Lunch at Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori

July 29, 2015
latte

latte

Excellent lunch at the little Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori. Courgette soup with garlic,  followed by sea bass served with  new potatoes and beans.

The soup not quite piping hot. The sea bass delicious.

Started outside in the garden, then had to rush indoors when it rained.

On last visit, the service was awful, today exemplary. Why the service was so bad on the last visit, I do not know, as not the norm. At a guess, maybe  a new girl who had only started and did not know what she was doing.

Afternoon in Alton

July 29, 2015
The Old Curiosity Shop

The Old Curiosity Shop

water meadows

water meadows

Heron at Kings Pond

heron at Kings Pond

A dull, cool, cloudy day. Hazy sun broke through and it warmed up a little. Then it rained and temperature dropped.

Looked in The Old Curiosity Shop.

Excellent lunch at the little Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori. Courgette soup with garlic,  followed by sea bass served with  new potatoes and beans. Started outside in the garden, then had to rush indoors when it rained. On last visit, the service was awful, today exemplary.

A walk to the source of the River Wey. The stream bed still dry. Through the water meadows, then a walk around the Kings Pond.

From Kings Pond, I found an alley that ran alongside the railway line that led to Alton Station.

Arrived at Alton Station, just in time to catch a train before it departed.

FairCoop give away 40 FairCoins for you to participate in FairCoin Week

July 29, 2015
40 FairCoins free

40 FairCoins free

To promote FairCoin Week, FairCoop are giving away FairCoins.

To obtain 40 FairCoins, or be in with a chance to obtain 40 FairCoins, need to do two things:

  1. Install FairCoin wallet for Android
  2. Make a request to receive to receive 40 FairCoins

FairCoin is a cryptocurrency.

Celebrate Aldershot

July 29, 2015
Celebrate Aldershot

Celebrate Aldershot

Is this an idea of a sick joke from the Council?

Celebrate what? Come to Aldershot, see the four market stalls, the boarded-up shops, the tacky fast food outlets, the gambling joints, the charity shops, binge drinking bars, drunken yobs on the streets at night.

We did last year have lovely trees, but they have been cut down.

With M&S confirming they are closing, this is the council taking the piss.

£4.5 million for new paving slabs, and cosmetic changes, and they cannot even get that right.

Wider pavements along Grosvenor Road, no shops and no one walks along.

Entrance to Grosvenor Road nigh impossible for buses and lorries to navigate.

No pedestrian crossing across Grosvenor Road connecting Upper Union Street to Union Street.

A lorry bay has finally been constructed at the back of 99p Stores, to enable delivery by trolley and handcart to the shops. Only one problem. It is the width of a car not a lorry.

Finally Notices have been posted for a Traffic Order for the pedestrianised streets to be made vehicle free. Only it is for an experiment, not permanent.

A cause for celebration, would be the imbecile leader of the council apologising for destroying Aldershot and resigning.

As a local business said yesterday: We lose money, see our businesses destroyed, and they continue to draw their wages.

Heads should roll over the destruction of Aldershot.

There also has to be fundamental changes in the way the council functions. Party apparatchiks who are of no use to man nor beast, elected on a party ticket. You could count on one hand the councillors who are of any use, the rest are a complete waste of space.

We have to look to Frome in Somerset and have a Flatpack Democracy Revolution. Local people meet, choose who their candidates will be, elect them to council. In Frome, a clean sweep of the council. The council now functions differently, councillors work with local people not against, people participate in council meetings.

 

Officially confirmed M&S Aldershot to close

July 28, 2015
M&S Aldershot to close

M&S Aldershot to close

It has been officially confirmed, M&S Aldershot will close 26 September 2015.

The petition to save M&S was at best marginal. The store was not commercially viable. For some time, the amount of stock that cannot be sold elsewhere has been dwindling.

Whilst some may blame M&S for closing, that anger should be directed at the local council. The council has trashed Aldershot. M&S closing is a massive vote of No Confidence in the local council, a council not fit for purpose.

