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Change IS coming. WE can make it GOOD.

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YES! Magazine Highlights 28 November, 2014

The best stories of the week from YES! Magazine: Powerful Ideas, Practical Actions

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Police Violence Is Not Inevitable: Four Ways a California Police Chief Connected Cops With Communities

“A critical look at any institution with as much power and authority invested in it as the police is probably a good thing.” READ MORE »

Chris Magnus in Richmond.
Mentally Ill People Often Face Violence From Police—But These Cities Are Trying to Fix That

Crisis Intervention Teams train police officers to understand mental illness without resorting to violence. READ MORE »

Seattle protesters with hands raised yelling "Hands up! Don't shoot!" “I’m Scared to Be a Black Male Walking Down the Street”: Seattle Teens on Why They Skipped School for a #Ferguson March

“We all just left class. As soon as 11:00 came, we stood up and walked out of class. Together as one.” READ MORE »

Photo by Sarah-Ji #Ferguson Thanksgiving: A Former Slave Proposed the Holiday 55 Years Before Lincoln. Why His Version Matters Today

“For some, racial inequality and fear are raw realities every day, and anything inspiring in American history rings false and remote. For others, the call to reflect on injustice feels like a personal accusation. But we are caught in this history together.” READ MORE »

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Angry cook by Shutterstock. Why It’s OK to Be Angry on Thanksgiving

Quite often it is our darker side that illuminates the best part of us, that brings us to where we need to be. READ MORE »

Half-mile meal by Andy King Photo Essay: At a Half-Mile-Long Table, Chefs, Farmers, and Volunteers Feed a Neighborhood for Free

In St. Paul, Minnesota, artist Seitu Jones wanted to start a community-wide conversation about food access and food justice—and where better to talk than over a good meal? READ MORE »

Palestinian prison library. Undercover University: Palestinians Study Up in Israeli Prisons

More than 40 percent of Palestinian males have spent time in Israeli prisons. The schools that operate within are increasingly important. READ MORE »

Activists, union members, and Detroit residents protest the water shutoffs in Detroit. When the City Turned Off Their Water, Detroit Residents and Groups Delivered Help

Grassroots action has backed down the city’s aggressive water shutoffs. READ MORE »




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Bernie Sanders Shatters The Big Keystone XL Lie: Pipeline Will Cause US Gas Prices To Go Up


Sen. Bernie Sanders is telling the American people what the supporters of Keystone XL don’t want them to hear. The pipeline won’t create jobs, but it will cause the price of gas to increase in the United States.



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The Hidden Real Reason for the Bombing and Invasion of Gaza

I just received this from a friend. I’m not surprised by the kidnappers/murderers NOT being Palestinian, nor by the natural gas being the cause of violence against indigenous people-we see this constantly in North, Central and South America.

I just hope those who ARE surprised will do the research to become more aware and then ACT on that awareness.

Violence and racism against indigenous peoples from Africa to the Americas to Ukraine, Palestine, Iraq, Australia(East Timor!) and Tibet has ALWAYS been rooted in this greed for resources.

Please keep the people in all of these myriad conflicts and violence in your prayers. Greed may arise endlessly in the colonized, but Love and prayer have power far beyond the small power of violence and murder.



“On July 7, 2014 Israel began
a massive assault on the Gaza
strip of Palestine. In the first
week alone Israel dropped over
400 tons of bombs, killing over
130 Palestinians. Most were
civilians, about half of them were
women and children. By the time
you are watching the the number
will be higher.

“Israel’s official justification for
this wholesale slaughter: the
murder of three Israeli teenagers
which Israel blames on Hamas.
That’s not the real reason. First of
all, Israel has not produced one
single piece of evidence implicating
Hamas or even a Palestinian in the
murders, and in fact the the
evidence we do have indicates that
that murderers were Israeli. You
see on Tuesday July 1st, The
Jerusalem Post released the audio
of the kidnapped teen’s distress call
to police, and in that call the
kidnappers can be heard telling the
boys to put their heads down in
HEBREW. According to the Jerusalem
Post, prior to being leaked to the
public this audio was being held
under a gag order by the Israeli

“So why is Israel really attacking
Gaza? It’s not about self defense
and it’s obviously not about
avenging those three teenagers.
Those are just cover stories for
the naive. What this is really
about is natural gas.

