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

Quote of the week

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

 

Phenomenal BogPo Prophesies Corner:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give us a break, Donald.

 

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

“Miss you, Mr Mercer” – with any luck

From BBC News, 24 April:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wake up, BBC dimwits.

 

AI-up, robots!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How cool was that?

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

Now, that was one hell of a story!

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

 

GW: Kickin’ up a storm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fracking hell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote of the Week

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

 

 

STOP PRESS: Trump wins Augusta Masters golf!

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

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

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

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

 

Please don’t make me vomit, Ms McDaniel

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

 

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

Lock ’em up – again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Factoid Corner:

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

 

The Great Mystery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All water under the bridge, move on!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Factoid Corner

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Plagiarism Corner

To hell with the Illuminati, it’s the Bannonites

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

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

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

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

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

How Pope Francis became a hate figure for the far right

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

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

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

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

(Dowson had been a Presbyterian minister.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote of the Week:

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

 

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

Assange: a conundrum emerges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s not a game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russians. You sometimes wonder how that happens.

 

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

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

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

Now, wouldn’t that be blissykins?

 

In Sod we Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, it comes out of our pockets.

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

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

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

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

All public money, wasted.

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

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

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

What the hell is going on?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Factoid corner

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

 

GW: And Bolsonaro to you too

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, and it’s been snowing in Spain.

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

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

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

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

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

This is absolutely bloody terrifying.

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

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

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

Yes, Brexit makes you free, alright.

Police officers on duty as Theresa May visited Salisbury yesterday.

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

EU: What the ignorant like to hear

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

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

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

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

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

What the ignorant like to hear, in other words.

 

In nomine patri, et feel-you-up sancti

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

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

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

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

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

I suppose it depends on how young?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

GW: Gone with the wind

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

This is where our story ends…

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the Day

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

  • Uncle Bogler

 

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

The deaths of small towns

(A message to Brexit boobies)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More….

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

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

You think they care?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by

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

Who knew?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And 9.00 am and Tuesdays always pass me by.

Postscriptum: the outcome

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

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

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

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

 

Something’s got to give

Do you want the good news, or the bad?

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

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

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

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

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

Something has to give, and soon.

 

Hallelujah chorus

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

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

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

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

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

As Diana Cariboni writes on Open Democracy:

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

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

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

Welcome to Evangelical Disneyland.

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

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

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

But it’s coming our way.

Alle fuckin’ lujah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 It’s all blowing off

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

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

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

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

Just so you know.

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

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

 Endispeace

Trust us to lead you

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

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

Google of course has nothing to do with iPhones.

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

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

And that’s God’s honest truth.

John Supine fails to strike again… Ausweise, bitte #2: deregulation and the rise of the investocrats… It’s unbelievable! 3500 lies and counting… GW: “Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting”… This is not happening!

“I’m SHOCKED. Shocked, I tell you, to learn that my former Son Donald Trump Jr, my ex-Son-In-Law and trusted Advisor Jared Whats’isname, someone called Manafort I barely knew, my lyin’ lawyer Jim Cohen, who I never met, SERIOUSLY CONFLICTED Special Counsel Robert Mueller who treacherously resigned from my own Golf Club ten years ago and 17 Dems, WITCH HUNT!!!!! failed LIAR James Comey, weak Gen. Kelly, even Weaker Attorney-General Sessions, the traitor Jew Rosenstein, old Giuliani who is obviously senile but I keep him on the payroll out of pity, my friend President Kim Jong-un who BETRAYED ME BIGLY with new rockets, the DISGUSTING Fake News Media, deluded Security Director Coates, cryin’ Steve Bannon, the losin’ demoralised FBI, Crooked Hillary and the entire Democratic caucus in Congress have been COLUDING… coluding, I say, a FEDERAL CRIME, with a lot of 400-lb people out there and maybe even couldn’t be the Russians, to get DONALD TRUMP elected again… LOCK ‘EM UP!”

