Thursday’s Bogl in parenthesis: How is it Where You Are?

“A Texas man has filed a lawsuit against a woman for the cost of a movie ticket after she texted during their cinema date. Brandon Vezmar, 37, said the woman walked out of the screening of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 when he complained about her persistent phone use.

“Mr Vezmar filed the petition in the state capital of Austin last week seeking $17.31 (£13.30), arguing his date’s behaviour was “a threat to civilised society”.” – BBC report

Hero.

Brandon Vezmar, 37, could well have just become the Saviour of the Universe.

Women who are congenitally unable to stop fiddling with their phones for more than a few seconds without breaking out in hives are indeed a threat, not only to civilization, but to the future of humanity. They need to be saved.

Wherever I walk li’l Hunzi, I am unable to shield him from the sight of approaching women pushing a buggy with one hand while delivering a running commentary on their vacuous thought process to some invisible friend via a small device held with the other. In a recent production of Shakespeare, the longueurs backstage were hardly enlivened by female members of the cast immediately pouncing on their phones after coming offstage, in case anything totally uninteresting had happened while they were distracted by having to do some acting.

If only there had been cellphone technology in the C16th.

By 2050 it will no doubt be reported that female babies are being born with a strange deformity of the arm, which is permanently crooked and attached to their right ear. In addition, they will have evolved hypermobile thumbs resembling small flippers with built-in predictive text.

Having said that, if my ‘paying date’ had dragged me to see ‘Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2’ after a slap-up $4 dinner, I’d have kicked him in the nuts and gone home to watch the box-set of Fleabag in the more intellectually stimulating company of my vibrator. A girl needs to feel valued.

But that’s just me.

x

“This lying fat orange shitbrains is just taking the piss.”

How is it where you are?

I’m hoping next time to make sure I bring the little stringy thing that connects this, muh annoying new laptop, to muh cellphone.

It’s ‘cos I have on it, some new photos of the astonishing Spring regrowth that has been erupting around us since the beginning of April.

I’d like to share them with you and may do so shortly. (Gottit!)

Eutrophication – warmer water containing added washed-down nutrients – has caused huge mats of green weed to cover the nearby river, such as I have never known. Meanwhile, a couple of rainy days have brought on the most astonishing efflorescence and a surge of green biomass such as we have never seen before, here in the river valley.

Huge clumps of wild plants are erupting either side of the rapidly disappearing footpath. Briar – fruits already forming – and nettles and cleavers and elder, Himalayan balsam, all fighting for light, tumbling over each other. Growth of grass in the verges has been rapid, dense, with the tall, undistinguished white flower spikes of plantain normally about 10 inches reaching two feet in height, vying for space with St John’s Wort, nettle, vetch and borage, Pennyroyal and cow-parsley.

Japanese knotweed stands already way above my head.

Notifiable – and  indestructible – knotweed growing three feet above my six-foot head.

Where the playing fields have not been closely mown there are vast mats of daisies, lying like late snow. In the wooded ares, daffodils, snowdrops, bluebells and harebells – all the flowers of spring – are already well over. Dandelion, buttercup and wood anemone are flowering vigorously. The gorse flowers, great acid-yellow swatches, that blazed all winter are dying off now. Bees hum on sunny days in the great pendulous clumps of mayflowers hanging from the hawthorn trees. Birdsong is everywhere.

It really is the most extraordinary Spring I think I have ever known. It began in early April. And it’s still only mid-May. In my tiny garden, I have one rose bush. It has put out three-foot-long greenshoots, each bearing heads of multiple flower buds they will be unable to support. Some flowered last week. It is still only mid-May.

This unprecedented abundance is probably because, for the first time in hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of years, Carbon dioxide – plant food – in the atmosphere is at 410 parts per million (Mauna Loa observatory, Hawaii) and rising.

On sunny days, of which we have had many, a cooling breeze blows gently in from the sea. Out of the wind, it has been comfortably in the low 70s F.

Other parts of the world are not so agreeable:

  • Twenty-seven tornados touched down in Wisconsin and Oklahoma yesterday, trashing a trailer park and killing at least two people. More scary tornado warnings are out tonite (19/05) across the midwest.
  • Donald J ‘criminal ecocide’ Trump has nominated an alt-right Christian fundamentalist, climate-change-denying ‘shock-jock’ radio talkshow host, Sam Clovis as Science Director of the US Department of Agriculture. Like Scott Pruitt at the EPA he has no scientific or sector administrative credentials whatsoever. This lying fat orange shitbrains is just taking the piss.
  • Carbon dioxide concentrations recently exceeded 560 ppm (NASA) in parts of West Africa and Central Asia, thanks to uncontrolled forest fires and annual agricultural burning. A problem with wildfires and crop-burning is that sooty particulates eventually precipitate out over ice fields where the darker surface increases melting of glaciers and sea ice.
  • Wildfires have destroyed 4,000 acres in northern Florida.
  • Record flooding with many casualties and mass evacuations has been reported just this week in Indonesia (Sulawesi/Borneo), Arkansas (state of emergency declared), Mississippi, N. Carolina (USA); Hungary/Romania; China’s Guangdong and four other provinces; Kenya and Kwa-Zulu Natal – South Africa; Chile (where over 1m acres were destroyed by wildfires in January); Haiti, Jamaica and Canada (state of emergency declared in Ontario province).
  • 137 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in Alicante, Spain; 280mm in Kamphaeng Phet province, Thailand. http://floodlist.com/america/usa/floods-arkansas-missouri-april-may-2017
  • Hundreds of pilgrims have been evacuated as heavy flooding hits the southern French town of Lourdes after days of rain.
  • A record-breaking 42 deg. C+ heatwave is affecting the Chennai area of Tamil Nadu, SW India for the second year running.
  • Two tropical cyclones are currently battering northeast and northwest Australia, with another Category 5 storm threatening Vanuatu, the second this year.
  • An earthquake ascribed to possible ‘isostatic rebound’ due to melting ice hit Greenland on May 8, triggering a massive release of methane. Methane levels have risen 256% from 1750 to 2015 and could double again by 2040 (Arctic News).
  • “The Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.” – BBC report. (The Norwegian-funded seed bank, said to be the most important reserve of plant genes in the world, was designed to last 1,000 years…)
  • While Colorado enjoyed heavy snow last night (20 May), some scientists are forecasting an ice-free Arctic ocean by September. Admittedly they have been saying this for the past four years. However, thanks to Arctic methane eruptions polynomial trendlines (best/worst-case scenarios) are pointing to possibly a global 3 deg. C. rise over 2018 and a potential, unsurvivable 10 deg. C. rise by 2021. (Arctic News).
  • April was the third warmest month ever recorded across the USA. Temperature in Washington DC yesterday touched 93 F.

The Pumpkin – Issue 17. The Bartered Bribe. Plus long essay: 100 Days of Sod ’em

“…gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes?”

The Bartered Bribe

By: Our Chief North America Correspondent, John Sopoor. ©2017 @support_us.gov

You know, I keep going back to a Post of The Pumpkin on 21 April which began with Oliver Cromwell’s famous 1653 speech dissolving the Long Parliament, and finding more and more resonances with Trump’s White House.

Once again I am indebted to Rachel Maddow at MSNBC for exhaustively explaining (her explanations can be pretty exhausting, and then you don’t get the meat of the story because she’s gone to a commercial break and the rest hasn’t been uploaded, but we’ll persevere) the background to yet another potential shitstorm, this time involving the plastic toy, Special Advisor and general US Government, Jared Kushner.

I have often exclaimed in mock despair that there appears to be no end to the stories and allegations of dodgy dealings surrounding  Trump and his family, going back into the mists of time and before; and it seems into the future, with no reprehension; no clarity, no remorse. I guess some families are just like that. The Borgias spring to mind.

But the Pumpkin’s famed despair is beginning to lose its mockiness. I read on the hot-news ‘crawler’ unspooling beneath Ms Maddow as she outlined the latest Trump family financial plans that, for instance, Ivanka Trump’s lovely face is now to be found on billboards announcing the opening of the Trump Tower in Manila, capital of the Philippines.

Now, Mrs Kushner – Ms Trump – Ivanka has an official position in the US government. She was appointed three weeks ago as a special advisor, given a title: ‘First Daughter’ (her wicked stepmom remains a prisoner in the gilded Manhattan tower), her own office and a brief in the White House – and a top-level security clearance.

Under the Emoluments clause of the constitution it’s illegal for public officials to profit from foreign business transactions, but here she is, advertising Orange Daddy’s hotel business, that she and her brothers Donny Jr and the Little Nazi, Eric, are supposed to have been put in charge of precisely so he isn’t compromised by his ownership of said businesses while he abuses the Office of President of the United States.

Well, fuck that for a game of soldiers.

Not only that, but Trump has invited Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Philippines, to the White House – Duterte, a squalid little pockmarked thug who publicly called President Obama a ‘son of a whore’, has operated an open policy of paying police death squads and vigilantes to hunt down and murder anyone suspected of involvement in the drugs trade, the number of his victims now at 7,000 and rising; has compared himself favourably to Hitler, and who has boasted that he has personally murdered people, is considered by Trump a fit person to enjoy his chocolate-cake hospitality at the expense of the US government.

Could there be a connection? Is the US taxpayer, of whom The Pumpkin is one, paying for a private Trump Tower Manila-flavoured thank-you gift to Duterte? I don’t suppose in the midst of everything else we shall ever know.

Kushner is in fact all over the press today, it is necessary only to Google ‘Kushner, Guinea’ to get the story from several newspapers behind Maddow’s exposé of his business relationship with Beny Steinmetz, an Israeli businessman whose companies are in the New York South District Court dock right now, charged with paying massive illegal bribes to the government of Equatorial Guinea for iron ore mining rights, following an FBI wiretap operation involving the widow of the late President, Sekou Touré.

Israel-based Steinmetz is alleged to have invested almost $200 million in Kushner’s properties, including a Trump Tower project, since his firm was indicted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That in itself would be prima facie evidence of corruption.

Yet nothing seems to touch the Trump family. The recent piece of brilliant investigative reporting by Adam Davidson in the New Yorker magazine linking Trump Organization via Ivanka to a deal over a Trump Tower in Azerbaijan that appears to have been part-financed with laundered money from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (a proscribed terror organization) in breach of international sanctions, through the profoundly corrupt Mammadov family, seems to have attracted barely more than a yawn, and a ‘well, he’s Trump, what do you expect?’ from the authorities. (The Trump lawyer who carried out the apparently innocent ‘due diligence’ search and greenlighted the illegal project in Baku has been given a key post in the administration.)

These kinds of deals are going to be increasingly difficult to uncover, as one of Trump’s earliest executive orders rescinded an Obama rule that companies involved in the energy and mining industries have to declare payments to foreign officials for extraction rights.

No prizes for speculating why he passed that particular Trump Turd, then.

Meanwhile details are emerging from the Wall Street Journal of some more of ‘Mr Kushner’s’ financial arrangements, including the news that he is indebted to more than 20 banks for a total of over $1 billion, part-guaranteed by Machiavellian billionaire speculator George Soros. Unfortunately he forgot to declare it when accepting his multitasking role as a White House advisor to his equally deeply indebted father-in-law, President Donald Trump.

There’s one world for them, and fuck the rest of us.

‘A mock-presidential cumface, like Frankie Howerd being sodomised by a camel.’

Sayings of the Week:

“Money is no longer a measure of value; for most people in the West it is merely a form of energy, like gas and electricity. The new currency of capitalism is data.” – Uncle Bogler

x

Long Essay

100 Days of Sod ’em

The problem, it seems to The Pumpkin, that the world’s media is having in presenting the mad, ugly, dysfunctional face of Trump to the public is that the appalling things he is doing – or trying to do – and the bizarre way he is going about doing them are so bewilderingly stratified as to be almost incapable of coherent rationalization in policy terms.

(A mock-presidential cum-face that, excuse me, rather resembles the late comedian Frankie Howerd being sodomised by a camel.)

Instead of grasping the bull by the horns and campaigning full-out to get the President removed from office urgently as a threat to national security, so clearly mentally unhinged is he, the media is salami-slicing Trump’s grotesque first 100 days, spinning out a catalogue of monstrosities as a disconnected series of odd events, and thus failing to present a holistic picture; presumably for considerations of space, as a comprehensive blow-by-blow critique is going to take a fair-sized tome.

Can The Pumpkin do better? Well, not a lot, but he’ll try.

For instance, we appear to have forgotten already that only a little over a week ago Trump had sent V-P Mike Pence, a weirdly smirking snow-capped tailor’s dummy, to South Korea, where he was threatening all-out nuclear war against tiny North Korea, until his boss realised that the nuclear-tipped ‘armada’ he thought someone had despatched to the southwestern Pacific to threaten President Kim was in fact 3,500 miles away in the Indian Ocean on exercises with the Australian navy.

Yes, within his first 100 days, the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful force on earth had managed to lose an aircraft carrier, two destroyers, a frigate and some supply ships.

Today, instead, he is lauding Kim Jong-un as ‘a smart cookie’ whom he would be ‘honoured to meet’ – this is the 33-year-old mass murderer and personality cult leader in charge of the most repressive regime on earth. The Daily Mail reported, not without relish:

“North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un executed his uncle by having him stripped naked and eaten alive by starving dogs while he watched, a report claimed yesterday.”

Honoured? Fuck’s sake. Make America great again, kowtow to a teenage psychopath who starves dogs. It’s pretty demeaning, but you can understand the envy with which the fragile ego constrained by civilized values contemplates the possibilities of absolute power. ‘Morning Joe’ Scarborough, thrown to starving women….

It’s only a few other days since Trump made a snide comment about how Kim had been involved in ‘failed’ negotiations with President Bill Clinton, not realizing that that was so long ago it would have had to be his father, Kim Jong-il. (Indeed, according to Prof Chomsky, North Korea has several times tried to make peace with the US by giving up its nuclear ambitions and been rebuffed.)

However, it does seem the strategy has been working, inasmuch as President Xi has been so alarmed by Trump’s aggressive irrationality, his ignorance of affairs in the western Pacific and charmed by the chocolate cake dessert at Mar-a-Lago, that he appears to be co-operating in cramming a lid at least for now on his chubby Korean ally’s more provocative nuclear flag-waving.

Nor, it was demonstrated in another weird appearance before the press last week, could Trump recall who his oyster-eyed acolyte, the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan is. Instead, he kept confusing him with former Senator Ron Paul, founder and practically the sole member of the Libertarian Party.

He continues to obsess like a dog at a bone about the election result, in which he failed by 2.8 million votes to win a popular majority; and about the poor turnout at his inauguration, holding more and more rallies of the faithful to convince himself that he really won, that he is really loved by the people.

He isn’t loved by the CIA, however; as, at a memorial service in January for their Cold War dead, he delivered an atrocious speech in the poorest possible taste, praising himself, his election victory and his record turnout.

You see, he’s too old for this. He’s still not in the mental space labelled President of the United States, and may never be.

Since taking office, Trump has not ameliorated his habit of reacting petulantly to every perceived criticism; continuing to Tweet out bilious, misspelled vengeful messages in the early hours in response to anything he half-remembers seeing on TV news. It got him into serious trouble early in March when, at 06.30 on the 4th, this appeared:

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

The story is cloudy. Trump’s grasp of the history of McCarthyism is tenuous, he later amended the analogy to ‘Watergate’, but it appears the President was jumping to conclusions after seeing a story from Breitbart News among his morning briefs, that was subsequently traced to a so-called ‘alt-right’ website, InfoWars, run by the demented shock-jock Alex Jones; and thence to other obscure rightwing sources; and may ultimately have had its origins in a manufactured leak back in the White House.

The story broke just as the FBI investigation into connections between team Trump and Russian intelligence was getting interesting, and when the FBI dismissed the wiretap allegations as unproven and absurd, Trump proceeded via Fox News to an even wilder allegation against the British intelligence monitoring service, GCHQ, that provides the NSA with all the latest European and Russian scuttlebut, plus weekly copies of this, muh bogl.

