Open letter to the BBC… Don’t impeach him, section him… Game of fucking Thrones…Huawei doing?… Oh, stuff that Gibson! #2… GW:  The rain it raineth, North Africa shivereth.

STOP PRESS: 02 May, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has accused Trump of attempting to override the powers of Congress, naming him as a dictator, and is threatening to have Attorney-General Barr arrested for contempt. “If we don’t stand up to this now, we risk being unable to stand up to any President in the future”, he warned, describing Congress as a separate but coequal branch of government to the White House.

 

29 April, 2019

To: Sir David Clementi, Chairman of the Board of Governors

Cc Ms Fran Unsworth, Head of News

Dear Chairman and Ms Unsworth

In your 7 a.m. main bulletin on Radio 4 this morning you carried an item about the resignation (for the second time, it is getting to be a habit) of Mr Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney-General of the United States.

In that item, your North America correspondent made the astonishing claim that the Mueller report had found there was no collusion or conspiracy on the part of Mr Trump with “Russia”, whatever that means, to interfere with the 2016 election.

That assertion is entirely disingenuous, as well your correspondent knows, being based only on a widely discredited summary opinion published in advance of the full report by the new Attorney-General, Mr William “Bill” Barr, who had been in office less than a month and who has admitted that he and Deputy Rosenstein HAD NOT READ the full report before reaching his conclusions in less than 48 hours. Mr Barr is now under threat of impeachment for contempt of Congress.

Barr was appointed by Donald Trump, his candidacy railroaded through the Senate, having fortuitously published a controversial 19-page “legal opinion” that a sitting President cannot be indicted for federal crimes while in office and that the Mueller investigation was a travesty; and came to the job (for the second time) with a dishonorable record of having exonerated the six convicted conspirators in the murky so-called Iran-Contra Affair, on the order of President Bush senior.

Your reporter explained that Mr Rosenstein had had differences with Mr Trump. The substantive difference, as recorded in the Mueller report, was that absent the recused Attorney-General, Mr Sessions, Trump obstructed justice by ordering Rosenstein to concoct a letter retrospectively giving him grounds for firing the Director of the FBI, James Comey, where no such grounds existed.

In that and many other respects, the Mueller report (available from Amazon, price £8.81) does not exonerate Mr Trump. Nor has Mr Rosenstein as Mueller’s supervisor been obliged to resign because it did, which was your reporter’s imputation.

Published in two parts, the first reveals that there was indeed very clear evidence of communication between officials in the Trump campaign and foreign elements including Russian intelligence operatives and persons close to the Kremlin, but that for reasons of withholding or destruction of further crucial evidence, and for lack of conclusive proof (apart from verbal testimony) that communications took place on the direct order or with the full knowledge of Mr Trump, it was insufficient to pass the high bar required to indict a sitting President.

The report however holds out the prospect of indictments should the President leave office before the expiry of the 5-year statute of limitations.

The second part of the report examines in great detail, ten separate counts of obstruction of justice – a federal felony – with regard to the Russia investigations, and found in each case that there was clear and sufficient evidence for the Justice Department to proceed with the investigation of the President; arguing that the Special Counsel’s office did not have powers to indict Trump on those counts.

In other words, Trump has not been exonerated, as he himself seems to believe and continues to protest. Far from it. While on the counts of obstruction, Barr has argued, he is not willing to prosecute – as if there was no indictable conspiracy the investigation was invalid and therefore there could have been no illegal obstruction of it. He is refusing all further requests from Congress to go back and justify this absurd opinion.

Under the local editorship of Mr Sopel, your news coverage of the Donald Trump presidency has been generally flabby, supine and uncritical; accepting almost routinely, the lies (also identified by Mueller) of the White House press spokespeople and Republican party apologists. None of the above has been reported here, to the best of my knowledge, leaving the British public almost entirely in the dark as to the true nature of the Trump presidency and the outcome of the inquiry.

Thus it is on the basis of healthy prejudice and suspicion alone that the vast majority of people will be demonstrating against his State visit in June, when we should be legally opposing the admission to this country of an indictable criminal. (I comment on this further in a footnote.) The American border force certainly wouldn’t let you or me in with this rap sheet.

Mr Mueller’s somewhat circumlocuitous conclusion was that there were NO evidential grounds for NOT prosecuting the President, whom he directly accuses of abuse of office – one of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” for which the Constitution provides the remedy of impeachment. The Washington Post has also seen a copy of a letter Robert Mueller sent to Barr last month, bitterly criticizing his false conclusions. Lying to the House Judiciary Commttee, Barr stated that he had not been aware of any discontent on the part of Mr Mueller.

I wish you wouldn’t lie to us too, Ms Unsworth.

In passing, I should also like to comment on interviews on the Today programme conducted by presenter Justin Webb and others, demanding (with the usual high-minded hypocrisy of its presenters) some declaration of contrition from organisers of the climate protests in London and elsewhere for the inconvenience caused to the public, before they were to be allowed to put their case.

Inconvenience! If you have grandchildren, you should say goodbye to them now.

There was no acknowledgement that I heard from Mr Webb or anyone, of the frankly disgraceful role the Today programme and BBC News in general have played over many years in helping to obfuscate and deny the gravity of the situation by inviting unqualified paid liars to “balance” the truth of what the scientific community has been trying to tell us for the past fifty years.

It is you who should be expressing contrition, as had your predecessors not adopted this scientifically illiterate, dishonest and disinterested editorial position for so long, there might be no necessity now for disruptive protest.

Only now can one detect a shift towards more open reporting of this globally most pressing issue; although you are still not giving the full picture. There are many scientists who believe the IPCC’s conclusions, on which all of your reporting (and even that of Sir David Attenborough) seem to be based, were seriously watered-down, and that we have already passed the irrelevant “1.5 degrees” target set by the now defunct Paris accord, depending on how you measure it; but we never hear from them.

Together with your preponderant use of ERG and other extreme pro-Brexit contributors, the ubiquitous Farage, and so on, an egregious lack of “balance” in your Brexit coverage that has not gone unnoticed, and because of which we have you to thank in part for the total debacle of the referendum result and its nationally humiliating aftermath, the BBC can no longer be considered a trusted source, certainly as far as this dedicated listener (70 this year) and sometime former News employee is concerned.

My belief is that your growing unhealthy and unnatural bias towards the far-right, or at least your craven obeisance to its spokespersons, is somehow rooted in Lord Hall’s fear of the Corporation being broken up by these people, should they come to power, and the parts sold off to private media companies. It is obviously an undesirable prospect but I wish you would find a more robust way of addressing the problem, than by continually misinforming and otherwise thoroughly confusing your listeners on key issues, through what Messrs Birt and Jay once called the “bias against understanding” which you might call “balance”.

Sincerely, etc.

Footnote:

As you are not reporting, Ms Unsworth, Mr Trump officially remains an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the matter of bribes paid illegally as election expenses to silence inconvenient women with whom he had extramarital affairs.

He is also being investigated by the prosecutors of the Southern District of New York in relation to numerous allegations of fraud, money-laundering and embezzlement. His so-called “inaugural fund” has a $45 million black hole, that is also being investigated. He has openly admitted doing favors for contributors to it. In addition there is a big question mark over why one part of Deutsche Bank continued lending him, in total over 20 years, $2 billion while other parts of the bank had him red-flagged as a serious credit risk and serial defaulter?

There is suspicion of illegal foreign donations to his re-election funds, one being linked to a massive $4.5bn fraud trial involving the former prime minister of Malaysia and a billionaire fugitive from justice whose interests in the USA are represented by lawyers and others linked to Trump, a story you haven’t reported; and of continuing Russian interference he refuses to investigate, insisting instead that there should be aggressive counter-investigations into justice department officials and political opponents. He has refused point blank to co-operate with Congressional subpoenas – itself further grounds for obstruction charges, and is suing to prevent the disclosure of his financial records and dealings with Deutsche Bank and Capital One.

Oh, I wonder why?

Failure to investigate those stories fully amounts in my view to a dereliction of duty on the part of your comfortably embedded Washington layabouts.

His placeman, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is openly hindering efforts by the IRS and the Congressional Oversight Committee to look into his tax affairs, which they are legally charged to do. Plugging his book, the BBC had the former Attorney-General of the SDNY as a guest on Today recently.  Preet Bharara was removed by Trump in one of his very first efforts to hinder or prevent inquiries into his businesses, the fake “Trump University”, by abusing his powers to manipulate juridical appointments, but you failed to ask him about that!

Questions have been raised too over the administration’s dealings with Saudi Arabia, especially over the economic blockade of Qatar led by the Saudis that ended with the investment arm of the Qataris’ sovereign wealth fund agreeing to bail out the loss-making property development at 666 5th Avenue, owned by Mr Trump’s special advisor and middle east envoy, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, to the tune of half a billion dollars; the secret sale of nuclear secrets and supply of nuclear materièl to Riyadh without Congressional oversight; the President;’s refusal to condemn the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the vetoing of a Congressional resolution to cease supporting the criminal war in Yemen.

Indeed, many of the self-styled achievements of his presidency seem designed purely to shelter Mr Trump from the multitude of inquiries and potential prosecutions he is facing, creating an impenetrable thicket of misinformation, misdirection and unprosecutable malfeasance through the alleged illegal shredding of documents and erasure of phone records; the manipulation and bullying of the media; the silencing by intimidation of potential witnesses; the corrupt favoritism towards political appointees and sympathetic jurists; the torrent of evident untruths (over 10,100 recorded to date), and the crude attempts to remove or weaken the constitutional checks and balances on his office by decree, backed by threats of violence from his supporters.

All of it enabled by a small coterie of corrupt Senators; a hollowed-out Executive branch, now led by belligerent avowed neo-conservatives continuing to pursue Cheney’s American Project for the 21st Century, and the shameful silence of the rest of the cowed Republicans in Congress.

This is not the behavior of an honest man; nor even of a tolerably dishonest politician: it shows the worst instincts of a dictator. Nor is your reporting of it (not since John Sweeney’s brave Panorama investigation of Trump’s connections to international crime syndicates) what one had come to expect from the formerly high standards of the BBC.

Do stop grovelling to these gangster-capitalists, whose shady backers have been doing their damnedest to undermine our wavering democracy too.

 

“This is scumbag politics of an altogether different dimension from anything seen since the 1920s.”

Don’t impeach him, section him

There is clearly no bottom to the reeking sewer President Trump’s diseased mind swims in.

At a scandalized, jeering and booing rally of his illiterate dumbfucks in Wisconsin last week, with a beatific smile on his face he accused the Democratic state governor of vetoing legislation that would protect full-term babies from being aborted post-partum in hospitals – something he knows perfectly well is already illegal and never happens.

He described in his slimiest voice, how the little babies would be born alive and the nurses would wrap them in swaddling clothes and care for them while the mothers discussed with the doctors how they were going to “execute” them (yes, he really said that!)…. You can watch it, if you have the stomach, on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2qit9nAOTo&t=99s

It was a further deliberate extension of his almost-as awful and completely untrue smear that President Obama initiated the brutal policy of separating babies and young children from their migrant mothers on the Mexican border, putting them in cages and shipping them to God-knows where, and that it was a policy supported by the Democrats.

This is filthy scumbag politics of an altogether different dimension from anything we have seen since the 1920s. (also see Post #775, today and into next week)

This disgusting, psychotic individual is so sick in the head, he should not be allowed anywhere near the levers of power. The count of the lies he has told while in office has now soared over the 10 thousand mark. Clearly demented, in view of his bizarre behavior and chaotic speech patterns, he needs to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, whatever is their equivalent, and removed to a secure psychiatric unit for his own protection and that of the planet.

 

Dissimulation Row

Spotting a small reduction in oil prices, Trump tweeted out to his fanbase that he had personally brought the price down by putting in a telephone call to OPEC. OPEC promptly denied receiving any such call, so Trump then tweeted out that he had in fact spoken to Saudi Arabia and told them to increase output.

Saudi Arabia has also denied receiving any such call.

 

Game of fucking Thrones.

Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones,  Game of Thrones,  Game of Thrones,  Game of Thrones,  Game of Thrones … Game of fucking Thrones.

Just how has this meretricious, made-for-TV sword-and-sex bit of nonsense managed to insert itself into every news webpage out there, with some – shame on you, Guardian – running endless commentary on every episode and plot-twitch, while normally sane and culturally high-minded liberal-lefty pundits rarely concerned with what’s on TV specials continually drop the names of the characters, likening them to the current crop of politicians and z-list celebrities, into their political and lifestyle columns, presumably to ingratiate themselves with the millennial market?

I for one am sick of hearing about it. It isn’t news! It isn’t real!

Neither your Uncle Bogler nor his colleague, The Pumpkin – nor, for that matter, your Old Granny Weatherwax – has seen the show, lacking as we do the necessary mental equipment to understand where it is to be found on our catchup media if it isn’t on the BBC’s iPlayer. Thus all references to it are meaningless. (We have been exposed to trailer clips.)

Nevertheless we suspect we should not enjoy it overmuch. Dr Who is about as far as we go in the interdimensional adventure line, we have already been forced to sit through all seven weeks of Lord of The Rings, thank you children, and we have not been brought up in the culture of computer game-playing from where we suspect GOT derives its tiresome and fanciful Dark Age tropes.

Whoever makes it is clearly rich enough to have bought up the entire media establishment, which as we know is desperate for money, cashing in on the general ennuie that nowadays greets every mention of sodding Brexit to fill the spaces between the public’s ears.

The real world is ghastly enough, thank you.

Please go away.

 

Huawei doing?

Readers may yawn and tell me again you’re not interested in American politics.

The reason I go on reporting this stuff is because the British media won’t. And imperious American demands that Britain submit to its rules and regulations are growing daily more strident.

To add to their insistence that we accept their abysmal food standards and reckless abuse of increasingly ineffectual antibiotics (you’ll even find them polluting imported US fruit!) and banned agri-poisons in exchange for a trade agreement that is unlikely to be played as a game of two halves on a flat pitch, there is now a threat to stop co-operating with our intelligence services if the government allows Chinese technology into the 5G mix.

While they’re claiming it will allow Chinese surveillance to flourish, the Yanks seem more relaxed about their own surveillance techniques, the built-in backdoor keys to encrypted communications, whose existence was revealed in the Snowdon document leaks. And, of course, Trump’s protectionist policies are playing in. If we don’t buy from Huawei, who else are we going to buy from? Oh, right, Cisco.

The FBI and the CIA and the NSA are not going to stop relying on our GCHQ global communications intercepts, it’s a bluff. They wouldn’t dare risk another interdepartmental cock-up like 9/11, not now IS’s Abubakar al-Baghdadi has apparently surfaced in the wake of Sri Lanka with a threat to continue the war on more fronts than before.

(Btw, there’s no reason I can see to assume the video is genuine. Analysts are fairly sure it is, although al-Baghdadi was thought to have been killed in a drone strike two years ago and it seems unlikely or deliberate, if he survived, that US intel has been unaware of where he’s been holed up since.)

But this 5G business (whatever 5G is – I feel sure my fridge has no desire to talk to my curtains) seems to be yet another instance of brash and arrogant American exceptionalist bullying that bodes ill for our post-Brexit relationship.

Hopefully it doesn’t come to one.

 

Guitar bore alert

Oh, stuff that Gibson! #2

Gibson are back! trumpets the email that greets me this morning from Peach Guitars, who have been force-fed with a page of email ad-stuff by the soi-disant music business.

Gibson’s reputation as America’s leading guitar brand has suffered dreadfully in recent years through the YouTube videos of guitar bores scornfully addressing their dreadfully patchy quality issues and demoralizing management style.

It’s a page that would, if clicked on, rapidly convert into more pages of web stuff, glossy photos, specs, videos. But I don’t succumb to its blandishments.

“New leadership, new specs, new price points!” Is the headline. Well, Gibsons have long revised their price points every year to dizzyingly unrealistic heights, so we’ll gloss over that. Price points is hardly a positive marketing USP in a world of guitar brands competing to be the most ludicrously expensive. What benefits new leadership will bring, only time will tell. It hasn’t brought many in the past.

As for new specs, well, the collection of images reveals, I’m afraid, just the same two basic designs they’ve been churning out since the 1950s, the Les Paul single cutaway solid, a chunk of twang made of some unearthly heavy substance, and the familiar twin-crescent horns of the SG range. No semihollow jazzboxes are included as yet in the religious revival, but they screwed those up last time, so.

The words “traditional”, “tribute”, “standard” and “classic” feature strongly in the wording of the email, indicating that if any new specs have been introduced, they will not be allowed to get in the way of this venerable company’s familiar patronizing drone.

How one is expected to get excited about this is anybody’s guess.

I turn with a yawn to other things.