John Supine fails to strike again

If anyone doubts my rebranding of the BBC’s senior editor in Washington as the totally uncritical “John Sopoor”, or “John Supine”, one has only to visit BBC News, 01 August, and his reporting of a new, really disturbing, mentally deranged series of tweets from Trump.

“The president’s tweet today might be seen as relevant.”

What is this pathetic little man reporting on?

Well, let’s look at the case of the fascist thug, “Tommy Robinson” (not his real name), who has just been freed on bail by the Appeal Court in the UK after a few weeks in chokey, pretending to have been starved and abused by the Government. His crime was to broadcast his forthright views on the criminal trial of a dirty cabal of Pakistani immigrants accused of exploiting children for prostitution. We have laws relating to commenting on criminal trials while they are ongoing, and he happily made a martyr of himself by pleading guilty to contempt of court; something for which he was already on probation.

Mr Trump, who has previously attempted to minimise the role of Paul Manafort as his campaign chairman in 2016, has just tweeted out that the trial of Mr Manafort that began yesterday on a range of charges including money laundering, tax fraud and acting as an undeclared foreign agent for the kleptocrat, Viktor Yanukovitch, ousted premier of Ukraine and friend of Putin, should be halted for obscure reasons, one being apparently that, unlike Al Capone, Manafort hadn’t actually killed anybody.

It is perfectly clear that Mr Trump is terrified that Manafort will ultimately be forced by the prospect of life in prison to break and tell the Mueller investigation what he knows about “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia, about which Trump has lied expansively.

The “relevance” of which Supine feebly speaks is in fact yet more evidence, atop a vast pile of incriminating tweets in the possession of Special Counsel Mueller, of Trump’s increasingly risky and desperate attempts to shut down the investigations – perverting the course of justice; a justice that is bearing down heavily on his own past crimes; a justice he affects to despise, to which we can now add contempt of court.

So poor.

Fire him.

“In voting to Leave the EU, people obviously imagined that minimizing the numbers of foreign workers in Britain would restore their value in the jobs market.”

Ausweise, bitte #2: deregulation and the rise of the investocrats

“We also strongly recommend re-opening the debate about ID cards or some form of national identity management system to reassure people in a world of ever rising human flows that we know who is in the country, for how long, and what their entitlements are.”

Thus, Mr David Goodhart, author of The Road to Somewhere (“about the best book-length guide to Mayism anyone has produced – Guardian), “whose reservations about mass migration and support for the principle of native favouritism in the allocation of public services have made him a bête noire for liberals.” – Guardian, 30 July.

I’m afraid the BogPo is not entirely reassured. People who use expressions such as: “ever-rising human flows” do seem to have a certain sociopathic detachment from the human race, nicht war? Especially as net immigration has actually been falling, more for economic reasons than because of hostile natives like Mr Goodhart.

In other words, if you are currently an EU citizen who, probably for work purposes, needs or just wants to Remain in the UK after next April Fool’s Day, and you do not take out expensive residency rights, you should have to buy a ticket to obtain the services of the NHS, to sign-on at the JobCentre, to obtain employment, rent a room, get married, or travel in and out of the country.

(Spend too much time out and you may not be let back in.)

It seems odd to think of all those 400 thousand French illegals in London next spring, finance industry workers undocumented and skulking in the shadows, waiting for the knock on the door.

A previous attempt under the Blair government to introduce ID cards resulted in a furious public backlash, people channeling Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner: “I am not a number, I am a free man!”; and frankly, in a free country, one could see why. However, post-Brexit Britain will no longer be such a free country, despite the twisting of the f-word in the lying mouths of the Brexit conspirators.

We have already seen exposed, under Theresa May’s zero-tolerance policy towards undocumented migrants, that netted hundreds and thousands of people who were here legally but did not have the correct paperwork because their arrival predated changes in the rules, the dark underbelly of a Britain that is hostile towards outsiders, however benign and useful their presence may be*.

