A New World Order… The Presidency racket… GW: Still blowin’ hot and cold.

“Today’s historic event is attributed to the vision, courage, and moral clarity of one person to whom we owe an enormous and eternal debt of gratitude: President Donald J Trump.” Washington’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, kissing furry golden ass on the occasion of the repurposing of the US consulate in Jerusalem as a monstrous standing provocation to the stalled Middle East peace effort.

“Welcome to England, Mr President…”

A New World Order

“Re-imposing sanctions on Iran will create the greatest division between Europe and the U.S. since the Iraq War, Mark Fitzpatrick, the executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies office in Washington, told me. “Only this time it will be worse, since not a single European state sides with the U.S. on this matter.” Beyond Europe, American credibility worldwide “will go down the tubes,” he said. “Who will ever want to strike a deal with a country that, without cause, pulls out of a deal that everyone else knows has been working well?” – Robin Wright, in The New Yorker magazine, 10 May.

Perhaps somebody could make the same point to Theresa May and the treacherous little shits and Russian-cash-soaked millionaires behind the Brexit plot?

That blithely tearing up 45 years’ worth of carefully negotiated and complex multinational manufacturing, trade and customs agreements, safety standards, environmental controls and workers’ and consumers’ rights with our European partners – and hence, the wider trade networks with 60 countries more easily accessed through the EU – sent a signal to every country in the world that “perfidious Albion” is just a bunch of embittered fantasists and amoral hooligans who cannot be trusted to stick to our agreements and stand by our allies, ever again.

Sadly, it seems to be symptomatic of a new world order in which greed, caprice, emotion and whimsy rule in an atmosphere of celebratory ignorance and anti-intellectualism, encouraged and funded by a new, largely hidden elite of unelected data capitalists and money-movers whose interests lie mainly in breaking apart the democratic consensus and pulling down its institutions. Those – and attempting through amassing vast personal wealth to escape the lethal consequences of the self-interest of previous generations of capitalists.

Much of what we do see is sleight-of-hand: distraction and deflection, setting up straw targets manufactured from the tropes of past conflicts: class warfare is back on the agenda, with a leavening of stirred-up racial tensions; as now with Israeli dissembling over their actions in Syria – the old, childish game of “Oh, but THEY started it!” – is the prospect of a genuine war we seem too apathetic and bored to stop.

And who benefits? Yawn… just watch the price of oil.

 

“… he doesn’t like them earning money at his expense”

The Presidency racket

The Cohen affair in the USA has gone way beyond the Stormy Daniels payment.

Allegations are swirling around the possible creation of a secret $5 million slush fund run by Cohen, the President’s closest legal advisor, built up from payments by industrialists buying access to the White House and sanctioned Russian oligarchs seeking relief and a safe haven for their dirty money.

Outed by the media (which Mr Trump has again been vigorously trolling in the past few days, he publicly admits in order to discredit any real news inimical to his interests), companies found to be paying into the fund have given only shifty reasons, claiming for instance to have been employing Cohen as a consultant in a variety of capacities in which he hasn’t the slightest qualification.

It’s beyond satire. The corporations implicated are huge and do not require the services of an averagely incompetent legal consultant, having thousands of their own and access to the best. But they are terrified of the effect the wayward President and his sloppy, intemperate tweets might have on their share prices. And they think that through Cohen they can get closer to the Orange Effulgence.

The discovery of this hitherto unsuspected funnel of cash pouring into a decidedly gray, unaccounted area of the Trump 2020 re-election campaign through what appears to be little more than a barely legal climate of extortion and patronage has highlighted the incredible number of former and current corporate lobbyists now employed inside the Trump administration, said to be approaching two hundred.

Far from “draining The Swamp” of corporate lobbying in Washington – one of his big campaign promises to the screaming dumbfucks, who will never be disillusioned no matter what – Trump is seemingly determined to fill it up with placemen loyal to him, at least financially, while – it is suggested – benefiting personally like a mafia boss from a steady stream of kickbacks and commissions bubbling up through the mire from lobbying fees paid by corporations to government employees – of whom Trump, did he but realize it, is one.

As is being said, in the same way he doesn’t like his people getting more media attention than he does, he doesn’t like them making loads of money at his expense.

Due tribute must be paid.

Accordingly, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell have proposed a startling theory about many of Trump’s seemingly deranged, out-of-the-blue attacks and dire threats he tweets against companies – like Ford Motors – and even other countries, pointing out that the first thing his “victims” always do is employ more lobbyists to try to avert his wrath; who in turn may be paying a chunk of their enhanced fee income into the Cohen piggybank, which has been used, among other things, to buy off embarrassing people like Stephanie Clifford (Daniels).

What else might it be being used for? We assume that releasing his tax returns, which he stubbornly refuses to do, might indeed raise questions as to the sources of much of his income.

Even major foreign policy decisions such as the controversial withdrawal from the Iran nuclear nonproliferation treaty, that threatens to widen the conflict in the Middle East, could benefit Trump personally through the enhanced lobbying activity it will undoubtedly cause in The Swamp, as well as use of his hotels by official State delegations, from which – despite the emoluments clause – he continues to profit.

By “draining The Swamp”, few perhaps suspected Trump meant “bleeding it dry”….

Yet few took seriously his repeated assertions on the campaign trail that he was always greedy for more money. They thought he was making a self-effacing joke. Only he doesn’t do those. He rarely self-effaces – he frequently self-incriminates. He knows he can get away with anything, always has, always will, so it doesn’t matter – a sort of reverse fifth amendment.

If this bears out – and much of the speculation started with Daniels’ canny lawyer, Michael Avenatti – it would surely be evidence of staggering top-level corruption, extortion and conspiracy to add to the litany of Trump’s calumnies: collusion with Russia, damaging foreign and domestic policy initiatives, bullying, aiding and abetting money-laundering, endless lies and incompetence that has attached to this extraordinary “made-for-TV” individual since he was doubtfully elected by just three heavily gerrymandered constituencies only 16 months ago.

No doubt the Special Counsel, Bob Mueller will be keen to get to the truth of these assertions, if he hasn’t already; just one more reason for Trump to be desperately angling for ways to make his inquiry go away.

To get a flavor of what is now being discussed, go to

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3IbcvpeGCw

Oh, wait, there’s more…

I turn this morning to the delightful Joy Reid, MSNBC’s weekend breakfast show gal, for further news.

So, you remember last month the FBI raided the files of Michael Cohen, Trump’s “fixer”? Now at his team’s request the Southern District court has appointed a Special Master to go through the files to see what can be used as evidence and what is protected by attorney-client privilege.

And she’s received a letter this week from a lawyer called Gleason, requesting that letters he exchanged with Cohen in 2013 be protected on grounds that their release would infringe his own clients’ rights to privacy.

Who were his clients? Why, two “women”, alleging sexual harassment by Eric Schneiderman, who resigned just last Monday from his position as New York’s Attorney-General over similar allegations by four other women who have just come forward.

Why is this relevant? Because, so Vanity Fair magazine suggests, instead of bringing a case against Schneiderman through the normal legal channels, Gleason apparently took the story to the National Enquirer magazine, a scandal sheet owned by Trump’s friend David Pecker (no, seriously), who in turn seems to have passed it on to Cohen in his capacity as Trump’s attorney.

Why he do dat?

What had the matter to do with Trump? Well, Schneiderman was at the time looking into Trump’s phony “Trump University” scam, over which Trump would later have to settle $25 million to compensate his many victims. Remember, this was back in 2013, long before Trump launched his bid to steal the presidency.

Trump then tweeted out that Schneiderman (with the usual dismissive insults about his capabilities) was linked with Anthony Weiner, who would three years later have his emails hacked as part of the attempt to discredit Hillary Clinton and get a gaol sentence for sexually harrassing a teenage Democratic party staffer. No kidding, he texted her sexts of his Wiener. These people are beyond satire.)

How did Trump know about Weiner’s behavior at that stage? He could only have known if he was running an operation through Cohen to dig and retain “dirt” on various possibly useful individuals who, like him, had been accused of sexual impropriety; a kind of boys’ club for serial pussy-grabbers.

Cohen, as we now know, was operating a fund to buy off and/or threaten women complainants, and revelatresses like Stormy Daniels. So it now seems plausible from what various media outlets are reporting that Trump’s strategy was to use sexual blackmail against people he wanted to shut up, or to do bad stuff for him.

Where it gets really messy, however, is – as reported above – that some very large and respectable (supposedly) corporations, including an investment fund whose largest shareholder is a Russian oligarch close to Putin, have been paying very large sums into the fund, supposedly to employ the inept but brusque Cohen as a consultant; but in practice, to gain access to the White House.

Or was it for murkier purposes?

And it’s being suggested the money sitting in a Delaware-registered shell company owned by Cohen – who has reportedly paid himself over a million dollars out of it – might also be available for his boss’s personal use.

Watch various spaces – this one could run and run.

x

GW: Still blowin’ hot and cold.

Arctic: Weather.com reports that temperatures in the Arctic are hovering around the zero deg. C  mark yet again, 35C above the 1981-2010 average for the time of year. Wunderground makes the point that it has been colder in some northerly US states during April than it’s been at the North Pole. The Norway Ice Service reports the loss of 32,000 sq miles of ice in just three days last week. NOAA concludes that the multi-year trend to a hot Arctic could not be happening without a rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

Australia: “Storms in Tasmania have caused severe flash flooding in the capital Hobart and south eastern areas of the state. (The) Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said that 129 mm of rain fell in Hobart in 24 hours to early 11 May, 2018 (local time). Mount Wellington recorded 236 mm of rain during the same period.” Over 1 thousand lightning strokes were recorded.

“Scientists in New Zealand have documented what they believe is the largest wave ever recorded in the southern hemisphere. The 23.8m (78ft) wave was measured by a buoy on New Zealand’s Campbell Island in the Southern Ocean on 08 May.”

Canada: around 3000 people have been told to evacuate their homes in British Columbia as rivers peak half a meter above records going back 200 years, due to a heatwave producing rapid snowmelt. “The flood water in British Colombia rivers has made its way downriver and into Washington state, USA, where the governor has declared a state of emergency.”

Kenya: “A dam has burst overnight 09 May, after heavy rain, causing “huge destruction” and killing at least 44 people. The breach happened in the town of Solai, 190km (120 miles) north-west of the capital, Nairobi. The Kenyan Red Cross says it has rescued 39 people so far. Hundreds are said to have been left homeless.” 150 people are known to have died in widespread floods this year.

Ecuador: 70 mm of rain in 24 hours causes local flooding in El Oro province.

Colombia: Baranquila underwater. If you want to know what mother nature thinks of cars, watch 9 minutes of citizen journalism on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xmd7K-k6Duo from 04′.42″.

China: Quangjou, Fujian province underwater. 3 dead, 2 missing. Luchuan, Gianxi province underwater. 72,000 people affected, 4,500 Ha crops lost.

Sri Lanka: The start of the monsoon season (as last year) has brought immediate flooding with some 8000 people so far affected. “As much as 166 mm of rain was recorded in Galle in 24 hours to 12 May.”

Iraq; 4 killed in Duhok floods, Kurdistan.

Italy: “Homes and businesses were flooded in San Polo, Tuscany after an intense storm dumped over 50 mm of rain in about 3 hours. The storm hit d “uring the afternoon of 08 May, 2018, flooding areas near Sinalunga (Siena province), San Polo in Chianti (Florence) and Volterra (Pisa).” Legnano, Northern Italy, massive hailstorm, rivers of ice, etc.

Germany: “Severe thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain affected parts of Germany on10 May, 2018. Flash flooding was reported in Hamburg and areas of Schleswig-Holstein, where emergency services received over 2,000 calls for help. The Schleswig-Holstein town of Quickborn, north west of Oststeinbek, recorded 58.7 mm of rain in 24 hours to early 11 May. 42 mm fell in just 30 minutes.”

Elsewhere in Germany a severe hailstorm affected Rhön-Grabfeld in Bavaria

Greece: Flash-flooding in Thessaloniki after torrential rainstorm.

UK: Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade and climate spokesman, said: “2018 is the year when countries have been asked by the UN to ratchet up their commitments on climate change. Instead our government is actually proposing to count emissions savings made from as far back as 2010 towards fulfilling their obligations in the next decade from 2021-2030.”

Hurricanes: The Eastern Pacific hurricane season officially starts on May 15. “… for the second year in a row, we have the potential to see a record-early start to the season. A concentrated area of heavy thunderstorms … 1200 miles southwest of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, had acquired plenty of spin, but was not yet organized enough to be labeled a tropical depression. Conditions were favorable for development (NHC: 70%), with … sea surface temperatures … 28°C (82°F), about 1°C above average. The first name on the Eastern Pacific list of storm names in 2018 is Aletta.”

Anyway, it’s not on track to make landfall anywhere. Meanwhile, on the other side of the isthmus:

“The peak season for Atlantic storms, which officially starts on 1 June, is set to spur as many as 18 named storms, with up to five of them developing into major hurricanes, according to separate forecasts from North Carolina State University and Colorado State University.” – Guardian

However, Bob Henson at Wunderground speculates that while rising sea temperatures may provide additional energy and precipitation to storm systems, rising air temperatures in future may inhibit the formation of defined hurricanes.

Weather.com/ BBC News/ Wunderground/ CEWN #117

 

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Yearning for a credible alternative… Support the zad… GW: stripped to me undies in the rain and snow… Bring on the ecopolypse… The fuckwitted booby… Memory Lane: Depression Blue.

“You could drive a bus through these legs…!
Bestriding the narrow world like a Colossus, our new Home Secretary vows with his reinforced trousers to fix the Windrush migrant crisis, before joining the Hard Brexit party and chucking out all the… er….

 

Yearning for a credible alternative

Here’s a long list of indictments for you to be going on with:

  • 100 thousand more children in absolute poverty than a year ago.
  • 120 thousand children living more than 6 months in temporary accommodation.
  • Housing starts remaining static; targets on social and affordable housing not being met.
  • House prices flatlined or falling.
  • Failure to make promised safety reforms in the wake of the Grenfell House fire.
  • Campaign of disinformation against critics of the government’s inaction in the wake of the fire.
  • Continuing welfare and benefit cuts affecting the poorest, e.g. “two children” policy; “universal credit” fiasco.
  • 1.2 million free “3-day” ration packs dispensed by food banks in 2017 to registered users.
  • Continuing “austerity” cuts to vital public services, including local authority, police, road repairs.
  • NHS in almost permanent crisis of undercapacity, staff shortages and mismatch of resources.
  • Little progress made on mental healthcare, especially for teens.
  • Failure to tackle shortages of social care beds and staff and integrate patient care across sectors.
  • Rising rate of violent crime; failure to tackle cybercrime (underresourced policing).
  • Failure to deal rationally and pragmatically with totally failed drugs policy.
  • Universities in meltdown over fees, falling rolls, demotivated lecturers and greedy Vice-Chancellors.
  • Schools having to beg parents for money to buy teachers, books and other essentials; support “grey” kids.
  • Mrs May’s disastrous “hostile” immigration policies resulting in incompetence, cruelty and injustice.
  • Failure to resolve post-Brexit status of legal EU residents here and Brits abroad.
  • Soaring cost of mostly successful immigration and disability “fit for work” appeals.
  • Massive cuts in legal aid making the law available only to the wealthy.
  • Continuing high wastage and incompetence in defence and computer procurement.
  • Failures of outsourcing partners, e.g. Carillion, Capita. Criticisms of G4S.
  • Continuing inability to address the additional costs to public finances of PPI projects.
  • Feeble and overly prolonged negotiations over the Brexit withdrawal arrangements.
  • Major split in the party over Brexit tactics; “magical thinking” on the Irish border issue.
  • Certifiable lunatics, failures and joke figures in seemingly unassailable positions; eg. Johnson, Gove, Williamson.
  • Long overdue reforms in the banking, money-laundering and offshore investments sectors.
  • High-level unminuted meetings with Russia-connected ‘hard Brexit’ thinktank The Legatum Institute.
  • Acceptance of almost £1 million in party donations from Russian exiles in London.
  • Dependence on DUP votes, a party having unexplained financial links to the Leave.EU campaign.
  • Attempts to bypass the sovereignty of Parliament; attacks on the Lords and the courts.
  • Impotence in the face of data breaches and other internet-related issues.
  • Failure to tackle large-scale corporate tax avoidance and offshoring of untaxed funds.
  • Sleaze and bullying culture in Westminster.
  • No attempt to tackle the problems of unearned CEO pay and bonuses.
  • Slavish support for Trump’s dangerously incoherent foreign policies (maybe not the Iran deal, but if it’s war? …).
  • GDP growth slowed to 0.1% in the first quarter of 2018
  • Being taken to court in  Europe for pathetic response to air pollution regulations …..

And of course, whenever any of these points are put to the very junior ministers and ex-ministers who do sometimes dare to go on radio and TV to answer journalists’ anodyne questions, what do we always hear?

“Oh, but we’re throwing lots more money at the problem, so there’s no problem. The experts are wrong.”

But they don’t mean it. The money is invariably already allocated and will simply be moved around at the expense of some other budget – more likely, not reallocated at all.

The Tory party: all smirk and mirrors.

It is quite beyond me how, after almost ten years in power, this headline-driven, rotten, heartless and inept government can still find a single person in Britain willing to vote for them, who is not out of their head on their designer drug of choice. And yet their poll lead is widening as Jeremy havers over Brexit, pissing off two-thirds of Labour voters who voted to remain.

Ending in a draw, the local elections seem to have been a case of “anybody but Jeremy”. (Incidentally, following the ‘draw’ at the polls it still appears from the numbers that there remain almost exactly twice as many Labour councillors in England than there are Conservatives…)

Possibly because the media tend to hype local government elections as a barometer of voter intentions for the next General Election, people forget that Councillor Jim Figgis from the next street has no influence over anything other than the binbag collections, meals on wheels and library closures. National issues are not relevant.