 

Crazy Optimism Corner

The Four Seasons care home chain has gone into administration, after two of its backers pulled out.

“Group medical director Dr Claire Royston commented: ‘It marks the latest stage in the group’s restructuring process.'” (BBC News)

I wish I’d thought of calling it that when my business went bust. It seemed more like a human tragedy at the time.

 

GW:  The rain it raineth, North Africa shivereth

Mozambique: Remnant cyclone Kenneth continues to hang around over the north of the country, dumping around 3 inches of rain a day on already flooded parts of the country and on Tanzania to its north. 42 people are known to have died and 20 thousand are in emergency shelters. Thousands of hectares of food crops have been lost, while flooding on three major rivers has yet to peak.

Indonesia: Excessive monsoon rains have caused casualties and flooding over a wide area. Heavy rain from 26 April caused major flooding and landslides in Bengkulu Province on the southwest coast of Sumatra Island. 29 people have died, 13 are missing and 2 seriously injured. Reports indicate heavy livestock losses and widespread property and infrastructure damage. Deadly landslides also occurred in Lampung Province where 6 people were killed on 27 April. Parts of West Kalimantan have also seen heavy rain over the last few days, increasing the likelihood of flooding and landslides. Ketapang recorded 160 mm of rain in 24 hours to 28 April. At least 2 people have died in floods up to 2.5m deep around the capital, Jakarta. (Floodlist)

Canada: Calgary, Alberta experienced a very late Spring blizzard, being blanketed with up to 7 inches of snow over the weekend, and temperatures plunging to -6C. Something of a surprise, for, as Global News reported a little over a month ago, Calgarians were celebrating the return of warm weather and being warned of the flooding danger from rapid snowmelt.

USA: Golfball-sized hailstones interrupted traffic near Wink, Texas yesterday as The Weather Channel forecast: “Severe thunderstorms will flare up in parts of the Plains states through midweek with hail, high winds, tornadoes and flooding rainfall. Showers and thunderstorms will persist in parts of the Plains through Tuesday morning and strong winds and an isolated brief tornado cannot be ruled out.” Flood warnings have been issued across a wide swathe of territory up into Missouri as daily rainfall totals of 3 inches or more on already saturated ground are anticipated. Meanwhile, peak flooding on rivers flowing south from the record spring snowmelt is expected later in the week and on into May.

India: Out in the Bay of Bengal, Tropical Cyclone Fani has the potential to cause trouble in eastern India and perhaps Bangladesh toward the end of this week, reports The Weather Channel. “As of Monday, Fani was a tropical storm with sustained winds of 65 mph. Fani was located about 480 miles southeast of Chennai, India, moving northwest at about 9 mph. An eye was already becoming evident in microwave imagery on Monday morning. Conditions will be nearly ideal for Fani to strengthen over the next couple of days, and a period of rapid intensification is very possible.” There are naturally fears that a deadly storm surge could funnel up into the Ganges delta.

Update: 30 April, coastal Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu provinces are on high alert as Cyclone Fani intensifies, with central windspeeds of over 200 k/h. 800 thousand people have been evacuated from coastal towns (NDTV).

Europe: Severe-weather.eu reports: “A very extreme and rare early May Arctic cold outbreak is shaping up for a large part of Europe this weekend. A potentially dangerous pattern establishes a strong meridional flow of very cold Arctic air far south across western and central Europe towards the deep south Mediterranean and North Africa. Temperatures from May 3rd to 7th will be much lower than normal for this time of the year with a high risk for severe damaging morning frosts across many parts of east, central, western Europe and Balkan peninsula through Sunday to Wednesday.” The potential for large-scale losses of commodities like grapes, citrus fruits and olives seems inevitable, GW adds.

The greenhouse: Arctic News reports, current daily CO2 levels approaching 415 ppm far exceed anything measurable since the previous peak of 285 ppm, 300 thousand years ago. Methane at ground level has increased since 1750 from 720 ppb to around 1870 ppb today (more at altitude) and nitrous oxide is 122% higher than in 1750 (2017 figure), with huge releases currently in Antarctica. As well as being a heat-absorber, N2O is also an ozone-killer.

Yellowstone: The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, USGS scientist Jacob Lowenstein let slip at a convention last week, they’re expecting the Big One. Meantime more earthquake swarms have been detected (but many not reported) in the caldera at reducing depths, ground temperature is still rising, along with the ground itself, and more magma is coming into the upper layers of the chamber, circulating like a lava lamp. A M6 quake should be enough to set it off, says Lowenstein. The area was hit by a M7 in 1973 – ten times more powerful than a M6. The last supereruption was 630 thousand years ago but there have been many smaller incidents since.

 

Killed by irony – an occasional series

The BogPo has a small fascination for people who die in the most ironic of circumstances.

Close to home, then, is a report of the death of one of my local councillors, Mr Paul James, ironically killed in a road accident while out training for the sponsored cycle ride he was organizing, to raise money to thank the local hospital staff for saving his life after a heart attack last year.

 

Credulous medieval cretins corner

Health workers and police have been murdered and mobs have set clinics on fire in Pakistan, after a man posted a video claiming a polio vaccination campaign was making chuldren ill. He is seen in the video ordering schoolchildren to lie down and pretend to be dead.

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The week’s BogPo gestating: It’s just something people are born with… Psst, wanna know where the Brexit “dividend” is going?… Call or write… Also in the news… A breath of fresh air #1… A Breath of Fresh Air #2… GW: Drainage problems.

Quote of the Week:

“Trump’s caddy came up to me and said, ‘You know that shot you hit on the par 5? It was about 10ft from the hole. Trump threw it in the bunker. I watched him do it.’”

-sportscaster Mike Tirico, quoted in “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump” by Rick Reilly. Trump also claims in the official record to have a lower handicap than the great Jack Nicklaus. To have won 18 golf championships (all at his own courses – none proven). And to have been fully “exonerated” by Mueller. What a total dumpster!

 

No way out

As Brexit grinds wearily on, there’s been a rapid rise in the number of “escape rooms” – immersive game-playing environments that you are challenged to escape from. There are believed to be around 1500 in the UK currently. That’s despite the deaths of 5 teenagers in Poland in January, trapped when their locked escape room caught fire.

 

Weighty conclusion

According to the latest findings of astronomers, our Milky Way galaxy has a diameter of 358 million light-years and (including dark matter) weighs around 3,000 trillion trillion trillion tonnes.

Yes, but how many Wales’ is that?

 

It’s just something people are born with

Well, six months has gone by in a flash and the good news is, once again the clock on my car’s dashboard is registering the same time as the rest of the country.

For a while at least, I can stop worrying that as the nights draw in, the world will fall an hour behind me once again.

I don’t know why I’m expected to know how to change the time on the car clock. It’s just something people know how to do, apparently. An intuition they were born with, I guess. A comprehensible twiddly knob like on my wristwatch would help, possibly, and not interfere too much with the aesthetic: note to designers.

Personally, I believe that were it not for Indicative Voting, the Commons would now be eating one another’s faces over the results of a far more important referendum, seeking the Will o’ the People to stop buggering about with the clocks.

The rest of the EU is finally putting a stop to the nonsense next year.

Remain, I say!

 

Psst, wanna know where the Brexit “dividend” is going?

Well, apart from the $4 billion the government has allocated to emergency measures in case (as a result of their own incompetence) there’s no deal, vital supplies of bogroll and so on – ferry companies with no ferries, compensating their non-competitors; tanks in the streets, etc….

No, far from spending more on the NHS, this is what idiotic Brexit Leave voters have done with our taxes:

“The government has bought a $15.9m (£12m) seven-bedroom luxury New York apartment for a senior British civil servant charged with signing fresh trade deals in a post-Brexit world, the Guardian can reveal. The foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt oversaw the purchase of a 5,893 sq ft (574 sq metre) apartment as the official residence for Antony Phillipson, the UK trade commissioner for North America and consul general in New York. The apartment occupies the whole of the 38th floor of 50 United Nations Plaza, a 42-storey luxury tower near the UN headquarters in Manhattan.” (Guardian)

I’ve been thinking of buying a campervan, myself. Easier to get around, you know. Besides, you’d never get me up to the 38th floor, I’d be crawling around on my hands and knees, gibbering, too fearful to go near windows or glass elevators. It’s called acrophobia (vertigo is the symptom, not the condition). Campervans run around happily at ground level.

You can of course make the case that putting our senior trade negotiator in a Bell tent on the Manhattan sidewalk would not be very impressive; and if £12 million is what a fancy New York apartment with a view of lots more fancy apartments costs nowadays, it’s a sound investment. But it’s a terrible optic!

For, meanwhile… “between April 2017 and September 2018 … nearly half a million, at least 480,583 relief food parcels were distributed by the Trussell Trust and independent food banks across the UK during the 18-month period.”

Given that we have record low unemployment, that figure must largely be ascribed to the government’s economically debilitating benefit “reforms”, caps and UC, that are rapidly increasing inequality misery.

Those and ever-rising housing and food costs are also partly responsible for a significant increase in children and pensioners living in absolute poverty, defined as household income “below 60% of the 2010-11 median income, adjusted for inflation.

The latest figures show the number of children living in absolute poverty increased by 200 thousand in 2017-18.” (Guardian) That bears out reports from school heads that they are having to feed and clothe their poorer pupils in rising numbers.

Although, let it be said, I’m a pensioner living on less than 60% of the median income and I don’t feel absolutely poor. I note too that benefits are capped at £26 thousand a year, which is only a little less than twice what I live on.

Not doing very well, are they? D-minus. If the government were a school, we’d be looking at exclusions.

Meanwhile for new mothers who have everything, the latest craze is collecting limited-edition designer nappies (diapers). These desirable items of washable reusable infant hygiene aids I am told can be acquired for anything up to £100. Each.

I was going to upload an image here, as a joke, but it seems that used diapers (nappies) is a… well, you know, a THING…??!!*&@//?

Shit! Muh Googly Search will have been logged!

 

Call or write…

So, do you know what a Ponzi scheme looks like when it’s at home?

Investors put their money into an “investment management” company, which instead of investing it, as expected by the mark, uses it instead to attract more investors and have a fun life. The money from the newer investors is used to payout the interest/dividends and if requested, payback the capital of the original investors.

It’s a pyramid selling scam, only with pyramid selling you might be lucky and get the occasional tub of organic vegan face cream, some Viagra or a pair of fake onyx earrings. And it depends on not too many early investors wanting to take their money out all at once – which if you get another 2007 crash is all of them.

Eventually the weight of old debt o’ertops the new investment revenue, the thing unravels and then collapses into a deep, dark black hole. You almost have to feel sorry for the fraudsters running these schemes, so great are their liabilities and lust for yachts that you cannot imagine them sleeping well.

A bloke called Bernie Madoff is serving about three hundred consecutive life sentences in the States, for running a famous Ponzi scheme that defrauded punters of about a $billion. Not only will he die in jail, his bones will turn to dust before they let him out.

But they’re not so common in Britain.

Which is why you’d maybe feel a bit sorry for the small investors who bought into London Capital & Finance with their life savings, and have lost a total of £235 million. Because, also, the regulator should be in jail for not spotting this one a mile off.

Indeed, no-one seems willing to call it for what it is. Reports still show a lot of headscratching and “Oh dear, what went wrong?” “What lessons can we learn? (None, no-one ever does) kind of coverage.

It was a scam, dimwits! A Ponzi scheme. The only thing that went wrong is they got caught.

Claiming to invest in ISAs, which are a copper-bottomed, low-interest, Government-backed investment vehicle for smaller savers, the first £15 thousand of which is tax-free, LC&F developed a brilliant wheeze whereby the money that came in was loaned out to other companies all over the shop, in chunks of £20 million-ish each.

They weren’t even registered ISA brokers. Tsk.

What the punters weren’t told was that all these companies located in small boxes on agreeable desert islands whose growth they were supporting were owned by the four directors of LC&F. As indeed was Surge, the Brighton-based advertising agency that promoted the scheme with huge porky-pies and trousered £60 million in tax-deductible fees.

Now, I’ve owned a small ad agency myself, and generally speaking you go bust waiting for the clients to pay for all that hard work, long hours, expensive people and creative flair. Which we eventually did. If I’d realized you could charge a client £60 million for a coupon ad in the retirement press and some online flannel, well…. I certainly wouldn’t be living here.

What strikes me as weird, however, is that the administrators sent in to try to recover whatever they can for the small investors are working with two of the directors of LC&F, who are supposedly contrite, and don’t appear to have called the police.

Surely Ponzi schemes are illegal here too? Maybe not.

Hey, would you be interested in earning 8 per cent per annum on your savings and retiring in comfort to a timeshare in one of our exclusive desert island destinations?

Call or write….

 

Also in the news…

Two interesting items in the back-end of the news caught your Uncle Bogler’s eye this morning, mainly because they are a Brexit-free zone and your favorite Uncle will take poison if this appalling charade carries on beyond the 12th April, that important date when he has a hospital appointment for another agonizing Trial Without Catheter (TWOC).

Some people burst into the North Korean embassy in Madrid in February. They roughed up the staff and made off with computers and documents. This was just days before Trump’s disastrous “summit” with Kim Jong-un, a tyrannical and murderous dictator whom the insane President has said he admires and, yes, even loves.

The North Koreans appear to have only just picked up the ball with this one, having remained silent for over a month. Now, they are demanding the Spanish police investigate the affair. (The Spanish police ARE investigating, dummies!) And have claimed the Americans were responsible.

That marks the beginning of the end for the rapprochement Trump so fervently hoped would give him a Trump Tower in Pyongyang and some healthy golf developments on the unspoilt northern shoreline, once the mines have been swept. The North is back to blaming Washington for everything that’s wrong with the Paradise state, and has withdrawn its telephone hotline and pop-up consular office in the South.

But apparently a small faction of high-profile exiles from North Korea, based in Mexico – home of the exiled Trotsky – has already claimed responsibility. Clearly then the North is anxious to divert attention from what they must see as a serious threat to the regime. If the dissidents are that organized outside the country, then they almost certainly have backing in Pyongyang.

Watch that space.

Meanwhile, private computer security investigators have tracked down the hackers who released phone texts exchanged between Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos and his mistress, Lauren Sanchez.

Messages that included, for God’s sake, embarrassing “dick pix”. (How old is the world’s second richest man after Vladimir Putin, 15? Does he seriously believe he wasn’t set up?)

And it appears the operation was executed in Saudi Arabia.

Who do we know who is connected with Saudi Arabia at the highest level and hates Jeff Bezos? But also loves the National Enquirer and has frequently, it’s alleged, used the supermarket trash-mag to bury news of his own sexual transgressions or to blackmail his enemies – the same National Enquirer that broke the story of the Bezos texts?

Oh, but everyone is pointing to the fact that Bezos owns the Washington Post, that has continued to blame Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman for the grisly murder of their contributor, Jamal Khashoggi.

So was this spiteful takedown that ended poor Bozos’ marriage directly ordered from Riyadh, really, or was there “collusion”?

I think they need a Special Counsel to investigate….

 

A breath of fresh air #1

In light of various alarming reports about increases in pollution, which on sunny days can sometimes be seen as a brown haze hanging over the town, even here on the breezy west coast; and of the deleterious effects of CO2 and NOx on the aged brain-meat, I had been thinking for some time that the purchase of an air quality monitor might furnish some justification for my fear that I am becoming mentally stunted beyond my years.

A fine layer of gray dust lies o’er every surface of my front room. Within a day or two of my lackadaisical efforts to polish things, the woodwork, the windowsill, this muh li’l laptop, it is back again. It looks suspiciously like asbestos dust, shed from the mighty brakes of the huge supermarket restocking trucks as they slow late into the deceptive bend in the road on which my little cottage was built in all innocence. Or maybe Johnson’s baby powder.

Twice a day, all traffic grinds to a halt outside, backed up from the roundabouts 400 yards up the road, cars just sitting there, bass-bins a’ thumpin’: dump-wump, woof-thump – grime at maximum volume shaking my window, engines idling; grime from exhausts blackening my frontage; a cloud of invisible madness and death enveloping my front garden: its vibrant Photinia, its pop-up restaurant for the quarrelsome little feathery dinosaurs; its stone bench I don’t dare sit out on to enjoy the afternoon sunshine, that ought to be my refuge and my right.

As well as the traffic pollution, I have also the twin matters of pet “dander” and cooking smells. I have no allergies to speak of, I can put up with pretty well any terrible conditions, being privately educated, but my younger relation occasionally stays and moans about Cats, the little spherical cat, and her overfed dander. As we spent a lot of his childhood rushing him to hospital for urgent ventilation, I’m inclined to give way on the subject of allergies, erring on the side of caution.

