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.

x

“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.

x

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

x

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?

 

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The Pumpkin – Issue #31: The Trumpometer of Lies. The train now departed… V.

“See how this new ‘invisible string’ – a great American invention by the way, it’s terrific, I can tell you – cannot be broken, even by me, the most strongly President since Robert E Lee. I intend to use it to build a wall, and Venezuela will pay for it. Venezuela will pay. Venez… er…. mnblzzzz”

 

“They don’t care, he’s such a refreshing change from infantile, self-serving crooks in the White House.”

The Trumpometer of Lies

My Readers, Spammers, Likers, Followers and Those No Longer Reading This, muh bogl, have been collectively tweeting-out their anger that there hasn’t been a new issue of The Pumpkin for more than a week.

What, they ask, is happening in Trumpworld? Why are we not being told? What are you covering-up?

Well, the short answer is, he’s been on a working holiday. It didn’t really work, Charlottenberg got in the way, and that Nazi thing, many good people.

But the real answer is that we’re increasingly unable to separate fact from fiction in the parallel universe of the redecorated, yet curiously newly aged-looking White House, where Gen. Kelly; an unpaid security guard who’s sure he left his wallet on the bedside cabinet, and the man with shaky hands who serves the President his fizzy Cokes are the only ones left, out of more than 150 staff a week ago.

(BTW, if anyone has a contact for the decorator I’d like it, given that a) he clearly turns up when expected, b) he can redecorate whole rooms in a few days without getting paint on the rugs, and c) he doesn’t mind not getting paid. Just don’t give me the name of whoever suggested those ghastly clashing gold curtains.)

All the leakers have departed, which is why the failing fake nooze media – and let’s charitably remind ourselves it’s still only August – are frantically pedalling, like a Deliveroo boy on a fixed-wheel bicycle with no front brake, in the absence of any really new news they haven’t reported in some form already.

So, did you know that, like, one of the Russian spy guys with an unpronounceable name who met with Don Jr and the Kush was reported by the failing New York Times, the Washington Post and everyone else eating each others’ stories to have been involved in an unrelated hacking event last year? Neither did we! Wow, that must prove something. Anything.

Oh, and Senator Chuck Mukluk (D. North Alaska, can’t afford a vacation) says he thinks Trump’s gone crazy. We have an interview with him on NBC right after this. We’ll also be talking to a babyfaced Republican think-tank intern who says you shudn’t say things like that about our President. And what’s happened to the BLGTQ+ ban? Did that get lost at sea in the colliding warships scandal? Or was it just another misspelled word in a furious tweet?

When something does happen in the White House, it’s as if it happened last week too; and the week before, and will happen again maybe next week. The amnesia is contagious. Was it last week he was threatening nuclear war against Korea? Or was that Venezuela? Iran, or Afghanistan? When exactly was Steve Bannon fired, was that before or after he quit? And is Trump really going to suspend the US government, like his friend President Maduro, if he doesn’t get a wall for Christmas, or was it more a threat to have Senator McConnell assassinated by the FSB for failing to protect him against the Mueller investigation? And who was Sebastian Gorka?

We can’t remember. Our heads hurt.

Every little crap thing Trump does or says eventually merges into one huge crap thing. Serious financial crimes he’s said in thoroughly investigated and double-checked newspaper exposés to have probably committed are lost next day in the poison fog of more of Sarah Huckabee’s mega-Spicey denials – over something even worse she doesn’t want the fakenews press lying about today.

The unPresidential lies fly by, over a thousand to date have been investigated by the Washington Post‘s Trumpometer of Lies and found to be, indeed, alternative truths – it’s got so bad, I’ve started to suspect half of them might just be his weird sense of humour – and none of the sycophants in the crowd of cosmetically maladjusted, gurning American faces that US politicians hunger to be seen orating in front of, like cheering wallpaper, gives a monkey’s uncle whether he’s telling the truth or not.

They don’t care, he’s such a refreshing change from infantile, self-serving crooks in the White House. Drain the swamp!

The liberal media is having a hard time shifting that last 35 per cent.

Boarding house… Texas braces for Hurricane Harvey. (mstartribune.com)

But is the administration up to handling external disasters? We don’t have to wait for Yellowstone 4 to find out.

Take, for instance, the huge, category 3 or maybe even 4 hurricane, Harvey, that’s starting tonight to obliterate Texas. 125 mph winds and 35 inches of rain are expected in the next few days, which could well see flood-prone Houston wiped off the map. The only media to be worrying that Trump might not be up to handling it and could do for Houston what Bush did for New Orleans, i.e. fuck-all, is the good old Guardian:

“Trump tweeted a video clip of his meeting with Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) officials in early August, with the caption: “Remember, the USA is the most resilient nation on earth, because we plan ahead.”

“Brock Long, Trump’s choice to head Fema, was not confirmed by the Senate until 20 June, three weeks into the Atlantic hurricane season. Trump has not nominated a permanent head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), which plays a key role in weather forecasting.

“Trump’s proposed budget calls for a $667m cut to state and local Fema grant programmes that focus on disaster preparation.” – The Guardian, 25 August.

The federal government support scheme for homeowners in flood-risk areas where insurance costs are rocketing unaffordably, along with their health insurance, is $billions in debt and unlikely to be renewed next month. Mr Long has made his position clear: it’s their own fault for buying in a flood-risk area. (We love Republicans, don’t you? Such charitable Christian attitudes.)

At the same time, Mr Trump has just signed an order overturning an Obama order requiring planners and new-builders to take account of increased flood risk due to climate change.

You can see the problem, can’t you. Little Donny is colouring-in well, but doesn’t join dots easily.

It’s a pity he didn’t notice the motto of The Boy Scouts of America while he was regaling them with salacious stories of orgies aboard his friends’ private yachts:

Be Prepared.

 

Mr Trump’s weird logic

Unwilling to court the risk of the same criticism that dogged President W Bush after his feeble response to Hurricane Katrina, Mr Trump has said he will tour the disaster areas of Texas on Tuesday. The reason he is waiting until then is, he says, because he doesn’t want his visit with all the security detail and fuss taking up officials’ time when they’ve got more important work to do.

Chrysler’s new sub. These lunatics just will not give up their cars (what do they think is causing the problem in the first place?)

This admirable concern for the welfare of the beleaguered locals contrasts oddly with the $millions of dollars in lost trade shops and businesses in the area of Trump’s golf resorts, especially Mar-a-Lago in Florida, have to suffer when he travels down on vacation every weekend, the incredible cost to the taxpayer of the now near-bankrupt security service watching out for no fewer than 42 members of the Trump family’s safety all round the world, on promotional business trips and skiing holidays, and the $millions cost of the major disruption around Trump buildings in New York whenever the First Family goes home, that has led to demonstrations by angry ratepayers and motorists.

The image of Saint Donald isn’t working, somebody please tell him.

 

“The Pumpkin did just momentarily pause to consider whether the Golden Orb doesn’t sometimes inject a strange and warped sense of self-satirizing humour into his more ridiculous utterances?”

The train now departed…

Among the latest resignations from the intolerable conditions in the Trump White House is 31-year-old Mr Andy Hemming, the man known as the ‘news fluffer’, who was famously employed to research and present the infant-President-narcissist twice a day with a file of cuttings detailing only the most flattering stories about his many brilliant achievements in office.

According to Farron Cousins at Ring of Fire, a shouty online comment vlog:

“His official title was Director of Rapid Response for the White House Communications Team, and in addition to feeding the President positive news stories about himself, he was also supposed to communicate with members of the mainstream media, CNN, Washington Post, credible news sources like that, and tell them all the good things that the President had accomplished.”

The Trumpkin wakes: is anyone safe?

Mr Hemming has as yet offered no explanation for why he has given up the $90k a year job, but one suspects that eventually everyone has to bow to the inevitable. The 71-year-old Trump is said to often scream hysterical abuse at staffers who do things he doesn’t like, or who try to tell him what to do, or when he is just feeling unloved. If no-one in the office has upset him, he screams instead at things he sees on the TV. And he can’t help himself acknowledging that some Nazis are fine people.

He is certifiably out of his depth in the job, if not actually mentally deranged, but he still has enough terrified Republicans fearful of regime collapse to go on CNN and defend him that his mooted removal by the Vice-President citing the incapacity clause of the 25th Amendment always seems another arm’s length away.

Not that one would wish the ambitious, snow-capped hypocrite Pence on any nation. Impeachment and removal of the dangerously unpredictable ’45’ will only inflict the same tax-cutting policies on the poor, more drone strikes on innocent villagers, more hardworking immigrant families ripped apart, but with a leavening of nauseating ‘Jesus saves’ Christianity to justify the barbarities.

Also, he won’t be half the fun.

Windmills of the mind

Officials at the Department of Energy may also soon be departing en masse, following a bizarre error in which a report doctored on the orders of Trump and his cretinous Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, to show what a dismal failure renewable energy has been and how great th’ Murcan orl ‘n coal ‘n nucular bidness is was found post-publication to still contain the original conclusion that it has in fact been a rip-roaring success.

In edited form, Cousins reports:

“A draft version of the Department of Energy’s energy grid study was released, and it showed that everything that the Trump administration and Republicans had been saying about renewable energy was completely false. … The report showed that our energy grid today, with renewable energy growing at an exponential rate, is stronger than ever.

“Before the final draft came out … Perry and his Department … took it upon themselves to rewrite (it) and make the entire study about how horrible renewable energy is, and how it is killing coal, killing nuclear, and killing our electrical grid in the United States.

“There’s just one problem. They didn’t delete all of the information. … Perry didn’t think to read through the whole thing. And so those statements got left in, directly contradicting what they had taken out (or) rewritten.

“That’s the level of stupid that we are dealing with, with this Trump administration.”

In a highly amusing excursion on another online current affairs discussion forum, The Young Turks reflected on part of Trump’s now notorious unhinged and self-pitying farrago of lying nonsense at his 2020 re-election rally in Phoenix earlier this week, that prompted the New Yorker magazine to ask “Is Trump Losing It?”

At one point the world’s leading expert on everything was rambling on about energy policy, and began waxing lyrical on the subject of ‘clean coal’. Supposedly a reference to the as-yet untried, hugely expensive and completely impracticable system known as Carbon Capture and Sequestration, it soon became clear to the shuffling embarrassment of his hovering officials that Trump thought it meant you just had to wash the dust off the coal before burning it.

As the alternative media erupted in laughter at this foolishness, once again The Pumpkin did just momentarily pause to wonder if the Golden Orb doesn’t sometimes inject a strange and warped sense of self-satirizing humour into his more ridiculous utterances?

I mean, can anybody really be that stupid?

x

“He will no doubt be banging on Bannon’s door pleading for his old job back as a Breitbart security correspondent with decided views on the Judaeo-Islamic menace.”

V.

It’s not often The Pumpkin is scooped by national media, but the time difference between Washington and Boglington-on-Sea means the editor was fast asleep in bed when news came through that yet another senior Bannon appointee to Trump’s staff has fled the coop.

Although in a curious way he wasn’t. He seldom dreams, but in the early hours he dreamed he saw some boys had caught a large fish and were trying to dispatch it by hitting it on the head with an iron bar. He went to help but realized it was not a fish but a large ginger cat (!). Why are you killing the cat? he demanded to know, but there was no answer. So he took the injured cat in his arms and set off for home, where he fed it warm milk through a pipette. After it died, he went back to beat the crap out of the boys. Then he woke up, needing to pee again.

It must mean something.

Sebastian L v. Gorka was a bit of a charlatan, wasn’t he? A ‘Senior assistant advisor’ on global security, no-one in the close-knit US security establishment had taken him seriously for one moment. Nevertheless he was influential in persuading the ginger cat – I mean, the President – to order his failed Muslim ban, on grounds that stopping families flying in from Lebanon for a few months would protect the entire population of the US against Islamic terrorism.

Born in London to Hungarian nationalist refugee parents, ‘Dr’ Gorka secured a poor 2.2 degree from a Jesuit college, which he somehow later converted after five years of study to a PhD at an obscure university in Budapest, majoring on the threat of Islam, and in 1998 became an ‘advisor’ to the hardline Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. He married Kathy Cornell, an American steel heiress, and worked in various rightwing, anti-Islamist thinktanks. In 2012 he became a naturalized American citizen.

