The Pumpkin – Issue 54. Postscriptum: Donny and Kimmy go to Love island… An enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in 100-dollar bills… Long Essay: Farage, the smoking gun?… GW: venturing out nervously in gumboots and respirator.)

…in terms of the scale of its human rights violations, North Korea ‘does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.’

“In its report, the commission said it had found evidence of ‘extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.’”Washington Post, quoting UN Commission on Human Rights 2014 report.

“Really, he’s got a great personality,” Trump (said). “He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart, he’s a great negotiator.” Trump added in the interview that what was not surprising was that Kim: “loves his people.” Kim’s citizens show great “fervor” for their leader. His country does love him.

“You see the fervor” the North Koreans have for Kim, he said. – The Hill

 

“Piss in our time!”

Postscriptum: Donny and Kimmy go to Love island

The Pumpkin has not yet read the full text of the heads of agreement signed by the two dictators in Singapore, as Fox News hostess Abby Huntsman has apologized for accidentally calling them. He doesn’t read much and is waiting for the cartoon version to come out, with maps.

However he notes that no mention seems to have been made, either of human rights violations (in either country) or of South Korea, and any intention to convert the 65-years old armistice into an actual peace treaty, which would have been a relatively simple objective to announce.

This was the “Me too” summit, a Love Island photo op for the two biggest, most fragile egos and the most crooked salesmen on the planet, stitching together a deal to validate their own authoritarian regimes for the consumption of their cowed and worshipful dumbfucks at home.

To put it another way, had they moved too far in the direction of peace and liberality, even if that was the intention, and not just Trump sensing new marketing opportunities (no mention either of the Trump Pyongyang hotel, casino and golf resort? Ed.), although he has praised the beaches and their opportunity for hotel developments, neither dictator could entirely rely on their “nuke ’em now” hawks not to stab them in the front when they get home.

Just sayin’.

PPS it looks like Kimmy got everything he wanted out of their tryst, with Donny now offering to lift sanctions and stop those huge joint military exercises (“expensive”) with the South Koreans, and his power to summon even the American President being made evident to his worshipful people.

“That’s good, then.”

x“With great change comes great opposition.”

An enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in 100-dollar bills

The triumphal Singapore love-fest draws near and Childe Donald, sulking over the disrespect six of the country’s leading international trading partners and global security allies have been showing him in Montreal – a G7 minus-one summit to which the mafioso man-infant turned up insultingly late and left an entire day early, before issuing a tirade of abusive tweets – goes all out to woo the headline writers with almost anything other than news of his henchmen’s indictments at the hands of the remorseless Bob Mueller, whom he seems to be outplaying daily on the PR front.

It’s worth reminding ourselves then that, whatever concessions he wins from Kimmy, or claims to have won, and whether or not the sainted fools of Stockholm award him their joke Peace prize, he is still “Trump”, the compulsive, narcissistically disordered “made-for-TV” cartoon business thug, and not someone to be regarded as normally presidential or creditworthy in any way.

Further evidence of his deep disrespect for the rule of law emerged last week at a meeting of the cabinet in a bunker-like, windowless room in the White House, where he commanded his subordinates to join him in offering their unstinting praise and admiration for his profoundly corrupt EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt – the Butcher of Oklahoma.

Pruitt’s sins pile upon him like Peleon on Mount Ossa. No sooner had we finished reeling from the news that he had ordered an aide to set up a mysterious meeting with the CEO of a fast-food chain called Chick-fil-A, possibly the world’s crappiest ever brand concept, only for it to leak out that the purpose was to use the power of his office to persuade the poor man to give Mrs Pruitt a restaurant franchise because they love the food so much, than we learn that he got his security detail to drive him around the neighborhood drugstores to hunt down a bottle of his favorite body-lotion, as available in Ritz-Carlton hotels; and spent $1500 buying $100 pens for his desktop.

Mr Pruitt has denied what was patently the case, that he waved through tens of thousands of dollars in unearned pay raises to two staffers he brought with him from his previous job as Attorney-General of Oklahoma. He has apparently also spent $3.5 million on additional security personnel, several motorcades above and beyond what his position entitles him to. He has incurred other non-legitimate expenses, such as the $43 thousand he spent on having a bug-proof phone booth installed in his office; blown who-knows how much on private, military and first-class flights for himself and Mrs Pruitt, $40 thousand on a beano with seven of his pet staffers purely for the purpose of persuading the Moroccan government to import propane gas from a private monopoly firm part-owned by a then-Trump cabinet member, the grizzled billionaire Carl Icahn – who was himself obliged to resign over a $30 million ‘windfall’ profit he made selling a company ahead of the President’s announcement on steel tariffs.

The monopoly bottled gas provider, Cheniere Co. of Houston, Texas, also happened to be a client of lobbying firm Williams & Jensen, from whose senior partner’s wife Mr Pruitt was notoriously renting a trashy Washington apartment for the princely sum of fifty bucks a night. Another W&J client is the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge, to whom Pruitt granted a controversial development permit last year. The New York Times reported (2 April, 2018):

“The signoff by the E.P.A. came even though the agency, at the end of the Obama administration, had moved to fine Enbridge $61 million in connection with a 2010 pipeline episode that sent hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and other waterways. The fine was the second-largest in the history of the Clean Water Act.”

An act which Pruitt has been instrumental in abolishing, along with the Clean Air Act and other Obama-era abominations.

Not only is Pruitt existentially shameless and an abuser of his office: he is also showing signs of being barking mad. Another aide is reported to have been briefed by him to investigate the possibility of buying a used mattress from a Trump hotel. Its purpose is yet to be disclosed, but might, The Pumpkin suggests over skinny lattes, involve DNA evidence. He also engages in paranoid secrecy:

“Breaking with all of his predecessors at the E.P.A. for the last 25 years, as well as other members of President Trump’s cabinet, he does not release a list of public speaking events and he discloses most official trips only after they are over. Mr. Pruitt doesn’t hold news conferences, and in one episode, journalists who learned of an event were ejected from the premises after an E.P.A. official threatened to call the police.” (NYT)

Mr Trump has asserted on several occasions that Mr Pruitt is doing “a great job” at the EPA, which still has 700 posts waiting to be filled, where there have been a number of high-profile resignations over his singular management style, and whose scientific research policy is now firmly in the control of energy-sector lobbyists and industry executives. It is not certain therefore what “great job” Mr Pruitt is specifically believed by the President to be doing, other than helping him to dismantle any and all protections previously accorded to the environment, turning America into one vast polluted, overheating shithole. (See GW, below.)

FOI requests from environmental groups such as the Sierra Club are continuing to turn up thousands of official emails demonstrating Pruitt’s extreme avoidance of public scrutiny and his ongoing relationships with large energy-sector corporations.

Pruitt’s grandiloquent response to all this unfounded criticism?

“With great change comes great opposition.”

You bet, Swamp-man.

(Did he get that quote from the i-kerChing? lolz. ed.)

 

Hangin’ up now….

As a little extra fillip to the story, Mr Trump’s fine-dining companion, the equally demented Fox News conspiracy-monger and slum landlord, Sean Hannity went on the record last week publicly urging anyone connected with the Trump administration to smash their cellphones before Mueller can subpoena them.

He hasn’t been arrested for obstructing justice, yet. I’d guess that darned old First Amendment makes a bonfire of Fox’s martyrs unlikely.

Nothin’ to see, move on….

Oh, while I have you on the line, not a lot has been reported in our supine media about the pits-to-pipelines Koch Brothers’ low-key divorce.

Clever workaholic Charles has forced dimmer brother David to take early retirement at 78. The New Yorker magazine reports it should make no difference to their meddling in US politics, just like Russians; a project on which the aged neoCons have lavished billions funding climate-change deniers and buying politicians like Paris Hilton buys chihuahuas.

David, said Charles, 82, with regret, has been “nodding off” in meetings lately and it’s time he settled down for the good of his health. Forbes magazine estimates that each brother (there are more, less famous Koch brothers minding the stove at home) is worth approximately 60 billion dollars, making them only the joint 9th richest men in America.

Way to go.

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Long Essay

“…that leaves the question: if the Mercers, Banks and other disruptors financed this attempt at a paradigm shift in Western democracy, where do the Russians fit in?”

Farage: the smoking gun?

Whether or not the dogged Guardian/Observer reporter, Carole Cadwalladr brokered the latest twist in the story that she has been pursuing for two years, of where the money to fund the Leave tendency in the European referendum came from, both our most respected Sunday papers have carried front-page news of having “seen evidence” that UKIP founder, Mr Arron Banks, had many meetings at the Russian embassy in London prior to the Brexit vote.*

Not only that, but he was introduced, it’s said, by the ambassador himself to a “Russian businessman” who, in a fairytale twist, offered Banks the opportunity to invest in a company owning six gold mines in Russia. An investment which, it is alleged, Banks was told would net him “billions”. And Mr Banks went on record soon afterwards to vaguely indicate that he had some potential new interest with gold mines, although he now denies having any business interests in Russia.

Now, where have we heard that before? So many elements of this story echo statements, denials and ultimate revelations in America.

What gives the story some credibility is that Mr Banks does in fact partly own gold mines in South Africa, although it is said they are not all that productive. These, and his primary businesses of insuring motorcyclists and other uninsurable vehicle owners, were said to have made his personal net worth a modest £22 million.

OpenDemocracy.org however (and others) has been pursuing the financing of the Brexit vote too, and writes that the authorities in Gibraltar have been somewhat lackadaisically investigating reports that Banks’ businesses – registered there for tax purposes –  were so hard up, they were lending each other money in advance of their audits, in a game of corporate pass-the-parcel.

Somehow, nevertheless, it’s reported that Mr Banks managed to invest £12 million – over half his “net worth” – in funding and loans setting up Leave.EU, an unofficial campaigning vehicle commanded by Nigel Farage, MEP, that has been subjected lately to inquiries concerning some of its untraceable finances, funneled via Northern Ireland’s militant Protestant party, the DUP, who seem immune from investigation as a result of their £1.5 billion deal with the May government to boost her tiny Commons majority. Money well spent, given Mrs May’s close-run thing resisting Brexit amendments proposed by the House of Lords.

What all this is leading to, is the conclusion that Russians made substantial contributions to derailing Britain’s relationship to the European Union.

It is not really a surprising conclusion, but as Mr Banks now appears to have lied to Parliament about his connections with the Russian government, and has an opportunity shortly to go back before the toothless culture committee to set the record straight, we may be starting to understand something of the giant conspiracy that resulted in Britain’s fumbling, ill-advised attempts in a fast-changing global environment to withdraw from a complex raft of mutually supportive and largely useful treaties negotiated over many years with our European neighbours.

As Mr Banks is at the second stage of denial – so important is he, in his view, that he may have had “drinks” with the Russian ambassador a couple of times and exchanged a bit of bantz around the samovar – it may take a while, we lack the American dynamism, but clearing away the acrid smoke pouring from the blog of  the juvenile director of the rival official Vote Leave campaign, Mr Dominic Cummings (who, like Mr Trump, is having difficulty getting over the fact that he won), we should eventually get to the truth of how the referendum was fixed.

That will, of course, depend also on whatever is ultimately discovered about the role of Cambridge Analytica, Aggregate IQ and others in using stolen data to micro-target wavering voters with personalized anti-EU messages. A difficult process, depending as it does on whistleblowers competing with corporate liars, and egregious breaches of the Data Protection Acts of many nations.

(One wonders, too, who exactly is behind enormous data breaches, like that revealed by Dixon’s Carphone Warehouse this morning, of five million customer records; data theft that never seems to result in actual criminal actions but which presumably provides someone with a mass of consumer information?)

Multi-billionaire US hedge-fund manager and computer whizz, Bob Mercer gives no interviews and seemingly does not regard himself as a member of the human race, as he never responds to questions, but is alleged to have said at one time that he and his Sarah Palin-lookalike daughter Bekah were attempting to build a “radical free-market, small-government, home-schooling, antiliberal, gold-standard, pro-death penalty, anti-Muslim, pro-Christian, monetarist, anti-civil-rights political movement in the United States.” (London Evening Standard, 23 March, 2018.)

It seems they were also hoping to build one here.

Because if there is a “smoking gun” in the FBI and Justice Department investigations of Russian collusion and US corporate interference in the 2016 elections, it is Nigel Farage himself, declared last year a “person of interest”.

Farage is the obvious link, the go-between for disruptors hoping to swing the Brexit vote and the highly dodgy crew of chancers working with the Trump campaign. Funded by Banks, with cash from who-knows what source, Farage was connected with Mercer, of whom he was frequently said to be an unlikely “friend”; with Bannon and the Breitbart crowd; with Trump personally, at whose rallies he made over-the-top ultraconservative speeches and with whom he was gleefully photographed in the Golden Elevator at Trump Tower; and with Assange, whose Wikileaks organization fenced the data stolen by the Russian GRU from emails in the private files of Clinton, Podesta, Weiner and the Democratic party.

This veritable Zelig has popped up at every stage of the conspiracy on both sides of the pond. Perhaps he needs to be looked at more closely by the security establishment: unfortunately, despite the belated creation of the National Crime Agency, we have far weaker investigative bodies in this country even than in the United States; preferring to rely on 1940s “Dixon of Dock Green” community policing and barely sentient Parliamentary committees to solve immensely complex and sophisticated international crimes.

The Mercers of course funded Breitbart News, several of whose contributors, including the atavistic Hungarian neo-Nazi party supporter, Gorka the Gormless, and Bannon himself were injected by Mercer into the early Trump administration. They funded Cambridge Analytica, whose bullshitting fantasist Old Etonian CEO Stephen Nix has given up denying the testimony of his former executives that they stole data from the accounts of 87 million Facebook users in the USA, with the help of an Anglo-Russian computer analyst.

They also funded the Trump campaign, to the tune of many millions of dollars; giving the lie to his oft-repeated claim that because he was so rich, he was financing his own campaign. Of course he wasn’t.

But now the Mercers have withdrawn from the whole thing in disappointment, disavowing Bannon and the creeps and charlatans who conned them into supporting the Brexit and Elect Trump! conspiracies. It seems they are deeply disappointed in how liberal and progressive Trump has turned out to be. I wonder where they will turn their attentions next?

But that leaves the question: if the Mercers, Banks and other disruptors (see previous Posts) financed this attempt at a paradigm shift in Western democracy, where do the Russians come in? Were they in league?

You know, at this point my shoulders slump and I think maybe it’s time to walk the dog.

Seventeen US intelligence agencies signed their anonymous names to a report stating unequivocally that “Russia” was involved in hacking emails and in testing the water when it came to exploiting data from the voter rolls (possibly to assist the Republicans to edit the voter rolls in marginal wards) and possibly fixing the US’s poorly designed computerized voting lobbies. The FBI has asserted that they now have proof of over 60 contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian diplomatic/intelligence agencies and individuals during 2015/16. Contacts that were extensively lied about, even by the President himself.

Numerous media investigations have shown, pretty much beyond doubt, that Trump had business connections and aspirations in Moscow, and longstanding relations with corrupt oligarchs and property investors suspected of involvement with organized crime in Russia. The Special Counsel, Bob Mueller has indicted 14 Russian individuals and three companies in relation to election tampering and money-laundering, in association with Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, a sometime consultant to the ousted Ukrainian kleptocrat Victor Yanukovitch, who faces charges of money-laundering, acting as an undeclared foreign agent, witness-tampering and fraud.

Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Gen. Mike Flynn, has already been indicted on charges of lying to the FBI and acting as an undeclared foreign agent for, among others, Russian business interests. A special team on the Trump campaign tasked with tracing Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails was set up in the wake of the 6 June, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Jr, Manafort, Jared Kushner and a team of Russian money-laundering specialists, GRU agents and the Kremlin lawyer, Veselnitskaya – who later attended Trump’s inauguration. That team of hackers, one of them Russian-speaking, reported directly to Flynn.

