De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea

The De La Warr Pavilion was erected between 1934 and 1935 in the otherwise sleepy seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, following a competition held by the mayor, Earl De La Warr. He sought a design for a new leisure complex for the town, and this was to be the winning entry.

The design was by Eric Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff, both celebrated designers of the modern movement. It was truly a stunning design, with a welded steel frame and cantilevered staircases, and even today it is considered to be one of the most significant modern movement building in the United Kingdom.

Although the building has never been subject to some of the indignities or neglect that many of its contemporaries have, over the decades there had been some unsympathetic ‘modernisation’. Happily, the pavillion has been Grade 1 listed since 1986, and the building is currently undergoing a gradual but sympathetic restoration.

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The front of the building, showing one of the projecting staircases.

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A closer view of the streamlined lettering above the front entrance.

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The cantilevered rear staircase, which overlooks the English Channel.

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The remarkable light fitting that runs up the rear staircase.

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A view of the balconies of the Pavilion from the seafront.

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In the auditorium of the theatre, showing the exquisite wood panelling, and the remarkably space-age ceiling.

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More original detailing in the auditorium-note the original chrome 1930s ‘Exit’ sign.

Bishopstone Railway Station, Seaford

Nowadays, Bishopstone railway station is almost forgotten, an unstaffed halt and the last stop on the Lewes – Seaford railway line. The whole site has an air of neglect about it; it is easy to forget that it was part of a plan to bring the railway network of south east England firmly into the 20th century.

Before 1923, the railway lines of Great Britain were owned by numerous different companies, a situation that was to change that year with the grouping of the companies. Four new companies were formed, the one responsible for lines in the south of England being the Southern Railway.

This company differed from the rest in that much of their network centred around commuter traffic into London, using some of the most intensively worked lines in the UK. Due to the high volume of traffic carried, the Southern proved to be the company that carried out the most expansion before World War Two.

New railway lines were built; existing ones were electrified; and new stations were constructed to handle commuters from new and intended suburban housing estates.

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Following the electrification of the London-Brighton railway, completed in 1933, the lines to Eastbourne and Seaford followed in the summer of 1935.

Three years later, a station at Bishopstone on the latter line opened in 1938. The village of Bishopstone itself had a tiny population, and was situated almost a mile from the railway, but the new station, located about a mile from the terminus of the line, was built speculatively – in the hopes that its construction would encourage the erection of new homes nearby, giving commuters easy access to the frequent electric trains and increasing the income of the Southern Railway.

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These intentions were however thwarted by the outbreak of war in 1939. Home building ground to a halt throughout the country, and the area never was developed to the extent that was hoped.

This situation also occurred elsewhere on the Southern Railway, including the stillborn seaside resort of Allhallows-on-Sea on the Thames estuary, and the station at Lullingstone near Swanley, which, although apparently architecturally very similar to the one at Bishopstone, was never opened to passengers and was later demolished.

Bishopstone was a modest station, constructed with only passenger traffic in mind. The frontage of the station was largely constructed in a typical art deco style, with corners incorporating windows that smoothly curved round the sides of the building.

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The roof of the booking hall towered above the frontage of the building, and it was a rather unusual structure in octagonal shape, foreshadowing the pillbox defence structures of the Second World War. Although flat roofed, the ceiling of the booking hall was built from glass bricks rather than a more conventional method, which had the advantage of making the booking hall feel light and airy.

Today, Bishopstone station is still open to the public, although it is now rather forlorn, having never reached its potential.

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It is unstaffed (although a newsagents still operates in part of the frontage), and one of the two railway tracks running through the station has been removed, leaving a derelict and crumbling concrete platform opposite the operational one.

As late as 2004, the station still had a rather isolated feel to it, located at the end of a road with large private houses running down one side, and nothing but fields and a campsite on the other, but by the middle of that year, work had begun on a new housing development to the immediate west of the station – construction that the Southern railway had planned for nearly 70 years ago.

Granada Cinema in Hove, East Sussex. Photos.

Granada cinema in Hove, East Sussex

Welcome to the page dedicated to the now disused former Granada cinema in Hove, East Sussex, to the west of Brighton. This art deco Cinema was opened in the 1930s as a Granada Theatre, and showed films up until 1974, when it was acquired by Ladbrokes and re-opened as a bingo hall.

The old cinema was thus granted a new lease of life, and stayed open as a bingo club, latterly run by the Gala Group, until it was closed in the summer of 2003. This website includes both a history of the building, located at 193 Portland Road, and a large number of photographs taken around the time of closure. Parts of the cinema had by then changed out of all recognition, while other areas, namely the circle seems to almost have been trapped in a thirties time warp.

