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.

 

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Deep breath… Donald and the magic money machine… GW: going down a bomb. New BogPo undergoing boglogenesis for Thursday

“We do not expect our species to exist forever. But it is unworthy of us – and of what, collectively, we know we can become – to die in the way we’re threatening to die: blindfolded, blustering, callow, lying to each other and ourselves.”

Environmental campaigner, the late Dorothy Dinnerstein, quoted on OpenDemocracy.org

 

Deep breath…

Daily average atmospheric CO2 as measured at Scripps Mauna Loa observatory at 9,000 ft altitude on 3 May was 415.09 ppm, approximately 10 ppm higher than the 405 ppm average at end-March last year.

That’s the highest count measurable from core samples, etc. in the past 800 thousand years and puts us on course for 10 deg. C, 18F of warming over AD 1750 levels. (from Arctic News, 6 May)

Wunderground carries and gives additional weight and exposure to an item that appeared on Arctic News a couple of months ago, regarding research at CalTech showing how one result of a 4C rise by 2100 could be the loss of marine stratocumulus clouds that reflect sunlight back into space.

“If humanity maintains its current business-as-usual emissions path for the next 100 years, the resulting 4°C (7°F) of warming may be enough to cause highly reflective stratocumulus clouds over the subtropical and tropical oceans to disintegrate, resulting in an additional 8°C (14°F) of warming, according to research published in February. The resultant “Hothouse Earth” climate, 12°C (22°F) warmer than pre-industrial levels, would be enough to melt all ice on the planet, raise sea levels by over 200 feet over a period of centuries, and produce heat waves too hot for humans to endure outdoors for over half of Earth’s population (as currently distributed.)

I love the optimism of scientists, don’t you? Because a) what if we hit not 4C, but 10C, on current trend, as forecast by “Sam Carana” above, possibly even in the next decade? Add 8C to that, and Venusians start to feel at home.

And b) long before it gets “too hot for humans” we will have suffered global socio-economic collapse, even assuming we can still produce food in underground farms and laboratories, requiring a huge energy supply; and, potentially, nuclear exchanges escalating from unsustainable conventional resource wars. While on the principle of co-extinction of species, with another million on the UN’s danger list humankind will be long gone before we drown.

Start saving now

A team of British, European and US researchers have been looking at the probable cost of various warming scenarios, based on the aim of the outdated Paris accord to keep warming “well below” 2C. Given the likelihood of non-linear warming caused by feedbacks such as Arctic “blue ocean” and consequent methane release, they estimate that if warming can be kept to 4C by the end of the century, the cost to the global economy by then will have been $2,197 TRILLION.

One tipping point frequently quoted is the loss of winter sea ice leaving the Arctic ice-free in summer, the darker water absorbing more heat. Thomas Krumpen of the Alfred Wegener Institute warns that an important current that helps to distribute new sea ice across the region in late autumn, known as the Drift, is becoming weaker and more erratic. It’s estimated too that 50 years ago, the Greenland ice sheet was losing 47 billion tonnes of ice annually. It’s now 290 billion tonnes. The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

Lloyds of London made a $1 billion loss in the last year on insured disasters, while Aon Insurance estimates March alone’s extreme weather events cost the world economy $8 billion. Of course, the majority of disaster zones in poorer countries experience far greater uninsured losses.

(All taken from an article in Floodlist crediting Climate News Network, citing various papers)

La la la la la…

According to a major international survey, 17% of Americans believe that “the idea of manmade global warming is a hoax that was invented to deceive people” (54 million people!) 13% thought the climate might be changing but humans are not responsible. (Guardian, 8 May)

America has the highest proportion of climate change deniers in the world: of those who describe themselves as conservatives, over 52% said they believe in the hoax theory.

Coincidentally, it also has the largest per capita carbon footprint. (Followed closely in both categories by its friend, the oil nation of Saudi Barbaria.)

Of course, for it to be a hoax would improbably require the covert participation of thousands of trained researchers with actual PhDs across dozens of countries and institutions, producing peer-reviewed papers over many decades, going back to the late C19th.

There would also have to be some point to it.

To believe it to be a hoax would require the brand of logic that says you can go on pissing in your bath water forever and it won’t overflow or turn yellow and smelly.

The kind that can’t manage to balance objectively the likely gain to the shareholders of the coal, oil and gas industries of continuing denial, against any conceivable gain to the broader scientific community from continuously lying to people.

For it to be thought of as a hoax requires only a large enough number of poorly educated, self-promoting, attention-seeking, contrarian twats with their heads up their arses, plus a few million dollars worth of propaganda from the Koch brothers and Exxon-Mobil.

Plus, of course, the word of the least intelligent, most ignorant – most unqualified – president in US history. A trustworthy source who has otherwise made up more than ten thousand well-attested lies in 27 months.

Sure, it’s a hoax.

 

Justice is blind

“Today Anna Sorokin will be sentenced in New York for masquerading as Anna Delvey, an extravagant socialite. Sorokin bankrolled an implausibly lavish lifestyle with tens of thousands of dollars she swindled from banks, hotels and friends who believed she was a wealthy German heiress.” (Guardian)

For over 30 years, a person has been going around New York masquerading as “Donald Trump”, a billionaire businessman and glamorous playboy. In that time he’s cost the US taxpayer half a billion dollars, stiffed his workers and suppliers, refused to pay bills, groped women, accepted money from gangsters, imported and employed undocumented labor. He bankrolled an implausibly lavish lifestyle with tens of millions of dollars he swindled from banks, threatening to sue them if they asked for their money back.

He’s not going to prison at all.

That is…

While the Democrats in the House of Representatives have been battling the Justice department in vain to get hold of the unredacted Mueller report, judge Amy Berman Jackson, hearing the case against Trump crony Roger Stone, has issued a court order requiring the DoJ to hand over redacted material relating to Stone’s prosecution.

Lawyers have agreed, they cannot refuse. The material is due on Monday. Other judges are now making similar orders and may soon join the ranks of the few people in the USA who have been allowed to view all the material Trump’s tame Attorney General Bill Barr has blanked out and is refusing to let legislators see.

While, in case anyone is still clinging hopefully to the last few shreds of possibility that Trump is not the most corrupt president in US history, Bloomberg is reporting that the Chief Counsel at the Internal Revenue Service, the man who is blocking lawful Congressional demands for the release of the President’s tax returns – those bits that have not already leaked – and whose appointment was railroaded through the Senate confirmation hearing on the personal order of the President, was formerly for a time a tax advisor to… The Trump Organization.

No conflict there, then.

 

Donald and the magic money machine

Look, I know you just want to get on with your life, but this is bugging me. Has been for three years now.

What is he so scared will come out of his tax returns, that his dim Treasury Secretary, Grinning Steve “call me Stephen” Mnuchin is prepared to go to jail for, being as he is in contempt of Congress for refusing to allow a lawful request to the head of the IRS – himself a barely qualified Trump appointee – to release them?

Why is Trump fighting like a cat in a sack to prevent anyone knowing about his finances? It’s a perfectly accepted thing, every new president and senior government official, every candidate for high office has to ‘fess up, but he absolutely will not.

Just yesterday, the good ol’ New York Times financial people have reported, they’ve managed to get hold of a series of basic Internal Revenue Service documents, just the annual listings of their top and bottom wealthy taxpayers, just a headline thing with no details.

From which, it appears that for about 10 years in the 1980s and 90s one Donald John Trump, hugely successful and flamboyant billionaire businessman, paid a small amount of tax in only two of them.

In the other eight years, he managed to LOSE a total of $1.17 bn, thus avoiding tax on his business and personal revenue – which he basically believes are one and the same thing.

Now, we recall, don’t we, the pre-election TV debate with Clinton in which Trump accepted that he paid next to no tax, and that was because he was “smart” – billionaire presidential candidates shouldn’t have to contribute a penny to the nation, patriotism (as Edith Cavell once said) not being nearly profitable enough.

It transpired that his accountant had declared a deductible billion dollar write-down, that sheltered him from income tax for several years. It was reported in the mainstream media at the time, but everyone seems to have forgotten about it until now, when this actual evidence has emerged. (And also since the accountant has been spilling it to the Mueller team.)

Now, I love a good conspiracy theory, so the clouds parted when I saw the Times piece today.

All the leftish TV pundits are speculating that this is what he didn’t want to come out, that instead of being the brilliant supermogul he pretends to be, the world’s greatest dealmaker, he is a totally crappy businessman whose dad bankrolled him to the tune of half a billion dollars, that he appears to have pissed away, and more.

But there’s nothing new in that theory, journalists who have followed Trump around with a shovel have been trying to tell people for years that he’s the phonus-balonus.

I’m looking at it from a more squinty angle, however.

WHAT IF…

The Times financial team has been puzzling over one entry.

It seems that at one point, Trump declared a special one-off receipt for $50 million in interest earnings.

How, they are asking, and from where could he have earned $50 million in interest when his businesses were making such huge losses?

Well, my friend over at The Pumpkin brightly suggests, over a pint or two, it’s about what you’d expect to earn in a year on a billion-dollars worth of deposits, no?

In the sober light of day, I’m sure there’s a perfectly innocent explanation. In the world of accounting, not everything is what it seems, not necessarily illegally so. There might have been a very good reason why such a large amount needed to be lumped all at once into the column marked “interest earned on investments”, like “We can’t get away forever with not declaring something”.

So, what if he didn’t actually lose that billion, and instead had salted it away somehow, somewhere, in dribs and drabs of fifty, a hundred or two hundred million at a time, and merely declared the money as lost?

Say, in fake bank accounts in Russia, where the regulators are probably piled in groaning heaps in corners? (Has anyone looked for accounts in the name of David Dennisovitch, I wonder?)

Or, say he had carefully crafted those losses, purportedly to creditors (whom he reputedly seldom pays) but actually to confederates? (Like energy, money can neither be created nor destroyed.)

And say those deposits might be the true source of his Russian loans to his leisure developments? (Other countries and banks may be involved). That he’s been lending to himself, laundering his own money outside the system?

If true, that would be a far stronger reason for Trump to want to keep Mr Putin happy by helping to bring down the West, as if found out it would see him eating porage with no salt for many lifetimes to come.

Those debts Trump supposedly owes, that Putin has supposedly picked up the marker for – well, so what, frankly? It’s not illegal to be a lousy businessman, it’s not illegal to borrow investment finance from Russian banks owned by Putin’s mates or the GRU, like his idiot sons have explained he does, although in many people’s view it ought to be illegal to build tacky golf resorts everywhere over people’s land. He even loses money on those.

