A very uncivil war… The Diversion bell… Uphill, down Dale… Down with the count… GW: it’s all going swimmingly. Plus: Essay, The march of the anti-Vaxxers: an open letter to a Representative from Maine.

 

 

QotW

“The drab truth of tyranny is a life spent in waiting. But the perennial romance of tyranny comes from its promising its subjects a life more interesting than any they can contrive for themselves.”

– John Gray.

 

Boris Johnson addressing parliament

“By the sacred finger of IDS, I flick my superior bogeys at you, women of humbug.”

A very uncivil war

“Even after you cut off the head, the chicken still runs around the yard.”

Trump mini-me, Johnson raced back from the UN on Tuesday (24 Sept.) to confront Parliament, recalled by the Speaker after the Supreme Court ruling that the unelected Prime Minister with a magnificent Commons majority of minus 44 MPs had lied to the Queen to get her to shut down Parliament for five weeks while he pretended to negotiate a new exit deal with the EU; although their deadline for him to present new terms, including a replacement for the Irish border “backstop”, had expired days earlier with no positive proposals from Whitehall.

It was some confrontation, and it’s still ongoing.

Against a background of scandal – the house is investigating £120,000 in public-money grants and foreign official trips he appears to have given to a busty blonde American ex-model turned smalltime internet entrepreneur, Ms Jennifer Arcuri, whose London flat he was seen leaving a number of times while he was Mayor – Johnson caused a furore when he said the Supreme Court was “wrong” on the points of law, seeming to back rightwing newspaper (and Farageist) slurs of “treason” and anti-Brexit bias against the 11 senior law lords and ladies on the bench. A familiar story.

The BogPo should have thought the judges would be well within their powers to summon Johnson to court to explain his disgraceful remarks, and possibly put him in gaol for a couple of weeks to expiate his contempt.

He then drew gasps from the assembled MPs when he appeared to traduce the late, passionately pro-Remain Labour MP, Jo Cox, who was shot and hacked to death by a white nationalist in 2016, saying the best way to honor her memory was to leave the EU.

He told women Labour MPs they were talking “humbug” when they said they were receiving regular rape and death threats as a result of his and other Brexiteers’ violent rhetoric, a verbal assault which drew cheers from the wife-beating Brexit faction on the benches behind.

Not long afterwards a 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of throwing a brick at the window of the constituency office of Labour MP, Jess Phillips.

Johnson described opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn as a “coward” and a “chicken” (normally more than enough to get an MP barred from the chamber) and despite objections, continually called a vote he lost by a wide margin two weeks ago on a bill making it illegal to leave the EU without a deal, the “surrender” bill, setting the goal of a no-deal Brexit in terms of a war against the 27 remaining member countries of the EU.

(He frequently makes allusions to how Britain “stood alone” and eventually “won” the Second World War, “saving Europe” – whose people should be more grateful – knowing perfectly well that that is a mindless piece of historical revisionism that plays well with the elderly dumbfucks of Farage’s extreme pro-Leave community, who would love us to do it all over again with Boris playing Winston, because they only just missed out the last time and it sounds fun. Except it wasn’t.)

Meanwhile, officials have been frantically assuring us that Mayor Johnson never gave any grants to Ms Arcuri, although the office of the Mayor does appear to have donated £15 thousand directly to her little business. Perhaps his best defence would be to admit that he’s been a bit of a chump? Everyone forgives Boris, he’s so disarming. Like a little boy, really.

Despite, or perhaps because of, his wrecking-ball, cynical, abusive, adulterous, tyrannical, atrociously rude behavior, and a verdict delivered from the highest court in the land that he is a lawbreaker and a Royal liar; a verdict to which he has responded with open contempt and threats to ignore it, triggering a constitutional meltdown, Johnson still has a healthy percentage lead among the dumbfucks in the opinion polls.

We await his imminent arrest, trial and conviction with bated breath.

As with US President Trump, what to do with his millions of frothing, deluded supporters, who cannot tell the difference between the world they see on TV or on their little screens and reality; who are bored and fractious and poorly educated; easily distracted by bogus patriotic nostrums, and who don’t care what criminal capers the leader gets up to as long as he’s entertaining them and hates foreigners enough, is another question.

Even after you cut off the head, the chicken still runs around the yard.

Postscriptum

Oh, and two minutes later I see he’s just lost another vote and won’t be allowed to suspend business again during the Tory party conference next week. He might be delighted by that, as it moves us a step closer to the election the opposition won’t grant him. Given that he can’t govern, and the opposition refuses to move a vote of no-confidence so as to keep him twisting in the wind, he surely has to resign and trigger an election he knows he can’t lose.

Can you believe a word he says? corner….

“The firm’s collapse came after Johnson told parliament his government would do everything it could to help Wrightbus. However, a government source strenuously denied any such assurances had been given.” (Observer)

Following the collapse of Rightbus with the loss of more than a thousand jobs that Northern Ireland can scarcely afford to lose, it emerges that one of the Wright family directors had been donating £millions of company money to his evangelical church.

Boris Johnson speaking in parliament.

“Gentlemen, I give you a finger. It is a finger in search of a well-filled nostril…”

The Diversion bell

“Alpha-males are rarely the answer!”

(This article was constructed yesterday, before the latest revelations concerning Ms Arcuri’s companies, all of which appear to owe large sums of money or have been wound up. Ms Arcuri herself is being chased for $100 thousand in unpaid student loans, yet she appears to have “lent” $1m to her company in recent accounts. I don’t think that takes much away from the sentence that follows.)

Has Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Alexander “Boris” dePfeffel, dePfaffle Johnson been the victim of a classic honeytrap scam?

He is currently being referred to the Police watchdog over a possible “conflict of interest” situation that may have arisen when he was Mayor of London. Following revelations in Murdoch’s Sunday Times, the Guardian reports:

“Johnson has been formally referred for potential investigation into whether he committed the criminal offence of misconduct in public office, over allegations about a conflict of interest with a US businesswoman while he was mayor of London.”

The phrasing makes the affair sound quite innocuous, commonplace almost. Conflicts of interest between public officials and businesspeople arise all the time. They may be serious, they may be incidental. The Mayor’s office probably has bigger things to do, like buying buses, than deal with minor grant applications for business start-ups.

The egregious nature of the case as reported however arises, in the view of the BogPo, from the many understated circumstantial details to be found between the lines.

The “businesswoman” in question was reportedly an MBA student who had started up a rather vague-sounding internet service, Innotech, that spawned other obscure company registrations. I’m not sure I understand what it really did, I’m sure Mr Johnson probably didn’t, but it was to do with putting one lot of people in touch with another lot.

Not the most original of business plans, seemingly. I ought perhaps to confess that I got a little carried away myself when submitting an internet-based project to my tutors while on an IT course a few years ago, and ended up having to explain widely that no, it wasn’t a real business….

The MBA student has been described as a “former model”, and the former model was, or rather is, what those terrible sexists in the popular press might describe as “busty, blonde, 23-year-old Jennifer Arcuri”. (I am guessing her age at the time.)

Other details leap out at you. In order to qualify for a £100,000 government cybertech development grant, half of which has now been witheld pending enquiries, Ms Arcuri, an American, needed to have a Tier One British residency visa, which she didn’t. They’re rather expensive and hard to get. Except that some time after meeting Johnson at a techfest, she did. Any connection has been strenuously denied.

Her subsidiary company, provocatively named Hacker House, also needed to be registered in Britain, which it was, only there’s no sign of it. It was registered to her rented flat, which she vacated last year. She’s no longer in the country. Mayor Johnson is said to have been a “regular visitor” to the flat in East London, for what purpose he declines to say.

Another qualification, the business needed to employ British staff and to train British apprentices. Ms Arcuri was listed as an employee, also her American “husband”, there were three other names but thus far none seemingly has checked out.

Journalists on The Guardian telephoned the number registered at Companies House and were put through to a number in Florida (the Guardian is now referring to yet another number in California) , where a “receptionist” – not improbably Ms Arcuri herself, or her mom – was unable to confirm an address.

Madame Arcuri seems to have been adept at making contacts on a higher plane. It was when yesterday’s Guardian update on the story mentioned the name of UK “business ambassador”, Prince Andrew, with whom she had apparently embarked on some other sort of business liaison, that the fire bell in your Uncle Bogler’s conspiracy-minded old brain began clanging insistently.

Has anybody checked to see if this lady has any prior connection, spiritual or otherwise, with the “late financier”, Jeffrey Epstein?

To enlarge upon the notion of conspiracy, I would mention Mr Trump’s known habit of collecting “dirt” to use against his political and business rivals, or on people of potential advantage; and speculate on what may eventually come out, that his former cohort Epstein, pimp and abuser of vulnerable young girls, was blackmailing his wealthy and influential clients.

As Gilbert and Sullivan wrote – “I’ve got a little list”.

The Russians call it “kompromat” – compromising material, in the form of video, photographs or letters. Was Epstein feeding Trump helpful “kompromat” on his clients?

But I’m positive there are no such connections.

I feel sure however that MI5 will be looking closely at the case, as the security implications are fairly alarming. There is a possibility, is there gnotte, that our Prime Minister, a man about whom it has been said that he finds some difficulty keeping it in his pants, may have been the victim of a classic honeytrap scam – Florida being basically known for three things: retirement homes, alligators and swampy goings-on.

Where oranges, someone wrote, are not the only fruit.

In which case there must be some concern about the possibility of the existence of kompromat, collected on the prominent Mayor of London, a useful idiot, on a just-in-case basis. But now he is Prime Minister, the keeper of the nation’s secrets, the man with his pudgy forefinger on the nuclear button.

The hope will be that we are still friends with the CIA and that any such material can be swiftly recovered.

Oh, Tory party! You keep doing this! From Profumo, through Lord Lambton, Cecil Parkinson and David Mellor, your sense of entitled inviolability so frequently lets you down. If the stench of sleaze, the “faint aroma of performing seals” is rising once again in the land, you have only yourselves to blame.

Alpha-males are rarely the answer!

Postscriptum:

Responding to the allegations using Trump’s favorite flavor of smokescreen, “it’s all a plot against me!”, a Government source said: “The public and media will rightly see through such a nakedly political put-up job.”

Clearly, in Conference season Downing Street is not without a seaside postcard sense of humor.

Ed Note: a number of the details in this piece have since changed or been clarified. I’m too tired to rewrite it, but essentially Ms Arcuri’s lawyer has auctioned the rights to the Daily Mirror, who interviewed her in a car park in Fresno or somewhere, and she says Johnson never had sex with her, she only gave him technology lessons, and there’s no kompromat. Hope that clears everything up.

Thunberg and Trudeau meet in Montreal on Friday.

“Sorry, Mr Trudeau, I didn’t recognize you without your make-up on…”

Uphill, down Dale

The shambling albino bear-man, Johnson has, as reported, casually dismissed fears of violent retribution against female MPs supporting either revocation of Article 50, or a “soft Brexit” – i.e. one that keeps Northern Ireland in the European Customs Union for another two years while a solution is found to the Irish border question.

I count 10 DUP “angels” dancing on the head of that particular pin.

Mr Johnson’s aggressive language, his constant use of inflammatory imagery from the Second World War, his blatant xenophobia, misogyny and phoney patriotic cliches are widely criticized as being – less strong-willed, than ill-bred. They are all transparently a ruse to de-fang the Farage “Brexit Party” (which isn’t a party, it’s his private company), but he says he regards any suggestion that it might have an actual effect on his deluded dumbfuck supporters as “humbug”.

Oh, really? So there’s no connection at all between the Prime Minister’s bellicose rhetoric, the screaming, hate-filled headlines in the populist press, the breakdown of democratic institutions and the rule of law under assault from the alt-right, and real life?

“Jolyon Maugham QC has revealed that his local police and crime commissioner was sufficiently concerned by recent threats against his life that he was advised to buy a stab vest” … and hire a bodyguard when attending public events. (Guardian)

Other, seemingly quite serious security precautions are being taken by the police to protect the human rights lawyer and his family, who is one of three litigants prosecuting the case in Scotland – the first leg of which they won, thus triggering the Supreme Court review – against Johnson’s illegal prorogation of Parliament. He has even spoken of having to leave the country if he wins the next stage of the case.

There are clearly some very real, scary people out there, who the police think may be capable of taking things beyond mere threats and bluster. Beyond, even, the increasingly dreary and repetitive arguments of the Brexit debate. The question surely is, who is behind them?

At this point I need to make an apology. Referred to in the story is another of the litigants, Mr Dale Vince, “millionaire CEO” of a green energy supply company called Ecotricity. Mr Vince is a leading Remainer, I understand, who is reportedly funding a team to monitor threats against Mr Maugham on the internet.

Many years ago, wouahouhouwaah, eerie flashback music….

In 1992 Dale Vince was a small-scale entrepreneur and lobbyist, pushing hard to erect a prominent windfarm in poshest Gloucestershire, where I had my PR agency. It was a project from which he might have profited. The local media and public were ranged against him.

We were a new startup, with only £5 thousand liquid capital, specializing in supporting small green enterprises, environmental groups and NGOs, working to help them professionalize their communications, which were (and are still) generally woeful. Small as we were, we had years of individual experience between us in bigger media companies.

As someone who had been following the ecology movement since the mid-’70s, I’d devised an ethical charter on which we operated under conditions of full accounting transparency, in order to shake off the general impression among those client groups that the advertising industry was just a bunch of overpaid liars, sharks and charlatans.

Which it pretty much was, as I knew after seven years working in it. Except for the overpaid bit.

And, impressively as I thought, we also shared our office space (at my invitation) with the country’s leading environmental campaigner, Jonathon Porritt, and his little team of helpers.

Asked to pitch for writing and designing a leaflet for his renewable energy campaign, I quoted Vince a derisory amount – £150 – just as a token fee, for what would have been a full day’s work for two creative people and more hours for our print-buyer. Beyond that first small brief, I was eager to propose a longer-term working relationship.

After we had driven 15 miles to his office and spent an hour discussing his needs, all on my and my MD’s time, he sneeringly dismissed us as being, basically, rapacious capitalist lackeys, and rejected the offer as being too absurdly expensive.

