Pumpkin 100 inflates like a speech bubble on GroMore: Can’t you hear that whistle blow… Faster-moving news… Even faster-moving news… Aid memoir… GW: several turns for the worse.

Boris Johnson meets the Queen

“You’re absolutely right, your Majesty, it does seem to be coming from my shoe.”

(Question: why does the Queen carry her handbag indoors? Is it for self-defense, or does she expect an incoming Conservative Prime Minister to walk off with it, like an unregistered plumber?)

 

Can’t you hear that whistle blow

In a spellbinding display of the measured reporting she is famous for, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow today (24 Sept.) pulls apart with forensic clarity, from many sources, the tangled threads of what connects Trump and Giuliani with Ukraine.

And it isn’t enirely what people are being conned by the president and his apparently demented, self-contradicting mouthpiece into believing it is. For that’s the simple, easily reversible story they are happy for the media to run with. Whether it’s a deliberate diversion or just a happy accident, no doubt we shall never be told.

It’s easy for everyone to swallow a story about Trump strongarming the young and inexperienced TV comedian president of Ukraine – who is in New York for the UN convention and due to meet him this week – by holding back $390 million of military aid, to dig up some absurd dirt on Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son.

That’s the kind of thing the dumbfuck base will be happy with. Here’s their hero, fighting for his political life. But see, there’s his feared opponent, how guilty is he?

And the Bidens are not helped by the facts.

Hunter Biden was unwisely on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, whose CEO was accused of corruption. Biden Sr, then Vice President to Obama, persuaded then-president Poroschenko to replace a state prosecutor who was failing to investigate the case properly.

Trump has tried to spin the story around so that it was the Bidens who were corrupt and had unethically used US power to remove an honest prosecutor in order to protect the son of the Vice President.

He has admitted, yes, I did pressure President Zelenskiy, because I wanted to get to the bottom of Joe Biden’s corruption and Hillary Clinton’s role in it. But he denies witholding aid, the missing “quid pro quo” the summary leaves out.

The threat was there – the aid had been suspended – but it remained unspoken. Which is a perfect echo of something Trump’s bagman, Michael Cohen, told the court: Trump never makes a direct threat but you always know exactly what he means.

All this, just to discredit a political opponent who might not even gain the Democratic nomination, as his poll numbers were already slipping behind those of the prim schoolmarm, Elizabeth Warren; who has at least the advantage in her 50s of being about 73 years younger than Sloppy Joe is.

Frankly, the Bidens should have had nothing to do with Ukrainian politics and business. The country is one of the most deeply corrupt states in Europe, and everyone knew it.

But not, perhaps, as corrupt as Trump’s USA.

Digging a little beneath the surface, Maddow raises the disturbing prospect that Russian organized crime is once again interfering in the US election, perhaps sanctioned by Putin – although he has his own electoral problems.

For Trump’s intention in his dealings with the new Ukrainian president, according to official sources in Kiev, has also been to persuade him to open another inquiry, to raise doubts about the guilt of Trump’s former associate and campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

He wants to claim that Manafort – who is serving 7 years in a federal penitentiary for money laundering, tax evasion and failing to declare a foreign interest – was in some way framed by the Bidens…. and Hillary Clinton.

He has cleverly put in the hours of groundwork, turning Clinton into his personal Steinberg, the “two-minutes of hate” figure in Orwell’s 1984 – convincing his base of gullible, adoring morons that she must be guilty of any crime he can point to, of which he is almost certainly himself culpable.

After several years of lucrative lobbying and image-work on behalf of the thuggish, profoundly kleptocratic former president and Putin crony, Viktor Yanukovych, Manafort, we are reminded, was deeply in debt to two immensely wealthy and dangerous oligarchs: Oleg Deripaska, Russia’s “Aluminum King”, who (according to Wikipedia) had murdered his way to the throne; and the handsome and urbane-looking Ukrainian, Dmytro Firtash – both of whom are regarded by the FBI as top-echelon Moscow mafiosi.

Yet somehow, Manafort managed to get himself appointed by, and vocally supported by, Trump as his election campaign chairman. As the Pumpkin has asked several times before, what did he bring to the party? Apart, obviously, from his handy connections to the Russian mafia? An organization to which substantial evidence connects Trump himself in the 1970s and ’80s.

Profoundly compromised – he’d offered to invest $17 million of Deripaska’s money in offshore blind trusts but the money mysteriously disappeared – Manafort was accused in the Mueller report of supplying confidential voter data to the St Petersburg troll factory implementing the Putin-sanctioned disinformation campaign to get Trump elected.

Data that related to voters specifically in the three most heavily gerrymandered states – Michigan, Wisconsin and Idaho – whose Electoral College delegates swung the election, which he had not won on the popular vote nationally, to Trump.

States where voter suppression by Republican legislatures – the rigging of qualification criteria to exclude tens of thousands of black and ethnic minority voters who always vote Democrat – was known to be rife.

Manafort was a plant.

Firtash, who benefits (on Putin’s orders) from a percentage cut of the sales of all the gas Russia pipes through Ukraine to western Europe, an income running into the $billions annually, has been fighting extradition to the USA from Austria on corruption charges for several years. Allegedly, he’d bribed Indian officials for a license to supply titanium for airframes to Trump’s favorite military contracting firm, Boeing. He also faced money laundering charges. (Bloomberg)

“In 2008, Manafort was part of an $850 million plan involving Firtash and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to purchase the Drake Hotel in Manhattan and convert it into a luxury property.” (Bloomberg)

The deal never finalized, while the FBI regarded it askance as a classic money laundering operation. But it places Trump’s campaign chairman right in the orbit of Russian organized crime. Was Manafort put there by these influential men, to be a senior informant on the inside?

Now, despite having a huge team of the best lawyers his bottomless pockets can buy, Firtash (who personally posted $137 million bail to the Austrian court!) has reportedly just hired a couple of deadbeat lawyers, Trumpsucking TV pundits off of Fox News.

Why? Well, assumes Maddow, because they’re the same two lawyers Trump almost hired in 2017, a husband-and-wife act, only to change his mind later because they didn’t look as smart as they had on TV. It’s a move that’s sure to get Trump’s fleeting attention. But for what?

Deripaska, formerly on the US’s no-entry sanctions list, was removed from that list last December at the bidding of Trump’s principal enabler in the Senate, Republican leader Mitch McConnell; whose wife, Transport Secretary Elaine Chao, is now under investigation by a Congressional committee for illegally channelling shipping contracts to her father’s company.

Contracts that some media speculation suggests may have included the supply of narcotics, such as the addictive opioid, fentanyl – a poison that is killing over 60 thousand Americans a year.

Deripaska, Maddow points out, seems to have either persuaded or rewarded McConnell with a pledge to build a massive new aluminum smelting plant in his home state of Kentucky; while as previously reported, McConnell may have benefitted to the tune of more than $70 million from campaign donations from firms to which Chao has awarded contracts in her husband’s Senate constituency, ahead of the 2020 elections.

(And according to The Guardian, he’s also receiving campaign donations from two Brazilian companies involved in the burning of the Amazon rainforest; both part-owned by the $300bn US private equity management firm, Blackstone.)

Who is there to investigate all this criminality? The FBI is stretched to the limit. But I digress.

Maddow’s not improbable conclusion, therefore, is that Putin oligarchs free to come and go are once again bankrolling efforts to get Trump elected, in a rerun of 2016. And he seems perfectly happy to let it be known that he welcomes foreign interference.

Tonight, it’s reported, House speaker Nancy Pelosi may have finally cracked and is about to call for impeachment proceedings, after weeks of stonewalling her own party in the belief that an inquiry would only give Trump a hostage to Fortune.

It now seems she may have accepted the alternative argument: that letting him continually get away with breaking the law and acting in contempt of Congress is setting a dangerous precedent.

Possibly encouraged by our own landmark Supreme Court ruling today, that the Executive does not have primacy over the elected Parliament, and that the law permits neither an arbitrary prorogation nor barefaced lying to the Queen for electoral advantage, Ms Pelosi may be embarking on a perilous but ultimately decisive journey.

While the normally supine Senator Graham has jokingly suggested that if Biden’s son is to be investigated, so too should Trump’s sons, it seems unlikely that impeachment will reach the bar of 60% of both houses, whatever treachery, perjury and lies Trump may have committed.

The Pumpkin doubts that he will respect for one moment, the verdict of any inquiry; nor will he allow witnesses to obey subpoenas to testify. Ultimately he may even carry out his threat not to accept the result of next year’s general election if it goes against him.

He said that last time, too.

With the Justice department and the Attorney General in his pocket, there seems little to be done but to wait for the real God’s Executive Order to drag this horrible man with his Faustian pact down to the fires of hell.

Although, sadly, as the Pope has admitted, death is final. No such fiery fate awaits him: only the verdict of history, that this was surely the worst, most corrupt president America ever elected.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcT5gMPUR_w

 

Fast-moving news

A couple of hours after posting the above, news broke that speaker Pelosi has indeed shifted her ground and declared an “impeachment investigation” by the six House committees she controls. It’s not the same as an actual impeachment, but already Trump has hit back with his signature “It’s all a plot against me” whinge.

Which, actually, it is. Only a perfectly open and legitimate one. And you fucking asked for it.

Your Pumpkin was moved to tears by the reaction of the normally annoying and whooping Late Show audience when Stephen Colbert announced the news. They rose as one to their feet and gave it a standing ovation lasting well over a minute. We tend to disregard how much Trump is hated in many parts of America. We liberals deserve a break.

First, however, you need to catch your hare. And Trump is neither going to appear before any committees nor allow any of his people to testify. We feel sure he will simply ignore any subpoenas and go on the attack against Pelosi in person, appealing to his heavily armed dumbfucks for support.

One hope, Intel committee chair, Adam Schiff has announced that the Ukraine “whistleblower” has agreed to appear before the committee in private on Thursday to repeat the statement they gave to the Inspector General, evidence of Trump wrongdoing that “acting” Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire is illegally witholding from Congress on the orders of Trump’s lapdog in the Justice Department, AG Bill Barr.

Let’s hope they make it through the door alive.

 

Even faster-moving news

Hi again. 18.01, local British Summertime…. You remember back in March, when Trump’s Attorney General, Bill Barr released a three-and-a-half page “summary” of the conclusions of the Mueller report over a weekend, a month before he allowed the full 480-page report out, with redactions?

And how people then thought the real report must also have exonerated the president of collusion and obstruction when it absolutely had not?

But by then they were sick of hearing about it and couldn’t be bothered to read it and so we all moved on?

No, of course you don’t remember. But it happened Just So, Best Beloved!

Well, Trumpy has gone and done it again, releasing a 4-page copywritten summary which the White House is calling an actual transcript of the 35-minute phone call in which Trump and Ukrainian president Zelenskiy discussed digging dirt on the Bidens, father and son.

The release, which seems to show that the callow, ex-TV comedian Zelenskiy was happy to go along with it, and to prove that Trump never threatened to withold $390 million of US aid unless he did, is nevertheless bound to satisfy numerous wavering Trump supporters that, as the Republicans in the Senate are saying, there’s nothing to see here.

It might also have the effect of taking the wind out of the sails of the “whistleblower”, who is due to testify to the Intelligence Committee on Thursday (Trump says he is a spy who should be executed. He is cracking up.) . Why bother with the whole cloth, when you can make a pocket out of a sardine, as the Russians say?

(Actually, I made that bit up. So what? Prove it!)

Now, the law is absolutely clear: a matter of national security concern brought to the attention of the Inspector General by a whistleblower SHALL, within 7 days, be brought before the Congressional Intelligence Committee.

But I suspect it says nothing about a hastily concocted summary produced by the legal team advising the suspect, leaving out all the relevant bits we all want to know about and sounding disconcertingly fluent in the English language.

With yet another bound, he was free.

Senile as he appears to be, this Mafia-trained ex-property developer and conman from Queen’s is slipperier than an eel; more difficult to shackle and drown in a tank of water than Harry Houdini.

Don’t expect much, or anything really, from the impeachment proceedings, except more bullshit; more evasions and distractions and lies.

 

Aid memoir

Justifying his witholding of military aid from Ukraine to force them to “investigate” Joe and Hunter Biden, a connection his random mouthpiece, Giuliani has both denied and admitted, Trump was yesterday saying he was right to do it because Ukraine was a “corrupt” country and you shouldn’t give aid to a corrupt country.

(That’s regardless of the fact that Congress, not the President, technically controls the military aid budget.)

Today, however, he is saying he witheld US aid because other countries, especially Europe, were not sending aid and it was unfair the US should have the entire burden.

Fact-checkers immediately turned up an OECD chart, showing that European institutions (eg NATO) and countries, plus Japan, had on the latest figures (2016-17) together contributed five times as much in aid to Ukraine as the US had.

Yet again Trump will say just about anything, tell any lie, to justify his erratic foreign affairs policy and thuggish criminal behavior, for which impeachment hearings are finally grinding into gear.

The problem being, that despite his record low poll ratings that have consistently refused to climb much above 40%, and polling showing every single declared Democrat candidate to date, however unlikely to win the nomination, is considered more electable than Trump, there are 60 million voters who still refuse to understand – or to much care – what they elected in 2016.

Sixty million voters who support whatever he does, whatever it is, who believe anything he says, because they trust someone they see on TV pretending to be a business tycoon to know how to run the country, more than they trust experienced political administrators.

And they may yet be enough to see him through.

 

GW: several turns for the worse

Europe: “The disturbance everyone was watching out of Africa, Lorenzo is now a hurricane and is gradually moving into favorable environmental conditions, with low wind shear and warm 26-28 °C SSTs. Both will likely lead to a significant intensification after tomorrow. Lorenzo should become a category 3 storm on Friday” before its forecast track takes a turn north-eastwards, to – The Azores. They’re technically Europe. It could end up in Portugal thereafter, the Bay of Biscay, or the English Channel. (Severe-weather.eu)

Middle East: Tropical Cyclone Hikaa – now downgraded to TS – made landfall in Oman on 24 Sept., bringing strong winds, heavy rains, some flooding and coastal waves of 3 to 4 metres. Schools were closed, some transportation disrupted and around 750 people evacuated to shelters. (Floodlist)

Sri Lanka: At least 1 person has died and almost 80,000 affected by heavy rain, landslides and floods after a storm swept across the country from the evening of 23 September, 2019. 124 mm of rain was recorded in 24 hours over the capital, Colombo. The highest rainfall was recorded the following day in a suburb of Negombo city in Western Province, where 272.3 mm (11-in.) fell in 24 hours. Many rivers are well above flood stage and further heavy rain is forecast. (Floodlist)

Puerto Rico: Over 5-in of rain fell on the already stricken island, still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017, as TS Karen passed over on its way out into the Atlantic. The storm impacted Puerto Rico just as the island dealt with several earthquakes and numerous aftershocks. A 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck on Tuesday night, close to where a M6 had earlier been recorded offshore. More than 50 tremors have rattled the area within 24 hours. No major damage was reported.

