The Pumpkin – Issue 34: Clinton: the Dark Lady of Russian Fiction … Oh Come, All Ye Faithful … What hope is there for humanity? … Granny W., hunkering down for the duration … Belmarsh, here I come

Babe…

Abe…

“I somehow doubt, too, that she would ever confuse the stock market with the Treasury”

Clinton, the Dark Lady of Russian Fiction

A Guardian Opinion piece (21 Oct) by senior journalist Zoe Williams, asks “Why does nobody mention that Hillary Clinton is perfectly nice?”

She bases her report on an appearance by Clinton on BBC 1’s The Graham Norton Show, plugging her new book, What Happened? It seems a fair question. Actually they both do.

Because in The Pumpkin’s view, this lady has been seriously traduced; while the sheer insouciant hypocrisy of Trump’s continuing attacks on her is something that surely needs to be countered by an objective analysis of his own record.

The stories about Clinton spread on social media by Russian bots through ‘false-front’ pressure groups and fake social media accounts, and by advertising paid for by ‘dark money’ sources ran to ‘hundreds of millions’ of micro-targeted views, according to recent research, almost certainly with inside help from US data analytics companies in the pay of the Republican party, and must have gone a long way to create the overall impression of the Democrat candidate as some kind of malevolent ‘dark lady’ that chimes with the absurd ‘demon eyes’ campaign the Tories ran against Blair in 1997, taking personalized politics to a new level of trashy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/us/politics/russia-facebook-twitter-election.html (and see others)

Where was the substance to them?

The Whitewater property scandal* was never proven; the emails – well, it’s perfectly clear, all politicians (especially Trump’s closest ‘advisors’ and nepotistic appointments) use public networks, they’re probably safer than the official servers.

Clinton did not murder the Ambassador to Benghazi, her acceptance of responsibility was as the Secretary of State, the head of the diplomatic department – not as an admission of personal error or guilt. Trump however has accepted no responsibility for military and civilian casualties in his secret wars.

Whitewater rafting (Koin.com)

Several million Americans who can’t think for themselves actually believed, and many still believe, the ludicrous Pizzagate allegations; and despite Trump’s appalling history of Weinsteinian abuse many apparently intelligent members of the sorority were persuaded to vote for him because Clinton stood by her husband and she so shouldn’t have done that – bad optic; while ethnic minorities seem to have been persuaded against her in sufficient numbers by blatantly obvious commercials shot in Nigeria, using Nigerian actors pretending to be Black Lives Matter advocates, claiming Clinton was the racist bitch candidate and Trump, who in real life refused to rent properties to blacks and Puerto Ricans, the champion of the oppressed.

I somehow doubt, too, that she would ever confuse the stock market with the Treasury (Chump has claimed credit for wiping out half the national debt through

Whitewater grafting? (Washington Post)

bringing about, somehow, record levels of speculative investment in the market, which most economists agree is a seriously dangerous state of affairs. Figures published this week show the deficit to be increasing faster than at any time in the last five years, while unemployment is again rising); or that she might seek to reward her corporate sponsors in quite the same spectacular way as Trump’s ‘beautiful’ $4 trillion Christmas tax cuts that will bear hardest on the poor and aspirant middle-class, while making repeated, futile attempts by diktat at destroying ‘Obamacare’, to the detriment of the health and security of 32 million voters; or that she would seek to multiply the US nuclear arsenal tenfold, having first told the Russians in a phone call what she was planning to do.

It also seems unlikely that she would by now have fired the director of the FBI for refusing to suspend an investigation into her collusion with Russia and swear personal fealty to her; or bitterly attacked her own officials and party for failing to support her crazier policy initiatives; or appointed incompetent and venial placemen to all the key offices of State. Virtually all senior politicians are invited to speak at corporate get-togethers, and well paid for their insights. But would Clinton have appointed five former Goldman Sachs executives to her cabinet?

Would she have complained that the official Opposition keeps unfairly opposing her and thus failed to achieve any significant legislation in ten months, apart from rolling back all the environmental and consumer protections of her predecessor; pissed-off America’s allies by seeking to tear down a raft of painstakingly negotiated security treaties; demanded NATO pay the USA billions of dollars of protection money; schmoozed the world’s worst dictatorships; advocated torture and police violence; raised trade barriers 300% to “protect” already successful US global corporations, and proposed to destroy the current status quo on world trade to the detriment of her own economy?

Would she have threatened to deport 11 million useful and mostly peaceable family people, lied about the intentions of the Muslim community to create fear and division, banned children from entering the USA in case they were terrorists, and imagined building a 20-foot-high, 2,000-mile-long, $25 billion wall to stop Mexicans from flying over it, tunnelling under it or going around it by sea – a pointless wall to divide even white American communities along the border, to stop billions of dollars in cross-border trade, all at the expense of the US taxpayer and consumer – when illegal Mexican immigration has already slowed to a trickle?

Would she be banning transsexuals from serving in the military, and rolling-back protections for gay people against discrimination by rabid Christians? Would she have managed to lose an entire carrier squadron in the southern Indian Ocean, imagining it was in the southwestern Pacific? Would she have had her Attorney General let rip on users of cannabis, even for medical purposes, in States where Federal law outranks local legislative freedoms only recently gained? Would she have threatened the starving and hagridden peasants of North Korea with nuclear annihilation, or told lies deliberately to justify war with Iran?

Would she have told the grieving 22-year-old pregnant widow and mother-of-two of a Green Beret soldier killed on a dubious secret op she can’t talk about in some flyblown oil-rich African desert that ‘he knew what he was getting into’ – even if she knew his name, and that he was a black man whose service she could traduce? And then lied about it, and attacked the reputations of the five witnesses, just simple folk? Would she have betrayed the confidence of her Chief-of-Staff and forced him to dishonor the memory of his own fallen son in order to pursue her own vengeful, dishonest attacks on the widow and her Congresswoman? Would she ever have appointed that sweaty sack of lies, Sarah Huckabee ‘I’m a Christian’ Sanders, as chief press spokesthing to bully and browbeat the pathetic gaggle of White House press correspondents?

Is there any suggestion that Clinton is a disgusting orange pig with no moral boundaries; an egomaniacal, vindictive, uneducated, sociopathic sex-pest in an expensive suit bought with money stolen from Russian banks? That she learned her business methods at the knee of a notorious member of the Mafia? That she takes from money-launderers and racketeers, or that she uses money from her own tax-exempt charity foundation to buy-off investigations and diverts funds donated for her re-election campaign to pay lawyers to defend herself aggressively against potential charges of money-laundering and obstruction of justice or worse? Has anyone suggested that she ever ran a dubious ‘modelling agency’ importing, as is claimed, underage girls from eastern Europe and pimped her own daughter at the age of 14 to another agency owned by a notorious pedophile, just to get more party invitations? Or that she perhaps ripped-off Chelsea’s annual charity fundraisers for children with cancer, to the tune of half-a-million dollars?

Nor, one suspects, would she be aligning herself with the malign machinations of the pro-Life campaign, its Christianized violence against the medical profession, its doxing and other abusive attempts to harass health employees and marginalize and deny women’s rights over their own lives and bodies in the 21st century (see following story). Or imagining that the lie she was told to put out, that her predecessor in the White House was bugging her calls, has somehow become true?

Oh, but she took bribes from a Canadian businessman to approve the sale of Canadian uranium under NAFTA rules to a Russian power company…! Except that Business Insider investigated the allegation made by an author plugging an anti-Clinton diatribe in the New York Times, a book plug, and found: “we have no evidence of a quid pro quo, and we don’t have evidence that Hillary Clinton took any action at all with regard to this sale, in favor of the interests of the donors or otherwise.”

http://uk.businessinsider.com/everything-we-know-about-the-hillary-clinton-russia-uranium-scandal-2015-4?r=US&IR=T

And now, oh! But she colluded with the Russians to get intel on Trump! No, she didn’t do that, American conspiracy dimwits. She – or her party – colluded, if anything, with a former BRITISH MI6 spook, Christopher Steele, to get the Russian intel on Trump AFTER the Republicans first commissioned Steele to find out what the Russians had on Trump BEFORE adopting him as their candidate.

Just as we have no evidence that Trump had a business association with a convicted Russian mobster, Felix Sater, whose company Bayrock (based in Trump Tower but he “wouldn’t know what he looked like” (except there are photos of them with arms around shoulders) was a front for a major investment in Trump SoHo by the man believed to be the ‘capo di capi’ of the Russian mafia, Semion Mogilevich. No evidence that he sold a Florida mansion to Dmitry Rybolovlev, an oligarch associated through Bank of Cyprus – a known money-laundering conduit – with his Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, for $56 million more than he’d paid for it two years earlier. A mansion that was subsequently demolished as unfit for habitation. Nor that he defaulted on $340 million of a 2007 loan from Deutsche Bank; a marker that some foolish journalists suspect may have been picked up by Russian banks linked with the Kremlin.

Preposterous. Just more of those fake news things.

While Clinton’s failure to run an ominous series of quasi-fascist Orwellian hate-speech rallies, tell the most enormous porky-pies (around 1,400 of Trump’s public utterances and tweets have to date been verified as out-and-out falsehoods by the Washington Post), refuse to condemn white supremacist terrorists and neo-Nazis, disparage Gold Star parents, send critics and perceived enemies and the Mayor of London vicious bullying tweets at 4 am, declare the press to be ‘Enemies of the People’, obsess endlessly over her turnouts and poll ratings, fire anyone who won’t agree to lie about them and encourage her supporters to beat-up protestors – these omissions may have left the impression Hillary is a bit – well, dull for the modern presidential era.

Wouldn’t you think?

“…a surprisingly large contingent of fully qualified American psychiatrists and psychologists actually held a rally in Washington last week to try to bring to the attention of senior Republicans on the Hill, their firm belief that Trump is genuinely crazy…”

It seems somewhat unfair that Trump is allowed to brood darkly for months over his election victory and spend public money on trying to prove that he won because the opposition cheated, while when Clinton complains about him stealing the election from her she’s accused of being hysterical. Misogyny – back to the kitchen, anti-feminism – indeed seems to have played a large part in her downfall, just as race-hatred plays a part in Trump’s Obama-obsessed policy-making – and, judging by the online commentariat – probably continues to do so. We need to consider that Clinton did get 2.8 million more votes nationally than Trump; and that new analysis is showing how voter suppression in key marginal states – a form of electronic gerrymandering favoured mainly by Republican administrations – was largely responsible for him winning the decisive Electoral College votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – natural Democrat constituencies – against the polling numbers.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/10/voter-suppression-wisconsin-election-2016/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_todayworld

This process has been continuing with the help of data analytics companies and Russian hacking of voter rolls to determine who is to be disenfranchised on spurious grounds (such as not having an expensive new photo driver’s licence, or having a similar name to someone else) before the mid-term elections next year under the aegis of Trump’s special commission on the so-far unproven ‘voter fraud’ involving millions of invisible aliens, which he believes in his madness was responsible for his lack of a numerical majority at the last election. It’s a strategy designed to keep the Republican boot stamping on a human face foreever.

At least there is no sign that Clinton demands the unconditional love of the people. She’s not a diagnosable psychopath.

For we should next consider that a surprisingly large contingent of fully qualified American psychiatrists and psychologists actually held a rally in Washington last week to try to bring to the attention of senior Republicans on the Hill, their firm conviction that Trump is genuinely crazy – mentally unfit to be left anywhere near the guy with the nuclear football. Senator Bob Corker has also made the same point quite openly – beyond all of which, it should be obvious to anyone that the President is a nasty piece of work: not only a vindictive and malignant narcissist, but a lazy and incompetent administrator and disastrous person-manager with an unheard-of turnover of key staff, highly dubious business history and a habit of spending vast sums of other people’s money on securing his own comforts and position, to allay his fundamental insecurities.

A propos, it’s hard to imagine workaholic Clinton spending three days a week out of the office at any of her many private resorts, funded by Russian investment, playing golf and promoting membership at a cost to the taxpayer of over $50 million in her first six months in – or rather, out – of office; finding the task of understanding healthcare, immigration rules, the history of the Korean War or the constitution of the United States intellectually too exhausting; or blowing $1 billion on additional security for 42 members of her family and their business properties. It’s hard to imagine her mistaking impoverished, hurricane-battered Puerto Rico for a separate country that owes the US Treasury $74 billion and must pay it back before qualifying for emergency aid; or that she is not also the president of the US Virgin Islands – the clue is in the name. Hard to see her imperiously throwing paper towels at hurricane survivors…

…or defunding important executive offices, or banning scientists from reporting on environmental dangers, failing to appoint managers to key positions and ambassadors to key allies, hysterically abusing the courts and firing judges for obstructing her illegal orders and poking around in her affairs, sacking staff she perceives as opposing her merely for offering the experienced advice they’re paid to offer, claiming that they were underperforming, or disloyal, or that they resigned – there’s always a lie attached…

…or praising Putin’s policy of eliminating opponents and inconvenient journalists; or blaming a traffic accident in London on Muslim refugees while continuing to claim without any justification that the (Muslim) Mayor of London is soft on terrorism; or approving the policy of the dictator of the Philippines of exterminating drug users through extrajudicial murders, or rolling-back limits specifically on coal-fired power stations whose emissions are thought to add another 4 thousand American deaths a year to the toll of over 30 thousand gun deaths she refuses to do anything about, or removing protections for endangered wildlife and treasured monument lands and removing controls on polluting emissions from coal-fired power stations and oil and gas fracking operations….

…or needing to be shown cartoon versions of policy documents and half-page briefings with lots of simple bullet points and her name mentioned in every other line, to be constantly praised for nonexistent triumphs, at the same time having to be ‘kept calm’ and distracted by White House staff 24-hours a day, in what Sen. Corker describes as a ‘day-care center’, lest she starts World War Three in one of her constant rages – literally.

All in all, it’s not really surprising that the poor woman feels she was robbed: she was.

So was everyone else.

Ranting and raving for the benefit of his crazed followers, the man is clearly not in control. But who will act?

And now we have Bannon coaching egregiously from the sidelines, making open threats against Republicans who don’t toe the Breitbart line, and Putin pleading with the 67% of Americans who now understand the presidency is a historic train-wreck, amid a growing realization of the extent to which Russian interference played a part in electing the man, to give poor, traduced Mr Trump a chance, we can see all the more clearly the nature of the attempted coup, the treason; yet still nothing is done about it for fear the Republicans will be defunded by their shady corporate backers while incurring the electoral wrath of Trump’s only-slowly shrinking legion of deluded, screaming dumbfucks: his audience.

Because for him, it’s all about the ratings. It doesn’t matter who gets fired – hurt, insulted, sexually propositioned or even killed in the process. No-one and nothing outside Trump really exists. It’s all about the ratings; the living proof that the unlovable child who could never live up to his alcoholic, dead brother’s image in their father’s eyes, is truly loved and admired by the multitude. And any perceived slight sees him ranting and raving for the benefit of his crazed followers. The man is clearly not in control of himself: incoherent, forgetful, mendacious and undisciplined. But who will act?

Fortunately the plotters are so inept and unable to figure out where the levers of power really are, that it’s not been too successful – yet. Which is why Trump needs to be removed from office, now, before the squabbling bunch of criminals, neofascists, alt-right ‘Christians’, sycophants, useless and incompetent dimwits, the corruptly funded shills for the energy and chemicals and pharmaceutical industries, the swamp-dwellers and bottom-feeders, the financiers and corporate lawyers who know where his bodies are buried – the attack-dogs, the authoritarians, the racists and the crusaders; all the billionaire riff-raff with whom he has surrounded himself and his administration – private-jet-renters and tax-eaters whom, by and large, he has recently admitted he ‘hates’, the ones he screams abuse at on a daily basis but absolutely needs inside the tent pissing out; before they get the hang of things and really start going to town.

It surely can’t be long now.

*Whitewater was a 1980s property deal that went bad (Trump’s of course never did!) involving the Clintons when Bill was governor of Arkansas. David Hale, the source of criminal allegations against the Clintons, while himself facing arraignment, claimed in November 1993 that Bill Clinton had pressured him into providing an illegal $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, the Clintons’ partner in the Whitewater land deal. Neither Bill Clinton nor Hillary were ever prosecuted, after three separate inquiries found insufficient evidence linking them with the criminal conduct of others related to the land deal, who were convicted; McDougal serving jail time. (Edited from Wikipedia entry)

 

My sperms have rights. Your eggs don’t.

Oh Come, All Ye Faithful

Yet again I have to thank Rachel Maddow for drawing the attention of The Pumpkin to a story far down the news agenda, concerning yet another federal agency director, a Trump appointee of staggering inappropriateness for the job. (I think ‘Trumpian’ ought to be the correct adjective for ‘staggeringly inappropriate’.)

This gentleman was nominated by Trump, in all his cartoonishly malevolent insanity, to run the national refugee resettlement program. Needless to say, he had no experience whatever of resettling refugees, overseas aid work or indeed of any sort of official bureaucratic duties before now. Actually, that’s not quite true: he was for a time on the board of a ‘charity’ devoted to supporting Christian refugees fleeing from ISIS. (The Muslim and Yazidi women and children were going to Hell anyway, so no need bothering with them.) This entity called itself The Knights of Columbus (after a well-known mass-murderer falsely stated to have ‘discovered’ America).

“Aw, c’mon honey…”
(biology-questions-and-answers.org)

E Scott Lloyd is, it seems, a rabidly homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-abortion, anti-contraception, pro-spermatozoa, ‘Christian’ crusader; a sanctimonious-looking fellow with that perfectly varnished face, deviant smile and fanatical eyes only Americans of a certain religiose kind can present to the camera for posterity. The kind of male whose sperm have infinite rights to reproduce while your eggs have no rights to stop them under any circumstances.

The kind who believe women belong on their backs, probably in the kitchen. According to The Asylumist website:

“Mr. Lloyd has been an active volunteer in the pro-life movement. He is on the Board of Directors of the Front Royal Pregnancy Center, an organization that provides “counseling” related to unwanted pregnancies. He is also a founder of Witness Works, which aims to build a “culture of life.”

In addition, he contributes to various pro-life publications, including Human Life International (“Contraception: The Root of the Culture of Death”) and Veritatis Splendor, where he writes, “The Supreme Court, when it claimed to recognize for women the ‘right’ to abortion on demand, simultaneously stripped the fathers of these children of their right to be parents, and other associated rights”. (Presumably, that includes the rapists and the uncles?)

And he does have some experience of managing immigrants.

The agency he heads – practically a cult within Government, according to Maddow – is at this time holding 38 young immigrant teenage girls in a private facility, apparently to prevent them from continuing with their plans to abort unwanted pregnancies, although abortion is legal under the present regime in the State of Texas, where they are being illegally detained, up to 20 weeks.

It is reminiscent of the Irish concentration camps for unwed mothers, the baby farms whose mass graves are even now being exhumed after fifty years; the ‘laundries’ operated by the Catholic Sisters of this-or-that – Mercy, Charity, Piety – but never Compassion or Understanding.

According to the story, the girls are being forcibly indoctrinated and denied access to medical care and advice from any doctor who is not signed-up to the pro-Life movement. Lawyers are trying to get them out, but the clock is ticking. Mr Lloyd is also a lawyer, famous for having spun-out a case for seven years while a family tore itself apart (at vast cost), a husband warring with his “Christian” in-laws over whether or not an injured woman in a persistent vegetative state should have her feeding-tube removed. Lloyd prolonged the agony, he claimed, in order to best fulfil Christ’s teaching. (My own researches into the New Testament have failed to turn up any references to life-support machines.)

Given that there is no obvious record of the service in Government Mr Trump’s recommendation refers to in his CV, and given his complete lack of interest in or empathy with anyone who is not a fully signed-up and baptized Christian, which describes pretty much most refugees, The Asylumist (a website devoted to legal issues related to asylum-seekers) concludes of him: “All this begs the question, how is Mr. Lloyd qualified to direct the Office of Refugee Resettlement?”

Oh, but surely, he is qualified by virtue? I mean, sorry, by “virtue” of his being an utter slimeball?

What a shame the Romans failed to eradicate these sanctimonious, compassionless, hateful hypocrites at birth, in the most imaginative, entertaining and very painful ways possible – before their own empire collapsed amid division, corruption and administrative – should we say “Trumpian”? – chaos.

But even the lions, I fear, would gag on the likes of E Scott Lloyd: gristle through and through.

 

What hope is there for humanity?

More frightening even than Trump himself is the psyche of the people who support him.

The Pumpkin lazily visits a website called ‘Mary Greeley’ from time to time, to check on the progress of the impending Yellowstone supervolcano cataclysm, as she is the only person unconnected with the lyin’ US Geological Survey who sounds even remotely sane, podcasting regularly from wherever she lives, analysing the seismometer feeds from all the main sensors and webcams in and around the park, reporting gloomily on the many earthquakes that affect the region (this year since June has seen a record number, perhaps 15 thousand, ranging up to M5.2 but mostly much smaller – and, unusually, significantly, just outside the caldera in Montana and Idaho).