Then there was the Steele dossier, a 35-page compendium of current allegations by Russian officials and MI6 assets in Moscow concerning the President, mostly prior to his candidacy, commissioned originally by the Never Trump! wing of the Republican campaign and then passed on to the FBI and the Democrat election committee. Most of it has checked out to be true, and led to gleeful media speculation that Trump is profoundly compromised, either by a sexual scandal or his huge debts to banks ultimately controlled by Putin – possibly both.

It’s all looking pretty murky.

When the name George Papadopoulos emerged early on as that of someone on the Trump team who had made a bargain with the Devil, the Mueller investigation, to lighten the charge against him of lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts, the general reaction was “George who?”

Mr Trump also expressed total ignorance of Mr Papadopoulos’ existence, until video emerged of a committee meeting at which the guy was plainly seated just four places down the table from the Orange Emperor himself. Trump then changed his story, claiming Papadopoulos was only the office boy who fetched the coffee.

In fact, and can we call him “P.” from now on, my fingers hurt, George P. is of importance in two significant ways.

P. claims he was approached in London early in 2016 by a mysterious “Bulgarian professor”, in fact an FSB agent who told him that over 30 thousand of Hillary Clinton’s private and official State Department emails had been deleted from a private server, and the Russians had gained knowledge of their existence. Later, while mildly drunk in a bar, P. says he let the story slip to a junior attache from the Australian embassy, who had passed it on via his superiors to Australian intelligence, who in turn told the FBI, thus triggering the Feds’ interest in the Trump campaign team’s contacts with the Russians – or the “witch hunt”, as Trump insists on dismissing it at every opportunity.

Nothin’ to see, folks. North Korea? Sure, why not?

Despite Trump’s latest conspiracy theory he can’t let go, that an FBI “spy” was in his camp during the summer of 2016, it seems loose-lipped, mildly drunken George P. was the man responsible for the whole can of worms, the “Russia thing” opening up. Perhaps.

Except that Dutch intelligence, I believe, and subsequently the Czechs, the French, the Germans, the Spanish and Britain’s GCHQ listening post had all intercepted and been monitoring calls between Trump associates Roger Stone, Carter Page, maybe also Michael Cohen, Flynn, Manafort and others, and Russian intelligence agents since the summer of 2015, and had told the FBI long before George P.’s leak, only for President Obama to tell them to sit on the story so as not to be seen to be interfering in the upcoming presidential election; thus giving Trump the plausible assertion that it was all a plot against him, cooked up by the criminal Clinton campaign.

Make of that what you will, it’s where the Pumpkin and I run into soft sand and head off for a cold beer.

The second area of interest in the boy, George may be that, far from being the office gopher, people have already forgotten in the never-ending melee of Trump-related bullcrap that P. was on the team originally as an environmental advisor. An alumnus of the powerful Hudson Institute, a notorious energy-industry-funded think-tank dedicated to burying climate-change science, George P. was working as a lobbyist for a Texas-based company, Noble Energy, in which Trump was reportedly a minor shareholder.

Now, Noble in turn was lobbying the Israeli government over a franchise to exploit natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of Israel – but more importantly, the coast of the Gaza strip, making the project a political and legal nightmare. The case was dragging slowly through the Israeli courts, and P.’s presence in the Trump/Kushner camp was clearly designed to use their personal connections with Netanyahu to speed things up; while Noble were also hoping to construct an undersea pipeline to Europe, via the Turkish end of Cyprus, bypassing Russian and Iranian-controlled Syria. Was that what Gen. Flynn’s PR company was being paid by a Dutch businessman with energy industry connections to lobby for with the Erdogan regime in Turkey?

As it turned out, the whole deal collapsed when Israel decided to sell its gas to Egypt instead.

The words Russia and Iran are, of course, synonymous with enormous gas reserves, Russia being the largest supplier of natural gas to Germany and western Europe. In addition to the strategic implications, both nations would, one imagines, be keen to stymie competition from Israeli and American interests in the region; while American and Israeli animus towards Russia’s ally, Iran, can be framed in terms of competition for global markets for their vital energy resource.

Neither your Uncle B. nor The Pumpkin has the brains to work out how all this fits together, so we’ve ordered another beer.

Back in London, languishing in the basement of the Ecuadorean embassy, a fugitive from an EU arrest warrant, which is probably why he was happy to work against them, is the Great White Worm, Assange – an arrogant, self-publicizing, self-pitying narcissist, another “friend” of Farage and fulcrum-point for all kinds of internet mischief.

His Wikileaks operation has, admittedly, broken some useful evidence (the Snowden files) of the other global conspiracy, that of the US “Deep State” and their intrusive surveillance operations, which we are slowly realizing are irreversibly intertwined with the commercial interests of the major internet service providers; hence, the theft of data from Facebook and its weaponization for political purposes.

Nevertheless it was Wikileaks that collaborated with the Russians and the Cambridge Analytica/Mercer nexus to undermine the Clinton presidential bid, with Farage – who “does not remember” the purpose of their meetings – acting as go-between for the Trump campaign and Assange.

And then to complete the Big Picture – more like an enormous, deflating barrage balloon – there are the activities of European alt-right, “white supremacist” Christian disruptors.

Some are plainly financed by Russian oligarchs allied both to the Kremlin and to the Orthodox Church; and from the money-laundering scams (mainly through overinflated property markets controlled by, among others, the Trump and Kushner families) of actors like Deutsche Bank, to whom Trump allegedly owes a third of a billion dollars; and Bank of Cyprus, formerly owned by ex-Deutsche Bank chairman Joseph Ackermann and – among other major investors, mostly Russian -Trump family ‘consiglieri’ and now US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross.

Another of BoC’s investors, Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, the “Fertilizer King”, was involved in a suspicious Florida property deal that netted Trump a clear $45 million, and seems to have attended at least one of Trump’s election rallies; the one at which he went off-script to announce that the USA would not, under his presidency, be arming the Ukraine government forces against the Russians. (He now says he feels sure he would only have to ask Vladimir privately to leave the Ukraine alone, and he would.)

And among these white European disruptors, as the BogPo has reported before, are several deeply conservative British “millionaire businessmen” like Banks, with anti-Islamic Russian and other East European connections – Banks’ wife is Russian – like Jim Dowson, and other wealthy, self-interested business tycoons and investment managers with declared hostility to the European Union, its supposedly repressive legislative, anti-business, pro-tax regime, its equality agenda promoting women and gays, and its willingness to tolerate a large Muslim presence in our midst.

It’s a vast and rambling conspiracy to defraud the voters of Britain, the USA and other countries where we have seen the fingerprints of Russian interference in democratic processes – with the proviso that Russia is not the only bad actor in this scene, there are these traitors in our midst, imagining that their duty is to cleanse the Augean stables: the obsession of authoritarian paranoiacs down the ages.

I doubt there is even a mastermind behind it: it’s rather a movement of the wealthy against the poor, the degenerates and the despised “ethnic minorities”, planning to leave themselves in command of a depleted but nonetheless still materially gratifying world redesigned for their kind: powerful, white and Christian.

And there bobbing about like a cork at the heart of it all is Farage, although he claims now to be hors de combat and is making self-pitying noises about being separated, broke and soon to be jobless. While the UK media puzzles over the emerging evidence of a Russian connection to Brexit, few people as yet seem to be joining the dots and realizing it is all connected; and that the real collusion with Russia has been that involving the billionaires who control our data.

If there is a smoking gun proving collusion between Trump and the Russians, it’s Farage, the man in the Golden Elevator.

Going down?

Now I think another beer is in order.

*According to Private Eye, sometime Sunday Times hackette, Isobel Oakeshott, author of the Brexit Bad Boys, a semi-biography of Banks, had been sitting on evidence of his visits to the Russian embassy for several months and was pissed off when Cadwalladr broke the story, so she gave the info to the ST as a spoiler.

Miaow.

Writing in the Guardian, Monday 11 June, Matthew D’Ancona says:

“We have known for two years that Arron Banks, the pro-Brexit tycoon, and his closest henchman, Andy Wigmore, visited the Russian embassy in November 2015, just as we have long been aware of the links between Leave.EU and the Trump campaign. What has now been revealed is the sheer scale of these contacts – including a lunch between Banks, Nigel Farage and Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador, just three days after the Leave.EU team had been granted an audience with president-elect Trump in November 2016.

“It appears that there were multiple meetings between Banks, Wigmore and senior Russian officials between 2015 and 2017. … This does not seem, in other words, to be routine schmoozing or glad-handing. It has the whiff of a nexus, suggesting a purpose, or multiple purposes.”

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Wailing and gnashing

“Greetings from Amazon.co.uk.

“We are writing to confirm that we are processing your refund in the amount of £10.79 for your Order from Amazon US. This amount has been credited to your payment method and will appear when your bank has processed it. This refund is for the following item(s): (etc.)

“Reason for refund: Damaged during transit.”

But I have not asked for a refund! I have not yet received the Order! There must be some mistake! The Order (a rare Chet Baker album) was only dispatched last night for 20 June delivery! I have no idea whether the Order has been damaged in transit or not!

And Amazon offers you no way to contact them to ask what the fuck is going on, other than an infuriating “we put the words in your mouth” FAQ. (Was this helpful? No. Well, tough, thanks for the info, we will use jt to improve our services.” Cunts!

Jeff Fucking World’s Richest Man Baldy Bezos, are you there? Hello, anyone? Help!

x

GW: venturing out nervously in gumboots and respirator

Pacific: The Western Hemisphere’s first major event of 2018 is Hurricane Aletta. “Aletta put on a remarkable display of rapid intensification overnight Thursday (7 June), with the winds increasing by 70 mph in just 24 hours. Aletta was merely a tropical storm with 70 mph winds at 11 am EDT Thursday, but by Friday at 11 am, the hurricane had morphed into a fierce Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds.” Its forecast track is out into the colder waters of the Pacific with little chance of it making landfall anywhere; although an identical feature is forming just a few hundred miles behind. It’s the sixth earliest Cat 4/5 ever recorded in the Eastern Pacific basin, kicking off aways from the coast of Mexico. (The Weather Channel)

Gulf of Mexico: On the other side, a relatively low-key storm now blowing between the Yucatan peninsula and Cuba has a terrifying prognosis, a possible repeat of last year’s “super-soaker” Hurricane Harvey. Several NOAA hurricane center models show it picking up rotation in the Gulf, developing winds up to 120 mph with a huge precipitation potential, as a very slow moving Cat 3 or 4 hurricane stalling for possibly 24 hours over the Texas/Louisiana coastline at Beaumont by next Saturday pm, 16 June. (Satellite forecast as noticed by weather blogger, MrMBB333)

…. 11 June: “Mexico’s weather service warned yesterday of storms, heavy rain and strong winds … as Tropical Storm Bud intensified into a (115 mph) hurricane. Coastal areas were also warned of storm surge of up to 3 metres. Severe weather affected parts of Jalisco state in Mexico during the afternoon of 10 June. Areas around the city of Guadalajara were the worst affected. Around 65 mm of rain fell in just a few hours on Sunday afternoon. Elsewhere, heavy rain was recorded in the state of Guerrero, where 97 mm of rain fell in 24 hours.” (edited from Floodlist) (This is the system closely following Aletta, on Mexico’s east coast. Its forecast track takes it straight up the Baja peninsula towards California.)

Africa: The death toll from heavy rain and flooding across Kenya, where it has been raining since March, has risen to 186. An estimated 800,000 people have been affected by flooding. As many as 300,000 people have been displaced and nearly 100 injured, … heaviest rain recorded in 50 years. (edited from Floodlist)

China: Up to 250 mm rain from Typhoon Ewiniar in 24 hrs triggered landslides in the city of Yunfu, causing houses to collapse, killing 5 people. 1 person is still missing. 73 thousand people were evacuated ahead of the storm. Ewiniar made landfall in Hainan and Guangdong earlier in the week, bringing heavy rain and strong winds. It then moved back into the South China sea before making a third landfall, again in Guangdong, on 07 June. The storm had earlier caused heavy rain in parts of Vietnam, with landslides and flooding. (edited from Floodlist)

Europe: Severe weather, including heavy rain and flooding, has continued in France and at least 2 people are thought to have died in the last two days. After hitting northern areas, in particular Brittany and Normandy, earlier this week, flooding has now affected areas of southwestern France. Heavy rain from 05 to 06 June caused major flooding in parts of northeastern Spain. Emergency services in Catalonia received over 300 calls for assistance during 06 June. (edited from Floodlist)

Arctic: UK Business Insider reports (08 June):

“The Trump administration said on Thursday it would spend $4 million on construction projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in preparation for oil drilling in the nation’s biggest wildlife park.

“The tax-overhaul bill passed by the U.S. Congress last December includes a provision mandating two oil lease sales, each offering at least 400,000 acres (161,874.26 hectares), within seven years.

“The 19-million-acre (7.7 million-hectare) Arctic refuge, the largest in the U.S. national wildlife refuge system, contains some of the wildest territory in North America.”

Your Granny wonders idly, which of many scandals, tweets, Mueller indictments and presidential gaffes covered in the fake news media last Thursday enabled the EPA to bury that news?

Boglington-on-Sea: Guys, it’s been really hot here. Occasional light shower, but mostly sun the past six weeks. Not normal for Wales!

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Terminal news

Hawaii: A USGS report on the Mount Kilauea eruption reveals that “6 to 9 million cubic meters of magma” is spewing DAILY from Fissure 8 alone, and the event could continue for years or decades, presumably rendering much of Big Island uninhabitable, while producing a new island off the coast. Many people evacuated over the past few weeks will never be able to go home.

The island’s second largest freshwater lake has been boiled dry by a lava flow. Acid rain is killing off swathes of forest and vegetation cover. The vast crater within the caldera of the main volcano is collapsing in on itself, with accompanying explosions. A new eruption on Thursday morning (7 June) accompanied by a M5.6 quake produced a 10 thousand feet-high ash cloud and filled the air with tiny particles of glass, triggering a warning to residents to get indoors. (Mary Greeley/ Dutchsinse/ News US/ USGS)

Southern Africa: 9 of the only 60 known oldest Baobab trees in the world have died, prompting speculation that the changing climate is making conditions too harsh for them. The iconic, oddly-shaped, flowering trees were between 1,500 and 2,500 years old and the largest reached 100 feet in height and 35 meters in girth. (Guardian, citing Nature Plants journal)

Nature Bats Last: in his latest podcast, the world’s most depressing – and terminally depressed – man, professor emeritus of natural resources and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona (suspended from teaching!), Dr Guy McPherson warns us that the coming financial crash – September is the favorite time for financial crashes – will so reduce global industrial activity that the protective blanket of smog around the earth will rapidly fade away, leaving us exposed to the full glare of the sun, as it did for three days when commercial aviation was suspended in the aftermath of 9/11. Runaway warming will ensue within days, he advises, wiping out all life on earth.

We have four months remaining of human history.

If you’re still not depressed, follow this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03kwgj0

 

 

 

 

 

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Brexit means sod it… It’s Magic: How to become President of the United States of Amerika… Close down the immigration functions of the Home Office. They are not fit for purpose.GW: kickin’ up a storm… Fantasy fiction

“After one of the coldest Aprils in U.S. history, last month delivered a stunning switch—the warmest May for the contiguous U.S. in records going back to 1895. May came in at 5.21°F above the 20th-century average….” – The Weather Channel.  More fun weather stories from Granny Weatherwax, down the page!

 

“Dear Theresa, don’t say we didn’t warn you about a No-deal Brexit.”. From: Michael, and all at ‘Inter-ministerial Preparedness’, c/o The Bunker, Whitehall, London SW1.

Brexit means sod it…

In one scenario, “not even the worst”,

“…the port of Dover will collapse on day one. The supermarkets of Cornwall and Scotland will run out of food within a couple of days, and hospitals will run out of medicines within two weeks. … Officials would have to charter planes to airlift medicines into the country, and within a fortnight petrol would also be in short supply. … Meanwhile, EU agreements on everything from medicines regulation to aviation govern key aspects of everyday life, and it has not yet been agreed whether, and how, Britain could continue to benefit from them as a “third country”.

