Pumpkin 100 inflates like a speech bubble on GroMore: Can’t you hear that whistle blow… Faster-moving news… Even faster-moving news… Aid memoir… GW: several turns for the worse.

Boris Johnson meets the Queen

“You’re absolutely right, your Majesty, it does seem to be coming from my shoe.”

(Question: why does the Queen carry her handbag indoors? Is it for self-defense, or does she expect an incoming Conservative Prime Minister to walk off with it, like an unregistered plumber?)

 

Can’t you hear that whistle blow

In a spellbinding display of the measured reporting she is famous for, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow today (24 Sept.) pulls apart with forensic clarity, from many sources, the tangled threads of what connects Trump and Giuliani with Ukraine.

And it isn’t enirely what people are being conned by the president and his apparently demented, self-contradicting mouthpiece into believing it is. For that’s the simple, easily reversible story they are happy for the media to run with. Whether it’s a deliberate diversion or just a happy accident, no doubt we shall never be told.

It’s easy for everyone to swallow a story about Trump strongarming the young and inexperienced TV comedian president of Ukraine – who is in New York for the UN convention and due to meet him this week – by holding back $390 million of military aid, to dig up some absurd dirt on Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son.

That’s the kind of thing the dumbfuck base will be happy with. Here’s their hero, fighting for his political life. But see, there’s his feared opponent, how guilty is he?

And the Bidens are not helped by the facts.

Hunter Biden was unwisely on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, whose CEO was accused of corruption. Biden Sr, then Vice President to Obama, persuaded then-president Poroschenko to replace a state prosecutor who was failing to investigate the case properly.

Trump has tried to spin the story around so that it was the Bidens who were corrupt and had unethically used US power to remove an honest prosecutor in order to protect the son of the Vice President.

He has admitted, yes, I did pressure President Zelenskiy, because I wanted to get to the bottom of Joe Biden’s corruption and Hillary Clinton’s role in it. But he denies witholding aid, the missing “quid pro quo” the summary leaves out.

The threat was there – the aid had been suspended – but it remained unspoken. Which is a perfect echo of something Trump’s bagman, Michael Cohen, told the court: Trump never makes a direct threat but you always know exactly what he means.

All this, just to discredit a political opponent who might not even gain the Democratic nomination, as his poll numbers were already slipping behind those of the prim schoolmarm, Elizabeth Warren; who has at least the advantage in her 50s of being about 73 years younger than Sloppy Joe is.

Frankly, the Bidens should have had nothing to do with Ukrainian politics and business. The country is one of the most deeply corrupt states in Europe, and everyone knew it.

But not, perhaps, as corrupt as Trump’s USA.

Digging a little beneath the surface, Maddow raises the disturbing prospect that Russian organized crime is once again interfering in the US election, perhaps sanctioned by Putin – although he has his own electoral problems.

For Trump’s intention in his dealings with the new Ukrainian president, according to official sources in Kiev, has also been to persuade him to open another inquiry, to raise doubts about the guilt of Trump’s former associate and campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

He wants to claim that Manafort – who is serving 7 years in a federal penitentiary for money laundering, tax evasion and failing to declare a foreign interest – was in some way framed by the Bidens…. and Hillary Clinton.

He has cleverly put in the hours of groundwork, turning Clinton into his personal Steinberg, the “two-minutes of hate” figure in Orwell’s 1984 – convincing his base of gullible, adoring morons that she must be guilty of any crime he can point to, of which he is almost certainly himself culpable.

After several years of lucrative lobbying and image-work on behalf of the thuggish, profoundly kleptocratic former president and Putin crony, Viktor Yanukovych, Manafort, we are reminded, was deeply in debt to two immensely wealthy and dangerous oligarchs: Oleg Deripaska, Russia’s “Aluminum King”, who (according to Wikipedia) had murdered his way to the throne; and the handsome and urbane-looking Ukrainian, Dmytro Firtash – both of whom are regarded by the FBI as top-echelon Moscow mafiosi.

Yet somehow, Manafort managed to get himself appointed by, and vocally supported by, Trump as his election campaign chairman. As the Pumpkin has asked several times before, what did he bring to the party? Apart, obviously, from his handy connections to the Russian mafia? An organization to which substantial evidence connects Trump himself in the 1970s and ’80s.

Profoundly compromised – he’d offered to invest $17 million of Deripaska’s money in offshore blind trusts but the money mysteriously disappeared – Manafort was accused in the Mueller report of supplying confidential voter data to the St Petersburg troll factory implementing the Putin-sanctioned disinformation campaign to get Trump elected.

Data that related to voters specifically in the three most heavily gerrymandered states – Michigan, Wisconsin and Idaho – whose Electoral College delegates swung the election, which he had not won on the popular vote nationally, to Trump.

States where voter suppression by Republican legislatures – the rigging of qualification criteria to exclude tens of thousands of black and ethnic minority voters who always vote Democrat – was known to be rife.

Manafort was a plant.

Firtash, who benefits (on Putin’s orders) from a percentage cut of the sales of all the gas Russia pipes through Ukraine to western Europe, an income running into the $billions annually, has been fighting extradition to the USA from Austria on corruption charges for several years. Allegedly, he’d bribed Indian officials for a license to supply titanium for airframes to Trump’s favorite military contracting firm, Boeing. He also faced money laundering charges. (Bloomberg)

“In 2008, Manafort was part of an $850 million plan involving Firtash and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to purchase the Drake Hotel in Manhattan and convert it into a luxury property.” (Bloomberg)

The deal never finalized, while the FBI regarded it askance as a classic money laundering operation. But it places Trump’s campaign chairman right in the orbit of Russian organized crime. Was Manafort put there by these influential men, to be a senior informant on the inside?

Now, despite having a huge team of the best lawyers his bottomless pockets can buy, Firtash (who personally posted $137 million bail to the Austrian court!) has reportedly just hired a couple of deadbeat lawyers, Trumpsucking TV pundits off of Fox News.

Why? Well, assumes Maddow, because they’re the same two lawyers Trump almost hired in 2017, a husband-and-wife act, only to change his mind later because they didn’t look as smart as they had on TV. It’s a move that’s sure to get Trump’s fleeting attention. But for what?

Deripaska, formerly on the US’s no-entry sanctions list, was removed from that list last December at the bidding of Trump’s principal enabler in the Senate, Republican leader Mitch McConnell; whose wife, Transport Secretary Elaine Chao, is now under investigation by a Congressional committee for illegally channelling shipping contracts to her father’s company.

Contracts that some media speculation suggests may have included the supply of narcotics, such as the addictive opioid, fentanyl – a poison that is killing over 60 thousand Americans a year.

Deripaska, Maddow points out, seems to have either persuaded or rewarded McConnell with a pledge to build a massive new aluminum smelting plant in his home state of Kentucky; while as previously reported, McConnell may have benefitted to the tune of more than $70 million from campaign donations from firms to which Chao has awarded contracts in her husband’s Senate constituency, ahead of the 2020 elections.

(And according to The Guardian, he’s also receiving campaign donations from two Brazilian companies involved in the burning of the Amazon rainforest; both part-owned by the $300bn US private equity management firm, Blackstone.)

Who is there to investigate all this criminality? The FBI is stretched to the limit. But I digress.

Maddow’s not improbable conclusion, therefore, is that Putin oligarchs free to come and go are once again bankrolling efforts to get Trump elected, in a rerun of 2016. And he seems perfectly happy to let it be known that he welcomes foreign interference.

Tonight, it’s reported, House speaker Nancy Pelosi may have finally cracked and is about to call for impeachment proceedings, after weeks of stonewalling her own party in the belief that an inquiry would only give Trump a hostage to Fortune.

It now seems she may have accepted the alternative argument: that letting him continually get away with breaking the law and acting in contempt of Congress is setting a dangerous precedent.

Possibly encouraged by our own landmark Supreme Court ruling today, that the Executive does not have primacy over the elected Parliament, and that the law permits neither an arbitrary prorogation nor barefaced lying to the Queen for electoral advantage, Ms Pelosi may be embarking on a perilous but ultimately decisive journey.

While the normally supine Senator Graham has jokingly suggested that if Biden’s son is to be investigated, so too should Trump’s sons, it seems unlikely that impeachment will reach the bar of 60% of both houses, whatever treachery, perjury and lies Trump may have committed.

The Pumpkin doubts that he will respect for one moment, the verdict of any inquiry; nor will he allow witnesses to obey subpoenas to testify. Ultimately he may even carry out his threat not to accept the result of next year’s general election if it goes against him.

He said that last time, too.

With the Justice department and the Attorney General in his pocket, there seems little to be done but to wait for the real God’s Executive Order to drag this horrible man with his Faustian pact down to the fires of hell.

Although, sadly, as the Pope has admitted, death is final. No such fiery fate awaits him: only the verdict of history, that this was surely the worst, most corrupt president America ever elected.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcT5gMPUR_w

 

Fast-moving news

A couple of hours after posting the above, news broke that speaker Pelosi has indeed shifted her ground and declared an “impeachment investigation” by the six House committees she controls. It’s not the same as an actual impeachment, but already Trump has hit back with his signature “It’s all a plot against me” whinge.

Which, actually, it is. Only a perfectly open and legitimate one. And you fucking asked for it.

Your Pumpkin was moved to tears by the reaction of the normally annoying and whooping Late Show audience when Stephen Colbert announced the news. They rose as one to their feet and gave it a standing ovation lasting well over a minute. We tend to disregard how much Trump is hated in many parts of America. We liberals deserve a break.

First, however, you need to catch your hare. And Trump is neither going to appear before any committees nor allow any of his people to testify. We feel sure he will simply ignore any subpoenas and go on the attack against Pelosi in person, appealing to his heavily armed dumbfucks for support.

One hope, Intel committee chair, Adam Schiff has announced that the Ukraine “whistleblower” has agreed to appear before the committee in private on Thursday to repeat the statement they gave to the Inspector General, evidence of Trump wrongdoing that “acting” Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire is illegally witholding from Congress on the orders of Trump’s lapdog in the Justice Department, AG Bill Barr.

Let’s hope they make it through the door alive.

 

Even faster-moving news

Hi again. 18.01, local British Summertime…. You remember back in March, when Trump’s Attorney General, Bill Barr released a three-and-a-half page “summary” of the conclusions of the Mueller report over a weekend, a month before he allowed the full 480-page report out, with redactions?

And how people then thought the real report must also have exonerated the president of collusion and obstruction when it absolutely had not?

But by then they were sick of hearing about it and couldn’t be bothered to read it and so we all moved on?

No, of course you don’t remember. But it happened Just So, Best Beloved!

Well, Trumpy has gone and done it again, releasing a 4-page copywritten summary which the White House is calling an actual transcript of the 35-minute phone call in which Trump and Ukrainian president Zelenskiy discussed digging dirt on the Bidens, father and son.

The release, which seems to show that the callow, ex-TV comedian Zelenskiy was happy to go along with it, and to prove that Trump never threatened to withold $390 million of US aid unless he did, is nevertheless bound to satisfy numerous wavering Trump supporters that, as the Republicans in the Senate are saying, there’s nothing to see here.

It might also have the effect of taking the wind out of the sails of the “whistleblower”, who is due to testify to the Intelligence Committee on Thursday (Trump says he is a spy who should be executed. He is cracking up.) . Why bother with the whole cloth, when you can make a pocket out of a sardine, as the Russians say?

(Actually, I made that bit up. So what? Prove it!)

Now, the law is absolutely clear: a matter of national security concern brought to the attention of the Inspector General by a whistleblower SHALL, within 7 days, be brought before the Congressional Intelligence Committee.

But I suspect it says nothing about a hastily concocted summary produced by the legal team advising the suspect, leaving out all the relevant bits we all want to know about and sounding disconcertingly fluent in the English language.

With yet another bound, he was free.

Senile as he appears to be, this Mafia-trained ex-property developer and conman from Queen’s is slipperier than an eel; more difficult to shackle and drown in a tank of water than Harry Houdini.

Don’t expect much, or anything really, from the impeachment proceedings, except more bullshit; more evasions and distractions and lies.

 

Aid memoir

Justifying his witholding of military aid from Ukraine to force them to “investigate” Joe and Hunter Biden, a connection his random mouthpiece, Giuliani has both denied and admitted, Trump was yesterday saying he was right to do it because Ukraine was a “corrupt” country and you shouldn’t give aid to a corrupt country.

(That’s regardless of the fact that Congress, not the President, technically controls the military aid budget.)

Today, however, he is saying he witheld US aid because other countries, especially Europe, were not sending aid and it was unfair the US should have the entire burden.

Fact-checkers immediately turned up an OECD chart, showing that European institutions (eg NATO) and countries, plus Japan, had on the latest figures (2016-17) together contributed five times as much in aid to Ukraine as the US had.

