Quote of the Week… EU: What the ignorant like to hear… In nomine patri, et feel-you-up sancti… GW: gone with the wind… This is where our story ends: Forests, Oceans, Wildlife… A new week’s BogPo slowly forming.

“Budski, can you spare a dime?” Charles visits the global laundromat in search of change for the tumble dryer. (rubenvardanyan.info)

Quote of the Week

Having nothing better to do, I drift in and out of slumber this Monday morning, and awake for the fifth or sixth time since five a.m. with the radio burbling quietly in the background, to find myself semiconsciously immersed in a discussion on Woman’s Hour about a campaign to address the problems of women unable to obtain sanitary products in the Third World.

The guest is the Women’s Minister, Ms Penny Mordaunt – a longtime Leave (the EU) supporter. The presenter is Jayne Garvey. Having exhausted the topic of period management, the conversation divagates thus:

Garvey: “Anyway, there’s only one show in town (sly menstrual pun intended?), and that’s Brexit. Assuming we leave at the end of the month (25 days away, folks) and we leave with an agreement, what will be the benefits for British women?”

Mordaunt: “Well… (hesitation)… I… I… I… (repetition)… I think… (deviation)…. er…” (Sound of sleepy fist clunking furiously on radio off-switch.)

This is absolutely bloody terrifying.

Not one of these dismal molluscs engineering the catastrophe has the slightest idea of what they voted FOR, they only have vastly divergent opinions on what they thought they were voting AGAINST.

Rather than listen to this brain-dead functionary riffling through her unread pile of moldering briefing notes, I set myself to imagining the benefits for British women living in a world of:

  • ever-rising prices and lower standards for food, travel, pharmaceuticals and energy;
  • permanently low wages and increasing inequality;
  • housing, food, medical, educational and job insecurity;
  • reduced womens’, human, consumer, working and maternal rights;
  • savagely reduced child, in-work, carer and disability benefits, social and maternity services;
  • increasingly uncontrolled environmental health and personal security hazards;
  • at the mercy of global corporations and anti-abortion white Christian fundamentalists;
  • ruled by misogynistic, patriarchal gangsters and their licensed abusers: the male race;
  • in an atmosphere of rising violence.

Yes, Brexit makes you free, alright.

Police officers on duty as Theresa May visited Salisbury yesterday.

“The plan, Prime Minister, is to introduce these tiny miniaturized policemen at lower cost…” (EPA)

EU: What the ignorant like to hear

“There are two important realities that I constantly try to hammer home here. One is that it’s not unelected bureaucrats who make the decisions in the European Union. It’s the democratically elected representatives of our member states, and it’s the democratically elected European Parliament, which by the way is about to have direct elections in May. All our decisions are taken with very thorough democratic accountability and review.

“The second thing, and I say this as a European, is that the European Union is not about the death of the nation-state. It’s about allowing the nation-state to better flourish by having a framework of cooperation that delivers better outcomes for our citizens than would be the case if our member states acted separately. My European identity is complementary to my Irish identity — not a substitute to it. I think that’s the strong view of all Europeans.

(David O’Sullivan, EU ambassador to Washington, interviewed in the Washington Post, Tue. 5 Mar. )

Was there no-one in the Remain campaign during 2016 who could have stood up every day for six months and said just those words, loudly in a public space?

Because it seems to me that O’Sullivan here in essence encapsulates and perfectly contradicts every stupid negative argument the Leave side was able to muster, while the rest was just belligerence, Jingoism, deceit and denial – the closing-down of debate.

What the ignorant like to hear, in other words.

 

In nomine patri, et feel-you-up sancti

Have you ever wondered about the people in charge of the spiritual care of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the world?

A spectacular new exposé of – not just the intrinsic homosexuality, but the Chaucerian debauchery of many prelates – the Church in Rome contains such wonders as this, commenting on the testimony of a male sex worker who records his pontifical encounters:

“I was able to consult the ‘dossier’ called Preti gay (‘the gay priesthood’); it reveals dozens of priests celebrating mass in their cassocks and then, stark naked, celebrating other kinds of frolic via webcam. The photographs, alternating homilies and intimate pictures, are quite extraordinary.”

Andrew Sullivan writes in The Intelligencer – a New York Magazine supplemental website – about the almost hysterical reaction of many conservative reviewers to Frédéric Martel’s new book on the hypocrisy and homosexuality in the Vatican, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy.

Among other reviews, he quotes Lifesite News: “His statements regarding Pope Francis are so grave from a doctrinal point of view that they need to be known and, hopefully, officially denied.” While, from The Spectator: “Martel confirms that the Vatican is full of gossipy queens, most of whom stare at waiters’ bottoms and some of whom have sex with young men. But I think we knew that already.”

I suppose it depends on how young?

As Martel informs us, based on a very large number of interviews with Vatican insiders: “many of these cardinals and officials have lively sex lives, operate within a “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture, constantly hit on young men, hire prostitutes, throw chem-sex parties, and even pay for sex with church money.”

Of course, there are dangers in this kind of reporting. In quite a few countries, homosexuality is still a prisonable crime that can be informally punished by death at the hands of semi-official vigilante squads. Taken with the claims of predatory pedophilia against alarming numbers of priests and apparently covered-up for decades (possibly centuries) by the hierarchy, it would not be surprising soon to see a witch-hunt culminating in reprisals and expulsions – even extrajudicial martyrings.

Given the murderous excesses of the Islamic State, the attempted genocide of the Rohingya by Burmese Buddhists, the disruptive Islamophobic interventions funded by the Russian Orthodox Church, the growing revival of tensions between the religious communities in Northern Ireland and the slimy machinations of political Christianity (especially in the USA), religion doesn’t have a very good name at the moment.

Best be rid of it. Grow out of this supra-parental dependence on invisible and improbable entities to control people’s lives through a hypocritical and unelected, patriarchal priestly caste, eh?

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/andrew-sullivan-a-radically-moderate-climate-solution.html

In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, by Frédéric Martel and Shaun Whiteside. Available in hardback from Amazon, price £14.70.

One of Martel’s more lurid revelations, is the life of Pope Benedict’s chief Inquisitor, Cardinal Trujillo, who notoriously waged a war against liberation theology in South America, touring the countries setting death squads onto left-wing priests; and was subsequently employed in Rome to drive gays out of the church and mastermind the Pope’s campaign against condoms, claiming that they caused AIDS. As one Colombian interviewee recorded:

“Trujillo’s specialty was novices: “The most fragile, the youngest, the most vulnerable. But in fact he slept with anybody. He also had lots of prostitutes. … Everyone knew that he was homosexual. He lived with us, here, on the fourth floor of the Palazzo di San Calisto, in a 900-square-metre apartment, and he had several cars! Ferraris! He led a highly unusual life.” And what was Trujillo’s task in Rome? You guessed it: president of the Pontifical Council for the Family!”

 

GW: Gone with the wind

USA: At least 23 people have been killed as a succession of powerful tornadoes struck Lee County in Alabama. County Sheriff Jay Jones said there had been “catastrophic” damage and there were fears more bodies would be found. Dozens are thought to have been hurt. An unconfirmed number of tornadoes with a power estimated to be at least EF-3 – winds of up to 165mph (266km/h) – struck the area around Beauregard, carving a path at least half a mile wide. 2,000 homes are without power and more cold weather is forecast, with temperatures predicted to drop to near freezing (BBC report). The tornado season in the southern states normally starts in April.

Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan: After a severe drought, intense rainfall has caused flash flooding and landslides over the past few days. “According to media reports, as many as 50 people may have died as a result of flooding, landslides or collapsing buildings across the 3 countries. Parts of Kandahar Province in Afghanistan recorded around half the annual rainfall in 30 hours.” Thousands of homes, roads and other infrastructure have been damaged, hundreds of people needed rescuing. Parts of Pakistan have also been affected by severe snowstorms. (Floodlist)

Australia: And the heat goes on… After a four-day spell of searing temperatures brought the hottest-ever recorded start to March, “2 thousand firefighters are battling (more than 19) fires in Victoria, in the far south of Australia. Multiple lightning strikes on Friday started the largest fire in Bunyip State Park, east of Melbourne. High winds pushed two huge brushfires together, creating a “monster” wall of flame. Over 10 thousand Ha. has been burning, with property losses, and several townships have been evacuated. The country’s meteorology bureau said plumes of smoke have risen up to 15km into the atmosphere.” A “few millimeters” of rain is forecast for Wed. 6 Mar., but with further dry lightning and a change of wind direction raising fears of more fires in the meantime.

Temperatures in Tasmania, Australia’s southernmost state, reached 39.1C on Saturday, the hottest in 131 years of records. (BBC Weather/Guardian/Straits Times)

Buy Australian wine now, and woolly jumpers while stocks last…. “Australia’s hottest summer on record is causing several industries to wilt, including the US$4.4 billion wine industry with grape yields set to drop to the lowest in years. Drought has also damaged the winter wheat crop and is expected to drag the wool clip to a record low.” (Straits Times)

Europe: A snow warning has been issued Mon. 4 Mar. as Storm Freya sweeps across the southern UK with wind speeds approaching 80mph. The Met Office has warned that dangerous conditions will continue into Monday morning and there have been reports of flying debris and sailors stranded at sea. Hundreds of homes have been left without electricity and gales have also disrupted trains and closed bridges. 6cm (2.4in) of snow was recorded at a weather station near the border between Cumbria and Northumberland. Severe-weather.eu forecasts severe wind conditions with potential for tornadoes, and intensive rainfall pushing eastwards across northeastern France, Benelux and northern Germany over the next few days.

 

This is where our story ends…

Trees: The EU is failing miserably in its mission to reduce carbon emissions as a result of industrial logging. Brussels “…expects to lose about 125m tonnes of carbon sequestration potential from forests between 2010 and 2030, with countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Austria transforming from carbon sinks to carbon sources.” Poland still hopes to clear swathes of the ancestral (UN-protected) Białowieża Forest to drive a military road to the coast, and other ancient woodlands are also under threat across central and eastern Europe, with potential effects on Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions.

A spokeswoman for the Polish forest protection group Fern, said:“The biggest factor in the destruction [is] incentives given by the EU to burn trees for energy.” Illegal logging is another cause of deforestation. The Romanian NGO Agent Green, said government figures showed that 38m cubic metres of wood were harvested in the country last year – more than twice as much as officially claimed. “Old-growth forests in our national parks are being massively logged,” he said. “It is an environmental catastrophe taking place in front of the EU’s eyes.” (All from Guardian Green Light report)

Uncle Bogler writes: Instead of leaving the EU, Britain needs to stay in and lobby for these former Soviet republics to be heavily sanctioned and even expelled, for these and other crimes their corrupt, pro-Putin gangster regimes are blatantly getting away with. They have no place in a modern Europe faced with environmental and climate catastrophe on a life-threatening scale.

 

Oceans: The number of heatwaves (surges in water temperature lasting more than 5 days) affecting the planet’s oceans has increased sharply, scientists have revealed, killing swathes of sea-life like “wildfires that take out huge areas of forest”. “The damage caused in these hotspots is also harmful for humanity, which relies on the oceans for oxygen, food, storm protection and the removal of climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. … The number of heatwave days jumped by more than 50% in the 30 years to 2016, compared with the period 1925 to 1954. As heatwaves have increased, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs have been lost. These foundation species are critical to life in the ocean.”

“Another study showed that achieving the 2C climate change target set out in the Paris agreement would protect almost 10m tonnes of fish catches each year, worth tens of billions of dollars.” (Guardian Green Light, quoting Marine Biological Association and other recent research papers.)

 

Wildlife: “The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) had long helped fund and equip Chitwan’s forest rangers, who patrol the area in jeeps, boats, and on elephant-back alongside soldiers from the park’s in-house army battalion. Now WWF’s partners in the war against poaching stood accused of torturing a man to death.”

In an extraordinary exposé, at which we find it hard not to scream ‘Fake News’, BuzzFeed News is reporting that the WWF is actively encouraging the murder, torture and beatings of villagers in countries where it supports and operates anti-poaching squads to patrol protected areas in national parks.

The story from Nepal concerns the kidnapping and beating to death of Shikharam Chaudhary, a farmer suspected of concealing an illicitly obtained rhino horn (none was found). It goes on to detail how the WWF actively lobbied to shut down the investigation into the murder and issued a triumphal statement hailing a victory for wildlife when the case against the three suspect rangers and the park manager was dropped.

“In national parks across Asia and Africa, the beloved nonprofit with the cuddly panda logo funds, equips, and works directly with paramilitary forces that have been accused of beating, torturing, sexually assaulting, and murdering scores of people.”(Buzzfeed News)

WWF is one of those global NGOs that makes waves, and politicians in many countries with fingers in muddy pies probably would rather they were shut down. So this might just be evidence of a campaign to throw maximum shade at the hated conservationists, that makes the claims of sexual misconduct against Oxfam and Save the Children look pretty tame.

On the other hand, BuzzFeed is claiming: “WWF has provided paramilitary forces with salaries, training, and supplies — including knives, night vision binoculars, riot gear, and batons — funded raids on villages … and signed off on a proposal to kill trespassers penned by a park director who presided over the killings of dozens of people.”

The charity responded to these extraordinary claims with: “Human rights abuses are totally unacceptable and can never be justified in the name of conservation.” WWF officials have promised a thorough investigation

However, BuzzFeed promises to continue running more stories of similar atrocities in the coming days.

Uncle Bogler writes: I have found myself on occasion wishing I could win £120 million on the Euromillions lottery, as some do. I have visions of acquiring a secondhand submarine to sink Japanese whaling ships, and sending trained mercenaries to eliminate Chinese and other Asian government officials involved in the clandestine ivory and powdered rhino-horn trades.

Shaken, and stirred: Extreme weather: drought, flooding, high winds and unseasonal frosts consistent with an overall increase of 1.4C locally in the average temperature of the Mediterranean region have been blamed for a 57% fall in the Italian olive crop, a loss valued at $1 billion, and other farming losses. The European commission has projected 2018-19 olive harvests to drop by 20% in Portugal and 42% in Greece, where extreme heat triggered an olive fly infestation, although industry sources said final figures there could be significantly worse. (Guardian Green Light)

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Blogging: the Thief of Time… Losing our marbles… GW: A mortal blow… GW Color Supplement: Skating on Thin Ice…The mystery of the missing CO2… Beating poisons into ploughshares… Yellowstone news.

£117 million: the total amount to date that Open Democracy has traced to a spending spree by Liam Fox’s Department for International Trade just on CONSULTANTS, all of whom are on record otherwise as judging Brexit to be a complete disaster, while Fox continues to insist even No Deal will be a huge success for British trade.

“A spokesman for DIT said: ‘We really don’t care [if a company] is for Brexit or against Brexit …. It is very much about providing services that deliver value for money for the taxpayer..'”

http://www.opendemocracy.net

 

Blogging: the Thief of Time

“(The research) found that the amygdala – an almond-shaped structure in the temporal (side) lobe which processes our emotions and controls our motivation – was larger in procrastinators. In these individuals, there were also poorer connections between the amygdala and a part of the brain called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (DACC).

“The DACC uses information from the amygdala and decides what action the body will take. It helps keep the person on track by blocking out competing emotions and distractions.” – (BBC Science, 01 Sep)

No-one can accuse your Uncle Bogler of procrastination!

Why, his side-lobes are positively bulging with almond-shaped structures….

For, here is part the first of The BogPo, concerning NEXT THURSDAY, and it’s still only this Saturday!!!

There’s not much more one can really say on the topic of procrastination, except that I have still not opened last Monday’s mail, containing as it does a worrying-looking Brown Envelope – I suspect it may not be a cash bribe. It went straight into the bureau, third drawer down, a Valhalla from which I avert my eyes whenever I head for the kitchen where I am gazing with as-yet unengaged fascination at the glutinous evidence of the past three days’ worth of microwavable instant meals.

Nor have I done much about returning to the builder’s merchant to see where the fuck my bricks have got to, the lovely mellow bricks I paid for, the Best Bricks, but did not collect immediately and the halfwits SOLD THEM a second time to some other customer or customers unknown, and now we can’t seem to find any more of the same ones and I’m stuck with HALF A BEAUTIFUL WALL I’ve built in my garden, and £150 lighter.

In fact after putting it off since whenever, end of July when they said more might be coming in, I did go back last Monday, but for no accountable reason – kismet, karma – despite a sign saying “Opening Hours 08.00 to 17.00” the gates were still locked mid-afternoon and I haven’t been able to face going back again since.

I hate arguments, my assertiveness is off the scale (the bottom of the scale), so my amygdala concocted some story about the builder’s merchant having gone into administration and fed it to my DACC, which promptly decided to turn around and go home, telling me to come back Tuesday, or phone, or something. The almond-shaped structure is still making up its mind when would be best to construct a new narrative in which I think about it some more.

In any case, with my uncomfortably awkward catheter and messy leg-bag changeovers and painful contractions and always feeling tired and floppy and with the rats still gnawing at my stomach in the mornings and all, I’m no longer fit to work on a building-site, lugging 25kg bags of cement and stuff around the garden, which exists on several levels.

(Good news on that front, the tragic letter to the hospital I’d put off writing since July about my horrible catheter, that I finally got round to sending off last week, has paid dividends – the consultant appointment’s been brought forward by three months! Good old NHS, I say. (Local electrician regales me with the story of his father-in-law, diagnosed with cancer on Monday and operated on on Thursday… by the Spanish health service.)

Maybe a lesson there? I’ll go back Monday. Find a builder. Sort it out.

And probably tackle last week’s post. Or maybe the washing-up.

Honest.

“Prof Tim Pychyl, from Carleton University, Ottawa, who has been studying procrastination for the past few decades…” (BBC Science report)

You’d think he’d get on with it, wouldn’t you?

 

1,400: number of additional deaths (and 48 thousand extra asthma cases in children) annually the US Environment Protection Agency expects to be caused by their own new “set-them-yourself” state-by-state pollution rules, replacing the federal Clean Power Plan stalled in the Supreme Court.

 

Losing our marbles

The fire that destroyed the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, eradicating in a single night the traces of two thousand years of proto-civilizations in South America and of the 200-year history of modern Brazil, is the best argument one can think of for not returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece.

Not because the frescoes would be in peril if they were reattached to the Parthenon, or carefully curated in a special climate-controlled building with mood lighting for tourists (it’s doubtful if Greece could afford one of those now) but because of what they represent: the diffusion of many cultures throughout the world.

Because their return to Athens would be perhaps the greatest of all possible symbolic acts at a time when rising small nations the world over are demanding their stuff back; and we mustn’t give in to them! (Except of course for the desecrated remains of slaughtered “native” humans, their retention is a shameful obscenity. Stuffed primates are bad enough.)