Two weeks later, however, there appeared to be some tangential truth in Trump’s madness when it became clear that GCHQ was the source of the original allegations against Trump staffers, in particular one Carter Page, a ‘deniable’ self-deluding international fixer, as the British had intercepted conversations in 2015 with Russian agents who were already under routine monitoring and the FBI had obtained a FISA order to surveille Page.

The story thus dissolved into the normal smoke-and-mirrors of friendly clandestine spying operations between nations and took the heat off the President and what if any role he may have played in allowing or encouraging Russian military intelligence to hack his competitors’ servers to dig up dirt he could use against Clinton.

Trump thus felt totally vindicated, until on the 20th FBI Director James Comey confirmed to a Congressional hearing that Obama was innocent but he was still investigating the Russian connection. The hearings were abruptly halted by Republican chairman Devin Nunes when it became clear that the next key witness was going to be Sally Yates, the former Acting Attorney-General, who had been abruptly fired by Trump over ‘what she knew’ about National Security Advisor, General Mike T Flynn – who had himself been fired after lying about his Russian connections.

So bizarre and clearly panic-stricken was Chairman Nunes’ behaviour in attempting to suppress his own investigation – fed another anonymous ‘intelligence dossier’ via the back door of the White House ‘proving’ Obama’s treachery, he subsequently pretended to hand it in to the Presidemt and then claimed that the hearings were continuing in secret at his home without any of the committee members being invited – he was eventually forced to recuse himself and would do well to book himself into rehab.

But the hearings have not been resumed as the matter has since proceeded up to the Senate, where there’s again a small Republican majority. It seems unlikely to get any further; there is talk of Grand Juries already sitting, but the Justice Department is being packed with Trump appointees who will surely not dare to challenge him. There is as yet no sign of the kind of dogged Special Prosecutor who did for Nixon or Clinton.

This astonishing kerfuffle was so irregular that it seems almost to have been forgotten about, but it clearly illustrates the disturbing nature of the administration and the smokescreen of chaos with which it has deliberately surrounded itself.

The fact that Trump had instantly Tweeted out his total belief in a phoney claim made in a most dubious publication without bothering to check the facts with his security advisors and the FBI surely indicates either that he is temperamentally unfit to be the President, or that he rightly has no faith in his security advisors.

Nevertheless he is still there, and may be until January, 2021 at least. It is hard to see who or what will remove him, other than if he were to make a determined sexual assault on Nancy Pelosi on the floor of the House.

Meanwhile, the ‘Golden Showergate’ dossier, a 35-page report compiled by former British MI6 Russia-desk officer Chris Steele from Russian intelligence sources indicating that Trump might have been the victim of a kompromat operation by Putin’s spies, and that he was a potential security threat, remained in the background, parts of it being occasionally confirmed by Congressional investigators, the FBI and the CIA, to no apparent overall effect.

The story of Teflon Donald’s first 100 days, about the historically unprecedented success of which he has already begun making promotional TV commercials, complete with paranoid attacks on the ‘fake news’ media, also reveals the unprecedentedly shambolic nature of his fumbling maladministration, his incredibly poor and uninformed capacity for rational thought or judgement; and ignores his past criminal associations, his doubtful financial record, his compulsive lying, his boasting, his ungrammatical confusions, his ignorance of detail, his ‘flip-flopping’ (We prefer the more grown-up ‘bewilderment’. Ed.) on so many key issues.

This week, for instance, we had more of his rambling, incoherent, self-contradictory assertions – the latest of which is that former President Andrew Jackson, a brutal slavemaster and genocide of Native Americans whom Trump greatly admires for his ‘big heart’, was so concerned about the issues surrounding the origins of the Civil War that he might have prevented it had it not been for Abraham Lincoln invading the South.

Never mind that he died sixteen years before the first shot was fired by the Confederacy at Fort Sumter.

Now, detailed examination of this rubbish – Trump also speculated that, had he been there at the time, he would personally have prevented the war, and complained that ‘nobody (but him) ever asks’ about the causes of the war – the purpose of possibly several hundred books on the subject he will never have heard of – which were much misunderstood, would lead one to the conclusion that the President a) has no knowledge whatever of American history, yet is perfectly prepared to pose for his Dumbfucks as an expert; and b) is so mentally unstable and narcissistic as to constitute a danger to the free world.

For it must be obvious to anyone with eyes to see, that he is also posing as a President.

But there is no time for such detailed examination, because no sooner has the liberal establishment expressed amazement and concern over one bizarre interview or scandal brewing than there will come another, and another to confound everyone.

The media is never going to convince his supporters that they made a stupid decision, even when it is clearly shown that his American Healthcare bill, that failed abysmally at its first hurdle and was withdrawn without a vote, sneaking back this week in a barely revised form, will not only disqualify millions of poorer Americans – including themselves – from holding adequate health insurance, but will penalize many with pre-existing conditions so severely that they will simply be left to die.

That is actually Republican Party policy, to get the sick and the State-dependant off the books as fast as possible; while at the same time gerrymandering constituencies by the simple expedient of disenfranchising black and Latino voters likely to be Democrats, and passing laws preventing Democratic party politicians from passing laws.

Numerous other of Trump’s huge and generalized campaign promises, seemingly made on the hoof, have turned out to be bullshit. But not all. And advantage is being taken of the abrasive tone of his campaign speeches by other sections of his party.

Among some of the extraordinary laws Republican States administrations have been trying to pass since the election is, for instance, the formal exoneration of motorists who kill demonstrators by running them over if they obstruct the highway. The Pumpkin hopes that was fake news. States that had liberalized personal marijuana possession are being forced to recriminalize it. Masked and well-armed State police have threatened they will be out early, kicking down doors. Oklahoma has been racing to execute more prisoners before they run out of drugs to do the job.

A kind of licensed brutality is in the air, but so little is comprehensively reported that it doesn’t look like a takeover by the authoritarian far-right, which it plainly is.

First Amendment freedom of the press to criticise the President is also becoming an issue.

The coverage by the mainstream media that reaches most Americans is disturbingly supine and respectful, as if they are dealing with a normal person, a normal administration that is perhaps just a little wayward in its early days, but which will straighten up and fly right eventually.

“I’ve got a little list”

Any actual criticism is shrugged off by the Trump propagandists as ‘fake news’; but like Nanki-poo, they’ve ‘got a little list’. The ‘enemies of the people’, as he continually calls them, aware of corporate financial pressures on their editorial staff and the ongoing loss of advertising to the internet, the rise of so-called ‘citizen media’ making the cost of investigative reporting prohibitive, the ‘failing media’ is conspiring to prevent Trump making America great again, and that’s what his supporters will believe until their dying day.

In fact, many Americans have met their dying days since Trump took office: not only the service personnel unnecessarily sacrificed to his vanity and military incompetence. The toll of record floods, raging wildfires, supercell storms and tornados, droughts, record temperatures and big-freeze ice storms is running into the hundreds, just this year. Sixteen more, including several children, died in floods and tornados only yesterday in Texas and the midwest – Trumpland. The climate is running rapidly out of control; and so is the oil-fuelled, coal-burning President, in hock to the denial industry.

And nobody cares, nobody apparently wants to see that their hero is just the extreme manifestation of the elitism of the rich and powerful, the very embodiment of ‘the swamp’ he promised them he would drain; that he has not the slightest interest in helping people he calls ‘the losers’ but, with his history of bankruptcies and lawsuits, his tax avoidance and huge unpaid debts to foreign banks, is out only to enrich himself and his already obscenely wealthy friends, driven mad by money; and, if the allegations prove true, his Russian paymaster.

The Pumpkin could enumerate literally dozens of horrible, awful things Trump has either initiated or agreed to.

What human being but a complete sadist or the crazed ‘supermom’ Sarah Palin, with her Tea Party morality and her sexually incontinent children would readily agree to sign an order licensing hunters to shoot hibernating she-bears with cubs?

It is incomprehensible that such a minute detail of administration should occupy any President in his first 100 days, yet there he was, his camel-fucked Presidential cum-face glowing like an amber traffic light next to his ridiculous squiggle on a document licensing many such horrors, a gurning crew of macho poltroons lined up proudly behind him for the photo-op.

This is surely one monstrous old poser, a cretin bereft of most human values, who is bound straight for Hell by express delivery.

“A cretin surely bound for Hell by express delivery”

The man is wittingly or otherwise an ecocide, a world criminal, having attempted to push through more than fifty such orders removing protections and precautions for the environment, for the climate, for wildlife in a frenzied onslaught on our fragile ecology, with no comprehension, no compassion, no vision – no belief in anything other than the power of money; as if we can eat money, drink it, breathe it – survive it.

He has been obsessive in his vindictive, childish determination to remove every trace of his more popular predecessor, Obama; to trash his reputation and to exceed his excesses with barbaric enthusiasm.

Federal agency budgets have been cut savagely*, NASA has been told to drop its satellite weather monitoring program; the National Monuments lands are under threat of development, permits being granted for aggressive pipeline projects and unrestricted drilling in formerly protected wilderness areas, the Arctic, all in the name of creating ‘thousands and thousands’ of jobs that will in fact disappear as US energy production goes into overdrive for no commercial reason – global demand is already far exceeded, the oil price has collapsed.

Energy industry transparency is being shut down; coal revived and dishonestly or foolishly promoted by Trump as ‘the cleanest energy ever’. Government scientists are being barred from publishing climate research, federal agencies barred from carrying out their duty of issuing public information on environmental matters, their administrations hollowed-out, gone. Climate change? ‘It’s a hoax’. (Has been since the 1880s when CO2 was first outed as a greenhouse gas. A long time to maintain a hoax involving tens of thousands of trained postgraduate scientists, possibly.)

The problem is, you see, once Trump has to get to grips with a little basic science, he becomes the greatest atmospheric physicist the world has ever known. Who better then to declare global warming a hoax?

Then there are his financial dealings; the dealings of the smartest negotiator, possibly ever; the smartest businessman. Simply Google: ‘Trump’, plus the name of any Russian bank – Alfabank, Sberbank, Deutsche Bank; ‘Trump’ plus Azerbaijan; ‘Trump’ plus Rybolovlev; ‘Trump’ plus Moscow, plus Mafia…. Even the rightwing Daily Mail was shocked by that last one. The evidence of money-laundering, of association with criminal enterprises at home and abroad is everywhere you look. Every day throws up the name of another oligarch with alleged connections to Trump and his gang.

For The Pumpkin, Trump’s most unique attribute is this: a man born into wealth, who need never have done any work in his life, something in his upbringing, some Trump family gene, some parental abuse has caused him to live his life like a ragged-arsed immigrant clawing his way out of the Bowery in about 1910, willing to do anything at all, whatever it takes to survive.

The gold of Trump is just leaf, the swagger and smarm a veneer. Underneath he is pure Charlie Chaplin; pure Bugsy Siegel, pure Clyde Barrow: a poor bastard who has turned himself through the desperate desire to prove himself good enough for his father, but who can only measure his progress in money, into a deceitful, facile thug.

His closest associates in the White House, his campaign team, his transition team… many of them are tarnished by similar allegations, financial dealings with corrupt foreign oligarchs and governments; attempts to thwart FBI investigations; billionaire ‘disruptors’ pursuing obscure rightwing and Christian fundamentalist causes, using their vast wealth to influence the outcome of elections, to undermine democratic institutions and cause profitable chaos in order to grasp more.

Wall Street sharks are filling the administration – we should understand that, while on the campaign trail Mr Trump admonished Goldman Sachs in particular, they are the financial advisor that made most of his connections to lenders such as Deutsche Bank and Bank of China, lenders to whom he owes more than a billion dollars; and to whose former executives he has in return entrusted all of the major financial arms of the State.

These are not conspiracy theories, those people are quite open, even boastful about their objectives and methods. They believe, apparently not without good reason, that they are at last untouchable: the Masters of the Universe, back in overwhelming numbers and in reach of real political power at last.

Trump’s immigration policy has been wild, insane, sickening. He has encouraged dreadful divisions in US society, turning people against foreigners and Muslims;  branding all migrants in this land of migrants as criminals, drug dealers, rapists.

Families that have been settled in America for decades are being torn apart as thuggish border goons interpret their remit, unopposed by Congress, to drag hardworking fathers and mothers in handcuffs, even from hospital beds, away from their American children to detention centres from where after a perfunctory hearing they are bundled out, having committed no crime other than to exist, to countries where they have no homes, no connections, no work.

Extra judges are being press-ganged to sit in 24-hour immigration tribunals; punitive funding cuts threatened against ‘sanctuary cities’ whose mayors refuse to impose draconian rules against useful and productive ‘illegals’. It is an onslaught that invites comparisons with Nazi Germany.

Yet immigration is vital: the native American birthrate is well below replacement, the population – as elsewhere in the Western world, is ageing.

Trump’s boneheaded and valueless attempts on ‘security’ grounds to ban temporarily, people traveling from countries from where no actual terrorist threats have ever emanated, the so-called Muslim travel ban, that absurdly has not been applied to prolific terror-sponsoring nations like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, ended twice in chaos and confusion, leading to face-offs with the courts and those he reviled as ‘so-called judges’, risking in his ignorance of the workings of Government a major confrontation between the Executive, Judicial and Congressional branches of the State.

Even a former Norwegian Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, on his way to a prayer breakfast (don’t ask me. Ed.) was detained for two hours of questioning at Dulles airport, an incriminating Iranian visa stamp in his passport. And there’s talk of more and more oppressive Homeland Security – the compulsory surrender of personal media passwords, for instance; while Trump has readily signed over to internet service providers the automatic right to sell subscriber data – both measures in fact reducing the national cybersecurity.

He seems to do whatever anybody tells him, provided they are rich enough.

Trump’s much-vaunted promises to build a grandiose and ineffectual wall between the US and Mexico, that Mexico would pay for, that would divide border communities and hinder normal commercial flows worth $billions, have so far thankfully remained unfunded, despite his unfounded belief that it would totally halt the flow of drugs and illegal migrants into the USA.

His vain threats to impose punitive trade tariffs on Mexican goods, it has been shown, would have a negative effect on American consumers, while his promise to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, that he has now abandoned, merely showed him up as being ignorant of its real economic benefits and the costs of ending it. He persists in the hubris that isolationism is the way to restore the stagnant incomes of Americans, while the Federal Reserve continues to print money to lubricate the banks and holds interest rates at zero.

In his first 100 days, so many of his spontaneously generated campaign chickens have come home to roost. Being President is more complicated than he thought. So, Donald, go?

Likewise, another ‘ten-minute briefing’ at the White House with NATO chief Lars Stoltenburg caused another 180-degree turn in policy: ‘failing’ and ‘irrelevant’, NATO is now important once again; although one cannot be sure that he has been cured of his erroneous belief that NATO pays the USA money in exchange for a defence umbrella, and that many member States are not paying what they owe. Hence his $390 billion ‘invoice’ to Angela Merkel.

No, Donald, that’s not how it works! It’s a treaty organization guaranteeing mutual defense. NATO members are independent nations. They commit to keeping their defence budgets at a certain level, but they all have different GDP to begin with! Different defence requirements. And the treaty obliges them to come to your aid too, if the USA is attacked. NATO is not, as he hoped, some kind of standing army, that will take on ISIS terrorists on its own initiative.

This is a man almost entirely ignorant of the affairs of State, of how the world works, of the history of international relations, who is undergoing a learning-curve that seems almost entirely beyond his capabilities to negotiate. Is that not a serious enough failing in a President, in the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful armed force in world history, by whom one mistake could end human civilization?

Earlier in April, while at dinner with the Chinese President at his vulgar golf resort in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, from which he continues to profit while in office, Trump theatrically left the table to sanction a strike by 59 cruise missiles on an airbase in Syria, thereby overturning his own non-intervention policy. It appeared to be an emergency, but by a strange coincidence, his entire security team were already there, waiting in another room.

The strike was ineffectual and although justified as a show of force to tell President Assad he couldn’t use chemical weapons on civilians, and to tell President Xi the US has a tough guy in charge who means business, it was widely seen as a convenient distraction from the FBI’s investigations into Trump’s Russian connections.

