Is the end of the Euro nigh?

Deutsche Bank forecasts crash of the Euro for 2017

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

According to predictions by the Deutsche Bank the Euro is headed for the abyss and it is headed for it at a rate of knots. They predict that the demise of the is about imminent and state that the Euro zone is headed for the largest capital flight in history and estimate that the value of the Euro until the year 2017 will fall to below that of one US Dollar.

euroAfter already Goldman Sachs, the leading American investment bank, declared the true and fair value of the Euro to be one Dollar or less the Deutsche Bank is following suit in that analysis. According to prognoses by Deutsche Bank the Euro will only be worth 95 US-Cents by 2017, which would mean a catastrophe for Europe and the Euro.

A fall to 95 US-Cent would mean a devaluing of the Euro by 25%. With this estimate the Deutsche Bank stands, however, almost alone as almost no other bank seems to see it in the same way. However, as the Deutsche Bank is the world's second largest dealer in foreign currencies this estimate should be taken seriously and into consideration.

Currency expert George Saravelos justifies this with the largest flight of capital the Europe will be facing in the near future. The continuing stagnation in Europe – even the possibility of another recession in the Euro zone – which is being likened to the lost decades of Japan, together with low rates of growth (as said, another recession may be in the offing even) and very low rates of interest will lead to investors no longer seeing any return for their investments in Europe and thus will move their money in droves to other places. This would seriously weaken the European common currency.

Saravelos said that the proof for his thesis of the Euro problems are in the economic data. The currency union produces record export surpluses while at the same time the unemployment rate remains at a record high.

This is referred to as an economic paradox. The export surpluses are estimated to be soon over 400 Billion Euro per annum and thus will be higher than those of China even. This surplus is, however, not, as it would be common, transferred into local currency in order to pay workers there. The European Central Bank (ECB) creates artificially low interest rates and negative deposit rates and levies penalty interest on the money that is “stored” in banks and shown on the balance sheets the investments of which are over 500 Billion Euro so that investors have no other option but to move their money abroad.

The British Barclays Banks sees the situation equally gloomy as does the Deutsche Bank and also the US bank Morgan Stanley.

Already in October 2014 the Euro crashed from its then value of $ 1.40 to the current level of $ 1.26.

A further devaluation of the Euro of the magnitude predicted and estimated by the Deutsche Bank and others will see the Euro zone hitting rock bottom and as no local, as in sovereign national currencies, exist anymore in the Euro zone countries those cannot even jump into the gap to bridge things.

This could lead to a new Great Depression rather than just a Great Recession in the Euro zone and to a collapse of the economy – at least of those parts of industry and commerce dependent on export – with serious consequences. The 1920s in Germany will look benign in comparison to what may be headed Europe's way should the predictions of Deutsche Bank be to some degree correct.

© 2014

A Calendar/Mandala Celebrating Natural Cycles

Natural cycles are circular, so why are calendars not? Robert Alcock explains why he has created a free to download and print, circular calendar/mandala for everyone to use!

ALC-CAL15.jpgEver since I can remember, my internal picture of the year has been a circle - with summer opposite winter, spring opposite autumn. This makes perfect sense if you consider that, after all, a circle is the shape of the Earth's orbit around the sun.

The view of time as a cycle has been around for millennia - examples include the Celtic wheel of the year, the Mayan calendar, the Taoist yin-yang symbol and the Dharma wheel in Buddhism. But modern cosmology views time as an arrow, not a cycle: a endless onward progression with no turning back. Our calendars reflect this view, presenting time as an infinite sequence of rectangular boxes, reminiscent of the boxes (like houses, rooms, and cars) in which many of us spend our lives.

But for anyone who values our connection with the natural cycles of earth, sun and moon, it makes far more sense to depict the year as a circle. If you think about it, it's rather surprising that so few calendars represent the year in its natural shape.

Since I couldn't find any round calendar designs that I liked, eventually I decided to go ahead and make my own. This design has been evolving for about three years, and I'm fairly happy with it, but it isn't meant to be definitive. I'm offering it on the web for free in the hope that others will pick up the idea and run with it.

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Hives for Pollination and Conservation

WM2013-8-4 041 (2)When most people think of bee keeping, jars of glistening honey come to mind. And while there’s no argument that honey is perhaps one of the sweetest and immediate rewards of bee keeping, it should be considered that bees and other pollinators provide benefits on such a larger scale. It’s important to support pollinators of all kinds and we can do this by providing a variety of housing to not only Honey Bees but other species of pollinators as well.