I have said bad things about him at any opportunity ever since, as I regarded him as being a hypocrite, a bully, a timewaster and an all-round slimeball. Worse, now he’s also a millionaire.

So no, sorry, Dale. I haven’t changed my opinion, but I’ll keep quiet about it from now on, okay?

Take one for the team.

Take 2…

A second apology is due to Mr Arron Banks, the self-promoted millionaire, frequent visitor to the Russian embassy in London, possibly Britain’s Ugliest Man, and the money behind Nigel Farage, his £1.2 million house and the unofficial Leave.EU party.

We were obviously wrong about him and would like to be sorry.

The National Crime Agency, I think it is, has declared there is “insufficient evidence” of criminality, apart from the extensive evidence with which they were presented, obviously, to warrant further investigation into his sources of funding.

As Mr Trump, he kno’, “insufficient evidence” to prosecute a successful case is not the same as total exoneration. Saying won’t make it so, so this apology is, at this stage, a little tentative. But hey, in the interests of national unity, etc.

In a previous statement, the forces of law and order had admitted, their investigation of Mr Banks, who has extensive obscure offshore holdings and apparently unproductive mining interests in South Africa, in addition to his loss-making Gibraltar-based insurance businesses, and frequent dealings with Russians (he has a Russian wife) yet who somehow funnelled £7 million to Leave.EU out of feelings of pure patriotism towards Britain, had been delayed for over nine months, since it was “too political” to start work.

Your Uncle Bogler therefore trusts there will be no ill-feeling, in the light of previous Posts, which were based on exhaustive private investigations by the indefatigable journalists at Open Democracy dot Org, and Ms Carole Cadwaladr of The Guardian group.

Although I still feel ill, to be honest.

 

The Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard receives a threat from Command to hive the oldest members off to the Civil Defence corps:

Captain Mainwaring: “I have to tell you, Wilson, that I too have taken steps to look more virile…”

Sergeant Wilson: “Oh my God, it’s not monkey glands, is it?”

– Dad’s Army.

 

Down for the count

I’ve just this minute had through the post, as I imagine have millions of other householders, an official government form that I’m being requested to complete and return.

Extending to 32 pages of densely packed questions about myself, where and in what condition I live, it purports to be, not exactly a census, but a “census rehearsal”.

The next official census, taken every ten years, is not due until September 2021.

But this form is the census! It’s the actual script! The same questions! There is no difference! And we are not, so far as I know, legally obliged under the 1801 Censuses Act, whatever, I shall have to Google it all shortly, to complete the national census, wasting hours of our time, in 2019.

The government is currently in a state of dangerous disarray and showing all the signs of administrative incompetence and bitterly divisive rancour one would anticipate shortly leading to total socio-economic breakdown. Incipient public disorder portends the imposition of what, for want of another term, one can only describe as a quasi-fascist regime under Mr Farage; one of über-nationalistic authoritarianism and suppression of liberal dissent.

This new, as-yet unborn government will, should we complete the form, be in full possession of a vast amount of my personal data with which to oppress me at its leisure.

As it does not seem to carry any legal penalty, I do not need to rehearse carrying out my solemn and onerous duty to provide the enemy State with intrusive details of my life, thank you. I’m quite prepared for when the actual performance comes.

I think I should write to them and say so.

 

GW: it’s all going swimmingly

India: At least 12 people have been killed and several are missing after heavy rain and flash floods in the district of Pune in Maharashtra state, on 25 Sept. 5 people died when a wall collapsed. Around 150 homes were also damaged. 5 other victims died when buildings were washed away by flood waters in Shivapur. Schools and colleges in Pune district have been closed. Of major concern are low-lying areas following a controlled release of water from the Nazare dam on the Karha river. 15 thousand people have been evacuated as a precaution. (Floodlist)

USA: “Parts of the Northwest and southern Canada are bracing (27 Sept.) for a potentially ‘historic’ storm that will unleash heavy snow, fierce winds and record cold — meteorologists say the timing of this storm will add to the dangers” (people aren’t prepared for winter yet). “Hazardous travel conditions and power outages will result as blizzard conditions will unfold in some areas”, with up to 3 feet of snow a possibility. “As the storm evolves, temperatures may plummet 50 deg. F. (25C) or more in some locations.” (Accuweather)

Meanwhile: “Millions of Americans across the Southeast will face record-challenging temperatures into early October as an area of high pressure remains anchored over the region” (Accuweather). Atlanta last week hit a high of 95F, 35C – 18F above average and breaking a 1950 record. “Augusta and Savannah, Georgia, both topped 97F while Columbia, South Carolina, had the high for the day at 99F, topping the previous record set in 1984.”

Record rainfall and flooding plagued Nevada and the Southwest all week, while Wisconsiners recorded a 150mph, EF-3 tornado. Three injuries were reported.

Caribbean: Tropical Storm Karen refuses to lie down. After dumping heavy rain over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, it’s expected to hook a left and head for the east coast USA, or perhaps Cuba first, maybe as a low-end hurricane depending on wind shear which, if strong enough, could finally rip it to pieces.

“Hurricane Lorenzo, currently spinning over the central Atlantic, first became a hurricane on Wednesday, but by Thursday afternoon, it had rapidly intensified into a major Cat 4. On Thursday evening, Lorenzo was packing maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, but meteorologists believe it could continue to strengthen and eventually become a Cat 5 storm with winds exceeding 157 mph. If Lorenzo achieves Cat 5 status, it would be the farthest east that a Cat 5 hurricane has ever been observed in the Atlantic Ocean.” (AccuWeather) “After passing the Azores, Lorenzo will then track toward Europe as a weakening TS and could impact areas like the British Isles.”

Tunnel approaching….

UN: “Earth is in dire straits, and rising sea levels will cause ‘sweeping and severe’ consequences for humans, an expert United Nations climate panel (has) warned. … sea levels are rising at an ever-faster rate as ice and snow shrink. Oceans are getting more acidic and losing oxygen (up to 3% now…).

“The agency warned that if steps aren’t taken to reduce emissions and slow global warming, seas will rise 3 feet by the end of the century, with many fewer fish, less snow and ice, stronger and wetter hurricanes and other, nastier weather systems.” (Reporting: The Weather Channel)

Scientists on the panel were at pains to point out that UN IPCC panellists are directed to be conservative and things are probably twice as bad as they say.

What the media is not mentioning while it is fixated on the avoidable consequences of sea-level rise is the part of the report where, according to the team at Arctic News: “there is 1,460 to 1,600 Gt of carbon present in the” (permafrost – plus a possible 2,200 Gt more on and under the seabed, just in the shallow East Siberian shelf alone) … The IPCC report projects permafrost (top 3–4 m) to decrease in area by up to 89% by 2100 under a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5), leading to cumulative release of tens to hundreds of billions of tons of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere by 2100.” … “The report fails to warn that, as the Arctic Ocean keeps heating up, huge seafloor methane eruptions could (also) be triggered (Shakhova, et al.).”

In other words, cackles yer Old Gran, as this is based on a current linear warming trajectory that is already being disrupted by nonlinear feedbacks – it’s curtains.

Plague: Deaths are being reported in the USA from mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which has a more-than 30% mortality rate. There’ve been a dozen cases in Massachusetts, while “in hard-hit Michigan, they’re warning people in high-risk areas not to go outside after dusk and before dawn.” (Accuweather) Officials are praying for a cold winter.

Terra trema: There’ve been some fairly severe earthquakes in the past few days. At least 25 people were killed by a M5.8 in northern Pakistan; 100 injured in Albania’s worst quake for 30 years, also at M5.8, and worried people took to the streets in Istanbul after a third M5.8 rocked northern Turkey, damaging buildings. A M6.0 hit off the coast of Puerto Rico at the height of Tropical Storm Karen, followed by a M4.9 that damaged buildings on land and more aftershocks. There was also a M6.0 off the coast of New Zealand.

Your money: “Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing (has) said central banks like the European Central Bank and US Federal Reserve ‘have used their tools to a large extent already’ to avoid global economic risks. He said they have ‘no conventional measures left to effectively cushion’ the hit of a ‘real economic crisis’.” (Express) He was speaking as the latest German numbers showed the European powerhouse led by the car industry sliding into recession. (NB – The Express is a virulent anti-EU fascist snotrag, however this does look genuinely a bit bad.)

Former Bank of England monetary policy committee member, David Blanchflower is accusing the Bank of “fiddling while Rome burns”, and says the UK economy is probably already in recession as the figures have a long lag time, while all the indicators are looking very much like 2008.

Heat the rich: 1% of English residents are responsible for 19% of all UK flights abroad. The 10% most frequent flyers took 52% of international flights in 2018. The aviation sector accounted for about 7% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. (Guardian)

Hope springs: “People who have an upbeat outlook on life have a lower risk of cardiovascular conditions and premature death”, says a new report (Guardian Science)

x

Long essay:

The march of the anti-Vaxxers: an open letter to a Representative from Maine

Rep. Heidi Sampson

House of Representatives

Washington DC

Dear Ms Sampson

I saw you interviewed tonight on a BBC documentary about the anti-Vaxxer movement in your country.

I have rarely heard such a malicious and tendentious tirade before. Well, I probably have, as I follow American politics, and I’ve also watched Adolf Hitler’s speeches. But you know what I mean. You disgracefully constructed a doctrinaire, ultra-conservative political platform from an avoidable threat to your nation’s children.

You are, of course, entitled to your uninformed medical superstitions.

Sixty million of you, after all, were easily persuaded in 2016 to vote-in as President, a superannuated playboy and ex-TV reality show host with no political, economic or diplomatic experience: a malign and vindictive solipsist – an uneducated, emotionally retarded, bullying sociopath with a history of serial bankruptcies, bank defaults, business failures, compulsive lying, gross sexual misconduct, grift, blackmail, tax fraud, money laundering and dealings with organized criminals at home and abroad.

All of that was known or strongly suspected beforehand, even to us in Europe. Your own intelligence community warned you against this fateful step, yet you still supported him. Now he stands accused of treason against your country and covering up crimes – yet your party still supports him.

Why then would I imagine you could possibly, on any day of the week, not regurgitate a ludicrous conspiracy theory promoted by someone like Alex Jones of InfoWars; like you, a leading medical specialist in epidemiology, and also someone clearly in want of secure psychiatric care, about vaccines?

It’s a truly bizarre phenomenon, human nature.

Ten thousand competent, practising medical doctors with years of training and experience will tell you one thing. One discredited, disbarred and thoroughly dishonest British practitioner, a known charlatan promoting a bogus scientific theory for financial gain on a worldwide publicity tour, a desperate individual whose reputation is thoroughly sullied, career self-destroyed, hopelessly pursuing a dangerous fallacy that has been thoroughly investigated and statistically disproven, will appear on a notorious conspiracy-theorist’s website to tell you another.

Who do you choose to believe? Don’t tell me! It’s such a romantic story, that poor Dr Wakefield. So wickedly, unfairly persecuted by evil scientists!

But they contain aluminum! No, Heidi, vaccines contain a harmless salt, aluminum hydroxide. Not the metallic aluminum, many millions of atoms of which you consume daily from your own cookware. And formaldehyde! They embalm corpses! You, Heidi, manufacture formaldehyde naturally in your own gut, from the digestive process. It comes and goes. In vaccines, it’s a necessary preservative.

My God, Heidi, do you ever look at the lists of ingredients on the packs of food in your supermarket? What you’re eating is lingering death, to put it kindly – dozens of known carcinogens like nitrates (preservative); aspartame; butane; propyl gallate. Tests show your fresh food is rich in chlorpyrifos, a commonly used agricultural pesticide your government has just re-licensed, after the President received a million dollar donation from the makers, Dow. A chemical banned everywhere else and proven to damage the brains of unborn children.

But you still force yourselves to eat it. Pro-Life? Anti-vaccine? Please, Heidi, do try.

It’s frankly astonishing; although to me, it’s equally astonishing that so many Americans believe Jesus is going to rapture them up to Heaven at any moment, or that a clump of insentient and possibly malformed cells is a human being, worthy of more respect than a born child who might die without vaccination. Are you all on some wonder drug I haven’t heard of? I’m not sure Fentanyl quite does it.

Surely, your cult of rugged individualism must clash with the obvious need for more altruistic communal responsibility? As vaccine uptakes fall, it’s other people’s kids that are going to bear the brunt of your individual selfishness. And where do you stand on lead pollution in drinking water?

I’m 70 years of age, Ms Sampson. During my childhood years I so enjoyed being made sick and missing school for weeks by the common viruses and bacilli of Measles, German Measles, Pertussis, Chickenpox and Mumps, all of which I survived. The one thing I didn’t get was Polio, which was endemic when I was very young.

That was because your brilliant Dr Jonas Salk invented a timely vaccine, which I was given, and I didn’t get Polio. Tens of thousands of children did, and a few still do. It’s a vicious, disabling disease: you die when the muscles you use to breathe go into paralysis. You suffocate, slowly. But not in my country, not yet, although thanks to your anti-Vaxxers it’s sure to return here one day.

I hope your kids didn’t get Polio, Ms Sampson. I guess to you that would have been God’s will. Your greatest president of the 20th century, and certainly of the 21st so far, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, got polio when young, because there was no vaccine. He could stand only with a back-brace, walk barely  at all, and much effort was expended by the White House staff to make him appear electable in public.

I wonder, Ms Sampson, if he would have been an anti-Vaxxer?

If you have ever visited the Indian subcontinent or Southeast Asia, you may have seen many older people with deeply pockmarked faces, some of them blind and/or deaf. That was caused by an even more deadly virus, Smallpox. Millions died from it every year. The poor things, they wouldn’t have been raptured up to Heaven by Jesus, like your sick babies, because they’re only Muslims and Hindus.

Back in the 19th century – it sounds disgusting – Edward Jenner noticed that dairy workers seemed not to get Smallpox as much as others. He experimented with scraping pus from cows infected with a related common disease in cattle, Cowpox, into the bloodstreams of healthy subjects, then exposed them to Smallpox sufferers. None of them got Smallpox, and an industry was born.

An industry whose motives you deeply suspect, of course, because you’re an expert, but one that has saved millions of lives.

