Signs and Portents… How to get yourself elected leader #1: Piss your staff off… He’s a very naughty boy… Bunga-bunga: Boris exposes himself… GW: Baked Alaska #2

Crash out – cash in! Trebles all round…

Quote of the week

(Post a Johnson/Truss Brexit in the Autumn): “a terrifying future will open up: a few people creaming it in, while millions of ill, poor, eternally insecure people remain glued to their smartphones to either await their next casual shift in a fulfilment centre or spend whatever crumbs they are paid on the latest useless innovation. Such are the uplands of freedom offered by a party that seems to have lost what was left of its moral bearings, and resolved not to unchain us, but to imprison Britain in true-blue stupidity.” – John Harris, The Observer, 7 July.

 

Signs and Portents

So let’s be straight about this. Significant events are occurring.

The last weekend of June and first week of July 2019 have offered us the following encouragement:

Hottest ever June temperatures recorded in Germany (39.6C) and eastern Europe: Spain (43C), Cuba (39C) and Anchorage, Alaska (35C); June temperature anomalies in England (35C), Iceland (22C). 33C in Washington DC (along with heavy rain) for Independence Day. June declared “hottest ever” globally.

More than 180 wildfires are burning in the western Canadian province of British Columbia, prompting the authorities to declare a state of emergency. It’s the first state of emergency declared by the province in 14 years. (BBC)

Massive rainfall events in India (Maharashtra, Assam); Kyushu island, Japan (over 1.5 metres); Haiti; China and Vietnam, with many casualties. 170 dead*, 400 injured in “1 in a century” Siberia floods. 1 July, a freak hailstorm buries Guadalajara in Mexico under 1.5 meters of ice.

*later reports scale back to 23, with 8 missing.

In mid-Pacific, an ordinary tropical storm, Barbara intensifies from 65mph to a huge, 155 mph Cat 4/5 hurricane literally overnight, heading for Hawaii. A report on Antarctica reveals, sea ice is melting many times faster than in the Arctic – from record high winter extent to record low in five years.

A Chinese report says that partly thanks to Brazilian fertiliser runoff from Amazon clearances, the Sargasso Sea in summer now extends 5,500 miles across the Atlantic, creating a great stinking mass and ruining coastal fisheries and tourist beaches.

Huge seismic disturbances around the Pacific rim – volcanoes in the Kuril islands and the Aleutians; M6.2 and 7.1 earthquakes in Canada and California; now a 7.1 in the North Molucca sea. Worrying magma intrusion at Yellowstone supervolcano. Stromboli, Sicily major eruption. Mauna Loa (world’s largest), Hawaii is placed on alert.

Trump decides to defy a Supreme Court ruling on the inclusion of a citizenship question on next year’s census form, threatens to delay the census; upholds detentions of children and migrants in illegal “concentration camps” and stages an unprecedented, $multi-million military parade for the 4th of July, with himself as the centerpiece, putting tanks on the streets in Washington. Fascist? Surely not.

Satellite data released during the week showed that an area of the Amazon rainforest the size of a football field is once again being cleared for short-term cattle grazing and soybean production – one hectare is lost every minute.

The former head of MI6 confirms, the security establishment thinks neither of the two Conservative candidates for UK PM, nor Labour leader Corbyn, is fit for office. Sir John Sawers describes Britain as going through “a political nervous breakdown.”

Boris Johnson has had to deny reports that MI6 witheld information from him at a security briefing because he is vulnerable to blackmail. OpenDemocracy reports on the bunga-bunga parties where “nothing is off the table”, that he attends unsupervised at the Umbrian palazzo of his friend, newspaper proprietor, Putin crony and son of a KGB officer, mini-oligarch Evgeny Lebedev.

Germany reports factory orders nosediving, down 8.6% year on year, amid a global slowdown. Turkey’s economy is in recession. UK’s already poor productivity shrank for the third consecutive quarter: UK technically in recession. It’s the first anniversary of Trump’s globally damaging trade war against China, with no outcome to talks, thanks to the president’s “volatility”.

Giant Deutsche Bank has begun laying off 18,000 staff globally, claiming (without reference to the probably illegal Trump loans and defaults and the $billions in fines for money-laundering and interest rate manipulation) that it has overextended itself since the crash of 2008. Its shares rise on the news that shareholders will not be asked to pay for the restructuring. That’s capitalism in a nutshell.

15-year-old American qualifier, Cori “Coco” Gauff knocks out five-times Grand-Slam champion Venus Williams and then progresses to the 4th round, 2nd week at Wimbledon.

So what happens next week, I wonder?

A warning has been issued for virtually the whole of continental Europe and across the Mediterranean into Morocco with threat for severe supercell storms, capable of producing severe winds, torrential/excessive rainfall, large to very large hail and some tornado threat.” (Severe-weather.eu) Meanwhile, Accuweather has yet more heavy rainstorms moving into the northeast corner of the US, posing a threat to the Daytona “Indy” meeting, and the possibility of storm cells now crossing the Gulf toward Texas merging into something more serious.

Will do, for a start. More warnings about Boris de-fucking Johnson might also help.

 

How to get yourself elected leader #1: Piss your staff off

“Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt said he could cancel civil servants’ summer holidays to prepare for no deal. ‘All government departments will be expected to act on the basis that we are leaving without a deal on 31 October,’ said Mr Hunt. ‘All August leave will be cancelled unless I receive a signed letter from the relevant permanent secretary saying that preparations in his or her department are on time and on track.'”

Don’t he just remind you of your old form master? “Unless the boy who put superglue on my chair owns up, I shall keep the whole class in for detention!”

You may remember, the Department for Exciting the EU hired or transferred about five thousand extra civil servants in January to put Britain on a wartime footing, at a cost of £1.4 billion, and then stood them all down again when the EU helpfully extended the 30 March deadline for leaving to 31 October.

Now they’re all being hired again and a panicked Foreign Secretary Hunt is issuing ultimatums like the headless chicken he is, just to reassure the Tory dumbfucks we’re really leaving, and to hell with the economy and the Union.

This is our money, yours and mine, that is being pissed down the drain, again, by these dismal incompetents.

A modest proposal: I suggest we impose double taxes on anyone who voted Leave.

 

(2 earlier articles have been removed for length.)

He’s a very naughty boy

The Foreign Office has described as “mischievous behavior”, a set of confidential memos leaked to the Mail on Sunday, in which Britain’s ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, has evaluated the Trump administration as dysfunctional and diplomatically inept, and expects it could “end in disgrace”.

Needless to add, Trump has tweeted that he has no idea who Darroch is, and has never liked him anyway. And from now on he is refusing to allow the State Department to speak to him. So there!

This infantile overreaction is, of course, quite deliberate and, indeed, collusive. Just as Trump refuses to accept his election was compromised by the Russian activity he privately endorsed, he is quite happy to interfere in British politics to bring about regime change. He has thrown crude and inaccurate nonsense at Prime Minister May over her handling of the EU negotiations – in his infinite stupidity the Great Deal Maker thinks she should have “sued” the EU! – and has blatantly supported the candidacy of minority interest, Boris Johnson.

Why we don’t complain about his interference, and tell him to piss off and mind his own business, I don’t know. Especially when just one sensible remark by his predecessor, Mr Obama, about post-Brexit trade created a huge rightwing media shitstorm and invoked a racist tirade from that nice Mr Farage. Trump only understands people who stand up to him; he constantly demands, but privately despises, fawning obedience. It shows weakness.

The memos were leaked to a journalist, Isobel Oakshott, who has staked her dubious reputation on propagandising for the UK’s version of the alt-right and the extreme Brexit tendency, and has long been photographed in the company of “bad boys” Arron Banks, the millionaire-ish funder of law-breaking Leave campaigns who refuses to say where his money comes from, although it is Russia; and Farage, Trump’s elevator boy, whom Trump has decided to reward with Darroch’s ambassadorship.

Unfair, perhaps, as Darroch is only doing what ambassadors are supposed to do, reporting back to his masters what everyone on the planet other than Trump himself and his inarticulate dumbfucks has been publicly saying, over and again, since long before the inauguration. God alone knows what mistaken twaddle ambassador “Woody” Johnson is sending back to the echoing vaults of the deserted State Department about us.

Laughing off his seemingly perfectly accurate and dutiful assessments, given that he is so far not wrong as to be accused of bias towards the Shite House, an FO spokesmouth assured us, our “special relationship” with the fact-bending malignant narcissist and his ever-revolving team of feral clowns and one-legged lion tamers will undoubtedly survive.

Under Johnson, a funded climate-change denier and domestic abuser endorsed by President Trump in person, it probably will. But it looks like the end of Darroch’s diplomatic career.

Nothing, however, seems likely to derail “Sir” Lynton Crosby’s masterly plan to get Johnson over the line by preventing him from saying or doing anything in public – anything at all. Not even when OpenDemocracy dot Net claims to have evidence that Johnson is funded by the same dark-money channel that in 2016 gave £435 thousand to the Leave.EU campaign via the DUP, who still refuse to say where the money came from.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/revealed-boris-russian-oligarch-and-page-3-model/

In a Guardian editorial, however, it seems there’s speculation as to who might have compiled this lengthy series of reports and released them now, in an apparent attempt to discredit Europhile civil servants, boost Boris Johnson’s chances and revive Nigel Farage’s campaign to have himself nominated as ambassador to the USA – a mad idea Trump has previously encouraged.

After all, Nige is going to have to find a new job after 31 October, when to his delight we crash out of the EU, his crass LBC jaw-in ceases to have a willing audience and he can cash in his markers from all those Washington lobbyists.

“Crash out – Cash in!” is a T-shirt I’m planning to send him. Brexit – kerching!

 

Bunga-bunga: Boris exposes himself

“Boris declined the offer of the private jet, and flew to Pisa airport in Italy on Easyjet. He also opted to leave his close-protection officers from the Metropolitan Police behind in the UK. “… (Model, well-lashed Katie Price flashes Boris her tired old tits* over dinner…) “Britain’s foreign secretary had just put himself in an extremely embarrassing situation, and had put at risk the one asset the Foreign and Commonwealth Office values above all else: control. ‘This is a hand grenade too far,’ (another guest) Joan Collins reportedly said.”

When Joan Collins, who, incidentally, is lovely – I interviewed her once and she couldn’t have been kinder – shows that she has a better sense of decorous British diplomacy than Alexander Boris fucking absolutely dePfeffel Bunga-bunga Watermelon Picanninnies Fuckbusiness Johnson, 54 and in crisis, we are surely screwed.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/revealed-boris-russian-oligarch-and-page-3-model/

*A cinematic quote: “Here come those tired old tits again” – Peter Finch, in John Schlesinger’s Sunday, Bloody Sunday.

 

GW: Baked Alaska #2

More evidence that where the patchy Indian monsoon has arrived, rainfall is exceptional. Heavy rainfall in south-eastern Bangladesh has caused landslides and flooding affecting Rohingya refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazaar. UNHCR has temporarily relocated 2,137 people. More heavy downpours are expected through next week. Teknaf Upazila, the southernmost point in mainland Bangladesh close to the Myanmar border, recorded 753.60 mm of rain from 01 to 08 July; double the average for the whole of July. (From Floodlist)

Heavy rain has also triggered floods in parts of eastern China. Disaster authorities report that 6,351 people have been relocated and a total of 228,000 affected in Jiangxi Province since last week. According to China’s National Meteorological Center, 225.6mm of rain fell in Guangchang in 24 hours to 07 July.

