Tag Archives: Chelsea

Blackmail as premeditation

These is a side to everything. Peace, War and everything in-between is in the eye of the beholder, in the wake of political needs some will say, but that too is a side of a mere point of view. So when I saw the Bloomberg article (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-04-28/manchester-city-s-owner-helps-usher-more-russian-tycoons-to-uae) titled ‘Manchester City’s Owner Helps Usher More Russian Tycoons to UAE’ we see the side that many shy away from. It starts with “Sheikh Mansour also has a behind-the-scenes role that’s become increasingly important in recent months: Helping manage relationships with wealthy Russians looking to move money into the UAE, according to several people familiar with Abu Dhabi’s engagement with Russians, who requested anonymity as the information isn’t public.” With the added “Even as the U.S., EU and other countries have blitzed Russia with thousands of new financial restrictions, making it the world’s most-sanctioned nation, the UAE hasn’t imposed any. Officials in the Middle Eastern nation have taken the stance that Abu Dhabi respects international law but isn’t required to follow measures implemented by specific countries and that the UAE has the right to adopt its own policies, several people familiar with their thinking said.” It is supported by “That approach, though, has fuelled concern among some Western officials who are worried about holes in their own sanctions programs. Earlier this month, Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo voiced Washington’s worries about Russian tycoons moving assets to the UAE in a call with UAE officials, two people with knowledge of the discussions said”. You see, the setting is even more different from what we see. You see, some places cannot be touched, some ships are unattainable and other material matters cannot be touched as the owners identities are hidden from view. There are two parts in all this. 

In the first there is the matter of his highness Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He is from the UAE, he does what is best for the UAE, a Emiratian as it were (is that the right pronunciation?) The larger setting is not what he does, it is that there is no war with Russia in the UAE, more important, the blackmail grip on these oligarchs is not entirely legal. Lets look at the clear evidence. These oligarchs are Russians, they therefor embraced friendships with the ruler of that place (Vladimir Putin), this was never a crime. Then the Ukrainian issues started and the oligarchs were split in two teams (as Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich most likely would say) those who openly support Putin and those who do not. Take Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich he is also a philanthropist and the former owned of Chelsea FC (they might be the same). So are the acts against him valid? Consider what he did in the BEGINNING of the war. It casts a shadow over the acts against the oligarchs. And the demented statement by President Biden “We’re going to seize their yachts, their luxury homes, and other ill-begotten gains”, really? What laws were broken, what prosecution was not correctly made? I do not care either way, but there are laws and yes, Russia has to pay for EVERY kopek of damage that they created in Ukraine. But should the oligarchs? Perhaps those in Russia, but those abroad? Those who openly supported Putin’s war in Ukraine perhaps, the rest? I feel uncertain. 

And when we reconsider “some Western officials who are worried about holes in their own sanctions programs” we see the folly of their taxation laws, the holes are large enough to park a 500 feet yacht in. Failure after failure and the entire emotional setting does not help any, mainly because the emotional setting is not a legal one and now we see that Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has a case to present to his nation. And if this works the UAE will see another wave of long term investments. Long after the US is deserted by too many players, the UAE will hold on. Is it fair? Fair does not come into it. These oligarchs are not involved in a war, they are not involved in bombing the Ukraine. That is the Russian government, the Russian army, navy and airforce. If an oligarch is part of those, then yes, he (or she) become fair game. And should the American government object, then perhaps they can pull the papers on a place called IG Farben and certain people that were given options in the US. So how come that BASF and Siemens were allowed to continue AFTER WW2? Did they not have factories in Auschwitz? As I see it, the US does not have a billionaire problem, it has a hypocrisy problem and the refusal to overhaul tax laws is pretty much a top 3 item in American economy. As I personally see it Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan found a way to propel his nation (as a citizen), is he to blame? I do not believe that he is. Yes, some people and a lot of Ukrainians have an issue with that and I accept that the Ukrainians are not happy, they have every right to be, but laws are laws and there is a dangerous line that the west is trying to avoid. It is a dangerous line as it leads to WW3 and these nations are either fully committed or they are not. I cannot judge here, because war is a dangerous play, a World War even more so and there could be nuclear repercussions, we need to accept that and that is the red line that a lot of nations are trying to avoid. It makes perfect sense. If there is on upside to all this (the UAE) it will be that the harbour that they hand the oligarchs is also the roof that stops them from becoming a nuclear target. It could be seen by some as premeditated blackmail. Can we blame them, or blame anyone for having that thought? The UAE must do what is best for the UAE and as I see it, that is exactly what Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan seems to be doing.

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WTF are they doing now?

Even now, even as I am contemplating new things, I am also considering other elements from the previous article (about the slot machines), I figured out a few more things, but it seems wrong to put them here. I could, but who does it serve? Not me and not most people, it might interest the wrong people. Now in case of a previous article where I designed a weapon to sink the Iranian fleet, it makes sense to put it online (not merely to show support to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia), but mainly to show Iran that a lot of people have had enough of them. In the case of the slot machines, it serves the wrong crowd, yet the elements that I did not mention might find its use somewhere else, which might make for an interesting security setting for people like Google and Amazon, so I keep it in my back pocket. Part of it is already in my 5G IP, so there is that. 

My issue today is with the BBC. They gave us this morning (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60736185) ‘Roman Abramovich: New evidence highlights corrupt deals’, I get it, everyone is on the anti-Russia beat. For the mot I do not care, Russia will find out the hard way how stupid they have been. At present they are seen as the weak player. It has taken them 3 weeks to get here and so far Ukraine is still free. The germans in WW2 took most of Western Europe in that same time. My issue is with “The Chelsea owner made billions after buying an oil company from the Russian government in a rigged auction in 1995. Mr Abramovich paid around $250m (£190m) for Sibneft, before selling it back to the Russian government for $13bn in 2005.