Yet again Trump will say just about anything, tell any lie, to justify his erratic foreign affairs policy and thuggish criminal behavior, for which impeachment hearings are finally grinding into gear.

The problem being, that despite his record low poll ratings that have consistently refused to climb much above 40%, and polling showing every single declared Democrat candidate to date, however unlikely to win the nomination, is considered more electable than Trump, there are 60 million voters who still refuse to understand – or to much care – what they elected in 2016.

Sixty million voters who support whatever he does, whatever it is, who believe anything he says, because they trust someone they see on TV pretending to be a business tycoon to know how to run the country, more than they trust experienced political administrators.

And they may yet be enough to see him through.

 

GW: several turns for the worse

Europe: “The disturbance everyone was watching out of Africa, Lorenzo is now a hurricane and is gradually moving into favorable environmental conditions, with low wind shear and warm 26-28 °C SSTs. Both will likely lead to a significant intensification after tomorrow. Lorenzo should become a category 3 storm on Friday” before its forecast track takes a turn north-eastwards, to – The Azores. They’re technically Europe. It could end up in Portugal thereafter, the Bay of Biscay, or the English Channel. (Severe-weather.eu)

Middle East: Tropical Cyclone Hikaa – now downgraded to TS – made landfall in Oman on 24 Sept., bringing strong winds, heavy rains, some flooding and coastal waves of 3 to 4 metres. Schools were closed, some transportation disrupted and around 750 people evacuated to shelters. (Floodlist)

Sri Lanka: At least 1 person has died and almost 80,000 affected by heavy rain, landslides and floods after a storm swept across the country from the evening of 23 September, 2019. 124 mm of rain was recorded in 24 hours over the capital, Colombo. The highest rainfall was recorded the following day in a suburb of Negombo city in Western Province, where 272.3 mm (11-in.) fell in 24 hours. Many rivers are well above flood stage and further heavy rain is forecast. (Floodlist)

Puerto Rico: Over 5-in of rain fell on the already stricken island, still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017, as TS Karen passed over on its way out into the Atlantic. The storm impacted Puerto Rico just as the island dealt with several earthquakes and numerous aftershocks. A 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck on Tuesday night, close to where a M6 had earlier been recorded offshore. More than 50 tremors have rattled the area within 24 hours. No major damage was reported.

Wunderground added that as the storm’s wetter southern edge passes over on the 25th: “Localized rains could top 8” across eastern Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra, and the Virgin Islands.” The NHC is forecasting Karen could reintensify at the end of the week with possibly Cuba or an east-coast US mainland hit in view.

Trinidad: After last weekend’s floods, officials in Trinidad and Tobago are urging locals in the village of Piparo to be prepared to evacuate. A mud volcano over a subduction zone under the village is showing signs of an impending eruption, which will threaten many homes. The Piparo mud volcano’s last eruption, in 1997, displaced 31 families.

USA: Remnant hurricane, now Tropical Storm Lorena, has been pounding Arizona with rain, floods, landslides and even a rare tornado for the time of year, after passing over Baja California out of the Eastern Pacific. Accuweather reports on downed power lines and scattered debris from damaged buildings in the capital, Phoenix.

Tens of thousands of Southern Californians have been put on alert that their power may be shut off as hot air and strong winds have led to a warning of more wildfires. Meanwhile, the Dehesa Fire outside of San Diego has grown to about 200 acres in size and is only 10% contained with evacuation orders and warnings issued for nearby neighborhoods, as of 24 Sept.  (Accuweather)

Imelda made it to Number 5 in the shit parade of the wettest tropical storms ever recorded on the US mainland. “The peak of 43.39″ at North Fork Taylors Bayou, Texas puts Imelda fifth among the heaviest single-point rain producers”, as noted by Capital Weather Gang. (Wunderground)

Switzerland: “Italian authorities have closed off roads and evacuated homes after experts warned that a portion of a Mont Blanc glacier is at risk of collapse.” The mayor of the town of Courmayeur blamed ‘strong change due to climatic factors’ after “experts said up to 250,000 cubic metres of ice was in danger of sliding off the Planpincieux glacier on the Grandes Jorasses peak.” The movement of the glacier has speeded up following successive annual heatwaves. (Guardian)

Tunnel approaching….

UN: One slightly hopeful sign that came out of the UN conference on climate change was a pledge by a number of large corporations to take up to two years to come up with some ideas for reducing their carbon footprint by 2050.

Actually, that’s not really hopeful at all, is it. In fact, it’s pants.

Especially when, as the New York Times records: “According to data from CDP, a British-based nonprofit group that collects environmental data from companies around the world and is one of the organizers of the pledge, emissions reported by some signatories have increased by 50 percent or more since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.”

Start as you mean to go on, I always say.

 

Wankers’ corner… Ha! Haaa!! Told you so!!!!!… Tories: a record… The threewheelin’ lifestyle… Dog daze… Fucking cheek department…GW: Texas engulfed…

Hi. I’m now totally confused as to which  BogPo this is, last Thursday’s or next week’s? Does it matter, when there’s always a feast of great writing to be guzzled down with your wine?

More is being added as we speak! But I’ve only got this far, sorry.

‘So tell me a bit more about how a dictatorship could work.’

“So tomorrow we invade Luxembourg!”

Wankers’ corner…

As millions of schoolchildren and others strike around the world on climate action day, tired Labour “leader” Jeremy Corbyn’s dimly illuminated brother Piers is leading a pathetic counter-march through London, a gaggle of climate-change deniers, most probably balding, retarded internet trolls day-released from their mothers’ basements, blinking in the unaccustomed sunlight.

From the press photographs it looks like only about nine shambling, embarrassed-looking humanoids in total have turned out in support, bearing an unpunctuated banner reading “Climate policy controls you not climate”, which can be taken several ways but perhaps lacks a little punch in the old persuasion department?

Good on you, Piers, for drawing attention to how stupid, feeble and anachronistic your dying little movement is.

Is there a particular Corbyn gene, I wonder, that turns out crusty and annoying old contrarians?

(But when will climate protesters understand, global heating and plastics pollution are NOT THE SAME ISSUE! From a PR point of view you need to fixate on one or the other or you’ll just confuse people.)

As millions of people came out on the streets following the Dateline across the globe to protest official inaction over the climate crisis, a long-lost cause in your Granny Weatherwax’s view but never mind, there’s no harm in trying, the story made the front page splash all day as a running commentary on the BBC News website.

But occupied only 10th place on the Most Read listing!

And unless you went to the Weather page, there was no mention at all of the terrible floods in Texas from Tropical Storm Imelda, on which Severe-weather.eu commented: “There are truly catastrophic scenes coming out from Houston and Galveston.”

Nearly 4 feet of rain has fallen over the Beaumont and Port Arthur area in two days, the same part of the state that saw immense rainfall only two years ago from Hurricane Harvey. Disaster has been declared. Several people have been killed, much property damaged.

It’s not as if this is in some remote part of Africa. It seems the news media is just not interested in real life events anymore.

Postscriptum (lots of these today):

I’m perhaps not being fair on Jeremy, who has cleaned up his 70-year-old student activist image and is looking managerial these days. I’ve just read a very interesting and sober article in the Guardian that says Britain’s financial community is starting to think he and John McDonnell would probably be a better bet to manage the economy and deal with Europe sensibly than Johnson’s dysfunctional, profligate, flailing administration and its fourth-rate ministerial team of chancers, liars, incompetents, careerists and balloon-animal artists.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/21/bankers-corbyn-tories-no-deal-capitalism-radical-government

Although, that being mooted, nevertheless there is the minor matter of Corbyn’s personal poll rating to get over. He’s currently at minus 60 – a historic low for a British politician, or maybe anywhere.

Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri at an Innotech hacking and data conference in London in October 2014.

“I say, you fellows, BoJo’s boobed again!”

(Mayor Johnson allegedly bankrolled his bling-encrusted American friend’s business venture, using London ratepayers’ money.)

 

Ha! Haaa!! TOLD YOU SO!!!!

“The question of why Wales voted to leave the EU can in large part be answered by the number of English retired people who have moved across the border, research has found.

“Work by Danny Dorling, a professor of geography at Oxford, found that the result could in part be attributed to the influence of English voters.” (Guardian)

Ha!!! Your Uncle Bogler has been saying this at every conceivable opportunity, to absolutely no effect, since Day One of the Brexit farrago. No-one has paid the slightest heed to my trollings!

Until, obviously, now. Only this guy gets paid to say it.

UK media has been lazily unaware of the seismic demographic shift that has taken place here in Wales over the past 20 years, and continues to bumble along, stupidly imagining that the majority of people living in Wales must ergo be Welsh.

We’re not! We’re settlers. Colonialists. Incomers. Saisneg.

And another clue maybe lies in the fact that the Welsh national party, Plaid Cymru, is virulently pro-Europe, but holds only one seat in the European Parliament. Leave in Wales was a vote against the Welsh Assembly.

Nor has the media made even one mention of the implication for Welsh ports of a No Deal Brexit leaving a “border” in the Irish Sea.

So is Wales really a Leave territory? Not entirely.

My friend Harry tells me, he went along to a live broadcast of the BBC’s Any Questions! here in Boglington the other night – an event of which your Uncle B. was totally unaware, as ever.

One of the panellists was the former Brexit Secretary, the lazy and dimwitted baboon, David Davis. When he was introduced, out of all the pundits on the show, he was the one who received a seething, hostile “Sssssssss!” from an audience composed almost entirely of academics and others linked to the local university.

For, thanks to the presence of so many people with an international perspective, students and staff, aware of how damaging to the universities sector this Brexit shitshow is already proving to be, our constituency was one of only two in Wales that voted solidly Remain.

I don’t know a single person here who didn’t. And when asked, all but one of the audience put their hand up to voting Remain; just as they had at a Comedy Club night I went to three years ago.

But then I don’t personally know all the dreary-looking, gray-haired, genetically damaged retirees, economic and cultural migrants fleeing the brown faces repopulating the English Midlands, static caravan-dwelling hordes who throng the supermarket aisles on Friday afternoons with their heavily laden trolleys and whining Brummie accents, like a reunion of the old UKIP members’ conference.

They look like Farage voters to a henpecked old man and hatchet-faced woman, although you never can tell. I certainly don’t feel safe among them and hold my counsel. I’d rather not be beaten to death with a sliced loaf.

Prof. Dorling concludes that actually, far from embittered northerners voting to sell Britain out to Trump and Putin, the private equity investment management community and the hedge funsters, most Leave voters were middle-aged, affluent southerners.

Blame the Cornish, he advises.

Poldarkness descends.

 

Tories: a record

8 million: people in Britain living in “unsuitable” housing.

1 million: people on local authority housing waiting lists.

83 thousand: homeless people in temporary accommodation.

8 thousand: govt. estimate of regular rough sleepers.

31: homeless young people who have died in sheltered accommodation in the last 2 years in Brighton alone.

216 thousand: empty domestic properties in Britain.

 

The threewheelin’ lifestyle

Whenever Hunzi decides to take me as far as the industrial estate that’s rapidly expanding on the other side of the exurban space that passes for our local park, a land of cycle paths and sports grounds and a particularly fetching, aromatic sewage works, we have to pass a new industrial unit housing a retail store where the theme is electrically powered cycles.

Fat tyres! Only this version is sadly not road-legal because it can go at 20 mph! It’s billed as a “mountain trike”. Useful.

Now, I’m a touch OCD and I tend to get hooked for months or years on impracticable enthusiasms. For instance, I’m desperate to own a campervan. Every time I see one in the carpark, which at this time of year is many, I will wander over and try to look in, to compare the interior fittings, the decor. Does it have a loo? A shower? Are the benches lined with hideous purple floral moquette? Would there be room for my jazz collection? Could I even lie down?

Two things prevent me from owning a campervan. One, unless I sell my little house I can’t afford one. They are insanely expensive, given that you can buy a secondhand Ford Transit, a mattress and a primus stove for a few hundred quid. DIY camping is not my style, however. I demand fittings. A satellite dish. Metal cutlery. A Polish waitress.

Added to which, there would be running costs. And secondly, I know deep down in my heart that I would almost never use it. I so rarely go anywhere nowadays. Where would I go? On my own? What for? I already live amid scenery.

But I would have a campervan! I could put up guests. And if the world ended, civilization collapsed, warlords roaming the urban canyons, rising sea level inundating the village, I could run for the hills in my second home. Even spend a weekend with Hunzi at the Brecon jazz festival!

Oh, I so want a campervan! I am practically in tears today because a beautiful VW Topaz Autosleeper in midnight blue that was for sale for weeks at my local car showroom has suddenly gone, and I didn’t win the lottery on Wednesday. (Okay, it was £35 thousand, and the bed looked to be only four feet long, but hey, it had a toilet!)

