A Pumpkin of great dimension emerges! “I wanted nothing!”… The Madness of King Donald… In passing, back to Sondland… Julian Assange and The Curse of the White House… Russiagate – a timeline… Is this a dagger I see before me?… GW, etc.)

Light fantastic

Just a brief note from your old Uncle: I am now able to do this much, in short bursts and in very large print! And, by God, there’s a lot to do…. My eye specialist is hopeful of further recovery, although I have to say, everything looks rather odd still, there are no straight lines, it’s always foggy, I can’t stop crying and I require a further operation in January.

Happy days!

 

Quote of the Week:

“Look, Rudy Giuliani is up to his neck in crime.”

Mimi Rocah, former assistant DA for the SDNY, guesting on MSNBC.

 

“I WANTED NOTHING! I WANTED NOTHING!”

“This is the last word of the President of the United States of America!”

Thus Mr Trump on the White House lawn, 21 November, bellowing over the racket of his helicopter, that never sleeps (or flies in the rain) at a small knot of cowed hacks, like a furious baby reading from a page of enormous but very simple notes written with his favorite black magic marker, protesting that his “perfect” phone call showed he never asked for anything from Ukraine in return for US military aid and a prestige meeting for President Zelinskiy at the White House; in fact he specifically asked NOT to be given anything….

“I wanted nothing, I wanted nothing” – wailed the note, in all-caps. “No quid pro quo. Tell Zellinsky (sic) to do the right thing (being what? Ed.). This is the last word from the Pres of the US.”

The problem being, the call in which he now protests he said he wanted nothing (and that is his last word! We can but hope) and specified no quid, etc. was only the latest in a long series of calls to Kyiv and Moscow in which he definitely DID want something, and was made on the day AFTER the Inspector General of Intelligence Services had gone to the Department of Justice to warn them that a whistleblower had come to him with a report that the president had possibly committed an impeachable offence involving a breach of national security.

In other words, the president’s alibi is located in time on 9 September, only AFTER he had been caught out committing the impeachable offence, originally in a 25 July phone call to Zelinskiy which was witnessed by innumerable officials listening in; and whose transcripts were hurriedly locked away by lawyers in a Top Secret Intel server, to be replaced by a redacted call summary Mr Trump insists is the complete and actual version of his “perfect call” to his fellow TV show performer, although it really isn’t.

(He has even distributed thousands of free T-shirts urging supporters to “Read the Transcript!” which, of course, they can’t as it has yet to be released.)

And I thought they have all these wonderful detectives in America, who would immediately have pounced on this significant discrepancy. Sadly, few even in the media noticed the flaw in Trump’s timeline.

Another instance of obstruction of justice, then, a manufactured alibi to add to the witness intimidation with which he has responded via Twitter to the House of Representatives’ official inquiry into his actions, is going to go unpunished. How the hell does he do that, every time?

Some of those officials have had the guts to come forward and testify under oath that, listening to both ends of the calls, it was clear that Trump wanted Zelinskiy to announce a corruption investigation into former Vice-President Joe Biden and his feckless son, otherwise he would (illegally) not release $391 million in military aid already approved by Congress, to support Ukraine in resisting the Russian incursion into the Donbass region.

How convenient was that for Mr Putin!

There is apparently a statute covering that too, which Trump also broke. It says that once aid has been approved by Congress for delivery to a certified recipient, it is not in the president’s power to hold it up for six months, not even as a “quid pro quo” for helping to rig his re-election. Various people seem to have been asleep on the job, as it wasn’t realized the aid promised in April had been held up until early in September – and then no-one but the president and his henchmen knew why.

And in fact Trump has already publicly admitted doing it; as has Mr Mulvaney, his embattled Chief of Staff; as have certain of those despatched to Ukraine in support of Mr Trump’s agenda, such as Energy Secretary Perry and, most importantly, EU ambassador Gordon Sondland, a hapless placeman and Trump pawn who has testified that yes, there was indeed a “quid pro quo” involved, a fact which he had initially denied under oath.

Furthermore, compelling witness testimony from expert diplomatic and intelligence officials involved with the Ukraine theater has also asserted that Mr Trump seemed to be running a shadow foreign policy operation independently of the State Department to “get this done”, as he told Sondland – a hotels magnate whom he now claims he barely knew, although he did pay Trump a million dollars for the EU posting – for domestic political purposes, both to discredit his main campaign rival and to force the Ukrainian government to admit – risibly – that they, and not Russia, were responsible for hacking the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee in 2016. (See STOP PRESS below); and that a mythical “missing server” (that’s about Trump’s level of technological awareness) is hiding in Ukraine somewhere, brimful of evidence to incriminate Hillary Clinton. Possibly he genuinely believes it.

Russian interference has always been a sore point with Trump, as in his diseased mind it delegitimizes his election; which is why he was so keen to bury the Mueller investigation, that uncovered reams of evidence showing “collusion” between Trump’s election campaign and Moscow. Such irrelevant, petty obsessions haunt him, day and night, so that he cannot move on.

Rudy, my dear

In charge of the Ukraine operation, which began with a campaign on Inauguration Day, 20 January 2017, to remove a possibly obstructive US diplomat in Kyiv, Ambassador Maria Yovanovych, was Mr Trump’s “personal lawyer”, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an elderly serial divorcé with no formal government position or authority; nor, seemingly, mental capacity.

Mr Giuliani appears to have been operating in Ukraine using two native agents allegedly with US mafia associations, Lev Parnas and Igor Frumin. Both men are now under indictment and awaiting trial for money laundering, over $320 thousand having made its way into Trump’s re-election campaign funds via a false-front energy company they had set up with Giuliani in Florida. (It’s about the energy, stoopid!)

The strong suspicion is that the money – which was also used to pay Giuliani’s fees, since Trump is apparently not paying him (is he hiding income from his latest ex-wife, they ask?) – came from a sanctioned Ukrainian oligarch, Dmitry (or Dmytro) Firtash, who is on an FBI most wanted list describing him as a senior figure in the Russian mafia.

Mr Firtash, whose enormous wealth is derived from a contract granted to him by Mr Putin to act as the middleman in the matter of all Ukraine’s Russian gas supply contracts, is currently fighting extradition to the USA from Austria, a country to which Parnas and Frumin were found on arrest to be holding one-way plane tickets; while enquiries revealed, Mr Giuliani had also acquired a plane ticket to Vienna.

(Later evidence has emerged that the aim of their visit may have been to hold further discussions with the disgraced former Ukrainian government prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who also lives in Vienna, and whom fanatical Trump-enabling Congressman Devin Nunes refuses to say whether or not he also met last year on a trip to Europe arranged by Parnas, to discuss smearing the Bidens… now read on, if you can!)

And, according to reports, advising Mr Giuliani on his Ukraine excursions from his Federal prison cell, to which he is said to have made several visits, was none other than Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman – another person Trump has claimed he barely knew, but an expert nevertheless on Ukrainian politics.

Manafort, who had/has extensive contacts for decades with Russian and Ukrainian “oligarchs”, some said by the FBI to be high-level organized crime figures, is serving seven years for a range of electoral and financial offences, one of the principal pieces of evidence against him being a “little black book” detailing $millions in undeclared payments from former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych, a kleptocrat and Putin ally who was forced out in the 2014 Maidan Square “velvet revolution”, whose own election success had depended on a dirty tricks operation alleging corruption against his rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, masterminded by his PR advisors, Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates – now himself on trial and awaiting sentence.

(I am indebted as always for much of the above to Ms Rachel Maddow, doyenne of dot-joiners and host of her own MSNBC primetime evening show; and to my phenomenal memory for her and others’ bygone broadcasts…. – UB)

It seems then that one more aim of Giuliani’s efforts in the Ukraine had been to get Yanukovych’s successor, Petro Poroshenko, to somehow declare the notebook a forgery, and thus provide grounds for a Manafort appeal. When Poroshenko lost his presidency this year to the former TV sitcom star, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in April Giuliani and Trump turned their attentions to pressuring the tyro politician elected on an anti-corruption ticket into taking actions in support of their rackety agenda, which he has thus far refused to do.

Those efforts included sending the low-wattage Texan Energy Secretary, Rick Perry to Zelenskiy’s inauguration as the senior US representative, a calculated insult.*** While there, he allegedly spent the time attempting to do a private deal over liquefied natural gas imports from the US. But also implicated in the effort to extort concessions – described by National Security advisor John Bolton, who wanted no part of it, as “the drug deal” – were Secretary of State Pompeo, Attorney-General Barr and Vice-President Pence.

Really, given that I have not yet started on Giuliani’s attempts via Parnas and Frumin to get a Trump shill onto the board of the Ukrainian national gas company, Naftogaz, the murkiness of this entire story is just astounding. But possibly not as astounding as the attempts by the Republican caucuses in both houses of Congress to derail and defeat the impeachment process against Trump.

What on earth do they think they are doing, continuing to ally themselves with this profoundly, blatantly corrupt individual – who, if the chips were down, would surely show them no loyalty whatsoever?*

Having exhausted just about every crass and infantile objection to the lawful investigations and legal processes, having attempted to smear, threaten and discredit the witnesses – Trump having forbidden any White House staff from testifying at all, even under legal subpoena – as well as decrying the official enquiry chairman, the well-thought-of Congressman Schiff, as a “traitor” – having threatened to punish the whistleblower, as if that person’s supposedly protected standing has any bearing on the impeachable crime of bribery that Trump has already admitted to – after endless attempts to muddy the waters with reckless and bizarre diversionary excuses for Trump’s proven misconduct – such as that he was hoping to stamp out corruption in Ukraine, Europe’s second-most corrupt country* – the party line is now one of sullen defiance:

He did it, so what?

Without a 2/3rds majority in the Senate, which the Democrats do not command, Trump cannot be impeached; impeachment itself as we saw with Bill Clinton need not anyway result in removal from office. And polls formerly in favor of impeachment are starting to show that as witness after witness continues to uphold their oath of office, honorably and credibly laying out the damning events as they experienced them, the public is already bored and restless to move on.

Too much information! Too many facts. Not enough pzazz!

Despite the mountain of totally believable testimony against him, the evidence of the “top secret” transcripts of his calls and the profoundly disturbing implications of his association, direct or indirect, with indicted criminal elements (whom, guess what, despite plentiful photographic evidence, he claims not to know); despite the trails of dirty money and the 480 pages of indisputably damning evidence in the Mueller report, despite all the evidence against him that came out last year in the Manafort and Cohen trials, the conviction last week of his friend, Roger Stone on seven counts of – I don’t know, shitty things that show Trump lied to the FBI – despite admissions that he has been giving certain congressmen money and assurances of preferment, and despite their poor showing in recent special elections, it is totally unlikely that a single Republican congressman in either house will dare to vote for his impeachment.

He keeps all their little furry balls in a row of labelled jars on a hard-to-reach shelf in the closet.

While his principal enablers like the smarmy and duplicitous Senator Graham – currently transitioning into an elderly woman – and the pudgy, hangdog Attorney-General William Barr, another corrupted Trump placeman regretting he ever met the guy, Nunes also, are all busily announcing their own menacing, Nazi-style hit squad “investigations” into his accusers, whom Trump has accused of “treason”.

If these bungling incompetents, Don Trumpo’s Army, can get him off the serious charges of Federal offences that he has without any doubt committed in plain sight, do not doubt they can get him re-elected next year.

Welcome to the mafia state.**

*Transparency International places Ukraine (120th) far below the USA (22nd) on its most corrupt index, better only in Europe than the Catholic Church in Rome! Yet corruption in the USA is vast, and rampantly on show, even in the Senate. It depends on your definition. Is stealing people’s votes to get your own man into office corruption? Is accepting vast donations to your Political Action Committee corruption? What if you then show extraordinary favors to your donors? Is selling access to the President corruption? How about obliging staff and visiting dignitaries to stay in your own hotels?

In any case, Herculean efforts have been made in Ukraine to divert energy profits away from people like Firtash and back to the state. See: www/nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/ukraine-one-world’s-most-corrupt-countries-49712

**A new podcast from the reliable independent journalist, Thom Hartman, and his excitable collaborator, JFK conspiracy author Lamar Waldron, details a chain of events involving the mafia, from 1960 Cuba, the Bay of Pigs invasion and the crazed plots with the CIA to rub out Fidel Castro, via the assassination of the anti-mafia crusading JFK (the “One bullet, seven wounds” theory), through Watergate (Nixon was politically funded by the mob in LA, some of whose members took part in the burglary) to the present day White House, where Trump is continuing to defy a Congressional deadline to release “millions” of pages of unseen CIA files from the JFK investigations, potentially detailing mafia infiltration of the government, that were due for publication in 2017.

Make of that what you will.