The fire is being likened by the woe-cryers to the loss of the Library at Alexandria, or rather Libraries – there were two, parts of the, also lost, great Museum – in which vast collections of works from classical antiquity lovingly preserved by the Ptolemies from Alexander’s time perished: the first in 48 BC after Julius Caesar set fire to the city during his romantic intervention in the Egyptian civil war, the second in 391 AD in a fire started by a zealous mob rioting in support of the Christian emperor Theodosius, who had decreed that all symbols of paganism should be destroyed.

So it is to carnal desire and religion that we owe our habit of insouciance as regards our common culture, what else? (I recommend the account on the website of Encyclopedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Library-of-Alexandria)

“Carnal desire and religion…” tribal totems presumed lost. (Riotimesonline.com)

It seems to be a moral imperative, especially among tyrants, to concentrate the symbols of the culture they rule over in “The Greatest” this-or-that ever seen. The Alexandrian libraries may have contained over a quarter of a million texts: only copies and some few original fragments remain of works by the great Greek philosophers and playwrights; and those, only because they were probably compulsorily “borrowed” by Strabo and other Roman colonialists and taken back to the Imperial City, where many would subsequently have been lost in Nero’s fire, or the Sack of Rome.

Just think what the Testaments might reveal to scholars nowadays, had more original Biblical texts as well as those in the Greek survived. The histories of the Persian, Greek and Roman empires, too, might look somewhat different in more detail. And we should have more great comedies to revive at the National.

But there is an equal desire among the rulers to erase the past.

Numerous more recent acts of cultural iconoclasm have accompanied the reigns of, for instance (my spelling corrector just interpreted that as”insane”!), Henry V111, in his “dissolution of the monasteries”, the pillaging of the vastly wealthy old religious establishment of England; Oliver Cromwell, the revolutionary Puritan “Protector” who disapproved of all forms of religious iconography and symbolism; Robespierre and the Paris mob; Joseph Stalin, ditto, and the rapacious C19th looters of Egyptian grave goods.

Flashing forward to the present, we have had to stand by and witness the brutal iconoclasm of modern barbarians: the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, al-Shabaab at Timbuktoo, the Cultural Revolutionaries of Chairman Mao – the US Army, that turned the ruins of Babylon into a lorry park – whose political credos embraced the absolute eradication of evidence of all previous dynasties in a fanatical desire to rebuild societies in their own image.

That, and to make a bit of cash selling stuff on the global black market for antiquities, with which to buy arms – and to line the pockets of the intellectual hypocrites proclaiming themselves the new leaders.

If Truth is indeed the first casualty of war, in that overused metaphor, then Culture is possibly the second. “When I hear the word culture”, grumbled Goering, “I reach for my Luger”. (In fact he was quite a cultured man. He just knew, like Mr Steve Bannon, that the fundamentals of Nazism required a return to a more heroic age.)

The safest way to preserve the physical history of world nature and human development, the collections and the expert curators’ poorly paid jobs, is surely thus not to concentrate them in one place, to hoard them in the name of protecting and projecting some vain sense of superior nationhood, but to spread them around the country and the planet for the edification of all.

By all accounts, the government of Brazil is guilty of failing catastrophically to maintain the cultural heritage of the nation. The fire precautions in that sprawling colonial palace were “about to be updated”, but consisted for the time being of some smoke detectors and hand-extinguishers. The building was not even insured. Staff rushed to save what they could, as the collections were their livelihood, but were beaten back. A few items may have survived: the 12-thousand year-old skull of a native girl; some curious pieces of dinosaur, an interesting meteorite…. The collection sounds provincial, but it also contained hundreds of recordings of the unique languages of tribespeople now gone extinct, and other invaluable cultural DNA; including many works from the European classical period, presumably lost forever.

Unless, that is, we can find a trove of South Americana, collections of pre-Columbian art and artifacts, precious photographs, contemporary paintings, explorers’ accounts and recordings of vanishing tribes, squirrelled away in the bowels of the British Museum and other major centres throughout Europe and the USA; especially in Portugal, the colonial power in Brazil, from where vast quantities of treasure were extracted; from which something might be rebuilt?

(Oh dear. The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, which caused 30 thousand casualties, a huge tsunami and subsequent fires might have done for much of the colonial spoils collected in the latter. But the policy of the British government preparing for the Blitz was to disperse the great collections around the country, in mines and caves, and thus they largely survived WW2.)

You see, you cannot discount natural disasters as well as the sweep of history, when you want to preserve your heritage and the curiosities of the bygone world around you. You imagine these great buildings housing the heavily edited detritus of your civilization and the records of human progress to be invulnerable, inviolate, durable; a focus for heartfelt patriotism, their demise is unthinkable and so too often unthought of, when funds are scarce. (It appears the curators of the Rio museum were having to crowdfund the wages of the cleaners.)

No, the safest and, incidentally, the most useful way to secure your local cultural heritage is to ensure it is as widely dispersed as possible. We’ve done it with human DNA, a pocess that ought to be a lesson to the hoarders of artifacts. Put it about a bit!

Modern technologies can be useful; recordings, photographs, “virtual reality” tours, digital transcriptions posted on the worldwide web can give the flavor – remembering these too are vulnerable to fire and flood, tectonic political upheavals, technological superannuation and “Carrington” events – and are indeed being more widely used in archaeology, especially in the attempt to restore what the IS baboons have left of Palmyra from extensive survey records.

Images and transcripts are, of course, no substitutes for the real thing; but it depends on WHY you want to cling on to the past: you can argue that any evidence is equally valuable. Would it matter, would anyone notice, if the British Museum hung on to the marbles only as faithful reproductions made of powdered resin with the latest technologies, from 3D images scanned by lasers, and dumped the vexing originals in the river Thames?

They’re just chunks of carved stone. Future generations (if any. Ed.) will still know precisely what they looked like, as far as the fleeting impressions gained by circulating museum visitors and internet browsers with limited attention spans go. They will know the history, if they care to find it. Experts have studied the things until they were practically worn out with peering and pondering, learned texts and theses have been written and peer-reviewed, thousands of photographs exist – what else can anyone say about them? Do old stones really speak?

Of course, the Greeks would take a dim view: it’s the symbolic act of returning the stolen marbles that’s the important part. And it’s the symbolism of losing the great museum in Rio that seems to be the harshest wound for Brazilians (most of whom probably never even went inside). At a time of social uncertainty, corruption and gnawing austerity the people have nothing left to rally round, but a burned-out shell, open to the sky.

It’s just a pity they didn’t rally round sooner.

x

GW: A mortal blow

Japan: The strongest to hit in 25 years, 135 mph Typhoon Jebi slammed into the port of Kobe, western Japan yesterday, 4 Sep., killing “at least” 10 people and injuring many others. The toll is expected to rise. Several people were injured at Kyoto station when part of a glass ceiling collapsed. Kansai airport, a major transport hub serving Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto, was cut off and pasengers stranded when an ocean tanker was blown into its bridge to the mainland. (BBC and others)

Pile o’ chrome… cars thrown in a heap by Typhoon Jebi, Kobe, Japan 04 Sept. (BBC)

Tuesday 4 Sep: “Evacuation advisories were issued for 1.19 million people, along with a stronger but non-mandatory  evacuation order for a further 16,000, as the wind and rain began to intensify on Tuesday afternoon.” More than 700 domestic and international flights were cancelled, along with scores of ferry and train services. Rainfall totals reported 500mm or more. (Guardian and others)

USA: 70 mph Tropical Storm Gordon is pouring rain on the Gulf Coast region Wednesday after it made landfall Tuesday night west of the Alabama-Mississippi border, killing a child in the Florida Panhandle, the National Hurricane Center said.

“The child died when a tree fell on top of a mobile home in Pensacola as Gordon whipped the region with tropical storm-force winds and heavy downpours, a spokeswoman with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said.” 4 to 6 inches of rain are expected as Gordon dissipates and moves up into the already rainsoaked midwest and as far east as Pennsylvania, with more risk of flooding. (CNN)
India: Flooding and landslides have been reported in the remote mountain state of Nagaland, on the border with Myanmar, since late July. “At least 11 people have died”. (Floodlist)

Atlantic: Tropical Storm Florence is still evolving along a very uncertain track that could possibly bring it close to Bermuda by Monday 10 Sep. with a US East Coast landfall later in the week. Forming out of Africa and now near the Cape Verde islands, “Invest 92L” has better possibilities for development as a Caribbean hurricane, to be called Helene. “Invest 93L” (“Isaac”?) is just now crossing the West African coast.

Pacific: Two named hurricanes in the western Pacific, Norman and Olivia are both expected to give Hawaii a reprieve, passing “well to the northeast”.

Arctic: Two major cyclones are affecting the region at present. Bigger waves and warm air/rain will breakup more of the ice.

 

(Image: Telegraph.com)

GW Color Supplement: Skating on Thin Ice…

This year’s extended heatwave around the planet has at least led to the news media finally beginning to “join the dots” of global warming and its destabilizing effect on the world’s weather and agriculture; albeit in the usual sensationalist and short-lived way.

Journalists and politicians and scientists reporting from their own limited silos of study, or vaguely promising “action on climate change”, are continuing to hold out warnings of disasters to come “by 2100”, or “by 2050”, seemingly without there being any realization that such dates far in the future are of purely academic interest.

There is unlikely to be any residual human civilization by 2050 capable of thinking much about “electric cars” or “renewables” or “carbon transfer taxes” or “Paris targets”, as our children struggle against the odds to keep the race alive.

To give you a flavor of what real climate scientists are saying, the following (with full acknowledgment) is a heavily edited summary of a report posted 24 Aug on the website of Arctic News.

This is a reliable source compiling from field research and satellite data a (roughly) monthly update by a group of polar experts and distinguished external contributors, calling themselves “Sam Carana”.

(It is still not safe for climate scientists to risk their grants and tenure by making the direst predictions public, whatever the known facts may be.)

The full report should be accessed on http://www.arctic-news.blogspot.com/

“North of Greenland and around Ellesmere Island is where for thousands of years (Arctic) sea ice has been the thickest, in many places remaining thicker than 5 meters (16.4 ft) throughout the year. The loss of this sea ice indicates that the buffer is gone. (NASA images are adduced in evidence: the area is all blue water.)

“As long as there is sea ice in the water, it will keep absorbing heat, so the temperature doesn’t rise above 0C at the sea surface. Once the buffer is gone, further energy that enters the Arctic Ocean will go into heating up the water. Numerous feedbacks are associated with sea ice loss.

“As warming continues, heat will reach methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, causing them to release methane. (And) for the first time in human history, mean global methane levels as high as 1900 ppb have been recorded*. Adding up all warming elements associated with disappearance of the sea ice could result in additional global warming many times as much as the current global warming, in a few years time.”

And from an earlier post:

“The sea surface near Svalbard (most northerly habitation) was 22°C or 69.2°F on August 13, 2018, 16.4°C or 29.5°F warmer than 1981-2011. On August 6, 2018, mean global methane levels were as high as 1896 ppb. On August 8, 2018, they were as high as 1898 ppb. Importantly, peak levels on the afternoon of August 6, 2018, were as high as 3046 ppb.”

As can be seen, atmospheric methane increased globally from 1896 to 1901 parts-per-billion in under three weeks this August, with further potential for almost doubling. Depending on its duration in the atmosphere, methane is 100 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2, to which it decays.

Methane produces more heat, but heat (in various ways) produces more methane…. that’s the feedback loop they’re most worried about. The increase in range, intensity and frequency of forest fires is another case in point; as is the increasing intensity of rainfall, where it occurs, and the energy of storms.

In addition, “Sam Carana” has been arguing for a couple of years that the Paris target of 1.5C degrees of warming is not only unrealistic – it is also long out of date. The International Panel on Climate Change has never used a fixed start date for the 0.89C of warming they keep claiming is the maximum so far. Even that, says “Sam”, is more warming than the planet has experienced at any time during the 200 thousand years of modern Man’s existence.

Applying a 1750 start date (as the decade when Britain began burning ever-greater quantities of coal to produce steam for industry and transportation), they argue, cumulative warming is already up to 1.85C. Plus, by taking measurements at 2 meters above land rather than at the sea surface, as the IPCC does, we arrive at something in excess of 2.3C, already 0.3C above the “maximum” ever-allowable change set in Paris.

And, “Sam” points out, that’s the day/night, summer/winter, equatorial/polar “average” over the whole globe – the mean temperature of the planet. But it’s not the modest-seeming increase of a degree in mean temperature that’s the immediate threat: it’s the extremes of heat and cold that kill people, animals and plants.

Looking at the average rise in summer temperatures taken only at the hottest times of the day, we’re up to something more like 4 degrees in many parts of the world, which, other scientists concur, with the amount of future warming already built-in, threatens a runaway effect within a matter of years rather than decades, leading to a civilizational and ecological collapse that will not realistically be survivable.

(The use of a “wet-bulb” index to measure more precisely, the effects of heat on the individual, indicates that prolonged exposure to temperatures in excess of 35C and high humidity, normally survivable for short periods and where shade and water are available, greatly increase the risk of death from heatstroke.)

Already in many cities around the world, peak summer temperatures are approaching 50C, with little relief at night.

Don’t say we weren’t warned.

 

*Postscriptum: the European Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS) satellite images are showing massive quantities of methane pouring out of the Arctic circle, especially over Scandinavia up into Siberia – but also down into China and the Himalayas. Hotspots are appearing in the Arctic ocean too, including off Novaya Zemlya in the shallow Eastern Siberian Sea. Total air-column concentrations locally are up in the mid-2000s ppb. Conspiracy theorists are pointing to days on which data appear to be missing from both CAMS and NOAA websites and a curious switch between two entirely different color-coded scales charting the levels of concentration.

Unfortunately I’ve been warned off commenting on Margo’s Healing Corner website where this story is credibly available as she goes off on a religious rant threatening unbelievers with being blocked if we dare to write anything bad about her friend Jesus.

I wasn’t going to, but we have the same problem with the Blessed Mary Greeley, that her basic knowledge of geology provides a credible enough narrative for the Yellowstone story but all else is ill-informed New Age gibberish…. It’s a shame more informed, secular sources don’t appear to exist for those of us who wish to follow the global warming story in this sort of detail but don’t have the scientific chops for learned papers and can’t stand Prof. Paul Beckwith’s increasingly deranged videos in which he slowly reads out other people’s research papers at tedious length.

My personal view is magical thinking is not going to save us, either in this life or the next. But I suppose people need to grab on to something.

 

The mystery of the missing CO2

Global CO2 is measured officially by the NOAA at the Mauna Loa observatory on Hawaii’s Big Island, at an altitude of 4,900 meters.

On 11 March, 2018 the concentration was approaching 413 parts-per-million, as against an estimate of 285 ppm in the pre-industrial era. 120 years ago, the Swedish chemist, Svante Arrhenius calculated very accurately that a doubling of the pre-industrial level would result in 4C to 5C degrees of global warming. We are rapidly getting there.

Or are we?

It seems the concentration of CO2 on 02 September was only 405 ppm, a drop of 7 ppm. We assume there is some seasonal fluctuation to account for it, but it still seems a weird result, given the somewhat trying conditions under which the measurements must have been taken.

Mauna Loa is the world’s largest active volcano. Racked by earth tremors this year, it looms just a few miles to the north of Mt Kilueia, that has been erupting violently for months as its magma chamber has emptied out via old lava tubes into people’s back gardens 25 miles away, its collapsing caldera belching out a combination of gases including CO2 and sulphur dioxide. Would that not affect readings a few miles to the north?

Meanwhile, thousands of barely controllable CO2-emitting wildfires have been blazing since April across vast areas of the world: in the SW Australian winter and the Siberian spring; across Central Africa and South America; in Mongolia; all across the west of the USA – a record season on the coast – and up into British Columbia, where more than 500 fires are still burning; all through Scandinavia and up beyond the Arctic circle; in Germany and Greece, Portugal and Israel; even outside rainy Manchester, England, afflicted for three months by a pan-European heatwave – the second in two years, remember Lucifer? – and crop-killing drought.

Where has all that extra CO2 gone to?

We should be told.

 

Beating poisons into ploughshares

A report in the current issue of Private Eye magazine by “Muckspreader” looks at the recent decision by a US court to fine Monsanto heavily for not publicizing research linking their ubiquitous Roundup weedkiller product with cancer.

Without glyphosate, were it to be banned, UK farmers will have to radically alter their methods, says the author – him/her anonymous self a farmer. Farmers are heavily reliant on the chemical to kill off the rhizomes of couch grass and other perennial weeds, clearing the land for planting – and to “harden” cereal crops by, effectively, stopping their growth all at the same time so as to make harvesting more efficient (that’s all going into you and me, by the way. Yummy.)

A ban on glyphosate would mean going back to ploughing the land, which sounds somehow comforting and Green.

What the story doesn’t mention is that ploughing releases massive quantities of carbon stored in the soil back to the atmosphere, in the form of CO2 and methane; and is thus better avoided.

Oh dear. Months of horrible chemotherapy, or join up with a roving band looting supermarkets for scraps of food in 60 degrees of summer heat?

Our choice.

Yellowstone news: The Blessed Mary Greeley reports that the Steamboat, the park’s largest geyser, has just erupted for the 16th time so far this year. The previous most active season ever recorded was 2003, when it went off just 3 times in the whole year. Park scientific director, Michael Poland reassures her, it’s perfectly normal for geysers to erupt.

The BogPo: List Management for Dummies… Songs of Praise: #1 the BBC, Amen. #2 The Madman in the White House… GW: warming her butt on the kitchen stove…

He’s got ’em on the list
he’s got ’em on the list;
And they’ll none of ’em be missed
they’ll none of ’em be missed. (G&S, The Mikado)

List Management for Dummies

The US’s Dark Ambassadress, Nikki Haley, threatens UN Security Council members who voted 14-1 against Trumpy-Poo’s insistence on moving the Israeli capital to Jerusalem, that: ‘The US will be taking names’, and ‘The President takes this very personally’.

What is this, the US a mafia state? Or first-grade primary? In a speech, Trump hits out:

“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” he said. “Well, we’re watching those votes,” he added. “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Is there perhaps a certain hypocrisy here, or merely forgetfulness? January 2017: “The Trump administration has drafted an executive order that would cut U.S. payments to the United Nations by as much as 40 per cent.” (Politifact.com). Any reason to love the evil empire?

US subscriptions agreed and owed to the UN for peacekeeping operations were around $2 billion underfunded last year (UN Tribune). For balance, the Cato Institute argues that the US has no financial obligations to the UN. Oh, right, the Cato Institute – funded to the tune of $13.9 million annually by Koch Industries. That now stands to benefit from billions of dollars in tax cuts. Fair exchange is no robbery, someone once said.