But huge hidden deposits, concealed from the IRS? Like, those big “debts” he supposedly owes are actually his own assets?

Whoof.

Just speculatin’. Usually wrong, yunnerstan’. No head for finance, least of all this stuff. Too easily detected. Pure supposition. Probably not even possible. Just ignore.

PS Mr Trump has hit back, claiming he lost the money deliberately, in a financial game all successful property developers play (aye, it’s called “laundering money”…) Then he exerted Executive Privilege over Congress to prevent any further inquiries into the Mueller report, appointing a new law firm just to delay release of his financial records, resulting in a declaration of war from the Democrats, who have started contempt proceedings against Trump officials resisting lawful subpoenas to produce evidence the President fears will incriminate him further.

So far, it’s all proceeding along exactly the lines familiar to historians of the Watergate conspiracy.

What is he hiding? And why doesn’t anyone appear to know?

 

GW: going down a bomb

Europe: A storm undergoing rapid “bombogenesis” (drop in pressure) out in the Atlantic is forecast to bring high winds and torrential rain across the British Isles into much of NW Europe down to Spain from 8 May. SW France is expecting severe thunderstorms and “a tornado or two”. (Accuweather) So far, here on the ground the forecast seems to be a bit of an exaggeration.

Meanwhile, as central and southern Europe continues to shiver under an airmass straight from the Arctic, Spain and Portugal are expected to warm up rapidly at the weekend, with a +14C spring temperature anomaly peaking in the high 30s C (high 90s F) next week. (Severe-weather.eu)

USA: Heavy flooding continued inundating towns and farmland along rivers in the Midwest on Monday. The swollen Mississippi River breached levees and forced road closures and drove people from their homes as high water levels make their way downstream. More severe storms are forecast to trundle northeastwards from Texas towards the mid-Atlantic during the week. (Accuweather)

The Weather Channel reports, nearly 3,000 avalanches have been recorded this year in Colorado.

In brief

Indonesia: 1 person has died and several are injured, with some localized farming losses, after heavy rain caused a flash flood in Samosir regency, North Sumatra, 3 May. (Floodlist)

Australia: The city of Mildura in Victoria state was engulfed by a huge dust storm on 7 May, whipped up by 50 mph-plus winds.

Insurance industry research has shown that extreme hot days in Australia are now 80 per cent more common and extreme cold days 74 per cent less common than the long-term average. (ABC News)

Namibia: A state of emergency has been declared as drought grips the country for a third successive year. Over half a million people are said to have not enough to eat. (BBC)

Russia: sweltering in a heatwave, Moscow has again (twice last year) been battered by a massive storm, with lots of hail and localized flooding. High winds tore up trees and flipped cars.

 

Get it together, guys!

One possible factor behind the public confusion over climate change that the denier community has improperly exploited, is the apparent inability of the scientific community to act like a community and cross-refer data sensibly across the barriers of specialized disciplines.

As a for-instance, take the story above, that in some parts of Australia you’re more than twice as likely to get dangerously hot days now than you were, say between 1980 and 2010, which is usually taken as the long-term average. Nationwide, it’s about an 80% increase. Sea level rise around some parts of the coast is also an alarming 6 cm, although the news report gives no starting date for that, so it’s hard to evaluate the significance. (ABC News)

The research was done for actuaries in the insurance industry, who have therefrom concluded that by 2100, getting on for a million homes will become uninsurable.

It really ought to occur to these clever risk-analysts that if extreme temperatures and sea levels go on increasing at the reported rate, which given the corruption and inertia prevalent among the country’s simply appalling politicians they are bound to do, there won’t be anyone around to pay the premiums.

Australia will have become uninhabitable long before it becomes uninsurable.

And in a similar vein, this morning the UK Environment Agency has published its views on the nation’s flood preparedness, urging the government to spend a billion pounds a year on resilience measures and warning that coastal communities will have to be relocated – if the global average temperature rises by 4 deg. C.

The Agency has completely failed to comprehend what a rise of 4 deg. C in the average temperature is going to mean in terms of the extremes we should experience in the meantime. Especially if the theory holds up, that at 4 deg. C the oceans will lose their reflective blanket of stratocumulus clouds, leading to a rapid rise of a further 8 deg. C. So far, that’s only a theory.

However, there has been a tragic tendency on the part of risk analysts to think lineally, in terms of these artificial cutoff points: 1.5C good, 2C bad; “blue ocean event” – as if there is one state prior to the last ice cube disappearing, and a new state immediately following it. And as if Chaos theory does not predict any sudden change of state resulting from tipping points being exceeded.

Many gloomier scientists whose prognostications are so frequently ignored by governments, NGOs and the media, all of them with their own half-baked perspectives, have concluded that a rise of 5 deg. C is the point of extinction for the human race.

How well do we imagine we are going to cope at 4 deg. C – which is, after all, nearly 5C and likely in itself to double the rate of warming? What will be the effect on global food production? On our cities, sweltering in 45C, 50C heat in summer?

Wel, so long as our clever department is focussed entirely on the effects of sea level rise and heavier rainfall, we can’t take the holistic view of a drastically changing economy and potential system breakdown to put out a more meaningful report.

Let’s just knock back the values of coastal properties for now.

The Pumpkin – Issue 78: Surviving Brexit… Intemperate outburst: an apology… Sympathy vote… GW: spinning a few more records (Mozambique cyclone LATEST)… EV phone home

 

Quote of the Week

“I’m struck, as the British parliament moves towards the endgame on Brexit, with the number of times Australia, Canada, New Zealand and India have been advanced by the Brexiteers in the public debate as magical alternatives to Britain’s current trade and investment relationship with the European Union. This is the nuttiest of the many nutty arguments that have emerged from the Land of Hope and Glory set now masquerading as the authentic standard-bearers of British patriotism. It’s utter bollocks.” – Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia, writing in The Guardian.

16 days to go…. and Mr Rudd offers us a much-needed reality check, too late I fear: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/11/commonwealth-save-brexit-britain-utter-delusion-kevin-rudd

 

“Yippee, we won that one!”

Surviving Brexit

Never mind! Britain has signed a post-Brexit trade deal with the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea, as the government rushes to sign as many agreements as possible before 29 March. (from BBC)

Just what we wanted: more tariff-free shrunken heads. As if we haven’t got enough politicians already.

Here be weasels

In a caption to a video, 15 March, BBC News explains that children all over the world are expected to skip school today in a mass protest against political inaction on climate change.

Change that, a BBC journalist writes, is “expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events – though linking any single event to global warming is complicated.”

Are these cowardly weasels going to go on forever pretending there is some “debate” about this, and include automatic red-flag caveats with every report that might frighten the horses?

Theresa May during the debate on extending the Brexit negotiating period, 14 March 2019

“Oops, no, we lost that one!”

Intemperate outburst: an apology

The maverick biologist, Dr Rupert Sheldrake most famously posited a theory of “morphic resonance”, that suggested an experimental way of showing that there are metaphysical connections between events in the world that can be explained on a quantum level, as if the Universe is capable of learning through experience and transmitting the information at a distance.

I resort to this idea now, when trying to explain an extraordinary and embarrassing – thing – that has happened. Without wishing to seem solipsistic, i.e. that in this rather isolated state in which I dwell among you, I have come to believe, like poor Mr Trump, that I am personally responsible for everything that happens and that the sun revolves around me.

Over the last couple of days I have taken to binge-watching videos of some of the finest moments in the public-speaking career of the late and much-lamented Christopher Hitchens, the leftwing, humanist polemicist famous for demolishing the absurd deistic arguments of all-comers, high and low, from the religious spectrum.

I have, perhaps, overdosed rather on his thrilling rhetoric and fierce mental clarity

Born in the same year, Hitchens and I come from similarly upper-middle-class, English boarding-school-educated backgrounds, which perhaps explains why we share the same animus towards arbitrary authority and undeserving entitlements. But where he was fiercely intellectual, erudite and widely travelled, I am a lazy, ill-read, cowardly and inarticulate old stick-in-the-mud. Where he liked to get out and take on the rabbis and the mullahs and the incense-sniffers head-on, I just crouch here behind the barricade and snipe.

I was doing exactly that, late last night, and regret it. Unfortunately, with three or four large Scotches under my groaning belt, in a mood of intense irritation (I shan’t explain it, but there were reasons) and in some discomfort from my catheter: both directly, being unable to sit for long without pain; and indirectly, having suffered an instance of unwanted and odoriferous leakage (not connected with the alcohol), feeling unpleasantly moist.

Thus, on a Comment thread beneath a YouTube video of Hitchens administering yet another series of “Hitchslaps”, as the cult that has grown around his memory calls his pithier arguments, to the proponents of supra-natural beliefs, I reacted furiously to some stories in the news, the egregious nature of each of which suggested to me that the religious establishment has lately been regaining the upper hand.

I have never been to Argentina, for instance, but it seems the Catholic church, that not long ago apologised through its Pope for the genocide between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries of almost a billion native Americans, and now having to apologize again for thousands of acts of sacrilegious child-abuse by its celibate priesthood and its centuries-long cover-up by the authorities, continues nonetheless to exert its malign influence over the common people.

Recently, it was reported, religious authorities there had insisted on an 11-year old girl carrying a pregnancy to term, when she was obliged to give birth by Caesarian section to a child forcibly got on her by her own step-grandfather, after they had refused to sanctify the early-term abortion she and her parents had desired.

I hope this strikes you too as obscene. You should therefore consider, as Hitchens does, the horrible thought that in certain parts of the world, child-rape may result in the death penalty – for the child, caught in adultery, not for the older man. That too is a religious edict, directly mandated by God.

In another instance, one of the more exotic places in the world I have actually visited, a long time ago, is Iran. I had a very good Iranian friend at one time, and I continue to grieve for the Iranian people, regarding their theistic fascist regime propped up by the extreme violence of religious courts, secret police and a corrupt “Revolutionary Guard”, as a toad squatting on the face of humanity.

It had nothing to do with Islamophobia – people are free to think as they must – and everything to do with hatred of fascism in whatever form it takes. I had been horrified that morning to learn of the jailing by a religious court of a prominent Iranian human rights lawyer for an outrageous 38 years, with 150 lashes, merely for defending women opposing the diktat of the patriarchal mullahs that they must cover their heads in public; about which the Qu’ran has little or nothing to say, other than requiring female modesty.