They give us “The Russian billionaire has already admitted in a UK court that he made corrupt payments to help get the Sibneft deal off the ground.” As well as “he described in court how the original Sibneft auction was rigged in his favour and how he gave Mr Berezovsky $10m to pay off a Kremlin official” my issue here is that BBC Panorama is stated to be so competent. If so, what case was it? Which court was it? These are parts that I would have added for value. Something like “On [date] in [court location] the following statement was given by Roman Abramovich”, this isn’t rocket science, this is the stage of PROPER journalism! As such the setting of “BBC Panorama has obtained a document that is thought to have been smuggled out of Russia.

The information was given to the programme by a confidential source, who says it was secretly copied from files held on Mr Abramovich by Russian law enforcement agencies” is window dressing at best. I reckon that BBC Panorama likes cloak and dagger words like ‘smuggling’ and ‘secretly’, all whilst the initial issue was in a British court. As for the Russian deal, he used opportunity to get a nice deal that got him $13,000,000,000, to be honest, who cares? So when we are given “The document says that the Russian government was cheated out of $2.7bn in the Sibneft deal – a claim supported by a 1997 Russian parliamentary investigation. The document also says that the Russian authorities wanted to charge Mr Abramovich with fraud”, as such was he really a friend of Putin? The article gives us more questions (overall) than answers. And the fact that ‘Russian authorities’ wanted to charge him and did not calls for even more questions. This looks like a simple draw in the blank space and the lack of information is staggering, is that what BBC Panorama amounts to now? And when we get “trick the government and not pay the money that this company was really worth” we ‘merely’ see a government that did not do its homework and how is that the fault of Abramovich? So when we get these emotional elements with “the document says” what EVIDENCE do they hold, what is factually verifiable? Me? I do not care, I really do not. I do not care for soccer, or Chelsea so there is that too and I find these lame articles from a place that states that they are trustworthy whilst they refuse to properly investigate the murderer of Lady Diana Spencer (Martin Bashir) that is how I see it, so personally I think that BBC Panorama needs to up their game by a lot. This article was a wash, washing what is unclear but it was not the stuff the BBC and BBC Panorama were known for in the past.

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The bad track

I am optionally on the wrong track, yet it is not an accident, it is an intentional choice I make. You see, we see too many ‘populist’ settings going on and I am starting to wonder if we are on the wrong track. Now, most of us are clear. The war in the Ukraine is wrong, Russia started this and there needs to be repercussions. Some have taken to confiscate whatever they could that is owned by Russian Oligarchs (weirdly enough I see almost no residence confiscations in London). Yachts and all other possessions are available. I have mixed feelings. Those with clear support to the Russian government and what is happening now is clear. The rest makes me wonder and for some reason the AP article ‘Fleeing sanctions, oligarchs seek safe ports for superyachts’ (at https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-vladimir-putin-boris-johnson-europe-united-states-10a82777a3b4a6ccafc38c223b659a03) something woke up. It was the quote ““We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets,” President Joe Biden said during his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, addressing the oligarchs. “We are coming for your ill-begotten gains.”” So, please explain to me (with evidence) those ‘ill-begotten gains’? It is a serious question. In this specific case we see Alisher Usmanov a metals magnate and early investor in Facebook. So how much did Facebook make him? Is that ill-begotten? There are two trains of thoughts. The first is that we see a new McCarthy mindset starting, which is their choice, but let’s be honest about it. The second track is that the US is so bankrupt that it is now in a stage to confiscate whatever it can to survive. I am not siding with Alisher Usmanov. And if he has done wrong, fine. But in that case this article was a piss poor job and then some. He was also one of the initial people connected to Mail.ru, so he seems to be a smart cookie who got involved with IT projects when it had the greatest impact, nothing ill begotten, merely good timing. Now, this does not mean that I am right, or that they are wrong. There is too much that I do not know. But this comes across as a legalised form of ‘Tax the rich’ which is now transformed into ‘confiscate whatever the rich has’ a democrat party BS approach. So what will happen when it is suddenly the wealth of Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Sergei Brin, Larry  Page, Tim. Cook and Jeff Bezos dealing with the bills the American government cannot deal with because they refused to clean house for over two decades? 

The AP does give us at the end “But actually seizing the behemoth boats could prove challenging. Russian billionaires have had decades to shield their money and assets in the West from governments that might try to tax or seize them”, which is fair enough. I am still in the mindset that SOME oligarchs should pay, not sure if all should, but I do admit I really do not know any of them and the media cannot be trusted, they are all on the populist track. OK, not all, but way to many of them are. We can consider that Roman Abramovich was either good or bad, I do not know. Too be honest, I never cared for football (read: soccer) so I am a little out of touch there. But as far as I can tell, everything Roman Abramovich did was to ensure the stage of Chelsea and it’s continuation. We can boast that giving the sale of Chelsea to Ukraine is a political push (the man is a politician after all) and a few other sides as well, and there perhaps his deception worked. Because I personally believe that the man is a soccer nut trying to preserve Chelsea. Does that make him evil? I personally do not think so. I also understand that some policies will hurt the good and the bad, but there is an increased feeling that the US is doing it for other reasons and as the media have no given us a really good stage of where all these funds go, we should wonder what is going on. 

I am not stating that what is done is wrong, but I am wondering why certain things were done and WHERE these funds are going to. Is that wrong? So I might be on the wrong track, but it is mainly because no one is properly illuminating the right track and the media are all about ‘the quote’ but are less about the clear explanation. I merely looked at two people, the US has a list of 96 oligarchs. I reckon there are clearly a few super pro-Putin people there, and we get it, it will rain on the good and the bad alike, but it seems that the media has a lot to make up for, especially when it comes to properly informing us, because that lack set me on the track I am on now.