Subsequent threats against several countries to cut off aid unless they agree to operate in America’s interests appear to confirm: Trump doesn’t need a State Department, he has a simpler foreign policy solution: just stop their pocket money.

Pay up, Trump. Then lock him up.

 

 

“Our institutions are increasingly in the anti-democratic grip of rabid fundamentalists of all kinds, from radical Imams to Trumpian fascists to power-hungry Brexiters.”

Songs of Praise: #1 The BBC, Amen

… (more) religious themes in the broadcaster’s popular dramas and soaps on both TV and radio, more documentaries covering religious and ethical issues being commissioned and for popular programmes such as The One Show to celebrate Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Jewish holy days. The BBC newsroom’s global religious affairs team will be expanded and the Thought for the Day slot on Radio 4 will be more closely linked to news items with women and young people. Figures from a wider range of religions will be invited to contribute. – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42412869

This is awful. Repulsive. Disgusting. Unconstitutional: a victory for the forces of superstition and childish, lying, pernicious nonsense. Editorializing of the worst kind, certainly in breach of the Charter; for how can whoever has issued this tendentious edict justify ordering programme editors to slant their content towards special interest pressure groups? This is the Talibanization of public discourse.

At the same time, the hard, grownup, factual departments – news and current affairs – are being slashed back. The newly appointed Head of News, Fran Unsworth, will be expected to hack £80 million out of her budget in her first year. Why? Because any teenage baboon armed with a Facebook account is now a respected gatherer of ‘news’ and an informed interpreter of world events. Why? Because it is not in the interests of our politicians to let facts get in the way of ambition.

Thus there is to be unlimited funding, it appears, for religious dogma and maundering, soppy bullshit sing-song programming. Who would have thought Philip Pullman’s fictional world of the Magisterium would come to pass, and so soon?

Mention any supposedly contentious issue – climate change springs to mind – and the BBC self-obliges to put an immediate contrarian opinion on, in the holy name of ‘balance’. Some well-rewarded and totally unqualified corporate-energy shill like ‘Lord’ Nigel Lawson or that reptilian PR hack, the Washington swamp-dweller Myron Ebell, will be disinterred, dripping with soil and maggots, swimming in oil, to refute scientifically determined observations with bogus armchair arguments long discredited as lies put about and funded by the Koch Brothers, Hamm Industries or Exxon-Mobil to protect their shareholders’ interests.

But the BBC will shrug and say, well, it’s still a matter of opinion, the jury is still out, our sacred Charter obliges us to tell comforting lies as well as paper over uncomfortable truths.

Put someone on burbling vacuously about witnessing the daily miracle of an imaginary avatar in our lives, however; an immutable archetype of improbable divine origin, zero historical veracity, endless secular usefulness and positively miraculous expiration; an invisible 2,000-year-old friend who can raise the dead, walk on water, cure cancer, feed five thousand people on one sardine sandwich, give us all sound dietary advice and fly up to heaven on a horse from the roof of a mosque;

…expounding some totally hideous, barbaric philosophy of bloody repression, a demand for total conformity to the will of mere men inspired by two thousand years of patriarchal dominance, ignorance and ideological fervour derived from a literal interpretation of an anthology of collected short stories and boring genealogical data supposedly written and revealed uniquely to a bunch of illiterate, semi-savage tribals by the imaginary ‘Creator’ of a universe of compressed dust, responsible in every minute detail for the fate of a septillion star systems;

…and we’re all now expected to take the knee, nod sagely and say, yep, that’s how it is, so let it be, praise God in the highest – amen.

Equal airtime for fundamentalist death-cult worshippers?

How long will it be before the BBC is obliged to give equal time to Creationists, to credulous village baboons who say God has told them to ban music and dancing, to stone women and rape children – to the insane “Christian” death-cult fanatics offering redemption only to their donors in a putative future life?

In matters of faith, the question of balance does not seemingly arise. Our institutions are increasingly in the anti-democratic grip of rabid fundamentalists of all kinds, from radical Imams to Trumpian fascists, to snowflake students demanding rewrites of history, to power-hungry Brexiters waving their little blue, second-class passports. The worry is that an upsurge in this slippery religious nonsense is only going to play into the political agenda of some really very nasty billioneire disruptors, rich white “Christian” men already exploiting widespread naivety, fear and confusion to divide us and rule.

Matters of belief, it appears, are once again taking precedence over well-established, empirical authority based on tried-and-trusted methods of investigation, reason and logic. A new medievalism has come to reign. We are moving into the virtual age increasingly divorced from reality, each cushioned in our own little corporate-funded cocoon, permanently plugged-in to our little electronic votaries, immersed in our choice of dreamworld, ‘identifying’ as this or that fantasy hybrid human who exists only in our heads and demanding of unconditional respect for our personal ‘choices’.

It’s infantilism gone mad.

A sad loss, but wouldn’t it be great to be able to resurrect the late Christopher Hitchens and put him on automatically for three minutes after every holier-than-thou religious boo-bag has been outgassing on the Today programme, or – God help us – The One Show, already the very definition of vacuous, time-filling trivia, peddling their noxious, irrational beliefs, to offer his characteristically robust and detailed refutation of their childish nostrums.

Maybe a bit of balance wouldn’t go amiss in the Department of Religious Affairs?

Or maybe it could be pointed out to the God-botherers in their resurgent triumph, that religion is merely the cheapest form of programming at a time of financial austerity for the national broadcaster?

 

“…the madman sat once more, his sternest Mussolini face on, arms stoically folded as, one by one, those disgusting minions crawled to slather him with vile and empty words of praise and adulation…”

Songs of Praise: #2 the Madman in the White House

Just as Trump was blurting out in a meeting at the White House an admission that he lied bigly to the American people about his tax ‘reform’ bill, lying about it being a boost for the economy, a great Christmas present for the middle-class and moaning that it would personally cost him a fortune (which is it, Trump, do you pay tax or are you “too smart” to?), there’s been another of those bizarre, inexplicable sessions at which his grovelling, assfucked cabinet of all the millionaires have lavished insane praise on the Orange Emperor for his many triumphs and thanked their god for the blessings of his Great Leadership.

Furthermore, Trump let slip an astonishing admission, that he knew the tax bill contains clauses that effectively shred public healthcare, but had told Republicans to lie about it:

“Apparently eager to argue that this constituted his having cut taxes and slain Obamacare in one fell swoop (after Congress came up short on Obamacare this year), he argued that repealing the individual mandate was basically the same as repealing Obamacare. But, he said, he told Republicans not to talk about that. Trump said he told allies to “be quiet with the fake news media because I don’t want them talking too much about it. … Now that it’s approved, I can say that,” he said.” – Washington Post, 20 Dec.

In other words, the madman didn’t want the ‘fake news media’ telling the truth about his lies. Oh well.

Overall, the bill has met with solid public disapproval. Yet 60 per cent of Republican voters still believe the lies he and others told to get it passed, that it was purely for their benefit, when in reality it busts the national debt by a further $1.4 trillion, and amounts over 10 years to a giveaway to the richest 1 per cent of individuals and corporations of some $4 trillion, while freeing Congress to INCREASE taxes on the middle-income family over time, and insurers to TREBLE their healthcare premiums. Clauses inserted without debate at the last minute provide further tax breaks especially for property developers, that will benefit the Trump crime family specifically by at least half a billion dollars.

The lie that this misuse of public finances will trickle down in the form of jobs and wage increases is given by several surveys of corporate executives who have confirmed that they have no intention of using the windfall to hire more Americans or raise wages, but will continue to offshore their profits and pay bigger dividends to shareholders.

Passing this hamfisted piece of largely secretive and undebated legislation was an act of theft, pure and simple, by a Republican Congress preparing to take to the lifeboats.

Yet Trump is still claiming it as a triumph for the American way of life. Do you think maybe he really believes it?

“Oops, I lied again. My Bad!”

It is in fact the one and only substantial piece of legislation that has been passed under his Presidency – he didn’t write the bill, he knows next-to nothing about the technical aspects of the tax structure in America – since he took office on 20 January.

Writing in the Washington Post, Aaron Blake summarises in bullet point form, the astonishing address Vice-President Pence gave at the cabinet meeting after the Senate passed the bill. I’ll give you just a flavour of what he said, and you can ask yourself the question, is America now a democracy, or a fledgling dictatorship?:

“Mr President…

  • “You’ve restored American credibility on the world stage.”
  • “You’ve signed more bills rolling back federal red tape than any president in American history.”
  • “You’ve spurred an optimism in this country that’s setting records.” (In fact his approval rating is down to 32%. A record!)
  • “You promised the American people a year ago that you would deliver historic tax cuts, and it would be a ‘middle-class miracle.’ And in just a short period of time, that promise will be fulfilled.”
  • “I’m deeply humbled, as your vice president, to be able to be here.”

“Pence offered plaudit after plaudit after plaudit, praising Trump’s vision, his words, his strategy and his results in light of the passage of tax cuts. By the end, Pence offered 14 separate commendations for Trump in less than three minutes — math that works out to one every 12.5 seconds. And each bit of praise was addressed directly to Trump, who was seated directly across the table.” – Washington Post, 20 Dec.

As if that did not satisfy the monstrous ego of the madman, The New Yorker reported this from the father of the House:

“Orrin Hatch, of Utah, who has been in the Senate for forty years, predicted that the Trump Presidency will be ‘the greatest Presidency we have seen not only in generations but maybe ever.'”

Any American reading a report of this terrifying meeting at which the madman sat once more, his sternest Mussolini face on, arms stoically folded as, one by one, those disgusting minions crawled out to slather him with vile and empty words of praise and adulation, ought to throw up in their Cheerios.

When will someone have the guts to tell him to his face that he’s mentally ill and in urgent need of psychiatric evaluation, and must stand down for the good of the country?

Heil Trump. Hail Caesar.

x

A Merry Christmas, Mr Trump, from all the victims of climate-change-related extreme weather events, and best wishes for 2018.

GW: warming her butt on the kitchen stove, your old gran peers myopically back at 2017

At this time of year it’s customary to look back on the main events of the year – despite the lack of a warming El Niño, the second hottest on record (after last year). So your Granny Weatherwax makes no apology for reprinting the following Post from 02 August, 2017, itemising world weather events from just one week at the end of July.

It seems to sum up a year of floods, fires, droughts and violent storms that have made life a misery for so many people, not just for the first year – 2016 was if anything WORSE – and look set to continue in 2018, while – unique among nations – the lame-brained, lying ‘President’ continues to pour scorn on the notion that anything might be wrong, in case it affects the already vast profits of his donors in the energy sector.

For now, though, I’ll just mention a couple of current things: (A summary of Trump’s achievements on this front will be Posted early in the New Year.)

Philippines: “230 people are reported to have been killed (22 Dec.) as (another) tropical storm swept through the southern Philippines, with dozens more missing. Storm Tembin brought flash flooding and mudslides to parts of Mindanao island. Two towns badly hit were Tubod and Piagapo, where a number of homes were buried by boulders.” The toll from last week’s TS Kai-Tak (Urduja) in the Visayas region of Biliran is 31, with 49 missing.

Australia: heatwave in SE Australia around the capital, Canberra, hits 46C (115 F). In Melbourne, Victoria state on the 19th, a powerful storm caused a sudden 12C drop in temperature, with giant hailstones, cyclonic winds, etc. In Esteio, Brazil, a sudden violent storm erupts, trashing a rock festival. The DJ was killed. Malaysia, 1 person is killed when their car is swept away in flooding in Sarawak, after 170 mm of rain (TS Kai-Tak) falls in 24 hours. Chile: 5 dead, 13 missing after torrential rain causes landslides and flash flooding (15 Dec.) in Villa Santa Lucia.

USA: “The Thomas Fire became California’s largest officially recorded fire on Dec. 22, 2017, when it surpassed the 273,000-plus acre Cedar Fire.” It’s now 70% contained, however. The town of Erie, Pennsylvania was buried under 53 inches of snow Christmas Day, totalling over 90 inches for December – another record. The mercury in Chicago fell to minus 10F (-23C). In Ireland, two men drowned on Christmas Day when their 4×4 was swept away in a flash-flood during a storm.

Climate & Extreme Weather News #87/ BBC News/ Ventura County News

This is not the sea, or a Hokusai painting, it’s a river in China, in 2017. (Photo: The Guardian)

“The Great Flood of Gun-Yu (traditional Chinese: 鯀禹治水), also known as the Gun-Yu myth, was a major flood event in ancient China that allegedly continued for at least two generations, which resulted in great population displacements among other disasters, such as storms and famine. People left their homes to live on the high hills and mountains, or nest in the trees.” – Wikipedia

Granny Weatherwax: Not heatwaving, but drowning

So, where to begin this report of the latest extreme weather conditions across the world (see previous episodes)? These reports I’ve been able to source cover just the week 30 July – 4 Aug*.

Japan: Typhoon Noru is expected to make landfall on Saturday, 5 Aug. in Kyushu island. Windspeeds estimated at 133 mph, wave heights at 16m (53 ft), up to a foot of rain forecast. South Korea also on alert for Noru’s plotted trajectory in the coming days.

Taiwan: Typhoon Nesat dumps 60 cm of rain overnight, 30 July. Flooding causes 10 thousand people to be evacuated, 130 injured. That was Saturday, on Monday Typhoon Haitang brought 100-mph winds and flooding to the north of the country. Half a million people were without electricity.

Myanmar (Burma): “Four western regions have been declared disaster zones after heavy floods, caused by monsoon rains, left at least 27 people dead. But rescue teams have not yet reached many areas and are still awaiting reports on the worst-hit regions. In the neighbouring eastern Indian state of Manipur, a landslide buried a village, killing at least 21 people.”

Vietnam: More than 30 people dead/missing in flash flooding in Mu Cang Chai, North Vietnam.

Thailand: Flooding in the wake of Tropical Storm Sonca last week has claimed 23 lives in Sakon Nakhon and is affecting two-thirds of the country with up to 2 metres of standing water in some places.

Indonesia: Jayapura city under three feet of water.

China: Fujian, SE China, 70 thousand people evacuated in advance of Typhoon Nesat and bracing for Haitang. Another of those violent ‘freak’ hailstorms hits Sichuan, causing damage and flash flooding. Chongquing city hit by severe storm.

China: “Shanghai, the most populous municipality in the world, is in the midst of a brutal heat wave, with the region topping 100 degrees for eight consecutive days and counting.”

India: Gujarat flooding – death toll exceeds 215 as more bodies recovered from receding waters. West Bengal, “At least 48 people died this week in the western part of the country. In the desert state of Rajasthan, about 24,000 people fled to higher ground” – AP. Unknown number of casualties – min. 3 – in flash flooding in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Villages cut off.

USA: ‘Historical flood’ inundates Kansas City after 7-in of water dumped overnight, with river levels up to two feet above previous records. A ‘rare’ tornado (only the third ever recorded) causes extensive damage in Maryland, where two people were drowned in flash flooding in Ellicott City on Monday. A sudden violent storm hits Phoenix, Arizona after weeks of 100F + heat.

USA: Tropical Storm Emily suddenly appears out of the Gulf, taking forecasters by surprise, flooding parts of Florida. While from Seattle, Washington State, comes news that it hasn’t rained for 47 days – approaching the record interval between showers. Las Vegas, Nevada, records its 55th day of 100F + heat.

USA: Just south of Seattle, Portland, Oregon is basking unusually in record 42C, 108F sunshine – local readings topping 120F in parts of the city. Corona, Southern California is hit by a sudden violent storm causing damage and localized flooding.

USA: “Hot and dry conditions in the West continue to influence large fire activity. Currently 36 large fires have burned nearly 580,000 acres. More than 11,500 firefighters and support personnel are assigned to incidents across the nation.” (1 Aug )

Canada: 150 wildfires are reportedly still burning in British Columbia, affecting over a million acres. People still being evacuated. Coastal cities smoke-ridden, 35C + heatwave warnings as far north as Vancouver.

Mexico: Violent storm, flash flooding washes away cars, buildings in the city of Ocampo.

Turkey: Another of those ‘freak’ hailstorms breaks car windows, causing extensive flash flooding in Istanbul for the second time in three weeks. An airliner is forced to make an emergency landing after sustaining damage from large hailstones.

Albania: “Armed forces joined hundreds of firefighters on Friday to battle dozens of forest fires as temperatures reached 40C (102F). Albania has asked the European Union for emergency assistance to help prevent the wildfires spreading near the capital, Tirana.”

Russia: “‘By 2080 Siberia (will) become ‘the go-to place to live due to climate change. Vineyards will flourish as winters become almost 10C milder’, says new scientific prediction.” Meanwhile: “In Yamalo-Nenets officials reported 47 wildfires across 2,097 hectares after a blast of hot weather … Local governor Dmitry Kobylkin said: ‘The temperature in the region is extreme. The situation will remain the same for some time’”.

The Arctic: Arctic sea surface temperature anomalies are well above 8°C (14.4°F) in several parts of the Arctic Ocean. Global sea ice extent is at a record low for the time of the year. “There is basically NO thick ice left on the Arctic Ocean surface.” (Paul Beckwith). Sea temperature average is 2.5C, 4.4F above 1981-2010. Sea surface temperature in the Bering Strait on 22 July recorded at 19C, 62F.

Atmospheric methane is currently at 3.7 times pre-industrial level. High levels recorded at both poles.

A tourist filmed this Renault car gently melting in the 39C heat of the town of Caorle, northern Italy, in August.

Mediterranean: A heatwave with a name! Lucifer…. “A surge of hot air will lift temperatures close to or above 40°C, 104°F across popular holiday destinations in the Med through to next week. Eastern Spain, Ibiza, Majorca, Italy, southern France, Croatia and Alpine regions will roast over the next (ten) days as temperatures climb to as high as 10-15C above average.” Severe thunderstorms are forecast for the whole of Europe.

Croatia: The temperature in fire-ravaged Split hit a record 42.3C (105F) on Friday. A lethal 46C (114.8F) is the forecast for northern Italy over the weekend. The heatwave is not expected to relent before Wednesday. Mysteriously, though Croatia Week carries a heat warning there is not one mention of the wildfires that have ravaged the country over the past two weeks. Tourism must go on.

Poland, Bulgaria, Romania all sweltering at 35C +, peak demand for electricity exceeded.

Spain: 300 evacuated from wildfire covering 2,500 acres of pine forest at Castilla-la-Mancha; firefighters have been battling a large fire 30 km south of Athens, Greece.