“It turns out that Gaza has quite
a bit of natural gas on its coastline.
One of the largest sources in the
region. British Gas, which holds a
joint exploration agreement for the
area estimates that the fields hold
at least 1 trillion cubic feet of gas.
That gas belongs to the Palestinian
people and they should be the ones
to benefit from it. Israel disagrees.

“After the death of Yasser Arafat,
under questionable circumstances,
Israel has controlled those fields,
and British Gas has negotiated with
Tel Aviv.

“With power divided between the
Palestinian Authority and Hamas,
the Palestinians have been too
weak to put up any meaningful,
resistance and Israel would like to
keep it that way. The Unity
Government between Hamas and
the Palestinian Authority threatens
Israel’s control of those fields, and
as such it has to be destroyed.

“It’s pretty basic really. These are
the real motives of all wars:
resources, territory and power.
They’ll always come up with an
excuse, and it’s easy to fall for them
if you don’t do your research, but
there’s also a really easy way
to avoid getting duped: always
stand against wars of aggression.
Period. Make it a matter of
principle, and the facts and
morality will always end up

being on your side.

“And speaking of morality,
even if those teenagers had
been killed by Hamas, what
kind of psychopath thinks that
this gives Israel the right to
go and kill over a hundred
people who had nothing to do
with it? We’re talking about
little kids here.

“I’m not going to show you the
pictures of the dead or dying
children here in this video, but
I have looked at them, and as a

father it’s almost unbearable to

If hearing about those bombs falling
doesn’t phase you emotionally, if
this is just a political debate for you,
then go look at the pictures (these
for example). You have no right to
defend what Israel is doing, if you
don’t have the courage to even
glance at the consequences.

“And anyone who would
justify these crimes after
seeing the civilian casualties
should be ashamed of

“The bombing heavily
populated residential areas
is a war crime, and the US
government is funding it
with your tax dollars. That’s
right. Israel receives over 3
billion dollars in foreign aid
from the US each year.

“Of course it’s no accident that
you’ve never had face what’s
being done to the Palestinian’s
in your name. If you turn on the
mainstream media at any point
during this crisis all you’ll see is
constant stream of reports
focusing on the Palestinian
rockets being fired in response.
These reports conveniently fail
to mention that as of yet these
primitive rockets have not killed
one single Israeli.

“The Obama administration is
also running with this artificial

“But the rockets, the rockets!
Let’s all bring this back to the
puny homemade rockets that
the Palestinians are launching
out of desperation and frame
this as a question of Israel’s

Video (under 10 minutes):

The Gaza Bombardment: What You’re Not Being Told


– Alexandra

P.S. Please share Forbidden Knowledge TV e-mails
and videos with your friends and colleagues.

That’s how we grow. Thanks.

Alexandra Bruce
Publisher, ForbiddenKnowledgeTV.com
Daily Videos from the Edges of Science

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Permaculture Poised to Conquer the Caribbean (With Thanks to Laura at IndyInfo! )

Published on Friday, May 23, 2014 byInter Press Service

Permaculture Poised to Conquer the Caribbean

No fertilisers, herbicides, or pesticides but a bold vision to save a region from climate change and resource scarcity

by Mark Olalde

Erle Rahaman-Noronha cutting produce on his farm. (Credit: Mark Olalde/IPS)FREEPORT, Trinidad and Tobago – Erle Rahaman-Noronha is not a revolutionary, not in any radical sense at least. He is not even that exciting. In truth, Rahaman-Noronha is merely a man with a shovel, a small farm, and a big dream. But that dream is poised to conquer the Caribbean.

Rahaman-Noronha wants to see ‘permaculture’ – short for permanent agriculture – take root and spreads across the Caribbean, and he is doing his part by teaching anyone who will listen about its benefits.

Joining him is a fluid group of permaculturalists working from their home islands and sharing the same goal: to harness permaculture as a solution to climate change, food and water insecurity, and rising costs of living.

“You can start in your backyard, so there’s no cost. You can implement certain parts of it in your apartment…If you have a porch with some sunlight, you can plant something there and start thinking about permaculture.”

— Erle Rahaman-Noronha, permaculturalist

Author of the manual, Australian Bill Mollison, first used the term nearly four decades ago and since then the idea has spread to Europe and the U.S. Now, the developing Caribbean is beginning to embrace the philosophy of permaculture, especially since 2008’s global recession.

Born in Kenya, Rahaman-Noronha – whose work was recently highlighted in a TEDx talk – fulfilled a keen interest in the environment by studying applied biochemstry and zoology in Canada.