That caused some controversy, when after a TV appearance during which it was noticed that he was wearing a distinctive type of tunic and sported the pin-badge of a far-right Hungarian group, the Vitezi Rend, two Senators raised a question in the House about his immigration form, on which he had failed to declare his membership of a ‘neo-Nazi organization’. After the invasion of Hungary by Nazi troops in 1944, Vitezi Rend had allegedly been active in helping to round up 800,000 Jews to be exterminated.

Gorka denied being a member and said he was merely honouring the memory of his father, however the organization’s leadership in Hungary confirmed that he was still a member; while experts pointed to the lowercase ‘v.’ he retains in his name as another sign of his allegiance to the 20,000-strong party. Failure to declare membership of a banned organization is a federal offence, for which he could be stripped of his citizenship.

Describing him in their now-customarily lazy fashion as ‘White House security expert’ – in much the same way as last month they described White House ‘environmental expert’ Myron Ebell as a ‘climate-change skeptic’ (he’s actually a paid energy bidness lobbyist from the slimier levels of the Washington swamp, with no scientific credentials to justify the description ‘skeptic’) – the BBC, which had only recently featured a lengthy and totally uncritical interview with Gorka on a Newsnight special, gave no reason for his departure.

The Guardian, which is a bit more on the ball when it comes to the murky doings of key personnel in this dysfunctional administration, reminded readers that Gorka’s response to the fire-bombing of a mosque by white supremacists had been to suggest it was a false-flag attack; he also went on record as saying Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson had nothing to contribute on the subject of North Korea – the idea was nonsensical – and “you should listen to the President”.

His departure at the behest of General Kelly has been welcomed in several quarters. He will no doubt be banging on Bannon’s door pleading for his old job back as a Breitbart security correspondent with decided views on the Judaeo-Islamic menace.

Gorka’s 12-month tenure as a member of Trump’s transition team and on the admin staff however serves to illustrate the extent to which the Orange Buffoon was completely out of his depth on taking office, knowing nobody he could trust to occupy any position of power and responsibility, and how he was seemingly willing to appoint anyone Bannon recommended.

The Pumpkin respectfully offers odds of 10 to one on Bannon’s protegé, the oleaginous mock-sinister college vampire Stephen Miller, being next on the Kelly death list; the problem being, none of these bungling quasi-fascist amateurs has yet been replaced by anyone giving off any more signs of competence and mental stability.

Meanwhile the President, smarting over his drubbing by the press in the wake of his disastrous handling of the Charlottesville killing, is pressing ahead under cover of the fascinating horror unfolding in Texas with the nastiest and least well-received measures on his little hate list; although thankfully his triumvirate of retired generals seems to have kept him from pressing the button over North Korea. So far.

Prison camp. (Photo: cowboyszone.com)

Having been rebuffed last month by the heads of every branch of the military and coastguard, he has now sent out a memo officially ordering them to ban transgender recruits, against their advice; and he has used the Presidential pardon to exonerate the racist Maricopa County, Az. police chief Joseph Arpaio, 85, who was recently sentenced to six months in gaol for contempt of court after refusing to back down over a campaign illegally targeting anyone for police searches who ‘looked like an immigrant’.

Mr Arpaio was also responsible for many years for the ‘Tent City’ prison, an area of a federal corrections facility where specifically Latino prisoners, men and women convicted mostly of minor offences, were housed in leaky old Korean-war military tents, summer and winter, the men forced to wear pink underwear and socks and fed an exclusively vegetarian diet to prevent them escaping.

Arpaio, who likes to be described as ‘America’s toughest Sheriff’, claims to have saved millions of dollars by not having to build proper facilities for housing some of Arizona’s vast population of people serving time at the behest of judges who profit from the numbers of convicts they send to private gaols, where they are effectively used as slave labor. Convicted felons also face lifetime voting bans, which keeps mostly Democrats away from the polls. According to website Vocativ.com:

“… over the course of his six terms in office, Arpaio has cultivated the image of a guy who’s not only tough on crime but also creative when it comes to cutting expenses. But what Arpaio doesn’t note in his stream of press releases about Tent City is that inmate abuses and misuse of funds in the jail system he oversees have cost the county nearly $200 million over the last 15 years.”

It might also be cautiously suggested that being tough on crime hasn’t exactly reduced the prison population: over 500 thousand people have passed through Tent City since it started.

Hoping to go down with the dumbfucks as ‘America’s toughest President’, abusing the purpose and powers of the pardon to obstruct, rather than redress, the course of justice, the simple-minded Trump has made good on his threat to pardon this abusive old monster, no doubt the model down the years for numerous movie depictions of brutal racist county sheriffs, arguing that he is a great American who has served his country for over 50 years.

It’s also good practice for when he has to thwart justice, to pardon himself.

 

“One of the dizzying lessons of this presidency is that outrage can be dulled by outrage, that fury at one atrocious act is hard to sustain if fury at another soon replaces it.” – Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian, 26 Aug.

 

Koreans cool off, but the country is in the soup (from 2015).

Summer 2017 has seen the third successive year of extreme heat in the peninsula (photo: The Telegraph). Drought in the north after three years is calling into question the ability of Kim Jong-un’s army to fight a war as soldiers and peasants alike are reportedly malnourished and on the verge of starvation, owing to food shortages exacerbated by corruption and years of sanctions.

The Pumpkin – Issue 29: Is Anyone Awake?; Minnie the Moocher; Baked Alaska; Maids in America; Where’s Wendi Deng?

“The security implications are just awful”

“Washington is very busy with other things right now, unfortunately. The healthcare vote was an incredible blow to the Republican party. I suspect that many in office are licking their wounds today,” (a spokeswoman said). “The US state department is not fully staffed. I don’t think they are staffed up for this event.” – James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Is anyone awake?

Thus the Trump administration, in tatters, boldly responds to “this event” – another threatening and provocative intercontinental ballistic missile test by North Korea, the potentially nuclear-armed projectile splashing down harmlessly yet undiplomatically 1,000 miles away within the sovereign Japanese Economic Area, or sea as it’s known. And with a second test reported this morning, Pyongyang is crowing that it can now hit anywhere in the continental United States.

What goes up…

Yet Trump has lost the plot. He’s throwing tantrums over the unpatriotic Democrat opposition (the clue is in the word) conspiracy against him to thwart his great new American healthcare bill (it doesn’t exist – somebody tell him). He’s sending menacing Mafia-style tweets to Republican senatorial recusants accusing them of letting the nation down (L’État, c’est moi, as Louis X1V the ‘Sun King’ used to say). He prefers to target the LGBTs in his own military and is picking fights with everyone from his White House Chief of Staff, the weedy Reince Priebus, to surely his most loyal acolyte, the lying Georgia weasel, Attorney General Jeff Sessions; while appointing an unpleasant, foul-mouthed, preening little bitch from the mean streets of New York, Wall Street being the meanest, Anthony Scaramucci – ‘The Mooch’, yuck – to be his new ‘communications’ director.

Minnie the Moocher

So, already becoming the other big story of the week, which Trump won’t like as he prefers to be the centre of attention, the media- unsavvy Scaramouche is a former Goldman Sachs investment whatnot and millionaire hedge-trimmer, who has already caused a media shitstorm by threatening to fire the entire WH pressroom staff unless someone fesses up to who leaked the story that he’d been invited to dinner with Fox News w’anchor, Sean Hannity, and the President. A ‘leak’ he describes as having major national security implications… and blamed Chief of Staff Priebus.

And then he has given some rather odd interviews, explaining that while politicians stab each other in the back he’s more of a ‘front-stabber’; expressed his loathing of the media, forced the resignation of a random innocent press office spokesman and gone off on a potty-mouthed rant, accusing Priebus (who tried to block his appointment) of being a ‘fucking paranoiac’* and Steve Bannon, not without some insight, of ‘sucking his own cock’ – in a message to a New Yorker magazine reporter. He followed up with an insouciant tweet apologising that it’s just his way of communicating, and then promptly deleted it.

With his extreme views about ‘leakers’ – he’s publicly said he’d like to have them all ‘fuckin’ killed’, the adorable little fantasist, ignoring that most of the Whiteyleaks come from the Oval Office itself – and his troublingly effusive declarations of ‘genuine love’ for the President, people are already questioning his sanity, especially as his job doesn’t even start until 15 August and he has no power to fire anybody. But the rightwing media and Trump, of course, is loving it. The Mooch is his kinda guy.

The story took a brilliant turn this morning when, according to The New York Post, Scaramucci’s blonde WASP wife Deirdre announced over breakfast that she’s filing for divorce, explaining that she doesn’t want to have to drag the kids to Washington, she loathes Donald Trump, and despairs of her husband’s revolting Presidential bumsucking: “She is tired of his naked ambition, which is so enormous that it left her at her wits’ end.”

All this is just a pleasant diversion, as we haven’t heard much about the FBI investigation into Trump family enterprises and his manoeuvering to fire the Special Counsel, Bob Mueller, for at least three days.

So the President is absolutely not paying attention to national security.

Meanwhile, most of the posts at the State Department and key ambassadorships in the SE Asia region remain unfilled; Secretary of State ‘Tex’ Rex Tillexxon has gone on vacation and is reportedly considering his untenable position. He’s been sidelined on foreign affairs by Trump’s plastic-toy and all-purpose foreign affairs Nanki-poo, Kushner, now on his second team of defense lawyers; and thwarted in his expectation that Russia sanctions would be lifted, allowing the zillion-dollar Exxon-Rosneft deal to go ahead to drill the fuck out of the Arctic, thereby inflating the $245 million share package he left the company with.

Jefferson Beleaguered Sessions 111, the subject of so many frankly disgraceful undermining public tweets from little Presidential thumbs in recent days (not that we give a shit what happens to him, it’s the principle of the thing) has taken the hint, too, and is away on an important fact-finding visit to discuss jurisprudence in El Salvador.

Republican majority leaders in Congress so badly need to get a grip on this insecure, vindictive, whining little mafia-baby they put in the White House. But they’re not home either.

With Kim Jong-un rampant and the Chinese quietly taking over the vacated spaces of the world, the Russians angry because their boy Trump hasn’t come through for them on sanctions, floods and wildfires everywhere, trade deals in abeyance, revolt brewing in the House, the State department emasculated, the military confused, the FBI closing in – the security implications are just awful.

Not so very post-scriptum…

And tonight, after being escorted from the White House by Security, Mini the Mooch is hightailing it back to New York, fired by General Kelly after only ten days in a job he wouldn’t officially have started for another two weeks. The senile President had to do as he was told by heavily-bemedalled daddy or be sent to bed with no milk and cookies.

Lucky man, it may save his marriage. And he won’t have to sell his business for $85 million to the Chinese, which was going to be another problem as it looked like a dirty backroom deal to gain influence with the regime in Washington. Bad.

x

“Under the demented policies of the Golden Orb, the USA is going all-out to extract and burn every last drop of its own energy as quickly as possible…”

Baked Alaska

In a desperate, last-minute attempt to give the screaming baby a sugar-dummy to suck on before the babysitters head off to abuse one another at summer camp, the chinless Sen. McConnell’s terrible compromise ‘skinny repeal’ bill, just to pare back any parts of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act he can, failed at 2 a.m. yesterday to pass.

Like its two failed predecessors, the bill was cooked-up in secret by a kitchen cabinet of late-middle-aged rich conservative white men to carve 72-oz entrecote steaks off Obamacare and give the best cuts away to the top 2% (who already own 80% of the wealth of America).

And now everyone is in the toilet.

Which is great when your equally insecure, vindictive, whining little mafia-baby enemy over the water is playing with nuclear toys that could obliterate parts of…

Oh, wait a minute.

Didn’t Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke just warn, bad things could happen to Alaska?

Wasn’t it as a result of Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowski honorably voting No to the initial proposal to debate the ‘skinny’ bill, saying she wasn’t going to be intimidated, and then honorably voting again with two colleagues, Sens. McCain and Collins, along with the Democrats against the actual bill too, on grounds that no-one had had time to read it and it hadn’t even been debated, causing it to fall…?