Europe: “More showers and strong winds will batter Denmark and Germany bringing temperatures below average levels for this time of the year. But a completely different picture will be painted for the south of Europe this weekend when Italy, France and Spain could reach temperatures of up to 41C.” (Express) That was on Friday 5 July. Euronews reports, water temperatures in the Mediterranean are excessively hot, threatening marine life.

USA: In the wake of Trump’s triumphal parade and his bizarre history lesson to the assembled multitude (also quite inaccurate, apparently), Washington DC has been deluged, with a month’s worth of rain falling in just a few hours on 07 July at a rate of 3-in. per hour and flash flood warnings out. A storm cell had got stalled over the city by a hiccup in the jetstream. The White House basement was flooded.

Heavy rain continues too over the flood-hit Great Plains, while a Tropical Storm (Barry) is brewing in the Gulf. Unusually, it started over land in Georgia and moved out to sea, where water temperatures are over 31C, but will come ashore again in Texas, with up to 5-in. of rain expected – possibly even as a Cat 1 hurricane.

Baked Alaska #2

The US’s largest and least populated state, spanning the Arctic circle, Alaska is in trouble. “Sam Carana” – Arctic-news.blogspot.com – writes:

“Fires are raging over Alaska. … Nullschool images show carbon monoxide (as high as 43,443 ppb) and carbon dioxide (as high as 561 ppm) at the same spot on July 8. The situation looks set to further deteriorate as high temperatures are forecast. For July 10, temperatures as high as 35.5°C or 95.8°F are forecast. One image shows very high sea surface temperature anomalies off the coast … (warmer river waters entering the Arctic ocean) … while a further image shows a deformed jet stream. … Changes to the jet stream are caused by the rapid heating of the Arctic.”

In other words, ‘splains GW, there’s a feedback loop: as the Arctic warms, the jetstream deforms, bringing even warmer air and water up into the Arctic. In a further feedback, rapidly thawing permafrost is releasing more warming CO2 and the more potent greenhouse gas, methane, to the air.

It’s not a good outlook. The following item, however, beats all bounds for the most breathtaking lie yet uttered by the psycho in the White House, virtually whose first act on obtaining the Presidency was to cancel an Obama-era prohibition on coal companies dumping slurry in the rivers, and who has since removed the cap on emissions from fracking and lowered standards for vehicle exhausts:

The New York Times’ “Monday Briefing” reports:

President Trump listed his environmental accomplishments in a speech from the White House that seemed aimed at voters dismayed by his record.
He said his priorities were “being a good steward of public land,” reducing carbon emissions and promoting the “cleanest air” and “crystal clean” water.
But Mr. Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the international Paris climate change accord, sought to roll back or weaken more than 80 environmental regulations and ceded global environmental leadership, so critics were outspoken.
David Victor, director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego, called the speech “a true 1984 moment.”
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You can sing for your water… And you can sing for your money… Nature Notes… My legacy… GW: Wet, wet, wettest… Thursday’s BogPo bubbling up

Khyber Puss

Former minister and adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister, Mr Shaukat Yousafzai was giving a briefing to reporters in Peshawar when a member of his social media team inadvertently switched on the cat filter. The event was streamed live on Facebook.

“It was several minutes before organisers realised that the minister had acquired pointy ears.” (Guardian)

Absolute Idiocy (AI)

Prof Adrian Cheok, who advocates sex with robots and makes ferocious ad hominem Twitter attacks on fellow academics for querying his ethics, has been made a member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s birthday honours for “significant service to international education”.

Prof Cheok is also campaigning for a new college to be set up to teach “Trumpism”. (Guardian Australia)

 

GW special:

You can sing for your water

Every year by this time, members of a world-music choir I used to sing with have been rehearsing earnestly for weeks before heading off somewhere – usually to one of our capital cities – to perform at a mini-festival called “Sing for Water”, in aid of charities helping to bring fresh drinking water to remote communities in Africa and other places unreached as yet by civic amenities.

It’s all jolly worthwhile, although I never went along, as I no longer travel – at least, I have become psychologically unable to travel to any place I haven’t been before and feel secure in knowing I can find my way both there and back. Plumbed-in – intubated – catheterized as my bladder is to a leaky reservoir strapped to my leg, I no longer feel comfortable in cities or among friends.

Also I’m somewhat hampered by having as my constant companions in pensionhood, two dependent, fur-bearing, quadrupedal mammalian associates who aren’t always welcome everywhere as they should be, creating logistical problems.

Nor any drop to drink. While outside my window, again… (Google images)

We often read, don’t we, that the world is running out of fresh drinking water. It’s an odd complaint, in my singularly unfashionable view. There are places where the climate produces long, deep droughts, I acknowledge, that are getting longer and deeper. Glaciers that used to feed streams are vanishing. And over-extraction from underground aquifers is a real problem in areas of intensive water use, such as mining, certain manufacturing processes and in fruit-exporting communities.

But, standing next to our local river, a broad, shallow affair spring-fed by many tributaries from the hills upstream, I am often struck by the thought that millions upon millions of gallons of water – fresh and drinkable up to the point opposite, where the town sewage works discharges its load of e-coli – are just pouring day and night into the oceans, totally wasted.

As we read, too, of global heating, and the fearful feedback loops it may produce, runaway emissions cycles feeding on themselves, I gaze heavenward and see only huge, solid-looking castles and towers and mountains and general lumps of dark-grey cumulus cloud (it’s been like this for the past three weeks, raining on and off with only rare glimpses of the sun), and am reminded that a warming atmosphere holds more water vapor, and a warming ocean transpires more water vapor; that water vapor causes more heating, and that reports of floods around the world indeed speak of heavier rainfall than of yore.

Rain is fresh, drinkable water.

Global heating for now at least is producing more, not less, drinkable water; a vast natural desalination plant. A free resource, like Shakespeare’s Mercy, it droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven upon the place beneath. Very often now, that appears to be formerly hot desert regions like Arizona, Namibia, north Africa, Yemen, Iran – even Saudi Barbaria has had its share of flooding this year.

Where we feebly watch it gurgling down the drain; bearing away Hunzi’s tennis balls to the beach; or we crouch by helplessly in evacuation shelters while our neighbors drown, diseases breed, food crops perish and water snakes swim about venomously. For of course, occasional floods are of little use in relieving drought.

There’s something wrong with the human spirit, I feel, when it cannot and will not resolve the problem of people suffering from want of the stuff in one part of the world, while the rest of us wander around in another, moaning about a supersufficiency falling unforgivingly from the sky at inconvenient times and flowing down to the salty sea.

Even the Romans had a solution to move water to where it was needed. But water-aid charities and their boreholes are just a drop in the bucket, while many cities around the globe are approaching Point Zero – evermore severe rationing, followed by dry faucets, riots and death.

I envisage instead, trains of huge drogues, towed sausage-like across the ocean by tugs, and networks of pipelines no-one could possibly object to, connecting carefully designed reservoirs. An end to muddy boreholes, bilharzia and the drudgery of the standpipe.

That would only be if the brutal, self-aggrandizing, pockmarked little kleptocrats of the drought-stricken “shithole” regions were to stop stuffing their Swiss bank accounts with US oil money and cease buying more weapons with which to oppress their people.

Stupidly when, if only they would provide safe drinking water, so easy and cheap to do, the people would surely love them to bits.

 

And you can sing for your money…

“Hello P….”, reads the email that just popped into my tray.

“As part of our regular review of savings rates and the market, we’ve made the decision to reduce the interest rates on our variable savings accounts by 0.15%….”

Oh, goody.

0.15% is fuck-all of basically fuck-all to begin with, on my balance the earnings are already literally pennies a year, a rate of glacial progress no longer seen in nature, but what the hell, we’re a bank, it’s what we do.

Screw borrowers, ripoff savers. Make decisions, toddle off to lunch.

I can honestly put hand to heart and swear, I have never, ever received an email from a bank informing me brightly that they’ve “made a decision” to increase the interest rate on a savings account.

Just never happens.

But apparently, says the email, there are other accounts available with better rates (only probably longer extraction times) and I’m free to move my money into one of those if I like, and why wouldn’t I, so what’s the point? Why don’t they either just move it for me, or just, er, not reduce the rate on the one I’m in in the first place?

Yes, well, we’re a bank…

 

Nature Notes...

The aforesaid weeks of June monsoon, coming on top of a promising sunny start to May, early spring budburst (much of it frazzled by Storm Hannah in March but now happily recovering from auxiliary buds), a mild winter and just slightly above normal temperatures by day and night, have combined to create yet another astonishing outburst of greenery in the valley, new growth reaching already above my head.

Amid the profusive tumble of vegetation competing for space and light along the track are many wildflowers I have never seen before, and am struggling to identify. It’s partly because the council has no money to pay someone to strim it, and all the better for that. I’m enjoying the word ‘vetch’, which seems to apply in many cases. Where in places the trees overhang the path along by the river and the undergrowth crowds in, the air hangs heavy, still and damp, and it’s almost like walking through a tropical, or at least subtropical rainforest.

Soon, as the questing pale-green tendrils of the briars reach out across the paths to snag us, we shall need to be swinging pangas to get through, wearing puttees to ward off ticks, keeping a wary eye out for snakes and Welsh jaguars.

Our walks these late spring days are enlivened by an audible increase in cheerful-sounding birdsong, while the insect population does seem marginally recovered – although still very few bees, nevertheless they are here in appreciably more numbers than last year, when the “Beast from the East” interrupted everything. Some small, specialized caterpillar infestation has reduced much of the young hogweed foliage to skeletal shreds. Three orange-tailed bumblebees came browsing on my tiny, mauve-flowering patch of chives during a rare appearance of the sun one day last week.

Perhaps all is not lost quite yet.

I have wondered if the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is playing its part in the extraordinary efflorescence of our little river valley. In which case, this is the place to come for a draft of bracing oxygen to help propel us along, leaping nimbly out of the way of cyclists, who all seem to have adopted a fashion this year for big, fat, squishy tyres on their bikes.

It hasn’t stopped their reckless speeding and seeming inability to fit a bell with which to blast you out of their way as they approach silently from behind. I have trained Hunzi to the word “Bicycle!”, whereon hearing it he knows to get off the path and wait. But if we don’t see them coming until too late, much cross swearing goes on. The sense of entitlement is extraordinary.

I would take to two wheels myself, indulge in a bit of virtue signalling, but my GP tells me my recent MRI scan showed my prostate is now enormous. Even sitting square on a chair, let alone a bicycle saddle, with a rubber tube running through it is agony. He also tells me there is an accompanying “nodule”, which the specialist, off whose list I was struck three weeks ago for the new NHS list-reducing crime of failing to reply to a routine letter in time, chose not to tell me about.