Or maybe not, and that’s why voters still feel they can vote Tory at the local level while yearning for a credible alternative in Westminster.

Don’t do it, it only encourages them.

 

“(Macron) sits in a primary school classroom. He speaks about the zad for a little over a minute, “republican order must be returned” he says, and “everything that was to be evacuated has already been evacuated”. As he speaks a hundred and fifty concussion grenades are launched in less than half an hour in the Lama Sacrée field, the explosions echo across the bocage, bursting the ear drums of those nearby…”

Support the zad

You may very probably not have heard of the zad.

It’s not the kind of thing the mainstream media owners like people to know about.

Thousands of protestors holding a huge area of land originally zoned for a new airport have daily since 8 April been battling against eviction by 2,500 riot police armed with plastic bullets, teargas and plastic fragmentation grenades, causing dozens of casualties.

Squatters who have lived on the site for a decade or more, occupying abandoned farmsteads, building their own camps, a complete rural society, a small township sprang up and has persisted as a kind of independent state. The airport plan was abandoned two years ago, but the French authorities, who can be pretty authoritarian, seem to have just gotten tired of this successful alternative anti-capitalist way of living. Despite the clever, mostly peaceful – ironic, even – tactics of the resisters, it all sounds pretty brutal, in the customary way of the French police.

Where is the zad?

It’s outside Nantes, in Brittany, near a village (scheduled to be bulldozed) called Notre-Dame-des-Landes – and it puts the “Swampy” occupations of 1980s British planning atrocities to shame; although we shall see what transpires once the British government starts trying to evict nice, middle-class, elderly people from the site of the new runway at Heathrow, bulldozing pretty, wisteria-clad C18th villages heartily redolent of our vanishing traditional British values.

“There is so much gas, we can no longer see beyond our stinging, running noses. The police are being pressurised simultaneously from the other side of the road by a large militant crowd with gas masks, makeshift shields, stones, slingshots and tennis rackets to return the grenades. They are playing hide and seek from behind the trees. The armoured car begins to push the barricade, some of us climb onto the roof of the two story wooden cabin, others try to retreat without crushing the beautiful vegetable plot. It’s over, the end of another collective living space on the zone. Then we hear a roar from the other side of the barricade. Dozens of figures emerge from the forest, molotov cocktails fly, one hits the APC, flames rise from the armour and the wild roar transforms itself into a cry of pure joy.”

That this incredible battle has been raging just a few hundred miles from here without comment, even from The Guardian and other faintly leftwing media, is astonishing. It is, after all, a powerful echo of “les événements” of exactly fifty years ago. Ah, 1968… The zad writes, collectively:

“From making our own bread to running a pirate radio station, planting herbal medicine gardens to making rebel camembert, a rap recording studio to a pasta production workshop, an artisanal brewery to two blacksmiths’ forges, a communal justice system to a library and even a full scale working lighthouse – the zad has become a new commune for the 21st century.

And we can’t have that, can we. There’s no room for nonconformity in little Macron’s unimaginative, dull and soulless technocracy.

For a good long read, turn to:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/zad-forever/revenge-against-commons?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=68a8708f5b-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-68a8708f5b-408090269

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“…the highest ever April temperature recorded on earth.”

GW: stripped to me undies in the rain and snow

Parts of India and Pakistan are continuing to experience unusually hot spring weather with temperatures in the mid-40sC, 114F. A reading of 50.2C (122.3F) in Nawabshah on 30 April “may count as the highest ever April temperature recorded on earth.” A news service in Hyderabad reports 19 heat-related deaths.

Elsewhere, in Africa:

Burundi: “Red Cross says that over 2,500 people have been made homeless after floods … close to the city of Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital … on 28 April, 2018, after a period of heavy rain. According to local officials, the situation worsened when one of the dykes of the Mutimbuzi River gave way, causing the river to flood nearby communities.”

Rwanda: “…as many as 200 people have died in disasters since January … heavy rains have affected the whole country, causing floods and landslides. Storms and strong winds have also affected some areas. Over 4,500 hectares of crops have been destroyed. 15 were killed on 6 May following heavy rains in the western region. A local official in the capital, Kigali, told the BBC that 3 people had also died in a mudslide in the city.”

Somalia: “The flood situation has worsened over the last few days. Observers say the current floods are some of the worst the region has ever seen. The UN says that flash and river floods have now affected 427,000 people.” The President is appealing for international aid. Good luck with that. Uganda also affected by widespread floods.

A mad catfish is photographed from space, terrorizing the Bahamas. What is happening to our weather?

USA:  1 May saw “21 preliminary tornado reports posted to the … Storm Prediction Center’s database, most of them in Kansas. Very large hail—up to 4” in diameter—pummeled parts of Kansas and Nebraska. No major damage or injuries were reported.” More forecast storms affected the midwest over the weekend of 05 May accompanied by record high temperatures over the east, reaching 93F, 34C in Washington, DC and 91F in New York.

Record cold had ushered in May in parts of the midwest, Iowa and Wisconsin having their coldest April in 154 years, giving way to severe storms as warmer air pushes northward, and there was more snow in upstate New York. Meanwhile, the wildfire season has kicked off in Arizona with thousands of acres of forest ablaze – the “Tinder Fire”. Forecast highs in Phoenix this week are expected back in the 100sF, 40sC.

Canada: heavy rain on snowmelt. 04 May, “the St John River in New Brunswick is at record levels and expected to rise further. Flooding has damaged homes and roads and prompted evacuations. Authorities have urged residents in the city of St John to leave their homes.” 2 killed, many injured and much property damaged by 100 Kph winds in Ontario. 200,000 left without power.

Caribbean: “Rain, flooding and landslides in parts of the Caribbean have caused at least 4 fatalities and displaced around 4,000 people. Heavy rain has affected Jamaica, Haiti and Dominican Republic since around 02 May”. Bahamas: a weather front stalled over the islands is given a 10% chance of becoming a rare tropical depression for early May as the sea temperature is already 2C above the 26C needed to generate a cyclone.

Argentina: a powerful storm rocks Buenos Aires on the 29th. Flash-flooding, power outages, 2 killed. “Flooding in the province of Entre Ríos (03 May, 300 mm rain) has left 1 person dead, more than 30 evacuated and 1,600 requiring assistance.”

Chile: city of Ancud underwater.

India: “At least 76 people have died and scores more were injured in a fierce dust storm that hit the northern Indian states of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The storm on 02 May disrupted electricity, uprooted trees, destroyed houses and killed livestock. … The storm also hit the capital Delhi, more than 100km away, along with heavy rains late on Wednesday evening.”

Pakistan: a high of 49C, 120F was recorded over the weekend of 5 May in Karachi, with 9 fatalities attributed to the heat.

Iraq: “At least 4 people died in flash floods that hit the city of Duhok in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on Saturday, 05 May 2018.” Refugee camps are also affected.

Turkey: “Flash floods caused by heavy rain wreaked havoc in Ankara on 05 May. Further heavy rainfall the next day caused some surface flooding and traffic problems. Officials said 6 people were injured in the floods, with more than 160 cars and 25 businesses suffering damage.” (This actually made the news here in the UK.)

Australia: overall, the country experienced its hottest April on record, the maximum daily average being some 3.17C above normal.

New Zealand: record rainfall brings extensive flooding and a state of emergency is declared in the Rotorua region.

Europe: continent bewildered by a chaotic mashup of extreme cold, heat, rain, floods, hail, snow (in France), high winds and “even a tornado”. Basically anywhere to the west of a line down the Franco-German border through to southern Italy has been too cold, anywhere to the right too hot; south of the Mediterranean, North Africa is roasting. A huge chain of thunderstorms with almost half a million lightning strikes counted was recorded on 30 April stretching from the Spanish border across France to Italy and the Balkans, up through Switzerland, Austria, Germany and over into Poland and Slovenia, where big hailstorms were reported with streets turned to rivers of ice.

Switzerland: 7 skiers, 2 climbers and a guide have died in 5 separate incidents after bad weather swept through the Alps region on 6 May. 5 skiing victims, from France, Italy and Germany, were among a group of 14 who failed to reach a mountain cabin.

Italy: “Two days of heavy rain has caused flooding and landslides in Sardinia. Around 100 people have been evacuated from their homes. In the last 48 hours some areas have recorded over 150 mm of rain – more than four times the average monthly total for May.” (This last statistic can also be interpreted as “a year’s worth”)

UK: World Health Organization reports, the steel town of Port Talbot in Wales has the highest level of dangerous microparticulate pollution in the country, at 18 mg per m/3 of air. That’s considered pretty unhealthy, unacceptable in fact – so you won’t want to be moving to Muzaffarpur in India, with a figure of 197 mg per m/3 the world’s most polluted city. (BBC).

Forecasters say the May Bank Holiday high could approach or beat the previous Mayday record of 28.6C, 83F.

Globally: April was the 3rd warmest on record and 0.5C above the 1981-2010 average. Only the unusual cold in the eastern USA and Canada during the early part of the month kept April from being the hottest ever, everywhere. The high of 50.2C (122F) in Nawabshah, Pakistan on 30 April was confirmed as the hottest temperature ever recorded in an April month.

Acknowledgments to: Richard Davies at Floodlist/ Wunderground/ BBC News/ Climate and Extreme Weather News (CEWN) #115, #116/

 

Bring on the ecopolypse.

Among other things, I’ve been thinking for a while about buying an air quality monitor.

Since I moved to live beside an increasingly busy main road I’ve had an itching sensation in my nose, low-level throat and chest congestion – rhinitis – am always bunged-up first thing in the morning and suffer from “dry-eye”, an obscure condition that is actually “wet-eye” as they’re constantly blinded with tears. Add to which, I’m always wiping a fine dust off every surface, that may have ruined my digital piano, and would like to have the scientific data to know how bad it is here so I can write to the local paper… lol.

And, as you know, your old Granny is always boring on about carbon dioxide concentrations. An air quality monitor of the right sort will tell you how well that’s doing too, both inside and outside your home.

Just now I went on Amazon, and while browsing the info about a particular model (see what I did there? Hahaha, particles!) costing a deterrent £229, was amused to see below it, a suggestion that (as, obviously, an eco-terrorist) I might (also? Instead?) like to purchase 1Kg of Sunwarrior “Warrior Organic Blend” drinking chocolate for £29.95.

Sod the pollution, I thought. Bring on the explosive dopamine.

And bring on the ecopolypse. The chocolate warriors are ready for anything.

(Photo: John Seach/ Volcanolive.com)

Even volcanoes.

The situation on Hawaii’s Big Island is looking unusually serious.

If you’re not paying much attention, Mount Kilauea has been erupting for over 20 years, and is one of a handful of volcanoes in the world to maintain a permanent lake of lava in its main crater. The lake has now escaped sideways through underground channels and the magma is erupting violently 24 miles away in a dormitory suburb. The nightmare of molten rock suddenly bursting out of people’s gardens and swallowing homes, roads and cars, huge fiery vents opening in the earth, the main ones now numbering 12, with thousands of earthquakes, the release of sulfurous poison gases, is like something out of Dante’s Ingerno and is expected to go on for weeks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNNoGCm3nqU

 

The fuckwitted booby

The Kremlins’ “Useless Idiot”, Trump recently presented an award to Teacher of the Year, Mandy Manning, praising her work in educating the children of America.

The poor booby apparently failed to spot a collection of faintly insulting anti-government campaign badges on Ms Manning’s dress; or to notice that she was refusing to speak to him on the platform.

Nor did he manage to understand that she doesn’t teach ordinary schoolkids: she specializes in English language development for refugees and other immigrants.

“Teachers like Mandy play a vital role in the wellbeing of our children, the strength of our communities and the success of our nation”, the US president said.

The story in today’s Guardian concludes by pointing to a certain irony in Trump’s position on foreigners:

“Trump has cracked down on both legal and illegal immigration and suspended the US refugee program … He has demanded that a wall be built on the Mexican border to keep out murderers, drugs gangs and other criminals”.

No wonder he didn’t know his lawyer, Michael Cohen, had paid Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) to keep quiet about the affair they never had, despite the existence of emails to the contrary, when he reimbursed the $130,000 Cohen says he borrowed from a bank using a false-front account just prior to the election, claiming it was his own money and that she had breached the confidentiality agreement Trump had failed to sign as First Party, the pseudonymous “David Dennison”, forbidding her from lying about whatever it was that never happened. As wealthy celebrities so often have to do. And of course, Trump says, he gave Cohen the money without knowing why. From what is now reported to be a slush-fund deliberately created to shut embarrassing people up.

Luckily, the orange imbecile has brought his friend, former NY Mayor and Rumpelstiltskin’s gropy grandad, Rudy Giuliani onto the legal team, so he could tell Sean Hannity on Fox News the exact opposite of the story Trump and Huckabee Sanders had been spinning the press for days: no affair, just ordinary blackmail; no precise knowledge of any payment; no payment. Poor sweaty christian Huckabee is taking the flak for lying.

There’s no argument any longer, he’s a total loser.

x

Memory Lane

Young IT baboons partake of TSB’s fermented fruit, prior to collapsing in a groaning heap. (Guardian/LinkedIn)

Banking on “facial recognition” technology – of the analog kind!

Depression Blue

At the time my wife and I separated in 2005 we had a joint account with Lloyd’s Bank. Being somewhat older, I had had accounts with Lloyd’s since 1972, including a period from 1991 to 1996 when we had our business account with them as well; and a mortgage with Lloyd’s-owned Cheltenham & Gloucester.

Not only that, but coincidentally as a senior advertising agency copywriter, between 1987 and 1990 I had worked on creating consumer and business-to-business campaigns for all five main divisions within the Lloyd’s Bank Group.

I’m not sure how much more “brand-loyal” any customer could have been.

We decided to close the joint account, and I set up my own personal account. As part of our voluntary separation agreement, because I was back in work (although pretty poorly paid) and my wife was not, I agreed to take on the £150 a month repayments of our joint £19,000 liability to the bank.

As it happened, we’d had to come to an earlier arrangement with the bank over the loan at a time when neither of us was in work (we had for some reason moved to a part of the country where there isn’t any), and my persuasive wife had succeeded as part of the deal in negotiating an unusually favorable rate of interest.

Despite micro-managing our tiny revenue to the nearest penny, going just a few pounds overdrawn for any reason would result in bullying phone calls from Brighton – one even threatening to have us arrested and charged with fraud over a dishonored check for £50 we had written in good faith weeks before. Yet we had the security of owning our own home! (We didn’t know it at the time, but it was going up in value by about £12 thousand a year.)

This concessionary interest rate was then turned against me by the bank when, on agreeing my new personal account, and although I had found a job, a managerial position, and still owned half a house, they nevertheless informed me that my credit score was being reset at zero. That would not allow me to have any form of credit, not even a check guarantee card.  Instead I was given a kind of Master-criminal card that would only allow me to withdraw up to £50 a day from an ATM, provided there was enough money in the account; which, as I was paying over half my salary in maintenance for my family, there often wasn’t.

This punitive situation lasted for three years during which I continued to make regular payments to the bank, while I enjoyed two pay rises; I was by now overseeing a £5 million business development project involving a culturally important institution, dealing with grants and government finance departments, yet I couldn’t pay for anything over £50, and it had to be in cash. Despite my appeals for greater flexibility, the bank remained obdurate.

Only with a change of manager did the situation improve, and in 2008 I was finally granted a debit card and a £50 overdraft facility.

Yet I had done nothing wrong, other than repay a loan!

On one occasion my employer (who lived abroad) failed to pay my salary on time – she had not realized it was a Bank Holiday in Britain. I became £5.72p overdrawn for one night and was immediately threatened with penalty charges and interest that, I calculated, amounted in the first year to more than two thousand pounds. I was tempted not to repay the fiver, just to see what might happen. It would have made a good story in the media.

In, I think, 2012 (there will be a letter somewhere), along with around two million other Lloyd’s customers, we were given the cattle-truck treatment. Our accounts were automatically being moved, certainly without my consent, into the TSB; a secondary bank of which, I imagine, few had ever heard, to, as Lloyd’s PR people charmingly put it, “increase our consumer choice”. (Fucking copywriters!)

Since then, however, I have found my local TSB branch staff – Lloyd’s immediately galloped out of town on their black horse – to be perfectly kind, helpful, efficient and friendly, to the point where I don’t even want to do Internet banking.

I enjoy a relationship “over the counter” with all the staff, who know me by sight and are able to sort out problems – as, for instance, the time when Experian informed them I didn’t exist – but that’s another story. I’ve had a couple of useful loans from them, plus a flexible overdraft arrangement, while my accounts – I can even save, and tragically have an ISA – remain miraculously in credit.

For the first time in my life I’ve found a bank that’s allowed me to breathe.

I don’t trust the internet, as it turns out presciently, and I appear so far to have escaped the worst of the consequences of the perfectly predictable IT meltdown at TSB, which has been trying to get the Lloyd’s monkey off its back (they are forced to pay £100 million a year to share Lloyd’s’ wheezing and clanking old systems but are now part of a different, go-ahead Spanish-owned group). I fear it may have ramifications that will eventually affect those customers who don’t rely on personal technology to rule our lives wisely and well – indeed, I don’t have any social media accounts, as I’ve never trusted them either.

What an old stick-in-the-mud. But you learn from experience, don’t you.

(Whouaahouaahouaa…. eerie flashback music)

My business had gone bust at the end of 1995, leaving me unemployed and with two credit card debts. I’d taken out one card earlier that year through the Institute of Directors (there was a case of claret on free offer) for the sole purpose of financing the acquisition of a computer we needed at work to service a lucrative new account, who insisted on compatibility with their own systems. A few months later, the client was ‘re-engineered’ without warning by its parent group and closed down over a single weekend, leaving us holding many thousands of pounds’ worth of promotional materials they hadn’t paid for.