The History of the Granada in Hove stretches out over seventy years, and while researching it, some surprising information was thrown my way! Perhaps most interestingly of all, the cinema was never actually part of the Granada chain – indeed, it was not until 1985 that the Granada group actually had anything to do with the place. But the two were connected.

To understand this odd state of affairs, we have to go back to January 1930, and the opening of the Granada Cinema in Dover, Kent.

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This cinema was intended to be the first of a chain of Granada Cinemas, owned by the Bernstein brothers, Sidney and Cecil, who had inherited an entertainment empire of cinemas and theatres from their father Alexander. These businesses had been sold off in 1928, and the brothers put plans in action to start a cinema circuit of their own, which was to be called Granada.

Dover was the first of the chain to be opened, followed by Walthamstow in September 1930, but the levels of profit were less than expected, and just over a year later, in April 1931, the Granada Dover was leased out to an independent film exhibitor, Nathan N. Lee, who formed a new company, Granada (Dover) Ltd. to run it.

Granada (Dover) then went on to open another cinema, in Hove, which opened to the public in July 1933, and which was naturally also named the Granada. These cinemas then ran independently from the Granada chain, until the freeholds for both were purchased by the ABC cinema chain in the middle of 1935. Curiously though, neither cinema was given the ABC name at the time; this did not happen until many years later, in May 1965.

It seems bizarre that a major cinema chain could run two of its premises using the name of a competitor for so many years, but this was indeed the case at Dover and Hove. Like the ‘proper’ Granada sites, the Hove cinema was equipped for stage performances as well as film shows, with five dressing rooms and a deep stage. Initially it was fitted with an elaborate Compton electric organ, but after the two ersatz Granada cinemas were sold to the ABC circuit in June 1935, it was poached by the chain for a new cinema in south London in 1936, and has today passed into preservation.

The Hove cinema was the first of the two to close, in 1974, despite protests from local residents. In retrospect however, it does seem remarkable that a cinema in such a suburban location could have lasted for so long; after all, the huge flagship ‘proper’ Granada cinema in Tooting had closed its doors to the public the year previous.

The cinema had received a considerable amount of attention from its owners throughout the 1960s, receiving modernisation in both 1962 and 1970, and after closure in the June of 1974, the period of inactivity at the Granada Hove did not last for long, and the building was reopened as a Lucky Seven bingo hall by Ladbrokes shortly afterwards.

At the start of the 1980s, the interior of the building was extensively modified; a suspended ceiling was installed over the stalls, effectively blocking off the circle, and the floor of the stalls was also levelled. By 1983, the building was owned by a bingo company called Lion Leisure, which was subject to a buyout by Granada in 1985 – belatedly making it a proper part of the sprawling Granada empire. This situation only lasted for six years however, as the Granada group sold all of its bingo halls to Bass Brewers in 1991, which were subjected to a management buyout another six years later.

The future of the Bingo Hall in Hove seemed secure, despite the neglect that parts of the building had been subjected to, as the Gala Group owned the freehold of the site, and the club proved to be profitable. But after an offer was made for the site by a company specialising in retirement flats in early 2003, the Gala Group decided to close the club (although staff there had been reassured to the contrary in June of that year) in an effort to secure planning permission for demolition of the building.

This application was however unsuccessful, and in 2005 it currently sits empty and boarded up – the only use seen since closure being an impromptu takeover by squatters in 2004.

Planning permission for demolition of the building in order to create affordable housing was recently reapplied for, and as the building has stood empty for nearly two years, deteriorating all the while, it seems likely that permission to demolish will be granted.

Exterior

When built, the building was finished in unclad red brick, and was not whitewashed over until after conversion into a bingo hall circa 1975. During World War Two, and anti-aircraft gun was installed on the roof, but never fired, in case the force of the shot caused it to fall through…

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Looking towards the club from the east end of Portland Road. It’s clear in this picture how much the club stands out on this road, which mostly comprises of restaurants and small shops with flats above, built in a vaguely Arts and Crafts style.

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Closer in this time, and this shot reveals the neglected state of the exterior-note the bush growing out of the wall in the centre right of the picture, plus the tide mark where the repainting stopped when it was last done ten years ago. The blocked up door in the alcove in the centre of the building led to a sun terrace originally, the bricking up of which made the rooms on the first floor nearest the camera inaccessible.

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Looking over the car park to the large back wall at the stage end. The projecting structure in the middle used to be the boiler room area, and the replacement gas-fired heating unit (which was notoriously useless) was housed to the right of the building. Did the circular recess in the middle top of the wall house a clock at one point?

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Taken three days after closure, the club has already been boarded up. on the top left of the building, the two skylights visible on the roof provided ventilation for the projection room, apparently because of fumes from the carbon-rod projection equipment. Incidentally, this room was totally rebuilt as offices after closure as a cinema.