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One sided media

We are falling for another one sided attack on the people, pretending to talk for the people, but what is going on? To be honest, less than a day ago I did not really care, but now things are changing and not for the good. It might have started yesterday, but the setting ‘UK government may legislate to stop European Super League, says minister’ makes it a larger issue. Let’s be clear, I checked several sources and they all attack the European Super League, not one, I say again NOT ONE gives us a clear timeline and the other side. So when I saw ‘FIFA voices disapproval of proposed breakaway European Super League plan’ with the added “warning they must face up to the reality of their decision”, yes just like the consequences of large settings of corruption by FIFA, in this, FIFA needs to keep its mouth shut! We get some information (at https://acmilan.theoffside.com/2021/4/19/22391526/official-ac-milan-is-one-of-the-founding-members-of-the-european-super-league-uefa-fifa-lega-serie-a) yet the news groups give us nothing, merely wave after wave of negativity. It makes me wonder where their interests lie and personally I think it is whomever has the most money. 

So the setting where we are informed is not coming, merely politicians shouting, media flaming and no real information. I voiced yesterday that this might be the consequence of unadulterated expansionism and I personally feel that it might be a larger reason, yes more money for the owners might play a role, but when I see “20 participating clubs with 15 Founding Clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season” gives view to a competitive side, all whilst several sources give voice in the setting like “The joy of the game’s current structure, one that has kept people coming back year after year, generation after generation, is that even the most seemingly endless period of frustration is made bearable by the possibility, however remote, that one day you could see them rise up”, yes you might voice it that way, yet ‘joy of the game’s current structure’ also implies the funds as they are ‘distributed’ now, as these teams fall away, advertisements will take a different tour, a tour that the power people are not happy about, and such they are all crying. If there was a real concern for the people, there would be neutral interviews with the owners of these breakaway teams. Do you think that people will NOT watch AC Milan-Real Madrid? Do you think that the fans of these two teams are shutting their eyes? No! But media money will now take a different path and the media is crying like a little bitch taking the lames as far as they can, because that has worked so often in the past. 

Is this league a good idea? I do not know, I do not really care about football, but I do know that there is a limit to expansionism and greed driven people will never accept the term ‘saturation’. A stage larger and larger in football, with well over 90 teams in Europe? Yup, you are looking at 4000 minutes per weekend, all that time for advertisement, all the media vying for those coins. None of that is mentioned. Yet we get “Now, more than ever, we must protect the entire football community – from the top level to the grassroots – and the values of competition and fairness at its core”. Fairness?  Are you freaking kidding me? Real Madrid has an estimated budget of 616 million Euro. You really think that Dutch PSV, German Werder Bremen, or British Newcastle United has anywhere near that level of budget? As I see it for FIFA and UEFA this will be about loss of revenue and we need to see this clearly, but the media cannot be trusted, they have too much to lose. You see if they were fair, their would be a clear interview with those breakaway teams, but I see nothing of that. And it gets to be worse, when these teams breakaway, the bulk of all football fans, they will switch to that channel, that is the fear and I believe that if FIFA had cleaned house half a decade ago and stopped expansionism things would not be that bad, it is the clear consequence on what I see as unadulterated greed. The denial of saturated sport venues. Let’s be clear, do you have time and the drive to watch 4000 minutes of soccer every weekend? We know, the ‘smaller’ teams will get a fragmented highlight expose, with the fill match on some other channel (for the local fans), but the breakaway groups are a massive drain on funds. There is no mention of that, is there? We get headlines like ‘European Super League planners condemned as ‘snakes’ by UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin’, with quotes like “he hoped UEFA could ban Super League clubs and players “as soon as possible” from all of its competitions”, “Betrayal was a theme Ceferin was to return to frequently as he denounced the 12 clubs as “the dirty dozen”” and “I have seen many things in my life. I was a criminal lawyer. I have never seen people like that,” he said, “It is hard to believe the level of immorality of some people”, well as we saw the unquestioned actions by a certain FIFA member, his words are hollow and meaningless, fear mongering in the hope to turn things around, but the crux remains expansionism and the media have too large a slice of that cake and the media is not making any serious effort in giving us a real interview of the breakaway teams, and with real I do mean an interview where they give us THEIR side. And in all this, it is the interview of Ceferin in 2019, where we see “The two finalists, Arsenal and Chelsea, were only able to allocate 6,000 tickets each to their supporters. Plus, fans wanting to attend the final have to make a long and expensive journey”, so that is one side, but according to what I saw, we see that Stamford Bridge stadium has 40,834 places, so what happened to the other 25,000 seats? I get it, others want to see it too, but shouldn’t the fans of these two teams have a much larger share of the tickets? As such, who got the lion share of the ‘allocated’ tickets? Perhaps it is all on the up and up, but the stadium would prefer to give ITS fans a much larger share, and Ceferin gives us 6,000 seats. There is a lot more going on and all these funds from the breakaway teams are up for grabs, as are the media contracts, which are now not covered, making the media cry like little bitches. And as we see Boris Johnson give us “has promised football groups that the government will consider using what he called “a legislative bomb” to stop English clubs joining a breakaway European Super League, as official efforts to thwart the plan were stepped up” (source: the Guardian) With all due respect, how the fuck is that any of your business? This is not political, the media, UEFA, FIFA and the advertisers are making this political, which is not the same. 

Sports is one place where the nanny state mentality (social equality) will never ever work and in that stage expansionism is not the solution, it never ever was and now that there is a group of upper league teams, the stage is set. As I see it, it is the consequence of greed, is it not interesting that the media is not picking up on that either, they pick up on greed as a stone to throw towards the European Super League. I am not stating that this is not the case, cash might be involved, but I reckon it is more about FIFA and UEFA losing out, then the ESL is gaining. It is my view, and I might be wrong, I will admit to that, but the lack of neutral media makes me doubt that I am wrong, I still might be, I get that.

But consider the news, the accusation and the flames, all whilst we see no decent response offered by the other side. This might just be another example of filtered information, filtered to the needs of the big three. Shareholders, stakeholders and advertisers. It is merely my point of view on the matter.