The IoD-branded card was underwritten by Beneficial Bank, a rackety US corporation, who had sold me PPI – as indeed had Lloyd’s, on my personal credit card, through London & Edinburgh assurance. I was glad of it at the time. L&E paid out immediately, without a fuss, and even left me with £100 in the account. But Beneficial Bank’s Irish insurers refused to pay the principal, covering only the interest on a month-by-month basis – and I was out of work for the first time, with nothing coming in.

What happened next is still not fully explained, but the following year – 1997 – I started getting letters out of the blue from Beneficial Bank, demanding repayment of the principal in full, about £2,500, which I could not do. I eventually contacted them, and we came to an arrangement to pay a monthly amount. After several more months, however, I got another demand to repay the principal, again without being given a reason. So I resorted to the old trick of hanging on until their demands turned purple, then called the Credit Controller and offered him a minimal settlement figure, which I loaded onto a new “zero-interest” card taken out for the purpose. Well, why not? Our clients used to do it to us on a regular basis.

He told me nothing of what had happened. Subsequently, however, I began to piece together a narrative that puts them in a somewhat murky light.

Shortly after my original claim started paying out, it seems the bank had parted company with their Irish insurers without making arrangements for a new insurer to continue the business, which was why the interest payments had stopped – without telling me. That was on the grounds of “commercial confidentiality”, but it screwed my credit rating all the same. They had also managed to lose a large tranche of their customer records in a computer “upgrade” that had gone disastrously wrong, again without telling anyone, and so had no recollection of our arrangement and instead, pursued me for the balance.

Had I known at the time, I would certainly have filed against them for maladministration. But the PPI misselling scandal was still many years away, there were no “no-win, no-fee” solicitors chasing lucrative bank business, and now I no longer have any records on which to base a claim for damages.

But you can understand why, last week, after learning that TSB was “upgrading” its systems at the weekend, I made sure to go into the branch and transfer some savings into my current account, just in case, and get a paper record of the balances to use as evidence when (not if!) the records vanished.

Once bitten, as they say. The bank teller was super-confident. Oh no, she assured me, they’d been trialling the new system for weeks, nothing could go wrong. And so far, everything seems to be working normally, even using the debit card in shops. You can’t beat “facial recognition” technology – of the analog kind!

So, sorry to sound smug, but I hope this affair won’t bring TSB crashing down, I rather like them.

As long as CEO, Paul Pester doesn’t get his £1 million bonus for presiding over the screw-up, of course.

The Pumpkin – Issue 49: Bolt-on accessory… GW: Not Singin’ in the Rain… Long Essay: Labour, a sorry State of affairs.

“…it’s hard to see why Trump didn’t just give the job to Alex Jones.”

(Apologies for delay in completing, further health issues.)

Bolt-on accessory

“State Department intelligence analyst Christian Westermann told committee staffers Bolton “got red in the face … shaking his finger at me” in a dispute over language Bolton planned to use in a speech that discussed Cuba’s biological weapons capability. Westermann said he felt Bolton wanted him fired over the matter. Bolton said he had “lost confidence” in Westermann for recommending changes to the speech without consulting him first.” (USA Today)

Yale law graduate, virulent Islamophobe and all-round TV savage, the Mark Twain-mustachio’d Irishman John Bolton allegedly has a filthy temper and a propensity to lash out at colleagues who don’t see things his way. In this particular case, Mr Bolton was busily manufacturing “evidence” for a report alleging Cuba had a biological weapons program, which his staff knew it didn’t. He would later go on to support President W Bush’s false assertion that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction”, in order to justify “regime change” in Iraq.

The art of persuasion: John Bolton wields the finger of Fate.

As a Fox News studio pundit, in prominent press articles he has more recently recommended similar “regime change” in Iran, with the tearing-up of the international agreement on Iranian nuclear weapons development, and a first strike nuclear attack against North Korea. In fact, it’s hard to see why Trump didn’t just give the job to Alex Jones. Fling wide the doors of the madhouse. (Mr Jones is now saying he no longer supports Trump. Who next?)

This is the man President Donald Trump has been listening to with growing approval for months and has now appointed to the key post of National Security Advisor in place of the more level-headed General HR McMaster, with whom he is said not to have got on. So, no party bag for you, egg-head. Let’s recall that Mr Trump’s judgement was that McMaster’s predecessor, General Mike Flynn, was an all-round good guy. Later, however, he complained that no-one had warned him that Flynn was a known security risk. That was after he’d fired Acting Attorney-General Sally Yates for trying to warn him Flynn was a known security risk.

You see what we’re dealing with here?

And the problem is, the National Security post is not subject to Congressional scrutiny: it’s in the gift of the President.

Bolton is frequently referred to as ‘former UN ambassador’. The term relates to a short stint he spent at the UN as a sort of vacation intern, put there by Bush – who wanted him to have the job full-time – during a Congressional summer recess, after the Senate had refused to ratify his appointment on the grounds that Bolton was prominently on record as saying “The United Nations doesn’t exist … it occupies a 38-storey building in New York and if you took the top ten storeys off, no-one would notice.”

Non-Americans would have been equally alarmed at the sentiments he expressed, that the UN should just shut up and do as it was told because America was the only relevant power in the world. In this regard, he reminds us of Mr Nigel Farage, the campaigning British politician and a member of the European Parliament, whose singleminded dedication to destroying the organization that pays him a very handsome salary and vast expenses, which he hardly ever attends except to insult and berate his foreign colleagues, led ultimately to the Brexit vote.

But there’s more.

“Carl Ford, the former chief of intelligence and research at the State Department, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Bolton was a “serial abuser” of low-level employees and a “quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy.” (See USA Today article.) Melody Townsel, a businesswoman working on a government contract in Moscow in 1994, said Bolton, sent to persuade her to withdraw a complaint about lack of funds, threw a tape dispenser at her and made remarks about her weight and sexual orientation. She remarked about the experience in Moscow:

“Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel — throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and, generally, behaving like a madman. For nearly two weeks, while I awaited fresh direction from my company and from US AID, John Bolton hounded me in such an appalling way that I eventually retreated to my hotel room and stayed there. Mr. Bolton, of course, then routinely visited me there to pound on the door and shout threats…”

(Extract from Todaysworkplace.com quoting The Daily Kos website*)

And it’s now being reported that Mr Bolton enthusiastically  took part in a number of pro-Trump campaign promotional videos on Facebook, as part of the experimental program run by Steve Bannon’s Cambridge Analytica and/or its US parent company, SCL, to subvert the electorate with microtargeted messages based on the misdirected personal data of 50 million Americans.

Mr Bolton denies any such connection with Cambridge Analytica, which seems odd considering a superPAC (unlimited political fund) “run by John Bolton” and funded by the Mercers has reportedly paid Cambridge Analytica $1.1 million since 2014 for “research”, according to an official review of campaign finance records. (Democracynow.org)

With another Iran/NK hawk, Mike Pompeo at State; Larry Kudlow, a poorly regarded Fox TV finance pundit echoing his antediluvian views on the economy, and Fox TV lawyer Joseph DiGenova now leading the defense against the witch hunters following the ousting of John Dowd, Mr Trump now has only three barriers remaining before his ego achieves the total power it craves, independent of any politicians, qualified advisors or people who aren’t certifiably psychopathic: his Chief of Staff, General Kelly, the parent he hates for grounding him; the Defense chief, General Mattis, a dangerous communist – and Bob Mueller, the implacable Justice Department bloodhound investigating his financial crimes under the guise of an inquiry into the fake-news collusion with Russia.

All three will probably be gone by the end of the month.

PS: Oh, oops, 26 March… DiGenova’s already been fired before he even started. Conflict issues… Trump had only previously seen him on Fox News, met him and didn’t like him after all, saying he and his Fox News TV lawyer wife (who came as a package) looked “scruffy”. (Trump is of course a total fake president: childlike, incoherent and mad as a fruit bat.)

*A joke occurs to The Pumpkin: the White House should be renamed. Toadysworkplace….

 

Trump not considered criminal target in Mueller’s Russia inquiry – reports

“According to a person familiar with the investigation, the president is a subject of interest but there’s not enough evidence to bring charges. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations and demanded anonymity.” – Guardian, 4 April.

Don’t tell me, let me guess… David Dennison? John Miller? John Barron?

 

Watch now:

weather.com/en-GB/unitedkingdom/great-outdoors/video/baby-elephant-in-thailand-cuddles-with-american-tourist

 

GW: Not Singin’ in the Rain

Australia: following on from Cyclone Marcus, safely out at sea and degrading but causing big waves off the SW coast around Perth, Cat 3 Cyclone Nora with gusts up to 270 km/h has arrived in the fortunately sparsely populated northern territories, where residents have been warned to find ‘stronger housing’, and up to 300 mm of rain is expected. The storm could track across to Darwin city, still clearing up after Marcus. Much of Queensland is already affected by flooding. Meanwhile in Victoria, S Australia, successive fronts are causing damaging winds across a wide area. Tasmania is particularly affected.

PS Queensland: Port Douglas recorded 593 mm (2 ft) of rain in 24 hours to 26 March, 2018. Flash flooding wipes out Cairns caravan park, 42 rescued. Meanwhile the mercury hits 46C, 115F on the Mardie sheep station in Western Australia.

Indonesia: Torrential rains. Floods. Landslides. “Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) said that so far this year, more people have died in landslides in Indonesia than any other type of natural disaster. Since 01 January 2018 there have been 197 landslides in the country, which have left 53 people dead, 60 injured and 1,369 homes damaged.”

South Korea: heatwave. Extensive early-season wildfires destroy homes, force evacuations.

South Africa: “Parts of Gauteng Province in South Africa were hit by a severe storm from 22 March, 2018. Some areas recorded more than a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours. Areas around Johannesburg and Pretoria were particularly badly hit. Strong winds have downed trees and heavy rain has flooded several roads, causing major traffic problems.”

USA: The “Pineapple Express” storm hit further north of Santa Barbara than predicted and so did not cause the feared landslides in the area affected by the Thomas fire. There was severe flash-flooding in Sacramento county. Some areas recorded new rainfall totals and a number of households were rescued from flooding. Damage was minimized by dredging operations following February’s disaster. Winter Storm Uma blankets Iowa and Minnesota in up to 16 in. of snow.

A band of heavy rain is causing concern for flooding from Texas to Alabama – but residents of Amarillo were celebrating 0.24 mm after a drought that has seen only 0.01 mm in the past 160 days. Owing to the prolonged drought, “half of the winter wheat in Kansas—the nation’s largest producer of the crop—was ranked in poor or very poor condition by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as of Sunday.” “The low temperature at Bush Intercontinental Airport on Tuesday was 73°F, which ties the warmest daily low ever recorded in Houston in March.”

Mexico: Mexico City, 1 dead as extraordinary ‘rain bomb’ falls from cloud.

Brazil: Still raining. Flash flooding in Belo Horizonte; Assis; São Paolo (again). Flash floods in Medellin, Colombia.

India: A rise of 8C in a day brings heatwave conditions back to Mumbai: 41C, 106F. Mercury hits 44C (111F) in Gujarat. African, Indian, Chinese heatwave forecast moving northwards into Europe, Central Asia by 5 April. 40C-plus too already in Iraq.

Northern Europe: Another beastly blast of cold air from Siberia is forecast for the Easter weekend, bringing more snow across central and northern Europe, with continuing below-normal temperatures forecast at intervals through into May. Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations reports that melting snow and ice jams have caused flooding in Altai Krai region. “As of 27 March, flooding had affected 55 rural settlements.” Over 1000 residents evacuated.

Southern Europe:  Storm Hugo brings heavy rain, snow and flooding to northern Portugal and Spain; high Mediterranean winds ship huge volumes of floodwater over the coastlines of Corsica, Calabria, Sardinia. Dense Sahara sandstorm turns skies orange, blankets Crete. Heavy snowfall in Algeria.

A report by EASAC – the independent European Academies’ Science Advisory Committee – finds that extreme precipitation events globally have increased by 400% since 1980.

Grand Solar Minimum

You may hear a lot about the ‘GSM’ being responsible for the cold weather/new ice age that’s upon us.

It’s bullshit: the last refuge of the ‘man-made climate-change’ denial lobby. The earth isn’t warming, it’s cooling? Your Granny doesn’t think so. The sun isn’t cooling either.

The idea behind the theory is that there’s very little sunspot activity at the moment. (As sunspots are cold, surely lack of them ought to mean it’s outputting more heat?) As the amount of energy reaching the earth from the sun fluctuates normally through an 11-year cycle, there’s an idea that a much longer so-called Kondratieff Wave brings about a Grand Solar Minimum; also known after its theorist as a “Maunder Minimum”, at roughly 150-year intervals, when the world is plunged into a Little Ice Age.

Actual astrophysicists tell us we’re on the downside of another 11-year cycle, but so far there’s nothing to suggest it’s anything out of the ordinary. Also, the calculations of climatologists suggest that at most, the solar cycles make a difference of plus-or-minus a third of a degree. That and other background factors are already allowed for in calculations of the degrees of warming attributable to the 39 billion tonnes of CO2 and other stuff we shove into the air annually.

Meanwhile, despite the cold weather and a persistent weak La Niña, adjusted global temperature is still marginally higher than last year, and the years before that. 16 of the last 18 years have been the warmest on record. A 4.1C high-temperature anomaly has been recorded over Antarctica (25 March).

ABC/ Weather.com/ Floodlist/ Paul Beckwith/Wunderground/ CEWN #105, #106

 

Long Essay:

Labour: a sorry State of affairs

Look. I’m a pro-semite, if such a thing can be said to exist.

I’m not myself semitic, of course, but I’m glad of the presence of our Jewish “community”. They seem like a great bunch of people, bouncy and fractious, lugubrious and self-deprecatingly humorous by turns. People with admirable resilience and a fascinating culture, the product of two and a half thousand years of adversity. Not all, obviously. There are always non-conformists, outliers, backsliders, secularists. It doesn’t help to generalize. But I am not now and am never going to hate (as I never have) an entire clade of people for being a bit, well, unusual. Difference is what makes the world go around. I can be pretty unusual myself. I confess, I do sort of hate many named individuals, but I cannot hate an entire people for merely being as they are: not myself.

(Why do I even have to preface my critical opinion with a disclaimer? Is it come to this? Should I refrain in the interests of decency from mentioning my three past delightful Jewish girlfriends? I’d claim that some of my best friends are Jewish, but it wouldn’t be true: I don’t have any friends at all now, it’s easier.)

Would it be too anti-semitic, then, to note that, once again, nervous Israeli conscripts (is there any other kind? Could they not put something relaxing in the tea?) have been taking pot-shots, firing tank shells at innocent parsley farmers, blasting them to bits obviously without any legal repercussions, who strayed as they thought too near the border (an internal border: Israel likes to keep its enemies inside) – and firing live ammunition rounds at despairing demonstrators armed with stones and confined behind razor wire, killing and wounding many hundreds? And then the tiresome old lie: armed terrorists, human shields, most regrettable… justifies nothing, but, you know, the military.

And this, experts say, as a warning or provocation to Israel’s external enemies: Shi’a Iran, and its proxy external army, the 50-thousand-strong Hezbollah militia, currently battling everyone’s enemy ISIS in Syria, Israel’s other enemy, and holding together a fragile peace in Lebanon. No-one in the region is any longer good or bad; just enemies. Iran who, it should be noted, are the enemies of Israel’s new friends, the Gulf Arab states, Salafist Saudi Arabia. There are too many bad actors in the region spoiling for a fight.

Their allegiances are temporary, unstable and should be discounted, frankly. Just shoot back at whoever is shooting at you.

Are we to approve these Biblical acts of smiting the innocent and the guilty alike, in preference to being culture-shamed and name-called by paid shills for the Israeli junta? There are hundreds of thousands of Jews who are equally appalled that this insanity goes on, and on, without commitment to a resolution. Is there any degree of tolerable disapproval of the actions of the Israeli State that does not incur outraged denials, shirt-rending appeals to history, to God, to Justice, and a further stirring-up of fearfulness among the Jewish diaspora by the community leaders themselves? Is there an end to the impotent stupidity of Hamas?

Yes, I hold certain of the Jewish leaders guilty of stirring up and exploiting the old fears as a political weapon. Sorry. We are living at a time when the Internet has made it easy for everyone to hate everyone else. I can be proved wrong, but I am not sure more people really now hate and issue tangible threats to Jews as do those opposed to Muslims, politicians, Hollywood producers, women, TV personalities, “baby-boomers”, Brexit moaners, people with disabilities, taxi-rapists or any other identifiable minority group.

And might it overstep the bounds of semitism, pro- or anti-, to observe that the “right-wing Likud government” of Israel seems to have been taken over by gangsters: international oligarchs, friends of Jared Kushner, intolerant religious Pharisees, settler lobbyists, refugee American wackos and out-and-proud racist cunts like Defense Minister Lieberman, while the “hard-line” prime minister, the rectitudinous Mr Netanyahu, is mired in charges of corruption and influence peddling?

I’d be anti-that. Wouldn’t anybody?

And would it be too anti-Semitic to ask, why now? Why has something Mr Corbyn – I haven’t met him, we’re the same age but I don’t like what we’ve seen of him, he seems a most dreadful humbug (but such a genuine one) and I think I would prefer it if he never becomes prime minister – something stupid he said or did six years ago, why has it emerged only now to highlight his most tremendous failing, that as a Friend of Palestine he and his shadow cabinet rabble must all be rabid Jew-haters? They obviously aren’t, so who’s saying it – and more importantly, why? How have we got from there to here?