Were I able to transport you back in time to 1918 and the last months of the First World War, there in a camp in Kentucky where men mustered to go fight in the trenches, an avian virus called H1N1 took hold. Sick men could not be spared, so they were sent on packed and insanitary troopships to fight in Europe. Many never got there. Others did. In the subsequent influenza pandemic that swept the world, half a billion got sick, and 90 million people died, struggling for breath until their lungs ruptured and they drowned in their own blood.

Have you been getting your ‘flu jabs, Heidi? Your annual protective inoculations? Have your parents and kids, because, you know, the old and the young are especially vulnerable. Pharma labs work continuously to keep up with the latest viral mutations, because the world isn’t the lovely place you’d like it to be. Evolution – which I doubt you believe in – goes on at the microbial level. We live in a soup of constantly mutating viruses and bacteria. Deadly pathogens emerge. They’re taking it seriously, even if you aren’t.

You asked – shockingly, I thought, mendaciously, but perhaps naively – on camera if the World Health Organization is a trusted source? What do you think, are they any less trustworthy than your own Centers for Disease Control? Why would you assume that? Oh, Heidi, it’s not because they’re not American, is it? They’re only World?

Do you know how backward, how narrow-minded your country is beginning to look, with its lowbrow medievalism, its millions of poor, uneducated, low-income families unable to afford any kind of healthcare, let alone vaccinations, or sanitary housing, and its burgeoning epidemics of long-ago childhood diseases?

Your poor, demented President retreats visibly and audibly from the complexities of a world he doesn’t understand, but in which he foolishly imagines himself omniscient: a classic Dunning-Kruger personality. He drags millions of gullible, childlike people down with him, victims of a cruel and arbitrary system of corporate greed, billionaires and corrupt politicians benefitting from astounding inequality; ordinary folks who will believe in absolutely anything he wildly promises because it seems more exciting than everyday reality. Victims who even believed his false promises on healthcare.

You’re not wrong when you say the pharmaceutical industry has a vested interest in selling its products expensively. Why wouldn’t it? The profit motive seems perfectly in line with the rest of the capitalist system you wholeheartedly endorse. Do you not accept that there is a little hypocrisy there? The prices are a disgrace, no doubt. Diabetics are dying for the price of a shot of insulin.

But the principles on which they operate are no different from those of any other sector of industry. And your President lied: he promised voters to bring those prices down. He gave huge tax breaks to Big Pharma, and instead they pushed their prices up. That’s the capitalist ethic. Do you imagine he cares?

Neurotic Americans are notoriously over-medicalized: laxatives, painkillers, slimming pills, snake-oil – but that is not your proof that vaccination is bad, only that the methods by which it does good might be bad. Your pernicious oil and coal industries also have a vested interest in making the whole world sick, but would I ever hear you castigating them, those fine American globalist corporations that prevent so many of your colleagues in Congress from going hungry?

The World Health Organization has successfully eradicated Smallpox from the world through a determined, multi-decadal program of vaccination. Aren’t you glad your children don’t die from Smallpox? It’s a filthy disease. Rotting pustules bursting all down your digestive tract, in your eyes, your vagina. Happily, thanks to vaccine, nobody gets Smallpox anymore.

Currently, they’re battling an epidemic of the Ebola virus in the dark heart of the Republic of Congo. There’s a vaccine, not yet fully tried but showing promising effectiveness. Nevertheless, over two thousand people have died agonizing deaths, their organs failing as the alien virus replicates inside and bursts out through the cell walls, spewing blood, who might well not have died but for the ignorance and animistic superstitions of the inhabitants, who – just like you Americans – regard Western medicine as a conspiracy and its vaccines taboo.

Aren’t you better than them?

And then there’s the Human Papilloma virus, that men unwittingly carry, and women develop ovarian cancers from, and many die, like my first wife, Trish… There’s a vaccine today, but I don’t really need to go on, do I?

If there was a vaccine against ignorance, superstition and criminal stupidity, Heidi, I’d make it compulsory. On the basis of what I heard you say you don’t deserve to be in office, you have no credentials: you imagine yourself to be a responsible person, a rectitudinarian in the finest traditions of public service, a crusader for individual choice and freedom, but you’re not – you’re a menace!

As a result of your wilful ignorance and doctrinaire conservatism, children are dying. Happy Jesus!

Go home, Heidi. Bake cakes. Watch TV.

You truly, utterly silly woman.

Brexit – a family tragedy… Let’s get away from it all… No it can’t be… I talk to the trees (but no-one listens to me)… GW: Deep breath, everyone.

Quote of the Week

“If we still read philosophy, literature, history, poetry and theology we would not be surprised that greed, hedonism and hubris have easily defeated empathy and reason. But because we do not, because we spend hours each day getting little bursts of dopamine from electronic screens, we think we are unique in human existence. … The only existential question left is how we will choose to wait out the finale.” – Chris Hedges, writing on Truthdig.

And in his bleak article, Hedges quotes the philosopher John Gray: “Whatever they become, tyrannies begin as festivals of the depressed.”

http://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-last-act-of-the-human-comedy/

While for a sobering reminder of how whole populations can be sucked into the maelstrom and drawn to destruction by the actions of a few ambitious men, please watch the 3-part BBC docudrama series The Rise of the Nazis, if you possibly can.

The BogPo’s only hopeful comment is that instead of hubristic militarism, the 21st-century version merely requires that we enslave ourselves as consumers to the corporate ethos until the order collapses in the face of global climate catastrophe.

 

Brexit – a family tragedy

If any more evidence is needed of the divisive, corrosive effects of Brexit, the subversion of democratic process by unelected “dei ex-machina” and the strong echoes, both of the English Civil War and the rise of the Nazis, it must surely be the tragic letter published in today’s Guardian from historian Paddy Docherty to his Tory MP and government whip brother, Leo.

Reminding him that their family were once Communist shipyard workers in Glasgow, he writes:

“How important is your own job when something as priceless as parliamentary democracy is under threat?

“I was once proud and impressed as you entered parliament – that was just two years ago. Now I am simply appalled that this government, of which you are sadly a part, has become the principal threat to the lives and liberties of the people. Please do the decent thing, and resign.”

This is unbearably sad. But it is probably a devastating rift that is being repeated across hundreds of breakfast tables and at fissiparous family celebrations the length and breadth of this divided land.

Your Uncle B. is perhaps fortunate to know no Leavers; at least, none who will openly admit to their private vice. And to have such a very tiny family – at least, those whose identities I actually know. When in working groups, such as my extended jazz family of musicians both amazingly proficient and amateurishly exuberant, there is an unstated vow of omerta.

Personally, having argued forcefully for years – since 2013, in fact, when an intention to hold a referendum was first announced, and The BogPo predicted just this outcome – that leaving the EU is a dangerous idea that plays into the hands of a few very selfish and greedy people, such a blindingly clear fact that a slender majority of the minority who could be bothered to vote seemingly failed (and continue now to stubbornly refuse) to appreciate – I fear I have become numbed to the inevitability of it all. As when your flight is delayed, the only recourse is to surrender to the process.

Thus Brexit can also create its rifts within the individual heart.

And that’s the worst part of it, that I am looking forward more to the arrival at around midday of my new guitar, a (ridiculously cheap Indonesian copy of the expensive instrument I can no longer afford) birthday present to myself; and am busying myself with thoughts of possibly replacing its low-end pickups and strings and tuning pegs and tremolo bridge with sturdier versions, putting lipstick on a pig, as Sarah Palin once said about something or other.

Although I like pigs, we used to breed them in the wholesome air of freedom and sell delicious sausages at market. I’m no stranger to slaughter, when it comes to the sticking point.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/03/open-letter-brother-resign-government-no-deal-brexit

 

Let’s get away from it all

Fifty-four people, mostly Americans, have paid up to £194,390 each to spend 245 days on a cruise liner, circumnavigating the globe on what is being billed as something or other, cruise of a lifetime, luxury escape from Donald Trump, whatever.

It sounds like a recipe for another Poseidon adventure.

At the top of the range, you get your own 12-man boardroom, chef, kitchen and wine cellar. For the steerage passengers (only £66,950), eight restaurants have worked out 245 menus, one for each day. “There is more food than you can ever imagine.” promises Viking’s Head of Sales, lasciviously (many people can only imagine that much food, actually. Principally because they don’t get that much to eat.) There are of course other passengers, it’s just that they’re getting off at Los Angeles, where more get on.

“It won’t be something that is exclusive to millionaires,” says Alex Loizou, director of sales and marketing at Mundy Cruising. “It will be ordinary people.” Yeah, right. That’s what I’d be afraid of, actually. Smug retired couples with unfeasibly large pension-pots. Tragic lottery winners. Refugees from Downton Abbey.

Eat your heart out, Agatha Christie… we’re laying bets on who the murderer will be.

40 years ago, your Uncle B. spent two weeks on a guided cruise around the sites of classical antiquity in the eastern Mediterranean as the guest of the organizers, with the aim of producing a short piece for radio promoting their business.

It was quite a small boat with just the one restaurant serving a sadly imaginable quantity of food, and I honestly thought I would go mad with boredom. Apart from my wife, who was unwell most of the time (it later turned out to be hepatitis C), there was only one other passenger aged under about 60 onboard, a teenager, so with little else to do but traipse around ruins, I managed to run up the biggest bar bill of anyone.

They rejected my piece.

 

No, it can’t be!

As any fule ‘kno, a coincidence is just when you happen to notice two different things happening at the same time that appear to be related to one another, when they’re probably not. Most psychologists will tell you, there’s no such thing: it’s just that you’re in a particularly receptive frame of mind. (Actually, the Father of Modern Psychology, Dr Jung believed in them, so he gave them a scientific name: synchronicities.)

So, a few days ago I told you about The Lucky Jew – a somewhat dubious tourist souvenir a friend brought back for me from Poland three weeks ago – and how, the very next day, I won £30 on the lottery, something I’d never done before – I don’t usually do the lottery, it’s just an occasional whim when I’m feeling unloved.

This morning I opened a letter from the bank – something I don’t often do either – to find a deposit in my account that precisely to the pound matched the amount I’d had to remove two weeks ago to cover the cost of my annual pilgrimage to sing jazz in the Loire. So I was no worse off!

While in France last week, during the course of a conversation over breakfast one day, I recounted an apposite story of how I’d been shopping at the local supermarket a while back, and was surprised to hear quite a young man, a student, wandering by while humming a tune called “Fly Me to the Moon”, a 1960s Sinatra hit and now a tiresomely overdone jazz standard on courses and on bad karaoke nights.

Shopping at the same supermarket just an hour ago, a man wandered past, humming “Fly Me to the Moon”….

 

I talk to the trees (but no-one listens to me)

Okay, so the plan is to plant a trillion trees and save the world from overheating.

First, let’s establish that a trillion is a thousand billions, and a billion is a thousand millions, and a million is a thousand thousands, and a thousand is ten hundreds, and a hundred is ten tens, and ten is your fingers and thumbs – or your toes.

Imagine a football stadium holding fifty thousand people. See their eager faces? 20 stadiums is a million people. 200 thousand stadiums is a trillion people. Aren’t you sick of seeing their faces?

Put another way, a trillion is 1 followed by 12 noughts; each nought being the increasing power of x10.

It’s quite a lot of trees, too. Growing and distributing and planting out that many saplings – baby trees – is going to take energy, lots of it – human and otherwise. And where is your source stock of seeds and whips (live cuttings) for that many trees? How many nurseries, with how much space?

And who will pay them to do it?

Roughly 15 per cent of saplings survive transplantation, so we’ll need 6 trillion to start with. Who is going to grow 6 trillion saplings, and where?

Trees need water. They don’t like salt. Is there enough fresh water on the planet to keep a trillion trees alive to maturity, say at a gallon a day? Increasing to maybe ten gallons a day as they grow? Ten trillion gallons a day? (Don’t ask how many Olympic swimming pools is that… it’s 10,000,000,000,000 divided by 660,400, okay?)

And us? Does that leave enough fresh water to keep us alive too? And the other animals and plants? And all those industrial processes and agriculture – in Chile, where the soil is dry, it takes 100 US gallons of water to produce one avocado.

Yes, transpiration will put fresh water back into the amosphere. To add to the increased rainfall and flooding we’re already experiencing.

The trees will need to grow rapidly and well if they are going to suck all that carbon dioxide out of the air to make themselves bigger and more useful at removing carbon, which will take many years.

And when they die, they’re going to put it all back out again.

Right now, millions upon millions of trees are dying. Many in wildfires that are eating up areas of southern tropical, temperate and northern boreal forests the size of small countries every year.

Now, burning trees are putting up soot particles high in the atmosphere, reflecting sunlight back into space. Burning the forests rather than planting them may be the best way for now of countering the effect of warming from their and our carbon emissions.

On our walk yesterday, 31 August, I stood in full, blazing sunshine, felt its warmth, and thought no, this isn’t right, there’s not enough warmth. It ought to have been 2 or 3 degrees hotter. The sky looked blue, but it isn’t. The hemisphere is wreathed in a fine layer of smoke.

The “global dimming” (aka “aerosol masking”) effect of the sooty particles from 36 million burned acres of Siberian forest this year, more tens of millions of acres from Alaska and British Columbia, South America, Central Africa, Indonesia and now Australia again must be pretty substantial.

Millions of trees are also being cut down just to burn for “bio” energy and to make products – houses, sheds, shelf units, kebab skewers, paper. Many to clear land to grow cows for burgers and soybeans for soy sauce and tofu, and biogas and palm oil for just about anything.

Can we just stop cutting down trees, maybe? Can we stop eating cows and tofu with soy sauce and margarine, driving cars on ethanol? Can we stop trees from burning, in a warmer world?

Because otherwise we’ll be killing them as fast as we can grow them. Net neutrality can have two distinct meanings!

Trees have their limits to growth. Altitude imposes one such limit. You’ve heard of “the tree line”. Above it, trees do not grow quickly or fast enough to help with the climate problem. Land is not unlimited, there are places you can’t grow trees.

Will we be growing the right species of trees for their environment? In deserts and on salt flats? In tidal estuaries? On flood plains and hilltops? And will the tree planters not come up against vested agricultural and commercial interests and city growers in competition for the space? You can’t eat trees! You can’t drive a combine harvester in a forest.