I say remotely sane, although she has been telling us the underground chambers are rapidly filling with dangerous quantities of magma – that’s lava before it bursts out – and the caldera is about to erupt at any moment, since at least 2013; all in all it’s been 40 years since the first signs of impending doom appeared. Whenever she tires of this theme, or of lecturing her many viewers on the interesting subject of borehole design, Mary likes to wander off in search of more incredible things, such as a recent sighting of Bigfoot (now with three “littlefeet” in tow and a pig on its back, as witnessed by a local farmer, Mr Gonzalez.)

The Bigfoot photo she shows us has been kicking around for years, and is a ‘simulacrum’ – ie, something that bears a slight resemblance to something it isn’t. In this case, it’s been shown to be just a shaded hollow on a sunlit earth bank beside a river. Even Mary is curious to know why photos of Bigfoot are always so indistinct, and I feel like replying, it’s because they make really strong moonshine liquor in the Ozarks, or wherever the thing is, which makes focussing a Kodak Box Brownie kinda tricky.

Mary has a tiresome habit of putting interesting web pages with unattributed articles up on screen and then reading them aloud to us. She’s not the most fluent or accurate reader, and we tend to get to the end long before she does. But despite this evidencing of some actual source for her reports, folks are more than inclined to just pick up the subject and twist it to their own crazed agendas, rather than Googling it and finding other, often more balanced – or nuanced – interpretations.

In the last coupla days, for instance, Mary has uncovered alarming news of an outbreak of Marburg virus (’caused by, er, the Marburg virus’… and closely related to pneumonic plague, spread by the Yersinia Pestis bacillus) which is (and has been known to be for many years) endemic in fruit bats on the Uganda/Kenya border. Both are a very long way from Plainsville and pose absolutely no threat to the American way of life, thousands of miles away.

Plague is not that uncommon, even in America. Travel Health reports: “Since 1970, 42 human cases of plague have been confirmed in California; nine were fatal.” So, the Kenyan Digest reports (20 Oct): “Two people have died from the Marburg virus in eastern Uganda, in the country’s first outbreak of the deadly Ebola-like pathogen in three years, the health ministry said. Blood samples were taken from two people who have since died and were found positive for Marburg …. A team of experts has been sent to Kween district, near the Kenyan border, to contain the virus. ‘At the moment we don’t know if there are other people apart from the dead who have contracted the disease because the experts are still investigating'” – Health Ministry spokeswoman.

Not a global pandemic yet, then. Just as well, as the World Health Organization is in a bit of disarray after its CEO appointed the 94-year-old Robert Mugabe as a public health ambassador and was then forced to change his mind after it was pointed out to him that Zimbabwe’s hospitals are in such terrible shape, Mugabe gets his personal treatment in South Africa.

But despite her strange little exaggerations and wide-eyed acceptance of daft conspiracies, as a supplier of feedstock for this curious thread of near-insane paranoia running through the American psyche; born, I suspect, out of their ancestors’ howling nights in rudimentary shacks out on the prairie a hundred miles from town, fearful of wolves, huge storms, travelling preachers and raiding parties of Sioux, Mary Greeley is clearly loved by a certain section of American society, who are forever sending her little messages of blessing, their constant thoughts and prayers and heartfelt thanks for her existence.

In a world of troubles, despite all her alarming prognostications, Mary somehow offers a reassuring presence. The devotion she inspires is heartfelt and really quite touching.

But the shocking ignorance of the world and the bizarre beliefs and prejudices of her, I should guess mainly rustic audience are a wonder to behold. In response to a report of the deaths from an unpleasant disease caught from bats of just two unfortunate people out on safari in the forests of Uganda, Lady Ali writes:

Its from the chemtrails. Theyre dropping viruses on us now. Stay positive, somehow God will fix this. Cuz Hes our FATHER and he loves us. He said He did lol, i dont think Hes a liar. He will take care of those who live and call on Him, and they will. Buckle up folks, frick this sucks. Dont these bad guys get it that GOD always wins. ALWAYS. Many blessings, much love and light. Nothing we can do now but pray and pick the winning team. Gods team.

Viewer Katherine Westover concludes in block capitals:

BILL GATE’S MUST BE OVER THERE HANDING OUT FLU SHOTS AGAIN..THAT BASTARD..LAST TIME WHEN EBOLA WAS GOING AROUND PEOPLE STARTED FIGURING IT OUT..THAT IT WAS THE SHOTS AND THREW THE (WHO) WORLD HEALTH ORG. OUT OF THERE COUNTRY THEN…WALLA…EBOLA WENT AWAY..BILL GATE’S IS ANOTHER FREAK WHO NEEDS TO BE EXECUTED

Gates comes in for a lot of criticism from Mary fans over the many foul plagues he has unleashed in the world through his bogus vaccination programs, that are making him so much money cheatin’ the poor folks. The Pumpkin might add that he too had a ‘flu shot last year and has no signs of Ebola, but we’ll carry on.
Curious Love82 contributes helpfully:

there is a site you can go to to monitor outbreakes that are happening but I can’t remember the name of it

Rica Bogdany theorises that Marburg virus was created in a laboratory in Germany in the 1970s as a precursor to Ebola, while James Dohalek disagrees:

These Old, and I mean Very Old diseases are surprisingly surfacing. They are extremely Very very DEADLY diseases much like Ebola. I believe biological warfare has begun by major governments to depopulate the population. I HAVE INTENSELY STUDIED THESE DISEASES SINCE I WAS IN MY THIRTIES BECAUSE OF QUEST OF KNOWDLEDGE. (sic)

And Hummingbird is sanguine about the whole thing:

It’s obvious they have unleashed the pandemics. Lord have mercy on us all. God bless

We could laugh at these ludicrous posts all night, but if you care to browse the podcasts on YouTube you will find thousands of people writing in with similar thoughts, feelings and prejudices on most subjects; any one of whom might immediately be diagnosed with a learning disorder or mental illness; extreme ignorance or just wishful thinking.

 Them zombie hordes are out there, and they’s comin’ to get you.
Thank God for Mary Greeley, then; but Thank God too for the internet, which keeps these obviously unemployable poor people occupied and off the streets. Most of them seemingly can’t wait to die inhaling granular rocky ash particulates from an erupting supervolcano like an angry God come to judgement, because it means they will meet their friend Jesus at last, and He will show the rest of us what bad people we truly were.
In the meanwhile, they’ll just vote for a disgusting old faker like Donald Trump, as he’s kinda different from horrible people like Bill Gates, who just wants your money and to make folks sick, for reasons best known to himself.
Trump tells it like it is.
He understands.
He’s one of us.
x
Granny W., hunkering down for the duration

Japan: General Election day, 22 Oct, Mr Abe gets back in and a powerful typhoon causes chaos across the country, with 4 deaths reported, injuries, evacuations, floods, landslides, power outages and transport links down. “While voting went ahead, more than 70,000 households were advised to evacuate – with 5,000 of those ordered to leave. Typhoon Lan – a category 4 storm – has also forced car manufacturer Toyota to suspend operations at several plants. … Heavy rain and flood warnings have been issued to the Pacific side of the country, with winds of over 140mph and 80mm (3 in.) of rain predicted per hour.” In fact in the Western Prefecture, 800mm (31 in.) of rain fell in 24 hours.

Pakistan: Extreme and almost unprecedented heatwave affects Karachi; tropical cyclone invades from Bay of Bengal.

Zimbabwe: has experienced record October heat with temperatures in excess of 40 deg. C.

USA: “A record-breaking heatwave will build over Southern California over the weekend (20-22 Oct) and peak on Tuesday, bringing triple-digit temperatures that could set marks for the hottest temperatures ever recorded so late in the year in the Los Angeles area. Accompanying the heat will be the notorious Santa Ana winds, which will bring a multi-day period of critical fire danger, Saturday through Tuesday.” Temperatures in and around the city have already exceeded 101 deg. F (38C).

“The October 2017 California wildfire event is likely to top $3 billion in damage, making it the most expensive wildfire event in world history.” But never mind, because….

Three dead after powerful storm hits Washington State causing flooding and mudslides. 70% of consumers without power in Spokane region. “Several highways also remained closed, including a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 84 in Oregon that authorities declared impassable into midday Wednesday.” Huge storm travelling at unheard-of 65 mph crosses Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri. Many tornado warnings out for southern and eastern states.

Environment: Three scientists working with the EPA have been banned from attending a conference at which a major research paper was to be delivered on the environmental damage done to an estuary in New England, in part due to climate change. “Scientists from a variety of agencies and institutions had been working for years on the 500-page technical document, which does not cover policy recommendations.”

EPA Director, Scott Pruitt is to announce tomorrow that he is scrapping Obama era limits on emissions from coal-fired power stations, declaring ‘The war on coal is over’. Mr Pruitt is, everyone suspects, a corrupt official in the pay of a number of large coal producers.

Caribbean: “An area of low pressure with the potential to develop into a tropical depression is expected to form in the Western Caribbean off the coast of Nicaragua by mid-week and move slowly northward, bringing heavy rains to Cuba by the weekend. The system may also bring heavy rains to South Florida and the Bahamas by the weekend, but due to the uncertain nature of the formation location and track of the storm, it is uncertain which region might be at most risk.”

Trinidad: experiences severe flooding following heavy rain.

Pacific: Satellite imagery shows a weather phenomenon known as an “atmospheric river” – a belt of rain and storms stretching continuously 5,000 miles from China to the northeastern USA. Known as ‘The Big Dark’, it: “is poised to funnel gigantic amounts of rain and snow to the Northwest over the next few days. As much as 15 inches of rain is forecast … It could be Seattle’s wettest weather since February, the National Weather Service said. There is also a risk of flash flooding in western Washington and northwestern Oregon on Thursday as a result of the heavy rainfall.”

In mid-Pacific, Tropical Storm 27 is heading for Guam, strengthening to a Cat 2 typhoon.

Portugal: with many wildfires still burning in the north, “Portugal experienced unprecedented summer heat this year. In data going back to 1931, the period from April to September and the month of September were both the hottest on record, according to the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere (IPMA). Severe drought extended across 81% of mainland Portugal at the end of September.”

UK: After battering Ireland, Storm Brian brought several inches of rain and high winds to the southwest and west of the country over a 48-hour period at the weekend, together with 50-ft waves and coastal flooding. Schools were closed and train services suspended, but damage was “not as great as expected”.

Sky News/ Weather Underground/ USA Today/ Phys.org/ NBC News/ ABC News/ BBC News

 

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Malta: Gateway to the Mediterranean (just don’t hire a car)… Computer News: Where in the world am I? … Your old Granny W. sploshes in galoshes … End of Everything, Update … Afterthought: And where do you come from?

“Her uncompromising blog and scathing pen spared no punches, hitting out mainly at exponents of the ruling Labour Party and their supporters, but also sometimes criticising officials of the centre-right Nationalist Party, including its newly-elected leader.”

Malta: Gateway to the Mediterranean (just don’t hire a car)

So writes Herman Grech, online editor of The Times of Malta, following a powerful car bomb explosion at the weekend in which former Times reporter and political blogger, Daphne Caruana Galizia was blown to bits outside her home, in a rental car.

Daphne Galizia: had promised to reveal the ownership of a company involved in a possibly corrupt power station contract.

Ms Galizia has been an outspoken critic of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat since his name popped up in the 2015 release of The Panama Papers, suggesting that he and his wife had been corruptly salting away money paid to him by Azerbaijan in offshore companies.

To remind viewers and listeners, the Panama Papers were 11 million documents leaked from the offices of the law firm, Mossack Fonseca, detailing the setting up of tens of thousands of virtually untraceable shell companies to hide money in places like the British Virgin Islands, whom God recently punished with a hurricane.

“While offshore business entities are legal, reporters found that some (actually, rather a lot. Ed.) of the Mossack Fonseca shell corporations were used for illegal purposes, including fraud, tax evasion, and evading international sanctions.” (Wikipedia)

Weeping copious crocodile tears, Mr Muscat went on televisual record as saying:

“I condemn without reservations this barbaric attack on a person and on the freedom of expression in our country.”

And we must take him at his word. Although, it ought to be said, Mrs Galizia knew how to make enemies.

The one thing one doesn’t get from this BBC News story is any sense of who might have perpetrated the outrage in a supposedly peaceable part of the world where such things don’t normally happen; although Malta’s strategic ‘crossroads’ location 60 miles off the Libyan coast and former Arab history, together with its latter status for many years as a British dominion have for centuries made it a hotbed of espionage and intrigue.

Grech’s Times of Malta Online piece doesn’t appear to dare to venture even a hint of a suggestion, but instead sprays out a list of people Galizia might have pissed-off, including some she might not have, i.e. politicians opposed to the government of Dr Muscat. Only…

What is going on?

The US State department’s official website, while being unable to correctly spell ‘Assad’, the name of the President of Syria, nevertheless generously praises Azerbaijan for its co-operation on international terrorism and its opposition to: “terrorist organizations seeking to move people, money, and material through the Caucasus”.

That would presumably not include the Trump Organization’s friends, the Iranian National Guard Corps, whose money (according to The New Yorker magazine) moved through a failed Trump hotel development in the Azeri capital, Baku, part-financing an improbable project being managed by Trump daughter, Ivanka, in partnership with local oligarch and notoriously corrupt ‘family business’ boss, Zia Mammadov.

As “Trump said” (or someone did, he can’t string two words together):

“Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku represents the unwavering standard of excellence of The Trump Organization and our involvement in only the best global development projects,” Trump said when the venture was announced in 2014. “When we open in 2015, visitors and residents will experience a luxurious property unlike anything else in Baku—it will be among the finest in the world.” (Mother Jones)

Despite the ringing endorsement, the project (in a down-at-heel suburb of the capital) got dumped before Trump’s election. Nevertheless, many Western countries have flocked to oil-rich Azerbaijan and its hospitable (although not to journalists or political opponents) President Ilham Aliyev. The BBC reported:

“Deals with international energy producers have allowed the country to use its energy revenues to create a government-run fund involved in international projects … Despite its wealth and increased influence in the wider region, poverty and corruption continue to overshadow the country’s development.”

Maltese cars seem to have a distressing habit of exploding. In October last year, local Buggiba businessman John Camilleri was assassinated in a powerful explosion that only narrowly missed a passing school bus full of children. Again, in reporting the incident the Times of Malta curiously avoided any of the normal press speculation as to the reason behind the attack, or to describe Mr Camilleri as anything other than the proprietor of a bathroom-tile business; but merely concentrated on its own – and the government politicians’ – handwringing.

So much for “freedom of expression”.

In January 2016, a person “registered as a fisherman”, local boat-owner “Martin Cachia, 56, from Marsascala, who has a pending court case in connection with human trafficking, according to sources”, was blown up and died when his car crashed into a wall. While in September 2016, an unnamed man “not well-known to the police” was seriously injured in another car bombing in Mosta, losing both legs, and his passenger also injured; a third man was injured in his car as he was passing by.

How normal is it for a national newspaper not even to try to identify any of the three victims of an attempted murder, or to speculate on who might have been behind it, but merely to drop huge clues to local people as to the identity of the main target? What are journalists afraid of, we wonder?

Just what is going on in tiny island Malta?

Well, if you Google ‘organized crime in Malta’ you get only the results of an optimistic, anodyne official inquiry covering burglaries and suchlike, that makes no reference whatsoever to targeted assassinations. Self-censorship seems to reach up from the press into the higher echelons of government and law-enforcement. The European Union, of which Malta is a relatively new member, is silent on the subject.

But not everyone is afraid to speak out, provided they do so under conditions of anonymity. On 16 October, 2017 The Independent online (UK) among others reported on the Galizia murder:

“A politician said her death marked the “collapse of the rule of law” in Malta, the smallest (country) in the European Union. Tributes to Galizia poured in on Monday evening, as thousands of Maltese gathered in the streets for a candlelight vigil to the reporter.  Galizia is believed to have just published the last post on her widely read blog, Running Commentary, just before leaving her house (in) Mosta, a town outside the capital Valletta.”

“There are crooks everywhere you look now,” she had written, “the situation is desperate.”

In advance of his second visit to Azerbaijan in four months, to attend a conference where he was due to mingle with such luminaries as the peace-prizewinning war criminal, Henry Kissinger, Dr Muscat’s people were less than forthcoming in response to enquiries by The Times of Malta (who weren’t invited on the official junket): “Dr Muscat (is) committed to continue to do work to bring more investment and jobs to Malta.”

At what cost?

The traffic is, of course, not just one-way. Azerbaijan’s foreign affairs minister, Elmar Mammadyarov visited Malta for three days last week, conceivably to discuss an ongoing project involving Azeri state oil and gas company, SOCAR, to build a power station on the island. Malta Today reported:

“Mammadyarov’s visit comes as Daphne Caruana Galizia has pledged to publish proof this week that a bank account of a company owned by politically exposed people in Azerbaijan was used to transfer large sums of money to offshore Panama companies owned by minister Konrad Mizzi, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, and a third company, Egrant.”

It is strongly rumoured among opposition politicians that Joseph Muscat and his wife may be the beneficial owners of Egrant. While, despite an impeccable record of Western education at Brown University and diplomatic service to his country, the Azeri’s Wikipedia entry reports:

“Under Elmar Mammadyarov the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan was hit by numerous scandals and corruption allegations. Stories and documents published in a number of Azeri news sites, blogs and social media claim that Mammadyarov is involved in illegal employment of staff for diplomatic service, irregularities, corruption and espionage along with his deputies and other high foreign service officials.”

Dimech: the ‘gangster’s moll’. But what was the politician really up to? (photo from website)

Was the killing of Galizia timed to entertain the visiting Azeri minister?

Business in Malta is clearly booming. But a casual browse on Mrs Galizia’s website reveals an intricate web of social, political and business relationships on the island that is almost impenetrable to an outsider. She covers numerous stories, many of them on the surface little more than tittle-tattle revealing a fetid atmosphere among the island’s half a million inhabitants.

One caught the attention of the BogPo, concerning the apparently close friendship between the much younger girlfriend of a convicted drug dealer, Rebecca Dimech (see photo) and the wife of the leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Dr Adrian Delia; whom Galizia hints at not so much having an affair with Ms Dimach, but more of being involved in her boyfriend’s cocaine enterprise:

“Miss Dimech … is an amateur glamour model from the wrong side of the tracks, whose long-term boyfriend, Andre Falzon … is a convicted drug-dealer well known to the police. He was released from prison last June. … Mrs Delia was at pains to dismiss any suspicions people might have had about “infidelity” by telling her interviewer “we laughed our heads off”. The widespread suspicions she needs to address about her and the Opposition leader’s relationship with Miss Dimech, though, have nothing to do with infidelity….” (Running Commentary)

Whatever may be going on with the Azerbaijan connection, it seems Mrs Galizia had a way of making powerful enemies in many areas of island life. Drugs, money-laundering, racketeering, people smuggling…. Perhaps we should not be too quick to point the finger of blame for her death at anyone special.

It’s clearly just a cultural thing.

 

x

Computer News

“Probing deeper, I discover a little map of ‘South Bank’, and with a start of recognition realize that it is a part of London I know fairly well…”

Where in the world am I?

Likers, Spammers, Followers and Those No Longer Reading this, muh bogl, will possibly have noted one of the sources for our regular Granny Weatherwax roundup of extreme weather events worldwide is a research group called Weather Underground, blogging as Wunderground, which is – we believe – owned or sponsored or funded by the CNN News organization in America.

Despite the defiant name, these weather guerillas seem to be perfectly reputable, highly qualified meteorologists running an efficient website combining official data sources and up to the minute satellite feeds with detailed reports, forecasts and expert commentary.

Heading their homepage every day is a weather report along the lines of the BBC’s clever “and now the news where you are” feature, a personalized facility for which some algorithm has been programmed to guess where in the world you are and tell you what the temperature, the windspeed and the precipitation are outside, roughly now.

So for weeks, I’ve been getting weather reports and forecasts for somewhere called Grangemouth, United Kingdom.

Now, until this began happening I had no idea where Grangemouth is, I had never heard of the place. Somewhat frustrated, as you can try keying in your actual location but the next day you wake up back in Grangemouth, I looked it up on the ever-reliable Google maps, and found it is an industrial coaling port all the way across the other side of the UK, on the North Sea coast. No wonder it’s always ten degrees colder there than it is here in the West, warmed as we are by the Gulf Stream (my next-door-neighbour has a well-advanced palm tree growing in their garden. Grangemouth is more famed for its tundra).

Why the boffins of Wunderground have decided I live there, or have the slightest interest in the prevailing conditions for the hardy Viking stock of Northumberland, I have no idea. But in recent days, it seems that I have sold up my home in Grangemouth and moved to somewhere called “South Bank”, where I notice it’s currently 51 deg. F. and sunny, with a high of 61 expected later.

There’s very little wind in South Bank, I notice, compared with here where we had a bit of whiplash from ex-Hurricane Ophelia yesterday as it chewed its way up the west coast of Ireland; although nothing like as bad as the “85 mph gusts” forecast.