***Mr Perry is on video record as declaring Mr Trump to be an emissary of God, sent to redeem America. I’m increasingly convinced higher levels of carbon dioxide are not doing the human brain any good.

 

STOP PRESS Papers released overnight, 22/23 November, by the State Department under a court order obtained by non-partisan ethics watchdog, American Oversight are showing an actual paper trail connecting Giuliani and (now) Secretary of State Pompeo with the 2017 plot to unseat US Ambassador to the Ukraine, Maria Yovanovych as a prelude to the campaign to force Ukraine to absolve the Russians of involvement in the 2016 election and smear the Bidens.

The trail apparently stops at the Oval Office with signatures from Trump’s personal secretary. (Reporting: MSNBC) Many more files are expected to be released shortly. American Oversight has apparently been able to exploit a legal loophole to obtain the papers under FOI, that the White House lawyers had failed to close in their campaign of obstruction. The State Department had hitherto been successfully defying a Congressional subpoena to release the evidence, but it seems they’ve been caught on the hop by a citizens’ pressure group.

Watch that space!

 

The Madness of King Donald…

Asked by reporters on a visit to an Apple plant in Texas what he had thought of the testimony that morning of EU Ambassador Sondland, his pointman on the Ukraine extortion operation, Trump said it was great as Sondland had clearly testified there was NO “quid pro quo”.

Er…

Chairman Schiff: “Was there a quid quo pro?”

Sondland: “The answer is, yes.”

Trump later tweeted that he had today “opened a major Apple manufacturing plant in Texas.”

The plant has been operating since 2013. (TYT: Ring of Fire)

And the idiocy of Devin Nunes

When CNN and the Daily Beast claimed Nunes had made a trip to Europe and met with the corrupt former prosecutor of Ukraine to discuss digging dirt on the Bidens, he threatened to sue.

Not long afterwards his Congressional expenses were due for publication and indeed showed, he had made a trip to Europe – including Vienna, where the prosecutor, Shokin, now lives.

The betting now is, Trump will claim Giuliani and Nunes concocted the whole Ukraine thing without his knowledge, and they will follow Cohen and Manafort to gaol.

Everything Trump touches, pleads guilty.

 

Welcome to the mafia state #2

A report on TYT this evening quotes the Daily Beast as placing Devin Nunes and three of his aides in Europe over four days at the end of November, 2018, at a cost to the US taxpayer of $64 thousand. The trip was apparently arranged by… Giuliani sidekick, Lev Parnas – who has been linked both with the President and with mafia-run shakedown operations, one of which may have ended in murder.

Nunes’ usual shifty expression makes Prince Andrew look like St Theresa of Avilar at the best of times, and often overbalances into the desperate stare of a man ensnared in a criminal enterprise, where he has just seen his accomplices mow down three policemen on a raid where nothing bad was supposed to happen.

Republican representative for the decidedly rural 22nd District of California, Nunes is a driven character who is even now still trying to sue anyone who reposted a 2018 Twitter meme joking that his mother was a Jersey cow. It runs into the tens of thousands. He is now labeled for all time as the man who tried to sue a cow.

And, for whatever reason, the former dairy farmer and ex-chair of the House Intelligence Committee, famous for shutting down his own inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election when the evidence suggested it really happened, and for a clandestine trip to brief the White House on matters germane to the enquiry (but entirely concocted) that the White House had, unknown to him, briefed to him in the first place, is another Trump lickspittle, who has been contributing his own bizarre brand of cuckoo to the impeachment inquiry, where he has attacked the witnesses for being part of a conspiracy, obsessed with promoting facts.

Why was he in Europe, wherever that is? (I vaguely recall he was turned away at the door by MI6 in London – another item of old news the US media seems to have forgotten). Well, apparently he went at the behest of Giuliani’s mafia associate Lev Parnas, now on trial for laundering Ukrainian money into Trump’s Political Action Committee (PAC), to “do an investigation” into the Mueller investigation; to see what they had turned up, and whether Russia might be proven innocent of interfering in the 2016 elections. What power did Parnas have to make him go?

Does this now proven association place Nunes in an impossible bind, a conflict of interest where he is an alleged co-conspirator in a crime directed by the President, but also the Republicans’ Ranking Member in the impeachment hearings, in effect investigating himself? And what was he doing, visiting Vienna? Surely not partying with Giuliani, Parnas, Frumin and exiled Ukrainian oligarch, Dmytro Firtash, who seems to have been financing the whole show?

Following his arrest, Parnas hired lawyers who previously worked for Paul Manafort, the convicted Trump aide accused of spying on the election campaign for Russian oligarch, Putin crony and suspected mafia boss, the “aluminum king”, Oleg Deripaska, a business associate of Firtash – and was trying to claim that his relationship with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave him cover under Trump’s “executive privilege”.

Further speculation was aroused when Firtash recently appointed to his legal team, Victoria Toensing and Joseph DeGenova, controversial husband-and-wife Fox News panel hacks, a couple of seemingly deadbeat lawyers with lengthy histories of representing pretty filthy people, peripheral to one or other of Trump’s many efforts to obstruct the Mueller enquiry. (Trump eventually rejected the couple as being too badly dressed.) Who suggested them to Firtash?

Trump has of course denied any association with Parnas, who in retaliation has changed his lawyers and is now said to be spilling his guts to a war-weary FBI. How many more of these people can Trump claim he “hardly knew, if at all”? Photographs have been widely published, showing Trump enjoying hospitality with Parnas, his cohort Frumin and Rudy Giuliani, giving his usual goofy thumbs-up sign, arms fraternally around shoulders, no doubt picking one anothers’ pockets.

But of course, he can’t know everyone.

 

In passing, back to Sondland

Why has no-one picked up on Trump’s bald assertion that he “barely knew, hardly ever met” the man?

This is someone, a guy with a chain of hotels, who gave, in supposedly unremarkable dribs and drabs, more than $1 million to the “Inauguration Fund” – Trump’s personal slush fund – because he was a fervent Trump supporter.

Trump now lies menacingly that the hapless Sondland “voted for many other people, but that’s okay”. How does he know how Sondland voted, if he doesn’t know him? It was a threat, in the best gangsta fashion.

In return, Trump appointed him as ambassador to the EU – a trading bloc of 28 nations with a gross GDP of USD $19 trillion, covering a market of almost 500 million people – a third again the size of the United States.

It’s implicit in the almighty Constitution that the President should have at least some fiduciary responsibility to the American people. It’s unimaginable that he should admit to making globally important appointments on no other basis than that somebody told him so-and-so was a good guy.

Sondland seems like an amiable character, not too stupid to understand when he’s in deep trouble, but he has no qualifications whatsoever in politics, diplomacy or trade matters. To appoint such a man to such an important and choice posting is, frankly, evidence that Trump does not give a flying fuck for sound governance.

It ought to be, if it is not already, yet another impeachable offence, since the appointment was so clearly corrupt, being based purely on a financial consideration. A defense of ignorance hardly improves the situation. Presidents are not supposed to be total dumbfucks.

 

Julian Assange and The Curse of the White House

Trump has forced the resignation, or fired, his Navy Secretary, Richard Spencer, who now becomes the nine hundred and ninety-ninth victim of the Curse of the White House, or thereabouts, given how many of his appointed officials Childe Donald has decided he doesn’t like after all, waaah!, off with their heads.

The reason is complicated but boils down to this: that Trump has further aggravated his already desperate relations with the armed forces he affects to love so much, by interfering in a disciplinary matter involving the demotion and dismissal of a Navy SEAL accused of murdering an ISIS prisoner in cold blood.

Three weeks ago, Trump was ordered by a New York court to repay $2 million to his tax-exempt charity foundation for misusing funds for his own personal expenses, and to cease from any further charitable activities. Among the funds he misused was an even larger sum, $2.8 million, that had been raised to support military veterans, who never saw a penny of the money.

So the Commander-in-Chief is not in great odor with the military, especially after he fired the highly-regarded Defense Secretary, Gen. Mattis, for disagreeing with his policy on pretending to withdraw troops from Syria, letting in the Turks, while sending more to Saudi Barbaria and redeploying the boys from Syria he said were coming home, to “take the oil” – or, as he delicately puts it, to “protect” the Syrian oilfields against the ISIS insurgents he boasted he had personally defeated, naturally in record time for any president.

The SEAL in question, CPO Edward Gallagher, allegedly stabbed a wounded ISIS prisoner to death with a commando knife, for no obvious reason. Although he was found innocent of doing that, which many witnesses saw him do, Mr Gallagher then took and posted a selfie with the man’s head, which resulted in his conviction in a military court. His colleagues testified that they were not comfortable serving with him, as he exhibited psychotic behavior and they had had to protect civilians against him. He was further acquitted of murdering civilians he had apparently not murdered.

Nevertheless, amid all this leniency, Trump tweeted that he was a hero and should be reinstated, with his little honorary souvenir tripod, or whatever, and when Gallagher’s commander said he did not consider a tweet to be an official military order, Secretary Spencer defended him and was fired for his pains. Something like that.

As you can see, the president’s policies are not exactly coherent.

Which is why your Pumpkin finds it so odd. Because if – among other military men he has forced senior officers to pardon of disciplinary offences, arguing that US troops should be allowed to commit war crimes or they can’t do their job properly – if he has intervened in the case of Edward Gallagher, why would he persist in attempting to extradite Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange to receive rough justice in America?

It makes no sense. Assange was instrumental in getting Trump elected. And he hasn’t murdered anybody. We know, now Trump’s henchman, the dirty trickster Roger Stone has been convicted, in part for lying about his connections to the Australian “tech entrepreneur” (© Jennifer Arcuri, 2015-19), who helpfully published the Clinton and Podesta emails hacked from the Democrats, that Trump had publicly asked the Russians to do it. (“Russia, if you’re listening…”, etc.)

Confusingly, Trump now continues to defend the conspiracy theory promulgated by the GDU through Paul Manafort’s associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, that it was not the Russians, but Ukraine that hacked the emails.

Assange is considered to be so ill, both physically and mentally, that 60 doctors from half-a-dozen countries have wrtten to the British authorities demanding his transfer to hospital from the top security Belmarsh gaol, Britain’s Guantanamo, home of many untried and unconvicted terror suspects undergoing re-education and others held under illegal “indefinite detention” orders. They fear otherwise he may die.

Yet the US Justice Department persists in its efforts to drag him to court across the Atlantic, where under their cumbersome, inept and often lunatic eighteenth-century “justice” system crossed with a made-for-TV show, he can expect up to 170 years in gaol for crimes against security, committed in 2010.

Is there no statute of limitations on cybercrime?

So it’s possible Trump would rather Assange was being held in custody, incommunicado, as Assange presumably knows where he got the emails from, and it wasn’t Ukraine. He thus becomes yet another disposable victim of the Curse of the White House, and would really do well to tell the British authorities everything he knows.

Except that they, too, are sitting on a report of Russian interference in elections.

