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.”

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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.

No, sorry, it’s turned into a Pumpkin! Issue 88: Middle East: Houthing up… The three lives of Gene Wilder… A load of guacamole… You scratch my back… And I’ll scratch yours… GW: It never rains but it burns… Essay: Us vs. Them: a draw?…

Middle East: Houthing up

“Hands up. Who in the class believes Iran or its proxy militias would be so stupid as to try to blow up two more oil tankers in the Gulf, right under the nose of the angry headmaster with his big, swishy cane, just while his friend the Japanese Prime Minister was in Tehran on a peace mission?

“Yes, Bolton?”

“Oooh, Miss, look, I’m in the fake news press! It says: ‘The US national security adviser, John Bolton, said Iran was almost certainly involved’.” (Guardian, 13 June)

“And why do you think, Bolton, that the entire class is so stupid as to believe your crazy, hotheaded Irish blarney? I mean, anyone in the school who doesn’t already know you and your friends from the Israeli special forces were smoking behind the bike shed last night. ‘Almost certainly’, what’s that?”

“Because, Miss, blowing up ships and pretending it was the other boys wot did it has always worked to start wars before.”

“And why would you want to start a war, Bolton? People might get hurt.”

“Well, Miss, wars are fun. Things go bang, your shares in Raytheon rocket up like July 4th and your oil export price doubles overnight while strong domestic output keeps consumer prices steady. The Commander-in-Chief gets to look like a leader instead of a leaky, one-winged, criminal mallard with no feathers. The country swings behind him and he’s a slam-dunk for a second term. While Netanyahu’s in for life.

“It’s a win-win-win-win situation we can’t lose. And besides, we haven’t had a good war since the last one I helped start on the basis of flawed intelligence. Mine, that is…. Look, here’s a meme of the Iranians removing a limpet mine from a tanker, so it must be them who put it there, mustn’t it.”

“Fair enough, Bolton, carry on. Class, let’s now turn to page a hundred and seventeen of your Farsi history primer, to where it says ‘And then the US 5th Fleet merrily began bombing, because the White House had been handsomely paid by the Dashing Young Prince of Barbaria'”….

Postscriptum:

In the interests of balance, we should mention that it is being suggested by highly paid experts that Iran might be minimally blowing up foreign tankers as a gesture to warn the Americans they could interdict Saudi oil traffic through the Straits if they wanted to.

I guess even the Americans probably knew that already?

 

A research project at Brown University has concluded that at 59m tonnes, the US military emits more greenhouse gases annually than Portugal.

 

The three lives of Gene Wilder

I see comic actor Gene Wilder just died again. So sad, I was a huge fan. Blazing Saddles… The Producers… if you needed a blond, curly-haired, blue-eyed, blanket-chewing Jewish neurotic with a wispy side, Gene was your man.

But there seems to be something rather odd about the sad news, a chronoclasm that might have interested the late Professor Stephen Hawking, with his theories about Time an’ all.

The BBC reported, today, 10 June 2019:

“US actor Gene Wilder, remembered by many for his lead role in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died at the age of 83, his family has confirmed.”

This happened apparently yesterday, Sunday, and is very sad. Heartfelt tributes were pouring in, from his friend, Director Mel Brooks, actor Russell Crowe, Ricky Gervais and other claim-jumpers.

Cats have nine lives, it’s said, but it seems Willy Wonka had at least three. For, with great foresight BBC News actually published an obituary of Wilder by Arts supremo, Alan Yentob on 29 August, 2016. Clearly it was premature. Because then, they published a news report of his death the following day, on 1 September – which is completely spooky, right? I mean, how did they publish an obituary, not knowing the subject was going to die the very next day?

But then, for some unknown reason, they’ve repeated the story today, 10 June, 2019. Why, the man is a veritable Schrödinger’s Cat. Was he dead, or wasn’t he? Just how relativistic is Time, as a concept? We’re not being told, although we definitely should be.

At the bottom of the page is a link: “Why you can trust BBC News”. It takes you to another page, which begins:

“The BBC is recognised by audiences in the UK and around the world as a provider of news that you can trust. Our website, like our TV and radio services, strives for journalism that is accurate, impartial, independent and fair.”

But not necessarily much less than three years old.

The average age of a BBC TV viewer is said to be 62 and rising. Not all of us have Alzheimer’s, as Wilder did, but clearly the Editor of the BBC News website is in urgent need of nursing care.

 

Interviewed on ABC TV about Don Jr’s latest appearance before the House over his 9 June, 2016 meeting with Russians, that he lied was about adoptions, Don Sr said he’d certainly consider offers of foreign help to get elected in 2020, and probably not tell the FBI if he thought it wasn’t illegal.