Thus, The Observer, quoting a rival Sunday Times interview with an unnamed “civil servant” from a Whitehall department close to the inter-ministerial group on Preparedness, calling herself presumptuously “M. Gove, Prime Minister-in-Waiting” – who has revealed something of the contingency plans being drawn up in secret by the Government in the event of a ‘No-deal’ Brexit, for which the libertarian self-help neo-Thatcherite hard-cases and swivel-eyed Empire loyalists in the Tory party are again pressing in the absence of any detectable progress on the Irish border issue – or, indeed, on anything.

The worst-case scenario, by the way, is described as ‘Armageddon”. For which, read: “Boris becomes Prime Minister”.

A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: “These claims are completely false. … none of this will come to pass.”

“Come to pass”? Now that’s a pretty Biblical choice of phrasing.

Apocalyptic, even.

x

Alone at last.

Magic: How to become President of the United States of Amerika

Simples. You bullshit your way past the low-bar credulity of the average US voter.

Here’s how it works, as exemplified in a BBC News feature about the great mid-20th century (and first star TV) magician, Sorcar:

“Sorcar was born Protul Chandra Sarkar on 23 February 1913 in the village of Ashekpur in Bengal. At school, he excelled in maths … but his real calling was magic. Changing his name to Sorcar – it sounded like “sorcerer” – he started performing in clubs, circuses and theaters.
“Still a complete unknown outside a few cities in Bengal, he decided to call himself “The World’s Greatest Magician” … The ploy worked. Invitations started to pour in from across the country.”

Yes, it really is that easy. People will go along with whatever you tell them, they have too much to worry about already without doubting that you are the world’s greatest ever Presidential candidate, if you say it often enough.

“‘Trump’ was born Donald J Trumplestiltskin 111 in Queen’s, New York, on June whatever, 1946, the son of a respected property developer and founding member of the Ku Klux Klan, Manhattan chapter. His immigrant grandfather, Herr Professor Doktor Friedrich von-und-zu Drumpfelstiltskin was a respected German draft dodger and brothel-keeper. The family changed their name to sound more American.
“At school he excelled at smuggling women into the dorm, but his real calling was lying about that. Still known only as a respected reality show host and serial bankrupt, he embarked on a career as a professional liar. Unsuccessful at first, he eventually succeeded in persuading a sufficient minority of US voters that migrants were animals and he would Make America Great Again.”

Your Uncle Bogler has taken close note of the career trajectory of “Sorcar”, who made a name for himself in Britain during the 1950s in a single memorable night by pretending that his pièce de resistance, sawing a lady in half in plain sight, had gone hideously wrong in front of a screaming television audience of several thousand future PTSD cases.

The exiled Russian journalist, Arkady Babchenko, similarly became famous for 15 minutes last week when, at the suggestion of Ukrainian Intelligence agents, he was revealed to have participated in a fake assassination of himself in order to help them catch the real Smersh hitman they believed was coming from Moscow to rub him out.

In a neat reversal of the Sorcar trick, he miraculously resurrected himself three days later in Kiev, in front of a screaming and fainting TV studio audience, much to the disgust of the world’s journalistic community, who had hoped he really was dead so they could write about another evil Russian plot to exterminate Putin’s critics.

I have decided therefore to rebrand myself as “The World’s Most Insightful Bogler”, although I have yet to decide whether to fake my own death or stage my own resurrection, or maybe run for President.

See what happens.

Can’t hurt.

 

Close down the immigration functions of the Home Office. They are not fit for purpose.

The Home Office has just rejected my husband’s application for a leave to remain and work in the UK visa, stating: “In regards to the care of your child you have provided no compelling evidence that her welfare in the UK could not be maintained to a sufficient level in the absence of your partner.”

Thus runs a petition we’ve received seeking another 20 thousand signatures to force a Parliamentary debate on the immorality of breaking up families purely on nationalistic grounds.

The letter further goes on to suggest impertinently that if the petitioner wishes to continue her teacher training unencumbered, she could foist the child onto her mother.

This is carrying conventional State-sanctioned abuse beyond parody. Britain is becoming more like Nazi Germany, worse perhaps Arizona, the nearer we draw to the final act of betrayal of our European partners.

Ausweise, bitte.

I’m wondering, not for the first time, why anyone in their right mind would want to live here? Certainly, if the Home Office were to offer me 100 thousand pounds to leave, I would happily make space for an immigrant, his or her dog and cat tomorrow.

Why Parliament needs to be forced to a debate on such an issue is a moot question.* It is only one of thousands of desperate injustices perpetrated by the cowardly bullies at the Home Office that have been coming to light since the ghastly Theresa May’s six-year regime there, that make us all thoroughly proud to be British. Mr John Crace, the parliamentary sketch writer of The Guardian, wittily dubbed Mrs May “The Maybot”. I suspect beneath the caricature of an automaton performing to a program he correctly senses her for what she is: a Frankenstein patchwork creature, a cypher without a soul.

That some deeply unpleasant little stamp-wallah – probably an immigrant themselves – should seek to split up a couple who have been legally married in the UK for eight years, the mother is British, the child is British – he is not a “partner” – who are merely seeking to confirm their residential status, and force the poor woman on to the barely exigent mercies of the State, which we had thought disapproves of unwed mothers, merely because her husband lacks the necessary piece of paper to stay with her, is an outrage – a bureaucratic crime, for which Mr Sajid Javed or whatever the name of the follically challenged son of a Pakistani bus driver is, should be arraigned before a properly constituted committee and his little brown balls torn off.

Although this case started, I suppose, under the auspices of his short-lived predecessor, the financial whizz Amber Rudd (see Private Eyes passim for enlightening information as regards her business dealings).

We laugh at the USA under the corrupt oaf, Trump, do we not, his vile prejudices and his heartless diktats, the licensed brutalities of his ICE immigration gestapo.

Are we any better?

These dreadful apparatchiks at the Home Office need to be prised from their brown faux-leather seats, to which they are stuck by some foul-smelling secretion,  and sent to a quite uncomfortable camp in the bleak Welsh countryside, to be “re-educated” in our decent, civilized, liberal British values.

What’s left of them.

*Yes, I know what a ‘moot’ is. It was a pun.

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GW: kickin’ up a storm

Once again it is necessary only to republish just the menu of video clips of extreme weather events around the world from the most recent issue of Climate and Extreme Weather News (#125, 05 June) to understand the gravity of the situation, so without apology:

Germany: Magdeburg, Schoningen, Betzdorf, Saarland, Soest & Gronau flash floods Belgium: Liege flash floods Luxembourg: Mullerthal & Waldbillig flash floods Austria: Burgenland floods France: Gougenheim & Morlaix flash floods Spain: Tordomar, Socovos & Antzuola flash floods Georgia: Rustavi flood Russia: Saransk & Kazan windstorms The USA: North Carolina flash floods & mudslides; The Ute Park Fire & The 416 Fire Guatemala: Retalhuleu flash flood Mexico: Heatwave India: Storms & floods Indonesia: Tolitoli flood China: Inner Mongolia wildfires & Hong Kong heatwave Malaysia: Penampang flood Yemen: Sanaa flash floods…

It goes on, and on.

USA: “Devastating wildfires have ripped through Durango, Colorado this weekend, burning more than 2,000 acres in a 24-hour period. Mandatory evacuations have been issued in the region after 1,900 homes are threatened by raging blaze.”

And a massive fire in Colfax County, New Mexico, had grown to 27,290 acres by Saturday morning and was 0% contained, according to InciWeb. Nearly 450 personnel were battling that fire. A mandatory evacuation order was in place for the town of Cimarron, where 296 structures were threatened by the blaze, called the Ute Park Fire, InciWeb said. CNN.

“Since 1970, the annual average number of wildfires larger than 1,000 acres has more than doubled in the western U.S. The typical wildfire season has also stretched by about two and a half months longer over that time. U.S. forests sucked up approximately 250 million metric tons of carbon in 2010, offsetting more than 15 percent of all of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions. Wildfires threaten to turn forests from a carbon sink into a source of emissions by releasing that stored carbon into the atmosphere.” – WX Shift.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has declared a state of emergency in eight counties affected by flooding from heavy rains. National Weather Service Charleston, WV, said that saturated soils and continued rainfall are leading to flash and other forms of flooding across the West Virginia mountains, adding that “this is a life threatening situation for many folks who have had their fill of rain.”

Two massive storm systems have merged over the Texas/Louisiana coast, and there’s a potential Cat 3 hurricane brewing (from weather-watcher, MrMBB333). “An American Airlines plane was forced to make an emergency landing Sunday night in El Paso, Texas, after a hailstorm damaged the windshield. One of the pilots said they could barely see as Flight 1897 flew into the storms in southern New Mexico before having to turn around.” (The Weather Channel) (Actually a photo shows the damage was to the nosecone, which contains the navigation equipment, and was largely missing.)

In Mexico, a heatwave has reportedly hit 50 deg. C (122F) with temperatures persisting in the high 40s over five states, although across the country May as a whole was not the hottest on record; unlike El Norte, where May turned out more than 5 deg. F. above the 20th century average for the contiguous United States.

Guatemala: as if the devastating eruption of Mt Fuego, causing hundreds of casualties, was not enough, there’s also been flash flooding in the city of Retalhuleu after torrential rain. At the site of the volcano, the thick ash deposit that has buried whole villages is turning to concrete in the rain.

France: “Parts of Eure department in Normandy recorded 70 mm of rain during the night, 04 to 05 June. AFP reports that a man was found dead, drowned in his vehicle in Piseux, Eure department earlier today. This is the second major flood event in France in the last 2 days. A storm that hit Brittany caused severe flooding. Fire and emergency crews were called out to over 450 incidents, over half of them in the town of Morlaix. Social media showed flood water raging through the streets (after) around a month’s worth of rain fell in less than an hour. The Jarlot river that runs through Morlaix reached its highest ever level.” (edited from Floodlist report)

Spain: “Torrential rain in parts of southern Spain from 02 to 03 June caused severe flooding in Valencia, Albacete and Murcia provinces. 116.8 mm of rain fell on Valencia in 24 hours. Roads and tunnels were flooded and transport severely disrupted. Firefighters rescued 3 people trapped in their car in rising flood water. In the province of Albacete, El Gallego recorded 180 mm of rain in 24 hours, according to local observers. (edited from Floodlist report)

Bulgaria: Over 70 mm of rain fell in 24 hours (04 June) in the port city of Varna on the Black Sea coast, flooding streets and causing severe traffic disruption. “…the city would normally see 46 mm of rain during the whole of June.” (from Floodlist)

Russia: the cities of Saransk and Kazan have been hit by ferocious windstorms ripping off roofs and overturning cars. Siberian Times (22 May) reports 40 injured in “hurricane-force winds – worst-hit were Chelyabinsk, Kurgan and Yekaterinburg in the Urals, with Tyumen suffering a spectacular sandstorm.” Temperatures in the north have been in the high 20s C (79 F). Reports from the former Soviet state of Tajikistan on the Afghan border say that 6 people drowned in floods and mudslides in late May after torrential rain – the third such incident since 2015.

Siberian Times also reports on the mystery deaths of “thousands” of reindeer in Yamalo-Nenets (“an area twice the size of Germany”). The proximate cause appears to be rain falling on frozen ground and snowfields, coating their forage in ice, so that they starve; however an underlying reason may be a pandemic caused by anthrax spores released by the summer melting of the permafrost.

India: 17 people have been killed in the state of Uttar Pradesh after more wind and dust storms brought on by the intense heat caused houses and trees to collapse. The death toll from these storms in northern India has reached 150 since 01 May. In the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram at least 10 people died when a building was swept away by a landslide triggered by heavy rains. … “a flash flood on 03 June washed away a temporary bridge over the river Tuirini in the northern part of Aizawl district, cutting off 37 villages.” (Floodlist, citing Times of India)

China: 4 thousand draftees have been battling up to 14 wildfires that broke out in primeval mountain forest in Mongolia on 01 June, caused by lightning strikes and fanned by hot, dry winds. Hong Kong has received more heat advisories after beating a previous record of 13 consecutive days over 33 deg. C, 91F. Two storms brewing in the S China sea are expected to ‘blow away’ the heat over the weekend.

Vietnam: “at least” 1 person has died and properties have been damaged by heavy rain causing flooding and landslides as Tropical Cyclone Ewinar passes over the country. Warnings are out for several southerly Chinese provinces. Thousands of hectares of rice crops are again disrupted by flooding. (from Floodlist, 07 June, citing official sources.)

CEWN #125/ Floodlist/

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Fantasy fiction

Writing on the possible collapse of the “carbon bubble” – a phrase implying the rapid withdrawal of investment in fossil fuels – Fiona Harvey, “Environment correspondent” for The Guardian, informs us that:

“Separately, an analysis in Nature Energy forecast that global energy demand would be about 40% lower than today by 2050, despite rises in population and income, and a growing global economy. The authors found that such a scenario would allow the world to stay within 1.5C of warming, the aspirational goal set under the Paris agreement.”

It’s going to have to be a good trick, that, since we are already at well over 1.5 degrees of warming and there is scant possibility that the present civilizational paradigm can hold together in the face of growing food insecurity and rising temperatures until 2050, always assuming the worst predictions of the Extinction 2030 group of scientists haven’t already happened by then.

The necessary preconditions for 8 to 10 degrees of warming are already in place, cannot be reversed, and such an outcome is not survivable by a population of, by then, 10 billion people, all demanding food, protection from pandemics and a higher standard of living with a “growing economy”. There is little prospect either of rising incomes, that in general have not progressed since the financial crash – another may be imminent.

Analysts who write absurd papers like that require psychiatric help.

 

Happy landings

Hawaii: Kilaueia’s vast caldera is reportedly collapsing under its own weight, at a rate of 5 ft a day, into the void left by its magma draining out underground, still popping up in people’s gardens 25 miles away as mass evacuations take place. More earthquakes have rocked the even huger Mt Mauna Loa to the north, the world’s largest active volcano, but these have now stopped (05 June) Good sign? A new cone is forming on the side of Pu’u o’o. Big Island has experienced over 4 thousand earthquakes since the eruptions began last month.

Still on a geological tack, there’s more activity at Mt St Helen’s in Washington State, where 64 people were killed in a devastating eruption in 1980. The magma dome inside the crater is starting to rise again.

Yellowstone: the Steamboat geyser went off again at the weekend, the 9th eruption this year – previous annual record 3, in 2003. Webcam at Old Faithful geyser viewing point shaking violently with earth tremors. (Mary Greeley)

And Mount Fire (Fuego) in Guatemala erupted without warning on Sunday, killing possibly “dozens” of villagers on its slopes; enough, that is, to feature on the news; while ‘Dutchsinse’, the St Louis-based amateur geologist with an 80% or better record of predicting the locations and size of earthquakes, has drawn attention to the unusual number of magnitude 5 earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in virtually all the “usual” locations around the Pacific rim including California and New Zealand, and a cluster of deep M3 or larger quakes around the Aegean running through Turkey into Iran, portending possibly larger activity to come.

Express/ CNN/ Dutchsinse/ BBC News/ Floodlist/

The Pumpkin – Issue 38: The disruptors have won. Mr Putin has won… Theft… Is Donald Trump an idiot? Don’t answer that!… GW: The war on cars.

“Okay boys, drinks are on the House!” Senator Hatch contemplates his bank balance as the Great Republican Tax Heist finally passes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Asked about the meetings, Kassam said: “Brexit and the election of President Trump were inextricably linked…” – Guardian, 02 Dec.

So it’s official. Russian and US interference – dark-money for Leave.EU, data-mining and manipulation, microtargeting of floating voters, whatever – helped to bring about the current political disaster unfolding in Downing Street as ruling Conservative politicians tear one another to pieces over the shape Britain’s rapidly approaching exit from the EU should take, and who should seize power when that happens.

The disruptors have won.

Mr Putin has won.

“Kassam” is Raheen Kassam, editor of the UK edition of the Breitbart News website. He was speaking after meetings he had set up in a London hotel between Victorian revivalist Tory pretender, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Stephen K Bannon, the partly-ousted senior policy advisor to President Trump and founding global editor of Breitbart, a far-right, Islamophobic media outlet and pressure group.