Oh dear. Never mind, I’m sure it’s nothing. As my GP says, 80 percent of the dissected cadavers of men over 90 show that they have lived perfectly happily with undetected prostate cancer for years and it has not ultimately killed them. Or was it the other way around?

The latest thinking apparently is, it’s better not to know. Treatment may only make things worse. Just get on with it, is their motto. No-one lives for ever, not under a Tory government.

 

My legacy

I really do mean to get on with recording that album of 12 acapella jazz songs I’d planned. I’d love to have it done and packaged in time to take a few copies to France, amaze my tutors. I don’t think anyone has done it before. In this case it’s not vanity, but a total dearth of willing and competent jazz pianists in the area that is impelling this seeming indulgence in a possibly mad venture.

But I’ve discovered that my expensive virgin French tape reels don’t fit tightly on the spindles of the analog recorder I acquired last October, that I have not yet even dared switch to Record. They have a tendency to wobble and fly off. The spindles themselves have no clasps to keep the reels firmly in place.

And I had forgotten that in summer, my voice becomes husky and reedy and I get a cough and watering eyes and run out of puff from breathing pollen and enhanced traffic pollution from the street outside; while the extra holiday traffic sets up a constant, invasive din.

It’s never going to happen, is it.

 

Within hours of reports in US media that the coach of NBA champions, the Toronto Raptors, had demurred over an invitation to the White House, headlined as “Trump snubbed”, four people have been injured in a shooting at a Raptors’ victory parade in Toronto. The Pumpkin telegraphs that he hopes there’s no connection.

 

GW: Wet, wet, wettest

Some new areas feature in this Thursday’s extreme weather events calendar, compiled with thanks as ever to the diligent folks at Copernicus’ “Floodlist” website, and others:

Mongolia: “As many as 12 people have lost their lives in recent flooding. Mongolia Red Cross said that heavy rain began on 15 June, causing flooding in parts of the capital, Ulaanbaatar and nearby areas. Many roads have been blocked and drivers left stranded. Some flights from Ulaanbaatar were cancelled or delayed. The heavy rain was accompanied by strong winds. Several buildings suffered severe damage and 2 buildings were completely destroyed in Bayantsogt.” (Floodlist) The weather follows a month of wildfires.

Azores: “Raging flash floods swept through streets on the islands of Terceira and São Jorge, 16 June, damaging homes and vehicles. The worst hit area was the municipality of Angra do Heroísmo on Terceira Island, where 30 of 36 incidents occurred. Nine people were evacuated from their homes. Angra do Heroísmo recorded 108.1mm of rain in 24 hours to 17 June. Mean total rainfall for June is normally 48.5mm.” (from Floodlist)

Greenland: Temperatures in the north of Greenland peaked last week at a provisional 17.3C, 63F, making it warmer than parts of the UK. On 15 June, the Washington Post reported, temperatures over parts of Greenland were 22C above normal. Above-average temperatures over nearly all of the Arctic during May have led to early ice retreat, with the second-lowest extent in the 40-year satellite record being registered. A sudden rise in Greenland ice-melt at the beginning of June exceeded the 1981-2010 median by over 30%. About a million sq m of sea ice has been lost six weeks early. (From: Guardian Green Light)

Brazil: “A heavy downpour lasting around 6 hours hit parts of Pernambuco state on 13 June, causing over 100 incidents of flooding and landslides in several areas”, including the cities of Goiana and Recife. 7 people are reported killed, including 5 people in a landslide in Camaragibe. “Goiana recorded 198mm of rain on 13 June.” (Floodlist)

China: “88 people have now died as a result of heavy rain, floods and landslides in southern and central provinces over the last few weeks. The rain has spread to more areas including Hunan and Guangdong. Over 6 million people have been affected, with 388,000 displaced. As many as 17,000 houses have collapsed and a further 82,000 damaged. 17 people are thought to be still missing. Emergency services have rescued a total of 5,060 people and assisted with the emergency evacuation of 14,542 people. Vast areas of crops have also suffered damage.” (Edited from Floodlist)

India: A state of emergency has been imposed in Bihar after the heatwave that’s been tormenting the subcontinent for weeks left 184 people dead and several hospitalised. Gaya and Patna recorded temperatures above 45C, 113F on Saturday. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have witnessed temperatures over 46 degrees on a regular basis and occasionally in excess of 50C. At one point during the last 30 days, over 10 places across India witnessed the hottest temperatures on the planet. (India Today) The city of Chennai has cut water supplies by 40% as drought has emptied four main reservoirs. 21 Indian cities are expected to run out of groundwater by 2020. Poor management is principally to blame, says a govt. thinktank. (Guardian)

USA: “Heavy rain could cause localized flash flooding across an expansive area this week, from the southern and central Plains to the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic. Scattered severe storms are possible each day, posing mainly a risk of damaging wind gusts and large hail. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are ongoing from Texas into the mid-Atlantic. Flash flooding has been reported south of Cleveland, Ohio, 17 June.” The Mississippi river has crested again in Louisiana, just short of the level that would force the army to open a key spillway and flood potentially $2 billion of crops. (The Weather Channel) Accuweather is warning of more tornadoes in the midwest on Wednesday (19 June), while its meteorologists are monitoring an area in the West Pacific for a possible typhoon forming on a potential track from Guam to the Philippines.

Europe: Heavy thunderstorms and hail have been continuing over the weekend across large areas of eastern Europe and the Balkans. Zagreb, capital of Croatia was “hit by a thunderstorm and gale-force winds that ripped off rooftops and left one person dead and 22 injured. Cyclone Teodor was created by bad weather in northern Europe and formed overnight as a secondary storm over the northern Adriatic, bringing damaging waves and high winds, reaching 200 km (124 mph) per hour along the Adriatic coast and causing traffic suspensions on land and sea. Hundreds of trees were ripped out, Croatian Radio said.” (From: Earth Changes Media)

UK: Torrential rain and thunderstorms have hit parts of the UK overnight as unsettled weather continued to cause disruption across the country. Homes were left without power and roads were flooded in parts of the south-east, while Lenham in Kent had 42mm of rain between 11 pm and midnight. Eastbourne in East Sussex is said to have had about 1,000 lightning strikes in an hour. (Guardian)

Tunnel approaching….

The Munch Bunch

Italy: Against a background of reports of the decimation of global insect populations, “A swarm of locusts enveloped Sardinia off the coast of Italy last week. Local farmers reported it was the worst infestation they had seen since the end of World War II. The Italian agricultural association Coldiretti released a statement on Tuesday saying ‘We are walking on a locust carpet.'” (breakingisraelnews) France24 reports, over 2,000 Ha of crops were damaged. The phenomenon has affected several parts of the Mediterranean this year and is reportedly due to a wet year last year, following a drought in 2017.

Media: Just gettin’ it on… Taking a chance on love… Loony Tunings (Guitar Bore alert)… Futuropathy: latest… GW: the climes, they are a’ changin’… RIP Trevor.

Quote of the Week

“We can only speculate about how much more embedded public knowledge of the EU’s benefits would be today if she (Thatcher) and other leading politicians had explained rather than obfuscated; if the basics had been taught in schools and reported honestly in the media. … Instead, the public has remained largely uninformed about the economic advantages of the EU and its ‘frictionless’ single market, for which Thatcher herself pushed so hard.”– David Conn, in The Guardian, 4 Feb.

Given that Nissan chose to locate in Britain for reasons most strongly connected with these islands as gateways to both the European and US markets, Conn points out that Thatcher could have opened the new Sunderland Nissan plant in 1986 with a speech about those opportunities. Instead, she chose characteristically to spin the massive Japanese investment purely as a vote of confidence in good old British know-how.

And many of those who voted Leave still believe in her John Bull-shit, even as they see their jobs vanishing in a puff of good old British smoke; while the Brexit politicians scramble to accuse the EU of treachery, having agreed a tariff-free trade deal on car imports from… Japan, just as we were leaving.

The BogPo consoles itself with the thought that continuing car manufacturing at all in the face of climate disaster is a Thoroughly Bad Thing. If the (entirely foreign-owned) car industry in the UK relocates abroad post-Brexit, we can say, hand on heart, we did our bit to save Humanity.

“You may most certainly not grab my pussy, Herr Juncker. Not without a change to the backstop!” (Photo: Geert Vanden/Guardian)

Medea

Just gettin’ it on

“Winter has arrived with savage consequences for digital publishers, including BuzzFeed. In the space of two weeks, about 2,100 jobs have been lost across the media, with many disappearing from purely digital publishers. BuzzFeed’s layoffs amounted to 15% of its total staff, a loss of around 220 jobs across all departments, including in its widely admired New York newsroom.” (Guardian report)

I got a bit confused, the first time I searched for Buzzfeed, to be confronted with a page of the usual garbage ‘Daily Mail’-type stories about Z-list celebs and shows I’d never heard of, recipes, weather reports and clickbait for Harry Potter fans, only without bikinis.

The layout looked like amateur night at the Krazy Kidz Kut’n’Paste emporium, but I guess they must have focus-grouped it, gettin’ down wiv da ‘hood, and all that.

I’d heard they were a really hot breaking news site. There are a couple of newsish stories today, some predictable stuff on Brexit, something about the Duchess of Markle. Since my first shock exposure, I’ve relied on other media quoting Buzzfeed news, a service I never managed to find. They seem well respected in the business.

However, the business is fast disappearing.

“…the past decade has been catastrophic. Between 2008 and 2017, the number of newsroom jobs in US newspapers dropped by 45%, to 39,000, and all US newsroom jobs, including TV and radio, declined by 23% overall.”

The reason seems to be twofold.

One, viewers and readers are tuning to their mates on Instagram as more reliable sources of information, believing in Trump’s truth, that the conventional mainstream media are fake news.

(It seems to your Old Uncle that the media at least tries to represent the truth, while it’s life that’s increasingly fake.)

And no publisher has been able to find a business model that doesn’t involve driving prospective readers headlong into a paywall, forcing people to look at irrelevant ads by pinning their eyes open with digital safety pins, spattering cookies and legal spyware over your computer, or conning readers with low-cost subscription offers they can’t cancel when the price shoots up.

Where your Uncle Bogler feels there is a disconnect in online journalism, is between the urge to inform a loyal readership of their views, and the site owners’ futile desire to make huge profits. Falling between the two, is the natural hope of the hacks to be paid for their time and trouble.

And you can never tell in this business, what might suddenly go wrong. The drink-drive conviction and divorce trials of inexplicably popular presenter Ant McPartlin and his voluntary incarceration in rehab were said to have cost ITV £1.3 Billion in lost share value last year. Ad revenues continue to fall, as the uncertainties of Brexit seems to have affected companies’ marketing budgets.

I’d go further into that, were it not for the annoying paywall Campaign magazine hides behind. I’m not going to subscribe for a year just to read the lead paragraph of only one article, as I have no interest in the rest. Can’t they understand that, and just allow superficial researchers a peep?

(The New Yorker magazine has quite a successful policy of allowing people who receive their daily email digest for free, to view four actual articles a month. Then they bombard you day and night with special subscription offers.)

All I can say is, bad luck. The Boglington Post, with its lately rather silent sister bogl, The Pumpkin, remains rock solid on a readership now averaging 4 a day, and has no plans to downscale. Our own business model is very simple:

Keep on ’til the fun stops. Don’t stop ’til you get it on. Etc.

