Farage has the following brilliant ideas for you and me:

1 Marketisation of the NHS to lead to a private insurance-based system, along US lines. Farage is on record as saying:

“‘I think we’re going to have to think about healthcare very, very differently. I think we are going to have to move to an insurance-based system of healthcare.’

“’Frankly, I would feel more comfortable that my money would return value if I was able to do that through the market place of an insurance company.'”

Note that: “Return value” – not “make people better”, make money out of the health service. Make insurance companies richer. You can invest in shares with an insurance company, make a profit. You can’t make a profit out of doctors and nurses.

2 Unemployed people would be employed to “sweep the streets” (thereby putting employed street-sweepers out of work!) As if the social system is not already broken by nine years of Tory austerity. As if the streets wouldn’t be cleaner if local authorities hadn’t been robbed of £100s of millions.

3 The BBC should not be completely dismantled but slimmed down to concentrate on radio rather than television (i.e. not compete with Disney-owned Sky and Netflix?). The BBC originated television in this country and has consistently provided a world-leading service. But Farage and his pals in the city don’t make money out of it, so it’s got to go.

Are you sure this is what you want to vote for?

4 Employee rights and protections won under the EU, such as maternity leave, that are “a problem” for small firms, should be swept away.

Small businesses employ 53 percent of the workforce. Over 99 percent of employing organizations are small businesses and more than 95 percent of these businesses have fewer than 10 employees (YouGov). That’s a lot of people’s rights gone, maybe yours – and there’s no evidence workers’ rights harm business, the small business sector has grown hugely, even with the new “living wage”.

Of course, there are the new employment opportunities afforded by US corporations like Amazon, Uber, Deliveroo. They’d be delighted if they could make conditions even more horrible for British workers.

5 Ban universities from running degree courses in European languages, philosophy and politics. That’s how much Nigel hates the whole business of Europe, to a pathological degree, although he has been making a nice living out of the EU for over 20 years. I expect it was because of his German wife.

Now, the reason for showing you the quote from the US Ambassador is simply this:

Before his arrival for his State visit, Mr Trump told UK newspapers owned by the Murdochs – the only press he will talk to – that he thinks we should leave the EU in October “with or without a deal”. If you can’t get a good deal, the President said (this is the man who had a book ghost-written for him, The Art of the Deal, claiming he was the world’s greatest deal-maker), then you should walk away. Some deal!

He completely refuses to understand the complicated nature of the beneficial relationships we have negotiated over the years – the deal we had – within the EU. It doesn’t concern him, as long as he and his friends can count on profiting from chaos.

For instance, there’s an American company, an investment management company – a hedge fund, which means they bet their investors’ money they can make the market go up or down and either way they win – called Blackstone, that last year paid £1.5 billion to buy up Network Rail’s property beneath railway arches. I couldn’t figure that one out, were they going to charge tramps for sleeping there? – until last week, when it was reported that rents for small businesses operating out of premises under railway arches were going up by as much as 85%.

Blackstone CEO, Steve Schwartzman, is a friend of Trump’s and an informal White House consultant on business strategy, who is on record as saying his $300 billion company profits from the market uncertainties caused by… e.g., “Brexit”.

I put it to you, that sort of behaviour by rapacious US corporations is going to destroy more small British businesses than maternity leave rights.

I wonder, is Trump thinking of making Ambassador Johnson even richer by negotiating a trade deal with Britain on US terms, for instance handing the NHS over to rapacious US insurance companies? Five of the Top 20 biggest companies in the USA are health insurers, while tens of millions of ordinary Americans can’t afford the kind of health cover we take for granted. Not even for sick kids.

You see, socialised medicine is for everyone, not just for the rich.

Ambassador Johnson, a billionaire, is in the health products business. Except that his company is being sued by thousands of people over poor safety standards and high-pressure selling of deadly addictive painkillers that are killing 50 thousand Americans a year.

And after spending months pulling the rug from under Theresa May, who he sees as weak on Brexit, Mr Trump, who is best friends with another healthcare billionaire, Dick DeVos, and made his unqualified wife Betsy Education Secretary – she doesn’t believe in public education either, incidentally, and wants to teach Creationism in schools – but they do own ten yachts between them – says he would like to see Boris Johnson as Prime Minister (although it’s none of his business).

And having previously suggested we make him our Ambassador to Washington, he now thinks we should make Nigel Farage our chief Brexit negotiator in Europe. You and I know that is a huge joke, but Mr Trump knows so little about it that he probably thinks he is being serious, or is hoping that lazy and incompetent motormouth Farage will blow up the whole thing for him.

Why is that, why those two – because they will be good for Britain?

No, it’s because they will do his bidding. And there is a strong suspicion that Mr Trump is in turn doing Mr Putin’s bidding. Mr Putin also wants to breakup the European Union, weaken NATO and other things Mr Trump seems to be working towards.

Do you see where this is going?

They are tools of the US administration. And no-one has been able to find out who has been bankrolling the Leave.EU and now the Brexit campaigns. They won’t say, but investigators have followed the trail abroad. To ultra-rightwing Christian groups in the USA and in Russia, who are pouring millions of dollars into far-right parties in Europe, and into getting Trump re-elected.

You voted, perhaps without realising, in the European elections to make Britain effectively the 51st State of the United States of America, at a time when that country too is in political turmoil created by ultra rightwing groups, its leaders pushing for what they hope will be profitable wars with Iran, with China, with oil-rich Venezuela, that we risk being dragged into with no say in the matter.

You voted, perhaps without realising, to give American Big Business and the US military control of our country. And you’re planning to do it again, the polls say – only in the very much more serious context of a UK Parliamentary election.

Why, because Nigel, the millionaire former dealer with failed US fund manager Drexel, Burnham, Lambert* is a good bloke, “one of us”? Because you can trust him to do the right thing, take back control?

How bloody naive can you be?

 

*3 May 2015 – “Aged 18, I worked for an old English company that was a subsidiary of the famous US investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert…” wrote Farage, desperately distancing himself from a business that was wound up in 1990 amid serious allegations of fraud and insider dealing.

 

“Should we just accept, we are turning into data … making something less than human of us all?”

Yes, but have you thought about…?

So I kickstarted my li’l laptop this a.m., like I have to do because the instant it goes into Sleep mode you can’t wake it up again, the only way is the time-honoured “switch it off and on again” method. I’m no expert, but I think it might be the legacy of a sugary drink spilled a few weeks ago, as the key still seems a bit crunchy.

And the instant I clicked on my usual Firefox browser in the taskbar (see, how well I am mastering all this technical bullshit!) a window or whatever opened up with a plaintive request from Adblock-plus for a donation to the cause.

I did in fact not long ago send them twenty-five quid, I’m sure it was them, as I’m really grateful to them for sparing me the annoyance of receiving wibbly-wobbly “look at me!” messages from advertisers hoping to sell me the very thing I just bought last night, while mildly drunk.

But they seem to have forgotten who I am.

Having worked in the ad business for a few years and owned my own agency, I like to think I’m pretty well immune to the blandishments of advertisers. I can smugly sit here thinking, in the words of that catchphrase of some old Scots comedian whose name has completely gone, “aye, ye’ll be wastin’ yer time!”

But I do spend quite a bit of money up the Amazon – I’d love a competitor to start up, called Orinoco, only Bezos doesn’t allow it – as a result of following suggestions they’ve made for companion stuff, as it seems like it’s my choice to go along with the logic of it.

It probably isn’t, but as we’re talking music, mainly, it’s fine, it’s not a ruinously expensive weakness. It’s often helpful info about recordings I didn’t know about, that fit my collection. And I rarely buy a CD – yes, I still use CDs, unlike streamers “They” can’t tell when you’re playing one offline (except it might be they can!) without looking into it, listening to it – I’ll often go over onto YouTube and decide before clicking on One-stop.

(Incidentally, beware 5-star reviews with overenthusistic comments acclaiming the genius of the performer and the indubitable superiority of the work over everything else, ever. You may be disappointed to be hearing it from the performer’s agent).

Anyway, the point I wanted to make was a different one; one I have complained about frequently, being a gummy old groaner.

Just last evening I posted a Comment on a YouTube thread beneath some music, that had somehow got onto the problem of ad-blocking.

Someone had complained about too many annoying ads interrupting music videos, someone else had pointed out you can block them, someone else had said that was ‘demonetizing’ musicians – is that fair to say? Surely it’s Alphabet that makes the money, and the content providers, or ‘thieves’ as they used to be known, not the musicians?

And I belatedly interrupted this year-old debate by pointing out that I use Adblock-plus, and if you wanted the channel to benefit from advertising, blocking it would not make the slightest difference to their revenue, as the ad is still running underneath, but if you really wanted to, you could always turn it off for just that one page.

And the first people to contact me next day – Adblock-plus. Well, well. Coincidence, no doubt.

Except that I’ve been looking at shoes.

I don’t think I’ve looked online, but I might have. Or I might have mentioned it to myself somewhere, perhaps here on muh li’l bogl, or was I just musing aloud to myself? They follow you everywhere, even into the darkest recesses.

I own about six pairs, and over time the laces have frayed or snapped or extended loopily on all but one pair, not the most leisurely of them, that I’m having to trail through the mud, and I’ve been meaning to pop into a shop and buy a pair of deck shoes or something less formal, and maybe some laces.

Anyway, I was just browsing an ad in a printed magazine for older readers, such as myself, wondering if I can spare sixty-four quid for some quite smart deck shoes down to half-price.

As previously explained, I came down to muh li’l laptop and switched it off and on again and somehow found a way to get rid of the Adblock-plus window, that came without a little X in the corner (see how they don’t like it when you do it to them!).

Next, I had to excise layer upon layer of cheery messages from Firefox, demanding that I open an account (I thought I already had, otherwise they wouldn’t be sending me messages begging me to download their upgrade) – I was mildly drunk last night and had finally agreed to the upgrade – and worked out how, but not why, they had jumbled everything up on the desktop, and left all my thumbnails linking to frequently used websites in a different order.

So then, first things first, emails – Googlemail, stupidly – and sitting there on top, was an uninvited ad for…. comfortable deck shoes (Adblock-Plus doesn’t yet block text ads on Googlemail. That would be a plus).

Bad news for the advertiser, I immediately deleted it out of fear. I refuse to be treated like this.

By some wonderful serendipity, there’s an article in today’s Observer, or as our most venerable title dating from the C18th may one day soon be renamed, Sunday Guardian, the paper version reduced to tabloid size (benefiting from synergies, naturally), pointing users to a browser called DuckDuckGo, that claims not to have advertisers following you around everywhere, reading your thoughts.

It’s tempting, but I seem to be entirely enmeshed in Google this, and Google that, a sticky web of links and cross-platformings, and wondered, without benefit of a resident teenager, if it is actually possible to make oneself entirely a free agent ever again?

Google is like cancer, once it gets hold of you it springs up everywhere, cynically mutating your cells.

Can it be successfully cut out, or will it simply metastasize elsewhere in the body Bogler? Should we just accept, we are turning into data – just as ingesting all these plastics nanoparticles from the air, the water, the beer and the food is making something less than human of us all?

Answers on the usual digital postcard below, please.

 

You Barbie, Me Ken

We are certainly turning into plastics. Guardian Green Light reports research findings that the average human ingests 50 thousand plastics microparticles every year. No-one knows what the effect might be, although it has been suggested that these particles can transport harmful viruses.

I’m not sure also if we might excrete quite a lot of it, or whether it stays in the body, mutating our cells.

 

GW: washin’ out me smalls

It appears there’s been quite a bit of action on the old extreme weather front while I’ve been on a quiet reading holiday in my own living-room, listening to the rain teeming down outside. Floods even in Libya! I am as usual indebted to Floodlist – funded by the EU Copernicus project – for many of the following items; and would again issue a plea to the vanished blogger of Climate and Extreme Weather News – come back! We need you now:

Mexico: “At least 5 people have died and more are missing after raging floods swept a deluge of mud, logs and debris through the town of San Gabriel in Jalisco state on 02 June.” It appears there was no rain locally – illegal logging and burning has denuded hillsides far upstream on the Apango river. There were more floods in the region of San Luis Potosi two days earlier, with cars washed away and buildings damaged in the city of Matehuala.