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Looking directly up from the front doors, up to the bell tower. The old photo on the splash page seems to show some sort of statues on either side of the tower-what were they?

The Foyer Area

The entrance of the building was originally equipped with revolving doors, which stayed in situ until the remodelling of the interior of the building in 1992. most of the original features of this area were obliterated by the time of closure, although some original features did remain.

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This picture, taken three days after closure, shows the foyer from the entrance desk. Just visible at the bottom is where the original ticket machine had been re-sited, which has been taken by Hove museum. The stairs in the centre, hidden by a false wall, lead to the circle foyer, while the entrance doors to the main hall are just visible on the right of the picture.

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This shot looks from the opposite direction of the above picture, towards the customer entrance to the building. The membership desk (and cubby hole) is to the left. The location of the revolving doors can clearly be seen.

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A closer look at where the revolving doors were sited. The pole in the foreground appears to have been associated with them, although moved a couple of feet into the foyer. Former members of staff had been known to dance wrapped round it to entice passing motorists…

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One of the few original features left in the foyer area was this safe, built into the wall of the cubby hole by the front desk, which would have been where the box office was in cinema days. It was jammed shut for as long as I knew it… wonder if anything had been left inside?

The Stalls/Main Hall

This page features the extensively modified stalls area, fitted with a levelled floor and false ceiling around 1983. The plaster mouldings towards the top of this false ceiling seem to be the principal original features in this area, although many of the modifications were carried out in a style sympathetic to the architecture of the building.

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Taken from the foyer doors and looking towards the screen area. on the left is the book sales counter, while the Random Number Generator (RNG) can be seen to the right, on the stage. The pink pillars nearest the back indicate the original location of the stage edge.

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Taken from a position to the left of the above shot, and looking diagonally across the hall. Note the stairs down to the ladies toilets on the left, which may indicate the original floor height. The prize bingo unit is to the right, and the folk you can see in the picture are (L-R) Mrs. Peacock (a regular), Brenda (A.K.A. the “Door Rottweiler”), Bruce and Dawn, our main-stage caller.

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Under the circle area in the stalls were two air vents, one of which can be seen in the top centre of the previous picture. There was an identical set in the circle itself too.

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Looking in the opposite direction, from the stage, towards the foyer doors. The Bar and prize bingo unit are to the left, and the diner is off to the right. the second ‘step’ in the ceiling is actually the edge of the circle, which has been blocked off from the public since the 1983 refurbishment.

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Taken from where the caller stood at the RNG (a portion of which is visible bottom right. Diner in the far corner.

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Stood in a similar position, except this is on the final night of trading. The busiest night i’d ever seen, taking 375 customers, twice what we usually did!

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A closer view of the plasterwork that ran round the stalls. The walls also featured cherub statues at some point, which may have been on top of those pink pillars. incidentally, the round bits of plasterwork were painted the same blue as the walls… That’s two and a bit years of nicotine staining for you!

The Circle Stairs and Foyer

The circle area of the building has been off-limits to customers since the installation of the false ceiling in the early 80s. this does however mean that many of the original fittings from this part of the building had survived to be recorded for posterity.

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Looking down the stairs seen in the first picture on the foyer page. Halfway up, these stairs turn 180 degrees, and continue up to the circle foyer, as seen below.

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At the top of the stairs. The octagonal moulding on the ceiling would originally have been backlit all the way round, with a more elaborate light fitting than this one in the middle. The stairs to the right led up to the projection room and the top of the circle itself.

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In the circle foyer, but taken from the opposite side to the other photo. Although covered over with cheap blue carpet, this area still had its original tilework, although covered in a particularly viscous glue! The stairs are the other set to the top of the circle, while the passageway to the right led to the lower level of it.

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The floor of the passageway mentioned above. I remember being so pleased when I first saw these tiles a couple of years ago, despite their tatty state. Such a shame such a nice feature was covered up for so long.

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Facing the stairs above ran a narrow passage past the Treasury, through the computer room and staff changing area to the blocked-off sun terrace and the bottom of the circle. This photo shows some of the (asbestos-based, apparently) mouldings that decorated this corridor.

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At the top of the stairs featured in the second photo on this page. The projection room was off to the left.

The Circle

The circle area of the building has been off-limits to customers since the installation of the false ceiling in the early 80s. this does however mean that many of the original fittings from this part of the building had survived to be recorded for posterity.Unfortunately, the lighting doesn’t work up there, hence the graininess of some of the images on this page, but nevertheless, they provide fascinating contrast with the images of the main hall.

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There are several light fittings like this in the circle-not sure if they’re original or not though. Note the crumbling plasterwork in this part of the club.

