Granny Weatherwax: Harvey Special (updates). A fresh plea to the BBC Board to get its fucking ducks in a row.

Rockport, or what’s left of it. Harvey made landfall Friday night with winds gusting to 160 mph. (Google images)

Granny Weatherwax

Monday 28th Update: the BogPo has no special knowledge of the situation in Houston this morning, that cannot be obtained from watching the CNN live feed or visiting the live updates on The Guardian website. The confirmed death toll in Texas still stands fortunately at only two, although much of the devastated town of Rockport remains inaccessible to rescuers. The cleanup bill is so far estimated at $40 billion and FEMA is suggesting it could take two years or more to recover.

We can however make two comments of our own: firstly, that the severe flooding in China and elsewhere over the past two months has been if anything more extreme, with far greater loss of life; images of rivers turned to boiling torrents, carrying away everything in their path, have been horrifyingly evident on the four-day compilations of raw cameraphone footage and local news reports available on a deeply depressing YouTube channel called Climate and Extreme Weather News, from which the BogPo frequently quotes.

The flooding in Houston seems somehow more sinister, just water rising inexorably everywhere. People still seem unwilling to leave their cars and get to shelter. What idiot drives into three feet of water, where is it so important they have to get to, that they risk their lives and others’? With over 6,000 emergency calls from people needing rescue, the mayor of Houston is having to defend himself against the charge that he should have ordered a general evacuation. Have people lost all sense of individual responsibility? This flood was predicted days in advance.

Secondly, there will no doubt be a heated debate over whether or not this possibly once in 1,000-years or more event is being caused by climate change. The answer is yes, in at least three respects. Of course there are major hurricanes and cyclones from time to time. In this case however, three new factors are in play.

One, for every one degree rise in air temperature, 7% more water vapor is retained, leading to heavier rainfall amounts – as has been observed over vast areas this summer, when global temperatures have been up to 1.85 degrees above the 1910-2001 average. Your Granny W. has been keeping tabs on the situation globally for a couple of months now and there can surely be no doubt that increased precipitation is becoming quite alarming.

Two, the sea has been absorbing solar-heated CO2 ten times faster than the air – warmer seas transpire more water vapor and impart more energy to storms. The Gulf is showing a 4 deg. C anomaly this summer above the 26 deg. C level at which hurricanes form. Harvey formed in the Gulf as a huge Cat 4 storm, drawing in cloud mass from other fronts, within just 72 hours. Corresponding cyclones in the eastern Pacific this summer have also benefited from warmer waters, despite the lack of a major El Niño event.

And three, the northern jetstream is behaving chaotically as a result of warmer waters entering the Arctic, the loss of sea-ice reducing albedo enabling further solar warming of the ocean in a blue-water ‘feedback loop’. Fragments of the jetstream, normally a continuous ribbon of high-speed, high-altitude wind around the Arctic circle, have pushed down into the southern states of America this summer and are preventing Harvey from moving further inland.

(I am indebted to the Ottawa University climatologist, Prof. Paul Beckwith, citing websites Earth Nullschool(.org) and Climate Reanalyzer(.org), for much of the above.)

Harvey is now forecast to back south over the coast, where it will pick up new energy and more water before heading off through Louisiana (New Orleans in its path), up into Tennessee around Memphis. Gruesomely, it’s said to be ‘feeding off’ its own rainfall, recycling the floodwaters.

Live updates UK:

Additional summary from:


Houston, we’ve got a problem… (photo Times of India)

Bombay ducks

India: Torrential rain causes major flooding in Mumbai (Bombay), 29 Aug. Three dead including two children as a building collapses. “Incessant rains hit Mumbai for the fourth straight day on Tuesday, flooding vast areas of the city, throwing traffic out of gear on key arteries and affecting trains and flights services in the Maharashtra capital.” More heavy rain forecast.

24-28 Aug.

Sunday 27th: Five dead. 4-6 inches of rain AN HOUR reportedly falling around the eye of Hurricane, now downgraded to Tropical Storm, Harvey, which is stuck virtually at a standstill over most of southern Texas because of the broken jetstream pushing south. Extreme emergency declared in Houston as 100% precipitation brings flash-flood warnings through to next Thursday and tornadoes to the entire region. Up to 50 inches (1200 mm) of rain forecast by Friday.

After growing in speed and energy in the Gulf, from an ordinary storm over the Yucatan peninsula last Wednesday, until it made devastating landfall only 72 hours later, Harvey could be one of the largest weather systems ever recorded, feeding other storms out as far as Florida (40%-60% possibility of forming new Tropical Storm) up to Wisconsin, firehosing a 60,000-foot column of warm water out of the Gulf and dumping it onland, with 92% humidity. People are talking of a ‘reconfigured coastline’ for when this horror is over, not before Wednesday or Thursday.

Saturday 26th: having made landfall near the town of Rockport as a 130 mph Cat 4, Hurricane Harvey is weakening to a tropical storm but still with sustained windspeeds of 75 mph. It’s moving very slowly, about 2 mph, and dumped 14.6-in of rain on the town of Austell in 12 hours. Residents of an old folks home that collapsed in Rockport are feared trapped – the town has sustained severe damage from wind gusting to 160 mph and storm surge.

Many buildings elsewhere severely damaged, 1.9m coastal surge, many requests for help (60% of homeowners refused evacuation!) but as yet no major flooding and no casualties reported, other than a man shot by a nervous householder. Three babies born in Corpus Christi, no doubt boys will be named Harvey?

Forecasters warn it will go on for several days, with potentially ‘catastrophic’ flooding. Trump has ordered federal aid and then decamped to Camp David. Harvey is reported heading for San Antonio where many were evacuated from the coast.

There are also connected storms over Florida and Wisconsin, making this possibly the widest storm system ever recorded. See Paul Beckwith seminar (Prof. of Climatology, Ottawa U.)  at

Waters in the Gulf are up to 4 deg C above ‘hurricane-forming’ temperature. And there are still two months of the season to go.

One of the largest storm systems ever recorded. (photo: ABC News)

More horror

USA: Las Vegas Na, Phoenix Az temps still hitting around 40-42C, 104-108F. Extreme heat warnings (up to 44C, 111F) out over the weekend for many parts of California. 50C, 121F recorded in Death Valley, Sacramento Ca. at 41C, 107F today. This is what, the seventh week of the heatwave? And in Portland, way up there in Oregon, it’s 36C, 98F….

Canada: New wildfires breakout around Kelowna, British Columbia. Over 1,000 homes evacuated. Herd of wild horses killed in Chilcotin forest. Canada’s annual CO2 emissions ‘tripled’ by unprecedented fires this year alone.

Uganda: “Severe flooding has been reported in northern Uganda and Southern Sudan over the last few days, leaving 2,000 people displaced and 2 people missing. Heavy rain has also affected western parts of the country, where a landslide near Bundibugyo has left at least 1 person (6 yo child) dead.” More rain forecast, crops and roads damaged.

Iraq: At 18.00 today, 26th Aug, it’s still 44C, 111F in Baghdad; 40C, 104F in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

China: Death toll from Typhoon Hato confirmed at 12, 153 injured. Towns around Macao still under up to 3.5 metres of water, much damage. Downgraded Hato also brings flash flooding and landslides to the mainland, 4 die in landslide in Yunnan province. Roads, bridges, houses swept away. Moving towards Vietnam.

China: Heavy rainfall brings severe flooding to Hefei city, Anhui province, western China. Guijou province: “A landslide struck some 34 homes in southwest China on Monday, killing two people and leaving another 25 missing in the latest natural disaster to hit the country, according to the local government.”

China: Tropical Typhoon Jolina (Pakhar) makes landfall Sunday at Guandong, south of Hong Kong, brings wind, rain and some flooding to areas already hit last week by Typhoon Hato. Moving westward, expected heavy rain in west and Vietnam, running through by the weekend to flood-hit Myanmar (Burma) and… northern India.

Houston, we’ve got a problem….

India, Pakistan and Bangladesh: Numbers affected by flooding in north now put at 41 million (UN report). Death toll exceeds 1,200. Floodwaters ‘receding’. Food and water shortages, fear of disease outbreaks.

Philippines: Tropical Storm, strengthening to Cyclone, Jolina (Pakhar) with sustained windspeeds of 85 mph is moving NW across Luzon towards China. Likely to hit the same area as Hato, south of Hong Kong/Macau Wednesday.

Venezuela: Six dead and 26 missing after flash flood reported (22nd Aug) washing away a mountain village in Choroni province.

Europe: Regional stations have ‘extreme high temperature’ alerts again for the weekend out across Italy, Corsica, Sicily – up through the Balkans into Bulgaria, Hungary, across to Spain, Portugal and back to Greece – high 80s F to high 90s F, locally higher. Thunderstorm warnings anywhere across north-central and eastern continental Europe.

Bulgaria: wildfire sweeps through Kresna Gorge scenic beauty spot. 15,000 acres affected.

Russia: one dead, several injured in wildfires burning around Volgograd.

Yellowstone: report from USGS on new monitoring equipment installed and Bob Smith’s CAT-scan survey (results embargoed) states that the area has had 15 thousand earthquakes since mid-June – one of the biggest swarms we’ve ever had, says Smith – who goes on to advise cheerily that if there’s going to be an eruption, it’s when they stop you have to worry, ha ha worried smileyface.

(That compares with ‘only’ 1,638 they’ve admitted to publicly….)

BBC and various/ Floodlist/ World Weather Information/ Weather Underground/ Climate and Extreme Weather News #58 (link to https:// Hong Kong Free Press/ Hindustani Times/ Mary Greeley website.


“When will you get it through your silly heads: there is no more ‘debate’ worth having?

A fresh plea to the BBC Board to get its fucking ducks in a row

Dear BBC

I’m starting to believe that there is something seriously amiss within BBC News and current affairs editorial.

A month ago, I felt obliged to protest at the inclusion of a studio guest on the R4 Today programme, who was not as you announced him. Mr Myron Ebell was introduced as a White House energy spokesman and ‘climate-change skeptic’. In order to be a science ‘skeptic’ one has to have some scientific credentials, which Mr Ebell does not: he is a longtime Washington lobbyist with known connections to Exxon Mobil and other energy sector clients.

I had to point out too that in 2005 he was the subject of a Parliamentary early-day motion after a previous appearance on Today in which he made slanderous remarks about the UK’s chief scientist, Dr King. Your researcher ought to have been aware of it, as the information is clearly presented in Ebell’s pretty damning Wikipedia entry.

This morning, yet again, you carried a disingenuous interview with one ‘Dr’ Sebastian L v. Gorka, White House ‘deputy assistant advisor’ (very junior rank!) on Middle East security, who was said to have ‘resigned’ his position in the Trump administration, and who came on to claim that Trump is being ‘undermined’ by elements in the White House – who can only be General Kelly, Trump’s relatively sane new chief policy advisor; daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, the very few people who have been trying to hold the administration together and check the President’s wilder and more tantrum-throwing impulses.

An Orthodox Jew with connections, Kushner has, of course, been tasked (among many other things) with finding a solution to the Palestinian question. I imagine he would have found it somewhat difficult to have to share the ear of the President with a notorious anti-Semitic and Islamophobic, ultra-conservative Christian white nationalist.

It is therefore not thought likely that Gorka ‘resigned’. Indeed, the Huffington Post today offers five very good reasons for firing him – principally that he is, as one reader tweeted, a “fuckin’ lunatic”.

British-born, of Hungarian extraction, educated BA in religious studies at a Jesuit college in London (scraped a 2.2), he was brought on board by Steve Bannon, who also ‘resigned’ last week; the man most widely believed to be the architect of what Gorka calls ‘Trumpism’ (i.e. more tax breaks for the wealthiest; disenfranchisement of Democrat-voting minorities, suppression of Muslims and immigrants, increasing police unaccountability, denial of science, hiking of medical insurance premiums, lowering of the nuclear threshold, dismantling the State apparatus, etc.)

Gorka was most probably removed from office by General Kelly in his ongoing purge of the Bannon faction, that has now retreated to the offices of Breitbart News from where it is sniping at the disorientated President for having gone soft on the alt-right agenda and surrendered to the Pentagon’s demand for a troop surge in Afghanistan.

Knowingly or unknowingly, you give voice to their campaign.

His appearance on Today earlier this month, in which he doubled-down on Trump’s hardline stance on North Korea and told Secretary of State Tillerson to, effectively, stop sticking his nose in, came in for much criticism and ridicule. You also carried a lengthy and uncritical interview with this relatively low-level figure by Emily Maitlis in Washington on Newsnight last month, also with Evan Davies back in February.

Why? You might just as well interview a taxi-driver, a coalminer or a fish-porter.

I fail to understand – unless there are neoliberal ‘disruptors’ working covertly within the BBC – what your fascination is with certain toxic individuals, Mr Nigel Farage being a case in point, who seem never not to be on the air?

‘Mr Gorka’, as you politely call him, is widely disparaged in the US security community as a charlatan. Senior and respected figures in the defence establishment have publicly stated that he has no standing whatever as a security consultant. His ‘advice’ on Islamic terrorism is, they say, no more than humdrum.

He has no field experience or intelligence service background; only a dubious PhD whose rigour has been questioned by US academics specializing in the subject. He has frequently been called “a clown” by genuine intelligence personnel.

A self-proclaimed former advisor to the hardline Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, Gorka has also been associated with László Toroczkai, the hardline anti-Islam mayor of Assothalom, the town where (the BBC reported) the road traffic signs say No Muslims. He came to the transition team only via an association as a contributing editor to Steve Bannon’s fake news Breitbart website, and as the husband of transition-team security ‘consultant’, New York steel heiress Katherine Cornell; another veteran of rightwing think tanks whose websites are inexplicably suspended.

Since your programme researchers appear not to have done their homework, let me explain that in January, Gorka was the subject of a Congressional enquiry (still ongoing) over his immigration status, as the ‘v.’ initial he retains in the way he prefers his full name to be presented stands for ‘Vitez’.

That’s a coded reference to his well-attested (but denied) membership of a far-right nationalist group in Hungary with a wartime history of collaboration with the Nazis in the extermination of 800 thousand Jews, the Vitezi Rend; whose pin-badge he sports in public. Gorka failed to declare this on his immigration form, a federal offence for which his deportation was being called.

Is it the BBC’s policy to present paid liars and neo-Nazi-sympathising nonentities, apparently uncritically and without reservation, as credible spokesmen for the failing Trump administration? You are playing with fire. As with your Brexit coverage, the critical voices of moderate opposition to the neoconservative agenda are barely detectable; in your unfailing politeness towards this despicable President we only ever seem to hear from lobbyists, conspirators, fantasists, old neocons from the Strauss/Wolfowitz era, and fellow-travellers.

Second complaint

A propos, in the interests of ‘balance’, which is no balance at all, against former Vice-President Al Gore, who had a movie to plug, you exhumed Nigel, Lord Lawson last weekend on Today to put forward his indefensible, inexpert and well-remunerated views on the climate crisis. When will you get it through your silly heads: there is no more ‘debate’ worth having. The matter is settled: climate change is man-made, the warming is speeding up dangerously, tipping-points are being reached.

No-one argues about it now, other than those with vested interests and dimwitted internet trolls. Oh, and BBC programme editors.

In view of the fact that his paymasters at Exxon Mobil have been comprehensively outed in the New York Times, who commissioned a serious, peer-reviewed academic analysis proving conclusively that the oil giant whose £100k a day CEO is now the US Secretary of State has been lying about its own research for the past 40 years, your editors need now to stop this frankly evil pretence that paid climate-change deniers have anything more to say.

I am concerned that the worldwide crisis is being treated in such a piecemeal fashion. Were the listeners and viewers to rely solely on your output, we might know for instance that there have been ‘monsoon floods’ in India, as if the displacement of over 40 million people, with 1,200 deaths, the loss of crops, the lack of drinking water, over a three-month period (including a month preceding the monsoon season) were a normal event – when vast areas of Myanmar, Thailand, the United States and especially China have also been underwater, and where river flooding, landslides, flash-floods, droughts, wildfires and heatwaves have been breaking records once again, in countries all around the world.

We have indeed heard from you that there has been an epochal hurricane in Texas, a landslide in Sierra Leone (possibly a thousand dead after 80 cm of rain fell in a night) or that ten thousand tourists were evacuated from a wildfire in the South of France, or that 64 people were burned to death in Portugal, or that it’s a bit hot in southern Europe. But would we have learned that these extreme events are part of a much wider, increasingly random pattern?

No, because your half-witted, uninformed broadcasters continually cut to the BBC weather presenter and ask if this weather event or that is a sign of climate change, like annoying children in cars, ‘are we there yet?’, and invariably the cautious experts have to reply ‘We can’t tell from just one event’. Of course they bloody can’t! But it’s not just one event, is it?

We would probably not know from your coverage of this existentially important story that, in some cases for the third year in a row:

  • California and the SW states have suffered six weeks of 100 deg-plus temperatures;
  • Las Vegas, Kansas City, Houston and New Orleans have all been badly flooded already this summer (before Hurricane Harvey);
  • there has been a succession of powerful storms over New England and the East Coast, causing major flooding events;
  • over a million acres of British Columbia have been burning for months, with tens of thousands of homes evacuated;
  • extensive uncontained wildfires in Siberia and even Greenland have been depositing a layer of soot across the Arctic where sea ice is again at a record low and wave heights increasing, to beak up what is left;
  • people have been dying from a heatwave in Korea; from powerful storms in Russia, in Mexico; from unseasonal tornadoes;
  • 3,000 acres of the ancestral Bielowicza forest in Poland, a World Heritage site at the centre of an EU row over illegal logging has been flattened in violent storms;
  • there is famine in Somalia, millions affected, but flooding in neighbouring Sudan;
  • drought in South Africa but devastating floods and landslides in Sierra Leone and Niger;
  • daytime temperatures in Baghdad and Riyadh have exceeded 42C, 120F over the past two weeks;
  • a temperature of 34C (94F) was recorded in Canada on the Mackenzie River, north of the Arctic circle, last month; 56C (132F) in Iran in June.
  • We would not have seen the satellite data on the weakening jetstreams, that have become fragmented and chaotic as never before.
  • We would not know that atmospheric CO2 levels as high as 840 ppm have been recorded in, for instance, Kazakhstan; or that methane emissions from melting permafrost are at danger levels.