And to make matters worse, they held a meeting with M&S where they said Aldershot was on the up. Did they really think treating M&S as fools was helpful?

Celebrate Aldershot

Celebrate Aldershot

And to add insult to injury, someone’s idea of a massive piss take, you are invited to Celebrate Aldershot.

Celebrate what? Closed shops, disgusting fast food outlets, gambling joints, binge drinking bars, drunken yobs on the streets at night?

The local council has trashed Aldershot. We are now reaping the rewards.

M&S is a basket shop. People shop little and often, they wander around the town and pop in other shops, take a coffee, a bite to eat. Contrast with Morrisons in Wastegate, a trolley shop, dump in the back of the car and drive home.

In any town, around 10% of shops and local businesses are on the edge, hanging on by their fingertips. In Aldershot, that figure is probably much higher.

When a shop closes, that is one less reason to visit the town. Those on the edge see less custom, they go under. More reasons not to visit the town. More businesses on the edge, more go over the edge.

Collapse can be very rapid.

Several businesses are considering their position. They see no future in Aldershot.

In a small town in Lincolnshire a few years ago, M&S closed. What followed next was the collapse of the town.

11,000 plus signed a petition. Only they did not, there were two petitions. How much was double counting, how many not local to Aldershot? The best can do, is list numbers that signed each petition.

But let us assume we have a core of people. Signing a petition is one thing. Let us assume we have a hard core who are prepared to be activists.

We now have to decide what next? What to do to stop the collapse, to rebuild Aldershot?

Top down does not work. Bottom up, grass roots, cooperation between local businesses, local people does work.

We stop letting developers dictate policy. They are driven by short term greed.

We have The Arcade and The Galleries sitting empty. What do we do with them? There is no intention to let either. Businesses have tried.

Neither should have been built. But we have got what we have got.

The Galleries is not empty. TechStart are there. A social enterprise. They take in old computers, refurbish, provide internet access.

Start a hub, small businesses, start-ups, open co-ops, social enterprises, all cooperating with each other, not competing with each other.

  • social enterprise cafe
  •  tool swap
  •  repair shop
  •  fablab

Social enterprise cafe, intercept waste food, turn into delicious meals, pay-what-you-want. Better than food banks, lacks the social stigma, not reliant upon referrals from Job Centres

Tool swap, donate those tools you never use, borrow when you need to.

Repair shop, take in broken stuff, learn how to repair.

FabLab, high-tech equipment to use in a supervised environment.

Closure of M&S is not the only blow. Aldershot is being hit by a double whammy. An already deprived area, welfare cuts will take £1000 from every poor family. Add that up, a lot of money no longer flowing into Aldershot.

We therefore have to stop money flowing out of Aldershot.

Wastegate not only a disaster due to relocation of the centre of retail gravity away from the town centre, every tenner spent in one of the chain eateries, is a tenner drained out of Aldershot.

We must encourage quality local businesses like Caffe Macchiato, that not only retain and recycle money within the local economy, but act as quality attraction to draw people into Aldershot.

The Tea Shop Around the Corner has opened in the old Post Office in North Camp. Little footfall, and yet always busy. They note the ham they serve is from the local butcher. The local butcher sees an upturn in trade.

Look at North Laine in Brighton. Three streets, indy businesses not a chain in sight always busy.

A quality market brings people into a town. Aldershot market, two fruit and vegetable stalls and stalls selling tat. The council taking over the market has proved to be an unmitigated disaster.

Heads should roll at the council. At the very least the imbecile leader of the council should resign.

But there also has to be fundamental changes in the way the council functions. Party apparatchiks who are of no use to man nor beast, elected on a party ticket. You could count on one hand the councillors who are of any use, the rest are a complete waste of space.

We have to look to Frome in Somerset and have a Flatpack Democracy Revolution. Local people meet, choose who their candidates will be, elect them to council. In Frome, a clean sweep of the council. The council now functions differently, councillors work with local people not against, people participate in council meetings.

Denial of bank accounts to Muslims

July 28, 2015

Banks are a necessary evil.