Malaysia: Over 1000 people have been evacuated in the state of Sarawak following floods up to 5 meters deep in places. Almost 200mm rain fell on Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Malaysia’s Sabah state, in 24 hours on 04 June.

Uganda: At least 5 people have died after a series of landslides in the Eastern Region. Around 50 people are missing. “The landslides occurred during the night of 04 to early 05 June, after a period of about 4 hours of heavy rain. … This is the third major flooding or landslide event to hit the country since late April this year. Just a few days ago 8 people died in flooding in the country’s capital, Kampala. A storm that brought hail, strong winds and heavy rain to parts of eastern Uganda on 23 April left at least 18 people dead and displaced around 900.”

Libya: “At least 2 people have died and many are displaced after major flooding in Ghat District in south-western Libya. Flooding struck on 03 June after a period of heavy rain. Local authorities said that as much as 70% of the city was under flood water, forcing over 500 families to leave damaged or flooded homes.” The UN has called for emergency relief, as “wide areas of the city have been without drinking water or electricity for 2 days.”

Romania: Rivers are at Orange alert following days of heavy rain and flooding. “The Ministry of Interior reports that 8 people were rescued (yesterday) from floods – including vehicles and a school – and over 260 people have been evacuated in 6 counties of the country. Around 200 homes have been flooded out in 23 counties since 23 May, with emergency services on constant alert. Severe thunderstorms were forecast for the weekend over eastern Germany, with high risk of tornadoes.

France: 3 lifeboatmen were drowned off the northwest coast after going to the aid of another boat which had got into difficulty as Storm Miguel struck the area. Winds of over 90mph had hit northern Spain earlier, swirling around the Bay of Biscay . “The storm is unusual, coming at the start of the summer tourist season”, says the BBC Weather service.

USA: With yet more heavy rain forecast this weekend over the SW states, moving up into the Great Lakes, The Weather Channel reports, “Propelled by a two-week siege of widespread severe weather and heavy rain in late May, the contiguous U.S. has once again broken its record for the wettest year-long span in data going back to 1895. According to the monthly U.S. climate summary released Thursday from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, last month was the second-wettest month in U.S. history, with the nationally averaged total of 4.41” just behind the 4.44” recorded in May 2015.”

The better news being that, for the first time ever (i.e. in 20 years of records… these Americans!), no region of the USA this past month has achieved a drought score much worse than zero. It’s been raining everywhere. Nevertheless, The Weather Channel reports, five major US cities at least are in imminent danger of “Year Zero”, when they will have to introduce water rationing.

While, reports the channel’s Dr Jeff Masters: “’Day Zero’ is expected to arrive for millions more in India by 2020, when groundwater supplies are predicted to run out for 100 million people in the northern half of the country.” Thanks largely to poor management, “Over 12% of India’s population -163 million people of 1.3 billion – live under ‘Day Zero’ conditions, with no access to clean water near their home, according to a 2018 WaterAid report.”

India: “is reeling from an intense heat wave with temperatures crossing 45C in many parts of the country”, the BBC reported on 02 June. “Churu, in the northern state of Rajasthan, is India’s hottest city – temperatures there soared to 50.8C on Sunday, the meteorological department said. It has put Rajasthan and the central state of Madhya Pradesh on alert for “severe heat wave conditions”. Records were being broken in Pakistan, however. “Jacobabad – at 51C (123.8F) – is being called the hottest place on Earth.”

Meanwhile in Australia, snow has arrived in subtropical Queensland. “Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology described it as a “rare” sight, noting the state had not experienced significant snowfall since 2015. Severe weather warnings have also been issued for a 1,000km (620m) stretch of coast which includes Sydney. People have been urged to stay indoors amid heavy rain and gale-force winds.” (BBC Weather)

 

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser went off on 01 June for the 19th time this year, well on track for a second record year. More earthquake swarms, harmonic tremors, uplift of the resurgent dome (Old Faithful), gas releases (noticeable to visitors as an acrid smell and dying vegetation). (Mary Greeley)

 

 

Dude, why are only 59 million people reading my stuff?… Miss you, Mr Mercer… AI-up, robots!… GW: Kickin’ up a storm… Fracking hell.

Quote of the week

“Americans think of themselves first, second, third, fourth, fifth – and if there’s any time left over they think about Americans” – Brazil’s ex-President, Lula da Silva, interviewed in prison, questions Bolsonaro’s deeply unpatriotic love of America.

 

Phenomenal BogPo Prophesies Corner:

A new poll (28 April, 2019) has shown that a three-quarters majority of the British voting public, half whom voted on 23 June 2016 to Leave the EU, now agree that the referendum was a stupid idea in the first place. But here is what your Uncle Bogler wrote in a Post (“Calling in the receivers”) on 24 FEBRUARY, 2016:

“On the morning after he loses and the receivers take over the business, Mr Cameron will announce the closing-down sale of GB plc – henceforth Britain will be available only on-line.

“Within minutes, all the people who couldn’t previously be bothered just because Europe was always there will start flocking to the Channel Tunnel and Heathrow airport, demanding in broken French to be let out before the iron gates clang shut for the last time and all the remaining unsold stock is shipped out to depotland. Sales of garlic, berets, bicycles, Johnny Halliday records and funny sausage will soar.

“I predict, once we leave the EU we will all become much more European.”

And the fatuous Mr Trump boasts of how he cleverly predicted a Leave vote – on 22 June, 2016. Bollocks to him, frankly.

 

Dude, why are only 59 million people reading my stuff?

If anyone has not yet grasped the scale of Trump’s jawdropping narcissism, the following report from CNN, sourced in part to the Washington Post, and also commented upon on YouTube by the wonderful Mike Malloy, will give you some idea. I have provided a mixed account:

“President Donald Trump met with (i.e. he summoned to the White House) Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey on Tuesday, hours after Trump erroneously accused the social media company of “discriminatory” behavior toward conservative users (i.e. himself). The meeting included (in fact it almost exclusively concerned. Ed.) a discussion (more of a tirade, probably) about the disappointing size of Trump’s (59 million) Twitter following (which, he claims, is being deliberately suppressed for political reasons). (He also complained that President Obama has over 100 million Twitter followers, nearly twice as many as he does and all clearly fake.)

Dorsey had to explain to the Tangerine Wunderkind that if accounts are being blocked or taken down, it is invariably because they are abusive and hateful or threatening and don’t meet the guidelines.

“After the meeting, Trump tweeted a photo and wrote, “Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general.”

The fatuous chump has also revived his insane excuse for being elected president, that Britain’s GCHQ was spying on him on the orders of President Obama, on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Nevertheless, he is forcing himself on us with a State visit; HM Queen offering an irresistibly glitzy photo-op to exuberate his post-Mueller dumbfucks.

Give us a break, Donald.

 

“How vain and incurious does anyone have to be, to accept when someone offers to pay them £350 an hour, just for the use of their name?”

“Miss you, Mr Mercer” – with any luck

From BBC News, 24 April:

“A company that marketed a failed bond scheme that lost savers £236m has been funding an MP’s private salary. Johnny Mercer receives £85,000 from Crucial Academy, a company ultimately funded by Surge Financial Limited … (which) took 25% commission for marketing bonds (issued) by London Capital & Finance (LC&F), which is now in administration. Mr Mercer – who is facing calls from investors to quit as an MP – said he had done nothing wrong.” (Mr Mercer denies that Crucial Academy receives funding from LC&F.)

Is everyone totally blindsided by, say, Brexit, Trump, Greta Thunberg or the difficulty of getting through central London over the supergluey bodies of climate protesters?

Your Boglmeister, I have previously pointed out that London Capital & Finance may well turn out to be the most glaring example of a Ponzi scheme since Bernie Madoff started his several lifetimes feasting on all porridge and no molasses. Sadly, no such fate may befall the directors of LC&F, but we shall see.

With unbelievably crude deviousness, a number of companies appear to have been set up behind the brass plate of Surge Financial Limited, apparently by this Mr Paul Careless, a perfect case of nominative determinism, at the forefront of which was LC&F, which advertised – using a Brighton-based agency called Surge, also owned by Mr Careless, on a quite desirable budget of £60 million, which would buy a few Porsches – unregulated investments returning an improbable 8%, mainly to gullible old pension holders whose stored-up pots of dosh were freed from restrictions by the previous Tory Chancellor, George “Eight jobs” Osborne, prior to his departure in 2016.

The funnel-mouth of London & Capital was then, one gathers from reports, used to suck in investors’ cash to finance all of the directors’ subsidiary companies, money seemingly not Carefully invested in other stocks or mutuals offering competitive terms. It looks like precisely the sort of rapacious operation financial pundits were warning would set up shop in the wake of Osborne’s free-market policy, to separate gullible oldies from their dreams of high-spec campervans and round-the-world cruises.

The breezily named Johnny Mercer MP, a litigiously engaging dimwit (he is suing the BBC for this) not to be confused with the actually rather clever late American songwriter of that ilk, already receives a salary close to £80 thousand a year from the taxpayer, plus £130 thousand Parliamentary expenses, so he must have been in dire need of the extra £85 thousand a year he gets from Surge – sorry, “Crucial Academy”, another company also owned by Careless and chums, that is, he claims, entirely financially independent of LC&F – that does wondrous good works, training Army veterans to survive in the world of employment.

Signed last year to add some small weight to the proceedings, Mercer is either another greedy political chancer or otherwise too naive a useful idiot to be an MP. I suspect it is the latter, judging by his yelping protestations of innocence – which can be understood, given that four directors closer to the center of operations have been questioned by the Serious Fraud Office. It certainly looks like he has been used as a patsy, to front-up what to others might seem a bit of a con.

A related business doing charitable stuff for Our Heroes is possibly the most obvious PR front for internal money-washing it would be possible to imagine – not that Mr Mercer, an ex-Army officer himself, would have noticed, as his role as a non-executive director occupies him for just 20 hours a month, and for what?

How vain and incurious does anyone not much in the public eye have to be, to accept when someone offers to pay them £350 an hour, just for the use of their name and face?

Crucial is only one of several subsidiary companies through which £236 million of investors’ pension funds and life savings seems to have “surged” like hot soapy water through champagne glasses in a dishwasher, and ultimately “Vanish”-ed down the plughole. (You’re fired. Metaphor abuse. Ed.)

What is so peculiar about this whole affair, however, is how the media – such as the BBC, whose reporting has illuminated this Post, and well done at least for bringing the story to light – and even Private Eye’s “Slicker” column is still portraying LC&F as some kind of genuine investment opportunity that has hit a patch of bad luck.

Of course it was a bloody Ponzi scheme! What else?

Wake up, BBC dimwits.

 

AI-up, robots!

In 1976, I sold my one and only ever published work of deliberate fiction, a short story for which I was paid a handsome £100.

You might be too young to remember the world in them days, like what I do, but there was no social media, no iPhones or Androids, no Google or eMail or Sky TV showing 40 channels of adult entertainment.

Not even the ubiquitous, clunky IBM desktop PCs that predated the thinline laptop computer and the incomprehensible phablet by more than three decades were yet much heard or known about outside academic circles.

In 1976, people didn’t go around annoyingly saying “like” or “cool” every other word, Game of Thrones hadn’t been mentioned in a plug even once. We’d been a member of the European Economic Community for less than three years, so our British Leyland cars still rusted to bits within months, no-one holidayed abroad in case of foreign food, and Britain’s bananas were still bent.

Nor was there yet Thatcher; except as the mean-spirited education minister who stopped the children’s free milk ration. (That’s the way to get to be leader of the Tory party.)

My story resulted from a sort of commission from the editor of Computer Age magazine, into whom I had accidentally run outside the dungeon headquarters of the London Broadcasting Company in Gough Square, just behind Fleet Street.

I was a journalist of sorts, working freelance, and Meyer Solomon had been a guest on a show from which he was recovering on the same bench, incidentally, where I also met Anthony Burgess. We got chatting, and I offered him five thousand words fresh hewn from my IBM “golfball” typewriter, without any idea at that stage of what they would be about, and he took my arm off, as they say.

“Hello, Mr Chips” emerged shortly thereafter, from my fertile brain.