If some holy alliance has been mooted or agreed over tea and cakes, a “bone china” accord, it is a terrifying prospect for liberal democracy.

Both Mr Bannon and Mr Mogg, who bids for the leadership of the governing party in Britain, are staunch Roman Catholics, Opus Dei supporters who oppose the spread of Islam through mass migration; oppose women’s and minority rights; promote extreme free-market ideology, and have no apparent concern for those it leaves behind.

Mr Mogg, the Pumpkin believes, further advocates more economic austerity, immediate withdrawal from the EU without reaching any agreements on free movement of goods, imposition of customs barriers, removal of common product standards and residential rights for those EU citizens already in Britain and British citizens abroad, heedless of Irish pleas that there should be no hard border; while reneging on our longterm debt obligations.

Mr Bannon further states openly that his intention is to surgically excise whole tiers of government administration and oversight bodies, abolish all taxes and consumer and environmental protections, halt all migration, defeat Islam by military force, marginalize ethnic minorities and impose a benign form of rule by white Christian billionaires. Failing which, he welcomes Armaggeddon: the End Times.

Also present at the meetings was Nigel Farage, founder of the now shambolic and discredited UKIP “independence” party, which campaigned on the single issue of reducing immigration by virtue of withdrawal from accords requiring member states to allow free movement of all citizens to work and reside within EU borders, and the repatriation of settled EU migrants, regardless of the effect on our already stagnant and unproductive economy.

The irony being that the policy would largely affect Polish, Romanian and Hungarian migrant workers from EU member states closest to Russia, administrations that are openly and defiantly white nativist, anti-migrant and anti-Islam, fully in line with British Nationalist aspirations as exploited by Mr Farage and his ilk.

A go-between for the Trump campaign and Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, Mr Farage is another free-market ideologue, a member of the European Parliament who has successfully sponged for years off the fruits of the European Union while calling for its destruction. All three of these monstrous plotting men seeking to replace democracy by a corporate elite are millionaires. Only the ex-naval officer and producer of flaky propaganda films, Bannon has ever done a day’s work in his life, the others being privately educated stockjobbers, panel-show guests and money-manipulators with inherited wealth.

This smells very bad, for two reasons.

One, the anti-democratic corporate takeover of the United States is almost complete. Last night under pressure from heavy backers such as the multi-billionaire coalmining Koch brothers, Republican senators voted through Trump’s so-called tax “reform” bill, which will see average taxes on the lower-paid increase by up to ten percent while giving $1.4 trillion in tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest 0.1 per cent of individuals. It has been estimated that the Trump family alone will benefit by a billion dollars over ten years as the national debt increases.

Two, Trump revealed his true colors over last weekend with a series of unfortunate tweets in which he put the interests of promoting a tiny but virulently racist neo-Nazi group, Britain First, above maintaining good relations with a key American ally in the fight against extremism of all persuasions, retweeting three demonstrably fake videos purporting to show Muslims abusing or murdering white Christians to his millions of dumbfuck followers. As a result, Britain First and its poisonous leader, the distinctly foreign-sounding Jayda Fransen, have massively increased their global Twitter following.

When mildly rebuked by the British Prime Minister, demented Tweety-Pie snapped back that she should focus on combating Islamic terrorism. Mrs May, who spent six years at the Home Office as the minister in charge of anti-terrorist operations, where she imposed a surveillance state, border controls and immigration rules that make Trump’s look like a drive-through, is thus caught in yet another bind. Her visibly inept and clownish Brexit withdrawal team is desperate not to upset relations with the USA in the wholly misguided and naive belief that on leaving the EU we will negotiate a favorable trade deal with our “special relations” across the water.

(Their other misguided belief, obviously, is that Trump will still be in office by 2019.)

They should understand that US politics has moved way beyond that. Exsurgent corporate America will demand terms little short of economic slavery, leading to the almost certain privatizations, or US-ifications, of our cash-cows like the National Health Service, education, communications, bursting prisons and transport, with full tax-free repatriation of profits, reversion to minimal product safety standards and supremacy of the American courts.

But they won’t, until it is too late.

And now it probably is.

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Benito Mussolini’s definition of fascism was that it was the perfect alignment of State, church and corporate interests.

Theft

As The Pumpkin has argued, there is no rule of human existence that says a man cannot at one and the same time be an overgrown spoilt brat deprived of parental love, a feckless pussy-grabbing playboy, a bullying thug, a compulsive liar, a ruthlessly self-interested financial operator with connections to organized crime both in the USA and Russia, a compromised net debtor to many foreign banks, a delusionary narcissistic psychopath given to violent rages, petty personal vendettas, violent sexual and militaristic fantasies, AND be in the early stages of senile dementia.

All of those are possibly simultaneous characteristics of any US President elected on a minority vote, provided he is old, corrupt, stupid and mad enough.

It is not a criticism to say those things, but a humanitarian observation. It is not necessary to be a qualified doctor or psychiatrist to know empathically that here is a soul in torment. Pushing aside the layers of anger and loathing expressed against Trump by, now, quite a large majority of Americans, it is possible to pity the man and to see that he is mentally tortured, desperately in need of help, struggling to carry on – yet no-one is daring to offer help because his illness will not allow him to understand that he needs it; and he has absolute power over them.

Clearly, the pressures of an office he was disastrously unfitted to carry out in the first place, promoting himself through his overweening ego and manipulated effectively as a dimwitted sock-puppet by evil disruptors plotting the downfall of American democracy, combined with the remorseless grind of a legal mincing-machine known as Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigations into Trump’s financial dealings and probable collusion with Russia to manipulate the electoral process draw ever closer to the Oval Office, are tipping Mr Trump mentally into the abyss.

Aside from a tiny coterie of terrified loyalists on his staff, true believers in the “alternative truths” peddled by their increasingly delusionary and out-of-control Commander-in-Chief, those tarred with his sticky brush, there is now not one White House staffer close to the President, not one Republican congressman or woman on the Hill, who does not nervously joke with colleagues and even whisper to journalists that the President is mentally unstable and growing worse by the day.

He has greeted the passage of the tax bill – his first major piece of legislation passed in nearly a year – with a tweet crowing – in total contradiction to what many independent tax experts and oversight bodies are saying – that the cuts will benefit middle-class and poorer working Americans and drive the economy forward; while he himself will lose out, a blatant lie and one that contrasts oddly with his previous claim that paying no income tax for 18 years makes him “smart”….

The only problem being, the poorer you are, the less it will benefit you over time. A 15% cut in corporation tax (and no more double-tax on overseas profits) is meaningless as few corporations pay the full rate anyway; the average is just 5%, so that now means a zero rate. Many CEOs and CFOs have clearly stated that they do not intend to spend their windfall on employing more Americans. And a clause removing the obligation to buy heavily subsidized health insurance under Obamacare will mean much more expensive premiums for 13 million Americans, before the even more destructive “Trumpcare” bill has even returned to the House.

We are living in awfully dangerous times.

When will those moral imbeciles, those yellow-streaked, venal cowards in the Republican party get a grip on the situation? Only, perhaps, once they have guaranteed themselves and their wealthy corporate backers untold riches, by finally voting through a huge increase in the national debt to grant one another the tax breaks they have convinced themselves that they need and deserve.

There’s a word for that.

Theft.

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“It seems that as the news cycle has rolled around inexorably, Mr Trump is having difficulty remembering anything that happened a few months ago.”

Is Donald Trump an idiot? Don’t answer that!

Mr Trump is well known among the US progressive TV and/or libtard snowflake online commentariat for often saying or tweeting things that, while being defensive of his positions or blame-shifting and accusing others, tend only to incriminate himself.

It is as if, after years of getting away with borderline criminal behaviour and worse, he wants to be caught and punished. In his Macbeth-like madness, the mantle of guilt is weighing heavy on him. His mind is disintegrating.

There can surely be no finer example than his latest claim, that he knew perfectly well that Gen Michael Flynn had lied, not only to Vice-President Anusol, but also to the FBI, about his furtive Russian contacts at the time he fired him; and that Flynn had done nothing illegal. (Apart from negotiating foreign policy with an external power while not officially in office.)

Begging the question, if (in his untutored opinion) Flynn had done nothing illegal, then a) why would he have lied about his many meetings with Russians (including Putin) and the fees he earned from doing PR work for Kremlin interests, and b) why did Trump therefore have to fire him and then blame Comey? The conclusion surely has to be, does it not, that Flynn was protecting Mr Trump, until Trump panicked at ‘fake news’ reports in the failing New York Times and threw him under the bus.

It seems that as the news cycle has rolled around inexorably, Mr Trump is having difficulty remembering anything that happened a few months ago. As indeed is most of the media, US allies worldwide and the stunned public.

Let it not be forgotten that Flynn was allowed to continue attending meetings for which he required the highest security clearance for 18 days after Trump was informed for the third time that his National Security Adviser had lied about meetings with Russians, before he was fired. And that during that time, Flynn appears to have been in charge of a black-bag project to trace potentially damaging emails allegedly missing from Mrs Clinton’s files. Emails brought to Mr Trump’s son’s attention by the Kremlin lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at a meeting on 9 June whose purpose Trump lied about to protect Moron Jr.

Who ordered Flynn to do that?

Mr Trump has clearly not understood that a) he needs to leave it to his legal team to put out these sorts of communications, because Trump has essentially just implicated himself in Gen Flynn’s federal crime of lying to the FBI. He should just shut up about it, but it’s not in his nature to not eventually incriminate himself; and b) it is a federal crime to withold evidence of a crime from the FBI and so he should immediately on discovering it have told FBI Director Comey about Flynn having lied, instead of asking Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn and then firing both of them – opening himself to a charge of obstructing justice.

Mr Trump is now in deep trouble.

He has repeatedly tried to shift the blame for Flynn’s appointment onto President Obama, claiming that Flynn had gained his top security clearance while working under the Obama presidency and so he had no reason to suspect that when not only Obama himself, but the then-deputy Attorney-General Sally Yates, someone else he just had to fire, frequently tried to warn him not to take on Flynn, that they were being serious.

Mr Trump is forgetting, to put it charitably, that President Obama had himself fired Flynn on the advice of the intelligence services that Flynn presented a security risk; yet despite that, and the direct warnings he was given, he insisted on appointing him to the top security job. A Russian agent! Why? Was it better to have Flynn inside, pissing out? Or was there an element of obligation to a Moscow anxious for a deal to relieve sanctions?

So now it transpires that Flynn’s role may have been more commercial than just getting sanctions on Putin’s cronies lifted: even as Trump was delivering his apocalyptically insane “American carnage” inaugural address, Flynn was, it seems, texting a Russian contact over a joint deal to build nuclear power stations in the Middle East, from which, the texts suggest, “everyone” involved was going to make a shedload of money.

The FBI and the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller, have now got probably the most complete picture possible of what Mr Trump knew, and when he knew it. They have rewarded Gen. Flynn with a single charge, of lying to the FBI, to which he has already pleaded guilty and so cannot attract a presidential pardon.

And Mr Trump has walked straight into the trap with his silly bluster: “Of course I knew… what do you take me for, an idiot?”

Don’t answer that.

x

Is the weather trying to tell us something?

GW: the war on cars

Your Granny Weatherwax has had her specs on, scouring YouTube in vain for any sign of #85, latest anticipated episode of the continuing series of wild weather reports from an invaluable website, Climate & Extreme Weather News, published by a group calling itself Understanding Climate Change.

It’s days overdue and we’re worried something might have happened to it.

GW freely and cheerfully admits to pillaging said site (fully credited, of course) among others, for interesting tidbits of news regarding the end of everything. While not fully verified, nevertheless the bulletins published about twice a week and running to about 50 minutes consist mainly of unedited citizen-journalist cameraphone footage and sometimes linguistically incomprehensible local TV news reports and press cuttings from flood-and-fire, tornado and hurricane-stricken zones around the world, minimally captioned and with no commentary.

It is, to be frank, deeply depressing – not to say highly alarming – viewing material. But someone has to do it, so you don’t have to.

Pulling up a YouTube page just now, filtering only CEWN content, GW was struck by something about the column of illustrative thumbnail photos when seen as a group.

For they mostly appear to show cars.

Cars battling through floodwaters; cars floating away, spinning balletically down roads turned to mighty rushing torrents; cars parked forlornly with water up to their rooftops, emergency lights flashing, alarms warbling like strange water creatures; cars crushed beneath fallen trees and pylons; cars buried in mud; cars stranded in heaps of mangled metal, perched surreally on top of buildings – lifted atop other cars, in a faintly obscene parody of a bestial mating ritual.

GW further notes that surprisingly many of the residents of even the poorest villages and shoddy, unkempt uptown suburbs of second-world cities getting pounded by huge hailstones, blitzed by lightning or half-buried in mudslides seem to own a relatively modern car nowadays: there are 1.2 billion private cars in the world, I’m told.

Pity the insurance industry! (not really. Ed.). It is as if the weather is waging war especially on cars, that in their multitudinous outpouring of carbon and other greenhouse gases (your car emits 4.5 tonnes of CO2 annually) have helped in no small measure to bring about the crisis of climate chaos we’re facing.

Just an observation.

Just sayin’.

Massive storms follow 3 weeks of spring heatwave in the Melbourne area.

Australia: Superstorm warning for SE Australia. After an unprecedented November heatwave, a huge blocking system stalled off the coast of SE Australia is producing a “major weather event” as violent thunderstorms dump torrential rain (up to 300 mm in 36 hours) and cause flooding in almost all of Victoria state. Forecaster Scott Williams, from the Bureau of Meteorology, said thunderstorms developing over western Victoria yesterday evening (30 Nov) would move to other parts overnight. “Those thunderstorms will gradually all weld into a massive, great rain band, (with large hailstones and ‘damaging’ winds) and that band will spread down across the state on Friday night and Saturday morning,” he said. “This is a vast, intense, high-impact event for this state. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a deep low form over Victoria whilst we’ve got this moisture around.”

Update, 02 Dec: “Several major events have been cancelled including Melbourne’s outdoor Christmas market.  Numerous flight delays and cancellations, with Melbourne Airport urging travellers to check for changes. So far there have been more than 800 calls for assistance amid rising floodwaters in several Melbourne suburbs. During the Friday evening rush hour train lines and roads were lashed while major stations were sandbagged to protect them from flooding.” Freeways and roads … are underwater as forecasters anticipate a “significant flooding event”. “A landslide has caused traffic congestion on the Great Ocean Road, about 6km south of Wye River…” (Edited from reports)

Indonesia: 19 dead as TS Sempaka brings floods and landslides to east Java. Houses destroyed in Pacitan. Extensive new flooding has left roads 1m deep underwater in Riau, Sumatra, cutting off 800 residents.

USA: Mount Vernon, Seattle, (24 Nov) the Skagit river bursts its banks after ‘worse than expected’ rainfall brought in by the Pacific ‘atmospheric river’ system.

Argentina: Rio Cuarto battered by sudden violent storm (24 Nov). Flash flooding, cyclonic wind, golfball-size hailstones. Watch CEWN #84 at 30′.50″ as an idiot tries to set off on his motorbike in 2ft-deep fast-flowing water, has to be rescued; more idiots swim for fun down street turned to rushing river. (Not yet seen anyone actually surfing a brown wave, only a matter of time…)

Peru: Cajamarca, torrential rain floods town, streets flowing with muddy ‘red tide’ washes cars away.

It’s not cricket! Sri Lankan players stop for a breather… (AP)

India:  “A Test match between India and Sri Lanka was repeatedly interrupted on 3 Dec with claims players were “continuously vomiting” due to hazardous pollution levels in the Indian capital. Commentators said it was the first recorded instance of an international match being halted due to the toxic smog that afflicts much of north India year-round but worsens to hazardous levels during winter months. Airborne pollution levels (were measured at) 15 times the World Health Organisation safe limit.”

Sri Lanka:At least 13 people have died, 1 missing and 61 injured in Sri Lanka since 29 November, 2017 after severe weather including strong winds and heavy rain brought by Cyclone Ockhi. According to the country’s Disaster Management Centre, as of 02 December more than 106,000 people in 16 districts across the country had been affected.”