The lingering smells of cooking, too, I agree, can be unpleasant; especially as I don’t use exotic spices much, to remind you of an intriguing eastern bazaar. Just rancid chip oil. It combines with the revolting smell of rotting catfood waste from the internal black binbag store and the bathroom waste bin, with its tangy medical contents; and the odor of damp or farty dog, to create a distinct impression for visitors on entry.

My new Climatik device duly arrived with ruthless efficiency yesterday, a day early. It’s ever so user-friendly and effective, if a touch obtrusive, sitting there purring like an Airbus 320 in the context of my 12′ by 12′ front room, where I seem to spend all the time I used to spend in my expensive external studio-cum-office.

And within minutes of pressing the on-button, Dear Reader, I began to notice that I was no longer all bunged-up: snotty and muddlesome. A mountain-fresh clarity was lifting me up, making me want to breathe air fruitfully again. My nose cleared, my pulmonary airway eased, my chest stopped producing the aggravating gobbets of phlegm I’ve been hawking into a tissue for weeks – probably years.

And the fog has started to clear from my brain.

“The hills are alive…”

I seldom recommend a product to anyone, having no social media (or life), but if you’re miserable and stuffed-up and you live in a bustling town, try one of these here Climatik filtration systems. Other brands are available. It’s money well spent.

A Breath of Fresh Air #2

Good environmental news, for a change: Renewables now generate more than a third of the UK’s power output; coal just 5%.

“The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 3% in 2018 as pollution from the energy sector continued to decrease, provisional government figures show. Emissions of the gases that drive climate change have fallen for six years in a row, and are 44% below the 1990 baseline for the UK. Emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, are at the lowest level since before the start of the 20th century, when Queen Victoria was still on the throne.” (Guardian Green Light)

Aye, and we all know how much she emitted, the fat old thing!

Speaking of which, Mr Trump has made a well-received speech in which he ridiculed renewable energy, telling his adoring dumbfucks that when the wind doesn’t blow, their TVs don’t stay on. That’s why America has to go all-out for fossil fuels.

We know he was joking, right? Right? But they don’t, they love to suck-up his every slimy lie. Trump is biological opiod.

 

GW: Drainage problems

Intensive rainfall over a huge area of South America has caused flooding and landslides over the past few days. Floodlist reports:

“Around 70,000 people are currently affected by floods in several departments of Paraguay. Flooding and landslides in Peru have damaged or destroyed dozens of homes and prompted evacuations. In Ecuador, flooding in Los Ríos Province has prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency, while in Bolivia, over 2,000 hectares of crops and 109 homes have been destroyed by flooding from the overflowing Parapetí River in Santa Cruz department.”

Afghanistan: Flash floods have killed at least 32 people in western Afghanistan, destroyed homes and swept through makeshift shelters that housed displaced families. Flooding caused by heavy rains started spreading on Thursday and left a trail of devastation across seven provinces. Another 12 people were missing and more than 700 houses were destroyed or severely damaged. (Reuter) At least 5 people have died in flash floods in neighboring Iran. In a 24-hour period to 1 April, Khorramabad, capital of Lorestan Province, recorded 106.9 mm of rain. (Floodlist)

Arctic: on March 31, 2019, the Arctic region was 7.7°C or 13.8°F warmer than the 1979-2000 average for the date, compared with a world that on average was just 0.7°C warmer overall. In places the anomaly was +30°C as warm water has been pushing up through the Bering strait. Sea ice extent at 13.42 million km², was a record low for the time of year. The melt season is just beginning. – Arctic News, reporting on a Climate Reanalyzer satellite image that bizarrely shows a large cold spot hanging over Egypt, Sudan and Chad. The Antarctic, too, is colder than normal, by 2.4°C.

Canada: “Is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, a landmark government report has found, warning that drastic action is the only way to avoid catastrophic outcomes. While global temperatures have increased 0.8C since 1948, Canada has seen an increase of 1.7C – more than double the global average.” More heatwaves, floods, crop losses and forest fires are indicated. (Guardian Green Light)

 

Of historic interest…

No deal
Javid, Barclay, Gove, Grayling, Mordaunt, Leadsom, Truss, Cairns, Fox, Williamson, Lewis, Brokenshire, Cox

Customs union
Rudd, Clark, Lidington, Hammond, Gauke, Mundell, Perry, Nokes, Hinds, Bradley

Undecided
Smith, Hancock, Wright, Hunt

The Pumpkin – Issue 79: Mueller iced… If Donald Trump isn’t crazy, then he’s deadly dangerous… Stormy weather… Nunes the Uproarious… You’re grounded!…Oil’s well that ends wells… GW: It might as well be Spring…

 

“Bad gateway.”

 

“The statement that no further charges are anticipated will surely give Trump himself both huge relief, and a massive propaganda coup against his detractors.”

Mueller iced

So it looks like Mueller has delivered his report on suspected collusion between the Trump 2016 election campaign and the Russian government, a year and nine months in the gestating (somehow the memory of elephant parturition comes to mind), to Attorney-General William Barr – a recent Trump appointee who doesn’t believe in prosecuting presidents – for initial vetting and, hopefully, public release.

The statement from Mueller’s office – was it a statement or just a broad wink? – that no more indictments are forthcoming, seems to let Donald Trump Jr (“Dapper Don”) and “The Son-in-Law Also Rises”, Jared Kushner off that one particular hook, of collusion.

Which seems odd, given that both have admittedly lied to officials about their contacts with Russians, while both were present at the notorious June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Kremlin lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya, money-launderer and oligarch-connected political fixer Paul Manafort and two former Russian military intelligence officials, one previously convicted of money-laundering – whose purpose, again, both men lied about. Trump Sr also lied about it, issuing at least two misleading statements about the purpose of the meeting, which he also claimed, improbably, he knew nothing about.

Those are, I believe on the basis of many reliable accounts, what are known as facts, rather than suppositions.

Dapper was made to reveal the contents of the email with which the meeting was set up, to which he enthusiastically replied, welcoming Russian intelligence (“dirt”) about candidate Clinton. In addition, a number of meetings with Russians were not for a very long time listed among Kushner’s stated foreign contacts on his security application form, at which he had no fewer than 40 attempts before the security service was satisfied he had finally come clean. Deliberately failing to provide relevant information on that form is a federal offence punishable by up to five years in jail; instead he was rewarded with a top-level clearance, apparently on the direct order of the President.

Those actions seem to The Pumpkin to be pretty clear, de facto evidence of crimes for which other members of the Trump team have already gone, or are on their way, to prison. Nevertheless, it appears nothing more is to be done. That could indicate innocence, or it could equally be that more proceedable indictments are yet to come from other quarters.

The statement that no further charges are anticipated will surely give Trump himself both huge relief, and a massive propaganda coup against his detractors and his imaginary horde of enemies: the “fake news media”, who may now face retribution – and Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats.

Although perhaps we need to be reminded that he is still an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a charge of fraudulent use of campaign finances against his former lieutenant, Michael Cohen, who has already pleaded guilty, nevertheless it is perfectly possible that poor Mr Trump is in fact innocent of all allegations against him: traduced, and yes, Presidentially harrassed by treacherous elements from within the Deep State seeking to undermine his project to make America great again.

Trump is still facing no fewer than 17 separate criminal investigations, a broad-ranging Congressional inquiry, and battling literally thousands of civil lawsuits in courts up and down the land; the vast majority of which he has been losing, at least at the the lower levels. Nevertheless it is the Special Counsel inquiry alone on which he has pinned his Great Leap for Freedom, tweeting out eleven hundred times over the past two years his hysterical protestations of innocence and his fervent belief that the inquiry is all a hoax and fake and a Clinton-inspired witch-hunt.

It seems almost impossible to believe there is no hint of any attempt on his part to obstruct justice, given the number of justice officials he has tried to malign, discredit and undermine, or who he has actually fired or pressured to leave office. The tally of his victims includes all six of the senior FBI officers who could have given testimony against him in the matter of his reported attempts to badger Director Comey to drop an investigation into the compromised “Russian asset”, his chief security adviser, Gen. Mike T Flynn – who, incidentally, has yet to be sentenced, as he is busy informing against a former business partner also indicted on charges of acting as an undeclared foreign agent

Clearly the investigations are not yet done. But the main one, the Mueller inquiry, has been shut down – for good. Was this not Trump’s intention in firing A-G Sessions and replacing him with Barr, who was instrumental as George HW Bush’s A-G in quashing any inquiries into the Iran-Contra affair under the Reagan administration?

What idiot, in God’s name, wrote down the bit of the Constitution that allows the President the power to appoint the chief justice?

“it was always on the cards that Mueller would be unable to make that final killer connection”

The question surely must also remain, why Trump has responded to the Special Counsel inquiry throughout, in the way he has: frequently attacking it, claiming it had no legitimacy, frequently slandering Mueller and his team, branding them (falsely) as Democrat party hacks, complaining of lack of “loyalty” in the Justice Department; both he and members of his vast array of incompetent White House legal counsel making self-incriminating statements, if he has no awareness of his own guilt? Why does he need all those lawyers? To paraphrase someone or other, “methinks the Donald doth protest too much.”

But it was always on the cards that Mueller would be unable to make that final killer connection between Trump and what was very obviously collusion between his team and the Russians – over 100 reported contacts – many of whom he has also indicted, although their cases will never come to court. It wasn’t in his brief to prosecute Trump, merely to gather the evidence. Evidence that Barr has determined within 48 hours of receiving the 500-page report, goes nowhere.

And if no indictments are to follow, with no moderating influences left either in the White House or in the congressional Republican party, and any opportunity taken to claim his Democratic opponents have demonstrably been involved in a hoax witch-hunt, Dictator Trump now has a heaven-sent opportunity to let rip.

It could be calamitous.

Trump is a past-master, as Cohen stated before a Congressional hearing last month, of getting his way without seeming to give orders; of relying on a systematic grinding down, of compromising those around him until they grovel to interpret his wishes and gain his approval for skulduggery without leaving his fingerprints on any illicit actions or lies designed to benefit him personally.

And he has never been shy to throw his acolytes – for so even four-star generals quickly become – under the proverbial bus, as despite multitudinous investigations over the decades, his opaquely criminal career plows serenely ahead. He is, so far, seemingly Mr Untouchable.

He is also a malignant narcissist and sociopath, filled with malice and thoughts of revenge against anyone disrespecting his authority; revenge which, many US commentators are now waking up to realize, will be enacted, and soon, on the basis of his (again, false) assertion that Mueller has “exonerated” him – which he has not!

Whatever else you may say about him – and it is probably better now he has his tail up to say nothing actionable – he is an extraordinary character in the history of extraordinary characters New York has produced over the years.

F Scott Fitzgerald – even Damon Runyon – might have had trouble creating his like.

 

If Donald Trump isn’t crazy, then he’s deadly dangerous

In an interview last week with Breitbart News – and maybe he said these things only because he knows Breitbart reaches the more intellectual end of his dumbfuck support “base” other media cannot reach – Trump was at his most disturbing.

“So here’s the thing—it’s so terrible what’s happening,” Trump said before discussing his supporters (writes USA Today). “You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. … You wouldn’t like my supporters if they got angry…”

“Bikers for Trump”? The military? Is he threatening the American people?

Okay…. look, only a couple of weeks earlier Trump’s former bagman, protégé and confidant, Michael Cohen – a smalltime fraudster with a bad law degree and the owner of a New York taxicab firm – had remarked while giving sworn testimony to Congress that he didn’t think Trump would cede power easily if he loses the 2020 election, and that there could be violence. A few days later, it was reported that eldest son Donald Trump Jr, a booby with Brylcreem for brains, was being “groomed” by the party to run for the Presidency in 2024.

Was what he said to Breitbart one of his indirect, coded messages, by which Cohen says Trump conducts the shittier end of his business while personally remaining hands-off? Is his impeachment, or his removal under the 25th Amendment (designed to crowbar a crazy President out of the White House), or losing in 2020, is that supposed to be the bad, very bad “certain point” at which his well-armed and violent supporters rise up and start slaughtering Democrats and people of color?

We may not know, as shortly after the media shitstorm broke over that bit of distraction, Trump took down the Twitter link to the interview.

And what is so “terrible what is happening”?

Why, could it be the many and various legitimately constituted inquiries into his suspected criminal conduct and that of his rotten little family?

The “witch-hunt”, that has already burned a dozen of his associates at the stake and seems to be extending forever out into the Trumposphere, with daily news of this or that business associate of his, or of his ex-pal Paul Manafort’s, being jailed or indicted, or subpoena’d (that’s 81 individuals right there), or having their luxury pads turned over by the Feds?

The latest person of interest in the Southern District of New York court’s probe of Trump Organization’s finances is a Deutsche Bank official who was apparently involved in approving some of the $2 billion of loans made to Trump over 20 years, despite jitters on the board as – to their knowledge – Trump was overvaluing his collateral assets by up to 70 per cent to obtain money fraudulently and had no credit with other US banks.

The investment banking arm even lent to him after he had sued the retail banking division for $3 bn for lending him $740 million he couldn’t pay back, claiming their lending policies had caused the 2008 crash!

Citing 21 bank officials they’ve interviewed, a New York Times investigation reveals: “The bank lent to Trump despite of multiple “red flags” waved by other financial institutions as well as its own internal investigations between the late 1990s and 2016” – when Deutsche finally stopped lending to him.

According to the Times, says Fortune magazine, Trump also tried to woo Deutsche bankers with private helicopter rides and promises of free weekend trips to play golf at his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago – an offer he apparently tried to wriggle out of after the deal he had borrowed for went sour!

In an interview with MSNBC, NYT Finance editor David Enrich points to the unusual and probably corrupt relationship between Trump and the bank, which continued lending even after Trump had defaulted on a major junk bond issue in relation to his casinos at a time when Deutsche were themselves in trouble for money-laundering and interest-rate manipulation.

It seems Deutsche may have thought they were benefitting in publicity terms from their support of the glamorous billionaire poster-child for capitalist excess, just like all the other greedy, smalltime crooks and dodgy investors and gullible businessmen he has been conning all his life, or so investigators report, who thought they were buying in to the Good Times.

And so the rumors swirl that Mueller is digging deep into Trump’s relationship with one of the world’s dirtier financial institutions. But as I say, the net is groaning with fish as it stretches ever further outward.

Too-obvious-looking-to-be-a-real-mobster and Republican party treasurer, Elliott Broidy (photo, left) has also been in the crosshairs in the past ten days, as it was revealed the FBI had also seized quantities of documents from him a while ago. Broidy was caught up in the Trump spider’s web when the media reported in 2017 that he might have been the beard who paid $1.6 million to make an allegation go away, that Trump had fathered and then aborted an extramarital child with a model called Shera Bechard (left); checks were written in the name of “David Dennison” – the same pseudonym Trump used on his NDA with Stormy Daniels. Yet the story was heavily put out that it was Broidy’s ugly foetus, and Broidy’s bribe, which no-one really believes.*

A badly Photoshopped image, but you get the picture. (Apologies etc. to NY Post/ WWD/Rex/Shutterstock; Getty)

Remember, this is just one individual we are talking about, in an obscure network of Trump’s unfortunate contacts extending possibly into the hundreds. Given the vast complexity and weight of the allegations over decades about a multinational, multifaceted conspiracy of fraud, financial crime and influence-peddling in which the name Donald Trump appears to sit plumb centre, it stretches credulity that the President is the innocent victim of media harrassment, as he constantly whines.

The website City & State New York reported on Broidy in August last year:

“The investigation into Broidy’s activities comes nearly nine years after he pleaded guilty in New York to a felony charge stemming from his involvement in a pay-to-play kickback scheme involving then-state Comptroller Alan Hevesi. The scheme came out of an effort to get a $250 million investment from the New York State Common Retirement Fund into Markstone Capital Group, a private equity firm Broidy founded in Los Angeles. Broidy paid $1 million in gifts to officials in the comptroller’s office, according to then-state Attorney General (now Mayor) Andrew Cuomo.”

Broidy was also one of the missing links in Trump’s obscure relationship with Saudi Arabia, embarking on a mission with his pal, “businessman” George Nader, incidentally a convicted pedophile, one of several in Trump’s ambit, to raise a billion dollars for Trump’s 2016 campaign. The Intelligencer reported (May 2018):

“He had ingratiated himself with crown princes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who were seeking to alter U.S. foreign policy and punish Qatar, an archrival in the Gulf … To do that, the California businessman had helped spearhead a secret campaign to influence the White House and Congress, flooding Washington with political donations. In return for pushing anti-Qatar policies at the highest levels of America’s government, Broidy and Nader expected (and got! Ed.) huge consulting contracts from Saudi Arabia and the UAE”

Other allegations of affairs, mistresses and bribery have swirled around Broidy – who is, let’s face it, no oil painting. This is the level of person with whom the President has for decades, right up until today, associated. You either have to agree that he has a most unfortunate choice in business associates, or you have to accept, I’m afraid, that the President of the United States is a tawdry thug and mobster who will stop at nothing to retain both his liberty and the power of the highest office in the land; while fleecing the US taxpayer of $billions.