The story concerned Kevin, a schoolboy with issues you would nowadays identify as autistic spectrum disorders – issues like ADHD and Asperger’s, that had no catchy names in those days. So incapable of benefiting from the standard socialized education model was Kevin, that he had to be excluded from school, and a special experimental computer program created to teach him.

Kevin becomes deeply upset and troubled, and runs away when it’s proposed that his beloved teaching computer should be replaced by an advanced model. However, returned to his home he is intrigued to find that his new Mark 11 teacher is a fully functioning android programmed with what we now know as Artificial Intelligence, AI, called Mr Chips (see what I did there?*).

And then – spoiler alert – in the final denouement, Kevin’s older sister, who has been eyeing him speculatively for a while, runs off and elopes with Mr Chips.

Which is where the story gets spooky, because 43 years then go by, I’ve spent the hundred quid, and a well-remunerated famous writer who is not me, sadly, Ian McEwan, publishes this week a shortform novel (his are never overlong), “Machines Like Me”, in which – as the Private Eye books reviewer tells me, I haven’t read it – “A couple acquire a synthetic human and a love triangle duly develops”.

On top of my advanced, Nostradamus-like prognostications concerning not only our modern understanding of spectrum disorders like ADHD, and developments in educational computing and dedicated robotics, but also uncannily prefiguring cases like that of the precocious 15-year-old “M.S.” (we’re probably still not allowed to mention her by name), a nubile student and her 30-year-old art teacher paramour, poor Jeremy Forrest, who might just be coming out of jail about now after serving half of a monstrously unjust sentence for kidnapping a minor (infatuated, she persuaded the nitwit to take her to France, where nobody batted an eyelid), the problem of exclusions from schools is also a hot topic today; although I hadn’t foreseen the kind of Tory cuts that would have made it impossible to supply Kevin with a broken abacus, let alone an android.

How cool was that?

I ought, I suppose, to be proud of my astonishing capacity to peer into the future in so many regards. However, even I was beaten to the presumptive threat of AI by Isaac Asimov (IA!), who cottoned on in the late 1950s to the notion that one day, computers would grow so sophisticated as to replace us; and indeed, predicted that a supercomputer would eventually replace God as the machine creator of a new universe, out of all the stored data of the old (thus prefiguring Google by 50 years).

Now, that was one hell of a story!

*For younger readers, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” is a 1939 British romantic drama starring Oscar-winning Robert Donat, based on a 1934 novella by James Hilton. The story concerns Chipping, a much-loved schoolteacher who recalls his career and personal life over the decades. It was voted by BFI members the 72nd best film of all time.

 

GW: Kickin’ up a storm

Mozambique: is being battered for a record second time in a month by a Cat 4 cyclone, Kenneth, with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph and a 4m storm surge. Latest, 28 April: Pemba, regional capital of Cabo Delgado state, has experienced more than 2m (6.5ft) of rain and flooding. The situation in the  towns of Macomia and Quissanga was critical, and there are also worries for the cut-off island of Ibo. Waves up to 4m high are also expected, and aid agencies fear rains will worsen over the next four days. 700 thousand people are said to be directly at risk.

Late on Wednesday, the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said she feared the region faced “another humanitarian catastrophe” following Cyclone Idai, which killed up to 1000 last month and left 2m in need of aid. There is no previous record of hurricane-force systems ever hitting the region so far north before, BBC Weather reports – let alone twice at Cat 2 or more in one season. Having already killed 3 people in the Comoros islands, the slow-moving storm is expected to bring 0.8m of rain to some areas of the country. (BBC News)

Uganda: “A storm that brought hail, strong winds and heavy rain to parts of eastern Uganda on 23 April has left at least 18 people dead and displaced around 900, according to local media. The storm hit during the early hours causing flooding in Buyende and Kamuli districts. As many as 140 people were injured, and houses and livestock severely damaged.” (Floodlist)

British Isles: are being battered currently by Storm Hannah, with 85 mph wind gusts, power cuts, big waves, heavy rain and fallen trees causing travel disruption. Yellow flood warnings out across the west of the UK. It’s quite late in the Atlantic storm season and some trees here have been stripped of their soft spring growth, their blossom, with fallen branches everywhere. (BBC)

Italy: Severe weather, including stormy seas and strong winds, affected parts of Italy from around 22 to 24 April. Heavy rain increased river levels in parts of Tuscany and Liguria. As of 24 April, at least 1 person had died and rescue workers were searching for 2 women swept away by the flooding Letimbro River in Santuario. Earlier, media reported that 1 person died in high waves along the coast of Porto Corallo on the island of Sardinia. (Floodlist) A low pressure ridge is bringing torrential rainfall, heavy hail and strong winds from the Balkans northeast as far as Russia. (Severe-weather.eu)

USA: Yet more “Severe thunderstorms hit northern and central Texas from 23 April, bringing strong winds, hail, heavy rain and flash floods. A warehouse near Bryan was destroyed. Dallas Love Field recorded 91 mm (3.6 in.) of rain in 24 hours. 3 people died when a vehicle was swept off a road by flood water in Erath County early on 24 April.” 1 person survived by clinging to a tree. More severe storms are forecast for the weekend. (Floodlist) After a warmer than average week, snow is returning to portions of the northern Midwestern states, with heavy rain and more flooding expected across the Great Plains. (The Weather Channel)

Canada: Around 8 thousand people have been forced to leave their homes in communiies near Montreal as flooding caused dikes to collapse. Communities in Quebec are on evacuation alert and the army has been called out as flooding emergencies are declared locally. Rising river levels are threatening the collapse of a large dam, Bell Falls, near Ottawa. Peak flow may not be for another two weeks and record levels are expected, thanks to the spring melt of an unusually large snowpack – while further major rainfall events are forecast. (Paul Beckwith) Prof Beckwith also reports on new research showing higher ocean temperatures are leading to stronger winds and rougher seas, bigger waves – so far by about 8% since 1950.

 

Fracking hell

The commissioner will be a contact point for residents, to listen to their concerns, refer them to relevant and factual research and help improve communication with regulators and industry. – YouGov website

Former Labour MP, Natascha Engel was appointed as Britain’s “fracking tsar” six months ago, by the business secretary, Greg Clarke. Today, she has stepped down, complaining that over-regulation is stifling the nascent industry, making her job impossible; and that the government has allowed itself to be bullied by a “tiny minority” of noisy environmental NGOs that have profited at the nation’s expense.

It’s a clear case of what used to be known in diplomatic corps circles as “going native”, the total abandonment of any pretence at independence being considered quite a grave crime in the old colonial days.

Ms Engel’s resignation letter is quoted in today’s Observer. It will astonish anyone even vaguely familiar with the arguments against fracking – “hydraulic fracturing”, to give the practice its proper name:

“A perfectly viable and exciting new industry that could help meet our carbon reduction targets, make us energy secure and provide jobs in parts of the country that really need them is in danger of withering on the vine – not for any technical or safety reasons, but because of a political decision.

“The UK could be on the cusp of an energy revolution the like of which we have not seen since the discovery of North Sea oil and gas.”

Having worked in the PR and promotions business for a few unexciting years, your Old Granny can vouch for the assiduous attention to her clients’ vanity found in Ms Engel’s copywriting efforts; assuming she wrote the letter herself. The fracking tsarina goes on to make further points in favour of this incredibly brutal and polluting method of extracting methane from shale deposits, for instance:

“Engel complained that a traffic light system that halts fracking when a tremor with a magnitude of M0.5 is recorded ‘amounts to a de facto ban'” – claiming that no other country, for instance the United States, sets such a low bar.

Would that a similar rule had been imposed in Colorado, then, where the number of recorded earth tremors in what was not previously known as a particularly active area has gone from three a year to over 800 since Mr Harold Hamm the Fracking King (net worth $14.1 billion) started operations 30 years ago; while their magnitude, their destructive power has steadily increased from below M1.5 to M5 and upwards.

Google supplies the following helpful note: “Beneath Britain the Earth’s crust is crisscrossed with ancient cracks, or fault lines, which are constantly under stress. … Tremors are not uncommon in Britain. Each year, the British Geological Survey (BGS) records between 200 to 300 separate events.” Indeed, a M4.2 was recorded in the Channel last year, and a Big One is not entirely unanticipated at some stage. The crude splitting of shale deposits under enormous pressure has already produced a number of significant earth tremors, which Ms Engel dismisses as “no more than the rumbling of a tube train” (I paraphrase).

Engel too is blithe to the evidence of rising methane emissions directly from fracking operations, methane being a greenhouse gas up to 100 times more infra-red absorbent than CO2, to which it slowly decays – and to the scientific fact that when you boil your breakfast egg, burning natural gas gives off CO2 and water vapour: both greenhouse gases.

She appears to be willing to ignore research conducted by her former party that sugggests fracking operations of the size envisaged in Britain would eventually produce an additional CO2 burden equivalent to another 289 million cars, instead suggesting that extracting and burning more fossil fuel will somehow enable us to meet our emissions targets sooner – a trope frequently employed by climate change deniers being that the CO2 produced from natural gas – methane – is somehow cleaner and better for us than that emitted from burning oil and coal.

Evidence also from the USA of grossly polluted and overextracted groundwater basins damaging agriculture and residential communities, of pipeline leaks and of methane gas seeping under pressure into domestic plumbing systems seems somewhat at odds with Engel’s wild claims for fracking’s positive impacts on local communities – evidence that is as yet nowhere to be found in the UK as fracking has had only limited success to date, operations being frequently halted as the M0.5 tremor limit has so frequently been exceeded.

Nor is her rosy vision of local communities welcoming the investment remotely in accordance with the facts.

What on earth is this silly woman up to? Has she not noticed that environmental protest is the flavour of the month?

Here again is the old “job creation” argument: fracking is good for jobs. (We already have record low unemployment, but carry on…)

The plain fact is, your Granny observes, that these capital-intensive engineering projects tend to rely on imported, specialized labour forces until they are up and running, whereafter they operate semi-autonomously on a routine service and maintenance basis, until they are abandoned and ultimately, one hopes, decommissioned. They do not create significant numbers of permanent jobs for local people in the deprived rural areas Engel refers to, from where the younger, employable pool of labour have mostly emigrated to the cities in any case.

By extension, her belief in the job creation possibilities of fracking produces a”£7 billion a year” economic advantage to the Treasury, money we could be spending on hospitals… er, ring any bells? The prospect seems doubtful, however, as much of the revenue will certainly be eaten up in tax rebates and loopholes, concessions enabling Cuadrilla to maximise its profitability through the early years. The £7 bn she claims we are losing could equally well be invested in non-polluting renewables, that will also produce a return for the Chancellor to spend on pothole repairs.

Your Granny notices too, several more inconsistencies in her lengthy missive. Engel boasts that Britain has the best regulated fracking industry in the world. Except that, she complains, regulation is preventing the industry from progressing and so she would like to see less! The process, she claims, is “materially no different” from other methods of hydrocarbon extraction. Then she goes on to try to explain why it is in fact very different, an entirely “new industry”, and much better for us… Make up your mind, deary.

It would be churlish, and probably libellous, to suggest that this woman’s future career prospects might be materially enhanced by her willingness to say these things that no self-respecting, right-minded ex-Labour MP ought to be saying, as they are at best highly controversial and on a bad day, according to independent experts, blatant industry propaganda. From what she writes, she appears to be arguing in favour of doing the maximum possible damage, both to the environment and to the fissiparous geology of the British Isles, merely for the short-term gain of a business whose interests she was supposed to be balancing against those of local communities; not that she was supposed to be blatantly promoting them.

That she has gone is a hopeful sign. That her departure might have some negative impact in a week when her old party boss, Mr Corbyn is hoping Parliament will declare a national climate emergency, is possibly not.

(Original reporting, Observer and various news media, 28 April)

The Pumpkin – Issue 82: STOP PRESS: Trump wins Augusta Masters golf!…Please don’t make me vomit, Ms McDaniel… Lock ’em up – again… The Great Mystery… GW: Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day. Essay: To hell with the Illuminati, it’s the Bannonites.

Quote of the Week

“Brexit does seem to me a national tragedy… the great lie of the Brexiters, their magic dust, was to persuade 37% of the electorate that the EU, not the UK, was in charge of immigration, and they succeeded.” – Novelist, Ian McEwen.

 

 

STOP PRESS: Trump wins Augusta Masters golf!