These are the same calculating and devious authorities who are keeping a British-Iranian mother, Mrs Nazanin Zighari-Ratcliffe, locked up on a ludicrous forced confession of plotting to overthrow the State; and who have just rejected the latest attempt by the British government to have her conviction overturned through granting her diplomatic status. (Do not imagine Iranian courts permit accused persons to offer a legal defence. Or that Mrs Ratcliffe is the only person in her predicament.) So now their offence is against the British state, not that we intend to do anything about it.

And that same morning, we had learned that the Saudi authorities – I refer to their country as Saudi Barbaria – have dragged into court, with the aim of imprisoning, and/or perhaps brutally flogging, ten token women’s rights activists arrested and tortured despite the specific focus of their protest, the absurd law against women drivers, having recently been overturned by order of the Crown Prince himself.

I hope this strikes you too as utter, misogynistic hypocrisy. These creepy, closed-minded, madrassah-uneducated little men are terrified of women and use extreme, often sexual violence and a twisted version of religious law to keep them in their place.

Anyway, so I posted some fairly pungent remarks about religious abuse, one of which might if taken out of context be regarded as generally anti-Islamic; which was not my specific intention. And awoke seven hours later to the awful news that, at the very moment I had been firing off my ill-considered and intemperate Post, that at any other time would have passed among the general, on the furthest side of the world an appalling atrocity was being perpetrated against peaceful worshippers by a deranged and calculating Australian neo-Nazi, a psychopath in the Anders Breivik mould.

That man is not me. I hope.

Readers of this, my ever-lengthening bogl, must by now be fully aware of my instinctive opposition to violence in all its forms; to authoritarianism, and my detestation of racists. I am a passionate believer in social justice. Through a kind of “morphic resonance” overnight, however, my words coincidentally took or borrowed dreadful shape in the form of an actual bloody massacre of 49 people to whom I wished no harm.

To my mind there is no moral difference between a murderous and bullying regime carrying out daily atrocities in the name of their malign and vindictive God, imposing their wickedness on a cowed population; and the actions of one arrogant and murderous racist who takes upon himself the mantle of avenging angel to punish those who offend him, merely by their appearance. Both are clearly manifestations of that extreme form of psychosis which every normal person, even the non-religious and the atheistic, codifies as “evil”.

So, when I suggested that the Iranian regime was a horrible death cult who should, in that case, fuck off and die, it was not intended as giving licence and encouragement to an actual act of slaughter, which we understand was years in the planning; or as a random assault upon the entire global congregation of Islam.

Rather that, to paraphrase the words of the Christian gospel, in the case of these oppressors, the abominable priestly caste of whatever brand of faith who think they know the mind of their ineffable deity (whom I’m afraid I also insulted) and can therefore act with impunity as a law entirely unto themselves, to oppress others, millstones should be tied around their necks and they should be cast into the sea.

It’s a Biblical metaphor.

I hope that clears it up, to the best extent possible in the circumstances; and I sincerely apologize for any unintended offence.

The Pumpkin

 

Sympathy vote

During his bizarre, 2.5-hour-long homily to the US Conservative PAC conference the week before last, basically these days a bunch of overprivileged, college-educated neo-Nazis in Brooks suits, the Washington Post reports, a visibly sweating Trump (Nixon used to sweat heavily too) succeeded in telling over 100 fact-checked lies during his rambling, disconnected speech, that was all about himself, of course – along with the usual feeble, self-referential jokes and terrifyingly bad impressions of critics and opponents he likes to abuse publicly.

It was another of the impromptu speeches that, er, prompted the US media to wonder long and loudly again about the President’s sanity; or at least, his present state of mind, and whether it was safe to leave him home alone with matches.

His daily average lie count is now 22, up from six a year ago, to a total since being forced into office of over 9,500. It seems unusual that several media outlets should see the need to employ units of fact-checkers to monitor the statements made by the president of the United States at all, but when you elect a pathological liar I suppose it’s too good an opportunity to pass up.

The most extraordinary fact, however, is this. Since his failed summit with Kim Jong-un, the devastating 35-day government shutdown at Christmas and his failure to secure funding for a border wall which 65% of Americans say they think is a terrible idea, his poll ratings have actually been going up.

in November, he lost control of the House of Representatives. The economy is on a slide: on his watch the national debt is approaching $23 trillion, the trade gap is $100 billion wider than when he launched his tariff wars, North Korea is back to testing missiles, his former lieutenants have been testifying copiously to his instinctive criminality, his connections with Russia that he still strenuously denies have been laid bare, his Middle East policy is in chaos, he reportedly works less than 4 hours a day on four days a week and golfs the rest, he continues to promote his own businesses at taxpayers’ expense, sells access to himself, overrules his security service heads on almost every front, continues to waste public money on senseless inquiries into his election result and non-existent voter fraud, opposes the entire scientific establishment of the United States on the climate crisis, refuses to condemn right-wing violence (he’s threatening to invade Venezuela), has had his photo taken with a Floridan chinese brothel-madam who sells her clients access to him at Mar-a-Lago – and his 2020 draft budget proposal blatantly sets out to wrest even more money from the poor, children and the disabled to give to the richest 1%, sucking $1.3 trillion out of Medicaid and $800 billion out of Medicare over 10 years, defunding programs that support the poorest members of his own base, while giving another $25 billion to the bloated military and $8.6 billion to build the border wall he tells his dumbfucks he’s already built. (Oh, that’s a lie, by the way.)

Yet they continue to love and worship him as if he were a cult leader, or a god, whose every word is sanctified. That imagined person he boasted he could “shoot on 5th Avenue and not lose voters” is one of his own supporters, but they don’t mind. They are addicted to his power.

As many legal experts state, he has committed at least eight impeachable offences while in office, and many indictable crimes before. His frenzied efforts to obstruct the Mueller inquiry are unabashed and unabated; as are his undisguised attempts to rollback environmental protections as openly bought favors to his vastly wealthy donors in the Energy sector. He continues to ride on a crazy rollercoaster of White House staff, now on his seventh communications director; to spray out demented tweets savaging his perceived enemies, however trivial their complaints, to abuse the fallen and the dead, and to threaten and bully the media.

No president before has been so obsessed with making crude, disparaging comments, demeaning and abusing and threatening anyone who dares to criticize, in disjointed, whining, self-justifying 4 a.m. tweetstorms full of screaming capitals: NO COLUSION! LIAR COMEY! DEM PLOT! FAKE NEWS CNN! The novelty may have worn off, as no-one but his base seems to care anymore what he says. No president before has so repeatedly praised the actions against his own country of brutal foreign kleptocrats, or torn up so many treaties and abrogated so many common understandings and shared values with America’s allies.

Despite all of that, his arch-enemy, Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi has dismissed calls to impeach him, saying he isn’t worth the bother. It’s a calculated insult, but one that masks an underlying problem: the senior Democratic elders like Pelosi and Schumer are as implicated in the corporatist conspiracy and as far from the zeitgeist of the upcoming generation as the Republicans and cannot find a way out of it.

Now they have a new intake of younger congressmen and women with a more progressive, anti-corporate, anti-corruption, pro-environment agenda, the party may have trouble holding itself together at the polls. There is increasing concern that without an impeachment, whose success is far from guaranteed, Trump could be elected by default for a second, equally or more disastrous term.

Thus 44% of Americans now say they think Trump is doing a good job; of what, is not made clear,

Entertaining them, I suppose.

Watching someone gibbering and sweating in the throes of mental disintegration, someone whose delusions include taking personal credit for the corporate policy of the Apple corporation, then getting the CEO’s name muddled up, calling him “Tim Apple”, and then going to enormous lengths to have his people deny he actually said what the recording clearly shows him saying, another one of those “alternative fact” moments, as if it even matters, is such fun, isn’t it.

This is a man desperately clinging to the remnant shreds of sanity and in dire need of professional help. Impeachment would be a mercy. So severe are his symptoms, he will be the last to recognize it.

 

GW: spinning a few new records

Mozambique LATEST (Fri 2pm 15 Mar):  “Meanwhile, over the Mozambique Channel, Cyclone Idai had built waves up to 7 metres high. As a cyclone moves over water, it drives a storm surge in the face of it. In this case, the surge was about 2 metres. So, before Idai’s approach, the surface of the ocean rose 2 metres with waves rising regularly 7 metres above that – at worst, 9 metres. The weather station at Beira airport is 8 metres above sea level. The tide can rise to a surprising 7 metres as is the case forecast for Friday. Thursday evening’s tide was 5 metres and the storm surge from Idai arrived with it. The waves were driven on top.” (Al Jazeera) Meaning potentially 14 meters (46 feet!) of sea-level rise.

“Communications have been lost from the port of Beira since Thursday evening.”

In its early stages, Idai brought widespread flooding to southern Malawi and the adjacent Mozambique province of Zambezia. At least 80,000 people have been displaced and dozens of people killed. Idai has the potential to drop up to 500mm of rain on its way through central Mozambique. (Al Jazeera)

Further reporting (Thu, 14 March): “The number of people killed in heavy rains and flooding in southern Malawi has risen to 30, while the number of people affected is now approaching 500,000 with an estimated 30,000 of them displaced. Meanwhile the same weather system has also caused flooding in regions of Mozambique, where over 30,000 people have been affected and 7 deaths reported. Heavy rain has also affected areas of KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa, in particular around the city of Durban.” (From Floodlist)

USA: “Snow and gusty winds from slow-moving Winter Storm Ulmer continue from the Colorado Rockies to western South Dakota and much of Wyoming. Deteriorating weather with increasing snow and wind, including blizzard conditions, will intensify in parts of the central High Plains into the afternoon”… as the storm undergoes ‘bombogenesis’ – a rapid collapse in atmospheric pressure, to a hurricane-like 968 mb. Warning includes a swath from northeast Colorado, including Denver, to western South Dakota. Up to 2 feet of snow is forecast.

Updates: Over 1,000 drivers are stranded in cars along highways in Colorado and Nebraska as National Guard troops have braved 90 mph blizzards to rescue them. A state of emergency has been declared. One trooper has been killed and a motorist has died. 7 states are under blizzard warnings. (The Weather Channel)

This is now mid-March… and a poll in Kansas finds 96% of the population is getting fed up with winter! Ulmer has created record flooding in Ohio and Nebraska, some rivers many feet over former record levels (14 March). Meanwhile, further south “a line of severe thunderstorms is moving eastward through portions of central Texas this morning (13 Mar.) Damaging wind gusts hit 85 mph, trashing an Amazon depot at Fort Worth, and 5 people were injured by a tornado in Dexter, New Mexico.” Up to 4-in of rain is forecast.