And frankly, my dears, when Brexiteers talk of “regaining control of our borders”, well, after 69 years in this country, born to British nationals, I have observed that on the very few occasions I travel abroad, even just to France for a week, I am obliged to enter details of my passport and nationality on applying for travel tickets, to pass through two passport controls on the way out, another on entering France, two on leaving France, and again through one more passport checkpoint on re-entering my own country; as well as being subjected to Customs declarations and sometimes searches and pointed questioning, both on leaving and re-entering the UK.

And that’s inside the borders of the EU, where the law (it’s more a theory) clearly states that you may freely travel – without a passport! Any form of ID, such as a driver’s license, should do.

If all that implies that we have somehow “lost control” of our borders, I shall hate to see what life is going to be like in HM Prison Britain, post-Brexit.

Those Brexiteers have been selling you a pile of smelly pants for years. Their authoritarian instincts qualify for a broad definition of modern “fascism”: that unholy alliance of State, capital, military and church empowered by an atmosphere of engineered mistrust, nativist exceptionalism and a confected mythology of a past golden age that conceals the virtual enslavement of an entire population.

The immigration argument has nothing to do with the facts: unemployment has continued falling throughout a period when large numbers of European immigrants have been arriving, but still a majority of Britons believe migrants are “stealing our jobs” and – perhaps more pointedly – “driving down wages”.

Importation of low-cost labor might fairly be categorized as part of the capitalists’ strategy to reduce costs and boost shareholder value. The export of manufacturing jobs to lower labor-cost countries (“globalization”) was no longer proving as cost-effective as it once did, owing to the rise of the middle-class in those countries. As workers in China became wealthier and more negotiable, China ceased to be primarily a producer-economy and is now seen more as a promising consumer market.

The obvious answer was to find people in countries like Romania and Bulgaria, new EU arrivals, who were able to sustain themselves somehow on minimal wages because of pre-existing economic and currency differentials betwixt here and there. In an era of already stagnant wages, native British workers were naturally going to resent any further drag on their incomes, and willing to ignore the real reasons for their misfortune in favor of targeting the immigrants.

In voting to Leave the EU, people obviously imagined that minimizing the presence of foreign workers in Britain would restore their value in the jobs market. There is no evidence whatever that that will happen. The unemployment rate in the USA is 3.8%, a historic low – migrant workers are being discouraged and deported wholesale – corporate taxes have been massively lowered as a bribe to raise the living standards of low-paid workers – yet wages continue to fall.

Shareholder greed – the rise of the investocrats – rampages on unabated.

With Parliament in recess and a dearth of actual politicians, who will, if they have remained awake for the past nine months, have hightailed it as far over the horizon as EasyJet can take them, it is the turn of the lobbyists to crawl out of the woodwork.

The BogPo wrote last week of the relationship between Mr Dominic Raab, the swivel-eyed Brexiteer, ardent privatizer, deregulator and advocate for free trade with anyone on any terms, who is now the fox in charge of the Brussels negotiating coop, and a hard-Brexit think-tank funded from the USA.

Our Post was based on an article in Open Democracy, but it seems other eyes too have been on the think-tank, the Institute for Economic Affairs, that since 1955 has been lobbying for an economic system based on the vaporings of Professor Hayek, the grandfather of neoliberalism and godfather to the Friedmanite monetarist economics pursued so disastrously in the 1970s by Thatcher and Reagan.

Mr Raab and the IEA have it seems enjoyed a close relationship, but the IEA has extended its tentacles deep into the Conservative party and the Leave campaign, obtaining much funding from Conservative and Christian lobby groups in the USA.

It now stands accused of, effectively, selling access to government ministers via its contacts in the party; the specific case in point being hormonally-enhanced beef producers in the state of Colorado (the beef, that is, not the producers, one hopes), two of whose representatives were caught up in a sting operation by a Greenpeace agent working undercover in collaboration with The Guardian newspaper.