 

Russiagate – a timeline

  • 09 November, 2013, desperately seeking a deal to build “Trump Tower, Moscow”, Trump is in town as the guest of Azerbaijani property magnate, Aras Agalerov, with his “Miss Universe” pageant. The visit has been arranged by Trump “Senior Business Advisor”, Felix Sater – a sometime lieutenant of feared Russian crime boss, Semyon Mogilevitch. Excitedly claims “All the oligarchs were there!” Putin pointedly stays away.
  • 09 June, 2016, Trump Jr, Kushner and Manafort meet Kremlin lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya and two ex-GRU men with spent convictions for money-laundering at Trump Tower, New York to discuss “adoption” issues in the wake of the Magnitsky affair.
  • 27 July, 2016, at a rally in Florida, Trump calls expressly on Russia to release 30 thousand missing Clinton emails he has never mentioned before. Hacking of the DRC begins. Efforts will later be made to deny the 9 June meeting took place, then to coverup what its real purpose was. Aboard Airforce 1, Comms director, Hope Hicks helps Trump concoct a misleading account.
  • 17 October, 2016 embarrassing 2005 Access Hollywood tape emerges of Trump boasting of grabbing women by the “pussy” and one hour later the first tranche of emails is released by Wikileaks, diverting the news agenda. FBI now monitoring calls by Carter Page and other Trump campaign officials with known Russian intelligence agents, under FISA warrants. A Special Counsel, Robert Mueller is soon appointed.
  • 10 January, 2017, Buzzfeed releases leaked version of the Steele “dossier” compiling third-party accounts from Kremlin sources of Russian “kompromat” on Trump and claiming there was a Kremlin campaign to help Trump get elected.
  • 20 January, 2017, Inauguration Day, calls begin between former New York Mayor Giuliani and ex-CIA head and eventually to be Secretary of State Pompeo about removing the US ambassador in Kyiv, Maria Yovanovych.
  • 9 May, 2017, Trump fires FBI Director, James Comey, ostensibly on a letter from deputy Attorney-General Rosenstein alleging misconduct in the investigation of Hillary Clinton. Later, Trump will tell ABC TV it was in reality to make the Russia investigation go away. He goes on to fire or force out many other FBI officers including Peter Strjok, the lead investigator into Russian “sleeper cells” in the US.
  • 10 May, 2017 Trump meets privately with Russian ambassador Kislyak and foreign minister Lavrov in the Oval Office after ordering his own officials to leave the room, and tells them there is now no problem with the investigation into Russian interference in the election.
  • 16 July, 2018, after privately meeting with no officials present, Trump defends Putin in press conference at bilateral summit in Helsinki, openly contradicting his own intelligence services’ reports of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  • November midterms, 2018, Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives, but not the Senate.
  • 12 December, 2018, Trump lieutenant, lawyer and “fixer”, Michael Cohen is sentenced to 3 years in gaol, principally for lying to the FBI about his meetings in Moscow, ostensibly pursuing the Trump Tower project; on tax charges, and for campaign finance violations, operating Trump’s access slush fund to buy off inconvenient mistresses ahead of the election. Trump is named in court as “unindicted co-conspirator”.
  • March, 2019, Mueller report confirms over 150 instances of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. New Attorney-General, William Barr delays sending report to Congress while issuing a misleading summary claiming the report exonerates the President of “collusion” with Russia.
  • 13 June, 2019, in an ABC TV interview, Trump boasts he might not alert the FBI to approaches with “dirt” on his opponents from foreign governments if it helps him win the 2020 race. Trump’s “I meet with foreign governments all the time” echoes Donald Jr’s previous boasts: “We’re in and out of Russia all the time” and “We get all the money we need from Russia”.
  • 25 July, 2019, Trump is illegally holding up military aid to Kyiv as Russian troops continue to support uprising by secessionists in eastern Ukraine. Horrified officials testify that Trump has demanded a “quid pro quo” from President Zelinskiy, explaining he wants him to “do me a favor, though…”. , to pressure Zelinskiy into announcing a corruption investigation into his possible main rival for the 2020 election, former Vice-President Joe Biden; as well as falsifying evidence to exonerate Russia of interfering in the 2016 election.
  • October, 2019, facing impeachment hearings for a foreign bribery offence, Trump begins repeating old allegations first aired in 2017 by Alex Jones of InfoWars that Ukraine, not Russia, stole the emails; subsequently taken up as Republican “talking point”. He demands the return of a non-existent “server” containing Clinton emails he claims has been taken to Ukraine.
  • 20 November 2019, former State Department lead and world expert on Russia, Dr Fiona Hill, pleads with Republicans in Congress to stop lying about Ukraine’s involvement in election meddling as the evidence that it was and is still Russia is irrefutable. The source of the Ukraine theory is identified as Manafort associate and Deripaska lieutenant, GRU agent Konstantin Kilimnik.
  • Terrified and demented, Republican congressmen take no notice. As is the President, they are all now essentially working for Putin.

If Trump is not impeached and removed, writes The Pumpkin, America will have fallen without a shot being fired.

 

Is this a dagger I see before me?

Donald Trump Junior has had a book written for him, whining piteously about all these dreadful Deep State media and opposition political attacks on his perfect father and the fragrant Trump family criminal organization.

“Triggered” (it’s a reference to a word used by the right to mock left-wingers and liberals who react badly to minor events like murderous neo-Nazi rallies in Charlottesville) has gone straight to number one in the influential New York Times bestseller list.

Woke journalists have noted that the short summary of the book in the Times‘ list is followed by a typographical symbol looking like a dagger, called an obelus. A request to the Times produced the information that the obelus denotes a book whose sales consist mostly or entirely in bulk orders.

It transpires that Mr Trump Jr bought 40 thousand copies of his own book to use as promotional giveaways, thus helping to ensure he captured the number one spot (TYT: The Damage Report).

He’s certainly a chip off the old block, is Jr.

Trump Senior has, naturally, tweeted his praise and admiration for his number one son’s brilliant literary prowess, although he a) supposedly hates the “failing”, “fake news” New York Times; b) has read only one book in his life, his own ghostwritten autobiography, probably not from cover to cover, and c) has no idea who Donald Trump Jr is, or why he has the same name, as they certainly look nothing like one another.

 

GW:

Sorry, there’s a whole month’s worth of terrible fires, extreme weather events, alarming statistics and doom-laden reports to catch up on… Latest are:

Europe: “7 people have died as violent storms swept through parts of France, Greece and Italy over the weekend, causing flash floods, landslides and the collapse of an overpass. Greek media described the storms as leaving a trail of “biblical destruction”. Flash floods in France’s Côte d’Azur claimed the lives of 4 people, while 2 others are believed to still be missing.” Another died when a rescue boat overturned. (BBC News)

Kenya: “At least 29 people have died in landslides caused by severe weather in West Pokot county. The landslides, affecting the villages of Nyarkulian and Parua, were reportedly caused by heavy rains.” (BBC)

Australia: Major cities Sydney and Adelaide are wreathed in choking smoke as wildfires continue to blaze out of control in three states, amid 40 deg-plus temperatures and 50 mph winds.

“Soaring temperatures in South Australia prompted “catastrophic” alerts – the highest danger rating – on Wednesday. Parts of Victoria have been issued the same warning for Thursday, while the threat in Tasmania is also increasing. 6 people have died since last month in massive bushfires which are burning elsewhere in the country.” (BBC)

USA: Over 6,000 “people were evacuated and about 2,400 structures threatened early Tuesday 26 Nov., when fire erupted in Los Padres national forest, California. Evacuations were ordered in the town of Goleta, north of Santa Barbara. The fire has grown to about 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares). Weather forecasts have predicted winds with gusts of 60 to 70 mph at times into Tuesday morning.” (Guardian)

Meanwhile a huge storm is rapidly undergoing cyclogenesis off the coast of California and another storm system in the east together with yet more heavy rain tracking up from the southwest  across Texas and the midwest are likely to dampen Thanksgiving celebrations, just as much as will the round-table arguments over Trump. (BBC)

Tunnel approaching….

Carbon discontent: “Three-quarters of the emissions cuts pledged by countries under the Paris agreement of 2015 are “totally inadequate”, according to a comprehensive analysis …, putting the world on a path to climate disaster. Another report has found that nations are on track to produce more than double the fossil fuels in 2030 than could be burned while keeping heating under 1.5C.” (Guardian, reporting another record rise in CO2 in 2019. Actually under-reporting, in your Old Gran’s view, as the “Environment Editor” fails to mention the “carbon equivalent” of all the GHGs put together is now around double the 1750 level; and also in attributing causes to methane emissions, fails to mention the thawing sub-Arctic permafrost.)

Jina: A radiation spike detected in the hotly contested South China Sea by the Global Network for Environmental Monitoring (Siberian Times), has been variously dismissed by Russian authorities as posing no danger to local people; as being “under control”, and even as a “fake news” story emanating from a rightwing US blogger. Fox affiliate, TopNews is headlining an explosion aboard a Chinese submarine, citing local news sources, but without further confirmation.

Cambodia: Globetrotting Amazon motoring show presenter, famed “petrol head” and climate-change risibilist, Jeremy Clarkson has finally admitted the possible existence of a problem with the climate, after an attempt to film a journey down a river in Cambodia had to be abandoned owing to there being no water in it. (Times)

Italy: 89-year-old Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre, a “life Senator” who was sent to the Auschwitz death camp at 13, is under police protection after receiving death threats for calling on parliament to set up a committee to combat hate crime. (BBC)

Getting it done: The Conservatives are learning from Trump: lie big, lie often and lie first. As figures show almost 12 thousand EU staff have quit the NHS since the referendum, citing the uncertainty of Brexit, and the number of new nurses arriving from the EU annually has fallen by 87%, to well under 1,000, Mr Johnson is promising to magic up “50 thousand” more nurses by the end of 2024.

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 99: Hi, and welcome to another Not the New York Times… Prorogationgate: Day 3 of the hearing… Turning a blind eye to the sky… The quality of Mercy is sometimes strained… GW: I’ve seen fire but I’ve seen even more rain.

The sum of $22 million offered by President Macron and other EU leaders at the G7 in Biarritz to help Brazil put out the fires that are still consuming the Amazon rainforest is, according to Jeremy Lent, writing in Open Democracy, the equivalent of what Americans spend on popcorn in a single day.

 

Hi, and welcome to another Not the New York Times.

Now, look. We have to begin with an apology. I did not mean to steal the above material, okay?

I’ve ineptly excerpted it (and I mean ineptly, I was only after a pull-quote but I drink far too much wine in these lengthening dark evenings and I got all the picture and headlines with it and couldn’t get rid of the bits I don’t want, the image is somehow all digitally glued together) from a very long New York Times report on Trump’s grunting pig efforts to rollback any environmental standards he associates with the black man’s previous regime, regardless of who actually signed them into law, even Reagan, in advance of this weekend’s New York conference on climate change that he has respectfully declined to attend.

It might rain, it might not, who knows.

So, Mr New York Times, please forgive me. You do ooopsie stuff too, from time to time, and it is said you are not very good at publishing stories about powerful men demanding extra favors from women. (Also, do get rid of that ridiculous medieval gothic masthead, you’re not the fucking Bible!)

The “Make Dishwashers Great Again” lobby is a pathetically transparent PR agency’s junior creative department’s act of desperation behind a falsely informed campaign to promote the white goods manufacturers, who are themselves perfectly at ease with Obama-era regulations on energy-saving; as without them, they won’t be able to export their products or compete with the output from Turkey.

Besides which, “energy-saving” translates to “cost-saving” efficiency for Mr and Ms Binary-Houseperson, so it’s a product-plus, something Trump can’t understand because when it comes to business he’s a defiant know-nothing.

Given the industry’s happiness with the global regulatory environment, just what has the orange lightbulb hater got against them? Personally, I could care less. I don’t have a dishwasher. I can wash dishes.

“The petition, titled “Make Dishwashers Great Again,” is just one part of a broad campaign coordinated by conservative organizations with ties to fossil-fuel companies.”

Them again. Disguised as humans, they induce people to consume more, not less, environmentally polluting energy in our kitchens, so they can poison our children and grandchildren and all go trooping merrily up to heaven in a Conga-line to meet their invisible Judaeo-Zoroastrian friend, who will allocate a schedule for having them kneel and praise his grumpy and unreliable old fascist Father with endless hosannas for all Eternity.

Their brand of Death is a deal that, frankly, sucks.

What is the matter with these sickos? Isn’t being the richest 1 per cent of sick fucking hemorrhoids on the planet enough for them, that they have to burn the place down to get even richer? You can’t take it with you, grrrlz! And you’re not taking me either, let me tell you. I’m staying right here, hoping to become extinct before I die.

I have suggested that if they have such an urgent need to meet their delusionary Jesus, they should just get on with it, poragy beards, sandals, AR-15s, fucking MAGA hats and whimpering hymns an’ all, and leave the rest of us alone to get on with our fights, pickling cabbages, marrying, and such.

Or maybe not. Jim Jones had the right idea, let’s see more of that Kool-Aid.

When will we find the courage to drag these life-denying Pharisees from their climate-change-proof bunkers and hang them out to rot in the public square?

 

Prorogationgate: Day 3 of the hearing….

James Eadie

“My client, Johnson is a fundamentally honest man, M’Lud, who would no more lie to the Queen than abandon his sick wife for a younger bit of tottie. I introduce in evidence, Mr Iain Duncan Smith’s snot-covered finger.” (Mr James Eadie, QC, argues the case for overturning 800 years of democracy.)

 

“The Fed just dumped $75 Billion into the economy…. possibly to avert a massive financial crash. Monday morning, large short term loans became unavailable and rates for these gigantic loans shot up. High interest rates caused financial crashes in the past. The Fed panicked and flooded the market with lots of money! The question is why were short term loans unavailable, where did that money go and what shot up the interest rates?” – Economist, Prof. Richard Wolff, on Thom Hartmann. You have been warned! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTPHWtZlqT0

 

Turning a blind eye to the sky

“In 2008 a survey of American Meteorological Society members found that only 24% of weather forecasters agreed that warming was caused by humans. In 2010, a study found that 54% agreed that global warming is happening. But by 2017 a full 90% agreed that a climate crisis is happening, and 80% indicated it was human-caused.” (Edited from Guardian, 18 Sept.)

A “full” 100 per cent, I could understand. Ninety is far from full!

“And the outlook for tomorrow, there’ll be a razorwire fence controlling our borders….”