Er…

 

A load of guacamole

“The president stakes out a maximalist position but never clearly defines his objectives. That way, after he backs himself into a corner, he can use a deal of any kind, even if it’s merely a fig leaf, to justify retreating from whatever misguided policy he’s threatened. Then he declares victory, having done little to nothing to solve the underlying problem.” – Senator Chuck Schumer, on Trump’s phoney triumphalist brinkmanship.

Before coming over to hobnob with his favorite gal, HM Queen, the only person on earth who, by virtue of her apolitical contract can never, ever mock or criticize him, Trump announced, as usual by tweet, yet another unexpected policy initiative he had apparently discussed with no-one other than the little yammering faces of Fox & Friends on the White House TV screens, his only connection with reality.

In lieu of funding for the Wall, he was imposing a tariff on all products coming over the border from Mexico, starting at 5% and rising monthly to 25%, until Mexico agrees to do more to stop refugees and other migrants from reaching the US border.

(The Editor writes: It is the policy of the BogPo to refer to “refugees and other migrants”, rather than just “animals”, “rapists”, “terrorists”, “M-13 gang members” or “drug lords” until someone tells us just what the hell is going on in his diseased brain.)

Returning days later from his successful European trip, while heading off to another of his golf courses for a few well-deserved days’ r&r, Trump tweeted that he might not after all be imposing the tariffs most economists agree would hurt American consumers and businesses more than they would hurt Mexico.

This was because he had done a Great Deal: Mexico had agreed to send the National Guard to the Guatemalan border and promised to buy billions of dollars’ worth of US agricultural goods, to please our “patriotic farmers” who have been royally screwed by Trump’s China tariff war and the endless rain and are committing suicide in droves.

This left Mexico’s government somewhat confused, as the National Guard has already been sent to the border, that happened during Obama’s presidency, and there was no agreement they knew of, to buy more US farm produce. So he resorted to the ancient art of bullshit and, like Chamberlain returning in triumph from Munich, peeled from his shoe a piece of paper he said was the new agreement.

Mexico is, in fact, we believe without fact-checking, a net exporter of agricultural produce to the US, while of course presumably importing as much corn and soybean back from the gringos as they can use; of avocados and beer and also of Tequila, that being the nature of the close trading relationship the now-dead NAFTA created between the neighboring countries.

He seems to have either dreamed it, or he made it all up.

Meanwhile, Trump’s violent posturing over immigration has caused a great panic, and vast numbers more South American refugees and migrants have reportedly been heading up through Mexico to the Arizona border, totry to beat any further extreme measures he might tell his worshipful dumbfucks he’s taking, that he might actually take.

It’s all a crisis of his own making.

Once again rave-tweeting and yelling in all-caps at the “failing” New York Times for pointing out these simple-to-check facts, totally fake nooze, waving a piece of paper he says proves him right, nevertheless Trump appears to have been caught out in his 10 thousand, seven-hundred and somethingth lie since assuming office.

But you can see this time it was for the good of the country. And the “patriotic” farmers he loves*.

*Why does he keep calling them that? Because he has had to invent an alternative reality in which the farmers support his crippling 25% tariffs on Chinese imports, even though retaliatory Chinese measures have essentially destroyed the hugely valuable US soybean and pork trades, that many analysts believe may never recover. Other sources say they don’t, not really.

 

You scratch my back…

“For his dubious role as the ‘godfather’ of Reaganomics, Slate dubbed him World’s Worst Economist. He’s been called a key part of the ‘Intellectual Rot of the Republican Party’. Esquire suggested that Laffer’s turn as the architect of the disastrous Brownback tax experiment in Kansas should hang ‘like a dead possum’ around his neck for the rest of his days.”Guardian

They say he who Laffs last, Laffs loudest, and Mr Arthur “Dead Possum” Laffer is certainly taking the piss out of the rest of us. He’s the author of a famous graph, the Laffer Curve, showing on a restaurant table napkin how, if you take all the money away from the poorest people at the bottom and hand it gratis to the people right at the top, everyone gets richer.

And having written a garbage hagiography about “Trumponomics” (basically, the art of extortion, debt default and bank fraud), he is Laffing all the way to the White House shortly, to receive a medal from the Golden Shower, Mr Very Stable Smarts himself.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the country’s highest civilian honor, awarded in this case to the man who has successfully persuaded the criminal kleptocracy in Congress that they can deny economic freedom to the maximum number of Americans while ordering up their fifth superyacht, from which everybody benefits.