Even, when that “certain moment” arrives, summoning his Bikers from Hell to overthrow the State.

* nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/05/more-evidence-that-broidy-was-covering-for-trump-in-affair.html

(And, boy, is the internet acting up today! YouTube too, I can’t seem to get at any of the material I need for this piece without a major struggle.)

 

 

Nunes the Uproarious

One of the great mysteries is why Trump has so many enablers who are seemingly willing to risk public opprobrium, loss of office and even jail time for him.

Frightened-rabbit-eyes, Congressman Devin Nunes was much in the news in 2017 (BogPo, 22 March) as the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who was leaking inside information to the White House about his own confidential inquiry into Russian meddling in the election, and attempting frantically – you might say farcically – to block hostile witnesses from testifying against his hero.

Exploring the relationship – a California representative, Nunes had done his best to massage Candidate Trump’s image in the state where he was least popular – The New York Times wrote in April last year:

“Trump appears to have been able to influence Nunes to a remarkable degree. So much so that during Trump’s time in the White House, Nunes has transformed the Intelligence Committee into a beachhead from which to rally his fellow Republicans in support of the president against his perceived enemies — not just the Democratic Party but also the F.B.I., the Department of Justice and the entire intelligence community.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/24/magazine/how-devin-nunes-turned-the-house-intelligence-committee-inside-out.html)

Nunes thoughtfully punches himself in the face. (Socialmediadaily.com)

Indeed, at one time Trump was considering making Nunes his Intelligence chief, odd considering he apparently has a reputation for studiously ignoring anything the intelligence community reports, but in the end selected Admiral Dan Coats – which he is probably regretting. Even so, Trump was mightily relieved when, ignoring all the evidence presented to his committee by the intelligence services and the FBI, Nunes singlehandedly rushed out his own report denying that there had been any Russian meddling and exonerating the President of “collusion”. He subsequently came up before the Ethics Committee, but it wasn’t a serious investigation.

That this man is a total booby-hatch job is revealed in a story of how, age 22, as an eager “Young Republican” from a wealthy farming family, he whipped up a hysterical campaign to rescue a traditional dairy farm he thought was being closed down, where he had enjoyed being at summer camp; only to find that it was being sold because the owners were buying a bigger and better one down the road. Nevertheless, the fuss he made impressed the local voters, and (despite being under the legal age) he ran for Congress, did well and got in two years later at the second attempt.

Dairy has now resurfaced as the theme of another farcical Nunes initiative. A satirical Twitter meme has apparently been going the rounds, concerning a cow named “Devin Nunes”, the Twitterati daring to make fun of his farmboy image. So thin-skinned has Nunes become since the committee hearing, where he was caught on camera skulking comically on the White House lawn and had to lie that the President was briefing him, rather than the other way around, that he has claimed the jokes are actual news items – “fake news”, and a breach of his First Amendment rights.

He has now announced a $250 million lawsuit against Trump’s favorite web platform for “defamation” and is threatening to go after the entire internet, wherever anyone has said anything about him he complains is unfair and not true. Even jokes. They might include his own mother, who has publicly stated (actually, it’s Twitter trolls pretending) that she doesn’t think he’s fit for office. It’s now all over the web that the Congressman is suing a cow, and the Guardian reports, Devin Nunes’ Cow has 107,000 followers!

This looks suspiciously to The Pumpkin like yet another piece of distraction to divert media attention from Trump-Mueller, in the hope that a few commenters will be scared off.

But it’s a welcome relief from jokes about the President, who is no longer funny.

 

You’re grounded!

The Federal Aviation Administration’s immediate response to the Ethiopia Air disaster was to give Boeing a clean bill of health, at a time when airlines the world over were dropping 737 Max 8 flights like hot coals. Disparaging remarks were published about Ethiopia Air sounding like some backwoods operation, when in fact it’s the biggest and statistically the safest national carrier in the African continent.

Curiously it was Trump who eventually expressed alarm, leading to the grounding of US Max 8s pending investigations into the suspect sensor that puts the plane automatically into a dive if it detects a drop in airspeed. Fatuously, but not without some justification, he grandad-tweeted that technology is getting too complex for normal people – even pilots – to understand it.

Following which, the similarities between Ethiopia and the Lion Air crash in Indonesia last November, that killed 346 people between them, started to come out. Although investigations have yet to be completed, there seems little doubt that Boeing knew about the fault but may have failed to ensure the airlines that have purchased over 300 of the extended 737s were fully aware of the problem and what to do about it. It’s said that the Lion Air crew were still studying the flight manual to try to discover how to override the automatic dive when the plane ploughed into the ground.

More reports then emerged of an unnaturally relaxed relationship between the FAA and Boeing, who have over the years acquired more and more autonomy over their own air safety inspections regime as the FAA’s budget has shrunk. They’re able basically to self-certify the safety of around three quarters of their aero-engineering systems, which seems hardly healthy.

Now we learn from the Huffington Post that:

“Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is under investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general over ties to his former employer, the aerospace juggernaut Boeing. The Defense Department said Wednesday it had opened an ethics investigation into complaints that allege Shanahan regularly touted Boeing over other defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin, while serving in an official government capacity.” http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/patrick-shanahan-boeing-ethics-scandal_n_5c92f072e4b01b140d3559a6

There is, The Pumpkin long ago concluded, no end to the corruption, the cosy relationships between politics and big business that a system that places capital before human life and welfare inevitably engenders.

We might as well just give in to it.

 

Oil’s well that ends wells

“In the first significant check on the Trump administration’s “energy-first” agenda, a US judge has temporarily halted hundreds of drilling projects for failing to take climate change into account. Drilling had been stalled on more than 300,000 acres of public land in Wyoming after it was ruled the Trump administration violated environmental laws by failing to consider greenhouse gas emissions.” Environmentalists are hailing a significant advance. (Guardian Green Light)

The company concerned is squealing that it can’t possibly guess how much methane it’s going to spew into the atmosphere if it doesn’t yet know how many wells it’s going to drill. Clearly, they don’t employ anyone with a knowledge of calculus. As for the Trump administration failing to consider greenhouse gas emissions, they’ve just appointed a panel headed by a notorious climate-change denier, Prof William Happer, who owns a private foundation funded by Exxon-Mobil and Koch Industries, to overturn the pretty dire findings of their own 4th National Climate Assessment last year. They don’t accept the principle that the greenhouse effect even exists.

Here in the UK: “The government’s fracking proposals would release the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as almost 300 million new cars, fatally undermining ministers’ obligation to tackle the escalating climate crisis, according to new research Analysis by the Labour party shows that the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere if the government’s plans go ahead would be the same as the lifetime emissions of 286 million cars – or 29 new coal-fired power plants.” (Guardian Green Light)

 

GW: It might as well be Spring

Australia: A state of emergency has been declared in the Gulf of Carpentaria as the largest ever evacuation before a cyclone takes place in the Northern Territory. “Cyclone Trevor is expected to make landfall again as a Category 4 on Saturday with authorities warning conditions are already deteriorating fast. Authorities have warned Trevor could bring wind gusts in excess of 200-300km/h (up to 185 mph!) as well as massive rainfalls.” (9Com News)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country:  “In less than 24 hours, Veronica went from an unnamed tropical low to a Category 4 intense tropical cyclone as it spun off the northwestern coastline of Western Australia. Further strengthening is expected as Veronica turns southward toward the Australia coastline in the coming days.” Depending on an as-yet uncertain forecast, “Areas near and along Veronica’s track will be at risk for life-threatening flooding and damaging winds capable of damaging homes, knocking down trees and causing widespread power cuts and travel disruptions.” (Accuweather)

Mozambique: Rescue efforts are continuing in Africa’s third-poorest country (GDP $12 billion) in the wake of Cyclone Idai as an inland sea 30 miles wide continues to grow from continuous rainfall, swollen rivers and bursting dams. The airstrip at Beira is open again to allow aid flights but tens of thousands of people are still marooned on rooftops and in trees by rising floodwaters and there are only 4 helicopters available, which seem to be taken up with overflying the world’s media. Frantic efforts are being made to evacuate the town of Buza (pop. 200,000) threatened with total inundation. It’s currently still raining but a dry spell is forecast next week that might bring some relief. The regional death toll from what is being described as Africa’s Katrina is still being put at 400, although it is expected to rise to more than a thousand. The Indian navy reports hundreds of bodies floating out to sea. (Wunderground and various sources)

Your Gran speculates that meteorologists will want to look at how this powerful 115 mph, Cat 3 storm developed in just a few days from a tropical depression, with only the 200-mile Mozambique Channel to cross. Cyclones seem to be intensifying more rapidly as the oceans warm and the jetstreams become more fragmented, creating static areas where wind shear may or may not be a factor. Last year’s Hurricane Michael, the third most powerful in US history, just appeared out of the Gulf as if from nowhere, taking forecasters by surprise. But strong wind-shear conditions lasting for months prevented any major Caribbean hurricanes from forming.

Angola: At least 19 people have died and 8 are still missing after a period of heavy rain brought flooding to the provinces of Benguela, Luanda, Huíla and Zaire. (Floodlist)

Indonesia: At least 5 people have died in Yogyakarta City and the surrounding regions after heavy rain over the last few days triggered flash floods and landslides. Over 170 homes have been damaged, along with roads and electricity lines. (Floodlist)

Paraguay: Heavy rain and flooding have affected tens of thousands of people since 15 March. The worst affected areas are in the departments of Presidente Hayes, Concepción and Guairá. Some villages are isolated. More heavy rain is forecast.

USA: “The flooding disaster that continues to unfold over the central United States is likely to continue well into April, putting more communities and farmland at risk. The disaster was set in motion during the second week of March, when a ‘bomb cyclone’ struck the region, dropping heavy rain and triggering massive snowmelt, which led to an excess of runoff into rivers and waterways. The flooding has led to several deaths, the evacuation of an entire town in Missouri and over $1 billion in damage thus far.” (Accuweather) Agricultural outputs are forecast to be severely affected, while the river flooding (the Missouri in Nebraska hit a new record high-watermark) has yet to peak downstream and may continue into the summer months. And “There may be another larger storm that will roll through the central U.S. with rain during the latter half of next week”, says Accuweather.

Canada: Temperatures in the Northern Territories have been as high as 21.6C in the past week, just over 70F. The late March temperature going back to 1900 is normally around 0C, 32F. Ice roads have become impassable for local communities. (Paul Beckwith/Earth Nullschool)

 

Land of our Feathers

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee reports: “The nation is failing to protect threatened species, end the degradation of land, reduce agricultural pollution and increase funding for green schemes. It also says the UK is not ending unsustainable fishing, stopping the arrival of invasive alien species nor raising public awareness of the importance of biodiversity.” (Guardian Green Light)

19 targets were set in 2010 by the global Convention on Biological Diversity. Only 5 are being met. Most attempts at “rewilding” Britain are being vigorously opposed by landowners and the owners of shooting estates, whose gamekeepers continue to flout laws supposedly protecting raptors and prey mammals.

I don’t know if that explains it, but over the past two days, 90% of the greedy, quarrelsome little buggers that normally feast on the pop-up restaurant in my front garden, that I call “Feathers”, have simply vanished.

It must mean something.

 

This week – including: Forgetting the sins of the past… In your face… Fleabag: A metatextual moment to savor… GW: Happy days – the calm before (and after) the storm… Britain: the Fortunate Isles!

Quote of the Week

“During the referendum three long and painful years ago, it was the Leavers’ boast that they would restore parliamentary sovereignty to all the powers and glories they claimed had been lost to Brussels. What they have instead done is to turn Britain’s legislature into a theatre of anarchy that daily demonstrates that it cannot agree on anything. A country once widely admired for the functioning of its democracy and the robustness of its institutions has been turned into a global joke.” – Andrew Rawnsley, writing in The Observer

 

“The crocodile tears of politicians on both sides are certainly not enough to put out the fire.”

Forgetting the sins of the past

Until the early 20th century, New Zealand had an unusually complex relationship with violence. At the same time as white settlers were engaging with hostile native Maori, the Maori themselves were involved in many brutal local wars, particularly in the Chatham Islands, where they massacred and enslaved the Morori population. Some Maori kingdoms joined with the white settlers – the forces of the British Crown – in power grabs against other tribes. Wikipedia lists a depressing series of massacres, large and small, over 250 years. The history is only now being acknowledged:

“A 2013 Waitangi Tribunal report said the action of Crown forces on the East Coast from 1865 to 1869—the East Coast Wars and the start of Te Kooti’s War—resulted in the deaths of proportionately more Māori than in any other district during the New Zealand wars. It condemned the “illegal imprisonment” on the Chatham Islands of a quarter of the East Coast region’s adult male population and said the loss in war of an estimated 43 percent of the male population, many through acts of “lawless brutality”, was a stain on New Zealand’s history and character.”

The terrible massacre of – so far, 10 more are critical – 50 Muslim men, women and even very young children in a well-armed attack on two Christchurch mosques, self-presented on social media by averred white supremacist Brenton Harrison Tarrant, an Australian national who had somehow managed to obtain a Class B gun licence permitting the purchase of rapid-fire military assault rifles AND kept himself off any terror suspect lists, has been described as New Zealand’s “loss of innocence”, referring – we suppose – to the idea that it is and has always been a peaceful, law-abiding paradise where acts of terrorism never happen. The killings have been described by some as “unprecedented” in the islands’ history.*

It’s remarkable, how easily the victors of three centuries of colonial wars and ruthless clearances and brutal occupations and rebellions and reprisal killings and lynchings and mass rapes and deliberate infections with diseases and poisonings of wells and torn-up treaties from misalliances in so many countries around the world, forget the sins of the past.

And how easily the present-day rulers of postcolonial nations accommodate themselves to the popular belief in the supremacy of their races, purely on the basis that their atrocities outperformed those of the peoples they have supplanted in defeat. And how many deluded individuals follow them, in the belief that murder of the Other is being licensed by a higher authority. Tarrant’s manifesto clearly placed him in the camp of the medieval Crusaders, it seemingly having never occurred to him that in relation to the native Australians, after 60 thousand years he’s the immigrant.

As he bathed in the adulation of a selected human-wallpaper phalanx of burly border security goons and the families of some of the token “victims” of forerunners of the million criminal migrants he believes in his craziness are massing on his southern border**, in a carefully choreographed ceremony to veto the legitimate rejection by Congress of his absurd “State of Emergency” declaration, Mr Trump commented in passing on the Christchurch massacre, that he didn’t think white supremacist terrorism was much of a problem anywhere.

His insouciance – with echoes of past comments about “many fine people” among the neo-Nazis of Charlottesville and a willingness to believe terrorism is only a problem when it’s carried on by non-white, non-Christians – found another echo in Tarrant’s online “manifesto”, both men preferring to substitute the pejorative “invasion” for legal migration. The Guardian reported:

“In the US, violence by far-right attackers has surged since Trump took office. There has been a documented rise in anti-Muslim hate groups in the country in the last three years, and the FBI has reported a steady increase in reports of hate crimes.” Let alone, the virulent conspiratorial messaging online.

And it’s true, we can’t simply erase from the narrative, because it might seem sacrilegious not to do so at this time, the many acts of callous violence perpetrated by Muslims – call them Islamist extremists if you will, the problem with opposing all religious extremism and violence being the risk of denigrating the core beliefs and values of the congregation as a whole – in recent years on civilian targets in the West.

The image of Tarrant, or his hero, the Norwegian psychopath Anders Breivik, calmly wading through screaming crowds of innocent worshippers, spraying bullets indiscriminately from high-powered automatic rifles, is indeed as truly horrifying as that of the Islamist gunmen who took over the Bataclan concert hall in Paris and slaughtered over 90 young concertgoers, or the two men who wandered along the beach on a sunny day in Tunisia, firing AK-47s at random at defenceless Western tourists lying out in the sun. There’s an endless supply of disaffected petty criminals to carry out the dirty work of political religionists in the shadows.

If questioned, those men would no doubt point to the thousands of innocent men, women and children who have died in Western military-supported actions in the Muslim world; or to the savage punitive reprisal raids known as “mowing the lawn” conducted with supreme indifference by Israeli forces in Gaza, responding to minimal acts of self-defense by the Palestinians. Others will point to the cathartic moment for the West of the demolition of the World Trade Center in 2001 by Saudi Wahabbi terrorists using hijacked airliners, the ensuing deaths of three thousand people and counting; deaths on the streets of cities.