Wunderground added that as the storm’s wetter southern edge passes over on the 25th: “Localized rains could top 8” across eastern Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra, and the Virgin Islands.” The NHC is forecasting Karen could reintensify at the end of the week with possibly Cuba or an east-coast US mainland hit in view.

Trinidad: After last weekend’s floods, officials in Trinidad and Tobago are urging locals in the village of Piparo to be prepared to evacuate. A mud volcano over a subduction zone under the village is showing signs of an impending eruption, which will threaten many homes. The Piparo mud volcano’s last eruption, in 1997, displaced 31 families.

USA: Remnant hurricane, now Tropical Storm Lorena, has been pounding Arizona with rain, floods, landslides and even a rare tornado for the time of year, after passing over Baja California out of the Eastern Pacific. Accuweather reports on downed power lines and scattered debris from damaged buildings in the capital, Phoenix.

Tens of thousands of Southern Californians have been put on alert that their power may be shut off as hot air and strong winds have led to a warning of more wildfires. Meanwhile, the Dehesa Fire outside of San Diego has grown to about 200 acres in size and is only 10% contained with evacuation orders and warnings issued for nearby neighborhoods, as of 24 Sept.  (Accuweather)

Imelda made it to Number 5 in the shit parade of the wettest tropical storms ever recorded on the US mainland. “The peak of 43.39″ at North Fork Taylors Bayou, Texas puts Imelda fifth among the heaviest single-point rain producers”, as noted by Capital Weather Gang. (Wunderground)

Switzerland: “Italian authorities have closed off roads and evacuated homes after experts warned that a portion of a Mont Blanc glacier is at risk of collapse.” The mayor of the town of Courmayeur blamed ‘strong change due to climatic factors’ after “experts said up to 250,000 cubic metres of ice was in danger of sliding off the Planpincieux glacier on the Grandes Jorasses peak.” The movement of the glacier has speeded up following successive annual heatwaves. (Guardian)

Tunnel approaching….

UN: One slightly hopeful sign that came out of the UN conference on climate change was a pledge by a number of large corporations to take up to two years to come up with some ideas for reducing their carbon footprint by 2050.

Actually, that’s not really hopeful at all, is it. In fact, it’s pants.

Especially when, as the New York Times records: “According to data from CDP, a British-based nonprofit group that collects environmental data from companies around the world and is one of the organizers of the pledge, emissions reported by some signatories have increased by 50 percent or more since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.”

Start as you mean to go on, I always say.

 

The Madness of King Donald…. Depression news, #1,#2,#3… Schools for scandal… GW: under my umbrella, ella… “Tunnel approaching”… The sheer irrelevance of political journalism – a short essay.

 

“Come November you’ll all be eating my snot. Its fingerpickin’ good!” (with apologies to Getty Images for nicking their stuff. I don’t get paid for this.)

Details of Operation Yellowhammer, the full horror story of the UK Government’s own predictions, released under duress from the Johnson Dark House (except that they were leaked in The Times two weeks ago) predict that within 24 hours of a No-Deal Brexit, there’ll be a 1.5-day-long backlog for goods to clear customs at Calais; and within another 24 hours we’ll be waiting so long that all the goods will have perished, supermarket shelves will be emptying, prices rocketing, and people reliant on insulin will have died.

Things can only get better.

 

The Madness of King Donald….

“A lot of people want the job. It’s a great job. It’s great because it’s a lot of fun to work for Donald Trump.”

Er…. yes. That was – Donald Trump speaking, in what’s become known as a “chopper talk” press gaggle on the WH lawn, posing in front of his airforce helicopter (that doesn’t work in the rain), explaining that he will have no trouble finding a replacement for John Bolton, the mad neocon armchair warmonger he hired last year as his third National Security advisor, and fired the other night as they appeared to agree on absolutely nothing and besides, he always hated that yellowing signature soup-strainer Bolton sports on his horsey upper lip, as it got him so much publicity.

Defending his attempt to rollback the phazing-out of energy-intensive tungsten lightbulbs, something we did in Europe about 20 years ago, Trump told a gathering it was because eco-friendlier low-energy bulbs “Always make me look orange”. This, in a speech to the Congressional Institute?

The guy has absolutely no self-awareness. The world is just an invention of his own diseased brain. A world through which he walks alone, troubled only by the shadows of the rest of us.

And then – this is the President who told another gathering this week that his wife Melania has a son – in wrapping up a rambling, delusionary and disorienting impromptu speech, he called Vice President Mike Pence: “Mike Pounds”, and then looked momentarily confused.

For God’s sake, Republican party, what the hell is wrong with you? You’re headed for oblivion with this demented old fraud in charge.

(Based on actual news clips satirized on The Late Show, 13 Sept.)

Thompson said: ‘I mean, I did get fired, but apart from that it was all smooth running.’

Double mammy: Al Johnson, as the PM might look in the age of color.

Depression news

Despite warnings from medical professionals and a number of deaths associated with the trials, Donald Trump has told his Health Department to order a vast quantity of a new, expensive, ketamine-based drug to be supplied to the Veterans Administration, for treating cases of PTSD in the military; where doctors have already advised, antidepressants can do more harm than good.

Are we to assume then that Trump “knows more about medicine than many doctors”, as he once met a doctor, or perhaps is it a case of another anonymous million-dollar donation quietly appearing in his re-election campaign war chest?

And make no mistake. Muh good friend, The Pumpkin is betting his jazz collection on Trump getting re-elected next year, if he has not been carted off with his arms folded in the meantime.

Just as, after ten years of vicious “austerity” warfare against the poorer two-thirds of the country, and as we head into a recession, the mendacious and incompetent Conservative government led by a bumbling and entitled unelected oaf, a careerist dilettante, a serial shagger and amateur racist who proposes to destroy the economy by dragging us in chaos out of the EU with nothing settled, and who has been branded a liar and a chancer by no less than former PM, David Cameron; the party selling places in the lifeboats for the rich while the rest of us drown in a sea of bubbling-hot shit, has a 12 per cent lead in the public opinion polls.

On both sides of the Atlantic, populist lunacy reigns.

 

“More than 60% of US adults hold at least one “new age” belief, such as placing faith in astrology or the power of psychics, and 42% think spiritual energy can be located in physical objects such as crystals” – Guardian report. The International Labor Organization estimates about 85,000 children work in Madagascar’s unregulated crystal mines, for the benefit of cretins like Gwyneth Paltrow and her tribe of emaciated airheads.

Depression News #2

It’s an ill-wind… “Shares in oil companies have jumped this morning, following the jump in crude prices.” (Guardian, jumping twice). Oil companies and armaments manufacturers are giving off the only signs that we’re not heading into a global recession, accompanied by a mooted US-led retaliatory strike on Iranian refineries, as all other market indices were showing red this morning.

If you were hoping to avoid a 5p rise in the unleaded price at the pumps today, you’re probably too late – althugh Trump is pumping ever harder. Aramco is now predicting it may take months to get back to full production after the drone strikes on the Abqaiq processing facility, which have interdicted half of Saudi Barbaria’s refinery output – 5% of the world’s oil supply.

Strikes for which the US has now managed to cobble together enough “intel” to suggest must have come from Iran or its proxies in Iraq, rather than from the Yemeni rebels who have claimed them.

Pundits now fear rising oil prices could be just the thing to kick off a global recession; while US banks – free once again to trade in dodgy debt-swaps with shareholder immunity risking only their depositors’ savings – could be even more just the thing to trigger another 2007-style lending crisis and a consequent depression, from which there might be no escape this time. The ECB and the Fed have already got the printing presses smoking hot and interest rates set below zero, but will it be enough?

Buckle up.

I keep saying that, don’t I? Yawn.

 

Depression News #3: “We can’t be sure…” etc.

“…if anything is masked by dimming, it’s the BBC”.

In an online story today, the good ole BBC carries a series of interviews with climate scientists including former UK chief scientist, David King.

All of them admit straight away, they’re scared. It’s all getting out of hand. Extreme weather events are coming thick and fast. They’re becoming more extreme, at an unpredicted rate.

But… we can’t be sure that any one event is linked to climate change!

Why does the BBC keep on parroting this sanitizing mantra? What actual relevance does making individual connections have, when joining the dots is scaring the pants off the people who know?

“Dr Friederike Otto from Oxford University is an expert in the attribution of extreme events to climate change. (So’s your Old Gran. It just comes natural, like…) She told us that in a pre-climate change world, a heatwave like this (France, June and July 2019, 46 and 43 deg. C) might strike once in 1,000 years. ‘In a post-warming world, the heatwave was a one-in-a-100 year phenomenon.’ (I know, that’s twice in one year! and they had Lucifer in 2017, and another one last year, 15 thousand heat deaths in 2003. But carry on, Dr Expert.) ‘In other words, natural variability is amplifying human-induced climate heating. (No, it’s the other way around!) With European heatwaves, we have realised that climate change is a total game-changer,’ she said.” Indeed. Good experting there, Dr Otto. I’m sure you know, it’s not a game.

But…  “it was impossible to be sure that the slow progress of Dorian was caused by climate change”. Oh, really? We know what the meteorological mechanisms are for the slowing forward progress, the more rapid intensification and increasing moisture-content of hurricanes. And it’s not just Dorian, it’s pretty well all of them now. Harvey? Florence? Michael? Idai? Kenneth? The Terrible Twins, Lekima and Krosa?

The Terrible Twins: Lekima and Krosa.

We know the climate is warming. And we know that all weather events are (and were always) the product of Earth’s climate.

Where’s the difficulty then in assuming that events that are more unusual and more extreme and more frequent than the norm are the obvious products of a changing climate – an overheating world?

Oh, but, says the top UN climate science guy, we don’t want to frighten the children!

Why the fuck do you think the children are striking and marching and demonstrating? It’s because they’re trying to frighten you! Why not listen to them?

And do stop telling us the world has warmed by “1 degree”! When you start from pre-industrial 1750 rather than 1880 you’re looking at 1.85 degrees already. Adjusting other variables as the scientists at Arctic News have been doing (admittedly controversially) brings us to nearer 3 degrees, but masked by the aerosol effect known as “global dimming” we can go on pretending if you like.

Your Old Gran has made the point many times before: if anything is masked by dimming, it’s the BBC.

 

“Two climate crisis protesters who removed Emmanuel Macron’s portrait from an official building were justified in doing so because of the severity of the environmental emergency, a judge has said. ​The ​judge in Lyon acquitted the pair of theft in a ruling hailed as historic by campaigners.” (Guardian)

And we want to leave the European Union?

Schools for scandal

“Each time a school becomes an academy the council must hand over the title deeds for the school if it has them (avg value £5m per school). As over 2,000 schools have been forced to become academies that is £10 billion (min) state assets (of which) Michael Gove has demanded the title deeds be handed to him.”

Legal fees involved in this incredible scam, uncovered five years ago by Michael Rosen, the “Childrens’ Laureate” at the time, amounted to another £50 million – all funded by the taxpayer.

Rosen’s attempts in 2014 to discover who now owned the title deeds make for even more shocking reading: a FOI request backed, in the face of unlawful prevarication, by a court order eventually revealed, there were no paper records or any form of traceable audit of the transfers of £10 billion in titles to formerly public buildings and land to the governors of the new schools, many of them Conservative party notables.

Gove, he adds, secretly set up a private company to process the deeds. But the money itself could not be traced. He later changed the law so that academies – unlike every other charity in the land – don’t have to publish accounts. Anyone “associated with the school” can now own the deeds, and even trade or sell them on; while the Government funds the payment of extortionate rents on the school properties to the new private “owners”.

The deeds have, in effect, been converted to a traded bond currency with no IFA oversight: “dark money”. While the “shareholders” of these new private school companies are indemnified at the public expense. THese are valuable public assets that have in effect been stolen by the state, and the money redistributed to private individuals.

Thus much of the money has ended up invested in offshore tax shelters and has been denied to the rest of our crumbling education system. As indeed, the schools were formerly in local authority ownership; while, as we know, local services – libraries, social care, housing, children’s services, “meals-on-wheels”, policing – pothole filling – have all been slashed to the marrow, thanks to the austerity measures imposed on us by this sickening bunch of rentier prostitutes, the Conservative party and its successive, failed governments.

Why this scandal is not better known, why the public has not burned down Parliament, I do not know. It is exactly the same system as was exploited by Vladimir Putin to vastly enrich his coterie of thuggish “oligarchs” in the new Russia, through the supra-legal disposals of holdings in formerly public companies; making himself probably the richest man in the world in the process. (He is believed to be worth twice as much as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.)

I learned about the scandal only today, from a link provided in a Comment on a Guardian piece reminding us how terrible Gove was as Education Secretary: principally, as evidenced by his cynical removal of classes covering civics, politics, contemporary history – and any mention of the EU – from the national curriculum, thus possibly explaining why there is so little resistance to Tory propaganda; so little interest in politics, or the EU, that the people can be easily bullied and manipulated into voting 180 degrees against their own interest.

It turns out, therefore, that in addition to being a duplicitous little shit, Gove is also very probably a criminal.

Would somebody please move for the arrest and trial of this mendacious little pox-doctor, on charges of conspiracy to defraud the public purse, and of misconduct while in office? Throw open the windows and let a little light and air in on his furtive activities? Whatever else by way of treacherous deception he might have engineered while nobody was looking?

And please Sir, can we have our education system back? No Tory government should be allowed within a mile of the school gates, they’re nothing but a bunch of economic perverts and ignorance pushers.

Thanks.

http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/gove-nicked-our-schools-and-handed-them.html

 

GW: under my umbrella, ella

Parts of eastern Spain received what in some places was their heaviest rainfall on record on Thursday, 12 Sept., with severe flash-flooding, as storms wreaked (wrought?) widespread destruction and killed at least 4 people. The regional emergency service said a 51-year-old woman and her 61-year-old brother had been found dead in an overturned car in Caudete. 2 other motorists drowned in Almeria and Granada. The town of Ontinyent in Valencia had recorded more than 400mm (16-in.) rainfall by Thursday afternoon. The Clariano river rose 9 meters (30ft) in 2 hours. Regional airports were closed. (Guardian)

Bahamas: Tropical storm warnings have been issued for the northwestern Bahamas, including Grand Bahama Island. Disturbance 95L became Potential Tropical Cyclone 9 on Thursday afternoon and follows Cat. 5 Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the northern Bahamas last week (1,300 still recorded as missing.) If this system were to become a tropical storm, it would be called Humberto. As of 2 a.m. EDT Friday (13 Sept.), the center of the system was about 210 miles southeast of Great Abaco Island with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. and potential to bring 300mm (15-in.) of rain (Accuweather) Behind it, a second disturbance has formed a disorganized system moving westwards out of the Cape Verde islands towards the Lesser Antilles, and stands a good chance of developing, monitors report.