Because you don’t cover the story in any coherent way.

The pattern is consistent and worsening from year to year. Fifteen of the warmest years in at least the past ten thousand have been recorded since 2001. No month in the past thirty years has been colder than its previous year’s equivalent.

Climate change has real geopolitical effects – for instance, backgrounding the North Korea crisis, that country is on the verge of starvation again after a three-year-long drought, with implications for the effectiveness of the military –  and raises serious concerns for our own food security.

All this information can be sourced, if you take the time; the dots connected – but it is beginning to look as if the mainstream media and politicians are either a bunch of ignorant, tax-eating wastrels, or they are deliberately suppressing the gravity of the situation so as not to panic people.

And all we get on the BBC is non-scientists and energy business shills denying that any of this is happening, to a wider background of well-funded denial within the US administration, censorship of research and the hobbling or dismantling of relevant agencies.

Do you perhaps need to find out who is driving your internal editorial policy and ask them some searching questions? Or are they acting on your instruction?

(Postscriptum: this Post appeared two days before a piece in The Guardian by environmental campaigner George Monbiot, making similar points about media coverage.)

Comment threads on YouTube ‘Harvey’ videos are jam-packed with simple folk fervently praying to their friend Jesus to keep Texas and its inhabitants safe. Of course, others are sure the storm is punishment for the wickedness of the LBGT community, as foretold by the Eclipse. The BogPo prefers the more direct, Humanist approach above, it’s just as likely to work!  (photo: The Sun)


The Pumpkin – Issue #31: The Trumpometer of Lies. The train now departed… V.

“See how this new ‘invisible string’ – a great American invention by the way, it’s terrific, I can tell you – cannot be broken, even by me, the most strongly President since Robert E Lee. I intend to use it to build a wall, and Venezuela will pay for it. Venezuela will pay. Venez… er…. mnblzzzz”


“They don’t care, he’s such a refreshing change from infantile, self-serving crooks in the White House.”

The Trumpometer of Lies

My Readers, Spammers, Likers, Followers and Those No Longer Reading This, muh bogl, have been collectively tweeting-out their anger that there hasn’t been a new issue of The Pumpkin for more than a week.

What, they ask, is happening in Trumpworld? Why are we not being told? What are you covering-up?

Well, the short answer is, he’s been on a working holiday. It didn’t really work, Charlottenberg got in the way, and that Nazi thing, many good people.

But the real answer is that we’re increasingly unable to separate fact from fiction in the parallel universe of the redecorated, yet curiously newly aged-looking White House, where Gen. Kelly; an unpaid security guard who’s sure he left his wallet on the bedside cabinet, and the man with shaky hands who serves the President his fizzy Cokes are the only ones left, out of more than 150 staff a week ago.

(BTW, if anyone has a contact for the decorator I’d like it, given that a) he clearly turns up when expected, b) he can redecorate whole rooms in a few days without getting paint on the rugs, and c) he doesn’t mind not getting paid. Just don’t give me the name of whoever suggested those ghastly clashing gold curtains.)

All the leakers have departed, which is why the failing fake nooze media – and let’s charitably remind ourselves it’s still only August – are frantically pedalling, like a Deliveroo boy on a fixed-wheel bicycle with no front brake, in the absence of any really new news they haven’t reported in some form already.

So, did you know that, like, one of the Russian spy guys with an unpronounceable name who met with Don Jr and the Kush was reported by the failing New York Times, the Washington Post and everyone else eating each others’ stories to have been involved in an unrelated hacking event last year? Neither did we! Wow, that must prove something. Anything.

Oh, and Senator Chuck Mukluk (D. North Alaska, can’t afford a vacation) says he thinks Trump’s gone crazy. We have an interview with him on NBC right after this. We’ll also be talking to a babyfaced Republican think-tank intern who says you shudn’t say things like that about our President. And what’s happened to the BLGTQ+ ban? Did that get lost at sea in the colliding warships scandal? Or was it just another misspelled word in a furious tweet?

When something does happen in the White House, it’s as if it happened last week too; and the week before, and will happen again maybe next week. The amnesia is contagious. Was it last week he was threatening nuclear war against Korea? Or was that Venezuela? Iran, or Afghanistan? When exactly was Steve Bannon fired, was that before or after he quit? And is Trump really going to suspend the US government, like his friend President Maduro, if he doesn’t get a wall for Christmas, or was it more a threat to have Senator McConnell assassinated by the FSB for failing to protect him against the Mueller investigation? And who was Sebastian Gorka?

We can’t remember. Our heads hurt.

Every little crap thing Trump does or says eventually merges into one huge crap thing. Serious financial crimes he’s said in thoroughly investigated and double-checked newspaper exposés to have probably committed are lost next day in the poison fog of more of Sarah Huckabee’s mega-Spicey denials – over something even worse she doesn’t want the fakenews press lying about today.

The unPresidential lies fly by, over a thousand to date have been investigated by the Washington Post‘s Trumpometer of Lies and found to be, indeed, alternative truths – it’s got so bad, I’ve started to suspect half of them might just be his weird sense of humour – and none of the sycophants in the crowd of cosmetically maladjusted, gurning American faces that US politicians hunger to be seen orating in front of, like cheering wallpaper, gives a monkey’s uncle whether he’s telling the truth or not.

They don’t care, he’s such a refreshing change from infantile, self-serving crooks in the White House. Drain the swamp!

The liberal media is having a hard time shifting that last 35 per cent.

Boarding house… Texas braces for Hurricane Harvey. (

But is the administration up to handling external disasters? We don’t have to wait for Yellowstone 4 to find out.

Take, for instance, the huge, category 3 or maybe even 4 hurricane, Harvey, that’s starting tonight to obliterate Texas. 125 mph winds and 35 inches of rain are expected in the next few days, which could well see flood-prone Houston wiped off the map. The only media to be worrying that Trump might not be up to handling it and could do for Houston what Bush did for New Orleans, i.e. fuck-all, is the good old Guardian:

“Trump tweeted a video clip of his meeting with Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) officials in early August, with the caption: “Remember, the USA is the most resilient nation on earth, because we plan ahead.”

“Brock Long, Trump’s choice to head Fema, was not confirmed by the Senate until 20 June, three weeks into the Atlantic hurricane season. Trump has not nominated a permanent head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), which plays a key role in weather forecasting.

“Trump’s proposed budget calls for a $667m cut to state and local Fema grant programmes that focus on disaster preparation.” – The Guardian, 25 August.

The federal government support scheme for homeowners in flood-risk areas where insurance costs are rocketing unaffordably, along with their health insurance, is $billions in debt and unlikely to be renewed next month. Mr Long has made his position clear: it’s their own fault for buying in a flood-risk area. (We love Republicans, don’t you? Such charitable Christian attitudes.)

At the same time, Mr Trump has just signed an order overturning an Obama order requiring planners and new-builders to take account of increased flood risk due to climate change.

You can see the problem, can’t you. Little Donny is colouring-in well, but doesn’t join dots easily.

It’s a pity he didn’t notice the motto of The Boy Scouts of America while he was regaling them with salacious stories of orgies aboard his friends’ private yachts:

Be Prepared.


Mr Trump’s weird logic

Unwilling to court the risk of the same criticism that dogged President W Bush after his feeble response to Hurricane Katrina, Mr Trump has said he will tour the disaster areas of Texas on Tuesday. The reason he is waiting until then is, he says, because he doesn’t want his visit with all the security detail and fuss taking up officials’ time when they’ve got more important work to do.

Chrysler’s new sub. These lunatics just will not give up their cars (what do they think is causing the problem in the first place?)

This admirable concern for the welfare of the beleaguered locals contrasts oddly with the $millions of dollars in lost trade shops and businesses in the area of Trump’s golf resorts, especially Mar-a-Lago in Florida, have to suffer when he travels down on vacation every weekend, the incredible cost to the taxpayer of the now near-bankrupt security service watching out for no fewer than 42 members of the Trump family’s safety all round the world, on promotional business trips and skiing holidays, and the $millions cost of the major disruption around Trump buildings in New York whenever the First Family goes home, that has led to demonstrations by angry ratepayers and motorists.

The image of Saint Donald isn’t working, somebody please tell him.


“The Pumpkin did just momentarily pause to consider whether the Golden Orb doesn’t sometimes inject a strange and warped sense of self-satirizing humour into his more ridiculous utterances?”

The train now departed…

Among the latest resignations from the intolerable conditions in the Trump White House is 31-year-old Mr Andy Hemming, the man known as the ‘news fluffer’, who was famously employed to research and present the infant-President-narcissist twice a day with a file of cuttings detailing only the most flattering stories about his many brilliant achievements in office.

According to Farron Cousins at Ring of Fire, a shouty online comment vlog:

“His official title was Director of Rapid Response for the White House Communications Team, and in addition to feeding the President positive news stories about himself, he was also supposed to communicate with members of the mainstream media, CNN, Washington Post, credible news sources like that, and tell them all the good things that the President had accomplished.”

The Trumpkin wakes: is anyone safe?

Mr Hemming has as yet offered no explanation for why he has given up the $90k a year job, but one suspects that eventually everyone has to bow to the inevitable. The 71-year-old Trump is said to often scream hysterical abuse at staffers who do things he doesn’t like, or who try to tell him what to do, or when he is just feeling unloved. If no-one in the office has upset him, he screams instead at things he sees on the TV. And he can’t help himself acknowledging that some Nazis are fine people.

He is certifiably out of his depth in the job, if not actually mentally deranged, but he still has enough terrified Republicans fearful of regime collapse to go on CNN and defend him that his mooted removal by the Vice-President citing the incapacity clause of the 25th Amendment always seems another arm’s length away.

Not that one would wish the ambitious, snow-capped hypocrite Pence on any nation. Impeachment and removal of the dangerously unpredictable ’45’ will only inflict the same tax-cutting policies on the poor, more drone strikes on innocent villagers, more hardworking immigrant families ripped apart, but with a leavening of nauseating ‘Jesus saves’ Christianity to justify the barbarities.

Also, he won’t be half the fun.

Windmills of the mind

Officials at the Department of Energy may also soon be departing en masse, following a bizarre error in which a report doctored on the orders of Trump and his cretinous Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, to show what a dismal failure renewable energy has been and how great th’ Murcan orl ‘n coal ‘n nucular bidness is was found post-publication to still contain the original conclusion that it has in fact been a rip-roaring success.

In edited form, Cousins reports:

“A draft version of the Department of Energy’s energy grid study was released, and it showed that everything that the Trump administration and Republicans had been saying about renewable energy was completely false. … The report showed that our energy grid today, with renewable energy growing at an exponential rate, is stronger than ever.

“Before the final draft came out … Perry and his Department … took it upon themselves to rewrite (it) and make the entire study about how horrible renewable energy is, and how it is killing coal, killing nuclear, and killing our electrical grid in the United States.

“There’s just one problem. They didn’t delete all of the information. … Perry didn’t think to read through the whole thing. And so those statements got left in, directly contradicting what they had taken out (or) rewritten.

“That’s the level of stupid that we are dealing with, with this Trump administration.”

In a highly amusing excursion on another online current affairs discussion forum, The Young Turks reflected on part of Trump’s now notorious unhinged and self-pitying farrago of lying nonsense at his 2020 re-election rally in Phoenix earlier this week, that prompted the New Yorker magazine to ask “Is Trump Losing It?”

At one point the world’s leading expert on everything was rambling on about energy policy, and began waxing lyrical on the subject of ‘clean coal’. Supposedly a reference to the as-yet untried, hugely expensive and completely impracticable system known as Carbon Capture and Sequestration, it soon became clear to the shuffling embarrassment of his hovering officials that Trump thought it meant you just had to wash the dust off the coal before burning it.

As the alternative media erupted in laughter at this foolishness, once again The Pumpkin did just momentarily pause to wonder if the Golden Orb doesn’t sometimes inject a strange and warped sense of self-satirizing humour into his more ridiculous utterances?

I mean, can anybody really be that stupid?


“He will no doubt be banging on Bannon’s door pleading for his old job back as a Breitbart security correspondent with decided views on the Judaeo-Islamic menace.”


It’s not often The Pumpkin is scooped by national media, but the time difference between Washington and Boglington-on-Sea means the editor was fast asleep in bed when news came through that yet another senior Bannon appointee to Trump’s staff has fled the coop.

Although in a curious way he wasn’t. He seldom dreams, but in the early hours he dreamed he saw some boys had caught a large fish and were trying to dispatch it by hitting it on the head with an iron bar. He went to help but realized it was not a fish but a large ginger cat (!). Why are you killing the cat? he demanded to know, but there was no answer. So he took the injured cat in his arms and set off for home, where he fed it warm milk through a pipette. After it died, he went back to beat the crap out of the boys. Then he woke up, needing to pee again.

It must mean something.

Sebastian L v. Gorka was a bit of a charlatan, wasn’t he? A ‘Senior assistant advisor’ on global security, no-one in the close-knit US security establishment had taken him seriously for one moment. Nevertheless he was influential in persuading the ginger cat – I mean, the President – to order his failed Muslim ban, on grounds that stopping families flying in from Lebanon for a few months would protect the entire population of the US against Islamic terrorism.

Born in London to Hungarian nationalist refugee parents, ‘Dr’ Gorka secured a poor 2.2 degree from a Jesuit college, which he somehow later converted after five years of study to a PhD at an obscure university in Budapest, majoring on the threat of Islam, and in 1998 became an ‘advisor’ to the hardline Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. He married Kathy Cornell, an American steel heiress, and worked in various rightwing, anti-Islamist thinktanks. In 2012 he became a naturalized American citizen.

That caused some controversy, when after a TV appearance during which it was noticed that he was wearing a distinctive type of tunic and sported the pin-badge of a far-right Hungarian group, the Vitezi Rend, two Senators raised a question in the House about his immigration form, on which he had failed to declare his membership of a ‘neo-Nazi organization’. After the invasion of Hungary by Nazi troops in 1944, Vitezi Rend had allegedly been active in helping to round up 800,000 Jews to be exterminated.

Gorka denied being a member and said he was merely honouring the memory of his father, however the organization’s leadership in Hungary confirmed that he was still a member; while experts pointed to the lowercase ‘v.’ he retains in his name as another sign of his allegiance to the 20,000-strong party. Failure to declare membership of a banned organization is a federal offence, for which he could be stripped of his citizenship.

Describing him in their now-customarily lazy fashion as ‘White House security expert’ – in much the same way as last month they described White House ‘environmental expert’ Myron Ebell as a ‘climate-change skeptic’ (he’s actually a paid energy bidness lobbyist from the slimier levels of the Washington swamp, with no scientific credentials to justify the description ‘skeptic’) – the BBC, which had only recently featured a lengthy and totally uncritical interview with Gorka on a Newsnight special, gave no reason for his departure.

The Guardian, which is a bit more on the ball when it comes to the murky doings of key personnel in this dysfunctional administration, reminded readers that Gorka’s response to the fire-bombing of a mosque by white supremacists had been to suggest it was a false-flag attack; he also went on record as saying Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson had nothing to contribute on the subject of North Korea – the idea was nonsensical – and “you should listen to the President”.

His departure at the behest of General Kelly has been welcomed in several quarters. He will no doubt be banging on Bannon’s door pleading for his old job back as a Breitbart security correspondent with decided views on the Judaeo-Islamic menace.

Gorka’s 12-month tenure as a member of Trump’s transition team and on the admin staff however serves to illustrate the extent to which the Orange Buffoon was completely out of his depth on taking office, knowing nobody he could trust to occupy any position of power and responsibility, and how he was seemingly willing to appoint anyone Bannon recommended.

The Pumpkin respectfully offers odds of 10 to one on Bannon’s protegé, the oleaginous mock-sinister college vampire Stephen Miller, being next on the Kelly death list; the problem being, none of these bungling quasi-fascist amateurs has yet been replaced by anyone giving off any more signs of competence and mental stability.

Meanwhile the President, smarting over his drubbing by the press in the wake of his disastrous handling of the Charlottesville killing, is pressing ahead under cover of the fascinating horror unfolding in Texas with the nastiest and least well-received measures on his little hate list; although thankfully his triumvirate of retired generals seems to have kept him from pressing the button over North Korea. So far.

Prison camp. (Photo:

Having been rebuffed last month by the heads of every branch of the military and coastguard, he has now sent out a memo officially ordering them to ban transgender recruits, against their advice; and he has used the Presidential pardon to exonerate the racist Maricopa County, Az. police chief Joseph Arpaio, 85, who was recently sentenced to six months in gaol for contempt of court after refusing to back down over a campaign illegally targeting anyone for police searches who ‘looked like an immigrant’.

Mr Arpaio was also responsible for many years for the ‘Tent City’ prison, an area of a federal corrections facility where specifically Latino prisoners, men and women convicted mostly of minor offences, were housed in leaky old Korean-war military tents, summer and winter, the men forced to wear pink underwear and socks and fed an exclusively vegetarian diet to prevent them escaping.

Arpaio, who likes to be described as ‘America’s toughest Sheriff’, claims to have saved millions of dollars by not having to build proper facilities for housing some of Arizona’s vast population of people serving time at the behest of judges who profit from the numbers of convicts they send to private gaols, where they are effectively used as slave labor. Convicted felons also face lifetime voting bans, which keeps mostly Democrats away from the polls. According to website

“… over the course of his six terms in office, Arpaio has cultivated the image of a guy who’s not only tough on crime but also creative when it comes to cutting expenses. But what Arpaio doesn’t note in his stream of press releases about Tent City is that inmate abuses and misuse of funds in the jail system he oversees have cost the county nearly $200 million over the last 15 years.”

It might also be cautiously suggested that being tough on crime hasn’t exactly reduced the prison population: over 500 thousand people have passed through Tent City since it started.

Hoping to go down with the dumbfucks as ‘America’s toughest President’, abusing the purpose and powers of the pardon to obstruct, rather than redress, the course of justice, the simple-minded Trump has made good on his threat to pardon this abusive old monster, no doubt the model down the years for numerous movie depictions of brutal racist county sheriffs, arguing that he is a great American who has served his country for over 50 years.