And a new report from William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science says the fast-flooding Texas and Louisiana coasts could see up to 2 feet of sea-level rise by 2050 (The Weather Channel). Property value losses owing to the threat of coastal flooding in 17 states from Maine to Mississippi between 2005 and 2017 have been estimated at $16 billion. But it’s okay, folks, President Trump says nothing to see, keep voting.

Bet you’ve never seen this before! Upside-down lightning over Ugljan, Croatia, 11 March. Photo: Jakša Kuzmičić.

Venezuela: As electricity blackouts continue to plague the capital, Caracas, into their second week, there’s a brief mention on the BBC News of 40C daytime temperatures there. Your Granny is unable to find any more details, sorry. Googling Venezuela 40C produces only a reference to postage rates.

Brazil: Heavy rain, severe flash-flooding and landslides affected São Paulo State from Sunday 10 March. At least 12 people have died and 6 have been injured. 1200 rescues were effected. Flood water was reported in several neighbourhoods of the city, blocking major roads and causing severe disruption to public transport. Santo André recorded 182mm rain in 24 hours to 11 March.” (From Floodlist)

World: It’s been a winter of extreme extremes, according to Wunderground. “On March 2, Dover, Tasmania, attained an all-time record high of 40.1°C (104.3°F), the hottest reading ever observed in that (furthest southerly) Australian state during the month of March. Just the next day (4 March in the US) minus 46°F (-43C) was measured at Elk Park, Montana, a new (preliminary) all-time record for cold in that state for March.

While the USA and Japan froze solid, many European countries had spells of record warmth for February. Down south, both New Zealand and Chile experienced their hottest-ever summer months: “Chile heatwave breaks all-time records at 10 cities, with temperatures ranging from 35.1°C (95.2°F) to 40.7°C (105.3°F). 40.7°C at Traiguen is perhaps the most southerly 40°C+ reading ever measured on Earth.” On 15 Feb, however, “42.4°C (108.3°F) at Traiguen. New national monthly record.”

And in Angola, bordering South Africa, 41.0°C (105.8°F) at Espinheira, Angola set an all-time national record on 15 Feb. for any month.

In the US, at the same time as a new February record was being set in the UK, of 21.6C (70.9F) (just four miles from where your old Granny’s new digital max-min thermometer was giving her a shade high of 24.1C, 75.4F), “Los Angeles failed to hit 70°F for the first February since records began in 1878.”

A comprehensive list of this winter’s many impressive new world records can be found at: https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/North-South-Winter-and-Summer-Record-Temperature-Extremes?cm_ven=hp-slot-4

Global greenhouse: “The rise in the levels of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in the atmosphere continues to accelerate. Over the past 31 days, CO₂ levels at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, have been above 410 ppm, while on March 3, some average hourly readings exceeded 415 ppm. The levels recorded in the year up until now weren’t expected to occur until April/May.” Rising levels of methane, especially over Antarctica and the Himalayas, and N20 (nitrous oxide, a GHG 300 times more heat-absorbent than C2) continue to give cause for concern. (Arctic News, 15 March)

 

EV phone home

Guardian Green Light reports: “At least a quarter of local authorities in England and Wales have put a brake on the expansion of charging networks for electric vehicles. More than 100 local councils (60 failed to reply) say they have no plans to increase the number of charging points they offer. Campaigners and politicians fear this could hinder the expansion of the UK’s electric fleet..”

Why is that? Because they can’t afford to do it and keep essential services like schools, libraries and garbage collection going.

Your old Granny is astonished. Why is it up to local authorities to instal charging points? On the Council tax many non-drivers and many more non-owners and can’t-afforders of expensive electric vehicles are obliged to pay?

Why are the lousy, cheating bastards selling environmentally ecocidal carbon-emitting fuel and paying PR men to lie about the consequences of burning it, not being FORCED to pay for electric vehicle (EV) chargers out of their obscene mega-profits, in their highly priced roadside filling station outlets?

They already have over a $trillion in fuel subsidies* and cheap concessions from rotten governments around the world, whose corrupt ministers pocket their share of the proceeds. Someone should tell them, that’s enough.

But it won’t be the Department of Energy. A Spokesmouth replies: “Our Road to Zero strategy sets out our commitment to massively expand electric vehicle infrastructure.”

Yes, at my expense, you cunts. Road to Zero is a great way of branding human extinction, as well as my bank balance.

*Latest figures show that 22 banks globally have between them subsidized the oil, gas and coal industries to the tune of $1.9 TRILLION since the Paris accord was signed

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

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

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

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

This is absolutely bloody terrifying.

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

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

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

Yes, Brexit makes you free, alright.

Police officers on duty as Theresa May visited Salisbury yesterday.

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

EU: What the ignorant like to hear

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

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

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

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

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

What the ignorant like to hear, in other words.

 

In nomine patri, et feel-you-up sancti

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

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

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

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

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

I suppose it depends on how young?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

GW: Gone with the wind

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

This is where our story ends…

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to the Resistance… What will it take for people to get serious?… GW: Let it snow, let it snow, let it… rain?… A new BogPo emerging

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, greets US president Donald Trump in 2017.

“Thank Vishnu, I’ve found someone even crazier than me!”

Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

 

“In 36 days’ time there will be only resistance left.”

Welcome to the Resistance

In a month and one week from now, at midnight on Friday 29 March, Britain will leave the EU, almost certainly without a working deal for a transitional arrangement while a permanent settlement is negotiated.

At which point, it will be too late. Under EU rules, a permanent settlement will not be available after a Brexit without a deal. The settlement will be as it is: a complete and devastating break.

Forty-six years of co-operative engagement with almost the whole of the rest of Europe will end. Tariffs and visas and customs controls we thought we had done away with forever will be reimposed, food prices will rise, and the rights of visa-free movement and settlement and reciprocal free medical treatment will be abrogated, just like that.

Hundreds of British MEPs and civil servants will troop back to the UK and an uncertain future.

In time other rights, safety standards and product convergence we have long enjoyed will disappear, along with our obligations to our treaty partners; who are themselves, thanks largely to the British vote, under threat of divergence and breakdown.

We will default on the €39 billion it has been accepted we were already committed to pay, and walk away with no satisfactory arrangements regarding a whole range of issues it appears those who voted Leave had never even considered.

We shall enjoy only reduced security co-operation in Europe, and be faced with dealing with the probable consequences of a breakdown of the Good Friday agreement that has brought relative peace to the divided island of Ireland for the past 20 years. Co-operative agreements over science and technology, such as the Galileo GPS project, Airbus and the European Space Agency; the European Medicines Agency, will abruptly cease.

Hundreds of established foreign-owned companies employing thousands of workers have already made plans to relocate, either to Ireland or to the continent, in the event of No-deal. Companies needing to forward-order materials and components are struggling to stock-up; smaller airlines are facing bankruptcy. No reciprocal landing rights have yet been renegotiated: under a temporary arrangement, UK flights into and out of the EU will continue, but there is no agreement on internal routes.

We will enter into a protracted period during which our elected officials will struggle to obtain favourable trade agreements with a host of countries we already have reciprocal trading arrangements with under EU rules, faraway countries who owe us nothing and will add no value to any subsequent agreements, perpetuating the insane belief (or cynical lies) of politicians that Britain will again become the power in the world we once were.

(Mr Fox has just this evening confessed that he cannot rollover the same free-trade deal the Japanese have just agreed with the EU and we’ll have to start with them from scratch. To date just seven trade deals agreed include the Faroe Islands, Switzerland and Turkey, exports totalling £13 billion. Our current trade with third countries through the EU is £117 billion.)

The Government has already made plans for a security clampdown and the possible, temporary introduction of rationing of certain goods, food and medicines. The Army has been put on standby. Just this alone should tell you something about the situation Britain has got itself in.

We shall in a relatively short time become serfs to an unelected global criminal elite; subject to an international organized crime syndicate operating at the highest levels of many governments we propose to “do business” with, having its legitimized corporate and political roots in the rise both of the US mafia and the collapse of the Soviet Union – and, of course, global commodity interests: oil, food, the arms trade.

This ‘coup’ against the current world order involves an unholy alliance of far-right and far-left groups with agendas including the establishment of an apartheid, anti-abortion ‘white, Christian’ state in the USA; extreme anti-immigrant, antisemitic parties in European countries; those who believe, like Steve Bannon, that we are on a crusade against Islam before the Final Battle; those promoting Russian expansionism and the hegemony of the super-rich, the global corporations and those who oppose globalization.

Already, the threats are arriving. The US ambassador to Britain has instructed the government that we will have to accept US food imports produced to lower standards of safety and animal welfare if an overall trade agreement is to be put in place.

Against all that, the climate clock is also ticking down to a fast-approaching dystopia of economic and social chaos, prior to the probable extinction of most life on earth: the ‘sixth great extinction’ that has visibly begun; foreboding of which is clearly making us insane.

And they know it.

Everyone I meet who is willing to discuss this worrying situation is now in the final stage of grief, numb acceptance; wandering around in a dark mood of not really caring what happens next.

Sadly, I know of no-one who has more than just the normal dark suspicion of politicians, who understands how things have come to this pass: who it is that has secretly and deliberately advocated behind the scenes for ‘No-deal’ and why, and what the future holds.

But we should care, because as time has gone on, the extent of the treason and the true motives and identities of the shadowy funders of the project to replace the Western alliance become ever clearer.

The ‘No-deal’ option is, as we sort-of know, being nudged by a handful of Conservatives on the right and a few nitwitted fellow-travellers in the disintegrating Labour party – I hesitate to call them the Opposition – who have successfully co-opted Theresa May into their project with a threat to breakup the Party if she crosses their ‘red lines’.

Do you know why, and on whose behalf?

As the clock ticks down to midnight, the full extent of the conspiracy to steal Britain is only now emerging.

It is a story that has gained zero traction with the British people, because those journalists who are fighting to expose the shadowy plot behind the practised dissembling of a few front-runners – Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Davis, McVey, Baker, Farage and the others – are so easily dismissed, shouted down, disparaged as conspiracy theorists or traitors or liberal elites seeking to thwart ‘the will of the People’.

And of course the corporatist media – the Murdoch press, the Mail and titles like the Express and the Star, now under the aegis of Reach – formerly Mirror Group Newspapers – and their online surrogates – are not going to pick the story up and run with it, because they have spent decades preparing for this moment.

I urge you, if you value your freedom, to read and understand the following. It is quite a long article, because it concerns quite a big – and breathtaking – conspiracy:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/revealed-how-dark-money-is-winning-brexit-influencing-ga?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=7a15ab4b9d-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-7a15ab4b9d-408090269GW

In 35 days’ time there will be only resistance left.

You were warned.