Monday update: Strengthening hurricane, Humberto brushed by the Bahamas and then took a huge swing northeastwards, away from the Americas and out into the Atlantic. Bermuda is on standby. Watch out Portugal, or us, next week.

Brazil: Coffee lovers should consider stocking up on beans. Accuweather reports on market jitters, as: “the key coffee-growing region of Minas Gerais in Brazil has not had significant rain in three months. Average temperatures have been a whopping 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, and average precipitation has been 57% below normal since June 1.” No rain is in the forecast for the next three weeks.

USA: As powerful storms continue to batter the Midwest, September 2018 to August 2019 was again the wettest 12-month stretch on record for the contiguous United States as a whole. March and July were the only months that were slightly drier than average, but still maintained the year-on-year record. The top five wettest Jan-Aug periods have all occurred since 1979. (Wunderground, from where the NOAA graph below, showing rapid intensification, is also taken.)

Precipitation totals for 12-month spans from September to the following August, going back to 1895

The floppy jetstream is once again plunging southwards, as far as southern California – 100F degree temperatures around Sacramento are likely to be in the 60s by early this week, a new storm system is moving in and there’s a snow forecast for higher elevations. Tropical Storm Humberto has triggered storm warnings for Florida’s east coast. (Accuweather) Behind Humberto, “Imelda” (as yet only an unnamed depression) is forming off the Cape Verde islands.

Accuweather reports, Monday 16th: “Residents (in South Dakota) are facing record-breaking flooding as the Big Sioux River continues to rise. The National Weather Service said recently, that almost a foot of rain fell near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, over the course of two days. Multiple rivers and creeks surpassed previous water level records.”

Arctic: Prof. Beckwith’s latest podcast causes some puzzlement. While it’s clear from satellite scans that practically all the multi-year thick ice north of 60 deg. is gone, and there are still millions of square km of clear water around the outer edges of the ocean that weren’t there in Augusts past, it appears that the overall extent of sea ice that had been falling all summer in line with 2012’s record collapse had begun by mid-August to level off; although it’s thin and mushy. Despite record air temperatures, as the sun’s obliquity grows with the onset of winter, surface melting appeared to slow down early, although sub-surface melting continues for some weeks after, as the water beneath remains warm. No-one is quite sure why: aerosol masking from fires is one theory, fresh meltwater from Greenland another. So it looks like we won’t be getting the dreaded “blue water” event this year; but we’re still skating on thin ice.

UK – Wales: A Google search reveals the factoid that the average daily September temperature in the UK is 16.8C, with an average high of 18C. Happily then, in the shade of the enormous Photinia in my front garden, we hit 23.2 degrees at about 2 p.m. this fine, sunny – if still somewhat hazy – afternoon (13 Sept.); and 23.5 the next day. Truly, these are the Fortunate Isles!

World’s largest permafrost river, the Lena at Yakutsk dries to a record low, preventing winter supplies reaching outlying settlements. (Siberian Times)

Tunnel approaching….

“40% of the UK’s food is imported,” notes a parliamentary report. In the very near future, the Environmental Audit Committee says, “people would be at risk from sudden lurches in food prices if a no-deal Brexit resulted in trouble with imports, including higher costs, delays and shortages. Beyond the immediate effects of Brexit, the climate emergency and changing trade relationships may put the British diet in jeopardy.” The committee has called for urgent action to improve resilience, including water rationing, greater diversity in farming and a campaign against food waste.

Mary Creagh, the chair of the committee, said: “We are facing a food security crisis.”

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/17/uk-fresh-food-imports-areas-at-risk-climate-crisis-mps-warn

Meanwhile, the Department for Farming and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, has confirmed we are expecting the first case of African Swine Fever in Britain “within 12 months”. It’s already prevalent in eastern Europe. China has had to slaughter over a million pigs already and has dropped its tariffs against US pork producers to guarantee supply. China consumes half the world’s production, but the country expects to have to cull another 250 million pigs to try to contain the outbreak of what is being described as potentially the world’s worst ever animal disease pandemic. World prices are rising.

…a short essay

“Denialism comes riding on My Little Pony.”

The sheer irrelevance of political journalism

I keep abandoning halfway through, long, thoughtful, worried articles in the kind of liberal press I tend to read, giving tendentious political analysis – Brexit, the Farage party, Johnson, Cummings, shutting down Parliament, whither democracy and the political system?, civil discourse, globalism, Orban, Salvini, street violence, treason, hedge funds, Nazis, Twitter rants, Trump’s chaotic foreign policy, left, right – the rule of law.

Not one of them betrays the slightest awareness of the parallel climate crisis that is hurling itself upon us with ever-increasing velocity, violence – and expense. Not one appears to be aware that an extinction event is already far advanced, of mammalian species, that unfortunately now includes the human race; and that this is a political, as well as a scientific and geophysical conundrum: not, can we now prevent?, but how are we going to manage our own extinction?

Not one journalist seems to understand the connection: that, whatever political systems are in place five years from now, our “leaders” will have to grapple with issues humanity has not had to face in the last 13 thousand years, at least since the cosmic collision event that extincted the northern megafauna – and nearly us too; nor are the “leaders” seemingly capable of factoring those issues into their self-obsessed, narrow-minded, anachronistic ideologies.

It is as if politics and the environment are entirely separate issues proceeding on parallel tracks, with a high wall between.

The author and New York Times contributor, Jonathan Franzen – an expert amateur ornithologist, by the way, who travels the world in search of rare birds, has written a polemic in which he concludes, there is no way out of the situation we have gotten ourselves into.

And a silly little girl claiming to be a “climate scientist”, Kate Marvel writes a reply in the Scientific American, telling Franzen to “shut up”.

After several paragraphs describing the situation exactly as it is: fossil fuel overdependency, feedbacks kicking in, non-linear warming, ice vanishing, levels of CO2 in the amosphere unknown during the 2 million years humans have existed, environmental degradation, etcetera, etcetera, she writes – believe it or not: “I am a scientist, which means I believe in miracles.”

It is gobsmacking stuff. Denialism comes riding on My Little Pony.

That’s the childish, panic-stricken, self-censoring level to which – I won’t call it a debate – scientific discourse has sunk. Franzen’s view is soundly supported by numerous serious scientists, many of whom are being “shut up” by the vested interests for whom truth is an elastic polymer. None, so far as I know, is offering us a “miracle”.

Even where mainstream media journalists do crossover from their political navel-gazing into quasi-scientific environmentalism, not one seems fully apprised of the depth of the hot shit we are now swimming in, or prepared to peer into the abyss. Twelve years, according to the IPCC? Don’t be so fucking naive, we were given 12 years by the UN in 1989!

I could name you all, you sober and sensible political journalists with your furrowed concern for the future of democracy, but why bother? You know who you are. Just wake up and look around, you self-absorbed, incurious boobies.

The totalitarianism and exclusionary nativism you see rising all around us are the direct consequence of a universal but unspoken consciousness that we are fast approaching the end time. We face a fascist-style, dictatorial future, only because kleptocratic authoritarianism is the natural political response to looming dystopian chaos, the collapse of the civilized postwar consensus in which some – for a time – will win, and the rest of us will unfortunately be left to perish.

Populist totalitarianism and exclusionary nativism are – literally – the zeitgeist.

Is it the answer you want?

Then try asking the question. Earn your money.

And now I’ll shut up.

So, Farewell then, Jeff… Still crazier after all these years… Has He Shot his Fox?… It’s just a silly phase we’re going through… Arse Attacks #2… GW: And the beast goes on… Issue 94 of The Pumpkin extends its tendrils.

Other Quote of the Week

“Every photo of Cummings going into Downing Street sees him shiftily meeting the camera’s gaze with the same defensive sneer you’d see on the proprietor of a holiday caravan park who has just been released on police bail after a fatal gas explosion thought to have been caused by poor maintenance. Britain really is the land of crap Rasputins….”

– Marina Hyde, in The Guardian, 9 Aug.

 

So, Farewell then, Jeff

Let’s not get too cynical, shall we, about the timing of society pimp Jeffrey Epstein’s “apparent suicide” (Guardian), following an earlier apparent attempt on his own life last week, while “on suicide watch” in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. (“The facility is widely considered to be one of the most secure in the country.” – BBC)

We feel sure it must have had everything to do with feelings of personal shame and remorse, the certain loss of his privileged millionaire lifestyle; the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars, where his status as a bit of a celebrity nonce might make things uncomfortable for him. And as we know, careless is generally the middle name of whichever private contractor runs these facilities.

It surely had nothing to do with the 2,000 pages of evidence, naming names, in the trial on a charge of slander against Epstein’s mistress and alleged procurer of underage girls, Ghislaine Maxwell, released last week by a New York court; Ms Maxwell having unwisely accused one of the witnesses in Epstein’s trial, Virginia Giuffre (15 at the time) of lying.

(As Oscar Wilde said, “Don’t ever go there”!)

After all, why would Epstein have wanted the opportunity to defend himself in court, having bothered to plead not guilty to all the charges? Unnecessarily inconveniencing all his wealthy and powerful friends, some with extensive connections, I should imagine, in the criminal underworld.

Having been tried once before, and agreed to serve 13 months, most of it on the outside, where he allegedly continued his unsavory pastime of importing underage girls to entertain his rich and famous clients, I expect he just didn’t want to have to go through all that again.

And look, there’s the story, obviously denied, in the overnight British press, “Prince Andrew touched my breasts….” From another young witness, Joanna Sjoberg:

“I just remember someone suggesting a photo, and they told us to go get on the couch. And so Andrew and Virginia sat on the couch, and they put the puppet, the puppet on her lap. And so then I sat on Andrew’s lap, and I believe on my own volition, and they took the puppet’s hands and put it on Virginia’s breast, and so Andrew put his on mine.”

So, British royalty. May as well just get it all over with, eh? Puppets. What was that about?

Water under the bridge.

(As you may imagine, the Twittersphere is atweet with this story, the consensus seeming to be that this will be one for the conspiracy theorists for all Eternity. More sober commenters point out that all may not yet be lost as more civil actions are pending, that may rely on the same evidence coming out.

Unfortunately for her, Ms Maxwell is now the one most likely to bear the entire brunt of public opprobrium that had been reserved for her “boyfriend”.)

 

A police patrol car on its way to an incident was struck by a falling bear in northern California last weekend, causing the vehicle to crash and explode. The bear made its escape. (Various sources)

 

“who will dare to tell the king he’s crazy?.”

Still crazier after all these years

I imagine it’s almost certainly illegal to wish that someone would just take the shot and end this. Although I expect in their waking moments, most compassionate, rational people do.

Trump and the Third Lady pitched up at a hospital in El Paso on Tuesday, the Old Mexican border town where 22 people died in a mass shooting last week at a Walmart store, carried out by a 21-year-old white man armed with an assault rifle. The unrepentant suspect, Patrick Crusius had just posted a lengthy manifesto on the 8Chan race haters’ website, dedicating his desire to end immigration and prevent the “replacement” of the white race to the president’s deliberately inflammatory statements of previous weeks.

Was the presidential party there to commiserate with and support the survivors and the medical teams working round the clock to save the wounded? Would the president make a statement admitting that his attacks on migrants and people of color, his strident demands that they go back to where they came from, his encouragement of racially hateful chanting had gone too far? Would he apologize, and announce immediate action on lax gun ownership rules?

Well, we wouldn’t really know, as the media was barred from going in the building.

To rub the point in, Trump had brought along with him a White House camera crew. He, and he alone, would control the news agenda. “Mine is the only light in the room.” Thus he had himself filmed, grinning broadly, making a thumbs-up gesture, while Melania diffidently poses with the newsworthy baby whose young parents were shot dead trying to protect it. Their deaths meant nothing more to the First Family than an opportunity to exploit a half-Mexican baby.

They are not looking at the baby. They are looking away, possibly at another camera. Don’t look at the baby, they are saying, look at us! Don’t make the baby the center of attention, the headline news, we’re the ones who matter here!

This man is as sick in the mind as any human being can possibly get. But also as mean, and ruthless.

As the unwelcome and embarrassing visit wore on, drawing the media’s attention, across Texas ICE – the immigration police – on Trump’s order launched a series of raids, netting hundreds of supposedly undocumented Latino migrant workers, many resident for decades, leaving their bewildered children stuck at home or at school – or themselves rounded up and disappeared into containment facilities not fit for slaughtering cattle.

Later reporting suggests that one raid, in Mississippi, may have been connected with unwanted union activity at a chicken plant. You see, it’s not all about the race thing. Never was.

Back at the hospital, private cameraphone footage revealed the First Oaf, Trump grinning and bragging to appalled and embarrassed medical staff that his crowd size outside was bigger than the “400 or so” who had greeted losing 2018 Congressional candidate, Beto O’Rourke, at his most recent rally in El Paso – his home town. It was the most important thing he had to tell them, as he never stops telling everyone, that he still can’t believe he’s really the president.

Police estimated O’Rourke had drawn a crowd in excess of ten thousand. But that would have meant nothing to Trump, as he was furious that O’Rourke had dared to question the ethics of his visit to the survivors and grieving relatives; who had requested that he not come. My crowd being bigger than yours, obviously because I say it is, makes me a winner and you a loser. So – “Be quiet!”, he imperiously tweeted the younger presidential hopeful, after a fusillade of insults.

It was yet another vindictive attack on a perceived enemy by the paranoid narcissist with the nuclear codes. For Trump, life is a zero-sum game: I win, you lose – and “Trump” (it’s how he refers to himself, in the third person) never loses. With his little thumbs on the tweeter, he will always have the last word. And it will always be the nastiest.

In much the same way as he publicly crowed on the night of 9/11, with nearly three thousand office workers and aircraft passengers dead or dying, that his tower block would now be the tallest in Manhattan; or as he claimed last month to an audience of chronically sick firefighters, police and paramedics, who really had been there, that he was down there with them at Ground Zero, “helping people” and “moving rubble” (actually he was giving a radio interview), it was another fantasy born of a total deficit of human empathy and understanding; making every crisis all about himself and his own tragic feelings of victimhood.