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At the top of the central aisle in the circle are the crudely blocked off projector windows. Not sure why there are six, although i’m sure someone could tell me! note the colours of paint too: Green, red, dark beige, brown and light beige, topped off with a purple ceiling. Very 1974…

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Further down the central staircase, looking towards the projectors. The cable was either for the lighting in the main hall, or the CCTV system, installed only a few months before it was decided to close the club.

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At the other end of the central aisle is was this very nice wrought iron barrier. Immediately in front of it are one of the fluorescent light fittings, followed by one of the aluminium ventilation tubes which ran down from holes knocked in the ceiling down to the public area in the stalls.

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More wrought ironwork, and one of a pair at either end of the foot of the circle. All of these have now thankfully been saved from the bulldozers.

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One of the exits from the circle. When built, turning left out of this door led to the now blocked up sun terrace. Turning right led through what had become the staff changing area and computer room.

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Looking at the end of the rows of seats, which don’t look like they’ve been changed since 1933. Notice the ‘G’ for Granada moulded into the end of them.

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Looking across some of the seating in the circle-just look at how dusty it was up there! The yellow things are rodent bait I believe, but plenty of bingo debris (including Granada Bingo books and polystyrene cups) and other junk litters the area too.

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A View over the false ceiling, towards the proscenium arch. You can just make out the ventilation grilles corresponding to those in the main hall in the centre of the picture.

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Again looking towards the proscenium arch, over the false ceiling, towards the centre of the hall. The fire curtain appeared to be in place, but I couldn’t get a decent shot of it in the gloom.

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The best overall shot that my camera could manage! Again, looking towards the proscenium. Note the ventilation tube in the foreground stretching all the way down.

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I particularly liked these gents toilets (!) as they seemed to be pretty much unchanged since the building of the place! This looks towards the sole cubicle-none of us could figure out what the hatch in the wall was for though.

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Another remarkable survivor from the opening of the cinema in these toilets was this fantastic mirror, which I was very excited to find. The missing piece of blue glass was on the floor, and this was surely one of the few bits of the building left where you were reminded of how grand it must have once been.

This website is in no way affiliated with The Gala Group. The photos herein were all taken between August 29th and September 2nd 2003.

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Landsbanki Guernsey Fiasco Ends after 8 Years. Depositors LOSE 8% in Unsafe “Haven”.

The Landsbanki Guernsey fiasco has been covered here before.

We covered it in these articles:

Landsbanki Guernsey Crisis – UK Government cover up and pressure to close protest websites.

Landsbanki Guernsey Depositors

Guernsey Commissioner’s Meeting 19th Jan 2011 about failed Landsbanki Islands Icelandic Bank

Landsbanki Guernsey Depositors To Get Another 17.5% Of Their Money Back

The short version is that Landsbanki Guernsey collapsed in 2008. Now we are in 2016, the official liquidation is finally concluded and the depositors have lost 8% plus 8 years compound interest.

Guernsey had ZERO depositor protection.

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Now they claim to have depositor protection, but could they afford a bank collapse? Probably not.

Banking in Guernsey: That well-known crown dependency of the UK, offshore tax haven and a reliable custodian of your cash.

Or NOT as the case was.

Nestling amongst the allegedly safe banks on Guernsey was Landsbanki, an Icelandic owned bank guaranteed by its huge parent company Landsbanki in Iceland. What could go wrong? All these countries are EU, right? Icelandic banks were well-known and reliable, right? Guernsey was a world-class banking haven insulated from grasping Gordon Brown and not stupid enough to invest in US mortgage debt. Cash was safe in Guernsey everyone thought.

Iceland is not EU. Nor, technically, is Guernsey (although they bow to the EU savings directive and are a UK Crown Dependency).

Well, Guernsey is not safe any more it seems! In October 2008 the Icelandic government nationalized Landsbanki Iceland. In turn, all its affiliates and subsidiaries around the world toppled like a house of cards.

However, what of Landsbanki Guernsey? Well nobody noticed before, but Guernsey lacked depositor protection. Savers relied on its stringent financial regulation [sic] not to let minnows and “Johnny-come-lately” types into Guernsey.

However, while Lyndon Trott – the big cheese on the island – and some of his cohorts were bigging it up in the Orient on Labrador fried rice at the taxpayers expense, Guernsey was wobbling as a trusted financial centre.

Landsbanki Guernsey went into administration. The administrators have paid out 30p in the pound within a couple of weeks of the bank’s collapse, and made further payments in 2009 (25p), 2010 (12.5p), 2011 (17.5p), 2013 (4.6p) and 1.96p at the end of May 2016.

What of the 8% shortfall? Guernsey won’t pay. The UK won’t pay. Iceland has managed to slither out of its commitments abroad even though they nationalised the parent bank.

FACT: In 2016 UK-based and other international savers lost 8% of their cash in Guernsey.