“I’ve always had a strong passion for the outdoors and conservation, but just doing conservation doesn’t make money,” he says with a chuckle. “Permaculture allows me to live on a site, produce food on a site, produce an income, as well as practice conservation.”

Wa Samaki is Rahaman-Noronha’s permaculture farm, and it has been his workplace, classroom, grocery store, and home since he relocated to Trinidad in 1998. Meaning “of the fish” in Swahili, Wa Samaki covers 30 acres in Freeport in central Trinidad.

Although he uses no fertilisers, herbicides, or pesticides, Rahaman-Noronha is able to make a living off the farm’s fruit, flower, lumber, and fish sales. His newest addition is a large aquaponics system, a closed loop food production system in which fish tanks and potted plants circulate water and sustain one another.

With his partner John Stollmeyer, Rahaman-Noronha works to spread awareness of permaculture across the Caribbean, home to nearly 40 million people who are particularly susceptible to climate change.

The pair consults Trinidadian businesses, teaches permaculture design courses (PDCs), and holds workshops everywhere from Puerto Rico to St. Lucia. “How are we going to create sustainable human culture?” Stollmeyer asks. “Discovering permaculture for me was a wake up call.”

Where environmentalism meets savvy economics

The need for conservation is in no small part a result of climate change, especially when the Hurricane Belt covers nearly all of the Caribbean.

Trinidad and Tobago continues to compound the issue as both a major exporter and consumer of fossil fuels. The country produced more than 119,000 barrels of oil per day in 2012 and 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that same year, all the while boasting the second highest rate of CO2emissions per capita in the world, more than twice that of the United States.

United Nations data dating back to 2005, the last time such statistics were compiled, indicates that industrialised agriculture accounts for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In this environment, Rahaman-Noronha’s goal is to become an incubator of conservation start-ups that cannot secure necessary bank loans. Currently, he houses beekeepers and a wildlife rescue center on the farm for minimal rent, and he hopes that list will grow.

One such entrepreneurial mind that passed through Wa Samaki was Berber van Beek, a native of Curaçao who recently moved home after years of wandering the world. Before returning to the Caribbean, she practiced permaculture across Europe and Australia, but when van Beek wanted to develop her skills in a tropical climate, she came to Rahaman-Noronha.

“He gave me a lot of freedom on his farm to make and create a design,” van Beek says, describing a garden of banana trees she planted at Wa Samaki.

In Curaçao, van Beek uses permaculture as more than simply a food source. She realises its social potential and is working to start after-school programmes for at-risk youth who can learn useful gardening skills and the responsibility and respect for nature that come with caring for their own gardens.

In addition, she is soon opening her first large-scale organic gardening class, closely resembling a PDC.

Such initiatives are urgently needed in Curaçao, which is facing a stagnant economy and is currently nursing a youth unemployment rate of 37 percent.

According to van Beek, shifting global climates and markets have major effects on her own island in which nearly everything must be imported. “If you go to the supermarket, look where your food is coming from. Is it coming from Venezuela or is it coming from the U.S. or is it coming from Europe?” she says. “People could be more aware of what to buy and what not to buy.”

The problem, experts say, is regional. According to the Food Export Association of the Midwest USA – a group of nonprofits focusing on agricultural issues – around 80 percent of food consumed in the Caribbean is imported.

The beauty and purpose of permaculture is that it is a system of solutions that can be practiced at any level to combat environmental issues.

“You can start in your backyard, so there’s no cost. You can implement certain parts of it in your apartment if you really need to,” Rahaman-Noronha explains. “If you have a porch with some sunlight, you can plant something there and start thinking about permaculture.”

Naturally, van Beek took his message to heart, keeping a perfectly groomed permaculture garden in her own tiny backyard, using dead leaves as fertiliser and recycled rain and shower-water to sustain the plants.

“Seeing is believing,” she says. It’s her own quiet mantra, spoken when she describes her approach to spreading permaculture, and vocalised when she needs the energy to keep pressing on and to convince others that this is the right path.

Rahaman-Noronha, too, has worked to convert non-believers. From schools who tour the wildlife center and his farm to the several thousand people who watched his TEDx talk online, he is adamant that he has traded in misconceptions for progress.

“I think [the reason] I don’t get challenged…is that I’m not just preaching permaculture,” he says. “I’m actually practicing it.”