And how has a media furore been created around these “five thousand anti-semitic” – er, things – that members of the Labour party have supposedly done, that need to be “investigated”, whatever they are and whoever they were done by? (You should, I feel, be prepared to endure something of a furious backlash when you mount campaigns of disinformation like this.) Targeted, and forced competent officials to resign for not being sensible enough of other people’s instances of anti-semitic – things, unspecified tweets, what? the borderline is as thin and wispy as an eruv – and created a general air of suspicion and damaging, unwanted disunity in the body politic at this critical time? What Mr Trump might call a “witch hunt”?

This is playing with fire.

Why, you would almost imagine some people are beginning to worry that Mr Corbyn has become too popular for the nation’s good and might, if returned to office, say characteristically nasty, anti-semitic things about the Israeli government and refuse to toe the American party line, invite al-Q’aida into a coalition or fall out with Crown Prince bin-whatsit, refusing to sell him bombs to kill more Yemeni children (you see, I’m not one-nation prejudiced). But we might perhaps make another note, this time that over the past year there have been intense but short-lived media-driven onslaughts on all sorts of people: men, Russians, the Parole Board, Trump…. They come, they go.

Which brings me on to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Council and that sinister apologist for the crimes of the gangster regime, Mr Mark Regev, now the Israeli ambassador to London – his reward for years of bullying the BBC into silence, lying, name-calling and cranking-up the moral blackmail to shut down criticism of his paymasters in Tel Aviv. Regev, who recently forced Manchester University to, essentially, no-platform a Holocaust survivor for likening Likud to the Nazis – perhaps a somewhat extreme position, but maybe she should know? And then had the chutzpah to demand total editorial oversight of the rest of the conference proceedings, like a perfect little fascist…. Would it be too anti-semitic to dislike this repellent individual intensely by name?

No doubt he would say so. Not for his religion, his Australian ethnicity (Regev is not his birth name), but for the horror of what he is glibly excusing.

In former years those reasonable, respectable bodies of, no doubt mostly elderly men, who confined themselves largely and with dignity to overseeing Jewish affairs, now possibly under the influence of the new representative from Tel Aviv, who has some pretty persuasive tactics under his belt, seem to have formed an aggressive triumvirate of corncrake lobbyists unafraid of intervening, not to say rabble-rousing, to subvert the normal course of British politics. It is of course their privilege, we could use some new political parties, but not one advancing in a phalanx of unsubstantiated allegations.

It may be that they have an entirely genuine cause for concern, it may be that Britain has become a cesspit of sieg-heiling Jew-baiters, cemetery-desecrators and synagogue-burners. It’s just not something I’ve really noticed going on, just as Mr Corbyn – call him Jeremy – blindly failed to spot the glaring Nazi-era tropes in the offensive public mural he defended (six years ago) against two coats of council whitewash, assuming (one assumes) that its purpose was purely to highlight the oppression of the poor by the world’s banking community in the wake of 2008.

We are left to contemplate, too, the corresponding attacks on Mr Ken Livingston, whose questionable assertions about Hitler and Zionism (I edited the original AJP Taylor essay for an anthology, it’s not all that conclusive) have been interpreted as evidence of systemic prejudice in the Labour party, perhaps because he stubbornly persists with them – as if what he thinks matters any longer. But being an old cynic, it did immediately occur to me that there is more going on in Regev’s world than meets the eye; and that the Nazi-era tropes are not confined to the display of anti-semitic public artworks.

You see, Israeli politics has been dominated for decades by the need to turn history on its head. The approaching 70th anniversary of the Nafqa, as Palestinians call it – apocalypse – when 680 thousand residents of Galilee who had tilled the land for generations were driven from their homes like Native Americans, to spend more generations in refugee limbo, killed, or both, to allow the State of Israel to invite all and sundry to come and live there, would to anyone other than an extremely conservative Israeli or a wealthy Labour donor be a significant anniversary of an act that has caused untold misery, global violence, moral ambiguity and division down the years.

Modern Israel’s take on it however makes themselves out to be the victims, justifying the oppression of an entire people. Under the watchful eye of a military state barely clinging anymore to the moral high ground their founders claimed, the land-grabbing and the illegal settlements, the casual brutalities and the occasional massacres go on, and on, justified apparently by random acts of defiance by the oppressed and the forceful efforts of the lobbyists.

Even the Israeli press, at least the liberal Haaretz, has this to say today, 1 April – Easter Sunday:

Israel and the United States are no longer interested in a pragmatic and equitable two-state solution, if they ever were. In exchange for a truncated Palestinian mini-state that won’t control much more than the Palestinian Authority does, Abbas is now being asked to not only recognize Israel but to acknowledge the Jewish people’s inherent, biblical right to the Land of Israel, a statement that would constitute a repudiation of the entire history of the Palestinian national movement.

It might also require the Muslim Abbas to acknowledge the primacy of the Jewish bible as a title deed to the land. You see, that’s where you can get by endless bullying, lying, defiance of international conventions, ultraviolence and special pleading. And, might I add, in complete defiance of the somewhat nobler aspirations of the founders, as expressed in the famous 1947 UN speech by David Ben-Gurion:

“…it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

And anyone who doesn’t approve of that elegant eviction order is an anti-semite, pure and simple.

Seriously, Ben Gurion was well aware of the dilemma. In creating a State of Israel to which he felt Jews were absolutely entitled to “return” from the Diaspora according to their ancient compact with “God” and the recent horrors of the Holocaust, he recognized that he was taking away the homeland of the Palestinians who had lived there for at least two thousand years. (Modern Israeli archaeologists now realize, the “Arabs” as the Zionist settlers called them are a fully related semitic people who predate even the first Hebrew settlement and who stayed on through and after the Roman expulsions, which were more limited in scope than the mythology suggests.)

Yet although he clearly understood it, Ben Gurion could never accommodate himself to “Arab” resistance to the occupation. He continually defied external criticism of his and his successors’ warlike State actions, attempting to combine extreme reasonableness and open offers of co-operative citizenship (the “one-state” solution, more-or-less) with threats of unlimited morally and politically unquestionable reprisals in the face of continued resistance. As he has oft been quoted as saying: “It doesn’t matter what the goyim say, but what the Jews do.”

Thus he inadvertently laid the ground for what is by all accounts now a totalitarian State, which walls up its uncompliant “Arab” citizens in unsustainable ghettos and visits them with condign punishment through the use of advanced and illegal weaponry (which they do not themselves possess) at the slightest sign of resistance, heedless of mass civilian casualties which, like the playground bully (“Why are you hurting yourself, eh? Oh Sir, he started it!), it blames back on the Palestinians’ elected representatives; and brands external critics “anti-semites” when they raise the obvious parallels with policies pursued in Nazi Germany, certainly between 1935 and 1941 when the “Final Solution” began; and obdurately refuses to accept any moral authority other than that of its Biblical avatars, who – it must be said – lived in less complex times, but in their robust slaughter and rape of the Amalechites and the Canaanites were perhaps not as desiring of peace as painted by the First Prime Minister.

Thus, anti-semitism is never something that is provoked, a reaction against the behavior of Jews themselves; it must always pre-exist in the flawed nature of the goyim.

Let me just remind you of one small story among many bigger ones that is ongoing today. I warn you, it is utterly shameful. Saying that, I may have crossed a line.

After an Israeli soldier shot her cousin point-blank in the face with a rubber bullet, he remains on life support, a 16 year-old Palestinian girl, Ahed Tamimi, flew angrily at a group of soldiers and slapped one of them on the face. (Pro-Israel media say “punched”. Just another example of ratcheting up the prejudicial emotional rhetoric.)

This brutal attack against a defenseless armed soldier was seen in various quarters as immensely disrespectful of the military. Israeli soldiers raided the Tamimi home at 3 a.m., arresting Ahed and confiscating the family’s phones, computers and laptops. Ahed has been denied bail and could face years in prison.

Doubling-down on their sense of overweening authoritarian power, soldiers arrested Ahed’s mother Nariman later that day when she inquired about her daughter, and she too remains in custody. (That’s the practise of ‘Sippenhaft’, targeting innocent family members to intimidate resisters – something else they appear to have learned from the SS. Sorry.)

A military trial began on 12 February, is still without a verdict, while the press, human rights supporters and Palestinian diplomats have been barred from the courtroom. (Reporting by lots of people but specific words are from media bias monitoring website, Fair.)

I’ll leave it to you to decide if this rotten behavior characteristic of the filthiest totalitarian regimes is a Jewish thing, or simply an Israeli thing. Or maybe something they learned from real totalitarian regimes, like, you know.

For David Ben Gurion, despite all his weaselly promises of conciliation, citizenship and offers of friendship, provided nobody questioned his people’s right to do whatever the hell they liked, if necessary with maximum violence and inattention to human rights, there could be no difference.

It was all the same to him.

And that, I’m sorry to say, is where blind idealism gets you.

The Pumpkin – Issue 40: When thieves fall out… A “kill the pigs” fantasia… Greatness is as greatness does… GW: your old gal on the back of a snowmobile, going 200 mph…

“The United States will not be lectured to by countries that lack any credibility when it comes to treating both Israelis and Palestinians fairly” – Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN.

 

When thieves fall out

There’s increasing speculation in US media that the put-upon Vice-President, the snow-capped walking advert for Anusol, God’s best friend Mike Pence is only hanging around because he wants the top job and is hoping someone, anyone, will invoke the 25th Amendment to have Trump declared mentally incompetent. His biggest fear being that the crazed plotter, the nodding-dog Sen. Ryan will have him out of a job too.

Surely, it’s his Christian doody to remove the demented old man to a place of safety? Mike ‘Dense’ as his schoolmates knew him, has no other function in history than to rid us of that repellent, self-regarding orange slug with the slimy voice. Yet he won’t do it. He doesn’t understand his place in history.

Mr Trump has described the Pences as ‘Low-class yokels’, for keeping pets at home. (A notorious germophobe, Trump has never had so much as a puppy for the kids. He’d probably have eaten it anyway. Or sued it.) Maybe he’s not wrong? It takes a certain nobility to earn your place in history. “There is a tide in the affairs of men…” and so forth.

Mrs Pence, Karen is reported in a new book as describing President Trump as ‘Totally vile’ in reaction to the Access Hollywood “pussy-grabbing” tape, for which he apologized last March and now thinks it maybe wasn’t him on the tape after all, despite the video evidence and the testimony of poor Billy Bush, the reporter snarfing along with Trump on the bus, who’s been out of work ever since the story came out. And she’s not wrong eithegr.

Mr Bush responded the other day to Trump’s demented denial by calling him a liar. When thieves fall out, it’s bad. When Christian thieves fall out, there’s… well, fallout!

Anyway, having momentarily forgotten Senator Bob Corker’s name, although I remembered Senator Jeff Flake’s name, I just now Googled ‘Senator, Trump not Fit’ in search of their relevant comments.

And you know what? There are dozens of current and former Senators on all sides who’ve gone on record saying this dumb orange asshole isn’t fit to be the President of the United States! Try it!

And then listen to them. Get rid of the crazy fucker.

 

A “kill the pigs” fantasia

I’ve just watched the most horrifying video.

Sometime in January last year, a policeman points an AR-15 assault rifle at an unarmed man kneeling in a hotel hallway, a man pleading for his life. The man’s name is Daniel Shaver. He is a pest-control officer, armed for work with a pellet gun, an air rifle which he was not holding at the time; but which has been reported to the police as a possible weapon. (In America!)

The policeman has no fear of the suspect. Sensing his power of life-or-death, the policeman screams with a curious lack of emotion at the helpless man on the floor in front of him: do this, do that, orders him to cross his left leg over his right, put his hands on his head, shut up, put them up, shut up, put his hands on the floor, shut up, I’m giving the orders, Simon says…. The man obeys every instruction but is so terrified that he instinctively moves to pull up his pants.

And the policeman shoots him five times. Dead.

And is acquitted of “second degree” murder by an Arizona jury of dumbfucks stoned on opioids and their own hateful, innate cowpoke cretinism, as the defendant so clearly fired in self-defense. I mean, why else would a cop arbitrarily kill an unarmed tradesman crouching on the floor with his empty hands outstretched, pleading for his life while a semi-automatic, military-grade weapon is pointing at him, except in exculpatory circumstances?

The execution was captured in horrifying detail on a police GoPro camera.

The policeman could not understand why he was even on trial: he had only done what his training told him to do. Kill the suspect if he moves.

Try explaining that to the suspect’s two children.

I am now traumatized. If you too would like to be traumatized by the naked power these indescribable bullies and psychopaths in black wield over you, increasingly throughout the world, even in your own country, go to

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTdJYZMKeQs

And then tell me, “oh, but, if you’re innocent you have nothing to fear”. And I will punch you, very hard, in the face. In fact you can spend the evening in A&E having your teeth picked out of your arsehole by an exhausted junior doctor. Make my day.

Oh, by the way, the victim was a WHITE MAN. Not that it makes it any easier or worse or morally anything. But, you know. You probably wondered.

This is America, where No Lives Matter. It’s what America does. Kills people for no reason, just because it can. It’s a way of life, death. You Americans are all guilty of this repellent act of murderous barbarity, this brutal and psychopathic display of naked power that on a macro-geopolitical scale you display to other nations small enough to bully, who don’t eat your shit. You all bear responsibility for this act of unpardonable horror because you all salute the same fucking flag that licences it. The star-spangled banner of tyranny.

There are no exceptions to this, no innocents. This is your fucking horrible nation, your mess, someone’s innocent blood on your hands, your corrupt and out of control, authoritarian, insensible, brutal-maniacal police, given carte-blanche to express themselves by that little Southern racist shitbrains in the Justice department, the seemingly unsackable liar, Sessions.

You’re all fucking mad, a lethally destructive, psychopathic nation. Suck it up. Put down your weapons, paranoid morons scared of your own shadows. Embrace rationality. You have a fucking vote, use it. Resist this toxic sludge.

And this is the babyfaced innocent little psychopath, Brailsford. Cleaned up for the jury and without his Iron Cross and his AR-15 penis extension. Be very afraid.

And to doxx the little power-crazed murdering sonofabitch, his name is Former Officer Philip Mitchell Brailsford, his lovely wife’s name is Laney Sweet, they live or lived in Maricopa County and if he and Mrs Brailsford and any little Brailsfords should show up at your B&B this summer, I recommend rat poison.

Deep breath.

Anyway, for an excellent Christmassy overview of the State of the Union, The Pumpkin recommends BBC reporter Nick Bryant’s lengthy new piece, When America Stopped Being Great:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41826022

Although I would argue that his wide-eyed belief in the greatness of America, that he held at 15.43 pm on Sat, Aug 3rd, 19-whenever he decided it was at its greatest, is probably a little tendentious.

Greatness is as greatness does.

I offer only a lukewarm introduction to Maggie Heberman’s pretty anodyne essay on the Trump presidency in today’s New York Times, R. Murdoch prop., however.

I don’t for instance see how she can recall his ‘softer tone’ with children, when he spent the afternoon of the Halloween party she cites, hectoring the invited and bemused, very young children of the White House press corps about the ‘fake news media’ their parents worked for, and how they were always criticizing him unfairly. Or his extraordinary speech to the Boy Scouts of America, referring to orgies on his billionaire friends’ yachts.

Nor do I quite understand Heberman’s gibe that concern for his mental health should be the sole preserve of ‘experts’ – those he is too sick to understand he needs to consult? It must be perfectly obvious to anyone watching and listening to him, his rambling inconsistencies and frequent losses of concentration, his tendency to wander off and having to be brought back, his often delusional take on reality, his obsession with rerunning the past, that he belongs in a seniors’ home.

Ms Heberman’s innocent reference to Trump’s early business mentor, Roy Cohn, somewhat understates the sheer ruthlessness and brutality of the notorious Mafia lawyer, consigliere both to the Gambino crime family and to the Witchfinder-General, Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

In fact, I am still scouring her piece looking for any mention of Trump’s bloody business career: his many defaulted loans, his complete untrustworthiness in matters of contract, his massive indebtedness to overseas banks, his endless entanglements in civil suits, his blurring of the lines between business and private finance, his abuse of his tax-exempt Foundation, his complex tax avoidance strategies, his employment of undocumented labor and the outright scam of his grubby “Trump University” wheeze.

Her references to him relaxing on the golf course entirely fail to mention the cost to the nation – not to mention local businesses closed to traffic for security reasons – of these weekly three-day jamborees promoting membership of his tacky resorts at the taxpayers’ expense – well north of $50 million this year already. His bankrupting of the Secret Service protection program, which he has extended to 42 family members, their properties and businesses at an estimated cost of a billion dollars.

Indeed, there is no mention anywhere of his blatant breaches of both the domestic and foreign Emoluments clauses in the Constitution as he continues to profit from office by flogging his name to money-laundering developers in corrupt criminal fiefdoms around the globe. and hosts government officials and state events in his hotels.

You see, the man she is describing is not very intelligent to begin with. Anyone knows it is not necessary to use a ‘state-of-the-art TiVo’ recorder to timeshift cable news as every damned word is available forever on the internet, on YouTube or catch-up services. In any case they repeat through 24-hour cycles. Nor do I see how he manages to eat well-done steaks for dinner, slathered in ketchup, with those loose and sloppy dentures that sho often letsh him down.

The one word missing from her extensively promoted piece, in the opinion of The Pumpkin, is ‘asshole’.

Even the worst aspects of his assholery are presented as being only curious character traits, minor glitches in the ongoing reformation of an otherwise rational man who took on the job almost by accident when completely out of his depth and still can’t stop rerunning his election campaign, or trying to make decisions in a fog of ignorance about so many subjects; economically illiterate, able to comprehend only comic-strip briefings and given to irrational outbursts, malignant personal vendettas and wilfully destructive orders, he is nevertheless an endearing anomaly…

No, Maggie, fuck that.

This is the man with four thousand nuclear weapons at his disposal, and he can’t understand why if we’ve got them, we don’t use them more often?