UK: The winter of 2016 was the warmest for England and Wales in records that stretch back to 1910 (shurely we’ve had weather records since the 1700s? Ed.), the Met Office’s annual State of the UK Climate report revealed Thursday. The average temperature from December 2015 to February 2016 was more than 2C above the long-term average across the southern half of the UK.

*NB some reports were added during editing after the original publication date of 02 Aug. Sources incl.:

Climate and Extreme Weather News #49, #50/ Extremeweather.co.uk/ US National Interagency Fire Center/ New York Times/ Washington Post/ Siberia Times/ Science Daily/ the Guardian/ BBC News/ Arctic News/ Croatia Week.

Paul Beckwith at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4L41UtGH7c

Britain finally floats free from the shackles of Europe! And northern Ireland. Oh, and the Isle of Wight… (BBC Weatherwatcher)

To @Tweety-pie, terrorism is as terrorism does… Goodnight, Keith Olbermann… Fuck off, Trevor Kavanagh… Mr Trump is demented (as if we didn’t know)… GW: On the Prom with the global emergency sandwich-board.

“With Tweety-pie on our team, how can we lose?” Jim Dowson and friends hold back the Muslim hordes at the gates of Vienna. (Photo: Searchlight Magazine)

To @Tweety-pie, terrorism is as terrorism does

“Andreas Hollstein, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, was at a kebab shop in the west German town of Altena when a man asked whether he was the mayor, then shouted criticism of his asylum policies and lunged at Hollstein with a foot-long blade … Hollstein was badly wounded, but saved after the kebab shop’s owner — a man of Turkish origin — and his son overpowered the attacker.”  – Washington Post, 29 Nov.

Over to you, Herr Trump. Oh, nothing to say? Righto, carry on.

And he has…

“Donald Trump’s Twitter account has retweeted three inflammatory videos from a British far-right group. The first tweet from Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, claims to show a Muslim migrant attacking a man on crutches. This was followed by two more videos of people Ms Fransen claims to be Muslim. Britain First was founded in 2011 by former members of the far-right British National Party (BNP).” – BBC, 29 Nov.

Further proof, if proof were needed, that this man is a succubus in vaguely human form: a criminal imbecile, a proto-fascist and a danger to life. He may also have committed an offence in British law and must be refused entry or arrested at our border.

Nevertheless, to safeguard British trade with our biggest market (after the whole of Europe) and to ensure a receptive environment for more US health company carpetbaggers to come in and rob the NHS blind, Mrs May says the orange Nazi pig is still welcome to his crappy state visit.

The Brexit bunch have no shame, no decency, no perspective on history, no morals. Only greed and a lust for power.

Russia, Russia, Russia

‘Tweety-pie’ ought to be made aware that Britain First was originally the spiritual home, among others, of Scottish-born ‘millionaire’ (how? Ed.) Jim Dowson, until he left after questions were asked about his management of the organization’s funds. According to the anti-fascist Searchlight Magazine, Dowson is a self-averred Brexit ‘disruptor’ and virulent Islamophobe with an office in Hungary funded by oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, a ‘mysterious billionaire’ (HuffPo) with connections to the resurgent Russian Orthodox church, and to Putin’s ‘spiritual advisor’ Aleksandr Dugin. Dowson is also the progenitor of the fake-news, hate-news filled US Patriot News website (see Posts, passim).

“Dowson is active in Loyalist circles and helped launch the Protestant Coalition, who have links to Britain First. He is also an ex-Calvinist minister and anti-abortionist (he charmingly posts the names and addresses of clinicians) and set up a BNP call centre in Northern Ireland.” – Searchlight Magazine.

US readers might care to note that Britain is just waking up to the extent of ‘dark money’-funded ops that preceded the Brexit vote. Questions are being asked (though not answered) about the (Scottish) origin of one half-million dollar donation funneled to Leave.EU, an unofficial pressure group, via the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland – where donations are not required to be registered – into anti-European media advertising, and who paid for it.

Appealing to US supporters for money and volunteers to combat the Islamic invasion of Europe, Mr Dowson said this:

“This is not political, this is a fight between good and evil, black and white, a fight of the cross, a fight of Christ.”

And Mr Dowson has been caught on video, supplying support materièl to an armed vigilante group hunting Syrian refugees on the Bulgarian border.

This is the man whose repellent ideology Tweety-pie, the President of the United States of America is supporting with his little thumbs:

searchlightmagazine.com/2016/10/britain-first-extremist-filmed-joining-hate-filled-vigilante-group-hunting-down-asylum-seekers-in-bulgaria/

FOR GOD’S SAKE, REPUBLICAN DIMWITS, GET HIM OUT NOW!!!

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Goodnight, Keith Olbermann

In a shock announcement last night, Keith Olbermann announced his retirement from active criticism of one Donald J Trump.

Who? You may ask. I offer the following heavily redacted biography from the invaluable Wikipedia:

“Olbermann was a sports correspondent for CNN in the 1980s, winning a Best Sportscaster award three times. From 1998 to 2001 he was a producer and anchor for Fox Sports Net.

(We have to forgive him that…)

“From March 2003 to January 2011 Olbermann hosted the weeknight political commentary program Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. He received attention for his pointed criticism of right-wing politicians and public figures. He has tried to resist being labelled politically, stating, “I’m not a liberal. I’m an American.”

And this has been… The Resistance (photo: hollywoodreporter.com)

Olbermann’s four times weekly articulate and erudite anti-Trump rants on the GQ Magazine YouTube channel have been a welcome and entertaining antidote to all the nasty garbage, the flattery, the fawning, the hatred, the fake news, the distractions and diversions and the outright lies spewed by Fox News and the rest of the putrid, alt-right establishment pond-media.

Keith’s new book, Trump is F*cking Crazy, a collection of his broadcasts has been my bedside companion for a couple of weeks now, so if I may be permitted one criticism of Olbermann both as an author and broadcaster, judging by his output it is that he does have rather a mighty opinion of himself at times.

We can forgive him that too. As a former broadcaster myself, I have been awestruck by his professional technique.

Last night on the show, before announcing that his theme has run its course – that he was not being given the bum’s rush (it wouldn’t be the first time), giving up in despair, being threatened or bribed to stop, as far as anyone knows, all four could be true – but simply had nothing left to offer, he identified seven strands of Fate that are fast closing in on Herr Clusterfuck, any one of which he believes will be enough imminently to end this disastrous chapter in the short but turbulent life of American democracy.

I trust we may see Olbermann again in the not-too distant future. For if there is one thing Trump knows very well how to do, it is to slip the noose.

If, however, we don’t, then I recommend the YouTube podcasts of Mike Malloy, a more emotive and scatological commentator altogether, and a disgraceful (but poignantly truthful) old renegade perhaps more after my own heart and style of polemicising than the urbane and well-tailored Mr Olbermann.

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(Warning: the following article contains very strong language, extreme opinion, profound personal animus and probably fake news. But no nuts.)

Fuck off, Trevor Kavanagh

  1. The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) ruled Trevor Kavanagh’s column was “capable of causing serious offence” but did not breach the Editors’ Code.
  2. Mr Kavanagh said it was “acceptable to say Muslims are a specific rather than a cultural problem”.
  3. The Sun said he had already apologised.
  4. The regulator said the comment could be compared to language used at the time of the Holocaust.
  5. But a spokesman for The Sun said: “[He] didn’t realise that his words could be compared to the phrase ‘the Jewish Problem’. – BBC News

Jesus fuckin’ H Christ.

What, the ‘Editor’s Code’ sanctions articles supporting racial and religious violence? Incitement to genocide? Hate speech?

The “capability of causing serious offence” is not an infringement of the Editors’ Code?

Then what the fuck is?

God knows, I enjoy causing offence. But this?

What the hell is a “specific problem” applied to Muslims in general? Mr Kavanagh is, in the opinion of the BogPo, and has been for many years, representative of a repulsive lying bucket of putrefying dog-vomit known as the Murdoch press.

But never mind, the “senior political correspondent” of The Sun fake-newspaper, an ageing lamprey fastened to the arsehole of organized corporatist disruption, “didn’t realize” that he might have been behaving like a racist, antisemitic, Islamophobic old cunt?

(The BogPo would like to apologize to Mr Kavanagh, deeply and with maximum contrition, for any offence caused. In fact I said sorry last night while brushing my teeth in the bathroom mirror, so no need to bother again now.)

Oh no, of course anyone wouldn’t realize, who had just arrogantly dismissed 1.2 billion people as “a specific problem rather than a cultural problem”. Who the fuck does this fortunate fellow, this postcolonial “thing”, this hitman from the 4th Estate (that’s the one the Council flogged off) think he is? Donald Fucking Trump?

And the IPSO had little option but to vindicate the lying little fascist bullyboy, as – mirabile dictu – he’s on the fucking board!

Does corruption have any clearer a face than that?

Miqdaad Versi, assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the decision was “deeply disappointing, albeit not unexpected. What is truly astonishing is that regardless of the specifics of the Code, IPSO does not seem to have any concern that one of its board members used this Nazi-like phrase about Muslims.”

Though the BogPo regards all religion as a basket of deplorable superstitions, genuflections to the Invisible Man, and feels that self-identifying special interest groups are whingeing and whining a sight too much about their tragic sensitivities these days, we sympathise with Mr Versi.

The thing the comparatively well-paid Kavanagh-troll fails to understand is that his words have weight. Glib propagandistic generalizations are not journalism; they are a provocation to violence. To steal the clothes of Steve Bannon, Roy Moore and David Duke, to promote a white supremacist, post-colonial agenda in circumstances where the far-right is on the rise in Europe is naive, risky and, frankly, lazy and unprofessional.

If it is none of those things, then Mr Kavanagh is surely a traitor in search of a fascist dictator to validate his very bad-smelling excreta and he must resign his overprivileged position.

Kavanagh, fuck off. Just retire, you decrepit old whore. You and that tendentious old humbug, John Hymnphrys. Your time is over, you’ve had your quota, your world has passed you by, you understand nothing now.

Just fuck off and die, will you?

(Uncle Bogler is 68.)

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Mr Trump is demented (as if we didn’t know)

“Trump first startled reporters with talk of an invisible plane in October, when he discussed the F-35 at a military briefing in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico. “Amazing job,” Trump said then. “So amazing we are ordering hundreds of millions of dollars of new airplanes for the air force*, especially the F-35. You like the F-35? … You can’t see it. You literally can’t see it. It’s hard to fight a plane you can’t see.” – Guardian

To see this image literally, you will need a special pair of orange-tinted glasses. (jetairlinezz. blogspot)

He was particularly excited about the Lockheed-Martin F-35 fighter; an aircraft he believes is “invisible” and therefore hard to find, I should imagine.

It isn’t. Look! (Luckily none have been assigned to coastguard duty, otherwise distressed mariners might have trouble noticing they were being rescued.)

It nearly was invisible, because its development has been so afflicted with problems – for instance, test pilots were blacking-out when the oxygen failed, and the plane had a distressing tendency to stall in a climb – that the project risked cancellation. The breathing problem still hasn’t been solved:

“A team of engineers, test pilots, medics and others experts are ‘digging into this problem 24 hours a day,’ to try to identify the cause, an Air Force spokesman said. ‘It could be lack of oxygen. It could be too much oxygen, too much carbon dioxide.’ ” – Mail Online

Not that there could ever be too much carbon dioxide for Trump, who has evolved gills.

Pound for pound, it’s also about the most expensive military project in history, after the invasion of Iraq. But Mr Trump was prepared for that, too – informing the bewildered hardy seafarers in his customarily boastful and self-congratulatory fashion that he had managed to negotiate a deal with his buddies at Lockheed to cut the price, which no other President in history would have been willing or able to do, especially his favourite genocide, Gen. Andrew H Jackson; killer of many Pocahontases.

He hasn’t. Not according to military sources.

But just in case anyone thought the military was spending too much on the F-35, Mr Trump then divagated into the subject of the rest of his wonderful weaponry and how he has INCREASED spending to $700 billion, making it the greatest military in the world.

He lives in a fantasy world, a Wonderland of his own imagining, in which a heroic individual called Trump is at the centre of everything, a General controlling fast-moving, complicated events with skill and wisdom.

He isn’t.

He is completely fucking demented.

And now he is once again returning to the theme of That Tape, the Hollywood Access ‘pussy-grabber’, claiming it was all faked-up by CNN or whoever – although he admitted its authenticity only a few months ago, saying it was just ‘locker room’ bantz. Now in his diseased mind, it was a fake after all. He wasn’t there, whoever he was.

He is clearly rattled that his stout defence of the cretinous Republican candidate to replace Jeff Sessions in Alabama, ‘Judge’ Roy Moore, against whom the accusations of molestation of underage girls have been stacking up, has blown up in his face as the even-more women Trump has allegedly assaulted over the years have become emboldened against his efforts to silence them.

He really has no barriers, does he? He just doesn’t know when to keep his stupid trap shut.

Get him out!

*To date, Congress has voted less than 10% of the money needed to restore vital services to the 3.5 million stricken Americans in the hurricane-ravaged US territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands; but $54 billion more to the military, whose already obscenely bloated budget the compulsive liar Trump yet again has falsely claimed was being eroded by his predecessor.

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“For some time, it has been warmer than the 1.5°C guardrail that the Paris Agreement promised should not be crossed.”

GW. On the Prom with the global emergency sandwich-board and a soggy packet of chips

Bit by bit we are being washed away… Jamaica last week. (Daily Mail)

Caribbean: Four hours of torrential rain – a ‘month’s worth’ for November – creates impressive flash flood in coastal resort of Montego Bay, Jamaica. overwhelming drainage defences.

Indonesia: Sidoharjo, East Java trashed by slow-moving tornadoes. Idiots shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ stand out in the street gawking and videoing and are pelted with debris as trees, roofs, scaffolding and anything not nailed down fly off… 35 hospitalized, whole buildings destroyed. City then battered by heavy rain, 380mm falling in 24 hours.

“7 deaths were reported when a landslide struck in Klesem village in the Kebonagung Sub-district of Pacitan Regency. 2 further fatalities occurred in a separate landslide in Sidomulyo village,  also in the Pacitan district in East Java. 2 other victims reportedly drowned in flood water in the same area where rivers have overflowed.”

Thailand: Phetchaburi river overflows after heavy rain, floods – city under 3ft of water. Hundreds evacuated. 2 more die in renewed flooding in Vietnam as Tropical Depression Kirogi crosses the country.

New Zealand: “a slow moving storm that began around 15:00 on Sunday 26 November caused flash flooding in the small town of Roxburgh in the Central Otago District. Local media said 42.2 mm of rain fell in just a few hours.”

Australia: there’s concern for electricity supplies as an unprecedented November heatwave over Melbourne continues into its second week and air conditioner sales boom. Records were broken too in Hobart, Tasmania, where a peak of 31.5C last Friday (24 Nov) was 13 deg. C. above average for the time of year.

USA: record November temperatures ‘from the west coast to the plains’ are running 15 to 20 deg. C. above normal as strong winds, more cold and snow affect more northerly and eastern states; SW states continue to be plagued by tornadoes. Anaheim, Ca. recorded a temperature of 100F on 22 Nov. “According to climatologist Guy Walton: November will be the 36th month in a row where U.S. daily record highs outnumbered record lows.”

UK: After a run of unusually warm winters, this year’s La Niña, a weak jetstream and colder air displaced from the Arctic have brought endless rain, gales and temperatures now falling into low single-figures (and forecast to continue downward in places to -10C (14F) to much of the British Isles, with night frost and disruptive snow in the north. Nevertheless as GW reported a few months back, average winter temperature in the UK has increased by 2 deg. C. since 1981.

Two rivers burst their banks at Mountmellick, Ireland, flooding homes. Elderly residents couldn’t recall anything like it in their lifetime.

World: “Warming is accelerating. For some time, it has been warmer than the 1.5°C guardrail that the Paris Agreement promised should not be crossed. This conclusion follows from analysis of NASA land+ocean data 1880-October 2017, adjusted by 0.59°C to cater for the rise from preindustrial and with a trend added that also indicates that the global temperature looks set to cross the 2°C guardrail soon, with 2021 falling within the margins of the trend line.

This, warns Arctic News, does not take account of sub-surface ocean warming (93% of total warming has gone into the seas) and feedbacks that might speed up the process.

Arctic: From 1981 until 2011, averaged over the year ocean temperature off Svalbard island remained stable – even showing a slight cooling trend. Measurements this year (2017) however show that the Arctic ocean has warmed at the surface during this two-month early winter period since 2011 by an average of 13.9 deg. C. The blue line on the graph shows 1981 to 2011 (30-year) average sea surface temperature in Oct/Nov. The red line plots daily temperatures during Oct/Nov this year. (Graph: Arctic News/Sam Carana)

 

 

 

 

Arctic News/ Floodlist/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #83/ Wunderground

Where will the billionaires go? (Maybe Bilbao? Whoops, BA!)

“Lo, there shall come unto you an Orange One bearing shafts of fire, and the poor shall be royally shat upon.”

“…unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance”

But it says so in the bible…

There are numerous internal contradictions in the bible, as we know. One of the strangest is in the ‘parable of the talents’ (a talent was a coin, not the ‘X-factor’).

Jesus, we are supposed to believe, was all in favour of poor people, to whom would be given the Kingdom of Heaven, and less so of the rich, whose camels would find it easier to pass through the eye of a needle than for their owners to enter his father’s house.

We know too of his rage at the money changers setting up shop in the temple.

And yet we find this at Matthew 25:29….

“His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

Are we supposed to take from this, that Jesus was advocating taking everything away from the undeserving working poor and giving it to the rich, with their distressing tendency to reap what they have not sown?

Or was he merely describing how bad things are in the world, and somehow the bit where he repudiates the economics of regressive distribution got left out?

It sounds more like the former.

Certainly, the rich seem to take comfort from this passage, especially at the idea that instead of sticking his talent under the mattress, if he couldn’t run a profitable business the poor servant should ideally have let an asset fund-manager invest the money (and cream a fat commission off the top).

I’d guess it’s this passage, too, that led to the whole cultural thing where Jews lent money out for profit, that contributed quite a lot to the growth of antisemitism in Europe in the middle ages when Christians were banned by law from lending with interest. The medieval Jews were like the Wonga of their day: despised, but occasionally necessary.

Something similar once happened to me.

I was hired as the gardener at a dilapidated old country house with dry rot and no garden (I should have been suspicious at that point), whose owners lived 8,000 miles away on the dark side of the world.

Sensing a business opportunity, they told me by email I had to singlehandedly run it as a £100 a night hotel, that hadn’t been refurbished for thirty years and was mostly used for illegal raves.