© 2014 IPS North America

Permaculture Poised to Conquer the Caribbean | Common Dreams.

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Guerrilla gardening, Freecycle and swap till you drop: how to live for free | Money | The Guardian

Guerrilla gardening, Freecycle and swap till you drop: how to live for free

Generation Y struggles for cash – but there are lots of ways to save money. From urban foraging to canoeing to work, here’s how to wring the most out of the free economy

Kayaking to workKayaking to work

Eleanor Ross

Monday 17 March 2014 14.32 EDT

It’s 8am on a Saturday morning, and four men are digging in the local park. One furtively scans his surroundings, while another jams his spade through the hard soil. A third sprinkles something over the ground, and the rest fill in the hole quickly, leaving a mound of freshly turned earth. These men are not attempting to dispose of a dead body. They belong to a guerrilla gardening group and they’re trying to plant enough herbs to last the community through the summer.

Nearly 18% of all 18- to 24-year-olds are out of work, and last year saw 3.3 million 20- to 34-year-olds move back in with mum and dad, according to Office of National Statistics (ONS). Some 20% of working 16- to 25-year-olds are also suffering from underemployment – working fewer hours than they would like. It’s difficult to thrive as a young person when real wages are falling 2% year on year, and you’re sharing your kitchen with your dad and the family dog.

But some are trying to make the most of a bad situation. With spare time comes greater opportunity for imaginative resource gathering – guerrilla gardening, for example. Professor Fleura Bardhi, from Cass Business School, believes that a growing number of people are being attracted to the “sharing economy”. Global consumption trends are changing, and “gift exchange” – sharing food, accommodation and transport – is a way to live more economically.

As young people struggle to survive, let alone save, the numbers following a freegan (freegan.info) way of life are also on the rise. Everyone wants to save a buck or two, and freeganism encourages its followers to fight against excessive consumerism and food wastage by reclaiming food that’s been discarded: cue dumpster diving and foraging.

Here are some ways to make the most of the free economy, live life to the full, and still have a little change to spare.


Guerrilla gardening

Veggies growing up walls and down drains? Following the belief that anywhere can be utilised and beautified, guerrilla gardeners plant wherever greenery could be sustained, whether that’s on a roof or a roundabout. Richard Reynoldsbegan his blog in 2004 as a way of recording his planting activity around London. Reynolds thinks that gardening in this way is “immensely sustainable, as long as the gardener is committed and the landowner quietly tolerates it”.

The market town of Todmorden, west Yorkshire has become well known for its guerrilla gardening: Incredible Edible Todmorden plants edibles around town on grass verges and in the grounds of the local fire station. Best of all, anyone can pick the herbs they grow, making guerrilla gardening as much about community as it is about a tasty garnish.


There’s currently a debate raging about whether skip-diving, or swiping what the supermarket considers to be out of date, clashes with the law. Technically, “dumpster diving” isn’t illegal, but divers can be pulled up for trespassing on private property, so keep an eye out for loitering security guards. Take a peek at the Frugal Freegan’s videos on YouTube for some freeganspiration.


Go to a high-end restaurant and you’ll notice that foraging is very “now”. But not all foragers are Michelin-starred chefs, nor do they all live near samphire-rich estuaries. In Sheffield, locals keen to forage fruits have set up a project called Abundance. Fruit is picked from private growers with a surplus of, say, plums (with the permission of the owner) and is then distributed to those who need and want the fruit. Similar Abundance projects can be found UK-wide, including in Nottingham and Birmingham. Walking around Elephant and Castle, an inner-city area in London better known for its 1960s tower blocks than parkland, I didn’t find any fruit, but I did locate some wild garlic, nettles (great for tea and soup) and grass. Clearly I’d have had more luck if I’d gone foraging with Penelope Greenhough, founder of Pickling Peckham: the urban forager’s guide. She reckons that “in season it’s possible to survive on basics [like rice or pasta] supplemented with foraging”.

Ask market traders

Vendors are often left with a surplus of food at the end of a day’s trading, and, like anybody who respects food, are often loth to throw it away. It’s best not to just take, though; market stall holders are keeping the community buzzing and need to earn a living, too. That said, popping along at the end of a trading day can result in an excellent assortment of produce. On a recent trip around south-east London’s greengrocers, I collected spaghetti, lettuces, soft, fragrant tomatoes and plump avocados, just approaching ripeness.