Imagine then one day, you or the organisation you work for or belong to gets a letter saying your bank account will be closed forthwith. You are given no explanation, no right of appeal. This is what has happened to many Muslims and Muslim organisations, including the Finsbury Park Mosque, who have received identical letters from HSBC.

HSBC, the bank that money launders for Mexican drug cartels and terrorists, that aids tax evasion, where as yet not a single banker has been handed a prison sentence, has been sending identical letters to Muslims saying their bank accounts will be closed.

Peter Oborne was Chief Political commentator of the Daily Telegraph. When the paper refused to publish an article he had written which was critical of HSBC, when he noticed they were not covering the money laundering and other scandals relating to HSBC, he resigned.

Daily Telegraph takes advertising from HSBC. Barclay Brothers, who own the Daily Telegraph, borrow huge sums from HSBC.

Now working as a frelance jouranalits, Peter Oborne decided to dig a little deeper. What he found is shocking.

World-Check a shadowy organisation, something out of a James Bond movie, compiles data on people. If they mark you down as a terrorist, you are likely to be denied a bank account.

Note: Without seeking you permission, World-Check will put a cookie on your computer to monitor you. Access their website they arrogantly deems granting permission to spy on you.

And how does this shadowy organisation decide you are a terrorist? Er blogs, Wikipedia, UAE says so. This is what World-Check regard as high grade intelligence. Oh, and media articles.

It is well documented Wikipedia an unreliable source of information, as accurate as the last troll to have edited an entry.

UAE, like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, is ruled by a corrupt elite, where human rights abuses are the norm. Oppose any of these terrorist states, and you will be listed as a terrorist.

Turkey is using ISIS as a cover to bomb Kurds in Iraq. Turkey calls them terrorists.

Israel bombs Palestine, calls Palestinians terrorists.

This means, UAE a Pariah State, or other Pariah States such as Israel, can list you as a terrorist, in turn be listed by a shadowy unaccountable organisation befitting a Bond movie, and you are denied a British bank account.

Who next to be targeted, bank accounts to be closed, activists? We have already seen terrorism legislation used against activists.

Caroline Lucas and Jeremy Corbyn need to be tabling questions in the House of Commons.

We need to be making better use of cryptocurrencies such as FairCoin, P2P money transfers, and crowd sourcing to make ourselves independent of banks. And to return to using cash.

Billy Bragg backs Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader

July 28, 2015

We have a very clear choice, three party wannabe leaders who are party apparatchiks, who are the reason Labour lost the last two elections, Liz Kendall backed by Blair lobbyists with her false smile and as much charm as a call centre sales girl, or Jeremy Corbyn who offers vision and integrity.

Daily Mail helpfully gave a list of what Jeremy Corbyn stands for ironically and why you should back him, though that probably was not their intention.

  • re-nationalise railways, electricity and Post Office
  • higher rate of tax for the rich
  • windfall tax on the rich
  • increase corporation tax
  • anti-austerity
  • opposition to welfare cuts hitting poorest people
  • eliminate welfare for corporations
  • action on tax dodgers
  • scrap university tuition fees

Labour has since Blair (maybe before) been owned lock stock and barrel by lobbyists, corporate interests and the banks.

Party apparatchiks crawl up through the system.

When they leave, they become lobbyists (as many of the Blair cronies became) or on the boards of the companies they acted as puppets for, they still (and this is bloody incredible) retain their Parliamentary passes which means they can wander around Westminster as they wish.

What is incensing them so much, is Jeremy Corbyn is an outsider, he is not tainted by the system, and because of this he is attracting massive public support.

If the three Tory clones were to take the leadership, nothing would change, Labour would remain unelectable. And even if electable, nothing would change.

The assumption is, we have to act through Parliament. Why? We take to the streets, and Jeremy Corbyn would be with us on the streets.

But I would also urge a word of caution. We cannot be too reliant upon leaders. We have to organise at grass roots. In Revolution Russell Brand warned against putting too much faith in leaders.

