The Pumpkin – Issue 32. Let’s see the color of your money, Mr President. Granny Weatherwax, 29-31 August: not getting better all the time (Post under construction)

I’m collecting for Ivanka’s kids. So needy. That’s right, whatever you are, please give generously, I’ve called for ICE backup, you’ll be on your way home to Mexico shortly…

 

“…let’s see the multibillionaire tax-dodging shareholders drive their fucking superyachts into Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur to save the people drowning.”

Let’s see the color of your money, Mr President

President Trump has ‘personally pledged’ $1 million to swell the Congress-approved $5.5 billion fund for the 400,000 victims of Hurricane Harvey flooded out of their homes last week. Thirty-two thousand are still huddled in shelters, and it’s not over yet.

The eventual bill has been put at possibly $130 billion.

Who will rescue him, and tens of thousands like him?

It’ll be interesting to see if, when and how he actually pays this money. (Rumor has it, he’s already rescinded the offer.) His personal tax-exempt Trump Foundation has made numerous declarations in the past about its generous charity donations, all of which have been denied by the supposed recipients who say they’ve never seen a penny.

If he does stump up, and it’s his own money, not skimmed off the growing budget for his Re-election Campaign 2020, then it might go some way towards mitigating the horrible effects of his – Steve Bannon’s, Bob Mercer’s – ‘shrink the State’ policy.

Because when you have emergencies and disasters on this scale, you do sort of need a central Government, with real people in it and real money behind it.

The possibility of Hurricane Irma hitting New York city next weekend as a Cat 5 (see below) with a tidal surge through Manhattan higher than that caused by Hurricane Sandy, followed by several feet of rain and 180 mph sustained winds over a period of hours or days, coming on top of Harvey, could leave the government looking to find possibly half a trillion dollars to clear up the mess.

And that’s before the bills roll in for States already facing huge costs related to many other flooding episodes this summer, infrastructure damage and the costs of tackling wildfires; which Oregon alone estimates at $100 million.

But the money’s not there. Congress has yet to see detailed 2017/18 budget proposals, let alone debate and pass them. The Government is due to run out of road financially on 29 September. And Trump’s headline budget is all about tax cuts for corporations and wealthy investors, not about fishing ordinary people out of bayous and drying out their homes.

Since his underwhelming inauguration parade, Trump has vowed to slash the budget for FEMA, the federal emergencies management administration that is the first line of Federal support in the event of a disaster like Harvey; burn the budget for compensating underinsured flood victims (the fund is already $24 bn in the red); and blow-up the budget of NASA, particularly its climate monitoring and research programs.

He’s appointed mentally unhinged, corrupt and unqualified rogue incompetents to the strategically vital positions of Secretary for Energy and Director of the Environment Protection Agency; the Parks and Agriculture and financial policy departments, even the State Department, are headed by morally bankrupt placemen on under-the-counter corporate payrolls: the middle tiers of all their administrations are gutted and empty, or silenced.

He’s greenlit more pipeline-fed refinery developments in the highly concentrated southern Texas energy bidness, where overdevelopment of former flood-absorbing wetlands was in large part responsible for exacerbating the misery last week; and where chemical pollution from damaged plant is a major health hazard.

Trump has still to appoint a Director of NOAA, the national weather bureau, as he doesn’t believe in the existence of weather; it’s all a Chinese plot – and has commanded the rollback of environmental legislation from the Obama years, including an order requiring property developers and local planners to take proper account of environmental risks.

Without wishing to deluge the victims of Harvey with a trillion gallons of schadenfreude, if this is the best he can do to protect ordinary Americans from the obviously worsening extremes of climate disruption and industrial pollution, this miserable apology for a President, this bunco artist, can shove his piddling $million up his fat, hairy, orange ass.

He doesn’t give a fuck about you!

Let’s see corporations; let’s see the multibillionaire tax-avoiding shareholders drive their fucking superyachts into Houston and Port Arthur to save the people drowning.

 

“This slow-moving beast could make Hurricane Harvey look like a summer shower”

Granny Weatherwax, 29-31 August: not getting better all the time

USA: Harvey’s third bite at the Gulf coast in a week, with renewed storm-force winds, pushes up into Louisiana and Kentucky, dumping another 30 inches of water. Galveston, Beaumont, Port Arthur, Richmond, East Texas all hit again and underwater. Many homes, some shelters flooded, refugees moved on again.

California: wreathed in smoke from wildfires, ‘dangerous’ high September temperatures forecast for the Labor Day weekend – general warning for up to 115F (46C) inland. “Heat-related illnesses overwhelmed San Francisco hospitals on Friday, according to the Bay Area NWS office.” 106F in San Francisco on Friday and still 86F overnight uncomfortably exceeded records for over 150 years.  Fire raging near Burbank, LA – evacuations reported in Butte County, near Oroville lake.

Yemen: intense monsoon rains now flooding the south of the country, Lahij province underwater, 15 killed – coming on top of extreme heat, civil war, Saudi bombing, widespread famine conditions threatening 7 million and a large-scale cholera outbreak.

Turkey: Istanbul hit again, torrential rain, storm-force winds, flash floods. Similar story in SW Turkey, city of Denizili hit by powerful storm, large hailstones, streets turned to rivers of ice.

Spain: flash floods rip through towns in Zaragoza province. More ‘rivers of ice’ flow through medieval town streets.

Europe: more wildfires in Valle Subequana, around Secinaro, Abruzzo, central Italy. Latest weather warning for much of Italy from the national forecasting service, possible risk from storms bringing high winds, could fan fires. Threat of disruption due to more heavy rain forecast for Austria and Hungary. Heatwave is now confined to the Balkans – Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, followed by disruptive thunderstorms.

France: 15  injured, two seriously, by lightning at a music festival in the north-east of France. Several bolts of lightning struck the Vieux Canal festival in the town of Azerailles.

UK: Sport fishermen catch second 500-lb Yellowfin tuna off the coast of Wales. Many fish species said to be moving northwards as oceans warm.

Pakistan: extensive flooding in Karachi. 16 deaths reported, parts of the city impassable. (Why do selfish idiots keep on trying to drive in 3ft of water and have to be rescued at the risk of other people’s lives? Video from around the world suggests, tens of thousands of cars may have been severely damaged or destroyed in this summer’s storms – an insurers’ nightmare?)

Indonesia: Towns of Banjir Bandang and Balikpapan, Borneo – underwater.

China: In the wake of Typhoon Hato and Tropical Storm Pakhar, comes Tropical Storm Mawar, set to make landfall in the next day or so just to the NE of Hong Kong, near Shantou, bringing more heavy rain and flooding. 

Nigeria: Benue State – towns flooding. 100,000-plus people affected. More flooding too in Niger, where the death toll is now 44 and thousands evacuated. In Sierra Leone, the death toll from the Sugarloaf Mountain collapse near Freetown last month has unofficially exceeded one thousand. Heavy rains continuing.

Argentina: violent thunderstorm over La Plata – intense rainfall, hail floods streets. Press reports: ‘7 minutes of chaos’ – several inches of rain causes flooding.

Colombia: intense rainfall floods-out towns in Santa Marta province.

Mexico: Valle Dorado, Cuautitlan and Mexico City, violent flash flooding follows intensive rainfall. Airport underwater. Huge Tropical Storm system, Lidia making landfall NW Mexico, Baja California.

Russia: 12 waterspouts form simultaneously off the coast at Sochi, Black Sea republic.

Hurricane Irma: one out of a reducing number of possible scenarios, NOAA predicted track has Irma making landfall North Carolina/New Jersey/ New York next weekend as a Cat 5, the maximum category, with sustained windspeeds of 181 mph.

This slow-moving beast could make Hurricane Harvey look like a summer shower. Other potential targets include the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, Costa Rica, Florida – or the Gulf. And trailing behind it, another ‘African Wave’ system with the potential to develop into something more – if a hurricane would be named José -and two more still over West Africa heading towards the Atlantic.

Buckle up.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #61/ NOAA/ Weather Underground (NBC)/ BBC Weather

 

 

Advertisements

The BogPo says: Let’s boo the whole rotten sport! Just another woman, making a go of it. Keepin’ it cool with Granny Weatherwax. Van News Weekly.

Could have been among the greats: Justin Gatlin.

“…no commentator dares to mention his name without prefacing it with ‘drugs cheat’.”

Let’s boo the whole rotten sport

If Justin Gatlin was roundly booed by the near-capacity crowd at the World Athletics championships in London last Saturday, most people think he has only himself to blame.

The 35-year-old sprinter is a controversial character who has twice served penalty bans for drug offences. Most people if asked would say they favour a lifetime ban on athletes caught cheating even once, but then people are an unforgiving lot until they get into trouble themselves, or their children and best mates do, and then it’s always somebody else’s fault.

Few, one suspects, are capable of unpacking the words ‘drugs cheat’ to understand the differences between substances that might in other circumstances be considered perfectly innocuous, and those that genuinely enhance performance. Perhaps they even take medication themselves that would fail a WADA test. The rules for athletes are pretty harsh, as is the testing regime.

One infringement might have been forgiven but two has made Gatlin the Mephistopheles of athletics. A shame, because without this monkey on his back, the powerful Floridan could well have been among the greats of the 100 and 200 metre sprints. Instead, he’s in a sinkhole.

So detested is Gatlin, so toxic the climate within athletics over the doping issue that no commentator dares to mention his name without prefacing it with ‘drugs cheat’. That he was being booed more possibly because he had the bad manners to beat the hugely popular Usain Bolt in his farewell 100 metres final , running what was actually a clever tactical race against an under-par champion –  is a secondary consideration.

British athletics is furious that the 2012 London Olympics produced some 23 subsequent revisions of drug test results leading to the withdrawal of medals and the cancelling of record times, weights and throws. A hundred and seventeen more athletes were disqualified before the games had even begun. It’s been claimed by insiders that one in ten athletes are probably cheating.

Those results and the hideous sham that was Vladimir Putin’s personally sponsored cheating programme at the Sochi Winter Olympics have led to a two-year (so far) ban on official Russian teams and a major upheaval in the International Athletics Federation.

Gatlin’s first ban resulted from a trace of an amphetamine he claimed must have been in a prescription drug he’d been taking since childhood for ADHD. His appeal against a two-year ban was successful. The second offence was for testosterone, a muscle-building hormone detected six years later, which he could not explain.

My own view is that it takes more than one person to cheat in athletics. According to Wikipedia:

“Gatlin was coached by Trevor Graham. Among athletes Graham has coached, eight have tested positive or received bans for performance-enhancing drugs. After Gatlin’s failed test, Graham stated in an interview that Gatlin had been sabotaged. He blamed massage therapist Christopher Whetstine for rubbing a creme with testosterone onto Gatlin’s buttocks without his knowledge. The therapist denied the claim, saying: “Trevor Graham is not speaking on behalf of Justin Gatlin and the story about me is not true.”

“On August 22, 2006, Gatlin accepted an eight-year ban from track and field, avoiding a lifetime ban in exchange for his cooperation with the doping authorities, and because of the “exceptional circumstances” surrounding his first positive drug test. Gatlin appealed against the ban; an arbitration panel reduced it to four years at a hearing in December 2007.”

How easy is it for sport-addicted youngsters to challenge what their coaches tell them to do, or have the knowledge to question the legality of substances they are being administered by physiotherapists and team doctors?

While lesser rival athletes continue to twist the knife, raising eyebrows publicly whenever Gatlin runs, there is no denying his prowess and there have been no further testing problems since his return to the track seven years ago. He is undoubtedly a great athlete. He beat Bolt by one-hundredth of a second to win the 100 metres at the Golden Gala meet in Rome in June 2013, and lost to the taller, younger man by just 0.1 of a second at both the Beijing and Rio Olympics. The rivalry was similarly close over 200 metres.

One could describe the booing as unsportsmanlike and unfair. The British press has manifested its usual revolting partisanship. It has been harder to know whether they disapprove of his past cheating or of a ‘gatecrasher’ (as The Telegraph called Gatlin, who holds many records in a long if interrupted career) having the gall to beat their people’s hero. Which is to ignore the fact that Bolt was also beaten into third place by another American, the promising youngster Chris Coleman – who barely rates a mention in any of the press coverage.

It was almost as if the other runners were expected to throw the race to let the hero Bolt go out on one last high. Wouldn’t that have been as bad as cheating? Typical was The Sunday Sun:

Usain Bolt sunk as drugs cheat Justin Gatlin ruins golden goodbye by storming to 100m gold

Bolt showed characteristic sportsmanship, hugging his tearful rival as the boos rang out.

Gatlin is probably no more a ‘drugs cheat’ than hundreds of other athletes, and in a different time would have been regarded even on his reduced record as a great sprinter. The minefield of anti-doping regulations makes conforming to an absolute ideal virtually impossible for most ‘human’ beings, who are subject to illness, injuries, wear and tear.

Testosterone taken over time builds the kind of fast muscle that enables a sprinter to explode out of the blocks and is therefore an obvious candidate to be banned, although it occurs naturally in the body. Amphetamines can stimulate performance and stamina, but don’t persist.

So there are grounds for questioning Gatlin’s right to run. But he ran within the rules, apparently clean for the past six years. Despite that, 24 hours later the BBC Sports unit is still discussing what they are calling his ‘controversial win’. It seems he has a right to run, but not to win.

The sneers and jeers and evident distrust of a man who came from a deprived background in rural Florida to become the oldest man ever to win an individual Olympic sprint medal and one of the five fastest men in Olympic history do little credit to the armchair athletes.

Nor to veteran miler Lord Coe, the IAAF president, whose own position as regards ‘who knew – and how much was in the envelope?’ over the doping scandal in the past has previously been questioned, along with his well-funded years as a global ambassador for Nike sportswear.

Coe made clear at the trackside his distaste that Gatlin was allowed to run. But doping violations are just the tip of an iceberg of corruption in international sport, that goes all the way up to national federation officials motivated by easy money and the desire for medals and national glory at any cost.

If we’re going to boo Justin Gatland, let’s boo the whole rotten sport.

 

Just another woman, making a go of it

Worse if anything than the media hoopla over Bolt’s ruined Last Run, Gatlin’s disgraceful victory, Sir Mo Farah’s amazingly predictable third World Championship win in his last-ever 10,ooo metres on Friday night, is the curious fact that the media has barely acknowledged the arrival of an athlete who seems destined to become one of the great female distance runners of all time.

Almaz destroyed a top-class field to win the 10,000 metres.

The tiny Almaz Ayana, 25, running in only her first race of the 2017 season owing to injuries, set off after ten laps and over the next twenty minutes totally demolished a field of 30 supposedly top  athletes to win the women’s 10,000 metres by a distance of 330 metres – more than half a lap. In the process she lapped the entire field apart from the small following pack, some of them twice.