It’s also good practice for when he has to thwart justice, to pardon himself.


“One of the dizzying lessons of this presidency is that outrage can be dulled by outrage, that fury at one atrocious act is hard to sustain if fury at another soon replaces it.” – Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian, 26 Aug.


Koreans cool off, but the country is in the soup (from 2015).

Summer 2017 has seen the third successive year of extreme heat in the peninsula (photo: The Telegraph). Drought in the north after three years is calling into question the ability of Kim Jong-un’s army to fight a war as soldiers and peasants alike are reportedly malnourished and on the verge of starvation, owing to food shortages exacerbated by corruption and years of sanctions.

Is what you see what you get – was it ever? Oops, there goes another bank. Enemies of the People. Plus: Granny Weatherwax report – Obituary: Exxon Mobil.

“Scientific reports and articles written or cowritten by Exxon Mobil employees acknowledged that global warming was a real and serious threat. They also noted it could be addressed by reducing fossil fuel use….”

Of which, more later…


“That rich, creamy texture, the luxurious mouthfeel of your Black Cherry yoghurt dairy product is entirely due to the addition of flour, mashed potato and fat.”

Is what you see what you get? Was it ever?

Corn flour. Rice flour, Dried potato…

Making nachos? Tortilla maybe? Something Tex-Mex, anyway?

No, just peering more closely for the first time at the tiny-print list of ingredients in a Morrison’s ‘The Best’ yoghurt.

In recent weeks I’ve become semi-addicted to these smaller, 150g pots, as a quick snack you can’t pig on. They have great flavours: I’m hung up on their new Raspberry with Amaretto flavour, which has succeeded my thing for Key Lime Pie. I’m also a big fan of Corsican Lemon, you can taste the Corsican in it (of course he can! Innit?).

But my campaign to get rid of this medicine-ball I am carrying around on my front does not seem to have advanced much, despite the sacrifice for the past whole month of my nightly bottle of Merlot.

Now I know why.

I suppose I asked for it, really. The corn starch, the rice flour, the dried spud, the non-specified ‘flavourings’, the ‘carrot concentrate’, the salt, the dextrose, the ‘mono and di-glycerides of fatty acids’ that go to make up a healthy dairy product.

It’s all part of our increasingly dystopian present, where nothing is what it says it is on the front of the pack.

And in some ways a return to the bad old days, when grocers would adulterate comestibles like flour and sugar with cheaper ingredients or just, basically, stuff to make up extra weight on the scales. That rich, creamy texture, the luxurious mouthfeel of your Black Cherry yoghurt dairy product is entirely due to the addition of flour, mashed potato and fat.

During the war, the second one that is, coffee was rationed pretty well everywhere in Europe, on both sides, and so people of ingenuity started grinding up acorns instead of coffee beans.

It must have become an acquired taste, because after the war (UB personally dates from 1949) the BogPo remembers a filthy brown liquid substance that looked like runny Marmite, sold in bottles and marketed as ‘Camp coffee’.

God knows what it was made from then, but today the good news is you can still buy it! Mister Tesco writes:

“Chicory & Coffee Essence with added sugar. Camp is a firm family favourite as a hot drink when mixed with warm milk. Pack Size: 241ml.

  • Same servings
  • Less mess
  • Easy pour and store
  • Suitable for coffees, cakes & more”

Camp. Accept no substitute.

I’m not sure we have many firm families left nowadays that you can mix with warm milk, but more good news from the comprehensive World of Google, there’s a Camp Coffee Club you can join! “Your one stop shop for delicious recipe inspiration. We’ve got recipes for cakes, bakes, drinks & more, all with one key ingredient …” yes, New Added pathetic marketing bullshit!

But we shouldn’t attack this obvious national treasure of a brand, this democratic institution, this Great British Values coffee substitute made from a bitter salad vegetable with added sugar, in a world where you can buy 250 different delicious single-estate varieties of real ground coffee beans from every continent – albeit a Scottish invention and manufactured north of Hadrian’s wall – for doing so will bring down upon your head the wrath of Dacre, he of The Mail:

Camp coffee forced to change label by the PC brigade

Read more:
as I’m sure you will want to, because this is really disgraceful. (It’s also ten years ago. Get over it. Ed.)

See, those dastardly Europeans with their garlic-chewing, sovereignty-swallowing PC police had complained that the label showing a turbanned Sikh provendering a British soldier of the Raj wi’ his nightly cup o’ Camp Coffee made with Warm Milk was RACIST!

“The makers of the chicory-flavoured essence are now using an image of a Scottish soldier sitting side by side drinking coffee with a turbanned Sikh.”

(Nothing about homophobic too.)

I’m not sure whether the objection is based on the original objection, or whether the very idea of a white – more probably ginger – man sitting down to share an unhealthy sugary brew with a brown man in a turban is the problem. I should have thought the image of interracial fellowship would have been a cause for celebration, but apparently not. Certainly not at The Daily Mail, to which all foreigners are anathema. (Or as young people now say, haram.)

As with all Mail headlines, it repays the offended reader to look more closely at the story. In which case, you will read that the makers of Camp were entirely silent on the subject of political correctness: “A spokeswoman for Camp Coffee now owned by the giant McCormick foods group refused to reveal if the race criticism was the reason for the changes in the labels…”

However, it appeared that in a re-run of the Indian Mutiny of 1854, anonymised random ‘Asian shopkeepers’ were refusing to stock the brand, citing Sikh abuse.

Thus an absurd comment from The Central Scotland Racial Equality Council has welcomed the latest updating, claiming that it will “help change the mentality of young people to see how different races now relate.”

Yes, I’m sure all young Scots learn their civics from obscure product labels, especially now the schools have given up teaching the subject, and will change their mentality accordingly. Unless, that is, the Sikhs are playing for the wrong team, or queuing alone for the late-night bus.

To be fair, the list of ingredients does begin with ‘Yoghurt’ (milk). It is also 18 per cent Raspberries; which, as they are even at the height of summer still priced at an unseasonal £2 for about 20 in a plastic tray, flavoured with botrytis mould, represents excellent value; and two per cent Amaretto. So for 65 pence – 2.3 pence a gramme – you’re not getting something that’s completely ersatz; whatever ‘flavourings’ means.

However, as climate change continues to change the climate, and yearly floods and droughts drive avocados and iceberg lettuces from the shelves, keep an eye on those changing labels. Let me know when you come across your first product made with added acorns, that isn’t an actual oak forest.

Because you never know in these changing times, what you’re getting for your money.


“…companies need to start paying people properly”

Oops, there goes another bank.

With shades of Northern Rock, the secondary lender Provident Financial has shed 75% of its stock market value overnight as it downgraded its profit forecast from £60 million to a loss of £120 million, following the departure of the nominatively deterministic CEO, Peter Crook.

Optimistically, Mr Crook paid himself – correction, was quite properly remunerated by the committee – £6.3 million last year, while presiding over a major change in the business model of the ‘doorstep lender’, specializing in lending money at high rates of interest to people no-one else would lend to, obviously because they couldn’t pay it back.

Rocky 2? The Great Northern Run.

Less than two years after the gibbering idiots of business welcomed it in to start trading its incredibly overvalued shares on the London stock market, Provident Financial (an oxymoron if ever there was) has withdrawn its proposed dividend to shareholders, who now get nothing.

It remains to be seen if the ailing bank can remain on its feet, as there is no money left at the Treasury for bailing UK banks out to the tune of £1.3 trillion, as they did in 2008. Fortunately the loan book isn’t all that huge, about £500 million. If PF does collapse, other banks will snap that up: bad debt is good news, especially for the hedge funds.

The collapse follows a saga in which the FSA, the Financial Services Authority, expressed concern that PF relied on an army of untrained, commission-only local volunteers to sell its high-priced loans to family, friends and neighbours. As they would have no idea about the rules and regulations, the Authority recommended that PF should switch for safety to a professional salesforce. Instead, they decided in a spirit of 21st century modernity, no doubt egged-on by consultants, to go all-electronic, and the recovery rate of their loans fell off a cliff.

In addition, they’re being investigated over the propriety of a product offering to freeze people’s credit card debts – for a substantial fee, naturally.

It’s probably not the start of another major run on the banks and a new, even worse recession.

Not yet. But it’s a bellwether warning: financiers have got to learn to stop messing with these toxic products.

And companies need to start paying people properly, so they don’t have to fall back on this lethally dangerous money just to make ends meet.

Happy Birthday to Us

The newly-late SciFi author, Brian Aldiss’ readers may recall a short story of his, in which a giant advertising agency decides after a lengthy ‘blue sky’ creative session to mark the 100th anniversary of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by rolling out the mothballed Enola Gay and repeating the exercise.

Calendar-watchers will no doubt be appreciating the synchronicity of Provident Financial’s precipitous spiral into near-death, coming as it does exactly 10 years to the week since French giant BNP Paribas first put its hand up to ask nervously, where all the money had gone?


Granny Weatherwax

Obituary: Exxon Mobil

The New York Times, in a comprehensive study for Environmental Research Letters, has for the first time commissioned a comprehensive analysis of communications issued by and within one of the world’s largest oil and gas exploration and supply companies over the last 40 YEARS. This is what they have to say to the self-important little ‘look at me, I’m so in-denial’ troll-wankers, bought politicians who don’t give two hoots what happens to your grandchildren as long as they’ve got lots and lots of money, fake scientists and fossil-fools, the Lord Lawsuit liars of the planet:

“Our findings are clear: Exxon Mobil misled the public about the state of climate science and its implications. Available documents show a systematic, quantifiable discrepancy between what Exxon Mobil’s scientists and executives discussed about climate change in private and in academic circles, and what it presented to the general public.

“Scientific reports and articles written or cowritten by Exxon Mobil employees acknowledged that global warming was a real and serious threat. They also noted it could be addressed by reducing fossil fuel use….” – NYT, 22 Aug.

(Research was funded by Harvard University Faculty Development Funds and by the Rockefeller Family Fund, which also helped finance the reporting by Inside Climate News and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, which published its examination of Exxon Mobil with The Los Angeles Times. Top photo: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters/The Guardian)

Now watch the lawsuits fly!

19-23 August

USA: Hurricane Harvey intensifying to Category 3 in the Gulf with sustained windspeeds of 115 mph. Thousands evacuating low-lying coastal areas. First major hurricane to make landfall in 11 years.

“An incredible amount of rain, 15 to 25 inches with isolated amounts of up to 35 inches, is predicted along the middle and upper Texas coast, because the storm is expected to stall and unload torrents for four to six straight days. The National Hurricane Center said it expects “devastating and life-threatening” flash flooding.”

Six inches of rain overnight 21st causes flash-flooding in Kansas City for the second time in two weeks, all-time record river highs. One dead.

India: 2 million displaced by floods in Uttar Pradesh, 72 dead. Rivers reach record highs. Death toll in Bihar rises to 253 since flooding first began after continuous heavy rain from 10 August. Almost 7,000 villages affected, 700 thousand people displaced.

Sierra Leone: 820 people still missing after Regent landslide, near Freetown. What caused it? Nearly 81.3 mm (11-in.) rain fell in 12 hours, 70mm in 7 hours. Weather bureau calls for better planning resilience.

Somalia famine bites. (

Somalia: deaths from starvation being reported by charities struggling to save millions trapped in three-year drought also affecting northern Nigeria. “More than 6 million Somalis — about half the country’s population — are in need of emergency aid, UN says.”

China: Typhoon Hato makes landfall near Macau. 12 confirmed dead, dozens injured, properties damaged by 128 mph gusts. Macau under 3ft of water. “The most powerful typhoon to hit Hong Kong in five years has forced schools and businesses to close, and hundreds of flights to be cancelled.”

Italy: “The incredible moment a car melted … has been captured on camera by a British tourist… The Renault Megane was parked in the coastal town of Caorle in northern Italy, as temperatures hit 37C (99F). ‘We drove past and just couldn’t believe what we were seeing. Bits of the car were literally dripping off on to the road’. The heatwave … has claimed the lives of more than 100 pensioners.”

Croatia: new wildfires raging around the town of Dubci. Wildfires burning also in Republic of Georgia.

  • Please understand: in addition to massive quantities of greenhouse gas emissions emanating from wildfires these are some of the most scenically beautiful parts of the world we are destroying, with terrible loss of wildlife.

Turkey: torrential rain on the 22nd causes violent flash flood in Kuruçasile. Roads, bridges washed away.

Switzerland: 8 people missing after “landslide on Wednesday morning sent mud, rocks and dirt flooding into the village of Bondo, near the Italian border. About 100 people were evacuated…”

UK: Heavy rainfall causes flash flood in Northern Ireland. 120 rescued, roads washed away.

World: hottest places this week include California, Medina (Saudi Arabia), Algeria – all with local temps at 106F (NB in Algeria it’s 20.00, Saudi 22.00, those are evening temps!). Lake Havasu, Arizona 104F, Conceicao Do Araguaia (Brazil), Mauretania at 102F.

  • It’s minus 62F, -52.2C at the Scott-Amundsen base, South Pole, so much for global warming, haha!

Climate and Extreme Weather News #57/ Floodlist/ Washington Post/ Sky News/ Daily Mail/ BBC News/ WX.Now


“I dug deep into the festering piles of songbooks under the piano and there it was…”

Without a song…

I was raised on The Great American Songbook, as musicians like to call that vast body of work produced in the 1930s, 40s and 50s in what used to be known as Tin Pan Alley.

My parents being theatricals, they and their frequently gay actor friends had camp tastes in music. It was the beginning of the 12-inch LP age, and we had acquired a smart new radiogram with a six-stack autochange Garrard turntable. I grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Marlene Dietrich – later, Barbra Streisand.

I thought later on when I first came out of the closet as a jazz singer that I knew pretty much most of it, that’s still performed, and could recall most of the lyrics, about 70 per cent – and the melodies, about 90 per cent – maybe 60 songs, some of which I endeavour to learn properly these days in order to perform them on the rare occasions, usually in workshop situations, when I get to sing at an audience. (If only I could find a piano player locally who knows the canon and doesn’t want paying!)

Which is why I’m constantly surprised still to be stumbling across songs I’ve never even heard before, that have been around for decades, and everyone else seems to know them and I don’t.

For instance, there’s a beautiful song by Raph Rainger, lyrics by Leo Robin, from an instantly forgettable film called Rose of the Rancho, starring John Boles and Gladys Swarthout (Who they? Ed.)

The New York Times critic wrote of this 1936 remake of the 1914 Cecil B de Mille silent original: “Gladys Swarthout’s voice can be heard, if you listen carefully, above the groans and bone-creakings of the plot”. The song has fared better. I ‘discovered’ If I Should Lose You only a couple of months ago when I heard a heartstopping instrumental version by Chet Baker on an album of duets with the Canadian pianist Paul Bley, and thought, I’ll bet there are lyrics to that….

My search for them turned up literally dozens of interpretations of the song on YouTube from artists as diverse as Nina Simone, Carmen McRae, Charlie Parker, Sadao Watanabe and even Archie Shepp.

It was an eye-opener. Yet after failing to find anything more than a chord chart on the indefatigable iRealPro app, nor in the vasty reaches of the internet thing, I dug deep into the festering piles of songbooks under the piano and there it was, in the second edition of the first volume of The Real Vocal Book, the green one (the cover’s actually turned blue with age), on page 161.

So now I know it.

I think one of the strangest ‘new’ musicians I’ve stumbled across like this in my ongoing online researches (that usually end with me calling in to the Amazon store and ordering the goddam CD, which is why I’ve had to give up drinking) is ‘Simone’ (Bettancourt de Oliviera), singer, basketball player and Rio club owner.

Simone: Brazilian legend.

I came across her (?) only yesterday while browsing through dozens of versions of another song I’d never heard before, that everyone else apparently is intimately familiar with. This, despite my years of listening to, collecting and singing Brazilian jazz from the 1960s and 70s: The Island (in its English translation – ‘Começar de Novo’ in the original) is seemingly an unbelievably well-known song by the popular singer-songwriter, Ivan Lins.

Simone is incredibly famous in Brazil. She’s made over 32 albums, worked with all the greats of Brazilian music, was described by Quincy Jones as one of the greatest singers in the world (I expect he says that to all the girls), and reportedly once attracted an audience of 150 thousand to a stadium concert. ‘Começar’ is listed as her greatest hit.

Yet as I approach my 68th birthday I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of her, or the song, before. And it’s been recorded by people like (actually there were never any other people like) Sarah Vaughan, Johnny Mathis, Shirley Horn, Patti Austin, Barbra Streisand – and in a smoochily erotic version, by Jane Monheit*. The English lyrics by Marilyn Bergman are almost pornographic, as the song is in fact the theme to a long-running, steamy TV soap-opera detailing the lives and loves of an oil-industry dynasty. (No, it’s not Dynasty. Keep it together.)

And here is Simone too, on YouTube, singing Começar de Novo alongside Lins at the piano. She has a habit, it seems, of kissing all her collaborators daintily on the cheek – look, there she’s doing it again to the great Milton Nascimento, possibly the most unlikely-looking singing star ever, the Brazilian equivalent of Ed Sheeran – the strange thing being, a former national team basketball player, Simone looks to be over six feet tall, she’s got a deeper voice than I have, and I’m a bass-baritone.

Not for nothing, therefore, does one suspect that this glamorous, sequinned Caster Semenya of the music world – middle-of-the-road, heavily orchestrated jazz, I suppose – with (if I may say so in this day and age) a pleasingly well-developed cleavage – well, as it says in the warning note at the top of her fulsome Wikipedia entry, This article has multiple issues.

It’s truly a great song, but the chords look horrendously difficult. I may not be singing it anytime soon.

*People often stop to ask me, what has happened to Jane Monheit? One of the most beautiful voices in jazz, ever; technically accomplished, now 40 Jane seems sadly to have been swallowed up by the plangently-orchestrated, slushy middle-of-the-road commercial end of the industry, guesting on US TV ‘specials’; perhaps understandably, since there’s no money in jazz – while her much commented-upon body dysmorphia problem has rather pushed her out of the limelight. Shame.