Probing deeper, I discover a little map of South Bank, and with a start of recognition realize that it is a part of London I know fairly well, having been born and lived across the other side of the river for many years (there is no “North Bank”, by the way – it’s just known as Embankment, that eventually becomes other riparian districts like Pimlico and fashionable Chelsea Reach).

South Bank – or to give it its proper place names, Southwark, Vauxhall, Battersea –  is pretty famous, historically as the site of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and nowadays, for Sir Denys Lasdun’s ’60s Brutalist concert venue, the Royal Festival Hall; the Tate gallery and for the human statues and what-all else annoying buskers who infest the walkways.

But it’s still 256 miles from where I live now; while since my poor old mum passed away last year, I know no-one living anywhere near there, having almost literally burned my bridges as far as the capital is concerned. Looked at objectively, you can buy a three-bedroomed house in Grangemouth for £40 thousand; while the average price of a three-bedroomed house anywhere near “South Bank” (which is not actually a residential community) would be about £2.5 million. The “hiraeth” from which I suffer at the thwarted hope of someday returning to South Kensington, place of my boyhood, is mocked now by the vast economic divide in our society.

Meanwhile back in algorithm corner, I find on the Guardian website I am being offered the opportunity to buy yet more one-off items I have already just bought, or looked at on shopping websites and rejected.

What is the point, I ask myself and any passers-by who will stop to listen?

Here, for instance, is the opportunity to buy the bedroom chair in the color I rejected in favour of the bedroom chair I actually ordered, now in my bedroom. It might be several years before it wears out and I need another one. It’s quite a small room, with no room for two. And look, here next to it is the mattress I bookmarked before I baulked at the £700 price ticket, given that I have a mattress already.

I had thought seriously about changing it after reading Tim Dowling’s acerbically humorous Saturday column in the Guardian last week, about his adventures in acquiring a new mattress for their new home in grimiest Acton, West London (the running gag every week being how he and his wife don’t get along, although it seems they still share a bed, enabling them to fight amusingly over hopeless American-in-London, Tim’s inability to acquire a new mattress).

Mine started life as a pretty supportive, midrange orthopedic design, with 1800 sprung pockets, but over the six years I’ve had it, it has become soggy and pliant beneath my constantly revolving bulk. When Tim mentioned waking up every day with numb hands and a stiff neck, familiar symptoms, I knew it had come time for me to look for a new mattress, and Googling “mattresses” found many affordable examples advertised with free delivery.

I always reason that cheap is crappy and the more you spend, the happier you will be. But you can’t tell, can you, from a photo? Although £160 would probably not buy you a mattress that would stay the course for long, £700 could turn out an expensive mistake; like the new cooker I ordered last month….

ouwhouawhouaaa (eerie flashback music):

(The story so far: shortly after the gas man turned up yesterday on £100 an hour after the previous week’s false alarm and disconnected the old cooker, he summoned me from my shed where I had been hiding to tell me with a long face that the new cooker the shop had just delivered “doesn’t fit”.

Instead of the double-oven, gas-powered, under-counter model I had so carefully described to the man at the counter, the shop had sent over a single-oven electric cooker made to fit an eye-level unit. Back went the old cooker.

Later on, I get a call from the store to say oh dear, they have two cookers in the shop with my name on, and neither of them is the one I ordered, they can’t think how that happened, nevertheless the right one will most assuredly be with me in three weeks’ time… (It isn’t…)

I could offer a column about my life to The Guardian, maybe, only it’s just me and Hunzi, and occasionally Katz… the wife and I stopped fighting after the divorce eight years ago, and there wasn’t another in stock.)

So I switched my attention to other things.

Algorithms never forget, however. So now everytime I go to The Guardian website, which I have to do daily to find interesting items to report here on the BogPo, there’s the one mattress I hovered over, looking pleadingly at me. Should I buy it?

I have decided on principle, no, I shouldn’t. For £700 I can put up with numb fingers in the morning and a stiff neck, although the lack of support makes reading in bed a torture.

And it isn’t only images of tub chairs and orthopedic mattresses I’m being bombarded with, despite my helpful ad-blocker.

The expensive guitar I bought in London last month already has a carry-case, thank you, Gear4Music. It was included in the price. I only wanted to check with you to see what they cost, hard-cases the right size for my little Fibonacci, because the one it came with is embarrassingly cream-colored and I hate to be noticed when carrying a guitar, as I don’t play that well and people always ask, don’t they.

They see your guitar, and the first question that springs to mind is, do you play it?

But now I’m being offered a new guitar case in brown or black every day, and it’s not likely I shall really want to buy another as they can cost £120; while I seldom travel with my guitar far enough to bother.

Then as I have previously mentioned there is the BBC’s online viewing service, the iPlayer, that is forever offering me as personalized suggestions for programmes I might like to watch today, the programmes I watched yesterday. And, as I live in Wales, naturally, many programmes in Welsh: a language that might as well be Welsh to me.

The worst is, there’s no opportunity either to switch off the promotional images, or to explain carefully to the advertiser why you won’t be buying whatever it is they’re offering, day after day, principally because you don’t need another one, you can only play one saxophone for instance (okay, so I can’t play it at all, I soon found out it has more little keys than I have fingers, and none of them seems to do anything to alter the note) – or you just don’t want it.

Why can’t algorithms be programmed instead to offer you interesting and imaginative new things you haven’t already bought, or rejected? Like a cricket bat, or a submarine? I assume the advertisers are paying for those wasted spaces?

As a marketing tool, dialogue is so much more effective.

Wherever in the world you are.

Postscriptum:

Okay, own up. Who told Weather Underground where I live? More importantly, where to find The Boglington Post?

Because since I Posted this Post this morning the sarcastic bastards have switched my ‘weather where you are’ from central London, where I am not, to where I actually am, although I have never specified where that is, indeed I have not even mentioned the problem I was having with the anomalous locations to them directly. No wonder paranoia is going viral.

I plan to buy a camper instead, sell my little cottage and stay on the move in my own safe space.

I’m feeling violated.

Braga, Portugal, 15 October. (Photo: Daily Mail)

 

Your old Granny W. sploshes in galoshes

The Planet: “September 2017 was only the planet’s fourth warmest September since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and NASA this week. The warmer Septembers came during 2015, 2016, and 2014”

Global warming is a myth. Look, Republican states voting for denial! (NOAA)

Near-ground atmospheric temperature however was the warmest on record: “record warmth was observed across parts of central and southern Africa, southern Asia, across the western, northern, and southern Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean (off the southeastern coast of South America), the Norwegian Sea, Greenland Sea, and Barents Sea, and across parts of the Indian Ocean.

No land or ocean areas experienced record cold September temperatures.”

But in total, the average temperature of the world in 2017 to date is still 0.13 deg. C colder than last year. I suppose the key question is, if 2017 hasn’t been hotter than 2016, are we on the way to a cooling planet? Is global warming a myth?

Portugal/Spain: The most shockingly apocalyptic images emerge from more than 500 major fires that erupted all over northern Portugal around Braga and neighbouring Galicia province in Spain at the weekend, after months of drought, continuing high temperatures and strong winds. 49 dead so far, over 100 fires still burning. Suspected arsonists arrested.

China: Typhoon Khanun brings heavy rainfall, flooding and landslides to the island of Formosa (Taiwan! Ed.) before heading across to Hong Kong – Guangdong and Hainan provinces – 114 kph winds and up to 520 mm (0.52 metres) rainfall causing major disruption, and on down into North Vietnam, still recovering from last week’s lethal floods and landslides that killed 70. Reports suggest it’s already dissipating, but:

Japan: Tropical Storm Lan is several hundred miles out northeast of the Philippines on a possible track for Japan and rapidly developing towards a typhoon with sustained windspeeds already of 70 mph. “The beginnings of an eye were apparent on microwave satellite imagery.”

Philippines:  “Heavy rain, strong winds and storm surge from TS Paolo have caused flooding in areas around Zamboanga, Mindanao. 1 dead, 12,000 people (2,448 families) displaced. Strong winds caused storm surge along coastal areas. Heavy rain also increased river levels in the area, causing further flooding. The Pasonanca Dam is at “critical” level. As of 18 October it stood at 76.10 metres, where normal level is 74.2”. (Edited report)

Thailand: central Bangkok was underwater on the 14th after torrential rain (worst in 25 years).

India: 5 dead as major flooding arrives in Bangalore. Local govt. officials slated for being out of town playing a game of cricket while rain-sodden citizens endured disruption to the city’s already crumbling transportation system.

Australia: Up to 208mm of rain fell over parts of Queensland on 16 Oct, causing flooding. One person dead. Heavy rain is continuing across parts of the state. A search is underway for a fishing boat missing with 6 crew. Bundaberg, subject to severe flooding last week, is also affected.

USA: cooler, calmer weather is helping the nearly 11 thousand firefighters battling 14 wildfires in the Santa Rosa, California region. The death toll still stands at 40, but with 154 missing, nearly 6 thousand homes and vineyards in the Napa Valley destroyed and 75 thousand-plus people homeless or evacuated.

Still no sign of Trump, too busy insulting grieving Gold Star service families. For God’s sake, someone in office put a bullet through his diseased brain and end this nightmare.

(Just noticed from a US TV news crawler, it was 96.8 deg. F (36C) in Phoenix, Az. yesterday. In mid-October. (But not the record: 2003 saw a 98 deg. C. high at this time of year. September was only the fourth hottest on record, but 168 record highs have been reported as opposed to just 17 record lows anywhere in the northern hemisphere this year. Sea ice-loss forecasts for the Arctic proved wrong, again – “The Arctic reached its lowest extent for the year on September 13, which was the eighth lowest extent on record. The five lowest Arctic sea ice extents were measured in September 2012, 2007, 2016, 2011, and 2015.”) However, ‘extent’ is not a measure of volume and is dependent on other feedbacks than temperature.

Puerto Rico: further tropical depression brings new flooding to Caguas province; town underwater.

Mexico: powerful flash flood hits Santiago Tuxtla, Veracruz. Over 400 properties damaged, nearly 40 homes destroyed; shortage of drinking water.

Spain: “Grazalema in Cádiz recorded 111.4 mm of rain in 24 hours between 17 and 18 October. (Most of it fell in a torrential one-hour period.) Images on social media showed flood water raging through streets of Jerez de la Frontera in Cadiz… (Several people had to be rescued from their cars.) The heavy rain also caused a major rockfall in the Serrania de Ronda, in the western part of province of Málaga (more landslides blocking roads).”

Serbia – ‘possibly disruptive’ heat warnings in force.

Ireland: Following on the heels of ex-Hurricane Ophelia five days ago, Subtropical Depression-about-to-become Atlantic Storm “Brian” is heading straight for the Irish Republic with 80 mph winds, high seas and heavy rain likely to batter the whole of the British Isles over the weekend.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #74/ Euronews/ RUPTLY/ Al Jazeera/ Wunderground/ Floodlist/ NOAA

 

End of Everything Update

Germany: a long-term scientific survey has found there has been a 78% decline in flying insects in the past 30 years; almost regardless of climate change.

“Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline,” said Prof Dave Goulson of Sussex University, UK, part of the team behind the new study. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”

USA: A number of smallish earthquakes – M1.5 to M2.3 were recorded in New York State and New Hampshire on 17 Oct by local and international agencies. Those earthquakes are still (10 pm 18 Oct) not showing on the US Geological Survey’s 24-hour updates and have presumably been CENSORED, as a) the eastern seaboard is not supposed to have earthquakes, and b) the earthquake activity was PREDICTED three days in advance by Michael Janich of St Louis, who vlogs regularly several times a day as ‘Dutchsinse’, and whose 80%-plus record of accurately predicting both the magnitude and location of earthquakes from global survey data has led to the USGS, which vehemently denies the possibility that earthquakes can be scientifically predicted, attempting to impose a blackout on his website, even at the expense of providing a full information service.

Just sayin’. (But if Yellowstone was about to blow, just consider if the USGS would tell anyone?)

Yellowstone: Swarms of M2.5+ earthquakes are continuing just outside the caldera at Soda Springs, Idaho and Lincoln Montana indicating magma still flooding horizontally into the chambers beneath the caldera. USGS under more criticism for failing to post significant quakes. Residents feel ‘constant vibrations’ coming from under the ground and are no longer bothering to report small earthquakes.

Nothing suggests that these are not serious indications of an impending eruption, since they seem to fit so precisely into the USGS’s own definition of what constitutes the right time to panic. They’re still reassuring the public that although we’re 40 thousand years overdue for another cyclical eruption, it can’t happen.

No need to remind you that a full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano will very likely bring the world’s economy crashing down and a ‘volcanic winter’ leading to drastic food shortages, with casualties in the millions.

The Greenhouse Effect: Did you ever run the 100 yards dash when you were at school? So you know how far 70 yards is, right? So, run 70 yards (if you still can). Now, turn 90 deg. left and run another 70 yards. Then again, turn 90 deg left and run another 70 yards – and finally, another 90 deg turn and another 70 yards.

So you’ve run a square with an outer perimeter of 280 yards without bumping into a building? Well done. The area inside the square is one acre.

Now, imagine 12 million of those acres.

That’s as much forest, farm and scrubland – trees, bushes and crops (a few thousand houses) – as has burned in wildfires in the USA this year.

You can add maybe two more millions for Canada – British Columbia had a record year for fires – then there’s Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, the Mediterranean islands (most of them), north Africa, Turkey, Croatia, Ukraine, Poland, Russia and the republics (Siberia had a record year for heat and wildfires) – even Greenland.

That’s just the northern hemisphere. Australia and South America have also had record wildfire years.

Now double it to count 2016’s total, and again for 2015, again for 2012 and worse for 2005.

All that burned vegetation has returned its stored CO2 to the atmosphere, millions and millions and millions of tonnes of it, and the latter years’ ‘biomass’ won’t be absorbing any more CO2 for at least a couple more years until it greens up again; only it’ll probably burn down again when it does.

See the problem?

 

Afterthought

And where do you come from?

American researchers are scratching their tousled or receding heads over the discovery that marriages created through online dating apps are both more stable and more likely to be of an interracial character. They just can’t think why.

For what it’s worth my suggestion is that it’s to do with the format of the encounter.

When you encounter a person of a different ‘race’ in the flesh, as it were (there is biologically speaking no such thing as ‘race’ as genetic differences lie on a continuous spectrum, but we’ll move on), cultural assumptions and associations are triggered automatically merely by their appearance, that immediately distance you from the other person and place self-imposed obligations on you to react in a conditioned way, whatever it may be.

Your reaction to meeting a person obviously of a different ethnic background is almost certainly either to become effusively over-polite, or to retreat into your shell: outwardly hostile or violent reactions to interracial encounters are very rare. You are unlikely to discover much about the Other from that first encounter; other, perhaps, than that they were ‘born here’….

But when you are in the safety and comfort of your own home or the wine bar browsing through photographs and self-descriptions and profiles and convoluted explanations and stories that are often warm and witty and perceptive and surprising and funny, you have time to adjust to the Other and are not required to be polite to an actual person merely for the sake of form, in case the cultural ‘difference’ should prove too much for both of you.

Online dating, then, is a passive-encounter format that encourages imaginative, wishful thinking, that can lead to experimentation, new freedoms and happy discoveries; or a rejection without the need for politeness and difficulty.

Difference can be negative – or positive.

Ask any 1.5 volt battery.

The Parade’s Gone By… Careless tweets cost lives… Granny W. with her skirts a blowin’ about her ears… Thursday’s Post under construction (because you had that the day before…)

“Golden words he will pour in your ear – But his lies can’t disguise what you fear – It’s the kiss of death – from Mister Goldfinger…” (Newley/Barry/Bricusse) (photo: twitter.com)

Since San Juan, Trumps approval rating has fallen to 32%.

 

“I am going to take my life in my hands and contend that the desire of a powerful man to have sex with an attractive young woman is entirely normal.”

The Parade’s Gone By

Forgive me for introducing this topic again, but I’m beginning to feel a little sorry for Harvey Weinstein.

I know, I know.

But look. A pretty starlet is invited to his room and he appears from the bathroom in a bathrobe. There’s a bit of leery, expectational stuff and she leaves. His PA apologizes. And this, about 20 years later, is described in the Guardian as the poor woman undergoing a terrifying ordeal. Do me a favour!

I experienced far worse assaults by dressing-gown at my British public-school in the 1960s.

What does anyone expect, being invited to the hotel room of a bigshot producer late at night? Many people, not just men still see sex in the classic literary terms of a game of ‘pursuit and conquest’. Whole websites exist only to enable people to copulate with a different partner every night; or to meet people with similar perversions – or just to watch.

But make an actual pass at someone… ho no, it’s jail time for you.

I’ve heard (women) interviewees expressing the ‘matronizing’ view that 22-year-old actresses are just vulnerable, unsuspecting children. And the preoccupation of the world’s media for days with this one obnoxious sex-pest, his dressing-gowns and his power complex, the ‘Savilization’ of Weinstein, the emergence from the woodwork of so many ‘victims’ – some of whom may have just cause, but have not gone public for twenty, thirty years – others possibly bandwaggon-jumping, expressing faux-outrage over their own inconclusive encounter with the Beast of Hollywood, explaining their career hiccup away as a result of offending Harvey, if that’s not too unfair, has made this one somewhat outlandish figure into a nightmarish symbol of patriarchal oppression – rather more than he deserves.

‘Harvey, the Movie’ cannot be far in the future.

Hollywood moguls have been doing this stuff since the days when no-one thought anything much of it; although now you might raise an eyebrow at the career-defining opportunities that went on, and the career-damage that might have greeted a spirited denial of facilities. Nevertheless, purely transactional sex does go on, the power-plays, the gold-digging, and not only in the movie business.

The time to say no is in the restaurant.

Yes, ‘Hurricane’ Harvey appears to have done some worse things. Forgetting to put the bathrobe on is one. I haven’t heard yet that he ever greeted a starlet in his room with his dick in his hand, publicly masturbating, as Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly is reported to have done with some of Murdoch’s more attractive soubrettes; as his boss, Roger Ailes, also reportedly did*. I shouldn’t be surprised, but ladies, that’s when a man is at his most vulnerable.

Nor has he seemingly murdered anyone. Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle was an inadequate man, a successful comic actor and film director from an abusive family background who ended up on trial in 1920 for the rape and murder of a starlet, Virginia Rappe. There had been a party, drugs, sex, illicit booze… Enormous quantities of shit were thrown, ambitious lawyers and politicians grandstanding for weeks, ‘witnesses’ extorting money, Hearst’s yellow press in full cry.

Nowadays it would be invidious to point to Rappe’s pretty terrible sexual history, the many abortions, the heavy drinking, the fucked-up life; the erratic testimony of witnesses, the lack of medical evidence of rape (the prosecution alleged that Arbuckle was impotent) and the endorsement of colleagues like Chaplin, who had known the 300-lb Arbuckle for years as a shrinking violet – whose own sexual conduct had not exactly been spotless. The cause of death was nothing more lurid than peritonitis, which the prosecution tried to put down to Arbuckle lowering his gross tonnage onto the poor girl. But there was no evidence. Arbuckle was acquitted, though his career never fully recovered.

Something similar happened to the mysteriously popular British entertainer and game show host, Michael Barrymore after Stuart Lubbock, 31, drowned in his swimming pool during a wild party in 2001. Problems with alcohol and press reports that the married Barrymore had come out as bisexual, together with evidence that Lubbock had had anal sex before death, created a whirlpool of suspicion and innuendo from which the host was unable to extricate himself for several years, at the cost of his career. Barrymore recently won a damages action against the local police.

Let’s face it, entertainers have egos. Why else would they be driven to parade themselves? The life of most actors is pretty frustrating: very few make it to the top and even fewer stay there. Most are insecure: they need to match themselves in real life with their heroic onscreen personas. They demonstrate their affairs publicly to prove how attractive they still are. As a British actor, the late Michael Bryant (a notorious shagger) once commented, if you were a heterosexual male in the British theatre, you had it made. There weren’t many of those to go round.

Does that presuppose a generalized abuse of patriarchal power? Because if so, it also denies women the power of their own sexuality, their needs and desires, and makes victims of them all. Predatory white middle-aged males are not always the problem: not many young soubrettes wanted to be alone around Coral Browne, or Marlene Dietrich. And I don’t suppose I’d like to be a young black woman involved in the rougher end of the rap music video scene; or who encountered Bill Cosby at the height of his career.

Showbiz is, to put it bluntly, about sex, and sexiness.

But there are now at least five allegations of actual rape against Weinstein, which he denies. If true, it is admittedly far more serious. It’s possible he was overpowering, violent, but it doesn’t yet sound like it. He seems from some testimony to have been amenable to being told he was a naughty boy and should stop. The impression given by the media, of an old man leering and leching over young women, is titivating – until you stop and realize that thirty years ago when this stuff seems to have started, he too was 30 years younger.

Let’s face it, Weinstein is no oil painting; maybe a Francis Bacon. He is probably the ugliest man ever. A caveman. That’s only judging from still photos – we don’t all look our best without that animated twinkle in our piggy eyes, the movement that catches the light or sets our massive jaw in a more attractive profile; the responses to other people, the power.