After a few admiring words, no fuss at all has been made of the dominant young Ethiopian. Not our idea of a celebrity, perhaps.

And the amazing thing is, her London performance – though not another world record – repeated her incredible run in Rio last year, when she trashed another world-class field to break the existing 23-years-old record by an incredible 14 seconds, and still appeared to be accelerating effortlessly at the finish. It left your Uncle Bogler in tears, again. Oh dear. As the Mail on Sunday reported:

“Olympic champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia produced an extraordinary display in her first race of the season winning the world 10,000 metres title by almost a minute on Saturday. The 25-year-old, who smashed the world record when winning in Rio last year, finished over 46 seconds clear of her legendary compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba, the three-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion.”

Why wasn’t this THE story from the weekend? Maybe the clue was in the Mail story that greeted her win at Rio 2016: “Disbelief at amazing 10,000m. world record: a hefty dose of scepticism accompanied Almaz Ayana’s gobsmacking victory…” Or maybe it was just that it wasn’t the men’s 100 metres, a 9.8-seconds thriller in an era when attention spans are getting shorter by the hour?

The story went on to quote Sarah Lahti, who finished 12th and set a Swedish record of 31:28.43: ‘I do not really believe she is 100 per cent. It is too easy for her. We see no facial expressions.’ So that’s proof then. Although I don’t think Botox is on the banned substances list? Doubt was further cast when an Ethiopian squad coach was found with drugs in his hotel room. And even the previous women’s world record, set by China’s Wang Jungxia in 1993, was suspected at the time to have been drug-assisted.

Oh, well, I guess she’s just another woman.

But Lahti’s kind of reaction has become typical, any ebullience over a possibly unlikely sporting success now being tempered with a heavy dose of cynicism. Gatlin may not be entirely responsible – we’re sceptical enough about our own national cycling hero Sir Bradley Wiggins and his mystery Deliveroo pharmaceuticals – but his story is symptomatic of how money and greed have poisoned the well for the entire sporting sphere.

x

“…we don’t have an automatic right to win everything.”

As if our moral outrage over other sprinters being allowed to beat a below-par Usain Bolt into third place weren’t enough, we’re now being enjoined to hate the South African Caster Semenya, who pipped Britain’s sweetheart Laura Muir into fourth place in the women’s 1500 metres heats last night.

Caster Semenya: let her run.

Never mind that after taking on the role of pacemaker right from the start, Muir made the tactical error of slowing the race from a 64-seconds first lap to a 71-seconds second lap, thus failing to break the field, and left herself too little in reserve for a final sprint to the tape after she was swallowed up by the chasing pack.

Ho no, the fact that she did well to hang on for fourth place and qualify for the final in which she managed sixth was entirely eclipsed by Semenya’s hyperandrogenism, a hormonal condition that makes her look all big and muscly and flat-chested, and run like a bloke.

No matter that the race was actually won by the distinctly female-looking world champion, the Kenyan Kipyegon, over whose gender there can surely be no quibble; and that America’s experienced 30-year-old Simpson ran a near-perfect race, darting through in the final split-second to take silver.

No, as far as some sections of the British media and partisan crowd were concerned Muir’s failure to medal was entirely down to the cheating of Semenya, who should be taken away and force-fed with oestrogen until she grows a pair. Worse, this response has become a regular feature of the coverage whenever she runs: ‘is she or isn’t she?’, despite the IAAF clearing her after successive medical examinatiuons.

Remarkably, the Daily Mail leapt to her defence, arguing: “The treatment of Caster Semenya has been shameful… show her some respect and let her run.”

Will we ever grow up and understand that just because we’re British, or in this case Scottish, we don’t necessarily have an automatic God-given right to win everything all the time?

x

Keepin’ it cool with Granny Weatherwax

(Photo: Thepetshow.com/Google Images)

The Lancet reports, excess heat could kill up to 150,000 more people a year by the end of the century – very possibly within your children’s lifetime. That’s just in Europe. Though it  rather presupposes the Sixth Great Extinction won’t have run its course long before then.

Europe: still in the grip of a 40 deg+ heatwave, expected to relent gradually after Wednesday.

Italy: Extreme heat, storms in north. More fires across south. Drought persists in Italy’s grainbelt, 60% + crop losses across all outputs. Deliveries to northern markets failing. Water shortages looming.

Greece: extreme heat. Island of Kythira ablaze. The entire Aegean area has been plagued by earthquake swarms in recent weeks.

Austria: powerful thunderstorms trigger flash floods affecting mountain communities.

Russia: noonday temperature currently (7 Aug) in Norilsk, northernmost city in Siberia, 21C, 72.6F. Recklessly, desperate authorities have started chemically seeding clouds to combat wildfires consuming the Taiga.

Japan: Typhoon Noru claims two lives in Kyushu, moves on over Honshu main island, bringing 60cm rain in 48 hours. Flash floods in Osaka area. More heavy rain following on behind.

China: Heavy rain affecting the northeast up into Mongolia. Flash flooding, 100 thousand people affected, 25,000 acres of crops damaged. Liaoning – 1,000 flood refugees trapped on higher ground by rising water, being rescued again. Two dead, 350,000 affected in Jiling province. Damage estimated at $700 million.

India: Ten dead, new widespread flooding in Uttarakhand. ‘Huge loss’ of property. More heavy rain forecast.

Pakistan: “At least 5 killed and others injured after floods and landslides in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. Meteorological Department issued warnings for glacial lake outburst floods after heavy rain and temperatures up to 5 degrees higher than normal (caused) ice to melt.” 116 people have died as a result of flooding or landslides in Pakistan since the start of this year’s monsoon.

Korea: extreme heatwave continues.

USA: again, New Orleans experiences flooding with up to 3ft of water as a tropical storm brings up to 10 inches of rain in 4 hrs to the city. “The rate of rainfall in many neighborhoods of the city was one of the highest recorded in recent history.” New York State is on flash flood alert, as is Manhattan, with more heavy rain also forecast across Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Delaware. A ‘rare’, out-of-season tornado causes casualties and damage in Toledo, Ohio.

USA: Las Vegas, Nevada – one victim died and 7 others were rescued after flash floods in two areas of the city. Flash flooding submerged parts of Kansas City, shutting down parts of highway I-35 and flooding other streets across the city. Vehicles were submerged and drivers left stranded by flood water.

USA: Staff at the US Department of Agriculture have been told to avoid using the term “climate change” in their work, with officials instructed to reference “weather extremes” instead. The primary cause of human-driven climate change is also targeted, with the term “reduce greenhouse gases” blacklisted in favor of “build soil organic matter”.* Sound policy indeed. Dig more shit in, the BogPo says. (The Guardian, 7 Aug.)

Mexico: Tropical storm Franklin now building over the Caribbean is expected to head across the Yucatan Peninsula towards the capital, Mexico City, bringing up to 300mm of rain.

Venezuela: as if the country doesn’t have enough to worry about, severe flooding after days of torrential rain has caused several major rivers including the Orinoco to burst their banks, with about ten thousand people affected. Well done Floodlist for reporting this four days after the event.

Arabian peninsula: It’s currently 43C, 117F in Baghdad and Kuwait, a little cooler in Riyadh – only 40C. Across North Africa temperatures are in the high 30s to mid 40s currently: 95 – 100F. Not as bad as July and August the last two years when searing 50C + heat killed hundreds. The forecast is for temperatures ‘building across the week’. Satellite map shows virtually no cloud cover across the region. Long drought is causing severe crop losses in Egypt.

Africa: heavy rains persisting across mid-western and central Africa, eg. Nigeria. Bad news for elusive anteaters:

On the way out: the only living species of the order Tubulidentata.

“Hotter temperatures are taking their toll on the aardvark, whose diet of ants and termites is becoming scarcer in some areas because of reduced rainfall, according to a study released Monday. Drought in the Kalahari desert killed five out of six aardvarks that were being monitored for a year, as well as 11 others in the area…”

World: despite the record heatwaves in Europe, Asia and the US west and midwest, provisional global weather data give July as only the second hottest on record, after 2016; it seems Antarctica has been letting the side down. The US NOAA report for June states:

“June 2017 was characterized by warmer to much-warmer-than-average conditions across much of the world’s land and ocean surface. The most notable warm temperature departures from average were present across much of central Asia, western and central Europe, and the southwestern contiguous U.S. where temperature departures from average were 2.0°C (3.6°F) or greater. … Overall, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature for June 2017 was 0.82°C (1.48°F) above the 20th century average of 15.5°C (59.9°F) and the third highest June temperature in the 138-year record, behind 2016 (+0.92°C / +1.66°F) and 2015 (+0.89°C / +1.60). June 2017 marks the 41st consecutive June and the 390th consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average.”

The good news for climate-change deniers is that the mysterious North Atlantic Cold Spot is persisting; hence our indifferent summer here in the west of Britain. Scientists imagine it’s caused by the Gulf Stream losing energy and sinking, allowing colder water from the Arctic to move south. The bad news is, the cold water is being replaced by warmer water flooding from the Pacific up through the Bering Strait, leading to further loss of ice cover.

Strangest of all: U. of Ottawa’s much-Followed climatologist and vlogger, Prof Paul Beckwith reports that on July 20, for the first time he believes in history, the weakening and fragmenting northern and southern jetstreams both crossed the equator at various points all around the globe into one another’s hemispheres, pulling hot and cold air masses with them and creating a huge vortex over the Pacific. This chaotic mixing is attributable to rapidly warming water in the Arctic and has no predictable weather outcomes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJYWvnuA9w8&t=563s

Climate and Extreme Weather News #51/ D Mail/  NW Global temperature report/ Floodwatch/ NOAA/ Paul Beckwith/ the Guardian/ local weather reports.

*Footnote: actually the BogPo finds the phrase ‘climate change’ to be far too wishy-washy and unthreatening a concept. What does it mean? It is itself the politically correct solution to the problem of what to call this existential threat to humanity. ‘Climate chaos’ or ‘weird weather’ would be a better description.

Scientists are far too cautious and media unsavvy. Precisely because they are not ‘a community’, have no organization or finance, they have as yet found no means of countering the slick PR messages, myth-making and outright lies of the denial conspiracy. Who cares about the ‘truth’ anymore? Let ’em have it with both barrels. We’re fucked, okay? Suck it up, people of Earth.

 x

Go on, give it a go! BogPo’s Project of the Week. (Google Images)

“I’m beginning to wonder if this is not some sort of metatextual situation comedy…”

Van News Weekly

An unmistakeable waft of cannabis hangs in the air of the busy street.

So he’s out there again today, my neighbour, fitting a green carpet into the back of his little white van, parked illegally as usual on the pavement, right on the corner of the main road.

(That’s the vehicle he sometimes advertises  – though not today, your friendly ‘man and van’ – that he will use to cart your garbage off to the recycling centre a mile down the road. In palatial comfort, obviously.)

There are half a dozen bolts of carpeting piled on the pavement next to the van, that they’ve been trying out. The carpets presumably came from the same source as the motorbike they loaded into the back last week, i.e. very possibly off another van.

My neighbour and two younger ‘helpers’ in shorts, vests and baseball caps have been at it all morning, fitting that little piece of carpet in the back, flexing their tattoos in the sunny intervals, enjoying the bantz, assisted by loud music. After a break for lunch they’re back at it again.

Fitting 1.5 sq yd of carpet in the back of a van, were I moved to do such a thing, is a job that might take me an hour at the most to do really nicely. It would probably take my hi-to mate from over the estate, Gareth Carpets, about ten minutes. And I’m not even working-class.

I’m beginning to wonder if this is not some sort of metatextual situation comedy, like The Office, whose point I am clearly missing.

Postscriptum

It’s twenty to ten at night, Day 4 of their holiday, and they’re still out in the garden having another fitful conversation I can hear through the wall. What do they find to argue about? Occasionally an angry young man can be heard going off the rails. Happily an entire day of rain is forecast for tomorrow.

The Boglington Post: Wimbledon: Enough. Who? Your filter-bubbles will not protect you. A not-unattractive moustache on the face of a woman..

Enough.

I’m watching the emotional breakdown of a fiercesomely black-bearded man of 28, 6’6″ in height, who looks like he might be losing a game of tennis barely before it has begun.

Former US Open winner, Marin Cilic is sitting on the sideline of the packed Centre Court at Wimbledon in tears, at three games and a set down after only half an hour, in the second set of the men’s final against the Swiss master, Roger Federer – at 35 an older man whom he has beaten in matches before, but who on this occasion will not allow his record eighth victory here to be denied.

You’d think seven would be enough for anyone.

Cilic is a brilliant, agile, powerful player with a deadly accurate 130 mph serve, but after two weeks of battering five-set tennis against players of his own stature in the crucible of the Centre Court he bears the entire weight of expectation of the people of Croatia, his impoverished Balkan homeland, and there is little he appears to be able to get right in this, his first Wimbledon final, against a player uplifted by his delirious corps of fans, who has run through his opponents so far without losing a set.

That Cilic will take home £1.1 million as the losing finalist means nothing compared with his national pride.

We have seen too many players recently who are being emotionally destroyed by the pressures of this demanding singles game. That includes our own darling of the Centre Court, the driven Andy Murray, who disintegrated in front of our eyes on winning his Olympic gold medal in Rio against the huge-serving Argentinian, Juan Del Potro; and dissolved again on winning last year at Wimbledon against the Canadian child-mountain, Raonic.

The half-witted commentators are at a loss to explain Cilic’s emotional state, speculating for several minutes that he must have sustained some injury.

He has. Blisters on his enormous feet, huge toes sculpted by Michelangelo, are being attended to by the tournament doctor, who seems to be more concerned about his client’s emotional state. Injury is the best explanation the pundits in their box can manage, as the honour of the game must be beyond question.

Scenting blood, on goes Federer, his almost miraculous groundstrokes bludgeoning and whipping and passing and outsmarting his wounded bear of an opponent, a giant being steadily dismembered by the Swiss’ alchemical skills. Each 3-minute average-length game he wins brings him another £122,000.

It is more than I can watch, which is why I’m writing this instead. I feel guilty being a part of it.

And now the Wimbledon crowd has swung behind the tall Croatian, urging him on. Not because they want him to win. They just want him to win a set or two so they can admire their hero a while longer. They want their money’s worth. They love an underdog.

Too much money, too many physical demands as the men’s game especially nears the margins of human endurance, too much expectation ladled over the players by an insatiable media and its complicit commentators; too much pressure, too many matches….

Federer wins in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. And now he too is dissolving in tears at the courtside, as his wife displays their beautiful blond children to the admiring crowd….

Enough.

(Presumably to rub it in, apart from the money second prize is a crappy little silver platter that looks like something off your auntie’s sideboard. First prize is a rather spiffing, 18-in high, elaborately decorated gold cup he’ll need to get insured.)

 

Who?