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How to design a death trap

The Grenfell inquiry is still going on and the last testimony from Dr Barbara Lane is not just an eye opener, it shows two elemental parts. The first is that the ‘stay put’ scenario could never have worked, the second one is that the cladding itself had the additional issue of getting set against combustible materials. That does not make the person who decided on the cladding innocent, it merely proves that the people behind it all failed in spectacular ways. The first part given is “Styrofoam core panels were installed between the new windows and around kitchen vents; ethylene propylene diene terpolymer was used around the new window frames; and polyurethane expanding foam was used to fill joints in the insulation and in gaps between new windows and walls – all combustible materials. She also found combustible polymeric foam above some windows, even though there was no evidence of it being specified, and polyisocyanurate foam that was not in the design” This states that not only was there more combustible materials, there was additional combustible materials that were not even part of the design. So someone acted, someone approved those additional costs. Then we get the first killer. With “horizontal cavity barriers designed to stop fire spreading through the facade had wrongly been installed vertically. They feature an intumescent strip that is meant to expand and close the gap during a fire, but some of these barriers were installed facing into the existing concrete, rendering them useless. She said some of the required cavity barriers had simply not been installed around windows“, we see not merely a construction error, a direct flaw on parts that would stop fires, or at least largely decrease the speed was done wrong and now we see that the building had ‘vent columns‘ to allow the fire to reach maximum speed. At this point, we have issues with procurement, with the installation and construction inspection. Optionally, the architectural setting was wrong, which gives us a failing on nearly every level from the council to the person telling the man with the drill what to do and where to do it. I think that this is a first for me, to see failing to this degree. The stay put was basically a death sentence in 30 minutes. It is the additional “more than 100 fire doors inside Grenfell did not meet fire regulations” that gives the light that the corridors would have been as deadly as the apartment to stay put in, in close to 30 minutes. She gives a few more points, but at this stage, what she gives out is that the killing blow would have been close to a given when those remained inside beyond the first 15 minutes. The article ends with “The same compartmentalisation strategy was essential for firefighting internally, which relied on a working firefighting lift, protected lobbies, ways of getting water up the buildings, a protected space between the firefighting stair and the flats. All of these failed to one degree or another“, now we see that Grenfell was a death-trap for tenants and firefighters alike, the fact that no firefighter died that day is a small miracle to say the least.

So in all this, when we consider the Telegraph article a day earlier (a clear reason for a second Leveson), we see a different side. The article job is a hatchet job by Hayley Dixon, a person who should not be allowed in journalism (a personal belief on mine due to this one article). So when we get back to the title ‘Grenfell survivors question why it took 15 minutes for firefighters to tackle initial blaze‘, and as Hayley Dixon published this at 21:30 local time the previous day. Was this the result of writers block? Was this a mere emotional writing of 104 words to meet a deadline requirement? If so, how irresponsible is the editor? When we put the Telegraph article next to the Independent, the Guardian and the testimony of Dr Barbara Lane, we are confronted with the emotional push of some kind? You see, the setting we see now, the videos that are online and the pictures clearly show that there was nothing normal about the fire and that Grenfell was a constructed death-trap in the shape of a Roman candle. Additional views (from the Independent) gave us “One survivor reported that building’s dry risers – vertical pipes used by firefighters to distribute water to multiple levels of a building – were not working“, so in all this, how was the Telegraph article not merely a waste of space and existence?

This entire fish gets another flavour when we consider an earlier BBC article (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40330789). In this we see “Four ministers – all from the Department for Communities and Local Government – received letters but did not strengthen the regulations. Ronnie King, a former chief fire officer who sits on the group, says the government has ignored repeated warnings about tower block safety. “We have spent four years saying ‘Listen, we have got the evidence, we’ve provided you with the evidence, there is clear public opinion towards this, you ought to move on this’,” said Mr King.”” we would expect that at least some move would be made and even as the cladding and other issues now showing would not have stopped anything, better regulations might have at least delayed enough for people to reconsider getting out. So who gets to be on the front page? Yes it is Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams – who was then a minister in the department – replied: “I have neither seen nor heard anything that would suggest that consideration of these specific potential changes is urgent and I am not willing to disrupt the work of this department by asking that these matters are brought forward“. This can be countered by the BBC (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40422922, where we see “London Fire Brigade warned all 33 councils about the potential risks of external cladding on tower blocks in May this year, the BBC has learned. It followed tests on panels from a high rise that suffered a fire last August. The insulation panels were made up of polystyrene and plywood, and tests concluded they were the likely cause of the fire spreading up the outside“, so there was clear evidence from May 2017 (after his ‘reign’), yet the issues had been clear put forward in 2014 when he was there. He remains in our sights when we realise that this had been going on since 2009, as it was highlighted at the coroner’s inquest into a fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell in 2009, which led to the deaths of six people, including three children. So at that point, the words of Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams become a statement of falsehood the moment he spoke them in 2014. When we hear ‘I am not willing to disrupt the work of this department by asking that these matters are brought forward‘, whilst there is a clear coroner’s inquest regarding 6 people, including 3 children, when did ‘disrupt the work of this department‘ become an accepted answer?

I am not sure if we could blame the London Fire Brigade from walking away in the future and let 100% of London burn down, you know, they would not want to ‘disrupt any department‘ by caring, now would they?

The fact is just slightly too dark when we consider that there was ample evidence up to 9 years before the Grenfell blaze. If there is one positive, we might see a change where councils need the office of Dany Cotton, or the office of her previous post where she was the Director of Safety and Assurance at the London Fire Brigade, to sign off on any refurbishment before allowing it to happen. It would optionally stop every council from seeking a ‘short cut’ to adhere to the wishes of rich investors. I am mentioning this, because it will have to be said again and again that the refurbishment and cladding was added “a low-cost way of improving the front of the building – was chosen in part so that the tower would look better when seen from the conservation areas and luxury flats that surround North Kensington, according to planning documents, as well as to insulate it” (source: The Independent). So as luxury flat owners nearby thought Grenfell was too yucky, it ended up being upgraded from apartment building to Roman candle.