The President’s record score of 29 at the virtual Augusta course on the new video golf simulator in the White House, Sunday puts him one stroke ahead of Tiger Woods over the back 9 holes for the Masters’, according to WH spokesmouth, Lyin’ Sarah Sanders.

“Had he been in Georgia, the President clearly would of finished 14 strokes under par”, said Sanders, “overall beating Woods’ 2-under par 70 for the 4th round and 275 for the championship by one stroke. Besides, they shoulda never let a black man on the course.

“The President’s name will go on the Roll of Honor as winning his 19th and most prestigeous professional title yet.”

A tailor has been despatched to Augusta to let out the winner’s green jacket.

 

Please don’t make me vomit, Ms McDaniel

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee and a Romney by birth, described the congresswoman as “anti-American”.

 

(The following two articles have been moved from this week’s BogPo for reasons of space and tendentiousness.)

Lock ’em up – again

In the shining citadel across the water, a newly fired-up Trump, “exonerated” of the Russia thing (Senate leader McConnell still refuses to allow the Mueller report to go before Congress, so we only have the word of Trump appointee, the increasingly uncomfortable-looking Attorney-General William Barr) has embarked on another round of bloodletting, firing in quick succession his Homeland Security director, one of her deputies and the head of the Secret Service; several other Homeland Security people are also believed to be on the way out.

Advised on the matter by the darkly-brooding racist, Stephen Miller, 33 – a self-styled Svengali figure, Bannon protégé and miraculously one of the few survivors of the original administration – Trump says he does not regard the officials as being tough enough on immigration, which is now his single-issue cause for the 2020 election. Mr Miller will henceforth be in charge of the ethnic cleansing strategy.

There’s growing concern that more than 20 cabinet and senior admin posts including Trump’s Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary, are now occupied by, essentially, ‘temps’ – acting officers under no Congressional oversight, reporting directly to Trump, who holds their places in his gift. Whole government departments including State have been hollowed out, concentrating enormous power in the hands of the President, his closest henchmen and his family (even their positions are not assured).

Did I just find myself writing that? “The President and his family”? What, is this Khazakhstan?

Outgoing DoHS Director, Kirstjen Nielsen – a deeply unpopular figure in the country owing to her department’s policy of concentrating migrant children as young as 18 months in cages, a policy she may soon be asked back to Congress to explain why she lied to them about it – has been quoted as saying, Trump is “increasingly unhinged”.

After his visit with Nielsen to El Paso late last week, Border security officials had to order their staff NOT to follow Trump’s direct instructions to them to turn away anyone applying for legal asylum, and to resume separating children from their families, as both are against the law.

He has since denied instructing them to do any such things, which is plainly another lie. As was his statement to the press that the policy of separating migrant children from their families was instituted under the Obama administration and he was the one who stopped it. Another two whoppers there, it is still continuing. (And people are still prepared to vote for this grotesque, lying old monster to take another turn in the White House? They’re as sick as he is.)

Nielsen confirmed, the President had on a number of occasions called her in the night to order her illegally to defy the courts on immigration policy and even international law.

But then, as we recall, in January, 2017 the newly elected Trump told his friend Chris Christie with regard to a transition budget he thought should be his personally and not the State’s, “I don’t give a fuck about the law, I want my fucking money!” And has since set about bending and stacking and badtweeting the court system he finds such an embarrassment to his financial ambitions – until he needs it to sue somebody.

A malignant, tinpot dictator; and a genuinely mad one too.

It’s really not looking good for any of us, is it.

 

Factoid Corner:

More than 30 million Americans cannot read, write or do basic math to 3rd-grade level. The USA rates 125th out of 187 countries on educational attainment.

 

The Great Mystery

…is, of course, that Mr Trump is not behind bars.

Look, how does he get away from the fact that it is clearly against the law to order another person to commit a crime? That is the definition of conspiracy – criminality by association.

Here is an outgoing senior administrator, nevertheless a subordinate, telling everyone that her boss, the President of the United States, ordered her, more than once, to break the law; which she appears to have done.

But the defense is, well, how come Nielsen is only saying that, now she’s been fired? (Although we’re telling everyone she resigned….) (Stephen Colbert had a neat gag – “She’s resigning to spend more time breaking up her family”!)

And just weeks ago the convicted felon, Michael Cohen gave testimony to Congress under oath that the President of the United States, his former employer for 10 years in a private capacity, had ordered him to break the law on “maybe, at least” 500 occasions.

The defense was: “He’s a convicted felon, what do you expect?” Although they know perfectly well he can’t get any further mitigation by testifying, now he’s been sentenced.) And the likelihood is, evidence of those multiple occasions, both written and taped, would have been seized by the FBI in raids on premises connected with Cohen. Evidence!

We know from court testimony that Trump misdirected Cohen and probably Broidy too, to misuse over $2 million of campaign funds to pay off inconvenient mistresses; one of whom may not have put him in good with the Pro-Lifers in his base. Why does he remain an “unindicted co-conspirator” in that regard, why has he not been charged?

We believe too that those funds included illegal foreign donations, that are now being linked possibly to a huge criminal case in Malaysia. No satisfactory account has been produced, of moneys apparently left unspent from his supersized inauguration fund, that were still being received long after the inauguration. Nothing more is heard of the special fund Cohen says he ran to sell access to the Oval Office, again with foreign money.

And there were the artificially inflated assets he is said to have declared, to fraudulently obtain $2 billion in loans from Deutsche Bank; and the junk bonds he defaulted on, to build the failed Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City; and the personal legal expenses he covered with money from his tax-exempt charity Foundation….

All water under the bridge, move on!

The list goes on and on and on, dating back far beyond any statute of limitations; and yet nothing is ever done about him; although tax journalist, David Cay Johnson says he was quietly fined twice for tax fraud back in the 1990s. His placeman, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is technically in charge of the Internal Revenue Service, thus Congress is unable to have sight of his tax returns, while the subpoenas of the lower House apparently have no force in law to make him produce them. Is he possibly hiding something?

What was the Constitution for? The Founding Fathers could have used the time more productively beating their slaves.

Now we have the farce of Mueller. I imagine his damned 400-page report is on a thumb drive in a bank vault for his protection, but taxpayers were sold a $24 million bill of goods on the irreproachable integrity of the granite-jawed ex-Marine who now refuses to speak out in defense of his own unpublished investigation as it is slowly and comprehensively being excised – its unwanted “facts” – Evidence! – trashed and buried by the Justice Department and Trump’s corrupt enablers in the Senate.

What in God’s name is there in the US Constitution that prevents anyone in authority from simply arresting this criminal person and bringing charges of conspiracy to cause others – his accountants, e.g., – to commit Federal crimes? They even managed to get Al Capone in the end, and when it came to financial crime he – well, he found it easier to sell bootleg liquor and organize the odd massacre, but they couldn’t prove that.

The evidence against Trump is overwhelming, yet the bar is set so high the relevant authorities seem mesmerised and in fear of looking foolish. It seems that it is always evidence “of the wrong kind” – non-proceedable. No smoking guns, just smoke. If this were anybody else, he would be behind bars now. Instead, crouched behind a barricade of lawyers and more lawyers, he is consolidating absolute power into his own tiny hands.

Why – how – does he get away with it, time and again?

I have speculated before that he must enjoy special protection. Ultimately, every case against him has to be made go away lest it reveals some uncomfortable truth that is never spoken about.

Is – or was – he possibly ever a mafia informant?

No, ridiculous. He’s just living proof of how a bullshitter can succeed in a country that lives and dies by bullshit.

 

Factoid Corner

Over 1200 cases of Ebola have been reported in Congo (DRC), with over 750 deaths and mounting. Authorities and NGOs are struggling to contain a major outbreak.

25% of Congolese surveyed still say they don’t believe Ebola exists.

 

GW: Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day

Colombia: “…since the start of the rainy season, 1 April,  the National Crisis Room has recorded 57 severe weather events, including damage caused by torrential rain and thunderstorms, as well as 24 landslides and 19 floods. 10 people are known to have died.” (Floodlist)

China: “Heavy rain from late on 11 April caused severe flooding in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen (and other areas of Guangdong Province). China’s National Meteorological Center reported that 118.8mm of rain fell in Wuchuan in 24 hours to 12 April.” Xinhua news agency says that at least 7 people have died and 4 are still missing. (Floodlist)

USA: “Powerful storms swept across the southern US on Sunday, after unleashing suspected tornadoes and flooding that killed at least 8 people, including three children, injured dozens and flattened much of a Texas town. Close to 100 homes were destroyed. Nearly 90,000 customers were without power in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Georgia as of midday Sunday.” More storms were forecast moving through during the week. (Guardian/Weather Channel)

Previously: “Winter Storm Wesley continued to wreak havoc on Minnesota and the Dakotas Friday morning (12 April), closing schools and government offices, knocking out power to tens of thousands. 3 people are believed to have died. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz declared a state of emergency Thursday night in 64 counties and three tribal nations to deal with the heavy snow and flooding that continues in the state. He also authorized the state’s National Guard to provide emergency aid.” (The Weather Channel)

In an extraordinary time-lapse sequence, the shoreline of Lake Superior is seen freezing over in a matter of hours as a result of being “spray-frozen” by a strong easterly wind.

Up to 14% of the labor force in midwestern states are reported to have relocated to other parts of the country, especially the cities, since vast tracts of land became flooded over the winter and there’s seemingly no end to the chain of storms bringing late winter snow and heavy rain across the region. It’s not known if these internal “climate refugees” intend to resettle permanently, but the effect on agricultural output is likely to be significant. (Floodlist, citing LinkedIn and other sources)

Ghana: 7 people have died as the capital, Accra, floods again following three hours of torrential rain. Inadequate drainage is being blamed for the flooding, the second such incident this month.

United Arab Emirates: Emergency services rescued more than 700 people from flash flooding in a northern district on 13 April. Hundreds of cars were washed away.  “Wadi Shiha in the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah received record high rainfall of 247.4 mm.” (Floodlist)

Nicaragua: not a single leatherback turtle made it to the annual egg-laying on the beach at Chacocente this year. Part of the problem is, warming oceans are contributing to a growing imbalance in the sex of the turtles, with many more females hatching than males. The other part of the problem is poaching: Nicaraguan men apparently think eating turtle eggs makes them sexier. Like the planet needs more dismal cretins.

UK: A taste of things to come, the Glasgow Herald reports, around 450 thousand sheep and newborn lambs in Scotland may have died in the “Beast from the East” cold weather anomaly in March of 2018, resulting in compensation payments of over £100 million. Many more sheep and cattle were then slaughtered due to lack of forage available during the subsequent six-weeks drought and record temperatures, as the grass failed to grow.

“An independent report for the World Wildlife Fund in Scotland found farmers had lost £161 million in 2018. That amounted to six per cent of total farm output.” Vegetable prices, too, increased dramatically over the year. “Farm-gate wholesale prices, said the WWF report, were up 80% for carrots, 41% for onions and 61% for lettuce between March and July of last year.” The picture was no better in England.

The Easter weekend is expected in many places to be around 9C above the average high for the time of year.

  • Insurers Aon report, global flooding events in March alone have led to $8 billion in insured losses.

 

Plagiarism Corner

To hell with the Illuminati, it’s the Bannonites

I am now going to break the solemn oath of journalists the world over and reproduce here part of an article published on Open Democracy, 14 April at a length that would normally be considered excessive for the purposes of review and illustration.

Why? Because it mentions a number of malefactors I have previously written about in other Posts, who are linked (in my mind at least) with a millionaire British ultranationalist “disruptor” called Jim Dowson, who never seems to feature anywhere in the investigations into who funded the unofficial Leave.EU campaign, although he boasted about it, and I want to show you that I am not some paranoid Remainer fantasist!

It also introduces a new “disruptor” in the person of Benjamin Harnwell. Both men are virulent alt-right Christians: anti-LGBTQ, anti-Islam, anti-abortion, anti-EU, who – by far cleverer journalists than me – it’s claimed are funded by dark money sources linked to the Kremlin, via the Russian Orthodox Church.

You should refer to the full article in Democracy Now, but I suspect you have an urgent appointment, so the following extract will have to do.