 

Taking a chance on love

In the wake of the 69-year-old Dutchman who lost a court case to have 20 years knocked off his life because he felt discriminated against on dating sites, comes a report that a “27-year-old Indian man plans to sue his parents for giving birth to him without his consent.”

“Mumbai businessman Raphael Samuel told the BBC that it’s wrong to bring children into the world because they then have to put up with lifelong suffering. … In a statement, his mother Kavita Karnad Samuel explained: ‘I must admire my son’s temerity to want to take his parents to court knowing both of us are lawyers. And if Raphael could come up with a rational explanation as to how we could have sought his consent to be born, I will accept my fault.'” (BBC News, 7 Sept.)

I personally concluded today, my mother allegedly having politely told my grandfather where to shove the money he was offering her to pay to have me aborted, that if we are indeed witnessing the final extinction of the human race, it is surely a unique privilege to be here at such a time.

Don’t you think?

 

(Guitar bore alert)

Loony Tunings

Although I know several hundred chords and more, almost 60 years having passed since I was gifted my first guitar by my Granny, I am probably the world’s worst soloist.

Despite doggedly practising scales, which is supposed to familiarise you with the intervals and ensure correct note selection within the appropriate key, I cannot play a melody one note at a time to save my life.

It is indeed the reason that, after a disastrously embarrassing school gig, I gave up the guitar for 45 years. Having two wives in quick succession was another.

Jazz musicians smile indulgently. As long as you manage eventually to resolve to the right note in the scale of the key you’re supposedly playing in, they tell me, there are no “wrong notes” you can play in jazz.

Oh, yes there are! I seem to find them all.

Anyway, I wanted to Post briefly about this theory I have, before somebody else discovers it.

As you problee kno’, the standard “open” tuning of a guitar from the top or first string is “E-A-D-G-B-E” (the string nearest your face is the ‘top’ or ‘first’ string of six, although it is the lowest note – bear with me).

The sharp-eyed among you will observe, G and B are only three whole tones – five frets – apart, while the other strings are each four tones – but still five frets – distant from their neighbours. It’s probably this more than anything that confuses me, as I am insanely logical and it isn’t. (Okay, there’s a good reason, if I could only remember what it is. Something to do with the notes B and C, and E and F, each being only half a tone interval (one fret) apart.)

Who knew so much math would be involved in learning music? And when it comes to augmented and diminished 9ths and 13ths and slash-chords and suspended (rootless) 4th chords, you need calculus and an extra finger or two on your left hand. I never got that far with our dreadful math supply teacher, gropy-hands Mr Nazeer.)

Anyway, some reckless folk, especially folk musicians, will lower the top E, i.e. the lowest note, to a D; i.e., two frets, or one whole tone down. This makes playing in the keys of G or D, favorite folky keys, easier and gives you a gutsy bottom note to resolve to in the bass that’s in your key; whereas the ‘E’ wouldn’t be.

A few hardier people even follow the great French-Algerian player, Pierre Bensusan, who leads what is known as the “DADGAD” movement, tuning to those strange open notes. I guess you’d have to be pretty fly to play in any keys other than D and G, although he manages rather well. It’s quite a different sound.

We’ll ignore any similar cranks reading this.

Now, the standard tuning seems to suit pop, rock and folk players well, as their music tends to be written in the major keys of E, A, D and G, and those are predominantly the unfretted, open strings. So if like me you are hideously inaccurate at melody, you have fallbacks available that don’t sound crap.

Jazz songs, on the other hand, possibly to keep horn and woodwind players happy, tend to be written in the major keys of F, Bb, Eb, Ab and C, often played (for that distinctive jazzy sound) as chords with the addition of the dominant 7th or the flattened 5th note (the “blue note”).

And quite by chance, those would be the open strings if you raised your tuning by a half-note, or one fret, and didn’t want to play too many wrong notes when soloing. For, as if by divine intention you would end up with open strings tuned to F-Bb-Eb-Ab-C and F!

For that reason, to humor my very own loony-tuning theory, rather than risk actually retuning all the strings, I have just bought my lovely new Lowden guitar a present: a spring-loaded, bar-type device known as a “capo” (short for Italian “capo d’astro, or capotasto”), hailing originally from C18th Spain (when it was known as a “cejuelo” and was made of wood), being used to raise the open-string tuning to whatever higher pitch you need.

And because my li’l Lowden was so ridiculously expensive, I reasoned – being insanely logical, you understand – nothing less than a 24k gold-plated capo from a brilliant British company called G7th would do, the cleverest and most ergonomic design going, costing over £40 incl. postage.

What am I like? I can barely play the thing!

Postscriptum

Occasionally, you may encounter a guitarmaker whose products make you wet your pants. One such is Theo Sharpach. http://www.scharpach.com/archtop/

I have no idea how much his instruments will set you back, even if you could get your hands on one*. Just win the lottery, okay? Some of the tonewoods he uses are 500 years old.

*The Vienna is $30,000. Or was, four years ago. It’s ‘on application’.

 

Futuropathy: latest

“A further rise in global temperatures would be enhanced by amplifying feedbacks from land and oceans, including exposure of water surfaces following sea ice melting, reduction of CO₂ concentration in water, release of methane and fires. Climate change trajectories would be highly irregular as a result of stadial events affected by flow of ice melt water into the oceans. Whereas similar temperature fluctuations and stadial events occurred during past interglacial periods (Cortese et al. 2007) when temperature fluctuations were close to ~1°C, further rises in temperature in future would enhance the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, entering uncharted territory unlike any recorded during the Pleistocene, rendering large parts of the continents uninhabitable.”

  • Professor Andrew Glikson, Earth and Paleo-climate science, Australia National University (ANU) School of Anthropology and Archaeology; ANU Planetary Science Institute, ANU Climate Change Institute, Honorary Associate Professor, Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence, University of Queensland. For longer (very technical) report, see Arctic News, 30 Jan.

 

GW: the climes, they are a’ changin’

USA: A dipolar system with a remarkable temperature gradient is forming across the North American landmass as I write. According to Severe-weather.eu: “a surface cyclone (Winter Storm Lucian) will move across the Great Plains and will result in extremely powerful warm advection across the central Plains and later over the eastern half of CONUS. Looking over the Thursday map, we can see the temperature anomaly ahead of the cyclone will be more than 20°C above normal, while the airmass behind the system will be more than 20°C colder than average for early February! Very intense winds/jet stream will form in between and also support some severe weather further south along the surface front.”

During the horrendous Polar Vortex incident, “more than 30 record lows were broken across the Midwest. Cotton, Minnesota, was the coldest place in the US on Thursday (31 Jan.) with a low of -48C (-56F) based on preliminary data. (That ain’t windchill, neither.) At -21F, with a windchill of around -51F (-46C) Chicago passed the record low for 31 Jan., while Mount Carroll has probably beaten the Illinois record with a morning temperature of -39C (-38F, or 70F below freezing).” (BBC Weather)

The good news is, it has been colder in the midwest before. More cold records were set in 1994 than have been set this winter. And record warmth has been noted on the East Coast. (Jeff Masters, Wunderground)

Alarmingly, a “nuclear plant in southern New Jersey was shut down early Thursday after intake screens froze over, restricting the flow of water needed to cool the reactor. A second unit at the station on the Delaware river was powered down because of the same problem.” (Fortune)

US Update: So now, it’s Monday 4 Feb, and it’s back up to 60F (17C) degrees in Washington DC, in February, with a forecast of 70F, 21C by Thursday; temperatures in the southeast heading for the high 70s; while California is being hammered by a second major storm in a week. The town of Paradise, incinerated in the Camp Fire last year, is under a flash-flood watch and 7 feet of snow has fallen in the Sierra Nevada mountains, with more forecast. (NBC)

By contrast, Boston has had record low-snow, only 2.3 inches, New York likewise, while Caribou, Maine, recorded its snowiest January on record and has tallied 112.5 inches (9’4″) of snow through Feb. 4, almost 50 inches above average. (The Weather Channel)

And: Phil, the Punxutawney, Pa. groundhog is predicting an early spring. Just so you know.

Punxutawney Phil. Rumors that he is over 200 years old have been disproved by fact-checkers on The Washington Post.

Middle East: “Flooding affected northern and western parts of Saudi Arabia between 27 and 29 Jan. Civil Defence reported dozens of rescues and later that 12 people had died. A total of 271 people had been rescued across the country and 137 evacuated. On 28 Jan, more than 50 homes in Iraq’s Najaf province were swept away by a severe flash flood. Iran’s Red Crescent Society provided emergency shelter for 800 people after heavy rain in southern and western provinces triggered massive floods from 27 January. A total of around 1,400 people were affected” across 4 provinces. (Floodlist).

North Africa: For a second year running, the Arctic was considerably warmer in early February than Morocco:

“Surface air temperatures near Svalbard were as high as 5.2°C or 41.4°F on Feb 3, 2019. At the same time, it was -3.5°C or 25.6°F in Africa. The contrast was even more profound on Feb 4, 2018, when at those same spots it was as cold as -10°C or 13.9°F in Africa, while at the same time it was 5.8C or 42.4°F near Svalbard.” (Arctic-news.blogspot.com)

Australia: “heavy rain has continued to fall in North Queensland, with flooding affecting areas around Townsville from 30 January, 2019. (Townsville received more than a meter (3.3ft) of rain in just a week. That is more than 20 times the average for the time of year – beating the previous record set in 1998, in what became known as the Night of Noah.) (BBC) A few days earlier, wide areas of the north of the state recorded more than 500mm in 48 hours, causing the Daintree River to reach record levels.” (Floodlist)

Update, 5 Feb: the bodies of 2 men thought to have been engaged in a breaking and entering were recovered from a storm drain in Townsville, Monday (4 Feb). Bluewater Creek had 340mm of rain overnight, bringing the week’s drenching up to a record 1.8 meters. Floodwaters are beginning to recede.

“Tasmania recorded its driest January on record, with maximum temperatures an astonishing 3.22C above the long-term average for the month.” Unique on earth, the island’s primeval “Gondwana” pine forests are threatened by more than 40wildfires caused by a great increase in ‘dry-lightning’ strikes, that are burning uncontrolled over 190,000 Ha – 3% of the total land area.

Meanwhile, “A week-long heatwave has floored New Zealand, breaking temperature records across the country. “Hanmer Forest in north Canterbury has hit a record-breaking 38.4C – the warmest it’s been since records began in 1906. (Newshub). Temperatures have soared above 37C (98.6F) in parts of the South Island” And it’s forecast to get hotter. 1 person is known to have died from hypothermia; sea-surface temperatures around the islands are up to 6C above normal. (Guardian)

Indonesia: “Heavy rain in the northern part of Bali triggered a landslide on 29 Jan., killing 4 people. 16 people were injured and required medical attention.” (Floodlist).