So, 20 per cent of US TV weather forecasters daily warning of drought, fire, pestilence and flood either still don’t believe, or are somehow being prevented from admitting, what 97 per cent of scientists around the world as a whole – we are told – believe, on the basis of evidence, which is that if you pump up to 37 billion tonnes of, specifically, carbon dioxide gas into our finite breathable atmosphere every year, for many years, increasing over time, through burning vast amounts of carboniferous material, the climate is bound to be affected sooner or later.

It’s a logical inference. What’s wrong with that?

Once you have learned what was shown to be the case 130 years ago, that carbon dioxide – a natural component of the atmosphere, about 2 per cent – has the special capacity to trap radiant solar heat, thus raising the background temperature over time, it really isn’t necessary to have a PhD to grasp that one simple, basic concept; the more you put in, the hotter it gets, any more than it would be necessary to have a Physics degree to boil a kettle.

I suppose it might be plausible for some people to argue that natural variability in the Earth’s production of carbon dioxide from the great cycles trumps the volume of gas which humans cause to be emitted, and that it will all somehow be re-absorbed in the natural carbon sinks, but it wouldn’t really be a consolation, would it, given the sheer bloody obviousness that either way, it isn’t being, and thus we have a problem.

Not many scientists would go along with that idea anyway, since the concentration of carbon dioxide gas in the air and dissolved in the oceans, and the mean global temperature, are now measurably greater by far, and increasing faster, than at any time for millions of years, as evidenced in the fossil record, the warming oceans and the increasing severity of extreme weather events. Other heat-retaining gases, too, are in play. There is no known natural source of chlorofluorocarbons, for instance.

You may pay attention, if you wish, to the various models projecting the consequences of carbon emission and the likely etiology of its continuing accumulation, the observable increase in temperature, based on observation over time. Some are more highly alarming than others, but all point to the same conclusion: ours.

In fact, the Guardian Green Light story is more concerned with interviewing a handful of local US TV forecasters who are struggling to put even these simple concepts across in various subtle ways, so as not to put off American audiences who, they admit with chagrin, have virtually zero attention span, in order to warn them gently that some things are going to have to change, whatever the president says.

For, in another GGL story this week, a selection of US government officials describe in horrifying detail, the extent to which Trump has inserted climate-change deniers, energy industry lobbyists and otherwise unemployable non-scientists into the management tiers of all the key departments of state responsible for maintaining a healthy environment.

Nowadays, any and all research even daring to mention the possibility that we humans are causing a problem is being ruthlessly excised, bulldozed, buried; and the expert researchers bullied, ignored, censored, shunted aside into non-jobs or browbeaten into early retirement; some finding their reputations being trashed on social media.

Because the president wills it.

Surely the question has to be, why?

The explanation that the energy industry is entirely responsible for this situation through exploiting the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision to allow corporations to spend as much as they like on buying politicians and their votes goes only so far. While spending $millions on deflecting public attention away from it, most energy corporations will have privately admitted at some point in the past forty years that there is a problem, and they – or at least, their customers – are the cause of it.

(You’ll find a paragraph saying exactly that, even on Exxon-Mobil’s public website.)

Hurricane Dorian: the end of civilization looks very much like this.

There seems instead to be some underlying callousness motivating the Trump administration’s program of frantically cancelling all previous attempts by the legislature to mitigate the effects of carbon pollution and other environmental threats.

It’s as if born of one individual’s pathological hatred of the world, a profound resentment of its natural gifts, when almost their first act on taking office is to permit coal mining companies to discharge effluent untreated into open waterways.

Apart obviously from its being an act of gratitude to a coal baron who has just gifted your election campaign a million dollars, it seems like a brutal fist punching the face of Life; especially when it scarcely benefits the coal baron’s business interest to allow him to do something so bad that it can only ensure the opprobrium of the public and their local representatives; and even lead to the divestment of valuable shareholding institutions far from the coalface.

No-one likes drinking, brushing their teeth or bathing their children in filthy, black, carcinogenic water. Even coal barons know that. Less welcome too are the headlines.

Yet when it is presented as an act of kindness to local communities to allow their distant employers to cut corners and make extra profits from degrading their environment, that will be plowed back into more jobs and better wages – an entirely false premise, incidentally – you see a kind of moral deviousness at work, where total disdain for consequence translates into a pathological longing for limitless voter approval.

A  cynical confidence trick, yet it is one the poorly educated find comfortable to buy into, even as they watch their communities shrivel, starve, blow away, drown and die. It’s all the fault of the foreigners.

And if on the eve of another climate conference, another climate strike, a great heave of public concern, 20 per cent of TV weather forecasters are still vainly holding out against the tide of global consensus, that we have fucked the atmosphere, fucked the oceans and will, as a consequence, likely die out along with many species, unless very severe action is taken very soon now, what hope is there for the rest?

You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows, as the poet sang. Especially one turning a blind eye to the sky.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/society-unravels-future-grabs/?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=52a333101a-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-52a333101a-408090269

A woman in Providence, Rhode Island, was admitted to hospital feeling faint, after her blood turned blue. The condition, doctors say, was brought on by overmedicating herself with a toothache remedy.

Your Uncle B. wonders idly, what then has been causing Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to turn black at frequent intervals?

 

The madness of King Donald…

Appointing former State Department lawyer Robert O’Brien to replace John Bolton as National Security Advisor, and mindful of O’Brien’s record in negotiating the release of US citizens held abroad, the Washington Post reminds us that: “the president claimed in April that O’Brien had called him the “greatest hostage negotiator in the history of the United States.”

The great negotiator, Mr Trump agreed to “medical expenses” of $2 million to get the terminally ill student, Otto Frederick Warmbier shipped home from prison in North Korea, where he’d been held for stealing a poster from his hotel room. Most commentators regarded this as the payment of a ransom, for electoral advantage.

Posing in front of a pile of steel components for his border wall, on which some construction has now begun, Trump informed the assembled hacks that his wall contains special, “very powerful concrete”. (MSNBC)

 

The quality of Mercy is sometimes strained

It’s tempting to join some kind of faith group in my old age, as I have no settled religion and no belief in anything much, other than the right to a quiet life interrupted as frequently as possible by classic cuts of modern jazz.

I like the attitude of the Pastafarian church, which holds that genuine religious freedom should include freedom from religion. “Its only dogma is that there is no dogma”, says Mike Arthur, an American documentary filmmaker currently focussing on this growing cult of blissful irresponsibility.

I guess if L Ron Hubbard had been born as that much finer and more nuanced writer, the great humanist Kurt Vonnegut, Scientology would be a lot more relaxed, with its irony on show for all to worship, instead of keeping its brainwashed adherents in an iron vise of blinkered corporatism.

In spaghetti we trust….

Yet Scientology, with all its ludicrous beliefs in non-existent mental energies, is recognized in many places as a genuine religion; while Pastafarians everywhere are struggling to gain recognition; although it has been officially noted in four countries so far.

The exquisite symbolism of the kitchen strainer, or colander, worn symbolically on the head, has not passed my notice. For a start, unlike Christianity it’s genuinely holey. Being metal, it can receive signals remotely, while protecting against thrown objects. And worn on the head, too, as a device for rinsing the sludge off canned foodstuffs it suggests brainwashing – yet with the freedom for ideas to spew out. It’s an item that brings forth solid nourishment, food for thought naturally, from a broth of hot, watery confusion; making sense of the Cosmos in a nonlinear way.

Just add sauce!

The “ten commandments” of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are reduced, helpfully, to only eight: “I’d really rather you didn’ts”, which is exactly how I speak to people, in a kind of cringing, deferential, frightfully British way, often in heavily accented English, when they piss me off. I’m always afraid of being punched in the face, as my front upper set cost me £3 thousand and could never be replaced if broken.

But if one wants to reduce one’s carbonara footprint, this is perhaps not the way forward.

The church, according to a Guardian article (what else?), “was founded in 2005 by Bobby Henderson, at the time a 25-year-old US physics graduate, as a response to Christian fundamentalists demanding the teaching of creationism in Kansas school science classes.” His delicious logic being that belief in a universe created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster is no less rational a scientific approach to creation as belief in an Intelligent Designer who makes lots of mistakes.

There’s a case before the European Court of Human Rights currently, in which a Dutch member – it’s pretty much worldwide – Mienke de Wilde is arguing for the legal right under freedom of religion in her country to be photographed for her driver’s license wearing a plastic kitchen strainer on her head, the symbol of her belief in not having to believe anything.

To support her case, she’s kept it on in public for the past three years, which at the time of writing appears to be the main stumbling block. Recognition of a religion by the court depends on it being a serious belief. Which it is, only expressed through a haze of tolerant, not to say stoned, good humor and puckish lateral thinking. Which again, is very much me. No?

My only concern about joining the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster would be that its dress code offends the balancing right of trypophobes not to be suddenly confronted with the distressing sight of an object pierced with a regular pattern of tiny round holes, which can induce panic in a sufferer.

Rather than turning to dishwashers for salvation, then, maybe I’ll apply to San Francisco instead, for membership of the Church of the Blessed John Coltrane.

Anything for a quiet life.

 

GW: I’ve seen fire but I’ve seen even more rain

USA: Flood watches remained in effect Wednesday morning (18 Sept.) across southeastern Texas as Tropical Depression Imelda’s heavy rain threatened to cause hazardous flooding and travel disruptions. As of early Wednesday morning, Imelda, which became a short-lived tropical storm on Tuesday before making landfall in Freeport, Texas, and heading for Houston, had produced over 22 inches of rain in places.

“Days of heavy rain fell in parts of South Dakota from 10 to 12 Sept., causing widespread flooding in the state. Meanwhile National Weather Service (NWS) is warning that the rain in South Dakota could result in another wave of flooding downstream along the Missouri River in Iowa and Nebraska.” Many all-time river flood-stage records are being broken. “Around 30 people had to be rescued from flood water in Madison, Wisconsin. Homes, roads and bridges were damaged and schools closed in affected areas.”(Floodlist)

India: “Over 4,500 people have been evacuated after flooding in the state of Rajasthan. The southern part of the state has experienced torrential rainfall since 13 Sept. Heavy rain in the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh, where 45,000 people have been displaced by flooding, has also increased levels of rivers in Rajasthan, in particular the Chambal river. Many homes have been without electricity for days. … Rainfall has been 42% higher than normal for the monsoon season.” (Floodlist) Monsoon flooding in India during late July and August killed at least 287 people. (Wunderground)

Spain:  Severe weather has continued since up to half a meter of rain fell over 11 and 12 Sept. Media reports say 6 people have now died and 3,500 evacuated, including 2,000 residents of the town of Santomera in Murcia as a precaution due to a controlled release from a local dam. Roads and schools have been closed as well as Murcia and Almeria airports. Fatalities were reported in Caudete in Albacete province, Almería, La Jámula in Granada and 2 people died in Orihuela. (Floodlist)

Algeria: “2 people have died after more flooding” caused by the same weather system as the floods in Spain. “Torrential rain on 12 Sept. also caused widespread damage in the capital Algiers and parts of Souk Ahras Province. 40 mm of rain reportedly fell in just 40 minutes. The mean total precipitation for September in Algiers is 28.3 mm. It’s the third flood event in the country this month.” (From Floodlist)

Atlantic: Approaching the Leeward Islands, Tropical Storm Jerry is forecast to intensify to hurricane strength over warmer waters. Hurricane Humberto is now at Cat 3, heading in the direction of Bermuda. In the East Pacific, Tropical Storm Lorena developed on Tuesday and will track dangerously close to Mexico’s western coastline by Thursday, 19 Sept. (Accuweather) Hurricane warnings are out.

Antarctic: Paul Beckwith writes: “Since the last week of August, the stratospheric polar vortex first became elongated and then completely destabilized, with some regions warming up abruptly from about -70C to an incredible +13C, causing the high altitude vortex to morph into two and then even three vortices. My understanding is that rapid loss of Antarctic sea ice in some regions and gain in others caused an asymmetry of sea ice around the continent, thus causing breakdown of the vortex.”

Earth: Despite the lack of an El Niño, and presumably under the dimming effect of many wildfires, “August 2019 was provisionally the second hottest globally since records began in 1880.” Only August 2016 was warmer, say the NOAA and NSA. Figures are not yet in for Japan. “Among global weather stations with a period of record of at least 40 years, 36 set new all-time heat records in August. There were no stations that set all-time cold records.” (Wunderground)

Global ocean temperatures during August were the warmest on record. In July, according to Arctic News, the oceans in the northern hemisophere exceeded 1 deg. C above the C20th average – at 1.07C a critical tipping point crossed. Oceans have absorbed over 90% of all global warming. Wunderground says: “It is virtually certain that 2019 will end among the top five warmest years in Earth’s history. This means that the six warmest years on record globally since 1880 will be the last six years—2014 through 2019.”