It’s like that with the electrically powered tricycle in black, outside the aforementioned store. See, it’s got fat tyres!

Electric vehicles are the future. One day, everyone will have one, by law. Why not me, now? I could sell the car, buy one and have change. Look, it has fat tyres and a large pannier on the back for all my shopping needs.

You don’t need to pay road tax or have insurance with one of these babes, although it might be wise to insure yourself. It can go for 70 miles at 15.5 mph without pedalling. That’s 35 trips to the supermarket and back, a whole month’s worth! And just imagine the queue of fuming motorists building up behind you!

But. Where would Hunzi sit? There’s nowhere, unless I bought a bike trailer for him. Would he be happy on his own, shut up in a flimsy trailer pod? It sometimes rains here, and there’s no cover. It could get very wet. And would my elderly prostate, the size of an orange, let me sit comfortably on a bike saddle?

A probable clincher, my little cottage abuts a main road. The electric tricycle wouldn’t pass through the front gate into the tiny garden. There’d be nowhere to securely park it, between daily trips to the supermarket.

The future of transportation? A somewhat eccentric Victorian machine, for popping to the shops.

I try to envision myself trundling about town on this somewhat eccentric, Victorian-looking machine, with its ladylike step-in frame. I can see how useful it will be in more dystopian times, when diesel cars are banned and the oil runs out, but now? I’d be practically the only person on the road with one.

Am I sufficiently ready to become a truculent and elderly, pioneering eccentric, like the safety-unconscious, obstreperously bearded Jeremy Corbyn lookey-likeys who ride those two-wheelers where you put on shorts, lie on your back and pedal with your legs in the air? Flying a little flag on a stick to beg sleepy Polish lorry drivers, please to not ignore your existence?

And then, unbidden, the image creeps into my mind, of me, on my electric tricycle, wearing a Pastafarian colander on my head instead of a safety helmet, and there the dream ends. For, how could you ride an electrically powered three-wheeler with fat tyres without a colander? The two just go naturally together.

Looking closer, I see that in fact, the face of the large man on the electrically powered three-wheeler with a colander on his head and a worried sheepdog in the trailer pod, trundling bitterly on squelchy fat tyres through the rain at 15.5 mph, shopping bags soggily perched in the pannier at the back, furious motorists honking behind, is not actually my face after all.

I’m more of a Bentley and good 3-star hotel with a Michelin-guide restaurant, Polish waitresses and a comfortable bed man, myself.

Postscriptum:

And lo! The very next morning in my email inbox Google have thoughtfully sent me an advertisement for… Wispa Bikes, “UK electric bicycle brand”…..

Go away, Google! Fuck off! Stop reading my stuff! This intrusive surveillance is intolerable. I have a right to a private life beyond what I publish. I am not this person who bogls!

Post-postscriptum:

Watching the industrial estate growing, with more and more large infill units opening “public welcome” trade counter-style operations, it occurs to me that press reports of our dying high streets are missing part of the story. I suspect these edge-of-town developments offering no-frills shopping with free parking may be bucking the trend towards internet home delivery.

 

Dog daze

Switching on the telly, I’m met with a BBC program about sheepdog trials, the venerable “One Man and his Dog”.

My Rottweiler, the Boot, used to love this show and would watch spellbound as, responding to a series of whistles, clever sheepdogs would round up sheep on remote hillsides and herd them into pens (“shedding”), earning points for efficiency.

Hunzi, my lovely Welsh Border Collie – the most popular breed of sheepdog – looked completely disgusted when I showed him the screen, turning his back on us and subsiding to the rug with a despairing grunt.

Then, if he had ever taken any interest in herding sheep into a pen, the farmer would never have given him to me. And if I had not just happened along that day, after we’d sold the cottage at the end of the farm track, the farmer would almost certainly have drowned or shot him, as a waste of good rats.

 

Fucking cheek department…

Another advertisement sent to my email in-tray by Messrs Google offers a 6-point “Investors’ Guide” to a No-Deal Brexit, from City investment management consultancy, Hargreaves-Lansdown.

Peter Hargreaves, the retired billionaire founder of Hargreaves-Lansdown, personally trousered over £600 million from his old firm betting on share price movements in the months following the Brexit referendum.

He had spent over £3 million backing the Leave campaign, arguing that “uncertainty” was good for the money business. The organizers now occupy seats and advisory positions in Johnson’s government, and are arguing that No-Deal will not damage the economy.

I’m sure it won’t. Not his, anyway. From Wikipedia:

“In 1986 he married Rosemary; they have one son and one daughter. They reside in a Georgian property in the West Country, where he grows his own vegetables.”

Leave voters, when will you wake up to what is being done to the country by these plotters? Or do you think your lives will somehow improve?

Better get investing, then.

 

GW: Texas enGulfed

USA: National Weather Service (NWS) in Houston said unofficial rainfall totals for a 60-hour period to 19 September showed Fannet in Jefferson County, Texas received 43.15 inches (1,096mm) of rain, as Tropical Storm Imelda stalled over southern Texas and Louisiana, 20 Sept., “firehosing” warm water out of the Gulf in a mini-repeat of Hurricane Harvey, two years ago – from which the states are still recovering.

Rivers are overflowing, parts of the road network around Houston are completely inundated and people are being ordered to stay indoors wherever they are, or to seek higher ground.

3 people have been killed and states of “disaster” declared in 13 counties. It’s already the 7th wettest storm in US history and it’s still raining, Houston reporting rates of 3-4 in. per hour, prompting some weather forecasters to speculate that it could catch up to the wettest, Harvey, that dumped 60.3 inches near Beaumont and Port Arthur in 2017.

(The above from Floodlist/Accuweather.) Severe-weather.eu adds: “There are truly catastrophic scenes coming out from Houston and Galveston.”

Accuweather also reported another familiar story: “Damaging thunderstorms will track through the northern Plains ahead of a push of cooler air at the end of the week.” Tornadoes are expected too.

Oh, and I’m wondering why these horrendous events have gained no traction today in the centrist media? The Guardian website, updated hourly, for instance makes no mention of the real catastrophe unfolding in Texas, affecting real people, but features numerous speculative articles instead about Ms Thunberg’s strike and its political importance for the working class.

Atlantic: “The second major hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic season, Humberto roared past Bermuda Wednesday night as a Cat. 3 storm with 120 mph winds. The powerful right-front eyewall battered (the island) with sustained winds well in excess of hurricane force as the eye passed 75 miles to the north, near 8 pm EDT.” (Wunderground)

Meanwhile, forecast weakening Cat 2 to Cat 1 Hurricane Jerry, battling wind shear, is just passing the Leeward Islands, where storm warnings have been issued, on a curving track heading northwestwards away from the US coast towards Bermuda. (Accuweather) Three more tropical depressions are threatening heavy rainfall events for Caribbean islands over the weekend into next week.

Forecasters are getting excited about a somehow “different from usual” tropical wave among several spotted coming out of Africa, that before it has even reached the Cape Verde islands where Atlantic hurricanes generally breed, they have got tagged for development as a potential “major hurricane”. (Severe-weather.eu) (It’s now a TS, named Lorenzo. 24 Sept.)

Mexico: Compact “Tropical Cyclone Lorena made landfall near Playa Pérula, Jalisco, on 19 Sept. before moving across Baja California, bringing floods to Arizona. NHC warned that Lorena was expected to produce rainfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches, with maximum amounts around 8 inches. (Floodlist/NASA) Tropical Storm Mario was reported south of Lorena over the Eastern Pacific, on pretty much the same track.

Trinidad and Tobago: “Heavy rain, strong winds and rough seas brought by Tropical Storm Karen have caused severe damage in the dual-island nation in the Caribbean. Strong winds downed trees and power lines, blocking roads and causing power and telecommunication outages.” (Floodlist) Meanwhile in Haiti, at least 2 people have died and 4 are missing after flash floods in Ouest department, after torrential rain from 18 Sept. More than 20 houses were destroyed.

Japan: Not that you’d know it from reports of the Rugby World Cup, a major event, but at least 1 person was killed and another 19 injured in Okinawa as Typhoon Tapa passed over, headed for Kyushu island – scene of astonishing amounts of rainfall in the past three years. By 22 Sept. 400 mm of precipitation was reportedly falling on the island per day. Over 400 regional flights were cancelled. Rugby organisers have issued warnings and closed two venues as a precaution.

Singapore: Drivers preparing for the weekend’s F1 Grand Prix are having to contend with some of the worst air pollution the island has experienced, because of forest burning for palm oil in neighboring Indonesia. (Guardian)

(Your Old Gran opines that, were she the Sultan of Singapore, she would immediately declare war on her neighbors and angrily bomb the bejasus out of them. This annual criminal destruction of habitat for so many threatened species surely can’t be tolerated?)

Greece: “Heavy rainfall late during the evening of 19 Sept., caused flash floods in areas around the city of Thessaloniki. 2 people were rescued from vehicles trapped in flood waters.” Hail flattened a large area of farm crops. (Floodlist)

UK: Flood alerts were issued for parts of England 24 Sept, as heavy rain continued to cause disruption for commuters. The Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for much of England and Wales, saying up to 70 mm of rain had fallen overnight in some parts.

Wales, UK: It is 00.05 hours (five-past midnight) on the morning of 22nd September, 2019. According to the digital thermometer in my front garden, here on the west coast, the day’s top temperature had been 26.9C. It is still 20.2C at the time of writing.

Arctic: A blast of warm air pushing up into the region past the British Isles and Iceland will displace a pool of very cold air into the continent, extending down as far as North Africa. Surface temperatures 10 to 20 deg. C above normal for Greenland will still be at or just below freezing, however. (Severe-weather.eu)

Tunnel approaching…

Yellowstone: is wreathed in dense fog, caused by cold air settling over warm ground, while 4 wildfires are being monitored in the park. Unreported drumbeats, harmonic tremors, small quakes, rising gases, Tornillo “screw wave” signatures on the seismographs. (Greeley) Also, she reports Hawaii’s Kilueia volcano’s notorious new rift, 8, that erupted so violently last year, is showing signs of life again.

 

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

Quote of the week

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

 

Phenomenal BogPo Prophesies Corner:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give us a break, Donald.

 

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

“Miss you, Mr Mercer” – with any luck

From BBC News, 24 April:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wake up, BBC dimwits.

 

AI-up, robots!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How cool was that?

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

Now, that was one hell of a story!

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

 

GW: Kickin’ up a storm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fracking hell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pumpkin – Issue 64: Trump’s ultimate stay out of jail card… Nobody normal… Breaking the Family China… Hurricane watch – GW: Pick me up and whirl me around!… Buzzfeed News.

“He had already opined that a sitting President cannot be indicted for federal crimes.”

Trump’s ultimate stay out of jail card

The news that broke from Washington on Friday evening was neither news, nor really breaking, which implies something unexpected had happened.

The Congressional committee vetting the Presidential nomination for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court had voted, as everyone expected, to send the name of Judge Brett Kavanaugh forward to the Senate for ratification.

The Republican-controlled Senate.

Mr Kavanaugh, as everyone now knows, had been accused by multiple women of various sexual assaults, including participating in gang-rapes of drugged sophomores while at Yale, supposedly one of America’s finest Ivy League institutions.

By dint of allowing only one complainant to make her case before the committee, a Dr Blasey Ford, the bullyboys of the Congress avoided the need for further embarrassing hearings. Given the proximity of mid-term elections, it was all to be done on one day.

Kavanaugh himself described the proceedings as “a national disgrace” and (Trump’s line) a Democrat plot – there being nothing like a judge’s summing up to nobble a jury, especially in a case against himself.

Kavanaugh is also reputedly an alcoholic. When asked in the hearing if he had ever passed out through drink, an obvious disqualifier, he shot back insolently at his (female) Democrat questioner: “No, have you?”

Indeed, much of his emotionally overwrought evidence to the committee, some of which is already being dissected in the media as false, and his reliance on his churchgoing family as an alibi – (he claimed his little daughter had asked him to “pray for the woman, daddy”, at which point the entire female population of the planet collectively threw up) – suggested he was not really suitable to be hearing cases in the highest court in the land, but has an immature personality, an overly religiose affiliation and an overentitled, Ivy League view of the world.

Oh, and he’s probably a bit of a liar, no.

Surely, with these mounting accusations hanging over him, any honorable candidate would at least have offered to recuse himself, rather than bring the court into disrepute, with the possibility of multiple inquiries and suspicions continuing into the far future? The court, I suppose, that already contains Judge Clarence Thomas, who has labored under accusations of sexual impropriety for years.

Why would anyone in future respect the verdicts of such a flawed institution?