Enemies of the People

Mr Trump’s latest ‘poor little me’ assault on the enemies of the people, the bad, bad mans in the failing fake news media who hate America and say such nasty lies about him lying about stuff and supporting bad Nazis, some of whom are great people, is fine in my book.

I’m pissed off (again) with the BBC.

If Brexit means that British businesses are going to have to cut deals with the remaining 27 countries of the EU, either collectively or individually, it’s pretty bloody clear, isn’t it, that their exports and activities on the faraway Continent are going to have to come under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

The ECJ is the ultimate arbiter of actions brought inside the EU. Twenty-seven countries seem perfectly happy with that. The 28th isn’t.

That’s us. So we’re leaving.

So let’s say you’re a manufacturer in Nuneaton of – I don’t know, tins of beans. And you sell a tin of beans to a housewife in Latvia, and it’s full of botulism and her kids get sick.

Is some Empire Loyalist lunatic in the failing conspiracy known as Brexit, Peter Bone or John Redwood, some dismal throwback like Rees-Mogg going to stand up red-faced, waving his little Union flag, and shout Shame! Give us back our Sovereignty! when the case finally arrives at the ECJ, rather than the Supreme Court in London?

The best these useless cunts (Conservative and Unionist Neo-Thatcherites) can manage to save the day for their dumbfuck Brexit supporters is to propose that we set up an arbitration service, obviously not a court, somewhere in the middle of the Channel, providing lucrative work for indigent QCs who aren’t judges, no, really not, but who will arbitrate or, as it were, judge with, er, foreign counterparts in disputes involving British poisoned beans in Latvia, cases that have come up through the lower courts in, er, possibly Riga.

In other words, the exact counterpart to the ECJ, which at the moment has British judges on the panel and arbitrates in legal disputes. Only we shan’t be losing control of ‘our laws’, our superior ‘British laws’, that won’t apply in Latvia….

This is all so fucking infantile. Embarrassingly so. Toys out of the pram time. We have perfectly good arrangements already to arbitrate in appelate courts all the way up to the Supreme Court in the UK, just as they may do in Latvia, or in any of the rest of the EU, and only rarely is it necessary to appeal above everyone’s heads to Luxemburg, and the Supreme Court really doesn’t mind, because that’s how courts work and it’s more jobs for the boys and girls.

The only people who mind are the cunts, because they’ve promised the dumbfucks that Britain is going to be Great again, and that means total isolation from the Continent, 26 miles away, and its 450 million garlic-munching foreigners.

So I do rather object to the fatuous questioning by Mr Ed Stourton on The World at One today, in which he repeatedly pressed his ministerial guest to break down and confess that the official government position was now that we would still be ‘subservient’ to the ECJ’s decisions after Brexit,  thwarting the legitimate demands of the British People, was it?

It is as if Britain is, what? So fucking great, so important, so superior, so deserving, so – English, that we simply cannot believe in the necessity of economic and security co-operation with neighbouring countries in a globalizing world unless we make the rules. Christ, it’s so sickening, this barbed-wire British exceptionalism: ‘regaining control of our own laws’, our ‘borders’…. It’s a nonsense, and Brexit memes like: ‘none of the foreign students ever goes home’ have been shown by the Home Office finally releasing accurate figures to be gross lies.

Brexit is a complete fraud, a myth served up like a dish of kippers for the minor myriad of dumbfucks who thought it was all going to be so easy, that they only had to tick a box marked Leave, all the hated foreigners would do exactly that and Britain would immediately be Great again, after years of shameful ‘subservience’ to the inferior species across the water.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

And so completely fucking pointless.


Special edition: Weird Stuff. Sea recedes mysteriously etcetera. Congratulations on the weather report, BBC. Paranoia corner: Apoceclypse Now!Thar She Blows! Obituary: So farewell Daedalus

Sea recedes mysteriously etcetera

The scene at Montevideo when the sea receded. Possibly.

On the 13th of August, according to several flaky looking websites such as (Signs of the Times) and JewWorldOrder, the sea rapidly and mysteriously retreated from around Montevideo in Uruguay, up to Porto del Este in neighbouring Brazil, when low tide was not expected.

Fearing a tsunami, people ran for high ground; however, none came, and the waters returned of their own accord some hours later. No large earthquakes were reported in the region at the time.

The phenomenon was matched, according to MBB333, one of those internet weather-watchers, unofficial meteorologists with access to satellite imagery, by correspondingly large waves on the other side of the Atlantic, in Africa. (He may be confusing it with a storm surge that flooded the seafront at Durban in March.)

At the same time, too, other sites were reporting 40-foot waves slamming into the west coast of South America, again apparently for no reason – although there were eight active cyclones in the Pacific region last week, and a couple of M6 subsea earthquakes. No other report of these occurrences can be found in the normal media, but there has been a suggestion that the world may be expanding.

The sea retreating story was also covered by Disclose.TV, an entertaining conspiracies and new world order website. So, given the provenance, and the degree of retweeting going on, and the fact that it didn’t make the mainstream media, you’d say it’s probably not a verifiable tale. Fake nooze.

Yet the BogPo has a curious feeling that there’s a truth to it; it has some explanation, and visual evidence. The conspiracy websites, as well as making stuff up completely, often report real-world events but with their own weird spin on them. They’re not all entirely ‘fakin’ unbelievable if you can just get at the core facts.

MBB333 goes on to discuss something called The South American Roll, a theory that the entire continent is moving as a result of almost all the live volcanoes and seismic activity in South America occurring, as they do, on the west coast.

There has indeed recently been a flurry of activity, volcanoes popping off and a swarm of mid-range earthquakes all down the coasts of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. Indeed, it’s been observable right around the Pacific so-called ‘Ring of Fire’. Could that possibly create pressures that would cause the whole continental plate to rock, briefly lifting the seabed off the west coast? It’s a big place, South America. Heavy. And if the plate (known as a ‘craton’) tilted, you might notice the rivers on the east coast running slower, or even backward? Or could strong lunar pull just have created a supertide?

The Roll does in fact have its own web page, it turns out. South American Roll Watch posts to an incredibly weird site called Earth Changes and the Pole Shift, where strange people contribute cryptic comments in unusual forms of English to a forum on tectonic plate movement and the position of magnetic North.

Bona fide geologists describe tectonics as happening slower than your fingernails are growing, which may account for the general excitement level on the site, which looks not to have been touched since 2010, and ‘the impending pole shift’ – the belief that a periodic flipping of the poles every so many tens of thousands of years is due to create global mayhem any minute now.

However, analysis of the information provided by a mysterious couple, or maybe a group, known as the Zetas suggests that the South American Roll theory predicts a much more violent event. In a curious mixture of scientific-sounding analysis and apocalyptic visions it appears the roll will be more south to north rather than west to east, the continent breaking across the middle creating huge tsunamis in the Caribbean, wiping out whole islands; and inundating the whole of what is now Argentina north of Patagonia. At least, that’s what I think their somewhat crudely drawn maps are telling us.

A similar unusual tidal retreat of about 60 extra metres was observed in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula in 2011:

“The sea began to ebb the arrival of Tuesday afternoon, after the rain left a beautiful rainbow in the sky. Many people took the opportunity to walk along the beach and observe the phenomenon, and collected some shells and snails.”

It sounds rather lovely; nicer than the Zeta’s description of the continent buckling and folding in half across the broken back of the Andes:

“In addition to what will happen to the land mass, we have mentioned exploding volcanoes very near at hand, and water rushing completely over such lowlands as the Yucatan and Panama. How have we failed to relay what is coming? If total destruction does not occur during the 7 of 10*, it will during the hour of the pole shift if not before that time.”

Indeed, to look at the predicted disasters due to result from gravitational effects on the movement of the continental plates, we are supposed to be about to witness as much geological change in a few hours as the earth has not experienced in the last 60 million years. Better buckle up and hang on.

It seems low tides are also getting lower at Acapulco, in Mexico.

Another reason being ‘floated’ for the unexpected tidal outsurge is there’s a massive storm out in the Atlantic that’s created a low-pressure bulge in the ocean surface, drawing water towards it from the coast. Only none has been reported. The sea can be a fickle mistress, and the BogPo’s advice is to admire it from a nearby clifftop or hotel balcony if you want to live a long and happy life.

Lots of heads and horns: the 7 of 10. Or something. (

Currently, there are five major weather systems that are threatening to become hurricanes. These ‘tropical waves’ are pulsing in a chain across the equator from West Africa where they have brought devastating rains, epecially in Sierra Leone where a thousand people may have died in the huge landslip that engulfed a village near Freetown at the weekend. Hurricane Gert is a weak Force 1 that developed out in the Atlantic but is heading northeast away from land. Tropical Storm Harvey is strengthening into a hurricane as it approaches the Leeward Islands. A special watch is being kept on the Freetown system as it barrels out to sea.

So the storm-sucking theory is not improbable, although Montevideo is quite far south of the tropics. One other suggestion being touted around is, of course, that a crack has opened up under the ocean. Mysterious cracks have indeed been reported in Peru, in Mexico, at Yellowstone…. reported the bare-beaches story with an attribution of origin to another site, There, other headline stories concern the pyramids discovered in Bosnia, and a government Paranormal Activity warning out for North Carolina.

The BogPo wonders if they’re seeking the truth quite

We should possibly remind ourselves gently that the total solar eclipse due to track its way across the USA on Monday is creating inspired millennarian chaos all over the conspiracy community; while I see the Russians have realized, they only need to drop a small nuke on Yellowstone and it’s all over for the seven-horned Trump administration.

Watch that space!


*The 7 of 10. I’ve looked it up so you don’t have to. It’s either a geological probability, the number referring to the timing of the impending shift of the poles, a system devised by the Zetas, or it’s the 7 heads and 10 horns of the Beast in Revelations 13. Prophecy Ministers’ Focus on Jerusalem website explains it thus:

 “As previously mentioned, most students of prophecy are agreed that this beast represents the kingdom of Greece after it was divided into four parts following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. This agrees with the prophecy in Daniel 8 which also shows the four fold division of the Greek Empire in the form of 4 Horns on a goat, and specifically identifies Greece (vv. 21-22). In the case of chapter 7’s 4-Headed leopard, then, the Heads are kingdoms.”

Got that? Can we move on? Great.


A rare M4.9 earthquake was reported by several agencies in Bahia province, northern Brazil, on the 13th August. No USGS record of the quake has been published. Is the continent tilting? They ned to know.


“More than 16 million people have now been affected by seasonal flooding across a swathe of South Asia, say aid officials. The floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India are thought to have killed about 500 people and are expected to worsen. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says it is becoming one of the worst regional humanitarian crises in years. There are growing concerns about food shortages and disease.” – BBC News, 18 August.

Congratulations on the weather report, BBC.

The BBC finally catches up with the real weather news, reporting that 500 people have died and 16 million are affected by flooding in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The floods in the region have been going on for the best part of three months – see many previous Posts. Thailand and Myanmar (Burma), the south islands of Japan and New Zealand have all experienced severe flooding, as have the southern and southeastern United States, Mexico and Central America, West Africa and northern eastern Europe – with violent flash floods in many other parts of the world, from Switzerland and Russia to Nepal.

They’ll almost certainly discover next week to their amazement that large swathes of central and SE China have also been underwater for about the same length of time. Everywhere else is under a 100F-plus heatwave, droughted, on fire and/or experiencing violent storms, often of ice or snow. A wildfire can be seen from space – burning in Greenland. A 2,000-mile plume of smoke from Siberian wildfires is polluting the Arctic, where the temperature is 8C warmer than the 1981 to 2001 average.

But of course, climate change will have nothing to do with it. That would be taking sides in the debate between the entire world’s scientific community and Lord Lawson of Blaby, a senile old change-denying ghoul dug up from the Thatcher era, with no scientific credentials*, and the BBC can’t be seen to be doing that.

Preposterous bunch of half-arsed tossers.

NASA: has July 2017 tied with July 2016 as the hottest months on record. July 2017 was 2.25°C (4.05°F) warmer than the annual global mean 1980-2015 (seasonal cycle). Only in August 2016 was it warmer (2.29°C), but then again, August 2017 looks set to be warmer than that yet. Arctic sea ice extent tied with 2012 low but total volume less; expected gone by mid-September.

Arctic News: scientists calculate, a rise of 10°C (18°F) could occur by the year 2026, based on temperature anomalies from 1750 for February and on progressive growth of warming elements. “Crucial will be the decline of snow & sea ice and associated feedbacks.”

Crimea: violent storm, 3ft flash flooding in city of Sudak. Water turns blood-red from the tail-lights of parked cars as alarms are set off.

Side note: Watching endless cameraphone uploads of this kind of flooding from all over the world in the past few weeks, especially in provincial cities, the BogPo has been struck by the symbolism of hundreds upon hundreds of cars being – visibly – flushed away down streets become raging rivers, tossed aside by gales and dumped impotently atop one another, as if to underscore the nature of the problem. Yet it barely seems to stop people driving.

Hong Kong: authorities raise approaching Typhoon Hato to highest threat level 10. Makes landfall at Macau, 3 dead, 2 missing.

Ukraine: large wildfires burning along the Russian border near Rostov.

Bangladesh: ‘35%’ of the country is underwater.

Nepal: floods. 80% crop losses, stores ruined, food prices double.

Northern India: millions of acres of Assam still underwater. Death toll in Bihar rises to 202, 46 in Uttar Pradesh, 60 in West Bengal.

Congo (DRC): ‘at least’ 200 dead in landslide that buries fishing village following torrential rains.

Sierra Leone: death toll in Freetown landslip tops 400. ‘Hundreds’ still missing.

Thailand: Sai river bursts its banks. Chiang Rai underwater.

USA: Lolo Peak, Montana – fires burning for over a month flare up again after lightning strikes. 1,600 evacuated. Washington state: wildfires force evacuations. Multiple tornadoes in Midwest, storms in Minnesota, Texas cause widespread damage, power outages. Rivers flooding around Dallas, Texas.

Canada: wildfires in British Columbia and Northwest Territories break all official records, approaching 1m acres affected.

Portugal: Public ‘calamity’ declared as wildfires continue to rage in the central regions; 2,000 still ‘cut off’ in the town of Macão. No respite in hot, windy conditions.

Austria, Southern Germany: more severe storms disrupt festivals, cause local flooding.

Nicaragua: winds strengthening, 80% chance of developing tropical storm/hurricane – heavy rainfall for Belize, Yucatan.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #56/ France 24/ Al Jazeera/ Euronews/ Arctic News

*Out of curiosity, the BogPo Googled: ‘Who is funding Lord Lawson?’ (he refuses to say) and came up with an investigation into his ‘Global Warming Policy Foundation’ by the Left Foot Forward website from June 2010 that shows Lawson is highly sensitive about that question, indeed merely to ask it is, he says, ‘actionable’. Especially as there appear allegedly to be multiple third-party connections to Exxon Mobil and a number of East European energy companies.

What a cancerous old corpse.

Why does the BBC still insist on exhuming Lawson, dripping with soil and maggots, to ‘balance’ any story in which climate change is mentioned as a probable subject for discussion? They must surely realize it has gone way beyond that? Opposing an objective ‘expert’ truth against a manifest ‘non-expert’ lie is not balance, it is insanity.


For an interesting long read on the political debate over Climate Change policy, go to:

On the other hand, as you probably know, the BogPo is not of the opinion that there is any further debate to be had.

The merest suggestion that there is anything to be decided – or, increasingly, anything to be done – is to play into the hands of the Energy sector, their corrupted proxies in government, the yellow-bellied scum in the well-funded academic ‘denier’ community and the vile PR campaigners sowing rumour-mongered doubt to stave off what they knew decades ago should have been inevitable policy changes and restrictions on their shareholder greed.

The scientific principles behind warming have been known for over 100 years, the evidence is there for all to see, the Energy giants knew all this decades ago, they have admitted that they’ve been lying, there is no ‘debate’. The planet is not in fact ‘cooling’. Sea ice is not ‘expanding’. The sun is not ‘getting hotter’. Volcanoes are not ‘responsible for all the CO2’. Plants and plankton cannot ‘absorb all the CO2’. Wildfires are contributing as much to global warming as governments have been saving through their inadequate greener energy policies.

Climatologists are not weather forecasters, climate is not ‘the weather’. It is impossible to accurately forecast local outcomes from climate models: that is not what is required of them. You cannot use that to berate the scientific community: ‘Oh, but you said… nah ni nah’. It’s just childish. All the trendlines are converging on imminent catastrophe, irreversible tipping-points have already been reached or exceeded.

In combination with man-made environmental degradation and climate-induced crop failures food insecurity is already being seen, prices are rising and those who, it is claimed by the ‘New Optimists’, are being ‘lifted out of extreme poverty’ by the tens of thousands every day will soon find themselves back in it. Drastic action needs to be taken: Paris is not enough.

Get your facts straight and fucking WAKE UP.


Paranoia corner: Apoceclypse Now!

Well folks, it’s the 21st of August, Total Apoceclypse, and the paranoid Trumpfucks are out in force on YouTube. Principal among weird theories abounding this morning:

  • NASA (an offshoot of the Illuminati founded under the Obama regime) is using the eclipse to smuggle climate-changing alien bacteria into the stratosphere.
  • The eclipse was predicted in an episode of The Simpsons.
  • They’re not telling us everythin’, we need to evacuate Wyoming now.
  • The 33rd degree eclipse splits the nation in half, causing civil war. (btw, Jesus was 33 when he died, so this is a very special occasion…)
  • “Native Americans are advising to stay indoors. It is a time for reflection. The energy levels will be very high. Do not go to the water and observe this eclipse.”
  • “The oldest most ancient truths called Nuwaubu reveals the truth of the cycles and luminaries of the sky.”

‘zac deshazo’ writes: “This is spot on about rahu causing eclipses…ive been banging my head against the wall trying to explain this to anyone who will listen…THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS VIDEO!” (narrator informs us the sun is moving, it’s not the earth!)