Here are some interesting facts about pollinators provided by The NAPPC (North American Polinator Protection Campaign) and the Pollinator Partnership.

“Why does pollination matter to us?
• Worldwide, roughly 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated by animals in order to produce the goods on which we depend.
• Foods and beverages produced with the help of pollinators include: apples, blueberries, chocolate, coffee, melons, peaches, potatoes, pumpkins, vanilla, almonds, and tequila.
• In the United States, pollination by honey bees, native bees, and other insects produces $40 billion worth of products annually.

Are pollinators in trouble?
• Worldwide there is disturbing evidence that pollinating animals have suffered from loss of habitat, chemical misuse, introduced and invasive plan and animal species, and diseases and parasites.
• Many pollinators are federally “listed species,” meaning that there is evidence of their disappearance in natural areas.
• The U.S. has lost over 50% of its managed honeybee colonies over the past 10 years.
• A lack of research has hindered our knowledge about the status of pollinators. The E.U. has been so concerned that they have invested over $20 million investigating the status of pollinators in Europe.

So as you can see pollinators of all kinds are important to the us, our food production, the production of medicines and the natural balance of the food chain. For those of you who want to support pollinators, but perhaps don’t want to get involved in the whole honey extraction process, here are a few alternative hive options that might interest you.

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Your iPhone Is Literally Crippling People In Third World Countries. Watch This, Make A Difference.

More than half of U.S. electronic waste is shipped overseas.Okay, your iPhone is not directly causing a problem; rather it, in combination with all the other electronics of the world, contributes to a devastating global issue–electronic waste dumping. Even more devastating, however, is the fact that the very people who fuel the endless cycle of electronics consumption have no idea that this problem exists*. The latest and greatest gadgets hit the market, and the old (and usually, perfectly good) devices fill our closets, trash cans, and maybe (but likely not) our recycling bins. Out with the old, and in with the new, right? Well, it’s not that simple.

As this video illustrates, there is no magical place called “away” in terms of electronic waste. In most cases, “away” is a smoldering dumping ground on the other side of the ocean where children burn electronics to salvage their scrap metals, inhaling toxic fumes in exchange for a few measly dollars. And, if it’s not the fumes that hurt, then the dangers of a crime-ridden electronics black market add to the harmful impact. Whatever the issue may be, “dumping” creates serious, and in some cases life-threatening, problems for its victims.

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Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels

For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

That day appears to be dawning.

The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.

Utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant.

Those prices were made possible by generous subsidies that could soon diminish or expire, but recent analyses show that even without those subsidies, alternative energies can often compete with traditional sources.

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Tips for Beginning Gardeners

Me in the gardenBeginning a garden is to embark into a world full of joy, excitement, and reward. For those of you who are just beginning to garden I say, "Welcome! Enjoy your mistakes, learn from them." As my grandfather told me, "The basics are the same for everyone, but we all have our own way of gardening." Don't be afraid to try and fail, learn and implement the lessons in your next garden. There is a great deal of information available to you, especially with the Internet, but that can be kind of daunting. I suggest finding a resource or two that you can identify with and trust. If you don't have someone in your family who is a gardener, the best thing to do is to find a local farmer and learn from them, you can start by visiting your local farmers' market. Most of us are happy to share our knowledge with someone who truly wants to learn.

I was fortunate to be born and raised a southern farm girl. When we are raised in a certain way, we tend to forget that not everyone knows what we know. Expecting a beginning gardener to know what we have learned over a lifetime, is like expecting me to go to Atlanta International Airport and know my way around! With that scary thought in mind, there are a few tips I have learned that I would like to share with you. Hopefully, these will enhance your gardening experience.

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A Miscellany for Garden Lovers – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A Miscellany for Garden Lovers
by David Squire
Hardback, 144 pages
Published by Green Books, 13th November 2014
ISBN: 9780857842749
Price: £9.99 

A Miscellany for Garden-LoversGardening is an age-old craft that is about as old as when people first settled and began to cultivate the land and grow vegetables for food, and flowers for beauty and health. It is steeped in mystique and peppered with handed-down wisdom, often derived from “sons of the soil” who grew larger cabbages than their neighbors.

A Miscellany for Garden Lovers is a fact-drenched and beautifully illustrated book of insights into garden history that will leave you enthralled with its diversity – from digging the soil and keeping of bees to early plant hunters and weather rhymes, as well as used for plants you may have never heard of.

In a little over 140 pages the author presents you with garden knowledge in the form of short snippets which, more often than not, will leave you longing for more information on the subject. Just as it should be!