‘The smiles, the frowns, the upside-downs…’

Alfred Hitchcock was no oil-painting either; barely a pastel. But he had a rather tragic addiction to unavailable Nordic-blonde actresses and seems to have been just as unsuccessful at winning their hearts as Weinstein; not for lack of trying. Nor is there any suggestion that Weinstein tortured his victims, as Hitchcock did to Tippi Hedren, star of his overrated horror film, The Birds, when he relentlessly shot five days of unnecessary footage of her being attacked by hungry starlings until the blood ran down her pretty face, after she refused his advances in a taxi.

But Weinstein? Probably not. Although there are women no doubt who would see past the stubbly, prognathous jaw, the slobbery mouth, the piggy eyes, the hairy fat gut and the chubby white legs with (probably) unattractive stocking suspenders, to the sensitive millionaire movie producer beneath… women who marry very ugly men for a million reasons: power being one. Aristotle Onassis was no Adonis, but he owned a shipping line, he bagged Jackie Kennedy. And Weinstein had a very attractive British wife, a former model, who has now baled on him. Was she entirely unaware of his sexual predelictions? Did they matter, until the world’s media showed up?

This whole affair is taking on the dimensions of a pack of wolverines in pursuit of one fat, ugly, late-middle-aged, wealthy American Jew, probably grown as desperate for female approbation as Trump is desperate for actual voters, with an underdeveloped teenage Philip Roth-level appetite for having his pudding pulled, who through his own craven admissions and apologies and promises to take counselling and go to rehab and mend his terrible ways and do better in future has almost certainly terminated a career that produced many quite fine films – a stunning gaffe on the part of his PR people.

I introduce the word Jew advisedly, as there is an obvious antisemitic trope threading through the expanding field of opprobrium surrounding this poor, ugly schmuck, now known in the British tabloids as ‘The Beast’, whose intellect and strength of purpose are being essentially sacrificed to the new Puritanism, as redefined by the lexicon of abuse and victimhood, of ‘safe spaces’ and premarital pledges; a reaction to the dark side of human existence, which is never going to go away; nor can one quite see why it should.

The thing about Weinstein is, he was the best in class at playing the game: Bigshot Hollywood Producer. The lecherous stuff, the casual brutality, the payoffs with non-disclosure clauses – the disrespect for the legions of wannabes goes with that: it’s out of Central Casting. And now he’s taking the hit for all the others, and one is not allowed to express the slightest concern for him: the way James Corden and Woody Allen have been shredded for what seemed like prevarication is like watching Tippi Hedren being pecked to death by starlings.

I am going to take my life in my hands and contend that the desire of a powerful man to have sex with an attractive young woman is entirely normal, and this is a huge fuss about a badly behaved but very wealthy, entitled and well-connected slob who imagines women find him attractive without his bathrobe, but probably doesn’t care overmuch if they don’t. If the rape allegations prove true, well, I’ll take most of it back.

Tonight, in the wake of BAFTA’s withdrawal of his credentials, the Motion Picture Academy of America is debating expelling Weinstein from their honoured ranks and Macron is taking away his Legion d’Honneur. (Yes, he was that good. While being bad, of course.) Petitions are being got up, police reluctantly stirring their bones to start raking through the muck of many lives. Not, I venture to suggest, because of the unique nature of his sexual predation, which is pretty much par for the course in the movie business; but because they know, they just fucking know, that this kind of thing has been going on since the silent movies started in the 1910s, probably since showbiz began in the 17th century, and they’ve ignored it until they couldn’t any longer.

This is not about injured women: it’s about the Oscars, about their ‘reputation’ which is, as it should be, scandalous.

As for ‘Hurricane’ Harvey, well, if he wasn’t so shy and retiring and was more ambitious to save his nation from lousy trade deals, it could be him in the White House, the police would not be investigating his gropings, and even high-minded women with PhDs and housewives in Peoria would be voting for him to grab their pussies.

Just sayin’.

*Oh sorry, we now have an account of Weinstein jerking off into a plant pot. Oh well. It takes all sorts.

x

Commander-in-Brief

As a record number of wildfires break out (probably set deliberately – arrests have followed) in northern Portugal and the neighbouring Spanish province of Galicia, despite all his problems with Catalonia the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy is rushing to his native region to oversee the firefighting and rescue operations (more than 30 people have been killed, adding to the 65 who died in fires in central Portugal last July.)

To date there is no record of US ‘Commander-in-Chief’ Donald Trump being bothered even to express sympathy and solidarity with the people of northern California, where over 40 are confirmed dead and ‘hundreds’ remain missing after fires driven by hot, dry winds devastated whole communities, destroying over 5 thousand homes around Santa Rosa. He has merely rubber-stamped an order sending the overstretched and underbudgeted FEMA emergencies management administration swinging into helpless action.

Googling “Trump visit California” brings up only: “Donald Trump will attend a dinner with Friends of Abe, a group of Hollywood conservatives, during a stop in Los Angeles.” Oh, sorry, that was NBC in July 2015.

Santa Rosa. A Mexican name…

Or could it just be that Trump lost the Sunshine State by 4 million votes on 08 November 2016, and hates Californians?

x

“How aware is Trump that his more intemperate and vengeful messages are being amplified by hostile actors to bring his country down…?”

Careless tweets cost lives

The Pumpkin drew your attention last week to the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC and her summation of the latest media reports on the growing awareness of the extent of Russian interference in the US elections last year.

It’s clear the experiment goes on, as Tom McCarthy reports in the Guardian (Saturday 14th Oct):.

“What has now been made clear is that Russian trolls and automated bots not only promoted explicitly pro-Donald Trump messaging, but also used social media to sow social divisions in America by stoking disagreement and division around a plethora of controversial topics such as immigration and Islamophobia. And, even more pertinently, it is clear that these interventions are continuing…”

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/14/russia-us-politics-social-media-facebook

In case anyone shrugs and says, oh well, what do you expect? It’s just trolls and bots and stuff, political advertising isn’t illegal. No, at least it is if it’s paid for by a foreign government – hence the use of ‘dark money’ funneled into politicians’ PACs via untraceable shell companies and laundered through US property deals – but there’s evidence that Trump’s frankly infantile and increasingly delusionary tweets are acting as a trigger for Russian fake social media accounts to amplify his bizarre messages in order to deepen the divisions in US political discourse.

“…social media accounts linked with Russian influence operations appear to have taken cues directly and immediately from the @realdonaldtrump Twitter account, according to analysis by the Washington-based Alliance for Securing Democracy…”

And on Bannon’s advice, Trump is already fundraising for “Re-elect Trump 2020”. The campaign has already started.

One example given was the spat between the fatuous orange oaf and the beleaguered Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Julin Cruz, over the humiliating ineffectuality of the Commander-in-Chief’s failed aid operation in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria, with stories spreading on Facebook about failures by the authorities on Puerto Rico, that hadn’t happened. Similar agitprop followed Trump’s much criticized outburst about the NFL ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, calling San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick a ‘son of a bitch’ for refusing to stand for the national anthem.

How aware is Trump that his more intemperate and vengeful tweets are being amplified by hostile actors to bring his country down?

Indeed, was Trump not aware that Puerto Rico is an American dependency and that its residents have American citizenship? Not at first, it appears – hence, his contemptuously dismissive comments about them being a drain on the economy, how much worse had been the death toll from Hurricane Katrina (so with only 16 dead they should stop complaining), how they should pay back the money they owed America before he would support Congressional funding to improve their infrastructure, and how he ‘knew many Puerto Ricans’ whose migration to New York in the 1960s had ruined whole neighbourhoods.

If he is not completely ignorant about the status of Puerto Rico and its 3.5 million American citizens – many of them white – then the man is, in short, a racist fucking pig.

Does he understand that Facebook group pages such as Secured Borders, Texas Rebels, Being Patriotic, LGBT United and Blacktivists, specialist sites which put out a subtle mix of propaganda messages from fake accounts targeted at hundreds of thousands of real account holders identified as likely being either pro- or anti- the causes seemingly espoused, and which have been re-amplified to hundreds of millions of accounts, are all fake news – constructed by Russian intel operations?

Probably not. If he does, he’s a traitor and should be duly arraigned and jailed.

But apparently, it’s not against the law to conspire with a foreign state to rig your own election, provided of course you don’t tell the leader of that state in advance about your nuclear plans, or give away the intelligence secrets of your foreign allies…

Ooops.

But it appears the Russians aren’t the only ones playing Infowar-style games with the netizens of other countries. In a separate report, The Observer newspaper has been attempting to get to the bottom of a secret British campaign to influence Russian-speaking populations against the Putin regime in the border countries – Latvia. Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine. Populations who might, as in Ukraine, welcome Russian expansionist moves. And they’ve discovered it’s so secret, a Parliamentary oversight committee can’t even find out where it’s being conducted:

“Britain’s broader package of assistance to Ukraine, which is engaged not just in a bitter conflict with Russian-backed separatists but also a propaganda war with the Kremlin, included £2.4m to help the Kiev government improve its communications strategy. The Observer has established that the money came from the £1bn-plus conflict, stability and security fund (CSSF), a source so secret that a committee of senior MPs and peers meant to be scrutinising it have been denied access to the names of the 40 countries where it is spent.”

Meanwhile, British intelligence has been ‘confirming’ that Iran was behind a cyber attack on the emails of British MPs back in June. It was thought to have been a Russian or North Korean operation, but now the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is in the frame it will surely add fuel to Mr Trump’s anti-Iranian fire, in case British MPs are ever called upon to vote to go to war on his coattails.

We should note in passing, that since the Cameron government transferred the cost of running the BBC’s World Service broadcasts from the Foreign Office to the TV licence-payer in 2014, saving £46 million, the number of country-by-country services has been drastically reduced – North Korea among them. Now however it seems we’re ploughing £1 billion into a budget to transfer our black propaganda activities to the internet.

‘O tempora, O mores’, as someone once said. Boris Johnson, probably.

x has been tryhing to delve into a secret campaign Britain is running in the

Granny W. with her skirts a blowin’ about her ears…

 

Republic of Ireland: Three dead, property damage, tens of thousands without power after “ex-hurricane” Ophelia transits the entire island from SW to NE. US National Hurricane Center abandons attempt to track it as no storm has previously survived that far east as a hurricane in the Atlantic. Unusual ‘orange sunrise’ observed, owing to particles sucked from the Sahara and Portuguese wildfires. But it may not be over yet:

“A broad area of low pressure was located about 200 miles north of the Turks and Caicos Islands at noon Monday, and was headed north at about 15 mph. This system (92L) has the potential to develop into a tropical depression by Tuesday night as it moves near Bermuda. … long-range model runs predict that the remnants of 92L will be absorbed by a powerful extratropical low-pressure system later this week, which will go on to give Ireland another battering on Friday and Saturday, as a 960 mb low-pressure system.”

Antarctica: Only two Adelie penguin chicks have been spotted alive out of more than 40 thousand of this season’s hatchlings, owing to ice formation that has extended the normal foraging range for the adult birds by 100 km; while unusual amounts of rainfall have caused endemic hypothermia among the starving chicks. It’s the second time an entire hatch has been lost in the past four years, threatening the survival of the species*. Scientists are struggling to understand this counterintuitive weather pattern but suggest rapid ice melt on land and from the shelves is increasing the fresh water extent around the continent, fresh water freezing at a higher temperature than saline.

Autumn colours at Winston Churchill’s Blenheim Palace. (BBC)

UK: “The BBC weather report was presented by Sarah Keith-Lucas today who looked absolutely stunning in a plum jacket. Wrapping up her incredible figure in the outerwear, she stepped in for Carol Kirkwood and delivered the forecast from Hyde Park, London. The 35-year-old told viewers it will be a fairly cloudy start but temperatures will be on the rise.”

So clever! Not only is this the sort of antediluvian crap journalism we have to put up with from the Daily Express newspaper (the item was written by a woman), the forecast going on to promise drier, sunnier weather later on was spectacularly wrong! It’s been raining all day here in the West, overcast with continual drizzle punctuated by heavier showers. But as is often their way, on alternate days when there’s nothing rude to say about politicians who don’t want the hardest possible Brexit, the Excess is front-page forecasting the apocalypse on Monday when Hurricane Ophelia makes land.

Who knows what fetching colours editor Hugh Whittow (age 14 3/4) is wearing today.

On the subject of Autumn, having bogld extensively last Spring on the astonishing acceleration of biomass in our valley, I’ve been meaning to mention how early many of our trees have dropped their leaves without bothering first to look pretty. It’s nothing like Blenheim! Usually it takes a sharp frost to sever the axils of the leaves from the twigs, but there’s been no frost at all yet, it’s been unusually mild and it’s already mid-October. I suspect trees know when a windy Autumn storm threatens to blow them down if they don’t quickly shed some of that bulk.

*Here’s a modest proposal. Penguins need rocky foreshore to feed and breed, but the meltwater in the Antarctic continues to create too much ice. Polar bears need pack-ice to fish from but dry land to breed, and they’re drowning as the Arctic melts. Why not round up enough polar bears and penguins to create viable breeding colonies and transpose them: penguins to the Arctic and polar bears to the Antarctic, where the habitat remains suitable for each to thrive?

Vietnam: Following days of heavy rain and over 30 deaths (Sat: 54) due to a tropical depression, northern Vietnam is now in the path of Cat 1 typhoon Khanun, forecast to weaken slightly to a tropical depression by the time it makes landfall on Tuesday.

Philippines: one dead as main Luzon island battered by Tropical Storm Odette bringing strong winds and heavy rain.

Thailand: large areas of Chiang Mai city and the capital, Bangkok, underwater due to heavy rains.

Bolivia: Massive hailstorm batters Sucre. City streets turn to surging rivers of ice, etc. State of emergency declared.

Portugal: “…hundreds of wildfires (fanned by strong winds from passing Hurricane Ophelia) have forced residents to flee from towns and villages in the country’s worst weekend of the year – more than 500 fires broke out on Sunday, most suspected deliberately set. The national civil protection authority said 27 people had been killed in central and northern Portugal; three people have been reported dead in northern Spain. The death toll is likely to rise.” (Edited report)

Portugal and Canary Islands both experiencing record high temperatures for October, around 37C, 98F. Midday temperatures in the eastern USA, SE Australia, Saudi Arabia (40C, 102F), west central Africa, central China and up in the Arctic remain anomalously high for the time of year. UK temperatures also in the mid-20sC, high for the time of year, and setting record nighttime levels up to 17C (62F).

BBC News/ Wikipedia/ Weather Underground/ Climate and Extreme Weather News #73/ The Guardian

 

I am somewhat put out

The BBC’s excellent new Sunday-night drama series, The Last Post is set in Aden in 1965, at the time of a local rebellion against the British occupation.

The sun sets on the Empire. (Thesun.co.uk)

I was, I confess, 15 years old at the time, a recalcitrant teenage schoolboy. I didn’t have much notion of what young conscripts not much older than myself were getting up to in far-flung corners of the British empire, but the stuffy, rectitudinal attitudes and stiff upper-lips ring true, as does the somewhat matey relationships between the NCOs and enlisted men and the officers stranded on their army base, with only alcohol, smoking, adultery with the officers’ wives and leisuretime at the ‘BP Club’ to relieve the monotony – until some tribal blows your head off from 300 yards and vanishes into the endless desert.

Anyway, 1956 and the Suez debacle did eventually put an end to all that, and by the time I left school both conscription and capital punishment had been abolished and the Sexual Offences Act introduced. Saved by the bell. While the contemporary music that threads through the episodes – Dusty Springfield, Ketty Lester – and the furniture whose reproductions 50 years later I have been acquiring to improve my little cottage, ’60s retro being fashionable now, have immediate resonance with me. It’s all part – a small part, nevertheless a part – of my makeup.

Which is why I’m somewhat put out to see that The Last Post is listed on the iPlayer catch-up service under ‘Period Drama’…. Is that me now?

Period?

 

 

 

America, You’re Fired!… Is this really as bad as it gets?… Granny Weatherwax says: Welcome to October… End of the World News.

Postscriptum, 12 Oct: California fires – over 500 missing, 23 confirmed dead – 3,500 homes burned, 170 thousand acres. Puerto Rico: 4 deaths reportedfrom water-borne disease as FEMA relief efforts flounder. Overall death toll from Hurricane Maria may be much higher than thought – “350 bodies counted in morgues”.

“Let’s see Little Rocket Man hit a par-64!” Emperor Sneero golfs while California burns and Puerto Rico rots. (AOL.com)

“…the campaign was run across all the main platforms, Google being the latest to ‘fess up, and that natural cross-medialization between networks had a ‘firestorm’ effect, resulting in hundreds of millions of views on personal media accounts.”

America, You’re Fired!

I make no apology for once again pointing you to a segment of the Rachel Maddow Show on America’s leading cable news channel, MSNBC. (Link below)

On Tuesday, 10 October Maddow led on the sudden outbreak over the weekend of devastating wildfires in heavily populated areas of northern California, whipped up by hot, dry winds. (There’s also one threatening Disneyland at Anaheim in the south.) While there have been serious wildfires burning all over the western USA since late June, costing billions of dollars in damage, right up into northern Canada where they had an unprecedented heatwave and a record wildfire season for British Columbia, these appear to be of a different order, as whole suburbs have been burned out (see below) and many people are dead or missing.

Fanned by 50 mph winds, fires quickly spread. (sacbee.com)

While the President – mindful of his predecessor-but-one, George W Bush’s gaffe over New Orleans – has made teeth-grindingly forced-looking efforts to drag himself off the golf course with his stony-faced wife to spend an hour or two meeting relief officials working in hurricane disaster zones, helpfully chucking packs of paper towels at the victims, he has yet to take the slightest notice of other, possibly worse environmental catastrophes unfolding in his country this summer – other than to continue with his insane attempts to rollback Obama’s environmental protections.

The California fires story even made the BBC main news, which you might not expect as they’ve been ignoring extreme weather events all summer, reporting only on those where they’ve got correspondents or can cheaply send a reporter; where Britons are involved, as in the South of France, or where the death toll, as in the Freetown, Sierra Leone landslip that killed 1,300 people, can’t be ignored. Perhaps the shock news that extensive damage has been done to the Napa Valley vineyards might have played-in to the BBC news agenda?

Mostly, wildfires have been burning in more remote scenic areas; national forests, mountainous regions. They’re happening all over the world, of course; even in Greenland, but with greater intensity and frequency, over longer seasons, as the effect of Arctic warming has been to weaken the jetstreams, causing weather systems to slow or stall, ensuring that drought conditions hang around longer. And this year hasn’t quite yet set new records for acreage burned, or the number of reported outbreaks.

It’s at 3’45” in to the program, however, that you absolutely have to start watching, because that’s where Maddow turns her attention to the newly-released flood of reports on exactly what the Russians got up to during the 2016 election, and why it’s so important.

It appears that Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, was warned as long ago as July 2016 that Russian agents were busy buying advertising space on his platform; yet he appears to have done nothing about it. Facebook continued to vehemently deny the story until last month, when they reluctantly accepted that ‘Russian accounts’ were responsible for maybe ‘$100 thousand’ of revenue, a drop in the bucket. Twitter on the other hand is refusing to say anything.

Now we know, however, that the campaign was run across all the main platforms, Google being the latest to ‘fess up, and that natural cross-medialization between networks had a ‘firestorm’ effect, resulting in hundreds of millions of views on personal media accounts, micro-targeting anti-Hillary/Bernie propaganda ads and YouTube video clips at individuals, promoting ‘false-front’ organizations stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment and even organizing demonstrations. Much of this embarrassing stuff was quietly taken down by the major players and reporters have had difficulty getting access to it, but enough evidence remains to show the breathtaking extent of the Russian penetration.

The Russians were exploiting the entire rationale for these sites, that their revenue is derived not from ad sales, but from the capture, analysis and resale of personal data. By tapping into that process, they were able to create a wall-to-wall impression through ‘retweets’ and ‘Likes’ and fake accounts in personal media of a widespread opposition movement to the Clinton campaign that never really existed; even recruiting Nigerian filmmakers and actors to impersonate a pro-Trump groundswell among black Americans.

This all ties in to the second in a series of three hour-long BBC documentaries by the investigative reporter, Jacques Perretti, about the ‘billion-dollar deals’ underlying the construction of a new world order, which I strongly suggest if you haven’t seen it that you watch.

(Please join me in a petition to ask Jacques not to wear that godawful quarter-sleeved black T-shirt and grubby, skin-tight jeans in his interviews, often with important people. It’s demeaning, disrespectful – a thoroughly bad look – and the constant views of his hairy, gibbon-like arms and muscular buttocks, combined with his distressing shaving cuts are pretty offputting to people with delicate sensibilities. This is not what HD was invented for.)

Now, I’m going to be the first person to take the knee and say, hand on heart, I’m not entirely convinced that Trump and his campaign baboons need necessarily have been aware of the true extent of this conspiracy, or were even behind it. I think the Russians would have done this anyway, as an experiment and to show that they could.