Away from the city, adding meat to a freegan diet is possible – if you get permission from a landowner first. Phillipa Meek from County Durham followed a freegan lifestyle for nearly eight months, and, after seeking permission from a nearby farmer, hunted for rabbits and grew food in her back garden. It’s legal to hunt rabbits and rats under UK law, but how much pleasure you’ll get from a rat risotto is debatable. Check outbertc.com/subfive/recipes/cookingrats.htm for some classic rodent recipes.

Allotments Long waiting lists … allotments. Photograph: Sophia Evans for the Guardian

Rent an allotment

City dwellers with green fingers who lack garden space could consider signing up for an allotment to seed their own salad. While there are often long waiting lists for allotments, they’re normally relatively inexpensive: researchers at the University of Leicester estimatedthat the average annual rent is around 15p per square metre. Check out Allotment Garden for tips on what to do with your new patch of earth.

Go to temple

If the thought of skinning rabbits and combing the hedgerows for edible mushrooms all seems a bit too Good Life, then there are other options. Churches, mosques and temples all run soup kitchens to help the truly needy, but Rajinder Singh Bhasin, the president of theCentral Gurdwara Temple in west London, says that it is the Sikh tradition to offer hot food to “all visitors without discrimination of sex or creed”. After evening congregation, his temple serves up to 170 free vegetarian hot meals, and on Sundays that number rises to 350.


Freecycle everything

If designer Gucci isn’t top of your wishlist, then clothing yourself for next to nothing isn’t as tricky as you might imagine. Clothes are more sharable and riper for “gift exchange” than other essential living items, which makes sourcing garments in the free economy easy. Sites like the Freecycle Network, a grassroots not-for profit organisation, and CraigsListoffer up white goods, furniture and clothing for no cost. The premise is simple: specify where you are and what you’re after, and chances are you’ll find someone giving it away. A quick search for “women’s clothes” came up with a “donator” just 800m away from my flat. Some adverts are vague – “bag of clothes”, “women’s coats” – and some specific – “eight pairs of cut-off size 8 Levis”. Free items, with stories behind them; what’s not to love?

Swap until you drop

For clothes lovers who want to try their luck, Mrs Bear’s Swap Shop lets you change your unwanted clothes for items others have brought in. This London-based swap shop makes sure that people get like for like, and only clean, wearable items can be swapped. There’s little chance you’ll bring in a cute pair of dungarees and walk away with waterproof fishing trousers – unless that’s what you’re after, of course. Founder Joanne Walters says: “My customers are experts in thrifty style – a lot of them say they don’t buy clothes any more, and are bored with the poor quality of mass production.” There are swap shops all across the UK from theSwansea Swap Shop to Swapz, an online market place that encourages people to exchange rather than bin their items.

Sewing Sewing … learn the basics first. Photograph: Alamy

Make do and mend

When I searched for “women’s clothes” on Freecycle, a huge number of adverts appeared for “bags of scrap material”. The bag I collected from an old lady in north London was bursting with trimmings from tasteful curtains and upholstery. For creative stitchers, it would have been a godsend, but if, like me, you’re more likely to stab yourself with a needle than create a Sound of Music eight-outfit masterpiece, it might be worth learning the basics first. Luckily you can do this for free. Sites like Skill Shareand Professor Pin Cushionprovide free lessons on how to tailor and work a sewing machine.


Low-cost central living

If you don’t fancy living in a squat but want some low-cost, city centre accommodation, take a look at Camelot Property Management. They offer a legal way to bed down in vacant properties – for a small price of course. Camelot advertises its services to property owners as a way to prevent “arson, squatting, vandalism and theft”. The renter is known as “live in, guardian security” but don’t worry – there’s no uniform or truncheon-wielding required. For properties in central locations, the costs are pretty low. A room in a former care home in Bristol starts at £30 a week including all bills, and, if you don’t mind resting your head in a former police station, rooms are available in London’s exclusive W1 postcode from £85 a week. This in an area where the average cost of a room in a flatshare is £260 per week.

One anonymous user of Camelot said that he saw “Camelot as being a sustainable, viable alternative for people who don’t mind not knowing when they are going to have to move”. According to Fiona Hanley, Camelot’s UK marketing manager, nearly half of the people using Camelot are between 25-35. “It’s mainly creative professionals, although we do get nurses and firefighters, too.”