A lovely presented hardback book that will make a great addition to every gardener's and garden lover's library, and will make a gift that will be highly cherished.

Even I, as a professional gardener and forester and someone who grew up in the countryside, have learned things, many things, from the pages of this book that I never knew before.

About the author:

David Squire has spent a lifetime gardening and writing. He has written more than 80 books and has been awarded the Garden Writers of America ‘Quill and Trowel’ award. David studied horticulture at the Hertfordshire College of Horticulture and the Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden at Wisley, Surrey, England.

I have greatly enjoyed this book and it will find a special place on my bookshelf where it will be used for reference every now and again, I am sure.

As we were mentioning “cherished gift” earlier this book, considering that time of the year is coming up again, will make a great present for any garden lover and will be very well received for sure.

Rating: 6 out of 5 (if it would just be possible) so it will have to be 5 out of 5, I guess.

© 2014

Developing a sustainable living may require urban agriculture

Developing a sustainable living may require urban agricultureImagine living in an inner city and buying your vegetables and fruit just moments after they've been harvested. Imagine waking up to the rustic sound of a cock crowing. Imagine your household waste and sewage serving to grow even more food in a highly sustainable way. This is the promising picture painted by the EU-funded Supurbfood project.

"The goal of the Supurbfood project," Han Wiskerke tells, "is to make urban and peri-urban agriculture much more important than it is now." Wiskerke is the coordinator of the project and a professor of rural sociology at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. He goes on to explain that the project also aims to close the food-waste cycle, to shorten the food supply chains, and to create multifunctional land use in cities.

The results of Supurbfood cannot be quantified just yet since the project will continue until October 2015. But it is clear that promoting urban agriculture is likely to encounter some hurdles. Among them, one of the issues is "legislation, most of all," the coordinator explains, "For instance human excrement is often forbidden as manure in food production; yet it can be a very valuable component of compost."

All the other possible problems can be dealt with. The lack of space, for example, can be solved by growing vegetables, nuts, and fruit in parks. Poultry and small animals can be kept on rooftops, and in petting zoos. And 'greening' a city makes it a nicer place to live in, with cleaner air and more recreational facilities. Multifunctional land use is key according to Wiskerke.

But the implementation of this ambitious plan is not all straightforward. "Pollution, however, is a problem," he admits. "Not so much for air pollution; you can wash that off easily, but pollution of the soil; that needs to be monitored carefully."

Other scientists in the field are generally in favour of the project concept. And they point out that the project's inherent process of international dialogue is one of its crucial and very innovative aspects. In addition, the sharing of experiences and exchange of best practice makes it unique, and the most promising project of its kind.

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Restarter Profile: Meet Faraz

Untitled 5Tell us a little about yourself.

I studied Materials Science in Oxford University and I’m still finding my way, career-wise. What I’d like to do is design and invent interesting products, so I spend lots of time in hackspaces working on prototypes.

When did you start repairing electronics and electricals?

My secondary school science teacher had given me a soldering iron when I did an after school electronics class. I still have it today and bring it to every Restart Party. It helped me replace a capacitor in an LCD monitor being discarded at uni. If there was a broken electronics item in the house it was a good exercise to break it open and deduce how it works. This sort of curiosity helps with fault finding skills.

Why do you attend Restart Parties?

I love helping people, I love learning and I love solving a puzzle. At Restart Parties I can do all three at the same time. I have made some great friends amongst the regular Restarters and it’s awesome to meet up and see how they’re getting on.

What is your favourite kind of repair?

I like hacks. They may not be pretty, and it’s a bit of a grey area for repair, but it’s cool to use the tools at your disposal and some creative ingenuity to improve something. Those fixes leave me with a good feeling.

What do you do when you are not Restarting?

I spend a few evenings in an open workspace/hackspace in my area. Use the few hours to develop something I’m working on that might use an arduino. I have a wild imagination with many ideas I’d like to explore, I hope one day I can use some of them to earn money.

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Sheffield plastic is fantastic for growing bottle firm

1363573369It is a Sheffield manufacturing success story that shows the city is about more than just metals.

More than 600,000 Ohyo collapsible drinks bottles have been sold worldwide and the firm has just launched a new larger size aiming to crack the outdoor and US market.

The ingenious item can be squished more than 10,000 times while the special plastic resists mould and is dishwasher safe. It is on sale in M&S and Boots.

Founder Guy Jeremiah has worked with William Beckett Plastics since 2009 and is set use the firm’s Chicago warehouse.

His success comes after he was famously slated by Duncan Bannatyne on Dragons’ Den, who threw the bottle at him in rage.