 

General outlook: thanks to the broken Arctic jetstream and weak La Niña,  two polar vortices are sitting far down in the northern hemisphere, one over Europe and one over eastern parts of America, with temperatures well below normal and heavy snowfall. Elsewhere, at the same latitudes ‘heatwave’ conditions are persisting into December. The temperature north of the Arctic circle in Western Greenland is still 6.9 deg. C. above freezing, causing melt conditions.

May wins: Election Special. Plus: Striking a blow for intelligent pensioners everywhere. And: The Guardian – Hell hath no fury like a 50-year-loyal reader scorned.

“I have accepted in the interests of national unionism that the earth is strong, stable – and completely flat.”

 

“…if they rumble me, already at 34 a lifelong Labour voter, I could end up as several trays full of bleeding, raw-meat canapés…”

Election Special

Three words I never imagined I would hear in my lifetime:

“Labour wins Kensington”.

This election has thrown up many wild surmises and strange portents, but the idea that one of the country’s wealthiest boroughs should in a thousand years by a majority of 20 votes have elected a Labour politician to represent it, the posh part of London where indeed your Uncle Bogler first drew breath and shortly afterwards inhaled his first Capstan Full Strength, is possibly the most unexpected.

I can only conclude that so much property has been flogged off at inflated prices to UHNW (Ultra-high net worth) foreigners laundering their ill-gotten gains, Qataris and so forth, that their much put-upon housekeepers, bored chauffeurs and window-box trimmers are the only ones actually living in Kensington during the week, who are eligible to vote.

I recall, indeed who could ever forget, being invited to an election-night party at the Knightsbridge cottage home of Lord St Aubyn, an old school chum of my stepfather’s.

It was 1984, and Mrs Thatcher was in the process of securing a resounding majority from a nation grateful for her torpedoing of the Argentinian capital ship, the General Belgrano, with the loss of hundreds of young lives, in a cowardly attack while it was steaming away from the Falkland Islands.

The tiny house – more of a pied à terre – was packed with identical-looking 30-something city boys wearing identical striped Jermyn Street shirts and red braces, their identically self-satisfied, blue-jowled faces flushed with champagne and the smell of power.

“They set up a terrible baying noise”

Each time the TV anchors announced another Conservative gain, they set up a terrifying animal baying noise and stamped their Gucci loafers like rutting stags. Rare news of Labour MPs clinging on to their traditional heartland seats produced a low, threatening rumble of hatred, boos and howls of derision – cries of ‘out with the smellysocks!’.

It was clear these Masters of the Universe were historically unaware of where their money had come from in the first place.

After about forty minutes of this I thought, God, if they rumble me, already at 34 a lifelong Labour voter, I could end up as several trays full of bleeding, raw-meat canapés, and fled into the chilly March night.

I don’t recall that Lord St Aubyn received a thank-you note from me, rude I know, but ever since that awful night when the scales finally fell from my eyes, I have hoped (in the Trumpian sense) to someday witness the beautiful sight of a Tory MP dangling from every lamp-post in Whitehall.

x

“…I feel I have as much right to satirise the Golden Orb as anyone sipping cocktails in libtard snowflake Manhattan…”

 Too much of a coincidence

The election has been a satisfying victory for we conspiracy theorists.

Who would have dreamed last Thursday that Her Majesty’s Government would end up as the hostage of a tiny bunch of incomprehensible flat-earthers from Belfast?

Clearly, some hidden hand is engineering all these close-run things producing political turmoil around the world?

It is surely not a coincidence that the US Congress has found itself since last November in a similar situation, a minority government dominated by wealthy loonies who believe the world was created in six days and global warming will be fixed by God.

If you haven’t been keeping as close an eye as I have on the incredible events in America – perhaps you’ve not yet retired, I can recommend it – you will not for instance have heard Senator Mark Green of Tennessee defending the disastrous Trumpcare health bill, that on independent analysis threatens to deprive 23 million of the poorer sort of person of their affordable medical insurance while putting $ billions more in the pockets of the wealthiest, whitest 1 per cent.

Sen. Green’s thesis is that the poor don’t need health insurance because Jesus will take care of them. If they have insurance, he argues, they will be less inclined to go to church and pray for salvation; consequently if they get sick it’s their fault.

I assure you he is not the only Republican to express similar sentiments.

Indeed, we find Republican administrations all over the country emboldened by the election of President Trump to pass barbarically regressive legislation, for instance criminalizing the popular protest that is protected by the First Amendment.

Lawmakers in Elk Bend, Minnesota were forced to flee the building after passing a law enabling the county to arrest and charge protestors for the costs of policing demonstrations against themselves; such that had forced them to flee the building. In Washington, a GOP lawmaker recently introduced a bill that would consider protesters to be domestic terrorists (salon.com). North Carolina is hoping to make any kind of public protest illegal, Tennessee having already tried to pass a law protecting car drivers from prosecution if they accidentally run over and kill a protestor blocking the street.

Now, we all know that 97 per cent of the population of Tennessee wake up every morning in their coonskin caps to find themselves still living in the seventeenth century. They can count their lucky stars and stripes on the seven fingers of each hand for Jesus’ love and mercy every day of their blessed lives, and look forward to another sunny afternoon burning witches, scalping injuns, defending the Alamo and marrying their first cousins.

Draining the Swamp: Mr Trump goes to Wall Street.

But this is now the tradition proclaiming Trump as the Great Reformer, returning the US and indeed the world to the era of commonsense, no-nonsense, working-class, outdoorsy American exceptionalism; a viewpoint that is one thousand percent flat-out contradicted by everything the man has said and done since he bullshitted his way into office on a minority vote, appointed five Goldman Sachs executives to his otherwise oil-soaked cabinet and set about lighting a bonfire under every piece of socially progressive legislation that has ever helped the ‘common man’ survive the heartless brutalities of the ruling elite; while drilling the hell out of their cherished monument lands.

(There are currently moves to permit uranium mining in the Grand Canyon and fracking under formerly protected national parks. EcoWatch reports that the federal government is privately subsidizing with taxpayers’ money the already vastly wealthy fossil-fuel bidness to the tune of $700 billion a year.)

America: land of living history

Living in so many time-zones, America must indeed be a strange place. I’ve never been there, never had a desire to go there, but unlike President Trump I am in a very small sense a US taxpayer. I have an IRS number, thanks to a residual trust fund set up by the great-grandfather I never met, whose Irish daughter from Delaware married my gold-digging English paternal grandfather.

Consequently though with every word I write I drift further away from ever being allowed entry via General Kelly’s closing homeland security gates, I feel I have as much right to satirise the Golden Orb as anyone sipping cocktails in libtard snowflake Manhattan or snarfing at their own jokes and cynically milking the witless audience whooping it up on one of those terrible late-night ‘comedy’ shows.

While from the safety of distance I have observed pithily on the subject of time-zones that America has 21st-century technology, mid-20th-century infrastructure, a 19th-century political system, 18th-century justice and 17th-century religious beliefs, based on a 16th-century sense of entitlement to steal anybody else’s land in the name of God and the Crown.

Living history, indeed.

It seems too much of a coincidence, as I say, given events in the USA, that Theresa May has delivered her political agenda into the clutches of a tiny handful of politicians belonging to a minority party founded by that monstrous, bellowing bigot, the Revd Ian Paisley*.

As does the Republican-controlled Congress, so do DUP members of Parliament include proclaimed anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriage, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Catholic, climate-change denying, alt-right fundamentalist Christian Bible truthers and six-day creationists (to be taught in schools, etc….).

Most importantly, they demand the return of loyalists’ right to have a British Union flag flying provocatively over Belfast City Hall – one of the most contentious issues of recent times. A campaign strangely reflected in the recent controversy over flying the Confederate flag and displaying the statues of heroic slave-owning Civil War generals in darkest Alabama.

You see where this has to go?

But at least the minority of DUP followers voted to Leave the EU, unlike the rest of the population of Northern Ireland, so that’s alright.

Strong and stable, then. Not a coalition of chaos.

*We do not forget, however, ‘Dr’ Paisley’s remarkable late-life conversion and friendship with the late Martin McGuinness, former commander of the Provisional IRA.

The flat-earth society awaits the arrival of the mothership.

A time of contradictions

Someone who will no doubt be delighted by this happy turn of events is Mr Jim Dowson.

The Pumpkin has previously commented at length, based on various press and webnews reports, on the activities of this Belfast-born, DUP-supporting, refugee-hunting, alt-right Christian ‘millionaire’ disruptor, who applied his US Patriot News website last year to helping secure both victory for Donald Trump and the Brexit vote – as he believes.

‘Now where did I put my pen?’ Mr Biros Johnson, author of ‘The Idiot’s Guide to Managing Stationery’.

Although Mr Dowson will be disappointed that thanks to significant Tory gains over the Scottish National Party he has been unable to secure a second independence referendum for Scotland, another of his disruptive ambitions, nevertheless Mrs May seems fixed on course for the ‘hard Brexit’ he has campaigned for (ie total economic separation from Europe and an end to EU immigration).

Assuming, that is, she survives the attempts by Boris Johnson, Michael Fallon, Amber Rudd and others to replace her as leader, there being no creature as feral as a Tory scenting blood-loss.

It is of course a time of contradictions, where the old left-right political certainties no longer hold. There is a problem with hard Brexit, specifically in Ireland, where the DUP is in fact supporting the idea of a ‘soft border’; a ‘harder border’ with the Republic would undoubtedly lead to a return to smuggling, gang warfare, IRA violence, Loyalist violence and the complete breakdown of the already fragile Good Friday agreement.

Mr Dowson might not mind that. As described on Wikipedia, in 2012 he co-founded the Protestant Coalition, described as an ‘anti-politics party’, in the wake of which there were violent demonstrations over the vote in Stormont to ban any flags from being flown over City Hall:

“Dowson, a Christian fundamentalist, also led an anti-abortion campaign, the UK Life League. In May 2011 he and (Paul) Golding had launched a new far-right, nationalist movement in Britain, Britain First, to protect “British and Christian morality” and campaign against Islam, immigration and abortion.

Dowson left Britain First, apparently feeling that burning mosques was ‘un-Christian’. At the same time there was some interest in his fundraising activities.

Nevertheless he has been videoed supposedly supplying equipment by night to a party of Bulgarian neo-Nazis hunting down Syrian refugees along the border. His Budapest office is home to his self-styled ‘Knights of Malta’ group, as well as to former BNP leader, Nick Griffin; the Knights’ funding, it’s reported, comes in part from Konstantin Malofeyev, a deeply conservative nationalist oligarch who is a patron of the Russian Orthodox church and yet another ‘spiritual advisor’ to President Putin.

So there’s plenty to feed your conspiracy theories there, guys.

Get to it!

x

Who guards the Guardian?

There are two kinds of people, aren’t there. People who read a newspaper because it reinforces their deepest prejudices, and people who read one because they love a bloody good argument before breakfast.

Were I entirely in the latter category, I should purchase a paper copy of the Daily Mail every day, however I don’t. I have an aversion to people who use words like ‘purchase’. The Daily Mail reinforces my deepest prejudice against the middle class, and against the half-human child-eating succubus who edits the paper on a salary of nearly £2 million a year.

Instead, I’ve been a Guardian reader for almost 50 years.

Much of the time I do it because of the pain it causes me. Guardian writers are so fucking smug. Yet their suburban university-educated liberal opinions broadly sit alongside and seldom disturb my own rather more furious vision of the world. I find them trustworthy on facts, anyway, whatever the angle.

Of course, I stopped buying the printed paper version several years ago, while trying simultaneously to give up drinking a bottle of wine every night. I came back to the online version, which is for now at least paywall-free (why call it a ‘paywall’, like something Donald Trump would insanely demand Mexico should pay for? Of course no-one is going to pay for something that prevents them from enjoying it. Call it a ‘special offer’ or something.)

However, I am getting sick and tired of The Guardian‘s prejudice against me.

Here, for instance, is Zoe Williams pontificating sonorously on the election outcome, having invented a new word, ‘subliminating’:

“It is entirely right that, one day, someone would have the genius idea of putting something in a manifesto that actually offered something to the under-60s. We have had decades of decisions made in the interests of the older voter, which have locked the young out of everything, from housing in their own country to the freedom to move to a better one.”

You see? I’m the one who’s been prevented by ignorant and deluded middle-class Daily Mail readers from moving to a better country by their grossly irresponsible, shortsighted and selfish action in voting to drag Britain out of the EU, preferring to transfer our precious ‘sovereignty’ to Boris fucking Kerfuffle Johnson.

Yet for the past year The Guardian has been moaning lazily in cliche-ridden article after cliche-ridden article that, because I’m in my late 60s, while squatting in toadlike isolation in my £1 million, five-bedroomed house and forcing my children to flip burgers to pay exorbitant rent for living in my wine cellar, I must have voted Leave and screwed it up for everyone younger.

Of course I bloody didn’t, and I don’t know anyone here of my own generation who did. What do you think, we’re stupid or something?

Fuck you.

I’m the one who can’t now risk selling up and retiring abroad as I’d been planning, to teach, paint, make music and live on flavourful ripe tomatoes, bread and artisanal cheese and rough red wine, in case I get chucked back out again.

Not only that, but here on the BogPo I was warning as long ago as 2013 that we were heading for the brink of the White fucking Cliffs of Dover. Did you take any notice, bloody Guardian? No, you just sailed on smugly imagining no self-respecting Islingtonians could possibly take issue with your remote-viewing psychic analysis of the state of the nation.

Then for a year after the disaster of the referendum your failed sociologists and Sir Simon Jenkins have wasted thousands of column-inches wringing your liberal hands over the poor misunderstood middle-class and desperately trying to work out what’s gone wrong with the nation when the fish-porters of Sunderland are able to pervert the course of the future?

Wankers.

Yet day after day The Guardian‘s well-paid columnistas continue to drip this ageist poison into the ears of the millennial libtard readership (that’s the second millennium, not the first, which I remember so fondly) whom they are hoping to cultivate beyond the inevitable paywall, insinuating – nay, declaiming that it’s the elderly who are responsible for their economic misery.

Bollocks to that, frankly.

On the one hand you have the Mail, edited by the bullying chauvinist son of a military service-shirker who, unlike Ralph Miliband, sat out the war in New York quaffing champagne with movie stars, blaming it all on the immigrants.

On the other, is The Guardian persuading my 20-something children by my second marriage that euthanasing the old man with the tiny house in the thundering outskirts of a busy seaside town and paying off his retirement mortgage is the only solution to their economic woes.

Well.

Guardian readers who are increasingly confronted with heartbreaking messages about supporting free journalism with voluntary (for now) subscriptions and cash donations, and who may have read with alarm that the title lost £69 million last year and is treating its journalists as if they worked for Sports Direct, need to know about an item that appeared in Private Eye a couple of months ago.

According to the Eye, the Scott Trust, that owns The Guardian and guarantees its independence, is sitting on a cashpile of £700 million.

The Boglington Post. Striking a blow for intelligent pensioners everywhere.

 

Postscriptum

“Hell hath no fury like a 50-year-loyal reader scorned.”

OMG. Only a day after I wrote this piece, the Guardian editor, Katherine Viner, has announced that as part of her extreme austerity agenda, it and its Sunday sister paper The Observer are to go … tabloid.

Her weaselly excuse being that it is somehow an inevitable development of print technology in the 21st century.

That is the fucking end of civilization as we used to know it. The Berliner format was a thing of rare beauty, that gave the paper its distinctive market appeal, branding its readers as a cut above.

If this was Ms Viner’s idea, she should be boiled in oil, doused in animal slurry and handed over to the Taliban for re-education.

Oh, sorry, she is the Taliban.

The paper was getting dire enough as it is, months of snide articles briefing against Jeremy Corbyn being followed in the wake of the election with a wave of sycophantic, hypocritical drool hailing him as the New Messiah; in most cases by the same writers, clearly under marching orders from the appalling Viner woman.

I vow here and now that I will never touch this scabby little organ with a bargepole, ever again. You have now totally fucked it with me and I am converting my laptop thing to the New York Times forthwith.