If you want a roof over your head for absolutely no cost, then consider couchsurfing. The original couchsurfing websiteadvertises hosts and houses across the world. In Slovenia, I once stayed with two sisters who loaned me a kayak for the weekend and paddled alongside me, pointing out kingfishers and otters. All this in return for some stories of London life and a pot of vegetable soup I made later that evening. It can be quite feasible long-term in the UK, too. Kathleen Cassidy describes herself as “nomadic” and, as she is not paid for her community work, has spent the last six months living in friend’s spare rooms and on their couches, housesitting and couchsurfing. She rarely knows where she’s going to be living more than four weeks in advance and hasn’t spent longer than four weeks in one place, but says that it keeps her “survival instincts intact”.

When you don’t have an income, it can be hard to know what to offer to welcoming hosts. Cassidy thinks it’s important to repay in kind by contributing to the cooking and cleaning, but she warns that being nomadic isn’t for everybody. “It can feel like work because it’s another thing I’ve got to organise, but I love living with lots of different people. You’ve got to not care about having many possessions. As long as I’ve got essentials covered – food, shelter and social networks – then I’m OK.”


If you don’t have a particularly large (or generous) social network, then accommodation for free is still possible. Try websites such as Mind My Houseand Trusted House Sitters, which bring together house owners and sitters from across the world, providing a ready-made opportunity for nomadism.

Live off the grid

Living self-sufficiently or in a commune can work as a longer-term way to cut costs. Some communes, like Beech Hill Community in Devon, grow their own food and have come up with imaginative ways to generate electricity and dispose of waste. For more information on communal living in the UK,Diggers and Dreamers is a great resource and has lists of communes by region in the UK. Living off the grid with no electricity and no waste disposal is pretty tough to start with, but find an existing community to slot into and it’ll feel much easier – it’s estimated that 25,000 people in the UK follow this lifestyle.



Annual season tickets for trains rose an average of 2.8% this year so sharing a ride to work with a friend makes sense. Websites such as Lift Share and BlaBlaCarcan help to make the ride even cheaper by getting more people in the vehicle. A next-day, one-way trip to Glasgow from Manchester costs just £20 via BlaBlaCar; by train, this journey would cost nearly £70.

Running Swerve rising gym costs by running to work. Photograph: Corbis

Run, run, run

Council gym prices are said to have soared by £100 in the last 10 years. The answer is to run to work, according to Home Run London, whose slogan reads “Leave the Gym Behind”. Laura Price, a journalist from London, regularly runs to work: “I hate going on the tube at rush hour, and my 5km run gets me home even quicker.”

Scoot around town

Feed your inner child and save some bus money by investing in a micro-scooter. I had a go on a friend’s and crashed into a bollard, but not before I had been overtaken by a child. If, like me, you’re a little clumsy when it comes to small wheels, book yourself on to a scoot-safe course, but expect to be surrounded by minors whizzing about much more gracefully. Samuel Diserens, an analyst from Oxford, uses his scooter to dextrously navigate traffic jams: “it’s easier to control a scooter than a bike. Plus, when I need to hop on the bus I just fold it up and put it in my bag.”

Canoe to work

Yes, you read that right. Thanks to Britain’s industrial heritage, our cities are criss-crossed with rivers and canals, which makes using kayaks as an alternative form of transport a definite possibility. Katy Hogarth, director of Moo Canoes, hopes to make water-borne commuting in the capital more feasible for those who prefer to share their commute with carp and terrapins rather than blank stares and sweaty armpits.

Moo Canoes is also working on creating “access points” for people to secure their kayaks to, and Hogarth adds that “equipment is improving, with high-end collapsible kayaks hitting the market this summer”. However, she recommends starting with a club first as powerful tides on a river “shouldn’t be underestimated”.Kayaking London should be the first port of call to anybody considering kayaking as a feasible alternative to the London rat race, and Canoe England has a comprehensive list of clubs and opportunities in other areas.


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Interview: ‘The Tenge Follows The Ruble’

I am sharing this especially for everyone who is waiting for and discussing the global currency reval, dinar, dong etc.

This interview discusses some of the REASONS for a currency to have a certain value and for that value to change. These things apply to ALL international trading currencies.

So worth reading so you can look yourself at the global news and determine when and what is likely to happen without waiting for dubious “insiders” and well documented con men to string you along with fish tales.

Interview: ‘The Tenge Follows The Ruble’

February 12, 2014

An exchange-rate board in Almaty reflects the fall of the Kazakh tenge on February 11.