The lunacy of Laffer has been well exposed, both theoretically and empirically, but still the very rich go on using his cretinous theory to justify their egregious acts of State-sanctioned theft. And why wouldn’t they?

But wait, what’s this? Why, step forward Boris “Watermelon Smiles, etc.” Johnson, kitchen-table racist front-runner for the worst job in British politics. With the beaming endorsement of his fellow narcissist, America’s stupidest-ever President, Johnson is bidding for the leadership of the Headless Chicken party against nine lesser dangerous lunatics on a platform of…. £9.6 billion-worth of Laffer-inspired tax cuts for the higher-rate taxpayer, combined with the expensivest of hard Brexits (paid for by a giant, crippling Trumponomic-style sovereign debt default, for which Messrs Standard and Poor’s will surely beat us into the ground).

After nine years of austerity and with the social fabric of Lesser Britain already ripped to shreds and lightly tossed away in a dumpster, or skip as we called them in the days of our independence, let’s see how that goes, shall we?

 

And I’ll scratch yours

Meanwhile, reports of astounding levels of corruption are swirling around Trump enabler and obstructionist Senate leader, “Cocaine” Mitch McConnell, who is married to Trump’s transportation secretary, Elaine Chao.

Ms Chao has apparently been caught failing to obey an Ethics committee ruling that to avoid conflict of interest she should divest her substantial shareholding in a transportation-linked company, one of America’s biggest suppliers of road-building materials. With every mention of infrastructure projects, her shares get ratcheted up a notch.

Bad enough but, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reports, citing extensive press coverage in the past fortnight, Chao has been abusing her cabinet status to promote business links and lucrative contracts between a Chinese state-owned shipping company run by her father and the Commerce department, while discouraging grants and contracts for US competitors; and has created a private back-channel through her office specifically to fast-track grants for infrastructure projects in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky to improve his re-election chances.

It being noted that McConnell oversaw the approvals process in the Senate by which his wife got the cabinet post in the first place. Welcome to Trumpworld.

According to reports, McConnell – who is the major roadblock for any possibility of getting a slam-dunk Trump impeachment from the House through the Senate – has benefitted from $78 million dollars’ worth of private contracts this way.

Odd this should have come out now, what with so much pressure on House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to get impeachment proceedings under way, her bein’ so shy, an’ all. It isn’t working.

 

GW: It never rains but it burns

China: At least 7 people have died after record heavy rain and flooding in southern China over the last few days. In Guangxi, “torrential rain from around 09 June caused flooding that left at least 1 dead and 4 missing. In Xinhua, a total of 514,000 people were affected and 45,000 displaced.” “In Guizhou province, an entire town was submerged under 2m (6ft 6in) of water”. There’s been infrastructure damage and thousands of Ha of crops ruined. (BBC News) “National Meteorological Center said that some areas recorded as much as 93mm (4-in.) of rain per hour and between 250 and 300mm in 24 hours on 09 June, 2019.” Continued heavy rain for southern areas is forecast. (from: Floodlist)

Afghanistan: “At least 3 people died and dozens of houses were destroyed after flash floods in Badakhshan province, 08 June. Wide areas of crops and farmland were also damaged. Over 100 people have died and thousands of homes destroyed in a spate of flood events in the country that began in March this year. In neighboring Tajikistan, 2 people died in a mudslide after heavy rain, 04 to 07 June. Homes were damaged or destroyed and about 80 people rescued. (from: Floodlist)

India: The death toll from the “unbearable” heatwave that’s persisting over northern India, said to be the worst ever, had risen by 02 June to more than 500*, as temperatures in places (and into Pakistan) have several times exceeded 50C, 123F. 4 people were reported to have died from heatstroke on a train journey in Kerala. Authorities were having to waste scarce water pouring it on roads to stop them melting. Ironically, only next month’s monsoon is expected to bring relief – and with record rainfall around the world, it’s only going to create a different kind of problem. (BBC News/NDTV)

*I don’t know where this figure came from, later reports say less than 40.

Update: the “rare” monsoon now arriving in the NW Indian state of Kerala is organizing in the Arabian sea as a fullblown cyclone, named Vayu. With 130km winds strengthening, and bearing up to 10-in. of rain, it’s due to make landfall 13 June as a Cat 3 in Gujarat state, north of Mumbai, heading on up across the border towards the populous city of Karachi in Pakistan by the weekend. A track the Wunderground people are calling “uncommon”.