This is the man of whom Sen. Bob Corker opined that he occupies a White House that in view of the number of aides whose job it is to mollify the thin-skinned tyrant, this bizarre channeling of the Emperor Nero, is more like an adult day-care centre than a place of wise governance.

Tell the people who have been dying in droves as a result of his crass insensitivity and brute nativist instincts that he is still learning on the job, and will get it right eventually.

Tell it to Daniel Shaver’s kids.

https://www.nytimes.com/ “Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation”.

x

GW: your old gal on the back of a snowmobile, going 200 mph…

USA: “A swath of high-impact snowfall—in some places, among the heaviest ever observed—made its way from South Texas to Atlanta on Friday (8 Dec), en route to the big cities of the Northeast U.S.

“Meanwhile, massive wildfires continued to scorch the landscape of Southern California, raging at unprecedented scope for December. … With no sign of any meaningful rains for Southern California over the next two weeks, it is quite possible that some of this week’s wildfires will burn until Christmas and beyond. …

“(Hurricane) Harvey’s 64 inches of rain near Port Arthur were the greatest on record for any storm in U.S. recorded history. Despite this unprecedented deluge, portions of the (Texas) region that received 20+ inches of rain are now in drought.” – Wunderground.

Europe: Snow and ice warnings out (9 Dec) for virtually the whole of northern continental Europe and Scandinavia; meanwhile, fierce thunderstorms are affecting virtually all of Greece, with severe gales in Portugal, Spain and running up the Bay of Biscay into the Channel. Meteoalarm is warning of an extraordinary combination of high winds, big waves, local flash-flooding and ‘summer thunderstorms’ off the coast of southern France (11/12 Dec). Waves up to 10 metres (33 ft) are pounding the coast of Portugal.

While the following is predicted in Slaskie province and other parts of southern Poland: “It is expected strong wind with average speed up to 80 kmph, with gusts up to 140 kmph, south. TAKE ACTION to protect yourself. Risk to personal safety from uprooted trees and flying debris. Widespread structural damage, road closures and power outages are expected. Protect yourself and act on advice given by emergency services.”

UK: 10 Dec, and 38 cm (15-in) of snow has been dumped in a day on the small Welsh town of Sennybridge, near Cilmeri – scene in 1282 of the final battle of the rebellious Welsh prince Llewelyn ap Gruffudd, ‘Llewelyn the Last’, tricked by Earl Mortimer into leaving his army under truce and then murdered in a wood. The Met Office is warning of temperatures plummeting to -15C overnight.

Monday, and it’s a glorious, sunny winter’s day here on the west coast, with almost no wind….

Wunderground/ Meteoalarm/ Boglington Post

 

Snookerballs

Stephen Hendry: “The thing with Ronnie (O’Sullivan – 5 times World Champion) that makes him so hard to play is, he never plays a wrong shot…” (Ronnie immediately pots the cue ball by mistake…) Five minutes later:

Hendry: “He’d like to be a little bit closer to that red but I don’t expect him to miss it…” (Ronnie promptly misses it.)

Then Hendry, weirdly, on Ronnie’s opponent: “No room for margin now, he’s just got to not miss.”

Sound advice, Stephen (7 times World Champion). (Ronnie wins.)

The Pumpkin – Issue 32: Trump or jump?…The land of smoke and mirrors… Granny W. – a sense of déjà vu… The value of experience? No-platform for the victims.

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“Thank God, at least we haven’t run out of kitchen-towels…” Dominica after the storm. (Photo: Guardian/Global Development)

 

“No wonder two hundred thousand people volunteered for a one-way mission to Mars.”

Trump or jump?

I’m not sure what’s making me angrier: Trump’s heartless response to the desperate pleas of the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Cruz, for additional aid and leadership in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which was basically to tell her to stop whining and criticizing HIM all the time, because everyone says he’s doing a really great job and she obviously isn’t?

Perhaps the Great Solipsist has been stung by polls showing that over 50 per cent of Americans think he’s doing a really terrible job overall. The wonder is, 100 per cent of Americans don’t seem to know or care that he is turning your country into a global pariah. But it’s quite clear he sees emergency aid to 3.5 million stricken American citizens in purely economic, transactional terms and has no concept of, or concern for, human suffering; especially among Americans that don’t have a vote on the mainland; or among Gold Star families.

It must surely be evident to all Americans that Donald J Trump is a reeking bag of semi-composted shit? The most horrible excuse for a human being, not just to occupy the White House, but of all time? Even Adolf Hitler loved his dog.

The Guardian reported: “Trump suggested the mayor had been told “to be nasty to Trump” by his Democratic opposition.” Everything is always about Liddle Donny, isn’t it? He has literally no conception of anything existing outside his own fucking Thomas Pink suit. Hopefully this astonishing behavior by the President, making George W Bush’s indifferent response to Katrina look like Mother Teresa, will be the death sentence of his presidency.

But no. There is no stinking, slimy turd a Republican politician won’t swallow for breakfast, lunch and tea to cling on to a tiny slice of ‘power’.

Yesterday, Homeland Secretary Elaine Duke announced she was “very satisfied” with progress on the island, following the Trump lie that: “it was: ‘a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people'”. That was hours before she arrived on the island for the first time and actually reached some people; following which, there was a complete turnaround in her attitude. Visibly shocked, she admitted that more could be done.

Trump, however, has his own unique way of doing things. After moaning for several days that his friends in the shipping industry would lose money, he finally caved-in and agreed to a temporary suspension of the Jones Act – punitive 1920s legislation protecting American trade with Puerto Rico, that has been preventing any shipping under other flags from docking with emergency supplies.

If you really need more evidence that the 45th incumbent is certifiably a psychopath, consider the argument he has been putting forward in his ridiculous childish tweets the past few days: that Puerto Rico was already a poor country, a drain on the US economy and Wall Street, so any aid given should be proportionate only to immediate need and no infrastructure that was in disrepair before the two hurricanes should be replaced at US taxpayer expense until the island authorities pay what they owe.

Again, he appears completely unaware of the irony that the Act imposed crippling tariffs on exports to Puerto Rico, which has since become a US dependancy. If Puerto Rico is an unacceptably dependent nation economically, it is principally the fault of successive US governments and Trump does actually have an opportunity to do something about it; although Puerto Rico’s $75 billion debt is 100% owned by US hedge funds who are milking it for all it’s worth. He appeared to be unaware, too, that the US Virgin Islands are US territory, announcing that he had “met with the President” of the devastated Caribbean islands of which he is, nominally, the President.

As for the deadly California wildfires, well, he lost the popular vote in California by 4 million so he’s not going there in a hurry, however many Americans get burned to death. Fuck ’em, losers.

Promoting special interests

Mr Trump makes these statements completely oblivious to the fact that he himself owes approximately $1.9 billion to up to 70 banks around the world, and despite the weight of potential compromise this presents to national security, has no intention of ever paying them back (he sues them when they ask for their money).

While defending the taxpayers, he boasts of having personally paid no income tax for almost 20 years. Despite ongoing investigations, he continues to profit from official use of facilities he owns at the public expense, and from licensing the use of his personal brand as President on properties co-developed with known foreign racketeers and money-launderers.

Despite promising to ‘drain the swamp’ of Washington lobbyists, he has promoted special interests in finance, the private medical, energy and chemical industries to the highest offices of State while attempting to amend or repeal any and all laws they perceive as restrictions on their business activities.

He mentors his son-in-law Jared Kushner in his policy of thieving money from banks: himself placed in high office, despite his complete lack of experience in government or politics, Kushner has been going cap-in-hand to wealthy ‘friends’ in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, scrabbling for sofa-change to repay the more than $1 billion dollars HE owes to 20 banks after a disastrous New York property speculation: yet has meanwhile had a fair number of his family’s property management company’s poorest tenants arrested and imprisoned for late payment of rent.

There has been a constant swirl of media speculation for many years over the extent of Mr Trump’s possible criminality, never proven. One instance of this may have been betrayed by Trump himself.

During the transition period, it emerged that a 35-page dossier detailing what might be described as compromising material held over Mr Trump by Russian intelligence agencies was being reviewed by the CIA and FBI. Part of it referred to a bizarre sex session in a Moscow hotel room. Mr Trump defended this allegation in a curious way, saying that as someone who owned many hotels, he knew all about covert filming.

The inference was not drawn at the time, but it happened to be the case that Kushner’s father was serving a five-year prison term. His offence of business fraud had been exacerbated by further charges relating to his attempts to pervert the course of justice by, in this case, blackmailing his brother-in-law, who had been called as a material witness. Kushner Senior sent a videotape to his own sister, showing her husband in a compromising situation with a prostitute in a hotel room.

There is no imputation of course that Mr Trump had any involvement whatever, but it suggests a degree of sleaze within the circles he moves in that might call in question his fitness to hold the highest office.

Mr Trump has been accused by at least one prominent Senator in his own party of failing to respect the rule of law. That’s over the Justice Department’s special investigation into what appeared to be crude attempts by the President to divert or halt an FBI investigation into possible links between his election campaign and Russian intelligence, that might amount to obstruction of justice.

Senator John McCain has stood out against Trump’s cynical health ‘reform’ bill that will see 30 million poorer Americans deprived of health care: Trump’s response has been to issue dire threats by tweet against the dying McCain, who has incurable brain cancer but is lucid enough in seeing through the fatuous, vain, incompetent blowhard in the White House.

I repeat: Donald J Trump is an orange-coloured sack of congealed, putrid greed: the sickest, nastiest, most vindictive, most infantile, poisonous, deranged, incompetent and ignorant reptile to assume office since the Emperor Caligula.

For all that, 37% of his supporters who identify as ‘marginalized’ by Washington say they would never abandon their loyalty to Trump under any circumstances.

This is surely a serious state of affairs.

It’s been calculated that Mr Trump’s ‘beautiful’ $5 trillion tax reforms, which – he lies – will benefit the lower-paid and the middle-class most, will in fact leave him personally $1 billion richer, millions poorer, and the Treasury bankrupt. Oh, and by the way, the tax rate for the lowest-paid will rise from 10 to 12 per cent…. but the top tax rates for high-earners and corporations will fall considerably, while the heirs of wealthy property owners not unlike Mr Trump will no longer have to pay inheritance tax on their $billions of assets, which thus become more negotiable in the heretofore.

Mr Trump has also fallen out with numerous senior Republican colleagues over their failure to steer through Congress, a bill replacing Obama’s Affordable Care Act with a new health insurance system that would have the effect of stripping 32 million people of their entitlements to healthcare. He appears to be entirely ignorant of or indifferent to the inevitable effects of his sop to the criminally greedy pharmaceuticals industry, many of whose leaders are either on trial or under Congressional investigation for hiking drug prices beyond reason.

On foreign relations, Mr Trump already has a disastrous record of upsetting the US’s allies while encouraging its enemies; he has raised the level of violence in US engagement in foreign conflicts, resulting in a massive increase in ‘collateral’ civilian deaths without providing any clear policy direction to end conflict.

Though pushing Congress to vote an additional $85 billion for the military appropriations budget, claiming falsely that Obama had run it down, he has nevertheless caused great concern among the generals with his tweeted attacks on LGBQ and Transgender service personnel and insults to dead or wounded veterans and their families. His response to that is to call for a tenfold increase in nuclear warheads, while already possessing more than are needed to extinguish life on earth. He is clearly insane, but we can have little confidence that his military aides will put a bullet through his diseased brain the moment he calls for the nuclear football to obliterate North Korea, Iran, or whoever incurs his wrath that morning.

He has effectively gutted international diplomatic expertise within the State Department, marginalized and demeaned his bovine Secretary of State, and is blundering ever-deeper into dangerous and childish tit-for-tat brinkmanship with at least two nations on the verge of becoming nuclear powers. For much of his presidency he has been under the malign influence of Steve Bannon, a calculating and nihilistic Svengali bankrolled by crazed ultra-rightwing Christian billionaires.

I’m really not sure what it will take to see this greedy, thuggish, ignorant, poorly self-managed and profoundly corrupt individual, a squeezer of the pips so appalling even God Himself could not wash him clean, strung up on piano wire in the public square like Mussolini, whose more presidential facial expressions he likes to imitate. But something must surely be done.

Or am I angrier that Britain is becoming, if possible, an even more divided and horrible nation than Trump’s America?

 

“An investigation is currently underway into the circumstances surrounding a 28-year-old Polish man who recently died after an attempt to kill himself at Harmondsworth detention centre in London. A Home Office spokesperson said: “We have toughened our response to foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality.” – The Guardian, 30 September.

“Please, can anyone afford a can-opener?” Three-quarters of a million people rely on food banks as poverty and homelessness rise sharply after seven and a half years of Tory government. (Photo: itv.com).

That’s right. Oh, but we haven’t left the European Union yet, have we. Our hardworking Polish friends have an absolute right to live and find employment in Britain. Many have done so since World War Two, when they were rewarded for their heroism at fighting Nazis on our behalf and bred a new generation of Anglo-Polish professionals. I was forgetting.

‘Anything you can do, I can do worse’, surely goes the Tory party song. For we read this morning an article in The Guardian by a woman who writes that she has colleagues at work like herself, who are having to use food banks and payday loans to get their families through to the end of the week – and she’s a Benefits Advisor working in a job centre, turning desperate people away every day.

Public-sector pay in Britain is an international scandal. In order to bailout the banks in 2008, pay increases for the police, fire service, teachers, nurses and hospital ancillaries, ambulance crew, cleaners, home-carers, local government workers have been capped at 1 per cent for the past eight years, and local authority service budgets cut to the marrow, while ‘inflation’ has been running at between 1.9 and 2.9 per cent a year, on the official indices, leaving millions of working people in the real world far behind. Working families so poor, they cannot send their children to school with breakfast inside them. Thus, Mrs May proposed before the election that it would be a good idea to scrap the provision of school breakfasts.

Thus too, a woman interviewed on the BBC this morning, a working mother of two who has literally no money, not even fourpence in her purse – yet is theoretically entitled like the rest of us to some State support. Why then has she no money to buy food or pay rent? Because of Iain Duncan Smith’s devastatingly cruel and incompetent mishandling of the switch from multiple benefits to a single-provider scheme that his successor, a servile, fuckwitted party hack named David Gauke, proposes to continue with despite massive public opprobrium.

This Duncan-Cunt (Conservative and Unionist Neo-Thatcherite) has left thousands of claimants in suspension, waiting many weeks to receive the first grant of less money than they were previously getting, unable to buy food or pay rent. He is, like Trump, a sociopath, completely oblivious to the suffering of others. Many of them are in work, but thanks to Cunt’s Universal Credit wheeze, the new cap on housing benefit that makes living in London impossible for the low-paid, the abolition of child benefit for any more than two children and the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ – filching money from social housing tenants who might be left with what the authorities consider to be a ‘spare room’ in their unit – they are falling ever deeper into poverty, debt and homelessness.

But the aforesaid Gauke thinks it’s all going swimmingly.

And that’s not even starting on people with disabilities, whose Independent Living Allowance (extra money enabling them to, for instance, afford a mobility scooter to get to work) has been scrapped; a blind man with multiple health issues was told by a judge two weeks ago, his local authority had a legal right to take away even the meagre support services they provided for him. That’s a legal right conferred by the Tories, may they rot in Hell.

While for years their private-sector proxies have been denying sick and disabled people the benefits they need on the basis of inept, medically irrelevant, inadequate, often abusive and mismanaged ‘assessments’, that they are blaming on the previous ‘Labour’ government.

Oh, said the junior minister on the radio yesterday (the senior minister refused to go on), but things are getting better! If anyone isn’t getting their benefit entitlement in good time, it’s probably because they’ve filled in the endless forms incorrectly; not submitted enough ‘evidence’ of desert. Not everyone has a computer with access to Broadband (the only way to claim… or pay 55p a minute to be kept hanging on the helpline for an hour), nor has everyone an A-level in English language, and may have to travel miles to find a library or a Citizens’ Advice Bureau still open. They can always apply for interim loan payments – yes, of course, they have to pay those back at 63 per cent, and they’re not available in every case, but …

These smug, lousy Tory shit-spewers can out-Trump Trump in cruelty anyday.

At the same time, CEO pay in the top 100 companies has been rising exponentially. The average is now £4.3 million – and that’s just the basic. Yet successive reports by economists have shown that company profits and productivity lag far behind executive rewards. Three Tesco executives went on trial yesterday, charged with cooking the books – share-price manipulation is the name of the game in the City today, but not enough end up in court. Millions of private pension owners have been told they’ll be lucky to get half what they’ve been paying-in for. Where’s the money gone? Nobody seems to know, although like the burghers of Londonderry, the investment management community, people like Mrs May’s husband Phil and Home Secretary, Amber Rudd and her noxious family business grow suspiciously ever fatter.

Billions are squandered on vanity projects, consultants and government maladministration. Our military contracting is disastrous: the latest scandal is the issue of the Foxhound, a transport vehicle purpose-designed to replace the lethal ‘Snatch Land-Rover’, to protect troops against roadside IEDs in hot countries, that cost £1 million each and are constantly breaking down through overheating; while the Navy’s new Type 45 destroyers are laid up in dock having new power plant fitted as the original engines didn’t produce enough electricity to power the weapons control systems. Artificers have had to cut holes in the sides of the ships to get the engines out, as they weren’t designed to be removed for servicing. (Postscriptum: and the rumor now is that two amphibious assault landing-craft support ships – one of which is currently providing emergency aid to the British Virgin Islands – are to be scrapped, effectively removing any role for the Royal Marines.)

Are the Russians running the Defence Ministry?