“The director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (Mark Littlewood) was secretly recorded telling an undercover reporter that funders could get to know ministers on first-name terms and that his organisation was in ‘the Brexit influencing game’.

“The IEA chief was also recorded suggesting potential US donors could fund and shape ‘substantial content’ of research commissioned by the think-tank and that its findings would always support the argument for free-trade deals.” (30 July)

Such as the one-to-one free-trade deal being assiduously lobbied for by the Colorado beef producers: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/30/brexit-influencing-game-iea-us-rancher-tucker-link

But the operative question is surely, in whose interest is it to go shipping carbon-intensive meat halfway around the world, undercutting British beef producers on the basis of lower welfare and consumer safety standards than those imposed by the EU; inevitably driving down production standards in the UK and admitting rapacious US factory farming corporations and their chemical overloads to British soil on a low-or-no regulation basis.

Why do we need to buy American beef, when we can perfectly well produce our own? (Answer: because this is about a globalist ideology, not about common sense.)

And do we imagine this will be the only deal British ministers will be desperate to do, to mitigate the lunatic decision to abandon a bigger market just 26 miles away across the Channel? When the dam bursts, thousands of producers around the world will be queuing to do deals that are most definitely not in the interests either of British consumers or British producers.

But if you can drive down prices at the till, the Brexiteers will privately argue, regardless of whatever shite you are palming off on the consumer, however many British producers you drive to the wall, you can keep wages at rock-bottom, and thus sustain a higher return on capital invested; enabling shareholders to maintain the bare minimum level of investment in production capacity and pocket more of the profits for bonuses, tax-free offshoring and stock buybacks.

Claiming to be entirely a research institute for educational purposes, the IEA is a registered charity qualifying for special tax status. The Guardian story is, there are growing doubts as to whether it is in fact operating as a charity under its memorandum and articles, or whether it is a quasi-political lobbying entity undeserving of charity status; that played a key role in conning the British public into voting to leave the shelter of a well-regulated European economy.

We think the answer is pretty clear, don’t you?

*www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/aug/01/hostile-environment-immigrants-crept-into-schools-hospitals-homes-border-guards

x

It’s unbelievable! 3500 lies and counting.

Roughly 40 per cent of Americans polled say they believe everything or most things Donald Trump says. The other 60% think he tells the truth some of the time, rarely or never.

The President’s dedicated truth-checking team at The Washington Post confirms, even before the North Korea summit, in 497 days he had told over 3,250 outright, verifiable lies. Many of them are about those “enemies of the people”, the failing fake news media.

It’s a relentless assault on an objective reality he avoids living in, and upon anyone or any entity that might, if the veil were rent and the truth be told, destroy him and his carefully constructed personality cult.

Analysts seem to agree, his constant, almost hysterical undermining of alternative sources of facts is deliberately designed to enhance the tendency of his poorly educated voter base to believe only in his version of events; a classic hallmark of the dictator down the ages.

He has to do this, because he actually has no cards in his hand: he is totally out of his depth in the job and being elected to the White House has exposed his lifelong career of minor crime and business deceit to potentially prisonable scrutiny.

So we’re probably well over 3,500 now. The volume is increasing, as is the outright dishonesty of his many tweets and self-serving false statements about trade, the economy, Russia, NATO, immigrants, Brexit, the Mueller ‘witch hunt’ against him, public healthcare, tax, Senator McCain… his wealth… NO COLUSION! and the maundering garbage he spews over his adoring fans in aircraft hangars across the nation, where he has been campaigning for re-election since the day after he was elected the first time.

The frightening thing is, the adoring dumbfucks neither know nor care. What matters is that Trump says it, not whether or not it is true. For millions of Americans of the more deplorable sort, he remains the triumph of hope over expectation. Even leaders of evangelical Christian churches are instructing their congregations on pain of hellfire, never to question his innumerable marital infidelities. He has changed the landscape of America in unimaginably short order.