Reportedly, on the way back from Dayton, Ohio, where he visited a second hospital containing nine more victims of white nationalism, shot up within hours of El Paso, Trump had another one of his meltdowns, and has been screaming abuse at hapless staffers who had “allowed” him to visit the hospitals without the media present, as he is now being widely accused of hypocrisy and insensitivity and has no witnesses to prove otherwise.

We wonder why.

No normally sane person says and does those things; let alone someone with the power and responsibility of the office of president. Congress has to understand what hundreds of mental health professionals have been saying since he took office: Trump is crazy, and getting crazier.

It’s not supposed to be funny, it’s not a joke – it’s not a criticism, a put-down, anti-Americanism, Antifa-antics, snobbish lefty-liberal horseshit, “Doctor internet” theorizing or lazy late-night satire:

It’s exactly what mental illness looks like.

Someone has to act on it, to end the nightmare.

Besides the criminality of which he is widely and evidentially accused, the cronyism, it is simply inconceivable that a man who is so profoundly limited – on top of the psychological damage from which he already suffers as a result of his parental rejection issues – a man whose perceived reality is 360-degrees self-invented, who can view the world only through the flattering prism of his own ego, his own wants; who continually lies to aggrandize himself when it doesn’t matter, and denies his actions have consequences; who has an insatiable craving for approval, a man in any case so poorly structured and incompetent, how should such a person be allowed to continue in the highest office, to which he was inadvertently elected?

For his own sake he has to be taken into care, at the very least for a period of psychiatric assessment. He is a clear and present danger to himself and to the country; his assaults on scientific research alone should indicate that he inhabits a separate reality; never mind the damaging trade wars, the tearing-up of treaties, the unwanted interference with foreign governments and the fights he picks with his country’s allies. The idea that he should be permitted a second four-year term is unconscionable.

It is criminal of the Republican party to insist that such a person should remain trapped in the very situation that is making his illness so much worse. He was never fit for the job. A humane constitutional mechanism to suspend him from office exists in the form of the 25th amendment.

But who will dare to tell the king he’s crazy?

How would he even have the mental capacity to agree?

 

Angela Merkel has been caught on vacation in the Tyrol, reading a book called “Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics”, by Harvard Professor Stephen Greenblatt. The book purports to draw parallels between tyrants in Shakespeare’s plays, and Donald Trump.

(“A rather simplistic, naive narrative.” – Bloomberg)

 

Has He Shot his Fox?

David Pakman is reporting that Trump has abandoned Murdoch’s Fox News, after months of increasingly rancorous tweets aimed at presenters like Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace, who have honorably attempted to retain some measure of editorial objectivity on this, one of the most rightwing of networks.

Trump’s real obsession has been with the daytime show, Fox & Friends, which falls into the Features category, rather than news. It’s said that numerous policy decisions and reversals have been announced from the Oval Office within minutes of rabid frothers like Laura Ingraham, Judge Jeanine Pirro and Brian Kilmeade commenting in characteristically over-the-top ways on the issues of the day.

Some of Trump’s staff appointments have been of totally unqualified people who just happened to have worked or guested in ways he approves of, on Fox & Friends. He feels some panellists have turned against him, particularly legal pundit Judge Napoletano, who has sometimes declared Trump’s initiatives to be illegal. Of course, one of his closest confidants is the overemotional motormouth presenter and millionaire slum landlord, Sean Hannity.

But of late, even Fox & Friends has been critical, for instance of his backing away from military confrontation with Iran. Now, reports Pakman, Trump is endorsing an even more rabidly rightwing and conspiratorial media outlet, the One America News Network, OAN – an amateurish cable network with fewer than 400 thousand subscribers – although with his support, that looks set to rise.

He recently tweeted that he would rather watch “fake news CNN” than Shepard Smith, but that “whenever possible, I turn to OANN!”

The station has promoted as real news, most of the usual online conspiracy theories cooked up by swivel-eyed Trump supporters like Alex Jones of InfoWars on the fringes of his campaign during the 2016 election; for instance, that Democrat intern Seth Rich, who died in a street mugging, was murdered on the orders of Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta – himself at the helm of an international pedophile ring based in the (non-existent) basement of the Comet Ping-Pong cafe in Washington.

According to Wikipedia, OAN – or OANN – is owned by Robert Herring Sr, mildly crazed President of Herring Networks, a millionaire who made his fortune printing circuit boards:

“Originally launched with the intention of targeting a conservative and center-right audience, OAN states a goal of delivering credible national and international news coverage throughout the day while its prime time political talk shows illustrate a conservative perspective. The channel is pro-Trump (and pro-Russia). Both Vanity Fair and The Independent in London have accused the channel of promoting falsehoods and conspiracy theories.”

Herring is currently hoping to acquire Al Jazeera’s US operation to improve OANN’s standing. (We recall, do we gnotte, Trump’s support for Saudi Barbaria’s boycott of Qatar, one of which’s objectives was to get Qatar-owned Al Jazeera closed down, which might well have helped Herring’s ambition along some.)

Suspecting that by supporting OAN, Trump might just have been hoping to move Fox’s coverage back to the far-right, from which he believes it has drifted, and to continue its slavish approval of him, The Guardian reported scathingly in June:

“The obscure One America News Network (OAN) makes up for its lack of clout or viewers by covering every Trump utterance, recycling conspiracy theories, downplaying Russian threats, bashing the mainstream media and championing the ‘Make America Great Again’ agenda.”

Former OAN employees confirmed to the Daily Beast, basically that the network is a crock of shit, and a terrible place to work, being in effect the personal mouthpiece of the Herrings, father and son.

If Pakman is correct, and OAN has won, watch out for even more bonkers initiatives and dangerously illiberal policies emerging from the biddable gogglebox president’s TV room, where he spends hours a day in “executive time”, communing with the little yammering faces in the ether. It seems they have indeed won, as on 8 August Herring tweeted:

“COMING SOON! You will be able to watch the president’s favorite news network by becoming a supporter on Facebook. One America News is launching a LIVE 24/7 feed — you will be able to tune in anywhere in the world. More details to come!”

Which prompted a frantic “Do not send money!” disclaimer from a company called OAN, whose URL Herring had declined to register as OANN was several thousand dollars cheaper, hence the extra N for Network – even though it barely is one yet.

What Rupert will have to say is anyone’s guess. He and Trump haven’t been friends for some time.

Media monster

The 45th President of the United States of America, probably the most petty and vindictive one ever, went ballistic last week and began tweeting furiously when he heard a Fox interview with a former Google employee, who “confirmed” a rumor (believed by Trump) that the online search monster was deliberately suppressing conservative websites – untrue, as it happens, the guy had just been fired and was feeling sore.

Under his savvy campaign director, Brad Parscale – formerly of Cambridge Analytica – Trump’s digital effort has already spent $9.3 million dollars on over 2,000 Facebook ads for 2020, including creating improbable support organizations, such as “Latinos for Trump!”, using brownish actors.

Techniques learned, obviously, from the Russians.

 

It’s just a silly phase we’re going through

As things in Britain and the USA slide gently out of kilter, with the rise of authoritarian gangster-capitalist juntas run by crazed, unelected rightwing ideologues in hock to a gruesome coalition of insane tech billionaires, hedge funds, Russian mobsters and the evangelical churches – practically the whole of southern England and Wales was without electricity yesterday, for no obvious reason, while there have been rolling blackouts across New York – and the numbers in poverty continue rising as fast as the rich can bank the money, spare a thought for the people of Zimbabwe.

Eighteen months ago they were freed from the malign rule of one half-insane, senile dictator, Mugabe, 94, only to fall into the hands of another reptilian incompetent, his former bush colleague and war criminal, Nelson Mnangagwa, age 77 and three-quarters. One look at his face tells you exactly how much mercy to expect from this former warlord.

Why on earth Africans always seem to imagine that these now elderly men who once fought brutal guerrilla wars, first against colonial rule and then against one another, committing endless rapes and massacres, are competent to run modern democracies, I have no idea, but they always seem to end up getting themselves elected, swanking around in black Mercedes, stuffing their Swiss bank accounts and grinding the faces of the voters.

Reports from Harare say people outside the city, where the rich still dine out, are literally going hungry, scraping by on a handful of meal and a few leaves a day. The UN says 4 million will need aid. Children are reported to be collapsing in school from hunger. There’s no power twelve hours a day, rampant unemployment, hospitals bare of medical supplies and the currency is virtually worthless.

This in a country Mnangagwa promised would be a haven for foreign investment – only to find himself hamstrung by the IMF and Mugabe’s vast debts, facing an almost perpetual state of austerity and drought punctuated by cyclones and floods.

Which makes this statement from a government minister all the more ironic, considering how things are going on the streets of their former colonial masters’ home country, Britain, where schools are on short time, begging for donations to buy teachers and having to feed 50 thousand children through the summer holidays – where homelessness has gone beyond the power of government to fix, and where, in a couple of months’ time, we may be begging the EU for emergency supplies of food and medicines, with the army on the streets:

“These are temporary issues as the market adjusts,” said Energy Mutodi, the deputy information minister. “This is an economy that is transforming into a more robust and innovative one … it shouldn’t be mistaken for a crisis. We expect prices to stabilise. We are going through a phase where we need to sacrifice and make some savings.”

Ring any bells, George Osborne? Philip Hammond? Boris Johnson – Lord Wolfson – anyone of the brightly optimistic school of Western socio-economic disintegration? Because, whatever befalls us in November – don’t mistake it for a crisis, it’s just a transformation into something worse.

 

Arse Attacks #2

Tonight, The Observer is reporting:

An Observer analysis of Land Registry documents and EU subsidy databases reveals that a farm in Durham, which Cummings jointly owns with his parents and another person, has received roughly €20,000 a year for most of the last two decades.

That’s the Dominic Cummings, archBrexiteer and Iago to Boris’ Othello, Asterix to Boris’ Obelix, who has frequently attacked farming subsidies because they allow us to compete unfairly with African producers.

 

GW: And the beast goes on… 

China: “At least 18 people have been killed and more than a million forced from their homes as Typhoon Lekima hit. 14 people were also missing after a landslide was triggered by the storm, state media reported. Lekima made landfall between Taiwan and China’s financial capital Shanghai. The storm was initially designated a “super typhoon”, but weakened slightly before landfall – when it still had winds of 187km/h (116mph). Lekima is now slowly winding its way north through Zhejiang province, and is expected to hit Shanghai, which has a population of more than 20 million. Fallen trees and power cuts are widespread.” (BBC)

Sunday 11 Aug: now 28 dead, 20 missing.

USA: “A broad area of the central United States will be at risk for violent thunderstorms and flooding downpours this weekend …with the worst of the thunderstorms focused on South Dakota. A brief tornado was reported in Lyman County, South Dakota, on Friday, with many more thunderstorms producing damaging winds and large hail in the state. The greatest threats from the storms are likely to be be high winds, which can gust to 70 mph, as well as hail and flash flooding.” (Accuweather)

Australia: The land of sun downunder is having a tough winter. “Strong winds continued to lash parts of New South Wales on Saturday, with snow hitting the Blue Mountains and stranding some drivers on the Great Western highway before it was reopened. And in Victoria, where a woman died (and 2 children were injured, one gravely) after a tree fell on a car, the cold, rain and strong winds were forecast to stick around for the weekend. Winds topped 113km/h on the south coast’s Montague Island on Friday. (Guardian) Emergency workers have dealt with hundreds of calls for help. At Stockton, in Newcastle, the wind ripped the roof off an old people’s care center, forcing the evacuation of about 30 people.

Meanwhile… More than 60 bushfires are burning in New South Wales, two months before the start of the fire season. How this is happening at the same time as the state is affected by rain and snow, your Gran fails to comprehend, but this is being reported today, 10 Aug., by News.com.au. I guess it’s a big place.

UK: Rail passengers endured a second day of disruption, this time caused by severe winds and flooding rather than power outages. After travellers recovered from delays of up to 12 hours on Friday following the National Grid failure, weather caused chaos in the national rail network, ports and roads. (BBC)

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Why we need to ban fracking now….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here we are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there’s more:

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

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

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

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

A 2017 article in Forbes magazine reported:

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

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

On shaky ground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But don’t hold your breath.

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

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

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

 

The Ruling Class

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

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

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

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

The monstrous dictatorship of the Bullingdon Club is rising.

We have been warned.

 

Boris lays an egg

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

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

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

Democracy in action.

 

Well, fuck you too

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

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

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

Well, fuck you too.

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

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

 

GW: As yet, there seems to be no weather

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

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

Pip pip!

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 92: I was down there also… Treason!… We smell a rat… The grass is bluer… GW: And I’m aflame with such a burning desire.

Lie of the day

“I was down there also, but I’m not considering myself a first responder”

– Trump lied magnanimously at a Rose Garden event, where genuine first responders on 9/11 were present to witness him signing a bill protecting their longterm medical care against his assaults on Obama’s Affordable Care Act. He went on to tell the heroic men and women who were really there at Ground Zero, that he had been down often, helping with moving rubble – a complete fantasy.

The Pumpkin looks forward to the fact-checkers’ version, especially as Trump has several times been forced to row back on lies that he “lost many friends”. There is no evidence whatever that he lost anybody he knew on 9/11; or that he was ever there – especially as he previously claimed to have been in New Jersey, where he personally “witnessed thousands of Muslims” dancing and cheering; something that also never happened.

We’ve since learned that he continues to tell the story of how he was luckily pulled off a helicopter flight before it crashed in 1989, killing two crew and three of his employees. A former PA says that’s just bullshit, he hadn’t been due to fly. He just has to insert himself, Zelig-like, into every drama.

I thought he might be crazy, but no: he’s just a pathetic, attention-seeking little creep.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping clink glasses at a conference in Tajikistan.

“And once we’ve necked a few of these babes, we can throw the turnips at the Americans!”

 

“This is the new reality of Trumpworld, in which truth is forced to kneel by an open grave, before being shot through the head.”

Treason!

Astonishingly, since Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s six-hour appearance in front of the House Judiciary Committee being lightly slapped around on his famous report, 488 pages that few Murkans could be bothered to read – the Disney version comes out next month – Trump and his scummy acolytes have been loudly and triumphantly proclaiming that he said in all respects, exactly the opposite of what anyone watching would have clearly heard him say.

Asked directly by chairman Jerrold Nadler if his report “totally exonerated” Trump, as the president has been going around saying for five months since the report was published, Mueller clearly and unambiguously replied: “No. “Was there obstruction of justice? “Yes”.

Yet Trump is still furiously tweeting that Mueller’s testimony totally exonerated him.