Thailand: The Ministry of Education has ordered all schools in Bangkok and some surrounding provinces to close for the remainder of the week amid concerns over dangerous levels of air pollution. Bangkok’s air quality has fallen to harmful levels with the quantity of unsafe dust particles — known as PM2.5 — exceeding what is considered safe in 41 areas around the capital. (CNN)

S. America: floods in Chile affected families and homes in Arica. Around 25,000 were left without electricity. As of 01 Feb, one person was missing, 20 families have been evacuated and 151 people were staying in shelters. Roads, including routes from Arica to Sora and Chapisca, have been cut. Chile has been experiencing a 40C-plus heatwave. Flooding in southern Peru caused a hotel to collapse. (from Floodlist)

Cuba: the death toll from the F3/F4 tornado, the strongest on record to hit Havana, has risen to 6. 2,500 properties were destroyed. The January 27 tornado was followed by a meteorite that landed in western Cuba near the town of Viñales on Friday, Feb. 1. Residents reported windows shattering, and the meteorite was detectable on both satellite and radar. (Wunderground)

Europe: Extremely warm weather is returning to south-central Europe and the Balkans this week, pushing the cold air down over North Africa. It’s been an active start to the tornado season in the Med, with 61 reported in January, including the big one that hit Antalya in Turkey, causing multiple casualties. The south of Italy is in for a period of persistent, excessive rainfall. Thunderstorms will develop along a virtually stationary frontal boundary across central Mediterranean, stretching from Crete into southern Italy. “Torrential” rainfall is forecast for Greece, up to 250mm overnight 5/6 Feb. (Severe-weather.eu))

Flash floods: Others hit Campinas, Brazil; Cordoba, Spain; Jerusalem, Israel; Makassar, Indonesia – all in the last week of January. (Strange Times website).

Antarctica: a hole 2/3rds the size of Manhattan has been discovered under the Thwaites glacier. 14 billion tonnes of ice is thought to have melted out in only the last three years.

Yellowstone: Normally placid Steamboat geyser has erupted for the fourth time this year, keeping up roughly a weekly schedule. See Posts, Passim. The Blessed Mary Greeley is reporting unusual double-signature seismographic patterns of ground uplift around the Yellowstone lake; while the continuous webcam at the geyser basin has been taken offline.

Climate change: Bringing it home to the British consumer

“Consumers are seeing smaller chips as a result of last year’s drought and extreme heat. Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets, said: ‘They’re 3cm shorter on average in the UK. Smaller potatoes means smaller chips.'” (Guardian)

Taken with rapidly vanishig fish stocks, it’s an existential concern, alright.

We’ve ‘had our chips’!

 

RIP Trevor

Trevor, a Mallard drake and internet celebrity said to be the world’s loneliest duck, has died – presumed killed by dogs on the Pacific island of Niue, a New Zealand protectorate.

Stranded by a storm two years ago, Trevor had lived in a puddle by the side of a dirt road, which was being surreptitiously topped up by the local fire brigade as there is no natural reserve of fresh water on the island.

He was named Trevor, after New Zealand’s parliamentary speaker, coincidentally named Trevor Mallard.

“Deepest sympathy to the people of Niue from the parliament of New Zealand,” Mallard posted on social media on Monday.

Niue’s chamber of commerce chief added, Trevor’s death would be a loss for the nation. “He captured many hearts and even the rooster, the chicken and the weka were looking a little forlorn today wandering around near the dry puddle,”

(Report: Guardian Green Light)

 

The BogPo – an Appeal:

Can anyone explain to your old Uncle why it is that Twitter photos no longer appear as uploads embedded in stories on news websites? The text is there, but the picture areas are now blank. This has started happening only in the past fortnight. The BogPo doesn’t have a Twitter account and so never opened the files, but they were at least visible – now not. Why?

 

 

The Other United States of Corporate Greed… Infamy, they’ve all got it in for me!… What will we talk about when he’s gone?… How do we know the Russians interfered with the US election in 2016?…Clickbait Corner: Uncle Bogler Totally DESTROYS Coconut oil… GW: “Hey-ho, the wind and the rain”… Pack a bag.

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

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

The Other United States of Corporate Greed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And yet, more governments are queuing to sign up.

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

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

Can you fathom it?

Oh, right.

Money, probably.

 

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

 

Infamy, they’ve all got it in for me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What will we talk about when he’s gone?

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

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

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

Your “collusion” with the Kremlin, maybe?

How stupid is this man?

Addendum:

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

Eighteen months ago, Politico reported:

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

‘Nuff said.

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

 

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

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

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

Democracy Now! writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deep shame on America.

 

Clickbait corner

I’ve got a luvverly bunch of killer platelets

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

Oil swell that doesn’t end well…

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

Do not swallow Gwyneth Paltrow. You have been warned!

 

175 mph Lane bears down on Hawaii. (CBS)

GW: “Hey-ho, the wind and the rain”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World: what we’re missing…

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

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

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

 

La terra trema….

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

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

Pack a bag

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

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

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

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

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

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

x

Grenfell

A bonfire of the sanities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just magic it away.

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

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

Sometimes people are too clever for their own good.

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

x

A Letter to Rex Tillerson

Former US Secretary of State, retd.

Dear Mr Secretary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The deal, I believe, was much as follows:

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

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

But why pick on poor little oil-rich Qatar?

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

The Kushners were desperate for cash.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can’t hear you, Mr Secretary.

 

Fore!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

x want to extort money from Qatar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The scene in Guatemala yesterday (Photo: Red Cross)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insectageddon

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

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

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

No cow-parsley flowers.

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

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

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

A propos of which:

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

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

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

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

Awesome footage:

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

x

Dissertation

On the Tedium of Buying Stuff From Builders’ Merchants.

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

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

There’s nothing inbetween.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Huh, little do you know!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 10: It’s so unfair.

“All I ever wanted was to be loved and admired”, said Pumpkin-Trumpkin. “It’s so unfair!”

The tip of the iceberg

It seems a lifetime ago that the worst things Donald Trump was supposed to have been involved with were a phoney ‘University’ offering bogus degrees in estate agency to suckers paying thousands of dollars, clearly a PR program gone wrong;  and his apparent muddling-up of his personal finances – on which he might have been too smart to pay income tax – with those of his companies and his tax-exempt charity foundation, into which he rarely seems to pay anything, but out of which substantial funds seem to go on demand.

The first of those charges went away after he settled $25 million on the New York court to pacify claimants. He had previously also ‘donated’ $25,000 to a political group supporting the Attorney-General of Florida, probably illegally under voting laws, where he has substantial property investments, following which another investigation into the so-called Trump University seems to have sunk into the Gulf. Truly, money can’t buy you love, but it has its uses.

But the story may not yet have ended:

http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/trump-university-its-worse-than-you-think

Trump’s persistent refusal to publish his tax returns, expected to show what an unpatriotic, greed-fuelled, mean-spirited old ogre he is, his refusal to ‘recuse’ himself from many of his businesses or, at best, his insolence in placing his unconstitutional business affairs in the more than capable hands of his own children; the relentless plugging of his daughter’s personalised product ranges and his loss-making golf resorts, where he sells access to himself, are not actual crimes,  but merely evidence of the Trumpian ‘exceptionalism’ with which he disdains the world beyond Trump Inc. and abuses the office of President.

The strange thing about his character, The Pumpkin observes, is that for a Trustafarian born into a wealthy family, who need never have worked in his life, Trump acts at all times like an ass-poor Jewish or Italian migrant clawing his way out of the mean streets of the 1910s Bowery, willing to do absolutely anything, anything at all to survive. Values possibly inherited from his immigrant grandfather, who founded the family fortune from a brothel in the Klondyke.

His recent statements about Putin ‘the killer’ and how we know killers also exist in America may very well be an example of one of his famous Freudian ‘transferences’, wherein his many sweeping accusations against others are really a reflection of his own preoccupations. And his admiration for North Korea’s murderous Great Leader, Kim Jong-un, centres on the young – ‘what was he, 26? 27?’ – Kim having had the strength and resilience to ‘take over his father’s business’… just like you-know-who! Being a psychopath who had his uncle torn to pieces by starving dogs… well, that’s business.

Not a lot of attention has recently been paid to Mr Trump’s alleged inherited connections with former organised crime syndicates, which his father Fred Trump is said to have made back in the 1940s and ’50s while growing his New York property empire.

It’s considered unlikely that any developer would survive in a climate of intimidation and ruthless control over the supply of labour and materials without making accommodation with the city’s now legitimised old Sicilian families. Mr Trump has often been photographed at charity events in the company of one Joey ‘No Socks’ Cinque, a convicted art thief now an organiser of social occasions.

One of his earliest advisors, now dead, was the notorious Roy Cohn, of the notorious McCarthy trials, an attorney working for the mob who did dirty legal work, using the law and worse to crush the young Trump’s many opponents. Trump was also associated on the building sites with ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, a convicted racketeer supplying concrete (!) at inflated prices; and with other known members of the Genovese family. I expect none of this material, widely available by Googling ‘Trump, mob’, has ever been proved in a court of law, even if such associations are in themselves illegal.

You see, Mr Trump is above all else a pragmatist. Don’t take my word for it, even the UK’s alt-right Daily Mail was shocked:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3716125/How-Trump-Mob-offer-not-refuse-killing-building-skyscraper-Donald-s-shrewdest-investment-MAFIA.html

Then there is his expressed admiration for President Vladimir Putin and his curiously gracious attitude towards Russia, the old enemy. Agreed, some thawing of relations would be nice. We don’t want another Cold War, another arms race. But there is a growing belief in the media – as The Pumpkin has been speculating for months – that somehow, Mr Trump may have got himself in a spot of bother financially with hard-nosed elements in the Moscow kleptocracy; the implication being that he is now effectively owned by it. It has nothing to do with ‘golden showergate’, or whatever the kompromat is being called, any politician would survive that sort of gossip nowadays.

At least six of Mr Trump’s campaign team are now alleged to have had contacts with Russian ‘diplomats’ before the election, a matter which is under investigation by the FBI to see whether there is a connection between those meetings, any possible breaches of State security, and the alleged hacking of the Democratic Party’s email servers. Mr Trump has hit back in characteristically bullish fashion by seizing on a story prefabricated by ranting shock-jock attorney, Mark Levin, passed to one of his most trusted sources, InfoWars, the barely-literate blog of crazed far-right vlogtroll Alex Jones and favourite reading of delusionary neofascist teenage baboons, and picked up by Breitbart News, the nihilist website co-founded by Mr Trump’s trusted consigliere, Steve Bannon and Mr Trump’s favourite, probably indeed his only, reading.

At six a.m. on Sunday, Trump was to be found tweeting, without a shred of evidence, that his predecessor, Barack Obama, the 44th President, had ordered the hacking of the phones in Trump Tower. The accusation bordered on paranoia, but may have been inspired by some vague memory of having met Rupert Murdoch. As only the FBI, CIA and other security agencies can legally (and physically) do that, hack phones; and require a warrant from a special closed FISA court that, if applied for, seems not to have been granted, FBI Director Comey has had to step in to say it’s nonsense; another intervention that has left Mr Trump no doubt screaming at his subordinates and kicking his little feet in fury.

In the past week, the journalist Rachel Maddow, broadcasting on MSNBC, has drawn attention to no fewer than three more matters of grave concern, any one of which if proven could potentially see Mr Trump not only impeached, but jailed for a considerable period of time. Again, all are extensively referenced by reputable online sources.