Hell hath no fury like a 50-year-loyal reader scorned.

x

A ruddy good show

A propos well-paid Guardian columnists, Matthew D’Ancona today contributes a bizarre piece confessing that he ‘radically’ failed to notice that there was a groundswell of support building for Jeremy Corbyn, ‘like many other Commentators’.

Yes, Britain is a long way from North London, isn’t it.

Having confessed that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he then goes on to anticipate – indeed, to request – in arrogant Guardianista fashion, publication of a timetable for Theresa May’s resignation.

Finally, on the topic of the inevitable Tory leadership backstabbing bloodfest, that has already begun, he writes thus:

“…do not discount Amber Rudd. In fact, give the home secretary the serious consideration she deserves. In the seven-way shouting match of the BBC leaders’ debate on 31 May, she stood in for the prime minister, though her elderly father had died only days before, and did so with poise, dignity and emotional intelligence as six other politicians berated her. She looked like a leader in waiting.”

Of course, he doesn’t fancy her. As leader of the charge to rehabilitate the saintly Ms Rudd, and sounding like a thoroughly polished and professional PR practitioner looking for a special advisor role in Downing Street, Mr D’Ancona has obviously failed to read the newspaper that has employed him for many years; he may be losing his memory, or he has a ‘radically’ different take on reality from most of us.

On 21 September, 2016, for instance, David Pegg and Holly Watt reported:

“Amber Rudd’s business career has come under scrutiny following a Guardian investigation that reveals her involvement with two companies in an offshore tax haven, and another where her co-director was jailed for fraud.

“The Guardian has also discovered new details about her previous career in venture capital during the boom and bust 1990s. One enterprise led her to become a co-director of Monticello, a company that was at the centre of a share ramping investigation.

“She was also involved in a company prospecting for diamonds in Siberia that was traded on a notoriously unregulated stock exchange.”

This was shortly after her white-haired old ‘venture capitalist’ father Tony had been investigated for the umpteenth time by the financial regulator and declared to be totally unfit to be trusted with other people’s money.

The authors of The Guardian report concluded:

“Though there is no suggestion she was involved in any wrongdoing, the disclosures may cause her some embarrassment…”

Well, if I were Michael Gove or Boris Johnson, Michael Fallon, Nicky Morgan – any Tory politician indeed circling just offshore scenting blood in the water, I’d say they just may.

x

And what’s the naughtiest thing Amber Rudd ever did?

No, not running through wheat. According to an old school chum, on their last day at Cheltenham Ladies’ College she tied the legs of the chairs together in the dining-hall!

And then became a merchant banker.

Lock her up!

The posh man in his tumbril, the poor man in his shed. Plus: The Art of the Steal. Dear Clive James.

“£25 thousand is not really all that much to spend on an attractive, habitable, craftsman-made garden feature: a faux- pastoral scriptorium for a literary troglodyte.”

“And now the news where you are….”

Hi.

This is where I am, right now.

It’s my little ‘garden room’, at the end of my not very long garden (you’re standing on the other end to look at it), where I work, rest and play, every day.

(As the fence is falling over you can’t really see, but the garden path continues on past the rotproof timber-clad structure to an area of wilderness, approximately two feet by six, at the back. Now read on…)

Annoying friends have borrowed the tiresome magazine lifestyle-column expression ‘man-cave’ to describe it; although a cave is possibly somewhat darker and gloomier than my well-lit 10′ x 12′ workspace and more inducive of brooding melancholy, even lengthy periods of hibernation. Only the self-indulgent electric guitar (mine’s a Gibson LP, yours is a Fender Strat) and the empty wine bottles might connect them.

Before condemning the perfectly satisfactory roof of the main house, thereby putting the kybosh on the sale (it was four and a half years ago. I’m still here; so’s the roof), the insensitive, semi-qualified building surveyor sent by a risk-averse Lloyds Bank on behalf of one prospective purchaser asked caustically, if I had perhaps constructed my second home myself, from a kit?

But no, moron. I had it purpose-designed and built by a faraway design-and-build company specializing in garden rooms ‘as seen on TV’. That’s why it’s so thermally efficient that if you shut the window you’ll be dead within the hour for lack of oxygen, because I couldn’t afford the extra £600 they wanted for air conditioning, and other expensive extras besides.

In fact the whole project, which I must stress was considerably hampered by the problem of obtaining access to the site either from the back – the garden is dropped by some eight feet from the road above – or below, you have to deliver through the house, with its ever-so tight turning off a narrow hallway – from a busy road where there is no stopping allowed on this side; and the additional constraint of working in a garden that’s only four feet wider than the building.

(Yes, I’m aware that the foregoing paragraph does not work syntactically. I’m trying to think of a way to fix it. Leave me alone.)

For that and reasons of opting for the best quality fixtures and fittings, the ‘high-performance’ self-cleaning double-glazing, the recessed downlighters, the tropical hardwood floor (if Ivanka Trump can specify extinction for the rainforest to adorn her dad’s palatial habitations in corrupt and rutted feudal demesnes around the world, so can I), the whole caboodle (not a kit) cost a shade under £16 thousand.

I went off on a jazz holiday and let them get on with it, else I should have become a nervy wreck.

But I’ve been making good use of it since. This is my 608th Post to the BogPo, and all Posted to you free of charge from my coffee-table in The Little House on the Prairie, as I’ve wittily named my shed. (The prairie, as you can just about see, being an area of grassland all of 10 feet by five.) It is my home-from-home, my sanctuary – my inspiration.

The reason I had it built in the first place is somewhat convoluted, but essentially my student son was living with me at the time and there was an overwhelming need to escape the sound of Rise Against! churning over the staccato death-rattle of computerised warfare. I had conceded that, since his bedroom was only eight feet by seven, plus a few inches, he should have the sitting-room (12’4″ x 12′) for use as his study area.

No sooner had the last workman departed, perhaps a little more satisfied with his handiwork than I’ve been, but never mind, Peter naturally moved out to live with his mates in a damp, mould-infested, £100 a week student hovel with stinking, stained carpets and broken furnishings, lacking any form of legal fire safety precautions, just across the road from a low tavern, taking with him his extensive collection of Rise Against! downloads, his post-ironic lava-lamp and his global gaming computer that he built himself from a kit.

Nevertheless, I have remained in the habit of saving electricity by not living in the house – other than to shit, cook and sleep, usually in that order. (There’s a handy drain for peeing in the garden.) I’m extremely attached to and perhaps even mentally imprisoned within my man-cave, my home office, my garden studio, my personal space, my eco-pod – whichever lifestyle magazine you choose to read will furnish you with an appropriate apophthegm.

What has not resulted from the commissioning of this practical and useful extra room, however, is a shitstorm of onlined criticism from the trolling community and Guardian columnistas whining enviously like so many bitches-in-the-manger at the non-public-spirited expense of it. While grimy little children yet queue at the workhouse soup-kitchen door, etc.

You know how it goes, the politics of envy.

A bunch of sheep

My old school chum, Dave Cameron, on the other hand has been widely ‘outed’ today for acquiring a genuine imitation Northumberland ‘shepherd’s hut’ – a sort of tumbril on iron wheels, for use as a writing hovel while he pens the memoir of his disastrous Prime Ministership that no-one is going to pay £25 to read in hardback; for which he has no doubt secured an advance equivalent to my entire lifetime’s earnings (envy not being the sole preserve of the illiterate).

The main complaint seems to be that he paid £25 thousand for it; not including the heritage Farrow-and-Ball makeover Mrs Cameron has given it. It seems a little harsh, even while one contemplates her disloyalty to George Osborne in her choice of decorative materials supplier. Twenty-five grand is hardly taking bread out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, you’d easily pay that nowadays for a Golf GTi or a wedding with kilts and a chocolate fountain.

The man was a low-range millionaire even before he became Prime Minister; he’s just come into another half a mill from his late dad; while Samantha is outrageously rich in her own right. They can easily afford it! Is that a reason why they should not have it? Only in nasty, envious, curtain-twitching little Britain would even well-paid journalists not only think, but actually dare to tell the former Prime Minister that just because he can afford a new garden shed, doesn’t mean he should be allowed to have one.

I feel that £25 thousand is not really all that much to spend on an attractive, habitable, British-craftsman-made garden feature: a faux-pastoral scriptorium for a literary troglodyte. From Sam’s point of view it gets her unemployed booby of a husband out of the house for a few hours each day; and it is the case that many famous writers have opted to escape from domesticity by the same means.

Roald Dahl, for example, wrote his lumpen prose for sick kids in a succession of garden sheds. Dylan Thomas had his boathouse at Laugharne, handy for the pub. I myself once visited Ayot St Lawrence in Buckinghamshire, home of George Bernard Shaw, with its modest, unpretentious structure in the garden. Shaw was a keen uptaker of new technology; so, while other writers have sought a solitude which the mobile phone now denies us, having perhaps the keenest sense of self-importance of all he had installed an enormous bakelite telephone in his shed; a detail that impresses me even 40 years later.

I imagine, too, that Leo Tolstoy probably kept an entirely separate country estate for the purpose of obtaining a little peace and quiet while penning the first few drafts of War and Peace. Is Suzanne Moore going to begrudge him that as well?

So, no. Unfair. On behalf of all solitary strivers in garden sheds great or small, dry-lined or planked, plain or fancy, with downlighters or guttering candles, I protest.

Mr Cameron is entitled to many things, eternal damnation for his optimistic miscalculations over the Brexit referendum certainly being the most pressing.

But a posh garden-shed is small reward for his years of service, however inept. It makes him almost one of us.

Leave the poor man alone!

 

The art of the steal

“The Tate (UK’s leading modern art gallery) has come under fire after it asked members of staff, many of whom are not paid the London living wage, to contribute towards a boat for the departing director, Nicholas Serota, just one week after their canteen discount was taken away.

“A notice which went up in the staff rooms of both Tate Modern and Tate Britain on Wednesday asked employees – including security, cleaners, and those (who) maintain the galleries and work in the cafe and gift shop – to ‘put money towards a sailing boat’ as a ‘surprise gift’ for Serota.” – Guardian Today, 28 April.

Whouawahwouaah… eerie flashback music….

We were all summoned up to the boardroom, where Mike, the MD, had prepared a long and lugubrious presentation, graphically showing us the bad news.

Yes, we had twice exceeded our collective annual sales target during the year. Indeed, we’d broken the target for the whole year during August, so the MD had DOUBLED it and we’d broken it again by December.

But sadly, all that extra effort had led to costly errors and money having to be passed back to the clients, all the extra activity we’d generated had doubled our cost of sales too, so we’d doubled our turnover at the expense of having made no profits at all.

Look, here’s a graph, and another one, and an even sadder one… see, how we’ve actually LOST money.

So the bad news was that staff wouldn’t be getting any annual bonus this year. But a bit of good news, we’d all be receiving a £10 shopping voucher with our company Christmas card.

Two weeks after Christmas I encountered a smiling Mike in the corridor. We hadn’t seen him around for a few days, so I asked him if he’d been anywhere nice?

‘Yes’, he said, ‘I was at the Boat Show’ – a major annual event for yachties held at the Earl’s Court exhibition centre in London.

‘Buy anything?’ I asked him, nonchalantly. ‘Yes’, he said, ‘I bought a new yacht for the business.’ (He kept a boat down at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, that he faked VAT invoices for chartering-out to non-existent clients and used to ship cash over to a bank in low-tax offshore haven, Jersey.)

‘How much did that cost?’ I pushed on, regardless. ‘A hundred and ten thousand’, he replied, smugly.

‘In that case’, I told him, ‘you can stuff your fucking job.’ And I quit then and there – although he was a malicious little bastard and forced me to work out my notice and have a crappy leaving party I would rather not have gone to. (I got my revenge when my dog had a burst of diarrhoeia in the back of my unasked-for, embarrassing little company car and I handed it back covered in shit.)

Mike was mortified. He literally could not understand why I was so angry: the company was his, any money we made was his, he was paying us so we belonged to him, to the company, he had total ownership of our lives, our time – generally about 14 hours a day otherwise you got a bad-breath ‘hairdryer’ lecture about showing disloyalty.

I once asked for a raise, he glared at me with his fishy, pale blue eyes magnified by pebble glasses, as if I had crawled out from under a rock and asked me pointedly, ‘Who would you like me to fire so you can have a raise?’

Now however he buckled. He knew I was the agency’s profit-centre, a high-output conceptual copywriter wearing also a business development hat, whom he had under-remunerated from the start and who could now make a substantial case for a big profit-share.

‘You can have a directorship!’ he blurted. Well, for a start the idea of being in business with this bullying little creep, who liked to invite selected execs up to his house to watch porno on his big satellite dish that could get Danish TV, and was pimping his wife and 13-year-old daughter, I actually found pretty nauseating. Worse was to come.

‘Director of what?’ I asked.

‘I’m thinking of setting up a new company’, he explained earnestly, still trying to con people to the end. He outlined a business plan, until I stopped him. ‘You mean, you want me to be a nominee director of a shell company you can sideline your profits into so you can make a tax loss on the main business?’

‘Something like that’, he replied sheepishly.

A fortnight later I was offered a job with another agency, and took one of the account managers with me. (Dear Reader, we were married a couple of years later.)

Tate union rep Tracy Edwards said:

“Our members are on zero-hours contracts, they are struggling to pay the bills each month, so to ask them to donate towards a boat – well, I can tell you the staff are not happy at all. It’s really rubbed people up the wrong way.

“Another worker confirmed that the staff’s 10% canteen discount had also been taken away last week.” (Ibid.)

Yep, I know exactly how that feels.

Fucking shits.

x

Dear Clive James

Writing in last weekend’s Saturday Guardian, the venerated Australian polymath, TV personality and compulsive poet complains ruefully of a fellow Aussie, apparently; a troll, who has messaged him complaining that he is still alive.

If you are unfamiliar with the backstory, James, who must I suppose be in his late seventies, has been ‘dying’ for several years now, after being diagnosed with leukemia. Not to be unkind, or to put too fine a point on it, he has made something of an industry out of this precarious state of being, hovering as it were halfway between this world and the next, as if on a long-haul flight from Sidney.

James has written muchly and richly on the topic of his impending departure, churning out whole books and collections of self-valedictory elegiacs and a weekly ‘not dead yet’ newspaper column delineating the experience of living with Death’s shadow forever hovering in the corner of one’s eye, and here he is, years later, still at it.

On the one hand, obviously, we must be profoundly grateful James has thus far been spared. His literary output continues to be mordant, insightful, vastly knowledgeable, wry and reflective, as ever. His precarious state of health offers us a new appreciation of life. He is, in short, a bit of a national treasure; although perhaps eclipsed a little by his fellow Antipodean valetudinarian, Barry Humphries. I am yet puzzled that neither of these exemplary colonials has been rewarded with a knighthood – or, in Humphries’ case, a Dodgy Damehood.

And no-one would seriously wish anyone dead, who was not either a Conservative politician or, on occasion, John Humphrys.

Yet we know what the Aussie troll means, sort of, don’t we?

Clive James continues to deprive us of the tantalising reward he has been holding out for so long, like a parent refusing to part with the children’s Christmas presents before Twelfth Night, the opportunity of actually grieving for him, of celebrating the life well-lived. He subsists on our delayed gratification; our anticipation of sadly enjoyable Radio Four obsequies, favourite moments off the telly, contributions from past celebrities we had forgotten existed, the republication of past essays.

There dwells in our nearby town a certain person who too has gone about for several years now in a state of darkest morbidity, informing one and all of her imminent demise. ‘How are you today?’ one would ask solicitously. ‘I think I’m dying’, she would reply, ‘I feel awful.’ ‘Have you seen your doctor?’ you would ask, hopelessly. ‘They can’t do anything. They say I’m probably just depressed.’ To which there is no answer.

Turning 60, seven years ago I determined to take up two activities whose gratifications I had deliberately delayed since childhood, being the sole offspring of theatrical parents: to act on the stage, and to sing solo, again on the stage, in the jazz idiom.