 

“No wonder people are confused”

What will it take for people to get serious?

How will we continue to react to the accelerating story of global warming?

Certainly not in the news media, where there is a tradition of putting different categories of stories firmly into their own silos and failing to recognize any connection between them. Not a single report of, say, the political situation or war in the Middle East allows itself to be confused with the rapidly increasing extremes of temperature, the rise in the number of hurricanes in the Arabian Sea, or this winter’s extensive flooding throughout the region.

I first noticed the effect quite recently. Back in 2017, it was being widely reported on the news that our bumptious Foreign Secretary at the time, Boris Johnson, had managed to insult the entire Maori nation while on an official visit to New Zealand. There was no mention whatever of the fact that the area he was visiting was under a state of emergency declared in response to widespread, record floods.

More egregiously, last year the International Panel on Climate Change launched its notorious “12-years-to-act” report (basically, 12 years in which to do nothing) in the coastal city of Incheon, historic site of Gen. McArthur’s decisive invasion during the Korean War. Just the day before, several people had been killed in a ferocious typhoon that struck the south; one of many last year, in a part of the world that has also experienced killer summer heat each year for the past few years.

The irony obviously escaped the world’s media, as there was not one mention of it in the coverage of the conference.

All these opportunities being missed, to make the approaching extinction event even just a talking point, let alone the screaming banner headline news it ought to be.

A Guardian report today of a UN report warning that biodiversity issues are threatening world food security fails to mention that climate change is pushing agriculture northward and southward out of its traditional zones, where new varieties will need to be developed if production is to be maintained on poorer or less adapted soils. The grainbelt in the USA is moving northward at an alarming rate – as is the breadbasket in Australia moving south (toward the sea!) and shrinking fast as it succumbs to drought.

You would think that falling production in all of the main grain-producing areas of the world would exercise governments whose economies benefit from grain exports, as well as those reliant on imported bulk foods, but no, there are apparently more important things to worry about.

Over in India, a row has erupted between pressure groups over an ordinance forcing possibly as many as 5 million aboriginal tribespeople to leave their remote forest lands. While the authorities say that those who have title to the land can stay and they’re only pushing out overpopulating illegals who are destroying the forest ecology, other environmentalists are arguing that ethnic tribespeople have a right to pursue their rural economy unmolested by modern civilization.

It’s humans versus plant and animal diversity, again – the new Bolsonaro regime in Brazil is threatening to bring this clash to a head – with no obvious solution to a dilemma that is, in fact, affecting the entire planet.

Then we have the story of thousands upon thousands of French citizens donning yellow tabards and rioting in protest against a rise in the price of diesel fuel. There, we had a few mentions in the early days of the paradox that everyone knows we have to burn less fuel but nobody wants to be the one burning less fuel. A few people wrung their hands over this demonstration of the impossibility of getting nations to decarbonize; requiring us, as it does, to accept declining living standards. (The joke being, they are already declining anyway, that’s why the French are rioting!)

But your Uncle Bogler has seen little follow-up to this rather crucial point, given that environmental protesters and schoolchildren everywhere are on the march against climate-change inertia; while the somewhat blurred focus of the ‘gilets jaunes’ has moved from fuel to a broad range of social ills and a protest against the government in general.

The news media is a caravan that is always folding its tents and moving on. No wonder people are confused: is the threat supposed to be climate change, plastic bags, disappearing bugs, peak oil, antibiotic resistance, migration, overpopulation – what?

People are not going to understand the gravity of the situation while the media encloses these protests in a file marked ‘cranks’. Only when the climate change story becomes embedded in the wider news agenda and extreme weather events are seen for what they are – integral to the processes of social, economic and political change, not merely curiosities – it was a winter record18.5C, 65F in Scotland yesterday and the ski resorts are closing – only when they see how it is already affecting their lives and how everything is connected will people finally take notice.

 

GW: Let it snow, let it snow, let it… rain?

USA: Las Vegas, Nv. just had its first measurable snowfall since records began there in 1934. Up to 3-in was forecast, although with rain on the way it’s not expected to last. (CNN)

A huge storm system is moving up from the Gulf. “Significant flash flooding is expected in the South Friday, then severe thunderstorms, including the threat of tornadoes, are an increasing concern Saturday in parts of the South and Ohio Valley in what may be the most widespread severe weather event of this winter, so far.” A warning of life-threatening floods has gone out for the Nashville area of Tennessee, heading for its wettest-ever winter record. (From The Weather Channel)

Meanwhile, Winter Storm Quiana is already moving into position over the west coast, with forecasts of more heavy snow and blizzard conditions across the Plains and Midwest. Flagstaff, Az. just set a new record with 36-in. of snowfall, 21 Feb. Snow was also reported in Malibu, West Hollywood and Thousand Oaks, California, and at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California. Even LA had 0.8-in (From The Weather Channel)

Pakistan: Heavy rain has brought flash flooding to several provinces over the last few days, with local media reporting over 25 fatalities. … At least 9 people were killed in three incidents of roofs collapsing after heavy rain in Punjab Province. The city of Multan is reportedly among the worst affected areas. (From Floodlist)

Ecuador: Disaster authorities say that around 250 people have been affected by flooding in Los Ríos Province since 19 February. Several rivers have broken their banks in Pastaza Province, causing damage to homes. No casualties have been reported. (From Floodlist)

Pacific: The typhoon season has got off to an early start this year. “Category 2 (100 mph) Typhoon Wutip is gathering strength in the waters to the southeast of Guam. Wutip is expected to pass 150 miles to the southwest of Guam as a Category 3 typhoon on Saturday night local time, bringing tropical storm conditions to Guam and Rota in the Mariana Islands.”

Meanwhile, “Tropical Storm Oma, was located on 21 Feb. about 500 miles east of the Australian coast. Oma was headed south at about 8 mph, parallel to the coast.” Weakening due to wind shear, “Oma peaked as a Category 1 storm with 85 mph winds on Tuesday, and is predicted to bring gale-force winds to the northeast coast of Australia on Friday and Saturday. The storm’s high waves and surge may bring coastal inundation up to a meter (3.3 feet) above high tide. (From The Weather Channel) Update 23 Feb: Oma stalled off the coast and is rapidly weakening – not before 25 beaches were closed due to huge waves.

Europe: Trapped between two very cold airmasses, “Very warm air with temperature 10-15 °C warmer than normal overspreads western and northern Europe, Arctic region and Greenland” over the next few days.” (Severe-weather.eu) Temperatures are well above normal in the UK: a record high of 18.3C, 65F was recorded in Scotland, 22 Feb. and for most it’s been shorts and T-shirts.

Much colder conditions however are affecting the eastern Mediterranean: “High temperatures on Friday will climb to around 16 C (60 F) in Athens, and struggle to reach 7 C (45 F) by Sunday” (Accuweather). Severe-weather.eu has: Greece is up for another intense snowstorm this weekend as a new cold outbreak is pushed across the Balkan peninsula. Locally up to 40-50 cm of fresh snow seems likely until Sunday, combined with huge snow drifts due to strong to severe winds. Blowing snow and blizzard/whiteout conditions are expected.”

Meanwhile, hurricane-force Bora winds gusting (at altitude) up to 230 km/hr (140 mph) were expected at the weekend over Italy and the northern Adriatic up into Slovenia this week. (Severe-weather.eu)

Yellowstone: new earthquake swarm, harmonic tremors, ground uplift continuing, ground shaking, bigger M3-M4 quakes in the park and outside in Utah, toward Salt Lake City and in Montana. Ground temperature rising – also “water temperature” now “over 100C”. (NB yes, I know, you can’t heat water above 100C under normal pressure as it tends to turn to steam! Unless you’re a Yellowstone watcher, in which case anything is possible.) (Mary Greeley vlog post)

“Don’t you realize that blacking-up at a penguin party is considered seriously culturally offensive, Senator?”

Denier time

“The world’s capacity to produce food is being undermined by humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity, according to the first UN study of the plants, animals and micro-organisms that help to put meals on our plates.

“The stark warning was issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation after scientists found evidence the natural support systems that underpin the human diet are deteriorating around the world as farms, cities and factories gobble up land and pump out chemicals.” (Guardian)

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/feb/21/worlds-food-supply-under-severe-threat-from-loss-of biodiversity?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0d1YXJkaWFuVG9kYXlVS19XZWVrZGF5cy0xOTAyMjI%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayUK&CMP=GTUK_email

Adjust the ticket

Parking meter usage records are being employed to provide a reliable guide to rising sea levels around US coasts.

Based on a research paper from Stanford University, Dr Jeff Masters at Wunderground explains that commercial areas of coastal cities experience a fall in traffic on days when high tides are encroaching on their activities. In the early 1960s, he reports, Annapolis had about 4 high-tide flooding days a year. In 2017, the small city on Chesapeake Bay experienced 63 “nuisance flooding” days, at an estimated cost of $176,000 a year in lost revenues. As a result of the finding, the city is planning to install pumps in its parking lots. (Weather Underground)

http://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Using-Parking-Meter-Records-and-Tweets-Local-Businesses-Sea-Level-Rise-Research

Teen spirit

Using parts he bought on eBay, 12-year-old Jackson Oswalt of Memphis, Tennessee has become the youngest-ever person to build a working nuclear fusion reactor, in his parents’ spare room. The Open Source Fusor Research Consortium, a hobbyist group, has recognised the achievement, although official verification is still pending. The previous record was held by 14-year-old Taylor Wilson, who is now working in the nuclear industry. (Guardian)

There has to be a reason… Will we hold them to this pledge?… Kick him out!… Can we trust economists?… GW: Sweep-up in Seattle… POZI-NEWS A great new feature accentuating the POZITIV!… School’s Out!

Quote of the Week

“The disconnection of Russia from the global web would mean that we are already at war with everyone. In this situation we should be thinking how to grow potatoes in a nuclear winter, and not about the internet.”

– Filipp Kulin, Russian internet expert, asked about a Kremlin plan to put up its own firewall around the internet, for “national security” reasons that are nothing to do with rising protests against Putin’s handling of the economy. (BBC, 12 Feb.)

donald trump

“And my doctor says I’m 35 feet tall and still only 239 pounds.”

Trump passes his medical with flying colors. (Photo Carlos Barría/Reuters)

There has to be a reason

“The secrecy imposed on the civil service is the second reason why, if trouble comes, it will appear to come from nowhere. The truth is that we have a hidden government, thinking the unthinkable in secret, not as an academic parlour game in which an idea is reduced to absurdity for intellectual pleasure, but as a means of stopping voters realising the scale of the trouble we may be facing.”