The first concerns Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Mr Manafort had to be ‘let go’ after it was revealed he had benefited to the tune of $12.7 million from his advisory relationship with Viktor Yanukovitch, the sticky-fingered Ukrainian president and Putin crony, who fled the country with, it’s said, $27 billion in public funds during the short-lived Kiev revolution in 2014. Manafort reportedly set up a number of small companies in Ukraine linked via Mossack-Fonseca in Panama with offshore investment trusts in the British Virgin Islands. One of his biggest investors was another Putin crony, Oleg Deripaska (net worth $5.1 billion), who was in for $19 million. Mr Deripaska was reportedly not happy when Mr Manafort reneged on his obligations to investors.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/16/donald-trump-campaign-paul-manafort-ukraine-yanukovich

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/03/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-panama-papers

Other accusations of Russian money-laundering via Manafort’s shell companies have not so far stood up, but the tale is a murky one. And it has been noted that not a few Russian diplomats and businessmen having any possible knowledge of these affairs have suddenly died from natural causes, such as falling off tall buildings, since Trump came to power; or been recalled to Moscow.

One of the latter was Konstantyn Kylymnyk, a dual Ukrainian-Russian national and a known associate of Manafort’s, who is reported to have been present at a Trump rally where the Presidential candidate departed from an arranged speech to call for a halt to US military aid to Ukraine to help the elected government with its fight against the Russian military supporting rebels in the eastern Donbass region. Trump and Manafort initially denied making the decision to change the speech, but later Trump said it had been his, although he would give no explanation.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-diplomats-deaths-theories-putin-kremlin-a7602201.html

Mr Trump is reported to have suffered an alarming meltdown at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, ranting and raging and reducing staffers to tears, over the news that emerged shortly after his address to Congress that his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, had ‘fessed up to meetings with the Russian ambassador, which he had previously denied under oath. Not because of what Mr Sessions may have done, according to the leaks, but because by confessing when he did, he stole Trump’s Congressional thunder!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/inside-trumps-fury-the-president-rages-at-leaks-setbacks-and-accusations/2017/03/05/40713af4-01df-11e7-ad5b-d22680e18d10_story.html?utm_term=.5faf4faf7817

Mr Trump is perhaps understandably nervous about investigations that might attract attention to any personal dealings with Russia and its business community, that he publicly swears he never has had.

He recently appointed an ‘old friend’ of the family, Wilbur Ross to his team, in the important role of Commerce Secretary. Mr Ross (net worth $2.8 billion) was until 1 March a Director, vice-chair of Bank of Cyprus, where a number of sanctioned Russian so-called oligarchs close to Mr Putin (net worth $100 billion?) are thought to have private accounts through which they ‘clean up’ their ill-gotten gains by investing in legal entities abroad, such as property in Central London and New York. Excerpting from an original investigation by DCReport.org, the Daily Beast reports the following:

“The records Henry (a former McKinsey consultant now specialising in investigating corrupt banking practices)  combed through show that Ross and his team invested more than $1 billion in the troubled Bank of Cyprus. Ross became one of two vice chairmen of the bank. Putin appointed the other….”

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/02/27/wilbur-ross-is-still-another-trump-cabinet-pick-with-underexamined-russian-ties.html

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article135001434.html

The chairman of the bank is Dr Joseph Ackermann, former CEO of Deutsche Bank, from whom Mr Trump reportedly borrowed $640 million in 2007 for a hotel development in Chicago and then at the height of the financial crisis declined to pay $340 million of it back, countersuing the bank for lending it to him in the first place. Dr Ackermann was in charge at the time Deutsche Bank was fined a record amount for money-laundering:

“On that chairman’s watch, Deutsche Bank paid $20 billion in fines. Among these was a $650 million fine for helping launder Russian money through Deutsche Bank offices in Moscow, New York City and Cyprus…. Deutsche Bank is Trump’s largest known lender, having extended him more than $300 million of loans that remain outstanding.” (Ibid.)

See also:

http://www.theguardian.com › Business › Deutsche Bank: How Donald Trump Became Deutsche Bank’s Biggest Headache

Clearly, if nothing else the President of the United States is deeply compromised by this adverse relationship between his debt and a foreign bank branch in Moscow.

Another Putin crony owning 10% of Bank of Cyprus is Dmitry Rybolovlev, who reputedly paid Mr Trump $100 million for a derelict, sprawling property in Florida, that Trump had paid $40 million to acquire just two years earlier. There is no suggestion that Mr Trump profited from the laundering of $60 million, but as he never lived there you would imagine he must have paid quite a corporation tax bill! The property was allegedly in such poor condition that it had to be demolished shortly afterwards. The money apparently came from Bank of Cyprus accounts.

MSNBC, the New York Times and many others report that Mr Rybolovlev, the ‘Fertiliser King’ (net worth $10 billion) has been sighted several times parking his impressive private jet on the same US airfields where the secondhand Trump Boeing was also parked while the Presidential candidate was on the campaign trail, and not so far apart; coincidence no doubt, perhaps Mr R. is simply a fan of Trump’s; a wealthy stalker. Perhaps he just wants his money back.

http://www.palmerreport.com/news/dmitry-rybolovlev-who-keeps-flying-in-to-meet-donald-trump-owns-russian-money-laundering-bank/1692

In the latest revelations, so outrageous that they could finally sink the legend of The Donald, it is alleged in a widely requoted article in the New Yorker magazine today that a phoney deal was set up using Ivanka as a go-between to build a ‘luxury’ Trump hotel in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, a hideous tower-block wits like myself might christen The Toenail, seemingly located next to a traffic intersection in a poor and grimy uptown suburb of Baku, with no sea view and no road access, that has turned into an abandoned ‘white elephant’ project since Trump became President.

The Trump connection there, the other partner, seems to have been a family business owned by billionaire Azeri transport minister Ziya Mammadov (official salary $12,000 a year) – a man with known financial connections to the brutal and repressive Iranian Revolutionary Guard, an organisation named as a sponsor of terrorism, which is thought to have put up the money for the project – they’ve got lots, apparently, and as sanctions prevent them spending it abroad they go in for these prestige development projects through wealthy intermediaries.

ForeignPolicy.com (among many others) reports:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/06/trump-hotel-in-baku-partnered-with-notoriously-corrupt-oligarch-with-ties-to-iranian-revolutionary-guard-corps-new-yorker-report-azerbaijan-iran-corruption-conflict-of-interest-mammadov

But why would the Revolutionary Guard be so stupid as to invest in a loss-making turkey like the Trump Toenail?

Only if the price was not, what you might say, the actual price, and the (possibly quite large – see ‘Florida mansion’) – discrepancy could be invested onwards in weapons and oil without busting the sanctions on Iran.

Poor Donald never seems to have his lawyers do due diligence on his business deals; he only uses them to silence his opponents and creditors.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/13/donald-trumps-worst-deal

The $64,000 question (how antiquated that figure now sounds!) is, can he be tied to these deals?

No US President in history, not even Nixon, surely has a record of corruption allegations, dubious associates and shitty deals as long, as devious, as vicious, as expensive and as global as this; all of which has yet to be proven in a court of law, but seems to be widely and confidently documented by a growing range of independent sources. Surely, the Republicans in Congress cannot go on ignoring the evidence out of blatant self-interest?

Yet millions of Americans still believe Trump genuinely stands for the little guy and the American way, for higher wages and full employment and cheaper, better healthcare, and all the other bullshit promises, and are not interested in hearing about any of this: it’s all ‘Fake news’. Obama and Hillary Clinton are the real villains; the media is the ‘enemy of the people’.

In 2005 a 65-year-old British businessman, Christopher Tappin, was jailed in the USA for 33 months after a lengthy extradition process, for selling a consignment of batteries potentially for use in Iranian missiles during a ‘sting’ operation by US federal authorities.

“Tappin was flown to El Paso, Texas via Houston and incarcerated in Otero County jail in New Mexico before his first court hearing. At his own request, he was held in isolation. He appeared in court on 29 February wearing an orange-colored prison jumpsuit, handcuffed and in shackles.” – Wikipedia

Can we ever see Mr Trump in an orange jumpsuit and shackles? Well, the batteries (35) were for use with the Hawk air-to-air missile, a system sold to Iran by the US military during the Reagan administration. Nobody thought to dress Mr Reagan in an orange jumpsuit, so it seems unlikely.

Not even his ‘measured’ speech to Congress, outlining his budget ambitions to give a $trillion tax cut to the rich and grossly bloat the defense budget for the benefit of contractors while gouging the poor and the sick and the immigrants, could possibly convince anyone of his real intentions; but the Dumbfucks just can’t, won’t listen. Nobody likes to accept they’ve been played like a well-tuned fiddle, not even when their mortgages are being foreclosed, their healthcare stripped away and their rivers polluted by Trump’s closest associates.

And this man is in charge of US foreign policy towards Iran.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if a deaf-blind orang-utan had run for office with a placard around its neck promising to ‘make America great again’.

But we know, don’t we.

Secretly we know.

 

What crawled out from under a…

One of Trump’s longtime buddies is a key White House advisor.

Likely substance abuser, Roger Stone, 64, has publicly called Hillary Clinton a ‘cunt’ and called for her execution. He uses vile racist and sexist language just to shock. He has inveighed against journalists with abusive tweets which he then retracts, claiming he doesn’t realise anyone else can read them.

He is currently busy, abusing anyone who fails to go along with Trump’s paranoid claim, based on nothing more than crazy tales on the neo-fascist  fake-news website he relies on most (after Murdoch’s Fox News) for info, Breitbart, that the devil, Obama, tapped the Presidential candidate’s phone (although he appears to have done nothing at all with the information he may thereby have gleaned!).

Mr Trump has stated, again by Tweet, a communications channel designed for airheads with ADHD, like himself, that he does not believe FBI Director James Comey when he says there is no truth in the allegation against President Obama. In other words, he trusts Breitbart – and the other crazed alt-right sieg-heiling teenage baboon-fodder websites – more than he trusts his own security services. No wonder they’re conspiring against him.

But of course it’s all a smokescreen to draw attention away from the alarming volcano of evidence linking the President with Russian and Iranian sanctions-busting, money-laundering activities (see above).

Stoned has also claimed (again retracted) to have a ‘back-channel’ to Julian Assange of Wikileaks (the slimy, self-regarding Australian narcissist, Assange is currently serving an indefinite prison sentence he imposed on himself when he took refuge four years ago in the basement of the Ecuadorian embassy in London to escape arrest and extradition to Sweden… (yeah, I know, that place again…) on a rape charge.

And lo, Wikileaks appears to have dedicated its sorry existence to taking down the American State – supporting Trump by channelling Russian hacks against the Clinton campaign, and now revealing the CIA’s innermost secrets as to how it is intruding into your internet-enabled kettle and hiding inside your TV to spy on you; a boot stamping on a human face forever, as Orwell put it.

Under any other circumstances one might applaud those ‘Snowdonian’ revelations, as we are broadly opposed to the Stasi State, so it sounds a mite hypocritical to criticise Wikileaks for it now.