Mr Trump later expressed awe at his own military power and suggested he had just realized you had to be careful with this stuff as missiles could kill people. Nine civilians, including four children, died so that he could discover the principle. It was reminiscent of Mr Trump’s revelations regarding uranium, that could be used to make ‘bad things’, who knew?; and his naive query as to why, if we have nuclear weapons, we don’t use them more? Was he joking?

No, his budget provided for billions of dollars to increase the nuclear capability, that is already sufficient to eradicate all life on the planet several times over.

But a strong military is essential for the defence of the nation – and good for share prices.

Soon afterwards his airforce dropped an 11,000-lb MOAB air burst bomb on a cave complex in Afghanistan, killing – it’s thought – 36 ISIS guerrillas, a piece of theatrical sabre-rattling designed to intimidate the North Koreans, against whom Trump began fulminating the next day. His record of drone strikes has far exceeded even that of his predecessor, Obama; ‘collateral’, civilian casualties have quadrupled as his military has been told there will be no criticism, no comebacks, whatever they have to do to get the job done. (The ‘job’ is to eradicate the so-called Islamic State by saturation bombing, another futile policy.)

Since Trump took office, US troops have been sent by the thousand in secret to several more potential theatres of war. He has placed a blanket ban on announcing military operations. He has previously said that the objective of US military policy should be to ‘seize the oil’. He was persuaded not to do that in Iraq, only when it was pointed out to him which side the US was fighting on.

The corrupt appointments: his family members, friends of the family, his financial backers, the party’s financial backers, the backers and staff of Breitbart News, gimlet-eyed military hawks, demonstrably stupid, venal and incompetent local political hicks, all rewarded with key government posts they are not remotely qualified to fill; other, many other posts left vacant – key ambassadorships, heads of department – all are indicative of his inexperience, his isolation as CEO of his own business.

His proposed tax reforms, for instance, all one page of them (in easy to read bullet points), benefitting corporations and the top point two percent of the most wealthy to the tune of, literally, trillions of dollars; gouging the poor and the middle-class, will scarcely pass with no-one in the Treasury in charge of the country’s tax planning; but that post remains unfilled too, another empty department.

Under the toxic Attorney-General, Jefferson Beauregard ‘Jeff’ Sessions 111, who lied about his meetings with the Russian ambassador and had to recuse himself from any investigation of Trump’s team and its unexplained connections with Russia, the Justice Department is filling up with Trump appointees, after he fired all the circuit judges in January without any replacements lined up. The southern racialist, anti-civil rights, anti-abortion advocate and avowed Confederate supporter, Sessions has been busy removing any legal constraints on the actions of the police nationwide.

General Flynn, the first National Security Advisor, waved through by the Trump administration on the basis of an old security clearance that should have been revoked after he was fired by Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, lasted 24 days in post before having to stand down after being caught lying about connections with Russia. They began to emerge in 2016, and have still not stopped emerging, as he took substantial sums of money as an undeclared ‘foreign agent’ for obscure PR efforts on behalf of Russia, and of Turkey – financed by the Russians.

Trump’s son-in-law, the 36-year-old property speculator Jared Kushner, too, who is wearing a bewildering array of ‘hats’ in the White House, including a brief to re-engineer the entire administrative machinery in Washington, was caught lying about contacts he had with Russian Ambassador Kysliev; while since the inauguration a number of prominent Russian diplomats, bankers and business ‘contacts’ based in Washington (and one or two in Moscow) have unexpectedly died, including the Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin – whose autopsy results have been Classified.

The Russian connection extended to apparent attempts to influence the election through the hacking of Democratic party servers and the release via the ever-useful Wikileaks of what the FBI found were non-incriminating emails sent and received by Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager John Podesta. In March Mr Trump seems to have employed a British politician, Nigel Farage, as a go-between to Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange – but Sessions has since had a new warrant issued for Assange’s arrest on old charges of leaking classified documents.

(Beware of Assange’s revenge!)

Farage is an associate of Raheem Kassam, the UK editor of Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News website, and a ‘friend’ of ultra-rightwing billionaire fund manager, Robert Mercer, who with his daughter Rebekah funds Breitbart. Other Breitbart writers and section editors have received posts in the administration, including ‘Dr’ Sebastian Gorka, a British-Hungarian security analyst with suspected connections to a secretive neo-Nazi movement in Hungary (he has now left the administration). Mercer’s company, Cambridge Analytica, is alleged to have been behind computer ‘botnet’ attacks on the British EU referendum, in which Farage campaigned prominently for ‘Brexit’.

Bannon and other wealthy disruptors are linked in a tenuous network with Republican funders and Russian oligarchs promoting religious and racial ‘purity’ and an Islamophobic, antisemitic agenda. They seem in the early days at least to have ‘captured the castle’ as far as Trump and his administration were concerned, giving rise to the suggestion that the President is merely a ‘useful idiot’ in a plot to undermine Western democratic institutions and to destroy the US government in its present form – as Bannon boasted was his intention in a speech to the Conservative CPAC conference in January, at which young, wealthy male delegates notoriously gave a Nazi salute, shouting Heil Trump!, apparently without irony – a plot in which the Russian president Putin is suspected of having a disruptive hand.

Trump seems to have an unhealthy regard for ‘strongman’ dictators: in addition to his expressed admiration for Duterte and North Korea’s Kim, he has happily received at the White House such humanitarians as General al-Sisi of Egypt, Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel and Viktor Orban of Hungary – an old friend of Gorka’s – and has refused to criticise either Putin or the increasingly paranoid Erdogan of Turkey, to whom he Tweeted congratulations on scraping through a referendum giving him absolute powers for life (Following which, Erdogan proceeded to arrest or suspend another ten thousand government officials as ‘plotters’ supposedly supporting his nemesis, the US-exiled cleric Fetullah Gulen).

Indeed, Trump has praised both of them lavishly; and it seems General Flynn’s missions may have helped to bring about a rapprochement between the two countries – as indeed did those of Russian oligarch Aleksandr Dugin – and, perhaps, advancing a lucrative undersea gas pipeline deal bypassing Syria for Noble Energy – a company drilling in collaboration with the Israeli energy sector, in which Trump has shares; one of whose former directors, George Papadopoulos is an Energy Advisor appointee in the Trump administration.

Yet he pretty much cold-shouldered Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Abe, appearing to fall asleep standing up and noticeably refusing to wear his translation earpiece at their joint press conferences, so he had no idea what they were saying.

As a result, his foreign policy is a total muddle that no-one can clearly follow. As is his administration.

His Foreign Policy pointman, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – former boss of America’s biggest oil company – has no diplomatic experience, and virtually no diplomatic or administrative support at the State Department, which has been hollowed-out with over 500 appointments still vacant; there are 34 ambassadors yet to be hired, many to key countries around the world – South Korea, Japan, Singapore. Entire foreign desks, including China, are missing. Is it deliberate? It feels like a Bannon policy.

The Commerce Secretary – an old ‘consigliere’ to the Trump family, billionaire Wilbur Ross was until this March a major investor in and vice-chair of Bank of Cyprus, a known conduit to the west for sanctioned Russian money. His fellow directors included the former head of Deutsche Bank, another money-laundering bank that lent Trump hundreds of millions of dollars, much of which he was unable to pay back. Who owns those debts now? Trump connection Dmitry Rybolovlev owns 10 per cent of the bank. Trump was reported to have benefited from a property deal they did in Florida, to the tune of $60 million. The property was subsequently pulled down as being unfit for habitation.

The former Attorney General of Oklahoma, the climate-change-denying baboon Scott Pruitt, equally has no-one running the key departments at the Environment Protection Agency, that he has vowed in any case to destroy as it conflicts with the demands of his benefactors, the energy companies. He has sued the EPA on behalf of fracking interests on 14 separate occasions. Pruitt fought for years to prevent the release of emails subpoena’d by environmentalists expected to show his connection to the fabulously wealthy mining and energy extractors, the Koch Brothers; America’s third biggest polluters of all three carbon ‘sinks’.

Trump’s appointment as Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, had no public administration experience in the Education field, other than co-owning a business pursuing student debtors. A Christian fundamentalist, she’s the wife of Amway pyramid-selling multi-billionaire and friend of Trump’s, Dick DeVos – who as the owner of healthcare corporations stands potentially to benefit from the new American Care Act if it ever passes.

DeVos’ Spectrum Healthcare was revealed in February to be one of only two users sharing a mysterious email server in a small town in Pennsylvania, traced to the Trump Organization. The other user was the Russian Alfabank, owned by Mikhail Fridman, an oligarch who, Fortune magazine reported, was planning to divest his oil holdings in Rosneft and go into ‘US healthcare’.

Other, lesser appointments reveal a catalogue of incompetents promoted above their capabilities, with woeful CVs, suggesting that no-one in their right mind would want to work for this failing administration.

One success Trump can claim is the appointment of a far-right Supreme Court judge, Neil S Gorsuch, 49, who has an unblemished record of finding against individuals in cases involving corporations and whose career has been bankrolled by oil, sports and leisure industry magnate, Philip Anschutz (net worth $11 bn). To get him appointed, the Republicans on the Approvals committee had to get Congress to change the rules, having filibustered furiously for over a year to keep President Obama from filling the vacant position with a Democrat, but hey, it was a triumph. Of sorts.

Mr Gorsuch’s first act in office was to use his casting vote in favour of executing another black man.

Trump’s relationship with the press has been a disaster of epic proportions, thanks to his hapless, blustering, bullying dimwit of a Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, and his lunatic PR flack Kellyanne Conway – inventor of the ‘alternative truth’.

While there may be humour in the situation, less humorous have been the threats issued against journalists by Trump’s senior policy advisor, Stephen K Bannon; and now, hollow threats by the pathetic Reince Priebus, the White House’s sidelined ‘Chief of Staff’, to rewrite the First Amendment to the constitution in order to modify the concept of free speech for the press. Even to think that might be possible is to countenance the kind of authoritarian administration that characterized Germany in the 1930s; yet Trump’s compulsive, illiterate 3 a.m. Tweeting accusing minor female celebrities of being too fat makes him a pretty comic, second-rate Hitler.

Can we just laugh him out of office? Well, no. He wouldn’t even attend the annual dinner last weekend of the White House Press Corps he despises, after being insulted with humour last year. His only eye on the world is Fox News.

And it just goes on. The refusal to release his tax returns; the leaks, both intentional and not; the illegal profiting from foreign government money funnelled through his hotel in Washington, subsidised by the government estates department that owns the freehold of the building; the threats to sue anyone who writes the sort of things I am writing here; the smell of cover-up and national decay, the permanent smokescreen of confusion and chaos – the primacy of money above humanity.

Indeed, the only question one can ask is, in Trump’s own notorious words, just what the Hell is going on?

To say Trump’s presidency has thus far been a cataclysm and promises only to get worse is an understatement. His military men are still looking for some excuse to go to war, probably with Iran unless North Korea runs another nuclear test or Assad gasses some more civilians or China blockades the South China Sea. Maybe even with Russia, if they step out of line. He seems to have no moral compass when it comes to discussing pre-emptive strikes.

The energy industry with its vast power to lobby governments and to buy politicians like you’d buy a pound of bananas is clearly in charge now of both domestic and foreign policy, regardless of the increasingly alarming, adverse climate data Trump is rushing to suppress; in fact, you could describe it as a global coup unfolding, a grab for the last of our fossil fuel reserves. And the Pentagon is right there with them, Trump’s office is stiff with retired generals – he looks up to strict, authoritative men, like his Dad presumably. He’s a mess of post-parental conflicts and complexes.

Even now, teaching packs are being sent out to schools, telling children climate change is a hoax, there’s nothing to worry about. Will Mrs DeVos stop them? Well, she wants schools to teach Creationism and abstention rather than birth control, she’s homophobic too, so the Pumpkin doubts it. Obama’s liberal edict permitting transgender students to pee in whichever bathroom they prefer has also been rescinded.

Women’s rights too have come under ferocious attack, especially since the four-million march outnumbered Trump’s inauguration crowd; family planning clinics around the world have been defunded from government aid programs. Consumer protections, pollution controls, vehicle emissions limits are being trashed as ‘business-unfriendly’ – and to hell with children’s developing brains.

One hopeful sign, Trump himself has acknowledged in his 100-days interviews that the task of playing at being President is beyond him, telling the world how happy he was just running his family property business and franchising his name and Ivanka’s decorative schemes out to developers of Trump this-and-that around the world; her Chinese sweat-shop-made clothing ranges that he continues to promote on her behalf despite his hypocritical and economically disastrous demands that US businesses buy and sell and manufacture only in the USA; his Canute-like attempts to rollback globalization.

Healthcare? More complicated than expected. The role and purpose of opposition parties? Unexpectedly obstructive. Syria? Complicated. North Korea? His new friend Mr Xi, who executes more prisoners than Arkansas, has explained: it’s complicated.

The man demonstrates it with every breath: an arrogant, thin-skinned, spoiled, narcissistic, childish buffoon; ignorant, unlettered and not in control of his thoughts: he has no mental discipline, no ordered mind; he is observably barely literate: ‘Some of my best friends, contractors, good friends, can’t read or write.’ he told a campaign rally. ‘That doesn’t mean they’re not smart.’ He has stupid ideas, but reverences them as a toddler might proudly present its mother with a nappy full of shit: look ma, see what I just made!

His aides, alarmed, reported that he has the attention span of a four-year-old with ADHD and does not take briefings or read papers of state, he just watches TV all day between signing stuff he doesn’t appear to read. He spends three days a week golfing at Mar-a-Lago, at a projected cost to the taxpayer of $30 million a year; it’s another business, as well as his other golf courses around the world, that he continues to plug mercilessly for profit despite the clear conflict of interest.

He doesn’t care. The theft, the kleptomania are blatant, and his supporters don’t care as long as he allows the mentally ill to own guns – another of his early edicts. His sucking-up to the National Rifle Association has been craven and disturbing: especially from a former gun-control advocate, he now wants to arm the nation three times over, it’s great for jobs. Never mind the thirty thousand gunshot fatalities every year, against which ‘terrorism’, which he equates purely with Islam, white racist attacks don’t count, pales into complete insignificance.

Trump supporters are a kind of death cult.

It’s understandable they felt left behind, he was a symbol of change – only not in the way they expected. Many indeed hope he will bring about the End Times, when they shall see God, get to meet Jesus.

When he promised to ‘drain the swamp’ and has instead appointed lobbyists and Goldman Sachs executives and promised to let Tillerson’s buddies drill on open range in national parks and on monument land that is pretty much sacred to those people, when he cheats on his healthcare promises so their mothers and children are going to die prematurely from cancers, and stinking-rich corrupt Republican politicians tell them Jesus will take care of them if they live right, when he proposes to blow another $50 billion on the military, and they still think he’s great, that he’s cleaning out the stable and raising the stars and stripes, well, who are we to deny them this extraordinary fantasy world they’re living in?

It’s been 100 days that shook our world, and The Pumpkin can’t see the shaking is going to stop until Vice-President Pence exercises his constitutional right and duty to have the senile President carted off with his arms folded, like that’s ever going to happen; or until Mr Comey and the FBI get their finger out and arrest him; or Congress impeaches him.

Like that’s ever going to happen.

The best the USA can hope for is that he will eventually come to and realize, he’s too old and tired and befuddled to run again. Let Jared have the job; let Ivanka.

In the meantime, although the Democrats have also become flaccid tools of the corporate overlords, at least a Democrat victory in the mid-term elections next year might wrest control of the Congress out of the hands of the Republicans, many of whom are as batshit crazy, dumb, actually evil and corrupt as any of the swamp-monsters, billionaire Christian fundamentalists and fuel-fossils in the White House.

And hope for President Elizabeth Warren in 2020.

 

*Not so, we hear. Voting on the budget, following the global March for Science, Congress has inserted modest increases for federal science programs this year. Not all is rosy: Trump’s orders are for cuts to bite in 2018.

 

Postscriptum

My admiration for President Duterte of the Philippines just went up a notch.

Trump, whose new American Healthcare bill passed the House and if ratified in the Senate (unlikely) would see hundreds and thousands of Americans condemned to an early death for lack of medical care while the money goes to tax breaks for the wealthy, invited the self-confessed murderer to the White House.