“Globally … on the afternoon of September 13, 2019, peak methane levels as high as 2605 ppb were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite at 586 mb.” (Arctic News) (Note: that’s nearly 400% of 1750 levels.)

The 2019 tally of billion-dollar weather disasters is 20 as of the end of August. Typhoon Lekima cost China $9.3bn; the Indian monsoon so far, $5.5bn. There have been two more billion dollar weather disasters thus far in September, including Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the Bahamas, for which no figure is yet available (Source: Aon Insurance).

Arctic sea ice extent during August 2019 was the second lowest in the 40-year satellite record, not far behind 2012. (National Snow and Ice Data Center). Ice volume, depending on thickness, is a different matter – it’s the lowest ever recorded (Paul Beckwith).

Wales, UK: This is now, believe it or not, the fifth day of almost unbroken, if hazy, wall-to-wall sunshine; although the flowers had a little blessing during the night before last. The temperature in my shady front garden currently at 13.00 is 24 deg. C. (19 Sept.) The daytime high for September in the UK averages 18C. Truly, these are the Fortunate Isles.

Update: Friday, 20 Sept. Climate strike day, the Autumn equinox and another cloudless sunny morning on the west coast. At 09.15, the thermo climbs past 17C. by 13.00 it is 25C. This is very pleasant but slightly unusual. “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”? Keats’ famous poem is 200 years old this week.

Same again tomorrow, but the forecast is for rain arriving Sunday and even thunderstorms by Monday. Phew! Saved by the bell.

There are 2.9 billion fewer birds in the U.S. and Canada now than 50 years ago — reports the New York Times.

“While some species grew, the majority declined — often by huge numbers — including traditionally abundant birds like robins and sparrows. Habitat loss, pesticides and house cats are among the likely culprits, and experts say the declines are a dire warning about the planet’s well-being.”

The Pumpkin – Issue 98: Let us celebrate John Bolton Day, 10 September annually, when we burn him and his noxious mustache in effigy…When will they ever learn?… Johnson: there’s no explaining it. Or is there?…GW: Still thinning on the top…

 

Quote of the week:

twitter.com/IamHappyToast/status/1171050051860422657

 

Boris Johnson (right) opening the guestbook at the page signed by Donald Trump and his wife Melania before holding talks with Leo Varadkar (centre) at Government buildings in Dublin

“Oh look, it’s Sharpie and Harpie!”

Johnson finds the Trumps got to Ireland before him (and complained about the bedbugs).

 

Let us celebrate John Bolton Day, 10 September annually, when we burn him and his noxious mustache in effigy

Bolton has, he says, quit his position as President Trump’s National Security Advisor, after a row with the thin-skinned, permatanned one over being sidelined over talks with the Taliban.

His account doesn’t quite square with the White House’s, that Trump fired him, but the effect is the same. Many people are joyfully hailing the possibility that Trump’s next pick might be a less irascibly Irish, more peaceable fellow with fewer instincts for regime change and imposing US-style democracy on the world by force of arms.

(US media count eight wars prosecuted with Bolton’s involvement.)

Trump announced just days ago that he had cancelled peace talks with the Taliban, due to be held at Camp David, following another onslaught by Taliban forces that killed lots of Afghan civilians. Bolton’s astonished response indicated that Trump had kept him out of the loop.

But in addition to not wanting a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, the mustachioed one also opposed Trump’s famous nuclear deal with North Korea (that hasn’t quite yet happened) and attempts to renegotiate the perfectly sound Obama-signed deal Trump abrogated with Iran, where Bolton made no secret of wanting to invade.* Trump is also concerned that Bolton is advocating replacing Venezuela’s President Maduro by force.

As usual, he learned of his fate by tweet. Trump is a terrible coward when it comes to firing people face-to-face. Especially that face.

For some reason, oil prices fell on the news.

*Secretary of State, Mike “two lunches in a suit” Pompeo is today trying to spin an attack by drones flown by Yemeni rebels on a key Saudi Barbarian oilfield as having been perpetrated directly by Iran. These people will never give up their insane ambition for US business to conquer the planet.

 

When will they ever learn?

This is the story roughly as told by a US online news comment show, TYT Nation, which has an inaudibly adenoidal and slow-minded presenter. I hope the details are correct.

So. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump convinced the voters of key swing-state Wisconsin and its controversial Republican governor, Scott Walker, that he’d done a $4.5 billion sweetheart tax deal with Chinese electronics giant, Foxconn, to build a huge plant that would, by 2022, employ 13 thousand of the state’s great workers.

Everyone took him at his word.

Foxconn is known principally for manufacturing iPhones on contract to Apple – and for its notorious addition of anti-suicide netting to its factory rooftops in China after a spate of migrant workers reportedly threw themselves off while suffering depression after being made to work many illegal extra hours for no extra pay, often sleeping at their workstations, inhaling toxic chemicals, while far from home and warehoused on-site in vast, impersonal dormitories.

Things seemed to be moving ahead when demands to purchase land (including residential homes) went out from the state authorities, residents being threatened with compulsory removal without compensation if they refused to sell (known in the US as “eminent domain”, where the government deems there to be a strategic necessity and is empowered to seize property). 75 homes were thus bulldozed, families forced out, and a large site cleared for buildings and an access road, that have yet to be built.

Indeed, construction has not yet started, and very probably never will be.

Because Trump’s deal never existed. It was a scam, so it appears.

In the meantime, Foxconn had opened a small plant employing just 60 people, of whom 15 – unpaid interns – were almost immediately let go because there was no work for them to do. (That was my first “work experience” too, being fired for no reason, age 16! UB.) $7 million had been spent on a campaign to recruit workers from out of state, as the necessary skills didn’t exist locally among the “great” workers of Wisconsin.

Since when, Trump has imposed swingeing trade tariffs on China, sanctioned the equally giant Huawei electronics company (bullying Google to stop supporting its Android apps on Huawei cellphones and attempting to prevent foreign countries from incorporating Huawei-supplied components in 5G networks), imprisoned one of its senior executives on possibly Trumped-up copyright theft charges, and the Foxconn deal has apparently gone sour – if it ever properly existed, there seemingly being no signed contract committing them to deliver anything.

So much for the Great Deal Maker. So much for “America First!” – the deal benefitted only the Chinese, but does he care? He got the votes.

Maybe not next time.

And maybe Congress, desperately running to catch up to Trump’s astonishing record of emoluments violations which he continues to indulge (and deny!) while in office, visibly enriching himself and his family at public expense, could start looking into his and Kushner’s relationships with Chinese banks, to see how such sweetheart deals might improve their position of chronic indebtedness with these state-owned entities.

“When will they ever learn?” As Marlene Dietrich so poignantly sang.

(Report: TYT Nation, citing Bloomberg and others)

 

A French company has been found liable for the death of an employee who had a cardiac arrest while having sex with a stranger on a business trip. A Paris court ruled that his death was an industrial accident and that the family was entitled to compensation. (BBC)

And we want to leave the EU?

 

Time to end it, #11,947

Late of RT-USA, Thom Hartmann is one of the more sober, centre-left, articulate and extremely well-informed of the many independent online podcasters – forgive me, I’m uncertain of the terminology. Vloggers? – found in 15-minute clips on YouTube.

In a thoughtful piece, he reminds us that the increasing public acceptance of corruption in high places is destroying the country – and Trump didn’t invent it. Nixon, Reagan and George HW Bush all had their own corruption scandals hushed-up, that nobody talks about. As of course did Clinton, although he got impeached for lying.

However, unless the Congress is willing to call Trump out for what he is, and importantly also make an example of his many corrupt officials and enablers, future presidents will think themselves at liberty to behave even more irresponsibly.

It’s worth a watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTUcvDy625U

While over on CNN even Anthony Scaramucci, the excitable, cocky, potty-mouthed little New York “investment manager” who lasted ten days as Trump’s Head of Communications during which he appeared to go crazy with power, is now quietly and soberly and articulately proposing that the Republican party has to overcome its fear of the office, put up some credible opposition in the primaries, and quietly remove Trump on medical/psychiatric grounds, as the President is clearly unwell and lying insanely through his ill-fitting teeth about absolutely everything.

Surely to God, when the President of the United States becomes so completely obsessed with proving he didn’t make a silly mistake over a goddam weather forecast that he crudely (and illegally) fakes an official map, and when even his Commerce Secretary and his Head of Staff get dragged into the row, when threats are made of senior meteorological heads rolling for failing to protect him, the “Is it time to question his mental competence?” headline must now gain some traction, finally, after three years of this seemingly never-ending lunacy?

 

Global laundromat

According to US historian Lamar Waldron, President Nixon would receive money from foreign potentates to influence US policy, for his “re-election fund”, and would put the money on deposit with a crooked bank run by his friend, Bebe Rebozo.

At one stage, says Waldron, as a means of turning the capital into completely untraceable cash income, the two men actually bought a coin-operated laundry business in Florida.

 

Where are they now? #147

“Business dealings between US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and wealthy Malaysian developer Tiah Joo Kim, are being investigated by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, CNN reported. Quoting a former and a current US official, CNN reported that the FBI is scrutinising the negotiations and financing surrounding the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver. The US$360 million Trump tower was developed by the 37-year-old Tiah, the son of tycoon Tony Tiah Thee Kian.” (Straits Times, 4 Mar., 2018.)

And…..?

Well, there was a hint of an insinuation in US media at the time that Trump may have been looking for reasons to move his beloved daughter and Plastic Ken out of the White House, where he found them an irritating distraction from his autocratic project. He really doesn’t like being told what to do. And sundry reports of the business model followed by Trump Org. might suggest a possibility of money laundering, although a cursory check shows Kim seems sound enough, for a Malaysian businessman.

Still, as with so many other matters Trumpian under investigation that the national blanket of amnesia seems to have gently fallen over since 2017, it would be nice to know what happened, after 18 months.

Indeed, what has happened to that other FBI inquiry, also floated by the Straits Times, into allegations that money from the £4.5 billion MDB1 sovereign wealth fund scam ended up in Trump’s SuperPAC, while his buddy, Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy, was allegedly trying to shakedown one of the prime suspects for $73 million, to make the investigation go away?

Could we not be told before the Orange One gets re-elected, maybe?

 

Johnson: there’s no explaining it. Or is there?

Despite:

  • losing his first six votes in the Commons as Prime Minister,
  • abandoning his wife to face surgeries for cervical cancer* and running off with a much younger woman,
  • being outed as a drunken domestic abuser,
  • making increasingly incoherent and rambling speeches,
  • insulting other European leaders, women and minorities,
  • firing 21 members of his own party for ‘disloyalty’,
  • making even Corbyn look good at Prime Minister’s Questions,
  • having no plan to exit the EU by 31 October despite pretending he has,
  • being under the malign control of a monstrous egomaniacal psychopath,
  • having shut down Parliament for 5 weeks to avoid having to ask for an extension to Article 50,
  • refusing to allow staff and aides to surrender evidence of collusion over his No-Deal strategy,
  • threatening to ignore the law that says he can’t leave the EU without a deal or an election, putting himself at risk of imprisonment,
  • conning the Queen into conspiring in an illegal prorogation of Parliament,

…and after even his own brother has resigned the Tory whip – along with other serving ministers who can no longer stomach his lies, laziness, incompetence and grand delusions –

Boris Johnson still has a lead in the polls.

“Still, ‘e’s jolly entertaining. Remember ‘im on TV? Cor blimey, ‘e were funny! ‘e’ll teach them garlic-munchin’ sausage eaters a fing or two abart good old British spunk!”

Yes, it’s the 80th anniversary of the start of the years when plucky little Britain stood alone against the ravening might of the European Nazi horde. And by God, if Brussels wants to rule the waves, we’ll do it again! Winston Johnson is the man for our times! (Even if he has sacked @realWinston’s grandson.)

Heil Boris!

*Any woman who has had unprotected sex with Johnson should go for screening immediately, as male partners may carry the Human Papilloma virus, believed to be a common cause of cervical cancer.

 

GW: Still thinning on the top

France: According to the Ministry of Health, 567 people died from proximate causes during France’s first heatwave this year, from 24 June to 7 July. A further 868 died during the second from 21 to 27 July. France recorded its highest-ever temperature of 46C (114.8F) in June. (BBC) Extra precautions this time prevented the much greater loss of life – 15 thousand – experienced in the heatwave of 2003. Over half this year’s victims were 75+; 10 died while at work.