– Nick Cohen, writing in The Guardian, 11 Feb 2019.

Nick’s thesis is rather troubling. There has to be a reason why the government is quietly creating a new ministry employing five thousand supposedly temporary civil service volunteers at vast expense to the taxpayer, to manage the country on what looks suspiciously like a war footing.

They are being recruited now, to ensure stockpiles of food and medicine are distributed and rationed, with plans to chopper the Queen out of London, plans to commandeer trucks and warehouses and public transport and to put five thousand troops on the streets – possibly even to round up potentially violent dissidents – in the event of a no-deal exit from the EU at midnight on Friday, 29 March (“Piano Day”).

Saturday 30th, appropriately, being “Bipolar Day”; and Monday 1 April, of course, when people will get up, shake off their hangovers and go to work in the Brave New World of Britain as a vast global trading empire once more: “All Fools’ Day”.

Maybe it’s because the May cabinet genuinely expects the country to fall apart, with supermarkets looted, empty shelves, businesses shut down and rioters on the streets?

It seems inconceivable in this day and age.

For a start, few people really give a hoot about Brexit, they don’t have a clue what the fuss is all about, just that they don’t like the government’s hideously cruel and seemingly never-ending austerity program, although they go on voting for it.

They’re too busy going about their zero-hours “cog in a machine” jobs and trying to survive in the dog-eat-dog, app-driven modern world of Deliveroo and Uber Eats; of call-centres and fast-food outlets, of shelf-stacking and warehouse picking and packing, of Amazon deliveries and unpaid internships and temporary “teaching assistant” and “community policing” and agency cleaning and admin jobs where you can be fired for taking a day off sick.

That none of this growing fragility of our social institutions and the deskilling of work is the fault of the European Union is really quite meaningless to everyone other than policy nerds and the illiterate, piss-stained-sofa-dwelling fucktards of the far-left and the rabid-right – mostly the right – who post their irate, uninformed comments on media websites, as if they mattered.

Harking back to August 2011, and the “Tottenham riots” that spread over the course of a week to Birmingham and other cities, with the deaths of 5 people and much looting and arson, however, we recall that the single most proximate cause was the police shooting dead a black suspect in a planned ambush, who had already thrown away a gun that might or might not have been his.

That seems a somewhat more concrete casus belli than a possible decision to delay or abandon the lunacy of leaving the European Union on 29 March.

But the reason for the violence, later examined in detail by handwringing liberals in the media, was much the same as the reasons we keep hearing from the few more articulate Brexit-voters for why they delivered a slap to the government over the referendum: boarded-up white working-class communities left behind by globalization and immigration, disaffected with austerity and growing inequality, are fed up with well-padded politicians making remote decisions that make ordinary people worse-off; fed up with seeing the plethora of consumer goodies in shops, images of material success that they can’t afford.

So actually, the idea that riots might accompany a bad-deal Brexit may not be so far-fetched.

 

Will we hold them to this pledge?

In the wake of an urgent think-tank report slating politicians for failing to come up with any real policies for confronting multiple environmental threats coming thick and fast on top of impending climate disaster:

“A UK government spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to leaving our environment in a better state than we found it through our 25 Year Environment Plan and the forthcoming Environment Bill.

“‘Over 25 years we will replenish depleted soils, rid our seas and rivers of the rubbish trashing our planet, cut greenhouse gas emissions, cleanse our air of toxic pollutants, and develop cleaner, more sustainable energy sources.

“‘The Environment Bill will also create a new environmental body, the Office for Environmental Protection, to hold us to account on this commitment’.” (BBC Environment)

The BogPo replies: “Seeing is believing”. Especially the bit about replenishing depleted soils, as it takes around 300 years to create a microgram of new soil.

And we don’t have 25 years, sorry.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47203344

 

Trump has the media exactly where he wants them

Kick him out!

“A BBC cameraman was violently shoved and abused during a Donald Trump rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night, in an incident the corporation described as ‘unacceptable’.

Ron Skeans “recovered to film a man in a red Make America Great Again cap being restrained and shouting: ‘Fuck the media.’ As he was led away some in the crowd at the rally could be heard chanting: ‘Let him go.'”

Good. Maybe now the BBC’s apathetic “North America Editor”, John Supine will stop normalizing and apologizing for this demented old showboater in the White House.

Even with this report of what has become a fairly humdrum assault on journalists covering Trump’s Nazi rallies, his rapturous, chanting dumbfucks doing their Saviour’s bidding, the BBC admits only that he has a fairly “strained” relationship with the media.

He doesn’t.

Trump is and has knowingly for decades been a creature of the media. In turn, he ruthlessly exploits the media’s obsession with his every fart and grunt, his every cheeseburger dream, to keep himself in the limelight.

He knows that the more he insults and mocks and chastizes them, the harder the editors think they have to try to please, and the less likely his increasingly abusive, baying fascist “base” is to believe a word anyone says against him; especially Mueller.

His relentless self-publicizing and abusive personal put-downs of even the mildest critics have but one aim: to impress the image of a successful business tycoon, which he has never been, on potential victims of his family’s scams.

These tend to be sleazy minor criminals and corrupt officials skirting the law in “developing nations”, easily impressed by Trump’s tawdry glitz and glitter. Easy marks, ready and willing to be led by the nose into improbable real estate developments involving multi-million-dollar licensing and merchandizing contracts, generally disasters from which only the Trumps walk away richer. (According to media sources.)

Trump has the media exactly where he wants them: by their tiny, fluffy little balls, which (like Eleanor Rigby and her “face”) he keeps in a jar by the door.

“Enemies of the People” they may be. Friends to Trump they surely are.

 

Can we trust economists?

Best practice

Warehouseman Mr Jeff Hayward from Clitheroe in Lancashire has won his appeal at the fifth attempt against an employability tribunal decision that, despite letters from two doctors stating he was unable to walk 50 meters, he was so obviously fit for work that he merited zero disability points.

Sadly, Mr Hayward was unable to celebrate his victory, as he died seven months ago. A Department of Work and Pensions spokesperson expressed their regrets to the family over the time taken to reach a decision, but offered them some cheery news – at least they’ll get the back-payments. (Guardian)

 

Feurquières tous!

The mayor of a town in northern France has issued a ban on excessive dog barking in a bid to curb canine noise pollution, that he says has created an unbearable situation. Dog owners in Feurquières face a €68 (£60; $77) fine for “prolonged or repeated barking”.

One woman’s dogs in particular have apparently been the cause of numerous complaints. Animal rights groups are protesting. (Guardian) The BogPo however wonders why the French mayor has calculated the fine in Euro to come out as an exactly round number in UK pounds?

Are we maybe talking Englishwoman here?

 

GW: Sweep-up in Seattle

USA: One of the more potent storms of the winter, Nadia will hit California with heavy rain, excessive high country snow and gusty winds through Thursday night (13 Feb.). The worst of the storm is forecast to focus on Central and Northern California with a heightened threat of flooding, mudslides, erosion, power outages and avalanches and road-closing snowfall in the mountains. Several inches of rain will fall on the lower and intermediate slopes of the mountains.” (Accuweather, who are forecasting 3-6 FEET more snow in the Sierra Nevada.)

Storm Maya brought up to 5 feet of snow in Washington State at the weekend. “… more than 80,000 Washington customers were without power Saturday afternoon after nearly a year’s worth of snow fell in a single day in the Seattle area.” (Wunderground) “Severe weather is expected to stretch from coast to coast Tuesday (12 Feb.), with about 100 million people under some sort of winter alert, millions facing a flood threat and more snow on the way in Seattle. Widespread rain Tuesday will continue to soak the Ohio Valley, from Arkansas to Ohio. As much as 4 inches could fall. More than 55 million people are under a flood warning, flood advisory, flash flood watch or flash flood warning across the country.” (CNN) It also snowed, unusually, in Hawaii, where a wind gust was measured at 191 mph and several houses lost their roofs.

A brief heatwave in central Texas this weekend is likely to lift February temperatures into the 90sF, mid-30s C, an all-time record, before yet another storm system sails in from the Pacific and intense rainfall returns to the midwestern states, with more flooding forecast for the middle of the week. (The Weather Channel)

Europe: 3 German skiers and 2 ski patrollers have been killed over the weekend in the Alps. Another patroller is missing. An accident in France and an avalanche in the Austrian Alps brings the number of weather-related deaths in Europe this month to 26 as heavy snow continues to paralyse parts of the continent. (Independent) Meanwhile, most of Europe will bask this week in Spring-like weather. (Severe-weather.eu) Indeed, just north of sunny Boglington, the mercury hit 17C yesterday (62F) (15 Feb.).

Indonesia: “As many as 4” people have died in flooding in West Java, Indonesia, after heavy rain that began on 7 Feb. “A disaster agency spokesperson said that the overflowing Cinambo River caused a dam to break, flooding areas in the Cilengkrang district.” (Floodlist)

Saudi Arabia: Amber warnings have been issued for more heavy rainfall, after 2 people died near Madinah on 9 Feb. More than 100 people were rescued from vehicles stuck in flooded wadis. (Floodlist)

Malawi: 8 days of continuous heavy rain between 18-24 January caused extensive flooding, evacuations and damage to property in central and southern regions. (Late report from Floodlist)

Brazil: Strong winds, torrential rain, flash flooding and landslides caused havoc in the municipality of Rio de Janeiro, 6-7 Feb. 90mm (4-in.) rain fell in just one hour. Officials said that some areas recorded more than the February average rainfall in just a few hours. Wind gusts of around 110 km/h were also recorded. (Floodlist)

Peru: “As many as 10 people have died after heavy rain, flooding and landslides since 07 Feb. President Martin Vizcarra said on 11 Feb. that 8,000 people have been affected and 1,800 made homeless. Flooding and landslides have damaged or destroyed bridges, roads, homes, health centres and schools.” And there’s more flooding in Ecuador. (Floodlist)

Australia: 1 person has died and several are in intensive care, infected with Melioidosis, a soil bacterium apparently released by the recent record floods affecting Queensland. A report from CNN notes that the Flinders river has gone from a trickle to 27 miles wide – so vast a flood that it is believed to have generated a thunderstorm. Huge volumes of soil can be seen from space, washing into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Russia: “Residents of a coalmining region in Siberia have been posting videos online showing entire streets and districts covered in toxic black snow. The scenes in the footage were described as “post-apocalyptic” by Russian media.