Guernsey is finished as a retail financial centre – simple as that. Nobody wants to invest money in a “financial centre” where people lost their cash – it’s that simple!

If people want risk, they can get that earning 17% interest in Ukraine. They can get a government backed guarantee in Russia and 10% interest with no government stealing some of the interest. Why will they mess about for 4%-6% in Guernsey where the cash has a tendency to do a credible impersonation of Houdini?

Guernsey’s “depositor protection scheme” is worthless. That is called “closing the stable door after the horse has bolted” – Guernsey’s DPS has as much value and credibility as one from Zimbabwe.

This site says: The Guernsey Government should compensate savers for the 8% shortfall. Every other government in the world appears to be doing this in their own jurisdictions. This is called depositor protection.

Guernsey say they cannot afford to pay. Really?

They could use some of the £15m a year they make from information snooping for the tax authorities in the UK, or maybe some of the tax and other monies they made from Landsbanki to date.

Regulation appears to have been insufficient or ineffective.

Landsbanki Guernsey was poorly regulated and inadequately supervised. Until Guernsey pays the Landsbanki savers (dont hold your breath) they will pay the price with their reputation.

Don’t put your money in Guernsey, folks!

UK Petition: Lift EU/US sanctions on Russia to increase trade now the UK is leaving the EU

As we all know, the UK has chosen to exit the EU.

We call this bid for freedom BREXIT.

This means once again we can become an independent country making our own decisions.

The UK has sanctions on Russia.

Russia has reciprocal trade sanctions on the UK.

This means much trade is blocked between Russia and the UK.

Why? 

Because the warmongering USA has the EU as its bitch. The US says “jump” and the EU says “how high?”

The US has almost no trade with Russia. So it doesn’t hurt the US.

Yet thousands of farmers and producers of other goods in the UK are BLOCKED from exporting to Russia.

Why? 

Because the USA funded a coup d’état in Ukraine, removed the democratically-elected president, installed an American puppet, anti-Russian president, and the EU dutifully (albeit unsuccessfully) tried to bring Ukraine into its orbit, away from its natural, linguistic, historical and cultural partner: Russia.

The result of this was a breakaway region in the east many refer to as Novorossiya (New Russia), who self-declare as the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

In addition, the people of the briefly “Ukrainian” peninsula of Crimea (full of ethnic Russians) didn’t want to be ruled by proxy from the USA, so they held a referendum, left Ukraine and reunified with Russia.

What has this to do with Brexit? 

The EU and their transatlantic overlords decided to frame those events as Russia “invading” Ukraine and gleefully pressed the EU to sign the UK up to sanctions on Russia. Sanctions that Russia reciprocally responded to and stopped most imports of foodstuffs and many other goods.

Yup, that means in Russia they cannot buy Cheshire Cheese, British eggs, apples or a host of other stuff from the UK.

Because the EU and Uncle Sam say so.

This is directly taking bread from British tables.

This is inhibiting exports.

This is destroying British business and losing British jobs.

BILLIONS of pounds of trade poured into the UK from Russia’s 140 MILLION people.

But it stopped.

But then we voted Brexit!

So why do we need to participate in US/EU led sanctions on Russia?

We dont! 

We have no horse in the race in eastern Ukraine. Not our business.

Russia is no threat to us (or anyone who doesn’t threaten her for that matter). Russia is our friend. Russia WANTS to trade with the UK.

We can, as an independent country (once more), get those 140 million potential customers back. We can get back those BILLIONS of pounds of trade from the largest country in the world with twice our population.

How? 

Lets use the mechanism that won us our freedom. Votes!

We have a system for this already.

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There is already a vote on the UK Parliamentary website asking for exactly this.

Here is the text:

As the UK has chosen to exit the EU, we will be no longer bound by US-influenced, EU sanctions on Russia. We should lift sanctions on Russia as an independent country to regain the millions of pounds of trade we have lost with Russia. We don’t need to participate in EU/US sanctions against Russia.

 

More details

The EU and the US introduced sanctions on Russia over the democratic decision of the people of Crimea to reunify with Russia and Russia’s alleged backing of separatists in Eastern Ukraine. The UK had to participate in this as an EU member. Now the UK is leaving the EU, we need not be dictated to by it. Lost trade with Russia costs the UK many millions of pounds. This is trade that we are now at liberty to get back. Russia is a market of 140m consumers British business needs.

 

Sign this petition

At 10,000 signatures…

At 10,000 signatures, government will respond to this petition

At 100,000 signatures…

At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament

Share this petition

  • Created by Stuart Smith
  • Deadline 7 January 2017All petitions run for 6 months

Observations from an American who lives in Russia when he visited America again.

I have just returned from my annual sojourn to America recently; Texas and California to be exact.