To give it full accreditation, and my apologies (I have sent OD a little more guilt money and helpfully corrected a number of typos), it is an article entitled:

How Pope Francis became a hate figure for the far right

by: Leigh Baldwin, Marcus Leroux, Claudia Torrisi and Stefano Vergine

“Steve Bannon apparently doesn’t choose small targets”, said John Carr, a former policy chief at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. “He helped make Trump President and now he wants to undermine the leadership (of) Pope Francis”.

(I have written before about Bannon’s relationship with the extremist US Cardinal Burke – a fancy dresser who, according to the article, is behind a kind of ‘birther’ movement supporting the retired Pope Benedict against the current incumbent* – and how their associate Joseph E Schmitz, a self-proclaimed “Knight of Malta” driven by fear and loathing of Islam, penetrated both the Pentagon and later the White House.)

The DHI institute in Italy, of which Bannon is a patron, was founded by a British former Conservative party member called Benjamin Harnwell who converted to Catholicism in 2004 and was chief of staff for a British MEP, Nirj Deva, in Brussels until late 2010.

(Dowson had been a Presbyterian minister.)

Harnwell was introduced to Bannon by another American and former Breitbart contributor Austin Ruse, who runs a Catholic conservative lobby group called C-Fam that has been described as an anti-LGBT ‘hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

C-Fam has disputed this description, calling it a “false moniker (that) has been wielded by those who oppose the natural family and marriage”. (With the natural family defined as a man, woman and their children and marriage as between opposite-sex couples only).

Also on DHI’s board of trustees, “Austin is one of these people who has taken the pro-life cause and connected to a much larger agenda of conservative politics and power”, said Carr.

The Institute’s chairman, meanwhile, is Luca Volonte, an Italian politician and anti-abortion campaigner who is currently on trial in Milan facing corruption charges.

Leaked accounts from Volonte’s charitable trust, seen by SourceMaterial, show the influx of more than a million euros from companies that were identified as part of a “laundromat” used to pump illicit cash into Europe from Azerbaijan and Russia.

Bank statements for his Novae Terrae foundation from 2014 to 2017 show that among the first beneficiaries of this influx of funds was Harnwell, who received €12,000 in 2014.

Others included Edward Pentin, a DHI communications consultant who received €1,000 that year. He told SourceMaterial this payment was for help arranging a DHI conference in 2014.

Along with a business associate of Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin, both Ruse and Volonte are directors of the International Organization for the Family (IOF) that runs the World Congress of Families (WCF) network of ultra-conservatives.

(I have written before about Malofeev, a minor oligarch who channels money for the Orthodox Church and is a disciple of Aleksandr Dugin, said at times to be Putin’s spiritual advisor and a latter-day Rasputin.)

Others in DHI’s colourful cast include a “priest to the stars”; a chairman of the hard-right Bow Group think-tank whose flight to a WCF event in Moscow was paid by a Putin-linked oligarch; and a one-time lobbyist for Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

Source: http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/how-pope-francis-became-hate-figure-far-right/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=1fa6ba4e22-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-1fa6ba4e22-408090269

* See also LA Times: Is Pope Francis being upstaged by his opinionated predecessor? (14 April) http://www.latimes.com/opinion/enterthefray/la-ol-francis-benedict-20190412-story.html

Leigh Baldwin and Marcus Leroux are investigative journalists with Source Material. Claudia Torrisi is a reporter for openDemocracy’s gender and sexuality section, 50.50 and its Tracking the Backlash special investigation. Stefano Vergine is an Italian freelance journalist who co-authored a book on Italy’s Lega party.

Assange: a conundrum emerges… Meanwhile in Moscow… In Sod we Trust… GW: And Bolsonaro to you too.

Quote of the Week:

“I blame the charlatans who peddled the falsehoods that [Brexit] would be easy. I wouldn’t trust them to run my bath, let alone the country.” – Former Commons speaker, Lady Boothroyd.

 

“Armed with a laptop, Assange represented a threat to Trump’s claim that Mueller exonerated him.”

Assange: a conundrum emerges

So, after seven years skulking in the basement of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange, the Great White Worm, has finally been dragged from his lair, looking – it must be said – more like a defrocked Santa Claus; the hospitality of his adopted country ultimately exhausted.

I have never liked anything I have ever seen or read about the man. Like “Tommy Robinson”, Assange, a self-promoting narcissist who was originally wanted in Sweden on suspicion of sexual assault, has made an art form out of turning the legitimate interest of the authorities into a political cause of whining self-martyrdom to please his elderly teenage fanbase.

No-one forced him to go into self-imposed exile, and he’d probably have got off the rape charge, which looked pretty flimsy from here as the woman had twice that night already given consent, or maybe served six months at most in an agreeable Swedish facility.

He has gained many followers who like to flirt with anarchy, but he is not a saint. He is not an avatar for our times, a beacon of free speech in a world dark with surveillance and repression. He is a simple fugitive from justice, who has collaborated with nasty people who wish to impose their own, probably worse forms of repression on us.

People are saying that from being bailed on a Swedish warrant under virtual house arrest with an ankle-tag, to the years of holding court to populist politicians while exiled in the embassy, charged with breaching his bail conditions, he has suffered enough. Suffered enough self-induced misery, which he alleviated by spying on his hosts, trysts with Pamela Anderson and plotting with a hostile state.

To pretend, as his witless American supporters do, that the British authorities were keeping him trapped there to ensure his silence is just absurd. His voluntary self-exile gave him as big a platform as he could have wanted; although, since the arrival of a new rightwing President in Ecuador, his internet access has been restricted.

While some of the things his group of hackers, WikiLeaks, has done have been valuable in exposing serious abuses of State surveillance and US military power, celebrating the exciting naughtiness of publishing highly classified files, it has been the whistleblowers who have suffered harsh reprisals, exile and imprisonment, not Robin Hood Assange and his Merry Men.

It’s not a game.

Let’s remind ourselves, in addition to the alleged offences, which he denies, he (allegedly) colluded with Russian military security in the hacking and release of tens of thousands of confidential files stolen from the Democratic National Committee, with the effect of helping Trump and the Republicans to game the 2016 election. Many Russians have been indicted in absentio for it.

Did he think he was buying a ticket to freedom by helping Trump? Well, that didn’t work out too well: the big fat liar, Trump, who is said to have mentioned WikiLeaks approvingly on more than 140 occasions during his election campaign, even declaring his “love” for them, is now denying he had ever heard of them, anyway not much.

And that leads us to the most intriguing aspect of the story. The timing.

It’s Trump’s personally appointed Attorney-General, Barr, the legal sock-puppet for hire,  doing his worst to stall and redact and cover-up the damning evidence that is almost certainly in the Mueller report of the GRU’s activities on behalf of Candidate Trump, who will preside over Assange’s extradition. The only point at issue has been, to what extent was Trump criminally aware of those activities?

And is he terrified that WikiLeaks could have gotten hold of a copy of Mueller, or might be able to obtain one, to add to the weight of evidence against Trump – evidence that is so far not quite conclusive enough to bring charges? With a bowdlerized version of the report due for release any minute, might that explain the timing of the arrest?

The US extradition request lists only a charge of conspiring to hack the US Army files leaked by Bradley, now Chelsea, Manning – who is back in gaol for refusing to testify against Assange to a Grand Jury, silly girl. You owe him nothing. Assange’s alleged criminality extended only to advising her on creating a password for caching the files – his role in publishing them is probably protected by the First Amendment.

And it’s her re-imprisonment last month that may have led to Assange’s arrest, via pressure applied on Ecuador by the State Department, and Britain’s role as desperate wannabe trading partner after Brexit..

Is that minor conspiracy to whistleblow in a public-interest matter really sufficient grounds to go to all these lengths to grab him? And why now, after all this time? Is it really just that the Ecuadorian embassy staff were fed up with his cat crapping everywhere?

Yet Trump is on public record – video – as boasting of how much he loves Wikileaks for exposing the Podesta/DNC emails that he says – the FBI disagrees – prove his opponent was a criminal security risk. Thus he sets up a potentially self-incriminating defense case that is at odds with the alleged breach of national security and the minor offence of aiding and abetting.

Armed with a laptop, Assange at large represents a threat to Trump’s claim that Mueller has exonerated him.

Assange could possibly turn evidence connecting to Trump against Roger Stone, George Papadopoulos and other members of the Trump election campaign team – Nigel Farage too – who are believed to have directly “colluded” with him in London, and thence with the GRU team in St Petersburg in their efforts to produce “dirt” on Clinton.

If Barr tries to suppress or redact passages of Mueller that directly refer to Stone’s meetings in London with Assange, Assange can stand up in open court and give that testimony himself, much to the embarrassment of the Trump camp.

There is no conflict of interest, however. Trump is perfectly capable of holding to whichever of two contrary positions will benefit him more. Right now, incarcerating Assange in a federal penitentiary for 5 years (assuming the Americans don’t cheat and file more charges once he is in custody) or even holding him incommunicado in a military facility is probably the better option to get himself re-elected. Evidence can be suppressed on security grounds, hearings held behind closed doors.

Assange has no guaranteed stay-out-of-gaol card.

Ironically, it was the Kremlin-sponsored RT TV – its Ruptly news subsidiary – that seems to have had several days’ advance warning of the raid on the embassy, and which was the only agency present on the doorstep to get the scoop when burly policemen dragged a curiously elderly looking and white-bearded Assange out, blinking and protesting loudly in the unaccustomed London sunlight.

Russians. You sometimes wonder how that happens.

 

Meanwhile in Moscow… Last month a flurry of speculation surrounded a Kremlin-imposed temporary switchoff in Russia of the entire internet, said to have been a trial run of technology introduced to ringfence the country’s vital communications in the event of a concerted cyber attack.

Just now, the Duma has voted by a Putin-sized majority to permanently introduce the “Chinese ringfence” as it’s been dubbed, from 1 November – entirely concidentally, the next date by which Theresa May or her successor has to have wrapped up Britain’s departure from the EU, or hopefully opted back in; not that we’ll ever recover face after this fiasco.

While the Kremlin is arguing that it’s a much needed defensive measure – clearly, they don’t like it up ’em, to quote Corporal Jones – opposition politicians and critics are pointing out that it’s potentially the ultimate form of censorship. Not just shutting down Facebook, but switching off the whole darn’ thing.

Now, wouldn’t that be blissykins?

 

In Sod we Trust

The sheer incompetence of this Tory maladministration is what ought to doom them to decades in the political wilderness.

If it doesn’t, then perhaps the inability of ministers to put any of their egregious clusterfucks right with a sincere apology and an appropriate action certainly has to.

Having ruined the lives of thousands of legal migrant workers from the Caribbean and their families, many of them here since the 1940s, by misunderstanding their immigration status and issuing deportation letters or worse, effectively cutting them off from vital services, interning people and even having to bring them back from wherever they’d wrongly been deported to, the not-fit-for-purpose Home Office has had to agree to pay a minimum £200 million in compensation.

As if that were not enough, in the process of organizing who gets what, the email addresses and details of 500 claimants have somehow accidentally been released into the public domain. The Guardian writes:

“In a written ministerial statement, (Immigration Minister Caroline) Nokes said: “Regrettably, in promoting the scheme via email to interested parties, an administrative error was made, which has meant data protection requirements have not been met, for which the Home Office apologises unreservedly.”

So on top of the £200 million compensation – it will probably be more than twice that as the scheme is being extended to long-settled migrants from other parts of the world, including the EU, whose lives have also been messed up over the same paperwork, or lack of it – more “administrative error” – the Home Office is going to have to stump up a large fine to the Data Protection Registrar.

Money, as Mrs May tartly observed, does not grow on trees.

No, it comes out of our pockets.

As did the £33 million the Department for Transport is having to fork out in compensation to P&O Ferries for omitting to tell them they were asking relevant companies to tender for an increased supply of ferry services to and from France in the event of a No-Deal Brexit.

And the £14 million they have had to pay to get out of their contract with the famous ferry company they hired, the one with no ferries.