I’m sorry, people, American is not a race, so I don’t think I’m being especially racist when I have to say, you’re all fucking nuts. Is this what you get with Obamacare? How did the rest of us ever come to believe the crazy idea that America leads the world when you haven’t evolved since the Stone Age, when dinosaurs ruled the earth?

(Yes, there are whited-out letter ‘x’s between all the different stories on my Posts. It doesn’t mean anything, okay? It’s just to stop the stories colliding with fucking Planet X Nibiru. Jesus, get a grip.)


Thar She Blows!

Half of America seems to imagine that some magical cosmic effect of the total solar eclipse tomorrow will cause the Yellowstone supervolcano to erupt with terrifying, probably world-ending consequences.

Signs and portents of natural wonders. (Photo: National Geographic, I think. Sorry.)

It’s been pretty lively lately, more than 60 straight days with up to 62 small earthquakes in a day and the three domes in the huge caldera all rising alarmingly as magma (estimated at 7 cubic kilometres) floods the chamber beneath at a depth of barely a mile.

The authorities, of course, especially the evil US Geological Survey, aren’t telling us the truth. They’re deliberately suppressing half the earthquake reports, the web cameras keep getting shut off, the info on gas releases is being doctored, and they’re still letting the public in and the bison roam to avoid scaring people. Just look at the colour of the steam, it’s obvious!

So you can forgive a certain increase in the panic level at a story attributed to our own, much loved Daily Mail, the rattiest garbage sink in the country, that NASA scientists are proposing to ‘cool the magma down’ by FRACKING in the caldera.

It might take quite a lot of water to cool 7 cubic kilometres of 1,000-degree hot magma, one suspects, while the instant any quantity of water is introduced, superheated steam is produced and the whole fucking thing is gonna blow, with an estimated death toll of 25 million.

It will certainly take the nation’s mind off the woes of the White House, but no-one we suspect has any faith in the ability of their inept and profoundly ignorant administration to handle a fart in a bubblebath.

Has anyone noticed, the volume of plots and alchemical potions ascribed to NASA since Trump and his friend Bannon seized power has increased exponentially? NASA is the new Empire of Evil, apparently.


Obituary: So farewell Daedalus

News comes that whacky science writer, the physical chemist David Jones, better known to science buffs as Daedalus, has died at the age of 79.

Bronze-age flyer: Daedalus casting off. (Google/

His Daedalus column appeared weekly as the endpiece in New Scientist for many years, before transferring to The Guardian. Married unsuccessfully for only one year of his life, a poignant factoid, he also featured in front of, and behind, the cameras in a number of TV shows dedicated to quirky scientific ideas.

He was astonishingly prescient with many of his more way-out inventions, including chemical lasers that could shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles (15 years later forming the basis of Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars programme), and folding hexagonal carbon atoms into ‘football’-shaped molecules, an idea that three years later turned into the Nobel prizewinning (alas, not for him) ‘Buckyballs’, or Buckminsterfullerene.

He also seems to have accurately foreshadowed Brexit Britain, 29 years before the referendum. From The Guardian obituary:

“In 1987 he was the subject of a BBC QED programme, which realised one of his inventions: a bus on which each passenger was given a steering wheel, and which then proceeded in a “majority” direction.”



Readers may notice that I have ‘liked’ this piece myself. I have done so on behalf of ‘Unlimbited Tree Service’, who I was advised in an email from WordPress had Liked this piece, but whose Like has not appeared below as it should in theory have done.

Thank you.

He must be removed from office, now. Long Essay: Is there sense in Trump’s nonsense? Words from the wise. Granny W update. Mr What did you say your name was?

He must be removed from office, now

It is as foolish for Americans to believe that their generals will save them from Trump as it was for liberal Germans to believe the military would protect the nation from Hitler’s excesses.” – 94-year-old

The principle that when one finds oneself at the bottom of a deep, dark hole one really ought to stop digging, has not occurred to the Golden Glow as he sinks ever lower in the mire of public opprobrium.

Can you tell the difference? Welcome to Trumpworld.

The Pumpkin has argued (below) that Trump’s crass attempts at ‘jury-out’ neutrality in the furious debate over neo-Nazis being confronted by radical protesters, in which he said some incredibly stupid things prompting defections from his advisory councils and excoriation from formerly supportive members of his Republican Congress, even from his friends at Fox News, were at least understandable, until they weren’t.

The basis for a wholesale historical revision and the removal of all evidential symbols of the losing Confederacy in the 1861 Civil War is profoundly flawed, as that war was NOT about racial division, except inasmuch as slavery underpinned the economic foundations of the southern states. The Jim Crow laws followed emancipation, they did not precede it.

Nevertheless the President’s refusal to condemn specifically the racist and anti-Semitic slogan-chanting white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched provocatively and with, in some instances, extreme violence through Charlottesville and the campus of the University of West Virginia last Friday and Saturday has been widely held as evidence of his racist sympathies.

It has been explained charitably in some quarters as being just ‘grandad racism’ – the idea that the senior generation was brought up with a disparaging view of the coloured minorities and therefore can’t help themselves. If that is the case, the President should have kept it within the family. Even his family have rounded on him.

Into this morass, egged on by Mr David Duke, Mr Richard Spencer and other not0rious racialists, in the wake of the latest Islamist terrorist outrage in Spain the idiot President has waded yet again, advocating the shooting of Muslims with bullets dipped in pig’s blood as a salutary corrective.

Is he insane?

I don’t think the horrific implications of his latest deranged tweet have yet sunk in. The mainstream media is still obsessed with reaction to his pro-Nazi statements and are not focussing on the even more damaging later reference to a supposedly punitive action by General Pershing during the war the Americans prosecuted against the Spanish in the Philippines in 1899, a mass execution featuring a religious desecration that ended Islamist terrorism ‘for 35 years’.

There was no such incident. It never happened.

The media has not yet understood that even though Mr Trump only raised the Pershing myth (again – he referred to it during the campaign primaries) at this juncture as some kind of – what? What can we charitably offer, some kind of useful precedent? –  he was clearly amplifying a vilely racist agenda replete with historical falsehood and Islamophobic memes.

Not only that, but for a US President to, effectively, recommend the punitive executions of Muslims as a deterrent to further acts of terrorism on the streets of European cities is just astonishing. Does he not understand that the blather he tweets as the senior representative of US domestic and foreign policy has official status, with global repercussions?

Does he not understand that he is exhorting racists to ethnic violence in his own country?

Does he not know from history that such violence only leads to more acts of terror?

Does he not realize that the ‘pig libel’ has the same resonance for Muslims as the ‘blood libel’ for Jews?

He is a complete imbecile.

Even if – especially if – he is instead calculating that perpetuating this nonsense will deflect attention from the investigations into his and his son-in-law’s illegal money-laundering operations complicit with international organized crime, HE MUST BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE, NOW.

How many more times does it have to be said?


Long essay

“George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slaveowner? So will George Washington now lose his statues? Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson, you like him? … Because he was a major slaveowner … you’re changing history.” – the Wit and Wisdom of Donald J Trump.

Is there sense in Trump’s nonsense?

There are no words with which one can excuse the President of the United States for having a knowledge of American history that would disgrace a third-grader.

However, it is a fact that both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave owners.

The tie definitely adds something: Charlottesville 2017. (photo:

Nor did the rest of his New York press conference on Tuesday make as much sense. He is clearly not right in the head, not ‘mentally ill’ or a man with ‘learning difficulties’ but a man with serious cognitive impairment, developed quite recently – he is 71 – and a profound ignorance of matters beyond his private obsessions, who cannot marshal facts and figures or add two and two to come up with four. He lives in his own reality, and that makes him unfit to be President with the nuclear codes constantly at his side.

He has perhaps rightly come under attack from all sides, the media, his own party, even his own daughter, for failing to rise with sufficient urgency to the occasion and outrightly condemning white racist violence and Nazi posturing on the streets of Charlottesville, West Virginia. Instead, he seemed to be protecting a part of his support base by condemning violence ‘on all sides’, thus outraging the anti-racist left and the triumphalist liberal media, who have branded him a ‘racist’ for not saying the right words. Unfair.

On Sunday, he read a prepared speech off an autocue making that grudging condemnation they were all demanding, averring that Nazis and racists had no place in American life; then on Tuesday in front of the assembled press, whom he had supposedly come to talk to about infrastructure, he seemed to row back in an improvised, incoherent riff on whatever he had said 48 hours earlier.

Among the scrambled ingredients of his word-salad, one could objectively pick out the following:

Both sides were to blame. The jury was out. He had not wanted to inflame the situation further by blaming one side or the other. The leftists had armed themselves provocatively with sticks. The rightists had a permit to march, the leftists didn’t. The killing of Heather Heyer was a terrible thing. She was a lovely girl. There were good people among the Nazis. The driver of the car must be punished.

Does that not sound like a reasonable, indeed Presidential, position? Even when you take in the breathtaking nonsense about Heyer’s mother praising his wonderful words, and the torrent of mind-bendingly awful rodomontade, there is a grain of truth in that Mrs Bro also called for an end to the violence and no recriminations, although she has said nothing to him.

The problem with Trump’s perceived attitude to the so-called alt-right starts way back. For this is far from the first time Trump has failed to condemn racist violence, white terrorism and expressions of anti-Semitism – despite his own son-in-law being an Orthodox Jew and his favourite daughter a convert – in the same bald terms with which he has condemned Islamist terrorism.

He just doesn’t seem to get the message that the President is EXPECTED to say the right things in response to any of the normal range of outrages and disasters that befall all countries from time to time, whatever his personal opinions are. It goes with the job.

Just as Trump was culpably never able to separate his personal finances from those of his businesses and his tax-exempt ‘charity’ foundation, so he has been unable to separate the role and office of President from the forty-five year-long performance that has been Donald J Trump Inc. He is bungling and bluffing and bullying and prevaricating his way through, as usual, and that’s not good enough for a President.

But now, look.

The wave of historical revisionism that is sweeping the south is, in the view of The Pumpkin, a Bad Thing.

William Tecumseh Sherman: Union General advocated the genocide of Native Americans

It’s bad because it’s providing a casus belli for the millions of white Southerners for whom the defeat in 1865 remains a raw wound. If you think that sounds silly, try living in Wales, as the Pumpkin does, where 800 years of history has never really wiped away the memory of conquest and the centuries of cultural oppression that followed.

In pursuit of their victory, the Union committed many atrocities, including the burning of Atlanta. Under Sherman they operated a scorched-earth policy to starve the South into submission. The victory was characterized by savage reprisals, rapes, repression and the ‘carpetbagging’ of the Southern agrarian economy by Northern businessmen; the utter humiliation of the South.

The removal and demolition of the tokens to their dead and the symbols of their identity looks today like nothing less than the North seeking to take further revenge for the act of sedition by the 11 states of the Confederacy; a deeper desecration of their culture and values. There are worse behaviours than racism.

The Civil War was NOT fought over the question of racial divisions. Black soldiers fought on both sides. It is more complex: the slavery issue was only one part of what were perceived as cultural and economic differences between the Confederate states and the industrializing North, and their foreign alliances. Slavery was a symbol of the conservatism of the South, but the agricultural productivity it made possible benefited the Old World too. It increasingly became a rallying point for the Union only as the war progressed.

There is a difference between racism and racialism. Racism is the negative perception of, and sometimes a willingness to act upon, perceived physiognomical or cultural differences as determined by place of origin. It is a form of tribalism. Racialism is the discredited C19th pseudo-scientific theory that there is a hierarchy of human intelligences and capabilities categorizing the ‘races’, in which white Europeans sit at the top and the black man at the bottom.

Southern racialism can be traced to the ‘Manifest Destiny’ programme of the Democrats, but it was the emancipation following the war that brought about the Jim Crow laws and racial segregation in the south as poor white and freed black farmers competed for land and subsidies, both with one another and with Northern land-grabbers consolidating their spoils.

In other words, Civil War mementoes are only tangentially symbols of racism, but they are an important focus for Southern resentments and, yes, nationalist pride.

Now. In every country where these things are done, there are statues and plaques and other symbolic reminders of great and heroic deeds in the past. There is always moral ambiguity attached to them. My country, Britain, is bristling with statues to victorious Victorian politicians and valorous generals who won asymmetrical battles with overwhelming firepower against colonial subjects; as well as landed estates and grand country houses built on the proceeds of slavery.

The country has a profoundly ambiguous attitude to its imperial past, that is viewed with growing unease in our multicultural society. But should we tear the symbols of the past down, pretend it never happened? Or should we understand how important it is that we do see them in their proper context and try to learn from them? You cannot manage a country on the degree of offence incomers take at its history.

Many people here still have immense pride in what they perceive as the outstanding achievement of our small island nation in creating and defending the largest empire the world has ever seen. They are happy to remain in ignorance of how it was done, or they argue that, well, that’s just how you do these things. You cannot separate empire from conquest, all victories are glorious.

Others are ashamed of it, the way it was done – proceeding through first adventurous, then rapacious and increasingly repressive commercialism to outright military occupation and bloody reprisals against dissenters, in response to the growing commercial pressures of the home population, the demand for goods and commodities from the aspiring consumerist middle-class.

In this, the week of the 70th anniversary of the partition of India, we are reminded of the horrendous aftermath, the bloodbath that ensued. More than a million people died in a mass slaughter between neighbours as the Islamic and Hindu and Sikh populations were forced to give up their lands and homes and migrate to new territories delineated on religious lines by Congress at the behest of the British authorities. We recall the subsequent three wars between the new nations, the festering dispute that continues even now between the two nuclear-armed powers over Kashmir.

Looking at this history, who can possibly argue that colonialism and the racial and religious divisions it perpetuates has ever benefited anyone, other than capitalists and commodity brokers? Just as the business owners’ needs are met by ensuring the cheapest profitable supply of labour, so the capitalists supply the need of the greater population for cheaper goods. To those mutually beneficial ends, there are reckoned to be 37 million people labouring under conditions of actual and virtual slavery in the world today.

What ended transatlantic slavery was the argument, at first in Britain, where the trade in slaves was outlawed as early as 1808, that workers had both their own interests and essential humanity in common, regardless of colour, and were worthy of dignity in labour. The nascent British Trade Unions campaigned for an end to slavery itself. Ironically it was Socialism, more than Christianity, that brought the vile practice to an end.

So there is a case for saying, tear down the symbols of colonialism, the vainglorious statues to historical men (and a few women) of action, whose attitudes and times were so very different from our own. But were they?

If you are going to censor the tributes to slaver Confederate generals like Lee and Jackson, should you not also tear down the statues of the Union victors, Grant and Sherman, as a mark of distaste for their undoubted war crimes?  Because the name and likeness of anyone connected with the prosecution of the Civil War is going to remind us that racism was (and still is) the only crime endemic to the USA? Are you saying racism was (and still is) not also a Northern phenomenon?

And is it wrong that commemorations to the dead of all wars should remind us of the horror and futility, the sacrifice of the ordinary soldier? Those farm boys on both sides who were dragged into the conflict to die horrible deaths and undergo mutilation and mental disintegration as the war increasingly industrialized and the slaughter took on the now-familiar tropes of machine-guns, mines and massed artillery were not politicians and pundits. They were the victims.

Are we to disfigure their memory too, merely to combat expediently a racism that is probably ineradicable from the human condition?

I’m going to go even further out on a limb. Slavery was and is not about racism, or even racialism. There’s no connection.

It’s about power relations and the management of economies.

Not a single successful, progressive economy flourished between the time of the Egyptians and Babylonians until the Industrial Revolution and the machine age without one form of bonded or indentured labour and another.

Greece, Rome, the Vikings, the Maya and the Aztec, the Mongols, Arabia and the Benin empire of West Africa were all slave-raiding, owning and trading civilizations. The expansion of their empires was driven by the need for captive slaves to provide the service infrastructure to grow their economies. India and China, Russia and medieval Europe incorporated slavery instead into rigid hereditary caste and ‘feudal’ systems that condemned generations of men and women to serfdom, donating their labour compulsorily to their social superiors in exchange for ‘protection’.

It had nothing to do with race; merely with whomever you could most easily force into bondage.

An Arab slaver. (Image:

In 1805 and 1812, the American navy pursued interventions against the Berber sailors of North Africa, Muslim slavers known as Barbary Pirates, who had attacked shipping, kidnapped and sold into slavery perhaps one and a half million Europeans. The global slave trade was not confined to the Atlantic run, or to Africans.

The Atlantic slave trade was perhaps the first – certainly the best-organized – purely commercial, transactional venture of its kind, aimed at supplying millions of agricultural workers and household servants transhipped from slave-raids in West and Central Africa to the commodity-based plantations established by British, French, Spanish and Portuguese colonists in the Americas, both north and south, and the Caribbean colonies.

The trade helped to make up the numbers of the aboriginal populations decimated by non-resistance to European diseases. As those European nations began to grow their own African domains, so the trade was able to cut out the local middlemen, African despots and Arab traders, to become more profitable.

Racialism gained traction, mainly as a moral response to the African slave trade. Its manifest unfairness and systematised brutalities could only be justified and maintained by the acceptance of a scientific, post-Enlightenment principle that black people were inferior to and less evolved than whites. Africans were not being enslaved because they were black, but because being black placed them in a permanently subservient condition fit for slavery.

The slave trade created racialism, it was not created by it.

The racism of the American South was created, at the very least encouraged, and eventually perpetuated, by the Civil War and its aftermath, that kept both Southern whites and blacks in an increasingly divisive condition of poverty and despair, that led to mutual rivalry, suspicion, antipathy and a culture of violence based on racist tropes – the hypersexualised negro being one –  that was almost entirely one-sided. Why?

For the Democrats and the pork-barrel politicians of the South, the lack of political sophistication and democratic heritage of the former slaves put the emancipated blacks at an immediate disadvantage, licensing a continuation of the brutalities inflicted on them by many, though not all, of their former ‘owners’. As the famous ‘Frost Report’ TV sketch observed, everyone needs someone they can look up to, and someone they can look down on. Racialism – like Trumpism – gave the poor white majority a cause to imagine their cultural superiority and to forget that their grinding economic disadvantage is required of them by the prevailing elites.