Or, it’s possible Trump is hoping for a first-strike on Hawaii, where the circuit court did so much to twice thwart his silly and inconsequential immigration bill; the only piece of primary legislation he has – in a watered-down form – been able to get through Congress in six months of shambolic maladministration.

Still mindful of Pearl Harbor, the Hawaiian State Legislature is reportedly making civil defense preparations.

Why are the Republicans so obsessed with committing electoral suicide? Is it existential guilt? No-one seems to know.

“It’s a deliberate policy of genocide for the rest of the human race…”

As The Pumpkin has observed before, the GOP congressmen and women are between a rock and a hard place. The rock being the Koch Brothers, zillionaire kings of dirty energy, who have offered ‘at least’ $400 million funding to the party for next year’s mid-term elections; the hard place being where Republican candidates may find themselves when the voters finally realize that repealing Obamacare without a replacement will leave 32 million hardworking American families nowhere to go when they get sick; which, as consumer protections, animal welfare and food quality regulations are pared back, and dangerous agrichemicals greenlighted, they are sure to.

The Pumpkin’s belief is that the Kochs, two avuncular philanthropic octogenarians in whose mouths butter would turn to snake venom, are less interested in the repeal bill than they are in the budget, debate on which has been held up for months while McConnell blustered and flustered over Trump’s furious demands to get Obamacare repeal done; something he promised his dumbfucks he would do on Day One. But then, he lied. So bad.

The budget is, if anything, more crazy and disgusting than the repeal bill, cutting 4.3 trillion dollars from all kinds of progressive social supports and schools programs and handing the lot to millionaires, corporations and the bloated arms industry in the form of huge tax cuts – an ultra-con economic model so fundamentally wrong that its experimental application has all-but bankrupted the state of Kansas; its failed Governor Sam Brownback, a man whose brain would struggle to get noticed in a peapod, has just been nominated by the mad President as America’s global ‘ambassador for religion’. So we have a prayer….

The energy bidness – fossil-fuel – already benefits from hidden subsidies in the US of $37.5 billion annually, giving the lie to all their executive whingeing about unfair subsidies for renewables, which are far smaller – about $10 bn. That oil, coal and gas subsidy increased by some $6 bn under the Obama administration, by the way.

And, let’s not forget, as former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond once said, US energy companies don’t really regard themselves as patriotic American employers. They operate all around the globe. The total subsidy to energy corporations around the globe is rather more, a little under $1 trillion.

http://priceofoil.org/fossil-fuel-subsidies (2013 figures)

But it’s not enough! Under the demented policies of the Golden Orb, the USA is going all-out to extract and burn every last drop of its own energy as quickly as possible, providing $trillions more profit for shareholders currently scrambling to build themselves climate-controlled underground bunker complexes, the latest billionaire must-haves, until it runs out; whereupon Trump will order his refinanced military to go out and ‘take the oil’ – the gas, or the minerals, from places like Afghanistan, until nothing survives.

It’s a policy of deliberate genocide for the rest of the human race. We have essentially been written off the books and, in their madness, it’s an extinction the money-breathers fantasize they can survive.

It shouldn’t be long now.

x

* Within an hour of The Pumpkin Posting this, it’s been reported that Priebus has seen the writing on the wall and quit. A career politician, he never did fit with the squabbling and chaotic amateur arselickers of Trump’s inspirational cabinet, the Wall Street Kids. Having been hired as a biddable missing link with conventional politics on the Hill, he was bound to end up as the fall guy for Trump’s humiliating failure to get any of his crazed legislative program through before the recess.

Gen. Kelly, the Homeland Security director, has been drafted in as Chief of Staff. Good luck with that. He’s not a politician either, so Trump clearly hasn’t learned the lesson, that if you want to do politics, get things done, you need to be one of Them.

It’s beginning to look more and more like the end of the Weimar republic every day.

x

 

“And she was bleeding from the … wherever, you know?”

Maids in America

After regaling the Boy Scouts of America with stories about wild parties involving drugs and women on yachts, for no apparent purpose other than to illustrate his robust views on law and order Trump – who has an obsession with women bleeding – threw out a peculiarly disturbing image during another of his 2020 campaign rallies last week. From a report in the Guardian entitled “Scaramucci, one week in: civil war in the White House and an even wilder Trump”, by White House correspondent David Smith, Trump is quoted in a passage as follows:

In Youngstown, Ohio, he painted a lurid picture of “predators and criminal aliens” who “take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15, and others and they slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die. And these are the animals that we’ve been protecting for so long.”

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/29/scaramucci-white-house-reince-priebus-donald-trump

What could he possibly have meant by that little vignette, we wonder: who or what is he referring to? It’s not as if he gave chapter and verse for the reference. Was it something he saw on Fox News or, his new fascination, the teenage version of Politico, Circa – even Fox is beginning to let slip the odd criticism of the nightmare for America that is the Trump maladministration, while its ratings have been plummeting.

Trump has some curious psychological ‘tics’, one of which is bringing up bad things that happened without being prompted, presenting them as examples of his opponent’s behaviour, but for which he then transfers credit to himself. ‘Crooked Hillary may have done ‘x’, but I tell you, if I did that it would have been the best ‘x’ ever…’

We can only pray then that this unscripted reference to the torture and murder of underage girls is not something he knew about from past experiences in the New York underworld, where he reputedly got a kick out of mixing socially in the 1970s and 80s.

The Pumpkin was recently led via a link in a Comment to a web article created by an anonymous former New York model, or so the author claims, who has spent years researching Trump’s connection with the sleazy milieu of underage ‘Size-zer0’ models, many trafficked illegally into the United States by dubious modelling agencies linked with underworld gangs.

The resulting long article can be found on the Daily Kos website, bylined SwedishJewfish. It describes – and one needs to be careful here, although the report is sourced to other media investigations – how in the 1970s a Trump associate, John Casablancas, founded a new kind of modelling agency that was all about flash: money, celebrities, sex and cocaine – creating the public image of the ‘supermodel’ – and how before setting up his own modelling agency, Trump pushed his daughter, Ivanka, into a modelling career, aged only 14, through Casablancas’ agency, exploiting his influence in the business, despite Casablancas’ reputation as a serial abuser of underage girls. Casablancas later fled to Brazil, where he worked for a while as a property salesman for the Trump Organization.

I’ll just quote this short extract:

I was not alone in my impressions – others who commented on the Mother Jones piece (see below) and the subsequent coverage made similar observations. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes commented that Trump Models seemed to be borderline human trafficking, initially making the comment on Twitter and later on dedicating a segment of his prime time show to exploring the topic. Seth Meyers, for his part, did a segment on the MJ piece as well, comparing it to an episode of Law & Order SVU. While his commentary was cloaked in his usual sardonic humor, Seth’s disgust was evident as he wondered aloud if the prospect of Trump harboring sex slaves in his proverbial basement would be enough to make voters sour on his candidacy. At the time this story broke, I assumed it was going to blow up. I assumed that follow up reporting would be done, and it would become the major story of the 2016 election. I thought it might even open up a long overdue dialogue about sex trafficking, and how our broken immigration and criminal justice systems enables its existence. 

But that never happened.

No, but what did happen during the 2016 election was the spreading via social media of completely absurd, off-the-wall memes promoting ‘fake news’ slurs against the Clinton campaign (see previous Pumpkins).

One of which gained notoriety, when a gunman walked into a pizza restaurant in Washington popular with Congressional staffers, Comet PingPong, and fired shots into the ceiling, after reading online that Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta, were running a ‘paedophile ring’ from the basement

A space that turned out also to be ‘proverbial’… there being no basement.

Is this perhaps a ‘proverbial basement’ where girls were actually tortured and murdered, in Donald Trump’s fading recollection? Is it a case of ‘What did you know, and when?’ Is there, in short, a basis in experience for his psychotic fascination with women and blood?

Or has he just been watching too much torture porn during the sleepless hours?

We may never know. The website Pizzagate.wiki goes into simply enormous and seemingly authoritative detail about connections between Clinton Democrats and their funders and various ‘known’ paedophiles and child-traffickers like Sir Clement Freud, Jimmy Savile and the owner of the Comet PingPong restaurant, James Alefantis, yet is mysteriously completely silent on the subject of Mr Casablancas and Trump Model Management.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/donald-trump-model-management-illegal-immigration

From which, purely coincidentally:

“…a Trump agency representative who served as a chaperone had a bedroom to herself on the ground floor of the building. A narrow flight of stairs led down to the basement, where the models lived in two small bedrooms that were crammed with bunk beds…”

xFrom which,

Where’s Wendi Deng?

Missing from the photo op below is the ex- Mrs Murdoch, queen of the political pajama parties. (Only joking.)

Of course, with the failure of the replacement healthcare act and even the ‘skinny repeal’ bill, whereby lifting the requirement for all Americans over 25 to carry basic insurance and for employers of more than 50 staff to make contributions would have taken so much money out of the system that premiums would have to go up sharply for the rest, the vindictive obsessionist Trump has decreed with his proudest and most marmorial Mount Rushmore face on that Obamacare ‘must now be allowed to implode by itself’.

The bad news is, although he genuinely seems to have convinced himself with his own windy rhetoric that it was, it wasn’t failing until he came along. The good news however, certain Red Republican states will now feel empowered to blow the extra money Obamacare gave them for an increase in Medicare provision for the sick on sneaky, lying TV propaganda to get themselves re-elected. Obamacare – which took seven years to put in place in the face of howling Republican opposition and does admittedly need some tweaking – will wither on the vine, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So nasty, these Republicans. So ugly. Twisted.

Sen. Jack Fart ‘n’ hold  is on the right of your picture, in the blue onesie.

If proof of upright, responsible, Republican governance were needed, here is Senator Jack Farenthold, R. Texas, pro-repeal, pro-gun, pro-Big Orl, enjoying a well-earned moment of leisure before publicly challenging Senator Susan Collins, ‘skinny repeal’ recusante, to a duel – citing a historic precedent in which a former senator was tragically shot dead.

Mother Jones website, from where The Pumpkin purloins this picture, reports: “Farenthold … was once sued by a staffer for sexual harassment (the claim was settled outside of court)”.

Balanced folk must ask themselves from time to time, who on earth votes for these sleazy, fatuous, ignorant bumpkins like Farenthold, imagining they would be fit to hold office in a drive-thru burger-bar, and why do they? Their lives are never made better as a consequence.

And the answer comes back: sleazy, fatuous, ignorant Americans, who no longer believe anything will make a difference to their lives and don’t care. They’re the core base. There’s millions of ’em, and they love grotesque pork-barrel candidates like Fart ‘n’ hold; like Donald Trump, as seen on TV.

See, what a refreshing change he is from those corrupt stuffed-shirt bastards on the Hill!

Make America great again, boys. Yee-ha!

x

And finally…

If ever a metaphor presented itself from the heavens to perfectly illustrate the American nightmare, it’s the story of the Ohio woman who called 911 from her garden to plead for help.

A snake collector, she’d just rehomed a six-foot boa constrictor. Now it was wrapped around her face, squeezing hard, and wouldn’t let go of biting her nose.

Unlike the Republican party, the fire service had the right idea.

They cut its head off.

The Pumpkin, Issue 26. “I know a lot about health care.” Pardon, Mr President? The most extraordinary thing about Donald Trump; So, farewell, Spicey.

 

Okay, yeah, my wife and daughter are now zombies, your Popeyness, I forget to top up their employer premiums. But we’ve always made room for Catholics. Wanna buy a tie? Made in Vietnam?

I know a lot about health care.” Pardon, Mr President?

Would you like to know all about the Republicans’ ‘Repeal and Replace’ Obamacare bill, that narrowly failed to achieve a sufficient majority in the Senate last week, opposed not so much because it seeks to deprive 32 million Americans of their existing health cover, but mainly because it didn’t cut enough from the wasteful public Medicaid and Medicare budget to give sufficient tax breaks to the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans, who have no shame about demanding more money from cancer victims and the unemployed?

(When are Mr Amazon, Mr Facebook, Mr Microsoft, Mr Apple, Mr Uber, Mr Space-X going to step up and use the blunt force of their billions to stop this crazy descent into hell for the majority of Americans, who buy their shit? They could buy out the fucking Koch brothers’ political PACS ten times over – along with the entire Senate.)

