Massive IMF Bailouts are “Ponzi Austerity” Scheme

April 28, 2016

https://twitter.com/democracynow/status/725750944009474048

Yanis Varoufakis on Democracy Now discussing the fiscal waterboarding Greece was subjected to.

Greece dared challenge the EU dictatorship. For that Greece had to be punished.

The loans to Greece did not bail out Greece, they were bailouts for French and German banks. The money flowed into Greece, and straight back out again.

A Ponzi scam: Money flows in, the scheme appears to be growing, but it is not growing, it relies upon finding fresh investors to keep pouring in money to give the illusion it is growing. Indeed, the fund is shrinking because those running the scam are creaming off from the scam. Eventually the bubble bursts.

We are seeing the same Ponzi scams with high tech scams. The value of the company is entirely dependent upon finding fresh mugs to pour in money to inflate the value of the company. The intention being to flog off the company at its inflated price before the bubble bursts.

Ponzi austerity is a variant of pretend and extend. Keep lending money to an insolvent entity, in this case a country,  to enable it to pay off the existing loans. In the meantime, strings attached, in the trade known as conditionalities, to implement austerity. The economy shrinks, making it ever less likely to be able to repay the loans.

Lame duck President Obama, visited first UK, to try and intimidate the Brits to stay in the UK. It was then visit Germany to discuss forcing through TTIP that strips us of democratic accountability, handing control to global corporations, then on to Saudia Arabia to sell weapons to the corrupt House of Saud, which when the corrupt House of Saud falls, the weapons will be in the hands of ISIS.

IMF is wishing to trigger a crisis in Greece.

62% of the Greek people in a referendum last year said No to the EU. This was in spite of the intimidation they were subjected to (similar intimidation we are seeing in the UK to force Brits to vote Yes to the EU). The Greek people showed courage and voted No. They were betrayed by Syriza who capitulated to the EU.

Greece is now ruled by diktat from the EU. The government a puppet of the EU.

At the end of the Second World War, the Americans created the Bretton Woods system. Currencies in Europe were linked to the dollar, the dollar linked to gold. US, as the surplus country, recycled its surpluses through Europe.

J M Keynes wanted to create an international body to recycle the surpluses. The Americans vetoed this as it was their money that was being recycled.

This worked fine until 1971, when US flipped from being a surplus country to a deficit country.

US then decided as a deficit country, it would recycle the surpluses through Wall Street.

Not sustainable, finally crashed in 2008.

Another retailer pulls out of Aldershot

April 28, 2016
closing down sale

closing down sale

Yet another retailer, closing down sale, vote of no confidence in Aldershot and the crass policies pursued by the dysfunctional council.

The latest retailer to decide Aldershot has no future is the home furnishing store a little below the derelict M&S store.

Mango Bean next door is up for sale. Though their failure is self-inflicted,  the inability to serve a decent cup of coffee, and it was fairly obvious, once the money ran dry they would be closing. If opening a coffee shop, it does help to know something about coffee.

Since the beginning of the year, the streets of Aldershot have been deserted. Those on the streets have no money in their pockets, what they do have is courtesy of the state or pay day loans.

Look around, three pound shops, all empty. Maybe demand for one, but not three.

The likelihood of any major retailer moving into Aldershot is zilch. Even if they had free rent, they would still lose money.

What we are seeing is the result of decades of bad planning decisions, a council that has no understanding of what constitutes good town centre planning, of how local economies function, the need to recycle money within the local economy.

One and a half million was squandered repaving a couple of streets. Most of this was money poured down the drain.

A lorry bay was retrofitted after the street had been repaved at the back of Poundland. It is the width of a van. There is a failure to enforce parking restrictions.

The council has laid waste to Aldershot. When is it going to admit it got it wrong? When is the imbecile leader of the council going to do the decent thing, apologise and resign? When are local people going to say enough is enough?

Is the dysfunctional local council going to continue laying waste to Aldershot until there is nothing left?

Beginning of the month, the council withdraw funding to TechStart. They closed a couple of weeks ago. Funding has been reinstated for four months, but not before all the wiring had been stripped out. A major job to rewire, that  is why TechStart has not reopened. They should hopefully be open next week.

The Galleries in which TechStart is located is deserted. Instead of berating the developer for the fact it lies empty, we should view it as an opportunity.

Designate The Galleries as ReSpace, open up the units to social enterprises, business start-ups. They would pay no rent, in return, the developer would pay no business rates. The central space could be used for music, exhibitions, theatre, conferences.

The Alchemist: four hundred weeks in New York Times best-seller list

April 24, 2016
The Alchemist 400 weeks New York Times best-seller list

The Alchemist 400 weeks New York Times best-seller list

Congratulations Paulo Coelho, Sunday The Alchemist four hundred continuous weeks in New York Times best-seller list.