Immediately after the tennis the BBC runs a curiously low-budget and unimaginatively plotted 60″ trailer, revealing the ‘identity’ of the eponym who will play the part of Dr Who, at least for a one-off special next Christmas.

Horror upon horrors, the hooded figure of the 13th Imam turns round to reveal a female of the species.

Worse, I’ve never ‘eard of ‘er. It’s political correctness gone mad… Why, we’ve only just got rid of the Doctor’s black lesbian assistant, ‘Bill Potts’, and now this!

And out pour the dumbfuck Who ‘fans’ from their darkened, fetid rooms in force, intergalactic trolls with their misogynistic tweets and farts, like it’s the end of civilization as they never really knew it.

Er, guys… actually, my real GP is a woman! Worse, she’s a German woman (Sorry, I don’t do Twitter)….

Worst of all is the Daily Express, a pathetic snivel of a snotrag at the best of times, owned by a millionaire pornographer and read by 71-year-old Brexit voters, undereducated nostalgic empire-loyalists on caravanning holidays, that has published a picture of the actor Jodie Whittaker ALMOST IN THE NUDE.

The Broadchurch favourite, who is set to replace Peter Capaldi as the BBC Time Lord, left nothing to the imagination back in 2006 movie, Venus. The 35-year-old played Jessie in the comedy-drama, in which she starred alongside the likes of Peter O’Toole, Leslie Phillips and Vanessa Redgrave. Jodie bared her breasts and pert bottom in raunchy scenes as her character flashed elderly actor, Maurice Russell (O’Toole).

The ‘story’ doesn’t mention that ‘the likes of’ O’Toole, Phillips and Redgrave, immensely respected thesps, were GERIATRICS even then. And it was a COMEDY. And NOBODY REMEMBERS IT. Actors need to WORK so they can get PAID, just like the intellectual molluscs of the tabloid press, and they have to do what the DIRECTORS TELL THEM, they don’t fucking make it up as they go along, they don’t bare their ‘pert bottoms’ (only some howling cretin with a hairy arse and prolapsed piles writes shit like that) because they’re morally degenerate, like the editor of the Daily fucking Express.

These soi-disants ‘journalists’ are sick in the head. Almost as mad are the feministas from The Guardian, rushing into print to hail the first female Time Lord in the history of a patriarchal, male-dominated Universe without stopping to note that the character of ‘Missy’, brilliantly played by the barking Michelle Gomez, is also a Time Lord and the feminine avatar of The Master.

No, if I have a moan it is that Ms Whittaker does not come across as a quirky enough personality. I have no problem with a female Dr Who, or anyone anywhere else on the gender spectrum, but the character really demands an eccentric: larger-than-life, grounded in unpredictability. Not just a conventionally attractive and competent actor who has proved that she can spread herself adequately across a range of earthly roles but would not, perhaps, thrill and charm and irritate the viewer in a kickass caper across time and space.

My vote would have been for the thoughtful but flamboyant transvestite ceramicist, Grayson Perry. After Capaldi’s angst-ridden and tired old intergalactic gunslinger who has run out of magic bullets, a creative Couture Who would make a refreshing change.

x

“Less than a fifth of Americans are aware that extreme hunger threatens the lives of 20 million people in Africa and the Middle East, yet the overwhelming majority regard it as the most pressing global issue once they have been told, a poll of US voters has revealed.” – The Guardian, 13 July

Your filter-bubbles will not protect you

The Pumpkin reported recently on a US poll revealing that 38% had no idea that Senator McConnell’s American Healthcare Act (AHCA) – also known as Trumpcare – is expected to remove health insurance cover from 32 million poorer Americans over the next ten years, to force premiums up to insupportable levels for those with pre-existing conditions, and to result in $800 billion defunding of the basic Medicare program that covers everyone for things like maternity and care home services.

You’d think they’d take an interest, but most seem happy to rely on Mr Trump’s assurances on the campaign trail that he will look after their interests with a ‘great big, beautiful plan, it’ll be so easy’ and that it is perfectly safe for him to tear up Barack Obama’s detestable, failing Affordable Healthcare Act because he has something much better in mind.

Middle-America votes. But where’s his healthcare now, eh? The silly old dumbfuck.

He doesn’t. There never was a plan. It was another Trump lie. And still the dumbfucks worship at his dainty, well-shod hooves.

When told about it directly, people express shock and opposition: the AHCA (it’s now got another set of initials, I lose track) has, supposedly, just a 12% approval rating. The leech-like Sen. McConnell has had to extend the Congressional term two weeks into the annual recess just to try to get it done, in the face of growing opposition even from Republican senators who have actually gotten around to reading it. Mr Trump has said he will be ‘very angry’ if it isn’t passed soon.

But then he is already very angry about everything and is said when not off playing golf to be doing little else but sit in the Oval Office, screaming abuse at the TV sets.

It is possible to draw only one conclusion from this story, that people are no longer actively interested in what happens outside of their headphones or their social media ‘filter bubbles’, that almost certainly don’t include any seriously life-threatening information they might need to know.

Which gives one little hope that they can go further, to understand that it’s the politicians they vote for who are behind these damaging actions, not the Muslims or the Mexicans, nor Volkswagen, and have an agenda that does not include the ordinary citizen; that major vested corporate interests are behind them*.

For instance, the ‘millennials’ so horrified to discover that vast numbers of people around the world are on the verge of dying for lack of food and water perhaps would also like to know that under the so-far undebated Trump budget, the US government is proposing massive funding cuts to UN relief programs in order to give tax breaks to the wealthiest 1%, but I don’t suppose it’s even crossed their self-absorbed radar.

Climate disruption is another issue that really isn’t out there among the majority of people.

A recent article in the New York Magazine by David Wallace-Wells, entitled ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’, has caused consternation and unleashed a tsunami of outraged denial about climate science, which is ironic considering the article is about just that: our desperate wish to push back against the issue of our imminent extinction as a species if we cannot break our addiction to burning fossil fuels now.

In a summary of the real scientific consensus on the effects of global warming, that we don’t normally get in mainstream media, Wallace-Wells has interviewed dozens of actual scientists to get a relatively modest overview and to write it up unemotionally in a way normal people can understand.

That would account for the torrent of scorn and opprobrium that has greeted the article from the familiar ranks of denialists, the usual suspects complaining that it is not sufficiently ‘scientific’ (irony abounds) to make its point.

Wallace-Wells explains to ordinary readers in plain English that real scientists have been too frightened of creating a panic or of just not being believed if they said how bad things are really getting, of being seen as too extreme, to tell people the unvarnished truth, that we and our innocent co-evolutes on the planet are heading for catastrophe: mass extinction within decades or maybe only a few years.

The article is being hailed as the first ever to try to bring together the various strands of thinking on the issue in order to present them to the lay reader in a popular medium; which is, of course, a bit of marketing hyperbole by the NYMag. Articles, books and YouTube videos abound on the subject. Nothing Wallace-Wells writes comes as any surprise to the Editor of this blog. The information is all out there if you care to look.

Most people don’t.

As of course is the ‘balancing’ view, in the form of articles online and in the rightwing press dependent on corporate advertising, from well funded denialists saying it’s all a big fuss about nothing. It’s marketable contrarianism, dangerously so.

For it appears from the huge response the story has been getting that the mass of ordinary people really have no idea of how serious the situation is; of how many of the natural systems we rely on are already at the point of collapse. Although it is probably obvious to the millions affected by annual droughts and flooding on an unprecedented scale.

The Boglington Post has been reporting the story for some time now, that a growing number of scientists are warning we are passing irreversible ‘tipping points’ in self-reinforcing feedbacks that could create more abrupt disruption to world weather patterns than was previously expected. The release of a possible 1.6 Gt of stored Arctic methane from melting permafrost is but one feedback among many. The signs are all there: a second successive year of record floods and droughts all around the globe, of polluting NOx and ozone smogs, is surely visible to all but the most obdurate denialists.

Wallace-Wells writes, too, that food production will be severely disrupted by increasing droughts alternating with more severe floods and more powerful storms. Well, there go your 20 million Africans. It’s not just about rising sea levels or any single event, a 200 kph hurricane here, fifty tornadoes in one wild Georgia weekend there, but a combination of events. Increasing wave heights because of stronger winds, for instance, are helping to break-up the Arctic sea ice faster. More blue water absorbs more heat, increasing transpiration.

It ought to be snowing in the Arctic now – in actual fact, it’s raining. Warmer seas make for a wetter climate, leading to heavier rainfall and more powerful storms. The normally reliable jetstreams have broken down, allowing anomalous weather conditions to develop anywhere. Thus, last winter we had snow in the Libyan Sahara.

And from Svalbard, Norway’s northernmost permanently inhabited settlement:

“The average temperature for the year was minus 0.1 degrees Celsius, or 6.5 degrees Celsius above normal, according to Bernt Lie, a weather statistician…. In addition, a record 310 millimeters of precipitation fell during the year, 63.2 percent more than normal and soundly topping the previous record of 267.9 millimeters in 2012.

“In July, October and November there was record heat,” he wrote. Temperatures at Svalbard Airport in December were 7.4 degrees Celsius above normal, the 73rd straight month of above average temperatures… Lie, in his summary of Longyearbyen’s weather statistics for 2016, called the trend here a “frightening development.” – Icepeople.net

Even so, the Icepeople website editor headlined the story as if nothing was amiss: “Frighteningly ordinary: Record high temperatures in 2016 nothing new for Longyearbyen or Earth.”

What would you think is meant by the word “record”? Oh, it’s been another boring old record every year for the past six years…. Nothing new, then. That Inuit sense of humor.

This year, extreme temperatures in many countries combined with increasing humidity have brought it home that human physiology cannot cope beyond a certain point, and that point is being reached more often and earlier every year. In Pakistan, in Iran, in Kuwait and California the mercury has topped 120 deg. F. , and it’s not yet the height of summer. The human body cannot cool itself through sweating at those temperatures, with 96% humidity. Your skin chokes you to death.

People are undoubtedly dying. A 100-deg. plus (42 C.) heatwave is in its third week in the south-western United States at the time of writing, floods are devastating large parts of Asia (2’6″ of rain fell on Japan’s Kyushu island in just nine hours last week) and many barely controllable wildfires are contributing to the CO2 burden in the atmosphere; more so in fact than our industrial emissions, which thanks to controls and an economic slowdown have not increased in the last three years. (Worryingly, the global economy is picking up again.)

Whatever the professional denialists in the pay of the energy industries will try to tell you, this is not normal!

The standfirst to this piece, for instance, indicates that climate change is almost certainly worsening the food supply problem for those 20 million Africans and people of the Arabian peninsula. Many of them have or will become climate refugees and die in the desert or drown in the Mediterranean.

Those of us lucky enough to live in more temperate latitudes have no way of coping with the scale of the human tragedy that is unfolding in the equatorial regions, other than through denial.

But this shit is coming for us all, so you’d better look it up and be ready.

Your filter-bubbles will not protect you!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html

*An article by George Monbiot in today’s Guardian investigates a new book by Nancy McClean: Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. The plot by alt-right billionaires to overthrow democracy was first laid out by a Nobel prizewinning economist and crazed free-market advocate, James McGill Buchanan, in the 1960s. Everything he recommended is now happening, Monbiot realizes, with a shock of recognition – and not only in the USA.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/19/despot-disguise-democracy-james-mcgill-buchanan-totalitarian-capitalism

x

Granny Weatherwax, 15 July:

  • Canada: number of wildfires in Williams Lake area of British Ciolumbia ‘drops below 200’ but more hot windy weather is forecast. Considerable devastation has been caused, small towns entirely destroyed. Evacuation centres for 14,000 opened across the state.
  • Arctic: temperatures recorded at two locations on 11 July over Canada’s Mackenzie River, one of 32.6°C or 90.8°F at the mouth of the river and another one of 34.7°C or 94.5°F further inland. Surface temperature of water pushed up by increasing windspeeds through the Bering Strait into the Arctic ocean recorded at 10C, 50F. Little sea ice left, being pounded by rain.
  • 65 major wildfires burning across 11 US states. California worst hit: many homes burned, residents evacuated in Santa Barbara. Wildfires in Nevada caused CO2 to reach concentration levels as high as 742 ppm on July 12.
  • Huge storms bring flash flooding and record river rise to the eastern USA – state of emergency declared in Wisconsin. New York State, DC, New Jersey, Massachusetts affected. More forecast. 14 July, major storm in west, parts of Arizona under water.
  • Ciudad Juarez, Mexico – 15 July, city underwater.
  • Major flooding continues to affect very large area of NE India. Up to 40 million ‘marooned’, 85 dead, 1.7m evacuated in Assam. Refugee camps being set up. Still raining – heavy storms over Arunachal, 4 dead in Gujarat. 650,000 affected in Bangladesh.
  • Flash floods and landslides in Tibet – buildings washed away, many evacuated. 42 deg. C.-plus heatwave across China following weeks of flooding (93 cm more rain falls on Hunan province in the week). 16 July, 36 dead in devastating floods in Jilin city. A violent thunderstorm batters the city of Chengdu, Sichuan. Much damage.
  • Typhoon Talas is heading for Taiwan at 12 mph. after pounding N Vietnam. 42 deg. C. heatwave in S Korea turns to deadly flooding. Cheongju city, s. of Seoul, underwater.
  • Many wildfires reported in Khazakhstan. Satellite records CO2 at 747 ppm. Temperature of 53.1°C or 127.5°F in Iran for July 11.
  • Severe flooding in the Irkutsk region of Siberia after ‘endless rain’ has stranded airline passengers. Scientists warning, trans-Siberian pipeline projects could be affected by explosive methane eruptions.
  • Damaging flash floods hit Oman, Trucial States, after days of heavy rainfall in the mountains..
  • Storm floods Paris metro. S France, Spain continue to experience record heatwave. Greek tourist sites, Acropolis closed due to extreme heat, humidity.
  • Italy: wildfires ravage slopes of Mt Vesuvius, Naples; 1,ooo tourists evacuated from wildfires in Sicily, many properties destroyed. While in Calabria, Sicily – deadly ‘rain bomb’ floods the town.
  • Portugal, Alejo, more raging wildfires. Crops devastated across S Europe. Wildfires in Croatia, 34 fires reported around the capital of neighbouring Montenegro.
  • Storms flood parts of Lagos, Nigeria. 20 dead in Niger State. 40 deg. C.-plus heatwave threatening harvest in Egypt: ‘worse year on year’.
  • Coverack, Cornwall, Britain. 18 July. Flash flood follows torrential rain, hail breaks windows, sea surge cuts off road access.
  • An overnight snowstorm has hit Santiago, Chile, for the first time since 1970. A change from recent floods and wildfires.
  • Latest research shows global CO2 ‘equivalent’ – ie overall atmospheric greenhouse gas content including methane (CH4), CO, CO2, SO2, NOx – has reached 490 ppm.