I believe that the testimony of Dr Barbara Lane is one of the most damaging to the council, the constructors and decision makers in the refurbishment of Grenfell we have ever seen, the question will turn soon enough into: ‘how many death-traps are there in London?’ It is merely my personal view that there is a level of complacency to set the economic values of London in a way that might be way too dangerous for the people living there. If we see these issues in North Kensington and Chelsea, what would we find if there was an actual serious look at a council like Islington? The fact that Islington is overcrowded, it is growing in the sparkling area for socialites and professionals, so the visibility is high. Even as the London Metropolitan Police is working hard to lower the rising crime number, the impact of a Grenfell like event in Islington will do more than merely burn a building and the people in there. now, let’s also realise that Islington is nowhere near the worst, Also, the high rise situation seems a lot better, yet the overcrowded part seems to give ‘rise’ to other considerations and whilst we all focus on high rises, there are other ways for fires to propagate. Another reason to raise Islington is that so far its housing strategy (2014-2019) looks nice (as all brochures are), we also see that house prices are close to 50% higher than the London average, so the damage is a lot bigger if things do go pear shaped. I also raised it as I know it decently well, yet the brochure on page 29, who gives us all the acts and strategies and legislation gives no voice to the fire dangers. The Housing Act 2004 does give two mentions, ‘Consultation with fire and rescue authorities in certain cases‘ as well as ‘miscellaneous repeals etc. in relation to fire hazards‘, yet there is more. You see even as the brochure might look less sexy by mentioning an issue like: “Depending on the type of property and how it is occupied some or all of the following will apply:

  • the Building Regulations 2010 Part B
  • Housing Health & Safety Rating System
  • The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The issue we see with Grenfell is the lack of fire prevention focus, the Housing Strategy for Islington 2014-2019 shows that there is a mere reference to the Housing Act 2004, yet housing strategy is a lot larger towards tenancy and Asset management, and in a place as overcrowded as Islington it could become a problem. Now we understand that Grenfell is only a year old, yet there is additional evidence on several levels that this is an issue that had been going on since 2009, so even as we ‘brand’ Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams by his extremely poorly chosen words. He is not alone in not having a much larger fire safety focus. The question becomes if the councils were much stronger on fire prevention, would Grenfell have been prevented? My personal believe is that this would be an absolute certain. The failings that Dr Barbara Lane gave testimony on reflects the failing on nearly every level, so as more levels need to mandatory look at certain hazards, issues would have been brought to light (a personal belief), in this London (not just Kensington and Chelsea) have a much larger workload to content with and these changes would require a reflection on a multitude of levels in the coming year. Even as we accept that voices from Islington stated “Fire safety in Islington. We are the landlord/freeholder for over 35,000 households, and we take our responsibility for your safety very seriously“, we accept that this is a response to Grenfell, yet the housing strategy also shown that there was not enough focus in the past. One additional page in that brochure on certain (read: specific) hazards could have given light that the Islington council had that focus, we now merely see (read: expect) that this is not entirely the case.

London and a lot more metropolitan areas like London mind you will have to adjust their current course on actions and considerations when it comes to fire hazard, because we do not want the London population to wake up looking at the speculative sights shown below from a distance.

Rotterdam 1940

 

OR

Hawaii 2012

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Rulers of London

The times are changing, that has always been known, yet the events made me remember some political satire Newspaper comic. In it you see two Arabs, one stated “Did you get anything nice today”, and the other Arab stated smiling “I bought Bond Street, Regent Street and Piccadilly“. The image was clear, the Arabs had loads of cash and they were spending. That image remained for the longest of times and as oil went to $147 per barrel in 2008, the cash was good, because the US needed millions of barrels per day. Yet now the sands have shifted, the stage is set to what I personally call a very nice building has been sold to the Chinese. The controversial Walkie Talkie Tower has been acquired for £1.3 billion. It was purchased by the Lee Kum Kee condiment company, makers of Oyster sauce. (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jul/27/walkie-talkie-tower-stark-reminder-of-forces-that-rule-the-city) we can read all about it and about the infamous architect who brought Star Wars to London as the building had the ability to send a sun based death ray to the streets, and as quoted “succeeded in melting the bumper of a Jaguar, blistering painted shop fronts and singeing carpets“. Yes, the building became a little too futuristic. In opposition to Feargus O’Sullivan, I do not consider it to be the ‘the ugliest British structure‘, it is actually ‘very Apple‘. I would love to see the new Apple G6 Tower to look like that (preferably as a RISC system of course). Yet in his article (on https://www.citylab.com/design/2015/09/londons-worst-building/403684/), I see that there is no reason not to admire the Victorian buildings in the foreground. Weirdly enough, the photo he added to the article (by Frank Augstein), shows that there is place for the old and the new. It shows clearly that as residential shortages grow that there will be a transfer to different styles of buildings. I would never want to see the Victorian buildings leave the face of London, in opposite directions, we can look at the Battersea Power Station and see how this evolves, yet there is a side not reckoned with, for several reasons there needs to be the evolution and growth of social housing. I like the blend as an offering for developers, yet as the Malaysian consortium pulled a fast one to maximise profits and diminish the amount of social apartments, changes will need to be made.