40% of a voter population is easily enough to create the momentum for a frighteningly authoritarian regime, of the kind Americans have ever experienced only in small doses, as perhaps during the McCarthy Communism hearings, under the anti-sedition president John Adams, or the four-term FD Roosevelt, whose authoritarianism was essentially benign, although many believe he was – horror of horrors – a Socialist.

The brainwashing is absolute. The more illusory it proves, the more the myth of the rugged individualism of the white man is invincible.

An interesting discussion of Trump’s pathological assault on reality can be found on the PBS Newshour channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNSFBgWlVyI

x

GW: “Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting” (Lennon-McCartney)

USA: Temperatures in the triple digits will remain into the first weekend of August across northern and central portions of California. Temperatures have averaged about 4 degrees above normal this summer. This includes in Redding where the explosive Carr Fire continues to blaze a path of destruction. Highs typically range from the middle 80s at the start of June to near 100 in late July in Redding. (Accuweather)

Video of the Carr fire is truly heartbreaking. Over 100 thousand acres gone – 159 square miles. How does the wildlife escape this horror? How does anyone even start to try to put it out? The sound of air burning is just terrifying. One thinks of Dresden. (CEWN #131) Are you watching, Trump, you fat, useless old cunt?

The Washington Post reports on a record-breaking hot month in California: “In July of 2017, Death Valley experienced the hottest-ever month in recorded history. On Wednesday, it will break its own record, concluding a month in which the average temperature of the valley—both day and night—was an incredible 108 degrees. (The max. 127F over five days was not quite the hottest ever reached.)* Rain falling on the town of Imperial, Ca. was measured at 119F, 48C, the hottest rain ever recorded (Wunderground).

Weirdly, temperatures on the California coast have been barely into the mid-60s F. all this time; while there have been severe storm, tornado and potentially catastrophic flood warnings out across a broad swathe of the midwest as an unusually loopy jetstream pattern persists.

Pacific: Storm Hector intensifying to a Cat 1 hurricane south of Hawaii, some trackers have it passing 50 miles from Big Island, where Mt Kilueia continues to erupt.

Caribbean: Grenada was hit by heavy rain and flooding from 01 August. The rain was caused by a tropical wave interacting with the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Landslides, flooded homes and roadways and land slippages throughout the island. Full damage assessments  yet to be carried out. (from Floodlist)

Japan: Typhoon Jongdari smashed into Honshu island Sunday with 115 mph winds and heavy seas. 140,000 homes were left without power and over 36 thousand evacuated, with around 40 injuries reported. Jongdari arrived in the wake of a record-breaking heatwave causing 80 deaths and 22 thousand people to be hospitalized, following the record rainfall, floods and landslides in the south around Hiroshima at the beginning of the month, in which around 200 people died and 8 MILLION were evacuated. 4 thousand people are still homeless.

The heatwave in Korea continues. South Korea set a new all-time heat record of 41.0°C (105.8°F) at Hongcheon, a town in the northeastern province of Gangwon. Temperatures in Seoul reached 38C, 100F and no relief in sight. Farm crops failing, fish dying, food shortages feared. (CEWN) Weather historian Maximiliano Herrera avers, this is the worst heatwave in Korean history, since last year’s. (Wunderground)

There’s further monsoon flooding in Myanmar, 10 dead, 100 thousand displaced, while 100 people are still missing following last week’s dam burst in Laos (Floodlist reports). The death toll in India‘s monsoon floods is put at 537, 58 dying in Uttar Pradesh on the 27th. Assam has re-flooded, 5 dead. 2 died in floods in the capital, Delhi, affecting 10 thousand homes. There’s severe flooding again in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

China, 176 thousand Ha (435 thousand acres) of Heilongjiang province underwater, 250 thousand homes affected. (CEWN)