(Climate and Extreme Weather News #42/Floodlist/Arctic News/Wildfire Today/Siberian Times)

Most extraordinary, is to observe from the camphone footage from around the world how people are prepared to take absurd risks driving through rising floodwaters and wildfires.

What climate change?

 

Sports News

A not unattractive moustache

I learn just now that Venus Williams is 6’1″. I am in love. She is such a sweetheart, and at 37 the perfect age. There is of course her opponent in the Wimbledon Ladies final, the aristocratic-looking Garbine Muguruza (6’0″, 23), a lovely creation for whom the word ‘lissom’ was surely invented.

If Muguruza wins, it will be because of her sense of style. She has been wearing Stella McCartney, our leading British designer and daughter of the Beatle. Everyone else is in Nike, or Adidas – or, as in Williams’ case, her family’s own-brand. Peasants.

Yet despite her perfect shoulders (I’m a bit of a shoulders man), the heavily strapped-up leg is not such a good look. This year, our leading players all appear stricken. Murray, Nadal, Djokovitch and many more have limped out in the second set or finished as losers, broken and bowed, owing to accumulated injuries. Many are match-rusty after months out of work, undergoing operations and retraining. Some should frankly not have turned up just to collect their first-round losers’ appearance fees, which are not ungenerous, bilking the crowd.

Commentators have suggested it might be due to their top-heavy match schedule. The winners of the Wimbledon finals each stand to go home with cheques for £2.2 million. My suggestion, for what it is worth, is that there is too much money in the game and that if even the top players are forced to compete week-in, week-out all over the world, even in minor suburban tournaments to maintain their ranklings and seedlings, the organizers of the flying circus might fairly be accused of greed.

The majestic progress of the greatest master of the game, ever, Roger Federer, stands out all too clearly when you consider his age, 34. He has simply swept past his younger opponents with magisterial grace and good temper. Not to mention his breathtaking skill. Miss Williams, too, at 37 to be in the final (she’s currently winning – sorry, no, she’s losing), is a wonderful example of how to be an entirely normal, yet supernaturally gifted human being.

Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Glaxy) and John Lloyd (Blackadder) wrote a silly book years ago, taking odd-sounding but real place names as the basis of funny dictionary definitions. Scrabster is a hardscrabble fishing port on the unforgiving east coast of Scotland, from whence come the finest kippers (smoked herring). It is also: ‘A not unattractive moustache on the face of a woman’.

The Spaniard, Muguruza is definitely a qualifier. And some woman! You knew she had her semifinal opponent Simona Halep beaten, when in the last two games the diminutive but fast and powerful forest-dwelling Romanian stopped making that hideous shrieking noise with which she propels the furry projectile at 90 mph towards the far baseline; and refused to play the last service return.

But the thing with true tennis champions is, one minute they’re 4-3 down in the fourth set, gasping for air and making desperate appeals to their box to send them more drugs – then before the kettle’s boiled, they’re 5-4 up with two match points in hand and serving for the £2 million cheque. It’s quite magical. Bewildering, how they do that.

Having never won anything, I’m fully qualified to remark on life’s mystery.

 

PS: ‘@StellaMcCartney’ wins, 7-6, 6-0. I feel so sorry for Williams, she is a complete sweetie who has lived under the shadow of her little sister Serena, the most successful women’s singles player of all time (some might argue for Navratilova or Court), who is off on baby-leave, yet she has won seven Grand Slam titles in her own right. At 37, this might well have been her last crack at Wimbers. Boo.

 

For the benefit of Mr High-as-a-Kite

Speaking humorously as I was there of drugs, there is a quite astonishing story in the Sport section of today’s Guardian – or is it the companion Sunday Observer? the website’s the same. It concerns a film that has been made about the ‘Russian doping master’, Grigory Rodchenkov, now in an FBI witness protection program after others considering blowing the whistle on a performance enhancement campaign apparently conceived by Mr Putin before the Sochi Olympics suffered unexpectedly massive heart attacks.

As head of the Russian equivalent, Mr Rodchenkov was trustingly shown around the UK’s anti-doping facilities before the 2012 London Olympics, and so worked out a way of cheating the system. He also devised the great wheeze of drilling a hole secretly under a table in the floor of the lab hut, disguised as a power socket, and passing clean urine samples through to an accomplice on the inside, making this the most wonderful story of opportunistic ingenuity since those RAF officers escaped from Colditz.

It’s a long and fascinating tale, which I recommend to anyone who wants to be educated in the workings of Mr Putin’s and the greater Russian mindset, especially in the light of the efforts to tamper with last year’s (and next year’s) US election. There’s too much to plagiarise for this article, so go to:

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/15/russian-doping-programme-olympics-london-2012-sochi-2014?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=235195&subid=19570602&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

Pip pip!

UB

Congress attack on climate science: The Pumpkin – Issue 24: More Damned Lies, plus world weather report.

‘The Republicans on the House Science Committee held a three-hour hearing on the merits of climate change science, a cavalcade of falsehoods so relentless and seemingly irrational that one might well need psychiatric counselling after having watched it” – The Independent, 30 March, 2017

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” (Benjamin Disraeli)

Here’s an insight from the proper scientific community into the problem we have with energy industry shills, rogue scientists, corrupt politicians and corporate-funded populist media creating amplifying feedbacks by cross-referencing one anothers’ ignorance and refusals (for whatever reason) to attempt any semblance of objectivity concerning the very real threat of global warming resulting from humans overexploiting fossil fuel reserves, clearing forest and breeding huge numbers of animals for food.

From: Greatwhitecon.info website – a scientific blog monitoring ice cover in the Arctic:

“We have now broken the all-time global temperature record for three consecutive years and a number of published articles have convincingly demonstrated that global warming has continued unabated despite when one properly accounts for the vagaries of natural short-term climate fluctuations. A prominent such study was published by Tom Karl and colleagues in 2015 in the leading journal Science. The article was widely viewed as the final nail in the “globe has stopped warming” talking point’s coffin.

“Last month, opinion writer David Rose of the British tabloid the Daily Mail — known for his serial misrepresentations of climate change and his serial attacks on climate scientists, published a commentary online attacking Tom Karl, accusing him of having “manipulated global warming data” in the 2015 Karl et al article. This fake news story was built entirely on an interview with a single disgruntled former NOAA employee, John Bates, who had been demoted from a supervisory position at NOAA for his inability to work well with others.

“Bates’ allegations were also published on the blog of climate science denier Judith Curry (I use the term carefully—reserving it for those who deny the most basic findings of the scientific community, which includes the fact that human activity is substantially or entirely responsible for the large-scale warming we have seen over the past century — something Judith Curry disputes). That blog post and the Daily Mail story have now been thoroughly debunked by the actual scientific community. The Daily Mail claim that data in the Karl et al. Science article had been manipulated was not supported by Bates. When the scientific community pushed back on the untenable “data manipulation” claim, noting that other groups of scientists had independently confirmed Karl et al’s findings, Bates clarified that the real problem was that data had not been properly archived and that the paper was rushed to publication. These claims too quickly fell apart.

“Though Bates claimed that the data from the Karl et al study was “not in machine-readable form”, independent scientist Zeke Hausfather, lead author of a study that accessed the data and confirmed its validity, wrote in a commentary “…for the life of me I can’t figure out what that means. My computer can read it fine, and it’s the same format that other groups use to present their data.” As for the claim that the paper was rushed to publication, Editor-in-chief of Science Jeremy Berg says, “With regard to the ‘rush’ to publish, as of 2013, the median time from submission to online publication by Science was 109 days, or less than four months. The article by Karl et al. underwent handling and review for almost six months. Any suggestion that the review of this paper was ‘rushed’ is baseless and without merit. Science stands behind its handling of this paper, which underwent particularly rigorous peer review.”

“Shortly after the Daily Mail article went live, a video attacking Karl (and NOAA and even NASA for good measure) was posted by the Wall Street Journal. Within hours, the Daily Mail story spread like a virus through the right-wing blogosphere, appearing on numerous right-wing websites and conservative news sites. It didn’t take long for the entire Murdoch media empire in the U.S, U.K. and elsewhere to join in, with the execrable Fox News for example alleging Tom Karl had “cooked” climate data and, with no sense of irony, for political reasons.

“Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of this committee has a history of launching attacks on climate science and climate scientists. He quickly posted a press release praising the Daily Mail article, placing it on the science committee website, and falsely alleging that government scientists had “falsified data”. Smith, it turns out, had been planning a congressional hearing timed to happen just days after this latest dustup, intended to call into question the basis for the EPA regulating carbon emissions. His accusations against Karl and NOAA of tampering with climate data was used in that hearing to claim that the entire case for concern over climate change was now undermined.”

http://greatwhitecon.info/2017/03/the-house-science-climate-model-show-trial/

This is a kind of warfare between objective truth-seekers and people who simply will not listen. Unfortunately the deaf ones often seem to have a more obvious reason to continue denying what anyone can see is happening, and what even to a non-scientist logic must explain.

Money.

x

More damned lies

On Friday I found myself wrestling with the BBC Complaints system, which is purpose-designed to funnel complainants into irrelevant streams (divide and rule?) and dump everything you’ve written the first time before ultimately sending you an evasive and anodyne response, to which there is no appeal.

While we await that, here is what The Pumpkin wrote:

Full Complaint: You invited on the Today programme this morning Mr Myron Ebell, a known climate-change denier and PR lobbyist for any number of energy corporations, but failed to identify him as such, or to make any attempt to balance the noxious views he espouses, beyond explaining that he is an advisor to the Trump cabinet, giving him undue credibility as a spokesman.

Mr Ebell has a notorious history of spreading false propaganda from behind a succession of well-funded false-front policy institutes, to undermine the scientific consensus on a range of environmental issues. He is widely known to have been in the pay of Exxon-Mobil, Murray Energy, Dow Chemical and many others with vested interests in spreading false information. Mr Ebell has no qualifications whatever as a climate scientist or indeed a scientist of any kind.

He was, however, previously a guest on the Today programme in 2005, when he proceeded to level a series of scurrilous accusations and insults against the UK’s chief scientist, Prof King, resulting in a Parliamentary question. Your production team appears to have been entirely unaware of this history. No attempt was made to balance his offensive views, a black mark against new editor, Ms Sands.

In my opinion (as a former news editor), your entire coverage of this disastrous Trump administration and its ‘advisors’ from the Washington lobby swamp has been permanently on the back foot compared with his own domestic media’s, especially the excruciatingly bland reporting of your overly diplomatic correspondent, Mr Sopel.

The Today programme’s editorial team indeed has been consistently supine: deferential, incurious and seemingly uninformed about the goings-on in the White House. Added to their inability seemingly to find anyone to speak out passionately in favour of the European Union before it was too late, I have to say I am finding it all rather sad and depressing.

Wake up.

So, lo and behold, come this morning and the BBC news has as its second lead, the story that broke in the New York Times on Monday about Donny Jr’s meeting with Kremlin lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya acting as go-between at the Trump Tower in New York on 9 June last year – following which, further reports are detailing, later that same day Trump tweeted a sour-grapes retort to a mocking comment by Hillary Clinton, mentioning for the first time ever the ’33 thousand’ deleted Hillary Clinton emails he would later tell a rally he hoped the Russians would find.

Did he get that number from his son, via the Kremlin?

The Washington Post reported Tuesday:

“The session was set up at the request of Emin Agalarov, a Russian pop star whose Kremlin-connected family has done business with Trump in the past, according to the person who arranged the meeting.

“Rob Goldstone, a music publicist who represents Agalarov, confirmed Monday that he requested the Trump Tower meeting at Agalarov’s request. Emin Agalarov and his father, Aras Agalarov, a wealthy Moscow real estate developer, helped sponsor the Miss Universe pageant, then owned by Trump, in Russia in 2013.

“After the pageant, the Agalarovs signed a preliminary deal with Trump to build a tower bearing his name in Moscow, though the deal has been on hold since Trump started his campaign for president.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/kremlin-denies-knowing-of-donald-trump-jr-meeting-with-russian-lawyer-during-2016-campaign/2017/07/10/c2bfee34-6566-11e7-a1d7-9a32c91c6f40_story.html?utm_term=.78785cc380c4

From there it gets complicated. Suffice to say, if the original email from LA-dwelling ‘music promoter’ and former British sleazeball journalist and big Russia fan, Rob Goldstone, that brought him, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort scurrying to that meeting can be found, telling Trump Jr that the Kremlin wanted to help his father get elected, it will, say Washington lawyers, be the ‘smoking gun’ that proves collusion by the Trump campaign with a Kremlin-inspired effort to derail Clinton and put Trump in the White House.

Of course, Mr Trump’s lawyers are saying the first the President knew about the meeting was last week, although the story hadn’t broken then, and Donny Jr has now hired his own lawyer to try to settle once and for all on a convincing explanation, the affair following the now standard pattern of denial followed by obfuscation in several versions followed by admission and post-dated registrations as required by law.

Apart from the odd tweet, some other things happened after that 9 June meeting, which Donny Jr says he didn’t remember, oh, yes, it wasn’t about anything, I thought I would get information that would help the campaign, it was all very vague, we discussed Russian orphans…. (The Russian orphans thing concerns a piece of Obama legislation called the Magnitsky Law, halting US adoption of Russian orphans in reprisal for the murder in gaol of anti-corruption lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. Putin wants it repealed.)

First, eleven days after the meeting Manafort was formalized as the campaign committee chairman. He was later dropped, however, when the extent of his financial relations with ousted Ukrainian kleptocrat and Putin-crony, President Viktor Yanukovitch became known via the leak of the Panama Papers, exposing probable money laundering.

Then, that same week, according to the New York Times, on his own admission Peter Smith, a freelance operative, put together a team of computer specialists (including a Russian speaker) answering, he says, to General Mike Flynn, to try to find the missing Clinton emails.

Just the first part of this story appeared on the BBC news, but I thought it was a good start, followed by an interview with Melinda Gates in which she criticized Trump for attempting to shut down family planning clinics and, by this evening when the PM programme was reporting on his latest attempt to cut funding to international HIV/AIDS programs, it seemed they had properly taken my advice to heart and were finally getting off their arses before he gets impeached and it’s too late to start detailing the horrors of this bogus presidency.

x

Faint glimmers of hope from nowhereseville

It’s not all awful. People are fighting back, often with the surprising assistance of the courts and political leaders.

While the G20 is still wrangling the cretin Trump over his contemptuous and contemptible abandonment of the Paris Accord, long after delegates were supposed to have run the gauntlet of a hundred thousand protestors defying police water cannon in Hamburg to fly back to their offices, Mother Jones lists a small but heartening selection of positive news items (8 July).

The main one of which is a Reuter’s story that “state prosecutors in Maryland, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington, DC, filed a lawsuit on Thursday, challenging Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s decision” to reverse an Obama administration ruling banning the use of Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide known to affect brain development in unborn children.