They refused absolutely to spend a penny on replacing the old coffee-wine-and-worse-stained mattresses, the historic chipboard furniture, the broken dishwasher, unless I earned the money first. The sewage system was 200 years old, the place was running with rats, hopping with bedbugs, there wasn’t enough hot water for a bath and the advertising budget I was given for three months wouldn’t cover one quarter-page insertion in the minority-interest local edition of the national tourism brochure.

They moaned at me piteously because I couldn’t make enough money from their wonderful home to cover the heating bills, and accused me of pocketing all the money. Thou wicked and slothful servant. After seven years they paid me to leave.

In Jesus’ book I’d have done better to sell the house and invest the money in blood diamonds or crack cocaine. Actually, that’s pretty much what I advised them to do, but I was only the old gardener. Who listens?

Ripping-off the poor is the rich man’s pleasure.

And Christianity seems to provide a perverse excuse for the ‘winner take all’ philosophy that is so prevalent today, as around the world vast inequality is creating gaping rifts in the fabric of society and Trump the senile warlord, the slumdog billionaire reigns rampant over the remains of civilization.

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A climate of concern

Google images

You might have heard of the Hudson’s Bay Company? They’re the boys who used to trade furs with trappers beyond the Arctic circle, in the 1800s?

Well, on 6 June the temperature on Hudson’s Bay was 89 deg. F.; while a temperature of 56 deg C., 132 deg F. was recorded in Sistat and Baluchestan province, Iran. (Arctic News, 6 June)

Adding to the list of environmental problems caused by man-made climate change, the latest bulletins from the Climate and Extreme Weather website, #28 & #29, report that Tamil Nadu province in SE India is experiencing its worst drought in 150 years. They’re having to plant ever-smaller areas of crops as there is nothing available to irrigate them, and many villages have less than a month’s supply of water in the reservoirs.

By contrast, only a few hundred miles to the south over 180 people have died in flash floods and landslides in Sri Lanka as record monsoon rains arrive early. India has had to send over emergency support services. Flooding in Manipur, NE India, has killed two. June 2: a ‘stationary front’ brings 600 mm of rain (two feet) to Taiwan in 12 hours. Major flooding also reported on the mainland, ‘tens of thousands’ evacuated.

I see by contrast that Capetown in South Africa is running desperately short of water – Western Cape province has been declared a disaster zone in the midst of the worst drought in a century and water rationing has been introduced in the city. La Paz in Peru is similarly suffering. Northern Bangladesh, too, is experiencing a dangerous heatwave and drought; as is Kenya, where thousands of cattle have died and villagers have no food after a three-year-long drought. Landscape views show not a tree or a blade of grass left for miles.

Saintly reputation fast putrefying in the SE Asian air.

Weirdly, however, in other parts of Kenya there are floods; while Cyclone Mora has caused the evacuation of 350 thousand people in the Ganges delta area of Bangladesh; and has trashed two enormous refugee camps for the Burmese muslim Rohingya minority, now suffering a genocide denied by the formerly heroic Aung Sang Suu Kyi, whose fragrant and saintly reputation is fast putrefying in the steamy SE Asian air.

Aljazeera news reports that millions of people are on the verge of starvation in Somalia, overflowing refugee camps that have no supplies because the NGOs have run out of money. Thank you, America. Large parts of Guyana, however, are helpfully underwater. Sulawesi in Indonia has been flooded twice in the last month.

Flash floods have caused hundreds of people to be evacuated in Germany and in Hungary; there are more floods in Greece; major flooding in Serbia, flash floods in Switzerland; but a 30 deg C.+ heatwave is forecast for central Europe up into Sweden in the coming days. Tennis players at the French Open are dropping like flies. Moscow: 12 people have died in the most powerful storm to hit the city in ‘100 years’. In Stavropol, southern Russia, five million homes are reported flooded and 60,000 people evacuated; thousands of acres of farmland have been affected. We are seeing ‘100-year’ events almost everywhere now.

In the USA Salem, Indiana is underwater again for the second time in ten years and a state of emergency has been declared across three states. Lake Poopoe, the second largest freshwater lake in landlocked Bolivia, has dried up completely for the third year in a row, and is not expected to recover. Lake Titicaca is suffering a potentially ecocidal pollution crisis, destroying tourism. Severe flooding leaves 8 dead, 40,000 evacuated in Pernambuco, Brazil. Villahermosa, Mexico, Tropical Storm Beatriz kills five. 253mm rain dumped in 12 hours.

Tuesday 30th: Phoenix, Arizona, 102 deg. F. (5 June, 108 deg. F.) Tampa, Fla 95 deg. F. Houston, Texas 89 deg. F.

Wednesday 31st: Turbat province, Pakistan, records 53.5 deg C., 128.3 deg. F.

Project Midas (Swansea University) reports a rapid elongation of the 150m wide crack that threatens to calve the world’s biggest iceberg from the Larsen C ice-shelf in Antarctica: 17km in four days. The crack is now less than 13 km from the sea at the one end where the shelf is still attached. Loss of an area one quarter the size of Wales could herald the breakup of the entire shelf. I have to lookup how big is Wales, it’s very folded.

The Washington administration meanwhile is budgeting for a massive reduction in overseas aid spending through the UN, to fund tax cuts for the poor richest 1% in America, who now own only 82 times the wealth of the bottom 50%. On his visit to Europe, Mr Trump declined to join the rest of the G8 in reaffirming the Paris accord, saying he would have to think about it; although it is known he is incapable of rational thought.

Stop Press: Wednesday 31st, he repudiates Paris, falsely arguing that it ‘damages American jobs’.

Mr Trump is, wittingly or unwittingly (he is startlingly ignorant of many things, especially business economics) on the verge of becoming a world criminal.

An ecocide, on whom responsibility sitting for the extinction of life on earth within a generation is not a fanciful notion or an exaggeration, as he has the power to act to stop it, or at least to try, albeit so late in the day; but, to please his billionaire backers who insanely imagine they can buy their way to salvation, will not.

If he pulls out of Paris, Mr Dump should be taken from the White House, by force if necessary, put on trial, convicted; strapped to a gurney and clumsily executed by lethal injection. His director of the EPA, former Arkansas Attorney-General and energy business shill, Scott Pruitt, knows all about how that’s done.

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Where will the billionaires go?

I cannot believe the billionaires do not have some desperate plan up their sleeve to survive the coming climate apocalypse.

Just think.

Sustainable eco-domes like the Eden Project in Cornwall offer UHNW families temporary hope of survival, but at a cost.

If you earned a million dollars a year and never spent a penny, it would take you a thousand years to become a billionaire. I don’t think I’ve made a million dollars in my lifetime. Had I done so, I would need a thousand lifetimes to be a billionaire. If you won a million pounds on the Lottery, and declined to celebrate with a champagne cruise, you would still have to win 999 more Lotteries to become a billionaire.

So you have to be pretty smart, pretty determined, pretty lucky in who your dad was or pretty crooked to become a billionaire in the first place. And some people are billionaires many times over. How is that?

These UHNW (Ultra High Net Worth) individuals are growing exponentially in number as we ordinary losers keep shoveling money at them in exchange for such important, everyday items as this year’s model of iPhone, internet subscriptions, exorbitant rents, personal data or dubious financial advice. They know, surely they know, that we are all doomed, probably within a generation.

As the planet warms, feedbacks are triggered; polar ice vanishes, gigatons of methane erupt from thawing tundra and seabed, crops now glutted with CO2 can’t take up any more and die off, giving their CO2 back to the atmosphere; the oceans warm and acidify to the point where they no longer produce oxygen, the food chain collapses. Sea levels rise inexorably. Warmer air becomes heavy with water vapor, insulating clouds trap more heat. Weather systems become wilder, more unpredictable, more energetic.

As desertification begins to impact the temperate latitudes more wildfires consume vast areas of woods and scrubland, adding to the burden of greenhouse gases: CO, CO2, SO2, NOx – H2O. More and more of the human-habitable zone rapidly becomes uninhabitable, fragile economies collapse, millions flee in desperation to more northerly and southerly latitudes: migration wars break out.

If this sounds like the stuff of futuristic fiction, you need to wake up: it’s happening now, and it’s almost certainly already too late to stop it.

We’ve already fucked the atmosphere to the extent that if we stopped polluting right now, stopped everything: cars, planes, power plant, TV, air conditioning units, overnight, it would take 100 years to clear the excess CO2. But if sooty particulates in the stratosphere precipitated-out tomorrow, we would experience another 1.6 degrees of runaway warming within days. There is no science, no engineering solution that can stop it in time, that would not make things worse in the long run.

A growing number of perfectly respectable scientists are joining the ‘Extinction 2030’ club. But the models are starting to show an even worse-case scenario: it’s possible we could see 6 degrees of warming by 2021. And that’s not survivable. The planet hasn’t been that hot in the past 200 million years. Realistically it should take longer. No-one knows, exactly. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening now.

Three billionaires – Musk, Bezos and Branson – are racing to build a rocket ship that will take humans to Mars. But Mars is not a habitable planet, it’s all desert. It barely has an atmosphere: CO2. It’s very cold, giant dust storms last for weeks. There’s frozen water, but little solar energy to generate air and power indefinitely. You get there, put up a small tent, and that’s it – the future of Mankind in the universe, reduced to one tiny spark of optimism with not a lot around to catch fire.

It’d be pretty bleak.

Nor does the Martian ecosystem guarantee the resources needed to survive for long in a small colony without hard work, which billionaires are not used to doing; yet their gardeners and housekeepers would be hugely expensive deadweight on the nine-month journey. Robots would be needed. It’s all taking too long, and there are too many billionaires to accommodate.

A Mars mission would be fatally limited in scope: it would be like Scott’s last expedition to the Antarctic, a failed heroic gesture based on poor and hasty planning, inadequate support. Google will be our obituary: ‘thus far and no further’ etched in the Martian sand.

The solution for our threatened billionaires therefore probably lies in constructing terrestrial eco-domes: enclosed, controllable, self-sustaining environments like the Eden Project in Cornwall.

With plentiful solar and wind energy to provide air conditioning, refrigeration, oxygenation, composting of poo and recycling of waste water, these ‘living bubbles’ would enclose hydroponic farms to produce green crops, underground laboratories where proteinacious meat-substitutes could be cloned or manufactured from fungi, and medical facilities.

To go outside, protective suits and oxygen tanks would be required; especially in view of the likelihood that the highly radioactive cores of hundreds of unattended nuclear power stations around the world, deprived of their water coolant, would be melting-down.

The domes would of course have to be defensible. Unless there’s enough methane to snuff us all out, human extinction is not going to be an overnight success. There will be an enormous residue of buildings, fuel, vehicles and general ‘stuff’ to pillage, weapons stores, for useful items. It will take a few years, during which bands of starving survivors will represent an existential threat to the billionaires in their fragile domes.

Private armies will be required, well-armed, possibly with armored vehicles and even small ‘battlefield’ nuclear weapons, and they will naturally demand a share of the food and sanctuary offered by their employers. Unless their services can be supplied from the outset by robots, some means of eliminating the security people when they are no longer necessary will need to be built-in as they become a drain on resources.

Ultimately, however, no system is really self-sustaining to the extent that would be needed to support a viable colony of, say, sixty persons. Besides, unless a means of abandoning the dead planet could be found, to go out and explore the many planetary systems we are only just discovering in our galaxy, to try to find another Earth, what would be the point of surviving? It would take hundreds more people to accomplish than could be housed in the domes.

Breeding more humans in the domes would be counter-productive, as more and more resources would be needed to keep them alive. That can’t work in a closed system, we’ve tried it. You would have to initiate a ‘one-in, one-out’ policy. As the useful staff members – doctors, technicians, gardeners, cooks, maintenance people – their equipment deteriorates and their skills die off, who will replace them?

Billionaires are even now funding serious research into immortality. Lifespans in the hundreds of years may soon be achievable as we find a way to keep our cells replicating healthily. But there’s a catch in Domeworld. Their servants would have to become immortal too!

Boredom and futility would be the final killers, in a limited world of sterile pleasures where there is no more money to be made, no more challenges and goals for these alpha-males and females, other than sheer survival in a series of small, covered habitats flimsily insulated from a hostile environment inimical to all life bar the rats and cockroaches – and no Facebook!

With no more mountains to climb the billionaires would surely go crazy.

(And, lo, the very day after I wrote this little piece, hath appeared the following sign in the Heavens:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/item/183995d2-8d56-4028-9ca5-73394d695e10?intc_type=singletheme&intc_location=bbcthree&intc_campaign=bbcthree&intc_linkname=article_apocalypse_contentcard30 )

x

“So, for £20 I can put in a plug for British Airways?”

“In January 2011 BA merged with Iberia, creating the International Airlines Group (IAG), a holding company registered in Madrid, Spain. IAG (turnover £11.4 bn) is the world’s third-largest airline group in terms of annual revenue and the second-largest in Europe.”

Come, don’t fly with me

As you can probably guess, I have a computer.

It’s just a li’l laptop, with some peripheral things plugged in: a big screen, a mouse, some speakers, a printer.

And for what, £20, £25, I acquired a five-point switchable power-socket bar to distribute the electricity to them all, a kind of power-bar with a special little doohickey, a transformer, a power-sink, whatever, inside it, providing built-in surge protection.

So when lightning strikes or a nuclear bomb goes off somewhere, or when everybody switches their kettle off all at once, or when it’s a bank holiday, an unexpected power-surge is hopefully not going to derail my latest project by wiping my data or worse, blowing-up the operating system.

The ‘motherboard of all bombs’….

And it seems to be working okay so far.

Out there in PR land, they have a speciality a bit like my special power-bar. It’s called ‘crisis management’. Or sometimes, ‘reputation management’.

It’s about knowing what you have to do when your business fucks-up bigly, so you don’t permanently lose your reputation and thence, your business.

Like when British Petroleum blew a hole in the floor of the Gulf of Florida and had to confess, they didn’t have a stopper that fit. Millions of gallons of oil continued spewing out for days, weeks… it began to look like the end of the world was nigh. The marine life died, the fishermen were going bust, the compensation cheques got bigger and bigger… the Chief Executive was replaced but the share price kept on going south….

The eventual bill exceeded $60 billion and the loss of reputation was almost terminal. Not every big business can see the point of reputation management until they need it. And sorry seems to be the easiest word.

Self-styled crisis-management experts go around companies to provide training in how to prevent things going bad for your business, and how to deal with it when they do – as you can’t always count on things not going badly, the bigger and more complicated a business gets. Everyone knows that.

Nearly everyone.

It starts with a risk assessment. You all sit down together and blue-sky all the things that could possibly go seriously wrong, like a lightning strike or a nuclear bomb creating a power surge that takes down your entire information system, company wide.

Maybe no-one wants to seem so stupid as to mention the possibility of a bank holiday?

You draw up a plan to manage every situation, so everyone knows what they have to do; and some rough scripts, for what you say to the customers, the press – your shareholders.

Then you ask an engineer, how do we stop this happening?

And the engineer will say, well, it’s a very rare situation, hardly ever happens, but you should ideally make sure we have a backup system in case the main one goes down.

(Or, there’s this guy in Boglington-on-Sea who writes that for £20 you can get one of those special power-bars you plug your system into, that soaks up any power surges and stops your entire worldwide information nexus from going down at the same time.)

But what happens if we choose not to spend the £20 or bother having a backup, let’s just go with Microsoft Windows XP from Computer World, that’s always reliable, maybe fire all the IT people and outsource the whole damn thing to a wooden shack in Tamil Nadu, save ourselves some money?

Well, then, says the engineer, whoever took that decision is going to have some serious questions to answer if your entire information system goes down at the same time and you can’t operate the business.

But, how serious can it be?

Like I said, it happens very, very rarely.

Yeah, okay, let’s go ahead and ignore it.

But, worst-case scenario, you could find you have twenty-five thousand families jammed into airport lounges in many countries, no planes taking off, all not knowing what’s going on, on the busiest day of the year, a hot day, after they sweated for hours in traffic, at the start of the half-term holiday you just totally ruined for them and their kids, with nothing to eat, nowehere to go but home, and then you’d have to pay them maybe £100 million in compensation?

It’s never going to happen.

But what if it did, who would take responsibility in a situation that bad?

Not me, amigo.

I’m only the Managing Director.

It’s not my fault. It was a power surge…a bad reaction to a power surge… I dunno, it’s technical.

How many times have we heard this, top management refusing to resign over the most horrendous cock-ups on their watch?

“No, I can’t go, not me, I’m the only person on earth who can be trusted to fix the problem I created.”

It’s understandable, the amount these guys are paid. We recall the head of the Health Board on £250k a year who refused to go for weeks after an inquiry found that horrendous things happened, people died. She had to be dragged kicking and screaming from the building while huge cheques were being written to retain her as a consultant, only for that plan to be abandoned too in the face of a public outcry.

Now she lives on a gurney in a corridor somewhere, her worldly goods stuffed in bags underneath.

“Alex is 50 years old and originally from Bilbao in Spain.  He has a degree in industrial engineering from Central Michigan University, an MSc from the Ohio State University, and a Business Management & Administration degree from the Cox School of Business in Dallas.”  – See more at: http://mediacentre.britishairways.com/factsheets/details/86/Factsheets-3/26#sthash.7yKOPLX4.dpuf

Yes, but he’s also a Spanish omelette, no? It never even occurred to him that the flying circus would break down on a bank holiday, the putz; and that people wouldn’t see their bags again for a week.

Because he of all people should know, with his MBA, it’s over. He’s on his way, and no amount of special pleading is going to convince the ruined shareholders and the desolate holidaymakers of Britain, from where the British in British Airways (our national flag carrier) derives, albeit it’s now a rapacious, corner-cutting private Spanish company with serious staffing isues, that he should stay on.

I should know, I worked in PR. The internet will get him in the end.

Better book your ticket to Bilbao, Alex.

There’s a Ryanair flight leaving in an hour.

You can rely on it.

(PS As of Tuesday morning, £500 million has been wiped off the share price of BA’s parent company, IAG.

And now (Tuesday pm) it’s recovered, now the MD refuses to go. And by the end of the week it’s up further. That’s markets for you, completely irrational.)

x

The quality of mercy, slightly strained

The other day we at the BogPo reported on an Australian woman who walked free after her baby died in a hot car, thanks to a psychologist who testified there was such a thing as ‘Forgotten baby syndrome’.

Well now, Australia isn’t quite the liberal country of popular imagination, is it.

A Sudanese refugee who drove into a lake with her three children in the car has pleaded guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility, after two of the children drowned.

The judge was totally sympathetic to the fact that she was suffering from severe depression and flashbacks, having seen her father murdered in the civil war in Darfur. The children’s father spoke of how she had been a good mother who would never have intentionally harmed the children.