Trees also have their limits when it comes to surviving extreme heat or cold. Will the world be cooling quickly enough to allow them to survive when half the year, in half the world the temperature is 40 degrees*? How well will they grow in Scotland, when the Gulf Stream fails, the “overturning circulation”, and all that Arctic meltwater is streaming south?

Doubtless there are good arguments for planting more trees strategically. On tropical coastlines, for instance, to try to defeat salination from rising sea levels, planting banyan is maybe a good idea. In cities and along roads. On eroded hillsides. And, of course, there are companies cutting down trees for industry that piously affect to replace the ones they cut down.

So we are planting trees – the Ethiopian government recently trumpeted that villagers had replanted 350 million (let’s see how many survive). We’d only need to duplicate that effort 3,000 times and…

Reforesting the world with unimaginable numbers of trees that have no other purpose than to breathe is a lovely dream, but it requires global management deploying vast resources, and who is going to provide that, when supposedly civilized, established democracies can no longer even manage ourselves?

*The story of a city already suffering intolerable heat and water stress is told at:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/31/tucson-heat-inequality-summer

 

GW: Deep breath, everyone

The Amazon rainforest produces 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen. The UN should immediately invade Brazil and remove Bolsonaro from office to save the world!!!

Actually not, say the experts.

“…the world’s oxygen levels are quite stable and are not dependent on rain forests, which use up as much of the gas as they produce in the long run, according to Philip Fearnside, a professor at Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research, quoted in Newsweek:

“Amazonia is not a big source of oxygen because trees respire, just like animals. Trees use up most of the oxygen that they produce through photosynthesis. … There is a net release of oxygen while the tree is growing and storing carbon in its wood, but when the tree dies the wood rots, removing the same amount of oxygen from the air to form carbon dioxide (CO2) from the carbon in the wood,” he said.

“Twenty per cent” is the total proportion of oxygen in the atmosphere, not what the rainforest produces.

More environmental news:

Checking on CO2, then, it’s incredibly difficult to give figures when the concentration measured at the Scripps observatory at 9,000 ft on Mauna Loa in Hawaii, the internationally recognised “official” monitoring station, varies not just from year to year and month to month, but from hour to hour across the day.

Despite the vast area of the planet’s forest cover that’s currently burning, and the increase this year in volcanic activity – and, of course, the ever-increasing output from industry, farming and transportation – the daily average load is currently 409.69 parts per million. The record for the year was set on 15 May when it was as high as 415.70 (Peaks were being detected over 417 ppm, while over parts of Siberia it’s been 1,020 ppm.) The previous record high daily average of 412.60 was set last year, on 14 May. It’s inexorably increasing.

“Pre-industrial” CO2, ie back in the C18th, was about 280 ppm.

France’s wine output is expected to fall 12% this year, after spring frosts followed by summer heatwaves took a heavy toll on vineyards across the country.

On 27 Aug. the temperature in my front garden in Boglington-on-Sea barely made it to 16C. On the other side of the country, in parts of Southeast England it reached 32C. I’m wondering if that 100% east-west vertical gradient might be some kind of record?

NASA and others made July the hottest month ever globally, although Europe only made 2nd hottest July owing to a big cold blob stuck over the northeast. France had its hottest ever July, while the UK broke several temperature records. June was Europe’s hottest ever June. The Met office reported, 10 of the UK’s hottest years have occurred since 2002. There were major temperature anomalies – up to 8C – in Antarctica, Greenland and eastern Siberia. (Severe-weather.eu).

North America has not missed having its wettest past 12 months ever (since 1894, anyway) in any month since May. Sluggish Hurricane Dorian will help keep that record up going into September.

Writing on Arctic News, 1 Sept., Prof. Andrew Glikson of Australian National University has the following good news:

For a climate sensitivity of 3±1.5°C per doubling of atmospheric CO₂, global warming has potentially reached between +2°C to +3°C above mean pre-industrial temperatures at a rate exceeding the fastest growth rate over the last 55 million years.

Global temperature, he writes, has been accelerating faster in the past 270 years than at any time in the planetary record. Even the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) when the planet warmed by 5-8 degrees took a thousand years. The 2 to 3C rise is being masked by aerosol dispersals (pollution).

Glikson’s case supports the idea that feedbacks make a nonsense of linear projections. He cites a 2002 paper by Berger and Loutre: “The climate system may take 50,000 years to assimilate the impacts of human activities during the early third millennium. In this case, an “irreversible greenhouse effect” could become the most likely future climate.”

A Munich Re Insurance graph shows a tripling of extreme global climatic and seismic events of all kinds since 1970. (Arctic News)

The Indonesian government is planning to move its capital to a purpose-built new city. Built on a bog and now sinking fast owing to sea-level rise, Jakarta is to be abandoned to the waves. Environmentalists have protested at the choice of a virgin forest site in Borneo (Kalimantan).

 

USA: Hurricane Dorian intensified Sunday to a monster 180-mph top-end Category 5 storm, gusting to 220 mph, as it approached the Bahamas – the strongest hurricane to hit the region in modern times. Moving at only 1 mph, it’s carrying up to 30-in. of rain and pushing a 20-foot storm surge on top of this month’s king tides. Reporters said hundreds of residents of lower-lying islands, including Grand Cay and Sweeting Cay, ignored mandatory evacuation orders. Early video images show houses half-submerged, their roofs ripped away. Over 13,000 properties are said to have been destroyed.

Floridans are hunkering down as Hurricane Dorian approaches the eastern US coastline. The NHC however expects the storm to turn northward instead of crossing the coast, sparing Mar-a-Lago, andto  head up the coast past Georgia, slamming instead into the Carolinas. If it follows the same track as Matthew in 2016 it could still cause $billions in damage – and fatalities. Matthew killed 47 people.

According to an investigation by The Intercept, two Brazilian firms standing to make millions from the removal of the Amazon rainforest have been among the heavier donors to the re-election campaign funds of both Donald Trump and profoundly corrupt Senate leader, “Moscow Mitch” – should that now be “Manaus Mitch”? – McConnell. Both firms are owned largely or in part by Stephen Schwartzman, billionaire CEO of $300 bn US fund manager, Blackstone Corp.

Hang him. No, I’m serious. Unfathomably stupid and greedy “entrepreneurs” like him have forfeited any right to life. They need to be put on trial for ecocidal crimes and gaoled for life, or summarily executed. The future cannot afford their continued existence.

(If a corporation or a river can be declared to have legal rights as a person, as has been adjudicated, then why does the Future not have equivalent legal rights to exist unthreatened by special interests bent on adversely altering or preventing it from eventuating? Could this concept not be tried in court?)

Russia: Days of heavy rain and flooding have prompted authorities to declare an emergency in Russia‘s Far East. The declaration covers 15 municipalities including the city of Vladivostok which is among the worst affected. The Primorsky Krai administration said more than 150mm of rain has fallen in Vladivostok over the last few days (a normal month’s worth). (Floodlist)

Mauritania: At least 5 people have died in recent flooding in southern Mauritania according to media reports. News agency AMI said that dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed following storms and heavy rains that began around 25 Aug. Fatalities were reported in the capital, Sélibaby City. Media reported that 200mm of rain fell in the area. Roads, bridges and other infrastructure were also damaged. (Floodlist)

Uganda: landslides and flooding have affected several areas of Bulambuli district since 27 August. Local media reported that 5 people were missing, feared dead, after landslides buried houses and flooding from the River Kajere. “Above normal” rains are forecast through until the end of October. (Floodlist)

Kenya: 6 bodies have been recovered after a tour group was swept away by a flash flood in a Kenyan national park. The incident at Hell’s Gate National Park on Sunday involved five Kenyan nationals, a local tour guide and a “foreigner”, officials said. 1 tourist is still missing and a search and rescue operation is continuing. (BBC)

Morocco: At least 7 people died in flash floods in Morocco on 28 August, after heavy rain in the south of the country. A wave of water slammed into a crowd of spectators at a football match, as a building many had taken refuge on collapsed. More people are feared missing and search and rescue teams are working in the area to find survivors. (Floodlist)

Australia: Your Gran fears the media is going mad. A huge floating island of volcanic pumice in the Pacific has been hailed everywhere as a potential saviour of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as corals and other microflora will cling to its underside and repopulate the dying reef.

Well, no, it won’t – not if the same conditions that are killing the reef – oceanic heatwaves and acidification – are going to persist. How could it?

Instead, “The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s outlook report, published every five years, finds coral reefs have declined to a ‘very poor’ condition and there is widespread habitat loss and degradation affecting fish, turtles and seabirds.”

As well as the warming, acidifying ocean, agricultural pollution, ecological imbalances, cyclones and illegal fishing are among reasons to doubt that anything can now save the reef, once listed as one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World and now in its northern sector 2/3rds dead. The Authority’s almost pathetic optimism concludes that all is not lost, provided the world “tackles global warming” if the reef is to be saved. (Guardian Green Light, et al.) As if.

Tunnel approaching….

Ebola: The world’s forgotten Ebola epidemic, mainly in the DRC, has claimed its 2,000th victim. There have been 3,000 cases in total of the disease, which has an unusually high mortality rate of 67%. There’ve been a number of cases and fatalities in neighboring Uganda as the border is porous and villagers are refusing to take warnings seriously not to travel. Hostility toward medical teams and a refusal to believe the disease exists are given as reasons the outbreak is so far from controlled.

 

Trump Org. a grovelling apology

In The Pumpkin – Issue 96, we commented that US cable news network MSNBC and presenter Lawrence O’Donnell were reporting that signatures of Russian oligarchs may have been found in court papers among Trump loan applications to Deutsche Bank, the only remaining bank that would lend to him. The normally serious and reliable O’Donnell has since reported that he shouldn’t have let the cat out of the… no, sorry, he’s tweeted that it was inappropriate to quote his one anonymous source for that claim at this time without supporting testimony and he was wrong to do so. I expect the Southern District court has given him a walloping.

Trump’s dimmest little sprog, Eric, has threatened to sue everyone who repeats the story.

Sorry. No, really, Eric. Really, really sorry. I know you only told a golfing magazine you get all your money from Russia, but later, maybe, yeah?

But please, MSNBC, you can’t afford to give the Trumps these hostages to fortune. Calm down, okay?

Do we not have laws? A BogPo supplement. Breaking things… Nature Notes… GW: Not yet the last of the Phew!… Get planting!

Do we not have laws?

An American author claims to have had two speaking engagements in Britain cancelled because his “Jewishness” might incite protests. Your cynical Uncle Bogler suspects some publicist’s dark hand in this, but we’ll respond anyway.

Dear Richard Zimler

I was sorry to read a report in The Guardian that you have been no-platformed as a visiting writer by two unnamed cultural organizations in my country, apparently because you are too provocatively Jewish; although your fiction is not specifically connected with Judaism.

I see too that you have been nominated for many literary prizes but never won. Hmmn.

But, like Salman Rushdie, you have apparently been a little controversial in your latest work, imagining a dialog between Jesus and Lazarus, which is sure to offend anyone who wants to find a target for their bigotry. Frankly, as far as I’m concerned they are both fictional characters and fair game.

It seems not only ludicrous to discriminate against you on religious grounds, but surely also illegal. We do have laws against this sort of thing, I think, somewhere. It must have been something you said! But seriously, which are these organizations? It’s normal to out them. Do they exist? Please, this is too serious to be something your publisher’s publicist has cooked up.

I’m sure there are many Jewish writers and intellectuals who have not been no-platformed here – except for Marika Sherwood, a holocaust survivor who was no-platformed at Manchester University in 2017 entirely at the insistence of Israel’s ambassador Regev, an insufferable little shit who objected to her likening the Likud party to Nazis.

As if she wouldn’t know.

Generally speaking, it is still the antisemites who cop for the most criticism here, so please don’t abandon us entirely. Of course, they exist. But we are undergoing a dark night of the soul, hanging on the definition of the word antisemite. The Israel lobby has been extremely successful in sowing division where little existed.

There will always be dimwits who desecrate cemeteries and places of worship, Jewish, Muslim, Christian. The point is the desecration, not the religion. The dimwits know nothing of religions, they merely delight in transgression; just as many so-called pitchside soccer racists use racist tropes as a weapon to unsettle opposing black players, but do not (probably) share the ideology. Of course, that’s no excuse. While the British can be bullish, even at times heartily cynical, we are seldom to be taken at face value.

(In a new survey, 90.3 per cent of those polled agreed that Britishness is no longer a matter of color.)

And there will be people like myself who are justifiably concerned by the emerging apartheid state in Israel, a formerly progressive, technically secular nation now seemingly ruled by gangster capitalists and backward-looking religious extremists. We have a right to be heard and we do not wish our dismay to be howled down by paid apologists for a corrupt regime; nor do we wish to be branded somehow as haters of Jews because of it.

If we hated you, why would we care? We oppose apartheid and support human rights and justice everywhere. It’s a salutary exercise to revisit David ben Gurion’s foundation address to the UN in 1948 and compare it with today.

Unfashionably, Richard, I would still draw a distinction between the race-baiters and the race-haters.

The former category may weaponise difference for their own advantage, but when the chips are down, will put community before difference and side with those of whatever creed or colour are considered community against outsiders.

The latter will regard all and any persons of difference as outsiders to be refused admission to the community, even to be ejected, and focus their hatred and whatever violence they believe is licensed to them specifically on target groups. They are a very small, sociopathic minority who sometimes gain disproportionate notice by breaking things.

Some will argue, what’s the difference? It’s all discrimination and to be decried. Others might prefer benevolent discrimination and communautarianism, to ideological, racially-based violence, hatred and exclusion. All people discriminate, it’s in our nature. You’re never going to end it. It’s the intent that matters.

I was frankly unaware that we have many cultural organizations left, now that Mark Rylance has severed connections with the Royal Shakespeare Company over their sponsorship arrangements – being indebted to an oil company is attracting fashionable liberal opprobrium here – and now the Sacklers have been withdrawing their opioid-funded sponsorships – but it appears from what you say that the last two may have gone. No-platforming is a negation of culture, once it’s practised you replace it with barbarism. Institutions should remain neutral and not adopt the prejudices and weakness of their officers.