Japan: “A powerful typhoon in Japan has left more than 100 flights canceled, thousands of travelers stranded at the airport, and nearly 1 million households without power. Typhoon Faxai, which made landfall early Monday morning in the coastal city of Chiba, brought heavy rain and winds of 128 miles per hour, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.” The storm then moved over Tokyo where it paralyzed public transport, stranding thousands of commuters. (CNN). 3 people are known to have died. More storms are forecast, with 30+ degrees C. and 80 per cent humidity for Rugby teams to contend with, as they gather in training camps in advance of the World Cup.

The verdict: “Cat 4, weakening to 3, Faxai was the strongest typhoon to hit Tokyo in recorded history. “Though the storm is now heading out to sea, strong winds and heavy rainfall are still affecting the west coast of the country. The Foreign Office has put out some official travel advice for rugby fans looking to head to Japan. ‘Strong winds and heavy rainfall are expected,’ they say, ‘with potential disruption to transport and other essential services.'” (The i)

Korea: “Typhoon Lingling passed over the Korean peninsula 8 Sept., leaving 5 dead and 460 houses damaged or destroyed in North Korea, according to state media. The storm flooded 460 sq km (178 sq miles) of farmland, the official KCNA news agency said, in a country already suffering food shortages.” Lingling earlier killed 3 people in South Korea, including an elderly woman picked up by the wind and slammed headfirst into a wall. (BBC)

Cambodia: 7 people have died in recent floods, which have displaced 7 thousand families and inundated thousands of homes. Flooding has also caused severe damage to crops and livestock. Rivers continue to rise. Further heavy rain is expected. (Floodlist)

Australia: More than 80 fires have been burning for days on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Guardian Australia reports, some 20 properties have been destroyed and another 27 have been damaged since the bushfire crisis began on Thursday, including the historic Binna Burra Lodge. The ruins of the lodge, one of the oldest nature-based resorts in Australia, are surrounded by blackened remnants of what used to be lush Gondwana (primeval) rainforest in the UN heritage Lamington National Park.

The minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said he “doesn’t know” if climate change is man-made, and it’s not important – as long as Australia continues to produce “high quality” energy from coal. The Environment minister, a woman of some kind, equally pig-ignorant, has rallied to his support.

Granny Weatherwax comments bitterly: The world has more than its share of tenth-rate, moronic, venal or corrupt liars, ecocidal criminals careless of the now unavoidable fate of humankind and the truncated lives of their own children, greedy for money and a little transient power. Why do so many of them have to end up working as politicians? And in Australia?

New Zealand: Heavy rain on 10 Sept. prompted evacuations and caused flooding and landslips in the Coromandel Peninsula. 260mm fell in 24 hours. A local civil defense manager commented: “Although we saw the rain coming, it was twice as intense as we were advised.” (Floodlist)

West Africa: Floods continue to spread across Nigeria. In Niger, the death toll from last week’s flooding has risen to 57. Flooding in Chad and Mali has displaced hundreds of families. Several other countries are affected. The UN is talking of a humanitarian crisis. At least 7 people have died in a landslide in southern Ethiopia. The disaster occurred after heavy rain during the afternoon of 07 Sept. (Floodlist)

USA: Accuweather reports: There are dozens of active wildfires in the western U.S. from California to Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. The Walker Fire, burning in the Plumas National Forest in Northern California has consumed more than 44,000 acres and was only 10% contained as of Tuesday morning. Temperatures are forecast to climb back to and above seasonable levels later this week and into this weekend.

Yes, it’s been a bit cooler in the West the last few days. So much so, that several inches of snow have fallen in Utah….

Meanwhile for a swathe of the Midwest from Kansas through to Minnesota, guess what? That’s right! Hail, torrential rain, flash flooding, tornadoes, damaging winds…. No such thing as climate change. Not happening. 3x T-2 tornadoes that touched down in Sioux Falls, S. Dakota on 11 Sept. left a shopping district in shambles, downed power lines and caused severe damage to a hospital. (Accuweather)

Mid-Pacific, Hawaii posted its hottest summer on record. Data for a handful of specific sites—Honolulu, Hilo, Lihue, and Kahului—reports Weather Underground, make a strong case that this summer’s heat across Hawaii has been unprecedented, setting many new records both high and highest low.

Oh, and don’t tell Trump – “A tropical wave festering near the Southeast Bahamas may gradually organize as it heads toward Florida and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.”

Turkey: For some reason, we missed – oh, I remember, your Gran was away – torrential rain and severe flash flooding in Istanbul on 17 Aug. Some parts had 100mm rain in a few hours. Anyway, back in the Mediterranean, more torrential rainfall with potential for widespread flash flooding is the forecast for the rest of the week for Spain and the western Med. 11 Sept. And we’re talking up to half a meter of rain in places. (Severe-weather.eu)

Arctic: Watching the BBC Weather forecast for the week, I suppose it’s no surprise forecaster Darren Betts concentrates on remnant Dorian and remnant TS Gabrielle bringing wind and rain – and then warming temperatures, followed by high pressure – to the Fortunate Isles by the weekend. As your Gran has often observed, however, it’s what’s going on over his left shoulder that’s of more interest.

A massive wave of warm, tropical air preceding what look like two more cyclones is shoving up past Iceland into the Arctic, where 17 September is the annual peak day for summer ice loss – already at a record low volume. Arctic News reports, 9 Sept., current air temperatures across the polar region at 4.41C over the 1880-1920 (?) global average and sea surface temperatures off Svalbard at 15.2C above the 1981-2011 average.

Mean global methane levels (720 ppb in 1750) were as high as 1911 ppb on the morning of 3 Sept. Methane is increasing faster than CO2 and up to 150 times more damaging. The “Sam Carana” editorial team is still betting on an extinction-level 5C global rise by 2026 and fretting that it will include enough methane to trigger the loss of reflective marine stratocumulus cloud, leading to an additional 8C of warming. (Arctic News)

Antarctic: A possibly unprecedented, sudden warming of the stratosphere over Antarctica, with temperatures an alarming 40C above normal, reveals just how complex climate science can get. Because, the effect is to push cold air at lower altitudes out sideways: thus large parts of Australia will see its already record-hot Spring temperatures plummet to a wintery 10C below-normal anomaly next week, lowering the risk of more wildfires – while the heat in the stratosphere will also have the effect of preventing the chemical reactions that cause the annual widening of the as-yet unrepaired hole in the ozone layer, actually helping to shrink it (and thus reduce damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the ground). (extreme-weather.eu)

It’s an ill-wind, as they say.

Tunnel approaching….

Fukushima: The Tokyo Electric Power company responsible for cleaning up the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear facility where three reactors melted down after the 2011 tsunami, has said it is running out of storage space for over a million tonnes of radioactive coolant it has been only partly successful in decontaminating, and will need to start emptying it untreated into the Pacific by 2022. Local fishermen are protesting.

Bahamas: While government figures are still claiming the death toll from Hurricane Dorian is just 45, local media are speculating that 3 thousand or more may have died. Officially, 2,500 are missing (12 Sept.) Geographer and climate change activist, Prof. Paul Beckwith has looked at the numbers and estimates on the basis of local eyewitness accounts, population distribution, figures for missing, how many people may have left the island in time and the impact of the storm seen in photographs, that the final toll could be as high as 40 thousand.

Iceland: volcano watchers are monitoring a build-up of pressure in the Grimsvoten volcanic field under the huge Vanajökull glacier in anticipation of a major eruption. “The trend has increased lately, and with stronger earthquakes and more pressure in the volcano, it is possible for Grimsvotn to erupt within the next 4-12 months.” say the experts. They don’t know which volcano might blow, but bets are on Hekla, the most frequent eruptor. (Severe-weather.eu)

Human extinction: John Doyle is the EU’s director of Policy Outreach and International Affairs. He gives a scary presentation in a video recorded at a recent symposium for UN aid agencies, available for now on the Arctic News website, in which he confirms the little publicized diagnosis of climate scientists that we are looking down the barrel of a planet-killing 10 deg. C of warming within the next “20 to 30 years”.

To get there, he notes, we have to pass 4 degrees, and that’s curtains for most of the human race. Food yields, he points out, are already plummeting due to climate change; parts of the world have already become almost uninhabitable due to excessive “wetbulb” temperatures. Vertebrate species and insect populations have collapsed. Forests are burning. And there is no “unless…” – no technological solution is on the horizon and one becomes even less likely as we try to retreat from fossil fuels, effectively ending global action. We have done this to ourselves.

“Most of you will be here at the end”, he concludes.

http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/

The Pumpkin – Issue 96: The Red President… The madness of King Donald #2… Of course it’s not a coup, silly!… Your average Tory cunt #2… I spy with my little i… GW: A world on fire.

“Prorogation is an exercise of royal prerogative that is tolerable in a modern democracy only insofar as it is ceremonial. Its deployment by a prime minister without an electoral mandate of his own, in pursuit of a partisan agenda for which there is no Commons majority, represents a grotesque abuse of the country’s highest political office.” – Guardian editorial

Your Uncle Bogler had always fancied that “prorogue” meant you were generally in favor of rogues. He cannot understand why Her Majesty didn’t just tell this unelected, narcissistic, Koch-funded buffoon with authoritarian tendencies to get the fuck off her lawn. But then why would the monarch be in favour of smelly old democracy?

“Quick, panic! There’s that terrible human who keeps feeding us!”

The Red President

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell is reporting tonight (27 Aug.) that Deutsche Bank has confirmed to a New York court that they hold several years’ worth of Donald Trump’s tax returns among the “vast trove” of financial asset disclosures he has made to them, many – according to whistleblowers in the bank and on the sworn testimony of former Trump lieutenant, Michael Cohen – dishonestly inflated.

They state that, as Trump has already boasted, he paid “little to no” tax during those years. Whether that makes him “smart”, as he says, or whether it’s merely an indication that he wasn’t earning very much, will no doubt come out in court.

We already know that he mitigated tax for many years through declaring huge losses, while at the same time manipulating the media to convince the American public he was a successful self-made billionaire. We still don’t know if those losses were genuine – you can only make a loss by spending more than you earn, but you still need to earn it in the first place – or if they were merely an accounting fiction and he was salting profits away undeclared somewhere.

O’Donnell however drops a total bombshell.

A private source “close to Deutsche Bank” has claimed that congressional subpoenas requiring the bank to hand over their voluminous records of dealings with Trump name a number of Russian oligarchs as co-signatories to loan applications made by Trump without which, says the source, the bank would not have agreed to lend him the approximately $2 billion he borrowed in the ten years up to his gaining the presidency, on the basis of his terrible credit default history.

(One further clue: when he became the Republican candidate, his Russian backers appear to have rapidly withdrawn to avoid implicating Putin, presumably – and that was when Deutsche Bank refused Trump a $10 million loan.)

Finally, we begin to understand his craven obeisance to the foreign policy whims of Vladimir Putin, the world’s richest man, the supreme oligarch who owns all the other oligarchs; and his refusal to criticize them in any way. They all own Trump, lock, stock and barrel. And many of them, perhaps among Trump’s backers too, are on sanctions lists or FBI wanted lists for racketeering and currency violations.

Ooops.

If true, according to vintage Trumphound and tax specialist, David Cay Johnson, if those signatures are indeed down on paper, the presence of Russian guarantors in Trump’s personal and business banking affairs, perhaps individuals suspected of criminal activities, should be more than enough to secure his immediate removal from office.

Sadly, the world doesn’t work like that.

With the Justice Department totally in his pocket – Attorney General Bill Barr has reportedly just given Trump Organization 30 thousand dollars to host a party at one of Trump’s hotels – and with his drooling imbecile, Mnuchin, at the Treasury, overseeing the Internal Revenue Service and blocking congressional access to Trump’s tax returns – there is no other statutory body at Federal level capable of holding the president to account for financial crimes. No-one, not even Congress can order his arrest.

It is now entirely up to the New York district court to determine whether or not Trump and his immediate family should face criminal charges of money laundering and obtaining loans by false pretences, at state level, where his writ of pardon does not run.

Way to go, guys.

 

The Red-handed President

Would you like to know how evil this sick sonofabitch really is? I urge you to visit this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVDMabhm1tI

 

Exclusive: God tells Trump: “The Universe is not for sale”.
“He’s nasty”, Trump tweeted Thursday. “We need that oil.”

The madness of King Donald #2

Faced with plummeting poll numbers, Trump has ordered his Homeland Security people to get the wall built along the 2,000 miles of the Mexican border at any cost, to feed his dumbfuck base support and please the little yammering faces of the Fox sofa-dwellers before the election.

He says now he wants it “black and shiny and pretty and spiky”. He’s illegally diverted military funds to the project, and is gutting Federal emergency (FEMA) funds as well (In advance of a Cat 4 hurricane heading for Florida). To date, despite what he tells the dumbfucks, not one yard of new wall has been built.