Parts of eastern Australia are suffering their worst drought in living memory. About 98% of New South Wales is drought-stricken, and two-thirds of neighbouring Queensland. As a result, farmers are having to buy in food for their livestock. The government’s aid for drought-hit farmers has now topped A$1bn (£564m). Parts of Australia saw the second warmest summer on record between December and February, and the country as a whole saw its driest July since 2002. (from BBC News)

Colombia, Venezuela both experiencing severe flooding, population movement exacerbated by a MILLION refugees from Venezuela, many needing food assistance. Santo Domingo del Táchira in western Venezuela, recorded 818.6 mm of rainfall in July, 2018. This is the second highest monthly rainfall amount ever recorded in Venezuela (normally 500 mm.) (from Floodlist)

Europe: 28 July, The Washington Post reported:

“It’s the longest heat wave in Europe since 1976, and although expectations for Friday’s heat were tempered somewhat by widespread summertime storms in Britain, places in mainland Europe still baked. Amsterdam and Rotterdam posted their hottest temperatures ever recorded Thursday, 94.6 and 97 degrees (34.8 and 36.1 Celsius). London and many other cities also recorded their highest temperatures of the year over recent days. About a three-hour drive north of Paris, the French border city of Lille recorded an all-time record high of at least 99.7 degrees (37.6 Celsius).

After a cooler spell, temperatures are forecast to push up into the high 40s C in Spain and Portugal this week, possibly even touching 50C, sending a plume of hot air over the rest of Europe up into the British Isles by Friday. Holidaymakers have been warned not to go out in the daytime and 11 thousand firefighters are on standby.

Greece: The death toll in the Attica fires has risen to 91. Since 26 July Athens has been hit by powerful cyclonic winds and deluged by heavy rainfall with local flash floods. (CEWN #131). Severe flooding in Romania. Sweltering heat has trapped much of France and Germany, with crops shrivelling in the fields. In Paris, the temperature did not fall below 20C overnight for 10 nights.

Israel: record-breaking heat has encouraged widespread fires. (CEWN)

Arctic: The sea surface temperature near Svalbard (77.958°N, 5.545°E) on July 18 was 17.2°C or 63°F. This compares to an average sea surface temperature at the same location on roughly that date between 1981-2011 of 5°C or 41.1°F.

On 28 July the temperature in Banak, northern Norway, at 70 degrees of latitude, was 31.2C, 87.8F.

Arctic sea ice volume on July 9 was at a record low for the time of the year. “Sam Carana” (Arctic News blog) points out that while the extent of the ice has hardly changed, owing to fresh meltwater freezing, over a meter of thickness has gone, and “complete disappearance of Arctic sea ice in September 2018 is within the margins of a trend based on yearly annual minimum volume”; which, they warn, can happen abruptly as more heat and wave energy are pushing northwards into the region and the circumpolar jetstream is slowing down again.

Methane levels are again very high, reaching 2817 ppb on 9 July.

Criminal acts by the Trump regime

A 2014 ban on neo-nicotinoid pest killers

 

(Shutterstock.com)

* This matter of day and night temperatures raises an interesting point. When the International Panel on Climate Change or whoever reports that the average global temperature has increased by, whatever – 0.59 degrees? since whenever – 1981? they are taking the average as the median point between the highest and lowest temperatures recorded around the world, day and night, summer and winter.

Actually, if you take the average of only the highest, i.e. the noonday temperatures, which is where the heating effect is most obvious, global warming is between 2C and 4C already (and much higher at both poles). It’s the extreme temperatures that do the most damage, and record heat events vastly outnumber record cold. Hot is getting hotter!

x

This is not happening!

Five million Facebook viewers have now allegedly viewed a video by ultra-evil energy lobbyist Marc Morano, throwing up a totally spurious case to deny that man-made climate change is real and ongoing.