But what are we going to do, go on playing “You started it!” all the way back to the first crusade and beyond? The best game of all would be, wouldn’t it, “We stopped it!”.

The crocodile tears of politicians offering “prayers and condolences” on both sides are certainly not enough to put out the fire; not while they still have an ounce of ambition.

Ending our infantile obsession with iconographic religious mythology and dead books might be a good place to start.

*(I notice the MSM are now inserting the modifier “modern” in front of “history”.)

**(I apostrophize the word “victims” not out of bias, but because a number of these poor people he ruthlessly exploits in pursuit of his anti-immigrant crusade are apparently the relatives of people who died in traffic accidents where one or another person involved was found to be an undocumented migrant – and not the victims of criminal violence, as Trump likes to insinuate. The truth is that immigrants are responsible for considerably less crime than the legal residents.)

 

Goat for me!

The town of Fair Haven, Vermont, has elected a Nubian goat called Lincoln as its mayor. Lincoln beat off competition from half a dozen animals, including Crystal, a gerbil, and then promptly blotted her copybook by crapping on the floor of the town hall.

Proving she’s a true-blue Republican.

 

“Why do they imagine we want this?”

In your face

A friend told me, the local assembly government is hiring temporary people to deal with the Brexit crisis. Though long retired, I had a track record in creative business communication, planning and management, and could use the money. So in the Dunkirk Spirit, I thought I’d apply.

I’d got a few lines in to compiling a heavily redacted and imaginative CV, using Word, when Microsoft piped up. “I see you’re writing a CV”, said the message. “Would you like any help?”

Jesus Fucking H Christ, Just FUCK, FUCK, FUCKETTY-FUCK RIGHT OUT OF OUR FACES, YOU FUCKING SHITWARE MONSTERS!!!!! WHAT I AM WRITING IS NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.

Did you get that?

Fucking beanbags. Why do they imagine we want this?

 

(Okay, I’ll try and find more photos requiring satirical captions…. patience!)

Fleabag: A metatextual moment to savor

Just when you thought the TV comedy series, Fleabag 2 was proving a little… well, disappointingly unoriginal compared with the much-acclaimed first series, an extraordinary moment pops up and hits you right between the eyes.

It’s a dramatic convention that you break the ‘fourth wall’ – the invisible barrier between the actors and the audience – only for humorous effect. The actor becomes, for a moment at least, the knowing confidant of the viewer: at all other times you maintain the fiction of dramatic distance. The risk of bridging it being that you momentarily betray the unspoken compact between the author and the viewer to suspend disbelief in the narrative.

The character of Fleabag, the mixed-up, sex-obsessed heroine played (and written) by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, frequently turns to camera at telling moments with a knowing look or an aside, establishing complicity with the viewer. It’s the trademark style of the production.

In episode one of the story, Fleabag falls hopelessly for a hot Catholic priest, played by “Moriarty” Andrew Scott. “Will they, won’t they?” appears to be the subplot.After a difficult encounter with Claire, her brittle and repressed, more successful older sister, and having had her advance charmingly rebuffed by an older lesbian woman (Kristen Scott-Thomas, admitting to 58), in episode three, she goes round to find consolation with him.

They’re sitting on a bench in his garden, drinking gin and tonic out of cans, where he confesses that he frequently has religious doubts, but explains that’s the whole point of religion. She brings up the inevitable question about priestly celibacy and he tells her firmly, they’re not going to have sex, he’s been there too many times before and it doesn’t make people happy.

“But I’d really like to be your friend”, he says…. And Fleabag turns to the camera, gives us one of her wide-eyed, knowing looks, and mutters to us cynically: “It’ll last a week”.

The Priest looks at her, startled, and asks, not “What did you say”, but: “Where did you go just then? You went somewhere else!” And she turns into the camera again, with an ambiguous expression, and he repeats, “Yes, there!”

A fictional character in a play has – for the first time that I know of – intuited within the drama that he suddenly suspects there might be a higher, unexpected reality beyond the “wall”, and that another fictional character he is playing against is directly connecting with it, while he isn’t…..

Yet he’s the Catholic priest!

Just that tiny moment of “clang!”, of astonishing originality and brilliance, brings the whole series to life. A stunning piece of writing; extraordinarily fearless metatextual bravado. And brilliantly acted, too.

 

GW: Happy days – the calm before (and after) the storm

Your Granny recently commented that things seem to have gone curiously quiet on the world weather front lately, with few absolute disasters to report. (At the time it didn’t appear that the Mozambique cyclone was likely to be one of the deadliest since Haiyan.) As recorded on the BogPo’s statistics graph, some kind Reader, Spammer etc. seems to have looked up a fetchingly attractive old Post of your Uncle Bogler’s; and, forgetting what the contents were about, I opened it up, to find I’d composed an alarming summary of weather events around the world at that time, that I here reproduce by way of comparison; lest we forget, sort of thing.

So, deep breath, in roughly the week leading up to and shortly after 25 July, 2017, the following happened:

  • 8: Number of tropical cyclones reported active in the Pacific region currently, a 40-year record.
  • Myanmar (Burma): widespread floods, storm surge drowns town: watch from 14’30” as a gilded buddhist temple is washed into the sea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smxPAG_yCzU&t=250s. Lack of drinking water affecting villagers.
  • China: Yulin province, widespread flooding in Yulin city washes away buildings, cars; smashes up streets. Four die in Sichuan and Guangxi flash-floods. Buildings collapsing. 20 thousand evacuated.
  • China: Shanghai, highest temperature ever recorded in the city @ 40.9°C (105.6°F), 21 July.
  • South Korea: heat advisories for 95 deg. -plus in south, more forecast; widespread flooding follows torrential rain further north, around Seoul.
  • Assam, India: 5 million still displaced by flooding; death toll reaches 73. Kaziranga National Park underwater, many animals drowned.
  • Gujarat, India: widespread flooding. 113 dead. Millions affected. Many dams overtopped, towns inundated, national highways closed. Shortages of food and drinking water. More rain forecast.
  • Thailand: “Flooding has affected several provinces, damaging 10,000 homes, and crops. Disaster management authorities have issued warnings for further heavy rain for the next 4 days.”
  • Japan: “Authorities in Akita Prefecture, north western Japan, issued evacuation orders on Sunday 23 July due to flooding after a period of heavy rain. Some areas recorded more than 300 mm in 24 hours. Severe damage was recorded in 17 cities.”
  • New Zealand, South Island: widespread flooding. Dunedin cut off by road; states of emergency declared in Christchurch, Canterbury, Otago.
  • USA: record-river-level flooding in Algonquin, Galina, Pearl City Illinois. Powerful storms, more rain forecast. Widespread flooding in New Orleans as tropical storm ‘stalls’ over the city. State of emergency in Wisconsin, power outages, roads broken up in DC. Flash floods, local states of emergency in Kentucky, Missouri. Storm cells moving east have caused extensive flood and wind damage in the midwest. Major flooding in Birmingham Alabama.
  • USA: “Excessive heat warnings were in place on Friday (21st) for Omaha, Kansas City, Des Moines, St. Louis, and neighboring areas, where heat indices will range between 105°F and 115°F. The Philadelphia area was also in an excessive heat warning for heat indices that could reach 103°F.”
  • USA: Wildfires continue to burn in California, Nevada, Utah, but the huge Detwiler fire near Yosemite National Park, Wyoming, is said to be ‘coming under control’ after a week. 75 thousand acres burned. Heatwave abating slowly but still in the 90s – 105F again in Phoenix today, 95F across Florida, Texas.
  • Mexico: Guadalajara city inundated after flash flooding, torrential rain.
  • Nigeria: localised flooding in the capital, Lagos and outlying villages, continuing rain.
  • Ghana: two die in flash flooding in Tamale province.
  • S. France: Firefighters battling 1,400 acres of forest burning in the hills inland from St Tropez. 10 thousand tourists evacuated after spending the night on beaches and in gym halls.
  • Corsica: Fire. 4000 acres burned, homes and villages threatened. High winds (‘Mistrale’) a factor.
  • Portugal: more big wildfires breaking out in central provinces inland from Coimbra. Dry heat and high winds.
  • New heatwave forecast next week for W and S Europe.
  • Freak hailstorms trap cars in northern Italy, a foot of hail piles up in Croatia.
  • Germany: flash flood forces evacuations in northern town of Goslar. Flash flooding in the Harz mountains region. Flash flooding in Romania.
  • President of low-lying Palau, in the Pacific, Tommy Remengesau has complained that his garden is now normally underwater due to sea-level rise of 1 ft since 1989.
  • UK: weather service warns, rains to become heavier, more persistent.

Beat that! (I notice, btw, no mention of Australia. I imagine nothing much was going on down there as it was the middle of winter.)

Now, back to now:

Mozambique: “The devastating cyclone that hit south-eastern Africa may be the worst ever disaster to strike the southern hemisphere, according to the UN.” (Guardian)

“Cyclone Idai, which is carrying heavy rains and winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph), made landfall at the port city of Beira on Thursday evening. Its 500,000 residents are without electricity and communications have been severed, the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) says. The cyclone has now moved west towards Zimbabwe. It follows a week of storms and heavy rains in Mozambique and Malawi that have killed more than 100 people and destroyed thousands of homes.” (BBC Weather)

Update 20 March: “Cyclone Idai has swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe over the past few days, destroying almost everything in its path, causing devastating floods, killing and injuring thousands of people and ruining crops. More than 2.6 million people could be affected across the three countries, and the port city of Beira, which was hit on Friday and is home to 500,000 people, is now an “island in the ocean”, almost completely cut off.” (BBC) Hospitals are not functioning and the transport infrastructure is destroyed, cutting off the port of Beira, through which most of the country’s imports are routed. Thousands of people living in outlying villages are stranded on roofs and in trees as local dams have burst and swollen rivers added to the flood damage.

Update, 18 March: “At least 84 people have died in Mozambique, mostly around Beira, the country’s fourth largest city with a population of about 500,000, the authorities there say.” There are reports of total devastation and the death toll is expected to rise rapidly, possibly to more than 1 thousand. The nearby township of Chimanimani was completely submerged to a depth of 6 metres (20 ft) by tidal flooding. More than 1,500 people have been injured, and there are reports of growing food shortages, with the country’s annual maize crop destroyed.

Cyclone Idai made landfall on Thursday with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph), and aid teams only reached Beira on Sunday. Sustained 105 mph wind destroyed homes and ripped roofs from concrete buildings. The death toll in neighboring Malawi has reached 122, and 80 more in Zimbabwe. (BBC News) In recent years, Mozambique has been affected by a severe drought punctuated by massive storms. (BBC report, 2018) Without helicopters or roads the region is fairly inaccessible: Red Cross teams are trying to get in by boat. The so-far limited aid program has been granted $20 million budget but the eventual cost is expected to be much more. (Wunderground)

USA: Catastrophic “flooding in parts of the Midwest has left one man dead, threatens a Nebraska dam and a nuclear power plant as heavy rains mixed with a melting snowpack swell waterways to historic levels.” A farmer died while trying to rescue a trapped motorist. The Ericson dam in north central Nebraska is at risk of failing as the Cedar River continues to rise, according to a report by the National Weather Service.

Also in Nebraska, a utility company was placing sandbags around the threatened Cooper nuclear power plant Thursday as the Missouri River continued to rise. Forecast flood level will require the plant to shutdown at the weekend. (The Weather Channel) Other states suffered damaging tornadoes as Winter Storm Ulmer achieved “bomb cyclone” status, with record low pressure and windspeeds pushing 100 mph.

Indonesia: “At least 50 people have been killed by flash floods in Indonesia’s eastern Papua province. The floods in Sentani, near the provincial capital of Jayapura, were triggered by torrential rain and subsequent landslides on Saturday, and also left 59 people injured.” (Observer)

Australia: “Extremely dangerous” 85 mph Category 3 cyclone Trevor is slowly (4mph) crossing the north of Queensland across the Gulf of Carpentaria and has already brought over 800 mm of rain to the region. Small towns in its path are on evacuation alert. Cooktown, above 200 miles north of Cairns, is forecast to receive up to (17 inches) of rain over the next three days. (Express) Trevor intensified a remarkable 65 mph in just 24 hours and may reach Cat 4 strength as it passes over the Gulf, before making landfall again in a sparsely populated area. (Wunderground)

  • Far northwestern Australia is threatened by intensifying Cat 2 Cyclone Veronica forming off the coast and possibly due to make landfall near Port Headland and Pilbara Monday. It’s feared it could reach Cat 5 before then. (ABC News)

UK: Getting on for the entire month of March’s worth of rain fell on Manchester today, 16th – 500 mm – and the River Irwell has burst its banks in several places. More than 50 flood warnings are out over Yorkshire and the northeast. (Manchester Evening News/BBC). Elsewhere in Europe, an “excessive snowfall” event was expected in the Swiss and Austrian alps over the weekend, with up to a meter forecast. (Severe-weather.eu)

World: The terrible winter storms that have pounded the American midwest all year, bringing record cold, flooding, high winds and snowfall to many states, have failed to prevent February being the fifth warmest globally ever recorded. (Weather Underground)

 

The Fortunate Isles!

“The veteran weatherman Bill Giles is calling on the BBC and other major broadcasters to radically overhaul their forecasts to incorporate information about climate change. The former head of BBC weather presenters has said more needs to be done by broadcasters to highlight climate change to face the “reality more squarely and openly”. (Guardian)

About bloody time!

The BogPo has been moaning for years that the cheery weather guys and gals on the Beeb invariably ignore what is visibly going on over their left shoulder out in the Atlantic, tightly-packed isobars showing processions of vicious low-pressure systems heading straight up north into the Arctic, where ocean surface temperatures are 18C above the 1980-2010 average and the Greenland ice shelf is disappearing, while reassuring us about the typical benign British weather, three days of rain to one of sunshine and a puff of wind, that we’re still fortunately getting while California burns and Mozambique drowns.

Every BBC report of an extreme weather event has a slow-moving man with a red flag parading in front of it, so as not to frighten the horses. “Of course”, the presenter or the guest will say with a straight face, “We can’t say there’s a crisis because of just one event.” No, but when one extreme event piles on another and another – 98% of extreme world weather events never even make it into the news on our Brexit-obsessed little island – year after year becoming more extreme, it takes a bit of searching out to find the information you need not to be lured by these terrified boobies into a state of complacent and wilful disbelief.

Weather forecasting – keep saying to yourself, weather is not climate – is a parochial activity and people just want to know what’s going on outside their own window. Even now, few Americans, I suspect, currently alternately freezing, sweating, drowning, being burned to death, whirled up into the sky or panting for air, would echo the despair of the bankrupt dirt-farmers of the third world, the yak herders of Mongolia or the slowly submerging peoples of the Pacific islands, who tell every passing journalist their climate has changed, long-term and for the worse.

After all, the President doesn’t believe it, why should they?

And we’re easily distracted too, by plastic bags. Plastic bags may kill a few whales and turtles, but they’re not responsible for rapidly heating the planet. Environmental management issues are important; species co-collapse owing to habitat destruction and loss of fertility eventually threatens everything and everyone.

Climate change is a factor in that too. But professional climate change deniers find it all too easy to muddy the waters with other concerns that aren’t relevant to the central issue: the ruthless extraction, sale and combustion of ancient sunlight to generate energy and vast profits for a few shareholders, and what we’re going to do to stop it.

Punctuating happy-clappy weather forecasts with the occasional mention that Britain seems to be 0.1% hotter than a hundred years ago won’t do much to help, sadly; anymore than the big push we all had back in the ’90s, when the office manager announced brightly that we were going to buy only recycled paper from now on, and the photocopier promptly seized up.

Change has to be intrinsic to economic policy on every level and at every turn. No longer must “shareholder value” be used as the excuse to maximise GDP at any cost.

I’m afraid that means the end of consumer capitalism. Humanity’s capital now rests with those who are developing economic solutions to prevent impending socio-economic collapse. Although, as the 69-year-old Bill Giles probably already knows, it’s a forlorn hope.

Insanity corner

Announcing the go-ahead for the UK’s first new privately owned deep coalmine in more than a century, Cumbria County Council acknowledged it might be a controversial decision.

“We felt that the need for coking coal, the number of jobs on offer and the chance to remove contamination outweighed concerns about climate change and local amenity.”

These stupid, ignorant, very probably corrupt shitheads have the brains of donkeys.

NOTHING OUTWEIGHS CLIMATE CHANGE, YOU FUCKING CUMBRIA MORONS, BECAUSE IT IS AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO LIFE ON EARTH!!!

Jesus, you backward fucktards. Wake up!

Oh, Jeremy Corbyn… Major surprise: they’re lying to you – again… Boarding fail… GW: Not given to extremes, much… A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?… this week’s BogPo starts here.