But when it is done in the service of getting a so-called President elected who is doing, and licensing the doing by servile, crapulous and profoundly corrupt Republican Congressmen of so many horrible things, on the off-chance his gratitude will run to springing Assange with the co-operation of his new friend Theresa May, possibly in exchange for some shitty trade deal she is desperate for, under the noses of the Metropolitan Police and spiriting him away to America, where the other rather serious charges of hacking State Department intel will be dropped, The Pumpkin feels justified in taking a more high-minded Statist attitude than usual.

The reptilian Mr Stone is clearly someone who shares Trump’s complete lack of boundaries and his total moral relativism. They are, to put it mildly, visibly a matching pair of bunco-artists, lying their hideous old heads off and deliberately creating carnage and chaos, hollowing-out American institutions, even the State Department, that they hope will lead to a world better fitted for insatiable moguls to go on raping and pillaging, in which you and I become little more than servile wretches stunned by cultural mediocrity and surrounded by environmental devastation while they compete to become the first trillionaires on Mars.

Fuck ’em.

http://www.mediamatters.org/research/2016/05/09/comprehensive-guide-trump-ally-roger-stone-racist-sexist-conspiracy-theorist/210303

 

Lock him up. Then execute him.

Maybe Scott Pruitt, the butcher of Oklahoma, could be persuaded to perform the honours?

After all, former governor Pruitt will shortly be looking for a job. Excited Republicans in Congress have already brought forward a bill, abolishing his Environment Protection Agency.

As we know, his employer, President Trump has stated his belief that climate change is ‘bullshit – a Chinese conspiracy’.

The fact this grotesque, pig-ignorant arsehole is in the White House has greenlighted a bunch of dumbfuck Republicans to imagine they have a right to murder your children, deny life to your grandchildren, to massively increase the marginal profits of giant corporations that continue to rape the planet of its resources, starve its people and poison the air while paying massive bribes to keep those criminal fuckers, congenital cretins and fascist kleptocrats in office.

(Yes, I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine. So what?)

‘The Swamp’. That puddle of anoxic scum that comprises the paid lobbyists and Princeton-educated denizens of well-funded ‘think-tanks’ that reacts viscerally, ever alert to any criticism of their paymasters to instantly respond with pre-prepared slimy lies and obvious cunning distortions, to paint their honest opponents with grotesque dishonesties, heedless of the threat to life on Earth. That’s someone else’s problem.

Oh, but look, silly climate scientists can’t agree on whether it might rain tomorrow or the next day! They’re just trying to get bigger grants. They all want to put your taxes up, as well as their own. Look, it’s snowing! So they’re all wrong!

It’s fucking la-la-land.

The Swedish chemist (that foreign country AGAIN!) Walter Arrhenius discovered the ‘greenhouse effect’ of carbon dioxide emissions, 108 years ago. Some conspiracy. Almost as long-running as the gerrymandering, hypocritical fake-politics, the pork-barrel that is the Republican party.

And any position that fails to recognise the logic of the argument that says whatever is the cause of the problem, we should not be putting more CO2 into our thin sliver of breathable atmosphere than we already have, is a dangerously false position.

But look. We know that Exxon’s in-house people were fully aware of the probable consequences of continuing to burn fossil fuels back in the 1990s. A policy decision was taken, not just to bury the findings, but to actively campaign against anyone repeating them. The travesty has gained so much traction since, that the majority of poorly educated but emotionally sensitive baboons surveyed now refuse to believe ANY experts, in ANY field of research; and vote for any moron that agrees.

So, hard cheese, you’re all going to die, your obese, shaven-headed, tattooed little scumrat kids too, texting their dying prayers, they won’t have time to breed your grandkids – and sooner than you think.

If you think I’m exaggerating the scale of the denial problem, I recommend you all to watch ALL of the documentary film linked below. (I know, my blog is preaching to the converted. Tell your enemies.)

Anglo-Dutch Shell is one of the world’s oldest and biggest oil companies. Since the 1930s, off-and-on, it has been sponsoring serious documentary films about our world. As they themselves say:

“The company created its Shell Film Unit 80 years ago under the guidance of the UK’s most influential documentary film-maker of the time, John Grierson (1898 – 1972). One of the first to see the power of motion pictures to educate and shape opinion, Grierson is still widely regarded (a copywriter, I’d have used ‘revered’, more accurate. Ed.) as the father of the documentary today.

“The films Shell produced set out to inform and entertain, using action and animation to explain the mechanical marvels of the age to a wide audience. They demonstrated how people around the world could overcome challenges in health, food and transport. The intention was not to advertise Shell’s brands: the film-makers consciously took a journalistic approach, and the company name and pecten logo appeared only at the end of films.” – Shell website.

In 1991, probably by mistake, it made this short film called ‘Climate of Concern’. It is the most reasoned, calm and lucid exposition of the climate problem EVER. (I contend that one of the problems scientists today have in getting across the urgency of the situation is how lousy and amateurish they are at communicating.) The scientific equipment shown is primitive, compared with what climatologists have now. But more compelling for that.

And it is absolutely, totally, 100 per cent believable, because it comes from the OIL INDUSTRY ITSELF.

I promise you, there is nothing scientists are saying now, and that criminal lunatics like Donald Jesus H. Trump are not desperately trying to deny, that was not fully known about in 1991, 26 years ago; and that has not been coming true since. (If you believe the story that there was a ‘hiatus’ in warming in the 2000s, you’re wrong. That was also a lie. The global average temperature has increased in EVERY MONTH since 1988, without exception. At the time the film was made, the annual average temperature was just 0.5% over what they think it was in 1880. Today, it’s 1.67% above what they KNOW it was. Temperature anomalies of +30 deg C were recorded this winter in the Arctic; +20 deg C in the waters of the North Pacific.)

Here in this 26-years-old documentary film sponsored by one of the world’s largest and oldest oil companies are: the problem, the probable consequences of the problem, and some possible solutions that we have totally failed to implement until now, thanks to industrial slaughtermen like the self-interested billionaire shitty coal-mining lobby-funding Koch Brothers and the smarmy, serious, handsome-looking bilgerat and pal of the Kremlin, Rex ‘Sexy Rexy’ Tillerson, late of Exxon-Mobil’s filthy global deals department, now (for God’s sake! Are you mad?) Secretary of State of the fucking United States.

And these shitbrains you put in the White House: these cynical, compulsively lying, money-obsessed, bullying, mentally diseased, life-denying, anaerobic bottom-feeding monsters with their military faces and snow-capped heads and suppositories up their asses you think in your fathomless dumbass ignorance are representing you and your best interests, who are going to put right all the terrible things their predecessors did to make you poorer and denied you more iPhones and health insurance and 32-ounce steaks and fucking 50-inch TFT TV sets with endless garbage gameshows and tacky car-showroom ads, these treacherous but engagingly incompetent inhuman succubi from Hell’s inner circle, along with your criminal President and his ‘policy’ cunts: the life-sucking wife-beater Bannon, the teenage college werewolf Miller, they too deserve no better fate than to allow Scott Pruitt to experiment on their writhing animate corpses with fucking useless chemicals from Amazon.us, to try to exterminate them before the warders go on overtime.

Watch this film, and get your pitchforks out and sharpened, because YOU’RE BEING EXPERTLY LIED TO:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTlYYlRN0LY

Thank you.

The Boglington Post: Another Enormous Brexit Lie…. Not Feeling Hungary… Death by Financial Services… + Bonus material

Suck it up, Brexwits.

So call me a liar, punk –  if you’re elite enough.

“Liam Fox, the international trade minister, accepted last week he did not know of any new free trade deal that did not also include liberalisation of migration rules between the two countries signing such agreements.” – The Guardian, 10 February.

Another enormous Brexit lie

The principal reason people voted to Leave the EU last June was, of course, a mass outbreak of cretinism.

Definitive, detailed research carried out for the BBC last month showed conclusively that those voting for Brexit were, as I suspected all along,  a confused rabble of credulous, self-deluding, elderly dimwits and skinhead internet trolls who had failed their GCSEs, left school at 12 and flunked the police entry exam, but nevertheless thought they had a perfect right to decide the future of the country based on their detailed knowledge of Daily Mail front-page headlines over the previous thirty years.

Asked generally by none-too-scrupulous pollsters why they had voted Leave, of course 99 per cent of them mentioned that there was too many of them furrin immigrants comin’ ‘ere, being housed at the public expense, claiming asylum, spreading diseases, starting-up successful tech companies, propping up the NHS, chewing garlic and generally driving down wages.

Enthusiastically taking up this theme, basing her profound knowledge of the public mind purely on an ‘in-out’ vote with no room whatever for grey areas, Mrs May, the enigmatic Prime Minister, a shoe-in (haha) from leafiest Thameside villaville, announced that ‘regaining control of our borders’ by massively reducing inward migration from friendly EU countries was ‘The Will of the People,’ and vowed to follow the rubric to the letter.

Now we’ve discovered it was another massive voter fraud. A fraud, that is, on the mass of voters.

Because the best estimates we’re getting, now Parliament has lent its sovereign voice to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, indicate that inward migration ‘might’ fall by 15 per cent or so, only it’s not possible to say how much it might also go up by at the same time, if we have to let in hordes of American refugees fleeing the police state of Der Trumpenführer in exchange for repatriating Ford Motors’ Dagenham plant to Deerborn, Michigan, where they can make American cars great again, wid’ fins an’ all.

(Kindly note that in one of his unread Executive Orders, the Orange Precedent has proposed to close down the agency responsible for consumer protection. Yes, he has. Another of his Execution Orders effectively abolishes any local oversight of animal welfare. What kind of monster have you elected, American baboons, who can’t even sign his own name but just draws a picture of a spring unravelling, and hates dogs, cats and horses?)

I’ve been asking the question of my beloved Spammers, Likers, Followers and those no longer reading (25 yesterday, what’s going on, Man?) for over three years:

“What is the point of replacing a working set of trading arrangements that allow us to operate pretty much anywhere within a safe framework to quality standards we helped to design, with instead a ragbag of hopeful, one-off deals with nasty countries that manufacture dangerous electrical fittings and children’s toys with metal spikes for eyes, who will be out to screw us?” (Something like that, I seldom quote myself accurately.)

Now the Fantastic ‘Dr’ Fox, our Bounceback Brexit Business Baboon and ‘disgraced former defence minister’ (New Statesman) has had to admit, he can’t stop vast numbers of foreign fuckers swarming in from darkest Turkey in the wake of some terrible deal to export fridge-magnets to Ankara.

I warned you about this character. I told you he shows more loyalty to the USA than he does to you, and you wouldn’t fucking listen.

So suck it up, Brexwits.  Migrants is a comin’.

Only you won’t know where from!

Sorry folks, party’s over.

Feeling too elated this weekend? Annoying joyousness of the heart? Spring in your step? Love in the air? Need bringing down to earth with a bump?

http://arctic-news.blogspot.co.uk/

Nice knowing you.