Not unlike his nominator, Mr Trump, who stands accused by no fewer than 19 women of sexual contact (he says it’s four), and who has almost certainly committed further criminal offences in using campaign funds to buy off “kiss-and-tell” stories from other women, yet has accused the four women who have come forward so far to testify against Judge Kavanaugh as being liars in the pay of Clinton’s Democrats.

Oh, please Donald, put a sock in it.

Sadly, the other judges on the bench don’t get a say in whether or not this plausibly slimy individual gets to bring the reputation of the court waltzing into the realms of la-la land.

In view of the lack of “corroborating” witnesses, who hadn’t been invited, and under severe pressure from the President, the committee was able to shrug off the perfectly believable accusation, arguing that while Dr Ford was probably being truthful, she could not prove it was the 17-year-old Kavanaugh who had attempted to rape her at a school dance; although she had testified under oath that she was “100 per cent” sure.

Mr Trump has been incredibly fortunate. Few Presidents get to nominate two partisan conservative judges in their first 600 days in office. There was, to be sure, something fishy about the resignation of Judge Anthony Kennedy, since Supreme Court judges are appointed for life, and he is still very much alive.

But for Trump, who knew nothing much else about him, notwithstanding his frequent protestations that the judge is “a wonderful man”, there was something special about Kavanaugh.

He had already opined that a sitting President cannot be indicted for federal crimes.

Trump’s lifelong modus operandi has been to commit quasi-criminal acts and then to divert attention from them by blame-shifting onto others, or by arguing that even if he had done something bad, others had done worse; or failing that, simply by muddying the waters. If he can, he will engineer things so that he cannot be easily prosecuted – as with his serial dismissals of FBI agents and his threats to withdraw security clearances from individuals who could testify against him.

His final getout has always, of course, been to buy off his accusers.

He is unintelligent, it’s true, and poorly informed, but he has low cunning in spades. From the moment of his dubious election Trump set off around the country, starring in rabble-rousing rallies at least once a week, pandering to the worst instincts of his supporters.

Through his rambling speeches, he carefully set up a number of “straw men”: his long-gone opponent, “Crooked” Hillary Clinton – no evidence of crimes has been laid at her door, but the crowd still likes to chant the old slogan from the campaign trail, “Lock her up”. The Democratic party, forever plotting against him. The lying press, the “enemy of the people” (except for outlets he likes, Fox News, the Cartoon Channel, and so on.) The bumbling Intelligence services, always getting everything wrong.

And even the law enforcement community: the FBI, and the Justice Department. They’ve all been a big letdown, are traitors, and maybe there are conflicts of interest, who knows?

So that whenever he needs something, he can blame any setbacks on the phantom conspiracy against him, the Deep State. And, by extension, claim that women who come forward with credible allegations of sexual assault are merely plotting with the Democrats or Hillary Clinton, or the “fake news” media, to destroy Donald Trump: the revered object of his dumbfucks’ disillusionment with the American Dream he pretends to embody.

It’s classic Mein Kampf tactics, but not everyone has read that whiny little prison book, and thinks instead there must be something in what their President says.

His endorsement of Judge Kavanaugh has, as he has made abundantly clear, nothing whatever to do with the man’s record as a judge – indeed, it’s not really clear: Kavanaugh has refused to allow his ten thousand pages of court records to be taken into consideration.

If you went for a top job and insisted on redacting your CV with no explanation, how far would you get?

It is instead entirely consistent with Trump’s frenetic campaign to discredit any and everyone involved in the multiple investigations of treason, obstruction of justice, egregious breaches of Foreign Emoluments law, conspiring with a foreign power to fix an election and lesser, mainly financial, crimes against him, his family, and his campaign team

Desperate to make them go away, by his frankly inappropriate partisan interventions the President has succeeded in polarizing public opinion around the issue of this really rather inappropriate judge character, and his refusal to back down, despite the risk of dragging the already tarnished image of the Supreme Court of the world’s leading nation into the gutter, purely out of personal pride.

Worse, in the view of The Pumpkin, is that the storm surrounding the allegations of abusive and inappropriate sexual conduct in his college days, allegations that are truthfully hard to stand up, is possibly obscuring many other reasons why this sanctimonious, overprivileged little redfaced shit ought not to take his place on the bench.

There must be a question mark over his professional credentials, his career record. But nobody seems to be interested in his legal qualifications while the sex thing, that was frankly years ago, is still swirling around.

In the 2017 case of Garza v. Hargan, Kavanaugh – an evangelical Christian – was the standout judge ruling against the right of a 17-year-old immigrant, anonymised as Jane Doe, to consult a doctor about an abortion, despite abortion being legal in Texas to 20 weeks; and despite a prior circuit court ruling that she should have the abortion.

The girl had been forcibly taken into protective custody and was being held against her will by anti-abortionists who were preventing her from receiving medical attention unless she agreed to carry the baby to term.

Kavanaugh’s position was that they should wait while a prospective adoptive mother was found, and he deliberately set the next hearing for a date in the 19th week of her pregnancy. (MSNBC reports.) His Christian and pro-life supporters have described the decision as “compassionate”. (Politico)

The Pumpkin would venture to suggest a different adjective.

Barbaric.

Kavanaugh, who is only 53, may now join Trump’s previous nomination, Judge Neil Gorsuch, on the bench for life. Gorsuch, who has been the career-long protege of the multibillionaire oil-to-entertainments mogul Phil Anschutz, is notorious for having never once ruled in favor of an individual appellate against a corporation.

“The case took seven years and went before seven judges but in the end, Detroit native Alphonse Maddin celebrated victory against the delivery firm that had fired him for seeking warmth after his truck broke down on a dangerously cold winter night. Of the seven judges, six sided with Maddin but one found in favor of the company and wrote a scathing dissent.”

Mr Justice Gofuck.

That version of the story ignores that a) it was 30C below freezing when Maddin was running out of diesel after his rig broke down in the snow, so he detached the trailer and set off in the cab to find some gas; and b) he’d been told to wait for a rescue truck, but it couldn’t get through, so he acted on initiative. Had his engine cut out, he would have frozen to death within half an hour.

And yet the anal retentive Gorsuch, cosseted all his life by another man’s money, who has likely never done a day’s labor other than jerking his own prick, could not bring himself to rule with judicial wisdom and commonsense in favor of the working man and against an unfair contract of employment. Why not? Working men built the goddam country.

The Supreme Court is truly compromised if – when – Kavanaugh is confirmed. It already contains Judge Clarence Thomas, accused of sexual impropriety against a female clerk. In his case, too, a woman’s reputation was regarded as not worth putting ahead of that of an important man – especially a black one.

Justice? You’re kidding. It’s about power. Corporate power. Male power.

But at least Trump can sleep easier, knowing that if he is indicted for crimes of money-laundering, sanctions-busting and racketeering, as soon as the case reaches the Supreme Court he’s home free.

What Special Counsel, Bob Mueller will make of it is anybody’s guess.

http://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/06/trump-supreme-court-pick-kavanaugh-immigrant-abortion-teen-700856

PS in a dramatic development, a woman protestor cornered the occasionally moderate Rep. Sen. Geoff Flake in the elevator and persuaded him to vote against the confirmation unless there was a further investigation of the allegations (and other matters) against Kavanaugh. Backed into a corner, knowing that 60% of the women in America would otherwise vote Democrat in November, Trump ordered the FBI to look into it. Sen. McConnell then imposed a rigid 7-day deadline on the investigation, virtually guaranteeing nothing much will come of it.

Watch, space.

x

“Christie called up Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to ask why this critical job (to attend a legally required White House briefing for senior staff of all parties involved in planning the Presidential race) had not been handed to someone who actually knew something about government.

“‘We don’t have anyone,’ said Lewandowski.”

xNobody normal

An entertaining Long Read feature in The Guardian (27 Sept.) by Michael Lewis, extracted from his, the latest of many Donald demolition books and one I shall certainly have to add to my collection next week, takes us on the bumpy, scary flight through the critical two-month transition between Trump’s unexpected election in November, 2016 and his assuming the role of worst President in world history, ever.

Anyone who still doubts the truth of that assertion after all that’s been written about him and wants to give him the benefit of their kindhearted doubt, should understand: it’s not that malicious and misinformed liberal media hacks conspiring with sour-grapes Hillary and the Democrats have claimed without evidence that Trump was totally not expecting to win the election, not competent to run the country and knew less than nothing about what was supposed to happen if he did win – and wouldn’t listen to anyone who tried to tell him, and still doesn’t.

No. It is that Trump really was totally not expecting to win the election, actually is less competent to run the country than practically anyone you could think of, he really did know less than nothing about what was supposed to happen if he won – and he absolutely wouldn’t listen to anyone who tried to tell him, and still doesn’t.

And if you feel like scoffing and hooting, don’t be silly, nobody that unprepared would run for President, he’s a successful business tycoon handling major projects, there must have been people in the Republican party who knew how to run a campaign, they would never have adopted as a candidate, a 70-year-old, subliterate, fourth-grade spoilt brat, a superannuated, pussy-grabbing playboy who can barely tie his shoelaces, a lazy “fuckin’ moron” who would fail to impress most sentient humans he employed, a Great Negotiator who would wander out of summit meetings forgetting who he was talking to, and a man has told over 5 thousand recorded lies in 600 days, well, I’m afraid you’re too good for this world.

This book will add tonnes to the groaning weight of evidence that the ignorant, arrogant, thin-skinned and unreconstructed narcissist, Trump was and remains wholly unfit to remain in the White House; where in recent weeks, aided and abetted only by the scheming college vampire and lifelong racist, Stephen Miller – one of the very few slithy toves left from the alt-right swamp of the original Bannon “kill everything” squad – he has set about comprehensively severing America from its global moorings and sailing it rudderless into the unknown.

No wonder he’s such a fan of Brexit.

And the main reason he is unfit, judging by the narrative of Lewis’ book, is that he failed utterly to pull around himself the security of a team of competent men and women who might not have had to submit to his grotesque and insecure demands for constant grovelling adulation; his biting sarcasm and bullying, his screaming tantrums and refusal to listen to any advice but that of the little halfwitted Fox News anchors yarping incessantly on his TV screens – or occasionally that of the incompetent bunglers, religious maniacs, sexual and financial deviants, wife-beaters and snakes-in-the-grass he did manage to appoint.

Which was apparently almost anyone who could write in with an actual CV, or to whom the party owed a favor.

You could walk into almost any department of the US government and hear people asking the same question: where were these people who were meant to be running the place?

Formerly a State prosecutor, Christie, the heavyweight Governor of New Jersey, in 2005 had put Jared Kushner’s father away for five years after a trial on tax charges, from which the minor detail emerged that Charlie had engaged in a little witness-tampering, blackmailing his brother-in-law, a prosecution witness in the case, by compromising him with a prostitute in a motel room and, when he wouldn’t co-operate, sending the tape to his own sister.

It kind of set the tone for what was to follow.

Whatever the justice of the sentence, Kushner Jr had to swallow green bile when Christie, a long-term “friend” of the Donald, stepped in to lend his considerable avoirdupois to rescuing the campaign from electoral oblivion; especially when the Access Hollywood “pussy grabbing” tape emerged. His presence caused a certain amount of tension in a White House denuded of expertise, know-how and useful contacts, already stricken with panic. He didn’t really fit in.

Christie had to contend not only with opposition from the family, but with Trump’s legendary eccentricities; one of which is a lifelong belief that, whosever it actually belongs to, the money is his. Lewis tells the amazing story of how, summoned to the private Trump floors in New York’s gilded tower – Trump hadn’t apparently yet realized that as President he would be obliged to work and live in a cramped little four-storey slum in stuffy Washington DC, that he would never be allowed to develop, or affix his name over the pofrtico – Steve Bannon stepped from the gold-paneled elevator to find the boss red-faced and screaming in fury at Christie.

“Oi wants me fuckin’ minney!” The Pumpkin’s management style leaves a little to be desired.

Obama’s preparations to hand over the government had been superb … What could go wrong?

The rule is that, to ensure a smooth handover of power, the top 500 jobs in government need to be filled by the incoming team before the day of the inauguration. While the Government covers expenses – offices, cars, phones – the candidate has to pay the staff out of donor funds. Trump didn’t know that. He didn’t seem to be aware even of the need for staff: he had always run a lean business.

He had not, of course, put one cent of his own money into the campaign, despite the lies he repeatedly told the adoring dumbfucks at his Nuremberg rallies. Nor did his HR department actually know 500 people, or indeed any with the experience to assume those positions, other than the ones working for Obama, who were now streaming out of the building.