Collect all the cards and win a Virgin Island… Veselnitskaya, Trump Jr and the gang (NBC News)

Frankly, much of the propaganda was pretty inept and the grammar a little wonky. I think it was just the start of a global campaign of disinformation causing disruption to Western liberal democratic institutions sponsored by the Kremlin and Russian intelligence, that was going on anyway; and the fact that they hooked into the Trump campaign – itself a massively disruptive force, with its backing from the nihilistic ‘alt-right’ Breitbart set – was mainly fortuitous.

Of course, the mini-moron Donald Trump Jr and his dad would have welcomed any support, and in their own little Trumpworld filter-bubble would have had little concern for the idea that they were participating in a subversive, anti-American plot. As far as Trump Sr was concerned he had Russian business contacts, Russian mafia backing for his failing developments, a longstanding ambition to do Trump hotel deals and build golf courses in Russia – he owed Russian banks $millions, the near-bankrupt Kushner needed in on the scam as well – why wouldn’t he accept a little help for his Presidential campaign from the Russians?

It was all part of the bigger deal, and with his experience of Russian politics, money-movement through offshore shell companies and his connections among the oligarchs, Manafort was the ideal guy to run the operation, which is why Trump had him drafted in at a late stage in the campaign, alongside Flynn, without realizing that his new manager was already under investigation for money-laundering and that Flynn’s firing by Obama had been a security issue involving breaches of the Logan Act (banning non-governmental agents from negotiating with foreign powers) and long-term failures by both men to register their lucrative lobbying businesses as foreign agents with Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian clients, as required by law.

The preponderance at the notorious Trump Tower, 9 June ‘Veselnitskaya’ meeting of both Russian and American specialists at hiding and moving ‘dark money’ suggests to the BogPo that this was the meeting at which Russian support for the election campaign was confirmed and accepted, and methods discussed of paying under-the-radar for the purchase of US media and influencers.

But I don’t think Trump would have been entirely apprised of the full extent of what the Russians were proposing, when they decided – possibly even at that meeting, or shortly before – to swing their wider campaign of disrupting Western democratic institutions and the neoliberal consensus behind his bid for the White House. This operation had all already been set up.

Nor do I imagine Mr Putin, or whoever is running the campaign for him, was entirely convinced he was backing the right horse; nevertheless, it was worth a try as he hated Clinton even more; and he already had the ‘kompromat’ on Trump (as per the Steele dossier), the leverage of his Russian debts; and enough on members of his team that might buy him, for instance, relief from sanctions.

Since – much to Putin’s discomfiture – Congress refused to lift sanctions, and barred Trump from acting unilaterally, you may notice a lot more dirt has been coming out in the wash, with daily better confirmation of the Steele dossier.

Tsk. When thieves fall out…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4SgPt4amnE

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b097rqr4/billion-dollar-deals-and-how-they-changed-your-world-series-1-2-money

x

“I may have been the only protestor there in gold brocade ‘loon pants’ and a very expensive roll-collar silk shirt by Mr Fish”

Is this really as bad as it gets?

In the Spring of 1968 I marched, twice, in a crowd of many thousands to Grosvenor Square, home of the US embassy in London, to protest the Vietnam war.

Until now I hadn’t the slightest idea why, it just seemed like the thing to do at the time. And as my flatmates were going I tagged along, managing to avoid the minor violence that generally accompanied protests in those days. Those, that is, not in Paris – or Prague, where the Soviet Union was cracking down brutally on Alexander Dubcek and his liberalization movement.

I may have been the only protestor there in gold brocade ‘loon pants’ and a very expensive roll-collar silk shirt by Mr Fish. I was 18, and a student at film school, with a part-time vacation job as a pool attendant in Chelsea. That July was the hottest I can remember, the temperature at night never seemed to fall much, and I was ardently pursuing a young lady who lived in a top-floor flat in a brownstone near Queen’s Park, that had access to the roof where we spent nights under the stars, glugging a fairly inexpensive wine by Charles Kinloch.

One of a number of iconic images that brought the futility and brutality of the war home to middle-America. (photo: CNN)

I say ‘until now’, because the horrible war was at the time so far away and beyond our experience, mediated through the press. British TV news was not showing the more difficult footage American audiences were getting night after night. The Wilson government probably wisely refused to get dragged into it, so that I never had to make those choices: to serve, probably as a conscript ; or become a conscientious objector, a draft resister without really knowing what the war was about and why anyone was fighting. It seemed only that America was the bully and that carpet-bombing Northern cities and neutral countries was an obscenity, Communists or not.

Up to half a million American GIs were dragged into it, and over 82 thousand died. Almost three million Vietnamese were killed, many of them South Vietnamese supposedly on the American side, in atrocities committed by friend and foe alike. Nevertheless, despite attritional losses and lack of airpower the North was able to chip away at the perceived colonialist presence and mount occasional costly spectaculars, such as the Tet offensive of 1968, that played badly in the neatly-kept homes of midtown USA as the flag-draped coffins kept coming back.

That vile war was to prove in the end an utter humiliation for the USA, for the ever-optimistic – and then, the over-optimistic President Lyndon Johnson and his Secretary of State, Robert McNamara, neither of whom was still in post by the end, as neither was General William Westmoreland, of whom it can be charitably said only that he probably did his duty to the Pentagon, but not to his men, ordered into ludicrous and suicidal missions time and again merely to save face, to aggrandize the all-important ‘body-count’ and to keep up the pretence of ultimate victory with the increasingly desperate inhabitants of the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, back home as the opposition to the war grew against a background of civil rights campaigns, the LSD-fuelled ‘summer of love’ turned to university occupations, police crackdowns, National Guard militia on the streets and the Detroit riots, that killed 46 people and spread across the nation in the wake of the assassination (almost certainly ordered by FBI Director Hoover) of Martin Luther King Jr; followed not long afterward by the shooting of the popular anti-war presidential candidate, Bobby Kennedy, supposedly over his support for Israel by a demented Jordanian, Sirhan Sirhan (now on his 15th parole application).

Looking at the USA now, despite the unbelievably rotten and chaotic administration, the profound corruption of the Washington ‘swamp’, of which Donald J Trump seems to be the ultimate patsy; the incompetence and nepotism, the absurdly childish tweeting and continual vainglorious boasting, the expressions of support for militant racists, the narcissistic infantilism of the President – a mid-size property speculator and ‘mock-tycoon’ reality TV show host with the brutal instincts of an old-time mobster and no political experience on the Hill, who can’t get his madder legislation passed, who refuses to take advice, knows the job is completely beyond him yet cannot resist fucking everything up, to the point where people are fearful he may kick-off a third World War; the old faultlines his presidency has been opening up in society, his contempt for racial minorities and the poor….

Despite all that, can we really say it’s as bad now as it was, back in 1968 – or anything like?

If you’re not certain, can’t remember or are just too young, Ken Burns’ triumphant documentary series, “Vietnam”, now running on the BBC, must be compulsory viewing. Don’t miss any of it, if you want to see how a global power can just implode under the weight of its own hubris and the incompetence of its leaders.

And then recover.

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“Does President Kim need to bother jacking-up his nuclear arsenal, when the climate will take care of America for him?”

Granny Weatherwax says: Welcome to October

USA: Tropical Storm Nate brings major flooding, after “at least 30” dead in floods and landslides in Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador. Oil and gas production shut down as it barrels at 25 mph towards the US Gulf Coast as Cat 1/2 hurricane, pushing a 6ft storm surge. Misses New Orleans, floods Biloxi Ms. Later reported dispersing with heavy rain up the east coast into New York state, almost 1ft of rain falling in North Carolina.

Coffey Park suburb, Santa Rosa, after the wildfire. Does President Kim need to bother? (Twitter)

California: 17 people killed, over 100 injured, 150 still “missing”, 1,500 buildings including entire communities ‘destroyed’, 20 thousand evacuated as “tens of thousands of acres” including many vineyards affected by “at least 14” wildfires that broke out Sunday in the Napa Valley, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. National Weather Service has issued a warning for the San Francisco area that “any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly” as dry, windy conditions persist.

Does President Kim need to bother jacking-up his nuclear arsenal, when the climate will take care of America for him? And where was the lazy, fatuous oaf, Trump, while this was happening? Playing golf, naturally.

Up to 30-inches of snow falls on Montana – heaviest snowstorm “since 1914”. 10 thousand without power. Winter storm warnings for up to 1ft of snow around Denver, Colorado – meanwhile the Autumn heatwave continues over the southeastern states with temperatures up into the high 80s.

Germany: Storm Xavier brings strong winds, torrential rain, kills 7 in the far north of Germany. Storm surge floods Hamburg, Wilhelmshaven. 2 dead in neighboring Poland, 8 firefighters injured. Local severe weather alerts for ‘disruptive’ thunderstorms are in place for the whole of southern Italy, Oct 9/10. Autumn heatwave continues in Portugal, where more fires have broken out, this time in Pampilhosa da Sierra region.

Norway: Torrential rain causes severe flash-flooding and river overflow around Kristiansanhed. Much property damage.

China: new flooding, landslides and rain damage has been reported in the provinces of Anhui, Henan, Hubei, Chongqing, Sichuan and Shaanxi – 23 dead, 5,000 homes destroyed. Engineers warning of relief efforts at the Three Gorges dam causing more flooding downstream. Still raining.

India: More flooding affecting Assam state: the fourth wave of flooding since the Brahmaputra river overflowed on 02 June. 78 thousand people affected. 4 dead. Power failure as central Hyderabad underwater. 48 hours more rain forecast.

Indonesia: Pangandaran, West Java underwater after heavy rains. River overflows. 4 dead.

Vietnam: “Torrential rain brought by a tropical depression has caused landslides and floods (12 Oct), leaving 37 dead, 40 missing – 21 in Hoa Binh, many of them in landslide. Eleven people have also been reported missing in Yen Bai Province. 17,000 houses flooded, over 200 homes have collapsed. 20,000 acres of paddy fields destroyed and around 1,200 heads of cattle and over 30,000 poultry drowned.” (edited report)

Australia: Heavy rainfall on the 5th inundates Bundaberg, Queensland. Bureau of Meteorology sources, said “the Wide Bay city had received more than 340mm rain on Monday, breaking a 64-year record by more than 60mm”.

Brazil: San Bernardo del Campo, Sao Paolo – massive ice storm. Buildings brought down, streets turn to rivers of ice.

Mexico: Tropical Storm Ramon (not reported on Weather Underground?) brings new flash-flooding to Oaxaca and Tamaulipas provinces: Altamira and Tampico underwater, 2 dead, 18,000 evacuated. More ‘torrential’ storms forecast.

Argentina: powerful hailstorm batters Corrientes. Cars damaged.

South Africa: Huge storm, tornadoes strike Johannesburg on 9 Oct. 8 dead, many injuries, shopping mall trashed, 150 homes destroyed. Electricity substation knocked out, large areas without power. Hailstones literally the size of tennis-balls. In Durban, a powerful storm-cell raises hurricane-force winds with torrential rain bringing flash-floods to large parts of the city and environs. Coastal storm surge washes away cars; “autoggeddon” inland as busy roads become rivers under up to 5 ft of water. The storm moves on to Pietermaritzburg, where a man is swept away and drowned.

Atlantic: Out in mid-Atlantic and unlikely to threaten landfall other than possibly in the Azores, is a new Tropical Storm, Ophelia, that’s forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane. If and when it does, it will be the C19th-record-equalling tenth TS to become an Atlantic hurricane this year, with six weeks to go before the ‘end of the season’ (whatever that implies in this new record-setting year!).

Postscriptum: the UK Met Office is warning that Ophelia is on track to graze northern Portugal and Galicia in the next 48 hours and make direct landfall in southwest UK and southern Ireland as a Tropical Storm, Monday. Meanwhile, 11 Oct: “Heavy rain in northern England caused flooding and disruption in parts of Cumbria. The Environment Agency said that some areas recorded 211 mm of rain in 24 hours.”

Another system that developed to the SW of Ophelia has a 20% chance of deepening into a Tropical Depression before running into the Bahamas. If it strengthens over warmer water to a Tropical Storm it will be known as Philippe.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #71, #72 citing AP, Euronews, Ruptly, TOI, etc./ BBC News/ Floodlist/ 13News Now/ Weather Underground

On the slide… Rumbling Cumbre Vieja threatens US east coast with giant waves. (Hellocanaryislands.com)

End of the World News

Yellowstone update: “far from normal” M3.2 earthquake activity continuing outside the caldera in Idaho at Soda Springs and in Montana near Lincoln. The “swarm” that has been going on in the park since 12 June with up to 60 quakes a day and continuing harmonic tremors is officially the longest on record.

La Palma: The Cumbre Vieja ridge now swims back into the focus of millennarians as more than 40 tremors up to M2.7 have been recorded in the past 48 hours under the Canary Islands volcano, whose western flank is generally thought to be unstable. Earthquake swarms are said not to be very common there. A 5 km section is expected at some stage to fall into the Atlantic, causing a mega-tsunami that modelling suggests threatens the East Coast of the USA with a 120-foot wave penetrating up to 12 miles inland, also spreading up the African coast to reach western and even northern areas of Europe, with up to 35 ft waves hitting the south coast of the UK.

BBC Science & Nature website has this: “Don’t worry, it’s not going to happen tomorrow… scientists are predicting … the collapse is likely to happen any time within the next few thousand years. Scientists also know that a collapse will not happen without any warning. They will be able to alert people to possible danger several weeks in advance.” Which is all very well, except there is virtually no monitoring going on at Cumbre Vieja and the collapse, it is estimated, will take just 90 seconds, giving the US 5 hours’ warning.

Also, “scientists” are NOT able to predict volcanic eruptions with any degree of certainty, as is shown by events in Indonesia. A general alert was issued in relation to Mount Agung on Bali a fortnight ago, and 110 thousand people evacuated. But while the ominous rumblings go on, not a lot else seems to have been happening.  “Mount Agung was hit by 73 shallow earthquakes, 135 deep volcanic quakes and nine local tremors between midnight and 6am local time today. Thick white smoke was observed rising about 200m above Mount Agung’s crater, according to Bali’s Geological Agency.” When or if the sacred mountain will blow, however, no-one seems able to say.

You have been warned!

Mary Greeley/ USGS/ BBC Science & Nature/ Express.co.uk

The Pumpkin – Issue 33: Guns – the tired old debate cranks up again… ‘A 64-year-old retired accountant’… Is he a terrorist?… ‘Let them eat towels’…. Granny W. : Your windswept old gal in a bus shelter

Now that’s all blown over I’m asking Greg Norman to build Puerto Rico the bigliest new beautiful golf course! (Photo montage: waragainstallpuertoricans.com)

 

“It scarcely helps that the President himself utters bloodcurdling threats of mass violence…”

Guns – the tired old debate cranks up again

As the President who mysteriously switched in a heartbeat last year from being pro-gun control to being pro-gun, and was then elected to office, mouthed the stiff platitudes copywritten for him by an aide, offering ‘warm condolences’ to the families of the victims as if their elderly Labradors had passed away in their sleep, and promised by omission to do absolutely nothing to upset the gun lobby, a performance repeated on a semi-monthly basis, the tired old debate about guns and Americans was cranking up yet again.

There have been only two days in the last twelve months when there has not been a ‘mass shooting’ incident (defined as four-plus dead) in the USA, yet the rustic dumbfucks and Republican shills for the arms industry go on defending their ‘right’ to buy and bear arms, and to blow people away if need be, defending themselves against other idiots with guns; while the urban liberals and Democrats go on pleading for ‘something’ to be done, even though they know it’s hopeless and that nothing now will make a difference, short of wholesale disarmament.

The face of America today: mild-mannered accountants on vacation.

It scarcely helps that the President himself utters bloodcurdling threats of mass violence against individuals and indeed, whole civilian populations; encourages his supporters in violent acts, refuses to condemn white nationalist outrages and refers to his vast military arsenal as ‘great big, beautiful weapons’. The man is obviously unhinged, we have all known it for many months, many alarmed psychiatrists agree, but there he still squats, like a smug orange toad on your democracy.

With 300 million guns in the hands of 150 million American owners, the horse has already bolted and no amount of heaving at the stable door is going to prevent the next act of self-declamatory public mass-murder, in a country where over 30 thousand people are killed each year, and God knows how many tens of thousands wounded, in shooting incidents; and where so many well-armed people feel unnoticed, disenfranchised and unrewarded by life in that competitive, acquisitive, dog-eat-dog society, where a gun feels and smells like power.

The Second Amendment does not in fact guarantee the absolute right of every American to buy, own and carry down the street, to school or a movie, a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle capable of mildly illegal modification with a mail-order device costing $99 to fire repeated rounds automatically, let alone a .32 calibre Saturday-night Special, an Abrams tank or a rocket grenade-launcher.

While the right to own a firearm at all was not in contest, in 2008 the District of Columbia lost its argument in the Supreme Court that it might in general prevent a certain Mr Heller owning a gun regardless of whether or not he belonged to a militia, which was ruled not to be an actual condition despite the clear wording of the Amendment. Nevertheless, special laws restricting gun ownership were held to be permissible, in the famous 5-4 majority ruling by Judge Anthony Scalia:

“The Court stated that the right to keep and bear arms is subject to regulation, such as concealed weapons prohibitions, limits on the rights of felons and the mentally ill, laws forbidding the carrying of weapons in certain locations, laws imposing conditions on commercial sales, and prohibitions on the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. It stated that this was not an exhaustive list of the regulatory measures that would be presumptively permissible under the Second Amendment.” (Library of Congress)

The apologists for and defendants of the National Rifle Association, which stubbornly represents the hugely profitable interests of the arms manufacturers and dealers and stuffs the mouths of corrupt politicians with blood-money, have never seemingly accepted that, unlike, for instance, owning a swimming-pool, gun ownership should be subject to any form of control; and unfortunately, the Scalia ruling was amended by a minority judgement to allow individual States to go on making their own rules, so that in some recent perverse court judgements neither the mentally ill, nor previously convicted criminals, can be deprived of the right to carry a gun openly in the street.

The laws in Nevada are notoriously lax, although in this case the man purchasing the guns was, says the dealer, subject to standard FBI checks. Thus, ’64-year-old retired accountant’ Stephen Paddock, a man with no prior convictions, who owned two private aeroplanes and a large collection of weapons no-one close to him seems to have known he even had, was able perfectly legally to carry ten suitcases full of rifles and ammunition to the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel, from where after a week in residence (it’s usually a week) he poured down fire indiscriminately onto a crowd of concertgoers, killing (thus far) 59 and wounding 530 others, before taking his own strangely quiet life.

Police are, say the media, at a loss to understand why he did it. There was absolutely no indication: no note, nothing on social media where he seems to have had no presence, no ‘manifesto’, no neighbourly or family suspicions.

He was white, middle-aged, a non-Muslim. He had plenty of money, a girlfriend, a home. He was a major shareholder in a Dallas condominium, from which he derived rental income. He gambled regularly for high stakes; it does appear that prior to his breakdown he had been gambling up to 20 thousand dollars a day, but was not especially known to have big losses. Was that recklessness with his money a sign of impending chaos, an empty gesture, a deliberate throwing away of everything he had gained, but not his self-regard?

Madness in his eyes: Alex Jones of InfoWars. (photo: Arstechnica.com)

Nor was he known to have particularly strong views on politics, race or religion (ISIS has of course claimed ownership of the incident, but no-one is believing them.) Nor was he suspected of any mental illness, although the alt-right agitprop websites and 4chan trolls are trying to claim without a shred of evidence that he was a fanatical liberal lefty anti-Trump protester and a member of Antifa, the anti-fascist pressure group. Alex Jones, a man with such madness burning in his eyes you instinctively want to sedate him, is using his InfoWars site (as approved by President Trump) to blame the Washington Deep State and their Islamic allies; while The Deplorables Army, a Trump dumbfucks’ website, has already established beyond doubt that Hillary Clinton was behind it.

The Pumpkin has no problem in believing, for want of any other explanation, that Stephen Paddock was, if you like, the ultimate expression of the American way of life: a moderately successful but perhaps secretly disappointed man who had reached retirement age and saw ahead only a future of Bingo games and bridge rubbers with elderly divorcees at his dreary suburban retirement park. A private and introverted individual by all accounts, he perhaps saw in the secret stashing-away of an arsenal of lethal weapons, the power and control he lacked over the enviable or detestable lives of others. The degree of detailed control over his lethal operations, including the placing of webcams in the hotel to check on the arrival of the police, is especially chilling.

Had he possibly had a fatal diagnosis, of Alzheimer’s or cancer, perhaps? And decided in his introverted fashion, Pharaoh-like, to take as many others with him as he could – especially young people, whose unfinished lives he must have resented? Was there possibly some mental defect buried in the family history? The Paddocks’ father had at one time robbed banks and was hunted down (briefly, as an escaped fugitive from gaol, America’s Most Wanted) and arrested by the FBI, and diagnosed as a ‘psychopath’ with ‘suicidal tendencies’ – so why wouldn’t one of his three sons have inherited the same condition?

