The deaths of small towns… 9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by… 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.

So much for your ludicrous, Union flag-waving ‘sovereignty’, you now live in a dictatorship. How many times in history has a 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. It actually has its own 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 Tuesdays always seem to pass me by.

 

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.

Advertisements

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.”

x

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

Brexit means sod it…

In one scenario, “not even the worst”,

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

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

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

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

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

Apocalyptic, even.

x

Alone at last.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See what happens.

Can’t hurt.

 

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

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

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

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

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

Ausweise, bitte.

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

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

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

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

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

Are we any better?

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

What’s left of them.

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

x

GW: kickin’ up a storm

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

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

It goes on, and on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CEWN #125/ Floodlist/

x

Fantasy fiction

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

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

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

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

Analysts who write absurd papers like that require psychiatric help.

 

Happy landings

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

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

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

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

Express/ CNN/ Dutchsinse/ BBC News/ Floodlist/

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

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

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

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

The disruptors have won.

Mr Putin has won.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This smells very bad, for two reasons.

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

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

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

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

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

But they won’t, until it is too late.

And now it probably is.

x

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

Theft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are living in awfully dangerous times.

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

There’s a word for that.

Theft.

x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who ordered Flynn to do that?

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

Mr Trump is now in deep trouble.

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t answer that.

x

Is the weather trying to tell us something?

GW: the war on cars

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

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

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

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

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

For they mostly appear to show cars.

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

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

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

Just an observation.

Just sayin’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Election Special

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

“Labour wins Kensington”.

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

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

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

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

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

“They set up a terrible baying noise”

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

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

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

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

x

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

 Too much of a coincidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Draining the Swamp: Mr Trump goes to Wall Street.

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

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

America: land of living history

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

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

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

Living history, indeed.

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

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

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

You see where this has to go?

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

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

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

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

A time of contradictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get to it!

x

Who guards the Guardian?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck you.

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

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

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

Wankers.

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

Bollocks to that, frankly.

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

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

Well.

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

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

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

 

Postscriptum

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, sorry, she is the Taliban.

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

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

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

x

A ruddy good show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The authors of The Guardian report concluded:

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

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

x

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

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

And then became a merchant banker.

Lock her up!

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

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

“And now the news where you are….”

Hi.

This is where I am, right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You know how it goes, the politics of envy.

A bunch of sheep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave the poor man alone!

 

The art of the steal

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

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

Whouawahwouaah… eerie flashback music….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Director of what?’ I asked.

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

‘Something like that’, he replied sheepishly.

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

Tate union rep Tracy Edwards said:

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

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

Yep, I know exactly how that feels.

Fucking shits.

x

Dear Clive James

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring. Who needs it.