Thousands of doctors and nurses are fleeing the National Health Service because the government cannot bring itself to upset the editor of the Daily Mail, a small-minded Jingoistic bully called Paul Dacre, and offer them long-term security of residence. Incompetent baboons at the Home Office are sending out daily letters threatening to deport professional people who have lived here for thirty years, are married to British citizens and have children with them, born in the UK. Sound familiar, American reader? Schools are having to pass the begging bowl around parents to scrape together enough money, not to – I don’t know, run a sports day, take a party to Paris for the day or fix the gym roof – but to BUY TEACHERS.

The Three Brexiteers: Davis, ‘The Doctor’ and Doris (r)

Despite the many challenges, at this critical juncture British politics has come down to a contest of inanities between ambitious little shits and Empire-loyalist throwbacks, overentitled ‘populist’ publicity junkies like Johnson, Farage and, God forbid, the vapid neo-medievalist Rees-Mogg. Our Brexit ‘negotiating team’ is looking everyday more like the Marx Brothers of Brussels. As was shown by the Brexit vote, the majority of British voters are vacuous and poorly-informed middle-Englanders closeted in their own filter-bubbles, plugged into their little headsets, forever texting one another, mind-numbed by ‘reality’ TV shows and cheap talent contests, reliant more on personal ‘feelings’ than facts to guide them and living in a permanent Groundhog Day, divorced from memory and rapidly losing the capacity to process real-world issues. (I am working with a group of young people currently who have no idea whatever about contemporary politics or history.)

Is it any wonder the number of Britons frantically searching their family tree for connections and applying for foreign citizenship is rising by the day? Just like the Republican government in America, the rich have declared war on the poorest, who are blaming us, the sentient ones in the middle. Who would want to be part of this shameful farrago if they could find somewhere decent, clean and competently managed to live? No wonder two hundred thousand people volunteered for a one-way mission to Mars.

Get these amoral, clueless, self-serving fucking Tories; those devious, smarmy Republican cunts and Magic Christians out of office.

Just get them out.

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“It’s classic psy-ops warfare. And the most devilish part of it is, now we know what’s going on we can’t trust anyone or anything we see and hear!”

The land of smoke and mirrors

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwCcbaAOzKQ

I urge anyone interested in learning about the extent of Russia’s disruptive use of social media to watch the first part of this 27 September issue of Rachel Maddow’s top-rated MSNBC cable news show.

As she reports, it has become clear from investigations by serious news media in the USA that the abuse of social media sites Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and blogs such as Breitbart News and InfoWars by a coordinated campaign using hundreds of botnets and fake accounts to create false-front organizations putting out micro-targeted propaganda designed to create and exploit social division throughout the West has gone far further than previously thought.

Russian interference has not been confined to meddling with the elections in the USA and, as the BogPo has frequently commented, Great Britain’s disastrous EU referendum.

Maybe he thought the voters wanted him to be President because he’s so accomplished, tactful and charming?

Prior to the invasion of Crimea and SE Ukraine, for instance, thousands of Ukrainian Twitter accounts were deliberately shut down by a concerted ‘Report abuse’ attack falsely claiming tweets were pornographic; this increased the ‘space’ for a campaign of pro-Russian tweets from fake accounts blaming neo-Nazis for mounting a coup. Last weekend’s general election in Germany produced a stunning advance for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland party, gaining 90 seats to make them the third largest group in the Bundestag. With the financial and online support of Russian hackers, bloggers and botnets their campaign may have been aided by fake news reports against migrants and refugees.

And we know all about Kremlin funding for Marine le Pen’s failed presidential bid in France; and can see how the Macron presidency is being persistently undermined and attacked so that his popularity rating is already lower after only six weeks than that of his hapless predecessor, François Hollande, on leaving office. How much of what is going on in our increasingly divided and divisive politics in the UK is real, and how much engineered online?

In a seminal report by Alastair Sloan and Ian Campbell writing in Open Democracy UK, we are challenged to explain how Mr Arron Banks spent £9 million funding Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party and the Brexit ‘Leave.UK’ campaign, whose officers included long-term colleagues of his, on a business valuation putting his personal fortune at less than £22 million, which in itself is a dubious figure? Where did the money come from, to support a man whose many low-rent ‘motorcycle insurance’ companies were kept from bankruptcy only by virtue of a system of internal sales and loans? And who put him up to it?

http://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/how-did-arron-banks-afford-brexit

The point being, it doesn’t matter whether or not the outliers whom the Russians promote succeed, as long as the process itself causes more useful bitterness and division the damage is done. Putin didn’t really care whether Trump got elected or not, just as long as the election resulted in the maximum chaos and further undermined America’s already pretty tenuous grasp on democracy. As Maddow reports, Russians have even infiltrated lunatic fringe organizations seeking independence for Texas and California.

Mr Putin and his clever cronies do not just want power at home, they have found ingenious ways to project it abroad, offering financial and logistical support to just about anyone who expresses a desire and some capability to upset the prevailing order.

Maddow cites a NYT report today that a false-front Muslim League of America lobbying organization was created to spread fake news favorable to the pro-Trump conspiracy, for instance linking the Clintons and Sen. John McCain with ISIS; and how an entire community was set against itself when a small-town news story was blown out of proportion to target Syrian refugees implicated in a child-rape scandal that never happened; nor were there even any Syrian refugees in the town – yet the story gained traction and ran for several weeks in the rightwing media until the damage was done.

It’s classic psy-ops warfare. And the worst of it is, now we know what’s going on we can’t trust anyone or anything we see and hear! It means too that we can’t either believe or disbelieve stories about the extent of Russian interference in our democratic processes….

Twitter executives are shortly to be questioned by the Congressional committee investigating Russian interference in the US election. That news in itself will further undermine public confidence. President Zuckerberg of ‘Facebookistan’ last week executed a remarkable turnaround when he finally admitted after months of blanket denials that his 2-billion-strong social media site had effectively been taken hostage by Russian military intelligence back in 2015, and that fake campaign advertising had been paid for through Russian bank accounts.

Again, many people now realize they can’t trust what even their friends are telling them on Facebook; while others won’t believe it’s false news, whatever you try to tell them.

It seems clear, as the BogPo has previously reported, that the Russians are also relying on third-party actors in Western countries having whatever degree of media ownership, data analysis skills or penetration and intrusion capabilities, even bona fide agencies who may be borrowed or hired or otherwise recruited to the cause, wittingly or unwittingly, to assist with targeting and the creation of fake messages.

The (disputed) use of Bob Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica company to micro-message voters, and of companies involved with voter registration to gerrymander constituencies and rig voting machines, has been widely reported on, if not yet proven; many more small tech businesses may have been used in the same way; but it raises the possibility at least that Trump may not have had much clue what was going on as all this would have been happening in the background to his campaign and he is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

Maybe he thought the voters of America really wanted him to be President because he’s so accomplished, tactful and charming?

In today’s world of ubiquitous, highly personalized media creating instantly disinformative echo-chambers, or what people of my generation used to call the rumour mill, you cannot trust any source even when it seems to have been verified by many other sources.

That’s a considerable victory for Mr Putin, as it’s rapidly turning the rest of the world into a facsimile of Russia: the land of smoke and mirrors.

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Granny W. – a sense of déjà vu

“Researchers found that forest areas in South America, Africa and Asia – which have until recently played a key role in absorbing greenhouse gases – are now releasing 425 teragrams of carbon annually, which is more than all the traffic in the United States.” – The Guardian, 28 Sept., from a report in Science magazine.

Scientists combined 12 years of satellite data with field studies. They found a net carbon loss on every continent due to degradation of forest not normally visible from satellites, below canopy level, where clearance has been taking place. The world’s forests, they say, are no longer working as a ‘carbon sink’ and recommend an emergency replanting program. 

In the last week:

Uganda: 16 dead, 14 injured, ‘scores’ missing after ‘abnormal’ heavy rains cause landslides in Rubanda, in the west of the country.

China: at least 8 dead, 4 missing in floods and heavy rainfall in central areas of the country over the last few days. “Flooding has affected 116,000 people in the provinces of Hubei, Chongqing and Shaanxi. Around 2,400 homes have been damaged and over 20,000 people evacuated to emergency shelters… Hanzhong in Shaanxi province recorded 55 mm of rain per hour.”

Indonesia: people reported trapped in floods that inundated much of the city of 14 million people (28 Sept.). “The floods were the most widespread to hit Jakarta in recent memory. Authorities said at least four people were killed and 20,000 evacuated.”

Philippines:  “Flash floods triggered by heavy rain that began on Friday, 22 September. The city of Bacolod in Negros Occidental province was the worst hit, officials say over 8,000 people were affected.  Flood water was waist deep in some areas.”

Australia: large parts of New South Wales and Queensland sweltered in 42 deg C. (107.6 F) heat over the weekend and the ‘unusual’ early spring heatwave is forecast to continue on and off, possibly into the even hotter summer. A huge 12 deg. C. seasonal temperature anomaly was recorded over much of the SE region.

Iceland: “Several rivers have overflowed in parts of south east and east Iceland after a period of heavy rain from 26 September. Levels of the Skaftá river at Sveinstindur and the Ölfusá at Selfoss, among others, increased dramatically. Levels have fallen over the last few hours as the rain has eased, although more rain is forecast and further flooding could be expected.” Roads and bridges washed out.

USA: a tropical weather ‘disturbance’, 99L is bringing up to 5 inches of rain to Florida and Louisiana over the weekend, after a record-setting September hurricane season (40 days of cyclones at hurricane strength). Heavy rainfall is also forecast over Puerto Rico and other islands already hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria. 64.58 inches of rain observed at the Texas town of Nederland during Hurricane Harvey is confirmed as the new rainfall record during a tropical cyclone at any U.S. location.

California: whipped by 25 mph ‘Santa Ana’ wind, the 2,600-acre Corona Canyon fire on the edge of LA is 75% controlled (01 Oct.) after hundreds of residents of Orange County were evacuated. Nearly two thousand firefighters attended the blaze. As snow comes early to Montana and Idaho, racked by earth tremors from the Yellowstone magma chamber recharging beneath, there are still some 23 large fires burning in western states, including 11 in Oregon.

Town of Lynn in Massachusetts underwater after heavy rain. Chicago and midwest bask in 30 deg. C+ record late-September heatwave.

Florida: Army engineers battling to reinforce barrage at Lake Okeechobee before the next hurricane brings more torrential rain. “The lake level stood at 16.3’ above sea level on Thursday, well above the maximum 15.5’ level the Army Corps of Engineers tries to maintain in order to relieve pressure on the aging Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds the lake.” See Wikipedia entry for story of the ecological disaster the lake has been over the years, including 1928 when 2,500 people drowned in a partial dam-burst.

Mexico: Nuevo Laredo floods and thousands of acres underwater as the Rio Bravo bursts its banks after torrential rainstorm. Nueva Leon including Juarez and Monterrey similarly underwater after intense rainfall.

Colombia: Baranquilla underwater as torrential rains bring flash flooding; streets turn to boiling rivers, etc.

Nicaragua: Managua underwater, etc. Morons still driving through 3ft of water and stalling. Understand: once your exhaust pipe is blocked by water a petrol engine will stall and you could drown.

Honduras: San Pedro, ditto.

Guatemala: 5 people killed in landslide caused by heavy rain as village washed away near Verapaz. Getting a sense of déjà vu watching this footage.

Trinidad: extensive flooding in Santa Cruz. Expensive homes damaged.

British Columbia: things are starting to calm down, only seven ‘fires of note’ are still burning, and only four new large fires have been reported in the last two days. Many smaller fires are still not out, but forest trails are being reopened.

Europe: the Copernicus EFFIS fire survey shows that areas at extreme danger of fires have reduced to just a small part of Turkey, but large areas of Spain, the northeastern Mediterranean and around the Black Sea are still at high risk and there are numerous fire sites indicated that have been burning over the past 7 days up until 27 September.

Greece: “Over 270 mm (10 in.) of rain in 3 hours fell on the northern Aegean Sea island of Samothraki, Greece, causing severe damage to roads, cars and buildings, including a health centre. Images showed streets buried in mud and flood debris over 1 metre deep. Power and drinking water supply has been cut and schools closed.”

Italy: Syracuse, Sicily, underwater due to intensive rainstorm.

Turkey: Istanbul hit by extreme rainstorm for the fourth time this summer. Parts of the city under 3ft of water. Apocalyptic flash-flood hits Çayeli in SE Turkey.

UK: Remnants of both Hurricane Lee and Hurricane Maria are expected to combine to bring storm force winds and heavy rain to most of the British Isles by the beginning of next week.

End of days…

Ring of Fire: as ‘experts’ announce that the flurry of seismic activity, with new M6+ earthquakes and volcanoes popping off all around the Pacific rim in recent days and weeks, including three M6 quakes or greater in Mexico in just over a week is ‘coincidence’ (these idiots are SCIENTISTS?), all 11,000 people on the island of Ambae to the north of Vanuatu are being evacuated as a massive volcano continues to erupt. Most of Ambae’s population is already sheltering in evacuation centres on the island after the Manaro Voui volcano rained rocks and ash on their villages, but they’re running out of food and water.

Meanwhile, ‘experts’ are continuing to keep watch on Mt Angung, the precarious sacred volcano on the tourist paradise island of Bali that has led to 75,000 people being evacuated beyond a 7 km exclusion zone, mindful of the 1963 eruption that killed 1,500 people. There’s been seismic activity too at Krakatoa, the Indonesian volcano that blew itself to pieces in 1883, which has been steadily rebuilding its cone. But Yellowstone looks a little quieter – not necessarily a good sign.

Floodlist/ D Mail/ ABC/ SBS.com/ Telegraph/ The Press Enterprise/ BC wildfire service/ Wunderground/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #70


The value of experience? No-platform for the victims.

“Both of these events will to [sic] cause Jewish students to feel uncomfortable on campus and that they are being targeted and harassed for their identity as a people and connection to the Jewish state of Israel,” Freeman told Westlake. “I would be grateful if you could look into these events and take the appropriate action.” – The Guardian, 29 September.

Of course it is dreadful that young people should be made to feel uncomfortable – especially Jewish students who already feel, well, uncomfortable, as the media continues to report on the rise of right-wing movements throughout Europe.

And it is clearly wrong that Jewish students, or indeed any students, should be targeted and harrassed for their identity as a people.

The Westlake in the pull-quote is Michael, Head of Student Experience (W1A is alive and well) at the venerable and renowned Manchester University, and the Freeman is something or other, a ‘cultural attaché’ – for which, presumably, read ‘Mossad agent’ – at the Israeli embassy in London.

Freeman was writing to Westlake essentially to thank him in advance for no-platforming a speaker whose talk was to be entitled: ‘You are doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to me’.

You might by now be imagining that the University was preparing to host an official torchlight rally of brownshirts or Trump supporters and the ceremonial burning of synagogues. But no. It may come as a surprise to know that the speaker, Marika Sherwood is herself a Holocaust survivor.

It is a fact, uncomfortable to the despicable Netanyahu regime, that many Jews like Sherwood are horrified and shamed by the State’s hardline approach to the stalled settlement talks and the continuing illegal settlement of the West Bank, mainly by fanatical American religionists, crazies who argue with the support of the government and the packed courts that God promised them the land.

It should be remembered that the Palestinians, whom even Israeli historians are slowly beginning to understand on the basis of archaeological evidence are the same people as the Jews, were ruthlessly expelled or slaughtered in their hundreds of thousands – targeted and harassed, in the modern parlance – during the ethnic cleansing that accompanied the founding of the Israeli state in 1947/8; many have been languishing, even unto the third generation, in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan ever since. The history is of course buried and denied by the corrupt Zionist mafia that runs the Israeli state today.

However, following the intervention of the Israeli ambassador, Mr Mark Regev, formerly a notorious media apologist for every sickening act of brutality against the remaining Palestinian population of Israel and Gaza, a slimy PR shill for successive Israeli governments attempting to shut down the mildest questioning of policy, who throws around disgusting accusations of ‘antisemitism’ against any objectors, who personally travelled to Manchester to bully the Senate into backing off the talk due to be held in ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ – itself a dreadful calumny against the junta of self-righteous bigots in Tel Aviv – the university caved-in.

The next day, reports the Guardian:

“a university official emailed Huda Ammori, the event’s (Jewish) organiser, with conditions. Academics chosen to chair the meetings were replaced by university appointees, publicity was limited to students and staff, and the organisers were told talks would be recorded. Ammori was told: “For ‘A Holocaust survivor’s story and the Balfour declaration’ the use of the title or subheading, ‘You’re doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to me’ is not to be permitted, because of its unduly provocative nature.”

Just who the hell does this pompous little sonofabitch Australian migrant, Regev, think he is, and what right does he imagine he has to go around flaunting his self-conferred authority – which is, I venture to suggest, derived solely from the experience of Jews in the Holocaust, survivors like Marika Sherwood, whom he denies and dishonours – to control whatever is said about his unpleasant country – I’ve been there, believe me it’s pretty ghastly – in a free society?

‘The appropriate action’…? ‘Academics replaced’…? ‘Talks would be recorded‘…? ‘Is not to be permitted’…?

I’ll leave you to decide who the fucking Nazis are.

And while we’re at it, I should point out, technically Israel is a secular, not an Orthodox, Jewish state. In 1948, the founder, David Ben-Gurion, speaking at the United Nations, declared it to be such, going on to say:

“The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

Nothing in those soaring words about censorship, oppression, constant breach of UN resolutions, bullying and ethnic cleansing? It’s only rabid neo-Zionists like Regev who’ve made it into an authoritarian religious state, in defiance of Ben-Gurion’s pledge; and taken it upon themselves to monitor, censor and control whatever is said about it, anywhere in the world. Why should our institutions accede to his impertinent demands, his blackmail?

This is not about Judaism, Semitism – it is entirely and cynically political.