Syriza did their best but they were up against the Fourth Reich.

This is quote is highly relevant (from Plan C):

Now is the moment for a broad alliance of social forces to bring forward a ‘Plan C’, based on social collaboration, decentralized self-government and the stewardship of common goods. Without overlooking its significance, national electoral politics is not the privileged field of action when it comes to social transformation. The withering away of democracy in Europe should be complemented and challenged by the fortification of self-organized communities at a local level and the forging of strong bonds between them, along with a turn to a solidarity- and needs-based economy, and the collective management and defense of common goods.

SNP cannot understand why Labour are there. They are failing to scrutinise, failing to act for the poorest in the land who are suffering.

The poor are being bled dry, but Labour sit on their hands, because they think it is in the best interest of the party.

What do they think they are there for, for the few who voted for them?

If they do not act for those who voted for them, there will be even fewer next time round.

They will be seen as the LibDems, an irrelevance. Something from a bygone age, when we had workers and factories and trade unions and carts drawn by horses.

We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the way politics functions in this country.

20:20 launched a few days ago. Every day for twenty days (five already gone) encourage someone to register as Labour Party supporter and vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

If you want to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, simply register as a Labour Party Supporter at a one off fee of £3 and you can vote.

An alternative Greek currency

July 27, 2015
Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs

The truth of the matter is, the very powerful Troika of creditors were not interested in coming to a sensible, honorable mutually beneficial agreement. — Yanis Varoufakis

The euro was flawed from the start, everyone knew this.

Yes, Greece should leave the euro, but difficult to create a new currency from scratch.

Not in the same position as Iceland or Argentina, both countries had own currencies, but otherwise similar.

Were Greece still on the drachma, they would not be where they are today.

But, they are too fixated on remaining in the euro and being members of Fourth Reich, even though neither is of advantage to them, quite the opposite.

This meant they had one arm tied behind their back when they entered into negotiations and were shafted. Had they called the bluff, defaulted, exited the euro, the euro would have collapsed and Germans would have been in the shit.

The role of a Central Bank is a lender of last resort. For the euro zone it is the European Central Bank. ECB turned off the money supply to Greece to force Greece to its knees. Once there was unconditional surrender, a choice between suicide or execution, ECB turned back on the money supply to Greek banks. The money that was lent, flowed back out to pay off international creditors, a  point Germans should note when they keep referring to bailing out Greece.

The Fourth Reich showed they would happily destroy a country if that country did not give in to its demands. They forced onto Greece, not only a surrender, but an unconditional surrender, part of which is rape and pillage of the country, enclosure of the commons, sell off of Greek assets on the cheap.  But at least we all now know what the Fourth Reich is capable of, Its brutality was exposed for all the world to see.  At least Podemos in Spain now know exactly what they are dealing with.

It was meant to set an example to Podemos, do not dare oppose the Fourth Reich this too will be your fate.

But it has had had the opposite effect, for pro-democracy activists across Europe to double their efforts to defeat the Fourth Reich.

What we have learnt, we have to work from the grass roots upwards. Syriza has grass roots support that most parties would die for, the NO vote showed that. But it was not enough. We have to restructure society from the bottom up.

Greece may have lost a battle, but not the war, the fight continues.

John Cassidy, writing in The New Yorker:

Syriza’s surrender wasn’t necessarily an ignominious one. As Lenin commented of the failed 1905 revolution in Russia, it was a retreat for a new attack, which ultimately proved successful. “I’m not going to sugarcoat this and pass it off as a success story,” Tsipras said to parliament on Wednesday, prior to the vote, acknowledging that the spending cuts and tax increases contained in the agreement would deal another blow to the Greek economy. However, that wasn’t the full story, Tsipras insisted. “We have left a heritage of dignity and democracy to Europe,” he said. “This fight will bear fruit.”

The euro zone is to benefit German industrial output.

The problem Greece has is many idle hands, work that needs doing, and no money to connect the two. What connects the two is money.

But money there is none, the banks are closed., or were, but even now open, restrictions on withdrawals.