So, I’m sorry for what has happened – I’m trusting your word that it has genuinely happened – and hope that it won’t totally colour your opinion of us, but frankly I’m not too hopeful about the future of Europe, let alone Britain, certainly the English part of which I washed my hands long ago. Although there are some encouraging signs that populism isn’t everywhere rampant.

I had hoped in retirement to emigrate to Portugal myself, but I’m grateful now that I wasn’t able to. I expect you’re getting used to the extreme summer heat and the wildfires, but up here on the balmy west coast of Britain it’s still hard to believe that the most important issue we face is biting us in the ass, and it’s not cultural, or religious.

Shalom, Richard, take it easy.

 

Breaking things

“China has accused protesters who vandalised Hong Kong’s parliament on Monday of ‘serious illegal actions’ that ‘trample on the rule of law’.” (BBC News)

I’m sure they have!

Why does it not occur to the media and the Hong Kong authorities that the most obvious way to discredit the tens of thousands of peaceful protesters marching daily against a controversial extradition agreement with mainland China is to infiltrate their ranks with 5th columnists and ratchet up the level of vandalism and violence?

Maybe to the point where a direct intervention by Beijing is justifiable?

 

Taking us all for a ride

Variety magazine reports that Garrett Camp, a co-founder of the Uber “ride sharing” dial-up cheap taxi business, and his parter, Elizabeth Nguyen, have bought a $72.5 million, 4.7-acre mansion estate in Los Angeles.

That’s despite the strange fact that Uber, whose drivers – not a few of them homeless people who sleep in their cars – are locked in a dispute with the company over low-pay and abusive terms of employment, has yet to make a profit.

Mr Camp (net worth $4.2 billion – Forbes) owns a “portfolio” of other substantial properties in California and New York.

In a parallel Guardian article today, social justice campaigner and environmentalist, George Monbiot reports, the billionaire press in the UK has launched a savage campaign of lies and vituperation against him and five others, for putting forward a plan to mitigate the astonishing inequality growing between the ultra-high net worth individuals – the 1%, who “own” more than half the wealth of the world – and the rest, through a process of land reform.

And from a further report, we learn that the top 10 per cent of working people enjoy a median income of $7,000 a month; the bottom one percent, just 22 dollars.

The billionaires are fighting back hard against any suggestion that they might like to give up some of their ridiculous wealth, that many of them have gained for almost no effort by cannily monetizing the growing size and data content of mass consumer markets, or by employing armies of zombie workers on skeletal wages to perform menial services for the marginally better-off.

It’s estimated that owing to high housing costs and uncertain employment in the low-wage economy from which vulgar, parasitic creatures like Camp have profited mightily, more than ten thousand Angelenos are homeless and living on the streets. Not far from camp Camp, are the camps of the underclass, many of them women with children, whom the authorities are continually harrassing. It’s a less contentious strategy than housing them.

Mr Camp’s mansion purchase seems to be a sign that the new billionairism is turning conventional economics on its head, since this individual’s obscene wealth – and he is not alone, there are more billionaires than ever – is based on nothing more than a stock market bubble that grew from a brilliant business “idea” that people could use their cellphones to call for an unlicensed taxi whose sleep-deprived driver would get 40% of the fare and hand the rest over to Mr Camp and his mates.

I suppose the brilliant flash of inspiration that led to all these poor people hiring out their borrowed or shared cars and precious time to Mr Camp and his ilk at varying rates set by an algorithm designed to benefit only themselves had to be worth something. Despite putting many licensed drivers out of a job.

It’s known as hire and reward, after all – but the wrong people are getting the rewards.

 

Nature notes

Again today in Boglington-on-Sea we have wall-to-wall blue sky all day, although don’t be fooled: there’s a fine haze of traffic pollution. Nevertheless, it’s an agreeable 19.5 degrees C in the shade, with a barely perceptible breeze, and it’s half-past ten in the morning. Global warming? Fie! (Oops – 11.15 and it’s gone over 20.4C.)

Yesterday on our walk I did a bee count, and the news was still not good. At one point there’s a stretch along the path by the river where half a dozen large Buddleia bushes splurged into spectacular flower a couple of weeks ago. The cloying scent of the panicles of purple flowers filled the air, even to my feeble human olfactory senses detectable from fifty yards away. Your average bee couldn’t help but detect them at half a mile. Yet I counted only one honeybee grazing among the lot, possibly two but it might have been a wasp or one of those false-bee hoverflies, of which there seem to be quite a few this year. My eyesight isn’t improving, but even extrapolating by a factor of ten that I must have missed, it didn’t seem like there are many bees around.

Buddleia is also attractive to butterflies. I spotted none anywhere among the bushes, although later crossing a small meadow where the ripening grass is approaching shoulder-high (I’m six feet tall) there were three browns, some whites and later a solitary tortoiseshell. Nevertheless, it has been such an amazing spring, mild and with just the right balance of rain and sunshine, masses of tumbling vegetation and wildflowers flowering early, that it does seem the insect population is recovering somewhat from last year’s disastrous start. There’s never a shortage of gnats here.

Who is it who keeps smashing down the two giant Fullers’ teasels growing beside the path? These amazing, self-sown annuals can grow to seven feet in a few weeks, their pale-green, serrated leaves on furry stems pointing upwards to the light, before putting out their multiple seed-heads, the familiar large burrs rustic weavers allegedly used in olden times to “full”, or comb the skeins of wool. Once ripened, they make interesting cut-flower ornaments for the vase. People spray them gold and silver for free Xmas decs. That’s if they’re allowed to flower. Every year, these two companions get to about four feet in height and some whistling moron comes along with a stick and bashes them down. If I ever catch them I will take a stick and bash them down.

The bee picture improved slightly when I took a glass of well-chilled Czech lager up onto the patio to contemplate my projects*. The tiny garden is bordered on one side by a magnificent privet hedge, whose top I cannot reach to trim even with the bloody awkward folding ladder thing, that gives your fingers blood blisters just looking at its stiff and snappy hinges. The privet is in copious flower and I counted half a dozen hive workers brunching on the nectar, their little legs stuck all over with pollen.

Another stripy hoverfly comes and stares at me for a while, wings going nineteen thousand to the dozen. It must take a lot of energy to perform that astonishing manoeuvre, of staying absolutely still like a hawk poised in mid-air for minutes at a time. You wonder why they bother? What are they waiting for? They rarely seem to land anywhere. I fancied it might be one of those new nano-sized military drones and that at any moment it would fire a tiny missile at my head.

 

*Huzzah! After all this time, the bricks to finish my half-built wall have arrived. The ones the yard sold on by mistake a year ago after I’d paid for them, and couldn’t get any more of. Until now. (Actually they’d had them in for months but it didn’t occur to them to phone me and say.)

Dimly sensing the throbbing of a heavy engine outside, I managed to changeover to my urine day bag and sprinted downstairs at a quarter to 8.00 this morning, just in time to stop the men delivering an enormous pallet smack in the middle of the path I share with the neighboring house, blocking it completely.

I’d spent half an hour yesterday clearing a space for them inside the garden wall, but they didn’t think the pallet would fit there and were nervous about parking on a bend. We could have been trapped for weeks! It merely required me to shift three bags of compost six inches to the right and they were able to guide the pallet into position for a perfect fit.

It’s no wonder the working people voted to Leave the EU. They all seem to be quite bereft of common sense.

 

GW: Not yet the last of the Phew!

Europe: Heat records at the weekend tumbled acoss a swathe of central Europe from Denmark in the north, to Switzerland in the south, as it was officially declared the hottest June month ever across the continent. In Germany, 34 all-time heat records were broken on Sunday, 1 July. At the river Saale in Bernburg, a scorching high of 39.6°C (103.3°F) was not only that station’s hottest temperature on any date in records going back to 1898, but the hottest June temperature ever observed anywhere in Germany. The previous record? July 2018. (BBC Weather/The Weather Channel)

Northern Spain continues very hot, recording temperatures in the low 40s C, 102F-plus. Firefighters are still battling two large blazes, one moving at 7km/h has burned 3,300Ha and is in the outskirts of the capital, Madrid. England recorded its hottest day of the year so far on 29 June, the temperature reaching 34C (93.2F) at Heathrow airport. In Scotland, people found their power sockets had turned black after a series of lightning strikes on their houses. Hundreds of homes were without power for almost 24 hours following the storm on Saturday.

Iceland too has been experiencing an “unbearable” heatwave, with temperatures in places rising to 22C (72F). Residents are more used to the average June temperature of 7C. (Euronews)

USA: “Alaska, part of which lies inside the Arctic Circle, is sweltering under a heatwave, with record temperatures recorded in several areas, including its largest city. Temperatures reached 90F (32C) in Anchorage on Thursday (4 July), shattering the city’s previous record of 85F.” (BBC News, et al

Russia: 18 people have died – 17 drowned and 1 as a result of hypothermia, in record floods in Siberia. 8 people are still missing. Emergency teams have evacuated 2,200 people from the disaster area. Almost 1,500 people have sought medical help, with 221 hospitalised. Flooding first began around 25 June after a period of heavy rain that caused rivers and lakes to overflow, including Lake Baikal. Over 6,600 homes have been flooded, affecting over 30,000 residents. 12 bridges have been destroyed, dozens of roads damaged, as well as around 40 public buildings, including schools and medical centres. (Floodlist)

India: “Dozens” of people are reported to have died in flooding and landslides in Maharashtra province. 18 people have died and 6 others are missing after heavy rainfall caused a dam breach which flooded a village. Houses were swept away as flood waters engulfed Tiware Bhendwadi village. Mumbai has had its heaviest rain for over a decade, with localized flooding, and there’s more to come. Usual transport chaos – road, rail and air – as 375mm (15-in) falls in 24 hours. 18 labourers died when a wall weakened by 2 days of continuous rain fell on them.

Japan: At least 20 people have died and more than a million have been advised to leave their homes as monstrous rains once again lash the south island of Kyushu. 1,000mm (39in) of rain has fallen since 28 June, and Japan’s Meteorological Agency forecasts the rains will continue into next week. A further 350mm of rain is expected in the southern part of the island and 300mm in the northern part by 04 July, with some areas predicted to get more than 80mm of rain every hour. The agency said a month’s rainfall could hit parts of Kyushu in just 24 hours. (BBC News)

Vietnam: 2 people were killed and 3 injured on 04 July after a bridge in Thanh Hoá Province collapsed due to the heavy rain. After passing over Hainan Island in southern China, Tropical Depression ‘Mun’ dumped 366mm (14-in.) of rain in 24 hours. Further heavy rain could affected northern and central areas, including the capital Hanoi. (Floodlist)

Pacific: Plain vanilla Tropical Storm Barbara metamorphosed overnight into a huge, 130mph, Category 4 hurricane. The Weather Channel reports, it’s just sitting out in mid-ocean, not going anywhere – but Hawaii is potentially in its path next week. Happily, cooler water should take a lot of the force out of it by then, but high surf and severe weather warnings have been issued for Oahu. This increasingly common rapid intensification of storms is a clear sign of adverse effects of a warming world.

Cuba: Sunday 1 July was the hottest day in recorded history for the Caribbean nation, which recorded an all-time heat mark of 39.1°C (102.4°F) at Veguitas. (Weather Underground). 2 people have died and 3 are missing in floods in nearby Haiti. It’s the second spate of deadly flash floods in the space of 4 weeks. (Floodlist)

Tunnel approaching…

Fracking hell: Following a meta-analytical study of over 1,300 peer-reviewed research papers, Kathleen Nolan, MD, MSL, of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York, said, “Substantial scientific evidence now leaves no question that drilling and fracking cause serious harms to public health. Further studies will continue to illuminate the full extent of those ill effects and to define causal pathways in further detail, but it is abundantly clear that the practice is not safe and that no set of regulations can make it safe.” (PSR – Physicians for Social Responsibility – website, 9 June)

California: A M6.2 earthquake off the coast at Vancouver last night (03 July) translated 12 hours later along a known fault into a M6.4 in a remote area of southern California, that was felt in Los Angeles, where buildings swayed. At a depth of only 8 km, it was the largest earthquake in California for many years and happened in an ancient volcano field next to a deep-well geothermal pumping station. As we reported recently, the laBrea tar pits in the LA basin have been bubbling over, and steam eruptions have been reported, pushing up manhole covers. There have been swarms of smaller earthquakes north and south along the coast, linked to major volcanic activity in the Aleutians. Dutchsinse reports too, there have been now 27 magnitude 6 or higher quakes around the Pacific basin in the past month, many more than usual.

La terra trema… the M6.2 Ridgecrest quake was followed two days later by a M7.1 in the same location. Casualties, damage. A statewide state of emergency has been declared. The epicentre is not far from the Long Valley supervolcano caldera. Dutchsinse (Michael Janitch) points to human activity – deep drilling, fracking, pumping – in the fracture zones as a contributor. He forecasts that if the force pushing down from the north Pacific doesn’t transfer to the east along the edge of the North American craton, a third major quake is likely. He had warned his viewers of the quakes days in advance – the USGS is saying they had only 48 seconds’ warning of the M7.2!

Yellowstone: In the wake of the 6.2 Ridgefield quake, Greeley reports the seismographs are showing a huge intrusion of magma under the park. The meltline is the highest anyone has ever seen.

Three days ago: Steamboat geyser has gone off 25 times this year, 7 times in June alone, set to smash last year’s record of 32 eruptions. The biggest geyser in the park, the Steamboat normally records two or three eruptions in a year, but has recently become hyperactive. USGS say they don’t know why. Old Faithful’s regular blasts are getting bigger too… new geysers, mudpools forming – more earthquakes, rising temperatures, ground uplift reported. (Mary Greeley)

 

Get planting!

Possibly the most futile piece of research this year has come from Prof Tom Crowther at the Swiss university ETH Zürich, who has been looking into how planting trees removes carbon dioxide from the air. (Guardian report, 03 July)

Prof Crowther calculates that there is room to squeeze a trillion more trees onto uncultivated surfaces of the planet, that would remove two thirds of the CO2 – provided, of course, that we stop cutting down trees and burning more fossil fuels in the meantime.