What a way to end April 2016.

Not bad for a book that was first published twenty seven years ago.

Good books spread by word of mouth. Only rubbish needs marketing hype.

Afternoon in Farnham

April 23, 2016
River Wey

River Wey

An unpleasant cold afternoon in Farnham.

Now possible to walk into Gostrey Meadow via the War Memorial. It is difficult to see how such a small area took three weeks, or even that work needed doing.

No soup in Krema, Barista Lounge and Downing Street Deli French onion soup. Yuk. Made do with cappuccino and a flapjack in Krema.

Sad to see the greengrocer in Downing Street closed. They closed last week after more than a century in business, A pity no one could be found to take it over the business.

The butcher is now selling a very limited range of fruit and vegetables. The deli also has fruit and vegetables but it is difficult to know if for sale or show.

Idiot parked a van in churchyard, outside church door. Blocking footpath, forcing people onto the grass. For the disabled or buggies, no access.

Church doors left wide open letting all the heat out.

The church must clampdown on the idiots who are abusing the church hospitality.

Waitrose must clampdown on the girl on their deli counter. Hair hanging down, pigtails hanging down. If Waitrose cannot resolve, then maybe an environmental health prosecution will help focus minds.

What to do with a dead shopping centre?

April 21, 2016
The Galleries

The Galleries

The Galleries

The Galleries

The Galleries

The Galleries

Aldershot is a dead town, boarded-up shops, charity shops, betting shops, fast food outlets. A very depressing place to visit. Which is why few do. The dead town centre the result of decades of bad planning decisions, a dysfunctional local council that has not a clue what constitutes good town centre planning, how local economies function.

In the midst of this desolation is an empty shopping centre, The Galleries. It could be the film set for a post-apocalyptic movie. The occasional zombie is even seen to walk through negating the need to hire extras, though could hire locals and ask them to be themselves, no acting required. The shopping centre has been derelict for years, is likely to be for the foreseeable future.

What to do with this empty space?

The local council claims to have plans for redevelopment.

This should set alarm bells ringing.

This is a local council that has:

  • got into bed with a developer and destroyed Farnborough town centre
  • got into bed with a developer and destroyed The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s
  • got into bed with a developer and destroyed Firgrove Green to erect an eysore Premier Inn
  • got into bed with a developer to construct Wastegate which has laid waste to Aldershot town centre

Hence the last thing we need is the council involved in redevelopment of this dead shopping centre.

The top down approach of the council, contempt for the views of the local community, has been an unmitigated disaster for Aldershot.

In is now time for an alternative approach, bottom up, the local community in charge.

First, as it has been empty for six months, the dead shopping centre should be designated as ReSpace. This opens the way for negotiations with the property developer for use by the local community, for social enterprises that contribute to the common good, irrigate the collaborate commons. These social enterprises would pay a peppercorn rent, the property developer no business rates.

There is already one social enterprise occupying the dead shopping centre, TechStart.

TechStart, run by volunteers, recycles computers, carries out repairs, provides training and help, a net café is available for walk in use.

TechStart last Saturday, closed, its funding had been pulled. Luckily, common sense has prevailed, and a four month extension of funding has been made available.

We now need to build on TechStart, open the dead shopping centre to other social enterprises.

The claim in the local rag that TechStart is ‘unviable’  is simply not true.

 

ReSpacing Conference at The Hive

April 21, 2016

skipping breakfast

skipping breakfast

I arrived half an hour later than I would have wished as I caught two buses from Waterloo, rather than one, but at least arrived, and alighted more or less at the correct bus stop on Kingsland Road in Dalston.

The Hive is an office block just over the canal.

I recognised where I was as the social enterprise café established by Russell Brand is nearby.

Initial impressions, a legalised squat, though they would probably object to my description.

Up a flight of stairs, then a vast open space, but arranged into smaller areas, a kitchen cum café  in one corner, a  little rooftop garden outside. There were upper floors, these I did not explore.

Everything I saw, the chairs the tables, the stage, all had been salvaged and put to use.

Although half an hour late, an hour later than start time, I was still one of the first.

Did I understand Skipping Breakfast? Yes, food from skips.

We are told to recycle. Do we? No.

We waste food, we waste materials, we waste space.

Derelict building are everywhere. The Hive was a derelict building. In Aldershot, a dead shopping centre, with TechStart occupying one large unit, but begging to be used.

The Hive approached a developer, and with reservations, he agreed to let them use. A very short lease, the volunteers provided everything, all of which was salvaged.

The developer Michael has been completely won over, he is now a big cheer leader for ReSpace, putting derelict buildings to use for the community.

What is ReSpace?