Because he knows, not enough people would have been watching. Again, it’s all about the ratings, the percentages – the distractor factor. Without sufficient consensus – critical mass – between people who heard Mueller not exonerating the president, and the majority who weren’t watching, Trump is gambling, he can create enough doubt for those who did hear it, to be persuaded that they heard exactly the opposite of what they heard.

Never mistake this man for a complete clown.

Asked if he thought Russian activities had played a part in Trump’s election, Mueller replied “Yes”, and added that he had no doubt the Russians were continuing to interfere “as we sit here” in the 2020 campaign.

Yet Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s former press spokeswoman, now looking like zombie-shit (he added, ungallantly) since her ouster, her lyin’ eyes reduced to puffy slits, has tweeted that Mueller said exactly the opposite, totally vindicating the president and presumably the Russians. While Trump himself has doubled down on his “witch hunt” slogan, openly accusing Mueller of “treason”.

Treason! A legally constituted criminal investigation, sanctioned by no fewer than six circuit court judges, whose initial causes and purposes have twice been thoroughly investigated and found to be free of any possible taint of conspiracy against the president or any suggestion of “fakery” by Mrs Clinton, President Obama and the Democrat party.

(Oh, but Peter Strzok made a joke… Presidential harrassment! Witch hunt! Failing FBI! Dem conspiracy! Treason!)

Treason – a capital offence. While we might perhaps note, the Justice Department has just this week revived capital punishment for federal crimes, after decades in suspension. Intimidation? Surely not.

Treason – because Mueller twice disobeyed Trump’s illegal order to defy the Congress and not show up to testify.

Just more lies, piled on lies. Treason.

A report, of which Mueller himself commented at last month’s private hearing that if his findings had applied to anyone in America other than the president, they would have been indicted for obstructing justice. (He is still of the opinion that if Trump loses the 2020 election and leaves office next year, he can be indicted. After a second term, however, he is not so certain as there is a statute of limitations that may have run out by then.)

A report, which he had to defend twice in letters, accusing Attorney General Barr of putting out a false summary for public consumption prior to releasing the redacted version to Congress, claiming it had exonerated the president when it had not.

(Okay, Mueller has to take the blame for not saying as much without a confusing double-negative and a lot of pussyfooting, hand-wringing and punch-pulling over whether or not you could indict a sitting president and, even if you could, did he have the authority to do it? No, he didn’t.)

Findings, of which no fewer than ONE THOUSAND current and former prosecuting attorneys have signed an opinion stating that indictable crimes were undoubtedly committed, on the basis of the evidence.

A report, from which Trump’s enablers in the senate are desperately trying to persuade the American public that it’s “time to move on”, because there’s nothing in it.

This is the new reality of Trumpworld, in which truth is forced to kneel by an open grave, before being shot through the head.

And what is the excuse for the liar, Trump to contradict every word Mr Mueller said at that hearing? Well, as reported by a fawning, cringing media, even by the Washington Post and the New York Times – who should know better than to give the orange fabulist a pass –  it was because Mr Mueller’s “performance” lacked conviction, making him sound “old”, “unreliable” or even “incompetent”. It was “disappointing” that he had not added significantly to his thoroughly comprehensive report.

Disappointing, too, I imagine, that he did not break into a chorus of Happy Days Are Here Again and go tap-dancing around the room in a pink tutu, sprinkling fairy dust from a wand.

In other words, this 74-year-old man, a notoriously self-effacing, media-shy Purple Heart combat veteran and former most highly regarded Director of the FBI for twelve years, supported by a handpicked team of highly experienced, specialised prosecutors and the resources of the number one federal crime-fighting agency in the country; who had only the day before been instructed not to say certain things by Trump’s pet Deppity Dawg Attorney General, Barr – who has himself been ruled to be criminally in contempt of Congress – and was struggling to balance his allegiances to the Department of Justice (to which he was answerable); to the sacred office of the president, that he swore an oath to uphold; and to the American people, was not sufficiently “entertaining” for a TV audience.

Yet in all the key respects – I did not watch all six hours, just the highlights – his testimony totally supported the conclusions of the written report, that is there for anyone to read if they even give a damn, which clearly no-one now does.

Murka has moved on, to discussion of whether children in concentration camps should be allowed to sleep, eat, wash and use a toilet, or whether they are happier in conditions under which it would be illegal to keep a herd of pigs. Whether or not the president is a lying, criminal sonofabitch, well, is the Pope a Catholic? Who cares!

Murka has moved on, to discussion of whether people of colour should go back to whichever shitholes their ancestors came from, and stop becoming legitimately elected representatives of their communities, telling white folks how to run their country.

Murka is too busy fascinating over another story of a pedophile ring – this time, one that seems to have had an actual existence. Oh, and that may once have involved Trump! (He hasn’t said he wasn’t, only that he is “no longer a fan” of Jeffrey Epstein.) And Murka is worried Trump’s twin satraps, Pompeo and Bolton, may be dragging them into an oil war again, against a manufactured enemy.

There was no contradiction or backtracking on the Grandpa Mueller show. No “confusion”, although a lot of whiffling and card-sorting. Even in its redacted form, blacking out references to intelligence reports and grand jury testimony, the Mueller team had found that:

Yes, there was collusion with the Russian attempt to influence the election –  indeed, Trump has since stated publicly on camera that he would do it again! He would see no reason to inform the FBI if the Russians offered him “dirt” on his next opponent, “why would I?”

One hundred and forty instances were cited, of communication between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign team. But “collusion” is not the word Mueller uses, because “collusion” is nowhere to be found in the criminal law. “Collusion” is not the name of the crime. “Conspiracy” is. Thus, and thus alone, there was no “collusion”.

And there was not sufficient connection found between campaign members and Trump himself on the issue of Russian interference, that would stand-up a criminal charge of conspiracy; although nobody objected to the Russians interfering, indeed they positively welcomed it. This is a legal technicality, not proof of innocence. Although, as Mueller said at the hearing, having understandably some difficulty getting the words out, Trump “generally, yes” had lied to him in written answers to questions, and other Trump officials had lied under questioning, while documents and recordings had been destroyed, so that all the evidence could not be properly evaluated.

(It may be noted, that the full story of the Russian campaign of interference was not covered by the report, or in Mueller’s testimony because, as he said, it is still under investigation. Nevertheless, there was no doubt it happened; which is why Trump has now let the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, go and has nominated a dumbfuck Texan in his place, a man with no intel experience, who agrees that Mueller, Clinton and President Obama should be investigated for treason. Yes, Dear Reader, you are watching a re-run of the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany, only without the pretty uniforms.)

And yes, there was obstruction of justice. Eleven counts, detailing meticulously how Trump attempted to shut down the investigation by ordering his staffers to bully and intimidate and threaten those involved, right up even to the level of the then-Attorney General, Mr Sessions – by attempting at every stage to undermine the credibility of investigators and prosecutors; ordering his people to manufacture, destroy or withold evidence; and firing anyone he had the power to fire, who was connected with the investigation.

Were those the actions of an innocent man, d’you think, or of a career criminal “trained” in aggressive-defensive tactics by the notorious mafia attorney, his father’s old consigliere, Roy Cohn?

And he is still obstructing justice, continually seeking to discredit and undermine (and even to personally sue) the Congressional committees and their chairmen battling to investigate the Trump campaign and his nefarious financial affairs; branding the ongoing inquiries as more evidence of a “witch-hunt”; presidential “harassment”, such as no president before has ever had to put up with (I wonder why not?) nor should ever again; commanding his present and former staff under made-up rules not to comply with legal subpoenas requiring their testimony and the release of documents.

Yet, by some special dark magic and the tragic shortcomings of a constitution whose authors never imagined a hellish succubus like Trump would be able to con its way into the White House, this terrible, incompetent old grifter, made-for-TV businessman and superannuated, barely literate playboy whose ignorance of geopolitics and history lead him to believe that democracy is just a loser’s word for totalitarian dictatorship, this “kakistocrat” remains perhaps more firmly in office, with higher approval ratings, than before.

As Trump daily demonstrates, the rule of law in America has ended; the rule of “lie” is firmly established. The only version of reality permitted is the one he and his officials choose to invent and endorse to cement their powerbase. The man is a gangster, pure and simple; bidding for leadership of a cabal of international gangster-capitalists clamped like an octopus over the face of humanity.

 

We smell a rat

Trump has been doubling down, as he always does when criticized for wild statements he makes, on his remarks about Elijah Cummings, chair of the Oversight Commitee, that is looking into his murky tax affairs. The congressman represents a ward in Baltimore that Trump has asserted is a disgusting, rat-infested, crime-ridden shithole.

The assiduous reporters at the Washington Post have pointed out, over 900 rental properties in that area of Baltimore are owned by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner’s company, that has been cited for over 200 code violations in respect of city housing ordinances.

They refer to an investigation by the New York Times and Pro Publica published in 2012, when tenants of Kushner properties reported mouse infestations, mold problems and maggots. A private investigator who looked into Kushner’s property management company, Westminster Management, described the managers as ‘slumlords.’

 

The grass is bluer

Former Republican congressman, now host of the MSNBC “Morning Joe” program, and man-who-has-seen-the-light, Joe Scarborough has taken to calling the leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, not without a trace of contempt, “Moscow Mitch”.

It marks a change of name for the profoundly venal and obstructionist Senator from Kentucky, McConnell, who has hitherto been known – and has branded himself for promotional purposes, because he thinks it’s funny – as “Cocaine Mitch”.

The nickname derives from some past allegations of skulduggery involving his wife’s Chinese family, apparently. The pair of them – Elaine Chao is a Trump appointee, Secretary for Transportation – are also deeply mired in a corruption-to-influence-peddling scandal; not that you’d remember that, what with the other shit flying around, an’ all.

Whatever he’s on, McConnell is refusing to stop calling “a hoax” (zero points for originality), the reports of his own Intelligence Committee gleaned from the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA and the FBI, that there’s continuing Russian online interference in the 2020 election; and is adamant that he won’t even allow a debate on cyber-security measures the Democrats in the lower House have passed to the Senate for ratification.

The question everyone is obviously asking is, whyever not? Why would he not defend his country against a hostile adversary? It can’t be merely because he has made a career out of stymieing every legitimate attempt by the Democrats to introduce legislation in the Senate, or to get their judicial nominees ratified, since Obama first became president?

It’s being suggested he may not want to upset Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch mate of Putin’s known as Russia’s “Aluminum King” (allegedly murdering his way to the throne), who is offering to open a scenic smelting plant amid the rolling hills of Mitch’s bluegrass constituency.

McConnell’s Senate lifted Deripaska’s sanctions last December, despite testimony in the Manafort trials that the Russian used financial kompromat to push Manafort into a relationship with a Russian agent, Kalimnick, and the pair of them went fishing for voter data to send back to the GRU.

But the media is leaning more toward the theory that it’s because McConnell has read the polls and sees that Trump can’t win without foreign help. The kind of help he has publicly said he would welcome.

I love the deep scent of corruption among the julep trees, whatever, don’t you? Especially when it comes laced with a dangerous hint of treason:

“Collusion”, by Parfums de Trump. For a greater you!

 

GW: And I’m aflame with such a burning desire

Europe: Firefighters are battling wildfires on multiple fronts in southern Italy, including one blaze in Puglia that left at least one person dead. 3 Canadair aircraft were dumping water on a wildfire raging in Tortoli, Sardinia, that forced the evacuation of a beach and some homes. (NYT) The weather outlook in the wake of last week’s powerful heatwave across the northern Mediterranean, southern France, northern Italy and the Adriatic, pushing northwards through the Balkans, is for more severe ‘supercell’ storms, with destructive high winds, potential for tornadoes, torrential (“excessive”) rain, spectacular lightning and large hail. (Severe-weather.eu)

And we have our very own Tropical Storm… an area of exceptionally low cyclonic pressure off the Bay of Biscay is likely to bring damaging winds and torrential rain to northwestern France and southwest England, Tuesday 30 July. (Severe-weather.eu) The heat plume that brought new record temperatures to Britain (38.7C) and France last week, shattering the ones set in June, has resulted in a reading of 34C in Finland.

USA: An Idaho wildfire that burned 113,000 acres and forced the partial evacuation of the nation’s leading nuclear energy research lab, INL, has been partly contained, officials said (25 July). The fast-moving Sheep Fire was sparked by a lightning strike near Idaho Falls. Dry conditions and rising temperatures are creating a perfect environment for summer wildfires. The Vader Fire, Canyon Fire and Shady Fire are burning farther west in National Forest land. (CNN) New York was under a 95 degree Heat Index advisory, 30 July (Accuweather).

Arctic: Hundreds of fires are continuing to burn out of control in northern Canada, Greenland and Siberia, where nobody much is available to fight them. Some have extended over 300 thousand Ha. Along with the rest of the hemisphere, “The Arctic region recorded its hottest June ever (10C anomaly). Since the start of that month, more than 100 wildfires have burned in the Arctic circle. In Russia, 11 of 49 regions are experiencing wildfires. (Alberta has had over 400). The WMO has called the fires “unprecedented” (The Guardian, 26 July). Soot is falling on ice fields, darkening them and speeding melting. Smoke is detected all around the globe and air quality in northerly cities is becoming a health hazard.

On 25 July, CO2 across Siberia where many fires are burning was measured at 1,205 parts per million, and poisonous carbon monoxide at over 80 thousand parts per billion. (Arctic News) Over the whole ocean, sea ice has plummeted to its lowest ever measured volume. There is now no ancient sea ice left off the north coast of Greenland, where it has been raining for days.

Russia: Even the usually optimistic Siberian Times, that likes to attract tourism, is alarmed: “A series of natural disasters are hitting Siberia, with the latest a dire threat from severe flooding to Baikal – the oldest and deepest lake in the world, containing 20% of the planet’s unfrozen freshwater. The alert concerns flooding in Baikalsk – where evacuation has begun – and concerns that toxic mudflows can dump poisonous sludge from a former pulp and paper mill into the lake’s pristine waters. Pools of liquid sludge containing lignin pose a huge threat to life in Baikal with warnings of an ‘ecological catastrophe’. ‘We can only pray now,” said one campaigner pointing to a risk of a dam burst on the Solzana River where a bride (bridge, surely? ed.) had been swept away already.”

“Almost 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres, an area greater than the size of the state of Massachusetts) are now burning in Siberia and the Russian Far East.” Smoke has covered an area larger than the size of the EU.

India: 1,050 people were rescued by Naval units from a train stuck for 15 hours in floods outside  Mumbai, 26 July. Flights were cancelled at the airport. The death toll from this year’s monsoon flooding in India is over 600. (BBC) Other parts of the country such as Tamil Nadu are trapped in drought.