These uncommon hurricane tracks are becoming quite common, in your old Gran’s opinion. The last Cat 3 to hit Gujarat in 1998 killed over a thousand people. (BBC/The Weather Channel)

Indonesia: Thousands of people have been affected by flooding in Sulawesi. The death of a baby was reported. Bridges, roads, health facilities, crops and fisheries have all been damaged.

Haiti: At least 3 people have died and an unknown number are dead or missing after flooding affected several provinces. “Roads, bridges and over 500 homes have been flooded or damaged and as many as 17 homes have been destroyed.” (from: Floodlist)

Maldive Islands: “Local media are reporting that heavy rain has caused flooding in the northern islands of the country over the last few days. The country has seen a spate of severe weather over the 10 days (to 10 June), and the latest flooding brings the total number of houses damaged to almost 600 since late May.” (from: Floodlist)

USA: At least 4 people have died after storms and heavy rainfall swept across southern and south eastern states in the USA from 05 June. Boone, North Carolina, recorded 13.57 inches (344.68 mm) of rain in 72 hours to 09 June, 2019. Other areas in the southeast also recorded high rainfall totals. NWS Atlanta said parts of Peachtree City recorded 7.81 inches of rain from 07 to 09 June. There was flooding too in New Orleans, after up to 8-in of rain fell in 72 hours. 1 person was killed when a helicopter crashed in heavy rain on the roof of a skyscraper in New York.

Meanwhile westerly states are expecting record temperatures. “Phoenix is likely to see its first 110-plus-degree temperatures of the year by Tuesday or Wednesday. Highs in mid-90s are forecast as far north as Portland, Oregon. Daily record highs could be threatened in a few locations through midweek. This includes Portland and Phoenix on Wednesday; the current daily records for June 12 are 93 degrees and 112 degrees, respectively. San Francisco tied its daily record high of 91 degrees on Sunday afternoon” – before hitting 96F on Monday. (The Weather Channel) (112F is 44C)

KTAR news reports, the Woodbury Fire in remote hills east of Phoenix jumped to 6,000 acres 12 June, and had more than doubled to 13,000 by the 13th, as 112 deg. temperatures and strong winds contributed to the spread. 600 firefighters are on the scene but the fire remains 0% contained.

Canada: More than a dozen fires still burning, 6 out of control, in Alberta province after more than a month are turning skies red over South Carolina USA, two thousand miles to the southeast, while their smoke has been detected by the UK Met Office. More than 10 thousand people are still unable to return to their homes. No new fires have broken out today, 11 June, but almost 700 thousand Ha of forest have been burned.

Reports of equivalent wildfires in southern Siberia have dried up somewhat, but the BogPo belatedly records a report from Greenpeace Russia that “catastrophic” fires at the end of April/early May destroyed homes, crops, forest and wildlife, causing many burn injuries, over a vast area. Siberian Times reported, forest roads around Irkutsk were closed, as residents reported increased asthma attacks and skies turning black. Smoke was detected as far away as Washington DC. The fires spread unchecked also across thousands of Ha of prairie in neighboring Mongolia.

Turkey: 5 people are reported to have died in flash flooding in the capital, Ankara, on 09 June. Emergency services attended over 370 calls for aid. The mayor says the city received 5 times the amount of rain predicted. (Floodlist) The provincial Governor’s offices were flooded out. It’s the 5th time Ankara has experienced severe flooding in the past 13 months. (Bianet)

Yemen: “Strong winds, heavy rain and flash floods have hit several parts from 08 June, causing major damage and at least 3 deaths. Aden saw 77mm of rain, most falling in a 3 hour period. Houses and roads were submerged. Satellite images showed rainfall rates of up to 35mm per hour in southern and western areas of the country. Further severe weather warnings have been issued as Typhoon Vayu intensifies in the Arabian Gulf, with outer rainbands stretching hundreds of miles around. (from Floodlist)

UK: Hours of steady downpours have brought much of the rail network to a halt in parts of the south of England, and many suburban roads around London are under water. The M25 London beltway has been closed as two sinkholes have opened up. The Met Office says the region has seen a month’s worth of summer rain in 24 hours, with another month’s worth to come over the next 3 days. Yellow warnings are out as the system is slowly moving northwards. (BBC Weather)

Floodlist reports similarly intense rainfall across Europe causing flash floods in Italy, Germany, Greece and Poland. Severe hailstorms have also been reported in Germany, Italy, Poland, Croatia and Slovenia, and landslides in northern Italy.

Approaching tunnel….

Mount Bolshy: Russian geophysicist Ivan Koulakov is warning that the 9,500 ft Mt Bolshaya Udine, a volcano in the Udine chain on the Kamchatka peninsula declared extinct in 2017, may not be. A M4.3 earthquake suggests it might be waking up, with possibly catastrophic consequences.