An exchange-rate board in Almaty reflects the fall of the Kazakh tenge on February 11.

The devaluation of Kazakhstan’s tenge comes close on the heels of the devaluation of another major regional currency, the ruble. Is there a connection? RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel spoke with Alex Nice, a Central Asia expert at the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit.

RFE/RL: Kazakhstan is the second economy in the former Soviet space to see its currency devalue in recent weeks. In January, the Russian ruble devalued by 10 percent against the dollar. On February 11, the Kazakh tenge fell by 19 percent against the dollar. Did the fall of the ruble put additional pressure on the tenge, which already was suffering from other factors that have weakened many emerging markets currencies in recent months?

RELATED: Kazakh Central Bank Devalues Currency

Alex Nice: What we have seen since January is a sharp fall in the value of a number of emerging-market currencies against the dollar, including the ruble, which is perhaps the most significant [factor] for most Kazakhs. But there were also a number of [other] factors that were pushing down on the currency since earlier in the year, including a fall in the value of oil prices, weak exports, and a rapid growth in imports….

In general the tenge tends to follow movements in the ruble. The last major devaluation in 2009 likewise followed a sharp fall in the value of the ruble. And the reason for that is partly that they have very similar economies, they are both major oil exporters, but also Russia is one of the main trade partners for Kazakhstan and one of the main consumers of [Kazakh] nonoil exports. Now, if the ruble falls, then the relative price of Kazakh goods in Russia rises, so there is this pressure to lower the value of the tenge in order to maintain some sort of price competitiveness.

Alex Nice

Alex Nice

RFE/RL: Qairat Kelimbetov, the chairman of the National Bank of Kazakhstan, has said that the government considers the new value of 185 tenges to the dollar to be the proper exchange rate for the currency. Can we expect the Kazakh central bank to hold the rate of the tenge at this level?

Nice: It is very hard to [predict] currency markets but they may have actually devalued [the tenge] slightly too far. It is interesting that the tenge lost 20 percent of its value [to the dollar] compared to, say, the ruble, which has lost 10 percent since January, and they have lower inflation in Kazakhstan. So, I wonder if they have given themselves some leeway perhaps for the currency even to strengthen slightly. But it depends on a number of factors. If the oil price were to weaken significantly over the year, then that would reduce the value of their exports and they may again find it hard to defend the tenge at that level.

RFE/RL: Is the devaluation of the tenge likely to stoke inflation in the Kazakh economy?

Nice: Consumer goods are to a large extent imported from abroad and the prices for all of those are going to shoot up markedly, which is going to push up inflation. Now, in the longer term, as Kazakhstan tries to diversify its economy, a weaker tenge will help domestic producers and perhaps encourage consumers in some areas to buy local produce. But that is a long-term project and in the short term we are going to see a spike in inflation and this is a real problem and I think it is going to cause quite a lot of anger amongst average Kazakh consumers.

RFE/RL: Other Central Asian countries are also closely tied to Russia, either as a trading partner or through remittances. Are we likely to see currency devaluations follow in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, both of whose economies are heavily dependent upon rubles sent back by migrant laborers working in Russia?

Nice: If we look at Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, they are countries with very large current account deficits; that is, they import a great deal more than they export, and they also are very much dependent upon remittances from Russia. Now, the fall in the value of the ruble means that the value of those remittances has gone down in dollar terms and as a result there is going to be downward pressure on the Kyrgyz and Tajik currencies.

RFE/RL: How about Uzbekistan. Any signs the som is also on the way to devaluation?

Nice: In the case of Uzbekistan, of course, you have got the official exchange rate and then the unofficial exchange rate, which is about 30 percent weaker already than the official rate. We have seen the Uzbek som weaken throughout the last year, and I think that is going to accelerate over the course of this year and the black-market rate likewise will weaken. Whether there will be this rapid devaluation [as in Kazakhstan] is hard to tell because in some ways [the government’s] currency and exchange-rate policy in Uzbekistan is very opaque.

RFE/RL: And what about Turkmenistan?

Nice: Turkmenistan, I imagine, will face some of the similar issues simply because, more generally, if we are talking about why emerging-market currencies are weakening, well, the end of quantitative easing in the United States, the U.S. Fed taper, and the fall in confidence in emerging markets, is having an impact on all these countries and I imagine also in Turkmenistan.