Quote of the week

“Men … no more dreamt of a seat in the House in order to benefit humanity than a child dreams of a birthday cake that others may eat it … the seat in the House was not their ultimate goal but a means to ulterior aims.” – Sir Lewis Namier (1888 -1960)

 

“The historical outcome of such social stratification has only ever been war.”

Oh, Jeremy Corbyn

A special report produced by The Guardian today has described in graphic detail, the beyond-shocking state of primary and secondary-school education in Britain. Among their not-unexpected findings:

Hundreds of school governors go to Westminster to protest at funding cuts. They are ignored. A thousand head teachers write to the Schools minister, Nick Gibb, to say they are at their wits’ end and cannot cut costs any further without damage and danger to the children and their education. He refuses three times to meet their representatives.

Seven thousand headteachers now have written to millions of parents, asking them to lobby the Education department to get something done about the situation facing their children; who is to blame.

They are trying to tell Gibb: teachers are giving up. Those who leave are not being replaced. Buildings are falling apart. Schools have had to lay off cleaners, maintenance and ancillary staff; one headmistress was found to be doing the cleaning herself, in her “spare time”; other schools are shabby and unprepossessing, with consequent psychological effects on staff and pupils .

Weekly school hours are being shortened to save on electricity bills. Teachers are having to pay for books, pens, paper and other essentials themselves; even buying sanitary towels and tampons, food and uniforms for poorer pupils. Children are turning up to class who are so malnourished and exhausted from lack of proper sleep that they have to be fed before they can start work. Some schools are running food banks for the local community.

Science subjects are being dropped from the curriculum because the faculties can’t afford chemicals and equipment. Teaching assistants are disappearing as a species. Ten-year-old computers are not being replaced – extra time has to be added to classes to allow them to boot-up. Photocopying is rationed. Parents are being continually badgered for money for everything – even to pay teachers.

Buildings are going unheated deeper into winter, teachers and pupils having to wear coats indoors to stay warm. Special-needs remedial classes and support services are being cut for lack of staff; remaining special support staff are “run ragged” with numbers falling so low it is posing a medical risk to the children in their care.

Disruptive pupils are being excluded in record numbers, not surprisingly given the derisory conditions they’re protesting against; the lack of specialist support, and simply dumped in the streets, where violent crime and gangsterism are reaching alarming proportions.

And the government’s totally predictable response?

“A Department for Education spokesperson said that school funding in England is at its highest-ever level.”

The Conservative party richly deserves to be cast into outer darkness for two generations (it will take at least one generation to even begin to repair the damage they’ve caused), until it learns the hard way that no society can function on a diet of endless, doctrinaire economic austerity, complacency and lies. Especially while there is a class of people it supports who feel no effects whatever, insulated as they are from the realities of life for millions in a country whose social fabric is being torn apart.

Propping up banks and bankers may ensure the impression of stability, but only while the body rots from beneath. The fake money the Bank of England prints is not being evenly distributed. British companies since the financial crash eleven years ago have built up a cash pile close to a trillion pounds – money that is not going back into the economy, not being reinvested. Taxes are sheltered offshore.

I have a friend who works by the grace of an outsourcing agency. The agency takes 40% of what employers are prepared to pay for her services. She was recently told by her supervisor, if you take one day off sick you will be considered an unreliable worker and you won’t get any more work from us. Not being a British national, she is terrified to make a complaint. Her father is terminally ill but she doesn’t dare go home to visit him.

We have near-full employment, but on low wages and for many with no job security, no guaranteed hours and reduced access to holiday and sick pay: the result of companies finding it cheaper and more profitable to hire cheap human labor than to invest in modernizing systems for the 21st century. As a result productivity is lagging behind other countries. And there are many who have fallen between the cracks: not working, but not seeking work, they no longer show up in the statistics.

Despite the undelivered and undeliverable promises of our vapid and mendacious Prime Minister, the Brexit many Conservatives want will exacerbate the situation, to bring about a neoliberal, laissez-faire, corporatist economy with a neoconservative political and foreign policy agenda: a two-speed economy with a majority of left-behinds staring numbly at boarded-up high streets, facing lengthy waits for inadequate medical attention, tolerating an increasingly abusive and dysfunctional welfare network as, like the public education system, the health and social services, the whole public infrastructure crumbles under the implacable glare of the security cameras and the intrusive technology of the surveillance state.

The historical outcome of such social stratification, with a large section of the population considered surplus, has only ever been war.

As the American Marxist economist, Prof. Richard Wolff has pointed out, not without a certain logic, an economy that refuses to pay its employees enough to buy its goods cannot rely on consumers to go on propping up the economy forever. Sooner or later it must collapse.

And yet. Despite the astonishing ineptitude of their ministers,  the despicable Conservatives remain ahead in the polls, benefitting from the catastrophic failure of leadership of the Labour opposition under Jeremy Corbyn.

There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to continue supporting this frankly hopeless individual. I’m sure we all tried, at first, but. Having the right policy platform is no bloody use if you can’t get elected to a position where you can implement it.

With the shining exception of three-term Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Labour party since Jim Callaghan in the 1970s has had an unprepossessing record of electing unelectable leaders: sad old white guys or glottally-stopped wierdos who fail utterly to inspire confidence in a British electorate sold nowadays on image rather than substance. Corbyn may be a decent enough man of principle, but he is the wrong man for the job: uninspiring, indecisive, lackadaisical, too old – he is the same age as your Uncle Bogler, who would not now want to be the leader of the Labour party or any other quarrelsome, failing organization.

And, like your Uncle B., he seemingly has no leadership aptitude whatsoever. Since his inadvertent elevation from the backbench, where he seemed happiest as a lone maverick plying his right-on, kneejerk, anti-establishment student-radical politics*, and the firebrand speeches he managed to muster at the time, that energised a younger generation of voters who are melting away now, nothing to see, he seems to have nodded off at the wheel.

In the power of the Unite union leader Len McCluskey, that dreary “eminence grise” from a bygone era of flat caps and smoke-filled rooms above grim Midlands pubs, pulling his strings, Corbyn’s inability to deliver adroit responses to the obvious political subterfuges designed to undermine him; or to grasp the significance of the public controversies that threaten to destroy him, reveal a man out of his depth in a world of microtargeted advertising, of data mining, “dark money” and extra-political disruption.

The old two-and-a-half-party era of theatrical Punch & Judy politics he knows is finished, consigned to the past by huge personalized global communications monopolies and Putinist gangster capitalism.

I don’t think he’s noticed.

Thus, in the eyes of the British voter, after a lifetime of truculent opposition to his own party leadership, a Bolshy in the finest Leveller tradition, who seemingly delights in offering hostages to fortune, buoyed up only by a fanatical militant minority of £3 entryists and seemingly unaware of looming external, existential threats to the world he knows, he remains unelectable.

We urgently need a change.

*This is not a diatribe against the left, by the way; merely we argue that more creative adaptation and positive energy are required to deal with a rapidly evolving world Keir Hardie wouldn’t recognize.

An editor speaks: I seem to have found a good means of persuading more people to read this, muh li’l bogl. It used to be, when I was editing military histories, that the name Adolf Hitler in a title would automatically increase sales by 15%. Now Jeremy Corbyn seems to have the same effect.

Welcome one and all!

 

Major surprise: they’re lying to you – again

And they can’t even be bothered – or aren’t clever enough – to make up new lies.

“A five-year old newspaper headline – claiming (entirely falsely) that all European Union countries would have to adopt the euro after 2020 – was widely shared on Twitter over the weekend. One of those who retweeted the post was the former Work and Pensions Secretary and pro-Brexit Conservative MP Esther McVey.

“In a now-deleted tweet to her 26,000 followers, Ms McVey asked whether the public was aware of this as well as ‘other things’ the EU has ‘planned’ after 2020.” – BBC News

It has obviously been pointed out to this incredibly stupid woman with only 26,000 followers that newspaper reports she appears not to have seen last week concerned a large sum of money, about £400 thousand, donated by anonymous sources, that has been expended in the past few weeks on spreading fake news, lies and disinformation.

This is being done on behalf of a campaign by nameless individuals to obtain public support for the dubious benefits of the extreme No-deal Brexit advocated by the well-heeled, late-middle-aged white men involved in Jacobin-Irish-Mogg’s European Research Group – a cabal of traitorous CUNTS (Conservative and Unionist Neo-Thatcherites) interested in making more money from deregulation by seizing power in the wake of Mrs May’s impending demise.

Even a made-for-TV sofa-babe* like McVey would probably prefer to disassociate herself from that sort of thing. Not that she has done before. The entire Vote Leave campaign is mired in similar reports of skulduggery and foreign disruption. May’s underwhelming government hasn’t got the guts to act on the information, the Electoral Commission is a complete joke, while a lacklustre and underresourced National Crime Agency “investigation” into the referendum-rigging is being dragged out at a chelonian pace.

We are being taken to the cleaners by hugely well-funded US corporate interests and rogue billionaire disruptors, together with their useful idiots in the Cabinet, and we have 18 days left before that cliff edge is reached. When will our politicians wake up and get serious?

*Before entering politics, McVey was a businesswoman and television presenter, and co-presented GMTV with Eamonn Holmes. (Wikipedia)

 

Boarding fail

The death toll in seemingly avoidable plane crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft rose to almost 350 at the weekend when a four-month-old ‘plane flown by a highly experienced Air Ethiopia pilot nosedived into a field, 37 miles from Addis Ababa, six minutes after takeoff. On its way to an environmental conference in Nairobi, 157 passengers from 30 countries and 8 crew were killed.

The scuttlebut is that this was an identical crash to that of a Lion Air 737 Max 8 in Indonesia last October. It’s reported that a piece of software over-sensitively detecting a drop in airspeed automatically puts the plane into a dive to prevent a stall. Great at 33,000 feet, but not so good from low altitude.

And, according to the reports, Boeing is said to have failed to warn global airlines after the cause of the first crash became known to patch the software or to train their pilots to deal with it. In which case, if they knew of the problem after the first incident, they should surely be facing charges of corporate manslaughter as regards the second.

Instead, The Guardian quotes a Reuters report (11 March): “The US Federal Aviation Administration was expected to issue a Continued Airworthiness Notification to international carriers later Monday regarding the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in light of two fatal crashes since October.”

This is far from the first time the US administration has acted to protect its favorite defense contractor. The Australians and the Chinese have grounded their entire fleet. Pilots in Argentina are refusing to fly. We’ll have to see what Ryanair does – many UK passengers too are becoming distinctly nervous.

(PS Mr Trump wisely cottoned on to world opinion and after a chat with his friends at Boeing, the planes have been grounded in the US too.)

 

Nominative determinism corner

The head of a Brighton-based marketing agency, Surge, that trousered (‘surge trousers’? LOL 🙂Ed.) £60 million in commission for running a basically dishonest online advertising campaign for an unlicensed investment management client that’s now collapsed, conning many people out of their life savings, is a Mr Paul Careless.

The biter bit

Chickens on a free-range farm in Brittany have reportedly ganged up together and killed a fox that got trapped in their henhouse overnight. (Guardian France)

 

GW: Not given to extremes, much

UK: If proof were needed that the UK is the best and safest place for funky billionaires to escape the worst effects of climate chaos, it was surely yesterday.

It’s a little over a year since 5 feet of hail fell on Cordoba in Argentina in 15 minutes, and about 9 months since somewhere I can’t remember in Australia was pelted with hail the size of cricket balls and hundreds of kangaroos on a farm were battered to death. Nor would I recommend settling in California, where the choice is to burn to death or be drowned.

There are far worse places to be than good old Blighty, with our soft westerly breezes and life-giving rain. Here, conditions remain relatively benign, even the following account making news. The Guardian‘s weather person writes:

“In Greater Manchester on Sunday night, a series of hailstorms carpeted roads with ice balls “the size of mint imperials”.

(For the benefit of Mr Kite, a mint imperial is a popular tooth-breaking, tooth-rotting sugary confection resembling a hailstone about 1cm in diameter.)

“Across the north-west of England, people marvelled at the erratic weather as it lurched from one extreme to another. The rainiest place in the region was also the sunniest: 14.2mm of rain fell in Rostherne in Cheshire over 24 hours, but the town also had 3.2 hours of sunshine.”

Here in Boglington too, we marvelled as a lovely sunny day turned within, literally, seconds into a raging tempest, and within minutes had turned back again. My colleagues and I then had an earnest discussion as to whether March proverbially comes in, or goes out, like a lion; transitioning meanwhile as a lamb? (We had to explain the saying to our Polish friend, whom I am looking forward to saving from Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s goons via the underground railway I’m setting up to rescue EU migrants from post-Brexit detention camps.)

As any foreigner kno’, the British don’t go in for extremes, much. If any billionaire would like to acquire a weather-safe bolthole, my li’l house is for sale, still. Just don’t expect parking.

World: Has anyone else noticed, things appear to have calmed down a little on the crazy weather front? With the exception of mint imperials falling from the sky over Manchester, an odd heatwave in February and an endless succession of intense rain-bearing fronts parading across the US midwest, floods in California and heavy snowfall in the northern states, record summer heat, fires and floods affecting much of Australia, floods in the Middle East and medicanes in the Med, there have been few major cyclones reaching vulnerable land-based communities in the past few months, unlike 2016 to 2018; none of those really intense thunderstorms washing away cars by the hundred, and no more aircraft forced to make emergency landings as their nosecones have been smashed by hail.

One reason could simply be the unexplained disappearance of the website, Climate and Extreme Weather News, which your old Gran used to mercilessly pillage for examples. A belated post has appeared, explaining that the author is currently too busy working to spend the time it must obviously take to collate up to 50 minutes of citizen journalism and local news reports from around the world every week, to verify and cross-reference the reports and write up explanatory captions. All we can say is, thanks – and

Please come back soon!

 

A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?

“A catastrophe of unimaginable proportions is unfolding” writes “Sam Carana”, the pseudonymous collective of climate scientists behind the Arctic News website (28 Feb. edition). No, not Brexit. “Life is disappearing from Earth and all life could be gone within one decade. Study after study is showing the size of the threat, yet many people seem out to hide what we’re facing.”

With the loss of so much Arctic sea ice year on year, the darker water absorbs more sunlight – just one of the many feedbacks that: “kick in at accelerating speed, including further changes to the Jetstream resulting in even more extreme weather; seafloor methane release, water vapor feedback and emissions from land such as CH₄ (methane), N₂O (nitrous oxide) and NOₓ (nitrogen oxide), due to permafrost melt, storms and forest fires. Temperatures also threaten to rise strongly over the next few years as sulfate cooling falls away while more black carbon and brown carbon gets emitted as more wood gets burned and more forest fires occur.”

As if an extinction-level 10C of warming by 2026 were not enough, “a recent study points at … the disappearance of marine stratus clouds, which could result in a (further) global temperature rise of 8°C (14.4°F)”.

It seems our economic problems may only be starting to get very much worse.

The deaths of small towns… 9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by… Postscriptum: the outcome…Something’s got to give… The Hallelujah Chorus… GW: Maybe the weather isn’t over, after all…It’s all blowing off… Trust us to lead you.

Thought for the Day

“Were I, or anyone, able to somehow get hold of a cosmic vacuum-pump and suck out all the uneventful, blank bits of our lives, like evacuating all the air from a Bell jar; and heat the rest up over a Bunsen burner, how much of a brown powdery residue of achievements and adventures and excitements would be left in the bottom of the tube?” – Uncle Bogler, in a previous Post.

 

“For God’s sake, Boris, come down and stop showing off, the bus has gone!”

The deaths of small towns

(A message to Brexit boobies)

“(Crispin) Odey, one of the most outspoken of the Brexit-backing hedge fund managers, holds a short position in Intu – the owner of shopping malls – that represented £33m worth of shares in the company at the end of last week.

“He also holds a position against struggling department store Debenhams that is worth £5.3m. The firm also appears to be betting that Britons’ appetite for cars will fall … The firm has short positions against Lookers, a large dealership chain, and Auto Trader, the online used-car directory.

“In total, his hedge fund, with headquarters in Mayfair, has taken out £436m worth of declared short positions against British companies, of which nearly £150m are consumer-facing entities.”

Why is the billionaire Mr Odey doing this? Because of the lovely lucrative uncertainty you have brought about by your incurious nonsense. It’s exactly what these money-breathers – and Vladimir Putin – have been hoping for. Hedge funds stand to make billions out of uncertainty in markets.

But before you voted you’d never heard of hedge funds, right? No idea what they do? What ‘shorting’ means? Well, think of an each-way bet on the gee-gees. You hope you’ll win more than you’ll lose, or at least get back some of your stake, if your horse doesn’t come in first. (Generally, the bookies win.)