Or maybe he just didn’t like country music, who knows. Perhaps we shall never know.

The words ‘a 64-year-old retired accountant’ probably say it all.

 

Postscriptum: A US report says the average charge to the victim for being admitted by ambulance to a hospital emergency care ward with a gunshot wound is $96 thousand, not including the longterm rehabilitation and therapy that most gunshot victims need.

It is, in short, probably better if you live in America that you should be killed outright than spend your life in pain and debt over something that wasn’t your fault. (And let’s not forget the insane attempts by Trump to take away health insurance cover from 32 million Americans, just because it’s being administered under an Obama program.)

 

Is he a terrorist?

The Guardian reports that the FBI defines terrorism thus:

 “…an intent to “intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”.

So, is Donald John Trump a terrorist?

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Mr. Trump told reporters in remarks aired on television and broadcast around the globe. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” – The Telegraph

“When a reporter asked the president about his threatening “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said “maybe it wasn’t tough enough.” Followed by “maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough” and “if anything, that statement may not be tough enough.”- New York Times

“The US has great strength and patience,” Trump said. But he added: “If it is forced to defend ourselves or our allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. … Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” – The Guardian

“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” – @realdonaldtrump tweet, 

Well, so’s the other guy:

“In an unprecedented statement on Friday, Mr Kim described Mr Trump as a ‘mentally deranged dotard’ whom he would tame with fire.

He said North Korea would consider the ‘highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history’ against the United States and that Mr Trump’s comments had confirmed his nuclear programme was ‘the correct path'”. – The Telegraph

If you or I did this stuff, we’d be pulled in for questioning. Who put these two self-obsessed, power-drunk playground bullies, with their tiny genitals and abusive fathers, in charge of the store?

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“Now we just shrug and ask, what do we expect?”

Let them eat towels

Trump reminds me of the famous stunt rider, Evel Knievel. He’s constantly trying to raise the bar on his own stupidity, steadily increasing the number of buses he needs to jump his motorcycle over before he breaks his fat orange neck in the full glare of publicity.

The Commander-in-Chief mops up the mess in Puerto Rico (Businessinsider.com)

Two weeks after the event, here was Trump finally making landfall in remote Puerto Rico on a carefully managed four-hour mercy tour of selected safe parts of the island in which he saw almost none of the devastation and met none of the hardest-hit victims in the hinterland, to explain why they still have no water or electricity, functioning transportation, roads, food and medical care, or even a roof over their heads, as the known number of dead climbs from 16 to 34.

The images of Trump, a big man, towering over a hangar-full of simpering media folk and handpicked, scrubbed-up local Republicans, chucking packs of paper towels at them as if they were monkeys in a zoo, grinning and constantly praising himself for his ‘A-plus’ efforts at spending Federal funds on what even his leading Army general on the ground is complaining is the utterly inadequate response to the double-hurricane disaster, comparing it airily with Hurricane Katrina, which was handled far worse and caused lots more brown people to die, were just repellent.

And at the press conference he continued to blame the lazy victims for not doing enough to help themselves, and to whine about the criticism of his administration, and the cost of the clear-up, and the unfairness of blaming him, and how great everyone said he was doing. Where were the local truck drivers? He demanded to know, why weren’t they distributing the masses of aid piling up on the dockside? Meanwhile, the Mayor of San Juan, who had been wading around in waist-high water for days overseeing rescue and recovery, was muzzled and sidelined and abused as a ‘poor leader’ for daring to criticize a man – a moronic sack of shit, depending on your viewpoint –  who has clearly confused himself with the United States of America – a rapidly disintegrating empire on the far edge of nowhere.

Six months ago it would have been shocking to see the President of the United States behaving like that. Now we just shrug and ask, what do we expect? The coverage prompted at least one contributor on MSNBC to voice what we’re all feeling: we’re sick and tired of hearing and watching this horror show, this malevolent oaf doing mindless, clumsy, brutally incompetent stuff like this every damn day.

Coming on top of his insincere speechwritten response to the Las Vegas massacre, the nauseating religiosity, the ‘warm condolences’, the brushing aside of concerns over the lack of legal gun controls that might have mitigated the horror of Paddock’s elaborately staged suicide, how can there any longer be any rational argument for Republicans allowing him to remain in office a minute longer?

Or is it just that he makes them look good?

“…the majority of people in Puerto Rico remain without clean water, the electricity grid is inoperable, cell towers are down, roads are impassable, food is rotting, and many of the elderly and the sick have been left without care. All of this is happening in America, rather than some place distant from this country. But instead of emphasizing that closeness, or a sense of mutual obligation, Trump has, so far, focussed on how different Puerto Rico is, and what its people owe him, which is, above all, their gratitude.” – Amy Davidson Sorkin, the New Yorker 27 September

This bizarre, solipsistic figure, for whom the only external reality is Donald J Trump, actually tweeted when he thought about it three days after the event, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which hit the island as a Category 4 superstorm and killed actual people, that Puerto Rico owes a lot of money and they should pay back Wall Street for keeping them going.

Like he should pay back all the foreign banks he has stiffed for $billions in his rotten career, maybe?

Ah said oops upside yo head…

This Coke-and junkfood-bloated non-dirigible, whose hapless advisers plead they cannot advise him because he simply does not listen, and becomes angry whenever he thinks anyone is telling him how to do the job, so they just hover in the background and try to keep him on an even keel and hope he doesn’t call for the nuclear football when no-one is around to put a bullet in his head, is not merely mishandling the crisis on Puerto Rico. Oh, no.

He’s not just being a bit slow and incompetent, or like W Bush, a bit thoughtless and useless. No.

Look, you saw how quickly he reacted, how positive he was when it was Houston on the receiving end of climate change, and Port Arthur – the hub of the US-owned global energy bidness. Hell no.

With Puerto Rico, an island populated by spics, probably rapists, and losers, Trump is actively trying to prevent three and a half million desperate American citizens from getting the additional help they need, instead bloviating pompously at the visiting Spanish Prime Minister, Mr Rajoy, about how the governor of Puerto Rico praised him for the great, wonderful efforts he has made on their behalf; how grateful the Puerto Rican people are to him, while the governor is in fact on his knees begging for more help as FEMA and the National Guard struggle on, strapped for resources and without a plan, to try to deliver food and water to the remotest parts of the stricken island.

It cannot have escaped his notice that Mr Rajoy shares a cultural heritage with the majority of Hispanic Americans on the devastated island, which he referred to as being ‘in the middle of a big, a very big ocean’, like Neville Chamberlain refusing to go to the aid of Czechoslovakia when the Nazis annexed the Sudetenland: ‘It is a far-off country, of which we know little’.

The American people are, we know, outstandingly insular: a recent poll showed that about half do not know that Puerto Rico is US territory and the people who live there hold American citizenship.

Mr Trump indeed knows little. In fact he knows fuck-all, and cares even less. A moral imbecile, he is not fit to be a toilet attendant, let alone president of anywhere real.

But until he gets his bestial tax reforms through, giving $5 trillions away to his wealthy pals and their corporations, beggaring the rest; and until he can destroy Obamacare, the only lifeline offered to millions trapped in a rapacious business culture of privatized medicine, and replace it with something much, much cheaper so he can pay for the tax ‘reforms’ and the obscene, pointless, bloated military budget, he is going to behave meanly, moodily and miserably, holding three and a half million Puerto Rican lives against the recalcitrance of a tiny handful of Republican senators who, successfully completing the Captcha test to prove they are actual humans, refuse to go along with the utter shit that drivels from his twisted, angry little mole-rat mouth.

And meanwhile, he diverts attention from these gangsterish behaviors by mounting an all-out assault, uttering insults and threats against a football player who refuses to stand for the national anthem until someone in authority stops America’s out-of-control, racist police from shooting unarmed black people for no good reason. That won’t be Trump, for whom police brutality is a given. And is trying to bully the poor millionaires who own the NFL clubs into sacking any player, any ‘sonofabitch’ who doesn’t ‘respect the anthem, respect America’ – by which of course he means, respect the 45th President Donald J Trump, a grotesque liar and moron wrapped in a flag.

Postscriptum:

And this morning, we hear of the welcome ‘resignation’ of the totally unqualified Health Secretary, Tom Price. Mr Price has attracted widespread criticism for spending half a million dollars chartering private planes to get himself and his wife about on holidays and shopping trips, and charging them to the taxpayer. It has been mooted that Orange Satan was not unhappy to see him go as he is so closely linked with the repeated failure of Trump’s frenzied attempts to kill off Obamacare and replace it with lots of dead poor people.

It’s rumored that a number of other White House appointments are in the doghouse over similar profiteering while in office. They include spokesmouth Skellytanne Conway and the profoundly corrupt Environment director, Scott Pruitt.

We can therefore look forward to the immediate resignation of President Trump, who since taking office in January has blown well north of a billion dollars of other people’s money on private golfing holidays and extra security for his family and buildings while on holiday, and on hiring squadrons of expensive but curiously inept private lawyers to defend himself against anticipated charges any day now (ha!) of racketeering, money-laundering, tax-dodging, sanctions-busting, breaches of the Foreign Emoluments clause, the Logan Acts; treason and obstruction of justice. Unfortunately there’s no law against being merely one of the most unpleasant people ever to occupy the White House, if not the planet.

Can’t we?

https://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson-sorkin/the-distance-between-donald-trump-and-puerto-rico?mbid=nl_Daily092717&CNDID=49581041&spMailingID=12020149&spUserID=MTkwODY5NzgyMTM0S0&spJobID=1242357721&spReportId=MTI0MjM1NzcyMQS2

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Granny W. : Your windswept old gal in a bus shelter

Atlantic: going back to 1851, says Weather Underground, September set a record for the most amount of accumulated cyclone energy in any month—175 (175 what? Ed.), beating out 155 from September 1926—according to Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University.

  • Number of named-storm days:  53.25 (old record 52.25, Sept. 2004)
  • Number of hurricane days:  40.25 (old record 34.50, Sept. 2006)
  • Number of major hurricane days:  18 (old record 17.25, Sept. 1961) (Wunderground, 04 October)

USA: Weather Underground today further carries research showing 41 out of 60 US cities have experienced their warmest years and many their hottest days on record during the past six years, with an average annual increase since 1985 of 1.2 deg. C. The average between 1895 and 1985 increased by just 0.9 deg. C. indicating rapid acceleration of warming. No US city has recorded its coldest-ever year during the past six years. San Francisco this year set a new record on 1 September of 41 deg. C. (106 deg. F.). The average temperature in Houston is 5 deg. C. warmer than in 1895.

“…we have 41 out of all 60 cities with a 6-year average that is at least 1°F above the prior 30-year average. Likewise, it would be expected for a few cities to have their warmest or coldest year in a six-year period—but it is startling to see 41 of 60 cities having their warmest year, and none of the 60 cities having their coldest year, from 2011 to 2016. Given the very warm year now under way, there appears to be no end in sight to the U.S. heat of the 2010s.” – Christopher C Burt, Climate Historian

Wildfires: The US Interagency Fire Center reports that 2017 to date isn’t the worst year on record, with just over 50 thousand fires reported as against 71 thousand in 2009; and 8.4 million acres burned as against 9 million in 2015. In California, almost 3 thousand acres of the Sequoia National Forest is burning with so-far zero containment. In Oregon, 191 thousand acres of the Siskiyou National Forest has been burned but is 98% contained.

Global warming: Warming soils are releasing more carbon into the atmosphere through more intense bacterial breeding cycles than previously thought, suggesting a potentially disastrous feedback mechanism. “Each year, mostly from fossil fuel burning, we are releasing about 10bn metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere. The world’s soils contain about 3,500bn tons of carbon. … Once this self-reinforcing feedback begins, there is no easy way to turn it off. There is no switch to flip.” – Report of long-term experimental study published this week in Science magazine by the US Marine Biological Laboratory and others.

And on it goes…

USA: Tropical Storm Nate currently organizing itself in the Gulf after causing 22 deaths in Central America. Forecast track could take it due north strengthening Cat 1 to Louisiana around New Orleans after picking up more energy and water over the 29 deg. C. Gulf.

“…heavy rains, landslides and floods blocking roads, destroying bridges and damaging houses. In Costa Rica, nearly 400,000 people are without running water and thousands are sleeping in shelters. At least eight people have died in the storm there, while another 11 were killed when it moved north and reached Nicaragua, where as much as 15ins (38cm) of rain had been predicted to fall by the US’s National Hurricane Center. Three people have been killed in Honduras, including two youths who drowned in a river, and several are reported missing.”

Mexico: “Flooding has affected 18,000 people in the state of Tamaulipas. Local media report that at least 2 people have died. Areas of the state recorded heavy rainfall between 26 and 29 September. The Corona river overflowed. Further intense rainfall was recorded in the state on 01 October, with 245 mm of rain falling in Altamira. Further warnings for severe storms.”

Australia: “Torrential rain and strong winds in the city of Bundaberg in Queensland have caused flash flooding and left over 4,000 homes without power. Bundaberg recorded 319mm of rain in 24 hours between 02 and 03 October, according to Bureau of Meteorology figures. Over 100mm of the rain fell in 2 hours between 13:00 and 15:00 on 02 October.”

A current record early Spring heatwave affecting New South Wales reveals numerous precedents in the past six years, with records continually tumbling. This winter saw the highest average daytime temperatures on record. It was also the driest in 15 years:

“Even if the Paris agreement to limit the global temperature rise to below 2°C is met, summer heatwaves in major Australian cities are likely to reach highs of 50°C by 2040, a study published on Wednesday warns.”

Canada: “With more than 100 wildfires still burning, 2017 is officially the worst fire season on record. Nearly 12,000 km2 of land burned this year, 3,000 km2 more than in 1958, the previous record holder. Approximately 65,000 people were evacuated from their homes, and firefighting efforts have cost the province $510 million.” (British Columbia)

Scotland: 70 mph winds caused problems for commuters and truckers on Monday in the first of the year’s Atlantic lows, snapping-off the flagpole of Edinburgh’s castle.

Wunderground/ Floodlist/ Blogsafe.com/ GoGreen.com/ BBC/ 13News Now

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Bound straight for Hell

If any further evidence is needed of the insanity of the drooling amoebas who buy guns in the USA for no purpose other than to imagine they actually have functioning penises, comes news that the $99 modifying device called a ‘bump stock’ designed to turn a legal semi-automatic weapon into an illegal one that can empty a magazine with a single pull of the trigger has sold out in the wake of the slaughter in Las Vegas.

Even the despicable NRA has called for a ban, but used ones are selling at twice the catalog price, never mind that the thing renders the gun practically useless if you want to hit anything smaller than the White House and it’s far more likely to jam because the gun wasn’t designed for rapid-fire. But hey, it worked good on them country fans.

I shall be writing to Mr Kim Jong-un to ask him please to obliterate the American midwest, where most of these molluscs lurk, now, by the simple expedient of nuking Yellowstone.

By Christ, you’re hard to love.

x

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The Pumpkin – Issue 32: Trump or jump?…The land of smoke and mirrors… Granny W. – a sense of déjà vu… The value of experience? No-platform for the victims.

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“Thank God, at least we haven’t run out of kitchen-towels…” Dominica after the storm. (Photo: Guardian/Global Development)

 

“No wonder two hundred thousand people volunteered for a one-way mission to Mars.”

Trump or jump?

I’m not sure what’s making me angrier: Trump’s heartless response to the desperate pleas of the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Cruz, for additional aid and leadership in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which was basically to tell her to stop whining and criticizing HIM all the time, because everyone says he’s doing a really great job and she obviously isn’t?

Perhaps the Great Solipsist has been stung by polls showing that over 50 per cent of Americans think he’s doing a really terrible job overall. The wonder is, 100 per cent of Americans don’t seem to know or care that he is turning your country into a global pariah. But it’s quite clear he sees emergency aid to 3.5 million stricken American citizens in purely economic, transactional terms and has no concept of, or concern for, human suffering; especially among Americans that don’t have a vote on the mainland; or among Gold Star families.

It must surely be evident to all Americans that Donald J Trump is a reeking bag of semi-composted shit? The most horrible excuse for a human being, not just to occupy the White House, but of all time? Even Adolf Hitler loved his dog.

The Guardian reported: “Trump suggested the mayor had been told “to be nasty to Trump” by his Democratic opposition.” Everything is always about Liddle Donny, isn’t it? He has literally no conception of anything existing outside his own fucking Thomas Pink suit. Hopefully this astonishing behavior by the President, making George W Bush’s indifferent response to Katrina look like Mother Teresa, will be the death sentence of his presidency.

But no. There is no stinking, slimy turd a Republican politician won’t swallow for breakfast, lunch and tea to cling on to a tiny slice of ‘power’.

Yesterday, Homeland Secretary Elaine Duke announced she was “very satisfied” with progress on the island, following the Trump lie that: “it was: ‘a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people'”. That was hours before she arrived on the island for the first time and actually reached some people; following which, there was a complete turnaround in her attitude. Visibly shocked, she admitted that more could be done.

Trump, however, has his own unique way of doing things. After moaning for several days that his friends in the shipping industry would lose money, he finally caved-in and agreed to a temporary suspension of the Jones Act – punitive 1920s legislation protecting American trade with Puerto Rico, that has been preventing any shipping under other flags from docking with emergency supplies.

If you really need more evidence that the 45th incumbent is certifiably a psychopath, consider the argument he has been putting forward in his ridiculous childish tweets the past few days: that Puerto Rico was already a poor country, a drain on the US economy and Wall Street, so any aid given should be proportionate only to immediate need and no infrastructure that was in disrepair before the two hurricanes should be replaced at US taxpayer expense until the island authorities pay what they owe.

Again, he appears completely unaware of the irony that the Act imposed crippling tariffs on exports to Puerto Rico, which has since become a US dependancy. If Puerto Rico is an unacceptably dependent nation economically, it is principally the fault of successive US governments and Trump does actually have an opportunity to do something about it; although Puerto Rico’s $75 billion debt is 100% owned by US hedge funds who are milking it for all it’s worth. He appeared to be unaware, too, that the US Virgin Islands are US territory, announcing that he had “met with the President” of the devastated Caribbean islands of which he is, nominally, the President.

As for the deadly California wildfires, well, he lost the popular vote in California by 4 million so he’s not going there in a hurry, however many Americans get burned to death. Fuck ’em, losers.

Promoting special interests

Mr Trump makes these statements completely oblivious to the fact that he himself owes approximately $1.9 billion to up to 70 banks around the world, and despite the weight of potential compromise this presents to national security, has no intention of ever paying them back (he sues them when they ask for their money).

While defending the taxpayers, he boasts of having personally paid no income tax for almost 20 years. Despite ongoing investigations, he continues to profit from official use of facilities he owns at the public expense, and from licensing the use of his personal brand as President on properties co-developed with known foreign racketeers and money-launderers.

Despite promising to ‘drain the swamp’ of Washington lobbyists, he has promoted special interests in finance, the private medical, energy and chemical industries to the highest offices of State while attempting to amend or repeal any and all laws they perceive as restrictions on their business activities.

He mentors his son-in-law Jared Kushner in his policy of thieving money from banks: himself placed in high office, despite his complete lack of experience in government or politics, Kushner has been going cap-in-hand to wealthy ‘friends’ in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, scrabbling for sofa-change to repay the more than $1 billion dollars HE owes to 20 banks after a disastrous New York property speculation: yet has meanwhile had a fair number of his family’s property management company’s poorest tenants arrested and imprisoned for late payment of rent.

There has been a constant swirl of media speculation for many years over the extent of Mr Trump’s possible criminality, never proven. One instance of this may have been betrayed by Trump himself.

During the transition period, it emerged that a 35-page dossier detailing what might be described as compromising material held over Mr Trump by Russian intelligence agencies was being reviewed by the CIA and FBI. Part of it referred to a bizarre sex session in a Moscow hotel room. Mr Trump defended this allegation in a curious way, saying that as someone who owned many hotels, he knew all about covert filming.

The inference was not drawn at the time, but it happened to be the case that Kushner’s father was serving a five-year prison term. His offence of business fraud had been exacerbated by further charges relating to his attempts to pervert the course of justice by, in this case, blackmailing his brother-in-law, who had been called as a material witness. Kushner Senior sent a videotape to his own sister, showing her husband in a compromising situation with a prostitute in a hotel room.

There is no imputation of course that Mr Trump had any involvement whatever, but it suggests a degree of sleaze within the circles he moves in that might call in question his fitness to hold the highest office.

Mr Trump has been accused by at least one prominent Senator in his own party of failing to respect the rule of law. That’s over the Justice Department’s special investigation into what appeared to be crude attempts by the President to divert or halt an FBI investigation into possible links between his election campaign and Russian intelligence, that might amount to obstruction of justice.

Senator John McCain has stood out against Trump’s cynical health ‘reform’ bill that will see 30 million poorer Americans deprived of health care: Trump’s response has been to issue dire threats by tweet against the dying McCain, who has incurable brain cancer but is lucid enough in seeing through the fatuous, vain, incompetent blowhard in the White House.