Why any alleged human being would want to encourage birth deformities in children, I have no idea. Perhaps it is because they are scumsucking psychopaths dressed as politicians corrupted beyond understanding.

Mr Pruitt’s famous hoard of emails from his days as Attorney-General of Arkansas, a State closer to the Stone Age than most, reveal that he had several meetings with the makers of the unborn child-poison, Dow Chemical, prior to his announcement. And Trump’s key environmental ‘advisor’ is, of course, the loathsome bottom-feeder, paid professional liar Myron Ebell, who has directed a frenzied assault from the White House on Obama-era environmental protections and lists Dow Chemical among clients of his PR consultancy, the Dr Josef Mengele Memorial Trust.

Investors, however, are pushing back. Dick Russell’s 2017 book Horsemen of the Apocalypse describes a growing revolt against the energy corps by virtually the entire current generation of the ‘trillionaire’ Rockefeller family acting as a concert party, and other large-scale investment funds that have ‘got’ the point, that their future too needs to be a sustainable one. According to Mother Jones, “In 2011, there were 12 shareholder resolutions filed with food and beverage companies when it comes to climate risk. This year there are 131.”

(It is not a sufficiently well-known factoid, that five major US corporations control 80% of the world’s food production and distribution.)

As powerful as these money-breathing, somnambulant dog-turds think they are, they are not going to win. The tragedy is, a lot of people will die unnecessarily in the meantime. The list of good news stories is still massively outweighed by the current tally of extreme heat and flooding events on every continent, as The Pumpkin and the BogPo have jointly been tracking (see elsewhere); and the effect on global food production is already evident.

http://www.motherjones.com/food/2017/07/youll-be-shocked-to-learn-we-have-good-news-about-food/

 

Big Brother is Locating You

There is apparently an Android ‘app’ alliteratively known as SnapMap. I feel the originators missed the opportunity simply to name it Smapp, in line with the modern fashion for crushing words together to make nausea-inducing neologisms, but let’s move on.

It seems that if you are a subscriber to this useful location-finding service, a derivative of the photo-file-sharing site SnapChat, unless you reset the privacy settings, other users can identify and even view your precise location to within one metre anywhere on a virtual global map.

Stay clear of the bathroom.

This omnipresent eye seems helpful for muggers, vengeful ex-wives, pizza delivery boys and pedophiles, or for when you’ve told the boss you’re in bed with ‘flu and you’re really on the beach, or possibly to the emergency services if you’re having a heart-attack somewhere that doesn’t have a postcode, like in the countryside, and the controller is refusing to send help until you tell them what it is.

But SnapMap seems just the latest in a long list of privacy violations of the kind you’re expected to put up with and to be ruthlessly monetized by a service provider in exchange for the convenience of carrying the equivalent of the Library at Alexandria, the Amtrak timetable, Jay-Z’s Greatest Hits, the schedule of lunar eclipses, the Yellow Pages and the British Museum around in your vest pocket.

The BBC iPlayer recently forced users to betray our whereabouts. Now I get only BBC Wales programmes, which is intellectually somewhat limiting. Worse, they’ve got a section where they guess what you’d like to watch next. It seems to consist entirely of the same episodes of Dr Who and Hinterland (a gloomy Welsh detective show with two-dimensional characters. Ed.) they’ve noticed I watched yesterday.

I feel technology is zeroing in on me, but there are ways to protect yourself.

I keep my phone off the hook, in a metaphysical way, by pressing the Power Off button, although in my pocket it often switches itself on again without me noticing, revealing to anyone interested that I’m in the wine section of Morrison’s again. I never make phone calls, only sending cryptic texts at predetermined times once a fortnight from secret locations around town. I hit the Off button anytime a call comes in, as it’s rarely anyone I need to talk to.

Even so, the battery runs down every day, so I’m assuming the thing is in constant communication with someone. It’s like the Eye of Horus, or the feeling that God is up there counting the hairs falling from your head. Some people find that comforting, I know.

Of course, at my age I’ve no idea what SnapChat is, although I could have guessed from the punning name. It doesn’t sound compulsory, though.

Not yet.

 x
“I have been wondering, exactly, when is the denouement of the various investigations?”
It’s not a perfect world.
“Raisehavoc” is a Guardian Pick commenter today, Sunday, and she has the following contribution I’d like, without apology, to pilfer for your enjoyment, just as she pilfered it for ours:

Zoe Leonard puts it succinctly in her poem way back in 1992. Timely …

“I want a dyke for president.

“I want a person with AIDS for president and I want a fag for vice president and I want someone with no health insurance and I want someone who grew up in a place where the earth is so saturated with toxic waste that they didn’t have a choice about getting leukemia.

“I want a president that had an abortion at sixteen and I want a candidate who isn’t the lesser of two evils and I want a president who lost their last lover to AIDS, who still sees that in their eyes every time they lay down to rest, who held their lover in their arms and knew they were dying.

“I want a president with no air-conditioning, a president who has stood in line at the clinic, at the DMV, at the welfare office, and has been unemployed and laid off and sexually harassed and gaybashed and deported.

“I want someone who has spent the night in the tombs and had a cross burned on their lawn and survived rape.

“I want someone who has been in love and been hurt, who respects sex, who has made mistakes and learned from them.

“I want a Black woman for president.

“I want someone with bad teeth and an attitude, someone who has eaten that nasty hospital food, someone who crossdresses and has done drugs and been in therapy.

“I want someone who has committed civil disobedience. And I want to know why this isn’t possible.

“I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown. Always a john and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker. Always a liar, always a thief, and never caught.”

So, Ms Leonard got her first want, and her last.

The Pumpkin has commented before that Mr Trump looks and sounds and often behaves like an elderly bull-dyke in male drag; his predatory prowling around Hillary Clinton at the debates was a dead giveaway. She oughtn’t perhaps to have worn that suit.

Liar, thief, never caught?

Spot-on, Zoe.

I have been wondering, exactly, when should we expect the denouement of the various investigations – the FBI, the Special Prosecutor, the Senate – into Trump and his gang’s precise associations with Russian and Ukrainian financial, technological and clandestine political interests?

Is there an endpoint, will armed G-Men fight a standoff with the White House security team at some stage, before storming the Oval Office?

Will Trump be forced to do the ‘perp-walk’, led away in full public gaze wearing leg irons?

It seems to be taking ages to prove conclusions we all reached months ago.

There is a protocol, I suppose – a sitting President is unlikely to be charged even with treason until he has been impeached, and at the moment it appears there are no Republicans scandalized and appalled enough at his outrageous behavior and willing to risk deselection to stand up and impeach the fucker.

They know they hate and despise him and themselves for adopting him as their candidate, but they just won’t, the big wusses.

But will anyone be brave enough at least to tell us that the investigations are complete and the President is a big crook?

I somehow doubt that too. It’s not a perfect world.

x

Weather News

  • 138 major wildfires burning in British Columbia, Canada.
  • Palm Springs, California: 122 Deg, F. (50 C.) Phoenix AZ still 111 F. Wildfires in Santa Barbara, Arizona, Utah. Wildfires in Colorado. 90 mph winds, severe storms bring flooding to the east of the USA, Massachusetts – Cape Cod – into New York.
  • 22 dead in floods in Japan’s Kyushu island after Typhoon Nanmadol brings 3 ft of rain in 9 hours. 83 dead since mid-June in Hunan province, central China. 12 million affected, 1.5 million evacuated. Flooding and and landslides hit North Vietnam.
  • 26 million facing severe food shortages in East Africa after two-year drought. Some 15 million are displaced by flooding and 44 dead in Assam, Manipur, India and Pakistan (8 July).
  • Kuwait: 96 deg. F. Oh, wait, that was at two a.m yesterday…. 121 F. now… Watch as a truck sinks through tarmac up to its axles.
  • Madrid, Spain: parts of the city underwater after torrential rain, freak hailstorms. Metro system closed. Greece basks in 42 deg. C. heat. 28 major wildfires reported, two on Crete.
  • Mexico: historic centre of Veracruz under three feet of water.

 

Some Like it Hot – interim musings on fire safety. Plus: Who is this guy, Shakespeare? And: Care in Chaos: where’s the money?

“the fire station officer’s report described the building as a ‘deathtrap’, into which he could not legally order firemen to go…”

Some Like it Hot

Having recently been made homeless, after several years’ helpful experience of hiring myself out between increasingly rare freelance consultancy contracts as a jobbing gardener and house cleaner I was fortunate in 2005 to land a job as the Estate Manager of a large and historic 18th-century country mansion, a Grade One-listed Palladian wedding-cake described by the heritage people as ‘an architectural jewel’.

Scarily illuminated by night, bats flitting through pools of garish yellow floodlighting into the deep black shadows all around, by day the mansion was revealed as a dilapidated Gormenghast, a cheap pattern-book building stuck as the result of a dynastic marriage on top of a probably more interesting and sturdy 17th-century manor house, from where Captain Johnes had mustered the militia to defend the castle against Oliver Cromwell’s men during the English Civil War, before judiciously changing sides.

A succession of eccentric and indigent owners over the years had left the place with a reputation for drug-fuelled raves and unpaid bills. Anything it had once contained of value: furnishings, collections, even fixtures and fittings had long ago been auctioned off, crowbarred out. Yet visitors found it all most enviable, I never understood why.

Infested with bedbugs to the discomfiture of the hotel inspector, who showed me his collection of angry bites but otherwise wrote kindly about us, it had, I think, 19 bedrooms (in theory – the top floor was derelict, making counting difficult). There were nine separate electrical circuits, in some of which nails were being used as fuses, and its water requirements were served by a single, half-inch plastic agricultural pipe that froze solid in winter and then burst, twice flooding the kitchen.

I lived in a sort of semi-furnished apartment at the back, three rooms and a galley (no fridge or cooker provided), on-call 24 hours a day. The pay was minimal, the hours and duties practically infinite. As the only permanent staff for much of the nearly seven years I worked there, in the otherwise empty building, apart from the rare occasions on which there were B&B guests and weekend wedding parties of up to 200 people, I was alone and responsible by night for chasing uninvited intruders out of the house and grounds. Usually they were looking for drugs, or hoping to photograph a ghost.

The new owners lived on the other side of the world and travelled incessantly on business, visiting for perhaps two or three weeks a year. They would arrive in a state of excitement, glad to be ‘home’, then rapidly tire of the limited facilities and tacky local attractions. Not having a clue about listed Georgian buildings and the horrendous repair and maintenance costs they constantly demand, they bought the house on an impulse while on holiday, grandiose but cheap, leaving the seller’s hardly unbiassed agent to commission for them a basic ‘second-gear’ mortgage survey that consisted mostly of small-print exclusion clauses.

What I saw alarmed me.

Still standing… the 270 year-old ‘jewel’ – a potential death-trap.

Beneath the floor of the impressive first-floor gallery was a four-feet high ceiling void that spanned the length of the building with no fire breaks. Through the voids of the disused rooms above ran thick bundles of old electrical cables, whose combined resistance I knew could cause them to heat up, in contact everywhere with piles of wood shavings and materials discarded from abortive attempts at restoration.

The addition of central heating had caused the fine old oak floorboards in the public rooms to shrivel, leaving gaps beneath which a centuries-old accumulation of fluff and dust was visible. The nightmare of a King’s Cross-style smouldering fire resulting from a dropped cigarette seemed inevitable*. Of course there was no sprinkler system: water might damage the historic chipboard furnishings, the crudely faked old masters.

To loud protests from guests and wedding organizers, I immediately banned smoking and naked lights anywhere in the house. It had little effect: people felt that as they were paying to use the facilities, they could do what they liked; especially the outside catering staff I had to bring in when there were too many guests for me to cook for and wash-up after on my own.

The brickwork lining the grand and ‘welcoming log fire’ in the hall was badly eroded. There was no fireback. Sparks were flying everywhere. Further up, where it could not be seen, a collapse had partly blocked the enormous chimney. For £10 extra, wedding organizers could book the fire on a winter’s night; but after the main feature of the house, its gilded rococo ‘music-room’ immediately above the hall filled with smoke one night, setting off the fire alarm, I decided it might be a good idea to stop lighting fires.

That didn’t go down too well either. It’s difficult to get people to think and act in their own best interests where money is involved. I suppose that goes for the world too.

The local fire brigade used to carry out an inspection once a year, bringing their rookie firemen up from town to show them the ropes: the derelict areas, the wiring mess, the grand wooden staircase with the flammable junkroom beneath, just by the main kitchen; where the water supply sometimes was, the decidedly dodgy alarm system, the main emergency escapes – there are seven – and filed a report, on which we were legally supposed to act.

No-one was ever able to find the fire hydrant. It was out there somewhere, beneath the brambles in the overgrown garden. I regularly used to dig it out and put the yellow marker back, until the next tradesman came along and parked his truck on top of it, and it disappeared again under a heap of building rubble. Plan B was to run hoses out and pump water from the lake a quarter of a mile away. It didn’t seem like a very good plan as the lake was in dire peril of silting up entirely.

I first became aware that experts shared my view of the safety of the building when in my second year, the fire station officer’s report concluded that the historic jewel was a ‘deathtrap’ – his word – into which he could not legally order firemen to go, not even to save life. It would, he explained kindly off the record, likely all go up in minutes. Nevertheless, we were permitted to go on using it for room-and-board lettings and public events, as the only alternative to making commercial use of the building was to do what the owners of most similar buildings in Britain have generally done, burn the place down.

The first year’s report I saw had allowed us to open to the public only on condition that certain works were carried out. I conveyed the information to them, only to be told I had to cover the cost myself by letting out rooms and organizing weddings and ‘cultural events’ such as rock festivals before they could spend anything on improvements. Sometimes it was hard to remember I was only the gardener.

Then in October 2006 the rules changed. The fire service was no longer responsible for certifying the safety of public buildings.  Owners and managers were expected to self-certify, any subsequent deaths being on their own responsibility. The safety industry became deregulated. Consultants emerged, mostly retired firemen with a limited grasp of English and £2 million of liability insurance. Firms sprang up to expensively service our fire extinguishers. The annual inspection was showing up more and more faults on the alarm circuits.

I wrote my own risk report and management plan, running to many pages. As it was quite beyond one person to carry out a proper search-and-evacuation, while if possible tackling the fire, it was a little optimistic in places; so to cover my back I engaged a consultant. For £150 his report was perhaps less fulsome, nevertheless it made more recommendations, including the addition of automatically closing fire doors, partitions, a new and fully functioning alarm system, etcetera.

Carrying out his instructions was going to be difficult. You could understand the natural resistance of the heritage people to screwing one-hour fire-resistant cladding to both sides of the original Robert Adam-style moulded internal door facings. Once again I emailed the report to the owners, and once again they ignored it, pleading poverty.