Money has strange properties, it can move mountains, a feat usually the province of Gods.

Charles Eisenstein, Sacred Economics:

What we call recession, an earlier culture might have called “God abandoning the world.” Money is disappearing, and with it another property of spirit: the animating force of the human realm. At this writing, all over the world machines stand idle. Factories have ground to a halt; construction equipment sits derelict in the yard; parks and libraries are closing; and millions go homeless and hungry while housing units stand vacant and food rots in the warehouses. Yet all the human and material inputs to build the houses, distribute the food, and run the factories still exist. It is rather something immaterial, that animating spirit, which has fled. What has fled is money. That is the only thing missing, so insubstantial (in the form of electrons in computers) that it can hardly be said to exist at all, yet so powerful that without it, human productivity grinds to a halt.

On the individual level as well, we can see the demotivating effects of lack of money. Consider the stereotype of the unemployed man, nearly broke, slouched in front of the TV in his undershirt, drinking a beer, hardly able to rise from his chair. Money, it seems, animates people as well as machines. Without it we are dispirited.

In the Great Depression there was no money, in US banks were closed, because they were bust.

They created scrips, alternative currencies, across Europe and in the States. They were successful, incredibly successful. The reason they do not exist today is because they were too successful, the Central Banks closed them down.

In 1931, a German coal mine operator decided to open his closed mine by paying his workers in wara. It was backed by  coal.  Because it was backed by coal,  which everyone could use, local merchants and wholesalers were persuaded to accept it. The mining town flourished, and within the year at least a thousand stores across Germany were accepting wara, and banks began accepting wara-denominated deposits. Feeling threatened, the German government tried to have the wara declared illegal by the courts; when that failed, it simply banned it by emergency decree.

The following year, the depressed town of Wörgl, Austria, issued its own stamp scrip inspired by the success of the wara. The Wörgl currency was by all accounts a huge success. Roads were paved, bridges built, and back taxes were paid. The unemployment rate plummeted and the economy thrived, attracting the attention of nearby towns. Mayors and officials from all over the world began to visit Wörgl until, as in Germany, the central government abolished the Wörgl currency and the town slipped back into depression.

Another currency that emerged around this time was the Wir in Switzerland. The currency is issued by a cooperative bank and is backed only by the mutual agreement of its members to accept it for payment.

In the United States many “emergency currencies,” as they were called, were issued in the early 1930s. They appeared because the banks had gone bust.  Roosevelt banned all “emergency currencies” by executive decree when he launched the New Deal. The reason he did this was not because the local and state currencies wouldn’t be effective in ending the Depression, but because it would mean a loss of central government control.

The only alternative currency that still exist is the Wir in Switzerland. Alternative currencies did not vanish because they were not successful, on the contrary the were legislated out of existence because they were too successful, they challenged the power of the Central Bank, limited the ability of the Central Bank to control the amount of currency circulating in the economy.

Greece does not have the problem of the Central bank losing control, as it has no control.

This is the way forward in Greece, create alternative currencies.

There is no problem Central Bank not having control, as Greece has no control over the euro.

It was considered launching a new drachma, but the logistics were considered too great. But were they, if scrips were successfully issued during the Great Depression?  There would though have been a delay, and had Greece left the euro, the shock to the economy would have been too great.

But what of an alternative digital currency using smart phones?

It would have to meet the following criteria:

  • smartphone app
  • P2P
  • block chain
  • open source
  • secure
  • ease of use

The FairCoin wallet for Android would be a good starting point, as open source, it could be modified.

Each account could be loaded or pre-loaded with 1000 euro-equivalent (for small businesses 5000 euro-equivalent).

How to get the money into the account? It could be pre-loaded, or transferred by the Central Bank.

Uniqueness of each account, one account per person. Would need a unique ID. Maybe social security number or whatever Greeks use on passport or ID Card. Unique ID for local business? VAT registration number?

Need to create protocols, then implement as a smartphone app. This work already done if use or modify FairCoin wallet.