I repeat: Donald J Trump is an orange-coloured sack of congealed, putrid greed: the sickest, nastiest, most vindictive, most infantile, poisonous, deranged, incompetent and ignorant reptile to assume office since the Emperor Caligula.

For all that, 37% of his supporters who identify as ‘marginalized’ by Washington say they would never abandon their loyalty to Trump under any circumstances.

This is surely a serious state of affairs.

It’s been calculated that Mr Trump’s ‘beautiful’ $5 trillion tax reforms, which – he lies – will benefit the lower-paid and the middle-class most, will in fact leave him personally $1 billion richer, millions poorer, and the Treasury bankrupt. Oh, and by the way, the tax rate for the lowest-paid will rise from 10 to 12 per cent…. but the top tax rates for high-earners and corporations will fall considerably, while the heirs of wealthy property owners not unlike Mr Trump will no longer have to pay inheritance tax on their $billions of assets, which thus become more negotiable in the heretofore.

Mr Trump has also fallen out with numerous senior Republican colleagues over their failure to steer through Congress, a bill replacing Obama’s Affordable Care Act with a new health insurance system that would have the effect of stripping 32 million people of their entitlements to healthcare. He appears to be entirely ignorant of or indifferent to the inevitable effects of his sop to the criminally greedy pharmaceuticals industry, many of whose leaders are either on trial or under Congressional investigation for hiking drug prices beyond reason.

On foreign relations, Mr Trump already has a disastrous record of upsetting the US’s allies while encouraging its enemies; he has raised the level of violence in US engagement in foreign conflicts, resulting in a massive increase in ‘collateral’ civilian deaths without providing any clear policy direction to end conflict.

Though pushing Congress to vote an additional $85 billion for the military appropriations budget, claiming falsely that Obama had run it down, he has nevertheless caused great concern among the generals with his tweeted attacks on LGBQ and Transgender service personnel and insults to dead or wounded veterans and their families. His response to that is to call for a tenfold increase in nuclear warheads, while already possessing more than are needed to extinguish life on earth. He is clearly insane, but we can have little confidence that his military aides will put a bullet through his diseased brain the moment he calls for the nuclear football to obliterate North Korea, Iran, or whoever incurs his wrath that morning.

He has effectively gutted international diplomatic expertise within the State Department, marginalized and demeaned his bovine Secretary of State, and is blundering ever-deeper into dangerous and childish tit-for-tat brinkmanship with at least two nations on the verge of becoming nuclear powers. For much of his presidency he has been under the malign influence of Steve Bannon, a calculating and nihilistic Svengali bankrolled by crazed ultra-rightwing Christian billionaires.

I’m really not sure what it will take to see this greedy, thuggish, ignorant, poorly self-managed and profoundly corrupt individual, a squeezer of the pips so appalling even God Himself could not wash him clean, strung up on piano wire in the public square like Mussolini, whose more presidential facial expressions he likes to imitate. But something must surely be done.

Or am I angrier that Britain is becoming, if possible, an even more divided and horrible nation than Trump’s America?

 

“An investigation is currently underway into the circumstances surrounding a 28-year-old Polish man who recently died after an attempt to kill himself at Harmondsworth detention centre in London. A Home Office spokesperson said: “We have toughened our response to foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality.” – The Guardian, 30 September.

“Please, can anyone afford a can-opener?” Three-quarters of a million people rely on food banks as poverty and homelessness rise sharply after seven and a half years of Tory government. (Photo: itv.com).

That’s right. Oh, but we haven’t left the European Union yet, have we. Our hardworking Polish friends have an absolute right to live and find employment in Britain. Many have done so since World War Two, when they were rewarded for their heroism at fighting Nazis on our behalf and bred a new generation of Anglo-Polish professionals. I was forgetting.

‘Anything you can do, I can do worse’, surely goes the Tory party song. For we read this morning an article in The Guardian by a woman who writes that she has colleagues at work like herself, who are having to use food banks and payday loans to get their families through to the end of the week – and she’s a Benefits Advisor working in a job centre, turning desperate people away every day.

Public-sector pay in Britain is an international scandal. In order to bailout the banks in 2008, pay increases for the police, fire service, teachers, nurses and hospital ancillaries, ambulance crew, cleaners, home-carers, local government workers have been capped at 1 per cent for the past eight years, and local authority service budgets cut to the marrow, while ‘inflation’ has been running at between 1.9 and 2.9 per cent a year, on the official indices, leaving millions of working people in the real world far behind. Working families so poor, they cannot send their children to school with breakfast inside them. Thus, Mrs May proposed before the election that it would be a good idea to scrap the provision of school breakfasts.

Thus too, a woman interviewed on the BBC this morning, a working mother of two who has literally no money, not even fourpence in her purse – yet is theoretically entitled like the rest of us to some State support. Why then has she no money to buy food or pay rent? Because of Iain Duncan Smith’s devastatingly cruel and incompetent mishandling of the switch from multiple benefits to a single-provider scheme that his successor, a servile, fuckwitted party hack named David Gauke, proposes to continue with despite massive public opprobrium.

This Duncan-Cunt (Conservative and Unionist Neo-Thatcherite) has left thousands of claimants in suspension, waiting many weeks to receive the first grant of less money than they were previously getting, unable to buy food or pay rent. He is, like Trump, a sociopath, completely oblivious to the suffering of others. Many of them are in work, but thanks to Cunt’s Universal Credit wheeze, the new cap on housing benefit that makes living in London impossible for the low-paid, the abolition of child benefit for any more than two children and the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ – filching money from social housing tenants who might be left with what the authorities consider to be a ‘spare room’ in their unit – they are falling ever deeper into poverty, debt and homelessness.

But the aforesaid Gauke thinks it’s all going swimmingly.

And that’s not even starting on people with disabilities, whose Independent Living Allowance (extra money enabling them to, for instance, afford a mobility scooter to get to work) has been scrapped; a blind man with multiple health issues was told by a judge two weeks ago, his local authority had a legal right to take away even the meagre support services they provided for him. That’s a legal right conferred by the Tories, may they rot in Hell.

While for years their private-sector proxies have been denying sick and disabled people the benefits they need on the basis of inept, medically irrelevant, inadequate, often abusive and mismanaged ‘assessments’, that they are blaming on the previous ‘Labour’ government.

Oh, said the junior minister on the radio yesterday (the senior minister refused to go on), but things are getting better! If anyone isn’t getting their benefit entitlement in good time, it’s probably because they’ve filled in the endless forms incorrectly; not submitted enough ‘evidence’ of desert. Not everyone has a computer with access to Broadband (the only way to claim… or pay 55p a minute to be kept hanging on the helpline for an hour), nor has everyone an A-level in English language, and may have to travel miles to find a library or a Citizens’ Advice Bureau still open. They can always apply for interim loan payments – yes, of course, they have to pay those back at 63 per cent, and they’re not available in every case, but …

These smug, lousy Tory shit-spewers can out-Trump Trump in cruelty anyday.

At the same time, CEO pay in the top 100 companies has been rising exponentially. The average is now £4.3 million – and that’s just the basic. Yet successive reports by economists have shown that company profits and productivity lag far behind executive rewards. Three Tesco executives went on trial yesterday, charged with cooking the books – share-price manipulation is the name of the game in the City today, but not enough end up in court. Millions of private pension owners have been told they’ll be lucky to get half what they’ve been paying-in for. Where’s the money gone? Nobody seems to know, although like the burghers of Londonderry, the investment management community, people like Mrs May’s husband Phil and Home Secretary, Amber Rudd and her noxious family business grow suspiciously ever fatter.

Billions are squandered on vanity projects, consultants and government maladministration. Our military contracting is disastrous: the latest scandal is the issue of the Foxhound, a transport vehicle purpose-designed to replace the lethal ‘Snatch Land-Rover’, to protect troops against roadside IEDs in hot countries, that cost £1 million each and are constantly breaking down through overheating; while the Navy’s new Type 45 destroyers are laid up in dock having new power plant fitted as the original engines didn’t produce enough electricity to power the weapons control systems. Artificers have had to cut holes in the sides of the ships to get the engines out, as they weren’t designed to be removed for servicing. (Postscriptum: and the rumor now is that two amphibious assault landing-craft support ships – one of which is currently providing emergency aid to the British Virgin Islands – are to be scrapped, effectively removing any role for the Royal Marines.)

Are the Russians running the Defence Ministry?

Thousands of doctors and nurses are fleeing the National Health Service because the government cannot bring itself to upset the editor of the Daily Mail, a small-minded Jingoistic bully called Paul Dacre, and offer them long-term security of residence. Incompetent baboons at the Home Office are sending out daily letters threatening to deport professional people who have lived here for thirty years, are married to British citizens and have children with them, born in the UK. Sound familiar, American reader? Schools are having to pass the begging bowl around parents to scrape together enough money, not to – I don’t know, run a sports day, take a party to Paris for the day or fix the gym roof – but to BUY TEACHERS.

The Three Brexiteers: Davis, ‘The Doctor’ and Doris (r)

Despite the many challenges, at this critical juncture British politics has come down to a contest of inanities between ambitious little shits and Empire-loyalist throwbacks, overentitled ‘populist’ publicity junkies like Johnson, Farage and, God forbid, the vapid neo-medievalist Rees-Mogg. Our Brexit ‘negotiating team’ is looking everyday more like the Marx Brothers of Brussels. As was shown by the Brexit vote, the majority of British voters are vacuous and poorly-informed middle-Englanders closeted in their own filter-bubbles, plugged into their little headsets, forever texting one another, mind-numbed by ‘reality’ TV shows and cheap talent contests, reliant more on personal ‘feelings’ than facts to guide them and living in a permanent Groundhog Day, divorced from memory and rapidly losing the capacity to process real-world issues. (I am working with a group of young people currently who have no idea whatever about contemporary politics or history.)

Is it any wonder the number of Britons frantically searching their family tree for connections and applying for foreign citizenship is rising by the day? Just like the Republican government in America, the rich have declared war on the poorest, who are blaming us, the sentient ones in the middle. Who would want to be part of this shameful farrago if they could find somewhere decent, clean and competently managed to live? No wonder two hundred thousand people volunteered for a one-way mission to Mars.

Get these amoral, clueless, self-serving fucking Tories; those devious, smarmy Republican cunts and Magic Christians out of office.

Just get them out.

x

“It’s classic psy-ops warfare. And the most devilish part of it is, now we know what’s going on we can’t trust anyone or anything we see and hear!”

The land of smoke and mirrors

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

I urge anyone interested in learning about the extent of Russia’s disruptive use of social media to watch the first part of this 27 September issue of Rachel Maddow’s top-rated MSNBC cable news show.

As she reports, it has become clear from investigations by serious news media in the USA that the abuse of social media sites Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and blogs such as Breitbart News and InfoWars by a coordinated campaign using hundreds of botnets and fake accounts to create false-front organizations putting out micro-targeted propaganda designed to create and exploit social division throughout the West has gone far further than previously thought.

Russian interference has not been confined to meddling with the elections in the USA and, as the BogPo has frequently commented, Great Britain’s disastrous EU referendum.

Maybe he thought the voters wanted him to be President because he’s so accomplished, tactful and charming?

Prior to the invasion of Crimea and SE Ukraine, for instance, thousands of Ukrainian Twitter accounts were deliberately shut down by a concerted ‘Report abuse’ attack falsely claiming tweets were pornographic; this increased the ‘space’ for a campaign of pro-Russian tweets from fake accounts blaming neo-Nazis for mounting a coup. Last weekend’s general election in Germany produced a stunning advance for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland party, gaining 90 seats to make them the third largest group in the Bundestag. With the financial and online support of Russian hackers, bloggers and botnets their campaign may have been aided by fake news reports against migrants and refugees.

And we know all about Kremlin funding for Marine le Pen’s failed presidential bid in France; and can see how the Macron presidency is being persistently undermined and attacked so that his popularity rating is already lower after only six weeks than that of his hapless predecessor, François Hollande, on leaving office. How much of what is going on in our increasingly divided and divisive politics in the UK is real, and how much engineered online?

In a seminal report by Alastair Sloan and Ian Campbell writing in Open Democracy UK, we are challenged to explain how Mr Arron Banks spent £9 million funding Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party and the Brexit ‘Leave.UK’ campaign, whose officers included long-term colleagues of his, on a business valuation putting his personal fortune at less than £22 million, which in itself is a dubious figure? Where did the money come from, to support a man whose many low-rent ‘motorcycle insurance’ companies were kept from bankruptcy only by virtue of a system of internal sales and loans? And who put him up to it?

http://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/how-did-arron-banks-afford-brexit

The point being, it doesn’t matter whether or not the outliers whom the Russians promote succeed, as long as the process itself causes more useful bitterness and division the damage is done. Putin didn’t really care whether Trump got elected or not, just as long as the election resulted in the maximum chaos and further undermined America’s already pretty tenuous grasp on democracy. As Maddow reports, Russians have even infiltrated lunatic fringe organizations seeking independence for Texas and California.

Mr Putin and his clever cronies do not just want power at home, they have found ingenious ways to project it abroad, offering financial and logistical support to just about anyone who expresses a desire and some capability to upset the prevailing order.

Maddow cites a NYT report today that a false-front Muslim League of America lobbying organization was created to spread fake news favorable to the pro-Trump conspiracy, for instance linking the Clintons and Sen. John McCain with ISIS; and how an entire community was set against itself when a small-town news story was blown out of proportion to target Syrian refugees implicated in a child-rape scandal that never happened; nor were there even any Syrian refugees in the town – yet the story gained traction and ran for several weeks in the rightwing media until the damage was done.

It’s classic psy-ops warfare. And the worst of it is, now we know what’s going on we can’t trust anyone or anything we see and hear! It means too that we can’t either believe or disbelieve stories about the extent of Russian interference in our democratic processes….

Twitter executives are shortly to be questioned by the Congressional committee investigating Russian interference in the US election. That news in itself will further undermine public confidence. President Zuckerberg of ‘Facebookistan’ last week executed a remarkable turnaround when he finally admitted after months of blanket denials that his 2-billion-strong social media site had effectively been taken hostage by Russian military intelligence back in 2015, and that fake campaign advertising had been paid for through Russian bank accounts.

Again, many people now realize they can’t trust what even their friends are telling them on Facebook; while others won’t believe it’s false news, whatever you try to tell them.

It seems clear, as the BogPo has previously reported, that the Russians are also relying on third-party actors in Western countries having whatever degree of media ownership, data analysis skills or penetration and intrusion capabilities, even bona fide agencies who may be borrowed or hired or otherwise recruited to the cause, wittingly or unwittingly, to assist with targeting and the creation of fake messages.

The (disputed) use of Bob Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica company to micro-message voters, and of companies involved with voter registration to gerrymander constituencies and rig voting machines, has been widely reported on, if not yet proven; many more small tech businesses may have been used in the same way; but it raises the possibility at least that Trump may not have had much clue what was going on as all this would have been happening in the background to his campaign and he is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

Maybe he thought the voters of America really wanted him to be President because he’s so accomplished, tactful and charming?

In today’s world of ubiquitous, highly personalized media creating instantly disinformative echo-chambers, or what people of my generation used to call the rumour mill, you cannot trust any source even when it seems to have been verified by many other sources.

That’s a considerable victory for Mr Putin, as it’s rapidly turning the rest of the world into a facsimile of Russia: the land of smoke and mirrors.

x

Granny W. – a sense of déjà vu

“Researchers found that forest areas in South America, Africa and Asia – which have until recently played a key role in absorbing greenhouse gases – are now releasing 425 teragrams of carbon annually, which is more than all the traffic in the United States.” – The Guardian, 28 Sept., from a report in Science magazine.

Scientists combined 12 years of satellite data with field studies. They found a net carbon loss on every continent due to degradation of forest not normally visible from satellites, below canopy level, where clearance has been taking place. The world’s forests, they say, are no longer working as a ‘carbon sink’ and recommend an emergency replanting program. 

In the last week:

Uganda: 16 dead, 14 injured, ‘scores’ missing after ‘abnormal’ heavy rains cause landslides in Rubanda, in the west of the country.

China: at least 8 dead, 4 missing in floods and heavy rainfall in central areas of the country over the last few days. “Flooding has affected 116,000 people in the provinces of Hubei, Chongqing and Shaanxi. Around 2,400 homes have been damaged and over 20,000 people evacuated to emergency shelters… Hanzhong in Shaanxi province recorded 55 mm of rain per hour.”

Indonesia: people reported trapped in floods that inundated much of the city of 14 million people (28 Sept.). “The floods were the most widespread to hit Jakarta in recent memory. Authorities said at least four people were killed and 20,000 evacuated.”

Philippines:  “Flash floods triggered by heavy rain that began on Friday, 22 September. The city of Bacolod in Negros Occidental province was the worst hit, officials say over 8,000 people were affected.  Flood water was waist deep in some areas.”

Australia: large parts of New South Wales and Queensland sweltered in 42 deg C. (107.6 F) heat over the weekend and the ‘unusual’ early spring heatwave is forecast to continue on and off, possibly into the even hotter summer. A huge 12 deg. C. seasonal temperature anomaly was recorded over much of the SE region.

Iceland: “Several rivers have overflowed in parts of south east and east Iceland after a period of heavy rain from 26 September. Levels of the Skaftá river at Sveinstindur and the Ölfusá at Selfoss, among others, increased dramatically. Levels have fallen over the last few hours as the rain has eased, although more rain is forecast and further flooding could be expected.” Roads and bridges washed out.

USA: a tropical weather ‘disturbance’, 99L is bringing up to 5 inches of rain to Florida and Louisiana over the weekend, after a record-setting September hurricane season (40 days of cyclones at hurricane strength). Heavy rainfall is also forecast over Puerto Rico and other islands already hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria. 64.58 inches of rain observed at the Texas town of Nederland during Hurricane Harvey is confirmed as the new rainfall record during a tropical cyclone at any U.S. location.

California: whipped by 25 mph ‘Santa Ana’ wind, the 2,600-acre Corona Canyon fire on the edge of LA is 75% controlled (01 Oct.) after hundreds of residents of Orange County were evacuated. Nearly two thousand firefighters attended the blaze. As snow comes early to Montana and Idaho, racked by earth tremors from the Yellowstone magma chamber recharging beneath, there are still some 23 large fires burning in western states, including 11 in Oregon.

Town of Lynn in Massachusetts underwater after heavy rain. Chicago and midwest bask in 30 deg. C+ record late-September heatwave.

Florida: Army engineers battling to reinforce barrage at Lake Okeechobee before the next hurricane brings more torrential rain. “The lake level stood at 16.3’ above sea level on Thursday, well above the maximum 15.5’ level the Army Corps of Engineers tries to maintain in order to relieve pressure on the aging Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds the lake.” See Wikipedia entry for story of the ecological disaster the lake has been over the years, including 1928 when 2,500 people drowned in a partial dam-burst.

Mexico: Nuevo Laredo floods and thousands of acres underwater as the Rio Bravo bursts its banks after torrential rainstorm. Nueva Leon including Juarez and Monterrey similarly underwater after intense rainfall.

Colombia: Baranquilla underwater as torrential rains bring flash flooding; streets turn to boiling rivers, etc.

Nicaragua: Managua underwater, etc. Morons still driving through 3ft of water and stalling. Understand: once your exhaust pipe is blocked by water a petrol engine will stall and you could drown.

Honduras: San Pedro, ditto.

Guatemala: 5 people killed in landslide caused by heavy rain as village washed away near Verapaz. Getting a sense of déjà vu watching this footage.

Trinidad: extensive flooding in Santa Cruz. Expensive homes damaged.

British Columbia: things are starting to calm down, only seven ‘fires of note’ are still burning, and only four new large fires have been reported in the last two days. Many smaller fires are still not out, but forest trails are being reopened.

Europe: the Copernicus EFFIS fire survey shows that areas at extreme danger of fires have reduced to just a small part of Turkey, but large areas of Spain, the northeastern Mediterranean and around the Black Sea are still at high risk and there are numerous fire sites indicated that have been burning over the past 7 days up until 27 September.

Greece: “Over 270 mm (10 in.) of rain in 3 hours fell on the northern Aegean Sea island of Samothraki, Greece, causing severe damage to roads, cars and buildings, including a health centre. Images showed streets buried in mud and flood debris over 1 metre deep. Power and drinking water supply has been cut and schools closed.”

Italy: Syracuse, Sicily, underwater due to intensive rainstorm.

Turkey: Istanbul hit by extreme rainstorm for the fourth time this summer. Parts of the city under 3ft of water. Apocalyptic flash-flood hits Çayeli in SE Turkey.

UK: Remnants of both Hurricane Lee and Hurricane Maria are expected to combine to bring storm force winds and heavy rain to most of the British Isles by the beginning of next week.