Anticipating redundancy from my job, an axe that fell two years later, I wasted literally thousands of pounds of my pension ‘pot’ on musical instruments; acquiring guitars, a piano I cannot play – later exchanged for a more practical electronic keyboard; amplifiers, microphones, wobbling piles of sheet music. I studied with what teachers I could find, spending more thousands on attending residential workshops here and in France, acquiring dozens upon dozens of CD recordings.

Thus I have made a number of increasingly encouraging appearances on stage. Having had the foresight to grow my own, strangely woolly white beard, contrasting oddly with my otherwise still dark-brown hair and moustache, I have been consistently cast above my age range in comic parts, generally old sailors or pirates, ensuring a steady stream of unpaid work twice a year. I am currently playing the old Jew in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, as sympathetically as possible I hope, being a non-Jew myself. (You can’t get the actors here.)

And in December I had my first and so far my only unpaid gig as a jazz singer, outside the supportive yet respectfully critical confines of professionally supervised workshops. It was not an unmitigated success, less from a performance point of view than because of the unexpected obstacle of having to compete with a woman selling ‘smoothies’ from a powered blender in the area next to us, in the awkward key of E; while the only member of the audience was a ten-year-old girl whose parents urgently dragged her away.

Halfway through the programme we had carefully rehearsed, my dying friend wandered in. ‘Oh hello’, she said. ‘Are you here?’ and, grabbing the microphone off the stand, announced that she proposed to sing ‘Autumn leaves’. It being, on reflection, quite an appropriate swansong; which she proceeded to warble while the pianist struggled to find her key and I prompted her with the actual lyrics. Happily, as one by one the leaves sadly fell, by the end she was still very much alive and wandered off again in a haze of antidepressants to continue her campaign of morbid disruption elsewhere.

I expect you have anticipated my feelings, then, on the subject of those who cling to this world like oversubstantial wraiths. While, as I said, one would not seriously wish anybody gone before their time, after all at 73 John Humphrys could simply hang up his soapbox and retire, the sound of their fingernails squeaking down the blackboard of life can sometimes be a little aggravating.

None of us can know the hour of our departure in advance, the random omnibus of Fate is even now charging towards us all from around the blind bend of Eternity, and so one cannot really blame those who succumb to an excess of premature morbidity in the exercise of their profession. It makes for a good story.

Journalists in particular have taken to biographising for our benefit, the remnants of their truncated lives lived under medical sentence; articles and broadcasts usually prefaced with misplaced regret that we do not ‘talk about death’ enough in our thoughtless pursuit of material happiness. A new Puritanism stalks the country.

And, oh my God, it’s a May Bank Holiday Saturday and once again the sports field half a mile away has come alive with the echoing, tinny cry of the tannoy, the splintered shards of unidentifiable muzak punctuated for the next 48 hours with unintelligible announcements, that shatters the relative peace of the valley and drills through the expensively double-glazed windows of my little garden studio.

There is no escaping the racket. Death’s silent dominion can seem too remote a consolation at such a time of year.

Spring. Who needs it.

The Boglington Post – A matter of belief; Return of the Teenager! You have to be Caracas – Police brutality, Quote of the Week, Human Extinction and more.

“A report by the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee (PACAC) said MPs were deeply concerned about the allegations of foreign interference in last year’s Brexit vote.” – Guardian Today, 12 April

A matter of belief

My colleague over at The Pumpkin has been struggling for two weeks to point out to anyone who would listen, basically nobody, that approximately two-thirds of the way through the Congressional Intelligence Committee hearing on 20 March, a brief and apparently unnoticed exchange took place between the Ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff and FBI Director, James Comey.

As I can’t summon the energy to sit through five hours of video coverage again, I’ll paraphrase:

Do you believe the Russians could have interfered with other elections (than the US election), such as in Europe or with Brexit? asked Schiff. Yes Sir, I do, replied Comey.

The exchange has not been reported anywhere in the British media.

Now, anyone could say what they ‘believe’. Christians and Muslims have detailed theories about all sorts of things that aren’t objectively true, but which form the basis of a belief system that extends to the entire cultural context of their lives and even to honor killings, acid attacks on women, terrorism and internecine warfare.

The Director of the FBI, by contrast, has to be someone whose logic is a bit more remorseless and factual than merely extending to a fervent belief, for instance that the biological offspring of the Creator of the universe, born of a virgin on Christmas Day, was executed, rose from the dead and walked on water.

(A recent poll in fact showed that only 17% of a sample of 2,000 British adults believe in the literal truth of the resurrection. The number rises to 50% in the case of professed Christians.)

When the Director of the FBI says he ‘believes’ something, he is exploiting a euphemism. Packed into that one word is a world of secret knowledge, of informers and researchers, of cyber-security experts, of tappings and snoopings and hackings and interrogations, evaluations and briefings, cross-referrals and triangulations, reports and filings leading to the establishment of legally enforceable hard facts concerning criminal or subversive activities that may not, at this stage of the investigation, be spoken of in open committee hearings.

Mr Comey had earlier confirmed by a complex series of signs, nods and winks and masterfully polite evasions that his organization is indeed embarked upon a number of separate investigations relating to ‘any’ communications between the Trump campaign staff and Russian ‘diplomats’ or ‘oligarchs’ – disruptive players seeking, the media surmises, to undermine the democratic process – if not also to ensure the election of some ‘useful idiot’ or compromised politician who will, directly or indirectly, further their hegemonic ambitions.

The Three Brexiteers: Davis, ‘The Doctor’ and Doris (r)

Who better fit the latter category than our three Brexiteers: Davis, ‘The Doctor’ and Doris, and their gormless Empire Loyalist, neo-Thatcherite henchmen (plus the odd useful female)?

What set of circumstances could better improve the opportunities for Mr Putin and his cronies to shore-up their borders with the European Union and regain influence over the border states, formerly part of the Soviet empire, even occupying territory to keep them from falling into the clutches of the evil NATO, to disrupt Europe’s security, than a good, well-rigged election?

Indeed, my colleague at The Pumpkin has also been speculating in every corner of the media, wherever a person of no standing can obtain a readership; and in emails to politicians, on this very question, a point about how and why the registrations database had been caused to crash 48 hours before registrations closed:

“…there were clues that a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS) using botnets – a network of computers infected with malicious software – was used to overwhelm the site… the committee’s report said. While the incident had no material effect on the outcome of the referendum, the committee said it was crucial that lessons were learned for future votes that must extend beyond purely technical issues.” (Ibid.)

What the report of the report does not however go on to say, is that a DDOS attack (and the sudden, unexplained emergence of what the Committee suggests was 500 thousand new voters, reported at the time to have been two million) was not the only possible use of botnets: for, as we know – there have been other reports that suggest this – the US election campaign was also marked by a surreptitious campaign of disinformation, using detailed analysis of individual voting intentions (‘data-harvesting’ from personal social media uploads and conversations) to target specific messages to potential opposition voters.

Were that to have occurred in Britain – and there are wealthy eccentric, Europhobic  ‘disruptors’ such as Mr Arron Banks and Mr Jim Dowson who have come forward to say that is certainly what they intended to do; also reports that a British company, Cambridge Analytica, allegedly owned by the ultra-rightwing US hedge-fund manager, the multi-billionaire Robert Mercer and his ultra-ultra-rightwing daughter Rebekah, hefty backers both of Republican candidates ($22 million) and the Breitbart News website, was engaged in just such ‘data-harvesting’ activities – then it could very well not be said that: “the incident had no material effect on the outcome of the referendum”.

That’s just wishful thinking.

Belief.

x

Life after Brexit

A Commenter on a Guardian news story about pension rights for British expats writes that he was standing on London Bridge with a female friend, an entirely English person, who happened to be talking on the phone in French to a colleague in France.

And a man came by and shouted ‘Fuck off back to Paris, you French cunt.’

It seems difficult and risky to move elsewhere in these trepidatious times, but I really don’t want to live any longer in this fucking awful dystopian ‘dictatorship of the cretins’, which these dogshit-ignorant arsewipes are so proud of that they cannot accommodate living on the same planet as, or even maybe being, someone with an actual education, culture or good manners; who might (but does not) come from 30 miles away across the Channel.

Do you?

x

Life after life

…it is evident that the maximum methane global warming potential temperature trend of 50 intersects the 2 degree centigrade temperature anomaly line in mid 2027 at which time humanity will completely  lose our ability to combat the earth atmospheric temperature rise. This diagram also indicates that methane will be an extremely active global warming agent for the first 15 years during the early stages of the extinction process. At the 80 o F (26.66 oC) Permian extinction event temperature line (Wignall, 2009), which has a 12.177 oC temperature anomaly above the 1980 mean of 14.49 oC,  the lifetime of the minimum methane global warming  potential veil is now some 75 years long and the temperature so high that total extinction of all life on earth will have occurred by this time.

2012 paper by Prof. Malcolm Light: Global Extinction within One Human Lifetime as a Result of a Spreading Atmospheric Arctic Methane Heatwave and Surface Firestorm (Arctic-news. blogspot.co.uk/p/global-extinction-within-one-human.html. Passage refers to a graph.)

The good news for millennarians hoping soon to meet their invisible friend Jedoof is, the process is moving faster and faster. The 2012 paper is way out of date.

“…a polynomial trend based on NOAA July 1983 to January 2017 global monthly mean methane data points at twice as much methane by 2034. Stronger methane releases from the seafloor could make such a doubling occur much earlier.” (Ibid.)

Mr Trump is very happy this evening. After three months of total fucking chaos and incompetence the more extreme elements of his military are now in firm control of the White House. The Pentagon has won out over the CIA and is insanely going back to dropping huge bombs on peasants hiding in caves in Afghanistan. We’re back to Vietnam: the theatre of war Trump avoided serving in. The US army is damned if it is going to forgive a past regime that let itself be beaten by asymmetricals wearing flip-flops. Now it’s payback time.

Having spent years criticising US military adventurism abroad and won an election on a non-interventionist platform Mr Trump is now entirely in favour of anything that prettily explodes, US troops being sent by the thousand into Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen – a carrier fleet to North Korea, threats against Russia, China – a quadruple increase in civilian ‘collateral’ deaths from US airstrikes in just two months.

Let’s remember, the violence in those regions did not erupt spontaneously: it is the legacy of past Western interventions, and don’t let any conservatives tell you otherwise.

The compulsive lying old mobster thug, Trump has thus already laid the murders of many ‘beautiful’ children onto his financial crimes and given military hawks such as Mad Dog Mattis and HR McMaster their severely shaven, curiously shaped heads.

His knowledge of foreign affairs is clearly zero, his diplomatic service has been so hollowed out that he has no expert advice on traditional theatres of US power projection, no capacity to conduct diplomacy, and is simply making policy on an increasingly sick and senile hoof. He has done a 180-deg. handbrake turn on literally every campaign promise he made: maybe he just doesn’t remember what he said, and doesn’t care: the scam is going off nicely so far.

For God’s sake, impeach him. Arrest him, before the crazy orange fucker kills us all. What is the FBI doing? Why is it taking them so long, when everything is out there in open space for all to see?

Get on with it, Comey. Man up, lovely eyes. You already have enough ammunition to put him in prison for the rest of his worthless life.

x

 

x

“Beating and killing and jailing and torturing people is not going to put food back in the mouths of the security forces either, their moms, wives and kids.”

You have to be Caracas to work here

Demonstration in Venezuela. (Reuter)

A question I’ve long wanted an answer to is why so many youngish working-class men are always so willing to put on riot gear and beat the crap out of a bunch of unarmed demonstrators?

It happens everywhere. A demonstrator was killed in Venezuela last week, hundreds of mostly students injured, gassed, arrested and disappeared into police cells for some enhanced conversation.

The protests in Caracas against the presidency of Nicolas Maduro have a perfectly sensible rationale: oil-rich Venezuela is virtually a failed state. With the slump in oil prices, corruption and economic mismanagement, people are going hungry, normal household goods like toilet paper have disappeared; the shops are empty. Inheriting the downside of Chavez-ism, Maduro has no answer but a brutal police crackdown and blame the USA.

So these guys who put on riot gear and flak jackets and masks and helmets and throw pepper spray and teargas, rubber bullets and buckshot, shoot off water-cannon, they have families: mothers and fathers, wives and kids, who are all suffering under an incompetent regime. Their own mothers and wives are queuing for hours every day for a little overpriced bread and bottled water. There’s 1,000 per cent inflation: the bread costs three times as much by the evening as it would have in the morning, and three times as much the next day.

Yet day after day the riot squad is happy to be ordered out on the streets to brutalise other people just like themselves, their fellow citizens who only want better politicians to take over and put things back in order again, feed the people – not the leftwing elite holed up in the palace, in the assembly. These demonstrators are not funded by the CIA anymore, this is not a rightist putsch to get the landowners and the business community back in power; it’s a plea for social justice.

Beating and killing and jailing and torturing people is not going to put food back in the mouths of the security force, their moms, wives and kids. But the world over, it’s always the way. A brutal dictator – take your pick – can always rely on an army of thugs and goons to do their dirty work even at a cost to their own standard of living. Why?

Okay, the cops are getting paid by the government. They took an oath to support the State. But history shows that time and again, these revolutions eventually succeed in toppling the regime; usually to replace it with something worse, but change does eventually come; the shops do fill up again.

So loyalty to a lousy failing President clinging to office is only staving off defeat. The day when there won’t be anyone in government to pay the goon squads will come, and they will have to transfer their loyalty to someone else.  Even now, their wages are depreciating faster than they can buy stuff – even food to feed their own kids.

What is the point? What do they gain?

You’d think the police, the armed forces, the informers and the torturers would side with the people who want to bring about change, to restore the economy, put food back on the table, deliver a better life; not with an increasingly desperate and authoritarian President who has no answers to the problems affecting them and their families, and whose personal career ambitions are causing such great harm to the ordinary people.

But they don’t.

In country after country, decade after decade we see heavily armed police, paramilitaries, the army all too happy to go out and shoot and gas and beat and imprison and torture the very people who might do them some good.

It’s frankly inexplicable, other than in terms of the worst aspects of human nature:

They enjoy it.

“We’re kickin’ down your doors”. Welcome to Trumpworld. (A/G Jeff Sessions abandons ‘constitutional policing’. Justice Department says ‘anything goes’.)

x

“The dreadful reputation British soccer hooligans gained thirty years ago has never been allowed to go away”

Match-fixing

And in Madrid, eight Leicester City football fans were beaten and hauled off to police cells last night in advance of tonight’s Premier League championship match against Atletico.

Winesses report that about 300 fans were drinking mostly peacefully in a square where they had been told they could congregate, when riot police arrived and charged at them, hurling chairs and bottles and hitting the fans with rubber truncheons. BBC journalist Phil Mackie was on hand to witness the unprovoked attack:

“As I was talking to them there was a charge. Police officers just charged a group of Leicester fans who were, as far as I could tell, just walking past and chatting to each other. Three of them were pushed to the floor and hit with batons and bundled into the back of vans and taken away.” – BBC News

The eight arrested have been charged with ‘causing a mess’. Perhaps there was an element of retaliation there for Monty Python’s Inquisition sketch? Spanish police also claim six of their officers were ‘attacked’.

This sort of thing happens almost every time British football fans go abroad, however well-behaved and amenable they are. The dreadful reputation British soccer hooligans gained thirty years ago has never been allowed to go away and is invariably used as an excuse for police provocation, brutality and overreaction: the ritual duffing-up of the fans and the pressing of spurious charges has become part of the sport.

Of course, the roughhousing and  intimidation has only one purpose: to improve the chances of the home side by causing consternation, press criticism and discrediting the behaviour of the visiting team and its supporters, who can never win.

Cheating, in other words.

x

Quote of the Week

Mr Charles Chestnut, a Rochdale, Yorks. man who burned down his new ‘dream home’ in Wales after a dispute with the Halifax Building Society over non-payment of his mortgage, has been gaoled for five years.

“When asked by judge, Geraint Walters if he had any submissions to make, Chestnut, who represented himself, said: “I would like to go free please.” – Guardian Today

This surely ranks alongside the Spike Milligan epitaph: “I told you I was ill”, as one of the best victim statements on life that I have ever seen. And another I’ve just heard from theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, guesting on Sam Harris: “I get paid to hallucinate”.