And Duterte told him no thanks, he’s far too busy.

 

 

Whizz, bang, pop: The Pumpkin – Issue 15. Plus: Beating the Retweet; Tending to the Extremes.

Mr Xi reveals he also has tiny hands. So far, so good.

Before we start, will the BBC please sack their supine, regime-compliant, uncritical so-called ‘Senior US Editor’ John Sopel? The man is a pathetic pushover, a Trump shill who makes no effort to investigate, establish or explain the unpleasant truths behind his shallow, cliche-ridden reports but merely contents himself with praising the satanic Orange Liar and its traitorous regime.

Fuck him. He is less a journalist than a PR baboon.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/live/bbcone

(Is it okay to say this sort of thing over the Interwhatsit? I mean, they won’t withdraw their advertising? Ed.)

For a complete contrast to the routine disgraceful normalisation of Trump’s dystopian White House in UK media, The Pumpkin suggests you read Adam Gopnik’s piece in The New Yorker, 6 April. It’s not as long as the URL would suggest:

http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-new-dark-art-of-trump-towerology?mbid=nl_TNY%20Template%20-%20With%20Photo%20(154)&CNDID=49581041&spMailingID=10780658&spUserID=MTkwODY5NzgyMTM0S0&spJobID=1140557724&spReportId=MTE0MDU1NzcyNAS2

Thank you, carry on.

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Where’s this going?

By: Pumpkin Chief  America Editor, John Sopoor ©2017 @anywherebuthere

The world is agog. What does this overnight change of policy towards Syria mean?

My assumption is it means General McMaster is now running the country, and after rationalising the Bannon problem on the Security Council has taken Jared Kushner under his wing; while Ivanka will have “softened” her loving father’s approach with a few tearful, well-chosen words about dead “beautiful” children; as if Assad hasn’t been killing both beautiful and plug-ugly children indiscriminately by the thousand for the last six years while Trump supported his predecessor’s drone-infested non-intervention policy that he now says was responsible for the attack on Khan Sheikhoun. (The UN has charted 161 chemical attacks during that time.)

(And as if he didn’t have his goons throw a woman with a “beautiful” crying baby out of one of his campaign shenanigans last year. And as Jonathan Freedland points out in The Guardian today, as if Trump hasn’t been trying for weeks to ban Syrian children from fleeing to safety in the USA.)

It means that Mr Trump is holding a summit with President Xi today – ringside tickets at $200 thousand apiece – and wishes to send a strong signal from General McMaster that he means business over North Korea, business over the South China Sea, business over… er, business. Sixty cruise missiles at $832 thousand each just to crater an airfield is not a rap over the knuckles for Assad, it is a show that the Orange Oligarch can afford to blow $50 million of US taxpayers’ money on a one-night stand. Sixty missiles incidentally manufactured by Raytheon, a company listing as a stockholder, one… er, Donald J Trump.

It no doubt amused someone that President Xi learned about the assault over dessert. After all, did the Chinese not invent fireworks?

It means Mr Trump has had a chat with Mr Putin who has reluctantly agreed to get his men out of the target area while Mr Trump has a play with his missiles. Suitably patriotic images of their bright, hopeful rocket trails leaving US destroyers up past Old Glory into the night sky have been distributed, and Mr Trump’s weak and failing old eyes will have sparkled in the light. The chat probably took place a few days ago, when Mr Trump called to commiserate with Mr Putin over the St Petersburg train bombing.

Hope that it represents any sort of a coherent policy shift on Syria seems less certain. The mainstream media held in such contempt by Bannon/Trump has rushed yet again to hail this example of his maturity, firmness and wisdom, as they did after his disastrous budget speech that had only the virtue of not having been written by him. The media has got to stop normalising Trump and support those in government and the security services who are working to impeach him.

However much you respect the office, the tenant is not what you would wish him to be. He is a well-suspected financial criminal, a con-man, a compulsive liar, a nepotist and serial bankrupt with traitorous and amoral associates. He owes millions of dollars to your enemies’ private and State banks. He is so clueless and biddable as to be a danger to world peace. Find somebody better.

I am reliably informed by MSNBC that of the 530 vacancies in the State Department that opened up at the start of the Trump administration, for want of a better word, 76 days ago, including most of the top diplomatic positions, only 12 have so far been filled. There is still no China desk, so Mr McMaster will have had his work cut out preparing the ‘President’ for the summit.

The senior diplomat, the unqualified Mr Tillerson is operating virtually a high-wire act without a net: he travels with just a small clutch of ex-oil industry cronies and no press pack. He doesn’t trust civil servants, and indeed staffers have been ordered not to address him, or even to look at him directly. (This might be because he is too important, blindingly effulgent even, but it looks to me more like shame.)

It seems to suggest that negotiators with any Middle Eastern diplomatic experience are going to be thin on the ground, despite Kushner’s baptism of fire on a joint Iraq-Kurdish security round-table last week at which the only other US delegate supporting the 14-year-old plastic wunderkind appears to have been a man identified as one of Mr Trump’s personal bodyguard; a goon in a track-suit prominently displaying the Adidas logo.

Where I am struggling for air is to understand why no-one has asked if, the instant Mr Trump makes the inevitable gaffe with ‘Xi who must be obeyed’, the Chinese leader would not simply ask for the money back? Although China has recently dumped a lot of US debt, which has fallen to only $1.12 trillion (Japan is now America’s largest creditor), Mr Trump and his business associates have outstanding loans from Bank of China (and other banks) worth almost $1bn (Mother Jones).

Then, it wouldn’t be the first time the President has defaulted on his debt.

Only previously, he didn’t have the American taxpayer to cover it; and $50 million-worth of 1,000-lb whizzbangs to brandish at his creditors.

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False flag? So fake!

The usual response from the Russian smoke machine to accusations of foul play is that the victims must have murdered themselves or possibly killed their own children to gain some more effective intervention from the Western powers.

In the case of the attack on Khan Sheikhoun they played a minor variation, suggesting that kindly Syrian fighter-bombers must have accidentally struck a warehouse known to contain rebel supplies of Sarin gas, thus inadvertently releasing a poison cloud. (If it was known to contain banned chemical weapons, why was it allowed to be bombed? The Pumpkin was under the impression the Russians had cleared out all Assad’s stockpile three years ago?)

The ingenious theory was debunked today by Guardian journalist Kareem Shaheen, who managed to get into the small town in Idlib where he found that there was indeed such a warehouse, but that it contained only silos empty apart from some rotting grain, and hadn’t anyway been significantly damaged. While yesterday, the BBC unearthed a chemical weapons military expert who pointed out that any Sarin if hit by a bomb would have been destroyed, as it burns.

Of more use to the Russian case however is the question, why would Assad still be using poison gas on civilians, when he is so clearly now winning the war?

Was he confident there would be no American retaliation? Was it a test of the Trump administration? Are there rogue elements in his airforce hoping to drive a wedge between the Americans and the Russians to take the heat off ISIS? Was it force of habit, simple terrorism? Or is Sarin just cheaper than using high-explosive? And if the Shayrat airbase was indeed the point of departure for Syrian planes armed with Sarin bombs, why didn’t Trump order the silos destroyed with specialist nerve-gas-killing warheads, which the Americans have? Why did he leave the base operational?

No-one has yet succeeded in answering it, and may never do. None of it adds up.

But certainly it has been of enormous value to the flailing Trump administration, providing him at last with the opportunity to look tough and decisive in a popular (-ish) cause with little risk of starting WW3 at the same time as diverting salacious media attention away from FBI and Senate probes into the treachery, confusion, financial finagling, nepotism and rank incompetence in the White House.

A helping hand, possibly, from his friend and banker, Vladimir Putin?

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Beating the retweet

What is going on?

YouTube appears to be censoring critics of the Trump regime.

Since a number of large advertisers pulled out of Google and other social media platforms in protest at their ads appearing coincidentally alongside ISIS beheadings and other horrid content, several online news and comment channels have had their advertising pulled too.

But not by the advertisers who want to remain with them.

Having invested heavily in studio facilities, broadcaster David Pakman has been increasingly despairing as despite his three million weekly pay-per viewings his ad revenue slumped to a low of 34 cents on one day last week. Pakman was unable to get any information out of YouTube but has been told by his furious advertisers that they have been told that the mention of various keywords in his opening title sequence referring to controversial subject matter that might be discussed on the show has triggered the ad placement algorithms to shut down their advertising content, leaving him with only the few small sponsors he plugs on-air and his subscriber base.

The Pumpkin also likes to steal material from the Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell shows on MSNBC. In the past week, several issues of the broadcast have become ‘Content unavailable’, although the shows are listed in the sidebars to the main pages. Where the show is available, the picture has been messed with so that you get a small vignette of the actual show inset into a larger frame of just picture noise, or a tiled duplicate of the smaller frame; apparently for ‘copyright’ protection purposes, although there was no problem with copyright up to ten days ago. Not only that, but content posted as ‘NEW’ with a today’s or yesterday’s upload date is often found to be weeks old.

Both Keith Olbermann and Mike Malloy seem not to have added any new content the past week. If they did, I can’t find it: ‘current-date’ postings to the YouTube menu of both broadcasters are anything from one month up to 7 years old. And if Thom Hartmann, the one broadcaster on RT America who isn’t a propaganda mouthpiece for the Kremlin, hasn’t just taken a vacation, that show’s got a problem too; since he’s no longer around*. *Oh no, he’s back now.

What is going on?

These are not ‘fake news’ merchants, Islamists, religious cranks, global warming deniers or Russians, although they are occasionally strong and insightful critics of the Trump regime; that as the number of FBI and Senate investigations into his criminality goes on rising is increasingly meddling with internet service provision. Measures taken or mooted in the past week include ‘data-strip’ searches of travellers’ mobile devices, and extending rights to sell or pass on supposedly secure customer data without notice – including passing a law making it illegal to ever reverse the ruling.

YouTube is owned by Google. According to the Independent, Google could take a $750 million ‘hit’ while it sorts out its placement problem, five of the world’s largest advertisers having pulled out – with YouTube its hardest-hit subsidiary.

Has someone taken a decision to adversely impact channels specifically critical of the administration, under the smokescreen of a general boycott? Is the discussion content of these non-mainstream news programmes too much for Google’s delicate constitution to stomach – even while they continue to profit from selling your data to any and everyone? Or while the platform ad revenues slump, hopefully temporarily, is it more profitable to just not pass on the money to the content providers, thereby keeping the cash flowing?

What is going on?

(PS 23/04, advertisers seem to have discovered power: a boycott by 50 advertisers on Fox News has brought down the serial sex-pest, Bill O’Reilly, despite his huge… er, ratings.)

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Tending to extremes

A lengthy piece in the London Review of Books (7 January, 2016) by the legendary investigative journalist and war reporter Seymour Hirsh identified what has been a long-running civil war in US strategy over Syria, between the CIA and the Pentagon.

Their two opposing views formed in 2013 and highlight an obvious concern, ignored by the CIA, that continuing to arm and train the rebel forces against Assad would merely encourage the migration of moderate opposition groups to more hardline militias such as Jabhat al-Nusra and ensure a constant flow of arms to ISIS.

The CIA appeared to have learned little from the 1970s conflict in Afghanistan, where their creation of the Muhajideen force to counter the Russian insurgency – as in Syria also there by invitation – led to the growth of the Taliban. In 2013, the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, the DIA however, took the opposite view, in alignment with the Russian policy, arguing that Assad was the better option as his removal would inevitably lead to extremists taking over, as they had done in Libya after the downfall of Gadaffi.

And the Director of the DIA from 2011 to 2014 was… General Michael T Flynn.

Thus, according to the Hirsh account, a secret policy was adopted of supplying the Assad regime indirectly via allies including France and Germany with ‘leaked’ US military intelligence, behind the backs of the Obama administration.

The dilemma for all the Western nations in Syria has simply been that, while everyone identifies Assad as the villain of the piece, an urbane, softly spoken, courteous and well-educated torturing, murdering, psychopathic pragmatist who gas-bombs his own people, before the war his broadly secular regime represented and possibly still represents the best hope for stability in the region and a bulwark against Iranian-backed Shi’a extremism; which for some reason we still regard as worse than Saudi-backed Sunni extremism.

This is now, one would have thought, a pretty optimistic view. Without continued support, either from Russia alone or a coalition of the unwilling, Assad could not regain and retain power while spending hundreds of billions of dollars on reconstruction, without maintaining his brutal repression of opposition elements and a flow of cash from China. The Russians certainly can’t afford to rebuild dozens of ruined cities.

To say as Tillerson was until this morning, that the ‘Syrian people will decide’ who is to lead them is just fanciful: the prospect of holding free and fair national elections beyond Assad’s safe-area west of Damascus, dominated by his own Alawite party, is surely non-existent; even if the voters were to return from the refugee camps in Turkey and the chilly fields of Croatia and Bulgaria to their blasted cities, the disruption has been almost total. Were they able to, by some miracle, it is certain they would vote Assad out. You imagine he would contemplate that possibility for one moment?

Now, however, with Russian intervention designed to break the deadlock and create a barrier – with or without Assad – against the spread of  Islamist contagion northwards into the Caucasus, thus putting the Russians into direct conflict with the generally anti-Assad, non-interventionist policies of the NATO alliance, America is in a pretty impossible position: arming and training the same supposedly moderate militias the Russians are trying to obliterate, but with both sides taking direct action against ISIS under a shared-skies arrangement that has now broken down as a result of Moscow witholding co-operation in feigned protest against Trump’s gestural rocketing of the Shayrat airbase.

Paint Turkey into the picture, however, its complex love-hate relationship with Russia, the Kurdish nationalist dimension, the bizarre machinations of its president-for-life, and you start to run out of mental capacity to grasp the full canvas. (Especially when you add-in China’s soft-power ambitions in the region….)

So we’ll ignore all that and speculate wildly instead about the energy industry.

x

Noble gases

One of the reasons no-one has been too exercised about the civil war in Syria is that Syria is not to any great extent an oil-producing nation; unlike its neighbour, Iraq; where the oilfields lie mainly in the northern area where Kurdish nationalist ambitions have created a proto- home state.

Offshore it’s a different story, with massive undersea gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean opening up opportunities for Israeli and US players.

Thus far, there appears to have been no exploration off the Syrian coast. But there seems to be no reason why the field should not extend that far north; indeed, there may be some additional reason for Moscow to take an interest: not to encourage, but to suppress competitive production.

The major fields under development are in the politically tortuous areas of Israeli waters, where an Oklahoma-based company called Noble Energy is sitting on massive reserves that are the subject of a legal action in the Israeli courts that has prevented them from exploiting their find. A decision is awaited later in the year.

The problem for all the energy players in the region is that there is so much gas under the sea – and maybe under the adjacent land; the Israeli- occupied Golan Heights, for instance – that prices have been tumbling; which naturally adds to Russia’s woes in the wake of the collapse in global oil prices; Russia being the dominant supplier in the region, and to Eastern Europe. But few buyers are willing to pile in to share in the bonanza if they know prices are only going to fall once they’ve signed the contract.

So it would be in Russia’s interests to restrict the supply of gas and force the price up; while at the same time using its Latakia and Tartus bases in Syria to break out of its Black Sea bailywick and project a little more ‘hard power’ in the region.

Noble, however (we’re not supposed to say who it is) in conjunction with an Israeli company, Delek, is talking of bypassing Syria to build an undersea pipeline directly to flood the Turkish energy market.

This would also conflict with Russia’s interests, as Gazprom is anxious to extend its market reach beyond the area of Ukraine, from which it profits little by exporting gas to a country that often fails to pay for it. And Gazprom also sells to Turkey and would not like to see its price undercut by Israeli gas. Turkey in turn is showing signs of fomenting trouble again in bi-partite Cyprus, which borders the gas fields to the west; and in other disputed Aegean islands. Does Erdogan have ambitions to explore and exploit his own ‘domestic’ energy sources?