Black stalactites hang from trees in the Kemerevo region of Siberia. The snow is black because it binds with coal dust as it falls. (Siberian Times)

“The coal dust that turns the snow black in the Kuzbass comes from numerous open pit mines that environmental activists say have had disastrous consequences for the health of the region’s 2.6 million people. … Officials in Mysky, a town in the region, were mocked recently for painting black snow white.” (Guardian Green Light report, 15 Feb.)

Two cyclones colliding over Norilsk in Eastern Siberia earlier in the week produced up to 4 meters of snowfall. But at least it was warmer – temperatures rose to -11C. (Siberian Times)

World: The oceans are warming fast.

  • “The year 2018 passed the previous record set just the year before, in 2017; the top five years of ocean heat have come in the last five years. Last year continues a startling trend of global ocean warming that is a direct result of humans’ warming of the planet.” (CNN, from journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences). Prof. Paul Beckwith reports – the land is now warming three times faster than the sea, which until recently had absorbed over 90% of all the atmospheric warming caused by CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
  • “In the extreme, environmental breakdown could trigger catastrophic breakdown of human systems, driving a rapid process of ‘runaway collapse’ in which economic, social and political shocks cascade through the globally linked system – in much the same way as occurred in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2007-08.” The warning comes in a paper from UK thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research.
  • “CO₂ levels just reached another record high. On February 9, 2019, an average daily CO₂ level of 414.27 ppm was recorded at Mauna Loa, Hawaii.” Global CO2 level normally peaks in March/April. (Arctic News)
  • Atlantic hurricanes showed “highly unusual” upward trends in rapid intensification rates during the period 1982 – 2009 that can only be explained by including human-caused climate change as a contributing cause, according to research published last week in Nature Communications. Hurricane Maria (2017) for instance intensified by 70 mph in just 24 hours.
  • A new study is causing worries for electric car smuggies, who may lose up to 40% of their cruising range in cold weather. Fights are being reported in the lines for recharging cars at scarce charging points.

Yellowstone: the rising magma column – 300 miles long and containing enough molten material to fill the Grand Canyon 11 times over, with a core temperature measured at 2,500 F, – is now being “intensely monitored” by USGS geologists and vulcanologists. Ground heating, earthquake swarms continuing. (Mary Greeley)

 

POZI-NEWS

A great new feature accentuating the POZITIV!

By a margin of 92 to 8, “Joshua Tree and Death Valley national parks are to be enlarged, and stunning river landscapes in California and Utah will be protected, under new legislation that passed the US Senate on Tuesday. In all, the public lands package sets aside more than a million acres of new wilderness and conservation areas in western states. … The bill will go to the Democrat-controlled House next, where it’s likely to pass, and then to the president’s desk.” (Guardian, 14 Feb.)

Where it will hopefully cause the ecocidal vandal Trump to choke to death on his fucking cheeseburger.

The “very stable genius” has been frantically trying to reduce the size of protected national monument lands and encourage more fracking and opencast mining while permitting slurry runoff from mines and agricultural poisons to pollute the rivers on behalf of his pal David Murray of Murray Energy, a multi-billionaire “coal baron” and one of his biggest donors,

Mr Murray reportedly backhanded several million dollars to Trump’s highly controversial $107m Inaugural Fund, AFTER the Inauguration ceremonies were over, from which a vast amount of money appears to have gone missing without explanation, in exchange for a “wish list” which Mr Trump on assuming office immediately set about using Executive Orders to grant.

Both men have quite openly admitted without a trace of shame that, for example, Trump’s order to the Tennessee Valley Authority to reverse a decision to switch its energy supply away from a Murray Energy coalmine into renewables was as a direct result of David Murray’s paying him money.

A bribe, in other words.

And so extensive is Trump’s gluey web of corruption, fantasy and deceit, nobody even cares anymore.

 

School’s Out!

A protester on a school climate strike march in Sydney, Australia.

Schoolchildren in 60 areas of Britain were apparently striking today (15 Feb.) in sympathy with the expanding global movement begun by the scary-looking 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, from Sweden, to bring government attention back from the Brexit farrago to the very real environmental threats the rising generation are going to have to deal with, since we won’t.

You might not know this, reading the BBC’s coverage, which is a day out of date. However, on a POZITIV note, the Nailsea Comprehensive school/Oxford/Harvard-educated Claire Perry, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – who in your Old Uncle’s view should become our next Prime Minister – went on the Today programme this morning …

And smack in the face of the smug, middle-class (w)anchor Justin Webb, who has been tutting his disapproval all week, actually SUPPORTED the strike!

But you won’t read about that on the BBC News website. It would cause a revolution.

A BogPo slowly forms: Go, Munchkins. Munchkins are go!…You can’t wait until Kevin Gates… The Light fantastic… Yet stands Boglington-on-Sea… GW: No business like snow business… Not so fast: RIP George

Quote of the Month

The Tweet: “You have Walls, and you have Wheels. It was ALWAYS that way and it will ALWAYS be that way.”

The follow-up: “You know, I said to some people over the weekend, you have walls, you have wheels, and some things that never get old. They’re not gonna change.”

Donald J Trump first tweets, and then clearly explains to his bemused cabinet, why he needs $5.7 billion to build his insane border wall, that may be a fence, possibly even on wheels, who knows?

 

Go, Munchkins. Munchkins are go!

The American Treasury Secretary is a person called Steve Mnuchin. He’s not very popular, not since he was unwisely photo-opped grinning smugly next to his expensive and arrogant young wife, looking like a Russian spy or something, while gloating over a sheet of dollar bills newly printed with his name on them, as if they belonged to him.

I say “or something”, because there’s an unexpectedly heavy aroma of massive collusion potentially amounting to treason hanging over the Munchkin today, and he’s so dumb, he may not even know it.

“Here’s the wages you ain’t gettin’ paid, suckers!” The Munchkins at work and play.

It goes back to Trump, of course, and the day in 2013 when he delivered whatever remained of his soul up to the Kremlin.

It was in Moscow, and he was there to launch his tacky Miss Universe pageant, maybe get to paternally fondle a few bare asses, and there was a dinner party. Putin wasn’t present, but a baker’s dozen of his ‘cronies’ were, call it a coven – and Trump boasted excitedly afterwards like the child he is that “all the oligarchs were there”, this gang of grotesquely rich criminal billionaires who had all profited from dodgy selloffs of state assets at the people’s expense, whom he greatly admires for their enterprise.

It was then that, flattered by the attention of his idols, Trump seems to have done his fatal deal over Trump Tower Moscow, that lies at the center of everything Bob Mueller has been investigating. A gossamer sheet of lies still hangs between the President and members of his campaign team, many of whom have already been indicted and even gaoled for trying to coverup what went on, but the evidence must surely be that Trump himself presided over their actions.

And what it essentially boils down to is that, to finance possibly the biggest deal of his life, a project sold to him everso sweetly and innocently by the Russian mafiosi around his table, and dangled like a carrot by Putin – Trump allegedly offered him the $50 million penthouse suite for free if only his friend Vladimir would approve it – Trump set his team the task of privately continuing negotiations even while publicly distancing himself as a candidate for the US presidency – and beyond.

It was far from the first time that Trump had taken Russian money. In the 1980s, his failing casinos were bankrolled by a man believed to be at the head of a major crime organization, Semyon Mogilevitch. Mogilevitch associates and others subsequently acquired many Trump properties at grossly inflated prices suggestive of money-laundering. And the Trump boys have both said at one time or another that they get all the funding they need for the golf courses and so on from Russia – “we’re in and out of there all the time”, said Don Jr, breezily, even as his father was frantically lying to the nation that he had no business dealings whatever with Russia.

United in hatred of Clinton, the Russians were angling for a US administration that would lift the damaging sanctions imposed on them, and so offered to help fix the election. In return, presumably, they had agreed to find Trump the money and permissions he would need for the insanely expensive Tower he had been dreaming of building for years.

His Moscow business partner, property magnate Aras Agalarov, was behind the fixing of the 9 June, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, New York with the Kremlin lawyer, Natalya Veselnitskaya – who was indicted just five days ago on charges of providing false evidence to a New York court in an apparently unrelated case involving a $230 million tax fraud in Russia. Unrelated, that is, but for the presence in the background of another of Trump’s Russian business partners, the notorious Felix Sater, thought to have helped launder the proceeds through offshore vehicles.

And by the presence at the meeting of Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort; a meeting about whose exact purpose Trump, his family and members of his team were to lie increasingly desperately for months. (Indeed, we still don’t really know. Manafort’s history of fixing elections in Ukraine might tell us something; while the claimed purpose of obtaining “dirt” on Hillary Clinton might well relate to any leverage the St Petersburg trollfarm boys would have been able to bring to bear against the Democrats in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, of which more in a minute.)

But Putin’s own plans went far beyond a piffling few billion dollars, a penthouse and a new excrescence on Moscow’s historic skyline.

He saw an opportunity to own his very own President, who could be ordered to spin an entirely new US foreign policy that would benefit his project to restore Russia’s sphere of influence to Soviet dimensions, and perhaps beyond to the recovery of sovereign territories lost in Gorbachov’s shameful era of Glasnost and Perestroika.

Mr Trump has not let him down.

A court filing released in the past few days was so ineptly redacted by the lawyers that journalists were easily able to see behind the blacked-out sections that campaign chair Paul Manafort’s role in the plan has been exposed by Mueller.

And now Mnuchin has been summonsed by Congress to explain something quite shocking.

Manafort was himself compromised by a $19 million debt to a sanctioned Putin oligarch called Oleg Deripaska, a longtime player on the international stage, ‘friend’ of British Labour peer and former EU Trade Commissioner, Lord Peter Mandelson, that he couldn’t repay.

It now appears that the price of forgiveness was to work with a contact from the GRU, Russia’s foreign intelligence arm, one Konstantin Kilimnick, to obtain useful polling data from certain swing states, enabling the hackers in St Petersburg to focus their efforts on finding and influencing Democratic voters there, weaponizing the data.

US elections are a bizarre entanglement of rules and procedures. But the plan worked: those were the very same states where the Clinton campaign rashly felt safe enough – may even have been persuaded by covert GRU disinformation – to reduce their hustings; the three key states where, despite not having a popular majority in the country overall, on 11/9/2016 Trump had secured sufficient numbers to gain by just 77,000 votes enough delegates to win the presidency in the Electoral College.

And on 17 December 2018, the day Congress was shutting down for Christmas, it quietly slipped out into the public domain, with almost zero media coverage and no explanation, that Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, had unilaterally lifted the sanctions on some companies linked with Russia’s Aluminum Tsar, Oleg Deripaska.

The question must surely be left hanging, Cheshire-catlike, in the air: has Putin also bought himself a direct line in to the US Treasury?