And the rest of the £4 billion contingency planning funds needed because of the Exit Brexit department’s futile two-year-long foot-dragging exercise, that could have gone to the NHS, or to Social Services, or to the Police, or to Education, or to mitigating local authority cuts… and the £39 billion St. Theresa’s martyrdom “Deal” has left us exposed to, in outstanding debts to the EU – in addition to whatever it has cost us to stay in the EU all this time while our dearly bought power and influence in Europe have drained away…

And the additional £1.5 billion in the Northern Ireland funding budget, that went to buy the votes of just 10 boneheaded, bowler-hatted Ulster Unionist MPs to try to shore up the disaster of Mrs May’s and Lynton Crosby’s 2017 hung election. MPs – the DUP – who have since been consistently refusing to vote for the government on Mrs May’s Brexit deal.

All public money, wasted.

Another 200,000 children fell below the absolute poverty line last year. Twice that number are expected to join them this year. Homelessness is increasing. Schools are having to fund clothing and food banks for their pupils and beg parents for money to buy books, paper and pens – and even teachers.

The NHS is short 45 thousand GPs and the medical establishment has warned that the service can never catch up the numbers now, at the current rate of training and overseas recruitment – it’s too late. And thanks to the abolition of bursaries for undergraduate trainees, another “austerity” measure, over 100 thousand more nurses are needed, a figure the Health Secretary disputes.

And now, after spending £1.5 billion on panic No Deal measures, including the recruitment of thousands of additional, temporary contract Civil Servants to put the country on a war footing, the Government has backed off and fired them all again.

What the hell is going on?

This is the Tory party that, come election time, will be telling us again all about their invincible reputation for fiscal responsibility and how the Opposition Labour Party bankrupted the country.

Twelve years ago. (And they didn’t. Bankers bankrupted the country. Please remember that!) Through sheer ineptitude, care-lessness, as their support base dwindles the arrogant Tories have cost the country a fortune.

And we’ve had enough. We’re mad as hell. Polly Toynbee writes:

“Once, the pied pipers of Brexit played tunes of hope and optimism with fantasies of buccaneering freedom, but none of that is left; not in Westminster or anywhere else. The fairy dust blew away, and now all that’s left is the dark, backward-looking nativism that underpinned it.”

A nativism that is finding expression in Nigel Farage’s new “Brexit”, the party of All the Deplorables.

 

Factoid corner

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, is paid $1 a year.

 

GW: And Bolsonaro to you too

Brazil: “At least 10 people have been killed by flash floods and landslides in Rio de Janeiro after a storm brought strong winds and massive amounts of rain. The city declared a state of crisis late on Monday, 08 April. Flash flooding turned some streets into raging rivers, downed trees and swept away cars. Roadblocks remain in various parts of the city, due to flooding and falling trees. Traffic and public transport have been severely affected. Thousands were left without electricity after power lines were damaged.” (Floodlist) And at least 3 more people have drowned in floods that hit the northeast of the country.

Ghana: “Heavy rain over the last few days has caused flooding and destruction in parts of Ghana, including the capital Accra” – where 5 deaths were confirmed after flash flooding late on Sunday 07 April. Heavy pre-monsoonal rain also affected other areas of the country, floods displacing hundreds and destroying homes. (From Floodlist) This, while the UN is again warning of increasingly severe drought conditions affecting food supplies in the northeast and Horn of Africa regions.

USA: Look, something is definitely wrong. Yet another winter storm is dumping a foot of snow over the northern midwestern states. “Blizzard warnings have been issued for parts of six states as Winter Storm Wesley takes aim at those regions with heavy snow and high winds, contributing to dangerous travel conditions and shutting down highways. Wesley could flirt with all-time April low-pressure records in parts of the Plains”, according to The Weather Channel. Severe thunderstorms are also predicted ahead of the snowline. “Thundersnow was reported early Wednesday in parts of South Dakota.” How many is that this winter? It seems never-ending. Almost a new ice-age….

Iran: “The north-east province of Golestan received 70% of its average annual rainfall within one day, but the worst effects have since been felt in the south-west where further rain is due to arrive.” Tens of thousands of residents of the southwestern city of Ahvaz were ordered to evacuate as floodwater lapped the suburbs. “Dams are presently at 95% capacity, renewing fears of flooding. Snowmelt from the mountain regions has also contributed to rapidly rising water levels.” (Guardian World Weatherwatch/Middle East Eye).

India: Sweltering heat has gripped parts of India in the past week, with temperatures regularly exceeding 40C (104F) in the north-west and central states, though the heat has also shifted northward in recent days. High temperatures combined with moisture and instability owing to the nearby “western disturbance” also triggered thunderstorms and dust storms across Jammu and Kashmir (Guardian World Weatherwatch).

Meanwhile on the hurricanes/cyclones/typhoons front, nada. Niente. Nothing. It’s all gone deathly quiet out there. And a lovely sunny day here in Boglington, bit of a cool sea breeze but I’ve got 18.4C in the front garden.

Oh, and it’s been snowing in Spain.

Yellowstone: Quakes still swarming at the Lake, M5.0 Eq. recorded at Hebgen Lake on the edge of the park, biggest in years (USGS downgraded to M4.4). Quakes crossed the plate, showed up again on the East coast. Spectograms showing magma movement and gas release “not working” again. Steamboat geyser erupts for the 12th time this year (record 32 set in 2018). (Greeley/Ferruaio blogs.)

Quote of the Week… EU: What the ignorant like to hear… In nomine patri, et feel-you-up sancti… GW: gone with the wind… This is where our story ends: Forests, Oceans, Wildlife… A new week’s BogPo slowly forming.

“Budski, can you spare a dime?” Charles visits the global laundromat in search of change for the tumble dryer. (rubenvardanyan.info)

Quote of the Week

Having nothing better to do, I drift in and out of slumber this Monday morning, and awake for the fifth or sixth time since five a.m. with the radio burbling quietly in the background, to find myself semiconsciously immersed in a discussion on Woman’s Hour about a campaign to address the problems of women unable to obtain sanitary products in the Third World.

The guest is the Women’s Minister, Ms Penny Mordaunt – a longtime Leave (the EU) supporter. The presenter is Jayne Garvey. Having exhausted the topic of period management, the conversation divagates thus:

Garvey: “Anyway, there’s only one show in town (sly menstrual pun intended?), and that’s Brexit. Assuming we leave at the end of the month (25 days away, folks) and we leave with an agreement, what will be the benefits for British women?”

Mordaunt: “Well… (hesitation)… I… I… I… (repetition)… I think… (deviation)…. er…” (Sound of sleepy fist clunking furiously on radio off-switch.)

This is absolutely bloody terrifying.

Not one of these dismal molluscs engineering the catastrophe has the slightest idea of what they voted FOR, they only have vastly divergent opinions on what they thought they were voting AGAINST.

Rather than listen to this brain-dead functionary riffling through her unread pile of moldering briefing notes, I set myself to imagining the benefits for British women living in a world of:

  • ever-rising prices and lower standards for food, travel, pharmaceuticals and energy;
  • permanently low wages and increasing inequality;
  • housing, food, medical, educational and job insecurity;
  • reduced womens’, human, consumer, working and maternal rights;
  • savagely reduced child, in-work, carer and disability benefits, social and maternity services;
  • increasingly uncontrolled environmental health and personal security hazards;
  • at the mercy of global corporations and anti-abortion white Christian fundamentalists;
  • ruled by misogynistic, patriarchal gangsters and their licensed abusers: the male race;
  • in an atmosphere of rising violence.

Yes, Brexit makes you free, alright.

Police officers on duty as Theresa May visited Salisbury yesterday.

“The plan, Prime Minister, is to introduce these tiny miniaturized policemen at lower cost…” (EPA)

EU: What the ignorant like to hear

“There are two important realities that I constantly try to hammer home here. One is that it’s not unelected bureaucrats who make the decisions in the European Union. It’s the democratically elected representatives of our member states, and it’s the democratically elected European Parliament, which by the way is about to have direct elections in May. All our decisions are taken with very thorough democratic accountability and review.

“The second thing, and I say this as a European, is that the European Union is not about the death of the nation-state. It’s about allowing the nation-state to better flourish by having a framework of cooperation that delivers better outcomes for our citizens than would be the case if our member states acted separately. My European identity is complementary to my Irish identity — not a substitute to it. I think that’s the strong view of all Europeans.

(David O’Sullivan, EU ambassador to Washington, interviewed in the Washington Post, Tue. 5 Mar. )

Was there no-one in the Remain campaign during 2016 who could have stood up every day for six months and said just those words, loudly in a public space?

Because it seems to me that O’Sullivan here in essence encapsulates and perfectly contradicts every stupid negative argument the Leave side was able to muster, while the rest was just belligerence, Jingoism, deceit and denial – the closing-down of debate.

What the ignorant like to hear, in other words.

 

In nomine patri, et feel-you-up sancti

Have you ever wondered about the people in charge of the spiritual care of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the world?

A spectacular new exposé of – not just the intrinsic homosexuality, but the Chaucerian debauchery of many prelates – the Church in Rome contains such wonders as this, commenting on the testimony of a male sex worker who records his pontifical encounters:

“I was able to consult the ‘dossier’ called Preti gay (‘the gay priesthood’); it reveals dozens of priests celebrating mass in their cassocks and then, stark naked, celebrating other kinds of frolic via webcam. The photographs, alternating homilies and intimate pictures, are quite extraordinary.”

Andrew Sullivan writes in The Intelligencer – a New York Magazine supplemental website – about the almost hysterical reaction of many conservative reviewers to Frédéric Martel’s new book on the hypocrisy and homosexuality in the Vatican, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy.

Among other reviews, he quotes Lifesite News: “His statements regarding Pope Francis are so grave from a doctrinal point of view that they need to be known and, hopefully, officially denied.” While, from The Spectator: “Martel confirms that the Vatican is full of gossipy queens, most of whom stare at waiters’ bottoms and some of whom have sex with young men. But I think we knew that already.”

I suppose it depends on how young?

As Martel informs us, based on a very large number of interviews with Vatican insiders: “many of these cardinals and officials have lively sex lives, operate within a “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture, constantly hit on young men, hire prostitutes, throw chem-sex parties, and even pay for sex with church money.”

Of course, there are dangers in this kind of reporting. In quite a few countries, homosexuality is still a prisonable crime that can be informally punished by death at the hands of semi-official vigilante squads. Taken with the claims of predatory pedophilia against alarming numbers of priests and apparently covered-up for decades (possibly centuries) by the hierarchy, it would not be surprising soon to see a witch-hunt culminating in reprisals and expulsions – even extrajudicial martyrings.

Given the murderous excesses of the Islamic State, the attempted genocide of the Rohingya by Burmese Buddhists, the disruptive Islamophobic interventions funded by the Russian Orthodox Church, the growing revival of tensions between the religious communities in Northern Ireland and the slimy machinations of political Christianity (especially in the USA), religion doesn’t have a very good name at the moment.

Best be rid of it. Grow out of this supra-parental dependence on invisible and improbable entities to control people’s lives through a hypocritical and unelected, patriarchal priestly caste, eh?

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/andrew-sullivan-a-radically-moderate-climate-solution.html

In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, by Frédéric Martel and Shaun Whiteside. Available in hardback from Amazon, price £14.70.

One of Martel’s more lurid revelations, is the life of Pope Benedict’s chief Inquisitor, Cardinal Trujillo, who notoriously waged a war against liberation theology in South America, touring the countries setting death squads onto left-wing priests; and was subsequently employed in Rome to drive gays out of the church and mastermind the Pope’s campaign against condoms, claiming that they caused AIDS. As one Colombian interviewee recorded:

“Trujillo’s specialty was novices: “The most fragile, the youngest, the most vulnerable. But in fact he slept with anybody. He also had lots of prostitutes. … Everyone knew that he was homosexual. He lived with us, here, on the fourth floor of the Palazzo di San Calisto, in a 900-square-metre apartment, and he had several cars! Ferraris! He led a highly unusual life.” And what was Trujillo’s task in Rome? You guessed it: president of the Pontifical Council for the Family!”

 

GW: Gone with the wind

USA: At least 23 people have been killed as a succession of powerful tornadoes struck Lee County in Alabama. County Sheriff Jay Jones said there had been “catastrophic” damage and there were fears more bodies would be found. Dozens are thought to have been hurt. An unconfirmed number of tornadoes with a power estimated to be at least EF-3 – winds of up to 165mph (266km/h) – struck the area around Beauregard, carving a path at least half a mile wide. 2,000 homes are without power and more cold weather is forecast, with temperatures predicted to drop to near freezing (BBC report). The tornado season in the southern states normally starts in April.

Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan: After a severe drought, intense rainfall has caused flash flooding and landslides over the past few days. “According to media reports, as many as 50 people may have died as a result of flooding, landslides or collapsing buildings across the 3 countries. Parts of Kandahar Province in Afghanistan recorded around half the annual rainfall in 30 hours.” Thousands of homes, roads and other infrastructure have been damaged, hundreds of people needed rescuing. Parts of Pakistan have also been affected by severe snowstorms. (Floodlist)

Australia: And the heat goes on… After a four-day spell of searing temperatures brought the hottest-ever recorded start to March, “2 thousand firefighters are battling (more than 19) fires in Victoria, in the far south of Australia. Multiple lightning strikes on Friday started the largest fire in Bunyip State Park, east of Melbourne. High winds pushed two huge brushfires together, creating a “monster” wall of flame. Over 10 thousand Ha. has been burning, with property losses, and several townships have been evacuated. The country’s meteorology bureau said plumes of smoke have risen up to 15km into the atmosphere.” A “few millimeters” of rain is forecast for Wed. 6 Mar., but with further dry lightning and a change of wind direction raising fears of more fires in the meantime.

Temperatures in Tasmania, Australia’s southernmost state, reached 39.1C on Saturday, the hottest in 131 years of records. (BBC Weather/Guardian/Straits Times)

Buy Australian wine now, and woolly jumpers while stocks last…. “Australia’s hottest summer on record is causing several industries to wilt, including the US$4.4 billion wine industry with grape yields set to drop to the lowest in years. Drought has also damaged the winter wheat crop and is expected to drag the wool clip to a record low.” (Straits Times)

Europe: A snow warning has been issued Mon. 4 Mar. as Storm Freya sweeps across the southern UK with wind speeds approaching 80mph. The Met Office has warned that dangerous conditions will continue into Monday morning and there have been reports of flying debris and sailors stranded at sea. Hundreds of homes have been left without electricity and gales have also disrupted trains and closed bridges. 6cm (2.4in) of snow was recorded at a weather station near the border between Cumbria and Northumberland. Severe-weather.eu forecasts severe wind conditions with potential for tornadoes, and intensive rainfall pushing eastwards across northeastern France, Benelux and northern Germany over the next few days.

 

This is where our story ends…

Trees: The EU is failing miserably in its mission to reduce carbon emissions as a result of industrial logging. Brussels “…expects to lose about 125m tonnes of carbon sequestration potential from forests between 2010 and 2030, with countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Austria transforming from carbon sinks to carbon sources.” Poland still hopes to clear swathes of the ancestral (UN-protected) Białowieża Forest to drive a military road to the coast, and other ancient woodlands are also under threat across central and eastern Europe, with potential effects on Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions.

A spokeswoman for the Polish forest protection group Fern, said:“The biggest factor in the destruction [is] incentives given by the EU to burn trees for energy.” Illegal logging is another cause of deforestation. The Romanian NGO Agent Green, said government figures showed that 38m cubic metres of wood were harvested in the country last year – more than twice as much as officially claimed. “Old-growth forests in our national parks are being massively logged,” he said. “It is an environmental catastrophe taking place in front of the EU’s eyes.” (All from Guardian Green Light report)

Uncle Bogler writes: Instead of leaving the EU, Britain needs to stay in and lobby for these former Soviet republics to be heavily sanctioned and even expelled, for these and other crimes their corrupt, pro-Putin gangster regimes are blatantly getting away with. They have no place in a modern Europe faced with environmental and climate catastrophe on a life-threatening scale.

 

Oceans: The number of heatwaves (surges in water temperature lasting more than 5 days) affecting the planet’s oceans has increased sharply, scientists have revealed, killing swathes of sea-life like “wildfires that take out huge areas of forest”. “The damage caused in these hotspots is also harmful for humanity, which relies on the oceans for oxygen, food, storm protection and the removal of climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. … The number of heatwave days jumped by more than 50% in the 30 years to 2016, compared with the period 1925 to 1954. As heatwaves have increased, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs have been lost. These foundation species are critical to life in the ocean.”

“Another study showed that achieving the 2C climate change target set out in the Paris agreement would protect almost 10m tonnes of fish catches each year, worth tens of billions of dollars.” (Guardian Green Light, quoting Marine Biological Association and other recent research papers.)

 

Wildlife: “The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) had long helped fund and equip Chitwan’s forest rangers, who patrol the area in jeeps, boats, and on elephant-back alongside soldiers from the park’s in-house army battalion. Now WWF’s partners in the war against poaching stood accused of torturing a man to death.”

In an extraordinary exposé, at which we find it hard not to scream ‘Fake News’, BuzzFeed News is reporting that the WWF is actively encouraging the murder, torture and beatings of villagers in countries where it supports and operates anti-poaching squads to patrol protected areas in national parks.

The story from Nepal concerns the kidnapping and beating to death of Shikharam Chaudhary, a farmer suspected of concealing an illicitly obtained rhino horn (none was found). It goes on to detail how the WWF actively lobbied to shut down the investigation into the murder and issued a triumphal statement hailing a victory for wildlife when the case against the three suspect rangers and the park manager was dropped.

“In national parks across Asia and Africa, the beloved nonprofit with the cuddly panda logo funds, equips, and works directly with paramilitary forces that have been accused of beating, torturing, sexually assaulting, and murdering scores of people.”(Buzzfeed News)

WWF is one of those global NGOs that makes waves, and politicians in many countries with fingers in muddy pies probably would rather they were shut down. So this might just be evidence of a campaign to throw maximum shade at the hated conservationists, that makes the claims of sexual misconduct against Oxfam and Save the Children look pretty tame.

On the other hand, BuzzFeed is claiming: “WWF has provided paramilitary forces with salaries, training, and supplies — including knives, night vision binoculars, riot gear, and batons — funded raids on villages … and signed off on a proposal to kill trespassers penned by a park director who presided over the killings of dozens of people.”

The charity responded to these extraordinary claims with: “Human rights abuses are totally unacceptable and can never be justified in the name of conservation.” WWF officials have promised a thorough investigation

However, BuzzFeed promises to continue running more stories of similar atrocities in the coming days.

Uncle Bogler writes: I have found myself on occasion wishing I could win £120 million on the Euromillions lottery, as some do. I have visions of acquiring a secondhand submarine to sink Japanese whaling ships, and sending trained mercenaries to eliminate Chinese and other Asian government officials involved in the clandestine ivory and powdered rhino-horn trades.

Shaken, and stirred: Extreme weather: drought, flooding, high winds and unseasonal frosts consistent with an overall increase of 1.4C locally in the average temperature of the Mediterranean region have been blamed for a 57% fall in the Italian olive crop, a loss valued at $1 billion, and other farming losses. The European commission has projected 2018-19 olive harvests to drop by 20% in Portugal and 42% in Greece, where extreme heat triggered an olive fly infestation, although industry sources said final figures there could be significantly worse. (Guardian Green Light)

The deaths of small towns… 9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by… Postscriptum: the outcome…Something’s got to give… The Hallelujah Chorus… GW: Maybe the weather isn’t over, after all…It’s all blowing off… Trust us to lead you.

Thought for the Day

“Were I, or anyone, able to somehow get hold of a cosmic vacuum-pump and suck out all the uneventful, blank bits of our lives, like evacuating all the air from a Bell jar; and heat the rest up over a Bunsen burner, how much of a brown powdery residue of achievements and adventures and excitements would be left in the bottom of the tube?” – Uncle Bogler, in a previous Post.

 

“For God’s sake, Boris, come down and stop showing off, the bus has gone!”

The deaths of small towns

(A message to Brexit boobies)

“(Crispin) Odey, one of the most outspoken of the Brexit-backing hedge fund managers, holds a short position in Intu – the owner of shopping malls – that represented £33m worth of shares in the company at the end of last week.

“He also holds a position against struggling department store Debenhams that is worth £5.3m. The firm also appears to be betting that Britons’ appetite for cars will fall … The firm has short positions against Lookers, a large dealership chain, and Auto Trader, the online used-car directory.

“In total, his hedge fund, with headquarters in Mayfair, has taken out £436m worth of declared short positions against British companies, of which nearly £150m are consumer-facing entities.”

Why is the billionaire Mr Odey doing this? Because of the lovely lucrative uncertainty you have brought about by your incurious nonsense. It’s exactly what these money-breathers – and Vladimir Putin – have been hoping for. Hedge funds stand to make billions out of uncertainty in markets.

But before you voted you’d never heard of hedge funds, right? No idea what they do? What ‘shorting’ means? Well, think of an each-way bet on the gee-gees. You hope you’ll win more than you’ll lose, or at least get back some of your stake, if your horse doesn’t come in first. (Generally, the bookies win.)

But just the act of betting enough money against those companies’ shares going up will help to drag them down. That’s when the hedgers cash-in. Hedge fund managers are punters; but they’re also the bookies: the odds are 101% stacked in their favor. That’s why they’re billionaires and you’re not.

That’s why they invested £millions in supporting the Leave campaigns; the lies you fell for. Because disrupting the relationships between trading partners is the ideal way to create uncertainty in the markets.

Wait, there’s more….

“At the same time, Marshall Wace, one of the UK’s largest hedge funds with $35bn (£27bn) in assets under management, holds declarable short positions equivalent to just under £1.4bn – more than any other investor in Britain.” (Guardian Business)

You get the idea? They’re betting huge sums of money that more of our high street stores and other British businesses listed on the Stock Exchange will go under as a result of Brexit chaos.  Money you will never see back. Stores you will never see back. Jobs you will never see back. Boarded-up shops – the deaths of small towns.

You think they care?

Meanwhile, clever old George Soros, the everso liberal-minded philanthropist frequently accused of plotting with his Jew friends the Rothschilds to control the world, who in 1992 nearly pulled down the entire British economy on “Black Wednesday” by betting against the pound, is holding a £10 million side-bet that WH Smith, the venerable High Street stationers’ shares will fall.

What do you tragic clowns who voted to leave the relative safety of the European Union because you were miserable and wanted to “send a message” think was the prime mover behind the Leave campaigns: your sovereignty? Your shabby, disempowered, drug-ridden, hopelorn former industrial communities? Ha ha ha. Fooled you.

Well that’s just gone by the board as Theresa May has abrogated the power of Parliament to even vote on the leaving agreement she herself has negotiated, so afraid is she of losing the vote. What now?

More lovely uncertainty. And as stock markets plunge, thanks to the uncertainty created by the greatest disruptor of them all, Santa Trump, hedge funds will be raking it in this Christmas.

So much for your ludicrous, Union flag-waving ‘sovereignty’, you’ve voted to live in a dictatorship. How many times in history has a promised Parliamentary vote been cancelled because a hopelessly divided Government has no confidence in its ability to win it? …er, possibly at the start of the Civil War? This is a major constitutional crisis you’ve unleashed, in your ignorance.

You poor fucking turkeys have voted to cancel Christmas, for the foreseeable future. But nobody was listening. Chip-chop….

Well, not you personally, BogPo readers, safe here in our cozy filter-bubble, or whatever the current expression is, as outside the anarchic working-class dons its yellow vests and prepares to fight for the hedge fund managers.

I’m preaching to the converted. This message is for those who aren’t reading it:

You’ve been had, and you’re fighting the wrong enemy.

“Any minute now I’m going to take off this latex mask to reveal… Underwoman!”

9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by

I realized with a start about half an hour ago that today is Tuesday.

Who knew?

Instead of trolling idiots on The Guardian website, in my usual day-long haze of viciously barbed self-righteous indignation punctuated with coffee and mince pies and duty-walks with Hunzi, I should have been a) at an early practice and b) going on to sing carols with my old choir at the old folks’ drop-in center in town.

I’d have missed the early practice anyway as I didn’t get up until gone 10.00, having already forgotten about it, despite receiving a reminder the evening before.

The days go by here, I no longer know what they’re called; they’re all the same.

I had agreed to do those things to help out, and once again failed. I hate myself, I am always doing it, it shows my isolation and that I probably just don’t care enough.