The BogPo: wake up Britain, you’re being Disrupted! (Plus: A guide to Big Dada – and, NEW: “I am vindicated” syndrome).

“We needed stronger leadership, so I got Lars von Trier  to give me a fakeover.”

WARNING: DO NOT VOTE FOR THIS WOMAN.

Wake Up, Britain, you’re being Disrupted!

Okay.

We have less than a week to go before May triggers Article 50 to take us out of the EU.

Once that happens we’re bound on an irreversible course that will almost certainly lead to the breakup, not only of Europe, but of the UK. I bogld about that last bit in The Pumpkin – Issue 13, if you care to look; and how a Belfast-born political disruptor, anti-abortion fanatic and alt-right website owner based in Eastern Europe, Jim Dowson, backed by a Christian-right Russian billionaire close to Putin, is now set on splitting Scotland away.

Now.

“Millionaire” Mr Dowson also boasts of his work on-line, encouraging people to vote for Brexit. Have his claims resulted in the merest suspicion that the referendum may not have been conducted “on the square”, as the Freemasons put it? Or is it simply accepted that in a democracy people are free to campaign for any cause they believe in, in any undeclared, underhand way they please – even the overthrow of the State?

A clue to Mr Dowson’s activities and interests (other oligarchs are available) may be found in a Guardian article of 20 March. I warn you, they are somewhat incoherent:

“I have been a fanatical defender of the union, but I am a pragmatist, and England is finished. It is not just finished because of the Muslim problem and immigration, but also because as of now we are looking at permanent Tory rule … This is a global network that I believed helped elect Donald Trump and backed Brexit to win. “

theguardian.com/politics/2017/mar/20/jim-dowson-back-scottish-independence-patriotic-news-agency-far-right

So did Dowson interfere in the referendum process as an undeclared pro-Leave lobbyist? Was he acting alone?

Nobody picked up on it.

A few months ago, the BBC’s Chief Political Correspondent, Laura Kuenssberg, who has since been subjected to a campaign of vilification in social media, published a piece on the BBC website speculating about the clandestine use of ‘bots’ by the Leave side in the EU referendum campaign. This followed an earlier report in June of a disrupt:

“An online petition calling for a second EU referendum has been hijacked by automated bots adding false signatures. Posts on the 4chan** message board indicated that some users had scripted programs to automatically sign the petition. Thousands of signatures appeared to have come from people in Vatican City and Antarctica.

“The House of Commons petitions committee said it had removed 77,000 signatures and was investigating.” (BBC News)

Did this indicate a level of external interference in the referendum itself? Resulting, perhaps, in the crashing of the voter registration website in the last 48 hours of registration and the addition of another two million voters who appeared to come from nowhere?

Nobody picked up on it.

A couple of months later, an article in The Guardian referred to a US company, Cambridge Analytica, owned (possibly) by the Breitbart News backer and ultra-rightwing multi-billionaire IT whizz, Robert Mercer, that had apparently been ‘data-harvesting’ millions of voters in the UK, secretly analysing their likely voting intentions and responding with a flood of personalized disinformation bots on behalf of the Leave campaign (about whose real intentions the BogPo has already intensively, and with fruity swearing, speculated). CA has downplayed but not denied the allegation.

Cornell University (ironically founded by a great-uncle of Kathy Cornell Gorka, a White House advisor on the dangers of Muslims – See Pumpkin 13) has conducted a study of the use of bots in political campaigning: arxiv.org/abs/1606.06356

The opening summary paragraph states:

“Political bots are automated accounts that are particularly active on public policy issues, elections, and political crises. In this preliminary study on the use of political bots during the UK referendum on EU membership, we analyze the tweeting patterns for both human users and bots. We find that political bots have a small but strategic role in the referendum conversations: (1) the family of hashtags associated with the argument for leaving the EU dominates, (2) different perspectives on the issue utilize different levels of automation (i.e. it’s an iterative process. Ed.), and (3) less than 1 percent of sampled accounts generate almost a third of all the messages.”

Nobody picked up on it.

Now, all this activity is not illegal, but it’s unfair, because it’s not what people are used to. Voters get used to election tactics, but this is something new, when someone from your Contacts folder pops up to tell you, by the way, such-and-such a candidate is a child-killer and a drug addict, you’re inclined to believe it. False: it’s not anyone you know, it’s a bot. And when both sides are bludgeoning you incessantly with the phonus-bolonus, it can get wearing – people will switch off.

And that’s the idea. Boredom brings down democracies.

On Monday, Mr James Comey, the head of the FBI, answered a question at a Congressional hearing to obtain confirmation that the security services were investigating both Mr Trump’s claims of having been “””wiretapped””” by President Obama*, and possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

The question from the excellent inquisitor, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff was, did he think the Russians were interfering elsewhere, as perhaps with the Brexit referendum?

And the equally excellent, and imposingly tall Mr Comey replied ‘Yes, I do’.

And nobody, not even the media, has picked up on it.

Now there is evidence that not only was Russian military intel, the GRU, ‘Guccifer 2’ hacking the Democratic party servers for info useful to the Trump campaign, but they then ‘weaponized’ the data against the Clinton campaign, using bots to flood social media with misdirection in response to individual voting preferences. They also did this to supporters of Bernie Sanders, with a massive campaign of disinformation helping to persuade his voters, who, you may remember, he had asked to vote for Hillary when he gave up his bid for the White House, not to vote for her.

So we know they can do it. And the aforementioned Irish  ‘millionaire’ Dowson (I can find no evidence that he is a millionaire. Where does that come from?), who has extensive East European, English nationalist and Russian connections, has boasted of the disruptive ‘meme’ he created on his US Patriot News website, alleging the existence of a worldwide paedophile ring involving Clinton. Did they do it here too?

Nobody in Britain has yet picked up on it, to join the dots; or seems to understand that the FBI believes the EU referendum was in all likelihood interfered with by the Russians as a disruptive tactic in their new-style hybrid warfare, as well as by rightwing US ‘disruptors’ linked with wealthy, non-official Leave campaigners in the UK; and that the BBC and the Guardian and even Cornell University know there is evidence the EU campaign was targeted in a campaign of disinformation by automated computer-generated bots masquerading as genuine information sources:

Yet nobody has picked up on it.

Because, as the following instructional clip from Rachel Maddow on MSNBC (21 March) explains,

That’s what the Russians DO.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vy1vk1mZhiw

And for a more official summary nearer to home, of the unofficial ‘dark money’ campaign that helped swing the UK referendum for the Disruptors, read:

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/01/dark-money-threat-to-uk-elections-integrity?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=219998&subid=19570602&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

So will somebody in authority, like Parliament, the police or MI5, the Electoral Reform Society – anybody – please pick up on it?

And quickly?

Because we’ve been conned!

Is the Government blind to this? Does it just not want to worry the British people that the Russians and their fifth-columnists on the alt-right are even now waging cyberwar on us? Have they just not picked up on it? Or has the Thing, this global crusade for racial and religious purity and the confusing disruption of our political, economic and social institutions funded by Russian ‘laundromat’ money, prising open the divisions and contradictions in our liberal democracy, already penetrated the higher echelons of the British government to put the blinders on – as it has the White House?

Mrs May, you were in charge of the national security apparatus for six years, can you tell us, possibly?

Postscriptum

And here’s another story worth reading, concerning Russia’s disruption tactics, on the BBC News website, two days after Article 50 got triggered – and no mention of interference in the referendum:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39401637

Postscripta, please add to brain:

*Mr Trump is now claiming he was at least partly right about being wiretapped – having been informed by the CIA that, yes, they did listen in to some conversations in which he was a participant. Unfortunately for the President, a man for whom the word ‘consequences’ seems fraught with difficulty, it has not apparently occurred to him why his voice was inadvertently recorded on those CIA files?

It was because, not him, but the thus-far anonymous people he was conversing with, were themselves suspects under surveillance.***

Oops.

That did not however stop the sucky little asshole with the terrified eyes, Congressman Nunes, inexplicably Republican chair of the Intelligence Committee, from immediately running down to the White House on the orders of the doe-eyed Congressional leader Paul Ryan, who is in deep doo-doo with Trump over his crappy American Healthcare bill, that seems likely to disaffiliate millions of poorer Trump voters, to show Orange Satan the CIA report, in clear breach of his duty of confidentiality to the committee – and then unilaterally cancelling the second hearing.

Most of the unfolding disaster is being put down to ‘inexperience’. Right, we’ve never experienced incompetence and venality on this scale, anywhere.

**The 4Chan site has been linked to Internet subcultures and activism, most notably Anonymous, the alt-right and Project Chanology. (Wikipedia). An open website guaranteeing anonymity and storing no data, 4Chan is an ideal breeding ground for disruptors.

***And it now appears accusations of British snooping were also partly accurate, in that the initial intercepts of conversations between the Trump camp and the Russians came from standard traffic monitoring by GCHQ, who are miffed that they passed the intel on to the CIA, the FBI, the NSA in late 2015 and no-one took any notice, presumably because they were focussed on their own monitoring of Mr Carter Page, a deniable, no-account former Trump campaign advisor, self-imagined man of mystery and go-between on ‘foreign relations’.

Both Mr Page and Russian spokes deny Page ever met with ‘oil’igarch, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, which probably therefore means that he did.

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BIG DADA: A Guide

Who are the Disruptors?

The Pumpkin identifies disruptors as political activists with no party allegiance who seek to disrupt conventional channels of communication and institutions in order to bring about change in random and unspecified directions and create chaos, from which a ‘new politics’ will emerge.

Funded in part by a flood of Russian money, the Disruptor movement is being enabled and amplified by borderless communications and social media networks.

In that sense they resemble the artists, writers and musicians of the late 19th and early 20th century, mostly from Central Europe, inspired by political revolution and the emerging horrors of industrialized warfare, who promoted manifestos calling for the destruction of conventional society and the creation of a new order arising from the wreckage: groups like the Futurists, the Stridentists, Wyndham Lewis’ Vorticists, the Ashcan School and most successfully the Dadaists, building on the writings of Kropotkin and other anarchist or nihilist movements.

Some disruptors will by the nature of the activity simply be ‘merry pranksters’ – teenage hackers, acting with no more ultimate motive than to do some mischief and earn kudos. Others however find the internet and its influence on, especially, the millennial generation a useful vehicle for turning teenage anarchy to their advantage in putting forward an alt-right, Christian-right, racial purity, revivalist agenda.

There is in the view of The Pumpkin little difference in execution between the cynical radicalisation programmes of extreme Islam and the attempts by the alt-right, etc., to engage the idealism, naivety and adventurous spirits of young people via their social media for some dark project leading to supposedly exciting and beneficial social change, exploiting their hormonal uncertainty and natural altruism; like the recruitment tactics of religious cultists such as the Moonies and the Scientologists; the Hitler youth or the Comsomol.

(The symmetry between the Disrupt and IS is there to see. It’s always about the corruption of innocence.)

There is evidence of Russian, Balkan, North Korean and Chinese State involvement in disruptive tactics – not only the ceaseless hacking and probing denial of service attacks on banks and hospitals and utilities and local authorities and transport undertakings, but the further weaponization by the military of Big Data. Under the so-called Gerasimov Doctrine of hybrid warfare we will not be conquered by invasion, or by counterproductive nuclear strikes; rather by an insidious process of undermining our faith in our institutions.

Others in the background, ‘useful idiots’ – very wealthy (mostly) men – seek to advance their own private networks by destroying the centrist, liberal-democratic consensus they perceive is weak, failing – corrupted by multiculturalism – but which nevertheless persists in its attempts to rein-in their lucrative transactions. The suspicion must be that some at least of the $billions pouring out of Russia from the criminal skimming of former State-owned assets through dodgy banks, offshore trusts, insanely overpriced art auctions, arms traffic and property megadeals is being used to fund these willing and greedy Western accomplices in the takedown of the West.

Disruption is the modern equivalent of the old military tactic of  ‘harrying’ – mounting low-cost, lightning raids here and there along the enemy’s defensive lines, to disrupt communications and movements; to take a few prisoners, seize supplies; to demoralise and test the strength of the enemy. If my personal data were among the millions of mobile phone company records seized in some spectacular hacking operation, as I’m sure they must have been (I was a Yahoo! subscriber for years) I shouldn’t be too concerned: the Russians probably aren’t going to do much with the information, they just want to send a message that our Western technology is weak and cannot protect us; but they will use it if provoked.

This is polygonal politics: economic,  religious and cultural warfare in the internet era, and our politicians had better understand it and find ways to combat it, soon.

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At last, I am vindicated!

A woman in Australia has walked free from court after her baby died when she forgot he was in the car, on a hot day.

It is not a precedent one would wish to set, obviously. People have a natural attachment to babies, a protective, hopeful instinct that ignores the awful teenagers they will grow into one day, the drug addicts, jihadis, corporate lawyers and US Presidents they go on to become. People still get upset, hearing about babies left to die like dogs in hot cars.

It’s a brave jurist who exonerates a parent for such a careless approach to their duties. The poor woman, what was her name? Lindy Chamberlain, who battled for years to explain that they went for a picnic in the Outback and a dingo must have taken her baby while her back was turned? The poor woman went through hell for years, accused of all sorts. ‘A Psychologist’ had not yet been born who would tell the court, yes, there is such a thing as ‘Taken baby syndrome”.

Australia often has hot days, I’m told, so one might think the Coroner would have asked the obvious question; not: “Why did you forget your baby was in the car?” but: “Why did you leave your baby in the car in the first place?”

But then, I wasn’t there. I cannot account for the circumstances; unlike in my own situation.

The BBC reports:

“A psychologist told the inquest he believed Ms Zunde suffered a memory lapse called “forgotten baby syndrome”.

“If you are capable of forgetting to post a letter, you are capable of forgetting to take your baby out of the car,” said Matthew Mundy, an associate professor at Monash University. “Your memory is limited, it’s limited in the number of things you can remember at any given time, and it’s limited in the amount of time you can remember a thing for. Your brain at the neural level doesn’t discriminate between [posting] a letter, a baby or remembering to pick up your mobile phone.

“In his opinion the lapse could happen to anyone, he said.”

Exactly!

So my reprehensible behaviour in frequently forgetting to collect my infant son from his nursery during those months of turmoil, when my business was failing and I was stuck in meetings with the bank for hours while struggling to meet all my other commitments to creative output and to pay the staff wages, so that I would often of an evening find myself having to do a U-ey and hurtle at illegal speed the twelve miles back from my home driveway where the realization usually dawned, to find the poor mite cradled in the arms of a fuming ‘pudding’, as I called the dumpy little creche nurses, sitting locked-out on the doorstep, finally has a name! A syndrome!

That’s one in the eye for the wife:

“Forgotten baby syndrome”.

It explains, certainly, why I have no idea currently where I have left my mobile phone. I haven’t seen it for days. The battery will be flat by now, so there’s no point in emailing my son – about whom I still forget for long periods – and getting him to phone it, so I can identify its whereabouts.

Letters, too, sit in the Documents file on muh li’l laptop, unprinted – perhaps I have forgotten that the toner has run out again – or in envelopes ready to go, with expensive first-class stamps on, on the bureau, unposted, until I think better of sending them and tear them up. Complaining to utility companies and writing to my MP about the traffic makes no difference, they shrug it off, the world turns, a politely worded but anodyne defence is received, no action taken – why create all that aggro? Just forget it.

Unposted letter syndrome, lost phone syndrome… life’s a beach, ain’t it? I spent the better part of £600 on a new laptop three weeks ago. I still haven’t found the energy, the commitment to spend another week setting up all those files, the passwords, the lost data, the fumbling back and forth to read the instructions from one machine screen to another. It’s just sitting there, one tiny light winking futilely. Soon it will vanish under the pile of angry letters accumulating around, the cat sleeping on top of it and be forgotten.

“Forgotten laptop syndrome” will be added to the list of my many syndromes, exculpating me from the failing memories of my past, the unbidden responsibility to the future. Life can be so simple with the right diagnosis.

“Simple life syndrome”.

The joy of letting go.