Let’s recall how in 2014, Regev and the British-Jewish establishment put intolerable pressure on the BBC to censor a combined charities appeal for aid for the people of Gaza, a walled ghetto created by the state of Israel to contain one and a half million Palestinians, men, women and children, which they had mercilessly and indiscriminately bombed and shelled with illegal phosphorus munitions for many days, just like the Nazis did, killing and maiming thousands, in reprisal for acts of defiance by hopeless, under-employed and under-equipped young Hamas fighters.

It really is time to stand up to these self-appointed arbiters of truth and justice, the hypocritical rewriters of history, and say, look, we’re not going to be told what we can and cannot say by you. You’ve got enough concessions from us on free speech already, we’re not going to be guilt-tripped any longer and if you want our respect you’ll stop this nonsense and grow up.

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/sep/29/manchester-university-censors-title-holocaust-survivor-speech-criticising-israel

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No fair, lady!

The late Hugh Hefner of Playboy is to be interred at Forrest Lawn, LA, in a catafalque next to Marilyn Monroe. It’s said the old lecher paid $75 thousand in 1992 for the plot adjacent to America’s second most potent sex symbol.

I wonder what she’ll make of that.

boo boop de doo?

 

May wins: Election Special. Plus: Striking a blow for intelligent pensioners everywhere. And: The Guardian – Hell hath no fury like a 50-year-loyal reader scorned.

“I have accepted in the interests of national unionism that the earth is strong, stable – and completely flat.”

 

“…if they rumble me, already at 34 a lifelong Labour voter, I could end up as several trays full of bleeding, raw-meat canapés…”

Election Special

Three words I never imagined I would hear in my lifetime:

“Labour wins Kensington”.

This election has thrown up many wild surmises and strange portents, but the idea that one of the country’s wealthiest boroughs should in a thousand years by a majority of 20 votes have elected a Labour politician to represent it, the posh part of London where indeed your Uncle Bogler first drew breath and shortly afterwards inhaled his first Capstan Full Strength, is possibly the most unexpected.

I can only conclude that so much property has been flogged off at inflated prices to UHNW (Ultra-high net worth) foreigners laundering their ill-gotten gains, Qataris and so forth, that their much put-upon housekeepers, bored chauffeurs and window-box trimmers are the only ones actually living in Kensington during the week, who are eligible to vote.

I recall, indeed who could ever forget, being invited to an election-night party at the Knightsbridge cottage home of Lord St Aubyn, an old school chum of my stepfather’s.

It was 1984, and Mrs Thatcher was in the process of securing a resounding majority from a nation grateful for her torpedoing of the Argentinian capital ship, the General Belgrano, with the loss of hundreds of young lives, in a cowardly attack while it was steaming away from the Falkland Islands.

The tiny house – more of a pied à terre – was packed with identical-looking 30-something city boys wearing identical striped Jermyn Street shirts and red braces, their identically self-satisfied, blue-jowled faces flushed with champagne and the smell of power.

“They set up a terrible baying noise”

Each time the TV anchors announced another Conservative gain, they set up a terrifying animal baying noise and stamped their Gucci loafers like rutting stags. Rare news of Labour MPs clinging on to their traditional heartland seats produced a low, threatening rumble of hatred, boos and howls of derision – cries of ‘out with the smellysocks!’.

It was clear these Masters of the Universe were historically unaware of where their money had come from in the first place.

After about forty minutes of this I thought, God, if they rumble me, already at 34 a lifelong Labour voter, I could end up as several trays full of bleeding, raw-meat canapés, and fled into the chilly March night.

I don’t recall that Lord St Aubyn received a thank-you note from me, rude I know, but ever since that awful night when the scales finally fell from my eyes, I have hoped (in the Trumpian sense) to someday witness the beautiful sight of a Tory MP dangling from every lamp-post in Whitehall.

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“…I feel I have as much right to satirise the Golden Orb as anyone sipping cocktails in libtard snowflake Manhattan…”

 Too much of a coincidence

The election has been a satisfying victory for we conspiracy theorists.

Who would have dreamed last Thursday that Her Majesty’s Government would end up as the hostage of a tiny bunch of incomprehensible flat-earthers from Belfast?

Clearly, some hidden hand is engineering all these close-run things producing political turmoil around the world?

It is surely not a coincidence that the US Congress has found itself since last November in a similar situation, a minority government dominated by wealthy loonies who believe the world was created in six days and global warming will be fixed by God.

If you haven’t been keeping as close an eye as I have on the incredible events in America – perhaps you’ve not yet retired, I can recommend it – you will not for instance have heard Senator Mark Green of Tennessee defending the disastrous Trumpcare health bill, that on independent analysis threatens to deprive 23 million of the poorer sort of person of their affordable medical insurance while putting $ billions more in the pockets of the wealthiest, whitest 1 per cent.

Sen. Green’s thesis is that the poor don’t need health insurance because Jesus will take care of them. If they have insurance, he argues, they will be less inclined to go to church and pray for salvation; consequently if they get sick it’s their fault.

I assure you he is not the only Republican to express similar sentiments.

Indeed, we find Republican administrations all over the country emboldened by the election of President Trump to pass barbarically regressive legislation, for instance criminalizing the popular protest that is protected by the First Amendment.

Lawmakers in Elk Bend, Minnesota were forced to flee the building after passing a law enabling the county to arrest and charge protestors for the costs of policing demonstrations against themselves; such that had forced them to flee the building. In Washington, a GOP lawmaker recently introduced a bill that would consider protesters to be domestic terrorists (salon.com). North Carolina is hoping to make any kind of public protest illegal, Tennessee having already tried to pass a law protecting car drivers from prosecution if they accidentally run over and kill a protestor blocking the street.

Now, we all know that 97 per cent of the population of Tennessee wake up every morning in their coonskin caps to find themselves still living in the seventeenth century. They can count their lucky stars and stripes on the seven fingers of each hand for Jesus’ love and mercy every day of their blessed lives, and look forward to another sunny afternoon burning witches, scalping injuns, defending the Alamo and marrying their first cousins.

Draining the Swamp: Mr Trump goes to Wall Street.

But this is now the tradition proclaiming Trump as the Great Reformer, returning the US and indeed the world to the era of commonsense, no-nonsense, working-class, outdoorsy American exceptionalism; a viewpoint that is one thousand percent flat-out contradicted by everything the man has said and done since he bullshitted his way into office on a minority vote, appointed five Goldman Sachs executives to his otherwise oil-soaked cabinet and set about lighting a bonfire under every piece of socially progressive legislation that has ever helped the ‘common man’ survive the heartless brutalities of the ruling elite; while drilling the hell out of their cherished monument lands.

(There are currently moves to permit uranium mining in the Grand Canyon and fracking under formerly protected national parks. EcoWatch reports that the federal government is privately subsidizing with taxpayers’ money the already vastly wealthy fossil-fuel bidness to the tune of $700 billion a year.)

America: land of living history

Living in so many time-zones, America must indeed be a strange place. I’ve never been there, never had a desire to go there, but unlike President Trump I am in a very small sense a US taxpayer. I have an IRS number, thanks to a residual trust fund set up by the great-grandfather I never met, whose Irish daughter from Delaware married my gold-digging English paternal grandfather.

Consequently though with every word I write I drift further away from ever being allowed entry via General Kelly’s closing homeland security gates, I feel I have as much right to satirise the Golden Orb as anyone sipping cocktails in libtard snowflake Manhattan or snarfing at their own jokes and cynically milking the witless audience whooping it up on one of those terrible late-night ‘comedy’ shows.

While from the safety of distance I have observed pithily on the subject of time-zones that America has 21st-century technology, mid-20th-century infrastructure, a 19th-century political system, 18th-century justice and 17th-century religious beliefs, based on a 16th-century sense of entitlement to steal anybody else’s land in the name of God and the Crown.

Living history, indeed.

It seems too much of a coincidence, as I say, given events in the USA, that Theresa May has delivered her political agenda into the clutches of a tiny handful of politicians belonging to a minority party founded by that monstrous, bellowing bigot, the Revd Ian Paisley*.

As does the Republican-controlled Congress, so do DUP members of Parliament include proclaimed anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriage, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Catholic, climate-change denying, alt-right fundamentalist Christian Bible truthers and six-day creationists (to be taught in schools, etc….).

Most importantly, they demand the return of loyalists’ right to have a British Union flag flying provocatively over Belfast City Hall – one of the most contentious issues of recent times. A campaign strangely reflected in the recent controversy over flying the Confederate flag and displaying the statues of heroic slave-owning Civil War generals in darkest Alabama.

You see where this has to go?

But at least the minority of DUP followers voted to Leave the EU, unlike the rest of the population of Northern Ireland, so that’s alright.

Strong and stable, then. Not a coalition of chaos.

*We do not forget, however, ‘Dr’ Paisley’s remarkable late-life conversion and friendship with the late Martin McGuinness, former commander of the Provisional IRA.

The flat-earth society awaits the arrival of the mothership.

A time of contradictions

Someone who will no doubt be delighted by this happy turn of events is Mr Jim Dowson.

The Pumpkin has previously commented at length, based on various press and webnews reports, on the activities of this Belfast-born, DUP-supporting, refugee-hunting, alt-right Christian ‘millionaire’ disruptor, who applied his US Patriot News website last year to helping secure both victory for Donald Trump and the Brexit vote – as he believes.

‘Now where did I put my pen?’ Mr Biros Johnson, author of ‘The Idiot’s Guide to Managing Stationery’.

Although Mr Dowson will be disappointed that thanks to significant Tory gains over the Scottish National Party he has been unable to secure a second independence referendum for Scotland, another of his disruptive ambitions, nevertheless Mrs May seems fixed on course for the ‘hard Brexit’ he has campaigned for (ie total economic separation from Europe and an end to EU immigration).

Assuming, that is, she survives the attempts by Boris Johnson, Michael Fallon, Amber Rudd and others to replace her as leader, there being no creature as feral as a Tory scenting blood-loss.

It is of course a time of contradictions, where the old left-right political certainties no longer hold. There is a problem with hard Brexit, specifically in Ireland, where the DUP is in fact supporting the idea of a ‘soft border’; a ‘harder border’ with the Republic would undoubtedly lead to a return to smuggling, gang warfare, IRA violence, Loyalist violence and the complete breakdown of the already fragile Good Friday agreement.

Mr Dowson might not mind that. As described on Wikipedia, in 2012 he co-founded the Protestant Coalition, described as an ‘anti-politics party’, in the wake of which there were violent demonstrations over the vote in Stormont to ban any flags from being flown over City Hall:

“Dowson, a Christian fundamentalist, also led an anti-abortion campaign, the UK Life League. In May 2011 he and (Paul) Golding had launched a new far-right, nationalist movement in Britain, Britain First, to protect “British and Christian morality” and campaign against Islam, immigration and abortion.

Dowson left Britain First, apparently feeling that burning mosques was ‘un-Christian’. At the same time there was some interest in his fundraising activities.

Nevertheless he has been videoed supposedly supplying equipment by night to a party of Bulgarian neo-Nazis hunting down Syrian refugees along the border. His Budapest office is home to his self-styled ‘Knights of Malta’ group, as well as to former BNP leader, Nick Griffin; the Knights’ funding, it’s reported, comes in part from Konstantin Malofeyev, a deeply conservative nationalist oligarch who is a patron of the Russian Orthodox church and yet another ‘spiritual advisor’ to President Putin.

So there’s plenty to feed your conspiracy theories there, guys.

Get to it!

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Who guards the Guardian?

There are two kinds of people, aren’t there. People who read a newspaper because it reinforces their deepest prejudices, and people who read one because they love a bloody good argument before breakfast.

Were I entirely in the latter category, I should purchase a paper copy of the Daily Mail every day, however I don’t. I have an aversion to people who use words like ‘purchase’. The Daily Mail reinforces my deepest prejudice against the middle class, and against the half-human child-eating succubus who edits the paper on a salary of nearly £2 million a year.

Instead, I’ve been a Guardian reader for almost 50 years.

Much of the time I do it because of the pain it causes me. Guardian writers are so fucking smug. Yet their suburban university-educated liberal opinions broadly sit alongside and seldom disturb my own rather more furious vision of the world. I find them trustworthy on facts, anyway, whatever the angle.

Of course, I stopped buying the printed paper version several years ago, while trying simultaneously to give up drinking a bottle of wine every night. I came back to the online version, which is for now at least paywall-free (why call it a ‘paywall’, like something Donald Trump would insanely demand Mexico should pay for? Of course no-one is going to pay for something that prevents them from enjoying it. Call it a ‘special offer’ or something.)

However, I am getting sick and tired of The Guardian‘s prejudice against me.

Here, for instance, is Zoe Williams pontificating sonorously on the election outcome, having invented a new word, ‘subliminating’:

“It is entirely right that, one day, someone would have the genius idea of putting something in a manifesto that actually offered something to the under-60s. We have had decades of decisions made in the interests of the older voter, which have locked the young out of everything, from housing in their own country to the freedom to move to a better one.”

You see? I’m the one who’s been prevented by ignorant and deluded middle-class Daily Mail readers from moving to a better country by their grossly irresponsible, shortsighted and selfish action in voting to drag Britain out of the EU, preferring to transfer our precious ‘sovereignty’ to Boris fucking Kerfuffle Johnson.

Yet for the past year The Guardian has been moaning lazily in cliche-ridden article after cliche-ridden article that, because I’m in my late 60s, while squatting in toadlike isolation in my £1 million, five-bedroomed house and forcing my children to flip burgers to pay exorbitant rent for living in my wine cellar, I must have voted Leave and screwed it up for everyone younger.

Of course I bloody didn’t, and I don’t know anyone here of my own generation who did. What do you think, we’re stupid or something?

Fuck you.

I’m the one who can’t now risk selling up and retiring abroad as I’d been planning, to teach, paint, make music and live on flavourful ripe tomatoes, bread and artisanal cheese and rough red wine, in case I get chucked back out again.

Not only that, but here on the BogPo I was warning as long ago as 2013 that we were heading for the brink of the White fucking Cliffs of Dover. Did you take any notice, bloody Guardian? No, you just sailed on smugly imagining no self-respecting Islingtonians could possibly take issue with your remote-viewing psychic analysis of the state of the nation.

Then for a year after the disaster of the referendum your failed sociologists and Sir Simon Jenkins have wasted thousands of column-inches wringing your liberal hands over the poor misunderstood middle-class and desperately trying to work out what’s gone wrong with the nation when the fish-porters of Sunderland are able to pervert the course of the future?

Wankers.

Yet day after day The Guardian‘s well-paid columnistas continue to drip this ageist poison into the ears of the millennial libtard readership (that’s the second millennium, not the first, which I remember so fondly) whom they are hoping to cultivate beyond the inevitable paywall, insinuating – nay, declaiming that it’s the elderly who are responsible for their economic misery.

Bollocks to that, frankly.

On the one hand you have the Mail, edited by the bullying chauvinist son of a military service-shirker who, unlike Ralph Miliband, sat out the war in New York quaffing champagne with movie stars, blaming it all on the immigrants.

On the other, is The Guardian persuading my 20-something children by my second marriage that euthanasing the old man with the tiny house in the thundering outskirts of a busy seaside town and paying off his retirement mortgage is the only solution to their economic woes.

Well.

Guardian readers who are increasingly confronted with heartbreaking messages about supporting free journalism with voluntary (for now) subscriptions and cash donations, and who may have read with alarm that the title lost £69 million last year and is treating its journalists as if they worked for Sports Direct, need to know about an item that appeared in Private Eye a couple of months ago.

According to the Eye, the Scott Trust, that owns The Guardian and guarantees its independence, is sitting on a cashpile of £700 million.

The Boglington Post. Striking a blow for intelligent pensioners everywhere.

 

Postscriptum

“Hell hath no fury like a 50-year-loyal reader scorned.”

OMG. Only a day after I wrote this piece, the Guardian editor, Katherine Viner, has announced that as part of her extreme austerity agenda, it and its Sunday sister paper The Observer are to go … tabloid.

Her weaselly excuse being that it is somehow an inevitable development of print technology in the 21st century.

That is the fucking end of civilization as we used to know it. The Berliner format was a thing of rare beauty, that gave the paper its distinctive market appeal, branding its readers as a cut above.

If this was Ms Viner’s idea, she should be boiled in oil, doused in animal slurry and handed over to the Taliban for re-education.

Oh, sorry, she is the Taliban.

The paper was getting dire enough as it is, months of snide articles briefing against Jeremy Corbyn being followed in the wake of the election with a wave of sycophantic, hypocritical drool hailing him as the New Messiah; in most cases by the same writers, clearly under marching orders from the appalling Viner woman.

I vow here and now that I will never touch this scabby little organ with a bargepole, ever again. You have now totally fucked it with me and I am converting my laptop thing to the New York Times forthwith.

Hell hath no fury like a 50-year-loyal reader scorned.

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A ruddy good show

A propos well-paid Guardian columnists, Matthew D’Ancona today contributes a bizarre piece confessing that he ‘radically’ failed to notice that there was a groundswell of support building for Jeremy Corbyn, ‘like many other Commentators’.

Yes, Britain is a long way from North London, isn’t it.

Having confessed that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he then goes on to anticipate – indeed, to request – in arrogant Guardianista fashion, publication of a timetable for Theresa May’s resignation.

Finally, on the topic of the inevitable Tory leadership backstabbing bloodfest, that has already begun, he writes thus:

“…do not discount Amber Rudd. In fact, give the home secretary the serious consideration she deserves. In the seven-way shouting match of the BBC leaders’ debate on 31 May, she stood in for the prime minister, though her elderly father had died only days before, and did so with poise, dignity and emotional intelligence as six other politicians berated her. She looked like a leader in waiting.”

Of course, he doesn’t fancy her. As leader of the charge to rehabilitate the saintly Ms Rudd, and sounding like a thoroughly polished and professional PR practitioner looking for a special advisor role in Downing Street, Mr D’Ancona has obviously failed to read the newspaper that has employed him for many years; he may be losing his memory, or he has a ‘radically’ different take on reality from most of us.