This is a choir I sang with for many years, but which had drifted in a direction of which I disapproved, away from robust World Music to hippy-dippy shit: moons and stars, feminism and futile appeals for peace; Zulu campfire songs, as I call those three-line chants with crunchy harmonies and untranslatable lyrics (repeat until you hyperventilate) that “Natural Voice Practitioners” learn in wimmen-only summer camps then fan-out far and wide to spread the gospel to community choirs made up of doughty veterans of Greenham Common and CND; and never the same stuff two weeks in a row.

It also had begun to irk me considerably, that a “training choir” originally for people who thought they couldn’t sing had so many long-time members who after years still had no confidence, who still had no idea about harmony, who still had no knowledge of basic musical notation and who still held the other sections up endlessly while they giggled and nattered and faffed about, pretending it was all too difficult, oh dear.

Why was I always the only one who would volunteer to take a solo?

Now I have a hospital appointment for next Tuesday, apparently, to have this desperately uncomfortable and inconvenient catheter removed, connecting my bladder directly via my elderly feller to a bag strapped to my leg, that sometimes brings on contractions, and leaks so that I have to wear a nappy.

Over time, my house has begun to smell of a curiously medicalized smell of fresh pee. “Trial Without Catheter”, they’re calling it. TWOC actually has its own printed leaflet. Although I have come to appreciate that not having to dash to the nearest loo or find a handy tree, wetting myself on the way, has been a bit of a boon, this damned tube is always pinching and snatching, sitting is hell, while putting on shoes is a trial….

The tube was inserted in an emergency back in July, but such is the nature of the National Health Service that appointments for anything inessential are often months away. My trial was not until the end of February next year, but this morning the hospital phoned with the offer of a cancellation, so naturally I grabbed it: this damn thing is the main reason I wasn’t going to visit family over Xmas as a 6-hour drive there and back the next day was not going to be pretty.

My worry now is, it’s another Tuesday morning – 9.00 am.

And 9.00 am and Tuesdays always pass me by.

Postscriptum: the outcome

So I made it on the dot for my TWOC (Trial Without Catheter – apparently, it’s a thing). I sat for an hour and nobody came. There was only one other person also waiting; the hospital seemed curiously deserted; the staff well trained to avoid eye contact.

Eventually I approached the receptionist to ask why I was there, and an elderly male charge nurse popped out through a doorway behind Reception, most apologetic, all the operating theatres were full as they had to clear the backlog of delayed surgical cases before the holiday.

But I don’t need an operating theatre! It’s just a simple procedure, a nurse could do it! Yes, but that’s what’s been booked, so that’s what we have to do, and we haven’t got the availability. We’re ever so sorry, can you come back at the end of January?

Since then my widely distributed family whom I am not now going to see at Christmas have been bombarding me with giftwrapped parcels from up the Amazon, so maybe it’s not such a bad outcome after all.

 

Something’s got to give

Do you want the good news, or the bad?

Well, they’re the same. USGS has announced the find of a huge 20-year reserve of oil and gas under the New Mexico desert, stretching across into Texas.

The specter of mile upon mile of nodding derricks intruding on the dramatic upland desertscape is appalling; but inevitable, as the vile Trump administration trumpets America’s noble self-sufficiency and low gas prices forever, while going all-out to drain its resources to the profitable lees as quickly as possible – before the planet burns down.

The only hope is, this is another load of oil-industry bullshit and it’s not as exploitable as they’re pretending. It was probably known about for years already but had been consigned to the 10% of “maybe someday” reserves. The argument for leaving this stuff in the ground is overwhelming; but not as overwhelming as the shareholder greed that will see it exploited by hook or, more realistically, by crook.

Yesterday there was a halfhearted intervention at the UN climate conference in Katowice as the US delegation got up on its hind trotters and began once again preaching the benefits of Trump’s fatuous “clean coal” fantasy. The Polish police have been notably successful in muting protest. It’s estimated, subsidies to the fossil fuel industries will soon run into the trillions of dollars in the effort to keep Exxon-Mobil, Koch industries and all the other ecocidal polluters afloat.

You can try and put a yellow vest on energy taxes, but you’re still paying in a roundabout way through your income tax and – the most regressive of all – VAT. M. Macron has announced a $114 a month raise in minimum wage to assuage the anger of the French “gilets jaunes”, the voices of the disempowered and the disappointed “squeezed middle” of provincial France, but that’s only going to increase the proportion of the tax take that gets passed on to the energy sector; meanwhile, lower fuel prices raising demand.

Something has to give, and soon.

 

Hallelujah chorus

Women in Guatemala are only one vote in parliament away from facing from five to ten years in gaol if they cannot prove in court that their miscarriage was a natural event. Otherwise it will be assumed they have behaved irresponsibly, or have had an illicit abortion.

Same-sex marriage is about to be made illegal, as are civil marriages. Any kind of “promotion” or teaching in schools and even universities on the subjects of homosexuality or gender identity – any lifestyle “incompatible with the human being’s biological and genetic features” – is to be outlawed, and acts of discrimination against the LGBTQ “community” legalized.

The country will also withdraw from any international conventions aimed at protecting the rights of minorities identifying as non-heterosexual or having transitional genders: “We are preventing Guatemala from engaging on any convention on gender diversity, says MP, Elvis Morena, who is pressing for the changes to the constitution.

The vote is currently postponed, owing to wrangling over the budget bill.

What it will effectively do, if passed, is to seal the growing power of the Evangelical Christian churches in Guatemala, where their pernicious form of far-right “Christianity” has been gaining a death grip.

As Diana Cariboni writes on Open Democracy:

“Bill 5272, proposed to ‘protect life and the family’, “is the first bill drafted by the evangelical churches in Guatemala”, said its drafter, Elvis Molina, a lawyer and pastor with the Iglesia Cristiana Visión de Fe (Christian Church Vision of Faith).

“It was introduced in Congress last year as a popular initiative supported by 30,000 signatures, and was immediately endorsed by 22 legislators led by Aníbal Rojas, a member of the evangelical party VIVA (Vision with Values).

“The draft law was then approved by a constitutional committee in Congress and passed two reading sessions on the floor. It’s now just one plenary vote from becoming official legislation.”

Welcome to Evangelical Disneyland.

And consider this: hugely wealthy Evangelical churches and their billionaire fellow-travellers in the US and Russia are bidding to gain the same kind of power over legislatures around the world – in the USA, where poor agnostic Mr Trump is obliged by his Evangelical Vice-President Mike Pence to endure a hand-waving, breast-beating, eye-rolling prayer service every Sunday at the White House, thanking God for extreme corrupt Republicanism – in Africa, especially, where in some countries same-sex relations carry the death penalty; in Russia, where Mr Putin is an enthusiast; and even in Britain, where the sanctimonious, sweaty-fear aroma of US and Russian Evangelism has been detected in the funding of the Brexit “Leave” conspiracy.

You have been warned, these people are vicious, arrogant and dangerous; seeking, in their most extreme manifestations, to impose their own patriarchal version of Sharia on a world reduced to mute, barbaric incomprehension and Biblical subjection to the most atavistic, superstitious belief in the non-existent Sky God and his imaginary Son.

Intolerant, authoritarian, controlling, loveless and fixated on the transfer of wealth from the very poorest to the very richest, this Millennarian death cult is not a version of Christianity recognized by many Christians.

But it’s coming our way.

Alle fuckin’ lujah.

GW: Maybe the weather isn’t over, after all

Indonesia: Heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in several provinces of Indonesia, leaving at least 9 people dead. Damaging floods were also reported in West Sumatra. It’s not been a good year. A government spokesman acknowledged that between 01 January and 10 December 2018, there had been 2,374 disaster events across the country. As many as 4,211 people are dead or missing, almost 7,000 injured and 9.95 million people displaced or affected. (Floodlist)

Vietnam: “at least” 2 dead as flooding and landslides have damaged roads and railway lines. Schools have been closed in some areas. Further heavy rain of up to 200mm in 24 hours has been forecast for central areas. (Floodlist).

Cyprus: At least 4 people died when their vehicle was swept away by flooding near the city of Kyrenia on 05 Dec. Damage was also reported in the capital Nicosia and roads and schools have been temporarily closed. The flooding was triggered by heavy rain that has fallen since 04 December. (Floodlist)

 Israel: Heavy rain from Wednesday 05 Dec. caused flooding in several areas, including Tel Aviv, Yavne and Rehovot, where dozens of children had to be rescued from their flooded preschool building. No injuries were reported. (Floodlist)

 UK: The Met Offfice is warning people to stay home and watch old movies tomorrow, Saturday 15 Dec, as unusual freezing rain is expected to make conditions treacherous for Xmas shoppers. Up to 40 cm of snow is expected in the Scottish highlands. Then on Sunday it’s all going to warm up again. (BBC)

 Canada: Flash flooding on 11 Dec. caused severe transport problems in parts of Vancouver. Emergency crews responded to at least 30 flood-related emergencies. Between 30 to 60 mm of rain fell in a few hours in parts of Vancouver. Port Mellon, 35 km NW of Vancouver, recorded 77mm of rain in 24 hours. Heavy snow is forecast for British Columbia.

 USA: Another storm over California and mudslides shut down parts of the Pacific Coast Highway, prompting evacuation orders in wildfire-scarred areas. Severe flooding was reported in the city of Costa Mesa. Downtown LA recorded its highest amount of rain in one day (06 December), 1.9 inches (48mm) beating the previous high of 1.01 inches (25.65mm) set in 1997. Heavy snow forced the closure of Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley. (Floodlist)

Preliminary research by precipitation expert Dr. Kenneth Kunkel of the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, has found that the three highest-volume rainfall events in the U.S. in the last 70 years have occurred since 2016. (Wunderground)

 Australia: Destructive “zombie cyclone” Owen with 200 K/h wind gusts is bearing down on the north of Australia with coastal residents being told to brace for the worst if the system reaches Cat 4 today. The “very destructive and severe” cyclone continues to increase in strength as it heads back towards Queensland, promising to deliver a deluge in its wake.

It comes as the southern end of Australia receives record-breaking levels of rain in Victoria and flash flooding with authorities warning “it’s not over yet”. People have had to be rescued from the roofs of their cars. 100 motorists are stranded close to the freeway at Wangaratta while the State Emergency Service has received 400 calls for help. (News.com.au

 

 It’s all blowing off

Prof. Paul Beckwith, a renegade Geographer semi-detached from Ottawa University who has devoted his life, his intricate website and Facebook page to explaining climate change issues and interpreting the latest research, has done his own investigations into warnings posted recently by other, less qualified satellite watchers, and confirms

“The unrelenting increase in global levels of atmospheric methane (this autumn – even today) went literally off-the-charts used to display methane for the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS)

“Methane levels were so high that they swamped out the colour scheme used in the map legend, causing saturation in large red blobs with little detail. The colour legend was shifted by 100 ppb to more clearly show the detailed structure of where methane was being emitted

“Methane release in the Arctic from thawing terrestrial and marine permafrost, and from methane clathrates on shallow continental shelves are a huge and ever increasing risk.

Just so you know.

Because the recent, watered-down reports from IPCC and others giving “urgent” warnings that aren’t urgent enough, are mainly concerned with warning governments about CO2 emissions from human industry and don’t emphasise the main danger, from natural methane emissions exacerbated by runaway Arctic warming.

But of increasing concern, are rising methane outputs over the Himalayas – India and China. So far, those very high readings are unexplained.

 Endispeace

Trust us to lead you

Borderline insane, avowed racist and homophobe Senator Steve King of Iowa, returned in all his seedy glory by dumbfuck redneck yippee-ki-oh voters at the midterms, was in a session questioning Google’s high-powered CEO, Sundar Pichai about various conspiracy theories to do with the internet – whatever that is.

In addition to demanding a list of Google employees broken down by religious affiliation, presumably to prove his theory that they are a Godless bunch, the good Senator brandished an iPhone and demanded to know why it was showing his 7-year-old grandaughter his picture.

Google of course has nothing to do with iPhones.

Taken with the Georgia Republican senator who last year expressed the view in a hearing on climate change that sea-level rise is caused by rocks falling into the water, you finally realize, the age of extremely dangerous dumb is upon us.

Many of these clueless, uneducated legislators don’t believe anything that isn’t in the Bible.

And that’s God’s honest truth.