Notwithstanding, his fundraisers had raised a budget of several million dollars for the purpose of staffing the administration. Yet President-elect, Orange Chump seems to have mistaken the funds for his own personal bank account. Lewis writes:

“Bannon stepped off the elevator to find Christie seated on a sofa, being hollered at. Trump was apoplectic, yelling: You’re stealing my money! You’re stealing my fucking money! What the fuck is this? Seeing Bannon, Trump turned on him and screamed: Why are you letting him steal my fucking money? Bannon and Christie together set out to explain to Trump, federal law. … To which Trump replied: Fuck the law. I don’t give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money.”

And that, dear Trumpologist, absoltely puts it in the proverbial nutshell: “I don’t give a fuck about the law, I want my fucking money”.

It is the perfect distillation of the entire gameplan of the permatanned bankrupt criminal entity millions of opiate-deadened Americans, gun-toting bigots and religious crazies chose to become the Leader of the Free World: a man unfree, trapped between the law and his desperate need for money; a man deeply in hock to the Russian mob.

People don’t understand that a bungled transition becomes a bungled presidency.”

You see, he is insane. Not just a bit rough around the edges, understandably lacking detailed knowledge of the demands of the job, the law, government, the constitution – in a typically feeble report this morning, the BBC’s John Sopoor referred to Trump as a “politician”, but he isn’t and never has been and never will be that.

Polticking is not his way of doing things; which is basically, to break people’s arms and legs if he doesn’t get whatever he wanted, that he just lost interest in. He’s only ever played at being a wealthy business buffoon who inherited and lost money and didn’t pay much attention in school, a bullshit billionaire (he once let slip to daughter Ivanka that he was $8 billion in debt – see the interview at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCer9g-fh8o).

A tragically flawed character? No, more clinically non compos mentis. Psychologically profoundly damaged. Incapable of rational cognition; lacking boundaries, self-awareness or moral scruple; a sociopath driven entirely by his basal ganglia – the “reptilian brain”.

Nobody normal behaves like that, a child stamping its foot forever, from whom you’ve just taken a loaded revolver in case someone gets shot, and he wants it back; and he will never forget you did that.

Do they?

The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis is published by Penguin Books on 02 October. Order now! I have….

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/sep/27/this-guy-doesnt-know-anything-the-inside-story-of-trumps-shambolic-transition-team

 

Smashing the Family China

Possibly the oddest war in history may be about to break out.

Relations between far-distant China and Sweden (“Sweden! Who knew, Sweden!” – © D Trump) have descended into a series of unflattering tit-for-tat exchanges.

The two nations are yelling at one another over a strange incident in which a family of Chinese tourists, we are led to believe, turned up a day early at the Stockholm hotel they’d booked, and being refused a room, insisted on camping overnight in the lobby.

After failing to persuade them to go away and come back the next day, staff called the police, who escorted the Chinese outside. The visitors then began kicking-off and screaming in the street at the top of their lungs, protesting they were being kidnapped.

The son later made a complaint that the police had roughed them up, and the embassy intervened with a fullblown diplomatic rebuke to the Swedish government, which had enough problems at the time as it was during an election period in which the Western media were agog to see if the world’s most liberal nation was about to turn fascist.

A deluge of anti-Chinese memes from the public, and a poorly judged ten-minute satirical slot on mainstream Swedish TV alluding to the eating of dogs and other unsavory Oriental habits, have further served to rack-up the tension.

The Washington Post comments:

“Some observers suspect ulterior motives. Analysts see a link between the Chinese government’s vehement reaction and the fact that Sweden has been pushing for the release of Gui Minhai, a China-born publisher with Swedish citizenship who has been detained since January after publishing unflattering books about Chinese leaders.”

It certainly looks like a put-up job, involving a cast of what poor mad Alex Jones of Infowars would undoubtedly term ‘crisis actors’. The Chinese are ludicrously sensitive, given their size and growing economic power, their four thousand years of culture, to any hint of criticism. Indeed, internet memes have been taken down, of Supreme Leader Xi being compared with the chubby, lovable Pooh Bear Disney character, to whom he bears an obvious resemblance. If he can’t take a little affectionate ribbing, what hope is there for continuing reform?

More seriously, the rate of imprisonment or worse of critics labelled as dissidents: human rights lawyers, artists and journalists, even political opponents branded without much evidence as corrupt, certainly not as corrupt as their accusers, has been increasing rapidly.

Concerns are being raised over the fate of China’s leading international movie star, Fan Binbing, who has not been seen in public for several weeks; while news of her birthday, normally celebrated by millions of fans on internet sites such as Weibo, has been suppressed.

The Cleveland Courier reported:

“She was booked to star with Penelope Cruz in the Hollywood film “355” and has a role in the upcoming Bruce Willis-Adrien Brody feature ‘Air Strike’. Yet for nearly three months, Fan hasn’t been seen or heard from in public in any verifiable way. One of China’s wealthiest entertainers, Fan pulled down tens of millions of dollars for her roles, along with handsome sums in appearance fees and product endorsements. Some of those contracts may have landed her in hot water with the authorities.”

While The Guardian story points to what appears to be some private jealousy on the part of powerful State officials at her growing influence and wealth – and possible involvement in “a public scandal over actors underreporting their earnings”, which she had previously denied.

“An article in the official Securities Daily in August said she had been ‘placed under control and will accept legal judgement’. The story was quickly removed, and any mentions of it were scrubbed from Chinese social media along with Fan’s name.”

It’s pretty disturbing when someone so prominent can simply be made to disappear. (We’ll assume she hasn’t just been kidnapped by Kim Jong-un to make a picture in Pyongyang (that has happened before!)).

It illustrates that China is not really the great new consumer society opening up to the world, as the PR image portrays it. In reality, it remains the nasty, small-minded, thuggish dictatorship it always was, riddled with corruption, illegality and human rights abuses at the highest levels.

And they eat dogs.

 

Hurricane watch

GW: Pick me up and whirl me around!

The hurricane/typhoon/cyclone (all the same thing) season is well under way. Weather-watchers in Australia are bogling at the emergence of Tropical Storm Liua, expected to become a Cat 2 cyclone bringing heavy rain to the Solomon Islands, as it is “exceptionally rare” for a southwest Pacific cyclone to develop as early as September, the season not normally beginning in the southern hemisphere until November. In fact it hasn’t happened for 70 years. The forecast track has it possibly affecting north island, New Zealand later next week. (Various regional news outlets)

‘Enormous’ Typhoon Trami seen from the International Space Station, 26 Sept.

Typhoon Trami is no longer at the moment a ‘supertyphoon’ as windspeeds have dropped from 160 to about 105 mph owing to a replacement of the eyewall, a 30 mph dry wind shear and the churning up of colder water from depth. However, it’s enormous – still 400 miles from Okinawa, it’s already causing heavy rainfall as far north as Japan’s southerly main island of Hokkaido, where it’s expected to arrive possibly as a strengthened Cat 2 or even 3 on Sunday with potential for 20 inches or more of rain. (Wunderground/CNN)

Post-tropical Storm Leslie is puzzling everyone as it is stuck, going round in circles over the Gulf Stream in mid-Atlantic, picking up energy but no rotational organization. Wunderground’s Dr Jeff Masters is still expecting it to do something more interesting, windspeeds strengthening at least temporarily to at least Cat 2 hurricane force. The forecast tracks are a blur but suggest some southwestward movement toward Bermuda. “We may be dealing with Leslie for a long while to come”, writes Jeff.

Nearing the Lesser Antilles, off-on Tropical Storm Kirk has reorganized. “Kirk’s structure improved on Wednesday morning, with a growing convective core and improving outflow at upper levels. Kirk is traveling over warm waters (sea surface temperatures around 29°C or 84°F) that extend to some depth, and wind shear is less than 10 knots, so Kirk might intensify a bit more and approach (or perhaps reach) hurricane strength by Wednesday night or Thursday. Kirk has only a brief window of time for intensification, though, as it will soon encounter the wall of wind shear that’s kept the Caribbean free of tropical cyclones in recent weeks.” (Wunderground)

Update Friday: Tropical storm warnings were flying on Thursday afternoon for the Lesser Antilles islands of Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique, and Guadeloupe as Tropical Storm Kirk cruised west-northwest at 14 mph through the island chain. With top winds of just 50 mph at 2 pm EDT Thursday, Kirk was primarily a heavy rain threat, with up to 10” of rain expected across much of the region. Kirk’s center will pass over or very near the island of Martinique by late afternoon Tuesday.  (Wunderground)

Update Saturday: TS Kirk dumps between 6 and 10 inches of rain on Barbados in under 15 hours

After reaching Cat 4, Hurricane Rosa has made its northwestwards turn outward of the Mexico coast and is progressing at 14 mph towards Baja California. “Life-threatening surf” conditions are predicted. Wunderground’s view is it will weaken over the coast before heading inland, dropping 2-3 in. of rain over the Arizona desert, pushing yet another storm front up through the midwestern “corn belt” into Minnesota and Michigan, where they must be getting fed up with this. Amateur weather watcher, MrMBB333 points out, it is quite an unusual track for an eastern Pacific hurricane to take.

Update Friday: Rosa is rapidly strengthening about 550 miles southwest of the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Paninsula. With top sustained winds of 105 mph Rosa is feeding on very warm waters and a moist surrounding atmosphere amid light wind shear less than 10 knots. These conditions favor Rosa becoming the seventh major hurricane of the season. (Wunderground) Massive flooding already affecting Cabo San Lucas, southern Baja.

Invest 98-L meanwhile – “zombie Florence” – fell apart over North Carolina, limiting rainfall to just another inch or so. The remnants are heading back out to sea. (ABC News/Wunderground)

Infared satellite image showing Zorbas’ distinct hurricane “eye” as it heads toward Crete, Saturday 29th.

And in Europe, Medicane Zorbas… Greek authorities have issued a Red alert for Kefalonia and the SE. “An intense cyclone is confirmed – severe wind and life-threatening flash floods are expected in some areas.” (Severe-weather.eu). Satellite imagery shows sustained winds of 85 mph gusting to over 100 mph around a formal “hurricane” eye. Such an organized cyclone is very rare in Europe but consistent with the general misbehavior of cyclones in 2018.

Medicane Zorbas arriving off Kytheria island.

Friday update: Gale force winds have already battered Greece this week, forcing authorities to shut down ferries and schools and causing flight delays. The strong winds toppled trees on to power lines in the northern suburbs of Athens, with the fire department saying it received more than 350 calls to remove debris. Schools remain shut. On the western island of Kefalonia, schools were evacuated near a wildfire that was being fanned by the strong winds. The last medicane in Greece, dubbed Cyclone Numa, killed 21 people. (from Metro report)

Update Saturday: the wildfire in Kefalonia is burning “out of control”, fanned by severe storm force winds. (Keep Talking Greece news)

More “messy sky” syndrome. The skyscape here changes with bewildering rapidity, yet there’s little wind.

Canada: 21 Sept. 6 confirmed tornadoes, one at F3 (out of 5), touched down in the Ottawa area causing severe damage and lengthy power outages. The federal agency says the unexpected tornadoes — 3 in eastern Ontario and 3 in western Quebec – reached gusts of up to 265 kilometres per hour as they destroyed houses, buildings and power lines. Several people were injured. Ottawa U. climatologist, Paul Beckwith says the shifting jetstream is changing the normal distribution of tornadoes in Canada and the USA.

Are they spying on us? Blobby clouds materiallze, grow fat and then dissipate again, vanishing back into the ether. Is there more water vapor in the atmosphere these days, thanks to warming?

UK: Is a giant, 1200-mile wide, 85mph storm out in the Atlantic going to arrive over these isles next week? Are we being told?

Here in Boglington-on-Sea we have wall-to-wall clear blue sky and unseasonally warm early Autumn conditions; although a gossamer-thin layer of very high altus cloud can just be made out via polarizing lenses, filtering the sunlight a little. Nevertheless, we say nyah-nah! to the naysayers. (I can’t decide whether to buy a home weather station or a pollution monitor, financially it’s a toss-up. But it’s The Pumpkin’s birthday next week, so we’ll have to decide. Generally nowadays he has to buy his own presents.)

Friday update: blue sky again today – but those weird little blobs (imagine a 9-year-old kid’s drawing of clouds) and messy sky syndrome returned yesterday afternoon, and again yesterday morning, and again on Saturday (lower, right) when the sky went from clear blue, to a few shining blobs, to looming masses of blobs, to completely clear again in under an hour. Some jet trails did not appear to be attached to any aircraft we could see or hear. Take it from me, there’s some higher intelligence operating here, of wot we wit not.

In case anyone believes the Express is a reliable source of weather information, today’s headline screams of “SNOW Forecast!” as an “Arctic blast” hits Scotland. Further in to the story it turns out the Met office says a cold, windy, rainy front is expected over the weekend. Turns out, it’s only the bookmakers who are taking bets on “a flake or two”. I.o.w., more Express bullshitty clickbait.