There’s a parallel in the treatment of women in Britain and Ireland, where rural ‘bride fairs’, the buying and selling of women for breeding and household management, went on right into the 1920s, despite increasing social and political equality in the metropolitan areas, and women’s suffrage being granted in the UK in 1918 (but not fully until 1926. In the USA there were various early attempts by states, a vote in Congress in 1920 – but full suffrage was not achieved until 1965!)

The assimilation of cultural ideas takes time, sometimes several generations, and if the worst excesses of poverty and inequality are politically licensed by local power structures in out-of-the-way places, unfairness and brutality will persist long after they have been suppressed or even eradicated elsewhere.



Granny Weatherwax, update 11-16 Aug, 2017

North-west Iran: 11 dead ( Google)

Poland: Severe thunderstorms near Gdansk kill six, including two teenage campers, injure 36. Storm carves a wide swathe of Tunguska-like fallen trees across the Bialowieza forest, a Unesco world heritage site. 2,500 hectares flattened.

Greece: major wildfires burning north of Athens, and on the island of Zakynthos.

Corsica: Wildfires again raging over large areas in the north.

Portugal: major wildfires burning around Vila de Rej, Castelo Branco and in Leiria province. 2000 people are trapped by fire in the village of Macão, partly destroyed by a fire in July. Forecast: hotter.

India: Death toll in floods in northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh tops 175. Vast areas of Assam underwater again, flash floods in Nepal kill 75. 5 dead in Tipura. Millions affected.

China: More flooding again affecting Guanxi city, much damage to property; Hunan province; Jiangxi. Five killed and 50 injured when a tornado swept through Chifeng in Northern China/Mongolia..

Iran: 11 dead, two missing in severe flash floods in northeast Azerbaijan provinces..

Iraq: Temperatures in the heatwave affecting Baghdad reach 50C, 122F.

Kuwait: “Between 2010 and 2035, Kuwait’s annual average temperature will increase by 1.6% to 28.7C , according to the country’s Environmental Public Authority.” Noonday temperatures now regularly exceed 50C, 117F.

Canada: Half a million acres of British Columbia still ablaze.

Mexico: Powerful storm damages properties in Mazatlan. Extensive city flooding.

Wales UK: It has been bucketing down outside the house for the past several hours. Effect as yet unknown.

Avocadogate: Following an unusually poor summer in all the main producing countries – S Africa, Peru, Mexico – and a 50% hike in wholesale prices –  Tesco supermarkets are to market a ‘new range’ of undersized fruits. You get six in an eggbox.

Climate and Extreme Weather News, #54, 55/ BBC News/ The Guardian/ Al Jazeera.


Mr What did you say your name was?

I’ve been struck lately by how, on our rapidly globalizing globe, people’s names appear to be getting weirder, the stuff of science fiction; given that my own set of names and those of most people in my family and my minute circle of friends and acquaintances are pretty standard for Britain, are familiar, in some cases Biblical, and have been in use for centuries.

“I name this child Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel…”

I’ve just read an article based on a radio report by a paralympian athlete about the problems of finding working toilets for disabled people. Her name is Anna Wafula-Strike. The Wafula part comes, I’d guess, from her African ancestry; the oddness of the name-sound resonating from the monosyllabic, Germanic name ‘Strike’, or ‘Streich’, hyphenated-on perhaps by marriage.

But there are many odd-sounding combinations of first and surnames to be found everywhere nowadays as the habit of insisting on one’s patrimonial name combined with that of a husband or wife, plus any tributes to possible foreign relatives and ancestors, is resulting in many odd-sounding combinations. A favourite is the British heptathlete, Katerina Johnson-Thompson, a doubly Anglo-Saxon/Greek combination. But there are many more examples.

It’s getting like those innocent days of gentle comedy, perhaps in the 1930s, when characters in humorous novels and movies would be given mildly crazy names, often with obscure middle initials. Groucho Marx went in various films under the names of Rufus T Firefly, Otis B Driftwood and Wolf J Flywheel, among others. (Yes, you really can Google: ‘Characters played by Groucho Marx’ and land on a website dedicated to little else. Oh, Brave New World!)

The comedic middle-initial allusion was possibly in tribute to President Franklin D (for Delano) Roosevelt, but there were plenty of authors inserting their middle initials: Francis X Bushnell, Pearl S Buck, Ethel M Dell, Poppy Z Brite, Thomas M Disch, Philip K Dick (the habit seems particularly popular with Sci Fi writers) – Hunter S Thompson. Others initialized their first name and used their full second name: like the father of Scientology, the eccentric L Ron Hubbard; disaster movie maker M Night Shyamalan and, of course, F Scott Fitzgerald.

Hundreds too used and still use only initials rather than their given forename, often to disguise the fact that they were, are women writers believing they stand a better chance of having their work read by misogynist publishers who think women can only write Mills and Boon novels; otherwise, perhaps, to sound faintly distinguished. Richest among them all, of course, is JK Rowling – the K being added as an unregistered tribute to her grandmother Kathleen.

Then of course there is ‘Donald J Trump’….

I sign my own name with a middle initial, D, although I have not had the courage to adopt the full form in print. I’ve always found the name Desmond embarrassing, I don’t know why. According to Wikipedia it derives from the Gaelic name for the ancient Irish kingdom of South Munster, “Deas-Mhumhna”. That’s a pretty obscure derivation, but perhaps enough to gain me Irish citizenship so I can remain in the EU?

Famous Desmonds include the much-satirised family entertainer Des O’Connor – Archbishop Tutu – and the reggae artist, Desmond Dekker. Fathered by the randy Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Desmond Donnelly was a British politician, author and journalist who was a member of four different political parties during the course of his career, and switched parties on five occasions. You see why I have a problem with my flip-floppy middle name! I wish my parents had been a little more original, but it was better than being aborted.

Afro-Caribbean and Afro-American – ‘people of colour’, black people seem to be particularly creative when it comes to thinking of christian, or forenames for their children. Their surnames are often descended from slavery days, when they would be branded with the names of the European, mostly British plantation owners. So you’ll find plenty of Grants and Johnsons and Smiths and Williams, coupled with outlandish new spellings of their first names, or completely new names never before heard on earth.

Allyson Felix. Shaunae Miller-Uibo. Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake. Shericka Jackson. Zharnel Hughes. Jazmin Saunders. Kendra Harrison. Sani Brown. Ristananna Tracey. Taryn Suttie. Jereem Richards. Shamier Little. Kori Carter. Semoy Hackett. Shanieka Ricketts. Jodean Williams. Kurtis Marschall. Wayde van Niekerk… To pluck a random selection just from among the 600 international athletes competing at the 2017 London World Championships.

It’s not as if the names are common even in their English-speaking countries of origin, mainly the West Indies, the UK and the southern US. (I have avoided obviously non-Anglophone competitors for the very reason that I have no idea whether their first names are native or pure inventions.) They are to all intents and purposes, until adopted by new parents eager for some magic-dust to brush off on their own unhappy offspring, unique.

Sadly, Glory Nathaniel managed to come only fourth in her event, while Sparkle McKnight finished last; showing that the adoption principle known as ‘nominative determinism’ doesn’t always work out.

For an amusing romp through a modern dictionary of babies’ names, visit


The Pumpkin – Issue 30. Nous sommes Charlots. One for the Kush. Groping in the Dark. A Bag for Life.

“We swear to tell the truth, the other truth, and nothing like the truth… So help us out?”

More of which later…


Republicans, eh?

“A bill sponsored by (North Dakota) state Rep. Keith Kempenich … would protect drivers from legal consequences if they inadvertently hit, injure or kill pedestrians who are obstructing traffic. The legislation is a direct response to the massive protests around the Standing Rock Indian Reservation … “If you stay off the roadway, this would never be an issue,” Kempenich said.” -The Daily Kos, 17 Jan. 2017.

“All liberals really have in the current climate of inequality is the argument that the fascist bully boys who adopt the role of militant spearhead of the social malcontent among poorer whites are attacking the wrong targets.”

Nous sommes Charlots

Events in Charlottesville, Va over the weekend have left a nasty taste in the media and a rumbling but short-lived controversy in American politics which, like the North Korea thing, has provided President Trump with yet another golden opportunity to divert attention from investigations into his and his family’s highly rackety financial structure and dealings.

There is something deeper, most commentators feel, that he doesn’t want to come out; something for which he is preparing to exercise the Presidential pardon on his own account if Mueller or the FBI gets too close. It is something potentially so serious that he has twice in the past week been prepared to say, or not say, dumb or reckless things that add to the growing tally of reasons to impeach him. He’s prepared to risk his position, to bet the presidency on it.

So you cannot take anything he says or does not say currently at face value.

Some are more serious about their fashion sense than others.

His stubborn refusal to condemn the white supremacist yobboes, AR-15 toting rednecks, millennarian bible-bashers and Antisemitic, Islamophobic dumbfucks parading their Nazi regalia on the streets of ‘America’s Happiest Town’ has courted criticism from leading Republicans who still cannot bring themselves to dethrone him despite the glaring obviousness of the need to do so, and fast.

The calculus is that if they don’t, his policy failures and embarrassing gaffes will result in a big defeat at the polls next year; but if they do, it will enrage the Republican base and result in a big defeat at the polls. Not to mention what the Kochs will do to their funding if Trump’s ‘make the rich richer’ Laffer-curve legislative programme continues to fail to pass. It could mean a big defeat.

They are paralysed, rabbits in the headlights. But we should not assume that Trump is merely defending ‘his base’ – the dumbfucks who would follow him through the gates of hell just to put one over on the Washington elite.

As we know, Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old civil rights campaigner, was killed and 19 injured when a suspect identified from earlier photos as a member of a neo-Nazi group drove his car into a crowd of anti-fascist demonstrators trying to corral a rally of ‘white supremacists’ protesting the removal from a local park of a prominent Confederate statue of General Robert E Lee.

It’s part of a drive across the southland to erase the memory of the Confederacy, that slave-owning group of states that went to war with the North in 1861 and lost, by removing the symbols of its vainglory: heroic statues and the flag.

Frankly, while not approving slavery, The Pumpkin has its reservations about this revisionist campaign. Its equivalent in the UK might be to order the removal of all village First World War memorials on the grounds that they perpetuate the evils of the patriarchal ‘squirearchy’ system that led to the trenches; even if by doing so you dishonor those who died in them.

And in fact, a statue to an unknown Confederate soldier was ripped off its plinth, an act of ritual desecration which The Pumpkin contends brings no credit to the leftist Antifa demonstrators. Was it that boy’s fault? Was he a racist, for being hauled off his parents’ farm and drafted into fighting for a lost cause? The attitude of the anti-racists can be just as thoughtless and bigoted as that of the alt-right.

Like all decent people, The Pumpkin is repelled on a cultural level by the narcissistic militaristic memes of the ‘white right’. We are supposed to be, that’s the point. Cenk Uygur’s online discussion forum The Young Turks at the weekend brilliantly dissected the ‘manifesto’ of one self-proclaimed neo-Nazi who (one has to discount the theory that he may be one of those alternative comedians who successfully infiltrates his target group by being more extreme than they are, highlighting their absurdities) blogged that dressing in a proper, well-fitted Nazi uniform is more likely to get you a girl ‘groupie’ than baggy fatigues and a baseball cap.

In the shadows behind the useful idiots, alternative fashionistas and girlfriend-less footsoldiers, however, there are nastier elements at work. There always are. But I have to say that they are only aided and abetted in their quest to establish a white Christians-only nation – a new Confederacy –  by the kneejerk reactions of the leftwing and centre-left liberal media and politicians, demanding (for instance) that the president be more specific in his condemnations.

It’s not enough merely to condemn violence, you have to change the underlying societal problems, the inequality. It would be, say, the position of an organization dedicated entirely self-protectively to ‘balance’, like BBC News, to cling tenaciously to the principle that it takes two rights to make a wrong.

Despite his daughter Ivanka’s outright condemnation of the fascist elements involved in the rioting, Trump has vaguely disparaged  the violence ‘on all sides’, refusing to blame any one specific group.

Given that legitimate protest in however rotten a cause is protected by the First Amendment, and given the need to encourage unity in the face of violent dissention that he himself has so often licensed, inclusive neutrality is not actually an unreasonable position, other than when seen through the lens of liberal outrage. We do not know who started the violence, clearly tempers were high on both sides. The mere fact of a protest march offering a provocation to the left does not automatically make the right-wingers guilty.

The main whinge of the so-called ‘alt-right’ – that feeble attempt to provide an intellectual mask for a wide assortment of disaffected and divisive nationalist elements – is that they are the class who suffer more from social discrimination and disadvantage than blacks and other ethnic and religious minorities.

They argue that they have benefited less from social safety nets and quotas, positive discrimination and ‘diversity’ policies; and that they are being deliberately disadvantaged by a conspiracy of multiculturalist tax-eaters.

I’m not convinced this is as absurd as it sounds, when we know in our own country from the reckless Brexit protest vote that people feel they are hurting and are thus more easily manipulated by the wealthy disruptors for whom social chaos and the breakdown of institutions represent opportunities to further enrich themselves. It’s how millions of ordinary Germans fell into the way of Nazism and the licence it offered to persecute and murder sections of society they blamed for their condition; and take whatever little they had for themselves.

Courting the predictable outrage of the media, the far-right happily plays the role of martyr, bringing on themselves publicly the very discrimination they are claiming has left them on the scrapheap while alien elements in ‘their’ country prosper at their expense. All liberals really have in the current climate of inequality is the argument that the fascist bully boys who adopt the role of militant spearhead of the genuine social malcontent among poorer whites are attacking the wrong targets.

The leftwing and centre-left liberal media and politicians – all ‘decent people’ – are playing into their hands. Just as gun sales always soar in the wake of well-publicised massacres, so the stock-in-trade of the far-right, social division and hatred of the Other, portrayed as victim of the liberal elite, is bound to swell their ranks.

A well-fitted uniform or a set of imposing military surplus-store fatigues and an AR-15 assault rifle can get you a ‘girl groupie’ quicker than any rational discussion of the fundamental economic problem – especially when that discussion, your protest, is closed down by the very people, the media and institutions they are protesting at:

Jason Kessler, the organiser of Saturday’s far-right rally in Charlottesville, was chased away by protesters in the city on Sunday afternoon after he tried to give a press conference. As soon as Kessler (who had already condemned the violence and regretted the death of Heyer) emerged in the forecourt of Charlottesville’s city hall, a crowd of more than 300 who had gathered along with the waiting media began shouting “murderer”, “terrorist” and “nazi”. (The Guardian, 14 Aug.)

It might be noted too that the left-leaning Guardian, while publishing on its website some half-dozen stories, an editorial and other comment features on Charlottesville, has not opened a single thread for discussion of the issue by its readers.

Perhaps they don’t trust us.


‘PhiPhiGuru’ writes that the Charlottesville murder is a hoax:

“The car crash, because the site where that happened was cut off from the main public, nobody was allowed near that site — except, of course, the ”hire-a-crowd” paid actors. If you look at the footage from an eagle’s view, you’ll see that no one actually gets run over, they just roll along. The unnecessary shaky footage on the ground to make it look more action-packed is cringeworthy, not to mention the inconsistencies by the witnesses or how this story is presented in the MSM. Or even the false story of history that is reurgitated over and over with Robert E Lee and Abraham Lincoln and the whole civil war.”

There is more, I’m afraid.


Hotter than July

Jessica McCarty, assistant professor of geography at Miami University, told NBC: “This is not usual”. (The Guardian)

Arctic News website reports, temperature in northern Canada (north of the Arctic circle) recorded on 13 August at 34.5C, 94F;  CO2 over British Columbia on 9 August at 625 ppm (pre-industrial background 285). Smoke from Siberian fires drifting over the Arctic. Thickest sea ice continuing to break up as windspeeds and wave heights increase. Paul Beckwith observes it to be raining in both polar regions with few areas below freezing – it’s supposedly wintertime in Antarctica.

Wildfire still burning in Greenland.

The death toll in the Sierra Leone mountainslip, following the heaviest rain in decades, could exceed a thousand. 270 bodies have been recovered so far but many more are missing.


One for The Kush

“…after a certain point complication ceases to be my middle name.”

A story that surfaced quite bigly in March this year has shared the fate of many that seem to have vanished with nary a trace as the welter of bad news stories surrounding the Trumps has spurted out of the White House on a daily basis, like liquid shit from a 410m World Championship hurdler with norovirus.

Which is, the one about Jared Kushner and his long-held business association with the Israel-based Steinmetz brothers, the richer of whom, Beny, has been under investigation by federal authorities in the USA and Switzerland for paying huge bribes to secure iron-ore mining rights in the African nation of Guinea.

The Pumpkin was reminded of it just now while browsing on the back-button, and realized that not a lot has happened since. The Gulf Times is only one of a number of perfectly respectable publications that reported the story. To quote from them:

“Raz Steinmetz, whose family built its fortune as diamond traders, has been partnering with Kushner Cos. since at least 2012, and they now co-own about 15 buildings in downtown Manhattan worth more than $150 million. Since then, the Kushner and Steinmetz families have also become co-investors in the Trump Bay Street tower in Jersey City, which licensed the Trump brand from the president’s business organisation.”

Kushner, as we recall, has been given more jobs in the administration even than the former British Chancellor George Osborne has taken up since his resignation following the lost Brexit vote in June last year – and people laughed at him. Among them, is the minor responsibility for bringing about peace in the Middle East.

Who better? He has, after all, these complicated business relationships with Israeli corporate investors. Even more complicated, is the spat between the Steinmetzes and multi-billionaire speculator George Soros – a Hungarian-born Jew who has fallen out with many Israeli politicians and businessmen over his support for Palestinian rights, with the Hungarian government over his antipathy towards the rightwing Christian authoritarianism of Prime Minister Orban – and with the Trump presidency. He’s a Democrat.

Despite that, Soros is also an investor in Kushner properties, being named as a guarantor of $250 million-worth of Jared’s outstanding $1 billion loans from the money-laundering Deutsche Bank and many others.