ReSpace is a planning designation that any local council or planning authority can use.

Any property that is empty for six months can be designated ReSpace. It is then open to local communities to use, pay a peppercorn rent, the developer pays no businesses rates.

Everyone benefits.

There is now a petition calling for ReSpace to be written into planning law. Everyone is urged to please sign.

We are losing community space. We are losing green space, pubs, libraries.

Who runs these reclaimed spaces?

Volunteers.

How de we found them?

We don’t, they appear.

Nomadic Community Gardens: Two people toiling away at derelict land, bringing back into use. They did not ask for volunteers, the community joined in.

This is what happened at The Hive.

It is not only materials and spaces we need to recycle, we also need to recycle people. Idle hands, idle minds, that can be put to use on behalf of the community.

The Hive is a not for profit. The space is for use by not for profit, even for profit, they have helped set up several business, but they have to contribute to the common good. In other words they have to contribute to the collaborative commons.

The next step, having demonstrated the feasibility of The Hive, not forgetting an enlightened developer who wishes to contribute to the local community and without who The Hive would not be possible, is to establish a network of Hives, Holistic Urban Regeneration in action.

In Revolution, Russell Brand talks of Greys, a town in Essex, boarded-up shops, an air of desolation. Paul Mason mentions a similar town in PostCapitalism. These towns are everywhere.

The question is how do we regenerate them? Top down does not work. It has to be bottom up, small businesses, social enterprises, open coops, collaborative commons, sharing economy.

Aldershot is one such dismal town. Decades of bad planning decisions, a dysfunctional council with no understanding of what constitutes good town centre planning, no understanding of how local economies function, the need to recycle money within the local economy.  The streets are deserted, the shops boarded up, homeless in the shop doorways, the few who are on the street, no money to spend.

In the midst of this deprivation lies a derelict shopping centre. It could be the set for a post-apocalypse movie. There is even the occasional zombie walking through, saving on the need for extras.

The question is, what to do with it? It has been derelict for years. It is likely to remain derelict for the foreseeable future.

The one ray of hope, TechStart opened two years ago. Run by volunteers, they recycle old computers, run a net café, carry out repairs, provide training.

Last Saturday, TechStart closed, their funding had been pulled. The good news is, an outbreak of commons sense, funding for four months. But they have to become self-sufficient.

The empty shopping centre, instead of being seen as a liability, should be seen as an opportunity to showcase that alternatives are possible, that we do not have to be drawn into the addiction  of consumerism.

Look what could be possible:

  • TechStart
  • social enterprise café
  • repair shop
  • tool swap
  • credit union
  • start-ups
  • conferences
  • exhibitions

All it requires is vision.

Replicate across the country, make a difference.

What uses can that derelict building in your community be put to?

Does the local council maintain a list of derelict buildings, is it made public, are they designating as ReSpace?

For the developer, nothing worse than a derelict building, it soon falls into disrepair, becomes vandalised. Added to which the cost of securing the building. Occupation, put to community use, is better than sitting empty.

At the very least there has to be an exploration of what the The Hive in Dalston are doing. Hive started with just £250.

As a showcase building, The Hive in Dalston has demonstrated the feasibility of such a model and in only nine  months has seen over 4000 people, held 17 art exhibitions, numerous performance, environmental, political and cultural events and helped about 50 local charities. Has enabled people to start businesses and even had a skate park. This has all been achieved using a system that is self-sustaining and utilises volunteers, donations, up-cycling, recycling and sharing.

Local councils are almost an irrelevance. If they wish to work with the local community fine, if not bypass and work directly with a property developer.

The Hive are fortunate in not only having an enlightened local council, but also an enlightened property developer, who wishes to work with the local community, put something back into the local community.

Where else other than The Hive would you find activists praising a property developer, and vice a versa the property developer heaping praise on the activists?

Discussion of the London Mayoral Hustings to be held at The Hive the following day. Questions people wished to put. What are they going to do to resolve growing homelessness, we cannot sweep under the carpet or push into neighbouring boroughs. Air pollution, expansion of Heathrow and Gatwick. Encouragement of growing food locally cf Dig for Victory during WWII.

A handful of groups were invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts. The ideas in themselves not that interesting. What was of more interest, was the advice given and the constructive criticism that followed. One important piece of advice, have a property lawyer with you to help negotiate and draw up a contract.

The Hive held their ReSpacing Conference on Wednesday 20 April 2016. A second day will be for London Mayoral Hustings.

The Hive is reclaimed space.

The Hive is community space.

The Hive is Holistic Urban Regeneration.

Reposted in Light on a Dark Mountain.

Soup at Wild Food Cafe

April 20, 2016
Wild Food Cafe

Wild Food Cafe

Turkish lentil soup

Turkish lentil soup

The only reason I was here, Home Slice was busy and I had an hour to kill.