Brazil: 3 people are confirmed dead and others missing in floods and landslides that have hit Pernambuco province. The government of Recife municipality said 102mm of rain fell in 6 hours early on 24 July. It’s the second “excessive” rainfall event in Pernambuco in 6 weeks: 7 people died there in June.

No denying it: a Swiss meta-analysis sampled from 700 data points of 20th-century research on cyclical warming and cooling has blown out of the water the energy-industry sponsored suggestion that current warming is merely normal cyclicality and things will cool down again in due course. Not only is the current state of warming twice as high as anything found over 2,000 years of past data (please, media, choose words more carefully – it wasn’t warmer 2,000 years ago, that’s just the chosen baseline!), but the so-called Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period supposed to prove warming is cyclical were far shallower, more intermittent, probably volcanic in origin and did not happen all at the same time across the whole globe.

CO2, they say, always was and is still the main driver of atmospheric forcing. 95% is man-made. Come on denier guys, give up, you know you’ve lost.

Tunnel approaching….

The Blessed Mary Greeley reports: 477 small earthquakes were recorded in 24 hours at Ridgecrest in Southern California yesterday (26 July) – scene of the big M7.1 quake three weeks ago. The city is located on a known faultline southwest of the Coso volcanic field, an area of hundreds of ancient volcanic cones thought to overlie a larger magma field than Yellowstone. The swarm is being read as an indication of pressure building and another big one is anticipated – even the “unzipping” of the famed San Andreas nearby.

Or not, as the case may be.

The following message posted on Mary’s site by “Rand Jooe” – I have previously alluded to the other Posts suggesting we all get to know Jesus – sums up the mood of nervous jitters:

“My sweet sweet Mary…. When I get ‘stressed’, I go get a x-LG jar of crunchy Jiff peanut butter, spoon & watch a little YouTube…. Chill. Now, we could infuse a bunch of x-crunchy peanut butter into the fault line, MAYBE, it might too CHILLOUT.
my2centsworth. 😜👍”

See what we might be losing?

Time to despair… Sorry mate, you’re talkin’ foreign. Ph what?… Sunk like a Stone… GW: underwater climate news (and overground too…)

Time to despair

We’re all aware, aren’t we, of the strenuous efforts made by oil and gas and coal extractors over the decades to shut down and twist debate on their own research findings that burning their products on a vast scale is causing the planet to overheat dangerously, by promoting false narratives and sponsoring willing deniers.

A new polemic from George Monbiot writing in The Guardian today, for instance, reveals that while many environmentalists are cosying up with apparent gratitude to the Shell oil and gas company for diverting $300 million to reforestation and other climate-change mitigation schemes, they are at the same time spending $25 billion on exploring for and exploiting new oil and gas reserves that must, according to scientists, absolutely be left in the ground if we are to stand any chance of avoiding an extinction-level event this century.

When that event – more of a process – might happen is still unfortunately for the scientists a matter for some conjecture, as they are not in the chicken-entrails business. Some indeed fear it could be within the next decade if certain feedbacks already observed start to accelerate out of control.

So, I feel we really need to despair more, as it’s not only the fossil-fuel energy corporations that are still cynically denying the evidence of their own research in the name of shareholder greed and even ramping up their output, knowing perfectly well the murderous, ecocidal effect it’s having on our oceans and atmosphere.

Led by their example, despite international accords the governments of increasing numbers of oil-and-gas producing countries are following suit, so that there is now realistically zero possibility of achieving goals and targets set out in recent agreements, feeble though they have been.

A BBC series that concluded last week investigated the plastics industry, which depends on oil and gas for its feedstocks, and found that producers expect to double the global use of plastics in the next ten years; while at the same time doing little or nothing to mitigate the effects both of greenhouse gas emissions from its production and of pollution, both by plastics waste and by nanoplastics particles we (and by extension every other species on the planet) are eating, drinking and breathing all the time, whose health effects are as yet unknown.

While, BBC News today reports on the upcoming G20 summit in Japan that the climate emergency rates barely a mention.

“A draft of the closing communiqué mentions climate change as just one issue among many and omits to use the phrases ‘global warming’ and ‘decarbonisation’. Critics believe that Japan is trying hard to win favour with the US on trade issues by downplaying the scale of the climate question and possible solutions to it.”

Yes, that’s the same Japan that has endured anomalous heatwaves for the last few years, that have been killing their citizens by the hundred. And days of tumultuous rain last week that led to deaths and a million people having to be evacuated on Kyushu, for the second year running. The lives of ordinary Japanese are as nothing, compared with Premier Abe’s pathetic sucking-up to the corrupt*, degenerate old monster in the White House; and the exigencies of “trade”.

The same BBC report says, too, that countries such as Saudi Barbaria – how many of those lazy Arabs have in the past two centuries made any contribution from their artificially created “kingdom” to world peace, science, art, agriculture, music, philosophy? How many Nobel prizewinners have they produced? They live their worthless, gluttonous lives on free money from the ground and get indentured Pakistani labor to do all the work – are holdouts against even last year’s pretty anodyne warnings from the IPCC, refusing to endorse the conclusions of the report.

But neither can the supposedly Green EU agree on future emissions targets, in the face of atavistic opposition from the coal burning, rutted feudal demesnes in the east.

There is nothing really left to say.

No-one in their right mind seriously believes the crisis is not real. But as politics is showing across the world, magical thinking has taken over; a form of reckless, Devil-take-the-hindmost hysteria infects the ruling elites. I suppose we can take heart from another narrow electoral victory of the center-left, this time in Denmark, from the growing popular protests against government inaction on the issue, and from the progressive wing of the hopelessly divided Democrats in the USA.

But it’s really not enough, and it’s already way too late.

It’s a good thing too, if true, that the UK of all countries, where the crisis began 270-odd years ago, has reached the point where almost half of our annual energy production comes from renewables; while outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May has promised – not that she will be around to deliver – a commitment to a zero-carbon economy by 2050.

But as the CO2-equivalent atmospheric burden of heating gases passes 562 ppm, these small gains are massively offset by the insane rush of other, much larger nations to industrialize on a broken, 20th-century model that threatens the future of all life on earth. And nothing, it appears, not even the massive economic cost of climate breakdown already being felt (see below and numerous GW diaries passim), is going to stop them.

*the latest example of Trump’s corruption: his Environmental Protection Agency is expected shortly to be licensing a controversial mining project in Minnesota to a company owned by a billionaire Chilean businessman who just happens to be the landlord of the rented $4.5 million mansion where Jared Kushner, wife Ivanka Trump and their brood live when they are in Washington.

Ethics violations? Breaches of the emoluments clause – profiting from office? Conflicts of interest? Not a bit of it, we’re the Trump gang, he’s the president, we can do whatever the fuck we like, and no-one can stop us!

 

Sorry, mate, you’re talkin’ foreign. Ph what?

A leading UN organization, UNESCO has joined other international institutions in saying it will no longer support conferences in the UK because of the blatantly racist policy of the Home Office to deny temporary visas to so many visiting academics from black and asian backgrounds, that it makes organizing events an unacceptable financial risk.

At least, racism is the interpretation one has to put on the numbers of University-accredited and fully funded delegates, with families back at home, who are being told, with no appeal, and despite being able to show their invitations and name their sponsors – no, mate, you can’t come in here because we believe you intend not to return home and you don’t have the resources to support yourself.

The quasi-fascist policy has led to some truly horrendous gaffes, such as the conference on International Development sponsored by members of the UK Parliament having to be cancelled because so many overseas delegates were refused visas.

Clearly, only the natives should be discussing International Development. It’s our money, after all. And we know what’s best for you.

Is it a deliberate act of self-sabotage, I wonder? Because if it weren’t so serious it would be a huge joke, wouldn’t it? Assuming that BEM visitors can’t possibly be academics on their way to a conference, I mean. Because of their color. Or perhaps it’s just the uneducated stupidity of Border officials failing to understand the meaning and purpose of an academic conference or exchange visit, and the paperwork involved.

But it looks more and more to me like Little Britain pulling up the drawbridge.

The no-visas approach has been adopted by a Home Office that is clearly out of control: dysfunctional, authoritarian, administratively incompetent, racially biased and certainly not fit for purpose. Its spokesmouth responded predictably to complaints from serious quarters about the no-visas policy by saying, in its inimitable, tongue-in-cheek, “Yes, Minister” style: “We welcome international academics and recognise their contribution to the UK’s world-leading education sector.”

Clearly, no, they don’t. Because they’re not part of it. So they’re destroying it.

Alison Phipps, UNESCO lead on refugee integration, was quoted as saying:

“It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money and given the irresponsibility and erratic nature of UKVI decision-making, it’s the number one item on my risk register and we cannot, with any integrity, allow that kind of finance risk to the projects.”

Phipps, reports The Guardian, is particularly frustrated by the refusal of the Home Office to issue visitor visas to academics taking part in the government’s own Global Challenges Research Fund – a five-year, £1.5bn fund that uses UK aid money for research on intractable global challenges.

“The fund’s purpose is to hire and pay overseas academics to work with the UK on a range of government-funded projects,” said Phipps. “But even though we’re using the government’s money for exactly the purpose we’ve been given it, academics we sponsor are being turned down with no appeal rights.”

The Home Office has obviously gone rogue when its nationalistic, isolationist, Kafkaesque policies are working against the government’s own intentions. But the government itself is in total disarray and cannot be expected to sort out problems like this one. The Secretary of State has been far too busy with his failed bid to be selected to lead the party, to actually do his job. The actual Prime Minister is a ghost, haunting No. 10 until that fatuous Old Etonian nincompoop moves in with his soon-to-be ex-bit of totty.

(That’s a doomed relationship if ever I saw one – and I’ve had a few. Party girl meets midlife crisis? Forget it!)

It is as if Sajid Javid, first-generation-born son of immigrants from Pakistan, son of a bus driver, is so ashamed of his lowly origins, so hates who he is, that he has been instructing his Home Office officials to go in hard on anyone black or brown since, obviously, they can’t be bona fide academics, living as they do in mud huts and up trees. Just more illegal immigrants, takin’ the piss.

What are the fans going to think, when global football stars are being denied visas to play for their beloved clubs, I wonder? Musicians from other countries, including America, are already refusing to tour in Britain because of difficulty with visas. And still nothing has been set in stone, as regards EU citizens’ residency rights post-Brexit. People are still being wrongly interned or deported, or denied access to employment, housing rentals and health services they’ve been entitled to for decades.

It’s bad enough that the number one worry of UK universities is that Brexit will virtually end exchanges with European researchers and turn off the lucrative tap of foreign students, especially from China and the Indian subcontinent, already turning to the USA and Australia for their degrees rather than suffer at the hands, both of the Home Office and of our home-grown racist street-thugs. It’s getting harder to tell the difference.

But it’ll be great, won’t it, when the whole of white Britain can finally dumb itself down to the level of the daytime TV morons who voted for this omnishambles and who still refuse to understand what it is they’ve done because, well, “there’s more of us than you so we won’t be told”.

Great, when the feckless oaf, Boris Johnson, the domestic abuser and prime narcissist, a man who treats women like internet trolls use Kleenex – who apparently declines to practise safe sex or self-control – and who couldn’t even manage the job of Foreign Secretary without constantly putting his size-12s in it, becomes Prime Minister next month, and the role model for every gormless prat in the country.

I’m 70 this year, I don’t have many years left on the rockpile. Why, dear God, do I have to spend them trapped in a rotting prison hulk moored in mid-Atlantic with this bunch of useless bastards carousing on the bridge?

 

“All our Buddha’s are made by us using the best materials available.”

Tell me, what is wrong with this commercial announcement? (Yes, I’m looking for a large stone Buddha head for my little garden. I’ve actually found one, my local garden centre sells quite nice ones, only the staff are not allowed to lift them, for reasons of Health & Safety, one gathers, which might explain why they don’t appear to have sold any.)

There, their dear: some pointers for trolls

I’m rapidly going bald, reading too many readers’ comments beneath articles written by journalists who, if not always right about things, and lacking the professional eye of a subeditor, that extinct species, so that mistakes often of omission of entire words are becoming increasingly common, are nevertheless qualified to set down coherent thoughts in writing.

But you seldom find a misplaced apostrophe in the Washington Post, or the New York Times.

For fuck’s sake, morons, what makes you think your crapulous opinions can possibly carry any weight if you can’t even put an apostrophe in the right place? I’m tearing my goddam hair out. It just goes on getting worse.

It’s its! ITS!! That’s if the subject belongs or attaches to something neutral, an object, a statement, it’s its! If you wish to abbreviate “it is”, which is good practice in writing, then it’s it’s. Got it? If you wish to abbreviate can not, it’s can’t. Will not = won’t. Should not = shouldn’t. And if you’re trying to say something belongs to it, then it’s its.

Christ on a BMX, it’s not that difficult, surely?

(A longer version of this article will appear somewhere, maybe next week.)

 

Donald Trump’s bill to the US taxpayer for his 3-day weekend golfing trips has now topped $106.9 million since he took office in January 2017. Twenty-one per cent of his time as president – 186 days – has been spent on the golf course. (Farron Cousins/TYT). Mr Trump has claimed he works harder than any president in history.

 

Sunk like a Stone

Collectors of gems should hie themselves to an obituary in The Guardian, 25 June, of the historian Norman Stone, who has – probably mercifully, by the account – died at the age of 78.

It does seem something of a miracle he lasted so long.

It’s not done to speak ill of the dead; except that nowadays it is, and all the more fun for that. Although I’m not sure what Stone’s three sons will make of Prof. Richard Evans’ cooler than cool appraisal of their wayward dad.

I wonder actually what my own kids might make of my record? Not being in the slightest bit famous – or notorious – I guess I’ll just have to self-obituarize. I can be quite excoriating about myself, if it helps. I’m only intermittently a nice, kindly bloke with an optimistic outlook and a good word to say about anyone. I try to be unpleasant and kind on alternate days; balance being all, to a Libra. But – this bogl apart – I’m not the most communicative person you’ll never reach on the phone.

Though a minor celebrity Stone, Evans reckons, was a fairly lousy, lazy historian who got by mostly on one good book, a ton of literary flair and flashes of personal charm. I can relate to that, I relentlessly sent up the A-level exam questions as I’d done no revision, let alone prior work, yet managed somehow to get an A in History, presumably A for Amusement. Marking is such a chore. My teachers were not amused, however and it took the precocious gift of a bottle of whisky to placate my form master, who had written me off entirely.