Both propositions seem something of a stretch. A trillion is a thousand times a thousand million. The energy required for nurseries to produce and for foresters to plant that many saplings – the survival rate of heel transplants is quite low, about 15%, so perhaps five or even six trillion, pick a number – would be enormous.

Mr Gove, the Environment secretary, recently proposed planting 130 thousand more trees in British cities. There is no likelihood whatever of reaching even that modest target.

There would then be the obvious requirement to wait while the little trees grow into trees large enough to make a difference, perhaps ten to fifteen years – time we don’t really have. Meanwhile, Mr Bolsonaro’s friends in the Brazilian parliament are busy removing a hectare of the rain forest every minute of the day to graze cattle to make beefburgers for fast-food chains.

I don’t think, either, that Prof Crowther has taken into account that trees don’t absorb CFCs, methane or nitrous oxide, that are also increasing in the atmosphere and causing it to overheat; and that at least 1.5 degrees of warming is already baked into the system, mainly in the oceans.

But it’s a nice idea, well worth the grant.

 

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.

Snowflakes are falling… D-Day branding… Boo, again, BBC… And boo, Wales… GW: Wiv me skirts a’ flyin’ above me ‘ead… Tunnel Approaching… Morons’ Corner.

Quote of the Week:

It’s a terrible feeling to discover that your country is full of strangers.

Mihir Sharma, writing in Bloomberg on the landslide victory in Indian elections of Modi’s ugly Hindu nationalists.

Your Uncle Bogler had exactly that feeling yesterday afternoon in Morrison’s, perceiving himself beset about by late-middle-aged white couples, seemingly of few means, with strong Midlands’ accents who had, most of them, probably, just voted for Nigel Farage’s Brexit party.

Not my country, mate.

Notes

D-Day branding

The US Department of Energy has rebranded liquid methane (natural gas).

Likening the powerful greenhouse gas to the American military, that liberated Europe 75 years ago, Mark W Menezes, the US under-secretary of Energy, has renamed it “Freedom gas”. We are, he said, exporting “molecules of Freedom” to the world. (Guardian report)

It’s getting more like Dr Strangelove every day over there.

Processed food … “linked to early death”

“People who eat large amounts of heavily processed foods, from breakfast cereals and ready meals to muffins and ice-cream, have a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and early death, according to (a) major study (in France).

“The study, published in the British Medical Journal, does not prove that ultra-processed foods cause disease. Nor does the effect appear particularly large….” (Guardian)

I fear we are all going mad.

 

Snowflakes are falling

“Festivalgoer Renardo Henry, 21, said he saw people passing out in the heat. “We were in the queue, four people had collapsed around us, people were throwing up and shouting for medics, all the staff were doing was throwing water bottles into the crowd of people,” he told the BBC.” (Guardian, 26 May)

Yes, temperatures in London this Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend soared to an unimaginable 20C, 68F – not a record for late May, in fact it was hotter in late February – and young people queuing for three and a half hours for tickets but without the right ‘free drinks allowance’ wristbands, were collapsing everywhere like koalas in the intolerable furnace of the We Are FSTVL – er, festival.

Another crowdgoer tweeted of water bottles bouncing off people’s heads, presumably why “bouncers” are called just that. Alexi Hicken tweeted: “i was trapped inside the tent while all this was going on clinging to a pole so i didn’t get trampled on, after three hours of queuing and the blaring sun it wasn’t ideal.”

Aye, a Pole can come in handy, Brexit or no.

What in God’s almighty name is wrong with these pathetic dwarfs, that an averagely pleasant late spring day bringing temperatures only marginally higher than that recommended by the Shops, Offices and Factories Act, 1963 as a safe working environment, poleaxes them in droves?

How will they cope with June?

Over in Japan, it’s hot. 39C, 104F! They’re still alive and queuing. They’re not clinging to tent poles while water bottles bounce off their heads, thrown, in his best Puerto Rico fashion one could imagine, by visiting President Donald “The Donman” Trump and his sour-looking estranged wife, Moronia.

At least he’ll know what to chuck back at the jeering crowds in London when the gross, lying criminal fraudster pays us a state visit next week. Not paper towels, not double-cheeseburgers, not salted caramel milkshake, but life-saving water bottles.

And whatever happened to Extinction Rebellion? Why were they not on hand to protest the careless proliferation of plastic drinks containers?

Life used to be so much simpler.

 

“We still do not know whose money has been driving the Brexit party.”

Boo, again, BBC

There was a long and thoughtful article in yesterday’s Observer, in which several experienced people from the news industry contributed individually on a topic the Bogler has returned to several times, the public confusion and confirmatory bias generated by BBC News in its ruthless pursuit of “balance”.

The coverage of last week’s European Parliament elections on Monday morning’s R4 Today program was a case in point.

My understanding of how things now work is that there is less separation than in my very brief day at the BBC between News and Current Affairs, benefiting from supposed “synergies”, no doubt – “synergy” being management-speak for operating across different departments with fewer staff, driving the poor beasts to work ever harder.

Anyway, neither on the program itself nor on the news-generated segments and the main hourly bulletin did I hear one very obvious point being made about the result, which could only be released overnight Sunday going into Monday, when Europe – you know, that dozy lot over there – had finished voting for as many Putin-funded neo-Nazis and razorwire fence-erectors as it could find.

Which, in a sense, the ageing miseryguts and bellyachers of the retrograde Brexit party were doing, voting for “strong leadership” and a course of action likely to bring the economy to its knees, stealing the futures of the younger Remain tendency just to remind them who won the war.

We heard, in fact, very little in detail about the European votes, you know, the foreign ones. We heard that some far-right parties and the Greens had basically done well, with a far-left result in Spain.

But we heard nothing, and have heard in all nothing ever on the BBC, of the faceless US and Russian Christian alt-right, anti-women’s rights, anti-Islam, gay-bashing Bannonite campaign groups and billionaire disruptors behind the scenes, funding the nationalist ultras in many countries; including our own.

We still do not know whose money has been driving the Brexit party and paying for Farage’s £million home. If his adoring voters (“Oh, he’s just like us!” Yes, he lives on expenses) could be arsed to find out who he consorts with when he’s not faking a march from Jarrow to London or throwing fish into the Thames, they would shit themselves. It seems the BBC doesn’t want us to find out either. It’s just not on their bucket list to investigate.

Instead, the local story was of the victory of Farage’s Brexiters – who went from nowhere six weeks ago, to 28 comfortably remunerated seats in Strasbourg, by far the largest British group – over both Conservative and Labour, historically the two main parties, who mustered between them only 13 seats, with the ruling Conservative party beaten into fifth place overall on just 9% of the vote.

And, yes, that is one story – one that was made up by the news media long before the event. We could have heard, of course, but we didn’t, analysts pointing out that the Brexiters’ view that Britain is the vassal of an undemocratic EU superstate ruled by faceless foreign bureaucrats in Brussels is completely demolished by attaching the importance Brexit disruptors have accorded to this election to the European Parliament; an election that is likely to produce a very short-lived but nonetheless democratic representation for British interests in Europe, that they want us to give up.

It was indeed a night to celebrate for the Brexit tendency and its candidate list of dismal street-thugs, extreme nationalists, misty-eyed boozers, racists, misogynists, undereducated housewives, golf-club bores, unemployed steel workers and self-publicising reality TV-show hacks, who did indeed pour buckets of milkshake all over the established parties.

They deserved it. Both Labour and Conservatives are irredeemably split on the issue of Europe, have been for years, and have failed to deliver either the non-specific (and undeliverable) Brexit “the People” voted for, again by only a large minority, nearly three years ago, or its opposite, satisfying no-one. Neither has either of them been much bothered about rising inequality, slave wages and the abusive bureaucracy that fails to address those problems.

Now they are paying the price.

What nobody, not even the embarrassingly lightweight Political Editor of the BBC, Laura Kuenssberg, would say out loud, was that Brexit had won only 32% of only a 37% turnout of voters, highlighting the monumental irrelevance, both of the Brexit party and of this election to the vast majority of the population.

It certainly wasn’t going to come up in the main 08.10 Today interview slot with the oafish Leave-supporting junior minister for Children, Nadhim Zahawi – a blustering, ignorant, Hard Brexiting spokesmouth almost as overexposed on BBC Current Affairs slots as Farage himself.

(You bet there was no sign of our now-dead Prime Minister, Theresa May, another of the architects of this clusterfuck quietly fading from view.)

It was not until a quarter of an hour before the three-hour-long program ended that a guest, Lord Heseltine, the sometime flamboyant Tory cabinet minister who dared to stand up to Thatcher, and who was stripped of the party whip last week for announcing that he would vote for a Remain party, the Liberal Democrats – which he did, and they won in his constituency! – pointed out what must have been glaringly obvious to everyone, barring the Editor of the program, the significant fact that:

Remain-supporting parties had won more votes combined than Brexit had done, with two-thirds of the vote. A fair majority on any night. Scotland hasn’t finally filed, but the SNP is another pro-Remain party and looks like it has swept the board. Throw in Labour’s 10 – a three-quarters majority of Labour supporters are in favour of Remaining, it’s only Corbyn, the stubborn lifelong contrarian and 70-year-old student activist, who is refusing to shift party policy off an obscure fence of his own making – and Remain would have won more seats too.

(As Trump has shown, however, it is necessary to do more than just claim a popular majority when institutional biases can come into play to defeat the winner.)

That this was the proverbial elephant in the room (Come on, Bogler, you can do better than that! Ed.), that no-one in BBC News or the Today team wanted, or could bear to, or was allowed to acknowledge, is glaringly obvious. There was no reason, was there, why whoever edited the bulletins couldn’t just say it, instead of hammering home the unalloyed message of a Brexit triumph?

Just say, Remain parties won the popular vote but under our skewed system the seats fell to the Brexit party. Just admit it?

A second confirmatory referendum now would produce a Remain majority, doubtless, and several contributors made the point – but News stuck like superglue to its theme of a Brexit victory and a night of humiliation for the ditherers, giving listeners little chance to conclude that No Brexit After All had just become an increasingly likely option, in a country riven by factionalism.

We are to forge ahead instead with a defeated and despised minority government – plus the doddering remnants of the Conservative party membership – plucking, in their death-throes, on behalf of the entire country, our new Prime Minister from among its own ranks of ambitious little shits.

Some democracy!

It will probably be step-forward, Boris “Watermelon, Piccaninny, etc.” dePfeffel Johnson, the vain, self-serving, adulterous, cynically expedient orator and roguish faux-buffoon, author of lies and racial insults, our very own mini-Trump, who now perceives his best interests hang with the promise of a No Deal exit, but who until the week of the referendum in June 2016 was a Remain supporter, an internationalist who notoriously had prepared articles for his Telegraph column both for and against remaining, just in case the wind changed.

It’s not a good look, as one German journalist on the program noted. (Yes, it is about Europe….) But that kind of careless talk can cost lives – or at least, careers. We can doubtless look forward to a fractious summer with very little enlightenment from our national broadcaster.

Let’s hope the weather, as it has turned over the weekend, remains iffy.

At 20C, there could be bottles flying.

 

And boo, Wales

I voted for Plaid Cymru, the pro-Remain, center-left Welsh Nationalist party that has in recent times modernised, youthed-up, detached itself somewhat from the interests of the farming community and mopped up the Liberal Democrat vote in the Land of Song.

You’d think people here would support them. But, coming second in terms of votes, and with Remain parties jointly producing more votes but fewer seats, there being only four at stake for the entire region, a bit of a travesty given the wide range of demographics, we won only one seat. Fortunately, the one where I live.

The purpose of voting for candidates who are committed to removing themselves from the institution they are campaigning to join is not exactly clear to me. What good can any of these candidates do for their constituents under those conditions? I’d like to see Plaid Cymru, who traditionally haven’t done well down in the depressed Labour heartlands of the Rhondda Valley where the working-class vote was solidly FOR Brexit, a very far rightwing party, challenge the whole farcical situation in a court of law.

Some further devolution from Westminster short of an economically unfeasible declaration of  independence is an obvious necessity; while what Welsh economy there is has been kept going by Brussels. Wales’ extensive university sector, too, is hotly pro-Europe; our research base is strongly linked with European institutions and can only suffer the pangs of separation: reduced funding and knowledge exchange opportunities.

Then there’s the cost to be born of a likely hard border in the Irish Sea – for which, read expansion of Welsh ferry port facilities. None of this will have registered with the Brexit-voting dumbfucks.

EU structural funding for the regions is unlikely to be taken up by a government in England anxious to get itself off the hook of austerity, an economic re-expansion that is likely to cost a great deal of whatever remaining money this feckless Conservative administration has not already pissed away on ferry companies with no ferries.

And that’s another point we’re not hearing mentioned. Britain was supposed to have left the EU on 30 March last. To prepare for the eventuality that we might have to leave without a final agreement on the terms of separation, before trade talks could even begin, the government spent some £4 billion on emergency measures to prevent food riots breaking out; and then applied for, and got, an extension of Article 50 to next 31 October.

They then stood everyone down, cancelled the ferries and switched off the fridges. But if another No Deal Brexit date is looming, say we get to the beginning of October with no agreement in Parliament on a renegotiated deal the EU is in no mind to give us, we’re going to have to crank up the No Deal machine all over again, at a cost presumably of another £4 billion in civil servants and ferries and stockpiling tins of beans and fridgefuls of insulin and putting the army on standby.

Yet to my surprise and shame, and not a little alarm, these Brexit cretins in Wales have done it again. The economic cost of leaving the EU for Wales is appalling, the support for what is essentially an English nationalist project objectionable, but they just don’t care. I have yet to meet one, so I have no idea what they think they have been voting for, since they all voted UKIP at the General Election – and look how well that’s turned out.

I can’t believe it’s the Welsh who are doing this to themselves. The Welsh-speaking rural heartland is solidly Remain. It has to be all those whiney, white-flight economic migrant settlers from Birmingham. There are bloody thousands of them here, ageing ex-motor industry assembly workers with little formal education and bluff, middle England attitudes. The kind who expect fish and chips in Torremolinos and look up to the boss class.

The ones who are stealing our children’s futures, God rot them.