The judge said Guode had been suffering post-traumatic stress, signs of depression and feelings of isolation from the Sudanese community. “In my opinion, your actions were the product of extreme desperation, rather than any form of vengeance,” he commented. (BBC report)

Then he sentenced her to 26 years and six months in jail, with a no-parole period of 20 years, and said it was likely she would be deported after serving her sentence.

I’ve never really loved the Antipodeans, have you? They can be a bit, well, dry? Like their ageing tennis hero, the homophobic racist Margaret Court, possibly?

 

It’s never going to end. Also: The rule of law as it applies to the Conservatives.

“Theresa May, as home secretary, sat through 55 national security council meetings on Libya between March and November 2011. The national security adviser’s “lessons learned” report makes no mention of any Home Office contribution to that body’s decisions, nor any mention of the implications for domestic terror.” – Paul Mason, The Guardian, 27 May.

Whouahaawhouaha… eerie flashback music (again. I know, but why wouldn’t you?)

I was working at Thames TV in London in 1980. Three years earlier I had been fired from my job as a news editor on a regional radio station under, shall we say, murky circumstances – undue influence and all that – and found myself on an industry blacklist, that meant I had to start my career over again.

I gained some insight into what it must have been like for those Hollywood scriptwriters and directors unofficially blacklisted by their studios for fear of persecution by the anti-Communist witchhunting McCarthy gang (which included Trump’s notoriously thuggish mafioso solicitor, the happily late Roy Cohn).

After almost a year out of work, an editor I knew took pity on me and offered me anonymous production shifts on terrible late-night phone-in shows. Eventually I was rehabilitated, and did some well-received work, but I was never able to get another staff job and had to keep freelancing, which I’m not very good at as I have no administrative ability, networking or self-promoting instincts.

Thus I had ended up on monthly contract as a lowly scriptwriter on the early-evening news show for Thames, the London ITV contractor.

One day while in a production meeting where story ideas were being pitched, I brought up the matter of the revolution in Iran. I had a very good Iranian friend, so I knew there was quite a large population of Iranian exiles in London who had fled the Islamist purges in the wake of the overthrow of the Shah; and a concomitant population of pro-Khomeini agitators, spies and informers working against them.

Should we not perhaps look at the London dimension, where assassinations and larger-scale acts of violence were a real possibility? I asked the editor. After the shocked expressions had relaxed a bit – lost dogs, celebrity visits, tube strikes and Ken Livingstone’s antics as leader of the Greater London Council being about the sum of the editorial scope of the show – the editor dismissed it with a ‘well, call Scotland Yard and see what they say’.

So I called the press office (for the benefit of US spammers, likers etc. there is in reality no ‘Scotland Yard’, the headquarters of the Metropolitan police has not been at that address for many decades, sorry to disappoint), and they said no, that is not something we’re looking at now or even considering thinking about, thanks.

Feebly, I dropped the story. It was far above my pay grade to follow it up; besides, I didn’t have time, or the contacts.

Three days later an armed unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard took over the Iranian embassy in Palace Gate and a week-long siege ensued, that was ended when masked SAS men abseiled from the roof and crashed in through the windows, hurling stun grenades in an epic act of grandstanding that Thames’ police reporter, Colin Turner managed to catch on film, scooping the world’s media.

The reason I recount this story is that it’s foolish to imagine lessons are ever learned.

Paul Mason has written in The Guardian that British foreign policy, especially on Libya, has not changed. We imagine, don’t we, that there are certain countries where it’s fine to intervene in their turbid politics to suit our own view of what is the best outcome for all, and that there are never repercussions or responsibilities arising as a result. No forethought is required, for we are invariably in the right.

We – that is to say ‘the West’ – were the colonial powers in Islamic North Africa, the Middle East, northern India, Afghanistan in the C19th, when Britain, Russia and America were playing what was known as the Great Game, to secure influence over the important trade routes and mineral resources of the region, and to countervail the declining Ottoman empire.

The possibility of Islamist terrorism was at that time very real, in the estimation of the nascent Western intelligence services, as it was feared the warring tribes might unite behind a mythical saviour known as the Mahdi, whom the ‘Twelver’ Shi’ites believed would be the final incarnation of the Prophet, the Twelfth Imam; and the End of Days.

But what have we learned?

The long history of British interventions in Afghanistan is one mostly of bungling incompetence, our epic defeats being matched only by the brutality of our reprisals.

British troops sent to defend Helmand in the 2000s were hardly aware of the legacy of bitterness the C19th wars had left. It’s a different culture, with longer memories. They imagined they would be welcomed as peacekeepers, a bulwark against the Taleban. Instead they were spurned as occupiers, colonialists. Increasingly trapped in their makeshift cantonments, with mounting casualties becoming politically unacceptable at home, they were eventually forced to pull out.

The generals could have warned the poor squaddies about the back story, as they tend to study these things in books, but apparently they didn’t: thus, the occupation of Afghanistan in support as always of the Americans (who have learned nothing about the futility of asymmetrical warfare from the Vietnam debacle) became a tragedy, a strategic blunder that few people immediately understood as the gung-ho media focus was all on the betrayal of ‘our heroes’, few things in Britain having changed since the 1890s.

In pulling the Raj out of the Indian subcontinent in 1948 and arbitrarily dividing mainly Muslim Pakistan from mainly Hindu India, like taking a can-opener to separate conjoined twins without anaesthetic, we allowed – some say encouraged – a horrible civil war to unfold in which over a million died and tens of millions were displaced.

The ramifications are still being felt today, as nothing positive was ever done to settle the position of disputed Kashmir; while East Pakistan – Bangladesh – moves ever further down the road of Salafist extremism.

Throughout the Middle East, before both World Wars Britain did opportunistic power-sharing deals with local tribal leaders and then broke our promises, that left a lasting legacy of mistrust. To secure the loyalty of Faisal against the Turks, in Arabia we virtually invented the monarchical ‘House of Saud’. In colonial Iran to secure oil supplies we promoted the corrupt Pahlavi family into a poodle dynasty, with a preposterous ‘coronation’ of the Shah-in-Shah in the ruins of ancient Persepolis.

We drew lines on maps and chopped up the Middle East into imaginary ‘nations’, regardless of local religious and tribal accommodations that had arisen over centuries, a history of which we appeared to be totally unaware. When yet another coup brought the nationalizing Colonel Nasser to power in Egypt, in 1956 we and the French co-operated in a poorly planned attempt to sieze control of the Suez canal before he imposed costs on our shipping and restricted the flow of oil from the Gulf; forgetting to ask permission from the Americans, who opposed the idea. It turned into a rout.

That humiliating failure of foreign policy is generally held to mark the end of the British Empire and freed the Americans to buy their way into the region.

And then there was Israel, created from the British Mandate, armed and supported by the US in its several wars against the resident Palestinians and their neighbours Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt; the rise of the PLO, later Hamas – the festering refugee camps, the massacres, the ghettoising of the native population, the illegal settlements, the militarised security that began as legitimate national defence but morphed into a rough repression of the Arab minority.

Yet like the British, the Israelis seem to find it astonishing that apparently random and unprovoked acts of terrorism on their soil have been committed in the name of Palestinian liberation. ‘Who, us?’ they say. ‘But we’re the good guys!’ Ignoring that their own terrorists, the Stern Gang, Irgun, bombed the war-weary British into conceding the mandate in the first place. We left without securing a proper settlement.

We should perhaps briefly consider that the attacks in London using cars and knives are based on tactics developed by Hamas in Israel over the last few years, deploying minimal, virtually undetectable weaponry in the hands of ‘Fida’i’ – those willing to die – to achieve the same terrorising effect as guns and suicide vests.

Later still America engineered the coup that brought Saddam Hussein to power, and supported him for two decades, including his horrible war against Iran – eight years of bloody attrition with poison gas and school-age conscripts brainwashed by Imams into carrying out suicidal ‘open-wave’ assaults across minefields, children against machine-guns, leaving almost two million dead: a war of which we in the West were scarcely even aware at the time and which nobody remembers today.

After he seized power in 1970, apparently a moderate, Westernizing autocrat (though also profoundly corrupt, creating an oppressive personality cult and a ruthless security state around himself and his extended family) we stood by and did nothing in Syria back in 1980 while Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafiz, was killing thousands of ‘his own people’ protesting against his family’s corruption, and razing the rebel city of Hama to the ground – a penchant for medieval butchery runs in the family.

Later, Hafiz was credited with having created the concept of the ‘suicide bomber’, driving poor and hopeless young men and women to enter the enemy camp undetected and blow themselves up with hopes of salvation and riches in the life to come. Though of course this was nothing new: inspired by a living prophet known as The Old Man of the Mountain, the Fida’i or ‘Fedayeen’ were a quasi-religious order of fanatics who opposed the Frankish crusaders in Syria in the C14th and C15th armed with little more than knives and their own lives.

‘Jihad’ counts on its followers to be more willing to die for the cause than its enemies are.

The impossibly knotty power politics of postwar Syria – you can lookup the Wikipedia entry on Hafiz, but I guarantee you will give up long before the footnotes – resulted in a split in the Ba’ath party between Syria and Iraq and led directly to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafism, a revivalist doctrine of purity in Islam that motivated Osama bin-Laden and his fanatical followers to transfer their undeclared jihad to the West, largely targeting symbols of decadence and irreligiousness and hoping to sow confusion, dissension and division.

During the 1940s and 50s, colonial France prosecuted a nasty civil war against Algerian aspirations for independence. Twenty years after it was over, homegrown French terrorists – white men, former legionnaires sponsored by wealthy nationalists – were still carrying out bombing atrocities and assassinations in France to protest the withdrawal. A long-running Islamist insurrection in Morocco followed decades of jostling between the French and the Spanish for control of the protectorate, with Britain anxious to weaken both in its determination to hang on to Gibraltar.

In 2004, a Moroccan cell of al-Qaeda carried out a devastating terrorist atrocity in Madrid, killing 191 people with ten bombs, to protest the invasion of Iraq. There indeed was a clear and direct link between foreign policy and terrorism on both the regional and international levels.

In 2013, young Libyans joined in the Arab Spring movement, peacefully protesting the oppressive regime of Muammar Gadaffi, who struck back with characteristic brutality. Here was another regional ‘strongman’, a megalomaniacal torturer and serial rapist the oil-hungry West played with like a toy, flattering him one minute, branding him a terrorist the next – even while he was arming the Provisional IRA and fomenting rebellions among his southern neighbours.

Instead of standing by and watching him massacre his own people – we always say ‘his people’, don’t we, ignoring that those ‘strongmen’ whom we put and keep in power as long as it suits our energy policy have their own tribal loyalties and do not necessarily regard everyone as ‘their own people’ – David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy got together and persuaded the Americans to help us send planes to bomb Gadaffi’s tanks and supply lines, his airbases, to weaken them and thus enable the rebels to take over.

Tripoli bombing. (Google images)

It didn’t quite happen like that. The bombing of Tripoli and the Benghazi road went on day after day, justified by the phoney pretext of ‘precision-guided weaponry’, causing heavy casualties; until, attempting to flee, Gadaffi was dragged, pleading for his freedom, from hiding in a storm drain and murdered by the mob, a bayonet thrust up his anus before being shot in the head.

His sons were hunted down and arrested, and with no coherent follow-up plan coming from the West, Libya descended into chaos. The ‘rebels’ we had imagined were Westernising moderates turned out to be a squabbling assortment of tribal and religious militias and criminal gangs, bristling with liberated weaponry, harbouring varying degrees of vicious antipathy towards each other and towards the West.

What a surprise.

Eventually two shaky rival governments emerged, in the east and in the west of the country, with lawless badlands to the south. A shame because, as Donald Trump has said, they had ‘the best oil in the world’. (Mr Trump has argued that, wherever US troops are engaged, they should be allowed to recoup the cost by seizing the oil. He is criminally insane, of course, but nobody has the guts to remove him. They have seen what happens when you remove dictators.)

In Benghazi, the local militia invaded the US embassy and shot the ambassador. That, of course, was Hillary Clinton’s fault. A branch of ISIS opened in Sirte, Gadaffi’s home province, but was quickly expelled as ‘too extreme’ by local militias. Not before IS’s Libyan gunmen had entered Tunisia and murdered 32 Western tourists irreligiously bathing on a popular winter holiday beach. Another inexplicable, random attack?

Having previously invaded Iraq but left Saddam in place, after he seized the oilfields in Kuwait (it appears he imagined the Americans would like it) in 1991, twelve years later on the false pretext that the 9/11 attack on America had been supported by the dictator and claiming that he had obtained chemical and nuclear weapons he was planning to use to bring down the West, the US, Britain and NATO allies toppled the dictator using overwhelming lethal force: ‘shock and awe’, that left perhaps 15 thousand dead.

After a long manhunt, Saddam was dragged matted and bleeding from a hastily dug underground bunker, put on trial and executed. A puppet, Nuri al-Malaki was put in charge of an artificially ‘democratic’ government that has conspicuously failed to govern for national unity ever since.

In fact, apart from Israel the only country in the region that seems capable of conducting ‘free and fair’ elections is Iran – one of George W Bush’s three ‘Axis of Evil’ nations he accused of exporting global terrorism (along with Libya and North Korea). The three so named should have been Syria (probably responsible for the Lockerbie bombing), Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but they weren’t even on the target list.

Regardless of the possibility that Iran might be the best and most stable regional ally the West could have, despite its awful record on human rights, the US is gearing up for a lucrative new war; Britain is bound to join them and another foreign policy blunder of the first magnitude is looming.

With no plan for reconstruction other than to award lucrative contracts to companies owned by cronies of President George W Bush, that were never fulfilled – placing areas under the virtual control of Blackwater, an undisciplined private army – Iraq descended into virtual civil war between Sunni and Shi’a militias, proxies of Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively, under local warlords. The casualty rate continued to spiral into the hundreds of thousands.

The British in Iraq underwent another ignominious retreat, failing to comprehend the underlying politics of the Basra region where they were charged with maintaining the peace, our generals being anxious to believe they could sustain a ‘second front’ in Afghanistan, that would help them avoid further government cuts in manpower and materièl.

“It’s never going to end while Jingoistic cretins – Fallon, the disgraced former Defence Secretary Fox and the absurd, shambling, apelike creature, Boris Johnson – are in charge of the whelk stall….”

It may be noted that Britain is not, and has not for some time been, capable of sustaining these post-colonial entanglements, but our brain-dead political class dare not admit it to a populace of Daily this-or-that readers they imagine are still infatuated with dreams of empire.

Thus, every time they pursue some pointless and inadequately planned foreign intervention, they put our soldiers’ lives unnecessarily at risk – and those of civilians back home; failing to understand the nature, either of a virtually borderless world or of asymmetrical warfare.

And then there was Afghanistan, of course, again – and the rise of the Taleban, a political and Salafist (fanatically puritanical Sunni) religious army that was created effectively by the CIA when, in its clandestine attempts to destabilise Russian control of the country in the 1970s, it had financed, armed and trained a local militia, the Mujahideen.

The Mujahideen later grew and became more radicalized, and diversified into most of the terror-sponsoring organizations we have subsequently been ‘at war’ with in the Middle East and North Africa – Indonesia, and now seemingly also in the Philippines – employing sophisticated communications technology and improvised weaponry to good advantage, and who are still indirectly being armed by the CIA with free weapons passed on by so-called ‘friendly’ militias, as we seek to impose our ‘way of life’ (neoliberal consumer capitalism) on them, and they on us (the global caliphate).

Which is to ignore, too, the drugs trade, the poppy crop, of which The Pumpkin has little knowledge but which seems also to be part and parcel of the clandestine warfare run by the CIA in the 1970s, both in Afghanistan and in Colombia; and having made the economies of those countries dependent on it, it continues unabated today.

In God we trust

As a counterbalance to radical Islam, we are beginning to see in the USA, in rightwing nationalist countries in eastern Europe and in Russia, an equivalent militant fundamentalism arising, sponsored by ultra-orthodox Christian ideologues and financed with laundered money. Given that the new administration in the White House is deeply involved with the movement, the omens do not look good.

In Egypt, the Arab Spring movement failed to cohere sufficiently to replace the ousted dictator, Mubarak. This left a vacuum into which the Muslim Brotherhood stepped, winning the popular vote in 2012. Not long afterwards, President Morsi was deposed in an army coup and the American-backed General al-Sisi seized power, apparently with the approval of the Arab Spring moderates; since when he has instituted a repressive regime that has attracted a rising level of terrorist actions by both al-Qaeda and ISIS, including the downing of a Russian civil airliner over Sinai and attacks on Coptic Christian communities.

In the meantime, the USA continues to pour billions of dollars of armaments into Egypt, whose army has become, effectively, a separate ‘state within a state’.

So then, here we are back in Syria today, a complete bloody mess that threatens the security of the entire world; a maelstrom, a vortex of violence that is sucking the Great Powers once more into the incomprehensibly diverse politics of religious and tribal schisms, set this time against the exigencies of resource depletion, global crime and climate change; driving millions of desperate refugees northwards towards the razorwire fences of Hungary, Austria and Macedonia. (Five thousand refugees having drowned in the Mediterranean already this year.)

And the only response from the West, now joined enthusiastically by the Russians, has been to bomb, and bomb, and bomb again, not wishing to get our boots dirty, pretty much regardless of whose red lines we or they are crossing, not really knowing who we are supporting, who we are opposing, who we are bombing or to what end. Innocent women and children, poor villagers are dying by the hundreds every month, blown to smithereens in air raids and unmanned drone strikes – and for what?

It would be fair to say, I think, that the USA, Britain and our allies have been making a total balls-up of our foreign policy towards the Islamic world for over a century.

Do you seriously imagine they’re not going to fight back from a position of extreme ideological opposition to everything we stand for?

So, when a Tory thug like the Defence Secretary and former expenses-eater, Michael Fallon seeks to make election-bait out of the deaths of children on British soil by attacking a pacifist opponent in Jeremy Corbyn, branding him as some kind of flakey traitor who ‘excuses’ acts of terror by pointing with total justification to our shameful record of failings in foreign policy, who ‘cannot be trusted with the nation’s security’, unlike Theresa May (on whose watch this happened!), you just know, don’t you.

It’s never going to end.

It’s never going to end while Jingoistic cretins – Fallon, the disgraced former Defence Secretary Fox, the absurd, shambling, apelike creature, ‘Bigfoot’ Boris Johnson and the Press dictator, Dacre – are in charge of the whelk stall, and have their filthy, sanctimonious lips firmly attached around the prolapsed anal sphincter of a dangerously ignorant, aberrant monster, Donald Trump; around whom, it is increasingly apparent, has coalesced a Russian spy ring inside the White House.