By this time we were getting grief, too, from the electrical contractor. Having rewired one wing of the house we had newly restored, giving me two more bedroom suites to clean, they were now refusing to certify the safety of the wiring in the rest of the house. It seemed like a ploy to screw more money out of the supposedly wealthy owners, a local sport, but I could see they had a point.

Having recently had to upgrade the 18th-century sewerage system under threat of a ‘cease and desist’, no-shit order from the Environment agency, who fancied our guests were polluting the local watercourse – there being no septic tank – the owners were not amused. They were starting to understand why the previous owner had walked away smiling.

Around that time I learned of a court case in which a chainstore had been heavily fined following a fire at their London Oxford Street branch, where the staff hadn’t thought about evacuating the shoppers as there was no proper management plan. No-one was hurt, but the implication of the ruling was that, if you knew there was a problem, you needed to fix it before anyone died.

The sentence could be two years in jail, I warned the owners.

The alarm was frequently going off, usually at three a.m. – a terrifyingly loud, panic-inducing, multitone klaxon that battered the senses. One such night, rousing myself from torpor, hurriedly pulling on clothes, tottering across to the office on the opposite corner of the building to switch off the racket, going upstairs to the unlit top floor, avoiding the many missing floorboards, to find and murder the offending smoke detector – dustfalls set them off – and then back out to the car-park to count the guests milling around in confusion, I found one was missing.

An elderly gentleman, he switched off his hearing aids at night, his daughter told me. Although it would awaken the dead, he hadn’t heard the alarm. That did it. I called our insurance broker and told him the full story: the reports, the wiring, the water supply – the putative dead guest. His reply?

‘I wish you hadn’t told me that’.

I emailed the owners, told them I was closing the house and would refuse any order to keep trading or put on any more events until they got the money together and refurbished the entire estate: house, falling-down outbuildings, dangerous grounds and all. I explained patiently that they were wasting thousands of pounds a year insuring an uninsurable asset. The insurers would never pay out, no matter what, and with no valid insurance and safety certificates the hotel licence was correspondingly useless, we were trading illegally.

My reward was to be downgraded. Having found and briefed the architects, I hung on for three more years, acting the part of the old ‘caretaker’ in my dark and freezing flat while contractors came and went, to the sound of power-saws and jackhammers smashing through historic brickwork.

Finally, as a hotel began to emerge they took away the apartment, that I had decorated and furnished at my own expense, to give themselves more rooms to let. I was paid off, to be replaced by a ‘proper manager’ and a battery of about twenty staff, including an obsequious greeter with an umbrella, something it had not occurred to me to put in the job description, one of my first tasks on being employed having been to write my own. It ran to many pages.

I spent the next eight years looking for another job like it, all over Europe. Although registered with more than a dozen snooty London agencies, I managed by my own efforts to get three interviews; one of which resulted in the offer of an impossible job in a boring part of France looking after an even bigger empty house and estate in even worse condition. On discovering that 95 per cent of the nearby town had been bombed flat by the Royal Air Force during WW2, I turned it down. Eventually I gave up looking and retired.

But at least, in large part thanks to my efforts, that damned old jewel is still standing.

  • In 1987, a lit match dropped on an escalator deep down under the London underground station, King’s Cross, ignited a fire in the oily detritus beneath that smouldered for an hour before bursting out in flames. Thirty-one people died and a hundred more were injured.

x

Who is this guy, Shakespeare?

Evidence of the sheer cretinous-ness of Trump’s shrinking band of true dumbfuck supporters emerged over the weekend, when theaters all over America with the name Shakespeare attached received a barrage of abusive messages, rape and death threats indiscriminately aimed at casts, management and crews.

The Washington Post reports, the cause is apparently one single production in New York of Julius Caesar, its short run in Central Park now ended, which rather daringly had a leading character loosely based on Donald Trump – who, of course, unfortunately has to be assassinated in Act three.

Not having the faintest idea who Shakespeare was, 450-odd years after his death, the dumbfucks have rallied round to protect their abusive and emotionally undeveloped orange avatar against the heinous libel by going after the person who wrote da play, imagining in their drooling, cave-troll-like stupidity that this guy Shakespeare don’t respect the boss and oughta be taught a lesson.

…Shakespeare Dallas (Texas) artistic director Raphael Parry reported the receipt of around 80 messages including threats of rape and death and one suggestion, referencing the fate of Shakespeare’s Caesar, that theater staff should be “sent to Isis to be killed with real knives”.

“We just got slammed,” Parry told the Globe. “It’s pretty amazing the vitriol, the wishing we would die and our family would die. A whole lot of them say that we should burn in hell.” Directors said they were surprised by the threats, which Parry thought were most likely generated by a toxic mix of partisan anger and basic web analytics.” – Washington Post, 19 June.

It is of course beyond the bounds of reason that a diehard Trumpist dumbfuck could appreciate how interpretations of the works of the Bard might differ from production to production, and that (too many. Ed.) directors occasionally like to have a bit of fun with them. Sweet Will, I feel sure, would appreciate the grim humour of the situation more than most. He wrote a lot about rape and death.

In fact, Trump should be pleased, up to a point. Julius was a pretty successful general – ruthlessly ambitious, endlessly demanding of loyalty, he massacred hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen and Germans. Unfortunately he flew a bit too close to the sun back in Rome, politically speaking, where even his best mate thought it better to bump him off than let him become a king.

However, his name and deeds have flourished for over two thousand years, and he has lent his surname to an entire phylum of over-mighty, authoritarian bastards who have made people’s lives a misery down the centuries.

Beat that, Donald.

x

“…it seems inevitable that one day people are going to start wondering where all the money has gone to? “

Care in chaos: where’s the money?

Simon Cowell, Andy Murray… the wealthy entertainers and sportsmen are all jumping on the bandwaggon, assuaging their guilt over the economic inequality that condemns London’s migrant workforce to live and die in crumby tower blocks, by holding fundraisers.

But is plowing yet more money into the melting pot really the answer?

Although we still have no idea how many died – the police put the number at 79 but it is likely to go on rising – we do now at least have an idea of how many persons or family units escaped the fire, the number being about 180.

By day two the public had already donated roughly £2 million, even before poor stilted Theresa May tried to save face by offering £5 million in immediate government support, with a grant of £5,500 per tenant*. That’s almost £40 thousand per tenancy, although it may need to stretch to cover compensation for the families of the dead, and any legal costs of the survivors having to re-establish their claims for work visas when all their paperwork has been destroyed.

Plus there are the free relocation services already being offered, that aren’t being terribly well handled; and the donations in kind, of food, toys and clothing. The public’s generosity has been overwhelming – and that’s the problem.

Mr Cowell’s aim of raising another £5 million, plus whatever our wealthier sports personalities can drum up, will double the money washing into the system, with seemingly no plan or guarantees as to who will receive what. The inevitable lawsuits against the management company and the renovation contractors will in future years also provide further large sums in compensation.

It all seems to me to be dangerously excessive, making superstar beneficiaries out of the Grenfell survivors – those, that is, who have not already melted away into the suburbs, unsure of their legal status – but not helping the thousands more tenants awaiting their fate in similar buildings across the country.

Coming so closely on top of the election, the whole affair was immediately politicised in ‘rich v. poor’ terms, although London has always been a city both of gross inequality and hopeful opportunity. The lack of leadership shown by the council and central government was shameful, but worse, it has left a vacuum that local community groups have had to fill. Such ad hoc arrangements post-disasters have in the past led to much undignified squabbling and resentful chaos.

In months to come, no doubt the media will be pointing fingers at the failure to create any kind of responsible, independent central administration to collate, control, disburse and audit the very large funds that are now growing unaccounted for.

The desire to help may be genuine, but given the disorganized nature of these appeals it seems inevitable that one day people are going to start wondering where all the money has gone to?

 

*Government charity is, as always, backhanded. £500 cash grants are being made, but the balance of £5,000 has to be paid into a bank account. That’s a great way of catching out the illegals.

x

“As temperatures climb in Phoenix, Arizona, more than 40 flights have been cancelled – because it is too hot for the planes to fly. The weather forecast for the US city suggests temperatures could reach 120F (49C) on Tuesday.” – BBC.

Enjoy the end while it lasts…

  • Record 100 deg F. to 120 deg F. heatwave persisting across the southwestern United States. 25 deg F. anomaly over normal June temp. reported in California. 55% of US landmass now ‘droughted’.
  • Tidal flooding along Texas, Alabama, Louisiana coast; high winds and tornadoes, up to 1 ft of rain from Tropical Storm Cindy (see below).
  • Record 95 deg F. heatwave across France, Spain, Portugal. Expected ‘hottest summer on record’.
  • Huge wildfires as reported in Leiria, Beiras province, Portugal. Two thousand firefighters involved. At least 64 dead, others missing. 26,000 hectares of forest destroyed.
  • Fujian province, SE China – still underwater. Northern China: droughted. Heavy storm, flooding hits Beijing, Tangshan. 25 June: rescue workers battle to find 120 missing after landlide buries village in Sichuan province.
  • India: heavy rain and floods in Assam, Manipur.
  • 14 die in floods in Niger, West Africa. Northern Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia, Cape Province: all droughted.
  • Floods in Honduras, Central America; Brazil, Mexico, Chile (again, this time with snowstorms).
  • Floods, landslides in Guatemala kill 11. Tropical Storm Bret trashes Jamaica, Trinidad.
  • 14 June, egg-sized hail fell during storms that brought flooding to the northern Loire region of France. 1 dead.
  • Large temp. anomalies in northern USA, Canada. 78 deg. F. forecast for Fort Simpson, NW Territories.
  • Sudden powerful storm trashes the city of Red Deer, Alberta.
  • Quick check around the ‘permafrosted’ land edge of the Arctic ocean shows 30 deg. C. heatwave in arctic Russia/Siberia.
  • Wildfires… everywhere. Grassland fires over Great Plains area reported to be 300% up on 1980s.
  • Also up 300% since 1980s, extreme storms in the western Sahel area of Africa (UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, April 23)
  • Wildfires started by increasing numbers of lightning strikes ‘contributing to rising CO2’.
  • Tsunami caused by undersea slip kills 4 in Greenland. Possible cause: expected increase in seismic activity as land ‘bounces back’ due to icemelt.
  • Temperatures in some parts of the UK exceeded those in Los Angeles and the Bahamas on Monday (19 Jun) as the hottest day of the year so far gripped the country. In Lancashire, roads were seen melting in the high temperatures. – BBC.

Just in case it’s all over before you read this, for the aliens who arrive too late to save us I also need to report:

  • Potentially a monster storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, over the Yucatan peninsula, where there’s been extensive flooding. The chance of a cluster of powerful storm cells merging together has gone from 60% to 80% since Friday, according to USA Today and others, as the system is beginning to rotate ominously. A second tropical cyclone has formed off Belize, and a third is barrelling across the Atlantic from Africa: ‘an unusual event’ to have even two at the same time so early in the season.
  • An unusually long-lasting swarm of earthquakes in the Yellowstone Park supervolcano caldera over the past few weeks – 173 shocks of up to M4.2 recorded since yesterday alone, 500 since 12 Jan. Helium and sulphur gas emissions growing, large cracks appearing and venting. If it does blow, 28 million people will die within three days and the global economy will take fifty years to recover, if ever. Conspiracy theorists are wondering why the US Geological Survey has stopped reporting it.
  • Italian scientists are also concerned about an ancient supervolcano near Mount Vesuvius, right in the middle of Naples, called Campi Flegrei, that is showing signs of waking up.
  • Russia’s defence ministry has said it will treat any plane from the US-led coalition flying west of the Euphrates river in Syria as a ‘potential target’, after the US military shot down a Syrian air force jet on Sunday. Turkish troops have moved to defend Qatar against aggression by other states in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
  • A two-mile wide asteroid with its own moon avoided hitting the earth last week by just 15 million miles. It’s due back in 200 years. NASA is tracking ten more large near-Earth objects.

Bye, y’all. Love you.

The Pumpkin – Issue 21: What is WRONG with him? Kill them all. Everything. Just kill it, okay? More weatherballs.

Sessions in lah-lah land

“With that ambassador ah did naht have intracourse. Dee-testable lahs you are tellin'”

“…meanwhile, he was “100 per cent” prepared to testify that he is innocent of whatever it is he is not being investigated over.”

What is WRONG with him?

Having fired the FBI director James Comey last month, the Sun King from Queen’s found himself in a quandary.

Firing Comey would not make the Russia thing go away. He would have to shut down the entire FBI to do that. Which would look a little suspicious.

He needed someone who would kiss his ring and swear undying fealty, while thrice proclaiming Trump’s innocence to the world from a podium in the White House garden.

For, Comey never said Trump himself IS NOT under investigation. He said he was not AT THAT TIME under investigation. That’s what cost him his job, his refusal to say whether or not Trump MIGHT BE currently being investigated.

Pretty clearly, because Comey would not say he isn’t, but obviously could not say he is, if he was, Trump himself now is under investigation. But dimwitted Fox newsmouths like Ann Coulter, and the flabby-faced GOP Senator Graham continue to parrot Trump’s delusional claim that Comey’s testimony “vindicated” him.

While this feeble propaganda campaign continued, continuing to insult Comey by tweet as a “liar” and a “coward”, once again implicating himself through Freudian transference, the incandescent, panicking President cast about for a replacement for Comey he could characterise as even more ‘strong and stable’ – not a liar, at least.

And meanwhile, he was “100 per cent” prepared to testify that he is innocent of whatever it is he is not being investigated over. He said so at a well-attended press conference, on camera, four days before his press-weasel Sean Spicer told another well-attended media gaggle yesterday that he never said anything of the sort.

Spicey is unravelling fast; a dead spokesperson talking. A spoke.

One of Goldenballs’ first picks for top G-man (there have been five so far) was Joe Lieberman, who had the virtue of never having investigated anyone much. After the failing fake-news media pointed out that Lieberman was a partner in the firm of Trump’s own defence lawyer, Mark Kasowitz, thus creating something of a conflict of interest given the obvious Russia-thing connection, Lieberman resiled himself.

He didn’t need to wait around for the story to get out that he had at one time lobbied for a Libyan businessman linked with the militia group that murdered the American ambassador in Benghazi – one of the many crimes for which Trump felt his opponent, Mrs Clinton, should be locked up.

Trump’s latest pick is Christopher Wray, a Yale Law School graduate – who has never been a policeman, which is a start. Wray’s credentials are, according to the five a.m. tweet from the White House, “impeccable”. USA Today reported: “He has had a decades-long distinguished career as a federal prosecutor and high-level official in the Department of Justice.”

Unfortunately, the euphoria lasted less than a day. USA Today went on to say:

“The most troubling issue that Wray may face is the fact that his law firm — King & Spalding — represents Rosneft and Gazprom, two of Russia’s largest state-controlled oil (don’t forget gas – Gaz is the clue. Ed) companies.”