Pictured, right: we’ve had more than two months of these mysterious ‘blobby clouds’ like a child’s drawing, often appearing low in the sky on sunny days in ones and twos, growing and clustering together, often in serried rows or forming “trains”, before vanishing just as mysteriously leaving a clear blue sky.

Or is it always like this, and your Uncle Bogler, the man with the cameraphone, is going mad?

 

 

 

Article in progress, about the elections in Brazil and the threat posed by the front runner to the rainforest

The ends of the earth (provisional title – do we really want to run this here? Ed.)

“Deforestation rates have been trending mostly upward since 2012 and will surely escalate if a raft of proposed laws and regulatory changes to weaken environmental protections are enacted. Brazil lost 2,682 square miles of Amazonian forests in 2017. That is almost nine times the size of New York City and 78 percent above the government’s own target for meeting its obligations under the Paris accord.” (NYT Opinion piece: The Amazon on the Brink?)

“To his credit, (President)Temer pledged in Paris to cut his country’s carbon dioxide emissions 37 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. His actions since then tell a different story. Last year, the Environment Ministry’s budget was cut nearly in half, as part of a national austerity plan amid Brazil’s punishing recession. … (Elections, 07 Oct): “The current front-runner, Jair Bolsonaro, is a climate-change skeptic who has been called “the tropical Trump.” He has threatened to take Brazil out of the Paris climate accord.” (NYT)

Around 45 forest defenders and environmentalists are being murdered every year by corrupt logging interests, soya and palm oil planters; recently there appears to have been a genocide of a native tribe getting in the way of mining rights.

Is there any hope for the Amazon, one of our principal oxygenators and carbon “sinks” – any more than for endangered rhino, the African elephant or the leopard, perennial victims of the insane trade in bogus “harmonious” Chinese medicines?

(Maybe the story doesn’t need more elaboration? We get the picture. Ed.)

(New York Times report http://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/opinion/amazon-climate-change-deforestation.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=sectionfront&wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_todayworld)

 

Buzzfeed News

A Bee-feature in the Guardian (28 Sept.) gives some hope for a saner world.

With one in every 200 people keeping bees, Slovenia may be the world’s most bee-friendly country.

The first country in Europe to ban neonicotinoids, its citizens are encouraged to plant bee-friendly flowers and shrubs. In the capital, Ljubljana, one of the cleanest cities in Europe, the Bee Path project “encourages citizens to plant nectar-bearing flowers, hands out seeds, organises tours of bee-related locations, and supports the faculty of architecture to design new forms of city beehive.

“Grass is cut later to prolong the blooming of flowers. The use of glyphosate herbicide for fighting weeds is prohibited in public areas. An educational bee house was erected in the botanical gardens to research the lives of urban bees. School beekeeping clubs are booming. There is even a bee-based kindergarten.” A special “rapid response” team is on call to go out and transport rogue swarms back to their hives.

As a result of these and other measures, bee populations in Slovenia remain healthy and no cases of colony collapse disorder have been reported recently.

Are you reading about it, Mr Gove? Hello, mayors Khan, Burnham and others? How about your cities? (The useless teenage masturbators who run Sheffield council, where secretive contractors are cutting down all the inconvenient trees and people have been imprisoned for protesting, might like to know that in Ljubljana alone, “There are 65,000 registered trees, and authorities now only plant nectar-bearing trees.”

The Pumpkin admits, he has hosted almost no bees in his little garden in West Wales this year, despite encouraging the rampant growth of flowering Sedum and not trimming his laurel hedge. And very few individual bees, although still quite a wide range of species, has he seen on his walks either.

Frankly, given that there is no arable farming here, usually to blame for bee loss, he has no explanation other than climate change disrupting the seasonal breeding cycles of plants and their pollinators.

Could try harder, Britain.

How to stop a hurricane. (Warning: You will need $40 billion a year)… Jumpin’ Jack’s Not Very Flash…Stormy Weather… GW: “Splish splash, I was takin’ a bath, ‘long about a Saturday nite”… Censorship news…

Quote of the week

“One cubic metre of air at a temperature of 30°C can hold about 30 grams of water vapour. A cubic kilometre of such air contains the same energy as the Hiroshima bomb…. Hurricanes can be hundreds of kilometres in diameter and so contain tens of thousands of Hiroshimas.”
-Dr Stephen Salter, writing in Arctic News (14 Sept.).

How to stop a hurricane. (Warning: You will need $40 billion a year…)

Stephen’s topic is hurricane mitigation. He reckons that by using 600 times the mean output of all the electricity generated in the USA over 200 days, you could cool the volume of seawater it takes to kickstart a season’s worth of Cape Verde Atlantic hurricanes by 2C, thus probably preventing them from forming (unless the water is even warmer…).

A more practical way of preventing hurricanes then would be to spend $40 billion a year on building and maintaining a fleet of 100 ships specially designed and equipped to spray saltwater droplets of a particular size into the air, causing hurricanes to turn into ‘gentle tropical storms’. That’s just the Atlantic, by the way.

For those of us who remember his entertaining columns containing madly logical ideas in New Scientist magazine, the name of the late ‘Daedalus’ comes to mind.

“Comrade, famous spire is 123 meters! Who knew?”

 

“Now we know. He’s the real ‘little rocket-man’…”

Stormy Weather

So, “Full Disclosure”, the short-awaited memoirs of Ms Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, award-winning porno movie director, grande horizontale and Trump Nemesis, is hitting the stands about now and threatens to out-best-sell even last week’s Get Donny! best-seller, Bob Woodward’s fearless White House exposé, “Fear”.

Apart from the obligatory stories of her abused childhood, the key to rocketing sales of Stephanie’s tell-all tome is obviously going to be the more descriptive passages concerning That Night of seemingly not so steamy Passion at the Golf Club, and the exact dimensions of the priapic pussygrabber’s orange junk.

Reviewing the book, The Guardian‘s Tom McCarthy writes that Stormy reveals all in “excruciating detail”…

SPOILER ALERT

“She describes Trump’s penis as ‘smaller than average’ but ‘not freakishly small.’

‘He knows he has an unusual penis,’ Daniels writes. ‘It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool… I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart…

‘It may have been the least impressive sex I’d ever had, but clearly, he didn’t share that opinion.’”

So now we know. He’s the real “little rocket-man”…

Presidential image (boingboing.com)

“Fear” on the other hand has had a lukewarm reception in Washington. Apparently, journos inside the Beltway are yawning, rather. There’s nothing the doyen of investigative journalists has dug up that tells them anything they – or we – didn’t already know.

And, opines Politico, since the Kennedy era, as expectations of the rectitude of the office-holders have waned over the years, we’ve learned that all Presidents are pretty inconsiderable people on the inside. Trump especially is benefiting from public neurasthenia: nobody cares how badly he behaves, how dangerously incompetent, capricious, corrupt, vindictive, money-obsessed, narcissistic and ignorant he might be, it’s all hard-wired into the political mindscape.

(It doesn’t bode well for Number 46, whoever that’s going to be….)

“…the combination of decades of disillusion, along with decades of Trump’s behavior hiding in plain sight, go a long way to explaining why Woodward’s merciless account has changed so little… Long before Trump, our would-be leaders began to strive to convince us not of their heroic stature, but their human dimensions.” (Politico Magazine)

The knowledge therefore that, to go with the Hobbit-like dimensions of his tiny hands and feet, the Leader of the Free World has a winkie like a button-mushroom and not much clue what to do with it; even banging a porn star while his undocumented new wife was still nursing their infant son, and being spanked on the bare bottom with a copy of Time magazine, might once have been Trump’s electoral undoing; not now.

Likely, the image will evoke feelings of maternal sympathy among the more matronly dumbfucks, and among those of his MAGA hat-wearing supporters for whom a very big gun collection has to substitute for whatever.

(Or a mushroom cloud? Ed.)

 

Retail news extra

Jumpin’ Jack’s Not So Flash

“The perfect metaphor for post-Brexit Britain: a chain of bog-standard discount stores where stuff comes pot-luck in crates.”

Tesco has opened the first of a chain of discount mini-supermarkets, branded ‘Jack’s’. The report in The Guardian says:

“Heavy rain and winds did not deter bargain-hungry shoppers on the opening day of Tesco’s new discount chain, Jack’s, with long queues to enter the store and the car park overflowing. At 10am on Thursday, the formal opening time, 150 people were waiting to enter the new supermarket in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. The store is Tesco’s attempt to fend off the German discounters Aldi and Lidl.”

They got a free cupcake, and a jute bag-for-life. Grateful shoppers apparently then took the empty bag along to Aldi, down the street.

“Or we could just stand in the street and chuck groceries at you…”

What the report doesn’t really explain is why Tesco feels it needs to go to the extra expense of adding another chain of convenience stores to its existing stable of, er, convenience stores – and why, just to compete with Aldi and Lidl, it has given it a patronizingly downmarket name, weakening its own famous brand, and briefed its store design team to make it look as completely shitty as possible?

Why not just reduce your prices? It’s the perfect metaphor for post-Brexit Britain: a chain of bog-standard discount stores where stuff comes pot-luck in crates; a lowering of horizons to adapt to a dysphoric new world of food banks; of scrimping and saving and making-do for the down-at-heel.

The founder of Tesco, Jack Cohen would certainly recognize it. The son of Jewish migrants to the grim East End of London in the early 1900s, his first shops did away with doors, to make them – as his Wikipedia entry says – more like market stalls: a dog-eat-dog environment where, after leaving elementary school at 14, he survived on his wits.

Welcome to the future.

 

 

GW: “Splish splash, I was takin’ a bath, ‘long about a Saturday nite”

Your old Gran thinks you’ve probably heard enough about Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut to last a month or two, as even the MSM (mainstream media) seems to have woken up to the synchronous superstorms as a sensational news story this past week.

So here are some of the less reported wild and wacky weather scenarios we’ve dug up from the litter of the past ten days:

Algeria: the city of Tebessa was underwater (12 Sept.) after flash-flooding during a torrential rainstorm washed away hundreds of cars. A child died and another is missing.

Turkey: 13th, a powerful storm dumped 147 mm rain in a day, caused flash-flooding in Bandirma, in the north of the country. Again, cars seem to have been the main victims. Is the planet telling us something?

Spain: the narrow streets of old medieval towns prove ideal for heavy rains to turn them into raging torrents. Several towns have been affected by flash-flooding since the 7th September. On the 14th, 50 mm rain fell on Malaga in under half-an-hour. Video has just been posted of a powerful storm that battered Granollers, north of Barcelona, on 7 Sept., felling trees and ripping off roofs. Intense rainfall brought flash-flooding to the city.

Climate & Extreme Weather News #136/ Indianfoodies website/

USA: as remnant hurricane Florence (42 dead) moves north, Virginia has been struck by destructive tornadoes – 1 dead. Up to 6 inches of rain flooded basements, stranded cars and prompted evacuations in two locations on the east side of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Monday night. There’s been severe flooding around Raleigh, Va. “Where these clusters of thunderstorms stall for a period of a few hours, localized flash flooding is likely, with rain rates of 1 to 4 inches per hour. If these clusters stall over parts of Iowa, southern Minnesota and southern Wisconsin, flash flooding might occur faster, given soil moisture remains high after last month’s flooding.” – The Weather Channel

Hurricane season news: Wunderground’s Bob Henson reports:

“…every ocean basin in the Northern Hemisphere is now running above average for accumulated cyclone energy … The Atlantic’s ACE is running 28% above average for this time of year, and the 10 named storms and 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic are both well ahead of average counts for this point in the season. … At least part of every ocean basin on Earth saw record-warm SSTs during August, according to NOAA’s monthly climate report issued on Monday.

(The Carolinas are still struggling with the aftermath of Florence, which broke all State records, dumping up to 33 inches of rain before moving north. Rivers are still rising, and the city of Wilmington (pop. 120,000) may be cut off for a second time since the weekend, requiring emergency supplies to be helicoptered in.) (Wunderground)

Nigeria: Mrs May’s raindancing has done the trick… 100 people have died during two weeks of intensive rainfall. Many areas have experience localized flash flooding, (while) wide areas of the country now face flooding from the country’s major rivers after long-term rainfall in Nigeria and river catchments in neighbouring countries caused the Niger and Benue rivers to rise to danger levels. (Edited from Floodlist report)

Office workers in Hong Kong thought they’d been hit by an earthquake.