There is the minor problem, too, that another major field is sitting off the coast at Gaza, discovered by British Gas. Israel is under pressure from Turkey to let the Palestinians immured in Gaza develop it as a means of providing themselves with a productive economy. There are both good and not so good reasons to say yes, since more prosperity for Gaza would reduce the hold of Hamas on the populace, but it’s being fiercely contested by rival interests.

And a shareholder in Noble is… President Donald J Trump. (Or was, under the Emoluments Clause he’s not supposed to be profiting from foreign investments; although the words ‘conflict’ and ‘interest’ are among the many thousands missing from his vocabulary.) Hence the presence of Noble director, George Papadopoulos as Foreign Energy Security advisor to the Trump team. (Another climate-change denier, incidentally, from the oil-soaked Hudson Institute.)

The Jerusalem Post (23 January reported on a productive meeting in Washington between Papadopoulos and ultra-right Israeli settler leader Yossi Dagan, after which George purred: “We are looking forward to ushering in a new relationship with all of Israel, including the historic Judea and Samaria” – settler code for the East Bank. Settlers are the last people who would approve a deal on gas with the Palestinians. In February, after a meeting with a bemused Prime Minister Netanyahu, Trump modified US policy on settlements and greenlighted a return to the ‘one-state solution’, effectively marginalising the Palestinians as second-class Israelis living permanently within a system of religious and ethnic discrimination.

Which might all sort of explain why General Flynn, who since leaving the Army has been earning (and failing to declare) large sums of money as a PR consultant of various kinds to the anti-Israel Erdogan regime, while also working for several Russian interests, and having fed all that US military intel to the Assad gang, is no longer persona grata in the Oval Office, and instead is urgently seeking the protection of the FBI.

A version of the story can be found on the RealNews channel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eO13RDfDWMQ

Ken, Ken, Ken… Just stop digging! Move on, okay? At 50C we’re fucked.

“Livingstone said he had not been asked by Labour to refrain from repeating his comments about Hitler, and that the disciplinary process was like “being in North Korea”.

“Tomorrow belongs to me!”

Photo ©Daily Mail

Ken, Ken, Ken… mate, just stop digging! Move on, okay?

Oh dear, Ken Livingstone. Red Ken as was, eh? What is he like?

The former Mayor of London, everyone admits, did a brilliant job, completely transforming a failing city: congestion charging, free bikes, free love, special protection for crested newts – rationalising the public transport infrastructure… yes, he made the trains run on time.

Okay, a few criticisms, like starting the process whereby Putinist oligarchs and Arab oleocrats continue to launder their ill-gotten gains through the rampant housing market; or at least not dissuading it. Not many signs that his successor, Mr Johnson did much about it either.

But Ken has always been a controversialist; a man who frequently gets himself into holes and, like the Russians of Knightsbridge, keeps on digging. For sheer self-righteous indignation he has few peers, except with the pro-Israel, pro-Zionist lobby among the “Jewish community” of Britain. (Such a “community” may not be said to exist at the best of times, given the broad diversity of views and cultural practices among Britain’s 250,000 Jews, but we’ll gloss over that, as many do. These are not anyway the best of times.)

And now he is of an age when creeping senility is merely hardening his view that he is a priceless national treasure who must not be criticised for anything; even the most arrant tactical stupidity. Oh, Ken! Dear, dear Ken.

Thus it was that, a year ago, in an interview with Vanessa Feltz about his professed loyalty towards the then-Labour leftwing candidate, Naz Shah, he blurted out some apparent nonsense about Hitler and his “support for Zionism”.

Now, while mention of the name Hitler in the title is said to increase book sales by 15 per cent, all politicians must be aware that its use in political discourse must be done with the utmost circumspection. Vague generalisations will not do. But Boris managed to get away with it: no-one accused him of antisemitism when he likened the EU to the Third Reich.

The original accusation of  “antisemitism” laid against Ms Shah, who went on to get elected after offering up the expected grovelling apology, concerned a silly Tweet she had sent to her friends group, in which she had taken an anti-Zionist meme – as it may have been, or it could have been a perfectly innocent geographical comparison, I have no idea – showing the map of Israel superimposed on the US state of Iowa, and added the caption “job done!”.

I suffer from an irritating habit of understanding the difference of when someone is just being amused by their own parti-pris sense of humour, and when they are deliberately issuing hateful propaganda for political ends. My own verdict, for what it is worth, which is not a lot, is that Shah was making a wry and not especially controversial private observation, that from a Muslim point of view it might have saved 70 years of violence if the European Jews had settled postwar in an uninhabited part of America instead of in Palestine, where there was a native population that has subsequently been marginalised and often brutalised by a flow of incomers who may be seen either as “indigenous but absent for the past 1900 years”; or as “oppressive colonisers”, depending on your point of view.

Nevertheless, there is a powerful lobby in Britain that is perfectly capable of utterly disregarding the first, “it is my humour” option, and seldom misses an opportunity to cry “antisemite!” when feeling offended; to stir up offence and to start a witch-hunt, especially against a Muslim, Labour MP, in order to keep up the pretence that the Likud government’s view that “might is right” should continue to dictate unpopular Israeli policy uncriticised and unhindered by any in the West.

Meanwhile, anyone thinking of going into politics should seriously consider their social media usage: you get away with nothing nowadays. Personally, I have no social media accounts. This li’l bogl would be more than enough to condemn me as anti-pretty much everything.

Believe it or not, people are actually paid and encouraged to go on social and mainstream media at the drop of a hat, to cry their “offence” and to respond to any hint of a point of view to the contrary with angry denunciations. One such, principal apologist Mr Regev, has been rewarded with the Israeli ambassadorship to London. Ms Shah on the other hand was accused by this group of Zionist trolls of wanting to “deport all the Israelis” from Israel, and other people went along with this propagandistic, Islamophobic assertion. Their bad.

Look. Have I got space here to dilate on the history of the Zionist movement from its invention in the latter part of the C19th up until 1932, when Hitler’s party came to power in Germany; the 1933 Enabling Act abolishing the powers of the German Presidency, leaving the Chancellor unopposed in his position; the subsequent Othering of the German Jews, the decrees confiscating their businesses and property, de-platforming of scientists, artists and writers; Kristallnacht, the deportations, the slave labour camps, mass murders by SS Einsatzgruppen death squads in the occupied territories and finally, the industrialized slaughter of millions?

Then the subsequent battle of wills of the survivors against the British mandate in Palestine – the terror campaigns by the Haganah and Irgun groups – the “ethnic cleansing” of the native Palestinians, the expulsions, the wars against their neighbours and the Occupation (happy 50th), the massacres at Shabrah and Chatilah, the immuring and blockade of Gaza, the punitive expeditions, the Intifada and the resistance, the abstraction of water and destruction of livelihoods, the relentless building and post hoc validation of illegal settlements, the creation of what now looks like an apartheid single-state, by what some Jewish historians themselves call the “Settler-colonialist” movement?

No, I haven’t. It’s all much too controversial, territory into which one dare not stray for fear of being hounded from pillar to post with cries of “antisemite”, no further such discussion being tolerable as European and American graveyards are desecrated and Jewish citizens targeted by Islamist terrorists and ultranationalistic white supremacists apparently feeling licensed by populist demagogues to raise the spectre of persecution once again, in a hideous cycle of attrition; it’s impossible.

Now is clearly not the time.

I dare however remark that, while it is only the holocaust-denying, alt-right revisionist ‘fake’ historians of the Chicago school who have linked the name of Adolf Hitler to Nazi support for Zionism, there are some respectable historians (such as AJP Taylor, who suffered academic persecution for his revisionist views on the “accidental” origins of WW2 and Hitler’s intentions, now more normally accepted) who have pointed to documentary evidence that there was indeed a section of the National Socialist party before 1933 that tended to favour the idea of encouraging Jews to leave Germany of their own volition.

Indeed they may have financed the settler movement to some degree and, indeed, expediently professed some admiration for their values of sturdy independence and briefly supported their ambition to create their own separate state. But there is no evidence that the pro-Zionist tendency included Hitler himself; and it was rapidly discouraged. Nor does the evidence explain, excuse or exonerate the responsibility of the party leadership subsequently for acts of genocide.

But we can’t discuss it. Nor is it particularly relevant that we should discuss it; someone should tell Ken there is no reason to keep raising the matter, it is relevant to nothing outside possibly the context of history books. No-one really cares about this detail; you are only giving a hostage to fortune for ignorant racists to seize on some debatable alt-fact to justify their prejudices.

I might also comment without fear or favour that saying this does not make me an “antisemite” or a Holocaust-denier, okay? I merely state an objective fact: that some reputable historians have pointed to this short-lived phenomenon; however retrospectively controversial their findings may be. But I appreciate that it does not suit some people’s narrative or their current political objectives to admit for a second the possibility that there may have been collusion at any time between the Nazis and the proto-state of Israel prior to the adoption of the policy of genocide.

It is a sensitive point: my argument is that it is very much in your interest to make it a sensitive point, to use such arguments as a basis for stirring up resistance when it may not much be of special concern among the “Jewish community”, who have more important things to worry about. History cannot alter the realities of the past; nor can anyone, neither Mr Arkush of the Board of Deputies, who asserts with maximal indignation and assumed  offence that he regards today’s news as  “a new low” in the history of relations with the historically antifascist Labour Party, which he and Rabbi Mervis continually hammer as institutionally racist; nor even Mr Livingstone.

But it can be used against reason, which seems not much valued nor respected anywhere in the era of “alternative facts”.

Now, back to poor Ken. Dear Ken.

Comparing the Labour party executive to North Korea is even more wildly imaginative than comparing Hitler to the Zionists, or whatever the hell he was trying to say. Let us not ignore the Trump theory, that Ken (71, going on 72) is in the early stages of dementia. His stubborn refusal to confront not just the possibility that he and his revisionist historical sources may be wrong, but that it is probably better just to shut up about it, since he is no expert, is doing all kinds of damage that could be avoided if he would just get off his horse and drink his milk, to borrow a line from John Wayne.

He needs to understand that the only people who give a fuck about Hitler and the Zionists are the Zionist lobby making maximum political capital out of his pernicious vapourings.

His repetition of the theory; his insistence that he is in the right, his complaint about the mild slap on the wrist the party machine has inflicted on him, which he refuses to recognise as anything other than a historic abrogation of his right to free speech; these are understandable reactions, but unwise. That he cannot see it as his ruin, and that of the party, is an expanding tragedy.

Better they had hung him out to dry, torn up his party card for life, sacrificed one of their totemic supporters, than suffer yet another existential crisis at a time when they are under relentless assault by the media over their dysfunctional leadership and shambolic underperformance in holding a rampant Tory party to account over such more pressing matters as the unfolding nightmare of Brexit, the “50p Housing Benefit” scandal and the deliberate running-down of the NHS.

The Labour Party cannot afford Livingstone any longer. He is doing this deliberately, I imagine, in order to force the Party to confront its divisions and lack of direction, to divert attention away from the inadequacies of Mr Corbyn; and to keep himself in the public eye, no doubt – retirement can go hard. But it’s not working, so he can just cut it out.

You’re all as awful, self-righteous and obsessive as one another, frankly.

Just stop digging! Move on, okay?

 

2017

Anyone imagining that all such controversies matter a damn had better look at this:

http://arctic-news.blogspot.co.uk/ (5 April)

To summarise:

El Niño underway in the Pacific (wrong year). Gulf Stream heating up. Methane plumes erupting from the Arctic seabed. Sea surface temperatures 5.9°C warmer than 1981-2011. Central Africa currently exceeding 50 deg. C. Hundreds of wildfires burning in central Asia – CO2 measured at over 510 ppm, air heavy with sulphur.

Major flooding from Cyclone Debbie in New Zealand and Queensland (“1 in 500-years event” – second time in six years); devastating landslides after record rains in Colombia and Peru; millions of acres of Chile and the southern states of the USA burned; snow and tornado warnings nightly. Low-lying Vanuatu (wrecked by Cat 5 ‘Pam’ two years ago) threatened by tropical cyclone Cook (10 April).

Bleaching reported of two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef. 10 April: +28 Deg. C (83F)  in New York.

Can’t the lying rich fuckers in the White House  see where this is inevitably heading?

Out on my walks, I notice it – again. Spring arrived maybe a month early. Astonishing rapid growth, everything out chaotically all at once; trees in leaf, masses of blossom, carpets of daisies like snow – bluebells already – 23 Deg C. today, cloudless skies. My neighbour made a new front lawn: in five days from seeding his grass is 2″ high.

Guys, we’re basically fucked here.

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 13: Jim’ll Brexit: There is no end to this conspiracy. And: Hey everybody, Rex Tillerson!

It’s Budget Day on the Hill

Okay guys, I found the money, Vladimir lent it to me. Let’s get spending.

Jim’ll Brexit

The question The Pumpkin would like to ask is, to what extent is Russian interest in the US election a continuation of the old Cold War and Putin’s ambitions to destabilise the West – or is it something quite new and excitingly different?

While the media focus is  on the Congressional Committee hearing at which FBI Director, James Comey, confirmed with his lovely eyes that the security police are looking into connections between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence, hopefully not forgetting the money-laundering, the ‘Enemies of the People’ may be ignoring other, perhaps more disturbing connections between far-right Christian fundamentalist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic groups in Eastern Europe, possibly funded by Russia, to members of the current Trump administration.

Former Methodist minister and convicted criminal, Jim Dowson is a virulent anti-abortion campaigner and extreme Protestant  loyalist from Northern Ireland (no jokes about ‘Orange men’ now. Ed.), with connections to Hungarian and other East European nationalist groups who like dressing up and marching around.

He’s frequently labelled in the press, ‘millionaire Jim Dowson’, although The Pumpkin’s limited researches have been unable to establish any source for that fact. He owns no businesses, seemingly; is CEO of nothing. Wherefore then, apart from having been a fundraiser for nationalist charities (and not apparently well trusted in the role) does he become a millionaire?

dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/exclusive-bnps-scots-fundraiser-is-criminal-1025700

Among things we have established is that he is an unpleasant piece of work who delights in publishing the names and addresses of employees of family planning clinics. He has also been videoed dressed in camouflage gear on a ‘hunting expedition’ with armed vigilantes on the Bulgarian-Turkish border – hunting Syrian refugees.

According to Wikipedia, who got the info probably from the anti-fascist group Searchlight:

“Dowson has been observed in eastern European countries with his latest venture, the Knights Templar International (KTI)*, along with former BNP (British National Party) leader Nick Griffin and a Hungarian anti-abortion campaigner, Imre Teglasy.

“Dowson’s last sighting, according to the Daily Mirror, was on the Turkey-Bulgaria border with the KTI supplying equipment to a vigilante paramilitary group, the Shipka Bulgarian National Movement, to hunt down asylum seekers.

“Dowson was subsequently reported as having developed close links with Russian extremist Aleksandr Dugin, with Dugin aiding Dowson in the establishment of a Belgrade office for his internet activity in support of the ‘alt-right’.”

* No immediate relation to the late-medieval religious order that committed unspeakable atrocities against the Muslim population of the Holy Land.

nytimes.com/2016/12/17/world/europe/russia-propaganda-elections.html

Now, Dugin is a bit different: not your average fascist bully-boy, he is a well-bearded Russian philosopher – the son of a KGB man – respected on the far-right, and spiritual guide to Vladimir Putin. He has said he wants to bring on the ‘end-times’. Thus he fits in almost perfectly symmetrically with Steve Bannon. Described as a modern Rasputin, Dugin in turn is sponsored by “Konstantin Malofeyev, a multimillionaire with ties to the Russian Orthodox Church” (Independent. See below).

Dugin is said to have been instrumental in bringing about a rapprochement between Putin and the increasingly paranoid and authoritarian Turkish president Erdogan in the wake of the shooting down in 2015 of a Russian fighter over the Syrian border: thus, Islamic Turkey is moving out of the ambit of Europe and more towards a pro-Moscow line of pragmatic non-opposition to the war-criminal Bashar al-Assad.

Russia and Turkey being two countries where, it may be noted, President Trump’s sacked National Security Advisor General Mike T Flynn was doing bidness last year. Turkey is, of course, a NATO country.