Jared has also boasted in the past of his almost familial relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Israeli police confirm, they have been investigating allegations of bribery against him for months, although the accusations so far appear to involve only accepting gifts in exchange for helping an Israeli businessman to get US citizenship – another activity of which Kushner Co stands accused – and of attempting to bribe a newspaper proprietor to say nice things about him. Small potatoes, hotly denied.

I have no idea what any of this portends, as after a certain point complication ceases to be my middle name. However, were the billionaire diamond dealer Beny Steinmetz to be found guilty of bribery, in view of the relationship between them Kushner might very well be indicted as an accessory to that fact. It may possibly be why Kushner Co. no longer lists a Steinmetz investment vehicle, the ironically named Gaia Co*, as one of its partners, although it is. Gaia is owned by Raz Steinmetz, Beny’s brother.

Whether in view of his multitasking portfolio in the White House Jared has in fact recused himself from his many conflicting business interests and handed control to his brother, no-one seems quite sure. The Independent (28 April) commented:

“Although Kushner resigned in January from his chief executive role at Kushner Companies, he remains the beneficiary of trusts that own the sprawling real estate business. The firm has taken part in roughly $7bn in acquisitions during the last decade, many of them backed by foreign partners whose identities he will not reveal.”

It seems that secrecy is written through the Kushners’ rotten empire as if through a sticky stick of Coney Island rock; while his actions appear to be those of a man desperate to deleverage his crushing debt.

From Gulf Times again:

“Asked about it, a spokesman for Kushner Cos said, “Kushner Companies has a long-standing relationship with Raz Steinmetz and Gaia, who have been terrific partners.”

“Gaia Investment lists Shlomo Meichor and Assi Arev as principals. Meichor previously served as chief financial officer of Ampal-American Israel Corp, a New York-traded investment firm that Raz Steinmetz and his father Daniel bought a controlling interest in from Bank Hapoalim in 1996. Bank Hapoalim is among Kushner’s lenders.”**

A number of arrests were made in the Steinmetz case. In July 2015 an associate of Steinmetz, Frederic Cilins was jailed for two years in America for attempting to obstruct the investigation into the bribery case, after an FBI wiretap recorded a conversation with the late Guinean president Sekou Touré’s widow. The Guardian reported: “According to the recordings, Cilins said that he was working on behalf of Steinmetz when he attempted to arrange to destroy evidence of the alleged bribes.”

More arrests followed last December, notably Beny himself, his mine company boss Avidor and a former Guinean minister of mines, all of whom were bailed pending further investigations – since when, apparently, a veil has descended. A spokesmouth for the mining company dismissed the case, saying: “The allegations remain baseless. This heavy handed approach by the Israeli authorities is clearly a publicity stunt.” Publicity for whom was not made clear.

Another investor in Kushner Co’s extensive New York properties portfolio, according to the Gulf Times report, is a secretive investment management firm called Stonehage-Fleming, which claims to represent 250 wealthy investors in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It might be interesting to know who they are, where their wealth comes from (and where it goes) but you can’t find out.

As with the property market in London, where some 10,000 ‘investment’ properties now lie empty, having been snapped up for vastly inflated prices by international ‘investors’, many of them suspected of laundering money obtained from anything from drugs to people-trafficking to bribery and arms dealing, there is no proof, no audit trail in the USA either.

Foreign ownership of properties is not required to be registered on either side of the pond and so there is no direct way of knowing who owns what or where the surplus money in the laundromat ultimately goes, if not to the thousands of virtually untraceable companies set up by middlemen like the Mossack-Fonseca partnership in Panama – or to folks like Ike Kaveladze, a Russian, now a naturalized American, said to have been the eighth attender at the controversial 9 June meeting between Donald Trump Jr and lawyer Natalia Veselnetskaya, at which Kushner was present, apparently for no reason.

Was Jared there possibly to talk to Kaveladze, accused some years ago of laundering $1.4 billion of embarrassing cash through the more-than 2,000 shell companies he helped to set up in offshore tax havens on behalf of Russian oligarchs? Manafort, too, was at the meeting, and he is said to have devoted his energies to the cause of investing money wisely on behalf of Russian and Ukrainian clients while offering ‘election advice’ for a $12 million fee to the absconded kleptocrat, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovitch.

Veselnitskaya too had laundry to discuss, having recently represented Denis Katsyv, the president of Prevezon Holdings, in a New York trial over the laundering of $230 million funds embezzled in Russia, which resulted in a tiny $6 million slap on the wrist from Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department.

How did that happen, we wonder?

Added to Kushner’s illegally undeclared meetings with Russians, including the chair of Putin’s Vnesheconombank, Sergei Gorkov, the mist clears a little.

We may possibly see an impressionable and inexperienced young man up to his neck in debt after catching a bad cold during the 2007/08 crash, whose father is in gaol for fraud – having attempted to interfere with a witness (he sexually blackmailed his own brother-in-law); something Trump Sr – who once said he knew all about cameras in hotel rooms – has been accused, but never convicted, of.

Indeed, the Kush’s behavior so closely mirrors that of orange dad-in-law down the years it’s uncannily like he’s been getting advice from him:

Never admit to anything, son. Pay no bills. Sue anyone ten times over who says you owe them money. There are plenty more banks than just the ones in the high street and they’re so stupid. Keep two sets of books at all times. Lose important pieces of paper in floods. Never sign anything unless you’re the President. Delay investigations until they go away. Keep people guessing. Crush your enemies, fire anyone who’s disloyal to you, dig dirt and compromise witnesses. Nurse those grudges. If you’ve run out of cash and there’s nothing down the back of the settee, call these friendly oligarchs whose numbers I have. Okay, they’re Putin cronies, intelligence agents, mafia, whatever, but they’ll see you right….

It’s quite like that, isn’t it. The Art of the Deal?

At the end of the day, there’s a problem. The owners of these trillions of freshly laundered dollars are running out of anything more exciting they can spend them on, apart from burrowing underground in vast climate-controlled bunkers to escape from the global warming and the wars they’re promoting.

The Pumpkin wonders if such tangled interrelationships will be forming part of the FBI’s and Special Counsel Mueller’s protracted and wide-ranging investigations into the Trump family finances, or whether they will simply sink into the ocean of virtually legalized corruption and chaos that surrounds the activities of all these tacky plutocrats – men (invariably) operating with impunity, who prefer to accumulate, rather than create, vast wealth they can boast to one another about?

At least I haven’t mentioned Russia. Oh no, I have! Damn.

*In case you don’t recognise the allusion, the ‘Gaia Hypothesis’ as proposed by the British biophysicist James Lovelock holds that the Earth is a self-regulating biological mechanism for sustaining life: a living planet. Steinmetz’s extractive operations essentially involve gouging-out huge open-cast mines in the planet’s surface and removing whole mountaintops. No wonder Israel is such a shithole full of pushy people. As it happens, the iron-ore business has collapsed owing to falling world prices and the mine he’s been accused of greasing the wheels to obtain has closed. Too bad.

**A little more digging in cases involving the Briss Family Trump usually unearths something faintly distasteful. According to The New York Times, Kushner has ‘multiple loans’ out from Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, which was founded in part by the Zionist movement and has controversially been involved in financing illegal settlement projects in the West Bank. What’s more:

“The bank is currently under investigation by the US Justice Department for allegations that it helped wealthy Americans hide assets and evade taxes.” (NYT, in the Jerusalem Post, 9 Jan 2017)

Whoever could they mean?


Meanwhile, the excellent Adam Davidson of The New Yorker magazine, who in January exposed Trump’s Azerbaijan hotel deal with a corrupt oligarch having connections to the proscribed terrorist-organization, the Iranian National Guard, has done it again with a detailed analysis of Trump’s business links to the two owners of numerous companies corruptly funded by a Georgian bank (they also owned the bank!). Pointing out in passing that the Trump Organization lawyer who greenlighted both projects has been given a job in the White House… It’s a long and complex but worthwhile read: /2017/08/21/trumps-business-of-corruption?mbid=nl_170814_Daily&CNDID=49581041&spMailingID=11694539&spUserID=MTkwODY5NzgyMTM0S0&spJobID=1221264415&spReportId=MTIyMTI2NDQxNQS2

As we’ve been saying since last year: follow the money!


Groping in the dark

“It seems clear to The Pumpkin at least that there’s a part of the American psyche that’s remained unchanged since the pioneering days of the 17th century.”

The Creator has apparently arranged a solar eclipse for Monday, 21st August.

Amazing how, considering scientists are always wrong about everything else, you believe this. But it’s probably true.

At its most complete extent, totality, the eclipse is going to track right across the continental United States from sort of northeast Pacific coast to southwest-ish Atlantic. No, actually, it’ll be the other way, TV graphics guys please take note. The sun moves from east to west. Only the sun doesn’t move, it’s us that’s moving from west to east! Who knew?

As you can imagine, everyone is getting quite excited about it.

Especially the dumbfucks.

Trump’s fanbase have been posting all sorts of wild conspiracy theories on YouTube for weeks. The expectation is that the eclipse plus D Trump’s failing presidency that was foretold in Revelations prefigures the End Times.

An eclipse. Spoiler alert.

Due to the combined gravitational influence of the sun AND the moon together, Facebook will crash and planes fall from the sky. There will be massive earthquakes and tsunamis. Rivers will run backwards and lakes empty themselves. Rains of frogs and plagues of boils will erupt. Long-dormant supervolcanoes will spring into life, ancient calderas spewing out trillions of tonnes of deadly white-hot ash, creating nuclear winter right around the globe. Trump will ascend to Heaven in a golden motorcade. Jesus will come to judge us. There’ll be a new series of Knightrider in the fall.

Seriously, we heard an item on the radio this morning – well, only the trailer for the item, I was too busy getting dressed – about some university in the USA that is using the occasion to measure the effect of the total eclipse on solar panels. Duh, dude, what do you think happens to solar panels in the dark? Right, and then twenty minutes later the sun comes out again, and… oh yeah, right! Heavily subsidised electricity!

It seems clear to The Pumpkin at least that there’s a part of the American psyche that’s remained unchanged since the pioneering days of the 17th century. It must have been pretty scary out there alone in the woods, on the great plains, in the mountains. Bears, wolves, bobcats, eagles, beavers – all gone now – marauding injuns, poison ivy, quaking bogs, country singers – such terrors merely added to the normal superstitions of the times: the devil stalking the land with his gleaming red eyes; corpses, witches and boogeymen comin’ ta gitcha in the howling darkness of the pristine savage wilderness; typhus, smallpox, ten-foot snowdrifts, post-partum haemorrhage, floods and droughts, huge storms, fiery comets and portentous veilings of the sun and moon…  just a thin wall of rough-hewn logs separating you from the unimaginable fate that awaits all sinners.

Who, after all, invented Halloween? Asks The Pumpkin.

Americans still appear to be terrified of almost everything even now. Which is odd, as they like to pretend they’re real tough hombres who can handle a screwdriver. They’re terrified of communists, of black people, of medical science, of anyone whose religion diverges marginally from their own profoundly held superstitions, of intellectuals, of women, of rationality and logic, of strangers, of AIDS, of banks and loans, of their own government, of Chinese imports, of geography, of doctors, of gunslingers riding into town on pale horses, of media journalists, of impotence and constipation, of secondhand car salesmen called Big Bob – of change in any form.

We’ve been through all this before. A tick of the clock at midnight on 31st December, 1999 was supposed to destroy technology as we knew it, cancelling hospital operations, causing power outages and messing with the traffic.

There’ve been so many poorly timed prophesies of the end of the world, so many crazy rumours about massive asteroids and invisible extra planets aiming straight for us, about global conspiracies (usually code for Jews, Freemasons or the Illuminati), a new ice-age, ancient civilizations with technology we ain’t discovered yet, the sun going crazy and blowing up, of the moon falling out of the sky, alien abductions, North Koreans invading… The internet and the video upload service of YouTube have taken this national paranoia to a new level.

Get this, guys. Every once in a while the normal orbiting of the moon interposes it between us and the sun. At 239,000 miles distance the circumference of the moon seen at the right angle from a narrow track across part of the earth just exactly covers the disc of the sun, making it weirdly not entirely dark for a few minutes – mind y’all don’t stare right at that ol’ sun, you’ll go blind. No, it’s not God’s wrath, it’s just that your eyes can’t cope with the bright? They’ll burn out. Just don’t you do it.

But the sum of gravity remains the same, okay? Just because they’re in alignment doesn’t increase their mass. It’s happened lots of times before, eclipses happen somewhere every few months and stuff doesn’t get sucked into the sky. Honest.

And then the little sparkly bit appears in the corner – that’s just the sun shining through a gap between some mountain peaks on the moon, not a Special Sign that Jesus loves you, or the Moonfolks launching their nukes, and it’s over, it’s good old daylight again and you shake your head with relief and say to yourself, was that all it was?, the electricity comes back on (only joking!!!) and everything is sadly normal again until the next time.

We hope.


“…the chances of Harry inheriting the crown are pretty slim; although of course in the event of World War Three hotting up, almost anything could happen.”

Angela Merkle

A Bag for Life

I had hoped British people were less absurdly inclined than Americans to imagine C-list TV celebrities can do just as good a job of running the country as any trained civil servant, career politician or mad tubby dictator with weird hair.

Unfortunately it appears I was wrong.

One shouldn’t give too much credence to the clickbait headlines in the tabloid press, especially on a Sunday in August when World War Three is the only other story doing the rounds, but my eye was caught by one in The Sunday Express, which started out with a banner howling down the perfectly acceptable Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall – née Parker-Bowles, Charles’ wife – and went on in 58-pt bullet-points to inform us that more than half of Britons polled would prefer to see Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s current Yanquee-doodle hot off a US TV series called Suits, take over from the Queen.

It’s astonishing, how cretinous the press think we are. And sad that they’re often right.

Now, there are several reasons why it won’t happen. Firstly, Markle’s an American, not a British citizen. That would have to be fixed. Secondly, even if Harry were to become King, there is no automatic presumption that his girlfriend would accede to the position of Queen. That would take an Act of Parliament, and it’s a stretch to imagine that Prime Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg would stand for it, as he hasn’t stood for anything since the time of Disraeli.

Thirdly, it takes a few years of training. It’s a serious job with constitutional responsibilities, not a part for an actress posing as royal icing. People have been doing it for well over a thousand years, and they haven’t always been successful. But there’s genuine meaning and cultural tradition involved, there are no scriptwriters, and only naval ratings (ha ha).

Harry is, as anyone knows, fifth in line to the throne. He has a father, my old school chum the increasingly morose Charles, who is the heir apparent; and an elder brother to follow him who is more than competent, has inherited the Windsor bald-spot, can fly a helicopter and seems not averse to taking the job in due course.

William has thus far fathered two offspring, George (third in line) and Charlotte (fourth in line). It is not necessarily the case even that his wife, Kate, will automatically be Queen when he inherits, although (a commoner) she is furiously boning-up on the ins-and-outs of monarchy.

So the chances of Harry inheriting the crown are pretty slim; although of course in the event of World War Three hotting up, almost anything could happen.

That the British public are completely ignorant of constitutional affairs and royal protocol is not really surprising. They will almost certainly be only vaguely aware – perhaps they saw the TV show – of the unhappy precedent of King Edward V111, who in 1936 was forced to give up the throne after only 11 months in the job when he wanted to marry the American socialite and divorcée, Wallis Simpson. They toddled off to the south of France and lived together for 50 years as the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Edward’s brother George V1 took over, had a good war, and that was that.

On his death in 1952 his wife, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, became the dowager Queen Mother and lived to 100; while her elder daughter Elizabeth 11 ascended to the actual throne. Had all four of Elizabeth’s children perished in a drone strike, her younger sister Margaret would have been next in line – but post- her divorce from Tony Armstrong-Jones – Lord Snowdon – her gardener/boyfriend, Roddy Llewellyn, another old school chum, would not have become king.

So you see, it’s not that simple.

There are also obvious reasons why Ms Markle should not become Queen, sweet girl though I have no doubt she is.

The incumbent Queen is now 91. She was born into The Firm and brought up to do the job, which is horrid and interminably boring, requiring immense patience and stamina; not to mention, absolute loyalty to her often frustrating people and the willingness to put up with endless govelling deference.

It’s a 24/7/365 gig, from which the only reliefs are gin, horses and death from emphysema.

You get to travel sultry parts of the world known as the Commonwealth, pretending we have common interests and a heritage that didn’t consist of ruthless commercial exploitation and bloody acts of repression, trailing around with a bunch of stuffed-shirt colonials with ostrich feathers on their hats, gesturing hopefully from behind bullet-proof glass at hordes of gurning dimwits waving little flags. Heading for the beach and sunbathing topless are strictly no-nos: duty calls.

Half a dozen times a year you are obliged as a governmental necessity whenever £billion arms contracts are in the balance to throw your house open to kleptocratic, murderous foreign dictators and make small-talk over dreadful food with their many obese wives. Finding reliable servants, too, is a constant headache.

Supported by her now 96-year-old husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (NOT ‘King Philip’, you’ll note), ‘Brenda’ as the palace staff used to call her behind her back, has been doing it all brilliantly since 1952 without a break and is unable to retire on a pension like you and me. Out of the not particularly outrageous sums of money we pay her she has to upkeep five royal residences, that are open at least in part to the public.

It’s not an act.

Not reality TV.

It’s a bag for life.












The BogPo asks: How doomed exactly are we? Grind them into dust! Law and Disorder. Granny Weatherwax: Bi-polar Disorder. Important message to the BBC Board.

“Someone needs to tell Trump to ‘calm down, dear’ – but I suspect he probably knows that.”

How doomed exactly are we?

Trump has only one ideological position, which is: the Don + money + unconditional regard = good. Everything else = sad. Fake nooze.

‘Their knees are probably shot…’ Kim’s toy army on parade. (The Telegraph)

It’s no use appealing to the view that Trump has any political position other than clinging on to a job he must realize he is not physically or mentally fit to do (he has never had a job before, in the sense that the only employer he has known is Donald J Trump). He used to be a socially liberal Democrat, his rightwing posturing is purely expedient.

He has had to resort to consorting with some very dubious people and adopting some very crude methods to battle his way past his own severe limitations and gross appetites, yet at 71 he remains deeply in debt and under several potentially criminal investigations from which only his position and ability to divert party funds to pay a legal team are protecting him, to an extent he perhaps has not realized is quite limited.