In the interim FairCoin could be used, download and install the FairCoin wallet. But where would the money come from, unless the Central Bank bought FairCoin, but where would the Central Bank acquire the money from?

Having Greek alternative digital currency, the Central Bank can create. Government and local government can pay in part in the alternative digital currency salaries.

Local currencies could be created, and according to Paul Mason, these already exist.

The European Central bank is proposing Quantitative Easing of one trillion euros.

We know from the UK, Quantitative Easing to be a failed policy, it has little impact on the real economy, the only impact is to transfer money to the rich and inflate the already obscene bonuses of bankers.

There could though be a role, were Quantitative Easing used to wipe out Greek debt, as recommneded by Ellen Brown. It could also be used to inject money into the Greek banks to solve the liquidity crisis.

None of which would invalidate the need for an alternative currency.

There is no means by which the debt will ever be repaid. Pretend and extend is a fiction. Remove the debt and Greece will be in budget surplus, or was before ECB turned off the cash flow.

The role of a Central Bank is to act as lender of last resort when banks have a liquidity problem. For Greece, the Central Bank is ECB. Far from acting as lender of last resort, ECB turned off the cash flow.

When a country has control over its own currency, it can devalue during an economic crisis. That option has not been open to Greece, instead we have seen a devaluing of its people through austerity.

Debt is being used as a mechanism to destroy the Greek economy and to enslave the people.

There are other measures that need to be brought in, for example tax transparency. The tax everyone pays should be published. This would go a long way to addressing tax evasion.

An alternative currency, creation of local currencies, is not itself sufficient nor should be seen as an end in itself. It should be implemented as part of a wider programme of advancing the commons, creating open co-ops,  part of  Plan C as advocated by P2P Foundation.

Tommy Sheppard

July 27, 2015

Tommy Sheppard is SNP MP for Edinburgh East.

SNP in Scotland, Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain, Mayor of Barcelona, Mayor of Madrid, Flatpack Democracy in Frome.

Anti-austerity, activists, working with the people.

In Scotland it has gone beyond independence. It is how do we devolve power, how do we organise our own affairs?

SNP and Caroline Lucas, the only opposition in the House of Commons

Labour? Labour pro-austerity, supported Tory Welfare Bill.

Jeremy Corbyn Labour Leader?

Mhairi Black: Baby of the House

July 27, 2015

I am the only 20 year old in the UK that the Chancellor is prepared to help with housing. — Mhairi Black

At 20 years of age, Mhairi Black is the youngest member of the House of Commons.

She was elected, overturning a 16,000 majority and ousted the veteran Labour Member of Parliament Douglas Alexander to win Paisley and Renfrewshire South for the SNP.

She was a politics student, and had yet to take her finals.

In attacking austerity and the Conservative Budget, she noted she was the only 20-year-old in the whole of the UK who the Chancellor was prepared to help with housing support. She receives expenses as a Member of Parliament to pay for her housing costs.

Her maiden speech has been widely viewed on-line, and has led to invitations to speak flooding in from across the world.

She has widely criticised how Parliament functions. In this she is not alone. Caroline Lucas has documented in Honourable Friends? the need for reform.

Santions issued by bastards in Job Centres, often on a whim, are destroying lives, driving Job Seekers to suicide, and one of the main causes of demand for food banks.

Maybe time Job Centres were occupied, the bastards who work their named and shamed.

Anyone who is sanctioned, should Appeal, if do not know how, seek help.

The one thing the Scottish Indy Referendum did, was to engage and radicalises people, whether yes or no, meetings everywhere.

Once the genie is out of the bottle, it cannot be put back in.

SNP wiping Labour off the face of Scotland, had nothing to do with nationalism, it was that Labour no longer represented anyone.

We see that today, when Labour abstains on the Welfare Bill. £12 billion to be taken from the poorest people in society. Labour abstained, but 48 Labour MPs, included 18 newly elected, had the decency and integrity to vote against.

It is easy to see why Jeremy Corbyn is speaking to packed meetings.


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