Glasgow-born Stone, fee-paying-educated on an airforce scholarship granted after the death of his father in a training accident, also Norman, managed to get into Cambridge. London-born me didn’t, so there we part ways. And from there, like the Duke of Wellington, when he was up, he was up… you know the rest.

Evans – regius professor of history at the University of Cambridge, president of Wolfson College, Cambridge and Fellow of the British Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences – starts as he means to go on:

“One of the specialities of the historian Norman Stone, who has died aged 78, was character assassination.”

And goes on brilliantly to assassinate Stone in almost every paragraph; although if the accounts are true, Stone didn’t need much assassinating; at least, not in the literary sense. His morose drinking habit was enough to kill most people off, but apparently not whatever he had come to detest in himself.

“At a time when malice and rudeness were highly prized by some rightwing Cambridge dons, Stone outdid them all in the abuse he hurled at anyone he disapproved of…”

One wonders, though, how seriously he took his habit of using his modest academic platform to hurl invective at real politicians? His blasting of Ted Heath as “a flabby-faced coward” was, incidentally, plagiarism: Private Eye magazine had been successfully sued some years earlier for using the same flame-thrower on Tory Chancellor, Reginald Maudling.

Evans lovingly details how, following the publication of his well-received (if, in Evans’ opinion, somewhat Edwardian) magnum opus on “The Eastern Front, 1914-17”, Stone then subsided into a career marked by the publication of a succession of poorly researched potboilers. Having been an editor of history books, I am aware of the notion that infects publishers’ marketing departments that the mere mention of the name Hitler in a title will increase sales by 15 per cent. Needs must.

Posted by a relieved Cambridge establishment over to Oxford where, with the help of a doubtless polished reference from Sir Geoffrey Elton, he became Professor of Modern History, it seems Stone hardly ever turned up to work, frequently expressing his total contempt for his colleagues, all of whom he dismissed as “Marxists”.

“As a teacher Stone could be inspiring, often winning over his pupils with his charm, which on occasion could be quite considerable, but he became increasingly undisciplined, neglecting his duties, and spending increasing amounts of time playing poker and drinking himself into oblivion in Soho. … On the occasions when he did appear in Oxford to do some teaching, Stone became notorious for groping his female students … and annoyed Worcester College by sub-letting his rooms to make a bit of extra money. “

You kind of warm to him.

Eventually sacked, his considerable language skills came to his rescue, and having briefly been an advisor to Margaret Thatcher, who ignored his perfectly sensible view of the reunification of Germany – she saw it as a threat – but also generously ignored the occasion on which, pissed, he passed out in her presence, his career gently declined with a succession of middle-European academic postings, supported by increasingly rightwing views – he was a fan of the embryonic dictator, Viktor Orban.

There’s a little resonance there too. My father had been a “Soho rat” in the war years and after: an actor, director, globetrotting TV reporter and documentarist who self-exiled ino France for the last 30 years of his life, where he posed as an intellectual admirer of the rank, anti-semitic ultranationalist, Jean-Marie le Pen; whom he found personally charming. I don’t think it meant anything, quite honestly, it was mostly for show: he had run unsuccessfully as Liberal candidate for Twickenham in 1964, inspired after interviewing Jo Grimond.

Evans’ obituary of Stone ends on an unnecessary note of rancour, quoting a Trumpian rejoinder from Heath:

“Many parents of Oxford students must be both horrified and disgusted that the higher education of our children should rest in the hands of such a man.”

Must they, Sir Edward? It must be a comfort, knowing what people nowadays think of your Prime Ministership. And now you two lovebirds can discuss it together.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/25/norman-stone-obituary

 

GW: underwater climate news (and overground too…)

France: Dozens of people have been evacuated in northern France after thunderstorms and torrential rain caused flooding and mudslides on 24 June. A month’s worth of rain fell in 6 hours. Severe flooding and mudslides were reported in Lisieux, where streets were under 1.5 metres of water. Cars were swept away, schools and roads closed. The Le Cirieux river broke its banks, flooding the village of Malicorne. Local fire crews responded to over 150 incidents. The train line between Paris and Caen was closed by a mudslide. (From Floodlist)

Meanwhile, as heat starts to build from the so-called Spanish Plume (actually it’s coming up from North Africa), Météo-France is predicting peaks of 45C (113F) in the southern towns of Nîmes and Carpentras by Friday. That would be almost 4C hotter than the notorious 2003 heatwave, that killed 70,000 people across Europe. And that was in August, not June.

Wunderground adds: “Wildfire danger is predicted to steadily increase during the week, reaching the “Extreme” level by the weekend over portions of France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Poland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. The European Union is already well above recent norms for hectares burned & number of fires ignited in 2019.”

While, the WHO warns: “Heatwaves occurring early in the summer have been shown to be associated with greater impacts on mortality in the same population than later heatwaves of comparable or higher temperatures.” Something to do with adjustment. And watch out for Saharan dust, warns Severe-weather.eu, there’ll be a lot of it blowing about.

UK: Hours of heavy rain on 24 June caused flash flooding in Scotland’s capital Edinburgh and other parts of the country. Firefighters worked throughout East and Central Scotland to protect communities and property as torrential rain caused widespread localised flooding. In Edinburgh, tram services were temporarily suspended after flood water covered tracks. According to the Met Office, Edinburgh saw 44.4mm of rain in 24 hours. 14 people were rescued from a flooded building in Stirling. (From Floodlist)

Balkans: Croatia and Serbia were both hit on 23 June by extensive flooding. Rivers broke their banks. In Croatia houses were flooded, roads were blocked and crops and farmland damaged. Fire crews carried out over 60 interventions, pumping water or clearing flood debris. While areas of the Serbian capital, Belgrade, saw over 100mm of rain fall in less than 2 hours, the equivalent of more than a month’s worth of rain. Images on Social media showed swamped roads and stranded cars along streets of the capital. (From Floodlist)

Poland: “The interior ministry said 90 people have drowned so far this month trying to cool off in lakes or rivers, and in Lithuania 27 people were reported to have died in similar circumstances as temperatures in the Baltic state soared above 35C. In Germany (38.5C) officials imposed a 120km/h speed limit on stretches of the Saxony-Anhalt autobahn as the road surface began to deteriorate, while rail tracks buckled near Rostock on the Baltic Sea. With temperatures in Italy forecast to hit 40C, charities were preparing to distribute 10,000 bottles of free water, while 33 of Spain’s 50 provinces will be facing record-breaking temperatures, which could reach 44C by the weekend. (Guardian)

Columbia: 2 people have been killed and several are injured or missing after deadly landslides cut the highway between Florencia and Nueva, in Huila province Sunday. Again, heavy rainfall is to blame; orange alerts are out for rising river levels. (Floodlist)

Ecuador: “Severe flooding and landslides have affected central areas of the country since 20 June. At least one person has died, 1 is missing, 1 injured and 145 evacuated due to landslides and floods. Rivers broke their banks. The heavy rain also caused a landslide in Río Blanco which destroyed at least 4 houses. Three bridges were destroyed and several roads damaged. Several communities (have been) cut-off since 21 June. Local authorities have declared a state of emergency.

Australia: It’s not unheard of for nighttime temperatures to drop below freezing in the desert, and this winter has generally seen high pressure bringing cold nights to Alice Springs, where residents’ lawn sprinklers have produced pretty shows of icicles. However, my earlier point about subeditors being an extinct species is born out by this fascinating sentence in the report of “Ice cold in Alex” (my title. It was a movie!) on Sky news.au:

“In winter, this process is exacerbated by the sub bing far too the north and therefore less heat reaching the found.”

I think we can loosely translate that as “it’s colder where it’s not sunny”. Vital science information… My friend Harry has just seen his granddaughter off to her new life as a lawyer in Australia… Doesn’t look like she’ll have too much trouble getting on there.

Tunnel approaching…

Brace for impact: The Taurid Resonant Swarm is an occasional encounter the Earth has with a cluster of meteors in orbit around Jupiter that arrives every few years at the end of June along with the Taurid shower – a twice-yearly phenomenon that normally produces no more than a pretty display of shooting stars – not that we’ll see them here as the forecast this week is for cloud cover thick enough to reach 30 thousand feet, where the commercial jets fly.

Severe-weather.eu writes: “there are some seriously big space rocks in there. In 1975 seismographs on the Moon left by the Apollo mission astronauts, detected a flurry of seismic activity, most likely caused by large Taurid meteoroids impacting the Lunar surface. The last big encounter with the Taurid swarm was in 2015. In the last days of October and first two weeks of November, bright fireballs from the Taurid stream were noted across the world, many lighting up the sky brighter than the Moon!”

Typically, the Swarm produces rocks from 1 to 3m in diameter, but in 1908 one 50m across flattened a large part of Siberia and a few up to several hundreds of meters, big enough to have astronomical numbers and create an extinction event, are embedded within the swarm. As the bigger stuff is blackened with soot, astronomers may not see them approaching until it’s too late to send Bruce Willis up with a nuclear bomb. Happily, it’s only necessary to paint an asteroid white on one side to get it to change course.

Telling it like it is: “The world is increasingly at risk of “climate apartheid”, where the rich pay to escape heat and hunger caused by the escalating climate crisis while the rest of the world suffers, a report from a UN human rights expert has said. Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the impacts of global heating are likely to undermine not only basic rights to life, water, food, and housing for hundreds of millions of people, but also democracy and the rule of law.” (Guardian report)

Insectaggeddon: Perhaps due to the mild, wet winter there seems to be something of a minor revival in insect populations this year where I live, especially flies. I tried to keep a few alive during the winter, fearing the worst. I’m actually starting to find them quite annoying again.

I’m watching a tiny, golden wasp, less than half an inch long. It is burrowing into a hole in the ground, through the dirt between the concrete flagstones of the patio. I notice there are several holes, with little mounds. Is it hunting ants, their eggs maybe, or is it a wasp that lives in holes in the ground?

I have no idea, so I look it up. It may be a Sphex wasp, of which there are 150 species. Who knew? They are harmless and prey on aphids, of which we have a glut again this year, infesting an annoying Elderflower tree growing through my amazing privet hedge. I would cut it down, but now I know the tiny wasps eat blackfly, I’ll leave them to their lunch.

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 85: Does anyone still imagine the American republic is a democracy?… Does anyone still imagine the United Kingdom is a democracy?… Gay abandoned…GW: all a bit topsy-turvey if you ask me

Ed Note: Things may slow down on the old BogPo express over the next two weeks as I shall be busy earning my annual train fare to France. I’m continuing to edit and add to this issue for now.

UB

“Who’d have thought going on the Jeremy Kyle Show would lead to this?” (Photo: Michael McGurk, Brirish Press Awards. With apologies!)

According to New York city officials, the president’s eight largest New York properties pump out around 27,000 tons of planet-warming gases every year, the equivalent of 5,800 cars. If no remedial measures are taken, by 2030 Trump’s kids will be paying over $2 million a year in fines. (from Guardian)

The old fraud won’t be around, of course. And good riddance, he should be buried at Fresh Kills (the city rubbish dump.) His vicious policy of confiscating people’s children at the Mexican border and farming them out to abusers having largely failed, the latest wheeze being quietly implemented by the Department for Housing is to separate migrant families living in subsidized housing.

“HUD acknowledged the Trump administration could displace more than 55,000 children if plans to evict undocumented immigrants from public housing is (sic) successful.” (Guardian)

The rule to date has been that at least one member of a household in which migrants are living must be properly documented. The new rule, which the media is attributing to Trump’s dead-eyed college vampire, Stephen Miller,  is that if even one undocumented migrant is living in subsidized housing, the entire household – usually a family – has to get out. (Undocumented does not always mean illegal, by the way. Applications and appeals could be pending.) That includes children….

Trump spent the minimum amount of time he could with his various families, rarely if ever interacting with his four (known) children. He clearly hates families – his own parents were aloof and hypercritical – and has no family values to speak of. He is a genuine sociopath without empathy or understanding. What a fascinating character!

Psychology students will be crafting their PhD theses on this piece of shit for a long time to come.

 

Does anyone still imagine the American republic is a democracy?

Last week, claiming “security concerns”, the White House revoked the access credentials of more than 50 press correspondents, including all six of the passes issued to the deeply hated Washington Post. There are to be no more of the old, anodyne, ritually structured encounters in the briefing room, where the fake-tanned, abusive President can tell the assembled media that they are “very rude” and “fake news” when they presume to ask him questions.

“Exceptions” are being individually approved now by the chief spokesbitch, sweaty Sarah (“Ah’m a Christian!”) Huckabee Sanders, but only, it seems, in the case of correspondents with no history of criticizing the President. Sit-down classroom-style briefings have been abandoned in favor of informal “gaggles” to be held outside on the driveway, and only then to pre-registered attenders. (See various reports collated on the Mike Malloy channel) When it rains, expect no news.

There is henceforth to be no independent in-house press oversight or hostile questioning of the President, ending a decades-old and perhaps too cosy relationship between the White House and its tame Press Corps. It’s a situation Trump has also tried to impose on the Congress, invoking a bogus “executive privilege” to bar anyone connected with his administration from giving testimony to any of the five congressional committees investigating his egregious conduct, and refusing to accept legally enforceable subpoenas.

The United States has effectively been taken over by a criminal gang locked in tight formation around a pretend mafia-boss who knows he has been outed as a felonious obstructor of justice and abuser of office by the Mueller investigation; knows too, that he faces at least 16 further criminal investigations for fraud and money-laundering in the Southern District of New York, and who is determined to distort and suppress the truth by any means.

Back in the blood-caked hands of the Project for the American 21st Century, the regime is hurriedly manufacturing a case to begin bombing another invented enemy, Iran. Having dispatched a carrier group and B-52s to the Arabian Gulf, “Security” adviser John Bolton has followed it up with a specialist cruise-missile launcher, and has called for 120 thousand troops to be put on readiness. The Washington Post acknowledges that Trump is not so interested in invading Iran, but has given Bolton his head. This cowardly mad old backseat neocon fucker needs to be institutionalized, and quickly.

Writing in The New Yorker, however, Susan Glasser speculates that Trump is rapidly tiring of Bolton’s tub-thumping – especially as Candidate Trump promised on the campaign trail no more American adventures, and he likes to keep his promises – mad and reckless as many were: “Amazingly enough, we are now at a moment in the Trump Presidency when the capricious President himself is being touted as the possible constraint on hawkish advisers like Bolton.” The danger is not past, however: “I wouldn’t discount the chance that a series of mistakes could lead to a conflict that Trump himself doesn’t want.”