“…Dugin, whose views on the evils of liberalism have been cited by Bannon and other far-right leaders … also moved Russia a step closer to fulfilling his vision of unwinding the US-led global order, in part by luring Turkey away from NATO and creating a “Russo-Islamic pact” that includes Iran.” (Ibid.)

Dowson is linked too with László Toroczkai, the extreme right-wing mayor of Assotthalom, in Hungary – the village where, the BogPo reported some time ago, Muslim migrants are ‘banned’ from settling, even to the extent that specially designed traffic signs are to be found, excluding people wearing Islamic dress. (BBC report)

And alt-right watchers will have noted the name of Nick Griffin, one-time leader of the British National Party, who is now based in Hungary – not a million miles from Dowson’s Russia-funded Budapest office, one might assume. Clearly, they have patched up their differences following Dowson’s departure from Britain First – a group he founded, but whose attacks on mosques he felt were ‘un-Christian’.

This story is positively trammelled with such weird contradictions: indeed, the KTI website specifically states that attacks on other religions are against the Biblical traditions of Christianity. There seems to be an element of fantasy in Dowson’s crusade for some long-ago, lost age of purity and chivalry. This puts him in the same league as some of Trump’s immediate circle: not racist, but purist, could be Stephen K Bannon’s motto.

But all agree, the coming war will be between Christianity and Islam for the soul of the world.

The founder of an alt-right website called ‘The Patriot News Agency’, Dowson also interferes in other countries’ elections. Again from Wikipedia:

“Dowson described his strategy as spreading “devastating anti-Clinton, pro-Trump memes and soundbites into sections of the population too disillusioned with politics to have taken any notice of conventional campaigning.”

Yet Dowson has no apparent dog in the US election fight; nor any specific reason to support Trump, other than a generalised desire to cause trouble benefitting the Russian campaign of destabilization.

Among the ‘memes’ he is alleged to have spread is the story of Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta, operating a worldwide paedophile ring from the basement of a Washington pizza restaurant – a story so preposterous that only forty per cent of Donald Trump’s supporters were inclined to believe it.

And his next ‘project’ is to bring about Scottish independence and the dissolution of the United Kingdom. According to the New York Times:

“The ex-Orange Order member, who along with his family is based in Northern Ireland but spends considerable time running the rightwing agency in eastern Europe, claims his networks have a global reach of 50 million online viewers, 17 million of whom live in Britain.

“A one-time member of the far-right Britain First organisation, which he resigned from three years ago, Dowson said he would be directing the pro-independence online media campaign from his bases in Hungary and Serbia as well as in Britain, including from an office in Stirling.

“(He said) ‘This is a global network that I believed helped elect Donald Trump and backed Brexit to win.'”

For many people prepared to overlook the obvious point that Britain held real powers within the EU and extended its influence into Europe, rather than having genuinely been in the position of surrendering sovereignty to “unelected bureaucrats in Brussels” – a meme so simple and easy to spread among the British Dumbfucks that even Dowson might have thought of it, Brexit was about ridding Britain of foreign influences. For some, like Dowson, the Brexit campaign was a moral crusade to restore the ethnic and religious (i.e. Christian) purity of the British race; although he now sees that it might have to lead to a federal Ireland rather than a hard customs border.

How like Islamic fundamentalists Christian fundamentalists are.

theguardian.com/politics/2017/mar/20/jim-dowson-back-scottish-independence-patriotic-news-agency-far-right?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=218243&subid=19570602&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

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Power Hungary

Dr Sebastian L v. Gorka “attended St Benedict’s School in west London, and received a lower second-class honours (2:2) Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Theology from Heythrop College, of the University of London.” (Wikipedia). Heythrop was founded in 1614 in Louvain, Belgium, at the height of the Inquisition, by the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits, to whose stern moral code its website suggests it retains some residual connection.*

Born in Britain to Hungarian refugee parents, nationalists who fled from the Soviet repression of 1956 (we gave refuge to 27,000 Hungarians, rather more than we seem to have managed with the desperate Syrians), Gorka re-migrated to Hungary in 1992, where he ended up in 1998 as an advisor to the authoritarian nationalist premier, Viktor Orban.

In the meantime he had somehow converted that pretty poor degree into a PhD in Political Science from Corvinus University, Budapest, and become an expert on Islamic terrorism. In 1996, he married an American heiress from an old Methodist family in the ironmongery business, Katherine Fairfax Cornell. A trawl of the sources fails to produce an estimate of her worth, or indeed that of the family business, that nowadays makes architectural steel products. All we find on their website is that the company used scab labour to break a strike in 1987 and probably turns over $10 million a year.

Yet what Katy Cornell Gorka’s family has in common with Donald Trump is that girders from the original iron smelting works took “New York’s buildings from four stories in the 1850s to thirty stories by 1899.” (Wikipedia). Even the Statue of Liberty stands on Cornell iron.

“Katharine C. Gorka is the President of the Council on Global Security, a think tank that works to develop, advocate, and build support for policies that will promote freedom of belief and defeat extremist ideologies*. From 2009 to 2014 she served as Executive Director of the Westminster Institute, based in McLean, Virginia. Her company, Threat Knowledge Group, provides counter-terrorism training and expertise to the FBI, Special Operations, local law enforcement and military. She co-edited the volume Fighting the Ideological War: Winning Strategies from Communism to Islamism and appears frequently in the media, including FOX News, Breitbart, EWTN, CBN, and al-Hura. Most recently she co-authored the report ISIS: The Domestic Threat.” (Amazon book page biography)

*The website for this organization is non-responding. A message merely says it is not currently available.

On November 30 2016, The Intercept reported that Gorka had been appointed to be part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s transitional “landing team.” (Wikipedia) Her role, like her husband’s, was to advise der Trumpenführer on the causes and growth of Islamic fundamentalism. (You recall, he ‘knows more about ISIS than many generals, believe me’. Gorka’s input may be why he thinks so.)

Yet there is something quite peculiar about her.

Living in Hungary for 12 years, Katy Gorka is a former director of the National Forum Foundation’s Budapest office – whose URL brings up only ‘Freedom House’, a think tank founded by the Roosevelts in 1941. “The organization’s annual Freedom in the World report, which assesses each country’s degree of political freedoms and civil liberties, is frequently cited by political scientists, journalists, and policymakers. Freedom of the Press and Freedom of the Net, which monitor censorship, intimidation and violence against journalists, and public access to information, are among its other signature reports.” (Wikipedia/Freedom House website)

Political freedom? Civil liberties? Freedom of the press? Almost nothing could be further from the domestic policies of Viktor Orban, to whom in 1998 Katy’s husband Sebastian was an ‘advisor’. But amid all the high-minded talk about monitoring the kind of intimidation against journalists which her Presidential employer is busy practising, she is also a contributor to Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News – an alt-right website pushing a racially pure, Christian agenda; often of false news, and whose former editor warned the press a month ago to ‘shut its mouth’ and think carefully about what they print about the President in future.

And one of Trump’s first executive orders, which none of the media has seen fit to protest about, was the gagging of  public access to information in the shape of the normal dissemination of news and scientific papers through the federal Environment and Parks agencies, and NASA’s Earthwatch program. Where did he get that from? He’s not thought to have any ideas of his own. An unusual approach to ‘freedom of belief’.

In 2012, ‘Dr’ Sebastian Gorka applied to become an American citizen.

“We are deeply concerned by reports that Dr. Gorka concealed the material fact of his membership in the Vitézi Rend, a far-right anti-Semitic Hungarian organization, when he applied for U.S. citizenship. As you know, it is unlawful to make a false statement in naturalization proceedings (18 U.S.C. 1015) and procuring naturalization by concealing a material fact or willful misrepresentation is punishable by denaturalization (8 U.S.C. 1425, 8 U.S.C. 1451).”

So wrote three US Congressmen recently upon learning that Gorka is, or may be, an illegal immigrant.

businessinsider.com/sebastian-gorka-vitezi-rend-nazi-trump-2017-3: 3 US Senators calling for inquiry into his immigration declaration

According to some sources, through his father Gorka – who includes in his full name the telltale lowercase letter ‘v’ for Vitez – is a virtually lifelong member of Vitézi Rend, an extreme Hungarian nationalist group with maybe as many as twenty thousand members. His membership has been admitted by its leaders, although he’s denied it. How did anyone know? He appeared on TV wearing a jacket of the type worn ceremonially by members of the society, the Bocskai tunic, and sporting their pin-badge – which he later explained was only a tribute to his late father.

Again, when we look at the origins in the 1920s of this secretive society we find that same element of East European chivalric mysticism and a yearning for racial purity, enshrining the virtues of the knightly warrior caste that had once stood against the advance of Islam, that formed such a strong part of the National Socialist ideology in Germany in the 1930s. Indeed, the Order of Vitez, founded by Admiral Horthy to celebrate the heroism of fallen Hungarian soldiers of the First World War, was encouraged by – and perhaps even assisted – the Nazis during the occupation in 1944 as they hastened to eliminate 800,000 Jews ahead of the advancing Red Army.

Gorka is a naturalized American citizen. He gained his citizenship in 2012 but his acceptance may now be in doubt as it is reported he made no mention on his application form, a compulsory question, of his membership of Vitézi Rend, which is listed in the US as a banned organisation for its associations with the wartime Nazi occupiers in Hungary.

In addition to being cited as a member of and contributor to, a speaker at, numerous academic institutions and think tanks, in January 2017 Gorka assumed the position of Deputy Assistant Security Advisor on Terrorism in the Trump Administration. How did Trump get to know about him? Gorka immediately became a member of an internal White House team known as the Strategic Initiatives Group, which was set up by Trump’s Chief Policy Advisor, Steve Bannon, together with Trump’s annointed, his son-in law Jared Kushner, to act as a counterweight to the normal channels of advice the President might receive on matters such as national security and foreign policy, to prevent him being led astray by outside experts infected with things like knowledge and sanity.

thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/31/steve-bannon-builds-a-new-node-of-power-in-the-trump-white-house.html

While some academics and military people say he’s pretty sound on Islamic jihad, basically arguing that the West is at war with Islam already, the peer-reviewed journal of terrorism research, Terrorism and Political Violence, has never used him as a reviewer, because according to associate editor Lawrence P Rubin, he “is not considered a terrorism expert by the academic or policy community.” (Wikipedia)

From 2014 to 2016, Gorka was an editor for National Security Affairs for the Breitbart News Network, where he worked for Stephen K. Bannon.

Surprise, fucking surprise.

Everything to do with Trump sooner or later comes back to Bannon, Breitbart and the illegal movement around the globe of vast sums of Russian money: the so-called “Global Laundromat”.

How much of that money is finding its way over to ‘whiter-than-white’ organizations led by agitators, disruptors and misty-eyed, medieval-Christian revivalist ‘millionaires’, we wonder?

*On re-reading, I have just spotted this potential connection with Steve Bannon, who is associated with the conservative leader of the Jesuitical Catholic fringe group, Opus Dei, Cardinal Burke.

Correction: Cardinal Burke is not the ‘leader’ of Opus Dei but merely ‘associated’ wiith the leadership.

Postscriptum, 1 May

Following a shakeup or ‘palace coup’ instigated by ‘Mr Kushner’ and the new Pentagon hawks installed in key advisory roles – a military takeover – both the Strategic Initiatives Group and ‘Dr’ Gorka are no longer part of White House policy advisory arrangements; Steve Bannon is no longer a permanent member of the Security Council although he retains his role as ‘senior policy advisor’.

Ivanka Trump is now the ‘First Daughter’ – her stepmom remains a prisoner in the penthouse at Trump Tower in New York – and officially in post as ‘advisor’ to Orange Daddy. She continues to advertise Trump businesses, including Trump Tower, Manila – Mr Trump has welcomed the squalid little thug, President Duterte of the Philippines , to the White House, in line with his general policy of admiring ‘strong leaders’ who remind him of his father.

x

There is no end to this conspiracy.

I’m trying to remember what I was doing at the age of 42. It’s a bit hazy. I think I’d just started a small PR business with an ethical charter, supporting small environmental businesses and NGOs by devising joint promotional programs with bigger clients needing to improve their ‘green’ credentials. It folded five years later because none of them would pay their bills on time.

At 42, billionaire investment manager Constantin Malofeyev (see above) is one of the movers and shakers behind a religious revival movement that has captured the White House without a shot being fired. From Vanity Fair:

“As a believer in the Russian empire on a cultural and religious level, Malofeyev’s goals align with those held by some of Europe’s fringe parties. Both would like to see the weakening of the European Union.

“In 2014, Malofeyev attended a Vienna-based conference for Europe’s far-right parties. Also in attendance were Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, who openly supports Putin (she has called for the removal of sanctions) and accepted at least 9 million euros in Russia-backed loans in 2014; and Austria’s Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the Freedom Party, which was recently defeated in national elections.” (Presumably not the outcome General Michael T Flynn was hoping for at Trump Tower in December when he discussed doing a bit of PR for him. Ed.)

vanityfair.com/news/2016/12/mike-flynn-nazi-sympathizers)

thinkprogress.org/trump-russia-sanctions-1b20f8d48ded#.46jtlm8e1

The Pumpkin is sort of waiting for the links between the Brexit campaigners and Putin’s Christian-right crusade to become more obvious. A less obvious link might be to Mr Paul Manafort, Trump’s erstwhile campaign manager, said to have been the recipient of a $12.7 million fee for ‘campaign advice’ (Oh, come off it! Ed. Really, where do I sign?) to the exiled Ukrainian kleptocrat, Viktor Yanukovitch; and also, of a $10 million a year PR retainer for several years from the Russian government.

The Daily Beast (August 2016) reported:

“The Associated Press has also found that Manafort helped route “at least $2.2 million in payments” from the Party of Regions “to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012” and did so in possible violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. (Was either of those firms possibly linked to General Flynn, The Pumpkin asks, idly? Or Mr Tony Podesta?)

“According to a leaked document that was “brought” to Vladimir Putin’s presidential administration, the takeover of Crimea may have been mooted in mid-February 2014, as independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported. Likely prepared in part by “Russian Orthodox businessman” and future separatist-financier Konstantin Malofeyev, the text envisioned a “launching of the process of the ‘pro-Russian drift’ of the Crimea and eastern Ukrainian territories” along with a “PR strategy” in advance of “referendums raising the question of self-determination and further possibilities of annexation to the Russian Federation.” The Daily Beast.

I guess if it can work in Ukraine, and Britain, it can work in Texas or Arkansas.

Remember the Alamo. Remember Dunkirk! Build that wall!

x

A Game of Leapfrog

Over in France the waters are just as murky.

Already under investigation for allegedly paying his wife half a million Euro out of public coffers to do a few hours’ secretarial duty, with only days to go before the first round of Presidential elections that could see the alt-right ‘Marianne’, Marine le Pen, do well, former Prime Minister Francois Fillon is now accused of taking money from a Lebanese ‘businessman’ to fix a meeting between the head of global French energy company Total, and… President Putin.

An  article in the venerable satirical journal Le Canard Enchainé, reports that Fillon’s consultancy company 2F Conseil had earned $50,000 for setting up the 2015 meeting. According to a Guardian report:

“Fillon’s spokesman vigorously denied the allegation, saying Canard Enchaîné’s “insinuations” were “completely without foundation”. The Kremlin dismissed the report (encouragingly) as “fake news”.

“The claims are the latest in a string of accusations levelled at the beleaguered rightwing candidate, who languishes third in the opinion polls for the first round presidential vote in a month. He is also under scrutiny for accepting an undeclared €50,000 loan from a French businessman in 2013 and for the gift of bespoke suits worth up to €48,000 from another wealthy friend.

“Fillon has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing … saying … “I’ve made mistakes. Who hasn’t?”

Quite so. It explains perhaps why The Pumpkin has almost nothing in the bank, having made the mistake of failing to become a highly paid political lobbyist. (Oh, I thought you said ‘hobbyist‘!).

Thanks to social media, the vast amounts of dirty money sloshing around and the power-seeking ambitions of extra-national third-party actors it’s getting too easy for disruptors in the Kremlin and elsewhere to try to affect the outcome of elections, in what is increasingly evident is a deliberately orchestrated campaign to shake up the existing alliances in the West.