Who better to ask what the bill was about, than the prime mover and advocate of ‘Trumpcare’ himself, Donald J Trump, President of the United States of America?

With apologies for the image theft to Jeffreyhill.typepad.com/ Google Images/ Grant Wood ‘American Gothic’.

Here he is, interviewed verbatim in the New York Times, explaining in its entirety the detailed ins and outs of health insurance. (The Pumpkin warns you, it’s a complicated subject, but he has mastered the brief.) Let us remember that he was elected on a promise to get the bill passed on ‘Day One’ of his Presidency, because his plan was so great, so beautiful, the American public wouldn’t want to wait for it….

“As they get something, it gets tougher. Because politically you can’t give it away. So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70 you get a nice plan. Here’s something where you walk up and say, ‘I want my insurance.’ It’s a very tough deal, but it is something that we’re doing a good job of.

“These guys couldn’t believe it, how much I know about it. I know a lot about healthcare.”

Lovely, fragrant Ana Kasparian at TYT has raised the possibility that Trump in his rambling stream of madness doesn’t understand the difference between health insurance and life assurance, but I’m not so sure. Every time I read another one of his bizarre word salads I think I begin to discern some pattern in it, something he is struggling to get out. Or maybe I’m as confused as he is and we’re just running in parallel.

Michael Wolfe has a good piece in The Guardian today, explaining why Mr Trump will not be removed from office before at least the impending disaster for the Republicans of next year’s mid-term elections, if even then. Part of the reason could be, he wouldn’t find his way out.

Another might be that he is gearing up to fire the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller – which has involved hiring new lawyers, replacing his head of Communications, firing Sean Spicer, and throwing ‘disloyal’ Attorney General Jeff Sessions to the wolves with a Big Leak to the WashPo over the content of his meetings with Ambassador Kislyak.

This in itself might amount to intimidation, just the threat of firing the man who is looking into possible crimes committed by Trump or his staffers during and before the election campaign – another layer to the case for an obstruction indictment.

Rachel Maddow of MSNBC speculates that forcing Sessons’ resignation allows Trump to appoint a shill to the job, who will fire Mueller and lift the cloud of investigations into Trump’s family and their financial dealings, removing the threat that Jared and Ivanka could be jailed over their security disclosures, or lack of them. Kushner has hastily added another 77 not previously disclosed foreign financial transactions to the affidavit he signed in January, making more than 100 things he should legally have declared in order to obtain the top security clearance, but omitted to. That could get him five years.

The head of the Ethics department has quit, and been replaced by a water-cooler appointee – some jerk they found in the corridor who’ll do as he’s told. Conservatives in Congress are gearing up to try to switch the focus of treason allegations away from the Trump gang and onto Hillary and the Obamas. That’s already happening. The new tactic is to go back to out-and-out denying the Campaign crew ever heard of a place called Russia.

It’s about to get very ugly.

Clearly, despite the Russia thing (collusion in hacking the election), the other Russia thing (sanctions-busting, money-laundering), the third Russia thing (the Pipigate Dossier), maybe a fourth (decades of documented connections to the Russian mafia) – let’s forget treason for now; his dodgy property deals with their obvious opportunities for money laundering, his fake University scam, breaches of Classified national security matters, corrupt appointments, misuse in office of public funds, bad overseas loans affording opportunities for blackmail, the blatant ripping-up of the Foreign Emoluments clause, the apparent attempts to obstruct justice, the refusal to recuse himself from his businesses, his desperate clinging to his tax returns, his past disgusting behavior involving underage models…. there seems to be nothing whatever that the Golden Orb can do to incur impeachment – as he bragged to the dumbfucks at one of his election rallies, he could shoot somebody dead on 5th Avenue and they’d still vote for him.

Complete and total ignorance of his brief after six months in office is obviously not a sacking offence, as it would certainly have been in any one of the 21 jobs I’ve been sacked from, if I hadn’t been sacked for other reasons. Dereliction of duty – we’re losing count of the number of golfing vacations he’s taken, at a cost to the taxpayer of $50 million (much of which goes in profit to his golf resorts) and counting – still doesn’t cut it with the GOP, who seem willing to tolerate any abuse of office lest they pull down the shithouse around themselves; pleading that he’s new to the job and will learn. Trump? Learn? (so what are they doing to teach him?). He’s 71. He has dementia. He has a dubious past. He doesn’t want to go to jail. What else is to learn?

Vice-President Pence is of course authorized by the 25th Amendment to remove the President, at gunpoint if necessary, should he be considered mentally incompetent to fulfil his duties. But the snow-capped walking advert for Anusol, the strangely grinning Mike Pence is equally in it up to his righteous Christian ass and definitely does not want to undergo the same degree of scrutiny as he is witnessing with his Master.

Besides, The Pumpkin is more convinced by the day that, while he is everything they all say, an overgrown child with ADHD, a narcissist, a bully, all the rest of it, the conclusion has to be that Trump is not mad; just very, very naughty.

Attempts do seem to have been made by White House staffers to marginalize him, damage limitation, because he is a total embarrassment to America and the free world, his approval ratings at record lows, but nothing seems to be working. He just keeps slipping away from nurse and running off at the mouth, spewing out illiterate tweets, often incriminating himself, his family and his despairing legal team in the process. Even Donny Jr and the Little Nazi, Eric have been saying they wish it was all over. God knows what Melania thinks.

Well, they’ve been doing their best to incriminate him.

So that’s okay, because today he’s reported to have instructed that burgeoning crowd of bungling clowns and Christian charity bunco artists, his lawyers, to brief him on the legal ins and outs of issuing a blanket Presidential pardon to himself, his family and his immediate circle of deplorables before anything really incriminating comes out. He’s also ordered them to find any ‘dirt’ to close down the special prosecutor, Mr Mueller, and his team investigating Mr Trump’s private finances – something he told the NYT was crossing ‘a red line’ with his family, as far as he is concerned.

Now why would he want to do that, I wonder? What has he got to hide?

Of course, if he is planning to leave town in convoy, taking the Federal reserve with him, and take up residence in Moscow, he could always pay Manafort for some advice.

You have to admit, though, he’s a one-off.

We can hope. In the meantime, no State business is getting done; probably for the best, given the manifesto: basically, give all the money to the rich, they’re best at knowing what to do with it.

It’s incomprehensible to an outsider, how this dismal failure of a Presidency is being allowed to grind on, and on, and on making America daily smaller and more ridiculous in the world.

It’s very, very sad.

x

The most extraordinary thing about Donald Trump

This is so damned infuriating.

The piece I just wrote disappeared off my screen and only three letters were saved as a draft. There is some connection between the ctrl key and another letter I type, that wipes any unsaved text. I don’t know what it is, as I am usually busy typing.

So I’m going to park this link here now, just in case, before I hit Save Draft. You will need it later.

newrepublic.com/article/143586/trumps-russian-laundromat-trump-tower-luxury-high-rises-dirty-money-international-crime-syndicate

And now I’m taking Hunzi for one of his walks. If we don’t come back, after reading the link have the river dredged.

Wanna see my Mussolini?

The most extraordinary thing about Donald Trump is probably not his hair, or that his emotional development ceased at the age of eleven, or even that he is – I know, don’t – President of the United States of America.

No, the most extraordinary thing about Donald Trump is that he is still alive.

Donald Trump took a dive into the cesspit that was his father’s rack-renting property businesses maybe fifty years ago under the watchful eye of Fred’s mafia lawyer buddy, the brutal Roy Cohn, enjoying the patronage of one ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, king of the New York concrete supply business, a member of the Genovese familia, and has continued to glide effortlessly through that same shit-smelling space without ever once touching the sides.

Countless books and articles and TV documentaries by the best and most dogged investigative journalists in the world present a weight of circumstantial evidence alluding to Trump’s profound criminality over the decades that would bury Mount Everest in a pile of trouble.

Yet like Al Capone until he got into a bit of a muddle with his taxes, Mr Trump (who refuses to publish his tax returns) has never been convicted of anything untoward. No ‘smoking guns’, no paper trail, nothing has ever stuck. It probably helped that his sister was a District Court judge in New York, but that would only get you out of a charge of stealing candy from the grocery store.

It would hardly ‘trump’ a rumoured longstanding business relationship with someone of the stature of, say Simeon Mogilevitch, the Ukrainian-born billionaire believed by European and United States federal law enforcement agencies to be the “boss of bosses” and, according to his substantial Wikipedia encomium, the most dangerous head of most of the Russian Mafia syndicates in the world.

Yet, while Mr Mogilevitch, another ‘friend’ of Mr Putin, is alleged to reign over a global business empire incorporating such characteristic diversifications as people trafficking, prostitution, drugs and arms smuggling, art-theft, illicit gambling, individual removal services and money laundering on a small-nation scale, there has never been the slightest suggestion that Mr Trump has been personally involved in any of those activities, even though Mr Mogilevitch is also suspected by investigators of having bankrolled Mr Trump’s failed casino developments. Numerous supposed associates of his have been identified as tenants of Mr Trump’s office-cum-residential properties, whilst being convicted from time to time of racketeering or ‘pump-and-dump’ financial fraud. Yet Mr Trump was blithely unaware of their existence.

Such unproven assertions litter the worldwide web. It is necessary only to Google ‘Trump, Russia’ to be deluged with reports on the subject. There’s another one at the link I gave you above (it’s cut-and-paste, I’m afraid.) An industry has grown up around the desire to get to the bottom of Donald Trump, as it were. Yet there appears to be no bottom. He is unfathomable, doors infolding upon doors.

Mr Trump has frequently denied having connections with Russia, even as the scandal of his campaign officials’ and his oldest son’s potentially treasonous complicity with a foreign power continues to grow and swirl around him. Of course, we know that’s not true. His denials are merely to plant a marker with the dumbfucks, his support base, who will see any reports to the contrary as more ‘fake news’. He has numerous connections with Russia and they go far beyond his sleazy 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Even his sons admit he has received $100 million-dollar financial investments from Russian sources, and has frequent contacts with Russian businessmen. Nevertheless, he appears to be mortgaged to the hilt.

We know, too, that he owes large sums of money to Russian and other foreign banks, who never seem to press him for repayment. The story is examined again in today’s Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jul/19/deutsche-bank-donald-trump-russia-investigation-subpoenas

While the list of identified people who attended the fateful “Clinton emails” meeting with lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016 continues to grow, now standing at eight (making it more successful than this summer’s failed blockbuster movie, ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’) with the addition of one more Russian, making four. Daily, the denials turn to grudging admissions and more figures are identified*, while it is known that He was “in the building”, as they say; it is, yes, rumoured even that Trump himself may have been the ninth person at the meeting, as he appears to have acted on certain details immediately afterwards – but so far, his is the one name that remains unconfirmed.

And may forever be so. For, The Pumpkin has concluded, Mr Trump’s existential secret, the one thing he absolutely cannot allow to get out; the reason for his desperate lies, double-denials and obfuscations, his deliberate smokescreens and diversionary tactics, his insane-seeming tweets, directives to his staff to, if necessary, perjure themselves on his behalf; his crude demands for ‘omerta’ – loyal silence, his Roy Cohn-style rottweiler legal attacks on anyone who gets near him, on the press and the media in general; his furtive leaks, firings of Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, Security Adviser General Flynn, FBI Director Comey, all of whom got too close to the bottom; his attempts to smear the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller, all point to one startling possibility, in our view:

Mr Trump is a protected witness.

And if that were true, it really would be the most extraordinary thing about Donald J Trump.

*But what if there was no sense to the 9 June meeting? What if a motley crue of vaguely dodgy Russians was deliberately put together to create a kind of political honeytrap that would suck in some dimwits from the campaign, leaving everyone guessing as, one by one, the names were leaked to the media, what on earth the Russians were trying to get from them, and to what degree were they incriminated in a plot to fix the election?

What if there was no connection after all, as poor wee Donald has been protesting, none of it made sense? because it was never meant to – it was just another ‘kompromat’ trap to widen the Kremlin’s net and ratchet up the level of chaos in the USA?

 

Greed on steroids

Possibly Trump’s most assiduous pursuer, for more than 20 years Pulitzer prizewinning financial journalist David Cay Johnson has been following the Golden Orb’s untarnished progress in the belief that he may be a tax-evading financial fraudster.