Road resurfacing? Some seismic activity seems possibly occurring in the downtown Los Angeles area as liquid tar has begun bubbling up across from the La Brea tar pits along the Miracle Mile, accompanied by much outgassing of methane. The Blessed Mary Grealey records that the media doesn’t seem very interested. CBS reports, residents say it’s not unusual, but it’s never been this bad before. Cooler weather is forecast from tomorrow, 11 June.

(Rainy Sunday afternoon TV viewers might recall a 1997 movie called Volcano!, starring Tommy Lee Jones, in which an eruption trashes Los Angeles {but he heroically stops the lava with a line of overturned buses… as if!})

Vicious cycle: “Carbon emissions from the global energy industry last year rose at the fastest rate in almost a decade after extreme weather and surprise swings in global temperatures stoked extra demand for fossil fuels. BP’s annual global energy report revealed for the first time that temperature fluctuations are increasing the world’s use of fossil fuels, in spite of efforts to tackle the climate crisis. … BP (plans) to drill new oil wells which could hold up to 30m barrels of oil.” (Guardian)

Your Granny assumes that’s a Grauniad error and they mean 30bn, as 30m barrels is only 8 hours’ worth, globally speaking. We’re basically fucked.

 

Essay: Us vs. Them: a draw?

Would some helpful statistician kindly reflect and possibly comment on the extraordinary and growing phenomenon of political polarization?

The more choice of parties there appears to be, the more freedom to vote for whatever you like, the more atomized politics has become in a world of mass personalization and “identitarianism”, the closer the results seem to get, between the same old left-right-split parties. It’s like we’re afraid to reach out, except to ever-more authoritarian, religio-racist groups on the right and anachronistic class-warfare dinosaurs on the left.

But you don’t have to be a weeping libtard snowflake Blairite centrist! Why would you not vote for the Green Party agenda, for instance? For a better life? Another way of doing business? From Schumacher to Herman Daly, Greenomics has a perfectly sound intellectual base.

The narrowness of electoral margins seems to be becoming endemic. Brexit (52%-48%) and Trump (50.5%-49.5% in favor of Clinton) being famous cases in point, there have been many others. The 2017 Austrian election, for instance, was too close to call and had to be rerun. The British election in the same year resulted in a hung Parliament; as had the 2010 election, with only a wafer-thin Conservative majority in 2015. The Australian election was daylight cobbery and resulted in a tiny squeaking upset for the favored Labour opposition party.

Many uneasy coalitions have had to be formed in other countries, too, in order to keep the wheels in motion.

Yesterday’s Israeli Parliamentary election resulted in a dead-heat at 37 Knesset seats apiece between the two main parties, victory being claimed for a fifth term by the deeply unpleasant and authoritarian religio-racist, Netanyahu only because his party panders unashamedly and often illegally to the demands of more of the smaller and loonier rightwing religious parties than his opponent’s could.

Is it a function of more proportional voting systems? Not in first-past-the-post Britain. Should we blame the media for encouraging a more adversarial climate in the name of entertainment, are politicians more inclined to use ‘divide and rule’ as a tactic, or is there some meta-statistical reason, perhaps connected with rising population numbers or changing class expectations, for these inconclusive outcomes?

It occurs to me on re-reading this that humans themselves may have become polarized – or, in a sense, paralysed. I’m currently – I confess – becoming quietly resigned on the subject of Brexit, that I have been frothing against since long before the referendum, when I could see perfectly clearly that it was a rightwing neocon coup attempt, nothing much to do with Europe, sponsored by disruptors in the USA and Russia, and nobody else seemed to have realised.

Now, I simply can’t decide, or any longer bring myself to care, about what ought to happen next. Whatever it is, we deserve it. I’ve bought my toilet paper, my canned sardines and a month’s supply of Pot Noodle, I’m set for a siege.

I literally “switch off” – my radio, when yet another Leave politician is trotted out, frothing and swivel-eyed, to repeat the same old bullshit mantras to the same old interviewers asking the same old questions, week after week, sucking all the air from the news agenda – and none of them with a single interesting or helpful idea to offer, as the planet fries.

If asked to vote, frankly I’d have to toss a coin – statistically resulting in a 49.5% to 50.5% split, obviously, if enough people were to do the same.

Psychologists always trot out the ‘Fight or Flight’ cliche when describing the survival strategies available to sentient organisms facing existential threats. They regularly ignore the third ‘F’, “Freeze”.

Politics is everywhere frozen. As are we all.