This might have been the first time I had ever been to Texas and not see someone wearing a cowboy hat. Amazing, since I spent 10 days there (14 days in Cali). Equally amazing was not seeing any police, or very, very few in both places.

Nobody shot at me either. Always welcomed.

Nothing really has changed much, but it being an election year, one could sense a palatable shift in the mood of the country; interesting to witness I must say. Living outside one’s country for years will change your perspective and give you a certain vantage point that is quite different obviously, than from someone who hasn’t experienced this. That is assuming that one can stay objective.

One major paradigm shift for me over the years living in Moscow has been to not look at things as good or bad but different.

People are people. Living in Moscow is not that different, all things considered, than living in LA. Cultural attitudes aside, I get up, go to work, meet with friends, enjoy life, deal with problems etc. much like I did in LA.

America is a great country, let’s not kid ourselves. I always have a good time there and the people are generally nice and polite. Stereotypes are blown way out of proportion, so it’s quite easy for non- Americans to take pot shots at the country and its people as if the same assholes don’t exist in their country in some form or another.

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”.

The government takes a lot of heat, and rightfully so. Now it’s time for the American government to change its paradigm and start to work along side countries they have had dubious or mediocre relations in the past. Doesn’t mean putting up with another country’s crap, but not starting any crap of your own as well. Nevertheless, it’s time to stop the do as I say or else nonsense.

It will be interesting to see who is elected President in the U.S.. The U.S. military industrial complex needs to dial it back, that’s for sure.

One thing that was blatantly obvious while I was in America is how the cost of living has gone up in relation to Russia, and Moscow in particular. I didn’t buy half the stuff I normally do to bring back, because quite frankly it cost more in America than Russia taking the exchange rate into consideration. Yikes, what a surprise.

Moscow, normally a perennial among the top 10 most expensive cities in the world now sits at 192. New York City, San Fransisco and Washington D.C. have all cracked the top 10. I don’t think there has been a time in the last 20 years that 3 American cities have been in the top 10. Honolulu, San Jose, Boston, Oakland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago all are in the top 30. This really has to be a first since I’ve been tracking this (since I moved to Moscow) that I have seen so many American cities rank that high.

https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/index

I believe the worst is over here in Russia; I’m 99% sure of it. It’s also a good time for any Westerner to visit given the exchange rate. Oil is at least moving in a positive direction for the country and the country has improved other sectors.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Western businessmen, dignitaries, and diplomats attend this year’s annual ST. Petersburg International Economic Forum after a 2-year absence. It’s quite apparent EU businesses see the Russian economy coming out of a slump and are as Putin says “chomping at the bit” to do business in Russia again. Of course they are.

These sanctions are bullshit and everyone knows this. Sanctions rarely if ever achieve their desired goals and these sanctions have taken a toll on Europe as well. Part of what the sanctions accomplished was to push the Russian’s back against the wall and force them to finally do something productive within the country. Agriculture continues to produce positive results and I see and feel it at check out counter.

America again it seems, have underestimated things with short-sighted policies.

The demise of Russia economically has been greatly exaggerated by the West. There is still a long way to go to get to the boom years of 2000-2007 and recovery is slow to be sure. As with any recession, some people suffer more than others.

Concurrently, it’s good to see Russia reach out to the West as they have done recently. Russia understands its need for the West to ensure a better future for its people. But, it must be done cooperatively, not aggressively or underhanded. I think business between Europe and Russia will start to increase sanctions or not; it’s only a matter of time.

Life is good in Moscow. Certainly not any worse than in most cities/countries.  Summertime is an awesome time to be here and things are looking up. You never know about the future, but it seems there are some rays of sunshine peeking through the clouds of 2014.

My prediction is to look for Russia to show true signs of recovery into 2017 as oil hits $60-70 with relations and business ties improving between the West and Russia.

Danchik

A new Swiss humanitarian convoy for the city of Donetsk

This article first appeared in French on the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation website.

On 22 May 2016, two humanitarian convoys Confederation carrying chemicals for treating water and medical supplies left for Ukraine in the conflict zone.

Part of the convoy with medical equipment and medicine was awarded to the Kurakhove hospital this morning.

The products have been transported by road but also, for the first time by rail .

Sunday morning, a train ferrying chemicals for water treatment left Switzerland to Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine.

The cargo is for waterworks of Donbass, which supply the population with drinking water on both sides of the line of contact.

Other goods, including medical supplies, including spare parts for X-ray machine, are transported by road to Donetsk on trucks.

swiss_convoy

A second convoy of fourteen trucks, is designed to transport some 245 tons of chemicals to the waterworks of Donbass, in the city of Krasnoarmiynsk placed under government control.