The Pumpkin enjoys the use of the word “may”.

You would think, wouldn’t you, that Trump might have bothered to discover that before putting Wray in an impossible position? Unless he considers working for the Russians an impeccable credential? (In fairness, we do not know if Wray worked on either account, but as a partner in the firm it doesn’t matter, there’s an automatic conflict of interest.)

Both companies are at the very heart of the Trump regime’s links with Russia; Rosneft in particular having reportedly offered Trump a 19 per cent share of the business if he could get the Obama sanctions lifted, that have been holding up a $500 billion deal with Exxon-Mobil to drill the bejasus out of the rapidly melting Arctic.

Doer of that deal at the time was Texas Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon, holder of the Russian Order of Friendship medal and now Trump’s peripatetic Secretary of State.

The Pumpkin also has a query of his own over the relationship with Gazprom, as the prospective  supply of gas from the ample Israeli offshore and Iranian/Qatari fields through Turkey to the West, bypassing Syria, seems to be a bone of contention with the Russian gas giant, that is naturally seeking to maintain the world price in order to prevent the Russian economy imploding.

Is Trump’s inexplicable turnround on Qatar something to do with the pressure of Gaz? Or – a theory just beginning to twinkle like a candle in the eye of a pumpkin – has Ukraine been plotting to set up an alternative supply pipeline through Turkey from Israel, to break the Russian stranglehold? Does that explain why there seems to be as much of a Ukrainian connection with Elect.Donald as there is a Russian one? What Manafort was doing setting up offshore companies through Panama with Ukrainian money? And what Flynn was doing in Turkey while being paid by a Ukrainian businessman through a Dutch subsidiary?

Whatever, there’s more…

USA Today goes on:

“The law firm’s representation of Gazprom raises even more serious conflict issues for Wray. Gazprom was a partner in RosUkrEnergo AG (“RUE”), which is controlled by Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash. He is under federal indictment in Chicago for racketeering charges, has had numerous financial dealings with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and is generally considered to be a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/06/08/trump-new-fbi-director-chris-wray-russian-ties-rosneft-gazprom-column/102603214/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatoday-newstopstories

The internet was abuzz today with speculation that Trump is considering also firing Robert Mueller, the Special Prosecutor – claiming that he is too close to Comey. (Others might suggest it’s because he’s getting too close to Donny. The Pumpkin couldn’t possibly comment.)

The gamble would have to be that what, as described by David Frum of The Nation magazine, would be like hiring a small plane to write in smoke above the White House: ‘I’m Super-Guilty!’, will not discountenance his Republican acolytes for more than a day or two, and not disturb his dumbfuck supporters or Ms Coulter at all.

Mr Trump has of course tweeted that he is not considering any such thing, so expect Mueller – who has only been in office three weeks – to be gone before the end of the week.

The next difficulty being, only the man who put him in office, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, can fire him. Attorney General Sessions is too busy giving sworn testimony about why he lied about his Russian contacts to the Senate intelligence committee as this article goes to press.*

And if Rosenstein refuses, and resigns, there are so few appointees in the Justice Department it looks like Trump will have to find the cleaner to do it, as the next in line. (16 June, now he is tweeting out, threatening to fire Rosenstein anyway, for letting him be under investigation for obstruction of justice. The man is clearly nuts.)

The Pumpkin needs to ask again, with the greatest of respect:

What is WRONG with him?

 

*STOP PRESS: Sessions assures the committee the suggestion he collaborated with Russians during his four meetings with the Russian ambassador, that he lied about, is a ‘detestable lie’.

Did he really offer to testify just for that? Is anyone telling the truth?

STOP, STOP PRESS: Someone, ‘officials’, has confirmed to the Washington Post today that Trump is indeed under investigation over the Russia thing. Trump’s Fred Karno team of lawyers has hysterically blamed ‘leakers’ in the FBI, but no-one is buying that.

The news, however, does make it a lot harder for Trump to fire anyone connected with the investigation, such as Special Prosecutor Mueller, without another obstruction charge being laid at his door. And saves the Justice Department, especially Deputy A-G Rod Rosenstein, from having to do the dirty deed.

x

Kill them all. Everything, Just kill it, okay?

Mr Trump has not yet signed a Steve Bannon ordinance requiring that ten thousand kittens should be doused in gasoline and set alight on the Supreme Leader’s birthday. (Which happens to be today. 71. They say only the good die young.)

We can however expect it any day.

Mr Trump’s latest reversal of any legislation already on the statute book protecting civilization from total destruction has come in the form of an Executive Order lifting restrictions on fishing nets, mesh-size limits that were aimed at protecting endangered marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and dugongs from becoming by-catch.

Added to the one permitting hunting of she-bears with cubs and during the hibernation season, the shooting of wolves and elk from helicopters with automatic weapons, things hunters have clearly been dying to be allowed to do for years; the ones permitting the polluting of rivers with coal slurry, removing restrictions on methane releases from drilling activities and lifting the cap on vehicle ‘tailpipe’ emissions in cities, and so many, many more, and you have just a frenzied, pathological onslaught on the planet that must, surely, end with the arraignment of this gross, inhuman old monster on charges of crimes against humanity.

Indeed, it is impossible to see what will be accomplished by them?

The minor massacres that have seen various warlords and nationalist leaders held to account at The Hague pale into insignificance compared with what this money-breathing sonofabitch is doing to our planet.

But why? Why is he doing it?

It goes way beyond the obvious influence on his presidency of the energy-industry donors and their hugely well-remunerated lobbyists, disgusting human centipedes like Myron Ebell, his Exxon-fuelled energy advisor. Those people have known precisely the effects of burning carbon in the atmosphere for over 40 years. It’s cost them hundreds of millions to hush it up.

It goes beyond, too, any concern the four-times bankrupted Great Businessman, with his billion-dollar unpaid debts to foreign banks may have for a business community hedged about and fretting with unnecessary restrictions; conservative policies one might at a pinch just about make sense of. Trump has no knowledge of economics beyond running a medium-size family business and a TV show; by ‘running’ I mean just flying by the seat of his pants, bilking his creditors, getting by through having hysterical screaming fits and uttering threats and lawsuits if things don’t go his way.

Even the business community is reeling at some of the things he has done, as his actions will in fact hinder economic progress. The majority of voters, over 70 per cent, many tech billionaires, State governors and even energy-industry giants like the Secretary of State, Rex Tillexxon (former salary as Exxon-Mobil CEO £100,000 – A DAY), have tried and failed to persuade Trump to stay in the Paris accord, as it is non-binding and will not, as he appears to imagine, damage the economy; in fact it offers unrivalled opportunities for growth.

His huge giveaway tax-cuts to the wealthiest one per cent haven’t gone down well either. Even the business community understands that you need a thriving middle-class to buy more stuff. Giving their children asthma, poisoning the water and knocking points off their IQ is hardly going to endear him to them. His approval rating is now 60 per cent NEGATIVE.

Yet even as his presidency unravels in the total chaos of his administration amid numerous investigations of criminal wrongdoing, and the power-crazed Chief Executive resorts to a cult of personality and makes mafia-style demands that his people bow down and worship him with grotesque expressions of love, loyalty and lavish praise for his many invisible achievements, his popularity, a sure sign that he is as crazy as a box of frogs; even as he fails to get a single significant item of his program passed by the Congress, the US economy is moving ahead so fast that the Fed has had to hike the interest rate again.

How is that possible?

Well, it’s a sort of vindication of the Bannon doctrine, a logical development of Friedmanomics, the full realization of Ayn Rand, of Atlas shrugging, isn’t it: Government is just a waste of resources, a waste of money, and entirely unnecessary to an economy that, given total freedom and the removal of all laws and taxes, the total suppression of dissent, the manipulation of public opinion, the cynical abuse of democratic institutions and the disenfranchisement of the poorer class, will run itself.

Either that, or the country will disintegrate in a welter of violence and confusion that can only be good for the well-defended billionaires hunkered-down in their subterranean playgrounds, to emerge as Lords of the Universe and rebuild the smoking ruins in their image.

Trump is the summation of all the evils being perpetrated by these crazy bastards, a devil-child, and the more power he accumulates the crazier and more lethal he’s going to get.

x

Dumbfuck news

A teacher in Maryland has been suspended for Photoshopping the name Trump off the T-shirts of pupils whose photos appear in the school yearbook. Parents are furious, although one suspects other parents might have been equally furious if the propaganda images had been left in.

There is, of course, a question over whether political slogans of any kind ought to be permitted on school property: if they allow this, how would they stop a pupil supporting something more worthwhile, like Rise Against, Jeremy Corbyn, or Podemos?

And how are the kids going to feel in years to come when they proudly open their yearbook and remember they were just little dumbfucks being taken for a ride by the most spectacularly self-interested criminal failure of a US President since Warren G Harding? Especially if their parents have died from uninsured cancers?

It doesn’t appear to have occurred to the terrified Principal, who is presumably expecting a knock on the door at 4 am from one of the many local militias now assisting police with crushing dissent. After all, the new Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos spent a lot of money buying the Presidency for her friend, Mr Trump.* Who knows what Cruella DeVil could do to a school?

Anyway, if you don’t want to see a before-and-after photo of what a Trump supporter looks like while it’s still in high school, look away now:

A citizen of tomorrow.

*Footnote: a report out today (14 June) concludes that you can buy an election online for $400,000. Betsy must be kicking herself: she and Dick threw $22 million at it. (Trend Micro)

Foot-footnote: The above photograph of a pupil at the unidentified school in my story showing him wearing a Trump T-shirt and then a doctored plain T-shirt has been taken down by WordPress, at whose request and for what reason I know not.

THe BogPo republished a photograph that had been widely published already elsewhere on reputable news sites, to illustrate my point about political propaganda in schools, without making any comment detrimental to the boy and without identifying him or giving any details enabling him to be identified or targeted by anyone.

The BogPo apologizes if we have transgressed the rules and regulations of the WordPress website, but I must remark that it’s a bit rich considering WordPress is constantly sending me Spam messages that have defeated their controls and refuses to engage with my complaints on that issue.

x

“…these events are not in themselves so far out of the ordinary that they have never been observed before. But reporting them individually may be masking the global effect.”

More Weatherballs

I’m sorry to bang on about it, but turning to the BBC world weather news you’ll just get bland assurances that everything is normal, everywhere – and it bloody isn’t.

It just isn’t.

What evidence?

Well, it’s been snowing quite heavily over the weekend in northern California and Nevada, where ski resorts are enjoying a late flurry. It’s mid-June. While there’s a record 95+ deg F. heatwave building over almost all the rest of the United States east of the Rockies. Thirty wildfires are burning across Arizona, more in Colorado. Nine hundred there already this year.

It was over 105 deg F. in the daytime in Phoenix all last week; cooler today at only 96. The Telegraph reports: “The United States is experiencing its widest-spread drought in 56 years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that some 55 percent of the contiguous United States, particularly in the Midwest, suffered from drought last month.”

Although, as we reported, there were widespread floods elsewhere in the midwest.

In the Pacific Northwest, up to a foot of snow was forecast for the Mount Bachelor area, with an inch or so expected in Portland; by contrast, 86 deg F. in Hudson’s Bay north of the Arctic circle doesn’t look too hopeful for the permafrost and its volatile burden of methane.

Western Cape province, S Africa, the fires we reported on last week are still blazing. Despite the record-breaking storm that started them, the region has only 26 days’ supply of drinking water.

In Zhengzou province, SE China, 240 mm of rain fell so fast, it knocked down houses. 100,000 people were evacuated in the path of Typhoon Merbok, that crossed Hong Kong to the mainland yesterday. Exceptionally heavy monsoon rains and storms have killed twelve people in Maharashtra province, India (that’s Mumbai).

More floods are expected in New South Wales, Australia, as 200 mm rain falls in 24 hours. Not for the first time this year. Tropical Storm Calvin made landfall in Mexico, with heavy rain and landslides. 61 people have been killed in landslides after heavy rain in Bangladesh. Omsk in Russia is underwater following a spectacular storm featuring a powerful and not very usual tornado.

Oh, and it’s been snowing in Greece.

Now, these events are not each in themselves so far out of the ordinary that they have never been observed before. But not all at the same time! Not all with such intensity, such as the 120 deg F. heatwaves across India that are now a regular summer occurrence. And not in living memory in some of the places observed. Reporting them individually or even disregarding them entirely may be masking the global effect of an average rise of just 1.5 degrees.

Taken with reports over previous weeks of floods, storms, droughts and wildfires all around the world they paint an increasingly aberrant picture of a climate spinning out of control.

What’s even odder is how normal everything seems to be here, where I’m sitting, writing. Apart from the astonishing florabundance and vibrant health of the vegetation cover in our valley, the weather just couldn’t get more normal for western Britain, completely unremarkable for at least the past two years.

Which is weird in itself, don’t you agree?

(Main source: Climate and Extreme Weather News, #33)

The Pumpkin – Issue 12. The great wiretapping scandal: Pumpkin indicted by Grand Jury. Flynn-flam #2.

“Ya know, like this. “””Wiretapping”””. I speak, sick Black Satan listens. So bad.”

The President is really wired

It’s all my fault, as usual.

Several days ago, on or about 7 March, not long, anyway, after President Trump had sent his 4 a.m. Sunday 4th tweet accusing the 44th President of illegal wiretapping, and the FBI had said it was nonsense, I made what I thought was a joke. (It’s a habit of mine, I’m really, really sorry.)

I wrote on a Comment thread under a US cable TV story that the FBI must then have borrowed the UK government ‘listening post’, GCHQ in Cheltenham, to spy on the goings-on in Trump Tower.

I reasoned that, while it’s illegal in the USA to wiretap people without a warrant from a Federal judge or FISA, a ‘security court’ that handles this stuff, in Britain under the new Investigatory Powers Act – the so-called Snoopers’ Charter – brought in by former UK intel boss, the ice-woman Theresa May, it’s probably legal to snoop on anyone, anywhere.

Even your Smart dumpster bin is reporting your every movement. As for your microwave….

But I had no knowledge of that, it was just – I don’t know, a satirical suggestion – a joke. I watch a lot of clips from US TV cable news sites on YouTube. The more reputable ones, mind, not the crazies. Sometimes I make jokes or score points underneath. Bad (sick), I know. But I’m retired, I make my own reality.

And now there’s an incredible row going on at the highest level between Britain and America over sharing intel. We’re practically at war.

Hey, you know those cases on TV where someone goes missing and the police decide with no evidence they’ve been murdered, there’s no body, and they start a big murder inquiry, and the person eventually turns up in Guatemala unaware anyone was looking for them, after the supposed killer has already been jailed or worse? You know, it’s true, it was on, like, Inspector Montalbano or Murder She Wrote?