But just the act of betting enough money against those companies’ shares going up will help to drag them down. That’s when the hedgers cash-in. Hedge fund managers are punters; but they’re also the bookies: the odds are 101% stacked in their favor. That’s why they’re billionaires and you’re not.

That’s why they invested £millions in supporting the Leave campaigns; the lies you fell for. Because disrupting the relationships between trading partners is the ideal way to create uncertainty in the markets.

Wait, there’s more….

“At the same time, Marshall Wace, one of the UK’s largest hedge funds with $35bn (£27bn) in assets under management, holds declarable short positions equivalent to just under £1.4bn – more than any other investor in Britain.” (Guardian Business)

You get the idea? They’re betting huge sums of money that more of our high street stores and other British businesses listed on the Stock Exchange will go under as a result of Brexit chaos.  Money you will never see back. Stores you will never see back. Jobs you will never see back. Boarded-up shops – the deaths of small towns.

You think they care?

Meanwhile, clever old George Soros, the everso liberal-minded philanthropist frequently accused of plotting with his Jew friends the Rothschilds to control the world, who in 1992 nearly pulled down the entire British economy on “Black Wednesday” by betting against the pound, is holding a £10 million side-bet that WH Smith, the venerable High Street stationers’ shares will fall.

What do you tragic clowns who voted to leave the relative safety of the European Union because you were miserable and wanted to “send a message” think was the prime mover behind the Leave campaigns: your sovereignty? Your shabby, disempowered, drug-ridden, hopelorn former industrial communities? Ha ha ha. Fooled you.

Well that’s just gone by the board as Theresa May has abrogated the power of Parliament to even vote on the leaving agreement she herself has negotiated, so afraid is she of losing the vote. What now?

More lovely uncertainty. And as stock markets plunge, thanks to the uncertainty created by the greatest disruptor of them all, Santa Trump, hedge funds will be raking it in this Christmas.

So much for your ludicrous, Union flag-waving ‘sovereignty’, you’ve voted to live in a dictatorship. How many times in history has a promised Parliamentary vote been cancelled because a hopelessly divided Government has no confidence in its ability to win it? …er, possibly at the start of the Civil War? This is a major constitutional crisis you’ve unleashed, in your ignorance.

You poor fucking turkeys have voted to cancel Christmas, for the foreseeable future. But nobody was listening. Chip-chop….

Well, not you personally, BogPo readers, safe here in our cozy filter-bubble, or whatever the current expression is, as outside the anarchic working-class dons its yellow vests and prepares to fight for the hedge fund managers.

I’m preaching to the converted. This message is for those who aren’t reading it:

You’ve been had, and you’re fighting the wrong enemy.

“Any minute now I’m going to take off this latex mask to reveal… Underwoman!”

9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by

I realized with a start about half an hour ago that today is Tuesday.

Who knew?

Instead of trolling idiots on The Guardian website, in my usual day-long haze of viciously barbed self-righteous indignation punctuated with coffee and mince pies and duty-walks with Hunzi, I should have been a) at an early practice and b) going on to sing carols with my old choir at the old folks’ drop-in center in town.

I’d have missed the early practice anyway as I didn’t get up until gone 10.00, having already forgotten about it, despite receiving a reminder the evening before.

The days go by here, I no longer know what they’re called; they’re all the same.

I had agreed to do those things to help out, and once again failed. I hate myself, I am always doing it, it shows my isolation and that I probably just don’t care enough.

This is a choir I sang with for many years, but which had drifted in a direction of which I disapproved, away from robust World Music to hippy-dippy shit: moons and stars, feminism and futile appeals for peace; Zulu campfire songs, as I call those three-line chants with crunchy harmonies and untranslatable lyrics (repeat until you hyperventilate) that “Natural Voice Practitioners” learn in wimmen-only summer camps then fan-out far and wide to spread the gospel to community choirs made up of doughty veterans of Greenham Common and CND; and never the same stuff two weeks in a row.

It also had begun to irk me considerably, that a “training choir” originally for people who thought they couldn’t sing had so many long-time members who after years still had no confidence, who still had no idea about harmony, who still had no knowledge of basic musical notation and who still held the other sections up endlessly while they giggled and nattered and faffed about, pretending it was all too difficult, oh dear.

Why was I always the only one who would volunteer to take a solo?

Now I have a hospital appointment for next Tuesday, apparently, to have this desperately uncomfortable and inconvenient catheter removed, connecting my bladder directly via my elderly feller to a bag strapped to my leg, that sometimes brings on contractions, and leaks so that I have to wear a nappy.

Over time, my house has begun to smell of a curiously medicalized smell of fresh pee. “Trial Without Catheter”, they’re calling it. TWOC actually has its own printed leaflet. Although I have come to appreciate that not having to dash to the nearest loo or find a handy tree, wetting myself on the way, has been a bit of a boon, this damned tube is always pinching and snatching, sitting is hell, while putting on shoes is a trial….

The tube was inserted in an emergency back in July, but such is the nature of the National Health Service that appointments for anything inessential are often months away. My trial was not until the end of February next year, but this morning the hospital phoned with the offer of a cancellation, so naturally I grabbed it: this damn thing is the main reason I wasn’t going to visit family over Xmas as a 6-hour drive there and back the next day was not going to be pretty.

My worry now is, it’s another Tuesday morning – 9.00 am.

And 9.00 am and Tuesdays always pass me by.

Postscriptum: the outcome

So I made it on the dot for my TWOC (Trial Without Catheter – apparently, it’s a thing). I sat for an hour and nobody came. There was only one other person also waiting; the hospital seemed curiously deserted; the staff well trained to avoid eye contact.

Eventually I approached the receptionist to ask why I was there, and an elderly male charge nurse popped out through a doorway behind Reception, most apologetic, all the operating theatres were full as they had to clear the backlog of delayed surgical cases before the holiday.

But I don’t need an operating theatre! It’s just a simple procedure, a nurse could do it! Yes, but that’s what’s been booked, so that’s what we have to do, and we haven’t got the availability. We’re ever so sorry, can you come back at the end of January?

Since then my widely distributed family whom I am not now going to see at Christmas have been bombarding me with giftwrapped parcels from up the Amazon, so maybe it’s not such a bad outcome after all.

 

Something’s got to give

Do you want the good news, or the bad?

Well, they’re the same. USGS has announced the find of a huge 20-year reserve of oil and gas under the New Mexico desert, stretching across into Texas.

The specter of mile upon mile of nodding derricks intruding on the dramatic upland desertscape is appalling; but inevitable, as the vile Trump administration trumpets America’s noble self-sufficiency and low gas prices forever, while going all-out to drain its resources to the profitable lees as quickly as possible – before the planet burns down.

The only hope is, this is another load of oil-industry bullshit and it’s not as exploitable as they’re pretending. It was probably known about for years already but had been consigned to the 10% of “maybe someday” reserves. The argument for leaving this stuff in the ground is overwhelming; but not as overwhelming as the shareholder greed that will see it exploited by hook or, more realistically, by crook.

Yesterday there was a halfhearted intervention at the UN climate conference in Katowice as the US delegation got up on its hind trotters and began once again preaching the benefits of Trump’s fatuous “clean coal” fantasy. The Polish police have been notably successful in muting protest. It’s estimated, subsidies to the fossil fuel industries will soon run into the trillions of dollars in the effort to keep Exxon-Mobil, Koch industries and all the other ecocidal polluters afloat.

You can try and put a yellow vest on energy taxes, but you’re still paying in a roundabout way through your income tax and – the most regressive of all – VAT. M. Macron has announced a $114 a month raise in minimum wage to assuage the anger of the French “gilets jaunes”, the voices of the disempowered and the disappointed “squeezed middle” of provincial France, but that’s only going to increase the proportion of the tax take that gets passed on to the energy sector; meanwhile, lower fuel prices raising demand.

Something has to give, and soon.

 

Hallelujah chorus

Women in Guatemala are only one vote in parliament away from facing from five to ten years in gaol if they cannot prove in court that their miscarriage was a natural event. Otherwise it will be assumed they have behaved irresponsibly, or have had an illicit abortion.

Same-sex marriage is about to be made illegal, as are civil marriages. Any kind of “promotion” or teaching in schools and even universities on the subjects of homosexuality or gender identity – any lifestyle “incompatible with the human being’s biological and genetic features” – is to be outlawed, and acts of discrimination against the LGBTQ “community” legalized.

The country will also withdraw from any international conventions aimed at protecting the rights of minorities identifying as non-heterosexual or having transitional genders: “We are preventing Guatemala from engaging on any convention on gender diversity, says MP, Elvis Morena, who is pressing for the changes to the constitution.

The vote is currently postponed, owing to wrangling over the budget bill.

What it will effectively do, if passed, is to seal the growing power of the Evangelical Christian churches in Guatemala, where their pernicious form of far-right “Christianity” has been gaining a death grip.

As Diana Cariboni writes on Open Democracy:

“Bill 5272, proposed to ‘protect life and the family’, “is the first bill drafted by the evangelical churches in Guatemala”, said its drafter, Elvis Molina, a lawyer and pastor with the Iglesia Cristiana Visión de Fe (Christian Church Vision of Faith).

“It was introduced in Congress last year as a popular initiative supported by 30,000 signatures, and was immediately endorsed by 22 legislators led by Aníbal Rojas, a member of the evangelical party VIVA (Vision with Values).

“The draft law was then approved by a constitutional committee in Congress and passed two reading sessions on the floor. It’s now just one plenary vote from becoming official legislation.”

Welcome to Evangelical Disneyland.

And consider this: hugely wealthy Evangelical churches and their billionaire fellow-travellers in the US and Russia are bidding to gain the same kind of power over legislatures around the world – in the USA, where poor agnostic Mr Trump is obliged by his Evangelical Vice-President Mike Pence to endure a hand-waving, breast-beating, eye-rolling prayer service every Sunday at the White House, thanking God for extreme corrupt Republicanism – in Africa, especially, where in some countries same-sex relations carry the death penalty; in Russia, where Mr Putin is an enthusiast; and even in Britain, where the sanctimonious, sweaty-fear aroma of US and Russian Evangelism has been detected in the funding of the Brexit “Leave” conspiracy.

You have been warned, these people are vicious, arrogant and dangerous; seeking, in their most extreme manifestations, to impose their own patriarchal version of Sharia on a world reduced to mute, barbaric incomprehension and Biblical subjection to the most atavistic, superstitious belief in the non-existent Sky God and his imaginary Son.

Intolerant, authoritarian, controlling, loveless and fixated on the transfer of wealth from the very poorest to the very richest, this Millennarian death cult is not a version of Christianity recognized by many Christians.

But it’s coming our way.

Alle fuckin’ lujah.

GW: Maybe the weather isn’t over, after all

Indonesia: Heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in several provinces of Indonesia, leaving at least 9 people dead. Damaging floods were also reported in West Sumatra. It’s not been a good year. A government spokesman acknowledged that between 01 January and 10 December 2018, there had been 2,374 disaster events across the country. As many as 4,211 people are dead or missing, almost 7,000 injured and 9.95 million people displaced or affected. (Floodlist)

Vietnam: “at least” 2 dead as flooding and landslides have damaged roads and railway lines. Schools have been closed in some areas. Further heavy rain of up to 200mm in 24 hours has been forecast for central areas. (Floodlist).

Cyprus: At least 4 people died when their vehicle was swept away by flooding near the city of Kyrenia on 05 Dec. Damage was also reported in the capital Nicosia and roads and schools have been temporarily closed. The flooding was triggered by heavy rain that has fallen since 04 December. (Floodlist)

 Israel: Heavy rain from Wednesday 05 Dec. caused flooding in several areas, including Tel Aviv, Yavne and Rehovot, where dozens of children had to be rescued from their flooded preschool building. No injuries were reported. (Floodlist)

 UK: The Met Offfice is warning people to stay home and watch old movies tomorrow, Saturday 15 Dec, as unusual freezing rain is expected to make conditions treacherous for Xmas shoppers. Up to 40 cm of snow is expected in the Scottish highlands. Then on Sunday it’s all going to warm up again. (BBC)

 Canada: Flash flooding on 11 Dec. caused severe transport problems in parts of Vancouver. Emergency crews responded to at least 30 flood-related emergencies. Between 30 to 60 mm of rain fell in a few hours in parts of Vancouver. Port Mellon, 35 km NW of Vancouver, recorded 77mm of rain in 24 hours. Heavy snow is forecast for British Columbia.

 USA: Another storm over California and mudslides shut down parts of the Pacific Coast Highway, prompting evacuation orders in wildfire-scarred areas. Severe flooding was reported in the city of Costa Mesa. Downtown LA recorded its highest amount of rain in one day (06 December), 1.9 inches (48mm) beating the previous high of 1.01 inches (25.65mm) set in 1997. Heavy snow forced the closure of Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley. (Floodlist)

Preliminary research by precipitation expert Dr. Kenneth Kunkel of the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, has found that the three highest-volume rainfall events in the U.S. in the last 70 years have occurred since 2016. (Wunderground)

 Australia: Destructive “zombie cyclone” Owen with 200 K/h wind gusts is bearing down on the north of Australia with coastal residents being told to brace for the worst if the system reaches Cat 4 today. The “very destructive and severe” cyclone continues to increase in strength as it heads back towards Queensland, promising to deliver a deluge in its wake.

It comes as the southern end of Australia receives record-breaking levels of rain in Victoria and flash flooding with authorities warning “it’s not over yet”. People have had to be rescued from the roofs of their cars. 100 motorists are stranded close to the freeway at Wangaratta while the State Emergency Service has received 400 calls for help. (News.com.au

 

 It’s all blowing off

Prof. Paul Beckwith, a renegade Geographer semi-detached from Ottawa University who has devoted his life, his intricate website and Facebook page to explaining climate change issues and interpreting the latest research, has done his own investigations into warnings posted recently by other, less qualified satellite watchers, and confirms

“The unrelenting increase in global levels of atmospheric methane (this autumn – even today) went literally off-the-charts used to display methane for the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS)

“Methane levels were so high that they swamped out the colour scheme used in the map legend, causing saturation in large red blobs with little detail. The colour legend was shifted by 100 ppb to more clearly show the detailed structure of where methane was being emitted

“Methane release in the Arctic from thawing terrestrial and marine permafrost, and from methane clathrates on shallow continental shelves are a huge and ever increasing risk.

Just so you know.

Because the recent, watered-down reports from IPCC and others giving “urgent” warnings that aren’t urgent enough, are mainly concerned with warning governments about CO2 emissions from human industry and don’t emphasise the main danger, from natural methane emissions exacerbated by runaway Arctic warming.

But of increasing concern, are rising methane outputs over the Himalayas – India and China. So far, those very high readings are unexplained.

 Endispeace

Trust us to lead you

Borderline insane, avowed racist and homophobe Senator Steve King of Iowa, returned in all his seedy glory by dumbfuck redneck yippee-ki-oh voters at the midterms, was in a session questioning Google’s high-powered CEO, Sundar Pichai about various conspiracy theories to do with the internet – whatever that is.

In addition to demanding a list of Google employees broken down by religious affiliation, presumably to prove his theory that they are a Godless bunch, the good Senator brandished an iPhone and demanded to know why it was showing his 7-year-old grandaughter his picture.

Google of course has nothing to do with iPhones.

Taken with the Georgia Republican senator who last year expressed the view in a hearing on climate change that sea-level rise is caused by rocks falling into the water, you finally realize, the age of extremely dangerous dumb is upon us.

Many of these clueless, uneducated legislators don’t believe anything that isn’t in the Bible.

And that’s God’s honest truth.

Book choice: “Brexit daze” – a BogPo Longish Essay

Book choice: A BogPo Longish Essay

“Peter Shore MP, the most persistent Labour party critic of Europe, during the 1975 referendum took up this theme: ‘What the advocates of membership are saying … is that we are finished as a country; that the long and famous story of the British nation and people has ended; that we are now so weak and powerless that we must accept terms and conditions, penalties and limitations almost as though we had suffered defeat in a war.’ It was a masochistic rhetoric that would return in full force as the Brexit negotiations failed to produce the promised miracles.”

Brexit daze

I believe I can safely recommend a new book I have read only in a lengthy extract today (16 Nov.) on the Guardian website.

Heroic Failures, Brexit and the Politics of Pain, by the brilliant Irish Times journalist Fintan O’Toole, cleverly analyses the mentality behind the Brexit vote as a peculiar form of British national paranoia, arguing that many Britons see the EU perversely through a special kind of lens as a symbol of the defeat we didn’t suffer during the Second World War. A war whose filmic and literary tropes we seem entirely bound up in still.

Many masochistically wish we had lost – or, despite the bumsqueaking victory, wish we had more nearly lost, allowing us the opportunity to gloriously resist the invasion that never came – an opportunity of which treacherous British collaborators with the European Project have since deprived us by surrendering to economic forces, that are so easily confused in the din of war with force of arms.