They need to be told.

Urgently.

 

You can’t wait until Kevin Gates

A story of terminal frivolity

A Japanese tech startup has unveiled at the CES Tech show in Los Angeles, a touch-enabled device that performs all of the functions of a Google Home Help or an Alexa.

So what? You may ask. Do we need another spy in the corner, that can turn the lights on when you shout at it, play your favorite tunes just like Spotify, and send details of every sigh and curse you emit to an advertiser somewhere, to have your data blended into persuasive messages?

Well, yes. Because, unlike tech devices made to look uncannily like tech devices, this device is modeled on… a plank.

An ordinary, featureless wooden plank. Brown, about 14 inches long by two inches wide and maybe 3/4-inch deep.

You know, the plank that usually serves as a metaphor for stupidity, as in: “(Former Brexit Secretary) David Davis is as thick as two short planks”.

The kind that if you found it lying around the house, you’d chuck it out in the shed thinking, that might come in useful for something someday; knowing deep down it never will.

Touch the plank, however, and miraculously control buttons light up out of the bare wood, and words and numerals and numerous icons and slidy things are obtained, Lord knows how, because there was no sign of them under the smooth grain of the plank, but there they are.

The plank is interactive.

You can talk to the plank, too. Surely, one of the great marketing concepts.

And when middle-aged white-guy and overweighting BBC substitute techie teenager, Rory Cellan-Jones asks it to demonstrate, he slowly and deliberately asks the plank, which is called Mui, “What’s the weather like today, Mui?”

And slowly the plank lights up, words appear, and it replies:

“You can’t wait until Kevin Gates.”

Thus proving that, at least, it recognizes a verb when it sees one.

I fear the end may be nigher than we think.

 

The Light fantastic…

And indeed, so does Dr Malcolm Light, earth systems scientist.

Interestingly, I posted a Comment on The Guardian website that referred readers to the following story just now, and for some unknown reason, my Comment disappeared a few minutes later, without even a note to say it had been Moderated. You’ll maybe see why.

A new report on the website Arctic-news.blogspot.com (7 Jan.) makes for chilling reading in a warming world:

“Recent data from the Arctic confirm an exponential rise in the temperature anomaly of the Arctic stratospheric methane which is now 65 degrees C above the normal, while it was only 20 degrees C above the normal, 6 to 8 years ago. Using this data and the recent … estimates of the minimum Arctic ice shelf volume it is now possible to estimate the timing of the Arctic – Permian style methane blowout firestorm.”

Indeed, Dr Light estimates that on present trends, after the initial eruption in 2021 we should have about another year before the “methane burp” – the anticipated rapid outgassing of explosive methane from the Arctic ocean floor predicted by Arctic researcher, Dr Natalya Shakhova – pushes global temperature by 10C and boils us all “like lobsters”.

“The Major Arctic Permian Style, Methane Blowout – Firestorm Event which will cause the release of some 50 Gt of methane from the Arctic shelf and slope (Shakhova, 2010), a 10 Degree Centigrade Rise in Mean Global Atmospheric Temperatures causing a Catastrophic Permian Style Global Extinction Event, is timed to begin on 4th September, 2021. There is a 95% probability that the Arctic Ice Shelf will have Zero Volume by the 5th of September 2022.”

And thus, by September 2023 it’s game over. The one positive being that we shan’t have to worry about Brexit anymore, as the global backstop looks pretty final.

I know we all feel a bit like this in January, but this is looking a bit serious. Dr Light, late of the Centre for Polar Observation and Monitoring, goes on with the use of many dire capital letters to advise:

“Do not worry about dying as it comes to all of us in the end, only this time we will all be going together. The Earth will soon after, lose all its oceans and become ‘Venus Like’.”

As he explained in a 2014 interview:

“There are such massive methane reserves below the Arctic Ocean floor (more than 5000 billion tons of methane carbon) that they represent around 100 times the amount that is required to cause a Permian style major extinction event, should about one percent of the sub-sea Arctic methane be released into the atmosphere. There are also giant reservoirs of mantle methane, originally sealed in by shallow methane hydrate plugs in fractures cutting the Arctic seafloor. Unfortunately for us, global warming has heated up the oceanic currents fed by the Gulf Stream flowing into the Arctic, causing massive destabilization of the sub-sea methane hydrates…”

There is no technological fix for this problem; it’s not CO2, shutting the factories and power plants and permanently parking the cars while we build more windmills won’t change anything. CO2 has done its work already: putting Earth on course for an uninhabited hothouse world.

 

Borderline nuts

A GoFundMe campaign to persuade fellow Trump supporters to donate to a $1 billion fund to contribute to building the President’s insane wall running 2,000 miles along the border with Mexico has raised just $20 million. A significant amount, but only 2 per cent of the target.

And because the President stamped his dainty little foot and abused his powers to shut large swathes of the Government down, holding 800 thousand poorly paid Government workers, their families and local shopkeepers hostage to his demented fantasy, there’s nobody in position within the administration to accept the donations anyway.

So, having failed to meet the stated objective the organizers have had to switch the basis of the appeal to the funding of a private company that plans to go ahead and build the wall themselves. the wall for which the President wants $5.7 billion.

Which means refunding the original donations.

And we think Britain is a divided nation in which a bunch of calculating thugs in yellow tabards is yelling at the smart people that they’re not happy and it’s all our fault.

Indeed so confused have things become, that violent ultra-nationalist protestors on the far-right are accusing Remain-leaning MPs in the centre of both left and right parties of being Nazis.

 

Yet stands Boglington-on-Sea

A project funding ‘expert’ has described a suggestion by the Energy minister that Britain could fund future nuclear power stations by offering developers more of the future revenues up-front – at cost to the consumer – as: “A desperate leap in the dark”. (BBC)

Hmmmn.

Speaking of darkness, I collared a young lad on the footpath yesterday evening while out walking dogs (he being the only other person around, the son of a neighbour), and asked him to witness something rather strange I had observed.

My phone battery had died and there would never be any other evidence.

Away over on the horizon was a blood-red sunset. I’d watched it turn from a shimmering pinkish glow and grow brighter and redder and broader, until it consumed the whole of a bank of low cloud; while directly up above, a flocculent cloudscape outlined against a pale blue sky was turning fiery pink.

So it was sunset! I hear you jeer. What’s so unusual about that?

Yes. Except that the sun normally sets in the west. Due west, across the town. And this was in the south-west, down the coast. Where the sun should have been setting remained resolutely grey.

It was a phenomenon (we don’t say ‘phenomena’ for the singular, as the idiots now do. ‘Phenomena’ is the name of a 2013 film directed by Steve Coogan and starring Dame Judy Dench) to rival another I had witnessed only a few nights before.

Being dragged out by Hunzi for his last-gasp walk, at about 11.15 p.m., through the darkness we observed the sky over the town had turned a bright, fiery red. It honestly looked as though some huge conflagration had broken out and was being reflected back by clouds. But no sirens could be heard.

I hastened to a better vantage point where no buildings intruded. It was so bright, I was able to take photographs. Ultimately, my excitement died down and I realized, it was only the sodium street lights of the town refracted in a bank of sea-mist.

Yet stands Boglington-on-Sea.

 

GW: No business like snow business

Europe: up to 3 meters of snow on high ground in Austria and SE Germany generated red warnings, and there have been casualties from avalanches and falling trees: 12 dead to date, with more snow forecast for the weekend. Northern Greece registered a low of -23C but more southerly Greek temperatures are expected back up to 17C with intense rainstorms forecast – social media photos are circulating of snow on the beaches near Athens. (Guardian/Wunderground)

USA: Unusually, the whole of the United States from coast to coast is in a low-temperature anomaly, without the pattern of cold-east, hot-west we’ve seen for the past two years at least. Temperatures in places like Santa Fe were barely above freezing. “Winter Storm Gia will spread a swath of snow and some ice from parts of the Rockies, Plains and Midwest to the mid-Atlantic into this weekend, making travel a challenge in these areas. Gia was named late Thursday afternoon as the number of people in winter storm warnings surpassed 2 million. (The Weather Channel)

Update: The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation order for residents below the Thomas Fire and Sherpa/Whittier Fire burn areas, as a (second) winter storm bears down on the Central Coast. (Mary Greeley). The third, fast-moving storm in the series to hit California is expected to move into the area Tuesday into early Wednesday with a potential for rain and snow in the higher elevations. The fourth system, expected to be the strongest and wettest of the three, will hit the area Wednesday and Thursday. Debris flows and mudslides are likely in areas where heavy rain hits burn areas. (The Weather Channel)

Australia: And after a few cyclonic days, Roasting Matilda is back. “Low-intensity heatwave conditions have been forecast across parts of central Western Australia to southern parts of the Northern Territory, southwestern Queensland and across New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Every state and territory will bake through a heatwave on Monday with meteorologists saying soaring temperatures (up to 45C, 113F) will last for days in some parts.” (Guardian)

 

End News…

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser, largest in the park, has erupted for the first time in 2019, on 04 Jan., after a year in which 33 eruptions were recorded – 4 more than in the previous record year, 1964. The average is 2 or 3 a year. Ground uplift and water temperatures continuing to rise as 300 cubic miles of magma makes its way toward the surface. (Mary Greeley website)

Update: ground shaking, small quakes, magma rising, sulphur dioxide emissions off the scale…. just sayin’ (Mary Greeley)

Trump shutdown: “The 99th meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) is being held this week in Phoenix, Arizona, but a huge hole in the meeting has been created by the absence of U.S. government scientists, who were denied attendance due to the ongoing government shutdown. At least 700 scientists who were scheduled to attend could not, leading to the cancellation or last-minute rearrangement of about a quarter of all of the talks.” (Wunderground)

Anyone would think Trump is doing this deliberately.

 

Not so fast: RIP George

‘George’, the last surviving Hawaiian Tree Snail, has died at the ripe old age of 14.

The story of Achatinella apexfulva is a paradigm for the ignorance and stupidity with which humans have approached the “stewardship” of the planet.

Had it not been for an outbreak of snail disease in the study colony, where the last of the species clung on in captivity, and but for 250 years of human depredation – before Europeans arrived the snail had no natural predators – perhaps the once abundant species might have hung around in the trees a while longer.

But its extinction was assured following the the deliberate introduction in 1955 of the predatory Rosy Wolf Snail, which was supposed to get rid of the accidentally introduced Giant African Snail but set about feasting on all the other species as well.

On New Year’s Day 2019, the Hawaiian Tree Snail was declared extinct. (Guardian Green Light)