Their task is made easier still by the appalling venality of politicians like Fillon and, in Britain, George “eight jobs” Osborne.

As has been widely reported, with no prior journalistic experience the former Chancellor of the Exchequer has accepted an offer presumed to be somewhere in the mid-six figures to become the new editor of the London Evening Standard, formerly a newspaper but now the personal fiefdom and social diary of exiled Russian oligarchs the Lebedevs, père et fils.

That bloody country just won’t lie down.

And while The Pumpkin is conspiracy theorising, Mr Osborne and his friend, Mr Cameron, showed blinding incompetence in their ‘leadership’ of the failed campaign to keep Britain in the EU, focussing on what the Leavers dubbed ‘Project Fear’, an entirely negative assessment of the economic risks which they plugged relentlessly at the expense of any more positive reasons for remaining in Europe.

Is this a reward?

x

Hey, everyone! Katy Gorka?

‘Hillary for President’ contributions to the 2008 primaries:

  • Gorka Enterprises LLC: $750
  • ‘Cornell’: $550

Big spenders! But get this… Hillary’s campaign coffers in 2008 also contained $800 electo-bucks donated by… 21st Century Fox TV!

Nothing like hedging your bets. Or mislabelling your post.

x

Hey, everyone! Rex Tillerson?

A story on today’s Guardian quotes ‘sexy Rexy’, Trump’s normally taciturn Secretary of State, as saying he didn’t want the job. (It shows. Ed.)

He was looking forward to retiring to his ranch in Texas, he says, to enjoy his grandchildren (good luck with that, Rex – most people won’t get to enjoy theirs), his Old Age pension buoyed up by $245 million in free Exxon shares, but after Trump – whom he hadn’t previously known – offered him the post out of the blue at a surprise meeting called to “discuss the world”, and presumably how to end it, his wife told him: “God isn’t through with you yet”.

I’ve always felt I was appointed to high office by God, haven’t you?

I felt, you see, that God wanted me to be the boss of a bloated global corporation that endlessly lies and cheats and gouges the poorest people on earth while raping it of its commons for my own obscene enrichment and that of my billionaire friends at Davos, that tramples God’s Creation into the methane-pluming ground, heedless of warnings of the dire future it’s creating for the very survival of Mankind (we’re making the eye in that old needle as big as we possibly can.)

Sadly, as the Almighty is only a figment of the boundlessly optimistic American imagination, I’m sitting here writing this stuff instead.

Mysterious ways, and so forth.

Next time, eh?

Did the Russians fuck with the referendum? And we’ll leave the comments page to ‘Mr Osborne’.

Her Majesty the Queen today signed the bill giving Theresa May the go-ahead to send a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, formally invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, requesting permission for Britain to leave the European Union.

The Dumbfucks have won. And I’ve taken down my Remain poster. I may slit my wrists later.

Postscriptum: 20 March

Whooosh… over to Capitol Hill, where the excellent Democrat Representative Adam Schiff, chairing a Congressional hearing, put one very interesting question to FBI Director James Comey, who had just repeated for the umpteenth time that there was no evidence that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower, even with the help of the British – something demented Orange Satan is STILL continuing to insist is true, even though his only source was Fox News, who got it from Steve Bannon.

Asked if he believed that Russian intelligence could have been in any way likely to have interfered with Brexit and European elections, Comey replied, in so many words, ‘Yes’, he did.

Let’s hope this tiny incidental detail gets magnified out of all proportion in tomorrow’s press, as no-one appears to have noticed it yet: the FBI believes Russia interfered in our referendum.

Time for a re-run.

 

“The turkeys didn’t bother to wait for Christmas, they voted for Easter.”

Tuesday morning dawns

Urgh. Was that last double vodka before bed a good idea? On top of the wine?

I seem to remember, too, posting a fairly blunt and offensive comment just before I toddled off, on the worthy and wholly undeserving of scorn Guardian Today website, having immediately read that 300-odd gutless, supine and hypocritical, £75k a year Members of the House of Commons, most of whom would at one time have supported the Remain camp, had voted down two perfectly sensible and civilized amendments the House of Lords had inserted into the bill allowing the dried-up old stork, Theresa May, to trigger Article 50 on the basis of having no plan at all for getting out of the EU.

Davis, ‘Doctor’ and Boris (centre)

One amendment tried to offer some residency protection for two million EU nationals living perfectly legally in the UK, many of them with British families; hopefully thereby also to protect our own citizens working or retired abroad. Who could possibly object to that, or argue with any sanity that it ‘ties Mrs May’s hands behind her back’ (it’s a thought. Ed.) when it comes to her comedy trio of hapless negotiators, the Wilson, Kepple and Betty of Chevening House,  trying to screw some sort of hastily cobbled-together ‘deal’ out of the 27 before we float away and sink with all hands?

What it tried to do, a last despairing gesture, was to offer some kind of hope that we still live in a decent and humane society, an open democracy where our elected representatives can still stand up for the right.

Sadly not.

Nor, it seems, do we any longer live in a Parliamentary democracy. It has been the unelected Mrs May’s devout wish that Parliament should not stand in her way when it comes to Brexit, a theoretical process she once decried, but now over which she has grasped total control, embodying as she does, like fucking Boudicca on her chariot, ‘the Will o’ the People’.

So the second amendment proposed by the Lords, who have also now folded their arms for fear that Dacre of the Mail will set his patriotic bloodhounds on them, was that Parliament should have a vote on any final deal.

And she has got her wish. The turkeys did not bother to wait for Christmas, they voted for Easter.

Pathetic, pusillanimous, scared little self-protecting baboons, lacking all resolve in the face of threats of deselection by the Dumbfucks in their constituencies, they voted to save their own fat or scrawny arses, selling their principles for a peck of power – little realising, or maybe they did, that they’ve just committed the British constitution and the sovereignty of Parliament to a dictatorship.

Like her friend Mr Trump also unelected by the majority vote, Mrs May, who clearly massively overestimates herself, seems intent on ruling sola through an unelected, faceless cabinet of assorted advisors and cronies, in a bubble of dubious provenance and with no published strategy other than to take charge. Seriously, does she appear to have any political friends and allies outside her own inner circle of PR wonkettes?

Are we to expect an alt-right, Christian fundamentalist platform to emerge? Will the Daily Mail rename itself Breitbart News? Is there some massive corruption of the billionaires and the free, unfettered movement of stolen capital behind the coup? Has Britain too been taken without a shot being fired, by the Putin global power machine?

These are dark days. We are all good little boiled frogs now.

x

Oceans apart

A mystery Tweet has apparently been posted on McDonalds’ official bulletin board – and then hurriedly taken down – describing Mr Trump as a ‘Disgusting excuse of a President’.

Unimpressed, Mr Trump is known to be a fan of the fast-food restaurant chain for undiscriminating fat people with baseball hats and no teeth. His favourite burger is said to be ‘Fish Delight’.

So do we now have another clue as to his sexual preferences? ‘Fish Delight and pipi-shake to go. And make it fast, Pussy.’

To spoil the show, however, it appears that even this is an example of the President’s alternative fake news machine (brain): there is no such mouthwatering recipe on the McDonalds’ menu as Fish Delight. It’s actually called, in Franglais, ‘Filet-o’-fish’.

No excuse. None. So bad.

 

Okay, I’m sorry, but.

By: Ernst von-und-zu Bogl, professor emeritus of Crony Capitalism and Influence-Peddling Studies at the University of Wagga-Wagga, Australia. ©2017. @tryprovingit.con

Hailed by some in the business as ‘fake news’, not without justification, it’s been reported just now that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, is to be the new editor of the London Evening Standard; believed to be a newspaper, as well as the personal social diary of owner, Yevgeny Lebedev.

It is almost impossible, in my view, to counter the 99.999% probability that since this time last year we have somehow wriggled through a wormhole in space/time, to find ourselves in another universe – of which, I am told, there are many.

This universe bears a strong relationship to, and may very well therefore be the same, as the one in which Oxford mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as the author Lewis Carroll, woke up in 1871, shortly before creating his best-selling children’s story, Alice Through the Looking Glass.

According to a BBC report apparently based on a press release and a few hastily telephoned quotes,

“Mr Osborne had ambitions to be a journalist as a young man. He failed to get a place on The Times’ trainee scheme after graduating from Oxford University in 1992 and was briefly a freelance reporter on the Daily Telegraph’s diary column.” (for which read, intern with wealthy parents and an allowance enabling him to barely survive living in a dumpster).

“If at first you don’t succeed…” is of course the Osborne family motto.

‘Mr Osborne’, who resigned his post as Chancellor last June after he and his close friend, ‘Mr Cameron’ failed to get a majority for the Remain side in the EU referendum, fully intends to carry on as the £75k a year-plus-expenses backbench Conservative MP for Tatton, in well-heeled Cheshire; although his liberal leanings were, apparently, one of the reasons why his appointment makes so much sense, according to Aleksandr Lebedev’s socialite son Evgeny, who manages the title for papa.

Another is presumably his experience at devising austerity policies.

There is no word as yet of ‘Mr Osborne’s salary, but it is unlikely to be less than the mid-six-figures. ‘Mr Osborne’ has also in the last fortnight taken up a £650k a year ‘advisory’ post, hardworking one day a week for top global fund management porker, BlackRock.

And then there’s the family business, the top-people’s wallpaper company Osborne & Little (£200 a roll). Oh, and he has also become visiting  ‘Kissinger Fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership’ in the USA. Yes, that’s the wanted war-criminal and geriatric Nazi, ‘Dr’ Henry Kissinger and chipmunk-faced ex-POW Senator John McCain, who President Trump doesn’t much like.

Blimey, he’s going to need his Bob the Builder hard-hat to cover all that ground.

His new employer – the father, not the son – is an interesting character, isn’t he. An ‘oligarch’, although Forbes magazine has pushed him out of the billion dollar bracket, the former KGB economics specialist Alexander Lebedev owns, or owned, a Russian investment bank that is in turn a part-owner of Sberbank (see previous Pumpkin).

He is reportedly no friend of Mr Putin’s. According to The Telegraph, he risks assassination or imprisonment if he should return to Russia.

Curious, because he has often defended Putin in print. In April 2016, writing in his own paper (Lebedev promised publicly on acquiring his British newspaper empire, including the now-defunct Independent, that he would never interfere in editorial policy), the philanthropic proprietor used his pages to distance himself from allegations that Putin was skimming sales of State assets and laundering vast sums, instead using the piece to settle some old scores with fellow oligarchs he claimed were colluding with Western banks to launder their ill-gotten gains; writing:

“…the executives who stole from me did so with the help of blue-chip banks and law firms in London, Switzerland and New York. Highly paid, professional British, American and Swiss bankers and lawyers — not just “dodgy Russians” — assisted in suspicious, and in many cases, absurdly bogus transactions.”

A quite extraordinary thing to claim in a column in a local newspaper! (Except that London is where much of the money ends up being invested in insanely overpriced properties.)

We, that is the Editorial board of The BogPo, of which I myself am the sole oligarch, hope and trust fervently that the new Editor of the Evening Standard will maintain as rigid an editorial framework as his predecessor (now the editor of the increasingly bland and supine, formula-driven Today show on Radio 4), Ms Sarah Sands.

And by the by, I’m sure readers will wish to lift a magnum of Bollinger and join me in wishing Sir Philip Green many hearty congratulations on his 65th birthday!

– Herr Professor Doktor Ernst von-und-zu Bogl, is owner and editor-in-chief-at-large of The Boglington Post.

(Sent from aboard the BHS Arcadia, Boglèry-sur-Mer, France-sud)

 

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 11: The environmental crimes of Donald J Trump. Not microwaving, but moaning. And another Russian bank, O Lord.

(Offensive language warning. Look away now if you are easily upset by liberals who say unkind things about President Trump.)

Let’s just kill everything, Steve says it’s easier to start from scratch. Squiggle-wiggle.

The environmental crimes of Donald J Trump

President Trump is worse than a murderer.

Lock him up good.

This trainwreck of a President, this incompetent, pig-ignorant, foul-mouthed man, widely accused of money-laundering, sanctions-busting and connections with organized crime; a vainglorious, Satanic orange slug you could easily mistake for dog-crap, with a brain made of congealed greed and a tongue stiff with lies, an overgrown spoiled semiliterate brat with ADHD, easily distracted by shiny things, owing vast sums to pliable foreign bankers, has in less than two months done more to ensure the extinction of life on earth than the next asteroid impact.

(Of course, should it be confirmed that he has senile dementia, I will apologise.)

Does he even know it, given he believes anything he hears on InfoWars and signs everything Steve Bannon shoves in front of him?

He is an ecocide: a world-criminal; a Dementor. Someone who should be seized, head shaved, zippered into an outsize orange jumpsuit and dragged in shackles and handcuffs before the International Court on capital charges of crimes against humanity, before being publicly hanged on global reality TV wearing only a pair of Argyll socks with pink suspenders.

What good has he done anyone, except to have the Chinese bail out $250 million debts of his little plastic son-in-law, Kushner, his ‘White House advisor’, who made an ill-judged property investment in 2007 that orange daddy couldn’t fix ‘cos he too had gone tits up?

His insistence that Obamacare should be abandoned before anyone had come up with an actual plan to replace it, to back up his lies on the campaign trail that such a plan existed and it would be ‘the greatest plan ever’, providing the most people with ‘the greatest care in the world’, his ignorance and overweening vanity, his hatred of his racially impure predecessor, his insane need to do him down at any cost, have condemned hundreds of thousands of even his own Dumbfuck supporters to an early death.

He doesn’t care. He doesn’t even know it. He’s a complete amateur, an over-geared small businessman who has never worked for anyone but himself; never run a large organisation of any kind; never been subjected to critical assessment; never had to sort out anyone else’s problems: a weak-minded, poorly educated, reality TV-show compère in the grip of evil forces plotting the downfall of the American republic.

And you voted for it. The decrepit man-baby with his tiny index finger on the nuclear button. The plastic children running riot, growing their shitty business interests untramelled from offices in the sacred White House, polluting your democracy.

You dumb fucks.

But all that ineptitude and vainglory pales into insignificance when compared with another threat he poses, literally to the future of the human race; and much other life on the planet.

(Understand, I’m writing this off the top of my head because every time I start Googling stories related to his criminal lunacy I just get more and more links to more sites speculating about his astounding venality and desperate willingness to please evil authoritarian men, like his dad, like Putin; while not paying his debts.)