 

But one cheer for Manchester

A tiny light on the horizon, the criminal racist midget and loudmouthed, self-martyring street-thug, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka “Tommy Robinson”, founder of the English Defence League, was sent away with a flea in his tone-deaf ear, whining and crying about some Deep State conspiracy to silence the Voice of the People – his own voice, basically – by the voters of Manchester, who gave him just 2% of their crosses.

At which point, sadly, he lost his deposit. But I’m sure he’ll be back. His kind always are.

 

No cheers for Trumponomics

Despite record low unemployment, “Nearly 51 million US households (43%) don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone,” according to a study released Thursday.

Are they allowed phones in cells? We should be told.

“The figure includes 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families dubbed ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what’s needed ‘to survive in the modern economy.'” – CNN

Move to the sound of the guns

But for a totally terrifying minute of your life, catch up with Vice-President Mike Pence’s address recently to the graduates of the West Point military academy, and bunker down:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpSt34qB6K8

 

GW: Wiv me skirts a’ flyin’ above me ‘ead

USA: CNN Weather News reports, in the last 11 days there have been 261 instances of tornadoes touching down  in the midwest, resulting in several deaths, riding on a conveyor belt of severe storm supercells pushing up from the Gulf of Mexico across Texas and Oklahoma all the way up into the Great Lakes. Meanwhile to the northwest there’s record rain and flooding, snowmelt, rivers at “historic levels”, and to the southeast in Georgia and Florida they’re sweltering in 100-degrees-plus heat.

Update: Another 55 tornadoes on Monday, including one extremely severe one, estimated at 1 mile wide, that hit Kansas City, and another death have prompted the US weather service to remark that it’s all a bit unusual. “The past couple of weeks have seen unusually high tornado activity in the US, with no immediate end to the pattern in sight”, reports The Guardian and others.

More storms are forecast later in the week as there’s no sign of a huge, sagging loop in the jetstream moving away from the contiguous USA.

China: “Heavy rain, floods and landslides in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region have left 7 dead and 9,000 displaced. Over 9,000 hectares of crops have been damaged and 185 houses destroyed. A total of 200,000 people have been affected. Tiandeng recorded 242.8mm in 24 hours to 28 May.” (Floodlist)

Afghanistan: “At least 24 people have died in a new wave of flash flooding that has affected parts of the country. Hundreds of houses have been damaged or destroyed. At least 1 person died and 3 are missing in flash floods that hit the neighbouring South Khorasan province of Iran on 22 May.”

“Afghanistan has been blighted by flood events since early March this year. By mid March, 63 people had died and 31 injured. More than 122,600 people across 14 provinces had been affected and were in need of humanitarian assistance. Further floods hit in late March with at least 13 people losing their lives, and again in early April when over 20 people died.” (Floodlist)

Rep. of Georgia: Heavy rainfall, hail and flooding have caused severe damage to vineyards, which are the main source of income for many households in the southeast of the country. Homes, crops, bridges and roads have all been damaged. (Floodlist)

India: Hundreds of people have been rescued and over 1,000 evacuated to safety after two rivers burst their banks in Tripura province, in the northeast of the country, following heavy monsoon rains. (Floodlist)

Uganda: 8 people are confirmed dead in flooding after intense rainfall hit the region around the capital, Kampala. Floodlist quotes a Red Cross source: “The flash floods have had a devastating effect on the lives of people, livestock, businesses, household items and has affected human settlement. Many people have been displaced…”

Saudi Barbaria: “Heavy rain from 22 May has caused flash flooding in the southwest, prompting dozens of flood rescues and leaving at least 1 person missing.” (Floodlist)

 

Tunnel approaching….

If you were of a mind to go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocGWsGO_DPA at about 6’50” you’d see a graph on Paul Beckwith’s website, produced by Exxon-Mobil’s in-house climate research team, 30 years ago.

It predicts both temperature rise and CO2 concentration from burning fossil fuels.

The warming prediction was absolutely spot-on at 0.89C, by the IPCC’s lights (many climate scientists argue we’re already at 1.85C) but the expected level of CO2 in 2019 was 420 ppm, instead we’re only at 415.7 with peaks over 417. 420 is the prediction for next year.

So there’s plenty more warming baked into the numbers.

It presumably explains why, over the scientists’ heads, the board of Exxon decided to spend $millions on a PR campaign to bamboozle the public into believing the planet isn’t heating and there’s no connection between atmospheric heating and CO2 emissions from burning their oil.

It doesn’t explain why the Trump administration got John Bolton to set up a committee to rubbish the “hoax” science, chaired by a 79-year-old Physics perfesser who says CO2 is getting the same abuse as the “poor Jews” under the Nazis; and that research papers should be “vetted” rather than peer-reviewed.

Antibiotic resistance: “…Some of the world’s best-known rivers, including the Thames, are contaminated with antibiotics classified as critically important for the treatment of serious infections. In many cases they were detected at unsafe levels, meaning resistance is much more likely to develop and spread. Researchers tested 711 sites in 72 countries and found antibiotics in 65% of them. In 111 of the sites, the concentrations of antibiotics exceeded safe levels, with the worst cases more than 300 times over the safe limit.” (Guardian)

Climate emergency: Between 2014 and 2017, the number of jobs in the UK renewable energy sector fell by a third. In the same period, government investment halved. (Report from the Prospect union)

 

Morons corner

Are Americans truly the most stupid, idiotic and gullible of all God’s creatures? Is it something in the water?

The Blessed Mary Greeley continues to stir the pot over a ludicrous myth that NASA is planning to cool-off the Yellowstone magma chamber by pumping lots of water into it.

This story originated about three years ago in a BBC report that said that was exactly what they were not planning to do, but never mind, everyone believes it. (NASA is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, it has nothing whatever to do with volcanoes, except on Mars!)

No-one has ever, so far as I know (apart from me) asked, how much water would it take to cool off 7 cubic miles of 1,000-degree magma, even if the resulting superheated steam explosion didn’t destroy most of the continental United States? Probably the entire contents of the Great Lakes, but don’t tell anyone I said that!

Two weeks ago Greeley reported, or at least repeated, on her otherwise quite informative Yellowstone observation website, that she now bulks out with misunderstood and unchecked news reports, a story that the United Nations is planning to invade an American city to take people’s guns away, as there’s too much violence in the cities.

She prefaced the story with a moan that the authorities are always trying to shut down serious websites that publish information they don’t like.

This most obvious and utterly absurd of fake news conspiracy theories has apparently been taken up by Mr Trump himself, who (according to some obscure source she chooses to believe, and which takes avoiding action by slating the fact-checking website, Snopes, before it can debunk their, er, bunk) has issued an Executive Order. I couldn’t be bothered to keep watching to find out what he was ordering, another double cheeseburger probably.

Tragically, the item is followed by an endless trail of outraged comments from Trump dumbfucks demanding that America declare war or something on the evil United Nations.

How fucking stupid are Americans? It’s unfathomable.

But this not very well educated old woman is being evil, exploiting her clickbait community, who are always praying for her in their weird way, and that’s not a good thing, is it.

There is, as always, some reality behind the unreality, and it is this.

Addressing a rally of the National Rifle Association in Indianapolis on 25 April, Mr Trump sought to gain their approval and funding for his 2020 election campaign by vowing to withold US participation in a proposed UN treaty on global conventional arms control. As small arms are included, Trump argues, it challenges America’s second-amendment constitutional gun rights.

This has been blown up by the NRA propaganda machine into an attempt to take away Americans’ guns.

It’s actually an attempt to limit the proliferation of weapons to terrorists and oppressive regimes that like to spend more money on weapons than on social programs and jobs. It doesn’t in any way threaten  American gun owners’ tiny manhoods.

But you can’t have everything, can you. I don’t suppose there’s a single MAGA dumbfuck who believes that the NRA took $30 million in funding from Russia in 2016 and handed it straight to the Republican party treasury to elect Trump.

Why would they believe it, when it’s true?

 

 

Dude, why are only 59 million people reading my stuff?… Miss you, Mr Mercer… AI-up, robots!… GW: Kickin’ up a storm… Fracking hell.

Quote of the week

“Americans think of themselves first, second, third, fourth, fifth – and if there’s any time left over they think about Americans” – Brazil’s ex-President, Lula da Silva, interviewed in prison, questions Bolsonaro’s deeply unpatriotic love of America.

 

Phenomenal BogPo Prophesies Corner:

A new poll (28 April, 2019) has shown that a three-quarters majority of the British voting public, half whom voted on 23 June 2016 to Leave the EU, now agree that the referendum was a stupid idea in the first place. But here is what your Uncle Bogler wrote in a Post (“Calling in the receivers”) on 24 FEBRUARY, 2016:

“On the morning after he loses and the receivers take over the business, Mr Cameron will announce the closing-down sale of GB plc – henceforth Britain will be available only on-line.

“Within minutes, all the people who couldn’t previously be bothered just because Europe was always there will start flocking to the Channel Tunnel and Heathrow airport, demanding in broken French to be let out before the iron gates clang shut for the last time and all the remaining unsold stock is shipped out to depotland. Sales of garlic, berets, bicycles, Johnny Halliday records and funny sausage will soar.

“I predict, once we leave the EU we will all become much more European.”

And the fatuous Mr Trump boasts of how he cleverly predicted a Leave vote – on 22 June, 2016. Bollocks to him, frankly.

 

Dude, why are only 59 million people reading my stuff?

If anyone has not yet grasped the scale of Trump’s jawdropping narcissism, the following report from CNN, sourced in part to the Washington Post, and also commented upon on YouTube by the wonderful Mike Malloy, will give you some idea. I have provided a mixed account:

“President Donald Trump met with (i.e. he summoned to the White House) Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey on Tuesday, hours after Trump erroneously accused the social media company of “discriminatory” behavior toward conservative users (i.e. himself). The meeting included (in fact it almost exclusively concerned. Ed.) a discussion (more of a tirade, probably) about the disappointing size of Trump’s (59 million) Twitter following (which, he claims, is being deliberately suppressed for political reasons). (He also complained that President Obama has over 100 million Twitter followers, nearly twice as many as he does and all clearly fake.)

Dorsey had to explain to the Tangerine Wunderkind that if accounts are being blocked or taken down, it is invariably because they are abusive and hateful or threatening and don’t meet the guidelines.

“After the meeting, Trump tweeted a photo and wrote, “Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general.”

The fatuous chump has also revived his insane excuse for being elected president, that Britain’s GCHQ was spying on him on the orders of President Obama, on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Nevertheless, he is forcing himself on us with a State visit; HM Queen offering an irresistibly glitzy photo-op to exuberate his post-Mueller dumbfucks.

Give us a break, Donald.

 

“How vain and incurious does anyone have to be, to accept when someone offers to pay them £350 an hour, just for the use of their name?”

“Miss you, Mr Mercer” – with any luck

From BBC News, 24 April:

“A company that marketed a failed bond scheme that lost savers £236m has been funding an MP’s private salary. Johnny Mercer receives £85,000 from Crucial Academy, a company ultimately funded by Surge Financial Limited … (which) took 25% commission for marketing bonds (issued) by London Capital & Finance (LC&F), which is now in administration. Mr Mercer – who is facing calls from investors to quit as an MP – said he had done nothing wrong.” (Mr Mercer denies that Crucial Academy receives funding from LC&F.)

Is everyone totally blindsided by, say, Brexit, Trump, Greta Thunberg or the difficulty of getting through central London over the supergluey bodies of climate protesters?

Your Boglmeister, I have previously pointed out that London Capital & Finance may well turn out to be the most glaring example of a Ponzi scheme since Bernie Madoff started his several lifetimes feasting on all porridge and no molasses. Sadly, no such fate may befall the directors of LC&F, but we shall see.

With unbelievably crude deviousness, a number of companies appear to have been set up behind the brass plate of Surge Financial Limited, apparently by this Mr Paul Careless, a perfect case of nominative determinism, at the forefront of which was LC&F, which advertised – using a Brighton-based agency called Surge, also owned by Mr Careless, on a quite desirable budget of £60 million, which would buy a few Porsches – unregulated investments returning an improbable 8%, mainly to gullible old pension holders whose stored-up pots of dosh were freed from restrictions by the previous Tory Chancellor, George “Eight jobs” Osborne, prior to his departure in 2016.

The funnel-mouth of London & Capital was then, one gathers from reports, used to suck in investors’ cash to finance all of the directors’ subsidiary companies, money seemingly not Carefully invested in other stocks or mutuals offering competitive terms. It looks like precisely the sort of rapacious operation financial pundits were warning would set up shop in the wake of Osborne’s free-market policy, to separate gullible oldies from their dreams of high-spec campervans and round-the-world cruises.

The breezily named Johnny Mercer MP, a litigiously engaging dimwit (he is suing the BBC for this) not to be confused with the actually rather clever late American songwriter of that ilk, already receives a salary close to £80 thousand a year from the taxpayer, plus £130 thousand Parliamentary expenses, so he must have been in dire need of the extra £85 thousand a year he gets from Surge – sorry, “Crucial Academy”, another company also owned by Careless and chums, that is, he claims, entirely financially independent of LC&F – that does wondrous good works, training Army veterans to survive in the world of employment.

Signed last year to add some small weight to the proceedings, Mercer is either another greedy political chancer or otherwise too naive a useful idiot to be an MP. I suspect it is the latter, judging by his yelping protestations of innocence – which can be understood, given that four directors closer to the center of operations have been questioned by the Serious Fraud Office. It certainly looks like he has been used as a patsy, to front-up what to others might seem a bit of a con.

A related business doing charitable stuff for Our Heroes is possibly the most obvious PR front for internal money-washing it would be possible to imagine – not that Mr Mercer, an ex-Army officer himself, would have noticed, as his role as a non-executive director occupies him for just 20 hours a month, and for what?

How vain and incurious does anyone not much in the public eye have to be, to accept when someone offers to pay them £350 an hour, just for the use of their name and face?

Crucial is only one of several subsidiary companies through which £236 million of investors’ pension funds and life savings seems to have “surged” like hot soapy water through champagne glasses in a dishwasher, and ultimately “Vanish”-ed down the plughole. (You’re fired. Metaphor abuse. Ed.)