To deny any connection between British and American foreign policy and Islamist terrorism is just crass, self-deluding propaganda. It is as stupid as claiming British policy in Ireland from the C17th onwards, through land-grab, famine, civil war and partition, had nothing at all to do with the rise of the Provisional IRA.

Terrorists do not emerge spontaneously from holes in the mud, as in medieval times it used to be believed swallows – migratory birds – did in summer. They have a cause, in both senses of the word.

Everything is connected. As Paul Mason goes on to write:

“It is now reported that MI5 was facilitating the travel of non-jihadi British Libyans to fight in Tripoli. The minister responsible for that decision would have been May. Did she ask about the impact of the Libyan fighting on the terror threat here? That would be something the newspapers, if they did their job, would be shouting at her today, instead of hurling insults at Jeremy Corbyn.”

I mention this, not for party political advantage, nor to ‘excuse’ acts of violence, but as yet another simple illustration of the carelessness with which our politicians dispose of the lives of people elsewhere in the world while accepting no responsibility whatever for the consequences for ‘our own people’, other than to further turn the screws of surveillance, censorship and armed policing in our nation.

It really will not do.

x

The rule of law as it applies to the Conservatives

Look.

I don’t understand the first thing about social media, unless you count this, muh li’l bogl. I don’t understand much about this either, especially why I can’t single-space the text, or why the spam filter asks me if I’d like to moderate the most obviously spam messages you couldn’t wish for. And it’s not that social. Five viewings today, all day, is quite a good haul – mostly the usual old stuff.

Comex Two, Stately Home, blah.

Thus I have no social media accounts, and I automatically delete unread any responses to the Comments I compulsively make on news threads like YouTube or the Grauniad. I am so not interested in this technoshit, and care so little about what people think of my opinions that I refuse to even read what they say in reply, complimentary or otherwise.

They are mostly illiterate baboons in any case.

But if you’ve been following the alternate Pumpkin threads on this site you’ll be aware by now that there’s growing concern about surreptitious political advertising targeted directly at wavering, inadequately educated young voters identified through analysis of their computer and phone usage, that they aren’t aware they consented to.

It’s developing from the same kind of personalized nonsense that meant that, after I bought a saxophone last year, I was bombarded with microtargeted pop-ups from people wanting to sell me more saxophones. How many could I need? Or that, having been forced to sign up to the BBC iPlayer site that used to just let you watch whatever you wanted, I now get only the programmes presented to me that they expect me to watch, based on my personal data (M, 67) and the uninteresting region where I live.

Surely I can make up my own mind?

This kind of automated campaigning by clandestine botnets has been identified in the USA as a factor in the Presidential election last year, the concern being that the data analysis may have been based partly on state-authorised Russian hacking in cahoots with the Trump campaign.

US, Britain and Canada-based data analysis companies owned by rogue multi-billionaire Robert Mercer, a core Trump backer, have also been implicated, in an excellent series of articles in The Observer newspaper by Carole Cadwaladr, in having tried to influence the EU referendum in favour of Brexit, against Electoral Commission rules.

There is apparent difficulty in obtaining research data on the usage, extent and effect of these campaigns as social media such as Facebook and Twitter are opaque to outsiders. Much of what we fear about the subversive activity carried by these ‘platforms’, enabled to increase their profit, is anecdotal or based on very small samples.

This week we read the following:

“The Observer has obtained a series of Conservative party attack ads sent to voters last week in the key marginal constituency of Delyn, north Wales. Activists captured the ads using dummy Facebook accounts after finding that their own ads – encouraging young people to register to vote – were being “drowned out” by the Tory ads.”

In other words, the Tories have been running a trial campaign online of fake news against their Labour rivals in an attempt to gerrymander a constituency, despite knowing that the Electoral Commission is investigating precisely this kind of advertising, that seems on the face of it to be in flagrant breach of the rules regarding campaign funding.

This, only days after they escaped prosecution in several constituencies by the skin of their teeth, after a lower court ruling that undeclared costs involved in sending a Central Office ‘battle bus’ to support candidates in marginal constituencies did not violate local spending limits; which, of course, any reasonable juror would conclude they did.

What a shameless bunch of cunts these Tories are, aren’t they? They will stop at nothing to retain power, even stooping to make political capital out of the heightened national insecurity in the wake of the murders of 22 children, parents and a policewoman in the Manchester Arena bombing only last Monday.

Although they’re the ones in government overseeing this failure of security, they seek to make out that it is their opponents who have allowed it to happen and who cannot be trusted to ensure it does not happen again.

And if you want to see where that goes, hop over to the USA and Mr Alex Jones’ ‘InfoWars’ website, where he reports the murdered children brought the Manchester bombing on themselves because they’re ‘liberals’.

Sick sons of bitches.

Well, thanks to the bizarre attacks their manifesto has made on poorer schoolkids, struggling tenants and the frail elderly, policies that could have come straight from the Donald J Trump playbook on how to crush a loser while guzzling Belgian chocolates and whining about the difficulty of getting planning consents for golf courses, plus the obviously ‘fake news’ that they plan to bring back foxhunting, already the Tories’ poll lead has plunged from 12% to 5% in less than a week.

Good, the BogPo hopes the lousy cheating bastards, the party of asset-skimming fund managers, land-subsidy junkies and rack-renting landlords lose, and lose bigly.

DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM.

This advertisement has been paid for through years of unrewarded toil at the coalface of documentary literature by your Uncle Bogler, 67.

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 16: “Take away that shining bauble”; Cromwell’s message from the grave. Hiding in the Shadows: connections with Fundamentalism. Protecting the Light of Reason. There’s always a letter: Trump, terrorism and Islam.. Sleaze in the Pacific….

 

“Look, you put the money in here and out comes another load of demented, self-contradicting shit!”

Dear America, ye have long revered the Gettysburg Address as a founding statement of your democracy. Here is an equally brief but pertinent, epoch-making speech you need to nail to the White House door now, even though it has not yet been 100 days:

Dissolution of the Long Parliament by Oliver Cromwell, given to the House of Commons, 20 April 1653.

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practise of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

“Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

“Ye sordid prostitutes, have you not defil’d this sacred place and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you who were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

“In the name of God, go!”

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“Freedom of speech is at stake, even as freedom of belief is being shut down by these insanely corrupted religionists”

Hiding in the shadows: Connections with fundamentalism

The Pumpkin has recorded in a previous Post now over 40 policy statements, ‘executive orders’ and congressional bills introduced during Mr Trump’s first three months in office, aimed at destroying the independence of the scientific community.

These range from the appointment of powerful billionaire Exxon-Mobil oil boss Rex Tillerson as the senior US ‘diplomat’, Secretary of State, a man with no departmental background and an apparent disdain for career-diplomatic expertise, and ‘the King of Fracking’, Harold Hamm’s shill Scott Pruitt to the EPA; via the rollback of environmental protections introduced under Obama, to the defunding and banning of publication of scientific research and public information by federal agency employees in the field of environmental protection or climate monitoring – even the National Parks.

If you need to know what – apart from the vast amounts of money paid to lobbyists in the Washington ‘swamp’ by the Energy industry, evil climate disruptors like Myron Ebrill, and funnelled into the Presidential campaign to ensure a Republican victory (many Republican politicians are so in hock to oil and coal barons that they have no independence of thought or action) – lies behind Mr Trump’s climate-change denialist policies, merely consider that Stephen K Bannon is Trump’s chief policy advisor; and that Bannon is in turn funded by the Mercers, spectacularly wealthy hedge-fund manager and IT whizz Robert and his terrifying daughter, Bekah – rabid Christian fundamentalist plutocrats who have ploughed tens of millions of dollars from their bottomless money-pit into ultra-rightwing causes, including the notorious Breitbart News, which promotes a reconstructivist – almost nihilist – agenda, advocating pulling down the rotting edifice of Western democratic institutions and rebuilding society along orthodox religious lines, guided by the wisdom of the money-makers.

“I don’t know about hands, but my strange cranium has space for three of your human brains.”

Bannon, a co-founder and former editor of Breitbart News, has fallen from grace lately as the appalling administrative shambles, the endless policy failures and reversals and faux pas of the President’s first 100 days in office have been partly stabilized by a palace coup. The military has effectively taken over much White House policy, driven by the hawkish new National Security Advisor, Lt-Gen HR McMaster, a man with a face made of endangered tree-wood and a curiously elongated cranium hinting at some extraterrestrial origin; and by Mr Trump’s most trusted aide, his son-in-law, the 36-year-old property speculator and plastic toy, Mr Jared Kushner.

However, Mr Bannon clearly had a profound effect on Mr Trump for a good long while, and despite his dissolute appearance he holds certain views of the world which include a kind of purist Crusader mentality when it comes to the global supremacy of the Church Militant.

This affiliation may account for the strange relationships between the Trump campaign, elements of his subsequent slimmed-down administration, and religious Orthodoxy, such as:

  • the discredited racialist, Confederate and Christian fundamentalist, Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, the little Yoda dwarf, busy licensing the police to commit any acts of violence against protestors and minorities, locking up people who dare to interrupt his hearings and threatening to jail the producers of medical marijuana;
  • the unqualified ‘Education Secretary’, the Creationist Betsy DeVos (another heavyweight backer of the Trump campaign, whose husband Dick’s Spectrum Healthcare company is thought to be linked to the Ukrainian owner of Russia’s largest private bank, Alfabank, Mikhail Fridman);
  • the Commerce Secretary Mr Wilbur Ross, consigliere to the Trump family and part-owner of a part-Kremlin-owned money-laundromat called Bank of Cyprus, whose chairman Dr  Joseph Ackermann was CEO of Deutsche Bank in 2008 when Trump defaulted on a $640 million loan; the bank fined $14 billion for money-laundering;
  • and the Kremlin – where a powerful movement supported by Mr Putin and some of his pet oligarchs and spiritual advisors like Aleksandr ‘the new Rasputin’ Dugin, bids to restore the hegemony of the Russian Orthodox church. (Dismissed as phoney patriotism by the New American, in an article arguing that Putin is using Christianity as a weapon to control his people and bring down the decadent West. Now read on…)

Leading the conservative charge against the pernicious influences of both science and ecumenicism in the Vatican, profoundly opposed to the ‘liberation theology’ of Pope Francis, is the American, Cardinal Burke – staunch Republican (he threatens to excommunicate Democrats); friend of Steve Bannon, and friend of the crusading Opus Dei movement.

Like the Masons and the Illuminati, Opus Dei is precisely the kind of secretive, creepy ‘resistance’ movement machinating against the liberalisation of Christian orthodoxy to spark off endless conspiracy theories. A trawl of websites commenting on the subject displays a Manichean struggle for the soul of the Mother Church, with deeply opposed viewpoints – sometimes within the same outlet.

The complete Burke.

Stories, both hotly confirmed and denied, have been swirling around, suggesting for instance that Mr Bannon and Opus Dei may be on the same course politically, their aim being to discredit and undermine the current liberal-democratic consensus – the ‘permissive society’ – and its allies in the irreligious scientific community, which is now something like 98.8 per cent convinced of the reality of a planet heating to a dangerous degree as a result of manmade changes to the atmosphere; a thesis inimical to the interests of billionaire fundamentalist Christians, many of whom are tied to the fossil fuel industry – and to the Trump administration; but which excites the teleological wings of both the Christian and Muslim faiths with the prospect of the ‘End times’ perhaps even in our lifetimes.

http://churchandstate.org.uk/2015/05/opus-dei-the-vatican-pentagon-connection/ (Warning: Do not read this unless you were planning to kill yourself anyway.)

God, the reasoning goes, promised after the Great Flood by the sign of a rainbow that he would never again attempt to destroy his Creation. The great extinction threatened by climate change and warned about by so many increasingly alarmed scientists cannot therefore be real and must instead be a worldwide conspiracy to obtain more tax dollars for research programmes (I know, it’s rather silly, given we’ve known the effects of burning fossil fuels for over 100 years. Some conspiracy!).

Amplified by a hatred of government, this ‘Green tax-grab’ of course is a profound meme among America’s gun-toting Bible Belt Christians, Trump’s core dumbfuck supporters, played on for all it’s worth by the Energy industry lobby, that has benefitted from ‘Dark Money’ funding, both by American and often illicitly ‘laundered’ Russian petrodollars.

And behind that, is surely a drive to lift the regime of sanctions imposed against Russia over its illegal annexation of what Mr Putin has described as its ‘spiritual home’, Crimea, to enable co-operative agreements with Exxon-Mobil to drill for oil in the Arctic, where trillions of dollars’ worth of oil reserves are thought to lie. (Conspiracy theories not being necessarily always to do with the secret genetic bloodline of Jesus…)

For an ‘alt-right’ Christian view of Mr Putin, in case I haven’t convinced you, New American quotes the following passage from a notorious practitioner:

“Vladimir Putin Deserves the Nobel Peace Prize: Putin took over as President of Russia in 2000 when the country was in an economic mess. Putin has brought economic prosperity…. Putin put the crooked Jewish billionaires in prison and supported the Christian churches against the gays. He kept America out of war in Syria and Iran. Putin is aggressively combating the financial shenanigans of the New World Order.” — Texe Marrs, author, founder of Power of Prophecy Ministry (New American, April 22, 2014)

(The Pumpkin couldn’t resist looking up the entertaining Mr Marrs on Wikipedia. A virulent anti-Semite and anti-Papist, anti- actually pretty much anything, “In 1999 he alleged that former United States President George H.W. Bush would be involved in a black mass in a chamber within the Great Pyramid of Giza…” Yes, there’s more.)

On 10 April 2017, Mr Bannon’s Breitbart News – a rightwing website of dubious editorial integrity, funded by the Mercers and frequently quoted as gospel by the ‘useful idiot’, Trump – reported that Cardinal Burke had ‘denied ever meeting Steve Bannon’. On 12 April, however, it reported Cardinal Burke as agreeing that he might have had a ‘brief interview’ with Bannon in 2014. Other websites of a profoundly conservative kind hotly deny the claim that the two are linked; however, on 22 April, the Catholic spiritualist Aleteia website wrote:

“In one of the cardinal’s antechambers, amid religious statues and book-lined walls, Cardinal Burke and Mr. Bannon — who is now President Trump’s anti-establishment eminence — bonded over their shared worldview. They saw Islam as threatening to overrun a prostrate West weakened by the erosion of traditional Christian values, and viewed themselves as unjustly ostracized by out-of-touch political elites.”

http://aleteia.org/blogs/deacon-greg-kandra/steve-bannons-vatican-ties-a-meeting-of-hearts-with-cardinal-burke/

The Bannon thesis of course presupposes that ‘Islam’ is some sort of centrally organised and co-ordinated, monolithic conspiracy, rather than a fissiparous world religion with deep doctrinal divisions and degrees of adherence, like Christianity.

Now…

Opus Dei is linked with the White House via an individual called Joseph E Schmitz, a former Pentagon wonk and, naturally, a ‘security advisor’ on the Trump transition team.

Schmitz is a former director of Blackwater, now defunct (after massacring too many innocent Iraqi civilians by mistake) – but once the world’s largest private army, founded by Erik Prince, who is the brother of… Betsy DeVos, and who is also a Trump security advisor and a Dark State ‘fixer’ available for clandestine overseas missions.

(Please bear in mind that there is almost no-one left in any official positions in the State Department and that the actual Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is excluded from key foreign policy meetings. Now read on…).

His Wikipedia entry also states that Schmitz is a member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (I’ll leave the link in. You’ll go freakin’ crazy!)*.

And Blackwater has also been linked with SMOM, among whose members are… well, a lot of people whose names you may recognise, not a few of whom instigated the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Interviewed on Democracy Now, Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept said:

“Joseph Schmitz is, in many ways, in Washington a total clown and a joke because of his insane worldview that has no bearing in the modern world, and yet he continues to get government contracts. He was—he was getting paid by the inspector general on Afghanistan under the Obama administration. And, you know, so he’s part of—I wouldn’t even put him in the category of neoconservatives. I mean, it’s really more the neo-crusader crowd that Joseph Schmitz is a part of.”

Bloomberg News (April 18, 2017) reported:

“Prince was very much a presence, providing advice to Trump’s inner circle, including his top national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, according to people familiar with his activities. Trump was weakest in the area where the stakes were highest — foreign affairs. Among those his aides turned to was Prince, a man whose specialty is paramilitary security forces.”

And the bonkers Illuminati News, with whose general thesis you may find it hard to agree, in 2007 nevertheless reported:

“Blackwater is a religious army serving the Pope in Rome through the Order of Malta, which is itself considered under international law, as a sovereign entity with special diplomatic powers and privileges. Like Blackwater, the Order of Malta is “untouchable” because it is at the heart of the elite aristocracy. … Then we come to another SMOM member, important to what is transpiring in Iraq. Educated at the Jesuit Georgetown University, former Pentagon Inspector-General Joseph Edward Schmitz, Blackwater’s operations chief, is a member of both SMOM and Opus Dei.” – http://www.illuminati-news.com/2007/1014.html

And when you carry on with that article, you will find appended a list of other supposed members of SMOM providing links back in time to some of the backers of the Nazi party – less far back, to politicians like Tony Blair and George HW Bush, media mogul Rupert Murdoch – and also to worldwide Freemasonry and… the Carlyle Group, a private club linked to the global arms industry, that networks billionaires with politicians.

Yes, them again.

The key point is not the accuracy of the information, but the extent to which conservative Catholicism may have penetrated the upper echelons of the Pentagon and those current and former members of the State and private security establishments most closely involved with the so-called War on Terror, who are advising the ‘useful idiot’ in the Oval Office.

And Trump has, basically, told them to just get on with it and to hell with the rules.

Now, you will not find this web of connections actually presented to you in one single place, unless you investigate them one by one it may not appear so evidential. We have not yet found conclusive evidence that Trump is the Anti-Christ…. What the BogPo has dug up in just a couple of hours from online sources both reputable and weird can be explored further, using the small selection of links (both dead and alive) I have given in these Posts.

Please make up your own minds! I think by now you may have grasped the somewhat perplexing nature of the Trump administration and its many connections to a web of conspiracy theories, both persuasive and far-fetched; to world Catholicism, Russian Orthodoxy, shadowy ‘secret societies’ with ultra-nationalist agendas, and their disruptive billionaire funders. The links are there, even if the proof isn’t.

And as most of the stories date from long before Trump was even adopted as the Republican candidate, his Presidential coup d’etat can hardly be blamed for the rash of speculation about his financial and spiritual connections; the ‘Fake news!’.