Among the environmental crimes this Putin-inspired American Carnage has already announced, I recall statements concerning just these actions among possibly many more (later additions dated):

  • An Order signed by Secretary Pruitt, 03 April, preventing a ban coming into effect next month on pesticide Clorpyrifos, known to inhibit brain development in unborn children, despite many reports on the danger. Why? A $1m donation from Dow AgroSciences might have helped.
  • A pledge to the US car industry to scrap the ’54 mpg performance’ target set to help reduce CO2 vehicle emissions by 9 billion tonnes a year, that they are already close to meeting. “Bad for jobs.” – no evidence of that, quite the contrary.
  • A pledge to row back on the Paris accord setting an ideal (already exceeded) 1.5 deg C. worldwide warming limit, signed by 179 nations, arguing that ‘climate change is bullshit’.
  • The removal of any other carbon reduction targets.
  • The relaxing of consumer protections on a wide range of goods and services; and (among other rules), presumably the requirement for banks to hold sufficient capital; the removal of banking regulations and oversight bodies.
  • The dismantling of the Environment Protection Agency and the Parks Departments. (The vast National Parks are a cherished American heritage. Trump’s executive orders open them up to exploitation and industrial development.)
  • Permits to drill on Federal land, and in the formerly protected areas of the Alaskan arctic (where there are massive methane deposits; trillions of tonnes just waiting to be released to the atmosphere).
  • The removal of protections for wildlife and endangered species, including: ending restricted areas and seasonal bans on hunting, permitting the taking of cubs, the use of automatic weapons and shooting wolves and bears from helicopters. (This is a completely insane, sadistic order that surely must be resisted by genuine hunters?)
  • Ditto, laws regarding the proper care of domestic animals including dogs, cats and – in the USA? You’re shitting me! – horses.
  • Overturning a requirement for oil and gas companies to declare payments to even the most kleptocratic foreign governments for drilling rights.
  • Imposition of a ban on two thousand government-employed scientists publishing or presenting the results of climate research.
  • Another ban on EPA, Parks Department and NASA earthwatch departments issuing press releases and other public information relating to environmental and climate issues. The winding down of staff; a 32 per cent budget cut to start with.
  • Appointment as advisor to the transition team of toxic Washington swamp creature, rent-a-liar Exxon-Mobil lobbyist and rancid climate-change denier, Myron Ebell.
  • Nomination of  Chief Scientist, Prof. William Happer who argues that all papers published by climate scientists must be ‘vetted’. Not peer-reviewed: ‘vetted’.
  • Appointment as Secretary for Environment of Oklahoma’s Attorney-General Scott Pruitt, notorious climate-change denier and frequent litigant on behalf of energy-extracting interests against the EPA, known or thought to be in the pocket of third-worst polluting energy conglomerate, Koch Industries.
  • Removal of Reagan-era ban on polluting waterways with coal slurry, benefitting £100 billion Koch brothers’ mining interests.
  • Appointment as Secretary of State of Mr Rex Tillerson, CEO and long-term company servant of Exxon-Mobil; known or thought to be negotiating with Russia’s Rosneft over drilling concessions in the Arctic, for which the removal of sanctions would be required. Even in office, Tillerson stands to benefit substantially from any rise in Exxon stock. According to Fortune magazine:

    “His biggest conflict by far is his huge interest in Exxon, through the direct ownership of about $54 million worth of shares, plus another $175 million in a financial contract called restricted stock units (RSUs). Those units entitle Tillerson to receive Exxon shares in the future for his past years of service.”

  • To remove ‘Obama-era’ economic and travel sanctions on Russia; and to blind-eye covert Russian military operations in Ukraine, to achieve the aim stated above.
  • Granting permission for the construction of controversial Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines to bring dirty oil from hugely polluting Canadian tar-sands extraction sites 1,900 miles overland to refineries and exporting ports in Texas.
  • Appointment as Attorney-General (i.e. the man who could turn a blind eye to the behaviour of energy companies and developers, and savagely prosecute protestors) of supine and compliant Confederate-era throwback, Jefferson Beauregard ‘Jeff’ Sessions 111.
  • Removal and non-replacement of long-serving officials from the State Department and federal agencies ensuring weakened oversight, loss of global influence, confusion and lack of continuity.
  • A (so far) failed attempt to abolish the House ethics committee.
  • Removing controls on methane releases from extractive activities.

Yes, these are all genuine ordinances, as far as I can tell, that have come out of the not-so White House since he took office. I’ll be adding more as you or I think of them – or as Orange Satan himself does.

(Incidentally, Mr Trump has taken three different positions on climate change: it’s a hoax, it might be true but scientists don’t agree, and it’s probably true, but it will hurt the American economy to do anything about it (actually the opposite would be true). Showing that a) he doesn’t know what it is, b) his friends are urging him to ignore it, and c) he doesn’t give a fuck anyway.

WKB3

The Koch Brothers. Charles (l.) and David, on vacation in California. 1927.

Meanwhile, I recommend you visit Arctic.news.blogspot.co.uk for the latest updates on Arctic methane emissions (highest ever), ocean temperatures (up12 deg C.), ice cover (lowest ever); 50 deg. C. anomalies and the second El Niño (warming Pacific) event in two years, that has already begun.

And you could follow that up with some new Chinese research into the severe smog event that covered an area the size of Europe with choking, poisonous fumes for weeks on end this winter:

“The work is the latest to show that changes in the rapidly warming Arctic are already leading to severe impacts for hundreds of millions of people across North America, Europe and Asia. The US has also seen a rise in episodes of stagnant air, which may be leading to higher air pollution there.” – The Guardian Today

theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/15/airpocalypse-smog-events-linked-to-global-warming-research-reveals

But the poor old car industry, having to produce fuel-efficient cars – now, helping their shareholders to survive is more important than your grandchildren’s lives, isn’t it? And the $100 billion Charles and David Koch have personally got stuffed under the mattress, piled eighty feet high, above sea level? Give ’em a break. They work hard a diggin’ that good, clean American coal. They deserve it.

America, you’re being screwed by this murdering, tax finagling Antichrist and his shitty administration of Russian-employed Deplorables.

And you’re not the only ones. We have to share this planet with you, fuck you.

Dearly beloved

A minor theme began to emerge from some of the nasty things I’ve been writing about that nice Mr Trump and his clean-living friends. You know how they’re all religous nutters? Well, Trump isn’t, but religious nutters love him anyway, bringin’ on dem End Times, Jedoof poppin’ up agin to judge them sinners Gorsuch can’t reach. Not Trump, of course.

So anyway, I went online… and found as ever I’d been beaten to it.

Alleged wife-beater Donald Trump picks two other alleged wife-beaters for his administration

That’s from The Palmer Report. In total:

  • Vladimir Putin recently supported a change in the law, decriminalising wife-beating.
  • President Erdogan recently supported a change in the law, decriminalising wife-beating.
  • Trump has three times been accused of violence, including rape, towards his wives. Allegations withdrawn.
  • His cabinet pick for Employment (Labour) Secretary, Andrew Puzder, once labelled America’s Worst Employer, has frequently been accused of beating his wife and once claimed he was only ‘drunk-driving’ as a defence against an assault charge after an incident in the car. (I believe he’s resiled from his nomination because of it.)
  • Steve Bannon was accused of assaulting his wife, but for some reason she left the state before she could testify and the charge was dropped.

But it’s okay, the Bible says so.

“There is a subculture called “Christian Domestic Discipline” that promotes corporal punishment of wives by husbands. While its advocates appeal to the Bible to support their views, the movement has also been described as a form of S&M and there is a FetLife page devoted to it. It has also been described as inherently abusive and as primarily appealing to mentally disturbed individuals.”

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_domestic_violence

Look out, ladies, here come the Christian husbands!

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“What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately, including “microwaves that turn into cameras, etc,” Conway told New Jersey’s The Record newspaper in an interview on Sunday. “So we know that that is just a fact of modern life.”

Ping

Ohmigod, before I could learn to pronounce Lollykanne… Kollyanne… Pollyanna… Skellytanne, whatever, my boring old microwave just turned into a camera.

And I thought it was a TV set (© Sarah Palin, 2011). Hot dang.

Instead of heating my disgusting Morrison’s ready meal – I generally buy them only when I have a busy evening ahead and no time to not have to survive on par-broiled dogshit accompanied by Uncle Ben’s 2-minute racist rice with added hominy grits and black-eye peas – I could swear it was watching me.

“You don’t really know how to operate me, do you?” said a tinny, accusing voice that seemed to be emanating from an area with holes at the side. “You’re a technocretin.”

No I’m not, I replied hotly. “I’ve got a media degree and stuff!”

“So how come you just pressed the shutter button to start the video instead of the four-minute defrost? How come you just took a picture of yourself looking puzzled as you tried to work out how to reset the timer once you’d accidentally put me into time-delay mode and I wouldn’t switch on, huh?”

“Er… did you just see me pouring a large vodka and tonic?” I asked, nervously.

“You mean the third one? Yeah, sure. I’ve already sent a memo to your GP surgery, they’ve no-platformed you. Don’t say you weren’t warned.”

The data were already on their way to Langley, Va, via GCHQ in Cheltenham, an agreeable and thoroughly civilized Regency spa town in the west of England marked for instant nuclear obliteration thanks to the secretive toroidal building on its outskirts, the ear on the world that we don’t talk about.

I was a marked man too; someone without a Facebook account, found nowhere on Instagram, inked-out of Linked-in; having no idea what Snapchat or Deliveroo is; someone who bought a harmonica on Amazon last night out of sheer boredom, just to get a parcel, evidencing an eclectic browsing history no secret new Google NoCaptcha algorithm could make head or tail of; now revealed to be completely ignorant of the operation of my old Panasonic micro-whatsit pungent with last week’s fish, dessicated shreds of exploded salmon fillet still clinging to the walls and ceiling.

What more suspicious invidual could there be, you wonder?

“You’re a member of The Resistance,” intoned the microwave, accusingly. “Give us the names of your accomplices, if you know what’s good for you!”

The box emitted a burst of microwaves that came close to frying my liver. “That’s just a warning, Bogler!” it snarled, menacingly. “So what are you going to write about Donald Trump tonight, eh? It had better be good. Real nice. I have some good news stories you can put about. For instance, I just created another million jobs. So good, lotsa people goin’ back to work, 45 per cent employed, 50 per cent, maybe 55… tell your friends. (Hey, I just got a retweet from some guy in England. Do we let them in still?)”

The microwave panned around the room taking in the unwashed dishes, the rumpled and stained tablecloth, the dried splotches of old catfood on the grimy timber flooring; the unopened statements, the air of depression.

“Oh, I forgot, you don’t have any, do you?”

“Fake News!” I cried. “So fake!”

With a final ping, the cooker light went out. I stood there in the dark, wanting to cry. How come this gibbering Conway bimbo has a job, and I don’t?

“America the beautiful… from shore to slimy shore…”

Pong

So now there’s yet another investigation going on into Trump’s financial connections with Russia. Does it never end?

A report on TYT quoting CNN yesterday quoting practically everybody else on the internet as the story goes viral introduces us to yet another name, Alfa – one of the biggest banks in Russia, said to be Mr Putin’s private fiefdom.

Unusual lookup traffic has apparently been observed running continuously between Alfa Bank’s server and a server located in a small town in Pennsylvania, whose ownership has been traced back to the Trump Organization.

No-one seems to know what is in that traffic, but it seems to be almost a dedicated server, as 80% of the traffic is from Alfabank – far too high to be accidental. Is it email – or is it data? Is it fan mail, or is it financial information, like money movements?

In a further intriguing detail, it’s reported that most of the other 20% – we can presumably rule out a few spams for viagra and winks from an orange dating site – comes from a healthcare company that looks very much like spinoff from his old Amway do-it-yourself health products pyramid-selling operation, Spectrum Health.

Yes, pop-up again ‘Dick’ DeVos, the multibillionaire Republican party and Trump campaign donor ($22 million) whose wife Betsy got made Education Secretary, despite apparently not knowing the first thing about public education except that it’s not worth wasting federal budget on the coloured folks and the Dumbfucks. (True, they have created a number of scholarships for budding Christian entrepreneurs like themselves, and own at least one company hounding down student debtors).

Both the DeVos’s do however know quite a lot about the healthcare market.

Now, emails from a healthcare company could well be the viagra spam connection, I have no idea. Or it may be professional advice, how to structure what we’re not being encouraged to call ‘Trump-care’ to ensure the private clinic sector gets more traffic at higher prices from the insurers after Obamacare has ended up in the sterile bin, and 24 million Americans are abandoned to Jesus.

Its website describes Spectrum Health as a full-service private medical business located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, DeVos’s hometown. One of its services is a phone-in diagnostic and recommendation service for non-life-threatening conditions. For 45 bucks they’ll tell you to take two paracetamol and go to bed. That sounds like Amway.

Is Trump possibly getting medical treatment on the quiet from Spectrum? Knowing as we do that he almost certainly faked his medical reference, telling everyone he was the healthiest Presidential candidate ever? The Pumpkin would love to know.

But that’s probably not it either.

“Alfa Bank JSC, the corporate treasury of the Alfa Group, is the largest private commercial bank in Russia. It was founded by Russian businessman Mikhail Fridman, who is still the controlling owner today. It is headquartered in Moscow. It operates in seven countries, providing financial services to over 40,000 active corporate customers and 5.3 million retail clients. Alfa Bank is particularly active in Russia and Ukraine, ranking among top 10 largest banks in terms of capital in both countries.” – Wikipedia

What does Mr Trump’s organisation have to do with a major Russian bank? A Ukrainian national, Fridman (net worth $18 billion) has fingers in many pies, principally oil and banking. And he’s long been one of Putin’s magic circle. From Forbes Magazine:

“What’s fascinating is how many of these billionaires have some sort of connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mikhail Fridman, Viktor Vekselberg, Len Blavatnik, German Khan, Alexei Kuzmichev and Pyotr Aven each made a billion or more selling their stakes in oil giant TNK-BP to Kremlin-controlled Rosneft.”

And those sales, we know, form part of a mosaic of divestments from the public sector of a whole range of commodities formerly controlled by the Soviet State, from sales of which to the private sector Mr Putin has allegedly amassed a personal fortune close to $100 billion.

But it still doesn’t get us closer to a connection with Mr Trump, other than someone not a million miles from the President of the United States of America seems to be using one of his company servers as a dedicated pipeline to or from Alfa Bank – which also has branches in the USA, including a major investment arm in New York; and to the DeVos’s Spectrum healthcare company. So there may be nothing to it. Share price movements? Horse-racing tips? Travel offers?

A clue to a different coincidence is however to be found in the following report in Fortune magazine:

“…the bank (Alfa) has in any case been run at a respectable arm’s length from the corporate skulduggery its owners have engaged in elsewhere. Its founder, Mikhail Fridman, has now largely cut his links with the country where he made his billions. He has applied for permanent residency in the UK, and said in July that he intends to invest most of what he made selling his ($billions, remember?) share of oil company TNK-BP in U.S. healthcare…”

fortune.com/2017/01/11/donald-trump-intelligence-russian/

Maybe we’re barking up the wrong tree?

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Taxing square

So he paid $38 million in tax in 2005?

He’s reported to be steaming that the return was leaked. How embarrassing, when you built your case to the electorate on being too smart to pay tax. And when you’re about to scrap the special billionaire tax rule he had to pay it under.

But even $150 million a year income doesn’t, I’m afraid, make anyone a ‘billionaire’. In fact, Trump’s indebtedness makes him a negative billionaire; but as he appears to have no intention of paying the banks back, what does it matter? Same difference.

While on analysis, the $38 million appears to be a chimera. Analysts have noticed that the sum seems significant. They’ve worked out that he might have paid $5 million tax on his declared $150 million income, after offsetting against £100 million ‘losses’ (the Great Businessman!) – the rest being invested in an IRS scheme for the mega-rich, allowing them to not actually pay the tax owed this year, but to park it in escrow and pay it whenever the time is more convenient; in the meanwhile hanging on to any interest earned.

So fake. But did he release the papers himself? It wouldn’t be the first time he’s pretended to be a leaker, or his own PR agent. And now the rest of the media are wondering, was Rachel Maddow at MSNBC, who broke the story, deliberately fed with the two pages, the most convenient pages showing the President actually paying tax out of the past 20 years during which most experts believe he didn’t? Because it seems they were posted in New York…

Actually, to the mailbox of financial journalist and veteran Trump-watcher, David Cay Johnson, who vouches for them and suggests they may have come instead from the busy, multidepartmental desk of Jared Kushner.

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You’ve got $millions

Marissa Meyer, the attractive young CEO of Yahoo!, is reportedly on the way out of the door following the takeover by comms giant Verizon, which already owns AOL. (They don’t seem to have antitrust laws anymore in Trumpsville.)

With a severance package worth $23 million, according to Variety magazine.

Ms Mayer was heavily criticised during her time in charge for presiding over numerous breaches of security, not only through mass hacking of millions of records, but in freely handing customer data over to the NSA without even a token struggle.

Meanwhile, leaving the Bank of England only hours before she was due to take up a more senior post, having been fingered by a Commons committee as failing to register a conflict of interest on the application form she herself helped design – her brother works in Securities at Barclays – Charlotte Hogg, for whose family the word ‘Establishment’ had to be invented, gets nothing.

Ms Hogg, 47, and a genuine high-flyer, the former CEO of venture capital angels 3i, had ample warnings and persisted in claiming she had filled the form in correctly, so you could see her departure as a form of career suicide. She went, despite Governor Carney refusing to accept her resignation until the very last minute. She was that valued, he put his own career on the line to save her.

Her actual entitlement was three months’ salary: £65,000.

She chose not to take it.

And they say bankers are corrupt.

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