On 21 September, 2016, for instance, David Pegg and Holly Watt reported:

“Amber Rudd’s business career has come under scrutiny following a Guardian investigation that reveals her involvement with two companies in an offshore tax haven, and another where her co-director was jailed for fraud.

“The Guardian has also discovered new details about her previous career in venture capital during the boom and bust 1990s. One enterprise led her to become a co-director of Monticello, a company that was at the centre of a share ramping investigation.

“She was also involved in a company prospecting for diamonds in Siberia that was traded on a notoriously unregulated stock exchange.”

This was shortly after her white-haired old ‘venture capitalist’ father Tony had been investigated for the umpteenth time by the financial regulator and declared to be totally unfit to be trusted with other people’s money.

The authors of The Guardian report concluded:

“Though there is no suggestion she was involved in any wrongdoing, the disclosures may cause her some embarrassment…”

Well, if I were Michael Gove or Boris Johnson, Michael Fallon, Nicky Morgan – any Tory politician indeed circling just offshore scenting blood in the water, I’d say they just may.

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And what’s the naughtiest thing Amber Rudd ever did?

No, not running through wheat. According to an old school chum, on their last day at Cheltenham Ladies’ College she tied the legs of the chairs together in the dining-hall!

And then became a merchant banker.

Lock her up!

The Pumpkin – Issue 20: The IQ Test; You sick sack of shit; How Trump is drawing us into war.

“Boris Johnson has said he sees no reason to rescind the invitation to Donald Trump for a state visit, despite the US president’s attacks on the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, after Saturday’s terror attack.” – The Guardian, 6 June.

“I see no shits?”

‘IQ’ test?

‘I Quit’ is what we would all prefer to hear from this odious character.

As the Comments expressing horror and shame at what America has done to itself mount up on the web, many commentators are calling for White House staff to simply take away President Trump’s cellphone.

He previously had a Samsung, but has now apparently acquired a more American-sounding iPhone, manufactured – like his daughter’s fashionable shoe range – by slave workers in China. Separating him from his Twitter feed may be difficult. He seems to have an unlimited budget for replacement cellphones.

For, like your Uncle Bogler, he is at heart an overgrown teenage baboon in the first stages of dementia, who compulsively evacuates in 140 characters or less, a medium that might have been invented for an untreated ADHD individual with a 15 seconds’ attention-span, the thoughts produced by his diseased brain and spews them out into the world through the little magic window; a digital megaphone.

He’d sleep better without it, that’s for sure. But is anyone really receiving his thoughts?

It appears that, of the 30 million or so Followers of @realdonaldtrump Twitter feeds, almost half – over 14 million – are fake accounts.

You can go online and buy Followers? Yes, apparently, for a few hundred bucks you can pick up a million or so non-existent names, according to online newsmouth, David Pakman. And, mirabile dictu, there are other websites you can lookup, that tell you whether someone’s Twitter account is genuine or fake; and how many fake accounts they have, and 14 million is the figure they give @real.

Isn’t technology amazing.

And it doth indeed appear that Mr Trump, or someone ‘close to him in the White House’, the pizza chef, maybe, the butler who brings him his constant supply of fizzy drinks, Jared Kushner perhaps, has been buying up fake Twitter accounts to make the chemically poisoned Prez look better.

Whether the activity is designed to impress the public with his popularity which is about at rock-bottom; or just privately to bolster the confidence of the most insecure and thin-skinned leader since Caligula, or to boost revenue from his click-throughs or whatever (The Pumpkin does not entertain knowledge of the workings of social media accounts) is anyone’s guess.

But how bizarre is it, that he should be so obsessed with his personal popularity ratings, that he is prepared to lie even to himself about the number of people hanging on his tweets, that are mostly just incoherent late-night tirades of abuse directed at Meryl Streep, or Mayor Khan, or the ‘failing New York Times‘, or anyone else he’s seen on Fox News who arouses his foul-natured spleen?

Possibly not as bizarre as the deep denial of the majority Republican party that an elderly man with arrested development who sits up all night tweeting pathetically that everyone is out to get him, can possibly be considered unfit to hold the office of President of the United States a moment longer?

Ghastly and devious though the fundamentalist Vice-President, Mike Pence, may be, the ‘snow-capped walking advert for Anusol’ nailed to a cross, he at least isn’t a mad, childish buffoon given to sudden intemperate reverses of 70 years of US policy, directing a stream of complaints and abuse towards its allies, a diseased Emperor indulging in paranoid nepotism, blatant corruption, blabbermouth security breaches, vain and unwarranted boasting, launching hysterical attacks on his opponents, deliberately impoverishing his subjects’ life chances, compulsively lying, throwing screaming fits at his staff as though they were his own employees and not the Government’s – costing the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars in gratuitous holiday expenses* and keeping his wife a prisoner in a New York tower-block.

Nor is Pence entirely prey to the devious blandishments of the Iago of the Oval Office, Steve Bannon, and the Breitbart conspiracy.

The Vice-President does have the power through the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove the President, at pistol-point if need be, if he shows he is so unstable that he cannot be thought of as fit to continue as Commander-in-Chief.

Which he obviously cannot.

That would be quite in line with the First Amendment right of the People to protest and remove if necessary, an oppressive autocrat.

Trump’s revolting campaign of tirades against the mayor of London, Mr Sadiq Khan, are nasty and racist and personally motivated by hatred of a man who came out months ago with a comment opposing his eagerly anticipated State visit later this year.

It would be wholly inappropriate in the view of The Pumpkin for Trump to be entertained by the frail and ageing Queen, 92, as if he were somehow worthy of the honour of a State visit. He’s done nothing to deserve it. We feel sure she is dreading the occasion, being forced to eat steak with ketchup on, tune all the palace TVs to Hannity Guy and have the Buckingham Palace lawn turned into a putting green.

The Prime Minister puts out that Trump was ‘invited’ by the Queen, but the Queen does not issue those invitations, some aristocratic flunkey in Whitehall does that at the request of Downing Street. We imagine she would rather entertain a ruthless dictator like Robert Mugabe, a British-educated and punctilious man of her own age, than have the vulgar Trumps to dinner and sit through their unspooling marital disaster while waiting for the President to make some abusive attack on Prince Charles, a dedicated tree-hugger; or thrust the poor Duke aside to get to the front of a photo-op, wearing his fake ‘Presidential’ face like the late comedian Frankie Howerd being sodomised by a camel.

Nor do the British people wish to be obliged to watch the spectacle of this ludicrous, vain impostor swishing down the Mall in his hundred-ton motorcade, the all-conquering hero. Fuck that. (Worse still, he’s said to have requested a gilded coach… ’nuff said?) The best thing we can do to protest is just to not turn up at his parade, then he can spend the next six months mumbling and crying like a lovelorn snowflake over the non-existent numbers.

The President who rails against the ‘Fake News’ media is not above descending into the swamp of Fake News himself, fabricating (as he did when he called-out Obama for ‘wiretapping’ the Trump Tower) a libellous and paranoid case that mayor Khan is somehow responsible for encouraging terror attacks in London, fatuously challenging him to an ‘IQ test’.

‘IQ’? ‘I Quit’ is what we would all prefer to hear from this odious, self-serving character.

*Now totalling 23 golf vacations in 19 weeks, at a cost to the public purse of over $30 million….

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A view more charitably expressed if in many ways more alarming can be found at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2jqohySZz4

You can stop at 12 minutes, where he goes to phoned-in questions. Reich – Robert Reich – is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies.

Not just some schmuck.

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You sick sack of shit

“Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.

“…while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses. All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors.”

What’s this about?

Okay, so according to the highly respected financial journal, Forbes magazine, the Trump family has an extensive network of tax-exempt ‘foundation’ charities, and every year the Little Nazi, Uday (Eric), uses his personal foundation to borrow one of Orange Daddy’s golf resorts, he says for free, to host a fundraiser for a kids’ cancer charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

All the money, he tells the wealthy attenders, goes to help the kids.

Only turns out it’s not exactly free. Orange Dad has been billing Eric for the use of the courses at an eyewatering rate, the money’s coming out of the celebrity and business attenders’ donations and instead of going to the charity is being siphoned off to other Trump ‘charities’, from where it’s been used to pay bills.

This, says the story, is not Eric’s idea – it’s the ‘billionaire’ President of the United States who is insisting on getting paid.

In other words, Donald Trump is reportedly bullying his own son to steal money from kids with cancer to line his own pockets.

And Eric Trump has just been on the ratings-loser Sean Hannity show on Fox News, telling the world that Democrats ‘aren’t even human’ because they attack his dad and make things difficult for him? The opposition party? Surely not!

This reinforces The Pumpkin’s theory that it has not dawned on the President that he is a Government employee, not the CEO of some giant corporation he has already admitted is too complicated for one man to run. The functionaries he is screaming abuse at in his mad tantrums are not his employees, they are his colleagues – other Government employees.

That’s because a President is not supposed to ‘run’ the country, he embodies the Constitution, a system of checks and balances that Donald Trump is racing to dismantle because it’s inconvenient and gets in the way of business.

If the story holds up, if they’re bilking genuine charities to fund their phoney ones, I don’t personally think these bottom-feeders should wait to go to hell before they start burning, do you?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2017/06/06/how-donald-trump-shifted-kids-cancer-charity-money-into-his-business/#d2602d46b4a3

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“Western nations are totally out of their depth in the labyrinthine religious, tribal and political twists and turns of this intensely fractured region”

Does he really want the job?own c

The Syria situation has taken a very strange twist, as Saudi Arabia, Bahrein and the UAE, together with Egypt, have turned on their former ally, the tiny oil principality of Qatar, in a bizarre row over supposed Qatari support for Israel and Iran.

Qatar is a strongly Sunni country and, like Saudi Arabia, finances Wahabbism (rightwing fundamentalist Islam) all over the world. The same puritanical beliefs are also held to the extreme by so-called Islamic State and other groups, as well as the Taleban in Afghanistan, that appear to be fuelling a wave of terror attacks, not only in the West but in the Philippines, Indonesia and even as far away as Australia.

Yet Qatar is supporting to the hilt, the allied offensive against ISIS – as is Iran. Russia and Turkey are listed, too, as friends of the Qataris; both oppose Saudi hegemony in the region, and both are actively engaged in the US-led programme to eliminate ISIS while supporting or opposing other militias and the Free Syrian Army, that are also fighting ISIS; but which, beyond the fight against ISIS, are deeply distrustful of, and possibly even fighting against, one another.

In the view of The Pumpkin, this is not a situation in which the West should be involved.

Israel is – well, Israel, and Iran is a Shia theocracy, sworn enemy of both the Israelis and the Sunni Arab tribes. The idea of any Arab state suddenly deciding to support both its sworn enemies in the region against its friends is unusual, to say the least. However, it is Qatar’s perceived support for the universally hated Muslim Brotherhood, as purportedly expressed through Quatar’s global TV news operation, Al-Jazeera, that is uniting the Gulf states against them.

Seizing the moment, Trump has blundered along with the narrative and has been tweeting furiously against the Qataris, calling them terrorism funders, taking boastful credit for the new hardline stance by ‘the leaders’ of the Arab world against the progressive, pro-Western Emir and proclaiming fatuously that his speech in Riyadh was ‘the beginning of the end of terrorism’ – despite, as The Guardian describes it (6 June):

“While in Riyadh, Trump met regional leaders, including the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. He said the US and Qatar had been “friends for a long time” and that the two leaders discussed the Qatari purchase of “lots of beautiful military equipment.”

Now he has performed a 180 degree flip, clearly in the hope of boosting his flagging ratings, or because he forgot, claiming personal kudos for another diplomatic disaster – yet (again) completely undermining his own credibility at the same time.

And he doesn’t get it. His vanity is blinding.

Far from being ‘the beginning of the end of terrorism, Trump’s speech was the starting-gun for Saudi Arabia to flex its muscles in the region, relying on a mountain of ‘beautiful military equipment’ to be supplied by the US arms industry.

Of course the oppressive Saudis are happy to blame little Qatar for all the terrorism, diverting attention from their own monstrous regime. And Qatar’s perceived attempts to mediate with Iran are a perfect excuse to substitute a little terror for all-out war.

Which is all deeply embarrassing to the US military, on the brink of the final ‘push’ against IS in Raqqa. For Qatar hosts the giant al-Udeid airbase, the most important facility in the allied airforces’ Syrian war armoury: and it appears President Trump has forgotten, or maybe never knew, the strategic necessity not to upset the Qataris just yet if he wants to impose the final solution on IS.

White House officials rehearse for Mr Trump’s forthcoming visit to Israel.

So, the Pentagon and White House ‘officials’ (whoever they now are, most have quit or are in hiding or, like Secretary Tillexxon, in constant movement around the globe to avoid encountering his abusive boss) are once again scurrying to distance the administration from deranged tweets fired off like cruise missiles from the iPhone of the lunatic upstairs.

Thus far the Arab states have withdrawn their ambassadors, imposed a blockade on food and other imports coming in over the border and closed most airspace around the small but wealthy city-state on the Gulf, a major oil and gas exporter. It’s pretty serious – about as serious as it gets without a fullscale war breaking out, that could draw in Qatar allies like Turkey, whose troops are already on the way.

But given the tribal and religious dimension, an alliance between Qatar – which has hotly denied the links with terrorism – Israel and Iran seems highly unlikely. While the major exporter of Wahabbist terrorism around the world is, of course, Saudi Arabia. So what could be the reason for the flare-up?

When you go on websites to try to find out what’s afoot in the region, one little word keeps popping up, that may well prove the eventual connection with all this:

Gas.

Qatar shares an enormous gas field with Iran. And we know the Russians are trying to limit output from the gas-rich Middle East to maintain a higher price for their own gas exports, hoping to maintain a strategic advantage over Ukraine and EU consumers and a possible stranglehold in time of conflict.

Similar shenanigans seem to be going on in the Eastern Mediterranean, where various companies including the US-based Noble Energy, a Trump-connected operation, are vying to pipe gas from Israel’s offshore fields under the sea, bypassing Syria and through Turkey, but are being blocked by an Israeli court.

Is part of the Russian rationale for its presence in Syria to prevent that?

Well, CNN has been reporting today that a Russian hack was probably responsible for starting the rumours about Qatari moves to reconcile, both with Iran and Israel.

“US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation. The FBI recently sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident, Qatari and US government officials say.”

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/06/politics/russian-hackers-planted-fake-news-qatar-crisis/index.html

Thus far The Pumpkin has not been able to confirm what that ‘fake news’ story was.

And today there have been two terrorism-related incidents in the Iranian capital: a shootout at the Parliament building and a suicide bombing at the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the revolution, with seventeen now dead. ISIS has claimed it, but the Iranian military is pointing the finger at the Saudis, who threatened them with just such an attack a month ago. Ooops. And in response, in a sinister and vaguely repulsive tweet the White House is blaming Iran as a ‘sponsor of terrorism’ for the attack on its own soil, at one of its most sacred shrines. Ooops.

Something is on the move, guys. Tectonic plates shifting. But what this whole murky affair reinforces is The Pumpkin’s thesis that Western nations are totally out of their depth in the labyrinthine religious, tribal and political twists and turns, the power-plays of this intensely fractured region.

Get the hell out, is our advice. We should surely have learned our lesson after 800 years of this.

But the arms industry won’t let you.

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I’d like you all now to watch this interview and you will learn how Trump is drawing us into war:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lh16ZF1eWbc

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While we’re linking to interesting and educational stuff, here’s a cogent demolition of our own depressing relationship with Saudi Arabia:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/06/theresa-may-wants-to-talk-about-extremism-lets-start-with-our-ties-with-the-saudis

(Kindly note: Some of our links may no longer be live, if they ever were. Cut-and-paste, me hearties! Cut-and-paste.)

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Live by the Saud, die by the Saud

In case you don’t get the point about Sunnis and Shia, the following report from Press TV news might help:

“International rights groups say Saudi Arabia plans to execute 14 Shia civilians following a “grossly unfair trial” over political protests.

“The rise in death sentences against Saudi Arabian Shia is alarming and suggests that the authorities are using the death penalty to settle scores and crush dissent under the guise of combating ‘terrorism’ and maintaining national security,” said Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson on Tuesday.

“Saudi Arabia carried out 153 executions across the kingdom last year….. Saudi officials execute convicts by sword and then dangle their corpses from a helicopter to make sure the public can see the result of the execution. According to Amnesty, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world.”

Indeed. Higher than Arkansas. Higher even, probably, than ISIS.

 

And when I blow like this, bubbles come out. It’s so great.

When once we practise to deceive

With the election ‘n all, if you’ve not been glued to US cable TV news you might have missed the story.

In 2015, Candidate Trump leapt to the forefront of the so-called ‘birther’ campaign against President Obama, claiming his agents had uncovered earth-shaking evidence that 44’s birth certificate was indeed a forgery. Black Satan had in documented fact been born in Kenya, not as claimed in Hawaii, and was therefore not entitled by birth to be the President.

(The story gained further credibility when the original Hawaii births registrar lady died in a light plane crash.)

After a while some suspicion fell on this theory, as Mr Trump seemed almost as unwilling or unable to actually produce the goods on Obama’s origins as he has been over his tax returns. Nevertheless the story gained traction and was widely believed by the dumbfucks who support Trump come hell or high water.

An interview has however resurfaced from last year, in which Jared Kushner, Trump’s plastic toy son-in-law and now chastened former senior White House advisor and property billionaire debtor, battered and deep-fried in the FBI’s investigations into the Russia links, admitted that it was all made up; Orange Dad had not believed for one moment that Obama was not an American citizen.

He had, said Kushner in so many words (I try to forget the exact quote), explained that: ‘Republicans are so dumb they’ll believe anything’.

And they said Mr Trump was a refreshing change from real politicians.