Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Idler, Tuesday, September 11, 2018





LAST week we discussed the way events in Britain -  as the police and security services uncover the Salisbury poisonings by Russian agents - look like something that could have been scripted by espionage novelist John le Carre.


Also that in the US events in the White House make yet another blockbuster book – launched today – by veteran investigative journalist Bob Woodward.


Then in a wide-ranging interview on CNN television the other night, we had George Papadopoulos, seemingly a kind of international fixer who was on Donald Trump's campaign team - and who recently co-operated with the FBI in its investigation of alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. Papadopoulos has ended up with a slap-on-the-wrist 14 days prison sentence for originally lying to the FBI.


Intriguing stuff. Yes, he told CNN, at a meeting where candidate Trump was present he did offer to set up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. No decision was taken at the meeting.


A somewhat bewildering account followed of clandestine meetings with various strange individuals, one of whom offered him employment.


Was Papadopoulos being recruited as a Russian agent? It's not explained.


At this time of the strange encounters, Papadopoulos also met a vivacious blonde Italian lady, Simone Marigiante, who speaks five languages, a citizen of the world. Things blossomed; they became engaged; they married; they're still happily married.


What brought them together? We're not really told. Was she perhaps another agent? Simone too was interviewed. CNN suggested her accent was not really Italian. She had become a citizen of the world, she insisted. Yes, she had been to Russia. So what?


Still mystery. But whatever, romance prevails. Another literary parallel: Ian Fleming's James Bond story, The Spy Who Loved Me. (Background violins).



·        IN BOB Woodward's book, Fear: Trump in the White House, James Mattis, Secretary for Defence, is said to have described Trump's understanding as being at the level of a fifth or sixth grader (Mattis denies having said any such thing).

Now the New Yorker reports Trump being furious at discovery that the book has been written at a seventh-grade reading level.


"An aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Trump was convinced that Woodward wrote the book for seventh-grade readers to make its assertions impossible for him to refute.

"'Trump was turning page after page, becoming increasingly angry at its gratuitous use of a seventh-grade vocabulary,' the aide said. 'It was like it was written entirely in a secret code."

"At one point, Trump became so frustrated trying to decipher the word 'imbecilic' that he hurled the book across the room."

This is satirist Andy Borowitz again. Boy, the knives are out.

·       ENGLAND seems suddenly to be invaded by alien snakes. A 2m albino corn snake (from America) was found slithering along a street in Newcastle, in the north of the country, and was caught and handed over to police, according to Sky News.

And at Billericay, in Essex, a 2m boa constrictor is at large. The local council has put up notices warning residents that small dogs could be at risk.

Could this have anything to do with Brexit? Or perhaps the impending Tory and Labour Party conferences?

·       READER Naomi Stapersma asks which government official it is who is allowed to tell members of the public: "Shut your mouth!" – and without any come-back.


It's the photographer at Home Affairs.


"MY EX-HUSBAND wants to marry me again."

"That's flattering."

"Not really. I think he's after the money I married him for."



Last word

Crime does not pay ... as well as politics.

Alfred E Newman



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