Philippines: Over 70 dead and 50 missing after 135 mph Supertyphoon Mangkhut clipped the north of Luzon island; widespread crop and property damage. At least 4 people died after the storm made landfall again 80 miles from Hong Kong, where it blew the windows out of high-rise office blocks and rained papers off the desks. As of 17 September, Mangkhut had dissipated into a tropical depression and will continue to weaken. However parts of south west China and northern provinces of Vietnam could see intense rainfall and strong winds. (edited from Floodlist report – also, see CEWN #126 for video)

UK: Remnant Cat 1 hurricane Helene continued weakening rapidly along its forecast track, out of the Azores and up the Irish sea… feared windspeeds and rainfall totals failed to materialize over Ireland and western Britain. Unrelated, Storm Ali is, however, heading in off the north Atlantic 19 Sept. with forecast windspeeds of 80 mph. (Various sources)

Update: First of the season, Storm Ali brought winds gusting in the Scottish highlands to 115 mph. 2 people were killed, a woman in the Irish Republic when a caravan blew off a cliff; a workman in Northern Ireland when a tree fell on him. A number of people were injured by flying debris. Thousands of homes in Scotland without power.

A second storm is forecast for tomorrow, 20 Sept, further south, bringing up to 4 in. of rain and possible flooding to Wales; and another for Sunday 23rd. The words ‘atmospheric river’ have not passed the forecasters’ lips, but that is what the map looks like as the fragmented jetstream winds (175 mph) ferry a belt of rainstorms eastwards across the Atlantic through northern Europe.

Climate news:

“Bad things can happen when you’re talking about a storm this size. It’s called Mother Nature.” – So ran a tweet from the chump-in-chief, Trump, warning Carolinians to evacuate ahead of H. Florence. Think Progress website has a report of new research he won’t want to hear:

“The authors of a bombshell new analysis, ‘The human influence on Hurricane Florence,’ disagree (that it’s just ‘Mother Nature’). They find that human-caused global warming has supercharged the atmosphere so much that it is boosting the very worst of the projected rainfall totals by more than 50 percent. (And they were talking about 18 inches, not 33…)

“ThinkProgress asked coauthor Dr. Michael Wehner of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) whether ‘your analysis allows us to say the storm is more than just Mother Nature?’ He replied in an email:

“‘Indeed. The most important message from this (and previous) analyses is that “Dangerous climate change is here now!’

Local news:

After waiting until a quarter past one for the rain to ease off, Hunzi and I took the plunge before his bladder exploded.

Almost literally plunging: the brief lull ended within a few minutes and it came bucketing down again. Luckily I had my golfing umbrella, that I use to deflect passing traffic. Only my left sleeve bore the brunt.

On the way we passed the nearby river monitoring station, where I now realized why workmen had been so busy the past couple of weeks.

The new river level gauges they’ve installed will give the management authority an extra 6 feet to play with.

Should they need as much, I fear for my neighbours across the street, whose houses are 3 feet below road-level and were flooded out in a 2-day storm, June 2012. The rise in river level was down to a mistake at the hydro-power dam upstream, not to Mother Nature, so it hasn’t happened since. But….

There’s Something They’re Not Telling Us….

 

Yellowstone News: The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, the Steamboat geyser, biggest in the park, has gone off yet again – that’s the 19th time this year (17 Sept). Normally 1 or 2 times a year, if at all, the frequency is now roughly every 4-5 days and getting shorter, with longer and more violent outwellings.

20 Sept: Part of the Norris Junction area of the park has been closed to visitors, as another geyser, Ear Spring (‘A normally docile hot pool’), has been chucking superheated steam, rocks the size of bowling balls and discarded junk 30 feet into the air. It hasn’t erupted since 1957. (US Geological Survey newsletter)

Other, normally quiescent geysers are also showing unprecedented activity. Groundwater temperature has increased to 206F. USGS also reports, a new geyser has formed near Old Faithful, and an 8-foot diameter area around it is ‘breathing’, ie the ground is rising and falling by 6 inches – every 10 minutes! (This is perfectly natural, apparently. Although no-one’s noticed before. Think: boiling porage…)

 

Censorship news:

‘Dutchsinse’, alias Michael Janitch, the St Louis-based earthquake forecaster, looks like he’s been finally shut down by a concert party of USGS and international geo-agencies who have put out a joint statement claiming he’s just a big fat liar. Your Old Granny, who has sat through many of his three-times daily roundups at agonizing length, has to say there’s no evidence of that. A more painfully honest truthsayer would be hard to find.

He actually has a better-than 80 per cent record of accurately predicting timings, locations and magnitudes of quakes to within reasonable self-set tolerances, based on a simple theory of mechanical pressure distribution across plate boundaries that the experts say is scientific bullshit, as: “you can’t predict earthquakes”. The problem is, he can – and does; without pretending to have supernatural powers.

So what is the point of milking taxpayers to maintain those official agencies, if the best they can manage is to tell people there’s just been an earthquake or a volcanic eruption somewhere – something the people on the spot might have noticed for themselves? What purpose does that serve? What good do they actually do? Oh, right, they measure things. And attack anyone they don’t agree with.

The point is, surely, that as a US citizen Janitch has a 1st Amendment right to promote his theory and telecast his analysis free from libellous censorship campaigns by aggrieved parties? He invites subscriptions, but his website is provided free of charge, with no paywall. So he’s not cheating anyone – and he’s right far more often than chance. Given his extensive global following, unlike USGS and the other agencies he may in fact have saved lives.

Veteran Yellowstone watcher Greeley, although unqualified as a geologist, is clearly serious in her intent and fairly clued-up, basing her analysis on years of reviewing publicly-available ground monitoring data; although she’s been predicting an eruption at any moment for the past five years at least.

I hope I’m not being unfair, because the data are becoming faintly alarming.

She may believe, but she doesn’t preach; it’s not her fault most of her followers seem to be on their knees night and day, wailing and gnashing their dentures – some unfortunately praying for the volcano to erupt soon, an event the Parks Department estimates could immediately cause 23 million casualties, so they can meet Jesus. That’s a heck of a line even for a good book signing.

If Greeley, and some less informed YouTube supervolcano doomsayers piggybacking on her website; also many less credible phenomenologists, are allowed to carry on promoting their end-of-the-world, second-coming scenarios and conspiracy twaddle, how is it that a knowledgable, intelligent and serious amateur like Janitch, however controversial his ideas, can be forced off the internet by vested interests?

Is it purely because they find him embarrassing – especially at a time when science itself is under attack from corrupt and irresponsible, unqualified politicians led by a climate-change denying US President, who really ought to know better?

Perhaps we should be told. My conspiracy theory is, they’re afraid he might one night forecast some truly terrible event, information over which they would have no control and that might cause mass panic when it came true.

Just sayin’.

 

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 62: Salmond phishing in Scotland… Painting the skeletons pink… Phooarh!…GW: Wash me down and blow me!

Amen Corner

“We get climate change wrong too often… Manmade climate change exists: if the science proves it we should report it. To achieve impartiality, you do not need to include outright deniers of climate change in BBC coverage.”

– Long overdue memo from Head of News, Fran Unsworth to all BBC producers.

Ghoul’s out for ever. (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

The Pumpkin says: Two hurrahs for Auntie Fran! Fuck off, Lawson, you moneygrubbing ecocidal old ghoul. Back in your grave. And clear up the soil and maggots after you. (See Posts passim)

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/07/bbc-we-get-climate-change-coverage-wrong-too-often

 

“Is sexual kompromat not precisely the tactic Trump and his cohort have been using for years to crush their enemies?”

Salmond phishing in Scotland

Along with many sources, The Pumpkin has previously speculated about the provenance of the variously named Trump International Golf Links project, also known as Trump Aberdeen, or Trump Balmedie; where its $120 million startup funding may have come from, since it certainly did not come from the near-bankrupt Trump Organization in the USA or any cautious British or US banks; and through whom it was channeled.

There are and were numerous other concerns about the development, of course. How Trump railroaded through planning consent over the objections of the community and properly concerned environmentalists; what role the then SNP leader, Alex Salmond played in swinging the decision; how Trump opposed the siting of an offshore wind farm – he hates wind farms – a project supported by Salmond; his bullying and harassment of local resisters – his attempts to massively increase the size of the development, despite the fact that it’s been making heavy losses, partly thanks to the retreat of the North Sea oil industry and the winding-down of Aberdeen as its capital.

And then there was the well-reported instance of Trump’s dimmest son, Eric bragging to a golf journalist that they got $100 million from some golf-mad Russians for course developments. At the time, according to Wikipedia, there were only 9 functioning golf courses in the whole of Russia, and only 4 PGA-registered professionals. The boast was backed up by Donald Jr, who told another journalist that “they were always in and out of Russia”, where the development funding was virtually limitless.

This seemed to contradict Trump Sr’s frequent forceful assertions that he had no business with Russia. None.

Anyway, that’s not what The Pumpkin has been thinking about this morning. Another well-sourced piece by Adam Davidson in The New Yorker this week, entitled “Where will the Trump investigations go next?” (a question on many people’s minds as elections approach and some kind of denouement in the Mueller enquiry is eagerly anticipated) has revived our curiosity, to the point where he lazily dialled “Salmond/Sorial” into the Googlebox and sat back, waiting for any nugget to fall into his lap.

And, unlikely though it may seem, numerous reports have popped up, linking the two names.

Still an Executive Vice-President at Trump Organization, George Sorial was Trump’s point man on Aberdeen: the guy who did all the negotiating, the railroading, the project management and the harassment of the natives (including cutting off their water supplies and throwing high ramparts around their properties) – as well as the relationship-building with Salmond, who somehow became convinced overnight that the development on a Site of Special Scientific Interest would after all be A Good Thing for Scotland, despite all evidence to the contrary.

It seems that part of the relationship-building involved a Salmond scheme whereby Trump, Sorial – and, by extension, Donald Trump Jr – were flattered to be added to a list of international business movers and shakers named as “Global Scots”, honorary nationals who would commit to promoting Scottish business interests worldwide – presumably in anticipation of a Yes vote in the 2014 Independence referendum, a vote that never arrived.

The newly adopted Republican candidate, Trump Sr was swiftly dumped in early 2016, ostensibly because of the multiculturalist SNP’s objections to his campaign promise to introduce a ban on Muslims entering the USA. Donald Jr’s delisting came soon afterwards because, as any fule might have expected, he simply hadn’t fulfilled any of his commitments to promote Scottish business, being too busy chasing tail, pomading his hair (I bet he’s a Dapper Dan man!) and slaughtering endangered animals for their body parts.

There then came attempts to drop Sorial.

Buzzfeed reported (November 30, 2016 – 3 weeks after Trump was elected President)

“According to a freedom of information request from the Scottish government, Salmond gave Sorial the role on the basis that he was “responsible for the Trump developments in Scotland”, he would be an “advocate” for the country, and his parents were from the Scottish island of Lewis.

“However, after being told Sorial was still a Global Scot, Salmond told BuzzFeed News that Sorial should step down from the role. The former first minister has been a vocal critic of Trump since relations between the Scottish government and the tycoon soured over the construction of a wind farm near his golf course.”

The Pumpkin has been wondering about poor Mr Salmond, who has just last week had to resign his seat in the Scottish Assembly and crowdfund an appeal for his legal fees, in order to fight accusations of sexual impropriety made against him quite out of the blue by “two women”.

Is sexual kompromat not precisely the tactic Trump and his cohort have been using for years to crush their enemies and punish or silence their disloyal “friends”, bringing them back into line? One thinks of Charlie Kushner, father of Trump’s son-in-law Jared, part of whose 5-years sentence of imprisonment was for witness tampering – insomuch as he tried to silence his brother-in-law with a DVD of an encounter with a prostitute in a motel room, which Kushner Sr then sent to his own sister, to put a little more pressure on her husband.

And we have heard Trump protege and quasi-legal bagman, Michael Cohen not only pleading guilty to financial violations, but fingering Trump as having ordered him to payoff a porn star and a glamour model out of a special slush-fund created for the purpose, using corporate donations fraudulently elicited to buy access to the White House; while speculation surrounds another Trump associate who may or may not have been involved in silencing a woman who is claiming to have spawned an illegitimate child by Trump.

No wonder he so admires Boris Johnson.

We then have the lurid details of what may or may not have happened in a Moscow hotel room in 2013, as listed in the notorious so-called “Steele dossier” among other instances of compromising information the Russians may or may not have on the President.

So there’s a lot of this sort of thing going around. Were the women put up to “hashtag Metoo” Salmond? Most probably no, but allegations of groping and worse are the kind of “black information” Trump has reportedly stored up for years against individuals he encounters, to secure lasting loyalty; silence (Omerta), and to use against his victims later as necessary.