End of days…

Ring of Fire: as ‘experts’ announce that the flurry of seismic activity, with new M6+ earthquakes and volcanoes popping off all around the Pacific rim in recent days and weeks, including three M6 quakes or greater in Mexico in just over a week is ‘coincidence’ (these idiots are SCIENTISTS?), all 11,000 people on the island of Ambae to the north of Vanuatu are being evacuated as a massive volcano continues to erupt. Most of Ambae’s population is already sheltering in evacuation centres on the island after the Manaro Voui volcano rained rocks and ash on their villages, but they’re running out of food and water.

Meanwhile, ‘experts’ are continuing to keep watch on Mt Angung, the precarious sacred volcano on the tourist paradise island of Bali that has led to 75,000 people being evacuated beyond a 7 km exclusion zone, mindful of the 1963 eruption that killed 1,500 people. There’s been seismic activity too at Krakatoa, the Indonesian volcano that blew itself to pieces in 1883, which has been steadily rebuilding its cone. But Yellowstone looks a little quieter – not necessarily a good sign.

Floodlist/ D Mail/ ABC/ SBS.com/ Telegraph/ The Press Enterprise/ BC wildfire service/ Wunderground/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #70


The value of experience? No-platform for the victims.

“Both of these events will to [sic] cause Jewish students to feel uncomfortable on campus and that they are being targeted and harassed for their identity as a people and connection to the Jewish state of Israel,” Freeman told Westlake. “I would be grateful if you could look into these events and take the appropriate action.” – The Guardian, 29 September.

Of course it is dreadful that young people should be made to feel uncomfortable – especially Jewish students who already feel, well, uncomfortable, as the media continues to report on the rise of right-wing movements throughout Europe.

And it is clearly wrong that Jewish students, or indeed any students, should be targeted and harrassed for their identity as a people.

The Westlake in the pull-quote is Michael, Head of Student Experience (W1A is alive and well) at the venerable and renowned Manchester University, and the Freeman is something or other, a ‘cultural attaché’ – for which, presumably, read ‘Mossad agent’ – at the Israeli embassy in London.

Freeman was writing to Westlake essentially to thank him in advance for no-platforming a speaker whose talk was to be entitled: ‘You are doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to me’.

You might by now be imagining that the University was preparing to host an official torchlight rally of brownshirts or Trump supporters and the ceremonial burning of synagogues. But no. It may come as a surprise to know that the speaker, Marika Sherwood is herself a Holocaust survivor.

It is a fact, uncomfortable to the despicable Netanyahu regime, that many Jews like Sherwood are horrified and shamed by the State’s hardline approach to the stalled settlement talks and the continuing illegal settlement of the West Bank, mainly by fanatical American religionists, crazies who argue with the support of the government and the packed courts that God promised them the land.

It should be remembered that the Palestinians, whom even Israeli historians are slowly beginning to understand on the basis of archaeological evidence are the same people as the Jews, were ruthlessly expelled or slaughtered in their hundreds of thousands – targeted and harassed, in the modern parlance – during the ethnic cleansing that accompanied the founding of the Israeli state in 1947/8; many have been languishing, even unto the third generation, in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan ever since. The history is of course buried and denied by the corrupt Zionist mafia that runs the Israeli state today.

However, following the intervention of the Israeli ambassador, Mr Mark Regev, formerly a notorious media apologist for every sickening act of brutality against the remaining Palestinian population of Israel and Gaza, a slimy PR shill for successive Israeli governments attempting to shut down the mildest questioning of policy, who throws around disgusting accusations of ‘antisemitism’ against any objectors, who personally travelled to Manchester to bully the Senate into backing off the talk due to be held in ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ – itself a dreadful calumny against the junta of self-righteous bigots in Tel Aviv – the university caved-in.

The next day, reports the Guardian:

“a university official emailed Huda Ammori, the event’s (Jewish) organiser, with conditions. Academics chosen to chair the meetings were replaced by university appointees, publicity was limited to students and staff, and the organisers were told talks would be recorded. Ammori was told: “For ‘A Holocaust survivor’s story and the Balfour declaration’ the use of the title or subheading, ‘You’re doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to me’ is not to be permitted, because of its unduly provocative nature.”

Just who the hell does this pompous little sonofabitch Australian migrant, Regev, think he is, and what right does he imagine he has to go around flaunting his self-conferred authority – which is, I venture to suggest, derived solely from the experience of Jews in the Holocaust, survivors like Marika Sherwood, whom he denies and dishonours – to control whatever is said about his unpleasant country – I’ve been there, believe me it’s pretty ghastly – in a free society?

‘The appropriate action’…? ‘Academics replaced’…? ‘Talks would be recorded‘…? ‘Is not to be permitted’…?

I’ll leave you to decide who the fucking Nazis are.

And while we’re at it, I should point out, technically Israel is a secular, not an Orthodox, Jewish state. In 1948, the founder, David Ben-Gurion, speaking at the United Nations, declared it to be such, going on to say:

“The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

Nothing in those soaring words about censorship, oppression, constant breach of UN resolutions, bullying and ethnic cleansing? It’s only rabid neo-Zionists like Regev who’ve made it into an authoritarian religious state, in defiance of Ben-Gurion’s pledge; and taken it upon themselves to monitor, censor and control whatever is said about it, anywhere in the world. Why should our institutions accede to his impertinent demands, his blackmail?

This is not about Judaism, Semitism – it is entirely and cynically political.

Let’s recall how in 2014, Regev and the British-Jewish establishment put intolerable pressure on the BBC to censor a combined charities appeal for aid for the people of Gaza, a walled ghetto created by the state of Israel to contain one and a half million Palestinians, men, women and children, which they had mercilessly and indiscriminately bombed and shelled with illegal phosphorus munitions for many days, just like the Nazis did, killing and maiming thousands, in reprisal for acts of defiance by hopeless, under-employed and under-equipped young Hamas fighters.

It really is time to stand up to these self-appointed arbiters of truth and justice, the hypocritical rewriters of history, and say, look, we’re not going to be told what we can and cannot say by you. You’ve got enough concessions from us on free speech already, we’re not going to be guilt-tripped any longer and if you want our respect you’ll stop this nonsense and grow up.

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/sep/29/manchester-university-censors-title-holocaust-survivor-speech-criticising-israel

x

No fair, lady!

The late Hugh Hefner of Playboy is to be interred at Forrest Lawn, LA, in a catafalque next to Marilyn Monroe. It’s said the old lecher paid $75 thousand in 1992 for the plot adjacent to America’s second most potent sex symbol.

I wonder what she’ll make of that.

boo boop de doo?

 

Survival of the fitters? A climate of concern… End of everything – a brief update… Mind the gap.

The Welsh team had booked their return flight with Monarch…

 

“I get to peek at the workbooks students hand in at the end of exams. I have previously expressed the view that maybe 85 per cent of them are in the wrong place.”

Survival of the fitters?

You see, I’ve just been whingeing about Amazon and Uber and how the beanbag corporations are replacing human-scale operations, retailers and so forth who need to sleep, with giant 24-hour warehouses and picking robots and tax-accountants and a few undervalued mislings, delivery drivers and so on, who are expected to pay their own wages and insurance and never get sick.

“I’m sure we had one somewhere…” Tiny orders delivered while other retailers sleep. (UKbusinessinsider.co)

The fetish for instant gratification and the myth of infinite abundance are powerful incentives to hand the management of the entire planet over to these lunatic visionary billionaires and place all our futures in their sainted hands.

Yet here is this new superspecies, humans-plus, a race of knowligarchs worth, in a purely asset-valued sense, not just one, but sometimes tens of billions of dollars, pounds, whatever.

And we have created them! How did that happen?

Anyway, so, yesterday I drove with Hunzi over to the prefabricated car place on the industrial estate where they have a big forecourt where I bought my little Citroen three years ago, and a service shed at the rear, left it with them to explore my noisy brakes, and walked the two miles back home. I called them at five-thirty but the car wasn’t ready, come back about eleven tomorrow.

So, and I’ll stop saying that, at half-past eleven just now we walk the two miles back – I know, it’s good for me – only to be told, sorry, we have a problem finding qualified mechanics and are up to here with cars, can we drop it off to you this afternoon?

The irony is, the manager is Polish, and he can’t get staff.

Last week, I’m told, the unemployment rate fell vertiginously to only 4.3 percent, the lowest it’s been since records began in July. But there are clearly jobs goin’ a-beggin’, as my youngest discovered when he went to visit his sister for the weekend and landed a temp job the following day; he’s due to start work proper in November. Jobs are clearly ten a penny, but few are willing to do them.

I work, as you know, five weeks of the year at a university, the only job I can find at my age, where I get to peek at the workbooks students hand in at the end of exams. I have previously expressed the view that maybe 85 per cent of them are in the wrong place. Instead of usefully learning how to fix the brakes on Citroen cars, they are studying for worthless paper degrees in Sports Psychology Through the Medium of Slavery. And only a small handful of them, it seems, can usefully express any ideas about that in recognizable English.

We used to have a good technical college just up the road where you could go to learn to be a cook, a plumber, a bricklayer or a car mechanic – all perfectly respectable and valuable jobs. But it was maladministered, Tony Blair had decreed that everyone should have a degree, and so the university took it over and installed a) an agreeable cafeteria, and b) an International School of Business Studies, offering MBAs, that has now closed for lack of international interest.

Meanwhile, neither of the two contractors I asked in the spring of 2016 to come and replace my collapsing garden fence has yet turned up. Anymore than has the plumber who fitted my kitchen tap returned to adjust his work, that threatens a flood. The ivy that is strangling my house, blocking the gutters and causing damp in the corner of the bedroom remains uncut, owing to its not being a big enough job to interest a gardener/handyman less prone to vertigo than myself.

There is a three-week waiting list here to see a doctor; and an eighteen-month waiting list for six-monthly follow-up appointments to consult my friendly Ghanaian urologist about my unruly prostate, at the hospital.

The new gas oven and hob I ordered from our local showroom two weeks ago has still not been fitted, owing to the seasonal busy-ness of the few qualified Gas Safe fitters who now exist. I am still waiting after ten days for the carpet fitter to tell me he is ready, Stanley knife in hand, to lay my new bedroom carpets; or even if they have arrived.

But my sub-£15 order of a small bottle of five-star-review guitar wax (No Cloudy Build-Up!) and a cheap but highly rated headstock tuner arrived from Amazon.uk Central on Saturday, 16 hours from the time I placed it, by express postal delivery.

Would that some enterprising beanbag billionaire could come up with a scheme for a giant multinational corporation to instantly deliver a functioning tradesman when you need one. Trouble is, here at the end of Civilization we have stopped producing them. It’s a Darwinian dilemma:

Jeremy Corbyn please help us.

We need to ensure the survival of the fitters.

x

“This is not some futuristic dystopian conspiracy theory, social media and universal TV coverage enables us to see it as it is happening now…”

A climate of concern

NASA has August at 0.85C above the 1951-1980 average. That’s a global summer/winter monthly average of everywhere – while there are still cold spots many regions of the globe are heating much faster. It also ignores pre-1950s warming, which would take us to about 1.6C since the 1750 cutoff, somewhat ahead of the Paris target and hotter than in the last 150 thousand years. And it’s accelerating. August in the USA was the second hottest on record despite the cooling effect of storms and megastorms across the midwest, including Hurricane Harvey. 2017 is officially so far the second hottest year globally on record, after 2016. Arctic sea ice is 24% below the long-term average summer minimum; the jetstreams are in bits.

Harvey’ caused Houston to sink by an inch.

What does this mean? In a word, weather CHAOS.

A seemingly unending litany of extreme weather events: violent storms, cyclones, floods, droughts and heatwaves. Millions of acres of agricultural land and countryside burning* or underwater. Raging torrents, city streets turned to boiling rivers, hillsides collapsing, cars and houses, road and bridges washed away.

People struggling to work or safety through chest-high water, carrying their pets, children and grandmothers. Millions displaced. Whole communities torn up and uninhabitable. Billions of dollars of damage. Possibly linked seismological effects: Harvey caused part of Texas to sink by an inch.

This is not some futuristic dystopian conspiracy theory, social media and universal TV coverage enables us to see it as it is happening now, all over the world.

CO2 – some improvement

Despite the prevalence of wildfires, whose 2017 northern hemisphere season’s massive CO2 upload may not yet have fully distributed around the globe, especially 9,000 feet up in the central Pacific, today’s daily CO2 reading from the Moana Lua observatory on Hawaii shows a reduction since July, from 407 to 405 (approx.) parts-per-million. Encouragingly, this is down again on the record 412 ppm recorded in April.

Recalling that up to 1900 the burden had remained at about 285 ppm and by 2015 averaged only 401 ppm; however, concentrations as high as 860 ppm were being recorded over British Columbia and Central Asia during the summer, owing to wildfires. And we need to understand that what we put into the air now remains there for 100 years, absorbing solar energy.

Overall, the trendlines for CO2, CH4 (methane) and NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), the principal greenhouse gases, remain on an alarming upward trajectory; while increasingly moisture-laden higher-altitude storms and unrestricted airline operations are adding rapidly to the burden of water vapor in the stratosphere, also considered a greenhouse gas.

*When you burn a tree, consider that: a) it releases its stored carbon to the atmosphere, while b) it no longer absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere.

Consider also that c) humans have a notoriously short attention span, and d) one swallow doth not a summer make.

 

Weather overground:

Hurricane Maria: weakening to a Cat 2 as it moves north over colder waters, the ‘will-it, won’t it?’ make landfall along the US East Coast debate continues. Even if not, it will be felt as it passes between the Outer Banks of N Carolina and Bermuda. It is still a huge and violent storm bearing potentially 2-3 feet of rain. Death toll across the Caribbean now exceeds 30 and many remote areas have yet to be reached.

Dominica island or the Dominican Republic , this is your future. (themontserratreporter)

90% of homes in Dominica have sustained damage or destruction. Guajataca dam on Puerto Rico still threatening to give way (24 Sept.), 70,000 evacuated from communities in its floodpath. “The storm dumped over 960 mm of rain in Caguas on 21 September.” High winds and flooding too claimed lives in Haiti and the Dominican Republic (24 Sept.).

Atlantic: Meanwhile, Jose is still toggling gamely around in the west Atlantic but has weakened to a depression and not likely to make landfall. Great relief as nothing new seems to be forming off the West African coast, although it’s still early in the season. Former Tropical Depression, Lee has woken up in mid-Atlantic after doing nothing for days and has strengthened to a Cat 2 hurricane, on a predicted northeasterly track – ie towards northern Europe, the UK, Iceland – but weakening again to a TS over colder waters.

UK: remnants of both Lee and Maria expected to merge into one storm system arriving western British Isles Sunday 1st through Tuesday 3rd.

Australia: New South Wales/Sydney experiences first-ever 40C (104F) heatwave – for September (early spring month). Heatwave extends up into Queensland. Both areas suffered record heat last summer.

Guatemala: raging floods continuing after days of intense rainfall.

Spain: Another heavy ice-storm, this time on the lovely Moorish city of Teruel, Aragon. Rivers of ice flowing through the streets freeze solid for a time. Many lightning strikes. “35 litres of water per square meter fell in half an hour, causing localised flooding, as well as leaving a number of people requiring treatment for hypothermia. The storm hit just before 9PM, after a sudden drop in temperature of nearly 20 degrees.” Severe, possibly disruptive thunderstorm alert out for Vilabella, SE Spain.

  • Your Granny’s theory for why there have been so many heavy icefall events in an otherwise hotter than normal summer: storms across Europe have reached higher altitudes than normal owing to warmer air and fragmenting of the jetstream winds. Higher cloud tops at 40-60 thousand feet where temperatures are as low as minus 60C produce greater volumes of freezing rain.

Gran Canaria: wildfires raging in city outskirts, metres from hotels. Tourists sent fleeing.

Congo: death toll in Kivu state flooding officially now 12, over 100 missing. Torrential rain and landslides destroy many homes.

Malaysia: extreme flash-flooding and rivers overflowing in Perlis and Kedah regions.

Indonesia: Bengkulu region hit by extreme flash-flooding.

Thailand: Khuan Kalong hit by extreme flash-flooding. Satun province experiencing third major flooding event this year. Thousands of acres of rice paddy rotting. Major dam at Phitsanulok dangerously exceeding capacity.

India: Torrential rains continue to fall in Kerala province, with flash-floods and landslides, casualties reported. Schools and colleges shut. More rain over Mumbai (Bombay), flooded last month, is bringing September to a record month, already the second highest rainfall total recorded.

USA: weird weather has the country split in half. “Parts of the U.S. Midwest and Northeast and adjacent Canada were running 12 – 20°C (22 – 38°F) above average, while parts of the Rocky Mountains and Great Basin were 12 – 20°C (22 – 38°F) below average.” Many northeastern cities have experienced 90F-plus temperature surges over the weekend, setting new record highs for late September. “Provo, Utah (Brigham Young University) had a daytime high of just 42°F on Sunday, which was its coldest day ever notched during September in records going back to 1916.” At the same time it was 93F in Toronto, its hottest day of the year so far and hottest day ever recorded in late September.

USA: Up to 5″ rain and flash flooding warnings out in East Texas.

Antarctica: ‘A-68’, the trillion-tonne monster iceberg the size of Cyprus, that calved from the Larsen-C shelf three months ago, is thought finally to be on the move out into the South Atlantic.

The Weather Channel/ Moana Loa observatory/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #69/ Wunderground/ English Radio News, Spain/ Floodlist/ Reuters

 

End of everything – a brief update

Latest news from the unfolding cataclysm at Yellowstone….

In a recent interview, USGS’ Yellowstone veteran, Bob Smith advised jokingly that it’s when the earthquakes stop you have to worry.

After the longest spell in recent times of earthquake swarms in the caldera, up to 60 a day since early June, complete with alarming ground uplift, tilting lakes, intensification and darkening of the geysers, boiling rivers, dead fish episodes, a pervasive smell of sulfur, reports of static electricity shocks and triboluminescence (an effect of rocks shearing) and the more-or-less continuous rumblings of new magma filling the underground chambers, coupled with the mildly disturbing erasure of USGS reports of selective tremors, monkeying with the seismographic charts and the mysterious failures of online live camera feeds, the tremors appear to have almost stopped….

…except that just outside the caldera along what are suspected to be connected faultlines there are abnormal, ongoing and unusually intense swarms of M3+ earthquakes in Idaho, around Soda Springs, and in Montana since July when an unexpected M5.8 earthquake arrived near Lincoln, coincidentally around the time the Yellowstone swarm began….

…and except for the frequent harmonic tremors, generally regarded as precursors to an eruption.

Meanwhile, M3+ earthquakes have been reported simultaneously, directly beneath the cones of both Mt St Helen’s and Mt Rainier in nearby Washington state – both very large volcanoes, although eruptions are not thought to be imminent they are on the edge of the Yellowstone system. While over in Italy, seismologists are reportedly worrying more by the day that the Campi Flegrei supervolcano in the middle of Naples could be about to erupt. It last had a major eruption in 1553, but the signs are all of it exhaling, yawning and stretching.

One way or another, they’s a gonna getcha. Praise the Lord.

 

Mind the gap

Let it not be said that merely being black, American and/or a ‘rapper’ is invariably an indication of advanced mental degeneration.

However, Mr B.o.B., an all-of-the-above, is making a pretty good show of it.

Please be careful when approaching the edge of the platform. (gizmodo.com)

He has posted a picture of a town somewhere in America with, rising in the background, the towers of Manhattan; arguing that, as the two places are 16 miles apart, but you can see them both, there cannot be any curvature of the earth’s surface between them. The logic is somewhat suspect, since in the photo you can only see the tops of the towers as there is a hill in the way. In any case, the horizon when seen from an average 5’10” person’s eyeline at sea-level is generally viewed at a distance of 3 miles. From the top of Mt Everest it is 209 miles. (Wikipedia) The discrepancy must indicate curvature.

Seeking to raise $200,000 (£150,000) on the GoFundMe crowd-funding website, which would be nice for the BogPo, B.o.B refers to himself as “Flat Earth Bob”. At the time of writing he had raised a little over $650, but the campaign was trending with promise.

“I’m starting this GoFundMe because I would like to send one, if not multiple satellites, as far into space as I can, or into orbit as I can, to find the curve,” he said in a video on the page. “I’m looking for the curve,” he added. – BBC News

B.o.B. (Bobby Ray Simmons Jr) believes the earth is, in fact, a disc. Made, one assumes, hopefully of platinum. He also thinks NASA, the focus of most conspiracy theories in America, employs people to stop you falling off the edge. He has even engaged in profound dialogue with the popular cosmologist du jour, Neil de Grasse Tyson, who in replying politely sounds like he thinks Simmons is a bit of a self-publicizing idiot.

In case you are minded to send him a few dollars, please note that it is far simpler and cheaper just to point him in the direction of the million-and-one images transmitted back to Houston or wherever from the moon, or the International Space Station, that may be found on Google, in which he will see ‘the curve’ displayed in all its splendor, in three dimensions, without needing to clutter space with yet more pointless junk.

No doubt he will look at the images and remark, with his customary wisdom, that it still looks like a disc to him, ‘cos it’s, like, round?

Mind the gap.