Asked on the Democracy Now web channel about Trump’s healthcare proposals, he relates the tale of how, when Trump’s father Fred died and the money was divided among the five children, Donald Trump withdrew funding from his seriously ill young nephew’s longterm treatment program because it reduced his own share of the estate.

Greed on steroids, is how Johnson describes the President.

I am starting to think a chemical execution arranged by Mr Scott Pruitt, the incompetent butcher of Arkansas, would be too good for this sick, solipsistic, money-breathing sonofabitch.

Torture, of which he says he approves, should be applied by the bucketload. Preferably for as long as he lives.

 

So, Farewell Spicey

We all hate bullies, right?

But we also despise the people they bully. Also right? Because bullies have an unerring instinct for the right victims.

Siddown, New York Times. Recognise the correspondent from Mad Magazine. Yes, your question?

There was something about Sean Spicer, President Trump’s hapless press spoke, that reminded me of boys at my school who were mocked for their inability to play in goal for the second X1. They would pass the stings on to the smaller boys, bullying them but always surreptitiously. You knew that if they found you swigging from a vodka bottle in the bootroom, it’d be them who would go straight to the housemaster. They would develop strange sexual proclivities, stealing your Wellington boots and masturbating into them, or paying their study mates to jerk them off while hanging by a pajama cord from the hook on the back of the door. Not everyone survived that.

Like Spicey, they were always stocky and sandy-haired, with severe short back and sides haircuts, enjoyed cross-country running, military stuff and had a faintly unpleasant odour. You could never imagine them having much success with girls.

Mr Spicer has been replaced already, making somewhat notional his ‘unhappiness’ with the promotion in Trump’s typically delusional CEO fashion, of the first guy standing by the watercooler as the next Communications Director. Enter yet another Wall Street suit, Mr Antonio Scaramucci, ‘The Mooch’, currently senior vice-president of the Export-Import Bank, a “US government agency” not, one imagines, a million miles from the CIA,  which “guarantees loans for foreign buyers of American exports”. (No opportunities for laundering embezzled Russian money there, then.)

“I love the president and it’s an honour to be here,” Mr Scaramucci announced modestly, having found the microphone on-switch, adding nervously: “He is genuinely a wonderful human being.” His first three lies successfully out of the way, toying with a crucifix and a bunch of garlic, he went on: “The president has really good karma.” Then presumably he went home and jerked off in the toilet to a Taylor Swift album, while his wife was on the phone to the party planner.

Mr Scaramucci, “who has no previous experience in communications roles”, paid tribute to Mr Spicer as a “true American patriot” and “incredibly gracious”. “I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money,” he said. (That being all that matters in Trump’s America. So great. Meanwhile, Spicey is swinging from a tree in the woods.)

“Mr Scaramucci also apologised and said he had been “unexperienced” (sic) as he explained his previous criticism of the president. In an August 2015 interview with Fox Business, he dismissed Mr Trump as a “hack” and “an inherited money dude” with “a big mouth”. (BBC News)

If he can explain that away, he’s up to the job.

Despite sounding like an illiterate Bond villain, The Mooch is clearly a tragic shill for the sickest, most demented, bullying fantasist ever to occupy the Oval Office of the White House.

Judging by Trump’s overnight tweetstorm of paranoid bile against James Comey, for daring to ‘leak’ to the failing New York Times (to whom he gave an incoherent wordstream of an interview only three nights ago) that Jeff Sessions, the loyal and devoted Attorney General he wishes he hadn’t appointed to head the Russia investigation, did in fact discuss the election with Russian Ambassador Kislyak, having sworn on oath that he never, he is clearly going to have a horrible time for the money.

Worse, he’s the boss of the sweaty-lipped current White House press spokesbitch, Sarah ‘Look at me, I’m a Christian’ Huckabee Sanders, which makes him the wop filling in a bully sandwich.

But that’s karma for you.

What goes around, comes around.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Money.

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More damned lies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wake up.

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

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

The Washington Post reported Tuesday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Faint glimmers of hope from nowhereseville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Big Brother is Locating You

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

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

Stay clear of the bathroom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not yet.

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

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

“I want a dyke for president.

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

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

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

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

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

“I want a Black woman for president.

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

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

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

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

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

Liar, thief, never caught?

Spot-on, Zoe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Weather News

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

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 23. Grenfell: Oven foil. Trump: Blood libel. Cough Please, That’ll be 50 dollars. Plus: Voters on a roll; and: Putting all his eggs in one Brexit.

“Aw, Miliband only had to eat one sandwich and it was curtains for him.” (Mr Mogg takes tea at the Leadsoms.)

Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Oven foil

“Its chief executive, Robert Bond, is understood to have told Gould in a letter that her “inflammatory statements are highly damaging to our reputation and our business and will be defended by us in the strongest terms possible”.” – The Guardian, 30 June

Thus the firm that fitted the lethal cladding to Grenfell Tower responded to the leader of Camden Council, Ms Georgia Gould, with a threat to sue her for ‘damage to their reputation’, after she expressed disappointment that the polystyrene-filled aluminium-foil panels Camden had paid them to fit on their own high-rise blocks had failed safety tests, along with the interiors, resulting in the evacuation of hundreds of residents in the middle of the night.

Irony is truly dead on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mr Bond is clearly unaware of what his lawyers wrote in reply, otherwise he would surely have removed the word ‘inflammatory’ before clearing it for press release.

He seems also to be unaware that regardless of the outcome of the inquiry his company no longer has a ‘reputation’, certainly not of the kind he would prefer, and will have to start building one all over again.

There are reputation-management agencies that specialize in putting these things right, if he cares to Google one. He can form an orderly queue behind Kensington and Chelsea Council’s jug-eared leader, the impermeable Mr Nick Paget-Brown.

Postscriptum: Five minutes after saving this Post, in a fast-moving news environment Mr Paget-Brown has obviously seen what I wrote and announced that he will do the honourable thing as soon as anyone else can be found who is too cloth-eared and rhino-skinned to refuse the opportunity of hauling the Royal Borough through the rest of this unholy mess. Deputy ‘Rock’ Feilden-whatever has also announced he is stepping down. I don’t suppose knighthoods will follow, but at least they’ll escape the twitstorm.

Claiming that time would show there had been no lack of help or leadership from the council in the wake of the fire, last night Mr Brown terminated a cabinet meeting rather than face questions from his own councillors, having just discovered there were journalists in the press gallery. Journalists who had had to get an emergency High Court injunction to be allowed in; unlike the relatives and survivors kept outside for fear of ‘disturbances’. This morning word came from Number Ten: Theresa is displeased.

Our public officials and company directors are just completely fucking clueless, aren’t they?

Being largely white, middle-aged, conservative boobies-in-bubbles, they obviously have no idea of the way the world has been changed by social media to ensure that no-one can now get away with these kinds of incompetence, evasions, bluster and bullying. Their lives and those of their blameless ghastly wives and children will become a perpetual misery until they throw their hands up and resign.

The current issue of Private Eye magazine contains a horrifying litany of Tory refusals at local and national government level over the past seven years to pay the slightest heed to public and expert concerns about fire safety in social housing and schools, largely on the grounds that any regulation is bad for business. Not just refusals, but actual sneering at people’s wimpish requests for antediluvian safety standards to be updated.

Thus, the strategy of the Brexit leave campaigners, of Trump, to put about the nonsense that the needs of the ‘business community’ (a bunch of undereducated, overpaid sexist bores in bad suits, with bad-breath and dandruff for brains, basically) must necessarily for the sake of the nation be placed above any consideration of human life and dignity. (It’s not, incidentally, something which the majority of business owners in the UK insist on, it’s just Tory dogma that they do.)

The current Communities Secretary, Mr Sajid Javed, for instance, who now finds himself having to oversee the government’s response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, was responsible previously as Mr Cameron’s Business Secretary for a Tory initiative to deregulate, among other sectors, the building industry, the ‘red-tape challenge’, in a race to the bottom of the heap to save £10 billion.

His predecessor, the morbidly obese Mr Eric Pickles, is said to have responded to a possibly costly Welsh Assembly initiative to fit sprinklers and save lives in social housing with a witty tweet: ‘Will the last housebuilder driven out by Labour from Wales to England please turn off the cement mixer?’

Fat cunt, as the trollers say.

Rock on

These fatuous and cynical, self-serving oafs will, one assumes, never share any of the responsibility for the disaster. Meanwhile, we are learning that the safer type of cladding originally specified in the Grenfell Tower contract was substituted at the last minute by one costing £293,000 less to please the deputy leader of KCBC, the improbably named Mr Rock Feilding-Mellon, who had been moaning about the budget and the colour scheme.

The report is in The Times but you have to pass a paywall to read it.

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“He is seriously psychotic and must be removed from the White House immediately. This is no longer funny…”

Blood libel

Childe Donald has been at it again.

Only women bleed.

In a bizarre early morning assault on cable news channel MSNBC’s soon-to-be-married presentation couple, ex-Congressman ‘Morning Joe’ Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, daughter of former Carter White House security advisor, Zbig – holder of the Order of the White Eagle (‘officially instituted on 1 November 1705 by Augustus II the Strong’) – among a fusillade of childish insults Trump tweeted that they had begged him to visit Mar a Lago ‘for three days’ at Christmas but he wouldn’t let them stay because she was ‘bleeding heavily from the face’ after having plastic surgery.

In fact, age 50 she had recently had a chin-tuck; rather less surgery than most residents of Palm Beach. Photographic evidence shows no sign of heavy bleeding, but we know what Mr Trump thinks of photographic evidence and we are surprised he has not convened a commission at public cost to examine the evidence for signs of tampering. Mr Trump too, seems remarkably taut around his demented old eyes for a man of 71.

Mika B’s offence had been to poke fun at the notoriously thin-skinned president, alluding to a request from Time magazine that Trump take down a fake cover he seems to have had designed-up with his own face on it, framed copies of which had been found adorning the walls of several of his tacky golf resorts; a story that originated with the New York Times, adding copyright theft to his list of many crimes.

On the show this morning, the couple contradicted Trump’s version, saying that he had invited them (shades of Guess Who’s Comey to Dinner?); that Joe had gone alone but Trump had insisted in his best Godfather style that Mika also came, that she interviewed Melania (‘who I like very much’) for 20 minutes and then they left.

The story got weirder when Scarborough revealed that someone on the Trump team had previously tried to blackmail him, telling him in a phone call that the notorious fake news tabloid the National Enquirer had a salacious story on the couple ready to print but they would spike it if he stopped criticizing the President. Followers of the show look away, but Scarborough was a big Trump supporter until the scales fell from his eyes as things started to get really, really bad.

(You’ll never hear any of this from the BBC, that continues to maunder on appreciatively as though Trump was not a significant risk to humanity and a cannon so loose you’d never catch up with it, but just the President of the United States on a normal day at the office.)

Where it all shades into a Stephen King novel is that, according to Scarborough today, Trump had previously gone off on a rant about Brzezinski in front of an entire room of Republican politicians, again fantasising about her bleeding from her ‘eyes, from her ears’… Something, Joe said, his informant had found ‘frightening’.

Then there was that other precedent when, after one of the candidates’ debates, he described the interlocutor, Megyn Kelly (late) of Fox News, who had asked him a pointed question about his referring to women as ‘fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals’, as a ‘bimbo’ and claimed she too was bleeding: ‘she had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her – wherever’.

He is seriously psychotic and must be removed from the White House immediately. This is no longer funny. To have elected a president who openly fantasises about women bleeding from the eyes and the vagina, and who has frequently boasted of assaulting women in the belief that they welcome it because he is so rich and powerful – he’s not actually wealthy, he appears to be a net debtor, along with his entire shitty cut-price TV crime-family – is a devastating wound on America that has to be cauterized.

That the revolting old slug almost certainly relied on the furore his tweets would create – indeed, even many leading Republicans were appalled, although they don’t dare impeach him for what it might do to their funding – to draw attention away from any other disturbing things he might have been doing since yesterday, the Muslim ban perhaps, ‘Trumpcare’, Russiagate or his renewed threats against China and North Korea, against Germany and NATO, where do you stop?, is not a reason to doubt that the very real nature of the disturbing sexual fantasies which he shares with the nation ought to result in his being removed to a secure unit, pdq.