Not Feeling Hungary

I’ve been reading about a little village adrift somewhere out on the Great Gromboolian Plain that has passed new by-laws and put up official-looking road signs banning Muslims and all displays of Islamic culture. According to the BBC report:

“The new local legislation bans the wearing of Muslim dress like the hijab and the call to prayer and also outlaws public displays of affection by gay people. Changes are also being brought in to prevent the building of mosques, despite there being only two Muslims living there currently.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-38881349

Laszlo Toroczkai is the mayor of Asotthalom, “a remote village in the southern Hungarian plains, situated around two hours from the capital Budapest.” He says:

“We primarily welcome people from western Europe – people who wouldn’t like to live in a multicultural society,”  he told the BBC. “We wouldn’t like to attract Muslims to the village.”

We are not told how many gay people there are in the village, or how many people from western Europe it attracts to live there, but it reminds me of the long-running joke in the show Little Britain about Dafydd, the only gay in Llanddewi Brefi (a small village in mid-Wales, small Welsh villages being known for their intolerance of difference, apparently. As an Englishman I’ve occasionally felt that too.)

It’s possible the two Muslims go around holding hands, behaviour between male friends that is totally accepted in Muslim countries and not really at all gay, although it might look it. Or maybe they’re actually buggering one another silly, we aren’t told.

Now, the Hungarian metropolitan elite is dubious about the legality of all this, arguing that it’s racist and against the constitution. But is it? There’s a history of vicious persecution of religious minorities in Hungary going back more than a thousand years.

Hungarians are either a proud warrior race, or a bunch of nasty, intolerant thugs, depending on your point of view. Mr Toroczkai puts it thus:

“We can see large Muslim communities in western Europe that haven’t been able to integrate – and we don’t want to have the same experience here,” he says. “I’d like Europe to belong to Europeans, Asia to belong to Asians and Africa to belong to Africans. Simple as that.” (Ibid.)

As ordered, presumably, in the Bible. There’s clearly not a lot of logic in the idea that people who are barely represented on the demographic map should not be allowed to live somewhere because they can’t integrate in numbers, integration being a two-way process, but ignorance and intolerance make strange bedfellows. I’d have trouble integrating with small Hungarian villagers and I’m white and Western. So would you.

The total Muslim population of Hungary is only 5,500 – a little over zero per cent. The majority polled regard themselves as Hungarian. It wasn’t always so. I’m grateful to muh gudfriend, Ms Vicky Pedia, for the information that – the history is complicated – Muslims first arrived in Hungary in the 10th century, practically before the West existed, and have been there ever since.

Even then, when there were only around 30 Islamic settlements in the whole country, Muslims were persecuted.

“In the 11th century, St. Ladislaus and later Coloman passed laws against the non-Christians (Synod of Szabolcs). These laws subdued Islam by coercing Muslims to eat pork, go to Church and intermarry and to forbid them from celebrating Friday. – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Hungary

Any Muslim caught, basically, not eating pork or offering it to their guests  could be dragged off to Budapest for a dressing-down from the king, while the informant would be granted a share of their property. These rules were pretty extreme and quite similar to laws in other European countries passed against their Jewish minorities. But they kick-started the Hungarian goulash industry.

In the 16th century, large parts of Hungary were under Ottoman (Islamic) rule and apparently integrated. The Ottoman Grand Vizier, Kanijeli Siyavuş Pasha (d. 1602), was a Hungarian-born Muslim. In 1944 Hungary was occupied by Germans. 800,000 Jews were killed before Hungary was ‘liberated’ by the Soviet army. Stalin relentlessly persecuted Muslims, but the Germans courted them as allies and potential supporters in the eradication of the Jews – although hundreds of Muslims in Eastern Europe were accidentally murdered by SS ‘Einsatzgrüppen’ goons who couldn’t tell the difference just from a short-arm inspection, both Muslims and Jews being Semitic peoples practising circumcision.

The collaboration with the Nazis led to reprisals after the war and may very well be partly the cause of modern Islamophobia in the east. (History Today – http://www.historytoday.com/david-motadel/muslims-hitlers-war)

With the arrival through Greece of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Syrian civil war moving north towards Hungary, and the passing of welcome-in quotas by the Council of Europe, of which Hungary is supposedly a member, Hungarian “Christian” sensitivities have once again been outraged and, encouraged by the re-election of the authoritarian nationalist, Viktor Orban,  racial purity defended on the Right. A fence was hastily thrown up to keep the desperate Syrians out.

But the persecution of religious minorities had already begun again.

In 2011, Hungary passed its notorious  Law on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion, which does not include the right of Muslims to any such freedoms. “It recognizes only 14 religious groups. Islam is not included in this list and Muslims have to apply to get official recognition.” (Wiki.)

“It’s very important for the village to preserve its traditions” says Mr Toroczkai. Presumably he means the traditions of persecution rather than the traditions of actually being an Islamic republic. “If large numbers of Muslims arrived here, they would not be able to integrate into the Christian community.” (I know, you’re making mayonnaise, you put in too much oil…)

To which one can only wonder, why the hell should they ‘integrate’?

What’s so great about Christians, that they go around persecuting minorities of two, for holding hands on a Friday? I suppose it’s only a matter of time before some prissy little postcard village in England or Germany starts putting up signs banning whoever, whatever.

Metropolitan elitists, possibly?

I don’t recall Western countries putting up razor-wire fences when a quarter of a million Hungarians fled from the advancing Red Army tanks during the 1956 Soviet putsch against a peaceful centrist revolt. Britain took in 27 thousand.

Fuck ’em, send ’em back, useless spongers.

(News just in: residents of Leipzig have started putting up a fence unofficially around a refugee resettlement centre.)

Death by Financial Services

Maybe I’ve wrote about this before.

Since my mum died in December, I’ve been on a twin-track strategy of trying to clear her apartment so the new landlords can send in workmen to turn it from a slum created by the previous landlord into a £6,000 a month Central London cash cow, or possibly a multimillion pounds demolish-and-rebuild luxury sale proposition; while at the same time ploughing through boxes and boxes of yellowing tragic papers I’ve lugged back to my tiny sitting-room to try to find anything left of the £130,000 she was apparently worth just 13 years ago so we can all get a break from Brexit and Trump for a couple of weeks.

It’s been pretty dispiriting on both fronts, without even beginning to consider that my amazing mum just died, leaving me a chain-smoking, whisky-drinking, 92-year-old friend short of a Christmas party for two. I’m a rather elderly orphan now, living on my own with just Hunzi and Katz.

That’s a bit of a lifestyle changer, knowing you’re next on the list.

Most dispiriting is that in terms of her finances, her total net worth when she died was probably less than £3,000; the final numbers aren’t in, but we sold pretty well everything; while the £130,000 investment bond side of the financial equation ended up as worth just £102 when you take away fees and redemption penalties. And to think that once upon a yesteryear, after months of battling my stepfather in the High Court, she actually owned two properties in Knightsbridge.

For about five minutes.

£102 is not a lot to show for 70 years of exposure to professional financial advisors, a breed of optimistic middle-aged ex-merchant-banking baboons it behoves every single young person to understand they should avoid and ignore and shun and disparage and mock and throw stones through their chintzy Sunningdale windows and write rude words on their gated compound walls throughout their lives, if they know what’s good for them.

That’s a list of not-to-go-nears, including: bank managers, credit card issuers, solicitors, accountants, tax consultants, Independent Financial Advisors (IFA = I know Fuck-All), Chancellors of the Exchequer, fund managers, stockbrokers, insurance underwriters and actuaries, financial PRs and marketing people, City journalists, company agents, estate agents, property developers, share tipsters, taxi drivers – and, finally, ex-husbands; all of whom have been to a special school where they teach you to exude overwhelming confidence and knowing sophistication without a shred of expertise or knowledge to back it up: a School for Scoundrels (it was a movie. See it.)

And they all get a special dark green polyester tie with a bold crest you’ll come to think of as a perfect target, to wear along with the blazer with the shiny buttons.

Anyone, in short, who affects to be able to predict the financial future with such certainty as to dare to advise you what to do with that £50 windfall you got from Auntie Ethel on your birthday. Don’t listen, they’re lying to you. Spend it now on something you like, anything, before the Financial Services industry gets its sticky mitts on it.

You’d do better giving it away to a rough sleeper. At least it won’t end up being invested by an ‘expert’ in fucking BP shares, like mine did.

There’s a financial instrument known as an ISA, a partly tax-exempt savings scheme with a grudgingly generous upper limit cooked up by some previous government money-baboon to encourage saving and boost bank liquidity. Once upon a time an ISA would generate a few tens of pounds a year in tax-free interest. No longer: the interest rate on a typical ISA is nowadays less than half of one percent and still dropping. Inflation is at two per cent.

But it could still go lower. Would you have known when you created it that you might end up actually paying the bank to hold your £15,000 ISA? Take it out,  mate. Invest it in a campervan, certain types such as the VW Caravanette hold their value remarkably well and may even appreciate over time. (Warning: investments may go down as well as up, as if. You may lose your house if you do not keep up the unaffordable repayments. Terms and conditions apply, naturally.)

Only, don’t take my word for it. I’ve still got the ISA.

(to be continued)

Suffer little children

I’m sorry, some news just makes me mad as hell.

“The private security company G4S is to take over from a children’s charity the contract to provide welfare support to detained families facing deportation, the Home Office is expected to announce on Friday.

“The Home Office has privately insisted that the much-criticised private security company can provide the “same key aspects of welfare support to families” as have been delivered by the current providers, Barnardo’s. – The Guardian, 9/2/17

Is there a reason to replace Barnardo’s, a charity established over 130 years ago with the original object of caring for London’s teeming horde of orphans and rejected children, other than the growing suspicion that the cosy relationship between G4S and the UK Home Office may be a corrupt one, given the inept, not to say brain-dead, management of custodial facility contracts by this blundering poster child for Thatcherite privatisations?

Is there any hope for terrified families in the clutches of these, frankly, thuggish goons? Do I want my tax money to go to this Dickensian bunch of money-grabbing capitalist pigs? (No, I don’t. Let those poor people alone, Tory cunts.)

“Kent police investigating alleged abuse at Medway child prison, run by G4S, made five more arrests. The same day a report by prisons inspectors revealed that a child at another G4S prison, Parc, in Bridgend, Wales, had been strip searched while held under restraint, one guard had been dismissed for using “excessive force”, and children reported being verbally, physically and sexually abused.

“G4S-run Medway secure training centre has been under close scrutiny since BBC Panorama broadcast undercover footage, in January, of children there being subject to physical and emotional abuse.” – Open Democracy UK

http://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for-g4s-chil

G4S was founded as The Wackenhut Corporation in 1954, in Coral Gables, Florida, by George Wackenhut and three partners (all are former FBI agents). In 2002, the company was acquired for $570 million by Danish corporation Group 4 Falck (itself then merged to form British company G4S in 2004) (Wikipedia).

The list of their incompetently managed contracts is a long one and includes the standout failure to recruit and train enough security staff for the London Olympics, a contract worth £284 MILLION, so that the army had to be called in to bail them out at the last minute.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_surrounding_G4S

As is the list of individuals whose ‘security’ they have managed to compromise, in too many cases fatally.

Why then does the Home Office keep throwing public money at these tossers to replace existing contractors and formerly stable, properly trained, state-run workforces?

We should be told.

In the meantime we can only guess.