On walking in, very noisy, oppressively so.

All the tables were taken. I was invited to take a bar stool, sit at a shelf overlooking the kitchen.

When taking the order, neither I nor the person standing in the kitchen, could hear each other, such was the level of oppressive noise.

Turkish lentil soup, tasty, generous portion size, but like everything else on the menu, expensive and overpriced.

When paying over a fiver for a bowl of soup, expect at least the bread to be free.  But no.

Did I want bread. No.

I then changed my mind, and ordered what I thought was seeded bread. No, what appeared was a minuscule portion of seeds, somehow glued together, not much bigger than a 50p piece.

staff fare

staff fare

One of the staff came and sat with me. I asked what she was eating. She explained, adding, it was not on the menu. Staff apparently get a far better deal. It looked marginally better than what I saw being served from the kitchen.

Pretentious, noisy and overpriced, Wild Food Cafe very poor compared with Food for Thought, which is sadly no more, closed down last year, much loved and much missed, driven out of business by a greedy grasping landlord driving up the rent to unaffordable levels.

I then departed for Home Slice where I knew I would get an excellent pizza.

Wild Food Cafe is located in Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden.

Pizza at Home Slice

April 20, 2016
Camden Hells Lager

Camden Hells Lager

mushroom, ricotta, pumpkin seed and chilli pizza slice

mushroom, ricotta, pumpkin seed and chilli pizza slice

I arrived around eight. Could I please pop back in an hour, my name noted down.

A freezing cold evening.

I popped in Wild Food Cafe next door. Pretentious and overpriced.

Returning, still a long wait.

Two, maybe three groups of people, escorted to a table before me.

The service is appalling.

Not the fault of the staff. Home Slice is too popular, they cannot cope with the demand. An enviable position many restaurants would love to be.

Were it not for the food being excellent, and I being cold and hungry, nothing since breakfast, I would have walked out.

I am finally shown to a table.

I  order a slice of mushroom pizza. Although tasty, not hot. Obviously been lying around.

Hungry, I order a second slice.

To drink, lager from a local brewery in Camden. This too is excellent.

Home Slice is located in Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden.

Curio Cabal

April 20, 2016
cappuccino

cappuccino

An excellent little coffee shop.

Pleasant ambience both inside and the outside seating area.

An excellent cappuccino.

I thanked the barista. In part his skill, also the quality of the beans they are sourcing from Square Mile Coffee Roaster, a local coffee roaster just down the road.

The beans are on sale.

Curio Cabal, a strange name, and no, I did not ask.

Located by The Hive in Dalston, on Kingsland Road, close by the canal.

Ignore the bad reviews on TripAdvisor. I had no problems with staff, service or the coffee.

Staff were pleasant. Yes, several minutes before my cappuccino arrived, they were serving folk sat outside. And it was worth the wait, as when my cappuccino arrived, it was excellent.

Day in London

April 20, 2016
Dalston Regent's Canal

Dalston Regent’s Canal

Lovely and sunny, but cold.

Train to Waterloo, overcrowded, standing room only. Why only five coaches, why not ten?

No 243 bus to Dalston, only I could not see a 243. Hopped on I think 76 or maybe it was 26. It went to Liverpool Street Station. I then saw I had gone to the wrong  bus stop. Why did the driver not tell me?

It took as long to reach Liverpool Street by bus, as train journey into London. One continuous traffic jam.

No 242 to Dalston not a lot better.

I find The Hive, where I was due for a conference. Although I was late, I was one of the first there.

Food laid on for breakfast, raided from skips.

ReSpacing Conference all day.

We are told to recycle. Do we? No. Food is wasted, materials are wasted, even space is wasted, derelict building dot the landscape, green space is destroyed by developers, aided and abetted by corrupt councils.

On my way in, I had noticed what was maybe a coffee bar. Not sure, as it said coffee, then I thought maybe not, outside seating for a pub.

I checked during a break, saw it was a coffee bar, Curio Cabal, popped back later and had a coffee. It was excellent.

Conference was due finish at 5-30. It overran until sometime past six, I did not leave until gone seven.  A very interesting conversation with an enlightened property developer.

By now very cold.

No 243, I saw, did indeed go to Waterloo.

But now I wished for Covent Garden.

No 243 skirted Covent Garden. I alighted at Holborn and walked.  Had I waited for 242, it would have taken me more or less where I wished to be in Covent Garden.

Pizza at Home Slice, only Home Slice packed.

I had soupe at Wild Food Cafe. Expensive and very noisy.

Back to Home Slice, still a long wait.

Train from Waterloo, gone ten, and yet packed, standing room only.


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