Could we suppose, taking things to their extreme, that Salmond’s about-face on his apparent loyalty to Trump Org., the defiance of Trump’s thwarted Islamophobic program, the row over the wind farm and the perceived slight of the Leader of the Free World no longer being considered to be an honorary Scotsman have penetrated the notoriously thin skin of the President, and earned poor Alex the dubious distinction of becoming the victim of a Mafia-style vendetta to destroy the career of the ebullient former cruise-ship entertainer?

Betrayal being the number one crime in the Trump playbook? And when Trump Org. has announced it plans further leisure developments in Scotland?

As Davidson writes:

“Some have argued that Trump didn’t knowingly break the law—that he was just impulsive and unfocussed and would, accidentally and without proper due diligence, end up working with crooks. My source told me that this was nonsense: of course Trump knew when he was breaking the law. “Come on. He was trained by fucking Roy Cohn.* Seriously.”

http://www.newyorker.com/news-desk/swamp-chronicles/where-will-the-trump-investigations-go-next?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jamieross/donald-trumps-right-hand-man-is-still-an-ambassador-for-scot

*By all accounts, Cohn was an absolute swine, acting as an implacable and cunning prosecutor in the notorious Joseph McCarthy anti-Communist “witch-hunt” hearings; an attorney for the brutal Gambino crime family, and a friend of Trump’s dodgy property developer father, Fred.

In a related earlier piece, however, Davidson recounts how he attended functions at Cohn’s grand mansion, that were almost royal garden parties; and where, like Trump, Cohn would insist on holding open sessions at which rich and influential men – policemen and judges among them – would step up to offer him effusive public praise, adulation that he wallowed in.

The extraordinary thing, Davidson says, is that unlike Trump’s Imperatorial cabinet meetings at which everyone is mercilessly forced to grovel and praise God for his existence and their jobs, Cohn’s guests genuinely seemed to mean it. For those who weren’t his victims, he seemed to offer loyal friendship and a likeable side.

And that’s the secret of success.

Something the thin-skinned and vindictive tinpot dictator, Trump never learned.

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/where-trump-learned-to-love-ritualized-flattery

x

“Instead of producing a potboiler one would have hoped Woodward might have credibly pursued the paths trodden by veteran Trumphunters, following the money to expose the dark underbelly of America’s worst ever President.”

Painting the skeletons pink

All America is agog at the publication in the failing New York Times of an op-ed piece by an anonymous contributor, described as “A senior member of the Trump administration”, calling the President out as an erratic and incompetent lunatic, whose wilder policy initiatives have to be buried by his staffers before they can do any harm.

The situation is being made very much worse by an incandescent Trump demanding the miscreant’s head on a platter, to be charged with “treason” (the irony escapes him). If he would only shut up and stop reacting like a child to these provocations, The Pumpkin opines, it might look a lot less like the accusations are true.

Nor is it helping, that the piece has come out only a day after the official publication date of “Fear”, the new “piss-and-tell” book about the churning guts of Trump’s White House by legendary investigative journalist, Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame). No collusion? Possibly not.

On Thursday, the supine BBC managed to find a queue of three Trump apologists, including the discreditable neofascist missing-link, Gorka (“why, oh why?” etc. – BBC listener), who all spouted the same incredible lines about what a great job the President is doing and this is all sour grapes from the lyin’ Democrats in cahoots with da fake nooze media.

Meanwhile Trump was saying pretty much the same thing, boasting about his historically high poll ratings. (He recently told one of his flashmob rallies that he didn’t know if they had polls in Abraham Lincoln’s time (they didn’t. Ed.), but if they did Trump’s ratings would be beating them….) He is insane, in case it hadn’t already occurred to you.

The latest WAPO/ABC polling puts him down at 36% national approval, by the way, with 52% thinking he’s a total trainwreck and 49% calling for his impeachment.

Anyone who knows anything about the workings of great newspapers like the NYT knows they don’t print unverified gossip from anonymized sources without very careful checking. They certainly don’t fake-up op-ed pieces of this seriousness themselves and then source them to non-existent senior members of the administration. Trump isn’t calling for them to be shut down because they tell lies about him.

Trump has now embarked on what one can only describe as a “witch hunt” to out the witch who wrote the piece, sparking fevered speculation as to the true identity of his critic – who, as a staunch Republican, hypocritically went out of his or her way to applaud some of the shittier “achievements” of the administration, such as the utterly cretinous trade policies, the wreckage of the public health insurance system, the vainglorious superfunding of the already bloated military, the rollback of consumer and environmental protections and the budget-busting $1.4 trillion giveaway to the party’s funders; none of which has added a jot of happiness to the lives of the vast majority of Americans.

So, for the past few days his closest advisors, a group known as “the adults in the room” have been rushing to deny responsibility. Many commentators are pointing at Vice-President Pence, on the basis of various clues, such as the use of the world “lodestar”, a metaphor Pence is constantly using; and the fact that he has gone off somewhere at this rather crucial time and had to send his fridge to a press conference*.

The Pumpkin’s betting is on Trump’s public defender, Rudy Giuliani – with help over the more difficult spellings. Trump is alleged to have said very terrible, almost shockingly terrible things to poor Rudy in the past, totally emasculating him, whenever the former mayor of New York’s TV performances have not defended the President sufficiently robustly.

Is this Rudy’s Revenge?

Whoever it is, Sessions, Kelly, whoever, given the reluctance of the debutant to step forward, doesn’t this look like a case of painting the skeletons pink? Should Trump go down any time soon, this individual will be able to step forth from the shadows, this ersatz Deep Throat, and proudly proclaim their patriotic instincts and innocence of the Trump stain. Look, my skeletons are still alive!

There is also, of course, the possibility that Trump himself commissioned the piece from a ghost writer, to take the wind out of Woodward’s sails – and sales. It wouldn’t be the first time he has misled the “enemies of the people” in this way; and none of the allegations of his bizarre behavior is original, they’ve all appeared in print before.

It’s a handy distraction, too, from the Congressional hearings on his pick for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh – who, when quizzed about any previous connections he may have had with anyone on Trump’s legal team, prevaricated that “he couldn’t remember” and asked his inquisitor, the forensic Senator Susan Harris, to suggest some legal names because he didn’t know any. So that’s a rubber stamp, then.

But who knows? It’s bound to come out soon enough.

In The Pumpkin’s view, it’s a shame Woodward’s book is being filleted by the media for the more lurid tales of life in the Trump White House, until it appears that they might be the major or possibly the only theme. I hadn’t budgeted for another Trump tome this month, I’m still pondering ordering Craig Unger’s House of Putin, House of Trump. At least it’s not just more in-house tittle-tattle, of which I have four volumes already.

We can all see from his forgetful behavior and manner of speaking that the President is senescent, almost certainly in the early stages of dementia. We sense too that he is annoyingly inept as an administrator, ignorant of foreign affairs, industry and economics; a vain, crass, incurious and demanding bully, a whining, childish, foul-mouthed solipsist with no regard for anyone other than himself and his own fatuous saloon-bar theories; that he has succeeded in life only through mendacity, extreme venality, adroit publicity and affecting the threatening posture of a Mafia chieftain. He has also revealed a surprising capacity for cowardice.

We know all that.

We already have a raft of books and articles based on the testimony of dozens of leaky insiders describing Trump’s manic outbursts, his “senior moments”, his impulsive policy-making and his horrible dietary habits. So I guess we shall just have to see what Mueller can do, while Trump furiously tries to undermine the credibility of the Russia investigation, brutalizes the Justice Department, slags-off the media and packs the courts with unqualified placemen.

Whatever finally comes out from Mueller may gain no traction at all among the Republican voters.

As the much-decorated doyen of investigative journalists, instead of producing a sensationalist potboiler one would have hoped Woodward might have credibly pursued the paths trodden by veteran Trumphunters like David Cay Johnson, Craig Unger and Adam Davidson, following the money to expose the dark underbelly of America’s worst and most corrupt ever President.

Because the real question few dare to ask is, what terrible secret is it, that he is apparently willing to destroy the presidency to protect?

Shall we ever be allowed to know?

*Younger readers, if any, might not recognise the reference to a Monty Python sketch. Carry on.)

x

Phooarh! Trump strikes out

“Never mind, Mr President, it can happen to anyone. Let’s get you all cleaned up…” (photo: Empirenews.net)

Despite his insistent promises to the adoring dumbfucks on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t have time to play golf because he’d be permanently in the Oval Office, “working my ass off for you” (massive cheer!), and a virulent campaign of Fox poo claiming his predecessor, Obama, was never off the golf course even during national crises (“he plays more even than a member of the PGA”) the website Trumpgolfcount reports that after just 590 days in office, the Fat Fibber has spent 349 days at his own golf resorts, while Obama managed only 328 days golfing in 8 years.

Total cost to the US taxpayer so far: $77 million. (Cost to local businesses forced by the security service to shut up shop while he plays, incalculable.)

But he works so hard – at least four hours a day including an hour for lunch, according to White House insiders – he surely deserves the time off. How else would his tacky resorts make any money?

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GW: Wash me down and blow me!

Hawaii: “Back up to Category 3 strength on Thursday afternoon, Hurricane Olivia remains on a long-term course that looks increasingly likely to take it across the Hawaiian Islands. Located about 1200 miles west of Cabo San Lucas—and was heading west-northwest at 14 mph. Update (11:30 pm EDT Thursday): Olivia has now attained Category 4 strength, with top sustained winds of 130 mph.” (Wunderground) Weaker Hurricane Norman passed well to the north of the islands this week. Hawaii was battered last week by 135 mph Hurricane Lane bearing up to 53 cm of rain, the most powerful storm in a quarter of a century.

Guam: “Though it was just a minimum-strength tropical storm with 40 mph winds on Friday, Mangkhut promises to become a ferocious typhoon over the next few days. The system is surrounded by a large envelope of very moist air and it will be traveling over very warm SSTs of 29 – 30°C (84 – 86°F). …The Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicts that Manghut will rocket to typhoon strength by Sunday local time and will be a Category 4 typhoon by the time it nears Guam on Tuesday.” (Wunderground)

Bermuda: Hurricane Florence, which had strengthened into the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season, weakened to a Category 1 storm Thursday as it moved on a path toward Bermuda. As of 5 p.m. ET Thursday, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph but was expected to reintensify Friday, the National Hurricane Center said. Large swells from Florence are expected to hit Bermuda starting Friday. Life-threatening surf and rip tides are possible.” (CBS News)

Mexico: “Flooding in the city of Piedras Negras in Coahuila state, (on the Texas border) on 04 Sept. affected more than 10,000 residents. Around 20 people were forced to evacuate and stay in temporary accommodation. Roads in the area also suffered damage. No injuries or fatalities were reported. Local Civil Protection said that more than 150mm of rain fell from late Monday 03 Sept. to early Tuesday 04 Sept.” (Floodlist)

USA: “Kansas Governor, Jeff Colyer issued a state of disaster emergency declaration for five Kansas counties affected by flooding from 02 to 04 Sept. An estimated 300 people were displaced, with areas around Manhattan worst affected.” Over 9 inches of rain fell during the storm. (Floodlist) The east coast may feel the force of Hurricane Florence later in the week.

India: “At least 19 people have died in flood-related incidents in Uttar Pradesh since 01 Sept. Nearly 300 villages have been affected. Many of the deaths were a result of collapsing buildings or lightning strikes. Over 220 houses have been damaged or destroyed in the heavy rain and flooding over the last 4 days.

“The flood-hit south Indian state of Kerala has declared a health alert after 11 people died of leptospirosis or rat fever in the last two days (to 04 Sept.). Health officials in the state said there was no immediate cause for alarm and the situation was under control (! Ed.). Flooding has killed around 400 people in Kerala since June.” (BBC Weather)

Australia: Has been accused by Pacific nations of trying to water down the Boe Declaration on emissions reduction. “Dr Bill Hare, a lead author on the IPCC fourth assessment report, told Guardian Australia that Pacific leaders were growing increasingly disenchanted with Australia’s refusal to commit to cutting carbon emissions, even as their nations faced massive economic, physical and social disruption, even existential threat.”

UK: The Met Office has confirmed, 2018 was the hottest summer they’ve ever recorded in England, and the joint-hottest for the British Isles as a whole. The 10-day forecast from 08 Sept. is completely chaotic, although not extreme, as the huge loops currently in the jet stream break apart into separate segments and go spinning off over the course of the next week. Watch the BBC weatherman struggle to explain!

 

Scary corner

“Roundworms from two areas of (the Siberian permafrost) came back to life in Petri dishes, says a new scientific study. Some 300 prehistoric worms were analysed – and two ‘were shown to contain viable nematodes’.

“‘After being defrosted, the (possibly 42 thousand year-old) nematodes showed signs of life,’ said a report today from Yakutia, the area where the worms were found. ‘They started moving and eating.’

“Both are thought to be female.”

Siberian Times

 

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.

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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.