What is so peculiar about this whole affair, however, is how the media – such as the BBC, whose reporting has illuminated this Post, and well done at least for bringing the story to light – and even Private Eye’s “Slicker” column is still portraying LC&F as some kind of genuine investment opportunity that has hit a patch of bad luck.

Of course it was a bloody Ponzi scheme! What else?

Wake up, BBC dimwits.

 

AI-up, robots!

In 1976, I sold my one and only ever published work of deliberate fiction, a short story for which I was paid a handsome £100.

You might be too young to remember the world in them days, like what I do, but there was no social media, no iPhones or Androids, no Google or eMail or Sky TV showing 40 channels of adult entertainment.

Not even the ubiquitous, clunky IBM desktop PCs that predated the thinline laptop computer and the incomprehensible phablet by more than three decades were yet much heard or known about outside academic circles.

In 1976, people didn’t go around annoyingly saying “like” or “cool” every other word, Game of Thrones hadn’t been mentioned in a plug even once. We’d been a member of the European Economic Community for less than three years, so our British Leyland cars still rusted to bits within months, no-one holidayed abroad in case of foreign food, and Britain’s bananas were still bent.

Nor was there yet Thatcher; except as the mean-spirited education minister who stopped the children’s free milk ration. (That’s the way to get to be leader of the Tory party.)

My story resulted from a sort of commission from the editor of Computer Age magazine, into whom I had accidentally run outside the dungeon headquarters of the London Broadcasting Company in Gough Square, just behind Fleet Street.

I was a journalist of sorts, working freelance, and Meyer Solomon had been a guest on a show from which he was recovering on the same bench, incidentally, where I also met Anthony Burgess. We got chatting, and I offered him five thousand words fresh hewn from my IBM “golfball” typewriter, without any idea at that stage of what they would be about, and he took my arm off, as they say.

“Hello, Mr Chips” emerged shortly thereafter, from my fertile brain.

The story concerned Kevin, a schoolboy with issues you would nowadays identify as autistic spectrum disorders – issues like ADHD and Asperger’s, that had no catchy names in those days. So incapable of benefiting from the standard socialized education model was Kevin, that he had to be excluded from school, and a special experimental computer program created to teach him.

Kevin becomes deeply upset and troubled, and runs away when it’s proposed that his beloved teaching computer should be replaced by an advanced model. However, returned to his home he is intrigued to find that his new Mark 11 teacher is a fully functioning android programmed with what we now know as Artificial Intelligence, AI, called Mr Chips (see what I did there?*).

And then – spoiler alert – in the final denouement, Kevin’s older sister, who has been eyeing him speculatively for a while, runs off and elopes with Mr Chips.

Which is where the story gets spooky, because 43 years then go by, I’ve spent the hundred quid, and a well-remunerated famous writer who is not me, sadly, Ian McEwan, publishes this week a shortform novel (his are never overlong), “Machines Like Me”, in which – as the Private Eye books reviewer tells me, I haven’t read it – “A couple acquire a synthetic human and a love triangle duly develops”.

On top of my advanced, Nostradamus-like prognostications concerning not only our modern understanding of spectrum disorders like ADHD, and developments in educational computing and dedicated robotics, but also uncannily prefiguring cases like that of the precocious 15-year-old “M.S.” (we’re probably still not allowed to mention her by name), a nubile student and her 30-year-old art teacher paramour, poor Jeremy Forrest, who might just be coming out of jail about now after serving half of a monstrously unjust sentence for kidnapping a minor (infatuated, she persuaded the nitwit to take her to France, where nobody batted an eyelid), the problem of exclusions from schools is also a hot topic today; although I hadn’t foreseen the kind of Tory cuts that would have made it impossible to supply Kevin with a broken abacus, let alone an android.

How cool was that?

I ought, I suppose, to be proud of my astonishing capacity to peer into the future in so many regards. However, even I was beaten to the presumptive threat of AI by Isaac Asimov (IA!), who cottoned on in the late 1950s to the notion that one day, computers would grow so sophisticated as to replace us; and indeed, predicted that a supercomputer would eventually replace God as the machine creator of a new universe, out of all the stored data of the old (thus prefiguring Google by 50 years).

Now, that was one hell of a story!

*For younger readers, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” is a 1939 British romantic drama starring Oscar-winning Robert Donat, based on a 1934 novella by James Hilton. The story concerns Chipping, a much-loved schoolteacher who recalls his career and personal life over the decades. It was voted by BFI members the 72nd best film of all time.

 

GW: Kickin’ up a storm

Mozambique: is being battered for a record second time in a month by a Cat 4 cyclone, Kenneth, with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph and a 4m storm surge. Latest, 28 April: Pemba, regional capital of Cabo Delgado state, has experienced more than 2m (6.5ft) of rain and flooding. The situation in the  towns of Macomia and Quissanga was critical, and there are also worries for the cut-off island of Ibo. Waves up to 4m high are also expected, and aid agencies fear rains will worsen over the next four days. 700 thousand people are said to be directly at risk.

Late on Wednesday, the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said she feared the region faced “another humanitarian catastrophe” following Cyclone Idai, which killed up to 1000 last month and left 2m in need of aid. There is no previous record of hurricane-force systems ever hitting the region so far north before, BBC Weather reports – let alone twice at Cat 2 or more in one season. Having already killed 3 people in the Comoros islands, the slow-moving storm is expected to bring 0.8m of rain to some areas of the country. (BBC News)

Uganda: “A storm that brought hail, strong winds and heavy rain to parts of eastern Uganda on 23 April has left at least 18 people dead and displaced around 900, according to local media. The storm hit during the early hours causing flooding in Buyende and Kamuli districts. As many as 140 people were injured, and houses and livestock severely damaged.” (Floodlist)

British Isles: are being battered currently by Storm Hannah, with 85 mph wind gusts, power cuts, big waves, heavy rain and fallen trees causing travel disruption. Yellow flood warnings out across the west of the UK. It’s quite late in the Atlantic storm season and some trees here have been stripped of their soft spring growth, their blossom, with fallen branches everywhere. (BBC)

Italy: Severe weather, including stormy seas and strong winds, affected parts of Italy from around 22 to 24 April. Heavy rain increased river levels in parts of Tuscany and Liguria. As of 24 April, at least 1 person had died and rescue workers were searching for 2 women swept away by the flooding Letimbro River in Santuario. Earlier, media reported that 1 person died in high waves along the coast of Porto Corallo on the island of Sardinia. (Floodlist) A low pressure ridge is bringing torrential rainfall, heavy hail and strong winds from the Balkans northeast as far as Russia. (Severe-weather.eu)

USA: Yet more “Severe thunderstorms hit northern and central Texas from 23 April, bringing strong winds, hail, heavy rain and flash floods. A warehouse near Bryan was destroyed. Dallas Love Field recorded 91 mm (3.6 in.) of rain in 24 hours. 3 people died when a vehicle was swept off a road by flood water in Erath County early on 24 April.” 1 person survived by clinging to a tree. More severe storms are forecast for the weekend. (Floodlist) After a warmer than average week, snow is returning to portions of the northern Midwestern states, with heavy rain and more flooding expected across the Great Plains. (The Weather Channel)

Canada: Around 8 thousand people have been forced to leave their homes in communiies near Montreal as flooding caused dikes to collapse. Communities in Quebec are on evacuation alert and the army has been called out as flooding emergencies are declared locally. Rising river levels are threatening the collapse of a large dam, Bell Falls, near Ottawa. Peak flow may not be for another two weeks and record levels are expected, thanks to the spring melt of an unusually large snowpack – while further major rainfall events are forecast. (Paul Beckwith) Prof Beckwith also reports on new research showing higher ocean temperatures are leading to stronger winds and rougher seas, bigger waves – so far by about 8% since 1950.

 

Fracking hell

The commissioner will be a contact point for residents, to listen to their concerns, refer them to relevant and factual research and help improve communication with regulators and industry. – YouGov website

Former Labour MP, Natascha Engel was appointed as Britain’s “fracking tsar” six months ago, by the business secretary, Greg Clarke. Today, she has stepped down, complaining that over-regulation is stifling the nascent industry, making her job impossible; and that the government has allowed itself to be bullied by a “tiny minority” of noisy environmental NGOs that have profited at the nation’s expense.

It’s a clear case of what used to be known in diplomatic corps circles as “going native”, the total abandonment of any pretence at independence being considered quite a grave crime in the old colonial days.

Ms Engel’s resignation letter is quoted in today’s Observer. It will astonish anyone even vaguely familiar with the arguments against fracking – “hydraulic fracturing”, to give the practice its proper name:

“A perfectly viable and exciting new industry that could help meet our carbon reduction targets, make us energy secure and provide jobs in parts of the country that really need them is in danger of withering on the vine – not for any technical or safety reasons, but because of a political decision.

“The UK could be on the cusp of an energy revolution the like of which we have not seen since the discovery of North Sea oil and gas.”

Having worked in the PR and promotions business for a few unexciting years, your Old Granny can vouch for the assiduous attention to her clients’ vanity found in Ms Engel’s copywriting efforts; assuming she wrote the letter herself. The fracking tsarina goes on to make further points in favour of this incredibly brutal and polluting method of extracting methane from shale deposits, for instance:

“Engel complained that a traffic light system that halts fracking when a tremor with a magnitude of M0.5 is recorded ‘amounts to a de facto ban'” – claiming that no other country, for instance the United States, sets such a low bar.

Would that a similar rule had been imposed in Colorado, then, where the number of recorded earth tremors in what was not previously known as a particularly active area has gone from three a year to over 800 since Mr Harold Hamm the Fracking King (net worth $14.1 billion) started operations 30 years ago; while their magnitude, their destructive power has steadily increased from below M1.5 to M5 and upwards.

Google supplies the following helpful note: “Beneath Britain the Earth’s crust is crisscrossed with ancient cracks, or fault lines, which are constantly under stress. … Tremors are not uncommon in Britain. Each year, the British Geological Survey (BGS) records between 200 to 300 separate events.” Indeed, a M4.2 was recorded in the Channel last year, and a Big One is not entirely unanticipated at some stage. The crude splitting of shale deposits under enormous pressure has already produced a number of significant earth tremors, which Ms Engel dismisses as “no more than the rumbling of a tube train” (I paraphrase).

Engel too is blithe to the evidence of rising methane emissions directly from fracking operations, methane being a greenhouse gas up to 100 times more infra-red absorbent than CO2, to which it slowly decays – and to the scientific fact that when you boil your breakfast egg, burning natural gas gives off CO2 and water vapour: both greenhouse gases.

She appears to be willing to ignore research conducted by her former party that sugggests fracking operations of the size envisaged in Britain would eventually produce an additional CO2 burden equivalent to another 289 million cars, instead suggesting that extracting and burning more fossil fuel will somehow enable us to meet our emissions targets sooner – a trope frequently employed by climate change deniers being that the CO2 produced from natural gas – methane – is somehow cleaner and better for us than that emitted from burning oil and coal.

Evidence also from the USA of grossly polluted and overextracted groundwater basins damaging agriculture and residential communities, of pipeline leaks and of methane gas seeping under pressure into domestic plumbing systems seems somewhat at odds with Engel’s wild claims for fracking’s positive impacts on local communities – evidence that is as yet nowhere to be found in the UK as fracking has had only limited success to date, operations being frequently halted as the M0.5 tremor limit has so frequently been exceeded.

Nor is her rosy vision of local communities welcoming the investment remotely in accordance with the facts.

What on earth is this silly woman up to? Has she not noticed that environmental protest is the flavour of the month?

Here again is the old “job creation” argument: fracking is good for jobs. (We already have record low unemployment, but carry on…)

The plain fact is, your Granny observes, that these capital-intensive engineering projects tend to rely on imported, specialized labour forces until they are up and running, whereafter they operate semi-autonomously on a routine service and maintenance basis, until they are abandoned and ultimately, one hopes, decommissioned. They do not create significant numbers of permanent jobs for local people in the deprived rural areas Engel refers to, from where the younger, employable pool of labour have mostly emigrated to the cities in any case.

By extension, her belief in the job creation possibilities of fracking produces a”£7 billion a year” economic advantage to the Treasury, money we could be spending on hospitals… er, ring any bells? The prospect seems doubtful, however, as much of the revenue will certainly be eaten up in tax rebates and loopholes, concessions enabling Cuadrilla to maximise its profitability through the early years. The £7 bn she claims we are losing could equally well be invested in non-polluting renewables, that will also produce a return for the Chancellor to spend on pothole repairs.

Your Granny notices too, several more inconsistencies in her lengthy missive. Engel boasts that Britain has the best regulated fracking industry in the world. Except that, she complains, regulation is preventing the industry from progressing and so she would like to see less! The process, she claims, is “materially no different” from other methods of hydrocarbon extraction. Then she goes on to try to explain why it is in fact very different, an entirely “new industry”, and much better for us… Make up your mind, deary.

It would be churlish, and probably libellous, to suggest that this woman’s future career prospects might be materially enhanced by her willingness to say these things that no self-respecting, right-minded ex-Labour MP ought to be saying, as they are at best highly controversial and on a bad day, according to independent experts, blatant industry propaganda. From what she writes, she appears to be arguing in favour of doing the maximum possible damage, both to the environment and to the fissiparous geology of the British Isles, merely for the short-term gain of a business whose interests she was supposed to be balancing against those of local communities; not that she was supposed to be blatantly promoting them.

That she has gone is a hopeful sign. That her departure might have some negative impact in a week when her old party boss, Mr Corbyn is hoping Parliament will declare a national climate emergency, is possibly not.

(Original reporting, Observer and various news media, 28 April)

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

donald trump

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

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

There has to be a reason

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

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

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

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

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

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

It seems inconceivable in this day and age.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Will we hold them to this pledge?

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

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

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

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

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

And we don’t have 25 years, sorry.

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

 

Trump has the media exactly where he wants them

Kick him out!

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

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

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

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

He doesn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Can we trust economists?

Best practice

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

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

 

Feurquières tous!

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

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

Are we maybe talking Englishwoman here?

 

GW: Sweep-up in Seattle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World: The oceans are warming fast.

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

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

 

POZI-NEWS

A great new feature accentuating the POZITIV!

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

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

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

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

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

A bribe, in other words.

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

 

School’s Out!

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

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

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

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

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