A load of medical equipment and medicines by truck was delivered this morning at the hospital Kurakhove.

Convoys benefit from the guidance and support of seven members of the Humanitarian Aid of the Confederation, which is part of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) and as collaborators of the embassy and the Kiev cooperation Office.

This convoy is the fourth Swiss humanitarian convoy for this area of ​​conflict since the spring of 2015.

The SDC is so far the only state actor to organize humanitarian convoys crossing the contact line in eastern Ukraine*.

*Editors note: This last line is absolutely untrue. Russia has sent over 50 humanitarian aid convoys to Donbass. Perhaps the Swiss forgot that………

The New USA -v- Russia Cold War. Seeing the Wood Through the Trees.

I’m not sure why anyone falls for the dishonest media spin from either side.

The current “cold war” situation owes more to an engineered conflict that is agreeable to both sides (EU/US and Russia) to distract the peasants from the domestic economic turmoil.

Creating political theatre and ‘threats’ allows governments to run loose economic policy and pour money into defence without taking a beating on the markets.

The ISIS/AQ threat is better persecuted by special forces. To be able to dump billions into new defence projects and soak up blue collared workers into a standing military you need a credible threat.

China doesn’t work so re-igniting the cold-war provides a convenient dog and pony show to distract everyone from our politicians inability to extract us from the economic quagmire they put us in.

There isn’t a single military expert who believes any conflict between NATO/Russia can ever be won by either side, regardless of the military technology employed, since as soon as either side crosses a certain line, then it would escalate to tactical nuclear options, followed by wholesale destruction from the ICBM arsenal.

Putin knows exactly how much rope he has to play with, NATO isn’t going to risk anything over places like Georgia or Ukraine, it is fairly doubtful they would do much over the Baltics. Putin would have to launch an invasion of Finland or Poland before you’d see any kind of response.

Really this is the stuff of Tom Clancy. Any war between major superpowers would plunge the entire global financial system into a collapse, global trade is too interwoven for anything over than skirmishes over non-relevant world economic players.

It’s well known that the UK could no longer even repeat the task force needed to defend the Falklands, but Argentina doesn’t gain anything from trying to take them by force again.

Putin is never going to invade Ukraine, he has the capability and stated he could be in Kiev in 2 days if he wanted (which he could). But occupying a sovereign country would bankrupt Russia and likely lead to his own regime falling.

He is a smart guy and knows real wars are now fought with the media. Market manipulation and information warfare not armour and foot mobiles.

The military talk up a threat to get bigger budgets and new kit, the media toe the line because fear sells more print than Kim Kardashian’s arse, and Putin gets to hold his political control by playing the archetype Russian bear.

Behind the scenes they all discuss what their plans are and laugh at us little people.

Whatever is said publicly the west want to keep Putin in power. He is predictable and capable of holding the country together in a manageable state. They would rather have Putin than some irrational unknown hardliners trying to be a Putin without the smarts of knowing where the line is drawn.

The west don’t care about Russian domestic policy. What they care about is stability of regimes not spooking the markets and causing economic collapse.

No doubt Putin told the US exactly what he was doing in Crimea – he’s not so stupid as to antagonise a nuclear superpower. And no doubt the American administration agreed that the strategic importance of Sevastopol was sufficient grounds for them to protect their interests without interference knowing the potential instability Ukraine was facing.

Anyone who thinks what politicians say and do, or what the media report is in any way representative of what goes on behind closed doors at this level of geopolitics has clearly fallen for the body of lies entirely woven for their benefit.

Remember. War is good business. Most of our enemies like Bin Laden and Saddam were created to serve economic purposes. Suddenly Putin is the bogeyman and Iran is our new best mate. When they want to give China an economic haircut, they’ll be next.

Don’t fall for the rhetoric from either side.

 

Mr Black

BBC pressure leads Paxman to bin article criticising EU

This article first appeared in the Sunday Times

BBC pressure leads Paxman to bin article criticising EU

It is not easy to muzzle a journalistic pitbull, but Jeremy Paxman has withdrawn an article critical of the European Union from a forthcoming issue of Radio Times after coming under pressure from the BBC.

The article was commissioned by the magazine to coincide with Paxman in Brussels, a BBC1 documentary about the EU presented by Paxman and due for transmission on May 19.

Typically pugnacious, Paxman expressed doubts about the EU, its bureaucracy and, in particular, the loss of Britain’s sovereignty. While he stopped short of advocating Brexit, Paxman’s strongly expressed views raised concern that the impartiality of his documentary could be compromised.

In publicity material for Paxman in Brussels, the BBC states that “Jeremy Paxman takes an impartial look at the fundamentals of what actually goes on between the UK and the EU”.