The outcome of the war for many was insufficiently decisive, leaving a lingering resentment that has wormed its way into the national psyche. As I have occasionally mentioned, we seem to be getting bored with too much peace.

Judging by Comments on the many news threads that dribble towards the bottom of thousands of pages of more considered analysis – even the idea of consideration seems to infuriate these people – “Leavers” tend to see the EU as the ultimate triumph of the Third Reich, constantly referring to Hitler, the war, and how “we won it” to justify their obtuse facial expressions. Britain’s accession to the Treaty of Rome in 1973 was a betrayal of British values and a thousand years of history; in terms of what many refuseniks at the time called an “unconditional surrender” to German dominance in Europe; the British always seeing any move towards European unity through the wrong end of the binoculars, as some kind of dangerous conspiracy against us. And now, here we are, crushed under their heel. It’s too bad!

It doesn’t appear to have occurred to Leavers that 27 other European nations (as defined by geography), all with their own national mythologies, separate cultures and histories, all proudly declaring their own sovereignty, blood and soil, seem perfectly happy to be part of something greater than themselves. Even the Greeks and the Italians, the Irish and the Portuguese, at the mercy from time to time of ruthless German bankers and Euro-based capital flight, busily electing hyper-nationalist governments behind the barbed wire, have nevertheless declared that whatever the pain, they are better off in than out.

Yet here we are, doing okay, mostly, deliberately damaging our national interest for generations to come – if the climate allows any. Why?

Of course it’s not perfect. It’s only been going for 60 years, two generations. That’s not even a history. And every economy has its ups and downs. How easily we have forgotten that during her reign, Margaret Thatcher presided over two damaging economic recessions of the government’s own making.

This bolshy “We saved you in the war, so don’t think you can tell us what to do”, “put the kettle on, mother”, backs-to-the-wall, Dad’s Army, music-hall monologues nostalgia is, however, nothing new. During the brief pause between the two halves of the Civil War, in the mid-1640s the Levellers, a proto-socialist movement, and more specifically those who came to be known as the Diggers, campaigned vociferously against what they saw as the Norman yoke – the Normans having conquered Britain all of 600 years previously, they argued (while rebelliously, like Corbyn, planting vegetables in protest on newly privatized land), had nevertheless established a kind of supranational foreign dominance alien to the true culture and values of the Anglo-Saxon laboring man.

(Even 800 years has not been long enough to persuade a section of the Welsh that the conquest by Edward 1, having imposed an unjust colonial settlement by the English, is not still to be resisted, if only on the rugby pitch. Living here, but without a trace of correct DNA, I have several times been accused over some innocuous remark of being a colonialist, having patently refused to master the convoluted native tongue. Maybe they’ve got a point….)

Interviewed in a sidebar story also in today’s Guardian, some shopworkers in a Shrewsbury organic fruit & veg store perfectly illustrate O’Toole’s thesis. On the basis of absolutely no evidence of their irrational prejudices, and being as they are at least two, possibly three generations removed from the fighting, they nevertheless trot out all the old, familiar tabloid newspaper, comic-book tropes, such as:

“I voted out in 2016 and I’d vote out again if it came to it. I don’t know many people who would change their vote (polling shows Remainers are now in the majority and 20% of former Leavers would prefer to Remain… Ed.). We pay out too much money to the EU, we should be running our country ourselves.” And: “We’re better off leaving. There are too many foreigners around here. They are taking our jobs, getting the houses. That’s one of the main reasons I voted for Brexit.”

Time and again, such beliefs – founded apparently in perfect ignorance of the actual relationship between Britain and the EU – have been countered by a welter of facts and statistics, to no avail. European communautarianism is not taught in our schools.

If our opinion was ever sought, and valued without insult and cacophony, a Remainer such as myself might argue with those simple shopgirls as follows:

At the end of the war, that we so nearly didn’t survive, much of Europe lay in ruins. Seven million internally displaced German refugees were on the borderline of starvation, women selling their bodies for Hershey bars. Barely any women east of the Rhine under the age of 70 had escaped the Russian army’s campaign of mass rape. Millions more were in camps and in need to resettlement.

The European Union, a development of the original Coal and Steel Agreement, that in 1957 under the Treaty of Rome became the European Economic Community of six nations, was founded by eleven postwar visionaries, survivors of the Nazi occupations; among whom can be counted our own Winston Churchill. It was never a “German plot” to take over where Hitler had failed! An agreement for economic co-operation, the founders – Jean Monnet, Robert Schumann, Konrad Adenauer and others – intended that never again should the dominance of any one European nation descend into armed conflict; such as a war in which, some estimates suggest, as many as 80 million people died.

That aim of preventing the rise of any one nation over its neighbours through the checks and balances of economic and legislative union has always sat uneasily with the British, who naturally regard ourselves as the superior culture, forever maintaining the balance of power across the channel – by force, if necessary – sorting out the kids in the playground. We resent bitterly, the notion that we pay taxes to a supranational entity of garlic-munching foreigners, over whom we perceive we have too little or no control; although whose fault is that?

Under the American nuclear umbrella, that arguably threatens us with annihilation in the event of war with the Eastern powers, a two-edged sword, the Union has helped to maintain peace and stability and occasionally faltering economic prosperity in Europe for over 60 years. If Germany has become the controlling power in the EU, it is only because we have relinquished that role through the reluctance of a tendency of stubbornly nationalist politicians in Westminster to co-operate fully with the institutions of which we have been a member since 1973.

As members of the community we still run our country ourselves, within a framework of improving co-operation with our European neighbours – who still run their own countries themselves. No member country (apart from Belgium, obviously!) is in any sense “ruled” from Brussels by “unaccountable” bureaucrats, many of whom are British civil servants. Elections are held to a European parliament, but it does not “rule” the UK; it governs the affairs of the community as a whole, in conjunction with the Council of Europe. There is no real impetus towards a federal European “superstate”; even M. Macron’s idea of a pan-European defense force to back-up NATO and relieve the burden on America is viewed everywhere with alarm.

Our membership fees are calculated proportionately to our annual GDP, ensuring we can well afford them. What is causing too many Britons to go hungry is not the EU, it’s the sovereign will of the Tory government. Half the fees are returned to us in the “rebate”; and we benefit from added-value arrangements such as regional development grants, the much-criticized Common Agricultural Policy, that supports British farmers; and from automatic memberships of many scientific, industrial, academic and cultural co-operative organizations. Those will not be available as benefits of the kind of external trading alliances such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the World Trade Organization that Brexiteers talk about joining, once we leave. For British scientists, academics and even musicians, our departure is a disaster.

We may see an end, too, to co-operative projects such as those that have benefited us, along with everyone: Airbus, Concorde, the Channel tunnel, Galileo GPS, the European Space Agency. Our proposed withdrawal from UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural organization, will double-down on our isolation from the currents of global thought and research. Brexit is a dangerous, go-it-alone project with no certain future, dreamed up by ambitious politicians and City gamblers who financed the Leave campaign and stand to profit from it. The indications are, too, that Russian money may have been behind it, as Mr Putin seeks to destabilize Western institutions.

When they talk about “sovereignty”, they mean theirs – not yours or mine.

We still do make our own laws (Blair’s three governments introduced over three thousand new laws), our courts still rule on them; the vilified European Court of Justice is only a court of last resort, British judges sit on it too, and 95% of its decisions have gone in favor of British higher and Supreme Court judgements. Are we arguing that British courts can never be wrong? Or that they should be the final arbiter when issues of wider EU law apply? The ECJ really does not prevent us from expelling foreign criminals and jihadis without good legal reason! We have, or had, full representation and a respected position in the courts and councils of Europe. That’s now being thrown away.

Many of our own laws have been imposed (benignly, one hopes) vice-versa on our European partners, by mutual agreement. The EU has agreed rules. We’ve accepted product standardization, to the benefit of our industries, enabling more inward investment; quality and safety regulations and environmental standards, to the benefit of British workers and consumers. The City of London is pre-eminent: a vast hive of international financial trading. That position is now threatened. Our trading agreements are mutually beneficial: the EU does not prevent us from trading with more than 60 external “third” countries, under a framework of rules and tariffs that gives British exporters better, more risk-free access than other, global frameworks ever will.

Under President Trump, a rogue agent with close ties to Putin, our American “allies” meanwhile are busily seeking to dismantle the very international trade organizations and treaty alliances our Brexiteers hoped to join, in order to protect their own industries and services; removing banking regulations, for instance, that were imposed after the global financial crash they triggered in 2007; overinflating the dollar and instigating a damaging trade war against China. That’s not looking good for us, unprotected as we shall be outside the European Union. With its 450 million consumers, Europe is by far our largest market, where we can trade freely and without customs barriers we will now have to reimpose.

The vast majority of migrant workers and specialists from Europe who come here under the civilizing influence of free movement, one of the so-called “four pillars” of the community, are vital to the running of a successful UK economy, as our population is ageing. There is no evidence whatever that European migrants take our jobs away, enjoy privileged housing and other benefits or somehow dilute our British racial stock. Freedom of movement has also enabled millions of British workers, managers, specialists and retirees to live and work and travel and marry freely in Europe.

That’s another privilege we’re losing, to our great detriment and theirs. Many people, especially the younger generation, now consider ourselves “European British” by nationality, and bitterly resent the narrow, nationalistic, majoritarian Leave vote that is arbitrarily and without authority or legal standing – without asking us – depriving us of our identity and citizen privileges outside the UK. Leavers, I suspect, will soon feel unhappy queuing to get in and out of the country at non-EU transit channels. They will have become second-class citizens just 26 miles from the White Cliffs of Dover.

We have not “lost control of our borders”; an idiotic Eurosceptic “meme”. We are not signatories to the Schengen agreement, which guarantees open borders within the EU. We impose tight restrictions on non-EU immigration under what is being viewed by many in view of appalling Home Office excesses as an unfair and oppressive visa-based system that has led to absurd anomalies like the growing shortage of doctors and nurses in the NHS; or the deportation and non-readmittance of many Caribbean postwar “citizens by invitation”, who were given no papers to prove their right to remain when they arrived as much-needed labor in the 1950s and 60s, who settled and have British families.

Immigration numbers are cruelly distorted by Theresa May’s dogmatic insistence on counting-in the hundreds of thousands of foreign students, who bring much-needed additional revenue to our universities, as immigrants – even though the vast majority return to their home countries. Numbers are already falling as a result of Brexit, which seems to have licensed more violent attacks and abuse against non-native speakers. Are you happy about that?

Non-EU migration is not affected in any way by our EU membership. So if you object to seeing black or brown people in our streets, leaving the EU is not going to change anything. Even for EU arrivals, many of whom have been here for ten or twenty years, obtaining British residency or citizenship is increasingly difficult and expensive. Visas are already subject to ludicrously high bars – I have never in my life earned as much money as you would need to be earning before you could apply for a Tier One visa as a skilled worker.

The border is tightly controlled, both externally and internally, with much bureaucracy and multi-stage supervision of passport ID – not supposedly necessary within the EU. Border Force operations are conducted against “illegals” who, unless granted asylum – increasingly difficult, as application is expensive and legal aid no longer available – are automatically deported. Asylum-seekers are not allowed to work and must remain in hostels, living on £37 a week – and so cannot be taking British jobs and housing. We have one of the most sophisticated and intrusive State surveillance systems in the world to keep an eye on everyone.

How on earth our “borders” (there is only one!) could be more tightly controlled is never explained. It is only code for “We want you to think there are too many foreigners in the country”. But without them, the economy would be worse off.

“Brussels. It’s worse than Nazi Germany”…. Boris is talking out of his expansive arse. The history of the Second World War doesn’t really show that Britain “stood alone against the Nazi menace”; rather, it took a huge co-operative effort by a loose alliance of resistance fighters, exiles and volunteers and free national armies from all over Europe, Asia and the Commonwealth, plus massive military and industrial interventions by the USA and the USSR, to simultaneously defeat a resurgent Germany and an expansionist Japan. It was a “world war”, not one confined to the heroic defense of Walmington-on-Sea. No one is doubting anyone’s courage and endurance in that grim endeavor, not even the enemy’s; but the fantasy of British exceptionalism is a damaging national myth we would all be better off without.

All water off a duck’s back. If the girls in the fruit section had their way, the British resistance would have people like me shot as collaborators.

O’Toole quotes a Thatcher friend and minister, Old Etonian Nick Ridley, interviewed in the Spectator in the 1980s that the European monetary system (the Euro) being introduced by the EU was “all a German racket designed to take over the whole of Europe … I’m not against giving up sovereignty in principle, but not to this lot. You might as well give it to Adolf Hitler, frankly … I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather have the shelters and the chance to fight back than simply being taken over by economics.”

You see, for many people our relations with continental Europe are still defined entirely by the war. Thatcher herself, O’Toole reminds us, spoke of the Falklands conflict in terms of restoring Britain’s greatness, giving new life to the metaphors of retreat and invasion.

“We have ceased to be a nation in retreat,” she said, implying that the nation had been precisely that for a long time. “Why,” she asked, “do we have to be invaded before we throw aside our selfish aims and begin to work together … ?”

Sentiments echoed many years later by the fatuous oaf, Boris Johnson reminding Britons of how we stood alone against the devilish European unifying forces of Hitler and Napoleon. And to remind everyone, “we” hadn’t been invaded! The Falklands conflict was touch-and-go, just like every other war involving the under-prepared British, the government and the media propaganda machine having made of the Falklands a fragile microcosm of halcyon prewar British society (flag-waving, English-speaking white-skinned cabbage-boilers with a village-green culture and red post-boxes), and not an occupied group of wind-blasted islands off the coast of Argentina, with more sheep than people.

There too, in that limited small-scale conflict we came within a hairsbreadth of defeat by a vastly inferior foe backed only by the logic of geography; near-defeat and the triumph of improvisation being absolutely necessary to the myth of historic British actions.

Significantly, as with Suez the Americans didn’t want to be dragged in, any more than we’d wanted to get involved in Vietnam. So much for the Special Relationship.

It’s frankly bizarre, a Jingoistic fantasy, a distortion of history, but it seems unlikely that a section of the British public in their race memory will ever get over the disaster of the Second World War. A disaster, because we were on the winning side at a time when we were already losing an empire and our dominant role in the world. The Commonwealth was scant consolation; a bunch of uppity, inferior black countries we’d once ruled over, who didn’t appreciate us any longer.

Winning the war left us weakened and economically – psychologically – unable to compete with the Marshall-plan-aided German Gewirtschsaftswünder when it came. The aim was to avoid the dangerous resentment of a defeated people whom we had seen after the First World War turn to a resurgent nativism based on violent racial myths. (Co-operation was not an option, apparently!)

That that was precisely where our US allies wanted us to be – and still do – is never much considered. Nor is the parallel, enormously successful economic experiment the US constructed with their erstwhile enemy, after the even more bitter Pacific war against Japan; an example of trust-building which we failed to follow in Europe; to our detriment.

Exulting in our insularity, a certain section of the British public clings to our brief moment of triumph in 1945, all the tropes of survival against overwhelming odds lived over and over again as a vindication of our furious impotence in the modern world. For a nation built on trade, we still look to force of arms and an indomitable, churlish spirit as the primary British virtues. But we couldn’t even hold on to Basra.

Instead, the 21st-century reality is that we are a relatively prosperous, settled, multicultural, middleweight nation like many another, still with useful influence in the world, but without the responsibilities and heartless brutalities of Empire. Successive administrations increasingly dominated by technocrats and money-breathers have wound down our manufacturing capacity to the detriment of traditional communities, and tend to ignore our real strengths in the cultural and innovations industries in favor of their friends in the City, who can magically breed money from money.

Pretending that the 20th century never happened and that England’s glories are merely waiting to be stirred anew is a minority pastime. It’s a myth propagated by cynical huxters that too many people from the industrial heartland who have been effectively sidelined, diseducated and beaten down with doctrinaire “austerity” are allowing themselves to believe in; although we should remember that austerity comes only at the end of a long period of stagnation and the near-collapse of capitalism, from which no lessons were learned, except that the guilty men can get away with it and hope to do so again.

That these people, mainly Leavers, still vote Conservative despite the economic wasteland around them, the food banks, the homelessness is evidence, not of loathing and despair of the government’s austerity program, but of their approval of it! This bleak devastation is how things should be, when we’re losing a war with our backs to the wall, shoulders to the wheel, noses to the grindstone, all pulling together and fighting the foreigners on the beaches.

We seem to be getting bored with too much peace.

Heroic Failures: Brexit and the Politics of Pain by Fintan O’Toole, is published on 22 November by Head of Zeus.