We can wonder whether the current approach is the best one, or should we examine the options? There is another option that works for developers and the London city council. A company called Nearmap (at https://go.nearmap.com/desktop-assessment-empowers-appraisers), has a ‘Desktop Property Assessment that Empowers Appraisers‘, yet as I looked at the paper and some of the presentations, I figured out that it had other abilities too. In metropolitan areas, when you change the scope and add a dimension, you can do something entirely unexpected. The idea came with the quote by Mal Harrison, project manager at Zinfra. The quote was “Nearmap’s accurate photo imagery is extremely helpful when risk workshopping remote from site as well as reducing site visits required to plan the works“, this is a well stated compliment to the makers of Nearmap. I figured they missed something else, another larger player as a potential client. Not to their disadvantage mind you, but they missed a range of tycoons that could have been looking at as well (for the price of a 7 figure number per seat). You see, consider the current planning settings in London, now consider the Nearmap solution, not just with the London area mapped, with in addition, the roads, infrastructure and ‘plumbing’. Now consider that a developer would want to set up a new high-rise, the options are Poplar, Beckton and Rotherhithe. Now consider the elements, Nearmap could have the ability to ascertain risks that usually are done in person, with proper parameters set the data might reveal options not considered before. You see, most people will shy away from Beckton because it is by the airport, yet new buildings have the options of superior sound cancellations. In addition, when considering that housing prices fluctuate between £2200 and £11500 per meter, the risk factor becomes a more intense issue. Yes, we know that everyone wants to be a developer in Chelsea or Kensington, yet when the option is offered (as an example) as the building in either Beckton of Rotherhithe would get a profit close to £2100 per square meter, yet Poplar offers £2700 per square meter profit, yet when looking at the elements, the risk factor for Poplar might be up by 17%, in the long term, how will development costs and delays impact the choice? When the profit margins change, so does the risk to some extent, an expert can make all the calculations, yet with additional solutions, the risk could be anticipated in advance by a much better degree. That premise holds equal ground for councils, when they can see the evolution of risk, they can in equal measure take steps to lower the risk and become more appealing for the developers to approach them.

Good business is where you find it.

That becomes more and more of a slogan for London. It is no longer just, because it is London, it will become increasingly where the margins are. Even as we see that the Battersea location had hit snags and there was suddenly the twisting arms of local councils to concede in retrenching of 25% of the social housing offer, or else… Councils will soon no longer have that option to merely give in, there will be long term repercussions and they will count sooner rather than later. The rich don’t care and the councils can ill afford the consequences they would be confronted with. There is the chance that certain places like Los Angeles, Tokyo and Kolkata would get the effect of ghost towns and London is not that far away from that. It is so nice that a place like Kolkota has luxurious places like Rajahat new town, South Kolkota and Alipore, yet when the sun goes down, we will see that the infrastructure not merely flows away, it is reduced to zero. That seems peaceful, yet it is in actuality very dangerous. As the travel times increases, these people will more and more eagerly take any job that is closer to home and takes away elements in the cost of living (fuel and travel time). As the infrastructure remains absent, the value of these places will drop like a stone. In addition there would be an increasing chance of crime rise as the area remains empty at night. As people are pushed more and more away as we see in London, there is an increasing risk that not only the businesses go away, as these places are more and more settled with high end owners who are there less than 30% of the time, those remaining will find it harder to get the things they really like to have at a moment’s notice.

How real is that risk?

Well, at present it is really an unrealistic stretch to call London an upcoming Ghost town (read: Ghost Council), yet some areas are already too empty like Kensington, where an astounding amount of places are unused. They will not turn London into a ghost town, yet as the drop continues, having a house there seems fine, yet when you become dependent on businesses from Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush, taking a walk to get a few things becomes a much less rewarding event (at £10880 per square meter). Plenty of people do not feel that way, which is fair enough, but the changes will also change the vibe of a city, which has dangerous consequences in the long term, that is an issue for ANY city. That is also a real main reason to not decrease but to increase the social housing percentage in places like that. Those are the people who bring in the need for Pizza, for groceries on the corner, which brings in the restaurant getting the good stuff from shops like that. Growing the micro economies of life goods is what brings life and traffic to places like that, soon thereafter not the outrageous mega night clubs, the a few smaller bars, the places London was always famous for will re-erect themselves and soon a large complex becomes the magnet for a growing infrastructure. As long term empty houses (read: unsold places) have risen by 25% and in Newham (by London City Airport) has fallen 55%, we see another diminished risk of choosing Beckton. All this would be possible to set when we see this implemented as factors in mapping solutions like Nearmap.

It is a given that houses in transit with short terms become increasingly important to developers, and as such they will need to ascertain risk in different ways. there is a consideration that the Battersea Power House will be the last of the truly large development projects in London for some time to come, so the need to diversify and select something unexpected. Some state that Aldwych Station could become the premise for underground cycling, which also implies that as an underground place for student studios, it could be a place to revitalise the area. The idea of a path clear to Holborn, with apartments, studios and 1 bedroom places on 1.5 floors, could give rise to a lot more than merely revitalise the area. The fact that it is next to King’s College and halls of Justice as well as Inns of Court is almost weird that no one had moved into that area sooner.

Yet we digress, it started with the good businesses in London and the impact that foreign investors have on the place. As we see the increasing number of Asians who struck it rich move into London we also see a changing dynamic of London itself. A first connection here takes us back to 1999 (at http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1369585/1/LDPREPSUM%2026.11.99.pdf), when Sir Peter Hall and Michael Edwards of Bartlett School, University College London gave us the works with a slightly altered view of London’s spatial economy. In this the introduction gives us “The issues have been discussed in a practical way to help explore how far the proposals could be taken forward by the new London Government as real contributions to improving the working of the London economy, helping to provide more and better jobs, and to making transport more efficient“, which had traction and a level of importance in those years as the wild growth of London as Financial services brought billions to London, an issue partially ignored after the meltdowns of 2004 and 2008, both affecting the UK (read: London) economy, the plans have not (as far as I am aware) been picked up to the degree it should have. In addition, as the development game changed with foreign investors as we see it, the plan is not completely up to scrap to the degree the councils would need them to be. An element discussed in the ‘old’ paper is “PPG6 policies should restrict further Out of Town Centre growth in and around London. Within the framework of these policies there is scope – and an urgent need – to innovate ways which will give centres and local shops a new lease of life and reduce Londoners’ needs to travel“, yet (at https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/the_london_plan_2016_jan_2017_fix.pdf), which seems counterproductive to the need of London city, they are no longer actually valid, and more of a guideline, yet (at https://www.sepa.org.uk/media/60125/ppg-6-working-at-construction-and-demolition-sites.pdf), you will wonder on how it relates. We see with not merely the changing dynamics, but with the need to know the risks which starts at step 1 of their ‘presentation‘, with “Identify surface waters and groundwater on, under or adjacent to your site. This also includes any small (dry) ditches capable of transporting water” and “Find out if the groundwater is in a protected zone as you may need to take extra steps to prevent pollution“. Now, the consultants would know things like that, yet when were they last mapped? And this is merely one city, a solution like Nearmap has the ability to list the level of risks on several levels. the document from Sir Peter Hall (and others) gives us “The main questions here concern the spatial fields Market, where Life have dropped a major proposal after transferring from open outcry to electronic trading, and the very large Bishops gate Goods Yard site which is currently the subject of an architectural competition organised by the Architecture Foundation. The latter in particular suffers from poor accessibility, located half a mile north of Liverpool Street station although close to the present Shoreditch terminus of the East London Line“, yet it is merely one of close to 30 elements that could have been mapped and weighted as a risk in one mapping solution. In all this, the time that developers need to ascertain their possible margins of profit could be negated in one clear updated solution that moves the discussion from ‘possible margin‘ elements to ‘optional margin‘ available. That is quite the change of venue and with the capitalist Chinese population growing, attracting them To London to see if the social housing could be resolved to a better degree requires developers and councils to have a much better grasp of the risks. The nice part is that the Chinese have always been in favour of good business, as that also reflects the better margins of personal (read: family) gain. Even now as we see people write excellent materials on a Dynamic London, based on open data, we see in addition that most are not looking at the margins of risk and the additional risk of margins as they are impacted by this so called dynamic London, in this is see that there are additional paths of data requirement, not merely in mapping, but in the need for a predictive risk path, because it is not merely what is known today that matters, it is the need for considering the risk over the next 10 years that gives rise to the profitability of other new projects, or even more optionally rewarding are the options for the discarded and abandoned places that are in locations where new options will not come, on what the options are for those places.