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A half-Nelson with dumb stuff

In advance of the G20 at which he has been booked to go head to head with his macho money-idol Mr Putin, Mr Trump has stepped outside the ring of Presidential gravitas with an internet video ‘meme’ he has had produced, portraying him (in a suit) at a wrestling bout assaulting and overpowering a character with a CNN logo for a head, before being victoried with a raised arm by the hunky black wrestler in the ring.

The 45th and last President of the United States of America counts to ten. Missing nine.

He has actually spent your and my tax dollars on this witty but somewhat crapulous ‘meme’, a one-man party-political his dumbfucks are just going to love, so illiberal and unelitist is it, so not at all clever, so redolent of their own fuckwittedness. Dumb stuff rules, okay?

It’s a bit liberal snowflakey of me, but I know, and you know, that when their parents and kids start dying from curable illnesses they can’t afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars to treat, just maybe a tiny light will go on in their mushy brains.

But by then the Tangerine Dream will have told them, it’s all Obama’s fault.

And they’ll go yeah, right. Obama.

He was a bad dude. Re-elect the Orb!

Death is good.

 

Postscriptum: The Pumpkin recently speculated that billionaire Republicans might be planning to escape from the uninhabitable cinder their greed is turning the world into, by starting a colony on Mars. Lo and behold, Commander Trump yesterday held a hastily convened conference to announce that he is reviving a long-defunct quango, the National Space Council, to drive toward a colony on Mars.

“Our travels beyond the Earth propel scientific discoveries that improve our lives in countless ways here,” Trump drivelled, listing “new industry, technology and space security” among the benefits. (Washington Post)

Odd, coming from a President who has signed countless Executive Orders in his first weeks in office destroying scientific research, raising trade barriers and putting heavily polluting dinosaur industries centre-stage of his doomed plan for economic revival.

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“Even other Republican Congressmen hadn’t seen the ‘final’ version until it was announced on Tuesday night…”

Cough please. That’ll be fifty dollars

According to a KFF Kaiser Foundation poll, only 38 per cent of Americans have so far understood that the so-called Obamacare replacement health bill currently in front of the Senate provides for $800 billion cuts to their basic Medicaid care program.

Sixty-two per cent have no idea what is in the bill. Many Trump supporters among them still believe his pre-election campaign promises to substitute Obama’s ‘failing’ (actually, pretty successful) American Healthcare program with something much, much more beautiful and have not bothered to check the horrifying truth.

That the Affordable Healthcare Act is going to force – not 22 million, the latest estimate is 32 million – mostly children and elderly people and people with pre-existing medical conditions from the poor and lower middle-class – out of health insurance altogether; while it gives carte blanche to the drug companies and clinics to raise prices.

The cuts in the Medicare and Medicaid safety-net programs to fund a tax giveaway to the top 1% will then finish them off; the implication being that this is yet another Republican attack on the black and ethnic minority communities, to go with their attempts to force such people off the voting rolls in many states.

‘Obamacare’ took seven years to pass both houses of Congress and underwent hundreds of amendments and thousands of hours of debate. The AHCA – ‘Trumpcare’, has had a paltry few hours of consideration by a select cabal of conservative Republican Senators in closed-door sessions. Even other Congressmen hadn’t seen the ‘final’ version until it was announced on Tuesday night, and it’s actually worse news than the original bill that passed the house of Representatives last month; a bill even Mr Trump derided as ‘mean’.

So ashamed of this shit was the supine old Trump-sucking leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, that he had to postpone a final vote scheduled for last Thursday over the 4th of July holidays to allow for some reconsideration.

Meanwhile, many house Republicans are now deeply worried that if they don’t pass the bill, billionaire backers allied to the notorious Koch Brothers might defund their hugely expensive re-election campaigns next year; while if they do support it, the voters will eventually cotton on to what they’ve done and kick them out anyway.

So in the meantime, two things have happened.

One, Mr Trump is luxuriating in the furore created by his over-the-top disgusting campaign of insults and blackmail tweeted at the MSNBC presenters Joe and Mika, which is ongoing. This has provided helpful distraction from criticism of all the other disgusting things he has been doing, of which more in a mo.

Two, it is diverting media attention from the Wall Street Journal story that an elderly party fixer called Peter Smith, who died in March, had given them an interview in which he confessed to having put together a ‘team’, including computer specialists and a Russian interpreter, to try to get the Russians to release the Hillary Clinton ‘private server’ emails to the Republican party – and that he was reporting to, among others on the Trump campaign, General Flynn.

Mr Smith, it seems, was responsible twenty-three years ago for masterminding a Republican campaign to discredit President Bill Clinton. In what came to be known as the Troopergate scandal, two State troopers were persuaded to lie about escorting the married President to private assignations with a number of women and standing guard while he, er, dallied.

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“The Nuremberg Race Laws formed the cornerstone of Nazi racial policy. Their introduction in September 1935 heralded a new wave of antisemitic legislation that brought about immediate and concrete segregation.” – Holocaust Encyclopedia

On a roll

Resistance is reportedly growing among State officials to a letter demanding that they hand over to a special inquiry Mr Trump has set up to look into ‘voter fraud’ at the last election, complete lists of voters amounting to more than 200 million registrations, including details of their religious and voting affiliations, social security numbers, military service records and much, much more.

Appointed by Mr Trump to head the inquiry is Mr Chris Kobach, an obsessive anti-immigration campaigner who has lobbied assiduously for a national register of Muslims, similar to the one ordered of the Jews by the Nazis in 1935.

“As Secretary of State of Kansas, he has implemented some of the strictest voter ID legislation in the nation and has fought to remove nearly 20,000 properly registered voters from the state’s voter rolls. After considerable investigation and prosecution, Kobach secured six convictions for voter fraud; all were cases of double voting.” – Wikipedia

Insane, clearly. Another one.

Faced with a revolt by 44 state governors, one of whom suggested Mr Kobach could ‘go jump in the Gulf of Mexico’, a furious Mr Trump has come out with a strong statement demanding to know what they have to hide?

More to the point, what is he hiding?

It is yet another of Mr Trump’s famous diversionary tactics, an irrelevant accusation making the Governors the villains and inciting his dumbfuck supporters, who will undoubtedly interpret just the question as clear evidence of wrongdoing, there being no smoke without fire. (The smoke/fire principle of course does not hold good in relation to the FBI’s protracted investigations into their golden hero’s murky financial dealings and possibly treasonous activities, of which there is obviously not a shred of proof.)

The answer is probably nothing, as Mr Trump’s claim that ‘three, maybe five million’ illegal voters deprived him of an overall majority of the popular vote, which went to the hated rival Hillary Clinton, has already been thoroughly investigated by independent experts and found to be wholly without foundation.

The number of duplicated or illegal votes, they found, was vanishingly small.

Mr Trump, however, has never accepted that he did not win, both in the Electoral College (which he won) and overall in the popular vote. Like a dog at a bone, he cannot let the knowledge go that Mrs Clinton proved more popular with 2.8 million voters, it sears his soul that he is not universally loved and admired for his great successes.

Meanwhile as the farce continues, in which Mr Trump’s fragile ego syndrome hogs centre stage, the Middle East is falling apart; relations with the Chinese have sunk back into South China Sea, North Korea remains unresolved, Gen Mattis still wants to invade Iran and over a thousand administrative posts remain unfilled; including 500 at the State Department, where Secretary Tillexxon is tearing his hair out for lack of support.

So, as with everything he does, you are left wondering whether the Orb is just vindictive, untutored, thin-skinned, childish and senile, or whether there is some underlying rationale, some strategy behind the endless self-incriminating abusive tweets, the rain of Executive Orders (many of which cannot be carried out without a vote in Congress), the huge waste of public money and growing loss of confidence among America’s allies around the world, the mounting contempt and shame at home for his Presidency, reversing all the limited progress made under his hated (more popular) predecessor.

If you want to know where this obsession with voter numbers is headed, what this unprecedented and probably illegal demand for supposedly private voter details is about, remember two things:

One, it is the clear aim of the Republican majority to gerrymander the vote in their favour by disenfranchising tens of thousands of Democrat voters, kicking them off the rolls before next year’s midterms. This was partly what the Russian intervention was about, to get at the voter data. The information which Kobach initially said would be publicly available, but has now rowed-back and said will be confidential (except to the security forces, Russian hackers and anyone who will pay for it, presumably), is invaluable in the process of controlling the mass of the American people.

And two, Mr Trump vowed many times on the campaign trail to remove all Muslims from American soil; a policy clearly espoused by the likes of Steve Bannon, funded by the spectacularly rich alt-right orthodox Christian fundamentalists, Bob and ‘Bekah Mercer, and others who have espoused the cause of a holy war against both the forces of Islam and scientific modernism in the USA.

To date, in six months a furious Trump has managed to force through almost none of his legislative program, which is why the Healthcare bill means so much to him. He complains that the opposition Democrats keep inconveniently opposing him, he continues to blame Obama for everything (when he is not screaming abuse at his staff), he refuses to initiate any action over Russia’s role in the election… blaming Obama for that as well.

And he is a bad enemy to make. For, as Melania’s PR has tweeted, you hit him once, he hits you back ten times. A true son of Roy Cohn, the ruthless Mafia solicitor ‘friend of the family’ who figured so large in the young Donald’s business education, let’s hope she is not speaking from bitter experience.

Nevertheless he is determined to force through somehow, by hook or by crook, all the absurd, overblown promises of Bannon’s nihilistic, destructive policies he made last year to the dementedly screaming, hate-filled dumbfucks in a hundred aircraft hangars across America; egged on by Flynn and his Russian observers.

So to find out what happens next, after Mr Trump and the Republican party fixers get to know exactly who is voting where, how and out of what conviction, and to what religious creed they affiliate, you should turn to:

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007901

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Steel yourselves

‘And finally’… only joking, finality is a pipedream.

Despite overwhelming evidence and advice that it would be a disastrous move and lead to a global trade war, the Golden Orb has announced yet another inquiry, this time into how Chinese aluminum and steel prices are destroying American jobs and are thus A Bad Deal for Murca.

It is simply impossible to believe this disastrous tangerine effigy actually cares a damn about American workers, otherwise he would not be so keen to kill them all off. So one has to assume he imagines slapping a 20% tariff on imported Chinese steel, of the kind he uses in his own construction businesses and his new friends, the Kochs, use in their tar-oil pipelines, will somehow benefit their employers. (Things go better with Koch.)

“China has many predatory practices in the way they deal with us, with intellectual property and trade barriers for us.” – said Trump, reverting to his old gripes against China after a brief period in which he was being nice to them in the hope that his new ‘friend’ Mr Xi would clobber North Korea for us.

Mr Xi has clearly made the mistake of not fulfilling the loyalty pledge Mr Trump squeezed out of him over sticky chocolate cake at Mar a Lago.

These are presumably the same ‘predatory practices’ in ‘intellectual property’ that have seen Mr Trump and his non-US slave-employing daughter, feminist icon Ivanka, gain more than fifty exclusive product licences between them – including one for Trump-branded prostitution – using a Xi-ordained fast-track that might otherwise have taken them millennia to obtain.

There’s no gratitude among oligarchs.

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All his eggs in one Brexit

Richard Cuck, seen wearing second prize at the Portadown horse show.

Does this slackjawed man look genetically damaged to you? No, he doesn’t much to me either. Just a mite depressed. You don’t get that Louis Vuitton luggage under the eyes at his young age by not imbibing copious drafts of misery juice.

No need to worry, though. Mr Richard Cook (for it is he) won the EU referendum. We’re leaving, God knows how – when, or why. Possibly it was due to an unexpected donation to the Leave campaign from Mrs May’s new friends in the Democratic Unionist Party, who are refusing to say where the money came from.

The caption to the photo in The Guardian says : ‘Richard Cook, the chairman of the Constitutional Research Council, which has no website, publishes no accounts and is not obliged to reveal its donors.’ Photograph: Universal News And Sport (Europe).

The CRC appears to be a by-blow of Mr Cook’s own small business, Cook Consulting, and a temporary parking-lot he registered, Five Star Investments. Another director of CRC/Five Star was listed as Mr Peter Haestrup, a Dane.