It is understood that Paxman had to deal with a senior BBC executive over the article and was unhappy with proposed changes so decided to pull the piece. Radio Times, which was sold by the BBC in 2011, has a weekly circulation of around 800,000 as well as a substantial online audience.

This weekend, the magazine said it was “disappointed” not to be able to publish the article. Paxman’s documentary, during which he meets EU officials and politicians, is one of four about Europe from senior broadcasters. The other presenters are Nick Robinson, whose programme has already aired, Laura Kuenssberg and Mishal Husain.

Paxman’s has been made by Brook Lapping, a TV production company whose documentaries include Inside Obama’s White House on BBC2, and Putin, Russia and the West.

Paxman: UK’s standing ‘much reduced’ BBC

Paxman: UK’s standing ‘much reduced’
BBC

There have also been minor disagreements over what can be said in the programme. The script is yet to be finalised before the voiceover is recorded.

Paxman presented BBC2’s Newsnight for 25 years until his departure in 2014. He still hosts University Challenge. The 65-year-old has described himself as a “One Nation Tory”.

He was recently quoted as saying that he expects Britons to vote to remain in Europe. “Yet Britain’s standing in the world is now much reduced from what it was,” he added. “The problem with the EU is that it makes that abundantly clear.”

In a speech in March, Paxman said: “For the past 40 years, power has been taken from politicians and parliaments, and given to international organisations …

Norman Tebbit [the Conservative politician] said people do not like being ruled by those who don’t speak their language. It sounds small-minded, but I think there is something in it.”

Paxman declined to comment.

The Reality About Estonia

I have been visiting Estonia for many years. Since the late 90’s.

I have a house there and (now) a Russian-speaking wife.

I think I have a unique perspective that locals  don’t have.

A bloke recently asked me:

What did you like/prefer then? (in pre-EU Estonia) Apart from being one of few foreigners in the country at the time.

Here is my reply:

There were always more foreigners around than you might think, but still relatively few.

I first went in 98 in pre-EU days, and went quite often with bits of business and later with dating. It had this kinda wild west feel about it as Russia still does today.

Nobody was suing anyone when they fell over a crack in the pavement. People took responsibility for their own actions and didn’t expect a nanny state to wet nurse them. I found it quite refreshing. How the UK was in the 70s in some respects.

It was self regulating (as we were in the 70s) but also amusingly lawless. You could buy anything. Expats might just about remember the black market by the railway station. You could buy Kalashnikovs there (if you wanted to). I used to trade British cigarettes for old Russian medals and military stuff to sell on (usually to the US).

Hardly any language between us, but we got by. I still know blokes today I met back then on that market.

Yes, some people were poor, especially those who lived out Lasnamae way. But guess what? Life for those people hasn’t really changed under the EU. Lasnamae, Narva and all the “Russian” bits all look the same as the government do not invest there. Money is only poured into Tallinn and everywhere else has to make its own way.

It used to be a fabulous place with cheap stuff, beautiful women, much freedom, relatively unregulated banking and business, and no noticeable anti-Russian sentiment – and it worked just great as it was. A free, proud and independent state. A great place to be and spend time in.

2004 they joined the EU. 2006 they got a US bred president. 2011 they joined the Euro. Then they had EU regulation, US interference and the place changed. Then they were mostly pretending to be a Swedish suburb.

Everyone borrowed EU money, the place boomed then crashed. Yes the internet got fast and the roads smooth, but there were downsides. Prices went up a lot, McDonald’s were everywhere, women gained weight (thankfully, many are still slim and beautiful) , hemlines and heel height dropped (economists know about this marker) nationalism and anti-Russian feelings increased, and today it is an American client state within the EU.

Now, everyone lives on credit and it is little different to anywhere else in the eastern European EU. It has become homogenised. I haven’t been for a while, I am surprised if most of the expats haven’t  moved on by now. It isn’t what it was.

Is it better now? In some respects, and for some people, yes. But for many others they feel the government has abandoned them. And it has, if they are in a “Russian” bit of Estonia. Like Narva especially.

Now, the place is full of US military “countering Russian aggression” (that doesn’t exist). Toomas Hendrik Ilves (prez) is a US bitch, while he is there it wont change. Might as well have Victoria Nuland as president.  :(

But everyone drives an Audi now on credit, so life is good, yes?

30% of people there are Russian, but Russia is “bad”. A crisis waiting to happen, no? It will end up another country America has fucked up.

Cuba is next to enjoy some capitalism. Soon people there will also have McDonald’s and credit they don’t understand for cars they cant pay for ……..

But they will have a newish Audi and a Visa card, but own nothing, so life is good. Just like Estonia.  :sick0012:

I still have a place there, we used to use it as a dacha. But now I rent it out and manage it from afar. The raison d’être to visit has gone. I can enjoy the odd few days there now, but no more……


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