Now we might be happy that there are foreign investors in the UK, yet the part we seem to ignore is that the Saudi investments alone was set to be worth £60 billion in 2016. That is just the Saudi side and that is not including the Qatari’s with massive contributions in Mayfair and other places. Now we see a growing Asian population investing and in all this the London Councils might have to consider that when £100 billion is invested, these people expect to get well above £150 out of that, that is how investments work so as such to keep the money flowing the councils would needed to consider some time ago where growth is optional and how to offer it, not merely in spoken work, but in the facilitation of solutions. Because no matter how sexy London seems to them (for now), the moment that Paris offers a much better deal, these people will take their billions 283 miles in a SSE (read: South South East) direction.

In this, no matter who the non elected ‘rulers’ of London are, if the profit moves, so do they and they will do it in a heartbeat!

 

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Sex Driven Developers

There are always ways to find weaknesses in government; there is a decent chance that we find them on a daily basis. Yet, how must we react when the foundation of those making the decisions are now in a runt of enabling? What happens when the government first decides on cyber rules for the safety of all whilst opening a bordello around the corner so that those in dire need of affordable housing are getting screwed over?

This is what is on the goose feather of Julia Kollewe as she dipped it into the ink jar and gave us ‘Battersea Power Station developer slashes number of affordable homes‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/21/battersea-power-station-affordable-homes-almost-halved-by-developer). She is trying to wake up pretty much everyone with this and it should wake us all up. You see, the next decade is about the dire need of affordable housing, London is in danger of alienating the very population that is the means for its survival. You see, in my mind, greed is not a ‘technical issue‘. Greed merely is and never goes away. A technical issue is when you get the cement batter wrong in one shipment, a technical issue is when you are looking at a square and you calculated for 5 corners. When you have a £9 billion project and you have to redesign 40%, you are in my humble opinion screwing people over for your need of greed and profit whilst ‘putain‘ the 250 people now left outside in the cold (pardon my French). So as we see that someone clever from these Malaysian investors, are now trying to maximise profit by slashing the affordable housing part as we read: “The affordable home proposals amounted to 15% of the total 4,239 homes planned, which included luxury pads ranging from £800,000 for a studio atop the former power station to £4m for a four-bedroom flat (the three penthouses have yet to be priced).” there is no other option but to fight back. In this there are two options left to the government. One is to get the list of investors and they are to be banned from any other real estate investment in the UK for 5 years. The second option would be that if the apartments are uninhabited for over 40% of the time, there must be a large service surcharge to the building services. Once that these investors have to report these surcharges in the upcoming sales bill, they might have to let slip some of their expected profits. In all this, the ‘compensation‘ of mentioned “build the 386 affordable homes three years earlier than previously envisaged, which means residents will receive their keys in 2020. They will be located in apartment blocks near the power station“, is only a small band aid, because it is not just about time, it is about space and location, the space of 250 apartments is now gone! We sometimes state that no man is an island, but the UK kind of is, so that means that once the space is gone, it is definitively gone. We also get the quote “an assessment of the profits the developer expects to make. Independent adviser BNP Paribas advised the council that it is “very unlikely” that the 250 homes will materialise“. So when we see this ‘independent’ party. Have they been on this project from the very beginning? You see, if that is true than we see a feigned level of incompetence. From my point of view, BNP Paribas is not just the largest bank in France; it is one of the largest banks in the world, so when they make an £9B ‘oopsie’, something else is going on. From my speculated view is that they had made for whatever plan they could offer so that they could get the project, whilst down the track they adjusted the view to get the results their investors needed and submitted the new plans so that they end up getting what they wanted in the first place. I cannot tell how deep BNP Paribas is into this as ‘Independent adviser‘ implies that they could have been called in down the track, not initially. In support of this view the article also gives us: “Keith Garner, a local architect who has campaigned against the Battersea project for years, said: “Underlying it, the financial model is all wrong. A developer-led project to conserve, repair and bring back in to use a famous London landmark is turning in to a predictable disaster“. This now gives us two parts. The first is that this is not just coming to view and even as the lord Mayor Sadiq Khan is only now coming into view, his administration as well as the previous one, will now need to show clearly that due diligence was maintained throughout the project including the view and calculations before approval was given. This puts Boris Johnson equally on the hot chair as his team comes under scrutiny. If we are to maintain the push for affordable housing, we cannot accept screw ups of this magnitude. Because once the cashable buildings are gone, it is over and no other option remains. It is the curse of sitting on an island. Keith Garner has been vocal in the past, going back even before January 2015, yet from this point onwards we see Keybridge House in Vauxhall where only 4.5% became affordable (19 out of 419), it seems to me that when we tally that part the failure is a lot larger than most realise. Even then there was a list for the PowerStation with a setting of ‘3,444 new homes at the power station 560, or 16%, will be affordable‘, so the list got slashed before and it got slashed again. Actually, the numbers changed as 3,444 became 4239, so there has been more ‘revamping’ it seems that a project this much in flux implies that certain elements were either never set or set in a questionable way. Now, we get that things change, there are always details that need ‘alteration‘ yet when you ‘suddenly‘ add 795 apartments (which under normal conditions seem to be 2-4 additional towers, we should agree that ‘questionable‘ is very much the better word to use (without getting to rude and rely on the ‘putain’ word).