 

*Try not to confuse the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta with the Knights of Malta, who only come out at night… (ha ha) and, indeed, the Knights Templar, which no longer exists except as a pastiche organization hunting Syrian refugees in Bulgaria.

Every web site about the Knights of Malta has the same text: “VATICAN CITY The Knights of Malta, an ancient Catholic order which operates as global charity, has its headquarters on one of Rome’s most exclusive streets, the … ” so they must really just be an innocent Catholic charity operating in 105 countries, who according to a news story just fired their Grand Whatsit for distributing condoms through an aid agency.

Whereas the actually real Sovereign Military Order etc. also claims to be based on the Via Condotti in Rome, has quasi-national status at the UN and operates ostensibly as a worldwide medical charity.

For the terminally confused, read: http://foreignpolicy.com/2011/01/19/who-are-the-knights-of-malta-and-what-do-they-want/

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Pumpkin vindicated: shock horror

Readers, Spammers, Likers, Followers and Those no longer reading this, muh bogl, will be all too aware that The Pumpkin has been bogling for weeks about the sinister connections between Russia, Wikileaks, Super-nationalists and the Billionaire Disruptors behind an attempted take-down of Western political institutions.

Finally – well, almost, we hope, finality might rest with the Good Guys, if they can be found – Carole Cadwaladr, The Guardian‘s point-woman on this story, has begun to make the connections herself. For the unfolding drama, see:

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/23/when-nigel-farage-met-julian-assange?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=222804&subid=19570602&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

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“Curious how money makes words so worthless”

Protecting the Light of Reason

Today’s march by, hopefully, tens of thousands of scientists worldwide (several of them probably religious believers) protesting Trump’s fatuous attempts to muzzle them and to discredit more than a hundred years of patient, evidence-based and increasingly worrying climate research, will of course achieve nothing. Opponents will point to unity among scientists as proof of collusion.

However, the curiously muted coverage to date by even the most reputable independent media, such as The Guardian and the BBC, of Trump’s brazen evisceration of the federal agencies, his attempts to silence communicators and pervert inconvenient truths, and the outright lies, fabrications, insane beliefs and denials of the profoundly corrupt Energy-bidness shills in the Republican-controlled Congress, their mouths stuffed with petrodollars – curious how money makes words so worthless – the silence of the press needs to be broken.

Freedom of speech is at stake, even as freedom of belief* is being shut down by these insanely corrupted religionists. The media must speak louder, must shout this from the rooftops, that thought itself, the light of reason is under attack.

Instead, it remains shamefully quiescent.

Why?

The Pumpkin would like to know. Mere suspicion is not proof.

*Rumour hath it (05 May) that a Congressional bill is in preparation declaring the primacy of the Christian religion in matters of faith such as LGBT rights, gay marriage, abortion and discrimination against minority faiths. Watch this space for further news of attempts by the administration to destroy the First Amendment prohibiting the creation of a State religion.

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There’s always a letter

“Paris Champs Elysées gunman named as Karim Cheurfi. Officials say a note from IS group was found near his body.” – BBC News

Look. The most intelligent thing we can say about this credulous urban baboon who shot and killed a policeman, Xavier Jugelé, and wounded two others before himself being killed is that, whatever else his motive might have been, it was almost certainly not to advance the cause of the worldwide caliphate.

Cheurfi was 39, a French-born, minor career-criminal who had recently served ten years of a 15-year stretch for a previous attempt to kill policemen in the course of a robbery. Hardly Imam material, then.

You or I could probably concoct a suicide bid and then offer to take a few kafirs with us, and IS would happily endorse you and publicly claim a victory after the event, as they are losing badly on the ground in Syria and Iraq and need the publicity, which world leaders in the throes of elections and enclosed in their campaign bubbles are all-too wont to give them over every small-scale incident possibly ascribable to the worldwide Islamic conspiracy.

But in writing?

A Reuter’s report clarifies:

“Released on probation in 2015 from a further two-year jail term imposed for lesser offences, Cheurfi was arrested again in February after threatening to kill police officers – but released for lack of evidence.”

The evidence that was lacking was any indication of Islamic radicalisation: in other words, he was probablyt just another nutter with a grudge against the authorities and a wish to go out with all guns blazing, who happened to be a Muslim. Just like Khalid Masood, the Westminster Bridge attacker, in fact. French security services say they have ten thousand names of such people on their database; far too many to monitor.

You have to ask yourself if these attacks are quite what they seem?

Could such people – embittered loners, petty criminals, ex-cons, the rootless unassimilated children of migrants – be persuaded to carry out these almost inevitably suicidal attacks, perhaps by cash payments for their families, on behalf of political causes not always connected with religion? Both Cheurfi and Masood were well above the age at which radical Islamists generally launch their planned assaults, usually with the aim of taking down as many “unbelievers” as possible.

If French officials did indeed find a note “near his body” signed: “Best of luck, save us a virgin! From your mates at IS HQ, Raqqa, Syria”, an old cynic like myself might jump to the conclusion that either he wrote it himself or someone perhaps from or acting on behalf of (or imagining they were acting on behalf of) the anti-immigrant Front Nationale might have written it, to provide some broader incriminating evidence to justify an anti-Islamic platform four days ahead of the first round election. (Four days is the required interval – in 1924 the Daily Mail notoriously published an incriminating letter from Moscow, urging Labour supporters to commit acts of sabotage. Four days later the Tories won the General Election. It was an MI5 forgery.)

The bombs in Dortmund that targeted the Borussia coach were, for instance, laid at the door of Islam by the Kremlin-shill, Farage and the usual ultra-nationalist suspects until it became clear from a ‘note’ found at the scene that it was an unusually imaginative attempt to profit from a share-price dip by an individual in the finance industry, unrelated to the worldwide war on terror. His arrest has occasioned not one word of comment or contrition from the right.

But someone must have provided Cheurfi with the AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle. They don’t grow on trees, even in the Schengen zone. Just the type of weapon an IS terrorist might use? Too much so?

The principal beneficiary from this timely incident involving a Muslim man will, of course, be Mme Le Pen, whose comments on the incident have been predictably inflammatory, even though the tougher security measures she is promising are already in place following earlier attacks. Guided presumably by the indefatigible Sebastian L v. Gorka, his British-Hungarian alt-right Christian advisor on the global war against Islam, see above and elsewhere, Mr Trump was quick to inveigh against the terrorists, tweeting:

“Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!”

…the word “terrorist” being now synonymous only with global jihad in The Oxford Dictionary of Bannonisms.

Mr Trump does at least seem to remember where Paris is, although he underestimates by far the resilience of the French people, who survived five years of occupation under the Nazis who, believe me, were infinitely more dangerous than the Islamists; and presumably got the news of the attack from his favourite Fox TV, reeling from the loss of their popular and entirely innocent show host, Bill O’Reilly – a man in late middle-age with racist and mysogynistic (I’m waiting for someone to come up with ‘raceogynist’) tendencies who, it’s said, was wont to phone his female work colleagues with the news that he was masturbating as they spoke.

Mr Trump supported his friend Mr O’Reilly in tweets only last week. Thus he probably wouldn’t have seen or taken onboard the other news that three policemen had simultaneously with the Paris shooting been shot in Seattle during the course of an ordinary robbery; or that

“Race is what drove a homeless African-American man in Fresno to shoot and kill three white men on Tuesday – bringing his homicide total to four since last week, the city’s police chief said during a news conference. “We don’t believe it’s a terrorist act,” Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters about the Tuesday rampage led by suspect Kori Ali Muhammad. “We believe it’s a hate crime.” – USA Today.

A statement freighted with prejudice: a hate crime can’t be a terrorist act because terrorists… what?

Anyway, you see, in the USA – unlike France – such shootings happen every day. So often, in fact, that they go largely unnoticed. Only when there is the faintest possibility of an actual Islamic jihad operation do the demagogues bother to tweet their outrage. “Hate crimes”, racially motivated police shootings and attacks by white racists go unremarked. And some of them may be carried out by disaffected minorities and criminals without any reference to ISIS, or the results of elections. Even though some perpetrators might be amused to shout “Allahu akbar!” as the police take them down.

But Mr Trump’s immediate assumption, without yet having the slightest idea who had carried out the shooting, or why, was that it was religiously motivated. He shoots from the lip – bleats from the tweet, whatever whimsical expression you prefer to employ.

He doesn’t think, because he can’t. Intellectually perhaps the laziest man on the planet, sufficient entirely unto himself, he lacks the mental acuity, the background checks, the perspective.

But it will no doubt have an effect bigly on the outcome of the French election, he hopes. I’m sure he would love Le Pen to win, not only one more lady-leader pussy to grab but one on the right side of the alt-right Wall, whose intemperate actions in office might well justify his own lunacy.

After all, both are supported and funded by the Kremlin.

NOW… having written all that, the Reuter’s report goes on to say that French police are interested in a second man named as Youssouf al Osri, a “very dangerous man” who is indeed linked with IS, a known organiser of atrocities and who, according to Belgian police, crossed the border into Belgium by train before the attack but later “turned himself in” at a police station in Antwerp.

And it seems IS may have thought the Paris attack was carried out by him, which is why they claimed it and thereby unintentionally put their man in the frame, perhaps compromising a bigger operation. As yet no connection has been established between the two men.

Oops.

So all we can take from the pointless murder of poor Officer Jugelé, a veteran of the Bataclan massacre, is that nothing in the world makes much sense right now, except confusion.

But Donald Trump, at least, cares about him.

Although he doesn’t know his name, obviously

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South Pacific

Christ, is there no end to the astonishing litany of sleaze, corruption and filthy dealings surrounding this orange slug and his slimy billionaire cronies, before he has even spent 100 days in office? (That’s not in THE office, he has spent virtually three days a week playing golf, at a cost so far to the taxpayer of over $30 million.)

According to investigative journalist Allan Nairn, interviewed on the Democracy Now cable channel, it appears the US has a familiar grimy hand once more in the politics of another of its backyard dominions, Indonesia; where, in 1965, after an unannounced summit meeting on board a US destroyer at Reykjavik between the young and dashing President Kennedy and the elderly grandee Tory walrus, Harold Macmillan – who got on surprisingly well – an almost bloodless coup was mounted, that ousted the left-leaning reform populist Sukarno and brought to power the kleptocrat Colonel – then General – Suharto.

There followed an attempted genocide, supported by the CIA and the British Navy, of the supposedly “Communist-leaning” ethnic Chinese population. Around a million died or were left to rot in island jungle camps. Later, Suharto – known as “Mr 10 per cent” for his habit of skimming contracts with foreign companies – licensed multinational US and Australian mining companies and Japanese logging companies to ravage the pristine landscapes of the islands, as they continue to do today with horrific effect. A secessionist movement in East Timor was brutally suppressed by the army, until intervention by Australia put an end to the genocide. Eventually “Mr 10 per cent” was ousted in a popular uprising and retired to live on his $30 billion fortune before dying, of “multiple organ failure”, in 2008. Hanging was clearly too good for him.

The New York Times wrote:

“As the leader of one of the world’s most populous countries, Mr. Suharto and his family became notorious for controlling state enterprises and taking kickbacks for government contracts, for siphoning money from state charities and for committing gross violations of human rights. Yet Mr. Suharto remained virtually untouchable to the end…”

One gets the impression he would have earned maximum respect from the White House.

Thanks, indeed, to the USA – paranoid about a possible communist takeover and another Vietnam; greedy for natural resources, the rapid Islamisation of the archipelago has only lately impinged upon the consciousness of the State Department – which has now been gutted by a Trump administration better fascinated with shiny military toys going bang than with the dreary grind of diplomacy.

Indonesian politics have been rent for years as successive dictators supported by the US have done pretty much what they liked to line their pockets provided they did not conflict with US corporate interests. That, and the growing influence of radical Islam – Indonesia has the highest population per head of Muslims in the world, but is said to be “moderate” with pockets of violent al-Qaeda-afiliated extremism – and the turbulent conflicts between ambitious leaders of factions within the nation’s enormous and frequently genocidal army, some for the president, some against – all out for themselves – appears to be leading imminently towards another coup.

The Pumpkin is even now learning about connections with Trump’s pick for tax reform czar, the multi-billionaire Carl Icahn: “Secretary for Deregulation” (his principal qualification appears to be an interest in deregulating his own businesses, the slimy fucker); his mining interests in Indonesia, his use of a local IS-affiliated militia in promoting a coup against the elected moderate President Widodo, who has begun to impose controls on Icahn’s massively polluting and environmentally destructive mining interests; the Indonesian military and Trump’s own business connections in Jakarta.

For, yes, Trump Organization has hotel building projects ongoing in Jakarta. And yes, the Orange Oligarch has been videoed in amicable meetings with known corrupt Indonesian politicians with whom he has business connections. And yes, it looks like no-one will find the time to do anything about it because the stench of sleaze and corruption and treason hangs so thickly about him and his scumbag administration of all the Christian billionaires that it is becoming impenetrable and impervious to rational analysis.

Did you need to ask?

Nairn’s article can be viewed at: theintercept.com/2017/04/18/trumps-indonesian-allies-in-bed-with-isis-backed-militia-seeking-to-oust-elected-president/

Democracy Now interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSf4Q8eWWtk (and see Pt 2)

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I see no ships

What can one say?

Mr Trump made a speech threatening North Korea with dire retribution if Kim Jong-Un went ahead with another nuclear test to celebrate his daddy’s birthday, Kim il-Sung Day. A big “armada” was sailing towards the region, bristling with missiles.

Mr Trump’s officials, including General McMaster and the futile press secretary, Sean Spicer, a bullying and inarticulate little cretin, the snow-capped walking advert for Anusol, Vice-President Mike Pence, all backed him up.

We’re comin’ to get you. Don’t mess with Murcah! USA, USA!

And off went Mr Pence to reassure America’s allies in the region, South Korea, Japan, that they could rely on the good ol’ US of A to protect them, despite all the awful things President Trump had promised on the campaign trail, that he would do if South Korea and Japan didn’t nuke-up and defend themselves.

And then, as we know, it turned out that the “armada”, a battle squadron consisting of the Nimitz-class carrier USS Carl Vinson, a couple of destroyers and a frigate, probably a supply ship too, were in fact 3,500 miles away on the other side of the Pacific, heading for a long-planned joint exercise with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean.

For five days, the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful armed force in the world in all history was threatening nuclear war against a tiny adversary nation, based on the entirely erroneous belief that he had a force in the area capable of carrying out his executive orders.

And nobody contradicted him, because he never listens to expert advice, preferring Breitbart, Fox News and The Beano to provide the vital briefing he needs to get round the golf course this weekend.

Mr Trump then made another speech in Cincinatti, in which he was unable to remember the name of the Speaker of the Senate, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, his closest ally in the House and co-author of his failed healthcare bill. Several times he called him “Ron”, clearly confusing him with retired Congressman Ron Paul, founder of the flakey Libertarian Party.

Since the occasion on which he got up and wandered out of the Oval Office forgetting to sign the Executive Orders that had only just been put in front of him by the team of gurning sycophants with which he insists always on decorating the empty space behind his chair, to big-up his image, apparently put off his stroke by a question from a journalist, there has been growing speculation that the President is suffering from dementia.

Not Congress, not the FBI that is grindingly slowly pursuing at least three separate investigations involving possible treason and money-laundering charges, not the Vice-President who is constitutionally authorised to immediately remove a President who might remotely be considered unfit to be in charge of the nuclear codes, seems willing or able to act, paralysed by self-interest, respect for the Office and confusion engendered by such a plethora of possible causes for impeachment that it is impossible to know where to start.

And now Mr Trump having screwed-up the chances for a North Korea war, Mr Tillerson, an oil company executive for 30 years who knows fuck-all about diplomacy, and who has no counsel from any experienced career diplomat as there is no-one left at the Middle East desk in the State Department, where hundreds of vacant specialist positions remain to be filled, whose only relevant know-how is negotiating lucrative drilling rights and bribing bloodstained dictators, has started making threatening statements and entirely unjustified assertions against Iran.

I fear we’re all fucked if they don’t get this guy and his incompetent gang of pirates out within the next two weeks. As Oliver Cromwell so succinctly put it:

“Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation.”

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Now concentrate

The American Jewish Committee said the Pope should rethink his “regrettable” reference to concentration camps. The term “concentration camp”, which predates World War Two, is nonetheless evocative of the centres set up by the Nazis for slave labour and the extermination of millions of Jews and others.” – BBC News.

They can’t resist any opportunity to require people to “rethink”, can they? Even the Pope!

Of course the Pope was thoughtless to say it of Muslims. We live in an era where none but the self-appointed monitors of linguistic imprecision dares to speak words like Holocaust; Nazi; Hitler; “concentration camp” in any context other than narrowly, specifically of the historic suffering of the Jewish people. To raise those old tropes merely allegorically is to court political and spiritual disaster: the opprobrium of the powerful Israel media lobby, ever vigilant for cultural misappropriation; the fierce retribution of the Representatives, who bid to own language itself.

Of course, refugees are not being systematically persecuted, worked to death, starved, shot – gassed.

They are instead dying from an excess of hopefulness: by the thousand in deserts and at sea. The survivors, many of them are being trafficked into slavery, hunted by vigilantes, others rounded up and, yes, those not yet assimilated through some civil process are being concentrated in camps; deprived of livelihood, liberty and identity.

It’s a matter of definition. And when you are the Pope, especially this Pope, are you expected to stay silent on the matter, in case you give offence to some other aggrieved, self-aggrandizing minority?

It is surely counter-productive to aggregate to yourselves the term “concentration camp”, in order to deny the wrongs done to Muslim refugees and others, the historic wrongs done to civilian internees from the Boer Wars onwards, perhaps even further back during the American Civil War – the thousands of gays, people of colour, the mentally and physically disabled – Jehovah’s Witnesses, for God’s sake – resisters, who perished under the Nazis’ systematised racial purification programmes, who were not Jews – the hundreds of thousands, millions who perished for other reasons in the Soviet gulags, the Japanese internment camps, Pol Pot’s Cambodian killing fields, Suhartos’s Indonesian hellholes, Assad’s torture dungeons.

Against six million Jewish lives, where do we place, how do we honour 27 million Russians slaughtered by the same tyranny? Comparisons, Shakespeare probably wrote*, are odious. In the annals of mass-murder, every life should count as all lives.

Counter-productive, because by censoring self-appropriated language the Israel media lobby provides the perfect hiding place from which those horrors are again bidding to re-emerge.

“Regrettable”? “Evocative”?

Where are their voices? What words should they be denied?

*No: “The earliest recorded use of this phrase appears to be by John Lydgate in his Debate between the horse, goose, and sheep, circa 1440.”