One of the barriers to the wall, as it were, is that a lot of the land is privately owned. He has directed his people to seize the land, illegally by force if necessary, and to defy any adverse zoning or environmental laws – and promised to pardon anyone who is prosecuted for breaking Federal law. Inciting crime is, of course, illegal – and an impeachable offence.

Since that was all reported, he has denied saying anything of the kind, claiming that the insider reporting is fake news.

Trump has ordered his Border Agency people to carry on deporting undocumented migrants without right of appeal, even when they have children undergoing hospital treatment for life-threatening conditions. (See above: The Red-handed President)

Trump’s Environment Protection director, Andrew Wheeler, is relishing a Trump executive order relaxing Obama-era controls on methane emissions from drilling operations, saving the energy industry a paltry $27 million a year. That’s despite objections from Exxon and other big energy corporations who enjoyed the protection the regulations offered against smaller competitors.

Methane is up to 150 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2. The order is expected to add another 2 million tonnes a year to the atmosphere. The NYT reports, Trump and the EPA are looking at rolling-back more than 80 environmental protections, including a prohibition on clear-felling national forests.

At the G7, Trump claimed that he had received a phone call from China – later amended to “two” calls – softening Chairman Xi’s response to US sanctions. The Chinese confirmed, there were no calls. His own Commerce department say they are unaware of any new agreement with China. Trump also announced a new trade deal with Japan, that doesn’t exist. He also claimed that other leaders had been curious to know why the US media coverage of him isn’t more favorable. No-one recalls asking him that.

Trump has claimed for two years that canned former FBI Director, James Comey, is a liar who illegally leaked documents via “a friend” and should be arrested. All his press people have been forced to repeat the same story. Attorney General Barr has now announced that, yes, Comey leaked illegal documents. The DoJ investigation report Barr refers to, however, clearly states there is no evidence whatever to back Trump’s assertion. No, Comey did not leak documents.

Oh, no! Is the White House not telling the truth?

And finally, President Loony-tunes has signed-off a bill to fund a US space cadet force.

 

Of course it’s not a coup, silly.

“The … Weimar Republic was perhaps the world’s most democratic state yet—with free elections, voting rights for all adults (male and female), an independent judiciary, a free press, regional autonomy and elections by proportional representation. … It seemed as though nothing could go wrong.

“Less than 15 years later, the Republic had given way to Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship. Centrally orchestrated propaganda had replaced the free press; all other political parties were dissolved; new Nazi courts had been set up; and all independent institutions bar the church and the army had been transformed into organs of acclamation for the Führer. New treason laws made even telling jokes about his regime punishable by death. Within six years, Hitler launched a world war that killed 50m people, including six million murdered Jews.” – Richard J Evans

An article in Prospect magazine warns us that it may be too late to hear the warning noises. Sir Richard Evans is Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, president of Wolfson College, Cambridge and Fellow of The British Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences. Specializing in 19th- and 20th-century Europe with a focus on Germany, he is the author of The Third Reich Trilogy (2003–2008) that has been hailed as “brilliant” and “magisterial.” (Wikipedia)

Although he is at pains to stress that this is not Weimar redux, principally because it lacks a military dimension, while levels of violence have yet to attain those experienced in the late 1920s and 30s; and while the fear of Communism is nowhere as prevalent, nor the numbers of demobilized and demoralized ex-military conscripts swilling around with experience of violence nearly so great, nevertheless Democracy, Evans writes, is in trouble.

Disillusioned voters are too willing to embrace political outsiders and oddballs who appear to offer something different from the sameold sameold; while Conservative politicians will go along with anyone sufficiently popular to guarantee their place in society – even a funny little Austrian with a ridiculous mustache.

If he’s worried, we all should be.

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/britain-proroging-boris-johnson-parliament-suspension-richard-evans-weimar

 

Your average Tory CUNT (Conservative & Unionist Neo-Thatcherite) #2

“Hancock wrote to parliament on 6 June (the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings), saying that ‘England is the mother of all parliaments – respected as such around the free world. To suspend Parliament explicitly to pursue a course of action against its wishes is not a serious policy of a prime minister in the 21st Century. It goes against everything those men who waded onto those beaches fought & died for – and I will not have it’.” (Edited from Guardian, 29 Aug.)

We look forward to your resignation, Minister.

Self-serving little creep.

Seriously, if the only result of Johnson’s reckless and authoritarian prorogation of Parliament closing down democratic debate on the terms of Brexit were to be to ensure that Nigel Farage and his rump Brexit party of fanatical Leavers – not a political party in reality but a private company* registered to Farage, with hefty membership fees and “dark money” accruing to him personally – don’t get a sniff of being elected in November, then it’s probably worth it.

But we then have to look forward to a newly mandated Johnson explaining why his “exciting and ambitious” reform manifesto involving spending billions of pounds of public money he hasn’t got on bringing back flogging and roly-poly pudding with jam in schools and providing free nannies to upper-class working mothers is not going to happen after all, is all the fault of Brussels, or the last Labour government, or the media, his ex-wife, his current “totty” (his word) or Martians.

And there seems little doubt that we are overdue for another global recession, with our defenses down and no way we can sensibly just print money to buy our way out of it and reward the bankers for failure this time by artificially propping up its value with interest rates at zero so they can spend it on real yachts. The Week reports on America’s savviest investor, Warren Buffet:

“He’s reportedly hoarding a record $122 billion in cash at Berkshire Hathaway Inc., leading to some speculation that he sees a recession on the horizon, or at least is sending some sort of warning. The cash pile is more than half the value of Berkshire’s $208 billion portfolio of public companies, and the only time that percentage has reportedly been higher since 1987 was in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.”

I’ve quoted The Week because Bloomberg has locked me out with no more free articles to pillage, ever, but they’re saying much the same thing. The wealthier the media owner, it seems, the higher the paywall.

We might perhaps consider that if Buffet and the rest of the 0.1% are hoarding all the money and not investing it, the likelihood of a recession is substantially increased. But they’re covered for that.

*It’s a way of avoiding most of the financial accounting obligations and rules on donor transparency imposed by the toothless and, indeed, gormless Electoral Commission.

 

I spy with my little i

In May last year, The Guardian reported that President Trump was refusing to allow the iPhone he uses for monitoring Twitter feeds and spewing out his insane tweets to be scanned for bugs and evidence of hacking, because it was “too inconvenient” to be without it.

Google’s in-house Spot-the-Hacker team has today revealed details of mass hacking operations that have been affecting, specifically, iPhone users for over two years, deploying more than a dozen separate pieces of malware to obtain intimate details of passwords, conversations, financial records, lookups and locations.

No source of the hacking has been revealed.

Lock him up?

 

GW: A world on fire

If you’re wondering why the weather isn’t even hotter, given the increase in CO2, maybe this should concentrate the mind.

Global News, Canada reported (16 Aug.):

“…Smoke from British Columbia’s wildfires in 2017 is helping scientists model the potential impacts of nuclear war on the Earth’s climate, says a study from Rutgers University. The enormous plume of smoke formed the largest cloud of its kind ever observed, which circled the Northern Hemisphere, says the study … in the peer-reviewed academic journal Science. The cloud, called a pyrocumulonimbus, formed over the wildfire and sent black carbon high into the atmosphere … The wildfire smoke cloud contained 0.3 million U.S. tons of soot, while a nuclear war between the United States and Russia could generate 150 million tons.

In other words, these huge regional wildfires all over the planet will be creating a global dimming effect like a nuclear winter for several years. But don’t be fooled – without the smoke, which you can clearly observe in the haze even on blue-sky days or feel in the muted warmth of the sun, and occasionally even smell here in sunny Boglington-on-Sea, on the UK’s west coast – we’d be looking at 2 or even 3 degrees of warming above the 1880-1990 average this year.

For then, of course, you’ll need to consider how much CO2 the vanishing forests aren’t absorbing, and how much they’re giving up (and poisonous CO) when they burn, and how much less oxygen we’re breathing; how the precipitating soot is blackening Arctic ice and glaciers, melting them faster; how particulate pollution increases rainfall, and how the global dimming will reduce crop yields, while you slowly drown in misery and alcohol (drink up while stocks last).

Anyway…

Alaska: Despite starting early, this year’s fires in British Columbia have burned 1,300 Ha less forest than last year. To the northwest, however, travel site Afar reports: “several fires are burning in some of south-central Alaska’s most popular tourist areas: The two largest fires are the McKinley Fire and the Swan Lake Fire (157,000 acres), and several smaller outbreaks are causing concern throughout the region.” Air quality is generally terrible and some highways remain closed.

Africa: Wildfires in Central and Southern Africa and on the island of Madagascar may be consuming twice the area of forest as the Brazilian rainforest fires, which have been exacerbated by drought as the forest is no longer producing its own misty microclimate of rain. Or maybe not, as they are mostly caused by small farmers burning off grassland and stubble, so perhaps it’s not so bad. Just a mass of red on a satellite image. Huge fires however continue to burn in Brazil’s forested neighbor, Bolivia – and in Australia, despite the cold, wet, windy winter, where over 100 fires are burning – in Tasmania to the south and up in Papua New Guinea to the north.

Soon these Siberian reindeer will die and nobody is quite sure why, but thousands already have. Herders blame a vaccination program against anthrax, whose spores are being released by thawing of the permafrost, for weakening the animals’ resistance to winter hunger when increasing rainfall creates a barrier of ice over the snow covering the mosses they eat.

Russia: Water levels in the Lena River, a major Siberian waterway, have dropped so far owing to a persistent heatwave and drought that the economy of the region is beginning to suffer. At 2.5 meters below normal, Siberian Times reports:

“The current water level means critical delays in the summer ritual delivering vital supplies to Arctic settlements in Yakutia, Russia’s biggest region. … traffic flow … has been halted for weeks due to the low level of the longest river flowing entirely within Russia. In regional capital Yakutsk the water dropped so suddenly that hundreds of cargo ships and smaller boats were left stranded. Elsewhere along the river fishermen complained about an extremely low catch, saying that for days they were coming back home with empty buckets.”

The shortage of water also means less is available for firefighting. Siberian Times again:

“Territory covered with wildfires across Russia has reached its peak for the year so far, with some 5.4 million hectares ablaze mostly in Siberia and the country’s far east. The total land destroyed by flames will soon exceed 2018 with weeks of the burning season still to go. The immense scale of the fires is highlighted by the fact that so far this year some 14.9 million hectares has been destroyed by burning. (An area the size of Bangladesh.) Smoke from wildfires has covered an area larger than the European Union.” While firefighters have been able to access less than 10% of the areas on fire, and water is being described as more expensive than Champagne.

Europe: Copernicus reports, “more than 1,600 wildfires have been recorded in the European Union so far this year — more than three times the average over the past decade. The rise in the number of blazes has reduced to ashes more than 271,000 hectares — 100,000 more than the average burnt (annually) over the same period during the last decade.” (EuroNews)

Japan: “Daily downpours inundating parts of western Japan in the coming days will raise the risk of flooding and mudslides. The (“unprecedented”) downpours began on Tuesday, and are expected to continue into Friday before diminishing in intensity this weekend. The hardest-hit areas from Tuesday into Wednesday night were across northwestern Kyushu where more than 500 mm (20-in) was reported in Hirado.” (Accuweather) Rainfall rates locally were as high as 4-in. per hour. At least 3 deaths were reported as cars were swept away. “900,000 people have been ordered to evacuate across Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki prefectures as of Wednesday.”

USA: Tropical Storm, now Hurricane Dorian has been pounding the US Virgin Islands (but skirted Puerto Rico) and is now aiming at Florida, where forecasters think it might arrive over the Labor Day weekend at Cat 4 hurricane strength. Once across Florida and into the Gulf, they fear it might intensify even further into next week. They’re already evaluating potential damage at $1 bn+. A strong Tropical Storm, Erin is moving up parallel to the East Coast, with its worst impacts due to be felt in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Accuweather also reports:

“Record highs dating back to the 1940s will be in jeopardy across the southwestern United States as intense heat builds into the Labor Day weekend. While average high temperatures start trending down at this point in the season most years, this weekend will feel more like the middle of summer due to widespread highs in the 90s, 100s and 110s F.”

One persistent hotspot rapidly becoming uninhabitable is Phoenix, Az, where a powerful out-of-town lobby funded by Koch Industries’ dirty money has reportedly been working to prevent the water-stressed desert city extending its light railway network, in favor of having more polluting cars. (Yes, these people are criminally insane. Next?) Hopefully, a proposition that would have required “terminating all construction, development, extension, and expansion of” light rail has been thrown out by a massive majority in a local referendum. (Streetsblog/Guardian and others)

Happily, David Koch died last week. Your Gran wonders idly if he’s being cremated, just as a final contribution to global warming – and when possibly older brother Charles might follow him down to hell? That’s if he doesn’t roast in the one he’s been making for us up here.