Well, it’s like that.

Here’s The Guardian story this morning, hold on to your hat. But before you read it, just bear one small fact in mind:

There was no wiretap at Trump Tower.

Okay, now go ‘head…

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/17/white-house-will-not-be-repeat-claims-gchq-spied-trump-?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=217901&subid=19570602&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

You see what I mean?

And it’s all my fault. I am so, so sorry.

 

“The unravelling Press flack, Sean Spicer, crawled once more to the battered podium, wounds visibly bleeding, to defend his Master’s madness, seizing on a morning panel show discussion on Fox News as the smoking gun”

24 hours ago…

So, Mr Trump has been a chump. It seems that one of his staffers slipped into his morning reading – The Beano, New York Post, Mad Magazine, National Enquirer, etc., a page pulled from Breitbart News, claiming Barack Obama had “wiretapped” the Trump Tower.

Mr Trump immediately went cuckoo-shit crazy. Instead of checking with the FBI, who would have been able to carry out the wiretapping only with a warrant and would therefore know if Trump had been eavesdropped or not, and would have had to tell him, because he’s the President, as we now know, at 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning he Tweeted out, accusing Obama of a federal felony.

Breitbart had most probably picked up the story from the clinically insane InfoWars website of Alex Jones (who – genuinely – believes Michelle Obama is a transgender male who had the comedienne Joan Rivers killed to stop her saying so); who in turn had got hold of it from another crazed rightwing radio shock-jock and millionaire motormouth, Mark Levin, who seems to be the one who originally made up the fake news; although who told him, we have yet to find out – if it didn’t come from the White House as a distraction from ongoing investigations into one or other of the President’s many crimes.

Confronted not only by the FBI director James Comey, but also by the leaders in the Senate of both Republican and Democrat parties, and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who all said the story was complete bullshit and without a shred of evidence, Mr Trump, who can sometimes be a fatuous, childish oaf, but with tenacity, dug in his little heels. Were these not his sworn enemies who were saying these nasty, unfair things? Of course, their denials prove Black Satan bugged his office! Why, for proof just look to Fox News! The New York Times!… er…

The unravelling Press flack, Sean Spicer, crawled once more to the battered podium, wounds visibly bleeding, to defend his Master’s madness, seizing on a morning panel show discussion on Fox News as the smoking gun. Did not no less a personage than former Judge Andrew Napoletano just say that it was the British GCHQ secret spy headquarters that had conspired with the FBI and the demon, Obama, to (frantic air-quotes) “”””wiretap”””” the Presidential candidate? (He has already explained that the President didn’t mean “wiretap” when he wrote “wiretap”, he meant just any old kind of surveillance we might find evidence for, like sentient microwave ovens.)

Don’t all Hollywood villains have British accents? Case closed!

And today GCHQ has gone public with not just a self-effacing British-type apology for not being guilty of the crime, but with a full 32-gun broadside that has resulted in an actual APOLOGY from somewhere in the Administration and a promise not to do it again. How dare the Colonials make such a ludicrous and damaging assertion, that GCHQ eavesdrops on people! Nonsense, the toroidal structure is just an indoor greyhound racing stadium! A particle accelerator! A starship left over from Prometheus!

And if you think about it, which Trump clearly can’t now allow himself to, even if he had the necessary apparatus under the thatch, because he criminally  libelled ’44’, the previous POTUS; and ‘Judge Nap’ clearly hadn’t thought about it either, before he verbally retweeted my Comment, any such request from the US would have had to come from the FBI via the State Department to the Home Office and thence on up to the Prime Minister herself.

Of course, as Wikileaks tells us, everyone monitors everyone else’s diplomatic traffic.

But if the Prime Minister of a friendly country had personally approved an illegal wiretap on a US Presidential candidate without a reason, such as an imminent security threat to the UK, we’d be at war by now. And if the FBI had obtained a warrant from FISA, it could only be because they’d been able to present convincing evidence of serious wrongdoing. And if that was the case, they would have confronted Mr Trump personally.

So the entire thing collapses into a puddle of liquid shit, quite honestly. But…

Oh. My. God.

Did Judge Napolitano possibly read my Comment?

I was only joking, honest, your Honor.

 

Postscriptum

And now I have meanly Googled Hizzonner ‘Judge Nap’, and it seems he is a member of Ron Paul’s slightly unhinged Libertarian Party and the author of a book comparing Americans to sheep, in which he asks why they are letting the Obama government get away with trampling over their Constitutional rights and ” systematically dismantling the rights and freedoms that are the foundation of American democracy”?

Should be an interesting conversation with Steve Bannon, then.

 

Oh God, make him stop!

Mr Trump has finally met Mrs Merkel, leader of the most powerful economy in Europe, after a flight delayed by ‘less snow than expected’.

And immediately made a comment remarkable for its cretinous banality and diplomatic ineptitude: “We have something in common, we’ve both been wiretapped… perhaps.”

No-one apart from Trump and 60 per cent of his pet Dumbfucks – no-one in a position to actually know, that is – believes his bollocks about wiretapping by President Obama at Trump Tower during the election campaign. He is just obsessed with symmetry.

It’s an election campaign Orange Satan is still running in his head, obsessively over and over – to the point where he keeps having to go out on the road to engage with aircraft hangars packed full of adoring, slobbering, AR-15-toting millennialist cretins, angry people with Bibles and frustrated, weeping housewives dying for him to grab their pussies with his little orange hands – as he can’t bear knowing he really lost and has to find someone to blame.

The head of the FBI and senior Congressional leaders have all said they don’t believe it. There is no evidence of “”””wiretapping””””, as Sean ‘Melissa’ Spicey calls it, with frantic wiggling of his little chubby fingers. Challenged to produce evidence, after two weeks Trump has come up with precisely nothing. Nada. Zilch. He has had to row back on speculation started by a feral pundit on Fox News (or ‘Fake Fur’ as it’s known in fashion circles) that it must have been British intel – he says we don’t know that, so, ya know…. No, Donald, we don’t.

Because it didn’t happen, okay?

There is not a shred of evidence that Trump Tower was bugged – other than probably by Trump himself, on behalf of the Russian FRS (Bogler, you’ve been warned! Ed.) – other than an article in Breitbart News based on the ravings of Alex Jones, a congenital moron with a toy website.

Fake news, in which the paranoid and delusional President increasingly believes. (Or does he? It’s a wonderful diversion, is it gnot, from the many and several FBI and Senate investigations into possibly treasonous criminal financial links between Trump, his campaign people and the Russkies, the Iranian National Guard, Beelzebub…. )

Mrs Merkel however was “””wiretapped””” – at least, her official telephone conversations were listened-in to. The evidence – the complaint and the apology – is all there for anyone to see. Admitted.

By the CIA. Probably via GCHQ. Or lizards from the ninth planet, Nibiru…  (Just shut up, Bogler! Ed.)

She was not impressed.

* If you don’t believe in conspiracies, pray tell me how, hours after making that last facetious comment, I got a ‘recommended for you’ in the YouTube sidebar, from some crazies offering me documentary proof that Earth is menaced by the planet Nibiru? Huh? Is The Pumpkin being tapped? (It sure as hell isn’t being read…)

x

The Flynn-flam #2

And a new point of interest is set to emerge, regarding General Flynn’s relations with the Russians.

It appears from records supplied to MSNBC News by his agent that Flynn was paid $33 thousand for PR work – he claims, a speaking engagement – apparently by a defunct Russian airline in connection with the successful Russian bid for the Sochi olympics, in possible contravention of a rule preventing retired Army personnel from receiving payments from foreign powers without permission from the Pentagon. (That was when he was pictured having dinner with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.)

During the Presidential campaign, it also emerged, he had been in contact with Russia several times, but had denied it when asked by V-P Mike Pence – for which he was later fired as Trump’s National Security Advisor. At the same time, his PR firm was also earning $530,000 for work on behalf of the Turkish government, requiring a special registration under restrictions on lobbying for foreign governments, for which Flynn applied only retrospectively. This was known to the White House, who then waited three weeks before doing anything about him.

It later emerged that this stuff only came to light because Flynn’s contacts with Russia had been under surveillance by the security agencies. Security agencies are by law only allowed to monitor US citizens on a warrant issued by a special court on the basis of evidence alleging strong suspicion of criminality or security concerns. But they can “””wiretap””” non-citizens, and as it takes two to make a conversation….

So what was it Flynn was supposed to have done, how if he was suspected of criminal associations or security concerns did he manage to obtain security clearance at the very highest level in order to become the man in charge of national security, and why did the White House and Congress approve his appointment seemingly without due diligence?

This information has been subpoena’d from the security agencies by Congress and is due possibly to emerge blinking into the light anyday now*.

I’m grateful entirely to Rachel Maddow at MSNBC for this story, broken yesterday, which I just thought I’d drop in here for you by way of a PS, on a ‘need to know’ basis, obviously, as The Pumpkin has previously shown an interest in General Flynn’s son’s PR activities in generating fake news about Mrs Clinton, a pizza restaurant and the worldwide paedophile ring.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, you might say.

*As of close-of-play-Friday’s deadline, both the FBI and the CIA were reportedly still refusing to release the information on Flynn demanded by the Congressional Intelligence Committee. A constitutional crisis appears to be looming.

x

“The logical concomitant of this crazed theory is that Russia could conceivably outbid NATO for the use of America’s gargantuan and overbloated military forces.”

Mr ‘two-percent’

Asked whether the US would provide military defense to Baltic countries if Russia were to attack, Trump said: “If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.” – Trump, interviewed at The New York Times. Guardian.

So, this will be the first pay-as-you-go war.

“You pay us two per cent of your GDP and we’ll defend you. If not, we’ll hand you over to the Russians.” It could make for a very interesting geopolitical strategy: they’d defend England, for instance, but not an independent Scotland – unless Scotland were to stump up the cash and England not. They’d let Russian forces leapfrog over the defended Baltic republics that have paid, to get to undefended Germany or Spain that hasn’t.

What the fuck goes through this bizarre man’s mind when he wakes up every day, not knowing what day of the week it is?

The logical concomitant of this crazed theory is that Russia could conceivably outbid NATO for the use of America’s gargantuan and overbloated military forces. If Russia offered Trump more money, America would come in on their side and help them conquer Europe.

(Oh, did I just say something? No, forget it.)

Not everything in the world is a purely financial transaction, Donald!

It is quite astonishing, not that Trump is an ignorant fool who has throughout his wasteful, boastful and selfish existence paid no attention whatsoever to anything outside his own desperately limited universe of ‘deals’, shitty TV shows with lots of ‘pussy’ and tax-avoidance scams, but that even now he has been handed the most important work in the world he cannot be arsed to brief himself on any subject related to the job.

It turns out that he has actually believed all along that NATO pays America to defend Europe.

Which is why he’s been bitching for months on the campaign trail that too many NATO members aren’t paying their way, to deserve being ‘defended’ by America; and that therefore NATO is a bad idea and should be replaced with something else.

Like ‘Trumpcare’, maybe?

Since he hasn’t the faintest idea of what a treaty is, it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s just say, I’ve bogld before that ‘two per cent of GDP’ is a meaningless comparison between countries, as each spends its defence budget in different ways depending on its perceived defence needs. I wrote in those terms, because it had not occurred to me that Trump actually thinks the money has to be paid to the US treasury, or the Pentagon, or Boeing or something, rather than internally within the member countries; and that it’s an aspiration, a target – not a price ticket for admission.

Britain spends approximately 16 per cent of its defence budget – in turn, theoretically 2.1 per cent of our £1.5 trillion GDP – buying arms from America. Much of the money is wasted, as we don’t have the homegrown technical staff needed to build and operate the advanced weapons platforms America supplies us with, and rely on imported American personnel operating here. And of course, there are US bases on British soil. Does that count as a plus or minus, in terms of our GDP?

The two new aircraft carriers we have been building for years at monstrous cost, vulnerable, slow and outmoded coffin-ships gobbling money stripped from the old, the sick, the disabled and schoolchildren, are proving a disaster in trials: the best you can say about them is they do appear at least to float. The new Type 45 destroyers, the F-35s, all have had major and excruciatingly expensive teething troubles. If the kit doesn’t work, is our 2.1 per cent of GDP being better spent than Denmark’s 1.37 per cent ($3 billion) – bearing in mind, Denmark is a third the size of the UK? Whenever you see a NATO operation, the Danes are there, with their horned helmets and their axes.

You see, our defence capability depends on what ‘two per cent’ buys you. It doesn’t stop the Government from running down our actual force capability to the point where the generals have been warning it cannot meet our overseas commitments and defend the country against our invisible enemies.

But at least we’re spending lots of money, showing our colours, unlike those lousy freeloading Germans. No sooner had Merkel departed from Washington with relief predominant among the mixed emotions she clearly felt at having spent a day with the most bewilderingly ignorant and undiplomatic man on the planet, the orange loon Tweeted in his familiar, illiterate style:

…vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany! @real donald etc.

But the US doesn’t pay ‘vast sums’ of money to NATO, it doesn’t work like that! NATO is a treaty organisation between countries guaranteeing mutual assistance, not an independent military force like Blackwater or Boko Haram. NATO’s budget is just to keep a bunch of bureaucrats in a building somewhere and hold the odd conference. When ‘NATO forces’ go into action, as they have in Iraq, in Afghanistan, as they did in Korea, on the side of the Americans, they are made up of scraps and units from lots of different countries within the alliance; they’re not some ‘European army’ as he seems to imagine, that he is paying for, that needs bigging-up.

He has no comprehension of history or international politics. And if anyone is advising him about this, who isn’t being paid by the Russians to ix things up, then he ain’t listening. But he certainly understands the concept of gouging the poorest people in the country to bloat his own military-industrial complex, pouring cash down the throats of the global corporate arms-peddlars for the greater glory of Trump Family Inc.

The tragedy is, his many adoring fans will never wake up to what he has done to them.

You’re being Dumbfucked, America.

Postscriptum

And then there is the entirely believable story that Trump handed Merkel a fake invoice claiming $390 billion to pay for the past 70 years of US defense of Germany.

The ‘joke’ was to point up that Germany spends only 1.7% of its GDP on defense. As I’ve bogld previously, Trump believes there is an arrangement whereby every NATO member has to pay the USA 2% of its GDP to belong. He has no idea what a treaty is, or what the Cold War was about.

The execrably stupid Mr Trump is not only unfit to be the President of the United States.

He is unfit, period.

 

Job for the boy

I’ve just learned there is a Mr Skellytanne Conway.

Yes, Trump’s vanishing factual advisor has a husband. And he’s just been given a job on the Transition Team, or wherever the hell we are after two exciting months trapped on the rollercoaster from hell. So there’s two of them now.

That’ll teach the ‘Enemies of the people’ not to make stuff up.