“Morano’s only evidence to dispute the (97%) expert consensus on human-caused global warming is to quote an economist who agrees the consensus is 90–100%, and that the experts are correct that humans are responsible for global warming.”, writes Dana Nuccitelli in The Guardian, 25 July.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/jul/25/facebook-video-spreads-climate-denial-misinformation-to-5-million-users

Morano’s other theses, that it’s impossible to separate the effects of industrial CO2 emissions from natural background changes and other causes; and that “scientists can’t say with 100% certainty that 2016 was hotter than 2015 due to the margin of uncertainty in the data”, are also lies easily debunked, if only by looking at more than the limited number of sources he has selected to feed his confirmation-bias.

(There is, for example, a single Danish survey that climate-change deniers have fixated on, showing global temperature was actually static for 19 years between 1989 and 2008. In fact the Danish scientists have since stated that their data were selectively misinterpreted by a climate-change denial blog that was picked up and amplified in the rightwing media; global temperature has NOT been static; besides, we know that each of the past 402 months (totalling 33 years) has been fractionally warmer than the equivalent month the previous year, without a break.)

Those are in any case pretty feeble premises on which to deny what anyone can see is happening just by going for a walk in the park, or by viewing the disturbing citizen-generated cameraphone images of floods and wildfires on a reliable website like Climate and Extreme Weather News. The cumulative impact is terrifyingly persuasive.

True, those things have happened in the past, but not with the intensity and frequency with which they are happening simultaneously all around the globe today. We are heating the planet many thousand times faster than the planet has ever heated itself before, the logic is remorseless: you cannot keep changing the balance of gases in the atmosphere without it having an effect – and the current weather anomalies are entirely in line with the forecast symptoms.

Endearingly, when interviewed Morano openly admits he is lying. It’s his job, his business (he runs a number of false-front climate-change denial agencies masquerading as expert scientific institutions) to try to create a case for denying the reality of a planet being dangerously warmed as a result of (mainly) carbon dioxide emissions from burning the fossil fuels profitably extracted by his paymasters.

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg earnestly explained in the face of growing catcalls and a record-breaking vertiginous plunge wiping £billions off his stock value that Holocaust deniers posting on his platform were wrong, but might perhaps have good intentions.

Fake news is everywhere, possibly even on this site, although here we do our best to insult our victims on the basis of whatever evidence of malfeasance and cretinism we can stand up through logic, prior knowledge, reason and a little superficial research.

There’s nothing any of us can really do about global warming, it’s too late anyway. The weather will go on getting more extreme, more chaotic; more people will suffer, first the poor and then creeping up the wealth scale until billionaires are huddling in their extensive underground climate-controlled bunkers, at the mercy of their private security armies; more regions of the world will cease to support normal life, to produce food and shelter, until there is nowhere left to escape to.

So if Marc Moron wants to go on yelling into the firestorm, let him. He’s (possibly) a bestial, money-grubbing American ignoramus who fucks camels in the zoo at night, just sayin’, but the only harm he’s really doing is to lull stupid teenage Facebook subscribers into a false sense of security.

It’s perhaps the best place for all of us to be now.

 

Old times

There were three women wearing white coats wandering around, seemingly doing nothing in particular, opening and closing drawers, gazing into space, in the pharmacy section of the supermarket.

I asked one if they had some astringent lotion and she replied: “Yes, but I’m sorry, I can’t serve you before two o’clock, it’s the lunch hour. We’re only allowed to dispense prescriptions.”

No-one was there having a prescription dispensed. No-one was eating lunch. The board announcing the Opening Times made no mention of a 1 p.m. hiatus.

It was just the rules.

Sometimes I feel like we’re still living in the 1950s, and it’s not particularly comforting, whatever you may think.)

“Hello, dear peeps. Al Sissi here, your beloved President. Lovely weather I brought you, no? Please take advantage of our free hanging service while Muslim Brotherhood stocks last. Concessions available for teenagers and mentally retarded.”

The BogPo is closing down now for a week of fun and frolicking with a catheter bag, sandals and a microphone. I know, but what can you do? It’s August. You’ll just have to think for yourselves.

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.

x

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!

x

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