Tunnel approaching….

Yellowstone: Trees killed in a new surface “hotspot” zone that has appeared in recent weeks have been turned to charcoal, according to USGS park scientist Michael Poland; suggesting anoxic heating owing to rising gases. Strong harmonic tremors, microquakes, ground uplift and gas seepage are all continuing. Steamboat geyser, the biggest in the park, whose long-term average eruption cycle is about three a year, has gone off for the 33rd time in 2019, beating the previous record of 32 set during the whole of last year. A number of fires are burning in the park, as yet covering a few tens of acres. (Mary Greeley)

Brazil: Forget the rainforest. After he was elected, the filthy corporatist Bolsonaro junta in Brazil immediately set about lifting restrictions on the use of agrichemicals such as neonicotinoid “pesticides” banned in Europe. Almost 300 products have been licensed or relicensed since the beginning of the year, many new and untested.

Simultaneously, Brazilian bee keepers have reported a massive die-off of honeybees this summer: over half a billion bees are thought to have been poisoned in a catastrophe similar to the colony collapse disorder reported in the USA and other countries around the world.

Ironically, reports Guardian Green Light, the important soya crop for which Bolsonaro is insanely burning the Amazon rainforest to grow and sell to the Chinese, is bee-pollinated.

Let’s see for how long, shall we.

(Your Gran is starting to suspect that the many bees she finds staggering about on the ground each spring may well be victims of local sports groundkeepers’ enthusiasm for pristine surfaces. No arable agricultural explanation is to hand in this region for the collapse in bee numbers, but there are many acres of cricket, soccer and rugby pitches in our little valley.)

(Possibly an encouraging sign, some funds are beginning to disinvest in Brazil while a few international companies have suspended trading.)

The Seven Ages of Dominic Cummings… The party’s uber… So, what are we doing about it?… GW: how do you like your people, fried or boiled?… A BogPo early bird” special hatches.

Quote of the day

“You know you’re getting old when you’ve got so many pairs of glasses, you don’t know which ones to put on next.” – Uncle Bogler, in a moment of confusion.

 

Dominic Cummings before the Brexit campaign of 2016, a gleam in his studently eye as he imagines Britain becoming the 51st state of the USA and himself as President.

Rapidly shedding his hair, Dominic Cummings becomes the mastermind of the Leave campaign and is hauled up by a Parliamentary committee to explain the funding anomalies.

Suffering macular degeneration, Dominic Cummings moves into Downing Street as a special advisor with Johnson as funny premier and announces meetings will start at 07.55, not 08.00.

August 2019, and Dominic Cummings is beginning to resemble his own, long-dead grandfather. Does he have dementia as well, is the question the BogPo is all asking?

The Seven Ages of Dominic Cummings (With apologies to the owners of the original photographs, which I am using purely for educational purposes. Everyone on this site knows I get paid sweet F.A. for doing this.)

“Sans eyes, sans teeth, sans taste, sans everything.”

How does a guy age so fast in just a few years, that it looks like he’s playing Shakespeare’s “Seven ages of man” speech on speed, to get to the ending before he pegs it?

Anyway, he’s on stage now, playing Iago to Johnson’s Falstaff, to mix one’s plays up. It’s clearly a very stressful job being the Boris-whisperer. (I refer of course to Angela Merkel’s holiday reading, a book about tyrants in Shakespeare’s plays.)

Or could it possibly be that he has a wasting disease?

Like, wasting our money?

Or wasting the United Kingdom.

We should be told.

Sorry, Sir, I can’t let you in. Your pass is age-expired.

The party’s uber

It’s not only national governments that seem to be losing the plot, as the world ends, not with a bang, but with an air-conditioning breakdown.

Uber, the famous ride-sharing company, one of whose directors recently paid $72 million he clearly hasn’t got, for a splendid mansion in Los Angeles to add to his collection, is spaffing money faster than you can hail a cab: nearly $7 billion has been blown out of the exhaust already this year and there’s no sign of it ending.

But fear not! Echoing the optimism, both of the splendidly named Energy Mutodi, see previous post Pumpkin #94, and of Herr Johnson, already Britain’s latest candidate for Worst Conservative Prime Minister since Lord North lost the Americas, Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi gibbered:

“We think that 2019 will be our peak investment year and we think that 2020, 2021, you’ll see losses come down,” he told CNBC. “I think our breakeven is something that we can push the company to break even if we really wanted to, frankly. No doubt in my mind that the business will eventually be a break-even and profitable business.”

Rumours of a new Uber service, enabling us to hail a flying pig on demand, are probably true.

(Report: Vanity Fair)

 

So, what are we doing about it?

The Washington Post records today that:

“For the fifth consecutive weekend, protesters massed in Moscow, clamoring for opposition candidates to be allowed on the ballot for municipal elections next month — as well as for the release of hundreds of demonstrators … detained by authorities in the previous weeks.”

While:

“For the tenth consecutive weekend, protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong, dodging tear gas fired by security forces. … They are defending political freedoms they think are under threat and demanding broader democratic reforms.”

Those are brave people speaking out against the authoritarian repression of would-be dictators Putin and Xi. They come in tens of thousands, but many have been injured or even killed, many hundreds more snatched off the street and thrown in gaol, facing imprisonment and even beatings.

And what are we in Britain doing about the threat to our democracy created by Brexit and the Johnson cabal?

Having nice thoughts. Going shopping. Flocking abroad (airlines permitting) or to the coast on holiday.

The Guardian reports that:

“Green MP, Caroline Lucas, has thrown down the gauntlet to 10 high-profile female politicians over blocking a no-deal Brexit, proposing a cabinet of national unity (composed entirely of women MPs from across the political spectrum).”

And that:

“Britons have spent £4bn stockpiling goods. … One in five people are already hoarding food, drinks and medicine, spending an extra £380 each. … About 800,000 people have spent more than £1,000 building up stockpiles before the 31 October Brexit deadline.”

So instead of stopping it, or reversing it, hundreds of thousands of us are preparing simply to hunker down and live with it; voting with our credit cards.

Lucas makes the telling point, that the former Vote Leave! campaign team is now in complete control of the government and making threats to prorogue Parliament if MPs continue to refuse to let Britain crash out of the EU, not only without a deal (preventing further trade talks with 27 EU states), but also reneging on our existing financial commitments to the group (ensuring a credit-drubbing from Standard & Poors and the IMF).

So much for regaining our sovereignty. The BogPo has been “Remoaning”, literally now for years, that the sovereignty Brexiteers like Irish-Mogg, Duncan Cunt and Farage* were telling people we would be regaining was theirs, not ours. But did anyone listen?

Our government is entirely sure the worst is going to happen. They’re planning for it, stockpiling food and medicines again and proposing to draft in thousands more police and bureaucrats, find another ten thousand prison places and put the army on the streets.

What is this, fucking South America? (Venezuelan-style power blackouts becoming the norm.)

And we’re just sitting here, watching the neofascists taking over, perched atop our little mountains of canned fish and Pot Noodle, smiling and nodding gently. Oh look, they’ve started casting Strictly!

And what are the millionaires doing? Well, apparently, importing luxury German cars as fast as they can, before the EU slaps a 32% tariff on them.

But don’t worry, it’s only Project Fear, my dears.

“My, Grandma, what big teeth you have!” ** (12 Aug.)

** Farage is now doomed. He’s been caught badmouthing the Queen Mother, Britain’s most revered royal of the last century. But will the Daily Mail run the story?

**  “Emboldened leavers have denigrated their pro-European rivals for crying wolf ever since. That jibe resonates with voters who want to believe that Brexit can be a success, although it is worth remembering that in the original fable there was, in the end, a real wolf.” – Guardian, 14 Aug.

Is someone on The Grauniad a-readin’ my li’l bogl, I wonder?

 

“There is no question Arctic people are now showing symptoms of anxiety, ‘ecological grief’ and even post-traumatic stress related to the effects of climate change.” – Courtney Howard, president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (Guardian Green Light)

 

GW: how do you like your people, fried or boiled?

India: “The death toll from flooding caused by torrential monsoon rains in India has risen to at least 200. Dozens more have died in Myanmar and Pakistan. Days of pounding rain have claimed at least 72 lives in hard hit Kerala state, India Today reported. Another 97 people have died in the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

In northern India, ‘at least’ 34 people died in a landslide in the state of Uttarakhand. Dozens of people are missing. ‘Several houses are still covered under 10-12 feet of deep mud. This is hampering rescue work,’ Kerala’s Chief Minister said.” More than 165,000 people have fled their homes for relief camps. The Weather Channel reports, some places have had 2 feet of rain in less than a week. 14 Aug.: Odisha had more than 600mm of rain in 24 hours (Floodlist).

“Downpours have also inundated much of Pakistan where at least 17 people have died. 7 people were electrocuted and 3 others killed when a roof collapsed in the southern city of Karachi, AP reported. 5 people died in a flash flood and another 2 were electrocuted in Punjab province, according to AP.” (The Weather Channel) 14 Aug.: At least 12 people have died after heavy monsoon rainfall in Khyber Province. (Floodlist).

In Myanmar, 53 people were killed and 47 rescued as landslides forced thousands from their homes on Sunday, CNN reported. The flooding has damaged over 4 thousand homes, according to Global New Light of Myanmar.

China: “At least 44 people have been killed and 9 others are missing in eastern China since Cat 3 Typhoon Lekima made landfall, Saturday 10 Aug. Most of the lives were lost in a tragic event, triggered by Lekima, in a village in Zhejiang’s Yongjia County. After a landslide initially blocked a river, water built up and then broke through the earthen dam. The roughly 120 people in the village did not have time to safely evacuate before the floodwaters swept downstream.” (Accuweather)

Japan: A report on EcoWatch cites Japan Times as reporting 57 heat-related deaths and over 18 thousand hospitalizations, 7 Aug., as the result of a fierce heatwave that’s affected the country for days. The Japan Times website today is reporting however only that they’re expecting Typhoon Krosa. The national agency is “warning of torrential rain and strong winds along the Pacific coast of eastern and western Japan as early as Tuesday.” (13 Aug.) 2 fishermen and a 9-year-old boy have already been killed by high waves ahead of the typhoon.

Meanwhile, The Mainichi was reporting at the weekend: “At least 162 people have died from confirmed or suspected heatstroke in Japan this summer (2/3rds of them indoors) amid punishing hot temperatures following the end of the rainy season.”

USA: Will it ever stop? “Portions of the midwestern United States are expected to deal with rounds of thunderstorms, which may pose a threat for flooding, damaging winds, hail and even isolated tornadoes into Monday night. The same storm that unleashed damaging thunderstorms and several tornadoes across the High Plains to end the weekend will be responsible for triggering the severe weather across the Midwest to start the week.” (Accuweather)

Meanwhile a heatwave with wetbulb temperatures (heat + humidity) possibly hitting 115 deg. F. is building over the southeastern states – and Alaska just declared its hottest July ever: “Four of the top 10 warmest single months on record (all Julys) has been set in just the past four years”, marvels Wunderground. (Go on, you work it out!)

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

Crash out – cash in! Trebles all round…

Quote of the week

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

 

Signs and Portents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what happens next week, I wonder?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

(2 earlier articles have been removed for length.)

He’s a very naughty boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Bunga-bunga: Boris exposes himself

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

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

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

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

 

GW: Baked Alaska #2

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

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

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

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

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

Baked Alaska #2

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

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

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

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

The New York Times’ “Monday Briefing” reports:

President Trump listed his environmental accomplishments in a speech from the White House that seemed aimed at voters dismayed by his record.
He said his priorities were “being a good steward of public land,” reducing carbon emissions and promoting the “cleanest air” and “crystal clean” water.
But Mr. Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the international Paris climate change accord, sought to roll back or weaken more than 80 environmental regulations and ceded global environmental leadership, so critics were outspoken.
David Victor, director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego, called the speech “a true 1984 moment.”

You can sing for your water… And you can sing for your money… Nature Notes… My legacy… GW: Wet, wet, wettest… Thursday’s BogPo bubbling up

Khyber Puss

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

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

Absolute Idiocy (AI)

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

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

 

GW special:

You can sing for your water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rain is fresh, drinkable water.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

And you can sing for your money…

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

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

Oh, goody.

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

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

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

Just never happens.

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

Yes, well, we’re a bank…

 

Nature Notes...

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

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

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

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

Perhaps all is not lost quite yet.

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

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

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

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

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

 

My legacy

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

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

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

It’s never going to happen, is it.

 

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

 

GW: Wet, wet, wettest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tunnel approaching….

The Munch Bunch

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