Another issue is seen in “Officers appreciate the level of stresses a scheme of this size and complexity has and that the main priorities of the scheme have been the conservation and redevelopment of the listed power station building, the delivery of the Northern Line extension and new underground station and the jobs to be created as part of the new town centre“, you see, as investors are always happy to sue the pants of any official, the mention of ‘delivery of the Northern Line extension and new underground station‘ is not a problem to the Malaysian investors, so if the UK government had impeded the development of an agreed project, the government get the invoice. So there is now the implied issue that there was a mere trade off and 250 affordable homes were scrapped. Is that not a view you would envision? In addition ‘jobs to be created as part of the new town centre‘ sounds nice, but how is that part of the powerhouse building project? So as this all comes to heads in “A report by the Wandsworth council planning officer recommends that the proposals be approved, ahead of a meeting of the planning committee on Thursday evening“, there is the speculated issue that the Wandsworth council made a right mess of things and they are trying to appease the situation so that they keep their jobs and possibly avoid the wrath of parliament, there was just the need to scrap housing for 250 people who desperately needed them.

So, feel free to object and oppose my way of thinking, but that is how I see it. I understand that the UK needs economy, it needs houses and it needs jobs, but when a limited resource is wasted to this degree we need to ask questions loudly and there needs to be the revision of policies to make certain that affordable housing remains at the top of the list, and remains the top priority of the list of achievements. Yet in the last 2-3 years, there is additional evidence growing that what was a desperate need is ignored by those, because it does not really impact them.

Yet the 2015 article also gives some opposition. We see this in “Tony Travers, director of the Greater London group at the London School of Economics, says: “In fairness, the developer is being required to pay for a lot of other things. The land has to be used very intensely to produce enough yield to pay for the things that the government used to pay for.”“. OK, this is fair enough. My response would be: ‘I agree, but that is the assessment of an investment opportunity. The numbers are done and in the end it is either feasible or it is not!‘ So the investor could have walked away from it. If the government had found the £9B, it has the option to do it themselves, with a very different balance, and perhaps with only one penthouse, the other 2 could have become 3 3-bedrooms apartment each. In addition, as it is now less about profit, there could have been 900 affordable houses instead of the 636 initially envisioned. As I read the articles over time and the sources given, it seems to me that orchestration might have been at the centre of things from the beginning. That feeling is gotten from ‘The land has to be used very intensely to produce enough yield to pay for the things that the government used to pay for‘, you see, like some naval projects, where voting for adjustments is often much better than being the messenger on a failed project, because those investors would sue, and the eagerness of the Wandsworth council implies to some degree that there would be a case and a court settlement of £9B might not be the best way to go forward. And as we see in the past “Many flats were sold off-plan and, still unbuilt, are back on the market at higher prices. Just before Christmas one unbuilt studio flat in the power station, which had sold for close to £1m, was back on the market for £1.4m. Last week, estate agent Chestertons was reported to have other unbuilt flats on the market for £865,000 – £150,000 more than their original asking price” implies that investors are getting rich fast, so the entire drop of 250 affordable apartments is becoming more and more of a debatable issue.

Yet the final issue not seen in the latter article is most damning on both the houses of Sadiq Khan and Boris Johnson. The quote “the lack of a master plan for the area” is damning because it implies that the area could lose its identity, and I am willing to buy either a coffee with a cream cheese bagel with Salmon if they can clearly oppose the drop of value for the loss of identity validity. Those who truly move to London want to be in an area. They want to be part of Islington, Hammersmith or Chelsea. Some will prefer Southwark because of Hay’s galleria, yet in reality they might just do it because the hookers give much better value in that borough. Whatever reason we hear the identity of the place matters. And this requires a clear master plan. to some degree when it is in the hands of foreign investors, things go into flux, yet a clear master plan is essential the prevent London of becoming an anonymous place of chaos.

In this we remain at minus 250 apartments. You see, no matter how grand it all looks, the immediate need for infrastructure is simple. When the people have to travel too far to work, the job will no longer be a feasible solution. Even as some are pointing to an extension of the Northern Line, the simple truth is that it is an additional 15 minutes, meaning that some people will travel 90 minutes each way to get to (or from) a place where they can afford to live, on top of that travel costs are rising too. So the new place ends up being a ghost town without infrastructure. How is that an interesting investment when some could go in and out of this ghost town to burglar it into heaven as they get to do that unopposed? How many paintings and electronics need to be removed before the investors seek another place to go to?

All elements that seem to have been missed, all part of a master plan not in place and all linked to investment and economic plans that might have been dubious from the beginning. As I personally see it, a lack of long term oversight, checks and balances all cast aside for the quick profit and the marketable view of mentioning, to merely look good. And now Lord Mayor Sadiq Khan has the mess on his plate and he gets to see what might be salvaged, because when I see ‘A report by the Wandsworth council planning officer recommends that the proposals be approved‘, I wonder what has not hit the light of day yet and what else has to be sacrificed (or additional costs received) in the next upcoming year. Would you not wonder (read: worry) about that very same thing?

 

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