According to The Guardian: “Haestrup was named in an investigation into an arms scandal in 1995. Hundreds of AK-47s, anti-tank grenades, pistols and rocket launchers were dropped from a transport plane into West Bengal in what the Indian authorities described as “the biggest crime in the country’s history”.

No wonder Mr Cook looks so worried. Vengeful Thuggees might emerge at any moment from the undergrowth with death in their eyes.

Entirely concidentally, Richard – a former vice-chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party –  also has interests in former West Bengal. Fancy that! The Guardian reports once more: ‘In 2012 his company, Cook Consulting, signed agreements to deliver environmental projects in Karachi worth more than £600m.’

A 13 July, 2012 BBC report reprinted what reads like a stock press release hailing the agreement, which mainly consisted of a £550 million desalination plant to provide drinking water to the city. The story gave no indication as to where Cook was getting the money: another blind alley. Mr Cook’s sources remain just as opaque four years on.

The absence of any evidence of Mr Cook’s finances is linked with a substantial donation, almost half a million pounds, in advance of the Brexit vote, via our new friends the Democratic Unionists (DUP), to the Leave.EU campaign and current Go On, Let’s Leave the EU as Painfully as Possible minister, the freshfaced empire-loyalist Tory baboon, Mr Steve Baker.

In default of a Leave vote in Northern Ireland, the money is said to have found its way to the UK mainland via a special dispensation that says donations received in the Six Counties don’t have to be declared to the Electoral Commission, in case they explode or perhaps come from one banned organization or another.

“In his register of interests, Baker states: “As chair of the European Research Group (ERG), I accepted £6,500 from the Constitutional Research Council to fund hospitality for ERG members and their staff at an event on 19 December 2016.”

So that can’t explain the total donation of £435,000, most of which according to The Guardian was spent on printing and distributing a ‘wraparound supplement’ to the Evening Standard newspaper, a modest enough project urging Londoners to vote Brexit – which they didn’t by a majority of 2:1, so that was a bit of a waste. Never mind! We’re OUT!

Ah, these think-tanks. Endless hospitality, ’tis a wonder they have time to think. You often wonder, too, where they get the money – who from, and what for. Possibly from wealthy speculators keen to advance their private interests, bypassing the tedious framework of democracy? Who can say.

While, bizarrely – perhaps like Alan Bennett he is 40 years older than he looks, or just one of those people you occasionally see written-up in colour supplements as having an unusual hobby – Cook:

“…like Baker, has been a supporter of the Freedom Association, the organization founded by a group of Tory MPs alarmed by the rise of trade unions and Irish republicanism.”

Neither cause has been exactly fresh in the public mind since the Thatcher era. But you know Unionists, easily alarmed.

Not all the money appears to have filtered through Northern Ireland to the mainland, though. Some went west.

According to Open Democracy UK, there appears to have been a payment of £32,000 to a Canadian company thought not to be many miles through snow-tracked wastes from Aggregate IQ, an obscure data analytics firm and referendum fixer whose ownership is, according to the Observer (articles passim), traceable to Mr Robert Mercer, the multibillionaire hedge-fund manager, ultra-orthodox Christian ‘disruptor’ and IT whizz behind the Breitbart News website.

The exact origin of the money remains shrouded in the misty Celtic twilight. Except that the third director of Cook’s short-lived Scottish-registered company, Five Star Investments – now wound up – is a known Saudi Arabian intelligence officer.

Now, a noted conspiracy theorist, I can imagine any number of reasons why the Saudis might want us out of Europe, but it’s hard to articulate one.

The Pumpkin should have thought the deal might possibly have attracted a more productive investigation as a possible case of money-laundering, than as a breach of the pathetic and toothless Electoral Commission’s barely enforceable rules on cross-border political donations and election spending.

Luckily, the Serious Fraud Office is being wound-up also and merged with the stationery purchasing department at Mrs May’s whizzo new National Crime Agency, so the DUP can sleep easy on their £billion pile, another cash bonanza from the endlessly gullible British taxpayer when it comes to Northern Ireland.

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All Change…

In the space of four days:

  • More than 35 wildfires are burning across the SW United States. The uncontrollable fire at Brian Head in Utah has consumed over 54 thousand acres and continues to spread. The forecast is for continuing 95 deg. heat and rising windspeeds. (Less than a month ago, the governor of Arkansas was declaring a federal emergency owing to extreme flooding and storms.)
  • A flash flood has left parts of Mexico City underwater. (A number of people were killed the previous week including eleven trapped in a bus in floods and landslides in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.)
  • Multiple wildfires are reported in Siberia as the boreal forest and tundra continue to blaze due to record temperatures ‘not seen in the past 10 thousand years’, according to Russian meteorologists. Krasnoyarsk sweltered in 37 deg. C. last week and is still in the mid-20s this week. In the North Caucasus, record rainfall has caused devastating flash floods. Moscow has been hit for the second time in five weeks by an abnormally violent thunderstorm, leaving two dead and a dozen injured.
  • Gerona in Spain was battered on Friday by a freak hailstorm, leaving rivers of ice two feet deep flowing through the streets. Watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqfa6do4u50, at 25’30” in, it’s a most bizarre sight. 150 mm of rain falling in a few hours has left parts of Berlin underwater.
  • Greece has a 42 deg. C-plus heatwave, with wildfires and melting roads.
  • The city of Chennai in drought-stricken Tamil Nadu state, India, has run out of water and rationing has been tightened. North of there large parts of Assam state are underwater, as are neighbouring areas of Pakistan, with deaths reported.
  • More severe flood warnings are out across Hunan province, central China, but the list of Chinese regions afflicted with major floods is over 40, too long to include.

(Climate and Extreme Weather News #39, 26-30 June/Floodlist.com)

The Pumpkin – Issue 22: The emollients clause. Plus: The forensic mind of Donald Trump. Computer News.

 

“Cheer up Ma, at least Trump’s cancelled” (AP)

Hello again

With apologies to its author, Philip Cohen, may I share with you this most excellent diatribe on the subject of The Pumpkin’s favourite object, stolen from the Comments section of The Washington Post, 7 June?

Thank you.

Drumpf’s a charlatan—an arrogant, autocratic, ignorant, incompetent, inarticulate, blustering, uncouth, unprincipled, hypocritical, malevolent, divisive, thin-skinned, grossly narcissistic sociopath; a draft dodging, much sued, numerously bankrupted, pathological liar, and political neophyte, with an adolescent brain displaying chronic “status twitterus” (a debilitating condition in which twittering fits follow one another without recovery of consciousness between them)—in sum, a classic, “Dunning-Kruger” / “Peter Principle” affectee—utterly unfit to be POTUS.

…had he not been born into great wealth it’s likely he would now be living under an overpass somewhere—yet the “poorly educated” have elected this “bouffanted buffoon” POTUS, making the U.S. the laughingstock of the world.Drumpf’s a man of principles few and flexible—he offers only incoherent bluster and delusionary or naively simple answers to complex problems—we will be lucky if this crétin does not cause some major tragedy to befall us. The only thing scarier than Drumpf is the ~63 million idiots that voted for this oaf, and about whom—some may soon enough come to realise—he cares not one iota.

Those who feel this is a bit excessive and are willing to forgive the President for skimming hundreds of thousands of dollars off his browbeaten and shallow-witted son Eric’s fundraisers for a children’s cancer charity, or for claiming that he was ‘better trained militarily than most’ of the 82 thousand US troops who died in Vietnam while he was securing successive exemptions for a probably non-existent and easily curable condition, thus avoiding the necessity to prove the claim, might pause to consider his latest wheeze.

It appears that one of a series of assaults on poverty in the budget he’s recently presented to Congress is to cut funding by 29 per cent for a federal program that provides an already limited amount of housing benefit to the homeless, enabling them to have an address from which to seek work; while at the same time preserving a special government subsidy to wealthy landlords.

Mr Trump has extensive rental property holdings, as you know, including a 4 per cent stake he inherited from his father Fred in a complex called Starrett City, from which he is said to earn $20 million a year. Having, as I say, inherited the holding, Mr Trump has at times claimed it was one of the best investments he ever made. He is an incorrigible scoundrel, a liar and a fantasist, but never mind, let’s press on.

Starrett City’s shareholders have reportedly received $490 million from the subsidy alone since 2013; $28 million in the last four months.

Mr Trump, who nobly announced on taking up the job that he would forego the normal salary of $450k a year, seems to be using the office of President to guarantee himself a side-income of a few million dollars a year; what is, essentially, a taxpayer-funded backhander to himself and his cronies, whilst ensuring the very poorest Americans whom he swore an oath to protect have nowhere to live, thus lessening their chances of finding one of the many jobs he is failing to deliver.

To ensure nothing goes wrong, Mr Trump has appointed the woman who organized his wedding to Melania, Lynne Patton, a former officer in Eric Trump’s charity foundation, a person with no public service experience, to head the New York office of the Department for Housing and Urban Development.

It would be a joke if it weren’t so sad.

(Reporting: Washington Post)

The Pumpkin is honestly at a loss when reaching for the usual supererogatory expressions of nausea today to find new words to accompany this horrible, horrible man on his journey to the innermost circle of Hell, given that I used to keep pigs and have great respect for their perceptive intelligence, forbearance and selfless humanity; their grasp of foreign policy.

I will simply let Mr Philip Cohen’s resonant encomium, that provides such a lazy introduction to this week’s issue 22 of The Pumpkin, stand as mute testimony to my imaginative failure, and go take Hunzi for his morning walk.

The weather too has taken a turn overnight. After five days of record-breaking heat and humid sunshine, reeking of tanning oil, we are enshrouded in a clammy, murky drizzle.

Oh, well. Probably Yellowstone will get us instead.

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“…there is never an ‘endgame’ in the Middle East, only a transition to something worse.”

The forensic mind of Donald Trump

To use the phrase ‘American foreign policy’ with regard to the situation in the Middle East is to do oxymoronic violence to the English language. For even the forensic, nimble and well-stocked brain of the President seems not quite able to figure out, in his own words, just what the hell is going on; the problem being, he’s the one in charge.

But the Middle East is complicated, idn’t it?

In the space of barely a month, Mr Trump met with the Emir of Qatar and assured him of America’s undying friendship and desire to sell him billions of dollars’ worth of ‘beautiful military equipment’ (the man is sick in the head, but we’ll continue…).

On his return, he tweeted out that he, Trump, had in a single two-day visit to Riyadh – during which he performed a sword dance and Ivanka was handed a present of $100 million, seemingly without strings – ended the scourge of global terrorism for ever, persuading the Saudi allies to embark on a policy of blockading evil Qatar, the source of all global terrorism.

Then, ahem, having been reminded by Gen. Mattis that there are 11 thousand US and NATO troops stationed in friendly Qatar, the main base from where operations are being conducted against ISIS, Mr Trump tweeted out again to complain that he had been misled by the Saudis and Qatar was not a sponsor of terrorism after all, so the UAE should back off.

The correction came somewhat late in the day, as (supported by Russia and Iran) Turkey had already sent troops to Qatar in a ‘training’ capacity to wave a scimitar in the hostile face of Riyadh, and the fairly gratuitous shooting-down of a Syrian airforce plane by a US airforce plane had brought Russia and America eyeball to eyeball once more over the proposed fate of the Assad regime.

Having abandoned command of his forces to the generals on the ground, Trump was now seeing things spinning out of his grasp.

Meanwhile, in a palace coup the senile King Salman’s pleasure-loving son, the war criminal in charge of all those beautiful weapons currently slaughtering Yemeni children, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, has been nominated as the sock-puppet who will take over as the heir-apparent to the ‘oil-rich’ terror-sponsoring Gulf state in place of the King’s more sensible, peaceable but less US-friendly nephew, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 57, who has, in the words of The Sun newspaper, been ‘fired’….

From The Sun (22 June):

SAUDI Arabia’s future King is a millionaire businessman who is friends with Donald Trump and recently splashed out over £400 million on a yacht.

Mid-East policy all at sea: The Serena (Getty Images)

So we must assume that once King Salman, who is said to have Alzheimer’s, kicks the bucket, Saudi Arabia will follow a pro-American line; rather than as, at present, America follows a pro-Saudi line. And if he is not in jail by then Trump will personally – and presumably financially – benefit.