Two sabotage “attacks” on Saudi oil tankers and the apparent rocketing from drones of Saudi pipelines are already being blamed on Iran. None did the “significant damage” being claimed, which seems significant in itself. Iran has condemned them. And who, given the tinder-dry political situation and Bolton’s long-held determination to kick-off a war, is more likely to have carried them out, the Quds force of the Revolutionary Guard or US/Saudi black ops forces?

Meantime, we are learning of a “secret” financial connection between Qatar and Trump’s plastic son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Actually we’ve known about it for months, but strong suspicion is not knowing. What we saw was that soon after Trump’s 2017 visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia persuaded the UAE to join in an economic blockade of Qatar that ended happily just days after a Canadian asset-management company agreed to take a 99-year lease on 666, 5th Avenue – a disastrous loss-making 2007 development for Kushner Companies – “paying a near-century’s worth of rent upfront”. (Vanity Fair)

Brookfield Asset Management is a well-funded arm of the Qatari sovereign wealth fund’s investment division, and although the fund is claiming to be bewildered and unhappy that such a deal should have been brokered, if it ever was, the money arrived fortuitously just in time to forestall what might have turned into a massive $billion debt default against Kushner Companies and their gargantuan New York white elephant.

(http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/02/qatar-666-5th-ave-jared-kushner)

And it was apparently Jared’s criminal father, Charlie Kushner, who was behind the deal; favorite son Jared being too witless and inexperienced, basically, to be the real brains behind Kushner Companies, while time-served fraudster and witness-intimidator Charlie is barred technically from running the business.

So we can see that the Trump regime is not above getting down and dirty to suborn US foreign policy for the benefit of the President’s criminal associates. We know the regime owes bin-Salman one for that. And that Saudi Arabia and Israel would both like the US to lead on regime-change in Iran. An Iraq-style invasion however seems unlikely before November as summer temperatures in the region are regularly starting to exceed 50 deg. C, making fighting on the ground pretty nearly impossible.

Unless they want to see their capital cities going up in smoke, beleaguered and deeply unpopular centrist European politicians like May and Macron must not be tempted to rush to join Trump and his satraps Bolton and Pompeo in some unholy war against what he calls “the ayatollahs” of Tehran – no filthier or more murderous and corrupt a theocracy than that of Riyadh or Tel Aviv; Moscow, Manila or indeed, Washington.

The lessons of Iraq must be learned.

There must be no collusion with this profoundly corrupt President and his narcissistic, dictatorial ambitions.

But I fear there will be.

 

The Pumpkin confesses:

In the middle of “Years and Years”, former Dr Who-tsar Russell Davies’ latest near-term futuristic family-saga drama on TV, a newsflash pops up, proclaiming “Trump wins second term in office”.

Instantly, I burst into floods of tears, beating my head on the keyboard, loudly moaning “no, please, no!”.

I blame the wine.

The misery is compounded (spoiler alert) when, in the final days of his second term, Trump nukes an island in the South China Sea. Okay, there are episodes to follow, so it might not escalate too badly.

But I’m not sure I might not have to spend more of these lighter evenings out, doing something. Anything.

 

Tickety-boo

“Clarance Jones of Lynn, Massachusetts, the nation’s most frequent winner, claimed more than 7,300 tickets worth $600 or more in only six years. Jones would have had to spend at least $300 million to have a 1-in-10 million chance of winning so often, according to a statistician at the University of California, Berkeley.”

The Columbia Journalism Review bombarded several co-operative states with FOI requests to obtain data on unusually frequent lottery winners and concluded that many claimants were acting as proxies for the real ticket-holders , who didn’t want their creditors or the tax authorities finding out.

It’s a living, I suppose.

 

Does anyone still imagine the United Kingdom is a democracy?

Threatened by a feeble suggestion that accusing a certain Mr Richard Cook of breaches of electoral law in channelling money to Be.Leave and other dodgy pro-Brexit causes in advance of the referendum is “basically defamatory” (whatever status “basically” has in law!), having already rapped the main Vote.Leave campaign on the wrist for overspending its allowed budget, the supine and toothless watchdog, the Electoral Commission, is refusing to investigate further evidence of fraud, saying it wouldn’t be in the public interest.

Just what the hell is in the public interest, if Brexit was bought with illegal donations from unregistered and possibly foreign parties? Well, astonishingly, the Electoral Commission is not sure if buying votes with the illegal proceeds of crime is actually unlawful.

So much for democracy.

Anyone who like your Uncle Bogler delights in poking a stick at the dimmer elements of the Commentariat on, for instance, The Guardian‘s website, will be familiar with the cry that invariably goes up from despondent and truculent majoritarian Leave voters when you ask what on earth they thought they were voting for: “You Remainers don’t respect democracy!”

Well, no, we don’t respect criminals who steal our democracy, as they clearly did, with or without the knowing participation of certain ambitious politicians who have nothing whatever to offer the British voter, other than the prospect of imposing on us their corrupt brand of unenlightened self-interest for years to come.

At the heart of the conspiracy is the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland – the bunch of ten knuckle-dragging Protestant gargoyles on whom Theresa May thought she could rely for extra votes in the Commons in return for a billion-pound bribe from the British taxpayer, and then found to her cost that she couldn’t.

(We should perhaps remember that the bulk of the DUP’s possibly illegal campaign contribution was spent on advertising in Northern Ireland and in London, both areas that voted solidly Remain; and for unspecified services on a Canadian data analytics company, Aggregate QI, linked with Cambridge Analytica and the Mercers, father and daughter – the secretive billionaires who bankrolled Trump’s election victory and put Steve Bannon into the White House. But as the DUP continues to refuse to reveal the source of the donation, we can only speculate.)

And Cook, who he? A reticent former Tory party candidate with unexpected sources of funding – a business partner at one time was the former Saudi chief of intelligence – who has, basically, allegedly dabbled in some rather sticky business – illegal waste dumping, money-laundering and illegal arms shipments being among the activities mentioned in certain press quarters. (See previous Posts)

According to Open Democracy:

“The bulk of the DUP’s massive Brexit donation was spent on a wraparound advert in the Metro newspaper just days before the European Union referendum. Spotlight (Antifa) journalists discovered that the advert, costing £282,000, had been booked directly by Richard Cook, not the DUP.”

The Electoral Commission, however, has argued that it cannot go further to expose the illegal “dark money” donation as they themselves can find “no evidence” that Cook booked the advertisement. (Asking Metro might produce some information?) And in the light of investigations by OpenDemocracy.org into a Madrid-based conduit for US “dark-money” donations to Vox and other far-right European parties, MPs have called on the Electoral Commission to look afresh at possible further breaches of electoral law by Vote Leave, so far without success.

The embarrassing inertia – call it incompetence rather than corruption – of our legal institutions threatens to undermine any further possibility that a historic wrong can be righted at the last minute. The government has no interest whatever in pursuing criminal investigations until it can declare that it has fulfilled the deeply suspect mandate given it by “the will of the People” to wreck the country and very probably break up the Union.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/en/dark-money-investigations/not-in-the-public-interest-why-the-electoral-commission-didnt-investigate-vote-leave-and-dup-donation/ Baed on reporting by Jenna Corderoy and Peter Geoghan.

 

Gay abandon

A few years ago now, Fox News was enlivened by exchanges between the fat, sweaty Trumpsucker and rack-rent landlord, Sean Hannity and our very own, the late-lamented Christopher Hitchens, last and bravest of the public intellectuals, who had dared to write rude things about the recently deceased “Reverend” Jerry Falwell, a hugely wealthy and hypocritical, corrupt Tele-vangelist currently roasting for Eternity down below.

Some speculation now surrounds his son, Jerry Falwell Jr (so up their own fundaments are these fundamentalists, that they insist on perpetuating their holy egos in the names of their offspring). It’s being whispered that the married minister of the bogus church had an affair with the household’s handsome young “pool attendant” (Blessed are the poor… etc.)

And that having taken him into their home, a well-chiselled 21-year-old they met at a hotel, the rabid homophobe Falwell “invested” $1.8 million in a “business venture” of this Adonis, Carlo Grande, which turns out to have been a gay party venue, or “flophouse” as it’s been described in the Washington Post.

Which takes us back to President Trump (it still sticks in the craw) and his former lieutenant, rough-edged “fixer” and part-time legal advisor, Michael Cohen, who started his three-year prison sentence last week for obeying Trump’s orders to “fix” some of the President’s own indiscretions using campaign funds, and then lying for him. (The President remains at liberty, of course.)

In a splurge of late confessions, Cohen has alleged that Falwell employed him in 2015, at Trump’s suggestion, to also “fix” a cache of exceedingly embarrassing photographs he wanted to make go away. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC reported on the Post story last week, that after bullying them out of the possession of the unnamed blackmailer, Cohen had managed to hang on to one particularly damning image as insurance.

Presumably it’s now in the hands of the FBI.

Falwell, meanwhile, had popped up at several of Trump’s campaign rallies, literally comparing the Orange Tax-dodger and chief pussy-grabber to Holy Jesus and exhorting his evangelical dumbfucks on Biblical authority to vote for the new Messiah. Interviewed in the Post, he described Trump as “pretty much perfect”, acknowledging that he might have sinned from time to time (yes, whose was that by-blow Trump’s pal Elliot Broidy had aborted and paid $1.8 million to the Playboy model to stay stum?), but that it was his policies, not his character that really recommended him to Christian voters.

Odd, says the Americans United website, since his father had once described his ideal occupant of the White House as someone who would say: “As long as I am President, I shall lead this country in the ways of Christ as set forth in this book, God’s Holy Word. I would vote for the president who would take a bold, uncompromising stand against sin – SIN – and tell us what he believes it is.”

The question must obviously be, why would F. Jr turn so suddenly and completely against the idiotic precepts of his insanely corrupt and uber-wealthy dad, F. Sr, buoyed up by the contributions of his poorest parishioners in hopes of admission to Heaven, in order to announce the Second Coming of Christ in the bloated and unlikely shape of the decidedly un-christian and unethical serial adulterer and swindler, Trump?

And when can we expect a suitably painful Crucifixion?

We should be told.

 

One law for the poor

US actress Felicity Huffman has pleaded guilty to fraudulently conspiring to win a college place for her daughter. Prosecutors have recommended a four-month prison term and a $20,000 fine. Huffman, 56, was among 50 charged in the college admissions scandal. (BBC News)

According to a recent biography by US-naturalized Brit journalist Katy Ward, “Kushner Inc.”, Charlie Kushner made a $2.5 million donation to Harvard shortly before his educationally substandard plastic-toy-boy favorite younger son, Jared, was admitted over a number of more promising but less wealthy students.

Are these cheating, rack-renting bastards going to jail for it?

Doesn’t look like it. Jared is the President’s son-in-law. Although he’s no longer quite such a trusted White House advisor, in fact Orange Dad has been hoping to find a way to get rid of him. This pay-for-places scandal would seem to be a good opportunity?

Questions, however, would have to be asked about how Trump even got into primary school.

 

GW: all a bit topsy-turvey if you ask me

Russia: A corridor of exceptionally warm airmass is reaching far into NW Russia, with daytime highs at the Arctic circle pushing up to 30-31 °C! “This is exceptionally warm weather for the region, about 25-30 Deg. C above average” for mid-May. (Severe-weather.eu). The temperature in one of Russia’s most northerly ports, Arkhangelsk, 1100km north of Moscow, hit 84.4F, 29.1C on 12 May.

45 forest fires have been raging around the city of Irkutsk, near Lake Baikal. There are reports of the sky turning black and residents getting sick from bad air quality. (Siberian Times) Moscow News 25 April reported 1 dead, 8 injured – and a cost to date of US$15m.

USA: Large parts of Texas, Kansas and Mississippi are underwater, with emergencies declared. “Parts of the state have been badly affected by storms since the start of the month. Houston, Tx. saw around 10 in. (254 mm) of rain in 24 hours to early 08 May, 2019. 1 person died in flash flooding in Austin. A slow-moving storm dumped heavy rain in parts of Mississippi on 09 May. Some areas recorded up to 8 in. (203.2mm) of rain in 24 hours. The city of Jackson experienced severe flooding. (Floodlist)

Leading Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden reportedly still has not formulated a policy on climate change and is sitting on the fence when it comes to reducing carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel. Of the 22 runners, only 2 have dared to declare a course of action. (Guardian)

It’s been the wettest year-long period in U.S. records going back to 1895, according to the NOAA . Averaged across the contiguous U.S., the total of 36.2-in. made the period from May 2018 to April 2019 the first year-long span ever to top 36-in. (3 ft). (Weather Channel)

Adding to the above, it’s 18 May and Mammoth Lakes, California has just had 10 inches of SNOW! The popular ski-resort area has had a total of 470 inches of snow this winter. Elsewhere in the northern part of the state they’ve had record rainfall.

Australia: Intensifying to Cat 2 in the South Coral Sea, out-of-season Tropical Cyclone Ann is forecast crossing the northern tip of Queensland near Cairns before heading across the Gulf of Carpentaria in the next few days. (News AU)

India: At least 300 yaks have starved to death in Sikkim province near India’s border with China after getting trapped by heavy snowfall. The yaks had been trapped since December. Authorities had tried to drop food to the animals but were pushed back by poor weather. (BBC Weather)

Europe: As exceptionally cold weather has continued to affect eastern central Europe, Spain and Portugal have been experiencing a spring heatwave, with temperatures up in the mid-30s C, mid-90s F: 10C to 14C above the mid-May average. Northern Italy has had more severe thunderstorms and a powerful Bora wind is blasting the Balkans, where there’s a warning of flooding as 300 mm of rain is expected during the coming days.

Weekend outlook, 18/19 May: “Temperatures in parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland will reach above 20s, with daytime highs reaching into mid-20s locally. That is quite exceptionally warm for now, up to about 15 °C higher than the long-term average!” (Severe-weather.eu)

The Fortunate Isles: It’s getting harder than ever for your old Gran to concentrate on some far-off global climate emergency when the weather here on the west coast of Great Britain is so bloody agreeable!

We have 19.5 degrees under sunny skies again today, and for the rest of this week, dry and getting warmer. The green spaces are in full leaf, the oaks looking especially fine, the ash – well, they say “oak before ash, we’re in for a splash… Ash before oak, we’re in for a soak”, so a dryish summer is projected in nature. Clouds of midges over the footpath, birds chirping merrily…. Just a slight note of concern, some trees are looking stressed, with strangely withered leaves; while we’ve just strolled through a wildflower meadow and disturbed no butterflies or any insects at all. Nor still are many bees around, despite the profusion of pollen sources getting up everyone’s noses.

We met almost none today, even amid the glorious blossoming of the May trees only one or two per show.