The people around him are the danger, half of them are corrupt, cynical and/or merely incompetent and the other half are well-funded white supremacist Christian ideologues looking forward to the End Times. Bizarrely they’re being kept in check by a triad of military ‘hawks’ who nevertheless appear to be the only rational people in the building.

He also appears from his random actions, incoherent utterances (when off-script) and apparently self-delusory beliefs to be suffering in the early stages of dementia and really needs help.

Constant hammering by his critics may be making his behavior more, not less extreme: his latter protestations of huge success in office and great popular approval fly in the face of the facts and are indicative of a profound and growing insecurity against which he may react by doing something really stupid. That, or he has a ghostly sense of humor.

Observe his self-protecting body language as he spoke of ‘fire and fury’, arms tightly folded, shoulders hunched, eye movements indicative of growing desperation, seeking out an autocue device with some Bannonite text that wasn’t there to help bim.

That said, North Korea does not possess an invasion fleet, only a toy army that looks impressively drilled on the parade ground but appears to be equipped with old Russian technology and AK-47 rifles; that exaggerated marching style means their knees are probably shot; nor enough nuclear capacity to sustain a war beyond one brief and probably ineffectual exchange.

There have been intel reports before that they’ve succeeded in weaponizing their rockets, which turned out to be fake news.

They are not talking about a strike on Guam, only a display of unarmed synchronized rocketry promising splashdown  ‘near’ Guam. Kim is neither mad nor stupid enough to attack America for real, his bellicosity is mainly for domestic consumption, that has not changed. Someone needs to tell Trump to ‘calm down, dear’ – but I suspect he probably knows that.

We must believe that he is hoping, however riskily, that Kim will recognise the game he is playing, that two predictably ‘unpredictable’ leaders with authoritarian tendencies can play at it, and calm down himself.

Let’s hope, anyway.


On the subject of Kim’s invincible million-strong army, three years of drought in North Korea have reduced agricultural output and additional sanctions putting blocks on food imports are creating difficult conditions for the country’s food security. What there is is being diverted via corrupt officials. The UN reports many people and the lower ranks of the military are malnourished and may be close to starvation.


Grind them into dust!

A former aide to Brexit negotiations supremo David Davis has finally cracked and blown the gaff on the whole sorry saga, calling it ‘a catastrophe’ and urging that Boris Johnson and the other plotters should be gaoled for lying to the British people.

Is he looking at charges?

James Chapman went deliciously crazy today, firing off a seemingly endless series of tweets aimed at hapless ministers who have tried to express some collective optimism in the unfolding disaster, demanding to know if, for instance, UK airlines are going to be able to fly next year without a new Open Skies agreement in place – negotiations haven’t yet started – and claiming thousands of Brexit supporters will be badly hit by new customs regulations and port infrastructure that could cost them their homes, and by any delay for cancer patients in negotiating continuing arrangements with Euratom over the importation of radiotherapy isotopes.

According to The Guardian:

“The rush of tweets over the course of many hours infuriated a number of Brexit supporters, including Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, who asked which side Chapman was ‘really working for in the Brexit department’. As the row played out on Twitter, Michael Heaver, a former aide to Farage, said Chapman’s words were ‘lots of tweeting and not much action’ and suggested it was a sign remainers are ‘losing it’.

In response, Chapman replied to Farage and Heaver saying he intended to “grind you and your appalling party into the dust”.

Reports that Chapman plans next to invade the White House have been denied….

Loving it! LOL


Law and Disorder

“We live in the information age. Anonymity is almost impossible to maintain.”

Probation officers have found a juvenile offender on parole to have been ‘in possession’ of a knife at his home. Although there was ‘no suggestion’ he had used it for any criminal purpose, the ‘disturbed’ 18-year-old is now back in custody, from which he had only recently been released after serving six years of an indefinite youth custody sentence, undergoing reassessment.

He and his older brother were originally convicted in 2010 of kidnapping and torturing two 10-year-olds in a ravine near their estate home in an impoverished former mining village in Yorkshire, where they were in the foster care of an elderly couple who couldn’t cope with them. The details of the abuse were pretty horrific, so the boys, then only 10 and 12, were granted exceptional immunity and given new identities on release, in an echo of the James Bulger murder case in the 1980s.

These orders have a way of rebounding on the courts. The supposedly protected 10- and 11 year-old kidnappers, torturers and killers of two year-old James were eventually outed as Robert Thompson and John Venables, the youngest convicted murderers in modern English history. After serving a fairly long sentence in juvenile custody, Venables – the more biddable of the two – was later returned to prison in 2011 after being found with child pornography on his computer. Both are now out, Thompson for many years, and have again been given new identities.

That sequence of events did not please the tabloid press.

Known universally as ‘Devil Boy’, the younger of the two Yorkshire torturers is now the subject of a barrage of insane outrage online from the usual baying mob whipped up by the tabloid press about the £1/2 million cost and politically correct madness of the judge granting the two children anonymity in the first place, although it is exceptional to identify defendants in juvenile cases.

Their unhappiness with the justice system is to miss the obvious point that if the court allows the younger brother to be named, because he is now an adult and supposedly a reoffender, on however minor a parole violation, the older brother who has a right to anonymity will also be ‘outed’ and both their lives made a permanent hell, because they have THE SAME NAME.

There are those who will argue they deserve it, there always are; although damaged young children from abusive backgrounds of deprivation and poverty, who had already been in trouble with the police, can equally be said to have a diminished sense of responsibility and lack of empathy and deserve the chance of rehabilitation, given the right psychological and social support.

Of course, that’s never good enough for the enthusiastic hangers and floggers who can’t find it in their hearts to pity anyone but themselves, even children.

In some countries, the age of criminal responsibility is as young as 7, in others it may range up to 18 or more. Britain follows most in setting the age at 10, which in the opinion of the BogPo is barbaric enough, given that we used to hang children of that age for stealing more than five shillings.

A website calling itself ‘Bizarrepedia’ however raises a serious point about the granting of anonymity to child convicts on their  eventual release from custody.

We live in the information age. Anonymity is almost impossible to maintain. The rebarbative armchair vigilante brigade that immediately sets out to try to unmask and persecute even supposedly rehabilitated child offenders has more than once identified the wrong target:

“Scott Bradley was regularly verbally abused after a hate mob falsely identified him as Robert Thompson. He took his own life. In his suicide letter, he wrote: ‘They called me all sorts – a paedophile, a follower of young girls, walking around bullying old people. The list is endless’.”

So pernicious is the bloodthirsty British instinct for revenge to be exacted in all cases, that the website goes on to blame Thompson and Venables themselves for ‘killing’ Bradley, by accepting court protection and thus rousing the finest instincts of the existentially disappointed thugs, bullies and prurient, self-righteous authoritarians who make up the hate community. One suspects many of them are probably child abusers themselves.

All editorial caution goes out of the window in these cases. According to The Sun, the boy ‘tricked’ his way out of prison by conning the parole board into imagining that he was on the path of rehabilitation. They know that for a fact, do they? But of course, because he has reoffended, sort of. He owns a knife, that he hasn’t committed a crime with – no smoke without fire, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, eh? I don’t know, these Devil Boys. Gotta keep roasting ’em for all Eternity.

It is still possible to imagine that the young man has not been receiving the full support of the probation service and feels threatened and vulnerable. Possible for those, that is, who have a different sort of imagination not rooted in the fifteenth century, when devils, ghosts, witches and boggarts roamed the land, putting the evil eye on people’s prize marrows, hunted by gangs of credulous village baboons armed with pitchforks and torches, urged on by the Witchfinder General, Mr Murdoch.


10% – The amount by which the Government has secretly increased the fixed annual payments to private, mostly US companies involved in running Britain’s failing probation service (£277 million) in order to try to get them to fulfil the terms of their contracts. (Story: Private Eye #1450)


Granny Weatherwax: Bi-polar Disorder

Ottawa University climatologist, Prof Paul Beckwith reports, satellite images show there’s a wildfire burning in Greenland; it’s raining in both polar regions where it’s only supposed to snow. Arctic temperature anomaly is up to 8C and while the extent is broadly similar to the lowest ever recorded, in 2012, there’s almost no sea ice left anywhere more than 2 metres thick, otherwise it’s mostly thin stuff breaking up and floating away.

The jetstreams he reported for July 20th as having broken in pieces and crossed over the equator into both northern and southern hemispheres for the first time, mixing together. Sections are dragging contra-rotating air masses around, the southern parts have been broadening out in the hemisphere, weakening, and now fill 95% of the southern sky when at this time in winter it ought to be tightly focussed in a narrow high-speed band around the pole.

Unfortunately the video terminated abruptly at that point so I have no idea what it portends. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look good.

Sierra Leone: Hundreds of people are feared dead and others trapped in their homes after a mudslide near the capital, Freetown. A hillside in the Regent area collapsed early on Monday following heavy rains, leaving many houses completely covered in mud. (14 Aug.)

Arctic: Sea ice ‘gone’ by mid-September? “On average, surface temperatures over the Arctic Ocean have been more than 2.5°C (or 4.5°F) warmer than in 1981-2010. The warmer air is now also melting the sea ice from above, as temperatures over the Arctic have risen to well above the freezing point.”

Greenland: ‘unprecedented’ wildfire burning since 31 July, 3000 acres destroyed (no firefighting available). Australian firefighters arriving in Canada to help with 28 new wildfires in British Columbia adding to the 100 already burning – some rain may arrive shortly to help, but not enough.

Russia: powerful storm brings flash flooding to Vladivostock, most easterly city in Europe and home of the Russian Pacific Fleet. Roads and bridges washed away. A 2000 km-long plume of smoke from wildfires over Siberia centred around the city of Krasnoyarsk can be seen from space.

Mexico: city of Campeche, Yucatan hit by Tropical Storm Franklin, with widespread flash flooding. Other parts flooded; Moncova, Cloahuila, Nuevo Leon. Heatwave affecting Hermosillo, NW Mexico, expected to peak at 44C, 111F on Friday.

24 hours in Tulsa. Tornado damage. (D. Mail)

USA: unseasonal ‘freak’ tornado injures 30, damages houses, shops and cars in Tulsa, Oklahoma. City pounded by powerful storm, 130 mph wind, localized flooding. Power out. Weather service taken completely by surprise.

USA: Kansas City: 8 inches of rain overnight brings more flooding to the city. 6in rain falls on Houston, Texas in 6 hours. Dallas, Texas on flood alert. New Orleans floods starting to abate. Tornado in Maryland blows cars away – again no warning.

Italy: Alpine ski resorts melting out under a layer of soot from fires, glaciers vanishing rapidly. Five dead in violent storms following 130F heatwave. More amazing scenes as rivers of ice flow through Cortina’s streets from massive hailstones the size of hens’ eggs. Temperatures locally in south achieve 55C, 131F.

Austria: clearing up after flash floods in the mountains. Flash floods in Switzerland.

Spain: Drought. Towns in Andalucia and rural villages running out of drinking water, reservoirs at historic lows, intermittent mains water interruptions reported. A powerful storm with many lightning strikes floods the town of Denia, on the Costa Blanca. Violent storm over Ibiza brings torrential rain, property damage. New fires are raging through central Portugal.

UK: heavy rain has caused flooding in parts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire as the Met Office warns of further rainfall. A huge bulk grain carrier has departed for Spain with 70,000 tons of barley on board to feed cattle starved of grazing by the drought.

Japan: Typhoon Noru hits mainland, dumps 500mm rain, flooding, ‘tens of thousands’ evacuated. Storm reported to be weakening over land as it approaches Tokyo.

China: As if the earthquake in Sichuan was not enough (death toll 25 and counting, 45 seriously injured, 85,000 evacuated) a flash flood and landslide carries away part of a village in Puge county. 25 people are missing, 71 homes destroyed. Heilongjian province, northeast China, the city of Harbin floods after torrential rain.

S Korea: deaths from heatstroke reported among the elderly. 37C – plus (100F) heatwave continues into fourth week. 2.7 million chickens and other livestock have died due to the extreme conditions. Korean TV reports, annual average temperature has increased 1.8C in the past 100 years, 0.8C in the past 30 years – and accelerating fast. Hospital admissions with heatstroke have doubled in the past five years.

India: new flooding in Assam, 65,000 evacuated.

“Dozens of elephants and rafts have been deployed to rescue nearly 500 people trapped by floods in a popular resort in southern Nepal, officials say. Several hotels in Sauraha, in Chitwan district, have been inundated, trapping the tourists, many of them foreigners. The floods and landslides caused by torrential rains have killed at least 49 people across the country. … Meanwhile, in neighbouring India, 45 people were killed when a massive landslide swept two packed passenger buses off a hillside into a deep gorge.” – BBC News, 13 Aug.

Iraq: building workers given the day off owing to extreme heat.

Commenting to Climate and Extreme Weather News, ‘CA Lund’ makes all the points the BogPo has been trying to make these past few months: it’s real, it’s ongoing and it’s very likely unstoppable.

“All the evidence a rational person needs is right in front of us, and it’s not even that the climate is changing, it’s that the climate has changed. It’s flipping into chaos.”

Thank you, CA. Where are the ‘rational’ people, I wonder?

Climate and Extreme Weather News #52, 53/ BBC Weather/ Arctic News/ Il Globo

  • Yellowstone update: 53 earthquakes up to M2.9  recorded in the bubbly 60 km-wide caldera on Wednesday 9 August. New magma is thought to be flooding the upper chamber.


The BogPo writes, on the subject of context:

One of the problems of researching these extreme weather reports is the lack of date information on many websites. We name The Telegraph as one egregious offender. Years-old reports come up on search even when you key-in 2017 and it takes time to verify the dates. But WE DO TRY!

Local media around the world seem reluctant to put off tourists by admitting to extreme weather events on their patch. Weather bureaux seem not to want to acknowledge that there is a wider problem than just forecasting tomorrow’s weather. US TV stations in particular seem taken by surprise that there may have been an extreme weather event locally, when similar outrages are happening everywhere across the USA and the world!

News media almost invariably report stories without reference to any extreme weather that may be going on behind the camera, while news analysis seldom makes mention of extreme weather events as part of the geopolitical strategic context: for instance, the crisis in Korea is playing out against the background of an extreme and tenacious heatwave in the south, while there have been floods in the north. It is hard to see, too, how the weather events we are reporting on weekly are not having an effect on national economies.

You can rely on the BogPo to do it for them.



An important message to the BBC Executive Board

Let’s say you have an individual, a tenured professor of cosmology with two PhDs from a venerable Russell Group university, who has spent nine years in fulltime higher education specializing in his field and twenty years doing field research, teaching, reading and publishing peer-reviewed papers, a well-respected knight of the realm and director of a cosmological institute who has worldwide access to research teams and all the latest scientific equipment.

He is invited onto a national flagship morning news programme to give his ‘scientific opinion’ that the moon is a lump of rock whizzing around the earth; a fact that was verified fifty years earlier after some other scientists actually went there to look.

In the interests of fairness, which is mandated in the charter under which you operate as an independent corporation with tax-raising powers, an hour later you introduce an elderly former politician and discredited Chicago school economist, a professional controversialist in the pay of a moon-mining corporation, to give a ‘balancing opinion’ that the moon is in fact made of green cheese. It is hollow, he solemnly assures the audience, and flying saucers live inside it.

He has no knowledge whatsoever of practical cosmology, other than to maintain that the sun revolves around the earth – but that doesn’t matter, because it’s what we observe every day when it comes up over the rim of the flat disc we live on and is obvious, innit?

As the interlocutor, given that your guests refuse to debate one another head to head, you have to present a set of questions to each interviewee as if coming from the opposite camp. That’s what is known as editorial impartiality. You are not supposed to favour either point of view, and must treat both impartially as a matter of conjecture, fit for debate; even though one thesis is patently, utterly absurd and the other is fully and firmly established, although it is true that scientists have not yet physically travelled inside the moon to ascertain who might be living there, and cannot therefore be certain whether the Selenites’ scales are red or green, or whether they might instead be covered with feathers and speak Mayan.

And just as it’s getting interesting, sorry, okay, that’s enough, we need to go to the weather… Your audience is left in a state of mental paralysis. The two opposing points of view cannot both be true, yet the hallowed broadcaster, famed for its impartiality, has given precisely calibrated equal weight to both as if they are true. Job done.

Only it’s not. Former Director-Geeral, John Birt and journalist Peter Jay spoke of the ‘bias against understanding’, that results from the pursuit such arbitrary fairy-stories as ‘balance’. In this case, two-plus-two equals zero.

Judging by President Trump’s polling figures, it seems to be a general principle that 66% – two-thirds of the people – will always be inclined to accept that there is at least a 51% probability that the experts might be right; and one-third, 34%, who distrust experts. profoundly.

Experts who talk down to us ordinary people, who’ve been deprived by economic disadvantage of the opportunity to learn even to spell our own names, who have never read an actual book; so that we CHOOSE to believe any old bollocks that makes us feel better, as we cheerfully slice the tops off our boiled eggs poisoned with pesticide, knowing more about real life than some posh elite (ignoring that the proponent of the hollow moon theory is even more of a posh git from the Establishment than the professor, who hails from a modest lower-middle-class estate in Dundee).

What we think is more important than what you know.

That, unfortunately, is the situation we have with ‘climate change’ – an over-polite phrase meaning all-hell is being let loose over much of the planet even as you read this, thanks in large measure to our childlike habit of expecting lights to come on at our bidding.

So here’s a message for the politicians and industrialists who like to scream blue murder whenever the BBC shows the slightest sign of accepting a consensus view about anything; and a message for BBC editors trapped in the dangerous quicksands of ‘impartial balance’:



Perhaps you would therefore explain to that tendentious old humbug, Humphrys, that the stupid and uneducated point he put to Al Gore about natural fluctuations in the global climatic average over time has already been discounted in calculating human impact, is a typical red herring promoted by the denial lobby and has no material relevance in the argument about the causes and consequences of a runaway warming earth.

When will you start taking this issue seriously and stop pussyfooting around it?

Thank you.