Who is this a victory for?

Now, The Pumpkin has a confession. Throughout my career I prided myself on my analytical pattern-recognizing abilities and the particular strength I felt I had in being able to join the dots in complex situations: pull together the threads, grasp the big picture (enough business cliches. Ed.).

Pundits are starting to refer to the ‘endgame’ in Syria as Assad finally bids foul to regain control of the country after six years of war, thanks to his Russian pals, with whatever consequences it may bring for his opponents – my bet is a massacre – but you and I know, don’t we, there is never an ‘endgame’ in the Middle East, only a transition to something worse.

So I would really love to give you insight and clarity on the situation as it stands currently, because lots of new and strange things seem to be happening, but I’m afraid it will have to wait for someone better to come along. I am utterly at a loss to explain what is going on, so irrational and contrafibulatory do all the many actors appear to have become.

The noisy men – Victor McGlaglan

It is possible I, or they, have gone mad trying to work out the connections. It’s like John Wayne and Victor McLaglan and Alan Ladd (on his box) slugging it out in a Howard Hawks mass barroom brawl that drags everyone in, smashing chairs and bottles over one another’s heads with scant regard for who is on who’s side. No sooner do I feel I have a handle on it, than my brain suffers a chronic meltdown and everything starts to slip alarmingly sideways.

However, I can offer one possible clue.

Just last week I gave up trying to find anything worth watching on TV, and reverted to my DVD collection. One of the first films I pulled out was ‘Syriana’, a thriller set in the Middle East, by and starring George Clooney as ‘Bob’, a redundant CIA operative turned freelance, who equally has a problem knowing what is going on when he is kidnapped and tortured by the jihadis he has just sold some state-of-the-art kit to (okay, that’s not quite it, but I’m too old to explain) and has to be rescued by Hezbollah; with Matt Damon as the good guy, the fresh-faced analyst from the State Department sent to groom the heir to an oil-rich Gulf kingdom, but who gradually realises he’s being corrupted by the Deep State*.

It must be about ten years old and, although I’ve watched it four times now, I’ve never really grasped the plot.

All I know is that a key point comes – and here is the amazing synchronicity – when the ageing King of the unnamed Gulf state changes his mind about his successor and ‘fires’ his strong and stable but independently reformist heir and friend of Matt Damon in favour of a weak and dissolute younger brother who doesn’t care about ‘his people’. He will prove a more useful asset to the rogue group of CIA conspirators plotting with a giant and totally amoral oil company to turn the oil-rich kingdom into a client state, and will stop at nothing – including sponsoring arms sales to useful but unpredictable jihadi militias.

Meanwhile, the agency has succeeded at home in deflecting an FBI investigation into bribery and corruption reaching up to the highest levels of the company and beyond – as far up as Christopher Plummer, an apparently immortal billionaire politician and former CIA head who, ‘Bob’ realizes, is running the operation from behind the scenes.

Is this starting to remind you of anything?

Spoiler alert

The CIA is essentially depicted as a state-within-a-state, out of control and operating entirely on its own agenda, fractious, fuelled by dirty money and capable of causing havoc across the region in support of global energy interests, corporations no longer bound to the United States and its official foreign policy.

The last scenes of the film show Clooney as agent Bob, tired of being used by all sides, racing across the desert to warn the outgoing prince that he’s in danger, only to be incidentally vaporized in a drone strike by remote CIA operatives in the USA.

Let’s hope that’s the one part of the movie he didn’t get right.

*Just last week in an echo of the scene where Matt Damon’s son dies, accidentally electrocuted in the oil-sheikh’s swimming-pool, there was a report of children electrocuted in a swimming-pool in Turkey. It’s not a very common occurrence. I expect these odd synchronicities go on all the time unnoticed. Either that, or I am making the world happen around me.

Indeed, I have long had a feeling that the world ended in 1962 with the Cuban missile crisis, we weren’t spared the nuclear holocaust after all, we all perished, and the sense that this is all an increasingly weird and dystopian, shared near-death experience and any minute now it will fade to black is nearer the mark.

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“The exciting thing about working for maniacs … is, anything can happen in the next half-hour.”

Computer News

Did they have inside help?

We’re aware, are we not, of Mr Trump’s undying loyalty to those who are loyal to him – until he thinks they’re not?

It’s a cuddly trait that has, we can see, provided a lot of employment since the election for party and campaign donors from all over the USA. Why, it almost led to our very own Nigel Farage getting the plum post of ambassador to Washington!

Sadly the job was not in Mr Trump’s gift. Nor did Farage have any prior diplomatic service experience. In fact he’s about the least diplomatic person you could shake a cocktail at. But we wonder what our Nige did for his strangely glowing master to deserve that one?

Anyway, in our lead story today, we saw from a report in the Washington Post that Mr and Mrs Trump’s wedding party organizer has been put in charge of housing development in New York, where Mr Trump owns a lot of housing.

It reminds me of my previous employer, Shane, who after thirty years running businesses in Japan signed his memos ‘Founder’, a clear sign of incipient megalomania. He also has an advanced appreciation of loyalty, there’s probably a Japanese word for it, that runs to putting in the job whoever is standing nearest the water-cooler when the previous guy dies.

Hence, hired as the gardener, within weeks I was managing a terrible country hotel with one part-time assistant, an obese Goth with greasy hair and bipolar disorder. I had no hotel management experience whatever after a lifetime in journalism, advertising and publishing. After Matt ran off with the petty cash it was just me, the guy in the Wellington boots standing by the water-cooler (metaphorically – there wasn’t one), cooking meals and cleaning, organizing weddings, chasing intruders at 2 a.m. and renegotiating the business rates.

The exciting thing about working for maniacs with Entrepreneur Syndrome – the belief that whatever the business, they can walk on water – is, anything can happen in the next half-hour.

So, in the Trump cabinet, there are rancid climate-change deniers with no prior experience or science qualification running the Environmental Protection and Energy agencies; the ex-CEO of the world’s greediest and most shameful oil company as Secretary of State, in charge of global diplomacy; a major donor with no public schools administration experience hoping to foist Creationism on America’s children; a multibillionaire seeking tax breaks for his mining businesses put in charge of government revenue; a Russian agent originally (but no longer) in charge of National Security; a blustering little twerp who’s not very good at lying handling the press briefings, Trump’s private banker in charge of Commerce and his not very bright, 36-year-old property developer son-in-law tasked with everything else, from Middle East peace to government reform.

It’s a bit like the amateur dramatic company I work with. Most of the male roles have to be played by women on account of there aren’t enough men.

The Pumpkin has, however, been learning from the indefatigable Rachel Maddow at MSNBC, of a loyalty appointee of an altogether more interesting stripe.

John deStefano was, until he was appointed as Mr Trump’s Presidential Personnel Director, director of a small data analytics firm contracted by the Republican campaign, Data Trust Inc., a business for which it is hard to find a listing. It doesn’t seem to appear among the top six companies on Google with that name, in the first three pages.

It’s possible that he was just being rewarded as a loyal Republican, although he is named as having campaigned as a ‘Never Trumper’. So many were.

Like Charlie Parker, “DeStefano grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. His uncle helped him to get an internship with Oklahoma Representative J. C. Watts during his junior year. Following his graduation, he worked for the House Republican Conference as a liaison to outside conservative groups. In 2006, he ran the reelection campaign of Ohio Representative Deborah Pryce.”

So he does at least have more political experience than the President. By way of further explanation:

“Conservative HQ said DeStefano’s appointment was designed “to funnel Capitol Hill staffers loyal to the congressional Republican establishment into key jobs in the executive branch.” The organization also pointed out that DeStefano has zero experience in human resource functions, which are at the core of his new role.” – Wikipedia, and see above

In other words, draining the swamp off Capitol Hill and into the White House.

As a funnel, Johnny DeStefano was the guy Trump ordered to write the letter firing Sally Yates, the Acting Attorney General, who had been trying to warn the White House that Gen. Flynn was a Russian agent. The reason he gave was her resistance to implementing the Muslim ban, but as that was being blocked by the 9th circuit and about every other court in the land, the real reason seems obvious.

Mr DeStefano also, however, appears to have been entrusted on payment of $6.7 million with collating the entire US voter registration database, 198 million names, addresses, dates of birth, voting intentions, religious affiliations an’ all.

And he accidentally left it sitting for a while in a public Amazon cloud account on an unencrypted server and, hey, guess what?

As Ms Maddow reports, it appears that as far as early research can tell, the Russian ‘hack’, which the FBI now says affected 21 states, although it may have been all 50, appears to have targeted only those wards where the majority voted Democrat in previous elections.

And where there was a corresponding overlap with the use of polling station computers using registration software supplied by companies that reported being hacked earlier, there were reports of unusual breakdowns and delays in processing voters on the door, again in mainly Democrat wards.

It wasn’t an attack on the actual votes, as far as the FBI is prepared to go at this stage. The hackers didn’t impersonate voters or change the counts or anything too overt. It was an attack on the electoral process, designed to deter Democrats from voting. A marginal outcome could statistically have made enough difference to get a candidate, in this case Trump, over the line.

But it required detailed knowledge of voter distribution. And what the implications are for the 2018 midterms we can only imagine.

Did the Russians have insider knowledge of the systems and help with targeting their disruption campaign? We know how attached Republicans are to voter suppression and other fraudulent tactics.

According to the website Carbonated.TV:

“The now-secured files contained data typical to political campaigns, some of which is already public information, but also included analysis to help the GOP best target specific voting populations. Many of the records stored on the server came from data firms other than Deep Root Analytics, one of which was The Data Trust, the primary provider of the GOP’s voter details contracted by the party for a whopping $6.7 million in 2016.”

http://www.carbonated.tv/news/data-of-198-million-voters-exposed-in-massive-leak-by-gop-contractor

 

Making monkeys of themselves

President Erdogan in his wisdom has ordered all references to biological evolution to be removed from Turkey’s state school textbooks. The subject is, says his education director, ‘too controversial’ to be taught to 14-16 year-olds and may only be discussed in universities. (BBC News)

The only other country in the Middle East to have banned the teaching of evolution is Saudi Arabia, a country also not known for its progressive views.

The Koran says God made Adam out of a lump of clay, so that’s a scientific fact. It’s actually not so far from the truth, we do indeed share many elements found in the general make-up of the universe, including those found in clay. But it was just an allegorical story. The point Darwin made is we didn’t start out like this, in human form. We got here by trial and error, starting with a small colony of prokaryotic cells. We were not made from lumps of clay, but by an evolutionary leap called sexual reproduction. It takes two.

And of course, there is now an overwhelming body, not of opinion but of experimental, empirical observation to show that, while there are other evolutionary mechanisms in play, evolution by natural selection of the most useful genetic mutations is the main means by which new species come into being over time. Basically, if you fall over a cliff it helps to quickly sprout feathers.

One student quoted in the report says his teacher asked him if he believed he was descended from a monkey? This stupid debate was settled years ago.

When even teachers are too lazy and illiterate to understand a relatively simple proposition, that we co-evolved alongside the apes, a separate branch from monkeys, from a common ancestor; that there have been many species of humanoid but we are the only ones so far as we know who survived to be what we are today, i.e. credulous, incurious naked baboons capable of swallowing any amount of allegory from 2,000-year-old books, capable of denying the evidence of our own reason, capable of electing dangerous idiots to lead us, you wonder if it’s worth teaching children anything.

Because to refute the oft-observed fact that species are continually changing asa result of ‘the survival of the fittest’ (fit meaning… oh, I give up. Not that kind of fit, the kind that means ‘best adapted to the conditions’) is to suggest that we cannot ever properly learn. Learning is a crucial stage in evolution, since before new physiological characteristics are selected for in our ever-changing, ever-challenging environment the first changes must come in our cognitive processes and behavioral patterns.

Not much sign of that.

So Turkey, ostensibly a civilized, modern and progressive nation of 80 million, has started on its long march backwards to the mud. Yes, advanced organisms like States can revert to type, but in the process they become less fit for survival and are vulnerable to extinction.

So much for Mr Erdogan and his ‘leadership’. We could have told you, Turkey, but you wouldn’t have listened.